Tamar's Plan

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, stood near the corpse of Tisthorrak as the aboleth gasped the answer to a final question put to it… The gate that brought forth Amenoth was opened by Omet-Arzuk with the aid of Illemketh.

None of the heroes had heard of the former, but Digby recognized the name of the latter as an ancient god of the sky and weather. He had seen the god’s symbol above the altar where he found the Horn of Craeborg. Even though they were exhausted, Gin pushed them to move forward into the submerged tunnel toward where they hoped to find Tisthorrak’s lair and possibly Intuneric Eternal.

They entered an air-filled chamber and came under attack by creatures that resembled stalactites. The roper grasped the companions and drew them toward it for a vicious bite. Smaller creatures dropped from the ceiling, randomly piercing the heroes. The beasts were slain, but not without difficulty and the near death of Gin.

Greatly fatigued, they took a rest to tend to their wounds and examine a few objects they had discovered. Malum explored the tunnel ahead and found it opened into an immense submerged cavern. In the middle of the cavern was a dome that held a large mechanical object with purple orbs floating around it. However, several creatures that appeared to be made of mud ambushed Malum, sending her back to the void.

Crunchy came up with an idea to send into the chamber and lead the ambushers out into terrain more favorable for battle. After much discussion, Tamar came up with a plan that exactly resembled Crunchy’s and they agreed to carry it out. Digby cast fly on Crunchy to aid his progress and the rogue slipped into the chamber.

The creatures attacked him, but they all missed. Crunchy fled away, but the mud blobs did not follow. Another plan was devised. This time, Crunchy would actually enter the chamber and lead the muddy monsters away from the opening while the others headed inside after him.

They all agreed and set the plan into motion…

The Fall of Tisthorrak

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, continued their fight against Garron the White and his minions in the temple of Tisthorrak. Crunchy threw a smoke grenade into the area but missed his target. He quickly fetched it from the water and placed it next to Garron.

The chamber filled with a thick smoke that made seeing into the area nearly impossible. However, the heroes did manage to eliminate all of their foes, except one kuo-toa that fled down a flooded tunnel in the back of the temple.

As their victory seemed complete, Tisthorrak appeared, this time in his true form. Tamar ignited Solemn and struck a devastating blow. Thanks to Gin’s Staff of the Umbra, Tisthorrak was unable to flee. Crunchy and Digby followed up with their own attacks against their enemy.

Gin used telekinesis to part the smoke and get a clear shot at the aboleth, delivering a fatal eldritch blast. As Crunchy scoured the chamber floor for treasure, the rest of the group came up with questions for Gin to ask Tisthorrak’s corpse.

Using his warlock powers, Gin discovered that Tisthorrak considered the monodrone they discovered earlier an enemy, that the aboleth arrived to Delthrand via Amenoth, that it was sent by the Umbra, and that the necrotic and arcane energy required to power the transporters could be found in its own lair.

Then Gin asked his final question, “Who opened the gate that brought forth Amenoth to our world?” And Tisthorrak answered, “Omet-Arzuk, Lord of the Umbra, with the aid of Illemketh…”

Listen and Live

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, continued to cautiously explore Tisthorrak’s lair. Crunchy silently indicated that there were several enemies in a submerged chamber ahead and urged the heroes to charge in and fight. The companions surged into the chamber and found a large statue of tentacles protruding from the floor.

They made quick work of the kuo-toa enemies, but Crunchy grew fearful of Shundara and fled into a dark corner. He eventually discovered two double doors with a strange spiral image carved into them. Fresh from battle, Tamar helped open the doors and Crunchy rushed through, still fearful of the githyanki warrior.

Inside the chamber were stairs that led from the water onto a platform above. The room was filled with enemies including several kuo-toa, two tentacled constructs, and an old human male in dirty, billowing white robes. All the heroes, with the exception of Gin who wore Krallak’s ring of mind shielding, heard a booming voice inside their minds: “Listen and live! Submit to the will of Amenoth! Be reborn in his image!” The group ignored any chance at parley and engaged in battle.

Crunchy moved throughout the chamber easily thanks to skill and magic, until his fear of Shundara passed. He was able to deliver deadly blows to enemies, but grew frustrated that despite his exceptional ability to hide, the creatures always seemed to know his location. The constructs were able to entrap both female warriors and the old human used powerful magic to force Tamar to attack Shundara.

Digby dragged Merrill, who was stunned from a psychic attack, into the chamber. The gnome recognized the old human from his childhood memories and stories. The man had once visited Yatellnor and called himself Garron the White, a prophet of Amenoth. However, Digby noticed that he now appeared undead.

Gin used telekinesis to raise Garron and drop him from the ceiling, breaking his hold on the half-orc paladin. But upon lifting the human, they noticed that where he should have legs, he had tentacle appendages. Tamar used her powers to teleport out of her tentacle restraints and assault the last kuo-toa.

And as Digby was about to unleash his next blast of magic, he suddenly fell unconscious to a psychic attack…

The Eternal Mineral

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, had just finished slaying an undead spellcaster and four-armed zombie gorilla when their phantom warrior guide threatened to attack. Tamar stepped forth to bear the brunt of its blade. She suspected Tisthorrak held sway over the ghost causing its aggression.

As the other companions tried to pin down the apparition, Crunchy explored two of the rooms, finding one to be filled with useless tools and metallic body parts, and the other containing gardening equipment. The goblin was then psychically assaulted by Tisthorrak and paralyzed by his own inward thoughts. The phantom warrior was eventually killed, and a slight slap broke Crunchy from his stupor. Tisthorrak again appeared to attack, but one blow from Tamar made the creature once again disappear.

The companions noticed that the green mist in the southern chamber was slowly seeping into the hallway. Gin thought that maybe the whirring blades in the back of the chamber were pumping the mist into the room. After attempting to reverse the blades in the flora chamber, Digby was able to use his magic to reverse the blades in the southern chamber and pump the mist out of the room. With the green fog cleared, they discovered a strange metallic spheroid creature restrained in a chair.

Tamar released the creature and it quietly walked out of the room and into the fauna chamber where it appeared to be looking for something. It eventually came upon a control panel in the room and began to randomly push and slam the buttons. Digby worried that the creature would destroy the controls but could not persuade it to stop. So, Crunchy walked up to it and with a single blow, killed it.

Digby and Merrill worked with the crystals they found in the mind flayer’s room and the control panels in an effort to glean more information about their surroundings. Digby found that each crystal fit into a specific control panel, but after a flash from each crystal, nothing else happened. Further exploration of the chambers revealed that some of the plants in the flora chamber were recognizable as unusually healthy specimens from Ur-Delth and Yatellnor.

Meanwhile, Gin used his powers to speak with the dead mechanical creature. He found it was called a monodrone and that its superiors had sent it to find a special mineral called Intuneric Eternal. Crunchy came under psychic attack yet again, this time manifested by uncontrollable laughter. Once his fit passed, the companions headed out to explore the rest of the cavern.

A submerged tunnel opened into a flooded chamber where several kuo-toa hid behind a large statue of tentacles rising from the floor…

Madness Descends

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, continued battling the chuuls that guarded a dark underwater chamber. One of the lobster aberrations tried to squeeze through the opening Crunchy created with his portal gun. Crunchy’s mage hand released the gun’s triggers, closing the portal on the creature. It thrashed in pain as it was forced through the opening. Badly injured, the beast was quickly dispensed.

They again used the portal gun to make another opening and were able to slay the last surviving chuul. During the battle, Tisthorrak again appeared. Tamar drank a potion of heroism and dove to fight the aboleth, but they found that once again, the creature disappeared once struck.

Their phantom guide urged them to head through a door to the south, but they disregarded the apparition and explored the door to the north. They entered a room with strange whorls engraved in the metallic walls and bizarre furnishings. Digby retrieved three crystal globes, one red, one blue, and one black. The crystals were labelled in a strange language, but they were able to discern the blue one read “Flora”, the black one read “Fauna” and the red one read “Results.” All the crystals were titled with “8M3-N0+H (Delthrand).”

Crunchy found some additional treasure in the room, including several platinum pieces. When Shundara asked for a share of the treasure, Crunchy felt compelled to give it over. She gave a few more commands for Crunchy, which he unwillingly complied with, and they realized he was under psychic attack by Tisthorrak. Enraged, Crunchy almost came to blows with Shundara, but both were eventually persuaded to calm down.

However, Crunchy held no love for Shundara and shared his feelings with Tamar, who also felt the githyanki was unlikable. They decided to rest the night in the room under the protection of Digby’s Tiny Hut.

The next morning, they explored the room to the south. Again, the phantom tried to lead them to a door at the end of the hallway, but instead they explored a room to the west that held rows of plants and trees. They then opened a room to the east and came under attack by an undead spell caster. As they engaged in battle, the door to the south opened and a four-armed zombie gorilla emerged to battle.

Both of the undead creatures were quickly destroyed as a green mist lazily wafted from the south…

Who Can You Trust?

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, continued fighting the armored water elementals in an underground chamber covered in a deep lake. As one of the elementals cowered at the bottom of lake in the presence of Tamar, the companions focused their attention on the other elemental that rose to do battle. The creature eventually succumbed to blade and spell, and soon the other met the same fate.

During the fight, Tisthorrak appeared, swimming around them in what seemed to be an attempt to gain advantage in battle. Digby tried to use his abilities to psychically attack the aboleth, only to have the beast disappear and the lingering effect of the spell fail. The companions suspected Tisthorrak either fled to another plane, or was an illusion.

Crunchy took revenge on the female kuo-toa that led them into the chamber, thinking she simply set them up for a trap. After killing her, he found an underwater door in the chamber. Using magic and skill, he managed to disarm the door’s trap and unlock it. At the water’s surface, Merrill suddenly tried to bash Digby over the head with his axe. Digby realized the halfling was under the influence of Tisthorrak and knocked him out.

With the submerged door open, the heroes swam through the flooded tunnel beyond. As the tunnel split, the phantom warrior that had been following them warned them to not go down the western tunnel. They complied with the warning and came to another submerged door. However, this door appeared to be metallic instead of stone.

After shaking off a psychic effect that made him speak only in incoherent babbles, Crunchy used mage hand to fire his new-found portal gun at the doors. On the other side of the doors were two lobster-like aberrations that immediately attacked.

The group retaliated and then moved away from the doors following Crunchy’s plan to lure the creatures through the portal in hopes of cutting one in half when the portal closed…

It's a Trap!

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, tried to find their way back to the Raven in order to escape the psychic infiltrations of Tisthorrak but found the portal lacking the arcane and necrotic energy needed to activate.

As they made their way to explore a northern passage, they noticed a phantom soldier floating in the chamber. Any attempts at communication failed, and the apparition made no threatening moves, so they continued on with the ghost trailing them.

Crunchy scouted ahead where he entered a rough chamber with a waterfall to the west, several web-footed, hairless dog creatures hiding on rocky beaches and several shabby yurts. He silently moved next to one of the dogs and burst from the water, killing it. He called for the others to join the fight, but by the time his companions made it to the action, he had nearly killed them all.

Tamar investigated the yurts on the beach and found they sheltered several female kuo-toa and their young. She did not harass the creatures, but gathered some bolas, a die and several gold coins strewn about the beach. Digby cast fly on himself, Tamar and Crunchy to allow them to easily explore the cavern walls in search of secret passages leading further into the lair.

Gin talked with the female kuo-toa, but the fish ladies refused to help him. In an abrupt change, one of the kuo-toa decided to lead them to Tisthorrak’s temple. The heroes suspected a trap, but grudgingly followed the slimy woman over the waterfall and into a large cavern with a deep underground lake covering the entire floor.

Digby cast a spell that allowed them all to breathe underwater as they dove down the falls. As they moved through the chamber, they noticed a disturbance below the water. Two armor-clad watery elementals rushed from the depths. Tamar called upon her fire god to instill fear into one of the elementals and Gin lashed out with his umbral eldritch blast.

But one of the creatures moved to strike Tamar with its trident, freezing her joints and muscles…

The Madness of Tisthorrak

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara, fought valiantly against a horde of undead that stood guard in a slime-covered room. In hopes of cutting off the escape of a mind flayer they were pursuing, Crunchy headed down a side tunnel under the mucky green water. Tamar charged into the room and unleashed Solemn, cutting down the undead in her path. With Gin’s resurrected kuo-toa zombies blocking the exit and Digby blasting them with fire from afar, the zombies, wights and dread warriors found it difficult to mount an effective defense.

Tamar spotted the mind flayer fleeing the room and quickly struck a devastating blow on the creature. Crunchy burst forth from under the water to plunge his dagger in the tentacle-faced aberration, sending it to the afterworld. Crunchy searched the mind flayer and found another portal gun, similar to Digby’s, and possibly another trinket…

As they explored the area further, they all, with the exception of Gin, began having horrible mental visions. Crunchy’s vision caused him to believe Tamar was out to kill him and he fled the area. Another caused Digby to pass out unconscious. Gin quickly used his warlock powers to speak with the dead mind flayer. He gathered that the mind flayer was fleeing to its chambers and that there was a temple dedicated to Tisthorrak near. However, Gin remained dubious of the creature’s claims.

His madness lapsed, Crunchy found a controller on the wall near the undead chamber. Digby flipped the switch and the lights in the room turned on, putting himself, Merrill and Shundara in a trance. Tamar and Crunchy began destroying the lights until Gin calmly turned them off. With their search exhausted and the continual incursions into their psyche, the companons decided to head back to the entry portal and teleport to the safety of the Raven.

However, they discovered that the portal no longer had the arcane and necrotic power necessary to function…

Chasing the Brain Eater

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Merrill and Shundara decided that before trying to use the portal that they suspected a mind flayer used to escape them, they would explore beyond large double doors on the north wall. To their disappointment, the huge chamber appeared similar to one which they had previously explored with large portals and controls all appearing dead in the mucky floor.

The group decided to take a much-needed rest and Digby used his abilities to locate the mind flayer. He found it was about 500 feet from them, nearly straight down. Crunchy, still in the hold of The Raven, took the time to pry a few boards lose in the airship’s hull to create four murder holes for future use.

Rested and with The Raven secured, they activated the portal. They immediately came under attack by several kuo-toa, as well as a psychic blast from the mind flayer. In a panic, Digby transported them all back to the previous chamber. They quickly decided to head back to face their foe after Tamar revived Merrill who suffered gravely from the mind flayer’s assault.

The mind flayer was nowhere to be seen when they reactivated the portal, but Digby still had his magical ability to locate the creature. Crunchy dove into the murky green water that filled the room and sprung out to attack when one of the fish men walked by. They made quick work of the kuo-toa and decided to follow the mind flayer to the south.

Gin called on the Umbra to cause the dead fish creatures to rise as zombies and ordered them to join the hunt. Tamar noticed colored lights blinking from a chamber to the south. Closer inspection revealed the chamber walls were filled with blinking studs and lights similar to those on the cabinets. Inside were several undead standing entranced.

The lights turned off, shaking the undead from their stupor as Gin ordered his fish zombies to attack the new undead menace…

Crossing Forgotten Paths

It was mid-evening in the Kaltes Land. A cold front pushed through the mountainous land, but the snow had not come yet. Dark green clouds covered the sky, slowly dimming.

The small boy held the stick with both hands in front of him, shaking in fear. He nearly fell as he took a step back, bumping into the wall behind him. He had nowhere to run. The grotesque shamble of human, decaying flesh lumbered towards him. Its arms reached out, mouth agape exposing sharp, broken teeth. It hungered for the supple young living flesh of the boy.

“Fight!” the boy heard from above.

The boy looked up, his eyes peering at one shadow to the next. He was lost, confused, and didn’t know what to do. The fear gripped him.

“Fight or die!” There was another shout.

The boy sucked in his breath, held his stick high above his head and screamed as he rushed towards the zombie. Cheers and laughter roared above. The stick swung down and bashed the rotting undead on the head. The zombie fell to the ground, face first, and did not move.

The boy breathed heavy, shocked that he knocked the thing down. He swung again and again and again, until he saw the decomposing brain ooze out of the cracked skull. He thought he had killed it. He thought he had won. He dropped the stick and ran to the gates.

The roar went silent.

“Let me out!” the little boy yelled. “I won! I won!” He pounded on the gate door. He was safe now. He had won the right to be sold and had proven his worth. He would be bought by a good man who would train him to be a good hunter. His own excitement prevented him from hearing the roar above going wild.

Claws dug deep into the boy’s shoulder and pulled him to the ground. He screamed as the zombie’s face viciously gnawed into his belly, slowly pulling out intestines. He pounded the zombie with his fists over and over and over again, until he could not pound anymore. The boy went limp; his eyes still open, looking up at the dark sky as the zombie continued to feast.

The crowd erupted into cheers and laughter, and some into angry shouts. Hands exchanged rations, furs, or weapons. There was some shoving and a few violent disputes between gamblers and bookies, but nothing the guards couldn’t handle. The manic crowd began to settle down and new bets were made. The people were ready for the next bout in the huge pit known as the Slaughtering Grounds.

But the two strangers walked away, having seen the slaughter. They had other, more important business.

The first was an old man with a trimmed beard and long, white hair, braided down his back. He wore a dark wine-colored long jacket with a brown tunic and slacks. He sported a wide-brimmed, black leather hat and his black high boots were coated in mud. The other was as tall as an orc, wearing only a gray robe and hood that covered the head and face.

“These people are animals,” said the old man. “No, they’re worse than animals. At least animals live by their nature. These people…”

“Are what they desire to be,” the robed stranger finished. The voice was that of a woman’s.

“And you’re sure this is the right place? From these people?” asked the old man.

“Ye of little faith,” said the woman.

“Faith has nothing to do with it. I just want to know what I’m getting myself into.”

“Rest assured, my friend. She is here.”

The two walked along muddy paths, past makeshift huts, shabby tenets, and dilapidated pavilions. They passed shady merchants peddling worthless goods as priceless artifacts; drug dealers offering an escape from the horrors of the world; prostitutes enticing any passersby to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh; brawlers eager to demonstrate their dominance; and gamblers waiting for their next victims. The whole Horde had gathered this month for it was the Feast of the Turning Winds; an event that only came once every generation. It was a savage festival with much spilt blood, gaudy baubles and glittering wealth, rampant sex, and brutal deaths galore.

But the strangers had not come for any of that. Their interest was in one single thing.

They came to a large stone pavilion with huge cages lined underneath. Various humanoids, orcs, Halflings, dragonborns, elves, humans, and many more, were caged, bound, and gagged. They looked pathetic, suffering from malnutrition, and beaten half to death.

A giant of an orc approached the strangers. He held a chain connected to the collar on a little half-orc girl. She was dressed in a single, dirty tunic and nothing else; shackled but not gagged.

“Is that her?” the old man asked. “She doesn’t look older than ten.”

The half-orc girl was large for her age, and muscular. She was covered in filth and smelled of urine and shit. But her face was wiped clean and her hair cut short, washed and brushed. There was even hasty makeup plastered on her face – rouge, lipstick, and eye shadow. It was always good to present the slaves as best as possible to potential buyers, because each buyer had different tastes in their slaves.

The orc jerked the little girl forward.

“You come. You buy?” the orc asked.

“Maybe,” replied the old man. He turned to the robed companion. “Are you sure this is her?”

The robed figured knelt before the little half-orc. Long, slender fingers took hold of the girl’s chin; the fingers were soft and gentle. It was something the little girl was not used to.

“This is her,” said the woman.

The little girl stared into the hood and felt at peace and strong. She saw something she could not explain. As she would grow, she would forget what she saw. But the feeling would always be there, like a seed slowly growing within her soul.

“She would make a good Sentinel,” the old man said. “She’d have a better life with us than with the Horde.”

“The Horde is where she must be,” the woman replied. “She must witness the sorrows of this world and experience, firsthand, harsh brutality. She needs to be exposed to the unjust torment of all peoples of this broken reality. When the time comes, she will face the choice: to ride the Fire Horse or fall like that little boy we saw earlier.”

The woman extended a finger and drew lines of fire on the little girl’s forehead, leaving a trail of flames. The little half-orc felt nothing and was not afraid. The flaming lines flared and then disappeared. The orc did not seem to notice.

“So, you buy?” the orc asked again. “She not strong; too much human blood. She make good rumpy pumpy. You buy and take. I give good price. You not buy, I sell to Breeding Pits.”

“You are wrong, my orc friend,” the woman said, standing up. “She is strong – stronger than all of the greatest warriors combined from this rabble you call the Horde.”

The orc laughed. “Then you buy?”

“We buy,” the woman said. “Wolfgang, pay him.”

As the old man rummaged through his pack, a young man came running up to them, out of breath and excited. He wore gray breeches and tunic, leather boots and black cloak. His long, silvery-white hair was disheveled.

“Grandfather!” the young man shouted. “You won’t believe what just happened. This filthy goblin piece of shit tried to steal my dagger. I gave him a good thrashing though. You should have seen it! I think I even impressed some of the orcs!”

“Yes, yes,” the old waved the young man away. “We’re a bit busy here.” He handed the payment promised and orc looked satisfied.

“Are you buying a slave?” the young man said in distaste. “This thing? She smells and she’s rather ugly. Are we taking her with us?”

“No,” said the woman.

The orc looked shocked. “What you mean?” he asked. “You buy, you take. Them’s the rules.”

“No,” the woman repeated. “We buy, but not take. Not yet. She will live among the Horde until the time of her calling. She will not be put into the Slaughtering Grounds or the Breeding Pits. She will not be defiled in any way. She will grow up and learn the ways of the Horde. And when her time comes, I will return for my slave.”

“She will die,” said the orc.

“If she does, then I will return and demand reimbursement ten-fold. But I do not believe it will come to that. Our payment is more than enough for this agreement. Is this to your satisfaction?”

The orc looked at the payment again. “It is,” he grumbled.

“Then the deal is done and her destiny is set.”

“Fine,” the orc huffed. “I give her to Grimlock. He is good trainer.”

“I sure hope this plays out the way you think it will,” the old man said.

The woman laughed. “My old friend, you have so little faith.”

“Comes with age, I guess.”

The young man looked confused with the whole interaction. He was about to turn and leave when the robed stranger suddenly took hold of him arm.

“You may have lost your sister,” said the woman, “but you are not without hope. The dark may be full of terrors, but this fire will light your way.”

The young man looked more confused as the hand released him.

“She your slave, you name,” the orc said to the robed stranger. “What her name?”

Tamar of Kaltes Land.”

“Where’d it go?” Tamar asked, looking out over the field of portals.

Tisthorrak was gone and we waited for its return, ready for a fight. But he did not return.

“Maybe he teleported?” Tamar theorized.

“It didn’t look like it used one of these portals,” I said.

“Magic?” Tamar offered as a solution.

Digby shook his head. “No,” he said, “I didn’t sense magic. I don’t know what this Tisthorrak is, but he didn’t use magic to teleport out. I think he may not have really ever been here.”

Tamar scratched her head.

“A mental projection, if you will,” he continued. “An illusion, of sorts.”

“Oh,” Tamar shrugged.

“Well, if that’s the case, we don’t have to deal with him,” I said.

“He mentioned Daciana’s Kin. That’s your family, right Gin?” asked Digby.

I nodded.

“It would seem, you’re quite the popular person.”

“No,” I said. “Just born into the wrong family in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, if he’s gone, then it’ll make it easier to deal with the giant eye. It’ll be returning soon.”

The Raven circled around the chamber, looking for another exit. We only found more inactive portals. I had hoped we’d find something before the giant eye returned but it looked like we’d have to deal with it.

“I could make you fly,” Digby said to Tamar. “You should be able to reach that thing if it comes back.”

“It will,” I confirmed.

“That sounds like a good idea,” said Tamar.

“First, take this feather,” Digby said as he handed it to Tamar. “You’ll need to wave the feather in your right hand, suck your left thumb, hop on your left leg. When you’re ready to fly, jump off the ship and cluck like a chicken.”

A low grumble issued from Tamar. She seemed unimpressed.

I rolled my eyes.

Reluctantly, Tamar followed Digby’s instruction. While she looked the fool, she did take flight. She hovered toward the area where the giant eye would appear. She held her sword at the ready.

Shundara, sail the Raven closer to the center,” I said. “That’s where it’s going to reappear.”

The Raven stayed at a distance behind Tamar. I released my banishment spell and the giant eye reappeared.

Digby shot off a fire spear and missed. I released two Umbral tendrils – this time they worked and hit their mark.

Tamar was a few meters shy from the giant eye and flew towards it. But the thing saw her and fired three beams from its eye stalks. Two of them had no effect, but the third…. Tamar’s primal scream told me enough of what she had experienced.

“Call that pain?” Tamar snarled. “I’ll show you pain!”

Tamar zoomed to the giant eye and swung Solemn. The blade sliced through the creature, cutting deep into its flesh. It faltered and swayed, shocked by the powerful attack. As Tamar was about to swing again, magic missiles flew from behind her and hit the creature in its giant eye. Gore and pus spewed against her face and the thing fell to the ground with a loud splat. Tamar wiped her face with the back of her hand and grimaced.

Tamar flew back to the deck and landed. Digby’s spell ended.

“Good shot,” Tamar said to Digby.

“Thanks,” Digby cheeped.

We circled the chamber and found no other exit other than the giant double doors. As we sailed, Digby and Merrill attempted to examine the various portals but discovered none of them were functional and all were beyond repair.

“Digby,” I said, “could you, perhaps, try to use your magic eye to peer beyond those doors. It looks like that’s our only way out and I’d rather know what that mind flyer is doing behind it.”

Digby thought for a moment. “I can try.”

The little gnome chanted and gestured in his arcane ways. His body turned into mist and he flew toward the door and seeped in-between the seals. We waited. Shundara steered the ship directly toward the door and held the vessel in place. Tamar cleaned her sword and re-sheathed it, though I had a feeling she would need it soon enough. Merrill went back down below deck where Crunchy was hiding.

Several minutes passed and I began to worry. Something was wrong. I was about to tell Shundara to fly closer to the doors, but mist flowed onto the deck and Digby took form again. He looked a bit haggard.

“Are you alright, Digby?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “Just had a little bit of difficulty there. They noticed me but I was able to get away.“

“What did you find?”

“That mind flayer we saw earlier isn’t there.”

“What do you mean?” Tamar asked.

“Just as I said,” Digby continued. “It’s gone. The fish-men and the brain-dog-thing are still in there, but not the mind flayer.”

“That’s a shame,” Shundara said. “It would have been good to face off against a mind flayer.”

I shook my head, remembering the words of my grandfather. “I wonder where it went,” I asked to myself. Did it go through the portal? Did it leave through another door we didn’t see? Or was it a mental projection, like Tisthorrak?

“Well, that was the good news,” Digby continued.

“And what’s the bad news?” I asked.

“Well, instead of a mind flayer, there was a demon with wings. If memory serves me, I believe it’s a Vrock.”

“What’s that?” Tamar asked.

“They’re a cross between a vulture and a human,” Digby explained. “They have these long legs and arms with very sharp talons and they’re covered in grey feathers. Oh, and they’re very large. They’re not the worst-looking demons, but they have this nasty shriek.”

“What’re we doing, Gin?” Shundara asked.

“So, you can’t get any of these portals working?” I asked Digby.

“Afraid not,” he replied. “They’re beyond repair.”

“Gin?” Shundara was getting impatient.

Our options had narrowed and I only saw one course of action.

“Fly straight toward the doors at full speed,” I ordered her.

“Gin, I’m not doing that. I’m not ramming my ship…”

“You’re not ramming anything,” I interrupted. “Trust me and go.”

The Raven flew towards the closed double doors. Tamar and Digby glanced at each other with uncertainty. I stood at the bow of the ship and held out my staff. I whispered forbidden words and tapped into the recesses of the Umbra, absorbing its power for my uses. I willed the doors to open and they opened.

The Vrock flew out with an ear-piercing shriek, nearly deafening us all. The ship raced past it and into the room. Shundara stopped the ship right above the platform with the portal. The room was smaller than I anticipated as the Raven had a tight fit inside. There was very little room for the ship to maneuver. We saw another door on the opposite side, and the three fish-men and the brain-dog were still there. But because we had the elevation of the ship, they could not easily reach us.

I released Umbra tendrils at the brain-dog while Digby threw fire spears at it. It died relatively easy.

The Vrock came back into the room, flying past us and dropping poisonous spores on the deck. It then flew away, hovering in the distance, and watched the poison take effect on us. The spores made me nauseous and weak. I could taste bile in my throat. Neither Tamar nor Digby appeared to be affected.

Tamar leered up at the demon, Solemn in her hand. She made a small prayer and I noticed power coursing through her body.

“Afraid I can’t make you fly this time,” Digby said to the half-orc.

Tamar growled. All of Tamar’s hatred focused on the demon, but there was nothing she could do to reach it as long as it flew at a distance.

My connection with the Umbra was still intact. Through my sickness, I looked at the Vrock and willed the demon to come to us. The invisible Umbral force encased the demon like a hand and pulled it towards us. To its surprise, the Vrock found itself only a foot away from the holy paladin. Tamar grinned.

In a flurry of moves, as quick as lightening, Tamar slashed, sliced, and diced the demon. Holy flames sparked from each hit. Chunks of flesh stripped from its body and blood sprayed everywhere. Tamar sliced off a part of its wing and the Vrock shrieked in torment, falling into the pit.

The poisonous spores dispersed and I began to feel better. Crunchy came on deck and threw a dagger at one of the fish-men, stabbing it through the neck and killing it. Digby threw a fire spear at another one. It burst into flames and died. With the last fish-man, I directed my thoughts and the thing was tossed down into the pit below. I chuckled.


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