Journey to Fate’s doorstep: upon the Githzerai citadel

For a brief moment, the interior is crackling with chaos energy until Sithka, the Githzerai Anarch, waves her hand and transforms the energy into rooms and corridors. She welcomes the Drow’s Bane in and escorts them to a sanctuary room filled with peace and tranquility. She watches as her new guests carry a dead human with them into the room; the half orc with black eyes holding a strange wand, also catches her attention.

Sithka and a few other githzerai begin chatting with the party. She wants to understand what happened to her attack squad, the layout of the mindflayer fortress and what is left of the Elder Brain. During the conversation, a few githzerai bring food and drink in for the party – the food tastes sweet and savory and the drink goes down easily. In no time, the conversation ceases as Mordrock and Naismith fall fast asleep; even Nong, who no longer needs food or liquids to sustain himself, passes out too.

Nong falls into a deep slumber and begins to dream. His mind recalls the feelings he experienced when joining with the wand of Orcus: power, fearlessness and a thirst for destruction. His mind next recalls the feeling of elation that coursed through his body when he delivered the death blow to the Elder Brain! However, the feeling of disappointment came next. Even though the wand was satiated with the kill, it still cursed at Nong, disappointed that Nong did not raise the brain as his undead servant.

The long rest continues for several more hours.

Nong enters into another dream state; this time he sees his mind’s familiar infinite plane of darkness except no eye stares back at him. Instead, he watches the horizon as a small light walks towards him. He waits until he sees the figure a hundred feet out; it’s a small humanoid holding a light in its hands. Fifty feet out Nong recognizes the small humanoid is a child holding a candle; it’s a half orc child crying as it walks toward Nong.

In the room on the floor, Nong feels his heartbeat speed up. He takes a deep breadth, turns over and calms his breathing. After five minutes, he sinks back into the dream.

Nong looks out across the plane again and sees the child standing directly in front of him; the candle in its hands barely stays lit. The child looks up at Nong and says, “Your light source is fading and I cannot keep it lit in the darkness for much longer. If you don’t find a way to destroy it first, it will destroy your light forever.” The child turns around and begins to walk away. Over the child’s shoulder he cries out, “You don’t have much time. It has awakened.” The familiar eye begins to open on the plane of darkness and looks at the child. The eye’s looming size dwarfs the crying child who slowly walks away. The eye grows bigger and stares at the child in anger.

Suddenly, Nong awakens in the dark room. He inhales and steadies his breadth as he here’s his comrades deep in sleep. He pauses, sniffs the air and frowns; then lies back down and closes his eyes. Ten feet away, a figure stands at the doorway quietly observing the sleeping party. She stares at Nong, moves her eyes down his body and stops at the strange wand in his hand. She studies it but from this distance she cannot see much. She catches a scent in the air and immediately looks towards the human corpse; their fallen comrade. The body has decomposed in record time and gives off a rotting scent; she also detects the smell of rotting food too. “That’s impossible, especially in here,” she thinks to herself. Her eyes dart back to Nong’s gaunt sleeping face.

After a few quiet breadths, she scowls, shakes her head and silently steps away.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: from the ruins to B’al Crek

The walls and floors of the stairway leading down are out of this world. Mordrock does not recognize the craftsmanship nor the type of strange marbled purple and black rock the corridor is made from. All three rooms down here are constructed with the same materials. In the first room the party encounters a table with a dead Ice Reach resident on it, missing the top of his skull and brain. A few mindflayers and intellect devourers surprise attack but are no match for the party. In the next room, the party finds a githzerai prisoner locked in a cage named Onas, who is drooling and appears to have endured incredible psychic and physical torture. Onas does not speak common so the party uses Nong as the translator.

After several heal spells, Onas coms to his senses, thanks the party and gives them a warning and a request for help; Onas is the last survivor of a raiding party on the ‘Ruins of Angdan’. During his torture he picked up glimpses of the mindflayers purpose here. They established this outpost over a century ago and have extended their reach to a goliath settlement to the northwest and west as far as Silverymoon. He has witnessed dozens of humanoids, some with grey skin, taken into this room and through a secret door which Onas believes is a route to a mindflayer outpost. Onas tells the party the mindflayer’s Elder Brain has located a Tarrasque trapped in a demi-plane and a sleeping Kraken under the sea of the Sword Coast; the Brain plans to unleash thousands of intellect devourers on both creatures to eventually subdue each of them. Once enthralled, the Brain will unleash the Tarrasque onto Faerun and the Kraken onto the Sword Coast. Onas realizes all of the captured humanoids taken through here are being turned into intellect devourers to feed this grand plan.

The party agrees to help Onas attack the mindflayer outpost behind the secret door. Naismith leads them through the secret door into a corridor, and down into a small room. Inside the room there is a strange structure; Onas gasps as he recognizes the structure to be a qualith portal – a gateway to a mindflayer hive colony. He proclaims the party to enter through the portal, seek out and kill the Elder Brain; this buys time for Onas to planeshift to his home, gather the armada and attack the hive colony. He hands Naismith a ring of Mind Shielding which also serves as a homing beacon for the githzerai armada.

Onas psionically shields the rest of the party, which will last for one hour. Both of these are protections from being discovered by the Elder Brain as soon as they exit the portal. Onas starts up the portal, watches the party step through then planeshifts away.

Disoriented and nauseous the party emerges from the portal onto a plateau over looking B’al Crek, a mindFlayer city somewhere deep in the Underdark. The huge cavern where the city is located is familiar to Royce, Nong and Naismith in terms of cavernous lighting by way of illuminating lichen and other bioluminescence. From this height they can make out the city’s buildings and identify the largest building in the center of the city; they set out to head there in hopes of finding the Elder Brain.

The party tries to covertly approach the city, trying to fit in as best as possible. Royce, Nong and Naismith recognize familiar Underdark kin – drow, duergar, grimlock, quaggoth and bugbear. Patrols of grimlocks and mindflayers walk the city perimeter. So far, no one detects their presence. The first building they encounter along the road into the city is where Mordrock catches the attention of an attractive woman carrying two flagons of wine, who opens the door of an octagonal building; she smiles and beckons Mordrock to follow her in. Mordrock pursues her and enters the building; eventually everyone else makes their way in.

Inside is luxuriously furnished in silk beds and chais lounges. Soft lighting floats around above as a half elf bard plays softly on a harp; skimpily clad consorts of various humanoid races lie about the room eating, drinking wine or gambling. Two concentric rings of pink marble raise the floor slightly in the center which is occupied by a large insect creature and a beautiful angel in shining armor; both creatures greet the party warmly as they enter.

The ice devil and erinyes instinctively know why the Drow’s Bane are in B’al Crek and jokingly point in the direction of where the Elder Brain resides. But they also suggest a game of chance as the ice devil pulls out a Deck of Many Things. The wager are the souls of all of the consorts or a magic item against whatever the Drow’s Bane offers up. Mordrock seems interested however the party cannot seem to decide on an offer when eventually Naismith makes his way in. Immediately, the ice devil and erinyes, proclaim the wager is what Naismith has in his bag (i.e. the Wand of Orcus) as both devils stand-up and start moving towards Naismith.

The devils’ action causes a fight to break out. Naismith tries to exit the door and finds a wall of ice blocking his way out. The erinyes takes to flight and fires poison arrows at the party. Consorts begin screaming and running out of the building while others hide in fear. Naismith goes down inviting the erinyes to swoop down and begin searching his bag. In this vulnerable position, she succumbs to party attacks and falls herself. Shortly after, the ice devil falls too. Fifteen minutes later, a mindflayer patrol enters the building from the south side right after the party exits from the north side, having confiscated a magical cloak beforehand.

The party quickly moves toward a main road to fold in with as many people walking to and from the city center. Royce abruptly stops the party as he recognizes up ahead a patrol of mindflayers, grimlocks and intellect devourers standing on opposite sides of the main road; the mindflayers appear to be reading minds as people cross their path. The party is not registered in B’al Crek and will alarm the mindflayers if they cross paths. Quickly, they detour off the main road into an open market; they make their way through drow and duergar vendors towards the large building in the city center. Someone successfully pickpockets Nong along the way.

They avoid another patrol reading minds when they hear loud cheering from a building not far away. They approach what looks like an amphitheater and notice a very unfair match inside – a goristro, whom the crowd is cheering for, against 6 halfing slaves. Minutes later, the party feels an intense vibration wash over their minds and bodies; a female voice telepathically speaks out across the cavern, “We are under attack, we are under attack! To arms! To arms my children!” and repeats the phrase several more times. People look around at each other, then look up and begin pointing at the sky. Six portals above the city open, each sparking lightning and chaotic energy as large adamantine citadels emerge from each of them. Hundreds of individuals begin jumping off the citadels and diving down towards the city, slowing their pace as they approach the ground; these are the Githzerai Armada who have finally arrived, seeking total mindflayer annihilation.

The party runs toward the large building as githzerai rain down around them. There is a moat surrounding the large building that is home to two hydra that emerge and fight the party. The moat spans twenty feet across. On the other side, Naismith sees two invisible mindflayers guarding an invisible doorway. The invisible mindflayers dash into the invisible doorway when the githzerai begin to land and attack. The party fights the hydras but does not spend the time needed to take them down. One-by-one, they jump, run, or swim across the moat and dash through the invisible doorway.

Inside is a large room supported by eight monumental columns resembling tentacles. In the middle of the room is a hole in the floor and ceiling; shambling around the room are several walking brain golems. The party realizes quickly these brain golems are superior meat shields that soak up a ton of damage. Nong kicks a few down the hole in the floor about the time the tentacle columns come to life and smack everyone around; Naismith falls from the damage but magically recovers. Eventually the party jumps down the hole in the floor to avoid further damage after Naismith sees and hears two adamantine citadels crash into the city from the sky. Maybe the tide is turning against the githzerai armada.

The hole leads to another room that contains walls and walls of brains in jars. The party continues to fight the brain golems; they also realize that as a golem goes down it explodes causing damage all around its body. Naismith notices the two invisible mindflayers are in this room watching the party fight; they look ready to attack the party. A lot of time is spent taking down the brain golems and then the mindflayers, which equates to significant damage to the party.

The Drow’s Bane must spend time to recover slowing their progress. During recovery, they hear from the room above a battle breaking out. Four githzerai, one being Onas, peer down into the room from above; they are glad to see the party alive. The four githzerai join the party in pursuit of the Elder Brain.

It takes a moment to realize how to unlock the floor lock but eventually they figure it out; the floor vanishes to reveal another hole. Jumping down they land into a room that contains two large pens with several humanoid slaves staring contently back at the party. A ritual is underway between three mindflayers and a captive half orc; the mindflayers surrounding the half orc, are in deep concentration; the kneeling half orc reacts to the mindflayers – first he begins to tremble, then his body stiffens as its skull falls open to reveal its brain. The brain turned intellect devourer, begins to move and falls out onto the floor.

The party and githzerai launch into attack and wipe out the mindflayers and intellect devourer. Onas can tell the slaves are under the Elder Brain’s control leaving them practically enthralled waiting for their turn at the horrid transformation ritual. Naismith notices on the wall two invisible windows; when he peers in, he notices each window reveals a demi-plane containing thousands of intellect devourers. The windows also have latches to allow for opening and closing. Onas says these intellect devourers are part of the master plan but there’s no time to deal with them so long as the Elder Brain lives. Another floor lock is opened and the party descends down into darkness.

They land in the back of a large room lit by torch light along the walls. A human and a huge serpentine beast stand in the middle of the room waiting for the party. The githzerai and party attack only to watch the monk take down a githzerai with the snap of his fingers. The serpentine beast lets out a string of lightning that hits several in the party and githzerai. The pair appear to be the Brain’s bodyguards and it is a tough fight. Eventually the party is successful taking them down only to find two intellect devourers spring out from the corpses. The toll after this battle are two dead githzerai, one being Onas.

There is a wall of force surrounding the Elder Brain’s room next door and the party is unclear on how to break it; dispel magic does not work. Naismith sees the wall of force extends into the ethereal plane so the party cannot use that plane to transport into the room. Given the walls are aberrant in nature, spells to move through rock are impossible either. Mordrock calls to Kelemvor for help and an angelic figure with ghostly wings and a dark visage appears. “What do you seek child of Kelemvor?” Mordrock explains to the angel about the wall of force. The angel replies, “You have what you need to remove the wall, just look around,” as it disappears after speaking. Someone figures out the wand has the potential to disintegrate the wall.

Nong takes the wand from Naismith and feels the power course through his body one more time. The familiar eye opens up in Nong’s mind as the eye closes in the mind of Naismith. “Join with me and we will destroy it and make it our undead servant!!” the Wand of Orcus says. This time Nong accepts the invitation to attune with the wand. Immediately the power fills Nong’s body but this time more happens. Nong opens his eyes and they are pitch black; his skin is changing color and he looks thinner. The familiar dark aura emanates around him and the wand but now with extreme intensity. The two githzerai take a step back in fear of what is happening to their comrade.

Nong walks up to the Wall of Force and touches it with the wand; the wand unleashes a disintegration spell and instantly destroys the wall. Inside the room is a huge tank with glowing pink water. The party rushes in and is hit with a psychic scream leaving some stunned. The party feels their minds being probed and a female voice telepathically taunts them. A tentacle emerges from the water, grabs Royce and stuns him while grappled; it then drags him underneath the water; more tentacles lash out and attempt to strike the party. One githzerai is grabbed but withstands the stunning effect of the grapple, and is also dragged underneath the water. Nong uses the wand to call forth an army of undead that rise up and surround the whole room; he commands them to attack the creature submerged twenty feet under the water. The skeletons and zombies obey, dive into the water and attack; some manage to hurt the creature just before the Elder Brain lets out another psychic scream and turns the undead into dust and bones. Everyone in the room feels the damage of the psychic scream t00.

Mordrock is now down, Nong and Naismith now watch what the Elder Brain does to Royce. A grappled stunned Royce moves toward the Brain where it reaches out and sucks Royce’s brain out of his head; Royce dies as the Elder Brain consumes the brain making it feel stronger. Naismith dives into the water to attack and Nong goes unconscious while being grappled. Naismith gets grappled by a tentacle and falls unconscious underwater; Nong miraculously wakes up from the brink of death.

The wand chastises Nong as he comes to consciousness. Nong stands up, dives into the pool and uses the wand to strike the death blow to the Elder Brain. The female voice telepathically screams as a psychic eruption explodes from the Elder Brain killing everyone in the room as it dies. Royce is dead underwater, Mordrock is unconscious on the floor, Naismith is unconscious underwater and Nong is unconscious on the water’s surface floating on his back.

After an hour Nong regains consciousness; after two Naismith stops choking to death and awakens and after three hours Mordrock opens his eyes. Both githzerai are dead and the Elder Brain is too. The party is victorious but at a tremendous cost. They hoist Royce’s dead body out of the briny water and attempt to rest. Several githzerai discover them and the party informs the githzerai of the death of Onas and the others. After the rest, the githzerai escort the party back out to meet Sithka, their commander.

Outside, B’al Crek is raised to the ground; there are fires burning, dead are littered everywhere and the stench of death is strong. Through the smoke, they come upon Sithka, the githzerai commander. She knows who the party is from Onas and salutes them. Naismith, using Comprehend Languages, can understand Sithka, but is hesitant to use Nong as the translator given Nong’s new appearance. Sithka looks over the party and their dead comrade and invites the Drow’s Bane back to her adamantine citadel to recover.

The party gladly accepts and begins to follow her, with Royce in tow.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: beyond Ice Reach to the mountain top

The rare sightings of a purple worm and remorhazes within a few days time leads Xzin and the party northward, to seek council at the Goliath Embassy. The goliaths are looked upon by Ice Reach residents as caretakers for some creature and some ceremony; these things are not discussed with outsiders but the party finds bits and pieces of information during their stay in Ice Reach.

After trekking two days north, the party arrives and Xzin presents the Drow’s Bane to the two goliath ambassadors. Xzin is humble and is looking for answers to the strange events occurring since the arrival of the Drow’s Bane to Ice Reach; like the other Ice Reach residents, Xzin holds the goliaths in high esteem for their wisdom and advice. But the goliaths responses are spiteful and chastising; they believe the Drow’s Bane are imposters and need to be punished.

A battle begins in spite of Xzin trying to mediate the situation. The goliaths rage and viciously fight the party but are eventually overtaken and fall. Xzin, shocked in horror by the turn of events, comes clean with the truth. There is a silver dragon named Angdan who lives on the top of the mountain. Angdan routinely conducts a ‘Ceremony of the Silver Heart’ that Xzin believes is honorable. Worthy Ice Reach residents, visitors and all Ice Reach children partake in the ceremony by way of the Goliath Embassy; these selected individuals journey up the Silver Path, meet Angdan and under his guidance become protectors of the realm, never to be seen again.

The wand of Orcus is destabilizing the bag of holding and Royce removes it seconds before the bag implodes. The Wand reacts to Royce’s handling of it, by instantly killing Royce and turning him into a zombie. The party deals with the situation and resurrects Royce; Xzin, in shock and horror, witnesses these unholy events and mocks the party for mocking him about the goliaths, Angdan and the Ceremony of the Silver Heart.

The party settles down once Royce awakens and takes a long rest; unaware the wand’s aura is causing the goliath corpses to rot and spoiling all food in the area; ice cockroaches responding to the wand’s aura, have assembled in the corners of the room by the time the party wakes up.

The trek up the Silver Path is nearly vertical, hiking 500 feet up the mountain to a path made of clouds, that ascends another 500 feet up to the mountain top. Besides extreme cold weather, the Drow’s Bane are attacked by two rocs on the cloud path. A roc grabs hold of Royce and drops him 500 feet below; Royce survives and calls forth Daern’s Instant Fortress for protection. Nong, Naismith and Mordrock perform acts of ‘Cirque du Soleil’ on the rocs as a way to counter the roc’s grab and drop tactic. During this encounter, Xzin is never attacked by the rocs even though he attacks the creatures in self defense.

The party continues up the cloud path after disposing the rocs; one nearly crashes into Daern’s Instance Fortress 500 feet below. The mountain top consists of a large space centered around ancient ruins; 50 feet above the ruins a heart shaped cloud hovers revealing just a face of a silver dragon. For a few hours, Naismith, Nong, Mordrock and Xzin hang out at the mountain top edge, recovering from the roc attack while Royce recovers in the Instant Fortress.

When the party crosses into the area with the ruins, the dragon speaks and welcomes the party to approach as five chairs made of clouds form in front of a table made of clouds. The chair backs resemble elongated dragon necks that extend into dragon heads over the top of the chairs. A woman greets the party and apologizes for Angdan being unable to assist the party on the cloud path due to the extreme weather. Xzin immediately recognizes the woman to be his wife, Shevin, and runs to her; the couple embraces and just goes after each other as if they have not seen each other for days. Xzin pulls back from their kiss and tells Shevin about the Goliath Embassy.

Angdan laughs, flys out of the heart shaped cloud and lands his huge body next to the cloud table and chairs. He beckons the party to approach, sit and converse. Nong, Naismith and Mordrock approach and begin talking with Angdan. Eventually one of them sits down on a dragon chair. What happens next is a surprise for the group: something hiding in the head of the chair attempts to attack and fails, revealing itself to be an intellect devourer! Four other intellect devourers climb out of the other chairs and attack. Angdan takes off circling around the area, taunting the Drow’s Bane.

Shevin pushes Xzin onto the ground and taunts her husband as she unsheathes her long sword and moves to attack the party. Xzin is besides himself, confused with what he’s witnessing between his wife’s and Angdan’s behavior.

Naismith, Nong and Mordrock engage, taking down the intellect devourers in between Angdan’s breadth weapon, claws and tail swings. Nong takes down Shevin as Angdan takes down Mordock; when Shevin falls, an intellect devourer emerges from her head and attacks Nong. Naismith moves around the battlefield, ducking and covering and unleashing damage to the dragon. The battle is difficult without Royce’s support and eventually Nong is barely up, when a mindflayer exits out of the ruins and attacks. Xzin comes out of shock and attacks the mindflayer only to be stunned by the mindflayer’s mind blast.

Naismith, who is hiding but cornered, reaches into his bag and takes hold of the wand as Angdan searches for the rogue, flying above. The wand responds to Naismith’s command and an arc of necrotic energy releases from it into the dragon! Angdan lets out a great roar as the necrotic energy tears into his flesh. The sound is so loud, even Royce hears it causing Royce to check in with the party. Minutes later, Royce shifts into the Ethereal plane and travels up the mountain.

Naismith delivers the killing blow to Angdan using the wand one more time. The wand reaches out to Naismith with excitement and a thirst for destruction; it tries to join with Naismith but fails. The familiar eye in Nong’s mind closes as an eye in Naismith’s mind opens. An intellect devourer emerges from Angdan’s head and attacks. Naismith quickly puts it down.

Royce recovers the party and as Mordrock’s eyes awaken he watches as Xzin, speaking to himself walks past; Xzin looks in shock, with unfocused eyes and babbling to himself, “…my life is a lie…I’m a joke…what was my wife…what did I do to my children!?!…” Mordrock stands up and calls out to Xzin as he watches Xzin walk off the side of the mountain, falling to his death.

After the party recovers they make their way down the stairs that leads deeper into the ruins.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Ice Reach

Mordrock now carries the bag of holding that contains the wand of Orcus. When Mordrock opens the bag to peer inside for the first time, his mysterious necklace flashes intense burning heat. The flash of heat pricks his skin as he recognizes, what is inside the bag reeks of tremendous necrotic power. Nong is also interested in the bag of holding and draws closer to Mordrock.

Ice Reach is a human settlement founded 50 years ago by an expedition led from Silverymoon to Highmelt Lake region. In Highmelt Lake, the expedition stumbles upon the rare Greyboon fungus and discovers Bluefin Tinker fish spawning grounds. The Bluefin Tinker fish brain is an alchemical ingredient to make potions of water-breathing and also induces a temporary fugue state when ground up and snorted; the latter property is a component much sought after in the pleasure houses of the realm. Between Greyboon sustenance and Bluefin Tinker to trade, the expedition setup a fragile settlement called Ice Reach. The offspring of the expedition leaders, a man known as Xzin, is the current jarl of Ice Reach.

The inhabitants of Ice Reach have grey mottled skin; a result of consuming Greyboon fungus. Once a person consumes 3 servings of Greyboon fungus his/her system can no longer sustain itself on any other food source.

Xzin appreciates the party’s assistance with the remorhaz attack on the quarry. Ice Reach has not experienced a remorhaz attack since the extreme blizzard two years ago that caused much of the remorhaz natural prey to parish. Plus, the party receives bonus points for Mordrock helping prepare the dead for the evening funeral. Unfortunately, these bonus points are quickly cancelled when Royce threatens to level Ice Reach with an earthquake in front of Xzin and several guards the next morning.

The party meets the enthusiastic Wrennick, foreman of the Greyboon harvesting operations. Wrennick is delighted to have guests interested in a tour of the Greyboon cave. The large cavernous Greyboon cave brings to mind memories of the Underdark to Royce, Naismith and Nong. Unfortunately, Wrennick stumbles down a wrong path and right into the open mouth of a purple worm. This causes the mouth to close and swallow at the same time the party stops dead in their tracks in shock of what just happened.

Journey to Fate’s doorstep: Skyreach Castle

The party prepares for a long night’s rest on top of the huge bed that serves as Blagothkus’s ‘guest bedroom’. Royce lays down, closes his eyes, and offers a prayer to Tempus. He allows his mind to reflect on the day, “flying on pegasi, a Cloud Giant and his humongous castle and a battle with huge monsters – haven’t seen that in awhile.” The remorhaz battle was dangerous and it reminded Royce how out of shape he feels. “The rush of adrenaline and fear, thinking on your feet and keeping focused on spells in the heat of battle – man I am out of shape but happy we did our job, praise Tempus!”

His mind shifts to reflect on this new cleric of Kelemvor accompanying the Drow’s Bane, the hill dwarf Mordrock, “I like the guy so far, seems to have an interesting history. Boy does Lady Silverhand like him, haha. I wonder if Kelemvor and Tempus are good buddies?” He smiles to himself, “I loved when Mordrock casted that banishment spell just at the right time. He definitely feels to me like he can stand on his own which is great… I get this odd feeling, Skyreach and Blagothkus is all he knows. The description Blagothkus told us about the human settlement, Ice Reach, didn’t appear to resonate any familiarity with Mordrock.”

Royce’s mind settles on Nong for a moment, “Nong is back which is good, but so is his uncomfortable stares and such. Every time I sense something, I turn and there he is, staring at me or sitting right beside me. As if that isn’t enough oddity, now my sword is complaining about being too close to the wand. We have to do something about this soon. That evil artifact has a mind of its own and will not just behave. Tempus what is this trial you have given me?”

Naismith turns over and tries to calm his mind from a day full of adventure, “I did not expect such a day. Today put my Skullport shenanigans to shame. Even though we managed to take those humongous things down, our synergy was off; it wasn’t the same without Kendall and Illian. Nong was fearless in battle of course, even more so than before. If there was an ounce of fear in him like I felt, he never showed it. Kendall and Illian would have been proud to be at his side today.”

Naismith thinks for a moment, “Unfortunately, we must take the good with the bad in this life. Nong outside of battle is back to his peculiarities again with Royce. I feel we’ve only just begun to tread down this road.”

Mordrock lay on his back staring at the ceiling 100 feet above. He exhales and watches his breath condense into a misty cloud that slowly dissipates, “Skyreach is just as awesome as I remember it, except for the 3 huge burrow holes and dead remorhazes in the courtyard. Blagothkus looks a bit older and a tad less agile, but aren’t we all? His story about freeing his wife’s spirit is bittersweet; may Kelemvor show her the way to eternal rest. One day you free your wife’s spirit, say goodbye and the next day random pegasi show up and never leave your side…pretty awesome.” Mordrock shifts over to his side, before closing his eyes he scans the top of the bed, taking in the guys who call themselves the Drow’s Bane, “These three seem cool although I think the cleric and monk are embarrassed to talk to me about their past relationship that might have gone sour. I get it, we have only known each other for 2 days. The way I see the monk stare at the cleric tells me the attraction is not over. The last thing we need on this trip is for romantic drama to get in the way.”

Nong settles into a deep meditative state; he returns his breadth to its familiar steady rhythm of inhales and exhales. He allows his mind to awaken and focus deeply inward, “I acknowledge the the feeling of satisfaction for my battle discipline today. I acknowledge a moment of regret that Kendall and Illian were not on the battlefield with us. I allow myself to feel content for the camaraderie with Royce and Naismith again.” Nong’s breadth pauses as his mind moves deeper into reflection. He allows his mind to uncover something that has returned, something that is open again. Nong’s mind sees an eye staring back at him from the far corner of his mind…somewhere on the distant horizon. He moves toward the eye, reaches out and touches it. The contact generates an emotion – a feeling of being in the heat of battle…adrenaline…strength…control…focus. There is also a subtler feeling underneath that Nong uncovers.

He allows his mind to experience this deeper feeling; it is one of chaos, submission to a greater power and of dominance over all. This feeling is so intense and intoxicating; it seems to nourish itself on the feelings of battle. Nong’s breadth is unsteady now as he moves his mind away from the eye. He tries to regain the steady breathing rhythm but it is difficult. He awakens and his eyes lock on Royce’s; immediately Royce looks away. Nong turns over and begins to calm his mind again; hopefully this time he can just fall asleep.