Post date: Oct 06, 2010 4:22:24 AM

Dodecitina 14, 1000 PC

Famished from the battle with the devils to complete the warding ritual and investigating the tower, our heroes gather in the banquet hall to replenish their energy and discuss their next moves.

Sparta informs the group that Imhiakaam survived the fall that Sjach caused her. He also mentions that their may be a new foe, a Sher Baig, to plague the group should he still live. He is the crafter of the dagger that is now known as Manty's Heirloom.

Wintersky probes the spirits of the dagger and unintentionally summon Sher Baig from across the dimension of time and space. He departs with a threat as Wintersky's insight foils his plans to sow discord and misinformation in the minds of our heroes.

Turning their thoughts to Troll's Bridge, Celesta brings up that the demons that have been rampaging through Troll's Bridge may be their greatest challenge to approaching Zenda. She suggests speaking with Darzagon, the erstwhile partner of Sezdelishae the leader of the demons, to try and find and advantage of the succubus before facing her hordes.

Elenia, Wintersky, Dale and Sparta stand in the vault taking turns concentrating on the shelf in turn as they work on their items.

Nyza has been investigating the alchemy lab and Legeand the other areas of the tower.

Everyone realizes they are all quite hungry.

Nyza decides to take a break from her investigation. She sees what's up in the dining area.

Dale: Did someone mention breakfast?

Elenia: Yes, I did.

Dale: I was just about to go look for the kitchens when you found me.

Wintersky: Hey, Sparta, what do you know about that symbol on Manty's Heirloom?

Elenia 's stomach rumbles, "I think I will head down."

Dale: Heirloom? Oh, Sparta! You got your dagger back!

Elenia turns and looks over her shoulder as she is walking out the door, "Let us talk over breakfast...or lunch...or whatever meal we are eating."

Sparta: Not much Ms 'Sky, just what Grandpa told me after you worked your miracle.

Sparta: Yes, let's eat.

Sparta: Good food always makes for better tales.

Wintersky starts to head down to the kitchens.

Sparta and Dale follow the others to the dining room.

Nyza: Definitely a relief, that is. We do not have to go into the hells for him now.

Legeand, noticing a growling stomach, sniffs the air and begins hunting for food.

Wintersky: He was not in the hells.

Nyza: Maybe not now, but if you wait much longer for the rescue...

Wintersky: Who's cooking?

Sparta: It was still a miracle that you brought him back.

Wintersky: Yes, it was.

The group heads down the spiral staircase and follows the halls to an extravagant banquet hall with a long table set for seven.

Elenia: This is the table Celesta mentioned.

Elenia faces the table, "I would like an apple please."

Nyza: Medium or well done?

An apple appears on the plate in front of her.

Wintersky: What, do we get to invite a guest we have always wanted to dine with?

Dale and Sparta take their seats.

Dale: Perhaps Celesta will be joining us with little Isildul.

Wintersky sits at the table.

The wailing of a baby suddenly breaks the calm as a door opens across from the banquet hall.

Celesta enters the room with a crying Isildul.

Sparta: I would like ham and eggs, with a side of toast and jelly, a bowl of fruit, sweet breads and a platter of cheeses.

Celesta: Why can babies not come with tomes?

Dale jumps from her chair to help Celesta.

All of what Sparta requests appears before him

Wintersky: Babies can not read and their mothers object to giving birth to sharp edges.

Celesta laughs.

Dale: Did you just feed him, he probably needs to burp, or maybe his diapers changed.

Celesta: Just changed him, but he has been wailing and not burping.

Nyza: Hmm...he does not cry just to annoy you.

Dale: May I hold him while you eat. I'll see if I can comfort him a little.

Wintersky: I was just thinking a change of scenery might help.

Celesta: You look far hungrier than I, Dale. Go ahead. I need to figure this out.

Dale looks disappointed, but isn't one to pass up a second offer for food.

Wintersky: There is a reason for two parents, except help when it is offered. You will need it.

Celesta smiles, "You will get plenty of opportunities, Dale."

Dale shares her smile.

Dale: I'm glad to hear that.

Celesta: I am letting my famished help eat first.

Dale: Perhaps someday Sparta will give me a little one of my own to care for.

Nyza: Just one? Your clanhold should not be so empty.

Nyza: Sparta, you had better work hard at it!

Wintersky: Berries, fish, water and corn mush, please.

Elenia: I think you are being too gentle, Celesta. You need to be just a bit more forceful with your patting.

Food appears before Wintersky and others as they request.

Sparta replies, between mouthfuls of food...

Sparta: Dale and I are still children in our community. My 33rd birthday is still a year away.

Wintersky eats, finding to her surprise that she is indeed very hungry.

Celesta glances over at Elenia with a look of academic calculation.

Dale: A girl can still hope for a big family, can't she?

Nyza looks to the side, avoiding the question.

Celesta: I only just turned 34, but I would be considered and old maid in Troll's Bridge.

Dale: Halflings take things a little more slowly than you big folk.

Celesta is a bit more forceful with her patting of Isildul.

Nyza: Nyza is a little far on the other side of the spectrum, yes? 10 is a little young to be a mother for a kobold.

Wintersky hands Celesta a clean cloth.

Wintersky: Put that under him if you do not want a milky shower.

Dale calls for her breakfast by combining Sparta's and Wintersky's orders.

Isildul suddenly quiets...and then belches like a drunk dwarf.

Celesta: Oh, my.

Celesta laughs, "I am glad I am not wearing my good robes."

Sparta: Yes, that sounds better. I bet he'll want to take a nap after getting that out of his system.

Wintersky: Well, I did warn you.

Celesta: I will let one of you get done eating at least your first helping, then we will see about getting him to sleep.

Celesta: So, Wintersky's miracle worked, I see.

The mountain of food in front of Sparta dwindles rapidly.

Wintersky: I have had enough.

Sparta: Yes, it did! She rescued Grandpa.

Sparta: But he has some news for us.

Wintersky: Give the two remaining large trout to SnowShadow.

Sparta: Imhiamkaam yet lives.

Celesta: I had a feeling.

Sparta: And she may have seen the mark upon the hilt of his dagger.

Celesta: What mark would that be?

Sparta: It seems Grandpa filched this dagger from a wizard when he was young halfling himself, a thousand years ago on another world.

Sparta: The makers mark, you can see it here.

Sparta draws the blade from his sheath to show the sigil upon the hilt.

Legeand: So, we might have to deal with him later?

Sparta: Perhaps...If he yet lives and if Imhiakaam knows how to find him.

Wintersky: But after a thousand years the maker should be long gone.

Nyza: So is she from the other world too?

Sparta: If he still lives after a thousand years, he will be a terrible foe. Perhaps a lich or worse.

Celesta: We know wizards often long out live their welcome.

Celesta: ...or maybe I should say unlive.

Wintersky: Why would he want the dagger back so badly?

Sparta: We know Gresham has lasted these thousand years since we met him in Walton.

Celesta: And Isildul.

Sparta: Grandpa didn't tell me that part, just that Sher Baig chased the dagger to this world once before.

Sparta: I'm guessing he left empty-handed.

Manitowoc: Back when my grandson Hurley was a whelp.

Wintersky: Did the dagger have great magical properties before your Grandfather inhabited it?

Sparta: Hurley? He was a bard wasn't he. The family tale says he was there when Grandma fell to the orcs.

Manitowoc: I think Sher Baig had grand plans for it, but then I got trapped inside when trying to...

Wintersky: Perhaps it is a phylactery of some sort.

Wintersky senses something about Manitowoc's sudden silence.

Legeand: Or, it is a clerical tool?

Manitowoc quivers.

Wintersky: Manty, what is happening?

Sparta: I'm sorry Grandpa, I didn't mean to bring back a bad memory for you.

Manitowoc: Liches' phylacteries had something to do with my current condition.

Manitowoc: ...but looking on the bright side, there are two less liches around than there could have been.

Wintersky: May I, Sparta, Manitowoc?

Sparta: But if Sher Baig wanted to use your dagger as his phylactery and if he yet lives, he must have found another way of staving off death.

Sparta: Yes, of course.

Sparta hands his Grandpa to Wintersky.

Wintersky: Thank you.

Manitowoc: So, what do you have in mind, lady shaman?

Wintersky examines the dagger closely, reaching out with her spirit much like she did to the dragon orbs.

Manitowoc: Hey, that tickles.

Legeand: So devils, liches, demons, there anything here not trying to kill us?

Dale: Don't forget the dragons.

Wintersky: Shh! Quiet, you, I want to see if anything else is there.

Nyza looks on curiously.

Wintersky gets a very good image of an ancient looking halfling standing in a void, quite alone.

Celesta quietly walks out of the room with a sleeping Isildul.

Wintersky tries to see what holds him there and then tries to look beyond to the shape to see what was supposed to be there.

Wintersky probes beyond the halfling and sees a vague image of a tall, thin humanoid--almost human--with yellowish skin handling the dagger much as she can see it now.

Wintersky's eyes roll into the back of her head and she stands in a trance as she concentrates.

Wintersky sees the being look up from the dagger and stares back into her mind's eye. He laughs.

Wintersky tries to break away from the contact.

Nyza: W-wintersky?

Sparta: Ms 'Sky, are you alright?

Wintersky stands rigid as the distant sound of laughter slowly comes closer and is audible to all.

Wintersky: Manty, help me break free.

The image of a tall, thin humanoid with yellowish skin appears at the far end of the banquet hall.

Sparta tries to wrestle the dagger from Wintersky.

Sher Baig: There is my precious. Such a long time since I have seen the greatest creation of my youth.

Wintersky tries to cast Protection from Evil.

Manitowoc raises a Magic Circle against Evil around the area.

Sher Baig frowns, "That is not what you are supposed to do, my precious."

Nyza: How did you get inside?

Sparta: It's not your precious.

Sher Baig: Halflings are always so much trouble.

Sher Baig: Fortunately, they have been eradicated from my world.

Wintersky: What are you doing here?

Sparta gasps.

Sher Baig: You summoned me, of course. My curiosity got the better of me.

Nyza (quietly to Sparta): Hold, please.

Wintersky: Does that mean you will grant me three wishes?

Sparta looks to Nyza curiously.

Legeand sits there watching his companions talk to the mage thing.

Sher Baig laughs, "I am no genie"

Nyza: This is fortuitous! We have a problem with your dagger...or rather, Sparta's grandfather does. You make the dagger, so maybe you can help?

Celesta walks back into the room carrying Isildul's staff.

Wintersky: What are you?

Sher Baig: What am I? What kind of a question is that? I am a person such as yourself.

Sher Baig's eyes turn to Celesta with a quaint smile.

Wintersky: A thousand years old?

Sher Baig is disrupted by Wintersky's question, "Far older than that."

Celesta: I believe the indiginous fey of your world live indefinitely, as do I.

Celesta (whispering): He is an astral projection.

Nyza thinks, but is not familiar with this race of beings.

Wintersky: You are Fey?

Sher Baig: No, not Fey, but immortal nonetheless.

Wintersky knows he is lying and has managed to extend his life, though he is not registering as undead.

Wintersky: Your flesh seems too old to be immortal. Not ageless.

Sher Baig narrows his gaze at Wintersky suspiciously.

Wintersky looks back serenely.

Sher Baig's expression changes to concerned.

Celesta (teasingly): Sher Baig, you look troubled. Is our SpiritTalker getting the best of you?

Sher Baig scowls, "You have yet another adversary added to you very long list of enemies, my friends."

Sher Baig vanishes.

Celesta: That is not surprising.

Wintersky is released from her trance and hands the dagger back to Sparta.

Sparta: Thank you.

Sparta looks carefully at his dagger

Nyza: Think he is sensitive about his age?

Celesta: I think he found someone he cannot bluff.

Elenia: The mark of a true Great Shaman.

Wintersky: Sorry. Did not mean to stir up trouble.

Manitowoc: I was hoping I had seen the last of him. It had been centuries.

Celesta: Another mark of a true Great Shaman?

Wintersky: The dagger is connected to him somehow.

Dale: I don't think it will be centuries before we see him again.

Wintersky raises an eyebrow at Celesta.

Celesta giggles.

Elenia smiles and looks innocent.

Sparta: Our first task is still to rescue Troll's Bridge from Grandma. Now that we have Grandpa back, we need to make the most of it.

Wintersky: Our todo list keeps getting longer.

Manitowoc: Save Troll's Bridge from Zenda?

Sparta: Celesta, can you explain your theory for Grandpa?

Celesta nods, "Zenda was born in the fires of the cataclysm that ended the last cycle, was she not, Manitowoc?"

Legeand: Well, at least we can say the longer it gets, the safer the world is.

Elenia: All focused on us...sounds like a bad idea to me.

Nyza: That is what Oli's little expedition is for.

Celesta: If I may continue?

Celesta addressing the dagger, "Zenda will complete her 1000th year in less than a fortnight. If this happens, she will release another cataclysm with the power she has gained over that time and destroy Troll's Bridge...maybe more...if not released."

Manitowoc: Oh.

Manitowoc: So, the emperor's scabbard is our slim hope of success. I hope someone is trying to persuade him to make an appearance. That is where Lord Oliveryn is?

Celesta: And Aifos, Luanes and Eregard.

Sparta: And, we are to meet them in Troll's Bridge, so we can help Grandma Zenda find her peace.

Celesta: They have not been gone very long. They probably have not even talked with him yet.

Dale: If we are successful with Nana, we'll still need to put down the demons and devils that are attacking the city.

Celesta: We may need to take care of them first to even approach Zenda.

Celesta: We are well aware of Imhiakaam and Hardun, but the leader of the demons may cause us the most trouble.

Dale: I spent most of my magic this morning, though time is precious, if we rush too quickly to the battle, we won't be ready to save anyone. Not even ourselves

Nyza: Do you think the demons know about the danger with Nana? It is awfully coincidental that they show up just now.

Wintersky: A major cataclysm would make total world subjugation much easier.

Celesta: From what I learned, the demons have been operating in Troll's Bridge, well hidden, for centuries. They did not make themselves known until our little incident with Darzagon when House Elan fell.

Sparta: Darzagon? The demon you trapped in Lyphnur's Tower?

Celesta: Yes, the same.

Dale: My this is complicated, like a spider's web. Pull the wrong strand and the whole world might collapse.

Celesta: The succubus Sezdelishae is Darzagon's partner in crime and we need to find a weakness in her before we enter Troll's Bridge.

Elenia: I have heard of this Sezdelishae.

Wintersky: Anything useful?

Elenia: She hides in the shadows of the northern reaches of Troll's Bridge.

Celesta: The worst part of the city for crime.

Elenia: There was an incident there a couple of years ago...rumors of a rift between her and her partner, but no one could name this partner.

Celesta: The reason is that House Elan covered everything up when they trapped Darzagon with Sezdelishae's help.

Sparta: Do you think Darzagon might want his revenge?

Wintersky: I do not think we could free him in any case.

Celesta: He might be helpful enough if we can out smart him.

Dale: Is that a good idea? It is rarely a good idea to try to strike a bargain with a demon.

Wintersky: He would be just as likely to take his revenge on us, then find Sezdelishae.

Celesta: But not until he is freed and I am not letting him go anywhere.

Wintersky: What do you have in mind?

Celesta: Demons such as Darzagon do not do their own dirty work as capable as he is of it. He may give us a hint if we offer to get his revenge for him.

Wintersky: Demons play mind tricks.

Celesta: That is where you, Wintersky, and Manitowoc will be very useful. Spotting the deceptions and preventing the mind tricks.

Dale: Won't his ends be served better if we fail?

Celesta: I am sure he does not care which order they might happen. It will also be much easier without his favorite target Luanes involved.

Wintersky: Yes, this is true. Luanes' sense of justice is easily manipulated.

Celesta: Luanes may even be a bargaining point in a conversation with Darzagon.

Wintersky: How so?

Nyza: Huh? We cannot "bargain" her!

Celesta: Forgive me. I am letting my Troll's Bridge aristocratic nature get involved here. It is a game and I have no intention of helping Darzagon obtain Luanes' soul.

Celesta: Luanes is far from here and we may be able to eliminate Sezdelishae before she returns to Troll's Bridge.

Wintersky: You better explain what you mean?

Elenia: Darzgon and Sezdelishae cannot team up in their conquest for Luanes, correct, Celesta?

Celesta nods.

Wintersky looks from Elenia to Celesta, still not understanding.

Celesta: The demons are split up now. This makes it easier to deal with each separately. When Luanes returns, Sezdelishae is already gone and we will have gained the power to then take out Darzagon when he is alone.

Celesta looks at each of those around the table questioningly.

Isildul can be heard crying again in the distance.

Celesta stands, "Think about it." She leaves the room to take care of her child.

Legeand: Well, to bad we cannot do what some stories say to do to with the river boat man of the dead; trick him to think you are after another goal in the Hells.

Sher Baig