Lana and the Flying Carpet
The Quest begins
Preliminary research in the Magicians' Guild suggested that to create a flying carpet a suitable component would be a volume of enchanted cloud, such as those rumoured to occupy the skies over Ylaruam. It was hinted in the tomes Lana consulted that aerial devices such as carpets had first been created by Ylari sorcerers, thus Lana considered the desert nation a fitting place to begin her quest.
A day prior to her departure from Glaston two familiar faces appeared in the doorway of the cottage Lana was renting while waiting for the construction of her tower to complete. Here were Conor and Antonius, Lana's one-time companions from her exploits in Thyatis. The wily thief and musclebound ex-gladiator had journeyed from the eastern Empire to find Lana as she possessed the Desert Rose - the fabulous jewelled brooch gifted by the Ylari ambassador whom Conor, Antonius and Lana among others had rescued from the Storm Soldiers of Hattias. Lana begrudgingly paid Conor and Antonius their cash equivalents of the item's value, thinking it sensible to decline when Antonius offered to take custody of the other parties' entitlements.
Journey to Ylaruam
Upon hearing that Lana planned to travel to dusty Ylaruam the newcomers volunteered to accompany her. That night Conor was teleported to Parsa, a small settlement in the Makistan region in the north-west reaches of Ylaruam. Having only visited the place once before, Lana watched through her crystal ball in horror as Conor appeared too high above his intended destination, and crashed through both storeys of the dwelling beneath. Two days passed until both Lana and Antonius were able to join the barbarian, who was still nursing wounds. True to Lana's past experience, the Makistani proved gracious hosts providing food drink and rest for the three travellers. Lana spoke with one of the village elders about her search for magical cloud, and was directed to seek a Makistani sorcerer named Babrak who resided in an isolated tower in the western hills. It was rumoured that this individual fraternised with the air spirits known as the djinn. If Babrak could not point Lana in the proper direction then almost certainly his associates would be able to.
Trekking through hills the next day all three companions were unnerved when a young girl stepped out from behind a rock. Not seeming to comprehend Thyatian, Lana attempted to converse with the child in her other tongues of Goblin, Elf and Dragon, and marvelled when the girl responded in the last of the three, her tiny form expanding to become that of an enormous gold dragon. The creature introduced herself as Ayesha and, after a cordial interchange, said she would be happy to escort the travellers to the home of the wizard Babrak. Ayesha explained that Babrak did not speak Thyatian however she was prepared to act as interpreter.
The Makistani Sorcerer
Babrak's tower emerged from its surroundings, a lofty construction reaching high into the skies. The wizard appeared and introduced himself, inviting the three guests to partake of a hot drink of their choice - both tea and coffee were available. Once the formalities of preparing and serving the drinks had been performed a conversation followed, Lana explaining the reason for her quest and her wish to obtain enchanted cloud. Babrak approved of her quest for knowledge and spoke of the Ylari hero Al-Kalim who himself embarked on many adventures, reportedly through both time and space. Babrak arranged for Lana to meet a djinn acquaintance of his, named Barabjabal, in the floating City of the Desert Breeze which at that time was located over the Oasis of Kuznetz in a distant corner of the desert. Lana's spirits lifted when she heard the oasis was only a day's ride away and that to assist her in her quest Babrak would summon a roc, an enormous eagle-like creature, to serve as her steed for the trip.
Bidding farewell to Conor and Antonius who wished to pursue their own path, Lana flew out the next morning clinging to the golden-feathered roc. The creature flew so swiftly that Lana struggled to draw breath for most of the trip. She marvelled as the plains passed beneath her, merchant caravans appearing like specks on the dusty tracks below. As the sun began its descent that evening the tops of palm trees appeared on the horizon, prompting the roc to flap its mighty wings and gain altitude. Breaking through the clouds overhead an immense city came into view, seemingly carved from the cloud itself. The roc touched down on solid cloud which was firm and supportive underfoot. A lone figure detached from the city and began walking in the newcomers' direction. His neat black beard and blue-skinned torso gleamed in the evening sun as he walked yet from the waist down he appeared insubstantial. This, was the djinni Barabjabal, who extended a cordial welcome to Lana then bid her enter his home - the City of the Desert Breeze.
The City of the Djinn
Lana marvelled as she toured the city which served as home to thousands of djinn inhabitants, both male and female. Many passed their time surveying the mortal inhabitants of the village beneath through a massive scrying device which the djinn termed their World Window. The many buildings and slender towers all appeared to have been hewn from the solid cloud. Lana explained how her search was for some of that enchanted cloud, and she politely enquired whether the djinn might be persuaded into parting with a small portion. Barabjabal shook his head, explaining that this particular cloud emanated directly from the elemental Plane of Air and would dissipate if separated from its source. Instead, Barabjabal recommended that Lana seek the clouds inhabited by the cloud giants, several of whom lived nearby and whose magics rendered clouds more stable. Lana agreed therefore after a sumptuous feast (conjured before her eyes by the djinni's magic) and a good night's rest the pair departed in search of cloud giants.
Lana invoked a Fly spell to travel alongside her djinni companion, the two discussing their respective cultures and comparing the constraints of mortal society on the one hand to the ways of the djinn on the other hand who, while benevolent and noble beings, revelled in leading lives fraught with variety and disorder.
After a couple of hours' flight Lana felt her spell wane and called to Barabjabal to assist her. To her alarm the djinni had vanished. Had the novelty of her errand worn off, she wondered, causing her guide to abandon her? With her heart racing Lana began an enchantment to renew her power of flight but too late, she found herself falling from the skies. A hearty laugh was heard before Barabjabal re-appeared only feet beneath to catch the falling mage. Next the djinni bid Lana turn her head as she was alerted to an enormous winged creature closing on their locationů a blue dragon! While Lana, ever the dragon enthusiast, was delighted to lay eyes on such a creature having met dragons of most other colours, she could not help but stiffen with anxiety as the creature drew near and Barabjabal made no attempt to avoid being spotted. Lightning issued from the dragon's maw, washing over djinni and human alike. Something clicked inside Lana's mind as she realised the dragon was a figment. As she turning to regard Barabjabal accusingly the phantasm vanished and the djinni let out a great laugh. He apologised for having been unable to resist the practical joke. Lana too laughed, seeing the funny side, and the two continued on their way.
Late that afternoon a cloud came into view bearing a sizeable keep hewn from the solid airy matter. The companions descended, setting down on the cloud before Lana advanced alone toward the keep. As she did, winged shapes detached from a tower on one corner of the stronghold and three immense hawks swooped down upon her. Realising these were probably pets of whichever being occupied the cloud keep, Lana decided to forego the use of harmful magic. Instead she extended her Wand of Fear sending out a cone of shimmering magic which caught two of the birds head-on, causing them to wheel in mid-air and fly away at speed. A third hawk continued its advance. Lana snapped her fingers and a brilliant flash erupted before the bird's eyes, causing it to crumple to the cloud beneath where it landed awkwardly.
Silence descended. Lana resumed her advance, marvelling at the solid cloud which felt like tilled earth underfoot. To her dismay a second trio of hawks rose from the aviary tower, heading in her direction. Losing no time she invoked a Mirror Image before creating an illusory Ice Storm, catching all three birds as they fell shivering to the ground. Lana caught her breath as an immense figure, easily twenty feet tall, appeared on the keep's battlements hefting a cloud boulder in one hand. Lana called out that she approached as a friend, and did not wish to offend, but these words (if they were heard) fell too late. A boulder sailed through the air, despatching her sole image. Lana stood her ground, imploring the giant to see reason but to no avail, as a second boulder descended catching her fully beneath its mass. She found herself pinned, unable to move as she struggled for what seemed an eternity before managing to free herself. As she rose, exhausted, to her feet, she saw Barabjabal had been set upon by a roc, much larger than the hawks which Lana's magic had felled. She turned to face the giant, a third boulder in its hand, and cried out for its assault to cease. She apologised for her intrusion but implored the giant to speak with her and consider the request she wished to make. The figure descended from the battlements and a moment later, as the keep's drawbridge descended, came out to meet with Lana. The giant was in fact a giantess, her skin pale grey in colour, her hair long sleek and white, and her elegant gown cut in a recent Thyatian style. As if the giantess' size wasn't daunting enough, a ten-foot scimitar hung in a scabbard on her belt.
A meeting with Giants ... the Cloud Castle
Lana bowed, making clear that she had harmlessly incapacitated the hawks which had attacked her, and that no lasting harm had been done. The giantess softened slightly, stating that Lana's mercy was noted. She introduced herself as Thylia. Lana made her request for a portion of magical cloud. Thylia considered this a bold demand (though she was impressed by Lana's audacity) but declared she would need to discuss the matter with her sister Zelzara who dwelled within the keep. Whistling for her roc to cease attacking Barabjabal, the pair entered the keep and met a second giantess, her teeth sharpened into frightening fangs indicating a preferred diet of meat. This second giantess asked her sister whether this small human was to provide dinner for the night. Lana took this as a joke however it was clear the giantesses' food supplies were low; neither one had eaten in four nights. Lana's request for a section of cloud was declared outrageous but, the giantesses conceded, would be considered if Lana could journey to the village below and procure a suitable quantity of food and drink. It seemed that faced with starvation they had no choice but to consider all their options.
The Ylari Village
Lana accepted the challenge and descended to the village where she found to her dismay that the villagers' supplies were as depleted as the giantesses'. The winter had been harsh and the nomad traders had not yet been able to bring through supplies. Still, Lana wore the bejewelled Desert Rose and the villagers acknowledged the status this conferred, rendering them more amenable to her request. Lana was therefore able to procure roughly half the number of goats and sheep (at extortionate prices!) the giantesses had requested. This would at least stave off starvation for a while.
Thinking it best to report back to the giantesses to arrange transportation of the animals, Lana flew up to the cloud castle before returning to the village where she was confronted by the villagers and accused of sorcery. Lana made clear that she had made no efforts to conceal her 'sorcerous nature' and that her magic was used only for goodly purposes. After suitable explanations and the utterance of a solemn oath before the village prayer-leader Lana was accepted by the villagers (and her potential execution staved off!).
Recruiting a couple of local lads to assist as shepherds, Lana led the herd of goats and sheep out of the village to the north, where she hoped the appearance of the giantesses' rocs would cause less of an upset to the villagers. An eight-foot long lizard appeared at one point, brutally savaging one goat before Lana struck it with a Polymorph effect to transmute the creature into a new form, that of a pig. Dark clouds then grew overhead as a rainstorm of immense proportions fell, obliging Lana to seek shelter with her flock in a nearby cave. The rain deluged down for hours, turning the arid ground to wet muck. Then as the downpour eased Lana cast Light upon a copper coin and emerged from the cave. Moments later five winged forms appeared overhead as the giantesses' rocs honed in on Lana's location, seizing up goats and sheep to transport the creatures skyward to their mistresses' domain. Several trips were made until on the final trip an enormous section of the hillside detached itself, having been weakened by the heavy rainfall, and thundered toward Lana. Acting on instinct Lana erected a Wall of Ice which held back the mudslide for just long enough to enable her to grab the rear trotter of the pig which was being seized up by the last departing roc. One of her boots remained embedded in the mud as Lana was borne safely away without a heartbeat to spare.
Returning to the cloud castle the giantesses were dismayed that they were not to receive as many beasts as they had hoped for, though Lana pointed out that many humans risked starvation to ensure that the sisters would not go hungry. While the giantesses cared little for the welfare of lowly humans they acknowledged that Lana had provided the best service she was able to, therefore she would be permitted to take away a section of their enchanted cloud. Overjoyed, Lana filled her Bag of Holding to brimming with magical cloud before taking her leave of the giantesses and Teleporting home.
Arriving safely in the Wizards' Guild of Specularum Lana lost no time arranging for rooms to be made available for her use, before Teleporting to northern Threshold to meet the elfmaiden Cardia, whose carpet Lana was permitted to examine for a while. Returning to Specularum Lana enlisted the services of a middle-aged Ylari weaver named Mizra and the pair began the lengthy process of carpet manufacture, as carpet, cloud and spell were woven together inextricably over a four-week period. To Lana's delight the venture proved a success, and it was not long before she was speeding on her way to the Principalities of Glantri borne on the first magical item of her own creation.
Read on - Lana's Adventures in Glantri
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