:: Dungeons & Dragons - The Threshold Party - The Perdissium Papers, Volume XXV - From Haven to Exile ::

The Perdissium Papers - Volume XXVI
The Sands of Ylaruam

Soladain 21st Yarthmont 1007
The Cask and Barrel Inn, Thyatis City, Empire of Thyatis

Master Tyrannon paid me an unexpected visit today. I was surprised, as I hadn't seen him since our escapade with the rival senators, and I'd been under the impression that he was eager to get out of the city - something to do with being in trouble with one of the local thieves' guilds or something. It turns out he'd been hanging around until his friend Connor had quite recuperated from his ordeal on the aetheral plane. His timing was quite opportune, as, having finished my researches I was preparing to leave the city myself.

Antonius presented me with a map he had been harbouring for many years, one which had evidently been copied from much older original. It showed two things - the first, an ancient treasure located in the northern uplands of Ylaruam, and the second, the route followed by a doomed Alphatian expedition to reach said treasure, noted by the survivors of the adventure.

It appeared that Antonius wished to retain my services on an expedition to retrace the Alphatians' path. He knew that my next stop was to be in Ylaruam (but not the purpose of my trip - that I have told no man!) and saw it as an opportunity for mutual benefit. As we talked, I learned more of his motivation - though the treasure itself interests Antonius, his true curiosity lies with the expedition's fate, for it would appear that the adventure was carried out aboard a Windrider, and from what was scribbled on this map, its wreckaged may yet contain a key element of its power - its own Internal Conjuration Engine.

Now, this interested me no end. I have a more than passing curiousity regarding Windriders and the prospect of examining a critical component of one intrigues me greatly. Further, I have my suspicions that this great treasure which the Sunset Queen (for such was the name of the Alphatian vessel) sought after is somehow associated with Hutaaka, for the name Yeenoghu is noted on the chart. Finally, the survivors of the expedition made their way to the city of Sura-Man-Raa, which of course is Narzarina's last known location.

I had planned on journeying to Sura-Man-Raa alone, but Antonius' offer could be of benefit. He knows how to wield a blade, and his companion is a mighty warrior, and frankly, I find myself enjoying his company, though I can't quite say why. He's quite disorganised and his mind whirls like a sandstorm (I took the trouble to poke around in there - an enlightening experience to be sure!) but he has a vital spark to him that I find... invigorating. Perhaps it's some manifestation of my mourning for my own lost youth, but his boisterous energy might do me some good.

So I believe I shall take him up on his offer. I shall, of course, play the part of the hired retainer, for a full share of the profit (I suspect he wouldn't have offered that without some extraordinary persuasion on my own part). Little does Antonius suspect that my own purposes are being served here. I see no harm arising to either of them in keeping my own motivations quiet for now...

So, I find myself adventuring with a nimble swordsman and a lumbering brute. It should be interesting. We spend tomorrow making preparations, and the day after I shall send both my companions to Tel Akbir via the wizard's long stride, myself following the day after. For some reason, Antonius insists I give Connor a personal tutorial on flight spells tomorrow as part of our preparations. Strange little man...

Lunadain 22nd Yarthmont 2007
The Cask and Barrel Inn, Thyatis City, Empire of Thyatis

Infuriation! The common flight spell requires the minimum expenditure of concentration to control. Its operation is within the grasp of the simplest child. And yet I have spent an unfeasible amount of time today trying to teach a barbarian the most basic of maneuvres. The man's inability to grasp the simple concept of "concentration" was infuriating enough, but once we'd gotten over that hurdle he seemed incapable of the coherent thought required to move himself in any sort of a dignified manner.

After thirty minutes watching Connor jump a few feet into the air and fail to engage the enchantment, Antonius suggested we concentrate on the more likely dilemma which would face the barbarian - landing. I agreed, and, casting a flight spell of my own, dragged the wailing simpleton thirty feet into the sky, whereupon he began to shake like a leaf. It's strange; he doesn't strike me as the most intelligent of men at the best of times, but he at least knows which end of a polearm to jab into his enemies. Take him up any height, however, and the man becomes a complete dolt. I wonder if he has some fear of heights that somehome diminishes his already low intelligence to miniscule levels. Perhaps, since he is such a man of instinct, being in the sky somehow jars with those instincts to an extent that he's rendered incapable of concentrated thought. Whatever the reason, we eventually managed to coax the barbarian down with partial success. After nearly an hour of watching him hanging, trembling in the air, Antonius and I eventually watched, astounded, as Connor, eyes screwed up with concentration, slowly rotated end over end until his head pointed to the ground and, inch by inch, he crept towards the ground at a glacial pace.

I considered this a sufficient enough success to terminate the infuriating lesson there and then. Frankly, after this the man could fall shrieking from the sky for all I care. I'll send Antonius first on the morrow - that way it'll be his problem.

Thank Rad I have tomorrow to do all the things I would have done today had I not been teaching a moron how to fly. And meditate. Definitely meditation.

Gromdain 23rd Yarthmont 2007
The Cask and Barrel Inn, Thyatis City, Empire of Thyatis

Well, the dolt and his keeper are away. After all that work yesterday I was hoping that Connor would materialise above the ground but, annoyingly, he arrived exactly on the pier I was targeting. Antonius was less lucky, once again receiving a watery welcome. At least this time I had cast Water Breathing on him, but nonetheless when he surfaced, spluttering and cursing, he did not look amused. I could swear as he dragged his bedraggled form out of the water he stared straight at the aspect I was scrying upon him from... I'm not looking forward to seeing him tomorrow - doubtless I'll get an earful.

Final preparations are complete. On the morrow I shall follow my companions to Tel Akbir. Antonius has already been entrusted with finding a fast ship to Surra-Man-Raa, and I have only a few things to take care of in Tel Akbir itself. The day after tomorrow we shall be en route northward.

Meanwhile, I find myself musing more and more over an opportunity which may have presented itself. My recent success in creating a wand and, in so doing, allowing its power to be replenished has drawn my attention to the possibility of recharging those other magical items I have in my possession whose power diminishes with each use. If, like me, their creators made them susceptible to replenishment then there should be little stopping me from restoring them to their full strength. I shall run some experiments in the morning - now that I know what I am looking for a simple experiment with the materials I have at my disposal should suffice. I'll have the time on board ship to run my tests, and can pick up the necessary materials here in Thyatis before I depart on the morrow. I've started a new notebook on this matter, but will record further details here as well.

Tserdain 24th Yarthmont 1007
The Drowned Duke, Tel Akbir, Empire of Thyatis

I arrived safely in Tel Akbir this evening after taking care of some final business in Thyatis during the day. I transported myself to the end of the pier, finding Antonius awaiting me, as planned, and as expected he ranted at length about his second teleport induced dunking and how he might have drowned. My assertions that drowning was an impossibilty given my Water Breathing spell did not go down at all well.

Once the man had calmed (his mood can change quickly I've noticed, his apoplectic rages forgotten about in the next instance's good humour) he explained that he had commissioned passage for us on The Witch of the Waves, a Minrothad ship heading for Surra-Mann-Raa the next day. This pleased me; the Minrothadans know their business well, as I have discovered before, and, by my reckoning, it was almost a year to the day since Lana, Teldon and I set foot on another Minrothad ship from Tel Akbir to sail off to adventure in the unknown.

Antonius led me to The Drowned Duke, an inn of less than savoury character, but since we were only to berth there for a single night I did not complain. Connor, Antonius and I shared a meal in the common room before I retired for the night.

Moldain 25th Yarthmont 1007
The Witch of the Waves, upon the Sea of Dawn

Old wounds are easily re-opened, I was reminded today. We may watch them heal, thinking the flesh restored to its previous fortitude, but some weakness is always left behind. Wounds of the heart are no less predisposed toward revisitation, it would seem.

The ship was to set sail in the late afternoon. I decided to head into town to pick up some last minute supplies. The only noteworthy stop on my agenda was to the home-come-shop of my old friend Al-Farid. Once again I found the reclusive alchemist reluctant to open his door, but fortunately this time around I had a burly gladiator to shoulder his way in. The surprised purveyor recognised me after he picked himself up from off the floor, though he seemed less than pleased to see a returning customer. Recalling the sealed potion of healing I had acquired from Al-Farid the last time I had bothered him with my custom, I cautiously greeted him, explaining that I wished to buy more of his provender. The man eyed me suspiciously, and I got the distinct impression that he had expected never to see me again, which made me question the odds which I had diced with when I used the potion he supplied. At this point I reviewed the wisdom of deciding to purchase from the man again, but given the drought in potions reported by Antonius across the city, I decided I had no other choice.

Al-Farid relaxed after it became apparent I wasn't interested in vengeance, though he occasionally glanced at the hulking Connor standing with his arms crossed by the door. It turned out the eclectic alchemist had a single potion of healing in stock, his policy being to always keep one around for emergencies. I queried why his stock was so low and he replied that, as I expected the military had been pro-active in commissioning his services. Apparently the troubles on the border with Ylaruam had been stimulating demand for his services, though he observed that as a result certain components and reagents had been rendered difficult to come by. It occurred to me that I could do worse than retire from adventuring to set up shop as an alchemist myself, since business was so good. Musing on this I accepted his offer to sell the potion in question for 900 Lucins, which was pricey but not as bad as the last time. It appears that the solitary alchemist does appreciate return customers after all.

Concluding my business with Al-Farid and departing on good terms, Connor and I stepped outside into the noon sun to find Antonius having a seemingly heated conversation with three people, two of whom clung to one another, their eyes full of fear. The male of this pair, whom I now know to be called Niallan, was fair skinned with sandy blond hair and pale blue-grey eyes. He was roughly the same height and build as Antonius with strong cheekbones and a square jawline. The woman, Lucina, carried herself with evident breeding. She had long dark brown hair and large eyes of a similar hue. She was very pretty but I felt her features were somewhat softer and more girlish than those of the classic Thyatian beauty.

We stepped outside just in time to hear Antonius ask the third member of the trio, a lean, fidgety man in his thirties with stubbled hair and beard, if he knew him. The man referred to the Thyatian social scene and said something that seemed to take Master Tyrannon aback, before continuing to invoke the gratitude of Valerias for assisting this couple. I noticed then the rose shaped holy symbol around his neck.

Valerias. Of all the interfering immortals why, oh why did it have to be Valerias? In an instant, it all came back to me. The ruins of Eriadna, the dust hanging thick in the air. The dreaded wheel, stretched out before the baying crowd of pathetic refugees. Anora, her sympathetic smile turned to dust by the power of the Staff of Hutaaka. I had forced myself to forget, to suppress the emotions I had once allowed myself to feel, to place that horror behind me. Yet, in that moment, it all flooded back to me. Sorrow filled my heart, yet anger flowed from it.

I rounded on the cleric, openly declaring my disgust at the inference that I would be duped into assisting Valerias' dark purpose once again. Antonius attempted to interject (I subsequently learned that he had some sort of bargain with the church of Valerias which had previously required him to assisting) but I cut him off, seeking to end the encounter there and then. I was about to leave, when the young woman caught me eye, the fear in her face palpable. Despite my anger, something inside me was moved by her plight. To assist them was such a small effort on my part it would have been churlish to refuse, despite what I might feel toward their benefactor. I summoned a hallucination to block the alleyway and throw their pursuers off. Wishing them luck, I turned to leave.

Antonius then suggested that the trio join us on the ship, the better to speed them from their pursuers. I objected, of course, but Antonius insisted, surprising me with his passion around helping these two lovers. This seemed to go against everything I knew about the man, and took me aback. I did not wish to ensorcel him in front of the others so I relented, saying that the trio were Antonius' problem and that I had no desire to associate with the cleric. We walked the rest of the way to the ship in silence.

And so I write this in my cabin as the Witch of the Waves sails out of Tel Akbir, it is late afternoon and the ship is making good headway on the first leg on a voyage of over 400 miles. The ship is a Minroth clipper, smaller than the Sapphire Spirit upon which I was sailing around this time last year. It has a crew of roughy 25 and unlike the Sapphire Spirit they are exclusively human and male. The captain has rarely visited Surra-Man-Raa and says it couldn't really be considered a port but Antonius has paid him well and that's all that matters.

I am planning to limit my exposure to our unwelcome new guests. If Antonius wishes to take these charity cases under his wing so be it. I have other tasks to distract me from this folly.

Nytdain 26th Yarthmont 1007
The Witch of the Waves, upon the Sea of Dawn

The first day at sea. The winds are high but bow in the right direction, and the rigging is fairly humming as it channels the power of the wind into the hull. These trips eastward across the Sea of Dawn are becoming almost habitual for me now, but I still draw pleasure from being on board a well piloted craft. Having settled into my cabin and started my little project I emerged in the late morning to mingle with the crew and my companions.

Connor was having a long conversation with Niallan in a tongue unknown to me, which it later emerged was the language of their mutual homeland. The hulking barbarian seemed happy to have the chance to revisit his native tongue. It was odd to hear him speak at what could almost be considered length (for him) in the strange consonant-heavy language.

Antonius moved amongst the crew, helping them with the operation of the craft. Though he admitted the Witch of the Waves was larger than the ships he's piloted before he was still of use to the captain and gladly chipped in, clambering around the rigging with a smile on his face as the wind blew through his hair.

This evening yielded the first results from my preliminary research. From the tests I've been able to devise without access to a full lab it would appear that the various wands in my possession have all been made without the ability to replenish them. I can understand that, as the savings rendered by not enabling recharging were a considerable temptation when I crafted my own wand. I suppose that if these items were made as gifts or for sale, the creator would have had little motivation to allow them to be recharged - if a gift of some sort it would be in the wizard's interest to limit his generosity for fear it would be used against him; if for sale it makes sense to bring the customer back for another wand rather than allow them to recharge the one you've already sold them... Logically speaking I would assume that only wands intended for personal use, as my own, or those with a military application, such as the Alphatians', would be created with a recharge option. Still, it would be worth testing those wands I find in future - you never know. And I shall keep an eye out for an opportunity to acquire any Alphatian wands that may crop up... I assume that, as with their BoltWands, their military weapons are encrypted with secure command words, but I should have no problem in that regard, provided the soldiers I encounter are still able to talk once I've pacified them...

Late in the evening we rounded the peninsula of Tel Akbir, past Dawnpoint and, unfurling our full sails, on to Ylari waters. The ship moves so fast and smooth upon the water that I almost fancy I could close my eyes and imagine myself upon a windrider.

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