prev next

Rote-ay-ip Aruthala's Journal in Reverie

Chapter 21

After only a couple of days, we left Silk's Crossing; We went back to sea. We took no cargo. Mara was safely stowed in the hold, still in suspended animation. And the Bone Reaver's sword... um... we brought that too.

Our plan: We would cut across the Sea of Celestian, heading toward Tal Varish. (I was very curious about what had happened to the elves there.) We also wished to investigate rumors of a burning island of rusted gears -- call it the Isle of Rust and Flame. So Mado set our course, hoping that we would see this island along our route.

Perhaps I put too much faith in Mado's navigation skills.


We came to the islands of White and Black instead. Lots of birds on White (expected); Some smoke on Black (strange). Ah well. Now that we were there, we went ashore to steal more healing water, and to check up on the halfling settlers.

While halflings watched us from hiding, we made our way inland to the nearest temple on White. The temple was as we remembered it: a vast open sided chamber of white marble. And in the center was the fountain. Mado directed his pirate henchmen to fill casks with the precious water. I lurked near the edges of the temple, and left my mark on one of the columns.

We returned to the white sand shore, within sight our ship, and joined the pirates for a meal of fresh foul. While we ate, Mado wondered off. Later we learned that he had found the halfling village, and had convinced two of them to join us. Mado returned with the two halflings in tow.

Instead of waiting for Ubjoy and Gumble to gather all their food and cooking gear, Romalar, Andon, Gwen, and I left to explore the smoke on Black. We were sculled over to the other island by some of the pirates. Once on the island, my ha-bashe and her pet bear -- Boris/Smokey -- went in search of honey.

We found a flock of fatalistic bird spirits (and it was possible to capture their souls in a gem as Lord Strith had taught me). Then we found more halflings, harvesting a honey bird nest. (A honey bird nest?) Anyway, Smokey was happy. And then we rejoined Mado and his halflings, and returned to the ship before nightfall.

And then we left. Thank Strith!


Things we learned:

Several days after leaving White and Black, we saw a pillar of smoke on the horizon. Perhaps we were finally on coarse. Perhaps we would see the isle of Rust and Flame next.

Chapter 22

We did find an island under all that smoke. But since we didn't stop there, I'll be brief: Shores of red sand sloped up to a column of smoke; Several villages served as homes for humanoid creatures; An odd vessel pursued our ship, frightening my companions. And then we sailed away.

Perhaps I can be a little more descriptive.

It was approximately one week from White & Black that we saw the burning island. Before coming close enough to see the shore with any accuracy, a strange construct turned from its trolling to intercept our ship. It was roughly square, twenty feet on a side, made of metal pipes and struts. This strange vessel so frightened my companions, that it affected all our encounters until we left the area. We raced away before an elemental wind, and the pipe construct followed.

Between banks of smoke the island shore was revealed. The beaches were red sand, streams of water flowed down to the sea and burst into flame, yet people lived here. Gnomes lived in the fishing villages along the shore, where several more pipe and strut vessels were pulled up on the beach. We did not stay to see more, as we fled before the pipe-strut vessel that followed us.

There were more villages, each coming into view in succession as we were chased around the isle. Some of these villages were abandoned. In one abandoned village, a large, armored figure stalked between empty dwellings. Perhaps the gnomish islanders were being threatened by this dangerous creature. But we would not know, as we fled before the pipe-strut vessel.

We were not pursued as we set back out to sea. And only one day later we sighted the sea's western shore, a little north of Tal Varish.


Mado set course south, along the shore, and we sailed into the evening. But something strange was happening. The night glowed green; The whole ship was enveloped in a sickly green haze. And it grew brighter as we sailed toward the elven city -- Tal Varish. But instead of lighting our way, the green haze only made it harder to see beyond the ship's rail. Concerned for the safety of our ship, we dropped anchor to await the dawn.

I awoke at the first sounds of battle. We were ambushed: Dozens of cursed mortals, rotting and risen from the dead, climbed up the ship's sides and over the railing. Although we were all on deck, my companions were scattered, and some of us were still asleep. The attack had effectively caught us unprepared, and we were in a desperate fight for our lives.

The creatures were like ghouls and ghasts, with a horrible stench and a paralyzing touch. In short order, Andon was down, paralyzed by ghoul touch. Soon after, Gwen and her pet bear were also paralyzed and swarmed by voracious undead. While Mado adroitly and ineffectually dodged, Romalar began to fly and shoot at the unholy creatures from just off the ship's port edge.

I detected one creature that was different from all the others. This one was once an elf. It seemed to direct the others, and its power smothered my own attempts to rebuke our attackers. In response, I unleashed a bolt of lightning at this leader. It was damaged, but undeterred. The greatest benefit of my attack, was to identify this one creature to Mado, who would soon become a powerful fighting force for our side. But I was finished, for the chilling touch soon brought me down, as it had Andon and my bashe, Gwen.

From somewhere, Mado drew a giant bone sword, and began to attack. his first attack turned the undead leader to dust. His next attack sliced through a handful of the creatures, destroying them as well.

Now Andon had been chewed on and forgotten for far too long, and an ominous sizzling was clearly audible from under the ghoul pile that swarmed him. Finally he exploded in a blinding ball of flame. All the creatures above him were instantly incinerated, as was a large section of the deck.

The tide of battle had turned. Gwen and Smokey -- Gwen's bear -- threw off their paralysis, as I also did soon after. Between my rebuking, Gwen and Smokey's attacks, Romalar's arrows, and Mado's crazed attacks with the bone sword (the bone Reaver's sword?), the undead were defeated. A short time later, there was a second, smaller fireball, and Andon reappeared in the crater of his first explosion.

The ship remained swathed in greenish haze, but no other attacks came that night. Why did the elves -- my people -- have to be cursed in this way? I had to find out. Perhaps I would find some clue in Tal Varish.

Chapter 23

There was a dangerous hole in the side of our ship. So with dawn's light cutting through the green glowing haze, Gwen turned herself into an eagle and scouted along the shore. While waiting for my bashe to return, I observed the scum filled water and slime covered cliffs along the shore. It made me think, perhaps another fungus colony had displaced the area's native people -- this time, elves. I would later notice Andon's far way look, like he was listening to faint fungal voices that only he could hear.

Gwen returned shortly. For a mile to the South the shore was covered in fungus. Then there was the remains of Tal Varish -- a city of cliff dwellings, and bridged islands at the mouth of a river. To the North, the fungus soon gave way to more natural scrub and scattered trees.

I was eager to travel to Tal Varish, but my companions were concerned about the ship. So we took the longboat North along the shore, for wood to repair the damaged hull. We climbed the low cliff, selected some trees and cut them down, and then lowered the wood to the crewmen below. Once back at the ship, the crew would work on the repairs, while we walked down the beach to the city.


Tal Varish was covered in fungus and slime. We turned from the seashore and walked a short way up the river that flowed through the city. To our left, a mold covered bridge connected the riverbank to an island in mid-river. To our right was a great cave, seemingly melted into the cliff face. Responding to a feeling that Andon claimed to receive from the cave, we climbed up the cliff and went inside.

It was a large cave, with walls covered in a deep layer of fungus. We walked hundreds of feet, until I sensed something strange up ahead. Somewhere ahead of us were four corpses that were not undead, but were both dead and alive. Still, I didn't see the corpses until they climbed from the fungus around me.

Before I knew my danger, one of the creatures was punctured by Romalar's arrows. It deflated, oozing out as a black viscus pudding. Then this ooze shot out a pseudo-pod and grappled me to the tunnel floor. The other three creatures attacked my companions, but I didn't see it. I was in a struggle for my life, unable to swing Animere or get my balance to escape the pudding's clinging grasp.

Finally, desperately, I let loose my rage, and broke free. Animere scythed the creature once, and then again. I could feel the health flowing back into me. Then Andon's fire bathed the creatures. And I attached again.

When my opponent fell, I charged forward, and fell. That momentary weakness led inevitably to my death. When I got up, the nearest creature was driven back by my friends, and it turned its final attacks on me. I died.

@ @@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@@@ @@@@@@ @ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@ @ @@@ @@@@@ @@@@ @@@@ @@@@@@ @@@ @@ @@@ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@ @@@@ @@ @@@@ @@ @@@ @ @@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@@

@ @@@ @@@ @@@@@@ @@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@@@ @@@ @@@@ @@@ @@ @@@ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@ @@ @@@ @@@@ @ @@@@@ @@@@ @@@ @@@@@@ @@ @@@ @@@ @@@@@@@ @@ @ @@@@ @@ @@@@ @@ @@@@@ @@ @@@@@@ @ @@@@@ @@ @ @@@@@@ @@@ @@@ @@@@@@@@@ @@ @@@ @@@@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@ @@@@@ @@@ @ @@@@@@ @ @@@@ @@@@@ @@@@@@@ @@@@ @@@@ @@ @@@@@@@

@ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@@ @@@ @@ @@@ @@@ @ @@@ @@@ @@@@ @@ @@@@ @ @@@@@@@@ @@@ @@@@@ @@ @@@@@@@@ @@ @@ @@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@ @@ @ @@@@@@ @@@@ @@ @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@ @ @@@@@@ @@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@ @@@ @@@@@@@ @@ @@@@@@@@@@ @@ @@@@@ @ @@@@@ @@@@@@@ @@ @@@ @@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@ @@@@@@ @@@@@@@@


After I clawed my way back up from death, I healed myself as best I could. My bashe Gwen came to my aid and healed me some more. After my companions and I had tended our wounds, we continued deeper into the tunnel.

Just up ahead, we found a shimmering wall of glowing colored light that twisted and rippled in hypnotic patterns. While struggling to resist the glow's affect on our minds, brief transparent patches revealed a giant fungus figure in the cavern beyond. By @@@@@@@@ @@@@@@@, I began working out how to break the wall and free the giant.

Andon also tried to break the wall. But his flame rebounded on him, and he was thrown down the tunnel. When he recovered, he told us that the fungus was frightened. A new enemy was coming in response to our attack on the wall. We did not have much time.

Chapter 24

The fungus warned Andon: it was coming. We had only moments to prepare, so Romalar and I set magical lights further up the tunnel and readied our bows. Andon had his rapier -- Figment -- put an illusionary wall in front of us. Gwen and her pets moved up near me, readying for the attack in her own ways.

We saw Mado running toward us, struggling over the uneven tunnel floor. Suddenly a large silvery sphere appeared behind him. Romalar and I let fly our arrows. It overtook Mado and folded around him. We braced for its attack, but were surprised when it stopped. Then it flew away, with Mado still trapped inside.

I have lost many friends in my past; I did not intend loose another companion, not without a fight. (And I thought I might learn something about Tal Varish's plight in the process.) When we had reached the exit from the tunnel, Andon cast a glamor of invisibility over us all. There was nothing holding me back, so I charged across the bridge toward the island, to the place where Mado had been taken.

At the end of the bridge were two zombie like creatures. But they were not undead; They were somehow animated by the living slime that possessed them. With spell and with scythe, I cut them down. Andon helped: he had grown fiery wings and attacked with flame from above. Now Andon and I were visible, although my other companions remained safely hidden by glamor for the moment.

The silvery sphere had taken Mado into a huge dome, covered with puffy fungus. Andon told me that this was once a clear glass dome over the Tal Varish elves' palace. The silvery sphere had entered through a hole in the upper parts of the dome. We would enter through a smaller opening in the side, where one of the many glass panes had been broken or removed.

Inside the dome, we entered a grand courtyard. At one end was the palace. But nearer the center was a towering pile of glass shards, held together by gobs of black goo. Through the eye stone, I could see many souls woven into a tight mesh around the pile, and most of them were the spirits of elves. I was wary, but becoming angry about the fate of my people.

There were a handful of goo zombies in the courtyard. As I examined the pyramid of glass, they started to follow me. They shambled slowly, so with Romalar at my side, we waited for three of them to converge on us, and then cut them down. My bashe and her pets destroyed the last zombie, before it could join the others.

While we dismantled the slow moving zombies, another adversary dropped down upon us. A warrior, a onetime elf, now filled with black goo, dropped from the goo pyramid. He wore clear, crystalline armor and wielded a crystal sword.

I tried to stand against him, but his sword reeved me all the health my scythe had stolen in previous battles, and brought me to the brink of unconsciousness. I had to step back. I was nearly staggered, and was too tired from earlier battles to enter a full rage. I had to wait until my bashe cast healing spells over me, before I could step up again and renew my attack.

Another enemy entered the fray from the goo pyramid. It was an amorphous blob with grasping tendrils. The blob emitted a psychic blast that stunned many of my companions. Andon's lizard -- Ashra -- blasted the blob away with a breath, which bought us some time. But in only a few moments the blob returned to attack us again.

Then a surprising thing happened. The goo-warrior, who had also been hit by the blob's psychic attacks, turned on its ally: he attacked the blob. After receiving some healing from Gwen, I also charged the blob. Each of my attacks wounded it, and drew its health into my body. With help from my friends, I slew the blob, and some of its strength became mine. I then turned my attacks on the goo-warrior, and when I slew him, some of his strength became mine as well.

As the warrior fell to my scythe, Andon recognized him: He had once been the king of Tal Varish. How could the might elf have fallen so low? I made sure to gather up his soul, to protect it and keep it handy for questioning in the future. (I knew that one day my power would include the ability to speak with the dead.)

There were no more enemies. So with my stolen, superhuman strength, I started to tear into the glass pyramid. I wanted to free the souls that were trapped there. But despite my necromantically derived strength, it was Andon's flames that were the most effective. His fire killed the goo, and its death unbound the knot of souls.

Inside the pyramid we found Mado and set him free. We also found Hergal, the pirate assassin who had escaped from our ship. He was thankful to be rescued, even if he was again our prisoner. And finally, we found a crystal throne -- once belonging to the king of Tal Varish.

After freeing the souls bound to the pyramid and looting its contents, we explored other parts of the island. At one end we found a 40' tall flower, like a giant dandelion. At the top of the flower, we found a chamber that once belonged to the tentacled blob.

The unspeakable things we found in that chamber added further proof to my belief that the creature had once been a mind flayer -- a powerful being, whose race is the enemy of all intelligent life. I took some things from the chamber to use later on.

Chapter 25

Fungus grew with great speed over the crystal dome. We explored the island, but returned again to the palace courtyard, under the dome. The king's throne was there, where we had left it after dragging it from the now charred goo pyramid. Andon and I may have felt that the throne should be treated with respect, but this did not stop Mado from experimenting with it. His sacrilegious probing revealed some amazing powers -- clairvoyance, teleportation, and the like -- although Mado paid for his temerity with a long fall from the ceiling of the dome.

This whole scene was strange and unusual, but so am I. Perhaps that was it, or maybe it was something outside of me -- divine influence? -- that explains the change. Whatever the cause, this was the first moment I recall feeling the power of my femininity. I even recall flirting with the only other man of my people left alive in Tal Varish. While Andon investigated the crystal throne for himself, I kept him company, and tried to engage him in small talk.

Nothing came of it. And then my companions put the throne to trivial use, teleporting themselves out to our ship for the night, leaving Gwen and myself to row the longboat back by ourselves. We decided to wait aboard ship through the dark of night; We would return to Tal Varish in the morning.


One thing happened, in the grey dawn, before the sun had fully risen. A pipe-strut vessel had followed us all the way from the Isle of Rust and Flame. As before this strange contraption struck fear into the hearts of my companions. While the vessel made its slow way toward our ship, Romalar, Mado, and even my ha-bashe Gwen unleashed their powers to destroy it. In less than a minute it was done, and the harmless pipe-strut vessel was on its way to the bottom.

When the sun rose, and burned off the green haze, we returned to the island.


Andon used his influence with the fungus to open a way for us back under the dome. Once inside, we turned our attention to the Palace itself, the one place we had not yet explored.

We explored the North wing, and then the South wing. We found recent tracks of someone searching the South wing, but had no idea who it had been, or what they had found. In the center of the palace was the throne room. It was obvious where the throne once sat: over a crystal filled shaft that descended down into the floor. A small hole, a couple inches in diameter, led down through the crystal filled shaft.

The hole was far too small for us to pass through. So Romalar used the adamantium wire sword we had acquired in Korth Kalumbel to tunnel down. Thirty feet down, he cut into the room below. A circular room, thirty feet in diameter, with a ten foot diameter platform in the middle. The gap between the platform and the walls dropped down into darkness. Four stairs bridged the gap between the platform and the four doors evenly spaced around the room.

Once we had all descended down into the room, I began to investigate the doors. The South door was locked. The West was trapped: the stairs were an illusion, and I fell suddenly into the darkness below.

I caught myself with spells, and clung to the wall. But there was danger down there, and before I could climb to safety, a huge black ooze rose up to grapple me. Romalar flew down and cut at the pseudo-pod, allowing me to escape, but then the whole floor rose up to attack. It followed me back up to the platform, and we began yet another fight for our lives.

Andon grew wings of flame. But he was enveloped by the ooze, and then disappeared. Gwen turned herself into an ape to better fight or escape. Romalar and Mado also struggled to escape or attack.

I was grappled again. I was badly hurt, but by giving in to the rage inside me was, I able to continue the fight. I swept at the ooze with my scythe, and watched in horror as the metal started to dissolve away. Only a hasty plea to the gods prevented its total destruction.

Somehow we survived. The black pudding was destroyed. But we were done for the day: no more exploring, until after some time to rest and heal. And who knew how my new found fealings would compromize my honor, in this isolated place, with no prior experience in the ways of women and men.

Last modified: Sun Sep 12 21:24:23 CDT 2004
Go to Table of Contents.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.