The Age of Worms

Session Thirty-Six-Point-Five

Converted by the administrator from the over-italicized and over-paragraphed

Starday, 15 Sunsebb CY 595 (continued)

Long Fist unchains Auric and stabilizes his injuries. “Where’s Khelleck?”

Auric replies, “He’s gone… he left, just vanished again after we returned to the ceonoby. Then, the next thing I knew, like twenty minutes later, these goons showed up and beat the sin out of me and hauled me up here.”

“Listen to me,” Long Fist says, “and listen hard: Lahaka Smallcask was killed by Raknian. We have proof.”

Auric unleashes a horrible cry of agony. “I knew it! The bastard! I’ll kill him!”

Long Fist restrains the enraged gladiator. “Auric, you are a hero to the people of Greyhawk, a beacon of hope in dark times. You can make a choice now: justice or vengeance. Raknian killed your lover and sought to use the Games to destroy the world with a reign of undead terror. He deserves to die. He may even deserve to die at your hands. You will feel satisfaction from this vengeance, yes; but it will be fleeting. It will die shortly after Raknian does. And all that will replace it is the emptiness in your soul. But if you choose the path of Justice, you can make an example of Raknian that will stand for decades to come. Stand against him before the magistrates! Speak the truth of his foul deeds! Make him answer to the law for the evil he has done! Make this dark day the beginning of a shining legacy of justice that will bring solace to a beleaguered city! Will you do this?”

As Auric considers his choice, Riddle and Jane overpower Raknian, strip him of his bastard sword and shield, and use Auric’s chains to bind him. Then, as Bast stands at the ready, teeth uncomfortably close to Raknian’s neck, Riddle sends to Ekaym Smallcask: “Proof found. Racknian in custody. Bring those you trust to the arena now. Raknian tried to infect city with undead. Should we contact Greyhawk guard?” A reply is received at once: “I come. There are none here I trust, save you. Contact the Watch. BRING HIM DOWN.”

After a soul-searching pause, Auric finally, and simply, nods to Long Fist. He removes the Champion’s Belt from his waist and tosses it aside onto the arena floor, which is quickly turning to mud with the sudden onset of rain. Head in his hands, he weeps.

Meanwhile, Archie, Tyrrell and Scar-Eater knock Captain Okoral unconscious, collect loot from below, and make their way up to the Arena floor.

Riddle sends to Gandling: “Come to Arena with those you trust. Loris Raknian tried and failed to destroy Greyhawk and infect the people with Undead. He is in custody unharmed.” The response received is: “This better be legit, kid, or you’re through here.”

Riddle then cries out to the fleeing mob of bouncers, “Stop! We have Raknian and Okoral has been defeated below. The Watch is on their way even now. If you run they will hunt you down; they cannot let a danger such as this go unanswered, nor can they let those involved disappear. The people of this city will want answers. If you are not here to provide them with your side of the story they will assume the worst and cast you as the villains. What will it be? Will you run now forever running looking over your shoulder or will you stand as men and speak your side? It is not the best choice but it is better than what was offered to Auric, the beloved Champion of these Games. Will his voice be the only one the authorities hear?”

Soaking wet, terrified, dejected and shamed, the fleeing mob comes to a halt and cowers near the front gate, waiting for the worst.

Riddle casts detect thoughts and waits patiently. As the spell finally takes effect his gaze settles on Raknian. Riddle kneels next to the prostrate, chained form. Devoid of weaponry and armor with only his serpent ring left him, Raknian appears almost broken.

“Loris. Look at me. You are not a stupid or foolish man. You know it is over. You have failed. Failed to silence us. Failed to bring the ulgurstasa to fruition. Failed to sacrifice the once Champion, Auric. We have triumphed at every stroke. We turned the Thieves Guild ploy back on themselves and made the city love us. We easily beat Pitch Blade in record time. We slew the fat worm lover below before he knew we were there. And now Okaral has been taken alive. There’s a viper in the grass, eh? He succeeded in killing Eligos at your orders, but to what point? It didn’t stop us. We found Lahaka…or what was once Lahaka. Your masters will not be happy with this failure.

“The Guard is on it’s way here. Smallcask is on his way here. They will arrive soon. You have only these last few minutes of freedom. Use them freely. Unburden yourself. Why have you thrown away your power and reputation, your love of the people of this city? What drove you? Why would you try to destroy the very city that embraced you so strongly?

“What did your Masters hope that you would accomplish? Right now you seem to me only another failed tool in the hands of someone who would discard you at the first hint of trouble. Just as Darius Finch was discarded by Imron Gauthfellow, just as Imron was discarded by Zyrxog, just as Zyrxog was discarded by you. Just as Khelleck discarded Auric to save himself. Now we follow the chain and you too have been tossed away.

“Was that why you murdered Lahaka? Was that all she was to you? A broken tool. Useless. What did they promise you? A seat at the table? Did you really think they would ever have entrusted such power to you? You? A child in their eyes, a child at the grown-ups table. Please.

“We both know you are not a stupid man. You are not a foolish man. You knew when you set foot on this path that it could only end badly for you. But you can still choose. You still have the freedom to decide to do for yourself. You can choose. You can still be the man you once were: the hero of the Games.”

“Tells us what you know and I promise I will make sure they cannot bring you back as a mindless undead thrall. Tell us what their weaknesses are and let us strike your blow of vengeance against your masters. Why else would they have let this happen to you? Did they warn you of our power? Or did they make us seem weak and ineffectual? Why would they lie to you? Except to have you fail for one of their greater purposes? Tell us where they are and nothing will bar us from their path. You are not a stupid man. You know you will not live. The authorities cannot let you live – not and appease the rabble. And for a failure of this magnitude, even if the authorities were merciful, your masters will not let you live, will they? They will have their pound of flesh for your failure even as they worked against you. Even as they discarded you. Broken and useless.

“But perhaps you can die a hero? The choice is yours. Hero or discarded tool? You can still redeem yourself. The farther the fall the harder it is to take that first step. But you are not a stupid man and you are not a foolish man. You are a man. You are a man who has done hard things to achieve what you thought was greatness. You are a man who has forgotten his own true greatness. Take the harder step and be that great man one last time.”

Defeated, broken, alone, Raknian’s mighty fighting spirit seems to crumble under the weight of Riddle’s words.

“All I wanted was her love,” he says, in the faintest whisper, barely heard above the roar of the elements. “I lived for her love; I thrived on her love; I was young because of her love.

“Despite my great success, despite my fame, I’ve lived every day since my retirement in fear. Fear of death. I could not tolerate the inevitable decline of my mortal body. The once-indomitable gladiator of a thousand fights, I watched my hair turn gray, felt my bones begin to ache. There was an opponent I could not beat, I realized: Time. And as Time passed, I grew more jealous of the impudent, ambitious young gladiators that came to dominate my ring. This jealousy festered, consumed me from within.

“So I sought a means of restoring my vigor and youth. Yet one solution after another proved false, and my fear began to grow. I turned to questionable allies and sinister sources as less distasteful methods of preserving my youth failed. During these dark times, I was introduced to a man named Theldrick, a priest of Hextor, by my old friend Lordren. Both were deep in a cult called the Ebon Triad. Their insane theories and blasphemous beliefs did not appeal to me, but Theldrick’s promise of secrets to be learned and gifts to be granted in a coming Age tempted me for a time. For many months, I became the hidden financial support for Theldrick’s cult in Greyhawk.

“But promises weren’t being kept and my patience wore thin. I demanded action, repayment of my support. Theldrick put me in touch with a mysterious cleric the cult had gone to for advice before: a sinister tiefling called Bozal Zahol. The foul creature spoke of potent rituals and prayers that, if offered to his secret god, could halt the aging process. His god held the keys to decay, he said, and could exempt a human from old age.

“I was tempted, but something about this man was wrong. I feared to ally myself with him. Yet now that I was within his sights, I feared to tell him I no longer sought his help.

“Time passed. Theldrick and Lordren moved on, leaving me alone in the clutches of Zahol. Finally, my will drained, my life nothing but a promise of death and decay, I almost faltered…

“And then she came. Lahaka.

“I’ve had many consorts over the years. As a man of wealth and power, I never lacked for companionship. But never before had I found love. Lahaka was an intriguing, exotic jewel. She captivated me. She stole my heart. She revived my sense of self, of purpose. For a long time, we were happy. I dismissed Zahol, severed all my ties with the dark elements I had gone to in my desperation. I was whole again.

“Until the day she came to me and told me of her love for Auric. I was too old for her. I couldn’t keep up with her. My mind was slow, my body was faltering, my hopes to keep her at my side and in my heart were the foolish hopes of a fading has-been. It was more than I could bear to hear. I strangled the poor girl before she knew what was happening.

“Consumed with madness, rage, and morbid depression, I called upon Zahol and told him I would do anything in return for an escape from the horrors of old age. Zahol comforted me. He took Lahaka’s body and disposed of it so that the authorities would never find it. And then he told me the truth about Kyuss. He told me of the ritual of the Apostle and the sacrifice of a Champion. In one moment, I could have my revenge upon Auric and obtain the eternal youth I sought! How could I resist?

“I have no ‘masters,’ like you seem to think. There was only one master spurring me on: my own vanity and weakness. I was aided by a foul priest, but his body now rots below.

“You were nothing to me, merely kids I was asked to dispose of by my friend Lordren when he returned to Greyhawk last month. He said you were a threat to the Ebon Triad, and Zahol said that meant you were a threat to Kyuss, so I hired out your assassination. An easy enough task, for someone in my position. And it should have been an easy enough for the mastermind who found the Scrolls for Zahol. And what was the death of a few irrelevant teenagers compared to the blasphemy I was about to commit?

“So, I cannot help you in regards to my ‘masters,’ for there are none. All there is is the might of Kyuss. In my heart, up until a few moments ago when I saw the Apostle rise from the arena floor in its full glory, even I doubted the truth of Zahol’s preachings. Part of me didn’t want to… couldn’t believe. But when I saw that creature rise from the earth, I knew it was all true. Kyuss is coming. And his creations are mighty. And though you may have stood against one of his minions, what will you do when the sky opens and the earth shatters and millions of those creatures writhe upon the land? What can anyone do?

“There is nothing now but death and the Writhing Darkness to look forward to. I have failed, and the Wormgod and will leave me to die the pathetic, weak old man that I am.

“But you will die, too. Young, healthy, alive…you, too, will die when the Wormgod returns.

“Say your prayers now. Save your souls now. For when the Waiting Time comes, your gods will be powerless to stand against the destined darkness.

“All that you love will rot.

“All that you hold dear will crumble.

“Your power will be turned to the Wormgod’s use, for that is his greatest weapon. We are all sinners, we mortals. And sin is His domain.

“You will perish. All memory of you will die. You will be food for worms. You will feast upon flesh. You will consume each other in the prophecied orgy of undeath.

“As will we all.

“When the world is worms and ashes.

“In the Time to Come.”

Jane lets Raknian’s warnings linger a moment, but then asks quietly, “And Eligos Manzorian? How did he get in your way?”

“He was helping you. He was associated with the wizard, Allustan. He was on the list.”

Riddle: “And Lorden? Is he still in Greyhawk?”

“Lordren? I know not where he is. I have not seen him for over a week.”

Riddle presses, “You must have some way of contacting him. Where was he staying?”

“He came to me. I never sought him out. I know where he used to live years ago, but can’t imagine he’s there now.”

At that moment, Sergeant Gandling arrives with a platoon of Watch enforcers and locks down the arena, taking everyone into custody. After surveying the carnage on his own for a few minutes, nosing about the area, consulting with his Watch arcanist, and generally grumbling about the place, he approaches the collected gathering and blusters, “So, anyone want to tell me what the holy hells happened here?”

Riddle nods in greeting to the halfing. “Sergeant Gandling, thank you for coming so swiftly. As you can see, Raknian is unharmed, as we said. His second, Captain Okoral, is still alive, though somewhat the worse for wear. As I sent to you, Loris Raknian tried and failed to destroy the City of Greyhawk and infect the entire populace with undead. Where to begin?

“You know we were targeted along with the painters and critics, Endrik Archerus, Katarina Gertwright, and Belfor Vittanis. We followed the trail back as you asked us to and found Imron Gauthfellow responsible for their attempted murders. But he, in turn, was under the control of a hideous mind flayer named Zyrxog. We managed to defeat Zyrxog in his underground lair in the sewers, only to discover that Loris Raknian had paid him to have us killed. Long Fist, I believe you have the record book of his transactions.” Long Fist hands over the mind flayer’s logs to one of the Watch agents, who promptly begins poring through the material.

Riddle continues, “But we were assailed again when Raknian attacked and murdered one of the few people we knew in this city, the wizard Eligos Manzorian, who was slain by Captain Okoral under Raknian’s orders. I still do not know why. Perhaps just to deprive us of an ally…”

At that, Tyrrell steps forward, grabbing the defeated Okoral by the hair, and tosses the chief of security into the mud at Gandling’s feet. “Well, Sergeant, perhaps I can help on this point. The captain told me down below, you see, that he knows he’s guilty and should probably hang for his involvement in all this…but that he would confess to the authorities all he knows about the slaying of Eligos, and help in any way he can with our efforts, if only you would give an honorable funeral to the fine soldiers he led to the slaughter in the name of a madman.” With a wicked snarl, his face pressed directly into Okoral’s Tyrell finishes, “Isn’t that right, Captain?”

“Er, yes. Right. It was Godsday, the second. Loris asked me to get rid of a troublesome mage that had threatened to bring down the Games. Loris promised I would find the estate unguarded and the wards down. I did as he asked, and found things as he said. I slew the evil wizard to protect my master and protect the Games and protect the city…”

“Shut up,” snaps Gandling. “You killed Manzorian, eh? Anyone else you saw fit to ‘protect’ your master from, lately?”

“Well…”

“Mmmm hmmm?”

“I may have been asked to kill another wizard this very night. And I might have complied," Okoral said.

“_Might_ have?”

“Khelleck fell at my hands. Loris named him a threat, and my job was to dispose of threats.”

Riddle nods to Tyrell, who gleefully drags the captain back to his place in line by the ear. “After Manzorian’s assassination,” Riddle continues, “we decided to play a desperate gambit and bait Raknian in his own den. To enter the Champion’s Games, we crossed paths with Ekaym Smallcask, who took us on as our manager. Little did we suspect, however, that Smallcask himself already suspected Raknian of grave wrongdoing. Surely you remember when Auric was engaged to marry last year? His betrothed was Lahaka Smallcask, Ekaym’s sister. But before Lahaka had fallen in love with Auric, she had been Raknian’s lover. As Raknian just confessed to us, when she broke it off with him and told him that she would marry Auric instead, he succumbed to his baser nature and in a fit of rage and jealously, strangled her.

“Not knowing what to do next, Raknian reached out to the foul priest Bozal Zahol, a demon-touched worshiper of a fell god, to help him. Zahol told him that he would help and that he would deal with Lahaka’s corpse. He did, but not how Raknian expected: he re-animated her corpse and kept her chained to the wall of his evil temple down below.”

At that, Long Fist produces the destroyed zombie of Lahaka Smallcask and lay her on the Arena floor. With a cry to the heavens, Ekaym sinks to his knees beside the desecrated mass of flesh. “This is her, Sergeant. This is…this was my sister, may the gods forever damn the madman who ruined her!”

With a raptor’s cry, Athena swoops in to land beside Ekaym; then, in the blink of an eye, the hawk becomes a young woman and Jane is there. Quietly, she says to Gandling, “Sergeant, have you a medic on hand?” Gandling directs a middle-aged man amongst his platoon to step forward. The healer joins Jane at Lahaka’s side. “You will see here,” Jane says, “the clear sign of defensive wounds. And here, about the neck, the unmistakable evidence of death by strangulation at the hands of a man of Raknian’s size and strength. And here is the imprint of the ring Raknian wears to this day.” After consulting the corpse and examining Raknian’s ring, the medic concurs.

Riddle continues, “We discovered Bozal Zahol and his temple below the arena floor earlier this evening, along with many undead. We made an agreement with the Ashborn to fight together to destroy the undead threat; Auric here fought beside us until the undead’s aura of supernatural terror caused him and his companion, Khelleck, to flee in safety. By this time we had slain the evil priest with Auric’s aid, and were finally able to destroy the other undead. The remains of their unnatural forms lie below.

“There is also a poor wretch still alive in a cell below who has gone mad from the abuse the undead have heaped on him. There must have been others in the neighborhood taken recently to create all these undead monsters. You’ve heard of the Johansen brothers, who both went missing last month? And is not the entire district still talking about the butcher, Karl Starren, and his three young apprentices, who have not been seen in nearly as long?”

Gandling stares long and hard at Riddle before responding. “You should stick to what you know to be facts, boy, and leave the conjecture and guesswork to the lawyers. The Johansens retired to Fort Harbor. And what was the deal with the butcher?” he tosses over his shoulder.

A bearded veteran in Gandling’s troop spoke up first, “Insane, sir. Killed the boys, then killed himself. They just found the bodies wharfside. And there was a note left in the shop that we never told the press about.”

Riddle falters briefly, but holds on to his composure. “Well, regardless, that was not all we discovered beneath the arena. In the temple below, we found this great worm of undeath poised to burst forth when the stadium was packed with cheering crowds.”

Long Fist steps forward politely. “With respect, Riddle, if I may? Sergeant, sir, the monstrosity you see here is known as an ulgurstasa. This abomination was created by foul magics for one purpose, and one purpose only: to consume the living and vomit them forth as undead. You will note the exposed remnants of the creature’s gullet, filled with once-animated skeletons – men, giants, and even a dragon – poised to be unleashed upon the populace. Without our swift action, this creature could have lain waste to hundreds, if not thousands, of Greyhawk citizens, and transformed them into a growing army of undead minions that would have slaughtered countless thousands more.”

“We fought the creature below,” Riddle continues, “only to be ambushed by Captain Okoral and his crack troops. Long Fist, Jane, and I made our way to the surface to continue the fight against the giant worm, and that was when we found Auric chained right here and the creature bearing down on him. Raknian was above in his box crying for his god to accept this sacrifice of Auric, the Champion of these Games. Auric’s handlers ran in terror as the monster reared high above the stadium. But Long Fist, with the grace of Heironeous, was finally able to stop the ulgurstasa before it engulfed the helpless Champion.

“We quickly released Auric and disarmed Raknian. I called to these men here to stop and have the chance to give their say to the watch. You,” he says to one particularly shamefaced former arena bouncer, “come up here and speak for your companions – tell the Sergeant what happened here.”

The down-on-his-luck twenty-something with obviously poor grooming habits and a general sense of desperation about him shuffles forward. “It’s true, officer. All he says. The boss made us beat the tar out of Auric…”

“Made you?” Gandling queries with quiet intensity.

“Well, that is…” the Bouncer stammers, “he encouraged us to do it. Then he made us chain the poor guy to the floor. I just thought we were going to have some fun with him. You know, arena-style. But then when that gods-awful worm monster showed up, I knew we were into something terrible here. And the boss…”

After a pause, one of the other Bouncers pipes in. “He went loony.”

“Yeah, he went mad. Raving to the sky and some god about eating the Champion and ravaging the world, and…”

Gandling hushes the Bouncer with a gesture. “Enough. Thank you. You can tell the rest of your story at the station.”

“Finally, you should know,” Riddle says, “in front of Auric, ourselves, and all these men here, Raknian confessed to his crimes, out of his loss of his youth and his loss of Lahaka’s love.”

The assembled witnesses nod, in near unison. The sky trembles briefly, and then the torrential downpour seems almost to cease for a moment. Jane looks to the sky. The near-stoppage of the downpour does not seem coincidentalm though it likewise doesn’t seem like some nod from an active higher power or powers.

(The ongoing rain is not natural. This months’-long phenomenon is a straining at the edges of reality, a bending and twisting of the natural laws, a corruption of something deep at the core of the region. It Should Not Be. So, while the momentary relenting of the rain does not feel like someone or something actively “cutting through” the corruption in the air; it does, however, feel to Jane like a momentary slippage of the corruptive influence over the natural order of things. It is not so much something overpowering the Wrongness, but perhaps the Wrongness itself slipping in its own power for the briefest of moments.)

Riddle kneels before Gandling and his arcanist. “All this I swear on the memory of my mother. I will willingly submit to any magical probe that you or your thaumaturge can put me under to prove that these words are true.”

“I don’t think that’s going to be necessary. I’ve heard…and seen what I need to see here. Men!” he calls back to his platoon, “you know what to do. We’ve got testimony to capture, evidence to collect, and a long night ahead of us. Let’s get to work!” When the Watchmen swarm away across the arena and its environs, taking men into custody and hauling off the accused in chains, Gandling says, more privately, “How deep do you want to get into this? Are you sticking around for the circus that’s about to follow, or have we seen the last of you in these parts?”

Riddle exhales, not even realizing that he had been holding his breath and although he has physically changed over the past month he resembles again the youth from Diamond Lake. “I’m not certain Sergeant. We – I – have someplace that I must go. And quickly. I would confer with my companions but I think we will go. The only question is how quickly. But we will be back.”

Long Fist says to Riddle: “We ALL must go Riddle. I would not idly stand by for you to fight Illthain on your own. Not after all we’ve been through.”

Riddle nods and continues to question Gandling. “What will happen now? Will there be a trial? How will the lords of this city explain what happened here? Will we be put forth as heroes, or as the destroyers of the Games?”

Gandling pauses for a moment before speaking. “Well…I guess that’s what I’m driving at with my own questions. How involved do you want to be? I can smear your names all over this if you want the attention you – frankly – deserve. But something about you kids…” He eyes the towering half-ogre, the sharp-eyed hawk, and the scar-faced rogue in particular before settling back on the eerie physiognomy of Riddle. "Well, something tells me you prefer your privacy. You’ve laid out a convincing case here. I can call you for testimony if you wish, or I can leave you out of this entirely. But if you want out, now’s the time to get out. Because this will soon blow sky high.”

“Who will own this arena now?” Riddle asks.

“I’m sure that’ll get tied up in the courts for quite some time. Couldn’t tell you.”

Riddle moves over to Smallcask still kneeling over his sister’s corpse. “Smallcask, what will you do now?”

“I will return my sister’s body home. She will be properly honored. By the way…the winnings from the Games. They are yours. I only kept a share to legitimize myself in your eyes and the eyes of those watching us. But I do not need the money. And something tells me you might. Take it. It’s all yours.” Smallcask hands over his share of the winnings from the first two rounds, 3,150 gp.

Riddle squints and says, “Our thanks, Smallcask, for that. We will put it to good use. Safe travel home. I hope you are able to finally have some peace and move forward. I assume you will use whatever influence you possess to make certain that nothing untoward happens during the trial and that Raknian meets with swift justice? Have your friend ”/wikis/celeste" class=“wiki-page-link”> Celeste send to us if something goes wrong. I want to make certain that this, at least, is not left half-done."

Smallcask says, “I have no influence in this city. My family is from Cauldron and all of our influence is there. But, yes, if there is aught I can do, I will do it.” There is a small pause before he adds, “I do not expect to see Celeste again.”

Riddle turns to the party. “Well, do we stick to the shadows? Or do we step out into the light? Will either help us? Archie, you met with Webb – will our fame of saving the city buy us an extension on the week we were supposed to have to bring him Illthain’s head?”

“What about Racknian’s associate from Diamond Lake, Dourstone’s manager? And what of the Sisters of Eiseth? Are they still below?” The Sisters of Eiseth have been rounded up by the Watch for questioning and are being led away.

Riddle, with Long Fist’s recent statement about returning to Diamond Lake as a group still on his mind, asks the party, “What do the rest of you say? Do we return to Diamond Lake? Shall we leave now bereft of spells and tired – or do we wait til tomorrow morning and attempt to equip ourselves as best we can before we leave? I do not want to dally, but I do not think we will have another opportunity to arm ourselves and prepare spells.”

Jane says, “Though I am anxious to see for myself what is happening there, and to hurry to Allustan’s aid, I do not want to arrive in Diamond Lake unprepared. I think we should remain in Greyhawk just long enough to rest, prepare and equip ourselves properly. We need to be careful, though — our notoriety here grows stronger by the minute.”

Tyrrell says, “Diamond Lake is shite heap and mostly I don’t care if it sinks into the bowels of the earth or not…but I know it is where our path lies, and I know Allustan, or his memory if that’s the case, deserves our help. But I also don’t want to rush in unprepared. So yes, rest and equip.”

Riddle turns to the his remaining companions, the ex-soldier and the duty bound archer. “And you two? What say you?”

Riddle takes Archie and Scar-Eater’s silence for assent. The party immediately begins making plans for resting and preparing spells, and accounting their funds for a shopping trip. Everyone is in the midst of making requests and trading items when Riddle’s face grows troubled. He turns back to the group with the constant rain mixing and streaming with his blood tear streaked face.

“My friends, I want to go to Diamond Lake immediately. But I do not have the power to do so yet. Unlike Jane or Long Fist, I do not pray for my abilities; they are just granted to me as the day turns over.”

“I can feel that I almost have the ability to carve a hole through space and time so that we can instantly appear in Diamond Lake, but the Elder Powers will not grant this ability to me til the wheel has passed through all of this day. In other words, ‘til my powers reset, I will not be able to teleport us there…”

“We have funds to purchase teleports but I am doubtful that they would be able to put us into Diamond Lake. It may be so. I could be wrong. We may have all of the rest of this night and all of this day, how shall we best spend it?”

Jane asks, “Do you have any sendings left? Perhaps Celeste would do us a favor and find means of teleporting us to Diamond Lake. She might have a personal interest in Allustan’s safety? Of course that wouldn’t make a difference in the matter of your preparation for whatever we might be walking into down there, which is not insignificant. But it might be an option.”

“I believe I can send once or perhaps twice more,” Riddle says. “I will make the trip without spells if need be. But to do that I will need to arm myself. My abilities with an axe have left me, stolen from my body and mind. In their place I find myself with the feel of a blade. I need a sword. The voices of the Vaati have made this clear to me. Even if they have kept so much else shrouded in half truths and guesswork.” Riddle then kneels and concentrates on his sending.

“Allustan, grave danger, pain, Diamond Lake, dragon Illthain. Teleport us there before tomorrow midnight? Urgulstasa destroyed. At Arena. Smallcask’s sister’s body found. Raknian in custody."

A reply to the sending comes swiftly: “Our prayers are with you, but I cannot do what you ask of me. Surely the purchase of a scroll is within your means?”

So the party continues discussing their options.

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