Scaled Down Scales

Waves of Minions
...Fail to Prevent...

…Team Admiral…

…from making it to the docks.

Trinity Shadowfox

Nox Rhasgardecided to use his Athletics to complete the first part of the effort to jam the Force Gates shut and stop the waves of Minions. “Everybody always forgets how strong Sorcerors are,” With brute force, he unlocked the inhibitors that controlled the flow of arcane power to the gates. Once that was done, however, his bulging forearms could do no more. “Unlocked is unlocked,” he told himself. “Maybe I can do the rest with Arcana.”

Andrea Ravn

Nox tapped into the magic within one of the gates, gaining control of its flow.

Aurora saw how Nox was working the magic at one gate, so she went to the other and did the same thing to control its flow. "Once it’s controlled, though, there nothing more to do with our Arcana. We can turn them on, but it’s going to take some Thievery to jam the controls into the on position and prevent the re-inforcements on the other side from just re-opening them and hitting us in the rear.

Earlier she had seen the Assassin pick a lock, so she called him over to the panel.

“See if you can override part of the mechanism controlling the gates, Shadowfox,” she suggested.

A Tough Fight
...on the Docks of Garaitha...

…as the Infiltration Team Gets Spotted.

Aurora was glad the ritualists had been able to scry the docks at Garaitha’s Anvil. The whole area was under a Forbiddance ritual to prevent scrying. The Wizards from Nefelus told her the power of the Sovereign Gate enabled them to find The Cev’ren in the vast shipyard in spite of these Forbiddance protections.

They showed her a map. Unfortunately, none of the Portals they had so far been able to find were in the immediate location of the admiral’s flagship — The Cev’ren — but a couple were nearby.

Her plan: To sneak in with the assassin’s guild party and try to capture or kill Admiral Kada’ne to get his crystal key; then, they would be followed five minutes later by wave of stealthy adventurers, each trying to penetrate from a different gate; finally, ten minutes after that, the largest wave with dozens of fighters would attack openly in as many locations as possible.

“Hopefully, the later waves will distract them from the main mission,” she told the Hundred Heroes gathered outside the Fane of Chaniir. “Capturing the crystal key.”

They arranged for a special signal when they had found the key to let the Hundred Heroes know they could withdraw.

“Don’t press your fight so hard you will not be able to break off when we find the key,” she warned them.

Across the bluffs and trails surrounding the fane, she saw the mages of the Coalition scribing dozens of planar portals, causing the fading twilight to blaze with eldritch light.

Spread out before them, the greatest heroes of the mortal realm stood in expectation of the battle to come. Most are on foot, a score or more mounted on steeds still skittish from having made the transit through portals from their own lands.

One force of rangers from the desert lands south of Elsir Vale make a last check of the tack on a flight of griffons.

No one spoke.

At Aurora’s signal, Bejam and his mages activate the planar portal in front of her, and a flare of white light cut through the darkness. Within that light, hazy images of the shipyard flare to life — windowless stone buildings, the open spaces between them thronging with Githyanki and giants.

Shadowfox introduced her to the crowd and she got them worked up before Nox made his speech.

Around her, the Hundred were ready, waiting to move at their word.

Nox made his speech: short but powerful:

“Using the advantage of our surprise, we will hit them — one hundred as a thousand.”
— the final words of Nox Rhasgar’s
speech to the Hundred Heroes

“Hundred as a thousand! Hundred as a thousand!”

Shade was impressed by the way the crowd reacted to Nox’s words. Picking up on them immediately, they began chanting the words louder and louder as Team Admiral stepped through the gate in front of them.

A Githyanki patrol spotted Nox almost as soon as they began to work their way toward their goal: a storeroom they hoped would lead them to the admiral’s ship.

“I guess we’ll have to fight our way in,” she told the others.

The fight did not go well for them. Nox got surrounded — not the sort of position the Sorceror was used to fighting from. Shade herself went down and had to play possum while Aurora healed them.

But she was not a true healer.

“Just a Druid with some good healing spells,” she told himself. The Druid was also summoning animals — firebirds and wolves mostly — to help with the fight.

Then she suddenly realized their mission was not to kill this Githyanki patrol, but to get past them.

In a flash she Ghost-on-the-Rooftopped up the construction equipment and made it through the hole in the wall to the door to the storage room.

“Alas, it is locked.”

She tried to pick the lock, but could not open it.

Looking back down at the rest of the kidnap-the-admiral team, she saw they were in desperate straights.

Nox went down — it was the first time Shade had ever seen him taken out of a fight. Aurora stabilized him, but Shade had to Ghost-on-the-Rooftops back down to pull a potion from the Sorceror’s belt and revive him.

That gave them just enough to finish off the patrol.

“I guess killing them works, too,” she said. “And this way they cannot get help.”

They searched the bodies, but found nothing beyond the usual silver weapons carried by all Githyanki. They knew they had to move on if they were going to be able to use the next wave as a distraction.

A Time for Diplomacy
...Is a Time for...


…As the Alliance Reaches a Crucial Turning Point.

Andrea Ravn woke.


As refreshed as she had felt in days.

“Oh, yeah,” she remembered. “The dream.”

In her dream she had finally reached Queen Ileosa and returned her stolen broach. The queen had offered her a job, a job in the Queens Guard. Somehow Andrea knew Nox had gotten a job there, too. Even though he was not in the dream this time.

“Had to kill the darn imps by myself.” She knew she was lying to herself. The House Drakes in the dream city of Korvosa had helped her finish them off. “But the queen didn’t seem so bad. Maybe the rumors aren’t true. The king’s line has always been cursed.”

She found a line at the World Gate. The mages of Nefelus were apparently putting Whitefire Marks on as many of the heroes who were gathering as possible. The cat-girl Druid in front of him was not impressed by the Hundred Heroes.

“Look like wandering mercenaries to me,” she said surveying the crowd.

When they got through the World Gate to the Sovereign Gate, Andrea saw it was well-guarded. She recognized one of the guards — a Freerider named Ragnum Dourstone. Ragnum told them the Githyanki were still trying to use the portals.

“They’re coming through the white portal steady — scouts and strike teams looking to rest up. No sign yet that they know we’re here."

Andrea wondered aloud how long it would take for Admiral Kada’ne to catch on.

“We questioned one moving alone, said he was from Utargarth, Utargarath, something like that. Someone named Kada’ne sent him to the fane to see what’s up with the team supposed to be holding it. It’s a safe bet there’ll be more like him coming through soon enough.”

Andrea had good idea what Utargarath was: “Utargaraith is the name of the interplanar shipyards,” she told the Druid, “where the Githyanki build and repair their fleets of astral craft and airships — Garaitha’s Anvil, as it is most commonly translated.”

They found Krasire and took him down the long stairs. Beyond the astral vortex, the exhausted Bejam stood with Haryssus, the works of the eldritch giant’s library spread across the tables.

“We have gained a valuable ally in our fight against the Githyanki,” Bejam said, nodding to the giant. “I have learned much of the operation of this place, but I fear that it spells our doom all the same.”

Haryssus told them the only way to control the Sovereign Gate was to use one the four crystal keys to the plinth at the top of the ivory stairs.

  • Queen Vlaakith held one, but her key was said to be lost when
    she was destroyed.
  • Zetch’r’r holds one, taken from one of Vlaakith’s captains slain when the new emperor came to power.
  • Kada’ne, admiral of the Githyanki fleet, holds one.
  • Do’kan, general and master of the Githyanki ground forces, holds the third.

Remembering what Ragnum Dourstone had said about the admiral, she suggested that was the key they should after.

Bejam told them he had sent word to the Coalition leadership, requesting that they come to the fane for a war council that can decide the Coalition’s course of action.

When they got back to the Chaniri’s cave, however, not all members of the Coalition leadership had made the journey. In particular, Eoffram Troyas remained behind in Brindol to help deal with a Hobgoblin uprising.

“I hope it’s the real thing this time,” Andrea thought. The last time the representative of Brindol had been concerned about Hobgoblins, it was a ruse intended to win votes for the leadership of the Council.

Amyria is here, as are other Coalition members. Andrea recognized Fariex, even though he was in human form.

The cautious Quelenna Entromiel was there as well, potentially undercutting any hope Andrea had of inspiring the Coalition into a quick response to the Githyanki threat.

The war council took place in an abandoned library in the fane. Megan Swiftblade and a dozen other heroes of the Coalition are on guard, but the bulk of those who have come to defend the fane are outside, getting their Whitefire Marks, in line at the World Gate, or in the Well of Worlds, keeping watch against a Githyanki attack.

Bejam tried to convince the Coalition leaders of the danger posed by the extension of the Sovereign Gate’s powers to the World Gates. Andrea told them their walls would be no use against an enemy who could teleport vast armies past their gates.

But Quelenna Entromiel took the lead arguing for caution.

“We are far from our homes and families — the places and people we are bound to defend. This place, these planar sites you speak of are meaningless targets. A majority of our many lands’ heroes are here now to defend these places, and for what?

“This is a fight we cannot win, and as such, it is a fight we cannot consider. Waiting here for eventual attack or, worse, seeking out the Githyanki stretches our already over-extended resources past the breaking point. Instead, we must ask what we might do to hinder the Githyanki. Slow down their plots to give us time to plan a proper defense of
our homelands.”
— Quelenna’s speech to the Council
at the Fane of Chaniir

Krasire knew it was time for some serious diplomacy.

He called on all his years of experience as one of the secret leaders of Waterdeep. The Lords of Waterdeep did not rule openly. They did not make public speeches like this one.

That did not mean they didn’t have to be persuasive. They had to convince people individually.

“That gives me a lot of experience in convincing other leaders,” he thought. Leaders like the members of the Council.

He could tell his speech had not swayed Quellena. But he was surprised when the vote went against them.

“Not that she could have been convinced.” he thought. “Her mind was made up long ago. I though I could convince the others.”

But Megan Swiftblade was a different story. She seemed moved almost to tears by his words.

“The Coalition’s so-called leaders don’t know what they’re saying,” she snorted. "Bankers and merchant lords, the lot of them. If you say we need to strike this Garaitha’s Anvil, the Freeriders are with you. But there’s nearly a hundred of us — the Freeriders and the other adventurers who have answered your call — here all told, come together to show our strength. With you leading, I promise the rest will follow.”
— Megan Swiftblade’s reply
to Quelenna after the vote

Cain Shadowfox was frustrated. They had a rough map of the docks at Garaitha’s Anvil. But everyone seemed intent on promoting their own plans for how to attack it. They needed to strike hard and fast. But the admiral was known for his caution. Some even called it cowardice. As soon as he knew they were coming for him, they were sure he would flee.

Bejam told him, “The Garaitha docks are set with two score permanent portals.”

He knew it could not be that easy. “Those sigil sequences are one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Githyanki empire,” he pointed out.

Bejam admitted Cain was right. “However, the unique nature of the Sovereign Gate allowed our Astral Giant ally to extract the sigil sequences of the Garaitha portals.”

“Good,” he told the wizard. “We can teleport right to the admiral’s flagship.”

“We don’t know for sure where the flagship is located,” Bejam told him. “Maybe we can scrye the location.”

“Once again they must have powerful protections against scrying,” Andrea pointed out.

“Yes,” the wizard admitted. “But the power of the Sovereign Gate might be used to overcome those protections.”

As leaders of the Hundred Heroes, Cain thought they could come up with a plan but everybody seemed to be pushing their own ideas, rather than working together.

He thought they should send in the sneakiest of the heroes — maybe even the Freeriders themselves — to infiltrate the shipyards. A distraction was suggested. Andrea had her own ideas about the attack.

“What do you think?”
Amyria to Aurora
when planning reached an impasse

“Well,” Aurora said, “I think we should lead the attempt to capture the admiral. If we go in first, we will be less likely to spook him into fleeing.”

“What of the others?”

“They can attack once we have had a chance to infiltrate and grab Admiral Kada’ne,” she explained. “They must attack with full force, even if we do not believe they will take the shipyards and hold them.”

Amyria seemed impressed with her ideas. “Everybody will need to be ready to retreat with the admiral once you capture. The Hundred Heroes will have to avoid committing to an all-out attack if they are going to be ready to escape when the time comes.”

She suggested they have a signal to let everyone know they had captured Admiral Kada’ne.

Then Amyria turned to Nox and asked him what he thought of the plan.

“Sounds like a good one,” the Sorceror told them. “If we can get in fast enough, we may be able to catch them before he turns tail and runs.”

They headed through the World Gate to tell the Nefelese ritualists what they needed from their scrying rituals.

Shadowfox Returns
...and Learns Much...

…About her Powers

Nox Rhasgar remembered the giant had warned them to go back. Not so much a threat, he thought, as a warning.

Andrea was easily convinced. And, when the Warlord told Relvain she could see magickal shackles on the hands and feet of the Astral Giant, the Dragonpinner decided to go along and concentrate on the Githyanki Shade which had appeared before them. This one looked stronger than the ones they fought back in the fane and was armed with two bastard swords.

But the real problem was the slippery, wet surface of the ivory bridge. Nox was able to climb back up the stairs to where it was dry. He could still hit the ghost from there. No matter where it went.

But the others found it harder. Relvain slipped and fell into the seething vortex of magic. She had a hard time even climbing out.

Andrea had an easier time getting out, but she slipped back in repeatedly.

The Dreamer found herself once again in a swamp looking for a Giant Centipede. She knew she had to kill it to create the Undead Centipede which would one day be known as Nightshade. Even though she was good at stealth, it didn’t seem like there was much to sneak up on in this swamp. She decided to try tracking the creatures. She wasn’t much good at tracking, but it proved easy. “Giant Centipedes leave very distinctive footprints.” When she found one, however, it bit her…

…and she woke as Grim Shadowfox.

“Back in the secret room at the Fane of Chaniir,” she told herself. But this time she was not wrapped in chains. “Lots of noise outside.”

So she sneaked out and found the fane was bustling with activity. The Alliance was moving in. A Wizard from Nefelus named Bejam filled her in. The fane was cleared — even the Chaniiri they had rescued were gone.

Bejam introduced her to a group of Wizards experimenting on the bodies of the Painbringers they had killed. They were able to transfer some of the magic in the Whitefire Marks — strange tatoos that glowed with white radiant light — to her forearm. They told him the tatoos would enable her to go through a powerful gate to join the strike force that was reconning some place of power they Githyanki were using.

When the ritualists in the next room sent her through, she found lots of dead Githyanki.

“I see Nox and the others have been through here. Lots of scorch marks on these corpses.”

She found a pool of magickal water and a room with two dead giants, then a room with nothing but four mirrors and a stairway leading down.

“Ivory stairs, all carved from a single piece of ivory.” Grim was not sure she wanted to meet the creature whose horn produced such a stairway. At least 300 feet long, she realized by the time she heard the sounds of fighting below.

When she got to the bottom, the fight was not going well. She and Nox were able to damage the powerful ghost they were fighting. When she used her Executioner’s Noose to slide the creature into the maelstrom of magic, it simply used its telekinetic powers to leap to one of the pillars in the vortex.

There Relvain and Andrea had a hard time getting to it. So Grim leapt out to the pillars herself like a Ghost on the Rooftops. She was able to pursue it from pillar to pillar, eventually forcing it back to the bridge.

The ghost returned to its pillars as soon as it could, leaving Relvain once more out of the fight.

“You’re doing something that none of the rest of us can do,” the frustrated Dwarf told her. “You’re herding it.”

Then Andrea felling unconscious. and Grim knew they were really in trouble.

Relvain the Dragonpinner was frustrated. She could see they were close to losing the fight. And she could not get to the ghostly Githyanki as long as he stayed out on the pillars. Just when Shadowfox had finally learned to herd it off them, Andrea went down. “Looks like our healer is dying.”

Andrea Ravn regained consciousness to find herself looking up at Nox. The Sorceror had just poured a potion down her throat.

“Not the Potion of Regeneration I gave him,” she thought, tasting it on her lips. “It must have been one of the Potions of Vitality we found.”

She knew their only chance was if she could keep herself alive. So she healed herself and tried a Defensive Rally to pep up the rest of the party.

“Can’t afford to lose our only healer,” she told them.

Then Trinity Shadowfox brought out a power she had never seen her use before: Blood Shadows. Hiding from the bloodied Shade, she was able to teleport to its pillar and attack it with her Talenta Sharash.

Andrea watched as the blood from the attack drained to the ground and spread out across the creature’s very shadow. The Assassin was about to spill more blood all around the top of that pillar when she noticed a devious grin appear on Shadowfox’s face.

Shaking the scythe-like weapon — first on the next pillar, then on the one behind, and finally at the bridge itself — Shadowfox created three more Blood Shadows. Now, wherever it went it would find a shadow made of its own blood granting anyone who attacked it combat advantage.

When the ghost fled those pillars, Trinity followed it and forced it back onto the ivory bridge, where they were all able to combine their attacks and kill it.

“Now, if she could just learn to combine those Blood Shadows with the herding tactics she uses when she uses the Talenta Sharash as an Executioner’s Noose,” Andrea thought. “She could be really effective.”

Andrea, Nox and Relvain Blow Up
...(or Blow Down) a Barrier...

…and Find a Giant…

…who appears to be imprisoned.

When Andrea identified the Bloodgem Shard, Relvain Dragonpinner decided Nox could use it most.

“He kills the most enemies, he draws the most fire, and his defenses are weaker than ours,” she told Andrea.

But Nox was already working on the wards blocking a stairway he had found in the room he peeked into. She saw he was immediately able to destabilize the wards by exploiting the arcane energies surging around the stairs.

Relvain tried to lift the metal bars blocking their way, but only succeeded in making them harder to stand on. Andrea told her that the Dragonmark she was using to enhance her arcane powers did not seem to be able to help her exploit the energies in the manner Nox had just tried.

“But the Dragonmark does improve my arcane detection capabilities,” Andrea told her. “I can see something is pulsing inside the mirrors.”

Relvain looked around and saw four mirrors on the walls around the circular room. “I’m just a dwarven fighter,” she said. “I don’t see anything.”

She could tell Andrea had further destabilizing the iron bars blocking the stairs, but that did not stop Nox. He was able to balance on the shifting bars well enough that he got out on them and was again able to exploit the energies surging up from the stairs to weaken the wards.

So Relvain decided to try attacking the bars directly with her axe. But her glancing blow only overloaded the wards, destroying the bars and releasing a blast of force which hurt the rest of the group, but left her unharmed.

“It’s only force damage,” she told them. But Nox took further damage when he fell to the stairs below.

It took Roland the Betrayer two days of walking through winding jungle paths to reach the shantytown he had seen from the cliffs. The jungles were full of dangers and he had to fight them, but they were nothing he did not expect. “It’s a jungle, after all,” he told himself.

Andrea Ravn was hardly surprised when four Planestalker Marauders erupted — one after another — from the mirrors after the Stair Gate collapsed.

She was surprised, however, at what happened when they began putting some serious hurt on one of the Planestalkers: First, it partially phased into another plane, making it insubstantial and difficult to damage. Then, it teleported itself and her into that other plane.

She found herself in an extradimensional space 10 feet tall and 20 feet wide. She couldn’t see any of the others and she doubted they could see her.

“I guess I’m on my own,” she said, swinging her new sword — the Sword of Bahamat she planned to give to Garen — and connected solidly. Both of them reappeared back near the Stair Gate.

“When they teleport you,” she told the others, “just hit them as hard as you can.”

They finished off the one which had taken her away, then the next one phased, taking Relvain with it.

“When they phase,” she told Nox, “they are about to teleport you to another dimension.”

Then Relvain reappeared, and they killed the Marauder which had taken her.

The next time she was teleported it took two blows to force it back to their plane of existence. “If you could call this place ‘our plane’ of anything.” she thought.

Admiral Kada’ne was still fretting about the reaction to his decision to send a scout to check out the Fane of Chanir. “I know they think I’m a coward. But those fools should have reported back by now. They think that the Sovereign Gate make them invulnerable.”

Nox Rhasgar was hardly surprised when he found himself whisked away to another dimension.

“Andrea and Relvain both warned me.”

He hit the Planestalker with an Elemental Bolt.

“Not as much magic in this place,” he told himself as the arcane energies left his fingers. “But that should be enough to force it to return me do the Stair Gate.”

Sure enough. As soon as he hit it with the bolt, it took so much damage it could no longer hold them in that strange room. They returned to the exact spots they had been teleported from.

After that, it was no problem to finish it off. But it left no bodies to search. The others gave him the Bloodgem. They had figured out what it was. They told him it would improve his defenses whenever he knocked out or killed an enemy.

“Anything that improves my Reflexes,” he told them as he replaced his Amulet of Truth with the blood-red crystal. Even before he had killed anything while wearing it, he could tell it improved his ability to dodge out of the way of an attack. "I can always put the amulet back on if we need to search for hidden doors.

“Or if you want Insight for diplomatic situations,” Andrea reminded him. Andrea had one of her own and she really liked those Amulets of Truth.

Andrea checked out the other door in the Hall of Shards, but it just turned out to be another way to get to the Stair Gate.

“Just as Andrea had predicted,” he told himself.

They decided to go down the stairs.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if we just came back to this room?” the Warlord joked as they started downward. “From above?”

But that seemed unlikely to Nox since there were no stairs coming down from the ceiling. Sure, the dimensions were strange here near the Sovereign Gate, but he did not see how that could happen.

The ivory stair led them downward. Nox estimated they were about 300 feet down when they saw a white light seething in a corrosive whirlpool filling a vast chamber below.

The air was hazy above a stone platform extending from the bottom of the stairs across the seething vortex. Pillars of glowing stone rose above the maelstrom, their surfaces crawling with an ever-shifting flow of arcane runes.

The far side of the chamber was taken up with what appeared to be an oversized arcanist’s study. Tall shelves and wide tables were covered with well-worn tomes and tattered scrolls.

He was sure Andrea was going to love this place. She was always looking for more rituals, even though she couldn’t perform them all.

A violet-skinned eldritch giant glanced up in surprise at their approach, the Whitefire Mark burning at his wrist as he held up a hand in warning.

“I am Haryssus. It has been long years since any but the masters of this place breached the Stair Gate, but those who did so lived no longer than will you. I have no quarrel with
you. Flee while you can.”

Nox could tell the words were more a warning than a threat. Andrea confirmed this a few seconds later by telling him and Relvain she could detect faint traces of magickal shackles around the giant’s ankles and wrists.

“I don’t think this giant is the real threat,” Relvain told them, shaking off her race’s natural hatred of giants.

A sudden flare of yellow-white light heralded the appearance of a ghostly Githyanki. Larger than the shades they fought in the fane, this creature was wielding twin bastard swords, a white light burning in its eyes as it attacked.

“That’s the real threat.”

Andrea Ravn Uses her Dragonmark
...To Protect Nox...

…From a Hazard Both Friendly and Unfriendly

As she watched Nox attack the Astral Giants in the Shard Room, Andrea noticed the room itself seemed to be a hazard.

The floor and ceiling, composed of huge crystal shards, each had pure planar energy surges within their shards, which focused and honed it like lenses into twin pulsing spheres of white light at the bottom and top of the chamber.

When Nox used an arcane power — in this case his Elemental Bolt with an Elemental Escalation — these Astral Nexuses aided his efforts, but the backlash from that aid could hurt him as well.

Then the Astral Nexus in the ceiling began shooting balls of pure astral essence at the Sorceror.

Using her Dragonmark for focus her Perception on things arcane in nature, she saw that she or Nox could calm the local arcane energies. If successful, the area around them would be outside the hazardous region for a short time.

Andrea could tell that if Nox tried to calm the local energies he would not be able to focus on subduing the Astral Giants.

“So I will just spend as much of my concentration on using my Dragonmark to calm astral energies as it takes,” she told the others. “As long as Nox stays close to me, he should be safe.”

The Dreamer found herself back in the dream: the one where Obanar sent her to investigate the camp of the Hill Giants besieging the City of Argent. Only it was more of a cave than an encampment. “Makes sense,” she thought to herself. “Hill giants would find the nearest cave and set up camp there.” Still it seemed a bit more well-appointed than a makeshift bivouac in an empty cave. “Must’ve been planning this for a long time.” Once again, she found herself in a room with a bunch of giants. She noticed a Fire Elemental dancing in the flames of the hearth. Dashing from the Common Room, she found herself in the quarters of the Hill Giant Shaman. She tried to sneak through, but failed. Captured by the giants, she almost forgot who she was under their torture. Then she woke and remembered: She was Relvain Blackaxe the Dragonpinner

Relvain awoke to find the fane bustling with activity.

Troops were being brought in through the Portal, which Bejam was now calling “The World Gate.” Defenses were being set up: around the Gate … and outside as well, according to a Freerider she recognized. Sections of the fane had been walled off and mages she recognized from Nefelus were poring over the books Andrea had found in the libraries here.

One of them recognized her and waved.

“I did save their city from Chillreaver,” she thought as they went back to their books.

Bejam told her about the World Gate and the dangers it posed. When he told her the rest of The Order of the Black Feather had gone ahead to scout some mysterious location to which the Gate connected, she volunteered to go and help them.

“But first you will have to be given a Whitefire Mark,” the Deva Wizard told her. “Only Githyanki and their most trusted servants can pass through the World Gate. The Whitefire Marks are how they identify those servants.”

She knew enough about Githyanki to know that Bejam really meant “slaves” when he said “servants.” Just being polite.

A group of Wizards working on the bodies of the two Fomorian Painbringers were able to help Bejam transfer a Whitefire Mark to Relvain’s forearm.

“You can cover it with your armor,” he told her. “But it will feed upon your own life force to power its effects.”

Thus empowered, she was able to step through the World Gate — with the help of some of the ritual casters studying it — to find herself in a strange room crackling with arcane energies.

“Which makes sense,” she told herself. “Bejam said they were siphoning vast amounts of power from the Material Plane to this location.”

That was why the Order had been sent to clear the place.

She found Nox and Andrea in a lounge area. They were trying to bottle the magic-infused waters of a pool there. They only got two of their bottles filled before the arcane energies of the pool were depleted.

“We’ll have to wait 24 hours for the pool to be back to full strength,” Andrea told her. "We don’t have time for that. We can expect more Githyanki to come through here before it replenishes itself.

Andrea gave her one of the vials. “Drink this to turn a short rest into a more thorough sleep.” The other vial went to Nox.

They told her about another room — accessible from both sides — where two Astral Giants were meditating on what appeared to be Ritual Books. Relvain could tell Andrea could not wait to study the books herself.

They decided to try Diplomacy on the giants. The giants weren’t having any. They started blasting as soon as she opened her mouth.

When Nox returned fire, the Astral Nexus above them blasted him as well. When he was hit, Relvain found herself caught in the secondary burst which centered on Nox.

She was dazed by the blast. She decided to concentrate on defending herself while she tried to shake that off.

Which took her longer than she expected.

“Why are there no reports from the Sovereign Gate?” Admiral Kada’ne shouted. “Send someone to check on them.”

Nox Rhasgar saw that Relvain was having difficulty shaking off the effects of the white burst of astral energies. So he concentrated on shooting Energy Bolts at the Astral Giants. They separated, each heading towards a different door at each end of the platform bridging the room.

Eventually Relvain emerged from her daze to leap across to that bridge and engage the giants directly. By then Nox had knocked one of them out and was concentrating on the one which remained.

The one which Relvain was now forcing to concentrate on her.

Made taking it down that much easier. “Quick fight,” he thought to himself.

After the fight, they searched the bodies and found a Bloodgem Shard and 480 platinum pieces.

But Nox was already ready for the next fight. Peeking through the doors at one end of the bridge, he found another strange room: a round chamber of pale gray stone.

The air inside flared with swirling currents of white light — four circular mirrors were set along the walls, their surfaces rippling like quicksilver. In the center of the chamber, the stone floor was replaced by an uneven grid of black steel bars.

A stone plinth stands at the center of the barred floor, its sides set with glowing keyholes. Beneath the bars, steep ivory stairs could be seen twisting down into a haze of white light.

Using his Arcane powers, Nox was able to determine the ambient astral energy on the other side of the door was harmless. A stronger pulse of arcane power was surging, however, in the four mirrors.

Something was lurking within their silvered surfaces, waiting to be called forth.

Nox Pulls a Fast One
...On a Githyanki Strike Force...

…Who Let their Guard Down…

…while taking a little R&R.

When Jasmine told him that most of the Githyanki strike force had piled their weapons on their gear, Nox Rhasgar had an idea.

Andrea was more concerned about the pool Jaz said they were gathering around. Her efforts to bottle the Astral Mist were going badly, but she had 13 vials she wanted to fill.

“Maybe I can bottle the water from the pool,” she told Nox. He could tell she thought it might have magickal properties.

Nox was thinking more in the present. They didn’t have access to the pool yet.

He had a plan: He would sneak in and grab their pile of swords. Then he could teleport back into the Portal Chamber and throw the Silver Swords into the Astral Mist.

Even Andrea liked the idea. She asked Nox if she could sneak into the lounge on her Trihorn Behemoth. That didn’t sound like a good idea. Nox was reminded of an old song that Jerath liked to sing:

“…Hey, Halfling, what’s that sound?
Great big footsteps coming down….”
— Giants Don’t Sneak

The Trihorn Behemoth Andrea was riding had feet that were bigger than any giant had, so he suggested the Dragonborn Warlord wait at the mouth of the Portal Chamber until the Githyanki realized their weapons had disappeared.

Only one of the strike force noticed Nox sneaking in. His shouted warning was too late. He ran to the pile of weapons, grabbed them, and teleported back to the Portal Chamber which was sorta located in the middle of the lounge. There he threw the swords into the Astral Mist.

They didn’t quite go as far as he had hoped. The weapons just floated in the mist where he threw them.

“Oh, well, at least they don’t have them.”

Relvain the Dragonpinner found herself once again in the bowels of a Hill Giant fortress. “I must be dreaming again,” she thought. She remembered that in this dream Obanar had sent her to scout the area the Hill Giants were using as a base of operations to attack Argent, the Silver City.

When Andrea Ravn swallowed the Potion of Regeneration, she felt it sap the last of her emotional and physical reserves.

She hoped it would keep her alive long enough for Nox’s plan to work.

She charged around the curve of the wall on the back of her mount. The Behemoth’s heavy footsteps convinced her that sneaking up on the Strike Force was something best left to Nox and Jax.

“Giants don’t sneak,” she reminded herself. “And neither do Trihorns.”

Keeping the Githyanki from getting their weapons back proved harder than they expected. The Mindlashers didn’t seem to need them and the Warmongers were able to get past her using their Telekinetic Leaps. The Astraan — who was the only Githyanki carrying his weapon on his person — even helped by using his telekinetic powers to give the Warmongers extra leaps.

The Astraan’s weapon — a silver dagger — proved less effective.

“He couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” Andrea observed as he watched the Astraan try to hit the Trihorn. “Or the backside of my mount.”

Eventually the battle focused around the only chokepoint between the Githyanki and their weapons: the doorway to the Portal Chamber.

By inching her way into position to flank the Mindlashers and give her mount a chance to use her horns, she was able to get to a spot where she could heal Nox.

Who was now beset by the Warmongers who had retrieved their weapons. Beset inside the Portal Chamber.

The Portal Chamber where Nox’s magickal fire seemed incapable of missing. The Warmongers died first, then the Mindlashers. The Astraan surprised them when he ran. Instead of heading for one of the other exits from the lounge, it leapt into the Astral Mist and then to the Portal itself.

Andrea knew the Portal was some kind of Sovereign Gate, capable of sucking magickal energies from other realms, even other Planes of Existence.

Yet it had no runes: the runes that were key to understanding every other gate or portal that she had ever seen.

“How can you find it without the runes to concentrate upon?”

She was so desperate to understand the Sovereign Gate that she used all of the arcane powers her Dragonmark gave her to try and perceive how the Portal — or Gate or whatever it was — functioned.

But all she got was a brief vision of the place where the Astraan fled: some kind of shipyard where an Astral Fleet was assembling.

The Second Time Through
...The World Gate...

…to the Well of the Worlds…

…goes better than the first.

“Damn Imps,” Andrea Ravn swore as she woke up from the dream of Korvosa.

She had been determined to beat them this time. She had convinced Jaz and Nox to think about Korvosa as the Chaniri priests performed the ritual that would allow them to all be in the same dream.

But the result was the same: The mad prophet foretold of doom involving a plague and Nox — who appeared as a vengeful friend in this dream — was once again able to heal himself of the madman’s disease; the imps attacked again, drawing the attention of the Korvosan Guard; once again, the guards found the queen’s broach on her and carted them all off to the castle…

…and once again their sleep was less restful than it should have been.

“So we’ll have to go through the World Gate tired and angry,” she told the others.

They took Krasire’s mount, but not their own. Jaz rode it, while Andrea and Nox would try to make it to the door. Even without opening it — “Who knows what’s on the other side?” — they might be able to wedge themselves into the vestibule and avoid the worst effects of the Astral Mist.

Jaz decided against entering the dream as a drug addict. It was what Andrea wanted her to do, but it sounded just a little too dangerous. As they meditated on the mythical city of Korvosa, she imagined herself as the friend of a drug addict who was strung out on Shiver. Gaedren Lamm, her friend’s drug dealer, would still have to pay for his crimes, but she would be just a little more Streetwise. It turned out that meant that Andrea didn’t even recognize her in the dream. And Gaedren Lamm was already dead. On his body Andrea found a broken broach. They took it to a jeweler who refused to fix it. He recognized it as the queen’s stolen broach and he didn’t want to get caught with stolen property.

Jaz awoke from the dream, feeling less than fully refreshed.

But they still had to go through the World Gate — through something called the Sovereign Gate — to the Well of the Worlds.

“The Alliance needs to know what the emperor plans to do with all this extra magickal energy they are pulling from our world,” Bejam told her. The Wizard from Nefelus was convinced the Githyanki would not be increasing their risk of discovery if they were not expecting to use the Material Plane’s magickal energy for something important.

That meant they had to go back to the Well of the Worlds soon, even though Nox and Andrea had been forced back the last time they tried by some kind of Astral Shade. They expected it to be even stronger this time.

“It hadn’t been attacked in thousands of years the last time,” Andrea told her. “This time it may be expecting us.”

The Dreamer found himself once again escorting Andrea through the streets of Korvosa. The riots were still going on all around them, crazies screaming about dooms coming down on the city. Once again, one of them rushed at the Dreamer while shouting about some plague which was coming to the city in the future. Once again, the disease he carried was very real … very much in the present. Once again, the Dreamer shook him off and was infected himself. Once again, he healed himself. Once again, they made their way through the Academae District. Once again, he and Andrea looked at each other — the drug addict’s friend was not paying attention — and he fired at the imps who were attacking them. Once again, he missed and the imps got the broach. Then the Queen’s Guard showed up. Once again, they clubbed the imps, found the broach, and hauled them off to prison for possession of stolen property. The Dreamer awoke, as Nox Rhasgar … once again, rested … but not well rested.

Nox Rhasgar knew what his job was: Blast his way past the Shade and get his back to the door. The vestibule by the door was the only place he could make a stand without getting swept by the Shade into the Astral Mist which surrounded the Sovereign Gate itself.

Jaz was coming through on Krasire’s mount — a hippogryph which could fly out of the mist. Andrea could fly — a bit — using her vestigial wings.

But Nox would have to rely on the others if he should find himself swimming in the stuff. As much as he like casting in the room filled with arcane energies, he didn’t want to find himself adrift in the Astral Mist again.

Getting the Shade out from between him and the door wasn’t as hard as he expected. He hit it with an Elemental Bolt — this time it didn’t turn substantial — it teleported to another location and hit them with an Astral Shockwave.

But he didn’t get his back all the way to the door, and the thing’s next teleport put it right between him and the door.

Eventually he was able to work his way all the way to the door and pour on the damage. Jaz was getting the hang of her Backstabs and Sneak Attacks.

The Shade got Andrea down several times, but her regenerating armor kept bringing her back to her feet. Nox downed his own Potion of Regeneration just in case it was able to knock them both out.

Then the creature started to work on Jaz as well. If it got them all three out simultaneously, it could finish them off, one by one, even with their regeneration going full blast.

They managed to kill it just as Jaz was bloodied for the first time.

“Not a lot of time to spare,” Nox thought to himself as they sent Jaz out to explore the next room.

Andrea Ravn swore she would never again try the streets of Korvosa in her dreams. But she had to admit she had to sleep sometime. And that meant the possibility of dreaming. “What was it that Jerath always said about that?” she asked. “I remember: ‘Aye, there’s the rub’.”

Jaz remembered the trick she and Maggie used to play on their teachers.

At the Black Dragon Society Enclave, they were each taught to impersonate the same people — sort of stereotypes, Maggie liked say, although their teachers called them “archetypes.” One of these archetypes was named Jasmine. They practiced Jasmine with each other so much their Jasmine voices became indistinguishable from each other.

Eventually their physical Jasmine disguises become so close the pictures their teachers gave them that Maggie — who was much better at disguise than Demyse — was able to duplicate her Jasmine disguise.


So perfectly their teachers often mistook one for the other. This enabled one of them to sneak away for various forms of mischief while the other pretended to be the other … as Jasmine.

She thought about this as she slipped through the door of the domed room where the Sovereign Gate was located.

“Just a curving hall,” she thought as she worked her way around to the right. Then she found a kind of lounge, filled with couches.

Beyond the couches, the dome opened into a window. Out of the window, Jaz could see the Astral Sea. Floating there were other globes. She was able to imagine that the dome she was in looked much like those, if she could view this one from the other globes.

Lounging on some of the couches: Githyanki, Warmongers and Mindlashers; the one who seemed to be the leader was armed only with a silver dagger.

“They don’t seem to be expecting us,” she told herself, noting they had left their weapons — except that silver dagger — piled on their gear nearby. “I better report back to the others.”

They seemed to be gathered around a pool of water in the center of the lounge.

“Might be just the thing that Andrea was hoping to find when she brought that bottle.”

Through the Gate
...To the Well of Worlds...

…And Quickly back again.

As his companions rested from their battle with the last of the Githyanki invaders, the robed Githyanki told Nox Rhasgar the temple complex was called the Fane of Chaniir. Andrea had already convinced their leader, the priestess known as Talanee, to share some of their secrets.

Now that they had helped them clear their fane of invaders, the Chaniri — which is what they called themselves — were glad to share their story and answer Nox’s questions.

“The only problem,” he told himself, “is I’m not sure what to ask.”

They told him they were planning to leave. After they had consecrated the bodies of their dead and buried them.

“This holy place has lost its sanctity," Talanee told him, "debased as it is by the blood of Zetch’r’r’s traitors. Our fate lies elsewhere now.”

He knew that Zetch’r’r was the new emperor of all the Githyanki. Until now, though, he had no idea that some Githyanki were opposed to his rule, almost loyal to their previous ruler — Queen Vlaakith.

“Zetch’r’r is a dog leading dogs," the Chaniri leader told him. “But those who lash themselves to his leash see not the chains he wears. The false emperor talks of rebuilding the glory of the Githyanki, but he is a pawn of forces he has not the mind to understand nor the will to stand against.”

Talanee continued: “In the long eons since the gods and Primordials fought for control of all creation, Bahamut and Tiamat have undergone a never-ending sibling war. Driven apart yet drawn constantly together by their dichotomous natures, the two gods fight endless battles, both face to face and through their proxies in all the many worlds."

When Andrea woke up, Nox could see she was interested in this part of the story. She asked about it.

“Among all races, long ages of peace follow epochs of tyranny as each deity ekes out a temporary victory over the other,” Talanee told them. “But in the end, always, the battle continues. Until now.”

Nox wanted to know what was different about the War Between the Dragons now. The Githyanki priestess started to answer before he could even ask.

“In this age, a new war looms between these two ancient adversaries. On both sides, armies amass across worlds in preparation for brutal conflict, but Tiamat means to see that this battle with Bahamut is the last. The dragon queen seeks to slay the Platinum Lord, and Zetch’r’r has sworn himself and the Githyanki to the service of this dark goal.”

The Chaniri soon became so busy burying their dead that Nox had time to sleep. He dreamt of a city he had only heard of in dreams. The Fire Archon in his dream about the City of Brass told him the Crown of Fangs could be found in a place called Kosovo.

And now he dreamed of that place.

The streets of Kosovo were already dangerous. People rioting; the king was dead. But the noise of the riots were not the only thing keeping the Dreamer from his goal — the palace — the rioting had wakened monsters in the sewers. The pavement cracked and a horrible creature burst forth. The Dreamer fired an Elemental Bolt at it.

And missed.

Nox woke to find himself back in the Fane of Chaniir. The Chaniri were still burying their dead.

Well, not burying them in any sense that Nox was used to. They cleaned the bodies, consecrating them for burial. Then they had piled them into the furthest rooms of the fane. Now they were walling up those rooms, using the broken stones the invaders had left everywhere in their path of destruction.

As they worked he asked Talanee why they were being tortured.

“The Chanhiri’s task is to keep watch over the World Gate for the Githyanki," she told him. "In making our opposition known to the plots of the false emperor Zetch’r’r, we were first shunned, then assaulted. However, our craft allowed us to seal the gate in ways that Zetch’r’r’s thralls could not overcome.”

After Andrea woke up, she had some questions of her own. And she began her own research in the library of the fane.

The World Gate was opened by the Chaniri as they prepared to depart through it.

Nox had already used a scroll to send a message to Amyria. He got a response asking for the runes inscribed around the World Gate. When they sent those, help arrived in the form a task force led by Bejam.

Bejam was the Nefalese representative on the Alliance’s Council. Andrea showed him the library and he got to work.

The Nefelese Wizards in the task force wanted to know what the World Gate was. So Bejam asked Talanee and Andrea, who was already studying there.

“The World Gates are the prime portals through which the Githyanki first mastered the connections between planes," Talanee told them. But this answer was not enough for Andrea.

“This World Gate is set within the mortal realm, with others in the Feywild and the Shadowfell. More distant gates in nameless planes are whispered of, but they are beyond my knowledge.”

Nox saw that the Githyanki were preparing to perform some ritual magic at the glowing sphere they called the World Gate. Apparently this gave Andrea ideas.

She showed Krasire’s Ritual Book to the Chaniri ritual casters and asked them if they could cast one of the rituals she could not master: Dream Concordance.

Nox went along with it when she asked him to join her in this concordance: where they could both join each other in a dream about the city of Kosovo. Nox did not share his previous dream about the city.

In the dream, Andrea was trying to take a broach to the queen, but they were arrested instead when the queens guards found the broach on his person. They woke little rested.

Just like before.

The group who came through the Gate had been busy while they dreamed. They were organizing the defense. Apparently they agreed with Nox’s plan to use the Freeriders to patrol the area around the outside of the fane. Inside, they were preparing magickal defenses for the inevitable moment when Emperor Zetch’r’r’s forces realize their strike force had not reported back from the Fane of Chaniir.

Bejam called the Andrea to one of the library chambers in the fane — the one she had shown him. He told Nox, “I do not want the things I have learned to become common knowledge yet.”

He followed Bejam and Andrea there. Bejam had obviously developed some understanding of the operation of the World Gate. He told them of the existence of the Well of Worlds, but Nox could see what he had learned had put him on edge.

“The Githyanki priestess spoke truth regarding the World Gates," he told them. "The circle here siphons the planar energy of the mortal realm, drawing it to a site beyond. This Well of Worlds is spoken of in the lore here, but the fact that the Githyanki have kept the site secret even from Nefelus demonstrates its importance. Indeed, the existence of the Well and its power goes some way toward explaining the advantage the Githyanki have gained in this war.”

Andrea had been more interested in the discovery of the World Gates and how it fit into the history of the Githyanki, but Nox remembered what she said of the The Well of Worlds: “It is a site of powerful planar magic, built by Chanhiir in the lost age of our race and open only to those of Githyanki blood. It is a planar mote existing in no world—fueled by the energy of the Astral Sea but not set within it. The Well of Worlds is the center of the portal network that is the lifeblood of the Githyanki empire. It is the site through which elite Githyanki strike teams travel the planes, including the force charged with seizing the fane.”

“How did they send the Fomorian Painbringers through?” Andrea wanted to know. “They are certainly not Githyanki.”

He already had heard this from Priestess Talanee, but he let the Wizard from Nefelus explain: “The Whitefire Mark is a mystical sigil implanted only in the most trusted servants of the Githyanki — those granted access to the Well of Worlds. The sigils are a permanent magical brand that burns with a white flame powered by the bearer’s own life force.”

But Bejam wanted to tell them more about the Well of the World, even though Nox could tell Andrea was already thinking about how they could use the sigils to infiltrate the Well itself.

“The Well is a place that touches all other places — all planes of existence, all sites in those planes. From the Well of Worlds, the Githyanki have access to anywhere in all of creation.”

But it seemed that even more was happening.

“If the Well of Worlds was merely as this Talanee described it," Bejam said, “a portal for moving the Githyanki’s elite forces — I would wish to know more of it. However, the brief period of my study here has shown that the World Gate is drawing off planar energy greatly in excess of its normal operation.”

“I can see that,” Andrea said. “I have been reading the lore before you got here. According to this library, the planar energy should not be enough to be detectable.”

Bejam agreed, telling them his fellow Wizards were detecting a high rate of power drain from the Mortal Realm. “These books say it is the general policy of the Githyanki to keep drain low. That is probably why the Nefelese never detected it before. They wanted to keep it secret.”

The wizard’s face grew grim. "From what the Chanhiri said, Zetch’r’r had specific purpose in seizing the fane, and I am fearful as to what that purpose might be.”

Andrea asked him how long before reinforcements came through to find out what happened to Emperor Zetch’r’r’s forces who attacked the fane.

“I do not know how long the Githyanki will await the return of their forces from the fane," Bejam told them. "But if they discover us here, their retribution will be swift. We must send a request to the Coalition for reinforcements to hold the fane in the event of another Githyanki assault. For my part, I will convince Nefelus to send more aid of its own. If the worst comes to pass, we can hopefully hold the fane long enough for you to discover what the Well of Worlds is — and what kind of threat it represents.”

“So, you want us to go through this World Gate?” he asked.

Andrea was already ahead of him. “Can your Wizards transfer the Whitefire Marks to us? Otherwise, the World Gate will not let us through. We are not Githyanki.”

Bejam told them he could perform the ritual himself. He and Andrea agreed get the marks.

The ritual by which the Whitefire Mark is bonded to a living creature seemed simple enough, but the exertion that showed in Bejam when he was done showed the potency of the magic that has been imbued.

As the ritual was completed, the sigil flared to life on his wrist, its outline of white flame writhing around the stark lines of a Githyanki blade.

Though the mark could be covered by his sleeve or Andrea’s armor easily
enough, Nox felt its flame still flaring — pulsing in time with the beating of his heart.

While Bejam was completing the ritual, the Chaniri finished opening the World Gate and stepped through. Two Nefelese mages began staring into its murky depth, trying to discern what lay on the other side.

“Beyond the World Gate lies a portal the likes of which we have not seen before. It has no sigil sequence. Rather, its location is fixed by psychic energy and the flow of planar power through it. A force of Githyanki a half-dozen strong arrived there only an hour ago, but we have seen no other traffic before or since.”

So urgent was the need to find out what was happening at the Well of the Worlds that Nox and Andrea rode their mounts through before the others had time to have their Whitefire Marks transferred.

Closer in, Roland the Betrayer saw what looked to him like a thin, tenuous footpath winding its way along the low ridge, just inside the fog line. A wider path headed downhill, into the jungle and in the approximate direction of that hump near the center of the valley. The small hill with defensive walls of some kind near its top. “Not a very high place to build a fortification,” he thought as began to work his way down the footpath.

Andrea Ravn found herself wishing she had not used her Draconic sidestep to escape the Shade’s initial blast.

“It would have proved more useful now,” she told herself. “Or about any other time during this fight.”

It was hard to stay on the platform…

“Although he hasn’t used the Astral Blast as often as I expected.”

While the Shade managed to stay just out of her reach, Andrea used her rudimentary wings to get herself back to the platform — repeatedly. After Nox went into his Dragonborn-fireball form, she had to use her chain to drag him back to the platform, even though he could use his fireballs from anywhere.

She had used her Foe Stone to figure out the thing was vulnerable to Force damage. The thing seemed to be trying to tell her more. It kept vibrating after some of the Shade’s attacks.

“It’s almost as if the Foe Stone is trying to tell me that those attacks have something else to them…”

…Something it just wasn’t able to communicate.

She noticed the creature became substantial after they hit it. Nox was able to set it up with his fire breath and then hit it with his Elemental Bolts. Even Andrea could use her breath weapon to force it to become substantial.

Which gave Nox more chance to hit it with powerful spells. Which seemed to be especially accurate in the magic-infused chamber.

Soon she was wheezing from overusing her breath weapon and they were both taking heavy damage from the Shade. She still could not reach it, so she had no more chance to set up Nox’s bolts. Half of them were passing through, doing some damage, but not enough.

“What we really need is Krasire on his mount.” She knew the Shardmind’s Hippogriff could fly through the Astral Mist with ease. And the Foe Stone said the creature would be vulnerable to his force magic.

Fortunately, she had remembered to memorize the Sigils on the World Gate. They were able to go back through to get reinforcements.

The Climactic Showdown the Portal Hall...

…Finally Gets the Order and the Freeriders…

…access to the force sphere at the center of the Fane of Chanhiir.

Andrea Ravn wanted to press on quickly to the next room. She wasn’t sure yet she could trust the mystery woman’s skills as a scout.

“Calls herself ‘Jaz’,” she thought to herself. “Yet she couldn’t sneak up on those torturers.”

She threw open the double doors and found another pair of doors just past a small room.

From beyond the second set of double doors came a sudden shout of alarm and the sounds of combat. Over the clash of swords and the shrieks of dying Githyanki, the familiar voice of Megan Swiftblade rang out.

“You laid claim to Elsir Vale, but our lands still stand free! Our people will not kneel to you, mudskin, nor will the wider world you covet! We will not fall!”

“I’m leading the way,” Andrea yelled as she forced her way through those doors as well. She could hear the others following. Even the Githyanki priests were anxious to get in on the battle to free their fane.

Before the stairs on the far side of the hall, Megan Swiftblade stood with the severed head of a Githyanki captain clutched by the hair. The Freeriders were bloodied but defiant behind her, the Githyanki in the chamber spreading out in preparation for attack.

She could tell the Freeriders were outnumbered — for all of Megan’s bravado. As Jaz charged in to surprise them from behind, Andrea took advantage of the fact the invader Githyanki’s attention was all on Megan to get a little surprise of her own.

The Freeriders and the robed Githyanki who were fighting on their side were soon cutting down the invaders and getting cut down themselves. She made a fateful decision and started healing the Freeriders whenever they fell.

“Probably the best thing I can do to win this battle,” she told herself as she instructed the others to drink the potions of regeneration she had brought for them.

Soon the odds were a little more even.

Storm Johnson told his followers, “We need something which will help us intimidate the Djinn of the City of Brass if we are ever to negotiate with them. I have found references to a powerful artifact: the Crown of Fangs.” He told them it was made from the teeth of the first Blue Dragon. “Khazavon is said to have sprung from the ground where one of the Scales of Io fell. He allied with Tiamat from the beginning and fathered the line which became the Blue Dragon Horde. When he was slain, his parts were deliberately scattered, so they could not be used to bring him back. Khazavon’s teeth were used to make a Major Artifact which could possibly help someone who was sufficiently attuned to it to intimidate the rulers of the City of Brass. I will send a message to Amyria and see if she can contact Nox Rhasgar. Maybe in his travels he can find the crown.”

Relvain Blackaxe knew she was having a dream about the Hill Giants attacking the city of Argent. Behind enemy lines. Inside the fortress they had built outside the city. She was fighting her way out. Swinging her axe in frustration, she missed…

…and awoke to find herself alone in the secret room they had discovered in the Githyanki tunnel complex near Thiradeth, an outpost north of Elsir Vale.

No sign of her companions, except the Minotaur who still snored loudly in the corner. Assuming they had pressed onward, she applied the right-hand rule and found another room full of rotting corpses, then a martial-arts training facility.

“Looks like they’ve been here,” she told herself when she saw two more corpses. Unlike the Githyanki corpses she found in the first room, these were freshly killed. And she heard the sound of fighting from the room beyond.

She found a battle royale there: Githyanki corpses everywhere; Megan and the Freeriders with Andrea healing them.

Her allies had even recruited some of the robe-wearing Githyanki to fight on their side. Unarmed, they were willing to fight against the heavily armored invaders who were wielding their silver swords.

She saw two groups of the sword-wielders who were wearing plate. Andrea was attracting the attention of the closer bunch, so she decided to charge across to the others who were essentially unscathed. Well, the robed ones had the far group surrounded — along with some of the Freeriders — but it was taking shouts of encouragement from Andrea to keep them on their feet.

“I’ll give them something to keep their minds off theses cloth- and leather-wearers,” she told herself. For the Freeriders preferred leather so they could keep their bow arms free.

Once Andrea and the mystery elf finished off the other bunch they came over to help. But she had already bloodied one of them.

Maggie agreed to meet with Garen Bladerun. He was interested in her plan to help in the rebuilding of the city of Overlook. The Paladin had plans of his own: to start a new training academy for Paladins of Bahamat. She knew just the place.

As the battle drew to a close, Jaz remembered how to use her Sneak Attacks along with her Backstabs. She found she could even do Sneak Attacks without stabbing her opponents in the back.

Soon she was doing more damage than the dwarven shieldmaiden who had joined the battle late.

Once they were able to concentrate on the last two Githyanki, Andrea introduced her to the others as an Elf. She could tell the Dwarf didn’t like Elves much.

“At least she doesn’t know I’m a Drow,” she told herself. “Then she’d really hate me.”

She wasn’t so sure about one of the Githyanki priests. While the other clerics wandered off to consecrate their dead, he was eying her suspicious. “I wonder if he suspects my true race?” she asked herself.

As if in answer, the priest winked at her. Then he walked over and told her he wanted to show her something.

He took her over to the body of a Warmonger he had been searching. From under the dead Githyanki’s breastplate he pulled out a hat.

An ordinary hat.

The force sphere in the middle of the room pulsed ominously. Spitting out the occasional tendril of force.


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