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Mohkba Mania: This is a Good Thing. Kind of.

“My tree is a twig! This is bad! Where did mage go?!” Tekkittir yells, hefting her spindly growth of a club—now the size of an infant sapling rather than a full-grown tree—against a nearby table leg to disappointing effect. The party’s unexpectedly disrupted teleport to Mohkba changed each of the adventurers fundamentally; while Tanhoj and Vic were used to being of a reduced stature (albeit only a few feet rather than a couple millimeters), their half-orc companion was easily the most distraught by the situation.

“Don’t panic,” Mykail says, testing his legs before easily springing several feet into the air despite being an inch tall, “things could be worse. At least we’re in Mohkba; there’s no reason to be short tempered about it.” Before he could crack another size-related joke, the half-elf’s companions shoot him a stare colder than the chillest Klavekian wind. “Look,” the bard says with a serious tone, “this isn’t as untenable as you’re all thinking it is. Yes, our blades are likely of little use, but imagine how much harder it will be for the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. to find us now? this is a good thing. kind of.I’m sure that they know the biomancer has been eliminated and now we’ve got a distinct advantage over an entire guild of sneaky criminals keen to stab our backsides. This is a good thing. Kind of.”

Stephni shakes her head, slapping the plucky bard on the shoulder. “He’s right. And Jesker—thrice damn his name—seemed to realize something was going wrong as he finished the spell so it’s only a matter of time before we’re back to normal. Until then we should be taking advantage of this..anomaly, and figure out what the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are up to so that when we’re able to act again, we can do so swiftly.” She looks around, delicately resting her gloved fist on her chin thoughtfully. “Where do you think we are right now? Is this the Carpenter’s Quarter or the Divine Quarter?”

Looking around carefully and making some calculations with his fingers, Justahn grumbles a bit and says, “if you like I can cast a fly spell to get a bird’s eye view, but gold to bullion says that we’re in the Carpenter’s Quarter. People in the Divine Quarter would have nicer shoes.”

“I’m in agreement and while I’d like to confirm our suspicions, avoiding casting spells might be prudent,” Mykails says. “We did just get shrunken down to the size of bread crumbs thanks to the Sanctioned Arcane Practitioners and I’m not at all keen to draw their attention in our current state. Let’s make for the Red Palace—however it is the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are planning on using those abominable creatures, the castle is sure to play a part.” Looking down the dirty city street that more resembles a canyon than anything else, the half-elf grins, “besides, I’m sure getting in will only require a little bit of effort.’”

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Wandering Wasteland: Clues in the Sand Beggar

“Well that was an experience I don’t think any of us will soon forget,” Mykail remarks with a sarcasm that his allies learned long ago is foreshadowing for something biting. Despite herself Stephni let her irritation twist her face into a grimace, prompting the bard to practically howl out, “oh don’t go and get a scowl about it!” before breaking out into obnoxious laughter.

“I’m not going anywhere with him today,” the knight says, gripping the handle of her sword tightly enough that a few passerby in Ravine take notice, cautiously stepping out of her way. “Teams of two; Tanhoj is with me. Scour every watering hole in this city for any signs of the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. and meet back up at the Sand Beggar tavern at sunset. Practice discretion too—Vic, please go with Tekkittir—remember that if they get wind of us snooping around again, they might bolt. We can’t afford that now that we’ve come so close to stopping them. Eyes sharp, people!”

Over the course of a long and weary day, each pair of adventurers learns little more than that while the cabal’s agents were definitely active in Ravine for some time, they had all since fled to parts unknown. No amount of intimidation (whether with dagger, spell, or tree) convinces the various barkeeps and merchants to share a more telling tale and with the weight of Ullast on their shoulders, each member of the party trickles into an alleyway near the Sand Beggar as the sun sets over the horizon of Aventyr.

clues in the sand beggarUsing her enormous club Tekkittir handily breaks through the door to the tavern and, weapons readied, the group charges into an empty bar. After swearing in a colorful variety of languages that surprise even Justahn, Stephni dejectedly grabs a bottle from behind the counter and steps outside, complaining that the trip back to Mohkba will take forever and that convincing the guard that they’re not criminals will be a nightmare, gradually listing the crimes they are accused of with a contempt unbecoming of her title.

Most of her companions follow suit and grab a few drinks for themselves, but Nehpets’ keen elven senses catch something on the floor under the hinged bit of the bar top. “That’s not normal,” he says while reaching down to touch the gritty fluid. He smells the dirty, oily liquid at the tips of his fingers and cringes, closing his eyes in concentration. “This is from the Grave Morass! The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S are in the Grave Morass!”

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Wandering Wasteland: Welcome to the Scorched Lands!

“I’m not exactly keen to another portal,” Stephni says, her eyes locked on the metallic pool before the party, “dragon’s advice or otherwise. The last time we did this the results were less than ideal.” The reflective puddle at the adventurers’ feet was barely big enough for Tekkittir to fit through but something in the liquid definitely evoked the feeling of Aventyr.

Justahn peered at it, hand on his newly acquired dreamblade. “Let’s not be hasty. I’ve found this to be a most informative journey and look forward to sharing tales of the Plane of Dreams over a few fine mugs of mead.” The dwarf grinned, “and besides none of us are dead, right?” A stifled laugh comes from around the backside of the burly half-orc barbarian carrying their bard, the only reply Mykail could manage after nearly perishing inside the dead god’s brain. “Besides I can feel that this is going to lead to Aventyr. I can feel it.”

Welcome to the Scorched Lands“I’m not so sure that’s a fine indicator, big guy.” Vic knelt down to the ground, peering into the puddle with keen halfling eyes. “A feeling isn’t much to go on. That said I don’t see why we’d want to stay in Alucinar any longer than we have to. Captain sing song there certainly can’t stay for much longer…and…that’s Jesker in the puddle there. The wizard.” Sure enough—though hard to see—a vision of the wizened old mage was in the metallic liquid, waving the group toward him.

Stephni immediately, reflexively stepped backwards, raising her hands up plaintively, “no, no no, no. That old coot? You can’t even seriously be considering this! We’re wanted in Mohkba because of him and nearly died in Shlyappa! If I ever get my hands on his withered old corpse of a body, I’ll wring hi—” before she could finish, a massive reverberation shook the very ground.

“Well,” Vic says, looking around to make sure he had all his kit, “reason enough for me.” With that the halfling leaps into the metallic puddle, disappearing from Alucinar entirely. Tekkittir followed in close pursuit (with Mykail over her shoulder) and Nehpets didn’t tarry. Tanhoj and Justahn wavered long enough to give Stephni sympathetic shrugs, but with no allies in sight and the reverberations becoming more common it didn’t take long for the knight to jump across dimensions.

As Stephni expected, conditions here were not much of an improvement. Off in the distance—fortunately moving away—was a huge swathe of light blasting away the hot sands. People were crawling out of the shadows, shielding their eyes against the blinding ambiance. As her eyes adjusted a familiar figure began to take hold: Jesker the Great. “Welcome to the Scorched Lands!”

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Awake in Alucinar: The Dead God Dreams

The Dead God Dreams

In sleeping realms of shrouded thought,
lies the dream which chaos wrought,
no final battle could be fought,
against the fate the dreamer sought.

Life forsaken; divine no more,
the dying god his madness poured,
into a battle of a winless war,
an eon faded to nothing more.

Yet still, the Dead God dreams,
ghastly visions and horrid themes,
a darkened place where no light gleams
of evil thoughts and wicked schemes.

Flee now, O’ gentle child of light,
for death and sorrow haunt the night,
pray the dead one’s wrath and might,
remain in dreams, and out of sight.

Go now, and ask no more,
turn your ships against battered ore,
this sea is cursed by dragon’s roar,
for the Dead God dreams here forevermore.

Ameslari hymn about the Sea of NightmaresThe dead god dreams

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Awake in Alucinar: Sleepless Sonuvanje

Stephni’s stomach churned as she trod through the portal spawned by the strange creatures that attacked but an hour ago, questioning her sanity with each step. The rest of the group had voted however, and the majority decided that with no other leads that the gateways were the most advantageous way forward. So it was, she thought—gripping the hilt of her sword—that Mykail had convinced everyone to head into another foolish situation. So what if there were no other leads? The cypher notes could have turned up something, but no, once again the bard was influencing the group’s direction.

Sleepless Sonuvanje

I’ve been right before, you know,” the half-elf says, seeming to read her mind as she stepped into a place he claimed was known as Alucinar. “What else would we be doing? I can’t make out anything from those weird messages and Justahn has confirmed that there’s no magical trace of where the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. went. This is just the most logical place.”

The minstrel cracks a smile that Stephni can’t ever seem to defend against so she just nods resolutely, scanning the area in this new dimension. “Right well let’s not vacation here, alright? I’m never at ease in these weird places and would much rather face off against something in Aventyr. Anything in Aventyr—I’d even take on the AaWBlog before another claustrophobic minute in Shlyappa, and this place seems even more disorienting.” Suddenly a whoosh of air and crashing of limbs catches her attention and she instinctively turns to face the threat, sword drawn. Much to her surprise it’s just Tekkittir, the half-orc’s expression even more confused than normal and the tree she uses as a club on the ground beside her. Odd to be sure, but the hairs on the back of the fighter’s neck rise as the giantess stoops to pick the weapon up only for her hand to pass right through the wood!

“Do not panic,” a loud, familiar voice rings out, yawning, “your friend will feel better shortly.” Looking around for source of the deep, basal tone, Stephni locks eyes with a massive dragon, but even to her mundane senses it is immediately clear that the creature is incredibly tired. It yawns again before continuing, “it is not uncommon for a creature to have some difficulty with their bodies when they first reach the Dreaming Island. You must be new here; I am Sleepless Sonuvanje. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to Alucinar, the Plane of Dreams.”