We determined that the ambush site was well established. The age and condition of the wagons suggested they had been there for years, attracting unwary travellers to provide regular meals for the trolls. Little did they expect that today, Graphel would be making a meal of them instead. In fact, he may have overdone it – there’s only so much troll blood that can fit an a little gnome’s stomach before it comes back up. And come back up it did, in a spectacular spray of color that only a sorcerer could manage.
But in an unexpected change from protocol, Gargamel was not in spew range and did not have to go for yet another change of clothes. Knowing something was not right about this, Crunk watched our fat Captain and soon suspected that he had not taken his hand from the hilt of his pointy pointy new rapier since the moment he had acquired it. When Crunk pointed that out to him, Gargamel became excited and immediately launched into an extremely lengthy and detailed account of the sword’s history. Crunk made himself comfortable and listened to every word, demonstrating once again his incredible endurance.
Meanwhile, in wolf form, Ilyana continued to inspect the area. When she reverted back, she was visibly shaken. The smell was so intense, and unnatural that it left her terrified. The unidentified nightmarish odor was burned into her memory.
All agreed that this death trap must be destroyed. Manifred summoned Pilosus Bubalis, the celestial bison, to quickly reduce the wagons to little more than splinters.
As the sun set, Graphel felt briefly sated, his compulsions quieted. Then, a new dream: he was floating, calm, in the blackest of blackness, no hint of light; then, a far-off cluster of stars emerged and moved toward him; as they drew near, he could see they were not stars at all, but all-seeing eyes!; they closed in and he knew they loved him, as he gazed at them he stiffened into stone (no, this is not that kind of dream, shame on you), before he was shattered into the dust of millions of pieces; finally, a great and terrifying toothy maw consumed all that remained of him. He awoke with a new compulsion: an unshakeable urge to eat a beholder eye!
Heyman read late into the night and finished the book he found in the golem factory. It was a tale of a rugged underdog with dreams of greatness, who persevered against impossible odds with fierce and dogged tenacity. As he reached the last sentence, he looked up and reflected for a moment before he felt a surge of newfound strength, and his hands took on a golden lustre. He knew his own path was now blessed by the gods of strength themselves.
And then came the dawn that was not a dawn. The skies remained in twilight as Manifred Gund’ark Stoneworthy II took on a brief but unmistakeable celestial glow at the moment of sunrise. All present knew at once that he too had been touched by the gods.
Delerek continued to lose patience with Jangles but passed the latest and perhaps the most trying test of his holy resolve yet as he endured Jangle’s metaphysical chicken-crossing-the-road joke without killing him.
Crunk became uneasy. Once again things were “off.” He pointed out that the ship seemed to be moving forward but the sails hung dead and empty in the windless air. Mother’s boys ignored us as they robotically went about their tasks.
It was Ilyana who deduced what had happened, when her hand passed through one of the crew and she could no longer sense Kyren the wolf. The profound sense of disconnection she felt told her that we were no longer on Toril, but now adrift in the Astral Plane.
The ship stopped and we could no longer perceive the crew.
We realized that we felt no hunger or thirst, and felt no need to breathe.
Crunk immediately challenged Graphel to a “breath holding” contest.
Jangles created a magical sound in the eerie silence.
From the crows nest, the sound echoed back at us. We looked up to see a priesty-looking guy with an uppity and camp demeanor and a very unique haircut looking casually down at us with a cheshiric smile.
Jangles climbed to the crows nest. From there he could see that Mother was at the center of what could only be described as a “reality bubble.” Being a halfling in a white suit, he pointed, shaped his ghost magic into the sound of a clanging bell and cried out, “Boss! Ze bubble! Ze bubble!”
“Forgive me ladies and gentlemen!” said priesty-guy. “I am Shin.” It sounded more like a sneeze than a word. “Not like a knee, not like a foot, but a…” and he made the sneezing sound again. Heyman became antagonistic. “Shiv?” he asked. “Shin!” replied priesty. “Shiv?” repeated Heyman.
“Shiv!” he exclaimed in a sneeze-like reply. “I like that! My name is Shiv! Not like a knife, not like an axe: Shiv!”
Shiv informed us that we would now be here in the astral plane with him forever, and was quite pleased that he had the company of “real people” after such a very long time. Crunk abruptly lost the contest with Graphel when Shiv struck a conversation with him and asked him to tell his story. Crunk happily complied, starting at the beginning. Shiv listened with great interest until hours later Crunk finished his story.
Heyman was unimpressed. “I have a story of my own. There once was a god named Kord. He told me to kick your ass. Now how do I get out of here?”
Shiv was equally unimpressed by Heyman’s bravado. “You serve me now. When you can speak nicely, perhaps then we can talk again,” at which point he faded from sight.
In the distance there was a grey dot which grew bigger and bigger. We eventually saw that it was an island of disenearthed rock perched in the midst of the eternal twilight nothingness that surrounded us. Upon it was constructed a city, surrounded by a great wall, upon which were giant stone parapets.
Gcroilar’s eyes grew large as he breathed words unfamiliar to us: “Rhun Kazhai!” and then, when he saw our confusion followed with “Gods’ Foot!”
All of us felt a chill as a sense tickling the feet of our own consciousness suggested that somehow, we were being tested.