The Red Hand

A Long-Awaited Reunion

As Mavrikos and Anastasia materialized in Master Broju’s laboratory, the smell of smoke still clinging to their bodies, Vikkard rushed over and took Anastasia in his arms, tears streaming down his face.
-Oh! Anastasia!
-Wha… Who? Vikkard? Lord above, what ever has happened to you? You are so… old…
-I will explain later, but now is not the time, yes? How are you? Are you well?
-Yes… Oh! My sister! Where is Maria?
-Your sister? I’m afraid only you and the paladin made it through… Perhaps Rhialla was unable to power the ritual completely? Master Carrow and I will look and see what can be done.
Carrow nods.
-In the meantime, please follow Master Tannister to your quarters. I believe you need rest, yes? We will speak later.
-M’lady.
Tyrion extends his hand to young woman and takes her away from the room, surreptitiously casting a soothing spell at her.
-Oh! You look like that small man that fixes our mekanical toys.
The remaining masters turn towards Mavrikos.
-Now, little warrior, you will tell us what happened, yes? And where is my apprentice?

Throughout the evening, the rest of the group returns to their bodies in various states of panic and the masters get each apprentice to replay the events of their time on Earth. Their stories told, they are dismissed to allow the masters to discuss their next moves.

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The Second Litany of the Mewling Quims

Hulio the Fair kept strumming his lute, building up the excitement from the crowd. Another inn at the outskirt of civilization, excited that the legendary Hulio would deign to grace them with his presence, He that would be laughed off the stage in any city big enough to appear on a map. But he didn’t complain, for he had found his niche: the hamlets and outposts, far removed from civilized society, where the populace, hungry for any change in their mundane lives, would worship the mediocre talents of a failed bard. The farmers’ wives would throw themselves at him when their husbands would fall to the floor in a drunken stupor. The pay wasn’t great, though the free lodging, food and the soft caress of a woman was more than enough for him to live a comfortable, content life.
And the fact that his patron, a great, mysterious mage with a wicked smile, would compose most of his songs for him was an even greater boon to him, leaving him free of the stress of the artistic mind.

And thus Hulio started his second Litany of the Mewling Quims.

Our heroes of Whadi came back to their lairs
To report all their heroic affairs

Bloodied from their fights
With the Priest of the blights
Their courage attaining new untold heights!

But their journey was far from over
No time to be hungover
For their masters sent them to find her

Who’s ‘her’ you may be wondering
Rhialla, her senses lacking
For she chose the road of boot licking

Also a master’s precious thing
That also needed some saving
Unknown name for Samir wasn’t listening

Soon Hasdrubal’s Mewling Quims
Were sent to the outer rims
On a world that looked pretty grim

The world’s magic near gone
Their bodies could not be counted on
So they used a vessel as pawn

They soon met with Mavrikos
That Paladin of Mighty Phos
Who never lacked in virtuous mottoes

So the Quims were just glad
To see him they thought he was rad
Until he mentioned Rhialla just went nomad

Now the scribes came together
To decide as to which tether
Needed first to be cut altogether?

Bored to tears our good Samir
Left the door in the rear
In search of another beer

He came back with some horses
Stolen from some type of armed forces
By his vessel’s criminal sources

The decision was made
To Go to Rhialla’s aid
For she had the teleport grenade

Turns out that bitch was a shrewd
Ambitious cunt with a mood
And told the Quims they were surely screwed

With no way out of this world
Our heroes’ hopes were to be hurled
Their minds and hopes just simply whorled

But the Quims sensed her great weakness
For they baited her ambition sickness
And bartered the grenade for some mysterious secrets

For a dwarf living there had found
A magic library hidden underground
Surely Rhialla’s thirst would make her come around

Sure enough she agreed
To make the exchange out of greed
The Mewling Quims had now a way to succeed

Now off to save What-chu-ma-call-it
In the palace they’d need to hit
Well-guarded by an army of bigots

They sought out the guards cook
To help poison what they took
Which cleared the way for a quick look

They found the princess in her room
With her sister in gloom
Too stupid to see their impending doom

The Quims had to drag them gently
To the secret library
The two dolts rambling about some ‘Hail Mary’

Once there The Quims barricaded
The door for they were raided
By the guards that if defeated would be downgraded

Ritual just completed the princess went away
But the Mewling Quims’ vessel needed to stay
So they joined Hasdrubal to the fray

Just to piss off the traitor
Samir alighted the library with fire
While Orfée scrambled for water

All fought to the end theirs deaths
Not their last breaths
For their souls came back to their true selves

Hasdrubal their great leader died last
Having fought through a blast
Of bullets, mortars and all that sass

Now Hasdrubal Thesh is his name
Of the Mewling Quims fame
Make sure to your neighbours his name you proclaim!

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A Teachable Moment

Lyrion had been considering taking on Fea’sha as an apprentice. The young elven girl was as attractive as she was talented, but her recent performance had been lackluster. She was obviously distracted and the flush in her cheeks suggested she was embarrassed.
-I’d rather not have to rummage through your mind to get to the bottom of this.
-Master, I’d rather not.
-Oh, I’m sorry, is this your office? Is that your halfling-sized desk?
Fea’sha wasn’t stupid enough to miss the real annoyance behind Master Tannister’s quips.
-It’s… huh… It’s Felina.
-Your familiar?
-She’s… huh… She’s in her longing time and I can’t work and share headspace with that mess. It takes all my focus to not just rub myself against every piece of furniture in this office.
-Oh, ah, that explains the flush…
-How do you do it?
-What do you mean?
-Well, you only take on pussycat familiars.
-Ah, but you forget: A Tannister always spays his pets. Now, I think we can find another way to scratch your itch…

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All is fair in lust and greed...

Althea’s snickered derisively, her laughter echoing in throughout her chambers. «Does she know?» Realizing it provided her an avenue to tease him with, he begun to second guess his choice. «Know what? She’s an attractive woman. There is nothing more to it.» Hasdrubal snapped back to his unseen mentor, as he progressed further in her quarters, on his guard.

«If you say so…» echoed Althea’s voice, twisting the dagger in her pupil’s pride a little bit more.

Here he was at her request for another session, another encounter. It was their physical beauty that caught each other’s eyes but it was their competitive spirit that maintained the vitality of their little arrangement.

Each tryst was a contest, one that pitted the vigor of youth against calculated wisdom of experience, his physical might against her arcane prowess. The rule of engagement were simple: Althea would try to subdue him, but if Hasdrubal managed capture her arcane bond, she would surrender herself to him.

Verily, the thrill of the chase provided for moments of pure ecstasy…

As Althea was not above using trickery to gain the upper hand, Hasdrubal remained alert as he was making his way in her bedroom.

It was there that he found her.

She was waiting, standing in the open in the middle of room. At his sight, she removed her red cloak, letting it fall on the floor, revealing her lithe and graceful frame. Before him, a beautiful elven woman of pearly complexion with long green hairs tied into a braid… A familiar figure…

Hasdrubal surveyed her intently, his heart racing in anticipation. It was exact replica but for her green eyes, burning with unnatural confidence and intensity… Althea’s determination remaining fully apparent even in this assumed form

She circled right hand’s finger around her pointy ear gliding down her neck to her exposed shoulders. Her fingers continued down along the loop of her necklace fishing a star-shaped pendant inside her dress which she let rest on her bosom with a bit of flourish.

Her arcane bond. His quarry.

Hasdrubal cracked his neck, assuming a wrestling stance. «Ready when you are.»

«Who says I’m not?» replied Althea, smiling with assurance as dark vines slowly crept near Hasdrubal’s ankles…

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The Litany of the Mewling Quims

The Inn of the Tired Horse was filled to the brim this evening, for it was a rare occasion that a bard of Hulio the Fair’s fame came all the way to this cursed outpost in the middle of nowhere. The surrounding farmsteads and villages all congregated to the inn that night, husbands bringing their children and wives.
All silently waited for the bard, adjusting his instrument, basking in the excitement from the crowd. After a while, he lifted his left hand for silence and thus started the Litany of the Mewling Quims

(to the tune of an Irish drinking song)

There once was this band
Of the Dreaded Red Hand
Who hailed from some foreign land

Their name was so grim
A prophecy that they’d win
If they’d just stop losing their limbs

At their head a Transmuter
Hasdrubal the looter
Though I sure wish he was cuter

By his hand many foes
Perished by his mighty blows
After which he made many poses

His companions all scribes
I’m not making some gibes
For this song is not for diatribes

Orfée is the Enchantress
Who’s stuck to convalesce
Her friends who will never impress

Nasah’s their Necromancer
But he looks like a prancer
Yet his arrows are something to answer

Rhea the Diviner
Paranoid you’d say of her
Always looking into her damn mirror

Samir’s the illusionist
Who the rumors persist
That his pants contains a huge penis

And Eydan Stormmane
Let’s not forget his name
For his reward still needs to be claimed

Under their fearless leader
Hasdrubal the Cleaver
They came for Whadi’s dead treasures

Entering Whadi’s Necropolis
Which made the ghouls hiss
They saw that things sure looked amiss

After the undead escaped
They just charged and got raped
But somehow survived and looked quite scraped

In the end they saved Whadi
All scratched up they looked funny
Their trousers dripping with pee-pee

Now my song’s filled to the brim
I cannot write more on whim
For the heroes called the Mewling Quims

I hope you’ll remember
The names of its members
For some will soon surely be dismembered

Now should you meet them
One day don’t spit your phlegm
Instead you should gift them some items

Especially ones with magic
That should do the trick
And make sure to give them to Samir

Now my song’s at an end
Spread the word to your friend
For The Mewling Quims will soon transcend

Into what we don’t know
But I’m sure we’ll go ‘whoa’
For their deaths will not make Whadi cry in woe

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A comeuppance

“And so we find the defendant not guilty for lack of proof tying him directly to the sabotaged potion. Case dismissed”

Samir barely heard the hammer hitting the gavel, nor did he dare look up at Theofyr, who was surely smiling arrogantly in his direction.

Goldentongue rarely felt frustrated or angry, for he often chose the nonchalance route when life kicked him in the sack. But this time, he couldn’t contain the darkness slowly building up inside his heart. How Theofyr could get away with sabotaging potions provided by the Academy to the Mewling Quims, he raged, slowly getting up and walking aimlessly outside the Academy’s courtroom.

- Hey Samir, Nasah quipped, locking step with his moody friend. Things could’ve been a lot worse if Rhea drank the potion during combat. Even if Theofyr got away with it, we should consider ourselves lucky that none of us died from his hatred of you.

- I know, Naz, Samir replied, ignoring the gentle barb from his friend. But that sack-less turd won, and I can’t—I won’t allow that! Thanks a bunch for returning me to normal though. I’ve been a sexy, irresistible woman for a long time, and I’ve had my fill for quite a while with this trick.

- Oh, it’s nothing. Glad I could help.

- The offer’s still on the table, you know. When I activate the ring, I don’t feel any pain, so you can study the undead without actually opening up a real undead, which would solve at the very least part of your moral leanings, whatever they are.

- Yes I know, Samir, and I will take you up on the offer should I have time for it, surely.

Nasah didn’t mention his reluctance was more about the thought of dissecting an always-talking & joking Samir, making quips about his anatomy and being the general pain in the rump all throughout an otherwise interesting exercise.

Samir soon left his friend for his quarters, still seething. Once in his room, sleep was long in claiming him, for he was restless, wracking his brain for a plan to extract vengeance on his eternal foe.

 

**

 

The next morning, as Samir was absent-mindedly putting on his scholar robes with the help of a Mage Hand cantrip, Samir’s thought were back at the Family crypt he was recently in, the one with the blue tiles. As he was thinking of ways that he could have avoided being struck by the tiles and able to grab the magic coin underneath the trap, he came upon a realization that shook him to his very core.

Aside from a reluctant mage, he was also a charming rogue, proficient with his hands. In fact, most of his pranks relied on his deft hands when nobody was looking.

- What if…

Samir started running toward the library, an idea slowly forming into his head.

 

**

 

- There it is! Samir squeaked in delight, stabbing an old tome with his finger, giggling. ‘Ranged Legerdemain’ it is called! A trick used by mischievous tricksters in the past! I’ve found my way to get back at Theofyr!

Samir ignored the angry looks cast his way, accompanied with multiple shush sound from surrounding students and ran off the library, singing a bawdy tavern song along the way.

 

**

 

-Nasah! Samir roared, barging in Nasah’s classroom, interrupting the teacher. Come! Quick!

- Young man! The teacher intoned, How dare you interrupt my class with—

- How dare I? Well, just like I did, dear teacher! Now Nasah! Come with me? Bah!

Seeing his comrade’s horrified look, he relented.

- Ok, I’ll see you after class then… but hurry!

And with that, Samir turned tail, leaving a flustered teacher blubbering at the empty air.

 

**

 

- Alright. So it’s a deal then? Samir asked, his trademark grin back, to the despair of all.

Nasah sighed.

- Ok, fine. But I do not want to know what you will be doing wearing the body of Theofyr tonight.

- Deal! Samir laughed, activating his cursed ring.

 

**

 

- Silence! Theofyr intoned to the class bravely.

He’d finally concocted a potion able to change the tone of his voice somewhat (albeit if taken daily) and was back to his old, arrogant ways.

- The brewing you are about to witness is something that has not been attempted in the past three thousand years, the half-man droned on, wallowing in his self-importance. Now, Kohila, he pointed toward a nervous assistant, you were present in this room the whole night to guard my ingredients from low-born rascals, yes?

- Y-yess, Lord Theofyr. N-nobody who wasn’t allowed to came in this room last night, she repeated (as requested the night before by her master himself, who kept talking to her while always looking over her shoulder inside his lab, grinning), confused.

Theofyr nodded slowly, satisfied.

- Let us begin then. The first ingredient is a Goblin Mummy’s toe, to be burned over an open flame within the cauldron, so as to catch the resulting ashes. See the movement of my wrist? Gentle clockwork movements with pauses every eight breaths only! Pay attention, now, you sniveling worms! The ashes will not be as potent without this technique! It took me three years of research to locate this technique for this particular potion, so the least you could do is be appreciative of my effort by listening intently, you hear? He roared, finding pleasure at the nervous looks cast his way.

The class continued this way for a while, Theofyr arrogantly explaining each steps that slowly brought him to the final ingredient, a potion he had concocted himself the previous week, so as not to share the whole recipe to the low-born crowd watching him.

- And now for the final ingredient, a secret one. What? Do you honestly believe that I would’ve shared the results of years of research with the likes of you, he sneered. Consider yourselves lucky that you have learned ancient potion brewing techniques not seen for three millennia!

Despite the assurance from his worthless assistant, Theofyr still felt apprehension while pouring the last drop into the cauldron. Samir was never late in his retributions towards his multiple attempts at killing him. And this time he had nearly succeeded in killing the whole group of his friends. He shook his head, sadly. Perhaps next time he’ll have another go at providing these pathetic arcanists with their just deserts.

No explosion. Theofyr sighed in relief despite himself. If an occasion to get back at him was ever a proper time, now would have been it, after all.

- And now, he intoned, you will witness a transformation when I drink this potion. If my theory is correct, and it is most assuredly so, I should be able to have a dragon’s firebreath at my disposal at the very least once every moon cycle, and that, for as long as I live! He screamed, triumphant, feeling an unfamiliar warmth building up in his gut.

- Let us reduce this mannequin to ashes, he said theatrically.

He advanced slowly towards the wooden dummy, beaming with pride and looking at the class, the warmth getting hotter and hotter within him. Something stopped him in his tracks though: leaning on the door, arms crossed and grinning mischievously, a mirror image of himself was looking back at him, expectant.

- What is this, he screamed, turning towards his double. How is it poss… YOU! he pointed, accusatory. What have you d—

That was the moment the dragon’s breath came out of Theofyr, uncontrolled, and coming from the wrong orifice no less!

The last thing Theofyr saw as he was frantically trying to remove his burning pants, was a knowing smile from his double, just before he disappeared outside his classroom. Then he passed out from the pain.

 

**

 

- Come in, Draktooth calmly said, at the door.

- Hey! Master Dee! You wanted to see me? Samir asked by way of introduction.

Draktooth, sighed, smiling inwardly.

- Yes I did, young Samir. There is a trial coming up against you for the incident that happened in Theofyr’s class. The poor lad cannot stop farting jets of flames from his arsehole and, given the ancient roots of the potion, I’m afraid a solution is far from being found soon.

- I fail to see how the court will find me guilty, Master. You know, the whole lack of proof directly tying me to this and the fact that I didn’t do anything, of course.

- Of course you were not involved, Student. However, Theofyr, for all of his flaws, do have a clique of supporters whose backgrounds surprisingly involve nobility, you know. In fact, one of his lackey’s familiar happened to be ‘lost’ in the laboratory when Nasah performed a spell on you, which turned you into a replica of our dear friend. Now, the court will have no choice but to perform the same spell on you and your ring, to see if the mechanics work. My guess is that it will work nicely, yes?

- What ring, Samir asked innocently.

Draktooth raised an eyebrow.

- Ok, ok, fine! I’ll take the blame and face the music for that that lava-shitting prick’s current situation, Samir mumbled.

- You risk being found guilty of attempted murder on this one, lad. The penalty of which is death.

Samir didn’t answer, shuffling his feet.

Draktooth sighed.

- I’ve been following you and I know of your future plans of opening a house of secret-trading in the guise of a bordello or a tavern. In fact, this might help me a lot in the long run, so I’m inclined to help – nay – to invest in you for this. Give me the ring.

Reluctantly, Samir provided his prized treasure.

Draktooth snatched the ring from Samir’s hand and swept up to the middle of his study, where some form of clawed hand sat in the middle of an intricate table covered by a finely crafted red velvet tablecloth.

The Master of Illusions dropped the ring in the hand’s palm and quickly stepped back before it closed around the ring. The clawed hand started to vibrate softly, red light coming out of the numerous cracks of its desiccated skin. Suddenly, a globe of darkness appeared above the hand, about three feet in diameter and in which strange runes floated within, lazily moving around in strange, chaotic patterns. Draktooth brought forth a potion from his person and quickly drank it. He then proceeded to grab a pair of spectacles framed in what Samir thought was weird green bones engraved with words from an unknown language. Taking a deep breath, steeling himself, Draktooth then took the pair of golden tongues lying beside the hand, scanned the runes and when he located what he was after, grabbed the wanted rune and dragged it out of the globe, not without tremendous effort. Once outside its confines, the rune started to vibrate violently, but Samir’s master quickly brought it to the ring on his left finger, making the rune disappear inside it. Sighing in relief, Draktooth slumped down on a nearby chair, exhausted.

- You can now take back your ring, young one. The hand is satiated, so you are safe. I’ve removed the part that allowed you to abuse this ring so freely, so when the prosecution will try to test your ring, it will fail and your innocence, or rather, the lack of proof directly linking you to Theofyr’s predicament, will become a reality. You owe me one hell of a favor for this, child.

- Yeah, I get that a lot lately, but I believe that this neat arcane exploit, which you’ve infused into your own ring, should be fair payment, yes, Samir said, smiling and wiggling his eyebrows knowingly.

Draktooth barked out a laugh.

- I suppose it is, ha!

- Master? How will I achieve what I set out to do which you seem to approve of now that I cannot change ma appearance at will?

- Oh? The Academy has items that can arrange that, Student. Oh, it is far from being as potent as what you had, but I believe you could manage with this quite well.

- Really, Samir excitedly squeaked. Well, that’s great! I’ll go to the Academy’s Depot right away, with your permission, of course. Oh, and I would also like to save from gold by visiting our party’s friend in Whadi, a poor sod who’s enamored with Rhea. His armors have a quarter of its original pricing cut for us, and I would like to own a Mithral Chain Shirt for my next mission. I’m kinda tired of being stabbed all the time…

- You have my blessing for this, but do not loiter in the city for too long, young trickster.

- You got it, boss! Samir said, already at his Master’s doors.

 

**

 

Mistress Septi, a young acolyte said, slowly entering the High Priestess’ quarters. Septi, exhausted from the past weeks’ events, sighed, resigned.

- What is it, Vognu?

- A member of the heroes of Whadi is here, Blessed. One of Hasdrubal’s Mewling Quims that the bards keep singing about. The shy one, Eydan if my memory serves. He was not present during their trials against the leader of the blessed warriors, but our agents confirms his status as one of their members. He said that the Academy is sending him somewhere far on a secret mission of some sort and that he would like to know that should any rewards would have to be bestowed upon his party, that he could have his share right now, so as to have further funds to help him on his next journey for the Academy.

- Yes indeed, a voice boomed from Septi’s entrance.

Eydan simply stood there, smiling.

Where have I seen that smile before, Septi thought, rising as she acknowledged Eydan’s presence with a bow. Wasn’t he the shy one of the group? Eydan simply kept smiling and winked at her with a silly blue hat on sitting his head.

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The Origin of Ananrath

Ananranth

Legend has it that, a long time ago, in the time before man, when gods and demons still fought over nascent Lyria, Ba’al Damun called two of his children to him, the twins Ananth, fierce and loyal warrior, and Ananrath, cultured and graceful dancer, and lo he spoke unto them:
- Children, I have struck a bargain with the legions of the Abyss. They will give us peace in exchange for Ananth.
- Thy will be done, said the Ananth.
But Ananrath dearly loved her brother and so she questioned her holy father:
- How will we defend ourselves with Ananth gone?
- Worry not, daughter.
- How can we trust the demons, are they not lies incarnate?
- Worry not, daughter.
- Why…
- Daughter, have you ever known me to strike a rotten deal? Negociation is my domain and I have seen the end of this thread. We will emerge stronger.
Heartbroken and crestfallen, Ananrath cried continuously for months, creating the inlet that would someday give rise to Sekunta. She composed soft dirges and created heart-rending ballets until that fateful day.

The demon host, larger than any Ba’al Damun and his children had ever faced and led by the demon lord Fraz Urb’luu, came to the court of Ba’al Damun for the trade and as Ananth made his way towards his captors, his father stopped him: “The agreement was for your person, leave your weapons behind.” Ananth bowed, layed his sword and axe on the ground and went on his way. Fraz Urb’luu then spoke:
- Damun, what use is a warrior without his weapons?
- You tell me demon, for that was the deal you struck. Forge him new weapons.
- He cannot wield our iron. It is anathema to your kind.
- That is unfortunate, Damun smiled.
- Well in that case he is of no use to us.
At that, Fraz Urb’luu turned to his host and, with a toothy smile, signaled them. The creatures fell upon Ananth as lions on a wounded gazelle. They tore him limb from limb and made his final agony a spectacle for Ba’al Damun and his daughter. Ananrath let out a great sob for her fallen brother, but when Azaël came to claim him all emotion had drained out of her and, as the demon lord mockingly bowed to Ba’al Damun, she picked up her brother’s axes and wove a murderous dance through the demon horde. She was quick and silent, as if her sould had left her and all that remained was an avatar of massacre. When only Fraz Urb’luu stood, Damun raised his hand, stopping his daughter. He looked at the demon lord with a bittersweet smile still on his face:
- Go, Lord of Lies, and tell your people. We cannot be cheated. We emerge from every deal stronger.

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Don't Taze Me Bro!
Death comes for us all

The fireball spell had worked out nicely, so Rhea thought a perusal of the evokers’ spell library was in order before her next assignment. As she worked she became keenly aware that something was off. It was widely known that evokers were the jocks of the magical community and their library tended to reflect that, barely containing its practitionners’ bro-ish attitude. Today however, everything was quiet.

Rhea looked around and realized those evokers she knew were actively avoiding her gaze. Curious, she approached a pair of apprentices for whom she had TAed and tried to probe them for information, but they weren’t having it. No matter, she had the tools at her disposition to get to the bottom of this. She bade them farewell and returned to the stacks. Once out of sight, she activated her clairaudience:
-… told her?
- I don’t know. It’s not like it’s a secret.
- I guess, and what could she do anyway? It’s not like Master Skarlag wasn’t within his rights.
- Still, you would think that by that time you’d be safe. How’d it happen anyway.
- Oh, you know Eydan was given a bunch of extra teaching assistant duty, right? Well, the master had been using him to show students how to channel incoming energy back into their spells and it seems like he overestimated Eydan’s ability to absorb electricity.
- Ouch.
- Yeah. The worst part was that some of the students wanted to go get a healer and Skarlag told them they shouldn’t waste their time and instead they should focus on learning from Eydan’s mistakes if they didn’t want to share his fate.
- Will there be a funeral or something?
- I don’t think so, when the class was over, Skarlag just teleported away with the body.
- Fuck bro, that’s harsh.
- I know…

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Samira's Adventure Log - A Conclusion to Whadi's Curse

Well, I finally found a door and used my port key to go into the Academy, rushing to get aid for my blindness and returning to deal into the fray, for surely the scribes will face an untimely death at the head (nudge-nudge… get it? Ha!) of that shrieking harpy, especially since soon after making my exit, I got bumped on the shoulder by an equally frantic (and equally blind) Hasdrubal, cursing this granny head and vowing to find a way never to be robbed of his senses again, whatever that means…
Anyway, I quickly hear the voice of the Teleporter Guy, Colm Meany or something like it, who wants to make a deal in exchange for getting back my sight. Since blindly walking the halls of the Academy in search of my Master didn’t seem like the fastest way to come back to help the scribes, I readily agreed.

**

So I need to get something called a Delithium Matrix, which is found in Rusk. Oh, it it’s controlled by their military no less and it’s used to power their mechs. Well, this is going to be easy…
At least, he said there was “no rush” to it. No rush it will be then! teehee.

**

So it turns out that the remaining scribes kicked some ass in our absence and won the fight! Nasah took control of one of the skeletal warrior and ended up threatening Grumpy Granny with death if she didn’t shut the hell up, which she did. A day of Miracles!
So Rhea met with Hasdy and I and we were soon teleported in the city proper (not where were came from, which is disappointing to say the least…). So we hurried through the catacombs we explored yesterday and soon met with the victorious Nasah and Orfée, who was busy searching through the library.
Grumpy Granny, Nefereku, gave us all the information she had on her grandson, in-between insults that would make a sailor blush. I kinda like her style, when her attention is not directed at me of course.

**

We explored the other side of the corridor and came upon another library, this one containing death records of the inhabitant’s family (the other library was filled with birth records. So a life library and a death library it seems).

While snooping around I found a secret compartment with a trinket in it! Samir is getting pretty good at finding hidden things, and Samir likes it!
Orfée, for her part, takes the most recent records of both life and death for herself, surely to study them and find some hidden “compartments” of her own.

**

We arrive in a room with a blue-tiled floor and as soon as I stepped inside the room tiles began to float in mid-air, spinning. Oh, and crashing into me, of course. The blow was so hard that it threw me outside the room. And it hurt like a bitch.

**

Well, the tiles are spent, so I guess we’re good to go!

**

We arrive in a room with a giant statue of Anubis in the middle, and what turned out to be a Crypt Thing hiding behind it. The whole party was separated by its ability to teleport enemies randomly.
Luck was on my side on this one, as I got moved inside a dormitory with my trusty friend, Hasdy. Hearing the sound of battle nearby, we quickly made our way back into the fray. This battle was a hard one and we barely made it. Nasah and I nearly died, but were brought back to life by our Repeat Life–Saver, Orfée.

**

So we’re in front of these huge doors and we can hear some kind of ritual going on inside. My guess is the person responsible for this death pulse is within. So for the first time ever, the Mewling Quims PREPARE for battle BEFORE charging head-first into trouble! See!? We’re Learnin’ stuff!

**

Rhea decided to take a potion of recollection the Academy gifted, which turns out to be poisoned! She instantly fell asleep. Imagine what would’ve happened if she drank it during a battle. All the group is perplexed at this event, but I know who is behind this treachery. -Newman- Theofyr! When I get back to the Academy, I will see that he gets his just desert… Oh you’ll see. YOU’LL SEE!!
For my part, I drink a potion of Spider Climbing and I used a recently-acquired wand of invisibility as my strategy. As soon as the door open I charge inside and start climbing to the ceiling While Rhea throws a fireball into the little army of zombies that the grandson (who’s flying, by the way, making Hasdrubal’s attack rather complicated to achieve) summons to his aid.
And the battle is ON!

**

We managed to win the fight! We did it! We even captured that bastard (an Academy Renegade, no less!) that was a- flying out of reach of Hasdy most of the time, b- had a stone skin spell on himself and c- kept using his rod of energy-draining on us, since he was unable to cast spells on our band because I kept wrapping him in darkness.

**

So we’re back at the Academy and we are issued spending money. AGAIN! Ooooohh yeah!

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Guilty Pleasures...

While perhaps the most academically-inclined school heads, Althea knew full well that her post carried some political role to it. She did not particularly enjoyed this aspect but she knew how to play the game. As such, she would sometime hosts cocktail parties, dreary affairs where she and her colleague would network or discuss administrative concerns. Some of her students would act as the waiting staff for these events. Perhaps counter-intuitively, such assignments were intended as reward for meritorious neophyte mages. A chance to rub elbows with the movers and shakers of the academy, to see who’s who from up close.

Eventually the guests would start to bid their farewell and their number would dwindle until Althea and her three best friends, Marjan, Aikio and Iriyani, remained. At this point, a handful of group of scantly clad male student would pose for their benefit while they discussed matters of a more personal nature.

Tonight was one of such parties, it was getting late and the remaining waiting staff was down to the three would be models for what followed. While many would consider this to be degrading, for Hasdrubal it was just an occasion to display the fruits of his labour. After all the bodybuilder is both artist and canvas… A living work of art.

Yes, it was all good fun… With one catch, Hasdrubal had seen how scathing the women could be to a model who would not live up to their standard…

Turok entered the kitchen and gave an Hasdrubal a nod. The orc was gigantic, a towering figure standing almost a feet over Hasdrubal, a tall man himself. But Turok was something else… possibly the strongest man under the academy’s roof.

Turok’s eye turned to the androgynous looking elf quietly undressing at the other side of the room, he quickly sized him up and scoffed.

«Who’s the new guy?» inquired Turok.

Hasdrubal, already stripped to a loin cloth, poured olive oil in his hand and started rubbing his arm and chest. He handed the pitcher to the orc.

«That’s Kyras. He’s alright.»


«Tell me why you are here, Hasdrubal.»

Althea did not turn while addressing him. She continued transcribing scroll his back to him while Hasdrubal stood at the entrance of her study.

«We encountered a trio of…»

Althea cut him off: «I’ve read your written briefing. Tell me why you are here.»

Her intonation was not accusative, but matter-of-facty.

Hasdrubal audibly sighted.

«I thought my companions would not be able to overcome the foes without my assistance. I assumed retreat was inevitable to cure the blindness the creature had afflicted upon me. I’ve lost my nerve.»

«What could you have done?»

«I could have casted an obscuring mist. Hinder the skeleton visibility to even the playing field, protect myself and my companion from the creature’s gaze.»

«What have you learned?»

«With no means to cure blindness or deafness at our disposal we are particularly vulnerable to curses affecting our ability to see or hear. However, a transmuter should not bound by what is.»

«What will you do?»

«I am working on a spell, one that will enhance the senses of the caster to the point he would not be hindered by the loss of one of his senses.»

«Good. There is nothing else to discuss. Dismiss.»

«Yes, Mistress.»


«Kyras, come over.» Hasdrubal intoned.

Kyras having finished changing, complied. His eyes betrayed a certain apprehension.

In a different context the elf’s delicate figure would have attracted the desirous glance of a many womanfolk but stripped of his courtier clothes, it contrasted unfavorably to the husky builds of Turok and Hasdrubal. This realization had not escaped Kyras.

«Yes?»

Hasdrubal picked up a few reagent from his spell component pouch lying on the ground.

«Hold still.»

Hasdrubal concentrated and touched Kyras shoulder. «Fus Ro Dah!»

Kyras immediately started bulking up under the effect of the spell. He assessed his new-found strength by flexing his right arm. Kyras smiled and his eyes flared with a new confidence.

He wouldn’t look pathetic, Hasdrubal thought to himself, but he would still look out of place…

Hasdrubal looked around saw on the counter a glass sphere serving as a plateau ornament. Hasdrubal pulled the small sphere from its tripod and handed it to Kyras.

«Take this. When you’re posing, alternate between contemplative and intense and imperious. You’ll do just fine.»

Kyras smiled and nodded to Hasdrubal before retreating to his corner to practice.

«Why did you help him?» asked Turok

«I seem to remember you giving me pointers when I started too, Turok.»

«Ha! And now I have to contend with you upstarts stealing my thunder. Serves me right.» quipped Turok before letting out a loud laugh.

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