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Archive for the tag “Gate of the Grey Pentacle”

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

15 Pardán 2371

Near dawn a red-sailed cutter crossed our bow, and the Mu’ugalavyáni sailors told us to heave to. After they boarded they asked if we were carrying Livyáni agents or contraband. When they saw our Shén, the Mu’ugalavyáni checked them carefully. Mu’ugalavyá was having problems with Shényu and the told us that our Shén will be interred when we reached Tsámra. We had heard rumours in Foshaá that a new Mu’ugalavyá was being built on the southern continent and that Linyaró was impressing Shén to work as road labourers. The Mu’ugalavyáni put two of their sailors on board to “help” us navigate into Tsámra. We could see the mountains that are north of Kápranoi Bay. The little Mu’ugalavyáni ship left to the south.

Later Mridék called a meeting. I attended along with one of the Shén, Chatán, and Vakúlaz. The commander believed that the invisible being was the Naqsái girl that we assumed had jumped off the ship. Our plan was first to enlist the help of Moróch, the Naqsái man to see if he could help flush out the girl. Marines were sent to bring him.

Having had little sleep for the past couple days, I went to my cabin to get some rest. Near dinner time one of my servants woke me and told me that I was wanted by the commander. Mridék had set extra guards on the food stores on the chance that invisible creatures might need food. One of the guards heard a disturbance in the chamber with the water casks. He found Moróch tied up and nearly drowned. Moróch said that he’d been struck and carried down there. After he’d recovered for a bit he told us that Tikhá was a powerful sorceress in his land. He knew that the murders were not done by Tikhá, but by her evil shade. In life she was a follower of the goddess, and while her goddess would have more power in their land, he still didn’t know how to stop her. Moróch believed that the evil shade possessed Tikhá’s body when they were captured and escaped on the dinghy. The transformation took place slowly and she was still new to this state of being. This could be to our advantage. Unfortunately she might soon be done with murdering our crew and may try to take over a new body. I wondered if she wasn’t murdering to kill, but was just unsuccessful at incorporating herself into a new body. Moróch had no idea how we could stop her. Mridék sent one of the Shén down to guard Davé. It was going to be another long night.

I went up on deck to see if the captain needed some help. One of the Mu’ugalavyáni was in the mood to proposition me. Even if our countries were on friendly terms, I would have still rebuffed the ugly thing. I could not wait to be rid of them. As I turned away there was a loud splintering crash. One of the Shén had buried his axe in the boards of the deck.  He said that he saw a “rippely” thing and took a chop at it. He said that the rippely thing went over the side. Chatán looked where the Shén pointed, but saw nothing. As the Shén started to leave, he yelled. He swore that he’d just seen Arogái in the companionway and then Arogái dissolved. Just then the Shén and Chatán both saw the rippely thing; it looked almost like a disturbance in the air, or like looking through a clear, shallow stream. There was no time to consider what we saw because explosions were coming from the cabin below. Chatán and I both ran down. The atmosphere was cloying with magical energy. I readied myself for the Gate of the Grey Pentacle. When we reached Davé’s cabin the Shén guarding the door would not let us in under any circumstances. Chatán had to run and fetch the commander, the only person the stubborn Shén would listen to. Once Mridék arrived, the door was opened. Inside the room was a tall grey cylinder and scorch marks on the wall. I attempted an elicitation spell, but couldn’t concentrate in the confusion. Suddenly the cylinder opened and Davé stepped out. He told us that something crawled through the window. Tékuna examined the window and found a slick, dry membrane on the wall just below it. He pried the substance loose and we took it to Moróch, since none of us could identify it. Moróch said that it was a piece of the body of the servant of the goddess. He said that it was useless and that she will have mutated. Tikhá could take whatever form she wishes to imitate now. I asked Saíb if she would be able to tell if a person was true or a semblance made by this demoness. Before she could answer we heard screams from Davé’s cabin. We ran to find a Shén fighting with a gooey sleeping mat. He bashed it into the wall, but it rebounded and attempted to wrap itself around the Shén. Chatán grabbed a lamp from its holder and threw it at the gooey mass. I pulled myself together, reached out to the power available in the planes beyond while making the gestures I’d practiced day and night. For a moment my senses were overwhelmed by roiling pearly grey mists. When I could focus my vision on this plane again, the room was normal. The fire was out, the entity was gone and so was the Shén. I asked Saíb if I was successful. I was. The thing was gone.

Journey to the Naqsái Lands

14 Pardán 2371

The past two days were uneventful. We continued down the coast with little change in the landscape. Tonight was very dark with no moons. I am glad to have the faint light of the ships lights and the coast to navigate by.

I decided to retire early and as I was arranging my blankets, I found something sharp in my mat. It was a knife fixed with the point up. I backed away without touching anything relevant and did my best to calm myself. Then I called up a spell of elicitation to see who put the knife there. In the vision, I saw the knife float into place by itself. I recalled the story of the invisible stowaway and in my mind I apologised for any malformed thoughts I had regarding our commander, and hurried to his cabin.

I asked him to come and see what I had found and explained the story to him. We questioned my servants. They had not seen anyone come or go from the cabin. No one we asked could identify the knife. Fromm that point on I decided to keep one of my servants with me at all times.

I went back to my room and fixed my mat as well as I could and was nearly asleep when I heard a scream. I raced out to find that Arogái had been bitten by a “crunchie”. The Shén had bought a barrel of crustaceans that they ate as snacks. Apparently one of the crunchies chewed its way out of the barrel and now the things were loose on the ship. I performed a heal spell on Arogái. Afterwards I was too agitated to sleep, so I calmed myself by watching the glowing green phosphorescent sea for a while. Eventually I returned to my sleeping mat.

It felt like I was barely asleep when Chatán, the first mate came to fetch me. Another body, or part of one, was found. The story was rushed and unclear as we headed for the deck. Still no moons, so I created a small light spell. There was an obvious attempt to wash away a quantity of blood off the deck. An elicitation spell revealed only that the cabin boy had been there. After a search, he was nowhere to be found, and was most likely to be the source of all the blood. The whole time we were at this we were annoyed by the little crabs with which the Shén had cursed our ship.

A call went up saying that something was pacing our ship off the port. We could all easily see the phosphorescent wake, but nothing that created it. Chatán got out his longbow. As he was about to fire, one of the accursed crabs bit him and he lost the shot. Zagár managed to stomp the thing. The missing cabin boy was forgotten in the excitement as the crew now concentrated on the phosphorescent trail. One sailor speculated that it was a Tsó gú, the swimming undead. If one got aboard it would attack and suck out the brains of its victims. Other crew members thought that it was another form of sea life, or maybe the ghosts of sailors. Tékuna was summoned and asked if he could identify it. He’d never seen this before, but one of his servants said it might be a vé fish.

Mridék and I decided to talk to the Shén. One of them confessed that they had found a part of a torso or a leg. At that point our commander lost his temper, something I never thought I would see. The shouting match centred on the previous promise not to eat any crew members and it was uncertain as to whether a cabin boy constituted a true crew member. The argument continued until the commander extracted a promise from the Shén that they would not eat anyone, or part of anyone, without getting prior permission from the commander. The Shén swore that they did not kill the cabin boy, but only found a couple parts. I dreaded that tomorrow morning we would be greeted by more stench coming from the canvas shanty that they have rigged up on the forecastle.

While all that was happening Chatán had been trying to get another shot off at whatever it was off the port side. Now that Mridék was done with the Shén, he tried to get Chatán to stop. Some confusion ensued and Chatán was struck. By whom, it’s uncertain, but I was left to heal the first mate’s head while the commander went below to meditate on the situation.

After a while the commander returned with a woman I hadn’t seen before. There were rumours that he had his own private companion, but I assumed they were only rumours since no one had seen her.

She immediately pointed at Chatán and yelled that the invisible being was behind him. Chatán slashed and lunged, but it was too quick for him. Something grabbed his wrist and whipped him overboard. Poor Chatán managed to grab the rudder and climb up the ropes that the sailors threw down to him.

I felt I knew what needed to be done and told Mridék that I was going below to get supplies. In my cabin, I pulled out my old notes from when I was a student. I’d practised the spell of the Gate of the Grey Pentacle, but never actually used the spell. At temple school we carefully prepared and warded the rooms to practise the creation and casting of spells. There we had all the proper supplies, plenty of time, and a calm atmosphere to prepare our minds and effectively cast the spells. I was a competent student then, but I never thought I’d have to duplicate my efforts on a rocking ship surrounded by panicking sailors and an invisible target.

I pulled out another box and began to choose bottles of powders, inks, and chalks. A piece of grey chalk flew out of my hand! I retrieved it and bundled up the supplies, and then hurried to the commander’s cabin. Neither he nor his companion was there. I found them up on the deck and we quickly put together a plan. I would ready the spell while Mridék’s companion, Saíb would walk alongside me until she could point out the creature. As we began to search the deck we heard a moan from the crow’s nest. One of the marines went up and found Arogái. He had been badly injured. A couple more sailors went up with ropes and lowered him down while the Keténgku priest was summoned. Arogái said that he had been struck by something unseen and that he managed to hit it. Even though he couldn’t see it, he felt his fist connect. Davé did his best to cast a healing spell, but was unsuccessful. Arogái, our senior navigator died on the deck.

Tékuna said that he had the means to preserve Arogái’s body until we reached Tsámra, a few days from now. He and the sailors carried the body below. I thought about how I would miss Arogái. Although we shared a cabin, we didn’t see much of each other since I often took the night watch, learning to navigate by the moons and planets, while he worked during the day. Most of our time together was spent at our dawn meetings with Vakúlaz, learning as much as we could about the waters we were sailing and the lands toward which we were headed. Arogái always had a quick wit and a bright smile. He was clever without being mean and had a generous soul. I prayed that he had an easy voyage to the Isles of Taratané.

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