Vita est ludus
The thin line between fantasy and reality...













The City of the Spider Queen - Day 9 - Across the Lake of Shadows

Uktar 6, 1372 DR (10:30 AM) Deep Wastes: Lake of Shadows

"Anything else to do here? Let's cross the lake! I bet it's safe, now," says Veracity.

Kress clears his throat. "I am really beat up. Brianna, will you cure me, please?"

Brianna looks at him appraisingly. "So, just how are we planning on crossing the lake? I had thought that I'd cast phantom steeds for Tebryn, Veracity, and myself, and you others would fly - but if I use my big cures for you, I can't make the steeds."

"Then, perhaps we should wait until tomorrow to cross," says Kress.

"I'd rather we moved on today," says Veracity. "Perhaps Brianna could use her less powerful cures, but more of them? And perhaps we could take the folding boat, although that'll be a lot slower - and a lot more work - than speeding along on Brianna's horses."

"Let's take the boat," says Tebryn. "The steeds are a lot faster than the fliers - and what if the fliers run out of flying before we've gone the full distance?" He smirks at Hazen. "We'd miss you, were you to fall into the lake while we were far ahead. How long can you tread water?"

"I don't want to fall into the water," says Hazen. "And I don't want you phantom riders to be way ahead of us. Let's all go in the boat!"

"Very well," says Brianna. "But I think I'll still use my lighter cure spells, and keep the option of casting more powerful spells." She sings seven short tunes in quick succession, touching Kress after each one, and cures almost all of his wounds.

Kress beams at the bard. "Thank you!"

"You are welcome," says Brianna. "Are we ready to go now?"

"Hang on," says Veracity. "I'm still wondering about what this temple was about. That fiendish kuo-toan lived here, and the kraken seemed to be involved - but just who was worshiped? Let me get the big priestess's holy symbol." She goes into the temple and emerges a couple of minutes later, holding a brooch in the form of a blue-green wave, curling left and right. She looks at it and frowns. "I don't recognize this. It does not look like what I remember of Blipdoolpoolp."

"Let me see," says Yol, stretching out her hand. She studies the symbol for a while and nods. "Ah, yes. Not a goddess of death, as such, but a deity certainly familiar with it. This is the symbol of Umberlee, the 'Bitch Queen', the Faerûnian goddess of the sea. She is completely capricious and likes to watch people drown - or be eaten by horrible sea monsters." She looks up. "Like the kraken, perhaps?"

Veracity nods. "I imagine you are right." She retrieves the holy symbol and stashes it away. "I'm getting quite a collection here. Kiaransalee, Umberlee ... what other priestesses will oppose me?"

"I think you looked for opposition from the last batch," comments Igor sourly. "Shall we set out and seek more opposition?"

Tebryn hides a smile and moves to the shore. He pulls out the wooden box and sets it in the water. Upon uttering the command word, "Maraniath", the box transforms into a small ship, with five sets of oars, a steering oar in the back, and a square-rigged sail.

"Anyone know how to sail a boat?" asks Tebryn. "Although, there doesn't seem to be any breeze."

"Just say the word to make it go, Tebryn!" says Hazen, hopping into the ship.

"It doesn't work that way," says Tebryn. "Unless we can magically create a wind, we'll need to row."

Everybody climbs into the boat. Igor and Kress settle down at the front two rowing stations and look expectantly at the others.

"Well?" says Kress, looking at Hazen.

"Hey, how about if you strong guys do the rowing, and I'll do the thinking!" says Hazen.

Brianna smiles. "I'd not make a good rower, but I'll be more than happy to sing and play for the rowers."

Igor looks at her and nods. "Sure. I'll be happy to row if you sing." He then looks at Veracity. "And, if you won't be rowing, why don't you dance?"

Veracity stares at him. "You want me to dance for you while Brianna sings?"

Igor smiles and nods. Veracity opens her mouth and starts to say something, but is interrupted by Brianna, who is looking at her slyly. "I'd like that, Veracity. How about it?"

Veracity is completely nonplussed. "But, uh, I, um."

"And you can rub my feet, too," says Igor.

Veracity wrinkles her nose. "Ewww!" She turns to Hazen. "Well, since we have five sets of oars, I am sure that friend Hazen will be glad to join me and my brother at rowing. Yol can steer, and Brianna can sing. Right?" She glares at Hazen, and grabs his arm, pulling him relentlessly towards a rowing seat.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, Veracity," says Hazen. "Let go!" He rubs his arm. "Ouch! I'd say 'get a grip', but you clearly already have one! Well, I may as well use one of my Duergar magic spells and make this a little easier." He visibly grows before everybody's eyes and sits down at a pair of oars.

Tebryn smiles at his sister and flexes his fingers. "Why not? We are the strongest five in the party. Let's go!" He and Veracity take the last two seats, and the boat pushes off from shore, with Igor, Kress, Veracity, Hazen, and Tebryn rowing, Yol steering, and Brianna singing, as agreed.

For the next eight and three quarter hours, the warriors and rogues row. Occasionally, if the boat slows in the water, when Igor looks back to find Hazen slacking off, he comments "I sure hope there isn't another kraken," and the gray dwarf bends into his oars with renewed vigor.

(7:15 PM)

Hugging the shore, the intrepid band sees many small openings. Finally, almost nine hours later, they spy a large opening with an obvious path leading away into the dark.

"This is probably it," says Tebryn. "The map says 17 miles, and this seems about far enough. Let's land!"

The rowers beach the craft and all hop out. "Tûmberrin!" says Tebryn, and the ship folds up into a small box, which Tebryn stows.

"Oh, just in time," complains Hazen. "I haven't worked that hard since yesterday, at least. But, it's just another day in the life of Hazen!"

Kress laughs. "You haven't worked that hard in this life, Hazen. But, it was a good day of labor. Let's find a good place to camp. Eat, talk, sleep."

The party easily finds a cavern to one side of the path, near the path. After eating a hearty meal, the various party members set up their bedrolls and, after talking and planning, turn in. As on the first leg of the journey, Hazen and Kress take the first watch, Veracity and Brianna the second, and Igor, Yol, and Tebryn the third.

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Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com> Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.
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