The Shattered Sea

Unfriendly welcome

Forest ogre by guzboroda d4mj5xjKeller tried to steady the airship in the field while Ayelin headed off to tie her down, with Ferris on her back for cover. She tied off four ropes before returning to the ship. When they had made it back about half way, a rope snapped and the ship lurched forward. They saw a couple of dark figures lurking beyond the tree-line in the storm. Keller cast Daylight to brighten the clearing, and Quill sent a lightning bolt into the woods striking two huge ogres. Ayelin dropped to the ground, and Ferris fired bolts into the rolling beasts.

Looking around, Ayelin spotted several other figures in the trees and moved toward them. A floating shimmered into existence and cut another rope, but no hand seemed to guide it. Keller saw that it was a spiritual weapon and counter spelled it. One of the electrified ogres turned and charged at Ferris, bringing his gigantic club down on him. Norrick leaped from the deck and struck deep into the creature.

Seeing others in the shadows, Quill dropped a fireball into the trees, setting a couple alight. Ayelin and Alaric’s eidolon charged into the brush to face an immense ogre in chain mail. Before they could strike, Keller engulfed it in a pillar of holy fire. Weakened by the strike, the two quickly brought the shaman down.

Ferris and Norrick dispatched the remainder and soon only the storm could be heard in the clearing. The rooted through the bodies, finding trophies that had been gathered from locations across the former academy. And a large wooden chest that seemed to hold a consistent chill. Re-storing their ale in the case, they prepped the ship to continue their flight.

Keller cast Sending to reach out to Haikar and Daebor. They agreed to scry Daebor as he scouted the enemy outpost in the morning. From the sky, he explained that a large platform hovered over a growing maelstrom and that the Fire Lord himself descends into the pit, returning no more than once per day. He added that the Waste has not been seen on site.

The storm blew itself out in the night, and they set out at first light. Their progress was slowed by their unfamiliarity with the ship, and Alaric used a fan token to help make up for it. When night settled, they tried to continue to make progress, moving when they could.

On the second day out, their engineering troubles continued but the weather held. They scried Daebor again, seeing a cave filled with skulls. They were introduced to the ‘elders’ and one skull even talked to them, derisively, and offered some small advice on their progress.

Sun set over the Thunderhead. The party believes they are but a couple hundred miles from Creche. They believe that the Fire Lord performs his rituals at the darkest part of the night. The moment of truth is nigh upon them.

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Any Port In A Storm

Our heroes spent the night in peace at the ziggurat of the Firstborn, discussing their options. In the end they decided to sail to the creche and try to disrupt the Fire Lord at the ‘head’ of his plane-summoning.

Keller cast divinations and learned that it was not necessary to attack the platform at the top to stop the process and several small details about the enemies’ plans.

They set sail at first light. The Thunderhead hurtled across the mainland and quickly out to sea. Throughout a day of warm rain they traveled, and chose to moor the ship at night. The next day Quill felt a storm coming. They spent the day racing before the wind, keeping low to avoid the more violent wind shifts. Keller set course for Marjestyr and by late afternoon (with the additional boost of wind fan token) were in sight of the ruined Academie.

4121741 1349405640The storm was rapidly overtaking them, so they looked to set down in a pasture. Finding a clear spot east of the village, they sent Ayelin flying over the gunwale to secure the ship about 20’ above the field. While the sky darkened around them and rain began to fall in earnest, the party spotted large figures lurking beyond the edge of the forest.

They decided that they would try and engage the hulking beasts, whom they believe they fought more than a month ago. While discussing how they would do that, we broke for the night.

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The Calm Before...

The night passed without danger while the group finally rested and separated the treasures they had gained over the last couple weeks. Morning came hot and misty, and they made their way back to the ziggurat of the Firstborn.

There they were welcomed by the survivors, who had lain the Keeper in state within the pyramid. They returned the Hart to his side, and placed the periapt on him allowing her to regenerate the wounds given by the tiefling’s unholy blade.

When she had recovered enough to speak, she thanked them for their efforts. She repeated that their time was ending, and that the future (if there was to be one) belonged to man and his kind. She helped them decipher the Waste’s papers and her plans. They determined that the tie flings were going to create a chain of ‘created’ planes to find a path back to the planes of the Baorn.

In order to empower these rituals they planned on sacrificing lives. The Waste seems to have decided that outside of the Hart, the best source of power were 1000 ‘perfect innocents’, or unmarred babies. The map on the cabin’s wall seemed to indicate that forces have been busy ‘collecting’ these innocents as a contingency.

She also determined that the Waste’s recall returned her to her chapel on DiVolo, but her ultimate destination would be back at the Fire Lord’s side at Deepwater Creche on Naranjas.

Keller cast Sendings to Haikar, Veris and Orrin Zanthus warning of the impending trouble. Orrin acknowledged the kidnapping of the children, but did not think he could get forces to Narnjas in time.

The dragon said, “So the time is now, and the catalysts converge, I should like to bear witness to this event. And hope to tell the tale afterword.”

Haikar responded, “It is bad, and its right here. A giant whirlpool fills the harbor and they perform rituals on a platform hovering above. The skies are dangerous.”

Orrin Zanthus response is, “You always could find the hot spot in a furnace. Our forces seek the abductors. Perhaps some may join you before it is too late.”

They ultimately decided to take the repaired airship to the Creche to interrupt the rituals. The Firstborn Gharial has agreed to accompany and the Hart will go as well. The Keeper said if they need her, she will come. She will also give them a diamond for the trip.

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Fire in the Hold

Gathering the wounded and fallen on the deck of the Thunderhead, our heroes did what healing they could. All but Ayelin and Greyshanks recovered and they began to search for a means to take control of the drifting airship. Soon the Ismenni Glum and the Firstborn Gharial had made it aboard the ship to assist.

Listening at a barred hatch amidships, Quill heard the thrum of machinery and some disturbing banging. He shouted greetings through the door in every language he knew (which is several), and got a threatening response in Ignan, the language of fire. The banging was growing in intensity and the group feared whatever was in the cabin might be damaging the ship, while they chanted for freedom. When our heroes pulled off the bar, three large mephitis burst out onto the deck.

Two were immediately dismissed by gems found on the fallen tiefling wizard, and the third was swiftly dropped by the combined efforts of Ferris and Quill.

Inside the ‘engine room’ they found four small furnaces with clockwork and vents going out toward the ship’s workings. There were also posted diagrams the gave insight into how the machinery functioned, although the descriptions were written in the language of demons.

1316919151 action 28 www.nevsepic.com.uaMoving throughout the ship, Norrick and Quill rooted through the cabins and bunks of the crew. In one stateroom they found a hidden rope that seemingly led nowhere. Pulling on it, Norrick was engulfed in a gout of flame but deftly rolled away. Following the rush a fiery elemental burst out of some kind of portal into the small cabin. Norrick shouted alarms and fled for ‘help’, while Quill was overrun by the magical creature. The monster chased Norrick into the open hold, where it was greeted by Ferris’ bolts and a bearded devil summoned by Alaric. It lashed and burned, but it could not stand against the combined group and was soon vanquished.

Within the fire-shrouded portal the devil returned a warded steel box that contained the tiefling fire mage’s spell book and a wand floating disk. The rest of the lower cabins contained stores and small treasures, but no great power or answers. There was, however, a heavy steel safe that contained 26 bricks of salamander’s breath.

Returning the high cabin, Norrick uncovered and disabled a Symbol of Death before anyone was harmed. Inside the sumptuous chamber they found the Waste’s belongings and several of her papers, including the matching journey book to the one the party carries. They also found a sehenstone used by the fire mages and promptly wrapped it tightly in cloth.

There was a chest hidden beneath a bench in the stern, and Keller noted it was infested with mind worms. They drenched it in brining water from the hold to kill the worms and Norrick opened the lock. Within were a great number of treasures for trade and for use in this forbidding jungle.

The papers held official orders from the Fire Lord and a personal note to the Waste that said, “We have all faith in your success my radiant star, but we will have others preparing the contingency. Perhaps the best use of these soft indigenous forms.”

Other notes were written in the spidery hand of the creature known as Kharsus Fantoul. They detail several small demiplanes and explore the idea that one could create a bridge back to their home plane by ‘hopping’ from plane to plane. The details were written in code (as well as in Abyssal) and were beyond the party’s understanding at the moment.

There was also a large armoire that radiated abjuration and necromantic magic, but they chose not to disturb it for now.

Our heroes, who had been slowly tacking back toward the ziggurat, chose to moor the airship and rest for the evening. They plan to return to draconal in the morning and to more thoroughly review the Waste’s papers after spending more time digging through the code (and learning Abyssal).

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All aboard!!

120128 s0The battle began in earnest as soon as we sat down. Fearing for the ebony fly, Ferris and Quill hurried toward the ship. Tiefling archers fired as they approached and the nuckalevee breathed its noxious fumes at them. The Waste herself cast a black-tinged flame strike at the approaching group. Quill fire-balled the deck to clear some space while Alaric’s elemental tried to sweep others into its funnel and failed. Greyshanks summoned a lemure and sent it scuttling down to the deck to join the fight.

The horse of ill omen’s breath destroyed the fly and the two hobbits found themselves in mid-air. Quill feather-falled Ferris and glided down himself. On the deck they were immediately attacked, and Quill was dropped by the sickening hooves of the nuckalevee. Keller cast an obscuring mist to cover the wounded and climbed on deck to heal them.

Two tieflings grabbed the chains that held the Hart and tried to keep it from attacking and using its transforming powers. Norrick dodged among the chaos striking where he could, and avoiding the stamping hooves of the reckless beast. Ferris and Quill (momentarily restored by Keller) finished off the Waste’s steed, and turned to join the rest of the battle. Alaric and Greyshanks were carried by the air elemental to the front of the ship, and the summoner cast a wall of fire and the enemies in the rear.

Keller had tossed a silenced dagger on the mist-shrouded deck, disrupting the enemy casters when the ship carried past the clouds. Alaric summoned a spiked pit below the Waste and her dwarven captain. He danced aside and she stood her ground in mid air. She stepped around the wall and walked out into space, turning back to cast slay living on Keller. He withstood the initial blast, but found himself surrounded by enemies.

The tieflings at the front found themselves unable to get through the lemure’s defenses, and gave up to charge the bard and the summoner. Alaric put up another Wall of Fire, but that provided only temporary cover. They were soon in hand-to-hand combat against two highly trained swordsmen.

The dwarven captain had charged the party, swinging his flail and sending our heroes reeling away from his shield slams. Norrick found himself dangling from the rigging off the ship and Keller stood on the edge of death. Fearing ultimate failure, Quill pulled out his staff of one-hundred hands and emptied its magic to summon a crushing hand against the Waste. She was caught fast, and her attempts to free herself were all for naught.

Meanwhile, the tiefling sorcerer had been swept from the deck by the elemental, and transformed into an elemental himself to escape. He returned to the deck and destroyed the lemure with a shocking grasp. Sadly, both the bard and the summoner fell to their enemies blows.

After a few rounds in its grasp, the Waste That Walks burst into a noxious cloud and vanished from view. Now outnumbered, the dwarven captain succumbed to our heroes, and the last of the crewmen fell. The elemental sorcerer fled the scene dropping to the jungle below.

Quill sent the hand to dispatch the last two tieflings cowering behind the Wall of Fire and gave them no quarter. Our heroes gathered the dead and wounded to consider their next course of action.

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Rise and Fall

Inside the ziggurat, Keller and Ayelin faced off against the tiefling fire mage. He reached out with his claws and ripped at Ayelin, dropping her to the ground. Keller cast Flame Stirke, but the wizard laughed off the fiery portion of the attack. Next he surrounded himself with a wreath of daggers cutting at Keller and shredding Ayelin’s fallen body. Disregarding the danger, Keller reached through the Wall of Fire, Fire Shield and the daggers to lay one hand on the wizard, causing mortal wounds with a touch.

Pzo9025 catacombs fightOutside the fight continued. Norrick and the Ismenni warrior charged a troll while Ferris and Greyshanks stayed aloft and fired missiles into the fray. The eidolon engaged a harpie while Quill and Alaric sent a flurry of fiery into the enemy ranks. One harpy broke from the group and went after Ferris, tearing at him repeatedly. A troll took out Glum the Ismenni and the gorilla Firstborn in one round, leaving Norrick alone against the beast. He tumbled away, leaving an unfortunately straight line between two trolls and a harpy. This was soon filled by a lightning bolt. The eidolon came to Ferris’ aid and soon that creature, too, fell.

Not long after, the last of the enemies fell, but all save one of the Firstborn had gone down as well.

After a quick search of the bodies in the temple, Keller told everyone to bring the injured up to him, He recovered a cloak of displacement, a ring of protection (+2) and a lesser ring of spell storing off the fire mage. The warrior had an amulet of natural armor +2; rapier +2 (speed); unholy rapier of puncturing (vile); belt of giant strength +4; studded leather +2 (allows wearer to cast blur 1/day). The dragon creature carried nothing, but tried to lure Keller to connect with it, and he drew away.

Bringing the injured and fallen up to the temple, Keller healed them. The toucan Firstborn (the standing survivor, although the alligator, the turtle and some kind of otter should recover) told them that the Hart was just a deer and was in a ruined temple over the ridge, and that he had not seen the Waste or an airship. Anything more, he said, would have to be asked of the Keeper.

Pzo1116 preview monster15Gathering everyone, they touched the Keeper and allowed him to connect with them. They felt a surge and were transported to the peak of the temple, but in a time when all the ziggurats were standing and the land was lush. The Keeper told them that she had failed, and that it would be up to man to protect the land from now on. He explained that the Hart was not intelligent per se, but carried a tremendous amount of natural power within it.

She guessed that the Waste would use the Hart as a sacrifice to reopen the gate to the realm of the Baorn. She added that the Hart could be used to reconnect the Shattered Sea to the old world as well. They asked where this sacrifice would take place and she said that it would end where it began, which they took to mean the Deepwater Creche. This was where the Whisperer was first to appear nearly three years ago.

She noted also that Keller and Ayelin had been marked by the Celestine. She added her power to his, and the stars of the constellations became small scarabs which have the power to channel divination magic for their bearers. She also gave them the gift of True Sight before returning them to the present. She said the would heal, but it would take longer than our heroes have to wait, and so she wished them good luck.

Returned to the temple, they searched for the fleeing Waste. With the aid of the spyglass, the True Sight (and an action point) Quill spotted a shimmering object in the sky to the east, more than two miles away. The reviewed their resources for ways to intercept the vessel, and we called it a night.

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End Of The Line

Keller cast Airwalk on Ayelin and she rocketed toward the lit creature in the canopy. It thrashed at her with vines, but could not gain purchase on the elf. She struck repeatedly at it, while Alaric harried its flanks with several small air elementals. The others braced for the charge that did not come, and even the shadows in the brush remained quiet. Ferris pulled adamantine bolts from his stores and fired around the fray. After several brutal exchanges, the creature hung slack from the canopy, and the vines drooped without malice to guide them.

Keller healed the group, and they lashed the small boats together to allow him to tend those that the creeper had fed upon. By morning most had recovered their lost strength and pressed on. Glum the Ismenni demanded proper treatment for his cousin, who was decaying rapidly on the canoe, and they placed him with the other Klaengrin’s on the funerary canoes.

Preview2The morning continued misty and dark as they made their way deeper inland. By the middle of the afternoon (although it remained dark as twilight in the jungle), the funeral boats pushed out from under the canopy to a wider opening. Following quickly, our heroes came upon a spring-fed lake centered on a gigantic banyan tree with several dozen trunks rising up from the water. Beyond the massive tree, a series of ruined and partially ruined ziggurats dotted the hilly countryside.

Sharp-eyed party members watched as the funeral boats moved into the banyan’s shadow and a swarm of small insects blanketed the boats, consuming boat and passengers in a frenzied pace. They rowed clear of the current pulling them toward the tree and noted a crowd on the second tier of a nearby nearly-intact ziggurat.

Pulling out their spyglass, they noted armored trolls fighting alongside tie flings against a group of animals. Harpies struggled against huge birds in the air above. After a brief discussion they decided to join the fray as quickly as possible. Greyshanks and Ferris took the fly, Alaric and the Eidolon flew under their own power, and once they got closer Quill teleported the rest onto the tier above the fray.

Tiefling fireOnce they arrived, Ayelin noted smoke rising from the top of the ziggurat and rushed off toward an open door. Keller cried, “Bitch!”, and followed. They came to a terrace surrounding an open pit into the ziggurat. It was ringed in flame, and a tall tiefling was inside over two prone figures. Ayelin charged and was struck by a Fire Shield around the wizard. He fired magic missiles at her and stepped back, only to have her close the gap instantly. Keller ran in and reached through the wall to Slay Living, but the enemy avoided the brunt of the attack and continued to stand. Ayelin stuck as well but the reeling wizard continued to stand. Looking closer, they noted the bloody bodies on the ground were a tiefling warrior.

Meanwhile, Norrick climbed down the wall and joined in the fray. Quill followed and sent a fire snake through the group, wreaking havoc among the tieflings. Ferris and Greyshanks circle around firing at the fliers while the eidolon launched himself at one of the harpies. Quill followed up with a selective fireball, leaving more bodies scattered around the ziggurat.

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Snatch and Grab

With metallic birds tracking their every movement, our heroes continued their progress up the river. The land in the interior was rolling and marshy and the river moved slower with many more branches. As the afternoon faded to night they noticed that mold had over-run their food stores. Even worse, some of their wooden equipment had begun to warp and grow buds. They tried to stash as much as they could salvage in bags of holding, and Keller cast Mending to keep the canoes secure while they continued on.

Several party members also noticed rustling in the underbrush that lined the river. Alaric sent the Eidolon to investigate, and it was surprised by a blur or beige fur and flashing claws. Instantly, the poor outsider was ripped apart and sent back to his own plane. The others decided to take that as warning, and stayed in the boat.

As night was falling, the funeral boats they had been following took different passages up-river. After some debate, they chose to follow the boat to the right, as to avoid the sinister path. It seemed as if the stalking shadows on the shore followed that path as well.

Screen shot 2013 04 09 at 9.28.04 amThey continued well into the night. A few hours before dawn, as the group navigated a narrow vine-choked channel, several strands slipped down from above and grabbed at our heroes. A few were flung up into the air while Ayelin, Alaric and Glum the Ismenni tried to slash at the tough fibers. The vines were resilient but could be severed, and the captives were cut free. Others immediately dropped to replace them, and soon all were awake and slashing and the grabbing vegetation. Greyshanks cast dancing lights to aid them in seeing, which cast eerie shadows in the dense jungle.

Runolf the Ismenni was lifted into the canopy, and Quill shot magic missiles to free him. Unfortunately he was flung to the shoreline, and set upon by a great cat that was lurking in the shadows. As his cousin leaped from the boat to reach him, he was torn to pieces. Quill was yanked from the boat and pulled upward, but fired scorching rays into the canopy to free himself.

Realizing that something must be guiding the vines, they shouted to Greyshanks to send the lights upward into the canopy. Once he did so, Ayelin spotted a huge fibrous ball lurking among the branches. It tried to escape further into the darkened canopy, but Ayelin struck it with a lighted arrow. Ferris followed with a flurry of bolts.

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Going With The Flow

Our heroes managed to bar the doors of House Klaengrin and get a night’s rest after defeating the ‘fake’ Oleander. The Ismenni told them that no living member of their people has seen the Hart of Anu, but that their dead travel to it on ritually carved boats. They decided to follow the boats to the Hart (having recently been responsible for making several fresh Klaengrin corpses).

Most of them holed up in the house the next day while Ayelin and a couple others went into the village to buy supplies fro the journey. Magdana spent the day placing a Mark of the Firstborn on each of the party members. When night fell, they packed up three boats (along with two young Klaengrin volunteers) and followed the Klaengrin funeral barges up the river.

Fantasy art crocodiles rivers 2700x1800 wallpaper www.animalhi.com 98Very late the first night, Keller noted underwater shapes paralleling his boat. He tried to swiftly wake the others. While he was doing that, a huge alligator shape lunged up and tried to topple the small craft. He kept the boat steady, and the others tried to gather closer. Then the river erupted as several more toothy shapes burst up to attack. Quill took to the air while everyone tried to fight off the gigantic, yet perfectly formed, alligators that thrashed about them.

Ferris braved several bites while firing at creatures directly before him. Keller maneuvered his canoe closer and tried to get warriors into flanking position. Our heroes fought bravely and soon the river flowed with blood. Even so, the creatures would continue to thrash and bite long after the light had left their eyes.

Quill sent a fire snake through their ranks and Alaric brought the Eidolon back to join in the fight. Soon the tide had turned and gators’ bodies slumped back below the surface. The party awaited some kind of retribution, but so far it was not directed at them.

Things continued quietly through the night and most of the next day. Late in the afternoon the Eidolon reported the stench of death on the wind. Eventually they sent him up to get a high-altitude view. He spotted a circle of dead vegetation off to the east of the river ahead. While they drew closer on the river, they sent him over for a closer look. When he descended into the circle to see the remains of a camp, he found himself surrounded by metallic plumed birds. More and more appeared and swarmed over him. He tried to flee but was overtaken by the swarm and he was being viciously slashed by their steely beaks. Alaric dismissed him back to his plane, and the birds flew to the shore to peer down at the group.

They kept quiet and rowed as quickly as the could away from the spot. Soon the birds dispersed and our heroes once again found themselves alone in the jungle— a lush, disturbingly green place that seems as if it has never seen the touch of living man.

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Jumping to Conclusions

Magdana was torn between saving the children around her and concern for the others trapped in the other room. The party decided to try to rescue the others while keeping this group out of combat. They closed them with the rescued warrior and the real Oleander and set out down the corridor.

Norrick examined the door and determined it was barred from the other side. Quill used ‘knock’ to drop the bar and Ayelin kicked in the door. She was met by a barrage of throwing axes and one angry troll inside the large chamber. The axe throwers had bound children as cover.

295 realsizeAyelin tumbled through the group to get behind the troll, Quill cast Fire Snake and stuck all four enemies without harming the children. The rest of our heroes rushed in to assist. Norrick struck the troll repeatedly with sneak attacks while Ferris peppered the warriors with bolts. The warriors closed and combat was short and brutal. Alaric used an acid splash to keep the troll down and soon the party had dispatched the enemies.

Ferris was untying one of the bound children when he noticed that he looked familiar. In fact, he was an exact duplicate of one of the children in the other room. Keller ran to check and was shot by an arrow from within. He found Magdana and several of the children had gone. Alaric summoned a xill and quickly dropped the wounded warrior. They demanded to know what happened from the ‘real’ Oleander, and he pointed toward the chamber.

Ayelin looked in and could see the signs of recent climbing. She followed up the shaft, followed by Ferris and Norrick. The others gathered the children and try to follow up the stairs.

Reaching the top, Ayelin easily followed the sooty footprints out the front door. When she got to the landing she was struck by a spell from a fleeing figure down the gangway. She shook off the magic and charged. The enemy – now revealed as a tiefling – grabbed the clan mother and leaped from the railing. The evil creature had grown wings and was flying away with the clan mother.

Ayelin wasted no time on thought and jumped out into the void and grabbed them. Ferris had now arrived on the scene and began tying rope to a bolt to reel them in. The three grappled in mid-air, but no one could get free of the others. Norrick arrived thereafter and also jumped into the fray from above.

With three people hanging on, the tiefling was losing altitude. Alaric and Greyshanks made it to the porch and the summoner brought in dire bats to aid their escape. Greyshanks shouted to the tiefling. ‘suggesting’ that he return to the safety of the deck. The fleeing enemy turned and tried to do just that, but could not gain height with all the baggage. Ayelin brought out the ebony fly, and she and Norrick untangled themselves from the grapple.

The winged tiefling brought Magdana to the rail near Greyshanks, and he quickly cast confusion on the foe. He lashed out futilely and Ayelin and Norrick returned to the deck on opposing sides of the foe. They both slashed out repeatedly, and Ferris added a few missiles to the mix, and the bard dropped to the floor.

Dragging him inside and rebarring the door, our heroes gathered up the bodies, the surviving Ismenni and holed up for the night.

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