Part 9: Umbilicus

Previously (Pt. 8) Home Next (Pt. 10)

An unsettling litany.

Having learned the basics about the Open Invitation (and having made a good impression while doing so), our heroes now turn to exploring the rest of the village.

(Joriah’s player was unable to make this session, so his character was assumed to be accompanying the party, even if inactive.)

Real Date: July 12, 2014

Game Date: 4th of November, a.r. 231, half past six bells, evening (Day 4, continued)

Chapter 39: Den of Iniquity

Realizing that stuffing themselves and an extra thirty-five people into the apothecary’s shop was an impractical plan, the group decided instead to simply bring Shamus along. Shamus already had personal rapport with Marcellus, being a regular customer, and the group had taken an immediate liking to his laid-back attitude. Meanwhile, Lucian would try to contain the news of their arrival. In fact, Lucian offered to lead his followers in a helpful prayer ceremony, though he was unsure what prayers would benefit the visitors the most.

Zanzibar Day 18Julias-victorian-mirrorAs the sun had now completely set, there was no one around but night fisherman with lanterns in boats, and the occasional child. The four spirits and their guide walked directly to the “Stuffed to the Gills” pawnshop, where Shamus explained a set of stairs led up to the apothecary’s shop. Though no one was manning the shop, a lantern glow from the rear revealed where the shopkeeper kept his room.

Before they went up the stairs, Rina ran her eyes quickly over the shopkeeper’s overflowing wares. Just as she suspected, an ornate but cracked wall mirror near the back shone a deep inky hue. There was a portal here to the Shadow Realm–or back from, should they find themselves trapped on the other side. It was good to keep aware of such things.

Like the other buildings of the complex, the staircases and doors were attached to the outsides of the structures. The five ascended a covered stairway to the second floor, where a loose and worn wooden door led to Marcellus’s apothecary shop. The chemist was still at work, tending to mixtures in vials, directly on the other side of the counter.


Hearing the door open, he spoke without turning around.

Marcellus: What kind and how much of it?

Shamus: Er, it’s not actually for me.  You might kinda want to turn around for this.

Marcellus did so, and his face scowled as soon as he saw the four floating, glowing spirits. He waved his hands in front of his face slowly, checking for signs of trailing or distortion. Then he turned back to his table, checking for upset bottles and any sign of powder absorption on his skin. Finding nothing, he returned to the group, still visibly upset.

Marcellus: Well, this is rather vexing. I seem to be hallucinating strongly, possibly from something I’ve accidentally ingested. I shouldn’t give the lot of you anything until my mind is clear–wouldn’t want to accidentally prescribe the wrong thing, you understand.

L0012331 'The Apothecary' by Henry Stacy Marks.Assuring that they were, in fact, the “real deal,” Tacitus touched Marcellus’s uncovered skin with his hand. There was no pressure, and Marcellus shivered from a sudden chill.

Marcellus: How unusual. Visual and tactile hallucinations. And only involving the four of you. This is most peculiar.

Rina: We’d like to ask you a few questions, if we may.

Marcellus: (suddenly squinting suspiciously) Who are the four of you, really? And what do you want? I’ve paid the taxes on my business, and there are no irregularities.

Rina: No irregularities, you say? Then you would say that exploding messily in an outhouse is just a natural side-effect of what you sell here?

Marcellus: (whispering to the side) Shamus, what is this woman on about?

Shamus: It’s Francis, man. Guy exploded all over outhouse when he was taking your stuff. S***’s sick.

Marcellus: And she thinks I am somehow responsible? (laughs) An overdose is one thing, my lady, and one thing I do my best to avoid. My business operates on return business, and I wouldn’t make much money if I kept offing my customers. But it sounds like what you’re describing involves a crazed man with a hatchet…not mind-enhancing drugs.

Rina: And what exactly did you give him?

Marcellus: Not an edible bomb, that’s for sure. (eyeing the four spirits suspiciously for a moment) I gave him some of my newest creation: “Quicksilver.” It’s an hallucinogenic that creates incredibly vivid experiences–ten times more so than any other. In fact, users have often reported having shared experiences of “another world.”

Tacitus: (to himself) Oh, I’ll bet. Shared experiences of the Shadow Plane.

Marcellus: Francis was by no means the first to take “Quicksilver”; there are several others in the back room who are currently on it, if you wish to inspect them. He was, sadly, the first to die on it.

Rina: What’s in this “Quicksilver”?

Marcellus: (drawing himself up defensively) I’m afraid I don’t need to tell you any of that. I don’t know what your business is, but if it’s not buying my tinctures, then perhaps you should go elsewhere.

Rina: Perhaps we should make you take your own damn medicine–

liquid mercuryIkkath: (quickly interrupting) Thank you, medicine man, dwarf woman angry over loss of friend. (motioning the others aside) We talk now.

While Marcellus went back to the mystery of his “hallucinations,” the four spirits quickly discussed their growing theories. Already convinced that Marcellus’s drugs were responsible for Francis’s death, Rina began putting ideas together. Recalling that reflective surfaces were often gateways to the Shadow Realm, and that “Quicksilver” was by nature reflective, Rina wondered if the drug’s users weren’t in fact ingesting portals to another world–portals that something was using.

Rina: After all, we can pass through mirrors back and forth just fine. There’s no rule that says something else couldn’t as well.

Tacitus: Well, if something is passing through, I don’t think it stayed on this end, or we’d have seen more signs. There does need to be a door on both sides, though. Did Francis’s shadow statue have a mirror or something on it?

Rina: It was hard to tell. Remember, there was very little of it actually remaining.

After some additional brainstorming, the four decided to quickly search Marcellus’s shop before departing. Seeing the four apparitions making their way around the counter, Marcellus put out his hand to stop them…and reacted in surprise when their glowing forms simply flowed around him.

Among the numerous beakers, glass tubing, and pestles, the ghosts found a number of cages housing healthy lab rats. One of the rodents, however, lay listlessly on its side, breathing in heavy and labored gasps. Its eyes shone a deep and familiar black color. Near its cage, an empty vial lay, immediately reminding the four of the vial near Francis.


Tacitus: That is one tripped-out rat.

Rina: (touching her hand to the rat’s eye) Well, it looks like there are more clues waiting for us on the other side.

Tacitus: (to a still-surprised Marcellus) If this rat dies in the next few moments…well, it was us.

Marcellus watched in amazement as the four glowing apparitions disappeared from his shop through the eyes of one of his test specimens. Shamus, with little better to do, sat down on the floor in a corner and awaited their return.

Chapter 40: Floating Heads.

shadow stairsThe four spirits found themselves on a series of floating platforms, loosely arranged in the manner of a three-story building. As they had entered from Marcellus’s shop, the second story of his building, they were now standing on the middle stone rectangle, with one above and one below. Connecting the platforms together were stone steps, also hovering magically in space. There were no supports to hold the structure up; but physical limits had never affected the Shadow Realm before.

A bloated and wheezing creature formed the after-image of the laboratory rat. The group drew their weapons and readied for battle (remembering their experiences in the fleshy prison), but this monster seemed incapable of lifting its head, much less of violence.

shadow rat

It took only moments for the group to invent reasons to end its wretched existence.

Ikkath: Need to test my ax. Have not had good fight yet.

Rina: This poor creature, it’s such a shame. I wouldn’t feel right leaving it here and not putting it out of its misery.

Tacitus: Look, however you guys want to rationalize killing it, let’s just kill it.

A couple good swings of their weapons later, and the zombie rat’s ichor blood sprayed on the stone around them. It took one last, shuddering breath and lay still.

Immediately upon seeing this, Tacitus examined the meat of the beast. Deciding it was still sound, he cooked a portion with a Scorching Ray. The others grimaced at munching sounds that soon followed.

Rina: This is strange. None of the rest of us ever feel hungry. But Tacitus can never seem to eat enough.

orange bottleWhile the eidolomancer supped, the group searched the rest of the stone platform. A shadow of Marcellus’s shop in “real” life, the platform held a few benches of vials of its own. Ikkath raised an orc eyebrow at three vials filled with orange-colored liquid. Unlike the bluish vials of Cure Wounds or whitish Lesser Restoration, these were oval-shaped and had their cork stoppers sealed in with wax.

Ikkath may not have been as “smart” of an thinker as Tacitus was–retaining large amount of knowledge and making abstract connections in his mind. However, orcs were practical thinkers and were often very clever in the here-and-now. Ikkath hefted one of the three orange vials in his hand, noting how easy it was to handle. The fluid inside had been filled to the top, preventing “sloshing.” Also, the fact the stopper had been sealed in suggested the stuff was not meant to be taken orally.

Following an internal instinct, Ikkath took the vial over to the body of the rat-thing. Standing back, he threw the vial against the hind portion, where Tacitus was not eating. The vial shattered easily, and the flesh bubbled and frothed away.

“Acid bomb,” Ikkath declared, with a bit of satisfaction. The two remaining grenades were quickly split among the party.

There was still a floor below and a floor above to search. Guessing that the lower level represented the pawn shop (and possible valuables), Rina headed for the lower level. Something shiny there had already caught her eye. Ikkath, on the other hand, took the steps going upwards. There were faint murmurings coming from beyond the top of the flight–mutterings that tingled the edge of his brain and seduced his mind.

Blue_FireHawk_Tower_ShieldWhile Ikkath braved the dangers of the third floor on his own, Rina plundered the spoils of the first. Amid old dressers and stacked racks of fishing equipment, several gleams stood apart. Her hand first found a glowing ax wreathed in a blue flame. She struck a nearby wooden table with it, pleased to see a shower of sparks and a smoldering gash afterwards. The light it cast was as bright as a torch, and the dwarf could see her regular 60 feet in the darkness while holding it.

Rina too discovered a polished tower shield with a simple emblazon. Though it was quite large next to her smaller frame, she grabbed it eagerly.

While Rina had been busy looting in solitude, Ikkath had stepped up to the third floor. What awaited him was a scene extracted from a nightmare.  Three statues lay in various positions, prone on the stone floor. Their eyes were emitting muted but distinct colors–a sign, Ikkath was learning, of portals to the physical plane. But from the open mouth of each statue extended a pulsing umbilical cord. And rising into the air from those cords, like terrifying, misshapen balloons, were gigantic human heads.

hanging balloons

Three feet wide, these decapitated monstrosities stared vacantly and babbled incoherently. In fact, it was these pointless murmurings that had nearly cost a little of Ikkath’s own sanity.

Realizing that being outnumbered three-to-one was tactically unsound, Ikkath yelled downstairs for Tacitus to join him.

Ikkath: Hey, human man, there’s a fork and knife up here!

Immediately upon hearing this, Tacitus strode for the stairs up. Gnawing at the rat corpse with his teeth and fingers alone had been rather inconvenient. He stopped dead, however, upon seeing the new apparitions.

Tacitus: What…are those things?

Ikkath: Ikkath not know. But Ikkath want to see if they can die.

The orc swung his rusty ax against the umbilical cord of the nearest floating head. He was surprised to learn just how tough it was. (Obviously, the orc had never helped deliver a newborn in his previous life.) The levitating face, wobbling from the sudden strike, immediately turned and hissed in fury.


Floating Head (reskinned Gibbering Mouther, CR 5, MM1)

Terrifying as it was, the head seemed to have few weapons beyond its mind-bending gibbering. Strands of hair slashed across Ikkath’s face, and a wad of spittle flew past his ear; but the orc was able to withdraw from combat with only minor injuries.

Ikkath: Most strange. They are very tough.

Tacitus:(bending close enough to see the shining eyes and individual pores on each statue’s face) And I think there’s more going on here than is immediately obvious. Let’s hook back up with Rina before we act further.

compound longbow - CopyThey found Rina busily sorting through the rest of the odds-and-ends in the Shadow pawn shop, looking for other trinkets to add to growing collection. There was a momentary contention when Ikkath pointed out he already used an ax and a tower shield, in favor of his using the new items; and Rina pointed out exactly the same point in favor of her keeping them. Rina tried offering her tin hand-and-a-half sword; but as it was an exotic weapon, Ikkath was not familiar with it. In the end, Ikkath traded his old door/tower shield in exchange for both the ax and the new shield.

Fortunately, there were a few other items to divy among the rest of the group. A set of well-made (+1) banded mail replaced Rina’s mediocre armor; and an exquisite compound longbow (with a quiver) was seized by Tacitus. Tacitus had desperately wanted some way to strike at range without resorting to painful spells; this longbow seemed sturdy enough for even a giant to use (up to +6 applied strength bonus).

His tactically-driven mind still turning, Ikkath began to discuss how best to attack the third-story creatures. The floating heads hadn’t moved from their anchoring points, and they only seemed to attack when threatened. Ikkath suggested using their new bow to hit the heads from a distance, though Tacitus expressed fears of what he termed “an umbilical cord french kiss.”

The first floor platform was actually only raised a half-foot above the expanse of the stone Shadow amphitheater. As Rina pushed a stack of chairs and bed frames onto the stone floor with a crash, an answering boom resounded from the darkness.

The four adventurers immediately froze. A second boom sounded, and then a third and a fourth. A cacophony of drumbeats began nearing from out of the darkness, and the party recognized it immediately. It was the footsteps of the giant tentacled spider.

moleBursting from the Shadowy mists, the mechanical monstrosity cantered in their direction. Ikkath noticed almost immediately that the eyeless head and limbless torso were swiveling back and forth in front of it as it moved, not unlike how the nose of a mole swiveled back and forth in the dirt for worms. Which heavily implied the creature was…

Ikkath:(hissing a whisper) Blind! It’s blind and listening for us! Be quiet!

Unfortunately, it was at just this moment that Rina decided to trip over the iron door strapped to her left arm. Attempting to move stealthily up the stairs, she misjudged the size of her new tower shield and landed squarely on it (nat. 1 Move Silently). A reverberating clang instantly drew the attention of the towering creature, which fixed its blind gaze in their direction and charged.


A frost wurm stands in the for sphinx, in our tabletop session.

oil_lamp_brass_a14w_a_64_27cm__41725Realizing there were mere seconds before the creature was upon them, Ikkath pointed his finger at a brass oil lamp in the pawn shop wares, an object he knew was light but noisy. With a flick of his wrist, he used his telekinetic powers to throw the lamp on the other side of the sphinx. Though the lamp landed only ten feet behind the monster, its loud clamor drew the beast’s attention.

To compound this, a voice suddenly began emanating from the darkness.

Disembodied voice: There it is! Quick! Let’s attack!

Recognizing the accent, Ikkath glanced over at Tacitus. Tacitus’s mouth was open, and his throat was quivering as if in speech, but his sounds were coming from fifty feet away. Tacitus winked at Ikkath as he crafted his spell; Ventriloquism was always a solid trick to learn.

Now completely confused, the mechanical spider began swiveling in place. One of its brass legs began tapping the stone floor periodically, its head cocked to the side to listen for echoes. Ikkath also recognized this behavior; bats used something very much like this when navigating caves and forests. He quickly waved his hand up and down and then put a finger to his lips, making very clear gestures that everyone was to remain quiet.

Once everyone had froze in terror, the only sounds left were those of the murmuring heads floating on the third platform. The sphinx cocked an ear towards these, apparently unsure what to make of them. Knowing they were in constant danger as long as the creature stayed around, Tacitus again threw his voice, as far in the distance as he could.

Disembodied voice: It’s coming! Everyone, get back! Run!

14aa3b1ebf256elarge_Steel-WiredpiThis seemed to make up the beast’s mind, and it charged back off into the darkness. For some time after that, the group heard its distorted clanging just beyond the edge of sight.

(As the spider retreated, Tacitus noticed one last, perhaps very important fact about the sphinx: a long length of braided cables stretched behind it, like a tether or an umbilical cord all its own. The cable too led off into the darkness.)

The group fervently whispered about the situation. They remembered from Madame Guerre and Quinn that the Shadow Realm reflected concepts from the physical world, but what did the floating heads represent? The disembodied ravings of drug-addled minds? And what did the giant spider mean? Nothing they’d seen so far came even close to explaining its existence.

Ikkath was already crafting plans to take down the sphinx, drawing on the blood memories of generations who’d fought mammoths and saber-toothed tigers on the savannas. To his orc mind, the best was more of a challenge and a trophy. The others were not as keen to test their mettle while still ignorant, and they decided to return to Marcellus’s physical shop. Grumbling openly about their lack of courage, Ikkath too followed them back through the dead rat’s eyes.

Chapter 41: Spirit of Diplomacy

While Marcellus still actively distrusted his own senses, he had to admit that the four strangers who felt like cold mist and could disappear into lab rats and kill them were beyond his range of experience. He was cautiously more open to discussing his business and the uses of his special “Quicksilver,” though he still declined to tell how it was made.

To show that “Quicksilver” was not inherently dangerous, he led them up to the third floor of the building, where dirty mats and soiled curtains adorned his drug den. Here, customers who’d purchased one of his wares were free to experience them in relative solitude. The spirits noted a number of different substances, most of which were derived directly from flora–opium, mushrooms, and smoked leaves being readily obvious. Three of the men, lying in familiar spots on the floor, held empty glass vials in their hand and blinked lids over inky black eyes.

opiumdenTacitus: Interesting. Once again, “Quicksilver” seems to be at the center of things.

Rina: Like we said before: it’s creating a portal inside their bodies that the spider uses to come through. (to Marcellus) This may sound strange, but you should probably caution against people taking this drug at ground level. There’s something on the other side that might prey on them.

Tacitus: (thinking out loud) I wonder what happens if the umbilical cords on those floating heads are cut. The way I see, three things might happen. First, maybe they explode, like our friend Francis did. Second, maybe they lose their minds, both figuratively and literally. And third–and this one is really the most interesting one–maybe they simply sober up.

Ikkath: We should do it to just one and see.

The others turned and gave Ikkath a cold and stony glare. Ikkath was a practical, hands-on sort of orc who preferred physical experimentation, but the others were not as cavalier about playing with human lives.

Little else was accomplished at the apothecary that evening. A small crowd of familiar faces was slowly forming in the stairway from the first floor, and Shamus was far too exhausted from the day to help much more (to include moving the bodies of those taking “Quicksilver”–a plan Ikkath seemed eager to implement). At the end, the adventurers decide to return to the cult room, where they had been warmly greeted and where they could put their heads together with Lucian.

It was now half past seven bells.

*          *          *

Back in the communion room of the Open Invitation, the ghosts quickly noticed the attendees were at least ten to fifteen people fewer. Lucian raised his palms in supplication when asked, explaining that it had been impossible to keep track of every excited member, and many had undoubtedly left to spread the good news. Remembering the small crowd of faces that had followed them from the apothecary back to the prayer room, the spirits nodded.

While talking to Lucian, the spirits began feeling slowly and subtly unnerved. Not sure what was causing their sudden discomfort, each began eyeing the room around them in turn. The machines were all off, there were no obvious portals, Lucian and his kind were open and welcoming…

It was not until Rina took a long, hard look at the “altar” on the south side of the room that things finally began to click.


With the wooden dresser at the center of the display, the portraits had been hung in a semi-circular pattern around it on the wall, with several large frames taking up the exact middle. In fact, it visually reminded her of a–

Rina: Headdress!

impaled profilesIn fact, the longer she looked at the altar, the more meaning the arrangement took on. The repurposed dresser could easily be construed as the body of the beast, and the four legs on each corner were even shaped like paws, reminding her of the spider’s legs. The similarity was obviously associative, rather than literal; but it reminded her of how objects could take on completely different forms via their shadows.

Once summoned, the other members of her group also agreed. The shrine had some real connection to the sphinx they had experienced in the Shadow Realm. Turning off the machines had not seemed to affect it; perhaps deconstructing the shrine would?

However, when the idea was presented to him, Lucian was almost aghast .

Lucian: You can’t–I can’t–but the shrine–!

The communal altar, he explained, held at least one item from every person in their group. It was a group effort, and had a group significance–an place of shared meaning that they could all gather around and focus on for their rituals. Certainly, he agreed, each person could take back their items from the shrine and continue their own prayers in their houses…but that would mean the end of the Open Invitation proper. Without a physical object or location to rally around, each person would return to their own disconnected lives.


Lucian’s father, perhaps?

(It was at this time that Lucian explained a little of his own personal past. The son of a silversmith in the Upper Commons, he had become gradually disillusioned with the “enlightened age of science” that Veritan was experiencing, convinced that there was more beyond the five senses. Eventually, he had taken what money he’d saved and bought the building that had become the cult’s headquarters. Over the past two months, others sharing his or similar beliefs had followed.)

While they understood Lucian’s personal investment in his cult and the shrine that represented it, they did their best to explain the dire gravity of the situation.

Tacitus: Your group has a lot of hungry, searching people in it. They’re all looking for something meaningful to them. Well, on the Shadow Plane, that blind, hungry searching has been given a very real and very dangerous form. And it’s going to kill again.

Lucian: But you said that Marcellus’s drug was responsible for Francis dying. How is what we do here–

Rina: It’s a combination of things. The monster already existed before Marcellus took the “Quicksilver.” The drug just made him more vulnerable…and the spider used his body to come through. Or to attempt to come through.

Lucian: But you’re asking me to effectively shut down something I’ve spent my money and time building! If only the people who take Marcellus’s drug are the ones dying, then why do we need to stop here too?

Rina: Would you be responsible for the continuing deaths of others, even if they’re not directly connected to you?

At this, Lucian bowed his head reluctantly.

Lucian: No, I suppose, but–

Ikkath: (fed up with all the talk) Look, little human man, we’re the spirits here, and you’re giving us a lot of back-talk.

In the end, while Lucian would not yield to doing anything that evening, he did agree to give the matter some serious thought, and to sleep on it. (Here the party had an assisted Diplomacy check of 14 vs. Lucian’s 19 roll on the dice. He greatly values their input, but what they are asking is unusual and unexpected for him.)

Sensing that they’d made as much progress with the man as they were likely to that night, the ghosts inquired if there were any other learned individuals in the town who might lend their advice to the situation. Lucian gave them directions to the top floor of the northern-most building, where an old and respected elf had set up a practice of his own…

It was now nine bells.

*          *          *


Ivellios, the elf scholar


Ivellios while studying

Behind a wooden door covered in painted mystical symbols, the sounds of quiet chanting could be discerned. A quick glance through the wooden door’s keyhole did not reveal any dangers, so each ghost in turn passed through. They arrived in the small quarters of an elderly elf man, sitting cross-legged and wearing little more than a loincloth. The room was decorated haphazardly with runes, symbols, tree sprigs, small crystals, and offerings in ceramic bowls to various deities.

The man seemed surprised upon their entrance, but his eyes sparkled calmly and good naturely.

Ivellios: Well! You’re certainly not Naberius. Who are you four, and how can I help you?

Ivellios did not seem at all taken aback when the four explained exactly who and what they were. He explained that he too was a practitioner of ostracized superstitious arts, and the thought of restless spirits hardly turned his stomach. (Though this was, like Lucian, the first day he had ever personally encountered one.) But whereas Lucian gathered a group to practice a specific type of religion, Ivellios spent his time collecting lost and forgotten lore from suppressed cultures.


The seal of Naberius

A quick glance about his cramped room revealed a number of disparate influences. Ivellios sat on top of a charcoal-scrawled symbol, which he referred to as the “Seal of Naberius.” Rina remembered learning something once about “pact magic,” wherein a “binder” would make a pact with a “vestige,” in return for specific boons. (To illustrate what these boons might be, Ivellios waved a hand in front of his face. Immediately, he had the appearance of a much younger and different elf man. Tacitus recognized the effects of a Disguise Self.) The seal on the floor seemed a part of that process–and Rina now remembered seeing something very much like it in Madame Guerre’s house as well.

Other studies began evidencing themselves. Out of the corner of their eyes, the ghosts noticed that Ivellios’s shadow did not directly follow his motions…and that there was only one of them in the room, despite there being numerous wavering candles. When asked, Ivellios explained that much of his study involved “Hades,” or the Shadow Realm, to where souls departed and from where magic seemed to originate. In fact, he knew of a few simple incantations. (An outreached hand collected shadows from underneath his cot like one might stir up silt at the bottom of a pond. Moments later, he was using them to make more charcoal-colored smudges on the wooden floor.)

wrong shadowIvellios also claimed to know the “truenames” of a few items, and was able to light a tiny candle with no more than a pointed finger and a series of obscure incantations. (Titus again raised an eyebrow at the lack of spellcraft components.) Then, seconds later, Ivellios had exploded the candle with a tiny eldritch blast–a secret art the warlocks of old once knew, he declared.

Ivellios: Magic is a suicidal art that has claimed the life of many an aspiring mage. But people for years have been looking into other ways to achieve the same results. (waves hand humbly) I’m hardly a learned scholar in any of my fields, but I do my best to keep the studies alive.

Over several hours, the ghosts recounted their shared experiences with Ivellios and plumbed his brain for theories on their predicament. When he learned of the assumed dangers of “Quicksilver,” Ivellios looked very troubled. He admitted he had considered using it as an entheogen (a drug used to enhance spiritual experiences) and perhaps even introduce it to Lucian for use in his cult. Following the spirit’s concerns, however, he agreed to put off his own testing of the substance.

Ivellios: (in response to questions about the origins of the Sphinx) I’ve learned that objects or creatures will take form on the Shadow Realm because of significance placed on things in this world. If your spider-like monster is present in the Shadow world, it is because there is something deeply meaningful in this world that requires its existence.

Rina: Could the shape of a shrine, or the manner of a ritual, give rise to a monster like this? Could we end the monster by simply changing the manner of that shrine or ritual?

Ivellios: The shape of an altar or the specific motions of a ritual might influence how a creature appears on the Shadow Plane; but ultimately, that creature exists because there is meaning inherent to what’s being done.

The four spirits found Ivellios to be an intriguing and approachable persona, and possibly just the authority figure that could help convince Lucian of their reasoning. They decided to spend the evening in pleasant company with the scholar, planning to ventured out with him the next morning to continue their sleuthing, and to reapproach Lucian.

Sufficient for each day were its own evils. And the morrow would herald plenty more.

As a result of this session, the following sourcebooks and info pages were unlocked or updated:

Complete Arcane (Warlock class, new feats and spells)
Tome of Magic (All content)
Alternative Forms of Magic
Potion and Oil Colors

Retraining Your Skills, Feats, and Classes (There is now an option to retrain entire class levels.)


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