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28 November 2003 - Friday

Hm. Marith and Harold seem to have found it necessary to go on a major shopping expedition at exactly the time we were trying to start AQoJ. That seems poorly timed.

So, somewhat late, but not actually dead...

Amazon Quintet of Justice VIIa: "Assault of Darkness! Hey! I Was Using That Soul!"

Our Heroines seem to have thoroughly cleaned out the caverns, so going back to catch up with the others at the pirate base is uneventful. The locked and warded building there contains both the portal back home and the valuables looted from the royal treasury of Tigris. However, in order to transport everything back, it gets stuffed into the pocket dimension the Quintet stole from the necrotheologians, with Sophia, Serenity, and Shekinah to guard it. Upon arrival back in Prince Richard's bedroom, however, Our (remaining) Heroines discover that the Solar Sisters have been paged by Pelor and are no longer anywhere to be found.

Tigris is suitably grateful. Some of the handy items lent from the treasury are signed over to the Quintet for good. A minor dispute breaks out over the disposition of the magic items used by the succubus-prince, but Amaryllis prevails.

Stephan, upon hearing of the good drow, demands to be taken to meet them so he can get their versions of the ancient prophecies of the dead god. Eventually, Fresa succumbs to his blandishments, and the Quintet escort him to the pirate base. It turns out that the drow version of the prophecy claims that the "blood of Avalon" will be instrumental in raising the dead god. There is some alarm.

Sadly, the really cute drow sorcerer has run off with the silver dragon. Some people have no sense of gratitude.

That episode is no sooner concluded than Hrogarth, who has been left in the university archives all this time, proclaims that he has found the hiding place of an Artifact of Great Power. Or at least narrowed it down to a short list. And he's not sure what the AoGP is. But the Amazons must go and fetch it immediately!

Since that was not the original deal with Hrogarth, and his dwarven sensibilities prevent him from making a reasonable monetary offer, there is some resistance. However, Moradin reveals to Fresa that He wants her to go on this expedition, and that it is related to the issue of the dead god. Sadly, He is not forthcoming on other issues, such as the exact role to be played by the "blood of Avalon", or which of the locations on Hrogarth's list holds the AoGP. Still, now that the Quintet knows that they want to do this, they have Marika use her mercenary savvy to negotiate them a fairly good contract. If they have to use the item to save the world, their payment will not be as large, but this is deemed acceptable, and Our Heroines set out for the first place on the list.

On the morning of the fifth day of travel, well up in the foothills away from civilization, Amaryllis and Alyra awaken from horrible nightmares with some of their life force missing. Fortunately, Gabrielle knows an old song about someone this happened to, and in that case it was a night hag. With that as a working theory, Our Heroines lay a trap the next night: Fresa is prepared to go ethereal with anyone who's awake at the time and slay the hag in her immaterial state.

Just before dawn, Amaryllis begins tossing and whimpering in her sleep, so Fresa grabs her watch-mate Alyra, kicks Marika awake, and casts her spell. Unfortunately, there are two night hags, and each has a nightmare for a mount. Simultaneously, on the material plane, wolves attack!

Confusion ensues. The wolves are not much of a threat, but they annoy Marika and Gabrielle, and occupy several seconds of Amaryllis's valuable spell-casting time. Fresa and Alyra are hard-pressed and death seems near, but finally Amaryllis casts the spell that allows her to see and zap the hags and nightmares, and turns the tide. None of the foes escape.

Triumphant, if slightly low on magical power, the Amazons continue onward that morning, and finally reach a ruined complex of some kind. The area is crisscrossed with the tracks of wolves and giant rats, leading some to suspect the presence of vampires. Fortunately, it is still many hours until nightfall.

The only intact part of the complex seems to be built into the mountain, so cautious exploration is undertaken. After a great deal of wandering about peering at rubbish and indecipherable inscriptions, the five determine that the place is laid out as a series of concentric circles, with the spokes between adjacent rings offset so there's no direct passage to or from the center. Once they understand the architecture, though, the indirect path to the center is easy to follow.

Unfortunately, although the stresses of the rock surrounding the center are somewhat odd, there isn't anything exciting there: just an innermost ring corridor encircling a pillar about twenty feet wide. While Our Heroines are poking around, four horrible shadowy forms emerge from the wall and attack!

The first skirmish ends with two of the spectres put to final rest and the other two to flight, but three of the five adventurers severely drained by negative energy. The Amazons flee outside, only to find that it is almost dark! At least outside it's harder for things to sneak up on them.

Fresa repairs the damage to a couple of souls, but before she can petition Moradin for more magic, the spectres and their two new buddies attack! The protective circle Fresa cast hinders them, at least, so that although more souls are rent and battered, all four spectres are dispatched. Whew!

* * *

Harold wanted to get home, so we called it there and went zoom zoom back to Mountain View.

* * *

NaNoWriMo words today: 0

NaNoWriMo words total: 45217 (90.4%)

Reason for not starting: Roseville.

Panic factor: 1.435

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