Marith slept through her alarm, but fortunately my brilliant plan had
allowed for the possibility, so we zoomed expeditiously to Roseville and
were not late at all! (Sadly, Ken was not with us, as he was too sick or
engaged or something to travel.)
Sherilyn, who is that cool, gave us all hand-crafted icosahedral dice
boxes of cunning design to hold the dice we were about to use to
Amazon Quartet of Justice IXa: "The Dragon and the Virgins"
Having finally resolved the political situation in Pelagos to their
liking, the Amazons waste no time in teleporting themselves and Ambassador
Barr back to Rati with a copy of the treaty signed by Queen Ditte. As soon
as the king of Rati has added his signature, it's off to King Penn's fleet
where, after waiting for the king to finish up with a few of his paramours,
they inform him that he is leading a fleet to support his allies in saving
the world. No one asks what he was doing before receiving the message, but
response among the fleet captains is distinctly mixed.
Satisfied that any bloodshed between Rati and Pelagos will not be their
fault, Our Heroines attempt to locate Princess Lisbet's friend Kalida in
the desert land of Karral. Unfortunately, Kalida is a very common name in
Karral, and they don't have much other identifying information for her, so
they end up teleporting to a small encampment in the middle of nowhere.
Fortunately they have no men with them, so they are able to ask directions
of the alarmed nomads. Unfortunately, the nomads don't know which Kalida
the Amazons are looking for either, but at least they're in the right
Suddenly, the nomads begin frantically concealing their tents and
hiding within! As the ominous dot in the sky grows larger, the Quartet
can see that it is a winged giant, probably the offspring of a fire
giant and a blue dragon. In any case, it is large and fearsome, immune
to fire and lightning, and not nearly a match for the Amazons.
The deeply impressed nomads offer their hospitality for the night,
and tell tales of the horrible monsters that have been raiding out of
the mountains lately. The Amazons still have no idea where to find the
right Kalida, but they are pretty certain where they're going to end up
During breakfast the next morning, the encampment is alarmed by the
approach of more flying creatures. The Quartet reconnoiter, and find that
one of the fliers is their friend Leo (an androsphinx who they rescued from necrotheologians), beset by
half a dozen heiracosphinxes. The cause of the fight isn't clear -- Leo is
yelling something about getting revenge for what the hieracosphinxes did to
"her" -- but the Amazons know which side they're on!
Amaryllis gives all the Amazons the power of flight, but they are still
outnumbered, and hampered by having to try to save Leo, who is badly
wounded but refuses to retire from the field. In the end, all the
hieracosphinxes are slain, but not before Leo plummets to his death as
Leo's spirit is eager to return from the afterlife, since after all
Elsa, the most beautiful gynosphinx in the world, isn't there to be rescued
from a band of wicked hieracosphinxes and their half-blue-dragon leader.
Thus apprised of the situation, the Amazons head off with Leo for the
sphinxes' mountain lair.
After study of the cave mouth and the two hieracosphinxes guarding it, a
ninja-style assault is ruled out, so Our Heroines (and Leo) fall back on
magic to sneak past the guards. Passing ethereally through the mountain,
they emerge in a cavern with several more sphinxes, including one
particularly large and blue specimen, but also with several barred cells
containing an assortment of young women and a gynosphinx.
Battle is joined! Leo rends one of the hieracosphinxes limb from
limb immediately in honor of his lady love, and despite the half-dragon
sphinx's ferocity, things seem to be going well on other fronts... until
the huge sapphire-scaled dragon rises from beneath the sands!
Few can withstand such a sight, and Elsa's rescuers are sadly no exception.
Gabrielle teleports herself and Alyra out of the dragon's lair, and
Amaryllis takes Leo to the mountaintop as well. With no capacity to
spare for Fresa, they have to leave her behind, but she encases herself
in a bubble of stone which resists the blue sphinx's claws long enough
for Amaryllis to return for her. The dragon rushes from the cave to
intercept those foolish enough to invade its lair, but even with magical
quickness the long way around is slow enough that it arrives just as
Amaryllis is bundling everyone into the pocket dimension and closing the
gate. It makes one strafing run before she vanishes, but her magical
protections absorb the lightning bolt harmlessly, and she thumbs her
nose at it.
No fool, the dragon dives back to its cave and slithers in, but again
is not quite fast enough: Elsa refuses to leave without her friend
Kalida, so in a frantic flurry of magic and lock-picking, the Amazons
gather up all the captives into their pocket dimension and teleport away
moments before the dragon reaches them.
In the common room of Amaryllis's favorite inn in Tigris, the patrons
are quite astonished to see a beautiful halfling appear out of thin air
and open a magical doorway from which several other moderately
attractive females and one very lucky male tumble.
After a few stiff drinks, things get sorted out. It seems that the
dragon was collecting virgins to go with its treasure (although there is
some doubt as to its discernment). Leo finally manages to introduce
himself to the beauteous Elsa, who is not overly impressed with his
prowess but has to admit that he did bring heroines to rescue her, and
flies off with him to find someplace to stay outside the smelly human
city. Kalida, warlord of Karral, and her fellow Karralians, want to
return home as soon as possible, but are willing to wait a day or two
for Kalida to meet with Princess Lisbet.
Sadly, Lisbet is no longer much in favor with her siblings, so she
sends a messenger to summon Kalida (with Amaryllis and Alyra as escort)
to a midnight meeting. Kalida agrees to help save the world, so plans
for her departure are moved up a bit. Anyway, the Amazons strongly
suspect they will need to find and excavate the lost city buried beneath
Karral's sands to continue gathering the five artifacts of prophecy, and may
have to eliminate the dragon as well.
* * *
Notes to self:
- Next time people need to be scooped into the dimension of camping,
keep one of them outside to open and close the gate so Amaryllis can
devote her actions to spell-casting
- Rent apartments in every city we've been to, so Amaryllis has
somewhere to teleport to without making the locals spill their drinks
- If Fresa can't find boots of striding and springing, at least get
her some potions of Expeditious Retreat
- Stock up on potions and scrolls for the new Heward's Handy Haversack,
which holds 120 pounds of stuff and always has what you need on top
* * *
After allowing Al and Sherilyn to stuff us even more full of tasty
food, we scuttled back to Mountain View without incident.