“Ahhh-chooo”, I had sneezed at least a hundred times since I sat down to research in what must be the dustiest tomes and scrolls in the temple’s library. I bet some of them hadn’t been touched, much less looked at in 50 years or more; most likely due to the obscurity of my subject. While tales of The Spelljammer abound in pub, spaceport, inn and tavern from Grayspace to well, Sigil actual written and verified accounts are not so easy to come by, sigh. At least I had access to writing materials again. I’d had to use my scrolls for tinder in Borovia. (I really should write down as much as I can remember about those hellish days when I have moment.)
After the initial titters and scoffs upon my arrival and initial request for all information relating to The Spelljammer for the most part everyone had been fairly helpful. The older priests listed reference materials and the acolytes dutifully found them and carted them over to me. One even offered to scribe for me for the first four hours but soon abandoned the fruitless search in favor of something a bit less redundant like peeling potatoes. I stretched and walked around a bit when a knock sounded and an acolyte who had been on door duty shuffled in and announced “I believe she’s with you” before hastily shuffling back out again. It was Kenari. I’d been at this for 7 hours and I was tired and famished to go with the frustration. I told Kenari that I’d secured a room and meals for us here and showed her to the quarters appointed to me. It was a simple room, utilitarian with a table and chairs, a desk and 4 bunks. I requested food from the kitchen and soon a servant appeared with some type of roasted game bird, bread, cheese and what appeared to be root vegetables in a cheese sauce. It was delightful and I was beginning to feel human again. I noticed but didn’t remark on it when Kenari smuggled some of the leftovers into her pack. Our previous experiences make such actions prudent, you just never know.
I like Kenari, she’s handy with her bow and she whacked two peoplewolfies, I mean weres, with her gauntlet. (For some strange reason I hear a lot of cursing and stamping in my head when I say “peoplewolfies”) I like our whole party for the most part, in as much as I can like a group of people that, with the exception of Vedis, I know nothing about. The sorceress gives me pause tho, perhaps because we are each others antithesis, or perhaps because of the snarky tone she takes when she speaks to us sometimes. The sword for hire seems fine but is just as closed lipped as Saphira; I suppose that’s to be expected in his line of work. Anyway, Kenari looks like a cat just human sized, I’ve seen a few like her but only at a distance. She’s striking with her tall build and pretty spotted fur, she’s also very distracted by anything shiny. I caught her looking at the Mimir as soon as she came in the room.
“What’s that” she asked.
“That’s the Mimir; a recording device for people who traveled through the Outer Planes. It’s their impressions and experiences but it isn’t necessarily truthful or factual” I replied, adding “Please don’t ask it anything, its rather annoying.”
“Uh, do you think I could ask it where my Gods have gone?”
“I guess but I don’t know if it can answer you, seems like it only knows how to introduce itself and say ‘I do not have possess that information’ ”, I sighed.
“Well, can I ask”, she insisted.
“Sure, go ahead”
“Ahhh, could you tell me where my Gods have gone” she stammered earnestly.
The Mimir began to glow and rose up in the air, shaking slightly. Kenari was mesmerized, I wasn’t so impressed. I had see this show before, it wasn’t necessarily indicative that he possessed any useful information. Its voice boomed “I do not possess that information.”
Poor Kenari, she looked so crushed though she tried not to. I suppose I don’t understand her obsession with finding her long-lost Gods. Then again mine seldom sends an avatar into these realms or interacts with us except through our spells of course. He only wishes us to travel, to explore and discover just as he does. It seems like if the Gods that were once so present just disappeared, perhaps they either don’t want to be found or can’t. But, what do I know of her world anymore than she knows of a spaceport.
She asked me about spaceports and spaceships and how they fly. I gave a general explanation of how it works and how the ships fly. I kept it short as I noticed her eyes kept straying down to my waist and hip.
“What is that shiny thing you picked up” she purred.
Excitedly, I began to explain the Fist of Emirkol I’d found around the neck of a peoplewol..erk, I mean a were. How it worked and that it was a minor relic and how one use can make it disappear.
She stopped me and said, “That’s nice but I meant those”, she was pointing to my twin dragon pistols slung about my hips. “Do you think I could play with, I mean that you could teach me to fire them?”
“Sure, I guess” I huffed “but you’re so good with the bow it probably wouldn’t take long”
We were going to go out to the courtyard but the priests were teaching some sort of class out there. So, somehow Kenari persuaded me to set up the target in the Great Hall. She promised we wouldn’t damage anything with the arrows and that she wouldn’t fire the pistols inside, she just wanted to play with them.
About an hour later Vedis strolled in and was greeted with such a spectacle as I’m sure hadn’t been seen in such hallowed halls. About half a dozen arrows protruded from the target, unfortunately at least as many if not more had connected with the woodwork, the balustrade, the rug and the even the ear of the stuffed, what-ever-it was beastie, that hung over the mantle. Just as I saw her and was about to call out a greeting a familiar, deafening KABOOM rattled the foundation. I should have known better. There on the floor about 10 feet back was Kenari, knocked on her ass, arms still in the air with this gleeful expression on her face. Then the shouts of “What the F*CK was that” screeched from the priest’s quarters. Ah hell, we we’re in for it now.
A full twenty minutes of patient explanations, entreaties, cajoling, apologies, and absolutions later the proverbial feathers had been smoothed and we were still allowed to stay with the understanding that we would “Put those damn things away”. We were shuffled into an anteroom but not before we saw the bevy of acolytes flashing huge grins and thumbs-up signs. We asked for three bottles of wine and some foodstuffs and proceeded to catch each other up as what we had discovered.
I explained to Kenari and Vedis that the actual date about The Spelljammer was fragmented, though the descriptions were fairly consistent beginning nearly 1,000,000 years ago when humanoids began space travelling. Whether sightings were considered good or ill varied from culture to culture for example it was the sighting of The Spelljammer in Greyspace only 10 years ago that heralded the beginning of the Greyhawk Wars in Greyspace. An interesting notation was that whenever any God was questioned about the spelljammer, they fell silent. Also noteworthy were the unsubstantiated and periodic references to an Ultimate Helm. It took different forms from a ring, to a cloak, to a mark but it enabled the bearer to captain The Spelljammer. It also could be considered a death knell as the bearer was soon parted posthumously from his prize, posthaste, which would disappear again into obscurity.
Vedis told us of how she found the Temple of Morpheus after a misadventure with a Gnome named Ruprect and her subsequent fortuitous meeting with the popular and pulchritudinous Kylie, a tiefling guide. (It just figured that the best guide for Sigil would be a tiefling). After she entered the temple and wandered in the mist for a time she finally found the altar, covered with all manner of trinket and treasure offerings. After a short inventory she figured there was nothing she had she could afford to part with except a few gold coins. She placed them on the altar and after a few minutes gave a silent prayer for guidance in her dreams. She turned to leave and suddenly the mists parted for the form of a manta ray with a gleaming city upon its back, frozen in her tracks the smoky form of The Spelljammer passed through her chest. After which she made her way back to my temple. She conveyed that she felt her God had sent her on a quest to find the Spelljammer. I pointed out that since we all now wore the same mark it was likely that the rest of us were on the same quest.
After the wine and food were served by an acolyte named Devon our conversation winded from our individual experiences in the mist, our arrival in Borovia to our impressions of the journey thus far. Devon asked about our brands and asked if we had gotten them somewhere on Sigil. I replied “No, we got them There and now they’re Here.” This puzzled her a bit I think. Kenari asked about procuring a map of Sigil which Devon stated she felt sure she purchase one for us from a mapmaker for about 6gp which Vedis and I gave her. She joined us for a few rounds of wine and complemented us on our earlier distraction. Kenari teased me about always bickering with Sapphira and I railed back about her falling for my enthrall spell. By this time at least two of the bottles were empty and we’d begun to drain the third.
I don’t remember which one of us grabbed a pillow off the bench and swung the first blow but the next thing I knew feathers were a-flyin. It was at this point Devon made a hasty exit. Whap! I felt a stinging smack to the back of my head as Vedis connected. (That’s it, chick, friend or no, you’re goin’ down.) I wound up and with a solid whump knocked her on her sash covered ass and with the backswing knocked the kitty’s ears flat. Of course, in my inebriated state the swings had me slightly off balance and a bit giggly. All of a sudden, Vedis was up and swung her own roundhouse caught Kenari right in the midsection, “OOOPH”. Vedis clutched her own belly and began to snicker. With a pounce Kenari had Vedis on the floor and was tickling her. Vedis flipped her off and reversed their positions but not for long. Within seconds Kenari was back on top and I wound up to swing as this was far too good and opportunity to pass up. Sadly, again due to the wine I unbalanced myself and in my spin missed Kenari and sent my pillow sailing past the ear of Ef Utan who stood taking up most of the doorway. His arms crossed over his breastplate with a smirk on his lips and amusement in his eyes.
We offered him the rest of the wine, which wasn’t much and some food. He said that he’d also asked around about The Spelljammer and it had been suggested that we keep our marks covered and that an expert on the Prime might be able to help. Vedis suggested that Kylie might be able to help locate one in the morning. At that point we staggered off to our sleeping quarters leaving behind a wake of feathers, wine bottles, dinner remains and shards of broken crockery. Within moments of our heads touching the pillows we were all sound asleep.
It only seemed as if an hour, two at most had passed before Devon pounded on the door. Groans of pain erupted as she bustled into the room and threw open the drapes. Light exploded into the room, searing my eyes and causing rainbows of agony to arc inside my skull. I silently began a simple healing chant and the diamond points of pain began to ease. I cracked open my eyes and when no new further agonies ensued I looked to our student de Sade. She had brought with her three bags which she placed on the table saying they belonged to us. The first was full of feathers, which upon remembering the antics of the previous evening made me grin. The second contained the maps we had requested. The third contained the remains of an urn depicting Celestian and starmaps set with crystals. Chagrinned, I set upon the spell of Make Whole. I returned the restored urn to Devon who promised to return it to the antechamber and to bring us hot tea, victuals and for Vedis some ale as she’s a subscriber to the “hair of the dog” theory.
Ef Utan explained that Sapphira would be delayed in meeting with us as she was off to find her father and perhaps kill him, again?! We agreed to start looking for an expert on the Prime with Kylie’s help while we waited. Ef Utan stepped out on the street and asked a few people about Kylie and was told word would get to her and she should find us within an hour. Sure enough her reddish pouf bounced up shortly thereafter. Apparently, finding an expert on the Prime didn’t fall into normal sightseeing/guide-like duties and her fee would be 100 gp, no telling what the expert would want. Vedis said she could cover it. Kylie explained that it would take her a bit to locate such a sage and not to expect her until after-peak the following day.
While we were waiting Ef Utan offered to take us on a side trip through a portal. It sounded like a pleasant diversion so we all followed him down the street to a small courtyard. Off in the corner a section of razorvine had snaked over from the wall to wrap itself around a potted thorny palm creating a sharp edged arc beneath. He stopped in front of it, silently chanted for a moment before tossing a small object into the arc. I watched the air shimmer as the portal opened and ever the gentleman he stepped to the side and motioned for us to go first. With a small pop, we stepped into the hustle-bustle of busy street. Smells of ale and bread filled the air as the din of many voices all talking at once hit our ears. Here was an actual sun, unlike the more diffuse indirect light of Sigil. The day was balmy, sunny and breezy. No one seemed to notice our arrival, odd considering we appeared out of nowhere and even I the shortest in the party towered over the quaint little town of gnomes. “Welcome to Bytopia, they make the best cheese” said Ef Utan.
Ef Utan bought some cheese and bread and I purchased some ale and we made our way park to have a picnic. Ef Utan was right, the cheese was amazing. After our repast in the beautiful little park Vedis got the idea to earn some coin. She set out her cap and began to sing, Kenari began to dance and I began to persuade passers-by to watch our little improv performance and part with a few coins. Ef Utan did what he does best, stood around and looked intimidating. I don’t think we were at risk of being robbed but, you never know. After about four hours we had made 47 pieces of Bytopian silver. Ef Utan explained that to Sages in the Prime this was far more valuable due to it’s (to them) extraplanar origin than where we were staying currently and could be traded for all manner of items or information.
We made our way back to the portal which in this instance was where a willow branches arched over an iron fence. This time, I’m guessing because we were returning to Sigil, Ef Utan took point and entered the portal first. It probably saved our lives. No sooner had we stepped thru the portal the three of us girls walked abruptly into his back with a thud-thud-thud. His eyes were fixed on something in the distance, in a low commanding voice he hissed “Come, no questions, be silent, come with me, now!”
We followed him silently, swiftly as we made our way down the street. Heads down trying to be as unobtrusive as possible; we still caught a glimpse of what had Ef Utan so on guard. In the distance, not more than 50 feet away and thankfully not directly in her line of sight stood a female form. She was easily 15ft tall with a collar of razors and blades, vestments of gleaming edged metal and a fair, fierce face crowned with more shiny swordlike blades. The air was rent by the screams and howls of the six mind flayers that were currently being flayed to death by invisible blades, the silence that echoed afterwards chased us back to the Celestian temple. After we were safely ensconced inside I turned to Ef Utan, “Who was that,” I panted.
He explained she was The Lady of Pain, keeper of the Kreigenstanz (the peace between the Factions). “You asked why this was called ‘The Cage’. It’s because the only way to get to Sigil is through a portal and neither Gods nor their Avatars may enter here. The Lady of Pain enforces this and you witnessed one of the ways how. The best you can hope for is that she never notices your existence.” The shadows over his face and the fear in his battle hardened voice made me shiver and send a silent prayer of thanks to Celestian that he was guarding us this day.
Just then a priest bustled in. Since we were looking at staying and since we’d caused such a debacle with the dragon pistols and the drunken pillow fight (how had that gotten around) they took the liberty of adding me to the duty roster. I had KP duty for 3 hours, beginning in about an hour. Oh, joy. I nodded to the priest; it was fair as we were already staying longer than anticipated, if not the most glamorous job. Could have been worse there’s always laundry or cleaning the privies. My compatriots headed for our quarters and I headed to find the kitchen.
A few hours later with an aching back and sore, squidgy hands I made my way to the room as well and soon fell fast asleep.
That morning as we discussed the day’s agenda and where else it might be prudent to poke around for information Kenari suggested we try to find the oldest library and where might it be. I think it was also her suggestion that we ask the Mimir. Upon query it launched into its light show and for once actually had some useful information. The Great Library of Thoth was visited by one whose impressions had been recorded in the Mimir; apparently they became so distracted and enamored by it they forgot what they came to originally research. The Great Library could be found in the Outlands, so we made note to ask some of the priests if they were aware of any stable portals to the Outlands, the Rock of Bral or Greyhawk.
The priests surprisingly weren’t much help. One of them thought he remembered that there might be a stable portal somewhere in middle of the market that led to Spiral, which was in the same system as Bral, but couldn’t remember its exact location or what the key was. It was suggested that we ask Lissandra the Gatekeeper.
As promised just after peak, Kylie appeared and led us through the winding twists Sigil considers streets. She bounced, she shimmied, waved, bounded and sashayed (How she didn’t wiggle herself out of her outfit, what there was of it, I haven’t the foggiest)…For stars sakes it didn’t seem that there was that fiendish city she didn’t know! She led us followed by a sizable crowd of Kylie admirers to a rundown little building owned by the Sage Gezria. He was a small, gaunt yellow-skinned humanoid with grimy nails and swaddled in robes reeking of incense and singed around the edges, Ef Utan said he is a Githzerai whatever that is. In a raspy voice he asked what he could do for some silly Primes. I asked what he knew about The Spelljammer and waited a few minutes for his laughter to subside he saw that I was serious and began to corroborate about 80% of what I’d discovered in the library, including the stories about the Ultimate Helm. Disappointed we turned to leave and he stopped us.
“One last thing”, he croaked. “The oldest story, far older than written language, about The Spelljammer is that of its birthpladce. Somewhere in a place called the Shattered Sphere or the Broken Sphere.” This seemed familiar, and half remembered bits of Thri-Kreen religious poetry surfaced.
‘Thru Wildspace you’re cursed to roam, broken souls in a broken ship
til last you return to the shattered sphere and when all is whole can you return’
Since he’d offered this last little tidbit I decided to take a chance and show him my brand. “Have you ever seen something like this?” With surprising strength he grasped my arm in his clawed fingers and hauled it under his dusty lantern. He scratched, poked, sniffed and licked (Eewh!) the mark on my wrist. When he started reaching for a vial filled with some unknown bubbling green goo I snatched my wrist back. He cackled and when questioned again said nope, never seen the likes but couldn’t wait to tell the boys at the guild about it. Great, just great, I then got the distinct impression he was f*cking with us. And we’d just paid 100 gp to Kylie and then another 100 to this clown. It occurred to me and not for the first time that we should probably make our stay on Sigil as short as possible.
After we’d finished with Gezria we asked Kylie to take us to Lissandra the Gatekeeper. We’d had a thought earlier to find some other portals (Outlands, Greyhawk, Rock of Bral) and now the Shattered Sphere to visit while were waiting for Sapphira to appear. After a short walk we arrived at a nondescript door in a cleaner, more well kept area of town with a line at least 40 deep. At least it seemed to be moving. Kylie assured us we would be in and out quickly, as the process was you wrote your requests in the book and where you could be reached and they got back to you. True enough we were in an out in 15 minutes or so and made our way back to the Temple. Thankfully, I didn’t have KP tonight.
We were just finishing dinner when and acolyte brought us a scroll. Thinking it was from Lissandra we immediately all started talking at once about where we should go first and if we should or shouldn’t continue to wait for Sapphira. Ef Utan thought we should wait, I reasoned that we were only trying to gather information and planned to return to Sigil and could leave word at the Temple for Sapphira that we’d return and when. She did live there and had a place to live after all. Ef Utan reluctantly agreed just as I broke the seal on the scroll and began to read. It wasn’t from Lissandra it was from Sapphira. Apparently, her father had had her thrown in jail but she was finding a loophole in the law and expected to be out shortly, not to worry. Not to worry?!
I looked at Ef Utan, “Did I mention that I’m a bit psychic?”
With at least the mystery of why Sapphira was taking so long solved, we decided to bed down for the evening and wait to hear from the Gatekeeper.