the dervish came to us then, & warned us to flee. which we did, comparing & swapping spells in order to try to make our retreat from the world before the dragon could, if you will pardon the expression, make wyrms meat of us. that lasted, oh, a couple of days. the fight with glassmaker than was anti-climactic, with her lingering only to attack with her breath weapon & then retreat. that is, until we saw the dust storm coming & realized that she had killed our camels with her fire & ruined our food & water stores. since the shaman can make food & water, we were not completely doomed, but under blistering one hundred & seventy (170) degree sunlight & with the looming threat of the dragon's return, we were less than happy. aer'lith's pleas with his friend & patron, the friendly neighbor, were unable to help, though demios at that point hadn't really damaged relations. the gift of a few camels by water fat travelers was helpful, but only in hastining us towards the inevitable confrontation.
forty (40) miles from the gate off this world, glassmaker came. corwyn, through some device, had learned her true name, & was able to speak with her for a moment, but only enough to realize that no reasonable option was presented. he could allow her to kill neros, who had left a patch of the skin of the dragon we were earlier forced to kill, in her treasure vault; basically, the equivelent of stapling your baby's head to the wall of your rec room. or, if neros was corwyn's mate, to allow her to kill the other two of us. demios, sick of all this verbal contest which clearly went nowhere, had used his magic to prepare for battle, & launched into it. he had bull strength, cats grace, enlargement, mage armor, elemental resistance, jump, & fangs of the vampire king cast on himself, so he dove onto her back, biting & poisoning her, while webbing himself between her wings. meanwhile, corwyn was face to face, & at times arm-in-mouth with glassmaker, while neros waded in with her enchanted axe. eventually, demios used the spell lahm's finger darts to tear his fingers from his hands, sending them wriggling through her body like unwholesome maggots, decreasing her dexterity by 8d4, total. this put her down, missing an eye from corwyn, & generally battered from neros. aer'lith, the pacifist, had kept out of it but to jump in at opportune times to heal those who had been badly wounded.
with a paralyzed dragon, badly wounded, on our hands, there was debate on what to do. aer'lith of course wanted to allow the dragon to live. demios, perhaps surprisingly, also sided on the side of letting the dragon live, though he phrased it diffrently. he said to leave the dragon to the desert the way it had left the party stranded, to leave it scarred & remembering. he, of course, had another, ulterior motive, which arose somewhat later. neros wanted it dead. the end. no questions, taking its head to make sure it stayed dead. corwyn was willing to let it live if it swore an oath not to harm us, but despite aer'lith's assuance that she had swore, remained unconvinced. at an impass for some time, it was finally decided to let fate take hand, & we flipped a coin. & the dragon lived- at least, until something in the desert came to finish it.
which was what demios was waiting for. he had been followed for some time by the emissaries of pagnasmol that he had invoked, & had been waiting for an opportune time to get rid of them. seeing his chance, he took it. he explained to them that the lieutenant of the whirling dervish had been incapacitated, & told them to leave him. he had meant to go report to their superiors, to simply leave him. he had meant for the dervish to be able to perhaps heal glassmaker, to preserve the balance between the ethereal hosts & the spirts of the world. he had meant to play both sides against the middle to his own advantage. oops.
the largest storm concievable came then, as the emmisaries departed immediately to attack the dervish. & it came for me. with no hands to dig with or cast spells with(since i'd shot my fingers into the dragon, & the regrow only one a day) i was left to rely on others. & in the end, lost four permanent points of constitution for my foolishness. which is what happens when you are between the rock & the hard place & tell both of them to go fuck themselves.
finally, though, we were back in relief. aer'lith & i outlined some of the underlying principles & principals of the spiritual war going on, & the stakes. the stakes being the continued exsistance of material worlds & life; the players being the ethereal hosts (the demons) & the spirits of the worlds. i also revealed that a gnome had become one of the ethereal denizens, somehow, & that the spirits of the worlds are not strong enough to stand against the hosts, & will inevitably fall. there was discussion on my plan to travel to the homeworld of the donation of mane, which is ruled by a demon, & to tear down the walls between the worlds just to see what happens- doing it in a donation world so that if the consequences were dire, they would be mane's to deal with. not wanting to go off without knowing somewhat what we were doing, let alone with no idea how to accomplish it, we made of list of worlds with people who were still alive & key historical figures when the wall went up. the list we came up with was rustmrik, god-king of the goblins on hollowhaunt, the metamorphysician(s) on device, & lord dust of toxic. of these, the first is a mad god-emperor who swept across the worlds with a green horde of murderous goblins, the next a giagantic magical ameobae responsible for the creation of numerous species, & the last an ancient vampire necromancer who has constructed a flesh-collosus. also we found that corwyn's heraldric diaper was a fake, & he encountered mielal, who apparently shared a common ancestory with him, by possessing dragon blood. so first to his home world, pristine, to ask his surrogate father some pointed questions.
the party as it stands is thus.
demios, an ettercap level nine (9) wizard, level two (2) servitor of pagnasmol, level one (1) spell siphon. he has only recently began to view himself as a real person, & has thrown off a great deal of the psychological trauma he suffered when the nature of pagnasmol was revealed to him. he does not like nor trust the spirits of the worlds, & is starting to believe that if anyone is going to deal with the problem of the ethereal denizens, it will have to be someone like he & his friends. when, last session, he dismissed a bit of history because it was "before we came," it was wondered- did he mean the demonic hosts of the ethereal, or the creation of the ettercaps by the metamorphysicians? now, back in relief, he has the chance to get back in contact with his cult- though i like to think of it more as a support group with an aggresive agenda. so which way will he go?
neros, a human level seven (7) rouge, five (5) graver, level one (1) ranger. the thief who realized that more than taking people's things she liked...well, neat things, & became an archeologist. she is now more laura croft than ever, wielding a gnomish dueling pistol in each hand.
aer'lith, an elf shaman level eleven (11), druid level one (1). aer'lith is, at seven hundred (700), the oldest first generation citizen of relief. his friend & patron, the friendly neighbor, sent him to the seas of dust to look after neros & try to avoid problems with the dragons. right now recovering somewhat from a nervous breakdown in which he slapped neros, perhaps the most violent action he has ever taken in his life.
corwyn, a human (?) ranger level ten (10) & dragon disciple two (2). corwyn, grown up amongst the woods & jungles of pristine, is only now realizing that the man who raised him, lukas, concealed some startling truths from him. standing unscathed in the brunt of the dragon glassmaker's fire, & speaking her tongue, he learned something about himself. already his body begins to change, as things he never realized he was missing begin to manifest.