Episode 5 – Of Green Smoke and Sorcery

Mid-Sojourn, Year of the Wolf

Two days had passed since Geoff the Mighty and Raven had freed N’Dula from the strange black caravan parked some distance outside Kularni. They had been searching for a supply of Khav for N’Dula, and also keeping a wary eye out for Sergeant Vilir. It was some relief that Geoff saw Drogo, Galadiir and Spark enter through the main gates.

After they sought out Gallmus and handed over a good part of their earnings from the caravan job to him. Geoff told them what had happened and introduced N’Dula. N’Dula and Drogo eyed each other up and decided that they were allies. N’Dula was visibly beginning to suffer as they had been unable to find a source of Khav in the town; it was outlawed by Kerim Shah the Governor. They decided to raid the caravan; Galadiir was interested in obtaining anything sorcerous.

Drogo announced that he had a plan and they rode out to the caravan. It was as Geoff remembered, six black wood wagons drawn by chained slaves, surrounding a seventh wagon. Drogo rode Deneris to the edge of the circle and on through, up to the centre wagon. He knocked on the door.

“Wake up! I, Khal Drogo, wish to make a trade. A box of your finest Khav in return for this man, Geoff the Mighty”

“WHAT!” yelled Geoff! “What sort of plan is that?”

A small grille opened in the door of the wagon and a deep voice said, “The trade is acceptable. Put the man with the slaves and move back beyond the ring of wagons.” Drogo did so, “I hope you know what you’re doing”, muttered Geoff. The door opened and a black-robed figure placed a box on the ground, and then returned to the wagon, throwing up into the air a globe of the green smoke. The smoke expanded into a ring.

“Now!” yelled Drogo and spurred Deneris forward, scooping up the box. Alas, Geoff failed to react in time and the green smoke engulfed him, causing him to fall fast asleep (perhaps it would have helped if Drogo had indicated to Geoff exactly what the plan was). However, the ring of smoke now surrounded the caravan, Drogo was trapped inside, Geoff was asleep in the smoke and the others were outside the ring.

The chimney of the centre wagon belched out two of the Smoke Snakes; Drogo used his net to snare Geoff and pull him into the centre. Galadiir cast his “Wall of the Dead” (Barrier), consisting of the souls of everyone he has ever killed, to block the chimney.

One of the Smoke Snakes attacked Drogo and Deneris, the other attacked the group outside the ring of smoke. It went for Galadiir, who summoned his Army of the Dead (Summon Ally), which is the two Caldeian soldiers he killed earlier.

Finding that the wood of the wagon was very resistant to damage, Drogo used Deneris to try and push the wagon over. A brilliant burst of green light from inside the wagon shattered the Barrier spell on the chimney. The Snakes belched their green gas but no-one was affected, although there were a few close calls. They realised that blunt weapons were needed to kill the Snakes; Galadiir cast another “Wall of the Dead” to block the chimney again to stop them being reinforced, then a flurry of attacks took out both Snakes.

The door to the centre wagon was locked and there was no answer. Galadiir picked the lock and the door opened. Inside was a single room, lit by three green lanterns on each wall. In the ceiling was a chimney; in the centre of the floor was a copper bowl with carvings round the rim. The bowl was filled with a green mist. Galadiir recognised the script as being Aklo, a language that was old when the Keronian Empire flourished. As Drogo entered, a black-robed figure at the far end spoke.

“Why did you attack me? Was our trade not sufficient?”

Being totally at a loss for words to this, Drogo responded by throwing his net at the figure. The net clattered against the far wall of the wagon. The figure had gone. Searching the wagon, they found a handful of green gems and another box of six doses of Khav. Drogo, with Galadiir’s help, found a secret compartment under the bowl. Inside was a skeleton, clad in mouldering black robes. A cry came from outside. Slowly, and without fuss, the slaves were rising to their feet and pulling the wagons out to the west. They let them go, being unsure what to do.

The following day, having rested, they headed north into the hills, looking for the Eye of Cissirrus. N’Dula was full of high spirits and walked with Drogo. Drogo checked the box of Khav, one dose was missing. Drogo vowed to do something about curing his addiction.

Dawn of the following day saw them looking down on a lush wooded area. Far off in the distance they could see a ridge. They reached the ridge by midday, in the cliff was cut an archway. There was a faint smell of brimstone. They tied the horse up outside, Deneris was left to wander as Drogo knew she would come when called.

Inside, a sloping passage led to a large, rough-hewn chamber that smelt strongly of brimstone. A dark archway was to the right; ahead another archway glowed with the reflected light of a fire. In the centre of the chamber was a rectangular pool of water, like a swimming pool. Geoff and Galadiir moved to go round the pool; a chorus of screams broke out and six young women, clad in short orange tunics, burst into the chamber. Two ran at Geoff and two at Galadiir. Geoff stared goggle-eyed as one of them disrobed, leaving herself totally naked. He was so distracted that he failed to see the other woman pull a wavy-bladed dagger. He only noticed when she plunged it deep into his side, causing a Wound. The other pair tried the same tactic on Galadiir, he was not so affected and the blade missed. He threw himself backwards, avoiding the sweeping blade and cast “Rose’s Thorns” on the other two women, who went down. Drogo decided to use the same tactic in reverse and, dropping his loincloth, ran at the woman attacking Geoff, readying his weapon as he did so. The woman just snorted in derision and struck at Geoff again. Spark attacked the woman who was trying to get to Galadiir and killed her, Galadiir cast ‘Rose’s Thorns” and took down another two, Drogo, smarting at the comments made, swung at the last woman. To his surprise, she made no attempt to defend herself and died, her body falling into the water of the pool.

Galadiir used his Healing skill on Geoff and healed his Wound.

To be continued…



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