So here we are, in a distant land if not another world, branded, sold, considered like goods… But at least I’m with my wife and the companions that we met in Punjar, all but the drow. And the one that replaced him is not going to be a friend. While he is dealing with the papers, we have some time to consider what we may want to do. I’d like to take on this dark elf, but my companions consider that without weapons it’s not an option. I’d rather die fighting, even without a weapon than being a slave. But I must be quiet to protect my beloved Joelle.
I exchange a few words with one of the guards that is close to us, trying to get some information on where we might be. He knows no Punjar or Aereth, he says that the world we’re on is called Toril. I’ve felt that the magic seemed different here, like we were in another place. I’ve learned a few things about the planes during my apprenticeship with the elves, but not enough to know exactly where Toril would be.
After that we are taken in a dressing area where we are given some armor. Slaves in armor? This sounds strange. Are we going to a dangerous place? I mean, more dangerous than a place with elemental-like beings that enslave people from other worlds…
In my armor, I find a piece of paper, written in elven. It says – Don’t do anything rash. When we are out of sight of the city you will get your gear back. I have been sent to rescue you all. – R.
I keep the note in his armor wondering what this means. Friend or foe, I cannot put my trust in anybody but my wife. And maybe my companions, even if I don’t really know them that well. After donning the armor, we’re put in manacles (arms and feet). We have to climb into a cart (which is not easy with the manacles) pulled by a donkey, driven by the drow. I ask him where he’s taking us. He says that we’re going to see our masters, pointing the brand on my arm and that he doesn’t have time to talk now.
The cart is covered and we cannot see the outside, but the various noises imply that we are leaving the city. When the noises all around us are no more than a memory and only the wind of the desert can be heard, the drow stops the cart and tells us to get out. The heat of the desert is almost unbearable and the manacles burn on my flesh.
“I’m sure you have several questions.” says the drow. “We’re still near the city. I suggest you get out of your bindings quickly.” He tosses me a key. “It’s for the collar of your friend,” he says pointing Robinn. We are all unlocked and… free.
“You’ll find your equipment, weapons, rations, and a healing potion each in the wagon. I suggest you get your stuff and keep up,” adds the drow.
We get our stuff and go back in the cart, puzzled by what happened, too surprised to react. We grab our belongings and everything. We’re in the wagon. I try to ask questions to the drow but he says he’ll explain at night. When we stop, I help him to set up the camp, trying to gauge this man who was the one that put the paper in my armor.
Once the camp is setup, I try to talk with the drow to get some information. He’s gruff and not very talkative but I manage to get some idea of what we’re doing here. He’s part of the Orion Group; they are a group of ‘rebels’ against the Genasi, the elemental-like people. He said that we’re supposed to be champions that have been brought here to fight them, or at least help the Orion Group to fight them. He says also that our branding will grant us passage and will serve as identification documents, but as we’ll be in a safe place they will be removed. Thanks be to Kord, my wife’s pretty butt will get back to normal…
He’s not ready to say more. We’ll have to wait to reach our destination to exactly know what’s happening to us. The next morning we get back on the cart. It takes 3 days to get to our destination. I sit up front with the drow talking about the history of Calimshan, to try to get a better understanding of our situation. That’s Military 101 – knowing your surroundings, the history, the fighting forces, etc. J oelle doesn’t seem very happy that I talk with the drow, but this is for the greater good. I’m sure she’ll understand.
After the 3 days trip, we arrive in the morning in Almraiven, a very big city, surrounded by a forest. This is a big change from the desert and it seems that no Genasi dwell here. We see a lot of humans and practitioners of magical arts. We are directly led to a big meeting hall to see the elders of the city. The drow introduces us as the people that fit the profile, but he implies that we are small fry and that something is wrong. Then he leaves with one of the elder.
The remaining one tells that his name is Micah and asks us to follow him in his office where he’ll answer our questions. We go in a smaller room where he sits behind a desk a motions us to sit.
“Let me explain to you why you’re here. We’re Orion – the last remaining free humans in Calimshan. About 100-200 years ago there was a magical explosion known as the spellplague. When it happened, a prison that held two beings of great power was destroyed. Calimshan used to be ruled by the humans. The beings caused the Genasi from around Toril to come to Calimshan. They overthrew us and have enslaved our people.”
Robinn interrupts, asking if it’s why they chose to enslave people from outside their realm to help fight against the slavers. Micah looks embarrassed and goes on with his explanation.
Almraiven is the premier center for magical research. They think they have the power to fight back. In their studies, they have found an ancient text that explains that they should find and locate champions to help them meet our goals and one ritual of summoning to get those heroes. It sounded like a prophecy and they have decided that every little bit of help could be good. Apparently the ritual didn’t work properly. They were supposed to summon the most powerful champions to end the Genasi reign, but it seemed – sorry for the insult – that it didn’t work.
I tell them that we are sorry that we are not as good as expected. They can just send us back and try to get better champions if they think it will help them. He looks even more embarrassed than before when he says that were a little hasty in their process and don’t really have a way to send us back home. I tell Micah that as this seems to be a town with a lot of magical knowledge, we’ll try to find our way home and we won’t bother them.
We are put up in a very nice inn, for free. We walk around the town, trying to get to know this place that will be our home while we find our way to Punjar. My thoughts are still for my family. What is happening to them while I’m here? But brooding won’t help us, so we try to learn thing about this place. In Faerun, magic was once contained by the Weave. Upon the death of Mystra, the local Goddess of Magic, the Weave exploded causing a massive change in Toril, the Spellplague. Maybe this is what cause the problem in the ritual. Maybe we can try to restore things, find the real heroes and get back home.
At the end of the day in Almraiven, a messenger is waiting for us at the inn, asking us to go to the meeting area. Three wizards are waiting for us, the two elders from yesterday and a new one. They confirm my idea that the ritual was damaged during the Spellplague. And for them, the ritual chose us. Not the result I was expecting… According to them (and the Gods and the Planes then), we are the saviors of Calimshan.
I want to go back home and I want the elders to fix the situation. They say that this is the will of the Gods and let us time to think about it. Robinn is the only one in the group that is not eager to go back to Aereth and particularly Punjar. He’s wondering what’s for us if we stay.
The elders offer us weapons, money, a free house as a base of operation. They say that will try to find a way to send us back home, and ask us to consider helping them meanwhile. We don’t agree on anything yet as I want to find by myself if what they say is true. We try look at the ritual but we’re so sleepy we can’t make sense of it. It will take time to find the answers.
We go to bed and get some sleep at the inn, waiting for a house to be set up for us. The next morning we check out the ritual again, trying to get as much information as possible. I try to use my knowledge of the Arcane to understand our situation and exchange ideas with Joelle. By the end of the day, we reach the same conclusion: it was definitely the gods that chose us. For some reason, the gods chose us to help the Orion Group to free Calimshan from the Genasi.
This is time for us to try to do something. Only the will of the Gods will take us home. We go to get our markings removed, and traveling papers. They won’t work everywhere, and as a human, I should avoid Genasi patrol and cities. The Genasi hate Almraiven… but it seems that their ranks are not as strong as they used to be.
The prison that shattered held a djinn and an efreet. Both are enemies and rule over a genasi tribe. The Genasi hold on Calimshan is tenuous at best. If we get the two Genasi tribes to fight each other we can get them to destroy themselves. I fear that they’ll use the slaves to fight for them which doesn’t seem to bother Robinn. We’re in a tricky situation. It’s time to plan for battle, and this what I was born to do…