After a nice rest in the lizard man village, Andra was questioned by the lizard men. They expected that he would be better at their ways. Andra pondered what he’d lost. They also said that they’d heard Adrienne the Fire Witch of Tatalia was nearby. Andra remembered her from his time in Vorion, when she’d aided him, van Rijn, and Ariel when they were fighting with Lords Quick and Steiner. Setting out on the mission, the group was led by one eerily named Korbac to the site of an ambush. There they found a discarded and partially disassembled ballista along with mostly eaten human remains… and a pennon of the hapless Gerwulf… what happened here with the rakshasa was anyone’s guess. Andra suggested that Korbac should attempt to tame the serpent flies.
At this point at the crossroads there waited an armored figure on the back of a great black-coated destrier. The figure had the eightfold arrows of Chaos emblazoned on his chest, but a flag of truce flying. He indicated that his master, a Lord Steiner, desired to parlay. He demanded oaths “in the name of The Gray Lords, in the old fashion” but nobody knew who they were. Ariel wondered if The Reiga—-the mysterious artist that was on Hest, who had reappeared more than once—-was one.
After some deliberation, the Warrior led the group towards a camp containing a massive pavilion. There were two hill giants tending an ogre roasting over a firepit. In addition there were several uncomfortable looking yuan ti waiting outside.
Waiting inside were yet more yuan ti, including the hapless yuan ti sorceress who had escaped from several fights, and the corpulent Lord Steiner, unwelcome and seemingly none the worse for wear despite last being seen torn apart by the Adamantine Golem of Law in Vorion, a world away. Steiner was accompanied by a pale looking woman he introduced as Nostalia. In addition, the hapless Joliffe, agent of the Mercane, was chained up to his chair. Lord Steiner happily greeted the group, offering food and drink, which were refused. He also inquired whether “the lovely Ariel” would have sex with him and Nostalia, but that too was refused. He mused about having met Andra in a different incarnation as Kong Ming. He wanted them to swear by “the Dead God Darnizhaan”… who was possibly the Gargantuan Gorilla. Steiner was, whatever else, consistent as a source of information, albeit often unwelcome information. Steiner also indicated that van Rijn would come to a “greater understanding” and come to join him in his acknowledgment of Gaurak the Glutton, the Lord of Chaos that Steiner served.
He seemed to want the group to take Joliffe and promise to depart this world. Knowing that no deal of Steiner’s was a particularly good one, this was refused. Haggling went back and forth about the exact meaning of it, until Andra, tiring of the discussion, decided to cut the Gordian knot and take Joliffe, hoping that he’d found a loophole in the truce, although he realized he’d need to move mundanely as the entire pavilion was under a Teleportation Ward.
Alas, the yuan ti, ever treacherous, attacked first, an invisible assassin stabbing van Rijn, poisoning the Freiporter. She then leapt over to be adjacent to Ariel, hoping to damage her and preventing spellcasting. The battle was joined, with the quick-witted Zell aggressively attacking the assassin, cutting her and getting into a flanking position with Ariel.
Steiner was unsurprised and backed away with Nostalia, fingering his cane, carved with many devouring insects with the head of a gaping maw. He indicated that the yuan ti were fools and seemed to indicate that he would not participate in the fight. Nobody wanted to attack him lest he join the fight, unleashing his deadly Creeping Doom. He held off for now.
The yuan ti were nearly enough, however. There were two large yuan ti abominations there, the sorceress, and the ones outside, along with the assassin.
The assassin tried to kill Ariel, thinking she was vulnerable, but not reckoning with displacement. The abominations meleed Andra, who had the freed Joliffe and Wendeam, trying to block their escape. The sorceress tried to attack Andra with Magic Missiles but was foiled by his Minor Globe of Invulnerability which protected him and Joliffe. Ariel’s fractal blade sliced into them, and killed several of the lesser histachii along with damaging the abomination and halfbreed. Andra fireballed the north half of the pavilion. Steiner winced but did nothing. van Rijn used some of the herbal remedies given by the villagers to stave off the poison and leapt over towards the assassin.
The battle continued, with Ariel continuing to cut them down with the fractal blade after the pureblood assassin and sorceress were both killed, using it to block out the halfbreed and remaining histachii. However, the abomination meleeing Andra hit hard, and in a series of blows, felled Andra, who was near death. Some timely elixir from Wendeam saved him. Eventually the last yuan ti were dispatched, though the fight was up close and desperately bloody.
The group parted from Steiner, who, true to his word, allowed them to depart….