New Year 6097 RTR (1 Feb 1997) The Lalee-Papu goes off course.
(Airship) (Himaat) (Jarik) (The Search for Herbir) (Spheres of Magic) (Sword Gone Missing) (Wynona)

The side of the undercarriage of this weatherbeaten airship reads "Lalee Papu", if you can decipher it between all the bits of peeling paint. The vast airbag that billows above is a multicolored wonder of patches and seams, with sails to match. The outer railing on the deck is broken in places, though boards have been hastily nailed up to prevent accidents. The whole ship, however, looks like an accident just waiting to happen.

The Lalee-Papu has continued onward, in its journey to distant Abu Dhabi. So far, aside from certain unadvertised short trips off the side of the boat by foxes, it has been largely uneventful.

However, the crew seems determined for an event, for it is no ordinary day – It is New Year's Eve. If they were on shore, this would be a time to blow hard-earned shekels on noisemakers and color-fire displays. On an airship, however, with the highly flammable gases that suspend it, those are simply not options.

However, when you have a mage, there are ways … and Wynona seems determined to find them. After spending a long time in a ritual marked out on the deck of the ship, she manages to unleash a rapid-fire series of pops caused by pushing out small spheres of air and then letting them collapse again. The crew, of course, has no idea about the particulars. All they know is that it's magical and it's NOISY, a great combination if ever there was one.

The night is filled with merry-making, dancing, singing and yowling that pretends to be singing. As the midnight time approaches, a riotous cacophony breaks out, with shouts, yells, shrieks, more of Wynona's "explosions" and whistles, and every musical instrument or noisemaker at hand.

The watchmen claim that they can see flashes of light clear back to Rephidim, though that could perhaps just be a lightning strike in a distant (and hopefully receding) storm. Thankfully, though, the weather stays favorable, and there are no reported injuries … far better than can likely be said of the festivities back on Rephidim.

At last, the festivities die down – not with a bang, but with a drunken whimper. Wynona, sprawled in the middle of a runic circle, alternately hiccups and sneezes. Maybe there are no injuries … but Doc Halla is likely to have his door hammered down in a desperate quest for wonder cures for hangovers the next day.

And, indeed, morning, despite the groans and moans of those who want a few more years' worth of sleep to wear off this awful headache, does come.

The sunlight touches on the silhouettes of slumbering forms sprawled in unlikely places on the deck and even in the rigging, prompting winces and hands going up to try to block out the insistent rays.

"Ohhhh," Wynona gravels. "My aching HEAD! Why do I need it anyway? OOoogh. Maybe if I could take it off and put it back on later when it feels better… " *CLUNK* She falls back down on the deck.

Jarik is standing towards the front of this ship, elbow resting on the railing. He's watching the sunrise as they fly onward.

The fox chuckles to himself, "Good morning, Wynona."

The Lalee-Papu plows through a blanket of clouds as if they were waves of a rolling sea. No hint of the ground below can be spied from here.

"That's a matter of OPINION," Wynona moans.

A poodle noble, Kazhir do Varomanov, emerges from the lower deck, looking quite chipper, a bounce in his step. He prods at a nearby slumbering form. "Up and at 'em! It's a new day – a new year! Hi ho! What a beautiful morning!"

Jarik smiles as he watches the clouds, "It is a beautiful sunny day. Quiet and peaceful." He turns and grins at her, "After my last experience with wine, I decided never to touch it again."

Jarik waves to the poodle, "Good morning!"

Wynona slowly sits up, rubbing her temples. "Every New Year's morning, I decide that. And every year, I break my resolution. OOOOOHHHHHH!"

The poodle's smile flickers a bit upon seeing Jarik, but he cheerfully says, "Yes, that it is. Such fine sailing weather, don't you think? I wonder where we are, now? Weather wizard, can you tell me where we are?" he addresses the bat.

Jarik goes and kneels beside Wynona, "Well, I had a major incentive to never touch wine again. Something much worse than a headache happened. Anyway," he offers her a hand, "Let me help you up."

"I'm an air mage, not a weather wizard," the bat protests. "I mean … ohhhh, nevermind. OW. And can't you talk a little less loudly?" She takes Jarik's hand, and stumbles up to a standing position, keeping her eyes closed.

Wynona stumbles over toward the railing. "Excuse me. I think I'm gonna – "

The poodle looks distastefully in the other direction.

Jarik winces, "Look out below… yick."

The white bat coughs. "Bleah. Ahem. Ick. Sorry about that." She wipes at her mouth, eyes still closed, then forces them open, to peer over the edge. "Uh oh. We shouldn't be in this… "

The poodle puts his hands to his waist. "And just what do you mean by that?"

Jarik's ear swivels, "Are we off course?"

The bat looks back. "Uhm… I wouldn't put it exactly that way, but … ah … Let me check a few things. And where is the n – " She almost trips over a slumbering form. "Oh. Here he is. Well, that answers that."

Jarik covers his eyes with his hand, "Ut oh."

The poodle raises his eyebrows. "This, I say, is why I think that airship crewmembers should only be allowed fruit juice. The unfermented sort. In fact, I have been saying this for a long time, and I shall have to use this as an example to my father. Of course, the trouble is, it would be far more impressive if we crashed and all hands on board were lost, but we can't have that just for dramatic effect, naturally."

Jarik goes to the sleeping form Wynona nearly fell on. He kneels down and tries to shake him awake.

The pudgy raccoon – not all of that pudge fluff – swats at Jarik. "Go'way! Go'way! ACK! Put out the light, will ya?"

Jarik acks at the swats but keeps gently shaking him. "Can't do that… it's morning. We need you to navigate, time to wake up… "

Wynona says, "I'm going to have to work on a ritual. Don't anybody disturb me, okay? I'd better start on it before my allergies catch up with me. This will take me about an hour… "

The raccoon groans and protests, crawling on hands and knees along the deck. "Ohhhh! Torture! Torment! Cruelty! Go'way!"

Jarik nods to Wynona, "I'll keep people from bothering you."

Jarik smiles, "Sir, we need you to navigate. Just get up and moving, you'll feel better."

The white bat is already starting some quiet incantations, re-chalking the lines of her magic circle, and arranging components (which are already scattered on the deck) around her.

The raccoon wails, "Augh! Horrors! The agony!" He clasps his head. The others on the deck start grumbling and groaning, awakened from their slumbers by the wailing. Several curse under their breath. Others are a bit more vociferous about it.

Jarik goes about trying to rouse the rest of the crew from their drunken stupor…

The raccoon stumbles his way along, heading for a station toward the back wherein is mounted a compass and some instruments of less obvious purpose.

The fox's popularity is no doubt hitting a new low, but he's managing to get some of the crewmembers roused … and if nothing else, at least some of the more precariously-positioned ones onto safer footing. (Let's just hope nobody fell overboard the night before!)

Jarik looks to the poodle, "Would you help me, please? I could use it to rouse this group… "

The poodle snorts, but then says, "Oh, very well. You said the magic word, at least. If you insist." He runs toward the nearest one and starts booting the big black Vartan in the gut. "Up and at 'em, lazy bird! Come on! Come ON! Don't be such a nestling!"

Jarik's ears flatten, "Gently!"

The Vartan's eyes open, beaming baleful hate at anything in sight, but the poodle has already dashed on. He grabs a bucket and douses a sleeping red- shelled Vykarin. "Yep! Nice cool, soft water! You needed a bath anyway!"

Jarik rubs his temples and goes to help the Vartan up.

The Vykarin yowl-whines, shaking himself as the poodle dashes on. The poodle, having a burst of creativity, puts the bucket down on a sleeping feline's head, then whackwhackwhacks the bucket with a ladle. "Rise and SHINE!!!!!!!!"

The Vartan's eyes snap open to see … Jarik. He abruptly grabs Jarik and yanks him low. "You … DIE… " he rasps.

Jarik shakes his head and checks the Vartan for injuries… Yipe!

Jarik raises a hand, "It wasn't me… calm down. i'm making sure you're okay… "

The rudely awakened cat hisses and shrieks, leaping a couple of feet into the air, grappling onto the rigging. "FSSSSSSST!"

Jarik glances over at the poodle. "Arrogant twit," he mutters.

The big black hippogryph releases Jarik's grip, closing his eyes and moaning. "Go AWAY!" He grumbles, putting his hands to his head, as he staggers to a semi-standing position. "What did you SAY?" he growls.

The Vartan grabs Jarik again. "I don't take to being called a 'twit'," the hippogryph growls through pain-squinted eyes.

Jarik checks the Vartan for injuries, "I'm making sure he didn't hurt you. We need to get people up. We're not where we're supposed to be, according to Wynona. No, not you." He points at the poodle, "Him."

The hippogryph growls, "Sure, sure… " He shoves the fox away again, groaning, returning his attention to his own misery.

Jarik erfs as he lands hard on his back. After a moment he gets back to his feet and goes back to rousing the crew.

The poodle marches up. "What? Did I hear correctly? You called me a twit?!?" He fumes, then yaps, "I COULD HAVE YOU HANGED!" Everyone nearby groans at the poodle's yapping.

Jarik says, "You heard correctly. Your treatment of these people leaves a lot to be desired. Learn to at least treat others with respect and I will treat you with respect, sir."

The poodle balks. "Respect?!? RESPECT?!? Excuse ME, but I don't think there are any conditions on the respect that is due me. YOU, sir, are stepping FAR beyond the bounds of your station," the poodle yaps.

Jarik smiles, "If you want my respect, you have to earn it." With that he heads over to watch Wynona.

Wynona grimly continues with her chanting and rituals, doing her best to ignore the noise all around.

The poodle just stands there, gasping, putting his hands at his waist. "Well – (GASP!) Well I NEVER! Did you hear that? Did you hear that? Did you see how he treated me?"

A nearby wolf moans, "Oh, please, just KILL me, augh! Have mercy! Just go away, I beg you! OOooogh."

The poodle hmphs, and marches back down belowdecks. "This is NOT the end of this… " his voice trails off.

Jarik turns to look at the poodle, "And it won't be the last until you learn that all life is deserving of respect."

*TROMPTROMPTROMPTROMP* "All right, loud mouth! I heard that!" the poodle fumes, as he comes stomping right back up the steps.

Jarik smiles, "You were meant to."

"You just CAN'T let it lie, can you? Oh no! You just have to KEEP right on going. Well, Mister Smarty-Pants-I'm-A-Big-Knightsy-Wightsy-Of-The-Square- Table, I'm not going to take it ONE bit more! I've been more than patient with you. My father would have kicked you right off the side well and long ago," the poodle yaps.

Wynona's nose wiggles, but she keeps chanting and working on the spell, sitting cross-legged in the center of the rune circle.

Jarik keeps smiling, "It's my duty to insure the health of the crew. If you continue to harm them, I'll do everything my position allows to have you removed from the ship, sir."

"Removed? REMOVED?!? Ha! Hardly likely," the poodle laughs.

Jarik shrugs off the poodle and turns back to watching Wynona.

A big gruff bulldog stomps up from belowdecks, wider than he is tall. (That's shoulder and muscle … and attitude.) He looks about, and starts helping to rouse some of those who are stubbornly sleeping through all this (or pretending to).

Jarik hms and decides to go check on the navigator…

The navigator fretfully checks his readings, holding a cold wet rag up to his temple and frequently moaning, only peeking with one eye at his work every once in a while. "Can't be right. CAN'T be. It's IMPOSSIBLE… "

Jarik says, "Sir… ? What can't be right?"

"OW!" protests the raccoon. "Not so loud!" He groans and moans some more, then points to a bunch of charts and instruments as if they should be answer enough. "We're not here! I mean, here isn't there. I mean … ohhhh!"

Jarik says, "Where are we?"

The raccoon covers his face. "AUGH! I don't KNOW!" He puts his face in his hands and sobs. "If only my head would stop gonging, maybe I could find out."

Jarik hms, "Could you direct me in to what to do? My head is fine… "

From the fore deck, there comes a high-pitched whistle which deepens into a throaty moan. A breeze whips around the deck, stirring up some colored smoke lifting from a low-burning incense candle. Wynona hurriedly makes arcane calculations, then her eyes snap wide open. "Uh oh."


The big black Vartan staggers to his position, not bothering to wait for explanation. "Which way?"

Jarik blinks and runs back to Wynona… "What's wrong?"

"I don't care! If we don't, we're all going to DIEEEEE!" the bat shrieks, as she snuffs out her candle.

Jarik blinks? "Die?"

Wynona nods, having completely forgotten her hangover. "Yes. As in, destroyed. Dead. End of pleasure cruise. Bye bye."

Jarik looks at her, "Why? Where are we? Whats going to happen?"

Some of the crewmembers start to gasp and point toward the fore. In the distance, the sky is subtly darker … except for occasional crackles of blue lightning. "Forbidden Zone!" the Vartan squawks, and works all the more diligently.

Wynona shoos Jarik away. "I've got to get working on another spell. It's probably too late, but I've got to try anyway… "

Jarik looks about for something he could help with…

As the ship slowly creeps closer, the sky ahead – which looked just fine in the distance a while ago – seems to grow all the more ominous. A sphere of crackling blue energy fades into being, floating just over the sea of clouds, amidst all the electrical discharge.

The poodle walks up to the deck again, after disappearing below for a bit. "Oooo! Beautiful! I've never seen that before. Can we go in for a closer look? My! Everyone's awake now… "

Jarik thinks… "Can we lower the ship… "

Jarik shouts back to the crew, "Is it possible to lower the ship below it or go above it?"

A wolf nearby growls, "At the rate we're going, that's what we'll have to do. Give me a hand with this rope, would ya, kid? We can't go UNDER it … but if all else fails, better to GROUND this ship than go in there!"

Jarik nods to the wolf and takes a hold of the rope… "On your word… "

Wynona chants and makes her incantations, desperately fighting to keep herself from rushing.

Jarik yells at the poodle, "Help another crewman and hurry! We have to lower this ship, now!"

"And when do YOU start giving the orders, eh?" the poodle yaps back. He sees the sheer panic going on, though, and fumbles about, trying to look useful.

Jarik looks up at the airbag, then at the wolf, "Is there a way we can deflate that thing? I assume that's how we're staying up… ?"

The wolf growls, "They're working on it. If all else fails, we'll MAKE it deflate faster. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, or it's going to be a long walk home… "

Jarik looks down at his sword, "If need be, I'll cut it open… I'd rather walk than die… "

"Don't get ahead of yourself, kid," the wolf growls, and keeps tugging.

Jarik exerts all his strength against the rope… He extends his claws into the rope to insure a good grip.

The sea of cloud is slowly beginning to rise, looking less like cotton and more like amorphous gray. Not much longer, and the light on the deck begins getting dimmer.

Once in the cloud layer, the air smells of dust … dust that the vapors cling to in order to form those strange things known as clouds … dust which can wreak havoc on the nasal passages of allergic bats trying to cast wind spells.

"Vrxlaquat noquarti gatala – aaaaaa – AAAAAAAAAA – AHHHHHHHHH!"

Jarik sniffs the air and realizes… "Wynona! Cover your… "

The wolf beside Jarik frees one hand long enough to make the sign of the Star and Anchor over his chest, rapidly muttering a prayer.

The air seems to tingle with power… and the audible crackling of the Forbidden Zone.


The air all around explodes with a loud thunderclap, and the cries of the crewmen are lost in the blast of it, as the whole ship is rocked and tossed, flashes of blue lightning dancing all around, and running along the deck and rigging.

Jarik keeps pulling hard. { I've no desire to see T'Aris this soon… } O o . he thinks…

A torrentous wind blasts across the deck, sending buckets flying. Ropes fly free, and the whole ship goes spinning. Everyone twists a foot and/or arm and/or other limb in the available rigging or railing to keep from being flung to certain doom.

Jarik's eyes widen as the lightning dances on the rigging… Normally he'd like to see a blue flare of light… This isn't his magic tho, this is deadly.

Jarik hangs on tightly to the rope, glad he dug his claws into it as the wind tears at his body…

All is black now, except for the occasional flashes of bright blue which vary in frequency, accompanied by snaps and crackles. The howl of the wind is such that the voices of all are lost. All of the fox's hair stands straight out on end – or tries to.

By a freak chance, a word reaches Jarik's ears for just a moment … "… impossible… " and then it's back to the howling and roaring of a storm of storms. At one point, it feels as if the whole ship has turned upside down, then flipped back once more.

Jarik tries to see whats going on, he forces his eyes open in the wind…

Then, the crackling suddenly stops. All is dead calm, leaving only a ringing in the ears. The darkness remains a moment more … then breaks open to warm, inviting sunlight.

Jarik blinks a few times, trying to see where they are…

The ship is soaring along, ropes flying free, in a perfectly circular break in the clouds – the clouds no longer the sea, but a distant shore, and the ship is sailing on a lake in betwixt them.

On that distant shore can be seen the crackle of blue … in every direction. Below the clouds can only be seen darkness … but over the edge of the railing, Jarik can see spreading sands … and ruined towers and spires, partially buried by the dunes, jutting upward like bony fingers accusing the sky.

Jarik stumbles to his feet and goes to check on Wynona, "Lady Wynona… ?"

The white bat is tangled up in the rigging. "ACK! He- Oh! What's THAT?" Her eyes go wide as she regards the scene below from her unseemly perch.

Jarik climbs up the rigging and tries to free the bat.

"It can't be," the wolf mutters. "It … oh no." He raises his voice. "Get back down, Jarik! Bind yourself in! WE'RE GOING FOR ANOTHER RIDE YET!"

Jarik says, "I was hoping you could tell me… where are we?""

The bat looks to Jarik. "Deep. Real deep." She turns her head and sneezes again. The whole ship rocks with the force. "Uh oh," she sniffles.

Jarik blinks? He doesn't waste time climbing down, he wraps his arms and legs into the rigging.

The raccoon navigator starts laughing loudly. "HA HA! Hey! I HAVE it! I have the coordinates! This isn't possible, but we're HERE! We're gonna be FAMOUS!"

"Posthumously," the bat mutters, closing her eyes, as the ship drifts toward the cloudy "shore" again.

Jarik shouts down to the navigator, "Where????"

Jarik mutters to the bat, "Stout heart, we've made it this far."

The fox's shout is answered by a deafening crash, and the ship is engulfed by darkness … sooner than expected. It's as if the cloud front actually reached OUT to swallow up the ship. The interplay of darkness and flashes of blue light repeats itself, as the ship is tossed and twirled about like a child's toy. It isn't any easier the second time around.

Jarik thinks. o O { Stout heart yourself, Jarik. Hang on… }

However, at long last, the adventure is over … at least for the time being. The ship breaks out of the clouds, revealing bright yellow-orange sand that ripples out and on.

"Forbidden Zone," the bat mutters, once it's clear that they're 'safe'. "We went in … and we came back out again. You can't do that. We probably won't even be able to tell anybody, because they'll think someone will try it on purpose," the bat groans.

Jarik turns to the bat, "Where are we?"

The bat sighs. "I'll have to do some more figuring. For all I know, we're making good time to Abu Dhabi … or we've made a detour over the Himaat … or … who knows? With all this wild magic, we might be about to hit the Savan!"

Jarik nods and shouts to the navigator again, "Any idea where we are?"

Jarik shakes his head, "What was that… ?"

The raccoon hardly looks recognizeable. His hair is standing straight out, and he's vibrating rapidly. "W-w-w-w-where – a-a-a-a-a-are-w-w-w-wweee?" He starts giggling maniacally.

The bat groans. "Help me out of this, would you?"

Jarik nods and untangles himself from the rigging then proceeds to help Wynona free, careful of her wings.

Once the bat is free, she takes the short route down … fluttering back down to the deck. "Whew! I'm never going to drink again. Never ever ever EVER!" She stoops at a nearby crewman cringing on the deck. "And not you either, huh?"

"Are we there yet?" the wolf whines.

Jarik climbs down and goes to the navigator. "Are you alright?" he asks.

The raccoon walks up, his body still shaking. "I … I got all the … I got … the measurem – HEE HEE! Coordinates … yeah … I saw it! Did you see it? HEE HEE! Real, I tell you! REAL!" His eyes are wild, and he wheeze-laughs to himself. He asides, "We're gonna be filthy rich, you know. RICH, I tell you!"

Jarik says, "I saw something… what was it? Where are we?"

Jarik hms, "I think you should go lie down for a bit… doctor's orders."

The raccoon shrugs. "A wee bit off course. We'll be … oh … two days late, tops. Boy … aren't we lucky none of those discharges ignited the hydrogen? Then we'd all be little toasties. HEE HEE!"

Jarik pats the raccoon, "Go sleep for a bit. You need it."

The raccoon nodnods. "Yes. Be careful, though. We're over the Himaat. I heard they're having bad weather as of late. Freak storms. HEE HEE!" He staggers toward the steps leading belowdecks. "And watch out for pirates!"

Jarik blinks? Pirates? Ut oh.

Jarik shouts, "Is everyone accounted for?" He goes about on the shipdeck looking for crewmembers. He finds some tangled in lines, one with his head stuck in a bucket, all in all, nothing serious. One person he didn't find, the poodle, ut oh, "Everyone! Has anyone seen our ship's noble, the poodle?"


GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 12 days after Harvest Tide, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)