Monday, May 11, 2020

Urban Adventuring - The Tale of Ujin Tohl part 12



Ujin takes the initiative against the assassins, breaking into the Guild’s keep...

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It was just before midnight and Ujin entered a large tent in Jal Bhains’ camp. The tent had been cleared of all things and was essentially one large dirt floor about 100 feet in diameter, and its central pole was a large sissenbotten tree, stripped of its branches but not it’s dark red bark. In the half light of the tent it looked like it was sheathed in blood.

The circle of the tent was ringed with saan, about 50 of them all total, and there were flickering lamps around the periphery. Jal Bhains stood in the middle of the room, just to the side of the tree, he was wearing a short leather pteruge, a belt with a coil of rope on one side and a knife on the other, and nothing else. Also near the center of the room was a large, rather surly looking giant lizard. The lizard was roped to a spike in the ground and had its eyes blocked. It was growling and swinging its head from side to side, straining slightly against the rope.

Ujin saw Jimnir, who was on the floor with several other saan, sharing a joke about a Bhavisyavani Lord, a minstrel and a washing woman. The saan had found the joke enormously funny, and were laughing out loud. It sounded like a nest of snakes united in song.

Ujin sat down near Jimnir and nodded at the saan in greeting. 

“Ujin! You made it back from the city alive.” Jimnir turned to two of the saan and spoke to them, they hissed and cackled and snorted, then they handed over two small bags of silver to him.

Ujin raised an eyebrow, “You bet on whether or not I would make it back?”

Jimnir replied in a mock hurt tone, “I bet on you, I have great faith in you Ujin Tohl!”

Jimnir took a drink from a cup he had been holding and smirked.

“Where is the dragon?”, Ujin asked. He then immediately corrected himself, “Where is Bhedal ?”

Jimnir smiled, thankful that Ujin was trying to remember his wishes, “Bhedal hunts in the swamp, if you are lucky he may bring back dinner for you.”

Ujin smiled, “I am actually hungry, but what exactly is happening with Jal Bhains?”, Ujin was unsure what the shaman was doing with the giant lizard.

Jimnir nodded and said, “Just watch.”

Around the tree was a ring of candles, Jal Bhains took a torch from the ground and lit it on a lamp, then brought back the burning torch to light the candles. There were 8 candles, Bhains lit them all. With each one he said Yama’s name and a prayer, “Yama sadak aum galsha”.

He then stood in front of the tree and whispered a prayer while closing his eyes, “Merog seval sa tummai Yama sa.”

The shaman took out a spear that had been lying in front of the tree, it was about five feet long and ended in a wicked point. He moved to the far side of the circle of the tent opposite the giant lizard and waited while one of the saan loosed the rope and took off the blinders; the creature saw Bhains ahead of him and charged in a fit of pure rage.

It’s eyes were a deep crimson.

As it charged over towards Bhains he dug the butt end of his spear into the ground to receive the charge of the beast. It pivoted however and missed the spear, but as it passed Bhains reached out and slapped the beast on its side.

It turned and wailed, moved its head down and up, then charged again. This time Bhains did not plant the spear but instead held his ground directly in front of the charging giant lizard. At the last second Bhains leapt to the side and it shot by, and he managed to ram the spear into the beast.

It hissed and moaned.

Now Jal Bhains did something that Ujin had never seen anyone do. As the creature ran towards him again, spear sticking out of its side, Bhains waited then dodged the mass of muscle, sinew and bone. As it passed he jumped on to its back. One hand then grabbed the creature by a fin on the back of its head and pulled back, and the other pulled out the rope that was wrapped around his waist. He held on with his legs, then whipped the rope around the giant lizard’s neck so the rope landed on his lap. He then let the fin go and grabbed the rope with both hands and pulled back with all of his strength. 

The giant lizard bucked and twisted, Ujin was sure it was going to roll over and crush the shaman, but instead it tried to throw him off.

Bhains held on tightly, pulling back the rope with more and more of his force. The giant lizard began to lurch from side to side. Bhains then looped the rope together, transferred it to one hand, pulling back hard, and took a long dagger out from his belt and rammed it into the base of the giant lizard’s skull. 

The beast stopped, let out a strange cry, and collapsed to the ground, its blood rushing out.

Jal Bhains put his hands in the blood of the creature, then placed both hands on his chest and uttered a prayer to Yama.

“Yama kehr saklo mahgt, sou balki mou vahsa pahhai.”

He then put his bloody hands on the ground and pressed them into the dirt.

There was much noise around the tent, and Jal Bhains, after being attended to, walked over to Ujin and Jimnir while a group of his men rolled the giant lizard onto a skid of tied branches and dragged it out of the tent.

Jal Bhains sat cross legged before the two warlocks, waving away the nearby saan to give them privacy to talk. 

“You have returned Ujin Tohl, Jimnir’s confidence in you was well placed.”

Ujin nodded in thanks, “May I ask what just happened here Jal Bhains?”

The shaman smiled, plunged his hands into a steaming basin of hot water and cleaned his hands. He prayed silently and leaned back.

“That bull was old, sick, it had trouble walking, it was time for it to die. We fed it kransh leaf paste and blindfolded it, which makes it aggressive. It dies fighting for its life, in this we honor it, we honor Yama, and we honor death.”

“Why not just set it free?’ Ujin asked.

Jal Bhains looked confused for a moment, then responded, “Because it is an honor to be killed by a shaman of death from the cult of Yama, Ujin Tohl. What other god would do honor you. Does a god of art and music honor you with death? Death is the end of creativity! Does the god of the sun honor you with death? Death is the night Ujin Tohl. Only Yama honors you with death, as death is Yama’s domain, death at my hands is the purest gift you can receive, it expresses the essence of the godhead.”

Ujin nodded, Bhains was persuasive..

Jal Bhains asked, “Was your trip to the city successful?

Ujin nodded as a saan brought him a cup with wine and some food, perhaps they had overheard his comment about being hungry.

He took a bite of some salted meat and spoke to Bhains, “If it pleases you I have business to discuss with you Jal Bhains, and with Jimnir.”

Bhains nodded and waved his hand in the air, and with that all of the saan in the room got up and left except for 6 large saan with clubs, broadswords and breastplates. They stood immobile, spaced out evenly over the periphery of the tent.

“You may speak”, Jal Bhains announced.

Ujin bowed his head slightly first then spoke.

“I am troubled Jal Bhains. I have two roads before me and both are clouded. I have gathered enough information to make an attempt at getting the guild to leave me alone, but I could also just stay here at the camp and work with you in your holy mission. Jimnir has indicated that the loss of Rizzal Tarwin could be addressed by adding me to the group. But I could also just leave the city for good.”

Jal Bhains had also been given food and a goblet of wine, he ate some spiced meat and drank from his goblet as he listened.

Ujin continued, “The more I think on this the more I realize I don’t know enough to know what to do. There are too many forces here beyond me Jal Bhains. I do not know how far the guild will go to retrieve me, how important this ceremony of theirs is, why they are doing this after years of time have passed… too many unanswered questions.”

Jal Bhains put up his hand and Ujin stopped.

The shaman spoke, “Jimnir and I talked for several hours yesterday about this. I find myself drawn to helping you Ujin Tohl the Viridescent, we get few worshippers of Yama from outside of the city, and the fact that you ended up in my tent makes me think that Yama wanted you here, and Yama wants you to succeed. I have prayed and meditated, and I have come to the conclusion that you are his vessel in this.”

Jimnir also had a drink but held his counsel for now. 

“Still”, Jal Bhains added, “there is much to consider here. Your father was a follower of Yama, and he almost lost his life trying to take over the assassin’s guild and make it part of the cult of Yama. Perhaps the reason you are here is to finish his work. Perhaps Yama works through you as he believes that the guild is corrupted as part of the cult of Kali. I have wondered about this as well over the years.”

The shaman took a drink and continued, “How well do you know the other gods Ujin Tohl?”

Ujin shook his head, “Not well enough.”

Jal Bhains had come to appreciate Ujin’s directness, it was a very Bhavisyavanian trait that he was warming to.

The shaman looked at Jimnir and the warlock continued the discussion, “There are three gods of death, Rudra, Kali and Yama. Rudra is the god of natural death, Rudra governs weather and animals, two of the most primitive and immediate causes of death. To worship death through Rudra is to worship death in its natural form. Kali is the goddess of violent, cruel killing, unjust, horrific death. She is the personification, no, the perfection of destruction. To worship her is to worship chaos, the unmaking of all. Yama is the god of finality, ending and mortality, the god of death as fate. As the first human to die, Yama represents death as the mirror ending to life and to the cycle of renewal. To worship Yama is to worship death as symmetry, righteous vengeance and balance.”

Clearly Jimnir had learned much from the shaman while in his service.

Jal Bhains was pleased with the answer, and responded.

"Exactly so, Jimnir the Garnet. Now, the cult of Kali has always used assassins, they hire out to anyone who will pay them regardless of creed or status, in this they spread chaos and destruction, playing no favorites. But it seems that there would be a place for a guild of assassins that did not just sow chaos and destruction, but would instead serve death in its capacity as a leveller, a balance. To restore order rather than eliminate it. The cult of Yama could embrace such a guild."

Ujin was somewhat surprised by this tack Jal Bhains was taking, and somewhat disappointed in himself for not seeing the connections. He had always assumed that his father had acted out of ambition, but perhaps there was more to it.

Jal Bhains put his hands on his forehead and hissed.

“I do not know the way forward, that you have made it this far tells me you have Yama’s favor, but which of your choices is correct? I can’t know that. But Yama knows, and I think it may be time for me to ask. Perhaps your appearance here is a sign that your father’s goals were correct, perhaps we should be trying to take over the guild. The way forward is not shown to me.”

Bhains motioned to the saan and two of them disappeared from the tent, returning a few minutes later with something wrapped in a blanket. They unwrapped the blanket and took out a gnarled tree branch, about a hands width in thickness and about 3 feet long. It was blackened as if it had been burned, and on its surface were symbols, wrapped around the sides and down the whole length. 

Ujin was confused, and spoke, “What is this Jal Bhains, is it a scepter or magical staff?”

Bhains shook his head and pointed to one of Jimnir’s scroll cases, hanging off his belt.

“A scroll?” Ujin asked.

Bhains nodded, “Your spells are on papyrus and written in ink, mine are on a branch from a tree that was struck by lightning and are carved into the wood. Your magic has words, my magic has symbols recited in prayer, each shaman prays by their faith.”

Ujin interrupted, “And what spell is on this branch?”

Jal Bhains smiled, “A spell to commune with my god, it allows me to ask questions, and I mean to ask Yama which way forward. I have been waiting for the right occasion to use this, and I believe this is that occasion. Are you here to be one of his hands, to act as his vessel, or are you here by mistake and you should leave. I trust my god Ujin Tohl, you should trust Yama as well.”

Ujin was relived at the offer, at this point he was truly unsure what to do and he welcomed Bhains’ help.

Jal Bhains made another hand motion and the lamps were all doused except for one which was brought over and cast a wavering light on the branch. 

He began to pray, and it sounded much like singing, “Divy kaan mere lie khulata hai, main tumhaaree buddhi ka intazaar karata hoon, paanee ka intazaar kar raha ek khula kap, bhojan kee prateeksha kar raha katora, ek aatma raahat kee prateeksha kar raha hai ...”

Ujin was simultaneously terrified and amazed. He had seen much in the way of arcane magic, but little in the way of divine magic. The air felt electric, and hairs on the back of Ujin’s neck stood up. 

Then a warm breeze appeared in the tent, with no windows and the door closed all the while. 

Jal Bhains tilted his head back and held it there, when he brought it forward his eyes were a tangled spiderweb of copper and black.

His body trembled and shook, he spread out his arms and threw back his head again. Then he spoke, but Ujin found his voice was hard to hear, and then when Bhains paused, rather than hearing a response to his words, Ujin was overwhelmed by visions. 

But they were not like dreams, or hallucinations, instead Ujin was reliving past events as if they were happening right now. He stood beside his father’s funeral pyre, watching as his body burned away and his mother sang a dirge. Then he was making his first kill, stabbing a city guard in the back to help his gang enter a warehouse and steal weapons, he felt the sword in his hand, solid and heavy with the weight of blood. Then Ujin was lying, almost dead, in an alley, bleeding and betrayed by a guild member who sold him out for money; he watched as his betrayer was cut down by another, and Ujin smiled...

He could do nothing while this was happening, the phantasmist was overwhelmed by these visions, he could not think, or even form thoughts about them, instead he was viscerally reliving past experiences of death.

After an indeterminate amount of time the visions stopped, and Ujin shook his head. Jal Bhains was silent, and spent some time sitting and breathing before responding. Finally he turned to Ujin and spoke.

“Yama has spoken, you are to go forward with your plan.”

Ujin was relieved, he wasn’t sure if Bhain’s vision was going to be clear or not, but the shaman seemed certain.

“I heard nothing”, Jimnir added, “but I … was… in the past, what was that?”

Jal Bhains laughed, it was a mad, ecstatic kind of laughter.

“Yama spoke to me, I heard words, you heard Yama’s voice as memories of death.”

Ujin was in awe, he had never come this close to his god before, and likely never would again, until he died.

“Thank you Jal Bhains, no matter what the outcome, you have given me a gift today.”

Jal Bhains nodded, “I have you to thank Ujin Tohl, because of you I have touched the godhead again, holiest of holies.”

Ujin smiled, “I am happy to hear that, as I have another request of you.”

Jal Bhains leaned forward.

“I plan to go to the guild to deliver a message to them, but I would prefer it if the Guildmaster is not there when I arrive. I would like you to invite the Guildmaster to see you here at your camp, under some pretense. Perhaps he has tried to have you or your men assassinated, perhaps you wish to discuss the cult of Yama becoming more involved in the Guild. All I ask is that you keep him here for a time.”

Jal Bhains leaned back and looked at Ujin carefully.

“Several assassins from the Guild have been sent to deal with me in the last few years, hired by cowards in Bhavisyavani Houses who were unwilling to face me in battle. But this is the way it is. The Guild can’t play favorites or protect anyone, its continued existence requires that the Houses tolerate it, for together they have the magic needed to destroy the guild. They leave it be as every House has an occasion to want someone dead without it being known that their House was involved.”

Ujin nodded, he had thought along these lines before, if it was otherwise than the guild would likely be gone by now. He was disappointed.

“However”, Jal Bhains added, his smile growing wickedly as he spoke, “I have been meditating and praying on your father’s failed mission. So I asked about this when I communed, and I believe that it is intended by Yama that we become involved in the guild, as a matter of fact, that we take it over. My mission is to have greater… influence in city matters, and controlling the Guild would make that… easier.”

Ujin was not sure what this meant.

“Do as you see fit Ujin Tohl, I will invite the Guildmaster to come to my camp, as a servant of Yama he will not refuse me, he knows the temple of Yama is, if not with me, then not against me, and that I command forces not to be denied. I will suggest that the cult of Yama take on a role in the guild, he will likely resist the idea, but I will plant the seed.”

Ujin was hopeful, but he felt the need to be honest as well.

“But he might simply refuse to come here, thinking it is a trap.”

“Perhaps”, the shaman said, “but he also knows that as a servant of death like him I would not likely harm him, and if I were to kill him here in my camp there would be retribution. He is a guildmaster, I am a shaman who leads an army, both of us stand for more than our ambition Ujin, he knows that. I would never do anything as base as inviting him here to kill him.”

Ujin accepted Jal Bhains’ argument for lack of any real knowledge of how things worked here. Ujin was not a Bhavisyavanian guildmaster, or a shaman, he was only a thief and a phantasmist.

“I will attend to the tasks needed to achieve my goal, is it possible to ask him to see you in two days? That will give me preparation time, and time to contact the Guild to let them know their target has been captured.”

Jal Bhains nodded, “Do not tell me what you plan to do Ujin, the less I know the better for now. If you are successful you can return and tell me of your success, if you fail, I will see you when I die.”

Ujin stood up and responded, "You honor me, you honor death and you honor Yama Jal Bhains, I will take my leave with your permission and begin preparations."

The saan nodded, "In all things we honor Yama. Please let me or Jimnir know if there is anything you need."

Ujin bowed and left the tent, swallowed up in the ebony of the night.

Ujin Tohl crouched in the torrential rain, waves of water rolled over his cloak, clinging it to his body while a thick, hot wind barrelled down the street. Thirsty flowers and vines soaked up the deluge, a welcome respite after several days of infernal heat. Rain in Bhavisyavani came in surges, brilliant clear skies with a dazzling sun would suddenly give way to ivory clouds, which would then turn to slate grey, and the city would be awash in rain for a time, then the clouds would split like a skull under a soldier’s axe, the sun would stab down, and the wet streets would steam as if the city was built on top of hell itself.

It was close to midnight now, so the sun was not going to be coming out, and Ujin pulled his hood forward a bit more to keep the rain off his face. He carried two small sacks slung over his back, one hung heavy, the other moved slightly as he stood. He carried all of his magical items, including scrolls. If he failed in his task tonight he would most surely be dead, so there was no point leaving anything behind.

The phantasmist had found himself a perch on the roof of Klaswick’s Studio, Klaswick was a chariot maker, it was an establishment he hadn’t patronized as of yet, and probably never would. He was, however, afforded a clear view of the Red Ruby Tavern, his real target. Ujin’s cloak made him invisible in the shadows, and he watched the entrance to the tavern closely.

The Wards in the city sounded bells just before midnight and at midnight, and the midnight bell was tolling when Ujin saw a group of 5 men approach the tavern. 

“Right on schedule” he whispered to himself, a smile splitting his face.

Ujin had spent considerable time trying to determine how best to gain access to the Guildmaster’s residence, everything from hypnotising a target and sending him in his stead to covering someone else with an illusion of himself to fool the soldiers sent to pick him up. Then he had an inspiration, go to the tavern in the day and give them the sign that would tell them that Imiran Shinn would be by at midnight with their target, but then not show up with the target. The men would assume that Shinn had met some untimely end, or just a delay, and would head back to inform the Guildmaster of the development. 

He would follow the envoy’s back to the Guildmaster’s location, and if he had accepted Jal Bhains’ invitation he would not be there, and Ujin could execute his plan.

Elegant and simple… if it worked.

The men entered the tavern, were inside for about 5 minutes, and re-emerged, heading back the way they came. Ujin reached into a pocket and pulled out an eyelash encased in gum arabic. He was supremely grateful that Jimnir had given him access to Tarwin’s spell book, invisibility was immensely useful. He rolled the eyelash between the fingers of his right hand while he rocked the hand back and forth in front of his eyes. While doing this he said the words, "mi elhalványul és eltűnik" six times over and then dropped the eyelash, and as it fell it faded from view.

And so did Ujin Tohl the Viridescent. 

The rain was heavy and loud enough that as long as he did not get too close he would not be heard. He still needed to be cautious though, since standing in the rain for too long, particularly when it was this heavy, made it possible that someone might see the outline of his body in the downpour. So he tried to keep moving at all times, and he tried to move behind obstacles where appropriate, not relying on the invisibility to do all the work.

A good thief, and a good phantasmist, never relied strictly on magic alone.

He strode along slightly behind and to the side of the group of five men, keeping track of where they were going in the city by spotting warlock towers (when Ujin arrived he found the city bedeviling in its size so he had decided to use the warlock towers as landmarks). 

They were about all he could be sure of with this rain. 

They wound through the city for a time, the clouds blocking any sort of moonlight, and the street torches snuffed out, so the darkness was near-complete. After about a half hour they arrived at a forested Ward and entered into the foliage. This continued on for another twenty minutes or so before Ujin spotted a small keep in a clearing in the forest. 

Ujin had found his target, and now came the part of his plan that simply had to be executed properly, or none of this would work. Ujin sprinted forwards through the bush, far enough away that his passage would not be noticed by the men. When he was sufficiently far enough ahead he stopped and took out a pinch of diamond dust from his pocket. He then closed his eyes and spoke the words, “Zde není nic”, three times over, then sprinkled the dust on his head.

His invisibility would last until he attacked someone, but this spell would make him undetectable, it wouldn’t foil monsters or traps, but it would keep any magic from locating him for an hour.

He had an hour to enact his plan.

Ujin waited as the men caught up to his position and he fell in off to the side. Fortunately the rain was still falling in sheets and the men were blissfully unaware of his presence. 

They approached the keep and one of the group stood in front of the gate, spoke authoritatively for a moment, then the gates opened. 

Ujin slipped in the side along with the men and found himself in a courtyard that was at this point empty other than a cluster of rather large giant boars, all chained to a pole at the center. Ujin held his breath, the boars could potentially smell him as he passed; fortunately the rain would likely mask his presence.

The rain was quite heavy in the courtyard, so the men moved quickly. Ujin followed them, and when he was sure they were not looking his way he dashed off from the group and entered an archway that offered some shelter from the rain. 

Now that he was inside of the keep and out of the rain he needed to be more vigilant. Ujin looked down at the ground beneath him and noted that a pool of water was forming, running off of his boots. Despite the fact he was invisible he would be conspicuous soon enough if he stayed still, so the phantasmist reached into one of his pockets with his left hand and took out a handful of multi-colored sand, with his right hand he took out his sword, and he moved down the corridor further into the keep, still invisible.

The hallways were wide, about 10 feet across, and quite tall, he estimated about 20’ to the ceiling, and the walls were definitely climbable, which gave him some options. The key was to remain undetected, if he was found and someone raised the alarm… Ujin didn’t dwell on that possibility.

As he moved further into the corridor he heard voices up ahead and had to decide what to do, attack, climb the wall or turn back. 

Instead he noted a branch in the corridor a few feet ahead and he quickly left the corridor and moved into the side passage. Once in Ujin turned and waited to see if they were going to follow him in.

A group of 6 armored men walked by, thankfully not taking the same detour as Ujin did.

Once they were well gone Ujin reemerged and continued down the corridor.

The longer he was here the closer he got to his non-detection spell wearing off, Ujin needed to find out where the Guildmaster’s chambers were. Ujin made a decision, he dropped his invisibility spell, immediately feeling completely exposed, and he spoke the words “Nejsem to, co vidíte” and drew down his hand from the top of his head to his feet. 

When he was finished Ujin was dressed in the same garb as the passing guards were, and his face was now bearded and his hair a shaggy mess of black. He sheathed his sword, and replaced the handful of sand.

Ujin walked further down the original corridor and passed two soldiers, each nodded as he passed but said or did nothing. Ujin passed many closed doors, but there were a few that were open revealing what looked to be a foundry, and in another case some sort of kitchen or pantry. Both were empty at this late hour. 

Finally Ujin came upon an individual guard moving down the passage with a good deal of haste. He waved at the guard.

“I’m late for my rotation on the wall, move”, was his only response.

Ujin gambled that the man was afraid enough of magic to react viscerally rather than immediately sound an alarm that would not bring help until after the spell was cast, and he stood his ground, motioned with his hands and began a droning incantation. The guard took out his broadsword and began to charge down the corridor, but Ujin finished his spell before the guard could reach him.

Ujin then spoke, “There is a spy loose in the building and I had to use a spell to be sure it was not you. I have an important message for the Guildmaster, where are his chambers?”

The guard, who up until then had been running directly at Ujin, slowed, stopped completely. He then looked around furtively, side to side, and then waved on Ujin to follow him. The two men moved fairly quickly through the corridors, and Ujin told the man that they should speak to no one, as anyone they encountered could be the spy.

When they reached the end of the corridor it branched north, apparently, Ujin conjectured, the corridor he originally entered led to the wall of the keep, and now he was following the wall from within. Ujin and his guide moved along, this portion of the keep was not active at this hour.

There were towers at each of the four corners of the keep, and they were approaching one when the guard spoke, “The Guildmaster’s chambers are at the top of the tower...”

Ujin’s sword sliced through the guards back, and his dagger slit the guard’s throat, he gurgled as his body slid to the ground. Ujin dragged the body into a dark corner and prayed to Yama that no one found it before he was done his work.

At least he died quietly, the phantasmist thought.

Ujin had broken his invisibility spell, but his cloak was still functional, which meant he could become invisible in the shadows. He couldn’t move while hiding though, so he had to be more careful. He moved down the corridor as quickly and quietly as he could. As he approached the corner tower of the keep he was met with a large archway that stretched to the ceiling, and from a distance he could hear things moving within. 

Damn.

Ujin came closer, stopping periodically so his cloak would conceal him, and he saw what was in the room… dogs, perhaps a dozen of them, lying around a largely empty room at the base of the tower. Three of them were awake and playing with each other, the rest were sleeping. There were also three guards in the room, though at least one of them appeared to be dozing, and the other two were playing cards. The room was poorly lit, with 4 torches equally spaced around the chamber, the guards were all located under one of the torches. 

Ujin wasn’t surprised at the apparent disinterest of the guards, no one would be insane enough to sneak into an assassin’s keep, now would they?

The dogs, however, were a problem.

Ujin could see the stairs he had to access across the room from him, he had to figure some way to get there without making a huge disturbance. He had memorized invisibility twice knowing that it would likely be needed more than once, and he cast the spell upon himself again. Ujin looked at the wall beside him and it afforded enough places to hang on to that he began to climb. Once near the top he moved horizontally across the wall to the archway, and entered into the room high up on the wall. Once in the room he made his way to the top of the wall. 

His cloak was a magnificent item, in addition to allowing him to transform into a bat, fly and blend in the shadows, it also allowed him to hang from the ceiling like a bat. Ujin swung his feet up and clung to the ceiling, moving a few feet out from the wall, where he stopped. 

Ujin reached for the first of two sacks he had brought with him, the bag was moving around slightly as it hung, and the reason became apparent as he turned the sack over and shook it out, and four large spiders, rust red in color with yellow mottling on top, fell to the ground below. The spiders were large enough that the dogs would see them, but not so large that he couldn’t carry them around in a sack, each one about the size of a small melon. 

When the dogs saw the spiders they began to bark, and the guards immediately sprung to attention, grabbing their swords in hand. When they saw the cause of the commotion they laughed and watched as the dogs surrounded the spiders and began to bite and bark at them.

Ujin smiled and began to move across the roof while the dogs and the men were distracted. Though he was invisible he was concerned that the dogs might have heard or smelled him, so the spiders were insurance he was glad he brought along. One of the guards was dispatched to tell other guards that this was not an attack, as the barking of the dogs would soon draw attention. Ujin made it to the far side of the room and climbed down the wall as fast as possible. When he reached the stairwell he slipped in and moved up high enough that he could not be seen. 

It was pitch black as there were no torches or sources of light.

He was about half way up the stairs when he stopped. His target was a guildmaster of an assassin’s guild, and Ujin was fairly certain he would not rely on any one defense, so there would likely be men, magic, creatures and traps in his way. He had bypassed the men and creatures, and his spell kept him from being detected by magic, that left traps, and Ujin was sure the door to the room would be trapped, or at least locked well enough that he could waste much of his time trying to get past it. There was also the remote possibility that the guards would detect his ruse.

He looked down the stairwell and no one had appeared as of yet, and he took out a scroll. He had one spell that was powerful enough that it was terrifying just taking it out and holding it, he unfurled the scroll and looked at the script on the sheet, it taunted him, tempted him to use it. He was far too inexperienced of a phantasmist to memorize the spell, but he could cast it from a scroll. 

The risk, though great, was worth taking, as failure meant certain death anyway…

Ujin began to read from the scroll, the script on the page wavered and shifted as he spoke the words. Ujin felt a well of panic and almost stopped reading, which would have ruined the spell for certain, but he maintained his resolve and focused on the casting. Slowly, a seam appeared in the air in front of him, as if one of the gods took his finger and sliced open reality in front of his eyes. 

Ujin saw shadows ahead.

He breathed in, whispered a prayer to Yama, and entered the fissure, walking through the breach to the border of the Plane of Shadow…

End of entry

Note: I had a 40% chance of failure casting this spell, and I will admit to a heady buzz of exhilaration when I had to roll to see if I was successful or not. I’m not sure what a “reverse/harmful” result for a shadow walk spell would be, but I assumed it was not pleasant. 
Some rolls are more important than others…

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