Fred 5 goes to the Southern Caves to slay a dragon. He kills Velus. He & Astra 5 are sent to the Calamari Desert to die. Dr.Vincent saves them. Minestus kidnaps Astra 5 and turns her into a demifox. Fred 5 goes after her but becomes a demifox too. Malachi and Minestus kill each other. Fred 5 & Astra 5 go to Walants to give Synizn the Crystallic so he can cure them. In Walants they are put in jail. Their greedy lawyer Rift frees them so that they can lead him to the dead dragon's treasure. The lawyer, dwarf, and their unwilling guest go out on the road to the Lair, only to have the demifoxes stumble upon a cure for their condition. You see, during a tense discussion with Tarin (the dwarf), the Crystallic morphed into an amber soft ale that Tarin, Astra 5, and Fred 5 ingested (long story). It didn't seem to effect Tarin in the slightest, but it caused the demifoxes to change back to human (thought Astra 5 is still pregnant). Each injestor actually had assimilated part of the Crystallic, unbeknownst to them at the time.
During a discussion as what to do next, the heroes made a terrible mistake. They had left the Crystallic laying about, in reach of the lawyer, Master Rift, and the barrister used the gem to keep them in line.
Then, while on the road, they all run into bandits, which the end result is that Rift and Tarin run for it while Astra 5 and Fred 5 are captured. The bandits ride back to Walants, with visions of the profits made from selling the adventurers as slaves. But, through some double dealing between another Walants lawyer and a member of the Paine gang (the bandits), we soon have the "custody" of Fred 5 and Astra 5 called into question. For a bit, it even looks like Astra 5 will be able to get Rift to get them free, but Rifts turns the tables by balckmailing Astra 5. If she doesn't fully cooperate, then her parents will learn of her delicate condition, caused by actions outside of wedlock. Ironically, in a land ruled by woman, this would cause her dishonor, dis-inheritance, and banishment. Astra complies, not wishing this to happen. Fred 5 is left out of the loop, and wondering just what the deuce is up her, but comes along because his honor and his desire to get the Crystallic away from Rifts makes him.
So, Rifts, Astra 5, and Fred 5 go off again to the Hoard, while Tarin cleans up the details with axe and Pact (getting the other lawyer to sign, putting him in the dwarf's service, or else dying by axe). Tarin catchs up after Rifts talks his way past a black knight with a bone to pick with people from Walants. Rifts had known what to say since he had been the defender of a man who had broken into an apothecary shop in search for medicine to heal his sick daughter (the thief got hung and the daughter died, much to the indifference to this Rift).
Things get even worse when Rift decides to try out the power of alteration of the Crystallic on Astra 5. Rift had willed Astra's hair to turn from red to black. In addition to that, it turned Astra 5's entire skin black (and I mean BLACK). Now, even her parents wouldn't recognize her. Rifts finally let slip the blackmail of Astra 5, and Fred 5 finally understood what was up! He didn't really blame Astra 5, and the distance that had been growing between the two vanished.
Still, Rift had the gem..but not for long. There was the question of Tarin.
See, Tarin was a dwarf who had been exiled from his Clan for having Second Sight, a magic talent. Magic is anathema to dwarves in general, and as such Tarin was much the embarrassment. The news spread throughout the dwarven community, and Tarin was now a pariah. A dwarf without a Clan is sad. One banished is a tragedy, for stated reasons. Tarin went a bit mad because of this. He went to great lengths to prove to the world he was nothing but dwarf..and went to excess. He flew into beserker rages, sometimes not able to tell friend from foe. But at the core of it all, he had self doubts about if he was a "real" dwarf.
An unwanted Vision on the road, where he met his "brother" from Terra "Prime" and seeing his "own death" at the hands of some demifoxes, coupled with the revelations that by inbiding the Crystallic, he had become even more magical..and thus unforgivable in the eyes of his fellow dwarves. He couldn't bribe his way back into his Clan now, even with ten Hoards. Tarin snapped.
Mad, he turned and demanded Rifts give him the Crystallic (and made it clear that instant ompliance would be a BAD idea). Rift, knowning that he can't win, complies (beside, Tarin "owned" him by Pact..so better not mess around here)! So now the corrupt Tarin had the means of reaching his brother."
Tarin wills them to Terra "Prime." The corrupt Tarin, Fred 5 & Astra 5 get zapped to Walants (Manimal Universe). They arrive buck naked and unconscious! A stable boy stumbles across them, and then goes for help.
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