Dionysos was woken by the orange glow of the late morning sun reflecting off plain white walls, filtered through a curtain of some fine fabric. The air was warm and dry, and the sounds of traffic and tongues unknown to him carried into the chambers he lay in through an open window. There was also the sound of steady breathing, of others still slumbering, in his chambers. He lay on a luxurious bed, his naked, youthful body wrapped in a thin sheet of silk. His last recollection was of descent into the depths of the cursed city of Pteion, followed by darkness and vague, uneasy feelings of confusion, helplessness and frustration. The young noble chanced a glance around himself, and found his bedmate to be a woman, older than himself but still attractive, very tall and thin yet voluptuous, with an unusual complexion he could not quite place. In an adjacent corner, sleeping on pillows, were three servant-girls of mixed breeding, their musical instruments close by. Half-empty amphorae of wine and bowls of fruit lay scattered about in the opulently furnished, yet oddly plain and simple, room. Gingerly, Dionysos eased himself out of bed of obviously foreign design, and tiptoed as silently as he could over to a small wash-basin in the opposite corner. Observeing his reflection in the water, he noted that his face still bore make-up in the Stygian fashion. As he splashed water over his face and drew his hands through his hair he felt something odd. Looking down at his hands, he noted that a single joint was missing rom the least digit of his left hand. Dumbfounded, Dionysos stared at this desecration of his body. The wound was no longer painful, indeed looking as if it had been healing for weeks. “Fhtagn” , he silently muttered. As if in reply, a husky voice from behind him, soft and pleasant, yet with a hard and eerily sinister edge to it, inquired, in the toungue of his father’s people, “Lord Bhaal? Is something not to your satisfaction, my husband?”.
Bewildered, but determined to gather his wits, Dionysos looked around the apartment, which seemed like a suite in some expensive inn. He entered another chamber, apparently converted into a makeshift alchemical laboratory, the strange occupants of which were already awake. “Dare not disturb the works of Basil, you lame fool!”, exclaimed one to the other, who merely lowered his gaze meekly in response to the abuse. The more assertive alchemist was, like the strange woman claiming to be the wife of Dionysos, improbably tall and thin, as if stretched on the rack, with pale skin and and uncanny features. The other was a hunchback, with Zamoran features, his face pockmarked with burns. All of the strangers Dionysos had seen in this place wore items common to the spider-worshippers of Zamora. Yet, from what he had seen and heard, he was certain that he was not now in that shadowy land. “I see that Lord Bhaal has decided to grace us with his presence”, said the tall alchemist. “Shall we be making our leave of this place soon, then? Are we to proceed as planned?” Deciding it best to play along until his head cleared, Dionysos responded, as authoritatively as possible, “Yes, as soon everyone is prepared. Refresh my memory, where were we headed next?” Seemingly without hesitation, the weird figure replied, “Why, to Stygia, of course. To purchase some rare chalks of great potency.” Nodding, Dionysos exited the room to find something to eat, deciding that it was best to listen to the Zamorans before making any further inquiries. Behind him, he heard a faint chuckle, pregnant with malign ambition, “Excellent…”
Telling his servants he fancied a walk, Dionysos headed outside, into the heat of a bustling Shemite city. Weighing in his mind the potential benefits of either running away or trying to pass himself off as whoever his new followers thought he was, at least until his memory returned. Turning a corner, he was suddenly faced with a wrathful Tyrus and Alcemides, their weapons drawn. Of Noam the Archer there was no sign. “Give me one reason not to skewer you on the spot, perfidious worm of Acheron!”, Tyrus hissed. Alcemides merely looked on with a passive expression of bemusement, though Dionysos knew better than to underestimate the deadliness of the half-savage. Thus cornered, Dionysos decided that to tell the truth was the wisest course of action. At first his former companions were intensly skeptical of his professed ignorance of what had transpired after the band entered Pteion, but the young witch pleaded them to follow him to his residence, where his story would be confirmed by the Zamorans present. In fact, he suggested that Tyrus might better be able to extract information of what had happened to Dionysos from the Zamorans, without unduly alarming the spider-cultists, who apparently mistook the noble half-Acheronian for someone else.
Tyrus and Alcemides were introduced to the Zamorans as former acquaintancies, to be trusted and treated as welcome guests. After a while of politely questioning Luba and Basil, Tyrus had formed a rough picture of what had happened to Dionysos in the past months: He had apparently traveled from Pteion to Yezud, in Zamora, impossibly fast, introducing himself simply as “Lord Bhaal”. He had impressed the priests of Zath, and traded with them for the hand of Luba in marriage and the serveces of his brother, who, it seems, were not wholly of this Earth, but formed of a union between humans and the denizens of the Outer Dark. From Zamora he had travelled back south again, through Koth, where he had met the famed sorcerer Pelias. Beyond that the Zathians knew little, but Dionysos was determined to find out what had happened, through Lotus visions and Dreams of Prophecy, should all else fail.
Eventually, Tyrus was, though still cautious, satisfied with Dionysos promising to do what he could to bring back memories of what had happened in the past three months, and that he was not likely to blame for the misfortunes that had fallen on the band of Nemedians, or the fate of Noam. Dionysos was introduced to Selcides and his guardian, Ditrius. Well into the afternoon, the small caravan took leave of Asgalun, leaving on the road to Messentia, not too far from western Shem. The new followers of Dionysos included his new wife, Luba, a former sacred dancing girl of the spider-god Zath and her brother Basil, an alchemist formerly serving the cult. Additionally, his retainers included a couple of guardsmen, a Zamoran assassin, an alchemist and a scribe, musicians and household servants. Dionysos found himself riding a fine Balkhanan stallion, a warhorse of inestimable value, though he seemed to have lost the trading licence to Khemi granted by Thothmekri as reward for his services to the House of the Black Ring.
Musings of Alcemides
I was not disheartened by the unexpected disappearance of Dionysos in the least and thus felt no need to utter a rebuke for leaving us in Pteion. He seems to have done well for himself in his absence.