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Thursday, 21st December, 2006, 11:41 PM #261
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Yes, it hurt during that fight.
Demon who killed father appears
Demon laughs at Gareth
Gareth no longer (never was) a paladin
Gareth has nervous breakdown
P.s. Luna gets the master bedroom over his dead body, and then I bust out my ghostwalk campaign book and still take it
Friday, 22nd December, 2006, 10:01 AM #262
Novice (Lvl 1)
Yeah that must have hurt, but to be honest it's a pretty coolthing to happen to your paladin.
Now you have a very very good reason for a personally important quest AND at the same time the DM hasn't completely screwed you. - If you'd had no levels in cleric, imagine how you'd feel!!!!
This is the sort of character you'll be talking about for years to come - the paladin that never was...
Good luck with the whole quest and a55 kicking in the name of the Flame thing.
As an Eberron DM I can think of a few missions that I'd be giving you to reclaim/gain Paladin status.
I don't think you'd like them though...
Merry Christmas Everyone!!!
Saturday, 23rd December, 2006, 03:13 PM #263
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Originally Posted by Sidekick
Sounds like the Angels are getting themselves well set up for some mischief and hurt in Sharn.
Just the way I like it!
Yeah that must have hurt, but to be honest it's a pretty coolthing to happen to your paladin.
Now you have a very very good reason for a personally important quest AND at the same time the DM hasn't completely screwed you. - If you'd had no levels in cleric, imagine how you'd feel!!!!
This is the sort of character you'll be talking about for years to come - the paladin that never was...
In order to keep Gareth playable while he's not a paladin, I've given him a "virtual" level of cleric spellcasting, so he currently casts as a 7th lvl cleric (with CL 11, due to his Practiced Spellcaster feat) and has access to 4th lvl spells. In effect, all he's lost right now that really matters is his Divine Grace ability, and the extra spells come close to making up for it.
And a holy quest is definitely on the cards, as you'll see in the update below. The following is a set of three encounters that Gareth had before the Daask thing, which we handled between sessions. So the Gareth parts are written by AviLazar, with some tweaks from me.
The Daask thing should probably be up on Monday.
GARETH & OTHERS (Handled between sessions)
GARETH & LALIA:
When Gareth goes to visit Lalia at the Deneith Enclave, he is greeted by a couple of people there who have seen him visit before. They quickly send him through and up to her office. As he walks towards the door, a bit more somberly then he would like to have been, Gareth hears the sound of laughter in a couple of voices. When he knocks, Lalia’s voice says, “Yes? Come in.”
Gareth enters to find her sitting on one side of the desk, with both feet on it, while Tasra lounges nearby on a comfortable couch. His mood brightens upon seeing her, but so marginally nobody could possibly notice – not even Gareth.
“Well, well ... return of the prodigal,” says Tasra, with a smirk, while Lalia says, “Gareth!” and jumps excitedly to her feet. She comes quickly around the desk and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “Where have you been?”
Tasra rises and strolls over more slowly, to clap Gareth on the shoulder. “Long time no see, soldier. Don’t you know someone here has been crying over you?” Gareth simply nods to Tasra, not laughing at the joke – not because it isn’t funny, but because his mind is clouded with other things.
Lalia, meanwhile, turns and sticks out her tongue at her twin, like a little child. “Liar!”
“Yeah, yeah,” grins Tasra, as she heads for the door. “I’ll give you kids some space. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” Turning in the doorway, she winks at Gareth. “And if you do actually do something I’d do, try not to break the furniture. And here’s a tip. There’s this spot on the back of Lalia’s neck whi...”
Tasra just has time to shut the door before a thrown dagger slams into it, where it sticks (next to a number of similar holes, Gareth notices). Her laughter is heard softly, receding down the hall outside.
Lalia mutters, “Bitch!” good-naturedly and turns back to Gareth. “But now that she’s gone...” She throws both arms around Gareth’s neck, having to stand a little on tiptoe, and gives him a passionate kiss on the lips.
“There. Welcome back!” She steps back and hops up onto her desk. “Sit! Tell me where you’ve been.” She tilts her head, as if noticing something, and adds, “Where’s Kizmet?”
Gareth puts his arms around Lalia, kissing her and then he starts to cry. “Kizmet is no more!” He produces the hilt. “And it was not what I – or my father – believed it was. And it goes far more worse then that.”
At any other time, Gareth might have been amused at the look of complete and utter shock that flashes over Lalia’s face. Her mouth opens once, twice, and then a third time, before she can actually say, “Umm ... er ....” Finally she just settles for hugging him again.
After a moment, Gareth asks, “Do you have something I can get to drink?”
Lalia lifts an eyebrow, and though she doesn’t comment on it, her expression clearly says, It must be seriously bad for you to be asking for a drink!
She goes over to a nearby cabinet, opens it to reveal a small bar, and produces a bottle and two glasses. She pours a generous glassful, pauses, and then pours some more, before handing it to Gareth. Then, gently, she urges him towards the couch. “Sit.” She sits next to him, pouring herself a glassful, and says, “Tell me everything.”
Gareth sits down, and drinks the entire glass. Taking a deep breath, he starts relating the entire story, choking up at some of the rough spots. “The Archeirophant is helping me find out what happened to my father’s soul. If it is in hell, I will need to find a way to get there and save him. She is also trying to help me get an audience with the Keeper of the Flame. I will need to embark on a holy quest to atone and regain my grace. Eventually, I will need to reforge Kizmet.”
Lalia listens silently to the entire story, making the odd commiserating or soothing sound, but not actually saying anything. After a surprised look as he drains the glass, she silently refills it.
“So,” she says carefully, once he is done, “You want to go to Hell? But why do you think your father’s soul might be there?”
“I do not want to go to hell, but if my father’s soul is there, I must go. This creature tried to possess me, control me and bend my soul to its will. It could not do this because I am an exorcist, and my training makes me immune to its powers. My father was not an exorcist and did not have such protections. If he is there, I must save his soul; to leave him to an eternity of torment...” He pauses, and then, looking Lalia in the eyes, says, “I cannot allow that to happen.”
Lalia nods slowly. “And what are you going to atone for? You didn’t say that you had done anything wrong, but were simply fooled by an evil creature.”
After thinking for a moment on Lalia’s question, to answer it to a person who may not know, Gareth says, “The calling of a paladin is stricter than any other calling a being could have. The path of a paladin is narrow, and veering from that path – even involuntarily – is no excuse. The fact that I did nothing wrong allows me to regain the grace of the Silver Flame, but it is no excuse.”
Gareth sits there silently for a moment. Then he asks, “What of you? What have you been doing?”
Lalia is just beginning, “I do not quite un...,” when Gareth’s question catches her off-guard.
After a moment, she laughs, though not as loudly as she normally would. “After what you just told me, anything I said would be completely meaningless. What have I been doing? The usual. Work, the odd party, that’s all.”
Gareth gives a weak smile. “I did not want this conversation to be entirely about me, it would not be polite.”
Lalia waves a hand to dismiss the thought. “I appreciate it, but you don’t have to be polite with me. You have way more important things going on than me, it seems. Anyway, can I help you in any way?”
“I do not know if there is anything you can do for me. This is a holy matter, and if I must travel to hell, there is no way I would be willing to put you in that kind of danger. Anyway, I will decide what to do there when I know more.”
“Well,” admits Lalia, with a wry grin, “I wasn’t quite offering to go to Hell with you yet.”
If possible, Gareth looks a little more troubled look on his face. “Make no mistake – you are a very important person in my life, maybe the most. If I did not have other obligations I would spend a lot more time with you. I think of you often on my holy quests.” He smiles briefly. “The group, as unlikely as it sounds, would agree with me”
Lalia smiles broadly and leans forward to give Gareth a quick kiss. Then she sits back and says, “You’re sweet. And quite a charmer, when you choose to be. If you didn’t have that da..., that vow of yours, you would be getting quite a lot of ass, if you wanted to.”
Gareth turns red for a moment. “In addition to vows, I think waiting makes the event, if it should happen, more special. I have heard stories, from people, who regret not waiting – but then I know people, even a paladin of the Flame, who believe in having premarital affairs liberally. I know exactly what I am missing, and it is not easy. It has always been easy, never requiring even a thought, but not with you. As always, I appreciate your understanding and patience with me.”
Lalia says nothing, but her expression flits between “Yeah, right!” and “You so do not know what you are missing!”
“Anyhow,” continues Gareth, “What is going on with my application to the enclave?”
Lalia purses her lips. “As for the application, there’s a problem. I spoke to Sadral myself, and he’s uncertain how exactly we can use your abilities. After all, with your allegiance to the Silver Flame, you can’t exactly accept any job we throw your way. And with the fact that you have the rest of the Angels to consider – you’re still with them, I presume – that cuts down on options for you being sent somewhere, to command a troop or something like that. He thinks it’ll probably be best for you to be a nominal member of the enclave, but to function more like the mercenary troops or adventurers we broker jobs for. We find you a job or two, and if interested, you take them up, and the enclave gets a cut of the pay or profits. What do you think?”
Gareth nods, knowing that Sadral’s words are true. “He is correct. I would be spread too thin – and sometimes I already am. I think being asked to assist the enclave when jobs arise works fine for me. And yes, I am still with the rest of my group, though I believe some of them want to change the group name to ‘Instruments of Destruction.’ Why I do not know.”
Lalia chortles. “Instruments of Destruction? I think there’s a traveling halfling band from Talenta with that name which passed through Sharn not too long ago.”
Then her face turns more serious, as she continues, “As you say, Sadral’s right. I’m glad you see it that way too. We’ll go with that for the time being and see what develops in the future.”
Gareth laughs at the mention of the Instruments of Destruction. “That is probably the funniest news I have heard yet, and I will let them know. But I have another question – what are you doing for dinner?”
“Dinner? I had something, but it’s not a problem to change. I’ll be free to join you.”
“Are you sure? I would not want you to break plans because of me. Your friends are important. If you would like, maybe we can include your friends? It would not be proper to stand them up.”
Lalia shakes her head. “Nah! I was just going to have a night in with Tasra. She’d be the first person to say I should join you tonight, and it’ll be much better without her along. Unless you want to hear a lot of very crude innuendo tonight. That girl’s got a mouth on her!”
Lalia puts on a mock serious tone, puts a hand to her chest and says, “Unlike me, of course, who would never, ever talk dirty to you.”
Then she smiles wickedly and says, “Unless you asked very nicely.”
Gareth reddens slightly again, but lets it pass. “Then it is settled. Tonight we will enjoy each other’s company without any other Angels or your sister.” He then stands up, and says, “I must be going. Nameless would like to organize a little excursion to a Daask drug den and rough them up a bit. Something about testing out some of our new equipment and picking an easy fight, instead of having to fight to the death. At least it will do some good to Sharn to have one less drug den.”
Lalia shakes her head. “What is it with you guys and Daask?” She shrugs. “Anyway, after what you told me you’ve been up to, knocking over a drug den shouldn’t be a problem, as long as you’re careful. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if they get pissed off enough to come after you seriously. On the bright side, that new place you said you got is in one of the hardest areas of town for a Daask crew to come to, short of Skyway.”
“For me,” says Gareth, “They are evil, and that is enough. I think it is a matter we started with them and we want to finish them. The new place will be nice, and I think I will be able to get the master bedroom – I need a lot of space. And the Silver Flame help the poor soul who tries to enter my home uninvited, because nothing else will be able to.”
Lalia shrugs and extends a hand for Gareth to pull her to her feet. He gives her a hug and kiss. “And before I forget – the Archeirophant asked me to participate at a holiday for the Silver Flame. If you are not tied to any duties that day, would you like to come?”
“Oh, the Ascension? Not normally my thing, but I’d be curious to see what you’re doing. If I’m free, I may show up.” She hugs and kisses Gareth in return and says, “Stop by my place at seven this evening.”
“It would be nice to see you there. The Archeirophant would like me to join her in the ceremony, and that is a great honor for me.” He kisses Lalia back. “I will see you soon.” With that, Gareth turns and leaves.
That evening, Gareth shows up to Lalia’s home, dressed in fine clothing. He is carrying his new longsword, and is wearing his mithral chain shirt underneath his clothing. He also carries a bouquet of flowers (for Lalia) and a box of chocolates (for Tasra).
It’s Tasra who lets Gareth in, saying, “Good timing. Lalia just got done getting all dolled up for you.”
She leads Gareth into the living room, where Lalia is sitting, looking exceptionally fetching. While she isn’t dressed up for a night on the town, she has definitely spent more than a little time on her appearance. Lalia greets Gareth happily, especially when he hands over the bouquet.
Tasra seems even more excited about the chocolates, and by the time Lalia’s back with a vase, already has the box open and is digging in. “I’ve got to say, sis,” she mumbles around a mouthful of chocolate, “This one’s a keeper.”
Tasra rises and heads for the door, giving Gareth a wave, and says, “Thanks. These are great. Have fun, you two.” As she disappears out the door, one can hear her mumbling. “Uhmm - with these, who needs a man?”
Lalia grins after her and then turns back to Gareth. “I figured we’d spend the evening at home talking, rather than going out somewhere. I got us some nice wine, and I’m having dinner delivered, since that’s not exactly my strength. Better than bothering to go out somewhere, I think.”
Grinning at Tasra’s chocolate frenzy, Gareth turns to Lalia. “It will be nice to spend some time alone; at the very least I will not have to deal with the public at large. Being well known is not that fun”.
He takes the bottle of wine and uncorks it, pouring it into the glasses, and then hands Lalia a glass. With a grin, he toasts, “To a wild night out in Sharn?”
Lalia grins back, “I’ll drink to that.”
The evening passes very pleasantly. Most of the early conversation is about Gareth’s experiences during the time away from Sharn, Lalia being alternately amused, fascinated, and impressed by all that occurred. The whole issue of the demon in the sword is obviously of especial interest, but so is the whole story of how the Angels had apparently been manipulated by the rakshasas, as well as the details of the final battle and the last use of the Key.
The story takes a while longer than should be the case, since there are certain interruptions, with a fair amount of cuddling and as much physical contact as Gareth is willing to indulge in. Unsurprisingly, Lalia isn’t the one who draws the lines here, though she doesn’t push when Gareth does restrain himself.
Another interruption is for the start of dinner. The meal is excellent, consisting of traditional, and very well-made, Karrnathi cuisine. By the time they are done with the thick soup, heavy stew, multi-layered casserole, and crusty bread and cheese that make up the meal, Gareth is feeling quite heavy.
Lalia looks at him as he stifles a yawn, after they have left the table. “You’re looking tired. Sure you want to bother going all the way back home?” She grins roguishly and says, “If you stay, I promise I won’t hog the covers.”
Gareth hugs Lalia. “The wine was great, the meal even better, and your company the best. And I am feeling very tired. It has been a long day, and stressful. I would, if possible, prefer to stay here. Going home right now will mean I have to answer Six’s questions about what happened. He is trying to learn about human mating habits. Don’t ask! If it is okay with you, could I stay here,” Gareth pauses for a second, “On the couch?”
Lalia’s expressions flit very quickly between surprise, hope and eventual disappointment. She sighs and says, “Thanks. And that works just fine.”
She arranges a comfortable couch for Gareth to stay on and, after close to an hour more of talking, leaves him.
GARETH & FLIM:
The day after the group moves into the new house, while the rest of them are out:
There’s a knock on the door. Gareth opens it to find a very familiar-looking gnome standing on the doorstep. “Hey!” says Flim Turen, with a bright smile. “So you guys are back! Excellent! Sharn just isn’t the same without my favorite group of adventurers here.”
“Anyway, can I come in?” Even before the reply, Flim is walking forward. “So, tell me – what’s new with you guys? How’d you like the new place? Heard you got Brelish citizenships and all. Well, except you. And where’d you get those rakshasas you’re getting stuffed? You know, I’ve never heard of that being done by ... well, anyone. And you got a mind flayer stuffed there too! Very impressive. So ... what’s up?”
Gareth sighs, and is happy that nobody else is around. “Come on in, Flim. By the way, while it is no secret, would you please not publish the location of our home? We would prefer to make it as difficult as possible for our enemies to find out where we live.”
After ushering Flim into the main parlor, he continues, “The new place is not bad. We are right now organizing everything and trying to keep Luna from putting hay on the floor.” The expression on his face indicates that he’s not joking. “As for the rakshasas, we actually left behind a skin or two. You probably want to hear the story, don’t you? But first, tell us what is new with Sharn ... with Daask, Boromar, politics in general?”
Flim looks around with interest as he enters, grinning at the sight of a stuffed mindflayer. After sitting down, he says, “I’m afraid there’ll be a mention of you folks having moved in here, just because it’s really newsworthy. But even if the KC didn’t mention it, nobody wanting to find you would have any real trouble. You moved into a high society area, about as high as you can get short of Upper Central and Skyway, and you’re the only still functional adventurers in Sharn to do so. Privacy and anonymity isn’t happening for you guys. Believe me.”
“As for what’s new with Sharn, you’ve only been gone about 2 weeks, I believe, so not much. Elections took place on the 9th, as always. Daask and Boromar are still at it, with Daask making a little bit more of a push in the last 3-4 days. I’m betting they got new reinforcements in from Droaam or wherever they get them. Still, it’ll take a while before they recover to the position they were in 4-5 months ago. Nothing really new politically, other than the one big story about the Aundairan ambassador disappearing. Well, one of them. Helais ir’Lantar disappeared around the time you folks left town, give or take a day. His twin Alais has announced a big reward for any news about him. I believe they called in some serious divination help, but no good. Might be something you guys could be interested in. That’s pretty much it.”
“So,” he concludes, “What have you been up to? And yes, I do want to hear the story. The Guardian Angels leave Sharn for 2 weeks and come back with a couple of dead rakshasas? You’ve got to have something juicy for me there.”
Gareth listens with interest to the stories, making note of the key points, such as Daask’s reinforcements. He then begins recounting the highlights of the group’s recent adventures, leaving out specific information such as the location of the final battle, the loss of his paladin abilities & Kizmet, and any personal details as it relates to other group members.
“So,” he concludes, “What questions do you have?”
Flim, who has been listening with great interest, produces and flips open a notebook. “Just two. Could you cover all of that slowly? And this all goes back to that Xen’drik trip and the trouble you had afterwards, right?”
As he speaks, he is scribbling very fast in some form of shorthand, not even bothering to look down at the pad. “You people really do have the best adventures. This could make a great series of stories, you know.” The gnome stops for a moment, thinks for a bit, and then says, “Actually, I do have another question. Would you consider letting us turn your adventures into a regular column in the Chronicle?”
Gareth replies, “Yes, this all relates back to the Xen’drik trip, and the reason I can tell you so much is because it is over. That is also one of the reasons I cannot agree to a ‘regular column’.” Gareth pauses for a second “For one, our stories are inconsistent in their timing; we do not know when our next holy quest will be – it may be tomorrow or it may never happen.”
“You guys only doing holy quests now?” interrupts Flim. “I thought the rest weren’t as devout as you are.”
Gareth says, with a serious and matter-of-fact tone, “All quests that are just and serve the greater good are holy quests. Anyway, as I was saying, the second, and my most important, consideration is the security factor. We cannot always give you all the details to a story, because it may hurt someone or hinder our quest. We give you what we can, and our relationship asks that you respect that – otherwise we could not have this kind of relationship.” Gareth pauses for another moment. “The last thing is – it has to be a two way street. I am not giving you this information to be famous. Frankly, if you never posted our names or faces we would be happy with this. We are doing it so that, one, the stories will be correct, and two, so you can help us when we need it.”
“That’s not a problem,” says Flim quickly. “I’m thinking of something like a weekly column, and from what you’ve told me, the Xen’drik trip itself would fill up a good three or four columns. With everything that happened after that, we’d already have enough material for a couple of months.”
“And you don’t have to worry about covering everything. It’s not like we’d actually have the space to devote to a detailed coverage of everything you did, or do, so there’d be a lot to leave out anyway. Omitting specifically what you want left out will be just fine.”
“And as far as it being a two way street – absolutely. While the KC couldn’t get materially involved with what you do, I can always pass along a little information that matters to what you’re dealing with. If that leads to more and better stories, the editor would have no problems with it. And in your line of work, information is always handy, I know. Plus, the Chronicle is run by the Library of Zilargo, which is the best collection of knowledge on the continent bar none. Even the University of Wynarn, leave alone Morgrave University here in Sharn, is way behind. So I can also get reliable people back in Zilargo to dig up information on things you need, in return for being allowed to write on what you’re doing. Whatever you’re fine with the public hearing, of course.”
“So - does that sound better?”
Gareth listens carefully and then says, “Everything sounds good. Again, as long as you can respect an answer of ‘we can’t tell you, and please don’t dig this particular bit up’ then we can work together. My main concern is the safety of innocents.”
“Excellent!” says Flim. “I’ll talk to the editor and get back to you about it.” The gnome reporter takes his leave quickly, saying that he will stop by in a few days, once he has some idea of how the subject of the Angels’ adventures will be handled in the Chronicle.
GARETH & THE ARCHIEROPHANT:
Two days after Gareth met her, an acolyte delivers a message from the Archierophant asking him to see her the next day in the morning. When Gareth arrives, he is shown into her office where, as usual, she is seated at her desk in full armor.
“Ah, Gareth,” she says, with a smile, “Sit down.”
Once he is seated, she continues, “I have good news for you, as well as …potentially … good news. First, to the good news – I have communed with the Silver Flame. Your father’s spirit is part of the Flame now. He is at peace, forever beyond the reach of Dolurrh or any evil.”
Upon hearing the news, Gareth’s face lights up. “Thank you. That is the best news I could hear. It alleviates a lot of worries for me.” He closes his eyes and breathes both a sigh of relief and a quick prayer, before reopening them. “What is the other news?”
Ythana nods and says dryly, with just a hint of humor, “Yes, finding out that they do not have to go to Dolurrh often does alleviate many worries for people.” She continues crisply, “As for the other news - it is more information than news, actually, and a possibility for you to consider. Tell me, have you heard of Flamekeeper Jalus Baine?”
When Gareth says that he has not, Ythana continues, “I am not surprised. Over 500 years ago, he led a group of the faithful into the depths of Sharn on a mighty task. In those days, when the light of the Flame was still relatively new to Khorvaire, the Dark Six were often worshipped openly, and temples to them were built in hidden places. When Sharn was built, an enormous temple to the Dark Six was constructed beneath the city.” The distaste in her tone is evident.
Gareth empathizes and nods along with Ythanna’s story, surprised that he has not heard of this person, considering that he has studied the history of the Flame well enough even if he was educated about it by his family.
Ythana continues, “Jalus Baine was one of the finest and holiest of templars, and he would not let this darkness lurk in the depths of the city. So he collected a force and traveled to the temple, where they exterminated the worshippers and razed it to the ground. The surviving worshippers of the temple fled to a dark sanctuary they had, where they brought forth an evil force, which would have slain our people and then taken the people of Sharn. After a mighty battle, Jalus called on the Flame and sacrificed himself to destroy them. As he wished, his remaining templars buried him there, on his field of victory.”
“I have pieced together this information over years, since the records of the time are fragmented and unreliable. I now believe that I know the general location where Jalus rests.”
She leans forward and says, “What I would like you to do is travel there and recover his remains, so that they can be enshrined as they deserve. Not only would that be an especially appropriate quest for a champion of the Flame like yourself, but I believe you will be very interested in something that I believe was buried with Jalus. The records provide no details, but they say that Jalus wielded a holy sword known as the Endless Blade. I cannot think of anyone in Sharn in whose hands I would rather see such a blade than yours.” She falls silent, clearly waiting for a response.
Gareth replies quickly. “I would have gone on this holy quest even if you did not mention this most holy of weapons, and I will do this. You honor me by saying I am a worthy champion of the flame, but at this moment, I feel that I am not worthy to even bear a symbol, let alone a weapon that belonged to such a hero.” Thinking for a brief second, he adds, “I will speak to my comrades, and ask them to come with me – whether they do or don’t matters not to my decision, but I think I would need them. Please, let me know all the details that you can. Whatever you think I may expect to encounter ... undead, priests, demons, evil outsiders, or all of the above.”
Ythana looks at Gareth and says, with complete seriousness, “I think you’re underestimating yourself, Gareth. What you have done recently was a mighty task, and the Flame sees fit to grant you both the powers of a cleric and an Exorcist. That is not lightly granted.”
She continues, her voice turning slightly sympathetic, “I understand that you are distraught by the loss of your paladinhood ... or rather, the powers of a paladin, but as you know, that was no fault of yours, but rather the manipulations of a demon. Do not blame or consider yourself the lesser for it. If you are to become a paladin again, the Flame will allow it when it chooses. And if not, remember, the path of the paladin is a holy one, but it is not the only creditable one in the service of the Flame.” As she speaks, Gareth remembers that Ythana herself is high in the service of the Flame, but is not a paladin herself.
“Still,” she says, “Your humility does you credit. As for your friends, while I appreciate your resolve, I hope they will accompany you. The depths are not a safe place, and who knows if anything of the evil Jalus died to destroy has remained. It is difficult to be sure, because the records are so old and fragmentary. Even details about Jalus himself are very limited. As I said, all I know of his sword is its name and that it was a holy weapon.”
Ythana leans back and steeples her fingers, while considering something silently. Then she says, “Give me a week. I will see again what I can decipher about the event and about what it was they fought. I also need to find a reliable guide for you, since it is a large area, somewhere within which I believe Jalus was interred. You will need to do some searching. Also, I will cast a divination or two to try and find guidance for you.”
“Again, I am pleased that you have agreed, but then I expected you would. Is there anything else you would like me to do or any questions you have?”
Gareth shakes his head. “I have no other questions that I can think of. I am sure this holy quest is incredibly dangerous, otherwise you would probably send others. And I am sure my companions will come. While many of my group members say they prefer to do nothing, they also get incredibly bored.” Pausing for a second, he adds, “Besides, I have a feeling we will get in trouble with some evil group or other and will need to leave Sharn for a little bit. That seems to happen to us a great deal.” Pausing again, and thinking of Lalia, he adds quietly, “Though there are things that I miss terribly when I must leave.”
“Actually,” he continues, “I do have one request. When you find this guide, I would also like to run an interview with him under magical scrutiny. The places we are going to are difficult and we not only need more powerful guides who can withstand the rigors we undergo, but ones we can trust.”
“Certainly,” replies Ythana. “I am thinking of this more from the point of view of someone who can lead you into the general area of the Depths I believe Jalus’ resting place is, and let you do whatever exploration is needed, rather than actually doing any searching - or battle, if needed - himself, but reliability is certainly something I want to ensure. Is there anything else you wish to know or request?”
Gareth shakes his head and then rises. “As of now, I do not, Archierophant. I will speak with my group members immediately. Thank you.”
As he walks out, he suddenly feels happier than he has since the loss of Kizmet and his powers. Things are finally looking up.
Saturday, 23rd December, 2006, 05:57 PM #264
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by Sidekick
Actually, it kind of reminds of the movie "A beautiful mind"
Dr. Rosen: "Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of hell would that be? "
Last edited by Furby076; Saturday, 23rd December, 2006 at 06:12 PM.
Sunday, 24th December, 2006, 09:41 AM #265
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Originally Posted by shilsen
You have no idea how much that makes me laugh. Inside, maybe, but it still made me laugh.
Sunday, 24th December, 2006, 07:00 PM #266
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Originally Posted by Solarious
And to indicate the appropriateness of the phrase you quoted, here are the details of the famous raid on the Daask drug den.
Enjoy! After all, somebody should, considering how much the PCs did not
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The Guardian Angels, with the notable exception of Luna, stroll into Malleon’s Gate. Even without her presence, their heavily armed nature draws a lot of wary attention from the primarily goblinoid inhabitants of the district. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that they are laughing and chatting casually among themselves, with about as much wariness as one would have when traveling through the skybridges of Upper Central in the middle of the afternoon. Or at least some of them are.
“Really, Six,” says Nameless, “I think you’re not seeing the enjoyment factor here.”
The warforged, who is currently appearing as a big hobgoblin, via his hat of disguise shakes his head. “I just don’t think it’s really necessary to antagonize Daask like this.”
“What antagonize?” asks Korm. “We go in there, kick some ass, and go home. No big deal.”
“Yes,” agrees Gareth. “And it’s one of their more successful drug dens, I hear, so taking it down will be a very good thing.” Just a trifle grimly, he adds, “And I could use a little exercise. After … what happened with Kizmet … I’m really going to enjoy bringing a little pain to other more deserving people. And I need to try out this longsword and shield style too, since I haven’t used one in a while. And try out this new armor.” He looks down at the exceptionally well-made armor he now wears, already adorned with symbols of the Flame.
Korm pats a pocket. “I have a few new things to try out too, except in this case it’s a spell. When I tell you guys not to stand too close to me, pay attention. I’m going to blow myself up.” The big orc chuckles to himself.
Nameless doesn’t bother to ask, having seen Korm cast a fire seeds spell just before leaving the house. “And I have a couple I want to try, as well as getting more practice with this ring. Look at it this way, Six – we could either be out doing this, or be home with Luna. And she said she’s got cramps. Do you want to be in the same building as Luna when she has cramps?”
Though the question is aimed at Six, all three of Nameless’ companions shake their heads in unison.
A few minutes later…
One of the two gnolls leaning against the wall beside the door looks up at the sound of hurried movement near the corner of the street. The small collection of goblins around the nearby rat-seller’s stand are scattering, and it takes only a second to make out the reason.
Four figures are striding down the street as if they owned it. In the lead is a large orc, wearing a dark brown robe that leaves his muscular chest bare, the hilt of a large sword protruding over his right shoulder. Behind the orc is a tall and muscular human, his armor gleaming even in the dull light that penetrates to the smoky depths of Lower Dura, a shield strapped to one arm and a longsword at his side. Beside the human is a burly hobgoblin, in simpler armor, but wearing two, or maybe three, spiked chains wrapped around himself.
What especially draws the gnoll’s attention – and makes his hackles stand on end – is the relatively nondescript, smaller man walking beside the orc. He wears no armor and has no obvious weapons, garbed in well-worn traveler’s clothing, but even at this distance the gnoll can see that there’s something wrong with his eyes. And his hands are moving in the gestures of what can only be a spell.
The gnoll barks a warning, causing his companion to come to full attention, battleaxe in hand, while their two goblin companions quickly raise their crossbows. Before any of them can act, however, the human speaks a string of words and a flaming bead shoots from his hands. And as it reaches the horrified watchers, it explodes into a huge sphere of flame.
The four adventurers walk over and look down at the charred bodies. Korm turns to look at the tiny charred pieces of wood hanging off the hinges, which are all that remain of the door the gnolls and goblins had been guarding. “Damn! Nice fireball!”
Nameless smirks and indicates his ring. “The joys of empowering a spell are mighty indeed.”
Gareth, peering into the chamber that Nameless’ spell expanded into after blowing the door off, says, “You cleaned this one out too.” He walks in, followed by Korm and Nameless, while Six takes up position at the door, looking up and down the street. The cries and sight of fleeing goblinoids in either direction makes it evident that the group’s activities have been noticed. “Let’s hurry this up,” he says.
The large room inside, which takes up the entire front of the building, is now a shambles. The couple of tables and the chairs around them have been reduced to smithereens, and the one large counter is badly damaged. In front of it lies a man dressed like a workman, comparatively less charred than the guards, but also very dead. A large chunk of the door is actually buried in the wall above the counter, and Korm, checking behind the counter, finds that another chunk is buried in what remains of the head of another man lying behind it. The packing crates that line one wall have taken some damage, but not that much.
As the Angels are checking out these elements, one of the two doors in the back of the room opens, and two howling gnolls charge at them. Gareth calmly steps forward, and a swing of his adamantine blade leaves one gnoll holding a short stick instead of a battleaxe. The other rushes up and swings at Korm’s bare chest, only for his axe to bounce off the magical protections layering the druid. Korm simply grins at him, as Nameless casts a quick spell, causing a twenty foot long tentacled centipede to appear and bite deeply into the shocked gnoll’s shoulder.
There is a howl of fear and the door the gnolls emerged from is hastily shut, followed quickly by the sound of a grating or portcullis being slammed shut behind it. Five seconds later, one of the gnolls is dead and the other is gibbering in fear and begging to be allowed to live in exchange for information. The answer it receives is “Shut up and don’t get in the way,” as the Angels continue inwards, or at least the three of them besides Six, who remains at the door.
Nameless steps up and fires another empowered resonating bolt of sonic energy, which blasts apart the door the gnolls came through. It reveals the broad metal and wood bars of a portcullis behind the door and a large antechamber beyond it, and continues on through the spaces between them to also blast through another door about fifteen feet away on the far side of the antechamber.
As the sounds of the explosion clear, everyone can hear the sounds of multiple gnoll voices, shouting and arguing loudly, fear very evident in them. Trying vainly to shout over the voices is a thinner one, in Common – “Stop shouting! Get in formation, dammit! They’ll be here any moment!”
One of the gnoll voices switches to accented Common and shouts, “It’s them! The four crazy bastards! I know them! We’re all going to die!” This causes the other voice to switch to insults and dire threats, and also draws broad smiles from Korm, Gareth and Nameless. “Hey, they know us!”
Korm chops apart the barrier with his sword, its meteoric iron reducing the portcullis quickly to nothing. As he finishes, he hears stealthy movement behind the next door. “You guys go this way – and I’ll handle these ones,” he says, as he moves over to stand before it.
Gareth and Nameless comply, strolling casually into the back room where all the voices came from. As they pass through the chamber in between, they see doors to either side, much like they had in the last drug den they attacked, but ignore them, secure in their power. The huge centipede slithers ahead of its master, following Nameless’ commands.
The room they enter is a long one, almost as large as the entrance chamber, but a little shorter. A small curtained doorway is at the far end, and a robed goblin stands in front of it, yelling orders to the six gnolls, three with battleaxes and three with longbows, which stand between it and the entrance the Angels come through. “There! Kill the…,” begins the goblin, but never finishes the sentence.
Nameless stops in the doorway and casts a spell, sending a green ray of coruscating energy into its chest, and there is only a whiff of dust as the goblin is disintegrated, its robes and other belongings falling in a neat pile on the floor. “Hello everybody,” says Nameless with a bright smile.
“Everything okay in there?” yells Six, still at the doorway of the building.
“Yes,” shouts back Gareth with a smile, twirling his sword in anticipation as he steps forward. “We’re peachy!”
Korm, waiting quietly in front of the other doorway, reaches into his pocket and produces a handful of holly berries. He holds them out in front of him and grins in anticipation. This is going to be such fun!
And that, precisely, is the moment when things start to go very, very wrong.
The axe-wielding gnolls, facing Gareth and the huge centipede, scream in a mixture of rage and fury and charge. The centipede snaps its jaws shut around one’s shoulder, while Gareth slashes one across the chest. To his surprise, the gnoll does not go down, but snarls and brings its axe down to impact painfully on his armor. The other two bury their axes deep into the centipede’s side.
Even as the axes are hitting, the archers shoot, and both Gareth and Nameless shudder as they feel the pain of human-bane arrows striking home. Damn! Should have remembered they carry these!
To round things off, one of the doors Nameless and Gareth ignored is wrenched open, and a roaring ogre emerges. Its greatsword smashes into the startled mage’s side, slamming him against the wall, only failing to drop him because of the enchantments he has been permanently blessed with as a result of the battle with the rakshasas. Behind it Nameless can see another ogre in the doorway, evidently the one who opened the door for its companion.
Six, unable to see into the room, but seeing the ogre emerge and smash Nameless, shouts, “Damn! Get your asses out of here!”
Gareth, just as startled at the appearance of the ogre, yells back, “Stop shouting advice and get in here and help!”
Korm, unsure exactly what’s going on, but certain that something is wrong, glares at the door in front of him and wonders why it hasn’t opened yet. He places his ear to it and hears some muffled words, and closer at hand, the sounds of multiple people drinking something. Crap! They’re drinking potions! He hastily grabs at his sword to hack at the door.
Inside the other room, even as more arrows hit them, Gareth hurries to interpose himself between Nameless and the ogre. Calling on the Flame for aid, he lands a powerful blow, which only seems to infuriate his enemy.
Behind him Nameless, badly wounded and rendered unusually panicky by the sudden shift of the enjoyable little exercise session into a very deadly scenario, hurriedly dimension doors himself to the main chamber. Just a second too late, he realizes that he should have brought along a passenger. “Gareth!” he yells, “Get out!”
“And how the hell do I do that?” shouts Gareth, as the ogre between him and the main chamber is now joined by its companion. One greatsword blow almost caves in his shield and the following one launches him backwards across the chamber to land flat on his back, right in the middle of the gnolls.
“Guys! I’m in trouble!” shouts Gareth, before hastily rolling out of the way of an axe and casting a spell. He draws down a blast of holy power to smite his enemies, and though it doesn’t kill any of them, it renders half of them temporarily blind.
“Six! Get in there!” yells Korm, as he hacks at the door in front of him. A couple of blows shatters it to pieces, revealing a corridor occupied by many more enemies. Two more axe-wielding gnolls stand in front of him, with two more archers fifteen feet behind them. Standing behind the archers is what seems to be a human, but it is difficult to say due to his hooded cloak.
“Fine!” grumbles Six, muttering, “I never wanted to do this,” under his breath and leaping forward. His chain licks out and slashes into the back of one of the ogres, both of whom are focused on the other room and Gareth. As his surprised target cries out, Six leaps back out of range.
Behind him, Nameless yells an order to the centipede to find another exit, and the creature tries to comply. As it heads for the curtained doorway, two axes bury themselves in its skull and it shudders, and then fades away.
But the time it buys Gareth is invaluable, as is the spell Nameless uses to slow the ogres. As they ponderously turn to try and attack Six, Gareth rises and rushes between them as fast as he can. The sighted gnolls howl, now in a combination of relief and blood-lust, and follow.
Korm, meanwhile, has problems of his own. The gnolls fling down the potion bottles they had just drunk from and attack as soon as he smashes the door, and though the axes bounce off his magical protections, a couple of arrows hit. Luckily for him, the gnolls do not possess orc-bane arrows, but the magical frost that tips them still hurts.
With an anticipatory grin, he extends the holly berries and pronounces a command, causing them to explode in an incredible burst of flame*. Warded by a protection he cast before the group launched the attack, he is unscathed, but the gnolls next to him are engulfed in flame. As they scream and try to dodge the explosion, Korm smiles. And then curses as they remain on their feet, though incredibly burned and clearly on the verge of death.**
As more axes and arrows hit home, Korm angrily backs away and blasts them to death with a flame strike, also wounding the archers. The robed man, however, remains unscathed, and he hurls a small object.
Korm dodges away, but the man is aiming for the ground behind him. As the bead of force hits, it explodes, blasting all of the Angels. A globe of force attempts to envelop Korm but he barely dodges aside. Nameless, already badly wounded, slumps to the floor, unconscious and dying.
Korm, Six and Gareth attempt to fight back as the remaining eight gnolls, the two ogres and the spellcaster advance into the room, but it’s clearly a losing battle. One of the ogres cuts Gareth down, and though Korm decapitates it a moment later, a lightning bolt from the spellcaster badly wounds him in turn.
Six and Korm are driven back, until they are outside in the street, facing the multiple enemies. Though the remaining ogre and the spellcaster are almost completely unhurt, the gnolls are all badly wounded, and Korm prepares to unleash an arc of lightning that he hopes will take advantage of the crowded conditions to slay most of the them.
But before he can do so, the enemy spellcaster says something to the gnolls. Immediately, two of the archers lower their bows, placing an arrow each at the unconscious Gareth’s and Nameless’ skulls and drawing back.
“Your friends,” says the spellcaster calmly, “Are dead if you make a hostile move. You cannot win. Drop your weapons and surrender – or they die.”
Six and Korm exchange glances. And then, without a word, Six turns and runs down the street.
Korm’s jaw sags open as he goes, “Whuh?!” He looks at the rapidly retreating Six, back at the enemies, and back at Six. And then he turns and follows as quickly as he can, leaving Nameless and Gareth in the hands of Daask.
* 140 pts of damage to anything within 5 ft. Fire seeds is nasty!
** Both saved for 70 pts of damage, and the fact that they were raging and Korm had just given them enough time to drink potions of Bear’s Endurance meant they had 72 hp before the blast
Wednesday, 27th December, 2006, 12:53 PM #267
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Korm and Six speed away from the Daask drug den as fast at they can run, followed by the laughter and jeers of the people (primarily goblinoids) who have gathered at a safe distance to see what was going on.
The two hurry down a couple of streets, and then come to a halt, so that Korm can produce a potion and swallow it. This heals his wounds enough that he can come out of his berserker state without keeling over, but it does leave him fatigued from the exertion. Having done so, he suggests that Six stay behind keep an eye on the place, in case Daask move Gareth and Nameless, while he goes to fetch Luna.
As Korm is explaining the plan, the two see a few goblinoids peering around the end of the road, pointing at them. They’re fairly sure some of them are laughing. Korm shakes his head in disgust, concentrates and two large hawk wings spring from his back. With a growl at the goblinoids, he springs into the air.
The watching goblinoids’ eyes go wide, and most quickly duck back around the corner, while a couple crouch reflexively and stare in fascination as Korm takes to the sky. His ascent is evidently noted by others too, with cries of alarm and fascination ringing out. From a tower window nearby, a small goblin child shouts, “Mamma! Mamma! Come see the ugly bird!”
Whether a similar error be the reason or not, as Korm flaps his wings to gain altitude, a couple of crossbow bolts come shooting up at an angle, only to bounce of his layers of magical protection. Looking down in that direction, he sees a group of four armored hobgoblins heading down the adjoining street. They are only a few dozen feet from the corner, around which is the street Six is on. Two, with crossbows, have stopped to shoot at him, while the other two are moving towards the corner.
Six, down on the ground, cannot see who or what shot at Korm, but he clearly hears the sound of crossbows and sees the bolts bounce off Korm. He instantly realizes that the shooters were around the corner, which is about fifty feet from where he stands.
The warforged hurries in the opposite direction and makes it around the next corner unmolested. Glancing back, he sees two armored hobgoblins come around the corner cautiously. They look around but don’t see Six, and proceed carefully into the street, followed shortly afterwards by two crossbowmen.
With his greater speed, as well as the hat of disguise, Six leaves them behind and blends in easily among the goblinoids of the area. Swinging around and heading back to the drug den, he finds a small crowd of people watching the place and talking animatedly, but nobody getting really close.
Two of the gnolls stand just outside the doorway, looking around carefully, and talking quietly among themselves. Though he cannot really make out many details inside, Six can see that neither Gareth nor Nameless lies where he fell. The corpse of the one ogre has been dragged to one side, as evidenced by his large feet sticking out. There is a significant amount of movement inside, and a few seconds later, the hooded man comes into sight as he calls the gnolls in.
The two gnolls enter the building and the other ogre reappears for a moment, to place a large crate in front of the doorway. Others follow, and soon a makeshift barricade has been created. The pair of gnolls take up position behind it and the movement inside ceases. Six too takes up a position off in the shadows of a building some distance away and settles down to watch.
It takes a good two hours for Korm to return with an irritated Luna, who is in the shape of a hawk for added speed/maneuverability, and rejoin Six near the drug den. Along the way, Korm has explained everything to Luna about the fiasco with the attack on the drug den and been considerably berated for not being able to do anything without her along.
When they arrive and meet Six in an alley a little distance away, the warforged explains what he has seen. After some discussion, the trio comes up with an ingenious, complicated, and very likely soon to be amusing, plan.
Luna summons a xorn and instructs it that it is to earth glide into the drug den, taking the newly purchased portable hole with it, and to flip it open as soon as it was inside.
Luna then summons a huge earth elemental close to the doorway to the drug den, while Korm is casting a barkskin on Six. Though she cannot communicate with it, the magic of the spell sends the creature rushing at the doorway and the barricade. As people on the street scream and flee, and howls of terror ring out from the unfortunate gnolls behind the barricade, the three remaining Angels jump into the portable hole. A second later, the hole goes dark, as the xorn grabs it and disappears into the ground.
Inside the portable hole, the three adventurers wait, cast protective spells, and hope that the xorn makes it all the way through and opens the portable hole before the summon spell that brought it here ends.
After approximately thirty seconds of waiting, light – and the loud sounds of a battle – appears at the top of the portable hole. Scrambling out as quickly as they can, the three Angels see that they are at one end of the large entrance room to the drug den. The xorn waits patiently by the portable hole, which it has placed on the floor and opened as instructed.
Barely ten feet away is the remnants of the barricade and four gnolls engaged in battle with the earth elemental. Make that three gnolls, since one is a flattened corpse, and even as the trio emerges from the hole, another is smashed against the wall, leaving one archer and an axe-wielding gnoll. From the looks of things, the only reason the gnolls are still alive is because the elemental is too large for the room, hunched over to fit inside and unable to attack as freely as it might. Even hunched as it is, it only fits because parts of it are melded with the floor, walls and ceiling.
A quick glance reveals no signs of Nameless or Gareth in the areas that can be seen. The corpse of the dead ogre and the two gnolls Korm had incinerated are lying in one of the antchamber/corridors linking the entrance chamber to the rooms further inside.
The gnoll archer manages to land a shot on Luna (who isn’t in bear form yet, because it would be too tight a fit in the hole), but a round later, both of the remaining gnolls are down, under the combination of Luna’s, Six’s and Korm’s attacks, as well as the elemental’s. Two of the four gnolls seem to still be alive.
The elemental promptly stops, since there are no enemies in sight and no commands for it to follow. The three Angels hurry through the two doors and into the back rooms of the drug den. A quick search, involving the next couple of minutes (during which both elemental and xorn disappear, as the spells end), reveals no sign of Gareth and Nameless, or of the other enemies the group had fought.
The other rooms in the drug den include a couple clearly used by the ogres and the gnolls, other rooms apparently used by humans and goblins, a large master bedroom with two beds, a storeroom, a moderately well maintained alchemist’s lab, a meeting room, a kitchen/dining room, and a large privy. Most of the place is quite dirty, but functional. Interestingly, much of it looks like it was very hastily evacuated, with open chests and boxes lying around and various things hastily tossed on the floor. There is not a single sign of any drugs on the premises.
The only living things in the place are a couple of goblins, dressed in fairly ragged clothes, ho are hiding in the back. They scream in fear as they see the three heavily armed adventurers and begin to gibber, asking not to be killed.
Six intimidates the goblins into talking by simply walking into the room, as the screaming and the growing puddles around them indicate. As soon as he asks where the others went, the goblins begin to squeak over each other in their hurry to provide information. What eventually emerges is the following:
“Bosses take them. Priest-man have them tied up and gagged first. Then he get the ogre and the other gnolls to take away all the shinies and the magic drinking stuff and your friends. They go down secret tunnel. Priest-man tell four gnolls to stay guard in case Boromar come, and say he be back sometime to check. Gnolls not happy but have to stay. Us also have to stay. Us tell you everything. Us show you everything. Please not kill us. Us very nice. Us clean room and cook for you. Please not kill us. Squeak, squeak, whine, cry, widdle.”
As promised, the goblins show the trio that there is a well-concealed trapdoor, large enough to let an ogre pass through, in the antechamber right outside the ogres’ room. Beneath it, a large, sturdy ladder leads down a dozen feet to one end of a very crudely carved tunnel that leads off toward the southeast.
A search of the rooms also leads to Six finding a couple of hidden panels, one in the main bedroom and one in the side of the meeting room. Both are empty, but the latter has a smashed vial in the corner, with a small pool of liquid. It seems to be dreamlily, a popular drug in Sharn.
Korm and Luna each summon a phantom stag and have the creatures precede them down the tunnel, with the trio following. The tunnel twists and turns, but seems to continue in a southeasterly direction. It also seems to be descending at a shallow rate.
After a few minutes of traveling, the phantom stags enter a larger cavern, even as torchlight appears at the far end, about sixty feet away. The light reveals half a dozen gnolls, along with four goblins, and an ogre. There is also a cloaked human, who resembles the spellcaster from the battle in the drug den, but it is difficult to be sure.
It is the last who quickly throws up his hands, stopping his allies, who are raising weapons, and shouts, “Stop! Don’t attack! If you want your friends back, you will speak to me.”
Six stops and says, “Luna – no flame strikes! Yet.”
The man takes a step forward, when it seems that hostilities are not commencing instantly, and says, “Your companions are safe and alive. We have spoken with them and they have agreed to call a truce with Daask for six months, in return for being allowed to leave alive and unharmed. We want no trouble with you and simply want to stop these attacks on our establishments. If we had killed them, you would want vengeance, and that is something we do not need. In fact, as we speak, they are being returned unharmed, to another location from which they can return to your home.”
The man stops, as if realizing something. Slowly, he says, “I presume your presence here means that you killed our remaining people above.” There is an immediate growl from some of the gnolls, but he motions for them to be quiet. “It is unfortunate, but you couldn’t realize that we were reaching an understanding with your friends.”
“Please, leave now. Your friends, as I said, are safe and likely waiting for you.”
The three adventurers exchange glances. The man sounds sincere. Six sighs and then says, “All right. We will leave, but if this is a trick we will be back. And this time, with serious backup. Now I have a request. I would like to speak with your leaders. How can I send them a message?”
The man looks genuinely surprised. He thinks for a moment and then says, “You know where this place is, so it’s as good an option as any. We’ll make sure that they know you’re not to be harmed. That’s already a given, now that your friends have promised that you will not harm us, of course. Leave a message here and it’ll get through. We’ll send a reply to your house.”
He pauses, looks at the trio quizzically, and asks, “Could you tell me what you’d like to speak to them about?”
“Nothing right now,” says Six. “In a few days I may want to talk business.”
And then the discussion is interrupted by a yell from the rear.
Last edited by shilsen; Wednesday, 27th December, 2006 at 01:04 PM.
Friday, 29th December, 2006, 03:34 PM #268
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Six has been added to the Rogues Gallery here.
And now, going back a little in time, to see what actually happened to Gareth and Nameless:
* * * * * *
In the Hands of Daask
The first thing Gareth and Nameless are aware of is the sensation of having unseen people holding them down while someone forces a thick, incredibly smelly, bitter liquid down their throats. Unfortunately, being blindfolded, near naked, and still groggy from their wounds, which apparently have been tended only enough to keep them alive, there is no way to resist short of letting the person drown them with the liquid. In fact, struggle or not, the process itself is enough to send them back into unconsciousness, the last memory being the nauseating feeling of the liquid burning down their throats.
The next time they awake, it is less painful. It is to the warmth of healing magic, if a limited amount, closing their wounds and bringing them back to reality. It is a painful one, accompanied by a churning in their gut as if they had eaten – or drunk – something that disagreed very strongly with them. They open their eyes to see they are sitting in a dark room, lit dimly by a lantern, in a pair of chairs. Both Nameless and Gareth are tied to their respective seats, with hands pinioned to the armrests, and are dressed in only their underclothes. From the corners of their eyes, they can make out that a pair of people – or creatures – stands behind and beside each of them. Even if they could not see them, the cold feeling of steel pressed to the back of their necks would be unmistakable.
Across the table from them, mostly shrouded in shadow, is a humanoid figure. Nameless is unable to see her features, but Gareth, able to see in the dark, sees that she is a human woman, perhaps in her early thirties. Her long hair hangs open, framing a strong, rather than attractive, face. Behind the woman stands a figure that even in the shadows that make vision difficult for Nameless, is clearly a minotaur, and a particularly muscular one. Gareth, able to make out more details, thinks that he is very likely the one they saw in Shamukaar, the Daask lieutenant called Torarg Blackhorn.
An elderly human stands between Gareth and Nameless, and he removes his hands from their shoulders. He looks at the woman and says, “They are healed. But not too much.” The woman nods and he turns away, heading towards a door to the right of the two prisoners. As he opens and steps through it, there is a glimpse of a dark hallway beyond. Gareth also notices the holy symbol hanging openly on his chest. It is the black, twisted symbol of the Mockery, the deity of dark magic and the corruption of nature.
As the door closes, the woman speaks. Her voice is smooth and pleasant. “First, let’s make one thing clear. Please don’t try to cast any spells. You’re not likely to be able to, considering your current condition, and even if you could, you’d never get it out fast enough to prevent a blade removing your head. And that would be regrettable.” She leans forward slightly, clasping her hands in front of her. “Tell me, Gareth Byron Deneith and Nameless, what do you have against Daask?”
Gareth instinctively struggles with his bonds, and asks, “Where are we located? And who are you?” He quickly realizes they put some effort into the bonds. He could break out if he had a couple of minutes of uninterrupted time to work on them. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here, as evidenced by a growl from the rear and a quick, “Don’t do that,” from the woman. She looks past Gareth and says to the two behind him, “If he tries to get out again, smack him. But no killing.”
She looks back at Gareth and smiles, though there’s little humor in it. “You are ... elsewhere from Malleon’s Gate. And I am the woman who’s asking you the questions. If you want to leave alive, and let me say now that I have no intention of hurting you if we can reach an understanding, then you will answer my questions.”
She leans forward again. “Let me explain my question a little better, so that you understand. This is the second time you have attacked a Daask establishment ... no, make that third, since you were the ones who took our payroll. Why are you so interested in attacking us? As far as I know, Daask has not bothered you in any way.”
Gareth stops struggling, and replies, “I wouldn’t say Daask has never hurt me or my friends in the past. Your guild members have stolen from us, and we never did reclaim all of our items. But a better answer to your question – what we have against Daask - your ever annoying presence in Sharn hurting those who cannot stand up to you. No better then Boromar.” He snorts, “As for not killing us, I highly doubt you will not.”
The minotaur growls angrily, but the woman waves a hand and he falls silent. “Don’t be silly,” she says, irritation clear in her voice. “If I was going to kill you, why would I be talking to you? Believe me, your coversation isn’t that scintillating.”
She gives a sigh and seems to compose herself. “So this is all some great heroic effort to clean up the city? If, as you say, we are no better than the Boromars, why don’t you spread the love and go bother them somewhat? I know, I know - there is no arguing with holy crusaders, so I shouldn’t bother. According to some,” and she glances at the minotaur, “I should just kill you and be done with it.”
“But, however, and I am being completely honest here, you face me with a big problem. I could have you killed right now. But you have powerful friends. Not just the two which escaped and that druid Luna, but others you know in the city. For all I know, killing you will send them seeking revenge on us. And while I can deal with that, I would much rather not.”
Gareth interrupts, “Yes, I think a few people would be bothered if something happened to Nameless and myself, people who are above bribery.”
The woman simply continues, “So, I have a proposition for you. I will let you go free, with all of your equipment and money returned to you, in return for a promise that you will never bother Daask again. What say you?”
She glances at Nameless. “And you, mage?”
“Can I think on your offer?” replies Gareth, sarcastically. “Wait, let me see, save myself on the promise that I never come by your way again – meaning you would have leave of the city – and me and my friends whenever you want – and you would have my promise of non-retaliation.” Gareth finally shuts up when Nameless, who has been a little groggier and responded more slowly, gives him a dirty look.
Instead of speaking directly to the woman, Nameless addresses the minotaur, using the time to collect his thoughts and asses the situation. “Ah, Torarg. We meet again, though under rather less pleasant circumstances. I take it you’re not quite as pleased with this display as you were with our last one. Shamukaar and his bar doing okay, I trust?”
The woman looks over at Torarg, whose face now bears a look of bovine confusion. “Shamukaar and the bar are...,” he begins, before switching subjects. “If I’d known the trouble you’d cause, I’d have taken care of you outside Shamukaar myself.” The tone isn’t that angry, however.
Nameless nods and then turns to the woman. “We don’t really have anything against Daask. Well, obviously Gareth is still a bit put out over his sword being stolen by some of your flunkies. But mostly it was just a slow day and we had some new toys to try out. Your drug den was convenient and unlikely to be missed. If you can point us towards some Boromar drug dens that would be appreciated. They don’t seem to be quite as blatant about these things as you do.”
“I must say though, I was really very impressed with the effectiveness of your defenses and troops. You must follow the hobgoblin maxim that troops should fear being eaten by their officers more than they fear their enemies.”
“As for promising to leave you alone forever, obviously that’s not a possibility for my friend here. But we could negotiate a temporary truce, for say 6 months or so. Many of my companions are easily distracted by other things and we may find other things to occupy our time.”
“I am guessing however, that this would be insufficient to persuade you to let us go. So perhaps we can scratch your back as well. If you have a Boromar target you’d like destroyed. Nothing ambiguous, mind you, my comrade here doesn’t deal well with ambiguity. Someplace chock full of nicely black-hearted Boromars engaged in some sort of socially reprehensible activities. Destruction is what we are best at after all, recent slipups aside.”
The woman listens intently, and then a slow grin crosses her face. “I’d heard that you were a strange man, who summons weird monsters, but I’ll give you this – you’re smart.” She looks at Gareth and says, “You could learn some diplomacy from this guy.”
She turns back to Nameless, and says dryly, “Honored as I am to know that we were chosen as a convenient place to try out your new toys, avoiding that is in my best interests, and presumably avoiding death is in yours.” Her eyes flicker to Gareth, and back again.
“As you say, we can look after ourselves, and better than the Boromars can against such as you. Still, you’ve done a lot of damage to us, and since killing you would just lead to more, I’d like to avoid it. A pity that you can’t promise to leave us be, but even a truce of 6 months would be very preferable to the current situation.”
She grins. “And a truce during which you can bother the Boromars would be eminently preferable. I can easily suggest a few places – and ways – you can hurt them. Their establishments are only less blatant than ours in that they’re often dealing with a ... better class of client.” Her tone makes it clear that she isn’t using ‘better’ as a compliment.
“I can promise you this. If you do not attack a Daask establishment or member for 6 months, I will ensure that we will not bother any of you.” She glances at Gareth and says, “Other than to offend your sensibilities, but that can’t be helped. So – do we have an understanding? I suggest you listen to your friend here.” She indicates Nameless with a nod.
Gareth, chafing at this conversation, ignores her for a moment while looking at the minotaur. “Ah, my old friend, we should have a drink and talk about old times. There is a lot of information about the lower areas of Sharn that we could use.” Half expecting a blow to the head, he adds, “I guess you do not drink alcohol anymore. That is fine.”
Torarg again looks a little confused, as if unsure what to say. He finally settles for a shake of his massive head and a comment of “You are strange.”
Gareth looks back at the woman. “So, would you please explain the details – how would this exactly work?”
Hiding her irritation with little success, she replies, “Very simple, actually. You agree, as Nameless here said, not to attack any Daask members or outposts for six months, and in return, I release you, alive and unharmed with all belongings intact, and make sure that no Daask members attack you five – I believe it’s five – personally. Simple, as I said.”
“Those terms are acceptable to me. Death is so... inconvenient.” Nameless stares at her as he says this, his gaze backed by the full force of his growing insanity, which he normally does to reveal to others.
“Then there’s the expense of coming back from the dead and it does have a way of diminishing one. There’s also the murderous rampage we’d have to go on to recover our equipment. It takes so much time... and leaves so many bodies....” He sighs.
“We just got back into Sharn too, after chasing down and killing a pair of Rakshasas that stole something from us. We had to chase them hundreds of miles into the Demon Wastes and fighting in an active volcano is.... Well, I can bore you with war stories some other time.”
Abruptly turning to Gareth, he continues. “Gareth, when are the drapes we’re making from the Rakshasas going to be ready? Next week, was it? I forget. Moving into a new place and all that. I’m still disappointed that we lost the white one; he would really have gone well in the Solarium.”
Seeing Nameless’ tactics, Gareth plays along. “Yes, it is a shame the wall of lava burned the white one down – I told you not to have Luna push them in there. I needed a new cloak for the winter, and it would have made a wonderful present for some girl.”
The woman does not look intimidated or worried so much as slightly off-put by Nameless’ words and expressions. She listens and watches the byplay between Nameless and Gareth, and then comments, “I had been told your group was ... unusual, but you two seem especially so.” She shrugs. “Presumably an advantage in, or result of, your line of work.”
Nameless suddenly asks, “By the way approximately how long has it been since you captured us? If it’s been longer than an hour or so, I hope you won’t hold it against us.”
She smiles. “No, I don’t hold it against you – yet. And it’s not been that long since we captured you. You’ll find out soon enough.”
Nameless shrugs. “In any case, I’d been meaning to go pound some Boromar establishments. I find things run better if a certain... balance is maintained and our activities had been hurting your group, without a counterbalancing blow to them.”
Gareth nods slowly. “All right. If your group does not harass mine, and you give us locations of some Boromar outposts, I would be willing to put a truce.”
“Good. As I said, we will not harass you in any way if you leave us alone. And as for Boromar outposts, I will be very happy to give you a number of locations. You can amuse yourself with them, as you see fit.” She smiles again. “I am glad we can come to such an understanding, and....”
Even as she is speaking, Gareth attempts to detect thoughts and discovers that he can only detect one mind ahead of him, even though he can clearly see both Torarg and the woman. It is as if one is immune to it or protected in some way. Gareth realizes that the one mind he detects is less intelligent than him, and surmises that it is the minotaur’s.
He then concentrates on reading Torarg’s mind. The minotaur immediately raises a hand to his head and gives an angry bellow. “One of them used magic on me, Cavallah!”
The woman identified as Cavallah rises, glaring at both Gareth and Nameless. She quickly fixes her attention on Gareth and says, to someone behind him, “Knock him out.” Immediately, Gareth feels a powerful blow to the head and everything goes black.
Cavallah looks coldly at Nameless and says, “I hope for your sake, and those of your companions, that you are smarter than this fool. Luckily, so far, you seem to be.”
She then looks back at the guards behind Gareth, and says to one, “You can revive him now.” The guard, who Nameless can now see is a gnoll, roughly opens Gareth’s mouth and pours a potion down his throat. After a couple of seconds, his eyes flutter open. The guard steps back into position and Cavallah says, “That was really stupid. Try something like that again and I will remove two of your fingers.”
Then she pauses, takes a deep breath to compose herself, reseats herself, and says, “That was unfortunate. It also leads me to believe that you don’t fully understand the depth of my seriousness. Believe me, if you lie to me, I will see you dead. And those who you hold dear in this city.”
“You are powerful and have many resources; we both know that. But there are some things that money and power cannot help with. If you lie to me and break your word, I promise you this, I will set House Tarkanan on you. And I will ask for them to use a Keeper’s Fang.”
Gareth does not recognize House Tarkanan, and neither does Nameless, but the latter recognizes the name. 1500 years ago, there was a huge conflict across Khorvaire, where the pure dragonmarked families exterminated the holders of mixed and aberrant dragonmarks. During the War of the Mark, Lord Halas Tarkanan was a brilliant tactician who led the forces of those with aberrant dragonmarks. Despite being heavily outnumbered, he waged a long war, seizing Sharn and taking it as his capital. Finally, sheer numbers defeated him, and he and his wife (called the Lady of the Plague) released horrific magical forces, destroying much of Sharn and themselves. Only 500 years later was Sharn rebuilt.
In view of this history, the idea of a House Tarkanan would, of course, be ludicrous.
A Keeper’s Fang, however, they both recognize. By reputation. It is a special type of dragonshard bound weapon, which not only kills but also automatically sends the soul of the slain to the domain of the Keeper, the Sovereign Lord of Death and Decay. The victim cannot be brought back to life by any method known. No weapon is more illegal – or dangerous.
Cavallah continues, “However good you are, none of you are immune to a dedicated assassination attempt. And neither are your friends and acquaintances. I believe the going rate to kill someone of your abilities would be 5000 galifars. It is a lot of money, but then again, the resources used in capturing you today were over that amount, and that doesn’t include the loss of a number of my soldiers, especially the elite ones. If you had completely destroyed our establishment, it would have been much much more costly to us. So, you see, it will be very much a justifiable expense.”
“I am telling you this to underline how serious I am. You are a problem I do not want to have to deal with, and if you are willing not to bother me, I will not bother you. Now, without further foolishness, do we have a deal?”
In a severely groggy and slurred voice, Gareth mutters, “Hmm – that felt good. So I didn’t hear, since I have this ringing in my head – what is it you said?”
Cavallah, ignoring him, looks coldly at Nameless and says, “I hope for your sake, and those of your companions, that you are smarter than this fool. Luckily, so far, you seem to be.”
Nameless shakes his head sadly. “My apologies. I’ve tried to break him of this habit, but he seems incapable of learning when it comes to this. Actually, could you hit him once or twice more for me, please? I’d do it myself, but I’m kind of tied up at the moment. I wish he’d learn some manners or discretion at least. But that’s likely to be the work of several more years.”
“I have had no doubts as to your seriousness. I don’t think he does either, unfortunately he has this compulsion to try probing other people. Despite the fact that he keeps getting caught, for some reason he thinks he can get away with it. However, despite his ‘limitations’, he does honor his word once given. As do I.”
“I assure you I have no doubts as to your seriousness or ... Wait. Did you say only 5,000 galifars? That’s it? Or... do you get a volume discount? No. Never mind... that’s not important. We have a deal as far as I am concerned.”
“Gareth, if you can stop being rude for a moment...”
Gareth looks at Nameless for a moment and wonders why he is basically telling them what Gareth did. He then says in a flat tone, “Fine, when you release us then your terms shall be met. Dying here serves no purpose and is counterproductive to the greater good.”
Cavallah listens with some amusement to Nameless’ comments and then nods as Gareth agrees. “Good. Unfortunately, you’ll have to suffer a little discomfort, since we can’t risk you seeing anything of our operation here. We will have to render you both unconscious. You’ll be revived when back above ground and will be free to go your way.”
At this point, Torarg clears his throat loudly. “Yes?” asks Cavallah, turning to him.
The minotaur steps forward and begins to whisper something to her. Due to the volume of his tones, certain snippets float across to Nameless and Gareth. “... volume of damage ... costs ... dead gnolls ... may have to be abandoned ... ogres ...”
Cavallah frowns slightly and then sighs. “Yes, you are right.” She turns back to Gareth and Nameless as Torarg steps back, and says, “As Torarg just reminded me, your actions today have caused a significant loss of resources to us, and may cause us more damage in the long term. Hence, I’m sorry to say that, to recover somewhat of damage you inflicted, we will have to retain a certain amount of your wealth.”
“Each of you, I gather, has an account at the Kundarak bank. We will take care of removing an appropriate amount from your accounts. Since you are evidently very wealthy people, the amount taken should hardly cause a problem for you.”
“Unless you would prefer me to retain some of the valuable equipment you were carrying. That’s a little less helpful to us than actual money, but I can find someone or other who would benefit from it, if not sell it outright. I would, of course, take significantly minor items.”
“What would you prefer?”
Gareth replies coldly, “I would prefer our previous arrangement. For one, we are going to help you against Boromar – that in and of itself has a high value add. For second, your fence has cost us a lot of money in the past - thousands of gold. I would say that makes us even”
More calmly, Nameless says, “Now you’re disappointing me. I thought we had reached a deal. Is this how you live up to your end of a bargain? Nothing about the damages inflicted is new information. Furthermore, the longer you keep us here haggling over prices, the more likely our comrades are likely to start ripping apart your installations looking for us and they are going to be hitting hard and taking no chances. You did surprise us the first time around, but this time they’ll have Luna with them....”
Cavallah simply looks at the pair for the moment. Torarg begins to say something, but she waves him silent. “You have a point. Two points, actually. Not the one about the fence, however. He was a freelancer, doing business with us among others, and what he did with your items had nothing to do with us.”
“Anyway, as I said, you have a point. The original bargain it is. I wish you much success bothering the Boromars and in your travels, especially if you take them far from this city.” She pauses and then smiles, this time with real amusement. “I’m told that you might find Droaam to have a particularly bracing climate.”
Cavallah rises to her feet. “Anyhow, I hope to not have to see you ever again, and definitely not for the next six months. Goodbye.” She nods to the gnolls behind the pair and the last thing Nameless and Gareth feel is something hitting the backs of their heads.
When they next open their eyes, they are lying inside a large, dilapidated building, which looks like an abandoned warehouse. There is the sound of voices and movement outside, though some distance away. A quick check reveals that they are both dressed in their usual clothing, with all their equipment on them. Nothing has been removed. The only change is a folded parchment in Nameless’ hand, which contains a list of about twenty names, all of establishments and locations around the city. Some of the entries have an attached name or two, and/or a short description, such as “officially dream parlor; actually dreamlily den” or “business funded by Boromars.”
Both Gareth and Nameless remain seriously wounded, however. Gareth uses all of his remaining magic to heal the two of them. “Now let’s get out of here.”
Emerging from the building, the pair find that it is actually an abandoned warehouse, one among a few others. The area around them contains many more warehouses, most of them active, and it is the transport of goods in and out of them that Gareth and Nameless heard from inside the building. A little checking reveals that they are in Cogsgate, in Lower Tavick’s Landing.
The two head back up to Upper Tavick’s and the group’s house up in Ocean View. The fairly bedraggled appearance of the two draws some dirty looks from passersby once they hit Upper Tavick’s and especially as they near their home, and they are stopped twice, once by Deneith guards and once by local watchmen, before being allowed to go on.
Arriving at home, they find that the other three members of the group are nowhere to be found. Signs indicate that Luna left in a hurry, so, in all likelihood, the rescue attempt is currently under way.
Gareth says to Nameless, “Guess they took too long releasing us. Ah well – I am going up to my room. I need to crash.”
Nameless waits till he leaves, casts a cat’s grace and then teleports back to the drug den to stop his companions.
As he casts the spell, Nameless feels the usual sense of his stomach dropping out of his shoes as he is displaced and reappears instantly 6 miles across the city. Unfortunately, since he is teleporting to a place he has visited only once, his memory of it isn’t quite good enough for a perfect arrival.
When Nameless reappears, everything around him is pitch-black. It is also solid. There is a moment of surprise, followed by realization that he is inside some object, and then a tearing sensation of excruciating pain, as if shards of stone were being ripped through his internal organs, as the magic hurls him through the object towards the closest open space.
To the horrified stare of a passing pair of goblins, Nameless emerges from the stone of the huge base of a nearby pillar, his clothes ripped and with blood trickling from myriad small wounds [OOC: 30 pts of damage]. The goblins promptly flee.
Nameless realizes, after dazedly looking around, that he is down the street and around the corner from the drug den. Hurrying to it, he finds that his companions have definitely been here. What looks like a makeshift barricade is smashed into pieces, and the corpses of four gnolls lie beyond it.
Another pair of goblins, these two in ragged clothes, are quietly trying to leave the main chamber when Nameless arrives. They take one look at him, give a shriek and fall to their knees, gabbling in goblin as fast as they can about how happy they are to see him alive, how they never did anything to him, how his friends are looking for him down the hole, and how they’d really really appreciate it if he didn’t kill them.
Nameless barely stops to guzzle a healing potion, correct the goblins’ grammar, and fly down the hole. After a minute or so of flying as fast as he can through the winding tunnel, he sees lights ahead and recognizes his companions’ voices, evidently speaking to someone. Nameless yells a warning that he’s coming and that they shouldn’t kill anyone, and flies up to join them.
Luckily, neither Luna nor the gnolls respond precipitously to the sound. Once Nameless reaches them, with him to corroborate the cloaked man’s story, the discussion ends quickly. The Angels return through the tunnels to the battered drug den and leaving. The Daask members follow, keeping a fair distance between them, evidently intending to restore the operation once the adventurers are gone.
Sunday, 31st December, 2006, 11:20 PM #269
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Back at the Gray House - A Meeting of the Minds (handled over email and via forums):
Once they are back at the Gray House, after Nameless gives the others a quick synopsis of what happened, everybody heads off to do various things, Luna muttering something about “never sending a man to do a woman’s job” as she leaves. Six, wanting to find out more about Daask and the criminal situation in Sharn, decides to visit Balan and ask about it. The Warden tells him that Daask has probably been around for over 10 years, slowly building power in the Cogs, but they really burst into prominence and started seriously opposing the Boromars from 2 years ago. While the Boromars focus on smuggling, gambling, thieving, and extortion, and also have money in a huge number of legitimate businesses, Daask is focused on physical violence, with muggings, armed robbery, assassination and protection rackets being their stock in trade. They are, however, also interested in the drug business, and are the only known source of dragon’s blood, the most costly drug in Sharn.
Daask’s center of power is in Khyber’s Gate, the central one of Sharn’s three Cogs districts under the city, which has traditionally been the haven for fugitives and criminal elements. Unlike the other two Cogs districts (Ashblack and Blackbones), Khyber’s Gate has no presence from the law and no legal representative on the Council, and is never going to, unless someone were able to clean the entire thing up, which is effectively impossible.
Daask also has some power in some of the lower districts of Sharn, especially Malleon’s Gate (the goblinoid district) in Lower Dura, but they mostly just launch raids into some of these areas rather than actually holding property.
Six also asks Balan about House Tarkanan. Balan says that House Tarkanan is fairly well known in the Sharn underworld. It’s known to be a small order of highly skilled assassins and thieves. They appeared in Sharn six years ago, at which point the Boromars tried to assimilate and, failing that, eliminate them. Neither worked and the Boromars backed down, allowing House Tarkanan to exist on the condition that they never target any Boromars.
House Tarkanan is known to provide three services - theft, assassination and manslaughter. They are known to never target high-ranking members of the 3 major criminal organizations in Sharn - Boromar, Daask, and the Tyrants (a guild of shapeshifters who are rumored to control most of the Sharn bordellos and also deal in all sorts of information).
Six also asks Balan if he knows any people who are both reliable and capable of finding out things in the Sharn underworld, since he would be interested in employing someone of that nature. After some thought, Balan says he might know someone, and will send him to Six.
The next day, Nameless and Gareth give the others a very detailed coverage of what happened with them and what they were told.
Once they are done, Six says emphatically, “I am not going to mess with any Boromar outposts or operations. Nor am I going to explain why this is so.” He goes on to explain what he learned from Balan about House Tarkanan.
Gareth looks at him quizzically. “And since any deals you perform affect us in one way or another due to our close association, I must insist for the group to know what you have with Boromar that you will not do anything to harm them – since this was not an issue in the past.”
Addressing the rest of the group, he says, “While House Tarkanan may be an issue, I would not lose sleep over them. Yes, they could send assassins, but yes, we are also quite powerful - and if you doubt my words – think of those fur rugs that we will soon have and think again. Do not fear a group of people because they perform a dirty job or have skill at it – we are no longer the novice group we were when we first met. I also think, with our last experience, we will not take for granted the awesome powers we do have at our control.”
“Also, I have spoken to the Archeirophant, and there is a quest she would like for me to perform. A retrieval quest and I have accepted this. I would like – and need – for all of you to join me. It is to retrieve the remains of a long since dead hero of the Silver Flame. His body deserves a proper burial. If you require payment for these services then please come with me to the Archierophant. She will also explain in greater detail. I would ask, however, that you pass on payment from the church. The church has helped me on numerous occasions, and has helped the group – at no charge. To have such a valuable ally on your side,” Gareth looks at Nameless, “Even though some of the group does not like the church, is a smart thing to do.”
Nameless shrugs and says, “Fine. Not trusting the Church with an item like the Shard has nothing to do with being unwilling to do them a favor.”
To Six, he adds, “If you have personal things you wish to keep private, that is not an issue, but if you have made alliances or deals with Boromar then that does involve us and if you insist on concealing that fact then you are breaking the trust between us.”
To Gareth’s surprise, Six suddenly changes the subject. “Gareth, since you are not and never were a paladin has it occurred to you that all of your direct experiences with paladinhood are suspect? By the whim and plans of a demon your abilities worked. Evil creatures may have not been and vice versa. Your vows, codes and actions have had no bearing on your perceived paladinhood. It’s worse than being wrong, it’s irrelevant.”
“However, you are in a unique position to find out what it means to be a paladin. Go to Cedric and use your various detection abilities while he is using some paladin ones. See if you can grab any insight as to the difference in connection to the Flame he has as opposed to you. Your perspective might be the proper distance needed to see what makes a paladin.”
A second later, Gareth is standing inches from Six’s metal face. Infuriated by Six’s comments, his words drip with unusual venom. “Your comments are out of line and have no bearing on our conversation. I have and always will be a paladin of the Silver Flame, make no mistake of that. The grace which has left me is between me and the Flame.” He pokes Six in the chest. “Never forget that. Do not attempt to judge my vows, my codes or my actions and especially my faith, since you have absolutely none.”
Six shrugs. “It’s not a judgement – it’s an observation. I don’t know what it takes to be a paladin and NEITHER DO YOU. In fact nobody we have encountered or heard about knows for sure, but you are in a unique position to find out.”
Gareth almost snarls. “A paladin is more than the grace given to him, you soulless piece of metal. You have no idea what you are speaking of. Carry this any further, and you will test my patience and my honor. Do not cross that line.” He breathes deeply for a second, trying to calm himself, and then says, “Now, what is your association with Boromar, you machine?”
Calmly, Six replies, “I have as much soul as you do and yours is not the only patience tested.” He looks around at the others. “Does anyone else have this question?”
Korm, sitting silently through this exchange, jerks a thumb at Nameless. “As he said, I don’t care about private things, but in case you have an association with the Boromars, we should know.” Luna, midway through her second breakfast, nods.
Gareth adds, having calmed down by now, “As Nameless said, this is about trust. And where the Boromars are concerned it is an issue that affects all of us – especially since we have had and will have more altercations with them. Or do you not care if they peddle their drugs to children, and harm innocents who do not do as they are told?”
Six looks as pensive as someone with an immobile face can. “We,” he says, pointing to Nameless, Korm, Luna and himself, “Are now citizens of Breland, home owners and residents of Sharn. We will not conduct vigilantism in Sharn. You,” he points to Gareth, “Are a foreign national with a nominal association to house Deneith. If you make a move against a Sharn resident, you better have a warrant issued by the proper authority. You know better than I what the penalties are for foreigners committing assault in Sharn.”
“Honestly,” he continues, “I do not like Sharn. Intrigue is a bloodsport here played by masters. I suck at it but,” clearly addressing no individual, “You are worse. This is where you have chosen to settle – fine. Disturbances we create which could have been ignored when we were visitors now will be acted upon, as our settlement provides the means and the need for retaliation. And before you go on about how ‘powerful’ you are, does that apply to the people you know? Or do you care not about people you know or might know,” he looks at Luna. “And don’t think I only refer to death as a retribution; think creatively the gnomes will. It’s time to follow the dictum…,” he pulls out a notepad and locates a line, “Don’t where you eat.”
There is a moment of stunned silence and then Luna begins to laugh. “I’ll say one thing – that little connection to the Flame made you way smarter in a funny way.” Korm and Nameless also laugh, but Gareth doesn’t.
At this very timely moment, there is a knock on the door. Gareth opens it to find a liveried halfling messenger with a sealed envelope. Returning to the others, he opens the letter within, which says...
“To the members of the Guardian Angels:
You are cordially invited to dinner with Saidan Boromar and Mala Boromar d’Jorasco.
Please bring this invitation with you.”
The letter is signed “Saidan Boromar”. It contains directions to the Boromar estate in the Little Plains district of Middle Menthis. The invitation is for the next day.
The Angels immediately recognize the name. Saidan Boromar is the current patriarch of the Boromar clan and Mala is his wife, mother to Ilyra Boromar, who is on the City Council. Saidan is also one of the richest men in Sharn and a member of the Sixty Families (the richest and best-connected families in the city).
Six shakes his head as he reads the letter. “Well, it begins – the true price of Sharn citizenship. I think I will actually have to buy some clothing.”
He turns to walk out the door, but is stopped by Gareth. “Hold on Six – you have yet to explain your reasons – and is this letter part of it? What have you gotten us into? What is your association with Boromar? Just walking away and acting like nothing is going on is rude, but an association like this breaks a lot of trust we have developed in our travels and on the field of battle”.
Irritatedly, Six replies, “What part of ‘Masters of the Game’ don’t you understand? I didn’t start anything. WE DID when we walked into Sharn and said ‘hello.’ I’ll make it plain and hopefully you will understand. We are residents of Sharn, subject to the rulings of the City Council. Boromar is one of the movers and shakers and they have at least one seat on the Council. Now, listen closely – this makes us subject to the influence of Boromar and puts them, from our perspective, more in the ‘good guy’ column as they and we have an interest in the continued fortunes of Sharn.”
“If you have a problem with how things are done in Sharn, then leave, and I’ll be right behind you. But don’t think your lens of conduct is going to work here. Sharn is little Zilargo, except nastier.”
Gareth scowls and replies sarcastically. “You use quite some big terms there – ‘Masters of the Game’. And I’m sure that your many years of existence and skills in the ways of diplomacy and politics as well as law really gives you a superior advantage. Now, through all that you have still not told me what your association with the Boromars is. What meetings and deals – or understandings – have you made with them? Are they related to this invitation?”
Gareth waves the invitation and then continues, trying to speak more politely and persuasively, “Which we will have to take, though I loathe it, in order to maintain a semblance of diplomacy. Answer the questions directly and fairly, Six. I am not singling you out and you know I have done the same to Nameless in the past. As for the attitude of sticking with the status quo or leaving, I think not. If I do not like how something is done I will work to change it – and I have seen you do the same. Or do you like children being worked as slaves, while their siblings are high on some kind of drug that was peddled to them? Answer my questions plainly, and let us be done with this argument.”
Six, still irritated, replies, “I already have, you poor simple rube. What part of ‘Boromar Council member of City I am a citizen of’ don’t you understand? If you want to act on the Boromars, get a warrant.”
Gareth grits his teeth but keeps his temper. ““Do not continue with this line of insults. Citizens of this city do not simply get invited to these kind of events. Not to mention you just became a citizen and you only did so because you wanted to buy a residence. What is the real reason? Are your loyalties to Boromar or to this group who you have shed blood with?”
Also getting irritated with this continuing, and fruitless, back-and-forth, Nameless intercedes. “I think you misunderstand Six, Gareth. He’s saying that by setting down roots in Sharn we have made ourselves vulnerable to the politics and machinations of the power brokers. Whereas once we were free to leave should the situation turn hostile, we now are citizens subject to laws and the possessors of property that won’t fit in a backpack or even a portable hole.”
“Also he’s trying to make the point that the Boromars are part of the power structure of Sharn, so if we attack them we risk bringing the wrath of that power down on us. Especially if we do it in an open and obvious manner. We are not anonymous figures easily lost in a crowd any more.”
“Also, I doubt if Six cares much what us squishy, fleshy types do to each other or to children. Remember he cannot have children and Warforged do not reproduce; those imperatives of flesh are absent in him. So berating him over such things is pointless. You might as well rail at a tree over its indifference to the fates of birds that shelter in its leaves.”
For once, a look of relief crosses Gareth’s face as Nameless speaks, and he says to Six, “If Nameless’s message is what you were trying to convey then I agree we need to tread carefully, especially if we plan on living here in Sharn. I have already started to lay permanent roots in Sharn, but with that I walk the streets and see destitution. We live in a very expensive and privileged section of Sharn but you have seen other parts of it.”
“How should we live in Sharn? As slaves to Boromar because they are powerful? We are also powerful, but barring that – my soul and conscience do not allow me to let wrongs continue. What about yours, Six? Nameless? Luna? Korm’akhan? If Boromar wants to have a front political side and a dark side they have to live with those consequences. Part of those consequences is me and people like me.”
He pauses, to let his points sink in, and then continues, “How would you live in Sharn? Do you think the destitution of the lower areas of Sharn won’t climb up here one day? Maybe one day soon. Do you sleep, or in your case Six – meditate, well at night not worrying about the choices you make and how it affects others, and NOT just us. The alliances we make reflect on all of us. Six, if you become friends with the Boromar this will reflect on all of us because we are associated. My friendship with the Church reflects on you. I, as well as the rest of us, need to know what relationship you have with Boromar. I also need you to understand these drug dens are not acceptable. If you are citizens of Sharn, true citizens, and you want to work within the laws of Sharn then you need to know – because I believe I know the law more then you – these drug dens are illegal. They are run by the Boromars, who are brokers for illegal activities. How do we support a group – and by being associated with them we are supporting them – that believes in ruining the lives of many for their profits? What do you say?”
Six replies, “We are powerful adventurers who just used significant money and pull to get a stately house in a rich part of Sharn. Given our history here, especially with Daask, an invite isn’t unusual. It is probably the opening of a long campaign of intrigue.”
“I’ve seen there are laws on the books and laws people follow. Sometimes they are the same, but you need to know both sets to be effective at operating in a society. Considering the Boromars’ abilities, knowing what the sets are is crucial before you act.”
“As far as thinking of other, it’s the people you know I was referring to: Bodo, Lalia, Trillia, Luna’s children etc. We don’t have a good track record of protecting people involved with our adventures. Also as I’ve said death is not the only way of retribution. Given the way things work here, opponents might mess with us just because its fun.”
“Yes, yes, I know all that,” says Gareth, “But just answer the question. Do you have a relationship with the Boromars outside of our group’s relationship with them? And please do not attempt to use your game of intrigue or guile with me. I may not play the game, but I am very skilled at detecting it.” Even as he speaks, Gareth using his ability to read minds to start reading Six’s.
While doing so, he continues, “And let us not forget, we are powerful and we should not start acting like a group like the Boromars are godlike. Believe me when I tell you they feel they have a lot more to lose then we do and they will not bring attention to themselves. We have some reporters who would be glad to report the Boromars are sending assassins at us. That piece of information is more than likely to destroy the public face of the clan.”
“And Six, what laws, on the books, have you seen? I have spent many hours in the library studying law and when have you been there? Also, what “laws people follow” are you talking about? Are you trying to hint at the underworld? Those are not laws; those are whims that change as fast as a person’s nature does. Those so-called laws are based on desire, greed and corruption – and laws like drug dealing, harassment of innocents, extortion and more will not be followed by me – and they are against the written law, the one that puts you in jail.”
“Yes, Boromar, or anyone else, can come after the people we know – and the Silver Flame help them if they do – because nobody else will be able to. They know this, and we know this. They know that touching our kin will cause more havoc and damage to them then what happened on that island adventure we went to. You know this also.”
“Our public face, our prowess, and our contacts give us a broad shield. Our refusal to compromise on the right things will protect us. Consorting and working with the forces of evil, and we all agree Boromar and Daask are evil, will do nothing but weaken us in the eyes of those who can most help us. Again, do you have a relationship with Boromar outside of what the group has – are there any pieces of information that you have which I or the rest of the group do not have? If you cannot trust us with this information, how can you trust us in the field of battle?”
As he speaks, Gareth is finally able to read the surface of Six’s mind. He feels no surprise, but some irritation, as the uppermost thought is “Gareth is such an idiot!” The thought is overlaid with irritation, exasperation, and some worry. To Gareth’s relief, the next thought that floats to the surface is “No, of course I don’t have any contact or relationship with the Boromars!”
The thought is matched by the act, as Six says aloud, “No, I have nothing with the Boromars. That good enough for you?” He turns on his heel and walks out.
“That’s good enough for me,” says Nameless, and Gareth nods.
“I don’t know about that connection with the Flame, Gareth,” says Korm, with a grin. “It definitely made him smarter, but it it didn’t teach Six to get to the point any quicker. All he had to do was say he didn’t have a connection with the Boromars.”
Luna looks up from her meal and points at the letter in Gareth’s hand. “Yeah, but looks we’re all about to.”
Tuesday, 2nd January, 2007, 09:49 AM #270
Novice (Lvl 1)
Ahh poolitical intrigue - where Lunua's Flame Strikes (tm) are near useless.
notice how I said 'near useless'...
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