Moments after stepping back through the portal, Respen is contacted via the Orb Link by Dame Clare.Respen said:Respen is irritated. Upon Laramon’s disclosure that Margull’s books and materials are of limited value, and upon his realization that the book return spell isn’t something that can be ended prematurely, Respen intended to tell Dame Clare about the spell. However, given her deception in Laramon’s library, Respen withholds such information.
Respen, Orb Link: ~Yes, he did. He thought your disguise was very entertaining, if somewhat insulting, although he also mentioned that it was incredibly easy to detect. It seems that you are not as clever as you intended to be. Please be careful, my Mistress; I tell you this not to insult you, but to warn you. Laramon is exceedingly powerful. He doesn’t miss anything. I’ve never seen anything like it. At a glance, he knew that your sister was pregnant with twins. He seems to be a walking Identify spell. And that also seems to be the very least of his powers. He also wanted me to share something with you.~ Respen repeats Laramon’s warning.Respen said:If she queries him about it, he’ll ask her the whereabouts of her gnomish friend, and mention that Laramon was under the impression that Dame Clare herself was the gnome. Respen will feign incredulity, certain that Dame Clare would not deceive her apprentice when he proffered his own assurance. Perhaps her well-seasoned hubris will properly meet more humble facts. If she comes clean, Respen will also, and will share Laramon’s admonition. Otherwise, she can step into that pile of dung all on her own.
Dame Clare, Orb Link, Chuckling: ~Touche. Tell your mentor that he can relax. That was a test. I wanted to know with whom I was dealing. I’m very impressed that despite detecting me, he chose not to act. That restraint tells me much about his disposition. Larry is what is known, in Drow terms, as a collector. The reason he didn’t attack me is because he saw me as a possible asset. Truly, a man after my own heart. At any rate, I’ve got the books in an Anti-Magic Field while I prepare to examine them. Now to the letter that Larry sent me. I thought I would share it with you, since you seem to be a great admirer of his.~Laramon said:”...When you have a chance, tell her something for me: point out that her deception was immediately detected, and that I consider such behavior quite rude. Further rudeness will be met with stringent measures. I am a man of patience, and even of tolerance, but I will not be taken advantage of.”
There is a long period of silence on the Orb Link, before Clare finally replies.Dame Clare said:”...Dearest Madame, please accept these materials as a token of good faith. I felt that given your uniqueness among your kind, i.e., a Vampyr who is not a slave to the blood lust, you deserved this warning, which I now deliver in full earnest, and with due sympathy.The man from whom you are stealing is known as Margull The Black, and he is one of the eldest known members of his kind, commonly referred to as “The True Bloods.” Many years ago, Margull was imprisoned by a powerful wizard by the name of Morval, who sought to steal his immortality from him. Margull escaped his imprisonment, but not before Morval managed to obtain a sample of Margull’s blood, and to make a potion, which he believed would grant him the same powers. His partial success is the origin of your kind, my dear. The True Bloods refer to your kind as “Vampyr,” a term which has two, inter-related meanings: “Lesser Truth,” and also, "Those of the Stolen Blood." At any rate, the potion was flawed, and it drove Morval insane, among other things. Later, after learning of Morval’s depravity, and of his promiscuous proliferation of Vampyr-kind, Margull vowed to hunt down and destroy ALL Vampyr, wherever he found them, so that their maniacal rampage could be brought to an end. Margull believes that Vampyr cannot overcome their bestial nature, and as such, are abominations which must be destroyed. I have seen it in your sister’s thoughts, images and memories of you, things you have said and done. I have seen the spark of good within the blackness of your past deeds. I thereby beg of you, to abandon your search for those of Margull’s kind, and to keep your presence hidden from them. I am not certain that Margull would negotiate with you, were he to discover you. Your best chance for safety is to stay as you are, unseen. The books and materials that Respen has given you are enchanted with a spell of my own design. After a period of several days, the books will magically teleport back to me, and I will restore them to their proper place in Margull’s study. Therefore, you should make yourself a copy of them as quickly as possible. After that, I would advise you to leave well enough alone, and cease your meddling in the affairs of these creatures. You will not find the answers you seek among their kind. Yours most cordially, Laramon.”
Respen nods, the warning staying with him, as he and Nelvandra step through the portal…Laramon said:“...Be careful, my boy. I won’t be leaving this portal open. When you and your fiance step through, you will be taking a one-way trip. The place where they’re camping looks rough, wild, and harsh. It’s the sort of terrain in which one tends to find Trolls and other Giant-kin.Tread cautiously.”
Each time he returns from flight, Lathir conveys all relative information to the party as a group, if they will gather to listen, especially about seeing the altered Drow.On his daily patrols, Lathir makes the following discoveries:
1. The Orcs who are camped outside the fortress receive a message of some kind, delivered by two Orcs who fly in on Manticores, and deliver a piece of parchment to the camp's commander. The commander speaks to them briefly, and they salute him. They then fly off in the direction from whence they came.
2. The Hill Giants on guard duty at the fort can often be seen snoozing, asleep at their posts.
3. At one point, Lathir catches sight of a 13-foot tall Drow Elf walking around, flanked by two Hill Giant females!
4. No further patrols leave the compound, although at one point, a platoon of 31 Orcs (1 Sergeant, 30 Troops) goes inside the compound, and doesn't come back out.
Earlier that morning, Lathir rises as he usually does, washes his face, then walks toward the forested edge of the encampment, away from the ledge. He takes his spear in his hand and begins moving in a particular pattern that he has repeated each morning thus able. The movement looks something of a practice kata for combat and something of ritual. He speaks words, mostly to himself, at various specific point throughout the movement.GM said:
It is now Patchwall 22, CY 963, 10:35 AM.
To everyone’s surprise, Respen appears from nowhere, flanked by a Drow Sorceress! Could this be Dame Clare? Is Respen her prisoner? Or worse yet, her mental slave? The time for action is now! Everyone: what do you do?
Nelvandra replies to Respen’s question:“I remained behind in Skorane to guard your flank, and frankly, because I was curious who would come calling once they realized their golem and guards were rendered. It was Dame Clare. Sylvar’s song about her did not do her justice. She is indeed powerful and mysterious. The teleport circles are her construction, and she can use them, but they are not for her per se. The short version of the story is that she wasn’t happy for the intrusion, and I struck a bargain of sorts with her. I agreed to service for her, including protection of Nel and her family in exchange for granting me my life. The perks are that Nel and I are wedded in spirit if not in deed, as well as certain resources that Dame Clare can choose to put at our disposal. She is better as an ally than as an enemy.”
Lathir listens quietly before taking a step toward the two. He looks directly at Nelvandra as he speaks.“His name is Glimval The Dark, he’s what The Drow call a Mageling; he’s unwilling to commit himself completely to the study of Wizardry, and he carries that big bastard sword around like some sort of trophy. It doesn’t surprise me to learn that he’s here, because he is ridiculed in Shalistaurimon. It makes sense that he’d be here, far away, trying to make a name for himself in a foreign land, and taking advantage of females from inferior species. He’s such a schmuck. But make no mistake, he is a dangerous foe. And yes, he’s magically enlarged himself somehow.”
Lathir said:“...in Drow society, males are treated as highly expendable slaves and used as seed cattle…”
Lathir said:”...perhaps because he is free of his former enslavement to Drow society…”
Nelvandra chuckles, "To be honest, Clare took one look at him, and chose him for me. But luckily for me, my sister not only has excellent instincts, but she also knows me quite well, and when she first brought him to me, I agreed with her choice instantly. Then, after spending several days alone with him, I came to the conclusion that our meeting was destiny. Respen and I are indeed perfect for each other."Dewydd said:"...Congratulations! Well... you certainly make quick work sir..."
Nelvandra says, "Respen is not under the effect of Geas; I am a Sorceress myself, and quite familiar with such things, even if casting them is beyond my present abilities. Respen swore an oath on the Orb of Errinder. The Orb is an artifact that can cast powerful divinations, like an enhanced Crystal Ball, only much more powerful. Anyone who swears an oath upon The Orb is bound to fulfill that oath, because The Orb binds a piece of the person's soul to itself. It doesn't FORCE obedience, but the effects of breaking one's oath are PAINFUL, and therefore, those swearing such oaths tend to keep them, in order to avoid the repercussions. If it makes you feel any better, Clare swore an oath to Respen on The Orb as well; she agreed to accept him as her apprentice, and see to his education as a Wizard. That tells me that she's quite serious about keeping him in her employ. Clare is not known to take things such as oaths lightly. As for an Anti-Magic Field, I would not be opposed to the use of such a spell, if it would put your mind at ease. But that is a powerful spell; are any of you even capable of casting it? Speaking only for myself, that spell is FAR beyond my ability."Dewydd said:“Considering you haven't told us everything that occurred so far, the Geas is somewhat distressing to hear about. However, an antimagic field would temporarily suppress any spells upon you or your equipment, which would allow us to discern if you're still under your own control and largely assuage any concerns that might be had... Is anyone capable of casting it? Sadly I'm only versed in up to the second order. I've done more reading on theory than actual practicing of casting; I'm a late-comer to the field. What's this 'Orb' you speak of?”
GM said:Nelvandra pauses thoughtfully. "One last thing: Clare was indeed at least partially responsible for the disturbance in Skorane. But only because she was hired by the matron of another house to secure the site. If you wish to deal with the root of that problem, you must look elsewhere. Whomever is giving Glimval his orders, and whomever is trying to strike an alliance with the Giant-kin, THAT is who you should be after. All my sister did was build a few teleport circles, and set a few golems to act as guard. It was another Drow who created the undead minions, although the big spider IS Clare's henchman. His name is Serindak. But that's beside the point. Long story short: I am not your enemy. And I love Respen. Those two facts by themselves should be reason enough to spare my life."
Lathir gives a quick exhalation of a single laugh.Dewydd said:Turning back to Nelvandra Dewydd smiles, "I have always been one to act when it's necessary. Respen showing up with a companion doesn't particularly strike me as requiring action."
Nelvandra: "My sister was hired by Lady Alyssa, of House Alonkarr, to set up Skorane as a base of operations. There is a passageway beneath Skorane that leads into the deepest depths of The Underdark, and eventually to the Drow City of Dallenbor. The City of Dallenbor is second in size only to Shalistaurimon, which is where Lady Alyssa resides. Shalistaurimon is many hundreds of miles Northwest of Dallenbor, by surface reckoning. The nearest surface city to Shalistaurimon is a large settlement known as Hochoch, which is located in the Grand Duchy of Geoff. Normally, the great distance between the two Drow cities prevents the inhabitants from collaborating with one another. Lady Alyssa is trying to change that. She has been building an alliance with the Giant-kin in the mountains near Hochoch, for reasons unknown to me. But I'd be willing to bet that it spells bad news for Hochoch. The teleport circles that Clare built for her beneath Skorane allow Drow from Dallenbor, whom Alyssa has recruited as allies, to move large amounts of men and materials without being seen. The choice of Skorane probably spells trouble for Dyvers, as well. Lady Alyssa's plans must involve the surface in some way, or she would not have bothered to set up "shop" so close to two surface-world sites.Lathir said:"...I can see no logic behind moving a group of mindless undead into an area aside from hoping it will perpetuate that area's evacuation."