3.5 Kingdoms of Kalamar; Rancor of the Unholy - Act 1: Scene 1

narayan

Explorer

Act 1: Scene 1



Kingdom of Cosdol; Homeday of the month of Snowfall, 1044 Y.K.

The hour was late, the task at hand difficile and wearisome as the old wizard leaned over his desk, struggling to focus as he shivered. Castles were no place to keep warm, especially in the dark of night in the middle of winter. Only a thick fur blanked draped over his lap and a hot coal brazier at his side kept his blood running warm.



The ruler of Cosdol, known by his people as 'The Wizard-King', or 'Archmage of the North', blinked irritably with droopy eyelids. Fading script on crumbling scrolls did not get easier to read with age, and Welren Endremin was old indeed for a human, unnaturally old given how his rule was ongoing for over a century.

"Master, would you like your lenses?" A familiar voice asked.

"Of course I would! How much longer did you want me to sit here squinting like a blind fool before you suggested it!?"

Finch the halfling, Welrens latest apprentice, hastily presented a pair of eye-sized lenses held together with delicate silver frames designed to perch on the bridge of the nose. The lenses were a gift from the elves. One token among many littering his study, famous among Cosolens magic schools and powerful guilds as the finest collection of arcane instruments, obscure tomes, rare artifacts and half-burnt candles in all of Cosdol.

Welren snatched away the glasses, blinking again to familiarize himself with their keen magnification, unconsciously sitting up straighter to regain his focus.

Finch of course did not expect any thanks from the irascible old wizard. Instead he changed the subject. "Strange wind tonight master. Some of the other wizards say something is amiss with the weather."

"Does it look like I give two damns about the weather?! Am I standing by the open window pensively staring into the night sky? Rather I would think it was obvious, given where I sit, that I am attempting to study! That is what this chamber is for is it not?"

"Yes master..." Finch answered placidly. He was well used to these outbursts.

Time is running out! Welren reminded himself, pressing to read faster as his stiff, cold fingers fumbled at the crumbling edges of the parchment. He felt his aging heart weakening the harder he stressed himself, but there was no choice! The Secret Network of the Blue Salamander was here in Cosdol, infiltrating his home!

Only stubborn pride kept him from instituting drastic security measures, arresting much of his own court. Welren wanted to avoid such a thing at all costs. Not only was it likely to split the kingdom into civil war, it would ruin the peace and promise of his heirs reign.

Prince Sevlen spent eleven years thus far studying magic, barely a blink compared to the experience of Welren himself, yet sadly his studies had to be cut short after Welren discovered one of his principal councilors was plotting against him. It took all his considerable arcane skill and great effort to glean any information out of that mans mind, so strong was the hold of his masters domination upon his psyche.

That was almost a year ago. Since that time, Welren spent more and more time locked away in seclusion, searching the histories for something the councilor spoke of in a whisper while he was questioned in the dungeons. Something called 'The Annulus', an artifact of great power that the wicked Illithids behind the network greatly feared. Welren believed the councilor spoke of it out of hatred of those vile creatures, however briefly, while his mind was freed of their domination moments before death.

Once Welren began studying the lore of the Annulus, he learned he was not the first to do so. There were others who also sought out its location somewhere on Tellene for centuries. Accounts of strange foreigners, explorers, sages, seeking it out speaking rumors of a lost civilization. Some of these individuals undertaking the search in recent decades, he discovered, were known to him. Wizards like himself, archmages with powerful influence over other lands and kingdoms on Tellene. By reputation alone he knew at least a few of them were trustworthy, and likely sought out the Annulus for the same reason he did.

The Network of the Blue Salamander was now the largest evil organization on Tellene, obsessed with world domination through power and influence gained by means of magic, information and wealth. Welren had no doubt their manipulations of guilds and governments would lead to terrible wars, strife and turmoil on an epic scale. He resolved himself to form a secret alliance with those other like-minded archmages and did so successfully.

Before long, the water-clock chimed the hour of midnight.

"Master! It is time!" Finich said, referring to the secret gathering of the archmages. A meeting that took place once a month, as far from prying eyes as possible.

Welren sat back in his chair. "Already?! Damn... I was hoping to learn something from these scrolls first. Fetch me the crystal ball."

"Master? You said the ball must never leave the summoning chamber..."

"Damn you Finch. I am old and tired! I fear a chill in these ancient bones. The summoning chamber is an ice box! Do you protest this simple request because you'd prefer I finally die from a cold?!"

"No master, I was simply reminding you about your warnings..."

"I know very well what the warnings are! Fetch it at once!"

The apprentice returned hefting something heavy draped in a thick velvet cloth. Welren pushed away the scrolls to one side of his desk, waiting until his apprentice had carefully placed the orb at its center before he grunted. "Can't you see my cup is empty? Fetch more mulled wine!"

"Yes master!" The apprentice stated, stepping away from the desk quickly.

Alone now, Welren removed the cloth revealing a clear crystal orb fourteen inches in diameter. It was set into an elaborately carved base of cold iron etched with arcane silver runes. The orb was very old, an heirloom of his great-grandfather Veseln-the-conjurer, founder of Cosdol, who himself acquired it from another archmage before that.

Welren lifted his wrinkled hands in a practiced motion to activate the orb which seemed to come alive with a hazy glowing light. Mutterings of a spell uttered from deep within his throat intensified the light as his hands hovered and moved around the orb.

Welren shut his eyes then, concentrating, focusing on the light through his eyelids as his tongue resumed its strange spells. The light grew stronger, as bright as the sun, and stronger still. Soon the rays were blinding, even from behind his eyelids, but then the spell was done.

Welren found himself once more in the Astral Plane, a silvery, timeless, weightless void. Before him, as expected, loomed a massive ziggurat of ancient stone, floating in stasis as if it were lifted by the grasp of a mighty deity from some long-forgotten world.

Everytime Welren came to this place, he took a moment to examine the ziggurat as he floated towards the top. The stones and techniques used to build it seemed quite complex, bespoke of mysterious builders with skills beyond that of mere men. He could not say where it came from, or why it was built in the first place. Besides the open-temple at the top, every other entrance was sealed by massive stone slabs.

Welren always got a bad feeling when he neared the ziggurat. He believed whatever race constructed it was a violent one. Sometimes he would glimpse dark splotches of blood splattered against the stone, or some half-smashed skull laying on a step as if it caught there on its way rolling down from the top.

As he neared the temple, a bizarre floating ship came into view out of the mists moving around the side of the ziggurat in a broad arc. Welren heard of such vessels before. His great grandfathers journals described them in detail, disclosing how many races used them to travel the voids between the planes, or indeed, the space between worlds.

Though curious, Welren was warned never to board one of these ships or allow himself to be captured, lest he find himself in the clutches of the Githyanki. A race of astral-plane-dwellers, survivors of enslavement by mind flayers who became ruthless pillagers and raiders of many worlds in the Material Plane.

It did not matter that he was merely 'projecting' his astral form into the astral plane. The Githyanki possessed weapons capable of severing the tether of consciousness connecting his astral form to his physical body, visible as a slender silver cord that stretched back from the base of his skull about five feet before merging with the material plane. Welren knew if his astral self was slain, he would return to his physical body (possibly in a coma) but if his cord was severed, he would be killed outright.

Welren sped his ascent to the temple and entered through one of the four open doorways. Inside the temple, Welren felt gravity taking hold of his ghostly astral form again as he stopped floating and stepped forward. Somehow, someway, the interior of this temple maintained itself as the material plane, complete with gravity and real air.

Stranger still was how it was remodeled much like a tavern, with tables arranged around each of the eight ancient stone pillars with a large bar set up before the sacrificial alter. Along the back wall were private booths. Four stout iron stoves were placed between each of the four entrances kept the place nicely warm. Welren noted the fires burning within these stoves never produced any smoke, nor required any stoking. A sign above the bar read 'Tavern of Lost Souls'.

Welren learned of this place through his great-grandfathers journals. It was the most remote location he could imagine to conduct secret meetings. Only powerful archmages like himself and his allies could manage to travel here from Tellene. There should be no chance of anyone from his home world eavesdropping or interfering. A risky rendezvous it was yes, but there was knowledge and resources to be found here that were well worth it.

Welren looked around at the other patrons, a surprising mix of races, some too bizarre to believe. More surprising still was how most of them were not in astral form. Welren knew the various ships he glimpsed sailing through the astral plane would regularly tie up against the ziggurat, offloading new customers. Welren couldn't help but pity those lost souls traveling between the stars. It was a strange way to live.

...To be continued
 
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narayan

Explorer
Quarzi Lagomorpha



Northern Cosdol, Town of Sovrven; Homeday of the month of Snowfall, 1044 Y.K.


Quarzi Lagomorpha, the golden halfling, shivered beneath a pile of furs as dark thoughts disturbed her rest. The nightmares were rarer now, yet not altogether absent. Sometimes after the moon rose high on a stormy night, the dreadful memories returned. Tonight once again, the vision of that fateful morning haunted her psyche.

Tears streaked freely down her rosy cheeks as every other person in the remote village of her birth was captured or killed right in front of her eyes. Barely ten years old she was, old enough to comprehend violence and cruelty, yet not old enough to understand the motives or do anything about it.

All these years since, living in a town, sheltering among people, did much to calm her nerves and educate her mind about the world beyond the forests. She hoped such knowledge would someday make sense of the tragedy and help her find those responsible. Yet so far nothing she learned really made sense of it.

Quarzi was slow to trust most people. Among those she did trust, only one ever heard the actual truth of her sad childhood. At other times, those who heard of the attack against her village sometimes speculated about the identity of the raiders from her nightmares. The most credible notion she heard thus far involved the followers of the Overlord and the Theocracy of Pel Brolenon.

Though this wicked realm lay far to the south, pirates of the Straits of Svimohzia raided the coasts of Brandobia for slaves and plunder to sell in the black markets of Dowond-Brandel. A practice long sanctioned by the infamous Grand Masters of the Whip who rule over that city.

Quarzi had never seen a pirate before, nor a ship or even the sea itself for that matter, but the stories of their raids largely fit her recollections about what happened to her village. Both Pel Brolenon and the pirates who plagued the seas included evil humanoids among their numbers. She remembered glimpses of them from her nightmare.

However, none of the locals here ever encountered Svimohzian pirates roaming this far inland north of Voldor Bay. These northern reaches of Cosdol were frontier lands, dangerously wild and sparsely populated. Quarzi knew this better than most. After the attack on her village, she fled into the Voldorwoods and its surrounding valleys and hills surviving off her wits and survival skills alone for many months.

The first living thing she encountered was a wild hare, with whom she shared a burrow and a fast, lasting bond. Even now the creature snuggled beside her as an animal companion. Later she took up the Hare as a totem animal after she became something of a wandering shaman. Quarzi believes in the purity and goodness of the forest creatures above all else. They were there for her when she was lost in her darkest days, but she could not remain with them indefinitely.

When the cold winds and snows came she was driven to reconnect with people again, which is how she found herself in the town of Sovrven along the banks of the Omdal river many miles from the village of her birth.




The townsfolk here were quick to shelter her, though she acted much like a wild animal herself half dead from exposure. It was many days before she started talking.

The first person she trusted enough to speak too, and only in private, was another amberhair halfling named Quoso Arcanatlas, an eccentric elderly sage who owned and resided in the towns only inn, The Sleeping Eye. Quoso had a reputation as a dour recluse, yet when Quarzi appeared he demonstrated great interest and kindness towards her expressing a different side to an otherwise aloof personality that most explained off as 'racial solidarity'.

Once Quoso learned Quarzi's name and the name of her village, he explained two things. Firstly they were distantly related. Quoso knew her family. Amberhairs tended to keep close eye on their relatives with habitual letter-writing and extended family gatherings at least once a year.

He also explained how the loss of her village was of great concern to halflings throughout Cosdol. As word spread quickly about the tragedy a letter was even sent to King Welren demanding justice. Quoso felt obligated, therefore, to report that he found a survivor.

That was until he noticed something Quarzi wore around her neck, a mysterious amulet of silvery metal about three inches in diameter. He asked her how she came to possess it. Quarzi explained how her older brother, Quinis, uncovered it inside a crumbling tomb buried underground a few days before their village was attacked.

Besides the amulet, there were much more valuable treasures found in the tomb in the form of precious ceremonial art objects. Quinis gave Quarzi the amulet when she showed a fancy towards it. (Unlike the other items, the amulet was not crafted from any known precious metals)

Everyone was so happy with her brother for finding the tomb. Such a cache of treasures could purchase enough supplies, medicines, tools and foodstuffs to sustain them for years! No one questioned the wisdom of looting it. Arrangements were quickly made with a local smuggler to transport the treasures south into the wealthier cities where rich lords and merchants would pay handsomely for them.

Quoso asked her the name of that smuggler. When she answered, 'Braxon Claithorne'. Quoso frowned with a very serious expression and warned that she must never repeat that name, nor ever again tell anyone else hers or where she was born. He said everyone's lives depended on it, lest a similar attack befall this town. That was thirty years ago...

...to be continued.
 
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narayan

Explorer
Saryf, Anoria



Eastern O'Par, Elfen Lake; Fireday of the month of Snowfall, 1044 Y.K.

As remote as it was lovely, a narrow string of pools of crystalline water known as Elfen lake set low in stony, mossy, tree-dotted hillsides in the Kakapela hills of eastern O'Par near the Ryakk woods. Most of the day beneath the winter sun the lake was hidden largely in shadows, and silence. Only the wind or occasional eagle's cry disturbed the stillness. Today was not such a day.

These regions of Northern Kalamar were cold enough for snow, yet not so frigid to warrant blizzards, the likes of which decimated the armies of prince Fulakar during his campaign against the Fhokki barbarians. Snow drifts around the lake were somewhat sparse and rarely more than a foot deep. Within the brush, high up in the bare trunks of past-autumn trees or the needles of still-green pines, Tellene's natural creatures observed the violence without judgement.

When it was over, two lovers stood on a small stone beach, one soaking wet. The man had long black hair, tanned skin and the lean, proud features of the Dejy. The woman appeared elvish, petite, pale as the snow with golden-brown locks and delicate, porcelain features. Fresh tears dripped down her cheeks, flush red with emotion.



Saryf embraced Anoria, the beautiful, mysterious, 'lady of the lake.' Within his arms she trembled with a deep sense of relief. Behind her, the corpses of three of her assailants lay stiff and smoldering, felled by Saryf's Eldritch blasts. Meanwhile the rest of the group who attempted to capture her retreated away with haste, back towards the Eagles Peak monastery where their caravan was presently encamped.

Anoria: "I though they killed you!" She gasped clutching him tighter, ignoring the chill of his wet monkish robes.

Saryf: -Whispered- "So did I." He answered, remembering the feeling of life slipping away as those slavers cut him down and threw him into the lake. "Somehow the magic of the lake saved me. I felt cold, darkness, pain. For the first time, for what I believed was the last time, I prayed. I could not bear to loose you!" He paused as his voice choked up. "...A voice in the depths of my soul gave me the strength to keep fighting."

Anoria: Smiled. "You rose out of the water again, whole and healed! I couldn't believe it. It's a miracle!"

Saryf: "It was the will of Yelajod, The Guardian. In the instant I heard his voice, I promised to swear my soul to the battle against slavery, tyranny, and oppression. I must protect you!"

Anoria: Squeezed him with joy. "You have! I love you!" She beamed.

Saryf smiled. He could not have been happier. Anoria was very special, and until just that moment, he did not feel worthy of her love.

As a rare offspring of fey and elf, Anoria was unique. Her bloodline was the source of more than breathtaking beauty, it also possessed a rare destiny. Elfen lake had deep personal significance to them both. Anoria's mother served an important role in the Seelie Court. One gateway to that court was Elfen lake. She used the gateway fairly regularly to communicate messages from her father, King Sendir of the High Elves of Cilorealon.

Anoria's role as an unofficial intermediary remained an unspoken secret in Sendir's court, but was rather well known among the fey on Tellene. Saryf first observed her here at Elfen lake speaking with the fey ten years ago. It took a few months after that before he worked up the nerve to approach her and introduce himself. For him also, the lake was a sacred place for his Dejy tribal ancestors, and a place to escape the duties of the Eagle's Peak Monastery nearby.

Saryf had been living as a monk for nearly a decade, but his original purpose was to spy as an agent of an informants network within Bet Bireli, the capital city of O'Par. For a Dejy, such a life went against everything his parents taught him as a young boy. It was not a path he would have chosen for himself. Truthfully he had little choice. Events of the past were completely out of his control.

The ancient tribe of of Dejy who roamed these hills suffered a great deal in recent centuries. As a consequence, many abandoned the old ways moving into Kalamaran cities and towns that offered more safety and opportunity. This weakened the tribe until at last it lacked the strength to survive the attacks of evil humanoids and slavers that finally overwhelmed them. The attacks forced the tribe to disperse and scatter. When the survivors found each other again it was determined that Saryf's father was killed and his mother taken.

As per tribal custom, the responsibility to look after Saryf now would fall to his oldest living relative, which happened to be his uncle Jaresh. A man who abandoned the tribe decades prior. Rumors hinted that Jaresh may be living in Bet Bireli.

Not long after that, Saryf was reunited with his uncle in the so-called City of Ears. Jaresh began tasking him as a messenger and at the age of ten. Saryf learned the streets and the people quickly. A few years after that, his training as a spy began in earnest. In some ways the dark alleys were no different than the wilderness of the hills and canyons he grew up in. Survival depended on remaining alert, expecting danger everywhere at any moment. Yet despite his aptitude, Saryf grew cynical about his purpose and his future. Informants and spies were rarely trusted for long. Betrayal and death were often their fate.

Out of fear, and constant pressure from Jaresh, Saryf had adopted the worship of Dotogyr, The Unseen One. Not long after that, associates of his uncle and leaders of the House of Knives recognized Saryf's potential as a Warlock, and someday, as an assassin. These abilities were developed and trained in secret as much as possible.

After several more years, when Saryf was a man close to twenty, Jaresh decided the time was right to introduce Saryf to an old man in a mansion. No names were spoken, but Saryf believed it was Perekay the Swift, spymaster of Duke Gadadik himself. The old man gave him a task. He was to go to the Eagles Peak Monastery who were suspected of harboring freed slaves. Though the monastery itself was little more than a library in a hills passage, rumor was the abbot may be a highly positioned priest of The Face of the Free.

Perekay promised no rewards directly, but hinted strongly about valuable patronage and an important role to come if he successfully investigated these rumors. Saryf agreed and listened carefully to the cover story they had prepared for him. To be as convincing as possible, Saryf was stripped of his possessions, beaten to an inch of his life and brought near the monastery in chains. Malnourished, with iron manacles still clasped upon his wrists, he appeared at the monastery doorstep with a sad tale of kidnapping, slavery, and escape to account for it.

The monks took him in. Saryf begged them for shelter and a place in their order. He pretended to re-learn how to read and write. He attended long lectures and spoke at length with as many monks as possible. Whatever he learned, he communicated back to Jaresh.

Weeks passed, month's, and finally years. Much to his chagrin, nothing suggesting truth to the rumors of harbored slaves was evident to Saryf. In his last communication to his uncle Saryf asked permission to leave. What was the point in wasting anymore time in the cold monastery, bored out of his wits? He grew slower, weaker, with nothing to do but read in the library.

At first he despised himself for his weakening of purpose. Before long he also despised his uncle and everyone from his organization. The temptation to flee and return to Bet Bireli nagged at him day and night, but such a move was out of the question for fear for his life, and likely his uncles. Once tasked by the Duke's own spymaster there was no going back. The other monks noticed something eating at him and offered counsel. Saryf played along, making up more details about his cover story to explain his moods. In so doing, issues plaguing his heart opened up. Saryf was unconsciously relating early memories of his tribe and his dear parents into his cover story.

These new feelings of guilt, anger and remorse bothered Saryf so much he started taking leave of the monastery to go on long walks. Else wise he would surely crack under the scrutiny, even though the other monks genuinely only wished to help. While on these walks, he was surprised to recognize a great many trails and landmarks throughout the Kakapela Hills from his early childhood. That's when he remembered how to find Elfen lake, and that's when he laid eyes on Anoria for the first time.

...To Be Continued
 
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narayan

Explorer
Willambervale Somberthaine

:yawn:


Near the outskirts of the fabled gray elven city of Doulathanorian, Willambervale Somberthaine felt the warmth of the sun wake him from a dreamless sleep. Moments later, the painful cramp in his neck, the aching hangover in his skull and the familiar hard surface pressed up against his cheek reminded him where he was. ~Must have been another fun night...~ he remarked to himself.

Slowly with some effort, a wincing expression and a shallow groan, Willambervale lifted his head off the table outside his favorite tavern. The pain throbbing behind his temples intensified, as did a sudden sense of diziness. Cautiously he began to open his eyes, but the very glimpse of sunlight felt like needles and he promptly shut them again.

~Oh yes you had fun alright~, he chided himself, fumbling around his belt pouches for a healing potion. Such a use of healing magic was a waste to be sure, but not all hangovers were created equal and doulathan like himself (gray elves) were not known for strong constitutions. ~I should have listened when they warned me off the tieflings wine...~

Willambervale pulled aside his midnight blue cloak, patting around his belt wrapped around a mithral chain shirt pulling a few vials out of a pouch. He felt over them with his fingertips until he found the head of a single pin protruding from one of the corks. Marking vials of healing potions this way was useful, just in case he was blinded in battle. Two pins would mean vials of anti-toxin, three pins would mean oil of daylight... essential in combat against Drow who were fond of poisons and darkness spells.

This was standard training for the doulathan army of course, in which he served as a footman for eight years. ~Old habits die hard eh?~ ...was a human expression he liked. Willambervale popped the vial open and gulped it down just as the sound of approaching footsteps drew near.

"Well-well-well, look at this ungoliria! I shant say I should be surprised." A curt voice spit towards him at a distance of a few paces. (speaking elvish)

Willambervale tensed. 'Ungoliria' was a great insult among gray elves. It meant barbarian or 'unsightly one'. Whats worse, he recognized the voice without having to open his eyes. It was Noostari ('subofficer' or 'sergeant') Norran, out on patrol with his ntjssemi 'half-company' of eight fighters and two wizards.

As the healing potion absorbed into his body, Willambervale opened his eyes and looked up at the officer with a blank expression. The sergeant was his elder by at least two hundred years, one of the most senior officers of such low rank currently serving in the army. Norran had a sharp tongue and a reputation for harsh discipline, as might be expected of any sergeant, but there was also an underlying bitterness and cruelty to his manner that made him a most wearisome officer to serve under.

There were a lot of rumors about Norran and past misdeeds, or misfortunes, that might explain his attitude problem. Whatever those were of course, Willambervale had no doubts they had nothing to do with him.

Willambervale: "Come for a drink sir?" He asked calmly in a flat tone that sounded more like a statement than a question. Willambervale knew the officer drank a great deal more than he let on.

Norran bristled. "Watch it!" He stated, stepping forward just as Willambervale straightened up in his seat.

Such outbursts of emotion were of course unseemly for a doulathan, but Willambervale expected nothing less from Norran. Will felt much better now, and with that clarity, the blurriness of his vision cleared up enough to note how young and green the soldiers were lined up in double-file formation behind Norran. How terrified they must be! Once He stood in their place marching on patrol behind this sour veteran. Norran was rarely capable of controlling his anger which meant he was both easily manipulated, and prone to mistakes.

Norran leaned down resting his gauntlet on the edge of the table as if he might have a mind to throw a cup of wine in his face. "I don't even want to hear a 'sir' from the likes of you Willambervale. You're pathetic! A drunk! A failure, a disgrace!"

Willambervale: Frowned. "And a coward, don't forget that one."

Norran: "Yes a coward!" He spat just as Willambervale smoothly stood bumping up the edge of the table up with his elbow as he did.

The table immediately tipped under Norran's armored weight. The sergeant lost his balance, falling down in a heap with the table just as all the dirty cutlery, mugs and cups clattered on top of him staining his officers cloak.

A murmur of shock burst from the new recruits as Norran began to shout explatives worthy of an Orc. Willambervale knealt down to assist the sergeant. "You ok Sir?"

Norran: "GET BACK VARYAMORI
!" He cursed, scrambling to his feet with a face bright red in anger. "I'll have you in irons for this!" He seethed between his teeth. 'Varyamori' was another term of ridicule that meant strange black hair.

Willambervale: Blinked. "For what sir?" He said ignoring the remark about his hair color.



Norran: Gritted his teeth together but had nothing more to say, turning abruptly and shouting "MARCH!" to the recruits who almost tripped over themselves to get moving.

Willambervale stood for a minute, taking a deep breath as he watched them head out into the forest. ~Woe upon the foe they come across today!~ He sighed. A part of him missed the army. Willambervale never complained about the risks as a soldier. Defending this great city and its good people was an honorable duty, perhaps the most honorable thing he'd ever done. He would have continued to serve with pride if 'the incident' had not saw him discharged over four years ago.

Norran of course wasn't interested in the truth of what happened, nor even that his discharge was an honorable one. He only saw what he wanted to see, another convenient target for his ire and haughty attitude. Of course Willambervale wanted to loose his temper with Norran, as he normally would with anyone who disrespected him, but it was a pointless fight with lasting consequences only for himself.

Willambervale's penchant for impulsive behavior did not serve him well in doulathan society. Usually if anyone was likely to be a scapegoat or a target of ridicule, it was him. For the most part, he moved on past it, yet there were some days when lack of purpose stirred a deep melancholy in his soul. At such times he was prone to falling into bad habits and bad company. He'd participated in more than a few brawls at other taverns. Now more than ever he did his best to keep himself in check. Besides, he'd got the final word in on Norran anyway. He smirked, turning towards the entrance to the Misty Brew Tavern.

The Misty Brew was once the manor home of a famous rentaliniena 'high talent' half-elven alchemist named Morxalim
who employed several assistants who were either half-elves or non elves entirely. After his untimely death, Morxalim left his home and all his property to them. None had the talent to take over his trade so instead of continuing to practice alchemy they remodeled his home into a tavern. What little alchemy they still practiced they used to add some flair to the decor and the drinks themselves.

Willambervale pushed his way in through the front door and was nearly toppled by one of the Cooshee's (Elven Hounds) who barelled into him affectionately. These hounds stood almost shoulder level with most elves and weighed at least as much as two.

Willambervale: "Careful Blackpaw!" He grunted, reaching down to pet the animals forehead affectionately. The canine had dark grey fur, but his paws and spots along his back and forehead were black.

"Don't even think about coming in here without picking up that mess outside!" The stern voice of Liandra scolded him from behind the bar. Though twice as old as Willambervale, the fact she was half-elven meant she looked far older than most elves. Her hair was almost white, her face and hands textured with fine wrinkles, yet her spirit, and her voice, were as strong as ever.

Willambervale: Flinched. "Sorry, I, err..."

Liandra: "You think a few silvers entitles you to make a mess of the place do ya?"

Willambervale:
"No, I just thought..."

Liandra: "You good for nothing scoundrel! I'll let the city watch drag you away next time you decided to sleep outside like a common beggar. How'd that be?!"

Willambervale: Frowned. He knew better than to argue with her. This was a battle of wills he would loose. "I'll be right back..." He muttered, moving back to the table out front with Blackpaw at his heels. Will grabbed the table, righting it before kneeling down to gather up the mess.

Blackpaw sniffed at the ground. "Sorry I wasn't thinking of you when I let the scraps fall into the dirt." Willambervale apologized to the dog.

However he soon realized Blackpaw wasn't sniffing at scraps but rather some sort of small grey object, roughly the size and shape of an egg affixed to a broken cord. Willambervale paused, lifting the object free of the dirt by the cord. Blackpaw sniffed at it again and immediately started growling, backing away.

Willambervale stared at the egg with surprise for a few long moments, having never seen its like before. Questions and concerns rushed through his mind. ~What is this?! Did Norran drop it?!~



As blackpaw started snarling and barking Willambervale quickly covered the object with a discarded cloth napkin and stuffed it into his pocket. Blackpaw seemed to calm down not being able to see or smell the object very clearly. Willambervale wasn't sure which, but he trusted the instincts of elven hounds. They served his people exceptionally well as guard animals.

Moments later, Willambervale carried the sloppy stack of cutlery, wooden cups, bowls and plates inside back with him, placing them on the bar in front of Liandra as respectfully as he could while she watched him like a hawk.

Liandra: "Something wrong?" She asked with a prying, somewhat motherly tone. She'd known Willambervale a long time. Long enough to know when something was off. The truth was she cared for him almost like a son, though she'd never admit that to anyone, him least of all.

Willambervale: "I just feel a bit ill." He lied

Liandra: "You better not be insinuating something was wrong with my cooking?! Now go wash up, I'll have breakfast ready soon."

Willambervale moved towards the staircase where the communal washroom was located upstairs. He paid for a room here often enough to think of it as home, but right now he felt anything but comfortable.

Once inside the washroom he splashed cold water on his face, scrubbing any lingering sleepiness out of his eyes. Then he quickly pulled the object out of his pocket and unwrapped it, holding it up in front of the mirror. Thought it had the shape of an egg it was heavier, roughly the weight of stone, though it was not exactly stone. What it was made of exactly was difficult to guess. It wasn't quite as smooth as metal or ceramic.

The scattered set of facial features spread randomly across its surface were finely shaped, giving the item a rather disconcertingly realistic quality. ~What in the hells is it?~ He asked himself, moving his hand in the workings of a familiar spell... Detect Magic.

Willambervale studied as an apprentice to Telerai Ghostcloak, a powerful doulathan Wizard for four years. He was easily capable of interpreting whatever magical aura(s) this ...thing might possess. Yet no sooner did the spell leave his lips that something altogether different and surprising occured. The egg opened one of its eyes, staring back at him!

Willambervale gasped, almost dropping it, tempted instinctively to smash it to bits. But then just as suddenly, the eye shut again before he could truly react or even assure himself he wasn't imagining things. Meanwhile, after several further tense moments passed, the magic of the spell seemingly failed, revealing no magic aura's of any kind. ~How can that be?!~ Willambervale pondered. He was certain he saw it open one of its eyes. "I'm not loosing my mind!" He exclaimed under his breath.

[Willambervale: What do you do?]
 
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narayan

Explorer
The Tavern of Lost Souls

As King Welren entered the 'Tavern of Lost Souls' he rather awkwardly pulled up his hood. After all his translucent astral body resembled his mortal form in almost every way, including his garments. He may not be easily killed in such a state but he was still recognizable. The last thing he wanted was anyone here to start taking note of his visits or asking questions. Astral plane or not, nowhere was absolutely safe from the Network of the Blue Salamander.

As King Welren moved along the wall towards the private booths, he recognized the tavern-keeper, a handsome middle-aged man named Dondarion stepping before him with his usual easy grin, bowing slightly with a hand to his chest.

Dondarion: (Speaking Common) "Your majesty, welcome back to my humble establishment!" He said in a respectful low voice.

Welren frowned in surprise and nodded curtly with irritation. It took considerable self control not to raise his voice and shout his displeasure the same way he would with his common servants. Welren had not revealed who he was to Dondarion, but it was equally clear by the way the tavern-keeper held his stance, that he would insist to have a word with him. Angry as he was, Welren had to remind himself this was not Cosdol. Here he did not rule. He had to remain calm, polite, and cautious of the dangers.

King Welren: Appeared non-plussed. "Thank you Dondarion. I trust my usual booth is still available?"

Dondarion: Nodded. "Of course your majesty, three of your associates are already waiting for you. Will you be ordering any drinks?"

Welren realized the reason for his request was rather obvious. Taverns made their business selling food and drink. However in astral form he could not imbibe anything. If he was going to use this tavern as a meeting place, the very least he could do was spend some coin as if he could.

King Welren: "Yes of course."

Dondarion: Smiled. "Much appreciated your majesty. The lasses will be grateful." He said gesturing to the serving maids.

King Welren: "Forgive me sir if I can't give you an honest opinion of your brews in my current state."

Dondarion: "Perhaps not your majesty, most-a-pity, but next time you visit rest assured it is safe to come as your usual self. Only the ziggurat is floating on the Astral Plane. The air we breath and the interior of the tavern itself is part of the material plane of my homeworld."

King Welren: Nodded "Ah, and which world would that be?"

Dondarion: "With all due respect your majesty it's unlikely you've ever heard of it. It is known as Ayodya."

King Welren: "Ayodya..." He repeated. "You're correct I have not heard of it. If I had a mind to see it could I travel there from here?"

Dondarion: Nodded "Yes you could quite easily your majesty..." Dondarion answered gesturing to a door beside the bar. "Beyond that door lies my homeworld. However, it will only open IF you know the magic word!" He said with a wink. "A necessary precaution I'm afraid. Some of these patrons and the other dangers of the Astral Plane might wreck havoc there otherwise."

King Welren: Smiled despite himself. "Very wise! I would do the same." He liked Dondarion and he was curious about the world of Ayodya, but now was not the time for stories. "Please forgive me Dondarion, I would love to hear about Ayodya and the story behind this tavern, but right now I must meet my associates."

Dondarion: Smiled warmly "Of course your majesty, I did not mean to interrupt your business." he said, bowing again with a hand to his chest. "I only wished to be of service."

King Welren: "There is but one favor I would ask, please don't refer to me as 'your majesty' anymore. How is it that you know who I am? I have tried to keep my identity here a secret."

Dondarion: Stood up straighter. "As you wish. In truth it is not I who recognized you, but rather, the owner of this tavern. He told me he knew your great-grandfather, Veseln-the-conjurer. He is most pleased to see you here and would like to make your acquaintance."

King Welren: Raised a brow and glanced around. "Is he here now?"

Dondarion: Smiled. "No. Like myself he dwells on Ayodya."

King Welren: "What is his name?"

Dondarion: Leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper. "I'm afraid I am not allowed to use his name. He takes his anonymity very seriously."

King Welren: Frowned but nodded. "I see. Well perhaps we shall speak again after my meeting." He said moving past Dondarion towards the private booths, each separated from the others by stone walls and hidden from view from the rest of the tavern by ornately carved hinged wooden gates.

Welren opened the gate for the booth he had reserved and recognized the other three members of his alliance seated within, also in astral form. One was Archmage Anaechin Tovalathlanco, a famed high elven wizard from the great elven city of Lathlanian within the Lendelwood. The other was Farstad the Steadfast, a stern Dwarven wizard from the Kingdom of Draska in the Byth Mountains. The last was Archmage Zenith, proud Dean of the famous college of Magic in Bet Rogala, capital of Pekal.

Archmage Farstad: Glared towards Welren. (speaking common) "What kept you?!"

King Welren: Slipped inside the gate and stood before the table. "Mr. Dondarion, the tavern-keeper, seemes to know I wear I crown."

Archmage Zenith: Raised a brow "Curious, did he explain how?"

King Welren: "Not exactly. He said the owner of the tavern recognized me. He said he used to know my great-grandfather, Veseln-the-conjurer."

Archmage Anaechin: (Speaking Elvish) "As did I. Your great-grandfather was a great man."

Archmage Farstad: Glared towards Archmage Anaechin. (Speaking Common) "We agreed! No Elvish to be spoken at these meetings!"

Archmage Anaechin: Sighed. (Speaking Elvish) "Why not? You clearly understand it?"

Archmage Farstad: Growled. (speaking common) "Aye I understand it, and I can even read the damned flowery script as well, but I'll be cursed thrice-over if I speak it out loud! Elves aren't welcome where I come from!"

Archmage Anaechin: Rolled his eyes. (Speaking Elvish) "We aren't in Draska are we?"

Archmage Zenith: Chuckles (Speaking common) "He's got you there Farstad!"

King Welren: (Speaking Common) "ENOUGH! We'll speak the common-tongue at these meetings, as agreed. I'll hear no more bickering!"

Farstad leaned back crossing his arms with satisfaction as King Welren sat down beside Archmage Anaechin.

King Welren: Sighed, suddenly very tired. "Has anyone learned anything new about the Annulus?"

Archmage Anaechin: (Speaking Common) "According to the ancient elven tradition, the spellsingers were the first arcane spellcasters on Tellene. Their songs are powerful magic yes, but also knowledge. Glimpses of the past and accounts of history can be gleaned from some of the verses."

King Welren: "And which knowledge have you learned from these songs?"

Archmage Anaechin: Pulls a scroll from his sleeve and clears his throat. "I would prefer to read it out loud in elvish, it looses some of its rhyme when translated to the common tongue."

Archmage Farstad: Growls. "By my beard you will try!"

Archmage Anaechin: Frowns. (Speaking Common)

"We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding north as wind in the morning.
Above their banners, pikes and shields, the Annuli were carried tall,
Staves bearing the eyes of their masters, the old gods, watching over them all.
Before them the army of the giants assembled in the northern fields,
as strong and as tall as the walls of Ayotha that spurned them.
The high king of the giants fought and fell there, nevermore to hold
over the hills and fields of man grown too bold.
His heir returned to their islands, to their dark sea and waves,
the only beings capable of standing against the south, nevermore so brave."

To be continued...
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Willambervale Begins to Investigate

Willambervale examines the egg carefully; he uses his Appraisal skill in an attempt to determine its possible value, based on what sort of stone it's crafted from, and the artistry involved. He uses his Search skill to examine it closely, to discover seams, chisel marks, flaws, cracks, etc. He uses his Knowledge Arcana skill to try and remember if he's ever read about such an object before, and what its purpose might be; lastly, recalling the manner in which his Detect Magic spell faded, he uses his Spellcraft skill to determine whether the failure was caused by his own error, or possibly by the armor he was wearing, or whether the item itself somehow resisted the spell.

OOC: Appraise: 10, Search: 12, Knowledge Arcana: 17, Spellcraft: 16. If these checks turn up nothing, it is Willambervale's intention to seek out Telerai, and ask him to peruse his research library. (Thus allowing Will to "take 20" by spending a whole day pouring over tomes, doing research.)
 

narayan

Explorer
Quarzi Lagomorpha

As the dim light of early dawn glowed through the frosted windows of The Whispering Eye, Quarzi woke beneath her furs. The wild hare curled up beside her was already awake sensing the stress of Quarzi's heartbeat and the dark dreams that haunted her restless sleep. Quarzi took a deep breath and hugged the furball. "Sorry for the bad dreams!" She whispered, squeezing her friend tightly.

Outside her small room the sounds of cooking and daily chores had already begun within the kitchen and the rest of the Inn. Quarzi had chores of her own that needed tending, things she insisted to do to help out. Quarzi slipped out from beneath her furs with her animal companion hopping at her heels. Though the hearths within the inn burned low all night long, the chill of long winter nights was unavoidable, especially with so many doors and hallways between her shed-like former-storage-room attached to the inn's exterior and the warm common room further inside. Her own small cast-iron stove had long long since gone cold as well.

Quarzi lit the lantern hanging above the stove, illuminating shelves full of herbs, salves and other natural remedies of her collection. After she donned her fur-lined boots, warm wool trousers and other garments designed to move through the snow-packed forests, she moved to open the back door.

The Whispering Eye (#8 on the Map of Sovrven) was positioned at the top of a 'T' intersection of roads leading into the center of town and around the periphery where the farmhouses lay. A grove of mixed trees stood directly behind the inn, with which she was as intimately familiar as this very room. Her training as a shaman and profession as an herbalist meant she spent most of her time outdoors, gathering herbs, communing with animals, spirits, and other natural creatures of the hills and forests.

As far as she knew, her lifestyle was unique among her kind. Halfing culture simply did not encourage shamanism as a way of life, especially 'golden' Halflings. In her years here in this quaint, remote town, she had learned to accept that most of the townsfolk would not understand her. That was not to say they did not respect or appreciate her talents, but more often than not, they were whispering about her behind her back with confusion or pity.

More than one halfling would-be suitor tried to court her and convince her to give up the wild in exchange for a safe, cozy home and a family of her own. She had to admit if her family and village weren't lost to her in that horrific tragedy, she may well have grown up to adopt that way of life. However, she didn't chose her past anymore than she could choose how that changed her

Quoso was like a father to her yes, but in some ways she was less like a daughter to him. She listened to his tales and stories of the civilized lands to the south. So rich with history they were, of wars, religions, great cities and even greater kings. Thanks to his fireside chats Quarzi understood Halflings played a significant role in many economies and governments throughout Tellene.

Quoso often expressed his worry for her future and happiness. He tried to educate her in any way she might have wanted, to prepare her for any other sort of life she might have wanted. The extended-family network of the golden halflings provided opportunities and support nearly anywhere and everywhere, but she had no desire to leave Sovrven or be 'settled' the way others believed she should be.

The wild hare beside her that was her totem animal companion was the only other living thing that truly understood, loved and accepted her. Quarzi had come to terms with that a long time ago, and she did not expect that to change.

As she opened the back door, the bracing chill of the early-morning air tingled against her nose and cheeks, reddening her skin. She smiled. This was always her favorite part of the day. Her hare lept through the doorway and bounded into the fresh snow. Quarzi followed, moving around the back of the inn where the animal pens were kept. She noted fresh tracks around the hen house. ~clever fox is back eh?~

Though farm animals were of less interest to her than the wild variety, she still had empathy and cared for them in much the same way. Under her care, few of the usual illnesses and diseases seemed to affect them. Her talents as a healer of animals and people alike served the town well. Quarzi was summoned to various farms and households at least twice a week to help treat various injuries or illnesses. Not all of the townsfolk welcomed her of course. Some considered her strange and untrustworthy, preferring easier (and more costly) magical remedies.

Quarzi busied herself collecting eggs, making soothing clucking noises to the hens as she did so, when something odd caught her attention. Movement in the trees! Yes she was certain of it. Something, or someone, was stepping through the snow nearby!

The Inn of course did not own the trees as part of its property, but Quarzi considered them part of her home anyway. Whenever children from the town decided to roam through them she was quick to supervise and scold if they misbehaved. If it was someone else, someone who didn't care much for her or her attitude towards the grove, she would make her displeasure known, and if necessary call in a favor from the town guard.

As a youth, Quarzi would often keep the town guard company, shadowing them on their patrols, almost like a scout. She befriended most of them, fetching water, food or wood for their watch fires. The town guard was run by a half-elf named Tanner, an ex-mercenary of southern Cosdol. Tanner was badly injured in battle several decades ago which gave him a bad limp. Tanner didn't along walk on patrols much in person anymore, but he did still ride and fight as well as any man, though he was certainly no longer young. Tanner considered Quoso an old friend and looked after Quarzi on his behalf.

Altogether, the town guard included eight full-time regulars and another dozen part-timers. Usually one of the regulars would lead a patrol of four-to-six part timers out of town at least once a day. Otherwise, the regulars stationed themselves at the gates of the town's bridge, at the town jail (Where Tanner spent most of his time), or busied themselves with local matters in town itself.

[Quarzi: What do you do?]
 
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97mg

Villager


Quoso, Tanner, and even the kind folks of Sovrven who sought aid with their livestock, pets and animal friends, they were young Quarzi's tribe this day. Well, as close as the little golden halfling could get, to being part of such a thing in the traditional sense. It didn't bother her that preconceptions rarely fit.

Indeed, Quoso had realized early on that this woman was very much a peculiarity. The rabbit, the affection for nature, the desire to help and her spiritually-driven yet simple view of the world. This was no druidic lass or ranger of the forests. A symptom of horrors and hardships as well as friendships and peace, a wild desire to survive and adaptability were the ingredients she'd been crafted from. Quarzi was both a shaman and a golden halfling, a mismatch if ever there was one. It didn't come down to training or the judgements of kin either. She was a product of circumstances, and though some of them were dire, they had formed in the way a mountain river might choose its winding path, or how a branch grows to one day bare the weight of a buzzing hive of bees.

Like the hare, a creature of speed and cunning in efforts to avoid hungry preying eyes, Quarzi tried her very best to live in the present. Be thankful for the thorny bushes that protect one's burrows. Be alert and careful, lest something unexpectedly cause stress and surprise. When all else fails, run, kick those legs and seek the safety of earth! Such thinking had saved her life, not to mention the cottontail that had showed her the way. It was her totem animal. It could be no other way. Like the hare, Quarzi was very much an innocent soul. Skittish and easily startled perhaps, yet also capable of deep feelings, affection and attachment. Friendships like she'd formed here, in Sovrven.

It was a peaceful existence and a blessing. She was contented. Few ambitions or thoughts of greater things caused bother. One day at a time, she lived in respect of those around her, and the animal who'd saved her skin. A species often seen as little more than a provider of pelts, strangely enough.

However, even hares have dreams. A little meditation can go a long way, but some memories will always stick. Even the smallest of animals can learn from the fear and experience of childhood memories. Quarzi would never rid her mind fully of those terrors and screams. She had to just go on, accepting of it, and let it only be a distraction during times set aside for rest.

Revenge. It had crossed her mind more than once. These days though, such emotions shamed her. Hares didn't secure full-lifetime or multi-generational tribes by waging wars or chasing down the explanations of olden ills. No. Warrens were chosen based on safety and convenience. Few might ever consider how this peaceful and natural way brought about success, but consider this, across the borders of continents, throughout forests and fields, plains and hills, they are there. They were there before you, and their offspring will be there well past the time you have gone.

Distractions helped too. There was always something to do, even here in Sovrven where she went by the name of Quella...

Quoso frowned with a very serious expression and warned that she must never repeat that name (Braxon Claithorne), nor ever again tell anyone else hers or where she was born.
At first, it had pained Quarzi to deceive these folk, not being able to speak freely her true name... or homeland. But Quoso knew best. He'd been clear as the morning sun about it, and as firm as those granite tors out far beyond the grove. And what did a name matter anyway? Such trivialities were of no consequence to the spirits. And the hare? We'll, he didn't seem to mind. At least it was a pretty name... and less likely to arouse questions of heritage.

* * *​

Gently, Quella returned her cupped palmfulls of eggs to the ground. She set them down softly if she could, upon the cool fluffy safety of morning snow. They would keep. Keep until she knew who approached.

It was instinctive to show caution like this. A habitual reaction though simple, that was brushed with as many undertones as one might seek. The reaction of a woman who'd sworn never to be caught unawares, ever again? Or was this simply her totem's way? Indeed, her hare had already left her gaze, probably tucked away under the hutch's stumps, or some other sneaky bunny-sized place. But make no mistake, Quarzi was no simple creature. That brain beneath long strands of sunshine-blonde hair, it was always weighing and summing, wondering and learning. She could fathom and philosophize with the best of them. Her observations and perspectives rarely went uncherished by her friends.

Why would someone visit so, without announcing themselves? And this manner of gaining access to the block, it wasn't what one might call polite or conventional! No, none of this had the aroma of "normal". It was time to play safe.

What dares come closer?

She decided to follow the hare's lead, shuffle to the side, and secure a place to hide.

[sblock=Rolls etc]Rolled in the rolz.org Kalamar Character Creation room. Hide = 18.[/sblock]
 
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narayan

Explorer
Willambervale Somberthaine

Willambervale examines the egg carefully; he uses his Appraisal skill in an attempt to determine its possible value, based on what sort of stone it's crafted from, and the artistry involved. He uses his Search skill to examine it closely, to discover seams, chisel marks, flaws, cracks, etc. He uses his Knowledge Arcana skill to try and remember if he's ever read about such an object before, and what its purpose might be; lastly, recalling the manner in which his Detect Magic spell faded, he uses his Spellcraft skill to determine whether the failure was caused by his own error, or possibly by the armor he was wearing, or whether the item itself somehow resisted the spell.

OOC: Appraise: 10, Search: 12, Knowledge Arcana: 17, Spellcraft: 16. If these checks turn up nothing, it is Willambervale's intention to seek out Telerai, and ask him to peruse his research library. (Thus allowing Will to "take 20" by spending a whole day pouring over tomes, doing research.)
[sblock=Results of your rolls] If you had not already noticed the egg was seemingly and possibly alive (or at least animated), your estimation of its value based purely on materials (which remain unknown to you) and craftsmanship might be something in the neighborhood of 50gp. However, one additional factor related to appraisals might be rarity and age. It is indeed possible this egg is known to history and unique in some way which could affect its value to be almost priceless.

Your high Spellcraft and Knowledge: Arcana rolls help you realize two things. Firstly, ultimately, it is how the egg appeared to look at you which affects its value. Magical creatures crafted into the shape of figurines for example can cost close to 30,000gp. Those Figurines of Wondrous Power vary quite a lot, but there is still some idea of their usefulness based on their forms. Figurines with wings will surely fly, those crafted in the shape of large or huge creatures will probably grow larger to mimic those creatures, etc.

Of course, those sort of magical items should register as magical with your spell, but it is not necessarily a given. It is still possible some other spell or magical ability is resisting your spell.
Your rolls also indicated that it is unlikely you cast the spell improperly, or that some other item affected the outcome of the spell.

Secondly, if the egg is some sort of magical construct (such as a Golem or Elemental) a Detect Magic spell will not detect its inherent magical power. Not even the higher level version of the spell, Arcane Sight, will actually detect magical creatures as magical, only the magical auras affecting them and magical items those creatures might be carrying.

In any case, what use or abilities this egg might have, as a construct, elemental, or otherwise... remain a mystery at this pont and are hard to imagine.[/sblock]

[Willambervale: What do you do]
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Willambervale Somberthaine

After careful consideration of what he knows off-the-cuff, Will decides to take the next step, and beg his former master for help. As he is on his way to Telerai's tower, his thoughts dart back and forth within the recesses of his innermost mind.

~It doesn't appear to be made of anything special, but the fact that it opened an eye and stared at me speaks to its intrensic value, materials of composition notwithstanding. This is indeed something rare and special, but what? And remember, you fool, you're the one that picked the fight with the Gorilla, not the other way around! Telerai was pretty upset the last time you spoke to him. He will likely laugh at your plight!~

Will shook his head, trying to clear his mind. ~Stop talking about yourself in the third-person! ... I refuse to allow such nonsense to shake my confidence. Telerai likes me. Surely, he's forgiven me for the Gorilla thing by now? Is that Gorilla still even in the tower at all? Only one way to find out, I guess. But what do I tell him? How do I know I can truly trust him? There are many stories of Wizards killing over-zealous apprentices who bumbled onto forbidden knowledge, or onto forgotten artifacts. What if this item holds great power? Will he try to take it from me? No, no, no. Telerai is my friend. He knew my father. He helped stop the coup against the queen all those years ago. He is a man of honor. I doubt a simple item such as this could corrupt him enough to turn on me. Still... maybe I'd better not let on about it just yet. I'll start with a simple request, and go from there... just need to use your library, trying to get better at preparing scrolls... yes, that's what I'll tell him. I'll wait until I know more, before I come to him with it.~

After a few minutes, Will arrived at the stairs leading down, to the sunken door which marked the entrance to Telerai's underground tower. He knocked on it and waited, hopeful that the old Elf wouldn't ask too many questions.
 
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narayan

Explorer
Saryf, Anoria

Anoria: "Those men, who were they?"

[Sblock=Saryf] A caravan arrived at the Eagle's Peak Monastery a short while ago. Though not a regular occurrence, it was not unusual for the monks to offer refreshments and shelter to weary travelers. Most of the time visitors are small bands of Dejy crossing the Kakidela Mountains eastward from the Wild Lands. This caravan was different however. It appeared at first sight to be farmers and tradesman from the Principality of Pekal to the south. Pekal has a reputation for racial tolerance and harmony. A wide variety of human and demi-human races dwell within its borders. The principality does not have many resources other than foodstuffs, textiles, and trace minerals. This caravan was hauling sacks of potatoes, grain and other assorted foodstuffs north from their winter warehouses. It included six Kalamaran men, two Kalamaran women, and one Dejy who served as their guide.

However, your instincts as a spy and informant served you well as you soon suspected these farmers and tradesman were not as they appeared. First you noticed hidden weapons and armor tucked beneath their cloaks and traveling garb. Next you noted the arrogant bearing and sneers they carried, behaving far too aggressively or rudely towards the monks than was expected or polite. At first you half-expected they had a mind to attack the monastery, but then you heard four others of their number had gone on towards Elfen lake. Than you knew the truth. These men were not here to attack the monastery, they were here to capture Anoria![/Sblock]

Saryf: "They are slavers, or worse, disguised as Pekalese farmers and tradesman. Somehow they knew to find you here."

Anoria: Frowned. "I warned you not to tell anyone about us!"

Saryf: Shook his head. "I told no one!"

Anoria: "Then Someone must have followed you, or caught sight of us at some point. How many more of them are there?"

Sarfy: "Six other Kalamaran men, two Kalamaran women, and one Dejy guide."

Anoria: "And you've never seen them at the monastery before?"

Saryf: "No, never."

Anoria: "Then someone at your monastery sent word. One of your 'brothers' is also a spy or an informant. Likely the same one that followed you. It's the only explanation."

Saryf: Scowled as he shivered. ~She's right!~

[Saryf: What do you do? (It's Freezing!)]
 
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Neurotic

Adventurer
Saryf

OOC: Sorry for the delay again :(
Here are my rolls = 233 fun fact: 5 and 20 are on positions 5 and 20 :)

Over the weekend I will edit the character to finish everything - from spell selection to invocation powers and feat descriptions.


Saryf: "I don't know for sure. But by what I've seen they are slavers of some sort. It is not safe for you to remain here. Someone like you would be a target for any and all slaver and 'get-quickly-rich' schemer for kingdoms around if the word is about to spread. Return to your kingdom and I will call you as I can. I know you don't really choose when to return, but you could remain underwater for the time being. And remain close to it at all times. Please. I know you chafe at limitations...but I...I..."

The young man turns away from his love.
"I couldn't bear to lose you again. I almost did just now and..." his voice breaks, but he turns back to her and continues "...see what it did. It opened my eyes to the wider world. For all the enslaved. For everyone who is taken advantage of. And to my own nature despite my upbringing. I know I wouldn't fit in your world. But in time...I can learn. But for that, I have to see the world. To grow, both physically, mentally, spiritually. And rest assured, my love for you will NEVER diminish. And I will endeavor to call on you as I can. But right now, I have to warn the monastery, if those guys decide to attack unprepared monks, there will be death even if ultimately they cannot prevail. Stay safe, Anoria, I will come back for you once it is safe"

Saryf gives her a kiss and starts walking toward the monastery when he stops and turns back toward her "May I tell the abbot about you? He may protect the lake if he knows there is someone worth protecting."
 
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narayan

Explorer
Saryf, Anoria

Anoria: Raises her voice in distress. "Don't go back! You'll be walking into a trap!" She gestures to the three corpses felled by your eldritch blasts. "These slavers won't let you live to get away with this!" She states with tearful eyes. "Whoever betrayed you among your brothers will help make sure of it, if only to keep their own part a secret. Can't you see you've already justified whatever lies they make up?! Slaying these men with your hidden powers and betraying your sacred vows absconding with the likes of me is all the proof they need."

Anoria steps over to kneel over one of the corpses. "We should search them, quickly, for evidence of whom they serve and where they come from. We may not get another chance. You said they have another Dejy as their guide did you not? Odds are he is practiced at tracking fleeing slaves, we must be away with as much of a head start as we can manage before they set after us."

Anoria stares at you, begging you to change your mind. "Saryf! You must listen to me! I have learned things from the Seelie Court. Evidence and whispers of evil plots at work in this region, and others. There is no point for you to hide away in that monastery any longer. There is work to be done, and others I must warn against the powerful evils preparing for a great war! I may not be able to return to this lake again. Come with me, now, it is the best chance to ensure we can stay together!"

[Saryf: What do you do?]
 
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Neurotic

Adventurer
Saryf listens to the distraught girl ~"however senior she may be in real years"~
"What do you mean, betraying my sacred vows?! I know you're scared, but if the slavers attack and kill, or worse take someone prisoner, it will be on my soul. And if they, as you say, have skilled tracker and they are on horses, minor advantage of at most hours start won't make any difference."

He gives her a quick hug
"Look, search them, prepare for quick departure. But I have to warn the brothers. There is a risk of course. But only if I hesitate. The longer they have to prepare, harder will it be for me to bypass them and longer there will be to concoct real-sounding story. Trust me! We can do this right!"

[Is there a backdoor into the monastery? Maybe a tunnel to the lake? But I will take whatever to bypass the caravan :) ]
 

narayan

Explorer
Thale Occius Iceforge



City-State of Zoa, Reanaaria Bay, Late Fall, 1044 Y.K.

A cool drenching rain pummeled the old bricks of Market Street, suitable only for a walking pace even on the best and clearest of days, so fractured it was with cracks and holes that would just as easily break an ankle or shatter spokes on a carriage wheel. Nevertheless, Thale Occius Iceforge strolled purposefully towards the Great Market of Zoa with an intimate familiarity of every pockmark and rift in his path.

Each graceful sidestep or great long stride he took accentuated his extraordinary height and lean warriors physique. This alone set him apart from the great majority of the locals. Reanaarians were medium in build, often stocky and sometimes fat. Thale's garb and weaponry only exaggerated these differences further. He was dressed in fine, yet hardy, traveling garb of elven make tailored especially for him.

From a casual observes point of view, the way his boots and cloak ignored the puddles and spray seemed almost magical. Thale passed through the downpour like a shadow through a flame. The truth was, he was merely meticulous and methodical with upkeep and care of all his possessions. His boots, for example, he brushed and oiled everyday, the better to stay quiet and withstand the rigors of the road. His cloak, likewise, was regularly cleaned and scrubbed in pine oil diluted with hot water before it was brushed free of every errant thread. All the better to mask noise as much as scent, leave no trace, and also resist stains and moisture.

Across his back, Thale carried a masterwork halberd made in the finest forges of Korem, capital city of the Militocracy of Korak. The halberd was a gift from one of the cities famous mercenary captains who swore it was battle-tested against the mighty hordes of Hobgoblins from Norga-Krangrel. Thale had every reason to believe it was, though the mercenary captain not lost an arm and the ability to properly wield it some time ago.

Impressive as the halberd was, Thale's true pride was his fathers sword, a very old masterwork hand-and-a-half barbarian-style battle sword crafted in the finest traditions of the Fhokki smiths in the so-called 'Ice Forge', that was also his namesake. The weapon was a family heirloom, wielded by generations of clan lords. Known simply as 'The father's sword' by his fathers people, the runic inscription along the blade read "Suffer no guilt who wields this in the name of their father".

Thale was uncertain if every wielder of the blade was an honorable man. Indeed he could not say from his own experience if that was true of his own father who died of a magical curse when young Thale was just three years old. He liked to think of the inscription as a reminder to wield the blade with pride for some sort of cause, even if that cause was as plain as vengeance. Someday he hoped to return to the frozen north, to the lands of his fathers people and learn more about the history of the sword, and perhaps find some way to use it there to honor his fathers memory.

Now however, his thoughts were focused on the present and the wishes of his step-father, an elven merchant-lord named Aeron Beijor Sartoris. ­Their relationship was formal, lacking affection, though Aeron took interest in young Thale from an early age as soon as he showed magical aptitude enrolling him into the Duskblade Training College very young.

The disciplined life of a Duskblade was a poor substitute for a normal childhood in some ways, but it spared him the gossip and ridicule given to his Reanaarian noble mother (Isabel Faerooel) for wedding a cursed Fhokki followed by an elf. Thale was closest with his twin half-elven half-siblings, both of whom looked up to him with awe, and also quite mischievously used him as a chaperone whenever they wanted to be away of their fathers stuffy mansion.

Thale often cursed their curiosity and penchant to run off to explore the cities many dark alleyways. They weren't old enough yet to understand how lucky they truly were, despite his mothers repeated attempts to remind them of their noble families humble roots as slaves.
______________________________________________________________________________

Though slavery itself had always been an accepted norm in the great city-state of Zoa, it was certainly more humane here than most other regions of Tellene. Most slaves come from two sources. The first and larger is debt servitude, often for a period of 7-10 years. A citizen who suffers a substantial fine or debt in Zoa is subject to imprisonment and slavery to work off the debt. In the case of a public fine, the citizen usually works directly for the city until the debt is paid.

In the case of a private debt, the city pays the creditor some or all of the money owed and the city sells the citizen to the Slavers' Guild for a standardized price. The guild sells of the slaves to merchants or other citizens who have asked for a particular trade skill or quality. Once every few weeks, the guild auctions off the unwanted slaves in the market.

Secondly, the Zoan navy brings brings in prisoners or military action as slaves to be sold in the Slavers' Guild. After capturing a pirate vessel or a smuggler, the city enslaves the remaining crew, although it might free some based on extraordinary circumstances (such as a trusted character vouching for the captive). In rare cases, the ship captain may take prisoners as personal slaves as part of his booty. Most captains trade the salves for political favor or gift them to land-bound family members.

Fully 80% of the city's slaves work in the Coins Disctict, the Citadel District, or in the wealthy villas just north of the city's walls. The remaining 20% are individuals who live and work in the Artisan and Market Districts. These slaves are considered valued additions to the family business, treated in some cases more as partners than property.

[Sblock=Districts of Zoa]
[/Sblock]

Only the very wealthy citizens maintain slaves for entertainment. Bards, Basiran dancers, gladiators, jugglers, magicians and jesters. These slaves are signs of prestige, and some have even earned their freedom. Only in the case of House Faerooel has a family of slaves risen to the level of influential aristocracy. Because of their history, no Faerooel owns a slave.

Thale's mother Isabel likewise never tolerated a man who would tolerate a slave. Both the elves and Fhokki have similar beliefs, so it was only natural she would consider them as suitable suitors. Of course, noble marriages also served other purposes. The alliance she hoped to hold with her first husband, Thale's father, was was intended to shore up long term relationship for trade and shipbuilding, and to guard vs. war if any threat loomed large enough to threaten their properties abroad and around the city.

Aeron was likewise a noble among his people, not hers, but his longstanding influence as a wealthy merchant here in Zoa with a voice in both the Merchant and Mages Guild was also valuable for her family.
______________________________________________________________________________


As Thale approached the Great Market he slowed his pace somewhat, glancing over his shoulder once or twice to be sure he wasn't being followed. Aeron's message warned him to be careful, as had several others over recent years. Thale wasn't sure what the source of this step-fathers newfound paranoia was, but Aeron was no fool or one to make warnings lightly.

What Aeron asked him to do was also something of a mystery to Thale. Although the duties of a Duskblade usually required discretion, most of their assignments were planned out by high-ranking senior leaders and done together as a group. Targets of the Duskblades were usually roaming bands of evil humanoids, errant monsters, undead, pirates, slavers (for which Thale had a singular hatred), brigands, dishonest merchants, smugglers and mercenaries.

Yet there were also other targets kept secret from public knowledge. Corrupt officials, clergy, even lords sometimes faced the wrath and justice of the Duskblades. These righteous killings (and they weren't always killings) were never acknowledged or spoken of again to ensure the perception the Duskblades operated entirely within the law under the auspices of local lords and regional laws.

For Thale, or any other Duskblade, to be tasked as an individual to undertake a mission or task outside the regular Duskblade chain of command was a rare and unusual thing, but not unheard of. Afterall, the Duskblades as an organization were not as autonomous and self sufficient as they appeared. Powers throughout Tellene supported and used the Duskblades for tasks they could not, or preferred not to be seen to do themselves.

Thale was always told these powers were forces of good in the world (largely the elves for the most part) and thus rarely questioned his orders, yet this time was different. This time the orders came directly from his step-father Aeron. The message read as follows.

[Sblock=Aeron's Message] 'Seek Captain Raeden Corbry at The Crossed Cutlass. Prepare for a long voyage. Be Careful.' [/Sblock]

Thale was well aware (more aware than most, even within the Duskblades) how many of their orders began as suggestions from Aeron (or those of his elven court mouthed by Aeron) yet this was the first time he was tasked specifically alone for a purpose by his step-father. Beyond that, Thale doubted his brother Duskblades would even be told exactly where he was and what he was doing. Unusual indeed.

Thale had no problems operating alone. Self reliance and bravery were hallmarks of his character, but then again, he was normally given more information.
______________________________________________________________________________



Typically by midday the Great Market had the atmosphere of a carnival. Screeching animals, performers, displays of richly colored silks and rugs, the pungent odors of exotic spices, herbs, fresh fish and other foodstuffs from around the world were an assault on the senses. Rainy days like this subdued that environment somewhat, but by no means was the market empty or any slower in terms of business. Every square inch of available space for tents, booths, carts, or just a spot to squat beside a basket of oysters was still taken.

As Thale walked into the market proper shrugging off or staring side-eyed at all manner of con men, pickpockets, evangelists, and beggars the ground changed from old bricks to packed sandy-clay turned to wet paste in the rain. He made his way through the muddy avenues between the vendors, heading towards one of the raised platforms of the Shields (City Watch).

These were 12' tall and about 8' square with wooden frames formed like a ladder for easy climbing. Above each was an angled roof, extra spears, shields, crossbows, a hot coal brazier and several lanterns. Typically each platform held half a Shield Patrol (a full shield patrol includes 9 shields and 1 sergeant).

Thale spotted his old friend Zilaxi, an elderly Svimohzish expatriate standing below the tower quietly smoking his pipe. Though his back was turned, Zilaxi called out his name a good few paces away.
The old Shield might as well have been a bloodhound.

Zilaxi: "Thale!" He grunted, turning to smirk at the young Duskblade.

Thale: Half-smiled. "Good to see you old friend."

Zilaxi: "What brings you to the Great Market today? Don't tell me you lost track of the twins again?" He scolded.

Thale: "No, no, not this time. I merely wished to have a word with you about someone."

Zilaxi: Peered at Thale beneath white bushy brows. His dark features had the look of old-creased leather, but his eyes glinted with keen intellect and experience. "Oh? And who would that be?"

As a few other shields looked over their sholder, Thale indicaed to Zilaxi that he wanted to share the word in private with a quick jerk of his head. The old shield obliged, tapping out his pipe before he stepped out from beneath the awning of the towers roof into the rain.

Thale: "What have you heard about Raeden Corbry? I'm told he is a merchant captain of sorts."

Zilaxi: Chuckled. "Of a sort yes... once he was simply a pirate."

Thale: "Ah, that's what I was worried about."

Zilaxi: "They say his years of boarding ships are over, and he only uses his crews now to guard whats his along the trade routes. Raeden is not one to trade in slaves, or one to butcher or maroon a ships crew. His standards of common decency are better than most reformed from that trade."

Thale: "Does he still serve The Thirteen?"

[Sblock=The Thirteen]'The Thirteen' refers to an actual pirate alliance within Reanaaria Bay known as the Captains' Table of Thirteen. Only the most powerful thirteen captains have a place in this group. Ostensibly they work together to organize and govern piracy within the bay. In fact the truth is a far less democratic. In actuality the founder of The Thirteen rules the Captains' Table with an iron fist, served by a huge spy network known as The Friends of the Coin.[/Sblock]

Zilaxi: "I believe he does, though who or how specifically is unclear."

Thale: "Which ship is his?"

Zilaxi: "He arrived at port this morning in a fast little sloop called 'The Sea Snake'."

Thale: "Just a sloop huh? Did he offload much cargo?"

Zilaxi: "Some, but not a lot. It didn't look like he intended to do much business on the docks today."

Thale: "Thank you old friend." He said plucking a platinum coin from behind his belt.

Zilaxi: Swiped the coin away deftly. "Be careful!"

Thale: Hmmphed. "You aren't the first to say that."

Zilaxi: Winked "Let's hope I'm not the last!"

[Thale: What do you do?]
 
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narayan

Explorer
Quarzi Lagomorpha

Quarzi busied herself collecting eggs, making soothing clucking noises to the hens as she did so, when something odd caught her attention. Movement in the trees! Yes she was certain of it. Something, or someone, was stepping through the snow nearby!

Quarzi Lagomorpha said:
Gently, Quella returned her cupped palmfulls of eggs to the ground. She set them down softly if she could, upon the cool fluffy safety of morning snow. They would keep. Keep until she knew who approached.

It was instinctive to show caution like this. A habitual reaction though simple, that was brushed with as many undertones as one might seek. The reaction of a woman who'd sworn never to be caught unawares, ever again? Or was this simply her totem's way? Indeed, her hare had already left her gaze, probably tucked away under the hutch's stumps, or some other sneaky bunny-sized place. But make no mistake, Quarzi was no simple creature. That brain beneath long strands of sunshine-blonde hair, it was always weighing and summing, wondering and learning. She could fathom and philosophize with the best of them. Her observations and perspectives rarely went uncherished by her friends.

Why would someone visit so, without announcing themselves? And this manner of gaining access to the block, it wasn't what one might call polite or conventional! No, none of this had the aroma of "normal". It was time to play safe.

What dares come closer?

She decided to follow the hare's lead, shuffle to the side, and secure a place to hide.

[sblock=Rolls etc]Rolled in the rolz.org Kalamar Character Creation room. Hide = 18.[/sblock]
As you crouch beside the pile of firewood stacked behind the inn, you stare into the shadows beneath the snow-capped trees. (Aided of course by your low-light vision)

(FATE POOL Spot Check: 19 + 5 = 24, Success!)

You spot a figure moving to the edge of the treeline. About four feet tall, slightly hunched over, lean and scrawny. At first you guessed it was another village youth up to more mischief, but the state of their garments and furs quickly dismissed that notion. Though you are not a trapper by profession, you are still skilled at recognizing animal pelts, even from a distance of thirty feet or more.

Though this stranger is garbed in leathers and furs befitting the cold climate, it wears none of the high quality gear you'd recognize of local make. These are crudely made (at best), while also being well worn and disheveled. The hooded winter cloak it carries consists of patchwork pelts of low-quality, likely rats, squirrels, possum and other rodents. Around its neck (and largely concealing its face) is a fur scarf likely made from a wolfs tail.

Though you cannot make out most of its facial features, what you do see is both ugly and inhuman. You note skin tone of a sickly orange/reddish hue around a grossly broad nose set between strikingly menacing yellow eyes that send a shiver of fear down your spine. It wears finger-less gloves, holding a light crossbow in its grip (of medium size) as it crouches and creeps closer to the treeline. You also glimpse what appears to be other weapons, pouches and some variety of humanoid scalps tied around its waist.

[Quarzi: What do you do?]
 
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narayan

Explorer
Saryf, Anoria

Saryf listens to the distraught girl ~"however senior she may be in real years"~
"What do you mean, betraying my sacred vows?! I know you're scared, but if the slavers attack and kill, or worse take someone prisoner, it will be on my soul. And if they, as you say, have skilled tracker and they are on horses, minor advantage of at most hours start won't make any difference."

He gives her a quick hug
"Look, search them, prepare for quick departure. But I have to warn the brothers. There is a risk of course. But only if I hesitate. The longer they have to prepare, harder will it be for me to bypass them and longer there will be to concoct real-sounding story. Trust me! We can do this right!"

[Is there a backdoor into the monastery? Maybe a tunnel to the lake? But I will take whatever to bypass the caravan :) ]


The Eagles Peak Monastery is a sturdy stone structure built within a mountain pass a few miles from Elfen Lake. Behind the monastery are herb gardens (none of which currently grow anything in the deep winter season), a small stables (the monks keep mules) and extra storerooms for Firewood, Provisions, Oils and alchemical substances (some of which are too dangerous to keep inside the monastery).

There are a few narrow rocky paths leading away from the monastery besides the main gate/front courtyard. Approaching the monastery by any path other than the main road is difficult in the best of times and especially treacherous in the frigid snows. (Dexterity Checks will be Required at any speed greater than 1/2 move. Failure on those checks will result in Saving Throws.)

There is more than one path to Elfen Lake, but the quickest most direct path from the Monastery arrives at the road leading to the monastery first. Even that is not an obvious path. Elfen Lake is so remote and well-hidden it requires some local knowledge (or a good search roll) to discover any route to reach it.

The monks study and copy texts of The Speaker of the Word, The Mule and The Eye Opener, three religions that focus on Ethics, Oath-Keeping, Wisdom, Knowledge and Enlightenment. The monastery is not directly beholden to any one religion, but those three churches send clerics and priests here a few times a year to give sermons. Besides prayer and observance of their religious vows, the monks busy themselves everyday with menial labor, crafts and study.

Some sweep floors and scrub everything clean, others scribe scrolls or copy books, maps and other texts, some make clothing and shoes, some serve in the kitchens, keep the hearths burning, cut hair or tend to sickness and injury. The most trusted and skilled help in the alchemical laboratory making a variety of items, substances and goods that sell well in markets near and far.

In all there are about forty monks. In the past the monastery has been attacked a few times by roaming monsters, treacherous bandits or wandering humanoids. Officially the monks maintain neutrality in all worldly-conflicts, but have and will defend themselves when necessary. That being said, their armory and combat training is somewhat lacking.

It is your belief the monks will probably hold out against the caravan if they must, but having never seen the monks in action there is also a significant lack of certainty in that regard.

[Sblock=Effects of Cold Exposure]As stated in Chapter 8 of the Dungeon Masters Guide 'Immersion in chilled waters calls for an immediate check to resist the effects of cold exposure and increases the DC of all Fortitude saves to avoid taking damaged from cold or resisting cold-based effects by 10 until the character and his clothes become dry'.

Thus you will have to make a Fortitude Save of DC 25 to attempt to reach the monastery without first drying your clothes. Failure on that save will result in 1d6 points of non-lethal damage. Your condition will be changed to fatigued and you will succumb to Mild Hypothermia & Frostbite by the time you reach the monastery.


Hypothermia
Once you have mild hypothermia if you suffer any more damage from cold exposure you are susceptible to moderate hypothermia. Moderate hypothermia will change your condition to exhausted. Beyond that, severe hypothermia changes your condition to disabled. A successful DC 15 Heal Check will normally lower the levels of hypothermia by one level, but if you are still outside wearing wet clothing the difficulty changes to DC 18.

Frostbite
A character who takes any nonlethal damage from cold or exposure is beset by frostbite and suffers a -2 penalty to his Dexterity score. A successful DC 15 Heal Check can normally cure frostbite, but if you are still outside in the cold the DC changes to DC 18.[/Sblock]

If you take time to find or make shelter, undress and dry your clothing before you head back to the monastery (or travel elsewhere), I will allow you to lessen the DC of the Fortitude Save for cold exposure to DC 15. You will have to first make a Survival Check to determine how much time that will take. If Anoria is helping you in this regard, she will provide a healthy bonus to that roll.


[Saryf: What do you do?]
 
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Neurotic

Adventurer
Saryf

Saryf: "Prepare to run, hide here and wait." Saryf pulls himself away from the girl and starts walking toward the monastery less accessible paths. He calls upon the power of The Guardian and his steps suddenly blur as the strides get faster and longer. He pauses for few heartbeats more ensuring he doesn't freeze in the wet clothes and goes onward hoping to get to The Abbot before the caravan people do.

OOC:
Cast domain spell Longstrider
Cast prepared spell Endure Elements (he might actually have it cast already, he was visiting the lake and he lives in the high mountain monastery)

Only comprehend languages and cantrips remain.

Half-move once into the mountain pass - it is 20' not 15' - not big difference, but it accumulates.
He will risk some full moves on straight parts, but it is more important that he gets there than to try to get there faster.

If there is some extra bad place where free movement would help him pass long slog in one quick run - use Travel domain power of free movement for 1 round (that's 80' move through deep snow drifts or some other similar obstacle)
 

Aust Thale

Explorer
Thale And A Morning Stroll...To an Inn...

Thale's Memory said:
The slaver smirked at Thale. “You will be broken, boy. And then we’ll sell you to a chubby Dejy who will make you wish you were back among us.” Not receiving the reaction he wanted, the slaver continued, “And I promise you, we’ll all get to know the half-elven bitch in as many ways as we can think of.”

At that moment, Thale could do nothing. He was bound, bloodied, broken ribs, broken jaw, separated shoulder, and his back whipped to the sinews. He seethed inside. He tasted bile, sweat, and blood. He waited patiently, wishing pain approaching death on this slaver and his brethren. He had set out to rescue the young Mira from these kidnappers who saw an easy payday.

She was once a slave, the child of a slave, and grandchild of a slave. Her inheritance was slavery. His parents had acquired her from another owner, a pretentious sloth who was constantly in hock to Thale’s stepfather for various hobbies and ventures for which he was really not meant. It was obvious her most recent owner was behind her abduction. That the slavers he employed to seize and return her double-crossed him was the reason Thale knew where she was.

Thale left the sloth to his parents’ wrath. The slavers were another matter. He had approached them directly and given the group a choice; present her peacefully back to him or he would take her by force. He never saw the long-spear that swept his feet out from under him, but he felt the beating that came after, even into unconsciousness. Indeed, he had felt every blow, every cut, every insult that was directed toward him since them.

Two days of ship travel, tied to one of the masts, being beaten hourly had taken its toll. At first he verbally fenced with the slavers, until they grew weary of his wit and broke his jaw with a wooden rope cleat. By the time he had reached the garrison, he was literally black and blue with bruises and broken bones.

Thale bode his time, taking the beatings, paying attention to his surroundings within the garrison and the clicks of steps of the guards and servants. One particular slaver was a true moron, teasing Thale by leaving Thale’s weapons within sight of his cell and next door to an another prisoner. The sight of his beloved weapons gave Thale inspiration to seize his moment.
Just as he acted then, Thale moved through the market now with a purpose. Zilaxi could always be counted on. Of course, proper coin or not, Duskblades had the tendency to ply information from even the most stoic of City Shields. Certainly no less was true with Zilaxi, but the value of his information deserved something extra. The old Svimoshi could find a gnome's fart in a city of halflings full with gas! It was no surprise then that Zilaxi knew something of this Raeden Corbry, a former pirate of some renown it would seem. That his stepfather knew him also wasn't surprising either; Aeron know everything. What troubled Thale was the fact HE had not heard of Raeden before today.

Thale's Memory said:
With a bloody tongue Thale whispered a spell to himself, loosening his bindings. The slaver guard had not noticed. In fact, he had turned his back to Thale. Just then Thale heard the magical message deep in his ears and head. They were coming, and they were close. Broken jaw or not, Thale smiled.

As the slaver opened the gate inward, Thale muttered another spell watching the slaver’s eyes roll back, magical vertigo taking hold forcing him to stumble forward through the cell opening, barely catching himself at the threshold. Thale leaped, shoulder and ribs cracking, moving past the slaver and shoving him back into the cell. Meanwhile, the prisoner reached for the slaver, grabbing his head scarf and jerking hard on it. Still dazed, the slaver spun into the hard pull and fell against the bars.

Thale leapt toward his sword, yanking it free with a smooth pull as he pivoted back toward the slaver who was punching at the prisoner (who happened to be an elf) and clawing at the scarf struggling to release himself with wide eyes and a horrified gasping expression. Weak and wounded as they were, the prisoner could not hold him for long, but it was enough. Just as the slaver jerked free and leapt forward Thale reached with his good hand and moved to shut the cell gate.

As the slaver charged the door in a panic he attempted to shout an alarm but could not catch his breath in time before Thale shoved his sword between the bars impaling him through his midsection. The slavers eye's bulged, his hands grasping at the blade that almost ran him through attempting to pull himself free. Yet Thale was too quick. He snatched the slavers scarf again, this time jerking him closer, pulling him over the blade all the way to the hilt. The slaver instantly coughed up blood and moaned, weakening at the knees. Thale could feel the mans weight on the blade as he started to collapse.

With tears of pain in his eyes, Thale leaned into the gate as it latched slamming his shoulder into the bars hearing a nauseating <snikt> as his shoulder went back into place. Eye to eye with the slaver now Thale whispered “...this is for Mira!" pulling the slaver’s own dagger from his belt and shoving it up through the soft underside of the mans jaw. Thale held him there a moment longer, watching the last light of consciousness fade from his eyes.

Somewhere close, Thale heard the rest of the slavers shouting in alarm. Their boats were burning. His brothers had come and there was more killing yet to be done. From the other cell the prisoner smiled at him with gratitude. The sight of their relief made it all worth it.
Life sprinkled in its fair share of sweet rewards for Thale as he spied a favorite fruit dealer and paused to purchase a pear to chew on while he strolled. His face and ribs were sore today. The slavers' whips left reminders across his face, back and sides. No sense of humor to be found among that lot. None at all. Especially now. Thale didn't smile. He killed his first man that day, but it was merely the first of many. Hell, by the end of that day he'd lost count.

His brethren had killed many more than he did. Nearly seventy (70) in all. Slavers the lot of them. Their garrison being ransacked and burned to the ground was a fitting backdrop to the body count. Before his Duskblades swallowed the camp whole, it was among the largest and most trafficked slaver den for 100 miles in any direction.

Afterward, the massacre was spoken of in hushed tones throughout Reanaria Bay. Duskblades were certainly suspected for the slaughter, yet few had the courage to mention it more loudly than quiet tavern-talk. However, ever since that day, crowds parted when any recognized Duskblade came into public places. It was no different for Thale as he continued on towards the Crossed Cutlass.

Thale: -Speaking aloud to himself- “Raeden Corbry, we shall see what sort of man you are.”

 
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narayan

Explorer
Willambervale Somberthaine

Willambervale said:
Will arrived at the stairs leading down, to the sunken door which marked the entrance to Telerai's underground tower. He knocked on it and waited, hopeful that the old Elf wouldn't ask too many questions.


As you knock on the tall door to Telerai's Tower you are started to see it magically open for you the way it used to do when you lived here as an apprentice.

"Eshaal'Aul" (Elvish for 'Come In')... a whispered voice speaks, never failing to bristle the hairs on the back of your neck everytime you hear it. No matter where you look the speech seems source-less, yet close, almost as if it exists only in your head. It is merely one of many strange charms about Telerai's tower.

You are certain now that Telerai was expecting you and quickly step through the door as you used to do so often. The familiar walls of the interior are quartz-granite supporting high tiled-ceilings. Your boot-steps echo on floors of mirror-smooth grey marble streaked with veins of white and silver. Beyond the threshold, a stone antechamber beckons shrouded in a fine smoke of braziers, incense and dozens of candles.

As you enter unseen spirits circle and surround you effecting ripples through the smoke sending a chill down your spine. As a young apprentice Telerai told you long ago to pay these 'mormhaor' (spirits) no heed. He claimed they were harmless, even voiceless, but now you realize he was mistaken.

Your heartbeat quickens as you feel their ghostly fingers scratching at your garments. You shiver as their hollow, raspish whispers utter curses and threats in a forgotten tongue. This was something new. Until now the spirits rarely ever attempted to touch or communicate with you. It seemed they only wished to interact with Telerai, and for the most part that was fine with you. Despite your curiosity for them, they always made you nervous. Now more than ever!

Telerai told you the mormhaor were shadows of memories of a bygone age when there was just one original race of elves; both beautiful and immortal. These first elves constructed this tower, and others like it, as a way of keeping rooted into the earth without spoiling the beauty of natures landscapes. They also built them as a refuge against the vast hosts of evil races let loose upon this world of Tellene.

During the mythical period known as The War of the Gods the original creator's essence was trapped on a distant plane (perhaps for the rest of eternity), allowing the lesser gods to alter, create and destroy parts of this world as they pleased. The first elves believed their superior magics would keep them safe from the inferior races created by the lesser gods.

However, with the loss of their maker, the first elves soon realized their true enemy was mortality itself. Torn from their bond with the creator, the first elves were now vulnerable to age and death. Many refused to accept their fate, though none could sustain themselves forever. Those that clung to life the longest lingered now only as fading spirits in ancient bastions like this, completely isolated from the stranger world outside with barely a spark of life left in them.

However those first elves who accepted the need to change and adapt spread out across the world in large groups warring against the evil races fathering new generations. After millennia, these tribes each evolved differently into the known elven subraces that exist today.

~It's the egg! The spirits are drawn towards it~

Your realization comes to mind just as Telerai Ghostcloak himself appears before you, dressed as always in his billowy grey/white robes. The fatherly gray elven wizard stares with awe and surprise at the spirits swirling around you.



Telerai: (Speaking Elvish) "...Tosi elama!" He gasps. "She was right!"

Willambervale: (Speaking Elvish) "Telerai! What should I do?"

Telerai: "BE QUIET! BE STILL!" He says sternly, closing his eyes in concentration as he starts to murmur and chant powerful spells. Immediately in that moment, the spirits grow restless and uncomfortable. Though you cannot see it, you sense angst and frustration as they swiftly retreat.

Willambervale: "What did you do?" You ask taking a deep breath of relief.

Telerai: "I demonstrated that my magic comes from the power of the present, not the past. These spirits cannot stand to be reminded they do not belong here."

Willambervale: "Why did they reach for me like that?"

Telerai: "Because of what you carry!" He exclaims. "Willambervale, I was visited by another spirit before you arrived. She resembled another Tosi elama, like yourself, albeit with different features. She came to the door and told me you were coming." He pauses and glances around as if searching for the spirits. "I realize now what I should have known when they whispered your name to me years ago. You have a destiny!"

[Willambervale: What do you do?]
 
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