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RESPEN'S GAMBIT

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
GM: Posted on behalf of Respen, as per our Facebook Messenger conversation:


~ Stepping into the unknown, swimming way past the buoys. Ah well. To live? To die? To live. ~


Respen swoons, dizzy at Dame Clare’s bite. His heart races. Although the blood loss is minimal, he is nevertheless relieved when she restores his health. He still tastes a trickle of blood in his mouth, salty and unsettling. Her advances are completely unfamiliar. Aesthetics aside, Respen finally realizes that his curiosity has landed in a twisted sort of pickle juice, and for a moment, his eyes betray him. Fear. An emotion nearly foreign to him, the unfortunate side effect of his impetuous, even pathological curiosity. In his eyes, for a moment, she can see genuine fear and uncertainty for the first time.

And surprise. She sees genuine, confused surprise. Dame Clare’s turning of his words catches him wholly off-guard. Has she misunderstood him, or is she testing his resolve? Coming back to his senses, he replies to her, “So now you wish to bind me, and call it loyalty? That is simply trading domination for slavery? Your Grace, with all due respect, deities don’t demand that kind of fealty, reasonable ones anyway. And though you are akin to Eilistraee-extraordinary and captivating, and a little attractively broken (with due respect to your sister), you are not a deity. Yet. ”

He shakes his head and pauses briefly, contemplating ways out of this that will not involve permanent regret or death. He smiles for a moment, still curious about what happens next, despite now palpably fearful. He looks at her, shakes off his fear, and continues sharply, quickly such that his fear doesn’t show. He take control of the conversation, steering it the way he would want Dame Clare to intend it, not necessarily what she wants. He feels as if there is no return now; if he is to die or give his soul away, he will surrender neither his curiosity nor sense of adventure.

“Fine, you could end me. Does it make you feel more at ease hearing me say it out loud? You want to see what I am made of? How far I will go? You want to see if I mean what I say? Right then. ” He places his hand on the orb, and the other atop it, and looks at Dame Clare, as if waiting for her hands in kind. For a fleeting moment, he contemplates grabbing the orb and running for his life, and immediately thinks better of it. He chuckles mischievously in spite of himself.

“Your Grace, you should place your hands here. On top, of course.” His sense of humor being all that’s left to propel him, he tries to inject a little into his current situation. He remains stubbornly resolved. He thinks for several moments before speaking in the elven tongue in his native dialect.

An oath to Dame Clare:

I will bring no harm to your named family in priority: Nelvandra and child, and then Ky, and then you, in that order.

I pledge to always tell the truth to you unless doing so places Nel or child, Ky, or you yourself, innocents, or allies at risk or compromises my integrity.

I pledge that I will freely speak truth to your power…to counsel you honestly…and to use my best judgment in both respects.

I pledge to assist you where the merits say I should, and to offer truthful reasons where they do not.

I pledge to always give you the opportunity to change my mind by reason and kindness.

I pledge fealty in exact manner and proportion to that which you pledge to me, insomuch as either of us have it within our power.

I pledge to not abuse that fealty by placing you in the middle of situations of my making.

I pledge to ask for your help when I need it, which you are free to give or not give, as long as you pledge the same in kind.

I pledge to save you from yourself by balancing your rules and cravings with balance and creativity."


Respen pauses a moment and continues:

"...As long as you do not upset the balance, and you allow me my personal freedom, you need not to force me to your will. I’ll help you where the merits say I should, and I will listen to you before I speak.”

After waiting a moment, he discards the dramatically noble moment with more humor, rather tickled that the pledges sound like human wedding vows. ~ How quaint. ~ “Now, since we appear to be wed, shall I assume we are wed? Does that create a problem for you and Nel? I hope not, as treacherous as you say she can be. I shall be nervous returning to her. ”
 

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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Respen Swears Fealty To Dame Clare!

Respen said:
"...Fine, you could end me. Does it make you feel more at ease hearing me say it out loud?"

Clare giggles with glee, "Not at all my dear. I'm not trying to humiliate you, and I don't want you to feel as if you have to grovel. We're friends now, you and I. Now it's time we got to know each other. This oath will be the foundation upon which we build further."

Respen said:
"...Your Grace, you should place your hands here. On top, of course."

Dame Clare smiles, and says, "You're the one swearing the oath, my dear."

Respen said:
"...I will bring no harm to your named family in priority: Nelvandra and child, and then Ky, and then you, in that order."

Dame Clare chuckles at Respen, "The order does not matter; as far as The Orb is concerned, you have sworn never to harm any of us. You cannot pick and choose when you will keep a vow. You have sworn to do no harm, to Nel, nor to her children, nor to Ky, nor to me. I am impressed. In return, I hereby vow that I shall never physically harm you, nor those you truly love."

The Orb flashes, and red lightning bolts spew forth from it, striking both Clare and Respen. "DO NO HARM," the cryptic voice of The Orb echoes throughout the chamber.

Respen said:
"...I pledge to always tell the truth to you unless doing so places Nel or child, Ky, or you yourself, innocents, or allies at risk or compromises my integrity."

Dame Clare says, "When you swear by The Orb, you abide by its laws, not your own, legalistic maneuverings; you have sworn to always tell me the truth, and to always be truthful to Nel and Ky also. I commend you for that. Telling the truth NEVER compromises one's integrity. And telling lies is always riskier than being honest. Still, your loyalty to your comrades is admirable. Therefore, I hereby vow to always speak truthfully, both to you, and to your friends."

The Orb flashes, and red lightning bolts spew forth from it, striking both Clare and Respen. "TRUTH IN ALL THINGS," the cryptic voice of The Orb echoes once more.

Respen said:
"...I pledge that I will freely speak truth to your power…to counsel you honestly…and to use my best judgment in both respects."

Dame Clare replies, "The part about truth-telling is redundant. But offering to counsel me honestly is very gracious of you. Therefore, I hereby vow to give you counsel as well, in earnest, whenever you ask it of me."

The Orb flashes, and red lightning bolts spew forth from it, striking both Clare and Respen. "MUTUAL ADVICE AND COUNSEL," the cryptic voice of The Orb echoes once more.

Respen said:
"...I pledge to assist you where the merits say I should, and to offer truthful reasons where they do not."

Dame Clare chuckles, "The Merits? Who are they? What you mean is your own conscience. And I cannot fault you for that. But at least have the courage to say it. You pledge to assist me as long as you can do so with a clear conscience, and without moral ambiguity. Is this your pledge? If it is, say, 'YES, THIS IS MY SOLEMN PLEDGE.' Otherwise remain silent on this matter."

GM: I'm gonna go with my gut, and answer for you, to speed things along.


Respen remains silent.

GM: If you would actually like to make that pledge, instead of remaining silent, let me know, and I will correct this post.


Respen said:
"...I pledge to always give you the opportunity to change my mind by reason and kindness."

Dame Clare smiles wickedly at Respen, and says, "How sweet of you. But that is not a vow. I have that opportunity anyway."

Respen said:
"...I pledge fealty in exact manner and proportion to that which you pledge to me, insomuch as either of us have it within our power."

Dame Clare gasps in surprise, and blinks with disbelief; a wicked grin spreads across her face, as she gleefully replies, "Oh my goodness, you are so generous, my dear. Very well. I accept your pledge of fealty. And I pledge here and now, by the words of my lips, and the true desire of my heart, to become your mentor in the Ways of the Mystic Web, accepting all duties and responsibilities that this station entails; by your own words, you have agreed to reciprocate in kind, and I now accept you as my apprentice. Know now that this bond, between teacher and student, is sacred, and supersedes any other oath, with the sole exception of the Oath of Matrimony."

The orb flashes, and red lightning bolts spew forth from it, striking both Clare and Respen. "MASTER AND APPRENTICE, NOW AND FOREVERMORE!" the cryptic voice of the orb echoes once more, more loudly than all previous times.

Respen said:
"...I pledge to not abuse that fealty by placing you in the middle of situations of my making. ...I pledge to ask for your help when I need it, which you are free to give or not give, as long as you pledge the same in kind. ...I pledge to save you from yourself by balancing your rules and cravings with balance and creativity "

Dame Clare cackles gleefully, "Now you're babbling my dear. These pledges are meaningless, in the face of what has gone before."

Respen said:
"......As long as you do not upset the balance, and you allow me my personal freedom, you need not to force me to your will. I’ll help you where the merits say I should, and I will listen to you before I speak."

Dame Clare is now rolling with laughter, "Balance? What are you, a Modron? Personal freedom? Merits? Ha ha ha, get ready, my dear. I am going to give you what you deserve: DISCIPLINE. And as my apprentice, you would do well, indeed, to listen to me before you speak. It will keep you out of trouble."

Dame Clare waves her hand over The Orb, and utters a command word in an unknown tongue. "Ith, bethra, nom!"

This time, BLUE lightning erupts from The Orb, striking both Clare and Respen. The Orb's voice booms at both of them: "These things you swear to each other! DO NO HARM! TRUTH IN ALL THINGS! MUTUAL ADVICE AND COUNSEL! MASTER AND APPRENTICE! Be both of thee now bound, each by their very soul, to the completion of this bond!"

Wisps of blue energy leave Respen's body, while wisps of red energy leave Clare's; both shudder involuntarily as The Orb consumes the energy!

GM:
Dame Clare has spent 2,500 xp. pts.
Respen has spent 2,500 xp pts.

RESPEN: If this would cause you to lose a level, then do not adjust your xp; instead, you will have a -2,500 point deficit at the next xp award session.


Respen said:
"...Now, since we appear to be wed, shall I assume we are wed? Does that create a problem for you and Nel? I hope not, as treacherous as you say she can be. I shall be nervous returning to her."

Dame Clare smiles at Respen, and says, "We are bound as teacher and student, not man and wife. Still, you are correct about how jealous Nel can be..."

Dame Clare waves her hand, and continues: "I wish that all scars were gone from sweet Respen's body."

GM:
Dame Clare has cast Wish.
Dame Clare has spent 5,000 xp. pts.


Respen, you feel the scars from Clare's bite, as well as those from her whip, leave your body. The scars you got in your youth from various mishaps disappear as well. Your flesh is now perfect, and unbroken.

GM:
Side Effect: Respen's Charisma score increases permanently by 2 pts. This is counted as an Advancement Bonus, rather than enhancement, because it was an unintended side effect.


Dame Clare whistles, "Wow, you clean up pretty well. You're quite handsome now, without the scars."

RESPEN: You are now pledged as Dame Clare's apprentice! What do you do?
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Respen's Curiosity, Regret, and Exhultation

~ The path is as it is. I shall walk it. I wonder what Dame Clare wants of me that she would put me, a stranger, in such a position? ~

"Your Grace, I wish to take a moment and check on Nelvandra. Truthfully, I need a moment. I came to you to ask questions and submit myself willingly to help you.
I didn't expect that you would apprentice me. It is an honor to be sure, but I am perplexed. I have bedded your sister, you have taken my blood, and you have apprenticed me.
I sense that you wish me to do something for you. Surely you don't simply want me as an errand boy?
"

Respen is rejuvenated from Dame Clare's powerful spell. It isn't until Respen is back in Nel's quarters later, looking in her mirror, does he fully comprehend the spell Dame Clare cast to heal him. He had witnessed his uncle Auror cast less powerful magic, but there were limitations to it. And Auror had expressly not left more than a simple spellbook or two in Respen's care, as both the quantity and complexity of some of the spellbooks made them dangerous in Respen's hands. Respen winced. Hopefully Auror, if he could somehow see Respen now in Auror's afterlife, he wouldn't think less of him for Respen's handling of this encounter. Laramon too, though he had barely met him. With Auror's letter, Laramon had opened his library to him, agreed to apprentice him in lieu of Delbin Archanus, and help supply him and his mates. His mates! Where did they go? He hoped beyond hope they were safe, or if not safe, safely adventuring away from these machinations.

Ham-handed. Naïve. Presumptuous. Respen simultaneously felt all three. Dame Clare had twisted his words, and she clearly had a better plan for keeping him than he had for getting away. She had literally beaten him, dominated and mesmerized his mind, forced him physically to share himself with another, and forced her to do the same. Now he was her apprentice. He genuinely hoped that she might be of or similar to the Dark Maiden, Eilistraee, from the tales of the dark elves that Auror had Respen research as "elective study" during his studies in Auror's library.

Dame Clare's library. The promise of exotic magical research, discovering more about these "true vampires", and digging into darker corners of spellcasting. Respen rationalized those, less as good reasons, but definitely acceptable tradeoffs of being Dame Clare's apprentice. He would own the opportunity. Perhaps Laramon and Delbin would understand; perhaps they wouldn't; Respen hoped they would.

This arrangement would also allow Respen to look after Nelvandra without being unnecessarily dominated to do so, and perhaps Ky as well. With the risks Dame Clare was taking with Margull, if what she said about true vampires and...regular vampires, he didn't want Nel, Ky, or himself to be in the way. And without Dame Clare's protection, he would likely be their best chance. He had not meant to create the hazard. He had to own that also. Were it not for Respen, Dame Clare would not be chasing these books, nor putting their lives in danger. Respen winced again, and let the moment pass. Not the wisest choices, but choices nonetheless. He would march on.

And he would keep working on Dame Clare. Perhaps he could soften her over time, or at least get her to abandon this Margull thing.
But this whole 'discipline' thing Dame Clare mentioned? He smiled.

~ Yeah, right. Good luck with that, your Grace. ~
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
GM:
A note on NPC names: Clare's sister started out as "Nelvranda," but I have noticed that I have somehow been spelling it incorrectly, typing "Nelvandra" instead; I think because, on an instinctual level, Nelvandra is easier to say. Therefore, I am ruling that Nel's name is now OFFICIALLY "Nelvandra," from this point forward. I am not going to bother going back to previous posts and making the change. But I am leaving this note here, to establish a written record of my decision.
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Clare's Grim Reminder

Respen said:
"...It is an honor to be sure, but I am perplexed. [...] I sense that you wish me to do something for you. Surely you don't simply want me as an errand boy?"

Dame Clare says, "You are too concerned with prestige, and position, my dear. Let me put your mind at ease. You have access to knowledge that I need. And hopefully, through this process of getting to know one another, I have persuaded you to make use of that access, on my behalf, and to provide me with that knowledge. You will find that I am not ungrateful. Despite what you think about my morals, motives, and methods, I am not a fiend, and I am not bent on causing you harm or grief. In fact, I would think that my counter-oaths should have demonstrated that quite clearly. I'm willing to give, in return for what I receive from you. But I am also slow to trust, hence, my use of The Orb for the swearing of your oath. Oaths sworn on The Orb carry dire consequences for those who break them, even if that person is The Orb's owner. The Orb of Errinder is the ultimate expression of Law Through Knowledge, and of Knowledge Through Law. Ask Delbin Arcanus about it when next you see him."

Respen said:
Were it not for Respen, Dame Clare would not be chasing these books, nor putting their lives in danger. Respen winced again, and let the moment pass.

Dame Clare says, "Feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost are we? Don't worry---although it is well within my capabilities---I am not reading your mind. I don't need to, in order to know that you blame your own recklessness for your current situation. But you should take comfort in this fact: When I first became aware that the circles were being tampered with, my first thought was to simply hunt down the trespassers and feast upon their lifeblood. But you captured my curiosity, and charmed me with your naivete', and impressed me with your abilities and connections; in essence my dear, you saved all of your friends' lives. You would do well to remember that. Without you, they'd be just another group of dead adventurers who poked around where they shouldn't have. You getting separated from your friends was the best thing that could have happened to them."
 

Aust Thale

Explorer
Dame Clare says, "You are too concerned with prestige, and position, my dear. Let me put your mind at ease. You have access to knowledge that I need. And hopefully, through this process of getting to know one another, I have persuaded you to make use of that access, on my behalf, and to provide me with that knowledge. You will find that I am not ungrateful. Despite what you think about my morals, motives, and methods, I am not a fiend, and I am not bent on causing you harm or grief. In fact, I would think that my counter-oaths should have demonstrated that quite clearly. I'm willing to give, in return for what I receive from you. But I am also slow to trust, hence, my use of The Orb for the swearing of your oath. Oaths sworn on The Orb carry dire consequences for those who break them, even if that person is The Orb's owner. The Orb of Errinder is the ultimate expression of Law Through Knowledge, and of Knowledge Through Law. Ask Delbin Arcanus about it when next you see him."



Dame Clare says, "Feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost are we? Don't worry---although it is well within my capabilities---I am not reading your mind. I don't need to, in order to know that you blame your own recklessness for your current situation. But you should take comfort in this fact: When I first became aware that the circles were being tampered with, my first thought was to simply hunt down the trespassers and feast upon their lifeblood. But you captured my curiosity, and charmed me with your naivete', and impressed me with your abilities and connections; in essence my dear, you saved all of your friends' lives. You would do well to remember that. Without you, they'd be just another group of dead adventurers who poked around where they shouldn't have. You getting separated from your friends was the best thing that could have happened to them."


"Good enough, your Grace. I appreciate your candor, not to mention not simply killing me. I prefer to be the hunter, not the hunted."

Respen collects his wits about him, and continues, "I have a few various additional questions, and before I retire, I'd like to ask you. A few are mundane; the others, less so."
" Would you object to my researching in your library? I'm a bit of bookworm, despite my hunting background. And your library is...well, you could leave me here for days, and I wouldn't come up for air."
" Do you happen to have a tailor? I'd like (and can pay) for new clothes, perhaps something in a deep blue hue, and some oil for my leather."
" Do you have a spell that allows a person to magically copy a regular book whole-cloth? If you do, could I impose upon you to allow me several scrolls of it?"
" Nel is not going to be happy if she realizes that I am not the person you and Ky told her I was. I would rather not wake up with my throat slit, especially since I promised not to harm you."
" She needs a disguise if she is travelling with me, and I need her to accept the disguise without stubborn resistance. Can you have Ky gently remind Nel that is a good idea? "
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Clare Flaunts Her Power!

Respen said:
"... Would you object to my researching in your library?"

Dame Clare smiles, and says, "Not at all, my dear, but let's worry about that later. There are other matters that will soon require your undivided attention."

Respen said:
"...Do you happen to have a tailor? I'd like (and can pay) for new clothes, perhaps something in a deep blue hue, and some oil for my leather."

Dame Clare says, "Watch, and learn, sweetheart." Clare waves her hand, in the same manner as you saw her do when she brought you here... she is opening a portal!

GM:
Dame Clare has cast the Gate spell.
Dame Clare has spent 1,000 xp.


As the portal begins to form, Dame Clare calls out, seemingly to the air itself, saying, "Djinni, one of noble birth."

The portal snaps open, and there is a whoosh of air, and a massive, 10'2" tall, well-dressed, human-like being, appears next to where the portal formed. As soon as his feet touch the ground, the portal snaps shut.

The man is bald, with a long, red beard, and is dressed in fine silks, and leather slippers. He carries a massive Large-sized Greatsword slung onto his back with a leather strap. His eyes are a fascinating shade of violet, and glow brightly with ire, as he realizes what has transpired.

Dame Clare says, "I desire an immediate service, which shall be easy for you to accomplish. I want you to grant three wishes to my apprentice, which he must use within the next two and a half minutes, with the further stipulation that the first wish must be used to acquire a new wardrobe for himself. I regret having to summon you in this manner, but I am attempting to be expedient about the matter, Prince....?"

"Alorum of House Gelvar," the Djinni answers. "And you can only be Clare of the Dark Hand, of House Delzeen. I warn you now, Drow Witch, if you compel me to perform an evil deed, there will not be any place that you will be able to hide from my wrath, once my servitude has ended."

Dame Clare smiles wickedly at Prince Alorum, and taunts him, "Do you really think you have the power to face me?"

Alorum snorts in derision, "I am a Prince of the Emerald Realm. My wrath carries the weight of an army behind it, along with the power of my father, and his court. Not even one so great as you could stand against all of that."

Dame Clare chuckles, and says, "Ooooh, I like it when a man knows how to make a proper threat. It's very alluring. You are indeed nobody's fool, sweet prince. But don't worry, my apprentice is concerned with mundane matters, materialism and the like. He's a bit reckless and impulsive, perhaps even a little greedy, but he's not evil."

Dame Clare turns to Respen and commands him, "Your first wish should be something along the lines of, 'I wish for a highly fashionable, well-fitted, masterwork quality, luxurious wardrobe, appropriate for day-to-day wear in the Royal Court of Celene.' You may use the other two wishes to acquire any other items you might require for your trip, but be quick about it, for my control over the prince here is brief, and prolonged maintenance of the spell will cause me to become financially indebted to him."

RESPEN: The Ball's In Your Court! What Do You Do?
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Respen's Recompense, A Faustian Bargain Indeed

~ Wish for the world, and it will be all you ever wish for ever again. ~

Something that this Uncle Auror said, when Respen asked him about 'wish' spells and djinns. Auror wouldn't discuss them at length. It was way beyond what Respen's capabilities were, but Respen had pressed the issue once, and Auror had made that statement forcefully, and Respen backed down. The meaning was philosophically clear then, but physically clear now. Those with the ability to grant wishes, especially under the kind of coercion that Dame Clare was accustomed to, would routinely offer nasty answers to both vague as well as dangerous wishes. For some, it was poetic justice; for others, it was arcane comedy. Either way, their twisted sense of humor provided much of Oerth protection, or at least a bandage, from wayward would-be gods, tyrants, and generals, whether intended or otherwise.

And now, Respen was faced with the same, as well as a uncomfortably short period of time to make his choices. He saw the smile on Dame Clare's face, the apprehensive coerced consternation on the djinn's.

"You will keep your oaths, Prince Alorum. Nothing I ask will compromise you. Thank you."

"Wish Number One: I wish for the magic item commonly known as a Portable Hole."
"Wish Number Two: I with for my staff, a magic staff, to be imbued with the additional magical ability that allows it to change from a magical staff to a magical longbow at my command at any time I choose."

"My last wish is unique, but it should not be outside your ability, nor should you have a qualm with it."

Respen thinks carefully, as much for himself as he does for the wish. His memories of Auror Taerwynel are complicated, deep, and layered. Given his new arcane apprenticeship, and the time between his first one with Auror, and this one, and especially in light of his reservations about Dame Clare, he contemplates his relationship with Auror. Respect. Frustration. Mild fear. Those closest to Auror included Respen's mother Caeryn, cousin Architael, Respen himself, and Tavon Bogd, Auror's major domo. Tavon was a regal and sanctimonious, but loyal elf entrusted with Auror's private tower. Most of Respen's clan moved around among encampments that had existed so long as to have stone structures in the larger ones. Auror maintained a tower at the farthest southwestern edge of their lands, in proximity to mountains and the southern plains that had the largest herds of dire boar. Auror travelled with the clan as they moved with the singularities. Tavon Bogd remained at the tower, watching over Auror's things. Tavon had not an arcane bone in his body. He was a druid and healer. And something of a knowledge guy. It was with Tavon that Auror could discern who really showed arcane promise, and who might fare better as an elven priest or scout.

After Auror's passing, it was Tavon who had managed his personal effects, library, and laboratory. Architael spent time there, certainly. However, it was in the care of Tavon. And all of Auror's effects were probably put away, in the same place, and exactly as he left them. Hopefully. It might even take years for Tavon to realize the smaller wardrobe wasn't there. And even longer to realize it was Respen had it. Ah well. A problem for another day. In the meantime....

"Dame Clare, about the wardrobe; I did not realize when I asked you about clothes that this was a possibility. So if you have no objections, your Grace, I shall amend that wish."

He turns back to Prince Alorum the Djinn, and continues, "Wish Number Three: I wish for the contents of the travel wardrobe of Auror Taerwynel of the Enllaves in Western Oerth, if indeed any contents still exist there."

"Your Grace, I think my previous mentor's effects might be a better intersection of your taste and mine. Regal enough, but functional. Plains elves aren't a particularly fashionable lot. Utility is more our preference. That said, I think we 'clean up' rather well. Thank you, Prince Alorum. One day, perhaps we shall meet again under less, commercial circumstances. I would most enjoy your royal acquaintance. Until then, then. Thank you for your provisions. Good day."

Respen smiles innocently and expectantly at Dame Clare and Prince Alorum, his hands behind his back, rocking gently back and forth from heel to toe.
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Respen's Wishes, Granted By Prince Alorum!

Respen said:
"...You will keep your oaths, Prince Alorum. Nothing I ask will compromise you. Thank you. [...] Wish Number One: I wish for the magic item commonly known as a Portable Hole."

Prince Alorum is surprised at the utilitarian nature of the wish. He smiles, as he nods his head. "Done."

GM:
A Portable Hole appears at Respen's feet. It looks like a crumpled piece of black cloth.


Respen said:
"...Wish Number Two: I wish for my staff, a magic staff, to be imbued with the additional magical ability that allows it to change from a magical staff to a magical longbow at my command at any time I choose."

Prince Alorum says, "Easily done, lad. It's a pleasure to grant wishes that are practical in nature, rather than greedy ones."

GM:
Respen, before this point, your staff was a normal (non-magical, Masterwork) Quarterstaff, which had been enchanted to provide always-active spell effects.

It is now a +1 Quarterstaff while in staff form. It continues to provide its previous enchantments.

Upon speaking a command word (as a swift action) the staff can change its shape, to become a +2 Composite Longbow, set for whatever Strength score its wielder currently possesses. While the bow is held, it continues to provide its normal, always-active spell effects.

Upon speaking an additional command word (as a swift action) the bow can revert back to staff form.

Please note that if the command words cannot be spoken (if the wielder is in a zone of Silence, or underwater, or in some similar environment that prevents speech) then the staff cannot be made to change form.


Respen said:
"...Wish Number Three: I wish for the contents of the travel wardrobe of Auror Taerwynel of the Enllaves in Western Oerth, if indeed any contents still exist there."

Prince Alorum says, "For this wish, I shall require something of you; it need not be valuable or unique. I require something of yours, anything, which has sentimental value to you, and can readily be identified as belonging to you."

GM:
As per our LINE app discussion, Respen agrees, and provides Prince Alorum with his favorite, well-worn, yet well-kept, travelling cloak.


The cloak disappears, as Prince Alorum snaps his fingers. Simultaneously, a pile of clothes suddenly appears at Respen's feet, next to (not in) the crumpled Portable Hole.

GM:

Contents of the clothing pile:

Belt of Battle
Monocle of Perusal
Gloves of Storing
Black Regal Vestments (mundane) with red trim, fine leather boots.


As Respen tries on the clothes, Dame Clare whistles appreciatively.

Dame Clare taunts, "My, my, your uncle was a fancy dresser, indeed. And he also had a penchant for quality enchantments."

Respen said:
"...Thank you, Prince Alorum. One day, perhaps we shall meet again under less, commercial circumstances. I would most enjoy your royal acquaintance. Until then, then. Thank you for your provisions. Good day."

Without further conversation, Prince Alorum simply smiles, and nods at Respen. He disappears suddenly, as if he were never there to begin with. No flash, no poof, no clap of thunder. He is simply gone.

Dame Clare says, "Most excellent. It looks like you're now well-equipped for your journey. That's good. I can't have my apprentice running around, embarrassing me by looking foppish. Return to Nelvandra, and tell her to prepare. I shall teleport you both within the hour. If you desire further coupling, you'd best be quick about it. You have obligations to fulfill."

Respen: You're a wealthy, well-dressed Wizard now! What do you do?
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
On the road again...just can't wait to be on the road again...

~ Membership seems to have privileges...I certainly hope so. ~

Respen's demeanor with the djinn prince is wholly dignified and unpretentious, and before the djinn disappears, he makes mental note to address the prince properly whence he might see him again.
Afterwards, Respen gathers the items transported to Dame Clare's study, as well as the portable hole. His fear gives way to wonder and not the least bit of amazement. Not a month ago, he was travelling in an old threadbare cloak with barely anything to eat and drink. Now he will be comfortably dressed in familiar clothes with an impressive array of magic items and options.

He nods at Dame Clare at her suggestion that he make preparations, "As you wish, your Grace."

He takes his leave, and returns to Nelvandra's room. As he enters, he quietly places the clothes out in a chair near his gear, and the magic items among his others. He examines magical bow-staff, and then lays it down again. He re-packs his backpack, placing assorted survival and adventuring equipment that would fit into one of his large canvas and leather sacks outside of it, tying off the top of it. He places the portable hole atop a table and stores the equipment bag inside along with a 2nd masterwork quarterstaff, his spellbook, changes of clothes, and his bedroll and rations. He tests the hole to see that he can indeed reach in and remove the contents should he require it. He then packs his backpack with four (4) cases of parchment paper and ink, his pipe and tobacco, and his silver Holy Symbol.

He tends to his previous leather belt, already fashioned for scroll tubes, potions, and alchemical substances, such that it can be worn above the Belt of Battle. He places the three vials of carrion juice on his bandolier as well. He cleans up the quiver taken from the red orcs in Skorane, inspecting the forty (40) arrows. And he gathers his cloak and hat of disguise and other magic items, placing the monocle of perusal and portable hole in his backpack, his spell component pouch in his belt, and his new gloves of storing on his hands.

Setting all on a table and chair in one corner of the room, satisfied with his newfound lack of encumbrance, he turns his attention to Nelvandra, as she wakes from her nap and becomes alert. For a moment, he contemplates taking her, "coupling" with her, as Dame Clare put it. He watches as she rises to greet him. He realizes that whatever dominating influence that Dame Clare had exercised over the two of them, it really hadn't taken much to convince him to go to Nelvandra. Nelvandra is extraordinarily, even preternaturally, comely. She is vulnerable. She has a sense of humor. That he wanted her was without question. However, it was not really her choice at this point. He continues his work with his gear, and he helps her with hers. He innocently flirts with her, and he remains as close as she allows him to remain. However, he stays on his best behavior. Of his own free will, he will not take a woman without her entire faculties, and he wouldn't presume his own free will on her. Selfish though he might be, and not the least bit greedy and even vain, he was a stickler for individual free will. If and when she freed herself from Dame Clare's conditioning, Respen hoped she would make peace with their relationship, short and sordid though it might be. He hoped that she would remain open to something with him, at least a friendship. If a child had indeed resulted from this union, he or she would be better served with both of them as parents.

Either way, they had a mission to complete. After he is dressed and ready, he returns to Dame Clare.
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Time To Go On Clare's Errand...

Patchwall 22, CY 963. 7:30 AM.

Respen said:
...he turns his attention to Nelvandra, as she wakes from her nap and becomes alert. For a moment, he contemplates taking her, "coupling" with her, as Dame Clare put it. He watches as she rises to greet him. [...] He innocently flirts with her, and he remains as close as she allows him to remain.

Nelvandra greets Respen with a hug and a kiss, the nearness of her scantily clad form providing a tremendous distraction, and temptation. Seeing that Respen is already dressed, she begins to do the same.

Nelvandra smiles, and says, "Oooh, has it been four days already? I guess time flies when you're having fun." She gives Respen a wicked, naughty look.

As she is picking out her clothes, Nelvandra moves slowly and deliberately, allowing Respen to have a nice, long look at her lithe, graceful form; during this process, Respen notices that she has three objects among her wardrobe that are obviously magical in some regard: her tiara, her bracers, and her ring.

It is 8:00 AM by the time Respen and Nelvandra enter Clare's study. Clare seems surprised to see them both so quickly.

Clare chuckles, "Is the honeymoon over so quickly?"

Nelvandra smiles, and replies, "Not at all, sis, although I was a little disappointed to find him already dressed. Surface dwellers are so focused on their mundane tasks. But no matter, we'll make up for it upon our return." Nel grins wickedly at Respen.

Clare nods, as she walks over to a chest, and retrieves several items from it. She gives Nelvandra another ring, a pair of gloves, a belt, and an amulet.

Clare smiles, "Take these, little sister of mine. They will protect you. You're not as young as you once were, and you could use a little help."

Nel laughs at Clare, retorting, "I'm only 176 years old. I'm not a maiden, but I'm not a matron, either!" obviously referring to Clare's age.

Nelvandra takes the items, which are obviously magical in nature, and dons them, one at a time. She smiles as she prances around, hopping from one spot to another, shifting her center of balance from her left foot to her right.

Nel chuckles, "Ooh, I feel so springy and light. These things are marvelous," she says, holding up her gloved hands.

Clare nods, and replies,
"I made them myself. I've noticed that you're not as fast or as agile as you used to be. The amulet grants endurance, and the belt, of course grants you strength. And you know what the ring does, because it's the one you tried to steal from me when you were very young... remember?"

Nel nods, and chuckles. "Yes, I remember."

Once Nel has donned the items, it occurs to Respen that she is decked out, head to toe, in magical gear. ~One of the benefits of having an Arch Mage for an older sister~ Respen muses.

Dame Clare motions at the "happy couple," and says, "Stand close, and hold hands. I'm sending you directly into the study. I have seen it in Respen's thoughts. If the place is warded against teleportation, you'll simply blink and wind up back here. If not, you'll appear right where you need to be. Respen, are you quite clear on what you need to do?"
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Patchwall 22, CY 963. 7:30 AM.

Nelvandra greets Respen with a hug and a kiss, the nearness of her scantily clad form providing a tremendous distraction, and temptation. Seeing that Respen is already dressed, she begins to do the same.
Nelvandra smiles, and says, "Oooh, has it been four days already? I guess time flies when you're having fun." She gives Respen a wicked, naughty look.
As she is picking out her clothes, Nelvandra moves slowly and deliberately, allowing Respen to have a nice, long look at her lithe, graceful form; during this process, Respen notices that she has three objects among her wardrobe that are obviously magical in some regard: her tiara, her bracers, and her ring.
It is 8:00 AM by the time Respen and Nelvandra enter Clare's study. Clare seems surprised to see them both so quickly.
Clare chuckles, "Is the honeymoon over so quickly?"
Nelvandra smiles, and replies, "Not at all, sis, although I was a little disappointed to find him already dressed. Surface dwellers are so focused on their mundane tasks. But no matter, we'll make up for it upon our return." Nel grins wickedly at Respen.
Clare nods, as she walks over to a chest, and retrieves several items from it. She gives Nelvandra another ring, a pair of gloves, a belt, and an amulet.
Clare smiles, "Take these, little sister of mine. They will protect you. You're not as young as you once were, and you could use a little help."
Nel laughs at Clare, retorting, "I'm only 176 years old. I'm not a maiden, but I'm not a matron, either!" obviously referring to Clare's age.
Nelvandra takes the items, which are obviously magical in nature, and dons them, one at a time. She smiles as she prances around, hopping from one spot to another, shifting her center of balance from her left foot to her right.
Nel chuckles, "Ooh, I feel so springy and light. These things are marvelous," she says, holding up her gloved hands.
Clare nods, and replies,
"I made them myself. I've noticed that you're not as fast or as agile as you used to be. The amulet grants endurance, and the belt, of course grants you strength. And you know what the ring does, because it's the one you tried to steal from me when you were very young... remember?"
Nel nods, and chuckles. "Yes, I remember."
Once Nel has donned the items, it occurs to Respen that she is decked out, head to toe, in magical gear. ~One of the benefits of having an Arch Mage for an older sister~ Respen muses.
Dame Clare motions at the "happy couple," and says, "Stand close, and hold hands. I'm sending you directly into the study. I have seen it in Respen's thoughts. If the place is warded against teleportation, you'll simply blink and wind up back here. If not, you'll appear right where you need to be. Respen, are you quite clear on what you need to do?"


~ Curiosity, thy name is Respen. ~

Respen tries to hide his frustration regarding Nelvandra. Although he does not regret his involvement with her the last four days, given her willingness to get to know him, he is troubled that she will indeed not see him as most drow females see males. Additionally, if he couples with her while she does not completely have free will and he does, he can't square the ethical edges of that with the premium upon which he places personal freedom. They are elves, not farm animals. He snaps himself out of it as she rises and tests his limits, but he remains steadfast.

~ You are an oak among willows, Respen Coraellus. ~ Respen thinks to himself.

He notes her magical accoutrements, and he hand her his magical cloak of resistance. Although certainly used to the damp coolness of the underground, the north wind coming off the sea into Dyvers this time of year is chilly in the early morning. Not to mention, being seen would draw attention. He chuckles to himself as Dame Clare as "big sister" proceeds to tell "little sister" what "little sister" needs. He recalls his own sister corralling him in the much the same way. He is visibly surprised and chuckles again to himself at Dame Clare's letting Nel's age slip, as well as Nel's riposte. "Nel, and your Grace, respectfully, I'm not sure that the two of you should be discussing your age in my midst. That is a conversation that I can not win." Respen smiles.

Responding to Dame Clare's query regarding clarity on his errand. "Yes. Gather the relevant materials and return them here forthwith." He pauses, "Your Grace, for the record, bringing these things here is an awful idea. I am obviously compelled to your wish; however, candidly, I'm unsure if this isn't "poking the bear". I'm not eager to make an enemy of him, and I would think taking these particular things might gather his ire. That said, I'll be about it nonetheless."

Addressing Dame Clare, "Your Grace, how will we return? Do you have magical means? Or shall we come back the long way so that Nel can see more?"
Turning to Nel, "Have you ever been to Dyvers, my dear? I would like to provide a proper tour, even with as little time as I have spent there. If not this trip, perhaps another."

Becoming more serious for a moment, Respen delivers instruction to Nel, "When we arrive, you need to know some things. I've been to this location twice. I do not know every nook. It has a number of magical items or mystic tomes. I believe I know what I am looking for. While I am hunting for it, don't become distracted. There is a magical mirror that can transport us over great distances, as well as another one of these orbs like your sister possesses. Leave them alone. There may be another person there, a human woman, as well as a dog. Do not harm them. They are bystanders to this; I'll handle them. If the owner of the tomes is there, you need to leave. Right then. If his guards arrive, or there are unexpected visitors, you protect me only until you see a chance to get away. " He takes Nel's hands in his face, and places one gently on her abdomen. "You must promise me. You will not linger. "

Back to Dame Clare, "Your Grace, if he is there, and I survive the encounter, I'll find my own way back. "

Right before they depart, Respen lightens the mood a little, and he looks mischievously at both Dame and Nel, settling more on Nel, looking her over admiringly. "So, 176 years old, eh? I'm 46 years your junior. Yes, you can wipe the look off both of your faces. I was an early bloomer." He winks at Nel, "Cradle-robber."

He looks back at Dame Clare, "Let's be about this business." And he prepares to arrive in Margull's laboratory.
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Respen said:
He notes her magical accouterments, and he hand her his magical cloak of resistance. Although certainly used to the damp coolness of the underground, the north wind coming off the sea into Dyvers this time of year is chilly in the early morning. Not to mention, being seen would draw attention.

Nelvandra smiles at Respen, and gives him a peck on the cheek. "Thank you, my dear," she says, as she dons the cloak, and pulls the cloak's hood up, to cover her face.

Respen said:
He is visibly surprised and chuckles again to himself at Dame Clare's letting Nel's age slip, as well as Nel's riposte. "Nel, and your Grace, respectfully, I'm not sure that the two of you should be discussing your age in my midst. That is a conversation that I can not win."

Dame Clare chuckles, "You have much to learn, Surface Boy. Look carefully at the lithe, comely forms before you. We are Delzeen females. And we only get better with age."

Respen said:
"Your Grace, for the record, bringing these things here is an awful idea. I am obviously compelled to your wish; however, candidly, I'm unsure if this isn't "poking the bear". I'm not eager to make an enemy of him, and I would think taking these particular things might gather his ire. That said, I'll be about it nonetheless."

Dame Clare smiles, and chides Respen playfully, "Hush, dear. Let me worry about that. Do as your mistress commands of you."

Nelvandra suddenly gets a quizzical, angry look on her face. "Mistress? Wh--"

Dame Clare chuckles again, "Relax, dear sister. He hasn't shared my bed. He has sworn his loyalty upon The Orb, while you were sleeping. He has taken the Oath of Apprenticeship, just as you did. He is now bound to us both, through The Orb. I am his Teacher, and you are his Lady. You may share your thoughts with him, just as you do with me. Respen, your mind is now linked, to me, to Nelvandra, and to Kylaendra, through the power of The Orb. As long as you are on the same plane, you can communicate with us telepathically, should you choose to do so. The link is completely voluntary. Any of us can call out to you, yet, you might choose not to answer. And vice versa. But the link is always there, and would require magicks of the highest order to remove. The mental bond of The Orb is a very permanent thing."

Nelvandra smiles, and muses to Respen, telepathically: ~Welcome to House Delzeen, young Respen.~

Respen said:
Addressing Dame Clare, "Your Grace, how will we return? Do you have magical means? Or shall we come back the long way so that Nel can see more?"

Dame Clare nods at Respen, and says, "The ring that I just gave to my sister has the power to return you here, to my lab, upon speaking the proper command word, which is DELZEEN. The Word of Recall power works once per day, which makes this ring extremely powerful and valuable. Do not let it fall into the wrong hands. Guard that ring with your lives."

Respen said:
Back to Dame Clare, "Your Grace, if he is there, and I survive the encounter, I'll find my own way back."

Dame Clare chuckles again, "You worry too much, my dear. The Old Ones are sure of their power. They prefer the subtle to the overt; they rarely strike, unless the danger to themselves is extreme and immediate. If you anger him, he is more likely to imprison you, so that he can interrogate you at his leisure. That's not a pleasant prospect, I'll grant you that. But the upside is that he won't kill you, at least not right away. If that happens, remember the link. The link will save you, my dear, because it will allow me to render aid."

Respen said:
He winks at Nel, "Cradle-robber." He looks back at Dame Clare, "Let's be about this business." And he prepares to arrive in Margull's laboratory.

Both Clare and Nel chuckle at Respen's jibe. Nel gives Respen a long, deep, kiss, and says, "My sweet, innocent, little Man-Toy."

And with that, Clare casts the spell, and the kissing couple finds themselves in the quiet, dimly-lit confines of Margull's tower.

RESPEN: The teleportation spell was successful! You are now in Margull's study! It is 8:50 AM. What do you do?
 

Aust Thale

Explorer
Respen Into The Mouth of Madness

~ Move quickly...~

Respen's emotions flutter. He is exhilarated at the prospect of freedom, but frustrated that he has put himself and Nel in this position. He curses under his breath, squeezes Nel's hand, and looks about his surroundings. He looks for Margull first, Vega and Gus second, and then Margull's magical Orb and Mirror. He motions Nel to silence with his finger to his lips. Respen is all business now, and he directs Nel accordingly through their telepathic link. ~ Nel, watch the doors and the mirror; those are entry points. Do not engage anything that comes into this room until we know what it is; simply tell me mentally. We need to leave no trace if it's within our power. ~

He goes to the table that Margull's parchment, books, and papers sat on when he was last in the study days ago. He only gathers the handful of literature that he had seen. If he can't identify clearly as something related to True Vampires or the Old Ones, he leaves the papers alone. He then moves to the library shelves for the same, but he takes an extra few moment or two for anything useful that catches his eye, something that he had not had time to really do the last time he was in Margull's study. If he sees anything personal in nature or in the calligraphic style of the other "Old Ones" or "True Vampire" tomes, he collects it and places it in the stack next to the others, careful not to mix the two stacks until he scans through them. If he perceives that it will take too long (more than two-three minutes), he abandons the effort. He then walks to the window and opens it.
OOC: per verbal discussion, he checks the stained glass window and the clear one, picking the one that opens first
He is careful to not give himself away to any observers below. He looks out, trying to determine where Laramon's tower is relative to Margull's study's window. Upon finding it, he lifts his face to the sun and breathes in above-ground air and smiles, taking in the weather. He quietly casts a spell, whispering a message in Common to Laramon, intentionally not using his name. He hopes that Laramon is in his tower and hears the message. "Master Wizard. Is Respen. Skorane dangerous. Discourage seekers. Others teleported to Nosnra. I am Oathed. Orb of Errindor in Shalistaurimon. Contact later. Regrets."
OOC: Whispering Wind
He leaves the window ajar and walks quickly toward the piles of books. If possible, he does the following out of visual of Nel, if possible. However, if not, he unrolls Laramon's book return and casts it on Margull's books en masse, with the standard 72 hour return in mind.
OOC: Laramon's Book Return
He hopes that he has the good fortune of obtaining a second scroll so he can add it to his spell book. Respen knows that Dame Clare knows what she is doing, but he is obeying several of parts of his oath in presence of the Orb. Respen wants no trace of him having been there. Surely she will devour the books immediately. And she will likely be angry when they disappear. However, they will all remain safe because he is careful...for once. And that's the point. He tosses down his portable hole and places the sack of books into it.

~ Nel, we are ready. Do you want to go back now, or see any of the sights? If the latter, please let me disguise myself, and we can go out of the front door. Keep your ring handy. It's the morning, and there will be plenty of folks about. I'll let you ask your sister about it. Or not. ~ Respen winks at Nel. She said she wanted to get out and see things.
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Looting Margull's Study

Upon your arrival, you are attacked!

Respen, before you can move, a large, hairy beast leaps upon you, knocking you prone! Nel gasps in horror, and starts to chant the beginnings of a spell, until she realizes what the creature must be!

The beast is fast and efficient with his weapon of choice: his tongue! He makes quick work of your face, easily covering it with slobbery kisses!

The attacker, of course, is Gus, and he seems very happy to see you! He wags his tail happily as he continues his doggy greeting.

"My, my, this creature seems to like you, my dear." Nel says, "Is this what they call a dog?"

Respen chuckles and says, "Yes, but Gussy here is no ordinary dog. He is a prince among peasants, a mountain rising above a range of scrubby hillsides. He is truly a dog's dog, one of the best. Gus, this is Nel. She''s a friend."

Gus barks once, as if to say, "Ok, got it."

Respen, as you look around the room, you notice something odd. Although everything appears to be roughly in its correct place, the objects in the vicinity of Margull's mirror seem to be disheveled and upset, as if a small burst of wind had knocked everything askew. The papers and the map that had been on Margull's desk are now all over the floor, although none of them are missing. The book that you and Vega had been glancing at the last time you were here is cocked at an odd angle, and open to a different page. There are also two writing quills on the floor; the inkwell is still on the desk, although it has been overturned; strangely, no ink is spilling out of it.

Nel whistles in appreciation, "Enchanted, spill-proof, ink wells. This guy must be beyond rich."

As Respen walks to the window and opens it, Nel observes him. She shields her eyes from the sunlight as he begins to cast his spell.

GM:
Spellcraft check: DC = 15 + Spell Level (2) = DC: 17
Roll = 1d20+11 = 18 (Success)


Nel smiles, "Who ya talkin' to, Man-Toy?"

Without waiting for an answer, Nel begins to pick up some of the notes and papers which have fallen on the floor.

Respen said:
If possible, he does the following out of visual of Nel...

GM:
The room is too small. It is impossible not to be seen by Nel.


As Respen begins to pile the papers, map, and book on the desktop, Nel adds the things that she picked up to the pile.

"Don't forget these," she says.

Nel watches closely as Respen casts the spell.

GM:
Spellcraft DC: 18; Roll = 15 (Fail)


Nel whistles again, "Look at my little Man-Toy, casting all these fancy, high-powered magciks that I can't identify. Bravo, my pet."

Respen said:
He tosses down his portable hole and places the sack of books into it. ~Nel, we are ready. Do you want to go back now, or see any of the sights?~

Nel laughs, "Don't you DARE rob me of my fun! Of course I want to explore your world! It's all so exciting and different from The Underdark. If this were not the lair of an Old One, and we weren't in imminent danger, I'd clear off that desktop right now, and have my way with you on top of it! But I am not reckless, my dear. Come, take me to whomever you were talking to. I want to meet your friends!"

Nel looks down at Gus, and smiles at him, pursing her lips into a mock kiss. "The little doggy can come, too."

Respen: It's your move! What do you do? Where do you go?
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Respen Explores Margull's Place (with Nel)

~ Grrr. ~

OOC: Side note: Respen specifically does not include the book of directions for the mirror in those that he put in the sack and into the portable hole. It stays on the desk where it was. If Nel attempts to palm it or carry it, he resists firmly, responding that the book most assuredly stays. And as tempted as he is to want to <ahem> acquire a crystal ball, he chooses to leave it alone also.


Respen telepathically communicates with Nel without visibly responding to her comments, his thoughts deadpan, "Man-toy? Nel, we aren't in Shalistaurimon. I am responsible for you here. Indulge me the dignity of not referring to me as if I am some drow fop you won in an auction. This place isn't the way I left it, and we are missing someone I expected to be here. I'm glad of that, as nobody remains to change the mission; nevertheless, something isn't right. A moment please. "

Respen focuses a moment on Gus, scratching the dire-st.cuthbert on the chin, forcing him to his full height. He speaks to Gus in his face, quietly, "Have you been here the entire time? Where's Vega, Gus? Why would she leave you here? Margull obviously hasn't returned. And the guards, they just left you here to roam the building?" Respen pats Gus on the head and walks toward the mirror, observing the laboratory, particularly the mirror, which he stops in front of. He walks back to the book with the directions, and then turns his attention to the control for the mirror. He sits at the desk, paging through the book, looking for the mirror coordinates in the book, as well as coordinates that might lead to the Nosnra region, or even to Shalistaurimon, telepathically walking Nel through every step to keep her interested as he tries to give his Whispering Wind spell the time to get to Laramon's tower. He might not be there, in which case, the spell will simply linger like a poltergeist waiting for him, at least for a few hours.

He continues to speak to Nel telepathically, " I want to locate my friends, as well as discover what has become of them. We can explore in a few minutes. Besides, I need to feed and water Gus. Poor pup. "
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Respen looks around the room, trying to solve the puzzle of Gus’ current circumstances.

GM:
No one has disturbed this place in several days. You find a spot in the corner where Gus has been going potty. You also find the partial corpses of three dead rats, which Gus must have somehow trapped, killed, and eaten. Lastly, you find an overturned potion beaker, which Gus must have been responsible for. Despite this, Gus looks starved and desperate. What little he managed to scavenge was obviously inadequate. Gus is in desperate need of proper quantities of food and water.


It occurs to Respen that Gus would have made considerable noise during his time here; playing a hunch, Respen opens the door to the outer hallway, and finds that hallway empty. The reason that the guards did not notice the noises Gus made is because they were never there to begin with.

Nel responds to Respen, mentally ~Among the Drow, my pet, the terms Man-Toy and Pillow-Pet are used with great affection; they are private, intimate terms. I might call you these names in private, or perhaps in front of Clare, but I promise you that I will not use these names in public, not even among close and/or trusted friends. In public, I will use the word ‘dear,’ which lets people know that we are together, and lets other females know, in particular, to stay the Nine Hells away from MY man.~

While pondering the exact meaning of Nel’s last statement, Respen uses a Prestidigitation cantrip to clean up Gus’ potty area. He then gives Gus some water from his waterskin.

As this is happening, the mirror springs to life, apparently having been activated remotely. Even among Wizards, this is impressive, and clearly demonstrates the extraordinary nature of Margull’s mirror. This device is far more powerful than normal examples of its kind.

Respen and Nel notice that the mirror now shows the image of a large chamber, obviously a library, brightly lit, and to Respen, immediately familiar: Laramon’s Library. Both Respen and Nel realize that the image is a gateway, and that stepping into the mirror will transport them to the location in question.

Respen then receives the following Sending: ~“My son, you have some serious explaining to do. Step through the mirror at once, and bring the Drow female with you.”~

Respen: Laramon doesn't sound pleased! Do you step through the mirror?
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Uh oh.

~ And there it is. Seems that it was not understated. ~

Dame Clare had pointed out to Respen that Nel had a jealous streak.

~ Uh oh. ~

Upon the mirror activating, Respen's countenance is that of an adolescent elf caught with the neighbor's daughter and a barrel of distilled spirits. He quickly recovers, and he summons Nel and Gus to the mirror portal, leaving the coordinates book closed and on the desk.

The lack of security in Margull's tower, much less anybody else, troubles Respen. It dawns on him that something may be wrong. Gus likely barked himself silly. Four days is too long to have a dog locked up without water. Food, maybe. But water? Respen wonders what was in that potion beaker? No telling; but perhaps Laramon will know what's going on at the tower.

"Nel, we need to go this way." He takes her by the hand, moving with gusto into the mirror. "Gus, come along. Let's find you water and food and a place to run."

Before stepping into the mirror, Respen casts a simple spell, whispering in Elvish, to clean up and dispose of the rat carcasses.

OOC: Respen casts prestidigitation once again


Stepping into the mirror, followed immediately by Nel and Gus, Respen inhales deeply, exhales, and inhales again. When he finally meets Laramon’s stern gaze, he quickly blurts out the following sentences, which, while honest, are heavily laden with guilt:

"Greetings, Master. I would introduce my new...consort...Nelvandra of the House Delzeen. I'm sure you have more than a few questions. I shall answer them to your satisfaction or the best of my ability, whichever comes first. Nelvandra, please meet Master Laramon The Wise, Archmage Emeritus of the Dyvers Mage Guild. I am at his disposal similarly as your sister, although the formal magical ties are more banal than the Orb or Errinder. Master, we have arrived from the Underdark. I have been asked to give Nel the grand tour, or as much as she chooses. "
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Respen said:
”...Master Wizard. It’s Respen. Skorane dangerous. Discourage seekers. Others teleported to Nosnra. I am oathed. Orb of Errinder in Shalistaurimon. Contact later. Regrets.”

Laramon looks non-plussed, “Oathed? Oathed to whom? Wait.... you swore an oath on the Orb of Errinder? The orb of the ancient Suloise Divination Master? I hope you realize, my boy, that The Orb binds a part of your soul to itself in order to enforce the oath sworn upon it? And if you dare break your oath, ACCORDING TO THE ORB’S INTERPRETATION, that more of your soul can be drained away? The Orb itself is not inherently evil, but depending upon what you swear to uphold, the repercussions can be dire, for The Orb is completely neutral, and completely unbiased in the pursuit of its enforcement (to the exact letter!) of oaths sworn upon it. In Shalistaurimon, you say? Please tell me you didn’t swear loyalty to some sinister, conniving, Drow priestess?”

GM: NOTE: Every time you break your oath, you lose 10d100 (10-1000) xp. pts., up to and including level loss.


Respen said:
”...Greetings, Master. I would introduce my new... consort... Nelvandra, of House Delzeen.”

Nelvandra interrupts, saying, “I am no consort. You surface dwellers might consider 4 days of coupling to be no big deal, but where I come from, it’s known as the Tan Dol Shar, the time of bonding. Respen is my betrothed, and once we have performed the bloodletting ritual, he will be my husband. And he did NOT swear loyalty to a Drow priestess, but to the greatest Sorceress that Shalistaurimon has ever seen, my sister, Dame—“

Laramon finishes Nel’s sentence, “Clare, the so-called Empress of Darkness. Yes, I know of her. You are Clare’s sister?”

Laramon studies Nel for a moment, as the amulet around his neck begins to glow softly.

Laramon continues, “You are confused, and a bit selfish, and quite arrogant, but you lack the taint of true evil. You are not a rules follower, are you, my child? You are very much like Respen here, strong-willed, and free-spirited. I see turmoil and uncertainty within you, but there are also traces of extreme loyalty and devotion, diametrically aligned against an equal amount of jealousy and rage. Respen, this woman will be loyal to you, forever, unless you cross her. I suspect that she is the type to hold long-lasting grudges. Congratulations, then; she’ll make you an excellent wife.”

Nelvandra smiles wickedly at Laramon, and then turns to Respen, “Your friend is very insightful. And he is correct. You would do well not to ever betray me.”

Laramon’s disapproval is not lost on Respen; but his analysis is encouraging, nevertheless. Nelvandra is not evil. And she is loyal.

Laramon continues, “But I also see that you are under the effects of several powerful magicks. They infest your aura, and suppress your will. My child, I can relieve you of these magicks, if you so desire. But I will not force your acceptance of my help. The choice is yours, and yours alone, and must be made freely. What say you?”

Nelvandra, who, just moments before, had been full of confidence, now falters, as a look of uncertainty and shock crosses her face.

Nelvandra chooses her words carefully, “Suppressed? How? I am free to decide my own fate. I do not feel controlled.”

Laramon’s certainty is intimidating, heavy with the weight of accuracy: “Not controlled, my child. Conditioned.

With that statement, Nel’s countenance falls, as her eyes flicker with the recognition of multiple possibilities.

Nelvandra glances at Respen, then turns to meet Laramon’s gaze, “If you wanted me dead, I would already be so; that much is obvious. Very well, Master Laramon, free me of these magical fetters. I ask this favor of you freely and willingly.”

GM: TO BE CONTINUED!
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Respen says, “If I may, Master Laramon, I’d like to explain something to Nel first. I have suspicions myself as to what has transpired here, and I want her to know that it was not of my doing, and that the role that I did play in all of it was under magical compulsion.”

Laramon nods, and allows Respen to explain things to Nel. What follows is very poignant, heartfelt, and comprehensive. Respen leaves nothing out, opting for complete honesty.

Respen turns to Nel and asks her to sit. He holds her hands.

“Listen to me Nel. I am going to be direct. I promised to be truthful to you. I met you less than a week ago. Your sister compelled that I fulfill an obligation that she perceives that she has to you, to find you a suitable companion, and more specifically, a suitable father to a child or children that she perceives that you need and want. I could not resist the directive. She is powerful. “


He stands and walks two steps, and turns to her, continuing,


“Ky is the method of your conditioning. If you haven’t noticed how pleasant her songs are? How intoxicating they are? She is also compelled; compelled to encourage you to be more compliant toward mating, coupling, and motherhood, among other things. I think it also accentuates the jealousy that you come by naturally. Don’t blame Ky. She is not a willing participant either.

He pauses, and continues, “You’ll notice that I have not coupled with you since yesterday. Part of the oath I made to your sister through The Orb extends to you. I shall do you no harm. It also releases me from Clare’s compulsion. Therefore, I will not engage with you, no matter how pleasurable it is, as long as it is even mildly coerced.

“On to your sister, Dame Clare. I am her apprentice.”
He looks at Laramon, resolved. “The Orb of Errinder secures it. Before you offer indignation or protest, allow me to interrupt you, as to save you the expenditure of unnecessary words. It’s done. And it cannot, to my knowledge, be undone.”



Respen describes the oath as intended and the practical reality. “It straddles the gap between curse and blessing.

“Nel, your sister has a larger plan, and though I am not privy to it, I suspect it involves something not unlike what occurred among the orcs. I believe her to be the physical manifestation of Ellistraee, an alternative to Lolth’s rage and depravity. She is supremely flawed, but in that flaw lies enduring protection and stability for the Drow. I won’t justify her means, but I can assure you, she cares more for your life, your success, and your happiness, than she does about your opinion of her.

“This is a lot to contemplate. And there is more to her nature as well, besides why and how she has manipulated you. She didn’t have to condition you. She could have compelled you. And she likely would have, if she believed it furthered your safety and family legacy.

“Nel, do you recall our conversation about her being a vampire? That’s not some legend, or bedtime children’s tale. It is the truth. She is powerful. And she will protect you, whether you like it or not.

“And that leads me to this: I will uphold my oath. Dame Clare demands a high degree of loyalty from me. However, in this regard, I see conflict in parts of the oath.”


Laramon snorts sarcastically, but says nothing.

“So I think truth wins out. What you do with it is your choice. I will serve her, you, and your family. She has potential, and until I am powerful enough to force her compliance, I will remain her Right Hand, nudging her toward the better choice, through good counsel rather than compulsion.

“Laramon, I apologize. I didn’t come willingly to this present set of circumstances. It was a series of unfortunate events, combined with more than a few decisions borne of reckless curiosity. However, I am here, and I intend to serve out my purpose. I don’t like it, but I’ll live with it.

“Master Wizard, my humble apologies for bringing this to you. However, I can’t undo her conditioning. And in any case, I am unsure that I should be the one to do it.”


Respen pulls his hood over his head for dramatic effect, bowing, and giving Laramon the floor.

Nel is quiet for a moment, before saying, “Wow, that’s a lot to take in. Before I give you an answer, however, I’d like to be restored to my full faculties. I hope you understand, my dear.”

Respen nods in understanding and agreement.

It is at this point that Laramon walks over to the corner of his study, and picks up a staff, which is covered in Elven runes, and crowned with the crescent moon symbol of Corellon Larethian. Laramon holds the staff reverently, and begins to chant in Elven. It is only a single sentence, in the ancient form of Elven reserved for sacred ceremonies, but Laramon repeats it 3 times.

Laramon chants, “Eltani impressum rosa belakari. Eltani impressum rosa belakari. Eltani impressum rosa belakari.”

The runes on the staff begin to glow, and a surge of green, pulsing energy flows down the length of the staff, as Laramon touches Nelvandra’s forehead with the tip of the staff! There is a green flash, as the energy engulfs Nelvandra’s entire body for the space of an instant.

GM:
Laramon uses 1 charge from his Staff of Life.


GM:
Nelvandra has been Healed.


Nelvandra blinks a few times, seemingly in confusion, as she begins to sort through her thoughts. A look of epiphany crosses her countenance, followed by a gasp of astonishment!

GM:
TO BE CONTINUED!
 
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Halloween Horror For 5E

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