Shilsen's Eberron SH (Finished - The Last Word : 9/20/15)

shilsen

Adventurer
Regent Moranna meets the Angels in a plainly appointed meeting room, the only decoration a small banner which hangs above her chair, bearing Karrnath’s national symbol of a roaring lion in red. “Please be seated,” she says as they enter. “On behalf of the Crown, I would like to thank you for your services in protecting Princess Haydith from the Emerald Claw. The fact that you captured two members of the Claw was even more creditable. Naturally, we wish to know as much as we can about the attack and the events during the trip. I’ve already spoken to Maddox, but I would like to hear your version of events too, especially since some of you fought the leaders of the attack without anyone else to see it. Please tell me everything that you can.”

The Angels proceed to expand on the details of the attack, as well as on some of the preceding events, such as the elementals in the hold, the shadow attack, and the vampire assassins. Moranna listens and makes a few notes, asking a couple of questions here and there. When they are done, she nods. “Thank you. Something I’d also like to know about is the situation with Ambassador Theda Bara and her murder of Gustavus Thul.” Her gaze fixes itself on Gareth. “I believe you magically scanned her mind after taking her prisoner. What did you learn?”

A little surprised at the sudden change of tack, Gareth says, “Very little. There was something, some secret, she was very concerned about and feared Gustavus was about to reveal, which is why she killed him. All I know is that she seemed terrified at the prospect of it coming out. She begged us to let King Kaius question and try her, and Haydith told us to, so I stopped probing after that.”

“And that is all you learned. Are you certain?”

Though a little nettled at her tone, Gareth says politely, “Yes. I have told you all I know.”

Moranna makes a small note again. “Thank you. Lastly, please hand over whatever you recovered from the body of Arkhandus and from any of the slain members of the Emerald Claw.”

“We found nothing!” Luna responds quickly. You’re NOT getting our loot!

Moranna turns to fix the druid with a cold stare, but Luna simply stares back. After a pause of a couple of seconds, the Regent says, “Why would you lie about that?”

Gareth sighs and begins, “What my compa…,” but Luna angrily cuts him off. “Listen, lady! We just risked our lives saving your princess. A couple of us really got the crap beat out of them and almost died. And we’re not being paid for this job, which is something I did not know when we accepted it,” she turns to bestow a glare at the others, before turning back to Moranna, “So I’m just not that keen on giving up whatever few trinkets we collected. See?” She pauses, glances at Gareth, and uses the phrase he used with such telling effect with Ythana Morr. “With regret, of course.”

There is pin-drop silence for a couple of seconds and then Moranna leans forward and speaks, her tone calm but clipped, “You must be harboring a misconception. We are not taking your … trinkets. We simply wished to examine them and see what information, if any, we can gain about the attackers.”

Luna snorts. “Oh, please! Whatever there was to learn from them we’ve already got. We’ve got a fricking super-genius,” she gestures at Nameless and then, as he sits silently, turns to snap, “Well, tell her! You’re always telling us how awesome your brain is!”

Nameless looks at Moranna and shrugs. “Please forgive my comrade. She’s strongly attracted to shiny objects and reacts poorly to any sort of demands, especially if they involve giving up any such objects.”

“Nevertheless,” says Moranna, her voice if possible even more clipped, “We would like to examine them. As I said, they shall be returned to you afterwards.”

Six silently removes the magical adamantine gauntlet, formerly worn by Arkhandus, from his right hand and places it on the table. Luna gives him a glare and then raises her hands above her head. “Fine, fine – take them! But I’ll be counting them!”

“I’m sure you will,” says Moranna dryly. A few minutes later, the Angels exit the room, leaving her sitting beside a small pile of equipment.

* * * * *

A little over an hour after they return to their room, though it seems a little longer with Luna’s grousing, the Angels are asked to head to the throne room. Before they leave, Luna says, “Listen – I’m sure you idiots will complain if I say anything much there, so can you do that telepathy thing you did once, Nameless?”

“Yes, I can,” says Nameless. “Luckily, I prepared one today. Good idea.” He casts the spell and then they leave. A squad of White Lions escort them through a labyrinth of twisting corridors, until they reach a set of stairs where two members of the Conqueror’s Host stand on guard.

Proceeding up the stairs and through a curtain at the end, they emerge into what seems a small audience chamber. The Angels look around in puzzlement for a moment, finding themselves midway up a hall that ends at a blank wall, but then a gesture from the guard captain makes them turn, to see that they had actually emerged midway up the chamber, from underneath the throne of King Kaius, with him above and behind them. It is clearly a special architectural feature designed to confuse visitors and put them off their guard.

The Angels are quickly ushered to their places amidst the small gathering. Now that they can see all of it, they realize that the audience chamber is larger than they first thought, but still smaller than they would have expected after seeing Aurala’s grandiose chamber at Fairhaven, and significantly more austere. Maps of Khorvaire cover the walls, but there is almost no other decoration. In keeping with the rest of the chamber, King Kaius sits on a relatively unmarked iron throne, decorated only with the arms of Karrnath. The king is a tall clean-shaven man with a head of short, iron-gray hair, his sharply featured face even darker than the traditional Karrnathi complexion. A little incongruously, a board for the game of conqueror, a Karrnathi favorite, sits at Kaius’ right hand, the pieces on its black-and-white squares evidently in the middle of a game.

Haydith sits near her brother in a smaller, wooden chair, and Regent Moranna stands near him. Once the Angels have taken their positions, she turns to the King and he arises, his movements calm and economical, but implying an underlying strength and athleticism that belies his age. Kaius’ voice too is deliberate and methodical, but with resonant power held firmly in check, as he says, “People of Karrnath and visitors from afar, I am pleased that you are here with me to welcome back my dear sister, Haydith, after her long sojourn abroad.” He turns to Haydith and extends a hand, which she accepts, making a short bow and smiling prettily, causing the crowd to applaud and cheer in unison, as if on cue. The Angels too applaud politely.

Kaius then seats himself and Moranna steps forward, asking the Angels to step forward. As they move forward to stand before the thrones, the others have to restrain themselves from grinning or groaning as Luna’s voice says in their heads, “This is when we get a reward, right? Anyone see any presents? Anyone?” More surprising is the deep bow that Luna makes to the King, which the others swiftly do too, as indicated by a small gesture from Moranna.

As they straighten, the Regent says, “The throne of Karrnath commends the Guardian Angels of Sharn, who have lived up to their name in protecting Princess Haydith from multiple attempts on her life by the Emerald Claw.” Haydith smiles happily from her throne at the Angels, which causes Luna to somewhat spoil the solemnity of the proceedings by grinning back and waving.

Completely ignoring the gesture, Moranna continues, “During their voyage to Karrnath, the Guardian Angels also apprehended the diplomat Theda Bara, who murdered her compatriot Gustavus Thul over a matter of petty jealousy. King Kaius has considered her case and, in view of the heinous crime but considering her previous service to Karrnath, has sentenced her to a merciful and swift execution, which shall be carried out immediately.”

“Damn! That’s what passes for merciful here? What happened to twenty years hard labor and things like that?” Korm transmits to the others, causing Six to respond, “Considering where we are, it’s probably execution first and then twenty years hard labor.” Even Gareth can’t help chuckling at that.

Meanwhile, Moranna falls silent and returns to her original position. Kaius now speaks, leaning slightly sideways and considering the Angels through cold gray eyes, his tone again calm and deliberate. “As Moranna said, I thank you for protecting my sister. And now, I wonder, how might Karrnath reward you?”

“Ooh, ooh – ask him for magic stuff!” Luna’s voice shouts in the others’ heads. “Especially magical jewelry! And an airship? Can he give us an airship?” Gareth sighs inwardly and transmits back. “That’s not how this works. Don’t worry – we’ll be rewarded.” Then he bows again, before saying, “Seeing the princess delivered safely here is all the recompense we need, sire, though we are gratified at your thanks.”

“NOOOOO!!! Don’t say that!!!”

Kaius says nothing in reply for a moment, but there’s a faint flicker of amusement in his eyes. Then he says, “Even so, you have earned my thanks, and I shall have to think on a suitable reward. But, for now, come forward…” He rises and Moranna steps to his side, a flat casket appearing in her hands from somewhere, which she opens.

“What’s in the box? Can any of you see? Is it jewelry? I can’t see!”

The Angels are asked to come forward one by one, and Kaius himself takes a medal from the box and pins it on each of them, while Moranna announces that the King is bestowing the Iron Cross of the King’s Knights, in recognition of exemplary valor in protection of the throne and the royal family. The decoration is a simple ribbon in red and black, which supports a cross-shaped iron medal, bearing the arms of Karrnath.

“A medal? The son of a bitch gave us a f*cking medal! If that’s all we get, Gareth – I am going to eat you!”

Once the honors have been bestowed, the audience is quickly ended and the Angels are again escorted away by their guards. After a couple of minutes, as they move through the winding corridors, Nameless comments telepathically, “We’re not going back to our rooms.”

He is quickly proved correct, as they group arrives at a room and are ushered in to find Moranna again waiting for them. As is the pile of magic items which she had taken from them. “Here are your items,” she says without preamble. “You are supposed to accompany Princess Haydith on her return to Wroat, which shall occur in a fortnight. In the interim, you are free to go where you wish in Karrnath. What do you plan to do in the interim?”

“I think,” Gareth says, “We will be heading back to Sharn tonight. And we also plan to visit my family. We might also visit the Principalities, since we’ve had some news about us being falsely implicated in a crime there.”

“Yes, I read about that. You plan to return to Sharn? How are you planning to travel?”

Nameless lifts a hand and says simply, “Me.”

“I see. Clearly your abilities live up to your reputation. I presume then you will not need any arrangement to be made for transport to Gareth’s family.”

“No,” says Nameless. “But I’d appreciate it if you could leave the quarters we occupied today vacant. I may have to teleport us in and out and there might be trouble if people are occupying them or furniture is moved around.”

“Very well,” says Moranna. “They shall be left empty and free for your use until your departure with the Princess. Also, in view of your encounters with the Emerald Claw…”

“I knew it! She’s going to give us a job!”

“…, the King and I are curious whether you would be interested in working against them in some way. It might be profitable for you, and the King would certainly be appreciative. And since…”

“Say ‘No!’ Say ‘No!’”

“…you seem to be relatively free and able to travel thousands of miles with ease, it should not take too much time away from whatever else you might want to do.”

“Say ‘NO!’ Say ‘NO!’”

Gareth nods. “We would certainly consider it…,”

“MOTHERF*CKER!”

“…but the precise nature of the assignment would affect whether we could accept it or not. If you would inform us what you had in mind, then I could give you a reply.”

“Thank you,” says Moranna. “I shall see what I can come up with. If you return here after meeting your family, I could discuss it with you. Two days, I presume, will be sufficient.” Gareth nods and Moranna makes a note of it, before rising. As she is walking out, she glances at the fulminating Luna, and says, “Your friend looks ill,” before leaving.

Luna snarls at her and then walks over to slam the door, before rounding on Gareth. “Are you freaking nuts?! What did you get us involved with them for?”

“We’re already involved with them, remember? It’s safe to say that this Emrena wants Nameless dead and probably you too. And when did you ever draw the line at blowing things up? These people are terrorists, they kill innocent people, and they practice particularly foul necromancy. Sounds like perfect targets to me.”

Luna’s arms windmill as she shouts, “They’re part of an organization! I hate getting involved with organizations! You kill one bunch and someone else gets upset and more show up and you keep killing them and it … it just gets complicated. Show me a lich in a crypt and I’ll kick her ass from Sul to Sar! But I don’t want to be trying to destroy a group!”

Gareth shakes his head. “The Emerald Claw was around before you were born and will likely be there after you’re dead, but …”

“That’s my point! Organizations are tough to take out completely!”

Gareth sighs and turns to the others. “What do you think?”

“It seems to me,” Six says thoughtfully, “That this Lhazaar issue is a more immediate one. Let’s get back to Sharn and deal with it first, and then we can consider the Emerald Claw.”

“All right. Nameless, can we leave now?”

“Sure.”

* * * * *
Just over an hour later, Evetius Balich, purportedly the ambassador from the Lhazaar Principalities to Sharn but more accurately the representative of Prince Ryger, is disturbed at his evening meal by a loud knocking on his door. His steward leaves and returns in a few moments, significantly paler than he left. “Master – it’s the Guardian Angels! And they look upset!”

Evetius almost spits out the food in his mouth. “What? Oh…” …Sh*t! I thought they were in Karrnath! After a few seconds of hurried thought, he sends the steward off to let them in, then stops the man, rises and follows quickly behind him.

Outside, the Angels are wondering how long to wait, when the door opens, to reveal a worried-looking man and behind him, a slightly less worried and significantly better dressed gentleman. The latter says, “Greetings. I’m Evetius Balich. How may I help you?”

Gareth holds up a copy of the Korranberg Chronicle. “We need to talk about this article. Can we come in?”

Evetius swallows and then nods, somehow keeping a pleasant smile on his face, and ushers the Angels into the nearby living room. As soon as he’s seated, Gareth says plainly, “We didn’t do it.”

“Ah!” Evetius hesitates, wondering how to say what he needs to without sounding like he doesn’t trust them. The stories about these people’s legendary violence indicate that he needs to be very careful. So, he finally says, “That’s interesting. Please tell me more.”

“We have no reason to attack Prince Ryger’s ships. And we were elsewhere at the time. Flying over Aundair with princess Haydith ir’Wynarn, to be precise.”

“I see. Do you perhaps have any … proof of your innocence? Someone who can vouch for you?”

“How about King Kaius of Karrnath?”

Evetius’ eyes go wide, and before he can respond, Luna puts in, “Don’t forget about the queen in Aundair.”

“Yes. Queen Aurala of Aundair too.”

“Ah!” That changes things! Evetius steeples his fingers in thought and then says slowly, “Those are certainly … impressive references. Did the … ahem, monarchs, actually see you at the time of the attack?”

“No, but princess Haydith did. As well as just about the entire complement of the airship Serenity, since we were on board throughout the day that the attack supposedly happened.”

“Supposedly? Oh, the attack definitely occurred,” Evetius says, and then hastens to add, “But this information certainly changes things. I presume you’d like me to send it on to Regalport as soon as possible?”

“Yes. We’ll be taking care of getting our name cleared in the Chronicle.”

“That’s good. I’ll have a Sivis message sent off tonight itself, but it’ll take some time for it to get through, you understand. I’m glad you came to me with this. Prince Ryger, as you can imagine, is furious and he’ll be glad to know about this so that he can go after the actual culprits. Do you have any idea why you were the people impersonated?”

The Angels shakes their heads. Evetius quickly continues, “Since we are so far from the Principalities, would you be willing to speak to Prince Ryger about this? After my message gets through and he knows the reality of the situation, of course.”

“Certainly,” says Gareth. Luna shoots him a look and then shrugs and says, “Okay, but definitely after he finds out. Otherwise he might try attacking us and I doubt your fleet’s big enough to afford losing that many ships!”

Evetius simply smiles, making a mental note to add a line in the message to his master about the fact that at least a couple of the Angels are of dubious mental stability.

* * * * *
Half an hour later, the Angels are back in the Gray House, with Fett and Flim Turen. Their changeling assistant had departed to the local Chronicle office to fetch the gnome correspondent while they were speaking to Evetius. Now, Flim sits at a desk making copious notes about not only their innocence regarding the attack in Regalport but also everything that has happened on their voyage.

“So how soon can you have that in the paper?”

Flim considers and says, “We probably won’t have space for all the details of your voyage, but as for the Principalities thing, I should be able to get it in the next one, coming out in two days. You guys definitely help sell papers. Of course, we’ll mention the voyage and the run-in with the Emerald Claw in passing.”

“Speaking of that,” Gareth says meditatively, “Could you put a message to the lich in the paper?”

Korm looks over. “A message? What did you have in mind?”

The paladin grins. “I just thought we should try and seriously piss her off. She’s probably already mad enough, but if we really get her upset, she may lose her head and attack us and give us the chance to deal with her once and for all.”

Flim looks curiously at him and says, “Hmm – we don’t normally just put messages in, but I could probably get it in a sidebar, as we use for the advertisements we get. And no, of course you don’t have to pay for it. What did you have in mind?”

“Give us a few moments.” The Angels talk amongst themselves for a few minutes, the discussion interspersed with bursts of laughter, and finally Gareth turns to the gnome. “All right, here goes – Dear Emrena: We’re sorry … oops, I mean really not sorry about killing your stupid boyfriend. Appreciate the magic items. Will you visit us and fill out our survey? And, by the way, red is out. Tacky, tacky, tacky!”

Flim notes it all down and then says what Evetius was thinking. “You guys are insane!”

Luna snorts. “You just got that? Anyway, tell me something – you’re an investigative reporter, right? Can’t you find out who the idiots impersonating us are?”

The gnome looks a little surprised and then laughs. “Well, I’m mostly just a reporter. Not so much on the investigation. And I’m here and the attacks happened a few thousand miles away, remember?”

“Phhfftt! A real reporter wouldn’t let that stop him!”

Flim sighs. “I’ll do what I can. Do any of you have an idea who might have done it?”

Even as the others are shaking their heads, Korm and Nameless both speak up at the same time. “I just remembered….” And then they fall silent simultaneously.

“What? WHAT?!” Luna looks back and forth between them, looks at Flim, and snaps, “Oh, come on! Flim knows about as much about our lives as anyone else in the world. Now come on – what did you two remember?”

Nameless inclines his head, indicating the Gatekeeper should speak, and Korm does so slowly, a slightly worried expression on his face. “I just remembered the last time we saw someone who looked like one of us. Or rather, me. Remember when Mordain left us, just before Nameless brought us back, and we glimpsed someone looking just like me outside in the hallway as the door was closing?”

“Oh … yeah, right! You think it’s a clone of us flying around? Or clones?”

“Now, now,” Nameless corrects. “Remember, I just theorized that Mordain may have cloned us.”

Flim has been looking back and forth, and he finally asks, “Mordain? Who’s Mordain?”

Luna smiles happily. “Mordain the Fleshweaver. We went to him to ask about Name….” She pauses as four people cough sharply, gives them a look, and continues more or less smoothly, “To ask about some stuff and he did some totally brilliant augmentations for us.”

A blank page smoothly appears in front of Flim. “Tell me more.”

“Is this really a good idea?” asks Gareth.

“Hey, Mordain told us not to visit for a while, but he didn’t say to not mention him. And he’s such a nice guy too.” Luna then turns to Flim and proceeds to relate where Mordain stays, who he is, and that he provided the group with all sorts of magical augmentations, though she doesn’t mention the details.

The reporter notes it all down, mentioning that while he probably won’t use any of it for some time, it may make a good future article on their adventures once the Chronicle completes the story of their adventures with the Shard. When Luna is done, he finally takes his leave, wishing the group the best of luck regarding the situation with Prince Ryger, promising again to do what he can with both getting their story out and finding out about the attack.

“All right,” says Gareth, once Flim leaves. “I’m off to Lalia. Don’t wait up for me.” Nameless too departs to speak with Trillia.

* * * * *
The next day, travelers along the House Orien trade road linking Korth to Karrlakton are surprised to see a group of five riders mounted on a collection of stags and steeds with smoky insubstantial hooves. The Angels’ phantom stags and steeds race along at well over twenty miles an hour, leaving everything they pass, whether they be Orien coaches and caravans or riders on the swiftest of Vadalis mounts, in their wake.

It is early evening when the Angels reach Karrlakton, birthplace of kings (both Karrn the Conqueror and Galifar I) and the second greatest city in Karrnath. Even more so than Korth, however, the city has a tinge of darkness and despair hanging over it that is palpable from a distance. The reason is easy to see. Across the Cyre River, whose northern bank Karrlakton’s fortress walls stand on, rises the wall of dead-grey mist, like a burial shroud thousands of miles long hanging over the corpse of what was once the Jewel of Galifar, and is now simply the Mournland. The two druids, who have never seen the Mournland before, gaze at it with morbid curiosity until Gareth turns his stag and rides around to the north of the city and Karrlakton’s bulk hides the remains of Cyre from their sight. As they pass, the paladin points out the gigantic tower that looms over the rest of Karrlakton. “That’s Sentinel Tower – the home of House Deneith. It’s where the central operations of the Defenders Guild and the Sentinel Marshals are.”

Gareth’s home is one among a number of small estates immediately to the north of the city, not far from the Orien trade road leading northeast to the city of Vedykar. It is flanked on one side by an artificial lake, and on the other by a much larger estate which has evidently fallen into serious disrepair. “Family lost everything in the War,” the paladin says succinctly, as they pass the buildings and half-fallen walls overgrown with moss and weeds, before stopping to gaze at the home that he has not been to in nearly a year. He takes a deep breath and says, “Come on!”

The Angels are met at the estate’s gates by an old guard, who peers at Gareth in surprise, and then turns and starts ringing a large bell frantically. As a couple of servants pop out of doors in the main building, he shouts, “Master Gareth is home! Tell the lady!” And then turns to hurriedly open the gates and invite the travelers in.

Well, there goes the surprise! thinks Gareth wryly, before greeting his old servant. By the time he has managed to persuade the aged man that he is fine, more people are emerging from the building, and when the Angels ride up and dismount, a small group awaits them.

At its head is a tall and attractive middle-aged woman with a head of auburn hair that is beginning to gray around the edges, followed a few steps behind by a shorter and much older lady. As Gareth hurries up, the surprised look on the taller woman’s face threatens to crumple into tears, but she masters herself and simply hugs him. The older lady simply stares at him with a stony look on her sharp features, and when he goes to hug her, she swiftly cuffs him on the head. “You haven’t written in nearly a month!” she snaps.

“Yup,” says Luna. “That’s family all right!”

Gareth simply grins and bends to hug the older lady too, before gesturing his friends closer. “May I introduce you to the ladies of the house? This is my mother Elaine and my grandmother, Leanna.” As he proceeds to identify the Angels, his mother quickly welcomes them in, while the lady Leanna studies them with a critical expression.

As they walk in, Elaine says to her son, but making sure to include the others, “This is such a surprise! We read in the Korranberg Chronicle that you were escorting Princess Haydith so I was hoping to hear from you when you got to Karrnath, but not that you’d arrive here unannounced.”

“Which is why,” says Gareth with a happy grin. “I wanted to surprise you two.”

“You’ve lost weight,” comments his grandmother succinctly, striding along beside them with a posture that somehow reminds the Angels of Archierophant Ythana Morr.

“That reminds me,” interrupts Korm. He stops and reaches into his magical haversack to produce a large package. “I brought you a cake.”

“Luckily,” says Luna cheerily, “I brought neutralize poison.”

With no sign of hearing the comment, Elaine says, “Oh, thank you! That reminds me – you’re just in time for supper. Let me just go check on things.” She walks off, staggering slightly under the weight of Korm’s cake.

Leanna leads the group into a comfortable sitting room-cum-verandah that opens onto the gardens of the estate and orders some drinks for them. Then she seats herself and promptly begins to interrogate Gareth about his recent activities, adding a few corroborating questions for the others. While it’s likely from the old lady’s sparkling eyes that she is happy to see her grandson back, nothing else about her expression or demeanor reveals it. Elaine joins them a few minutes later, her eyes looking suspiciously as if she had stopped to cry along the way. Or maybe, as Luna not-so-quietly comments, she just got close to the cake.

Besides picking on Korm, Luna also quickly ingratiates herself with both mother and grandmother by proceeding to tell them all about what Gareth has been up to, dwelling with especially loving detail on his relationship with Lalia but not failing to mention that she thinks he’s been leading on princess Haydith too. The others quickly join in, causing Gareth to go from indignant self-defense to embarrassment to taking recourse in the drinks, which naturally leads to his grandmother pointing out that he drinks a lot more than when he left home.

Supper is soon served and the conversations continue, with the Angels finding themselves enjoying a truly domestic scene as a group for the first time that they can remember. Elaine is a perfect hostess, and once they manage to penetrate Leanna’s hard-boiled exterior, they find that the old lady is quite pleasant company, with a huge fund of interesting stories and, surprisingly, a wry sense of humor.

After the meal, Six suggests that the Angels could stay in Karrlakton to save Gareth’s family the bother, but is immediately overruled by Elaine, who points out that there are many rooms that see no use now that it’s just her mother-in-law and her at home, and there’s no way she’s letting any of Gareth’s friends stay elsewhere. When she excuses herself to take care of the accommodations, Luna invites herself along, claiming that she needs to talk to Elaine woman-to-woman about décor, since she is forced to live in a house with four men who have no idea what the word means.

By the time they finally turn in for the night, the Angels are informed that they will be staying with Gareth’s family as long as they are in Karrnath. And given glasses of hot milk, since they are evidently all growing adventurers and need to take proper care of themselves.

* * * * *
Over breakfast the next day, the Angels check the Chronicle and find the article from Flim, titled “Angels Framed in Regalport Attack,” which announces exactly what they had wanted him to mention. It adds only that the KC has not yet been able to contact Prince Ryger for a response, but does have a statement from Evetius Balich saying that he has spoken to the Guardian Angels, is “reasonably convinced of their innocence,” and has sent a message to the Prince with that information.

“So, should we go there now and try talking to this Ryger fellow?” asks Luna.

“Not yet, I think,” replies Gareth. “Give him a little time to get all the information, and frankly, I’d rather wait for an invitation. Anyway, here’s a bit more.” He points out a sidebar near the article containing the Angels’ message to the lich, which evokes great merriment in its creators. Unsurprisingly, neither Elaine nor Leanna are equally amused, but are slightly mollified y Gareth’s promise to be careful, and more so by the others’ promise to look after him.

After breakfast, the Angels excuse themselves for a bit, Nameless teleporting them back to Korth for the meeting with Moranna. As before, the Regent gets straight to the point. “As some of you may know, certain members of the Emerald Claw are worshippers of the Blood of Vol. We have located a particular Emerald Claw cell that exists under the guise of being a temple of the Blood. I would like you to eliminate it.” She glances around the group silently and then adds, “In view of what I’ve heard and read of your abilities, am I correct in assuming that subterfuge is not your forte?”

“Absolutely correct!”

“Understood. In that case, simply entering the temple and destroying the cultists within will do.”

“Where is this temple located?” asks Nameless. “I presume you can provide enough detailed information for me to be able to transport us safely there.”

“Yes. I have had a spy infiltrate the organization, who has been able to provide the description of the single room in the temple that one can use teleportation magic in and out of, though it’s very rarely utilized. The rest of the temple is warded against such magic. And the temple is located in Atur.”

“The City of Night,” Gareth explains, seeing the blank expressions on some of his friends’ faces. “Northeast of here. It’s the location of the Crimson Monastery, the largest temple of the Blood of Vol in the world. That’s the primary faith in the city.”

“Yes,” says Moranna, her tone expressing mild distaste. “This particular temple is comparatively much smaller, on the outskirts of Atur, attracting those living too far from the Monastery. It is, however, in enough of a populated area that sending in a number of guardsmen to wipe out the place would draw a lot of unwelcome attention – not to mention require substantial resources. For people of your skills, it should be substantially easier. If you enter it during the daytime, especially early in the day, it should be relatively devoid of worshippers, with only the cultists present.”

“Is there any more information you can give us?” asks Nameless.

“Yes. The temple is actually used as a laboratory for necromantic experiments by the Emerald Claw, which means you can expect to run into multiple forms of intelligent undead. While slaying any and all cultists, and especially any undead, that you encounter should be a goal, your primary aims should be twofold. Slay the high priestess of the temple, a woman called Theda. Yes, the same as the ambassador. And secondly, find the main laboratory and destroy anything you find there. My spy – who will be well away when you arrive, so you need not fear slaying him by mistake – also mentioned that the temple is under a permanent desecrate effect.”

“So undead there will be somewhat stronger,” says Nameless.

“Yes. Is that – or anything else – a problem?”

“Not for me,” says Gareth, looking around for his companions’ opinions. Luna, who has been slouched silently in her chair, speaks up, “So what are we getting for this?”

Moranna eyes the druid for a long moment and then says, “Presumably you should be able to recover a significant amount of wealth from the temple, not just in coin but in magical equipment.”

“Yeah, yeah – but we’re still doing you a favor, right? You should be paying us!”

Moranna’s tone grows significantly colder, but she nods. “Very well. I shall see what I can add to the reward you will already be getting from the King.”

“Excellent. In that case – I’m in.”

The Regent turns to Nameless and hands him a sheet of paper. “That should be an accurate enough description for you. I suggest making your attack early tomorrow morning. Make it fast and once you have dispatched the high priestess and destroyed the laboratory, leave immediately.”

“Understood.”

Moranna rises and says, “If you do this successfully, you shall find the throne of Karrnath even more well-disposed towards you than it already is.” Then she turns and leaves.

“All right,” says Luna, sitting up and cracking her knuckles. “Let’s go, Nameless. Chop chop. I’ve got something important to do.” She grins broadly in anticipation.

“What’s the hurry?” asks the alienist. “You’re looking too happy. Who are you planning to kill?”

The shifter snorts dismissively. “Kill-schmill! I’m going shopping with Elaine. She said she’s got this wonderful curtain-maker I need to meet. Don’t worry – I’m getting some for all your rooms. And I’ll make sure yours are purple.”

Nameless objects, “I don’t think purple will match the rakshasa rugs,” even as he begins the motions of his spell.

“Arguments about décor!” Korm says with a sad head-shake to Six. “I knew I’d regret this trip!”
 
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Vorput

First Post
shilsen said:
Moranna rises and says, “If you do this successfully, you shall find the throne of Karrnath even more well-disposed towards you than it already is.” Then she turns and leaves.

I've got a bad feeling about this...
 

Rackhir

Explorer
Vorput said:
I've got a bad feeling about this...

Oh that's no problem. It's this that's keeping me up at night.

Luna said:
The shifter snorts dismissively. “Kill-schmill! I’m going shopping with Elaine. She said she’s got this wonderful curtain-maker I need to meet. Don’t worry – I’m getting some for all your rooms. And I’ll make sure yours are purple.”
 


shilsen

Adventurer
The room sits empty and silent, its walls and ceiling bare, only the floor boasting a decoration – the red drop of blood overlaid with a skeletal-seeming mask which symbolizes the Blood of Vol. And then suddenly there are five figures in the chamber, as it prepares to enter the Guardian Angels’ long list of “been there, done that, wrecked the joint.”

“Damn, Luna!” growls Korm, pressed as he is against a wall by the huge bulk of his druid ally in her favorite bear form. “Move over!”

Luna gestures rudely and replies, her voice sounding a little shrill as it does with the embedded magical tongue, “Not my fault if these idiots can’t build good-sized rooms.” She cranes her neck, trying to see behind her. “Anyone see an exit?”

Korm opens his mouth to retort and then frowns, feeling the tell-tale tingle of a magical effect, followed instantly by a spell to increase his speed winking out. “Look out! Someone’s using dispels on us!”

Nameless, already scanning the area with his glowing blue gaze, shakes his head. “Not someone. There are a few magical auras here and I’m fairly sure one is an unhallow linked to a dispel, presumably set to affect non-worshippers of the Blood of Vol. There’s also the permanent desecrate Moranna mentioned.” He looks down at the ring on his hand, which flashed a moment ago as it counterspelled the dispel. “Anyone lose any important protections?”

The answers are negative, and while Nameless re-arms his ring and Korm recasts his spell, Six carefully examines the red marble door that leads out of the room. After ascertaining that it is safe to use, and unlocked, he opens it carefully and steps out.

An empty corridor leads away from the room, turning to the left some forty feet away, lit by a lonely torch in a wall sconce. As the others emerge, Six points out that it’s actually not a magical torch. “Been a while since I saw a place lit by one of those. Very old-school.” Then he adds darkly, “Maybe we’ll find out it really is just a Blood of Vol temple, and not an Emerald Claw cell.”

“You really are paranoid, Six,” replies Gareth. “I doubt Moranna’s information network would make such an error.”

Six restrains himself from pointing out that he wasn’t implying that there was any error in the decision to send them here, only that what they were told might not all be the truth. Instead, he says, “Wait. I’ll check ahead.” Before leaving, he concentrates, using his magical hat to appear as a large human wearing traditional Karrnathi clothing. Then he walks down the corridor soundlessly and disappears around the corner.

The others wait, Luna grumbling that she’s having to hold her breath constantly to squeeze her way through the corridors, the others diplomatically failing to comment that said hallways are wide enough for two of them to fight comfortably side by side within. “You know,” says Nameless after a few seconds, “A little disguising isn’t a bad idea.” He concentrates and takes on the appearance of a warforged. “If we run into vampires, they might not try going after a warforged, since they can’t be drained the way humans can.” Korm nods, “Good idea,” and follows suit.

When Six returns a couple of minutes later, he doesn’t bother asking why two of them now look like warforged, but simply explains that he heard four people coming this way, and their conversation indicated that they were guards on a routine patrol, not answering any alarm.

“Ooh – let’s go fry them!”

Nameless sighs. “Let’s hold off on the explosions for the moment. I’m sure we’ll be detected soon, but a little subtlety wouldn’t hurt.”

“Gah! You’re no fun! Fine, fine, we’ll do it your way – for now.”

The Angels station themselves around a corner, and when the guards reach it, Six and Gareth step out and almost literally scare them out of their skins. Spiked chain and sword make short work of three immediately. Nameless, deciding to have a little fun of his own, actually jumps forth between the warriors and strikes – but without a spell. As the remaining guard opens his mouth to scream an alarm, the alienist’s tentacle slams into his forehead with a sickening crunch and he collapses. Nameless grins in pleasure.

“Well, that is definitely a first!”

Still grumbling as she squeezes around the corner, Luna eyes Korm as he leans over a barely living guard and channels a little healing energy into him, staving off death from blood loss. “What? You want us to be interrogating them now?”

“Nope,” says Korm, picking up the still unconscious man without effort and slinging him over his shoulder. “New weapon!”

“Say what?!”

“I once read a story about a Gatekeeper berserker who ripped off a mind flayer’s arm and bludgeoned it to death with the arm. This isn’t quite the same, but what could be cooler than beating the Emerald Claw with one of their own?”

“And you guys say I’m crazy?!”

While they search the corpses, Six again moves off down the corridor, returning shortly to say that this time three people are coming this way, and they are speaking of having heard something. After a quick discussion, the Angels decide that they should just replicate their tactics from the preceding battle/massacre.

This time, when they step around the corner, the Angels find themselves facing three startled men, all three hearing tabards displaying the symbol of the Blood of Vol. As the two in the lead grab at their holy symbols, Six’s chain spins around one’s ankle and drops him flat on the floor. The warforged steps back and away, allowing Gareth to step in and lay open the other’s side.

If the swift attacks stagger the priests, what truly shocks them – literally out of their lives – is Korm’s maneuver. The grinning Gatekeeper steps forward, swinging the man he has been carrying over his shoulder, like a giant and unwieldy greatclub. His skull smashes into the still upright priest’s with a shattering crunch, killing him instantly. Korm pivots, raising his improvised (and now very dead) weapon over his head and brings it down on the prone man, crushing his skull too.*

The remaining man, who was walking a little behind the others, blanches at the sight and shouts, “Ware! The Silver Flame is attacking!” And then he makes a fatal error. Instead of simply fleeing, he casts and sends a ray of searing light shooting harmlessly by Korm’s head. By the time he turns to run, the Angels are rushing forward, Korm actually catching up and leaping past to block his retreat, grinning and swinging his makeshift weapon from side to side.

Desperate, the priest shouts, “For the Blood of Vol!” and throws himself at Korm, the telltale dark nimbus of a vampiric touch appearing around his hand. Korm simply catches the wrist in mid-air and then bludgeons the unfortunate man into unconsciousness. Then, dropping his former weapon, he picks the priest up and begins to tie a splint to his arm.

“What the hell are you doing now, you sicko?” Luna growls, as she shoves her way through the corridor after him.

“If I find another one I can poke him with this spell,” laughs Korm, drawing groans or chuckles from the others. He then picks up the unconscious figure, holding the spell-loaded hand ahead of him, and hurries down the corridor.

Unfortunately for the Gatekeeper’s macabre plan, by the time the spell ends he has still not found a target, partly because the Angels stop to check the doors and rooms they pass, finding the first couple empty though they can hear shouts and retreating feet ahead. While they are doing so, another set of five enemies, these clearly on the alert and seeking the invaders, comes upon the Angels. And, ten seconds later, have quickly departed this life, except for the priest who led them, whom Korm picks up to replace his broken ‘weapon.’

As the Angels finish checking the next room, a long-disused dormitory or guard barracks, a door further down the corridor opens and a head pokes out. The man’s eyes go wide as he spots them and the door slams. Korm promptly bellows in pleased anticipation and rushes to the door. The sound of bolts slamming home as he comes makes the Gatekeeper smile. “Aw – that’s so sweet! And useless!” A swift kick smashes the door open, to reveal a dining hall. The man who had stuck his head out is running past the three tables in the room, heading for a pair of doors in the wall to the right.

Korm takes careful aim and hurls his burden with an overhand motion. The unfortunate priest flies through the air and takes the running man off his feet, and the two hit the ground in a tangled heap. Walking over, Korm checks, and clarifies to the others as they enter, “He’s out. But I think I killed my weapon again.” He looks down at the poor clothing worn by the unconscious man and says, “I think he was a servant or something.”

As he is speaking, the further door opens and a scared looking woman peers out. She screams, reflexively raises her spatula in defense, and then tries to slam the door. “Hold it!” Nameless snaps, stopping her in mid-flight. “If you cook something good for us, we’ll let you live.”

The cook doesn’t hesitate, throwing herself to her knees and babbling that she’ll cook anything and begging to be spared. “Not a bad idea,” says Korm. “Killing Emerald Claw and having a hot meal waiting would be great.” Turning to the cook, he asks, “Can you make a meat curry? Marcher style.”

The cook continues to gabble words as fast as she can, promising to learn how to cook it even if she doesn’t know how to, causing Luna to growl, “Stop scaring the help, Korm. And I’m not eating anything that suits your taste. Or Nameless’! Let’s go kill some more Emerald Claw. I’m not getting to do anything!” Six, standing near her and watching the corridor, mutters, “If they’re Emerald Claw. I’ve seen no proof yet.”

The discussion is cut off as Gareth strides swiftly over to the woman, commanding the Endless Blade to disappear back into his magical hand. And then knocks her out with one swift punch.

For a moment there is silence, and then Nameless turns to the others and lifts an eyebrow. “Does anyone else have any questions, or should I go first?”

Luna, after gaping for a moment, growls, “What the F*CK?!”

“We can’t trust her to not give the alarm,” explains Gareth.

“Alarm? What part of people shouting and running doesn’t say alarm to you?” asks Korm. “Seriously, you’re nuts! Or you just like punching defenseless women.”

Gareth scowls. “You just bludgeoned a man to death with an unconscious man. I wouldn’t go pointing fingers.”

Six simply shakes his head and proceeds along the corridor, followed by Luna. By the time the others check out the unfortunate cook’s quarters and Korm collects some ingredients from the well-stocked larder, the two find a corridor leading to what is presumably the main hallway and the exit to the temple. Of more immediate interest, however, is a nearby stone door of the same red marble they saw in the teleport chamber. The door is locked, but when all the Angels arrive, Korm hefts the ‘universal key,’ aka his meteoric blade, and chops the stone door apart in a few blows.

Beyond lies a shadowy chamber, dimly lit by a brazier in the center. Beside it stands what seems to be a sarcophagus, but the Angels’ attention is drawn instead to a bulky figure that shambles forward from the far corner. As the brazier illuminates its blockish form and the funereal wrappings that cover it, a wave of supernatural fear flows over the Angels – with absolutely no effect. Korm simply grins, “Hey, Gareth – it’s your mummy!” The paladin grunts his disapproval and steps forward, the Endless Blade upraised, but Nameless flies forward over him, three scorching rays leaping from his hand.

All three strike and there is a flash as the desiccated wrappings ignite. A second later, the mummy drops in a smoking ruin. A large black pearl, previously set into its forehead, hits the ground and rolls away. “Ooh – shiny!” says Luna, pushing her way into the chamber and putting a paw down on the pearl. “Aah! It’s good to be in a decent-sized room.” Then she stops, sniffs carefully at the sarcophagus and says, “Eww! Look at this!”

“What?” Six walks over to study it, and discovers that it is actually an altar carved to seem like a sarcophagus. The top of the altar has shallow grooves along the sides, marked with dried blood, which drain down to small stone supports which presumably hold receptacles at the time of a sacrifice. The warforged studies them and then looks at Luna curiously. “You just saw us kill a number of people. Why does this bother you?”

“Hey, I may fight someone and kill him – or flame strike him – but I don’t sacrifice helpless people who can’t put up a fight, okay?” She glares at Korm. “Which is why what you were doing with the unconscious guys was sick! Hey, Gareth – shouldn’t you be the one telling him that? Being all paladinly and all that?”

Gareth, also examining the altar, shakes his head. “I’ve given up on you guys. But I need to destroy this.”

While Gareth proceeds to do so, Luna settles for moving around the chamber ripping down the tapestries which hang on its walls, muttering, “Bedroom. Dining room. Um … no, too much undead and sacrifices. Ah, kitchen…” At her request, Six follows, collecting the hangings she does want, but then he comes to a stop, before examining a particular wall. “Hey – there’s a door here.”

Gareth looks up from the shattered remnants of the altar and the combination of sacrificial and embalming tools he found within it. “All right. Let’s check it out.”

A few minutes later, the Angels stand at the bottom of a set of steps within a narrow corridor, facing another stone door. “So what kind of protection does it have?” asks Korm. Nameless, concentrating on the door, replies, “A glyph of warding doing … sonic damage.”

“Hey,” says Korm, as a giant grin spreads across his face, “It’s targeted on whoever tries to open the door, right?”

“Yes. Why? Do you want to summon something to do so?”

The edges of Korm’s grin now threaten to meet at the back of his head. He lifts the latest of the unconscious figures he has been carrying. “I already summoned someone.”

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!”

“Nah!” Korm steps forward, lifts the unconscious figure and pokes the door with it. There’s a sharp explosion and the body jerks violently, before going limp. “Good man!” says Korm, before dropping the corpse and pulling out his sword.

With a few blows, the door falls apart, revealing a dark chamber, now illuminated by the lights carried by the Angels. As is the spectral and vaguely luminous figure that shoots forward. A hand tipped with translucent claws slashes at Korm and then bounces off the magical armor of force that covers him. There is a disappointed shriek at the very edge of hearing and the spectre dives down into the floor.

“Everyone prepare an attack for when it ret…,” begins Nameless, but Korm cuts him off with a growl. “Not so fast!” He raises the sword, gigantic muscles bulging as he exerts maximum effort, and brings it down at the stone before him. A chunk of stone simply disintegrates at the tremendous impact, leaving a large hole, out of which sticks the head of the spectre which had just entered the stone.

The Angels add to their impressive resume of unusual sights, becoming some of the very few people in Khorvaire to have seen a spectre with an expression of shocked surprise, a second before two volleys of magic missiles from Nameless hammer it into nothingness.

“Heh! Now that was funny!” With that, Korm moves in to investigate the chamber. It turns out to be a small treasure vault, containing two small chests full of sovereigns and galifars, as well as a small bag containing some garnets and a jeweled mithral comb. “Ooh – I’m taking that!” says Luna (now in shifter form) as soon as Korm produces it, and a second later is wearing it tucked neatly into her hair.

Six opens a third chest within which Nameless detects some magical auras, producing a pair of sleek blue gloves with tiny golden stars across the knuckles, and what looks like a pile of pungent-smelling intestines, one end of which is tied into an intricate knot. The alienist examines the former and sniffs dismissively. “Arcanist’s Gloves. Good for an unskilled caster, but useless for one of my puissance.”

“You have piss-ants?” growls Luna. “No, don’t explain – I’m sure they’re purple too. What’s the weird-looking rope?”

Korm sniffs it carefully and then grins. “Hah! Troll Gut Rope. Haven’t seen one of these in years! It’s a magically treated length of troll intestine, which you can command to grow three hundred feet longer once a day. The length beyond the original fifty feet decays in twelve hours. Just don’t open the knot at the end, since that ends the magic. Interesting fact most people don’t know: it can function as food too in a pinch. It’s not bad with the right spices.”

“You are sh*tting me!” growls Luna. “Eating troll intestines? I swear, I’m never touching anything else you cook – ever!”

Korm snorts dismissively. “You’ve just never had me cook troll. When I cook troll, the…”

“All right,” says Gareth, “Can we discuss Korm’s culinary tastes later and get a move on?” He turns and heads up the stairs, ignoring the comment of “Probably looking for another woman to punch!” which floats up behind him.

Once outside, the Angels look down the corridor at the main hall, where there is still no sign of any enemies. “Anyone besides me think that’s a little suspicious?” asks Six. Three hands and a large paw from the now comb-wearing giant bear go up. “Okay. But let’s check this first.”

The universal key is applied with the usual effects to an iron-bound wooden door near the stone one leading to the room with the sacrifice-altar, and the Angels look into a corridor with what seem to be four cell doors on either side, each of them of wood reinforced with iron, set with a small barred window above a shuttered slot, presumably to pass food and water through to the prisoners. Four of the windows now have wide-eyed faces in them, staring at the smashed door to the area.

One of the faces, a jowly one topped with disheveled and thinning gray hair, speaks up. “Who are you? Are you here to help? Please – please release us!”

Gareth immediately begins to detect evil in the area, his eyes gleaming silver, discovering that one of the faces does detect faintly of evil. He replies, “Yes, we shall release you. We are here fighting the Emerald Claw. Who are you?”

“Emerald Claw? There are Emerald Claw here?” The gray-haired man looks around in confusion.

“See?” says Six gloomily. “We’ve been set up.”

Ignoring him, Gareth continues, “This is a secret Emerald Claw cell. Again, who are you?”

“I am Adalstan. Adalstan Gaebler, a friar of the Sovereign Host. I was kidnapped when I was about to enter Atur, four days ago and…” The friar is cut off as the other prisoners, joined by another two faces that appear at their cell windows, begin to babble their names and ask to be freed.

“Quiet!” shouts Gareth. His pleasure at the instant effect is muted by the discovery that all the prisoners are staring wide-eyed past him at the huge ursine head poked around the doorway. He sighs and says, “Don’t worry – she’s a friend. We shall let you out, but we’re quite sure there are more enemies here, so stay behind us.” Korm moves down the corridor, smashing open the locks, and as the prisoners appear Gareth questions them about their knowledge of the place. It emerges that all of the captives – other than Adalstan, who is a stranger to Atur – are from among the poorest members of the city’s society. Presumably so that they won’t be missed, Adalstan comments, mentioning that there were two other women in the cells, who were taken away and, he believes, sacrificed the day before. Unfortunately, none of them know much about the temple’s layout, having been brought in bound and gagged through the main entrance. Adalstan does mention that the main hall the Angels can see from here has the main entrance to the left and another red marble door to the right, presumably leading to the main shrine, which fits the information Moranna had given the Angels.

As the captives are taking a position in the rear and carefully staying away from Luna’s huge bulk, Six points. “Look – we’ve got company.”

The Angels look down the corridor into the main hall beyond. A corridor leads into the opposite wall, and above it stretches a long and deep stone shelf. Standing on the shelf and gazing back are two figures the size of ogres. Their bodies are muscular but lean, with dried skin stretched tight across their bones and sinews, topped by skeletal heads with deep-set, gleaming red eyes. Their most distinctive features are the long claws the size of shortswords which extend from their disproportionately long fingers. The clicking of the claws is audible even from the corridor within which the Angels stand, as the undead flex their hands in anticipation.

“Boneclaws!” say Nameless and Gareth simultaneously, before the alienist says, “I didn’t know they were found in Karrnath.” The paladin shakes his head. “They aren’t. Or weren’t. They’re supposed to be a very rare breed found only in Droaam, as far as I know. Rumor says the Daughters of Sora Kell make them.”

“Yeah, whatever,” says Luna, as she looks down the corridor. Then she gestures and casts, causing a pillar of especially powerful flame to envelop the boneclaws. A second later, an equally empowered fireball from Nameless follows. Even before the flames disappear, to reveal the scorched but still very erect undead, Korm and Gareth are rushing forward, Six close behind. Korm calls on the strange abilities granted him by Mordain and large leathery wings spring from his flesh, while Gareth is simply propelled by the Endless Blade. Nameless follows more sedately, calling out, “Watch the claws! They reach further than you know.”

The warning is quickly proved relevant, though not from the precise quarter Nameless expected. As Korm and Gareth rush out of the corridor, two more boneclaws, waiting patiently on another shelf above the corridor the Angels emerged from, strike out at the unprepared foes. As their attack, the claws lengthen suddenly, expanding to the length of Six’s chain, slashing into Korm’s and Gareth’s backs.

Korm quickly changes direction, flying up at one of the creatures that struck him, returning the favor with a favor that far surpasses the boneclaws’ ogreish strength. The creatures, however, are resilient, their bodies possessed of an unholy toughness which blends with the skeletal structure to make Korm’s weapon less effective than usual. Gareth, flying up to land on a ledge beside one of the wounded pair on the far side quickly discovers the same, but at a command from him the Endless Blade morphs instantly into a large metal club, perfect from crushing undead bone.

For a few seconds, Korm and Gareth are the target of the undead’s claws, Six having leaped out, landed a blow and returned to cover. But if the boneclaws are unusually resilient, the Gatekeeper and the paladin are even more so, able to absorb significant damage and also warded by multiple spells, magical items, and the protections that the Fleshweaver has stitched into them. A boneclaw finds its claws slide harmlessly right through where it thinks Gareth’s head is, not knowing that he wears a cloak which slightly displaces him from his apparent position. Another’s claws slide harmlessly off Korm’s magically enhanced flesh.

As Gareth and Korm hack and pound away, their allies join in. The two boneclaws before Gareth suddenly leap and shudder as an arc of lightning from Luna links them in a thread of lashing pain. The paladin takes the opportunity and calls on the Silver Flame to strengthen his arm, his transformed weapon smashing through a boneclaw’s warding arm and the brittle skull beneath. Another one, trying to move along the shelf – which the Angels now see runs all around the square hall – to get a better angle to attack Korm, suddenly finds metal links appearing around its leg and pulling powerfully. The boneclaw teeters, grabs uselessly at the stone with claws that are ill-suited for such a task, and falls. As it is doing so, the chain uncoils and strikes, educating the unfortunate creature in the fact that Six’s weapon is enchanted to particularly damage undead.

The battle ends seconds later, the only really interesting moment in it occurring when the red marble door nearby opens. Two slim figures wearing form-fitting black clothes appear, their pallid appearance and large canines clearly marking their nature. After one quick glance at the battle outside, they leap back inside and the door slams.

With the boneclaws dispatched, Six points to the door and says succinctly, “Vampires!” Luna, not having seen them, growls, “Where? I hate vampires! The bastards always dodge my best spells!” Six indicates the door. “Guess we’ll have to go in after them.”

“First,” points out Gareth, “Let’s get the civilians out of here.” He motions the released prisoners forward and says, “When you get outside, run like hell.” Worried nods are his only answer.

“Let me check first,” says Six. “Wouldn’t be a good idea to send them out and find half a dozen guards outside.” The warforged walks to the large double doors, decorated with the symbol of the Blood of Vol, at the end of a short passageway across from the marble door, and opens them.

Beyond lies a small compound, part of it occupied by a small garden, with a low stone wall separating it from the city beyond. From what Six can see of it, he assumes the temple is towards the outskirts of the city, since the buildings grow larger and closer further in. Six also notes that there is something dark and oppressive about the atmosphere and he remembers Gareth mentioned that Atur is called the City of Night. But he does not have time to dwell on the issue. Half-hiding in the shadows of the gate are two men, who turn and run into the city as soon as he appears.

“It’s clear,” says Six. “Go.” The prisoners hurry away, only Adalstan pausing to say, “The Sovereign Host watch over you!” Then Six shuts the doors and returns.

“All right. Let’s go hunt some vampires.”


* Yes, Korm beat an enemy to death with another guy and then cleaved into the next one. Even with the -4 he took because he didn’t have Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Emerald Claw). These are the rules interpretations they pay me the big bucks for.
 
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shilsen

Adventurer
Six listens at the red marble door. “I hear movement. People wearing heavy armor.”

“So not the vampires then,” says Nameless, “Though I’m sure they’re in there too. All right – let’s do this.” The Angels cast a few preparatory spells and then Six kicks the door open.

The chamber beyond is clearly a shrine, square in shape, with a seating area in each corner, consisting of stone benches for the worshippers on four stone steps. The seating areas leave a free section of floor from a door in each of the four walls, leading to a raised section in the center which supports a carved plinth, presumably used by whoever leads the services. Standing in wait before the podium are three men, sword and shield at the ready, torchlight reflecting ruddily off the Blood of Vol symbols engraved on the breastplates of their heavy armor.

Or what were once men, as the Angels see in the faces they raise slightly as the door opens. Mottled flesh is drawn tight against the bone of their faces, drawing back their lips to reveal carnivorous teeth. Pale gray eyes rimmed in red gaze forth hungrily from deep-set sockets. In unison, the three ghoul knights raise their blades and charge. The two vampires, clinging spider-like midway up the far wall of the chamber, coincidentally next to a picture of a vampire venerating the hooded figure of Vol, Queen of the Undead, bare their own fangs and scuttle quickly over the walls as swiftly as if they had been on the ground.

[NOTE: Coincidentally, Wayne Reynolds was nice enough to draw a picture for this fight here.]

Swift as they are, Six is quicker, diving through the doorway even before Nameless’ warning shout, “There’s another unhallow in there!” The warforged feels the attached dispel wash over him, but his protective spells remain in effect. Not that it matters, since Six has no intention of relying only on them. He changes direction, leaping up onto the second row of benches with a single bound.

The ghouls ignore him, knowing that he is beyond their reach, thundering forward at the others silhouetted in the doorway. But they are not beyond his, and Six’s chain snakes out, lashing around one’s ankle and sending him stumbling to the ground in a clash of armor. The ghoul doesn’t grunt or groan, simply rolling over and beginning to rise. Six promptly launches another blow, which smashes into its helm with the accompanying sound of cracking bone beneath, but the undead continues to rise. A second later, Six staggers, as two slim throwing daggers sink deep into the fibrous tissues that connect his head to his body, courtesy the two vampires.

Its two companions do not pause either, but each shouts “Vol!” as they charge into Korm and Gareth. Whether impelled by divine devotion, unholy power or both, the swords descend with tremendous force, bruising bone and rending flesh. The Gatekeeeper strikes back with a horizontal slash, but his target deflects it with his shield. Seeing the ghoul temporarily occupied, Gareth brings the Endless Blade down at its open right side. But as the sword descends, so does the second ghoul’s shield, edge-first on the paladin’s wrist. The blow goes awry, only the fact that Gareth’s wrist is as metal as his hand saving him from being crippled.

There is a brief flurry of blows in the doorway, Korm and Gareth slowly gaining the upper hand, though the ghouls are extremely resilient. One strikes Gareth, and as it hits, a nimbus of dark energy shoots up its blade, healing some of its wounds. The other attempts to smash Korm’s knee, a partial parry leaving the Gatekeeper with a rapidly purpling shin instead. Six, meanwhile, is kept busy by the two vampires and the third ghoul. One of the vampires hurls a fiery bolt that a previously cast protective spell blocks, but the other disappears in a cloud of smoke which flows swiftly along the wall and reforms behind the warforged, and slashing into his side. Six’s attempt to again trip the ghoul almost pulls him from his position, as the now prepared knight seizes the chain and hauls back on it.

However, the greater skills of the Angels begin to assert themselves, especially with Nameless and Luna hurling spells from behind Korm and Gareth, and the ghouls slowly disengage and fall back towards the center of the chamber, presumably hoping to inveigle their enemies into following.

Which turns out to be a significant tactical error. Luna promptly says, “Perfect!” and begins to cast a firestorm. Nameless yells, “Six – get out of there! Now!” As the warforged leaps down and out of the door, the alienist conjures a giant mass of sticky webs, the strands pinning the relatively slow ghouls in place, and preventing even the agile vampires from moving away quickly. Seconds later, the entire chamber is shot through with sheets of flame as Luna’s spell erupts around the undead.

When the flames clear, only one of the knights is still on his feet, and he quickly goes down beneath a storm of slashing blades and chains. The sole remaining vampire, clinging to a wall near the ceiling and watching the remnants of its companion seep beneath one of the closed doors, hurriedly calculates that it will be unable to follow in time. Instead, it changes to a gaseous cloud, which promptly disappears.

“Hey! Where’d that bastard go?” says Luna, glaring around, before her gaze falls on Nameless. “Why are you grinning?”

“Because he just used some sort of teleportation effect.”

“And…”

“I cast a little spell called anticipate teleportation today. The greater version, in fact. Which does a few things to people who try that near me.” Nameless walks over to a certain point and looks over to Six, Gareth and Korm. “Oh, boys!”

Ten seconds later, the unfortunate vampire appears, only to find himself in the center of a circling of waiting Angels. After he is swiftly returned – this time unintentionally – to a gaseous state, Luna adds insult to injury (at Nameless’ suggestion) by seizing a large tapestry in her paws and fanning the cloud out of the door leading from the main hall into the sunlight outside. The giant bear stuffs the tapestry under the door to block off ingress and growls, “Okay – let’s check the rest of this place out!”

* * * * *
Ten minutes later, the Angels stand in front of another of the red marble doors that seem to mark important locations in the temple. Four armored bodies lie around them, these all human, displaying the unfortunate results of having met – and attacked – the Angels.

Korm looks down at his forearm, bleeding from a deep slash that one of the Blood of Vol warriors inflicted before being decapitated. As he watches, the blood begins to thicken and coagulate at unusual speed, while tiny tendrils of flesh extend over the wound till they form a light webbing, which quickly extends itself till the only sign of the wound is a pale scar. The Gatekeeper grunts in satisfaction, knowing that the scar too will soon take on the gray-brown color of his skin. “Mordain really did some amazing work on us.”

“I know,” says Nameless. “We’ll have to go back and talk to him sometime.” He hesitates for a moment, feeling a compulsion at the words that he knows is a result of the geas he has detected as existing on all of them. “Not yet, of course.” Somehow, even though he knows of the spell’s existence, as well as of a modify memory, he can’t help but feel a surge of appreciation for the Fleshweaver, despite telling himself that he should be suspicious of precisely what it is that Mordain did to their minds.

“Keep it down, you two,” says Six, listening at the door. “I don’t hear anything. And it’s locked.” He straightens up and moves to the side, gesturing to Korm, who steps forward and smashes the door apart in a few seconds.

The Angels promptly rush in, to find themselves into a somewhat spartan living room, with closed doors leading out to left and right. There is no sign of life, but those among them with keener hearing detect the sounds of a voice behind the door to the right. The voice is clearly feminine, and just as clearly in the process of casting a spell.

“That way!” The wooden door flies apart under Korm’s attack. The huge and brightly lit chamber beyond looks like a laboratory, its walls lined with varying forms of alchemical and necromantic equipment, with multiple tables and biers lined up near them, a few of which clearly bear corpses to be worked on. A faint dripping sound suffuses the room, as a mixture of blood and alchemical fluid leaks into the channels carved in the floor to carry the ruddy streams to catch basins at the room’s edges. Not that the Angels have much time to notice such things.

Their attention is focused on the center of the chamber, which holds a huge circular depression full of bones to a height only a couple of inches below floor level. Standing on the opposite side of the pit is a short and thin middle-aged woman, wearing a breastplate that seems a little large for her. In one raised hand is a battered looking tome, with what seems to be a desiccated claw-like hand nailed to its surface, and the other clutches the symbol of the Blood of Vol that hangs around her throat. Such a symbol is also visible around the throats of the two men who stand between her and the Angels, some ten feet closer and one on either side of the pit. These two, wearing heavy plate armor and seeming much more martial than the woman, also clutch at their holy symbols.

There is a second’s silence after the thunderous sound of the door being knocked in, and then Theda Henkas, high priestess of the temple, raises an empty palm and shouts, “Wait! Who a…”

She never finishes the sentence. “No! She’s trying to confuse our minds with words!” growls Luna in a comment which later causes much merriment for the Angels, but now is the signal for mayhem.

Nameless, whose enhanced vision has already noted the plethora of magical auras in the room, on Theda and her allies, and interestingly enough, in the pit of bones, is the swiftest, shouting, “There’s another unhallow! Make them come to us!” even as he casts a greater dispelling. To his disappointment, the unhallow remains unaffected, but auras wink out on Theda and on the other priests.

As his spell hits, Theda cries out, “Ghulam! Come forth and slay the desecrators!” And there is an answer from the pit. Bones shower up and outwards, fountaining out of the pit in a macabre waterfall, and for a moment the Angels – even Nameless, who detected multiple magical auras in the pit and sees them rising – assume it is some sort of explosion. But then, as the bones fall, they reveal what lay beneath. The bandages that swathe its form mark it clearly as a mummy, but it stands twelve feet tall and proportionately thick, giant arms ending in clenched fists larger than a human head. Strangely, a large number of the bones stick to its already bulky form, and as it takes a ponderous step out of the pit, they actually slide and reshape themselves till they form a rough equivalent of a suit of armor.

Unique though its appearance is, the undead called Ghulam has one trait that all mummies share, waves of supernatural terror washing over the Angels at sight of it, far deeper and stronger than from the first mummy they saw here. Any normal human being would be instantly paralyzed, and even the Angels – other than Gareth, protected from it by the grace of the Silver Flame – momentarily feel the cold chill of fear tightening their muscles and sapping their strength. And, a second later, they throw it off.*

Theda gasps in shock as her enemies remain unaffected, and she hurriedly begins a recitation of a prayer to Vol, imbuing herself and her allies with divine favor. Her two priestly guardians do so as well, advancing slowly. The Angels hold their position as Nameless suggested, also casting various protective spells, even Six activating a wand to haste his allies. Luna, of course, takes a more active approach, bringing down a flame strike on the mummy. Ghulam doesn’t even bother to dodge as the column of fire envelops him, but Theda has constructed him with special protections, and much of the fiery damage is negated, though he is still left smoking.

“Focus on her!” Nameless summons a number of giant pseudonatural snakes around Theda, but as their coils appear around her, the unhallow does its work and the linked dispel returns them whence they came.

As Nameless curses, the mummy steps forward and slams its arm down. Korm lifts his sword in defense, deflecting the blow slightly, but its power beats the flat of the blade down on his head. Dazed at the impact, the Gatekeeper staggers and drops to a knee, and Ghulam grabs Korm’s head, giant fingers squeezing with a force that would crush a lesser orc’s skull. Gareth quickly steps forward, lifting the Endless Blade in preparation of a blow at the exposed arm – and then staggers sideways as a ray of dark energy hits him. As Ghulam strikes, Theda lifts her book and casts a spell. As she completes the words, a dark radiance seeps from the tome like pus from an infected wound, and her ray of enfeeblement is maximized to full potential. As it hits, Gareth feels his muscles turn weak and flaccid, unable to support even the weight of his armor and equipment. Theda’s action identifies the book for him – a Tome of Undead Transformation, a relic of the Blood of Vol that allows creation of unusual undead and helps an attuned user cast necromantic spells with increased effectiveness. But the realization is hardly his primary focus, as he collapses to the ground.

So too does Korm, only some distance away and significantly worse off. Ghulam lifts him off the ground by his head and tosses him casually into the chamber. Korm skids to a halt, pain shooting up along his strained neck, and then feels the worrying sensation of the room’s dispel magic wash over him, taking his death ward with it. Which becomes quickly more worrying as the two priests rush at the prone orc. As he rolls over, two gauntlets strike him, and he feels twin vampiric touches leech more vitality from his form.

Seeing Korm’s situation, Six snaps, “We have to go in!” and leaps forward. “All right, but someone dispel the damn unhallow,” says Nameless, “I’m out of dispels.”

“But I’m not!” says Luna, moving forward so that she can see where Korm is. Six leaps forward, a split second before her huge form almost blocks the doorway, and tumbles into the chamber. Deciding not to make himself a target for the mummy, he rolls past and away, heading for a far wall.

Behind him, Luna casts and this time Nameless sees the unhallow’s aura shimmer and then rapidly fade, while another protective spell disappears off Theda. “Yes!” The alienist promptly casts a wall of force, blocking off half the room and Theda from them. Now it is the high priestess’ turn to curse, and she hurriedly casts an air walk and rises slowly into the air, feeling the magical wall and searching for an opening.

“Help!” Luna turns at the plaintive cry from beside her to see Gareth rolling back and forth in a vain attempt to rise. “Fine!” she growls, “But this is my last one!” Her giant tongue licks out, covering Gareth’s arm with a coating of giant-bear-saliva, but more importantly, dispelling the weakening effect. As the paladin springs to his feet, the bear begins to growl, “Now get i…,” before a thunderous punch from Ghulam slams into her muzzle.

Luckily, Luna’s making a target of herself has drawn the mummy’s attention away from Korm. Unfortunately, he has left the Gatekeeper with a little gift. Trying to buy some time, Korm bats away the two priests’ attacks and then casts a spell of his own, causing an insect-like sting to protrude from his palm. He slaps it against the thigh of one priest, causing the man to cry out in agony. But though the healing sting inflicts damage, it fails to complete its job. As the health stolen from the target shoots into Korm, he feels a cold sensation at the back of his skull, where Ghulam’s arm had hit, and the spell dissipates without healing him. “Hey! What the crap?”

From the doorway, Nameless shouts, “You’ve been cursed with mummy rot!” Korm dodges aside from another attack, temporarily able to keep the priest’s at bay but yet unable to rise, and shouts back, “I’m flat on my back with you idiots out there and these fools trying to kill me! Of course, I’m bloody cursed!” As if to underline the sentiment, Ghulam turns and slams down a fist that knocks all humor out of the orc.

“Just a second!” says Six, currently being ignored by the enemies, as he calls on another of the powers of his modified harness. There is a creaking of crunching of metal and wood and then he begins to grow, expanding in bulk and height until he towers as tall as the mummy.

Across the battlefield from the growing warforged, Theda has finally reached the top of the wall of force and found an open space, and she calls down Luna’s favorite spell. A flame strike slams down on Luna, Nameless and Gareth, but with all of them warded against fire, inflicts only minimal damage. Peering past the giant bear filling the doorway, Gareth shouts, “I’ll take her! Luna – duck!”

“What?!” For a moment, Luna wonders why Gareth thinks that a transformation into a small waterfowl will help their chances, but then she realizes what he means and drops to the ground. Gareth raises his sword and says, “Time to fly, Blade!” The Endless Blade snaps, “Sure! You’ve been f*cking useless so far,” and propels the momentarily speechless paladin forward through the gap between Luna and the doorframe.

Theda has only a moment of shocked surprise as three hundred pounds of armored paladin slam into her through the opening in the wall, and before she can respond Gareth has her in a clinch.

“Oh, great! He’s beating up the woman again,” groans Korm, rolling away as a massive fist hits the ground where his head had been a second later. “Someone get this mummy off me!”

“Done,” says Nameless, firing an emerald-colored bolt past Luna. It strikes Ghulam in the chest and, for a moment, the undead giant is outlined in green flame. And then it shakes off the effects of the disintegrate, only a few bandages falling apart. “Son of a bitch!”

As Nameless curses, Six darts forward, muttering, “Let’s do this the old-fashioned way.” His chain, now the size of a ship’s hawser, wraps around Ghulam’s ankle and he tugs. In his normal form, Six would have no chance against the creature’s huge size and strength, but in his enlarged form they are closer to equals, and Six’s expertise tips the balance. And Ghulam, whose giant arms windmill uselessly as he hits the floor.

“Great!” grunts Korm, a second before another attack from his two smaller assailants further saps his vitality. “That does it! Luna – Cocoon me! But first….” Korm roars in rage and gives up all attempts at defense, letting in to his berserker fury and spinning in a circle on the ground, his sword leading the way. The priest who touched him, assuming that the prone orc was helpless, stares in shock and then screams. As he collapses and swiftly falls silent, blood jets and pools around him from his two legs, both of which Korm has neatly hacked off just below the knee.

The second priest gives back for a moment and then reaches forward, hoping to drain the wounded orc’s remaining life force, even as Ghulam sits up and brings down his fist too. But a split second before either can hit, a giant tongue reaches out and touches Korm’s leg, causing a greenish yellow cocoon of force to spring up around him.

Unable to strike at Korm, Ghulam changes direction, smashing his fist into Luna’s side. The giant bear grunts at the impact, now seriously hurt. From behind her, Nameless drops an especially powerful fireball in the chamber, placing it precisely so as not to touch either Luna or Six, but enveloping Ghulam and the remaining priest. The cleric screams in mortal agony as the spell, modified by the alienist’s ring, blasts him with streams of acid, reducing him in seconds to a bubbling mass of flesh. Ghulam’s resistance to fire is useless against it, and entire chunks of undead flesh melt away, along with the bandages and protective bone armor above.

Some distance away, on the other side of the wall of force, Theda struggles in Gareth’s grasp. Desperately, she seizes his throat with a hand glowing with necromantic power, but he too is warded against the effect. At least he cannot use his sword, she thinks for a moment, and then sees the blade shrink to the size of a dagger, a second before Gareth drives it into her side. As she cries out, she notices that the paladin is looking past her. Even in her agony, Theda twists to see what he is gazing at, only to see Six’s huge form leaping up, one metal hand clasped around the edge of the wall. The other is already in mid-swing, and the hapless priestess has no time for another scream before it smashes her skull into smithereens.

Behind Six, Nameless says to Luna, “He’s badly hurt. Heal him now!” The druidess looks at Korm, who is gaining none of the healing benefits of the cocoon due to his cursed state. “But I can’t reach him!” The alienist rolls his eyes. “Not him! The mummy!” Luna looks confused for a moment and then she smiles viciously. “Oh yeah!”

She reaches forward, ignoring a hammer-blow from Ghulam, and slaps her paw into his chest, before casting her spell. And the incredible healing energy of a heal pours into Ghulam, its positive energy anathema to the dark powers that bind his undead flesh to his will. The mummy thrashes violently, trying to shove Luna away, but she holds her paw in place. Tiny holes appear, swiftly expanding, as beams of energy shine out of its body, dissolving the long-dead bones and muscle as they expand. And then, with a soft hiss, the giant form collapses in on itself, till all that remains is a pile of smoking bandages, dust leaking slowly out of them.

“Nicely done, folks,” says Nameless, walking into the room and dissolving his wall of force. “Now let’s find out what exactly is here.”

Korm, emerging from the cocoon only marginally healthier than he entered, interjects, “Can someone do anything about me? I’m still not healing properly.”

“No problem,” says Gareth, pulling out a scroll. “We just need to remove curse.”

While the paladin takes care of Korm, the others examine the rest of the chamber. Luna scowls as she notes the various corpses on the tables, some with a mixture of alchemical and necromantic fluids keeping them in a state of near-life, leaking blood into carefully placed channels and basins. “Why the hell do we always run into this kind of sh*t? These necro-idiots friends of your aberrations or what, Nameless?”

“No,” says the alienist shortly, turning to scan the area. “She’s got a fair bit of magical equipment. And that relic of hers.” Then he stops and points at a large doorway set into the far wall. “That’s got a lot of protection too.”

“I’ll take this,” says Gareth, walking over to pick up the Tome. “We should destroy it. Maybe I’ll take it back to the Archierophant and let her do it. That might make her happy.”

“Call me a cynic, but I doubt anything you do right now will make her happy,” says Six, kneeling to check Theda’s corpse. “And call me a cynic, but I’m still not sure this is an Emerald Claw cell.”

“Either way,” argues Gareth, “They were holding people against their will and sacrificing them. And the presence of all these strange undead is suspicious.”

“If you think that’s suspicious,” says Nameless, having opened the door with the now recovered Korm’s aid, “Come see this.”

The others walk over and look through the doorway. “DAMN!!!”

The chamber beyond is oval in shape and empty expect for one occupant. Lying stretched on its side in the middle of the floor, attached to the wall by a chain and a collar around its throat is a gigantic hound. Three things about it stick out instantly to the watchers. Firstly, it would stand twenty feet at the shoulder if it stood upright. Secondly, it cannot actually stand upright, since it is the first half of a dog, its body ending midway down its torso. And strangest of all is what forms that torso. The creature is entirely made up of scores of humanoid corpses, most in a state of partial decay, somehow held together in a ghastly agglomeration.

“What the f*ck is that?!”

“I think it’s a charnel hound,” says Nameless. “I’ve heard of that, but never seen one. They’re incredibly rare, and crafting one requires incredible necromantic power.” He glances at Gareth. “Or the right relic.”

Gareth opens his mouth to respond and then quickly raises his sword. As he and the others watch, the gigantic half-hound opens its eyes. With a mighty effort, accompanied by the scraping of bone and flesh against stone, it levers itself to an upright position.

And then, even as the Angels watch in fascinated horror, it drags itself painfully forward with its forelegs, a low and strangely pathetic whine emanating from its throat.

“Aww! The poor thing!” Luna turns to the others. “Can we keep it?”

“Are you crazy?!” Gareth shouts, causing Nameless to grin and say, “It would definitely take care of door-to-door salesmen, you know.” The paladin just glares at him and then turns on Luna. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Look at it. It’s pathetic. And kinda cute. Well, not as much as it would be if it weren’t made of corpses, but…”

“No! This is not up for discussion! We are destroying this thing now!”

“Fine, fine,” mutters Luna irritably. “I guess it’s too big to take back with us anyway.”

The semi-completed charnel hound whines one more time and hitches itself a few feet closer, and then a storm of magical energy envelops it, quickly returning it – and its components – to a real death.

With the creature dealt with, the Angels proceed to check the rest of the area. Beyond the door on the other side of the living room they passed through, they find Theda’s bedroom and study. Six finds a locked wall safe that contains some money, and within it a second, concealed, compartment containing documents, more money, gems, some scrolls and a skull crafted in tarnished silver.

Gareth weighs the skull in his hand and says, “I know what this is. It’s a talisman that aids in controlling or destroying undead. It should come in handy.”

“Look at this.” Six holds up a small red gem. “Same as the one the spy on the airship had. I wonder if that means she really did have a connection with the…”

“Emerald Claw. Definitely,” confirms Nameless, having quickly scanned the various documents.

“See?” says Gareth, turning to Six. “The information was accurate. It’s not as if we were set up or something.”

Six shakes his head sadly. “No, it just means that we were set up but they sent us to a Blood of Vol temple which, completely coincidentally, actually did involve an Emerald Claw cell.”

“Sheesh! What the hell happened to make you such a pessimist?”

Six shrugs mechanically. “I began living with you people.”


* The bums rolled godawfully well on Will saves, all beating the DC 27 Will save by a fair bit. Admittedly they all had immunities or a Freedom of Movement to protect them anyway, but it would be nice to see a failed save. But noooo…
 


shilsen

Adventurer
Vorput said:
Wouldn't they actually be consecrators? ;)

:D

Good point, but considering what this bunch consists of, them walking around probably counts as a serious desecration of the natural order.

I've held off on the latest update for a bit, since I've been busy with grading for a week, but I'll hopefully have it up on Saturday or so. As for what happened last session, the Angels decided that they need to up the odds a bit to have a challenge, so they went and attacked an army of lizardfolk in Q'barra. With a door.
 

shilsen

Adventurer
After having collected most things that weren’t nailed down – and a couple that were – the Angels retrace their way to the main hall. The scorched and battered bodies of the boneclaws still litter the floor, but moving among them are a number of armed and armored men with worried expressions. The majority wear the same uniforms, and the two who do not, have holy symbols of the Blood of Vol prominently displayed on their chests. All of them quickly raise their weapons as the Angels walk in, and one of the priests says sharply, “Halt and identify yourselves! We are the city watch of Atur! Did you do this?”

“Yes,” says Gareth, “We did. This temple is a secret cell of the Emerald Claw.”

“What? We were informed that….” The man falls silent, gaping at the sight of Luna squeezing her way into the hall. “Err … you have a bear?!” One of the watchmen, all of whom have stepped back and are looking even more concerned than they already were, mutters, “Vol protect us – that thing’s huge!”

Korm says, “Oh yeah – he’s dead!” a second before Luna steps forward and growls, “Who are these idiots?”

“You have a talking bear? Who are you people?”

“The Guardian Angels,” replies Gareth.

“Guardian angels?”

The Guardian Angels. From Sharn. The same guys who escorted Princess Haydith ir’Wynarn from Wroat to Korth, and destroyed dozens of Emerald Claw attackers who attacked us on the way. Those Guardian Angels.”

“Oh!” The priest visibly collects himself and then says slowly, “Yes, we have heard of you. But what are you doing here? Some people from the temple came to the guard house and said it had been attacked, so we hurried here.”

“This temple, as I said, was actually being run by an Emerald Claw cell. They were constructing strange undead, like these ones,” Gareth indicates the boneclaws, “And had an unusual mummy and a partly-constructed charnel hound, which we also destroyed. They were also holding prisoners against their will and sacrificing them. That is not acceptable even within the Blood of Vol, is it?”

The priest’s face tightens slightly at the ‘even’ and his eyes flicker across the symbols of the Silver Flame gleaming on Gareth’s breastplate, but he says simply, “No, it is not. But do you have any proof of these allegations?”

Nameless produces the papers the group found and hands them over. “We found these in a concealed compartment in the high priestess’ safe. By the way, could you be a little quick about it? We have a lizardman army to destroy at 12:30.” The priest’s expression says that he really wants to ask a question, but he evidently decides that not knowing is probably better. He silently accepts the documents and leafs through them quickly, stopping to pass some on to the second priest and read others in more detail, a frown spreading across his face. After a few moments, he hands them back. “I see you were telling the truth. If I may ask – why is it a concern of yours? On what authority are you here?”

“On the authority of King Kaius III,” says Gareth, “We’re doing a favor for Regent Moranna, who speaks for him, as you know. If you have any questions, take them up with her.”

There is silence for a few moments, and then the priest says, “I see.” He hesitates, but then adds, “Even if this place had been used by the Emerald Claw, it is still a temple of the Blood, so I must ask – what have you taken from this place?”

“That does it!” growls Luna, rearing up. “I’ve had it up to here with people taking our things! If you even think of asking for any of our stuff, I will eat your face!”

The unfortunate priest blanches visibly, and a couple of the guardsmen take a couple of quick steps for the door, clearly about to flee. The second priest grabs at his holy symbol, but before things can devolve into another massacre, Gareth quickly speaks up. “Listen to me! We are here to do a job for our king. Yes – our – since I’m Karrnathi too, in case that matters. And we’ve just taken down an Emerald Claw cell, risking our lives in the process.” Ignoring the stage whisper of “Not that much,” from Six, the paladin continues, “You have neither the authority, nor the power, to question us. As I mentioned before, if you have any questions, you can speak to the king or to the Regent. We are leaving now, and for your sakes, do not attempt to stay us. The only result will be your deaths and a minor waste of time for us. If you do not believe anything else I have said, believe me on this score.”

The priest searches Gareth’s expression, finding only truth there, and nods slowly. “Very well. I protest, but I shall not attempt to stop you.”

“Good.” The Angels walk through the priests and watchmen, who hastily get out of their way, and through the open doorway of the temple into the open air. Nameless prepares to teleport them away, when Luna says, “Wait! Where are you taking us?”

“Back to Korth, so we can discuss what we found with Moranna.”

“Hell, no! First we go back to Gareth’s place and dump all the stuff! You know she’s going to ask for our stuff too!”

“You are a strange, strange woman. All right then.”

* * *
“… so we came back here,” Luna explains to Leanna and Elaine, as the Angels relax in Karrlakton.

“That was very … interesting,” says Elaine, a hint of concern evident in her eyes as she glances at her son. “Tell me, what are your plans for tomorrow?”

“We’ll go to Korth and speak to Moranna,” says Nameless, “And we’re planning to return to Sharn to find out about that situation in Q’barra we mentioned.” He indicates the Korranberg Chronicle, which he has been reading. “Apparently the problems with the lizardfolk are growing, and a lizardfolk army attacked and totally destroyed a town. House Tharashk is also asking adventurers to come to Q’Barra to help with the situation. Not surprising, since it must make harvesting dragonshards complicated.”

“All right. Do you think you could be at home for dinner tomorrow?” Though she speaks generally, Elaine’s eyes are again on Gareth. Curious what his mother has in mind, he replies, “I’m sure we could. Why?”

“I’m planning to have a small party. I’d mentioned that you were home to a couple of friends and they wanted to stop in and say ‘hello,’ so I thought I’d call a few more friends over.”

“You want to show off the prodigal son, don’t you?” says Luna with a grin. “Are you inviting any girls for him?” Elaine laughs and replies, “Well, Yevana was bragging a bit about her son having been accepted at Rekkenmark Academy, so….” Catching Gareth’s expression, she quickly adds, “But no, I’m not doing any matchmaking.”

Leanna puts in firmly, “Yes. There is no need for that. You have far more important things to deal with now. With the power and abilities that have been bestowed upon you, your emphasis should be on delivering justice and righteousness where needed, as you did today.”

Korm chuckles. “You’re hardcore, grandma! Is there any way we could trade Gareth off for you?”

As the others laugh, Leanna says dryly, “You should be so lucky! Now tell me again about these undead that you encountered.”

* * * * * * * * * *
Early the next day, the Angels return to Korth to meet with Moranna and apprise her of all that they encountered and did.

“Thank you,” says the Regent, when they are done. “Let me see the documents you found.” After going through them, she nods. “Good. This may reveal more to us once we have examined them in detail. You mentioned that you found a Tome of Undead Transformation. May I see it?”

“Certainly,” says Gareth, “But I wish to take it to the Cathedral of the Flame in Sharn and destroy it.”

Moranna looks at the paladin, her expression inscrutable, and asks, “Why?”

“Because it can be used for creating powerful undead, and that is both unnatural and dangerous for the people of Khorvaire. I cannot allow this relic to be allowed to exist.” And Ythana may be a little bit happier with me if I bring this to her to destroy.

“Very well. I would like to take it for a short time. I shall return it to you before you return to Sharn with the princess. It should provide us with valuable information, especially in conjunction with the other documents you obtained, about what types of undead the Emerald Claw may have constructed using it or are trying to.”

It’s a little hard to say no, and it’s not as if they can just make copies of the book, since the magic is bound to it. “All right.” Gareth hands the book over and Moranna places it on the table, the attached claw uppermost. “Thank you,” she says, “What do you plan to do in the interim before you leave for Sharn?”

“Actually, we’re going back to Sharn right now. We’re planning to take a hand with the Q’barra situation. But we’ll definitely be back before the princess has to leave.”

“I see. I presume you’ll be back at your family home when in Karrnath. Correct?”

“Yes.”

“Good. There will be a package there for you sometime today.”

“Ooh!” Luna, who has only been half-listening to the conversation in case Moranna asks for more things from the group, promptly perks up. “Is it the reward? Is it something shiny?”

The Regent flashes the ghost of a smile, for the first time since the Angels met her. “Yes. And I cannot say. The king would prefer it to be a surprise.”

“Oh, come ooooonn!!!”

* * *
A few minutes later, the Angels are more than two thousand miles away, walking along the skybridges of Sharn. “You know,” says Gareth, looking over the edge of the bridge, “Whenever we spend time away from here, I realize exactly how weird this place is.”

“That’s interesting,” says Six, looking in another direction. He points at another warforged some distance away, walking away from the Angels. “I think he was wearing the same harness as me. I mean the way it was before Mordain modified it. Give me a few seconds.” He speeds up and quickly catches up to the other warforged.

“Excuse me,” says Six, “Can I speak to you?”

The other warforged comes to a stop and nods, “Yes.” Six notes that he has the thick armor plating of a model designed for heavy infantry work, and a very functional looking flail hangs by his side. Six also pays especial attention to the harness, which does look exactly like the one he had. On closer inspection, there is one difference – the symbol of the Fabricators Guild of House Cannith etched in the center of the harness.

“My name is Mithral Six of Six. I was curious about this harness that you are wearing. Could you tell me where you got it?” Though I think I’ve already got the answer.

“Six of Six? I have heard of you. You are one of the Guardian Angels, are you not? I am Forty-Two.” The tone and somewhat stilted manner of speech indicates to Six that Forty-Two has comparatively limited experience interacting socially with others. Forty-Two touches the harness and says, “I was given this by House Cannith. I work as a guard in the Cannith Forgehold in Ashblack in the Upper Cogs, and the House is giving these to a number of guards. It makes us stronger and more durable.” He stops speaking.

When the silence is about to grow uncomfortable, Six says, “Thank you. That’s all I needed to do.” Forty-Two says nothing but simply watches silently, so Six gives him a friendly nod, turns and walks back to join the others. “Looks like Cannith is producing copies of the harness,” he explains. “Once we’re done with Joseth and finding out about Q’barra, I’d like to visit House Cannith before we leave. Need to talk about my finder’s fee.” And find out exactly what it is that they’re producing.

“That should be fine,” says Gareth. “I want to visit the Cathedral and talk to the Archierophant too.”

“And at the very same moment I shall be visiting some place that is not the Cathedral and speaking to someone who is not Ythana,” says Nameless firmly. “I’m not yet sure where and who that will be, but I’m confident I’ll be busy there.”

…..

Joseth is understandably pleased to see the Angels, and even more so when he learns they are both free and in the mood for destroying a lizardfolk army. “Naturally,” he points out, “I have only limited information about the situation there, but I know for a fact that things are steadily getting worse, and I’m sure your aid will be very valuable. You should speak to First Minister Alzia ir’Kesslan when you arrive in Newthrone. Actually, how will you be going there?”

“I’ll teleport us there,” says Nameless. “We’ll have to do it tomorrow morning, since we’ve got a few things to do today. So I need a particular location and a detailed description. A picture would be even better, as long as it’s accurate.”

“I … see. I’m not sure I have a picture, but I’ll give you a specific description of part of the palace close to the First Minister’s offices. And a letter of introduction. I’ll send off a Sivis message today, which should be there by the time you arrive, but a letter will ensure there are no complications. Give me a few minutes.”

In fifteen minutes, Joseth hands the Angels a sealed letter and a detailed description of the location they should arrive at. With that taken care of, the group leaves his home and splits up, Six and Gareth going their respective ways and the others going to visit Trillia.

…..

“Greetings, Gareth,” says Ythana Morr coldly as he is shown into her office. “How may I help you?”

“Thank you for seeing me, Archierophant,” says the paladin, taking a seat, “I wanted to speak to you about a number of things. Regarding Nameless going to Flamekeep to meet the Keeper…”

Ythana cuts him off. “That will no longer be necessary.”

Huh? “The Keeper doesn’t wish to speak to Nameless?” What happened?

“I have had a communication from Flamekeep to say that you did not need to travel there. Were you here to tell me that you were about to do so?”

“Not exactly, but we do have some free time coming up, so once we do a couple of things that are next on our agenda, we would have been able to…”

“I see. So you were not intending to travel to Flamekeep right now. What else did you wish to speak to me about?”

“We destroyed an Emerald Claw operation disguised as a temple of the Blood of Vol, and I recovered a foul relic, a Tome of Undead Transformation, which they were using to create powerful undead. I was hoping that you could help me destroy it.”

“May I see it?”

“Umm … actually I loaned it to Regent Moranna in Karrnath, but I plan to bring it here once I have it back from her, and…”

“Let me see if I understand this correctly,” says Ythana, leaning forward, her tone taking on the coldness of a Karrnathi winter. “You arrived here to tell me that you and your companions were willing to go to Flamekeep, but are currently too busy to do so, and that you wished me to destroy a relic, which you do not currently have and have left in the hands of the Regent of Karrnath. Am I correct?”

Okay – so it sounds bad when you say it that way! “Err … yes.”

“I’m pleased to see that I have a clear understanding. Thank you for your kindness in informing me of the above. Please feel free to stop by whenever it is convenient for you again.”

. . . . .

Six’s visit to House Cannith is significantly more pleasant than Gareth’s encounter with the Archierophant. Not only has he been there before but his reputation means he gets quicker results and is allowed to jump a few queues. Soon enough, he is sitting in a small office adjoining the Cannith laboratories.

Rowal d’Cannith, the artificer who had studied the harness on his previous visit over a month and a half ago, enters with a pleased smile. “Six of Six! Good to see you again! What can I do for you?”

“I need a little information about that harness I showed you. I met a warforged today wearing one exactly like it, made by your Fabricators Guild. Are you producing and selling them now?”

Rowal nods, his smile broadening. “Making, not selling. At least not yet. It took a month of really complicated work, and we only started producing them two weeks ago. And we’d never have got that far, if we hadn’t coincidentally found that one of our older schemas could be applied to making them. But now we can make them and we’re testing them out on some of the Cannith warforged, before we put them on the market. At least I think that’s the plan. I’m not exactly up on the marketing end of things, and I’ve been working hard on the production angle. It’s been very exciting!” He beams at Six. “So tell me – what have you been up to? Doing well, I hope.”

The question confirms for Six, if he hadn’t been certain already, that Rowal is not a man who pays much attention to things going on outside his workshops. “Yes, I am,” he replies simply. “Have you learned anything new about the harness?”

“Not really. It has all those strengthening and protective properties you know of, and it binds to the user, which is rare for warforged components. We tried to build it without that property, but we couldn’t. And there are a couple of elements in the design that seem necessary to the whole but whose precise function we’re not sure of. That’s why we’re testing it out first before releasing it.” Rowal studies Six and says, “Your harness looks different. What did you do with it? Have you learned anything new about it?”

“Actually, it’s been drastically modified by a powerful mage named Mordain the Fleshweaver. So it’s quite different from what it was?”

“Really? I don’t know this Mordain, but it sounds very interesting. Do you think we could take a look at it sometime? How about now?”

“I am too busy right now, but maybe some other time. Also, I was wondering – could I speak to some of the people making the decisions about producing these harnesses?”

“Huh?” Rowal scratches his chin, clearly not having anticipated the request. “Sure. It would take a couple of days to arrange, but I could do that. Anything particular you want to talk to them about?”

“Since you are producing copies of something I found, I was just wondering if I might not deserve a finder’s fee.” And I have a few questions you probably can’t answer.

“Okay. That’s not something I have any control over, but I’m sure they’ll be willing. When would you like me to set it up?”

“How about a week from today?”

“5 Aryth? Sure. Anyway, are you sure you need to leave now? I’d really like to get a look at that harness.”

“Sorry,” says Six, “But not today. Maybe on the 5th. I’ll see you then.”

* * *
When the Angels eventually return to Gareth’s home, there is a large sealed Sivis envelope waiting for them. Luna promptly grabs it and rips it open, luckily not tearing the documents it contains. The first is a Kundarak banknote, made out to the “Guardian Angels of Sharn” and identifying the various members of the group by name, which can be deposited or exchanged at any Kundarak bank on the continent in exchange for the sum of ten thousand galifars.

“Nice!” says Luna. “That takes care of the budget for getting the furniture upholstered. Now what’s this?” She extracts a second document, this one significantly larger and much more ornate, bearing multiple signatures and two prominently displayed arcane marks. She reads the first couple of lines. “Title deed to Schiffel estate? What the hell is Schiffel estate?”

“That’s the one next door to ours,” says Gareth, pointing out of a window at the abandoned estate lying in disrepair on the other side of the wall of his family’s land.

“Hah!” Luna guffaws in amusement and then hands over the document. “Tell your mom to get used to us. We’re gonna be neighbours!”

“What?” Gareth quickly scans the document and then grins. “Luna’s right. We just got handed the estate next door. This should be interesting. It may be in disrepair now, but it used to …,” he pauses, looking at Luna, as she rises and transforms into a very large hawk. “Where are you going?”

“Where do you think? I’m going exploring. Yeah, okay – I already went exploring there last night, but this time I’m doing it legally! Six – you wanna come along? The building’s gone to crap, but I took a peek last night and I think the cellars are still fine.”

“Sure,” says Six, “Should be interesting.” As he rises and strides towards the exit, Luna flies out of the window.

“Don’t forget we’re having a par…,” Gareth begins to call after them, before Korm taps him on the shoulder. The Gatekeeper shakes his head. “Why are you suggesting the woman with the flame strikes actually comes back to a formal party?”

“Good point.” Gareth raises his voice and shouts out the window, “See you tomorrow, Luna!”

…..

Unfortunately, Luna and Six return in time for the party, with the results of their explorations. They explain that the decrepit building at the center of the Schiffel estate is in almost total disrepair, but the basement and cellars below it are in significantly better condition. “We could set up some fairly good quarters down there,” says Luna. “Six already said he’s planning to stay there while we’re in Karrnath.” The warforged nods.

“But why the cellars? It should be fairly easy to restore the building. We have the money for it, and it would just be a matter of time, and we could the grounds cleared at the same time.”

“No, no – no clearing, thank you. Leave the place overgrown. Korm and I can increase that with the right spells, and that would make it a much easier place to defend if we need to.”

“You know,” says Korm, “And I don’t normally get to say this, but Luna has a point. It would be like having our own little forest.”

“I agree,” says Six, and Nameless nods too. “All right,” says Gareth a little grudgingly, “But now we need to get ready for the party.”

Luckily, the party is much smaller than Gareth had feared, with only just over a dozen guests present, almost all of whom he knows. The entire affair is simple and comfortable, consisting of a richly traditional Karrnathi dinner followed by drinks and dessert on the sprawling verandah overlooking the estate’s gardens afterwards.

At dinner, Elaine seats Gareth next to a middle-aged man of martial bearing, whom she introduces as Marshal Arend d’Deneith. The gray-bearded warrior, whom Gareth remembers as an old friend of his father, spends most of dinner talking to the paladin. Arend congratulates Gareth and his friends on their increasing fame and on the job they did protecting Haydith. He also asks about the incident in the Lhazaar Principalities, and Gareth hastens to explain that the Angels had nothing to do with it.

Finally, Arend says, “I also have a message for you. Baron Breven d’Deneith would like to meet you.”

“All right,” says Gareth, knowing that the Baron – the head of House Deneith – is a distant cousin of his father. “Do you know why?”

“No, but I presume it’s to offer you work within the House.” Arend produces a small envelope, bearing the three-headed chimera that symbolizes House Deneith, overlaid with the personal seal of the Baron. “You’ll need this to get into Sentinel Tower and to see him. It’s effectively unheard of for the Baron to invite or make time for unaffiliated people to speak with him.” Arend smiles. “Even if it’s an unaffiliated person who’s a member of the most famous adventurers in Khorvaire.”

“Thank you,” says Gareth, recalling that on the occasions when his father had taken him to Sentinel Tower, he had never seen Baron Breven, except once in the distance.

“Don’t thank me. You’ve earned it.” Arend smiles again. “Byron would have been proud of you and the man you have become.”

Gareth bows his head in acknowledgement. As his eyes fall on his metal hand, he wonders for a moment if his father would also have been as favorably disposed towards what he has become – especially since even he is not completely certain what it is.

* * * * * * * * * *
The next morning finds Gareth sitting across a large desk from Breven d’Deneith. The windows of the Baron’s gigantic office, high in Sentinel Tower, originally looked out over the city of Karrlakton and past the river into Cyre, but now the paladin’s eyes are constantly drawn to the wall of gray mist across the river. But his attention returns to the Baron as Breven speaks. The head of House Deneith looks the part, his granite gray hair matching a face that seems carved out of rock, and he gets directly to the point.

“I have been hearing about you and your companions a great deal recently, Gareth. According to Lord Sadran and Lalia from Sharn, you are interested in working for the House?”

No surprise there. “Yes, I am. But I invariably seem to have many things keeping me busy, so I was hoping I could do so in a somewhat … freelance capacity.”

“And your companions in the Guardian Angels? Would they be interested in working for the House?”

I’m so glad Luna wasn’t here to hear this.“Actually, they’re one of the reasons I cannot commit to being a full member of the House. We all have different aims and interests, even though we work together, and I can’t see them – and, in all honesty, myself – being able or willing to follow any task the House assigns.”

“I see. I am not surprised. I am fairly well informed about your group, and I believe your abilities would be wasted in the Defenders Guild. And you need to be members of the bloodline to be Sentinel Marshals. Also, each of those roles would require you to be constantly available to the House, and that, as you say, is not possible. The best option, as I see it, is for you to take a role as auxiliaries with connections to the Blademark.” Breven leans forward on his desk and continues, “I presume you are aware of the fact that there has probably not been a team of individuals with such diverse and extensive powers as you and your allies since the early days of the War, and certainly not one that was not officially affiliated with any nation. That puts you in a very unique position. Especially since your companion Nameless is evidently able to teleport you across Khorvaire now. I suggest that we establish a partnership between the Guardian Angels and House Deneith, where you will be contacted regarding situations around Khorvaire, which – if you are free – you can rapidly respond to. House Deneith can either put you in touch or handle negotiations with the concerned parties as you prefer, ensuring that they are reliable and what your appropriate payment will be.”

“That seems reasonable, as long as it’s clear that we will not be able to accept all offers.” I think.

“Certainly. I shall have the Sharn enclave handle the details. Will you be back there soon?”

“We plan to be back on and off in between, but we’ll be back for certain after 2 weeks. Right now we are going to Q’barra to deal with the problem with the lizardfolk.”

“I see.” Breven falls silent for a few seconds, a calculating look in his gray eyes, and then seems to come to a decision. “I wish you the best of luck.”

. . .

When Gareth rejoins the others, he gives them a quick synopsis of his meeting with Breven. The others show him an article which came out in the Korranberg Chronicle that morning. It is a small one about the Lhazaar situation, saying that Prince Ryger has announced that he accepts the Angels’ innocence regarding the attack on the Sea Dragons fleet. He also said that he is interested in speaking to them about the fact that they were framed and invites them to visit Regalport, hopefully soon.

“I’d say that’s a politely political way of saying he wants us to do the searching for him,” says Gareth.

“Maybe, but why don’t we visit him?” says Luna.

“Huh?” Korm looks at her in surprise and with a little suspicion. “I thought you’d be screaming about him wanting to give us a job and threatening to kill him if he made an offer and us if we accepted. What gives?”

“I don’t do that!” says Luna indignantly. After looking at the four expressions (with even Six’s unchanging visage managing to convey his thoughts on the subject) that meet the comment, she throws her hands in the air and admits, “Okay, okay – I may say that sometimes! I just thought it might be fun to check this one out.”

“Why?” asks Six. “What is different here?”

Luna looks mutinous and reluctant to add more, but finally she says, “I was talking to Elaine about Ryger and she mentioned that he’s single and unattached. And supposed to be quite handsome. I was thinking that maybe I’d like to be a pirate princess.”

There is silence for a moment as everyone’s mind unwillingly comprehends the images the statement creates. “All right,” says Nameless finally, and flatly. “We’re taking Regalport off our ‘to do’ list.”

“What?! Just because I want to meet some guy? Go to hell!” Luna gives a dirty look at Korm, who has dissolved into helpless laughter, and growls, “I would make an awesome pirate princess! And just think how much you guys could make out of the deal!”

“I don’t think there’s enough money to make that worthwhile,” mutters Gareth.

“Phhftt!! You idiots are just jealous! Anyway, the Lhazaar Principalities are supposed to be beautiful, and there are tons of empty islands over there. We could easily find one of our own, to go with the house in Sharn and the estate here. I’d love to have my own island!”

“Sometimes I would love you to have your own island too,” says Six, with a metallic chuckle.

Before Luna can reply, Nameless cuts in. “Fine – we’ll visit Regalport later, but first we’re off to Q’barra. Everyone gather around.”

“Hold on,” says Gareth, heading for the door. “I have to tell mom we probably won’t be home for dinner.”

As he exits, Nameless shakes his head. “We have got to be the only adventurers on the planet who have to do that before we leave home.”
 
Last edited:

Zurai

First Post
shilsen said:
“Don’t forget we’re having a par…,” Gareth begins to call after them, before Korm taps him on the shoulder. The Gatekeeper shakes his head. “Why are you suggesting the woman with the flame strikes actually comes back to a formal party?”

“Good point.” Gareth raises his voice and shouts out the window, “See you tomorrow, Luna!”

…..

“Hold on,” says Gareth, heading for the door. “I have to tell mom we probably won’t be home for dinner.”

As he exits, Nameless shakes his head. “We have got to be the only adventurers on the planet who have to do that before we leave home.”

These are made of win and awesome.
 

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