3.5 The Heroes of Dyvers Chapter Six

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Laramon says, "The Fearless Five? Surely he means The Barony of Five? Of the group of five, only the Elven Archer, Idhimus, still lives. And he has nothing to do with the governance of the barony any longer."

Margull nods. "Yes, The Fearless Five are long gone, with the exception of Idhimus, and their sometimes-ally, Luis Galvanor, who is also an Elf. And it's truly a shame, they had a true talent for the maintenance of order. Their small barony was instrumental in bringing the Great War of the Flanaess to an end. They were warriors, but their legacy has been a lasting peace these past 42 years."

[sblock=If you made your DC 5 Sense Motive check]
Laramon gets a look of panic in his eyes when the Doppleganger mentions The Fearless Five. He tries to remain composed, but fails miserably. He looks visibly shaken.
[/sblock]
 

Aust Thale

Explorer
Advanced Interrogation Continued... Six (6) Quesitons

~ Hmm. This Rutterkin is on his first assignment. Clearly the Doppelganger knows more. The one important piece of information from the Rutterkin is this wizard to which he refers. ~


Respen abruptly stops his questioning of the Rutterkin as soon as he understands that this is the first task. He finishes his questions of the Doppelganger, receiving more valuable information. He thinks for a moment or two, stroking his chin as he does, and trying to stay focused in light of the information he considers valuable. The questions as indeed yes/no in nature, but the answers usually provide more detailed information. If the question is asked properly, a single question can provide more than a single answer.
He smiles, directing his question toward the Doppelganger, pouncing on one particular bit of information from the Rutterkin.

(2 Question Set)
"Doppelganger, the Rutterkin says a wizard summoned it; do you know who or where this wizard is?"
Yes. He resides in the Golden Spire, in the city of Kro Terlep.

If Yes, then the following: "Do you know how to find this wizard?"
Yes. He is easily found, because he stays in his tower, constantly.

If No, then next Question Set.

(2 Question Set)
"Doppelganger, do you have detailed plans of your missions or tasks?"
Yes. The details that I am aware of pertain to my specific role. I do not know details about the entire network.

And the following: "Rutterkin, do you have detailed plans of your missions or tasks?"
No. I was told only how to use the rings, and to assist my partner in any manner that he deemed appropriate and/or necessary.

Respen thinks to himself, ~ Interesting. Allies of Margull? The Fearless Five? The latter seems obliquely familiar somehow. Perhaps something that Auror had said? ~ Respen could not recall with total clarity in the midst of this exercise. Shaking himself back to the moment, he realizes he has one question left.

(2 Question Set)
"Doppelganger, do you know anything about the wizard's mortal and immortal allies?"
No. Issik Bloodhand is very secretive. Not even the Father of Obedience is privy to all of his secrets.

And the following: " Doppelganger, do you know detailed plans of missions, actions, or players in other realms? "
No. I do not know details about the entire network. I only know the details for my role.


GM: +250 XP To Respen For Agreeing To Be "The Grand Inquisitor." :D
 
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Diarmadhim

Explorer
"For those not in the know, the Barony of The Five is just to the East of the Domain of Greyhawk. It was founded by a powerful adventuring group known as The Fearless Five. The last time that Feridan, Shokindo, Dengar, or Jynx were seen alive was 39 years ago. Idhimus is in the Elven kingdom of Celene. The Barony of The Five is currently run by a group of 5 elderly Lords known collectively as "The High Council of Judicial Magistrates," who were appointed temporary rulers 39 years ago when four members of The Fearless Five left on an expedition they assumed would take a month or so. They never returned... It's quite odd that the Doppleganger would speak of them as if they were all still here."


GM:
+250 XP For Making The DM's Task Easier by disseminating useful information to the party (teamwork.)


 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Laramon says, "Kro Terlep? Father of Obedience? He's speaking of The Scarlet Brotherhood. It was believed that the power of their empire had been sundered in the Great War, after being dealt many serious defeats on the battlefield by The Barony of The Five. They are a closed society, and they openly promote the racial superiority of their Suloise heritage, spewing hate and intolerance. Their cities are kept under martial law, and the ruling class is an order of Monks, the head of which is the Father of Obedience. They are known to be subversive and deceitful, but in the past, they have always displayed a hatred for The Arcane, and for Wizards especially. Whomever this Issik Bloodhand is, if he is a trusted advisor to the Father of Obedience, then something drastic has changed in their society. In times past, the Father of Obedience has relied on the counsel of the clergy of Wee Jas, for it is said that the only pure magic is that which comes directly from her; Wizards who practice the arcane arts without also becoming members of her religious sect are seen as blasphemers, and the Brotherhood has never been known to traffic with demonkind, in any fashion. Demons are agents of Chaos, and the Brotherhood follows a rigid code of Laws. If you choose to investigate this further, you had best tread carefully. I suspect a dense network of lies to be at the heart of a conspiracy of this magnitude."

The party notices Margull wince visibly when the name of his goddess, Wee Jas, is mentioned.

Margull retorts, "The Stern Lady does not favor those fools. She tolerates their adoration of her, at best. It is said that the Brotherhood has erected massive temples in her honor, but that their doctrine strays greatly from the true path of the faithful. And yet, despite their measurable sacrifices to her, her two greatest priests are not of that empire; in fact, the greatest of her clergy resides here, in Dyvers. He is the great Unseen Knight of Rubies, highest speaker of the Ruby Sorceress. He is more than her high priest, he is in fact her chosen, her mortal agent, wielding a small portion of her direct power."
 

Sylvar B.

Explorer
Sylvar listens intently and rea ches back in his memory for anything anything regarding Issik Bloodhand, The Golden Spire and the Unseen Knight of Rubies.
OOC: BK check rolls are 37/33/30, respectively
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
SUPPLEMENTAL INFO POST: THE SCARLET BROTHERHOOD

GM:
As a prelude to answering Sylvar's questions, I thought I would begin with some background information on The Scarlet Brotherhood, which most common people of The Flanaess should have knowledge of.


GM:
Things That Everyone Knows About The Scarlet Brotherhood:

The Sovereign Empire of the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Sign (their actual, proper name) purports to promote equality and enlightenment. They claim to have a government which provides equal resources to all citizens, through a "communal republic," and that they even allow Humanoids a place in their society, and they constantly tout how the Demihuman races "villainize" and "oppress" Humanoids. For this reason, Demihumans (especially Elves) are openly criticized by The Brotherhood, being called the "true villains of The North."

The Brotherhood's borders are closed to all foreigners, except for Humanoids, and for those who are of Suel descent. (This includes the Barbarian tribes of the North, who are all purported to be of ancient Suel descent; it is said that the tribes of Cruski, Fruztii, and Schnai derive their names from Royal Suel Houses that had long, royal bloodlines, back to the foundation of the Empire of The Suel.)

The Brotherhood does send merchant vessels to friendly Northern ports for the purpose of trade, and all sailors and crewmen are known for their outward cheerfulness and pleasant demeanor, almost to the point of being ludicrous.

The Brotherhood has always vehemently denied accusations of spying and espionage. During the Great War, The Brotherhood attacked The Great Kingdom, and occupied it, but according to their diplomatic ministers, they did not attack the sovereign armies of The Great Kingdom; instead, they helped The Great Kingdom put down an internal rebellion, supposedly led by Celenian Elves. The Kingdom of Celene has denied this accusation. The Brotherhood said that once the rebellion had been quelled, they occupied the Great Kingdom, in order to ensure that it would be safe from Elven invasion.

The Brotherhood also openly attacked Celene itself during The Great War, in retaliation for inciting a rebellion in its allied state (The Great Kingdom, above); they made no pretense, saying that they would use whatever force necessary to "put the dastardly Elves in their place."

Eventually, The Brotherhood was driven out of both Celene and The Great Kingdom, by the armies of The Barony of The Five; they were pushed back to their own peninsula, where their position was so strongly fortified, that the armies of The Five dared not press further.

Most of the Northern Kingdoms view The Brotherhood with distrust and suspicion. Much of this suspicion has to do not only with their open hostility with Celene (which is known to be a benevolent kingdom) and with their open acceptance of Humanoids such as Orcs and Gnolls within their borders, but also with their open admission to allowing slavery. According to the Brotherhood, slaves are only taken during military conquest, or through the capturing of criminals (espionage and treason carry a penalty of enslavement) and they claim that by doing so, they are far more humane than other kingdoms of The North, whose laws allow for the execution of criminals accused of such crimes.

The Brotherhood claims that even slaves (called "Thralls") have rights in their society, which is said to consist of the following social ranks, from lowest to highest: Thrall, Indentured Servants, Communicants (Including most Humanoids), Sub-citizen (Including some Humanoids), Citizens (Including Citizen Merchants, Citizen Tradesmen, Citizen Artisans, Citizen Priests, and Citizen Soldiers) and "True" Brothers & Sisters.

When criticized about not allowing Humanoids to become full citizens, The Brotherhood's response is always the same: they have nearly the same rights, and the difference between Sub-citizen and Citizen involves many cultural obligations that Humanoids don't desire to participate in to begin with. The Brotherhood claims that the Humanoids are treated so well, that they freely accept their place in the social order, because they are at least allowed a place and a voice, whereas in The North, they are unjustly hunted, persecuted, and ostracized.

The Brotherhood has also been accused of enslaving native peoples, namely The Touv, although they claim that this accusation is false; The Brotherhood says that The Touv are not Thralls, although as part of a trade agreement with the various Touv tribes, The Brotherhood allows The Touv to join their society as Indentured Servants, and that after their period of servitude is up, they are promoted to Sub-citizens.

[sblock=Duncan's Eyes Only]
This is a half-truth; some Touv tribes, in addition to normal trade activities, sometimes sell their worst, most violent criminals to The Brotherhood, which claims that they will be rehabilitated, and either allowed to become a Sub-citizen, or to return to their tribe of origin, but no one has ever seen such a Touv return to his homeland; those that are sold to The Brotherhood are never seen again. There are also rumors of Brotherhood raids, where whole villages are captured and enslaved, but the Brotherhood denies involvement, saying that such raids are perpetrated by pirates not associated with The Brotherhood. The feeling among The Touv is that this is a lie, but no one has ever been able to prove it.
[/sblock]

For the most part, a state of "Cold War" exists between The Brotherhood and most of the kingdoms of the North. The Brotherhood trades freely with the Ice, Snow, and Frost Barbarians, although there is growing unrest among Cruski, who see the Brotherhood as wanting to assimilate them. They also trade freely with the Olman Islands, and the Lordship of the Isles, as well as with The Pomarj Empire and The Hepmonaland. (Although Hepmonalanders trade with them out of suspicion and fear, rather than mutual respect.)

 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Results of Sylvar's Bardic Knowledge Check (Scarlet Brotherhood & Related Subjects)

[sblock=Sylvar's Bardic Knowledge Check]

GM:

Issik Bloodhand:

The Bloodhand family is an ancient Suel bloodline, going back to the foundations of the Empire of the Suel. It was one of the most prominent houses of the empire, because it produced so many High Priests of Wee Jas over the passage of time. The most famous was Lumgo Bloodhand, who bore the title of "The Stern Lady's Harbinger." Other prominent priests of Wee Jas included Sissaeck, Zhanbeck, and Ullmar Bloodhand, all of whom attained the title of "Warlock of the Veil." (Sissaeck was the 9th Warlock of the Veil, Zhanbeck was the 12th, and Ullmar was the 13th.) Another Bloodhand descendant, Panjun Bloodhand, attained the title of "The Stern Lady's Watchman," a title above that of Warlock, but below Harbinger. Members of the Bloodhand family were said to be recipients of divine favor, becoming priests first, and then learning the Arcane Arts through divine inspiration from the Stern Lady. All of these priests lived thousands of years ago, the last of which (Panjun) died in S.D. 3656 (over 2,800 years ago.) You have no knowledge of the Bloodhand family past that point.

The Golden Spire:

This is one of the tallest towers ever constructed, and it is rumored that powerful magicks are required to keep it standing straight. The Tower was built in S.D. 5098, which was almost 1,400 years ago. (Unless you're mistaken, you're pretty sure that the modern Suel Calendar Year should be S.D. 6,479.) It is the traditional residence of The Father of Sorcery, which is the title given to the minister who advises the Father of Obedience on all matters magical. The Father of Sorcery, by Brotherhood Law, must be a Priest of Wee Jas, and of pure Suel descent.

The Unseen Knight of Rubies:

The goddess Wee Jas goes by many titles, but the most common are The Stern Lady, The Witch Goddess, Death's Guardian, and The Ruby Sorceress. The goddess is fond of magical items which employ rubies in their manufacture, and this reference to rubies is obviously tied to that; you have never heard of the title "Knight of Rubies," nor "Unseen Knight of Rubies."; But if one were to be the Chosen of Wee Jas, as Margull claims that the Dyvers priest is, it is not inconceivable that his title would reflect a strong similarity to hers, differing slightly according to his own unique powers. Perhaps this priest is often invisible, or resides in a hidden place? You're not sure. One thing that strikes you as odd: the Bloodhand descendents, who were supposedly all high priests of her order, were all called by titles that had nothing to do with rubies. Perhaps Margull is correct in his assertion that The Brotherhood (and by extension, The Suel) are not her most favored subjects. If her Chosen has the word ruby in his title, then none of the Bloodhand priests ever achieved that honor.



[/sblock]
 

Sylvar B.

Explorer
Sylvar speaks up, relaying all that he knows about Issik, the Spire and The unseen knight.

Sylvar says, "If I may, I recall a portion of a lost sonnet, something I heard in my travels...it doesn't provide much but every little bit helps us..."

Bloodhand of ancient Suel sucession,
Zeal for the Stern Lady, unmatched
Ardor and passion with no reflection,
Watchmen and harbingers, never of the stone,
Half measured favor,
Honored fully only.among their own.

Purity of blood in priestly garb,
Powerful wizards of wee jas,
Highly priestly consecration,
Arcane artist of divine inspiration..


GM: +100 xp for practicing your Bardic arts :D
 
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Aust Thale

Explorer
Respen Speaks Again...and again...and again...

~ Issik Bloodhand...The Golden Spire...City of Kro Terlep...I understand...Silver rings are handlers...golden rings are pawns...~

Respen's intellect works quickly to assess the information, its utility, and craft a plan. The Fearless Five reference, though certainly noteworthy, ranked well down Respen’s priority list. As well the doppelganger and Rutterkin’s references to demons and deities ranked lower in priority. Respen had spent a little time during the last year exploring his own faith. His own purpose. Being chained to servitude to a vampire was the catalyst toward that end. However, in this moment, he was less perplexed by the immortal actors in this plot than the terrestrial ones.

His thoughts on the matter had been vindicated. This was a conspiracy. Where he had been wrong was the timing. This was a slow boil, not a flash fire. The pawns would be no better off than Ky, the singular difference being that Dame Clare loved her in her own twisted way. These conspirators would not offer than pawns the courtesy. The end of this would be with pens and pomp. Respen’s intellect worked faster and harder than any wisdom could keep up.

Speaking to no one in particular, but openly to all those present, Respen formed his ideas…a loose plan toward dealing with this immediate threat.

Master Laramon, Master Delbin should be informed of this threat. Lord Margull, if I may be so bold, I believe it would behoove you to summon the guild heads quietly and inform them of the plot. Do not mention the rings, but emphasize that you are searching for conspirators, and should they be discovered, they will be arrested. I’d spread the same whispers among the merchants and sailors, as well as the nobility. I’d make collaboration with this conspiracy grounds for stripping of property and nobility.

Or you could simply remove the hands of the two currently in custody and send them back to this Bloodhand fellow. I think that sends a message as well. For that matter, I am a hunter. Why not hunt these silver ring wearers and kill them where they stand? Then send their ringless hands back to Issik. I would think at some point Bloodhand would tire of them pushing up daisies. He raises his head out into the open, and we assassinate him with prejudice.
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
SUPPPLEMENTAL POST: INFORMATION THE PARTY NEEDS

Margull grins at Respen's cold declaration, "My dear Respen, you should ask your little friend Tam here, whether or not he thinks that's a good idea. The actions that you propose could very well start an invisible, private war amongst the guilds. We do not yet know the extent of the Brotherhood's influence. Now is the time for gathering information, not for stirring the pot."

Margull and Laramon bring the meeting to a close. They tell the party that they will be in touch. In the meantime, the party returns to Dewydd's manor house, and subsequently back to Lady Abigail's tower in Hochoch, where they take a long period of rest (36 days) to recoup from the enormity of the implications of recent events.

GM:
I am doing this so as to facilitate getting the campaign back on track. During the 36 days, the entire party makes plans to assault The Steading; at the end of this period is when Clare contacts Respen about the Helm of Selreen. The plan then changes; most of the party will accompany Respen on his task for Clare. Dewydd, Duncan, Ebony, Lenny, and Trav, along with Dewydd's troops, remain focused on re-visiting the Giant Steading.



GM:
I highly recommend that EVERY PLAYER go back, and re-read PAGES 3-7 of this thread, very carefully, to refresh their memories on what has been happening, and what plans have been made up to this point. I have re-posted some of the main tid-bits below also, in a format that will facilitate easily re-posting them again and again in future posts as well.



EVERYONE: I need input from both teams (Respen's Side Quest, and Dewydd's Task Force) as to what your plans are, what preparations you're making, and when you plan to get underway.

CURRENT TIME: Goodmonth 23rd, CY 964.




[sblock=SUMMARY NOTES SINCE MEETING LADY ABIGAIL:]

Abigail speaks: “As you might have guessed, being Collin’s mother, makes me a Dragon as well, and a much older one at that. I am of sufficient age to have seen the calamity of mutual destruction that led to the fall of the Suloise and Baklunish empires; I have lived sufficiently long to not only amass a great deal of knowledge, but several potent enemies as well. My greatest foe is a red Wyrm known as Mythendrixxelonn, who is as powerful an agent of evil as I am an agent of good. Both of us have gone to great lengths to hide our presence from one another; Myth knows, as I do, that allowing our locations to be known is tantamount to inviting unwanted attack, and even sudden death. My late husband, Collin’s father, discovered the harshness of that reality first-hand; Myth not only killed him, but also took his very soul, draining it with a powerful gem known as the Mother of Darkness, a jet-black pearl some 12 inches in diameter, which was created in ages past, by a dark Magus named Kolmar. Thus, both Myth and I work behind the scenes, through other agents, and through obfuscated channels, to further the goals of our respective deities, who are themselves also enemies. Myth serves the goddess Tiamat, while I serve the mighty Bahamut. Neither of us acts directly against any problem, nor against any foe. I am far too wise to expose myself needlessly, and Myth (and rightfully so!) fears my wrath; thus, we both remain hidden, lurking in the shadows, so-to-speak, waiting, and watching. But we both lend aid where we can to potential allies, such as yourselves. I am a learned sorceress, and I have untold wealth and abundant resources at my disposal. Would you be willing to act in my service, and thus, ultimately in the service of Bahamut, in return for my aid, sponsorship, and mentorship?”

While the party ponders her offer, she goes on to explain: “Regardless of your acceptance of my offer, sundering the power of Nosnra and his dark queen was a great service to the region. I would be happy to provide you with respite, hospitality, advice, and training. Consider this tower your second home, for as long as you’d like to stay. If you decide to accept my offer, you can even go so far as to pick out a room of your own, and to furnish and decorate it as you please.”

GM: The party has since answered her, saying that their loyalties lie elsewhere; therefore, I should clarify. Swearing loyalty to Lady Abigail will NOT force you to change your deity to Bahamut. It simply means that you agree to work for her, to support the CAUSE of Bahamut, and that by agreeing to do so, you become her MAN, and she becomes your SPONSOR. In modern-day terms, it's like being an adjunct professor; Bahamut is the President of the "University," and Lady Abigail is the Provost. Abigail offers you work from time to time (various, individual assignments) which you can either accept or decline.

However, choosing to take up residence in Abigail's tower implies that you plan on accepting ALL of the assignments that she offers to you. In such a case, you become Abigail's VASSAL, and she becomes your LIEGE. Becoming her Vassal has a lot of benefits, especially if one is a spellcaster, since one of those benefits is unrestricted access to her private library.



Around the third day of our time off, Dewydd takes his time going to each of the various party members to inform them of Lady Abigail's request. "Lady Abigail has asked that when we go back to the steading, we be on the lookout for a plain, wooden staff, about 7 feet in length, with a plain, gold band at the top. The band is 3 inches in width. We are to bring it back to her. It is highly magical, but its powers can only be awakened by a Druid of Ehlonna. It is nearly impervious to harm, and will not harm you by touch unless your heart bears the taint of evil and corruption."

Lady Abigail says, “...The staff was taken by Vulka for a specific purpose; the staff belonged to an order of Druids known as The Woodland Sentinels, who made their home at the edge of the Dim Forest. They were followers of Meilikki, and they were tasked with not only protecting the Dim Forest from despoilers, but also keeping the Great Portal open; the Great Portal is a doorway between four sacred trees, which allows the Druids from three different orders, in three different parts of the world, to travel to the Great Tree Temple in Krigala, the domain of the two sisters, Ehlonna and Meilikki. Needless to say, the Great Portal is essential to the faiths of the two sisters; the staff, known as the Key of Krigala, is the means by which the portal is made active. The portal has been closed for three years, ever since Vulka and her minions wiped out The Sentinels and took the staff. It was unknown who had perpetrated this foul deed until about three months ago, when an agent of mine discovered the truth. If you can obtain the key, your compatriot Lathir can use it to open the portal once more. It merely takes the touch of one who is pledged to Meilikki’s service to awaken the powers of The Key. Once you have it, I can take you to the tree myself; it is a mere 30 miles north of here.”


During the next ten months, several things occur:

Vale cast Speak With Dead with the following results:

OOC:
DM NOTE: Between the three heads, and multiple castings of the spells, Vale obtains the answers he seeks.

Questions:
1) Who compensated the orc army? I did (Nosnra.)
2) How was the orc army compensated? With the signing of an alliance.
3) How many levels of dungeon are under the steading? Just the cellar, although there are deeper natural caves.
4) Who will replace you now that you are dead? Nosnra's Daughter will become the new Hill Giant Queen.
5) If you had to leave the Steading in retreat, where would you go? Southwest, into the Crystalmysts, to the Glacial Rift.

6) What is the least defended entrance to the steading? The rear entrance.
7) Who are the spellcasters in or near the steading? Vulka, Darris, Quinnlan, Varnella, Vlagg, Cyndalla, Morienne, and Lorella.

8) What is Glimval's most significant weakness? I do not know who Glimval is.
9) Where is the treasure room under the steading? Near the bottom of the stairs, behind a secret door.
10) What traps are set to protect the treasure room? There is a pit trap.

11) What will the other giants and orcs do now that you are dead? Continue the war to reclaim our ancestral lands.
12) How much treasure is in the treasure room? A fortune in gold and magic.
13) What will the trolls do if the underground is invaded? They will fight to the bitter end, and savagely kill any invaders.
14) What will draw the trolls out of the underground? The Trolls go where Brunk commands them to go.
15) Who is in command of the red orcs? Lieutenant Gozer of Brahnn.

16) What will happen if Steading is attacked from the outside? It will be defended.
17) What different ways exist to enter the steading? Front, back, and side.
18) Who are the giants' allies? The Drow, The Jarl, The Fire King, The Pomarj Orcs, The Skull Seekers, The Arm Breakers, and their master, Myth.
19) Who are the giants' enemies? The Humans, Dwarves, Halflings, Elves, and Gnomes of Geoff.
20) Where are the giants' allies? The Drow are below, The Jarl is in the Rift, The King is deep within, The Orcs are on the move, the Bugbears and Trolls are with us. We do not know where the master is.

21) Where are the giant's enemies? Everywhere.
22) What is the plan for the steading? Expansion and reinforced fortifications.
23) Do you have spies? Yes.
24) Who are your spies? The Drow.
25) Where are your spies? Everywhere.

26) How did you obtain the Helm of Veldomar? It was Kraven's reward, for serving the Drow mistress.
27) Will anyone attempt to locate the Helm of Veldomar? I don't know.
28) How did you obtain the Staff of Krigala? Queen Vulka ripped it from a dead Druid's hands.
29) Where is the Staff of Krigala? In the cold bowels of the Rift.
30) Who has the Staff of Krigala? The Great Jarl of the Rift.


Other things that happen during that time period:

Lady Abigail introduces the party to a powerful ally, her lover, Ellis Kvar, the Hierophant Druid of the Vesve Forest.

During their 10-month stay, any mages in the party enjoy unlimited access to Abigail’s spellbook library; a few of them are hers, but fully hundreds, perhaps thousands of them, are obviously captured spellbooks, from enemies long dead.

During the first two weeks of downtime, Abigail gathers the party together and says. “I have been scrying on the Steading, and I have news; Nosnra’s daughter, Varnella, has assumed leadership of the remaining Hill Giants. There are only 6 Hill Giants left, or 7, counting her. She is being advised and counseled by a Drow Wizard named Glimval, who also seems to be her lover. She has the support of the Troll and Bugbear tribes also, but from what I can surmise by listening in on their conversations, both the Trolls and the Bugbears see Glimval as the true leader at this point.”

Abigail pauses a moment, then continues, “I cannot scry upon the Troll leader, Brunk, nor upon the Troll Shaman, Vlagg, but I know they exist, from the context of what I overheard. I also have previous knowledge of the Armbreaker Tribe; they are minions of my enemy, Myth, and I know that he has bred with them. Many of them no doubt have Dragon blood coursing through their veins, and are probably resistant to fire; if you approach the Steading again, be prepared to deal with them. Being among his strongest minions, I have no doubt that Myth has shielded them somehow from scrying. Besides Brunk and Vlagg, there are 18 Troll Warriors in the Steading; and they are supported by Wyggum Vrendar, Chief Bugbear of the Skullseeker Tribe, and I count 51 Bugbears, all armed with crude armor and weaponry; apparently, the Drow-crafted equipment that the Giants enjoyed did not make its way to their weaker allies. I have also been able to determine that there are 3 Drow Clerics in the steading, who seem to be giving Glimval his orders. But even these 3 sisters are not in charge; they have been sending magical messages to a Drow Priestess by the name of Eclavdra.”

Nelvandra gasps at the mention of that name. “Oh, no!” she exclaims. “The Grand High Enforcer of Lolth, second only to the Queen. This does not bode well.”

Abigail nods, continuing, “Fortunately, although the Trolls serve Myth, I do not believe there to be any dialogue between Myth and The Drow. The Trolls talk constantly of the need for the Drow Sisters to raise Nosnra from the dead, but they keep refusing, citing the fact that his failure in battle has angered Lolth. This is a point in our favor.”

Abigail turns to Dewydd, as if he had posed a question, despite his silence this whole time: “By the way, three days ago, I visited the Giants at their campsite, and they were exactly where Collin told them to be. I opened a portal for them, depositing them about three miles away from your manor house, in a small copse of trees. I told them to wait for nightfall, and to approach your house and ask for lodging. I gave them a token of mine, that will prove their good intentions to anyone who sees it; it bears the Holy Mark of Bahamut. Barring any unforeseen complications, they are resting comfortably now within the confines of your estate.”

GM: SIDENOTE: Kleborn and Thallok have actually sworn oaths not only to serve Lady Abigail, but also to act as direct agents of Bahamut. (i.e., to join his church.); Sylvar has pledged to serve Abigail, but has stated that his deitific fealty belongs to Uller. Tam has sworn to serve Lady Abigail "in his own way," and Lathir has stated, just as Sylvar did, that although his deitific fealty belongs to Meilikki, he will aid Lady Abigail however he can. In a similar fashion, Dewydd, owing his deitific fealty to Tritherion, has also pledged to help Lady Abigail however he can. Respen has said that he will aid Lady Abigail, but that he has other obligations to tend to first. THAT'S 7 PARTY MEMBERS. I still need responses to Lady Abigail (Yes / No on the question of helping her) for the following party members: Vale, Sir Duncan, and Lady Ebony. Travis and Lenny are not expected to do anything, and neither is Nelvandra.


[/sblock]

[sblock=Dame Clare's Mental Message to Respen]
"I have been working on a spell lately, which has consumed much of my time. That is the reason I have been out of contact. I noticed that you are in a location that cannot be scried by normal means, so I invoked the power of the Orb; your hostess, Lady Abigail, is quite impressive. She must be ancient indeed, to be so beautiful. The humanoid forms of metallic Dragons get more comely with age, and judging by her angelic appearance, I would surmise that she is no younger than 2,000 years in age. Take my advice, learn all that you can from her, she is a powerful ally to have. And do not tell her than I am able to fully scry her domicile through my connection with you; she might not take too kindly to that knowledge. She knows of the Orb, but it is probable that she does not know the extent of its powers, else she would have banished you from her tower."

Dame Clare pauses briefly, before continuing: "Things in Shalistaurimon are heating up. We've had an incursion by the Illithids recently, which resulted in one of the High Daughters of Lolth being taken captive by them. The fiends are demanding either a million pieces of gold, or a thousand male Drow slaves, for her safe return. I suspect that no Drow male who is not an only child will be safe from the Dark Sisterhood; they are loathe to part with wealth, but they will gladly give up expendable resources on behalf of a sister."

Dame Clare chuckles lightly, before moving on to the next subject: "Serindak is in trouble. He sent me a mental message about a week ago; he is helping me find an item of extreme importance, which I must have at ALL costs. All of my plans hinge on finding it. It is an artifact known as the Helm of Selreen. Serindak went to seek the aid of a Sphinx known far and wide as Khubsheth The Prophet, hoping he might know something about where the helm could be or about who could have it. Khubsheth attacked him, forcing him into gaseous form. Serindak slipped past the Sphinx, and discovered that the statue that he rests in front of conceals a hidden passage, which leads to some sort of tomb. Serindak decided to explore the tomb, in hopes of finding something there that might be useful. The last mental message that Serindak sent to me was that he no longer cared to seek Khubsheth's advice, when he could have the counsel of the Dark Queen. Then, I suddenly lost contact with my childe, and have not heard from him since. I can feel that his essence still exists, that he has not been destroyed, but also that he is no longer on the web of blood, i.e., I can no longer feel his thoughts, nor his blood connection. It's as if he no longer has a physical form. I am not sure what to make of that, except that it cannot mean anything good."

Dame Clare pauses again, before finally coming to her point: "I know that Abigail wants you to return to the Steading, and destroy Brunk and the other minions of her rival, and to find the Key of Krigala for her, but finding the Helm of Selreen is a far more important task, one that cannot be put aside. I would like for you to seek out this Khubsheth, and find out what happened to Serindak. I doubt he would attack one so amiable as you. I think Serindak probably fell victim to the prejudice borne of his eight-legged form. In that regard, I would surmise that you could succeed where he failed. The priority is to discover whether or not Khubsheth knows anything about the Helm of Selreen. If he does not, then your second priority should be to ask him about the tomb below the statue, and inquire as to what fate Serindak might have met by venturing into that place. The Perch of Khubsheth is at the base of a large, sandstone statue, in the Kingdom of Ull, in the hills just south of Kester. The statue is a remnant of a fallen kingdom; it is a depiction of the Sphinx Queen, Ankharet. I suspect that she might be the Dark Queen that Serindak was referring to, which probably means that she is some form of powerful undead being. Finding Serindak will be a dangerous undertaking, but it must be done, because Serindak is too important for me to simply abandon him. YOU MUST DO THIS FOR ME. You will be generously rewarded if you succeed; your party is now large enough that a few of you could split off to do my errand, while the others return to the Steading. Or perhaps you could talk all of them into helping you. Those matters, I will leave to your clever little mind."

Dame Clare continues, giving Respen more relevant information: "I have been scrying the Steading. There are a few things you should take note of. The Orcs were non-plussed to find most of the inhabitants dead upon their arrival. The entire force has left the canyon, and is heading Southeast, into the Stark Mounds, where there are known to be large tribes of Hobgoblins. My guess is that the Orcs are less of an attack force, and more of a recruitment force. They are carrying extra weapons and armor, which they could no doubt give as gifts to potential allies, and there are many expert soldiers among the Orcs who could train potential allies in the areas of weapon use and battlefield tactics. They're laying the groundwork for something big, and the Giants were only a small part of their overall plan."

Dame Clare's tone becomes more serious as she moves on to the next topic: "The three Drow Clerics in the Steading are gearing up for some major rituals. They are preparing to resurrect Delliak, Darris, Nosnra, and Kraven, along with three of the Hill Giant Commanders, but not in their original forms; having failed Lolth, they will likely all return to life as giant-sized Driders. They are also casting many divinations, and asking a lot of questions about the Lady of the Hool, which I believe to be a very old Black Dragon, from the way they talk about her. I'm not sure what they want with a Dragon, but it cannot be good for your newfound allies. YOU SHOULD USE THIS INFORMATION TO GAIN THE SUPPORT OF YOUR FRIENDS. Tell them that these rituals will require a lot of prep time, and that I will aid you in their defeat, if you will do this thing for me FIRST. And like I said before, all of you don't have to go; but some of you must. YOU YOURSELF MUST GO, FOR SURE. It would be wise for ALL of you to go, although I doubt that all of them would agree to act in my service. I must return to my spell now, but I will contact you later. Act in haste, my little Elfling, and do NOT fail me."
[/sblock]

[sblock=Respen's post where he explained to the party what he had to do for Clare.]

Dame Clare reaches out

Respen bolted upright in bed. Clare’s mental communication wasn’t subtle as normal. Something was wrong. Her mental voice was normally soothing, thick with what Nel described as “Drow of high station” accent just as her regular voice was.
This was louder with a sense of urgency and concern. No mention of the twins, nor Nel. There was more storytelling to it, but it was strained, as if taking the time to tell the story was labored. She was selling him on taking this mission, despite their both understanding his oath.
He leaned in and kissed Nel on the neck, checked on their infant children, and moved quietly and quickly into the antechamber, answering mentally with a single mental response which he allowed Nel to hear as well.

~Clare, I will. ~

He hoped Dame Clare understood that he understood, and he hoped Nel would understand as well. He proceeded to dress and collect himself, preparing his gear and himself, his daily spells and magic enchantments. It was early outside, and clouds currently obscured the sky.
It was dreary and warm, despite Abigail’s magical climate control within.

Two parts of the story disturbed him: that she was sending him after Serindak, and the clerics presence and their activities.
He had no real interest in undertaking anything where Serindak was concerned. The spider form to which she referred was anathema to Respen as well.
If he was met with antipathy from Khubsheth for any reason, Respen was perfectly fine with it.

~ Clare, can you hinder, or better, cripple the clerics’ efforts? One of our company acquired the giants’ heads, and we have them. Surely that presents a challenge to Lolth’s people? Why on Oerth would Lolth care enough to resurrect this sorry lot? ~

Respen headed down the steps to the outbuilding first. Vale kept early hours, and he hoped their magical work together in the last months had made them friends. He found Vale firmly into his work, his prayers finished hours before and his hands full with hot metal and magicks.
He listened intently to Respen’s relaying of information; Respen gave him the high points on Clare’s request, and the whole part of her promise.

Vale replied, “ Laddie, I’m amused by the mischief you get yourself, but I’m not eager to assist with your witch-queen’s errands. That said, I’ll go with you, if for no other reason than to prevent you having more unwise notions. I can be ready tomorrow.

Respen thought to himself, ~That’s one.~

He called the fellowship together at early afternoon mealtime, where it happened that all were present. Respen laid out his plan, “I have been summoned to retrieve an artifact, by purpose or by accident. And I could use your help. I've heard that the orcs outside the Steading have moved on, at least for now, to the Stark Mounds. However, evil grows within the Steading again. The giants were puppets, and their puppeteer is attempting to bring them back from the dead. You'll recall that Sylvar was saved from a curse from the Solar. They are preparing evil rituals to give Vulka and her ilk form again. I've been offered assistance from my mistress. She will aid us in round two. However, she needs an artifact first. I must go; my oath constitutes a powerful and binding magical contract. I request your assistance."

Respen addresses Abigail as well, "Your Grace, I want to thank you for your tutelage and these months of respite, training, and kindness, to myself and Nel and my infant twins. I owe you the Key of Krigala, and it was my cause as an upspoken oath to you to retrieve it. I owe a similar oath to a mentor, Laramon, in Dyvers. I must do this other first. I'm sorry. The Helm of Selreen has higher priority, and I must find the Prophet Khubsheth in the Kingdom of Ull. I will do my work quickly, and Corellon-willing, I shall return to visit pain on the Steading and chase them from the region for good. If any of you wish to remain to attack the Steading and pursue the Key sooner rather than later, I shall respect your decision. We shall part as friends, and I will join you when I can."

At this point, Vale makes it clear that he will go with Respen. He places the bags with the giants' magically resposed (preserved) heads into the floor. And he places parchment with the questions and answers from the giants written on them on a table for Abigail, "This is everything I could glean from those tossers. Their heads are in those bags, and I've kept them nice and squishy for the last ten months. I don't think anybody will get them back among the living without their heads, and if they find a way, it will take a considerable amount of time, resources, and divine magic to do it. They'll keep. We have a little time. "

Respen says to the group, "I'll leave you to your choices, but I must leave tomorrow. Now, I must see about Nel. She and I must have a discussion about what to do with the children. Abigail, Ebony, I don't know how you feel about this, but Nel certainly values your counsel. Would you be so kind as to make yourselves available to her after we discuss what happens next?"

He proceeds back to Nel, hoping she will take his decision in stride. 'Decision'. If that's what it really is. Upon seeing her, he is struck by how strikingly beautiful she is. Her figure returned immediately, typical of most elves, but she looked 30 years younger, and radiant. Motherhood became her. It was common among the Drow, and for that matter, surface elves, to leave their young in the care of nannies or other family whilst they continue to adventure, explore, or in the Enllaves, performed hunting or trade missions. He looked at her, genuine admiration and affection in his eyes, and asked her a question, "Nel, I have to go. Clare calls. What do you want to do?" He knew the answer; she knew it too. He asked it because that's what loving parents do with each other when they are parents and obligation makes them have to choose between duty and their children. One of them had to remain with the children, and it couldn't him, or neither of them would remain with the children, and someone else could potentially raise them. "If you choose to go, we need to leave the little ones. And we need to leave them here, if Abigail is willing. They can not be detected here. I have not choice. I have been summoned."

The weight of the decision and what the others decided was as stuffy and heavy and suffocating as the summer warmth outside.
[/sblock]
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
OOC: Lathir had already agreed to assist Respen on his mandatory quests. I know of no necessary preparations other than memorizing spells.
 

Waynan

Explorer
Margull grins at Respen's cold declaration, "My dear Respen, you should ask your little friend Tam here, whether or not he thinks that's a good idea. The actions that you propose could very well start an invisible, private war amongst the guilds. We do not yet know the extent of the Brotherhood's influence. Now is the time for gathering information, not for stirring the pot."
Tam speaks up, first looking at Respen; then, looking to all:

"Respen, Friend Sylvar, everyone...Margull speaks correctly. There would be a massive clandestine war between every guildhall in Dyvers that would spread all over. Not Just Greyhawk City, either; but, also to Furyondy, and the other realms and kingdoms surrounding Dyvers. Worse, every guild would also have an internal feud. Everyone would distrust everyone else within their own guilds and pure anarchy would abound. Not that in my profession this would necessarily be a bad thing...at first; but even a rogue knows that, eventually, nothing would get made, crafted, built and the quality of liftable goods wouldn't be worth the burgling, and the empty purses of fat merchants and guildsmen wouldn't be worth the nicking."

Still looking around at everyone:

"There are those in high guild positions, after this night, who are realizing that they have been duped, and are either destroying the evidence of their being played as gulls, pawns and dupes, or are readying to go after the ones who duped them, themselves. I did what I did for someone who had found himself duped; but wanted the embarrassment of it all covered up. Then, he would handle it...our way."

Tamartamlin blushes a little at the last statement:

"I see some of you are looking a bit shocked at this admission of, what is it you call it Lord Mayor? --- Aiding and Abedding?; but, I assure you, I had no idea it involved the hated Scarlet Brotherhood...nor do I believe Palimov did when he was drawn into this "organization". That's why, when it was revealed to him as to what was afoot, he commanded me to perform the assassination attempt on the Doppleganger."

Tam then addresses Lord Margull:

"You, sir, have asked of our services to retrieve certain 'lost' articles, as has nearly every guild and church in this city. So, even though we have, shall we say 'bent', the laws of the land, and shrunk your assets from time to time, we have a particular skill set that you have all desired and required of our guild and its members. Thus, I say,"

Tam looks for Palimov, but seeing he wasn't in the room, he forges forward, not caring whether he gets Pamilov's approval or not...

"Here we are, at your service, for the right price of course. Our guild can seek out and eliminate these infiltrators, but under the table, as it were, not in an open pogrom."

At this, Tam ends his speech/sales pitch, waiting for a reply, whether of recrimination or affirmation.
 
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MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Lathir Takes an Interest

Tam speaks up, first looking at Respen; then, looking to all:

"Respen, Friend Sylvar, everyone...Margull speaks correctly. There would be a massive clandestine war between every guildhall in Dyvers that would spread all over..."
Lathir gives a quiet deep chuckle. "Well done Little Man. Well done. I am often accused of refusing to mince words, cutting to the quick, for I choose truth over vanity."

"I could not have conveyed such in better terms if had tried. This particular note you emphasized first is paramount in the speech, for the results could not play better into the hands of our mostly unknown corruptors. Before a strong enemy can be conquered, it must be undermined from within so that the infighting and distrust that results engenders a quick defeat from without."

"I propose that we keep the bulk of this new information to ourselves as a boon against our enemies knowledge of ourselves. It will allow us to more effectively pursue our enemy without tipping our hand."

"If it be deemed odd to incur the involvement of a druid such as myself, let me clarify that this is a considerable disruption of harmony, a poisoning of the well that maintains the balance of society."
 

Damionte

Explorer
Duncan & Company :

At some point when the question is posed as to rather or not Duncan and Ebony as the Heads of The Moore Company would accept Lady Abigails offer of patron-ship.
"My lady speaking on behalf of Dame Moore as well, our direct loyalty is already pledged to another. But in worldly and spiritual manners, but we feel it an honor to be given such an offer. You should consider yourself a friend of the Moore company, and as such should you need our security services we would offer a significant discount should you hire the company for specific tasks. We would happily accept any such offers of employment as long as they do not conflict with the previous noted prior allegiances we have."

----

As for marching on the steading once more.
"I would once again offer the services of my company if it is your desire to march on the steading once more. I can have a platoon of soldiers whistled up in short order. Should you require a larger or more powerful force, that will take time and resources to drum up but it could be done. Leading them in the field would be my pleasure should we agree to adequate compensation."
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
SYLVAR'S SIDEBAR AND PALLENDER'S RECONNAISSANCE REPORT

GM:
Important Dates:

Downtime Began:
Patchwall 23, C.Y. 963

Dewydd's Party / Interrogation of Brotherhood Operatives:
Reaping 03, C.Y. 964

Birth of Respen & Nel's Twins @ Abigail's Tower:
Reaping 05, C.Y. 964

Sylvar's Journey to the City of Dane (via Teleport):
Reaping 19, C.Y. 964
(Respen helps cast the spell, but does not go with him.)
Collin accompanies Sylvar on his trip to the temple.

3 Days of Feasting (Temple in Dane):
Reaping 20,21, and 23, C.Y. 964

Sylvar's Ceremony (Temple in Dane):
Reaping 24, C.Y. 964

Sylvar Returns (via Succor Disc) to Abigail's Tower:
Reaping 25, C.Y. 964

Clare's Mental Message to Respen:
Goodmonth 11, C.Y. 964

Abigail's Report to the Party (Pallender's Findings):
Goodmonth 13, C.Y. 964

Downtime Officially Ends:
Goodmonth 22, C.Y. 964


[sblock=What The Solar Said (Everyone Can Read This; Hidden For Post Brevity.)]
Lastly, the Solar points out, “As a parting gift, all of the items you were planning to take from the ground level of this place are now within the confines of your magical pit, including the contents of Vulka’s and Delliak’s hidden treasure chests. There is still more treasure below, in the cellar, but you will need to wrest the master key from the Troll Lord’s grasp, if you hope to claim it. You now have 10 minutes or so before the Orcs are upon you. Uller wishes you well, in whichever endeavor you decide to pursue. Know that sometime within the next year, you must visit his temple in The Great Kundarian Seameast, in the city of Dane. There will you undergo the purification ritual. In the meantime, know that Uller has invested you with special powers, powers which you will begin to discover over the next few weeks. Use these powers in fulfillment of his greater glory. You are the chosen one, the one among Frey’s people, who is destined to unite the three shattered tribes. Your life shall be long, and your glories great.”
[/sblock]

When Sylvar arrives at the temple in Dane, he is amazed. The layout and decor of the temple are in the ancient style, and walking into this place is like stepping back over a thousand years into the past. The floors are polished granite, as is the ceiling, and the walls are smooth sandstone, which have been carved with thousands upon thousands of intricate runes, which the priests explain as being the chronicle of this temple over the last fifteen centuries, since its founding and dedication. They explain that the temple stands upon consecrated ground, and that the walls are enchanted to remain strong and clean, so that the temple's story shall be preserved for all time. The temple is huge, the main worship area being 120 feet wide, and over 500 feet long. The ceilings are vaulted, ranging from 12 to 60 feet in height. The areas behind the temple, where the priests have their residence, are massive as well, albeit without the vaulted ceilings. The temple is filled with massive torches, which adorn the hundreds of columns, providing light and warmth, proof against the continual winter conditions outside. Grated vents in the ceiling allow all of the smoke to escape. Massive wooden beams reinforce the ceiling's superstructure.

At the Northern end of the worship area is a raised dais and a massive granite altar. There are two rows of massive wooden pews, and in the middle of the worship area, is a clearing, where stands a massive feasting table, used for special feasts of religious significance. The table looks to be capable of seating 102 people; 1 at each head, and 50 on each side.

The priests greet Sylvar, and welcome him to the temple, showing him to his quarters, before telling the handmaidens to escort him to the bathing pool. Nothing sexual ensues, as this whole endeavor is aimed at Sylvar's purification. The handmaidens help to bathe him, not only with lye and warm water, but also with scented oils, and specially prepared mud, along with various herbs and fruits which have been mashed into a pulpy paste. The whole process takes almost two hours; when the bath is complete, Sylvar feels cleaner and more refreshed than he has ever felt in his entire life. The priests give him purple silk robes and fine, brown leather slippers to wear while in the temple; the clothes are a great fit, and are very comfortable. Sylvar is then led around the temple, and given the grand tour.

That evening, there is a great feast in Sylvar's honor, which to Sylvar's surprise, lasts the entire evening, until midnight, pausing for eight hours, before beginning again; and this pattern continues for the next two days! Over the course of that time, Sylvar spends all of his daytime hours in celebration, feasting, drinking, dancing, and sparring. His nights are spent in a restful state, and he notices that the combination of activities expends sufficient energy so as to prevent him from feeling gorged and/or bloated. The days are exhausting, resulting in deep, restful sleep over the course of the night.

On the 4th day, after 3 days of celebration, Sylvar is initiated into the church of Uller, in a ceremony that lasts for eight hours. During the ceremony, Sylvar spends 2 hours chanting and praying, but the rest of the time is spent performing challenges that test his strength, endurace, willpower, and fighting prowess. The culmination is an archery contest, in which Sylvar barely edges out the temple's high priest, to win highest honors. Afterwards, the priest informs him that his victory was foreseen, and that Uller's blessing now rests upon him, his victory in the contest ensuring his place as Uller's chosen champion.

After a night of much-needed rest, Sylvar returns to Hochoch the next day, via a Succor Disc that the priest had prepared in advance. Sylvar appears on the road, about a mile outside the city, and he and Collin enjoy a leisurely walk back to Abigail's tower.

On the 13th day of the following month, Pallender Nightwind returns to Lady Abigail's tower, and reports his findings to her. The party is present for the meeting, and Abigail tells him to hold nothing back, saying that the party are her trusted agents, and should know all of the details of his report.

Pallender says, "My Lady, the denizens of the fort have been hard at work. I managed to get inside the ground level of the fort and have a look around. There are three Drow priestesses there, all sisters, who wield tremendous power. All of the dead Giants have been raised as Zombies. The ground has been consecrated with some sort of ward, I'm not sure what its function is, but I suffered no ill effects while walking around. They have also raised Nosnra, Delliak, and Kraven, restoring them completely to life, only to then put them through a ritual which disfigured them horribly; they are all now giant-sized Driders, a punishment for their failure in the battle."

Abigail frowns, clearly worried about this turn of events. She nods at Pallender, and he continues.

Pallender goes on to say, "Vulka was restored to life as well, but her will is not her own, and her bodily form has been greatly altered; she is merely a vessel now, a physical, worldly apparatus for the spirit of a great demoness; her torso now has 6 limbs, each of which wield deadly, demonic-looking blades. Her legs are now gone, and in their place, the body of a massive snake. A friend of mine knowledgeable in such lore says that she is now a type of demon known as a Marilith. She was frightening to behold! I must admit, though I was safe in ethereal form, her cold voice made me tremble with fear."

Abigail gasps in astonishment. Pallender holds up his index finger, politely indicating that she should allow him to continue.

Pallender continues, "I overheard them talking strategy. The Drow Mage known as Glimval, and his lover, the Giantess Bard known as Varnella, are still in charge of raids, and the plan is to use a small band comprised of Hill Giants, Troll Warriors, and Bugbears. The main level of the Steading is being guarded by the Giant Zombies, which is a good move on their part, since such sentries never look away and never tire. Assaulting that place will prove to be a formidable task, for there are no battle tactics which can succeed against a foe who can not be distracted or discouraged. All of the living residents of the place, Giant, Troll, and Bugbear alike, all live on the basement level now. Nothing living stirs on the ground level."

[sblock=According to Pallender, the total combined forces of the Steading can be summarized as follows:]

18 Troll Warriors, 1 Troll Shaman, 1 Troll Chief
3 Stone Giant Miners (Don't appear to be fighting types)
Varnella, The Beautiful Giantess (Bard)
6 Hill Giants (Well armed / armored, as before)
16 Hill Giant Zombies
1 Bugbear Captain
4 Bugbear Lieutenants
47 Bugbear Warriors
Glimval The Dark (Drow Wizard)
3 Female Drow Clerics (Cyndalla, Morienne, and Lorella)
Delliak (Giant Drider)
Kraven (Giant Drider)
Nosnra (Giant Drider)
Vulka (Giant Marilith)
[/sblock]

EVERYONE: What do you want to do?
 
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Damionte

Explorer
During the meeting:

Ducan gave the report some thought, his battlefield experience lead him to give a long low whistle. "This is troubling news. It is obvious that given time this force will continue to be a growing source of conflict. Logic dictates we take steps to crush them shortly before they can continue to grow."

"The forces as scouted though would be a tough nut to crack. Were I planning this assault I would start with a core force of approximately 300 sword arms. Plus additional support units. Archers, and cavalry. We'd need to recruit enough priests and war-mages to support the troops. Plus a few groups of specialists. Adventurers to scout and keep tabs on the force, as well as acting as specialist strike teams. Plus the supplies and currency to provide for and keep such a force on retainer during the march. Together we have enough contacts to get this started. Such a force would need some time to train up and organize. But there's a bigger concern."

"Before we can put any of that together, steps will need to be taken to neutralize what seem to be very powerful spell casters. The force I envision could march well against a conventional ground force, but this is no conventional force. These casters could devastate large groups of our warriors before they could get within sword range. Or invest their giant allies with such magics that our simple swords and arrows could not hope to overcome them even in a swarm. Am but a soldier, I have seen the effects spell slingers can have on the battlefield, but countering such magics though is not within my realm of ability."
 

Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Abigal says, "Frontal assault might not be the best way to go about this; on an open battlefield, their combined force is mighty indeed. But consider this: there are spells that can render one invisible to undead; if you could infiltrate the top level, and bypass the zombies, you could then deal with the remainder of the force in confined quarters, facing a few at a time, rather than the whole host at once. This is not a task for the faint of heart, but for adventurers skilled enough to have conquered the first level in a straight-up brawl, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. But Duncan is right in one respect; when you go there, you should be prepared to deal with the Drow Clerics, and with the Marilith; those are the biggest threats. This is only my opinion. Does anyone else wish to weigh in?"
 

Sylvar B.

Explorer
Sylvar responds with a frustrated tone "...We keep finding reasons to ignore our main course...first we jumped through that damned portal, then we spend months lounging about, "

Sylvar softens his tone and thanks Lady Abigail for her hospitality, then reverts to frustration, "...all the while, the enemy is regrouping, planning and furthering their aims. If we are going to take care of business lets take care of business, if we are going to play around lets do that, but all this back and forth is maddening...I'll go with Respen as promised, but I won't have some loony hill giants hell bent on world domination to take away my ability to live and go where I please...so lets go get Dame Clare's trinket, and take care of those Hill Giants while there is still something worth saving....Now, I'm going to find a tavern with good ale, and a bar maid to get into trouble with...I'll send a messenger with my location...when you get ready to leave let me know."

That said, Sylvar marches out of the room in a huff.
 
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Tellerian Hawke

Defender of Oerth
Collin Speaks Up

Collin, who was also present for the meeting, adds his two cents. He manages to say this before Sylvar stamps away in a huff.

Collin says, "From what I remember from my time disguised as a Hill Giant inside the Steading, the only real changes to their forces involve the presence of the Troll Lord, Troll Shaman, the 3 Driders, and the Marilith. The Troll Warriors were always there, being promised by Brunk, the Troll Lord, to assist the Hill Giants. Apparently, when your party killed several of Brunk's men on your patrol raids before assaulting the Steading, he became concerned and showed up in person. And apparently, his advisor (the Shaman) came with him. The Drow Priestesses have always been present in the Steading, although they come and go sometimes; once, they were absent for almost a week, for reasons unknown to me. Duncan is correct, the three Drow sisters are powerful spellcasters, and should not be underestimated. The four Giants who have now been turned into monsters represent the true 'increase' in the fort's compliment. So they haven't really increased their numbers at all, they have simply consolidated and concentrated their power. Having said that, I think it likely that the Drow will also recruit other Giant clans to their banner, perhaps some of the Frost and Fire Giants who live not too distant from the Steading. You should act in haste, before that becomes a reality. But I think you also have time to tie up the other loose end for Respen's mistress; in your absence, I shall do daily fly-bys of the Steading, to see if there are any major movements occurring."
 

MacConnell

Creator of The Untamed Wilds
Lathir scoffs, "Of course if I had not jumped through the portal, we would be no where near advancing on our enemy, and if Respen would have followed..."

He lets that one trail off. "One step at a time. I feel a hand of great power involved in all of this, all of this."
 

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