Lizard folk in disguise
Constructs and Observations.
Floating in the middle of somewhere, I could do little more than wait. The flickering lights surrounded and defined the place with a dim glow like the clearest night sky full of bright stars. In the distance trailed away from me strands of light and darkness. Both shed light around themselves, although how the dark strands did this, was a mystery. I didn’t understand the place I was in; if it was in my head, if I was projecting my soul somewhere else, but its twilight like beauty was undeniable. But I wasn’t here because I wanted to view the scenery. My last visit was confounding; a strange place and even stranger revelations; neither which I understood. But while the nature of the place eluded me, it was the revelations I wanted to discuss. Or I supposed, demand it be discussed.
So, I wasn’t shocked at all at the lack of a response from the construct. The last time, I left with only a partial answer, and a last moment understanding that it was my celestial father was tied to this…place. Or perhaps it was more accurate to say, he tied to me to it. I was bound to these strands unable to escape them, much like a fly in a spider’s web. But it didn’t volunteer this information then either. I demanded it, got a response I would have expected from a modron, and then only then, learned the sender behind it. So, I waited for an inevitable answer, strung in complex jargon and phrasing. A ‘no.’ But now I hung there, waiting. I had expected a swift denial. But, somewhere in this place, the construct was doing something I couldn’t perceive.
“Element Myrai—" started the monotone voice of the construct echoed in my head, startling me. “—you have already been informed on the purpose of your duties. There is no need—”
“—Pike it!” I spat aloud. “I understand my ‘duties’ just fine. Never mind I had to browbeat it out of you. And I’m done with that as well. I want to communicate with my father, not you.”
“Element Myrai must then demonstrate knowledge pertaining to their—”
“—No.” I said pointedly.
There was an awkward silence for a moment, and the construct started again. “Element Myrai must comply, and demonstrate—”
“—No,” I said crossing my arms and I glanced around the space. “I will not play this game. So tell my father I want to speak to him, now.”
Once again there was empty silence as I floated there. “Construct is unable to comply with element Myrai’s request.”
I looked around me, as if I would find a source of the voice in my head. I wanted to glare and focus my annoyance on something tangible. But, I straightened up and said, “Well then. Element Myrai is unable to comply with further…what did you call it, ‘passive with active engagement with proto-petitioners.’ Go find someone else.”
“Other options are not longer viable. Element Myrai must comply and perform duties.” The construct rumbled in my head.
“No longer ‘viable?’ What in Baator does that mean?”
“Your predecessors have been discorporatated. You are the last viable candidate.”
My curiosity got the better of my willpower as I slowly asked, “What does that mean…discorporated? Dead?”
“Simplistic. The soulcase is dead. However, the soul has been—”
“—What reborn? Am I it?”
“No. The soul no longer exists.”
“No…longer…exists,” I enunciated slowly, feeling cold. “So…gone…forever.”
“This is accurate.”
My stomach clenched at the thought, and I shook my head. That was a fate reserved for souls beyond redemption, and not fit to be reborn. It was said that Kelemvor would judge souls, and those deemed faithless or false, would be entombed into the ‘Wall of the Faithless’ and be absorbed into it. But I also had heard that in the lower planes, souls were placed into something called a ‘soul coin’ that could be traded…or consumed by the immortals there. It was a horrid concept that a soul of any worth could be eliminated that way. But this only steeled my resolve.
“Then if I am the last option, if I am at risk of ‘discorporation,’ I think…no demand that I talk to him, and get some answers,” I said through clenched teeth, my frustration starting to change into anger. “Why should I risk this? Why should I care?”
“It is imperative that element Myrai comply.”
“No,” I said calmly. “I have survived a lot, but I am sure I could find something to kill me. You can force me back like you did the first, and I’ll just keep trying. Because I have a hunch, is that someone is out of time. Aren’t you?”
There was another round of silence, and after a moment it responded, almost managing to sound resigned. "Construct will make arrangements,” I was about to object, but it continued. “Paternal figure cannot be easily reached at this time. A message will be sent with your...threat.”
I frowned but I realized that this construct of magic couldn’t compel a celestial to do anything. Being this was the best offer that could be made I grudgingly nodded, “Fine. You do that. I won’t wait forever though.”
“A reply of some nature will be forthcoming. Observation, element Myrai is obstinate and willful, similar to her—”
“—just like my father. Figures.”
“Incorrect. Traits are similar, but not the same. Element Myrai best resembles her predecessor.”
That stopped me short as I thought about it and realized something, “Predecessor? My father had other children before me. So, I had a half-sibling?”
“A…sister? A brother?”
“The element Cryl identified as male.”
“Cryl,” I said quietly. A name. Names have power, and this one unlocked a longing I hadn’t felt in a long time. I had only one other I considered family, but she was kin by necessity, to survive growing up. I missed her greatly. But not once had I considered that I had anything more than an absent father or a dead mother.
“I will have to ask about him as well,” I said to myself, and then addressed the construct. “How long will this take?”
“Several sunrises. You will know when it is time. You may depart after some infusion of loci.”
“Wha…oh no! Not that agai—” and I was cut off as a pair of strands, one light and one dark, flew straight into me from the darkness. It was more painful than the last time, but I soon shook in the afterglow as the power flowed into me, taking my breath away. I watched with mouth agape as the strands bound themselves, and wove together into even more intricate braid. I felt out of breath, and it took me a moment to finally utter, “Could you…at least…warn me first?”
“Assimilation of loci complete. Configuration of loci for offensive and informative functions,” the construct intoned.
“End of Construct.”
“What? No no wai—” and I inhaled sharply as my eyes fluttered open. I was still sitting on my bedroll, but it seemed that some time had passed. The light I had manifested, was gone and I could see Adrissa nearby asleep. Looking around, Rosa and Doxx were also slumbering in their bedrolls. Meanwhile Bookshelf’s driftglobe hovered over their shoulder as they studied a crystal, a siberys I believed. Meanwhile I saw that Sage and The Blade were both standing and looking outside the dome talking in hushed tones.
“It can’t see us, right?” The Blade asked.
“No,” Sage said quietly. “I am familiar with this spell. It can see the dome, but not what is within.”
I stood up, still holding the Apocrypha and approached the pair. “What’s going on?” I said in a hushed tone.
Neither looked at me, but Sage turned his head slightly and continued. “A visitor is watching us,” and he pointed outside the cavern.
The light of the rising sun was just creeping across the clouds, turning them a dull orange. The woods here had thinned, with individual pines scattered here and there. There on a branch of a gnarled leafless oak tree was a raven with grey streaked wings, while the rest of it was a pitch black. It struck me as familiar as realized that I remembered seeing one like it in Denning, just as we left. Its head made quick turns here and there, but its gaze always settled back looking towards us. But something about it seemed familiar.
“It’s following us,” Sage said.
“That’s ridiculous,” The Blade stated. “Why would a bird follow us? A handout?”
“I saw it in Denning. It stood out because of the grey striping.” Sage argued.
My mouth dropped open. “It…It can’t be.” I said.
“Can’t be what?” Sage asked.
“It looks…the coloration makes it looks like an Executioner’s Raven,” I said dumbfounded. “But it’s too small.”
“I have never seen a grey striped raven before,” The Blade said. “Or even a grey one. All the ones I’ve seen in Sharn are solid black.”
“As were the ones I saw on the Sword Coast,” I concurred nodding.
“What do you mean ‘it’s too small?’” Sage asked.
“Executioner Ravens are…about my size. And their wings twice as wide,” I said outstretching my arms.”
“That would be a big raven,” The Blade admitted. “Could it be one? A young one?”
I shook my head, “The chicks are much larger and are a mottled grey and white fuzzy puff balls. Kinda cute I suppose, but the adults are nasty. That bird is smaller than a chick.”
“Still, its out in the freezing cold,” Sage said. “No nest, or cover. What bird would do that willingly.”
“Not a real one,” I said. “But a familiar would. A familiar of someone that either was creative or has actually seen an executioner raven. Someone who has been…to Sigil.”
The pair looked at me, “Perhaps that’s a coincidence. But how we can tell if it is a familiar?”
“Give me a moment,” and I pulled out a strip of metal from the Apocrypha. I started to whisper under my breath in celestial. The Blade and Sage watched me as I read the incantation over and over, slowly pulling on a white strand and wrapping it around my eyes. Then I pulled on it and snapped it and looked at the bird.
The raven continued to gaze in our direction, but my perception of it was now altered. It seemed to be covered in a cloud that appeared to be a sickly dark green. Unsure about what I was seeing, I turned around and looked for Gossamer. It took only a moment to find him, as he had decided to nap on my bedroll. But what made him so easy to find, was that he appeared to be surrounded in soft blue nimbus. But as I looked around, no person gave off the same light; not the people, not the horses in the back of the cavern. I returned my gaze to the raven saw again the green cloud around it.
“It’s a familiar,” I confirmed. “It’s not a celestial one, like Gossamer. But…it’s not a fiend either.”
“Then what is it?” The Blade asked.
“It might be a fey,” Bookshelf commented from his seat on the cavern floor.
“If that is a fey…it is a really, really rotten one,” I said looking at it with disgust now.
“Perhaps it is Unseelie,” Bookshelf commented, still studying his crystal.
“Great, now what?” I asked and I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth, when in a quick motion The Blade nocked an arrow, stepped outside the crystalline dome and loosed it at the bird. The raven didn’t move at all as the arrow struck it in the breast, causing it to fly off the branch. But as it sped to the ground, the body seemed to evaporate into a mist, all the while I swore, I heard…laughter, cold and mocking. Sage and I turned to look at The Blade as he walked back inside.
“We probably should have discussed that,” Sage started as I looked at the elf incredulously and nodded.
“No point,” The Blade said with pride. “There is no reason to allow it to spy on us with obviously criminal intent.”
“Won’t its master get suspicious?” Sage asked, and at the same time Bookshelf stood and moved closer to us, looking at the Blade curiously.
“They’ll know that it is gone,” I said. “It’s like a glass cracking in your head. But, they won’t see what had happened unless they were close and concentrating—”
“—See?—” The Blade said looking at me approvingly.
“—But they’ll just resummon it, and learn what happened anyway.”
“—Oh.” The Blade said, slightly defeated. “No matter. It will take a while for it to find us again.”
“We were following a road that leads to Cattbron,” Sage said shaking his head. “The only one. We are not going to be hard to find.”
“Erk…keep it down,” Doxx said from her bedroll. “What did our dark brooding elf do now?”
“The Blade shot a familiar spying on us,” Bookshelf said calmly.
“Alright…good for him,” and Doxx turned over to try to fall back to sleep. But not two heartbeats later, she jumped and stomped over to the rest of us. “You what?” she said giving the elf a withering glare.
“Sage claimed that a raven was following us, and you are concerned that I shot it?” The Blade said mystified.
“Wait? What raven?” Doxx said confused.
“Oh…you mean the one from Denning,” Rosa said yawning as she sat up.
“You are all out of your mind? There was no raven following us!” Doxx said getting more agitated.
“Ugh,” Adrissa groaned and looked at the old woman, “Why are we talking about the raven?”
“Because The Blade just shot it,” Sage said.
Adrissa nodded, “Good. I didn’t like how that one looked at us anyway,” and she stretched and started to put on her armor.
“See? She shows promise!” The Blade beamed, before frowning. “Wait, you noticed it was following us, and didn’t mention it?”
“I think the point is we should have discussed whether we should shoot it,” Bookshelf said calmly.
“Wait,” Doxx said in shock. “You all aren’t kidding? There was a raven following us, and no one mentioned it?”
“It wasn’t exactly hiding,” Sage pointed out.
“I thought everyone knew,” Adrissa said with a shrug, and everyone else except The Blade started to nod.
“Well…crap,” Doxx said dejectedly. “Well, that’s done. We better move, before another one can find us.”
“That, I agree with,” Sage said. “Let’s get moving before the weather turns.”
We all turned, and moved to our respective bedrolls to decamp, and I sighed saying, “Well, we might have at least questioned it.”
“Wait,” The Blade said. “You could have questioned it?”
I nodded, “Rosa was able to talk to Gossamer, and I know a similar ritual. So now we know we’ve been followed. But not who.”
“It’s obvious really,” The Blade said calmly.
“Who then?” I asked and then three people spoke at once:
“The Emerald Claw,” said The Blade.
“Moragon,” said Rosa.
“Melisandre,” said Doxx.
The two warforged just looked at each other and groaned, while Adrissa blurted out what was going through my head. She glared at everyone and said:
“You are all idiots.”
Well...enough self created drama, because I promise you all, the next installment will put us back into the action, and maybe just maybe, you will get to meet the worst wizard in the world.