[v.3.5] Realmsian Dragonstar: The Battle of Toril PbP Game [IC] (On Hiatus)

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
"If we're forced to travel up the coast Waterdeep would be on the way to the Anauroch desert," Soumral says and she idly picks at her food while thinking. "The only problem with travelling past Waterdeep from here is that we'd have to go past Baldur's Gate which could pose problems."

"If we go that route I'd recommend we stock up on supplies perhaps a little more than normal as a precaution,"
she says looking around.
"We should probably take a ship up the coast and avoid Waterdeep, if it's under seige," Belgeon suggests. "We'd have to put in somewhere to resupply at some point, so the more supplies we can take, the better."

"I doubt it will be any safer traveling be sea," Loranys notes. "If we get stuck on a ship while under attack from one of those flying machines, we're as good as dead."

"If we travel together," Imoen adds. "I'd like not to drown."

"Any course we take must avoid the cities," Silhouette says quietly. "To go near them now is to risk annihilation or capture. Our only protection against eyes in the sky is the sheer size of Faerun. We must be lost in it."
Shayuri said:
Her gaze lingers on Landor.

"Dreams of a dead god, and of the man who attempted to assassinate his way to sole rulership of Baldur's Gate...and now a prophecy as well. You're no ordinary mercenary, are you?"

Her mouth twists in a scowl and she sighs and looks away.
"I never claimed to be an ordinary man," Landor replies. "But you did walk in part way through the conversation, so your reaction could be belated. Of course, I've had worse reactions to my heritage." He shrugs. "And I agree with you. We should avoid the cities when possible, but if the goal is Anauroch, getting there will require us going through or past a large city of town at some point. We'd have to go up the Coast Way past Baldur's Gate to cross the Chionthar but once past it, traveling up the Trade Way to Daggerford will be easier."

"We could always cut across the High Moor," Jaheira suggests. "It would be dangerous, but I doubt we'd run into these invaders there."

"No, just a bunch of icky trolls or worse," Imoen says shaking her head. "I'd rather risk drowning."

"Child, you need to grow up already," Jaheira chastizes.

"Let's not get into that old argument again," Yoshimo interrupts them and lets Silhouette continue.

Shayuri said:
"As much as I'd like to explore that further, it will have to wait. The monks are insisting I follow their forms to gain access to the library, and that means a full day of explaining and proving myself to them, in isolation. Unfortunately if anyone else wants in, they'll have to do it as well. As well, they'll be charging me handsomely for any information I take out with me so...Thrak, I'll need whatever's left of the gold."

The goliath leaned forward and put a purse on the table, which she collected and peered into before putting it into a pouch.

"So," Silhouette said, "it's probably the best use of our time if I take all of our questions in myself to research, rather than each of us going in individually. I know what I mean to look up, but have any of the rest of you information you seek from Candlekeep?"
"It probably best to try to discover if there is a portal that will take us directly to the desert," Belgeon suggests. "Traveling along a major road way will be hazardous with or without a full caravan."

"I'm sure there is something that monks can tell you," Landor adds. " And I will try to speak to Ulraunt on your behalf to see if I can get him to ease up a bit. He might listen to me."

"Or he might just kick you, or all of us, temporarily out of Candlekeep," Imoen notes with concern. She looks at Sil and grins like a cat. "It would be the first time."

"It's worth the risk, little mouse," Yoshimo says.

"Mouse? Boo is no mouse! He is a Hamster of Justice!" Minsc exclaims with vigor. He hadn't been paying close attention since Landor finished his tale.

"I was not speaking of your furry companion, Minsc," Yoshimo replies as one would to a child.

"All this talking makes Minsc's head hurt," the tattooed man replies. "I need to punch something!"

"Minsc, why don't you go find Zorbath and see if he'll let you do some training with the Watchers? We'll need you sharp." Zandor suggests to Minsc. The big man nods his head, gathers up his rodent, and heads out the door.

"Great idea. But those poor Watchers," Imoen muses.

"Soumral and Silhouette make good points," Yin Hun says to Landor. "We should avoid major settlements. And if Waterdeep is as important Baldur's Gate, then you can be sure that it'll be under assault as well. Still... it would be good to assess the situation there while we're on our way."
"Waterdeep's importance goes well beyond that of Baldur's Gate," Landor says to Yin Hun. "It is the greatest city on the Sword Coast, but if, no, when it falls, the other major cities of the coast might as well be dominos lined up in a row. Athkatla to the south might survive Waterdeep being captured or destroyed, but my visions had it falling as well. Calimport's Fate is more murky. In my visions, I swear I saw the goddess Shar protecting the city, fanatically, but I also saw Kelemvor helping to protect Waterdeep in one dream. Yet, in that vision, the city still falls."

"Perhaps the Mulhorandi gods have something to do with it," Loranys suggests glumly. "And where were the gods when Baldur's Gate was torn asunder by a cleric that chose to go over to the enemy?" She looks at Landor. "You say the gods are protecting those two cities, yet they chose not to help us against this subsumed monstrosity. Why?"

"I don't have an answer for why, for any of us," Landor replies. "I have many friends in that city, and I've probably lost most of them. And many, many more are Fated to die if we do not do something about it. The gods cannot be everywhere, Loranys." He turns back to Yin Hun. "It is possible that Waterdeep is still under Kelemvor's protection, and it could be worth going there to find out the situation. But I suspect Ulraunt can tell you more. You are going to speak wih him later about all that has happened, correct?"

"He did mention something about us meeting with him at the temple after having ate and rested," Bentley notes. The gnomes talks while chewing on a piece of bread.

"I will try to get him to meet with you sooner," the tall warrior stands. "Imoen, stay with them and learn all you can from them. I will go talk with the Keeper and try to make him see reason." He pats Imoen on the shoulder before heading out of the eatery.

KainG said:
The soldier turns to his companions. "I think it'll be a good idea to join up on this caravan. Do you all think the same?"

Emiko slides the Biotech implantation manual over to Silhouette. "Here, you might be able to use to pay them off. It seems like something they would definitely want," she says. "I was planning on trying to access the archives as well, but you're right that only one of us needs to go. I can instead help the boss train the locals. I wanted to look up for any means to return magic to full power, or if there are any weapons of mass destruction hidden on your planet. I'll transmit the details to your communicator. In fact, while you're doing the research, we can stay in touch and update each other immediately through the comms. I can show you how."
Silhouette glances at Yin Hun with a slight frown. "You confuse me. On the one hand, you say I'm right to avoid Waterdeep...on the next breath you propose we join a caravan traveling...to Waterdeep. No. I do not think the same. The situation in Waterdeep isn't relevant to us right now. The risks of 'assessing' it far outweighs any benefit I would expect to gain."
"It might be better if we convince this caravan owner to not head to Waterdeep or to any of the major cities. He should probably take his wares somewhere isolated," Belgeon suggests. "The refugees too. Beregost is to close to both Baldur's Gate and Athkatla. If we can get them to travel down to Nashkel and then along the trail across the Greenfields, they could hide out there or cross the Fields towards the east and then take another trail through the Snakewood to Eshpurta."

"We should go with them," Rodan suggests. "I don't think going to this desert is a good idea after hearing what Landor has seen. It is far away, and we have no way of knowing what we'll find once we get there. Better to flee to the safety of the woods or high mountain passes and then stay there."

"Some hero you are, raptoran," Jaheira mocks.

"Jaheira, these people are guests in my parent's home," Imoen snaps. "You will not treat them worse than the worms in the dirt you worship!"

"I, I am sorry," Jaheira says with her head down. "I cannot fathom the world being tortured in such a manner as Landor's visions predict. There could be nothing left of Toril's natural beauty."

"Think nothing of it," Rodan says. "Like I said, my world was tormented by the Imperials so I know what you are all facing. That's why you need to consider flight, flight to another world that exists far from the claws of the Red Emperor. While I am here, I will do all I can, but at a certain point, I will flee if I think your world is doomed. I am no hero."

"Jahia, I- I'm sorry I yelled at you," Imoen aplogizes.

"It's all right, child."

Shayuri said:
She accepts the 'implantation manual' with a curious expression, and turns it over in her fingers. It crosses her mind to correct Emiko's assumptions...she seems under the impression that the monks could be 'bought off' with this. Similarly, there was no need to consult the libraries of Candlekeep for the answer to her question. With Mystra dead, the answer was plain; nothing. Presumably the divine mantle could be claimed by another, but how that would happen was unlikely to be in any mortal library, or a mortal could attempt to resurrect the Weave...and it just so happened that the only place that had been tried before was exactly where they were going.

But you never knew when something like this thing Emiko was giving her would come in handy. Handing it off to the monks would simply ensure no one ever got use of it. Better, perhaps, if it was looked after by someone who wasn't so eager to toss it away. And if Emiko didn't think Silhouette was going to use this, she'd probably want it back.

She pocketed the manual with a nod at Emiko.

"I'll let you know what I find. Does anyone else have any requests for me?"
"Yes, I agree with Yin Hun," Rodan speaks. "We must discover if your world has any WMDs that can be used against the empire, as a last resort. While it's unlikely your world has anything truly advanced, we should discover what we can about Toril's overall defenses. As well, there is this," Rodan pulls out the metal sphere that Shazer'a discovered in the Hall of Wonders in Baldur's Gate. "The half-dragon entrusted this to Yin Hun and I before he and Nel headed south with the other caravan. Take it with you and show it to the monks and discover anything you can about its origins. Shazer'a is convinced that it is important and I agree."

"Wow, I've never seen anything like this before," Imoen picks up the strange metal sphere and turns it over and over. "Maybe it's a puzzle of some sort."

"Hmm, very interesting," Yoshimo muses while rubbing his chin. "The metal looks similar to mithral, but I don't think it is mithral."

"A composite, maybe," Rodan notes. "And there is an energy to it."

"Yes, it's warm to the touch," she passes it to Silhouette. "Ulraunt might know what it is, but don't let him take it out of your sight. He might be a scholar, but if he feels he can get away with it, he will have his monks accidentally lose it in the library's archives."

"Lady Silhouette, you should also look for any information on old trails in The North. While the easiest route would take us through Silverymoon, it might be shorter, and safer, to head south and then northeast along one of the trails leading from Nashkell to Iriaebor. maybe? There is the road that goes through Cormyr but there might be a way through the Sunset Mountains that leads to the southern edge of the desert. I can't be certain, but if I had access to the maps myself, it would be easier to remember." Belgeon taps his fingers on the table, deep in thought.

"You should go with her into the archives even if it means being questioned by the monks," Loranys suggests to her Flaming Fist. "It will be easier with the two of you."

"I guess I could try," Belgeon replies. "I don't have anything to hide from them."

"I agree," Rodan says. "You seem to have an innate knowledge of the region's geography. It's possible you have what we called on my world, a strong Visual Memory. Can you recall other things based on objects?"

"Sometimes," Belgeon replies. "But it works best with art & coins, paintings, and maps, of course."

"Interesting... Your skills would be highly prized in the empire, young one," Rodan says. "If you are ever captured, you might want to keep them from discovering what you can do. It could be used by the ISPD to serve the empire, even against your will."

"I- I'll remember that," the young guard runs his hands through his hair and then looks at Sil. "I'll go with you, Lady Silhouette, and help as best I can."
 

Shayuri

Villager
Silhouette gave Belgeon a nod. A talent with maps would be unquestionably helpful in this endeavor.

"Once we've navigated the monks' hurdles, we'll meet up and coordinate then. If you concentrate on the maps, that will free me to pursue some of these other topics."

"As for where we go, or don't go, lets wait until we're better informed before we make that choice, hm? I suggested the Anauroch because it's the last known location where a mortal tried to gain control of the Weave. It was a spectacular failure, but in the absence of Mystra there may be something we can learn from the attempt that will help. As for the rest of the gods..."

She shook her head.

"It's folly to try to plan on what they'll do. Work with them if we can, around them if we must, but they act on their own without letting such as we in on their plans...so we cannot include them in our own."

Still. Shar's hand is over Calimport. I wonder what she's protecting. For the goddess of darkness and secrets to take such a direct hand in things was very unusual indeed. It must be...important.

She rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "So. Portals. Weapons. Maps and routes. Legends of the fall of Netheril. And of course...this."

The dark-skinned tiefling lifted the silvery sphere and turned it around in her hand. "It didn't just appear in the temple of Gond. If it has a history in Faerun, that should be here somewhere. I'll see what I can find."

Silhouette gave Thrak a nod then. "Keep helping them with the caravan and recruiting. The faster we're ready to leave when I'm done in the library the better. The invaders will not be waiting for us."
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Silhouette gave Belgeon a nod. A talent with maps would be unquestionably helpful in this endeavor.

"Once we've navigated the monks' hurdles, we'll meet up and coordinate then. If you concentrate on the maps, that will free me to pursue some of these other topics."
Belgeon acknowledges Silhouette assent with his own nod and smile.

Shayuri said:
"As for where we go, or don't go, lets wait until we're better informed before we make that choice, hm? I suggested the Anauroch because it's the last known location where a mortal tried to gain control of the Weave. It was a spectacular failure, but in the absence of Mystra there may be something we can learn from the attempt that will help. As for the rest of the gods..."

She shook her head.

"It's folly to try to plan on what they'll do. Work with them if we can, around them if we must, but they act on their own without letting such as we in on their plans...so we cannot include them in our own."
"I thought going to Anauroch had more to do with finding this Rebel Two person," Loranys says. "That's such an odd name."

"It's the agent's call sign. Not his real name. Emiko and her contact in Shadowdale were speaking in code," Rodan notes.

"Oh, I see," Loranys replies. "But my understanding was that we were planning to go to Anauroch and find this person. I know that its a longshot but if there is something he knows that can help us, we need to attempt the journey."

"That assumes that Rebel Two is still alive," Rodan adds. "Rebel Three said that he has been out of contact for some time. More than likely Rebel Two is dead or has been captured."

"I think it's to early to know that for sure," Belgeon suggests.

"Uhm, who are you talking about?" Imoen asks.

"Sorry, we should have told you sooner, but one of the reasons we need to get to Anauroch is to find a spy who has vital information that could tip the scales in our favor against the invaders," Loranys says.

"Shield frequencies for the Imperial's military might," Rodan adds. "His mission was likely to find and steal the Matrix List that details the frequency codes that protect the Imperials landers and thunderers." Rodan's notes a few quizzical faces. "Think of frequencies like a spell's energy that brings into being a protective spell around the machine. Knowing the frequency would be like using an 'innate eye' to penetrate such a spell."

"Ah, I see," Imoen says with a nod. "So if we find this list, we won't have to worry about the magic protecting the machines."

"Partially," Rodan replies. He looks at Yin Hun. "However, frequencies can be changed once it is discovered that they have been compromised. If we find the Matrix List, we must get it to this Freedom League. Has Emiko tried to contact Rebel Three again since we've been here?"

Shayuri said:
Still. Shar's hand is over Calimport. I wonder what she's protecting. For the goddess of darkness and secrets to take such a direct hand in things was very unusual indeed. It must be...important.
As the tiefling thinks of Shar and Calimport, her mind wanders to a scene of the city in great detail. She sees its streets and people and can smell its sights and sounds. It is is as if she is standing in the heart of the city's Grand Ward. People bustle by her but do not see her. All seems normal. Sil looks up to see the light from the sun baking the city with heat.

Shayuri said:
She rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "So. Portals. Weapons. Maps and routes. Legends of the fall of Netheril. And of course...this."

The dark-skinned tiefling lifted the silvery sphere and turned it around in her hand. "It didn't just appear in the temple of Gond. If it has a history in Faerun, that should be here somewhere. I'll see what I can find."
"The device is obviously from beyond your world," Rodan notes. "If the empire did once occupy your world in the distant past, there could be records of it and other things as well. The empire doesn't always take everything with them when they abandon a world."

The scene of Calimport in Sil's mind changes. The sky is cast is a purple haze as a magical barrier engulfs the city. Silhouette is now standing on the city's walls at the edge of the Hammer Ward. A line of spellcasters stands just inside the barrier. They cast powerful enchantments out through the barrier at machines made of metal. Tall, powerful machines that fire flame and lightning as easily as a archmage. Half as dozen fireball-like explosions hit the barrier. A plainsclothed cleric holds up his hands in order to help reinforce the barrier, but he is struggling.

Shayuri said:
Silhouette gave Thrak a nod then. "Keep helping them with the caravan and recruiting. The faster we're ready to leave when I'm done in the library the better. The invaders will not be waiting for us."
"I'll get it done," Thrak replies. He notes the strange look on Silhouette's face. "Are you alright?"

Silhouette's eyes roll back and she begisn to breathe heavily. In her mind, the vision tears at her very soul...

An archmage of unknown origin steps beyond the barrier and casts a powerful evocation at one of the walking machines. It hits an invisible barrier that shimmers and disapates. Another machine that hovers over the ground turns a cannon-like weapon towards the archmage and fires four quick blasts of intense reddish-blue fire. The first two slam into the man before he can step back behind the barrier. He turns to cinders, even his bones. The third slams into the barrier next to the cleric and his resolve ends. He collapses under the strain and a gap opens up in the barrier. The fourth blast streaks towards Silhouette and she feel like she's going to scream. But she cannot move. She feels doomed. Then the barrier reforms suddenly and she is saved.

She feels a presence in her, body, mind, and soul. It is powerful and divine. "I see you tiefling girl," a powerful female voice speaks to her, and Silhouette cries tears of purple blood. From somewhere beyond her eyes, she here's Thrak yell her name... but then the voice.

"You and your allies have a difficult yet vital task ahead of you. Once you have learned all you can in Candlekeep, go to Anauroch and speak to the shadovar named Hadrhune in the City of Shade. Tell him what you are looking for and he will know what to do. Find the Imperial secrets and protect an Imperial man named Disan at all costs. He is vital to the world's survival, but how is beyond even the pantheon's collective sight. I would give you small part of my essence, but doing so would doom Calimport." Silhouette sees the floating city of the Shadovar hovering over Silverymoon, defending the city from the Imperials using what looks like advanced technology. Strange ships fly through the air and they are shaped like Shar's holy symbol.

"Do not leave Haspur with the monks. They cannot protect him. Tell the Magister to go to Waterdeep. Kelemvor needs her power there. Candlekeep must rely on its clandestine Chosen, Tethtoril, for protection, as well as the Sentinel Wyrm's power. Tell Ulraunt he cannot hog all the empowered Chosen; he already knows this but he is being selfish regarding his precious books. Tell him Oghma commands him to protect souls, as well as knowledge. If he doubts this, tell him Oghma will get around to chastising him eventually."

The voice pauses and Silhouette feels like she's in a deep void. It's wonderfully painful. "Now go, my child. You and your allies are the gods' last great hope for the future of Toril."

Silhouette comes out of the shadow fugue and finds herself on the floor of the eatery and everyone standing over her. All their faces are grave. Jaheira is trying to staunch the purple blood pouring from her eyes and nose. It takes another few minutes for it to stop.

Thrak looks like he's going to start blubbering. "Sil, Sil, what happened? Are you okay. Say something please!"

OOC: For the next tenday, Silhouette casts all shadow-based spells with a +1 divine bonus. :D
 

Shayuri

Villager
Silhouette opens her eyes with a gasp, a sudden inrush of breath as if she'd just surfaced after nearly drowning. She almost immediately coughs, sputtering on the slightly bitter, acrid taste of her own blood. For a moment, for what might have been the first time in nearly her entire life, she isn't thinking at all. Her mind feels blank, trying to claw its way back to something approaching normal operations.

She touches her fingertips to her cheeks and feels them sticky. Pulls them back to see the thick violet fluid on their tips. Then she manages to focus enough to see Thrak hovering over her, uncertain whether to be overjoyed or despondent. Was it her? Was she all right? Silhouette nods at him and reaches up to trail her fingers across his brow, tracing a thin purple line there.

"I'm all right, old friend," she says softly in the Thayan tongue. It was something of a signal between them. She had hid her past well. Few imposters would know, or even guess, to use it.

Then she gently, but firmly, takes the cloth from Jaheira with a nod of thanks and assumes the duties of cleaning her face off.

"My apologies for the drama, everyone." Somehow her voice didn't shake. The reality of the situation was sinking in, but Silhouette had had long years of divorcing her face and voice from her heart.

It was bad. Shar had found her.

From the start Silhouette had understood the risks of the power she touched. Shar was not Mystra, content to parcel out her power to anyone and everyone with the gift to sense it. The Shadow Weave demanded a price, and its mistress demanded obedience. Now it seemed Silhouette would have to answer the question that had kept her up more than one night.

What did she want more? Her power, or her freedom?

For the moment, the tiefling thought, Shar's purpose and mine coincide. We both want to preserve what can be preserved of Toril, and harm these invaders however we can. It may well be that I will die before that state of affairs changes.

Silhouette smirked at herself. What did it say about her that the idea she might die before having to make this sacrifice was something she viewed with some relief?

Then again, perhaps there was an alternative. These men from another world had powers the equal of magic that depended on no mystic goddess with her fingers on puppet strings. Perhaps, with time, she could master those powers...and when Shar yanked the Shadow Weave away from her noncompliant fingers, she wouldn't have to care.

Or perhaps some other arrangement could be made with Shar. The Goddess of Secrets must have secrets of her own, after all.

Silhouette looked at her hands, the towel now stained as if with grape juice. A flicker of concentration, and the Shadow Weave swam into her awareness...a vast tapestry of violet and black threads, humming in the warp and weft of what had been the Weave. Now exposed, but still intact. She frowned slightly. Was it just her or...the threads moved more easily, yes. Almost seeming to anticipate her will.

The favor of Shar had its advantages, it seemed. It was useful, but also an unwelcome reminder of this new scrutiny. It stank of a toy offered to a dog for a good trick.

All I need is time, Silhouette said to herself grimly. Time and opportunity. That had been all she'd ever needed.

"I have had something of a vision," she said as she got to her feet with Thrak's help. "It overwhelmed me for a moment. I have business with Ulraunt. The details of what I saw..." she grimaced slightly, then looked away. "I will go over what I could make sense of with you, but I must attend to this first. Did anyone happen to see where Haspur was taken?"
 
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KainG

Explorer
"That's a good idea, Rodan," Yin Hun says. "Doing too often risks getting detected by the enemy, but it's been long enough from our last contact to try again." He turns to Emiko, and asks her to try to contact Rebel Three after they've finished eating. "If we can get into contact with him, exchange status updates. We've been forced to delay heading to Anauroch, but we have the chance to acquire some valuable intel about the region, and we're making preparations to depart as soon as possible."

"We still need to decide on how to get there. Hopefully, Silhouette will come back with some info on portals we can use to hasten the trip." Although as much as that would speed things up, Yin Hun had some trepidations at the prospect. Even after all these years, it was baffling how casual these people were with jumping through rips in space-time. "But in case she doesn't, we'll need an alternate means of transportation. The caravan idea is starting to sound too slow and vulnerable. Perhaps we can chart the most direct path from here to there by horse?"
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Silhouette opens her eyes with a gasp, a sudden inrush of breath as if she'd just surfaced after nearly drowning. She almost immediately coughs, sputtering on the slightly bitter, acrid taste of her own blood. For a moment, for what might have been the first time in nearly her entire life, she isn't thinking at all. Her mind feels blank, trying to claw its way back to something approaching normal operations.

She touches her fingertips to her cheeks and feels them sticky. Pulls them back to see the thick violet fluid on their tips. Then she manages to focus enough to see Thrak hovering over her, uncertain whether to be overjoyed or despondent. Was it her? Was she all right? Silhouette nods at him and reaches up to trail her fingers across his brow, tracing a thin purple line there.

"I'm all right, old friend," she says softly in the Thayan tongue. It was something of a signal between them. She had hid her past well. Few imposters would know, or even guess, to use it.
The big goliath sighs in relief. He nods to her and then says to the others. "She'll be okay."

"It doesn't look like she's okay," Belgeon notes with concern.

"If Thrak thinks she's fine," Loranys says. "We need to trust his judgment."

Shayuri said:
Then she gently, but firmly, takes the cloth from Jaheira with a nod of thanks and assumes the duties of cleaning her face off.
While Jaheria relents, she says "Take it slow. If you feel any pain, please let me know."

Shayuri said:
"My apologies for the drama, everyone." Somehow her voice didn't shake. The reality of the situation was sinking in, but Silhouette had had long years of divorcing her face and voice from her heart.

<snip>

"I have had something of a vision," she said as she got to her feet with Thrak's help. "It overwhelmed me for a moment. I have business with Ulraunt. The details of what I saw..." she grimaced slightly, then looked away. "I will go over what I could make sense of with you, but I must attend to this first. Did anyone happen to see where Haspur was taken?"
"Another vision," Imoen says. "First Landor, now you. Can you tell us what you saw?"

"It is best to let her sort through what she saw, first," Jaheria insists. "If it felt as bad as it looked, she'll need time."

"When I checked on Haspur, he was being taken to the temple," Rodan says. "The monks said they'd look after him. Keep him safe."

"They were quite insistent," Bentley adds.

Silhouette gets up to leave and find Ulraunt. She finds that her stength is returning quickly, almost too quickly.

"I don't think you should do anything strenuous," Jaheria suggests. "But I suspect you are as stubborn as Landor, so I will simply tell you again to take it slow."

"That's a good idea, Rodan," Yin Hun says. "Doing too often risks getting detected by the enemy, but it's been long enough from our last contact to try again." He turns to Emiko, and asks her to try to contact Rebel Three after they've finished eating. "If we can get into contact with him, exchange status updates. We've been forced to delay heading to Anauroch, but we have the chance to acquire some valuable intel about the region, and we're making preparations to depart as soon as possible."
"You got it, boss," Emiko replies. "I'll go check the gear and make sure its got enough juice for another attempt. I'm full enough, for now. If I make contact with R3, I'll contact you on comms."

Emiko reaches the door before Silhouette and holds the door open for the tiefling. Belgeon goes with the shadow weave user. Thrak follows his friend for as long as she lets him; if she forces him to stay behind, he sits glumly next to Yin Hun and listens silently.

KainG said:
"We still need to decide on how to get there. Hopefully, Silhouette will come back with some info on portals we can use to hasten the trip." Although as much as that would speed things up, Yin Hun had some trepidations at the prospect. Even after all these years, it was baffling how casual these people were with jumping through rips in space-time. "But in case she doesn't, we'll need an alternate means of transportation. The caravan idea is starting to sound too slow and vulnerable. Perhaps we can chart the most direct path from here to there by horse?"
"Which is why I suggested the High Moor," Jaheria notes. "But it isn't directly in between Candlekeep and Anauroch. For a more direct route, we would have to cross through both the Wood of Sharp Teeth and the Reaching Woods or, at least, skirt the edges of those two forests. At some point, we'd have to cross either the Chionthar or the River Reaching. Belgeon might right that it could be safer to head south to Nashkel and then travel the trails to the northeast. It would take more time, but we'd be less likely to run into the fey or lycanthropes of the woods."

"I know there are centaurs in the Reaching Wood and the Harpers often train new recruits there," Imoen adds. "I could see them both helping against these invaders."

"I'd heard of the centaurs," Yoshimo says. "But I didn't know there were Harpers in there."

"It's not something we talk about. It's safer that way."

"It might be best to avoid the first wood and then hope for solace in the second," Jaheria says. "We should definitely avoid the Forest of Wyrms. I know for certain it is full of green dragons. Belgeon is right that there are passes through the mountains beyond the Reaching but I wouldn't want to go through them without great numbers. The Sunsets are filled with gnolls and ogres and worse. Of course, going north of them would take us through worse lands."

"We are not going through Skull Gorge," Yoshimo insists. "It would be a death trap. I'm sure young Belgeon will find us another way."

"Let's hope so," Bentley agrees.

"If we go north past the Battle of Bones, we could stop in Evereska," Jaheria suggests.

"If we do," Loranys adds. "It will let us return Keth's ancestral blade to his kinfolk."

"Miss Soumral, what do you think? Will the elves of Evereska welcome us?" Yoshimo asks the Dalelands elf.


Silhouette heads to the House of the Binder
Silhouette quickly finds her way to the temple and decides that Oghma wants her to barge inside. Even if the god doesn't want her to ruffle Ulraunt's feathers, she's going to do it anyway. She convincingly lies her way past the single guard on duty. She has been anointed a seeker of knowledge after all.

(If Thrak is with her, he chats up the guard while she goes inside.)

She pushes open the great double doors made of iron and enters the temple's forecourt. Three smaller doors made of oak stand before her. The middle door stands open, so she steps forward through it and into the temple's interior hall, which is massive. The temple looks to be roughly sixty feet across and a hundred feet long. The hall is lit by a illusion of what appears to be a glowing pair of hands spread open with the palms facing the ceiling--cradling a glowing book. This illusion floats twenty feet above the floor on the far end of the temple. Just beneath this complex illusion are Ulraunt and Landor in a heated but hushed debate. Six plain stone tables are arranged in a ring around them and the raised stone altar that the two men are standing in front of. There is nothing else in the temple.

As Silhouette enters the hall, the glow from the illusion dims slightly. Ulraunt looks up in dismay while Landor turns towards Silhouette and motions for her to come forward. As she does so, the glowing hands flares a bright blue in color while the book dims to a light purple.

"There, you see," Landor says to Ulraunt. "Even Oghma is telling you to loosen your grip on Candlekeep's rules. Only he would allow this to happen."

"I- I am not convinced," Ulraunt replies while staring at the illusion. He points at Silhouette. "Her goddess is more likely to be responsible, and if so, her being here is a blasphemy."

Just as he is about to have her removed, the floating illusion shifts. The glowing hands slam the book shut and drop it to the floor. The hands disappear and the book shrinks in front of their eyes until there is only a pinprick of bright white light emanating from the floor. The beam of light points to Ulraunt's heart. He falls to his knees.

"Why?" He begs his god. He looks at Silhoutte. "You! You have seen something too, as Landor has, and... as I have." He shakes his head. "I could not believe it; why turn Candlekeep into a fortress for the protection of people first, instead of knowledge first! No threat has ever been able to penetrate our defenses!"

"If you want your order to survive in some form," Landor insists. "Things are going to have to change around here." He looks at Silhoutte. "What I have seen cannot be denied." He kneels next the the Keeper. "Candlekeep will fall if the monks aren't willing to adapt to the world that will come. It might be Fated to fall, regardless, but if you don't adapt, your order will be force to serve this stellar empire."

Several monks that Silhoutte had not seen when she entered now stand around them. They each hold a quarterstaff and are prepared to defend their Keeper. Ulraunt holds up his hand and the monks back off. "Great Oghma. What will we do now?"
 
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Shayuri

Villager
"Do you know what makes drowning men so dangerous?" Silhouette asks calmly. "In their panic, they grasp anything, anyone in reach. They drag rescuers down with them, or clutch things that won't help them float. You have a freedom they don't though, Ulraunt."

"Just take a breath."


She inhaled to illustrate, and put the shenanigans with the illusion out of her mind for the moment. There was no way to tell if it was Oghma or Shar or anyone else meddling, and she couldn't be bothered to care. Such questions were of interest to servants of the gods. Silhouette was, at best, a...a co-conspirator. She could live with that.

"I have seen things, but more than that I have heard things, Ulraunt. Among them some words of...lets call it advice. Advice best heeded."

She looked at Landor, meeting his gaze for a moment, then focused again on the kneeling sage-priest. Her expression turned gentle, though there was still firmness in her eyes. This wouldn't be easy for him...best not to press too hard too fast, lest he break and become irrational.

"Oghma commands you to protect souls as well as knowledge, Ulraunt. You are not to keep all of the Chosen here. Some are needed elsewhere. You have the Sentinel Wyrm, and you have Tethtoril. They will have to suffice for Candlekeep. Haspur and the Magister must be allowed to leave."

Silhouette knelt down to bring herself almost to his level. "I have not been given a glimpse of what happens here, but I know some of what other places are facing. The only hope any of us have is to force these invaders to spread themselves thin, facing pockets of resistance. If all the Chosen were in one place, they could bring all their might to bear here...and nothing would stop them then."

She reached out and took one of his hands in her own, squeezing it slightly harder and harder as she continued to speak.

"Have faith in your god, Ulraunt. He has survived a purge of the heavens and guides you still. What good is knowledge if there are no eyes to see it? No souls to be enlightened by it? Keeping the Library intact while the world burns will save nothing, in the end."

The tiefling took another breath, and as she let it out she released his hand. She glanced back at the guards, where she'd left Thrak chatting and distracting them. Their attention was on the events in the temple proper now, but nothing unpleasant seemed to be brewing immediately. Ulraunt could change that, of course, so she looked back at him to assess his reaction.

"I did paraphrase a little, but that was the gist of it."
 
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Buddha the DM

Explorer
"Miss Soumral, what do you think? Will the elves of Evereska welcome us?" Yoshimo asks the Dalelands elf.
"It is possible if any are still there," Soumral replies hesitantly. "It also depends on if the madness that is now gripping the world has found them yet or not."
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
"It is possible if any are still there," Soumral replies hesitantly. "It also depends on if the madness that is now gripping the world has found them yet or not."
"Well, let us hope for solace, then," Loranys says. "And pray that they have managed to stay hidden."

"We should not underestimate the Evereskans," Bentley chimes in. "For many generations of humanity, that valley was little more than fable. Its clandestine protections are likely more than just magic."

"But if there is any magic left there," Jaheira adds. "Their realm could be used as a safe haven from this Empire."


"For elves, maybe," Yoshimo says plainly. "I doubt other races will be allowed to settle there permanently."

"Let's not worry about that until Silhouette and Belgeon come back with a plan," Rodan suggests.

===============================================

"Do you know what makes drowning men so dangerous?" Silhouette asks calmly. "In their panic, they grasp anything, anyone in reach. They drag rescuers down with them, or clutch things that won't help them float. You have a freedom they don't though, Ulraunt."

"Just take a breath."


She inhaled to illustrate, and put the shenanigans with the illusion out of her mind for the moment. There was no way to tell if it was Oghma or Shar or anyone else meddling, and she couldn't be bothered to care. Such questions were of interest to servants of the gods. Silhouette was, at best, a...a co-conspirator. She could live with that.

"I have seen things, but more than that I have heard things, Ulraunt. Among them some words of...lets call it advice. Advice best heeded."

She looked at Landor, meeting his gaze for a moment, then focused again on the kneeling sage-priest. Her expression turned gentle, though there was still firmness in her eyes. This wouldn't be easy for him...best not to press too hard too fast, lest he break and become irrational.

"Oghma commands you to protect souls as well as knowledge, Ulraunt. You are not to keep all of the Chosen here. Some are needed elsewhere. You have the Sentinel Wyrm, and you have Tethtoril. They will have to suffice for Candlekeep. Haspur and the Magister must be allowed to leave."
Belgeon catches up to Silhouette and looks around with wonder. "Uhm, what did I miss?"

"A lot," the Magister whispers to him. "Now, be still. Be quiet."

He nods.

Shayuri said:
Silhouette knelt down to bring herself almost to his level. "I have not been given a glimpse of what happens here, but I know some of what other places are facing. The only hope any of us have is to force these invaders to spread themselves thin, facing pockets of resistance. If all the Chosen were in one place, they could bring all their might to bear here...and nothing would stop them then."

She reached out and took one of his hands in her own, squeezing it slightly harder and harder as she continued to speak.

"Have faith in your god, Ulraunt. He has survived a purge of the heavens and guides you still. What good is knowledge if there are no eyes to see it? No souls to be enlightened by it? Keeping the Library intact while the world burns will save nothing, in the end."

The tiefling took another breath, and as she let it out she released his hand. She glanced back at the guards, where she'd left Thrak chatting and distracting them. Their attention was on the events in the temple proper now, but nothing unpleasant seemed to be brewing immediately. Ulraunt could change that, of course, so she looked back at him to assess his reaction.

"I did paraphrase a little, but that was the gist of it."
"It is as I feared and refused to believe," Ulraunt says. "Candlekeep cannot hope to survive in isolation. He stands with Sil's help. "I will allow you and a handful of your companions to forego the normal strictures. And I promise to allow the refugees you have brought to stay, but thieves will be dealt with as normal. Candlekeep will be solace to children and the very old, but others will have to seek refuge elsewhere. We only have so much room here."

Landor steps forward to take ahold of the old scribe. "You have done the right thing," he says.

"It is the only thing I can do now, Oghma commands it." He looks at the Magister. "You must leave us, it seems, as well as this Haspur person."

"I knew it would be so, but I will stay a bit longer to help with the transition. After all, I'm not sure where I'm supposed to go next."

"One of my visions places you in Waterdeep fighting alongside Halaster Blackcloak against the invaders," Landor replies. "You should go there soon, I think."

"But not before I tell you all of what I have seen and heard," Ulraunt adds. He looks at young Belgeon. "You, go and get your allies and bring them all here. Landor's friends as well. They must all play a part, it seems. I know they are probably still tired, but what I have to say cannot wait any longer. I must get the words out before I lose my nerve."

Belgeon nods and rushes out of the temple to get the others. Ulraunt orders the monks to set up a place for all to sit and then some. He orders them to move the worst of the wounded from the temple and into the keep proper and make them comfortable. They do as he asks, with some reservation.

"There are many of them who will not like this idea," he notes. "We must be wary."

===============================================

It doesn't take long for Belgeon to reach the eatery and tell the others what transpired in the Temple of Oghma.

"It's good that your gods see the bigger picture and aren't afraid to flex their might," Rodan says to the others.

"What about us?" Imoen asks.

"The Keeper said all, including you," Belgeon replies.

Jaheira nods. "It seems we are all destined to be allies in this cause."

Gear is gathered and soon all are headed towards the temple. Many of the monks and soldiers walk with them. Inside the temple, it's as if a service is to take place. All are welcome to hear what the Keep has to say, although the youngest of the children are kept out to protect them from fear.

You find that the monks have set up seats for all of your around a massive stone table. It is oval in shape with the symbols of all the gods of learning carved onto its surface with Oghma's at its center. The Keeper sits at the metaphorical head of the table with the Magister to his left and Zorbath Sturon to his right.

Silhouette has already found her seat while Landor helps the monks organize the people who wish to attend. Many of the monks have grave looks on their faces and a few of the older ones grumble at what is happening. Once there are no more seats available, a few stragglers, mainly refugees, stand in the back. The doors of the temple are closed behind the last of the those who wish to hear the news of the invaders.

OOC: I will add another post that will detail Ulraunt's news and the reactions of those gathered to hear. It will take some time to put together, but I should have it up by Wednesday, I hope. Now, I need to rest some more. :yawn:
 
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Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
In the House of the Binder

The doors of the temple of Oghma close with a resound. All those gathered hush and wait to here what Keeper Ulraunt has to say. Many of the monks are as in the dark as the refugees who have pinned their hope on Candlekeep and you, the adventurers who led them to the fortress.

Each of you finds a seat at the table and their are places for Landor and his companions, although the big man with the face tattoo isn't seated at the table. Emiko is absent. She's at the highest part of the castle the monks will allow her access to in order to try to contact Rebel Three; she partially listens through the comms with Yin Hun.

Ulraunt disappears for several minutes before speaking. Landor tells you he wishes to meditate and pray to Oghma for forgiveness. When he comes back, he is resolute in his demeanor but you can tell he is nervous. Many of the monks gathered aren't going to like what he has to say.

The Gatewarden, Zorbath Sturon, takes a seat in between Thrak and Landor. He watches you and Ulraunt with a wary eye. Imoen sits next to Landor while you and the others choose random spots around the table. Ulraunt insists upon leaving one seat open. Most assume it is symbolic for his god.

He sits and centers himself; then he stands again once he is sure all eyes are on him. "I know many of the Avowed gathered here are wondering what is happening in the keep and across Faerûn. Many rumors are spreading about an invasion and the death of gods." He pauses. "While it is true that the lands of Faerûn have been invaded and gods have perished, not everything you've heard is true."

He looks at Yin Hun and the others and you worry that he's gong to try to spin the truth. He doesn't. "It is true that these invaders aren't from Faerûn, but they aren't from another part of Toril like you've heard. They come from the stars; an ancient place called the Dragon Empire. The invaders have technology that goes well beyond the devices created by the priests of Gond. This technology is more advanced than the wonders of Lantan. They have powerful ships that can sail through the stars and weapons that can rain down destruction from above."

The refugees murmur and many of the monks listen in disbelief. Zorbath shifts in his seat uncomfortably. While his face is stern, his face is hard to read.

"These invaders have already taken Baldur's Gate and many of the communities in the Dalelands, including Shadowdale."

"W-what of Elminster?" a nervous voice asks. "Is he dead?"

"As far as I know, he is still alive; however, he was in Shadowdale when it was taken, so I can't say where he is now. He may be in hiding with the survivors." The crowd is shocked into silence by that fact.

"He could not stop them?" Zorbath asks.

"No, the invaders attacked with powerful weapons and the support of the Zhentarim. The people of Shadowdale were overwhelmed and fled into the forest."

"Damn Zhents!"

"Yes, and the Zhentarim of Darkhold have gone over to this empire as well. I have learned that the Zhents now control not only Corm Orp, but also Asbravan, Berdusk, Elturel, Hill's Edge, Hluthvar, Soubar, and Triel. Both Iriaebor and Scornubel have been invaded, but the populace hasn't been subjugated, so far. They fight on. These invaders seem willing to let the Zhents do the dirty work and then move in and finish off those that resist." The Keeper pauses to drink some water. He shakes his head.

"By the gods," a voice whispers in the eerie silence.

"I don't know whether the communities east of Iriaebor have fallen yet, but I do know that Cormyr is under seige by the invaders. These Dragon Imperials are also attacking all the northern cities of the Sword Coast from Luskan to Waterdeep. I have no idea what is happening in Silverymoon, however. As for the lands south of here, this empire is trying to negotiate with the leaders of Amn and Calimshan. The last I heard, the Imperials are offering a similar deal to that given to the Zhents. I have no idea if it will be successful."

"It will not," Landor replies. "My visions see as much war in the south as in the north. Besides the Zhents, I only see the Mulhorandi willingly going over to the Empire."

"You can't know that for sure," Rodan notes. "The Dragon Empire can be very persuasive and when that fails, they will use intimidation. And believe me, there is nothing more intimidating than seeing a massive starship blotting out the sun over your city."

"I agree," Ulraunt adds. "It is too early to know what will happen in those lands, but if Amn and Calimshan go over to the empire, it will be very bad for Tethyr, the Border Kingdoms, and for Candlekeep."

The Avowed begin to murmur amongst themselves while the refugees hold each other and pray to the gods.

"In every vision I've had of Calimshan, the city is under the protection of Shar. Yes, what I've seen is murky, but it is always the same."

Landor stuns the crowd silent with his words.

"Yes, what of the gods? What of Oghma? What happened to Mystra?" The questions ring out from Avowed and refugees alike.

"Quiet, please!" Ulraunt urges. "Yes, it is true that some of the gods have gone silent and some of them might be dead. But we can't know for sure!"

Ulraunt seems to be losing his willingness to speak the truth. You can tell he is worried about causing a panic.

"He should not have invited everyone to these precedings," Rodan says to Yin Hun.

"We will know more once the Emissary arrives," the Magister shouts over the crowd. Shes a simple spell to augment her voice.

"What Emissary?" the Gatewarden insists. "I haven't been told about another newcomer! Keeper I must protest so many people being in the keep at once! This is getting out of hand!"

"Do you doubt Oghma, Zorbath?"

"Yes! And I believe you aren't thinking clearly. You are being mislead by outsiders and reckless adventurers. For all we know, this raptoran is a spy for the Zhents sent to Baldur's Gate to sow dissent and this man is obviously from the Unapproachable East." He points to Yin Hun. "A spy of the Red Wizards or an agent of the Shou."

"You forget you place, Gatewarden!" An aged monk yells at him. "You will not speak to the Keeper that way."

"If he refuses to protect books before people, he doesn't deserve to be Keeper!"

The murmuring is replaced by shouts of anger, threats of revolt, and refugees crying in fear. Ulraunt tries his best to calm everone down but Zorbath's voice is louder. Then, he produces a blade that was hidden under his tunic.

"You would dare draw blood in Oghma's temple!" The Magister places herself in between the man and the Keeper and mumbles arcane words.

"You are just another invader trying to steal Candlekeep's knowledge for your goddess," he sneers.

Just he is about the strike and the Magister is about to cast her spell, the doors to the temple swing open. Two guards push them open quickly and you worry more guards are coming to the Gatewarden's aid. Instead, a massive man enters the House of the Binder strides forward through the chaos. As he passes, refugees and monks alike gasp and fall to their knees in reverence.

"It seems I have arrived just in time, Lady Magister," the man booms. The voice resounds through the temple with an intensity that feels quiet unnatural. More an more people fall to their knees when they see the man's visage: Torm the True.

Landor and his allies are soon on their knees, as well as the Magister. Once he gets close enough to her, he shakes his head and motions for her to stand. "There is no need for that, my dear Talatha. You know I'm not a god anymore."

"You are still Torm the True," she insists, but she stands.

"It, it cannot be true," Zorbath begins weeping as he falls to his knees.

"It seems you have let zealousness get the best of you, Gatewarden," Torm says. "I could hear you yelling outside. Now, I think you could learn from the monks and be silent until I tell you otherwise."

The Gatewarden bows his head in silence.

"Lord Torm," Ulraunt is in shock.

"Keeper Ulraunt," the ex-god replies. "Please sit down. And the rest of you, please get off your knees and sit. I am not a deity anymore, although Tyr has made me one of his Chosen." Torm sits in the empty chair. The monks comply but many of the refugees and soldiers continue to kneel.

Rodan watches the people with interest. The religious fervor of Faerûnians reminds him of his own world. He didn't kneel to the man when he entered by he bows in respect before sitting. Zorbath stays on his knees and remains quiet.

"Now, what was all that ruckus about?" Torm asks casually.

"The people are worried about the gods," Ulraunt says uneasily as he sits. "They, we're not sure what to believe. Some say that all the gods have died or have been stripped of their godhood by Ao.

"I assure you that not all of us perished due to Ao's betrayal. However, many of the lesser gods were destroyed by his Reckoning. Turned to ash by his will. We know he was secretly tied to the Dragon Empire, and he boasted that he was actually known as The Warrior, an Aspect of their twelve overgods. Besides myself, Beshaba, Lliira, Loviatar, Milil, and Tymora all became humans. Finder, Mielikki, Nobanion, and Umberlee were all transformed into huge savage beasts. In his savage state, Nobanion attacked and killed Beshaba before anyone could stop the great lion." The ex-god sighs.

"Lord Kelemvor now leads the gods of Faerûn. Akadi, Bane, Chauntea, Cyric, Gond, Grumbar, Helm, Ilmater, Istishia, Kossuth, Lathander, Oghma, Selune, Shar, Silvanus, Sune, Talos, Tempus, Tyr, Ubtao and Mask survived but all were affected by Ao's Reckoning, although it is strange that Mask wasn't turned into a mortal or killed outright. But, he's always been slippery. Bane was irate and shifted away in a howling rage. And I doubt we can count on Cyric to behave; he has gone to ground and is likely scheming somewhere. Surprisingly, Shar has accepted Lord Kelemvor's leadership, for now." He looks at Silhouette with a wry smile. "The Shadow Weave remains intact despite the death of Mystra and the Weave. The Goddess of Magic died before the Reckoning. Ao tied her power and the Weave into his own, so when these Imperial bastards arrived in Realmspace, he used the Weave to tear her apart and then he collapsed the Weave. It is gone. If she hadn't given tons of her power over to her Chosen, all of the magic would have been lost. The Shadow Weave would have likely collapsed as well. Shar might be destined to become the new Goddess of Magic, but she would have to modify the Shadow Weave and her avarice for power before Lord Kelemvor gives her power over Mystra's Chosen. He seems to have gained divine energy from the dead goddess somehow. Of course, they were close as mortals, so their essences have always been intertwined. Lord Kelemvor has taken Milil into his fold as a Chosen and the new Scribe of the Doomed."

That last bit of news causes many of the monk's to gasp in dismay.

"So many of the gods lost," Ulraunt shakes his head. "I- I hadn't realized that so many were killed by Io."

"What about the other gods?" A tiny voice squeaks out from somewhere in the back. The girl's mother shushes her.

"It's all right," Torm says. He turns his chair and motions for the child and mother to come forward. "It is a good question little miss. We aren't sure exactly what has happened to them. They weren't present during Ao's betrayal, so my guess is that most of them are okay. Does that answer your question?"

"I think so," the girl replies. "My daddy is an elf, so I'm worried about him. He's an adventurer and worships Corie."

"Ha Ha Ha!" Torm laughs. "Well, I have Lord Tyr keep an eye on him too. Okay?"

"Thank you," she runs out of her mother's arms and hugs the ex-god. Her mother falls to her knees and looks ready to burst out laughing or crying.

"Oh my," Torm's face betrays his emotions. "I forgot how emotional being mortal can be." He gently hugs the little girl back and then sends her back to her mother who scoops her up and takes her back into the crowd. The rest of their family gather around the little girl like she is the Queen of Cormyr.

Torm clears his throat and turns his chair back towards you. His face is red. "Ah, mortality, it's been so long. I'm still getting used to this new form." He sighs. The ex-god actually looks tired. "It took some time to come here from Mulhorand even with Tyr's help. I'm actually going to have to sleep soon. Hmm, that will be interesting."

Ulraunt is wide-eyed with a half-smile on his face. Torm looks at Zorbath still on his knees and orders the man to get up and be seated. The Gatewarden does so without speaking a word.

"Now, I think I should learn the names of these heroes that Lord Kelemvor has chosen to play a part in this conflict. While he hasn't told me everything, I do know you are tasked with finding out some secrets of this Dragon Empire that could prove useful in the fight. Tell me all you can so that I can warn other mortals. After this meeting, I'm, to go to Tethyr and prepare its people against the evils of this star empire."
 
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Shayuri

Villager
Silhouette's skin crawled, and somewhere in her mind she was mewling and screaming in a locked box she kept far from her face. A god's presence was a brilliant spotlight, focusing attention from this world and worlds beyond on one spot...and just for a moment that spot would be her, and it felt like death itself. She did not seek attention, but worked from shadows in secret. She wore faces and names, guided other people to do her will while believing it was their own. Even the name she'd chosen for herself on winning her freedom was the name given to a shape in darkness, devoid of features.

Would an ice mephit take a roll through hot coals and feel any differently?

Best to get it over with.

She got to her feet and swept her gaze around the table, as if inviting those gathered to judge her strange appearance. Countering her inner fear with outer defiance.

"You may call me Silhouette," the tiefling said, turning her attention to Torm. "And while the details of our plan may best be discussed with a smaller audience, the broad strokes involve a trip to the Anauroch, in search of old knowledge, both historical and arcane."

"You see, we have discovered evidence that this is not the first time these offworlders have visited Toril. Old artifacts long thought to be forgotten magic now defunct have turned out to be based on the same strange sciences that the invaders use. And, of course, when it comes to matters magical there are few who know more of the Weave than those who's forebears once tried to co-opt it... Restoring even some of its power will assist us in defending our world."
 

KainG

Explorer
Ever since joining the fight against the Dragon Empire, Yin Hun had faced the supernatural more times than he ever would have imagined. While this isn't the first time he's come face-to-face with a godlike being, it still unnerves him just as much as the first time. Even as jaded as he is, Yin Hun still feels awe at the divinity emanating from Torm, ex-god or no.

While Torm speaks to the crowd. Yin Hun taps his comm. "Emiko, intel on Torm?"

"Checking." A few seconds passes while Emiko looks up the data package on Toril. "Torm, aka Torm the True, aka the Loyal Fury. God of duty and loyalty. Part of an alliance with Tyr and Ilmater known as the Triad."

A soldier god, then. "Thanks. Stay online and record this. We'll need intel on these other gods as well," as Torm debriefs the crowd on the current situation. At least now they have a good idea of where things currently stand. When Torm calls upon his group to introduce themselves, and Silhouette has done so, Yin Hun steps up to stand beside her, facing the god.

"I am Yin Hun. I am not from this world. I came to Toril on behalf of the Freedom League to help this planet survive the coming Dragon Empire invasion. As Miss Silhouette said, part of this is recovering possible weapons and fully restoring your native powers."

"There are others like me, agents of the Freedom League with similar missions to mine, although we've encountered difficulty in coordinating in our efforts. If you come across any of them, it would be beneficial to work with them. The Dragon Empire is too powerful to be stopped, but we can form the beginning of an organize resistance to bring the Empire to the negotiation table instead of completely crushing your world. Part of that will require your people to steal or scavenge whatever weapons and tech you can from the invaders. My people can help you understand them, how to use them, and eventually build your own."
 

Buddha the DM

Explorer
Soumral quietly observes, and listens to, everything that is going on around her as she tries to wrap her mind around everything that's happening.
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Silhouette's skin crawled, and somewhere in her mind she was mewling and screaming in a locked box she kept far from her face. A god's presence was a brilliant spotlight, focusing attention from this world and worlds beyond on one spot...and just for a moment that spot would be her, and it felt like death itself. She did not seek attention, but worked from shadows in secret. She wore faces and names, guided other people to do her will while believing it was their own. Even the name she'd chosen for herself on winning her freedom was the name given to a shape in darkness, devoid of features.

Would an ice mephit take a roll through hot coals and feel any differently?

Best to get it over with.

She got to her feet and swept her gaze around the table, as if inviting those gathered to judge her strange appearance. Countering her inner fear with outer defiance.

"You may call me Silhouette," the tiefling said, turning her attention to Torm. "And while the details of our plan may best be discussed with a smaller audience, the broad strokes involve a trip to the Anauroch, in search of old knowledge, both historical and arcane."

"You see, we have discovered evidence that this is not the first time these offworlders have visited Toril. Old artifacts long thought to be forgotten magic now defunct have turned out to be based on the same strange sciences that the invaders use. And, of course, when it comes to matters magical there are few who know more of the Weave than those who's forebears once tried to co-opt it... Restoring even some of its power will assist us in defending our world."
"I thank you for your frankness, Silhouette," Torm replies. He clears his throat and speaks in a softer voice. "I am not surprised to hear that you discovered that the Dragon Empire was here in the ancient past—for that is the truth. Since Ao declared himself one of their Aspects, the remaining gods have learned that he has kept a great deal of the world's past hidden from all of us. Even Oghma wasn't aware of this true history." He pauses. "It seems only a handful of powerful mortals suspected such a connection existed, or at least, that this star empire was a threat to Toril's future. Both Elminister and Khelben Arunsun knew of it; I don't know if either of them knew that these stellar dragons once ruled here. I doubt it. If Ao could keep the truth from the gods, I doubt a mortal would be able to penetrate his magics."

He pauses again and takes a cup of mead offered to him by one of the monks. He drinks it down before continuing. "While I was born and lived as a mortal in the time of Netheril, I never heard of a stellar empire that ruled the cosmos. Perhaps the first goddess of magic, Mystryl, hid the truth from us as well. Maybe those old gods were Aspects as well or knew of the Dragon Empire's existance. I don't know. Without my godhood, I've lost a great deal of the innate knowledge that comes with such power."

He looks at Ulraunt. "It seems that Oghma and his priests might be the best choice to uncover the truth, although learning such knowledge might shake a being's resolve. Your god hasn't spoken to you like you are used to because Oghma is going through his knowledge of the world and the cosmos and is trying to discover what has been kept from him by Ao." He glances back at Silhouette. "My understanding is that other artifacts are being uncovered in various temples and ruins. Items that once seemed mundane or simply magical in an unusual way just sitting on shelves covered in dust. Mortals, it seems, are the best choice to uncover these items and discern the usefulness of them."

"It isn't surprising that such artifacts lay dormant on Toril," Rodan interrupts the ex-god. He doesn't stand but introduces himself to Torm. "I am Rodan. My world was invaded and conquered by the Dragon Empire and it seems yours was a well during a previous age. Perhaps your world was conquered during the time of the Kingdom of Qesemet, which was more than 5,000 years ago during what is known as the Ancient Era. Your system lies on the edge of the current Imperial boundary and might once have been a protectorate of the Royal House of Golion before the formation of the empire. If that was the case, the copper dragons of Meneer, that's Golion's throneworld, would have watched over your planet but not truly interfered. This Ao was probably the Aspect tasked with ensuring that Toril did not come to learn of the empire before it was ready to be annexed into Golion. But, then the Great War pit the Qesemet's Golden Kingdom against the Asamet's Iron Kingdom." Rodan glances at Torm. "The Qesemet are the Metallics and the Asamet are the Chromatics. The war lasted centuries, so knowledge of your world was probably lost during the war and this Ao was cutoff from the divine spheres of Empire, which would have been maddening for an Imperial Aspect."

"So if we could reach these Golions, they might stand with us against the empire?" Torm asks.

"I cannot promise that Grand Duke Kupric will make that choice. Before Emperor Mezzenbone ascended to the Golden Throne, the grand duke was the previous emperor of the Dragon Empire. Each house can only rule for 1,000 years, and the rule of Golion ended 40 years ago. Thus, Golion still has a great deal of prestige in empire, and when Kupric speaks, the galaxy listens. While his Royal House won't get into a shooting war with the loyalists of the Red Emperor, if he can prove that Toril was once under Golion's protection, the invasion could be stopped or altered into a more subtle annexation."

"And if we choose not to accept them on any terms?" Torm's voice rises again.

"Then Toril and its civilizations with burn under the weight of the military might of empire," Rodan replies flatly.

"Bah! We will not just give them Toril or the other worlds of Realmspace!"

"I understand your anger," Rodan replies calmly. "My world shared it, and we fought for every inch of land and ever sentient soul. And we had access to technology that goes beyond what you have on Toril. Even if the empire left behind a few dozen war machines or powerful weapons that can destroy orbiting ships, it will be minuscule against the full force of the empire's military might. If the emperor decides to take your world using ever resource, you have no chance." He pauses for effect. "I do not say these things to be cruel. I say them so that you understand that what you're facing goes beyond one world or one star system. If you have a way to relocate the people of Toril and the other planets in this star system to another sphere, as you call it, you should do so."

The gathered crowd murmurs in displeasure. Torm shakes his head in frustration.

Ever since joining the fight against the Dragon Empire, Yin Hun had faced the supernatural more times than he ever would have imagined. While this isn't the first time he's come face-to-face with a godlike being, it still unnerves him just as much as the first time. Even as jaded as he is, Yin Hun still feels awe at the divinity emanating from Torm, ex-god or no.

While Torm speaks to the crowd. Yin Hun taps his comm. "Emiko, intel on Torm?"

"Checking." A few seconds passes while Emiko looks up the data package on Toril. "Torm, aka Torm the True, aka the Loyal Fury. God of duty and loyalty. Part of an alliance with Tyr and Ilmater known as the Triad."

A soldier god, then. "Thanks. Stay online and record this. We'll need intel on these other gods as well," as Torm debriefs the crowd on the current situation. At least now they have a good idea of where things currently stand. When Torm calls upon his group to introduce themselves, and Silhouette has done so, Yin Hun steps up to stand beside her, facing the god.

"I am Yin Hun. I am not from this world. I came to Toril on behalf of the Freedom League to help this planet survive the coming Dragon Empire invasion. As Miss Silhouette said, part of this is recovering possible weapons and fully restoring your native powers."

"There are others like me, agents of the Freedom League with similar missions to mine, although we've encountered difficulty in coordinating in our efforts. If you come across any of them, it would be beneficial to work with them. The Dragon Empire is too powerful to be stopped, but we can form the beginning of an organize resistance to bring the Empire to the negotiation table instead of completely crushing your world. Part of that will require your people to steal or scavenge whatever weapons and tech you can from the invaders. My people can help you understand them, how to use them, and eventually build your own."
"Everything you and the raptorian have said tells me that this empire of yours thinks its undefeatable. And while I do understand that its power is immense, you have to understand we just won't surrender Toril to them. If we give over the people's lives, it could doom their souls for eternity. They could all end up condemed to the Wall of the Faithless!"

"Lord Torm," Landor replies. "While I cannot say for certain what will happen to those destinied to die under the empire's rule, what I can tell you from my visions of the future is that they will die under the rule of the Dragon Empire, one way or the other. What we need to do is make sure that the world and its people will survive in some form."

"You cannot ask people to become Faithless," Zorbath hisses at Landor.

"Faith. . . might have to change," Landor retorts. "All the gods of Toril might have to evolve beyond one world, one sphere for Toril's civilizations to survive."

"Be like the Mulhorandi?" Torm shakes his head in disgust. "And just merge with these outside gods. That would be worse than death!"

"Then you doom this world too much worse than annexation!" Rodan snaps. "Imagine your precious people taken away in chains by the millions and the world stripped of all its resources! Not just valuable minerals but creatures, trees, water, life, everything taken!" He slams his hands down on the table. "Why can you not see that you are doomed? You must flee this world and take every sentient being with you. One planet is not worth losing millions of lives over!"

Torm sits back in stunned silence.

"Do not raise your voice to him, offworlder! That is Torm the True!" Zorbath shouts. "Or I will cut out your tongue!"

"He is not a god anymore," Rodan replies in a calmer voice. "You cannot hope for him or your remaining gods or even magic to save you. You must flee."

Soumral quietly observes, and listens to, everything that is going on around her as she tries to wrap her mind around everything that's happening.
The raptorian's outburst causes many in the temple to look away or shield their faces. Perhaps many of them still think Torm is still a god. But the look on his face tells Soumral that he is not.

"We cannot do what you are suggesting," Jaheira replies. "To do so would be a betrayal of the world itself. There are spirits of the land and sea that must be considered, as well as ancient forests and other wonders that would be lost. Maybe some could make that choice to leave, but not I."

"Nor I," the Magister agrees. "Toril is my home. I will not leave it."

Rodan stands. "Then you will both die and doom all those that follow you," he says. He gives up his place at the table and walks out of the temple.

"He is no hero," Zorbath says.

"He never said he was one," Landor notes. "But he could be right about some of the world's people leaving, if it comes to that."

"It might be the only way some of Toril's history survives," Ulraunt agrees. "Something to consider."

Torm composes himself and looks at Yin Hun. "So, you think there is a chance this stellar empire might negotiate if we resist its forces just enough to be annoying but not so much as to be a real threat to its power? And how powerful is this Freedom League of yours?"
 

KainG

Explorer
Yin Hun takes a deep breath before answering. Dealing with gods, even former ones, was always a pain. "The Freedom League has ships, but not enough to the Dragon Empire in a straight up fight. We just don't have the numbers or the support. But, assuming we get the opportunity to do so, we can provide ships and weapons in limited quantities. Just not enough to fight off Empire, unfortunately."

"We do have some options here, though, and not all of them are exclusive of each other." He begins ticking off his fingers in succession. "The ideal outcome is that Toril fights off the Empire and remains independent. However, your greatest weapon, your magic, has been crippled, and your tech level is nowhere close to the Empire's, so this is the least likely successful outcome. Still, getting your magic back online is an absolute necessity."

"Next, even though I agree Toril should remain independent, Rodan's suggestion has merit. Getting the support of House Golion can help stave off the worst of the Empire's plans for your world. Even I can recognize that Golion is dedicated in supporting the freedoms and independence of the worlds under their protection. It's an avenue we can pursue while we strengthen yourselves."

"Lastly, in conjunction of pursuing the previous two goals, we absolutely need get your world capable of making any occupation costly for the invaders. It'll be a very dangerous line to balance on, but if you can demonstrate to the Empire that it'll be too much trouble to occupy you while at the same time show yourselves willing to work with them, then there's a chance the Empire won't just come in with a massive and and smash your planet and just take what they want. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to be completely free of the Empire, but by going this route, you can buy some time to strengthen yourselves."

Yin Hun takes another deep breath. Crossing his arms, he gives the god a frank stare. "I understand that you don't want to submit one inch of your world to the invaders. But I'm sorry, your world has already changed, and you'll need to as well to survive. Adapt to the situation. Think up new strategies. Adopt new tactics."

The outworlder shrugs. "Doesn't mean that you'll lose yourselves, nothing's certain. You just got to remember who you are while keep moving forward. Like I said, we can still fight towards independence while still accepting annexation. Maybe not for you, but for your descendants. But we absolutely need to make preparations now to have any chance in the future."
 

Shayuri

Villager
"A great deal of the power of the invasion comes in the form of something called a 'divine sphere,'" Silhouette mentions casually. "They brought it with them. It seems to be a conduit of some kind for the outsider gods. It is, of course, well protected...as any vulnerability would be. It does remain a vulnerability though, if we can find a way to exploit it."

She shrugs.

"The stark reality facing us though is that there's simply too many unknowns to make long term plans and expect them to hold. That is why our immediate goals are fact-finding missions, not military strikes. We simply don't know yet how best to protect ourselves, or how to hurt them."

Her eyes fix on Torm.

"If you wish to slay a mighty foe, first find the hole in his armor, yes? Is that something you...and those you represent...can help us do?"
 

Knightfall

World of Kulan DM
Yin Hun takes a deep breath before answering. Dealing with gods, even former ones, was always a pain. "The Freedom League has ships, but not enough to the Dragon Empire in a straight up fight. We just don't have the numbers or the support. But, assuming we get the opportunity to do so, we can provide ships and weapons in limited quantities. Just not enough to fight off Empire, unfortunately."

"We do have some options here, though, and not all of them are exclusive of each other." He begins ticking off his fingers in succession. "The ideal outcome is that Toril fights off the Empire and remains independent. However, your greatest weapon, your magic, has been crippled, and your tech level is nowhere close to the Empire's, so this is the least likely successful outcome. Still, getting your magic back online is an absolute necessity."

"Next, even though I agree Toril should remain independent, Rodan's suggestion has merit. Getting the support of House Golion can help stave off the worst of the Empire's plans for your world. Even I can recognize that Golion is dedicated in supporting the freedoms and independence of the worlds under their protection. It's an avenue we can pursue while we strengthen yourselves."

"Lastly, in conjunction of pursuing the previous two goals, we absolutely need get your world capable of making any occupation costly for the invaders. It'll be a very dangerous line to balance on, but if you can demonstrate to the Empire that it'll be too much trouble to occupy you while at the same time show yourselves willing to work with them, then there's a chance the Empire won't just come in with a massive and and smash your planet and just take what they want. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to be completely free of the Empire, but by going this route, you can buy some time to strengthen yourselves."
"He's quite the orator," Landor whispers to Imoen next to Silhouette.

KainG said:
Yin Hun takes another deep breath. Crossing his arms, he gives the god a frank stare. "I understand that you don't want to submit one inch of your world to the invaders. But I'm sorry, your world has already changed, and you'll need to as well to survive. Adapt to the situation. Think up new strategies. Adopt new tactics."

The outworlder shrugs. "Doesn't mean that you'll lose yourselves, nothing's certain. You just got to remember who you are while keep moving forward. Like I said, we can still fight towards independence while still accepting annexation. Maybe not for you, but for your descendants. But we absolutely need to make preparations now to have any chance in the future."
Torm sits quietly as Yin Hun speaks. He nods at certain points and shakes his head at others.

"You speak well," he says. "But I don't know if the gods will accept being absorbed by this Dragon Empire. I know that neither Tempus nor Tyr will just bow down without a fight even if other gods submit. Even now, those gods fight with the rest of the pantheon against the Mulhorandi gods. The power of their new forms is, frightening, even to me."

"So, indeed, that part from my visions has already begun," Landor says. "That doesn't bode well from what I've seen."

"All the more reason to listen to Rodan and Yun Hun," Yoshimo adds. "Better to fight from the shadows or through political guile than on a battlefield against a superior foe."

"A great deal of the power of the invasion comes in the form of something called a 'divine sphere,'" Silhouette mentions casually. "They brought it with them. It seems to be a conduit of some kind for the outsider gods. It is, of course, well protected...as any vulnerability would be. It does remain a vulnerability though, if we can find a way to exploit it."

She shrugs.

"The stark reality facing us though is that there's simply too many unknowns to make long term plans and expect them to hold. That is why our immediate goals are fact-finding missions, not military strikes. We simply don't know yet how best to protect ourselves, or how to hurt them."
"That, I think we can all agree on," Ulraunt says. "Lord Torm, their mission to the great desert has to be the priority right now."

Shayuri said:
Her eyes fix on Torm.

"If you wish to slay a mighty foe, first find the hole in his armor, yes? Is that something you...and those you represent...can help us do?"
"The gods are doing what they can," Torm replies. "While they don't like to admit it, no deities power is completely unlimited. Talos is relishing this conflict and the destruction it is causing but that's his nature. Only Lord Kelemvor's rising power is keeping the Storm Lord in check, but if Kelemvor should fall. . ."

"You think he might switch sides," Ulraunt suggests.

"If it offers him a chance to spread destruction on a grander stage, then yes. However, what worries the gods more are the behaviors of Bane and Cyric. Bane, surprisingly, fights with the other gods against the Mulhorandi, which is not like him, at all. Cyric has gone completely dark during this conflict. Oghma believes that most if not all of the Zhentarim's network has gone over to the empire. I doubt they went over without either Bane or Cyric's blessing."

The ex-god pauses. "Oghma thinks that it is the knowledge of Dragon Empire that drove Cyric to force the scribe Rinda to create the Cyrinishad. And that its knowledge was somehow tied to the cosmic truths of what the empire calls the Dragonstar Galaxy. That forbidden knowledge nearly killed Mask and drove Cyric insane. It was lost near here. Finding it might a good idea, but I don't think anyone should read it."

He looks at Silhouette. "Perhaps it could drive these outsider gods insane, or maybe they will be immune. It could also be a key to this divine sphere but that's just a guess on my part. The Twelve don't seem to be aware of it, or it isn't important to them.

"Regardless, it seems your mission to Anauroch takes priority. It comes from not only Lord Kelemvor, but also Shar who is as I said eariler, surprisingly, standing side-by-side with Kelemvor in this fight. The other gods believe he;s taking Mystra's death harder than he lets on, and the divine rumor is he's turned to Shar for solace." (Torm motions with air quotes as he says 'divine rumor'.) "While her primary avatar stands guard over Calimport, she fight's side by side with him with amazing vigor."

"Ew, that's just not, right," Imoen mumbles with a look of disgust.

"Gods are strange creatures with strange desires," The Magister says. "Death and shadow often go hand in hand."

"Yes, well, you're going to need a quick way to get to the desert, and there might be an option near Nashkel in the Cloud Peaks. Rumors amongst the faithful of Gond of an ancient flying machine that some would call a spelljammer. Little is known about it other than it is shaped like a colossal insect as is guard by Death."

"What do you mean by death?" Yoshimo asks.

"Just that, Death. No other facts seem to exist," Torm replies. "Perhaps there is something here in Candlekeep."

"Well, that sounds just awful," Bentley replies.

"Aye, but if it does exist, it will get you all to Anauroch in no time. If it doesn't exist, you will need another option. A sailing ship, perhaps. Magister, can you Wind Walk them there?"

"By myself, unlikely," she replies. "I'd need another Chosen to help me, and even then, I could probably get us as far as Boareskyr Bridge, maybe Berdusk. And it would exhaust me, it could even kill me if I push too hard."

"Could you get them to Nashkel?"

"That would be easier, but I'm supposed to go to Waterdeep."

"You can do that afterwards," Torm insists, loudly. "And while I am primarily a warrior again, I can lend you my aid. Be your achoring point here and then guide you back."

"I am willing," she says.

Torm nods and looks at all gathered. "What say you? Will you seek out this fying ship to see if it exists?"
 

Buddha the DM

Explorer
Soumral takes note of everything that Torm says about the other gods, and hopes that she can find evidence to help figure out what is going on.
 

KainG

Explorer
"A flying ship? That certainly would be useful. Considering how long it would take us to get to Anauroch by foot, it might be worth the risk to detour south instead of north."

"Does anyone know how to operate this... spelljammer?"
 

Shayuri

Villager
"Doubtful. If only there were a library around here somewhere," Silhouette said with an amused glint in her eye. "That said, having such a vessel under our control answers any number of questions that previously had no good reply. It would be worth our time to find it."
 

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