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Fantasy A Tempest of Fears: a d20 Dungeons & Dragons adventure (Primary)

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  1. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6

    [IMG]

    Ashenport, a fishing town hunched on an ice-white curve of windfrozen shore on the Sword Coast North, is unremarkable.

    Luskan, leagues to the southeast, maintains a considerable militia and the shadowy Arcane Brotherhood to defend its walls. Ten-Towns, far and northeast, is a respite for renegades of all kinds, and a hard survivor because of it. Neverwinter, to the south, has the ill legends of Neverwinter Wood to guard it from the depredations of tribes of orc, hobgoblin, and bugbears that boil like plagues of bloody locusts from the Spine of the World.

    A settlement on the Sword Coast must be hard, well-resourced, and well-defended, in order to endure on this frontier. The towns and cities of the Sword Coast are so. One and all are remarkable.

    Ashenport, a fishing town standing on an ice-white curve of windfrozen shore on the Sword Coast North, is unremarkable.
  2. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    The character sheets

    Name: Zaid Nejem
    Race: Human (Bedine)
    Class: Crusader 6
    Hit Points: 99
    Hit Dice: 6d10 + 18 (Normal CON) + 6 (Amulet)

    Initiative: +1
    Speed: 20 feet

    AC: 23 = 10 + 9 (Armor) + 3 (Shield) + 1 (DEX)
    Touch AC: 11
    Flat-Footed AC: 22

    Base Attack: +6/+1
    Grapple: +10/+5
    Attacks and Damage:
    +1 Longsword
    +11/+6
    1d8+1+4
    Slashing
    Composite Longbow (+1 STR Allowance)
    +7/+2
    1d8+1
    Piercing

    Face/Reach: 5x5, 5 ft
    Special Attacks:
    Maneuvers – 7 Known, 5 Readied, 3 Available
    Revitalizing Strike
    White Raven Tactics
    Tactical Strike
    Shield Block
    Leading the Attack
    Vanguard Strike
    Stone Bones
    Stances – 2 Known, 1 Active
    Iron Guard’s Glare
    Tactics of the Wolf
    Smite
    1/day +CHA to attack, + Crusader Level to damage
    Furious Counterstrike – See Steely Resolve

    Special Qualities:
    Indomitable Soul (+CHA to Will)
    Zealous Surge (1 Reroll/day)
    Steely Resolve 10
    - Delays the first up to the first 10 damage received per round by one round
    - With additional damage, Furious Counterstrike is improved

    Saves: Fort 19, Ref 14, Will 18
    Abilities: Str 19 (+4), Dex 13 (+1), Con 16[18] (+3)[(+4)], Int 14 (+2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 16 (+3)

    Skills:
    Acrobatics +2 = Level + 3 + Ability – ACP
    Diplomacy +12 = Level + 3 + Ability
    Intimidate +12 = Level + 3 + Ability
    Knowledge (History) +11 = Level + 3 + Ability
    Knowledge (Religion) +11 = Level + 3 + Ability
    Perception +5 = (Level + 3)/2 + Ability
    Ride +10= Level + 3 + Ability

    Feats:
    Adaptive Style
    White Raven Defense
    Extra Granted Maneuver
    Stone Power
    Power Attack
    Clarion Commander

    Languages:
    Common
    Midani
    Chondathan
    Damaran

    Alignment: LN
    Deity: Kelemvor Lyonsbane
    Gender: Male
    Age: 30
    Height: 187 cm
    Weight: 72 kg

    Equipment:
    +1 Longsword
    +1 Fullplate Armor
    +1 Heavy Steel Shield
    Ring of Sustenance
    Amulet of Health +2
    Composite Longbow, 40 arrows
    10x Torches
    Backpack, Waterskin, Bedroll, Sack, Flint and Steel, Tent, Traveler’s Outfit
    Silk Rope
    Grappling Hook
    Spyglass
    Crowbar
    Chain
    3x Chalk
    Shovel
    Silver Holy Symbol of Kelemvor
    365 gold

    Weight: Roughly 80 pounds, heavy load is 350

    Appearance:


    Personality:

    There are essentially two Zaids. One, the Zaid of peace, is stern, gruff, dour, and abrasive, although he’s said to have a cheery side. Somewhere. Allegedly. He’s noted for being surprisingly well-spoken when he actually bothers to talk.
    The second, the Zaid of war, fights like a man possessed. He feels closest to the death god in the midst of battle, and this infuses him with confidence and tempered bravado. He instinctively begins to bark orders, and has little patience for folly.

    Biography:

    “Kelemvor rides the winds.”
    This was a saying as old as the wastes in Anauroch, and like all Bedine, Zaid Nejem took it to heart. The winds brought with them sandstorms. Searing heat. The wind polluted the water. The wind was death. Kelemvor was death. Kelemvor rode the wind.
    It was a harsh life, but a typical one. Sleep by day, roam by night. Conserve the water, the water is life. Appease Kelemvor and he will let you keep your water. Appease Kelemvor and the winds will not bury you during the day. Appease Kelemvor, for he is death. Kelemvor rode the wind.
    One day the wind spoke. Not to all the clan, only Zaid. Kelemvor spoke to Zaid. “Leave and spread my judgment,” the wind said. And the wind brought with it a ring by which Zaid would never want for water again. The greatest of Kelemvor’s blessings. Zaid left. He fought many battles, he slew the agents of chaos, he instilled order where there was none, he destroyed the abominable undeath when he saw it. He did not return to Anauroch, and his clan presumes he had walked out into the desert to be one with Kelemvor in death.
    Not wholly inaccurate.
    [/quote]



    Name: Gozen Yuriko
    Race: Human
    Class: Fighter 1/Rogue 5
    Hit Dice: 1d10 + 5d8: 3x10+2 + 6x5 + 10 = 72.
    Initiative: +9 = +5 (Dex) +4 (Improved Initiative)
    Speed: 30 feet

    AC: 20 = 10 +4 [blueshine mithral shirt] + 1 [enhancement from shirt] + 5 [dexterity]
    Touch AC: 15
    Flat-Footed AC: 15 (uncanny dodge)

    Base Attack: (handheld) +4, (missile) +6
    Grapple: +4
    Attacks/Damage:
    +1 Dagger +10 [1d4+2, crit 19-20/x2, range inc 10 ft., 1 lb., light, piercing]
    Masterwork Daggers +10 [1d4+1, crit 19-20/x2, range inc 10 ft., 1 lb, light, piercing]
    Light Crossbow +9 [1d8, crit 19-20/x2, range inc 80 ft., 4 lb, piercing]]
    Face/Reach: 5x5, 5 ft
    Special Attacks: Sneak Attack +3d6 (base). vs. evil creatures: +3d8. Note also Iaijutsu Focus.
    Special Qualities : Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Trap Sense +1, Trapfinding
    Saves: Fort: 15, Ref 19 (20 vs traps), Will 12 (10 vs. fear)
    Abilities: Strength 12 (+1) Dexterity 21 (+5) Constitution 15 (+2) Intelligence 17 (+3) Wisdom 13 (+1) Charisma 13 (+1)

    Skills: (8 + Int = 11)
    Acrobatics: 6 +3 +5 (Dex) = +14
    Deception: 6+3 +1 (Cha) = +10
    Athletics: 6+3 +1 (Str) = +10
    Iaijutsu Focus: 6 + 3 +1 (Cha) = +10
    Diplomacy: 6 + 3 +1 (Cha) = +10
    Stealth: 6 + 3 +5 (Dex) +2 (Blueshine shirt) = +16
    Thievery: 6 +3 +5 (Dex) +2 (Masterwork Thieves Tools) = +14
    Disable Device: 6 +3 +3 (Int) +2 (Masterwork Thieves Tools) = +14
    Gather Information: 6 +3 +1 (Cha) = +10
    Intimidate: 6 +3 +1 (Cha) = +10
    Perception: 6 +3 +1 (Wis) = +10

    Feats:
    Improved Initiative: +4 to Initiative
    Travel Devotion: 1/day, for 1 minute, every round use a swift action to move up to 30 feet.
    Weapon Finesse: use DEX instead of STR for weapon attack rolls.
    Craven: +6 to sneak attack damage, -2 to fear saves
    Sacred Strike: against evil creatures, your sneak attack damage is in d8s, not d6s.
    Martial Study: Cloak of Deception - as swift action, greater invisibility until end of your turn.
    Martial Stance: Child of Shadow - while in stance, 20% miss chance from concealment.


    Languages: Chondothan, Common, Elven and Kozakuran
    Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
    Deity: Chirasu
    Gender: Female
    Age: 27
    Height: 4'9''
    Weight: 125lb

    Equipment: 15 lb Weapons / Armor / Shield,
    Blueshine mithral shirt +1 (2,600 gp)
    Dagger +1 (2,000 gp)
    --Least Crystal of Return (300 gp): allows to draw dagger as a free action.
    2 Masterwork Daggers (300 gp)
    -- 2 x Least Crystal of Return (300 gp): allows daggers to be drawn as free actions.
    Healing Belt - (3 charges per day) 1 charge: Heals 2d8 points of damage. 2 charges: Heals 3d8 points of damage. 3 charges: Heals 4d8 points of damage. 1Lb (750gp)Vanisher Cloak (3 charges per day) - 1 charge: You become invisible for 4 rounds. 2 charges: You and one adjacent ally become invisible for 3 rounds. 3 charges: You and up to three adjacent allies become invisible for 2 rounds. 1Lb (2500g)
    Gloves of Dexterity +2 (4000 gp)


    1 lb Crossbow bolts (quiver of 10) x3
    1 lb Masterwork Thieves' tools
    Backpack 2lb 2gp
    Bedroll 5lb 1sp
    Flint and Steel 1gp
    Scroll Case .5lb 1gp
    Torch x2 2lb 2cp
    Pouch, belt .5lb 1gp
    Rations x 5 5lb 50sp
    Rope, silk 5lb 10gp
    20 Arrows 3lb 1gp
    Ink 8gp
    Inkpen 1sp
    Traveling attire

    Light warhorse (Daisy) (150 gp)
    Military saddle (20 gp)
    Saddlebags (4 gp)
    About 5 gp in change
    Weight: 20lb

    Appearance:



    Personality:

    Note recovered from the private correspondence of NAME WITHHELD

    I see you've expressed an interest in acquiring some artifacts of questionable availability. Well, let me assure you that you have also hired the best thief in the business. While it's true that my exploits might have become something of local gossip around Waterdeep (although I never filled the City Watch mess with goats) I can assure you that I am nothing less than professional and discreet. Certain other parties might call me arrogant or careless: I can simply tell you that I have much to be proud of.

    Attached is a speculative fee for my services. Expenses will be added later.

    Biography:

    (From the private diary of Court Investigator Masahiro)

    We have long been aware of some infighting among the ninja clans: it has only recently come to light why. It seems that a promising daughter of the Uji clan (Uji Murasaki) has eloped with Gozen Daisuke, a member of the rather down-at-heel Gozen clan (my lord might remember the complete fiasco that the Gozen made of the Ono job). It appears that they met while assigned to kill the same target. This has left the ninja clans in disarray. The Uji believe the Gozen have slighted them- the Gozen say that the Uji have taken what little honour they had left.

    Daisuke and Murasaki themselves have fled Kozakura, making for the barbarian cities outside of Kara-Tur. As long as the ninja clans keep fighting among themselves, I see no reason for them to be troubled.

    Perhaps I am sentimental, but we all deserve a chance at some happiness.

    ---

    Update on the Gozen situation: a daughter has been born. My sources point to the family having settled in Waterdeep, and I note with amusement the deaths of several prominent figures. It seems that Kozakura has another export.

    ---

    (poster from Waterdeep, dated twenty years later)

    WANTED

    REWARD: 5,000 GOLD

    FOR THE CAPTURE OF THE 'WATERDEEP WHISPER'

    FOR THE THEFT OF:

    THE DAGGER OF SELUNE

    THE DRAGON'S EYE

    GRAND THEFT CARRIAGE

    AND VARIOUS OTHER VIOLATIONS OF PROPERTY RIGHTS

    BY ORDER OF THE CITY WATCH



    Name: Ivaela Teuthor (Moonvow)
    Race: Half-ElfClass: Paladin of Freedom 6 (Planar Paladin lvl 6)Hit Dice: 6d10+18= 91Initiative: +0Speed: 20 ftAC: 21 (24 w/ shield)Touch AC: 10Flat-Footed AC: 21 (24 w/shield)Base Attack: +6Grapple: +11Attacks: +12 lance, +12 longswordDamage: 1d8+8 lance, 1d8+5 longswordFace/Reach: 5x5, 5 ft Special Attacks: Smite Evil 2/daySpecial Qualities: Aura of Good, Detect Evil, Divine Grace, Lay on Hands, Aura of Resolve, Divine Health, Turn Undead, Special Mount, Celestial MountSaves: Fort -23, Ref 17, Will 17Abilities: Str-18 (20), Dex - 11, Con -16, Int -13, Wis -10, Cha - 20Skills: Deception + 14, Diplomacy + 20, Knowledge (Religion) +10, Ride +9, Sense Motive +9Feats: Power Attack, Mounted Combat, Ride-by Attack, Spirited Charge, Divine MightLanguages: Common, Elven, ChondathanAlignment: Chaotic GoodDeity: SehanineRegion: Silver Marches
    Gender: Female
    Age: 25Height: 5'6"Weight: 145lbSpells per day: 3
    1st: Bless Weapon, Golden Barding (SpC), Lesser
    RestorationEquipment: Gauntlets of Ogre Strength +2 (4k)
    +1 Full Plate (2.5k)
    +1 lance of Sudden Stunning (4k) w/ Wand Chamber (100, DunSc) Least Crystal of Return (300)
    - Wand of Rhino's Rush (SpC)
    +1 heavy steel shield (1k)
    Masterwork longsword (300)
    Miscellaneous adventuring stuff
    50 gp
    Weight: Appearance: Though half-elven, her looks incline strongly toward the elven side of her heritage in most respects; pale-skinned, with black hair (medium length, worn tied back for convenience) and gold-flecked deep blue eyes, she bears a striking resemblance to her moon elf mother. Her build is a little more solid, but this has as much to do with the rigours of battle (and wearing full armour without fainting) as it does with bloodlines.Personality: Strongly idealistic, this half-elf wants to believe the best of people, even as she knows many will not live up to this hope. She is devout, and strongly identifies with elven culture and traditions. By and large, however, Ivaela is of a happy nature; she cares a great deal for others, and enjoys making new friends.Biography: Ivaela is the daughter of an elven priestess of Sehanine and a handsome wandering human ranger who earned her mother’s admiration while fighting side-by-side to defend an elven shrine against marauding orcs. Raised in her mother’s faith, taught that Sehanine’s kindness and love would embrace her for all her life as long as she held to the path of good, Ivaela found herself determined to become one who might defend that path. With her dear friend, the unicorn Eiros, she carries the light of Sehanine with her wherever she goes.Name: EirosRace: Celestial Unicorn (Large Magical Beast)Hit Dice: 6d10+30= 103Initiative: +4Speed: 60 ftAC: 23(10 -1 size + 4 Dex + 10 natural)Touch AC: 13Flat-Footed AC: 19Base Attack: +6Grapple: +16Attacks: +14 hornDamage: 1d8+9 hornFace/Reach: 5x5, 5 ft Special Attacks: Smite Evil 1/daySpecial Qualities: Darkvision, Magic Circle Against Evil, Spell-like abilities, immunity to poison, charm, compulsion, low-light vision, scent, wild empathy, DR 5/magic, Resist 5 Acid/Cold/Electricity, SR 11Saves: Fort -21, Ref 19, Will 17Abilities: Str-22, Dex - 18, Con -21, Int -10, Wis -21, Cha - 24Skills: Athletics + 15, Perception +14, Sense Motive +14, Survival +14Feats: Power Attack, Track, Improved Bull Rush, Martial Study (Crusader's Strike), Martial Stance (Iron Guard's Glare), Shock Trooper, Languages: Common, Elven, ChondathanAlignment: Chaotic GoodDeity: Sehanine/LurueGender: MaleAge: 298Appearance: Sea-blue eyes, silvery coat, generally shiny/celestial-ish.



    Name: Malaeus Balle
    Race: Human (Halruaa)Class: WarmageHit Dice: 6d – 31HPInitiative: +2Speed: 30ftAC: 6Touch AC: 2Flat-Footed AC: 4Base Attack: +3Grapple: 4Attacks:
    M: 4
    R: 5
    Damage:
    Bowstaff
    - QS: 1d4+1/1d6+1
    - LB: 1d6+1/1d8+1
    Dagger
    -1d3+1/1d4+1
    Face/Reach: 5x5, 5 ftSpecial Attacks: NoneSpecial Qualities: None

    Saves:
    Fort – 2 + 1 = 13
    Ref – 2 + 2 =14
    Will – 5 + 1 = 16
    Abilities:
    Str – 12 (M: +1)
    Dex – 12 + 1 + 2 = 15 (+2)
    Con – 12 (+1)
    Int – 15 + 1 = 16 (+3)
    Wis – 12 (+1)
    Cha – 16 (+3)
    Skills:
    Craft [Alchemy] – 12
    Intimidate – 12
    Linguistics – 12
    Knowledge [Arcana] – 12
    Knowledge [History] – 12
    Perception – 10
    Spellcraft – 12
    Stealth – 6.5
    Feats:Advanced Learning – At 3rd, 6th, 11th, and 16th level, can add an evocation spell to spell list that is no higher than that of the highest level the warmage already knows. Once a new spell is selected, it is forever added to that warmage’s spell list and can be cast just like any other spell on the warmage’s list. [CA]Armored Mage (Light) – Allows the warmage to avoid arcane spell failure as long as he sticks to light armor and light shields. [CA]Martial Weapon Proficiency - Can use martial weapons.Point Blank Shot - You get a +1 bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls with ranged spells that deal hit point damage at ranges of up to 30 feet. Spells that deal only ability damage, bestow penalties on ability scores, or deal energy drain gain a +1 bonus on their attack rolls but get no bonus on damage. [CA]
    Precise Shot - You can fire a ranged spell at an opponent engaged in melee without taking the usual – 4 penalty on your attack roll. [CA]

    Sudden Silent – Once per day, you can apply the effect of the Silent Spell feat to any spell you cast without increasing the level of the spell or specially preparing it ahead of time. You can still use Silent Spell normally if you have it.Warmage Edge - Whenever a warmage casts a spell that deals hit point damage, he adds his Intelligence bonus (if any) to the amount of damage dealt. A single spell can never gain this extra damage more than once per casting. If a spell deals damage for more than 1 round, it deals this extra damage in each round. Does not apply to scrolls scribed or activated by the warmage, nor magical items with the exception of a staff. [CA]Weapon Finesse - You can treat touch spells as light weapons and use your Dexterity modifier (instead of your Strength modifier) on your touch attack rolls with such spells.Weapon Focus (Ranged Spells) - Choose one category of weapon-like spells (ranged spells or touch spells) and gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls made with such spells. You can gain this feat a second time, choosing a different category of weapon-like spells. [CA]Spells 6/7/6/4
    Advanced Learning Spells
    Combust [SC] Subject takes 1d8/level fire damage and might catch fire.
    Chain Missile [SC] Multiple missiles deal 1d4+1 damage each, then strike secondary targets.
    Languages:
    Common
    Halruaa
    Draconic
    Elven
    Goblin
    Alignment: Chaotic NeutralDeity: MystraGender: MaleAge: 27Height: 5'9”Weight: 122lbs
    Equipment:
    Magic Items
    Bowstaff - +1 Masterwork Quarterstaff/+1 Longbow 4lb
    QS 1d4/1d4 1d6/1d6 ×2
    LB 1d6 1d8 ×3 100 ft.
    Mithril Chainshirt –12lb -
    Arcanist Gloves - +2 CL of next 1st level arcane spell
    Boots of Desperation – At half or less HP, grants +30ft movement speed and +5 dodge to AC against attacks of opportunity.
    Healing Belt - 1 charge: Heals 2d8 points of damage. 2 charges: Heals 3d8 points of damage. 3 charges: Heals 4d8 points of damage. 1Lb
    Vanisher Cloak - 1 charge: You become invisible for 4 rounds. 2 charges: You and one adjacent ally become invisible for 3 rounds. 3 charges: You and up to three adjacent allies become invisible for 2 rounds. 1Lb

    Gear
    Backpack 2lb
    Bedroll 5lb
    Flint and Steel
    Scroll Case .5lb
    Torch x2 2lb
    Spellbook 3lb
    Pouch, belt .5lb
    Rations x 5 5lb
    Rope, silk 5lb
    20 Arrows 3lb
    Ink
    Inkpen
    Dagger 1lb
    1d3 1d4 19–20/×2 10 ft
    529gp and change

    Mount
    Warhorse, light
    Military Saddle - +2 Ride 30lb
    Saddlebags 8lb
    Weight: 45lbs Max Load: 130lbsAppearance: Personality: Malaeus Balle enjoys destroying his enemies and those of his allies. If a fight does not have enough destruction he will see to it that it does. His solution to any problem is a well placed Fireball much to the woe of those around him. Impatient, arrogant, and quite chaotic he is more of a bane to his own friends than he is to his enemies. Brought up in a realm where magic and battle is the norm, it is no wonder that he feels right at home in the midst of a battle, flinging magic everywhere.No fight is a good fight without a bit of magic exploding everywhere.” - Malaeus, just before releasing a Fireball.Other than his “destructive nature”, Malaeus is very cautious about sharing his knowledge in the arcane, a trait that was learned from his own masters and the other wizards back home. He is courteous and well-mannered toward his friends and those he perceives as his equals or betters. His arrogance tends to get him into trouble and causes him to look down on those who are incapable of even casting a simple cantrip. Although he claims he left Halruaa on his own in search of adventure, one can only wonder if he was actually banished for his behavior.Biography: Malaeus Balle hails from Halruaa, a land where magic is in the blood and a good number of the population are wizards. At a young age he showed an aptitude for understanding the more complicated art of the arcane, therefore he was accepted into an apprenticeship to a powerful wizard. When the master realized how his apprentice's personality leaned toward the destructive side, young Malaeus was given over to an instructor who could better refine his talents for the good of Halruaa.For years he trained in the art of war and battle magic until he completed his training. Wanting to do more than just fight barbarians and pirates and knowing that he would never be able to obtain a seat on the Council of Elders for being a warmage, Malaeus left his homeland in search of adventure and a reputation for himself. His wanderings would eventually lead him to the Sword Coast North, far to the north and far from his home.


    Name: Darron
    Race: Human
    Class: Druid
    Hit Dice: 6d8+2 Hitpoints: 24 + 5x6 + 12 = 66
    Initiative: +1Speed: 30 feet (6 squares)AC: 10 +3 (Leather Scale Armor) +1 (enhancement) +1 (Dex) +1 (Wooden Shield) = 16Touch AC: 11Flat-Footed AC: 13Base Attack: +4Grapple: +4Attacks: (in human form)Scimitar: +4Damage: 1d8, crit 19-20/x2Face/Reach: 5x5, 5 ftSpecial Attacks: Spells, Wild Shape 2/daySpecial Qualities: Nature Sense, Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Trackless Step, Resist Nature's Lure, Spontaneous Casting Summon Nature's Ally spellsSaves: Fort -17, Ref -13, Will - 21 (+4 if against fey spell-like abilities)
    Abilities: STR 10 (+0), DEX 12(+1), CON 15(+2), INT 12(+1), WIS 22(+6), CHA 12(+1)

    Skills: (4+Int = 5).
    Spellcraft: 8 + 3 + 6 (Wis) = +17
    Knowledge (Nature): 8 +3 +1 (Int) +2 (Nature Sense) = +14
    Perception: 8 + 3 + 6 (Wis) = +17
    Handle Animal: 8 + 3 + 1 (Cha) = +12 (+16 if it's your own animal companion).
    Acrobatics: 8 + 3 + 1 (Dex) = +12
    Wild Empathy: 6 (Class Level) +1 (Cha) = +7

    Feats:
    (Starting character feat) - Natural Spell
    (Bonus DM-is-being-nice feat) - Greenbound Summoning: all your summons have the plant type and various plant immunities as set out in Lost Empires of Faerun.
    (Human feat) - Extend Spell: double the duration of a spell, albeit it uses 1 spell slot higher.
    (Level 2 feat) - Ashbound: double the duration of your summon spells ... and all your summons have a +3 luck bonus to their attack rolls.
    (Level 4 feat) - Multiattack: normally your Wild Shape's secondary attacks are at -5. This reduces the penalty to -2. So if you're in Wild Shape and you have more than one attack, this helps.
    (Level 6 feat) - Initiate of Nature: rebuke or command animals or plants as an evil cleric rebukes undead, (3 + CHA mod per day). You can control a total of 12 HD per class levels. Also gives you (at these levels) the spell Mold Touch as a 3rd level spell.

    Languages: Common, Sylvan, Druidic
    Alignment: Neutral Good
    Deity: Silvanus
    Gender: Male
    Age: 20
    Height: 5'10"
    Weight: 140lbs
    Spells: Druid 6; 1d20+6At will/5/5/3Level 0: AllLevel 1: Aspect of the Wolf, Entangle, Obscuring Mist, Endure Elements, Faerie FireLevel 2: Blinding Spittle, Barkskin, Snake's Swiftness (Mass), Animalistic Power, Luminous ArmorLevel 3: Protection from Energy, Greater Magic Fang, Bite of the Werewolf
    Animal Companion: Summer, a shaggy-haired wolf. Darron raised him from a cub and they've been inseparable ever since.


    Animal Companion (Summer) stats:
    Size/Type: Medium Animal
    Hit Dice: 6d8+12 = 3x8 + 12 + 5x6 = 66 hitpoints
    Initiative: +2
    Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares)
    Armor Class: 18 (+2 Dex, +6 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 16
    Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+2
    Attack: Bite +4 melee (1d6+2)
    Full Attack: Bite +4 melee (1d6+2)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Trip - hit with bite attack, can attempt trip as a free action.
    Special Qualities: Low-light vision, Scent, Link, Share spells, Evasion, Devotion
    Saves: Fort 15, Ref 16, Will 11 (+5 vs. enchantment etc)
    Abilities: Str 15 (+2), Dex 17 (+3), Con 15 (+2), Int 2 (-4), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 6 (-3)
    Skills: Stealth +3, Perception +3, Survival +1*
    Feats: TrackB, Weapon Focus (bite)

    Darron's Stats in Wild Shape as wolf:
    Size/Type: Medium Animal
    Hit Dice: 6d8+2 = 66 hitpoints
    Initiative: +2
    Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares)
    Armor Class: 14 (+2 Dex, +2 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 12
    Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+5
    Attack: Bite+7 melee (1d6+2)
    Full Attack: Bite+7 melee (1d6+2)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Spells, Trip
    Special Qualities: Low-light vision, scent
    Saves: Fort 17, Ref 16, Will 21
    Abilities: Str 13 (+1), Dex 15 (+2), Con 15 (+2), Int 12 (+1), Wis 22 (+6), Cha 12 (+1)
    Skills: Spellcraft: 8 + 3 + 6 (Wis) = +17
    Knowledge (Nature): 8 +3 +1 (Int) +2 (Nature Sense) = +14
    Perception: 8 + 3 + 6 (Wis) = +17
    Handle Animal: 8 + 3 + 1 (Cha) = +12 (+16 if it's your own animal companion).
    Acrobatics: 8 + 3 + 1 (Dex) = +12
    Wild Empathy: 6 (Class Level) +1 (Cha) = +7
    Feats:
    Track, Weapon Focus (bite), Natural Spell, Greenbound Summoning,
    Ashbound Summoning, Multiattack, Initiate of Nature

    Equipment:
    Incandescent Blue Ioun Stone (+2 to WIS) (8,000 gp)
    Rod of Bodily Restoration (3,100 gp)
    Wand of Lessor Vigor (750 gp)
    Leather Scale Armor +1 (1,000 gp)
    Wooden Shield
    Scimitar
    Backpack
    Bedroll
    Winter blanket
    Flint and steel
    Waterskin
    Rope, hempen
    Traveler's Outfit
    Appearance: Shaggy black hair, wiry build, bright green eyes the colour of forest moss.

    Personality: Darron is observant, has a healthy amount of common sense and is not prone to excessive risk-taking, and posesses a sort of amiable curiosity about everything. Unsurprisingly, he tends to favour nature-related things and is more comfortable being outdoors than in a settlement, but he takes it with good cheer. He did leave home to see the world, after all.
    Biography: Darron has led a very sheltered life. He was born into the Ring of Swords, a druidic circle devoted to Silvanus in the depths of Neverwinter Wood, to a human couple who had left Waterdeep in search of a simpler life. There he spent a happy childhood and adolescence communing with animals, learning their secrets, even learning to shapeshift into them - but with precious little contact with other human beings other than the few in his circle and the few travellers who came through. He felt little need to venture outside, as there was plenty in the wood to occupy a curious youngster. Enough battle, too. Neverwinter Wood was reasonably peaceful, but only because the Ring of Swords was devoted to keeping it that way, and thus Darron was able to test his mettle in combat as well.


    After two decades, however, Darron began to wonder about life outside the wood. What were people like, elsewhere? How did they live? What was Waterdeep - a place he had only heard of from his parents' stories of chaos and more people than one could ever hope to know - really like? And so, with the blessing of the circle who had raised him, Darron ventured out to see the world.

    He met Ivaela Teuthor by serendipity: not long after he left home, he saw her travelling on her unicorn and was curious as he'd never seen that kind of creature up close before, and ventured out to say hello. They hit it off and have been travelling together since.


    Name: Russell Holston
    Race: Human (Tethyrian)
    Class: Cleric 6
    Hit Dice: 6d8 = 54 + 18 = 72

    Initiative: +1
    Speed: 20 ft

    AC: 10 + 8 full plate +1 light steel shield + 1 dex +2 enhancement = 22
    Touch AC: 11
    Flat-footed AC: 21

    Base Attack: +7
    Grapple: +7
    Attacks: +10 (+4 BAB, +4 str mod, +1 enhancement bonus, +1 weapon focus)
    Damage: 1d8 +5 (4 str mod + 1 enhancement bonus)
    Face/Reach: 5x5, 5 ft
    Special Attacks:
    Special Qualities: Alignment Aura, Spontaneous Healing, Turn Undead (6x/day)

    Saves: Fort - 19, Ref - 14, Will - 20

    Abilities: Str - 18 (+4), Dex - 12 (+1), Con - 16 (+3), Int - 14 (+2), Wis - 20 (+5), Cha - 16 (+3)

    Skills: Diplomacy +16
    Heal +17
    Knowledge (arcana) +13
    Knowledge (religion) +13
    Knowledge (planes) +13
    Perception +17

    Feats: Brew Potion (Create Consumable Magic Item), Knowledge Devotion (arcana), Power Attack, Extend Spell, Persistent Spell, Divine Metamagic

    Languages: Common, Chondathan, Elven, Illuskan
    Alignment: Lawful Good
    Deity: Tyr
    Domains: Good, War
    Region: Waterdeep
    Gender: Male
    Age: 30
    Height: 6’0”
    Weight: 190 lbs

    Mount: Ilys - large dark brown mare, light warhorse: military saddle, bit+bridle, saddlebags

    Equipment:
    Magic Items and Body Slots
    Head:
    Face:
    Throat: Periapt of Wisdom +2
    Shoulders:
    Body:
    Torso:
    Arms:
    Hands:
    Ring 1:
    Ring 2:
    Waist: Healing Belt
    Feet:

    Other Gear, Tools and Equipment:
    - +1 longsword (2k) (4lbs)
    - +1 full plate armour (2.5k) (with Restful Crystal 500 gp) (50 lbs)
    - +1 light steel shield (1k) (6 lbs)
    - Handy Haversack (2k) (5 lbs)
    - Healing Belt (750 gp) (1 lb)
    - Periapt of Wisdom +2 (4k)
    - Armour maintenance kit, whetstone
    - Backpack, bedroll, blanket
    - Blank book, case (for map or scroll), ink vial, ink pen, paper sheets x1, personal seal, sealing wax
    - Comb, holy symbol (silver), mirror, razor, sewing needle and thread, soap
    - Flint and steel, candle, torches x2
    - Folding saw, hatchet, pot, rope (50', silk) x1, mess kit, tent, waterskins x1, rations (1 day) x3
    - Healer kit, pestle and mortar, spell component pouch

    Approx. 70 lbs (with non-armour equipment packed in Haversack), heavy load is 260

    Spells per Day: (5/6/5/4) +1 from a domain
    0th:
    1st:
    2nd:
    3rd:


    Appearance: Though fairly slender, he is tall and clearly strong, and he has an air of authority about him. His fair skin is tanned from travel, and though his short-cropped hair is quite dark, his eyes are startlingly pale green and always seem intently focused on whatever he’s looking at. He is always clean-shaven if he has any choice in the matter. He is often quicker to frown than smile; when he does genuinely smile, though, it softens his serious expression and overall makes him look much gentler. His usual outfit is his armour when he’s travelling or in a troubled area, but when he’s relaxing he prefers to wear a plain shirt and trousers.

    Personality: The first impression one gets of this cleric is that he is not a man to be trifled with. As a servant of Tyr, it’s not easy to sway him from a course he has decided on, but he also prides himself on being rather more reasonable than people sometimes expect. It's no surprise to anyone who knows him that he chose to serve Tyr by taking justice directly to the unjust - even if he occasionally bends the rules a little to achieve his ultimate aims. He holds the firm view that if Tyr does not show him any personal signs of disapproval, he has nothing to fear from a particular action; his faith in this is strong enough to sustain him even through difficult decisions. Beneath his usual solemn demeanour, however, he’s surprisingly affable and not averse to having a good time.

    Biography: Born and raised in Waterdeep, Russell displayed a firm belief in justice from an early age; if there was ever a argument amongst the local children, he would be the first to step in and mediate - or retaliate, if somebody was really in the wrong. He was especially protective of the younger and poorer children, who tended to get bullied worst.

    At the age of eleven, he approached the temple of Tyr in Waterdeep, requesting acceptance as a novice. It was quickly made clear that the god was quite happy with that idea, and with all the fervour of youth he threw himself into his work and studies, growing to become a strong and considerate cleric with good battle skills and a cool head, able to make fair judgements.

    He set off on his travels on becoming a confirmed cleric, choosing to fulfil his duties by seeking out injustice across the Realms rather than settle down in any one city, although he often returns to Waterdeep out of a deep-rooted affection for his home city. This has embroiled him in a number of relatively minor adventures over the years as he seeks to promote Tyr’s values. It has also tempered his zeal with level-headedness, as he learned that severity is not necessarily the best way to promote justice. He’s still travelling to this day, accompanied by his beloved horse Ilys.
  3. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Recent events...

    The rain poured on as Ivaela urged Eiros forward, the unicorn picking up speed. The trail, at least, was clear enough as the unicorn dipped its head without any command from the paladin; the crone had fled northwest from the battle, running with surprising speed for one that old, and there wasn't any sign of her right at this moment. The buildings of Ashenport looked on, windows forming dark eyes as they followed the trail of footsteps to the nearest narrow crossroad between the buildings.

    Eiros stopped, the unicorn pulling up, head bobbing.
    "What is it?" murmured Ivaela, shifting her gaze to the twenty-odd windows or potential vantage points around them, momentarily pushing down impressions from the empathic link they shared in favour of giving full mind to the tactical concerns. She hadn't failed to notice the light crossbows slung across the backs of those thugs she'd cut down. Her armour was solid enough, but even steel plate couldn't necessarily keep out a poisoned bolt if it was aimed right. Or magic, for that matter - and the crone was some sort of adept in the Art.
    "I have lost her," said the unicorn.
    "What?"
    "I have lost her," repeated the unicorn; the rain and wind were damping all sound as well as the trail. "There's other footprints here, recent, past, I do not know. Her trail is gone."
    "Take another look," said the paladin, now glancing down each of the streets that lay like a corpse's limbs splayed out in all four directions. The unicorn obediently moved in a slow circle around the crossroad as Ivaela's lance shifted to challenge invisible targets down each street.
    At length, the unicorn raised his head. Acid disappointment burned his mind. "Nothing."

    But his mistress didn't answer for a second. Eiros craned his neck; but the empathic link they shared had a sudden emotion/taste of relief/frustration attached to it.
    "There," said Ivaela, pointing. The unicorn turned -- and nodded, trotting a good seventy feet or so down the leftmost street. There wasn't much need for haste; not if his mistress's impression was accurate.

    The unicorn halted near a sheltered doorway, rickety and salt-crusted like every other hovel in this town. Ivaela slowly dismounted, glancing around before crouching to the slumped figure in the doorway. She'd likely not have seen it had it not been for a flash of distant lightning reflecting off an inch or two of bare metal.

    The crone's dead face stared back at her with endless reproach. The crossguard and handle of a dagger sat like a vile goatee below her chin. The blade was not visible, and the entire length of the dagger propped the woman's face up, a grotesque display stand. Her hand lay on her chest in a position that reminded Ivaela, shudderingly, of effigies of saints carved into their tombs, a mockery of peaceful death.
    Eiros nudged gently against her shoulder. "I see no tracks other than hers here," said her mount.
    Which certainly reinforced the impression of suicide that Ivaela had. Which was itself a question without an immediate answer: the crone had fled potential death at hers or the others' hands - why change her mind so drastically only a few moments later?
    Not why, a very unpleasant thought occurred to her. What.
    And that was the best alternative in the circumstances. Because if this was not a suicide as it appeared, something had come out of nowhere, killed the woman with one blow, arranged the body so as to appear a suicide, and then disappear again without leaving a single track in the space of a few seconds.
    Something that could be watching her right now, just as the dark windows around her watched her with black, unblinking, uncaring eyes.

    The rain couldn't possibly have changed its temperature so quickly without showing some sign of the alteration; nevertheless, it somehow felt colder now as the paladin stared at the old woman's body.

    Either she'd done this to herself - which meant... what? Had she some master she so feared that even death was preferable? Had she suddenly despaired of ever escaping? Either she'd done this to herself... or something had done this to her. Ivaela shuddered. "We're going back to the others. Now," she told Eiros quietly.

    The unicorn shifted in place, their bond transmitting her emotions to him, her nervousness spreading. "Agreed," he said.

    The paladin gathered up the body of the mage. They could examine her later, alongside the others, and see what clues might be gleaned. Just now, however, Ivaela had no wish to linger here.

    Their pace on the way back was a little more hurried than strict necessity demanded.

    The conversation of the others more or less wafted over Russell's head as he focused on patching up the injured thug. It was done without too much fuss, however, and he straightened up to see Malaeus and Yuriko standing over the unconscious spellcaster Ivaela had downed spectacularly. "Can you bring her over here?" he called. "Make sure to secure her, though - she's a mage, and I don't think we want any more of her antics."

    "With pleasure," the warmage replied and did not care if he handled the unconscious hag roughly as he turned her over and bound her with a length of his own rope. Once he had her secure, he grabbed her by her own robes and dragged her back over to the others. He spoke up before anyone could give him a look in the way he was handling the woman. "Witch burned my robes," he said simply and irritably before standing back and folding his arms across his chest, and then after a thought began inspecting his sleeve where it had briefly burned.
    Singed! It was singed! Along the edges and discolored. It was going to take him some decent gold to restore the robe to its once brilliant splendor. Damnable witch. He threw the hag one more glare before finally folding his arms at last and letting the cleric and crusader deal with the prisoners.
    Zaid had continued running after spotting the figures in the distance, but realizing hostilities had ceased, he returned to a more normal gait. He approached the Al-Kahen, who seemed to be directing things, to a certain extent at least. Very typical of him, Zaid thought, his expression as stern as ever.

    "My apologies for my absence, Al-Kahen Holston, though I run alongside N'asr himself, my armor still slows my movement a great deal. I had intended to render assistance were hostilities in progress..." He settled his right arm on the handle of his blade, which was still sheathed. "But it would appear that my services are not necessarily required at this time."

    He turned to look at the injured thug the cleric was attending. "Ah, a prisoner. It is good that you tend his wounds - we would be best to secure information before rendering judgement."

    Here judgement was not taken to mean the justice of Tyr. I'll let you fill in the gaps.

    The Kozakuran said nothing as Malaeus dragged the mystic back across to the others; merely raised an eyebrow. However, before either Russell or Zaid had a chance to start remonstrating with the warmage, she nodded at the unconscious woman as she stepped forward. "She has some sort of medallion around her neck neither of us recognise," she said. "I was going to ask you two if you knew what it was."

    The rogue had a sudden thought, rifling through her backpack and pulling out the braided belt and the pair of leather armbands they'd recovered from the tannery. She turned to Malaeus: "Any chance you might be able to work out what these are? Darron, the druid, could tell they were magical, but we couldn't figure out much more about them."

    As she did, Ivaela reappeared around the corner of the nearest building; those who'd noticed her would have seen the heavy bundle folded over Eiros's rump.

    Malaeus glanced at the items when Yuriko came over to him with them. His features lit up with curiosity at the sight of the magical items and wondering where they had found them. "Yes..." he said and reached out for the braided belt first. His fingers carefully traced the craftsmanship and although his skill in the divination was poor, he could feel the magic woven into the belt, he just could not identify what kind of magic.
    At least not through the usual divination spells.
    "It will take time, but I can figure out what these are," he said carefully and handed the belt back to the thief. "Though I rather not do this here in the rain and mud."
    The cleric frowned at Malaeus's attitude, but chose not to comment. "Any assistance you can lend in identifying them would be of great use," he said instead, turning to give Zaid a brief nod. "I'm glad you're all right. We'll deal with judgement once we've decided if it's necessary - for now just keeping him secured will do." He gave the solid Bedine a lopsided smile. "I'm certain you can deal with any trouble he might try to cause... just try not to send him to Kelemvor unless you really have to."

    A faint glow from nearby signified Ivaela's return, and Russell's heart rose a little; the last of the attackers had been caught. He gave the half-elf a smile and raised one hand to her. "You and your steed are a formidable team," he said lightly, once she was close enough to hear.
    Ivaela regarded Russell sombrely, her usual smile gone as she rode closer. "Would that we were more so," she told him slowly. "We found her dead already." The paladin gestured to the limp form behind her.

    Eiros took up the tale. "We went after her. But we couldn't catch sight of her."

    "By the time we found her, she was dead," Ivaela added. "I don't know why. It looked as though she killed herself, but why? She tried so hard to escape from us - to survive. To change her mind in the middle of running away? It makes little sense. But either she did, or something did it for her. Something that left no trace."

    Those words, tinged with apprehension, hung in the air.

    "I am not surprised," the warmage interjected from where he stood. "Whatever tried to control us is powerful enough to either control these people to fight us or commit suicide or even kill them." He glanced over at the prisoners and then up at the darkened morning sky as it continued to rain on them. He shivered at the cold water running down his back, soaking him all the way through his robes.
    He gestured around them.
    "Can we continue this discussion and their interrogation somewhere drier and warmer?"
    "Has she got a necklace too?" asked Yuriko into the momentary silence. "I was just saying to the cler--saer Russell here that the other spellcaster's got some kind of decoration round her neck. Malaeus doesn't know what it is. Maybe you guys might know...?"
    A chill ran down the Tyrran's spine. To die rather than be caught - that was truly desperation, and an indicator either of great fear or great evil - or both. And yet...

    We survived the summoning wail in the night. We prevented anyone else in the inn from coming to severe harm. We are searching for the reasons behind this. And whatever directs this evil is already afraid enough to send people to attack us, and have them silenced if we pursue them. Despite the rain and the attack and the unexpected death of the mystic, Russell couldn't help but feel a slight sense of encouragement. Already they are worried that we will discover what is hiding here, and they are trying to stop us. This is most definitely the right course for us to pursue.

    "I'm not sure the inn is the best place to speak to them, but it's the only place we can be certain of others around to help watch out for us," he said after a few moments. "Let's get them secured and return, then - and I don't think we should split up again, either. If we stay together we have a better chance of overcoming whatever challenges are sent our way next." With that, he looked to Zaid to ensure none of their attackers attempted escape and began rummaging for his rope.
    Ivaela nodded as the others mentioned their intention to take the captives elsewhere. "We should really do something about the bodies, too," she put in. "We shouldn't leave them lying around out here."

    Thinking it over, she suggested, "If you feel we need to use the inn, why not the stable? Put them in a stall, and they'll be discreetly out of the way until we can do something more definite with them."

    Enemies or no, she felt it would be wrong to leave the bodies without some kind of action taken - they had been people, after all, and even if she'd had to kill them to safeguard her life and the lives of others, there should still be some acknowledgement of that. Besides, the people of the village surely deserved better than being left with a street full of corpses.

    The paladin gave the others a wan little smile. "Even if we have to take care of this first, we should still probably see the alderman later. For one thing, we now have a serious public disturbance to ask him about."
    Darron nodded. Getting out of the rain would be good; out of wolf form, he was already soaked to the skin and shivering. Again. This was becoming ridiculous. He should have just cast Endure Elements on himself before leaving the inn this morning - it would last the whole day, anyway, and it looked like they were going to be in and out of this blasted rain.

    The young druid took a breath and raised his hand - and froze -

    He couldn't remember how.

    He had meditated on the pattern for Endure Elements this morning, just this morning, during his daily devotion to Silvanus. He had made sure to meditate upon it, thinking that the rain might make it necessary, if it got much worse - and now he couldn't remember.

    Frantically, he sifted through the rest of the patterns he'd fixed in his mind. His memory was - was fuzzy, somehow, there was no other word for it - but the rest were there in enough detail to be usable, a faint echo of Silvanus' favour underlying each. It was only Endure Elements that was utterly gone.

    The poison? The effect of being so close to a desecrated grove? A punishment for thinking, selfishly, of his own comfort? Or something else entirely?

    Darron didn't know.

    He closed his hand into a fist and lowered it to his side. "Summer," he called instead. The wolf looked up. "Bring him." Darron gestured at the prisoner Summer was still standing over. "We're going."

    The wolf growled and nosed the man to his feet.
    It took several minutes to police the unconscious bodies -- twoof them -- and strip the dead of their useful items and cart the lot back to the inn, along with escorting the sullen conscious survivor as well.
    The door was opened by Jandal Phen.
    "Dropping off or picking up?" he said. He had a list on him like a swamped galleon.
    There were several more guests downstairs than an hour earlier. Even so, Tirza and Matthias weren't to be seen anywhere there; presumably they'd both headed back upstairs. A couple of the bodyguards had opened up the kitchen.
    Yuriko glanced around. "No wait staff?"
    Phen shook his head. "Not yet. What've you got there? Catch of the day?"
    "Slightly bruised, but still kicking. These ones decided to try and stick some knives in our guts."
    Phen stared at them as the two thugs and the mystic were dragged into the inn and into a corner, weapons dumped into an untidy pile nearby.

    The cleric eyed Jandal with a raised eyebrow, but once again refrained from commenting. Not everyone has the ability to shake off a shock like I do, he reminded himself a little chidingly.

    "I don't think the taproom is the place to talk to these people," he said, keeping a firm grip on the man he'd bandaged up. "We should find another room - a good-sized one, preferably - and talk to them with a little more privacy. I'd volunteer mine, but it's not going to fit all of us in."
    "We could always talk in the wine cellar, assuming this place has one," Malaeus suggested near the pile of weapons and then he fell silent as he picked up a set of bracers from the pile. They looked too well made to be anything common and he had seen them be taken from the mystic, so the odds were that they were magical in nature. He did not say another word as he closed his eyes and focused on the item, trying to recall the lessons his divination teacher had given him all those years ago and wishing he had been a little more level headed so he could remain with the arcane masters instead of ending up...
    He shoved the thoughts aside, not wanting to dwell on his past. What was done is done and there was nothing he could do to undo it.
    Malaeus opened his eyes and stared intently at the bracers, the whispered words of a long forgotten spell coming to his lips while his fingers ghosted over the craftsmanship of the armor. He recognized the defensive spell common amongst his more learned brethren and a slight, bemused grin perked at he corner of his lips. Mine, was his thought before setting them aside from the pile.
    He then spent the next couple minutes discerning what the other items Yuriko had found and by the time he was finished, he felt exhausted. On top of having to fight a battle and nearly getting himself killed, he had also strained himself trying to cast incantations he had not used since his apprenticeship.
    Anyone who said magic was easy was fooling themselves. It was trying to use magic one was not trained in.
    "Yuriko," he handed her the braided belt. "This allows the wearer to perform feats of acrobatics and athleticism." He explained how it worked for the wearer before gesturing to the other set of bracers with the embossed arrows on it. "These seem more fitting for an archer or hunter or perfect for the village idiot to become proficient in any type of bow, as well as allowing someone already proficient to strike better. And these...," he picked up the set he claimed for himself, "is simply mage armor enchanted on a set of bracers."
    You know, writing stoic characters? Kind of a chore. You have to figure out an interesting way to say "And then he stood there, not saying anything, his look one of fixed concentration" multiple times, often in a row, without it coming across like the protagonist is having some difficulties with certain parts of the plumbing. Intense concentration, after all, applies to a wide variety of activities.

    But such base humor would be beneath us. Ours is a wittier sort of incisive work around an otherwise somewhat drab determinator type. Spry language, all the way. Nothing scatalogical.

    Nothing.

    Absolutely none of this was on the mind of Zaid Nejem as he took an odd sort of satisfaction in pushing one of the conscious prisoners forward at irregular intervals. Periodicity was a thing for metronomes, not men of the desert, and besides, walk without rhythm and you won't attract...

    ... No, sorry, wrong franchise. So Zaid was escorting a prisoner. "Where we take them is of very little importance. It matters not if the process is seen by five or fifty. Let them see what awaits following sabbá. Let them see judgement. I have no issues with the taproom."
    Much like tanneries, unicorns did not belong inside of inns. Eiros had been left to keep a watchful eye on the dead; the way things were going today, neither paladin nor mount would have put it past this place to have someone who could and would animate the bodies. And so the unicorn would watch, just to be on the safe side. Any signs of rising, lurching, or general undeadness, and he'd kick the lot of them until they returned to being appropriately corpse-like.

    Ivaela, meanwhile, looked Jandal Phen over with a kind of amused compassion. The jeweller had clearly downed plenty of alcohol to settle his nerves after the uncanny night they'd all had, and it showed now. If he seemed about to actually fall over she supposed she'd have to sit him down somewhere until he could steady himself; until then, his inebriation was largely his own business.

    Her business, on the other hand, included the prisoners. She glanced back over as Zaid declared he had no issues with the taproom.

    "I, on the other hand, do have an objection to using the taproom," Ivaela put in. "More than one, actually. For one thing, if we can coax them into honesty, who's to say the truth won't panic some of these people? I'd like to avoid that right now. For another, I'd like to ask them questions separately; we stand a much better chance, I think, of getting the truth if we don't let them agree on a story together or hush each other up."
    What utter madness was this counterargument? thought Zaid. Conspiracies? Concerns about lies? Lies told to a Khomsah N'asr who still draws breath? Who still holds his blade? The very thought was Sábba.

    "Such secrecy is unfitting for Khomsah N'asr!" he declared. "As death is not to be feared, neither is the truth. And this is their village - if high Sábba is here, they deserve to know of it far more than we, as outsiders might."

    "And as for the perceived problem of non-cooperation, that is even more easily solved. In the desert we traditionally begin with the right ear." He made a knife motion with his hand. "From there, we improvise. It is simple and effective and open, as Kelemvor would wish."

    "For those here, it is not their village. They are guests, as we are," Ivaela pointed out, trying to draw upon some of the calm serenity that had always served her mother so well. "And they have already been frightened last night. I do not wish to see innocent people driven by their fear into rushing out into dangers still unknown."

    She sighed, then, and drew herself up, voice becoming more determined as the full meaning of Zaid's idea sank in. "As for the rest? No. No mutilations. No torture. To kill a man in battle is self-defense. To deliberately cause such pain - simple and direct, maybe, but brutal. Sadistic." Her eyes hardened, seeming almost to spark with indignation at Zaid's proposed course of action. "I did not hold back from killing those people so that you could take them apart piece by piece here. I am not hahlorkh, and by the Seldarine, I will have no part of such an act."

    Something in her stance had changed; driven by anger, she had set herself more firmly, resolute and unwavering. Torture was a vile thing, rightfully abhorred by her mother's people; it shocked Ivaela that Zaid could so casually suggest it.
    "Perhaps there is another way," Darron interjected, absently rubbing his hand where the dart had hit. (It throbbed, a little, off and on; uncomfortable rather than painful, and not debilitating in any way, but nonetheless an annoyance.) "I have heard of mages who can compel the truth, via magical means - would you know such spells, Malaeus?"
    The cleric caught Zaid's eye, his expression stern. "We are not in the desert," he said flatly. "While I appreciate that you wish to get to the heart of the matter as quickly as we all do, the laws of the north do not allow for the kind of actions you suggest, and neither does my god. Please do not suggest such things again." His tone softened just a little; he knew the tribesman wanted to help. "Nonetheless, I think your presence may be of assistance, and I would be grateful for it."

    There was no need to embarrass the Bedine by explaining the cultural oddities that caused such radical difference of opinion; he could surely deduce them for himself. Zaid was not, after all, an idiot.

    Russell glanced over to Ivaela, who still seemed a little shocked, and gave her a reassuring smile, hoping to convey I will not allow such things to happen without more discussion. "You have the right of it. Separate, and in private." His chin lifted a little, his expression set. "We will have answers."
    Strong objections from the warrior were not enough to give a Bedine pause. But the same from a trusted companion? That was another matter. Strange customs for strange lands, where life was easy and the wealth fell from the sky. It seemed fitting, in a way.

    After a long pause to consider, he spoke thus: "Very well, Al-Kahen Holston, we will try this in the outlander fashion. ... It will be an interesting learning experience, I suppose. But," he added, turning his attention to the paladin. His expression was stern, stone-faced... but ultimately, beneath all of that, calm. "Bedine ways are not sadism. They are simply Bedine ways. There is no pleasure in the Qānūn, only duty."

    Lastly, he turned to the Khomsah Kozah. "I like the idea of witchcraft even less. That is where I will draw my point of tolerance."
    Russell sighed. Compromise was necessary, of course... "No mage spells, then. We can agree on that. On the other hand, if need comes to it, would you object to my using the blessings of Tyr in this matter?" Hopefully the prayer itself wouldn't be necessary. "In any case, we can work this out in private. Let's find somewhere to deal with these people. Did you say there was a wine cellar?" he added, to Malaeus. "That might be best."
    "But -" Darron began, puzzled. Zaid had, after all, watched him cast several spells over the last two days (okay, one spell several times and a wolf transformation) and hadn't said a thing.

    Then again, perhaps the source mattered? Technically, Darron did not 'cast spells'; he performed patterns that allowed him to draw upon the power of Silvanus and (through Him) the power of nature itself. Magic of the sort Malaeus performed was not the same: Darron had once befriended a wizard who attempted to teach him cantrips, to no avail (and she'd similarly failed to learn druidic orisons). But there was no - no moral difference, not really, between a druidic pattern and a mage's cantrip. It was all to do with one's intent, was it not?

    Perhaps casting spells on another was different. Or perhaps casting spells on prisoners was different.

    Darron was beginning to think he did not understand people half as well as he might like.

    Russel had already agreed, so Darron held up his hands in (what he hoped Zaid would interpret as) a peacable manner. "As you wish. Summer," he called to his wolf, who looked up from the corner where he continued to watch over his prisoner. (All four prisoners, really, but only one was mobile.) "Bring him here."

    They might as well start with the man who was conscious.
    "Yes and no," Malaeus answered the druid's inquiry and then scowled at the crusader's dislike for magic. Witchcraft. Ignorant barbarian. He sniffed indignantly before picking up the armored bracers again and testing them out over his wrists. "A potion of truth would be sufficient to make them talk, provided any of us have any, but as for spells... I cannot help you there. I am not that kind of wizard."
    Darron nodded, oddly relieved. The removal of that option from the table, limiting though it was, was convenient in this case: if Malaeus was indeed capable of such spells, and had chosen to press the issue with Zaid, things might very well get ugly. What he had seen so far of the taciturn Bedine was that he was a man of strong (though baffling) convictions, and while he had spent less time around the wizard, Darron suspected Malaeus would react with equal fervour if he thought his expertise was being questioned. Which was perfectly - well, not rational exactly, but - human. Darron could see that much, only he could not see a way around it.

    He most definitely did not understand people as well as he should.

    I will learn, he promised himself. His hand hurt, and his head throbbed, but he would learn. He must.

    Across the room, Summer nosed the sullen prisoner to his feet.
    As it turned out, there was a wine cellar to the place: a narrow oubliette below ground level, accessed by a heavy, oak trapdoor in the kitchen.

    Candlelight from above threw weak, sickly light into the small space. The walls were loaded with dusty bottles, and generations of spiderwebs clotted the corners of the ten-foot-square room. The floor had been laid with heavy stone, as were the walls, though the proximity to the ocean gave the place the cool of a winter's night.

    Their prisoner, a dark-bearded man in his forties who'd no sign of his earlier fear, went silently into the cellar, unceremoniously collapsing into one corner. The shadows obscured his face; his eyes were pinpoints of light in the heavy shadows.

    Well, there was cerainly a lot of strong opinions here. Yuriko let them argue it out: she had no strong feelings one way or the other. The man would talk or he wouldn't. Yuriko wasn't going to lose sleep on how he got there.

    A callous attitude perhaps, but then there was, as they say, no honour among thieves.

    Yuriko gave Jandal a look that quite clearly said What can you do?, tied the braided belt around her waist, and sauntered after the rest of the group. She didn't quite bring out a bowl of popped corn in expectation of a show, but if she had, it probably would have fotted with her general attitude.
    Russell followed the prisoner, setting his helm and gauntlets aside and taking out a small coin, which he held balanced on his palm for a few moments.

    "Shed the light of justice upon the darkness," he murmured, and the coin began to glow, illuminating the entire room brightly. Setting the coin on a nearby shelf, he turned to the man seated in the corner.

    "My companions and I have some questions for you," he said calmly. "I hope you will co-operate with us; I have a good deal of patience, but some of them are not so willing to wait for answers."
    Malaeus watched as the first of the prisoners was taken into the wine cellar. He rolled one of the archery bracers in his hands before setting it back down on the table with the rest of the confiscated equipment. "So... Jandal, is it? Recognize any of these people?" He gestured behind him at the unconscious prisoners.
    The man looked at the cleric of Tyr without blinking for several seconds, then looked away.

    In the kitchen above, Phen took a step away from the nearest doorjamb, seemed to think better of it, and settled for a posture best described as 'gracefully leaning'.
    "Nope," he said with rather more assurance than was probably warranted in the circumstances. "Not one of 'em. Could be any--village--idiot you could imagine, I woulden know one way or the udder."

    The paladin had joined Russell in the wine-cellar, still mentally shaking her head a bit over the earlier comments from Zaid. Witchcraft? Ivaela wondered if Zaid might be missing a few key theological - and generally logical, for that matter - points. Magic was everywhere in the world, after all; one didn't get excited about the presence of clay in the soil to make bricks from, so why panic about the use of magic?

    (Of course, if he did hold clay to be unholy, she'd retract that, and consider him bizarre, but in a consistent sort of way.)

    For now though, the matter at hand was the business of getting answers from the people they'd taken prisoner.

    "He was willing enough to talk when it came time to surrender, I think," she commented to Russell. "Strange, that he should decide now would be a good time for silence."
    Zaid thought, By the gods but this was stupid. People didn't talk when you asked them politely to talk. They needed persuading. Physical persuasion. Preferably involving an ear or two.

    Zaid, being the stalwart sort, was not about to stoop to an I told you so, but was having to exert himself somewhat to prevent his eyes from rolling with a force typically reserved for boulders on very steep inclines. He withdrew his sword from its scabbard, ignoring the impulses it sent howling into his brain. He then placed it, nonchalantly like, on the man's shoulder. He was careful not to cut anything. "Pardon me, I need to rest my blade for a moment. It weighs on one so, sitting in one's scabbard, not being used. Its constant, unslaked thirst for the blood of the unjust is exhausting."

    He grinned mischievously, or at least as mischievously as a man who was not mischievous could grin. "Are you familiar with that sort of fatigue?"
    The man shuddered as cold steel came to rest on his shoulder; Zaid could feel the vibration at his end of the heavy blade.
    "N-no," he said, and though there was still a fire of resentment alive in his eyes, he ducked his head to avoid the mad Bedine's gaze. "What do you want of me?"
    Russell relaxed a little, and gave Zaid a little nod before returning his gaze to their captive. "I want to know, first of all, why you and your companions attacked us."
    The man bowed his head. Shadow and pale light from Russell's coin made his eyes the sockets of a skull. "Because you are i-interfering. You refused the call. You kept those other softbellies," he said, and a flash of anger lit up his shadowed face as he glanced up the stairs,"from ... p-playing their part. You should not have done it. H-he will be angry."
    Ivaela gave Zaid a swift, disgusted look. The Bedine was apparently feeling very masculine today - or masculinely challenged, perhaps, what with feeling the need to wave his blade around and show off. Probably some kind of compensation, she decided. She had been planning to point out to their captive that as a known associate of whatever threatened this town, he was a danger that might still need dealing with unless he told them enough to look past him to the real problem. He had surrendered to save his life; it was only logical for him to continue to save it, if the facts were set out for him.

    She certainly hadn't been trusting to hopeful smiles to get the job done. She preferred to think the best of people, but those who attacked her tended to forfeit that privilege, much like others who proved her optimism false in their case.

    Still, the man was talking, now. There was no need to intervene unless Zaid's passion for cutting body parts off people suddenly got the better of him. She made a mental note, however, to take some time for herself after all this, away from anyone who could aggravate her so completely. She'd never reach proper serenity at this rate...

    "What part were they to play?" she put in. They could ask soon enough who this 'he' was; Ivaela did also want to know why the people at the inn had been called.
    Yuriko really was snacking now, pulling some dried fruit out of one of her belt pouches and munching on it as Zaid performed his little trick with the sword. Russell seemed to appreciate it- but Ivaela's stance stiffened in a way that clearly indicated irritation.

    The thief grinned some more and stuffed more food into her mouth. This was better than a show.

    "Afk him what softbellies means." she mentioned, her mouth still slightly full. "Never heard that one before."
    "It means, outlander," said the man, glaring at the woman stuffing her face, "all of the others of this inn. And as for w-what part they were to play," he continued, turning back to Russell, "they were to be an offering. Sacrifice. He demands we c-complete the ritual. To protect us from the call - the call of the sea. But you have blasphemed. You have split blood. Taken lives not yours to take!"
    Russell's expression grew decidedly less friendly. "Blasphemy is to go against your own god," he replied, annoyed. "None of us here serve whoever you choose to worship, and neither will we refuse to defend ourselves against those who would harm us."
    He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. This wasn't the time to start snapping at people. "Who or what is this being you serve, and why does he demand the deaths of others?"
    "Wouldn't you like to know?" sneered the man.
    "Yes. We would," Ivaela commented evenly, and then smiled. "For a man who surrendered to save his life, you're not very good at trying to keep it saved, are you?" The gold flecks in her eyes gleamed in the light of Russell's spell, accentuating her clear difference from the others. She was not human, and just now it showed more than ever.
    "I don't think you quite understand your situation," she continued. Calmly. Politely. Unnervingly so. "If you are still a danger to these people, that danger will be ended. Decisively. I recommend you rethink your level of cooperation with our questions. Before anyone here is forced to rethink our stance on you."
    She would not torture this man, or permit his torture by others. But neither would she permit him to continue striving to end the lives of the people here in the inn.
    "What call of the sea do you seek protection from?"
    "The call you heard in the night." The man shifted in his position, rubbing his hand for a moment, eyes flickering back from Russell to the half-elven paladin. "The rite will protect us. W-we were told so, and it always has. Every year, at this time, the rite is p-performed. Our leaders are preparing for it as we speak. There will be a gathering, tonight, as part of it. He commands it."
    "Always?" Russell raised an eyebrow. "A church of Lathander and a grove once dedicated to Silvanus stand in this village. That alone says you once followed better ways."
    He crouched a little, lowering himself to see eye to eye with the captive. The shifting of the light made him seem almost as skeletal as the man he faced, and a hint of fire was in his eyes. "Tell me about this rite. Where is it held, and what occurs in it?"
    "I do not know all of it," said the man. "It is long. Complicated. We are not required to be present for all of it. O-our leaders to act as proxy, for all of us. We are there to bear witness. Things happen. In the rite. It is forbidden - to s-speak of them. There is a gathering, tonight -- in that church, on the hill. It is part of the ritual. We are meant to be there."
    Yuriko raised her eyebrows in the darkness of her hood. "Sounds like that's where we need to be, then."
    She turned to Zaid, the most likely candidate for wanting to rush off and be all heroic, or at least, he seemed to be, judging by his actions so far. "No time to waste, or whatever, right?"
    "Not right now," Russell said sharply, before Zaid took the idea as an invitation. "We need to ensure we have as much information as possible. Running off to deal with things before we know what we're getting into is almost a guarantee that something will go wrong." He glanced up at the petite thief. "Patience is key in matters like this, young woman, whether or not you particularly want to exercise it."
    Yuriko finished her snacks and dusted her hands off. "Just a suggestion." she said archly- the young woman comment had wounded her pride. "I mean, while patience is key, I find that not getting devoured by elder gods beyond my ken is also pretty high up my priority list."

    She shrugged, and leaned back against the wall. "But your way is good, too. Maybe Ivaela can threaten him again, or Zaid can wave his sword around some more. It's a very impressive sword."
    She winked.
    TAG: All!
  4. cassie5squared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2010
    star 2
    IC: Russell Holston

    The cleric sighed and turned away from the aggravatingly nonchalant little thief. That kind of suggestion was precisely what he didn't need.

    "You say this rite is held in the church," he said to their captive. "What can you tell me about it? Does it involve the altar of Lathander, or is that ignored?"

    TAG: All
  5. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Mataeus Balle

    Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport

    The warmage leaned against his staff, the new bracers already on his forearms and hidden slightly beneath the sleeves of his robe. He gave an amusing grin at the snippets of dialogue he was picking up from the wine cellar and Yuriko while he waited with Darron and his wolf. Mataeus drew his attention to the druid, curious about the, for a lack of a better word, tree hugger. "So how did you end up with Ivaela, is it?" he directed to the man, trying to start a light conversation while they watched over the prisoners.

    Thus far none of them seemed to be coming around and therefore weren't an immediate concern. Still he kept at least one eye on them, in particular the mystic.

    TAG: @DarthXan318 @Saintheart
  6. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Russell, Yuriko, Ivaela, Zaid

    The Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    An hour past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)

    "I never paid t-that much attention," said the man. "It is for the mystics. Salt water is used. And blood. And chanting, in a tongue I do not know."
    He seemed hesitant, all of a sudden. And afraid.

    TAG: All
  7. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    IC: Darron

    "We were travelling in the same direction," Darron replied absently, his eyes on the pile of unconscious prisoners.

    Not that they needed watching, at all; Summer was standing such close guard that had he been any closer, he would have been stepping on someone. Darron's companion had not been allowed down into the cellar for the interrogation (a wolf being an unpredictable source of intimidation, even one as well-behaved as Summer, if he had only recently tried to kill the man in question) and had relinquished his charge only reluctantly. Since then he had apparently decided that his duty could be transferred to the remaining prisoners, and had spent the last few minutes alternately pacing, nosing their limbs, or staring at them closely as if daring them to wake up.

    Darron himself had been staring pensively in their direction, wondering what would drive such people to desecrate a grove and attack travellers ...

    Belatedly, the intent behind Malaeus' question registered itself. Oh, yes, of course. The young druid shook his head and turned to the wizard with an apologetic smile. "My apologies; my thoughts were elsewhere. But - well - that is essentially that. Our paths crossed, I chose to introduce myself, and when she told me of her quest ..." Darron shrugged, spreading his hands. "Druids are going missing; I am a druid. You could say I have a vested interest in the matter."

    Tag: @CmdrMitthrawnuruodo
  8. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Malaeus Balle

    Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport

    "Indeed," he replied with a tinge of amusement in his voice but then his expression grew serious and he glared at the prisoners. "It seems that one of my people have also disappeared here and although it could simply be coincidence, there is a chance he might be involved in some way or another." Malaeus shrugged nonchalantly and met Darron's gaze again. "But it is only an assumption and one that should at least be kept in consideration until evidence can be obtained to prove or disprove it. Though I hope it is simply but a coincidence."

    Indeed.

    Halruaa did not need a reputation of producing evil mages hellbent on world domination. They had left that kind of dangerous ideology in the distant past.

    TAG: @DarthXan318
  9. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    IC: Ivaela Teuthor

    Ivaela frowned a little, noticing the increasing fear of their captive. She tensed a little. What if whatever had caused the death of the old mage was not a physical thing? What if it could reach them, even here?

    Eiros?

    Her concern was met with assurance, and some of her tension faded. At the first sign of trouble the unicorn would come to help, even if he had to kick the door down to get into the inn.

    "How many of you are there?" she asked their prisoner, turning most of her concentration back to the task at hand. Even now, though, she could feel the faintest hum of nerves, like strange half-silent harpstrings in the back of her mind.

    TAG: Cellar folks
  10. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Russell, Yuriko, Ivaela, Zaid
    The Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    An hour past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)

    The man turned to the half-elf, brow wrinkling. "How many...what?"

    TAG: Rilwen, Livi, Ramza, Cassie
    Last edited by Saintheart, Sep 6, 2012
  11. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    IC: Darron

    Darron nodded seriously (although he was unsure how seriously Malaeus meant my people. Nor did he have much inkling of who Malaeus would consider his own - his wizard friend had been largely self-taught, and anyway had been far too individualistic for that sort of thing.)

    "Tell me of your people," the young druid ventured. "Where are you from, Malaeus?"

    Tag: @CmdrMitthrawnuruodo
  12. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Malaeus Balle

    Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport

    "Halruaa," he answered after a moment. Malaeus moved to sit against a table, letting his staff lean against his shoulder as he relaxed a little. "Have you heard of it? A nation to the far south, full of magic and wizards." There was a small wisp of a smile on his lips as he thought about his homeland. "Outsiders would find the capital, Halarahh, a wonder of wonders. The magic there is everywhere and in everything. The lamps, the streets, the shops, the people..."

    He paused and then a bark of laughter escaped him before he added. "Well some outsiders would. That crusader, however," he threw a hand in the direction of the wine cellar. "He probably would make it a holy crusade to wipe Halruaa off the map if he knew it existed. A nation of witches," he spat the last in distaste. Witches were harlots that practiced necromancy. He was not a necromancer and he certainly was not a harlot.

    TAG: @DarthXan318
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Sep 7, 2012
  13. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    IC: Darron

    "It sounds fascinating." Truth be told, Darron could hardly imagine such a place - he had, after all, lived his entire life in a forest. Neverwinter Wood had magic of a kind, if you knew how to look, but lamps - shops - streets - those were unfamiliar to him, and existed in his mind only in stories told to him by his parents and the adventurers who who wandered through the wood from time to time.

    He was on the verge of asking why Malaeus had left, when it struck him that the slightly wistful note in Malaeus' voice was a familiar one: it was how Darron felt when he talked about his own home. If he could love his home, and yet leave, Malaeus perhaps had done the same.

    So Darron decided to change the subject to another that piqued his curiosity. "Why does he hate wizards so much, do you know?" he asked, carefully avoiding the epithet witch. Evidently it was as derogatory a word for wizard as 'tree-hugger' was for a druid. "He saw me call light, and said nothing, so it's not magic itself ..."

    Tag: @CmdrMitthrawnuruodo
  14. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Zaid Nejem, Death's Hand
    Etc.

    There was a certain amount of satisfaction on Zaid's face as he had apparently located a comfortable medium between his preferred interrogation techniques and this outlander nonsense. That was good, and efficient. He decided to keep his blade unsheathed, its tip on the ground, both hands on its hilt. While not ideal for combat, it would have the necessary effect, and a quick swing into readiness was not outside of the Bedine's capabilities.

    The next questions were relatively straightforward - like all inquiries, basic information was required to lay out the groundwork. He spoke of sacrifice. He spoke of evil rites. He spoke of Sábba. Zaid's expression was as a stone, because we like overblown analogies, and as a stone is stock in that category.

    At last, the man seemed to stumble upon a question he did not... understand? Know the answer to? The pause was rather odd.

    "It is a simple question," the Bedine said, his tone at a shade more menacing than his usual. "How. Many. Of you. Are there?"

    The right side of his lip curled up into a slight smirk. "If you would be so kind."

    TAG: Cellar
  15. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Russell, Yuriko, Ivaela, Zaid
    The Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    An hour past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)

    "E-e-eight," the man said, shrinking away from the Bedine. "T-there were e-eight of us that at-tacked you. W-w-we were told n-not to, b-b-but did not think you would r-resist. You must not interfere with t-the rite f-f-further. There will be. Punishment."

    TAG: Rilwen, Livi, Ramza, Cassie
  16. cassie5squared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2010
    star 2
    IC: Russell Holston

    They knew we'd fought off that monstrous call, but didn't think we would resist getting our throats cut?

    Russell restrained the urge to roll his eyes, and kept his gaze on the prisoner. "Many people have threatened me for interfering before," he said, "and I am still here to discuss it. Now enough with the talk of punishment, and just answer us. How many people will be gathered in the church tonight?"

    TAG: You know the routine
  17. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Malaeus Balle

    Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport

    "I would give a few choice words about him and his zealotry," here he hesitated and then glared at nothing in particular. He knew the crusader came from the desert to the east but knew little about his people that lived there. Malaeus could only assume as to why Zaid mistrusted him and disliked arcane magic. He just hoped that the man knew little about where the wizards of old had gone after they had been chased out of the region by the Phaerimm. The warmage did not want nor need to be the subject of a zealot's jihad.

    He changed course from what he had been about to say about the Bedine, which had been along the line of something derogatory and quite inappropriate for certain ears. "The difference between your magic and mine is the source. Yours is more divine whereas mine is of the arcane and arcane magic played an important role in the creation of the Anauroch."

    Malaeus grip tightened around the middle of the staff where his hand had rested. "My people... my ancestors were responsible. So I imagine he's probably grown up and taught to dislike wizards for that reason, though in truth it was the Phaerimm who destroyed the land."

    TAG: @DarthXan318
    Last edited by CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, Sep 10, 2012
  18. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Russell, Yuriko, Ivaela, ZaidThe Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    An hour past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)

    "M-m-most of the village," said the man. "I-i-it is c-commanded. I d-do not know if all of them will be t-there."

    TAG: All
  19. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    IC: Darron

    "I see." Which also explained why he had managed to travel with Russell without killing the man. A cleric's magic came from the gods just as a druid's did.

    And in a way, he did understand Zaid's hostility now. Druids tended to judge people on how their actions (and, yes, allegiances) affected the Great Balance, rather not their ancestry, hence his initial puzzlement ... but ... the destruction of the land? Contemplating the idea alone made him feel ill, and it wasn't even his land. He understood how someone raised in a magically-blasted desert could be believe that it was all the wizards' fault. He could understand why such a person would object to any form of wizardry. To destroy the land...

    Simultaneously, he understood Malaeus' stiffness when he talked of it. Obviously it was not Malaeus' fault; a man could not be called to answer for the sins of his long-dead kin. But clearly he too held some belief in ancestry.

    "I for one do not see anything wrong with wizardry itself," he said, lightly, instead. "In fact, a good friend of mine once tried to teach me cantrips. It did not work, of course - but it seems to me what matters is what you do with your gift, not whether it comes from the gods or the Weave. Destruction has been done in the name of the gods, as well."

    Tag: @CmdrMitthrawnuruodo
    Last edited by DarthXan318, Sep 12, 2012
  20. Rilwen_Shadowflame Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2005
    star 6
    IC: Ivaela Teuthor

    Ivaela's eyes widened. She had been so ready to extend the possibility of innocence - and she had been wrong. This place, if their captive was telling the truth, was tainted to the core.

    Most, not all. There may yet be some who are not evil.

    "Who killed the druids and desecrated their shrine?" she asked at last. She paused, and added, "And what will happen if no sacrifices are provided?"

    TAG: Saint, cellar folk
  21. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Russell, Yuriko, Ivaela, Zaid

    The Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    An hour past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)


    "T-t-there will be," replied the man in answer to Ivaela's second question. And despite the stuttering, there was a calm, even resigned assurance to the answer that sent unholy things crawling up the paladin's spine. "I-it is c-commanded. T-there will be a sacrifice."

    He shifted on the ground, folding his arms. "I-I killed no druids. I-if you're talking a-b-bout that sc-scuplture in the wood, we all know it's there, but I t-think the damage was done in the t-time of our fathers. The town was s-s-suffering and the people needed to vent their f-frustrations. Or s-so t-they tell me."

    TAG: Cassie, Livi, Rilwen, Ramza
  22. CmdrMitthrawnuruodo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2000
    star 6
    Malaeus Balle

    Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport

    Malaeus smiled lightly at the thought of the druid attempting to learn cantrips. "I imagine those were amusing times with your wizard friend. He seems unique for a wizard, considering we don't like to share our knowledge all that much. Speaking of sharing..." He stood up and went over to the pile of gear. The warmage picked up the arrow embossed bracers before bringing them back over.

    "Do you have a bow?" he quirked a brow at the druid.

    TAG: @Saintheart @DarthXan318
  23. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    OOC: Now cutscening, as generally agreed. Knowledge (Religion) check from Russell, Zaid, and Ivaela respectively come back at 14, 29, and 25 respectively (good heavens!) Also, sorry about the change in font -- vagaries of MS Word and all that.

    The party

    The Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    Three hours past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)

    Russell bit his lip. He could think of a couple of frustrations of his own that needed some venting right now, but it wasn't exactly the time or place to do so. It seemed as though every answer the man gave only created more questions--questions that had answers lurking in the shadows the cleric suspected he wouldn't like to see. As it was, the picture sounded grim enough -- the cleric had not missed the aghast tone in Ivaela's voice after the man had said most of the village was expected to be at the gathering tonight. If indeed a good proportion of the village was involved here, that changed the tactical situation rather markedly.
    Which reminds me-- "Who leads the ritual? This rite, this gathering you speak of?" he asked.
    "Athlantis," said the man. With a hesitation, and a return of the fear they'd observed earlier.
    "That is no man's name," grunted Zaid. "Nor woman's, in my tongue. What is he?"
    "A h-hum-man," said their prisoner...again, after a moment's hesitation. "He leads the ritual, on behalf of all of us."

    As Russell stood, dusting his hands off. "Let's talk to some of the others."
    Zaid raised his weapon to his shoulder, turning to the man. "Since you claim innocence in the death of druids, and you have yet to kill any of us, N'asr withholds judgment. For now. Move from this spot, and it shall be passed."

    The man's abject look of fear matched that of each of the other prisoners. His level of information also did so. It was about as much as they got out of the other prisoners, when they were questioned one by one in the cellar as the sun rose unseen behind the thick clouds and storm. The same, uncertain answers; the same strange obsessed responses. The same identification of Athlantis as the one to lead the ritual. The prisoners were left in the cellar with two of Tirza's burly guards watching over them, though the inquisitive looks were growing as the patrons waited to see what was to happen.
    All bar Jandal Phen, that was: he'd plastered himself so thoroughly he'd passed out behind the bar.

    Russell called his five companions over to a table to discuss what they'd seen. He briefly relayed all of what they'd asked of the prisoners, then sat back in his chair, chin resting on his chest, arms folded.
    "Most of the village could be in on this, huh?" echoed Yuriko, with a glance over her shoulder - it wouldn't do to go scaring the clientele. Right now, anyway.
    "Perhaps more," replied Ivaela, grimly. "They've told us that most of the village is required to be at this gathering tonight. That could mean either that these maniacs are a large portion of the village's population, or..."
    "--only most of the maniacs will be there tonight,” Yuriko finished.
    Russell looked up. “If that’s so, I think we have to give consideration to how we might leave this village in convoy.”
    “In convoy?” repeated Ivaela. “What do you—no. I think not, Lord of the Balance. I will not run.”
    “It’s an option we have to think about,” said Russell. “This is not an inn we’re sitting in right now. It’s a castle. One smack-bang in the middle of enemy territory. And one with a lot of innocent people sitting inside it, with no real weapons or ways of defending themselves.”
    “So?” Ivaela wasn’t backing down. “Walls between you and an assailant make up for any lack in martial prowess.”
    “Stone walls, yes.” Darron was looking up speculatively at the rafters, a very unpleasant image dancing in his mind. “Wooden walls – and a wooden roof – not so much. Wood burns. Smoke suffocates.”
    “Any scum that tries set fire to this place’ll have a lot of trouble doing so,” snapped Malaeus, clenching and unclenching his hands. “And not just from the fact it’s raining.
    “Unless your name’s Elminster of Shadowdale, you can’t cast spells forever,” said Russell. “And neither can I. The inn’s doors can be locked, but they’ve no locking bar that I saw. There could be two hundred people living in this village. You got half cut to pieces just holding off eight.”
    “We wouldn’t be holding the place on our own,” replied Malaeus. “Those bodyguards of the merchants – Tirza and Matthias – they seem to know what they’re about.”
    “Fine. So make it a grand total of twelve or so swords, still against a hundred or more, all armed with the sort of gear they had,” replied Russell, nodding at the untidy pile of weapons and armor. “We’d not last two days. And if we did, eventually we’ll run out of food or water anyway. If the whole village is involved.”
    “You think the odds are any better trying to escort twenty-odd terrified people out of a hostile town and into the wilderness?” said Ivaela. “At least if they’re in here the enemy has to fight their way in. You try and get them out of here in some sort of baggage train and it’ll rain crossbow bolts, not water.”
    “If you were coordinated, maybe, or if you did it piecemeal…” mused Yuriko.
    “Still dangerous,” said Ivaela. “And certainly more dangerous than the people staying here.”
    “But less dangerous than what you seem to be proposing,” countered Russell, “as in, strolling up to that church and taking on who-knows-how-many fanatics in the middle of an unholy ritual they’re conducting.” The cleric shook his head. “If only I could get some idea of what we’re dealing with here.”

    There was a loud clatter. The medallion – a small, subtly carved piece of wood, with six spiraling tentacles arrayed around a fanged mouth -- fell in the middle of the table, precisely where Zaid had tossed it from his hand.
    The Bedine stared at them in the sudden silence. “What we are dealing with is clear.”
    “Where did you get that?” asked Darron.
    “From the hag’s corpse,” replied the Bedine. His voice was calm. Unnervingly so, as he continued. “This symbol is known to my people. Know this - water is precious to my people. Worth more than steel. More than gold. You are surrounded by miracles when the water falls from the sky as it does here, in these lands. I had thought this the blessing of the gods. Now I see true. Because there is one that, because water is precious to us, we hate more than thirst. One who poisons water. Profanes it.”
    Ivaela had picked up the medallion. She dropped it, face paling. “Great Gods.”
    No!” Zaid’s bark was loud enough that it made heads turn from across the room. The fire in his eyes leapt high for a moment, then receded. “No god. It is not fit to even be called that which N’asr is. Do not profane his name so. Nor raise the other’s name beyond the slime it deserves.”
    “What name?” asked Russell. He was looking at the symbol, but the complex, interweaving shape did not spark memories beyond shadows.
    Zaid looked at him. “A ghul. An ancient one, whose worship extends back beyond the writings of my people and perhaps even beyond their spoken memory. A ghul whose cultists range from backwater fishers to deep-dwelling monsters of the endless water. One of great evil. We call him Dai’na ghulnaath, the Demon Who Taints. In your tongue—”
    “Dagon,” said Ivaela, voice soft as if from a great distance.
    “Chirasu, I knew it,” said Yuriko, even as the chill washed through her veins. She knew this wasn’t going to be another routine day.
    Dagon?” echoed Malaeus, though even he managed to keep his voice down. “Are you mad? What in the name of the Seven Towers would a demon be doing here, of all places?”
    “Not the demon, thank the Goddess,” said Ivaela, but she still remained pale. “Just his symbol. Much becomes clear if there is a cult of his involved. As to the sigil, there’s no question. I recognize the symbol, too. Dagon is against the natural order. Sehanine Moonbow teaches us that to look upon him is to forever fear the water. He is one of the oldest, vilest lords of the Abyss. It is said even other demon lords fear him.”
    “I will tell you,” said Zaid, and there was something in his tone that ended all conversation, “how one kills a sandviper in my lands. Another poisoner, another killer without honour. One finds the viper. One shows no fear. One does not watch for the thrashing of its body or its tail. One watches only for the head. The head is what poisons. The head is what kills. Nothing else. And when the moment is right, one cuts the head from the body.”
    “Are you saying this Athlantis man is likely to be the cult’s leader -- its head?” asked Darron.
    Athlantis is no man’s name. In my people’s tongue, ath al-lantis is a state of madness. No matter. It is the same. Find the head of the demon, the ra’s al-ghul, and you will kill the serpent that writhes behind it.”

    TAG: All
    Last edited by Saintheart, Sep 13, 2012
  24. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    OOC: Reissue - ignore the post above...



    The party

    The Smooth Sailing Inn, Ashenport
    Three hours past dawn, Third of Marpenoth
    Year of Lightning Storms (1368 DR)

    Russell bit his lip. He could think of a couple of frustrations of his own that needed some venting right now, but it wasn't exactly the time or place to do so. It seemed as though every answer the man gave only created more questions--questions that had answers lurking in the shadows the cleric suspected he wouldn't like to see. As it was, the picture sounded grim enough -- the cleric had not missed the aghast tone in Ivaela's voice after the man had said most of the village was expected to be at the gathering tonight. If indeed a good proportion of the village was involved here, that changed the tactical situation rather markedly.
    Which reminds me-- "Who leads the ritual? This rite, this gathering you speak of?" he asked.
    "Athlantis," said the man. With a hesitation, and a return of the fear they'd observed earlier.
    "That is no man's name," grunted Zaid. "Nor woman's. What is he?"
    "A h-hum-man," said their prisoner...again, after a moment's hesitation. "He leads the ritual, on behalf of all of us."

    As Russell stood, dusting his hands off. "Let's talk to some of the others."
    Zaid raised his weapon to his shoulder, turning to the man. "Since you claim innocence in the death of druids, and you have yet to kill any of us, N'asr withholds judgment. For now. Move from this spot, and it shall be passed."

    The man's abject look of fear matched that of the other prisoners. His level of information also did. It was about as much as they got out of the others, questioned one by one in the cellar as the sun rose unseen behind the thick clouds and storm. The same, uncertain answers; the same strange obsessed responses. The same identification of Athlantis as the one to lead the ritual. The prisoners were left in the cellar with two of Tirza's burly guards watching over them, though the inquisitive looks were growing around the common room as the patrons waited to see what was to happen.
    All bar Jandal Phen, that was: he'd plastered himself so thoroughly he'd passed out behind the bar.

    Russell called his five companions over to a table to discuss what they'd seen. He briefly relayed all of what they'd asked of the prisoners, then sat back in his chair, chin resting on his chest, arms folded.
    "Most of the village could be in on this, huh?" echoed Yuriko, with a glance over her shoulder - it wouldn't do to go scaring the clientele. Right now, anyway.
    "Perhaps more," replied Ivaela, grimly. "They've told us that most of the village is required to be at this gathering tonight. That could mean either that these maniacs are a large portion of the village's population, or..."
    "--only most of the maniacs will be there tonight,” Yuriko finished.
    Ivaela nodded. “I think we must give some consideration to leaving this village in train.”
    “In train?” repeated Russell. “What do you—no. Forgive me, saer Teuthor, but I will not run.”
    “It is not an inn we are sitting in right now," said Ivaela, quietly. "It is a castle. One containing a number of innocent people with no real weapons or way of defending themselves. One in the middle of enemy territory.”
    “Walls between you and an assailant make up for any lack in martial prowess,” said Russell, shaking his head. "They're safe enough here."
    “If they were stone walls, yes.” Darron was looking up speculatively at the rafters, a very unpleasant image dancing in his mind. He had a feeling it was the same image going through Ivaela's mind. “Wooden walls – and a wooden roof – not so much. Wood burns. Smoke suffocates.”
    “Any scum that tries to set fire to this place’ll have a lot of trouble doing so,” snapped Malaeus, clenching and unclenching his hands. “And not just from the fact it’s raining.
    “Unless you are the Simbul rather well-disguised, you cannot cast spells forever,” said Ivaela. “And neither can you, Lord of the Balance. The inn’s doors can be locked, but they’ve no locking bar that I saw. There could be two hundred people living in this village. You were half cut to pieces just holding off eight.”
    “We wouldn’t be holding the place on our own,” replied Malaeus. “Those bodyguards of the merchants – Tirza and Matthias – they seem to know what they’re about.”
    “Which would make a grand total of twelve or so swords, still against a hundred or more, all armed with the equipment they had,” replied Ivaela, nodding at the untidy pile of weapons and armor. “We’d not last two days. And if we did, we would run out of food or water in time.”
    “You think the odds are any better trying to escort twenty-odd terrified people out of a hostile town and into the wilderness?” said Russell. “At least if they’re in here the enemy has to fight their way in."
    "Moving, they stand a chance," said Ivaela. "Even in this weather there's not an assailant who could come within ten feet with a blade before Eiros and I reached him."
    "I've no doubt of that. Unfortunately, that's not the only weapons they have available out here. You do remember the crossbows over there? You try and get them out of here in some sort of baggage train and it'll rain bolts, not water."
    “If you were coordinated, maybe, or if you did it piecemeal…” mused Yuriko.
    “Still dangerous,” said Russell. “And certainly more dangerous than the people staying here.”
    “But less dangerous than what you seem to be proposing,” countered Ivaela, “which seems to be strolling up to that church and taking on who-knows-how-many fanatics in the middle of an unholy ritual they’re conducting.” The paladin shook her head in frustration. “If only we could get some idea of what we’re dealing with here.”

    There was a loud clatter. The medallion – a small, subtly carved piece of wood, with six spiraling tentacles arrayed around a fanged mouth -- fell in the middle of the table, precisely where Zaid had tossed it.
    The Bedine stared at them in the sudden silence. “What we are dealing with is clear.”
    “Where did you get that?” asked Darron.
    “From the hag’s corpse,” replied the Bedine. His voice was calm. Unnervingly so, as he continued. “This symbol is known to my people. Know this - water is precious to my people. Worth more than steel. More than gold. You are surrounded by miracles when the water falls from the sky in these lands. I had thought this the blessing of the gods. Now I see true. Because there is one that we hate more than thirst. One who poisons water. Profanes it. Water that is precious to us.”
    Ivaela had picked up the medallion. She dropped it, face paling. “Goddess.”
    No.” Zaid’s bark was loud enough that it made heads turn from across the room. The fire in his eyes leapt high for a moment, then receded. “No god. It is not fit to even be called that which N’asr is. Do not profane his name so. Nor raise the other’s name beyond the slime it deserves.”
    “What name?” asked Russell. He was looking at the symbol, but the complex, interweaving shape did not spark memories beyond shadows.
    Zaid looked at him. “A ghul. An ancient one, whose worship extends back beyond the writings of my people and perhaps even beyond their spoken memory. A ghul whose cultists range from backwater fishers to deep-dwelling monsters of the endless water. One of great evil. We call him Dai’na ghulnaath, the Demon Who Taints. In your tongue—”
    “Dagon,” said Ivaela, voice soft as if from a great distance.
    “Chirasu, I knew it,” said Yuriko, even as the chill washed through her veins. She knew this wasn’t going to be another routine day.
    Dagon?” echoed Malaeus, though even he managed to keep his voice down. “Are you mad? What in the name of the Seven Towers would a demon be doing here, of all places?”
    “Not the demon, thank the Goddess,” said Ivaela, but she still remained pale. “Just his symbol. Much becomes clear if there is a cult of his involved. As to the sigil, there’s no question. I recognize the symbol, too. Dagon is against the natural order. Sehanine Moonbow teaches us that to look upon him is to forever fear the water. He is one of the oldest, vilest lords of the Abyss. It is said even other demon lords fear him.”
    “I will tell you,” said Zaid, and there was something in his tone that ended all conversation, “how one kills a sandviper in my lands. Another poisoner, another killer without honour. One finds the viper. One shows no fear. One does not watch for the thrashing of its body or its tail. One watches only for the head. The head is what poisons. The head is what kills. Nothing else. And when the moment is right, one cuts the head from the body.”
    “Are you saying this Athlantis man is likely to be the cult’s leader -- its head?” asked Darron.
    Athlantis is no man’s name. In my people’s tongue, ath al-lantis is a state of madness. No matter. It is the same. Find the head of the demon, the ra’s al-ghul, and you will kill the serpent that writhes behind it.”

    TAG: All
    Last edited by Saintheart, Sep 14, 2012
  25. cassie5squared Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 8, 2010
    star 2
    IC: Russell Holston

    It felt as though an icy hand was drawing a finger down Russell's back as he contemplated the little wooden symbol and what it signified about their situation. A demon feared even by other demons... and they had thwarted its will.

    They never taught us how to handle this in the temple. Right now I'd put up with another lecture from Father Elian if it explained what I should do. His holy symbol shifted beneath his armour, and he readjusted the chain idly.

    "We know the ritual itself will be carried out tonight," he said finally, tapping his finger on the table as he often did when trying to come to a decision. "Tonight, not during the day. For the moment, this place is defensible, and no others have come to the aid of their... fellows. I propose that we take a look in the church during the daytime. We may catch some of them preparing for it." And I cannot claim to be displeased at the notion of finding Sharallan amongst them, he added mentally, with an apology to Tyr for the pettiness of the thought.

    Then he frowned a little. "Excuse me a moment. Something's just occurred to me." He headed back over to the cellar, nodding to the guards as he headed down and fixed the nearest captive with the sternest expression he could muster up.

    "You know of the call that came in the night. Will that happen again? You've told us that there will be sacrifice to your master. If so, when will it happen?"

    TAG: All, Saint
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