The Grand Illusion

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The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Fri Feb 12, 2016 4:58 pm

Part 1: Seeing is Believing

Word circulates around the City's broadsheets and notice boards. It reads thus:

The Watch wrote:A member of a local adventuring troupe known as the Bloodred Crown, known only to us by the assumed alias "Bete," has escaped from the Watch's holding facility! She was being held pending trial for her involvement in an open investigation involving several brutal, ritualistic murders. Her flight all but admits her guilt! She is a wily female who is crafty with blades. It is believed she had either the aid of other members of the Blood-Red Crown or perhaps yet even others unknown at this time. She is black-haired with blue eyes. She is fond of twin daggers and is known to wear the garb of her troupe, which primarily consists of a cloak the color of blood. If seen report to the Watch at once. This is an open investigation. Any information pertaining to the whereabouts or capture of this fugitive will be surely rewarded.

It makes one a bit more observant, does it not? At least until she is found...

(( Feel free to FPM any questions or requests for skill rolls regarding any of the info listed above. This particular tidbit is meant for PC's from levels 1-3 - You can sign up in the D&A thread HERE ))
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:05 pm

The Grinning Lion is about its usual evening bustle. The local cast and crew have begun their opening number, and people are filing in for both the show and the food. Well, at least that's the overall façade - they were mostly here for the drink.

Roxie sits on a stack of books on a human sized chair at a human sized table. It was much more dignifying than a booster seat. She's reading a book while sort of paying attention to what she's eating.

Leal doesn't come out to the Lion much, but is busy tonight fulfilling a hankering for fried onions she's had all week. Assiduously wiping her hands after each bite, she flips through a leather-bound journal of some sort, idly taking notes in the margin with a stubby wedge of graphite.

Zion enters and heads to the bar. Dressed in his usual long coat with his weapons strapped on him. He heads to the bar to order some Zzar and then find a place to sit

A pair of off-duty Watch members enter the place, removing their helms and sitting at a nearby table with a grimace and a sigh. They look exhausted and beleagured. Something dark sits behind their eyes, and they immediately begin trying to wash it away with spirits. "I don't even know if I can eat after that," one of them says. His hair is short and military-like - typical of the Watch. His eyes are pale blue. The other, whose beard was close-trimmed and flecked with gray only shrugs, "Doesn't get any better kid."

Roxie does notice when several drinks are whisked past her table and delivered to the guardsmen.

Turning around and watching the two watch men talk, he can't help himself and walks up to them, “Excuse me but what doesn't get any better?"

Leal hasn't been doing her side-gig with the Watch for very long, certainly not long enough to have met these two yet, but Leal is nothing if not inquisitive about this sort of thing. Rather than approach immediately, though, she just waits until their drinks are empty, then flips the bartender a silver piece to pay for another round for the men. Graybeard puts a hand on his knee as he turns to regard Zion. "The job, kid. The job." He thumbs in blue-eyes direction. "Kid got 'is first taste o' movin' a few dead bodies about, is all."

The empty mugs come fast. "What's this?" graybeard asks, when they're immediately filled. The barmaid points in Leal's direction, to which they both raise their mugs.

Zion frowns,"That is never easy to deal with.", watching where the barmaid pointed at," But at least you have some who value the work you both do."

Roxie listens for the moment, finishing her own food.

"Mind if I sat with you both and hear more about what happen with you two?" Zion asks.

"It's not that," blue-eyes replies after sipping at his second tankard. "It's... well," he glances at graybeard then the others. "Well best I not speak of it. Just the way they were..." He doesn't finish.

"I'll buy a few rounds to compensate for the story,” Zion offers.

Graybeard looks to Zion and shrugs. "Fine by me," he replies. "Ain't like it ain't public record or nuffin'. There was a murder up on Imar Street," he goes on, as if they should be familiar with it. "There's a handbill out for the bitch what done it." He points at the notice board. "Word is she escaped the Watch's holding facility and disappeared."

"A sorceress or a really good cat burglar? to escape that is?" Zion asks.

Roxie climbs down and heads over to the notice board to see what they're talking about.

"Blood-Red Crown," blue-eyes says, glancing at a nearby patron's plate. "Well, I guess some spiced potatoes couldn't hurt, eh?" He waves the barmaid over, who fills his order with exaggerated zeal. "Anythin' for y'all?" she asks the others.

Zion holds his hand up to signify he was done and didn't need anything.

Leal tips her head and raises her glass back to the Watchmen in greeting. She's clearly interested in the conversation as well, but trying not to be pushy about it as she polishes off her plate. As they tell the story, she remembers reading about that murder in one of the broadsheets. She asks the barmaid for another wine.

Zion pulls out a few silver and puts it on the table," But keep the men happy here though.''

Graybeard shrugs. "Devil if I know," he says. "Watch just finished up investigatin' the villa where it 'appened. We spent the last couple hours movin' the bodies for processin'."

Zion continues his line of questioning. "How many did you have to move?"

Roxie comes back to the table where the guardsmen were. "IS that who you were after?"

Blue-eyes suddenly goes green. "I don't know how many bodies those... pieces made," he replies. The plate of potatoes is set before him and he winces.

"I can see why the difficulty it must have been, I apologize for that last question.", he frowns. "I wasn't aware of that."

Roxie looks a little lost for words for a moment. Then, like the child so many accuse her of being, she asks, "Why would anyone do such a thing?"

"Little Hin," graybeard replies, "The list is long."

Hearing Roxie’s question, Zion looks at her," Why would someone do that indeed?"

"Can we just stop talking about it?" blue-eyes pleads quietly, still looking at his untouched plate.

Leal changes the subject slightly to try and move the conversation away from the murder itself. "Any leads as to where she took off to?"

Graybeard shakes his head. "Everything the Watch knows as far as her escape..." he points to the notice board again.

"That's not overly helpful,” Roxie remarks.

"No shit," graybeard comments, throwing back the contents of his mug and wiping his face with the back of his glove.

"So all the help you can get from anyone would be greatly appreciated, if I understand correctly?" Zion suggests.

Graybeard looks at Zion, "Something about a reward there, I think, Country," he replies. He grabs the plate blue-eyes still hadn't touch and begins eating. "Don't want this to go to waste now, do we?" Blue-eyes shrugs and downs his own drink with a sour face.

"I wonder where the Blood-Red Crown spends its time. Strikes me that a local troupe that wants to stay local, even a below-board sort, doesn't typically approve of attracting attention like this." Leal ponders the question through as she speaks it, swirling the wine in her glass idly. "Maybe they help the cause, maybe they keep their mouths shut and hope they can find her first, but it couldn't hurt to find out...if they can be found."

Blue -eyes shrugs. "I don't see how. They couldn't make much of the crime scene. Even after they brought a mage in."

Looking at the Watchmen and then at the Hin and finally at the young lass who bought the watch a round, Zion says, " I wonder if I could have the enjoyment of a Hin and Young lady to help me in finding the culprit?"

Roxie seems exceptionally enthusiastic. "Sure. We can fin her. If she's part of a known troupe, there should be someone that knows something."

"Meh," graybeard noises. "Sorceror. Wasn't even school-trained."

"I'm willing to help out in any way possible, if the two of you wouldn't mind my company?", Zion looks to Roxie and then Leal," By the way my name is Zion."

Graybeard then looks toward Zion. "Private citizens should be wary of involvin' themselves in Watch business," he comments. "Weren't too long back when some knuckleheads killed a Captain and nearly got hung for it. Truth was he was a dirty sod, but still..."

Zion, hearing, the warning,"I'll keep that in mind good sirs and will do my best to stay out of trouble."

Graybeard mumbles something else but it's lost in his mug as he drains it yet again.

Leal hesitates at that--looking at the crime scene would be intriguing, but she's early enough in her studies that she's unlikely to do any better. Still, again, it doesn't hurt to try! "I...I could take a crack at it. I've done a little work up at the Dock Ward Watch-house," she says as she pulls a page out of the slipcover of her journal, "and I'm not much more than a beginner, but maybe I can catch something the sorcerer missed."

Graybeard chuckles as he eyes the slip of paper. "Apprentice eh? Well then, green-ears, be my guest. Go see Beleira and Kaleel when you get there and tell them Arganov sent you. The owner of the property takes possession of the property again in the morn, so best you be about it quick if you wanna wet your noses."

Leal nods at that, getting more enthusiastic about the prospect of getting involved in this, and looks to the other two. "Should we take a jaunt to Imar Street, then?"

Zion stands and places a few more silver on the table,"My thanks for the conservation and have a good evening gentlemen." He turns and waits for Roxie and Leal to head to where ever

"Don't go gettin' yourselves killed," Arganov smiles, lifting his mug to them.

"Sure!" Roxie says and scrambled to her previous table to collect her things.
She quickly gathers her stuff can comes back. "All set. Let's go check this place out."

Zion awaits the other two

Leal slides her journal into the little rucksack on her hip, pays her tab, then looks to the others, ready to depart. "Well met, Zion. I'm Leal, by the way."

"My name is Roxie," she says to the others as they're getting ready to leave.

Leal nods to Roxie. "A pleasure, Roxie. Imar Street first, then start checking around for the Blood-Red Crown, depending on what we learn at our first stop?"

The entrance to the Grinning Lion feels like it sucks in and spews people out into the streets of the North Ward. This well-kept, well-patrolled area of the city, while not as "proper" feeling as the Sea Ward, nevertheless as an air of order about it.

Imar Street is not far, from what you know or were told. Just a couple blocks northeast of here.

Not familiar with the streets, Zion is content to follow those who know where they are going

Roxie tags along, running a little to keep up with the giant sized folks.

The streets still bear decent amounts of foot and carriage traffic, being the early evening hours. Every home is gated, though not nearly as grand as those of the Sea Ward. It's fairly easy to find what you're looking for, because, well, it's the only home on Imar Street with a pair of Watchmen station outside it.

Leal is not intimately familiar with the city yet by any stretch, but she's figuring it out--and if none of them know where it's at, she's fully content to hail a rickshaw to convey the trio directly.

It's not even that far. A few streets east and there's Imar, then north and voila. A male and female guard the gate. Both eye the trio as you approach.

Leal greets the pair with as much practiced ease as she can muster. "Well met. Are you two Beleira and Kaleel?"

It is not until you approach them directly that hands go to their sword. The man speaks. "I am Kaleel. What business have you with the Watch?"

"Arganov sent us."

Roxie lets the humans do the talking.

That makes at least Kaleel ease up a bit. Beleira cocks her head and glances at her partner. "To what end?" Kaleel queries.

Leal’s got her hands where they can be seen, and nods to them in greeting. "Arganov sent us. I'm Leal Hydaspes; I've done some work up at the Dock Ward Watch-house, and thought I might be able to take a look at what happened and see if I could find anything new. This is Roxie and Zion, who are interested in assisting as well."

Zion looks to Leal to see if she'll finish or if he should

"The Watch has completed its investigation here," Kaleel shrugs, letting go of his sword hilt. He looks to Beleira and she does the same. "I don't think there's anything left for you to investigate."

Hearing Leal's explanation (which would've beat his comments any day), just smiles at the two Watch.

"Maybe we should let them help," Beleira suggests quietly.

Leal nods. "We understood that. Arganath seemed to think the investigation might benefit from a fresh pair of eyes looking at the scene. It certainly couldn't hurt anything at this point, yes?"

"What's with you?" Kaleel says, turning his head. He sighs, grumbles, and then turns back to them. "Fine," he says. "You can escort them then, Beleira," he says sardonically.

"Fine," Beleira replies, a bit more fiercely. Kaleel turns and opens the gate. "We'll be watching you." He tells them.

Roxie takes all of this to mean, "you're free to help us. Thank you for anything you can do." It's perhaps not quite that friendly, but are at least letting the group in.

As you approach, Beleira unlocks and opens the door with a small smile. The small building consists of what looks to be a normal single family dwelling. There is a living area and a single bedroom, as well as a kitchenette. Nothing looks out of place above grounds except for signs of some sort of physical confrontation, as the furniture looks knocked out of place.

“Understood." Leal nods politely, letting Kaleel's apparent stiffness pass without notice--apparently presuming the scene has him on edge or something.

Beleira follows them in, seemingly interested in whatever they may find. Perhaps she has a curious streak in her.

Zion follows and glances around, not really sure what to look for right now.

As Beleira leads them into the dwelling, Leal begins looking around for anything obviously out of the ordinary--beyond the clear signs of struggle, that is. She doesn't expect to find anything up here, but it doesn't hurt to check, as she takes a casual sweep of the level.

Roxie pulls out a runrod and looks around.

Zion stands off to the side and watches with his low-light vision to see where the sunrod doesn't penetrate, and listens to what's going on

At one point Roxie gets down on her hands and knees and seems to be studying something on the floor.

Leal moves a piece of furniture off to one side to reveal the basement door, grunting a little to move the piece with her small frame.

Quietly speaking to everyone present, Zion says, "Except for the noise we're making it's eerily silent here."

"Yeah, we found that too," Beleira comments. "Be prepared."

Leal looks to Beleira. "Was the door covered over when the Watch arrived?"

Beliera shrugs. "I wasn't here when the Watch first arrived. I put the sofa there myself when they asked us to make sure we didn't miss anything." She shrugs.

"Hm." She pulls out her journal and makes a quick note to find out who the initial responder was, and see if they have that info.

"Mind if we look down there?" comes the question from the Hin.

"That's what you're here for," Beliera nods.

The downstairs basement looks normal enough. Fuel for the stove, extra supplies, storage, a lone cot. There looks to be a wardrobe with a secret door that’s been discovered and opened by the Watch (you presume).

Roxie casts something on herself, and then climbs down into the basement.

Zion arches an eyebrow as he watches Roxie casts. He remains quiet though

Leal wanders on down to the basement and does a casual search of the area outside the secret door. One might suspect she's as much being thorough as she is instinctively delaying. "So who actually owns the property? And who was staying here?"

“No idea," Beleira replies. "I was simply posted for guard duty here tonight, ma'am."

Leal nods, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry. I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll just add those to the 'questions to ferret out later' list."

Leal’s delayed it as long as she can, and steels herself as she heads towards the secret room...

Zion, feeling a little lost, follows the others quietly

Roxie goes into the ritual chamber, curiosity overcoming what should be common sense. She looks around at the trappings from a purely academic point of view.

Once the basement area is well-searched by 2/3 of your party, it's to the secret door you are led. It passes into to what looks like a large ritual chamber. Iron symbols are hung from the rafters in here, there are nine of them. A nine-pointed star crafted in what looks like wrought iron lies on the floor. It is approximately 9’ in diameter. Manacles attach themselves to this iron star in several places. It is stained with what looks like blood, as is the entire center of the room. Strong scents linger in the air, and there looks to be an alchemist’s lab in the far corner of the room. Candles lie about. It would take further investigation and a good deal of knowledge about rituals to ascertain if their placement bears meaning.

She narrows her eyes, the strong scent of blood suddenly thick in her nostrils as she starts breathing deeply through her mouth to calm herself. She begins sketching the scene in her journal, diagramming the layout to see if putting it on paper helps her realize the significance moreso than the scene in person...

Zion looks about the place from the entrance to the room and frowns at what he sees.

Roxie seems to be talking to herself out loud... "Binding, Transformation, Sacrifice, and seeing. Someone is into all kinds of stuff."

"See anything interesting?" Beleira calls, staying at the entrance and not entering the room.

Roxie points to the iron symbols hanging from the rafters. "Cold iron."

"If anything needs checked up in rafters, I could see if anything is useful up there?", he tries to find something useful for himself to do in this investigation..

It's not just the symbols. The bars forming the nine-pointed star on the floor are also made of cold iron. When Roxie comments on it, Beleira says, "Don't get any ideas," knowing its value.

Leal squints and shakes her head for a moment as she sketches the scene, as if trying to recall something that was there just a moment ago, and then gruffs in quiet frustration. "There's something more to it...I get a sense of all of those things being combined, coalesced into something new. I...don't know what 'something' is, though...can't quite get my brain around it."

By rafters, there are simply a few open beams here, supporting the floor above. There is no space up there. The chains (also cold iron) holding the symbols have been nailed in up there (with cold iron nails).

"That's a lot of cold iron," Roxie muses. "Someone's a little obsessive."

Zion shrugs at Beliera’s comment and pays no attention to her meaning.

"Dammit," Leal mutters idly, making notes alongside her drawing of her and Roxie's observations, and then begins looking around the room for any finer details that might contribute to her understanding of what happened here.

Curious Zion looks and searches also.

The three of you comb the area, looking for the smallest clue.

"Hm," Leal says as she lights up a spoon and examines it. "It's not cold iron, unlike most everything else in here. Looks like it's stamped, too...maybe from an inn?"

Zion stops what he is doing and listens to Leal and see what she's talking about

Roxie comes over to get a better look at the spoon.

The spoon was tossed in a corner, and seems to have no significance at all. "What's that?" Beleira asks, stepping into the room for the first time.

Leal shakes her heads and hands the spoon over to Roxie. "You recognize that stamp at all?"

Roxie looks at the symbol on it.

Zion frowns cause he has no idea at all about the symbol

She squints a moment, and then takes another look at the spoon. "Actually, now that I think about it, I think I've seen this stamp before. The...Splintered Stair, I think?"

"The what?" Beleira asks. "Splintered what?"

"Whoever steals a spoon from a tavern?” Roxie wonders aloud. “Unless it's not meant to be used for eating, but for something else?"

"Where's the Splintered Stair?" Zion inquires.

"Splintered Stair. I think it's down in Dock Ward, I vaguely recall seeing it not long after I got to Waterdeep."

Zion says, "So since there's nothing else that's been found, do you want to try there next?"

"I've not heard of this news," Beleira says. "Come, we must be quick! I will escort you personally." She motions them back through the secret doorway.

"Maybe you should hang on to the spoon Leal,” Zion suggests, “it could be useful for something that's not cold iron when everything else was in this room."

Zion shrugs" Just saying."

"Let's get going before our guide runs off without us," Roxie offers.

Leal nods. "Yes, I think that's the most logical next step." And she follows Beleira, nodding to Zion. "If nothing else, it'll be useful to have to hand for comparison if my memory turns out to be faulty."

Zion is content to follow the others.

Beleira exits the house at a brisk pace. She meets up with Kaleel and the two have a quick, if hushed, conversation. Kaleel sounds the Watch horn as the four of you head south. "Be quick, Kaleel!" Beleira says as you all pass him. "We can't let her escape!"

"I will!" he waves back as you all hurry toward Dock Ward.

Zion keeps up with the brisk pace Beleira has set for them, and checks to make sure Roxie and Leal are keeping up also

One thing that can be said for Leal is that she's fairly quick on her feet, and she's not going to have much issue keeping up with Beleira.

By contrast, Roxie is doing her best to keep up while going at a brisk jog.

You make your way to the Dock Ward all the way from the North Ward, with Beleira leading the way. You come to Gut Street, where the north side of the inn faces. "Come, we must be quick," Beleira says to you.

Roxie continues running after the humans.

Zion continues to follow the Watch.

The façade of the Splintered Spoon makes one wary to even enter. The building looks to be leaning heavily on the buildings it sits between. Drunken sailors wander the streets. The inn looks open for business, but very little foot traffic is seen coming in and out.

Beleira removes her helm and assumes a casual manner as she motions them inside with her head. "We will find her quickly, be sure of it."

Taking note of the surround area and the building's look/appearance, in a sarcastic voice, Zion says, "Nice place."

"That certainly looks like the one I remember. I, uh, did not exactly go in for a close inspection." Leal nods as they approach the building, girding herself. "Nothing else for it now, though."

The interior of the Splintered Stair belies its outward appearance. It is well-maintained and, at least for the docks, well-appointed.

Getting himself close to Leal,and quietly muttering to her," How do we know who we are looking for? The Watch seems to be rushing this a little too fast."

"I can only imagine why it's called the Splintered Stair. There's probably more than a few splinters around the place."

Leal’s somewhat surprised by the internal appearance of the place, but stays close to Beleira as she whispers back to Zion, covering her mouth discreetly. "Black hair, blue eyes, cloak the color of blood, twin daggers, according to the handbill."

Not liking this, Zion reaches out and puts a hand on Roxie's shoulder, "stay close, I don't like this." he says quietly to her.

Roxie nods and keeps close to them.

A few patrons look up as you enter, but there is little more activity. The innkeeper, a slender, aging woman with white hair, smiles and waves them over. "Sit wherever you like, m'lords and ladies," she says. "Be right with ye." Beleira looks about, then fixes here eyes on the innkeeper. "Where is she?" she inquires sternly, replacing her helm. "By order of the Watch, produce the fugitive Bete or be searched from floorboard to ceiling."

Zion nods to Leal's description of the culprit.

The innkeeper blinks rapidly. "What's that dearie?" she asks, cupping a hand to her ear. Beleira looks past her. "What's behind that door?" she points.

"...that said, she's clearly got some magical talent. She could be in disguise, so stay wary," Leal continues, sotto voce.

Surprised at the forward approach of Beliera, Zion looks around at the other patrons to see if there's any unusual movement.

From her vantage (3 ft tall) she looks around the room's patrons to see if any of them seem to have dual daggers as their choice of self-defense tools.

"Door?" the woman says, looking over her shoulder at the wall, way at the back of the kitchen, down the hall, behind a pair or sacks.

Beleira gracefully hops over the bar and makes her way to the kitchen's rear. "Don't play with me, woman, I can see it clearly!"

"I'm sure I don't..." Her eyes narrow briefly before she trips on something and falls flat on her face. "Ooomph!" is the noise she makes as the old woman goes down.

Beleira, with the cooks scattering out of the kitchen, moves the two sacks of flour with uncommon ease. Meanwhile the old woman groans on the floor. Tripped over her own feet, from the looks of it.

Zion shakes his head at Beliera's boldness, and then frown's at the old lady’s abrupt fall, then follows the Watch lady to where she heads.

"Beleira, aren't we being a little bold without any back-up?" Zion asks when he's in earshot of her.

Roxie goes to the old lady on the floor. "Are you alright?"

Leal checks briefly on the old woman with Roxie, but so long as her groan isn't one of, say, "I broke my hip" pain, she then quickly follows behind Zion and Beleira. She's starting to wonder about the Watchwoman, but she's sticking to it for now.

Beleira makes a gesture and the wall suddenly slides back, revealing a secret room. She steps in immediately and looks about. As the three of you catch up, you can see what the room contains: A small cot, someone's personal belongings, which consist of a belt with a pair of daggers and a red cloak, among other things. "Dammit!" Beleira swears. She begins going though the room ... rather violently.

"I'm... fine dearie..." the woman says, getting to her feet. "Maybe you should see what's got your friend all riled up eh?"

Zion shakes his head,"This is too easy, I don't like this...." He looks to Leal for any understanding of what's going on.

Roxie pauses by the old woman, waiting for the others to say something and wanting to make sure the lady really was ok.

The woman moves to the bar and pours herself a shot. Beleira overturns the cot.

Zion shrugs when no response from Leal and starts to search the room.

"...Beleira? You're...kind of mucking up the evidence here." Leal is wary.

Roxie’s still waiting by the old lady, and watching the common room.

Beleira stands up straight, looks back out the secret door in the old woman's direction, and shouts, "Get her!" When you turn, you see the only the white braid of the old lady as she sails over the bar and bolts for the door.

Zion heard the lady and she said capture the old lady, so he's after her! He runs at her to get her

Leal stops...and blinks. Then she speaks slowly, but firmly. "I can absolutely do that...but a question, first: Who are you?"

"Fool! After her! KILL HER!" Beleira shouts.

Zion jumps over the bar with ease and then unhooks his mace from his belt to do what's needed to stop the fleeing culprit.

The old lady makes it through and out the front door.

"My question first,” Leal insists. “You're not the Watch, or you'd have grabbed the ones we saw en route as backup. You also wouldn't be egging us on to kill the woman, especially after Arganov made sure to chastise us about not doing that earlier tonight. So who are you?" Her weapon is drawn, but she holds for the moment.

Beleira's face contorts with rage. "Fools, all of you!" Beleira screams. Instantly, she is transformed! A gruesome thing screeches by Leal, as its wings buffet her. It has the body of female humanoid, its nude flesh scarred and unnaturally elongated limbs, ending in clawed hands and feet that drip with some toxic chemical. The foul stench of devilish flesh permeate the entire place. It has no eyes, but what looks to be some sort of grafted, hideous organ attached to its head, and it screams as it flies past you all and toward the fleeing woman!

The smell affects Zion's aim at the fleeing thing and misses the creature as it flies by him.

The creature, whatever it is, is just about to burst through the door...

By reflex, in the same motion as she flinches away from totally unexpected claws and fangs and wings, Leal brings up the wooden rod she keeps at the small of her back, a cracking noise ringing out as she swats away one taloned hand with as much force as she can muster, then wheels away and spins to face the now-fleeing monstrosity.

Roxie watches the creature attempting to escape and casts another spell. A fiery beam of light soars at the creature. And the bolt flies past the creature and winks out of existence. Roxie runs towards the door, drawing adagger while she does so.

Its scream of anger at Leal's blow rings in your ears but it does not lose focus and hurtles toward the door!

The front door smashes with the creature's impact as it breaks through!

Zion chases after the foul smelling creature. He comes close and swings at the thing yet again. And yet the foul smell makes him gag to the point that he literally useless with a weapon

It's too fast and slides away before Zion can hit it cleanly! But even though Zion misses, a pair of arrows do not! Some of you barely see it, but the deadly missiles hit the creature square. Has the Watch finally arrived?

Leal follows behind Zion, her adrenaline working faster than her brain at the moment as she strangely decides that chasing the creature down is a good idea.

Zion and Leal clear the door and see it.

Leal takes another swing at the fleeing creature and misses, stumbling away after being buffeted by a wing. Her gaze catches the source of the mysterious arrows, and things start clicking together a little in her head...

The creature pays little attention to the flies chasing it, but runs down her quarry! "Giiive it to meee!" she screams, slashing at what can only be our fugitive, Bete.

Roxie keeps running after the creature. ((How far is she from it?))

The dark-haired woman is caught by the first of the creature's claws, but manages to avoid the second. Her eyes widen, though as she realizes the pain she feels is unnaturally strong! She drops her bow and falls to a knee, but she's not down!

Roxie keeps running, only to pause and cast something quickly. A glowing orb of green energy appears in her and and she throws it at the flying creature.

Zion's eyes light up in a state of adrenaline-fueled fury, and he attacks the creature with his new found strength (ferocity for Barbarian ) and he swings at the creature again. With his ferocity fueling him to a high, Zion swings his heavy mace right on the weird organ thinged face. With a sickening crunch and thud the damn thing dies!!!!!!!

Die it does! Screamng and writhing in a ball of smoke and brimstone, the creature, a Striga, as Roxie later points out, sizzles and pops into nothingness... Leaving no real evidence of its actual existence. Well, save for the two dozen or so witnesses standing behind you all who go suddendly from screaming and pointing to cheering! Patrons of the Splintered Stair, no less.

In the midst of the fight, however, the creature's (and perhaps your) quarry is nowhere to be seen.

Leal cringes and wheezes at the sight and terrifying stench, which is not really a thing that has entered her daily experience (by the grace of the gods), but then sighs in relief when the thing quits moving or attacking people. She wheels around to look for the woman with the bow...

After the fight is done with the striga, Zion is sickened, and he vomits where he stands and then tries to get his bearings on what is happening around him.

The general commotion finally brings the Watch, but it's not Kaleel. They take your statements, and the three of you back to their command center. Eventually, however, you do meet up with Kaleel and tell him your story.

Leal whirls around a few more times, glancing in every direction. "Gods-damnedable thing." Before the Watch shows up, she looks to see if any sign of the woman was left behind--the wig, the arrows, etc.--as they might help locate the woman if they're handy, but could easily get lost in the confusion. And then, as noted, tells the Watch everything.

Zion follows along with what the Watch wants until his sickened state wears off and then he is back to usual confident fighter self

Yes, the costume is found. One arrow disappeared with the striga. The other is found in a rooftop not far off. All are unremarkable and cheap.

"She told me it was Sea's Edge," Kaleel explains later. He shakes his head. "Was she a devil *all* this time?" he wonders aloud and walks off, muttering to himself. You see him fail to suppress a shudder.

Zion shudders to if what Kaleel was thinking what he was thinking.

The Watch rewards you with 100g each for the help you provided, though admittedly it raised more questions than answers. What is Bete's role in all of this? She certainly did not look the part of summoner, and besides, from what Roxie could tell those things are only ever servants to other devils. What was it looking for? Why did it think Bete had it? Well, all questions that could be left for the Watch, or left for a curious trio at another time...

Leal shakes her head, her mind spinning with all the unknowns in this scenario, and she walks away burdened with more frustration than gold. This will definitely earn her further attention...

(to be continued...?)
Last edited by A.J. on Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby Artie Pen Dragon » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:36 pm

Edward Teach thought it wouldn't be smart to get involved in devil cults and all that, it's not exactly a recipe for success. But by Valkur's sack.... he was drunk one night and decided he never got anywhere being smart.

So he did some digging around (knowledge local Waterdeep 7), first stopping at the Queenspire to pay his respects to the Queen, and then asked some of the priests if they know anything about Blood-Crown cults or anything of that nature.
Artie Pen Dragon
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue May 19, 2015 12:13 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:09 pm

So it continued one night at the Angry Coxswain, where Eddie was sitting on a stool at the bar, trading stories with some fisherman.

Roxie walks into the tavern and looks around for an empty chair.

Eddie saw the little thing scampering around, and he leaned down and squinty eyed her. "Roxie, against my better judgement I poked around for those red crowny types."

Zion follows in the Angry Coxswain right behind Roxie and follows her to where she decides to sit

Roxie’s face lights up in joy. "Really?" She finds a conveniently empty barstool next to Eddie and climbs up. "What did you find out?"

"Oh, I don't know..." Eddie grins a little. "But me a pint?"

She'll put a few coins on the bar. "Oh barkeep..." Roxie calls.

Zion takes an empty bar stool also and waits patiently for the information to come out of the person speaking.

Eddie eyes Zion up and down, then looks between him and Roxie. "Ye know she be underage, lad?"

"She knows me and I'm not trying to get her interest. ," Zion frowns," A bit much with the Ale tonight?"

"Never...” Eddie replies, “I'm a sober individual..." Shifty eyes.

"Under age?" Roxie shrugs it off as the barkeep comes over. "He needs a drink," she says, nodding her head towards Eddie.

"Hmmm....I see,” Zion shakes his head,"Whatever then, my name is Zion."

"Eddie." He smiled jovially and offered his hand, and nodded to the drink. "Found out about them actually... They have stock in an inn called the Splintered Stair here in the ol'Deep... and they regularly travel up and down the coast here on a ship called the Red Runner... gives job to some of the locals here."

"I knew you'd be able to find out something," Roxie says, grinning.

"Liar..." Eddie got his drink and toasted to that. "What do you have against these blokes, anyway?"

Zion shook his head and then listened to the information coming out of Eddie. "Well, for one reason a striga."

"Well, aside from the crazy lady who apparently murdered someone,” Roxie adds, “it's possible they might be trying to turn people into more devils. Either voluntarily or involuntarily."

Eddie scratched his beard. "Hmm... that would do it. So you want to go and slit some throats here?"

"If need be,” Roxie replies. “But first I think it might be wiser to find out more about them and what they're doing. Maybe finding out what they're shipping and to whom could give us some clues."

"Not unless we need to.", Zion frowns again, trying to figure out this person."We don't need to become murderers."

"Aye... makes sense,” Eddie nods. “And I doubt anyone willing to tangle with devils is willing willing to have a nice chat..." He drank his beer. "The way I see it.." He said with a beer stache. "We can go in there rough and take one, beat the information out of him. Or we can bribe somebody, or we can spy."

"I think those last two sound more practical." Roxie comments.

Zion nods in agreement with Roxie

The sounds of the 'swain wash over your conversation as the three of you settle into a course of action.

"Be ready with steel... but we'll play it your way." Eddie nodded to them.

"Exactly,” Roxie replies. She looks around. "So, it looks like this is it for a while. So shall get started?"

"I was hoping Leal would show up too." Zion looks around to see if they missed her

"Same here,” Roxie agrees.

“Alright...” Eddie says, “the Runner is making port soon... stakeout? How much beer we need?"

After looking around Zion sits back. "Well time to go then with out her, I guess."

"Leal... that comely lass?" Eddie asks.

Zion shakes his head at Eddie,"I suppose, yes. But we need your head clear of distractions, please. I don't need us getting killed because your mind is else where."

"Exactly,” Roxie replies. “Only enough to make it look like you're drunk to others. You're not allowed to actually get drunk yet."

"Just rum then..." Eddie mumbles.

Zion chuckles,"May Selune help us stay alive tonight."

"Fine, MOTHER," Eddie says sarcastically. “I don't want to end up being sacrificed to some horned hooligan either. So we'll stay sharp, aye. And let's show this cult there's no room for shenanigans in Umberlee's court. To make this look legit... we could sign up to do some deck scrubbing on old man Keller's Wicked Wench... he needs the work done.. and we could have a reason to be spending all our time at the docks."

"We could,” Roxie says. “How about if we head out and see what our options are?" She starts to climb down from the really tall barstool.

Eddie stood up and threw some coins on the table. "Aye...." He then headed to do his stakeout, and help out a fellow Umberlite.

Zion stands,"Lets be off and then discuss this more in private without so many folk around,okay?"

The sun was beginning to set as the three of you step out of the noise of the tavern. This didn't stop the flow of people through the streets. It got even busier the closer you came to the docks. The Wicked Wench was moored along the southern end. Where the Red Runner would land was, for now, anyone's guess.

Eddie walked onboard and shook Keller's hand. "Got ye some scrubbers... lubbers..." He looked back at them. "But they have backs."

Zion follows Eddie and looks at the ship and what crew is on deck over.

So many bodies flowing around the area makes figuring out the scene all the more difficult. Couple that with the tourists, the traders, and the ships themselves; it was, to the outsider, a hot mess.

Roxie follows along behind Eddie.

Eddie motioned to Roxie. "She's small, maybe the bilge?"
"Uh, what?" Roxie remarks, "No thank you. That doesn't need cleaned anyway."

Keller looks up at the crow's nest. "Better Sam's spitoon," he thumbs upward.

“Aye..." Eddie grinned.

For the most part Zion thought Eddie was talking like he knew what was going on so......... he guesses they’ll have to see what happens.

Eddie went and got himself a mop, stopping to whisper to one of the shirtless sailors. He whispers, "there's some coins in it fer ye if ye can tell me when the Red Runner docks"

"Maybe I could climb up there?" Roxie suggests.

"That be easy to climb if need be." Zion remarks.

"Sounds like a plan... grab ye a rag," Eddie said as he leaned over the edge and dipped his mop in the sea, and then began to swab.

Keller tosses Roxie a wire brush. "Now ye gets alla seagull scum offa there now, hear me?"

As Eddie swabbed, he always kept an eye out for ships, watching who's coming and going in the immediate area.

"Sure," Roxie says, a little less enthusiastically than her usual happy self. She stuffs the brush in her pocket and climbs up.

Zion shakes his head and looks for a mop to scrub like Eddie is doing

As Roxie’s climbing, she spots Lead going the way they jsut came from. She waves and tries to get the woman's attention. "Heeeeeyyy!"

Eddie began to sing as he swabbed, something he was used to doing, honest work.

Leal’s not in disguise, per se, but she's dressed-down tonight, with a scarf over her hair and a mantled cloak as if she were expecting rain later. She spots Roxie as the halfling tries to get her attention, and she heads over that way. "Evening, Roxie--I was hoping I'd find you here."

Roxie is currently climbing up some ropes on a ship, on her way up to the crow's nest. She has a fabulous view of the docks. She pauses and waves again. "Come on over!"

Eddie looked up and spotted Leal, grinning. "Welcome aboard."

Seeing Leal as she comes to view, Zion smiles and wave to her also.

"Another back?" Keller asks, glancing at Eddie.

Leal nods in greeting to Eddie and Zion. As she speaks, she's keeping an eye out--not on ships, but on the passing crowd. "You lot spot anything yet?"

Eddie nodded, not really knowing if Leal was ready to start work or not, especially without a prompt. Instead he handed a mop to Leal and said "Get te werk."

Zion shook his head no at Leal and then goes back to work

Eddie whispered to Leal as well.

Roxie finishes climbing up to the top. "She peeks inside the crow's nest and sees... mess. "Eww."

Leal leans in and whispers back as she grabs the mop.

Eddie grinned and whispered back. He wiped some sweat from his forhead and took a swig of his wineskin, whatever was in it.

What Roxie finds is that the Wicked Wench's crow's nest is a mixture of seagull excrement and sailor cuspidor. Spat tobacco stains what the seagull shit does not...

Leal frowns vaguely as she feigns some mopping.

Once Roxie gets at it with the wire brush, she understands it would take even the paint from the wood... The sun dips ever lower into the sea...

Eddie shrugged, and whispered back, making bit of a scene whispering back and forth.

While scrubbing, Roxie periodically watches the harbor for incoming ships.

Zion keeps glancing around while he mops, wondering when this lousy job will ever end.

Leal flips Eddie a sailor-like gesture in the midst of her mopping.

Eddie laughed and then patted Zion on the back. "Sailin’ aint easy, lad."

It's a couple hours work and the sun gets well below the horizon. That doesn't stop the action in the Dock Ward, just makes seeing it all the more difficult.

Zion nods but is in a sour mood.

One of the sailors steps near Eddie and leans in. Eddie took out some coins, grabbed the man's hand, and pours out some coins in it.

Roxie is hoping her progress is sufficient. she is alternating between scrubbing and watching for inbound ships.

Leal moves past Eddie, working behind him, speaking quietly but trying to make it look more natural. Just in case, she keeps the tone soft and the text light. "She's the one we're actually here for. A member of the group whose ship we're awaiting, so the ship's likely to lure her out of hiding."

"Aye..." Eddie dropped the mop and then began heading off the ship, just like that. "We'll be back, Keller!"

From where you all stand, somewhere around Berth 81, it doesn't look like too much is going on that you can see. It all seems fairly ordinary, from what you can tell.

"We ready?" Eddie called to everyone.

Roxie sets the brush down and looks down at Eddie. "Ready?"

Zion frowns but listens to Eddie by setting the mop aside and follows Eddie

"Yeap!" Eddie replies.

Roxie climbs back down and joined the others on deck.

Eddie was already on his way off the ship and down toward some sport on the docks a bit down the way.

Eddie hits the crowd of bodies along the docks and, like one familiar with the setting, moves through them with ease, leaving the others to follow.

Zion follows along.

Roxie scrambles after the others, glad to leave the gross brush behind.

Leal follows as well, somewhat nonplussed.

A bit down the way, Eddie stopped in front of birth 36, eyeballing some shit, leaning against a stone wall.

The four of you move after Eddie. Roxie obviously trusts him to follow without knowing what he's about or where, exactly, he's going.

And there it is, backing in, the Red Runner. Ship's mates are pulling it arse-end in. Not too common for a ship of that size, but, nothing out of the ordinary there, either, considering the narrowness of that particular area of the marina; backing out, backing in, all of it was a pain. There's something to be said for the sailors' skill here, though, among other things.

Roxie, it seems, has theories in her little Hin head.

Leal still isn't all that used to working her way through crowds of this size, so she's a little behind the others, and distracted as she seeks out someone in particular. She does notice something odd that gives her a moment's pause, and then she focuses on catching up with Roxie and the others.

Roxie says as quietly as possible, "What's up?"

The ship makes port and is tied off. The gangplank is lowered down, and a few women get off, perhaps half a dozen. All of them look like well-seasoned sailors in manner, if not in appearance.

"Apparently this is it." Eddie replies.

Zion shrugs but says nothing.

Leal murmurs to Roxie as she catches up. "The crew is all female--at least all the ones I can see. Hm. No sign of her yet, but remember how good she was at disguise. Might want to watch for behavior more than appearance."

“That's interesting...” Eddie comments, “I'd love to sail aboard this ship"

Zion just shakes his head at Eddie's comment

"That sounds unusual. Are they all human?" Roxie queries. She is still speaking as quietly as possible to Leal.

Eddie eyes them, wondering if they are human.

The name "Red Runner" is scrawled in a flowing script across the stern of the ship, a 3 masted schooner. It's crew, if one were to guess, might be a dozen or so. There appears to be a mixture of races, from human to half-elf and at least a pair of half-orcs.

Leal wanders casually on down the dock just a little ways, just a regular passer-by on a stroll, totally not an investigator that's eyeballing the crew and hunting one of their number.

Roxie appears to be focusing on not getting run over or stepped on. BUt she does look around.

Eddie winks at some of the female sailors that walk past him, trying to seem debonair.

One of the half orcs winks back, nudging her partner. "'Ey now, Wanda, forget gettin me land legs back under me, how bout a land lubber for fair trade instead?" They both laugh and continue on.

Eddie narrows his eyes at them calling him a lubber. Looking wounded.

Leal stiffens momentarily, and then she wanders back towards Roxie, as if having seen something of interest at one of the vendors standing nearby. She mutters quietly through gritted teeth. "She's here--and she's already gotten on the ship!" She describes which one she's talking about without looking back.

Zion stands there beside Eddie and shakes his head but is quiet.

Roxie joins Leal at the vendor. "She's sneaky. So now what?"

Eddie looks to Leal, trying to figure out what she's up to.

Leal ponders a moment. "Safe option? Someone slips off to grab the Watch. We know what ship she's on, we keep an eye out to make sure she doesn't get off, then the Navy can send a patrol boat out to grab her as soon as they depart."

"What's the other option?" No, Roxie doesn't have a lack of faith in the Watch. Not at all.

Leal buys something shiny from the vendor for a couple of coppers, then holds it up to the light to examine it--which just happens to turn her back towards the ship and let her keep an eye on things.

"The other option has us try to get on the boat and grab her. As smoothly as they got her on board, I don't like those odds at all..." And then she blinks. "...and the ship's moving."

Roxie looks around for where the nearest Watch members might be.

It's night in the Dock Ward. The sea of people leave the Watch mostly away from the crowds, perusing the taverns to make sure drunk folk aren't stabbing one another...

Hearing Leal anounce the ships moving, Zion nudges Eddie,"Now what do we do?"

Eddie shrugged. "Up to you.... we storm this ship?" He then headed toward the ship and started flagging it down. "HEY! HOLD A MOMENT IN THE NAME OF THE NAVY! Ye need te pay first!"

"Uh... what is he doing?" Roxie asks rhetorically and runs off in Eddie's direction.

"Really?", Zion stares at Eddie for a moment, and then looks at Roxie and Leal," Really?", just a little bit louder this time. He starts to follow after Roxie then.

Roxie shrugs at Zion as she goes by. "I don't know."

The sails on the ship are slowly rising. The high stern makes it impossible to see who's at the helm from where you stand at the docks. The lines that looked expertly tied seem to be suddenly coming simply unraveled. Your options now consist of screaming at either the fleeing ship or for the Watch or to try and grab at one of those lines and step up for the city of Waterdeep and bring her fugitive to justice!

Eddie grabs one of the lines, and laughed boldly. "Just like old time!" He attempts to tie off one of the ropes on something sturdy nearby, to sabotage the ship.

If Eddie holds on, he is pulled off the dock and into the crispy waters of Waterdeep Harbor! If he holds on still, he can climb the rope up the ship!

Leal knows where her talents lie, and leaping after the ropes dangling from a moving ship are absolutely *not* among them. That said, she also doesn't like to lose, and she finds herself getting angry at the prospect. She has no idea what she's going to do once she gets onboard, but godsdammit, the Watch isn't around, and there's not really any time to go get them, so she doesn't exactly have better options. She sprints for a rope!

Roxie looks at Eddie, then looks around for where the Watch might be located, looks at Eddie again... Then she starts screaming "Watch! Get the Watch!!!" All while diving for one of the ropes.

Four or 5 ropes now drag down the docks as the Red Runner takes full sail and begins to pick up speed! Now's your chance if you're in or you'll be left behind!

"Really!" As Zion watches what is happening, but here he is running and about to leap after a rope to do exactly what the others are doing.

Looks like Eddie was boarding this ship, before being dragged into the drink, he put a dagger in his mouth.

Everyone grabs a rope and is subsequently body-surfing in the ship's wake as it makes full sail and slowly (though it feels so fast for those involved!) moves out into open water... You all struggle to pull yourselves up out of the drink...

Roxie pulls herself along the rope.

Zion practically runs up the rope, probably better than any sailor Eddie's ever seen...

He eyes Zion, wondering who this bloke was... as Eddie slowly made his way up, soaked from the sea.

Leal gets absolutely drenched in the ship's wake, and her spindly little arms are burning as she slowly drags herself up the rope behind the others.

Leal is literally shaking when she finally grabs the deck rail. But what is her presence of mind at that moment? What is everyone's once they get to the top? You're amazed that you're almost out of the harbor already by the time you get there... This was a fast ship!

"YARR!" Eddie bellows as he hopped over the deckrail, dagger in mouth, while drawing his rapier.

Roxie climbs up. Out of the water. Onto the deck. And as Eddie announces their presence, Roxie decides now is a good time to cast something.

Eddie's outburst, dagger in his mouth instead of his hand, causes the dozen or so armed women on the deck to turn. Seeing him, they draw their weapons.

Leal lets Eddie draw all the attention. As he screams with steel drawn, she remains with trembling arms at the edge of the deck, looking for the shadow of a mast or some cargo on deck to keep behind until she can ascertain what the opposition is.

Drawing his Bastard Sword out and getting ready for who knows what!

"The captain is a criminal! Join with me and secure a reward!" Eddie braces for a charge.

Leal was lurking at the very edge of the deck on the port side, looking for cover in the shadow of the main-mast or a large enough object on deck to hide her.

Eddie places himself at the top of some stairs, so he can't be swarmed by this mass of females. He whispered quickly to Zion.

As Eddie braces for the onslaught sure to come, others' positions are pointed out. Loaded crossbows are aimed and some of the women charge! But then, a voice: "STOP!" it cries. And they do. "Wait!" One of the women in the back says, removing a dull gray head covering. Three of you recognize her as Bete. "I know..." she glances at Eddie, but looks straight at the others in turn... "I know these people."

Recognizing Bete, Zion breathes out a sigh of relief for her stopping the slaughter that was about to happen!

"What is going on, Selea?" one of the women asks. She is tall, and commanding. It must be Red Runner's captain.

"Selea," as she refers to Bete, replies, "They saved me from that... hellish thing."

"Aye...” Eddie says, "Sorry to burst in on ye like this."

"Might we have a word with you my lady?" Zion looks pleadingly to Bete.

"Put down your weapons and you will not be harmed," the Captain calls to you. "This is my ship, the Red Runner. You will obey me, for I am Kiara, and I am her Captain. Refuse me at your peril."

Roxie does an excellent job of looking confused. Not being slaughtered definitely an improvement, though.

The weapons stay trained on you.

"I am Teach! He stood tall, and leaned on a very important rope that could mess up the ship's rigging, grinning. "Let's have a chat..." Eddie slid his rapier away, and out the dagger real close right on his belt.

Zion lowers his Bastard sword and puts it back in his scabbard on his back. He folds his hands in front of everyone to see that he is not doing anything threatening.

Roxie didn't have any weapons in hand in the first place.

As you scabbard what weapons you may have had drawn, Selea (Bete) steps forwad. She looks to Eddie. "Step away from the rigging, sir," she orders. Then she looks to the others. "Why are you here? You seek to bring me to the Watch? Speak true, as I have given you grace for saving me from that... thing. Speak false and we will dump you into the sea." She glances at Eddie, "In bits."

"We want to know what happened,” Roxie begins. “Why was that creature after you, and who brought it to this world?"

“I could cut this right now and then jump in, and Umberlee is my queen, I don't mind a swim. But I always respect an honest captain." Eddie let go of the rigging and took a neutral relaxed folding of the arms across his chest. "And no... that was just to get ye to slow down.... The watch can go suck a bag of goblin dicks fer all I care..."

Leal speaks as she clambers up onto the deck, standing upright, trying to keep her breath steady after the exertion of the climb. "We will speak true. You are wanted by the Watch, and we sought to remand you to their custody to stand for the crimes for which you have been charged. That said, you are also the center of a mystery that poses its own dangers to the city, and I for one would prefer to find out first what the implications of this mystery are and how you connect to it."

Selea looks to Roxie. "That... thing was not brought here," she replies. "It was made. Out of one of the Violet Society's own!" She shudders. Then, she turns to Leal, "They will hang me. They have no idea. They will not take from that which is the fruit of the Waterdhavian Tree. They will not accuse the rich, the Lady Celindara. They will not seek her out, nor her peers, her Shrieking Violets."

Confused, Zion just listens and hope to put the pieces together to understand who the Violet society is.

"*She* is the true devil," Selea spits.

"Uh huh...” Eddie noises. “So where's this ship headed? Luskan?" His eyes narrowed and he said it with spite.

That thought makes her cringe. "They turned one of their own into a stirga? Is this Lady Celindara an actual devil?"

"Who knows?" Selea says, nearly delirious with her feelings over what she's been through the past weeks. "She *made* this woman, this Lady Eltorchul, into that creature... as REWARD!" She laughs a bit creepily then. "Reward for finding that which was *MINE*. In fact, it was I who found..."

She's cut off, "That's enough, Selea," the Captain says. "It is enough," she says, turning to them. “We leave Waterdeep. We will drop you off at Luskan, if you behave."

He listened, taking out his wineskin and taking a big drink, offering it to a nearby female sailor as well.

Zion listens with interest, still putting the pieces together.

The nearby female nearly knocks it from his hand with her sword.

Eddie grumbled, giving the woman a squinty pirate eye.

"Selea, I leave you these wards," the Captain says, then turns to you. "You will carry your weight." Specifically she looks to Eddie, "Any stupidity on your part and I'll put you over the side bloody myself."

"I haven't been to Luskan in years... CAPTAIN." Eddie said to the woman, as an act of obedience.

"Give your weapons to the quartermaster," she says, pointing to a nearby half orc, who glares at you. "Failure to comply gets you a nice bath in the Sea of Swords."

Leal remarks, "And if our allies didn't warn the Watch in time for the Navy to send a vessel after us."

Yeah, that's when the shout comes up from the crow's nest. "Sail ahoy!"

With the sight of another sail, the crew of the Red Runner springs to life. The four of you are left with Selea, who asks, "Any of you know your way around a ship? Otherwise..." She points toward the hold. "Stay out of the way!"

"Um, I know how to keep out of the way,” Roxie says. “Beyond that, not really."

So...we're not getting tossed in the brig just yet. That's a good sign. First things first, though: Leal glances towards the horizon towards the pursuing vessel to see if she can confirm its identity.

Zion isn't going to try to move around a ship, he knows nothing about, he moves toward where Selea pointed at.

Roxie looks for someplace to disappear to for now.

Zion leans against a wall, crosses his arms across his chest and watches everyone to see what's going to happen next now.

Eddie finds his place quickly enough. He hears the commands as they come out full chested from the Captain, and now the sails are fully loosed! Another woman appears, her wild hair and gossamer garments seeming to flow with some unseen wind about her, well, for the bits of clothing there were she may as well not be wearing a thing; somehow, her... nigh nude appearance takes a back seat to her movement and she glances once at the Captain then articulates with the grace of her entire body,

"Fantastic. There goes that plan." Leal mutters darkly as she braces herself with a broad stance, as out of the way as she can get, and glances around for Plan B, though it too may be invalidated by the ship's identity: Where's the launch, and can it be gotten to in the tumult of the chase?

Roxie's attempt at finding a place to hunker down is far less graceful than intended. She hits the deck, literally, and rolls/slides up against a wall.

Eddie grips the rigging as the ship lurches forward, keeping his feet. He scrambles down from the mainsail and scoots to the forecastle, busying himself with the gaff rigging there.

With the fast movement of the ship, Zion’s leaning comes to a quick end and he falls on his rump, sliding a little. Grumbling to himself, he pushes himself back to the wall and slowly gets back onto his feet and bracing himself for any sudden movements this time.

Leal slides in next to Roxie, and talks as quietly as she can while still being heard by the halfling above the chaos on deck. "Our pursuers aren't Navy, it's a merchant marine that'll sink us fast if it catches us. That's the bad news." She hoists the halfling back to her feet as she speaks.

Roxie springs to her feet with help. "Why would a merchant ship be after them?" She also looks around to see if there's any kind of life boat visible.

"Better news, but still not great,” Leal comments, “There's a pair of launches, one on either side of the ship, each big enough for six. Not looking like it would be easy to get to either unnoticed, though."

Zion slowly works his way to Roxie and Leal.

"I'm not sure,” Leal replies, “I expected Navy, or House Eltorchul if they weren't just blowing smoke, but not a merchant marine. Unless they're agents of the Shrieking Violets, or our Captain's made a bigger habit of pissing people off than we know. I'd think we'd still be too close to land, and to the Navy patrols, for anyone to risk a gun battle, but I'm not a sailor--I have no idea how this stuff works."

When Zion makes it to the other two, he listens and frowns as he hears some of the conservation and not happy with what he heard

"MOOOVE!" comes the Captain's call. Everyone is at it, pushing the ship to its top speed with the current conditions. A glance back shows the pursuing ship holding its own, but not gaining, for now...

"I wonder what these people have planned,” Roxie comments, “They seem to be used to dealing with unfriendly attention."

"So we stay in Belle"s good graces until we figure out what is really going on here?” Zion asks, “I'm all for climbing a mountain or a building, but being on a ship isn't fun and even less fun is being in water.” He looks at the two females and hope they have a plan. "Someone does have an idea of a plan right?"

The pursuing ship seems static in its position behind you, but the Sword Coast shrinks ever smaller as the time passes. Everyone is busy at their task, but, some of you may wonder, how long can they keep it up?

"I can't imagine we have much time here,” Leal says. “We're already a half-mile from shore, close enough even to swim back if we absolutely have to, but not if we get far enough out that they calm down and decide to brig us after all. Much as I'd like to hear 'Selea's' story, the Captain's already shut that down, so I don't think there's much more we can do from here."

"Do you think we should grab a boat and try to run row away?" Roxie asks. "It's now or never if we do want to do that."

"I think it's time to cut our losses and get out of here,” Leal replies, “… get back to shore in such a way that we avoid any entanglements with that merchant ship. If you think we can get to a boat and grab it while they're occupied, I'm all for it."

"We were promised to be let go in Luskan, can we take a boat without them knowing?” Zion asks quietly.

"They would probably notice,” Roxie offers, “but I don't know that they're in much position to do anything about it."

"Yeah,” Leal replies, her sarcasm evident, “We were promised we'd be let go in a den of cutthroats and pirates, by a pirate that by all accounts is harboring a fugitive murderer. I'm looking forward to watching that play out."

"And will the other boat leave us alone also if we get away from this boat?” Zion seems nervous about the whole idea.

Decisions, decisions.

"As long as they don't see a need to hang on to us,” Roxie comments, “I don't know that they'd care much."

If, in fact, the merchant marine vessel represents a 3rd party to these events between Selea and the City Watch of Waterdeep, it is doubtful at best that they would not at lease investigate a lifeboat exiting their pursued target as they did in fact, pursue them...

"I will follow whatever you two decide,” Zion looks at both of the female compatriots," I will do what I can to help us out too,” he says quietly.

The speed of the boat, which is nigh close to 13 knots now (about 15mph), has put you, in about 10 minutes, over a mile out to sea. "Fliers!" the gal atop the crow's nest calls. 'Fliers?'

"Fliers?" Roxie looks up.

"Fliers?" Zion looks around and up also.

"Okay, plan,” Leal says, “I'll try to drop one of the launches with Mage Hand. Then we break for the other, drop it, make for land, and hope we beat whatever pursues us back to the city..." And then she glances up to see what the flyers are--hoping they're not about to ruin her day completely.

Roxie nods in agreement.

Hearing Leal, Zion nods to her and keeps an eye out for trouble

“Eddie, Zion,” Leal says, “you'll need to be the brawn and keep us under control in this wake. Roxie and I will try to fend any pursuit off as best we can."

"As you wish." Zion says quietly

Leal mutters quietly to herself, slipping out a small scroll as she glances back and forth to make sure no one's looking, and then again to the sky to try and catch a glimpse of these flyers. "I swear, even if I survive this, Dario is going to kill me if he ever finds out..."

"My mother was always terrified of the idea of me being at sea,” Roxie comments. “Now I understand why."

You can see them, a half dozen winged creatures, as the coast becomes mostly landmass with little to no discernible detail. They're faster than the ship...

Roxie hugs the wall (or whatever else is around) as she moves towards where the launches are kept.

"Godsdammit, more of those flying devils. We have to move now," Leal mutters and moves as stealthily as she can towards the launch the party intends to take, making ready to lower the other one. Once the rest of the party is in position, presuming there's no crew reaction between now and then, she reads the scroll.

Eddie was helping the sails, trying to maximize ship speed. In one hand he held his rapier.

Zion readies himself according to the plan

"So we're jumpin ship then?" Eddie said to the party as he tied off a rope.

Zion nods,"So be ready."

Eddie rubs his hands and grinned.

As they move toward their escape, Selea is there. "You do not know much about the sea, do you?" she asks them. "Flee if you like, but that boat may as well be your tomb. It's too slow. They will only dispatch you and move on." She doesn't have time to let you digest her words, and moves off. "Good luck!" she calls.

"I guess they don't mind if we leave," Roxie mutters.

"So now what?" Roxie wonders.

Some of the crew move aft, bows and crossbows at the ready, waiting for the Striga to get within range...

"Should we stay and help the crew?" Zion asks aloud.

"Hold on..." Eddie walked over and started rummaging through some stuff.

"Because staying here to be slain, and to be imprisoned and--ideally!--dumped thereafter is so much a better fate…” Leal responds without hesitation. "She had her chance to help us. I say we drop, take advantage of their cover fire to lure as many of the demons in as possible, then be gone while they're all at blade's-reach with one another."

Eddie grabs some bottles of rum and then goes and hops in the dinghy, taking out his dagger and beginning to cut it adrift.

As the Striga eventually get within range, bowstrings hum and arrows fly... Now's the time... how are you getting lifeboat from the deckrail to the water, and are you in or out of it whilst you do this… A pair of pulleys connect ropes tied to the rowboat's fore and aft. Usually, someone would crank the boat slowly down into the water.

"Help me out here boys... and girls,” Eddie says. “Come on now." He took the back of the boat in both hands, aiming to throw it in.

Eddie is working his dagger into one side of said ropes. Unless someone else does a similar thing with the opposite rope, all that will do is eventually dump whomever is in the boat into the sea.

Roxie will pull out a dagger and work on the other one.

"AHHHH....Hells Bells!" Zion yells and runs and jumps aboard with Eddie. He takes out his short bow and pulls an arrow out of his quiver, loads and aims at a stirga that's within range and fires the arrow.

"Well, that's stupid," Leal mutters darkly again as she sees how this thing works. The analytical part of her brain that never shuts up wonders what someone is supposed to do if the entire ship is on fire--sacrifice themselves to save the crew?

The striga move and try to evade the missile fire of the Red Runner's crew, sinking close to the sea's surface in an attempt to evade. One of their number isn't so lucky!

"This brings me back,” Eddie reflects, as if some sort of veteran.

The striga are within missile range of bows/xbows, this is what the crew is shooting at. They're still about 90' away at least.

Leal grimaces at the wake of the sea around the ship as it flies through the water, imagining how the party's current method of lowering the boat is going to turn out. "This is not going to go well."

"Here's a thought:” Leal suggests, “Let's let the crew attract the attention of the devils. We'll get the boat in the water, as safely as we can, and save our ammo for fending off attackers that come for us if the strigas aren't sufficiently enticed by their current dinner."

Eddie takes a dagger in hand and sends it deftly into the shoulder of striga as it swoops in! It cries out and flutters to land on the deck of the ship, eyeing Eddie with ill intent!

"...or that. Son of a man-gobbling whore," Leal mutters as a general curse. And she does the one thing she has left to do at this point--points a crossbow and tries to put something pointy in something soft.

Eddie flashes a gold tooth grinned at the striga.

Leal points, shoots, and reloads with jittering hands as her bolt hits something non-vital, trying to remain detatched and calm even as every single plan she's come up with to this point is getting fucked into a cocked hat but proper, and possibly maybe kind of succeeding at a glance?

Meanwhile, a pair of half-cut ropes are all that's holding you above the sea... and ... Roxie was still working on hers?

"Come on, ye seagull winged sissy!” Eddie goads, “I'll clip yer damn wings and toss ye in Umberlee's Embrace!"

When Eddie stopped cutting, Roxie paused as well. "Um, was this part of the plan?" then she sees the striga land and stare right at them. She casts a spell and a beautifully formed snowball appears in her hand. "Go Away!" she yells as she throws the glob of ice at the creature.

The snowball hits the striga right in the face. It stumbles back and screams in anger at the hin.

Since the striga that landed and was staring at Eddie like he was a soon to be chew toy, Zion figured that striga was close enough to shoot at with his shortbow.

With the movement abroard the launch, Zion's aim was off and the arrow flies off harmlessly. He growls at himself for missing the evil thing.

The striga you attacked looks to bear down on the party, but Selea interposes herself between the two of you! "Go!" she yells. "Or stay and fight! Find your hearts!" She wades in, and the winged devil swipes at her, but the woman is too fast!

Eddie shrugged. "Leals right, and pretty. We best be headin out."

"I don't see her as an evil person here, maybe we should join them and help fight the stirga?" Zion offers.

Eddie attempts to charge into the flank of the Striga to assist Selea, but he slips and stumbles and almost loses his sword. "Let's just do what we're doing!"

"Find our hearts?" Leal's mind is blown. Has Selea misread her that badly? There's nothing to be found, no uncertainty in her heart--she wants off this ship, and she doesn't want to be drawn and quartered in the process because someone called attention to them from the gods-damned demons! She makes a disgusted noise. "Evil or not, her crew holds no good will to us...and now I don't have a shot anyway. Let's get out of here. Someone tell me what I'm doing here."

"KILL SOMETHING!" Eddie yells.

She glances over the mechanism for lowering the boat, figures it out because her brain is good with machines, and gets out of the boat. "New plan. Zion, Roxie, stay in the boat, keep it steady when it hits the water. I'll climb down after you when it lands." And she goes to man the winch and lower the boat properly, as quickly as she can without just dropping the damn thing. She grunts and works the pulley, but she's a spindly teenage girl and the wheel is little-used and rusty. There's a screech and she cuts open her hand as something gives in the gear, and the launch suddenly plummets half the height of the boat in just a second! The catch does it's job though, and halfway to the water the boat slams to a halt!

Zion manages not to go over the side, but not so for the halfling! Into the sea she goes! Meanwhile, the strain on the half-cut ropes...

The lines snap! The rowboat falls into the water behind Roxie, nigh on top of her! Leal and Eddie have a quick choice to make! The boat, though, is now within the Hin's reach, if she can swim!

Eddie glanced at the boat as it fell into the ocean. He gave Leal a look.

Still in the boat and looking for Roxie, Zion moves to where she's at and reaches out for her to grab his hand if she can reach it.

She growls and looks over the edge of the ship, not glancing back at Eddie, and doing her best to ignore the pain in her gashed hand. She sees Roxie in the ocean, curses, and then grabs the rope and begins clambering down as quick as she can, trying to catch the boat before the waves push it too far away to get into! Bubbles rise where Roxie went under. As Roxie attempts to tread water, the speed at which she enters seems to overcome her, and she dips under the surface!

Zion and Roxie begin to trail off behind the Red Runner as they hit the water...

"Really?!” Zion sees where the bubbles are, and jumps into the water to save the halfling…

Zion disappears after the Hin into the depths of Sea of Swords...

The striga continue to attack, and the Red Runner slows as they try to fend them off.

Although Zion’s dipping under the water probably looks much more controlled than Roxie’s.

Eddie groans and then runs and dives into the sea. Eddie sees the hin struggling beneath the waves.

The boat is falling away faster than Leal expected, because of course every last thing is going to go totally wrong today. At the end of the rope, she coils her feet against the edge of the ship as best she can, then springs off into the water towards the boat... Fueled by adrenaline and worry, she swims far more nimbly to the boat than her typical athleticism would ever imply her capable. She can't quite swim fast enough to get in it yet, but then, that's not exactly her plan anyway. She gets a good grip on one edge, but then slinks down behind it--hopefully out of view of any of the strigas or viewers from the pursuing ship.

Roxie attempts to swim back up to the surface.

Once she gets settled, Leal has a better plan here, and some rope to make it happen--but for now she takes just a moment to catch her breath, spit out some water, and hope against hope that the rest of the party starts broaching the surface soon!

Roxie attempts to swim towards the boat now that she’s gotten back to the surface.

Everyone's in the water, but not everyone's in the boat. The Red Runner moves quickly away, and the other boat quickly approaches...

Zion attempts to get back to the lifeboat. Surfacing he spots the boat and starts swimming to it.

As the others approach, Leal all flags them and urges them to settle in behind the boat rather than getting in, hoping they can escape the notice of the passing vessel.

The boat is obviously empty, as you all attempt to tread water and hide behind it. That doesn't stop a striga making its way toward the Red Runner to turn in your direction and do a once over the lifeboat...

Leal floats quietly beside the launch, on the far side from the approaching vessel, reflexively making herself as small and low in the water as she can.

Zion does his best to hide with the others along the life boat

The creature sails over you, seeming distracted and not at all intent on finding anything, speeding toward the Runner. This leaves the four of you floating adrift, hiding behind the boat as the merchant marine approaches, you are pushed off to its starboard side by the wake of the ship you debarked from.

Only eyes above water, Ed is silent and relieved as the boat sails by.

Leal exhales, but only just a little, knowing they still need the other ship to fully pass them by before they're approaching safe. She stays tense, her knuckles white as they grip the edge of the launch to keep her afloat.

Roxie does her best to stay hidden and afloat until the big ships are long gone.

She tries to peek around the edge to try and get some details on the boat coming towards them--a name, a particular bit of artistry on the prow, patterns on the sails, etc. She'll duck back immediately at any sign of observation from the boat, though, absolutely prioritizing staying hidden over observation.

Zion treads the water as quietly as he can and still stay close to the liferaft also.

Eddie's holds action, comitted to being silent
You will again have to actively avoid being seen as the merchant marine vessel eventually comes to pass you (yes, fast forwarding a bit, this takes about 20 minutes in the water to happen)

Roxie maintains her hidden posture.

Leal freezes for a moment as she looks over the ship, and the as quietly as she can cranes her head back into total cover. Yeah, she wants absolutely no part of that ship, and ignores the chill of the water as best she can as she stays afloat behind the cover of the launch. She keeps an eye on her party-mates, and if any of them look to be getting a little too far out of cover, she'll try to guide them back into hiding…

Zion will keep his same roll.

There is a scream from the deck of the ship just as it passes you, and you can all see the name of the ship before another striga launches into the air from the stern. Another joins her! As the She-Devil passes you the flying creatures swoop toward you, but before they do, they transform as they hit the water! They look like *really* big fish... They hit the water and disappear beneath the surface!

Despite the distance at which they entered the water, the fins that break the surface of the sea seem to be moving toward you rather quickly!

When Roxie sees the things changing on their way to the water, Roxie fishes out a scrollcase and pulls out the contents. She recites the words written on the paper and the parchment quickly vanishes. Then something appears in the water between the party and the striga. A friendly porpoise splashes water on the party as it speeds towards the striga.

The party sees the porpoise soar through the water at the striga, then dive at one of them....

It's hard to see what's going on from above the surface of the water, but one of the fins speeding toward you seems to move offline for a moment but then continues its charge toward you...

Zion holds his action to see what happens with the ship passing by and the big fish stirgas coming at them.

"Sharks!" Eddie cries, and scrambles up into the boat.

Leal's first instinct is to say a very unladylike thing, for a number of different reasons. Then, knowing just enough about how sharks work and all too much about how she works in the water, she tries to pull herself out of the water and into the boat as well. Better to try and force them to surface than fight them in their element, and hopefully by the time anyone else on the She-Devil notices the right, they'll be too far in pursuit of the other vessel to send any more reinforcements...

Eddie at least leans against the opposite side of the dinghy to help stabilize the edge Leal one-legs and hauls herself over, eventually.

Once she rights herself in the boat, Leal glances out over the water. She doesn't have a great shot, so she sinks low against the floorboards of the boat in a defensive crouch to give herself a little cover in case any of them surface with claws or something crazy, slips the crossbow-strap off her body, and flicks off the safety catch.

As she does, the sharks are upon you! They tear into the remaining two bodies in the water!

Despite the blood in the water, Zion manages *not* to get dragged into the sea!

Meanwhile, Roxie’s new friend comes swimming over to attack the shark trying to drown Zion.

The underwater fight is, well, beyond anything you all can witness. Zion is the last one left in the water...

Seeing that he's the last one left, Zion attempts to pull himself into the life boat also! He climbs into the life boat and rights himself as best as he can and then pulls a potion out and drinks it down to stop his wound from bleeding further.

Eddie picks up the oars, and tries to make the best speed he can to get you all away from both the She-Devil as well as the sharks!

Leal starts to comment, but for once Eddie's on her same wavelength and she lets him proceed with the "get the Hells out of here" plan unaccosted. She glances over everyone, taking just a split-second to make sure no one's screaming and spurting blood to death, then rises up to pump a crossbow bolt down into the nearest shark...

The shimmering of the shark's skin gets satisfyingly obscured by a cloud of ichor the color of...well, whatever color these things bleed, Leal's not too picky at this point. She reloads quickly, chancing a glance at the She-Devil to see if they're coming about. "If there's any more oars and you're not wounded, let's get to rowing! Otherwise, try to do some damage and brace yourself in case they try to flip the boat!"

As Leal's bolt finds its mark, the shark wriggles off deep beneath the surface of the water. However, the other shark bursts from the water's surface and is transformed back into the striga, claws raking across Leal's vision!

The claw flies wide and the creature spills into the lifeboat with the rest of you!

Leal’s words are nearly cut off as the creature's claws miss blinding her by just a whisker, and she gasps as she topples backwards! "Godsdammit!"

Roxie pulls out another scroll and reads the words from it. As she reads the paper quickly disintegrates. The a magical orb appears in her hand and she slams it into the striga. The orb splatters on the creature's back. Dead center. It screams and writhes about, the odd... organ for a head making otherworldly noises of agony.

He grabs his mace and bashes the stirga in whatever looks like the head to finish it off.

Eddie stops rowing, stands, and draws his sword, ready to run the prone striga through...

Zion’s swing is true and he hits the striga, but the damn creature appears to be alive still!

"Keep rowing! We need to get out of here!" Leal says as she drops the crossbow and slides to flank with Zion as she draws her rod to bludgeon the thing--that head-organ-looking thing makes a pretty good target...

As you all attempt to destroy the striga in your rowboat, the other bursts from the surface of the water in its native form, and attempts to gut the first one of you it sees!

It misses Eddie and slips, rather awkwardly, back into the sea with a splash!

Roxie does a repeat performance. She pulls out another scroll, recites its incantation, and conjures up another glowing orb of magic acid. She hurls it at the striga in the boat. Her friendly porpoise friend is nowhere to be found.

The striga in the boat attempts to gain its footing...

None manage to hit it, and it swipes back in retaliation!

Leal beats ineffectually at the striga as it shifts positions, shielding the parts of it that she's actually capable of dealing damage to.

The striga misses Zion as Roxie's acid ball splatters across its chest! But it's still standing! Tough things, these striga!

Zion swings his mace at the stirga yet again! His swing hits the striga again and this time a loud thud is heard among everyone in the boat as the stirga falls over dead.

The body sizzles and pops and there's a scream from somewhere that you don't understand and the smell of sulphur, but then it's gone!

Breathing heavily, Zion says, "It's about time it dropped dead!"

Eddie lays his sword across his lap and starts rowing again...

"No kidding," Roxie says.

Leal snarls as the creature vanishes, her exhilaration at the creature's death dashed as she realizes their evidence of what's happening here went with its corpse. Then she whirls around, her wooden rod held before her as she looks to see where the other creature is at, waiting for it to resurface.

A pair of hands reach up from the surface of the water, grabbing the edge of the boat and pulling the edge down to the water!

"This is going to sound really stupid, but...does anyone have a--" Leal’s question is interrupted as the other striga tugs at the boat!

Leal can smack the hands, meanwhile the striga is making an attempt to capsize the boat…

Leal's efforts cause the creature to lose its grip and it disappears under the water again.

Roxie pulls out her dagger and has the same idea as Leal. She readies an attack in case the striga reappears... or its hands reappear on the edge of the boat.

"Oghma's bloody teats, already! I *was* going to ask if anyone had a godsdamned sap. I think I just re-evaluated that particular priority." Leal’s breathing heavily, clearly just about fed up with how this day has gone.

Leal waits, and Zion waits, but it's about a hundred feet away that the creature bursts from the water and into the air once more, back toward the She-Devil.

Zion sees the stirga and curses, it's too far for me to reach with my short bow. He drops the mace on the boat and pulls out his bow and an arrow aims and fires then!

Leal has just retrieved her crossbow when the striga surfaces, and in her shock at its sudden appearance where she absolutely didn't expect it, she aims and fires almost blindly in its direction!

Zion curses as the arrow falls too short to hit the stirga

Leal’s bolt sails *through* one of the creatures wings, and it dips with a shriek, skimming the surface of the water, turning to cast Leal a heated glance before it speeds out of range!

Eddie is rowing furiously, now.

Roxie drops her dagger and shows how quickly a halfling can fire a sling.

Leal’s look is equally heated, as much frustration as anger, and she furiously reloads and fires another shot even as her target rapidly fades into the distance!

"Shar's dark luck! Can't we get away from them foul smelling devils!" Zion mutters heatedly!

"Ye wanna row?" Eddie bellows.

Leal’s clearly much too angry to be shooting straight, and her remaining shots careen off wildly as the striga flies back towards its ship. She snarls again as she clutches her crossbow to her chest in white-knuckled rage, turning away to see how far they are from shore.

Zion shoulders his bow on himself and then assists Eddie with rowing

You watch, and see, eventually the striga makes it back to the ship. You also see, despite the dark, three forms leave the ship in flight and head in your direction! Hopefully you can make the docks before they get to you... The dip across the surface of the water, the moonlight making them seemingly disappear... But make no mistake, you are now being hunted...

"...of course that just happened," Leal says as she watches the proceedings. There's only one set of oars, so she reloads and thinks lightweight thoughts until they make landfall.

You make the docks with no sign of your pursuers, nor anyone seeming to think anything's amiss, but you know, you all know, they're following you.
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby Ian » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:31 pm

An Interlude

Leál had to be careful how she approached this.

Oh, not because she was being hunted, precisely. Certainly, that was a problem. Not that thirty seconds of looking at the business end of her crossbow in the choppy wake of a boat should have made her easy to find, but she likewise hadn't exactly kept a low profile since entering her new guardian's employ. And if the Eltorchuls were involved in this "Shrieking Violet Society," they probably had enough society connections to put two and two together in associating her appearance with the Ruldegosts' new tutor and house mage.

No, the issue was in explaining the matter to Lord Ruldegost. He and his men needed to know what could come looking for her, in such a way that they could handle it if necessary (and on that account she had no reservations that they could handle themselves, given sufficient information). Further, he had access to resources, knowledge, and connections that she didn't, and that could be helpful in resolving the current issue. But that was also a double-edged sword: Explain too little, and he'd be unprepared and unable to help, but explain too much, and he'd decide it would be easier to just confine her to the estate until it all "blew over." And he certainly had the emotional leverage to make her comply--

Leál shook her head. Her brother would not approve of this course of action at all, but dwelling on that (whether at Lord Ruldegost's instigation or her own) would only muddle things further.

So, back to the tasks at hand. She still needed to chat with the Watch, pass them her findings and ascertain through them if the Navy had looked into the Red Runner and the She-Devil, and if there was any obvious sign of a battle and how it went. She needed to check the Docks and see what registration records they might have on either--though hopefully Roxie and the others had done that already, as they likely had better connections with which to do so. She needed to look further into the lore of this Shrieking Violet Society, and any similar all-female fiend-cults. She needed to take another crack at finding lore on the Striga, especially since she could now actually speak with some experience to the masters at Blackstaff Tower about them. She needed to buy some new kit--a nice wand with which to see how any attackers would like a belly full of lightning or fire, a sap to "gather evidence" with, and perhaps some holy water to flick at anyone she suspects of being a striga in disguise...

...but first, she needed to present herself to Lord Ruldegost, and hope everything else wasn't rendered moot. Leál fetched her notebook and headed towards the den where her guardian was waiting for her, hoping he was in an open-minded mood tonight.
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:04 pm

The Watch had created no little rumpus over the escape of Bete, a.k.a. Selea of the Bloodred Crown. If any of the well-known adventuring troupe's members remained in the city, they had surely been put to question by now, what with word of the Red Runner successfully effecting the fugitive's escape. It was a hot topic in the city, and the broadsheets even ran flavorful versions of the events on their front pages. The fugitive had escaped. Something supernatural was involved. Was it connected to other rumors of demonic activity? House Eltorchul was involved, as well, but protested any and all inquiries with both prejudice and vigor. The inquest into the nature of Selea's escape was still ongoing. Rumors spread of insider involvement. Fingers had been pointed. The Waterdhavian Navy was actively searching for either vessel, less because of the seriousness of the crime, more because of the attention the entire series of events had garnered along the Sword Coast. Was the Crown of the North now weak? To allow such shenanigans...

For the time being, though, the names of any known Waterdhavian citizens involved had been noticeably kept out of the papers, but the information was out there for those who knew how to look for it. Information was always out there for those who knew how to look for it. And so it was a cadre of letters arrived for the parties Leal, Roxie, Zion, and Eddie, written in an archaic, flowing script, individually addressed, and reading as follows:

Mysterious Letter wrote:Good day. I am writing to beseech your aid in this most dire circumstance. We must meet. My House is not safe. I cannot say much more than this: The Swords Rest!

Ever watchful,

Lord Velnias Eltorchul

The letter is sealed in a traditional fashion, with the mark left by a signet ring stamped into the wax sealing the envelope and next to the signature.
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Sat May 14, 2016 2:02 pm

And so it was the party decided to head to the Sword's Rest, a dive bar in the South Ward.

The large red headed Arelliano made his way cautiously into the Sword's Rest Tavern He had never been to this part of the city.

Roxie was out and about exploring tonight.

Arelliano took a cautious view of the place as he entered and seeing no obvious or immediate threats moved inside and found a place to sit down with his back against a wall, where he had a clear view of all the exits.

Zion read the letter again and then neatly folding it back up and putting it in his pocket. He casually walked along the ridge of the roof he was on, and then took his time climbing down the building to the street. From there he walked to the door of the Sword's Rest and entered.

Roxie wandered into the Sword's Rest. It was high time she acted like a hin and discovered the fine eateries of another part of town. She also looked around for any familiar faces while she was here.

The large Arelliano noted the hin's entrance.

The Sword's Rest was the epitome of the Dive Bar. The straw-covered floors were damp with beer and possibly vomit and that might be blood over there. Most of the patrons were drunk and only half of them eyeballed the three of you as you enter.

Arelliano waited for a barmaid to pass before quietly getting her attention, ordering an ale and whatever the daily special was.

The food looked to consist mostly of Mystery Meat Stew and fish heads. Did you mention the smell? Not so nice.

Arelliano elected to forgo the fish heads, but Ale and Mystery Meat in this place were still a good deal cheaper than a glass of water in the North Ward...

It was a shaggy-legged Hin lass that took Arelliano's order with a wink and a gap-toothed smile. Or... a missing-toothed smile.

Inside the Sword's Rest, he glances around and finding Roxie, he headed to her,"Well met, Roxie. Good to see you, and did you ever receive a mysterious letter?"

Once Roxie was in the place, she had to catch her breath. This was not one of finer dining establishments, even for the south ward. She's happy to find Zion is also here. "Hi there." She pats a pocket. "Yes I did."

"This isn't the greatest place that I would pick to meet, I mean really?" Zion says as he looks the patrons over suspicious like.

The big man waved a hand in greeting to Roxie whom he had met once, briefly.

"'Tis if you're hiding from something," chimes the shaggy Hin as she half spills Arelliano's plate setting it down. Not too versed in table-waiting, apparently. "Whoopsie," she giggles but does nothing as she sloshes a bit of ale about setting his mug down, too.

The big man supressed a scowl as the hin wasted food.

"Hey there's a table. Let's at least get to where we're not walking on the gross floor." She motions towards Areliano's table.

If you call adding to the table's many-layered patina, wasting, that is...

Looking at the Hin waitress, " She's not very good at her job is she?" Zion says as he follows Roxie.

"Apparently not,” Roxie replies.

Arelliano reached out and stabalized his food and drink and paid for the drink along with a generous tip that came with a suggestion. "Let that be the last of food or drink that gets spilled at this table tonight lass."

As Zion and Roxie make their way to Arelliano's table, she waits politely by, swinging back and forth and shoo-ing flies with her serving platter. "What kin aye git ye's?" she asks, ignoring Arelliano and his coin, "'Spectin' more comp'ny are ye's?"

The tip quickly disappared back into Arelliano's purse or wherever he kept his money.

"Maybe,” Roxie replies, “I think I'll just have a drink for now."

If the barmaid noticed, it doesn't show. No, instead she seems to be looking beyond Roxie and Zion as if expecting someone else. It's a brief look, but noticed by you three. At Roxie's comment, her face seemed to brighten just a bit, "Oh, goodie!" She glances at Arelliano, "I'd 'ardly call it 'food' luv," she grins, then turns and waits on Zion.

"Ahhhhh, I'll just have an Ale for now." Zion says as he sits down by Roxie,"And hopefully we'll have more company to join us."

"Two grogs 'tis," she shuttles off.

Zion glances at the stranger and then looking at Roxie,"Do you know this one?"

The large red head addressed Zion directly. "I am Arelliano of Luskan."

"We've met before," Roxie answers.

"AH, I see." Zion frowns a bit, but then smiles,"Zion a Waterhavian, since that's where I've been for 100 winters or so." He introduces himself to Arelliano.

Arelliano shrugged as he ate the stew. "If it's rat meat in the stew I can't taste it. Anything fare above uncooked rat, rates as food for me. But standards are pretty low on that front."

Zion frowns some more as he watches Arelliano eat the mystery stew.

He gave an upnod to Zion. "Well met Zion of Waterdeep."

"I think I'll take your word for it on the stew,” Roxie says.

The stew is mostly salty. At least they could afford to cover up whatever it was they served. It crunches in odd places, though...

"The ale's watered down,” Arelliano comments, “but that's probably a blessing."

The hairy-legged hin returns shortly with a pair of mugs and slops them on the table that she can barely reach. "Aight then, where's ye friends eh?" Sort of an odd question, you note.

Arelliano continued to eat the stew noting periodically that he had definitely had worse and further noted that it beat an empty stomach any day of a ride."

"Not sure yet. We're waiting to see if they show." Roxie tells the hin.

Zion, looking at the Hin," Uhm, why do you ask?"

Arelliano looked perplexed.

The barmaid blinks, "Cuz ye sez 'maybe.' Why do you ax?"

"Huh," Arelliano said intelligently.

Roxie just looks confused.
"Listen," the hin says, her voice notably changing - well, her accent at least. She leans in and says in a low voice, "Your dilatory manner has left me with little time," she almost hisses. "Meet me outside in fifteen minutes. Streetside - west!" She rushes off and disappears into the crowd.

"Really?” Zion says, “What do you two think of that Hin?"

Well, there it was. Fifteen minutes was ample time to finish a meal and a drink. How polite of this one. How considerate.

"It has to be better than hanging out in here,” Roxie says.

He nods,"I agree,I guess we go out then."

Arelliano still looked confused but he could finish the meal and afford some time to find out what was going on. So he worked on finishing his meal and drink and preparing to meet the strange hin.

Roxie finished her drink, whatever it was, and left a few coins for their server before heading out with the others.

Zion didn't touch his drink, but he set a few coins on the table to pay for the drink. He proceeds to follow Roxie out.

The time goes by quick enough and you head out and to where directed, where the Hin is nowhere to be found.

"There she is," Roxie whispers. "At the edge of the alley."

Zion looks to where Roxie says. “Shall we go to her and find out what's going on?" , and he start to walk towards the Hin.

Once seen, the hin moves off toward the seaside edge of the South Ward. She is quick and adept at staying in the shadows, and not more than once you lose her and have to wait until she makes herself seen again, irritated more each time. Eventually, you come to a staircase that leads down into the southern docks and a doorway at the end of a dark hall.

"Playing follow the leader here?" Zion mumbles quietly to himself

"Come hither," she whispers, opening the door to a faint light within and stepping in herself.

Roxie isn't known for being shy. She peeks in the doorway.

It leads to a tunnel where torches line the sconces. Beyond the corner that lies a few feet beyond the door, she cannot see.

As the three enter, Roxie may not notice, but Zion does: As they pass the torches, there is no heat emanating from them. There is light, to be sure, but no heat whatsoever. The bend bodes no ill for them either, and the hin steps quickly as you follow her. "Close the door behind you!" comes a voice in Arelliano's ear.

Roxie moves in and looks around the corner.

More tunnel. And stairs down. The she-hin is already descending them.

Since they're already here, they may as well keep going. Roxie follows along down the tunnel.

Arelliano's eyes go to one side of his head, but he does as instructed, even setting the bolt.

Zion is right behind her and tense is the only word that can describe what's going on.

Roxie's just curious. A tunnel in Waterdeep. This is exciting. She does take a moment to pause along the way and cast a spell on herself. Just in case there's more excitement down below.

It's not long before the tunnels twists and turns have even the best at direction finding at least pausing to get their bearings. Then there's a circular stair that goes straight down. Far enough that you might even be in some part of Undermountain, if any of you know of such things. At the bottom, you come through a hall that is eerily silent.

Zion waits patiently as she casts her spell, and then follows

By eerily silent, all sound is gone. The noise of your footfalls, your gear, your breathing... gone. The hin traipses right through it.

Seeing the stairs, Zion frowns.

Eventually, awkwardly, you come out of the other side of it, and the noise you all make seems starkly noticeable now.

Roxie seems to be much happier when she can hear herself again.

Then, there is a double door. The hin makes some motion with her hand and it is open to you. Beyond looks like some sort of habitable space.... a house? Half a mile underground? It boggles the mind a bit.

"I don't like this.", he mutters darkly from behind Roxie, as he follows her.

"I suppose we probably should have been marking the way in, so we can follow it out."

There were no off-shooting passages or anything like that, at least that you saw. So, for all intents and purposes, there is only one way out: Back the way you came.

Looking ahead, Zion says, "Well we have gone this far,we might as well continue."

Arelliano nodded, "May as well continue."

Roxie nods and walks up to the house.

As you cross the threshould you can't help but look up. It's the night sky! You've obviously transcended some sort of spatial boundary.

Not knowing what to expect, Zion grabs his Heavy Mace and unhooks it from his belt. He then proceeds towards the house along with Roxie and Arelliano

"Pretty," Roxie says as she looks up at the "sky".

The hin does not seem to notice. The grounds are sprawling, and look as if any noble house would. Nothing living surrounds the place - there are no trees or plants - only stones and sculpture. She passes through the exterior foyer and up into the abode through the front door, glancing only briefly over her shoulder to make sure you are following. Inside, you move through several rooms before coming into a large quadrangle open to the night sky, where the hin promptly turns upon you... And transforms, suddenly! Now, before you stands a statuesque, elderly man. His white hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail. His robes are darkest blue, and the symbol of his house is stitched on the silver edge of his sleeves. He bears a staff of what looks like obsidian, with a diamond-shaped stone at the top. This staff strikes the ground when he speaks, "Fools!" he bellows. "All of you, fools!" He sighs in exasperation.

Startled by seeing the sweet open sky, Zion gathers his wits and continues to follow Rox and Arel.

"It's nice to meet you, too." Roxie says sweetly.

"I knew we should of waited for Leal and Eddie to be with us!" Zion snarls and he takes a stance prepared to fight.

"No questions?" the pony-tailed man continues. "Amateurs!" He walks around you all, pointing at you with the bottom of his staff. "Are those even magical?" he asks, "Do you bear any power whatsoever?" He seems supremely disappointed. "What magic there is is so faint..." He looks up at the sky and shakes his staff. "Ever my tormentor!" he cries. "How did you come to this?" He asks them, "How did *YOU* come to the attention of the Duchess of HELL?" His voice is quavering with frustration. He turns his back to you, muttering.

Arelliano raised an eyebrow at the man's exasperation.

Roxie crosses her arms and watches the strange man ranting in front of them.

"What? No foul-smelling devil to attack us?" Zion looks around, really baffled

"Sorry to disappoint,” Roxie replies, “It doesn't take much apparently to earn the duchess' ire."

The man spins suddenly. "I could kill you all with a snap of my fingers! This could have been a trap! What were you thinking?!" He slumps into a nearby chair next to a table upon which sits a round globe. "Why did I even bring you here?" he asks rhetorically, quietly.

“If you're so powerful,” Roxie counters, “why don't you take on the Duchess yourself?"

His eyebrows would fly from his face if they could, they rise so high. He gives her an incredulous look. "You know nothing!" he hisses. "I was her slave... her pet... her ...." he shudders. "I only barely escaped her clutches, and it was because of my amulet! But it was stolen from me by her minions! Now, she will find me. It is only a matter of time. She will find me. And then she will open the Gate." He seems exhausted in his anxiety. Moreso than anyone you've known, or are likely to know.

Since there appears to be no fight, Zion hooks his mace back on his belt and then crosses his arms , nodding in agreement with Roxie's question

"I must get it back!" He says suddenly, rising and pointing his staff at Roxie. "You must help me. She stole it, you see? Not once, but twice! First from I, then from She!"

“Alright, so you are disappointed,” Arelliano begins, “I can understand that, not having been a part of whatever this matter was previously, I'll ask the obvious, how can we help resolve this?"

“The amulet must be returned to me," he explains. "It keeps me safe from her. It keeps all of Faerun safe."

Roxie takes a moment to decipher what he said. "So, you need us to get the amulet back from... her minions?"

The pony-tailed man sits again, setting his staff against the table and tracing a finger over the floating globe, which comes alive at his touch with faint light from lines about its surface.

Arelliano nodded once more, "So the fix is simple, we collect that amulet and return it to you. Do you have a way of tracking it?"

The man turns to Roxie after muttering something about his lot in life, saying, "No, you idiot. You have to get it from the girl who stole it from them." He looks to Arelliano. "That is the entire point of the artifact's power, my simple friend: It is untrackable. As is its wearer."

"What's the girl's name?" Zion asked.

"She pretended to be one of them, indeed," he says, "But she was not. She was Bloodred Crown through and through."

"So how does you having the artifact help the rest of the world?” Roxie asks, “What is it you do?"

He examines the globe for a long moment, eyeing one area in particular. "What's this?" he wonders alound. "There she is!" then he slumps back in his chair. "Oh, no." He begins openly weeping.

"Where?" Arelliano said quietly, "Perhaps there is still time."

"She no longer has it!" he says, pounding his fist on the table. It causes the light in the globe to flicker momentarily. "Look, here. All of you. Know what I know." He motions them around the table.

Arelliano gathers around.

Roxie steps in closer to the table.

Zion comes closer to see

"The Duchess of Hell, of Domination, the Lady Hadriel," he begins. "She is a devil of immense power. She takes mortal form here on Faerun." He opens a book written in Infernal, if anyone recognizes it, and points out a particular individual. "She seeks to supplant her late lover and rule her own layer of Hell. Her ambition knows no bounds. The Mistress of Pain," he continues, "Has carved up the world of Toril with her machinations. The last of which culminate here, in the City of Splendors. Three hundred years ago, she sought me out, foolish and prideful noble that I was, and since has made me her slave. For 300 years I have looked for the Final Anchor for the Diabolic Seal: That which will open a gate unlike any other into the 9th circle of Hell and Asmodeus." He whispers this all, awed by the ambition and the potential consequences of this ... thing.

"Selune's Tears." Zion whispers as he listens and watches

The large man who called himself Arelliano had gone stoic.

"She seeks the Dragonward Mythal and its power. She seeks this not because of its affect on the Dragons, but because of its own nature. It is beyond the mortal and pushes into almost every plane of existence.” The man sighs and traces the lines of this so-called "Seal" on the globe. It is all set in a perfect reverse-pentagram, except for the final point, which is centered in Waterdeep. "If she succeeds, all of Faerun, if not Toril itself, will fall to Asmodeus." For those wondering at his age, he is indeed human. The wizard cap of House Eltorchul set on his sleeves. "I pray thee," he says, turning to them, "Find the Greenstone Amulet, and return it to me, that I remain hidden from her." He sighs, "For even in death, she will find me."

"So what does this amulet look like, and who has it now?" Roxie asks.

"More importantly,” Arelliano adds, “how do you recommend we go about locating the amulet."

"That too,” Roxie nods.

"I ... " he looks almost defeated now, "I cannot say who has it." He turns back to the globe. Along what you all recognize as the Sea of Swords he points to a faint light. "There she is, the Thief," he says. His divination powers were awe-inspiring. "But that I can see her, means she no longer has it." He continues, "I dare not scry the She-Devil, as She will know. But there is your friend, the sailor," another light, along the Dock Ward.

Zion's quiet, soaking in all that he's heard. He names off several other individuals, members of the Bloodred Crown, as he says, members of the Watch.

"So we start with the Thief,” Arelliano suggests. "Try to find out when she lost the amulet."

"And your own personal Watch-woman..." he begins, then pauses suddenly. "Wait." He causes the globe to grow larger, but the edges fade out like in almost a holographic fashion. "Wait!" he breathes.

"And whom she lost or sold it to,” Arelliano continues...

"She's gone!" the man almost laughs. "Oh you cunning thing!" he smiles. He grabs Roxie by the shoulders and almost shakes her. "She has it! Your friend!"

"Leal has the amulet?" Zion asks.

He slumps down in realization for a moment, but then says suddenly, "Or she's dead."

"Well that's easy enough then," Roxie says.

Arelliano raised and eyebrow at that.

"Let's find Leal and go from there then!" Zion suggests.

"Agreed,” says Roxie.

But where to start? They would assemble again a short time later...

Arelliano was seated at a table with his back to the wall facing the entrance to the Angry Coxswain. He had an Ale and some chowder and was awaiting the arrival of those that he had met recently.

Roxie steps into the Coxswain, grateful the place isn't as bad as the last place she'd met up with Arelliano.

Arelliano thought the food at this place was considerably better and only marginally more expensive. He nodded to Roxie as she entered the place

Roxie scurries over and climbs up on a chair at the table. "Hi there."

The barmaid was quick to attend the halfling as she seated herself with the large man.

Arelliano nodded. "So...I don't know much about what you and your friends have been up to but, I do know that I have a healthy distrust of finger wigglers. So...I'm not sure I buy that cock-n-bull story yer man was shovelin the other night."

"Ummm....." Roxie would hide her spellbook if it wasn't already tucked away out of sight. "I have no idea what he's up to. At least not beyond what you know. We need to find Leal. If she has the item he's looking for, she might know more about what his story is."

Arelliano nodded, "Alright...are you expecting trouble if she finds out we think she might have the ...item?"

"We've run into enough weird stuff that I expect trouble regardless," Roxie replies. "So far every time we've tried to do the right thing we've ended up helping the bad guys, or ended up caught in some extra-planar feud between factions."

Arelliano grimaced. "That doesn't really answer my question."

"I don't think she'd cause any trouble, if that's what you're asking.” Roxie answers, “She's a friend."

Arelliano nodded. "Perfect, then we are probably being set up by someone to bring trouble to your friend. But, we won't know who, or why unless we try to find her and smoke out the trouble makers."

"Exactly," Roxie agrees.

Meanwhile, Leal searches the Market for a specific thing, something that may help her be less... conspicuous considering her current circumstance...

The Market is busy as usual, traffic everywhere, people, horses, wagons, people. Were people mentioned?

The sister of a merchantman, Leal is well-used to traversing crowded markets. Keep a close eye on your purse--and in this case your necklace--and mind the gaps. Even still, she's never quite gotten used to the bustle, and Waterdeep's is definitely larger than the one in Baldur's Gate. She starts off by seeking out some of the shops she's done business with before, those she knows with friendly shopkeeps that, if they don't have what she needs, might at least be able to point her in the right direction.

It's not an easy thing, apparently, what she seeks. As she gets recommendations from those she does know, she ends up outside a rather zealous-looking shop, signs forbidding magic wielders within and the like. There don't seem to be any patrons within. And the signage looks distinctly dwarven.

Hm. That seems like asking for trouble, honestly, and going somewhere her kind explicitly aren't wanted doesn't seem like a great way to stay subtle or inconspicuous about this. She puts it on her list to circle back around to if she must, but decides to keep looking and asking around for now.

She spots something.

Godsdammit. For an item that at least in theory is supposed to keep her from getting tracked, this amulet is shit at it. Then again, it's the age-old conundrum: sufficiently powerful magic often still doesn't beat good old-fashioned footwork. In this case unfortunately that's not really helping her. She stays on her guard, resolving to do a much quicker than anticipated sweep back through the Market to see if she can find an alternative to the dwarven shop before coming back.

Ultimately, what she's looking for can certainly be done. But finding someone who has it readily available seems to be proving difficult.

She wonders: Is it an issue of money, or physical stock? She's willing to pay a bit of a premium if that makes any difference, though she inwardly figures it probably won't. Interestingly enough, she finds the item at an apothecary, ready for sale. Apparently, the old proprietor makes them for use against certain "chemical concoctions," as he calls them.

The apothecary actually has entire lead-lined outfits. If she talks to him long enough, he begins blathering about the old adage and turning lead into gold.

Seeing as how it looks like Leal has found what she's looking for, her friends begin the search for her...

“The bottom line...” Arelliano continues, “we need to find her. Where is the best place to look?"

"I'm trying to remember which guild she works for,” Roxie considers.

"Didn't his high muckety muck say she was a member of the Watch?" Arelliano asks.

"That might be it,” Roxie replies, “At least she was going to report to them I think. We could check there."

"The Wizard named several members of the Bloodred Crown," Arelliano continues. "Said she was a member of you know what that is? We should go to the spot where the Wizard says she was last. Look around and maybe ask around."

The big man finished his meal and left enough coin to pay for it.

"That's a start,” Roxie says, “And I think the Bloodred Crown is an adventuring group."

Arelliano stood to go. "She knows, you not me, so you should probably do most of the talking and if anyone gets outta line, I can...remind them where the line is again."

Roxie giggles. "Yup."

Arelliano motions towards the door. "After you."

Roxie heads towards the door.

As you exit the 'Swain and into the Dock Ward, where are you headed? Well, wherever you're headed, the pair of you spot Zion.

Roxie sees Zion just as they're on their way out the door. "Zion, come with us."

Hearing Roxie, Zion heads towards her and follows Roxie and Arelliano.

Roxie walks to the location they were shown the other night in the scrying.

This happens to be in the Sea Ward. Anyone knowing the area... does anyone know the area? Well, as for most Waterdhavians, All Roads Lead Through the Market, as the saying goes, so up along the coast and into the Sea Ward will probably be the best route.

Roxie may not be very familiar with most of the Sea Ward, but she does know the Market. Who doesn't, right? So she leads the group there.

Zion was content to follow for now to see what would happen next.

Arelliano does his best to remain inconspicuous and generally fails as he is 6' 7" and nearly 300 lbs following the tiny Roxie.

The Market is busy as usual, the traffic horrible and making everything slow-moving. It seems to be a bit better if you walk closer to the buildings.

You continue through the crowd, passing an apothecary.

Roxie dodges the bigger folks and sticks closer to the side of the street with less traffic.

Zion grumbles,"Too bad we can't travel on the rooftops, less traffic and we can move quicker,” as he weaves around the people, following Roxie.

Inside the apothecary, it's just as she's finished paying that Leal hears the bell at the door. The shop is full of alchemicals and reagents, roots, plants, and all sorts of strange mixing devices, beakers, and other scientific equipment. There are approximately 4 aisles that run horizontally between the front door and the back counter, where she stands now. There is a clear view.

Leal had found the talk interesting, though it would be moreso if she wasn't in such a hurry to get back to the protection of the Villa. She indulges him in the procurement of both a mantle and a lead-lined box, and dons her new mantle even as she glances towards the door.

Outside, Arelliano stops in his tracks and nods in the direction of the Apothecary. "That place is about to get robbed."

Roxie pauses, "Do you see.... Oh," she turns and looks. And does what every paranoid tiny wizard does. She casts Mage Armor on her self, then tried to get closer to the danger.

"Either that,” Arelliano considers, “or someone inside is about to get murdered. Or something similarly unpleasant."

"Let's go," Roxie hisses and runs that way.

Leal sees that a pair of hooded figures have entered the place. The shelving is barely at her eye level, as she notes now the height of the proprietor. Through the warbling of the glass she can see the one closing the door. Whoever it is just bolted the door.

Leal's mind begins working ...well, shit. It's not as though anyone willing to kill her for this thing would be unwilling to add a doddering old alchemist to the list. This is bad. Can they see her from here? And does it look like there's a back door?

They seem to be pretending at browsing. Confident, it would seem. She can't tell if there's a back door - looks like a HUGE stockroom behind the place. The proprietor is already sidling over to their side of the store, greeting them. There are mirrors for watching for shoplifters, she notices. They do not seem to have seen her yet.

Leal figures even if she could make the front door, the hooded figures won't put themselves in a position where they can't see her getting there, and she probably can't work the bolt faster than they can slip up and shank her. She slinks down just a little to keep herself obscured as much as possible from the view of the figures, trying to use the mirrors to keep an eye on them while she eyes the storeroom and her ability to get there unseen.

Leal could be mistaken - but it does look like both Roxie and Zion outside on the street! With some mountain of a man as well.


Zion follows Roxie with a frown,"What's going on?" Not knowing what the problem is at hand he just follows

Arelliano raised an eyebrow at Roxie's reaction. He wasn't exactly the good samaritan type but, rewards can be gleaned from do gooder actions. "A pair of cloaked fellows just entered that apothecary and locked the door behind themselves. While the Open sign is still showing."

"Really?" Zion asks. Now understanding, he seems interested now, "So are we going to do something about it?"

Roxie will.

The shop sits slightly above the street like much of the market. There is a small stair up to the front door. Do you ascend?

Roxie walks up the stairs and attempts to open the door. The sign does say "Open" after all.

The door shudders - locked and bolted from the other side.

Inside, one of the hoods turns briefly at the front door, but continues to stand near it, pacing back and forth.

Zion follows right behind Roxie, to assist in any manner

Roxie knocks. "Hello, I'm here."

Zion looks at the shop to see if there any other way in.

Arelliano takes a moment to examine the door and the lock.

"Hold on, there's a window above. I'm going to climb up there and get in,” and he then does that.

"That will take too long,” Arelliano says, as Zion climbs up, “Stand aside."

Roxie looks around to see if there's another way in to the place. Then hearing Arelliano, she steps aside.

Already climbing up and at the windows, Zion says, "And they're locked too!" He looks inside to see anything.

And the Large barbarian takes a few steps back to gets a running start at the door getting a surprising burst of speed and strength as he does so...

Looking below him, Zion watches the large man do his thing.

Inside, as she whispers her incantation Leal hears a gurgle behind her. Turning, she watches the apothecary fall to the floor, throat slit. Behind him stands a hooded figure with a covering over the bottom half of its face. The eyes, though, seem to laugh...

Arelliano grunts as the door shudders but does not give.

Seeing the great Arelliano go at the door, he waits a second, deciding whether to jump down to enter and join the fun.

Leal's hand goes to her mouth involuntarily, stifling a gasp. Oghma's burning books! She can't wait on Roxie and Co., if that was even them outside, and moves to slip as quietly as she can towards the storeroom, fumbling for a scroll in the pouch on her hip as she moves.

Arelliano is brought up short by the door and grimaces as he prepares to take another shot at breaking it down.

Roxie winces as the door manages to withstand the hit from Arelliano.

This time, Arelliano gives a lot more than he did previously, and the bottom hinge comes loose! But not enough for him to squeeze through!

Arelliano takes a moment to unwrap his spiked chain.

"Well if the door is breaking so can the window." Zion mumbles and he attempts to go through the window to gain entry.

As Zion resolves to enter from above, it's up to the rest of you to deal with what's going on on the ground.

The sounds of breaking glass and footsteps can be heard from above.

It's uncertain why the hells Leal didn't think of this earlier--watching the old man get his throat cut was probably a big part in that--but she suddenly realizes that she can let the party in herself. Then, telekinetically, she does exactly that--gesturing towards the door and muttering the invocation as quietly as she can (hoping the racket at the door drowns her out) before making a right twist with her wrist to pop the bolt back open. Then, using the mirrors to try and keep tabs on good hiding places, she keeps moving towards the storeroom while trying to remain concealed.

The bolt on the door slides back and then falls off. The door swings half-open.

Leal bumps one of the many tables holding glass beakers and they make the slightest tinkling and shimmer - which catches the eye of the nearest cloaked figure - the slit-the-throat guy...

After Arelliano smacked the door a couple of times really hard, Roxie lightly touches the door and it swings open. She looks inside and sees... a cloaked man with a pair of daggers in his hand, looking ready to ambush her! But he is busy listening to something someone else is saying just then...

She's there!" someone says in the back by the counter. Sounds of footfalls move toward the back, then the hooded man turns to Roxie, noticing her for the first time...

Leal curses inwardly at the noise and the response from the hooded men, and mouths silently again to Roxie, since her earlier cantrip is still active. "I'm towards the back! If you have any conjure-mist handy, toss it back here and see if your man-mountain friend will swap me!"

Being small has its advantages. Roxie slips into the room and ducks around the beginning of an aisle. Once there she launches a spell at the creep. She chants a few words of magic and a bright orange bolt of flame flies right towards the hooded guy.

He seems surprised to find a Hin behind the shattered door and hesitates before suddenly realizing he's about to be bbq'd!

That might do too, Leal thinks, unless Roxie hits something explosive. Or perhaps especially if she hits something explosive. Anything that keeps her from geting stabbed.

**FWOOSH** The hooded figure backpedals to near-falling to avoid the hin's attack! Roxie misses, however, it seems she found something amidst the mass of apothecary's mixtures that catches fire without hesitation! Imagine, fire in an alchemy shop? The first small explosion shatters the downstairs windows and some of the shelving! Glass shards are everywhere, but no one is down. It's just burning now, the apothecary's shop...

Recovering, the man before Roxie flips a dagger at her, growling in irritation!

Arelliano curses in a rather harsh and unfamiliar language. "Come this way if ye can." he bellows at Leal.

The dagger sails just past her ear, breaking a bottle of some odd green liquid behind her...

Meanwhile, throat-slitter hops the counter and flings a stiletto in Leal's direction, while his partner closes in with a needle-like sword from the middle of the shop...

The dagger draws blood, sinking into the wooden shelf behind Leal after nicking her. The wound isn't overly serious but it burns unlike others she has felt, though. Her second attacker is then upon her, trying to stab her through the middle as she is pressed practically into a corner...

This one nearly runs her through at the shoulder. "Give it up and you may live," throat slitter soothes. By the sound of his voice she can tell it is a lie.

Arelliano lets forth a battle cry that leaves people around him shuddering

The crappy thing about lead-lined cloaks? They don't do anything to protect against blades. Leal cries out as the blade strikes home, her hand clutching at her impaled shoulder, and hisses through clenched teeth. "Try the other one, it's got...bells on."

Arelliano then moves forward chain unfurled and launches his spiked chain at the guy that just attacked Leal. Rampaging through the burning shop, reagents be damned, Arelliano not only takes the legs out from the needle-bladed attacker but slams his spiked chain down upon his prone form!

Spilled things begin bubbling and sizzling about the place...

The cloaked figure's eyes nearly come out of his head as he is bashed by Arelliano, but he still breathes! (If only barely)

Roxie watches the bubbling with curiosity, and perhaps even concern.

Hearing the commotion he speeds down the stairs to engage in the fighting, and comes upon..... a bleeding Leal with a hooded figure between them, and a hulking Arelliano standing over the body of a downed enemy...

Arelliano roars in triumph as the dagger wielder goes down.

Zion leaps over the counter to join the fight!

There is another explosion.

Arelliano bellows, "ALCHEMIST FIRE IS ABOUT TO GO UP IN FLAMES!" He points in the general direction of some fire that is approaching some jugs.

That's on the wall to the left of the front door as you walk in. The whole thing is on fire. Smoke is filling the room.

Meanwhile Arelliano starts looking for another way out.

Realizing that Zion must have come from upstairs (given the crashing she heard earlier) and seeing an opportunity to escape both from brutal stabby death and chemical-burny death (and possibly death altogether, pending any surprises!), Leal works up the last bit of energy she has left. Ignoring the screaming in her shoulder, she uses the countertop as leverage to vault the obstruction, making way as fast as she can towards the promise of an exit the way Zion came.

Leal sluffs over the counter and makes her way into the storeroom and up the stairs...

Arelliano nods at that. "GO UP AND OUT! I'LL Cover the retreat"

Roxie moves farther away from the door and the liquid fire. Then in an attempt to put it out, she casts Snilloc's Snowball Swarm in the area of the flames. She attempts to set it so it doesn't actually hit the shelves with the alchemist fire vials.

Leal's eyes burn and her vision swims--loss of blood? whatever was on that dagger? maybe both!--but she staggers up the stairs, leaving a prominent blood-trail behind her, hoping she can make a window or stairway down before the alchemicals go up.

As Roxie lets her spell fly, the fire reaches the tanks of concentrated, jelly-like flame, and they explode!! The two counter each other, as Roxie's hail of snowballs absorb most of the shockwave of the blast that shatters glass and shelves alike, blowing out the front and a good portion of the wall and roof as well! Some of the fire still makes it through her impromtu snowball shield!

Clingy bits of fire stick to the three of you, singing through clothing and skin alike! The concussive force of the explosion nearly knocks you all on your bottoms.

The two attackers who remain attempt to get their bearings and put out the parts of them that are likewise on fire... Screams erupt from without.

The intense burning was something he never felt before, and it bloody burned like hell too! The force of the explosion also pushes the young spiritfolk back against the counter too.

Throat slitter eyes Arelliano warily, flinging another dagger in his direction before retreating down the aisle...

The one by the door was nearly floored by the blast. He flees into the market.

The one Arelliano smashed is now still after the blast.

Leal cries out as the building rocks, tossing her to the ground on her wounded shoulder! She curses, her face red and her eyes misting as she tries to haul herself to her feet, fumbling with bloody hand towards the potion sleeves on her belt even as she tries to keep staggering towards the now-impromptu exit rent open by the explosion.

She mutters to Roxie, continuing to communicate through her cantrip. Her rage and pain are evident in her voice. "If you can't grab one of those whoresons alive on your way out, try to grab a corpse if we left any. We need answers."

"Grab him before he can get away," Roxie calls out to Arelliano.

Arelliano follows the one heading to the door and when he gets within range launches his chain to trip the man...

Arelliano snags another killer with his chain... The man squirms in a vain attempt to escape.

"STAY DOWN!" Arelliano threatens... His quarry does not look to be cooperating

Zion follows Arelliano outside in pursuit of the hooded one, with the hooded on entangled by the chain, Zion runs up to him and subdues him... he comes up and with his mace ready to swing at him," Surrender! Stop moving." if he attacks Zion swings at him then.

Upstairs, Leal thinks for a moment she's just seeing things through the waves of heat and her own tear-clouded vision, then realizes with a snarled curse that she's not seeing anything that isn't--or wasn't--there. "Of course we're not done with those fiend-whores," she mutters through her mental link to Roxie as she regains her feet. "Mark my words," she slurs almost drunkenly to no one as she staggers towards the opening in the wall, popping the top of a vial from her potion belt, "I'll come for you yet. Just be...patient."

Roxie starts to reply, but then something in the sky catches her eye. "Not them again," she mutters. "Strigas."

"Or...not," Leal says as she sees two of the figures from across the street coming for her. Because of course not. Now she's got to get it together in a hurry. First priority: Downing that potion, otherwise she won't survive whatever happens next! Then she sends her magical whispers to Roxie again. "I think the strigas are coming for me. I don't know that I can shake them in the crowd, or that they won't tear the crowd up coming for me. I'm going next door." And with that, she flexes her newly-revitalized legs and takes off in a bound for the opening to go to the shop next door, planning to look immediately for an exit and get there as fast as she can...

Roxie motions to Leal. "We'll try to cover."

While Leal moves, she slides a rolled scroll out of her belt, a last-ditch scenario in mind in case she can't escape...

As Leal does move, striga #3 alights on the ground before her! The others swoop in, and would seem to have her! But before they can attack, there is a booming voice that echoes through the entire place!


The voice echoes in the ears of all. The crowd flees. The strigas vanish in a puff of sulphur.

Standing in the street is the old man. He makes a quick motion to them all. "Come now! Before we are found!" He dips into another nearby building, holding the door.

Arelliano is reluctant to give up his quarry, but he does not wish to leave the rest of the group with the powerful finger wiggler.

"Come! Come you all, before we are found!" He is losing his patience. "Someone help her!" He points from Arelliano to Leal, above. "Or it is all for naught!"

She whispers to Leal, "Here comes another lecture. Just you wait." She obeys and moves towards where the old man is pointing.

Growling to himself, Zion turns and goes to help Leal and Roxie escape to where the man indicated, "Let's go Arelliano, we don't have much time it seems!"

The large man covers their retreat following.

As she's carried along, still too weak to do much more, Leal fumbles further at her belt and looks to Zion, her words a bit slurred. "Who the hells is this guy? Not that I'm not grateful and all, but...really? Also, I'm pretty sure I've been poisoned, y'all might want to do something about that." With that, she falls completely unconscious.
Posts: 245
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Sat May 28, 2016 7:42 pm

It is a hurried flight into the building that seems more like a facade for an alley, which leads again into the bowels of the city. A quick glance over your shoulder, if any of you look for your pursuers, reveals the door itself has disappeared.

Roxie hurries along as fast as her little legs will go.

More long winding tunnels that at some point begin looking familiar, with the telltale, eerily silent hall before you come out once again into what looks like a manor house beneath a starlit sky.

Leal, finally rendered unconscious by acute blood poisoning during the flight, is dead weight for whomever gets stuck dragging her along for this trip to Wacky Hijinks Town.

“Whomever” is likely the big man, Arelliano.

Zion also helps with carrying Leal too, if possible.

At 6'7 and nearly 300 pounds, Arelliano just puts her over his shoulder fireman's carry style.

Seeing that Arelliano is managing with no problems, Zion resigns to let the big man do his job.

You come up to the stairs and through the main double doors. "There, put her there," the old man tells them, pointing to a velvety divan, before disappearing back outside. Chanting begins. Presently, you notice a blue colored imp that suddenly appears from ... well, nowhere, apparently. In its hand is a small vial. He sets it on the table as Arelliano sets Leal down and tries not to lose his lunch... It points from the vial to Leal and then it too, disappears, but rather than in a rush out the front door, it's in a puff of blue smoke.

Watching this all with some suspicion ,"I'm assuming the vial is for Leal, should we give it to her?" Zion wonders.

The big man bit back the sickness that follows the burst of energy he gets from the adrenaline rush of his battle ferocity.

"Yes, give it to her," the old man says, returning to the room in a huff and pointing. "It will neutralize the poison. She was poisoned eh?"

Shrugging , Zion does it anyways, "No reason for our rescuer to want her to die on us." He gently administrates the liquid to Leal.

Leal is brought from unconsciousness as Zion dribbles the contents of the liquid over her lips. It tastes like mud and black licorice.

Arelliano gives Zion a skeptical look but doesn't stop him from administering the liquid.

Leal chokes and gags slightly on it, her immediate thought upon awakening being confusion as to which flavor greeting her back to consciousness is a more unwelcome experience. She grimaces, and then frowns slightly. "Meaning no offense, friends, but by Oghma's merciful knowledge, if I'm not dying and it's not a matter of leaving me on a battlefield, please to not be shoving strange shit down my throat in the future."

“Welcome back," Roxie says wryly.

"Sorry, but this was the only thing that saved you." Zion says.

Arelliano looks Leal over for a moment.

Leal then looks around to try and figure out where in the hells they all are.

"With your permission...a bit of healing?" Arelliano addressed Leal.

The old man smiles, "I believe, young lady, that you have something belonging to me." For as fast-paced as the events have been, he seems exceedingly patient just now.

Assuming she agrees Arelliano utters a command word and touches her arm.

Her jolt back to consciousness has reminded her of the still-fresh wounds inflicted by her assassins, and she nods assent to Arelliano. Then she looks to the old man, her expression carefully neutral as the larger man jump-starts the natural healing process--her glassy-eyed look fading and aiding the neutrality of her expression as her focus returns to something other than bleeding. "That's certainly a statement that could be made. It might be meaningful if I knew who you were. I won't waste time suggesting I wasn't given something under the circumstances, but I think you'll forgive me not leaping to the unquestioning trust of a random, anonymous stranger."

"I am Velnias Eltorchul," he replies. "Once the patriarch of House Eltorchul, a long time ago. You are here, and I do owe you at least this much of an explanation." He puts his hands behind his back and paces back and forth as he speaks.

Zion frowns as he watches the old wizard, crossing his arms on his chest and listens

Roxie finds a chair to sit in and listens to the story.

"The artifact you carry," he continues, "is one of no small power. Long was I a prisoner of a Devil-who-would-be-queen until I found it. It has powers to mask the wearer from detection, from even godly means."

Velnias stops and considers his words, "Well, perhaps not all gods, but at lease the Duchess." He sighs. "She sent her minions to do what she could not: Find this old wizard. And she did, your friend, but she did not know what she stole." He shakes his head, still seeming confused a bit himself. "The wiles of a woman." He stops pacing. "You will return it to me, so that I may return to my work unhindered."

Zion still listens on, trying to understand the whole situation better.

Leal's nothing if not polite, and listens to the story as Arelliano's magic does its work and begins slowly restoring her wounds. It's...shorter than she expected. "Based on my experience so far, I can honestly say that if I have the item that matches your description, its power is somewhat overstated. That said, you've at least told me who you are, though your story leaves a fair number of blanks. What is your work, and what role does the 'artifact' play in it? Who is this Duchess--who I might assume is the same creature as the devil you mentioned previously? And what is its connection to the devils that ride on ships bearing the emblem of your house?"

"It is she," he admits. "She has infiltrated House Eltorchul, into its bones, through me. When I was under her... sway." He frowned. "Now, please, if you would...?" He holds out a hand. You all do notice his hand is shaking.

Arelliano turns towards the old man and allows his hand to slide to where his weapon rested.

Leal's voice affects all the politeness that can be mustered for someone that is, while acknowledging that the person she speaks to can probably blast her to oblivion if he gets too upset, definitely over this day's shit and is not 'feeling' the explanations she's being given. "How do we know you're not still under her sway? Your answers are vague, and you still can't bring yourself to actually identify 'her.'"

Roxie raises and eyebrow and watches.

"Not to mention,” Leal continues, “if I leave here with no answers, I'm going to get shanked in an alley without even knowing why when the same people that just came after me try again."

That causes the hand to clench and Velnias glances at Arelliano. "My familiar could destroy you all," he says through pursed lips. "If I so wanted. I have been long under the power of Hadriel, Duchess of Domnation. She has used me," he says to Leal, "as I have explained to your friends, in her attempt to close the last of the Diabolic Seal and open a continent-sized gate into the 9th Circle of Hell. I take it they haven't told you," he sniffs.

Arelliano rolls his eyes both at the bravado and at the question. "You weren't terribly forthcoming with details with us either old man."

"Seeing as they found me about two minutes before you and who I've surmised are the servants of someone who is definitely not calling herself Hadriel, no, that hadn't quite made the agenda yet." Leal sniffs in kind. Primly offended, she can do.

"Told us what?" Roxie, obviously confused.

Velnias continues, "She masqueraedes as the Lady Celindara. It is her avatar here on Toril. She rules through the power of the Shrieking Violet Society." He runs a wiry hand down his face. "It was only through sheer luck that I found that Artifact, or the blessings of Mystra," he looks up at the ceiling. "But I thought it no more than a shiny trinket. When I put it on, however?" He smiles. "I was free at last. Please return it to me." He reaches out his hand again. "I have done many things to regret under her power," he continues, "please do not ask me to do such a thing on my own."

Zion watches the wizard and and Leal, waiting for Leal to decide what's next.

“You got time to answer her questions old man...especially if your familiar can destroy us all at your command,” Arelliano notes. “Take the time."

Leal sighs, looking at the man for a long, penetrating moment. She does not want to say what she's going to say next, and it's evident on her face. "I would ask something of you first. It doesn't exactly seem like I have much choice here anyway, so I will give you what you seek. In return, I request your aid in avoiding the whole shanking-in-an-alley thing I mentioned earlier. Whether I have the wretched thing or not, Celindara must be disposed of as a threat if I'm ever going to sleep peacefully again, and if I can't then I have to think I'm better taking my chances with the bauble."

"I... don't... have... time," Velnias says very slowly. "Even now I can feel her scrying, looking for me. It is only because of the volatile nature of this place that she has not found me yet. But it is only a matter of time." To Leal, he says, "She is only looking for you to make sure I do not get my hands on that artifact again," he replies. "And that is only ever been my aim. To stop her. You have my word."

"So if we give you the thing back, you'll help us against her?" Roxie asks.

"Whatever you decide Leal, I'm with you." Zion waits to see what happens next.

Velnias looks as if he would smile, then he goes utterly white. "Too late!" he whispers. He turns and rushes from the room! "Get them out of here, Vxalxi!" he cries. Suddenly the residence shudders. The front doors don't fly open, they are blown open!

Thankfully Leal wounds have finished healing, and the yell interrupts her train of thought just as she was about to fish out the artifact Velnias was asking after--giving her enough time to nimbly dodge any falling or flying debris.

"This way!" the flying blue imp shouts at you, moving toward a statue at the bottom of a staircase, which it begins to ascend. You can hear the bellowing voice of Velnias outside. "I banish thee, Cornugon!" There is a roar that causes your ears to ring from outside, then brief silence, then more sounds of things you probably don't want to hang around waiting for!

Roxie bravely does as she's told and follows the imp's instructions. Because what could possibly go wrong? And she probably doesn't have anything to stop whatever just came in through the main doors.

As Leal recovers from dodging impromptu missiles, she does something she should have done ten minutes ago and begins looking around for another exit--which the imp helpfully provides! Hanging around waiting is absolutely not on her agenda of things to do today, and she sprints after Roxie and the imp.

Arelliano holds long enough for Zion to follow, so that if he has to, he can provide a delaying action. "GO!" he yells to Zion.

Not liking this at all Zion turns and follows the Imp and the others.

Arelliano is right behind Zion although he does unfurl his spiked chain while retreating as quickly as he can up the stairs.

You all scamper up the stairs after the imp, who gesticulates directions wildly and pops in and out of existence along the way as you run down several hallways. As you do, you see perhaps a dozen horrifying creatures appear in the foyer as if through a gate. Their bodies range from devilish, bearded things to giant insectoid forms, to one wrapped from head to toe in chains! Behind them is a glimpse of Hell you all briefly behold as they step through their gates. The horror of it will never, ever leave your memories. More than one of them spot you and give chase!" The imp says something that sounds like a swear in a language you've never heard and pops back out of existence, but not without first saying, "Run to the god's place! To the statue and through the fountain. Now!" Its pointing gives you a general direction.

Roxie runs as fast as a hin can run. She looks for a statue in the general direction the imp is pointing towards.

The assumption is that everyone follows Roxie and the imp's instructions. The group bursts into a round room with a domed ceiling and windows lining the upper portion. Lining the walls are statues, and before each statue is a large fountain. Each statue seems to depict a particular individual, and the pool of each fountain before them was large enough for anyone to jump into. About up to their ankle...? The sounds of magic and combat erupt from the hallway whence you came.

Well crap. Roxie studied other planar creatures in her spare time, not religious figures. Where did that imp run off to?

The room is about 30' in diameter.

"Mystra!" Roxie exclaims after a moment and points to one of the statues.

Zion, looking around the room quickly and at the statue," I think that is Mystra, the statue. Good we thought the same thing!"

Roxie runs over to the statue and looks at the fountain.

Leal adds, "And he took Mystra's name earlier, so that sounds like a good sign to me!"

The imp is there suddenly. "Why still here?!" it exclaims. "Go! GOOO!" It turns as chains wrap about it and devils burst into the room. It zaps them with a lightningbolt that bounces all the way down the hall! A devil with a beard that looks full of diseases stumbles its scorched self in your direction!

With that kind of motivation, Roxie hops into the pool in front of the Mystra-statue's fountain.

Roxie vanishes.

Already committed to following Roxie, Leal hops in right behind her.

Arelliano goes liked the others.

With no thoughts of stopping , Zion follows the others into the pool!

The four of you tumble out of the pool and face first into sand. The stars light up the night sky, but everywhere around you there is only sand.

Confused, Zion comes out of his tumble, stands up and looks around," Where are we?"

The scorched, bearded devil-thing follows! It looks about and notices, as there seems to be only you and the sand! Its saw-toothed weapon has blue blood on it!

Roxie looks up, then around. Then she sees that annoying thing.

You are all within about 10' of each other.

Roxie whispers some words of arcana and points to the devil-thing. A brilliant gold cloud of sparklies puffs around it.

The creature literally laughs at Roxie's spell, saying something in Infernal that even those who don't speak it understand he means to skewer and eat the Hin...

Roxie then moves farther away from the devil.

As crazy as it sounds, after the party's encounter on the boat, Leal actually prepared for this! She fishes a flask of pearly clear fluid from her belt, and dashes it towards the vile creature's face!

The devil bats away Leal's vial of holy water... the drop that sizzles against its cheek cause it to howl in crazed delight!

Well, Leal prepared the holy water. She didn't prepare for lingering effects from poison and blood loss to make her a worthless mess. They can't all be winners.

Arelliano lets loose with his spiked chain on the creature...

And the bearded fiend goes down in the shifting sands as the big ginger sweeps its clawed feet out from under it! That same sand manages to obscure the creature, however, as it turns to its side and avoids Arelliano's subsequent blow... He tries to follow it up with smashing it in the face with the chain but misses.

Zion's ferocity kicks in as he draws his Bastard Sword in a two-handed battle stance, and he attacks!

With Arelliano's chain knocking the devil to the ground, Zion is able to slash the devil easily scoring a hit.

Zion's bastardly blow seems to do considerably less damage than he expected... Nevertheless there is devil's blood on these sands! The sky behind you is beginning to lighten. The devil spins back and attempts to stand!

Down goes the devil again to Arelliano's chain, and again, the follow-up is lost to the sand.

Zion swings at the devil again.

Again Zion cuts and bleeds the creature, and it snarls and finally rolls back up on its feet! He slashes the devil again, hoping that if it bleeds, it can be defeated!

Down it goes again! Arelliano's chain is undeniable. But despite the efforts of the big man in keeping the creature down, his attacks barely scratch it!

Roxie is perfectly happy with keeping her distance from the thing. But that doesn't mean she has to stay out of the fight. She casts again and a ball of ice and snow appears in her hand. She lobs the snowball at the devil.

The hin's snowy-missile speeds directly towards its target as she hurls it with all her tiny might. It might simply be that her go-to offensive is just not worthy of the hellish heat emanating from this thing, and it melts before it even gets there...

Leal's not dumb enough to get in close, even with the devil pinned down, since that could easily change (and probably will, if her luck holds). She doesn't have much of anything that can hurt it aside from the holy water she brought with her, though--thankfully she has some more of that, and she breaks it out, lobbing another flask at the foul thing before easing herself backwards to give the men some more room for their messy work.

Roxie's childlike smile fades as the snowball has no affect on the creature.

The flask shatters across the fearsome maw and pestilent beard of the devil, the spray harmless to Arelliano and Zion even as it bubbles and sears the demon's flesh, melting it like so much wax under Oghma's blessed water!

That causes a rage to build as the creature shudders and roars in pain!

Arelliano launches his chain at the prone creatures face!

This time the chain connects and makes a small tearing sound as he pulls it back trickling a little blood though not nearly what the big man had hoped.

Zion swings at the thing yet again! Hoping that sooner than later it's defenses will wilt away and they can finish it off!

Giving too much swing, Zion actually misses the devil and loses his balance and he stumbles away from the devil 5 feet. Luckily there is not anyone close to get hit by his missed swing!

Zion's slip up causes the creature to go wild and try to attack him from the ground! It swipes at both legs attempting to find something to grab a hold of!

The devil draws blood and almost gets both claws on Zion, much to his dismay! Up close, he can see something writhing in the creature's beard!

In its fury, the devil has abandoned its saw-toothed glaive...

The sky is beginning to brighten even further in the heat of the conflict. The cool, in fact chill, that was in the air seems to be quickly evaporating...

Roxie lets the new snowball in her hand drop and she casts again. this time glowing ball of goo appears and she hurls it at the devil.

Roxie hurls the ball of acid-ey-goo at the devil, it might as well been a booger on its sholder, for all the damage it does... which is to say, none.

Roxie frowns.

"Get the glaive away from it,” Arelliano notes.

Leal utters a few quickly-focused words of power, conjuring forth a quarter-dome of translucent force to protect herself, and then dashes quickly into range and kicks the devil's glaive beyond his reach with a spray of sand!

Arelliano lauches the spiked chain at the devils head. He curses in an odd guttural language as he misses badly.

The shifting sands and perhaps the proximity of the Big Man's comrade causes him to whiff hard.

Zion again attempts to slash at the devil, but the flurry and fury of the devil in the sand seem to be too much for the two men trying their best to destroy it! Zion's swing goes wide again and the devil goes for him once more! It rips open his inner thigh, and now Zion's blood flows freely into the sand as well!

Zion's face is pale... this one struck deep!

Roxie pulls out a scroll and reads its magic. Instantly a giant celestial fire beetle appears and charges on that devil.

Zion falls back and pick up the beasts Glaive.

Roxie's summoning looks to lend another helping... horn? But the fire beetle digs into pure sand instead as the devil rolls away! This one seems to be in such a fury it's hard to hit it even considering its circumstances!

Leal attempts to duck and roll away from the raging devil, but it retains enough cunning to time its swipe just as she's launching herself back off the ground with both hands, catching her badly across the shoulder and arm. Blood sprays across the sand as she crumples, but manages to awkwardly finish her movement away from the creature. She needs to marshal her resources now, especially since the creature is clearly still a mortal threat, so every shot she makes needs to count. She focuses past the pain, safely away from the creature, and time slows down just a little bit for her--and arcane glyphs swim across her vision, giving her insights as to where to strike next even as her allies and target move about.

What can only be described as the devilish sound of glee comes from the thrashing devil as drops of Leal's blood stain the sand...

Arelliano lets loose with his chain trying to smash the creature in the face. The chain unleashes what should be a much more vicious hit but ends up only being a glancing blow. He remains 10 feet away from the beast with his chain ready.

Zion hears Arelliano's command and nods to the large man. He grabs the glaive and then retreats from the fighting. Zion uses his tumbling skills to withdraw from the fighting, moving 40 feet from the devil.

With nothing near it to claw, the devil snarls at Arelliano!

Arelliano launches the chain at the creatures face in response. Arelliano lands a solid blow to the creatures chest but it still doesn't do as much damage as it might.

Roxie hurries over to Zion, producing a potion and uncorking it for him. "Drink up!" she calls.

Zion listens and drinks the liquid like it's nestle quick!

Zion clearing out from melee range only makes her spell far more capable of showing her the optimal attack vector for her next action--which is to toss another flask of holy water from her current position, treating that disgustingly vile beard as a convenient target!

She sizzles off a bit of its beard... which falls into the sand... and the disease-ridden devil-filth burrows beneath...

The beetle will attempt to flank with anyone there if possible. Otherwise it'll just attack... It's still having problems in the sand, however...

The beetle misses. Carry on.

Arelliano moves to a position where he is still able to reach the devil with his chain and flank with the beetle.

Then He once again launches his spiked chain at the creature. The chain strikes true once more peeling back devil flesh as it withdraws. This time he gets the chain around the creatures arm and nearly pulled away with the arm.

Arelliano's spiked chain nearly pulls and arm of the creature as he wraps it and yanks with all his Northern might... It howls and skitters out of the chain's grip with an awkward sound of breaking bone...

For those close enough to see, it is glancing about for some sort of escape!

Still not healed up to his fullest potential, Zion takes out another potion and drinks it down.

The creature attempts to shuffle back on its haunches out of Arelliano's reach...

Arelliano launches his chain once more at the retreating beast. There is a satisfying thud and crunch sound as the spiked chain hits and pulls away more armored flesh.

It howls as Arelliano's chain bites into its leg, and, bleeding badly, it does manage to get out of his range. With that, there is a laugh and some sort of Infernal remark, and the creature disappears in a poof of sulphuric gas. It is not a death howl nor is it the evaporation you've experienced before killing other devils. It's just... gone.

Arelliano grimaced. "It didn't will be back."

Roxie looks for its dropped weapon.

As it disappears before your very eyes, there is little you can do to shield them from what comes next: A blazing ball of fire breaks the horizon, bringing with it instantly an intense heat. In the moments you recover yourselves from combat you're already sweating. This is not good.

Breathing out a loud sigh of relief, Zion looks to Arelliano," Thank-you for your coMbat expertise with your chain. It was very useful and a life sver."

Arelliano grunts. "Yes the moment lets look for a place to shelter...does anyone know where we are?"

"That's not a pleasant sunrise," she grumbles.

"That's wonderful," Leal hisses as she moves to shield her eyes, looking around away from the sun both to try and figure out where on Toril they are and where they might find shelter.

The sun seems to set the sand on fire. You notice not just the twisted metal glaive, but a satchel of some sort in the sand as well. But the heat is already making metal parts uncomfortable to touch. Around you, what you see are endless dunes.

Zion nods to Arel, and then notices the surrounding area

"Good news,” Roxie offers, “I don' think we're on another plane. Bad news. I think we may be in the Anauroch."

...and then the big man starts to curse in a harsh language for a full 2 minutes which seems to be nothing but a stream of curses above Wizards specifically and Arcanists in general, and the unnatural acts they should all perform to various body parts.

Roxie hurries over to the satchel and grabs it as the morning heat begins.

Leal still has a newly-bought mantle, which she pulls up the hood on to shield her Northerner-pale skin from the immediate searing heat, and as the last light of the stars fade, she curses under her breath before speaking to Roxie. "I concur." And then, after Arelliano's outburst, she deadpans, "I concur with that, too."

Most of them probably don't understand Giant but they can guess at the big man's intent.

Roxie hopes whatever they need to survive the desert is in this satchel.

As far as the eye can see, the Great Sea of Sand stretches in undulating waves of desert and heat that blur into the horizon all around you. It's already too hot where you're standing. Metal is becoming increasingly uncomfortable if you're wearing it.

When he is done cursing, Arelliano puts on a set of Goggles. "These are meant to keep snow blindness out but hopefully it works in the Gods Cursed blazing sun."

Leal, thankfully, has precious little metal on her person save the amulet worn between her vest and shirt. She's not trained for the wilderness, but even she knows that water and shelter (or at least shade) are the top priorities, and as hot as the sun's getting and as quickly as it's doing so, they'll need to find those as close to now as they can get. She pulls out her cane-length rod, prepared to start.

"We should probably find or build some shade, then travel at night. We could build a lean-to on a tall sand dune, then switch sides after noon." Roxie is glad she has her gear with her. She looks around for what humans might consider a "tall" sand dune. "How about that one?" she points to one nearby.

Zion listens to the two females talk and plan it out. He's uncomfortable as the heat is bothering him. But he'll do as instructed and hopefully they make it through this in one piece. He follows the women, saying to no one in general," Talk about fighting the devil in the frying pan and now jumping into the burning fire!"

Roxie walks to a suitable sand dune and begins planning the lean to, which of course the men are going to do most of the work building.

Zion helps out with whatever they are trying to build. He also mentions to Roxie," My thanks for the healing potion. I'll repay you if we make it back to Waterdepp."

Arelliano is no stranger to hard labor. If anyone produces a shovel, he goes about digging out the lean-to once they've figured out how to stop the sand above from falling back down into it.... If they figure it out...?

She mutters under her cloak, and almost reluctantly pulls it off before kneeling in the sand to pull off her small leather satchel. She swaps that mantle, which looks like it has a surprising amount of weight to it, for a relatively lighter one stuffed in her pack. Then she wipes the sweat from her already-reddening brow with the hem of that new cloak before following the others towards the dune Roxie's selected.

Not even a half hour has gone by since the sun's rising, and even in the shade the dune provides it's too hot. All the moisture in the air is gone, and everyone is already thirsty, if they weren't before.

“Why here? Why did we end up here in the middle of no where?" Zion mutters, again to no one in particular.

"Does anyone have any blankets or canvases or anything we can use to hold up the sand?" the Hin asks. She peeks inside the satchel she picked up a few minutes ago.

Zion, curious, he watches Roxie," So what's in the satchel, Roxie?"

"I have a bedroll that may help with that,” Leal says to Roxie as she digs through her pack and pulls out said bedroll. Then, to Zion: "Part of my mind was kicking that around. I'm not sure why, but something I've read in passing suggests the nature of this place tends to interfere with the Weave. Even without fully engaging the Weave-sight, I'm still kind of picking up on that." She shakes her head idly. "Might be something to consider more deeply once we're settled."

Zion frowns at Leal's answer," Too much magic involved here."

A pair of superstitious men and a pair of magic-inclined women. When faced with the unrelenting heat of the desert, it's washed away in one word: Survival.

"I'm a practitioner of the Art and even I'll agree with you there." Leal's already too fatigued from the heat to venture more than a wan smirk at that, as she does what she can to help set up the camp.

It's obvious from the get-go that you need something to support the thing(s) providing shade in the manner of a lean-to. Also, it's probably not a good idea to dig sand out per se, but to create your lean-to and pile sand from above on top of it in a natural manner.

Roxie thought about that twisted glaive. “We could use it to support one side. Did we see any other scraps of anything over there?”

Arelliano goes into his adventurer's pack and starts setting about using the poles from the single tent in it to try and prop up the lean to. He hasn't said much because it's too damned hot to speak overmuch, and he expended his verbosity cursing the wizard that sent them to this cursed place.

Before they get too carried away during the build, Leal proffers, "Would it be better to face it north? We'd have less shade now, but more later without having to try and move it." She's clearly not certain whether that's a good idea or not, but it occurs to her.

As you are somewhat northward, you realize that the sun actually stays in the southern part of the sky, and so it is, in fact, better to face it north, or northeast, actually, so that the better part of the day stays out of the sun. And it would so happen the dune is amiable to your requirments as well.

Zion helps out the best he can, but he doesn't carry much on himself to be able to supply anything useful.

It takes a bit of time, but you get one side of the dune providing ample shade, where you take a welcome respite.

Arelliano works to comply with Leal's suggestion, thankful that someone can put forth the necessary skull sweat to survive out here. Arelliano doesn't speak until the shelters is set up, when he does he collapses in a heap sweating. Too weary to even ponder doing anything for the moment. Finally after a few moments and a small amount of time with his waterskin he speaks, “We need to conserve our water, the question is, can we best do that hunkering down during the day and travelling at twilight and night, or do we feel like we can do so in the heat of the day?"

"I'm no expert on the matter,” Roxie says, “but I think we'd be better off resting during the day and traveling at night when our equipment isn't burning us just to touch it."

Zion's too uncomfortable to make a suggestion.

Leal's actual attempts to help build the physical shelter only serve to remind her of the wounds inflicted by the devil's claws, so her idea winds up being the bulk of her contribution to the endeavor--and once they have some shade, her next priority is to pull off her vest, ask someone to tear down the sleeve of her shirt, and use that cloth to help cover and bind more securely the wounds on her shoulder and arm.

Once they're settled in, Roxie rummages through her pack. Roxie seems to find whatever she's looking for. She sets her pack down and casts something, then looks in it again and inside the satchel.

"So what did the devil leave behind for us, anyway?" She says to Roxie through gritted teeth as she holds the cloth between them to tie the last knot on her bandage.

Catching Zion's eye with Roxie looking in the satchel, "What's in the satchel?"

As the work is done and you take shelter to lick your wounds, the heat, even within the tent, becomes almost unbearable. Heavy, thick and/or metal objects - it's all you can do to want to get away from them.

"...checking... " Roxie says while studying whatever it is she's looking at.

Seeing Leal bandaging herself, Zion offers, " Do you need a healing potion, Leal?"

Once settled in Arelliano deigns to provide some context. "I come by my distrust of Arcanists, honestly, I was held captive by one when I was very young and trained to fight in the pits for him. I am sure there are some trustworthy Arcanists...but I have not had the opportunity to meet any thus far. After midnight, I can use my bracer again to heal someone that needs it...or myself whomever needs it most."

Ruining a decent shirt is secondary to the loss of heat that the now-missing sleeve would have held in, and Leal sighs in relief once she's done binding herself up. She shakes her head to Zion. "Better to conserve our resources, I think--so long as we're not molested for a little while, these wounds will heal on their own, though the scars will make an interesting tale." Then she wanders over to look over the Hin's shoulder at whatever's in the bag.

Zion settles down with sweat streaming down him, "As you wish, Leal.". He sits there and appears to stare off the distance

As she wanders over, Leal speaks to Arelliano, tiredly but without any malice. "That's a totally understandable response to some horrific circumstances that I can't pretend to understand. I'll hope that at some point I can earn your trust, at least."

Roxie seems to be staring intently at whatever is in the satchel. She shifts it a bit, moves the contents around a little.

"Helping us to survive this, will make for a good start,” Arelliano replies. “I still haven't decided if that pompous Wizard was telling the truth."

"Hm," is Leal's reaction to what's in the bag. To the Hin, she says, "Are you using the Weave-sight on it already, or should I?"

"He seemed to believe whatever he was saying,” Roxie replies, “But that doesn't make it true."

Arelliano holds onto the devil's glaive, making sure to handle it only with his gloves on.

"I'll do my best,” Leal says, “though so far Beshaba seems to be trying hard to counter me on that score," she says to Arelliano. "But I'm quickly getting used to that. Maybe someday I can even the score." She smirks, then responds to Arelliano's latter point (and Roxie's). "I tend to agree--he seemed like he was being truthful, but even he might have been over his head, given the basis of his story. If we can get back to Waterdeep, I might be able to get some answers from Blackstaff Tower." She has no objections to Arelliano holding the glaive. It might make her a little less uncomfortable than some of the others, but still makes her skin crawl.

Roxie slowly pulls out several items from the satchel. First she brings out a 1 inch crystal in a "righteous" shade of red. "This one radiates moderate transmutation magic." The next item is an armband with a fancy looking S stitched into it. "This one radiates faint transmutation magic." Then she pulls out a set of bracers. "These have moderate transmutation magic." And lastly, she pulls out a set of boots. "And these have faint transmutation on them."

Zion watches the items come out and sees what happens next.

As do we all...
Last edited by A.J. on Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Posts: 245
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:15 pm

The party has spent their first day attempting to sleep/rest during the ungodly heat of the day while traveling by night. It is cold and the wind no less biting than in the heat of the day.

Leal has, entirely unwittingly, brought a heavy extra layer to bundle up with at night, and it brings the side benefit of keeping the sand and grit from further flaying her sweat-crusted skin. She moves with a stiff gait, recuperating slowly from her devil-inflicted wounds as she attempts to conserve the party's healing resources.

Arelliano has been switching from Artisan's Outfit in the day, to the Cold Weather Outfit he typically fairs at night.

Zion was too uncomfortable, especially since he had purchased that crystal of adaptation (least) from that one merchant back at home. It was mainly to stay comfortable at night on the rooftops in Waterdeep, but he wasn't complaining here! From the looks of the others, he was faring better than them.

Arelliano keeps the Snow Goggles on to keep the sand and wind out of his eyes.

The night goes without event, as the party walks along, and the lightening in the eastern sky signals time to start looking for the next place to build your daytime shelter.

The big man made the tactical decision NOT to wear his armor even at night, the protection it afforded was negligable compared to his level of comfort throughout the day.

It is grueling work, walking through sand. Bits of you are sore in an unfamiliar way.

Zion asks the others,"Do any of you have an idea of how long this is going to take us? To get out of the damn sand territory that is?"

"The Aunorach desert is huge,” Arelliano explains.

Zion groans at Arel's answer

"Without knowing where we started, it is impossible to know how long it will take to walk out,” Arelliano adds.

Leal leans on her cane-length stick during the party's travels, taking every opportunity to take a breather as she lights the group's way through the sands whenever they need additional light by which to navigate (covering it up when they don't). She's intensely glad for her generally good physical conditioning by the end of the night, figuring that she'd have collapsed some time ago without it. She nods to Arelliano's words in response to Zion. "Without knowing exactly where we came in, it could be another couple of days, or it could be rides. When we get back, I am absolutely going to put more effort into star-reading." As she speaks, she begins scouting good locations for a day-shelter, looking for places shielded from the sun to the south, and ideally something with a good view of the surroundings, so maybe house-sized scorpions can't sneak up on them again without being noticed.

"I'm going to have to learn more about the lands beyond the city, that's for sure,” Zion remarks. “I feel out of my element here."

"I think its safe to say every one of us is out of our respective elements here,” Leal comments.

"True,” Zion agrees.

Arelliano grimaced. "I am from the North...I should be better at...” - he waved his hands in frustration - “This." At Leal's words he frowned but nodded in agreement.

Zion helps out with setting up camp when it is decided where they are going to stay, that is.

Leal does eventually spy a particular rock outcropping that seems to lend itself to cover with perhaps little to no effort in the building aspect.

This is the first area you have found a hard surface upon which to walk now in a pair of days. It is almost unfamiliar.

The height of the outcrop, which is more like a single giant slab of earth jutting out of the dunes, gives a good look at your surrounding environs, and the clear night sky gives you a great view of the entire surrounding area.

"I'm also keeping my eyes out for travelers. There's probably caravan-routes through this place, with the masters of which we could probably negotiate long as they're not raiders, brigands, or worse, of course." Leal sighs as she looks upon the rock outcropping ahead, and points. "Hm. Might be too good to be true, or otherwise claimed as the territory of something nasty, but otherwise that looks like an ideal spot to set up shop for the day." She's definitely getting used to her ideas and plans stumbling headlong into hilariously awful situations, so she approaches the site, but warily and with her flame-stick to hand.

Arelliano notes, "It also looks like an ideal spot to get a lay of the land."

Which, not to your surprise, seems to be sand dunes for as far as the eye can see. In fact, the rock outcropping would probably be landmark for anyone in the area traveling through here. The fact that there are no signs of previous camps or habitation do little to encourage you about the idea that this might have been some sort of waypoint.

"I wouldn't have guessed that there were rocks in this sand territory. With all the sand, I'm starting to think there's no end of the sand,” Zion says.

Arelliano has his chain ready as they approach the rock outcropping.

Leal considers this thoughtfully as she surveys the landscape. "Sightlines are wide, but there's really no staying out of sight, either; this looks like it'd be a waypoint for anyone coming through here. If we set up shop here, we're leaving a lot to luck that hasn't really been with us so far. Do we have any other choice, though...?" She trails her question off as she continues surveying the area.

Zion awaits for the others to decide.

"I mean, we do need to find another non-murderous sentient at some point at some point, if only to finally get a sense of where in the desert we are," Leal says.

Arelliano sighed. "Let's at least go check out the rock outcropping and use it to get our bearings. At the very least if we DON'T decide to stay it might afford us a chance to find a better area to set up camp"

Leal nods. "Agreed."

There is no hostile activity around this rock outcropping. Nor are there signs of any sort of common habitation. If this was a waypoint for travelers, it is either a secret place or one no longer used.

Roxie snaps out of her daze and remembers to speak up again.

“Hmm." Leal mutters contemplatively as she examines the rocks. "Perhaps this is not such a great place to set up shop after all."

Arelliano raised an eyebrow and waiting for an explanation.

Roxie looks at the rocks sceptically. "These look like they're seen some serious heat."

Arelliano frowned at that.

After taking a swallow from his waterskin, Zion states the obvious out loud, "We need to find some water soon, before we die of thirst."

"Moreso than can be accounted for by the sun alone, yes." Leal nods, tracing two fingers idly over a bit of the sand near the outcropping, which has been not quite reduced to glass, but has taken a shiny sheen nonetheless. She's examining more closely now, as if looking for clues as to the origin of the phenomenon.

"I carry extra water rations,” Arelliano offers, “but you are not wrong on that front Zion."

Zion frowns as he watches, not sure what Leal is looking at?

To Leal's comment Arelliano can only shrug.

Zion nods to Arel's comment too.

Then Leal nods, as if confirming a supposition. "It seems likely to be extraplanar in nature. No touch of the infernal, but perhaps from the elemental realms."

"So this is a potential portal?" Roxie asks.

"Like a portal?" Zion echoes. He smiles at Roxie for almost saying it at the same time.

Arelliano groans at that thought. "Whatever plane it goes to, I doubt we are equipped to survive."

Again Zion frowns.

"I'd be more worried about what might come through to us,” Roxie says.

"Barely equipped to survive this cursed desert." Arelliano scowled now.

"It could be,” Leal continues, “but I don't see anything suggesting specifics. As old as this place looks, it could also have been active at one time, and not anymore."

"Then perhaps we should be on our way with all due haste,” Arelliano suggests.

"We won't make it far, especially with our water rations dwindling." Leal looks for any further signs from which she can glean hints about the nature of this place.

"We'll make it less far, if we die of heat stroke from some elemental planar anomaly,” the pit fighter comments.

Roxie walks around to get a better look at something behind the outcropping. She also casts a spell on herself, just in case...

For your reference, the outcropping juts up about 15' into the night sky. You are on the northeastern side of it, under its highest point.

Zion squints his eyes and frowns, pointing at the direction he is looking at," Do you see that light?", he points from the other side of the outcropping.

"No but I can hear... something,” Arelliano answers, "not sure what."

"Yeah," Roxie says quietly. "Oh?" She starts backing away instead....

Arelliano loosened the spike chain and dropped into a crouch.

Zion gets his shortbow out and and grabs an arrow , just in case.

As the party warily prepares, the light in the east grows stronger, but you can also see some sort of light on the other side of the outcropping... seems to be ... moving.

Zion keeps looking at the lighted source to see if there's any movement. "What do we do?" he quietly asks the others

"We either run or we move out to meet it boldly,” Arelliano replies.

"Well it hasn't attacked yet,” Roxie notes.

Arelliano nodded at that, then sighed heavily. "If I die...speak of me with honesty."

Zion starts to walk towards the light source," Well I guess the worst that can happen is we die." He keeps his bow ready to shoot though.

And with that Arelliano started moving towards the light source openly.

Leal's been focusing too intently on the stone to pay much attention to the light or noise, but eventually the party's conversation shakes her from her reverie. By instinct she shifts her walking-stick to her off-hand and fishes out her flame-stick, looking to the others. "We may have to take one more chance and hope it works out this time. And if not, indeed, to be prepared to run." With that, she follows the others.

Roxie follows the others out to see what there is to see.

Those moving around the outcropping, underneath its jutting edge really, move around it to see what this light source was. As they do so, they spy an odd, worm-like creature brushing against the rock face, as if scratching an itch. Its head is pointed and glowing with what can only be described as dripping magma. It is about 5' long and a foot thick.

"A spiked chained warrior and an archer approaches the light source, what do you think happens next?" Zion tries to jest as they walk.

Arelliano pulls up short observing the creature. "What in the nine hells is THAT?" he whispered dumbfounded.

It has not yet noticed the party...

"Now may be the time to run." Arelliano added very quietly

Zion is speechless like Arelliano.

Leal blinks at the sight of the worm, and stops walking towards it. When Arelliano speaks, she shakes her head, and whispers back. "Something I think we should walk away from, slowly and quietly."

Zion takes a step backwards, after hearing Leal's advice.

Arelliano nods and starts backing away slowly. He instinctively takes up the rear guard position.

"It's a thoqqua, a sort of elemental fire worm." Leal little more than breathes the words as she sidles away slowly. "We can deal with it...if there's only one, and if Roxie has more of her ice magic handy. Otherwise it'll happily set us on fire, which rather seems the last thing we need."

Roxie quietly starts backing up. and she points up to something above them. "Three of them," she hisses.

Leal is too focused on the worm before them, as is Zion, to note what Roxie is pointing at. Arelliano sees them, though!

"Anything we shouldn't be tossing at these creatures because I think we are in for a fight."

The trio of creatures is suddenly alerted to the party's presence, and rear up in their direction!

Leal sighs, unable apparently to win for losing. "Fire. Cold is best, anything else will do, but no fire,” she says as she realizes what exactly all of her offensive output consists of.

Two of the worms are within 20' of each other. The one above you is further away than they are, technically.

Roxie realizes the two thoqquas on the ground have just turned their attention from sunning themselves to the intruders. She stops her backing up enough to cast a spell, then turns and moves as quickly as she can away from those two. A burst of glittering gold *poofs* between the two sunbathing elementals, encompassing them both in sparkling dust.

The Hin does her best and tosses out her go-to spell, which seems to blind these worms with glowing lava-faces that may or may not have discernible eyes...?

"No fire from me, just arrows, a mace and a sword,” Zion, answering to Roxie's comment of not using fire. He then takes aim with the arrow he's had ready and shoots at the one of the worms closest to them. He then moves away from them further, but staying within arrow range.

"Stick to the arrows,” Leal counsels, “Whatever you do, don't touch them. They're more or less made of magma."

Zion shoots the arrow at the worm and it appears to hit it, not knowing if it hurt it or not though. He pulls out another arrow after moving back some.

Arelliano grimaced at that, that meant getting close even with a reach weapon was probably a mistake.

The arrow hits its mark, and the worm shivers in pain, the wooden shaft of the arrow catches fire quickly, too, and is soon ash...

Leal backs up steadily, chanting as she moves. The air crystallizes about her, shimmering as it coalesces into a quarter-hemisphere dome of force energy.

Arelliano can't help it...its just not in his nature to lay back. He doesn't simply charge in however, he approaches the 1 that has been hit with an arrow from an angle putting as much distance as he can between him and the second creature.

Arelliano's Chain flies and smashes into the creature and the chain as it pulls back is glowing red.

The creature shudders and burrows beneath the sand! It rises up directly behind the Big Man and strikes! Its partner moves toward the nearest target (Arelliano) and surges forward with its glowing white-hot head! The worm above you scrambles down the rock face but is not in range to attack this round!

The thoqqua slams its molten head *right* into Arelliano's chest... molten rock flies about and it's all the Big Man can do not to catch fire!

Arelliano hisses in pain, of course they are burrowers....

Roxie casts again and a pearly white sphere of snow appears in her hand. "Leave him alone!" she yells as she lobs a snowball at the wounded one.

Roxie put a LOT of effort into that snowball. It hits the wounded creature and knocks it down into the sand. The creature doesn't move after that. She then puts another 20 ft between herself and the elementals.

There is more sizzle and pop than expected. The Hin's cold magic devastates the creature!

Zion grimace's as he checks his quiver, after grabbing another arrow. Seeing that Arelliano is getting closer instead of farther away from the worms." I don't know if I have enough arrows to kill them off before they get close to us." He takes aim at the one (partner worm ) going after Arelliano and lets the arrow fly at the worm.

The arrows flies past the worm and into the sands. Zion growls at his miss.

Having backed up a ways, Leal stops moving, carefully sheathing her sticks and fishing out her trusty crossbow. Ever the last resort of the unprepared wizard, she takes aim and fires at the other worm attacking Arelliano, focusing more at this range on not hitting her friend than on actually making contact.

The bolt whistles harmlessly wide. The thoqqua may not even have heard it go by, the shot was so poor.

Arelliano glances from the creature which just lit him up to the one that is fast approaching.

It would be upon him momentarily, he notes.

With a Curse in Giantish that serves as his War cry. Arelliano takes a 5 foot step back and launches his chain at the one in front of him.

Arelliano seemed to have a sense of desperation about him that must have inspired him as the chain wrapped around the creatures head and when he pulled back the creature's head is torn clean off and the big man issued a roar of triumph!

Molten goo flows from the dead creature...

The last thoqqua seems to not notice its fallen pack-mates and charges headlong into Arelliano... But the big man simply side-steps its charge!

Round 2 of the super-snowballs. She hurls another ball of ice and snow at the remaining thoqqua.

Roxie's aim is getting better. Or maybe it's her enthusiasm for playing in the snow in the middle of a scorching desert. Either way, the snowball hits the thoqqua right in the head, knocking it flat on its back and sending it rolling a ways. It doesn't get back up.

Leal had hit upon an idea...but as she begins thumbing through her scroll organizer, she suddenly sees it's no longer needed. Well, thank Oghma's wisdom for that.

Arelliano dropped to one knee and examined the burns on his arms and neck gingerly even as the effects of the adrenaline surge left his body.

The sky is getting even lighter...

"We need to find a place to camp quickly,” Roxie comments.

With bow and arrow readied, Zion slowly approaches Arelliano asking," I have a healing potion still on me, do you want it, Arelliano?"

Leal sighs. She's continued to be entirely unhelpful, but at least she's come away without being injured any further--though Arelliano wasn't so lucky. She looks to Roxie. "I don't think we have time to look for anyplace else, really, we may just have to take our chances here that we got all of the thoqqua."

"No...” Arelliano replies, “I have the healing effect from my bracer. Or will soon." He nodded at Leal's assessment.

Roxie tries to come up with a way of squeezing that last snowball into a waterskin before it vanishes. Alas, no luck.

It seems like whatever elementals were here you all have eliminated. Why this area would draw them is, so far, beyond you. Setting up camp ends up being most beneficial beneath the jutting outcrop's northeaster face...

Zion nods,"Okay then, time for us to take shelter. He checks the thoqqua out though. Having never seen these worms before. It is intriguing.

The big man moves to set up camp.

Roxie casts a detect magic and examines the area. “The last thing we need is more of these (or worse) popping out of a portal...”

Without the elemental force that drives their bodies, they are little more than empty husks of carapace that look more like dried volcanic stone than anything...

Roxie's spell reveals nothing except an uncertainty in regards to the results of any sort of magical divination in this part of the Anauroch.

"I guess it's as safe as anywhere else," Roxie says and then gets ready to camp out for the day.

Leal assists the best she can in pitching the shelter on the northeast side of the rock face, trying to be more useful now than she was during the fight at least. She lets Roxie run the magical detection, roughly expecting the result given past attempts at Weave-sighting out there, but also keeps her eyes peeled for any mundane signs that this outcrop or parts thereof might be man-made, such as faded inscriptions or unnaturally-shaped projections.

Zion finds the husk of these creatures could possibly be used as an alchemical reagent, perhaps, though without an alchemy roll he doesn't know what, exactly, it could provide. After checking the worms out, he joins the others with setting up camp.

Leal's observations reveal little more than the fact that this is a simple rock face exposed by the relentless winds in this area of the desert.

Likewise, if the worms don't retain their untenable heat after death, Leal will try to examine them in more depth once the camp is assembled.

Once camp is set the big man flops down unceramoniously with a grunt.

Zion offers to take the first watch, to let the others rest. With bow and arrow in hand he watches the surrounding area for any trouble

Arelliano nods. "I'll take whatever watch is required,I assume it will be 2nd or 3rd."

"Intriguing," Leal says as she notes the fading of the heat now that the creatures are no longer animate, and the composition of the surviving remains. She takes a fist-sized chunk for further study once they return to Waterdeep. Sure, they may be well-covered in books, she figures, but nothing beats a first-hand look.

Roxie would like first watch, so that way she can get some solid shut eye afterwards.

Leal suggests she take the last watch for similar reasons.

Then Zion takes the second watch.

The big man grunted and rolled over and tried to get some rest, hoping desperately that they remain unmolested this day.

After the battle with the desert worms, Zion is quiet and content to help out as needed for them to survive this ordeal.

Leal takes a little bit of time after camp is set up to relax, shed her outer , heavier mantle, take some notes, and settle in before trying as best she can to get some rest in the midst of the overwhelming heat.

The night passes without event, and the party packs up camp and continues forward.

: Eight days pass in this fashion, and your supplies are ... well, how would they be?

After 8 days they would be thankful for killing the Giant Scorpion. But even with Arelliano's extra water provisions, they would be desperate to find water.

With everything looking lean, to say the least. Zion follows along doing his best to protect the two females and help out the tank of the party.

The eigth day's camp is a delirious one. You can no longer make heads or tails of where you are, and most of you are too weak to do anything about it. There has been no water to find, and you have stretched your rations beyond your limits. Each and every one of you is on the brink of death. As the sun rises you know that it will be the last you all see.

You've tried to fortify your tent, failing, most of you are prone inside, lying in the sand, save those who'd like to be dramatically otherwise.

Roxie just curls up in her cloak, tired.

It is all you can do to try and remain in your shelter as the sun rises again.

With it comes an odd noise... It starts as a humming, each one of you hears it.

Curiosity always gets Zion to check it out.

Roxie covers her head. The humming noise in her head just won't go away.

It comes with the rising sun, and not all of you have the strength to go see exactly what it is.

Arelliano seems like the only one strong enough to investigate the noise. He leaves the tent into the heat of the rising sun. Even him opening the tent flap seems to weaken the rest of you...

Leal sits, hands perched atop her walking stick, trying to find the strength to foist herself up once more, because gods damn the idea of dying out here in the stupid desert. She doesn't seem to really perceive the noise, though, and her body isn't responding to her mental efforts.

Arelliano squints against the sun and tries desperately to get his weapon ready for trouble... but the fact is... he doesn't really have the energy

Roxie mumbles. "What is it?"

"Something.." He says intelligently

A muffled voice calls out, but you can't understand it.

Arelliano calls back in the three languages he speaks.

"Is it water?" the Hin asks, delirium taking over. "Is it a stream that we missed yesterday?"

"Is that a...boat?" Arelliano says incredulously.

Roxie sounds half delirious. "I would like to see a stream, with beautiful water, just going by."

You all hear Arelliano shouting at something... weakly.

Arelliano groans..."I'm hallucinating."

"Or maybe a beach,” Roxie rambles on, “The sea... and riding on a ship."

Arelliano raised a hand to the hallucination. "Have you any water?" he asks...because why the hell not

Zion wonders if this is truly the end?

A burst of air blows the tent flaps open and you see Arelliano waving to something in the sky amidst clouds of dust that threaten to choke out your last breaths...

"Yes...” Arelliano croaks, “land...especially if you have water."

Then, for all save the Big Man, the world goes black.

...It is not long before all of you find yourselves below the deck of a ship being fed water by what looks like a mechanical monkey. As each of you awake, you feel and hear the humming that signaled your blacking out before, and a bit of bumpiness, but otherwise, you lie in a comfortable, if cramped, cot.

"This isn't a stream, but I'll take it,” the Hin says, she isn't nearly as cramped as the rest of you. She tries to grab whatever container has water in it.

As you awake you see that you lie in the crew's quarter of some ship, which seems odd considering you were in the middle of a desert! The mechamonkey gives you all a bit of water in turn, but is careful to ration it.
Zion's confused and tries to figure out was is going on here, but... water is most welcomed, though.

Food comes after, in the form of bread and cheese, for now.

The big man is sitting up when everyone starts waking up. He looks a little less awful than the rest of them as he was the first to receive the water.

"Where are we?" Roxie asks the room.

"Don't ask me how we are in a ship in the middle of the desert,” Arelliano answers, “but we are."

Zion stays quiet and accepts the water and food.

"Hopefully our host can explain...” Arelliano continues, “he's agreed to take us to the nearest town. Further...if we help him with a small task. I didn't agree to anything except the ride to the nearest town."

"Who is our host?" Roxie is eyeing the food and water hungrily.

"Ye sits aboard the Swallow's Tear, lass," comes a tiny voice from a door opening above decks. It belongs to a gnome. "I be her Captain, one Gemwir Thistleburrow. That there," he points at the metal monkey, "be Gary. He's the caretakin' type, lucky fer ye. What in Gond's name were ye doin in the middle of the Quarter?" he asks. He steps nimbly down the stair to introduce himself to each of you in turn.

Zion listens to Arelliano as he slowly eats the bread.

“We got dumped there unexpectedly." Arelliano says being intentionally vague

"Dumped?" the Captain queries, "Dumped?" He seems to ponder. "How so?"

"We were trying to find our way out,” Roxie says, “What else do people do in the desert?"

And Zion's attention is now on Captain Gemwir Thistleburrow.

Figuring anything out is a moot point for the moment--even if they sit amidst danger, there's not much she can do about it for now. Leal first shifts idly to test for the reassuring weight about her throat, then accepts the proffered water at the rate at which it's given, and otherwise simply rests and tries to regain her mental focus. Feeling powerless and desperate does not suit her, and she knows it. As the captain introduces himself, she nods politely as best her stiff muscles and bleary motor control can manage, but otherwise is quiet for now, listening.

"Ye've na' met the Bedine 'ave ye lass?" the Captain smirks, glancing at Roxie.

"I think it's safe to say none of us expected to be out here, or we would have come better prepared,” Arelliano offers.

Zion watches the exchange between Arel, Roxie, and the Captain as he chews his bread.

"Thanks again Captain Thistleburrow," Arelliano adds.

"Nope. Who are they?" Roxie asks in between bites of food.

The gnome shrugs. "Ye're quite welcome." He hops up on one of the bunks. "Listen, I could use a decent lot like yerselves te help me in my endeavor." He glances at Arelliano. "'Sumin' ye needs te get out of the Sand Sea, eh? But likely not jest te the edge eh? Where's 'ome fer ye?" He looks to Roxie. "They live here, lass."

"We are from Waterdeep,” Arelliano answers.

Roxie takes a sip of water. A few sips actually. "We never saw anyone. But if you can get us back to Waterdeep that would be wonderful."

Arelliano looked to the others. "I think we are amenable to helping you with your task, but we would like to hear more about it."

The gnome slaps his knee and laughs, "Ohohoho!" he chuckles profusely, "So it was magic brought ye 'ere eh? Oh good strong magic! I'll reckon ye're jes the sort ol Gemwir needs!" He leans forward. "Tell ye what, I'll take ye all the way te the City o' Splendors ye helps an ol' gnome out? Whaddye ses?"

"What is it you need help with?" Roxie asks.

Zion's content to hear this parlay out, ass he's not the most diplomatic. He continues to eat the bread and cheese along with sipping his water.

"Bit o' spelunking, really," the Captain replies.

Arelliano glanced to the others again. "Captain, we are happy to hear you out, and most likely willing to aid...if you could refrain from mentioning where we came from or how we got out here when we are in mixed company that would be...helpful."

"Listen, I don't need ye te decides right now. We're headin' to Shi'ar's camp. Ri' now he's in the Shaiyaddar, not te far from our final destination at Orofin. Ye'll be able te resupply there."

"Spelunking?" he says with a raised eyebrow, "I am unfamiliar with the term."

The Captain nods. "No worries, lad," he replies, "I'm a Waterdhavian meself. I know how te protect me own."

"Cave diving?" Roxie asks.

Zion nods in agreement with Arel's comment to Spelunking.

"A bit o' underground exploration," the gnome explains. "Rest fer now ye. I'll need te resupply and investigate meself. Ye'll have at least a week te reprovision and make up yer minds." He stands. "Gary there'll make sure ye're fed. Least I kin do for fellow Waterdhavians. Then, get some rest. We land near Shi'ar's camp tomorrow night."

Leal continues listening quietly. A Waterdhavian stumbles upon a party of Waterdhavians staggering through the middle of a thousand-mile desert, with provisions to save their lives, and just so happens to need a favor they can do for him. That's... certainly a convenient set of facts to assemble themselves. She's withholding judgment for the moment, given that they are alive thanks to this man, and again recognizing that the need for a last-minute savior is sticking in her craw to the point of possibly affecting her judgment. But she ponders this as she rests and sips her water, waiting for her appetite to return.

The ship eventually lands, and no poisoning or metal bears strangling you in the night. As you descend, you watch from the deck as you land near what looks like a great bizarre surrounding a small oasis in the center of what look to be arid grasslands, a welcome change of scenery to the rolling dunes of what you now know as the Quarter of Emptiness, where not even Bedine travelers go. In the distance there are rocky peaks you can see clearly. The throng of people beneath you are mostly covered in pale clothing that covers them head to toe, revealing only their eyes. A few horses can be seen, but the entire place looks like one grand bazaar. It is into this you land, some distance off. A few hours trudging through the heat of the day and you arrive.

Leal makes note of the standard garb here--that looks both cool and eminently useful for their purpose of the moment, and she makes plans to buy herself such an outfit as soon as they can hit a tailor's shop. And hopefully this one won't get his throat cut in the process of selling it to her.

You've landed and are free to do as you wish - the gnome made good on that promise - there are plenty of shops although you are definitely marked as strangers here - might be a good idea to try to find a way to fit in before attempting much else here.

Arelliano too makes not of the outfits and intends to see a tailor

Zion is just happy to be alive still. As long as he can get back to Waterdeep. He do whatever.

Gemwir asks that you return to him with an answer regarding your willingness to help in his endeavor within a fortnight.

Leal is somewhat surprised at being marked a stranger, having presumed she was too grubby, sand-caked, and wind/sun-burned to be marked as anything but a zombie. She'll take 'stranger' as a compliment and head off to disguise that fact as well, agreeing with Gemwir's requested timetable.

Her specific distressed look is actually what makes her stand out. None of the Bedine she observes are remotely sand-caked or sun-burned. In fact, they look quite comfortable as they haggle-out their lives.

Zion agrees to Gemwir's request, already knowing that they would be doing what he wants. The Captain did save them, the thought goes through his mind as he wonders what is going to happen next.

Though the local bedines seem friendly enough to the gnome and his crew (you), they are openly distrustful of anything magic. The gnome himself comes back and forth from the ship to the tent city and will enchant or craft magic items necessary at retail figures, but only in his private workshop aboard his ship. He advises to keep magic commentary, discussions, and items to yourselves. You are welcome to stay in one of the large tent-inns in the settlement, or on the ship. The population is just under 3,000 bedine. Gemwir expects they will remain at this oasis for at least the next several weeks, if not a bit longer.
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby Ian » Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:23 pm

Leal's first stop is actually to a watering hole (or to a similarly suitable spot on the ship), where she can use some water and a cloth to make herself look at least marginally presentable for doing business. Once finished, she's still clearly an outsider to the settlement (her badly-burned paleness will see to that), but she's at least no longer a filthy zombie likely to get pitched out of the oasis entirely.

From there, as noted, she hits up a nearby tailor. She keeps comprehend languages prepared and uses it very discreetly before entering the shop; while the spell doesn't give her the means to actually speak the Bedine tongue, it should give her enough to put together a little more than the Common pidgin and avoid either creating offense or getting ripped off too heavily. She orders herself up a fairly standard outfit of caftan, sash, scarf, pantaloons, cloth boots, and banded hood in the light colors common to the settlement, along with a pair of glazed mica lenses to shield her eyes from the sun.

She feels immediately cooler beneath the sun as she ventures back forth, the artifact amulet safely nestled away against her skin beneath the silken layers of her new outfit. From there she locates a general store and replenishes her supplies, adding a face mask and a couple of extra waterskins to her kit; in lieu of water-creating magic or similar items, which she's clearly not going to find in a Bedine settlement, those will do to avoid near-death by dehydration, which has quickly climbed her list of priorities for some damn fool reason.

Her agenda continues as the days go on: She seeks out a cartographer or keeper of books, and tries to get a map or some sort of method of figuring out exactly where in the vicinity of Oghma's bleeding arse they are. Again, armed with little more than Common pidgin and the best understanding her subtle magic (and natural intellect) can supply, she's not exactly qualified to conduct a deep discussion, but she tries to ferret out the powers of the area, how often caravans come through, and whether or not any of them are slated to travel westward beyond the desert. Before agreeing to the deed requested by Gemwir in payment for a ride home, she needs to know if they even have any other options.

She also tries to learn a little more about the reputation of the area they're in. Any strange stories, bits of history, known dangers and odd denizens, or the like find a rapt audience in Leal, and while she makes sure to avoid any implications towards magic, she's skilled at reading between the lines and drawing facts from implications.

She'll stay with the rest of the party--if they want to stay on the ship, she will, and likewise if they wish to stay in the settlement. She'll insist on having any discussions about their plans discreetly in the settlement, however, as the group considers its next steps. Whether she agrees to Gemwir's request will depend on a number of things, including (as noted) the answers she gets to her searching here in town...
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby Kemian » Fri Jul 01, 2016 3:58 am

The first thing the big man did was get cleaned up and purchased an outfit both becoming local customs and traditions but more comfortable for the climate and the lenses to protect his eyes. Next he replaced his provisions and water skins refilled. He considered having his spiked chain enchanted in case they came up against creatures that could harm the chain itself but he simply could not bring himself to entrust something to an arcane magic user. He decided he would wait and have that done by a Cleric once they returned to Waterdeep.

He keeps an ear out for caravan schedules that might be a better way home than taking Gemwir's offer. Even taking the opportunity to try and make some inquires in the languages the he does speak. Arelliano is sure to ask after the local tales of heroism after all if you know a peoples hero's you know their character. Arelliano would prefer to stay in the settlement than on the ship.
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Fri Jul 01, 2016 5:08 pm

The ship has full facilities, though they may be a bit... tight for some. There is a bath chamber, running water, and a small store of foodstuffs Gemwir is happy to sell you.

Acquiring suitable attire isn't difficult and the Bedine merchants are versed well enough in Common to make the exchange easy, which may come as a surprise to some. Despite the isolated nature of their current locale, you find appropriate clothing costs less than you would have expected to pay for similar attire in Waterdeep. For those not native to the City of Splendors, it's a "that's more like it" sort of situation.

Maps, on the other hand, are not easy to come by. In fact, they are non-existent. Not more than a day in the tent city tells you it is a temporary, traveling thing, with no permantent stores or shops that can't be packed up quickly. A formal cartographer is nowhere to be found, however there is an historian, who is happy to recount tales of his people (for a nominal fee... Visiting him daily for the duration of your trip will cost 5g and earn you 2 ranks in Knowledge, Anauroch, even if knowledge is a cross-class skill). Those of you who will spend the time (and gold) to learn, can find out a bit about the area where you now find yourselves (PM me for more info. Gather Info checks are also appropriate for your investigation(s), feel free to PM those to me as well).

On first meeting the historian, one Zamir the Wiser, he tells you a tale for free, describing the region into which his people will be traveling...

"My people travel to the Sword, which sweeps around the southern part of Anauroch like the curved blade a Bedine warrior. It surrounds the other desert regions and provides a buffer between we and the Outer Lands. To enter Anauroch is to enter the Sword. It is a realm of dunes and dry heat, with only a few, widely scattered oases to provide the blessing of water."

That sounds a lot like where you just came from.

"Occasionally, one encounters the white, glaring crust of a salt pan, a scoured, pebble-covered plain, or barren, rocky mountains and hills (whose rumored-to-be gold-filled interiors often draw foolishly unprepared, soft, honorless outlander prospectors and miners) . . ."

He pauses, suddenly realizing what he said.

"...but for the most part, the Sword is an endless sea of sand. I caution you as well as this place in which you find yourselves, like much of the desert, is not always with my people." He leans forward when he says this: "Mind you the Black Robes. With this caution always in your mind, let me tell you briefly what a berrani must know of my people. Do not dislike them out of hand. Unlike outsiders, the Bedine are an open-minded people. They only react with hostility if they are angered. The Bedine always give berrani a chance to prove they can act with trustworthiness and honor. Most outsiders they encounter, however, are brigands and evil wizards, so a few among my people have a prejudice against pale-skinned strangers. In a way, however, this prejudice is a blessing. Because my people assume a stranger to be without honor (until he has proven otherwise), they usually allow him a chance to surrender should he anger them to the point of battle. No such offer is extended to another Bedine."

When asked about honor, he replies, "What constitutes honor? I should not have to describe what every child learns as easily as sand spills over a dune, but berrani can be dumber than cactus. Do not attempt to trick or steal from my people. Such actions are punishable by death. Also, avoid a Bedine tribe that is in water-pains. A Bedine does not refuse another water or food if he has it to give. But if he thirsts or hungers himself, he does not hesitate to kill to get sustenance. Lastly, if you are a practitioner in the foul arts of sorcery, do not display such base talents among the Bedine if you wish to keep your head. It was magic that made the desert, and we will not abide its use. Most Bedine tribes simply banish spellcasters - but not all are so kind. And do not depend on some outsider's notion of mercy. There is no exception to any tribal rule. The Bedine craven enough to use magic does so secretly, or is outcast, living alone in the desert - a punishment the tribes consider as good as death." He delivers the last with a smile.

You also do discover is that this place is not a common thoroughfare. You are somewhere north of the Sword. Caravans do not travel here, only the locals. In about a fortnight, these Bedines will be gone, moving south. Inquiring as to the reasons for their traveling gets mostly ignored, but Zamir mentions "Black Robes" once more. More information will require more effort on your part (GI rolls, specifically. Also, admittedly, Zamir's text is mostly lifted from already published materials).
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Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:33 pm

Despite growing a little less distrustful of the gnome Gemwir through trade and attendant interaction, Leal still thinks it would be both awkward and possibly a little rude to discuss the merits of his proposal on board his own ship. As such, she suggests the party have their discussion at one of the tent-inns in the Bedine encampment, ideally in a fairly discreet part of it.

Gemwir is busy on the ship, making adjustments to its instruments, currently. It's a small ship, the Swallow's Tear, but not made for small folk. It accommodates even Arelliano's size, just as it does the gnome's bear construct, which tends to do all the heavy lifting around the place. The mechanical owl has not been seen for some days, but the monkey is always underfoot. You have learned that it can sprout a pair of wings that grant it even greater mobility about the ship's rigging as it works to get the small craft in order. The Swallow's Tear is a little over 30 feet from stern to the tip of its bowsprit, leaving about 25-27 feet of usable deck space. The poop takes up about a quarter of that space, and the bow another quarter. That leaves 12-15 feet of center deck space, whereby the center of that gives access to the cargo area and the rest of the decks below. It looks to be made of many composite materials, some of them seem a bit otherworldly in nature. Perhaps your simple brush with death by exposure left your scrutiny to assume it was simply made of wood. It is certainly not.

Tonight the tent city is as active as ever.

Arelliano looked to the others to discuss their situation. "I have not been able to find out much regarding caravan's leading out of the desert.

Roxie agrees with Leal's assessment. "I haven't found much either."

The inn is busy, mostly full of pipe smoke and the soft twang of a string instrument.

Arellian continues, "And...while I understand the skepicism about the convenience of our host finding us and just happening to require something from us...I'm not sure our chances of making it back to Waterdeep on our own are very good."

You do not sit on chairs or tables, but upon thick, luxuriously designed carpets, with pillows to rest against. Before you simple foods are set, a thin almost pie-crust like ration of bread and dried meats, minced with all sorts of curious spices. The air is quite heady with them.

"I completely agree with that,” Roxie says.

Leal nods to Arelliano. She speaks quietly, sipping on something and enjoying the kaleidoscopic fragrance of the pipe smoke and the spices. "All of the information I found essentially takes us from bad to worse. This oasis actually belongs to the Zhentarim, and it seems like the encampment is prepared to move south to avoid them. Probably soon."

There are several different pastries, all of which have been filled with some sort of fig or date filling, and the raw fruits themselves are set in bowls, cool from being freshly washed.

She bites into a fruit, pausing to savor the flavor for a bit, and speaks again. "Unless we're prepared to follow the Bedine wherever they happen to go, and I don't necessarily get the sense we're even welcome to do that if we wanted to, our options appear to be to strike back out on our own--and try to avoid the Zhents in the process--or take Gemwir up on his offer and hope his task isn't one likelier to get us all killed than the desert. It sounds like we're all pretty much in agreement: the odds of his task killing us are at worst equal to the desert doing so."

"My only other concern would be how distasteful his task might be, and frankly, if it doesn't involve returning hospitality with treachery to our current hosts here--" She waves around at the tent, "--I can't see much room for it to be all that distasteful."

Roxie nods. Her attention seems torn between conversation and food. It's been a while since dining was such a treat. Trail rations are not exactly tasty.

"Truth be told, I'd rather die in battle than of thirst." Arelliano shuddered a little at the prospect

"So what do we know about this errand he needs us to do?" Roxie asks.

"Nothing." Arelliano added

Leal's with Roxie on this one, and after finishing her fruit, she dives into the pastries with as much propriety as her enjoyment of the exotic will allow her--with fig and date being less common (and commensurately more expensive) on the Sword Coast, she's going to take advantage while she can.

To Roxie's question, Leal nods to Arelliano. "What he said. Gemwir will tell us nothing until we agree to it."

"It can't be any worse than dying in the desert,” the Hin comments. "I also don't see how he gains anything from sending us to our deaths."

"Which, frankly,” Leal adds, “is where much of my distrust has come in. With his unwillingness to speak, it's likely either distasteful skullduggery, somewhat to hilariously dangerous, or both. Sending us to our certain deaths, unlikely. Sending us on a task likely to see most of us maimed or killed, but while fulfilling some goal of his, possibly moreso."

Zion listened to everyone so far and finally decided to speak," To say we have had a dangerously and hilarious time so far."

"It's still better than wandering around, lost in the desert,” Roxie notes.

"To be honest,” Arelliano says, “I don't get skullduggery from our host, the hilariously dangerous is more likely. And...its still better than trying to wade through the desert for Gods know how long and probably dying of thirst."

Leal nods to all three of them. "Don't get me wrong. It sounds like we all agree that our best chance of surviving and getting back to Waterdeep is through taking on Gemwir's task, and I'm with you all there. I just think a healthy dose of paranoia is also probably worthwhile until we have reason to discard it. And I likewise agree that danger is more likely than dishonor to be part of our undertaking."

"I thought paranoia was normal?” Roxie chimes in, “After that crazy wizard guy and those shapechanging devils, I think we've comce to expect the worse form everything. I don't know that we've been disappointed."

Zion nods in agreement with Roxie's statement

Arelliano chuckled. "I always expect the worst from people but that is more a survival mechanism than anything else. I think we are in agreement, we will accept Gemwir's task as it is the most likely way to survive this and get back to Waterdeep."

Leal smirks a little before plucking up another pastry. "Just making sure we're all on the same page there."

For the most part, the Bedine ignore you. But now and again, there is a look.

Arelliano looked to the others, "So shall we inform our host of our decision?"

Leal's paying attention--her comment earlier about not being welcome to follow the Bedine on their way was based on exactly those sorts of looks, and she's never pretended she was to entirely make herself at home here. With their meal drawing to a close and the party in accord, she looks to the others. "What say we head back to the ship and speak to Gemwir about his task, then?"

Roxie munches on fruit. "Yes, we should, after we're done eating."

Arelliano is certain to get his fill of dates and fig. And when the time came, he lead the way back to Gemwir's ship.

Zion was more than willing to follow along with Arelliano.

Roxie tags along.

Leal follows along with the others, of course.

You make your way out of the tent-city and into the night. A few hours later finds you traveling through an illusory wall to where Gemwir has secluded the Swallow's Tear. The gnome stands on the bow, looking up at the clear night sky through a multi-lensed contraption mounted on a wooden tripod. "Hello there," he chimes, without looking in their direction as they come aboard.

"Good evening." Leal greets the gnome in kind. "Looking for something in particular up there?"

"Always," the gnome replies.

“What is that?" Zion asks, looking at the thing the gnome was looking through.

"Are you getting ready to leave or something?" comes Roxie's question.

Arelliano simply watched and listened.

"Know much about Crystal Spheres?" the gnome queries.

Zion shakes his head negative

"Not so much." Leal shakes her head, her expression attentive.

The Captain stands up and turns to them. "Those stars there," he begins. "They say each and every one of them could be a crystal sphere, a place with a sun a moon and planets like Toril. D'you know what that is, a planet?"

Zion shakes his head, not knowing what to really believe here.

"Well,” the gnome continues, “all of Faerun, doesn't cover the whole of the planet Toril." He turns back to the device. "This telescope," he adds, "helps me study them." He adjusts it ever-so-slightly. "Here, have a look." He steps back and allows them each a chance.

Roxie climbs up, first if no one beats her to it.

Through the lens, which works well for her to view with her height, she spies something.

Zion watches Roxie go first to see what her reaction will be.

Roxie peers into the telescope. "What is that?" she asks the gnome.

"That, my dear, is one of the Five Wanderers, traveling the great Sea of Night." He smiles, tucking a hand into his belt. "Now, let your friends see."

Roxie steps back. "Next?"

Zion glances at Arelliano and shrugs his shoulders, as if to say"I have no idea what is being said here!"

Leal steps up and peers into the lens.

"Fascinating." She stares raptly for a long moment, before remembering herself and offering a view to one of the others. "I wonder what makes it green."

Arelliano looks into the lense once Roxie and Zion have.

After Arell looks through the lense, Zion will take his chance to see what is going on

"Oh that's quite a curiousity, my dear!" Gemwir says excitedly. "Some think there may even be forests there! On a star!" He shakes his head, but is clearly excited at the idea.

Leal smiles contemplatively, the gnome's enthusiasm about the subject proving contagious.

"How far away is it?" Roxie, ever curious.

The Captain proceeds to discuss at length the math involved at calculating the answer to her question and says, "Closer than anything else in the sky, save Selune."

Leal tries to process the math, and eventually descends to making some notes in her little journal to look up later on.

"Has anyone been there?" Roxie again.

"Been there??" the gnome blinks. "No one I've ever met!" he laughs. "There are tales, though, lass," he adds. "But I'm no so good at that sorta yarn." He leans back against the deck rail comfortably. "So, now that you're back. How was yer visit with the sand folk?"

Arelliano looked dubious but did not interrupt.

"They have some delicious food out there,” Roxie reports.

"They spin good tales of the desert's history and lay a fine spread." Leal nods. "Hospitable enough, though one never quite forgets they're an outsider among them."

"Nor should they," he says with a finger. It seems his thing. "Ye must've been right respectful, an' they respect that, aye." He nods over to Gary, whose metal mouth raises at the hinges in what looks like a grin.

After looking through the lenses, he shakes his head in disbelief, a little bit of wonder as he looks up at the sky and then he settles down to listen to the others speak.

"So..." the Captain continues. "Now what?"

"So what is this task that you have for us?" Roxie asks.

At almost the same time, Leal says, "Well, we've spoken amongst ourselves, and as a group agreed to help with your endeavor."

Arelliano nodded in agreement with the others.

Zion nods in agreement.

"Gond bless ye then," Gemwir grins broadly. "Y'see it's like this: The Tear and I," he pats the deck rail, "We're old friends. And well, we've seen a lot o' miles. Yet, I put her together with bits an' pieces I could find after years and years of lookin'. An' I still do. It's what I do. Ages ago, skyships traveled abundantly throughout Faerun." He looks to Roxie, "Some say the elves and the ancients of Kara-Tur even did navigate the Sea of Night with them, aye!" He shrugs. "I've no proof of such a thing, no, nor do I fancy myself such an explorer. But I'm always lookin' for ways to improve this ol' tub!" He pats the deckrail again, almost petting it.

"So you need us to go get you something for your ship?" the Hin guesses.

Gemwir continues, "An' so tales tell me a rather large skyship crashed near the ruins of Orofin, then Orolin, which rose after the fall of Asram thousands of years passed."

Zion waits patiently as the Gnome speaks.

"I'm not quite sure even if there's anything to find, lass, to be honest,” Gemwir admits. “It is said that near this ruin once lived a great Formian colony, but their queen was destroyed, and there are only remnants, deep beneath the sands." He begins pacing as he continues his story. "For a long time I investigated these rumors. But I could not discover the 'where' exactly. Until recently."

"What changed?" Arelliano asked.

"Ghondalaath," the Captain replies, stopping and about-facing, his shiny boots turning expertly at Arelliano. "The Great Blue Wyrm. Long ago he destroyed the Formians and pillaged what treasures lie in Orofin and Heroes' Helm. Now, unsated, he has made his lair atop the Pillar of Tauros, far from here, in the Plain of the Standing Stones."

Zion frowns hearing the words "The Great Blue Wyrm"

The gnome continues, "In other words, the dragon is gone, forsaking this lair for another, better one. Our chances are best to act now before the denizens of the Underdark realize it is gone and reclaim the depths beneath.

"So you think there may still be something left after a great wyrm has been there?"

"I do," he nods, "Because what use is a ship to a dragon?" Total gnome-logic.

The large man grimaced at the gnomes words. So the task was to investigate an 'abandoned' dragon's lair....yeah nothing could possibly go wrong there.

Zion's frowning has not stopped yet.

Roxie returns with cool logic, "What use are gold coins? A dragon can't go to town and spend them. But they still like them for some reason. If there's a skyship there, I'm sure a dragon could have found a use for it."

"You could be quite right, in fact, my dear," Gemwir shrugs. "But for some reason, I've a hunch!" He grins knowingly.

Leal considers this. It seems like 'hilariously dangerous' was in the cards after all, though the possibility of 'benign' is still tantalizingly on the table. She speaks. "So if we're not sure what would have been left behind, what sorts of things would we be looking for, aside from an entire ship, which I'd hope would be rather obvious? Research, components?"

"Precisely!" the gnome points a finger at Leal. "What dragon would care for a captain's log? A rudder? A proper helm?" He points at his own, which is definitely in need of repair, despite its refined nature.

Leal nods. "I mean, worst case, the dragon blew up or took the ship." That is not the worst-case, of course, but she leaves that aside for the moment. "It's big and shiny after all. But there might be other items to be found, perhaps even items that any looters who happened to beat us there might have left behind."

"Mundane things, I'm sure," Gemwir continues. "I do not say it will be without danger," he notes, "But it is unlikely much beyond vermin remains at this juncture. For now, at least." He sighs, "I do not expect you to enter this course of action without proper compensation, either," he adds. "Or, there is a trade route along the way. I can drop you there, though far be it from me to know the schedules of such goings-on hereabouts. Meaning the likelihood of passers-by." He steps down to the main deck and looks out into the direction he would head. "Although there was a bit of conversation about Zhents, if you hadn't heard."

Roxie almost looks disappointed. Exploring an abandoned dragon's lair does sound like fun.

"We could check it out, right?" Roxie sounds hopeful.

Leal's expression takes on an odd countenance at his last statements, as she rolls them around in her head, but she seems to set any thoughts aside for the moment. Maybe it's the gnome's enthusiasm, or the fantastic nature of the things they're tasked to look for, she almost seems like she's talking herself into this. "I have to say, I'm intrigued by the prospect myself." She looks to the two men and their silent frowns.

Zion sighs," I suppose it shall have to be done sooner then later. Since I've met you two , I've been following ye booth."

Roxie jumps up all happy. "Yay! We're going!"

Gemwir looks last to Arelliano.

Arelliano nodded. 'Yes it would appear so."

Zion glances at Arelliano to see what's his thoughts are, and hearing him speak, he could only nod in agreement with the large man.

Leal shakes her head to Zion. "I don't play at dragging anyone along by a leash here. I'm intrigued, but not such that I would force an unwilling majority along with me."

"The original assessment holds," Arelliano says stoically. "This is the most likely course to Waterdeep."

The gnome turns puppy-dog-eyes in Zion's direction. The monkey mimics.

Zion chuckles at Leal,"No one is forcing me."

"So where is this lair again?” Roxie asks, “Are we crawling through the desert again?"

Gemwir claps his hand like a giddy little school boy. "Funtastink!" he says excitedly. "We leave just before dawn! I need time to get enough altitude to clear us over the top of the Zhent patrol, to guarantee they will not see us simply due to our altitude! Also," he puts his hand to one side of his mouth, "Not so hot higher up."

Leal nods to Arelliano in agreement at that, then to Zion she smiles, though the mens' stoic receipt of the request has tempered her enthusiasm somewhat back towards the seriousness the situation warrants. "Fair enough, my friend."

"The sand was parted by the great dragon some miles outside of the city ruins,” Gemwir explains, “where it dove into the very depths of the Anauroch and destroyed the Formian queen, whereby he could loot Orofin at his leisure. It is there we enter and see what we may see."

With that, he finishes the preparations for departure while the party gets some well-deserved sleep.

In the pre-dawn hours you are awoken by the mechamonkey Gary. Once on deck, the Captain gives you each a task in turn.

Zion awaits orders since he's never worked on a ship before.

"You!" Gemwir points at Zion. "There!" he points to the crow's nest. "Be our eyes, won't ye?"

Arelliano make certain the rope lines are tied down properly and keeps and eye out for tangles and potential problems with the rigging.

Roxie follows Gemwir around, hoping to learn how this thing works.

The crows' nest sits about 18' above the main deck on the mainmast of this two-masted ship. It's an odd design, its bottom is narrow but deep, and it simply hovers above ground when not traveling.

"Hoist anchor you!" he points at Arelliano, then to a large wheel that looks like it can be pushed around in order to do just that.

Not afraid of heights or climbing, Zion smiles. "Aye, Captain," and away he goes like a monkey after a banana up a tree.

Once in place a Zion relaxes and looks around.

Arelliano sets to work pulling the anchor up as directed.

The Captain looks to Roxie. "Hoist the mainsall!" And points to a lever that looks easy enough to operate.

Roxie skips over to the level he's pointing to and pulls it.

"On the boom now, lass," the Captain points at Leal, then to the forward mast. "We'll have our best wind if ye sets it easterly." He then in very clear layman's terms explains exactly what that is.

Leal nods and sets to doing precisely as instructed. She's never been a sailor, but she gets the concept pretty quickly.

With that he pulls his own levers and all of your guts are suddenly in your feet.

"Wooohoooooo!" the gnome cries! You could swear you hear the metal bear groan.

Leal cackles with delight as she does her part to fly the ship, nimbly using the ropes and mast to keep her balance like someone who's totally not on her first airship ride.

You launch into the sky as the sun rises to your right (starboard). The front end of the ship dips a little but you have no problems maintaining your footing as the speed of the thing holds you in place! The wind runs over you and gets cooler the higher you climb. It's quite exhilarating.

Gemwir too, is still laughing behind you.

Roxie grabs hold of a railing and hangs on, enjoying the flight.

You see the tent city shrink beneath you and the desert of the Anauroch takes on a new shape. You can see clearly just how vast the Sword is behind you, and the Plains of Standing Stones beyond an obsidian range of ominous-looking peaks, which looms before you as you climb higher and higher. Your ears change with the pressure and some of you might experience a bit of light-headedness. Gemwir doesn't seem to notice. His goggles are down, and he pilots the ship skillfully. After a time, the large metal bear raises up on its haunches and plods forward, taking the Captain's place at the helm. Now, you just might have seen everything. Gemwir goes about showing each of you the workings of the Tear, at least its conventional workings. He tells you all you're now officially part of his crew. He calls the bear his First mate and the monkey his Quartermaster. Still no sign of the owl.

With the wind whipping through Zion's hair, it reminds him of on top of the highest buildings in Waterdeep, making him a bit home sick.

Leal's logical mind is committing all the details to memory. How the ship works, the ominous obsidian mountains that break up the desert, the fact that increasing in altitude apparently makes the air harder to breathe. She hopes that last one doesn't too heavily affect her ability to recall the first two later.

Despite its small size, the Swallow's Tear is not a particularly fast ship. In fact, after its initial ascent, it verily plods along. Now perhaps you understand the gnome's interest in ... upgrades. There are only a few minor malfunctions the gnome and his mechanical aids take care of as you continue on. It takes the better part of the day to near your destination.

Leal points off to the jagged gash in the desert. "That's...certainly a thing that happened to the landscape."

You all see it, but Leal sees it first: a giant chasm in the middle of the desert. It is like the land beneath it fell inward and created a deep pit. It's perhaps a hundred yards in its most wide, though its diameter is jagged...

"Keep your eyes sharp!" the Captain calls, "To the desert floor undt to the skies!" You begin your descent, which takes nearly an hour! As your altitude decreases, the heat becomes more and more palpable, and the air more unstable. The ride down is slow and bumpy, and sometimes the ship lurches and shudders in the swirling hot currents of air. However, you notice, that your Captain is not merely settling for setting the ship down some ways away from the jagged pit, but descending *into* it!

Roxie gets a tight grip on the railing.

"Well that will keep the ship concealed for the curious,” Arelliano comments, “ will also make leaving in a hurry damned near impossible but there are always trade-offs in life.”

Any control Leal has over this descent (even if it's just holding on to something) is suddenly exercised with white-knuckled precision.

"It" is like the stone maw of the Anauroch itself. As you near it, you can see its edges are like shards of glass! They have been violently blasted and the sand melded to the stone, shining brilliantly in the sun in a plethora of multi-faceted angles!

Zion simply stares around as they descend. seeing the catastrophe that has happened from before, makes it a humbling sight to see.

The big man raised an eyebrow at that. "Glass.." he said mystified..."I didn't see that coming."

Whatever it is that caused this massive wound in the very stone of the desert is long gone. What once might have been razor-sharp edges have rounded and smoothed with time, and as you descend over the edge the light bounces off everything, its spectra creating a million rainbows that bathe you all in radiance....

"Glorious..." Gemwir whispers.

Roxie just stares in awe at the pretty lights. "Why would any dragon want to leave this?"

The front of the ship tilts yet again and whatever it is that powers it elicits a soft whine that turns into a low hum, echoing off the walls of the caverns in which you now find yourselves. The edges of this place you can see literally thousands of trails in the very stone, all orderly and well-made, but then sheared off by this might blast.... Then, suddenly it opens to a grand canyon perhaps a hundred or so feet from the surface! Light refracting from above bathes the cavern walls but the floor beneath you, you cannot see. The canyon stretches before you, and the tunnels align alongside of it, though some of them are crumbled and everywhere the signs of disuse. Occasionally, the marks of great claws can be seen.

"Gary," Gemwir whispers, "Lights."

From beneath the deckrails of the ship, spotlights shine out in fixed positions to scan the areas before and around you.

Leal shivers almost by reflex as the ship descends. The tableau before her is beautiful, but it also signifies descent into a realm she has less than zero experience with outside the stories her brother frightened her with as a child...

As you descend, the heat of the desert is left behind you, and ahead, the darkness that is Anauroch's Underdark...
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Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Wed Jul 13, 2016 10:27 pm

The Grand Illusion, Part 2: The Caves of Dorion

The engine (engines?) of the Swallow's Tear hum softly as you continue to descend slowly, very slowly, into the tremendous system of smartly organized caves and tunnels. "Dorion," Gemwir says softly.

Roxie looks around as they descend into the cave. "Nice place. So you say it's deserted?"

"It's a fair assumption," he says with a sideways glance. "Big Blue has been gone barely a week or two. Only those in the know know he's not coming back."

"Who or what is Dorion?" Leal speaks softly, almost at a whisper, mostly out of reflex as they descend towards the Underdark.

He turns to Leal. "The former capital of the greatest formian colony on Faerun. "The queen and all of her Myrmarchs were destroyed by the dragon, according to my sources," he continues. "I will be honest, it is entirely possible we run across a scouting party or two, who were not present in the area during the time which the dragon laired here. Ever encountered a formian?" he asks them.

Leal nods at that, looking out over the bow at the cave system before them and taking a few notes in the fading light. She shakes her head at Gemwir. "I have not."

"I haven't," the hin admits.

The gnome shrugs. "I doubt many coastal folk have," he remarks. "Know what they are, even?"

Up in the crow's nest, Zion watches quietly as they descend.

"Only in the broadest sense," Leal replies. "I know they're from the realms outside, and they're supposed to be...insectile?" That's posed almost as a question. " form and behavior, but they were never the focus of any of my primary reading."

Roxie shakes her head no.

"Most simply put," he explains, "Is that they're basically ant-folk. They share a single mind, when close enough to one another. I personally have yet to determine just how close that need be."

"Giant ant folk?" asks the hin.

"Well, most of 'em aren't so giant lass," he answers. "Workers are a bit smaller than you or I. Their Myrmachs and Queens, however..." He makes a face that show both his teeth and his trepidation at the same time. "Giant indeed."

"Fascinating. And shared consciousness as well..." Leal jots down a few more notes before finally tucking away her little notebook. "Are they...well, more or less benign?"

"Hive mind. I think that's what it's called."

"They are single-minded," he continues as they descend even further. "They protect their own from any that are different. I don't personally have much experience with them," he adds. "But I've heard that most times they look to their queen to decide the fate of interlopers. If she be benign, then yes is the answer to your question. However, only Gond knows what they will do without a queen to tell them." He shrugs again, but seems unconcerned.

She nods at that, a little concerned by the response but taking her cue from someone who appears to know substantially more about them than she does.

The Captain narrows his eyes. "Hmph," he noises.

"Hm?" Leal makes a soft noise of questioning as she glances around for anything out of the ordinary...well, ordinary for this place, at least.

Roxie looks over the edge of a railing to see what's beyond the ship.

The chasm before you has collapsed some distance ahead. Now you must descend if you wish to travel further. The lights fall faintly upon the cavern floor, some hundred feet below.

"Should we climb down and check this place out?" Ever curious, Roxie.

The ship is still descending, though the cavern seems block ahead, there is room to go down.

Zion is still looking around the chasm as the descend slowly from his vantage point in the crow's nest.

As you continue, the clockwork owl appears on the deckrail near Gemwir, silently alighting with a glint of metal in the darkness. "There you are, Ellowyn."

Leal continues checking out the surroundings, letting the captain pilot the ship as he sees fit.

There is a whirr and several soft clicks from the effigy. Gemwir nods. "Good news, then," he replies. With that, he sets a lever forward and holds the wheel steady. Mere moments later, you are floating above the cavern floor, the ship's gangplank automatically extending with the sliding and thunking of a metal device setting itself into place. The Swallow's Tear isn't a very stealthy ship. So far.

Seeing the gangplank extend out the ship, Zion figures they will be departing the ship very soon. With that thought in mind, he climbs out of the crow's nest and nimbly climbs his way down the ship's mast.

"First let's set a perimeter," Gemwir says, motioning to Barry, who then moves to descend the gangplank.

Roxie is already set with her gear. She's ready to go.

As you see the landing site, ahead of you the cavern has collapsed in from the top, leaving a space ahead most of you can crawl through. Arelliano may have a bit of trouble, and Barry certainly isn't fitting. Behind you, remnants of the cave-in ascend above in the direction from whence you came for as far as you can see.

Leal is likewise bundled together and ready to depart, grabbing her walking stick at the last.

As Barry is doing whatever, Zion takes his Composite long bow off is back where it was strapped. He strings it and then pulls an arrow out of his quiver and notches it to his bow string. It doesn't hurt to be prepared for anything, especially when they're in an underground cavernous city of some sort.

Around the ship, there is perhaps a hundred feet in diameter fallout of the cave-in ahead. The fact that the ship hovers above the ground leaves it unaffected by the uneven terrain. You have to pay special attention to your footing here.

Roxie has her unique light source handy. She has a necklace with the skull of some small creature as a big amulet. On the skull is a continual flame spell.

Leal's balance is pretty good, which she's thankful for as she heads down the gangplank to the cavern floor and gets a sense of her surroundings. Using her stick to push off of any steep, slick, or sharp points, she follows along in scouting out a perimeter, using Roxie's light for the moment to see by--but with her own at the ready if she needs it.

Roxie walks over to where they'll be crawling through the rocks and takes a peak.

Gemwir takes a bit of time putting on his rather large pack (which looks to be overflowing with things), and a bit more doing what looks like warding the ship. Barry returns to the deck, and Ellowyn perches upon the bedroll tightly wound at the top of the gnome's backpack. As soon as Gemwir steps off, the gangplank is retracted and the Tear floats up into the darkness.

"Don't want any strangers findin' 'er, do we?" he says with a grin, pulling a pair of red-lensed gogles down over his eyes as the ship cuts its light and everything goes dark.

Zion follows behind his three companions while keeping an eye out for any trouble.

Arelliano, of course, takes the lead. His frown is readily apparent as he eyes the dimensions of the small space they all must enter to continue forward.

"Ell says it opens up a bit, in a ways," Gemwir offers.

Leal blinks at the sudden darkness, even though she expected it would happen eventually. She stops long enough to let her eyes adjust a bit to the sharp reduction in light, presuming that Roxie's necklace is still casting a little light by which to see... And only then does she follow along, once she can make out the somewhat treacherous footing without the risk of spraining an ankle or something equally dumb.

Frown still in place, Arelliano has to go to a knee to even begin to consider negotiating the small passage.

Roxie can go next since she has the light. She is able to easily navigate tiny spaces.

The big man offers his thanks for the light.

Leal looks to Roxie, then lets the halfling go next--that makes total sense. She follows thereafter, preferring to be behind the light rather than ahead of it.

Roxie probably only has to duck her head slightly to fit through, but Arlelliano eventually has to lie flat and move forward on his elbows...

Zion will take the rear gaurd for his three friends

Gemwir follows after Leal, Ell moving to his arm, and his pack, though higher than his own head, seems not to interfere with his movement through the small space. The clockwork owl begins to glow softly along her tailfeathers.

Leal is short for a human. Not halfling-short by any stretch, but short enough that she can potentially crouch low and suffer through the burning in her knees and back as she follows behind the others.

Zion crawls in after the Captain taking care to not bump his head against the rocky crawl space

Roxie holds up her light and looks around.

What surrounds you is a naturally-made crawlspace created by the cave in. Some of the edge of the stone are sharp, however, definitely formed by the hand of ... something.

Arelliano's form blocks any of your ability to see what lies ahead.

Leal runs one gloved hand gently over one of the sharp edges, and whispers. " they have claws?"

"Aye," Gemwir affirms from behind. "But this is not their work." He traces the edge. "Remnants of something above. A bridge, perhaps?" he wonders, then follows on.

"Looks like we're almost through," Arelliano says from the fore. A subtle change in the owl's tail lights confirms this.

Roxie continues onward, being possible the only one easily walking through this cave.

The big man takes to his feet at last. "Thank the gods," he says, finally standing.

After some grumbling and muttering in Rashemi, Zion is able to stand up to join the others.

As you exit the crawlspace, you find yourself on the edge of a cliff. Facing forward, the wall of the chasm looms on the left, inky darkness and unknown depths on the right. The space to walk is not much more than a half dozen feet wide, but it is purposefully made. The path on which you walk was made to be there.

Roxie leans up against the wall.

She breathes deeply, letting the life come back into her legs, and then she pauses to listen for the sound of moving air, trying to get a sense through sound and sense of space of just how vast the chasm to their left might be.

Not afraid of the cliff's edge, Zion stands there and awaits for the others to decide what and where they are going. He has his arrow reconnected to the bowstring yet again.

Leal likewise waits on Roxie to lead the way forward, hoping there's a little more space on which to stand further ahead.

Roxie was liking the idea of the big guy being in front, and noticed there was no airflow to speak of.

Arelliano moves forward. He holds a finger to his lips. "There's an opening here," he whispers.

Roxie nods and follows.

Arelliano turns back at what looks to be a doorway of some sort, shrugging.

Leal blinks as she looks around, then sidles back closer to the gnome, listening intently for a moment.

"There was a noise," she whispers. "Not sure where from." Leal looks around some more. "Stay clear of that thing for a bit."

Arelliano does as instructed, stepping back slowly and carefully.

Zion frowns as he watches Leal, and then nods to her whispering,"I hear a faint clicking noise. I presumed it was the owl though at first."

Roxie takes a moment to cast something on herself. She hasn't heard anything but everyone else is making her a bit jumpy.

Zion's frown stays fro a bit, and then shaking his head,"It's gone now. I can't hear it anymore."

That causes the big man to bring out the ol' chain.

Leal nods to Zion. "I heard it too, yeah, and thought the same thing at first, but the owl's silent. So I'm not sure." And then she looks to the others. "Check out the stains. I'm thinking this was where the old inhabitants ditched their waste. Through the port up ahead and into the pit here." She indicates the door.

Leal considers a moment. "Maybe I'm being paranoid again. But let's be very careful here."

"So we're walking through the sewers of an ancient city?" Roxie wonders aloud.

"Sure seems that way. As reasonable an explanation as anything else."

"Agreed," Gemwir nods. A few arcane words from him as well. More than one spell.

The moments go by. Nothing seems to happen. Arelliano peeks around the corner.

"At least it doesn't smell as bad as the sewers back home," Roxie offers.

"Indeed." Leal nods...and as nothing continues to happen for several long moments, Leal's tension level starts to drop just a little. "Maybe push on ahead, slowly?"

"Onward, then," Gemwir motions, moving up behind Arelliano, who moves into the passageway. The edges of the doorway are carved by what look like small chisels. The walls are almost smooth, but the marks of remain.

Roxie keeps an eye out for anything else down here with us, but so far sees nothing. She follows along.

Zion shrugs and follows behind the others as they proceed forward

Leal follows along behind Arelliano as well, her stance slouched and coiled, eyes as keen as they can be in this low light.

Arelliano turns back to you, "There is a passage to the left, and what looks like a room before us. Which way?" He looks at Gemwir who shrugs. When the big man looks pointedly at the owl, he replies, "She went on down the cavern ahead to make sure there weren't any other dragons." The scowl from the big man is visible even in the low light.

"What?" the gnome shrugs.

"So there's a room ahead or a passageway to theleft?"

The big man nods towards the room ahead. Indicating the way he is inclined to go but shrugs as if to say. If everyone wants to go left, he'll go left.

Gemwir nods, following Arelliano.

"I don't exactly care for leaving an unexplored passage behind us to block our escape, but I'll follow the group."

"I think we should check the room, first," she whispers. Roxie will shine her light down the passage to see how far it goes, or how far the light goes.

"One passage to could lead to more passages, and we might have enemies at our backs with the room ahead," Arelliano whispers.

Gemwir is studying everything under the pale light emitted by Ellowyn's tailfeathers. He produces a set of lenses from his person and sets their gold circlet on his head. Theses lenses, about 20 of them, seem adjustable to almost any sort of position.

Zion keeps his eyes looking around behind the group , keeping watch while something is decided.

"Definitely formian build," Gemwir notes, literally. A small charcoal nib and paper float at his chest, taking his dictation. "If I had to say, this was most certainly a chute for waste disposal." He points to the floor, which you notice has a slight incline to it as you move further in.

Arelliano moved slowly another 15 feet to the entrance of the room he had spotted. He does not step inside.

"Fair point." Leal nods to Arelliano. She glances to the others making observations, especially Roxie, to see if she notes anything to confirm going one way or the other as the better route. "It applies equally to both directions, so it's probably a wash."

Roxie also has a light source.

Arelliano takes several minutes scanning the room for trouble and looking around his immediate area for traps.

What Arelliano sees as Gemwir pulls up behind him is the main garbage chute. There are bits of all sorts of things about the place. At the far wall what look like a pair of chutes leading above but he can't quite make it out in the dark. He takes a very, very long time looking about here. A very long time. There are bones and the like, but most of it is food waste. The bones look recently... ravaged.

"Formians aren't much known for traps, son," Gemwir mentions. "But far be it from me not to err on the side of caution."

Leal moves on up behind Arelliano and the gnome to find out what's taking so long in examining the room, but can't quite see past the big guy. "What do we have up here?"

Roxie is also behind them.

Her head darts towards the left, looking down the passage. She whispers to Roxie. "Send some light back down the passage there, quickly."

The gnome doesn't seem bothered by the pace, his comment is a remark made absently as he continues to study the walls of the place. "Incredible," he comments.

Roxie holds a light up to look down the passage again.

As the hin shines her light down the tunnel, the bulbous head of some strange creature moves rapidly in their direction. It must have a hundred legs! It must be some sort of giant centipede? The growths about its shiny black carapace and twisted mandibles make it look otherworldy, fiendish, even! Like no centipede you've ever seen! You'v got the drop on it though as it seems to shy momentarily from the light!

It's bulk barely fits in the tunnel, and all of its legs contact some sort of surface, be it the walls or the floor, and it launches itself toward Leal!

Since she has a perfect line of sight on it, Roxie casts a spell and sends a beam of fire at it.

The big man hisses "Of course there's an enemy in the open hallway." follows that up with a series of curses in Giant.

But somehow despite the creature filling the hall, it still manages to dodge the beam. Roxie then falls back to let someone else deal with the big bug.

The hin's ray of flame hits the stone as it hesitates just a bit and avoids the attack.... Now, it's Arelliano's turn!

Zion lets anyone that needs to, to pass by him so he and Arel can take care of the bug.

Arelliano quickly enters the hallway getting close enough to loose his spiked chain on the beast. His spiked chain hit solidly and pulls away peices of the beast but with the hard carapace not nearly as much as he might have.

Something drives the big man to step to the side a bit and try to make it easier for his compatriots to help him not get 100 centiped boots in his arse...

Leal quickly flips the walking stick to her right hand, and suddenly a slim, char-black stick appears in her left, its amber gemstone flaring with golden fire as she calls forth, and sends a lance of ruby flame past Arelliano towards the vermin, blistering heat washing past the bigger man in its wake.

On the plus side, the beam lances across the centipede, spraying it with ruby flame and catching it alight, brilliantly illuminating the entire tunnel! On the minus side, whatever foul taint has infested it has rendered it nigh-immune to her attack, its carapace simply smoldering a little under the immense heat, so now Arreliano simply faces a giant centipede that's on fire.

"What in Oghma's actual flaming ridiculousness?" She gawps for a moment at the sheer ineffectiveness of her flames, then shifts backwards to make room for Zion.

Zion moves past Roxie and Leal,He growls and shouts at Arel,"Watch out, arrow coming through!", he takes aim and fires away

"I don't even want to know what tainted freakishness is involved with this thing." She mutters as she slips the black-charred stick into her belt holster, and slips out the copper one in its stead as she calls to Roxie. "No more fire! I'm trying lightning next."

The arrow flies true and hits the Bug, but it's carapace still protects it from any damage to it!!

To be continued...
Posts: 245
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:46 pm

Re: The Grand Illusion

Postby A.J. » Tue Jul 19, 2016 11:18 pm

This creature has a single-minded nature, and simply tries to eat Arelliano as it barrels down the hall...

The big man, however, manages to both halt its advance as well as dodge the mandibles dripping with ichor...

Roxie takes a small step forward so she can see down the hall again, then casts a spell. A dagger made of solid ice appears in thin air and flies towards the creature. And apparently Roxie can't hit the broadside of a barn. Or in this case a creature filling the entirety of the hall.

She does pull out her dagger at this point, just in case it's needed.

Arelliano, took a 5 ft step back and launched the chain at the creature.

Leal cranes around the corner with her slim copper rod, and chants a few words of barely-restrained eldritch power as a bolt of ruby-azure lightning arcs from rod towards the monstrous creature in the tunnel! Barely waiting to see the results of her labor, she then spins and moves back into the chamber behind the party to try and give everyone more room to maneuver.

Arelliano lays into the chitinous shell of the centipede, but its many layers leave it damaged, yet not as much as he'd like!

Leal's arc of coruscating lightning glances down the side of the beast, doing little more than pitting and charring its chitinous hide. She growls as she moves into the back room, muttering, "By Oghma's eyes, are these wands defective, or just that weak?"

Zion sees that the tight quarters make it hard to fight efficiently, so he yells," I'm moving back ,Arelliano. See if we can coax back to where we came from so we both can attack it.". He then moves back and awaits for the big man to do what he can do net. He also pulls out his Bastard Sword when he is done moving to prepare for battle

"Umm there's more room north!" Arelliano recommends.

"We can all attack from all sides then!" Zion replies. "If it attacks the mages, we are hitting it from the back and front then and might be able to hurt it better than we are now!", it makes sense to Zion, but you can always wonder what the spiritfolk is thinking sometimes.

The creature hooks its mandible into the Big Man's shoulder, its ichorous venom instantly shooting through his coursing blood... He might scream, depending on just how much pain he's felt before in his life...

Arelliano lets out a howl in pain cursing in Giant.

As Arelliano retreats, so does the bug move forward, the Big Man's blood joins the multitudes of stains on the stone beneath your feet.

Roxie runs into the big room to the north. "Excuse me, coming through!"

Arelliano tumbled away from the creature towards the North room. Zion could hit the thing from behind.

The party begins retreating to a more strategically defensible area...

Leal sidles backwards a little further, slowly, and keeps her wands at the ready. Ambient heat and fitful sparks sputter from each of the slim battle-magic rods as she presses tight against the wall, out of ready sight of the entryway, waiting for someone to draw a target into the room for her to deal with.

His Adrenaline starts pumping and he steps into the hallway ready to attack the centipede depending on which way it goes. (move 5 feet and ready to attack with Bastard Sword))

The creature barrels after Arelliano!

Leal chants again, her focus apparently much stronger now that she's out of the tight quarters of the tunnel, and the after-flare is shockingly bright as dagger-sharp edges of crimson and sapphire arc wildly from the end of her copper rod, reducing several of the foul creature's chitinous plates to smoking slag.

The huge centipede turns and charges the big man, despite the bits and pieces of it that Leal blasts off in a flash of light that leaves its mark across your vision... Once again it tries to tear into the meatiest morsel in front of it!

This time it clamps on his leg, and blood runs immediately thereafter... it tries to wriggle the limb off, much to Arelliano's dismay!

Roxie steps back and begins casting.

Arelliano grunted in pain, he wasn't looking great... Then he shouted Loudly in Giant; a mighty war cry and let fly his Spiked Chain! Arelliano's chain launches hitting and peeling back several legs from the beast.

Smelling blood (or ichor, or whatever this thing has in its veins), Leal tries to keep the pressure on, repeating her chant as she aims her copper rod at the already-injured segments of the creature...

The creature shudders and makes odd clicking noises as it drips its life essence mixed with the stains of blood and refuse all about. Gemwir continues examining the chutes above. "Fascinating," he echoes again.

The blast of electricity from Leal sizzles over the the rear of the creature, assuring its sundering from top to bottom! The thing's shell bubbles and pops grotesquely!

Zion moves forward 15 feet and swings his sword with both hands on the pommel to ensure the greatest hit against it. The swings bites into the back end of the bug, basically cutting it's ass off, and it seems to do the job of finishing it off for good this time!

Its life ichor flows out onto the floor, and then it screeches and falls inert and silent.

Arelliano spits on the creature in frustration, hissing again in Giantish.

"Curious," Gemwir notes, glancing at the dying insect, but moving toward the northeast passage.

"Is everyone okay?" Zion asks as he looks to see if he can squeeze past the centipede.

Arelliano utters a command word from his bracelet and his wounds begin to knit and heal.

Leal remains tensed for one more silent moment, her breath held as she mentally prepares to cast again...and then she exhales as she realizes the foul monstrosity is down for good. She slips her unused fire-stick into her belt sheath, but keeps the copper rod out for the moment in case something else appears--and because the thing is frickin' hot. She looks to Arelliano, giving him a once-over. "It looks like it treated you pretty roughly there. I know the little ones carry some venom that stings like the hells. Are you okay, or do you need some help?"

Roxie stares at the thing and breathes a sign of relief when it stops moving. "That was close."

"I don't have any antivenom," Leal comments, "but I could try for some kind of poultice with the stuff in my pack."

Arelliano suddenly howls in pain and collapses under his own weight stumbling

Zion squeezes past the bug and enters the room and sees Arelliano falls over.

"Apparently...the big ones carry poison too," Arelliano said weakly.

Roxie rummages through her own pockets. "I don't think I have anything for poison."

"Oghma's blood." Leal moves to Arelliano quickly to try and ease the big man's fall to the floor, then begins rummaging in her pack for bandages and whatever salves and ointments she can muster--which isn't much, but just might be better than nothing.

"I have some potions of healing, but I don't know if that will help,......will it ?" Zion comes over to do what he can to help.

" poison," Arelliano states flatly.

"No," Leal shakes her head to Zion. "From what little I know of this stuff, the poison will attack him internally in a way that surface-level healing doesn't deal with. The only thing I can do is try to find a mix of junk in my kit that will draw the poison out of his bloodstream or, far less likely, neutralize it."

"That's still a lot more than I can do," Roxie comments. "I'm no healer."

Leal mutters a curse as she digs through spell components and skin-soothing ointments bought at the oasis, trying to remember her basic alchemy. "Neither am I. Better something than nothing, though."
Arelliano grimaced and stood slowly getting back to his feet. "I will...recover...I am starting to feel...stronger already."
Leal comes up with a mix of something or other and applies it to the remaining visible wounds, visibly unsure of whether it's going to have any effect at all.

Arelliano looks better than he had a few moments ago., and his wounds seem to heal thanks to the magic of his bracelet.

"I'm sorry, I should've stayed with you in the hallway and just keep shooting at the bug then.", Zion apologizes to Arel.

As Leal attempts to recall her fundamentals in a skill many find strange and unusual, Arelliano seems to shake the greater effects of the creature's poison off, though he is not wholly unaffected. He is still, however, bleeding all over the place.

"Don't second-guess yourself," Leal says to Zion. "You killed it in the end, and it was likely going to tag one of us anyway, as tight as the quarters were. Your moving gave us all more room to maneuver and back away."

Zion nods to Leal, but still looks concerned with Arelliano.

"It's alright..." Arelliano adds, " hit the beast from behind."

Leal tries to at least get her poultice-ish bandages in a spot to stem some of the blood flow. Even if she's a terrible herbalist, she can at least try to be effective at plugging a hole.

"The creature is dead, that is the important thing," the Big Man notes.

Roxie agrees, "Very true."

All of the sudden, with the fight over and seeing that Arelliano is still standing , Zion walks away from everyone and becomes sickened from the ferocity ending.

Those with a knowing eye may believe the undamaged portions of the carapace of this fiendish creature could be salvaged for some sort of protective armor, or maybe a shield. It's up to they whether its harvested or not.

The smell of the place and the ichorous death only add to Zion's feeling, augmenting the experience.

After a bit Zion regains his composure and then collects his weapons and makes sure he is presentable and ready to move on.

Roxie was feeling somewhat useless watching Leal tend to Arelliano's wounds. So as a means to make herself somewhat useful, Roxie wanders over to the monster corpse to see if there's anything they can salvage.

Leal looks a bit disgusted at her own medical hack-job, but figures it's as good as it's going to get. She backs away, and looks over the creature for a moment...and though she doesn't have an eye for armor, she knows extraplanar-ish monstrosities when she sees them, and chokes back the smell of overcooked bug-flesh long enough to add some of its carapace to her sample bag (to accompany the bits of elemental fire-worm from a few weeks ago).

Well, Arelliano has stopped bleeding at least, for now. The gnome is nowhere to be seen, having moved along.

Then, the air a little thick, she steps away and looks around. "Should we move along and catch up with Gemwir?"

Zion nods in agreement with Leal," I suppose we should catch up with the Captain. He is our way home."

Roxie goes about harvesting bug parts for armor. Whiel everyone else is collecting themselves she's filling a bag of stuff.

Leal steps around the next corner to see if she can still spy the gnome.

Once everyone's settled after the fight, you notice the pair of chutes which look to be drops for waste from above. The place reeks of filth, but the area is suprisingly less full than you'd expect. As if the bones you see were perhaps victims of the centipede. The old waste has since decomposed into the stains on the stone.

Leal sees the empty hallway before her. Seems like Gemwir has moved on.

Roxie finishes collecting and moves over to where Leal is standing. "What's there?"

"By Oghma's bloody--dammit." Leal shakes her head and looks back to the party. "Nothing, which is the problem. Gemwir moved on without us, we need to get a move on."

Roxie looks at the giant bag she's dragging. "I should probably leave this here, shouldn't i?"

Despite the size of the plates the Hin collected, the bag is surprisingly light.

"Eh, keep it if you can carry it easily enough," Leal replies, "no telling if we'll come back this way or not--there could be another exit for all we know."

"You okay to move, Zion, Arelliano?" She's clearly eager to try and get caught up to the gnome.

It's not overly cumbersome, the bag Roxie carries. "Ok." She hoists it up and slings it over her shoulder. She's now looking like a little Santa hin.

"Impatient Gnome!" Zion grumbles after hearing Leal's comment of Gemwir moving on with out them. "I'm ready to move on, Leal."

Leal moves forward after the gnome, while some but not all of Arelliano's wounds begin to close. She keeps a casual eye on her surroundings as she proceeds--if there's traps, creatures, or other dangers, the gnome would probably have tripped them in his passage, but clearly she's better safe than sorry. And with Arelliano wounded, she's probably in the best position to keep an eye out for danger.

Roxie follows Leal.

Zion stays by Arelliano in case he needs help with moving forward. Also he checks behind the group to make sure they aren't getting anythingtrying to sneak up on them.

Leal moves forward, taking the lead. Do the others follow?

Leal spies a passage ahead, with another passage heading north.

Roxie is right behind Leal.

"Because of course the passage splits." Leal sighs and moves up to the intersection as the party catches up to her, looking for any sign as o which way Gemwir might have gone.

"Check the side passage this time?"

Leal spies the northern passage as it turns east, and the passage due west in the direction you're facing splits both north and south a ways ahead. But nothing is lit so its hard to tell beyond.

"Ugh. Not enough dust to find any trace, especially not for someone with my wondrous skill at tracking people." She mutters as the party's luck turns again, and looks to Roxie. "First idea is the best idea, I suppose. Take every right until we hit a dead end, then work our way back to left turns? It's that or call out to him...and whatever else is down here, though I suppose if we did attract anything it'd be what we're getting 'paid' to do."

"I was thinking we're already heading north," Roxie comments, "and the last passage we walked by came back to bite us."

"Indeed." Leal nods, and then takes Roxie's advice, again keeping herself ready for any threats as she heads down the side passage.

Arelliano is moving better now.

Leal continues up the north passage, if the others follow, to watch it bear east, and then south again.

Arelliano moves foward behind Leal as his strength returns and he continues his wounds largely having healed.

Roxie will follow behind Arelliano.

Zion stays behind Roxie as the rear guard for the party

Leal moves on down to check what she suspects to be the end of this particular branch... As she does, she sees a crude, spiraling ramp upward. There are worn stairs spiraling up. "Okay, it's up or back. Anyone want to call it one way or the other?"

"We're looking for a lair, right?" Roxie asks, "Would it make more sense for it to be up top, or down here somewhere?"

"Up top might mean something a little different this far underground, though. Plus I'm thinking a dragon wouldn't be caught dead in the muck like this."

"So up we go then?" Zion asks while watching the hall behind them all

"I'm thinking a dragon might have a hard time moving around down here anyway. Aren't they big?" Roxie sets her bag down for a moment and stretches her arms out as wide as they'll go.

Leal nods. "Not to mention arrogant. Dwelling in a maze of bug-sewers would be beneath them." With that, she tentatively begins heading up the spiral.

You traverse the stair and come to a long, southerly-pointing hall with another side entrance to the east.

Leal looks for any signs, now that they're ascending, that might now indicate which way Gemwir might have gone. She can't track him, but maybe she can at least see if he came this way. Failing that, she heads to the intersection first.

The walls, floors and ceiling are meticulously carved from the stone. WHat she sees is the constant and continuous pattern of the creator here, its relentless beauty.

Arelliano goes up following behind Leal closely.

Roxie follows behind Arelliano, still carrying her big bag of stuff.

Zion will be the rear guard.

Leal looks carefully at the intricately-carved passages, then as she reaches the intersection of the passages, she seems to notice something up ahead before quickly covering her light beneath her cloak.

Seeing Leal covering her light, Roxie does so as well.

Leal presses back behind the intersection again, and whispers quietly to the others. "Looks like the formians are still here. Six of them, give or take, in the room there to our left."

Arelliano hisses quietly to Leal. "Cover your light."

"That's what I caught before I stepped back, anyway," Leal adds, "Could be more."

"I counted six as well," Arelliano confirms.

The hall goes dark. The passage does continue southward.

Leal continues whispering quietly. "I don't remember getting the sense from Gemwir that they'd be evil or over-aggressive, per se, but probably better not to take any chances--plus it's safe to say he didn't go that way anyway. Let's move south, quietly, and take a shot again with the light when we get further beyond the passage."

Roxie nods.

Arelliano nodded agreement.

Zion listens attentively and nods also.

And so Leal moves on, more slowly than before to avoid making any inadvertent noises in the dark.

Arelliano waits long enough to ensure he isn't going to step on Leal before moving along as quietly as he can...

Roxie follows behind Arelliano, trying to be quiet...

Zion waits a breath or two before following Roxie quietly...

Roxie is quiet as a mouse.

The four of you move southward, some less noisily than others...

Zion moves quietly and glances down the hall where the creatures are and then gulps, quiet like and whispers, "I can say they spotted me. Or they are coming up behind us.!" he continues to whisper

Arelliano allows his adrenaline to surge, so many enemies, now is not the time to hold back.

"Okay, we take our chances first on the idea that they're not totally hostile. Defend yourselves if you have to, but let's try to find another way out of this first." Leal clearly doesn't relish the idea of fighting these things, especially on their home turf, and especially remembering what Gemwir told her about them.

With that, she reveals her light so the party can all see once more, but takes what she hopes is a non-threatening pose--a walking stick in one hand with a blazing gem in its tip, her other an open hand. She mutters a brief few words under her breath, and then turns to address the approaching formians...
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