Chapter 01: Delegations

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Session Number: 44
Date: Sunday 11 April 2010
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr6 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Enok Rgr7 (Alain) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal7 (Craig) (kills: none, but hit Lord Yorg)
Troll Wiz7 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

When the party return to Elondel they find Emily gone. She told Elondel that she was bored, and left.

Enok departs from Elondel back to the monastery.

Troll uses Comprehend Languages to examine the crates of books. There are tomes researching various speciality areas of knowledge, bestiaries, alchemical works… A couple of books seem to speak to the basic principles of capturing souls - the dangers therein (spelled out in the first chapter), the kind of magic involved, the necessary precautions. There are chapters on soul receptacles but the text quickly becomes very technical, using phrases and terms that not even Troll is acquainted with.

Rowaine wants to transport the books back to the monastery for the teachers to examine but Elondel suggests that they perhaps should stay here. Troll agrees.

Rowaine returns to the monastery with Arrian, who seems to have assigned himself the duty of protecting her. At the temple Rowaine notices that amongst the paintings of previous patriarchs hanging on the walls, there is now a likeness of Krag.

The children at the monastery now look upon the party with plain admiration. It is an unusual time when party members do not have one or two children in tow (excepting Arrian).

Troll spends most of his time at the monastery, but treats Elondel as his "room" where he continues studying. Troll directs Elondel to begin creating weapons and armour. Rowaine suggests that Troll consider opening diplomatic channels with the strange little people below the tower, and to perhaps create some imithrium equipment for King Inler. Troll reviews his many new tasks and begins thinking about employing staff.

Rowaine approaches Sir Veketh about the crates of books. The dwarf seems dubious that he or anyone else here could help, but mentions that the monastery is about to receive delegations, including one with Valen. Perhaps he could be approached?

The first delegation is due to arrive in three days, a conclave of the Order of the Silver Hand. The Order, as Rowaine has learned, is a cohort of paladins founded by Sir Kharag centuries ago, and of which Sir Veketh is a member. The other five current members are on their way.

[Fergus] Six paladins in one place… We're DOOMED!

The second delegation containing Valen is led by Prince Arthur, coming to make an offer (perhaps a request for help) on behalf of himself and his future wife.

Sir Veketh bids Rowaine to stay for a moment. The others leave, Arrian staying just outside the temple. Sir Veketh pulls out two pitchers and fills them with sacramental ale. He tells Rowaine that he will push for her to be invited to join the Order of the Silver Hand. He says that she still needs training, and that perhaps Sir Angus might be able to help. Rowaine accepts voraciously yet gracefully and Sir Veketh dismisses her for the night. He turns to leave and Rowaine notices with concern that he is unusually stooped, as if tired.

Rowaine leaves and meets with Arrian. Before they part, Rowaine apologises for her previous actions. Arrian again leaves the monastery and heads to a favourite place of his, a pond in the woods. It gleams under the full moon.

The next morning, Troll and Elondel ponder over an outfit suitable for the upcoming occasion. Troll then transports to the monastery.

Arrian spends some time in arms practice and helping out how he can. Ro tries to figure out what is expected of her at the upcoming social engagements. Enok is seen packing his meager belongings. He is leaving to visit a group of rangers around three weeks trip to the south. He plans to spend the winter there. Troll offers him one of the two remaining backpack portals, which he accepts. He begins his journey, taking Kachik with him.

The mess hall is prepared for a large feast and the kitchen is very busy. Hordes of youngsters follow the party members, trying to help at whatever they do.

On the third day everyone is dressed in their best attire. Rowaine has polished her armour to a high sheen. She summons Harley and ensures she looks her best. Troll arrives wearing illusory armour provided by Elondel, embossed with typical dwarven designs. Elondel can maintain the illusion until midnight. All weapons are ceremonially tied to their scabbards with fine white rope.

Midmorning, the dust cloud of approaching mounts is seen. The gates are opened. The younger of those assembled stare, wide-eyed as five armoured, mounted dwarves enter - four male and one female. One of the mounts is a stone flyer, bigger than Harley; another is some other stone creature. The remainder are warhorses. They dismount and walk towards Sir Veketh. One looks at Troll in his illusory armour, a flicker of annoyance crossing his face. The paladins approach Sir Veketh and nod their greeting.

"Welcome, my friends," Sir Veketh addresses the guests. "It has been a long time. We meet again to welcome a better time, I hope." It is quite plain that two of the visiting dwarves are not convinced that better times are coming - the female dwarf, and the male dwarf that rode in on the stone flyer.

Sir Veketh leads the guests into the mess hall. The teachers follow, and then the students. Rowaine tells Harley to go with the groomsman, and play nice with the others.

All find their assigned places within, except Arrian who leans against the wall behind Rowaine, ignoring the place set for him. The guests are seated front and centre, with the teachers either side. The students are seated slightly lower.

"Arrian," whispers Rowaine. "Come, sit." Arrian complies.

The monastery encourages sharing and equality - even the groomsmen have a place at the table.

Sir Veketh stands. "Let me present to you five great dwarves who bleed every day for good. Lord Hob." A red-bearded, well-built dwarf stands briefly and inclines his head.

"Sir Godrig." A blonde-haired dwarf responds, carrying something like a pole axe.

"Lady Cherise, the fiercest of all of us." She is obviously irritated by the comment.

"Lord Yorg." He stands, leaner and taller than the others. His balding head has brown hair and his beard is split into two braids. He carries paired throwing axes at his belt.

"Sir Angus, the oldest and the wisest of all of us." His beard and hair are white.

Their armour is all of different types and colours, but all have one thing in common - a silver hand on the breastplate, cunningly depicted as reaching outwards.

It was Lady Cherise and Sir Angus that did not appear to agree with Sir Veketh's comment about happier times.

Food is served, more sumptuous than normal. The guests and teachers partake of a great deal of blessed ale and engage in small-talk. Dinner passes with little else of note. The younger children leave first, followed by the others. Not long after the guests and teachers prepare to leave.

Bit of a non-event, really.

Troll goes to his room and studies his books. Rowaine visits Harley in the stables, making sure she has not been up to any mischief. Harley doesn't quite understand why she is there. The other mounts are stabled within, except for the visiting stone flyer. Rowaine dismisses Harley to her more comfortable celestial home. She then retires to the dormitory and stations herself in the study cubicle, pulling the curtain and lighting the candle. She pores over her precious old book regarding the Order of the Silver Hand, given to her by Sir Veketh some years ago.

Arrian returns from his evening sojourn and sees the door of the mess hall opening. He overhears a growly dwarven voice - "You fools." Sir Veketh says "But it's our best chance to stop this." They then notice Arrian and stop, acknowledge him and continue towards the manse. Arrian ostensibly walks towards the boys' dormitory but as soon as he is out of sight he shadows the dwarves on the other side of the temple. He stops just shy of the manse and listens. He hears Sir Veketh's rough voice saying "This is a lawless land, he is young but he is willing to do something about it." Sir Angus: "You don't know him. He's too young and he's human!" They then enter the manse.

Prince Arthur?

Arrian goes to his dorm and falls asleep.

The next morning, the normal Moradin Mass is held; everyone is expected to attend. Normally, Sir Veketh officiates, but this time all the paladins lead the ceremony. The sound of the 6 dwarves singing together transcends normal sound, becoming something sacred and pure. Moradin inhabits the praise of his paladins in a very moving way.

Breakfast and normal daily chores follow. Rowaine suddenly finds herself before Sir Angus.

"Greetings," the gruff dwarf says.

"Greetings, Sir Angus."

"Would you care to ride with me?"

"I would be honoured."

"Come, then."

As Rowaine completes calling Harley, she notices Sir Angus widening his stance. Moments later he is swept upwards by his mount breaching the surface and bearing him into the morning sky. "Are you ready?" he yells, smiling just a bit. Rowaine awkwardly mounts and launches after him. Sir Angus leads, Rowaine follows. He takes to the air and the earth just as easily. It is quite something to stoop towards the ground and disappear into it at break-neck speed. After half an hour, Sir Angus lands.

"Most exhilarating," Rowaine says, trying to be a good dwarf and not let her emotion make it to her face.

"Sir Veketh speaks highly of you… Strangely."

"Then I am honoured by his words."

"Mmmmph… You know that if you become one of us, as Sir Veketh wishes, you will be the first human to be one of the Silver Hand."

"As I understa…" - Sir Angus stops Rowaine short with an outstretched hand.

"Indeed it is difficult for us, as dwarves are not quite used to change… so I will teach you as much as I can… But know this: to be one of us is difficult, in the sense that for the rest of your life you will be confronted by your duty as a paladin and your duty to the order. It is very difficult to hate evil and to try to accept everybody. It is very hard because not all the things of this world are merely evil. There is something that will be very difficult not to hate. Many of us have lost our way. That is why you will need to be trained, and trained hard."

Most paladin orders stress the militant and destroy evil at the expense of doing good. The Order chooses good first and foremost.

"I believe that many of the difficult things you have lived through recently, that Moradin has put you through a test… But still, every day of our lives is a test. You will learn that. Let's go back now."

Troll has been studying one of the three books that his initial Comprehend Languages spell was not able to translate. Passages are written in a number of languages that when consolidated into one, make no sense. Perhaps they are encoded - and therefore important? Troll believes that the author hid his message very well.

During the day Troll looks for an opportunity to speak to one of the paladin visitors. He introduces himself to Lord Yorg and begins to talk his usual slice-of-life diatribe.

Later the paladins engage in training - arms practice, riding, spiritual disciplines… Lord Yorg displays great skill with paired throwing axes. Troll thinks to get Elondel to create an imithrium axe as a gift. He approaches Sir Yorg and presents his gift in a wooden box. Sir Yorg appraises the weapon and throws it at one of the wooden targets.

"Thank you. I have nothing to offer in return."

Troll suggests that friendship, a stick, or blueberry muffins are always welcome.

During a training session Sir Veketh is talking to Sir Angus. Sir Veketh looks pointedly at Rowaine, wordlessly urging her to join in. She walks into an undefined area and appraises her potential opponents.

"Is there room for another?" Rowaine asks, innocent of the double-entendre.

A crowd gathers as Rowaine squares off against Sir Yorg.

"What are the rules of engagement?" asks Rowaine.

"The rules are to win!"

Sir Veketh looks a little nervous, Sir Angus' face bears a serious expression. Rowaine moves first, trying to take out the dwarf's legs with a heavy swing of the flat of her blade. Sir Veketh shakes his head in the background, wondering why his student persists in making that particular tactical error - never try to trip a dwarf! Rowaine's first attack is deflected by one of Sir Yorg's axes. The corner of the dwarf's mouth begins to curl upwards but Rowaine then thrusts the butt of her heavy axe into the dwarf's chest, forcing him backwards a step. The crowd lets out a cheer. Suddenly there is utter silence as people turn to stare at the main gate. There, inside the closed gates, stand four elves - one female and three males. The woman looks around, obviously pleased at the scene their arrival has made.

Arrian casts Protection from Evil on Rowaine. He notices that the female wears the symbol of Corellon Larethian. All paladins move as one to the front.

Sir Veketh appears taken aback. Sir Angus' eyes roll, as if to say "I knew it…"

Troll casts Mage Armour. Rowaine Detects Evil, sensing none.

The lady elf stops and says "You seem surprised, Sir Veketh."

"I did not know you were coming."

"It seems that this thing with Prince Arthur is important to all of us, so we came."

Arrian does not recognise her, but from her bearing and garb, figures she is fairly high-ranking in the faith. She salutes each of the six paladins. Arrian catches her eye and approaches.

"I think that many important things will be discussed here tomorrow, and I think it is fair that we be here." Her name is Elysia, her cohort is Adriel, Astyn and Llywelyn.

"I'm sorry," Elysia continues. "I think that I am disturbing you, am I?"

Sir Veketh: "No matter, you are probably right, Valen will arrive tomorrow; we can all discuss matters together."

Elysia to Arrian: "We will see each other at some point later."

Troll casts Shield, pretending to Detect Magic. Elysia fixes him with an icy stare. "Veketh, Veketh, Veketh… I didn't know you were welcoming in your midst traitors of the elven people…"

Sir Veketh is again taken aback, then composes himself and invites the elves into the manse, followed by the other paladins.

Rowaine approaches the guards at the gate. "How did she get in?"

"I don't know… We didn't open the gate…"

Berathoin comes and assembles the party. "Sir Veketh asked me to tell you lay low for the rest of the day, but tomorrow you are invited to the conclave. It was quite difficult convincing the elves that you, Troll, should attend, I'm not sure why… What did you do?"

"I didn't do anything!"

"…Yet," Rowaine adds.

Berathoin drops his voice to a whisper. "Not that I am curious, but since I'm not invited, perhaps we can … chat about it later?"

"If I am free to, I will," says Rowaine.

Berathoin winks at Troll, knowing how the elf loves to chat.

The conclave is tomorrow night. The party "lie low" at Elondel. Troll asks Arrian about the elf's religion. Together they can discern no obvious reason for the elf's enmity. Certainly her religion is not openly judgemental about elves following other faith affiliations. Rowaine guesses that it is more to do with Troll's Roulae family line, rather than anything he is personally responsible for. Arrian dissuades Troll from immediately going to the elves to get to know them better.

The night begins. Troll researches the encoded books. Rowaine and Arrian return to the monastery.

The next morning, the elves are nowhere to be seen and the dwarves are more grumpy than usual. Sir Angus is not around for an early morning ride. In the afternoon a party of ten arrive on horseback. It is Prince Arthur's cohort, including Valen. Sir Veketh salutes them; Valen returns it nonchalantly. Sir Veketh leads them to the mess hall for refreshment. Their arrival is quite underwhelming compared to the events of the previous day.

The evening arrives and the conclave begins. Troll wears nondescript clothing. The paladins are in attendance along with the party. The female elf is present, as are Prince Arthur and Valen. Everyone is seated and then Sir Veketh stands up. "The Prince has graced us with his presence to enlighten us about his views for the land. My Prince?"

The monastery is nominally within the bounds of the dwindling kingdom. It is no secret that the ability of the kingdom to enforce its will has been in decline for many years.

Prince Arthur stands. "My friends. In the times before my grandfather's reign, this land used to be a good place, a place that respected law. As you know, this is not the case now. Great evil scours the land. Evil such as slavery and lawlessness. As my father King Garen grows old, I feel it is my duty to try to reunite this kingdom so that the law will prevail throughout."

Arrian weighs the Prince's words. He guesses the Prince is sincere.

"But to do so, I would need your support: from you, Sir Veketh, and your brothers; from the dwarven kingdom; from the elves… I will be wed soon. My wife's dowry will finance the path towards making things right again. The first step I propose to take is the abolition of slavery.

"I know that in the kingdom there are a lot of people that will not take kindly to us taking control again, but I am driven towards that which is right. If you decide to support me, step by step we together can make what should be, be again. This land will be as it was, a good, lawful place where everybody can live without fear. So this is my offer: help me to make this land better and I will abolish slavery and help you in your fight against evil."

Crusade!

Valen seems a bit bored.

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