Chapter 02: Outbursts

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Session Number: 45
Date: Sunday 18 April 2010
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr6 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal7 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz7 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

A statement, and a question from the dwarves to Prince Arthur:

"All of us around this table are religious or paladins; we will not fight a war for you."

The Prince doesn't intend to fight a war, and doesn't ask those before him to.

"How might the Prince be perceived, being backed by a host of nonhumans?"

"I understand that it might not be particularly acceptable amongst some, but to my mind, this land belongs to us all. Each race once had a golden age, but not now. In isolation we are a lot less strong than we are together." The Prince indicates he is very happy to accept indirect aid.

"I am not king yet, but that does not mean that we cannot work together now, to make the opposition weaker."

Valen sits, sipping his tea, looking somewhat bored.

The Prince continues. "The backbone of the opposition will come from a couple of merchant guilds that profit greatly from the practices I will outlaw. A minority of nobles will also likely stand against me."

They would likely not include Emily's father; he is said to be opposed to slavery.

The Prince intends to make the southern reaches of his future kingdom stronger and richer because most of the nobles that would accept the Prince's new regime live in the south. Those north and east have easier access to the sea and therefore the trade routes are easier.

Rowaine catches the Prince's eye. "If it pleases the Prince, what is his first step?"

"To try to open a new trade route. Trade is mainly by sea, and in winter is a lot harder. There is a city to the south, through the mountains."

The Prince wishes to open negotiations with an order of rangers to the south to guarantee that trade would be able to flow through their lands. He is willing to help them - there are dangerous humanoid tribes in the area. The rangers maintain order within the region mostly autonomously. The Prince wishes to convince the rangers to join him, keep order in his name and allow trade. If trade could happen all year long it benefits the south.

Rowaine looks puzzled. "I am sorry, I do not fully understand the complexities of trade, but how does this affect slavery?

"Not straight away. The new trade route will reinforce the south, then I will be able to gain power and influence over what happens in the north and east. I might be wrong, but it seems to me to be a wise first step. I have asked for a message to be sent to the rangers… Sir Veketh?

Sir Veketh nods and indicates that Enok's task is under way.

Troll speaks. "I wish we had known about that before we bid our friend goodbye. We could have got him to set up a portal and create a communications network."

The others look at him strangely.

A portal might be useful not only to conduct negotiations, but to help police the intended trade route. However, Enok is now more than half-way to his destination; no way can be thought of to send him a message. He would simply be too hard to find.

Troll is suspicious of Valen's boredom. Is he under the effects of a spell? Is he concentrating on a spell? He is not "numb", he just appears uninterested. He occasionally sips at his tea, his movements very intentional and considered. He doesn't seem to have the basic habits of someone who is Charmed. He might be concentrating on a spell, he might not.

Troll decided to test Valen's reactions by using Dimension Reach to knock over his drink as he reaches for it, obfuscated by Concealed Spellcasting and False Theurgy.

Valen looks at Troll from the corner of his eye as his mug topples over. He draws his hand back, looking at the spilled tea pooling on the tabletop. It suddenly evaporates. "No matter, carry on…" He leans back.

"Are you OK?" asks Rowaine. "Yes."

After a time the meeting winds up. The Prince closes: "I ask you to take all the time you need to think upon the things I have said. I will return to Magnimar tomorrow. You can send a message on where you will stand."

"I thank all of you for coming," says Sir Veketh. "We will discuss this further. Thank you, Prince."

Arrian judges Elysia's demeanour. She seems subtly amused by the proceedings.

The elves have their own government - a series of loosely aligned councils.

"Excuse me my Prince," asks Rowaine. "On a more personal matter… How go the wedding plans?"

"Ah - you are Rowaine. We hope to wed each other in the spring."

"Most lovely."

"Valen said it would not be advisable before then. You are certainly invited."

Troll speaks to Elysia. "Hi." Elysia ignores him.

Prince Arthur's father is elderly and his wife has passed. He has a concubine who is currently relatively influential. Rowaine does not know her stance on slavery, or how her power will fare once Arthur claims the throne.

Everyone but Valen stands to leave. He says "I will join you later, my Prince." Sir Veketh looks at Rowaine knowingly and leaves, closing the door behind him.

"You wanted to speak to me?"

"I appreciate you gifting me your time. Has Sir Veketh spoken to you?"

"Yes."

"Do you remember a member of our party?"

"I see none of your party here but you."

"There was Krag, a half-orc, very dear to me. He very selflessly traded his life for mine with some creature and the result of that is that I believe him to be trapped within this vessel." She pulls out the black rod. "Valen, if there is anything that you can do, if there is anything I can do for you, I throw myself upon your mercy, is there anything that can be done to give us our fellow hero back?"

"I appreciate your offer. I might, I might not. These things take time. Would you leave this with me so that I can study it?"

"You must understand, I carry this with me always. It is the last link I have with my friend. It would be extremely difficult for me to let it go, even to you."

"You must understand that I cannot find a way to free your friend without study."

"Would you consider being with us for that time?"

"I cannot leave Anassia for too long… ButI might be able to stay a couple of days here to study the thing… And I suppose that I owe you something, after having helped Anassia in her time of need."

"Valen, you owe me nothing, it was my duty."

Valen's eyes momentarily light up. "Leave it to me." He pulls out a black velvet bag and unties the fastening cord.

A flurry of Sense Motive rolls. Arrian feels that there is nothing untoward in his words, yet there is … something in his demeanour that sits uneasily.

Rowaine looks into Valen's eyes and feels that this person will not hesitate to ask something from her. He is not a kind man. He does not radiate evil per se, in the same way that a predator would not. He will respect his word in a businesslike manner, but there will be a price for his services and it will not be discounted.

Ro begins to hand him the rod. Valen opens the bag. Ro catches his eye.

"Valen, this is precious to me. I trust you will treat it … very, very carefully."

"Yes, absolutely. If I understand correctly, you want the person inside, yes? Is that what you want?"

"That is what is precious to me."

Rowaine completes handing over the rod. Valen ties the bag closed securely.

"You will have to give me details on how your friend found himself in there." Rowaine tells Valen what she herself was told.

"I'll see you in a couple of days." Valen moves to get up. Troll clears his throat.

"Can I have a word?"

"What do you want?"

Troll motions for Rowaine and Arrian to leave. She thinks better of it and waits just inside the door.

Troll locks eyes with Valen. "Interesting magic."

"Hmmmmm."

"I'd like to learn more some time."

"Hmmmm. Anything else?"

"No, that was it."

"I'll leave, then. Nice trick." Valen leaves.

Troll tells Rowaine that he suspects Valen was using a Detect Magic spell. Rowaine looks Troll over.

"What did you do in there? You seemed to have an understanding with him."

"Not really, I was just trying to get some information out of him, try to shake him a bit, but it didn't work. Nothing fell out. And he knew what I was doing."

"Troll, you know that this man is important to us, important to me… Please tread carefully, do not upset this man. He may be our only hope of ever seeing Krag again."

"Maybe, but a man that comes to a meeting of high powered paladins and dignitaries and sits there with spells running isn't the most trustworthy of people."

"What did you do during the course of the conversation? Did you cast any spells?"

"Yep…"

"Does that make you untrustworthy?"

"Mmmmm… You don't trust me."

"At the moment Troll, no I don't."

"Very well…"

"Troll, please heed my warning. In fact, drop the 'please'."

"Look. He has no reason to do what you want him to do, other than the fact that it looks like he thinks he is going to get paid for it. Alright? He's with a dignitary that wants something. He wants you, them, us, to do things. So, if I'm going to be bold enough to try to find out if somebody's casting spells amongst a group of people that I care a lot about, then I think that's a good thing. And I'm not going to blindly trust someone who I've never met before, just because you say I should."

Rowaine splutters and walks out.

It is now a little after midnight. Rowaine climbs one of the towers and joins the watch.

Tents have been erected in the middle of the monastery grounds. Prince Arthur's guards are lodged there. Some of the teachers are in the boys' dorms.

Arrian looks for Elysia but cannot find her. He is told that she went outside into the woods. Arrian follows and hears faint singing in elven. He follows it to the lake where he spends so much time. The elves are singing hymns to Corellon Larethian, followed by other elven songs, lustrous songs of the moon and of the stars and of the breath of trees. Arrian joins in. Afterwards he approaches Elysia.

"Good evening, lady."

"What did you think of the meeting?"

"Seems to be an ambitious plan."

"…For someone of such short life."

"What do you think of his plan?"

"Humans, they are intense. Often they do more harm than good in their haste. He seems sincere though."

"And yet our god frowns upon slavery." He pauses. "Do you think the councils will offer their support?"

We will not go to war… But yes, we will support him, how we can. We certainly will not take a stance against him.

Elysia mentions that she and her retinue will leave tomorrow. She asks who Arrian's parents are. Arrian briefly discusses his history, and mentions that the dwarves at the monastery destroyed his family regalia, under the best of intentions, but nonetheless destroying Arrian's links to his family. Elysia offers to try to uncover the mystery of his past, even though Arrian's mentor Father Eldorian was unable to. As the elves settle, Arrian declines their offer to stay in the forest and returns to the monastery.

Rowaine stands watch until her energy starts flagging. After a few hours one of the dwarves on watch urges her to get some rest.

"Safe eyes, good dwarf." Rowaine retires, as does Arrian.

The next morning Prince Arthur's men strike camp. A shared breakfast completes formalities. Midmorning, Arthur leaves for Magnimar.

Troll approaches the elves again. Two of the males block his path to Elysia, hands on swords. Troll calls out past them to Elysia:

"What's your problem?"

"My problem? Elf murderer!"

"I think you have me confused with somebody else."

"I'm not even sure I want to explain. You should know that because of you and your family, our race nearly became extinct. Be out of my way now."

"We just got attacked, a bunch of kids got attacked by dozens and dozens of spiders. Where were you? Sitting on your high horse, somewhere else. It appears my family has been trying to stop these things for a long time. Where were you? When my family died and I got stuck in this orphanage not knowing who I was, where were you? Sitting on a high horse somewhere else."

"Yes, we were. Why do you think that these spiders want your blood? Because you are 'Troll?' Or because there is elf blood in your veins?"

"I don't actually know."

"You should!"

"People like you who don't bother letting me know what's going on, who don't bother telling me there's something going on in the world, who just sit off somewhere else waiting for the world to destroy itself… really piss me off."

"It should, since these creatures are yours."

The elves then leave in the ensuing silence.

"Yeah, just walk away, nothing to worry about here, just bugger off! If that's what being an elf is all like, I'm GLAD I'M A DWARF!!" He then stomps back to the temple, transporting to the tower.

Lord Yorg chuckles. "I love elves!"

Troll tries to divert his rage into study, failing miserably. He satisfies his foul temper by ordering Elondel to create things for him to blow up.

Arrian approaches Elysia. "What?"

"I've known Troll since he was a toddler and he has killed no elves."

Elysia tells Arrian that Troll's family created the arachtria, created them to thirst for elven blood. Many elves died warring against the spiders. As penance, Troll's family were exiled until they destroyed the arachtria down to their last. Arrian reports this to Rowaine.

"How horrible! For both parties. I can only assume that it was a huge accident or a mistake. It explains her reaction, justified or not. It seems harsh to focus so much hate on one person, the only one left in their family… Have they not already paid their price?"

Exile is a harsh punishment within elven community; the race prizes interconnection.

"Well, continues Rowaine, "it doesn't grow my love for elves much. She's wrong. Troll should not be blamed for these things. Let's go and find him."

Rowaine and Arrian visit Elondel. The anthropomorphic personification of the tower tells them that Troll is busy. "Is he studying?" "In a fashion, yes you could say that."

Troll is tired but his anger is far from spent. Troll reluctantly agrees to see them. No… Yes… No…

"Troll, you've been busy."

"Working out, you know. I've been studying, better get back to that."

"Troll," says Arrian. "I'm sorry."

"I don't want to hear it." He tries to change the subject. It is obvious that he is uncomfortable.

"Do what you need to do, Troll," says Ro. "Just know that your friends care for you, and … she's wrong."

They leave.

The delegations have left and life at the monastery returns to normal. Lord Angus has remained behind to train Rowaine in the ways of the Silver Hand.

Rowaine spends her time between checking in on Valen and Troll. Valen has secreted himself away in a spare room in the manse. Rowaine occasionally walks around the building, Detecting Evil, just in case.

Troll manages to return to his study of the encoded books. He realises that the original's handwriting bears more than a passing resemblance to his own.

A day later Valen asks to see Rowaine. Arrian accompanies her. Valen looks dishevelled and weary.

"It is something quite powerful you have here. I am quite interested to know what was in here before your friend."

"I don't know what it was. I was told it was enveloped in shadow."

"What happened when it was freed?"

"It disappeared, and I was left in its stead."

"I feel I can communicate with your friend… I think I can. The problem with your friend is that might be able to extract his soul, but I'm not sure I can bring back his body. It would be similar to what I have one for Anassia. This thing is some kind of very powerful prison. The only thing I feel I can do is to be able to maybe touch the soul of your friend, that's it."

"Would I be able to speak to him?"

"Yes, through me. It would not be a pleasant sensation."

"Very well. Proceed."

"You want to do this now?"

"Of course."

Valen takes Rowaine's hand and places his other upon the cloth-covered rod. Rowaine feels Valen's mind insinuate its way into her own. Valen wills her to pour her thoughts towards Krag. She mentally calls out to Krag and feels something in response, an acknowledgement, something akin to her connection with Harley. She reaches out, trying to mentally touch the sensation. For a very brief moment she connects with Krag but is immediately overawed by the seeming immensity and emptiness of this place. It is frightening. The connection ends.

"Perhaps another time," Valen says.

"Is there any hope?" Rowaine asks, quietly. "He seemed so far away."

"There is always hope. The previous occupant is out now, for better or worse. This item is extremely peculiar - who gave it to you?"

The black rod came into the party's possession by way of Emily in Elondel, Chapter 5. It seemed to be draining her energy and may have caused her burned hand. She was originally given it by a venerable elf. Troll again?

The rod is not psionic but magical, imprisoning not only the mind or the soul but everything. Valen did not feel any other presence within the rod besides Krag. The previously imprisoned creature may know more about the rod.

Valen has to return to Magnimar. He returns the rod to Rowaine's outstretched hand with his own warning - do not let it fall into unscrupulous hands. It may be capable of imprisoning many powerful beings. Valen says he may be able to do more, but would need access to the rod. He will research on his return and get a message to Rowaine if he finds anything. He also wishes Vor-wrek to know that Anassia misses him.

"Thank you, Valen."

The group notice Valen's rucksack, packed on the neatly made bed. "Tell the owner of this room that it will be vacated now." The party leaves and Valen teleports away in private.

Winter progresses. Temperatures drop and light snow falls. Rowaine becomes Sir Angus' student, learning much about stone flyers, including their language. She also learns much about the Order, and advances her combat prowess.

Troll splits his time over the winter between researching the books and researching new spells.

Troll gets a new 4th-level spell.

Abbey is using imithrium to rebuild the tower to its original state. The prevailing ice and snow has vanished; it is winter here but nothing like how the party originally found it. Abbey accepts Troll as her master, sad to hear about his family's passing.

Slowly, people around the monastery begin to accept Arrian. He is offered a teaching role, which he accepts. Every night he escapes into the forest. One night at the lakeside there is a silvery symbol lying in the snow, a necklace with a divine symbol of Corellon Larethian - branches around the edge with an emerald in the centre. Merely touching it confirms that it is imbued with Corellon's power. He stows it away and privately hands it over to Sir Veketh, entrusting it to his care saying that he cannot carry it at this time.

The symbol is a Necklace of Luck.

Enok passes word that he has arrived at the Fort Ranek, the ranger's fortress that lies a little south of Turtleback Ferry. He will return in the spring.

Rowaine is torn between her two duties: her demanding training, and her desire to free her friend. Troll reassures her that he will do all he can to find a way to release the half-orc, and offers to keep the black rod safe in Elondel. Rowaine sets aside her worry over Krag and throws herself into her training regimen.

Winter gives way to spring. Rowaine's training goes extremely well. One evening Sir Veketh invites Rowaine to his office.

"Angus will not say it to you but he is very pleased with your progress. You will be a full member of our Order next week. We will congregate and sanctify you into our Order, one of us. Congratulations."

Rowaine, forgetting propriety for a moment, envelopes the dwarf in a huge hug. Afterwards they drink to the good news. Perhaps a little too much.

The week after all the paladins arrive and a special ceremony is planned. Rowaine is bathed and clothed in white robes. She enters an overnight vigil to prepare and be sanctified. The following morning two priests come to help her into her armour, to which two symbols have been added: the anvil of Moradin and the Order's silver hand.

The silver hand symbol grants Rowaine access to the Good and Protection cleric domains, as if she were a cleric. She can prepare one domain spell per spell level, chosen from either of these domains. It also gives the granted powers of these domains (cast good spells at +1 caster level, generate a protective ward). The symbol can be removed and fixed to other armour, or it can be used by hand - it merely needs to be on Rowaine's person to grant its powers.

The priests guide Rowaine into the temple. All six paladins are there, Sir Veketh in the middle. She kneels before them. Sir Veketh's booming voice asks in ritual:

"Rowaine, will you now abide by the tenets of the Order?"

"I will." At her response, Sir Veketh touches her right shoulder with a huge hammer.

"Will you be loyal to the Order and to Moradin, and his love for compassion and of going good?"

"I will." Sir Veketh touches Rowaine's left shoulder.

"Will you be one with Moradin's will?"

"With his help I will." Rowaine's right shoulder is touched.

"Rise, Lady Rowaine, the seventh of our Order." There is a huge cheer. The other six paladins welcome Rowaine into the Order. A feast follows.

It's just like the end of Star Wars!

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