Chapter 02: Kanafel Duplicity

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Session Number: 103
Date: Sunday 10 July 2011
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr9 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog10 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal10 (Craig) (kills: 1 huge demonic spider)
Tomen Rgr9/Drd1 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz10 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

The huge, dark arachnoid continues its march towards Troll's interdimensional portal. Rowaine remembers the previous night and drops to the ground with her axe, ready to engage. Tomen casts Entangle, centred just behind the creature. A tide of fauna writhes at his command, looping around six of the creature's eight legs. It wrenches free, snapping roots and branches. Arrian casts Recitation. Troll follows Rowaine and Fireballs the creature. Boom! The undergrowth is set alight and the creature screams. Feren drops down, rapier ready.

Rowaine advances a few paces and summons her mount. Tomen drops down, rolls left to a standing position and fires a longbow arrow. A solid hit, and yet the wound does not reflect it. The arachnoid stalks closer, hampered by the clinging, smoking undergrowth. Its eyes scan and locate Feren but a shiny paladin is in the way. It bites her, drawing blood. Rowaine feels her strength threaten to fail her, but adrenalin fights it off. Arrian steps behind Rowaine and casts Magic Vestment on her shield. Troll draws a wand as he repositions and looses a blast of the device's stored energy. A ray of strength-sapping necrosis stabs into the creature. Feren tumbles around the creature's flailing limbs and stabs upwards. His blade sinks deep into the creature's torso.

Harley appears to Rowaine's left, immediately sees her antithesis before her and has no doubt as to her role. The hardy wolf bites with celestial fury, ravaging the spider's flank. It is definitely looking worse for wear. Rowaine backs up her mount with a smite of her own. The paladin's timing, helped by Harley's distracting attack, is perfect. Her axe plunges deep into the creature's abdomen, spilling much vile-smelling ichor onto the ground. The creature avoids collapsing only by virtue of its many legs.

Another critical smite - 70 damage. Rowaine's best to date!

Rowaine follows up her first attack with another. The strike is true, but the creature shrugs off the bulk of the damage. Tomen springs in and attacks but misses. The creature ignores Rowaine and Tomen, singling out Feren. Two claws and a bite savage the elf and sap his strength. Arrian envelops the creature with a Holy Smite. Troll lances the creature with another Ray of Enfeeblement; it visibly falters. Feren's rapier stabs out but is turned by chitinous exoskeleton. He tumbles backwards to avoid being bitten - not far enough! Fangs clamp down onto his shoulder and inject yet more poison.

Harley chomps down on a flailing leg. The others hear something crunch, and yet the creature appears unwounded. "To hell with thee!" Rowaine yells, smiting once again. The heavy axe blow finishes off the doomed creature.

Rowaine hits the downed creature again but it does not respond and no longer radiates evil. Feren quickly scouts out the campsite. "No others," he says, then his legs give way and he collapses, unconscious. Arrian and Rowaine rush to Feren's side and examine him.

"Poison," Arrian says. "I have nothing prepared to counter it."

"Nor I," Rowaine says. "Troll, can you teleport Feren back to the monastery? I will go with you."

Troll begins examining the surroundings while Rowaine Lays Hands on Feren. Wounds heal, but Feren remains unconscious. Arrian cures the remainder of Feren's injuries. Troll indicates he is ready, then touches Rowaine and Feren's shoulders. The world goes grey, then blinks back into focus. They are outside Kharag Monastery's main gate. Troll conjures a Floating Disc. Rowaine gently places Feren upon the glimmering dish while Troll knocks on the gate.

"Who goes there?"

"Lady Rowaine Kharag."

Footsteps, followed by the scraping of the gate being opened. A young dwarf appears in the entrance.

"Is Adrak here?" Rowaine asks.

"Yes, Lady… But it is the middle of the night… He will be asleep."

"I will wake him," Rowaine says.

Rowaine runs to the High Priest's quarters and bangs on the door. Once Adrak's head is sufficiently clear (he has a reputation for being a deep sleeper), he asks to be taken to Feren.

"He's definitely poisoned," Adrak says after looking Feren over. "The good news is he doesn't seem to be getting any worse. I don't have any antipoison spells prepared… Do you? Of course not, or you wouldn't be here. We might have have an antidote potion, though… Take him to the infirmary. I'll meet you there."

Rowaine and Troll take Feren to the infirmary. Adrak joins them, carrying a potion bottle. He administers the potion to Feren.

"He will need time to recover," Adrak says.

"May I stay with him?"

"Of course, child. I will have the guest room made up."

It feels weird to Rowaine to be waited upon, having others do tasks that she herself was commanded to performed not that long ago. Troll opts to stay at Elondel. when he transports there, Ethalyn runs up to him, alarmed.

"I'm so glad to see you!" Ethalyn says. "I dispatched a messenger to Bridgetown. The queen and Elowyn have been taken! The queen's brother Theodric has taken the capital, imprisoned my mother and sister under the pretense of protecting them. He is saying that the arachtria attacks are Corellon Larethian's judgement for her allowing you and I to marry."

"Right!" Troll says.

"Troll," Ethalyn continues. "It looks like my brother is dead."

"Well, we'll fix that later."

"Elathon is dead!" Ethalyn breaks down, crying. Troll tries to comfort his wife.

Densial refuses to roleplay this part.

"You," Troll says, "Don't leave Elondel."

Ethalyn misunderstands. "I can't. I'm gathering my SpiderKillers as we speak, but I only have a couple of hundred that I know will support me."

"Don't leave Elondel," Troll repeats. "I'll be back."

Troll thinks upon his one and only experience of Theodric Kanafel, the queen's older brother. He was at their wedding. He seemed pleasant enough, for an elf. Troll returns to the monastery, knocking on the door to the infirmary. Rowaine lets him in.

"It would appear that the queen's brother has decided to usurp power. It may also be that the prince is dead."

"Prince Elathon? Your brother-in-law?"

"Yes, yes… He has taken the capital, saying that the arachtria are a sign of Corellon Larethian's displeasure regarding my marriage to Ethalyn. This may be linked to the attacks on us the past two nights - or more correctly, the attacks on Feren."

"Are you sure you want to get involved? Is this something you feel strongly about? Up until recently you cared not for elves and their politics. But circumstances change."

"I feel strongly about this. My wife is not happy. I just thought I'd set it straight. So… I'll be back. Come if you like."

"I'd better stay with Feren," Rowaine says.

Troll transports to Trina's grove. There, he is greeted by numerous elven warriors, SpiderKillers. Troll seeks out Trina.

"I'm going to call upon you and your friends to make war."

"Against whom?"

"The Kanafels."

"You wish to war against that elven family?"

"No, just one of them. The one who has taken my mother-in-law and sister hostage, killed my brother and sent two demons against my brother-in-law."

Feren, were he there, would not be feeling the love…

Troll learns from Trina that there have been no enemy troop movements. He commissions Trina to locate Theodric, track down the Roielles, and to call upon her supernatural allies to 'bang the war drums' - get the word out that Troll and the Roielles are no trifling matter, and are not amused. Trina takes on the task but firmly states that she will not make war upon the elves.

Troll then speaks to Abbey about how the towers might be put to use. He specifically mentions mountain-levelling. While very powerful locally, the towers are simply not capable of that magnitude of destruction at that great a distance.

The next day, Adrak restores Feren's ability loss and he regains consciousness. Rowaine tells him about recent events.

"Take me to my sister!" Feren barks.

The party gather at Trina, where Feren greets Ethalyn with a hug. Ethalyn reciprocates, then pushes him away angrily.

"We've got to get this bastard, Feren! It's weird. I don't understand. I thought I knew him…"

"Either we take it as a personal attack and go to war," Feren says, "or take it as a political move and outmanoeuvre him."

"At the end of the day," Ethalyn says, war is politics after the talking hasn't worked."

"I think we should start with the talking," Feren says.

"I agree," Rowaine adds. "I would much rather see this won in the arena of diplomacy than the arena of battle. Which means we need to play his game and discredit these allegations. Theodric says that the arachtria are a sign of Corellon Larethian's displeasure. How can that be true? Surely we can prove that it isn't."

"He's evil," Troll says. "I already have proof of that. I plan to kill him. That is what we do, isn't it?"

"Whatever we do has to be legitimate, Troll," Ethalyn says. "And be seen to be legitimate. Yes, we will need a display of military power to give our negotiations credibility. But we cannot win this by force of arms alone."

Trina interrupts the proceedings. "There is an elf approaching my grove. He is not one of your wife's men. He is taking great care not to be seen by them."

"Bring him to me," Troll says. Soon after, a breach appears in the brambles surrounding the grove and a male elf is dragged in prone, his hands and feet beneath the ground's surface. He seems remarkably calm, given the circumstances. From prone, he greets Troll by his full name.

"Riaz!" Ethalyn exclaims. "Trina, free this man at once." There is a creaking sound and the man rises to his feet, rubbing his wrists. He seems visibly relieved to see Ethalyn, then bows.

"I am glad to see you, your highness," Riaz says. "My Lord," he says to Feren, then turns back to Ethalyn. "May we speak?"

"Yes, Riaz, I trust Troll."

"I managed to escape the palace coup," Riaz starts. "Theodric is putting it about that he is taking the throne because of the judgement of Corellon Larethian on your mother in the form of the arachtria attacks in the north of the kingdom. Especially the arachtria attacks that killed your brother. I have good news: Elathon is alive! I have a person in Theodric's counsel who told me this. Elathon was attacked, but not by arachtria. He was attacked by Theodric's own forces. He escaped into the Underdark, where they would not follow. He has some men with him, but not many. The queen is well, as is Elowyn, but they are being held in their chambers.

"Sir," Rowaine says, "did you see the means by which the royal family were taken?"

"All I know is that the palace guard were suborned into serving Kanafel. I had no warning of it," he says, looking apologetically at Ethalyn. "I was imprisoned, but I have my ways out of the palace. I have word that the Kanafel army are assembled in their homeland, and are on the move towards Avarriel."

"Has anyone begun assembling the Roielle army?" Troll asks.

"Not yet," Riaz answers. "At this stage, the nobles are standing back, waiting to see what will happen."

"This seems to be a very unelven thing to do," Rowaine says. "I don't believe that this has the hand of Corellon Larethian in it at all."

"I agree," Arrian says.

"Theodric is purporting to be Corellon Larethian's mouthpiece in this," Rowaine continues. "Is he a cleric in good standing?"

"Theodric is not a cleric," Riaz says, but he has the support of his own clerics."

"He may be under the sway of an evil power," Troll says, hinting at the party's previous two night's engagements.

"He has had no known dealings with evil," Riaz says.

"We have met evil that can hide its form before," Troll says.

"If we want to settle this with little bloodshed, " Rowaine says, "it seems that Elathon's testimony would be very powerful."

Riaz nods. "A large reason why most of the nobles are standing back is that they see no male heir to the throne. There is also talk that this 'judgement' is a sign that we should never have had a female on the throne. While elven law does say that women may rule, it is rare that it happens. In that sense, Theodric has the argument of tradition, if not law. And some sympathy. It would prove a powerful rallying point should Elathon prove not to be dead."

"Riaz," Rowaine says, "you seem to know who Feren is. Does Theodric?"

"Theodric knows that Feren is in line to the throne, yes."

"Interesting. More ammunition. What is the likely political timeframe before the coup is made permanent?" Rowaine asks. Ethalyn answers.

"Whenever the crown is uncertain, for instance the death of the ruler, the ruling family names an heir and the council confirms their choice. The ultimate responsibility for the choice rests with the council of nobles. In a situation like this, the council would meet to decide who it would support."

"Who forms the council?"

"There is representation on the council from each noble family."

"What sort of influence does Theodric have in the council?"

"He is the head of one of the three ruling families."

"This Theodric," Rowaine says, "is he an intelligent man?"

In my estimation," says Ethalyn, "he is formidable indeed."

"Then we must assume that he has enough support in the council to pull this off. I can't imagine that the elves will move very quickly on this..?"

"When Feren's father died," Riaz says, "it took six weeks. That was a reasonably clear-cut scenario. Elathon was not of age, and the king named his wife as his heir."

"What fate awaits the Roielles should the coup be successful? Banishment? Worse?"

"The nobles would not accept their banishment. They would be stripped of the crown, but would still remain a major house. It appears, however, that Theodric is not above assassination. I would not rule out strange accidents, although he could not push that too far. The council are not fools. But accidents do happen."

"Make sure my mother-in-law and sister are safe," Troll says to Trina. "I will be back. Can you find Elathon?"

"I have less contacts in the Underdark. I have some, and I have confidence that I will find him, but it will take some time."

"Trina," Rowaine says, "do you know where Elathon disappeared into the Underdark?"

"Yes. The entrance is not far from my branch."

Troll transports via Abbey's wing to the Mithral Mug. He makes hasty arrangements to speak to King Garen Given an audience, Troll explains the situation and makes his case for the king's support. The king does not want to have anything to do with the matter. He understands Troll's feelings, but explains that his kingdom cannot influence the outcome; that they must maintain a diplomatic relationship with whoever comes to power and therefore will officially remain neutral.

"This is your last chance," Troll says flatly.

"That is our position," the king replies.

"I've saved your kingdom once," Troll says. "I won't be doing it again."

"I'm sorry you feel that way."

Troll leaves. He then visits the mages' guild and asks the same of them. They are aware of the situation, and regrettably must follow the king's lead. Troll immediately tenders his resignation from the guild. He returns to Trina's grove and speaks to Rowaine.

"They flat-out refused to help!"

"Think about what you just asked for," Rowaine says. "Why should King Garen care? If you yourself were not wed to the elven princess, you would be of the same mind. Don't burn all your bridges. I understand that you feel very strongly about this, but I would hate to have the blood of thousands of your comrades on our hands. I think we have the beginnings of an excellent means of disarming this whole situation without a single sword being drawn."

"I have not yet asked anyone to raise a sword," Troll says. "So far, the only people to entirely turn me down are the humans."

"You told me straight that you want him dead."

"Because he's evil! Look, I had more to offer the humans than they ever had to offer me."

"Should we be in a position where we are in need of help, and the only ones able to offer it is the human monarchy, it would be useful to have those doors still open to us."

"They are still open to you."

"That remains to be seen. Regardless, you have done what you have done. My next question is what are you intending to do?"

"I'm going to go find Elathon," Troll says.

"I can back you in that."

Troll tells his wife that she is not to go into battle.

"I will obey you as much as you do me!" Ethalyn replies.

Ethalyn's model of elven relationships is her mother as queen.

"I don't think you understand how important you are to me," Troll says, only slightly more softly.

"Let me say this," Ethalyn says. "I have spent my life learning how my kingdom works, and my place in it. I have been taught politics and strategy. My whole life has been a preparation for times such as this. At some point you are going to have to trust me that I know what I am doing. I hear that I am important to you. I hear the concern in your voice. I will not take risks that I don't have to. But I will take my role in this matter and I will not hide."

"You need to be very careful," Troll says. I'm a little bit unhappy at the moment and you're not even in any danger yet. If anything were to happen to you, that might not go well for other people."

"Troll, the last thing I can do is live my life constrained by keeping you under the impression that I am under no risk."

"Try harder!"

Ethalyn changes the subject. "I understand you are going to seek Elathon?"

"Yes."

"I can think of no one better to do that, you and your friends. If anything stands a chance of nipping this in the bud, it is the return of Elathon. And so… keep my brother safe."

"Have I told you that I have met my future self?" Troll says.

"Yes, I believe you've mentioned that a number of times…"

"So I know I get to be around for a little while. And if you are not there, then there are going to be a large number of people who will pay for that. And I am going to have a long time to make them pay."

"I'll do my best," Ethalyn says. "I love you too."

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