Chapter 01: Summit

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Session Number: 113
Date: Monday 7 November 2011
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr10 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog11 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Lionel Rgr6/Wiz1/ArcA4 (Ash) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal11 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz11 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

After rescuing (some may say capturing) Theodric, the party spend a well-earned night at Trina awaiting word from Ethalyn's physicians. The next morning Rowaine and Troll approach the medical tent to see if there is any word.

Guards stand outside the tent, it is obvious that it is no common area any more.

"We could have a problem," whispers Rowaine to Troll as she spies the heavy set men, fully armoured and appearing quite adept.

"I doubt that," replies Troll, "These are my lands, given by the queen herself. Let's see a couple of bully boys stop me from entering my own holdings."

"Still," answers Rowaine, reminded of Troll's past she quickly adds "go easy, they're just doing their job."

Troll mumbles something to himself, but as the pair approach one of the guards spots them and immediately flings himself to attention. The other, noting his companion's flurry, looks around, then follows suit just as quickly. As the two approach both guards salute, their posture making it obvious the pair are welcome to enter.

A smirk quirks onto Troll's face as he brushes past them. "Told you," he says back over his shoulder to Rowaine. "My holdings."

As the paladin follows she notes the two soldiers hold their stance, hands rigid against their brows. She slows and turns her head to look at one, meeting his eye. Surprise is quickly masked and his eyes dart forward again, almost boring into some distant part of the scenery.

"Uhh… Troll, that might not be quite it," she says, heading into the tent.

Inside, white sheets have been hung from the ceiling by ropes to create a visual barrier. Their swaying shows another just has passed this way.

"Troll," whispers Rowaine as she swings back the makeshift curtain, only to be presented with another swaying barrier.

"Troll?" slightly louder, once again pushing her way forward, tentatively, another temporary barricade swings in front of her, to the sides empty cots line one side of the provisional hallway.

"TROLL!" Slightly annoyed she steps forward, her speed increasing, then she comes to a halt just short of bumping into her target. "You know I hate it when you do that… oh…"

The centre of the tent had been cleared allowing for about a twenty foot radius circle. Around the outside of this, against the improvised walls, stands trestle tables stacked with boxes, books, crates, and all manner of medical and theological equipment. Whispering quietly to one side stands Ethalyn Roulae, Troll's wife, obviously in conference with three stout, grey-haired priests of Corellon Larethian.

In the centre of the tent, a large wooden pallet has been stacked on top of heavy wooden crates, making a makeshift bed. On this has been placed a set of rather ornate bed covers, and on top of these lays Theodric Kanafel, perspiration beading on his forehead. A sweat-soaked shirt barely covers his arms and chest as his hands grip at the sheets, fingers white with tension. His eyes stare upwards as he screams foreign words into the air.

Ethalyn turns and spies the two new spectators as one of the three healers raises his voice slightly, his gestures becoming agitated as he obviously attempts to make a point. She turns back to the conference and raises a hand, the tense medic stops mid-word, obviously still with much to say. She whispers quickly to all three then, with an almost dismissive wave, walks quickly towards the two newcomers.

"Husband," she says to Troll, her hand reaching out to brush an invisible stray hair back behind his. "My lady," she says, her head inclining towards Rowaine. "It is good to see you."

"Your highness," replies Rowaine, returning the gesture.

"He's a bit loud isn't he?" blurts Troll. "How come we can't hear him outside?"

A smile cracks Ethalyn's otherwise harried face. "Magic, my dear," she responds as she flattens an imaginary crease on the front of his shirt, her brow raises pointedly as she stares into his face. "I should think you would have worked that one out for yourself."

Rowaine steps forward slightly and almost raises herself on her toes, her neck craning as she tries to get a better look at the afflicted captive. "What's he saying?"

"Some elven mumbo jumbo I suspect," shrugs Troll.

"Nobody knows," says Ethalyn as she turns her shoulders to look at her distressed patient, her hand resting absently on Troll's chest. "It's rather frustrating, actually. I'm sure it has something to do with his affliction. That's what we're calling it now, that whole 'take over the kingdom' thing, an affliction."

"You think he's possessed?" asks Rowaine as she edges slightly closer. "You think he's maybe still dangerous?"

"Not currently," responds Ethalyn as she approaches the bed and looks down at Theodric. "Not in either case, at least not as far as we can tell. Although he's making short work of those sheets."

Troll steps forward quickly, his shoulder nudging in front of his wife's, his arm coming to rest slightly outstretched almost as if wanting to hold her back. "Are you sure you should be here? I mean, what if something happens?"

"I am sure one of these three rather adept spellcasters will come dashingly to my rescue," answers Ethalyn.

Troll surreptitiously inspects the trio of medics, two hobbling slowly around the bed, frames bent with age, the third leaning heavily on a stout wooden walking stick, grey beard almost long enough to trip him up.

"Well, maybe not literally dashing," adds Ethalyn. "But I'm sure you understand the fallacy some place in physique." She throws a quick wink towards Rowaine, then looks back up at her husband.

Troll looks on doubtfully. "Umm, I'm not too sure about that."

"Me either," adds Rowaine.

Just then Trina appears from behind a swinging sheet. All but ignoring the others she steps lightly up to Troll and Ethalyn, her feet gently gliding over the grass, her arms gently waving to an imaginary breeze. Even her hair, twig-like in its complexity, appears to shift in time to her movements.

"Sir, a message from your mother."

Troll chokes back a startle. "What!"

"Your mother sir, the Queen of the elves, has a message for you."

Troll rolls his eyes. "You mean mother-IN-LAW…"

"You are married now, my young master - are they not the same thing?"

Ethalyn smiles playfully at Troll's discomfort. "Yes, well, be gone with you either way, let the grownups play." She turns Troll by his shoulders and pushes him towards the exit.

Troll looks imploringly at Rowaine, who shrugs her shoulders and raises her hands. "Don't look at me, she's your mother. I'm just the hired help."

Outside, Trina informs Troll that the message is for him and his brother.

"What!" barks Troll.

"Your brother, Feren, the message is for you both."

"Right," glares Troll, "you and I have to have a talk about this family thing!" He stalks off, fuming.

Trina's grove has turned into a small village. Ethalyn's raising of a SpiderKiller army has meant a large contingent of skilled adventurers now call her grove a home of sorts, and with any campaign comes the staff to support it. Around the grove semi-permanent tents have been erected, Trina allows no permanent structures, and bunches of tents have naturally grouped themselves together.

To the north a group of well-placed, avenued larger tents represent quarters and offices for the main staff, SpiderKillers. Guards stand at intersections and the area is populated by fast-moving pages on errands. Beside this group of military tents, in the north by north each corner, is a large wooded arch used as an exit and entry. Thus far it has been Ethalyn's task to escort, while heavily escorted herself, groups into and out of the grove through here.

To the south the opposite appears, a ramshackle yet clean bunch of different sized and orientated tents represent the living quarters and sometimes work spaces of the support staff. Cooks, cleaners, menders and makers of all sorts make their homes here. Children run laughingly through the throng of tents, men and women in peasant garb haul tools and produce through the twisted pathways. Smoke billows and sounds hammer out from around the area.

To the west lies Ethalyn's makeshift hospital, numerous tents of all sizes line the area, all but empty.

In the north-east corner, a short distance from the entry arch, lies Abbey's wing, no-man's-land between Trina and the Towers. The area is not physically guarded, but all know it is out of bounds. All but mischievous groups of mixed aged children who often daringly dart up to touch the gnarled, hallowed tree that is Abbey's physical manifestation of herself here, only to scream giggling as Abbey herself jumps out from behind the tree like some spry old grand mother, laughing and playing with the children.

Feren sits here, leaning comfortably against a small apple tree, nibbling on its fruit and watching the pint-sized attack on the wing. Since he is here he has taken over passage duties for his sister. He boasts a large bejewelled gold ring, flashing it at the encircling undergrowth, its 'magical protection' allowing him to enter and exit where others may not, a gift for services rendered to the crown.

Troll stalks up to him, Trina trailing behind. His face falters from its relaxation for a second. Sometimes he wonders why he adventures. This is so much more relaxing.

"Right," says Troll, "a message from your mother."

"You and your cohort are all to proceed to Avarriel, the elven capital, at all possible speed for somewhat sensitive summit meeting," adds Trina in a musical tone.

"Well that's hardly for me then, is it?" says Troll.

"The message was for you both," adds Trina, "I suspect the summons is also."

"Well she's hardly likely to invite me is she, it's not like I'm flavour of the day."

"I can only pass on the message given to me."

Feren stands and shakes some grass off his clothes. "I will get the others."

Feren finds Arrian in the western quadrant, praying and inhabiting his sword forms. He explains that there is a message from Avarriel. When all are gathered, Trina repeats the message.

"We are summoned," Rowaine states. "Do we respond? I must admit, I'm intrigued, but it is a bit of a distraction from the matter of the ruelock."

"I'd like to go," Feren says.

"I don't feel I owe the queen anything," Arrian says, "but I see no reason not to go."

"Very well," Rowaine says, turning towards her quarters. "We go. I'll see you all here in five minutes."

"Let me know how you get on," Troll says.

Rowaine frowns. "I'd like it if you came, Troll. Like it or not, the queen is both your monarch and your family. And she did say to come quickly."

"How quickly?" Troll replies. "I cannot safely teleport there."

Well, I'm going," Rowaine says. "By foot if I must."

"Ethalyn," says Arrian, "do you have any way to make the trip more speedily?"

"The SpiderKillers have a few mages and priests," Ethalyn replies. "I will make some enquiries." She turns and departs.

Ten minutes later Ethalyn returns with two robed elves. "Husband, this is Erquar and Talisq."

Erquar bows low. "We would be honoured to provide you passage to the capital, to serve both yourselves and the queen."

"We will, of course, pay for your services," Arrian says.

"It is not necessary," Erquar replies. "Do you wish to make the trip now?"

"In a handful of minutes, good elves," Rowaine replies. "We have a few possessions to gather."

Once Troll has found his backpack, he seeks Shalélu, his retainer who now reports to Ethalyn. Troll finds her near the guest quarters.

"I've got an idea," Troll says. "Let's go exploring. I reckon we need to find one of those lost trees, like the one under the sand. We need to find out how to breathe under the sand…"

Shalélu notices Rowaine and Feren carrying their adventuring gear. Her eyes narrow slightly. "Will your other companions be coming?"

"No, the queen summoned them."

"And not you?"

"Well, sort of. I'm not going, though. Too dangerous."

"My lord, you have ventured into the Underdark. You have beaten back giants and metallic spiders. Why do you fear elves, your kin?"

"I don't fear them, they fear me!" Troll says. "One day, we'll have a little talk about that."

"Have you met with the queen before?"

"Yup."

"Did it go badly?"

"No, not really," Troll says.

"Have you had disagreeable words with her?"

"No…"

"I'm sorry, I … just don't understand."

"It's complicated by how awesome I am." This evokes a small smile from the elfmaid.

Rowaine and the others approach. "Still adamant that you are not coming?" Rowaine asks Troll.

"Send my apologies."

"As you will," Rowaine says. "Friend elves, the three of us will make the journey, at your leisure."

The elves weave their translocation spells. The party find arrive at an ancient cobblestoned courtyard bordered by ivy covered buildings. Robed elves are moving here and there. Several seem somewhat startled at the group's appearance. Feren recognises the place as the courtyard within the city's mage's guild.

Erquar and Talisq excuse themselves, heading towards one of the stone buildings. The party exit the guild, Feren leading them towards the palace.

The Roielle palace is made up of one tall central spire surrounded by five smaller spires, all copiously covered in ivy and brambles. They stand within a circular stone wall with a single, ornate gate. The party approach and catch the attention of two guards. They recognise Feren.

"How may we be of service, sir?"

"We have been requested by the queen," Feren replies. One of the guards summons a runner who takes a message within. Several minutes later, the guards open the gates, indicating an elf who will escort them.

The party are taken to a meeting chamber. Present are are Elowyn and Queen Raewyn.

"You've arrived very quickly," the queen says, smiling. She appraises those that have entered and her smile fades. "You are less than I expected. Where is Étella?"

"He refused to leave the protection of the grove," Feren says. Arrian hastily adds, "…But he sends his apologies."

The queen sighs. "The Roulae. Always a thorn in my side."

"I believe he does not feel completely secure travelling in elven lands," Arrian adds.

"What must I do to end this rift?" Queen Raewyn says. "I thought I had done enough by joining our two families."

"It is not an easy thing, mending rifts with Troll."

"Well, it seems I have little influence over him."

"I empathise, your highness," Rowaine adds.

"This is a matter of some delicacy," the queen says, "and unfortunately Étella … Troll … is required to be here. Is there anything you could do to convince him to come? Is there any olive branch that I might extend?"

"Would you consider coming to Trina?" Arrian asks.

"Or Follyhall?" Feren suggests, thinking that Troll might perceive the Queen's southern residence more favourably.

"I would," Queen Raewyn states, "but there are other people involved in this matter which makes other venues imprudent."

"Ah," says Arrian. "Well, I know no means of persuading Troll. I don't think he feels safe leaving Trina. Perhaps if we knew more of the matter at hand and we could convey that to Troll?"

"Might he come at the behest of his wife?"

"Very possibly," Arrian says. "Perhaps we could send a message requesting her assistance."

"Excellent," Queen Raewyn says. "Please make yourself at home here; I have some brief business to attend to." The queen and princess leave and servants enter bearing pastries and elven tea.

"I don't suppose you can rustle up some dwarven ale, can you?" Arrian asks.

The servant looks at him a little oddly. "I'm afraid not, sir, we have none of that … beverage here. But we have some excellent wines..?

"OK, then," Arrian replies, reluctance evident in his tone.

The servant leaves and quickly returns, bearing two light blue glass bottles with wax-covered stoppers. He opens one and pours three glasses.

Meanwhile, Trina approaches Ethalyn who then approaches Troll. He can turn down the queen, but his own wife? However, the SpiderKillers have no more capacity to transport people to Avarriel. Troll considers casting his new Phantom Steed spell, then thinks to shorten the journey by first Teleporting to Follyhall then riding the Steed northwest alongside the Afraniel river. The trip usually takes three days by boat; his Steed will make the journey in around six hours.

Troll Teleports to Follyhall. Or at least he thinks he does, but instead of the picturesque elven hollow, he sees the anonymous uniformity of an unfamiliar forest.

"Hmmmmph. That doesn't happen very often," Troll thinks to himself. "Oh well, at least I have another." He uses his second Teleport spell, targetting Follyhall, but he again transports to featureless forest.

"What!" Troll says out loud. "Have they moved the bloody place?" He casts Spider Climb and scales a tree. Light forest extends in all directions. "Guess I'm here for the night, then." He descends, casts Rope Trick and settles in.

In Avarriel, the others are taken to sumptuous quarters. Arrian is invited to attend the starlight service to Corellon Larethian.

The next morning, Troll prepares two Teleport spells and tries again. He breathes a relieved sigh when he see the buildings of Follyhall in the distance. He summons his Phantom Steed, mounts, circles around the settlement and follows the very old cobblestoned road that leads next to the Afraniel river.

Five hours later Troll is tired and ravenous when he sees the signs of a city in the distance. He continues, pulling his hood over his head. Tall, graceful stone buildings come into view, beautifully carved to resemble trees. Natural flora has been encouraged to grow here, rather than been cleared to make way for civilisation. There is no wall, no barricades and no guards. He rides in amongst wideset buildings. There are very few people about in the city's outskirts. He continues. The closer Troll gets to Avarriel's nebulous centre, the more people he encounters. Some of them greet him in elven. Troll responds as briefly as he can.

The buildings are larger ahead, scattered about a series of tall spires that must be the capital's palace. Almost out of nowhere, three rather burly elves approach.

"Greetings, friend elf, how may we direct you?"

"I'm looking for Rowaine of Moradin," Troll replies.

"Then I sense you may be in the wrong place," the elf says. "I know of no such Rowaine. Is there anyone else here that you wish to see?"

"She travels with Feren."

The elf rubs his chin. "There are many Ferens here. It is not an uncommon name."

"His full name is Feren Faelyn Ailore Roielle."

"Hmmm. That name I know. I have not been informed that his highness is at court, but I shall inquire. Might I know your name and the nature of your business?"

"It's personal."

"Then at the very least your name, sir?"

Silence.

"Sir?"

"Just tell him his friend is here."

"His friend?" The elf looks Troll over, paying particular attention to his steed. Something about Troll's demeanour both concerns and disarms him. The latter wins. "One of my men will see to your request. May I point you in the direction of one of our wine bars? Or would you be more comfortable at the Mages' Guild?"

"I'm good here."

"Very well."

One of the elves walks towards the palace.

Inside, a servant approaches Feren. "Your highness, I have a message. There is a 'friend' waiting for you at the palace gate. He didn't leave a name."

"I see," Feren replies, heading out of the room.

"Beg pardon, your highness," the servant says, "but for your safety's sake, might I be permitted to bring the gentleman here? He was rather reticent to divulge his identity, some caution might be advisable."

"Did you get a look at him?"

"He is elven, of that I am sure, but he is taking efforts to remain hidden."

"Alright then," Feren says. "Bring him here."

Troll waits by the palace gate for fifteen minutes before the elf returns. "Come with me," he says.

"Why?"

"Because I understand that is what you wanted."

"Yeah, it is isn't it?" Troll dismounts, dismisses his ethereal horse and follows the elf towards the palace. At the gate, he is handed over to a palace guard who escorts him inside.

"Troll, you made it!" Rowaine exclaims as he is led into their waiting room.

"Mmmmf!" Troll says. "My name is John!"

"The queen will be pleased to see you, John…"

Feren informs a servant that the cohort are assembled. They are given a message from the queen inviting them to a meeting after dinner. The message makes it very clear that all are required to attend.

As the day closes, the party are summoned to the meeting. The stately room, the meeting's venue, has two guards stationed outside its only door. Inside are Queen Raewyn, Prince Elathon, Princess Elowyn, K'at, a female elf and her guard in Kanafel livery, and a male elf and his guard. Feren recognises the woman as Eirass Kanafel, wife of Theodric. Prince Elathon conducts the introductions. The male elf is Sovak Larellian, son of Sir Imothell Larellian, head of the family.

Queen Raewyn Roielle bids all to sit at the large, set table in the room. Drinks are already served.

"I thank you all for attending,", the queen opens. "Particularly those who have travelled at short notice." This said with the slightest glance towards Troll. "It is a matter of some delicacy to have us all around this table." Arrian and Tomen notice that Eirass is upset and suppressing great emotion. "We have a somewhat touchy diplomatic situation," the queen continues. "We have had what amounts to a fully-fledged coup against the rightful rulers of the elven people, and yet from what my sources say, blame is probably better placed elsewhere. My reason in gathering you all here today is twofold. One request from myself, and one from my esteemed friend, the Lady Kanafel. Perhaps the first should come from her."

Eirass Kanafel takes to her feet. "Not to waste any of your time, but I would very much like the return of my Husband. That is all." She sits down.

The queen continues. "My request is again quite simple. What actually has happened here? Who has put my family and my heirs at risk? Is this a Kanafel act of treason, or is there more to it than that?" At the words, Eirass Kanafel near squirms in her chair.

"Your Highness," Arrian says, "I think that has yet to be established. What we knew upon leaving Trina is that Theodric had been possessed, that is what the mages working with your husband lady have deduced, and currently they are striving to put together what remains of his mind."

Eirass is shocked at these words. "He must be returned to my family! my people! my clerics! Maybe my mages can help!" The queen's eyebrows rise.

"I think that is a decision for your lady queen," Arrian says. "We don't know how Theodric came to be possessed, or even when, so we don't know to what degree Theodric was culpable for his actions."

"You do believe him to be possessed?" the queen asks. "You saw him?"

"Your Highness, my experience of Theodric is that he is not coherent enough to be questioned about the matter. As for when, we may never know."

"It seems we have two things to establish," the queen says. "Whether Lord Theodric really was possessed, and if he was, by whom?"

Arrian relays the opinion of the mages and clerics charged with Theodric's care. Feren adds his testimony: that Theodric's recent behaviour is desperately out of character.

"It most certainly is," Queen Raewyn comments. "Eirass, your husband has been an exemplary courtier and a loyal brother." Eirass almost on the verge of tears.

Arrian continues. "It may be that the best we will be able to say is that it is extremely likely that the coup from its inception was motivated from elsewhere."

The queen turns to Feren. "Is this also your opinion?"

"Yes. His actions seem incredibly out of character compared to how I knew him."

"Étella? Are you in agreement?"

"I am probably Theodric's greatest enemy, in that if I thought that he was in his right mind, he would be dead right now."

Eirass and her guard jump to their feet, quickly followed by Rowaine. The mood is knife-edge tense.

"But he didn't!" Rowaine says. "Your Highness, what I think Troll means to say is that he was most … put out by the great danger and great risk his wife and her family were put in."

"No…" Troll says. "If I thought Theodric was in his right mind, I would kill him. but I don't think he is." Eirass considers the words, then sits down again, as does her guard.

"Tomen, friend of the elves?" the queen says. "What say you?"

"I agree."

The queen considers for a moment. "Based upon your testimony, I would have Theodric returned here, and the Kanafels may be my guests here until the truth of the matter can be made certain." Eirass appears visibly relieved by the queen's words.

"That then leads me into the latter question," the queen continues. "Who is then responsible for these acts against my kingdom? If not Kanafel, then who?"

"We have no evidence at this stage," Arrian replies.

"Aunt Eirass," Feren says, "did you notice any difference in my uncle prior to the coup?"

"I cannot explain his actions," Lady Kanafel replies, looking around the group. "I noticed no change in his demeanour except an abrupt, almost religious belief that … excuse the words, Your Highness … that the Roielles were not the rightful rulers of our people."

"You say this was abrupt?" Feren prods.

"Yes. He has never had any such beliefs in the past, not in the three hundred years we have been married."

"Has there been any weird behaviour?" Feren asks, adding "Other than arranging a war against the ruling family?"

"No."

"This is obviously magic at work," Troll says. "My suspicion is that we will not find answers without more magic."

"It might be true," the queen says. "All the better to have him here."

"Hmmmm," Troll murmurs, dissent clearly evident in his tone.

"That is not up for debate. Truly, if you believe that he is innocent of any wrongdoing, then what reason is there to keep him at Trina? He should be with his family."

"Just because he's innocent doesn't mean he's not dangerous," Troll retorts. Eirass, Elathona and Elowyn try to hide their shock at Troll's outburst. "Just saying," Troll says.

Queen Raewyn seems to be getting used to Troll's manner. "Oh, Theodric will be well catered for here, believe me. All I can say at this point, Eirass, is that I will have your husband returned, and we will do all that is in our power to return his mind to his body. And I will pledge this: that whoever has done this to him will be brought to justice. For the sake of your family, and mine."

Sovak Larellian speaks for the first time. "In order to strengthen the alliance between our two families, I would gift you my retainer Lionel for this matter. Lionel, you are instructed to do as the queen wishes in this regard."

"As you command, sire," Lionel replies.

"To the people before me," Queen Raewyn says, addressing the party, "I would charge you with these tasks, if you would take them? You will be rewarded, of course. I will leave you the night to think on this. I have more business to attend to. Tomen, may I have a word?" The queen, Elathon and Elowyn stand up to leave. Tomen follows. Outside, Queen Raewyn pauses to address the ranger.

"Tomen, elf-friend, I have a job for you. There is a representative of mine in Holt by the name of Sarel, I believe you know him?" Tomen nods. "I would have him returned to the palace in all haste.

"Certainly, Your Highness."

K'at resumes gorging himself on pastries. Eirass and her guard depart. Sovak instructs Lionel to remain behind, then takes his leave. Rowaine appraises Lionel, apparently the newest member of her team. He bears himself well and has an understated, competent air. He doesn't appear to be evil.

"I am glad to see you well after our last encounter," Arrian says to K'at.

"Pastry?" the venerable elf offers. "They're very good."

"No, thank you."

"They're VERY good… The wine's quite good here too," K'at says, taking a large swig straight from the bottle.

"I prefer dwarven ale," Arrian replies.

"Nasty business."

"K'at, do you know any way to tell who has possessed someone?"

"Makes ya sick. Do I know what? Speak up, I'm a bit hard of hearing!"

Arrian repeats his question.

"Well, you could try asking them."

"Is there a spell for those situations where the person cannot speak?" Feren asks.

"Plenty of spells," K'at says. "Tricky business, sorting out the mess that is the mind, but it can be done. Best left to those psions. Makes you sick, dwarven ale. Are you gonna eat that?" K'at munches on some more pastries.

The party and Lionel leave the room, leaving K'at to his feast. Servants hover outside, intent on cleaning up but unable to. Half way down the hall, Arrian stops.

"Frankly, I am somewhat surprised that we have been asked to do this. It's an elven political issue."

"If possession is involved," Troll says, "then the elves need people who can deal with magic - and that means adventurers. Us."

"I suppose we are independent," Arrian adds.

"Yes. We can do things and draw on resources that the queen and her people cannot."

"We have also had measures of success with the ruling family," Rowaine adds. "We have proven ourselves." This rings true; the party gets the sense from the palace servants that they have something of an air of celebrity about them.

"So, do we want to do this?" Arrian asks. "Track down the villain of the piece?"

"I'm in," Troll says.

"Me too, definitely," Feren adds.

"While this does seem an elven matter," Rowaine starts, "it is the right thing to do."

"Then we are agreed," Arrian says.

"My liege has given me his orders," Lionel says.

Arrian frowns. "While we appreciate any help, Lionel," he says, "I'm uncertain of the wisdom of trusting you so soon. At this point, anyone is a suspect in this matter - especially someone at court. It seems we could have a bit of a talk to determine your trustworthiness. Would you submit to this?"

"Yes," Lionel says.

"What I propose," Arrian says, "is to interview you tomorrow morning, using spells that prevent and detect falsehoods. I will also need to ask you to set aside any magical items that you possess, while the interview is being conducted."

"We mean no disrespect, friend elf," Rowaine adds. "We simply do not yet know you, as you do not know us. In fact, I feel it is only fair that you have the same opportunity to interview us, under the same circumstances."

"I understand," Lionel says. "I agree to these terms."

Troll tugs on Rowaine's cloak. "Ro, what do I do if I want to talk to the queen?"

"Ask one of her retainers," Rowaine replies. "They will pass the message on. Why do you want to talk to the queen? Wait, it's probably none of my business…"

"I don't want to give up Theodric."

"Why not?"

"I think he is dangerous."

"Do you wish to have somebody that is dangerous in the vicinity of your wife?"

"It's a double-edged sword," Troll says, "but there is Abbey and Trina."

"I see at least some sense in what you say," Rowaine says. "We have already seen this city breached once. I don't know how they defend it. Is this a fight you wish to have with your mother-in-law, the Queen? It certainly seems to be her will."

"I just want to point out the error of her ways."

"Queens don't take kindly to being told they are wrong. But do as you will. Do you wish me to be there?"

"'s OK. I got it."

Troll approaches a servant to request an audience with the queen before the morning. The servant leaves, then returns not long after. "I have been unable to secure you an audience with the queen, but Her Royal Highness Princess Elowyn can see you. Do you wish to speak to her?"

"Yes."

Troll is lead upstairs to a meeting room. Inside, he is greeted by Elowyn.

"I don't want to give up Theodric," Troll says, getting straight down to business. "He is dangerous. We have powers where he is."

"We speak of Trina?" Elowyn asks.

"Yes, and there is a tower."

"You do understand that there is more to this than a matter of security," Elowyn says. "I believe my mother deems this a necessary risk. There has been a lot of harm done to our kingdom in recent times, and I see this as a means to heal some of those harms. Bringing my uncle back here will display to the Kanafel family that he is valued and that they need not live in fear. I see other purposes behind this."

"I'll bring him back," Troll says. "I just don't want to."

"I understand your concern, and in some senses you are probably right. He is probably more secure at Trina. I will bring your concerns to my mother. I will take my leave." Troll is led back downstairs.

"We should retire," Rowaine says as Troll rejoins the group. "We have been given quarters in one of the outer towers. Troll and Lionel, will you be joining us?"

"If you wish," Lionel replies.

"I think I'll stay in Ethalyn's tower," Troll says.

"I'm worried about everyone's safety," Arrian says. "I suggest that we all stay in the same place."

"Alright, then," Troll reluctantly agrees.

The palace doorman leads Lionel and the party out of the central spire, towards Ethalyn's tower. He slumps to the ground.

"Is there anything evil or magical?" Arrian hisses.

Feren looks around. "Nothing!" A wave of uneasiness rolls over all, and they are overcome, slumping to the ground. Darkness takes them… for a time.


Darkness turns to grey as images swim before your eyes. You can't see very much. A horrible throbbing at the back of your head is very distracting. You force yourself back to consciousness, like breaking surface in a lake of oil. It is very dark. All around you hear the sounds of the forest at night. You roll, uncomfortable from where you have been lying, and hear the crackle of leaves and twigs. It is very cold. You don't know what has happened. You look around see others lying beside you; you don't know who they are. For that matter, you're not quite sure who you are.


Five individuals wake in the forest: three elven men, a half-elf male and a human girl in armour. The half-elf wears the symbol of Corellon Larethian, but he is not sure why. Those with elven eyes can see fairly clearly, and so can the girl - particularly well in fact, although she doesn't know why.

The girl rolls over. "What's happened?" she says, in dwarven. "Who are you?" the half-responds, also in dwarven.

"Who are you?" the girl replies. "Who am I?" she says after a pause.

An elf says, "Do any of you speak elven?" The half-elf replies, "I do." The girl does not.

"Does anyone remember their names?" the half-elf asks, both in elven and dwarven. "Am I an elf?"

"Am I a dwarf?" the girl replies.

"You don't look like either," the half-elf says. "You look human."

"Then why am I speaking dwarven?"

"I don't know. Am I a dwarf?"

"No," the girl says. "At a guess, I'd say you have both human and elven ancestry."

"Does anyone have any idea where we are?" the half-elf asks.

"None," an elf replies.

The half-elf establishes that three out of five of them can speak dwarven, and all speak common.

"I must have had a massive blow to the head or something," the girl says.

"I think we've all lost our memories," an elf says. He is a sun elf, unlike the other two.

The half-elf takes an inventory of their possessions. Their garb is varied. The sun elf has a spellbook in a backpack; some have weapons. One of the elves starts pulling out lots of concealed equipment and weapons, looking at each item curiously. The girl uncovers a symbol of Moradin on a chain around her neck, which perplexes her. "I am a human, speaking dwarven, wearing dwarven religious symbols!" She inspects her armour, not quite sure how she could get out of it.

"I am an elf, speaking dwarven, wearing a symbol of Moradin," the sun elf says.

"I bear the symbol of Corellon Larethian and I speak dwarven…" the half-elf says.

"Does anyone else have all these hidden weapons?" an elf says.

"No," the girl replies. "Is there anything on us that might hold a clue as to who we are?"

The sun elf shows the others a bow. "Perhaps I'm an archer," he says.

"Hold out your arms," the half-elf asks. "I don't think you're an archer," he comments, looking at the sun elf's scrawny arms. "He," indicating one of the other elves, "he looks like an archer." The elf picks up his bow and nocks an arrow. He takes sight on a tree thirty feet away and lets the arrow fly. It thuds into the trunk. "I guess I am an archer." Not to be outdone, the sun elf does the same. His missile too finds its mark.

The girl looks at her axe, holding it clumsily. It seems very unwieldy. "My back aches," she says, "And I am so cold."

"Me, too, the elven archer says.

"I'm not," the sun elf says. "I'm just peachy. Must be just you."

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