Chapter 10: Assistance

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Session Number: 122
Date: Sunday 12 February 2012
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

Falael is excused. Queen Raewyn mentions that the party is welcome to attend the next briefing, particularly if they have something to add. Riaz returns to his normal business.

The party ventures outside and examines the scene of the crime, outside the main palace tower entrance. Lionel pores over the ground in minute detail, hoping to glean some sort of clue, but too much traffic has passed to come to any firm conclusions. He could follow tracks in any direction.

The next logical lead is to investigate where they first woke up after being ambushed. That would require Troll's Teleport spells, which he can only perform tomorrow. What to do today?

"The palace must have magical defences," Arrian says, "which were apparently not triggered. Perhaps we can spend the time figuring out what those defences were, and how they were bypassed."

Troll first inspects the area for lingering magical auras. It is a long shot - the event occurred six days ago - but he looks anyway. He detects continual, current auras on the doorway, the structure and the towers - in the divination and abjuration schools - but no lingering auras from one-time magical effects.

"If I were inside the palace's main tower and wanted to Teleport away," he says, "the first opportunity would be outside the front door - where we were taken."

"Let's go to the Mages' Guild," Arrian suggests. "We might be able to talk to the person responsible for magically protecting the palace."

"The people responsible are long gone," Feren says. "The dweomers have been in place for thousands of years."

"Someone might know something," Arrian says. He asks a palace servant for an escort to the guild.

The retainer escorts the party to the Mages' Guild, where they ask to see someone about any magic in place on the Roielle stronghold. Eventually an elf bearing a sheaf of papers walks over.

"Yes? What? Why am I so interrupted?"

"Sorry for the inconvenience. I am Arrian. This is my friend, Troll."

"OK, yes, why?"

"You may have heard about a magical attack on the palace guards."

"Very inconvenient I must say, they had us all checked over to see whether we were all 'faithful' to the queen and to the crown. Of course we all were…"

"My name is Arrian."

"I'm not hard of hearing! I heard you the first time."

"So you are just rude," Arrian says.

"I'm a busy man!"

"As are we all. You are, sir?"

"Clarius! Head of Department for Guards and Wards." The elf seems genuinely astonished at not being recognised.

"Just the person," Arrian says. "Where might we have a discussion?"

"My quarters are a bit messy at the moment… There will be a meeting room somewhere… Hang on, I'll find a minion." He wanders away; Arrian guesses that they are supposed to follow him. Younger elves in different coloured robes scurry out of the wizard's path. He collars one.

"Come on, here is a room." Clarius enters the small space. Troll, the last to enter, closes the door behind him.

"You have heard of the recent security breach at the Roielle palace?" Arrian asks.

"You could say that," Clarius answers.

"It gives us great concern. We are a little surprised that it would be possible in the grounds of the palace. What have you found out so far about what is going on?"

"We have not been approached to look into it!"

"Riaz hasn't approached you?"

"No. He has 'approached' all of us in turn, from top to bottom, but he seemed to be more concerned with us being the perpetrators rather than petitioning for our help. I find that quite offensive, actually."

"At times like this, security must be paramount. I am sure that everyone was treated as a potential suspect."

Clarius leans forwards. "I worry about events such as these. It is a perfect opportunity for those in power to gain even more power. But I didn't say that."

"You think this is the perfect opportunity for the queen to get more power?" Troll says. "She's the queen!"

Arrian continues. "Clarius, tell me about the wards that protect the courtyard."

"The courtyard? There are no wards there."

"Anything that would warn of hostile magic?"

"Nothing in place, no… The staff are very good; I dare say if they were alerted to anything that they would respond with their own divinations, but there is nothing in place. The inside of the palace and the towers, that is a different story. But the courtyard is more or less open space." Clarius notes the looks of concern on the faces before him. "It is a matter of efficiency of design. It's like this. When the queen leaves the palace, she tends to travel with a lot of protection."

"We cannot carry out a full magical investigation ourselves," Arrian says. "We are heading away shortly. It would be good if the site were investigated in our absence."

"Why should that concern me?"

"It may not, but who would be the best person to lead a magical investigation inside the palace grounds?"

"I daresay Riaz has his own people who can help him with that. He tends to come to us with problems that are beyond their ability. Which is most of them."

"Who would be best?" Troll asks.

"Who would be best? Well, it would be the people that know their craft of course! I thought that would be obvious!"

"We are new here," Troll says. "Who would that be? Obviously not yourself…"

Clarius immediately spurns Troll, facing Arrian. "I would have thought that this would be absolutely obvious. We, of course, would be the first to line up and help the queen, should we be asked. We have not yet been asked. Presumably we are still under some shadow of suspicion."

"What if I ask you to do it?" Troll asks.

"Who are you?"

"The queen's son-in-law."

Clarius is quiet for a moment. "You are Étella Roulae?"


"Can you prove that?"

"What do you want me to do - kill a spider?"

"I might have to consult with somebody as to whether you have the necessary political clout to command the guild."

"I'm not commanding, I'm asking."

"That's not necessary," Arrian interrupts. "I don't see any difficulty in getting the queen's backing in this matter."

Troll shows Clarius his neck scar. "Someone did that in the queen's courtyard."

"This we know," Clarius says, somewhat subdued.

"I'm asking you for your help."

"Do you know the details of it … don't, no, don't tell me, don't answer that. I don't wish to know. I don't wish to be implicated in anything. You place me in quite a difficult position. I would be most willing to help, but I do not wish to be seen to be bypassing the proper chain of command."

Troll stands up and tries to take Clarius aside. Clarius does not follow him. "You tell me what you need," Troll says.

"What I need? What I need is a writ with the crown's seal on it. Were it anywhere else, I probably would help you even though it might not go through the proper channels. Proper channels be damned, most of the time… But it is the palace. It would be rather impertinent…"

"Excuse us," Arrian says. The party leave, seeking the queen.

"What we need," Arrian says, "is a symbol of authority that gives us free reign - not a writ for this and a writ for that."

"I don't know that I want to go that far," Troll says.

At the palace, the party are told that the queen is rather busy, but if they were to wait, perhaps Her Majesty might be able to converse with them on her way between appointments. At their agreement, the party are taken to wait outside a meeting room. Fifteen minutes later, Queen Raewyn and escort exit the room.

"Yes?" the queen says, walking past the group. Arrian hurries to catch up. "My lady, we will be quick."

"Quite. Walk with me."

Arrian asks the queen for the authority to seek the Guild's assistance.

"I will have to think on this," the queen replies.

"Can I just have a writ for the Guild?" Troll asks.

"It will take some time… I have an anxious Kanafel to … manage. Still, needs must. Liana can probably take care of it… Talk to Liana in an hour and a half, we can probably have something ready by then."

Liana is known to the party as a highly regarded assistant to the queen. The party wait the allotted time then visit Liana shortly before dinner.

"I believe this is for … you," Liana says, handing the case to Troll. She explains when asked that the writ is limited to the Mages' Guild.

"May the mine run deep and never collapse," Troll says by way of thanks.

Liana smiles. "May the autumn leaves fall upon your harvest."

"Elves!" Troll mutters under his breath.

The party return to the Mages' Guild, find an assistant and ask for Clarius.

"Master Clarius is quite busy sir," the assistant says. "Do you have an appointment?"

"No," Arrian says, "but inform him that we have the authority of the queen and we wish to see him urgently."

"May I see said authority?" Troll hands over scroll. The elf reads the document. "Hmmmm… One moment." He hands the document back to Troll and excuses himself.

A handful of minutes later, Clarius comes into view. "It's afternoon tea! They dragged me away from my cocoa! Never mind," he says, anticipating the party's unified protest. "I understand you have some sort of writ… Right, what are we doing?" He rubs his hands together, conspiratorially.

"We seek the best people in guild to perform a magical examination of the area where we were kidnapped," Arrian says.

"Certainly. I will need statements from all those subject to the effect."

"Besides us, there was a guard named Falael."

"Summon him. Now, where exactly did this effect occur?"

"The Palace courtyard, outside the main tower."

Clarius says that he and his apprentice will personally perform the examination the following morning. He sends for Falael and takes the party's statements. For close to an hour they are asked for intricate detail about the whole day at the end of which the effect occurred, including their symptoms and where they ended up ("Hmmm, rather interesting…") Drinks are brought in about half way through. Clarius then asks questions about Verithna, the person responsible for relieving the party of their symptoms. Throughout it all, Clarius takes copious notes.

"We will be leaving in the morning," Arrian says at the close of the interview.

"I will discuss the case with a few of my colleagues," Clarius says.

"Please don't report to anyone but the queen," Arrian says. "And I include Riaz in that."

"I understand."

"I don't suspect Riaz any more than I do you." Clarius is taken aback. "Having two independent investigations is a good thing," Arrian says.

"As long as you trust both of them."

"Oh, no," Arrian says. "I trust neither of you. Do you trust me?"

"I trust the seal of the queen."

"As do I."

The meeting is concluded and the party return to the palace, where they are invited to dinner with the queen and family. Rowaine, Lionel and Feren attend; Troll and Arrian do not. Arrian stays with Troll for protection, and have food delivered to Ethalyn's tower. Troll tries Dimension Reach in Ethalyn's quarters; it works. He tries to Dimension Jaunt: the spell fails.

Over dinner, the others describe their plans to the queen. At the close of day, all retire to Ethalyn's tower.

The next morning Troll prepares three Teleport spells. After breakfast, Lionel stays in the tower while the others exit. Arrian bumps into a guard outside. Troll Detects Magic, examining the guard. His armour, a choker, and every weapon that he carries bears magic.

Arrian looks around, seeing three robed figures in the courtyard. He recognises one as Clarius.

"Be right back," Troll says to the guard. He then Teleports himself and his comrades to Verithna's.

Wane bounds over in a few seconds, sits down and barks twice. Troll Teleports back to Avarriel, outside Ethalyn's tower. The guard almost draws his sword, then checks himself. "Told you I'd be back," Troll says, smiling. "Lionel!" he calls. Lionel walks outside. "Your turn," Troll says. He Teleports both of them to Verithna's. Almost.

Splash! Troll and Lionel plunge into bitterly cold oceanic water. Lionel fights off the gasp reflex as the freezing water threatens to take his breath away. Troll, on the other hand, is fine: he can breathe underwater and his daily Endure Elements spell protects him from cold shock. There is no land in sight.

Lionel is sufficiently level-headed and competent to keep his head above water. Troll casts Rope Trick thirty feet above the waves. The pair climb up and wring out their clothes. Troll is again thankful for his waterproof backpack. He immediately clears his mind to prepare new spells while Lionel watches for boats.

At midday Verithna arrives, carrying a boar over her shoulders. She has been back to the goblin mine. Nobody has entered, and there is no evidence that anyone has been in the surrounding area. The matre is still inside where it fell, bathed in the purple glow of the mystical metal prongs. Arrian explains that the party wishes to return to the place where Verithna found them. Evening approaches and the others are still wondering where Troll and Lionel are.

Lionel spots no boats during Troll's trance. Eventually he breaks his reverie. "Right! Where were we?" He prepares two Teleport spells and a Fly spell, exits the rope trick and successfully Teleports himself and Lionel to Verithna's. Their clothes are still wet.

"Did you miss?" Feren asks. "I knew it!"

"…and you never miss with that rapier of yours," Troll replies flatly.

A little over an hour of light remains. "It might be time for one of my evening rambles," Verithna says. "I could go that way if you like…" The party gladly accept. Verithna puts together a backpack, whistles, and a shimmerling appears to light the way. Wane accompanies his mistress. The group set out to where Verithna found them, the party struggling to keep up with her.

The troop arrive after dark. "Remember that tree?" Verithna asks. "That's the tree I found you in."

"We will stay here," Rowaine says, putting down her backpack.

"I wish you well," Verithna says. "If you do see any of the wildlife, wolves or anything else, do be careful of them… but otherwise, isn't it a gorgeous night?"

Verithna leaves and the party retreat into a Rope Trick for the night.

The next morning Lionel leads the way. He eventually spots not only their own tracks, but those of the wolves. He sets out, directing the others to follow behind and to his left so as not to disturb the tracks.

Forty minutes later the group arrive at the area where they woke up, scores of miles from any form of civilisation. Lionel points out five faint impressions on the ground, closely spaced. Their five sets of tracks left this area. Troll cannot sense any magic in the area, neither can Rowaine sense any evil.

After closely studying the signs, Lionel identifies a sixth set of tracks of an elf-sized humanoid that seem to have walked around the prone figures, then vanished. Lionel backtracks; the figure seems to have simply … appeared. The foreign tracks were made around the same time as their own tracks. Troll uses the magical pigments to make something akin to plaster of paris, forming an impression of one of the prints.


All pitch in and thoroughly search the area. After twenty minutes, the only thing they have found is a cork, about 7/8" across. It smells faintly of something resembling embalming liquid; Arrian stops short of tasting it. Troll does not sense any magic about it. Lionel has also found the tracks of several wolves that have come, wandered around the impressions of prone bodies, then followed the party's tracks leading away. The party expand the search area. At about an hour before midday they call off the search; there is nothing more to be found.

"I can't think of anything else we can do here," Troll says.

"Me neither," says Rowaine.

"I could petition my deity tomorrow morning," Arrian offers.

Troll Teleports the cork, himself and Arrian to Trina. Lionel leads the others back to Verithna's.

Troll gets Trina, Elondel and Abbey to examine the cork. Elondel magically cuts the cork in two to take a sample. "It will take about a day to identify the substance," he informs.

Trina holds the other half of the cork. She tastes it. "Hmmmm. Three living things have touched this cork in the past week. One is the wet nose of a wolf, the second bears the same twang as the creature in your necks. The third is an elf. That is all I know. If you present me with the same elf, I might be able to confirm it is the same person."

"What about something they have touched?" Troll asks.

"It is difficult for me."

"Are you likely to come to a wrong conclusion?"

"It is possible. You could just bring me their head. I do not necessarily need the entire body, and it need not be alive."

"How about some hair?"

"If you could guarantee that the hair was all from the same source, then maybe… I could tell you how "pure" the sample is. Even now Etella, you bear the traces of many many living things. I can tell that you and Ethalyn have not yet kissed this day. I can tell you that it is no one here now."

"Can you tell if it is anyone that has passed through here?"

Trina thinks. "No one in the past year."

"Theodric?" Troll says. "The queen? Feren's siblings? Riaz? Lionel?"


The others arrive at Verithna's. The druid welcomes them in.

The next morning, Troll Teleports himself and Arrian to outside Ethalyn's tower with half the cork. Arrian takes the cork to the Mages' Guild and sees Clarius. Troll Teleports to Verithna's. She has left early to keep an eye on the mine. Troll Teleports the others to Ethalyn's tower.

Arrian shows the half cork to Clarius. "What?" the mage says. "Where? Ah, the other end of this strange scenario."

"Another agent has deduced that it has been touched by an elf, a wolf and an outsider," Arrian says.

"You have good agents," Clarius says, producing a large, stoppered glass beaker. He opens the container and offers it to Arrian. "Put it in there," he says. Arrian drops the cork inside. "I'll have a look at it," Clarius says. "See what I can find."

"Have your mages found anything at the site?"

"I'm afraid not. Given the timeframes you mentioned, it would have to be significantly powerful magic for it to echo so far forward in time."

"Have you exhausted every avenue, or do you have other ongoing investigations?"

"I did have a chat to the dean after my investigation - in generic terms. He and I both concur that the magical effects you describe are probably from separate sources. It makes sense from an efficiency standpoint for it to be that way."

"What do you mean?"

"That the effect that caused you to lose consciousness, the effect that caused you to lose your memory, and the effect that caused you to be displaced - are all from separate sources. Once we have a look at this cork, we may have more to add, but at this stage that is all we have."

"Do you have any members of the guild that specialise in extraplanar matters?"

"We have two or three people here with great knowledge of summoning and travelling, yes. Not myself."

"May we set up a meeting, perhaps for this afternoon?"

"Your writ will open many doors and expedite many things," Clarius says. "I can do it earlier than that if you like."

"Later this afternoon is fine."

"As you wish. Come here some time after afternoon tea and I will have it arranged."

Arrian goes to Ethalyn's tower, meeting up with the others and describing his meeting with Clarius.

"Meeting with this extraplanar specialist will be rather useful," he says. "For two reasons. One: it may provide us with information about these parasites. Two: they are the most likely people to have got them and used them. Perhaps we should host the meeting at Trina…"

"What is their motivation?" Troll asks. "An attack against the Roulae?"

"…Or the Roielles?" Feren adds.

"…Or both," says Rowaine.

"Or anyone who doesn't like the queen," Feren says.

"It was only about twenty minutes after we got the mission to when we were kidnapped," Arrian says. "That is not enough time to prepare that kind of magic. I think it is not the mission."

"So you don't think it is anyone who heard us get that mission?" Rowaine clarifies. "Anybody at that meeting?"

"It doesn't mean that it wasn't someone at that meeting," Troll says. "It's just that the meeting probably wasn't the reason it happened. We were a thorn in the side of the Kanafel takeover."

"It is possible it was a whim," Arrian says, "but I think it unlikely."

"Who knew about the mission before the meeting?" Lionel asks.

"The whole purpose of putting us to sleep must have been to put those things in our necks," Troll says.

Arrian thinks out loud. "That whole episode was designed to take us over, get us to do what they want. We know an elf put them on us."

"And that elf made sure that no one else knew about it by having that other elf appear drunk," Troll adds.

"It must be something about us… Our access to the queen? Elondel? Trina?"

"If it were Trina, Trina would know," Troll says. "Very few people know about Elondel. The spiderkillers know about Trina. Anyone powerful would know about the history of Trina."

"So not a scheme to get control of Trina…"

"Or Elondel. I don't see it as very likely."

"I think it has to be something to do with the queen. An assassination? Whatever is going on is most probably tied into the coup."

"I agree. Also, there is the undercurrent of Roulae animosity… Although again, that's probably not in itself an explanation."

"Wasn't that the public explanation for the coup?" Rowaine asks.

"Yes. Whether or not it is true, there is that thread running through. It could just be somebody with a lot of magic disapproving of the marriage. Probably anti-Roielle. Possibly a grab for power. It could just be evil doing evil. The Kanafels? They are involved. The Larellians? Sovak left early; I'd be interesting in having a piece of him for Trina to look at. But he could easily have hired someone to do that. I'd be very surprised if he was directly responsible."

The group request a meeting with the queen. She has some time free before her midday briefing with Riaz. They talk about their motivation theories. The consensus is that it is unlikely to be about controlling the towers because very few people know about them, nor Trina, because anyone that powerful would probably know that Trina would know not to obey a compromised Roulae.

"You know one thing we have never asked?" Arrian says. "Whether Trina would still obey Troll if she knew he were controlled by another entity."

"I don't think she would," Troll says.

"So your conclusion is that it is not about the things that we command, that it is about who we are?" Queen Raewyn asks.

"Yes," Troll says.

"Or that we could be turned into a weapon," Arrian says, "aimed at Her Majesty."

"I still think it could be some anti-Roulae thing…"

"Do you think that the real reason behind the coup was as advertised, this anti-Roulae sentiment?" the queen asks.

"Maybe not at the top," Troll says, "but definitely the lower ranks. I don't believe that Theodric was in his right mind. To say that it was one of the bigger families is a pretty big ask as far as I'm concerned. My guess is anti-Roulae."

"It is a convenient hook to hang one's sentiments upon," the queen comments. "If is just a lever to get people moving, then it is a fairly obvious one."

"If someone wanted power, then perhaps that is all the justification that they needed - perhaps they started believing their own lie. Something powerful was definitely manipulating Theodric, and something about that caused him to lose his mind."


"Was the Larellian checked for infestation before he left?" Arrian asks.

"No one knew about these parasites at the time," the queen replies. "In the same vein, no one has checked K'at. He has also left."

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