Chapter 11: Worm

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Session Number: 123
Date: Sunday 19 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

"What have we got left to follow?" Arrian asks, then answers his own question. "We still have the meeting with the guild mage, the planes specialist."

"It might be better to have a home team advantage," Troll says. "At Trina. Unfortunately, I can't take us there today."

"Then let's reschedule the meeting for tomorrow," Arrian suggests.

Troll organises for a message to be delivered to the guild:

"Clarius, please arrange for the person we spoke about to meet us at Princess Ethalyn's tower, midmorning tomorrow. We would also appreciate your attendance. —ER"

There is a return message forty minutes later:

"As the queen commands."

Feren spends the rest of the day discreetly questioning people, trying to tease out more leads to follow. He talks to other members of Falael's cohort. They are disappointed at Falael's misdemeanour, calling it unprofessional at best.

Midmorning the next day, the party wait at Ethalyn's tower entrance. They are not left waiting long: Roielle guards escort two mages to the tower.

"Ah yes," Clarius says. "You are waiting outside. We are here as requested. I bring my esteemed colleague and friend, Schmitt."

"You wish to speak about extraplanar matters?" Schmitt says.

"Yep," says Troll.

Schmitt looks around. "Do you wish to do it here?"

"No, we will be Teleporting away."

"Very well. Do you wish us to perform the spell? I can have a Teleport spell ready in a few minutes."

"No, that's fine."

"May I ask where it is we are going?"

"My holdings," Troll says.

"Lead on, as it were," Clarius says.

Troll Teleports the two mages and Feren to Trina, appearing in the permanent tent illusion that Abbey's wing has produced. The mages look around.

"Refreshments?" Troll asks.

"Tea, please," Schmitt replies.

Troll leaves the tent and finds Trina. "Can you do tea? I have some guests."

"I can have some tea ready," Trina says.

"Scratch that, I'll have Abbey make some. My guests, are either of them the elf that touched the cork?"

"Where are they?"

"In the tent."

Trina falls in on herself for a time. "No, they are not the one."

"Is Ethalyn here?"

"Yes."

"Let her know that I am here, and that I am attending to these mages." Troll then enters Abbey's wing and asks about tea.

"What would you like?" Abbey asks. "Something special, like camomile or peppermint, or just plain tea?"

Troll looks blankly at Abbey. "Come with me. We will ask. They are a contigent of mages from the guild at Avarriel."

"So they'll be looking for nice tea, then."

"They are not fully trusted."

"So you are looking for poisoned tea, then?"

"Just because they are not trusted, does not mean that they are not trustworthy, Abbey."

"Alright, I'll just give them what they want, shall I?" Abbey enters the tent and takes tea orders.

Troll, Feren and the guild mages get down to business. Schmitt describes what Clarius has told him concerning the worms that burrowed into their necks.

"Do you know of such a creature?" Troll asks.

"I know of one creature somewhat similar," Schmitt says, "but it does not burrow inside its host. It is more like a leech than a worm. It is known colloquially as a 'puppeteer'. I don't know if you have heard of it?" At Troll's shake of the head, Schmitt continues. "Imagine a bloated leech with psionic ability and a very bad attitude. They are able to psionically dominate their host."

"They are from another plane?" Troll asks.

"I don't believe so. I do not know the puppeteer particularly well."

"The creature in my neck is supposedly not from this plane."

"Ah. Well, it is possible I guess that some analogue of this creature that I am not aware of exists on another plane. Have you had it examined at all?"

"Yes."

"Do you have a sample? I could have a look at it, if you wish."

"No, would that help? Let me see if I can find one."

Troll excuses himself and seeks out Trina. "How dangerous would it be to extract a sample of this creature from my neck?"

"If it is dead, then it should pose no problem at all. It appears not to have caused any lasting damage to your mind or your memories. A physical extraction should be straightforward."

"Who can do this?"

"I can. Would you like me to put you to sleep first?"

Troll fetches Feren from the tent. "Guess what you're about to volunteer to do?" He tells him.

"Yeah, alright," Feren says.

"You wish this to happen now?" Trina asks.

"How about after the meeting?" Feren says. "How long will it take?"

"You will be asleep for several hours. It will take me less time than that to extract the creature, but I do not want you to be uncomfortable when you wake up."

Feren grits his teeth. "Do it now."

Trina leads Feren to a private room in the SpiderKiller complex. She covers his brow with her hand - it is cool. "Sleep, my child," she says. "When you wake, your neck will be a little sore."

Troll continues the conversation with the guest mages. "Is there any other information you can provide?"

"Without analysing the species, anything else I might say would be pure speculation… unless you can think of any information you can provide?"

"No, I can't think of anything," Troll says.

Troll engages his guests in chitchat and offers them lunch. After the meal, Trina comes to Troll. "The Roielle is awake," she says.

Troll blanches. "Can you tell my wife to come and see me please? I'll be right back." When he and Trina are alone, he says, "Do not call Feren that again." He tells Ethalyn about the mishap, then reenters the tent.

Some time later, Troll and the mages are joined by Trina. She passes a folded leaf to Troll. Inside is a dessicated and shrivelled worm, stripedin yellow and black. Its head has anenome-like tendrils.

"May I?" Schmitt says. Troll hands him the package.

"Hmmmm. Very curious. Do you mind if I inspect this magically?"

"That's fine."

Schmitt casts three divination-based spells. "Hmmmm. It is most certainly an outsider. I would say with a fair amount of certainty that it is demonic."

"Interesting. Ever heard of something called a ruelock?"

"A ruelock? I am not familiar with the name, but there may be something in our library."

"We have an ongoing interest in the ruelock. It is possibly demonic, definitely nasty and not from around here."

"Can you describe it?"

"I have never met it, but it has been described to me as a large, inky cloud or mass."

"Well," Schmitt says, "it is not uncommon for creatures like this to start life as larvae and then grow into things quite different - the veritable caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation. It is possible they are connected. Although I wouldn't think that something that starts off with a material body would turn into something that doesn't."

"So this is a demon of some kind?"

"Almost certainly."

"And it would have grown into something bigger? Or would it stay as it is?"

"I am not certain. The way that demons work is very different to life here. Are you familiar with lemures? One of the lowest forms of demonkind. They serve in very very poor conditions for aeons with the hope of sometime being 'promoted' to a better class of demon, as it were. It is possible this is something like that."

"Trina, do you know anything about demons?"

"I have seen some in my time," Trina says. "I don't like them. I drive them away. They don't belong here."

"They have somewhere else to hide. Don't worry, I'll get them all one day. I have got the arachtria to deal with first, then I will move to demons. So we don't know whether it was going to develop further? Continue to do something to the host?"

"May I look at the scar on your neck?" Schmitt asks. Troll turns around.

"Well, I am no expert on these things, but I would say that if something of that size crawled into your neck, it would have left a lot larger scar than the one you presently have. So I would say it has grown already. How far it would go is anyone's guess. If you like, I could take it back to the guild and have some of my other learned colleagues examine it..?"

"Good idea," Troll says. "I am going to have a couple of other sages examine it first."

"Wise," Schmitt says. "As many opinions as possible is probably a good thing."

Troll retrieves the leaf and its contents. "Make yourselves at home. I'll be back."

"Will we be staying the night?" Clarius asks.

"No, I had not planned on it."

"Very well."

Troll enters Abbey's wing and asks about the worm and cork. Elondel has identified that the substance on the cork is the remains of something that is often used to preserve flesh, something akin to embalming fluids.

"Would this liquid stop this thing growing?" Troll asks.

"Very few things will grow in the liquid, sir," Elondel says. "Quite the opposite, most will die."

"Would it hold a demon in stasis?"

"I'm afraid I don't know. Saju probably would."

"Yes, one day we must try and track down Saju. Do you wish to keep a sample?"

"What do you wish me to do with it, sir?"

"I was just wondering if you wish to keep a sample."

"I can keep it for you, if you like."

"That would be good." Elondel takes a sample - the back half. Troll takes the remaining front half back to the mages. They inspect the remains.

"What?" Schmitt says. "Oh, OK. Alright. It is what it is." He seems disappointed.

"Did you want the whole thing?" Troll asks.

"To study a thing such as this is a great opportunity for us. We were not expecting to only have half of it. You can imagine an ornithologist told of a never-before-seen species, and they only get to study one half. Never mind," he sighs, "we will work with what we have."

"I have more," Troll says. "Just not available at the moment. I believe that is us for now."

"I trust we have been of use to you?"

"You have. Let's get you back."

"We can make our own way back," Clarius offers, "if you would tell us roughly how far your holdings are from Avarriel?"

"It is about a hundred miles. You can go, or you are welcome to stay."

"It is best that we are back," Clarius says. Schmitt pulls out a small book and begins studying it.

Troll leaves the tent, finds Ethalyn, summons Trina and goes to Abbey. He brings them all up to speed with his findings. He then thinks about returning to Ethalyn's tower.

"Do you wish my brother to return with you?" Ethalyn asks, a hint of a smirk on her face.

"Oops."

When Feren wakes, Trina is there. "You are free to go," she says, smiling. Feren's neck is a little sore - less than he expected. He reaches behind and feels the skin at the back of his neck. It is perfectly smooth. Trina alerts Troll that his brother-in-law is awake. "Don't call him that, either! Troll snaps.

Troll Teleports himself and Feren back to Ethalyn's tower and passes on to the party all that he has learned.

"I have a Divination spell prepared," Arrian says. "It seems like a good time to use it." He casts the spell:

"I am going to find the entity that put the creatures in our necks."

The response:

"The answers you seek are in Isendor, but take great care."

Isendor is the primary city in Larellian territory, Lionel's home city. It is a little over two hundred miles from Avarriel.

The party have things to discuss with the queen - things that can wait for their standing invitation to the queen's dinner table. Troll does not attend, as is his custom; he returns to Trina for the night.

Over dinner, Arrian, Rowaine, Feren and Lionel talk to Queen Raewyn, Prince Elathon, Princess Elowyn and Riaz. The queen's spymaster asks after the meeting with guild members. Feren tells them all about the organism extracted from his neck, and that Troll is investigating. He says that according to Schmitt, it was an outsider, probably demonic.

"Demonic?" Queen Raewyn says. "You have been the subject of demons before, have you not?"

"Not internally…"

"Yes," Arrian adds. "Feren has been the target of a spell that drew a demon attack."

"We believed that it was done by Theodric," Feren says, "and against all Roielles."

"Corellon Larethian has told me that answers are to be found in Isendor," Arrian says.

"The Larellian!" Queen Raewyn exclaims.

"We don't know anything for certain yet," Feren cautions. "We can extend the investigation there."

"This matter must be treat with a great deal of tact," the queen says. "As you know, Elowyn is to be wed to Adrialus Larellian in a month. I think a delay might be in order. What do you plan to do with this information?"

"Go to Isendor," Feren says. "Ideally, talk to Sir Imothell."

"We don't have any other leads at this point," Arrian adds.

"I dismissed a company of their soldiers nearly a week ago," Queen Raewyn says. "They will have probably reached Isendor by now."

"Was Sir Imothell travelling with them?" Feren asks.

"No, he was not with them," the queen says. "He will be in Isendor now, I expect. It is a while since I have seen him. Ethalyn's wedding."

"Which was held at Trina," Arrian says, the inference being that he is not the elf that touched the cork. "Your Majesty, how widely known do you believe the knowledge of Trina and her abilities and the towers to be? Do the Larellians know of these things? They were at Trina…"

"Anybody with the name Roielle, Larellian or Kanafel probably has a good knowledge of what Trina used to be, if they are educated. And many of them now know her to be awake again. The knowledge of Trina is fairly widespread amongst the nobility."

"And the knowledge of the towers?" Feren asks.

"Far less so. I certainly do not speak of it."

"Do the Kanafels or the Larellians know of them?" Arrian asks.

"They might."

"Do the Larellians know of Feren's background?"

"I do not believe so."

"Although the Kanafels do," Arrian says. "At least Theodric knew."

"Yes," Raewyn says, "my brother and his wife know, but it should not be widespread. I asked for that information to be held close. What are you thinking, cleric?"

"You went to some effort yourself to acquire some influence over Trina and the towers. It is certainly a prize to be sought."

"You believe the motive to be to control a tower, or Trina?"

"Two things that are controlled by people of a certain bloodline," Arrian posits. "Were I to want to get control of that, there are two things I would do. One: how do I become part of that bloodline? Two: how do I kill off everyone else that already is?"

"You believe the marriage to be that first step," Raewyn says.

Densial's musings: the Larellians could feel a bit left out. The Roielles are in power, the Queen is a Kanafel. What do the Larellians have? If Elathon were to die, Elowyn and Adrialus are next in line to the throne. But… using demons is a fairly extreme means.

Fergus: would Trina obey a Roielle with a worm in their neck?

Back at Trina, Troll has the remains of the worm in his neck removed. He keeps the remains for the mages at Avarriel.

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