Chapter 16: Sovak

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Session Number: 128
Date: Sunday 1 April 2012
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr10 (Fergus) (kills: 1 wizard, 1 Isendor guard)
Feren Rog11 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Lionel Rgr6/Wiz1/ArcA4 (Ash) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal11 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz11 (Densial) (kills: Sovak Larellian, 2 Isendor guards)

XP Awarded: TBA

"We should wait to see if Rowaine can get out herself," Troll says. "If she can't, then we intervene. Don't engage unless necessary; the less they know about who survived the inside of the redwood, the better. Somebody keep an eye on the stair in case someone comes up!"

Lionel watches the stair. Arrian's monkeys all attack a guard but cannot breach his armour. Arrian casts Dispel Magic, targetting an area inside the webs that encompasses Rowaine. The webs disappear - as does Rowaine. Troll knows of only one spell that would make Rowaine visible to everyone: Dispel Magic. Which, being an instantaneous spell, would not be dispelled. She could have attacked, but why then would she then disappear? Did she sink into the ground, perhaps on Harley?

Feren ducks down, moves to the window and cautiously pokes head up to look out the window. He keeps a close eye on the two wizards. They seem to be very alert, but don't notice him. He prepares to back away from the window should anyone outside show signs of spotting him.

Troll casts Invisibility Sphere, centred on himself. He peers over the windowsill and looks out, indicating that he has just made them all invisible. He too watches the spellcasters.

The Isendor guards attack the celestial monkeys in well-practiced pairs. One falls to their sword thrusts and another is seriously injured. The monkeys have nothing to answer with.

Sovak casts a spell upon himself, which Troll identifies as Stoneskin. "Why would he do that?" he thinks to himself. "People," he says, "we are leaving!"

It's not roleplaying without at least one Aliens reference :-)

Sovak also pulls out something from his robes. "Do you see this?" he says loudly, looking up at the tree. Feren ducks back. Arrian and Troll see Sovak present a leather necklace that bears a pendant. It is a holy symbol, roughly hewn out of wood, of an anvil. A symbol of Moradin. Arrian knows it; it is Rowaine's.

"Stand down and she doesn't get hurt!" Sovak finishes.

"How did they do that?" Troll thinks to himself. "Did they snatch it from her with some sort of Telekinesis? Why?"

"If they have taken her," Troll says aloud, "we can't be taken."

The wizard beside Sovak casts an arcane spell: Shield. Lionel stays where he is, following Troll's lead and expecting to be teleported out at any moment. The monkeys continue to mob a single guard, ineffectually.

"If they've taken her holy symbol," Troll says, "then they know who she is, that she is a paladin or a cleric of Moradin. That puts us all in danger!"

Arrian casts Flame Strike, centred to catch both spellcasters. He becomes visible as the flames touch down from heaven - whoooomph. One wizard dies in righteous fire, as does a guard. Sovak stays up.

"Argh!" Sovak screams. "She dies! I tell you she dies!" The leather and the wood of the symbol smokes in his still-raised hand. Sovak grits his teeth and looks at the window where Arrian is. "You have… one chance!"

Arrian turns to Troll. "I say we blow this one away and charm the captain."

"We have no idea where Rowaine is!" Lionel argues.

"We cannot be captured!" Troll barks. "We are of no use to Rowaine if we are held." Arrian agrees. Troll opens the window. "I don't think you understand," he yells. "We were never trying to protect ourselves from you. We were trying to protect you from us. You have one chance to survive this!" BOOM: a Fireball explodes, catching three people that he can see but not encompassing the area that Rowaine was. Sovak and two guards caught in the blast char and collapse. The symbol is held in Sovak's blackened hand. Troll pulls out a wand and looks at Arrian, obviously planning to continue this.

The guards complete their assault on the monkeys; the remaining creatures fall to their blades and disappear. The guards close ranks around the tree.

"I've got it!" Troll says. "That," he says, pointing at Sovak, is not a person. That is a piece of luggage that can be Teleported."

"It's dead," Arrian says. "Therefore, it's not a person."

"Can you Raise him?"


"There we go! We take him back to Trina…"

Arrian completes the sentence: "…and raise the fuck out of him! This could be a way of ridding them of the infection!"

"That's the new plan."

Lionel starts down the stairs. "Wait, come back!" Troll yells after him. "I can take us all!" Lionel climbs back up the staircase. Troll casts Dimension Door and transports all down to where the wizards lie smoking.

"You two," Troll says to Lionel and Feren, "pick those guys up, we're leaving!" They notice that Sovak is down, but not out. He is dying, wheezing, gurgling. he counts as a person, not a piece of luggage. Troll wants that fixed. Arrian draws his sword and stabs it through Sovak's right eye, into his brain. He is very dead now.

The guards charge forward, stabbing Arrian and Lionel. Feren picks up Rowaine's symbol from the ground, then Sovak. Lionel throws the other wizard over his shoulder, presenting an opening to an adjacent guard who exploits it. Lionel is marked and bleeding. Before the first drops of blood stain the ground, Troll Teleports everyone to Trina.


"Trina!" Troll yells. The slight, female representation of the Tree of Life slides out of the endotaa at the centre of the grove and walks over to Troll. "I'm gonna want to have a talk with him. Can you stop these bodies from decaying?"

"Of course," Trina replies. "I did not know that you talked with dead things. That's not natural."

"Oh, I don't intend for them to remain dead for very long."

"That's not natural either."

"Trina, we can discuss the intricacies of natural law later. Right now, I need you to do something for me. Are either of them host to those parasites?"

Trina looks at the two charred corpses. "I would stand back if I were you. There is something… coming out of one of them. Do you wish me to deal with it?"

"Can you capture it?" Troll asks.

"I could pick it up…"

"If you do that, can it infect you?"

"I don't… think… so."

"Which one?"

"The one with the trauma to the head."

"Capture it if you can."

"You wish it… alive?"

"If you can. If you think it is at all dangerous, then no."

"Stand back." Trina rolls Sovak over. There is an awful lot of blood. There is a squelch as something starts exiting the neck. Trina grabs it. It is wriggling between her fingers, a black and yellow worm-like creature, squealing.

"Abbey," Troll says, "we need this thing contained."

Abbey enters the tent. "Ooh, we normally throw those things out."

"These things?"

"Caterpillars, yeah."

"We think this is one of the things that was in my neck," Troll explains."

"Oh," she says, subdued. She immediately brightens. "What do you think - stone box?"

"Yes, whatever you think you can come up with. Lead lined? With imithrium on the outside? Wait, hold the imithrium, it'll kill people. I'm gonna want to talk with that thing too, if I can."

"Shouldn't be long, I'll get onto it. What colour?"

Trina still holds the creature. "Trina," Arrian says, "anything you can discover about this parasite, now you have a live one, is going to be valuable."

"Hmmm," Trina muses, holding the creature up between her thumb and forefinger and examining it from all sides. It continues its high-pitched squeal. "It is a demon. It is trying to reach out to us."

"How?" Arrian asks.

"With its mind."

"Any way you could stop that?"

"I could squash it?"

"Do you think it can understand us?" Troll asks.

"It is intelligent."

Troll talks to the creature. "Wiggle twice if you can understand us!" The creature does not stop wiggling.

"If you wish," Trina says, "I could put it to sleep?"

"That would be good. It could be communicating with its peers." Trina looks at the creature, and it becomes still.

"Can you keep it like that?" Arrian asks.

"Yes… It will not be healthy for it."

"How long before it suffers?"

"It needs to eat, it needs to feed."

"Two days?"

"I expect it will survive that long."

Abbey appears with a box. It even has a little lock on it. Trina and Abbey look at each other. Abbey extends the open box and Trina drops the creature inside. Abbey snaps the lid closed. Abbey hands the box to Troll, who places it on the table.

"Abbey," he says, "keep an eye on it. If you think it's getting out, squish it. Don't let anyone open that box."

"Trina," Arrian asks, "are you able to examine the demon while it is inside the box?"

"No, I cannot. I can no longer hear it."

"What was it trying to communicate?" Feren asks.

"It was trying to influence us."

"Abbey," says Arrian, "can you perceive the creature inside the box?"

"Ooh, yes. It is quiet now."

"It could have magical abilities," Arrian says to the group. "It could just teleport out of there."

"Let me know it it does anything," Troll asks Abbey.

"You have asked me to keep it asleep?" Trina asks.

"Can you keep it asleep while it is in the box?"

"I would have to open the box."

"I don't want the box opened," Troll says.

"Keep it asleep outside the box," Arrian suggests.

"If we let it come awake," Troll says, "we know it's still alive."

"Would Trina be able to supply nutrients to the creature?" Feren asks. Trina is not sure how long her sedation will last; she has not seen something with its physiology.

"You keep the box open," Troll says to Trina and Abbey, "and see what you two can make of it. If it wakes up or does anything, close the box."

Troll talks to Ethalyn about what has happened. They conclude that Avarriel needs to be informed about recent events, and their discovery that Detect Evil and Detect Thoughts can be used to positively identify infection. Arrian heals Lionel and himself.

"I thought there were two possibilities," Troll says. "That the council are the secret good guys, know what is going on, and wanted to have a secret talk with us; or they are bad guys, leading us into a trap."

"Could Sovak be the mastermind behind all of the parasites?" Feren asks.

"Rowaine could be free, you know…" Arrian says.

Troll looks at him. "We will find out tomorrow."

Trina has to sedate the creature once more during the day. The next morning, Arrian prepares two Raise Dead and Troll three Teleport spells. Arrian suggests that they secure the elves before raising them. Troll questions the political wisdom of doing so.

"I think when it comes to the preservation of the monarchy," Ethalyn says, "more or less anything can be justified. Put it this way: our enemies have second-guessed us and penetrated our defences at every turn. I don't think we can be too careful."

Troll checks the dead elves for magical equipment, divests them of the things he finds and has Abbey secure them both in stone chairs with built-in shackles. Arrian then Raises Sovak.

The elf draws breath and throws up, panting wildly. He screams. There is dried blood, humour and gore down the side of his face, from the mess that was his right eye. He struggles against his bonds, then looks upon his captors with his one good eye. His gaze lingers upon Lionel. "You!" he exclaims. "He looks again at the others assembled around him and recognition dawns upon his face.

Arrian speaks. "I'm sorry about the steps necessary to get you here and free from the creature possessing you. My name is Arrian."

"It is gone?" Sovak asks, his voice faltering.

"We have removed it," Feren replies.

"Are you OK?" Arrian asks. Sovak weeps openly for a time, then steadies himself. "Water," he states. Water is brought; Arrian brings the cup to his lips.

"We need to make sure you are yourself," Arrian says once Sovak has finished. "It is our full intention to free you once we are sure you are OK."

"I am Sovak Larellian, second son of Sir Imothell Larellian of House Larellian."

Arrian casts Detect Thoughts, sensing but one mind. "Sovak, it is good to have you back. Do you have any memories of the last couple of days?"

"Too many."

"What was the last thing you remember?"


"I can only say that I am sorry for the method. The outcome was to free you from this thing and we didn't have any other way of doing it."

"You weren't to know."

"Sovak, I believe your family is also possessed. Are you aware of this?"

"They almost certainly are. Some of them, at least."

"Which of them do you know to be possessed? We know about Sir Imothell."

"My cousin Maishéoll. He is behind this treachery!"

"Perhaps we should make sure Sovak is alright," Troll suggests, "and that he is answering truthfully." Arrian casts Zone of Truth.

"I am so sorry," Sovak mutters, perhaps to himself. He is not looking directly at any of the party.

"We should raise the other one so that any spells we cast affect both," Troll says. Arrian Raises the other wizard, similarly restrained.

"Are you OK?" Arrian asks the wizard, once his breathing becomes less laboured.

"I am OK," he replies.

"Sovak is next to you. Sovak, I think you need to inform this person about what had been going on."

"That can happen when they know that they are OK," Troll interrupts. "I don't want to keep them in these chairs forever." Troll summons Trina and asks whether the second elf returned to life is similarly infected.

"He is one," Trina informs.

The second wizard turns and looks at Sovak. "Your Highness, I am at their mercy, I am sorry." Sovak doesn't respond.

"Sovak," Arrian asks, "were you acting against your will in the actions you have taken since being infected, or do you agree with those actions?"

"Do I agree with those actions?" Sovak says. "Of course not. I am sorry, you are not to know. I have done terrible things. Terrible things."

"Do you now swear your allegiance to the queen?"

"Yes I do." He looks very distraught. "There is something you must know. I am sorry, I was the one that did to you what was done to me. I was not myself at the time, and yet I am still sorry."

"By what means did you do it?"

"I rendered you all unconscious with a spell."

"What spell?"

"A Symbol of Sleep. I then transported you to my lands, lands I knew as a child. Lands that I and Maishéoll knew that you would die in. But you did not."

"We do not hold you responsible," Arrian says. "Sovak, you might want to explain to your man here what has been going on and why we captured both of you."

"You may do that in peace if you like," Troll says.

"Is there anything else that you need at this point?" Arrian asks.

Sovak looks down. "Redemption."

"Well, we mean to offer you every chance to do that."

Sovak looks at those assembled. "Your companion, where is she? What day is this?"

"It is 24 hours since Rowaine was taken."

"Rowaine, yes that was her name. She is surely dead. Maishéoll will not let her live."

"How was she taken?" Troll asks.

"I saw her coming down the stair in the redwood. Myself and Maishéoll set a trap. I Dominated her, forced her off the Disc that she was on, and then Teleported her back to Maishéoll's residence. I then came back."

"Maishéoll, tell me about him," Arrian says. "Is he a spellcaster?"

"He is a cleric of Corellon Larethian."

"He is the head cleric, right?" Troll asks.

"No, he is an underpriest."

"Is he capable of using his spells while under the influence of this thing?" Arrian asks.

"I was."

"Are you a cleric?"

"No, I am a sorceror." Sovak starts looking at the party's faces.

"Have you seen Maishéoll cast any spells since you know that he was infected?"

"Many times. He cast a spell at the base of your redwood to ensure that the girl could not make a sound when we took her."

"So what was it that we saw in the web?" Troll asks.

"An illusion, created by my companion here. I am sorry for your loss."

"We are not giving up hope yet," Arrian says.

"Are you saying that Maishéoll is doing this?" Troll asks. "Knowingly, or unknowingly?"

"He controls us. He orders us. He dominates us through these … creatures."

"And is he free," Arrian asks, "or is he also controlled by one of these things?"

"I do not know. But he is the centre of it all. He is the one giving the orders."

"Are you aware of any particular vulnerabilities of these creatures?"

"Once they are inside you and they control you, that is it. You are not yourself. Before they pierce your mind, you are without memory. I suppose the only chance you have is in those weeks before you are fully dominated."

"Do you think that he will kill Rowaine, rather than infect her?"

"She is a paladin?" Sovak says. "Maishéoll is thoroughly evil and unpredictable. They are diametrically opposed. The only chance is that when I died, the Domination ended. She may have had a chance."

"…In which case she would have called Harley," Troll says. "And Harley would have ripped the place apart to get to her."

"Harley?" Sovak asks.

"She has a mount," Troll replies.

"A paladin's mount, that is summoned?"


"It would not do her any good."

"Where is she?"

"I left her and Maishéoll in his residence."

"Anywhere near the ground?"

"She is probably in the second level of his endotaa, but it is protected against translocational magic."

"Well, I suspect it isn't protected against a Fireball. We are going to go in and save her. We are going to need some intel. And a bit of planning."

"Maishéoll dominated all of you," Arrian says. "Did that mean that he was aware of what you were doing at all times? Could he communicate to you across distance?"

"I surmise so, yes. I did not hear his voice, but I heard the urgings of the creature within me. They were responding to his voice."

"Did he require you to give reports of your actions?"


"So there was some long distance communication between the creatures?" Troll asks.

"He knows what I know. I do not talk and he hears; he sees what I see."

"Did that change depending on how far away you were away from him?" Arrian asks.

"Yes," Sovak says. "When I was in Avarriel, I was not in contact with him at all. I did not receive any orders."

"Right now," Troll says, "you are about two hundred miles away from him."

"Then that is a good thing."

"Because the parasite may not be in contact?" Feren asks.

"Did you not kill it?"

"No," Arrian says. "We are studying it," Troll clarifies. "We have it contained," Feren adds.

"May I ask something of you?"

"Sure," Troll says.

"That you kill it? Kill every one of them."

"That is one of the reasons why we're studying it, trying to find out more about them."

"Sovak," Arrian says, "we need to get you back on your feet as well, because at this point you are the highest ranked Larellian in full control of their faculties."

"My brother is taken," Sovak says. "My father, and my brother."

"If we take out the head," Troll says, "will the body wither?"

Arrian rephrases the question. "What will happen to the rest if Maishéoll is … let's say, incapacitated?"

"I do not know for sure. But those still infected would still be infected. They may take orders from someone else."

"Are you aware of the kind of numbers of infected?" Arrian asks. "Did the infection extend down to the commoners?"

"I do not think so. Besides those I have mentioned, I suspect the head of my order in the Tree of Sorcery, and Dreiden, the Captain of the Guard. I know of no others."

"…All the important people," Lionel comments.

"The captain that was there?" Troll asks.

"Yes. He will know what has happened, and therefore so will Maishéoll."

"He will know that you have been killed and taken away."

How long ago did this start?" Arrian asks.


"Does this have anything to do with the Kanafel uprising?" Troll asks.

"Yes. I do not know the mind of Maishéoll, but he is moving against the capital. He is moving against his queen. For what reason, I do not know. And this: he sent me to pay particular attention to your group. Again, for what reasons, I do not know. He is most upset that you have managed to wriggle out of his every trap so far."

"He knows that our minds weren't taken?"



"One of his scouts encountered you and let him know. His name is Mailaelin."

"Him!" Troll exclaims.

"I don't believe that he is taken," Sovak adds.

"We will leave you alone with your man for a bit first," Troll says. "Abbey, free him, please." Abbey dissolves the stone around Sovak's forearms and lower legs. Sovak rubs his wrists, but does not get up.

"Abbey, be sure they have everything that they need," Troll says. The party then step out of the tent to further discuss their options, leaving Sovak and the wizard in Abbey's care.

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