Chapter 17: Recovery

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Session Number: 129
Date: Sunday 8 April 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

Troll summons Abbey. "Let me know what they are saying in there," he says. Abbey starts walking towards the tent. "No, from out here, if you can."

"Oh, I see," Abbey says, rubbing her hands together. "Like that, is it? Alright, then…" She walks back into her wing.

Troll suggests to the other three that they organise a surgical strike, including Sovak who can give the operation some political weight. Feren wants to make sure there are no civilian casualties.

"That's what Sovak's job is," Troll says.

"What if Sir Imothell shows up?" Feren argues.

"Then we go to war. He is the only one who can overrule Sovak. Our primary objective is rescuing Rowaine. That's it."

"So how do we stop Sir Imothell?"

"Fireball him."

The party reenter the tent. Sovak is standing, leaning against the table inside.

"Abbey, you wouldn't mind releasing this other elf, would you?" Troll asks.

"Done in a jiffy," Abbey says as she pulls open the canvas. She walks over to the table and puts down the glass she carries, then crosses over to the stone prison, walks behind the elf trapped therein and rests her hands on either side of the stone. It melts like dry ice, dissipating into vapour. The elf stands up, rubs his forearms and shins, then walks over to Sovak. They exchange glances, then the elf addresses the party. "Herfod, at your service."

The party ask Sovak about Maishéoll's endotaa. "Do you have anything to write with?" he asks. Troll has paper and ink brought in, and Sovak begins sketching:

maisheoll_endotaa_sketch.jpg

Sovak explains that a lot of the quarantining of infected people has happened on the first level. It used to be a meeting room, now substantially refitted: the external windows are boarded up, and new ones have been added to the spiral staircase column. Most of the original furniture has been removed. There is a permanent spell cast on the level that prevents translocational magic: teleports, summonings, and the like. Sovak suspects that is where the paladin will have been taken. When Sovak Teleports into Maishéoll's endotaa, he appears on the ground floor. Sovak has never been to the top level, but knows that it is Maishéoll's private quarters.

"Is Maishéoll infected?" asks Arrian.

"I believe so," Sovak replies. "He communicated to the parasites in us and forced us to do his bidding. The most logical way that I can see would be if he himself were also infected, and yet somehow not controlled."

"You don't think he was controlled like you were?"

"No, I believe he is acting of his own free will."

"How would you know?"

Sovak's gaze is steady. "I do not know with certainty. It is my gut feeling. My cousin has always been ambitious and yet in the shadow of others. There has always been something of darkness to him. We thought that a life in the clergy would see him on the straight and narrow path, and to most extents it has. He has progressed exceedingly well through the ranks. Some might say too much so, I don't know. But the actions of which I speak are nothing short of evil. If I am right, something has happened. Something dramatic. I cannot rule out that he is being controlled by some other, but my feeling is that he is not."

"Infected or not," Troll says, "we have to treat him the same way. Boom."

Sovak appears to be leaning quite heavily against the table. Arrian invites the elf to sit down. Sovak accepts.

"Can I get you anything?" Arrian asks.

"Water." Troll directs Abbey to bring water, which Sovak accepts. Troll steps out of the tent, finds Ethalyn and asks for a physician. He also asks for her to start assembling a strike force. "Do you have anyone here who can Teleport?"

"No," Ethalyn replies. "I'm afraid they have all returned to Avarriel."

Troll returns to the tent, bringing in Ethalyn and the physician. She recognises and greets Sovak, explaining the physician's presence. Arrian gestures for Troll to step outside with him.

"I believe we need to take caution," Arrian says. "We should not put all our eggs in one basket. If we go in and are all killed, Isendor remains lost to these demons. We have some duty to free up Sovak to lead a resistance."

After a few minutes, the physician exits and reports to Troll. Herfod is understandably weak, but otherwise fine. Sovak, however, is exhausted and nauseous. He is hiding it, and at first objected to being examined - a warning sign that all physicians everywhere soon learn to identify. Sovak's balance and strength are severely compromised; he struggles to walk unaided. The physician is not sure why.

"Can you try healing him?" Troll asks. The physician nods and enters the tent. He emerges a minute later.

"I have healed his wounds. His body is healthy, but he still suffers from this nausea. I'm unable to repair that with the spells I have available."

"Is he cursed?" Troll asks.

"I'm afraid I cannot tell."

"Troll," Arrian says, "ask Trina if Sovak is poisoned or diseased." Troll does so.

"His mind has suffered greatly," Trina says. "I think he needs time. You may be able to help him, faster than he himself will heal."

"How would we go about doing that?" Arrian asks.

"He needs healing magic."

Troll and Arrian rejoin the others inside the tent. "Sovak," Troll begins, "when we turned up, did you know who we were?"

"No."

"Why did you attack?"

"I have no idea. Maishéoll directed us against you. I guess he became suspicious." He glances at Lionel. "It was only after I came here and saw my man here, though looking as he is, that I finally placed you all myself. And that was only because I had seen you all before. I don't believe Maishéoll has."

"So Maishéoll probably doesn't know who we are…"

"At least not when we were ordered to the redwood. Now that he has one of your people… who can say? It all very much depends on whether she is alive and whether she is herself. If she is not herself, then Maishéoll has very little that he can do to figure out who she is; she won't know herself. If she is alive, and has her mind, how good is she at resisting torture?"

"I think she will hold out," Troll says. "As long as we are there quickly. That's why we are leaving today."

"Did Herfod manage to detect us when he came into the redwood?" Feren asks.

"No," Sovak answers. "That is why I was called. I could not detect you either. How did you do that?"

"I'll tell you after all this is over," Troll says.

"Ah. Yes."

"How did you detect Rowaine?" Arrian asks.

"As soon as the waiting watch was set up around the redwood, I kept a spell in operation that allows me to see what would ordinarily be invisible. I saw her come down the stairs."

"Do you have Teleport spells?" Troll asks.

"Yes… but I cannot cast them."

"Do you have your spellbooks with you?"

"I do not use spellbooks."

"Hmmm," Troll mutters. "Not real magic, but it'll do. How do you feel about going to war?"

"Show me the way. Or rather, I should probably show you."

"I now see an argument for going tomorrow, not today," Troll says to the party. "I think we may need Sovak's firepower."

"I can take your group into the ground floor of Maishéoll's endotaa, if you wish," Sovak offers. "Once I can stop this blasted room spinning!"

"If we were to teleport there right now, what do you think would happen?"

"Horstel would probably have a heart attack."

"Horstel?" asks Feren.

"Maishéoll's butler."

"Any alarms?" Troll asks.

"There is a bell in the stairwell outside the door on the first level. I don't know of any of his other defences, if he has any. I am sure he does. He is a smart character."

"What if we're invisible?"

"I doubt whether Horstel has any ability to sense the invisible. Maishéoll might, but he usually left those tasks to me."

"We need people to hold off the troops while we take on Maishéoll," Troll says. "If we have people there that can handle the others, it might just not be a suicide mission. It gives us options. We need to quickly overwhelm the enemy."

"It might work," Sovak says. "It depends on where Maishéoll is. I know something of his rhythms… I can tell you when he is most likely to be asleep."

"Perfect - we go then. A surprise strike at four in the morning."

"Earlier," Sovak corrects. "About two. If your associate is not there, I don't know where she would be. Maybe the Tree of Contrition."

"The Tree of Contrition?" Arrian says.

"Isendor's jail."

"She isn't going to be anywhere except Maishéoll's, is she?"

"It depends on how close Maishéoll wants to keep her."

"Surely he'd be a fool to let her out of his sight."

"Not if he doesn't know who she is," Troll adds. "For all he knows, she's just a guard."

"Sovak had her holy symbol," Feren says. "Maishéoll must know that she is at least a follower of Moradin."

Troll asks Trina about endotaa. "They do not die," she says. "Many of us are thousands of years old. It is usually cataclysm and ruin that takes us. My seeds grow into endotaa. It takes a long time, as you measure it."

"Do you communicate with other endotaa?"

"We are not normally sentient. I could make them sentient…"

"It would take a while, wouldn't it?"

"Yes. Many years."

"They would have free will?"

"That is the nature of life."

"We are still left with the problem of Sovak's disability," Arrian says. "I have no spells prepared that are likely to help. Is there anyone here that has useful spells prepared? Things like Restoration, Remove Curse, Remove Disease, or Neutralise Poison?" The physician excuses himself to find out. A few minutes later a SpiderKiller cleric introduces himself. He has Remove Disease and Remove Curse prepared. Troll asks him to cast them in turn on Sovak; neither help. The earliest the clerics can prepare different spells is sunrise tomorrow. The cleric present agrees to prepare a Restoration spell tomorrow.

"I think Sovak is going to be a huge help," Arrian says, "but I don't think he will be in the state he is in now."

"How about some bed rest?" Feren suggests. "Perhaps all he needs to get over his current predicament is some shuteye."

Sovak throws up. "I do not feel well. Anything I know I will tell you, but I don't know how much more use I will be."

Troll has a litter brought in for Sovak. He looks at Herfod. "You're coming too."

"Whatever my master commands."

The party leave the arcane elves, asking Abbey and Trina to monitor them. The plan is for Sovak to take all party members to Maishéoll's endotaa, if he can. Trina grants Sovak restful sleep.

Sovak is left to his slumber. In the late afternoon, they are told that he has awoken and has immediately thrown up. The sleep has helped; he is somewhat better, but is still unable to concentrate enough to cast spells.

"How long before he's alright, Trina?" Troll asks.

"Three, perhaps four days," Trina replies.

"Too long," Troll says. "We may have to go by ourselves. That rules out appearing in Maishéoll's endotaa. I can get us inside the redwood…"

"The enemy can be pretty sure that we teleported out of the redwood," Arrian says. "It seems likely that if we were to return that it would be there… It would be pretty silly not to have it watched."

"The only other place I have studied is an hour outside the city. We would have to get inside. Is Rowaine being tortured or infected?"

"I think she would be," Arrian says, frowning. "Maishéoll must be pretty interested in who these spell-throwing so-called diplomats really were."

"Then we have to go now," Troll says. "But where do we go? And how important is Sovak Larellian?"

"How relevant is he, if he is out of action?" Arrian counters.

"We haven't exhausted all options for Sovak yet."

"How vital is Sovak, versus how urgent is Rowaine's rescue? It may be that the urgency outweighs any vitalness that Sovak poses."

"Without him, it's just us. Do we think it's a suicide mission if we go without him?"

"It's impossible to know."

"I can take us there right now," Troll says, "to the redwood. How urgent is it that we go now, versus going later but better prepared?"

"If Maishéoll was just going to kill Rowaine," Arrian thinks out loud, "she's dead already. If she is either being tortured or infected, she is going to be alive for a while. And while it might be pretty heinous to go through torture, I'd rather take an option that gives us a higher rate of success and she endure a little longer. I think we should make more preparation and get Sovak involved if we can. For all we know, Maishéoll is powerful enough to have extracted all he wants from Rowaine and she is infected."

"If we can get Sovak on his feet, or if we can't," Troll says, "it doesn't matter. We go. Between 2 and 10 in the morning, Maishéoll probably isn't going to be torturing Rowaine. He will probably be resting and preparing spells."

"I don't think half a day is going to make a difference," concludes Arrian. With that, the decision is made to wait until the following morning.

Troll teleports to Verithna's Ridge. Verithna is curing meat. She hasn't seen Shalélu.

"If you see her," Troll says, "tell her that guy we talked about is not friendly."

"OK," Verithna replies. "You want some dinner? I've got a bottle of wine I've put aside, if you want?"

"Why not?"

Verithna uncorks the bottle, fetches two earthen vessels and pours. "To your health!" she toasts, a little awkwardly.

"I'm going to need it."

"Oh?"

"I'm about to take on a rather nasty character. You know those things that were in our necks? There are a bunch of them."

"What are they doing?"

"Trying to take over the elven kingdom." Verithna's eyes narrow.

"Ever heard of Maishéoll?" Troll continues.

"He's a Larellian," Verithna says after a moment.

"Yes, and a rather high-up priest of Corellon Larethian."

"That rings a bell."

"He's the one who has been infecting people with these demonic parasites."

"I can't believe that! Why would a priest of Corellon Larethian do such a thing?"

"I intend to ask him."

"On whose authority do you have this?"

"Sovak Larellian."

"Second son Sovak Larellian? Hmmmm…"

"So I was wondering whether or not you wanted to come along for a ride."

"Hmmmmm? Hmmmm…. You see my problem. I can't be doing with demons taking over but… see, it's a bit beyond where I like to be."

"I understand," Troll says. "I don't have a problem with that at all. I understand comfort zones. I don't like you elven types for a start."

"It's not about not liking someone, dear boy. It's about knowing where you are in the world. Knowing what you can do, and knowing what you should do. They are very different things. But I will watch with interest, keep me informed, will you?"

Troll nods. "You don't mind if I visit?"

"Not at all."

"I like your food. It's hearty. Not like bloody elves have. By the way Verithna, how did you get rid of the things in our necks?"

"Hmmm. I used a spell that removes disease and parasites."

"Sovak was infected. We, um, killed him and the parasite came out. We then brought him back to life."

"A fairly hefty way of dealing with the problem!" Verithna says, shocked. "Rather a maul to shell a pea, one might say!"

"He was a bad guy at the time. Anyway, long story short, now that he has had this thing removed from his neck, he is throwing up all the time, he's weak, he can't do anything. He's not much use to us and we need him on our side. With your knowledge of what was in our necks, what do you think is wrong with him and how do you think we should deal with it?"

"You couldn't bring him here, could you?"

"I could either take you to him, or bring him here."

"It would help me to help him."

"Would you like to come for a visit?"

"Hmmm… Where are we going?"

"We are going to visit a friend of mine who is a tree."

"That sounds intriguing…"

"I don't suppose you've ever heard of Trina?"

"The Tree of Life?"

"Yes."

"She is asleep."

"Not so much any more."

"This tree was heavily entwined with the history of the Roielle family…"

"Yes. It was a Roielle that helped awaken the tree. One of the people who was here, in fact. So, would you visit?"

"I would," Verithna says. Troll if the slight hesitation is uncertainty or excitement.

As dusk approaches, Troll teleports himself and Verithna back to Trina, outside the tent. Verithna looks around and falls to her knees. She completes the journey, lying face down in the grass, listening to the ground, wriggling her fingers into the turf. She looks up at Troll, whispering "Thank you!" Troll calls Trina over. Trina looks down upon Verithna and smiles. Troll introduces them. "Mistress!" Verithna says to Trina. Troll asks Trina whether Verithna has anything in her neck.

"No," Trina says, still smiling.

"Just checking! Verithna, I know it's been a big day, but I'd like you to have a look at Sovak. He's had a bad day, what with being dead and all, and having one eye. If you could check him out, that would be really good."

Verithna tears her gaze away from Trina. "Yes, yes, that's fine."

Troll leads her to the tent. Verithna introduces herself to Sovak. "What was it you wanted to know?" she asks Troll.

"What's wrong with him, and how we can fix him. We have tried all we can, but we're making guesses and we need him. He's obviously ill."

"Yes, I can tell by the bucket and the stench in here! That man needs to eat more vegetables and drink less wine!" Verithna takes a close look at Sovak. "Hmmmm… I'm not all that familiar with the mind, but from what you are saying and what I am seeing, I would say that this boy's mind is struggling to gain dominion over itself again and this is manifesting outwardly as sickness. His mind has been forced into shapes that it does not fit; it is trying to reassert itself."

"Any idea what we might do to help that along?"

"There may be something I can do tomorrow. I do not have these sorts of spells available to me today."

"Would you like to stay the night?"

"Dearly."

"You are welcome here." Troll introduces Verithna to Ethalyn, but does not reveal his relationship to her.

"You once told me, Troll, that you were one of the good guys. I trust with this much power that you are."

"Feel free to talk to Trina," Troll says. "Make up your own mind as to whether you think I am good. I'd like you to think I am, but I'd like you to make up your own mind."

"I thank you for the opportunity."

"Can I ask a favour? Can you stay here a couple of days?"

Verithna thinks about this. "Yes, I think I can manage that. Wane can certainly look after himself, and his mate."

"Thank you, it saves me having to take you back." Verithna wanders out of the tent and seeks out Trina.

The party have a muted dinner. Troll "visits" Ethalyn. Everyone settles down to troubled sleep.

Morning arrives and the spellcasters commit spells to memory. Arrian prepares a Lesser Restoration and three Detect Thoughts spells. Troll drops some utility spells for extra firepower.

Colour has returned to Sovak's face, but the elf is still very weak. Arrian casts Lesser Restoration and Neutralise Poison, neither of which aid him.

"Alright, my turn," Verithna says, striding up to Sovak. She casts a spell and Sovak's nausea immediately recedes.

"What was the spell?" Arrian asks.

"Restoration."

Sovak searches his mind: yes, he is again able to tap into his arcane potential. He believes he can make three return Teleport journeys. Troll doesn't want to burn all of Sovak's spells, so plans on taking no more than a further four (Herfod and three SpiderKillers) whose job it is to secure the ground floor. Troll will tap Sovak on the shoulder if he wants him to fetch the second group.

Let's go!

Lionel casts Endure Elements, then dons his armour. Troll casts See Invisible, then Expeditious Retreat. Arrian casts True Seeing and Magic Vestment on his shield. With the others gathered around him, Troll casts Invisibility Sphere. Sovak Teleports himself and the four into the ground floor of Maishéoll's endotaa.

The group find themselves in a very large room with wavy, folded walls. Light streams through many windows, augmented by light-giving magical globes. There is a substantial spiral staircase in the centre of the space, leading up. The ceiling is domed, supported by a number of irregular, viney columns stretching up from the floor. Beyond and to the right of the staircase is a set of double doors, the only visible exit. A middle-aged elf moves around the edges of the room, polishing silverware housed in intricate cabinets and extinguishing the magical lights. Two elves are visible outside two of the windows, their garb and demeaour suggesting that they are guards.

Troll indicates to Sovak to take two trips, then to Feren and/or Lionel to knock out the servant. The others will wait by the stairs.

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