In the morning, all arise.
"What's up?" asks Igor. He squints his eyes and looks around. "Something is strange."
"I see what you mean," says Kress, nodding. "Sort of like what you see on a hot day with waves of heat rising up from the ground. But, it's not hot."
Tebryn stares at the atmosphere and nods. "I think something is affecting the ... magic ... here." He sits back, peaking his fingers, and ponders.
"I don't see anything," says Yol, "but I do feel 'tingly'."
Veracity peers at her. "Sexual feelings, bubbling to the surface, at last, eh, Yol? How's it feel? Who do you fancy, anyway?" She looks pointedly at Tebryn.
Yol scowls at her. "It is nothing of the sort."
"Well, I'm not interested in Yol 'that way'," says Igor. "I'm holding out for you or Brianna." He looks expectantly at those two, but they completely ignore his comment.
Tebryn snickers at this little exchange. He nods slowly. "Wait here," he says, as he gets up and leaves the basement. Several minutes later, he returns.
"I read up on Toril before we came here," says Tebryn, seating himself. "On this plane, there's something called the 'Weave' which channels all magic. Outside, I cast detect magic, and it looks like there is some sort of 'Weave Disruption' affecting the whole cavern - or as much as I could see, when the clouds temporarily cleared."
"What's it mean?" asks Veracity. "Our magic won't work?"
"There's good news and there's bad news," says Tebryn. "It depends on what you want to do. If you want to use Necromantic spells - except for those that use Positive energy - or death spells or evil spells, you'll find that your spells are all empowered. Sister, we should probably choose our spells with that in mind! On the other hand, if you want to cast spells which use Positive energy - including any Healing spells - you'll find it difficult, unless you understand how magic really works. How's your Spellcraft?" he asks Yol and Brianna.
"No problem," says Yol.
"Umm," says Brianna, looking glum. "Spells have always come 'naturally' for me. I've never 'studied' magic at all."
"You mean, our cleric might actually be our best healer, now?" asks Igor. "That's certainly unexpected! Who'd have thought it: the cleric being the party healer?"
Tebryn snickers. "Well, we'll get by, I expect. But that's not all: we can expect undead to be bolstered, too. But, Yol's efforts to affect them will also be bolstered, so it's probably a wash. In any case, other kinds of spells are unaffected."
"Evil spells have more ooomph, eh? I can work with that!" Veracity grins and takes out her spellbook.
"Right," agrees Tebryn. He and Yol also go off to study their spell books.
When they are done, Veracity casts a veil spell, disguising the party as refugee drow. Each person appears to have the same sex as they do normally, but is of the drow race, dressed in weathered clothing. Brianna appears to be an exceptionally comely female drow. Yol appears to be a pubescent teenaged drow with acne. She scowls, but says nothing.
The party sneaks out and approaches the former inn that they'd spied the previous day. The intact door is closed.
Hazen is spooked. "I want to search this door for traps, he comments." He does so, but finds nothing. "Well, that's my job. Somebody else can open it!" He steps back.
"Why not just knock?" wonders Igor. He steps up and does just that. There is no answer.
"Well, lets go in!" says Kress, who walks up and pushes the door open. Igor then pokes his head through the door.
Tebryn is bemused. "What is this? We have a 'door searcher', a 'door knocker', a 'door opener', and a 'door enterer'?" He chuckles.
When Igor looks around, he sees a fairly large room, with stairs to the left going up. To his right, a male drow stands, holding a hand crossbow, inches from Igor's head. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" he asks him, in Drow.
Igor, not understanding that language, replies in Common. "Hello! Who are you?"
The drow stares at him, and repeats his question, in Common. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
Veracity, hearing this exchange, sticks her head through the door as well. She stares at the drow male, who is thin but very muscular. He wears elven chain, bears a short sword at his side, and has scars on the left side of his face. She also notes that he displays the holy symbol of Vhaeraun, god of male drow, thieves, and trickery. She fingers her own holy symbol before addressing the male, in Drow. "What's up?"
The male repeats his question, and Veracity answers. "I am Veracity. My party and I seek refuge."
The male frowns. "There is no room here. Begone!"
Veracity pulls Igor out of the door with her and hustles him back to the group standing in the street. "There's a male drow there who won't talk to us. He seems scared, or something."
"Who needs to talk?" says Igor. "Let's fight!" Kress nods and fingers his axe. Veracity glares at them and shakes her head. "No! We didn't come here to fight with the survivors. He's scared. Leave him alone!"
Brianna smiles. "Let me talk to him!" She steps into the doorway, and fearlessly ignores the loaded crossbow pointed at her face. She holds up her hands, faces the drow, and speaks. "Sir, we are not dangerous or hostile. We are not from here; we are newly arrived in this city and things are not at all what we expected. What has happened here? We are looking for allies."
The male drow sighs and lowers his weapon. "Come in, quickly," he says. The doughty band of heroes steps into the inn, and the drow closes the door behind them.
Another male drow steps out from around a corner. This one appears to be elderly. The first drow speaks "I am Kâras. That is Chiirikk." He whistles.
Another drow comes slowly and cautiously from around a different corner. He is stylishly dressed in gray and black, wears shadowy studded leather armor, and has short black hair with white roots. He moves gracefully and also carries a hand crossbow in front of him. "Hail," he says. Turning to the first drow, he speaks. "What say you, Kâras?"
"Strangers to Maerimydra," replies Kâras, "They say they are seeking information. They could be helpful."
The heroes look at them in puzzlement. Although Tebryn, Veracity, Yol, and Brianna all speak drow, they can't quite make out what is being said: it appears to be some kind of drowish Thieves' Cant.
Kâras turns to Brianna and says "This is Hamadh." Hamadh looks at Brianna and says, "Explain yourself!"
"We arrived in the city yesterday," explains Brianna. "We snuck our way in to find all this destruction. We're trying to find out what's up. We're not sure what to do because we don't really know what's going on here. We are looking for allies."
Hamadh scoffs. "Why would I want to align myself with you? You are just refugees."
"We are not what we seem," replies Brianna.
"If we are going to work together, we must all come clean," says Hamadh. "Show what you really can do."
Brianna turns to her companions. "He doesn't believe we could be useful to him," she says, in Common.
"It's true," says Veracity, "that we don't look especially impressive, under this veil."
Hamadh and Kâras look at each other in surprise, at the mention of a "veil".
"We can do powerful things," says Igor. He floats up in the air and does a flip.
"Yeah!" agrees Hazen. "Watch!" He disappears, moves to another part of the room, and lowers his invisibility. "See?"
Hamadh nods slowly. "Your tricks are impressive, but I am not comfortable opening my home without knowing to whom I'm opening it."
Veracity looks at Tebryn, quizzically. He nods, and she shrugs. She drops the veil spell, and all seven adventurers appear in their natural forms.
Veracity steps forward, authoritatively, her hand on the hilt of the sword of Kas as all three drow gape at the party in astonishment. They, too, drop their hands to their sword hilts, and gaze at the impressive drow female standing in front of them.
"Satisfied?" asks Veracity, in Drow.
Hamadh nods. His gaze flickers over the rest of the party, taking in the two humans, the duergar, and the tiefling. "Who are your pets?" he asks.
Veracity introduces everybody. "We lead them, of course, but we have found them very useful and reliable."
Hamadh nods. "Slaves certainly have their uses." Brianna's eyebrows flicker, but she smiles and holds her tongue. "Well," continues Hamadh, "You were asking what is going on here?"
Veracity nods. "Yes. You seem to be oppressed. I don't feel good about that!"
"Nor do we," says Hamadh. "It's an interesting situation. Irae T'sarran holds Castle Maerimydra. Kurgoth Hellspawn has sacked the city and holds the castle besieged. Now, if you were to help us, we could help you approach the castle safely. A flying party could pass over the lines undetected, but be careful! There are flying demons."
"Have you heard anything about the Undying Temple?" interjects Yol.
"No," replies Hamadh, "although I have heard that there is some sort of Force in the castle that Irae controls. And one other thing to note is that Irae sometimes sends out sorties to attack the Hellspawn forces, usually composed of undead, created from slain Hellspawn forces."
"What are your own plans for freeing your brethren?" asks Veracity.
"It is our desire to get rid of both Kurgoth and Irae and return our city to its previous power structure. Our primary goal is to find allies and drive the invaders out!" says Hamadh. "Can you help us?"
"Where is Kurgoth's headquarters?" asks Tebryn.
"He's at the coliseum," replies Hamadh. "That oval building you undoubtedly saw when you came in?"
Tebryn nods. "I think we should probably take out Kurgoth, first. Cut off the head, and the body may crumble."
"Hmm," says Hamadh, nodding. "Well, if you succeed in that, I may be able to tell you how to get past many of the Irae's defences, assuming my information is still current!"
"Excellent," says Veracity. "Allies, then?" She holds out her hand.
Hamadh nods and grasps the proffered hand. "Allies."
|Copyright © 2004 by Brianna Sollandry <brianna at hambo dot com>||
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu
R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn.