rpnew wrote:09/23/2005 Questing
- Adriorn, Lorsalian, Azelrus and Bilraex brought some disturbing news
to the residents of Beluir - and all before teatime!
The wind rippled Lorsalian's cloak as he looked at those around him.
Azelrus, the idealistic young cleric of Tymora, fidgeted as she looked around – probably wondering what Lorsalian had gotten her into this time.
Bilraex Silverwolf, a shaman of the icy northern clans, stood alongside a shape that alternated between a smoke-like wisps of ... something ... and a large wolf. He gazed at those around him with a strangely peaceful look on his face.
Areh, a sandy-haired paladin whose shining yet etched armor has been guarded by a nomad's robe the last time Lor had watched him, concealed, was conspicuous in his absence. I'll have to find out, later, what kept him.
Adriorn Darkcloak, a former citizen of a place not unlike the ruins that swirled cold ash in the distance, but now a ranger of beneath the forest, returned Lorsalian's nod, smiled, and motioned for the half-elf to move to the center of the circle.
“Thank you all for coming on such a vague notice,” Lorsalian began
“Well, you know me, I'm a fool for such things,” Azelrus smirked.
“I know they have them in Waterdeep,” Lorsalian began, feeling foolishly like a performer at a fair. It's the only way to warm up to this subject, though. “Fools screaming at the sky, who think it is about to fall on them?” He turned to face the shaman. “Any of those up north, Bilraex?”
“Just those that wander from the south,” was his reply, to the amusement of the rangers. Azelrus seemed less than delighted. “No need to be so cruel.”
“Well, he IS a barbarian,” chuckled Adriorn.
Lorsalian threw a semi-dark look at Adriorn. I'm trying to bring these people together, and he says something like that! But he continued, “Seems every generation can't seem to bear the thought that there will be something after. Armageddon is always just around the corner with these people'”
Turning to the northest to face, and then motion to the ruins, he frowned. “They were almost right.”
“It was merely averted,” the cleric nodded.
“The destruction of Bloodstone. The Raids on Ard'nir, Neverwinter. Zhentil Keep. Even Waterdeep, All the work of one being,” Lor paused for a moment before saying the name. “Auzorm'Tvorl.” With effort, the ranger avoided once again rubbing the scar on his left arm.
Azelrus looked puzzled as she pondered on something. “Is that the one they call 'The Vile One?'”
“That was him, yes. That, the Vile One, the Enemy. Whatever his name, it is now dead.”
“Or so you think,” Bilraex again entered the conversation, “the host may be dead, but mortals can not destroy such an evil soul, it will manifest itself again one day.”
This must have been what my own teachers must have thought of me. So wise, yet seemingly knowing so little.
“It is dead,” Lorsalian repeated emphatically. He wasn't sure how he knew it, however. He didn't remember much if anything from the time he fell until being revived in a room above Jenna's weyhouse. Truth to tell, he didn't often to remember. But something elusive in his memory confirmed it.
“So what was he...some super powerful pit fiend? Or perhaps even a balor?” Azelrus asked curiously.
“or the life essence of the evil dead,” Adriorn added.
“Demons are but pawns to the vile one,” the shaman replied. Lorsalian resisted rolling his eyes and pressing the point that Bilraex spoke of it as if it still existed. Nothing to be gained by arguing with him.
Lorsalian idly rubbed his left arm above the elbow. “More, Azelrus. It was like unto a god. An immortal. Seven people gave their lives to destroy him.' He shivered.
Azelrus nodded at the ranger. “I know one of them, but he won't tell me everything.” I've never mentioned my own role. I wonder who she is talking about.
“So,” Adriorn spoke up brightly, “did you bring us here to sadden us?”
“I came here to discuss the weaknesses of that campaign, as I told you before,” he responded.
The wolf sniffed the air, searching for a scent
“Information,” Lor sighed, “No-one had enough. Every adventurer did as they pleased, and only by long meetings, appeals to Deneir, and consultations with other beings did we finally learn enough. And the number of attacks at those meetings. The attacks on the sage. This was our weakness.'
The wolf at Bilraex's side sniffed his hand, hoping for attention; He quieted it with a loving pet atop the head between the ears.
“Information and organization,” added Adriorn, receiving a nod from Lorsalian.
Lorsalian looked at both Bilraex and Azelrus in turn. “Would you want to EVER see the mountains of the spine covered in ash, Bilraex? Waterdeep nothing but a muddy stain, Azelrus?”
Azelrus merely blinked, unbelieving, but Bilraex replied “I wouldnt mind seeing Waterdeep as a muddy stain, but nay I would not want the spine to be defiled,”
“I didn't weep overly at Bloodstone at first, Bilraex. But I came to know a few who did.”
Adriorn said, “Not everyone inside was evil, that's our problem.”
“And not just him,” Lor added smiling, pointing his thumb back at the other ranger.
Lorsalian held his fingers apart slightly. "We were this close to it. We can't afford to get this close again. We all have our specialties.”
To each in turn, Lorsalian revealed what he had learned of the talents of his companions, and then shared his own story.
Adriorn winked, Azelrus looked around furtively, while Bilraex merely stood, listening.
Lorsalian shrugged, “What I, well, Adriorn and I,” he smiled at Adriorn, who nodded in return, “propose, is this.'
“We join forces. We can watch for any signs of this happening. Any stirring of old (or new) evil. We decide what to do, and we move in and nip it before it troubles anyone.” The ranger grinned fiercely, then spread his arms. “What do you say?” he concluded, shrugging.
“Information and organization,” Adriorn reiterated.
Bilraex spoke thoughtfully. “It would be in the best intrest of the realms. Long have I sat in my cave deep in the mountains waiting for my ancestors to talk to me, not long ago they finally did and instructed me to head here. This meeting is a sign. You have the aid of me and my guide” he declared proudly.
Lorsalian raised his eyebrow, then shrugged. “Perhaps.”
Adriorn nudged him, “It is Lors,” then nodded acceptingly to Bilraex.
Lorsalian turned to the acolyte of Tymora. “I've already involved you in far more than you might have imagined, Azelrus,” he chuckled, “Up for more?”
“I suppose it would be best to get a handle on the chaos while we can,” she replied, nodding. Lorsalian smiled.
Adriorn added “I know other groups, like those who Harp, are also willing to help; but, again ... information should be our priority, along with its secrecy.”
Lorsalian grinned happily, retrieved a velvet-padded bag from his luggage, and returned to the center of the circle.
“Please don't see this as a bribe or a reward, but I would like to present you with a few items I've found that I think might suit you as an apology for the vague messages and how I've watched you for awhile now.”
From the bag, he produced a number of sculptured ivory figurines – scrimshaw, they called it among sailors and the northern tribes – and a jeweled bracelet.
A wolf figurine to Bilraex, a frog to Adriorn, a panther kept to himself, and the bracelet was a gift to Azelrus. One figurine remained in the bag.
'One has to admire the scrimshaw,' Adriorn said cryptically with a smile and a wink.
“The quality is outstanding,” was Bilraex's comment as he examined the tiny looks like the work of the artisans of Ten Towns'
“It is, Bilraex. Bryn. I immediately thought of your guide,” Lorsalian responded, looking then at the spirit. “Which I would pet if I were certain he trusted me. Perhaps in time I can earn it.”
“He will not harm those who do not harm me.”
“A most excellent decoration,” was Azelrus's only comment.
“Let me start cooking for now, I'm sure they are hungry from travelling lors,” Adriorn broke the ice, taking a couple of rabbits from his pack and preparing them with disturbing efficiency. “Rabbit is one of my specialities,” he shrugged by way of explanation.
As the rabbits roasted over a fire, conversation fell to implementation. How would we find others, who were they, and such; but the importance of secrecy most of all. To fill the time in between topics, the group shared stories, news, and a bit of music from Lorsalian's flute.
“Before one could see the illuminated city from here at this time...now only the stars shine,” Adriorn noted as the sky began to darken.
Some time after the meal – Lor was still unsure if the spirit needed to eat, but it seemed to enjoy its share nonetheless – Adriorn motioned them all to silence, and whispered “Did you hear that?” prompting the other ranger to stand up and peer around.
“A bit paranoid are we?” Bilraex observed. Lorsalian merely nodded, while Adriorn whispered “Not enough.”
The spirit tiger turned to face the direction of the earlier sound, and Adriorn looked at Lorsalian meaningfully, then nodded to the fire and a nearby cave. After kicking out the fire as quickly as possible without the hiss of dousing it with an enchantment, Lorsalian herded the other two into the cave.
“What is it you fear?” Bilraex complained calmly, “you act like these cave dwellers, scared of your own shadow.”
“An ambush,” was Adriorn's reply when he returned, “stay attentive and we shall see if anything passes us by.”
“Bah, bring the fight to them, waiting in shadows is for cowards.”
“I don't know,” Lorsalian shrugged, “but if nothing else, a cave is more defensible than an open ledge. Even if it is a trap in disguise,” he added.
The ring of steel carried from outside. “Prepare to fight, now,” Adriorn commanded. He bowed his head slightly, and intoned, “Protect us, as you have always M'Lady,” before shrugging off his bow and adjusting his quiver to a more comfortable position, as the others made similar quick preparations.
I suppose this will teach me to value comfort over preparedness, Lorsalian chided himself. His more serviceable harness was stored in a safe place back to the west. Thankfully his comfortable panther-skin armor was not exactly useless, and his scabbards were far from empty.
They charged out of the cave into a heated battle where rabbits had sizzled mere hours earlier. Two warriors dressed in steel and skins circled a single man. When the two caught sight of the gathering, one rushed to attack while the other kept their quarry pinned against the sheer drop.
The outcome was fairly predictable. As Bilraex's companion and Lorsalian shouldered into any of the barbarian's attempts to break past them, Adriorn sent carefully-aimed ebon shafts into the fray. Azelrus sought to keep the fatigue of battle as an ally by fortifying her companions, as did Bilraex (interspersed with more bellicose enchantments), though he would later reflect on his initial urge to aid the clansmen.
Both attackers were on the ground. The first either dead, or an amazing actor; and the second – the one who had had the man pinned against the cliff previously – on the wincing as he gasped for breath.
“Why were you following us?” Adriorn demanded of second warrior – at least, Lorsalian assumed he was talking to the second warrior. His only answer was something between a cough and a spitting noise before the eyes of the second warrior went unfocused.
The man, a look of sheer panic on his face, took one look at the now three armored beings before him – Adriorn had run to the east to make sure they would not be interrupted – chanted a few words, and disappeared.
Lorsalian muttered a single phrase under his breath, and the indistinct form of the traveller wisped into his view – detecting a hidden form is easier than hiding it, after all, Lorsalian thought, momentarily recalling his master's admonition.
Slender of form and wearing little armor and holding only a branch which looked to have served more as shield than weapon, the traveller's eyes darted around his surroundings, looking for an escape route.
“All clear,” came Adriorn's voice as he returned.
“We mean you no harm, and it is rude to make us use our own magic to see you, traveller,” Lorsalian called out, meeting his eyes.
'My thanks, adventurers,' said the traveller as he snapped back into mundane visibility.