Edvard eyes the sorcerer of strings with wary trepidation... he was fully aware of the dangers posed by the phylactery, but was unwilling to cede it to any other. He watched, and waited to ken the intent of the choral conjurer of the composite chordophone.
"Well, my friend, First, I want to ascertain that this is indeed the Phylactery of a Lich. If this item really is what you claim in to be, it will radiate a terrible evil and could cause great trouble to those in its presence. Furthermore, my hope is that it could give us insight into the Ghostlord himself. If there was a way to look into its soul we may be able to discover the fallen druid's intention."
Affixing the wizard of harp with a steady and almost threatening stare Edvard intones "I am not your friend... and I do not seek to be. While you are sitting here playing at your music and drinking tea we are risking death to protect this vale - your own master would have sooner pissed on me than let me enter. And yet now when something of power is brought forth, it becomes what we and us might learn... forgive me if I find your manner condescending."
The harpwizard listens to Edvard and his threatening intonation with patience and a hint of sadness.
"Edvard, I am sorry to offend you. My music is my magic and I must practice my art as much as I can. I only offer you my Elma Chai out of the goodness of my heart and because it is a good thing to share. I certainly do not wish to offend you with this behavior. I understand the threats of the Red Hand and the implications of the events unfolding. However, this is not a time to let angry words be spoken. I confess, you have surprised me with this news of the Ghostlord and his phylactery, but now we should now be working together and not in conflict."
Attempting to keep the witch from biting the had that feeds so to speak, Tirion speaks up again.
Trust me good Harpwizard, this is evil, it radiates evil to its core.
Tirion turns to Bofus: I suppose we should take it out and show him.
Turning back to the Harpwizard: It is the type of object that should be destroyed, the problem is that destroying the phylactery will not kill the lich as you know. It will likely just anger him. And from what you have told us, he has peacefully left the Vale alone for many years. It is my hope that a deal can be struck in which he takes his undead minions back with him back to his crypt and leaves the horde to self destruct.
"It is the type of object that should be destroyed, the problem is that destroying the phylactery will not kill the lich as you know. It will likely just anger him."
"That is the difficulty of the choice before you, my friends. If you destroy it, you will have the Lich's eternal enmity. If you return it to the Ghostlord, you may be able to undo the alliance threatening the Elsir Vale, but it will become nearly impossible to destroy the lich later. I certainly do not envy you your decision. But first, allow me to inspect it to ascertain that it truly is the phylactery of the lich."
I'm proceeding as if the Sense MOtive didn't detect any untoward intentions--please let me konw if that's NOT the case and I'll retcon this activity!!
Edvard, calm yourself. We all do what we can in the best way we can. Would you begrude me hiding from a fight, looking for a place to strike in secret, while Mantooth stood to smite a foe? The Harpwizard has earned my trust with previous actions; and he is trying to help us in HIS way. Just becuase his way is not YOUR way, you should not be so, well, so dang rude, savvy?
Professor, like I said, you've earned my trust. I'm willing ot let you examine the fill-act-airy.
unless someone stops him . . . Bofus reaches into his pack, pulls out the Folding Boat, and commands the small boat to appear. On the deck is the box. Bofus picks up the box and hands it to the Harpwizard wordlessly.
Edvard takes a step back and does not respond to Bofus' words... though the air surrounding the witch of the witchwood seems to grow turgid and begin to shimmer slightly... as it does when he is preparing to release fire and lightning. But no eruptations present themselves... yet...
Once the phylactery is brought out of the boat, the Harpwizard eyes it intensely. Pulling on a pair of leather gloves, the professor then picks up the phylactery and places it upon his work table. Picking up a magnifying glass, he then inspects it closely. After several moments, he speaks to all of you.
"Yes, this is definitely the Phylactery of Urikel Zarl. You can see the lion claws and the lion teeth along the band. The aura emanating from this is overwhelmingly evil. You would all do well to share the burden of carrying this and not allow one person to possess it for too long a period of time. You were wise to share this with me, but now that you know what this is, I urge you to keep it secret and guard it safely. If this was to fall in the wrong hands, this could prove fatal for the entire vale."
Tirion looks at the Dwarf: Until we have the power to defeat the lich, we do not even consider how to destroy it.
Turning back to the Harpwizard: I hate doing this, but I view this not as a trading device, but more as a bargaining tool. We have his soul, he either withdraws his support and troops, which I would bet he did not give voluntarily, or the phylactery is destroyed. I am betting that if he has lain peacefully for all these years, it was some thief of the Wyrmlords who stole the necklace in the first place so as to compel his assistance.
"If'n we did want te destroy it, wot would be tha best way? "
"The phylactery contains a very powerful magic and would not be easily destroyed. Like many artifacts, research would need to be performed to determine a way to destroy it. More than likely it would involve an epic quest that involves some information found in the history of the lich who made the phylactery. I think the answer to your question, Thordak, can only be found in the Ghostlord's lair."
"I hate doing this, but I view this not as a trading device, but more as a bargaining tool. We have his soul, he either withdraws his support and troops, which I would bet he did not give voluntarily, or the phylactery is destroyed. I am betting that if he has lain peacefully for all these years, it was some thief of the Wyrmlords who stole the necklace in the first place so as to compel his assistance."
"Trade or bargain. You may call it what you like. The question is what do you wish to do with it? I am not one to judge you in matters such as this, but simply share with you what I know. The Ghostlord has been quiet for many years. So many years that most people consider the legend to be just a scary tale to frighten children. I do know that if his phylactery was stolen, the Ghostlord will not sleep easily and will do whatever he can to get it back! So what deal will you make with this lich, Tirion? Will you just hand if over to him and hope that he goes back to sleep?"
Oi wanna know so when we do hafta destroy it, we know how! Oi like te be prepared fer things like that. Wot if we chop it with a magic weapon or drop it in a volcano or somethin'? There's gotta be a better way te find out than goin' an' askin' tha Ghostlord himself!
Thordak, he didn't say "ask the Ghostlord," he said he thinks "the answer can only be found in the Ghostolord's lair." That whatever method to destory it might only be discovered in his immediate vicinity.
DMHW, in your professional opinion, do you think the Ghostlord would know if his phylactery were in the vicinity? If we were to, just as a f'rinstiance, bring it with us and bluff that we have it hidden, would he necessarily know right off the bat that we were actually carrying it?And if that's the case, are there any magical methods you know of that we might actualy conceal it, even on our person?
Bofus stops for a moment, his eyes widening.
Um . . . I think I have a possible solution!!! Oh, this is just delicious, if we can work it out.
We're going under the assumption that someone stole the lich's soul-hidey-thing to coerce him to join the Red Hand, right? Well, WE'VE now got it, and WE should be able to coerce him to stop, or even fight against them. How do we do this? How can he KNOW that we'll keep our word, without giving him the thing back???
Bofus walks over to Mantooth and slaps him on the (lower) back.
All we have to do is have good Sir Longbrow secure the Church to hold it safe against the Ghostlord's good behavior. We leave it with Mantooth's church; we go to the Ghostlord and tell him what we've done; and Mantooth himself gives his Paladin's Word of Honor--which EVERYONE knows is good unto death!!--that the phylactery will be kept safe and secure if the Ghostlord goes back to sleep, after he strikes at those who he has every reason to hate anyway. But that he'll be hunted and destroyed, along with the phylactery, if he raises his eyebrows funny!
It's a very credible threat, and it's something that has the force of a Paladin's word--unbreakable, essentially, without falling from grace!! AND we've got a trustworthy, powerful group who has both the means and the desire to keep the thing safe and secret!!
OK, who here DOESN'T simply love that idea??? Bofus looks around with a proud smile.
"It is not to be destroyed... it is a tool and will be used as such. It is the lever which will tear the Ghostlord's support away from the Hand. If there is still a will to act against the Ghostlord after the Hand is dispersed... then that is the time to talk of it."
Male Human Paladin 8 (HP:66/95, AC: 28, Touch: 16)
"All we have to do is have good Sir Longbrow secure the Church to hold it safe against the Ghostlord's good behavior. We leave it with Mantooth's church; we go to the Ghostlord and tell him what we've done; and Mantooth himself gives his Paladin's Word of Honor--which EVERYONE knows is good unto death!!--that the phylactery will be kept safe and secure if the Ghostlord goes back to sleep, after he strikes at those who he has every reason to hate anyway. But that he'll be hunted and destroyed, along with the phylactery, if he raises his eyebrows funny!"
Mantooth looks at Bofus questioningly. "The Inheritor certainly does not like working out deals with such evil liches, and to be honest, I am not comfortable with any of this situation. I much prefer a clean fight where I can smite down the creature and know that it will no longer threaten us or anyone else again. Negotiating with this creature sounds ludicrous."
"I fear we are dealing with forces that are far beyond what is within our power to fight and wonder if it is an idle threat to say that he will be hunted and destroyed, especially when we have our hands full dealing with an entire horde! Even if we asked our cleric friend Matthias Teskerwill to come out and fight at our side, I am not sure that we could take down this lich. I am also not convinced that I could coerce him into obeying us. The Red Hand may have that kind of power, but do we? We are only but a few individuals standing against a horde of creatures, we are not the horde itself."
"Another aspect that I wonder about is if the Red Hand knew the secrets of destroying the phylactery and it used that knowledge to coerce the lich. Do you think that just possessing the item will be sufficient to get him to bend to our will?"
OK, let's think this through.
What are our options?
1) we destroy this lich. Um, I'm willing to try it, but I'm not much more hopeful than anyone else. Sure, we've repeatedly defeated foes everyone thought we'd be crazy to face . . . but this is a speical flavor of crazy. I'll follow y'all to the fight, but it's not going to be my first suggestion. Plus, we'd need to destroy the phylactery as well to make the battle actually won.
2) we try to strike some sort of bargain with this lich, to get him out of the war--or even switch sides (which, if we're going to try for a bargain, we might as well go down the tubes!! Go big or go home Grampy Bozak always says . . .). How do we do that? With this bauble as leverage. But how do we leverage it?
If we carry it with us, he'll throw everything he's got at us to get it back in his hands right then and there. Unless we can somehow disguise it so he doesn't recognize we're carrying it, I dont' see that as a viable option. We'd have to put it SOMEwhere. And if you absoultley HAD to leave a lich's phylactery somewhere, with whom would you leave it??? Whom can you trust with that sort of item??
After a pause, Bofus continues.
Well, Mantooth--you've said you don't think we can win this fight, and your'e reluctant to try any kind of deal. What other suggstions do you have?
Male Human Paladin 8 (HP:66/95, AC: 28, Touch: 16)
"Well, Mantooth--you've said you don't think we can win this fight, and your'e reluctant to try any kind of deal. What other suggstions do you have?"
Mantooth ponders for a moment before replying. "Well, it is not that I do not want to destroy this fiend. The great Iomedae fought the Whispering Tyrant when she was a mortal, and I am certain that I could fight the Ghostlord. However, I do not know if I am up to the task of destroying it yet. Furthermore, if we do not kill it, then we have a greater problem on our hand, mainly an angry lich running free across the vale ready to destroy everything in its sight! We are already dealing with Hobgoblins, Giants, Ettins, and Dragons. I just hoped that we could postpone our encounter with the Ghostlord until we have already dealt with the horde and these Wyrmlords."
Mantooth paces for a moment and then continues. "I would be willing to return the phylactery if it would stop the Ghostlord from filling the ranks of the horde with undead. However, the word of Iomedae and my own inner calling tells me that we should not command the Lich and try to coerce the creature into fighting the horde. In terms of diplomacy, I think that we may be able to persuade him to go back to sleep easier than trying to persuade him to fight for us! I mean, we are not evil and I would not try to control a Lich in any way. Does this make any sense to you, Bofus?"
"I follow the laws and guidelines of my faith, but I also know that I am only mortal and we are dealing with an undead being that has basically achieved immortality!"
I understand where you're coming from. Let me present this scenario, though: we've got a powerful being who was (to the best of our knowledge) essentially controlled by a Universal Bad Guy. What kind of incentive do you really think it would take for the Ghostlord to *want* to extract revenge for that insult? Instead of thinking we're going to control this lich--which is highly unlikely anyway, by my way of thinking--think of it as presenting him with the opportunity to strike at his own hated foe. It just so happens that, conveninently, this is also OUR hated foe.
If we try to demand he "go to sleep" when quite possibly all he wants to do is drink the Red Hand's blood, haven't we simply lost a HUGE thorn in the Red Hand's side??
Male Human Paladin 8 (HP:66/95, AC: 28, Touch: 16)
"Instead of thinking we're going to control this lich--which is highly unlikely anyway, by my way of thinking--think of it as presenting him with the opportunity to strike at his own hated foe. It just so happens that, conveninently, this is also OUR hated foe."
"You play an interesting game, Bofus. I admit, you have managed to pull off a great many things that I never thought possible, so I will support you in whatever way I can. So what do you suggest we do with the phylactery when we go to have that conversation?"
"DMHW, in your professional opinion, do you think the Ghostlord would know if his phylactery were in the vicinity? If we were to, just as a f'rinstiance, bring it with us and bluff that we have it hidden, would he necessarily know right off the bat that we were actually carrying it?And if that's the case, are there any magical methods you know of that we might actualy conceal it, even on our person?
The great wizard sits back and strokes his beard taking an occasional sip of his elma chai as he sits and listens to your discussion. Finally he speaks up.
"If you brought the phylactery into the same room as the Ghostlord, I am certain that he would sense the aura of his own soul. However, I doubt that he would be able to sense the aura through stone walls or through a special lead lined box. In fact, lead lining is a good way to prevent any mage from looking into the magical spectrum and seeing an aura."
Well, I put forth the possibility of leaving the Phylactery here, in the church's safe keeping. Only Mantooth has weighed in on that idea. I for one would like to exhaust that possibility before we leave, as it's pretty important.
"Bofus, we must not let this tool leave our possession. While we carry it we decide it's use... if we relinquish it there is no guarantee it will return... nor that any other would not choose to do something foolish with or against it."
Normally I'd agree with you, Ed. I mean, we've got 8 out of 10 Dragon's Eyes (don't worry, Harp Wiz here is the one who told us about them, he's in the know) that we carry around!! That's really risky, but there's no one else I trust to have them.
But in this case, the thought of having this thingy with us is reeeeeally giving me the willies. If we have it on us when we try to confront the Ghostlord, and he figures out we do, he's going to smush us to paste and take it back, end of story thanks for playing. If we're to use it for leverage, it needs to be where he can't get his mitts on it.
There are reasons i suggested the Church.
First, they've got divine magic as a tool, for hiding, and for protecting.
Second, they're goodly and can probably be trusted to keep their word.
Third, Mantooth is a man of some repute 'round these parts, and his words *will* hold sway--particularly with the purdy sword he's carrying!! if he speaks to the Church heads and demands, in no uncertain terms, what he expects, I'll wager gold pieces to goldfish they'll heed Sir Longbrow *to the letter*!
Finally, the only ones who need know about this are in this room, plus a single Church official. In fact, Mantooth could bring a locked lead box to the Church--what was the name of the gent who did the ceremony on your swrod? He'd be the perfect candidate!--and lean on his paladin vows that he cannot disclose what's in the box, but that he must keep it secret and safe against our return.
But I can't stress it enough . . . if we are carrying this when we talk to the Ghostlord, we're done. It may sound silly, but for this one, you should really trust a thief!! Bofus gives Edvard a wink and a cherubic smile at this last comment.
Male Human Paladin 8 (HP:66/95, AC: 28, Touch: 16)
"Bofus, what about storing it in a lead lined box as the Harpwizard suggested? If the box could prevent the Ghostlord from seeing his own phylactery, then we could negotiate from a position of power. I mean, he wouldn't necessarily know that we had it on ourselves. Then if we do convince the Ghostlord to exchange the phylactery in return for him breaking his alliance with the horde, then we would have the phylactery nearby. To be honest, I doubt the Lich will break his alliance with the Red Hand without that phylactery back in his hands. I'm sorry, Bofus, but I think I agree with Edvard in this matter. This evil lion clawed necklace should stay with us. Although I admit that I am uneasy having this item near, I think it is best to have it in hand where we can make decisions about it, without taking valuable time to retrieve it. Besides, I still retain the hope that we can some day destroy it along with the Ghostlord. If there is a way to destroy it in the tomb, I would be tempted to do so!"
Hidden as it responded to a post that Bofus deleted:
Edvard's hackles raise slightly "So your advice is to shut up and just let you handle everything? My opinion is of no worth because I do not grovel and fawn before all that I meet? Votre ego l'emporte sur votre tout-petit corps." slipping into Elvish at the end of his words.
Elvish - "Your ego outweighs your body little one"
Heh!! too bad we didn't get to contindue down that road, might have been fun!!
MY ego?!? *My* ego, Mister "do it my way or I'm taking my ball and going home?!?!" Wisdom is the ability to consider that you may be wrong. You, sir, are being foolish. My ego notwithstanding, you cannot deny that I'm more experienced in dealing with people, particularly in situations like this, than you are. I would defer to you on how to blast the crap out of something, and I would not suggest your ego was a problem if you claimed more experience in that arena--because it's true!!
but I didn't really say that, so it's all good. :-)
"Three lead lined boxes? Why would you need three? Tell me, what box did you find it in. Did the Red Hand use a similar box to store it for themselves?"
Why would I need three?!?! You're obviously not a thief. Trust me, we need *at least* three. In fact, I'd take as many as I could get!! The box we found it in is this one right here.
Bofus thinks for a moment, then breaks into a grin. In fact, what we *really* need are a few reasonably good duplicates of the phylactery!! I'm sure we can find a local jewler who might be able to fabricate one or two, right?
And speaking of jewels, DMHW, remember those Eyes of the Dragon? Well, we've found more. We're only a few short of the complete set of ten. Can you remind me--and give an idea to those who don't know yet--what they're for and how they might work?
"Fine. I'm going to go on record as saying that I think this is A Bad Idea, but if that's the way you all want to play it, I'll give it my all."
"I find it diffult to listen to you argue. The task before you is not easy as it is, and you will need to work together if you are to succeed in your work. I certainly do not envy you for having to make such a decision about this phylactery, but it is important that you consider all of your options and reach agreement with yourselves. Naturally I will support you in whatever you decide."
"In fact, what we *really* need are a few reasonably good duplicates of the phylactery!! I'm sure we can find a local jewler who might be able to fabricate one or two, right?"
"There are many fine jewlers who may be able to fabricate the phylactery. In fact I'm sure the jewlers would be happy to assist you with the task. However, they certainly will not be able to duplicate the evil aura that emenates from the device."
"And speaking of jewels, DMHW, remember those Eyes of the Dragon? Well, we've found more. We're only a few short of the complete set of ten. Can you remind me--and give an idea to those who don't know yet--what they're for and how they might work?"
"Yes, Bofus, those eyes of the dragon are very interesting items. There appears to be a pair of each in the chromatic colors which unifies them in some way. The pairs clearly represent each of the evil dragons, red, black, blue, white, and green. I should really spend more time researching them. They are rather unique and as you are already aware, they give the possessor great perception and energy resistance, but I cannot help but think that there is much more to them than meets the eye." The harpwizard smiles to himself at that line. "I cannot say for certain, but I wonder if they are to be used to open or close a magical gate. I also wonder if there is some power within them that may be able to control the specified dragons to some degree. I find it curious that there are five pairs, just like the five heads of the queen of dragons, Tiamat. I am curious what would happen when all of them are united. Without knowing more about them, I would certainly urge you to use caution in using them and above all keep them safe and hidden from members of the Red Hand. I suspect they are highly sought by the priests of Tiamat. So, my friends, which of these 'eyes' do you now possess?"
"And if the eyes are sought so desperately by Tiamat's devout faithful... should they not be destroyed? While the power they grant is useful, it is nothing that one cannot accomplish through arcane skill."
"Well, Edvard, I suppose that is an option that you have. Although I do not like the idea of destroying something with such powerful arcane magic within it, I suppose that is better than allowing the Red Hand to get their hands on them. I just wish I knew more of the magic behind these gems. I should not like to destroy something that could aid us in this war with the Red Hand."
I find it diffult to listen to you argue. The task before you is not easy as it is, and you will need to work together if you are to succeed in your work. I certainly do not envy you for having to make such a decision about this phylactery, but it is important that you consider all of your options and reach agreement with yourselves. Naturally I will support you in whatever you decide
Worry not, sir. Our argument is over. I've put forth my best case, and have been outvoted. But trust that when we act, we will act as one, each of us doing our utmost to win!!
There are many fine jewlers who may be able to fabricate the phylactery. In fact I'm sure the jewlers would be happy to assist you with the task. However, they certainly will not be able to duplicate the evil aura that emenates from the device
Oh, that's fine. I'm sure they'd still be helpful! I'll be looking them up as soon as we're done here.
So, my friends, which of these 'eyes' do you now possess?
We have all but one red, and one blue, gem. We've dispersed them throughout the group so no one person has more than 2. Professer Harpwizard, may I take my fiends for a sidebar?
I take the group aside--unless the HW goes off for a bit to play or something--and whisper.
What do you boys think of leaving a pair of gems with the Wizard here? He might be able to learn more about their power and function, AND it keeps the set separate until we're ready to get them all together.
"Pleaes, be my guest. Take all the time that you need. I understand that you have big decisions to make." the Harpwizard replies. He then walks across the room and pulls forth a cookie from a large clay pot. He then sits back down and takes another sip of his Elma Chai. As he patiently waits, he takes another bite of his cookie and as it crumbles, small crumbs spill over his star covered blue cloak.
Male Human Paladin 8 (HP:66/95, AC: 28, Touch: 16)
"What do you boys think of leaving a pair of gems with the Wizard here? He might be able to learn more about their power and function, AND it keeps the set separate until we're ready to get them all together."
"I would accept such a proposal." Mantooth replies. "I certainly trust the good harpwizard and if he can determine more about these gems, I think it will only be to our benefit."
Male Human Paladin 8 (HP:66/95, AC: 28, Touch: 16)
"Tirion, do you really think it is wise to leave the phylactery here when we advance upon the ghostlord's own tomb? Naturally, I have a great deal of respect for you, but I wonder how the lich will respond when we tell him that his phylactery is back in Brindol. Will he not declare war upon this city and send his army of undead to take back what is his?"
"Again no, as soon as the phylactery is given to another we lose control over it's destiny. It stays with us. I doubt we can discern the means of it's destruction, but an attempt can be made... with perhaps weeks of research and consultation with learned minds? - we lack time."
Mantooth, you're thinking like a paladin again! We aren't going to tell him where it is, just that we have it under our control. But Tirion, since Edvard is going to take his ball and go home unless we do it HIS way, that's what it sounds like we're going to work with. Which is why I want a bunch of lead boxes and some decoy phylacteries. At least we'll know who to blame if things go badly, won't we Ed?? Bofus ignores Ed's glare and elbows him with a wink.
But I'm going to strongly suggest that we leave at least one gem-and I'm thinking a matched pair will be better--with our Harpwizard friend. Ed, Thordak, you have an opinion on that matter? Tirion and Mantooth agree . . .
Edvard glares at Bofus, but does not dispute his words.
At the confirmation of intent to leave eyes with Deitrovica, Edvard turns to the soft looking and peaceable wizard "Can I trust that you have more than pretty music and sweet tea to protect them should agents of the Hand seek to wrest them from you?"