An epic search for the Amethyst heptagon leads a party of fresh graduates through the northern reaches of Ustalav. Based in Karcau, the party visits places like the dark Castle Jarovich or the dangerous alleys of Carrion Hill.
Gripping Flofer's arm with a gnarled hand,Harl jerks the boy toward the kitchen,"Let's get you outta here 'fore you get Solaric all in a twist, boy. Yer lucky he didn't give an in depth lesson in "etiquette" right there an' then." he finishes casting Solaric a wink over his shoulder as he drags the youth away from the Countess.
"Very well, Kirk! Thanks again for all of your help today. I appreciate your efforts to unlock that gate. Perhaps someday we will find ourselves on the inside of those ruins. Fare well, my friend. I will see you tonight."
Also addressing Victoria before they depart, Solaric walks up and says to her, "Well, your Grace, we have made it back to Karcau safe and sound. We have delivered the letter and we have set up dinner with the Countess Livgrace for tonight! I think we have had a good day so far! I will take Flofer with me tonight and see if they can put him up at the temple until we can find a more permanent residence. My only concern is Aramis. If I let him, he would make me so angry. However, I will not be baited with his uncivilized method of antagonizing others. Well, let us depart and go prepare ourselves for this evening. Shall we meet in Academy Square an hour and a half before midnight? That should give us plenty of time to meet and discuss any develpments, and still join the Countess in time for dinner. Fare well, your Grace. I will see you tonight! Now where did that little rascal escape to?"
Perception 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
"Not so fast, Flofer! Why are you racing off as if you were under the effects of a haste spell, and where are you going? I know you are hungry, but can't you let your manners take some priority over your stomach? Harl, you're encouraging him too much. Ok, ok, we will get you some food, but I want to get back to the House of the Vigilant Flame soon and find a place for you to stay this evening. Besides, I would like to introduce your the Tanor Veredan, a great Sword Knight, and the commander of my circle!"
Solaric follows Harl and Flofer down to the kitchens and helps them find something to eat.
"Don't worry pointy ears, I'll be getting the boy back to ya in one piece. But you are known as well as if ya don't feed the wolves they find a meal on 'eir own. Hold up for a minute an' we'll go back tagether."
Again you move through the crowded streets and as you look up to the sky you wonder anew how the birds know that something is in disorder. More large flock of various kinds of avians travel south across the lake to happier shores.
As you reach old Hassard's shop you are a bit surprised to see that a lot of people are standing in queue waiting to enter it.
"But you are known as well as if ya don't feed the wolves they find a meal on 'eir own. Hold up for a minute an' we'll go back tagether."
"I know your right, Harl, I just wish he didn't have to start looking for his meal right there in front of the Coutness! I think I should pick up some extra snacks to keep handy for the road. Not for me, mind you, but to feed the lanky wolf with the hollow legs!"
Solaric waits for Harl and Flofer and when everyone is ready, he leaves with them to retrieve their horses. They mount up and rides across town back to the Temple.
"Now Flofer, there are a number of things that I still have to teach you, but one of them is involves a reverence and respect for the Faiths of Purity. The House of the Vigilant Flame is a temple dedicated to Sarenrae and Iomedae, and naturally all of their followers have a mutual respect for Harl's deity, Torag. The last thing that you want to do is offend the other clerics and paladins. They are a devout and honorable group, and they naturally take their faith very seriously. Now, you must be quiet when we enter the sanctuary. There may be others at prayer and meditation. Please be sure to give them their space, and if you are invited to pray and meditate with them, you will need to sit quietly and pray. That means no talking or disturbing others. Do you think we could do that?"
Solaric looks to Harl for reassurance that bringing Flofer to the temple was a good idea.
Male Human Hellknight 4 Bard 3 HP:71/71; AC:32/27/12
Flofer gnaws on his bread happily as they walk, simpy absorbing the sights and sounds around him. When they enter the temple, it is clear he is interested, but not so much in silent prayer.
Um...Solaric? Is there a place for um...musical prayer? he asks through a mouthful of bread.
If there's a backdoor, I'll head for that... otherwise:
Kirk pushes his way to the front of the door.
"'Scuse me, I was here first," is all he says as he pushes his way through the line, hoping people either get out of his way because of his intimidating nature or recognize him as one of Karcau's Chosen.
"Ahh! The House of the Vigilant Flame. This place is truly another home to me!"
Solaric smiles as he greets the Temple Guards to enter in.
"Um...Solaric? Is there a place for um...musical prayer? "
"Flofer, that's a great idea! I'm we sure could find a place for you to play. Perhaps during the musical anthem during morning worship. Hmm? We'll have to talk to Knight Commander Veredan about that. Come with me, my friends, let's see if we can find him now."
Solaric moves through the temple filled with joy, greeting people as he walks, glad to be with his people! If Tanor Veredan is available, Solaric will bring the others in to introduce them to the Swordknight.
"Well met, Master Veredan. I Solaric Zekkaran have returned home, delighted to announce victory in Carrion Hill." The dark elf greets his friend with a brotherly embrace. "I believe you have met, my good friend, Harl Marhammer. Well, I would also like to introduce you to Flofer Nighthawk. This young man has accompanied me from Carrion Hill and is a fine musician. In fact he is the finest lute player I have ever heard. Do you think we could make room for the young lad to stay for a few days? I'm sure he would be delighted to help out with some chores around the temple. He has really been no bother at all thus far."
"Hey there, Songbird, if the elf canna get ya place ta be singin' yer songs, we'll head over the forge. I'll teach some proper dwarven work songs an'the hammerin' should save the frailer folks from yer....er, thoughts." the dwarf says hoping to save Solaric any more embarressment from the boys actions.
There is a backdoor, but you know Hassard always keeps it locked shut.
The people make way for you as you approach and no one hinders you as you queue-jump ahead.
Hassard looks up as you reach his desk and grins
Fear is the best thing for a business as mine. Good to see you Kirk. Heard you were in Carrion Hill?
It's a warm welcome in the temple and Solaric greets at least half a dozen priests before he reaches Veredan. The tall and regal figure embraces the half-drow and the dwarf with great friendship and then looks at young Flofer a bit curiously
Welcome to the House of the Vigilant Flame, young man. It'S a great honour to be one of Karcau's Chosen and I can assure you, we always have a bed for such a gifted person.
"I knew we would be able to accommodate the young man. He is also looking for an opportunity to play his lute. I was thinking that during the early morning worship he may be able to contribute a musical selection to the service."
"Commander, I was wondering if you could tell us how the order is responding to the rise in evil that is growing from the north. Have we sent any of our knights or priests to the front? I hear the number of attacks are growing steadily and the knights across the land are mobilizing for a large battle."
"Yeah, for a little bit, I was. They had a problem that needed fixing, and the Countess asked us to look into it." Changing the subject, he says "What's with all the business, eh? People stockpiling for the war, or what?"
A shadow flashes over Veredan's face and his voice is bitter as he explains
A group of our brothers was sent northwards to help the totally unprepared militias of the region, but our men were ambushed by a large group of ogres who were retreating from the Ridge in fear of something ultimately evil. Of twnty priests and man at arms only two returned...
Turning to Flofer he says
It will surely be a pleasure if you would play your music during the early morning services.
Hassard grins and shrugs
War times are the best times. People buy all kind of healing salves and potions. But hey, Kirk, I won't be staying much longer in this forsaken city. Once I'm gone you can use the laboratory whenever you want. You may also use the supplies that are left then.
"Of twenty priests and men at arms only two returned..."
"Dear Iomedae! The poor souls and the sacrifice they have made! I did not realize how dire the situation was! Perhaps once the tournament is finished, Karcau's Chosen can venture forth and find the source of the evil that has caused this disruption in the land! Commander, could you kindly tell me who the two were who returned? I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy and share a few words with them. These are certainly times that test our faith and demand our courage, bravery, and a strong resolve."
"There wounds have been healed, but they still need rest. Please, make sure that you don't question them too long."
"I would certainly appreciate that opportunity. I promise not to talk too much. I just hope that it will prove insightful in regards to what we can expect to come. I would also be honored to offer my services as a healer if that can be useful."
Turning to Flofer Nighthawk, Solaric says, "Come along, boy. Here is your chance to meet some people who have made tremendous sacrifices and have dedicated their entire lives to goodness. These priests are an inspiration to all who know them."
"You're leaving? What for, where are you going? Has the pending war got you worried? Haha," Kirk laughs, as if the thought of war was never a concerning one. "I'll keep your lab safe while you're gone, you can count on me for that."
"Solaric, you won't know me, I'm temple guard Gardon, let me tell you that your accolade-ceremony was a moment of greatest joy for me."
Solaric walks over to the temple guard and listens to him speak. Thinking back fondly over his own Rite of The Lighted Sword, the half drow priest smiles and replies. "Indeed, my brother, it was one of the greatest moments of my own life. I truly felt the presence of the Inheritor and and the elation of being in a shared community of faith. We all make each other strong when we join together in worship as we did. Indeed our fellowship becomes something far greater than ourselves! It is something that will sustain us all when the shadows become dark and the light is dim. I am honored that you were a part of that moment, and I pray that that light will always shine within you."
"I understand that you went to the ridge and faced a great evil! Despite all of the evil that your company faced, our blessed Iomedae has seen to it that you have returned home safely. Bless you both. I Solaric Zekkaran, now call upon the Inheritor to restore your wounds and strengthen your heart that you may know the peace that she would have you know."
Solaric stands between the wounded temple guards and raises his hands in prayer calling out with unwavering faith.
"Blessed Iomedae, Inheritor of all that is good and just, I raise my hands to you and thank you for delivering your sons home to safety. In your favor, you grant us the opportunity to open our hearts to your spirit and work toward the the words we long to hear of your promise of steadfast love, justice for all, and a land that is reshaped for goodness and joy! When we are called to take up your call to faithfulness, how will we respond? That nothing is impossible for you. With this truth deep within us, we trust that you long to hear us say, 'Here I am, a willing servant of Iomedae!' Let is be so!"
With those words, Solaric channels the divine energy of Iomedae in a 30 foot burst of celestial light all around him, healing, inspiring and lifting the spirits of all in his presence.
As the divine energy is radiated into the room both men whisper
Praise the valour of Iomedae and the holy fire of Sarenrae.
When the moment of highest reverence has passed, Gardon says
You're right, we were ambushed by a large band of ogres who killed our hroses and...and most probably devoured our brothers and sisters and still, for the first time of my life I saw fear in the eyes of these bloodlusting beasts - they were fleeing from something that was more powerful than they were and made them fear for their lives. Can you imagine that? Two scores of ogres running away?
There is a saying common amongst those like us: "A war cannot worry us, for whoever might be ruling afterwards, he needs someone to kill his enemies". But to be honest, I have misgivings that this enemy can do the job himself...I'll be staying in Caliphas for the next months, guess I will return once you have been victorious, heh.
He pats you on the back and sells some healing salves to the next customer...Sure, also helps retroactive if the mace has already hit you...money back guarantee? Yeah sure...
Lisenting to the story of the ogre attack, Harl places a hand on Solaric's shoulder. "Lemme speak with ya outside, elf." he says in a solemn voice. Once the dark elf join him outside the old dwarf continues, "I don' ah like this at all, elf. Ogre's 're stupid, but not enough to face somethin' they can' beat. With the fear in 'em who knows what they might get inta. I think it might be wise we forget this little set of games ya got planned an' find these things fast. Maybe ye canna get somethe other knights here fer the tournament ta be helpin' us. What better ta get 'em boastin' 'bout 'hier skills? In any case, we can' have these runnin' loose any longer than necessary."
After a stressful walk through Karcau's bustled streets Johenric reaches the academy buildings at last. The now empty black towers of Vizyalesh still give everyone the shivers who looks up to their black spires, but still, this is the place where the most ancient books are kept.
By the command of the three remaining academy masters, a unit of Nightscarves is now securing the building at all times, controlling who is entering and for what reasons.
As the wizard comes nearer to the large darkwood front door, suddenly one of the tricorne wearing elite soldiers steps out of the shadows next to the entrance and demands
"You're right, we were ambushed by a large band of ogres who killed our horses and...and most probably devoured our brothers and sisters and still, for the first time of my life I saw fear in the eyes of these bloodlusting beasts - they were fleeing from something that was more powerful than they were and made them fear for their lives. Can you imagine that? Two scores of ogres running away?"
"Gardon, you were brave and fortunate to have faced such evil and lived to tell the tale. I find it very interesting that you claim that the ogres were running for their lives. Ogres do not usually need to run from anything! At my earliest chance I will make the trip to the ridge and investigate the situation myself. Obviously something must be driving them onward in fear and hate. I wish to thank you for sharing such words. However, I do want to give you time to rest and recover. If the opportunity presents itself, I will be sure to return and visit you to see that you are healing well. Fare well, my brothers. For Victory! For the Heart!"
Harl Marhammer wrote:
"I think it might be wise we forget this little set of games ya got planned an' find these things fast. Maybe ye canna get somethe other knights here fer the tournament ta be helpin' us. What better ta get 'em boastin' 'bout 'hier skills? In any case, we can' have these runnin' loose any longer than necessary."
"I have been feeling the same way, my friend. We have a tremendous duty and responsibility to fight evil at every opportunity, and I am not feeling good about simply waiting around for us to compete in a tournament. Although I understand that honor is at stake with such an event, I feel that the safety of the city should be higher on our list of priorities. Well, Harl, tonight we will discuss matters with the Countess Livgrace. Perhaps she will be able to allay some of my fears and convince me that this tournament should proceed as planned."
When conversation have ended, Solaric returns to his chamber and tries to find a place to put Flofer up for the night. He then proceeds to remove his armor, take a bath and prepare himself for this evening's dinner.
The two guards join in in Solaric's call and wish you farewell. A place for Flofer to stay was already prepared by Veredan who has given the young bard one of the empty chambers of a dead cleric.
Everyone besides Johenric ready for dinner then?
The Nightscarve thinks only for a split second, then nods and opens the door.
I'll be on patrol through the library in two hours.
He nods and closes the heavy door behind you. Inside you feel lost for a short moment. This building - the Black Pinnacle - was the place where Jarovich once ruled and the most haughty and malicious students trained. The walls are made of black granite and heavy emerald-green carpets cover the floor. Paintings of forlorn landscapes - withered heaths, lonely mountains, desolate mires - hang on the walls and you are nearly drowned by the dark atmosphere of this building. A long corridor lies now before you and the only thing you can hear is the blowing of the wind outside.
For evening dinner, Solaric leaves his armor back at the temple and dresses in his priestly garb. However, he still brings his sword sheathed in its scabbard attached to his belt. He joins Flofer and Harl to meet with the others at Academy Square.
"Alright, then Hassard. I wish you luck in Caliphas, contact me somehow if you need help with anything. I'll watch over your store, but I can't promise you a lot of business," Kirk says with a wink. He turns to leave, then hesitates and comes back to Hassard. "One more thing. Have you heard of one Aramis de Voisseur? He's beginning to be causing us some problems, and I thought I'd look up some dirt on him, if there's any to be had, in case things get out of hand."
De Voisseur? Never heard that name - but rumormongering was never my cup of tea, but hey, I know someone who might be able to help you. Isabel, the Queen of Hearts. Once an alley cat, now Karcau's number one courtesan, heh.
The night is crisp and clear and the stars look down on the nightly Karcau. Two cats fight in the distance as you meet in front of Vizyalesh's dark towers. Several Nightscarves now guard the Academy Square and two of them walk over to you, illuminating the area with a large lantern.
You follow the two Nightscarves to the side of the academy building. Here they bend some bushes aside and reveal a black iron door nearly invisible against the black facade of the tower.
The guard rythmically knocks against the door and a moment later another Nightscarve opens from inside. After descending down a stairwell you enter a room of about 10 X 5m. A long table rests in the middle of the room and the countess sits at its head. Besides the Nightscarves you are the only ones guests that have yet arrived.
"Good evening, your Highness!" Solaric approaches and bows deeply. "As always, it is a pleasure to see you. I hope we are not too early, but we were hoping to have a few moments with you before the other guests arrive."
As Solaric engages the countess in the opening courtesies, Harl cast an eye about the room taking in the odd place for a dinner party. "Vic, what do ya make of this place? Is this a normal thing for yer people?"he whispers to Victoria.
"Your Highness, you are so perceptive and attuned to others! It is no wonder that you are loved by your people so fondly! I will come straight to the point. Harl and I were discussing the evil that threatens our fine city and were noting the presence of something so vile as to send scores of ogres running in fear for their lives. We just thought that perhaps it would be a more prudent course to go north and investigate this evil than to compete in tournament. I certainly wish to compete, but I am greatly concerned for the people. I am sure you are aware, but only two out of a handful of temple guards recently returned from the ridge. I certainly wish to put myself forth for you in tournament, but I am called to go north and smite down the evil that plauges this land. Please advise us, your Highness."
"Vic, what do ya make of this place? Is this a normal thing for yer people?"he whispers to Victoria.
"I'm thinking this is the meeting before the meeting. There's a web we are in, with Aramais considering himself the fat spider in the middle. The Countess isn't silly, she is well aware of who and what he is, but no doubt she finds herself lacking position to admonish such a man, as her own position is probably rather... tenuous. A woman of her station unmarried with no stable 'approvable' suitor? Hardly going to be deemed acceptable forever"