"You suspect someone here isn't who they say they are? I suppose anything is possible. I'll check, if only to satisfy my paranoia."
The inquisitor chuckles lightly after his whispered reply, as if he was just told an old dwarven joke. As the rest of the people continue to speak, he looks to each of them in turn.
He's going to focus on their innermost desires, their moral code, and aura to determine if there's any hint of evil within.
He'll be using his detect evil class ability
Alis raised an eyebrow at Arion and Darvesch's antics, but smiled none-the-less. Although a few others might have possibly overheard them, only she could understand their whispered dwarven.
One can't be too careful, I suppose, perhaps I should help.
Glancing to Sindariel, she nodded and held up a finger before she turned to answer Arion. "You may not have expected crowds, but I would have been discouraged had my appearance not drawn onlookers. Disinterest is a sign of detachment or despondency after all."
Beside her, Lureene noticed an odd inflection in Alis' voice, and a strange flourish of her hands as she spoke.
With a smile to her friend, Alis looked about, allowing her gaze to sweep over the gardens. She sounded somewhat aloof as she continued, "No, our decision to hold the meeting at the House of Súmalya was the change of plans Sindariel's look-alike proposed. I had already made up my mind to visit Súmalya's shrine some time earlier..."
Well I don't see anything unseen... at least not yet.
A 1d20 + 16 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 16 + 3 = 39 alertness
M 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (6) + 15 = 21 +4 trapfinding
L 1d20 + 9 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 9 + 3 = 27 alertness
S 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (13) + 12 = 25
S 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (2) + 22 = 24
T 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (5) + 18 = 23
A Perf: Oratory 1d20 + 15 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 15 + 4 = 23 Tear
M 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (5) + 15 = 20
R 1d20 + 15 - 5 ⇒ (5) + 15 - 5 = 15 distracted
D 1d20 + 15 - 5 ⇒ (12) + 15 - 5 = 22 distracted
L 1d20 + 9 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 9 + 3 = 28 alertness
S 1d20 + 12 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 12 + 2 = 23 human
S 1d20 + 22 ⇒ (2) + 22 = 24
T 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (14) + 18 = 32
Spellcraft DC 17
L 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (18) + 13 = 31
A 1d20 + 16 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 16 + 3 = 31 alertness
As Alis gazed off in thought, seemingly distracted, Sindariel commented on something Lureene had mentioned, "The Enclave may be the best location at which to acquire magic items in Port Eldarion, but," she quirked an eyebrow at Amhranai, "it isn't the only one. Not only are there illicit markets in our fair capital, but there are other cities in Dafar as well. Whomever impersonated me might also have already owned or crafted such an item at an earlier time. Assuming your suppositions do not overlook some other possible explanation, that is..."
"Regarding Lord Glorohir, it has been some time since I have last seen him — a few weeks at least. Of course, much to my dear Elendreth's chagrin, it is not entirely uncommon for him to embark on lengthy excursions. The jungle is full of ancient ruins that might intrigue scholars and treasure-hunters alike. Why after her Highness departed yesterday's soiree to attend to other business, even your serpentine mage-friend found herself deep in her cups and started going on about some place called Tantyra-Në."
The older woman snickered and flipped her hair over her shoulder, "Academicians can be rather droll when their shyness and inhibitions subside..."
Something catches his eye, "There's something not right about those.."
He focuses on the altar first, looking at it intently, taking in its shape, its imagery, and its decorations engraved within. He inhales deeply, but as quietly as he can, as he determines what kind of magic is at play here. After a few moments, when he has gathered all that he has recalled of this altar, he turns his focus on the grotesque totem and does the same.
K:Arcana 10 + 12 = 22 take 10, determine school of magic on altar
K:Arcana 10 + 12 = 22 take 10, determine school of magic on totem
The Princess' mention, of Sindariel's look-alike suggesting changes of plans, triggered something in the elven scribe's memory. Allowing his compatriot time to investigate their surroundings properly, Arion spoke up again, directing his comment to the Baroness. As he did so, he glanced at Princess Kirmoon, not wanting to distract her from surveying the area.
Yet, better by far for our Princess to explain to the Baroness her reasons for declining a change in plans last evening. How shall I phrase this?
"Yesterday evening, before my companions and I departed from the Villa, a servant of Her Highness arrived, bearing a message from Yourself. I hadn't considered it at first to be, as You put it, 'an attempt' made to 'deviate from our established agenda.' Yet, I remember now how I had been torn between curiosity, about this city, and my eagerness to meet with You as soon as possible. Since Her Highness commanded that I accompany her friends elsewhere, and decided not to accept Your offer to meet sooner than originally planned, I obeyed and visited Gods Save the Keg."
Sindariel listened with great interest to Arion's account, distracted only by the inquisitor. She watched with idle curiosity as he cast a spell, gaze fixed upon one of her garden's centerpieces.
The totem has only a faint aura of transmutation magic left to it, although it still radiates a moderate degree of evil.
When Arion had finished his account, Sindariel frowned. "Well, it would appear that our mysterious stranger attempted to lure you away last night, your Highness. I related no such message. Tell me, Mister Hithraen, could you identify the messenger if you saw them in a crowd?"
A 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (11) + 9 = 20
R 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (10) + 12 = 22 +2 identify
L 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (10) + 13 = 23
S 1d20 ⇒ 10
T 1d20 ⇒ 5
The inquisitor focuses back on the conversation at hand, "I apologize, your collection is very interesting, to say the least. They're of Zuck origin, is that right?" The dwarf asks. "The altar and totem, I mean. Do you know what their purpose is, or was?"
Bluff 1d20 + 0 + 1d6 ⇒ (3) + 0 + (2) = 5 surge
Darvesch is trying to get across the point that he wants the altar and totem identified of their magical properties. It should seem very apparent with the result of his roll.
An awkward silence hung in the air following Tiniel's revelation and Darvesch's non-sequitur, frowning faces and raised eyebrows in ample supply. Arms folded, Sindariel shook her head and gave the dwarf a curt answer, eyes never leaving Tiniel, "The collector from whom I acquired them said they were relics of a disbanded Obanohi tribe."
"Now then," she looked her junior dead in the eyes, "would you care to elaborate, Miss Lómelindë, or would you prefer to speak with Sir Hellhammer once he is done admiring my landscaping?"
Tiniel shifted from one foot to the other, concern rightly evident on her face. "It was after the majority of the guests had departed, I had relieved her Highness' pets from Lady Hlokenar's care and was seeing the young lady out when you approached, asking me where one might find the nearest... privy."
Growing increasingly more uncomfortable beneath her superior's glare, Tiniel continued, "After Lady Hlokenar excused herself, you took me aside and stated that it was urgent we hold a briefing session about the state of affairs in Dafar sooner rather than later, and that we should rendezvous at your estate in an hour's time. I then went directly to inform the Princess in the study."
"Well, that was just code, Sash," Alis answered, frowning slightly.
Well if Tiniel herself had wanted me dead, she certainly had plenty of opportunity...
Even as Sasha looked to Arion for understanding, Alis continued, voice sympatheric, "Tin... Lureene, the Marshal, the Councilor, and I saw off the last of the guests ourselves before the sun had finished setting. Ladies Lammontari and Sempronius-Eldarion left together ahead of Lady Hlokenar..."
Arion had been reviewing his notes of the affairs in the Villa the day before.
Yesterday was so filled with significant conversations and eventful intrigues that it seems THAT portion of our tale went on for 13 pages, or more, in this unfolding rhapsody. I had not even noted WHEN the various persons had departed, in chronological order.
Nodding with a loving smile upon Sasha he harmonised with the Princess, saying, "Yes, Sasha, code language, talking about the foxes at the same time as sending a message hidden in the words. May this protectorate someday be so free of evil plots, that we all can speak as plainly and freely as You."
I wonder how I would have responded, had I been in Your place yesterday, Tiniel; faced with a direct order from what seemed to be Sindariel...
With the tone of a fellow agent, he said to Tiniel, "If only You could recall some other details of this imposter...although, there do exist some enchantments that can modify the memories of those whose wills fail to resist such compulsions."
Obviously upset by the discovery he made, and irritated by the fact that nobody seemed to mind whatever it was he found, he simply closes his eyes and begins to pray in his native tongue. All that is heard is a mumble.
"Kahn, grant me the patience to deal with the artifacts at a more appropriate time. Grant me the resolve to rid them of their evil in a timely manner. And grant me the power to be able to use them for the good of this land."
Is all he says after a moment his prayer is over. "I'm sorry to interrupt again. But as a Lightbringer, it is my duty to inform you, and Your Highness, that those artifacts exude dark magic. The altar is of great evil and necromantic in origin, and the totem is a lesser evil with transmutations upon it." He coughs, clearing his throat, "I simply cannot ignore it. I apologize, Princess." He looks back to Sindariel, "I recommend disposing of it quickly. Perhaps, you would like to donate the items to the Lightbringers? I can personally guarantee they'd be put to the defense of this land in another form."
He's not trying anything here. He's being blunt, as diplomatic as he knows how.
Sindariel was just about to respond to Lureene when Darvesch interrupted.
Sighing, she grumbled, "Well that at least explains why my moonflower vines began to exhibit such exotic hues..."
"As far as disposing of them..." She put one hand on her hip as she gestured to various artifacts in other gardens, a broken column from an ancient temple, the carved tusks of some great beast now turned into an arch, and many others. "I collect artifacts and trinkets from various cultures and display them as focal points for conversation and artistic appreciation. Given what I know of dwarven aesthetics, forgive me if I am somewhat dubious that such donations would be showcased in the wing of some museum."
Displeasure tempered only by the knowledge that the dwarf was simply acting according to duty and not out of malice, Lady Lammontari replied, "Well yes, that is a relief, your Highness. I am simply apprehensive about the mindset that objects that are harming no one might be 'requested' for donation simply for what they may once have been used for. In my experience, I find that we learn more by studying other cultures than we do by expunging evidence of how they may have lived."
"Understandable," Alis replied, "but the key is to ensure that ghosts from the past can't harm those living in the present. We should examine it after we're done here and determine if they could pose an active threat simply by existing, or if they require actual use to work their magic... It may be possible to disenchant them without harming their historical and aesthetic value."
Turning back to the poor intelligence officer left hanging by the derailment, she said, "But that can wait until later."
"As for the Ruby Coil," Alis continued, "just because it's illegal to tamper with another person's memory doesn't mean they have exclusive access to such tricks. I'm sure you or I could do the same thing to someone if we wanted to, El. Nevermind that I doubt the Coil would do anything to aid Avoreen — they should be enemies, remember?"
"That it would," Sindariel said plainly, "although it would be uncanny for two different parties to both impersonate the same individual."
"Unless," she shook a finger as a thought occurred to her, "one group had learned today's dress-fitting was something more whereas the other did not."
"Alis, if it wasn't a member of the Ruby Coil...then WHO else would it have been? Arvoreen doesn't have a presence on Elsemar...at least not that I am aware of." Lureene responds. "As for discovering the hidden purpose of our meeting, I would imagine whoever reached Tiniel would have easily discovered the Baroness' true title."
Watching the new Governess tactfully deal with this new information was a study in subtle strategy.
Such character! What a show of wise diplomacy by our potentate. Whatever may be the truth about those relics, she is correct to outwardly prioritise their examination until later. Her statecraft resembles what I had learned about her martial abilities. Why though does Sindariel think nothing of what the Inqisitor detected? Or is she hiding something? Or being misled by an outside influence? Was I wrong to admire her? What verbal appel might reveal her mind?
"Contributing to this council, I agree strongly with Sir Hellhammer. Not making light of Your discoveries, my Dwarven compatriot, I was trying to allow You time to fully examine the area. At the same time I agree with the Princess; looking forward to discovering the true history of these relics."
The elven agent focused upon the Baroness closely as he added, " I am certain we will expose any threat."
The above two posts were meant to happen earlier, replying after
"It may be possible to disenchant them without harming their historical and aesthetic value."
Arion sensed that Sindariel was growing more agitated by the course of the afternoon meeting.
Being uncertain as to deeper motivations or any compulsive enchantments, I should go with my instincts and those of the Princess for now.
After Sasha's reply to Sindariel...
The elven agent offered, "Until the results of Ms. Echorn's ritual, without further information, tracing the exact details seems to be a lengthy exercise in spent resources and time. We could conjecture much and still not name a specific suspect. Pouring great efforts into barricading our Sovereign and Lady Ourson behind intense defenses seems to go against the policies that Princess Kirmoon has already begun; refusing to withdraw in the midst of the earlier battle. Might I suggest that we try to bait would be attackers, according to our chosen timing and location? I would be honoured to be part of such bait. Our talents, magical devices and spells work in our favour when choosing disguises."
Lureene added "I must agree with Arion and Darv here, Baroness. Having these items tainted by the stink of evil leads to a corrupted heart and mind, which outweighs any cultural benefits those items would provide."
As she pondered Arion's words, she could not help but feel touched by his dedication to not only herself but Alis as well. She glides close to him and soon found her hand encased in his own. "Arion, I suspect you are already considered...bait as you so eloquently put it." Her eyes travel over his face, a small smile playing on her full pouty lips. "I do like your idea of setting a trap for our enemies...BUT I did have a question about your idea of a disguise."
She released his hand and stepped away from the elf mage, spreading her golden wings out fully displaying the shimmering bands of light playing along the sinews and tendons. "How will I disguise...THESE?" She asked while a smirk played on her lips.
"Thank you, Lady Ourson," Sindariel replied, voice steely, "for implying that I have a corrupted heart and mind. I am glad to know that over a century of service to King Aramandil warrants such respect from one who has pledged herself to Ilmarond for a single season. My but what great weight such criticism holds coming from the daughter of the being that just attempted to assassinate my employer."
"Tell me," she said, all pretense of affability gone, "you spoke of telepathic bonds earlier. Are we simply to assume that Avoreen monitors you no longer, or shall we take it on your word that she does not? How am I to know that you are not some plant, hidden in plain sight, who has already taken our ruler under her spell, particularly when you see fit to flaunt your heritage instead of displaying the good sense to disguise it as my agents report you did on your voyage here? To be quite frank, I would be hard-pressed to find a more likely suspect than an enchantress who has the Princess' confidence and is a blood-relation to our enemy."
The temperature in the sitting room dropped several more degrees as Lureene turned an icy gaze on the Baroness. "Sooo, you sit here and accuse ME of being in league with my Mother whilst you are the one in possession of not one but THREE artifacts steeped in evil!" She turned to wave back where Darvesch had examined the artifacts. "For someone who has spent a century serving Ilmarond and prides herself on being cautious, it strikes me as being...unusual you had not even bothered to examine those items for evil auras before now...something which could have been done in seconds!".
Her voice shaking with anger, she continued. "As for my heritage and disguising it, I am sure you are aware of the simple reality even magical disguises can be pierced by those with the magical know-how. Plus I am PROUD of what I am now and I am not ashamed of my ANGEL wings. If you doubt my intentions towards Princess Kirmoon then I will gladly submit to being examined by yourself! Let us BOTH undergo an ...examination to get to the bottom of this!"
After having ignored his plea to discard the evil items, the dwarf stands silent, seething in anger. His anger is mildly dispelled by the support of his allies, "Thanks for having my back, guys." A crack of a smile shows on his face.
He simply stands and wait as events unfold, hoping the Princess intervenes.
A flash of thought hits Darvesch, and quickly he casts a spell while everyone is yelling at each other. Each in turn, he looks at the magics currently affecting everyone, taking the moment to determine which schools of magic they are.
He's casting detect magic, and focusing on the people currently there, and taking 10 (giving him 22) on his K:Arcana check to determine schools of magic.
I swear to Heaven... every– single– time!
"ENOUGH!" Alis' normally soft and calming voice smote the air like a maul and sent birds from the trees above fleeing into the air in a panic.
"Lady Lammontari," she declared, "I can appreciate your concern. While I had been irate that you would have ordered Ms. Lómelindë to poison me last night, I am somewhat relieved to learn that it was an impostor who ordered her to do so. Thankfully for both Tiniel and myself, I am more cautious than that."
"Yet in spite of your past falling-out with the Lightbringers, surely a woman in your line of work must be able to appreciate why others might be suspicious of such finds. Just like yourself, we do not have the luxury of assuming the best about people we have just met."
Sindariel arched an eyebrow at the revelation that Tiniel had been tricked into attempting to poison Alis but remained silent until the Princess had paused. Casting a baleful glance at the woman assigned to be the Vicereine's hand-maiden, she said, "It is a relief to learn that your Highness is more paranoid than I had initially suspected."
"Indeed," Alis said before turning to face Lureene.
"Lady Ourson," the way Alis said her title seemed as if it was a reminder to the golden-winged beauty, "I realize you are a passionate soul and would use that firey spirit to aid those who love you. However, inflaming others against us is not helpful. We were sent here to build bridges... not burn them down."
Exhaling hard, the golden waves of her hair trembled as she shook her head. "Any enemy worth worrying about would cackle with glee to see those who should be allied against them quarreling like this!"
Darvesch staggered slightly as though someone had just shone a bright light in his eyes in a dark room. Thankfully, it seemed to be just a passing thing as he quickly shook his head as if banishing a disturbing recollection.
Alis: The Tear of Súmalya
Amhranai: Her Knight's Badge
Darvesch: Grimnon's Axe
Lureene: Richardson's Locket
Lureene knew a rebuke when she heard one, being subject to many of them as she was growing up. Gritting her teeth she took a deep breath to calm herself before turning to face the Baroness. Bowing her head in a gesture of humility she softly said, "I do humbly apologize for insulting you earlier. I know we both have the Princess' best interests at heart, I just let my emotions get away from me for a moment there."
Sindariel frowned. It wasn't every day one was taken to task and scolded by someone one tenth their age.
Well, at least she's not soft...
Meeting the gaze of the blue-eyed beauty she had just scathed, Sindariel bowed her head in kind. "Apology... accepted."
Looking up with a crooked smile, she said, "You are quite the exceptional individual to fluster me so. Forgive me if I offended. You are correct in ascertaining that we each are giving all matters their due diligence."
Breathing more calmly now, Alis tipped her head slightly to acknowledge the two women. "That's better, thank you."
Looking to her cousin she asked, tone lighter and more teasing, "Well, have you spied anything interesting that isn't covered in moss and vines yet, Frændi?"
At length, you do detect the lingering traces of a compulsion enchantment upon her, but your current casual observation is insufficient to identify it. Concentrating more intently, (i.e. recycling that mis-spent Surge from earlier), you finally do confirm that it is a Modify Memory effect upon her.
You are aware of some secret forensic spells known by members of your order that you might call upon for additional insight, although you've never attempted to use them yourself...
Even though Tiniel looked as though she might turn blue and pass out at any moment, Sindariel simply laughed and shook her head at the younger redhead's inquiry.
"Please," she said holding out a hand, "pick enough to share..."
As Sasha brightened and hurried off in her evening gown, the spymaster looked to Darvesch, eager to hear what news he might have to share about her agent... or anyone else for that matter.
"As a matter of fact, I did." He responds to Alis. "It appears that Tiniel has, in fact, been the target of a memory modification spell." He turns to Tiniel, "If you would be so kind, I'd like to try something. There is a technique used by other Lightbringers that allow them to gain a lot more information than a standard detection spell. I'd like to attempt it."
D will cast Detect Magic Residue, upon Tiniels approval. He'll be taking 20 on all the necessary checks, which should give him all the information he could ask for, minus the targets nationality.