"Where are we?" Bohrs asks no one in particular, pushing himself up to a kneeling position. "Did they spike our drinks? But why would they do that? I mean, we signed-up to join them, didn't we?"
Bluff, if needed, for putting on a show of confusion for non-companion cellmates: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
"Does anyone have a better light? I'm a caster but I don't have any light spell prepared."
Evlar: 1d5 ⇒ 3 reroll
Russiet: 1d5 ⇒ 5
Senrin: 1d5 ⇒ 5 reroll
Tamin: 1d5 ⇒ 4
Evlar: 1d2 ⇒ 1
Evlar Senrin Bohrs Tamin Russiet
Although half of the group is new to each other, their voices are sufficiently distinct (and small in number) that they hopefully recognize each other. Senrin sounds like he is coming from everyone else's left. Russiet--or Teloda--comes from everyone else's right. And Bohrs--or Tim--comes from between the two, closer to Senrin than Teloda. Tamin hears Bohrs/Tim to his immediate left and Russiet/Teloda to his immediate right.
The smooth, thick metal iron bars rattle in Senrin's hands, sturdy, imposing, and close together. If he had a familiar, it would struggle to get through.
Russiet's investigation reveals that the door to the cell is indeed locked.
A voice that sounds like the half-elf that Tamin met--Evlar--pipes up from the furthest away, even to the left of Senrin. He sounds groggy. "Bloody hells. Are you the lot from the Lament?"
Russiet did not speak beyond her first soft spoken observation. She had to remind herself of her self-styled identify for this infiltration. She was destined to be here. She was better than the other rabble. At least she had been left with her fine clothing. Pursing her lips, she checked for her mask. Not because of it being valuable, but that she kept it pinned to her hair.
That pin could prove valuable in the moment.
Tamin does not immediately move on regaining consciousness. He lies quiet and still, eyes slitted, letting them adjust to the dim dim light that shows bars and little else. A mat... of sorts... beneath him. Straw. Not exactly comfortable, but it's better than bare stone. His gut is lightly unsteady and there's a foul taste in his mouth from whatever they'd used as a drug, but he supposes he prefers it, all told, to being knocked unconscious. No pounding ache in his skull or blurred vision, at least.
Dael would probably be able to offer a theory on what poison it had been, he thinks. Dael would...
Stop it, he tells himself, harshly, and eases carefully up into a sitting position. No idea how long they'd been lying on the stone floor with only thin straw as a barrier, but long enough the cold has seeped into his joints, at least.
He can just make out the voices of the others, and grunts to himself in slight relief they're close enough to hear. Evlar's voice in particular makes him exhale.
"Aye-- we were all at the Lament. You alright, Evlar? I take back what I said about the welcoming hospitality," he says with a snort. "Damn it, I had coin on me-- I'd better be getting it back at some point."
(Very little coin, enough to cover the expenses he'd expected to incur at the tavern-- but the comment fits his chosen persona of greedy, money-driven mercenary.)
Gingerly, Tamin uses the wall to get the rest of the way to his feet, wary of any lingering vertigo, and then starts to do some cautious stretching of his chilled limbs, chafing his joints with his hands to get some warmth back into them. In contrast to his deliberate movements, he pitches his voice loud and brash and surly as he leans his face near to the bars and yells, "OI! What's all this? Thought Razmir was going to lead us to wealth and power, you've @#$^%ing taken my kit and locked me up!"
Bohrs sits quietly for a moment and meditates of all that Cayden Cailean means to him: freedom, luck, and the courage to take risks. All of these virtues will be necessary to him in the immediate future.
Morning Meditations to prep spells, if possible.
SoH Untrained: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24
Pulling the pin from her mask, Russiet suddenly becomes very self conscious. Hiding it back where it was, she considers if any of her allies might be able to make use of it. The marshall... hah. Perhaps Bohrs? No. She wouldn't let herself think of the cleric that way. Perhaps the elf? Hmmm. She would like to see if anyone was coming, but she was without a light source. She had put away her torch stone for safekeeping rather than hidden it with Bob.
"Can anyone produce light?" she suddenly asked out of the blue.
Senrin hears Russ.... Teloda's question. Good! We don't know each other. Keep it simple! "Sorry. As I said I'm a caster, but I didn't prepare any light spell. I can't actually. Don't have one in my spellbook. Stolen by... Never mind. I'm an elf and can see a little bit better than humans in dim light. The half elf that I saw. His vision should be similar. But can anyone see in the dark, or cast a light spell? I'd like to know what the room is like outside of these bars."
Hearing Tamin's call to the jailors he adds his own. "Hey! You said glory, wealth and power, power enough to get my revenge on the Molthuni. How does stealing my spell book, just like they did, help me!?!"
Yup: regarding wizard spells (just so we're on the same page):
Until he prepares spells from his spellbook, the only spells a wizard has available to cast are the ones that he already had prepared from the previous day and has not yet used. During the study period, he chooses which spells to prepare. If a wizard already has spells prepared (from the previous day) that he has not cast, she can abandon some or all of them to make room for new spells.
So until you gain access to your spellbook again, that's your limitation.
As the men chatter on, they hear the dull echo of approaching footsteps. By the light of a torch, two masked priests pass by the cells, looking in each cell at the men within. The first priest, black-robed, seems visually indistinguishable from the other Heralds. He seems to be carrying several bowls. The second priest, gray-robed, is a large man, nearly 7 feet tall and with a broad girth to match his height. The gray-robed priest's iron mask is also distinct, covered in rust but glowing faintly in the darkness. He holds a torch in one hand and has a sack slung over his shoulder.
"I must apologize for the way that you were brought here," the black-robed priest begins with a calm, even tone, contrasting the anger suffusing Senrin and Tamin's comments. The voice is the same, deep rich voice that greeted you at the Ranger's Lament. "We must be sure that you are pure and properly prepared to join the faith. Today you shall fast and meditate on the glory of Razmir. On the morrow you shall be sworn in and given your masks, made one with the body of Razmir; one piece of the greater whole. You shall become acolytes, and be allowed upon the first step of enlightenment. And in due time, once you have proven your faith, you will become free members and your worldly possessions will be returned to you. Rejoice! The path of glory and fortune shall be open to you."
The black-robed priest kneels in front of each door, lifts up a small opening, and slides a bowl of water through. The gray-robed priest follows after, watches to see what each occupant does with their water bowl, and then stuffs a white robe through the same compartment.
Russiet does her best to appear impassive, as if this was entirely beneath her as any kind of challenge. Still, she does not speak out against the trial. Wen she is offered the water she will dip her delicate fingertips into the bowl and start to wash her hands outside of it. She then sits cross-legged and begins to meditate.
All the while listening and waiting for them to leave. She had no intention to meditate on Razmir for the day, but she could work on her character. Yes, she must recite in her head what mannerisms she would speak with. Work through her backstory front to back so she would not get caught in a lie. Consider in advance how she should react to further trials so she isn't caught off guard and break character.
Understood. Anything cast except for cantrips are gone until I get my spell book back. Cantrips should stay the same but I can't change them. Can't even if I get my book back since I didn't put any in it....
Senrin stops his complaints when the Razmiran enter and explain. He considers a comment about how they were being treated when they voluntarily "joined".... But accepts their methods.
When the bowl is pushed into the cell he moves to it, picks it up and sniffs it. He doesn't drink any water at this moment, just moving over to a corner and setting the dish down for later. "Rejoice to the glory of Razmir. I gladly accept your standards and await my entrance to the path of power, all glory and fortune be to Razmir."
When the robe is stuffed into the cell he accepts that as well. Ignoring modesty he strips his regular clothing off and dons the robe. Moving over to the straw he quietly sits and assumes pose of meditation.
Bohrs accepts the robe and bowl of water from the priest. As he grasps the rim of the bowl, he places his thumb on the inside of the rim, so that it is touching the water. He calls upon the Druidic powers granted to him in the Crypt of Everflame to purify the water. (purify food and drink spell-like ability)
"Are we supposed to drink, wash with, or stare into the water? I don't want to get it wrong and cause offense," Tim (Bohrs) asks the priest.
Tamin listens: listens to that sonorous, deep voice that is calm and steady as if rebuking his anger. He listens to what his comrades say-- and definitely listens to
Bohrs Tim's question, that's a good one to know the answer to. He also snifs discreetly at the water in his bowl... if water it really is.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Unable to detect anything 'off" about the water-- if indeed anything is off-- Tamin shrugs internally and prepares to drink it, though he waits to do so to see if the priest will instruct Tim otherwise.
(He'll drink unless the priest says it's for meditating or something)
Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, Tamin mutters, "Pure? Of what? You better not figure you're getting any virgins here, Father. Or Brother. What should I call you? ....sir," he adds, carefully, at the end.
"The water is yours to do with as you need," the herald tells Tim. "So long as you remain quiet in your meditations."
There is no mirth in the herald's voice as he responds to Tamin. "We do not require sexual purity like the Kalistocrats. No--we require purity of the mind and heart: a readiness to accept the lessons of the Living God. Removed from the lies of the world."
There is another beat. "There is no need to know my name. I am a servant of the Living God, one with his body. A brother. That is enough."
Feel free to ask any final questions before they leave. I won't be doing an hour-by-hour accounting of what you all do, but please tell me, generally speaking, what your character is up to. What are they thinking? How are they feeling?
Senrin stays in his meditative position, waiting and listening. He knows that they have to prove themselves 'ready' for training as acolytes for the Living God. Good thing that they'd had a big meal. If the bowl of water is all that they'll get today, and he assumes such, they'd definitely be hungry by breakfast tomorrow.
He wonders what they'll be given tomorrow. More water again as part of the test? He'd been hungry before. A day or two without food? There were harder tests that he could imagine.
When he hears the lead priest move he quietly speaks, "Razmir guide me. Not fame, glory or riches for me. I seek power for revenge and I'll use my arcane power for Your glory, Your fame, and Your riches. Amen."
"Tim" puts on the robe, as instructed, and sits cross-legged, with the bowl of water in his hands.
He closes his eyes and meditates on the image of a crowded common room, filled with laughter and music, and the smell of ale, roasted meat, and fesh baked bread. He sees himself at a table, ready to face off against a robed and masked figure in a game of chance. The masked figure has demanded an ante before the rules of the game have been explained. He looks at his small pile of silver and copper coins, and then the pile of gold and platinum in front of his opponent. Game on.
Silently meditating to regain spells.
"Alright then... brother."
Tamin takes the robe, the water. He sips it slowly, wary of any aftertaste, but if there is one, he can't detect it.
The robe is donned, partly because he is sure he is still being observed, partly because the stone of the cell becomes chill after enough time sitting still. Not that he spends all his time sitting still; Westiron goes through a series of stretches and exercises in the long hours of the day, making sure he can't get too chilled or sedentary. He hears little from his companions-- Tim seems quiet indeed, and Senrin is committing the Razmir-farce with admirable thoroughness... Teloda's quiet, too.
They can't speak openly without betraying the game, so Tamin follows suit as well-- mostly.
"Evlar. You alright in there?" he says in a low voice at one point. "The boredom's sooner to kill me than any Molthune bastard, how about you?"
Aside from some careful checking on their fellow recruit, Tamin alternates between physical drills and sitting cross-legged on the thin straw, head bowed as if in prayer. At least once in the long ticking hours-- as the excellent meal fades to nothing and then the prickles of peckishness begin-- he takes the time to search the cell thoroughly. Not that he thinks their captors left anything of interest... but perhaps some former prisoner did.
Take 20 if allowed for a 25 to thoroughly investigate his 'room'
Russiet continues her meditation. Within the palace of her mind she had plenty to keep herself occupied. Though she was certainly not the intellectual she tried to pass as with her martial and scholarly pursuits, there was no shortage of things to think about.
Her biggest struggle was when her thoughts would turn to Nicolette and Calaithes. She couldn't help but briefly grow introspective, but would inevitably cut off that train of thought in favor of thinking about mission related topics. Her actionable item list did eventually run dry though, and so she turned her mind to other things.
Her siblings and father. Without her home someone else would need to pour over books for him. Her youngest might be amazed to learn she had actually gone out in public as a girl. She stifled a chuckle at that. Her voice melodic in the moment.
Eventually her chin started to dip, and she laid down to nap. Using the robes she had been offered as a wadded pillow.
Once they are alone Senrin stands. His dark vision allows him to see clearly but he still pretends to be limited. He casts detect magic and scans the area, slowly rotating the full circle. He doesn't really expect anything, but there might be something forgotten.... Once that minor task is complete he settles himself back on the floor by the bowl of water. He casts prestidigitation to chill the water and picks it up to drink. He doesn't notice anything important about the water, but sets the bowl down, saving the rest for later. Then he leans back, resting against the wall to enter a state of reverie.
I wanted to give a bit more time for reactions, but then realized that Evlar had been asked a question! So the scene will be mildly curtailed as we move on.
There is no response from Evlar at first, but when it becomes clear that Tamin's quiet greeting hasn't raised any ire, he responds back in the same low voice. "I'm fine," he responds. "Just trying to meditate. Not sure what exactly I'm supposed to do."
Tamin find some dead fleas in the straw mat, but that seems to be the only notable thing in the cell. There are no loose bricks, no scrawled messages, and no hidden tools. Furthermore, the bars are just tight enough together that--if anyone had a familiar--they probably wouldn't be able to wedge themselves through.
In the immediacy of his spell, Senrin detects no magic anywhere around him. (Bohrs' spell was too low-level to be detectable for more than a few moments after it was cast.) But shortly, at the sound of Senrin's spellcasting, there is a rush of footsteps and the sound of some fumbling around. Torchlight appears a few moments later and one of the gray-robed priests begins pacing before each cell, mask looming in the window of each cell. "He said quiet," comes the voice, rough and snarled. "Which one of you did that?"
Now there are magical auras as the elf's senses light up with the awareness of magic.
After a few moments, he counts 3 magical auras, all three faint, coming from the priest. Two of those auras are identical to each other, leaving only two distinct auras.
Senrin, you can attempt to identify the school of magic of both magical auras (DC = 15 + Spell Level) with Knowledge (arcana). You can also attempt to identify the properties of both distinct magic items with Spellcraft checks. This is usually DC 15 + the item's caster level, but since "Attempting to ascertain the properties of a magic item takes 3 rounds per item to be identified and you must be able to thoroughly examine the object," the DC will be much higher. I have numbered the items based on how they appear in the NPC's statblock, so I'll just address them in that order.
What do you do?
Senrin steps forward at the question. His stance is almost a military attention stance. "I was the one that cast magic, a simple cantrip not intending any harm. I didn't hear instructions forbidding that. If I misunderstood please accept my apology and name the punishment. I will refrain from any more use of magic."
He'll be dismissing the spell before answering so not taking the time to examine the auras in detail.
Russiet did not open her eyes from her quiet meditation at the angry return of their jailor. Her only response a wry smile. They had been told to be quiet. So how odd it was that they were being asked questions. If she felt the man's eyes on her she would open her eyes half-lidded with the same smile remaining and her eyes laughing. Then, bring a delicate finger to her lips to express how much the order of silence meant to her.
The priest huffs his disappointment. "What else did you think 'quiet' and 'meditate' meant?" He doesn't reference an apology, but walks away muttering something under his breath.
A few hours pass before the sound of calm walking approaches with torchlight. A black-robed herald walks into view carrying a stack of fresh bowls of water. He walks to Senrin's cell first, waits until he feels confident that he has the wizard's attention, and pours the bowl on the floor while shaking his head disapprovingly.
What do you do?
Perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13
Senrin hears the guard mutter something, but the movement noises covers it so he isn't certain what is said. He quietly settles to the ground and relaxes in a full meditative posture.
When the black-robed herald enters the room Senrin rises to his feet silently. He watches as the man dumps the water out of his bowl, keeping his face blank and not giving any response other than a slight nod.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Tim (he needed to get used to thinking of himself as 'Tim', lest he not react when someone called him by the assumed name) doesn't even catch the priest's comment as he walks away.
As the Jailor/Priest pours out Senrin's water, 'Tim' tries to determine if there was deliberate malice in the action, or some other motivation.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (20) + 9 = 29
Per: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Tamin's lips twitch fractionally as he catches a snatch of what the priest said in his stalking away. Then it's back to waiting again.... there's only so many push-ups and hamstring stretches he can do in the cell's close quarters...
"Can't say as I know either, Evlar. Just wait. It's probably a patience test as much as anything," he mutters quietly, then goes to do... sit-ups, yeah, he hasn't done any of those yet...
When more water comes, accompanied by the relief of light, he isn't exactly complaining. Westiron sips his slowly, brows arched slightly over Senrin's being dumped out. Well, a half a day or... however long it's been... without water won't kill anyone. But of course that supposes that the promise that this phase of things is only for one day holds true.
Grimly, he thinks how the warnings from the previous spies had included not just captivity but also beatings. Right.
There seems to be no point in trying to get information from their captors-- asking questions would just get his own water dumped out. So Tamin contents himself with silent observation.
Tim/Bohrs senses no inherent malice in the actions of the herald. It's more tit-for-tat: what is considered the appropriate or expected punishment for the violation of the stated rule. Nothing more, nothing less.
The other three men (and one woman) each get their water refreshed without incident.
The sequence of receiving fresh water repeats three more times--approximately every five to six hours--with the same reactions of provision or disapproval depending on the behavior demonstrated by the occupant in the interim. Obvious loud noises like spellcasting draw stringent disapproval. Someone asleep gets their bars rattled and their water poured out. There is no effective communication possible. But as long as he "behaves," Senrin gets new water at each interval.
After what can only be assumed to be a full day--hours stretching on in silence and time difficult if not impossible to measure accurately--the torchlight appears once more. This time there are half a dozen gray-robed priests--including the 7-foot tall one--and one black-robed herald.
"It is time. Come."
The tall priest unlocks each cell one by one, allowing the five occupants to exit and take a position between two of the priests. The group is marched out into a corridor with a worn rug, then up a set of stairs into an armory. A pair of weapon racks sits in the center of this chamber, each bearing a variety of arms, most of which look new. Mounted to the walls is a host of steel shields as well, each one painted with the symbol of Razmir: the mask affixed to the faces of almost everyone around you. A white-robed acolyte stands on a stepstool, polishing one of the shields. They briefly turn as the line enters the room before returning to their labor.
From the armory, the group is led into what seems to be the primary sanctuary of the temple. Rows of polished, black stone pews surround a vast staircase that ascends in the center of this grand worship chamber. Each pew is filled with white- and gray-robed Razmirans, all masked, all gazing forward at the stairs. The thirty-one white marble stairs, each carved with one of the tenets of Razmir, climb to the top of a pedestal that supports a gigantic porcelain golden mask, the symbol of the Living God. As sunlight streams through the great stained-glass window high on the eastern wall, it passes through the eyes of the mask and reflects through a great emerald set into its forehead, bathing the room in shafts of green light.
Murals depicting the life and ascension of Razmir decorate the walls of this chamber. These murals start on the north wall and go around the room. The first of them illustrates him as a young, ambitious man, garnering great riches and power while helping the poor and the weak and encouraging them to flock to his banner. The next set of murals shows him entering the Starstone Cathedral in Absalom to undertake the test to become a god. Those following show him emerging victorious, with a mask shrouding his face, so that all could worship him without fear of looking upon his ascended countenance. Finally, he is seen founding the nation of Razmiran and spreading his faith all around the world; the last sequence represents events not yet come to pass, but certainly in motion from the rumors you have heard.
Standing on the eighth step are three black-robed figures--heralds by the look of it, arrayed with a space waiting for one more. Looking up, there are pairs of gray-robed priests in alcoves high above, watching the proceedings down below.
"Come forward," the head black-robed priest says. "Ascend the first step but stand no higher."
Senrin moves at the pace of the priests on either side of him. As they enter the armory he glances around without moving his head. Likewise as they enter the temple he is careful to watch and listen for exact instructions. He is certain that there will be plenty of time to look around later.
When told to ascend just the first step he does exactly that, freezing in place and waiting.
Tim/Bohrs sees Senrin take the lead on this ritual. He decides going second isn't a bad option. The first to go and the last to go will draw notice. He's just one of the herd, the best way to remain hidden from the predators.
He nods in acknowledgment to the priest, then steps up, as instructed.
Russiet simply steps onto the first step as if she were planning to walk up the flight of stairs on her way to dinner, but does stop herself short of climbing any higher. Her posture betrayed she was absolutely bored and impatient.
She cast a look to either side. Taking in the tapestries once more.
The discipline of his time as a soldier comes in useful as the hours drag on... and on... with no interruptions other than water. Tamin alternates between movement to keep his muscles and joints from locking up with sitting in a meditative posture.
It's a relief when the tedium comes to an end and they are ushered into a chamber clearly designed to awe-- the lights and opulence an even sharper contrast after the hours of darkness and boredom. Again, Tamin has to grudgingly give props to the cult for effective tactics. He squints a bit in the emerald-magnified sunlight. An actual precious stone? Green glass? Impossible to tell from here-- but if that is a real emerald, it alone would be worth a king's ransom, he thinks. This place is a testament to wealth. Razmir promises prosperity and his followers do all they can to reinforce that message.
He glances around for Evlar, trying to give the half-elf a small nod of acknowledgment, before he takes his obedient step onto Stair Number One.
Evlar is the last to take a single step up, but does so reverently. The head herald nods as the six gray-robed priests who had escorted them from below filter between them and walk up to the third step. The especially-tall one scratches at himself indelicately, but no one else says anything about it if they even noticed. The other five step around and hand Evlar, Senrin, Tamin, Teloda, and Tim an iron mask.
The herald speaks once more. "Our new brothers and sister: by placing this mask on your face, you signify your subservience to the Living God and your willingness to be his hands and feet wherever he deems it wise to send you. You are hereby required to wear this mask and these robes whenever you are on the first floor or outside the temple. In this way, we signify that we are all a part of the body of Razmir--no better or worse than any other part of the body. In this way, we signify to the unenlightened our commitment to bring Razmir's truth and light to the world."
As each of the five put on their masks, the gathered Razmirans chant "All hail the Living God!"
The herald speaks once more. "Welcome, my brothers and sister. The five of you will be tutored in the ways of Razmir by Brother Krant." His black-robed arm gestures around to the seven-foot tall man, who towers especially high over everyone else, his height almost matching the shortest of the four heralds five steps above him.
The herald leading the ceremony raises both arms once more. "Rejoice, faithful of the Living God! Razmir's reach grows with each soul who accepts his grace. All hail the Living God!"
"All hail the Living God!"
"My new brothers and sister: prove yourselves worthy and capable and you will become free members, able to do what you please and given all of your worldly possessions back. But until then, you must follow Brother Krant's teachings to the letter. In this way, you signify that you are prepared to learn."
"Return to your routines, my brothers and sisters. Be good to your new siblings. All hail the Living God!"
"All hail the Living God!"
With that, the ceremony comes to a close and the rows of cultists stand and file orderly out of the room. If anyone else makes a move to leave, Krant grunts and simply says "No."
Krant stands silently with the group, waiting for everyone else to have left, before speaking. He is a very large man, both in height and girth. His iron mask is also covered in rust, which none of the others observed so far have been. "Fresh meat," he says, his voice a deep bass. He chuckles darkly. "Okay, fresh meat. You heard Brother Egarthis. I'm your boss now, so you do what I say or else. Got it?"
He takes out a piece of paper and begins monotonously reading from it. He mispronounces or stumbles over several words as he reads.
There are a few others, but at a certain point it gets hard to keep track of them. Once he finishes, Krant grunts and slips the piece of paper back in his robes. "You got any questions, fresh meat?"
Coin. Coin, wealth, money... luxuries, comforts... following on the heels of his thoughts about the designed opulence and spectacle of the main chamber, Westiron can't help but notice all the emphasis on "we get to have... others do not" that is part of the catechism for new recruits. The moral justification for good things being the just desserts for Razmir's faithful.... and the corollary that non-believes shouldn't get to have such comforts. He presses his lips together to hide a cynical smirk.
But none of this must be allowed to show. He adopts a parade-rest stance in answer to Krant's clear authoritarian style.
"No questions, sir!"
Tim/Bohrs nods, and mutters, "Yes'sir," to the giant man.
Razmir's cult almost the exact opposite of what it means to follow Cayden Cailean. He thinks to himself. Probably a good thing. If it were similar, I might start sliding into it before I realized what was happening.
Senrin listens carefully, not wanting to break any more unheard rules, at least for now. Later once he had learned more? maybe.
Once they were turned over to the big man Senrin carefully observes him. The man seemed as stupid as he was big.... Realizing that this, man was in charge of them was disappointing. But maybe this was just another part of the test. Senrin listens, waiting for the litany to end. When it finally does he waits for someone else to speak first. First was probably not good with 'Brother' Egarthis!
Tamin responds first, then Bohrs, no! Tim! beats him just as he was about to speak. Taking a quick breath he replies, "No questions Brother Egarthis. Your instruction was very clear."
Krant shoves the now-masked elf in the shoulder. It's not enough to hurt, but it definitely throws Senrin off-balance: a palpable demonstration of the priest's might. (i.e., a 29 vs your CMD) "Dummy. I'm Krant. Egarthis is my boss. Listen better."
You can't see Krant's face, of course, but you can tell that he is enjoying himself. He lets out a guttural laugh of sorts, more of a guffaw, then seems to lose his train of thought. After a few moments he points to a door to the door to the east. "You missed morning labor and you're no good to me until you eat. I'll start you on regular $#*! tomorrow. We got a good schedule for new acolytes, learn you quick." He begins leading the group back downstairs to the lower level before pausing and shoving Evlar in the shoulder, the same way he had done to Senrin. "Oh! None of you are allowed upstairs. That's only for heralds. If I catch you up there, I swear to Razmir I'll beat your face in. Got it?"
The group is led back down the stairs they had come up several minutes before. Instead of going back to the cells, the group turns right and begins walking down the worn rug they had passed earlier. Several doors leading to other rooms flank the long hallway. A simple carpet, stained and worn, runs down the center of the hall. At the west end is the symbol of Razmir, painted on the wall. Krant points to the first door on the right, which leads into a dining hall.
The dining hall contains two long, wooden tables, with chairs arrayed on either side. Scraps of the morning meal litter the floor and the smell of stale wine hangs heavy in the room. A green everburning torch provides light. Most of the people in the room right now are white-robed acolytes. Most have their masks off while they're eating. "Meals are at eight bells, noon, six bells, and ten bells," Krant says. "Eat up."
Based on what the group can see of what the other acolytes are eating, it looks like lunch is half a loaf of bread, some fatty cut of meat, a thin slice of cheese, and some sort of white stew. Krant waits a beat, scanning around the room, before he goes out the way he came and leaves the acolytes alone.
Teloda can still respond to the previous scene, but I wanted to keep us moving. What do you do?
Senrin grins inside of his mask. The oaf, Krant, believed him to be as dumb as he was. He'd just have to keep it low key so he didn't get kicked out for being too stupid!
Arriving at the dining hall he looks around. He is glad to see others with their mask off. Eating with it on could be a bit messy. He gets his serving and takes a place at a table. Since the other acolytes had masks off to eat he removes his, setting it on the table beside him. The meal was.... filling. He cuts some of the fat off of the meat before eating.
Tim finds that the food is not poisoned, but it's not particularly tasty either. As Senrin had found, there's more fat than meat and the meat is overcooked so that it has an unpleasant mouthfeel of tough, dry, and squishy. The bread is dry and crumbly--not stale, just lacking sufficient moisture. The cheese would be the best part if it was not so bland, but it at least offers a texture that masks the meat's. The stew is a potato stew that tastes like no seasonings have been added. The potatoes themselves are an odd mixture of too firm and too mushy, so that one can't anticipate which one will get with each bite.
Evlar frowns as he eats, but otherwise offers no commentary.
Russiet dons her garb quietly, and once dressed seems as silent as the grave. She nods as needed, but her mannerisms become reserved. Doing her best to give no tells via body language and quickly become as faceless as she can. When the group is shuffled off to a meal she will carefully pull her mask from her jaw and slip bites up into her mouth. She might have been acting pedantic about the rule to not remove your mask on the first floor, or there may have been more to it.
In any case, she was doing her best to embrace her role as a faceless acolyte.
Bluff: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
Perform (Untrained): 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (1) + 1 = 2
Not sure which check would be the better fit, so I just rolled both.
Oh no, I hope it's not perform.
Once he has most of the fat removed Senrin puts the meat and cheese into his mouth with a bit of bread. He stops almost immediately and considers spitting the tasteless mass back on the plate.... But, he has eaten worse and this doesn't taste rancid. Once he has chewed the mouthful sufficiently he washes it down with water. Looking at the remains on the plate he considers casting Prestidigitation to add flavor, but decides not to risk it. They hadn't been clear on the use of magic and he didn't want to risk it....
He continues the meal with small bites, ignoring the lack of flavor and paying more attention on the surroundings. Since many of the people are without masks he scans faces to assess age, race, and anything he can determine about background. It actually doesn't take much time and his plate is empty. If he has noticed what the others do with their plates he follows along, looking for whatever comes next.
I'm assuming that there was no conversation. ??
Conversation is up to you all.
The acolytes are almost universally young. They're mostly humans, though there a few half-orcs, and even fewer half-elves. Compared to outside the temple, Evlar seems to be one of the few with elven features. There are no other full elves, nor any dwarves, gnomes, or halflings. No one else in the room seems to be paying much attention to the five newcomers, and their conversations with each other are quiet.
Tamin eats. As a soldier, you learn to make do with what rations are available.... but these are definitely subpar rations, even by army standards. He doesn't try to hide the face he makes as he chews, nose scrunched.
"I'll bet Brother Krant eats better than this," he mutters to one of the acolytes they haven't met yet. "This looks to be another test of faith, eh? Listen, how long do they keep us eating this slop-- how many days you been here, then?"
Attempted diplomacy with one of the maskless acolytes: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (8) + 8 = 16
Hearing Tamin speaking to a close acolyte Senrin listens but does not react. He is curious about the answer but doesn't want to influence the kid. Diplomacy was never one of his areas of interest, or skill....
"Yup," a Garundi man with a shaved head responds to Tamin. "Krant's cooking is better than my mother's," he says, his words laced with obvious sarcasm. The other acolytes nearby snicker as well, though a couple look nervously towards the door. "But it's free."
After the snickering dies down, the man looks at Tamin and shakes his head. "Listen, new guy--Krant might be an idiot, but he's a vicious idiot. Best you learn that sooner than later. I've been here a couple months now, and the food's always been $#*!. But I know better than to say that to the bastard's face. Rumor has it before I joined that he once crushed an acolyte's throat one handed because the kid mocked him for being fat. So be careful what you say." He looks around, leans in, and adds, "And who you say it around."
Months. Tamin keeps his face impassive, though inwardly he wants to mutter a low curse. That's much longer than he's willing to perpetrate this cover, certainly; he and the others will have to be proactive in their investigation to get anywhere. He is mildly surprised that the 'faithful' are willing to put up with the bad fare for so long-- or that the cult doesn't see the value in throwing them some material rewards after months-- but the only visible response he makes to the revelation is a slow, thoughtful nod.
"Like the army, then," he deadpans. "The officers have ears. Understood. Thanks for the advice."
Tamin returns to eating, even if a particularly mushy bite of potato (rotten?) makes him nearly gag.
Hearing the Garundi man's answer to Tamin, Senrin has to take another bite of the nasty soup to cover his groan of disappointment. There was no way they could stay here for months! They needed answers much faster, a couple of weeks at the most. They needed to figure out a way to meet, privately, to discuss plans. And they needed to "prove" themselves so they'd get their gear back.
Then they needed to figure out a plan...
Tim/Bohrs talks, but not to anyone in particular. "I've heard tell that in Cheliax, they recruit prisoners to watch and inform on other prisoners in exchange for leniency. Of course, this isn't prison. I mean, we signed up for this, right? I imagine they're testing our resolve. They want to see if we'll break under a bit of pressure. A sword's not much good if it snaps in two on the first strike, eh?"