Kaerishiel examines those who have stepped forward. Your commander, who did not hesitate to go into battle himself, who was wounded and even captured (but quickly released by the feat of several fighters) knows each of you. His gaze, stern and calm, pierces like a skillful blow of an elven rapier.
You. You. You. You. He points his finger repeatedly at the four elves, clearly checking with his eyes that the ones he has chosen do not have serious injuries. Then he hesitates a little, examining the remaining ones, and finally points to the dwarf, which causes a slight whisper in the back rows. And you. He once again looks closely at each of the newly created squad of five warriors. Don't drink too much at the upcoming feast... There will be a conversation. But for now, everyone go rest.
He makes a gesture with his palm, releasing everyone…
In the evening of the same day, you are in the Crying Leaf - a small elven settlement located in Varisia's Mierani Forest, outside of Kyonin but very close to the local Aiudara (or "Elven Gate" as the non-elf savages call it). It was thanks to the hunters from this village that the capital learned about the dark elves in the Celwynvian. It was here that the Shin’Rakorath military base naturally appeared. And it is here that the feast is taking place today.
The trees are beautifully decorated with glowing lights of blue, red, yellow, green tones, turning the chosen edge into a fabulous forest. Beautiful, as if weightless and at the same time very organically looking among the greenery, carved tables are decorated with beautiful glasses, jugs of wine and exquisite plates, on which lies the most diverse and refined food. You know that the meal and drinks were delivered from Iadara and this is a very expensive dish.
Laughter is heard here and there. Yes, it is a holiday with bitterness, because each squad lost a lot of fighters. It is already difficult to say exactly how many, because more and more reinforcements were coming. But a lot. This is a holiday during which everyone wants to wash away the horror of what they saw. Creepy demons, the sight of which makes your blood run cold. Stunningly cruel dark relatives, the very meeting with whom was a shock to every elf who saw them. Scenes of the consequences of terrible torture and senseless violence, convinced that dying in battle was a thousand times better than being captured. A constant sense of threat, because this enemy will attack covertly, sneakily and stealthily…
And yet it's a holiday. The elves have a long memory, and they will not forget this secret war in a thousand years. But this same long memory teaches them to treat everything easier, to enjoy the moment, to live in the now. Because if you lose consciousness in hundreds of years of memories, which means losses and suffering too, if you allow memory to take power over reality… This is the end. No, the elf must live now, it is necessary to live laughing and dancing.
Elves drink, ride and play games, often seasoned with illusion magic to simulate a carefree hunt in the paradise gardens of the world they lost, or maybe it didn't exist and they just invented it. It doesn't matter. Everyone understands why the laughter is a little louder than usual, and no one blames anyone. Their few allies of other races somehow try to get involved in this elvish fun, and a sense of martial brotherhood and good wine help a lot in this.
The five of you get together at some point. You do not know what kind of task you are going to do and what to prepare for, but everyone has received instructions from the direct field commander to keep all your goods packed in bags. This can only mean one thing - Kaerishiel will call you either at the end of the feast, or even before it ends.
Please describe in any order:
how do you spend a couple of hours of the feast before you gather at one point;
how you look, behave, talk - in general, your image;
what you say and discuss with your new squad when you meet.*
* by the way, you can decide if any of you were already familiar with someone else from the new comrades ... There were hundreds of you here, so on the one hand, out of the corner of your eye, you saw each other with a probability of about 80 percent (except for the dwarf, everyone saw and discussed him), but did you serve you are in the same squad (let's say it was the usual dozens, that is, the units are not large) it's up to you.
Soryan Dirge eats sparingly, and stays more removed from most of his fellow survivors. Not only did he not lose any friends in the terrible war, he didn't really have any to begin with. How does one join in the camaraderie of mutual loss and relief when one feels significantly less loss and relief. 'But that's not the truth.' Soryan Dirge stays more removed from most of his fellow survivors because he knows, knows, that they saw him use his Flame Arc, an inheritance of his Infernal ancestry revealing itself almost as though he were a Tiefling like his mother and grandmother. Soryan Dirge knows that many of the Elves still must look upon him as though he should be an Infernal-Blooded Sorcerer rather than a scholarly Wizard. They see his scarlet hair as Hellfire and his violaceous eyes as from an ArchDevil or Malebranche. .... And Soryan Dirge wonders, too, whether Kaerishiel selected him for this mission because of his skill at infiltrating with bluff and guile and innuendo, his experience at pretending to be as evil as Demons of the Worldwound, monsters of Tanglebriar and horrors of Ustalov (where he first learned to bluff).
Yet it does not matter. Soryan Dirge is eager for this mission. True, his ancestor was violated by an Erinyes Mistress of Torture in Belial's 4th Circle of Hell and the Dirge line was born, a lamentation of Elven sorrow that, through this Wizard, will show there IS Light at the end of a tragedy!
Soryan Dirge looks around for Lord Villastir of Siavenian, the Divination Wizard who mistrusted him his whole childhood, but finally accepted him as a pupil and sponsored him into The Lantern Bearers to fight in this battle for Celwynvian. Soryan Dirge does not see him anywhere, did not see him during the battle either. But it was a massive, sprawling battle; his mentor could've been in a deeper area of the combat zone. Or, perhaps Soryan Dirge has indeed lost a friend like his fellow survivors. 'I hope I see him again, and that the Lord of Siavenian is well.'
Yet first, Soryan Dirge must look to the other Elves - and the Dwarf - chosen for this mission in The Darklands.
Colgrim was somewhat surprised that he was chosen, the elves certainly stuck together and while hid aid against the demons was welcomed, he pretty much sat alone at mealtimes. But that suited him just fine.
Unlike the vast number of people around him, Colgrim looked like a knot of muscles, scars and ink. His head was shaved on both sides, leaving a bright orange crest in the middle. His beard was reddish and braided and his bloodshot eyes glared out from bushy eyebrows. From the sides of his head to his shoulders, chest and back were tattoos of whorls and dwarvish runes.
Colgrim has come on a caravan coming as close as merchants were allowed to come to this place before walking the rest of the way. Pledging his hammer to the elves, he stood shoulder to shoulder with them as they fought against the demons and their thralls. Colgrim was first in and last out, never leaving until the rest of his squad was out.
Looking around and drinking his wine (no good ale made this place a nuisance) he noticed several of the elves that fought with him with the others. He didn't get very chatty with them but wondered what the future held.
Cirok Brokencrown is an elf. He is a bit of a strange looking elf to be certain, but, he is definitely an elf. This elf has long white hair, cold blue eyes that always seem to have a glint of humor in them and an easy laugh. Standing just over 6', Cirok is a bit short compared to most elves, but his tall personality more than compensates.
Dressed in the current fashion of the City at the Center of the World, Cirok Brokencrown does strike an elitist of sophistication and etiquette.
Smiling, toasting, celebrating (most likely) the loudest of those assembled, the pale elf slides along the throng. Depositing himself between the ridgid-looking elf and the Dwarf, Cirok claps both upon their respective shoulders.
Well hot Flaming pits of the Abyss! We are going on a field trip! Name's Cirok Brokencrown, Trapper, Hustler, and procurer of unsolicited personal effects.
His blue eyes shone with merriment.
What's your names?
The Rogue then quickly procures another round of drinks from the suddenly distracted female elf, sliding them along to his new companions.
...why, of course, I wouldn't dream of telling your husband, my dear.
Sleight of Hand (Dex) DC 20: 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (7) + 19 = 26
Bluff (Cha) to distract: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (16) + 12 = 28
Standing in the field under the trees Velath had some anxiety that he might not be picked; after all there was a Paladin of Iomedae for Erastls sake. So many qualified applicants. Kaerishiel walked out and first and foremost had pointed at the Red Haired Elf who looked to be a Wizard. Verath had never seen an Elf with Red Hair....then he had pointed his finger at The Priest . Verath was not surprised. The Priest looked quite competent.
Verath was the 3rd chosen and his heart pounded in his chest. He smiled and moved out of the masses where the other two had gone to stand. He nodded at them both and turned to see the Commander point at the shift Elf he had noticed pretty soon after arriving. Finally he was surprised that Kaerishiel pointed at the strange Dwarf carrying a longhammer and sporting an orange mohawk.
Once all 5 were present The Commander came and said "Don't drink too much at the upcoming feast... There will be a conversation. But for now, everyone go rest."
Verath had nodded and moved away from the others and gone to see his relatives one last time. He didn't know the mission exactly...but had heard rumors that they would be taking the fight to the enemy, in the Darklands. Rumors always had a way of changing though.
After a sad farewell...they had heard rumors too. He had left for the festival. It was truly beautiful. The food was amazing. He had stayed away from fermented beverages and stayed with normal juices. He was particularly fond of the Levenberry Juice that was so faintly sweet but smelled like a floral arrangement.
He had sat with refugees and been friendly but preoccupied. His mind going over the rumors and what they'd be told later. He found his gaze going over to each of the others. He'd need to get to know them. Soon he told himself and got another glass of the Levenberry Juice.
Soryan Dirge nods amicably at Cirok Brokencrown's friendly advances. He does not check to see if his scrolls or potions are still in his enchanted bag, confident that Kaerishiel would not have selected an Elf for this quest who would steal from his allies.
" I think I saw you in the battle using a Wand; are you a spellcaster? I am Soryan Dirge, Wizard and Scholar. I think I also saw you have an Enchanted Dagger that returns to your grasp after it strikes through the air at your enemies. Impressive."
Soryan Dirge briefly, almost as a defense mechanism, runs his fingers through his own scarlet hair. Because he has always been so embarrassed by it, so self conscious of it, he veritably shies away from the boisterous Dwarf and his prominent red mohawk -- not to mention his incredible Dwarven Longaxe. Yet he is immediately completely open and honest with his companions -- a mission such as this will require absolute trust and honesty.
"My hair and eyes are an inheritance from an Erinyes Devil in my ancestry; my mother and grandmother were Tieflings and I am the first of the line with, well, 'mostly pure' Elven blood. But I still show some Infernal traits." Soryan Dirge removes his delicate fingers from his silk hair and daintily runs his hand through a campfire. "I also have a tiny amount of fire resistance."
Looking around at his new companions he continues, his violaceous eyes twinkling in the firelight. "I think I was chosen for this quest not just because of my moral compass, scholarly knowledge and arcane power, but because I've learned to use my Fiendish heritage to lie and to manipulate those who are Evil. I can use my knowledge of Drow and Demon Lords to bluff our way into gaining vast amounts of information, with guile and cunning. Then our Barbarian and Paladin can send them to their justice."
Cirok bows low to the elven wizard. The Rogue's blue eyes alight with enjoyment.
Well mamet, Soryan Dirge! I am but a humble dabbler in the Arts. My Father wanted me to follow him in his arcane journey, but alas mine Tricks are manifested purely by Deception not talent.
The pale elf then lean conspiratorial-like to whisper in Soryan Dirge's ear.
Although, sometimes there is no difference, is there.
Colgrim Barrelhouse. comes a grunt from the dwarf, his face looks like it got punched by a hammer and his accent is horrible, but he is able to converse with everyone.
Colgrim nods as everyone tells their stories. Been hearing about the trouble this place has been having with demons. I actually thought about heading out to the Worldwound but how can someone fight a hole in the ground? SI came here to help drive the abyssal fiends off.
The feast goes on as usual. Pleasant music is playing, and for the first time in the past few months it is not a quiet, almost inaudible lonely strumming on a lute, but a loud and confident orchestra of several bards playing flutes and various stringed instruments. Some elves are dancing a merry dance in pairs. A couple dozen participate in a magic game where the "hunter", symbolizing Ketephys, strikes the fleeing and hiding players with magic arrows, but they do not fall dead, but turn into magical beasts for a short time. Transformation is an illusion, and a separate extremely important part of the game is to maintain the randomly obtained image of the animal as accurately as possible. Although now it doesn't seem as funny to shoot at your own comrades-in-arms as before, but still it's a traditional elven game that goes back thousands of years...
The elven woman next to you, who was serving wine and did not notice how it became a couple of glasses less after the dexterous movement of Cirok's hands, also accidentally hit by such an arrow. A moment and she turns into a charming piglet, which causes a burst of laughter. No, it's just impossible! I'm doing work here. I... but everyone is already chanting "Piggy, Piggy"! Then you hear a ringing girlish laugh, and then an imitation of grunting and the pig is amusingly zigzaggs away. Hey, this pig stole our wine! someone exclaims, but behind the mock indignation, only sincere fun is hidden.
Cuthalian, knowing they are to leave soon, attends the festivities in full plate armor and armed for battle. A soldier from the time he left home, he’s used to operating in armor and the situation demands it anyway. A bit odd for an elf, he is broad shouldered and heavily muscled so much so that there had been unfounded rumors of human ancestry. Contrary to many elves he has his chestnut brown hair cropped short, finding it easier to manage in the field. He sits at the table with the others who had been chosen and listens. Unlike some, he eats heartily and drinks lots of water. A soldier’s life has taught him to eat and sleep when you can, for you never know when you won’t be able to do either.
Although the armor is made of mithral he has had it blackened to cut down on reflection. His helmet he keeps near, resting on the bench next to him. His sword upon his back and his bow resting against the bench. He’s familiar with most of his new squad having seen them in passing but had not had the honor of introductions. When those start he reciprocates. Raising his hand to the group he says, ”Cuthalian Strongbow, soldier and priest of Ketephys. It is an honor to serve with you gentlemen.”
The pale elf raises a glass of red in greeting to each Colgrim Barrelhouse and Cuthalian Strongbow.
May fortune favor our friends and frustrate our foes!
Cirok seems to be enjoying himself.
Soryan Dirge finally brings himself to respond to Colgrim, despite the obvious difference in their ken, when the Dwarf mentions having almost gone to The Worldwound. "I spent twelve months in The WorldWound, a few years ago, after I had just learned how to master Dispel Magic and Deep Slumber spells. It was truly horrible, but we did manage some small successes."
He can't even bring himself to feign pleasure at the illusory trick of turning the drinks-hostess into a piggy. Not even pretending a half-smile. It's just not funny to him.
But he does finally join in for one of the games: Knowing the Ketephys-Hunting game, the Wizard uses a Major Image spell to create a frightening Treerazer illusion and allows all the players and frolickers in the hunting game to hit his illusion with arrows -- concentrating on making the faux-Treerazer react to the arrow-shots before the illusion 'dies' in spectacular fashion.
Though he obviously didn't hear Cuthalian's reference to worshipping Ketephys, Soryan Dirge seems to be immediately comfortable around the Elven-Sword wielder. He sips a glass of a fortified, dry red wine and comments on the Warpriest's armor. "That's an intelligent trick, darkening your beautiful Mithral armor like that to better blend into your surroundings." Looking at the muscular Elf he continues, "You remind me of a painting of Cernunnos in Avennara, do you worship The Stag Lord?"
”Ketephys actually though the Stag Lord is a noble ally. Who do you venerate? Cuthalian responds to Soryan.
Velath smiled at the game the crowd was playing and seemed to loosen up. He looked at his allies, the fellow chosen...and said. I'm Velath Tel'quessir a humble servant of Erastil. A hunter by trade a wespon for retribution by need. May The Stag God guide us to protect hearth and home.
"Cleric or Paladin Velath? You look more martial to my eyes. Paladin or war priest at the very least. With Erastil as a patron, I figure archer? With references to strong arcana, I guess Soryan is our wizard. Cirok, I'm not sure, bard perhaps, though I see no instrument on your person. A scout? And Colgrim, I've seen you in some of the battles, an anvil upon which to hammer our enemies, or maybe the hammer. A fine team. Other than our good dwarf, can anyone else see in pure darkness? I for one will require light."
[b]”Colgrim has the right of it, light will mark us. But, it may be our greatest weapon as well. It would seem that Velath and I are the field medics on this run. Velath, I hate to drag you away from the party but I think we need to requisition more healing supplies and The logisticians and I have some bad blood between us. Seems I’ve dressed them down a couple times (-1 Cha, no diplomacy).
@GM Celestial healing requires 20 levels to heal 10 pts of dmg while infernal healing can do it at first level. Can we have celestial healing mirror infernal healing?
@TheTeam: If the answer to the above question is yes then I think we need to grab 2 wands of celestial healing before departure if we can afford it, otherwise wands of cure light wounds. I can put 192 gold toward the purchase.
An elven woman (judging by the yellow-black motifs in her clothes, she is a priestess of Сalistria) approaches you and with a sly wink, informs you that «everything is ready». Without specifying what exactly is ready, she retreats into the darkness, making a gesture with her hand to follow her. A few heads turn in your wake when you take your belongings and leave, but most are too busy feasting and relaxing to pay attention to how someone comes and goes.
You follow the priestess and you understand a few things pretty quickly. First, you are not alone. Shin’Rakorath rangers glide like shadows in the dark. That's right, there are dangers in this forest besides drow. But apparently you are important since you, experienced warriors, are additionally guarded. The second is that you are moving back to Celwynvian. You would never confuse these paths and this direction from Crying Leaf.
The forest is quiet and calm, almost serene. The priestess clearly does not want to talk, and only puts her finger to her lips when/if you try to clarify what awaits you ahead. Her face lights up with a sly smile every time you start discussing it, but it doesn't mean anything, because the priestesses-prostitutes of the Savored Sting are able to hide their true emotions perfectly.
In the end, you return back to the ruins of the once beautiful city. Celwynvian. The ruins of the observatory, the temple of the Elven pantheon, the library and many beautiful mansions... disaster and time did not spare this beauty, and recently a lot of blood was shed here.
In a small square in front of the entrance to the city stands Kaerishiel, who came out to meet you. Dozen of Lantern Bearers are standing around him at a respectful distance. Several torches are stuck in the ground and the wrong shadows dance on the ground and trees when the breeze blows. The commander's face looks no less rigid than usual. His sharp facial features and long nose themselves resemble a bird of prey, and he, knowing about this feature, has a habit of decorating the shoulder pads of his armor with dark feathers and wearing a helmet without a visor in the shape of a hawk's head.
You also see a large tent on the outskirts of the city (on the same side as you, almost behind Kaerishiel's back), which was not there before. There are several elven warriors in beautiful masks standing guard at the entrance, and their equipment is not familiar to you. Leave us. The commander's bodyguards, like the priestess, leave without any questions. Only the guards at the entrance to the tent remain, who seem to have nothing to do with you.
I'll be brief, soldiers. Kaerishiel addresses you without wasting time, as he usually does. Cursed drow were here for a reason. They were doing research. This place carries a strong psychic echo of the Earthfall. They called it the Echo of Armageddon. It seems they are… He stumbles, and this happens to him extremely rarely… It seems they want to repeat that Armageddon. They're looking for a way to get a weapon that will grind us all to powder. I think that we, the true elves, are the target - he glances at the dwarf - but everyone will die. A catastrophe of this magnitude spares no one. He alternately looks into the eyes of each of you, making sure that the meaning of what was said has reached your consciousness. We can't know exactly how successful they are. They may have completely failed in their plan. But maybe not… We can only say for sure that they have invested a lot of resources in this study. Elite warriors, binded demons, expensive labs deep in the city... Even an alliance with that filthy dragon, damn it. Air attacks created a huge problem for your troops every time they attacked the city, you perfectly remember the streams of acid raining down from the clouds literally a second after the appearance of a formidable winged dark silhouette in the sky. Can you imagine how much it cost? It was a very serious approach. Their field commanders and the wizard general believed in their work. So we can't take any chances too. We need intelligence. We need spies underground. There. Kaerishiel looks at the chipped millennial stone of the square, through the cracks of which a weed grows thickly. He looks as if he is trying to drill through the earth's thickness and see the enemy and his plans right here and now. I need spies in the drow world. I'll send you straight to them.
He looks up at you again and this is the look of a bird of prey a second before it falls on the rabbit.
Soryan Dirge thinks about the walk to Celwynvian from Crying Leaf, staying quiet but taking the time to silently reveal his Wand of Cure Light Wounds to his allies. It's not much, but Cuthalian had mentioned our limited healing and Soryan Dirge wanted to show he had tried to do his part before the "Battle for Celwynvian." Luckily, he hadn't had to use any charges during the bloody conflict and it was fully enchanted.
Listening now to Kaerishiel explain the situation, Soryan Dirge swallows his complaint of not having enough time to discuss with his new allies their combined resources, to look for and remedy any gaping holes -- such as the Light requirements that Colgrim, Velath Te;'Quessir and Cuthalian were discussing back in Crying Leaf. But hearing Kaerishiel's description of a Drow attempt at another Armageddon Echo, another Earthfall aimed at Kyonin, urgency is obvious.
'Spies. ... That's why I'm included in this mission. It's exactly what I'm good at as a Wizard.'
He directly addresses Kaerishiel: "Before we go, do we yet have the time to address any of our tactics, strengths and weaknesses -- and perhaps trade out any magical items? Without a dedicated Healer, for example, do we have enough Wands or Potions of magical curatives? What about spells of Light and Disguise? Perhaps a Wand of Create Food and Water -- or Purify Food and Water? Or Delay Poison? May we take ten minutes to compare resources?"
We don't have much time. In order for your legend to work, we cannot delay the start of the mission. Anyway... you will have to improvise so much that you will not prepare for everything on the shore. Kaerishiel sighs* and for a couple of moments his voice becomes softer. I wouldn't worry too much about the light if I were you. His intonation than changes back to the commander's, as if he is on the parade ground. I selected the most experienced of those who volunteered, and of them the most suitable for each other. I'm sure your squad can handle everything.
Velath listened intently and something was poking him in the back of his mind....spies??? Sir. I understand striking at the enemy in their homeland to show that they arent out of reach...and even a recon for a later strike...but spying? How are we going to even begin to enter their city? They will spot us straight away. By Ole Deadeyes arrow, I and Cuthalian will even stand out like a beacon to their searches if they even think to look for good. Can you explain that with more detail? . He then looked at the Commander and he could tell he was nervous about this ...Is there something youd like to share with us? I trust you, but can tell you have some anxiety about this Commander
sense motive: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27
Cirok glances at Cuthalian's estimations of abilities present in the newly formed group. When she pronounces his talents, the Pale elf only shrugs and grins.
Yes to all the above in most respects. I am an elf of many tricks and talents.
Cirok does look down at his tool belt and back up at him.
I am the one who gets us into (and more importantly) and out of those places that we shouldn't be in.
At the debriefing by Kaerishiel, the Rogue only listens and smiles....
Sense Motive (Wis) DC 18: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (19) + 11 = 30
Colgrim strokes his beard as he listens to Kaerishiel. The talk of heading down and taking the fight to the drow sounds fine, and even doing some scouting is something he could do. But spying? Colgrim certainly isn't built for that. He kept his mouth shut and let the elves argue the details about this mission.
Utinu en lokirim! An elvish expletive that does not have an exact translation into other languages (but carries the meaning of something like «son of snakes») escapes from the mouth of Kaerishiel. The problem is not to share something with you, Velath. The problem is that I will have to share it.
There is a portal to their world. Aiudara, which we thought was not working. Now it leads somewhere very deep underground. Our wizards were able to figure out how to activate it. You will pass through it disguised as a drow. We will chase you through the portal. And attack. For real, so that it looks authentic. Surely there are sentinels on the other side, this is the law of military science. We will take the fight, you will retreat further. Your legend: your army is defeated, but you were able to break through the elf squads and escape "to your own". Some of your weapons and armor are the trophies. This is a normal practice among drow, you have seen quite a lot of looting and spoils of war in the hands and on the bodies of your enemies. I understand what your next question is. Your disguise. The answer is there. He points to the tent.
Everyone who passed the previous check understands that the reason for his «anxiety» or «displeasure» is exactly there, inside.
were we able to get the aforementioned wands or did our priestess show too soon?
Cirok simply chuckles at the mention of Aiudara, somewhere very deep underground, and We will chase you through the portal. And attack. For real, so that it looks authentic.
The Pale elf simply whispers
Two tickets to paradise one way, please.
Cirok enters the tent....
Unaware of any uncomfortable tone of voice or uncertainty, other than combat-specialists understandably concerned about intrigue, Soryan Dirge takes a few steps toward the tent, ready to enter unless he is stopped. 'I for one am *glad* that there is some absolute muscle coming; if it was just me and those like me, we could get squished at the first sign of confrontation!'
Nonetheless, the Wizard's immediate concern is just surviving the trip through the Aiudara -- 'If Kaerishiel is attacking to make our Darklands entrance look realistic, I may not survive the trip!'
....'But I sure do wonder, will Colgrim look like a stocky Drow with a big orang mohawk and beard?!'
Velath listens with only a bit of shock. Fight his own allies? That didn't sit well with him
He said softly what if we seriously hurt someone...or they seriously hurt one of us in this 'fight'? he said as he moved toward the tent that seemed the source of The Commanders irritation.
"Let's get this disguise over with. As for the fighting each other, I don't like it, but I understand." Cuthalian says and steps toward the tent.
You all approach the tent, but the elves unfamiliar to you in masks, giving them the appearance of emotionless, arrogant and aloof, are in no hurry to make way. Only when Kaerishiel approaches do they step aside. You go inside.
The first thing that is felt is the smell. Magic and incense have done everything possible to muffle the corpse stench, but it still remains a light background. In the far corner (the tent is quite large) there are many bodies covered with dark fabrics. If you look closely, you can understand that these are drow bodies, and they seem to be naked. Indeed, there are two piles of clothes to the right. One (larger) consists of bloodstained clothes and mostly cut off from the bodies. The other smaller one consists of fairly clean and neatly removed clothes. Perhaps it was even additionally refreshed with the help of magic, since it looks almost like new.
But the most interesting thing is in the center of the tent: five mattresses with drow bodies (naked, covered with a cloth) and five free mattresses (one next to each body). On the floor between each free mattress and the mattress with the drow there are arcane symbols drawn and lined up so that it becomes nauseating to look at it if you do it for too long.
In addition to several elves in similar haughtily-expressionless masks (some of them are guards, some seem to be assistants who undressed and shifted the drow), there is another elf without mask. His staff, decorated with some sprouts and more like a living tree branch, suggests that he is a druid. However, the abundance of humanoid skulls on his clothes makes you doubt it. He has blond hair and pale, gray-tinged skin. Even indoors, he wears a hood thrown over his head, and his face expresses a strange mixture of bitter regret and hard fun - emotions so incongruous that doubt immediately creeps into his mental health.
Well well well. And here you are. I've been waiting. The voice sounds strange. It is beautiful, like many elven voices, but there is something unhealthy about it in its trembling. Elf rests his staff on the floor, and he leans on it with both hands as if it is difficult for him to stand. Kaerishiel nods to him, he answers. It seems that they have known each other for a long time.
It's Giseil Voslil. Wizard. The author of your future disguise, says your commander.
You can say that, yes, yes. Disguise, hmmm!, the wizard echoes him, studying you with curiosity, regret and cruel mockery in his eyes at the same time.
Kaerishiel looks at him sternly and with restraint.
Cuthalian glances at the arcane symbols and then looks away uninterested in the magic. He just wanted to be done with the ordeal and move onto the mission. "Master wizard, what do you need us to do?"
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7
The smell reminds him of his studies in Ustalov; he never did like Necromancy.
Soryan Dirge pays little heed to those Elves who wear masks, both haughty and emotionless though they be: 'People wear masks in order to hide their true selves, so whatever facade is visible can not be relied upon as truth behind the masks.'
For a moment or two he looks closely at the Arcane runes and symbols from several feet away, curious to confirm what seems to be the obvious.
Spellcraft: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (13) + 16 = 29
Finally Soryan Dirge attempts eye contact with Giseil Voslil. 'I believe this Elf may be a White Necromancer; he certainly looks the textbook example of them, though I only heard of them in Ustalov when I was a young scholar.'
Assuming what is about to happen, Soryan Dirge looks at the five Drow bodies and mentally pictures himself as, um, "one of them" -- the one that looks the most scholarly and aristocratic. Likely the first. ....(The fifth one he pictures with an orange mohawk & beard, but doesn't allow himself to smile outwardly.)
Hoping to get at least a brief conversation with the arcane caster Kaerishiel named Giseil Voslil before *whatever* was about to happen, he nonetheless starts with his newly formed allies: "Well, Cuthalian," he turns to the Warpriest sympathetically, "Do you think you may want to pray to your Hero-God for his Blessing *prior* to being transformed into 'Number Four" there on the slab?!
"And Velath Tel'Quessir, how about your prayer to The Stag Lord before you 'become' um, perhaps "Number Three"? Again, Soryan Dirge is sympathetic. He's fine with taking the 'form' of "Body Number One" and figures Cirok Brokencrown will be assigned "Body Number Two" -- he can't imagine for a second Colgrim will be enthusiastic about "Number Five" (if indeed that's how they're assigned).
But Soryan Dirge trusts Kaerishiel and, more to the point, with the Drow of the Darklands preparing another Earthfall cataclysm, some of us will have to do the truly revolting work -- anathema though it be.
Cirok just stands patiently in front of the Masked elven sentries. The Pale elf smiles.
Tipping his hat to each, as Kaerishiel leads them into the tent, the Rogue immediately scans the interior; noting the corpses, the clothing, the mattresses, the shaman, the sour expressions on his teammates faces.
Cirok looks at Giseil Voslil.
Do we need to re-equip our new bodies, because I may take a bit.
Cirok then begins examining the proposed bodies for the one without any deformities that would restrict his doing his job(s).
Taking 10 Perception for a 33
(Giseil) Not bad not bad. You're a wizard, aren't you? You're on the right track. Just like you young man. The first was addressed to Soryan, the second to Cirok, who is actively examining the corpses (and notices that all five bodies were picked up without obvious signs of violence - it must have been a difficult job to find such a thing). Yes, Mr. Dwarf, it is a bit of a magical disguise. You will have to lie on the mattress with your back and not resist internally what will happen to you. The latter is addressed to Cuthalian.
(Kaerishiel) Explain it to them.
(Giseil) Oh, do you think it will be the transmigration of souls into these dead carcasses? No no. It will be a mixture of bodies! I will mix their dead flesh with your living flesh. The resulting mix will still be alive, but not distinguishable from this dark abominations. Your commander has set an interesting task. The magic of illusion can be broken by anyone with a strong enough will. Polymorph is already better, but true vision still pierces through it. In addition, usually there is a time limit. And any inquisitor will understand at a glance that there is a spark of goodness in you. So what is it? What has no time limit, what is not pierced by true vision, what can deceive magical sensors? Before that, wizard's voice sounds almost cheerful, but then it becomes serious. Curse. Here's the answer. I will curse you by making you a drow. The magic of the curse is the answer to all these tasks. Nothing is poison and nothing is medicine, it all depends on the doses, so the medics say. But this also applies to dark magic in my opinion.
(Kaerishiel) Your appearance will not be an exact copy of the dead drow. This is also a plus, in case you meet someone who knew the deceased. A lie would be too complicated.
(Giseil) And another good thing is that the curse can be removed, and you will become yourself again! His voice sounds cheerful again, almost playful. It'll be fine, though, if someone down there doesn't do it too soon. Be careful not to flirt too much there.
(Kaerishiel) It's not too late to give up. But this is the last chance. There will be no way back further.
(Giseil) He's right. Then only down. By the way, did I say that you will see in the dark? And get their other abilities? Fascinating, isn't it? If you are ready, lie down in any place. Specific bodies don't matter. I curse you, not them.
That's how this dialogue goes. Kaerishiel's voice sounds behind you, the wizard is standing in front of you and immediately behind him is the scene for the future terrible ritual and the beginning of the descent down.
Soryan Dirge does *Not* want to be the first to lie down on the blank slab next to "Drow Number One." Only six seconds ago his thoughts were very brave -- disguising oneself as a Drow. Now in an instant, it has all just become quite real. 'I really hate Necromancy.'
He attempts a last second gambit of procrastination, "Giseil Voslil, are you a 'White Necromancer'? I heard of such in Ustalov though I never met one." But it is a lame attempt at putting off the inevitable. And Soryan Dirge acquiesces quickly.
Getting more practical, he continues as he moves toward #1, "So, it is 100% "removable" -- you said. But, I assume not by something easy such as Remove Curse? What about the more powerful Break Enchantment or Greater Restoration? ... And, uh, if a spell equal to Break Enchantment, for example, removes this "Curse," but one of us needs a Break Enchantment spell to remove some other debilitating, Profane-Drow-Effect, will the spell remove the Curse and reveal us at the wrong time. ... What if a Drow becomes angry with us and tries to Polymorph one of us into a Drider?"
Whatever the answers and assurances, Soryan Dirge is intently questioning the answers. He listens for any change in tone-of-voice, any eye-averting or awkward blinking. Anything to think that Giseil Voslil is unsure of himself and/or that Kaerishiel hasn't thought of something all the way through, yet.
"One more thing," Soryan Dirge says as he finally lies down on 'empty-slab-#1' looking at the Drow scholar-looking-aristocrat-carrion, "Let's assume this Curse works, and let's assume that we enter the Darklands and undertake our quest without question, and then let's further assume that we succeed brilliantly -- learning of the Drow plots to create an Armageddon Echo and bring forth another Earthfall -- and let's assume we stop them and even survive.... And then we get back up to the surface.... How in the name of Her Sacred Sting are we to convince our true brothers and sisters that we are Elves and not Drow?!"
Listening to the explanation given by Giseil Voslil, Cirok (satisfied with his examinations) only nods his understanding. The Pale elf then lays down at the second one.
Raising his head to look at the group, he smiles
Jump in! The bodies are fine!
furious longhammer+1,rage,pa,reckless abandon,witch hunter: 1d20 + 17 ⇒ (7) + 17 = 242d6 + 24 ⇒ (6, 1) + 24 = 31
furious longhammer+1,rage,pa,reckless abandon,witch hunter: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (8) + 12 = 202d6 + 24 ⇒ (6, 6) + 24 = 36
Was what Colgrim imagined as he heard what was going to happen. He was quivering with barely surpressed rage. Magical disguises were at least practical but THIS?! Necromancy pure and simple. Colgrim would have splattered the elf's head, and to the abyss to the consenquences.
But he had given an oath to help these elves against the Demons. He swore to fight to the death against them to save this bloody forest, even if it ment this.
He locked eyes with the necromancer. Keep this in mind, if this cannot be undone then I will take your head and there won't be a big enough army to stop me.
He then wordlessly lay down next to one body
"Be thankful he is not putting us into their bodies." Cuthalian says as he moves to one and lays down beside it. "Let us hope this does not take too long. I relish not actual becoming like one of the enemy. Ketephys will forgive its necessity but it will take time for the mind to forget the betrayal."
As the So called Druid talked Verath listened...necromancy...one of the abominations to the faith of Erastil. He scowled and walked around the bodies especially the one Soryan had indicated was most likely him...a head shake and he looked up. And looked back at he who would be casting the curse and tried to see if there was anything behind his words. Then with a look at the Commander he said my instinct sir is to call upon Erastil to see if this 'ally' is evil or not before allowing this to occur. Do you vouch for him? then pausing he said do we have to disrobe? Or change into their clothes?
sense motive: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (10) + 13 = 23
You can check him for the presence of evil in his soul. Just like me. Kaerishiel responds to Verath. Yes, that's right. Take off your clothes now. As I understand it, you can slightly change in proportions, so we picked up all the possible clothes from the bodies of the drow, which could be brought into a decent look. You will choose the right one for yourself after the transformation. In any case, you will take your weapons, armor and other important things with you, but change all minor elements to what is accepted among the dark ones.
White, black, what's the difference! Let's just say I'm gray. Meanwhile, Giseil answers Soryan. Good questions, yes yes yes. Break Enchantment, Wish, Miracle and the like may well dispel the curse like any other curse, however... What happens if you need such magic during your mission? Well, you're going to be in trouble so just avoid it.
As for your return, I know who you are. Says Kaerishiel and his voice sounds strict and clear, unlike the voice of a magician who seems sad and at the same time mocks all of you. Just come back through the same portal, we will be waiting for you. I and all the sentries here will know that our agents are coming back through this gate.
I take your words seriously, dear warrior. If that happens, look for me in the Mordant Spire, in conclusion, Giseil answers Сolgrim.
Each of you lies down on the mattress, taking off your clothes, covering yourself with a dark blanket and closing your eyes. The wizard starts strange chants and you involuntarily slip into a dream... At some point, you start to feel sick, your whole being screams that something terrible is happening like death, but only much more terrible than death, something disgusting, but you can no longer wake up. Your body seems icy, dead, it seems to you that you have a monstrous fever, you are endlessly dizzy but you are unable to open your eyelids. You seem to be terribly sick, but the body is not capable of spasms. You just suffer and can't even open your eyes or move your little finger. And then what seems like an eternity of torture suddenly ends. You slowly open your eyes trying to focus on the world around you. The light of even torches becomes too bright, like a needle in an eyeball. You bring your hands to your face. Dark skin. You realize that the mattress under you is completely wet. Blood, very thick. And something else, viscous, you don't even want to think what. Turning your head, almost every one of you shudders. Where the drow's body was, there is now only a skeleton, from which rivulets of blood stretch across the floor to you, exactly repeating arcane patterns that you have seen before. You hear voices.
- You see, they're alive! I told you.
- They shouted, Giseil. You didn't warn me it would be like this.
- What else did you expect from my school of magic? Flowers?
Feeling yourself, feeling that you are all covered in mucus and blood, you find something else. An amulet? Yes, each of you now has an amulet around your neck.
'Most of my life Elves looked at me with mistrust, from my childhood in Lethaquel to my upbringings in Avennara and Siavennian. Sometimes, I think it was even worse for me than my mother and grandmother who were Tiefling-Elves -- I was almost disdained worse because I *'looked'* fully Elven; Queen Telandia's Court legally ruled I *'am'* fully Elven. It was if, by virtue of being born, that I was guilty of trying to Hide my Erinyes ancestor, wearing a "mask" of a True Elf.'
'Now my colleagues will understand me better, perhaps.'
Colgrim twitches and moans as the magic takes hold. He feels pain and tastes blood as his very body twists around like putty.
After it fades, Colgrim's eyes peel open and he feels his body drenched in blood and filth. Lifting his hands, he sees darkened skin and his body feels alien.
He may just kill that elf even if he regains his body, no one must go through this again.
Cirok opens his Red eyes to only shut them again.
Someone want to turn down that light?
Feeling his body being both repugnant and recovering from the ordeal, the Rogue stands to test this body as compared to his own.
After a minute of Acrobatic stunts and slight of Hand movements, he smiles.
Can a drow noble get a Prestidigitation.