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Unlikely Allies

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Unlikely Allies

Post  Penelope on Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:02 am

Settled for the evening at the Pathfinder's base camp, the four companions went about their well rehearsed business before it came time for actual sleep. Tonight however, there would be a watch. The five Charmed men had been retrieved earlier that day and with no sign of the dark-cloaked man or his stout companion, they'd decided to keep an eye on things here in case anyone else came up abducted.

Little if any noise alerted the others to her approach as the half orc entered the room carrying boar's hindquarter in her bloody hands. Kali had just returned from doing a little training with the raptor.

The stone room where they would take their ease for the evening was large enough to accommodate them all comfortably. Reegan was already on his watch at the perimeter having made it a habit to take the earliest shift. Corrigan was inside huddled in his bedroll. Squee, convinced the half elf was sleeping, leaped down from her shoulder and shuffled over to the rogue to look for ticks or fleas in his hair. Deklan, sitting upright on his cot was reading to lamplight while scratching notes into some sort of journal. Kali knew well that the wizard valued his privacy, so ensured that she never got close enough to him during those times to see exactly what he was writing or writing in. Surrounding the cot, like a thick green cord, Bwana'shika lay coiled in defense of the man.

That brought a smile to the hulking ranger's face. She wondered if he knew that she no longer needed to order the great serpent to guard him. Bwana'shika did so automatically because he honestly enjoyed Deklan's company! It did a half orc's heart good to see two such unlikely allies together.

Tss Tss

Kali's staccato call brought her spirit guide toward her. Slowly unwinding himself from his position, Bwana'shika rose up high on his belly to look her dead in the eye. "Peke yamie... Missed you," she growled lovingly as she allowed the serpent to taste the blood on her fingers. "I've brought you a snack."

With no further ado, she tossed the hindquarter in the air. A blur of green and the snake struck the meat, instinctively wrapping it in his deadly coils before swallowing it hoof and all.

Kali'chatu stalked over to her panther skin on which she rested most evenings. She didn't mind the filth but out of consideration for her companions, she'd been known to wash it every week or so.

Sitting on her haunches, she took long pull from her water skin. Deklan had been quiet these past few days. Quieter than normal that is, since the encounter with the raptors and though she never claimed to understand the thoughts of any human, let alone the cerebral wizard, she tentatively believed that she understood this.

"I...am sorry for de loss of your lions," Kali began abruptly, turning her golden eyes upon the man. "Eet vas not my vish dat dey vould be lost to you...even for a veek." She paused, bunching her thick, black eyebrows together as if in consideration. "De raptors you see, are impressive hunters. Impressive keellers. Eet ees how dey survive in de jungle.. Dey bear no malice tovord any creature." With a wave of her hand she disregarded the obvious. "But you know des thinks.

"I yet mourn de loss of Huwa'hiana to de great crocodile," she bowed her head slightly, "so I know of dis anger you feel. Demenye'akili [polyglot: Clever Girl] ees comink along vell een her training. I believe she could be an asset to us een our travels but because I so value your friendship Deklan, I vould be villing to release her back into de jungle eef it vould make you more comfortable. Vhat vould you vish for me to do?"

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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:05 pm

Deklan settled the book back down into his lap as he carefully paid attention to Kali. She was not particularly verbose, and when she did to choose to speak detailed attention was warranted.

"Ah yes, the lions. It was quite painful to see them torn apart like that, I had come to respect their power and I had come to see them as strong, valiant protectors. Much as I see Bwain'ashkia here (he patted the snake appreciatively) and as I came to see your tiger, after it saved me from the assassin. I know you have a great affinity for animals, but I have to point out that on more than one occasion in the past, the animals you have "adopted" in the past have not demonstrated a similar affinity for you. I am concerned that these raptors, already shown to be extremely fast and deadly, may break out of whatever hold you have on them and turn on us. I had the same fear with the tiger, and was wrong there. On the other hand, my belief was vindicated by the incidents with the rhino and the other large snake.

But Kali, I know your abilities have improved remarkably in such a short time, and I trust your judgement. No one, other than you yourself, has been harmed by one of these animals turning on us. I know the strength of your dedication to this group and I fully trust you to balance these risks with the benefits of having these powerful beasts assist us."

He paused, then went on to address the other notable interaction he had with Kali earlier.

"When you offered me the chance to take revenge upon the raptors, I know I rebuffed you quite strongly. To be fully honest, I impulsively found the idea quite appealing. However, it will be necessary to maintain discipline and control in order to wield the magics I am coming into. Some of the new magics I am learning are powerful...some say they are dark magics. I believe they are not naturally so, but that the lure of power entices many to misuse these, and are corrupted by the power. That must be avoided, and to avoid corruption I must master and control my baser urges. That is why I seemed to take offense at your offer. I realize that may be the way of the jungle, but I must completely transcend those instincts to avoid falling into corruption."
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Kali'chatu

Post  Penelope on Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:30 pm

Her visage may have remained stoic, but Kali was quite surprised at Deklan's honest and open remarks.

It was some time ago that she'd first seen him take a swatch of skin from the cannibal witch's behind. That had surprised her as well! Not that she was bothered by it of course, its just that someone from 'civilized' society rarely found such measures to be acceptable. Maybe it was the promise of gold. Such a thing could change nearly anyones mentality but that didn't seem to be the wizard's driving interest.

While the half-orc's knowledge of magic was limited to say the least, she couldn't help but gradually notice other spells he would cast with various bodily components. Blood, hair, bits of flesh...all seemed to serve either to find someone or know something that they knew. She was curious what these new...more powerful magics would cost!

"I took no offense at your refusal," Kali offered after a painfully long pause to study the man before her. "Eet ees good dat you can speak your mind to me. Eet helps me to understand your heart and spirit...de tinks dat motivate you.

"You say you are learning dees new dark magics. I vould be interested to know vhy you vould risk your corruption to acquire dees powerful secrets?" There was no judgement in her voice or gaze, just simple curiosity. "Do you believe dey vill be useful here? Vill dey help keep us safe?

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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:56 pm

"I have come to realize there is no inherent evil in the spells I acquired from the witch doctor. My order had strongly discouraged the use of such spells, but is there really any difference between burning someone to death with magical fire versus extracting their life force? I hardly think it matters to the victim, in the end."

"No, the corruption I was referring to is the corruption anyone must face when power is achieved. The lure to abuse power and fall to corruption is always present. Weaker men will succumb and use their power indiscriminately and wantonly, abandoning whatever beliefs or codes they used to hold dear if those proscriptions become inconvenient. I must use these new powers in accordance with the code I have always lived with.

Yet, I may began to fool myself in this as well, without strict vigilance. For example, I might have taken you up on your offer to let me destroy the raptor by convincing myself it was warranted, the beast could be a continuing threat and should be put down. Yet I would probably take some measure of satisfaction by doing so, and take the first step down a dark path. These are the things I think about every day. It is easy to give in to your base desires, but the truly strong surpass them, and that is what I intend to do."

He continued "Much as you strive to to safeguard the our group by adding to your animal collection (he grins), I am always trying to acquire additional magic that might assist us when we are being attacked. I find the necromantic arts very useful in this, yet I have had no training in that school, and I find the spells particularly difficult to use. They are so useful, though, that I do spend a great deal of effort memorizing several every morning. "

Now Kali had broached the subject, he asked something he had been wondering about for a time: "I was wondering something about your collection. I of course am well aware of your affinity for serpents of all types. I have seen you attempt to befriend reptiles, monkeys, rhinos, and tigers. Are there any kinds of animals you do not have an affinity for?"
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Kali'chatu

Post  Penelope on Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:56 pm

"Canines." Kali's lip curled up at the word as she answered without hesitation. "For some reason I've never had much use for dem. Dey don't enjoy my company and I don't enjoy deirs. Eet ees a mutual deeslike."

She motioned to Big Dog who was standing in the corner, panting heavily while he mindlessly stared at the wall, tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth. The half orc just shrugged. "Perhaps he ees an unfair example of the breed."

Shifting to a cross-legged position on the black pelt, Kali sat easily and called Squee over from his meal of scalp bugs to give him something more substantial to eat. The little monkey emitted a joyful squeal when she produced the ripe mango and snatched it greedily in both hands.

"I used to travel vith a panther after I vas sent avay from my tribe." The vertical slits in her eyes narrowed as she began to reminisce. "Kivuli... De Shade, I called her. A beautiful animal and a beautiful spirit. She and I lived and hunted together for two years before she vas taken by a large crocodile een da Buunta Flow, east of Nantambu." She ran large, weathered hands through the black fur upon which she sat. "I took her back, and een my rage and sorrow I took de crocodile's life een payment."

Squee chawed noisily on the fruit while rivulets of orange juice ran down into the half orc's lap. Kali's lips curled up slightly and she scratched the back of his neck as he ate.

"De similarity of Huwa'hiana's demise vas...unfortunate. Eet brought back much pain," she admitted, patting her metal-plated chest with her palm.

"Have you suffered such loss, Deklan? Vhat of your tribe...your family? Ve have been gone a long time now. You must mees dem, do you not?"

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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:55 pm

"No, it has not been nearly long enough for me to miss anyone. My parents passed away years ago, and while the members of my order are trusted confidants, I don't consider them family. We spent several years in hiding, interacting only with each other, and I think we were all ready for a long, extended break. While I owe them for my training and would certainly go back to provide assistance should aid be needed, I have no desire to permanently return, and I believe all of the others who went out when I did feel the same. This is what we were trained to do, and I am quite happy to be doing it. Not to mention, (he chuckled) that I think I will have the most interesting findings to report when I do return!"

He continued on, more seriously. "No, in terms of attachments, I would have to say my greatest loyalty is to the three of you- fighting for my safety- no, fighting for each other! is the one precept that I have come to realize takes precedence over my original mission. I know we all have embraced the risks and have different reasons for doing what we are doing here, but if it came down to a stark and unavoidable choice between continuing my mission and your well-being (gesturing towards all of them) I would choose the latter. There will always be more secrets to discover, but one cannot abandon trusted comrades...they are MUCH harder to come by." He then looks down and chuckles, slightly uncomfortable with verbalizing what some could consider a point of weakness.
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Kali'chatu

Post  Penelope on Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:21 am

Kali's smile curled up over her tusks at that and she reached over to clap Deklan (gently) on the shoulder. "I have discovered a similar visdom in my own travels. I am glad to see dat ve agree een dis!"

Disappointment contorted a little monkey face after Squee finished the last morsel of mango. Only the pit was left now... Holding it like some sort of enormous ice cream cone, he proceeded to lick off any of the sweet juice that remained.

"Eef dis ees too private a qvestion, I understand," the half orc began again, more carefully this time. "You say dat your...order, spent much time een hidink? Vhy deed you feel de need to hide? Deed somevon vish to harm you and de other members?

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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Mon Jun 27, 2011 10:29 am

"We have come to realize that keeping secrets engenders much suspicion. Though we have never caused harm to any, our cloistered nature brought the attention of a group of religious zealots, who attempted to wipe us out. Though we had few casualties, their actions resulted in all of their deaths. Incidentally, that is why we adopted a "prohibition" on necromantic magics, which I now see was an overreaction."

"To avoid a repeat of that dark event, we stayed hidden, not revealing our existence to the neighboring communities we settled by. Though to my knowledge we are not being hunted, it cannot hurt to take these precautions."

Changing the topic away from him, he continued: "Speaking of our pasts, I am well aware you have a mistrust of the Sargavian government. I know you do not approve of the way they treat the Mwangi natives. Do you have an personal experience with them that would lead to your distrust? Do you think you will be able to work with them to the extent that our brokered agreement calls for?"
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Kali'chatu

Post  Penelope on Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:31 am

"I have geeven my vord dat I vill uphold dees agreement," Kali's voice rumbled in the back of her throat, "and dat ees enough. Dees you may trust."

Finished with his mango pit for the moment, Squee picked the slimy stone up in his two tiny hands, waddled over to Corrigan and tucked it carefully into his bedroll for safe keeping.

"As to de Sargavian government..." The burly half-orc watched the little monkey's hijinks but thoughts of the past and concern for the future kept her mood sober. "Aside from der obvious prejudice against my people, de cruel treatment of said 'savages' and der desperate need for gold at de expense of de indigionous tribes of de Mwangi, no...I take no issue vith dem personally. Eet is government een general dat I deestrust. I have seen vhat dey do een de name of 'progress'.

"But I know vhat Jask has told me. Dat he and his high ranking ally vithin de government are vorking to change de mindset of der people and trying to integrate the natives as eqvals. I trusted Jask vith my life on Smuggler's Sheev. I vill trust him in dis now," she nodded.

"I do worry about vhat Sarvaga might do eef dey vere to take control over de area, but I believe dat dis agreement could be de best hope for de tribe of de Sacred Serpent and any other local Zenj. Ve have made allies of dis tribe as have de Pathfinders so I vill expect dat de government...eef dey do not ally demselves vith dis tribe directly, vill at least leave dem alone."

Kali laid down and stretched out over her makeshift fur bedding. Grasping the hilt of her falcion, she pulled the recently Reegan-enchanted weapon over her chest. Just in case... She was fairly sure the vrykolakas was dead for good but one could never be too careful considering the enemies they'd made in Saventh Yhi. Not the least of which were the Red Mantis!

"I intend to stay in de city for dis reason," she continued. "I vant to help ensure dat my people are treated fairly... Dis ees der home. Dey vill not be driven from it."

The ranger could almost feel Deklan's ill-ease with her comments and she sought to put his fears to rest. "Do not vorry, my friend," she smiled a smile that upon anyone else's face would've been pleasant. "I do not seek to make an enemy of de Sargavian governement. Qvite de opposite. Eef ve develop a good vorking relationship vith dem, den I vill be een a better position to aid my people. An...amassador of sorts, I tink.

"Eet ees, I believe, de reason de spirits have called me here."

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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:12 pm

It had been a number of days since I had the one-on-one open conversation with Kali, and recent events made it clear that another such conversation was direly needed. It was fairly easy to see that Reegan and Kali's snake were behaving very differently since the explosion of Divine fire within the chamber, as was Corrigan (although his prior tendencies masked his condition for a while longer). As it appeared only a minority of the group was in their right minds, this presented a considerable obstacle to the continued exploration of the city, and more importantly, for the well-being of the members of the group. It was already clear the paranoia would make working as an effective unit very difficult, if not impossible.

I didn't want to feed any paranoid delusions with the appearance of secretive conspiring, so I decided to speak to Kali alone while she was tending to her raptor. On a few occasions I had attempted to assist her with the training, and that was virtually the only times she and I were alone outside the presence of Reegan and Corrigan. Even if they did witness our meeting it was not going to be unprecedented.

After crafting with Reegan for four hours (during which time I was painfully aware he watched me out of the corners of his eyes) I told him I was done for the night and headed out- the same precedent I had established the night before, when Reegan and I had been good naturedly chatting in between our bouts of concentration (in stark contrast to this night, when awkward silence reigned). Instead of heading to our sleeping chamber, I instead diverted to where I expected Kali might be- tending to her raptor. I believed Corrigan was asleep and Reegan consumed with his activities, and I was alert to any magical eavesdropping from Reegan (who knows what devices he may have invented) while I hoped Kali would be aware if Corrigan attempted to approach.

"Kali." The half orc turned, though she was probably already aware that he was there. "I'm afraid this is one one of those rare instances where I am not sure how to proceed." He sighed, and chuckled ruefully.
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Kali'chatu

Post  Penelope on Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:26 pm

"You speak of our friends..." She stated the obvious and nodded, keeping a wary eye on Demenye'akili. The dappled green raptor clawed at the ground in displeasure after being instructed not to kill the suckling boar that Kali tied to a stake to aid in training.

Whatever happened down there in the dungeon that day had affected not only Reegan and Corrigan, but Bwana'shika too. The half orc was painfully aware that her spirit guide was now unwilling to continue in that role. He would follow...even now the enormous constrictor lurked amid the epiphytes which grew like a blanket around a gigantic kapok tree nearby, the roots of which were slowly swallowing the ruin of a small stone building on the very edge of the Radiant Muse's territory. Kali knew she could no longer rely on the beast but she was loathe to let him return to the jungle just yet. Something had gone very wrong! There had to be a way to reverse it...whatever it was... For now though, she would have to focus even more attention on the training of the raptor.

With a sharp barking sound, she allowed Clever Girl to attack the helpless piglet and enjoy her meal as the ranger focused her attention instead on Deklan.

"At first I thought eet must be a magical affliction but vhen you said you could see none of dees magics?" Kali's huge shoulders slumped in distress. "Vell...I do not know vhat can be done to help dem. I deesliked having to threaten mtoto'nyuni een order to have him follow us today. I vish not to become dat vhich others perceive my kind to be but eet needed to be done for his own safety."

The half orc looked down (literally not figuratively) at her more sociable and scholarly companion. "I have seen how your lips can drip vords more sveet den jungle honey (figuratively not literally) so eet may be better for you to speak vith dem before I must. Dey don't even know anytink ees wrong... Bwana'shika's behavior confirms eet. Eef dey can be convinced dat somethink happened to dem een dat strange room vith de burning murals den maybe dey vill be more villing to continue on vith us."


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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Fri Aug 05, 2011 5:15 pm

Deklan pointedly turned his back to the scene of carnage unfolding a few yards away. "I thank you for your kind complements. However, I think my entreaties will be as successful as they were when I tried to convince those enchanted Pathfinders that something was wrong. If a mind is dedicated to a belief, whether due to magical influence or natural causes, it can go to extraordinary lengths to justify it. I can try to persuade, but I think it would be best if I did not push too hard, as I may end up feeding their paranoia. I think your less subtle encouragement may do the same."

He continued: "Sometimes the mind can be damaged in a way that cannot be seen, but it can heal itself over time just as a damaged body can. We can wait to see if they become better or worse over time. We may find some way to get them to accompany us without raising their unwarranted suspicions. Alternately, we can seek aid to see if there are spells which can heal their minds. That would be a province of divine magic, which I am unfamiliar with. Since we saw it would take the Pathfinders over three weeks to obtain the spell necessary to heal that half elf, we could be waiting for some time...if such a spell to heal a broken mind even exists. "

"There is another way which may prove quicker. I can summon a being from another plane who may have the ability to heal our friend's minds. If I chose carefully, and selected a being such as an angel or archon, then the danger from summoning such a powerful being would be lessened. We would still likely have to bargain with it in order to obtain it's assistance, and what might be demanded is hard to say."

He finished up:"As a last resort I have some enchantment spells which I believe could influence or even outright control them. I loathe to use these things as I view the deprivation of free will as a violation, when done to those who have established a bond of trust as we have. I would only consider this if their paranoia put their lives in direct peril."

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Kali'chatu

Post  Penelope on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:30 pm

The half orc ground her teeth together in frustration. Completely useless in this situation, it enraged her that there was no clear culprit to blame for the condition of her friends, nor was there even a clear solution! For all her strength and skill at arms Kali was helpless to aid them. Only adding to her irritation, she was unable to even commune with her totem spirit as he wouldn't come within a dozen feet of her...

"Vhen vill you be able to attempt dis summonink," the ranger asked in a deep rumbling voice, "and vhat can I do to help?"


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Re: Unlikely Allies

Post  Magyc on Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:19 pm

Deklan was surprised by her immediate embrace of that option. "I will have to do some research regarding which kinds of beings are both able to aid us, and willing to. I will also have to procure some additional supplies, especially if I have to summon a being whose response might be unpredictable. Your assistance may be needed in completing our end of whatever bargain I can strike."
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