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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:53 am

Like a angry hound finally let off his leash, Tirtero raged toward the molydeus slashing with the iron blade for all he was worth. Finally, something he could hit! He may not have been the one to take vengeance against the party responsible for all the death and destruction, but this demon would suffice... Especially if he could save the lives of his companions in the process! Those that were left anyway...

With or without magical weapons, demons were notoriously difficult to hit. The molydeus far more so! Thick hides, unholy armor, unnatural speeds and pure resistances could make any encounter with lower planer creatures a frightening thing, but thankfully Tirtero was no novice to combat and the dull iron blade found its mark as he stabbed under the thing's arm. A gout of stinking blood issued from the wound and the molydeus roared in fury!

Ashara, thankful for the distraction that the man provided, scrambled backwards toward her floating husband as she fumbled for a vial of holy water. One of the human thralls had come out of his dominated state and still appearing quite dazed, stood stupefied by the hulking demon.

"Welcome back," she sputtered, specks of blood staining her lips. "If you have iron weapons or holy water, better use them now or that thing might just kill us all!"

That was all the introduction she could manage at the time. Fight now. Pleasantries later.

The priestess hurled the vial at the back of the molydeus where it shattered against him, sizzling against its abyssal flesh like acid.

Jorelon rushed into combat now as well, Ashara's cold iron mace in hand. Again and again the weapon glanced off the demon harmlessly, but the priest courageously held his ground and kept up all the pressure he could in the circumstances. He only hoped it would be enough...

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:54 am

Adaldo narrowed his eyes as he stared down the length of the arrow. Accuracy was just as important as speed here, probably more so. Though Tirtero fought like lion, the Gargoyles had taken a toll on the ever-vigiliant doorstop. Breathing softly he let fly, only to see one fly harmlessly past the snake head, and the other glance off the demonic hide.

"Call the retreat if you want!" he called to the others, "I'll hold it off if I can!"

"Retreat..." Came the growl from the canine head, "There will be no escape, for this indignity..." The molydeus swiped down at the annoying human and swatted Tirtero away from him with the axe. "You all die now..."

"You first demon spawn!" came the newest voice in the party. Now free from the mindless rote actions, the paladin had snapped free the arrow pinning his leg, even with a pronounced limp, the holy warrior charged the Demon. The gleaming silver sword, holy no doubt, slammed hard into the Molydeus. The paladin was already initiating a shield bash before he realized his holy weapon, which had undoubtably slain more evil than most could imagine, had failed him utterly. While specialized in destroying evil... This knight had never faced Molydeus before... and had never done so in a land without magic. Elric would have felt bad for the look of utter betrayal the paladin gave his sword.... if he'd had the time.

The half-elf was in a precarious situation himself at the moment. He only had seconds to decide his next action, but he was torn between the firing of the magic missles from the gauntlet, or trying to dispel the levitation effect that dangled him helplessly. On one hand, he wasn't sure if the demon could be hurt with magic.... on the other, he wasn't sure if the levitation was magic or poison! Finally he made the call and willed any magic effects on him to be no more. Unceremoniously he collapsed to the ground.

Poison or not... apparently there was some magic involved. Phaerimm were the most powerful mages alive.... but the Arm of Valor was made when High magic was prevalent... and probably by more than one mage... Suddenly he wondered if the Arm of Valor, could dispel the Arm or Valor?! Knowledge of it's power still flooded through him... so apparently not. Unless it was aimed directly AT the artifact?? As he climbed unsteadily to his feet he wondered exactly how much blood he'd lost this time...

Time to get back in the fight.
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:57 am

Belen looked around in confusion. He didn't know where he was. He didn't know how he got there, and he didn't know why this half-dead woman thought that he was going to have any part of fighting that demon!

Forget it!

The wounded adventurer saw his opportunity when the paladin attacked the monster, and he bolted for the other side of the hallway. He wasn't sure where he was going exactly, but any place had to be better than being trapped in here with that! There was a glimmer of recognition as he ran past the raging Tirtero, but it was quickly dismissed as he raced away to save his own skin.

Tirtero was nearly beyond rational thought at this point. All the deaths of friends and loved ones... All the evil in this place... Something just snapped. The warrior threw himself back into the fray, hacking at the leg of the molydeus which Elric had wounded days before, and scoring wicked gashes with each stroke of iron.

*****

The priest, frustrated by his inability to aid his friends as much as he wished, also saw an opportunity when the paladin jumped into combat. The iron mace would certainly be more effective in his hands!

"It's a dead magic zone," Jorelon called to the knight of the Dawn, as he looked with betrayal upon his blade, "and magic won't work against that anyway! Use this!"

Tossing the unimpressive, dull grey mace toward the man, he reached into his satchel for a vial of holy water. He might not have cold iron, but he had something just as good. Hitting the beast was the trick... At least he wasn't the only one having trouble he thought, as he saw Ashara's vial glance off the molydeus' armor and shatter against the stone floor.

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:59 am

Sir Wilhelm grabbed the new weapon with a new fervor. it had been years since he'd used such a weapon, but he was a pragmatic sort. If the sword didn't work, use what would.

He slammed the mace into the beast's side with all his might and felt a rewarding crack as something inside the beast broke. Even more rewarding, in it's own way, was gaining the attention of the serpent head. Any attack on him was not on the others, after all.

Unfortunately for Tirtero, while the paladin was attacking with gusto, he wasn't being the annoyance that the love-lost fighter was. While Wilhelm felt the snake's fangs dig deep into him, he saw the canine head rip into his rescuer, and with fangs dripping blood, glance around for a new target.

"TIRTERO!!!" Elric heard the archer scream as he loosed two more arrows at the demon. The half-elf looked just in time to see the monstrous axe descend almost casually. The cold iron sword clattered to the ground.

The wounded half-elf raced to his fallen companion, narrowly ducking the demon's back swing. Sliding across the floor he felt the familiar grip of the shared sword, and swung as he spun to his feet. The blade entered his side with an awful hissing sound, just as one of Adaldo's arrows plunged deep into the creatures chest.

Whether or not it hit the monster's heart was any one's guess. Elric doubted even an elf could hit a target that small...

The molydeus thrashed and flailed, and suddenly collapsed in front of them. The wounds from the iron weapons seemed to burn and blacken, as if the creature in front of them was filled with the evil flames of it's home. Such may have been the case, for the mounds of muscle and ichor in front of them slowly turned to embers and vanished before their eyes. It's cold dead eyes still burning with hatred was the last to go and would haunt the survivors for years to come.

Elric's heart pounded in his chest and he could barely breathe. Turning to see the remnants of the others it was even worse. Ashara... What the Alhoon's tentacle's had done to her... Not even counting the beatings of the Paladin, demon, and anything else he'd been to preoccupied to notice at the time.

Ignoring the others he quickly stumbled to her side and wrapped his arms gently around her. "Are you ok... " He whispered. "Do you think it's over?"
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:03 am

Ashara saw the concern in his eyes and realized how frightful she must look after the nearly successful brain-munching attempt of the alhoon. With a weak sigh, she hid the ruined side of her head against her husband's chest, stealing a moment of solace amidst the agony and death around them.

Her eye scanned the narrow field of battle and saw various types of corpses strewn about, some she was glad to see...others she wasn't. One of the enthralled fighters hadn't survived his wounds and the morninglord was lying in a very large pool of his own blood. He'd find his peace in the Halls.

"Tirtero's still breathing!" Jorelon shouted in relief as he fell upon the man and hastily started bandaging his wounds, the paladin quickly joined him to assist while continually asking questions about the hows and whys and wheres of the situation. The priestess felt pity for the man. What had he been forced to do under the phaerimm's domination? Did he remember any of it? Would he go down the same road of guilt she'd journeyed for months after being freed from Cyric's Curse? She hoped he'd be able to pull himself from the mire more quickly than she did. She hoped he'd have someone at his side to show him the truth. Perhaps a visit to the Dawnstone would help...

"I hope the fighting is over," she gurgled a response through her torn mouth, after seeing that Tirtero was being well taking care of. "I...I don't know how much more we can take. We should check the room the phaerimm came out of... We should do something about that machine or at least report it to the Dawnspire so they can send a mage or two out here to look at it..."

Ashara reluctantly pulled away to assess the damage to Elric's body. "There's a pressing matter though. You've taken multiple bites from the molydeus. Tirtero has. He has," she said, motioning to the paladin, "and I've taken at least two myself... We could be on borrowed time and I can't use my magic down here to tell whether the poison has taken hold or n--"

She gasped suddenly and held him at arms length as she examined the large puncture mark in the half-elf's midsection. "By the gods, did it stick you, Love? Did you get hit with the thorn?"

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:05 am

He nodded weakly. The egg concerned him. The screams of dying elves flooded through his mind as he thought of the War to free his past home. It was a terrible way to die... Though Ashara was right. If the molydeus' poison had taken hold then he'd not have to worry about that...

"One last shot before it died... " He lamented as he felt around the wound with a wince. He didn't feel anything there... But he wasn't sure what he should feel.

"I'd suggest checking out that room.... The machine I don't really want to deal with right now... Not in the conditions we're in. The room however... I'd hate to come all this way without seeing what there was to see."

He grimaced again, as Ashara's hands started looking over his the barb wound. With a groan he managed the question in as light a tone as he could manage, "What's the prognosis? Am I a mommy?"
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:06 am

"That would be very hard to explain to my parents..." In any other circumstance, she would've laughed at the thought of sitting them down to tell them that, but Ashara could only look up at Elric apologetically.

"I'm going to have to do a more thorough check for that egg, you know. If we leave, and the regenerative heal kicks in, then I'll have to cut you open later....I'd rather not do that when the hole is here now.

"Just...just hold on to me."

She wished she could say this was the first time she'd done this. Kaber was the first member of the Champions to "be a mommy" and she had to take the egg out right there in the field since magical healing would do nothing expel the new life. That's where it paid to be a careful doctor. Magic was a nice thing to have in a pinch, but one shouldn't rely on it as a crutch, just as Eldorath always used to say. You had to know what to do when magic wasn't available. Consequently it wasn't the first time she'd had her hands inside the minotaur either, and though he was conscious for it this time, he took it stoically. Anything was better than having that thing eat its way out of you...

Carefully as she could, Ashara probed the injection site for the hard, little lump of an egg. After a few moments of searching and finding none, she breathed a sigh of relief. "I think you got lucky there, my dear. I feel nothing. Though...I'll do a magical search when we get back to the tower to be sure.

"But we should get moving... Let's check out this room in front of us and then go back up top. I have the spells to stall the molydeus poison if necessary, but obviously they're not going to work down here, and I can't even tell if any of us are infected."

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:13 am

"Yeah... about the regeneration...." He said as he looked towards the beckoning door. "I may have dispelled that along with the levitation... I'm not sure."

"Are me going on?" Jorelon interrupted. "I'm not sure Tirtero can be moved around too much right now... I mean, we'll have to carry him out of here... but I don't think we should be carrying him more than we have to."

"I'll watch him," Sir Wilhelm spoke solemnly. "If you need my help, call... Otherwise, I'll protect the wounded."

"We're all wounded..." Elric acknowledged bitterly. "Yourself included." Seeing no better solution he simply nodded and addressed the others. "Let's finish and go home. If there's any more trouble... Get out. Run. Flee. Get Reinforcements... However you want to phrase it.

"I truly believe that the Phaerimm was the cause of the trouble... but who knows what other beasts or traps he has set up..." He glanced at the fallen morninglord, unknown warrior and the last place he'd seen Mairlen standing.

"We've lost enough down here... The rest should just be clean up." He hooked an arm through Ashara's before starting toward the door. The Arm of Valor had a dimension door that he could use. A minor teleport, good only for the wearer and up to 250 pounds of living person he carried. If everything fell apart around them... he wasn't letting her get too far away this time...

He flinched as he touched the cold handle of the door. No traps.. no spells triggered... So far so good.

"Everyone ready?"
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:09 am

"Yeah... Let's finish this." Ashara's fingers found their familiar grips on her husband's arm and on Dawnspeaker's haft.

How desperately she prayed that the fighting was over! Every step was agony at this point and her head still swam from the molydeus' abuse and the tentacles' spelunking for brains, but there was no time to take a rest. Tirtero's life hung in the balance and indeed it was possible that one or more of them would fall victim to the demon's insidious poison. Time was not on their side.

Adaldo and Jorelon moved quickly up to the front of the hall, both as eager as the Everdawns to see this mission accomplished and make their way safely back to the Dawnspire. To heal their wounds and mourn the dead...

With each face set in grim determination, Elric pushed open the door.

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:54 am

As the door opened they were bathed in a mystical blue glow. The room beyond had once been a sanctuary, a temple to the goddess of magic but those days were long gone.

The pews were broken and scattered, old books and candles were left to rot, but the old temple was not abandoned. Arcane script and markings, the likes of which Elric had never seen before scribbled across every inch of the walls and floor. Eldrich energy seemed to dance in the walls and touches of blue and silver fire seemed to be dancing in the arcane markings. They seemed nearly alive...

"What... am I looking at?" The half-elf wondered aloud as he gazed around the room. He ducked low as a bolt of energy careened off one wall to meet a matching set off the opposite wall.

"I... have no idea." Jorelon whispered in awe at the mystical display. He turned to look at the archer. "Adaldo? Any help here..."

The elf was silent as he slowly made his way around the web of energy. "Are these what I think they are?" the elf said at last. Elric looked to where he was pointing, and having seen one, now saw dozens scattered around. Small round stones, several burnt out, but many others still spurting energy.

"Ioun stones?" Elric asked with uncertainty. "They look a little different...."

"I think they are..." The elf said softly. The gems were many different colors, none larger then the smallest of fingernails and polished smooth. Completely without facets they almost reminded Elric of the memory room in the library. He cringed as another couple bolts jolted to the center of the room.

"I think they may be Tel'kirra. Lore gems for those who may need a translation... Many of the House elders wear them, it... stores their memories, their knowledge for use by future generations. Sometimes you can tell a houses prestige simply by the gem's color or clarity on their forehead.... and many feel it's rude and prideful to wear them visibly...."

"How many were lost here?" Elric asked as he scanned the room.

"More then my people care to admit..."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:57 pm

Ashara's eye drifted about the room in wonder. This magic was undoubtedly in effect. With all the stones set into the walls, this was not unlike the Uvaren's Legacy room with the chair which almost melted Elric's mind and she didn't like the prospect of messing with whatever was happening here.

"I'm pretty familiar with temples of Mystra, and I can say with some confidence that this, "she motioned to the light show, "is not normal."

She boggled at the thought of how many secrets must these tel'kirra hold... Secrets of Mythal creation and maybe even other high magic rituals! So much was thought lost after the Fall but within these stones could hold an important piece of elvish history and magic. These stones could help the embattled elves of Evereska or maybe even help them reclaim the City of Song and fix the Mythal. She thought of Kaldric then and wondered if these stones were usable by humans. Uvaren's chair certainly wasn't...

"Whatever magical machine was built in this room, it's still running and I don't have the faintest idea of how to turn this off. Unless someone wants to make an attempt, we may have to leave and return with Kaldric and Halimvor to study it.

"Wow..." Again Ashara whispered in awe. "Do you think the phaerimm gathered these stones from all around the city and brought them here?

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:40 pm

Elric nodded absently. "That would be my guess... Look at the way the temple is.... Well, Defiled isn't really the right word."

"I see what you mean." Jorelon spoke up as he pointed to various stones that seemed to be there in spite of the mystran decor, instead of because of it. "Whoever did this, had no respect for Mystra, only wanted to tap this well of power...

"Speaking of which.... " He said as another bolt of energy squealed past him. "I still can't cast in here." He glanced around at the others questioningly. "Can anyone tell my why THIS works, but not our spells?"
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:35 pm

"This has got to be the center of it... The eye of the dead magic." Ashara said curiously, though weariness from blood loss and taxing battles were quickly sapping any reserve of energy that yet remained. She was thankful for the support of Elric's arm.

"I'm not exactly sure what we're looking at here, but it seems like the phaerimm may have been using the tel'kirra to either focus his magic or draw magic from them for some greater purpose." She motioned to the tiny burned out stones that lay inert on the floor. "Just like it told us through that skeleton, we interrupted something it had been working on for decades! Finding each of these little things? If each one represented an elven family?" The priestess shook her head sadly. So many tombs desecrated....

"Hopefully Kaldric will be able to figure out what kind of magic the thing was trying to work in here, but praise the Dawn that we were able to stop it before it completed the ritual. Whatever it was the result would surely have been...unpleasant.

"But... Unless someone here understands the way a phaerimm's mind works and knows exactly how to shut this thing down right now, I'd rather leave it be for the experts to disarm. We don't have the time for trial and error here and gods know we've suffered enough losses today. With all of us who've been bitten by the molydeus, every moment we spend here, we risk suffering more."

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:07 pm

"Right!" Elric said as he backed slowly out of the temple. "This... This is a 'later' problem." Leading the way back out he saw the paladin, leg bandaged as best it could be standing stoically over the fallen Tirtero.

"Did you find what you were looking for?" He said struggling to put weight on the leg Adaldo had pinned to the ground. Obviously in pain, but determined to shoulder it without complaint. A standard Elric tried to emulate.

"Yeah... Maybe... I don't know!" the half-elf admitted with frustration. "I'm not really sure what we found in there... Do you remember anything?"

"No." The knight said with a scowl. "I'm not even sure how long I've been here..." He looked hesitantly at his rescuers.

"The 28th." Elric replied seeing the look of confusion cross the man's face. "Of.... Uktar?" The frown deepened. "1372?"

Finally a look of relief crossed Wilhelm's face "Two weeks... Could have been worse, I suppose."

"True," Elric said, as he bent over to help the knight lift Tirtero. "But now, it's time to get back to the Dawnspire... There's.... gghhhh... a little concern about that snake bite."

"Understood." He said as they struggled to keep their wounded ally as still as possible for the journey. "How far do we have to get to Dawnspire..."

"Not that far... We're on Gemblaunt isle" right now. Does that help?"

"Not particularly. I wasn't in the city very long before I fell. I look forward to seeing the temple."

"Adaldo?" Elric interrupted as they staggered to an upright position. A groan from Tirtero confirmed he was still alive.

"I've got point this time." the elf said, nocking an arrow. "Don't forget, we've still got Gargoyles wandering around down here..."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:30 am

To everyone's relief, the gargoyles weren't seen again. Neither, however, was the man who'd fled the scene after the phaerimm's domination was broken, and while Ashara was concerned that he may simply have run from one bad situation into another, they hardly had time to track him.

Another 'later' problem...

Those were stacking up! The magical ritual going on in the old temple needed to be stopped. The strange machine needed to be analyzed and shut down. The Hawksong skeleton needed a proper burial. Not to mention two recently dead corpses still lay back in the hallway, one of them being a morninglord! The thought that something left down there might see them as a meal made Ashara's stomach turn but there was little they could do for him at this point.

Once again, she lifted the dead priest's holy symbol up to her eye, which teared up at the memories the jeweled symbol stirred in her. He must have been from Morningstar Haven, the opulent temple of Lathander in Westgate, and the home temple of her mentor Josiah. No other house of the faithful produced such distinctive and such...ornate holy symbols.

As the companions ascended the stairway and walked out into the bright midday sun, Ashara looped the medallion over her head where it rested on her chest beside its twin. She would loved to have had the chance to talk with the man...

Elric and the paladin stoically carried Tirtero across the invisible bridge while Jorelon helped to support his midsection. Ashara was in no condition to help with the carrying this time, so the two noble warriors shouldered the burden alone, pushing each other to new heights of endurance as they worked to save the desperately wounded man.

The moment they crossed the boarder of the dead magic, Ashara called everyone to a halt as the regenerations came back into effect knitting together some of the wounds of everyone but Elric and the paladin. Hurriedly, the priestess went into a flurry of casting to see if any of them had fallen victim to the poison of the molydeus. By some miracle...whether it be from Lathander or Tymora, all of them were poison free!

Ashara doubled over and rested her hands and her knees, expelling a massive sigh of relief. "We're okay," she called out with a chuckle of pure disbelief, "we're going to be okay..."

As the regeneration slowly did its work, her damaged eye rolled back into proper alignment with a sickening schplucky sound. Blinking, she looked up at Elric. His terrible wounds remained just as they were.

With a look of sympathy, she stood and went to him, a word of Heal on her lips. They weren't that far from the Dawnspire now, but there was no reason any of them had to walk the rest of the way in agony.

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:52 am

Elric released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. They were going to be ok... When he'd seen the bites from the molydeus... He'd scarce dared to hope. At best he'd hoped they would make it far enough for Ashara to cleanse it... if she hadn't been the one infected.

Relief flooded through him as her healing magic went to work on his tattered body, if pressed he'd have had a hard time saying which felt better.

"mmm... Mair... " Tirtero croaked out as he started to struggle under the two warriors carrying him. Quickly they laid him down and watched the Regeneration working it's magic. The two priests quickly decided that wasn't fast enough.

Dual prayers to Lathander filled the air as wounds vanished left and right. One wound however was beyond even Ashara and Jorelon's spells...

"Mairlen.... " The heartbroken warrior quaked in sorrow and anger. "Is she..."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Thu Mar 15, 2012 8:08 am

"She's free of this cage." Jorelon immediately jumped in, his eyes shining with moisture. "Mairlen's gone to a place of warmth and peace and she's earned that reward tenfold."

Unlike some of the other priests and priestesses that had been at the tower longer, Jorelon wasn't numbed to the pain of loss. A large part of him wished he was... This loss in addition to the loss of Durlan a few days ago, tore at his already wounded heart.

Though Ashara had only just met the warrior this morning, she sympathized keenly with what he must be going through. Did they not take the same risk every day they set their foot upon the path of adventure? Little more than a stranger, she knew there weren't any words of comfort she could offer Tirtero so instead, she gently rested her hand on his shoulder, hoping a touch would convey more than her words would be able to.

"I..." Tirtero choked. "I never got to tell her that..." He shook his head in denial. "That I..."

"She knew."

Once again, Jorelon jumped to the rescue. Whether it was to save his friend some pain or just because the priest couldn't bear any more himself, Ashara didn't know.

Reverently Jorelon pulled a folded piece of parchment from beneath his plate and handed it to the berieved warrior. Upon it was a wax seal bearing the mark of a sun rising behind a familiar tower.

"She wrote this for you. Just in case..."

Tirtero's jaw slacked and with a shaking hand he took the letter as delicately as if it might crumble to ash at his touch. Wordlessly he clutched it to his chest unopened, and began a silent march toward the Dawnspire under his own power.

Ashara turned to her brother as the companions followed suit and continued on their journey.

"Mairlen gave you a note for him?"

"This morning," he nodded sadly. "Most of us carry notes for each other when we go out into the city. Mairlen had one that I wrote to my parents in case I fell...or never returned.

"In our position, it's not lack of faith," Jorelon added defensively. "We both believed that this mission would be a success, but you see in Myth Drannor, for those of us who've been sworn to the Seekers, our deaths aren't a possibility...they're a certainty."

He sighed and turned his eyes eastward.

"Mairlen went in the best way we can in this city. Quickly, painlessly, among friends and in defense of the Dawnspire. None of us can ask for more."

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Mar 15, 2012 1:25 pm

Elric bit his tongue. He wanted nothing more than to know his new friends would be safe... and this... 'waiting to die' philosophy was incredibly alien to him. How could people DO that?? He was no stranger to dangerous situations, nor had he ever turned away from it. But even in their darkest hour, Elric always had SOME hope that they would survive. That they would in fact even win... Though there had been some times that hope was only an ember. The day before they fought the 'Most Hated Wyrm', and instead of having a wedding, the plan was to say good-bye to Ashara as she led the dragon on a merry chase through the realms... THAT was bad day... As bad as he'd ever experienced... But he'd still held some flicker of hope that they'd win.

And they had.

Hearing Jorelon's admittance that he knew he would die here, and only hoped that it was in service to the cause when the time came.... That was hard for the half-elf to hear. He contemplated the ramifications of such devotion in silence as they finished the trip to the Dawnspire.


*****************************************************************

Alaecathra paced back and forth in front of the glowing orb of the Dawnstone. The solace she sought was missing. Her thoughts unfocused. She yearned to have been with the expedition, to at least know... something... ANYTHING.

"You've never been the type to stay behind, have you?" A familiar gruff voice came from the doorway. The Abbess spun, amazed that she'd heard nothing, and with a guilty grin realized just how far away her mind had been... Especially considering that stealth was not one of Gundlar's special skills.

"Has there been any word?" The warrior priest asked, fully expecting the answer. The Abbess simply shook her head.

"I hate this... I should be able to do... something." she spake in disgust.

"You are doing something." her old friend said as he laid a hand on her shoulder. "Your job now is to lead... You should be used to that by now."

"You never truly get used to it." She said with a reluctant sigh. Glancing at the Everdawn blade, still hovering in the light of the endless dawn, she held no illusions about her restlessness. "Some days are easier than others... but I'll never get used to it. Sending others out to do what I used to... Too few come home again."

"The price of leadership, Alae..." Gundlar said with a familiarity few shared with the ancient yet eternally young priestess. "Some gain glory, most gain sleepless nights."

"Hmmmph... " Alaecathra snorted in agreement. "There's been many of those..."

"That's why we still follow you."

A grin crossed her face as she looked back towards the hovering sword. "This times was a bit different."

"This time the need was greater." He followed her eyes to the sword. "They knew the risks and accepted them gladly."

"It's still different Gundlar... It's... it's just different."

The priest couldn't disagree with that. Any of the Seekers were willing to give their all for the cause, but putting their faith in strangers was indeed different. Though perhaps seekers in spirit, the Everdawns had not been called to this mission. The Seeker's plight was not their own, and when their time here was done... they would leave. It did not feel 'right' to put such responsibilities on them, to ask so much.

A commotion from below spun them both again towards the doorway. Alaecathra could hear her name being called in excited tones.

ABBESS!!! Abbess!!!" They're BACK!!!

With a gasp she shared one hopeful look with the prior and headed down to the courtyard. The prior was never more than a few steps behind. The sight she saw amazed her, Most of the Seekers had flooded the courtyard for news, and the rest were on their way. She the saw the Everdawns looking much worse than they had when they left. Armor and clothes were torn, punctured, and soaked in blood, though their bodies seemed healthy. The others were much the same. Tirtero seemed to have taken a heavy toll, and Mairlen... seemed missing. She cringed at the implications that meant.

"Welcome back." She spoke loudly, her voice hushing the others. "Come, tell me what happened..." She waved the survivors to the room they had eaten at this morning. As they sat around, she felt a little guilty for not giving them time to clean up first... but she didn't want to be the last to hear what happened.

"Were you successful? Did you stop the Alhoon?"
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Post  Penelope on Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:24 pm

"Yes, Abbess," Ashara said plainly, bowing her head to her superior before slumping heavily into the chair. When seated, she immediately regretted that decision, wondering if her aching body would allow her to get up again under her own power. She tested her leg. Nope...she was sure she'd be sleeping there tonight.

Resting her hand on the pommel of Dawnspeaker, she continued. "The alhoon is dead. The molydeus is dead...and we killed the phaerimm that was controlling them both."

She pressed on through Alaecathra's shocked silence.

"There were others the thornback was controlling too. Probably more than we yet know, but there were four living that it used against us in Gemblaunt. Two fell..." Ashara's already weary voice cracked a bit as she pulled the dead priest's jeweled holy symbol from around her neck and slid it across the table. "One ran. And one stood with us and helped us to defeat the threat of the molydeus."

She motioned to the paladin, who rose and took a knee before the leader of the Dawnspire.

"I am Sir Wilhelm of Westgate, Your Radiance. Two weeks ago my companions and I entered Myth Drannor having left Morningstar Haven on a pilgrimage to the Dawnspire. We must have been captured or killed by the phaerimm creature shortly after arriving. Please excuse me," the knight grimaced, "but my memories are foggy.

"I did not know the others of whom Lady Everdawn spoke," he nodded to Ashara, raising an eyebrow as he caught a first glimpse of the mace that hung at her hip, "but...umm..." He snapped his attention back to the Abbess. "But Morninglord Haeral," he gestured sadly to the holy symbol on the table, "was one of those accompanying me from Westgate.

"It is my great honor to meet you, Abbess, as it would also have been his."

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:14 pm

The abbess silently absorbed the information. Phaerimm... That explained much. Much, but not all. She turned and addressed the Paladin.

"You are welcome here Sir Wilhelm. On behalf of the Seekers, I thank you for whatever assistance you were able to offer and offer condolences for your friend. I'd appreciate sharing words with you at your later convenience."

"I appreciate that Abbess, I've learned all to quickly the dangers of this place. You have my sword should you have need."

The abbess nodded at his offer and turned back to the others. "Phaerimm you say..." Seeing not a shred of doubt on their faces she took their words as fact. "Then it appears that survived... Did you find out his plans?"

"No." Elric spoke up decisively. "We killed it. You don't have the luxury of conversation with those..."

"And Mairlen?" The abbess said, acknowledging the young woman's absence.

"Lost." Jorelon said with warble in his throat. "and avenged."

The Abbess cringed ever so slightly at the confirmation of her fears. One lost... though missed, it could have been much worse...

"Very well... The creature is dead then, and we don't know what it was doing..." She sighed and wondered if this was another one of those great mysteries that would never be solved. "What of the Dead magic? Did the threat to the Dawnspire die with the Phaerimm?"
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Post  Penelope on Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:23 am

"I believe the immediate threat has been dealt with," Ashara considered aloud, as she fingered a curl of auburn hair that marked the end of a braid, "but we'll have to make a second trip into Gemblaunt with someone who has more experience with arcane workings.

"An old temple of Mystra has been converted into some kind of..." She furrowed her brow and shook her head, hardly knowing what exactly to call it. Instead she opted for a description. "Well... Dozens of tel'kirra have been collected and placed into the walls, where perhaps their knowledge is being drained into the center of the room, presumably where the phaerimm would be hovering. I can only guess at the nature of the device. There was magic at work in there, though our magic was still unavailable to us, so that room could be the key to the dead magic.

"We didn't want to muck about with it at the time since we found ourselves in a precarious state of survival, and there are others here at the tower better suited to the task of...disengaging this magical construction."

"There was a strange machine too," Jorelon added. "Took up a whole wall of one of the earlier rooms we visited and it seemed to be running. All blinking lights and whirring noises, and guarded by two skeleton warriors and some zombies. But what it does or how to stop it we just weren't sure."

Ashara nodded, grimacing as she remembered the Hawksong shield she had stowed away in the Haversack. Did any of those tel'kirra stones belong to the Hawksong family she wondered... That would be a gift of immeasurable value to give to dear old Vailis!

"So you see, there is still some work to be done down in Gemblaunt, Abbess, and I volunteer to return there once a wizard can be allocated so we can put this threat to the Dawnspire to rest for good!"

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:28 am

"That goes for all of us I believe." Jorelon spoke up. The grim set of Tirtero's jaw and the subtle nod of Adaldo's head confirmed that he wasn't just speaking out of turn.

"You five don't look capable of another expedition." Alaecathra said looking over the companions. "I apreciate the offer, but..."

"Forgive the interuption Abbess...." Elric interjected. He barely registered the widened eyes of the woman who obviously wasn't used to being interrupted... much less disagreed with. "Time is of the essence. We don't know what it was doing down there. But we have already been in this tower twice now. The mind slaves seemed to have scattered when their control broke... but I doubt a place like that will stay empty long. Magic still doesn't work, so We're going to need this arm if the gargoyles are still down there.

"We had a tough time of it down there, but with Lathander's gifts, we're as strong now as when we went down this morning... We're the best bet to lead the wizards down there, and we really should get going again."
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:17 am

Ashara smiled warmly as Elric made his opinion known without hesitation. A year...year and a half ago, he probably would have simply held his tongue. He'd truly come into his own. That scrawny little half-elven orphan from Impresk had grown into an impressive, brave, self-possessed and determined man of action. He knew who he was and what he could do and had a self confidence built upon experience, not arrogance. Made the young woman feel a little swoony...unless that was just the blood loss...

"I must agree with my husband's assessment, Abbess." She bowed her head apologetically to her superior. "We are all weary and heartsick yes, but we need to see this through and there is no advantage to waiting. Gemblaunt must have been all but empty when we left it, so we should take this opportunity while that's still the case.

"As ragged as we must appear right now, I know that we're all up to the task."

Nods and verbal assents passed from person to person at the table and all eyes turned to Alaecathra for the final word. She was after all, the leader of the Seekers of the Dawn. Ultimately the decision was hers to make.

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Post  Colin Marcus on Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:26 am

"Very well then, if you all feel so strongly about it... so it shall be." Looking toward an attendant she gave the order. "Send for Kaldric and have him meet the others in the courtyard.

"Do you require any time to prepare?" She asked the eager party.

Truth was, Elric was a bit chilly, but not uncomfortably so. What poison may have been on them was gone, and their wounds were healed. No sense wasting water and yet another shirt. "No time like the present." He said after getting the nods from the others.


**********************************************


Soon they were back in the courtyard, answering questions as simply as they could hoping that the mage could be drug out of his lab this day sooner rather than later. While the multitude of condolences and rampant curiosity was appreciated, it was also getting old quick.

"Ready to go?" A cheerful voice came bounding up to them, but it didn't belong to a face the half-elf knew. This mage appeared to be in his mid twenties, blonde hair, and a good six inches shorter than Elric did.

"Ummm... Are you going too?" he asked apprehensively. "Where's Kaldric?"

"A question many people... the Abbess included, would truly like to know."

"He's missing?!" Elric asked in alarm. There was a lot on their plate right now, but he imagined a search and rescue would move toward the top of the list.

"Missing is a strong word..." the young mage answered. "Kaldric's always come and gone as he pleased. If he's not here, then odds are he's found some new leads he's pursuing.

Elric mouth tightened as thought back to the breakfast this morning. "What about the lich? Kaldric seemed kind of chummy with him..."

"That would by my guess. I'm not fond of the lich myself... but if he some information he was willing to share, I have little doubt that Kaldric would bolt for it.

"Regardless... few of the other mages, few that we are, are exactly eager to head into dead magic... Soooooo.... Kaldric's out, and I'm in. Name's Geldman." The mage grinned happily.

"I'm not sure what I'll need down there. Normally, I'd use magic to record what I see... but I think this time, I'll have to rely on chalk and parchment." A quick flash of disappointment crossed his face as he added. "Unless it's easy to turn off..."
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Post  Penelope on Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:04 pm

"Well Geldman, this is your lucky day." Ashara managed a tired smile, grateful for the shot of enthusiasm that the young mage brought to the group. "The phaerimm mentioned that he'd been working on this...whatever it is...for decades, and as you know they're hardly slouches when it comes to arcane workings. You're bound to find some kind of magical puzzle to unravel!"

The mage giggled in a not-quite-manly fashion. "That's exactly what I was hoping for," he clapped, fumbling with the heavy pack on his shoulder. "You have no idea how boring the constant Identifying can be, and Halamor always takess the best stuff to look at anyway..."

He peeked over his shoulder and leaned in conspiratorially. "Just between us, I think old Halamor likes to try out the merchandise..."

Ashara cocked an eyebrow and quickly muffled a laugh. The mental image of the aged mage trying out the Arm of Valor was still quite fresh in her mind.

With a soft sigh she pulled the dwarven shield onto her arm and turned to look up at her husband.

"Lle desiel a'tela sina, Mela? <Are you ready to end this, Love?>" she smiled gently.

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