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1st Hammer; early night; at the Wizard's Wand Tavern (Wizard Ward) in Calimport

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1st Hammer; early night; at the Wizard's Wand Tavern (Wizard Ward) in Calimport

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:51 pm

Nianya Sweetstring climbed the steps behind a woman named Ashara, whose attire professed her a Morninglord of Lathander. Behind the bard, the rest of the Morninglord's companions followed in a small procession oddly reminiscent of a Faerunian carnival, having two half-elves--one a muscular, strong-man type and the other a dainty finger-waggler, an older man of ruggedly strange appearance, a minotaur, and a pixie. She recognized the adventuring party as the Champions of the Red Dawn; their heroism had traveled south from Tethyr and Amn through the musical arts of the half-elf, Elric, whom had composed The Throat-Punching of a Dragon, which Nianya had performed in the common room for their benefit--with a subtle yet notable difference in the musical composition to make it sound more appealing, of course. Another of their number--the druid, Eddick, according to the song--displayed the Harper pin prominently upon his shoulder, the powerful magicks imbued into the pin making it invisible to all save other Harpers like herself.

Admittedly, his presence in Calimport disconcerted her a bit.

Though the City of Glory harbored the second largest gathering of Harpers in one area in all Faerun (Thay being the largest), they were also the organization's best-kept secret. Relatively few Harpers outside the Realm's grandest metropolis retained knowledge of their permanent presence here, and fewer the sizable extent of that presence. Calimport's expansive underworld not only rivaled that of any other territory on the continent, but, despite outward appearances to the contrary, it also controlled the city in every aspect in which the city thrived. The Syl-Pasha believed himself the absolute ruler of his land, but the Syl-Pasha was terribly misinformed--primarily because the majority of those doing the informing held highly lucrative positions within quite possibly the most formidable criminal organization unknown to virtually the whole of the Realm: the Rundee. Nothing happened in Calimshan without the Rundee permitting it . . . nothing except the goings-on of the Harpers.

To undermine such a powerful, secretive criminal element, however, it required subtlety, patience, and the ability to be more secretive. For that reason, the Harpers of Calimport considered themselves almost a separate entity from the Harpers in the rest of Faerun. Information from within passed beyond the gates as rumor and hearsay, and they gathered information coming back in through the walls in exactly the same fashion. The network trusted that what they released into the world would be harvested and digested appropriately by their namesake, despite not knowing it was sent specifically for their benefit. That information never contained anything pertaining to the Rundee, of course. They simply couldn't take a chance that the criminal organization might discover them in such a way. Naturally, some of the news brought an occasional Harper into Calimport, but the network in the city refused to make contact, and, instead, watched their unknowing associates from up close and afar.

The arrival of the druid felt different from the normal Harper incursions from the outside, however. The placement of the druid's pin made it impossible for them to miss his coming, but, after learning of his party's faux pas at the gate that very nearly ended in disaster, she believed the man here on business not associated with the Harpers. Those of her network would ever enter a situation completely uninformed of the dangers which awaited, and the Champions had obviously done exactly that. The tension threatening to rip the city asunder very nearly exploded in their faces, yet there they stood peering back at it in shocked dismay, like a halfling staring peevishly at a badly burnt roast during the Higharvestide feast.

And then there were the words spoken by the minotaur that stuck out most in her memory. "We know about the murders." Murders occurred every day in Calimport, especially in current times. The statement meant absolutely nothing unless the beast inferred particular murders . . .

That very substantial possibility--the only possibility by her thinking--spurred Nianya to instigate this meeting. It proved an undeniable risk to do so, for it exposed her as a Harper in Calimport, which could very well force her to leave the city for good, but after overhearing more of their conversation while at the tavern (thanks to some of her bardic magic), she decided it a risk worth taking. In brief moments of their discussion, with subsequent warnings about speaking freely in the open, she learned a great deal about their purpose in the city, and believed it possible they could help one another.

A few months ago, the Harpers had discovered a new threat haunting the city, but had yet to uncover any real specifics about it. Thus far, nothing had surfaced to link the threat with the Rundee in any way, and the information they permitted to leak away from the City of Glory returned no clues. This threat was incredibly peculiar, and absolutely dangerous, yet any answers continually eluded them. These adventurers brought with them the possibility of answers, and her intentions had been to garner all she could from them without their knowledge. However, they gave every indication of faultering in their efforts here and traveling to lands elsewhere in their search, and that she simply couldn't allow . . . not without learning what she needed to, and feasibly aiding them on their quest, also.

Nianya noticed the Morninglord quietly releasing some magical ward placed upon the room to enable the bard entry. Once inside, the Harper moved quietly to the side, nonchalantly putting her back to the wall, laying a foot flat against it with a raised knee jutting forward to gently rest the lute she carried atop it, and noting the others filing in behind--even the pixie, who she could see thanks to the detect invisibility spell she had cast unobtrusively through her song after Eddick had come calling on her. She had no reason not to trust them to be the heroic adventuring company described in the half-elf's song, but, given the nature of things in Calimport these days, she had every reason to be cautious. That meant knowing where the pixie was at all times, and having a quick escape route from the room already established before ever she stepped foot into it.

"An interest in phantoms discloses a keen love of horror stories, I think," the bard quipped without any outward indication of joking, after the door closed. "Perhaps you'd all like to move a few steps closer and explain to me where this adoration derives from." As she spoke, the woman thrummed innocently at the lute in her hands.

An instant later, anyone standing beyond ten feet from her, or outside the room itself, suddenly missed out on the conversation

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Eddick

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:37 pm

Eddick was shocked and embarrassed at his companions lack of subtlety. From the moment Gwilly caused the scene almost as soon as they entered the city, to Kaber's shouting, to Therogeon's loud declaration of trust issues at the table downstairs. The way they all marched single file up to the room after talking about "things they shouldn't talk about in public" was spoken loudly at the table when the whole rest of the tavern watched in stunned silence was enough to make Eddick blush, even with the solid tan he still sported in the winter. Either that or having to so boldly approach the pretty bard when he did not feel ready as to not make as big of a scene as Gwilly would make if he refused or delayed.

Eddick had carried the food upstairs and had plopped down in a sitting position directly across from Nianya, setting the food off to his right. He studied her face for a moment, listening to every word she said and any she did not say. When the din of city disappeared at the playing of her lute, Eddick recognized that they could not be listened in on and relaxed slightly. Eddick had always been intuitive in strange circumstances, and when people around him were tense, he instinctively became tense so as to sympathize with their position, and then use his wisdom to talk them both down. People of all types respond better to people to whom they have a sense of camaraderie.

"First of all," Eddick responded before anyone else could get in a word of response. He could not allow that at this time, "I want you to know I appreciate the danger you put yourself in by allowing us to speak with you. Phantoms do not like tales told about them that do not enhance the fear that people have. It undermines their power, and so usually requires the Phantom to demonstrate what power they have left as to revive that fear. Also, from what I understand, this city runs quite well on subtlety, something our particular group does not list among our accomplishments. Ruining that subtlety causes waves of difficulty, as we have already seen, and I apologize on behalf of my friends for disturbing what little precious peace you might have.

"To answer your question of our interest, we have interest because we have encountered some Phantoms in our travels. Phantoms that are able to spook time itself from keeping tabs on them for enough time for them to finish what they had come to do. They desired to kill, and cause chaos to arise in their wake. We caught one of these phantoms to discover that he was indeed a man, and he was executed for his crimes in that very town. Before he died, we searched his mind to discover there were a total of six men who had received, well, I guess one could call it a 'blessing', from Cyric himself.

"Another of their number had found us and attacked us during a fight we were having with some other creatures, but we were able to best him as well. There are four more of these Phantoms around, and we desire to be rid of them entirely as they upset the balance, causing the bondage of fear to everyone involved."
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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:47 pm

Therogeon was astounded. How could his friends, his family just willingly trust this complete stranger. When she had first came to the table he had assumed it was merely because she was a pretty face Eddick had fancied. He was older but certainly not dead and if he wanted the bard's company for conversation or....whatever, who was he to stop the druid. Then everyone started to talk about things definitely best kept secret, and they would have continued had he not made the suggestion to move somewhere less open.

These thoughts kept him occupied as they climbed the stairs and entered the room, so much so that he almost missed the bard casting a spell using her lute. Almost, but not quite. A quick jog through his memory caught the spell, though it was a while since he had studied bardic magic. A Sound Bubble, a small sphere used to negate sounds passing. Interesting.

"First of all," Eddick responded before anyone else could get in a word of response. He could not allow that at this time, "I want you to know I appreciate the danger you put yourself in by allowing us to speak with you. Phantoms do not like tales told about them that do not enhance the fear that people have. It undermines their power, and so usually requires the Phantom to demonstrate what power they have left as to revive that fear. Also, from what I understand, this city runs quite well on subtlety, something our particular group does not list among our accomplishments. Ruining that subtlety causes waves of difficulty, as we have already seen, and I apologize on behalf of my friends for disturbing what little precious peace you might have.

"To answer your question of our interest, we have interest because we have encountered some Phantoms in our travels. Phantoms that are able to spook time itself from keeping tabs on them for enough time for them to finish what they had come to do. They desired to kill, and cause chaos to arise in their wake. We caught one of these phantoms to discover that he was indeed a man, and he was executed for his crimes in that very town. Before he died, we searched his mind to discover there were a total of six men who had received, well, I guess one could call it a 'blessing', from Cyric himself.

"Another of their number had found us and attacked us during a fight we were having with some other creatures, but we were able to best him as well. There are four more of these Phantoms around, and we desire to be rid of them entirely as they upset the balance, causing the bondage of fear to everyone involved."


Unbelievable. What happened to his friends. Speaking so openly with someone they had just met. In a city, a horrid, horrid city, where a sneeze could spark turf war.

The half elf raised his hand to forstall anyone else from speaking, "Wait. Eddick my friend, I know you fancy this young woman, but I do have to question why everyone else is so blatently willing to trust her. You all should know that upon entering this room she cast a spell to prevent sound from passing, either to or from. A usefull precaution when speaking of things we do not wish to be heard, or a front to prevent us from hearing her friends sneaking up the stairs on us. I do not know which."

Speaking quickly and powerfully, his hands making short curt gestures, and the Silver Flame in his eyes flashed. His spell infused him, filling his eyes with sight and his mind knowledge. The first thing he did was glance at his friends, using the spell's power to detect what magic the bard had use to coerce his family. Seeing nothing unusual upon them, his eyes squinted in confusion and turned to the bard. He focused his augmented gaze upon her and noted only three objects of magical might, and those three in and of themselves weak compared to what he was used to. Her rapier was enchanted to hit both easier and harder, the brooch and the ring on her finger both glowed with the faint light of protection.

Therogeon relaxed slightly, there was no immenant attack and if she drew that rapier, Elric and Kaber could easily crush her. He was confident that if she attempted a spell he could stop her, so the only danger was of her possibly fictious friends. He was able to reason out that if his family trusted this person without magical persuasion, she was probably trustworthy. There was something going on here he didn't understand, something that his friends obviously knew and he didn't.

"I do not know what is going on, I do not know who you are. There is not obvious shadow about you and my friends seem to trust you. So I am going to ask this, why? Why can we trust you, why can we trust you to not leave here and report our going on's to our enemy? Answer me this, truthfully, and then we shall talk."
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Gwilly

Post  TRU on Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:30 pm

Gwilly liked the new harper lady they had met. She seemed really nice and she had played their song! How great was that. And maybe, just maybe, she might be able to help them. That would be wonderful. The young pixie went over the few things she had packed to bring with her. It was about time to do some maintenance on her bow. Oh, and she was in desperate need of some more sleep power to tip her arrows with. Hopefully Therogeon had something with him that might work… she would have to ask.

Gwilly barely noticed that Therogeon was talking when she flew up to his shoulder to ask about the sleep powder. He seemed to be saying something important so she waited until he was finished then she whispered in his ear, “Umm, Therogeon, do you have any kind of sleep powder with you? I’m running out of my sleepy arrows and I need to make some more. If you have some, could I have it?”
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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:40 pm

Therogeon blinked quickly. He generally had an almost sixth sense when it came to where Gwilly was but this time, he was so focused on this lady in the room that she took him by suprise when she whispered into his ear.

Still he smiled slightly. He could not believe he ever thought her a distraction. He slowly reached down and lightly plucked a small leather pouch off his hip. This one was marked with a small orange elven rune for sleep. Still smiling slightly, he raised the pouch up to the shoulder where she was and offered her his supply.
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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:21 am

Elric blinked quickly at Therogeons outburst. Then he remembed. Therogeon didn't know about Eddick and Gwilly being Harpers. He felt a little awkward about that. It really wasn't in his nature to keep secrets from friends, but it wasn't his secret to tell. He hoped Eddick would relent soon enough. He was the only one in the group who didn't know. Maybe Gwilly would say something she wasn't supposed to soon. That would work as well.

It occured to him then that Ashara wasn't in the room at the time when Eddick and Gwilly were talking about her. She probably figured it out by Eddick making contact similar to the harper that pointed them toward Calimport, but better safe than sorry. Slowly he turned his back to Therogeon and the bard with the pretense of checking the door. As he caught Asahara's gaze he mouthed the word 'harper.'

Seemingly confident they were secure he turned his attention back to the standoff with Therogeon and their new friend.
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Eddick

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:05 am

Eddick sat there stunned for a moment, before he took a deep breath, letting out a large sigh. "Therogeon! What is your problem? This is the third place we have come since we arrived. You did not question the people dressed as priests in the temples of Lathander or Mystra, and there were numerous people in both places as talked about things that you did not cast spells on to discover their intent. So just because this one, who I invited to come join our table, doesn't have a holy symbol around her neck you interrupt her answers to our questions and demand some proof that we can trust her?"

The old druid paused for a moment to let his words sink in. "Look, I am not sure of all of what happened to you today, and I am sorry I did not wait until you woke up let you talk about it. But right now we not only might be able to get some information on what we can do to help out here, but we might also be able to allow this city, through the use of this bard who obviously has connections, to be able to return to whatever semblance of order it had before by dispelling idle conjecture with truth!

Eddick was obviously and uncharacteristically agitated. If Therogeon did not trust him on a little thing like being a decent judge of character, how could he tell him more important secrets. The way Therogeon had been acting lately was letting Eddick start to really think that he might be able to tell him like Elric and Ashara wanted. But his attitude toward this town as well as his prejudice against so many people that Eddick really enjoyed spending time with made Eddick really wonder if being a Harper was something he would ever tell him.

"Not to mention that by bringing this up in public you make us as a group look weak, and me in particular look like a fool. You should know by now that looking weak in this town invites an attack, and you should also know that I am not a fool." Eddick's hard eyes softened. "You are obviously stressed and tired, and not acting like yourself. Relax, and let the lady tell us a story or two. Maybe we will discover something we did not know. Then again, maybe the avenues here are as closed to us as the byways, and we will be soon on our way again."
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Kaber

Post  Swiftboot on Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:57 am

Kaber had been quietly listening to the conversations with the woman. While he had grown as a person greatly in his time with the group, there were still situations where he was a novice.

They had done what he suggested, essentially. The Champions had gone to an inn and talked with a local to get some information that they were not getting elsewhere. However, with as much tension and suspicion as there was in the air, this all appeared to be too easy. Therogeon had essentially pointed out this fact, and now it was weighing heavily on the minotaur's mind.

"Eddick, Theorgeon is right. While I do trust your judgement, I would like to know why you so easily and quickly trust her. Do you know her?"

Kaber didn't want to strain his new respect for the druid, and added, "I know my actions earlier were rash, but a little caution now may be appropriate so we do not get caught in any further situations like before. If you remember, those at the temples were highly cautious of us, though we had followers in our midst. Do not dimiss our concerns and treat us as fools."
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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:02 am

Therogeon took a deep breath, a scathing reply a mere breath away from bursting from his lips. Then, inexplicably, his face softened. He nodded his thanks to the minotaur and sighing softly he turned to the druid.

"My friend, I know you are not a fool. By Mystra you are one of the wisest people I know. I am just trying to understand why you trust her. You yourself have advocated caution about this, many times. And now here you are sharing everything but caution with someone you just met."

The half elf rubbed a hand across his weary eyes. It really has been a long day and truth be told, he wasn't feeling like himself right now. Something was going on though, and in a town like this, caution was the best option. He didn't know why his friends trusted this stranger, but maybe it was enough that they did.

"I'm sorry, I am tired and mayhap not thinking like myself. It is obvious that you all trust this bard so I will accept her. Until I know why though, I cannot trust her. I find it suspicious she knows anything about our mission, and a little too convient. Especially since the first thing she did was cast a spell blocking sound from entering or leaving. As I said, a usefull precaution or a carefull ruse. I will give her the befinit of the doubt though. Speak, please, young lady. Share with us a "story" or two and we shall see what comes of it. And I aplogize if my...actions offended. I am merely trying to be cautious in a city I do not understand."

The young wizard stepped back and calmly waited for the bard to continue. He didn't trust her yet and there were other things at work he didn't understand. But he was willing to wait and see what happened.
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:51 am

Ashara nodded almost imperceptibly at the information Elric passed to her. She had assumed as much by the way Eddick was speaking with the woman, but it was good to know for certain.

She was not overly surprised by Therogeon's reaction. This was exactly the reason she had advised against keeping secrets from anyone in the group, but it was not her secret to tell, so she would hold her tongue.

"Peace, brothers," she started softly, but firmly, "Let's remember who we are, and not allow how we treat one another to be affected by the tense atmosphere of this city."

The priestess stood next to Kaber, and squeezing his hand gently in reassurance, she lowered herself to the floor a few feet in front of the bard and folded her legs beneath her.

"Though I do not know Nianya, I know Eddick and trust his judgement as I've trusted him with my life." She turned to face the mage, and smiled warmly at him. "Therogeon, you have always had a gift for knowing whether a person was telling truth or falsehood, and I trust that your gift will work in this case as well." As she caught his eye, facing away from the bard, she quickly shifted her eyes to the dagger he carried that could detect lies.

"We are away from the anxious crowd now, so I don't see the harm in listening to a few tales."

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Kaber

Post  Swiftboot on Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:24 pm

The minotaur found it somewhat odd that his companions were so ready this woman, no matter who she was. The group had trusted others in the past, usually quickly, but here, in these circumstances, it felt off. Especially since the priests did not even trust Ashara. That did not sit well.

Yet Kaber trusted his fellows, and someone on their side in this place would be nice. He did have to agree with Therogeon, he liked Waterdeep better.

Actually, he liked Impresk better than either, but he was definately not one for large cities. But this place...it was HOT! He had never felt normal heat like this, and it made the warrior very uncomfortable. Sweat matted his fur, and his armor, while light and mobile, had become a stifling oven.

Not one to give up an advantage in a situation, Kaber had remained in his plate mail throughout the city. Now he had to get it off. If there was trouble, it would be easier to move without it, and the chaffing it was beginning to cause would be trouble later.

He began removing pieces and piling them in a corner. For each part that he removed, it felt as if that area could breath again. However, the minotaur quickly realized that even without his coverings, the air remained hot and oppressive.
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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:09 pm

As far Therogeon had understood, Elric was being quiet, Kaber was agreeing with him, Ashara was outwardly agreeing with Eddick and yet hedging her bets by having him listen with his magical dagger and Eddick was admonishing him simply because he advocated caution. Things were a little different in the temples, and in fact if they had met this bard in a druid grove he would probably not have a problem with her. Places of holy origen, whether divine or natural, often lent credence to those dwelling inside.

Still, he was willing to listen. Three questions the dagger would allow him to ask, and to hear the truth in the responses. He would hear the young lady's tales and he would ask his three questions. Silently he sat down and leaned back against a bed's leg. One hand on his chin as he listened and the other resting lightly in his lap, his fingers softly, barely brushing up against the handle of the tiger hilted dagger hung there.
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Nianya

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:50 pm

The bard settled against the wall, masking her amusement by humming a little ditty, and making a mental note about possibly writing a drama based on the display before her. "No need for apologies," she assured them all brightly. "We bards appreciate attention . . . though, perhaps, our relationship should progress a little slower, hm?" she quickly added, smirking as the minotaur undressed before her very eyes.

Nianya's attention lowered to the lute, upon which her nimble fingers danced playfully across the strings with barely an effort. The notes fluttered from the instrument in a light, jovial melody no louder than the whispering of butterfuly wings. For the briefest of moments, she appeared to lose herself in the improvised composition currently playing out on her fingertips, but then the woman raised her glimmering amethyst eyes to scan the troupe before her. "As you can tell, I'm not keen on ghost stories. I much prefer something more lively that a listener can sway to." Her left hand clamped over the neck of the instrument, stilling the strings' vibrations, and silencing the room from the beautiful music.

"But, contrary to your imaginings, master mage, I know nothing of your mission here save for what has been explained to me by your conversations both to me and between yourselves." Thus, the problem, she finished the statement in the recesses of her mind. "A bard cannot help but be curious about her patronage, however, and your discussion sounded more interesting than any of the others." She raised a hand to stay his lips from speaking one moment longer. "Those in my profession do more than perform, friend. We also listen. How else do you think it possible for us to gather all that useful knowledge about everything and anything?" she queried, accompanied with a rather sly grin.

Nianya's exquisite gaze fell upon Eddick, then, but its playfulness turned more grave. "You bring ill news, druid. We fine citizens of Calimport are certainly not unfamiliar with the mechanizations of the Mad God, but, while the ever-growing strife threatening to turn the City of Glory into that of Chaos would no doubt please him greatly, I have heard of no plots so expansive escaping his temple. While the mud brick walls of the drudachs and sabbans do well to cloak sound, Cyricists rarely exhibit the necessary astuteness of endeavor to prevent theirs from echoing.

"Tell me of these Phantoms-turned-men, if you would. From whence does their spookiness reside?--excluding afore-mentioned associations, of course."


Last edited by Ao's Boss on Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:40 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:58 pm

Elric shook his head in annoyance. Ever since they entered this city they'd been on edge. Who do you trust, and why? He was used to dancing around opponents, but not topics. All this talk of phantoms and ghosts was stupid. They traveled with a minotaur in Plate mail! Did the others 'really' think they had gone unnoticed? If their enemies were still here, there was no point to dancing around with metaphors and subtleties.

He trusted the bard. He didn't know why, probably because she played his song. He'd never heard it on a lute before... but it sounded good. He was smart enough to know that was a neat bit of manipulation. It worked. It caught him off-balance and he hadn't quite recovered yet. Neither had Gwilly from the talk at the table.

"These priests," he refused to speak in riddles, "have been terrorizing the lands north of here. Most of Tethyr to be honest. They kill people and carve a magical... something on their chests. The first guards or priests to see it go evil. They dress in armor made of shadow and weild shadowy daggers." He told the tale plainly as they had many times to guards, priests, everyone who would listen. The half-elf had truly hoped that word had spread further. The priests of Lathander had no idea what they were talking about and that upset him a bit.

"Have you really heard nothing about this?" he asked with obvious bitterness in his voice. Maybe he should have put it in a song?
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:09 pm

Ashara felt a surge of nausea roll over her, and she shuddered visibly as she thought of the priests of Cyric, their grisly calling cards, and the curse they were spreading. It had been nearly a year and a half since she herself had fallen victim to the curse, and though progress had been made, she still awoke in a cold sweat nearly every night from the memories.

The Harper in Elbencourt told them that priests were being targeted. How in character it was for the Prince of Madness to target those that people felt they could trust most! During the Champions visit to the temple of Lathander, it was disappointing, but not surprising to find that the priests cast such a suspicious eye on her. Then when Nianya had explained in the commonroom that one of the priests of Lathander had killed his fellow priest in the temple, their icy reception had made even more sense. So much damage had been done... The injuries Calimport had sustained would not be fatal as long as the foreign body that was causing the infection could be removed, but no amount of magical healing could close those wounds. Once the offending priest or priests were found, the city would have to have time to heal on its own.

Four more of the Cyricist assassins left, and likely at least one was here. She understood the bard's caution while they were speaking in the tavern, especially considering the volatile nature of the atmosphere. However, now that they were alone in this cramped room, with magics in place to prevent eavesdropping, Ashara didn't want to play any more games. Judging from the irritation that was emanating in waves off of Elric, it seemed he felt the same way.

Hopefully some answers would be forthcoming. The Champions needed a direction, and she hoped this alluring bard would be able to provide them with one.

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Nianya

Post  The Sub-Creator on Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:15 pm

Grim images defiled her thoughts as Nianya listened intently to the strong-man's tale, but she expertly hid them behind an intrigued visage. When he wrapped it all up acridly with his question, she replied curtly, "What a pleasant way of informing me how awful I must be at my job." She flashed him the mockery of a grin, and bowed deep at the waist. "I humbly request forgiveness from the strong-man for failing to recover information that I assure you has never passed the gates of Calimport. I shall endeavor to become better at deciphering silence that may hold hints of dark secrets for when you next visit, sir." She remained at the bow's lowest point throughout the length of her short speech, and when she swept back upward to rest back against the wall, her countenance had quickly shifted to that of reflection.

"Your gruesome exposition holds some merit with happenings within the City of Glory, however. Thrice have a pair of bodies with markings as you describe turned up, though the circumstances of their surroundings seem different than what you describe in the north. Twice, the guard fell upon them in abandoned structures: the first nearly six months ago in the Shackles Ward, Quibal Sabban, Biteq Drudach, across the way from The Beacon of Battle; the second five ten-days later in the Quill Ward, Jhaapir Sabban, Jhalal Drudach, next to a small ink maker and supplier named Eli yn Estaar's Inks. In the former case, the Amlakkar were alerted to those within by muffled sounds emanating from a third floor window--sounds produced by two others yet alive within the room with the dead.

"The latter case proved more interesting, of course. The Syl-Pasha secretly released his Farisan into the streets to conduct a one-night, city-wide search of all abandoned structures. During the course of their search, the bodies--two living, to dead--were discovered in the previously-mentioned location, but this time were not alone. The first faris to note them died after calling his companions to the room, neck slashed and heart impaled simultaneously by what could only be described as a master assassin. The others saw only enough of the killer as to describe a form cloaked in black before the figure magically vanished before their very eyes. No descriptions of weapons, facial features, or other distinct objects could be verified. Officially, the wounds inflicted upon the dead faris were from a dagger."

Nianya slowly picked at the lute strings while she spoke, filling the air with dark notes that emphasized the dark nature of the news she conveyed. "A young, devilish rogue named Ali yn Fudar abd Maris stumbled upon the third pair of victims only a short month ago, this time unaccompanied by the living. Our stealthy hero walked in the shadows of the streets that night through the Crypt Ward, Kiruk Sabban. To this day, none know why, save for the reason spoken by his own lips: 'I am an adventurer, sir,' he told the inquisitor afterward, 'and I wandered in search of adventure.' Perhaps it was for your sakes that he found himself hidden amongst the darkened streets that night, hm?" She strummed a few high notes in rapid succession, heightening the mystery inherent within her own question, then paused briefly. The dark, methodical melody began anew. "Alas, I get ahead of myself now. Forgive me," she begged.

"As he crept along, unnoticed by any, Ali spied a shadowy figure entering an abandoned structure near the Field of Mausoleums. His curiosity peaked, our hero followed the figure through a hidden entrance into the Muzad--the foreboding undercity to Calimport, where many nightmares stalk freely those who brave its twisting maze-work of corridors, chambers and recesses. He nearly lost the figure there, but 'guessed correctly'--his own words, and silently came upon the dark one busy at work upon a victim's chest. Ali swept into the room on feather-light feet, determined to make a swift end for that one, but the figure perceived the foreign presence in the room. Without so much as a look back, the 'black-cloaked phantom'"--she regarded Elric apologetically, as if meaning no offense with the description--"again, his own words, not mine, plunged the dagger into the heart of the victim whose markings were but half-complete, and quickly painted a red smile on the second poor victim who laid beside the first with work already done, before vanishing once again into nothingness. Sadly, both perished, as Ali had no way of saving them."

Nianya's eyes scanned the room, stopping briefly at each of its occupants just long enough to ensure she had their undivided attention. "Four days later, poor Ali disappeared. To this day, none know whether he walks upon the ground or lays buried beneath it. A thorough search of the Muzad beneath the Crypt Ward, in and around the location provided by Ali yn Fudar abd Maris, took place in the days immediately following, with nothing else turning up as to the dark figure's whereabouts. Unfortunately, Ali proved unable to give any accurate account of the cloaked one or any objects being used.

"I can tell you that no magic was detected in the markings, but I have heard of none trying either," she finished, synchronously silencing a drawn out, dramatic note she had held on the lute in the last moments of her tale.


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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Tue Nov 03, 2009 9:57 am

Unbelievable. What type of charm did this bard have over the others. Sure, she seemed nice enough, all in all, and she really did seem to want to help.....If he could somehow focus his magic, that might be enough to get past the Shadow Weave's natural resistance....It was hard to believe that nothing of what they had been telling others about this curse had reached a major trade city like this so called City of Glory. The word had been spread all the way across the south. At least he thought.

Ah yes, strange bodies found with unusual markings on them. That sounded about right and strangly par for their course thus far.....maybe if he were able to channel the Weave through the right quadrant and infuse a secondary through the circle of, no that would only cause a brief influx of power and certainly nothing that would prove successful....Those guards were probably already under the spell, at least one of them. Oh look, the city has it's own "adventurer". How quaint.

The arrival of the bodies, those months ago probably coincided with the start of the "open murders", he would have to clarify that....There has to be an answer in the resistance of the Shadow Weave itself. It was similar enough to the Weave that things could be done with both that were nearly identical, only it was almost excately opposite. Where the Weave was bright and colorful and full of life the Shadow Weave was dark and oppressing and full of things that would give Elminster nightmares.....The finding of more than one at a time was interesting though. Perhaps there was more than one of these foul priests at work. Possibly, but these priests are skillfull enough to do more than one. Would the curse be activated if someone already affected by it look upon a body for the first time? They would have to assume not. That would most likely be the safest course. Assume that there were more under the spells influence than the bare minamum. It was probably safe to assume that more bodies had been marked that hadn't been found yet, at least officially. A city this large and crowded, a body could lie in a gutter somewhere and rot or be carved up for food well before the guard could find it.

So their hero had vanished. Again not suprising. He was the first to find a body, and the way the "phantom" had painted a smile on it's face was a sure way to make this Ali look. He was probably deep into the affects of the spell and helping to leave bodies in the street.....Opposite, opposite, there was something in that phrase that kept tugging at his mind. The Shadow Weave was opposite the Weave....Yes, the hero had found the body and not suprisingly, no magic had been detected in the markings. Again, par for the course. The spell had been activated and it's reciepiant was maliciously unaware of it's presence. That no one had even attempted a spell on these bodies was hard to believe. The presence of those markings would strongly hint at spell craft or a ritual of some kind.

Therogeon sighed softly as the last note the bard played slowly faded into silence, "I thank you for your information young lady. And I regret to inform you, your 'hero', this Ali yn Fudar abd Maris has fallen under a powerfull curse and is now probably committing some of these murders that are plauging your city.

I find it hard to believe that no magic had been attempted on these bodies after their discovery. The markings would suggest a spell or ritual and one of the first things the official would do is try and discover their meanings. It is more likely that since no magic was detected, nothing was said or done about it. No, there was magic involved, powerfull magic that naturally hides itself from detection by normal means." Therogeon stood up and stretching slowly, leaned back against the bed, his hand still lightly, casually resting on his tiger hilted dagger.

"A couple quick questions, if you please. First, is what you told us true as far as you know it? Second, can we trust you to not betray us should the oppertunity arise. And finally, are you willing to use what means available to, in way expected and unexpected, to aid us in freeing your city from this curse that affects it,"

He held up his other hand, not the one on the dagger, to forstall her from speaking quickly, "You do seem trustworthy, though I do not know why and my family here seems to trust you. I apologize for my earlier comments and questions. But before you answer, you need to know a few things. Your city is under seige by a group of priests of the mad god wielding a powerfull form of magic that was first discovered centuries ago. It has been mostly unheard of since then, but has definitely made a strong reappearance. This magic is naturally resistant to spells by those who weild Mystra's arts or even priestly spells.

These bodies are marked in such a way that the first person who looks at the marks falls under their spell. They are made to love slaughter, to love the feeling they get when they take a life. Eventually it becomes such an overpowering urge that they leave everything they have loved behind and become a killer. This is not their fault, it is the affect of the spell, but such is it's power that thus far, the only cure is direct divine intervention, and then only in special circumstances.

I ask for you help, because you seem well...connected in this city. At least you seem to have a good knowledge of what is going on and your skills as a bard would come in handy to help locate these priests. I told you of what we face because it would be unfair to ask for your help without informing you of what you would be up against. So please, answer my questions if you would young lady and we will see what may come."
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Nianya

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:47 am

The bard gave the mage her full attention while he revealed more information about the goings-on in the Realms to the north. This more detailed news of the bodies’ purpose disconcerted her more than a little, and the idea that Ali had become an unsuspecting victim of this vile plot angered Nianya more than a little. The young rogue had supplied valuable networking for their organization, and had familiarized himself with the Muzad moreso than any she knew. Thinking him dead had been bad enough; realizing he might actually have become part of the problem devastated her.

It appeared the mage now permitted her to speak, so she decided to begin by answering his three questions. “Firstly: of course not!” Nianya forced a grin so wide her sparkling white teeth made an appearance. “Silly man, I’m a bard . . . embellishment is my trade. I do not hide the truth; I simply provide it scope. Secondly, I am not allied to you, and so cannot betray you. My actions are as self-serving as your own, and how I choose to use the information provided me is just as much my right as it is yours to use what I have given you. We are a room full of merchants bartering for a better deal, my friend; it just happens that the currency is information, and not gold or silks. Thirdly: no. I do not know why you seem to believe my services available to you in anything more than to garner information about the city that you may find valuable, but I have not, in any way, entered a pact to help you in whatever goals you may have set for yourselves, and, adversely, have not requested any assistance from you. Let me reiterate for you: I am a bard, friend. Gathering and distributing information is what I do.”

Again, she smiled at him, and those brilliant amethyst eyes sparkled brightly. “I trust that answers your three questions more than admirably, yes? Now, as to whether magic was used on the markings: I explained that none was used to the best of my knowledge. That hardly means that someone hasn’t tried, just that no one has tried that I know about. Why a madman’s twisted desire to carve up a victim’s torso with random markings from a dagger should compel one to use magic detection upon them seems hardly apparent to me. Certainly, they are ritualistic, but magically? Not at all. In a city this size, all kinds inhabit it. Of course, it strikes me as entirely possible that others may have thought along the same lines as you, but I’ll say again, I have not heard of such arcane investigations occurring.”

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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:51 pm

Therogeon smiled grimly, "Information is all we seek though that itself has it's risks. Two of the priests will no longer inflict their curse on Toril and the others are not likely to look favoribly upon any they think give us aid."

He turned to his friends, "Straight from the mouth of the bard we have confirmation that at least one of the priests is here in this city. A city this large though there might be more than one. I am not able to accurately detect these priests at the moment. However may be another way. If we can find someone who is infected with this curse I may be able to come up with something that can trace it. Not to mention, now that I know more about this shadow I may be able to see something that allows me to break the spell upon them. At the very least, it would get one of them off the street and not killing. The only one we know for sure is this local hero, Ali. I think we should look for him first. What say you all?"
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Ashara

Post  Penelope on Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:29 pm

"Four days later..."

The bard's words resounded within her mind as a jarring chord. It was four days after seeing the markings on the Telchar's chest that she had lost her connection with Lathander and truly began her descent into madness. Four days. There was little hope for Ali now, but that they could find him and hold him until a cure could be found. But how? In a city this large?

PAIRS of bodies were now being worked upon regularly. It seemed the priests of Cyric had nearly perfected their dark craft. Back in Elbencourt, where they had encountered the first of the priests, the bodies of both Garris and Vaeryan Hart's guard had been cut upon in this specific way. The killings, being within a half hour of each other and in two separate rooms, was shocking at the time. The speed at which these assassin priests were working now was disturbing...

The report was that when the second murders had been found, the killer cloaked in black had 'magically vanished before their very eyes'. They had seen such before. In Dagadar with the dwarves. The shades as King Haedrick had called them. He said they had the ability to step through shadows. Is it possible these priests could do it as well? Had the Champions actually seen it happen before? She couldn't remember now... She remembered seeing it through the memories of the dwarves, but were any of those memories her own? Drawing her eyebrows together in confusion, Ashara shook her head as if to help jostle the truth out of the tangle of recollections in her mind.

Nianya also mentioned that during this second episode, there were TWO voices that could be distinguished in the room with the bodies. Could it be that some of the priests were working together?

She was pulled from her thoughts as Therogeon addressed the Champions. Watching Nianya's reaction, she gave the mage her opinion. "We have been told that one of the priests was seen about a month ago, though whether he is still here has yet to be determined. I agree that finding Ali yn Fudar is likely our best opportunity for learning information if you would be able to break this curse on him. I doubt that will be an easy task though. To find a rogue bent on murder in a city this large, who is more familiar with its secrets and its people than we could ever hope to be? We will surely need support in the search. He does need to be found, however. Both for the benefit of this city and so that he might be saved before something more tragic befalls him." The priestess' hands clenched together so tightly in her lap that the knuckles turned white. "He is not responsible for his actions...", she whispered weakly. "It is also possible that the Amlakkar and the Farisan that discovered the bodies during the first two incidents have been affected by the curse as well. Perhaps it would be worth checking if they are still performing their duties, or have also disappeared."

She turned her eyes to meet Therogeon's gaze. "The idea of tracking down the daggers also needs to be discussed at some point. Perhaps enough information has been learned from your earlier experience today to accomplish that."

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Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:43 pm

Elric shook his head sadly. He knew Ashara had personal stake in wanting to find the cursed man, but the half elf wasn't sure it was the best route. "The priests are the main threat. While we track down this man, who knows how many more will be infected? What do we do if we find him or others like him? We can't just send Eddick fishing and stack these victims like driftwood. We can't turn them in the authorities... They wouldn't accept the "Its not they're fault" defense... Certainly not here! I don't think we have the luxury of watching them day and night either. The priests are getting better at this... things are moving too fast now."

"Therogeon..." He turned his attention to the mage. "You need a test subject? What are you actually trying to do? You can't dispel the daggers, because they were created by the Chaos magic right? But the curse is more of... Corrupting what is already there right?" Elric got up and started rummaging through one of his bags. After a moment he held up a familiar item. The Gem of True Seeing that had served them so well until it was corrupted by the shadow magic in the fight with the Shade. "What about this? It wasn't created with the chaos... it's magic was corrupted and changed. Can you use this as a test subject. One that... probably won't try to kill us all?"


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Nianya

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:01 pm

Nianya had begun strumming on the lute again as the companions discussed their thoughts before her. When the strong-man spoke about this chaos magic, however, and pulled the gem from his bag, the fledgling tune unconsciously halted. "Chaos magic?" she repeated, leaning forward to examine the gem with her own trained eye. "And how might the gem have been corrupted? Now, friend, it's you speaking in riddles."

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Elric

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:14 pm

Elric looked back at the bard. Sometimes he forgot not everyone around him knew the whole story. "Riddles? I don't do riddles." Elric respond with mock indignation. "It's magic that isn't magic." he said with a slight smirk.

"It's all tied together with the carvings of Cyric. We've also found connections to Shar. It's what's causing the curse, and at the same time why it can't be detected normally. Something new, or very old, that is neither Priestly nor Arcane. It's been called Chaos magic, Shadow magic, and Anti-magic. When you spread the word as far you can, please feel free to use whichever term rhymes the best."

He hooked his thumb over towards Therogeon. "That's the extent that I know, If you want more details... ask the magic user."


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Nianya

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:38 pm

A playfully mischievous smile spread across her face. "Oh, I'm beginning to like you," she professed sweetly. With a casual grace perfected by the bard, Nianya shifted her attention to the finger-waggler. "Care to shed some light upon this new development, master mage?"

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Therogeon

Post  MrPrettyPretty on Tue Nov 03, 2009 7:10 pm

Therogeon ignored the young bard, not out of spite, but because he really had already answered the question of chaos magic. He turned to his friend and held his hand out for the gem. "As for a test subject this would work but not for everything. And there is no guarentee what I learn from this would allow me to break the curse."

He sighed softy, "The curse is a corruption, but not of the kind you are thinking. The corruption of the gem is....was...therotically impossible. The nature of these two magics should...." Or would it. He already knew that the Shadow magic would meld and work with magic of divine origin but it was so opposite of Weave magic. Could it corrupt, a word that in this circumstance meant alter the base nature of the item, something created with the Weave? Theoretically no. Once the two magics merged it should result with an explosion. But what if it didn't. What if there was a way for the two to affect each other.

"This may not work for helping affect the curse, or it might be the answer to everything. I need to study this and I need to think." He took the gem and slid it into a pouch. "As for finding the priests, I don't know if I can. I still think we should find those affected. I still think that is the best way to discover a cure. However.....this," Therogeon patted the pouch he had slid the gem into, "this might just change things. The bad news is I need to look at it. By that I mean, I need to see it with my eyes and my spell. I don't think I have to tell you the risk that entails, or what it could mean."

He looked to his friends, gazing into each of their eyes for a second, "What say you all?"
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