Monthly Archives: October 2007

Magic-Sight

Feldard rolled up the map and looked back to the Siswa captive. “You say that the Rahib captured others – elven maids. Where are they? Surely not in the prison here?” The dwarf looked past where the elf was bound to the cells beyond. ‘No, surely his companions would have checked the prison cells for other captives.’ “Are they being held in the forbidden area?”

“Yes, they are with the Sisters Three now,” answered the Siswa.

“Two of you have fallen, and only one may yet walk freely.” Hasan stood stock still and stared at the paper in his hand. “Merisa … Sylva…know now that the Rahib is slain and I will find you. Rahasia, though the Rahib has fallen, I fear you are not yet free of his threat.”

He folded the paper with painful care and tucked it into his cloak. He then turned solemnly to the task of sorting through the rest of the papers to see if there was anything of further interest, casting “detect magic” from his spellbook.

Miklos shook his head at the cryptic words of the Siswa Hasan and watched as he tucked a note into the folds of his cloak, then start his strange elvish incantation. It was like watching someone perform something hauntingly familiar but with an archaic edge it was studied, almost stilted yet graceful and musical. For want of a better word it was enchanting. He’d never really note Seath’s incantations, probably as most of them were cast in battle and Miklos had other things on his mind. ‘I really must share Dentiata’s spells with him.’ he thought.

Hasan scanned the room with his magic-sight. He saw a tell-tale glow emanating from Feldard’s axe, Saeth’s sword and, of course, Miklos’ wand. Other than the items possessed by his companions, he saw nothing of a magical nature within the room.

“Maruc are there any wards that we should be wary of?” he asked realizing that the priest was back in the octagonal chamber. He called to the others in the room, “There may be cleric guards, wards and glyphs, be careful!” He remained in the doorway as Nicolai discovered the secret door and drew forth the wand, just in case.

Nicolai, silently examined the door and determined that it was both unlocked and trap-free.

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Drawings, Diagrams and a Door

elfmaidens.gif

Feldard, listening in to the Mages’ conversation with the Siswa, paused sharpening his axe and scratched at his thick beard. The Tower was buried beneath the temple? So they’d need to delve deeper through these tunnels; that suited the dwarf just fine. Most likely they’d find a way down if they searched this “forbidden area”. Yeah, it seemed that the Mage was on the right path with his questioning. Feldard resumed his weapon care, do doubt it would find use soon enough.

“So Elf, you say that none entered the area, before the arrival of the Rahib?” That seemed odd.

“Only the clanleader had the knowledge of the area beneath the temple,” responded Lihrian. “He kept it secret from his own people, letting them think that the great treasure of Elyas was lost forever. For standing in the way of their rightful return to power and glory, the Rahib declared the clanleader an enemy of the Siswa.”

Maruc paused in his rites, “The Rahib was a dark priest. It is likely, from what I have heard and learnt that he used the powers of the dark gods to call forth and communicate with the Sisters. Although I would hazard a guess that it would take him some time to subjugate all of the Siswa in the time he had swapping masters from Dentiata to the Sisters. Therefore I’d imagine the the Sisters were already at work when he arrived, else he would have been caught by the Siswa. I suspect that the Sisters were using the Rahib to futher their aims, it concerns me that Elfmaids are required in their rites, it conjures visions of ‘possession’ in my mind…”

Miklos nodded at the wise words of the priest. He passed the map to the Dwarf. “Dwarves are indeed cunning if in truth they created this labrynth, I am impressed. I’ll leave Lihrien in your capable hands, its not that I don’t trust our elvish friends but another pair of eyes might help.”

With that the mage stood up and marched into the library and one of the saddest sights of his life. It was quite obvious that the Rahib’s panthers were housed here, this might have been Elyas’s study filled will tomes of wonder. It was a travesty that the secrets held here were lost. He turned his back on the vision and animal stench and stiffly closed the door. “The Rahib had a lot to answer for, the more I see the more I loath his works.”

Feldard gave a mild snort at the Mage’s passing off of the map and the watching of the Siswa captive. The dwarf with a grumble set aside his axe and re-checked the elves bindings then settled in to peruse the map from an engineer’s point-of-view. The plan was sound, and the symmetrical nature of the temple’s design was definitely more dwarven in nature than elven. But then the pointy-eared dandies had to foul it up with their magicks, putting in spacial shifting enchantments where a well-designed staircase or lift would perfectly suffice.

Miklos had moved to stand outside the cramped study. He saw Hasan scanning some paper on the desk. “Anything useful Hasan?”

Hasan was the documents on the table. There he found on the parchments, diagrams of the elven village and the Temple on Gray Mountain. And then, on the other pieces of parchment were drawings of three elven maidens. He recognized all of them. There was Rahasia, his betrothed, and also Merisa and Sylva, the two maidens who had been taken by the Rahib.

While Hasan was reviewing his findings at the table, Nicolai checked the alcove. There, he found hidden doorway.

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The Rahib’s Study

Finishing his search of the library, Hasan turned to the south door. Nicolai stood behind Hasan and waited with his bow drawn. “Let’s see what we have here,” said the elf as he opened the door.

The room beyond appeared to be a study. It was 20-foot-square with a 10-foot wide alcove at the south end of the east wall. A table in the center of the room was covered with papers.

* * * * *

As Maruc continued his praying, the mage scanned the map. “Who has permission to enter the forbidden area? And why is it forbidden, Lithrien?”

“Only the Rahib may consult with the Sisters.”

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Tower Buried in Ruin

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Still oiling and sharpening his axe, Feldard kept watch over the others to the east and Miklos to the south. This talk of three sisters had him baffled – even with the Siswa’s explanation. He turned towards Miklos as the captive elf made mention of a ruined Tower. “Let me guess, we’ll be headed there after this, right? So where’s this Tower?”

“The tower is buried in ruin beneath the temple,” replied the elf, matter-of-factly.

The dwarf turned back to look to the east to keep an eye on the the other Siswa elf, Hasan, but the elves and Nicolai had their attention focused on a room to the north. The dwarf snorted and kept working on his axe.

As Maruc continued his praying he allowed his mind to wander, he was pleased at the dwarf’s recovery and equally pleased at the blessing that Halav Incarnate was bestowing through him. The more he prayed the more his bond with the spirit of Halav strengthened. His mind drew back to his time in the cloister before the fire; how he looked up to the abbot for teaching a guidance; the long hours of fasting and prayer and the endless chanting and meditative rites. All these things started to make sense now.

At the time he fervently believed the meditations and stoic routine was a form of self punishment, some mild type of flagellation, only now did the ability to shut himself off from the world without and give himself wholy into the hands of Halav did he begin to understand.

Duke Stefan’s power was waxing and the dark forces of the Sons of Night would not prevail. Those dusty old clerics of the Traladanian tradition will fall off their prayer mats when Stefan reveals himself to be the one true God. But the time was not yet right for him to reveal himself. This is what Maruc believed, Halav knew all and was canny, luring his enemies out into the open that he might cleanse them with redemptive power. Maruc had no wish for personal glory but if in some small way he could further the Halavist cause then he counted himself blessed.

…Rahib ordered us to capture the elven maidens to facilitate the return of the Sisters,” he answered.

Marucs gaze swung round to Miklos he wondered if the mage had missed the inference.

Miklos retrieved the map, “Excellent! Thank you,” the mage paused mind racing, “…Lihrien. Do you know how the elfmaids are able to …ah… how did you put it? …ah yes… ‘facilitate’ the return of the Sisters? Do you also seek the return of the power of the Elyan and all they stand for, seeking the path of the Quiet Way?”

“The Quiet Way is the way of the fool,” stated the Siswa. He spoke dispassionately, as if he were reading lines that were written down before him. “The Sisters shall lead the Siswa to restore the Elyan to golden days of old.”

In the other room, Hasan and Saeth searched the ex-library, looking in particular for any surviving books or manuscripts but were unable to find anything noteworthy among the remnants.

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A New Friend

 

“I hear nothing,” said Halav, peering speculatively at the northern door. “While I would hate to endanger our companions’ meditations, I’d rather find something than have it find us. What do you say? Shall I open it?”

Saeth nodded at Hasan. “There’s nobody there. And if there is, we’re ready for him.” She smiled, then glanced back at the awakening Dwarf. “And if we don’t, he should. This is his element, after all.” She remained tense as she looked back at the door in anticipation.

“Right,” said Hasan. “Let’s see what’s here.” He opened the door.

The room beyond was lined with barren shelves and some ruined furniture and appeared to have been once used as a library. Now the chamber was in tatters as the Rahib apparently kept his panthers in this room when they weren’t wandering about the temple and surrounding lands.

* * * * *

Feldard sat up. There was still pain, quite a bit of it actually and several of the dwarfs wounds still required their bandages. The dwarf noted the priest had gone back to prayer and tried not to be surly and instead took his axe in hand and rose. Feldard wouldn’t leave Maruc undefended but while the priest prayed he could at least sharpen his axe and keep watch.

As Maruc continued praying for further healing blessings, while Miklos completed his studies and returned to the bound elf.

After casting his own Charm Person on him, he released the captive’s gag and asked. “Well my friend, how are you feeling? I was wondering if you could tell me all you can remember about the Sisters Three? You can trust me my friend I shall only seek to benefit us all and further our aims.”

The Siswa was much more cooperative under the sway of Miklos’s enchantment, although his brains were clearly a bit addled while under the influence of multiple spells and having recently been knocked unconscious when Hasan throttled him during his escape from the Rahib’s prison.

“The Sisters Three are the powerful ancestors of the Siswa. They have come to us from days long past to restore the Elyan to the grandeur of old.”

“Do the Sisters Three have any further protection other than the stalwart services of the mighty Siswa? Do they have any other allies that you have seen?” he inquired.

“I know not for the Three inhabit the ancient ruins of Elyas’ Tower,” replied the Siswa.

“What enemies of the Sisters Three are held in the dungeons of the Rahib?”

“The Rahib ordered us to capture the elven maidens to facilitate the return of the Sisters,” he answered.

“One other thing, could you draw me a map of what you know of the temple? That would be most useful!” Miklos said then turned to see if anyone else had any questions.

“Of course,” he responded, taking the parchment offered from his new human friend.

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The Healing Hand of Halav

“Hmmm… more here than I would have thought,” said Hasan, who walked forward and listened at each door.

Now that the others had left them to it, it was almost peaceful. As he was scanning the now familiar texts in his well thumbed book of arcania he could understand the pressure to move on. Then again just a uneducated glance at the pale dwarf proved there was no swift exit from here. Indeed they were fortunate to suffer the ire of the guardian twice, and live. All they could rely on was the overconfidence of their enemy.

The priest continued his rites and prayers. This didn’t make him deaf though and he mused at Miklos’s words. Maruc was aware that indeed it was possible the commune with souls of long dead people and the sect that he and his friends had embroiled themselves with seemed well versed in the necromantic tradition. The chances were that the elves were right and that their time was short. Especially as the Siswa have not been released from their charm and it seemed that twisted members of their own cult had subverted them somehow. Perhaps even with the power of the Black Opal Eye? But that beggared the question why stay here?

In a fortress teaming with slave-guards and protected by the guardian…

‘Oh Halav’, he prayed, ‘bless us with arrogant foes that they may be too self obsessed to see their weaknesses.’

Colour began to return to the dwarf. “Blessed be the healing Hand of Halav Incarnate.” he entoned and continued his ministrations.

Feldard could feel warmth returning to his limbs and felt the cold chill of death retreat. Yes.. blessed indeed was the healing hand of Halav. Maruc certainly was most devote. He almost had the dwarf a convert.. almost.

“You hear anything, Hasan?” Saeth asked. Addressing the Elf by name came much quicker to her than it had for the other companions. Waiting for a response, she drew a dagger, ready to throw it at anything that came through the doors.

Neither of the elves’ keen senses detected anything beyond the doors.

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Has Anybody Looked In Here?

Maruc, clasping his holy symbol whispered rites over the fevered dwarf as he continued the healing process. During the priest’s lengthy prayers, more than once the dwarf fought to return to consciousness. Feldard would struggle to open a heavy eyelid to view the chanting priest. All that would was seen was a shadow of a holy symbol. Feldard no longer really felt his wounds.. just an unending chill…

Saeth paced irritatedly, knowing that beyond the chamber, their enemies regrouped. “Do hurry, Miklos. Certainly he knows something, but best to keep moving before the time passes us by.” She moved to the doorway, peeking through, then settled in to keep watch while the young mage worked his talents.

Miklos briefly glanced up for his studies to the elf maid he to keep the annoyance out of his voice, “Mistress Saeth, I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but for an entity that is practically immortal you have very little patience. I’m also sure that you would look before you jump. This is what I am doing, release the Rahib’s prisoners if you must it might entertain you for a while.” He returned his attention to his spell book.

“It is not a matter of patience, wizard, but expediency,” replied Saeth. “The time to act is when one is the hunter, not once one has become the prey.” The fact that it was a certain impatience, or perhaps fear, Saeth did not permit to show. “One is not ‘practically immortal’ for long if he waits while traps and ambushes are prepared for him.”

 

Miklos smiled, “True, but we are the invaders here, the traps have already been laid. They may be devising further traps, but I would be quite confident that few would get passed the Guardian and the Rahib. Unless we are dealing with foes who can see through walls or speak with the dead we have time. I do not wish us to suffer necessarily, or avoidably.” Miklos again returned to his studies.

Hasan joined Saeth in fretting about lost time, saying, “I agree with you, Saeth. While Feldard must be healed before we venture far from her, I do wonder if you and I should begin the investigations of the bloody room to the west.” He then approached the double doors to the east and asked, “has anybody looked in here?” and immediately opened them.

Behind the entrance was a short hallway. Double doors stood at the far end. There were single doors at the east ends of the north and south walls.

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