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Outside of the small inn in Sigil's market ward, the streets hummed with activity. Touts led travelers or every race imaginable up and down streets; locals traded stories with one another in the strange, jargon filled language of The Cage; and a dozen merchants hawked wares brought to the strange city from every corner of the Astral Sea.
Inside the Inn, however, six companions sat around a small table in the back room, looking at a pile of invitations, and the notes that had accompanied them. The invitations are a dark, but radiant blue; like the night sky around the edge of the moon. Tiny diamonds make up the border, and the script seems to have been written in molten gold, so bright your eyes almost ache to read the flowing elven script. Her majesty Tiandra, the Summer Queen, First of the Archfey, Guardian of Senaliesse, Blessed of the Seldarine, the Grower and Bringer of Light; does hereby formally invite you to attend the most noble of parliaments, assemblies, bacchanalia, and banquets: The Court of Stars. The Court shall convene on Midsummer's eve in the palace of Senaliesse
While the invitations all appear to be identical, each allowing the bearer and two guests to attend, the notes that accompanied the invitations are vastly different.
The first note, written on a light green parchment, is addressed to "Lord Aramil Printempest of the Spring Court"
Midsummer is quickly approaching, and we've received our summons to the Court of Stars. I've enclosed an invitation from you in case you're unable to meet us at the estate, and wish to rendezvous directly at Senaliesse. Your sister has returned with Toveliss to the Winter Courts, and I am uncertain if she will be joining us (we will speak more of this face-to-face). I am still not fully recovered from my illness, so you will need to speak for the family. Azula will be accompanying us, but I made need her for other matters outside the general assembly. The guests you sent from Sigil have arrived, and I've seen that they have undisturbed lodgings while they await word from you. News from the Green Court is troubling, so I encourage you to bring the Drow with you.
- Lord Ramila Printempest
The second note, made from what looks to be a sheet of impossibly thin ice, is addressed simply to "Eltain, Paladin of Corellon"
I heard you were in still in Sigil with your friend the bard, and given the tales I've been told of that city, I hope this note finds you well. My wife and I have finally returned to the Winter Lands, but we're preparing to set out again soon for the Court of Stars. Not everyone within the Winter Court will be able to accompany us this year, so we have a few extra seats open, and I thought why not see if you were available to join us? I'm sure Limara will be happy to see a familiar face, and my mother seemed very pleased when I brought up the idea to her (she's the one who helped me secure the invitation for you). I do hope that whatever your business in Sigil was, it will be resolved by midsummer, and I look forward to seeing you there.
The final note, quickly written on common paper is addressed to "Pavick Roslow, Grandmaster of the Separch's Tower"
My most esteemed Grandmaster Roslow,
Although you and I have yet to experience the undoubtable pleasure of corresponding prior to this juncture, a number of my colleagues and subordinates seem to discuss your past-exploits and demeanor with a fervor that indicates no small amount of hero-worship. I have recently been requested by the signatories of the Gnomish Council to operate as their liaison and ambassador at the rapidly approaching congregation of Fey revelers and parliamentarians commonly referred to as the Court of Stars. Given your recent ascension into folklore and legend among some of the baser members of the gnome population, as well as your reported association and close friendship with a member of the Fey courts themselves, I was curious if you would be willing to accompany yours truly as a visiting delegation to the aforementioned congregation of revelry and parliament. I look forward to your reply, as well as a chance to see for myself the abilities associated with a rank of “Grandmaster” among the wizards and hedge-mages of the Material Plane.
Head-Mage, Illusory Studies
Sreenivasa Academy of Magic
This is the continuation of the "Adventures in Sigil" game.
Pavick sets the note down in front of him and leans back in his chair, a sour look on his face. "I don't know whether to be honored or insulted. He obviously has heard enough about me to want me along, and really who wouldn't? But, then he fills his request with backhanded compliments. Hedge mages. Feh!"
Lucan quickly looks away from the invitation. "What does it say?" he asks Lena. "It's too bright to read." Once she tells him, he nods sagely. "We should go," he says. Then he brightens considerably and says, "Can we take the spelljammer?"
Last edited by DSCrankshaw : 10-21-2011 at 10:17 PM.
Eltain leaves the tavern with a heavy heart, his head stooped as he wanders back with the others. He's actually surprised to find Frank waiting for him outside the tavern, and he doesn't ride him, simply walking next to him, half-burying his face in Frank's mane.
"Oh Frank, what have I done? I kept waiting for something to happen, someone to come up with some way to save Shep and keep from giving them what they wanted, but... I should have been the one to do it, shouldn't I? I failed. I've helped devils, and gods know what ugliness and horror will result due to my actions. Even if it was for a good cause, that doesn't erase the sin of what I've done, does it?"
Eltain is too lost in his own misery to notice Frank's near-frantic nosing at him, snorts and angry sounds. Perhaps if he hadn't been, he would have realized that Frank was trying to beat sense into him, that Frank vehemently disagreed with Eltain's assessments of his guilt. But he doesn't notice, and by the time the group reaches the inn, Eltain has let his own inner devils rip him apart.
"Go back where you belong, Frank. I don't deserve you. Maybe Corellon will send you to help some other Paladin who actually deserves you... Thanks for being my friend. I'm glad I've had you to comfort me, but I... I'm not worthy. Not of you, not of Corellon." He smiles sadly at Frank, trying in vain to hide his tears, then shoos him off, ignoring Frank's frantic braying as he walks into the inn. He quickly dries his tears on his cloak, forcing himself to smile. He's immediately accosted by a messenger, and looks at the invitation curiously before reading the note.
His spirits rise a bit when he sees that it's from Toveliss, and that he actually wants Eltain with him. They crash again when he reads that Certhiel approves.
"What does she want with me...? It's from Toveliss, he says not all of the Winter Court can make it this year so he decided to invite me, which is odd enough, but then he says she was happy with the suggestion and was the one who helped him get me the invitation. What in Cor- What in blazes is going on here?" It seems odd that he'd stop himself from swearing by Corellon's name, and indeed, as you look at him, you notice that his clothing, formerly covered in Corellite symbols, has a disturbing utter lack of them. Even the tattoo on his face seems faded, and is half-crusted over with ice crystals.
"Calm, Eltain. Certhiel likely won't make a move against you at the Court of Stars. You're to be her son's guest, and have additional ties to my family. She'd be risking open war by attacking you, and probably looking like the belligerent."
After a pause, Aramil tries to turn the conversation towards something less ominous. "We get two guests each... if Zyrr, Lucan, and Shep tag along, that leaves us with three more, unless the Drow that kept showing up while we were gone were going to invite Zyrr... which I doubt. Also... how long until Midsummer? And take the Spelljammer indeed... will its repairs be done by then? I suppose we could split into smaller groups and meet up at the court, as I will need to go home to prepare if I am to represent my family."
The Shepherd raised a sculpted eyebrow, nursing a cup of warmed goat milk.
"You'd bring me back with you to magic-sparkle-land?" There was an edge in the Shepherd's voice--the Feywild had not agreed with him during his last visit. "Are you certain? I'm afraid I'll be as much use to you there as I was the last time." He leaned in closer, lowering his voice, "It's all the scintillation--I didn't even know that was a word before going there--it's far too bright, and it hurts my eyes. And I have yet to discover why everybody there is so very dramatic."
He leaned back, and sipped at his goat's milk with one pinky extended.
"As I recall, you were quite useful in helping us defeat the Beholder and his cyclopes back then. Besides, every part of the Feywild is different. Maybe when we get some time off we'll take the 'Jammer out and tour the different lands, and you might find a place you like."
Avatar by Strategos
Last edited by Mando Knight : 10-22-2011 at 11:50 AM.
As you look over the letters, Lena sits perched on Lucan's shoulder, looking around the room as she usually does in her slightly spastic way. Suddenly she pauses, tilts her head, and leans down to whisper something in Lucan's ear.
OOC: DSCrankshaw, See forthcoming PM. Also, give me an insight check.
"I suppose you're right... I doubt she'd make a move against me either during. Or before, I suppose..." He sighs. "I'm still a little wary. I am a wanted criminal, after all, in her lands. Attempted theft from a temple isn't exactly a well-regarded crime, even if you didn't succeed. Maybe I should have Zyrr teach me, might as well, maybe I can start a career doing that." He frowns, distressed by how suddenly and how fully he's fallen from his own ideals.
"Anyway. I'd prefer to stay together, but I'm guessing with you needing to prepare to represent your family, you probably want me to go to Certhiel's lands and check on your sister?"
He chuckles at Shep.
"Magic sparkle land indeed. It's a beautiful place, Shep, truly. Honestly, when I first came to your world I thought it was frightfully dull and uninteresting. I suppose what you aren't used to always seems strange and wrong. But I got used to the mortal world, and I'm sure you can get used to the Feywild. There's beau-" He breaks off, looking away. "Well, anyway, you can probably find something you like there if you look long enough."
That sudden piece if advice seemed a bit uncharacteristic of Lena. She was almost acting if she had been listening to someone; and this was the first instance of her ever showing an interest or concern for one if your allies.
"Certainly, Eltain. I'd be happy to teach you a thing or two about the alchemical art of changing somebody else's things into your things." Zyrr chuckles.
"And temple theft? We've met people who had probably impersonated Iounian clergy long before we killed them, I've personally killed Lolth priestesses before meeting you with little consequence and you're in trouble for taking a few holy trinkets? ....The gods certainly have a sense of humor about justice. But it looks like your training will have to wait since I've been summoned along with Aramil. I must have made an impression on Lord Printempest; I do hope he's let everyone know I'm coming and who I am, or it will be a very brief visit for me."
Avatar gladly adopted from Ink!
"Well, I doubt Sehanine actually cares herself. The priests sure as hell did, though. And I didn't actually take anything, I just tried. That actually makes it worse. Also that I was from a rival, but aligned faith. But I doubt Certhiel is going to go to the trouble of getting me invited to the Court of Stars just to lock me up when she could have done that earlier. Maybe I should go, just to see if I can figure out what the hells is going on and what they want me for. Check on Limara, see Toveliss, maybe get some information back to Aramil's family." He sighs. "I should go see Eilistraee before we leave. Maybe she'll understand and know what to do... I assume you're coming?"
Pavick grabs Lucan's wrist. "Sometime soon, I'll need you to tell me how to get a hold of a ... halibut?" He hazards as a guess. "Or whatever the heck they call messengers around here. If guides are trout, I figured messengers are probably some other sort of fish. Am I right? Once we decide how we're going about getting there, I really should contact this person and let him know we're accepting the invitations."
His eyes twinkle for a moment. "Or maybe if we're all splitting up for a time, I suppose I could just research the transportation codes to Sreenivasa and go tell him myself. I've just designed a spell and I really should experiment with it a little more."
"I'd actually hoped to talk to Zyrr alone on the way, Lucan," he shrugs, trying to look non-commital. "But I suppose you can come along. Your healing might come in use if Zyrr's usual assortment of friends decides to show up, I guess." He frowns and looks at Lena oddly.
Eltain sighs at Pavick. "Tout, Pavick, not trout. And no, I haven't heard what they call a messenger around here either. Might just be a messenger."
Sigil is actually famous for it's messengers (called Couriers). Depending on how much you're willing to pay, you can have a normal courier deliver a message, or you can pay for a courier who is magically bonded to the message, so that the Courier dies upon failure to deliver. (Naturally, these couriers take every precaution possible to deliver the message successfully.)
Zyrr and Eltain (and anyone who feels like coming with them),
Again make their journey through the winding streets of Sigil to the temple of Corellon. The normal smoke and fog is slightly clearer tonight, and looking up you can see the distant streets on the far side of the ring. Again, this path is almost identical to the one Zyrr took to the Temple of Lolth a month prior, but one street over (and with a giant wall between the two), is the star-shaped white marble temple of Corellon.
The musical steps sound out the familiar hymn as you ascend the temple, and upon reaching the top you see a similar assembly as before. You still draw a number of strange looks, but apparently word of your previous visit has reached the ears of the temple caretakers, and they make no move to intercept you. The temple is open enough that it isn't difficult to find Eilistraee. She's currently speaking to a pair of humans, but spying you across the courtyard she excuses herself, and walks over.
"It is good to see you again. Last I'd heard, you'd left the city with some Githyanki Pirate. I trust all is well?"
Eltain is unnaturally quiet and withdrawn on the way to the temple, and seems to wince with each step up the stairway. Even more unnaturally, his response to Eilistraee's question is to quietly break into tears, snow swirling about him miserably.
"...No. It's not alright. Can we talk in private?"
The drow looks down at the Half-eladrin, a bit taken aback by his response. "Oh. Well...yes, I suppose. She motions you to follow her, and heads to one of the points of the star, a ways away from any of the other worshipers at the temple. "What seems to be troubling you?"
Eltain bites his lip, takes a deep breath and begins to speak, staring at his boots the entire time.
"I know you have your own troubles and duties you need to attend to, but you're the only one I know here in Sigil and none of the others would understand." He sighs.
"My friends, one of them in particular, he got a lead on where he could find the father he never met. Thing is, his soul had become forfeit to a succubus after he'd failed in bringing something back that had been lost in a shipwreck on the astral sea. She was of course all too willing to make a deal with my friend, offering his father's soul in exchange for the retrieval of the item. I tried to talk them out of it, I tried to suggest other ways of doing things but they wouldn't listen. They went ahead with it, another one of them signed the contract, and... I went with them, to try to protect them. We succeeded, and at least on the way back we were attacked by another group of devils and were able to destroy an entire spelljammer crew of them, but... I guess it was my fault. I guess it was me. I kept waiting for something to happen, for us to go on the offensive. But we never did. We finished the deal and left. I helped devils, knowingly and willingly. How can I be a proper servant to Corellon when I've done such ugly things? How can I call myself a Paladin when I've let myself associate with such evil? I can't. And I can feel it. I've...I've lost my powers. I've tried, But I can't summon up even a twinge. I tried to call Frank back on the way here, but he didn't come. I've failed Corellon. And I don't know how to atone for it. What do I do?!" His face is agonized and tears flow freely.
The Drow priestess looks at him for a long moment. "The first thing you should do, is take care of those tears. Given your nature, they'll freeze on the floor and I'll slip and break my neck." She gives a slight smile to show she is joking, and hands Eltain a kerchief.
"However, to answer your question more directly, let me see if I understand things correctly. Your friend went to deal with a Succubus to secure his father's soul; and another one of your friends put his soul up as collateral as you set about the first task. They made their decision, and you went with them to protect them and prevent two souls from being lost." She arches an eye-brow. "While The Protector certainly dislikes fiends and asks his followers to thwart them when possible, there's nothing specifically in the tenets of the faith that forbids dealing with them.
"As for why you've lost your powers... Eilistraee pauses, and pulls out a holy symbol, chanting as she looks Eltain up and down. "I don't see any indication that the god of beauty has left you."
She stops, and thinks for a moment before speaking again. "For a servant of Corellon to use the powers given; that servant must have faith. You've lost yours." She places a hand on Eltain's shoulder "Corellon hasn't abandoned you, you've abandoned him. You can't use the divine powers because you don't believe you still have those powers."
The drow peers back into the main room, where Zyrr is now gathering more than his fair share of attention. "I should get back there, before some of the zealots of the faith try and do something with our friend." She looks back at the half-eladrin. "You serve The Protector, and from what I can hear, that's what you were trying to do. What you have to ask yourself is, do you still cling to the beliefs of our god? Beauty, magic, music, the arts...do you still revere these things? Do you still feel the need to bring that light and beauty to the dark places of the world? There's no question that Corellon is willing to use you, you must determine if you're willing to serve as his tool."
She squeezes his shoulder, before moving back in the room to shoo away some of the more...eager devotees away from Zyrr.
Lucan and the others actually manage to find a messenger named Salmon.
Zyrr wears his grin openly as he strides next to Eltain, though he makes no attempts to open conversation. He hesitates at the stairway as well, but for a completely different reason; he simply listens to the sounds of people ascending and descending the stairs at the same time, and imagines the sound of twenty people traversing them at once. Cacophonic to be sure, but it could have some music to it.
While he lets the half-eladrin have his alone time with the priestess, Zyrr does his best to keep his hands where people can see him and look friendly. Judging from the looks, his bare teeth are seen as a sign of aggression so the drow has his lips firmly pursed when Eilistraee returns.
"I had a couple questions for you." the thief ventures, waving a flat-palmed hand to conduct his speaking. "First, just to sate my curiosity, did your meeting net any new followers since I left? Second, has Kosalram escaped yet? And could I speak with him if I hasn't? ...Sorry, that's three."
Avatar gladly adopted from Ink!
"Of course I still believe in those things. If I didn't I wouldn't care, I would have followed another path long ago..." He sighs and snows sadly as he looks up from the floor towards the ceiling, rubbing away his tears. "And of course I'm still willing to serve you, father. But I don't know how anymore. I'm not worthy, and it's not as simple as just saying 'I believe', is it? I have to feel it. I have to feel it in my heart that I'm worthy of you, and she's right. I have lost my faith in that. I still believe in you, I still love you, with all my heart and every inch of my soul. But I don't know how to serve you when I can't even believe in myself enough to do anything for you." He lowers his gaze, sinking to the floor and burying his face in his knees.
"You give me so many chances, you do so much for me and all I can do is complain that others don't follow the same codes as me and cry that I'm not worthy when I can't make them do what I want. But I want to be worthy. I want to do more than that. And I will. I will make myself worthy. I will find my way back to you, father. If I can't fight with your power, then I'll use my own. Maybe in a way it's even your own. I can use arcane magic. I know how. I'll use that, then, to prove myself to you. I just ask you to guide me, and help me find my way. Help me be strong until I can be strong for you on my own again. Watch over and protect me, father, as you have always done, and I swear by all the stars in all the skies that I will prove myself worthy of your love." He's stood up again during the speech, and while his eyes shine with tears, they don't fall; and his face is set with a determined joy. Even the snow has, for the moment, stopped, and he goes to rejoin Zyrr with a heart that, if still heavy, is at least rather lighter than it was.