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As Malkyr searches the area, he realizes that there's a carefully concealed door back here. It doesn't seem to be trapped, merely hidden, and he can just barely make out the sounds of a quiet conversation on the other side.
Dredge senses no evil auras, but there's definitely something magical on the other side of the door, the kind of enchantments usually found on adventuring gear.
Lowering his voice slightly, Dredge murmurs "I sense what could well be magical items back there. Impossible to say whether they belong to prisoners, or to someone hiding there. I sense no evil, but best to keep our guard up regardless."
Small magical sparks begin to dance around his fingertips as he keeps a close eye on the door and waits for someone to make a move.
Elven and Giantkin runes come to life from nowhere along the paladin's longsword. I shall lead. If this is a storage room, we've naught to fear, but if it is foes hiding and equipped with magical gear, I would rather be in front, he says, as more runes in blue and red light up around his shield and about his armor, signifying his battle-readiness.
Mal turned to his new companions and put a hand to his mouth, but it may've been too late to quiet them before whoever was on the other side of the door could hear.
"There are people talking on the other side," he whispered, then stepped aside to let Baruk go ahead. "It looks safe to open, but be careful anyway," he added, still whispering, and motioning for Owlgy to back up the half-orc, Mal stepped back a few paces and prepared to fire at anything hostile behind the door.
Nistra nodded in agreement at the signal to be quiet, trying not to draw attention to the large pile of items indicating she recently hadn't been silent. She readied herself, either to bring Bloom out to attack or to turn invisible if needed.
Baruk is able to quickly move aside the boxes and reveal the door. It's closed, but proves to be unlocked. It does prove to be trapped, but whoever got that duty did a terrible job of it and all Baruk receives is a light shock.
On the other side you find another storeroom, though it's rather different from the one you were just in. A large number of very unpleasant things are kept here, some of which hurt your eyes to look at. Most of it seems to be paraphernalia for their rituals and worship of their dark entities, but there are also some scattered bits of more normal things, doubtless taken from prisoners. Indeed, Nistra's gear lies against the far wall, next to an impromptu cage built in the store room and secured with all manner of chains, locks, and magic. Inside hangs a chained Eladrin knight, young and thin with short hair, blindfolded. His armor is covered with symbols and runes, some of which Baruk is able to recognize as relating to Corellon. Outside the cell crouches a human with short brown hair and the clothing of an adventuring mage, busily examining the various locks, alternately talking to the Eladrin and the magpie perched on his shoulder.
The half-orc spits in disgust. This is worst of all. Keeping someone in this place... it is a mercy the prisoner is blindfolded, he says in Elven. Then he notices the human. Human, identify yourself! I will not tolerate any more harm coming to this prisoner, he growls, leveling his sword at the man.
Another human in robes, talking to a bird? Naturally, Baruk assumes he's another cultist
The human glances up at the half-orc, gasps and drops his lockpicks. The magpie flutters into what it feels is a protected corner of the chamber. "You... I? No, of course not! No more harm!" he stutters, staring at the blade while slowly moving his hands above his head.
"I - I'm Jalix. That's my best friend, Wick," he nods up to the magpie, then to the prisoner, "and this fellow says he's Wagneri." He manages to take his attention off the sword for long enough to glance behind Baruk. "Uh, so, er, you don't look like cultists. The scuffle I heard that brought me here," again he nods, keeping his hands in the air, this time towards the only other exit from the chamber, "must have ended well? I hope?"
The human stares into space briefly before answering. "Oh! The locks! Yes!" He clicks his tongue softly and the magpie alights back on his shoulder. Adjusting the lens that's fastened to his headband with one hand, Jalix gathers up his lock picks with the other.
He gets a look of determination, almost glee, as he sets back to his task. "It's almost done. See the tricky transmutation weave sandwiched here under the abjuration? That's gotta be how they got it to emulate cold iron. Just... a... little... bit... more..." he mutters as he works.
Thievery - (1d20+19)
Edit: GAH!! I was so focused on remembering how forum dice work that I forgot to format the post. The roll was a 33, if editing it happens to eat the roll.
Nistra lets out a gasp at the sight, both of her hands clamping over her mouth. It takes her a moment to realize her gear is in the room, and she cautiously approaches it, keeping an eye on the two beings already in the room. She watches the human's expert manipulation of the lock as she equips all of her gear, Bloom appearing and spinning around one of her crossbows in particular.
Adjusting her goggles back into position, Nistra walks over to Jalix, Bloom hovering over her shoulder as though imitating the bird on his shoulder. "Hmmm, yes, nice work there. I've got the next one though."
Jalix easily picks the locks and the eladrin drops to the floor.
Wagneri hangs from the ceiling of his prison cell in abject defeat, certain that his failure to rescue the children has led to their, and his, certain and horrible deaths. A commotion outside the cell door does little to raise his attention, so sure is he that it is just the cultists arriving to enact further assaults upon him.
Suddenly, the arcane bonds holding his wrists to the cave ceiling vanish, and Wagneri collapses to the ground. It takes him a moment to realize that the enchantment preventing him from teleporting is gone as well. Wagneri pulls down his blindfold, not sure what to expect as the door opens.
He spots the newcomers and quickly uses Mage Hand to bring an elaborate quarterstaff to hand, then teleports out of the cage, taking up a guard stance, green eyes blazing.
(OOC: Mikethemountain is on a trip for a few days again, but left me with instructions for Wagneri's introduction.)
As the eladrin arms himself and teleports, Dredge springs into action, not keen on being ambushed by a prisoner. Green, red, and blue sparks dance around clawed hands as he points them in the direction of the possible threat, and he raises his rasping voice to a yell. "STOP!"
Readied action - if Wagneri casts anything hostile or makes a move towards the group, Dredge will cast Chaos Bolt.
Still disoriented, the newly-freed knight takes up a defensive posture, ready to fight to the death rather than face capture again. And if he can avenge the stolen children by slaying a few cultists first, all the better!
Instinctively reaching out to the arcane energies that he trained all his life to control, Wagneri seems to glimmer slightly in the torch-light. Thankfully, before striking out at his rescuers, Wagneri's head begins to clear, and he recognizes that at least these people gathered around him are not the same cultists he faced before.
"YOU WON'T LOCK ME UP AGAIN!! I'LL... YOU...
You aren't with them, are you? Who are you? Why are you here? Are the... the... children..."
Exhaustion takes over, and Wagneri drops to one knee, fighting to stay conscious.
Though Baruk is worried that Wagneri will attack them for a moment, he quickly sheathes his sword and extends his mailed hand, offering to pull his fellow knight to his feet. We are here to free the prisoners and stamp out the cultists, though I fear this is but a diversion from our primary goal. Can you stand, brother knight?
The weakened Eladrin gratefully accepts the kind words and proffered hand, rising unsteadily to his feet and leaning heavy on his quarterstaff. As Wagneri's vision comes back to him, he takes a closer look at his rescuers, and nearly collapses again from the shock! Still gripping his hand (and calling him brother?) is a heavily-armoured Orc (or maybe Half-Orc), hanging back in the shadows is a Drow, and looking ready to burn Wagneri to the ground if he makes the wrong move is an undead Elf! Are these heroes, or villains seeking treasure for their own gain? But if they are evil, why help him at all? Why not just leave Wagneri bound in his cell? The Cavalier certainly seems honest about his intentions.
Insight check on Baruk (1d20+5) just to give me a little RP direction.
Struggling to regain some composure, Wagneri stammers out, "I... uh... that is, um, th-thank you." Taking a deep breath, he continues, "My name is Wagneri Azazel; descendent of the Knights of Iliyanbruen, honoured companion of the Sword Guard of Astrazalian. I was studying some of Ioun's manuals at a small temple only a few days from here, when word reached us of the missing children. I foolishly thought I could rescue them myself, but the cultists overwhelmed me before I could find any of them. I'm... honestly not sure how long it has been since they locked me in that cage."
The eladrin children? My companion Dredge and I are investigating their disappearance as well; this cult was one of our possible leads, but they are not the culprit, explains Baruk. He gives the eladrin a fanged grin. Since we were in the area we... well, I... decided we should stamp out these villains while we had the chance. Suddenly, Baruk chuckles. By the Old One, Ser Azazel, you look terrible. Let us gather the stolen gear and return to the light of day.
"M..missing children?" Nistra's eyes grow wide at the news before looking down at her gear. "I had no idea. I was just here to see if they had a relic that could possibly help me understand Bloom better..." She looks over at the hovering ball of fire that, even without eyes, appears to turn to look back at her. "We owe you for saving us before those cultists could do something like this to us." The gnome looks around at the adventurers. "Let us help you, however we can."
The dark elf slung his crossbow behind his back and stepped out of the shadows. He nodded his assent to Nistra's words.
"I, too, wish to help. I was sent to aid you with the cultists, but if their threat to my people is ended I will help you find these lost children." He then turned to question Baruk. "They are finished, the cultists, yes?"
At this point, the artificer has gathered his tools up, leaned against a wall, and pulled out a tiny ledger. He's alternately scribbling furiously and switching lenses on his headband, glancing back and forth between Bloom and Wagneri.
"Eldritch densities around the creature heightened with distress of the host subject... Low nourishment and extreme immobilization, but little physical damage..." he mutters as he writes. Jalix suddenly looks up, swaps the ledger and stylus for a bottle and a needle with a plunger. After deftly applying the contents of the bottle to the needle, he steps slowly toward Wagneri, his hands raised in a gesture of harmlessness, completely ignoring Malkyr's comment (though probably not consciously).
"Sir? If you don't mind, I'd like to apply this subcutaneously. It will make you feel better and dramatically reduce any dizziness or sleepy limbs."
While waiting for his answer, Jalix turns his head (though he never makes eye contact) to Baruk, Nistra, and Malkyr. "I had no idea either. I'm just down here trying to find the Lost Tomb of Tharan Adal. I've heard –" At this point, though his syringe hand is perfectly still, Jalix's other hand is gesticulating wildly. "– that the Tomb contains any number of still functioning and elaborate arcane and divine traps, built by the three greatest mages of the First Age!"
He looks down at his feet. "Oh, but that's nothing like rescuing children. Not noble. Not heroic." His eyes light up. "But! I have to find something. You lot seem way more likely to stumble across a mysterious artifact than lost old me. And who knows? Maybe... I could help somehow?" He looks back at his forgotten needle. Then askance at Wagneri.
Dropping his prepared spell, Dredge looks around with vague bemusement on his face as the ragtag group each swears their aid to their cause - without even a mention of the reward offered to himself and Baruk! Such honour... he thinks sardonically, with an internal roll of his eyes.
Still, he is grateful for the help - after the run-in with the cultists, who knows what the actual kidnappers could throw at them?
"Well," he says, interrupting the flurry of activity, "once we've looked after our new friend here to ensure he won't pass out during a casual forest stroll, shall we head back? We've killed the cultists and rescued the prisoners and helped the prisoners find their clothing," -he stresses that last to indicate how ridiculous he finds it - "I see nothing left for us to accomplish in these thrice-cursed caves. When is that strange eladrin woman going to meet with Salera? We need to prepare ourselves for that encounter."
He looks around for support. "Unless you all fancy yourselves cave-explorers and desire to traverse the spiderweb-laden corridor?"
We killed their leader outside, and took their fell book. Any cultists that remain are disorganized and without guidance; I should say that this cult has been rather efficiently terminated, responds Baruk. He then turns to Dredge. We will have to bring this up with our employer, of course, but I am not one to look a band of gift horses in the mouth. As Dredge so nicely pointed out, this place was not our primary objective, and we have spent time here that detracts from our investigation. We should return the captives to the Feywild and check in with our contacts; I do not feel the need to go spelunking in this plate armor.
Wagneri leans back hesitantly as the Warforged Artificer approaches him with a needle and vial. A brief moment of concentration proves the substance to be nothing more than a small alchemical healing infusion, something with which Wagneri is quite familiar. Relaxing, he removes an arm-plate from his armour, offering the skin underneath to Jalix.
Finally, Baruk's words begin to sink in. "The children aren't here?" He shakes his head in disappointment. "I nearly got myself sacrificed to some nameless would-be conqueror from the Abyss (or wherever) for nothing? Bah, stupid, stupid... Well, thank you for putting an end to whatever they were doing. Not to mention saving my life!"
Refreshed and focused, Wagneri stands up tall, straightens his helmet, and speaks in his most serious and commanding voice (he hopes), "Though we came here by different paths, obviously fate intends for us to continue on this road together. You have my thanks and my loyalty as long as it is mine to give. There seems to be no further need for us to spend time in these dark tunnels. The cult was my only lead for finding the stolen children; if your employer can help, then I say we stop wasting time and go see what she has to say."
Last edited by MiketheMountain : 08-14-2012 at 02:38 PM.
The remaining prisoners thank you profusely, vowing to give you whatever aid they can should you ever need them and to make sure that everyone they know is told of your bravery.
As the six of you make your way back to Serestal, there's some confusion as you try to sort out those who have gone missing, but notes reassuring you of personal investigations are found to have been left, so it seems that your former companions have not met their end just yet.
Soon the familiar tree that supports the Autumn's Fury stretches over you and you climb up the ramp. The bouncer you beat up last time gives you a glower of grudging respect and lets you in.
The tavern has been cleaned up since you last saw it and the tables and chairs of suspended leaves are once more in their proper positions and filled with carousing patrons. Lleyr, the bartender, waves at you cheerfully as he sees you come in and waves you to a table near the back where you can see Eira and Salera sitting, deep in conversation. Salera notices you first and gives you a wide grin.
"She'll be here tomorrow, darlings. Well now. Most of you I don't even recognize. What happened?"
We stamped out the cult, but once in the mortal realm, our companions found callings more personal and pressing than the children of strangers. These four noble souls you see before you have a desire to see our mission through, explains Baruk. I shall allow them to introduce themselves as they see fit. The paladin looks to his new companions, expecting them to introduce themselves to their contact.
Being their first time in the Feywild, Nistra and Bloom look around in amazement at the wonders of this plane. She almost misses out on the conversation going on between the adventurers and the woman in the tavern, but the ball of fire zips back and forth in front of her eyes, bringing her attention back to her immediate surroundings. "Oh, uh, I'm Nistra, and this here is Bloom. We're in their debt because they saved us from the cultists. So we're going to help them out!"