Ongoing Games (In-Character)Play-by-post games are going on in this forum as we speak (well, read). All threads on this board are actual games, so please, only post on a thread if you are a player of that game.
Rumble slams her pick into the skull of the cult's leader, sending him reeling. A quick burst of magic from Dredge sends both him and a cultist reeling, falling to the ground, even as a blast from Tajal causes yet another cultist to implode in a sickening rush of tentacles.
The remaining cultist, now alone, screams an incomprehensible phrase and tries to throw himself into the fire, seemingly seeking to use himself as a sacrifice.
Your Master shall not receive a single sacrifice this day, rumbles Baruk, holstering his lance and kicking Auldfaxe into a charge. He backhands the mad cultist with his gauntleted fist en passant, aiming to knock the man out. That done, he turns to his companions. Let us put out this blasphemous fire and get some answers now, eh?
Figured since the "encounter" is over, I didn't need to roll an attack roll. Reason I didn't run him through is to question him; I have no qualms with ending him afterwards, he is a madman and a kidnapper and gods-know what else after all.
As non-Fey, I can touch the Cold Iron without harm, says Baruk, approaching the prisoners and dismounting. He searches the cult leader for a key to the manacles; failing that, he tries to determine the mechanism by which they are opened.
Dredge sighs as Baruk walks away from the surviving cultist without so much as a thought to securing the captive. He moves in quickly before the man has a chance to attempt escape, aiming a threatening finger at his throat.
The blackened finger crackles with energy as Dredge begins to speak in a gravelly, menacing tone. "Tell me quickly, if you value your life - who or what were you trying to summon here, and what have you done with the eladrin children?"
The leader has a key on him, but it very obviously from the size and make doesn't go to the locks on the chains binding the prisoners; the key is large and crude and rusted whereas the locks are small, well-made and in excellent condition. The Bloodied Leaves, whatever their many sins may be, at the least sell extremely high-quality merchandise. Unfortunately, the quality means it's going to be rather difficult to pick the locks, though it's likely the keys are somewhere in the cave the two cultists that ran earlier entered.
Dredge and Tajal:
The cultist, initially stunned by the attack, looks up at you and backs up a bit on the ground in discomfort, obviously unsettled by the revenant's stern manner and strange appearance. His face twists in confused dismissal.
"Children? Children do not serve the purpose needed for this, the Great One needs older souls, stronger souls! When the Great One comes, she will pave the way for the Ones From Beyond and this flawed world will be destroyed and remade in glory, and we shall be remade as well and rule it forever!" He laughs maniacally, rocking back and forth as he begins speaking in an indecipherable language that almost hurts your ears to listen to. "You fools have ruined this attempt, but we will rise again and the Great One will come and then you will be sorry! And we are not the only ones! Haha no, no, it will happen! You! You understand, do you not? Yes, yes you must understand, I can feel it from you! Tell these fools!" He shrieks in delighted madness, grabbing Tajal's clothing as he speaks, and returns to his insane gibbering.
"They're clearly insane," Dredge announces, not bothering to mask his contempt. "I'd say that we should kill any survivors just to put them out of their misery, but judging from their combat prowess they don't pose any real threat."
He turns to Tajal, curious despite himself. He affects a droll tone as he sarcastically insists, "Go on, warlock, tell us! Tell us of our impending doom!"
Tajal shrugs, giving the cultist a whack with his rod to settle him down. "If there is doom I am meant to know of, I fear I must disappoint you," he says. Nonetheless, he inquires with his patron, or attempts to, about this 'Great One' and if it is a plot they should move to foil.
I can see no keys to these manacles. The art of locksmithing is not something I learned on the plains, or in my days as a squire; have any of you a set of lockpicks and the knowledge to use them that can touch this Cold Iron? he asks. Seeing Tajal and Dredge bantering over the prisoner, Baruk grins. I've a few more questions from him, my spellslinging friends, but after that we can put the man out of his madness.
Dredge shrugs and turns away, letting his trigger finger relax. "Do what you want, just be quick about it. I would love to help open those manacles just to keep things moving, but I'm afraid I'm no more skilled in the arts of burglary than you are. Perhaps I could blast them open?" he asks, a glimmer of mischief in his eyes as power once again coils around his hand.
A familiar eldritch voice whispers in your mind, it's touch like a familiar soft caress.
"The time is not yet right, and these fools know not what they are doing. Find them. Stop them. They oppose us and speak of a terrible being which must not be loosed."
"No! No! But you know of what I speak! You know the entities beyond where the Great One dwells! Tell them! TELL THEM!" The cultist shrieks and convulses with mad laughter as the gnomish female shudders. She looks down at the chains that bind her hands and her feet, and at the others who are all in similar straits.
"I don't really want to be alone out here, but it's almost impossible to walk like this..." The others nod, and a few look at Dredge in horror as he suggests blasting the chains off, afraid of being hurt by the blast.
Tajal shakes his head. "I have no wit of what you speak," he lies, "and I would rather you start babbling about how we free these people, and what stupidity your ilk is up to so that we can visit upon them some... closure."
He eyes the others. "I think it in our best interest to also move to stop these buffoons from whatever it is they are doing; sorcery and madness do not often join hands to walk the path of benevolence."
Bluff to lie: (1d20+13)
Ah, was bound to fail once.
Smiling helplessly at the prisoners for whom he can do little, Baruk turns to the laughing cultist. A man who does not fear death is a dangerous man. But there are fates worse than death. When I lived among the Blackhand clan, the capture of an elf was a celebrated thing. They were reviled by the orcs, and thought undeserving of death by steel. The method in which we sacrificed them to Gruumsh was unpleasant... Perhaps, if you tell is what we need to know, I might be encouraged to forget this ritual....
They don't really have anything of value on them, though you do find a letter from one's mother he apparently carried around. Reading it reveals it to be a desperate plea for him to come home. You do notice that all of the cultists have rather odd features that seem to be somehow... Off, though it's difficult to put a finger on exactly how.
The cultist shrinks into himself as Baruk threatens him, whimpering a little before making up his mind.
"Fine, fine! He lies to you but you ignore it! I will help, then, that he might see the glory of the Great One before you fools kill me and spread the word! Come, come!" He stands and moves towards the cave, beckoning for you to follow.
Dredge discards of the letter, and turns to keep a close eye on the cultist as he ushers the group towards the cave. He follows at a safe distance, ready to blast the lunatic should he make any sudden movements.
I was not done, little man. The oversized key on your leader's person. What does it open? And why were fey captives needed for this dread ritual? Surely human villagers would have been easier to fetch, he rumbles, smirking at the cultist's impatience.
OOC: As much as I would hate to waste good items like Cold Iron Manacles, could we smash them open? I'm not keen on dragging these poor folk into what could very well be a trap.
"The key is for the Great One. She will take it to the glorious island where all lies in wait for the Ones from Beyond and open the gate!" His eyes blaze with triumph. "Then they will come through to this plane and we and all the worlds will be remade in their image." He grins. "Fey are tricksy, yes? They slip between worlds and hide themselves in plain sight! Just the thing to summon the Great One!"
You think you probably could with enough effort, but it might harm the wearer to do so unless done very carefully. DC 23 Strength check to break it, but unless it's done on the chain it'll also need a DC 16 Dexterity check to do it in just the right place to not injure the wearer.
I do not wish to draw you into their lair, but I also do not wish to leave you out here unattended, says Baruk, turning to the prisoners. Elves of the forest! We have done your duty for you and protected your woods. I ask that you watch over your cousins while we rid the realm of these madmen more completely, he booms to the trees. He waits for a wood elf to reveal themselves.
A figure slips out of the trees after a moment, but this particular figure is no wood elf. A slim, delicate drow woman wearing nothing but a gauzy translucent shift and a sword belt emerges from the shadows and smiles at you.
"Well met, brother, and well-done. These cultists have threatened these woods for far too long. Have no fear, I and my sisters will watch over the prisoners while you attend to your business." A couple of the Eladrin sneer at her presence, but one of them breaks into a grin and looks relieved. The cultist, meanwhile, joins in the sneering.
"Bah! Foul dancer! Yes, yes, the foul one will watch your precious little prisoners, let us get away from her and to business! Soon you will understand why the Great One must be summoned!" He spits and starts walking towards the cave.
Dredge raises an eyebrow at the appearance of the drow woman, and especially at the cultist's reaction, but otherwise remains silent. However, it becomes apparently that he is growing increasingly impatient to move into the cave. As far as he's concerned, he's already done more than enough to help these prisoners; he doesn't need to be wasting any more of his time waiting for them to be "safe".
EDIT: Apparently you can't use the word I originally tried to use in place of "raises", there. Technically it contains a bad word, I guess, but it's still a totally valid verb!
The drow woman nods. "It is the will of the Dark Maiden that all who need aid be given it, and I shall make sure that they are protected." She kneels next to the prisoners and begins to check them for wounds.
"Yes, let us go within. Yes yes yes." He grabs Tajal's hand and drags the warlock behind him. "Soon you will understand!"
As you enter the cave, you go down a slightly sloping tunnel for several dozen feet before you emerge into a large chamber. The chamber is magically illuminated with various globes of light floating about seemingly at random, their light a dizzying array of colours that all seem slightly off. Rather than the filthy, decrepit mess one might expect from a cave inhabited by mad cultists, the sight of the chamber takes your breath away. Fifty feet tall and nearly three times as long, it stretches out before you, glistening stalactites and curtains of stone dripping from the ceiling and hanging down the walls, lumpy stalagmites and columns rising gracefully from the floor, and a tiered descent of little pools of water that perfectly reflect the scene above flows down one side of the cavern. You can see several holes of darkness where side passages come off, and in the center is a great altar formed from a massive stalagmite, a great bound tome sitting atop an ornate stand upon it.
There's no sign of the cultists who fled into the cave, but it seems likely they went down a side passage. Certainly there don't seem to be any sort of living accommodations in this central room, or anywhere that prisoners might have been kept. The room seems to have been entirely ceremonial, decorated solely with nature's splendor and a few hanging banners with strange designs on them. The only sounds are the cultist's mad giggles and a slow, steady drip of water from the ceiling.
The beauty and splendour of the chamber is lost to Dredge's cynicism. He advances on the altar, and unless someone stops him, opens it to investigate its (surely nonsensical) contents.
Additionally, if Tajal attempts to read the book either before or with him, Dredge tries to stop him, distrustful of the warlock's possible familiarity with the power the cultists seek to harness.
Arcana: (1d20+9) to identify any magical aura around the book.
Arcana: (1d20+9) to identify any spells or rituals contained within the book.
Religion: (1d20+4) (if I'm allowed to roll this untrained) to identify the true religious nature of the book, if any.