Chapter 6: Out of the Black.   Posted by Raellus.Group: 0
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 557 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Sun 23 Sep 2018
at 21:56
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

Corros nods at the man's tale and smiles encouragingly.  "Turns out digging isn't the best of ideas around here, yeah?"  He looks around at his friends and the admittedly surly orc who seems to have made his decision on who he would like to support.  "We'll try to get you back to some safety, at least," Corros adds, thinking about the gnome settlement as the only real place they can leave their new friend.  "Maybe while we travel your memory will return, or with some rest.  But we can't stay here."

Snarls from the recently-dead-then-not-dead orc draw Corros's attention away from the human.

You can show some thrice-damned respect and answer some questions or we'll leave you here for the drow to draft into their digging parties.  Your choice.  The thoughts projected to the humanoid are sharp and pointed, and leaving no doubt as to which way Corros would be happy to lean.
Raellus
 GM, 903 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 25 Sep 2018
at 00:05
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

Corros senses shock, confusion, fear- emotions he's come to expect as the de rigueur response to the initial, unexpected psychic contact. The Orc's thoughts are confusing jumble of crude language and imagery, thought pictures both literal and symbolic. One in particular stands out, a nondescript creature, lacking recognizable shape or form, like the shadow of a shadow, but huge in physical dimensions, suddenly opens a glowing red eye.

The Sleeper Awakes.

The Orc can sense that Corros is reading its thoughts, this image in particular. It shakes it's head violently and howls, willing its mind blank. Unless the Five can somehow establish trust with the unwilling creature, they'll get nothing more from him.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:05, Tue 25 Sept 2018.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 741 posts
 Human Expediter
 Tegyrius
Tue 25 Sep 2018
at 00:24
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Nicolai steps forward.  For a human, he'd take a knee to put his eyes on a level with his subject, but orcish culture uses different power dynamics, so he remains on his feet with one hand resting on his rapier's hilt.  "We're familiar with the Sleeper," he says in the orc tongue, already regretting what this is going to do to his throat.  "Krŏsh and One-Eye have told us some about it.  What has happened since we last were their guests?"
Raellus
 GM, 904 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 25 Sep 2018
at 05:02
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

At the mention of Krŏsh and One-Eye, the orc stops his carrying on. He looks flabbergasted. The already swart-eyed creature squints, studying the Ardani hard, then looks at the others, each in turn.

He slowly reaches for his own neck, grasps a leather thong, pulls it slowly up, revealing a familiar totem- the Five have one of their own. Nic draws it from Ulfgar's Bag of Holding, holds it up so that the orc can see it.

"You are... were, friends of the Skullbusters." the orc declares in his native tongue. "But how can I trust you now? The diggers returned," he says, rather accusatorily. "They roused the Sleeper. And I find you here. Why? What are you doing here?"

Anticipating that his saviors- or captors, he's not sure which- might ask him the same thing, he continues, "I was sent to check on the mine. We heard rumors that the digging had begun again, and One-Eye's visions returned."

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 05:04, Tue 25 Sept 2018.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 742 posts
 Human Expediter
 Tegyrius
Fri 28 Sep 2018
at 20:01
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Nicolai nods.  He expected this and is more than ready to throw Balefyre's city leaders under the wagon.  "We're here because people didn't listen to us last time and their digging is causing problems again.  Perhaps we didn't kill enough of them to make the point."  He frowns.  "Also, after the last time we met Krŏsh and One-Eye, we were trapped in another set of tunnels."  He makes an ambiguous wave at the surrounding walls.  "Time flowed differently there.  We were underground for a few hours, but when we returned to the city, months had passed and our warnings had been forgotten."
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 558 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Fri 28 Sep 2018
at 22:03
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

"Well this keeps getting better," Corros mumbles, following the translations as best he can from Nic's mind.  The warlock wishes he was surprised at the orc's revelations.  But warnings from missing heroes had been no barrier to cold hard coins.  Sleeper or not.  "If the orcs are still fighting the sleeper, we're on the same side.  But we've got a problem, because the Sleeper is awake.  Not waking, yeah?"

They've got a "Weapon" and they've got a "Sleeper" to deal with.  "Do we get this guy back to shallow tunnels and let him go?  Send him home to tell Krŏsh that we're on it?"  Corros would really rather not have a war party of orcs down here to contend with as well as all the other hostiles they've seen lately.
Raellus
 GM, 906 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 25 Dec 2018
at 22:15
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

The companions are gathered around a small campfire in a subterranean grove. Instead of trees, stalagmites; instead of shrubbery, clusters of footstool-sized mushrooms that glow blue and red. Cold, clear water runs down a central floor-to-ceiling stalactite, collecting in a round central pool which empties into a small stream that exits the chamber through a floor shaft in the corner. The grove's caretaker is a Tiefling druidess named Ladresa. Despite her demonic ancestry and somewhat unsettling visage (including a pair of curling, ribbed, ram-like horns), the druidess is quite attractive- smooth, ebony skin, midnight black hair, and blood-red eyes. Her sharp, yet delicate facial features are arrayed with nearly perfect symmetry. Her contralto voice is uncommonly deep, yet pleasingly mellifluous.

"The complex above is ancient, so much so that these caves are young by comparison. The Elder Race of Men built the vaults to contain a powerful weapon of some sort, however, its exact nature is still unknown to me, nor do I know why it was abandoned.

"Most of these caves didn't exist when the complex was constructed. The larger caverns were bored out by nesting Purple Worms and expanded by collapses and natural erosion as water from the surface found its way down. Over the centuries, various Underdark dwellers constructed their own annexes and connected them with passageways and tunnels. The two subterranean worlds remained separate and unknown to the other until a cave-in created a connection. I have yet to determine whether this was a natural or intentional event.

"I'm also not sure which came first, the weapon awakening, or the Underdwellers' discovery of the containment compound. I suspect the former is the case, as the device seems to call creatures of an evil persuasion to itself. I think that it wanted to be found. Now, many seek the weapon- the Drow, Duergar, agents from the surface- even the brutish and stupid are drawn to this thing. It is undoubted an extraordinarily powerful artifact, although the precise nature of its power is still unclear. One of its abilities appears to be the granting of undeath. Mind control might be another.

"What is clear to me now is that such a thing was entombed for a reason. If the Elder Race of Men could not master it, and feared its power enough to lock it away, guarded and hidden- ultimately forgotten- I believe strongly should remain unclaimed and unfound. This, now, appears an increasingly unlikely outcome."


-

This message was last edited by the GM at 04:47, Wed 26 Dec 2018.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 744 posts
 Human Expediter
 Tegyrius
Wed 26 Dec 2018
at 02:03
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Nicolai sits cross-legged with his back against a moss-shrouded stalagmite.  His hands and a corner of his awareness are busy mixing fresh healing poultices, using some dried herbs from his pack and a few fresh ingredients gathered from the cave-grove with Ulfgar's advice on substitutions.  The better part of his attention is on Ladresa, both her exposition and her appearance.  He's known a few of the devil-blooded before, mainly in the context of his service to the Throne's Reach, where the ones on his side were capable agents and the ones in opposing service were equally-capable and highly-unpredictable opponents.  So the druidess' looks, while exotic, are neither unexpected nor off-putting.  Quite the contrary, in fact, and Nicolai has to remind himself to stay professional.  Purely platonic, hm, Ulfgar?  I'll take that at face value, and thank you for it, and now I understand why Evra has a bad case of green-eye.

"We've some experience with its effects," he contributes when Ladresa pauses.  "We were here some months ago, the first time the undead attacked the miners on the surface.  Ulfgar's told you of the echoes, for lack of a better word, and of the paranoia, and the things in the caverns around it."  He glances at the dwarf and receives an acknowledging nod.  "It's unlikely that common sense and self-preservation will prevail, so in the absence of all involved parties pulling back and agreeing to bury the thing, I agree we need to deny it to them.  Preferably permanently, although the best we can do may be to defer the problem for a few generations the way its original owners did."
Ulfgar Frostbeard
 player, 60 posts
 Hill Dwarf Druid
 Spartan-117
Wed 26 Dec 2018
at 12:51
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
"Aye, we need to make sure no one can use this thing," Ulfgar said, in general agreement with the Ardani.  "That said, I think we must learn much more about it in order to do so.  Perhaps it holds the means to its own destruction?  Or at least some magical ability to that we might use to bury it again?" Frostbeard added in a speculative and somewhat unsure tone.
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 560 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Wed 26 Dec 2018
at 18:30
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Corros sits on the ground next to Jenna, leg brushing up against hers.  There's no point in pretending he doesn't take comfort in her presence anymore.  Talk of ancient weapons, another race of men, and the denizens of the Underdark combining in the local area is unsettling enough.  The fact that the said weapon can bend minds as well as time is just plain not good.  Still, the group is going to have to piece the puzzle together and figure out how to take this down.

"So is The Sleeper the weapon or are they two different things?" Corros asks looking at Ladresa.  She's attractive enough, for sure, but the warlock has enough self control not to leer or stare long enough to make Jenna uncomfortable.  And the part-demon thing is a bit of a deal-breaker in any case.  The Library whispers all kinds of not-so-great things about demons in his dreams on a regular basis.

"And we need to figure out how to contain this thing before we make a grab for it.  Given the mind-fuck it hit us with before, I'm not positive we can hold off its effects for long."
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 579 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Sun 30 Dec 2018
at 22:40
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Jenna sat, next to Corros, enjoying his closeness, the proximity of his leg to hers. It was a simple thing, really, innocent enough, but it brought her pleasure in this strange and dark place. She was unsure about the druidess, for her demon born heritage was obvious, yet it seemed that her cause was the same as theirs.

"Even entombing it again may not suffice." She said quietly. "For if it is known that it is here then surely others will come, and others after them, until, eventually, someone claims it. I think we shall have to destroy it."
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 745 posts
 Human Expediter
 Tegyrius
Tue 1 Jan 2019
at 00:53
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Or we could kill everyone who knows about it, Nicolai sends to Corros privately.  The thought is tinged with the bitter self-awareness of gallows humor that, deep down, isn't entirely said in jest, even though it's a really bad idea for many reasons.

He crumbles another few dried hensbane leaves into the mortar in front of him and carefully wipes his hands on a damp rag.  "Then we need more information on the Sleeper.  And the weapon, if it is a separate power.  Entity.  Thing."  He nods to Corros.  "Any thoughts on options there, apart from capturing a senior ranking drow and convincing her to tell us everything she knows?"
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 561 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Tue 1 Jan 2019
at 17:00
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
"Our departed mind-flayer 'friend' gave us an option that we can use if we find The Sleeper," Corros pats the satchel on his side.  "The creature had a scroll that we can use to bind The Sleeper into a perfect diamond, which we also have.  So that's good, yeah?  The bad is we have to figure out what to do with a bound entity which is going to be powerful and ancient.  I'm also guessing we will be buying off a portable monster magnet to carry around until we can figure out how to dispose of the thing."

Corros swallows. "I'm all for destroying it, yeah?  But somethings tend to resist being destroyed.  They transcend those kind of things.  We should still try.  Even getting it bound and removed from here will go a long way towards making things better.  Maybe our undead friend back in the city has some ideas.  Awkward as that conversation would be."

"As far as finding The Sleeper, I'm not sure yet that anyone knows exactly where it is.  We have a general idea.  Maybe back at the bones.  But even with this scroll I'm not sure I can call it forth.  Not without its Name.  Not without standing near it.  So we either shadow the other groups and hit them after they find it, or we join the random search."

Finally the warlock turns to his lady love.  "Jenna love, can you follow the evil this thing represents?  Sense any kind of power it radiates?"
Raellus
 GM, 909 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 1 Jan 2019
at 17:18
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

Ladesra interjects, "I believe that the Weapon, the Sleeper, and the Dark Heart, as the Drow call it, are all the same artifact. Unless someone has already found it and moved it, or the floor has collapsed out from under it, the artifact is most likely still up above, in a containment chamber of some sort, built and forgotten by the Elder Race in ancient days."

-
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 580 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Wed 2 Jan 2019
at 22:57
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
"I can try." Jenna said softly, her head turning towards Corros, her blue eyes meeting his. "I can...ask...Arma...I mean...I can pray....and ask Her a question...and She will answer." She's hesitant, there's no question of it. "At least I think I can. I mean, I've never done it before. Spoken directly to Her like that. I've prayed to Her, of course, prayed to Her since I was a child, but this is different." Hesitancy is giving way to apprehension. Jenna was nothing before Arma. Did she dare to reach out to Her like that? At the Cloisters it was only the highest ranked among the faithful that could so such a thing. But Jenna could feel her link to the Goddess, knew that it was so much more powerful than it had been when she had left the Cloisters. But, still, could she do such a thing?

She looked away from Corros, to address the group in general. "If I try to speak to Her I can only ask Her one question. What should I ask Her? It has to be something specific."
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 562 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Fri 4 Jan 2019
at 01:35
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

Corros rocks back a little and closes his eyes.  He can see that Jenna is uncertain, but he believes in her and her power.  "Perhaps," he says finally, "She can show us the way forward.  If there is a hidden path, maybe She can reveal it.  Or tell us where to begin.  I mean, we know it's above us, yeah?  But that still leaves an awful lot rock and cave to go through.  And time is probably in short supply if half the Underdark is after The Sleeper."
Ulfgar Frostbeard
 player, 62 posts
 Hill Dwarf Druid
 Spartan-117
Fri 4 Jan 2019
at 10:11
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
"If it is a Weapon, then perhaps there's already interest on her part.  I can tell you that if there was a black rhino up there, my Archdruid couldn't stop rattling on about it if I opened up link to him," Ulfgar said, referring to an endangered species of creature.
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 581 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Fri 4 Jan 2019
at 12:52
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Jenna nodded as Corros and Ulfgar spoke. Something had begun to form in her head, a question that perhaps the Goddess might answer for her. The blonde haired Priestess rose from her place next to Corros, took a few steps away from him, not because she wanted to be parted from his presence, but because she needed to focus, could not do so next to the Warlock. She would be…distracted...and that might not sit well with the Goddess.

Would what she was about to do sit well with Arma? Or rather what she was about to try and do? Jenna was nothing before Arma, a mere speck. Did she dare try to speak directly with Her in this fashion? Slowly she sat, cross legged, her back straight as she placed her hands on her knees, palms turned up. She could hear the sound of water, he stream that ran towards the shaft hewn into the corner of the chamber. It seemed to be growing louder as she tilted her head back, her blonde hair falling loose about her shoulders. She was looking upwards, to the roof of the cavern, to the heavens far beyond that, but her eyes were closed so she saw nothing but darkness.

”Goddess…hear me….hear my voice…her my prayer…” her lips began to move, ritual words tumbling from them, words that she should not have known and yet she did. There was a moment of confusion. Teeth chewed on lower lip, biting it hard. How did she know these words? She had not risen sufficiently through the ranks of the Priesthood. Yet she continued to speak, her hair now moving as though of its own accord, dancing. It was similar to what  it did when she channelled the Goddess’s power to toss a bolt of radiant energy at Her enemies. Similar, yet not similar, for its movements were somewhow…fiercer…blonde tresses…whipping through the air as more words feel from her lips. ”Arma, guide us. Can you show us the way Goddess, lead us to where the Sleeper lies?”

Her eyes snap open, stare upwards, pure white, all hint of their normal blue gone, vanquished, her body now trembling, shaking, her breathing ragged. She can hear the water, it sounding like a tidal wave that is sweeping towards her. Somewhere a stalagmite shatters into a myriad of tiny shards. She is speaking more loudly, although she doesn’t know it. ”Show us, that we may do Your bidding Goddess, guide us to it so that we may smite it from this World in Your name and slay the Reaverkind that seek it! Glory to Arma!!!! Death to the Reaver!!!!”
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 746 posts
 Human Expediter
 Tegyrius
Sun 6 Jan 2019
at 16:02
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Nicolai keeps himself from taking a few steps back as Jenna communes with her goddess, though it's a close thing.  His own relationship with the Cofgodas is nowhere near as direct as this, and his own sole visitation with Mórag was more conversational than the invocation of searing power taking place in front of him.  His methods, he suspects from Jenna's own demeanor, are ones of which Arma would rarely approve, so he pulls in on himself to avoid attracting her attention.  Only his eyes move, watching Corros for any indication that Jenna's prayer is going wrong.
Raellus
 GM, 910 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Sun 6 Jan 2019
at 20:22
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

Jenna finds herself in a large, domed chamber. Slowly pulsing ripples of reddish light dimly illuminate the smooth walls. In the very center of the room is an octagonal plinth. Atop the plinth, resting upright, is an ovoid shaped stone, the size of a large melon. It is perfectly balanced atop the pedestal. The stone appears to be made of a blood-red crystal, veined with purple. The stone is emitting the faint, pulsing light.

The Sleeper.

The Weapon.

The Dark Heart.


A rushing sound, keeping rhythm with the pulsing light, fills the priestess' ears. She knows that she does not belong here, that many undisturbed wards, unroused sentries bar the way- she can feel their weight behind her.

Jenna knows that she can find this room, that she'll somehow recognize the way. No map appears in her mind's eye- it's more of an intuition. She understands that this chamber is above where her physical body now stands. She realizes that when the party first entered the shaft leading down from the surface, that it chose the wrong path. Instead of going right, as they did, they should have gone left. That, unlike the tunnel beneath the City of Forgotten Ones, this subterranean construct is not in the form of a loop, but rather that of a finite line.

Jenna awakens in the druid's grove.

-
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 582 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Sun 6 Jan 2019
at 20:35
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Jenna blinks, pure white eyes turning to blue slowly enough for anyone looking at her to see their colour change, the blue like water washing over white sand.

"I have seen it" The words are gasped, her chest heaving. "I was there! The Goddess showed me the way!" The Priestess sprang to her feet, pointed above her head, to the rock roof. "It is above us!"

She moved to Corros, literally grabbed him, by his clothing, the gap between them mere fractions of inches, her face right up against his, her breath a warm caress on his skin. "I know where it is! Come! I can take you! I can take us all!"

The words have hardly left her lips when she goes limp, collapses, fainting against her lover.
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 563 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Sun 6 Jan 2019
at 22:37
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
To say that Corros manages to catch his lady love would be a generous description of what can only be described as a controlled fall.  In her full battle armor, there is an awful lot of Jenna Drax and not that much of Corros Graelor.    The priestess falls against the warlock and he wraps his arms around her, determined to protect her against whatever the world throws against them, even if it's just the force of gravity.  Heavy plates of armor halt whatever squeeze he can offer against Jenna's body and he feels the muscles in his legs burn as he controls the momentum carrying them both to the ground.  Breath explodes out of the warlock in an "oof!"

He can feel the amusement leaking out of the others' thoughts.  Despite the revelation they've just been a witness to, Corros has managed to steal most of the dignity of the moment.  Jenna's face is still next to his, her breath shallow and fast.  Corros can see her eyes are closed in something like sleep.  A few subtle movements inform him that he's trapped underneath the priestess unless he wants to spill her to the floor.  "Little help here, yeah?" he asks the his friends.  His pulse slows as the effort of the moment leaves him.

When they've got it all sorted out, and Jenna is resting near him where Corros can keep her safe from the subterranean hell they've been walking around in, he turns his attentions back to the business at hand.

"Guess she was rewarded for her faith," the warlock says, fingers brushing Jenna's blonde hair back from her forehead.  "Can't say I'm looking forward to dealing with this."
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 747 posts
 Human Expediter
 Tegyrius
Wed 9 Jan 2019
at 00:53
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
"Yeah, maybe she needs to sleep it off a bit before she takes us there," Nicolai remarks.  "Wherever 'there' is.  I do find myself in agreement with you on the lack of anticipation."

He exhales sharply.  "Maybe we can get the golem at the front door to help us destroy it."
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 583 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Thu 10 Jan 2019
at 11:22
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black
Jenna’s eyes snap open. She is lying down, on her back. The first thing that she is aware of is floor, hard under her, cold. But not the rocky floor of the underground cavern. This floor is smooth. She can feel it under her fingers. Stone. She can see a ceiling above her, domed.

She is in the Cloisters. The place that she was brought to as a small child, the place where she learned of the true Faith, the place where she was schooled in the ways of the Warrior, the place where she dedicated herself to Arma.

The Priestess sits up, on the stone floor, realises that she is no longer wearing her battle armour. She is clad in the robes of the Priesthood. White. Pristine. The more senior Clerics of Arma wore grey. Jenna’s armour was grey but she had not been formally accorded the rank within the faithful that would permit her to wear grey, had simply donned the armour of her own accord. The junior ranks of the Clergy wore white robes, but usually they would carry stains, faded crimson standing out against the white, each one marking where the wearer had shed his or her blood in Her name.

But these robes are spotless. The robes of a novice, a new initiate, one who has yet to spill their blood in the name of the Warrior. Jenna is confused. A moment ago she had been talking with the Goddess. Arma had shown her the way to the Sleeper. The Priestess had spoken to Corros...

Corros! Jenna looks around, frantically. Corros is not here. Rationally there is no reason that he should be in the Cloisters. But no one is here. In front of her she can just see a hallway, stretching forward, seemingly forever, pillars lining the walls. It is utterly deserted, no sign of anyone.

What is happening? Where is she?

She blinks.


Jenna blinked, looked up, saw Corros sitting over her, felt his fingers in her hair, heard Nicolai’s voice. She moved an arm, tentatively, felt the weight of full battle armour. Wherever she had been she was back in the cavern now. She sat up, slowly, took a deep breath, looked at her companions. ”I know where it is.” But where had she been? And what did it mean?
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 564 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Wed 16 Jan 2019
at 19:42
Re: Chapter 6: Out of the Black

"When you're ready then, love," Corros says to Jenna with a genuine smile.  "Take your time.  We probably all need to be ready for this."  Something between excitement and wariness wars in his eyes.  Something between being proud and being worried stirs at his heart.  What he could lose if this all goes wrong.  Not just Jenna, but Nic and Grong, and Ulfgar.  Friends and companions that he's never known.  It's a lot to carry.  The warlock shakes his head, trying to focus on what needs to be done even with the risks of being left alone again.

"We need to shut this beast down."