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Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


"Ah, get OFF of me!" the guard as she squirms nervously under Silenna. She initially tries to pull the snake off, but after that leads to teeth pressing into her neck, she freezes. She attempts to remain cool in the face of Arka's questioning. "C...cultists? N...no... Just a few of my friends hanging out. I... I was going to tell them that I saw you at the bar, and how excited I was about it! We just hang out here sometimes off duty since it's close to the barracks..."

Passive Insight (Arka, Silenna): You can tell the guard is obviously lying to you, and even though she believes she is (or rather, hopes she is), she is not doing a very good job of it.

Look Around You fucked around with this message at Aug 10, 2017 around 05:36

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Mortify
Feb 4, 2005





Arka - PDF

"Oh good, that is a relief! I was worried the Guard was in on whatever cult had reared its head in my city," Arka's face distorts into a rictus grin, neither warm nor comforting, "but now that I know you're just out to see your friends," she sighs with mock happiness, "I won't have to trouble you further." <Obviously, don't let her go.>

Arka pulls a simple white linen shroud from her pocket, opening it in a smooth motion before placing it over the woman's head, protest or not. "Now, I'm afraid I don't have any solutions for that snake, so I'm just going to perform the rites before it has killed you; I'm sure Selune won't mind in this circumstance. Try to relax; I am told it is easier that way. Once it is done, I will leave so that you may be alone with your thoughts."

She begins intoning the prayers for sending a peacefully perished soul to the afterlife, embellishing a great deal more than is strictly proper.

"O Great Goddess of Mysteries, I beg you turn your eye to your humble servant. I call upon you, O Maiden of the Moon, to cleanse this child for her journey to the everafter. I call upon you, O Lady of Silver, to open the way for her, that she might pass in safety from this place..." She continues on like this.

Intimidate: 1d20+13 28 - Intimidation via words isn't Arka's strong suit, but hopefully the combination of a death shroud, last rites, and Silenna's fangs will sell the story for her.

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


The guard starts to panic and breathlessly replies, almost shouting, "Okay okay okay! Yes, we worship Asmodeus! This is just a meeting place though! Nothing bad happens here! This isn't where they take them, that's on the outskirts of town... if you don't kill me I can show you where they do initiations at... there's one scheduled for tonight..."

Mortify
Feb 4, 2005





Arka - PDF

Recapping from our IC discussion in Discord.

Spending a few minutes, Arka relays the details from the guard telepathically to everyone in the group. After she is done, she puts forth the following idea via the mental link: <I think we all agreed that deception was our best bet for securing the ring and preventing it from fleeing. I think once we have secured it, we must put a stop to these devil worshippers, to a man. While this will alert our Infernal enemy to our coming attack, it should also weaken his power structure in Toril considerably. In doing so, we may open a large enough gap in his armor that his trusted lieutenants see an opportunity to topple him, and then instead of being focused on us entering his realm he will have to shift his resources to deal with their treachery.>

Merritt Carlisle posted:

: <I absolutely agree. This cult cannot be allowed to continue to exist and continue to harm innocents. I will be pleased to personally deliver justice to them.>

Iada Kilcis posted:

: <Much as I would love to personally break up a cult today, we're on a longshot quest to spoil the plans of several higher deities wielding artifacts of cosmic power; we should take a bigger picture approach to this. Besides, we can get the ring, then let the Nine know about the cult; they should be ashamed enough to have let this grow under their own noses to take care of it for us.>

Silenna posted:

: <"I agree with the Scourge."> The statement surprises Silenna as much as anyone else. <"Let the Nine deal with their own mess. We have more pressing priorities."> Were she on her own, she would have just as soon rolled up the cult in a quick night's work; but they were given a quest by the Overdeity itself. They could not afford distraction.

<We may not have a choice in the matter, but I think we're all in agreement that our first priority is to get the focus for Elminster.> Arka thinks at her new allies, <But I am forced to concede Iada's point; we cannot let this distraction deter us from our true goal, even if it pains us. If our hand is forced, we will deal with them, but we should do our best not to lose our advantage until we absolutely must.>

"Very well, you will take me to this meeting space, but if I sense an ounce of trickery," moving with preternatural speed, Arka closes the distance and presses her face directly against the guard's, her grin turning into a mockery of civility and kindness, and whispers, "I will show you why I have been called Death's Daughter, child." (Intimidate roll)

<She is taking us to the location of the initiation. Silenna and I will escort her. Marcus and Gladys, I would ask that you stay close enough to aid us, but if you can keep the disguise, perhaps we if we are being led into a trap, they will think us easier prey. Iada and Merritt, as soon as we have a better sense of direction, I will send you the best directions I can. I still think Iada's deception is our best bet.>

---

Insight Intimidate: 1d20+18 13 37 32 - Clicked my Insight roll, didn't notice, meant to be Intimidate. My bonus for that is +13 so I've adjusted the text accordingly.

Mortify fucked around with this message at Aug 11, 2017 around 23:12

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Saint Gladys - PDF - Reference

To Silenna's earlier reprimand, Gladys is in agreement with Marcus! <What moments such as these could better remind us of the importance of living?>

Held in Marcus' embrace to maintain their cover, the prolonged kiss has the soft-hearted Saint briefly forgetting why they're here. She feels giddy and breathlessly replies: "We'll be so busy tonight, but Sune has blessed us, that we might spend this crisis in each other's company for a good, long while..." Feeling the need for composure, Gladys channels her thoughts with a bit of, ah, extra warmth. <It is better, in the long run, for the greater good... to confront the devil they worship, as he acts against the Overgod...> She can't hide her sorrow and sympathy, and it pours out for the city! <...I rue to let that cult operate for a day longer. Pray tell us, Iada... pray tell us that if the opportunity rises, and the ring is secure, that if we are upon their hideout already, we shall with the most gracious haste disband them!> It is a polite request, above all else, but there is no lack of passion in it!

Shadowing Arka once again, Gladys shares thoughts of pride with her for such a masterful performance. And she shares the embrace with Marcus still. Quite a convenient physical limitation the Seeming Ritual has.

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


"Yes, I understand," The guard says. "Follow me." She leads you to an old, small, windowless wooden shack on the eastern outskirts of town. It looks as though it was once whitewashed, though only traces of it remain. On the door is a thick, black padlock, relatively new and in good condition, especially compared to the sorry state of the rest of the shack. "I'm... so sorry, but I can't let you in; I don't have the key... but I know that we are having an... induction tonight at midnight. We... they'll all be there for it, even our leader to ensure it all goes to plan, and to greet the new members," she says. "Now please oh please don't kill me!" she pleads as she begins to panic.

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.



Silenna

The serpent offers a slight ease in her grasp as the guard implies her cooperation. For the sake of subtlety, she slides off entirely; a guard marching through the city with a poisonous snake coiled around her body, in front of a well-armed, sinister looking woman doesn't look good to anyone.

As they arrive at the shack, Silenna watches carefully. <"I can watch and report on anyone who goes in; having knowledge of the bodies present might aid tge Scourge's performance. I suggest the rest of you make yourselves scarce in the meanwhile, lest we scare off the cultists before we even see them."> The snake slithers into a nearby overgrown lot; some rustling, and then silence. For all intents and purposes, she is invisible.

Stealth at 1d20+22=29

Wahad fucked around with this message at Aug 12, 2017 around 19:12

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer


Iada Kilcis -- Character Sheet PDF -- Current Combat Block

Rushing towards Arka in her less-than-subtle run, Iada quickly lays out a plan to the rest of the heroes. Meeting with their approval, she prepares to kick the metaphorical door down, putting on her "Bane Face," a mix of contempt, barely-restrained rage, and a dash of sadism. Finding them exactly where Arka said they'd be, Iada approaches. "HUNTRESS!" She shouts, her voice deep and gravelly with rage. Telepathically coordinating their battle, Arka rapidly looses a pair of arrows, allowing Iada to deflect one with her shield, the other striking square in her shoulder. Grunting loudly, Iada rushes at Arka, rapidly closing the space between them, grins, and then... vanishes. Moments later, the last words of a chant fill the air as Iada reappears on the other side of the guard from Arka, calling his eyes and attention to her. She strikes her sword to the ground, as flaming tentacles leaping down the blade, into the ground, and erupting out at Arka's feat. The tentacles consume everything there, leaving a pile of ash and a handful of half-melted coins.

Walking past the guard, Iada yanks the arrow out of her shoulder. Inspecting the pile of ash, Iada casually licks the bloody head of the arrow. "Poison? Bitch." Finishing by spitting on the apparent remains of Arka, she finally turns towards the hopefully-terrified guard. "So... The Hunter of the Unliving, and the Commander of the Golden Lions... are there any heroes of legend whose attention you've decided *NOT* to attract?" she demands, half-snarling.


Bluff check against captured guard: 1d20+29 45
That was an Infuriating Elusiveness followed by a Thirsting Tendrils.

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


Marcus Gellantara, Assassins-Bane, Foe-Ender, Champion of the Moonsea, founder and Arch-Bard of the School of Masks!; Bard|Scholar, War Chanter, Sage of Ages!
Arch-Bard Marcus's PDF
Arch-Bard Marcus's Orokos sheet

<I just want to say,> Marcus tells the party telepathically. <I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship. That was some amazing quick-thinking and trickery, and I say that having centuries of such stories rattling around in my brain. I have a feeling this is going to be a fine addition when it's through. I wonder what we should call this caper...>

His genuine feelings of admiration and respect certainly leak through the link as well, as Marcus fantasizes about what else they can pull in the days to come. He also continues walking with Gladys to a location closer the action. The fantasies make the disappointment of not having Gladys to himself all night much easier to bear.

Mortify
Feb 4, 2005





Arka - PDF

Using the distraction of Iada's tremendous choreography, Arka escapes from the scene of the deception. Leaving behind a few coins to sell her death, she shifts into her owl form to be a smaller, harder to spot target, staying grounded several yards away. Listening closely to the exchange between Iada and the cultist, she is ready to turn the tide of battle immediately if things go south.

Move 10 away, shift to owl form (size: tiny), stay grounded and low.
Stealth: 1d20+27 28 - WELP, hope its still good enough.
Use Stealthy Escape, reroll with a bonus equal to Wisdom mod (+6)
Stealth: 1d20+33 43

Mortify fucked around with this message at Aug 13, 2017 around 23:24

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


#ic channel on discord posted:

Guard
"W-who are you..?" the guard asks, trembling in fear. "And what do you mean..?"

Iada
"Shaxxun Saerbor. And I'm here to put your asses in line. Our Lord is not happy; have you not noticed the people asking around about you?"

Guard
"Not until today, ma'am. I was on my way to report back when Arka... came after me with her pet snake. Is... she dead...? The protector of Neverwinter? Just like that?"

Iada
"Not likely, though she may be, soon. I banished her to one of the upper layers of Hell. Even she is going to have trouble making her way out from there. I should not be showing my face like this, but your incompetence has forced my hand. Where is your leader?"

Guard
"He's... still on duty. It would be a risk to bring him to you at work. You can meet him tonight at the induction though. It starts at midnight..."(edited)

Iada
Iada growls, frustrated. "That will have to do, loathe as I am to spend so much time in proximity to Neverwinter. You had best stay with me; her snake familiar is probably still around, and wouldn't mind a bit of revenge, not to mention you're likely to stumble into that damnable holy crusader the way you've been going. Fetch me some wine, and not the swill you usually drink." Iada finds a nearby log to sit on, and begins angrily cleaning off her sword, making it clear to the guard that she's been dismissed.

Guard
"Yes, ma'am," the guard nods and jogs off to town to find a bottle of wine suitable member of the her cult.

Iada
<Can you all keep an eye on her, make sure she bought that? I don't know why she wouldn't have.>

Guard
[The guard does indeed go buy the wine and heads immeditely back to "Shaxxun", taking about 45 minutes round-trip]

Gladys
<With pleasure!> All the same, Gladys and Marcus will take a trip across town that also includes purchasing a bottle of fine wine to share together. An excellent chance to shadow the guard with about two degrees of seperation on top of the disguises.

Guard
"Here you are, ma'am. Your arrival is most... unexpected. I'm sure that Graenor will be most surprised to see you," she says as she hands you the bottle of fine Waterdhavian wine and a glass to drink from.

Iada
Iada takes the wine and the glass, and grunts noncommitally as she poors herself a glass and begins drinking.

Guard
"I... have to go change for the ceremony ma'am... may I have leave to do so?"

Iada
Iada glares, sips, and nods.

Guard
The guard rushes off and comes back in about 30 minutes wearing a bright red robe and hood.

Look Around You fucked around with this message at Aug 14, 2017 around 02:52

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


There's not much to do at this point but sit and wait. At about a quarter till midnight, a lone person wearing a robe over armor with full face helm adorned with blackened steel horns comes and unlocks the door to the shack. He then turns to Iada and the guard and silently beacons them to him.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

Iada stands, brushes the dust off of her armor, finishes off the wine, discards the bottle & glass, and follows the guard and guard captain through the door. <Showtime>, she announces to her (hopefully nearby) compatriots.

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


.

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


The man, apparently the leader of the cult, stops at the door. "You are early," he says to the guard before turning to Iada, "and you... are someone I do not recognize. Who are you, and what are you doing here?" he asks as he props the door open. Lit by the leaders' torch, the inside of the shack looks like a small, humble house, with a plain bed in the corner and a small dining table and chairs in the center of the room sitting on a red throw rug. Soft footprints in dirt lead to the table and disappear under the rug.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

Iada looks into the cabin. Shaking her head, exasperated, she kicks aside the rug. "I am Shaxxun Saerbor, and I am here to see if the leadership of this cult is worth saving, or if it's time for a change." She looks meaningfully at Graenor. "Your group has managed to attract a veritable who's who of innocent-saving adventurers. Let's see what you have down here." She pointedly waits for the guard or Graenor to take the lead.

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


"If we have, it must be recent. Very well..." he says, opening up the trap door to the basement. As soon as the hatch lifts, you hear muffled screaming. Graenor leads you down into the stone cellar. You immediately see a 20 year old male human gagged and chained tightly to the back wall, the floor beneath him stained dark red. Graenor moves around the room, lighting four wall sconces with his torch before setting it in a stand in the center of the room next to a table with a large knife with a large ruby in the pommel sitting in a pitch black scabbard. "You may witness the induction of our newest member, who will be here shortly. She should arrive precisely at midnight, with most of the rest of us arriving shortly thereafter. Now then... who sent you? We haven't had any contact with other worshippers..."

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

Iada looks around the room, checking for any other entrances. She relays everything she's seeing to the rest of the group. "It's not other worshippers whose attention you've attracted, it's everyone else. Our Lord sits at a precipice, an opportunity for long-dreamt-of greatness, and your... efforts... here have put that at great risk. Your utter lack of subtlety could topple everything we've been working decades for." Iada runs a single finger down the cheek of the prisoner, then grips his chin in her gauntlet, lifting his head until his eyes meet hers. "This is quite the sacrifice. Where did you find him? A vagrant? An orphan? Or some traveling vagabond?"

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


"He is but a peasant farmer. One nobody will particularly miss. He was working the fields late one night and never came home. Sad story, really. Could have happened to anyone. Bandits, or robbers maybe. Or wolves even. Who knows? Neverwinter isn't nearly as safe as it used to be, despite our guard's best efforts" he says, with the vocal hint of a grin underneath his hood, the ruby ring of Asmodeus shining with the flickering flames on his right hand.

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


Marcus Gellantara, Assassins-Bane, Foe-Ender, Champion of the Moonsea, founder and Arch-Bard of the School of Masks!; Bard|Scholar, War Chanter, Sage of Ages!
Arch-Bard Marcus's PDF
Arch-Bard Marcus's Orokos sheet

Marcus maintains the disguise ritual as he makes his way with Gladys toward the cabin, but it is only to prevent suspicion. His game face is on, metaphorically speaking. His appearance may be that of a merchant fop, but the alertness and determination in his eyes shines through. Marcus sets up outside one of the entrances Iada describes, stealing a kiss from Gladys for luck as he unlimbers his magic blade's sheath hidden beneath his cloak. <I do have a sword, but I am also happy to see you.> He says telepathically. He wants to avoid making any noise, but he is also unwilling to let this opportunity for innuendo go unrealized. <Gladys and I are over by the south window. We'll come in at your signal.>

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

Iada immediately drops the farmer's face, rage filling her eyes. "You idiot! He will be missed! Many of the others have been! You can't just keep kidnapping locals for your own use with such frequency! You're a secret cult, not a merchant's guild!" Turning to the other guard, Iada's voice cools, slightly. "You, tell him how you spent your afternoon. Tell him about your little 'chat' with the Guardian of Neverwinter. Tell him what you made me have to do."

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


"I..." she hesitates, "was listening to... Arka Scorchoak herself converse with a guard at the Beached Leviathan when I heard them talking about the kidnappings and the guard ignoring them... I went to our gathering place near my barracks to leave a note regarding it when she had this... snake attack me. They forced me to lead them here, when Shaxxun rescued me... she says she banished her to a layer of hell..." Graenor replies in a grave tone of voice, "Is that so? Even if we were picking... suboptimal targets, this peasant can't be allowed to leave the room alive. I'm sure you will understand that the sacrifice must go on tonight to protect the sanctity of our organization."

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.




Merritt Carlisle - PDF

Armed with the knowledge of the cabin's location, Merritt positions himself in the near vicinity. He is careful to avoid drawing attention to his movements. <I am in position. I shall await your word.>

Mortify
Feb 4, 2005





Arka - PDF

Waiting quietly in a nearby tree, Arka uses her Athenean senses to watch the horizon for the late guests to the party. Each moment is spent reacquainting herself with the finer points of human anatomy, knowledge that she has few occasions to test in the field, but very soon need to be practiced.

<I have a line of sight on the front and west sides of the shack, and good visibility on the rear. They won't get far.>

---
Athene is a type of owl.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer

<Here goes nothing.>

Invoking Arka's and Marcus' aid, Iada crafts her demands.

Idly digging at her pockets, Iada intones "your ceremony tonight is cancelled. You are going to refrain from using locals for the foreseeable future." She removes a sheet of paper and a pen, and after absentmindedly dabbing the pen in some of the fresh blood from the farmboy, she writes a list in neat, sharp letters: a pint of stag's blood, a silver bell, a charred pine stick, a tarnished brass mug... Handing the list to the guard, she orders "You are getting me these things. Make it quick. The farmboy is coming with me, he'll need some time to digest the stag's blood before I can perform the ritual but he'll wake up tomorrow morning remembering nothing but having too much to drink, and foolishly passing out in a blackberry bush. Go. NOW." Turning towards Graenor, Iada snarls "YOU are going to thank our Lord that I have more important things to do than put someone smarter in charge here, and attempt to make up for your foolhardiness. As a sign of penance and to ensure I have a mystical link to you should further punishment become necessary, you are going to give me your ring." Iada moves her face inches from Graenor's. "And know this: I sent Archa Scorchoak to hell because I am in a hurry, and can ill afford to be discovered here by the Commander of the Golden Lions--who is, as we speak, attempting to root out you and your followers. However, if you choose to defy me..." Iada pokes Graenor in the chest--hard--with the index finger of her gauntlet, and finishes in a harsh whisper "I will make time to ensure you regret it." Iada flattens her palm, and stares unblinking into Graenor's eyes, waiting for the ring.

<Be ready, he's either going to be making GBS threads himself, or he's got a big enough head to think he can say "no" to me.>

Intimidating Graenor: 2#1d20+27 36

Thanatosian fucked around with this message at Aug 16, 2017 around 17:08

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


The female guard rushes out of the shack to go gather the requested items. Graenor, however, puffs out his chest, "Stopping the ritual is all well and good, but I'll be damned if I'm handing my ring to some random emissary from who knows where that showed up unannounced. I'm still in charge of this local church, whether you like it or not, and I will not let my worshippers see me without that ring! Now you can follow her out that door!" he says practically screaming.

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.



Silenna

<"Thus always the way of villains. Allow me to assist."> The snake that had been watching from outside slithered into the shack through a small hole in the wall, before morphing back into Silenna. She opened the trapdoor, before calmly heading down the ladder, to the outrage of the cult leader. Unfazed by the man's continued screams, she waits for a moment besides Iada for a lull in the demands. "Who I am is of no consequence. You will not have any need for names or anything else in a moment." Before his eyes, her form fades, once more, melting and then stretching. Where one might expect her form to go back to a serpent one might see in the wild, instead her form grew, and grew; Iada even had to step aside as the giant snake appeared beside her. Cold, reptilian eyes focus unblinkingly on the cult leader as she raises up, a little, and from her coils pour dozens of smaller snakes, like newborns from a brood, surge forward to engulf the man, for a few screaming moments; though this time it is in pain, rather than anger. When the screaming subsides, and the snakelings disappear into the shadows, he stands there, slightly swaying, a dull, unfocused look in his eyes. <"Just a moment, now."> The cult leader steps forward, taking off his ring, meek as a lamb. Silently, they place the piece of jewelry in the serpent's mouth, then stand there, as if ready to face their judgement. <"I shall make my way outside. He is all yours, my companions."> Morphing back to the form of a woman, Silenna takes the ring from her mouth, then climbs back upstairs. The deed is done. Whatever vengeance the others must enact on the man is not really of interest to her.

Using Infiltrating Drone to dominate the guy.

Wahad fucked around with this message at Aug 18, 2017 around 07:45

Doomykins
Jun 28, 2008

Didn't you mean to ask about flowers?



Saint Gladys - PDF - Reference

Mortify posted:

If Gladys is VERY insistent, I will shoot with the aim to wound.

Things have reached their apex and fortunately it is the forces of righteousness that hold all the cards. <Seizing the ring is the most important thing. But... my little owl...> Undoubtedly Arka will take aim at the female guard, their initial in to the cult. A young girl clearly doing as she is told, an aspirant that has not taken that first step at best, a tool to be discarded at worst. She can be saved. They all can be saved. <Please do not cut them down. Asmodeus calls upon a singular strong will to lead his cults. These people are frightened, terrified, forced!> A mother's stern tone. She knows Arka will do the right thing. It's fortunate in that sense that there is no evidence of undeath in Neverwinter, for Arka's will is her greatest trait. <Should we truly deny them mercy, are we no less cruel than their horned master?>

Gently squeezing Marcus' shoulder and beckoning for the two to separate, Gladys winks. "Another time. It is a day's ride back to Elminster, isn't it?" She winks and begins to dismiss the ritual illusion around them, stepping out of their hiding place near the shack, approaching the guard that has no doubt taken an arrow to the knee. The mousy hidden beauty walks towards the wounded woman with clear, deliberate steps and banishes her disguise, her gold-blue armor adding a sudden shock of color to the dusky surroundings. Her skin shimmers and turns to a glowing rouge, a halo of holy light manifesting around her frame. Gladys steps over to the fallen guard and kneels beside her, lifting her chin with one hand, and Healing the arrow wound with the other, Sune's perfect love sufficient to mend even one of Arka's joint-shredding shots!

"Poor child, fear me not. I am here to warn thee. The order you have fallen into... the worship of the Ruby Lord... it will end here, in Neverwinter. The hammer of the righteous will fall upon that man, your superior." She speaks gently, reverently, face to face with the guard, her own radiant beauty just inches away. "You have erred, but in the High Heavens, there is always a chance for forgiveness. You, who choose to serve the common good. Please, remember that oath. There is goodness within you!" Speaking with sincere admiration, Gladys smiles at the guard. She withdraws her hand and stands tall, assuming the pose of a divine figure, either hand out to her side, palms turned towards the sky, a figure of mercy. Undoubtedly the rest of the cult will be entering the clearing soon and there can be no hiding her halo, her holy appearance. The pained screams of their leader from the shed...

Gladys speaks clearly to all who would approach. "There must be something that drove you from the right path. Know that there is one great beauty in this freedom, that you may repent and return to that path! Please, tell me why you have forsaken your oaths to the city, your oaths to family and friend, and in fact, your oath to self, to forsake your eternal reward in the next life. I only wish to return these to you."

Narrative: Diplomacy 36, Insight 37 to Aid Another on Marcus' Insight, turning that into a 52 from the 50 he rolled earlier! Gladys will offer redemption to the Cult in a big Diplomacy, Marcus will Insight them in his own follow-up post. Also, Gladys will use Healing Word on the guard for whatever damage Arka deals to her in stopping her movement. I trust Surge Value + 38 does the trick.

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


Marcus Gellantara, Assassins-Bane, Foe-Ender, Champion of the Moonsea, founder and Arch-Bard of the School of Masks!; Bard|Scholar, War Chanter, Sage of Ages!
Arch-Bard Marcus's PDF
Arch-Bard Marcus's Orokos sheet

Marcus, back to his normal form, kneels next to one of the guards, the one he has the best cold read on. He fixes her with an unyielding gaze. Full of compassion, but stern, he channels eons of loving but disappointed grandparents into one searching look. His rugged, handsome-yet-mundane appearance and his worn traveling gear contrast sharply with the near-angelic Gladys next to him, and that is exactly the effect he wants.

"Is it that you think this is the right path?" he asks slowly. His voice is soft enough to give the impression that he is speaking only to her; no, only to something deep and personal deep within her. But it is also loud enough that all the rest can hear if they just strain their ears a little... and the passion in his tone makes sure they do. "That this is protecting your city? I mean, I can imagine why you would think that. The demons are very powerful. What can one woman do against them? Like your parents always told you, you're not a hero. Just a single guard in a single city, and no one in your family wanted you to even be that much. Faced with judgment from all angles, I'd be tempted to try to seize some power for myself too. Even a small sliver would feel like mana from the heavens, or like the approving words of love you never got as a child. But let me tell you... that feeling is an illusion. You already have greater power than you can imagine; you always have, but traveling this path will cost you all of it. For within you lies the radical freedom to choose. If you sell your soul to Asmodeus, he will try to take that freedom from you, but until he has it in his grasp, the choice is yours alone."

He sighs and stands up slowly, his joints cracking. He grunts and rubs his lower back, playing up the grandpa role to the hilt.

"Don't tell us we don't understand," Marcus says to all the assembled guards. "We do. And that's how we also know the way it ends. Listen to my friend, please. I know you believe she has no reason to care about you, but she does. Keep your freedom, and your holy power. It may not be the power of a god, but I say it is even greater, for it is the only power that can truly change this city for the better. Can truly make things right."

Insight for the guards' stories: 1d20+32 50

Mortify
Feb 4, 2005





Arka - PDF

As the events in the cellar unfold, Arka takes flight, soaring purposefully towards the shack. The wind coursing through her feathers is cold as the night nears its apex, and with a soft click her talons catch the cheap tiles and halt her momentum. She quirks her tiny owl head, tilting it inquisitively as she receives Gladys’s plea for mercy. Growing rapidly, her owlish features subside and her wings become arms once more, leaving her standing proud, silhouetted against the night sky. With care borne of from endless years of practice, she strings her bow, bending the limbs with surprising strength for such a tiny woman. She pulls several arrows from her quiver; slotting all but one of them into grooves in her boots cut for such a purpose; the last she affixes to her bowstring. A wicked affair of raven’s feathers, heartswood, and an arrowhead made for punching through rocks or gnarled undead hides, it seems almost overkill for something as simple as a lone guard. Hand to cheek, she takes aim at the woman’s heart, sighting her retreating form.

At the last second, and with a gruff sigh, she pulls her aim slightly, loosing the arrow. With an unmistakable keening noise, it splits the air as it closes the distance to its prey. Punching through the guardswoman’s calf from behind, the force of the blow drives her to her knees, and the momentum serves only to drive the arrow into the hard-packed dirt. She sends a single thought to Gladys alone, <Give her your mercy.>

Pulling another arrow from her boot, she knocks it, but does not draw. If the growing groups of cultists make a solitary hostile move on either Marcus or Gladys, Arka stands ready with a volley of counterpoints.

-----

I'll pull my Pinning Shot against the guard; my attack bonus is +33 vs her, so I assume she can't really avoid it even on a low roll. She is immobilized as a result.

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer


Iada Kilcis -- Character Sheet PDF -- Current Combat Block

Wincing inwardly as she forces herself to watch Graenor's treatment at the hands of Silenna, she muses internally. Why not a puppy? Or a cat? Or another owl? Arka turns into an owl, and she's still plenty scary. What about a bear? Still plenty strong, good at combat. Grabbing the now-defenseless man by the collar, she whips him around, kicking him in the back of the leg, forcing him into a kneeling position facing away from her. "You know, Graenor, if it were just the cult, that, I could forgive; I've forgiven people for worse, and seen them go on to do great things in the pursuit of redemption. What I can't forgive, though, is the betrayal; you're the head of the guard, you had a duty to protect this city and these people, and you not only ignored it, but actively worked for their antagonists. Even if I wanted to, no one could ever trust you again." And with that, Iada draws her sword from its scabbard, and in a smooth motion, drives it into the back of Graenor's neck, ending him swiftly, and denying her baser, more sadistic urges a chance to tempt her into darkness.

Hearing no calls for aid from above, she removes her gauntlets and begins untying the farmer. "I'm very sorry about that, we're here to help. My words to him were a ruse, intended to allow us to leave without violence. The terrifying snake lady is with us, I swear, she's really nice once you get to know her," Iada assures the peasant, finishing the thought silently with I hope. Freeing him, she half-carries him up the stairs, where hopefully the tender arms of Gladys will be waiting to care for him.

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


The female guard softly smiles up at Marcus. "Thank you... perhaps you are right... I just hope it is not too late for me..." The 15 guards that begin to arrive individually respond to Marcus' questioning, all with a similar line of reasoning: they wanted more power to be able to defend the city better against outside forces, such as the Uthgarts, the Netherese, and of course, the Thayans. By their rational, the city is not strong enough to defend itself in its weakened state, and so they sought help to bolster their defenses. With Asmodeus at their guards' backs, nobody would dare cross Neverwinter, they say. They insist that they would be able to clear out the countryside, and potentially even expand the city beyond it's current borders and return it to prosperity.

---

The farmer collapses onto his knees after you unbind him, weak from lacking food for a couple days. "Thank you," he says. "I don't know what they were going to do to me, but I was sure I wasn't going to leave this room alive." He's hungry, but otherwise unharmed, and should make a full recovery.

---

Now that you have the ring, there is but one more task before you return to Elminster: informing the city leadership that the captain of their guard was a priest of Asmodeus and that he had recruited a portion of his guard to the cause.

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


, Assassins-Bane, Foe-Ender, Champion of the Moonsea!; Bard|Scholar, War Chanter, Sage of Ages!
Arch-Bard Marcus's PDF
Arch-Bard Marcus's Orokos sheet

"What happens to you physically is up to the Nine now," he says as kindly as he can. "But I am relieved your souls are safe. For what it's worth, I will tell them of your cooperation. Perhaps it will turn their decision toward mercy."

As soon as he can, by telepathy if necessary, Marcus relays what the guards told him about their motivations to the rest of the group. "I know it doesn't excuse their actions. I will bow to whatever decision the rest of you make. But I do think we should not leave the city weaker than we left it. That could invite something even worse than a demonic cult. If these guards are jailed or killed, I plan to help pay for the outfitting of new ones. Anyone who wants to contribute, feel free."

There is no judgment in Marcus's voice. He has worked with too many diverse heroes to think there is only a single righteous way to deal with defeated foes. If anything, his strongest desire is to learn more about his new allies through their actions, to inform the songs and stories he is already composing about them. Like working an automatic loom, his mind is constantly weaving their every thought and deed into a giant tapestry.

Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.




Merritt Carlisle - PDF

Merritt quietly enters the scene, standing next to Marcus and placing a hand on his shoulder. "Allow me to address them?" he asks, gesturing with his free hand towards the guards. After waiting a beat for a response, he places his hands behind his back and paces, slowly and deliberately, in front of them. As he takes his first steps, he cautiously lowers his guard to allow his angelic spirit to cause his skin to glow. There appear to be small rays of light extending from the ends of his hair.

"As my colleague has said, your souls are safe. I can assure you of that personally. You are not the ones at fault -
those that are have had justice served to them. There is no justice in punishing those who were simply seeking to attain what they had been promised." He pauses for a moment to think and begins pacing again. "No temptation has overtaken you that is uncommon to mankind. We desire power, influence over our world, material possessions. There is no sin in desiring to have a portion of the world that is somehow ours. Our sins lie in the means we employ to reach it. I hope that this experience has taught you the price one pays for straying from the path of good. Those who overcome their temptation will be welcomed with open arms in the afterlife, as many others before you overcame."

Merritt stops and turns to face the guards, he places his hands together in a prayer gesture and closes his eyes. "Oh Highest Lord, blessed are those who persevere under trial, for since they themselves were tempted, they will be able to come to the aid of those also tempted. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those that stumble towards the slaughter." He pauses for a beat as a warm, gentle light fills the room and then he reopens his eyes. "Take this blessing and start anew, as your souls have been cleansed. But understand, I will not be so lenient in the future if I am called to return." He places his hand on the pommel of his sword and begins to unsheath his weapon, his face now hardened and deadly serious, and makes direct eye contact with the group of guards "For the righteous Lord will rejoice when he sees vengeance, and he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. Now go."

After a moment, Merritt relaxes his body and turns to Marcus with a small smile. His body appears to be normal, with no glowing rays of light. "Shall we continue?"

Melchiresa fucked around with this message at Aug 21, 2017 around 04:08

Mortify
Feb 4, 2005





Arka - PDF

Arka listens to her newfound comrades absolve and release the remaining guards, still standing atop the shack, carefully unstringing her bow and placing her arrows back into her hip-slung quiver. Merritt makes a good case, and Marcus's point about the safety of Neverwinter is well taken. When she is finished righting her gear, she calls to her nearest allies, "I have a matter to right in the city. If you would escort these men and women back in my absence, I would count it a favor," with a wan smile, she leaps from the roof.

Faster than thought, she shrinks and becomes an owl once more, sailing into the night toward Neverwinter proper.

-----

Uncaring of the show she will make, Arka touches down directly in front of the Hall of Justice, shifting from flight to deft stride in the space of a breath. The scant guard left with so many devil worshipers underfoot sets her expression to a scowl, clearing any in her path lest they too find themselves the target of her wrath. Striding through the massive entrance, she cannot help but remember the time this temple belong to Tyr, now slain by demons. With a chuckle outside observers would label a grunt, she muses that history had a way of repeating itself. The path to the old high priest's rooms are not hard to follow, and though she was never an adherent of the Maimed God, she has tread this path more times than even she can remember.

Outside his residence, she catches the attention of a servant, a quailing woman of middle-years, "Fetch your master, and send for Soman Galt and General Sabine. Tell them that the Little Owl requires their presence. Immediately. GO!" perhaps she was being too harsh. Perhaps.

-----

After a time, when Soman Galt can be roused from whatever folly he has his hands dug into and General Sabine can be ousted from browbeating some innocent citizen, Arka follows them into Lord Neverember's residence and into the space he has set aside for his infrequent audiences. Shutting the door none-too-quietly, she raises her hand to stall whatever flirtatious blather Neverember was surely waiting to launch at her.

"I am not here for pleasantry, and I am not here for you. I am here for Neverwinter," squaring her shoulders and standing at her full height, Arka would not be an imposing woman without the considerable weight of her presence, "This very night, no more than a league from here, a cult of devil worshipers were stopped from sacrificing another farmer," she pauses to let the severity of that sink into their faces, "I have learned that it wasn't their first. Worse, these devil worshipers were lead by Captain Graenor," her gaze flicks meaningfully to General Sabine.

"My friends and I," let them worry about what friends she kept, let that keep them up at night, "had a chat with him. He had some trouble keeping his head when the argument grew heated. His guardsmen, your guardsmen, have been absolved of their participation in these matters. They were only trying to protect this city, which I am sure everyone in this room holds to be a noble duty. They are under my protection, and that of my friends, unless they prove to be irredeemable," another pause and a deep breath.

"I believe, earnestly, that each one of you wants what is best for Neverwinter, even if it sometimes benefits your pocket. I can forgive that, as long as my city remains safe," pulling a whittled owl from her coat, she tosses it softly at Lord Neverember, "and my city will remain safe. For everyone, poor or rich. You will see to it while my business takes me elsewhere," she gestures towards her token, held uncomfortably in Neverember's hands, "Let that be a reminder. I am always watching."

With a polite curtsy, Arka shifts into her tiny screech owl form, lets out an agitated trilling noise and takes flight through the window, soaring into the cold night air.

<The Lord has been made aware of the events of this evening, and I have made our point. I hope I have properly motivated them to keep this city safe, and to give the guardsmen another chance. I trust the Lord wants stability here as much as we do.>

Look Around You
Jan 19, 2009

You're just lucky my jaw is broken!


The guards having been scared straight back into active duty and the leadership of Neverwinter having been warned, you decide you can safely make your way back to Elminster. The ride back is as pleasant as the ride there was, and you make it back to him safely, where he is sitting on a rock outside of the temple. He has gathered stones and set them in a circle directly outside the entrance to the temple with a larger stone roughly the size of a small table in the center, obviously moved by telekinesis as it is too large for him to have carried by himself. “Welcome back, my friends,” he says warmly. “I trust you have acquired the focus? And how was Neverwinter? It’s been too long since I’ve visited.”

Wahad
May 19, 2011



Everything by design.



Silenna

The ride back being as pleasant as the ride to Neverwinter means Silenna arrives with as much of a sour face and a sore back as before. drat horses. She dismounts hastily, giving herself a moment to regain her composure. "Neverwinter was the same as usual. Busy, filthy, and full of people." The druid produces the ring from one of her pockets. The big gem feels heavy in her hand, but she watches it intently. "Here is the focus, elder. Where shall it lead us?"

Thanatosian
Apr 16, 2013

Angrier, Bitterer Man


Grimey Drawer


Iada Kilcis -- Character Sheet PDF -- Current Combat Block

Iada broods a bit on the unfortunate events in Neverwinter on her way home, answering Marcus' occasional questions with single words or short sentences. She begins brushing down her horse as the group addresses Elminster, watching as Silenna hands over the ring. She peppers him with several questions: "Do we have any idea of what to expect down there? Also, is this tablet an actual tablet, or is that just supposed to be a metaphor? Are we going to have to subdue Asmodeus himself?"

Klingon w Bowl Cut
Apr 1, 2009

Q'pla!


, Assassins-Bane, Foe-Ender, Champion of the Moonsea!; Bard|Scholar, War Chanter, Sage of Ages!
Arch-Bard Marcus's PDF
Arch-Bard Marcus's Orokos sheet

On the road...
"I've been working on some additions to your legends after all this," he says as the party rides back. "Especially yours, Iada. Here's what I'm thinking so far,"

Marcus strums a tune on his lute as his rich voice rings out around them.

'She stole deep into the fiend's lair,
By trickery and guile,
Iada went deep as any dare,
Fooling the cultists vile,
And earning everlasting glory.

'The priest thought to disobey,
The guards thought to run,
But her firm voice held sway,
And the battle was won,
Ending their corrupt story."


He clears his throat as the words trail off. "A work in progress, of course, but it has a lot in common with our lives in that regard. Based on what I just saw, I imagine this is only the beginning of both."


Back at the cave...
"The legends say that the Nine Hells are organized into a strict caste system," he says automatically, refusing to allow Elminster to hog all the explanatory glory, "and the few people I know who have been there and returned confirm this. That should afford us many opportunities to sow dissent and make our job easier. I know working with devils is distasteful to you all, but surely you can see the advantage of getting them to kill each other? Of course, we could also just fight our way to the Prince himself. Imagine the glory in that, even if we fall. Uh, which we won't, of course." Marcus smiles with all the reassurance and bravado he can muster, which is a considerable amount.

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Melchiresa
Jun 21, 2006

Nice guy.
Tries hard.
Loves hot dogs The Game.




Merritt Carlisle - PDF

At the cave:

"I do agree with Marcus - while killing devils personally would bring great satisfaction, it would take time and possibly resources that we do not have. I wouldn't go so far as to consider it 'working with' the devils..." Merritt trails off, pondering the next courses of action. He continues to ponder as he hones the blade of his sword.

Melchiresa fucked around with this message at Aug 29, 2017 around 23:05

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