Back to Chapter 5 : The Quaan and Beyond : Part 5

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Narrator
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Upon their approach the smallish human narrowed his eyes and dropped something beneath the table, which immediately puffed up into a ball of smoke that enveloped himself, his table and much around him. People stood and moved away from the table rapidly coughing and pushing chairs out of the way, sending them clattering to the floor. The smoke stirred as the man moved, then the duo heard glass shattering as their quary crashed through the window and out of the Minstrel into the alley.

Narrator rolld 3d20 with rolls of 20,6,5. Init BG, Bh, Ta.

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Vogh
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Vogh didn’t know what Talin said to Bharash but the two of them began to move tactically towards a spot when suddenly the place was filled with smoke. The ensuing chaos made it quite easy for the small figure to get ‘lost’ in the crowd. When Vogh heard the glass window break, she quickly touched Julia who was still with her and cast a spell.

When Vogh ended up on the outside of the Minstrel in the alley as they came out of the dimensional doorway, she looked for the little male human with her mind and eyes.

[Private to GM: If he is invisible, Julia still has her detect magic on and should be able to spot him. Likewise, Vogh should be able to with her mind. ]

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Narrator
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Vogh and Julia were instantly transported into the alley outside the Minstrel, and nearly tripped over a yelling dwarf who was standing up amid shards of glass covering him and the ground. “OI! GET BACK ERE YA CREEPY! I’LL KNOCK YA ONE GOOD!” Yellow hair and beard were tossed as the grumbling dwarf stood then he nearly jumped out of his heavy boots when the two women appeared in the alley. “OI?! What the stones?! Whedidya two come from?!”

Vogh saw the small human disappear around the corner and could sense his mind, plus the dwarf in front of them, several other people in her range in the Square and another couple people she could also see standing to the right of the Minstrel’s rear, opposite the way the man seemed to be fleeing. Julia’s magical sight fell over the dwarf and saw nothing on him glowing.

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon found himself at the table by himself. He had no idea where anyone went. He could still see Bharash. Deacon looked down at the table where the others had left their goblets and plates. Something there had poisoned them. He waved his hand over the table but was silent as the grave as he called upon his magic to Detect Poison.

11:50, Today: Deacon Havenhold rolled 26 using 1d20+6. Craft (Alchemy) Identify Poison if present on table.

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Narrator
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Deacon’s spell caused the glasses in front of them to glow to his eyes, then the dart laying on the table as well.

[Private to Deacon Havenhold: The drinks were each poisoned with Purple Keif, a spell which must be injested, and causes 1d2 con and str damage after 1 minute. The poison on the needle was far nastier, Leng’s Tears. It causes 1d2 wisdom damage and paralysis.

p.s. I totally forgot to mention the hallucinations effect, but I’m going to post that here just for you and I would like you to write up that experience like I shared it with you privately before… đŸ˜€

This substance causes hallucinations and temporary paralysis. A creature that fails its initial saving throw is paralyzed and experiences terrifying hallucinations of wandering through an icy, windswept waste. The creature’s paralysis ends if it is cured or once the poison runs its course, though memories of the vivid hallucinations may haunt it for some time.]

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon shuddered as he looked over the table. The thoughts of wandering through an icy wasteland coming back to him. No doubt hallucinations caused by Leng’s Tears which was on the dart. He took a moment and used his hands to rub his shoulders while still gripping the staff as though trying to warm himself.

He looked up not seeing his friends nearby he spoke to the room in general “Be careful the dart on this table is laced with Leng’s Tears. It is a powerful contact poison causing paralysis and hallucinations. The glasses on this table are also poisoned. They are poisoned with Purple Keif. It is an ingested poison resulting in weakness as well as a powerful knock out drug Other tables could be contaminated as well, so could the bar, it would take some time for me to check them all. I would suggest everyone stop eating and drinking until the situation can be cleared.”

He looked over at the ones the guards had separated. He moved over to the two with necklaces. He looks at the guard “With your permission.” With that he will cast another Detect Poison and examine the first, and then the second to see if they have any poison on them.

He will then repeat the process moving to the Tiefling and checking them.

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Narrator
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Forks drop and drinks smack tables as people discarded their current food and beverages. Several stood to leave as Deacon moved over. One large dwarf gentlemen with a bald head, green eyes and a long brown beard flecked with silver stood and looked quite purtubed. “Hey. You can’t hold us all here. Some of us have business to be about.” The guard captain nodded to the dwarf then looked to Talin.

“He’s right sir. Anyone could have poisoned those drinks, we’ve got a few to question, and it seems the perpetrator likely just went out the window. I’m guessing your lady friends went after him since they just vanished?” The captain looked around the room, surveying the other patrons.

The guard deacon approached screwd up his young face in confusion, not certain what permission Deacon was asking for. He just shrugged as Deacon went into his spellcasting. No more poisions, on any of the people revealed themselves.

“If he’s leaving, then so am I. I’ve done nothing wrong. Just because I have horns on my head doesn’t mean I’ve broken any laws, you racists!” Again the tiefling lady had anger in her voice as she barked at the City Watch, and the friends.

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Deacon Havenhold
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For the three he checked he will tell the Captain “They do not have traces of the poison on them, thus I do not believe they are guilty of attempting to commit murder here today.”

Deacon sure wishes there was a spell that covered far more area than this cantrip. Perhaps some day he would find one. He decided he’d move over to the next table and check it.

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Vogh
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Vogh was glad to have Julia with her, she wished she could have the others but they were busy inside figuring out the mess. It was up to her and Julia to either catch this little guy or at least follow him.

As they appeared in front of the glass showered dwarf, Vogh caught a glimpse of the little guy go down the alley and turn the corner heading towards the bigger alley. Sorry, was all she said to the dwarf. She wished Belie were around right now for he would be a great help with tracking him down.

Julia, I can feel his mind up ahead. I would like to split but I don’t think it is a good idea. We have no idea what this guy is about and he is really intelligent. Let’s take up the chase! Vogh said and took off running as fast as she could. As she did she said if you have a way of stopping him any time don’t hesitate to do so.

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Narrator
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The fleeing man quickly went beyond Vogh’s mind touch as he was sprinting full speed down the alley behind the minstrel.

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Vogh
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Vogh and Julia followed after the little man all the way through a small alley that led to the King’s River. Vogh could have right out attacked the little guy but she wasn’t sure what would happen. She could injure him and then he magically disappear or something, she had no way of knowing. So, she followed him never letting him get too far ahead that she couldn’t find his thoughts.

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Narrator
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Vogh faced an issue as the man skirted between the buildings, a tight fit for him and even tighter for the two ladies, then dove directly off the bank and into the King’s River to disappear beneath the flow of the water.

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Bharash
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For the most part, Bharash had been making time with the guards while idly watching the Tiefling woman, quietly appreciating the horns and sharp teeth that you just don’t get on your average soft, squishy local girl while chatting amenably with the watch… But that’s not to say that he’s not open to being given something to do, and once properly armoured he takes Talin’s proposal with a quiet “Fair e…”

That’s when smoke happens.

Smoke, and the ‘crash’ of glass followed by the heavier ‘thud’ of a body smacking into the shutters he closed earlier, presumably followed by an ‘ouch’ and the unfastening of said shutters and the making good of an escape.

Then people vanish.

Then there’s shouting.

Which is about when Bharash sighs heavily, reaches up to remove his helmet and hooks it to his belt before rumbling “Hallucinations, you say?” and picking up the dart, tucking it into a scrap of cloth and then into a pouch before holding both hands up at the ire of the Tiefling lass, moving over to her and her companions before answering both her and the angry dwarf “Calm down, you’re both right. We’ve no reason to hold you and your horns don’t make you any more a villain than mine do…” – here, he flashes a brief grin at the demon-blooded woman – “Ironically, it’s where you were, not what you were that made you a suspect today… Look, can I get you all a drink by way of an apology? It looks as though my friends have gone for the moment and I’m not sitting here on my own, apparently there’s criminals about!”

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon will look about to see if Telleth has reappeared from the back, or any of the staff. He would like to talk to Talleth in particularly. He notices Bharash seemingly admiring the Tiefling. They seem to be talking but of course he can’t catch the gist of it, but he’s pretty sure based on the body language that Bharash is hitting on the Tiefling.

If he doesn’t see Telleth he’ll continue to move from table to table detecting poison in order to clear the rest of the patrons of any potential problems. If he detects any other poison he will once again direct attention immediately to it.

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Talin
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As Talin approached the little human male and he dropped the smoke bomb, Talin tried waving it away to no avail. That is when he heard the crash through the boards on the window and the glass breaking. Talin caught the soft whisper of spellcasting and as he turned he saw Vogh and Julia disappear. A moment later he heard a dwarf through the window cry out something and then it was all quiet once more.

With the Tiefling crying discrimination, Bharash had gone over there to calm the situation down some. Talin called the guards over and said, If you need to stay you can, if not it seems like things have calmed down enough that you could go. If we find anything, we can report it to you straight away. The tension in the place was palpable enough already what with Deacon going from table to table along with Brother Fabitor and the acolytes seeing if anything else was poisoned.

Talin then wondered where Vogh had gone. She had clearly used her dimension door spell to take Julia with her, he hoped they were okay. Talin got Deacon’s attention and said to him and Bharash, I am going to go see if I can find Vogh and Julia outside.

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Julia Graymantle
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Julia had gone quickly with Vogh as they tried to catch the little human male. The dimension-hopping was fun, she done it a few times with Deacon before. Vogh kept a tab on the man but when they got to the end of the alley and the little guy squeezed through the space in the house and then jumped into the river, Julia looked to Vogh, “So, now what? I am not the best of swimmers and I don’t have anything for water-breathing. Did you see him cast a spell, cause I didn’t?” Julia asked.

Vogh could only shrug and the disappointed look on her face told Julia plenty. Vogh was pissed, Julia could see clearly. Julia was as well and she wondered why they didn’t attack the little guy when they had the chance before he went between the houses. The little guy had done something, but was it enough to attack? Probably not, which is why Vogh probably held her blades at that moment. “Let’s return to the Minstrel to make sure everyone is okay.”

A short while as they were heading back, Julia spotted Talin out in the back, clearly, he was looking for them as he talked to the dwarf, the dwarf waving his hands all over and pointing in Julia and Vogh’s direction. When Talin looked over, Julia said, “We are right here. The little man jumped in the river! We couldn’t follow him anymore.”

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Narrator
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In reply to Bharash (msg # 472):

The tiefling narrowed her eyes at the big dragonborn, but he could tell her visage softened. “Hrm. I guess…” was all she offered, then sat and allowed Bharash to order a drink for himself and she made her order as well. “What’s your name?”

Deacon was unable to detect any poisons on anyone else and wound up frustrated. (This will take longer than the exchange with Vogh, Julie, the bad guy, and Talin. So when you all return, Deacon is likely still checking.)

The guard captain moved over to Bharash to stand in front of him. The big warrior could nearly meet the man’s eyeline, even seated. He had three identical necklaces ending in simple black stones in hand. “So it seems the man and woman over there, and the other lady, were all given these necklaces and told to wear them, ‘or else’ by the man who jumped out the window. That’s why those two looked so freaked out, they didn’t know what to do.”

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Bharash
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As improbable and awe-inspiring as the sight of Bharash on the pull might be, he actually seems to be paying for drinks for several tables, including the trio with the amulets, the individual with the other amulet and the tiefling with the sword, or at least putting them on his tab… Beyond that, a lot of his body language is obfuscated by the thirty-odd pounds of shaped mithril he’s wearing, but ‘calming things down’ definitely seems to be his agenda.

With that, he pulls out the chair opposite the Tiefling and moves to settle, rumbling back at her “Bharash, and y..?” only for Talin to come over, whereupon the Dragonborn raises a hand and answers “Good luck. Don’t go too far, they could come back here any minute.” then turns back to his tablemate to speak again, “Where was I? Oh yes, and your n..?” only for the guard to walk up next, offering a selection of magical amulets and a story about intimidating strangers, which causes Bharash to frown and suggest “Huh. Likely best to ask a magical type about them. Deacon maybe, when he’s finished sniffing people. Unless there’s a common guildmark on them? They all look pretty similar and you might be able to track them to the craftsman who made them.”

Here, he smiles with the satisfaction of a man having done someone a good turn, and swings back to the seated Tiefling swordswoman, “Right! Drink. Have you ever tried winter wi..?”

This of course, is the moment most perfectly set aside for the return of Julia and Vogh.

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Vogh
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Vogh, Talin, and Julia walk back in and they see that things are well under control. The guard that had just left Bharash and was heading over to Deacon to speak with him it seemed, with something in their hand.

Vogh moved over to what he was holding and see if she could help with anything. While she did this she mentally reached out to Bharash, We lost the little one, he jumped into the river and went under.

When they were next to Deacon and the guard, Vogh asked, What do you have there. She made sure to be facing Deacon when she said it to the guard.

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Narrator
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The guard explained the situation to Vogh as he had Bharash about how the necklaces were magic and forced upon the patrons, clearly as a distraction. Each necklace’s rock wasn’t even a precious stone. The group also discovered that the magic on the stones was even a trick, and that faded away after some time.

Frustrated, the Guard Captain told the group that there was nothing more they could do here and needed to head out. “Watch your back ma’am.” He told Vogh. “Clearly someone has something against you. I would take some extra precautions. Goodday.” With that he gathered up his men and they headed out into the cloudly Ptolus day.

Most of the Minstrel had gone back to normal, people chatting, plates clattering and cups clunking. Telleth appeared back from the rear and explained that all their staff was accounted for. She was very flustered at the situation and kept apologizing to the group. “What do we do Miss Vogh? Nothing like this has ever happened here. How do we keep you, and everyone, safe?!”

[Private to Bharash: Possession is a 64 year old female tiefling ranger.
She has very long, braided, black hair shaved on the left side and golden eyes.
She has rugged purple skin.
She stands 129cm (5’10”) tall and has a muscular build.
She has an edgy, attractive face.
She has 2 piercings on her right ear
She is prone to violence.
She is always joking, even at innapropriate times.
]

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Jevicca Nor (NPC)
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A conciousness touched Deacon through the thoughtstone which he recognized as Jevicca. He opened the connection and her voice flooded his mind. “What under the Spire happened Deacon?!” She sounded concerned, but more than that, she sounded angry. “Dora told me that you were poisoned, and paralyzed? Did you have a silent teleport ready? Seems the only way you could have transported yourself if paralyzed. How could you leave yourself so vulnerable?! You understand that a lot of people know who you are now, and that’s not a good thing. Plus, you’ve made several enemies recently, powerful enemies. Do you not know the orrison for detecting poison?! If not, we will get you a scroll to copy. Listen, you’ve got to be more carful, or you’ll be dead in a week.”

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon had cleared all the tables and individuals no one else had the poison so far.

Jevicca’s message caused him to stop a moment and shudder again as though a cold icy wind had cut through him.

“I of course know Detect Poison. It was all rather sudden. I had just returned to the Minstrel after spending the night at the Pyramid. I had just gone downstairs, talked to Bharash briefly then moved over to Julia’s table to sit down. Helmut was with them at the table and they had been talking, he then got up and left. No sooner had he left and the conversation continued just a little on the same topic when Julia and two others were overcome with unconsciousness and that I was paralyzed. From what I can tell there was an assassin here. He had laced their drinks with Purple Keif, an ingested poison that takes a minute to take effect. It typically causes weakness and unconsciousness for about an hour. They had already been eating and drinking prior to my arrival as I had eaten at the Pyramid. They used Leng’s Tears against me having coated a dart with it. It clouded my mind a bit and caused the paralysis. It is a contact poison though. I do not use verbal components and have not needed to do so since my accident some years ago. My only thought at the moment was to escape and seek aid so I returned to the pyramid it being the only place I thought I could find aid. Dora was most helpful in getting me an antitoxin. I have been checking the other tables and patrons and have found no other places where the poison was used, as such it appears directly targeted towards us and Helmut’s departure just before the attack is very suspicious to say the least. Thus at the moment the Watchers in the Sky are the prime suspects. However I have not been able to identify the assassin, Julia and them chased someone but they just came back empty handed.” Deacon sends back to Jevicca.

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Bharash
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“…ne?” Bharash manages to ask, before wincing and rubbing his forehead with a forefinger and thumb while commenting “You know, I barely use the inside of my skull for my own thoughts but it would still be nice to work with people who don’t insist on thrusting their own into the gap.” before going on to jerk his thumb at his returned companions and explaining “They said the fellow who ran for it dived in the river and got away that way… And given that the water passing through Ptolus also passes through about seventy thousand kidneys in the process, I’m not sure I’d have done any different.”

From there, it’s onto amenably different topics as Bharash and the Tiefling – who turns out to be called ‘Possession’ chat over a bottle of winter wine (Bharah’s recommendation, and the result of taking a pleasant fruit or berry cordial and leaving it out overnight in his homeland so that a fair portion of the water freezes out of it in order to generate a far higher alcohol content and the sort of hangovers of which legends are made), covering a number of modestly martial topics and the dearth of good horn wax anywhere outside The Warrens, the new Lizardfolk Fusion place opened up there the other week and the trading of a few ‘I remember when my party…’ anecdotes about the experience to be had being the group muscle in the company of a scattering of variously paranoid rogues and spellslingers.

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Talin
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Telleth it wasn’t your fault, honestly. These people trying to kill us are trying to make a point that they can get at us anytime, anywhere. I am certain you haven’t had anything like this in the past happen, either. Talin commented. He knew that Telleth was a great owner and it pained him to see her so worried.

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon noticed Julia was back next to him. He had been distracted by Jevicca’s thoughts and his response and had missed some of what was going on. Upon learning more about what the others found he said “Nystul’s Magic Aura, it can move magical auras around such that something that is mundane can seem magical for a moment and that which is magical appears mundane. An effective means of misdirection. Certainly would be useful for an assassin. The use of Purple Keif and Leng’s Tears shows a determined foe. Neither are cheap especially Leng’s Tears which costs more gold than a commoner’s home. The assassin will make another attempt. No one who spent that much money on poisons would give up so easily. It appears that we alone are the targets, as no one else was attaked or poisoned. I do not believe the Minstrel is in danger itself.”

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Vogh
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When Deacon finished with all the tables and gave the all-clear that there was no longer any poison Vogh told Telleth. Deacon just told me that there is no more poison at any of the tables, Telleth. Don’t worry yourself over such things though. Vogh leaned in a bit closer and said next, We will soon have our house complete and will be moving there. It is a bit aways from the Minstrel so you shouldn’t have a problem like this again.

Vogh moved back again, We just have to make sure that we are checking for poisons from now on is all it seems. I am happy that none of your staff was injured in this attempt as well.

Vogh looked at the others and said, I am going over to the two humans to ask them some questions. When she came over she said, Can I have a seat? I want to ask a few questions about the man that gave you the necklaces. When they nodded, Vogh sat and began, My name is Vogh Kath, tell me everything you can about the little man that gave you the necklaces. When did you meet him first, what did he say, any identifying marks on him, did he give you anything else? It was a lot of questions and Vogh listened to each answer in turn.

GM so for any further eating or drinking, we will ALWAYS be casting detect poison. It is a 0 level spell so we always have it ready.

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Narrator
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The couple, and the other individual, were visibly shaken by the interaction and subsequent questinoning. Both of them explained the man was very nondescript, he had a very lightly stubbled face with no tattoos, scars or other identifying marks. He lay the necklaces before each of them and explained they would die where they sat if they took them off, or pointed him out to anyone while still inside the Minstrel. Vogh saw a knife prick on the back of the woman’s arm which she revealed, showing the small stab wound and now dried blood. Her companion explained the would be assassin said she would die first, and now that he had a sample of her blood, he could find her and kill her anywhere. Both of them were seating profusely and clearly in horrible fear.

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Jevicca Nor (NPC)
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In reply to Deacon Havenhold (msg # 481):

“Do be more careful. Your weakness reflects poorly on our organization. I hope we did not extend this high honor in error.” Jevicca’s thoughts paused for effect after delivering such a backhanded slap to Deacon, mentally. “Regardless, do not challenge a High Priest of a powerful temple without rock, solid proof. Step carefully here, Member Deacon…” Again, the woman’s incisive word use were nearly cutting. “Vogh has made comments about this same man in the past, yet still has no solid evidence. If you act against one as connected as Helmut, you will do so alone, if you lack sufficient verification. Listen, I’ll leave you with this, there is something big happening. We are seeing strange events all over the city, I’m sure you’ve heard many rumors. Just. Be Careful…”

(OOC: Deacon’s new player, don’t take any of this personally. His old player knew this was coming, as the group hasn’t really taken many precautions despite having pissed off SEVERAL VERY powerful groups! đŸ˜€ )

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Telleth
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In reply to Talin (msg # 483):

Telleth shook her head, near tears. “Indeed it has not!” She said indignantly. The woman turned away from Talin, clearly fighting back emotion. “We will hire some security. No one has ever been so brazen to attempt anything here. We are not without friends of our own. Whoever did this will be found… and taught a lesson…” The emotion was gone from her eyes, and Talin actually raised eyebrows at seeing the steely expression of determination on Telleth’s face.

OOC: Reminder, Telleth doesn’t own the Minstrel. She’s the manager. Vogh & Talin actually met the owner at the Castle Shard party.

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Vogh
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When one of the pair showed Vogh the dried up blood on the back of her arm Vogh gave a look of pity to her. It wasn’t your fault and I do not blame you for not acting. I am going to take these amulets, we might be able to track him with them.

The Vogh mentally she told Talin she was going to look for a clue on the broken glass. They did give Vogh an idea. She quickly moved over to the window that the little man had broken through. She hoped that there would be some blood on some of the glass. She thought there should be at least. If she saw nothing inside she quickly went outside and checked the ground.

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Narrator
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In reply to Vogh (msg # 489):

oh snap! you got so lucky! Narrator rolled 6 using 1d100. (20 or below there is blood.)

Vogh found one shard which had had just a small amount of blood, likely no more than a scratch.

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon mentally responds to Jevicca “Then it is good I went to the Pyramid rather than any other place. All people saw were the three going unconscious, and me disappearing. It was as though a Contingency spell had been triggered. Most might even think that’s what happened. Incidentally you wouldn’t know Contingency would you and allow me to copy it. I understand well the implications, as I said he was chief suspect but someone could have timed the attack to make him look guilty. You need not worry, I will not take any action against him save in self defense without sufficient proof of his actions. Agents of Chaos are working towards their Night of Dissolution and while that can have many ends Helmut himself has also been trying to execute certain children he claims are prophesied to destroy the world. Now of that accusation I do believe it to the be the truth and he spoke of such at the table before he left, though he agreed to allow us some time to remove the children from Ptolus. He seems to indicate their presence in the city is what leads to the end times. However it could be a ploy only to gather his targets in one place so that he can easily eliminate them all at once. Is there someone in the order that trades spells regularly, I have need a few other spells besides Contingency. Matters are becoming as you say dangerous.”

Deacon asked Telleth “If you like I could take time and search your storerooms and kitchen to ensure no poison is in them. I feel that most likely the drinks were poisoned after they were poured though. If you would have peace of mind I’d be happy to do this. No charge of course.”

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Jevicca Nor (NPC)
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“The Night of Dissolution you say? Yes… We’ve been encountering that same phrase in different ways. Very interesting. Execute children?! What do you mean he mentioned that in person?” Jevicca ‘listened’ to his explanation and gave Deacon some good news. “Yes. Yes. Of course we have the contingency spell. I will have Dora get you a copy immediately. When next you go to the pyramid, ask her and its yours. Benefits of membership. Most of our members trade spells, sometimes freely, sometimes with favors requested. The great library also contains thousands of spells. Keep me updated on your findings Deacon. We are not idle, and it seems something big is coming.”

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Deacon Havenhold
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“The Night of Dissolution is the belief by various chaos cults that chaos will overwhelm the world and transform it. How the world is transformed depends on cult to cult. The Tolling Bell, the preeminent chaos cult which all others seek to join, believe that it beckons the end of the world and actively pursue that course. The Deathmantle, who the assassin could have been allied to, seek to spread chaos through murder. Though usually they look towards mass murder, they would have sought to kill everyone in the tavern, not just us five so it would be unusual if the assassin was from them. I have been researching on the chaos. It is prudent to know what they might be about. Though at the moment I’ve been carefully detecting poison to ensure no other people were poisoned and that indeed the poisoner escaped and is not still present. So far I’ve not found any signs of the poisons other than on the dart and the glasses delivered to the table,” he returns in thought to Jevicca.

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Vogh
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After a careful search of the outside, Vogh grabbed the bloody piece of glass and made sure to keep it clean and untouched. She came back inside and moved to Deacon. In his head she said, Deacon, I found something that I think we need to have a look at. It is the blood of our little assassin. It should be enough to be able to get some kind of divination out of shouldn’t it?

Vogh was quite happy with her work and almost shivered from the excitement. As Vogh looked about the room Bharash was still chatting up the tiefling. She would let him be for now knowing that it was still early in the day and he had done well this morning.

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Bharash
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Chatting to more than chatting up it would seem, at least if anyone there’s particularly able to read the big Dragonborn’s body language through his armour. He’s currently groaning his way through an anecdote about trying to keep a terminally magic-obsessed mage alive on a delve into the dungeons under the city while interjecting his own ruefully amused commentary upon arcane power (which basically devolve down to ‘if you want to know what the Gods think about magic power, you just have to look at the ones they give it to’).

All in all, there’s more of a ‘two veterans at a table waiting for the next daft event’ quality to things than ‘Bharash trying to get his end away’ but hey, the day is still young!

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon nods to Vogh

“It may prove useful, the necklaces as well. If he crafted them they have a connection to him and thus might could be used to scry upon him. However I believe any assassin of this level would have taken precautions. He most likely is protected from scrying and other such things. It doesn’t hurt to try but I would not be surprised. There is an Assassin’s Guild called the Vai, they are close allies of the Chaos Cult the Deathmantle. As with all Chaos Cults it is one of the goals of the Deathmantle to bring about the Night of Dissolution. The Deathmantle themselves prefer methods of mass murder, they would not have been so targeted though to have just poisoned the 5 of us. They would have killed everyone here as an example. Still the assassin could be from the Vai hired by any number of persons for our actions in the past.” he sends back to Vogh.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh was slowly shaking her head, it was all too much. Let us hope that he isn’t as warded as you say then. All this nonsense and attempts on our lives are getting me worried. We need to be extra cautious about what we do from now on. I would like as many recommendations from you three that you can spare. I really think we should look at getting a place all to your own so that it is easier to defend. Or if you like, I can make enough room in the place we are building.

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
“Well I’ll give you the advice Jevicca gave me just a few moments ago. Always detect poison whenever you are eating or drinking. I had already eaten and arrived late or I would have cast it for you as I did have it prepared. It was my folly to assume you had. I might look into some spell research once I have enough funding. It might even be possible to make something where Telleth can detect poison thus enabling her to protect her patrons more. It will take time though,” Deacon tells the others in a normal voice.

“I think perhaps I’ll just not eat or drink for a few days, I’ve grown past the need to do so. I mostly engage at the table in order to enjoy the chit chat, and I do enjoy the flavors still but I really don’t have to eat or drink. There are spells that could protect our conversations and the like. I will look into those. I don’t suppose you keep a Neutralize Poison handy?” Deacon inquires.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Deacon, do you have any divination spells or should we bring this to the experts and see what they can glean from it? I am leaning towards the latter option myself. Vogh finally said after their brief exchange about protection.

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
“I know a few divination spells but I do not have the focus required for Scrying presently. If you know of an expert, someone specialized in divination that might be a more prudent course for us to pursue. I do not have any such spells prepared today,” Deacon lets Vogh know.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
After a second to think Vogh asks Deacon next, What about the Inverted Pyramid. Can you notify them that you have a blood sample of your attempted assassin and if someone could divine his location and identity?

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Julia Graymantle
———————————————————–
Julia hearing all this asks, “we could just take it to the Lothian Church. Surely they have some diviners there that could look at it. Deacon do you want to contact your contacts while we take it to the church?” Julia asked.

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Talin
———————————————————–
Talin piped up with suggestions, “Deacon, surely your new associates could aid in this. But if not, there are dozens of wizards and clerics which can be hired to cast spells. Perhaps Brother Fabitor would be able to do this? If not, Danbury’s is just across the Squre. I could go ask Oron over there to point me in someone’s direction. The Pointy Hat up in Oldtown is chock full of casters. I’ll just run over and ask Fabitor first.”

With that the man strode from the building and out into the Ptolus day.

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Narrator
———————————————————–
Most of the Minstrel had gone back to normal. The city guard were satisfied that the group had the situation in hand. The guard captain nodded to Vogh, “Best of luck in finding them. If the Watch can aid you, let us know. Keep a sharp eye out miss.” He led his men from the Minstrel just after Talin departed.

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Narrator
———————————————————–
Possession and Bharash got on rather well. The female had relaxed after the guard departed and the insinuations of guilt ceased. She paid the proceddings almost no attention as Bharash chatted her up. Like many people in Ptolus, she had come seeking fortune and a more cosmopolitan environment. “Tieflings aren’t widely accepted in many of the other cities throughout the Empire, but Ptolus is different. I’ve heard word of deamons themselves walking the streets without being accosted, well, at night anyway. Since beeing here I’ve seen nearly every race and creature imaginable walking the streets. This is a very interesting place.”

She asked after Bharash’s pursuits, unaware of the group’s fame, having only been in Ptolus a few months. Possession asked anything Bharash knew of the dungeons below the city, of which he had little to offer.

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Narrator
———————————————————–
Telleth returned after several moments saying that all the staff were accounted for and none knew anything about the poisoning. “One of the girls has been acting rather strangely though. Kailee. She asked for an advance on her pay last week. Maybe someone bribed her into doing something?”

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
Deacon thought on the requests of Julia and Talin. He was a very new member of the Inverted Pyramid though and he already owed Dora a great debt. He was not sure he should involve the order very much in the matter. It could be seen as a sign of weakness. Jevicca had already warned him about that. He could still visit the Library, he had planned to wait til tomorrow but he could return to the Pyramid today but there would not be a way back.

“I can check the library and see if there is any aid for our situation,” he told them, though clearly he was holding his words carefully. “I need to visit it more anyway. Many things I need there. Remember the more you involve though in the situation the more you put at risk.” he cautions. It’s clear he wants to say more to all, but the openness of the place means there are eyes and ears everywhere.

He starts to reach into his pack but he pauses. “If I go though I will not be here tonight if the assassin returns. Will you be fine without me?” he questions.

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Bharash
———————————————————–

“Not a great deal, we’ve made a venture or two down that way, but most of what we’ve been up to is on the surface, running around and making enemies.” Bharash answers, snorting wryly before breaking off to quaff from his drink, setting down the half-empty cup a moment later to go on “And it is that. For the most part devils get a slightly better reception than demons… They’re still looked at askance, but they at least respect the by-laws. You’ll face the usual run of people giving you the eye because you’re different of course, but at least here the watch’ll generally be on your side if they’re stupid enough to get violent. What do you do, if you don’t mind my asking?”

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
Deacon then turns his attention back to Telleth asking, “Which one is Kailee?”

If Kailee is present he will cast Detect Magic and look at Kailee. If she is missing he will ask if Telleth knows where she lives.

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Narrator
———————————————————–
Telleth pointed out a young woman with extremely long, curled, brown hair and green eyes with rough black skin. Kailee stood closer to six feet tall with a muscular build, and an edgy, slightly cute face.

[Private to GM: Kailee Redstream is a 16 year old female human trapper.
She has extremely long, curled, brown hair and green eyes.
She has rough black skin.
She stands 180cm (5’10”) tall and has a beefy build.
She has an edgy, slightly cute face.
She discretely worships Ubtao, God of creation, jungles, Chult, the Chultans, dinosaurs. (True Neutral)
She is very good at defusing tensions.
She is non-materialistic.
She stretches the truth to tell a good story.
Plot Hook: She is currently being chased by law enforcement and asks the PCs for protection.
]

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Talin
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Talin returned after several minutes, looking less than happy. “Ok, so Brother Fabitor said he can use a divinination prayer tomorrow. Apparently this will only give us a short answer, and he explained the gods almost never give you a straighforward answer, but something cryptic. He said more advanced clerics than himself, and wizards, can scry. So I went over to Danbury’s and discovered there are two spells other than scrying, locate creature which we’ve actually used before, then the insanely difficult ‘discern location’ spell which will take a very powerful arcanist. Oron gave me the name of three wizards we can contact who do spellcasting for hire. He also told me that having the subject’s blood really helps with a scrying spell, and that many wizards can use that spell, so I think that might be our best bet.”

He grabbed an ale and went to put it to his lips, then hesitated and held it out to Deacon mouthing, Do you mind checking it?

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Julia Graymantle
———————————————————–
Julia thinks about what Talin said, scrying… they had done it before with the locate creature and it worked which was great. Maybe they could get lucky again?

When Talin offered the glass to check for poison, Julia said, Yes, no problem. I can check it as well. Julia then lowered her head and said a simple word to Lothian and as she looked back at the glass she saw that it was indeed clear of any poisons. Looks like it is safe to drink. Are you and Vogh able to cast to detect poisons?

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
“The range of Locate Creature might limit it’s usefulness in this situation. Still it might be worth a shot.” he said. Seeing that Julia was checking on Talin’s glass he decided to continue to concentrate on Kailee.

Deacon had turned his eyes from his friends towards the woman Kailee. He cast silently casts Detect Magic and moves in her direction so that she’s within sixty feet. He was wanting to see if perhaps an enchantment was upon the woman, or if perhaps she was not whom she seemed either by illusion or transformation.

So any magic auras on her?

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Narrator
———————————————————–
In reply to Deacon Havenhold (msg # 513):

Frustratingly, Deacon saw no magical auras radiating from the woman.

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
Deacon satisfied for the moment turns back to his friends “Back to my question, if I go to the library will you be okay without me til the morrow?”

He wasn’t so much frustrated but had hoped for an easy answer. There were of course many ways outside of magic to influence another. He himself was not a skilled diplomat nor was he skilled in the art of intimidation. Now an assassin, such would be skilled in at least the later in many instances.

He turned to Telleth and asked “You say she has been acting strange, can you give me some examples? Also does she have any family?”.

Family could be a powerful motivator. He thought back to his wife Elridia, who was now dead several years. They had married in their youth and she had born a daughter, Isuwiel to them. Elridia had died during the childbirth. Isuwiel died 10 years later from a virulent plague that wiped out many inhabitants. It was her death that had inspired his own further magical experimentation and that had led to his curse of deafness. His recent studies into the Chaos Cults led him to believe that Deathmantle may have been responsible for Isuwiel’s death. It certainly fit the MO of that nefarious group. He had not spoken to his father, Galinas, since Elridia had died. His father had cut him off because unlike most elves Deacon had chosen to take up the road of a wizard rather than that of a sorcerer that most elves in Ptolus aspired to be. Had he had his father’s resources at the time Elridia might still be living. He shook the thoughts from his mind sometimes the past intruded on the present and he needed to be in the present.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh answered Deacon, Yes tomorrow would be fine I think. Please if you can find someone, perhaps even Jevicca. Not that she owes us but she came to us when she needed something. We will see about the divine side of things while you are away.

Vogh then answered Julia, No I am sorry I can’t cast that spell. Just some something that couldn’t be learned for some reason. Though, I can cast it from a scroll easily enough. Perhaps I should invest in one of them.

The day wasn’t getting any easier, they were once more attacked, in their backyard nonetheless. Things were getting dicey and they had to be ever vigilant moving forward.

Julia, can you and Bharash come with me to the church. I want to see if we can get one of the elder clerics can see about figuring this out. I can cast the locate creature over and over. Maybe we just go about town and see what we may.

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
Deacon nods asking, “Anything in particular you think I should get from the library?”

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh thought about it a moment, there really isn’t anything I need to be honest, But if they have someone that can do the scrying then that person would be who I would want nothing more at the moment. Then Vogh thought about something, I know of a way that we can see if others are scrying on us. There is a spell called detect scrying. It is quite powerful. If you can get that spell Deacon, we may even be able to find who is scrying on us in reverse.

Then Vogh turned to Julia and Talin and said, let’s grab our stuff and then after that we grab Bharash of course, and head to the church.

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Julia Graymantle
———————————————————–
Julia went upstairs along with Talin and Vogh and they all grabbed the rest of their gear. When they all came down, Julia went over to Bharash and said, “We are returning to the High Temple, do you want to join us?”

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Telleth
———————————————————–
Telleth thought for a moment, tapping her chin as she replayed recent events in her mind for Deacon. “Well, she asked for an advance on her pay. That was one thing. She’s also seen a bit more gaunt of late. Bags under her eyes. Tired. She’s been late to work several times. I hadn’t pressed the issue, but in light of today’s events it seems worth mentioning.”

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
“Indeed worthy of investigating,” Deacon suggests. Deacon was a bit worried about the changes in her body. Gauntness could be caused by inadequate food intake but could also be a sign of disease or even poison. He had already cast detect poison on her and assuming nothing was blocking his spell then she was not presently poisoned. That still left disease. The undead also often appeared gaunt.

He would suggest to the others quietly, “Can you Detect Disease on Kailee, see if she is afflicted with such?” Detecting for the Undead would have to wait another day, he only had so much power available a day and needed it to swap his spells to return to the Pyramid.

Deacon followed them up to the room. He said “I’ll see about getting it I had thought about it as well. Time and money will limit what I can place in the book though,” he told the others once in the room. He took out his spellbook and replaced Disintegrate with Teleport. He then Teleported back to the entryway of the Inverted Pyramid.

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Talin
———————————————————–
Talin gave another explanation to what could be happening. He had seen many people with drug problems. The fact that she had asked for an advance on her pay because she needs money, the fact that she is gaunt-looking are all signs I have seen in drug addicts. They hunger for the drug. They get so hooked that they will do almost anything to get it. They are also known to those that supply it and are sometimes used as pawns for things for free drugs. I think we need to confine her until we can get some answers for ourselves. Does she have a family Telleth? Talin asked.

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Telleth
———————————————————–
Telleth pursed her lips, thinking. “You know. I’m not certain. She’s not worked here but a few months. I haven’t gotten to know her as well as some of our other employees.” The red haired woman shrugged, watching the young woman as the others did.

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Bharash
———————————————————–

Bharash’s conversation seems to have stalled out with what can best be described as a ‘please wait, loading’ quality to it as Bharash waits in comfortable silence for the long, long process of the Tiefling working through the question ‘so, what do you do?’

When Emily heads over, he looks up at her cheerfully and lifts his mug, emptying it “Sounds like a plan. Any idea what you mean to do when we get there?”

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
Deacon appeared at the Inverted Pyramid entryway again. He did not immediately contact Dora he figured that his quicker than expected return would mean that the scroll Jevicca was going to have for him might not be ready yet.

He still was not entirely sure how all this place worked, it was a mystery in many ways. Still there was reason to visit to the library. He had much studying to do.

He entered the Main Library and found a suitable place for his studies. “Bring me books on poisons, particularly works referencing Leng’s Tears and Purple Keif,” he commanded the unseen servants. He wanted to learn more about these poisons that had so easily incapacitated the party. He was hoping to find more about their manufacture and use, something that might help lead him to where they were made and thus who bought them.

Jevicca had said he could reference spells here in the library as well but his previous efforts to do so had born little fruit. Though they unseen servants had retrieved books on the subject he had asked they were not works with actual spells in them. So how would he go about getting copies of spells he needed.

He decided to try another approach, something more specific commanding the unseen servants “Bring me a scroll or spellbook with the Scrying spell in it suitable for learning.”.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
When Bharash asked what’s up, Vogh answered quickly with, We are heading back to the temple. I found a shard of glass that has blood on it and we are going to see if we can get the clerics to divine something about the one who tried to kill us. I would like you three to accompany me there so if anything happens, at least we are all together and I will take those odds.

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Narrator
———————————————————–
I’m under like 3 deadlines so I cannot post today.

The scrying is going to fail b/c the assasin is in a well warded area.

The church will do almost whatever you ask, and do it for free, because of how special you all are (I want to write that up)

I’m going to have to write some kind of “divination divine sounding thing” for what you get back.

You all can put these clues together to figure out it was a Vai assassin.
You know they are likely the most dangerous group to kill for hire.
So now you’ve had 2 groups try to assasinate you.

Sorry I can’t get this all done. Got a baby due in less than 2 weeks also, so things are more than a bit stressed at the moment.

Please feel free to write based on the above happening, and I’ll edit this post later with details and RP stuff.

@Deacon, remember these are unseen servants, so they aren’t super smart. They can’t even reach above the first row of books b/c they can’t fly. So assume you get some of the stuff, but you get many things that are “useless” to you.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
After speaking with Sister Mara once more and getting the priests to do the scrying, which of course failed miserably. Vogh had been given a bit of information at least to make it not a totally worthless trip. Sister Mara had said that the Vai Assassins could be the only ones to be able to do what happened.

As they left, Vogh turned to the others and said, Well now this is all disheartening. We have two assassin organizations at the minimum trying to kill us. How can we possibly be able to defend ourselves against this? Clearly, Vogh was having a bad time with this information as she was flustered and had more than a little worried look upon her face as she spoke to the four friends gathered. We can’t possibly take on an assassins guild, can we? Vogh was grabbing at straws here and it was quite obvious to them all, having never seen her like this before.

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Bharash
———————————————————–

“Huh. Well, I suppose the answer would be: make it so we don’t have to?” Bharash offers, in a no doubt deeply unhelpful fashion from where he’s leaning against the wall, arms folded and seemingly more or less half-asleep during the extended scrying session.

“I mean.” he clarifies, with the same sort of acuity that leads him to aim for the other fighters body rather than their blade “They’re assassins, right? Someone pays them money and then they kill someone. Figure out who paid them, maybe they’ll stop. No money, no murder.”

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh gave a slight nervous laugh at what Bharash had said, I believe we already know who has probably sent the assassins against us. Vogh said the next part in everyone’s head, You know we broke into House Vladaam. They are not exactly the most pleasant of Houses. They have the resources to send assassins and have probably even used them before for others. Sure we could make an assault on the House but the head of that house has a rather nasty reputation.

Vogh then switched back to words, One of the reasons why I asked us all to be together was so that we could be better protected. We just need to prepare better and make certain that we keep our eyes open for trouble whether it is poison or something else unseen that we don’t know of yet.

When they returned back to the Minstrel and went inside, Vogh asked Julia and Bharash, Do you know what your plans are for the rest of the day? Talin and I have a dinner with the Knights of the Chord this evening.

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Bharash
———————————————————–

“Uh-huh. And can you think of anyone else we might have pissed off lately? Or are we just going to point our finger at the last people we angered and forget the others. Because you know, it doesn’t seem to me like we’ve been exactly discerning in our choice of enemies.” Bharash asks, eyeing the others with more amusement than condemnation, as though from his perspective, the quality of the people who hate your guts is something to be actively proud of, rather than something to find concerning.

With that though, he shrugs “But okay, maybe we say it was those guys. How do we set things up so that they find it more troublesome to send assassins after us than to simply ignore us? What leverage do we have, what leverage can we get?” and then snorts wryly “Plans? I don’t really do plans. I was going to exercise for a couple of hours, but other than that I had nothing on my plate.”

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Julia Graymantle
———————————————————–
Julia thought about what Vogh had to say and as Bharash began to ask his questions Julia thought about herself and the Archeons at that moment. Who have we pissed off? The Chaos Cultists is one. Beyond that, House Vladaam by stealing the key to the Banewarrens. Honestly, Julia couldn’t think about anyone else. She knew of the time that Vogh and Talin had helped the Balcazar child so most likely they weren’t part of it. Then that gave her an idea, “Vogh, couldn’t you perhaps go to the Balcazar’s and see if they could help with this. If they are, as most people know, a crime family, maybe they can request a cease of the attacks for saving their child Dullin?”

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh looked to Bharash, Pissed off? You tell me? We have done most things together.

Then Vogh turned to Julia, that is a possibility. We need to go there and talk about Dullin anyway. It is an idea at least. Vogh once more turned to Bharash as she said the last part. Leverage? The only way to do that would be to get proof of whoever is trying to kill us. We have yet to catch someone trying to and I am thinking that even if we had they are disciplined enough not to reveal who sent them. As I said I am open to suggestions.

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Talin
———————————————————–
Talin then spoke, I will go speak with this Kailee and find out what I can. Maybe there is a lead we can follow?

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Bharash
———————————————————–

Lacking the capacity to hear what Julia’s thinking as she goes through the options in her head, Bharash simply listens to what’s being said out loud instead and grimaces at the mention of the crime family “Ehhhh, sounds like that’d need to be pretty damn’ delicate. I mean ‘hey, we think you’re shady enough to have contacts with a notorious assassins guild we think might be trying to get us’ is a good way to make more enemies.”

From there, he simply shrugs and smiles blithely at Vogh, “Whatever you say, I’m just the muscle. I’ll give it a bit of thought during the week, see if anything comes up.”

===========================================================
Narrator
———————————————————–
Talin moved over to catch Kailee. The group kept an eye on him from a distance to ensure he wasn’t in danger. After a few minutes of small talk and questioning the young woman’s dark and sunken eyes welled up in tears. Kailee began to weep right in front of Talin, explaining she had indeed developed a shivvel addiction after trying it a couple times at parties. He believed her when she exasperatedly proclaimed she had nothing to do with the attempt on their lives. The young man felt horrible, and more than a little awkward with the girl sobbing, head in hands.

After grabbing a napkin and Kailee cleaned herself up, Talin told her to report anything suspicious directly to them. She nodded emphatically and thanked him, promising she would get a handle on the drug abuse. Composing herself, wiping her eyes again and smoothing her skirt and apron as she stood, Kailee thanked him again and left after a weak smile.

Rejoining the group sitting at their table, Talin shook his head in disbelief at how vulnerable the girl had been. No man was comfortable around a crying lady. He relayed all she shared with the group and no one was happy that another lead had become a dead end.

Each of the five friends were discussing their next steps, trying to figure out the best way to even make contact with the Balacazar crime family, and what was next, when an armed and armored being appeared inside the Minstrel. Everyone startled at is sudden presence. None of the group could determine the beings race, as it was covered head to toe in golden armor with it’s entire surface sporting etched and glowing runes. Metallic horns proceeded from the helm, and it carried a long hafted weapon which resembled a glave, but with far more curved, edged surfaces. The weapon, like the armor, was covered with golden runes. None of the group could even begin to speculate at the cost or magical embuements of such armor. Furthermore the style was unlike any of them had ever seen. It seemed ancient, like something that should belong in a museum rather than still being worn today.

The figure was already moving as it materialized in their presence. There was a collective gasp has it walks straight up to Telleth and in one motion ran her through with the oversized weapon. She gave out and unnatural scream that sounded more like a wounded animal than a lady.

Why became apparent after the figure ripped its weapon from the woman’s body. She immediately began to change shape and turn into a nearly faceless, hairless, humanoid with gray skin. People lept from their seats, unsure what to do. Weapons slid from sheathes, but none found the courage to charge the being veritably glowing with power.

It turned, walking toward the friends and began to materialize as quickly as it came. But before it’s form completely dissipated its eye slots caught theirs and each heard a deep voice reverberating in their heads. “Do not delay. The night is nigh.” Vogh noticed a small stone clattered to the floor at her feet, and when she looked up, the being was gone.

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Bharash
———————————————————–

Anyone who’s seen Bharash practice knows full well that he’s disconcertingly faster than any creature in full plate armour ought to be. Anyone who’s seen him in battle knows that he backs that up with a positively foolhardy courage and the ability to make even nominally superior opponents pay for their efforts.

So when the figure materialises, wanders around, murders someone and lingers for a little grandstanding, the reason he’s not more or less immediately all up in its grill must be because he’s leaving against the wall watching with abstract interest… There can’t be any other explanation, really.

“Huh.” he comments, walking over to nudge the lumpy cadaver with his boot “So, that happened.”

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Talin
———————————————————–
Talin muttered a phrase under his breath, Urthon Aedar,” with wide eyed wonder. When Vogh caught his attention and brought him back to the present he shook his head and muttered, “The Wandering Judges.”

No one else understood, so all eyes were on him for further explanation. Realizing this he once again snapped himself out of what seemed like a trance to those watching to explain. “They are an enigma. They are mysterios beings who just appear suddenly, perform some inexplicable task, then just disappear after. People have seen the Urthon Aedar accost people in the street, abduct people, even outright kill honest folk. Sometimes the reason for their actions become clear days, months, even years later. More often, their reasons are never revealed.”

Remember we talked about Talin was a reincarneted elf (from the book’s history of him) maybe the reason he knows this is from his “former life”? Don’t have to. Lemme know.

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh had been talking with the others when the Urthon Aedar thing had entered and strode over to Telleth and without any word killed her. Vogh had gotten up in that blink of an eye and before she even knew what was happening Clamour and Serenity were in her hands ready to fight. As the blade came back out and Telleth began to change, Vogh’s eyes went wide. Telleth wasn’t Telleth at all.. it was a doppelganger. Vogh knew that something was up, but couldn’t put a finger on it, well now she knew why.

As her sword tips dipped to the floor, the Urthon Aedar approached and spoke and disappeared once more just as it had appeared. The night is nigh…? It was a warning for sure but as she was running things through her head, Talin spoke snapping her out of her thoughts.

Are you certain what that was, Talin? I have heard of these things before but not much knowledge about them is written. Vogh then wondered how it knew that Telleth was what it was. Things were becoming really complicated. Vogh listened to all that Talin knew about them and would ask questions later.

As Bharash made his way over to Telleth’s body and kicked the doppelganger, Vogh said, Check the body for any clues Bharash. I now wonder where the real Telleth is, or if there ever was a real Telleth?

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Bharash
———————————————————–

“Clues, huh? Yeah. I’m good at that.” Bharash answers laconically, crouching down with a slithery creak of metal and leather to briefly examine the presumably quite, quite dead lump of clay-like flesh that used to appear to be Telleth, taking a moment to check for rings and gold teeth before wracking his brains and patting down anything it has in the way of clothing.

===========================================================
Narrator
———————————————————–
Bharash immediately recognized one thing once he closed with the creature. A ring made of bone which was adhered to the creature’s skin he had seen many times before now. He knew removing the ring was impossible, without cutting off the entire finger. The rest of the doppleganger’s body was without magical implement, armor, or anything. It resembled a nude, hairless and genderless human.

Someone had clearly ran out to warn the watch, because after a few minutes the same Captain and his men walked back in. “By the Spire. You folks gotta find somewhere else to stay…” He exclaimed, rubbing his hand over his face and short beard. “Well that’s not natural.” Was his comment in regard to the dead creature. “Lay it on me. What happened?” The Captain asked of Vogh, exasperated.

Word was spreading of all the excitement at the Minstrel, as more and more people crammed their way in through the front door. Finally the Captain barked at his men. “Two outside. Bar the entrance. No one else in.” He made no comment about preventing anyone from leaving. It seemed to be a moot issue, as no one acted interested in departing.

A young man who served in the kitchens dashed up into the common room to Zade. “It seems they’ve found Telleth. The real Telleth.” The bartender told Vogh. Moments later two young woman had the dishevelled young woman slung between them. She had an arm on each of their necks and was walking shakily. Telleth’s red hair was matted and gross, her legs and arms covered in scratches and her dress filthy.

Zade walked with them as they brought her over to see Vogh and the friends. “They found her locked in a big crate in the basement, stuck in a far corner. Let’s take her upstairs.” Surly as always, Zade seemed to be in an even worse mood as he scowled over the onlookers. “Go. Go. Take her.” He practically barked at the serving girls holding her up. “Miss Vogh, will you take her to your room and I’ll fetch a Priest?”

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Narrator
———————————————————–
Vogh and Talin took the real Telleth up to their room with the assistance of the two aids. They had gotten her cleaned up a bit, washing off her face and helping her compose herself, even change into a simple outfit Vogh lent her, before a Lothian accolyte showed up.

“I’m here to aid Miss Telleth.” The young man said. He looked to be in his mid-twenties. Frederick had cropped, straight, brown hair and brown eyes to match his rugged chocolate skin. At a little over five and a half feet he had a round build, but an oval, incredibly cute face.

Frederick checked over her, using salves and bandages on the minor scrapes and wounds. He cast some detect spells on her to make sure there was no poison or internal damage. “You should heal up perfect Miss. Get some rest.”

When the bards could finally speak with her, she explained that a week or more ago, Zade met her in the alley. She thought it odd, since Zade had just been inside and had not exited the rear door as she had. Shortly thereafter she realized it was not Zade at all, but the monster that attacked her. It knocked her unconscious and she awoke in the basement, tied and gagged inside the crate where they found her. When she woke, Telleth said she was looking at her own reflection, as the monster had replicated her appearance perfectly. She was fed daily, and allowed to use a privy at night. All thoughts of escape left her after the first attempt and subsequent beating.

At nights it had asked her all she knew about Vogh, Talin and the rest of the Calling. Telleth began to weep at sharing this with the duo. “I’m so sorry. It would hurt me if I didn’t talk. Even after I shared everything I could, still it tormented me to be certain I held nothing back. Please forgive me. I was helpless.”

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Bharash
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“Huh. Seen that before.” Bharash notes before he pries the creatures mouth open, looks inside and then finishes the short, fairly unrewarding job of going over it looking for clues, after which he produces a small, curved knife of the sort generally used for fine carving-work and ‘snicks’ off the things finger, holding it up to look over the weird little ring fused with it, while curiously asking “Did we ever work out how these things are removed?”

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Vogh
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Before Telleth was found, Bharash had cut off the finger of the doppelganger as he had so many of the other Pactlord’s fingers. The ring slid right off the finger once it wasn’t attached to the creature anymore. Vogh then answered Bharash, yes like all the other times, now if you are asking how the ring works, no we haven’t figured it out, though after we destroyed the well we are hoping that the rings don’t hold the creatures like they had in the past.

When word came that Telleth had been found, Vogh quickly rushed over as she appeared standing between the two other females propping her up. We will get her upstairs right away. Bharash if you want to come up you can as well. Julia I would like you to come as well to check out Telleth and make sure she is okay.

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Julia Graymantle
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Julia went up to Vogh and Talin’s room and even before the priest had arrived, Julia had already assessed that Telleth was okay besides the few bumped and bruises the creature had given her. The group listened to what happened and then Julia asked, What all did the creature ask of you? Did it ever say what its agenda was?

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Narrator
———————————————————–
Telleth shook her head at the questions. “It asked me so much that I didn’t know, of that I’m thankful. It asked me about your famalies, relatives, friends. Again, I’m thankful I know little about you all beyond Vogh’s family name. It asked how long you’ve been here, what I’ve seen you do, what you eat and drink, which rooms you stayed in.” As she made the final statement her eyes went wide and on reflex looked about the room.

Talin tensed as well, also looking about the room, suddenly curious if anyone else had been in there or done anything. He looked over at the water basin for washing their faces, then the bed.

“We really need to get the house built.” The bard said with a frown.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know much so I couldn’t give them much!” Telleth began to shake and dry sob some more, as her tears seemed spent.

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Bharash
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“Given that I’ve been snipping these off whenever I see them… And I really need to get myself a cigar cutter… Yes, I meant how do they work, in a larger sense.” Bharash answers, looking at the finger he’s holding for a few moments before setting it nearly on the chest of the body and rising, pocketing the ring, brushing himself off and adding “I’ll probably just stand guard then. No sense assuming that there were only the two plots targeting us in this tavern.”

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Julia Graymantle
———————————————————–
Julia had helped mildly with the cratches on Telleth, but when the priest showed up Julia said, “I am going to head downstairs. I think you all have this now. I don’t want to leave Bharash alone just in case there is anything else here.” With that, she went back downstairs. When she saw Bharash she explained all that Telleth had told them. “She is obviously shaken but she is not seriously hurt. I have a feeling she will be bumping up security here in the Minstrel.”

Julia pulled Bharash over to a table and sat down. “I am thinking that we need to change up our routine from now on. Maybe we stay at a new place every night, at least until we can either find a place of our own. Do you have any ideas? It seems that Deacon is going to be staying at the Inverted Pyramid from now on so we have each other to look after.”

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Vogh
———————————————————–
Vogh nodded to Julia and said, Thank you for your assistance. As Julia left Vogh turned to Telleth and gave her a hug. The poor woman was beside herself and it wasn’t her fault for what happened. Telleth none of this is your fault. I am sorry for bringing this to your establishment. As you know we will have been building our own place and it will be done and ready to move in soon. Then perhaps you won’t have as many issues.

The day hadn’t even hit the midafternoon yet and they already had two major things happen to them. What will the rest of the day bring, Vogh could only wonder.

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Bharash
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“Huh. So it wore Zade’s face to get close to her, then used her likeness to screw with us. Nasty.” Bharash remarks, after he’s had the quick-and-dirty version of ‘what the hell just happened, anyway?’ dropped on him by Julia, whose efforts to drag him off – because all of her, soaking wet would approximate the mass of any two of his limbs – resulted in several seconds of her feet skidding on the boards with one hand wrapped around his arm before he ‘deigned to notice’ and, with a good-humoured huff moved away from the stairwell to the nearest empty table.

Once he’s been briefed, he leans back a little and frowns, visibly thinking things over before growling his assessment in his usual deep, rumbling tones “Well. Getting a place of our own under the circumstances is just asking for a convenient fire or worse. If whoever is doing this has access to shapechangers and can afford multiple doses of expensive poison and the casual disposal of minor magic, other taverns are going to be in danger too… The ideal would be to get under the protection of a group you don’t casually offend, but be sure and to go out a fair bit. If we’re ‘vulnerable’ some of the time that’s most likely when we’ll be attacked, and at least we’ll know when to keep our eyes open.”

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Deacon Havenhold
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The Unseen Servants brought books as commanded. However they weren’t quiet what Deacon wanted at first. For a book on poison they brought a book on cantrips that included of course a Detect Poison spell but Deacon only discovered that after deciphering several pages in the book of Cantrips.

Jevicca had told him on his tour that all you had to do was call out the name of a book and they would fetch it for him. That was his problem he decided. He simply did not know the names of the books he needed. While the Unseen Servants were attempting to be helpful they were not intelligent enough to decipher from his requests which book he needed.

When he called for a book on scrying the book brought did not contain the actual spell Scrying as he had hoped but instead was a general treatise about using the spell. It showed how to properly place a silver mirror such that the wizard could easily use it from a seated position. Why the mirror should be silver instead of mica or some similar material. It also told about how items connected to their owners and could help facilitate scrying. Much of it he already was familiar with but that did allude to the fact that he would need a suitable mirror even once he had the spell.

Deacon sighed a bit he was in the greatest library in all the land, yet he felt like a babe taking their first steps. His family were mostly sorcerers. He had taken a different path but even the path he took was not similar to many wizards. Something seemed to have always guided him, made magic easier to come to him than most wizards. If he was going to make headway on this subject he would need some assistance. It seemed that members did not frequent this library often he’d been here a few times and seen no one. Jevicca had mentioned that an elf or dragon, one that had lived even to nearly the end of their lives, could not read everything here even if they tried.

How was he suppose to navigate it. He reasoned that some wizard at some time had to have made some spells to make navigating the library easier, but he had no idea what their name would have been or what volume to ask the servants to bring so the chances of getting those was slim and his resources were limited and he specifically needed certain spells and with the need for focuses he’d need almost every penny he had.

Jevicca had mentioned that Dora could give him a greater tour of the Inverted Pyramid. He had not wanted to bother Dora again on this day, not wanting to make himself a pest. Still there was little hope of him getting the correct books without some assistance. He looked towards the doors again hoping another member would enter but he did not see any.

He had identified one of the poisons as Leng’s Tears. He did not know much of this Leng but it was a proper name or seemed to be. This might be a clue of what to ask for in getting the information he needed. “Bring me A Treatise of Leng he commanded the Unseen Servants. It was a concise enough title that he figured in all the vastness of this library there was such a book.

He figured some great volume would come his way but it was a small book. Not even as big as a spellbook. Yet he had found what he needed. Leng was was more properly called the Plateau of Leng. It was a distant dimension possibly related to the Dream Dimension or perhaps had splintered from it. It was a desert surrounded by inhospitable mountains. The denizens could nearly pass for humans. That is if they didn’t have cloven feet. There were denizens of Leng as they were called. They had strange ways. It appears that Leng’s Tears were made from the tears and sweat of these denizens.

It was a fascinating read. One that took him a few hours to read. It seemed that these Denizens at times helped even lowly people as much as they might help an Archmage. He wondered if it might be possible to conjure one of these Denizens. Based on what knowledge the tome held he figured it would be about as difficult as summoning a Erinyes. Something he could do now but had not. The Denizens of Leng though seemed to be creatures of chaos. Could they possibly be behind some of the recent events, are they the progenitors of the Night of Dissolution? It was an interesting thought. Denizens of Leng could learn any language telepathically, and thus most understood nearly all languages, as such communication would not be a problem. Still summoning such would not be something to do lightly, and it was unlikely they’d know anything about this specific assassin. Still it was an interesting study.

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Deacon Havenhold
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Having finished the volume he held it aloft and said, “Return.”

A dutiful unseen servant promptly appeared near him and took the tome back to its resting place.

Deacon was not sure he wanted to bother Dora yet, she having saved his life earlier that day. Not knowing the titles of what he might need he decided to get up from his seat and move to a nearby shelf to look over a variety of book titles. Arriving at the shelf he glanced over the titles of the books, a few had them on the spine, but most had to be taken and looked at the title page to find out what was within the tome.

The Hellish Folio of Euheros
Threri’s Compendium of Artifice
The Book of Miacha
The Codex of Shadows
The Elemental Shards of Kilmin
The Bifund Apocrypha
The Book of Desecration
Beti’s Folio
The Accursed Parchments of Aznaz
Crada’s Leaves of Superstitions
Ukral’s Manuscripts
The Malign Scrolls of Donemo
The Grimoire of Psychoportation
The Celestial Tome of Agros
The Baatorian Folio of Khori
Coinme’s Compendium of Telepathy
Fory’s Grimoire of Sorcery
Pomosim’s Enchiridion of Elementals
Alin’s Grimoire of Good
The Book of Thrinarv
Undin’s Libram of Madness
Dumonax’s Articles
Demikkas’ Manuscripts
The Compendium of Krisosis
Eles’ Grimoire of Ectoplasm
The Grimoire of Cesio
The Fiendish Articles of Posido
Pherylli’s Leaves
The Malefic Folio of Elab
Foilla’s Articles of Blasphemy
Harpodo’s Book of the Silver Void
Kurda’s Scripture
Desosoph’s Scripture of Omens and Portents
The Fell Leaves of Thali
The Bari Slates
The Grimoire of Anaon
The Arcane Tablets of Duna
The Elthorias Slates
The Eldritch Fragments of Cati
The Malign Folio of Malbre
The Enchiridion of Losypho
The Codex of Apias
Silusios’ Scrolls of Prophesy
The Tome of Summons
The Compendium of Healing
Askar’s Leaves of Blood
Catha’s Libram of Psychoportation
Thari’s Scripture of Monstrous Plants
The Baiscne Shards
Magli’s Folio

The Tome of Summons that looks interesting Deacon thought selecting the book as well as The Grimoire of Anaon and The Grimoire of Cesio. Anaon and Cesio were most likely wizards long since gone and this was a collection of spells that both had written. It seemed that there were a large number of useful books. Oh Silusios’ Scrolls of Prophecy he grabbed those, maybe just maybe there was something on the prophecy about the children destroying the world in those.

He took the four back to where he had been seated and laid them down while he took his seat again. He unfurled Silusios’ Scrolls of Prophecy hoping for some insight on the current situation. [Private to Narrator: (OOC: I’ll leave it up to the DM to determine if anything of use there).]

While perusing the Scrolls he seemed to lose track of some time and the Unseen Servants dutifully came and reclaimed the other three volumes placing them back upon the shelves. So quickly and quietly had they accomplished this that Deacon hadn’t even noticed they were gone til he got to the end of the scrolls. He recalled that Jevicca had mentioned that tomes left unattended to long would be returned by the servants to their proper place.

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Deacon Havenhold
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Deacon smiles rolls up Silusios’ Scrolls of Prophecy and rises from his seat to return to the bookshelf placing it back himself. He supposed it was a good policy that the Unseen Servants would return unattended books. It would keep one member from hogging a lot of books while others waited, though looking about he wondered if such a policy was needed now. He shrugged.

He once more took The Grimoire of Anaon returning back to the desk to look through it. It would take to long to do it mundanely so once seated he cast read magic and looked carefully through the book to see what spells might be within it. This might take a long time he thought to himself as he read. He was looking for specific spells.

The book had a leather bound cover with brass corner protectors. The book looked in relatively good shape and Deacon was not certain of it’s age. There were doodles in the margins showing how to draw various circles to protect against this or that.

There was one good thing his Read Magic casting would last throughout the book and just under two hours later he had deciphered the entire spellbook. He believed based on the contents of the book that Anaon was probably an Abjurer which might explain the doodles in the margins.

It contained the following spells:

1st—alarm, endure elements, hold portal, protection from evil, protection from chaos, shield, grease, mage armour, mount, unseen servant, charm person, floating disk, colour spray, disguise self, magic aura, silent image

2nd-arcane lock, obscure object, protection from arrows, resist energy, glitterdust, web, gust of wind, magic mouth, mirror image, phantom trap

3rd—dispel magic, explosive runes, magic circle against chaos, nondetection, protection from energy, phantom steed, summon monster III ,hold person, lightning bolt

4th—dimensional anchor, firetrap, lesser globe of invulnerability, remove curse, stoneskin, charm monster, fireshield, resilient sphere

Many spells here were of interest to Deacon but there was not time or money enough to get all the ones he wanted from the book at this time. Nondetection that was a spell he definitely needed and Protection from Arrows might have prevented that problem at the Minstrel. He was really tempted by Lesser Globe of Invulnerability as well as Magic Circle against Chaos but at this time he needed other spells. Resilient Sphere sounded awesome too but again he had to focus it was like a child in a candy store.

This would be a book he’d need to copy from he’d need supplies first though and that he’d have to arrange through Dora. He wondered if you were able to check out books and take them with you. Obviously not outside the pyramid, he’d have to ask about that.

For now he decided he’d return the volume and get it again tomorrow when he had supplies. Placing it back on the shelf he retrieved the nearby The Grimoire of Cesio hoping to have some luck with that volume as well.

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
The Grimoire of Cesio had a white cover. One with a dragon etched on it’s front cover. The material felt like a scale, then Deacon realized this Grimoire was made from scales, scales of a White Dragon. The edges of the cover were scorched perhaps telling the fate of Cesio.

He took the tome back to his reading desk and sate down casting Read Magic again that he might speed up the process. He was not sure as with the last one what he would find. I mean something like Codex of Shadows was descriptive as was the Tome of Summons both of which he planned to look over in time but Grimoire of Cesio could be almost anything.

As he opened the cover and looked within he found that there was a devotional prayer to a Ni-Gorth:

Oh thou binder of Father Claw,
Whose Strength is unparalleled,
Grant unto this unworthy one,
Strength to overcome all evil,
Show me the path everlasting.

Ni-Gorth had been a wizard priest of Father Claw until he chained him to save the world from evil. Was that not a Night of Dissolution Deacon though, could such a feat be repeated. Was his patron of Strength perhaps Ni-Gorth who had no priesthood anymore and had almost faded into memory. It was a thought. If Ni-Gorth had overcome the Night of Dissolution in his time, then perhaps they could as well.

It also meant this tome was ancient. Perhaps among the oldest of books in the library. He went on and read the spells within the tome, some beyond his current ability. Cesio had been a powerful wizard, more powerful than Deacon was now for sure.

5th—lesser planar binding, teleport, wall of stone, wall of force, feeblemind, magic jar, telekinesis
6th—antimagic field, planar binding, summon monster VI, contingency, programmed image
7th—greater teleport, greater arcane sight, grasping hand, project image, reverse gravity

Lesser Planar Binding and Planar Binding were certainly spells he wanted. Look there was also Contingency, he would not need the scroll Jevicca was going to have Dora give him, they could preserve that scroll for someone else and he could copy the spell from this tome. Many of the spells were beyond his ability at this time though but some very nice spells and some he did indeed want but other pressing needs were needed now.

He would need this tome tomorrow as well. He rose from the reading desk and returned it to it’s place. He had not found a book containing scrying or the ability to detect it. This might be something that would take time, still he felt he would take a break from reading and returned to the common area north of the entry area of the first floor.

When he arrived he contacted Dora “Dora I’ve returned” he sent mentally through the thoughtstone. He suspected she probably already knew he was present but thought it best to announce it. “If you have time I have need to speak with you about procuring some writing supplies and spell focuses.”

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Deacon Havenhold
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Dora quickly sent back “It is very late today Deacon, I’m afraid I do not have time to meet with you this night and my morning is filled tomorrow, the earliest I can meet with you will be lunchtime tomorrow.”

Deacon was a bit disappointed with this news, but he had no choice but to accept it. He was not the only member of the Pyramid so he figured her time was pressed by many members.

Deacon sent back to her “Thank you that is much appreciated so I’ll meet with your morrow lunchtime in the East Dining Hall on the first floor if that would be okay with you?”

Dora responded “That would be fine, good night Deacon.”

Deacon sent back “Good night, Dora.”

That meant it would be a late start tomorrow on the transcribing. Still it was safer to stay here in the Pyramid than to leave it without the others. He would need to let the others know what was happening and that he would be several days.

Having rested a short bit he decided to return to the Main Library and work some more, he did not require more than 2 hours sleep due to his ring so he could decipher more books tonight in preparation for tomorrow making sure that things went smoothly once he could get his supplies.

He approached the same shelf again and this time took The Tome of Summons. Taking it to his work desk he sat down and opened it up and cast another Read Magic cantrip to speed the process. He just wanted to see if any spells he wanted was in here after all he still needed Summon Monster V to complete his basic summoning spells.

The Tome of Summons’ cover was made of feathers, raven feathers. Bound together securely. The pages of this book were of a black vellum. It was possible they had used squid or octopus ink in the making of the vellum he thought to himself. The ink was a metallic ink, possibly electrum or silver. The book was in exceptionally good shape.

He began the process of reading the pages to identify what was in the book.

1st—protection from evil, grease, mage armour, mount, obscuring mist, summon monster I, unseen servant, silent image
2nd—acid arrow, fog cloud, glitterdust, summon monster II, summon swarm, web
3rd—phantom steed, sepia snake sigil, sleet storm, stinking cloud, summon monster III
4th—black tentacles, dimension door, minor creation, summon monster IV
5th—secret chest, summon monster V, wall of stone

Much to his delight there was Summon Monster V. He would need this volume in the near future as well. Silent Image was another spell he’d like to bolster his illusion spells. Sepia Snake Sigil and Secret Chest would both be fine additions but he could not afford the material and focus costs at this time so they would have to wait.

He rose and put the book back. He looked over the shelf and still many books of possible interest. He reached for Fory’s Grimoire of Sorcery, he had time for one more before he needed to rest.

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Deacon Havenhold
———————————————————–
Fory’s Grimoire of Sorcery was a somewhat battered book. It was made from a scaly hide, perhaps crocodile. The pages within were a musty parchment that smelled of damp thatch. Deacon nearly had to hold his nose til the strong smell dispersed as the book lay open.

Deacon cast his Read Magic looking over this volume as he had the others. He hoped for more of the spells he was looking to acquire.

2nd—protection from arrows, acid arrow, summon swarm, detect thoughts, touch of idiocy, scorching ray, minor image, blindness/deafness, pyrotechnics
3rd—explosive runes, sleet storm, rage, fireball, lightning bolt, displacement, ray of exhaustion, shrink item
4th—fire trap, dimension door, detect scrying, lesser geas, shout, hallucinatory terrain, elemental body I
5th—dismissal, secret chest, dominate person, feeblemind, cone of cold, polymorph

Deacon was overjoyed to find Detect Thoughts, it was a spell that could aid well in their investigations. Continuing on he found another spell of interest Ray of Exhaustion, he had made a career our of summoning and rays and having another Ray would be very useful. The ability to exhaust a foe would be extraordinary. Finally a spell to Detect Scrying, that could help protect them and the one his friends had suggested. Still no Scrying spell so far though.

Deacon closed the grimoire and replaced it back on the shelf. He was well pleased with his progress, though he wish there was a way to get word to his friends. His only communication spell was Whispering Wind though and it could not escape the walls of the Pyramid. Sending word thus would have to wait til the morrow.

He left the main library and headed down the hall to his sparsely furnished room. He was surprised he had not seen other members so far. It was actually a bit unsettling to the elf used to bustling city streets, still wizards were a reclusive lot at times.

He wanted to put an Arcane Lock spell on his door, but he didn’t have the gold dust yet and would need to request that tomorrow as well. He could use an Alarm spell but it would sound anytime someone entered the hall thus meaning no one would sleep, he doubted the wizards would react well to that.

What he needed was a watchdog. He had heard of spells to summon a phantom dog but sadly had not yet encountered such a spell, perhaps he would find it in time with the library though it was not a high priority on this trip, he wanted to concentrate on other spells for now.

He decided for now the room would have to do without any magical enhancements. He went to sleep to wake in just 2 hours, which with his ring would be the equivalent of resting 8 full hours which he hoped would be an advantage against their enemy.

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Narrator
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Deacon found an invisible text revealed by his spell in the book of prophecy.

There was no one to remind us
A Shadow waits behind us
We pretend we’re all that matters
They are endless
Do you think this is forever?
Pretending, believing that we’re safe here
This moment is endless
You run from shadow
Wait here for the Dark of tomorrow
As the days turn into Night
When you’re looking in the Mirror
You can’t ignore your fear
There’s nothing on the other side

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