102 - THE CALLING

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102 - THE CALLING

Post  Admin on Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:39 am

Aidan has been captured and is being questioned by agents who work for Mhorvaeus.


QUESTION TIME

Aidan finds he has a hood pulled over his head and he is dragged somewhere else roughly. The hood is removed and he finds himself inside what appears to be a small wine cellar on a chair (tied).

Two masked (black leather masks) men confront him, both speak with a strong accent which Aidan thinks might be from Karnath. [INT 16] If this is the case, then these men could be agents working for Mhorvaeus.

ONE OF THEM ADVANCES AND SAYS “we're going to have a little chat ...”

...

“Why have you come to Korranberg?”

… “To visit the university.”



“Good. What were you looking for in the library?”

… “I was trying to find out what the library contained for further research.”

“What research?”

“History.”

“What history?”

“Gideon.”

“I see … who do you work for?”

… “Myself.”

He retrieves the sharp knife from the wall and paces for a couple of seconds.

“I'll ask you again. Who do you work for?”

“My research is my own. I am presently a crew member of the Zephyr Breeze.”

“Good. Why do you accompany Ahlissa on the Zephyr Breeze?”

… “Because I am a crew member. And she often needs m y translation skills.”

“Don't insult my intelligence … we both know that you do more than that. What business are you conducting for her?”

… “I am conducting no business for her at all. The visit to the library was my own. I am thinking of writing a book.”

The short man shakes his head and the tall man flexes his hand and cracks his finger joints.

“Tell me more about this book you intend to write.”

“It is about my experiences in Zanarkand.”

“Who do you think woulkd want to read that?”

“Considering I am the only person who saw what happened, the university for one would be very interested.”

“What did you see in Zanarkand?”

“The arrival of Mabar.”

“What was your job in Zanarkand?”

“I worked at the library.”

“So you would be familiar with its former patron, Lord Khannay?”

“Yes.”

“To what extent did you kow him?”

“Well … I knew what he was, if that''s what you are asking.”

“Tell us what you he think he was.”

“He was a vampire.”

“How do you know?”

“I found out.”

The tall man cracks his finger joint again. “How … did you find out?”

“Research.”

“Really. You just happen to research vampires, do you?”

“You would be surprised what was in the library. I certainly was.”

“Let's go back to your work for Ahlissa on the Zephyr Breeze. As a crew member, does she pay you well?”

“Money doesn't interest me much. I like the ship and its crew. They are good people to work for, unlike some of the competition.”

The tall man strikes Aidan hard in the face with his hand. 4hp.

“I think you will find the competition is also very good at what it does. If money does not interest you, then what does?”

“If you are trying to buy me, don't bother. I am not interested.”

He hits Aidan again. 3hp. “Don't speak out of line. You will tell me what the Zephyr Breeze is carrying on board in its cargo. We know it has something concealed on board. You will identify the hidden cargo.”

“Yes, there is cargo on board.”

“Describe it. We know about the mundane items. Tell us about the shielded compartments.”

“You employer should know better than to pry into other people's business.”

“We know you took something from underneath Gideon City. You have it on board the Zephyr Breeze. Describe it.”

“Yes, we found a box that was being exacavated by another team, which was being led by a vampire, who got killed. We took the box but I don't know what was inside it. I haven't seen inside it.”

The short man shakes his head again while the tall man looks furious. He strikes Aidan with his hand for a third time and holds the sharp knife menacingly towards Aidan's throat.

“What do you know about the demise of Baron von Claagen beneath Gideon City?”

… “We fried him. That's the second vampire I've seen.”

“Choose your next words wisely,” the tall man says drawing closer and his fetid breath wafts over Aidan. It really does smell quite putrid. He applies pressure with the blade of the knife against Aidan's throat. “Who is responsible for killing the Baron. Was it you?”

“It was a group decision. But I basically said he is a vampire and suggested how to destroy him, with fire bolts. Very effective.”

He releases the pressure and steps back. “Thank you for your honesty. I can see you are not strong enough to cast the magic necessary to destroy one of their kind. You should know that our Master is deeply unhappy with what happened. You will tell us what you took from the Baron's expedition and you will personally see to it that our Master gets it back.”



The tall man strikes Aidan again. 3hp.

“I do not believe that you did not open the box you say you recovered. What was in it?”

“I did not say the box was not opened. I just was not there when it was opened. It is an elven artifact, I believe. I don't think your master would be able to touch it without being hurt by it.”

“So … we know you are a scholar. We think you are working to help Ahlissa study the item you stole from our Master's expedition. Perhaps we should take you to our Master. Perhaps he could … convince you … to work for him.”

“I think he knows I will not work for him, given what he is. By the way … is this room shielded?”

The tall man hits Aidan again. 4hp.

“The room is protected, naturally. This will be over soon. We do not fear discovery by the authorities. Are you afraid that you will not leave this room?”

“The mere fact that your employer has shown interest in me and no other leads me to believe that I will leave, yes, because he doesn't want me dead, surely.”

“Even if we kill you, right here , right now …. the Master will ensure that you serve him. Would you like that?”

“Of course not.”

“Good. Then let us proceed. Who else travels on board the Zephyr Breeze? We have seen some … special actvity in Gideon … prior to your departure. It is not common for elven royalty to attend briefings. Nor is it common for the luggage of elven royalty to be loaded onto the Zephyr Breeze. Who is special person that the airship carries?”

“I have no idea. He has never been seen dining with us, or anything. It could be a she. But I did say it is an elven artifact. It could be very old.”

“This is getting us nowhere,” the short man says.

“that is because you got the wrong person to ask the questions.”

The tall man hit Aidan again. 3hp. Then he draws the blade of the knife along Aidan's arm. 2Hp, drawing blood and the wound is stinging.

“We should just kill him and be done with,” the short man says.

“No … “

Eventually they will tire of the exercise and pull the hood back over his head … but not before they receive an interruption.

One of them looks to the other and says “the Master contacts us.” and produces a small smooth flat egg-shaped obsidian stone from his pocket. A small beam of wavering light emerges from the item and an image of Mhorvaeus appears translucently and speaks to them. His image speaks in the language that Aidan has heard before, the slow hissing accent of the dead.

*****

“What does he know?” Mhorvaeus enquires.

“He tells us nothing. He is not cooperating.”

“So there is defiance in this one. Interesting. Let him go,” Mhorvaeus commands.

“Will he inform the others of our presence, Master? Won't that attract the attention of The Trust?”

“It does not matter. They cannot detect you. I have seen to that,” Mhorvaeus informs them.

“Then your will shall be done, Master. We will release him shortly.” Both of Aidan's masked assailants bow respectfully and the image smiles.

“Good.”

The image of Mhorvaeus blinks out.

****

“This is a polite message from Mhorvaeus. Watch your back. Do not trust the people you think you know.”
Then they knock him out and dump him in an alley near the air ship dock, where local constabulary find him.

“What has happened to you?”

“I don;t know, I was roughed up by a couple of people. Nothing has been taken.”

“Where are you from?”

“I am heading back to the Zephyr Breeze, once I find out where it is. I am returing from the university.”

“So, you travel with Ahlissa. Quite a reputation her ship has. “

“As has your university,” Aidan replies.

They look proud and say “Very well then traveller. What is your name?”

“Aidan ...”

“Well Aidan, good travels. If you wish to file a complaint or a charge against your assailants then do visit the station house at the air ship dock. Get your injuries seen to, they look minor. But crime is rare in our city and we'll be on look out. Do you have any description of the assailants that you might give us?”

“Basically both were hooded. One tall and one short. I was held captive in a cellar for a while and don't know how I came to be found here.”

“OK. That's not much to go on, but as I said, file a report at the station house if you wish to proceed with the matter. “

Aidan thanks them. They bid you good day and direct him to the air dock..


Return to the Zephyr Breeze

Slightly worse for wear, Aidan returns to the Zephyr Breeze.

Ahlissa and Jillian both express their concern and sympathy for his ordeal.

“What happened?”

“I was accosted by two of Mhorvaeus' henchmen.”

“What … here, in Korranberg … one of the most protected cities devoted to peace in all of Khorvaire?”

“Yes, they seemed very interested in what we have on board.”

“What did youn tell them?”

“The only thing they know is that it is an ancient elven artifact. That is all. I saw an image of Mhorvaeus appear and he spoke in that language we heard when we last m,et him. He spoke of a group called the Trust.”

“Yes … the Trust are the secret police force of Zilargo. The ones I spoke of before our arrival here. In what context did he refer to them?”

“It was a henchman that mentioned them and Mhorvaeus did not seem concerned that they might learn his agents are here. Aslo … the Baron we encountered beneath Gideon was Mhorvaeus' servant. It was his expedition that we came across.”

“Then they know we took something.”

“Yes, and Mhorvaeus wants it back.”

“Curious that he had agents working for him who knew to watch for our arrival.”

“It seems they have been watching us very closely at Gideon. They know about the shielded area of the ship.”

“Yes,” she agrees. “We must remain on guard. Did they reveal any other information when they questioned you?”

“No … I kind of learnt what I told you through their questions. They wanted to know what happened to the Baron and I said we fried him. They wanted to know who destroyed him and I said it was a team effort but I was the one who identified him for what he was. It seems that was correct, that he was a vampire, like Lord Khannay, who also got a mention during the questioning. Mhorvaeus is certainly not happy that the baron no longer lives.”

“It seems they dealt you with some degree of disfavour … you must rest and regain his full mental and physical composure before she is prepared to let him interact with the amber dragon shard alone. Preparations have been made, but I want to be certain that you are strong enough to face it,” she tells him.

Aidan nods and says “Oh, by the way, the visit to the library was quite informative.”

“Really? You must tell me more after you have rested.”

Aidan is led to his room by Jillian where he is given healing/sleeping potions and given time to rest.

“I feared the worrst when you did not return on time. And seeing you injured worries me. Are you sure you are alright?”

“I will be after rest and a good feed. They only roughed me up a bit.”

“then rest well. “ she says. “I am pleased that no serious harm came to you. Things were quiet without you here. There has been no activity with the shard.” She leaves him to it.

As he drifts to sleep he feels the gentle motion of the air ship leaving port and making its way north west.

ALONE WITH THE SHARD

Ahlissa confirms that the Zephyr Breeze has not being followed after it departs Korranberg and moves across Zilargo. She shares breakfast with Aidan and Jillian on a small private viewing deck that connects to the rear of the command bridge.

“You may study the stone as you see fit,” she informs him. “Just you. However we will intervene if things get out of control or you appear to suffer harm in any way.”

“Now … about the library.. it is truly impressive inside isn't it?”

“Yes, very impressive. I am getting a copy of a book made for me that may have been written by your guest.”

“Oh really? That is a strange coincidence. What is it?”

“The Schism … I also learned that any requests by Gideon for any information related to history is being refused by the Gideon council. “

“Really? On what grounds?”

“No grounds have been given. They just refuse requests for anything related to history which has the scholar I was speaking to intrigued as to why this was happening.”

“It seems very odd for the political class to censor information that has been widely accepted. Did the scholar say when this started?”

“It was very recent.”

“I wonder what they are trying to hide ...” Jillian says. “The people of Gideon seemed to be happy and free when I arrived. Such a policy does not seem fair or compatible with the established system.”

Ahlissa says “It does seem to be a new development. Something I have not heard of before. Are you certain that this is happening?”

“Yes. When he heard I was from Gideon and told me basically what I have informed you.”

“Then I will have some associates look into the matter behind the scenes,” Ahlissa says. “If there are moves to censor history afoot then I wonder what else is being suppressed from the general population. It sounds like Zanarkand used to be.”

“Yes, it does. I think I have an idea of who or what is behind it. The Twelve, possibly. It's interesting that Mhorvaeus is based in the same general area as that group. And it has been increasingly obvious that the Seeker is aligned with them, for he has been opening hunting down abberant dragon marks. I also found a reference in the library of the Star Haunt that it was believed to be home to Umbragen. So the library is quite a repository and it is extrememly large. I do wonder if Gideon is doing what it doings then I wonder how Korranberg agency is doing in Gideon.”

“that is curious,” Ahlissa remarks. “Your former mentor Professor Brevax works for them, does he not?”

“yes. Also I encountered a tabloid reporter who knew my name which certainly surprised me. So I dare say I'll be in the tabloid news. He was asking all sorts of questions about what I was doing here, so I diverted him away from what we are doing here to more about me writing a book. He left qwuite happy with that knowledge.”

[groan] “Oh no, not the scabby tabvloids again … did they ask about me by any chance?”

[blushes] “Yes,. They kind of knew we were at the Liberty Spire and wanted an exclusive which is why I shied away from that and menmtioned my book instead, which worked.”

“Oh … good. I am tiring of those articles.”

“I did say you are happily engaged, other wise Io'd hate to think what he'd write.”

“It could be worse ...” she says. “Any way, it sounds like you got rid of the pest. So thanks for that. Tell me, have you given your interaction with the dragon shard much thought?”

“I know how to do this because as we peel layer from layer I sense its presence is there and I have had to back away at times from getting too close but we are coming to an impasse and only contact is going to shed ore knowledge of what is contained within.”

“We have kept the room empty for the past two days and protective wards have been set outside. Your interaction with it will be fresh and untainted by any other hand. The scholars and scribes have reached an impasse in recent days with nop new knowledge forthcoming.”

They complete breakfast and Aidan goes to study the shard. Jillian takes him to it. “Be careful an d good luck,” she says.



Aidan enters the room.

The shard looks impressive, far more so than Aidan remembers from his last time in the room with it. Before his eyes it seems to grow larger, or is it more that it makes Aidan feel smaller in its presence?

It is a new feeling.

WILL DC 30

The room appears to darken. SPELLCRAFT 27. Aidan realises this is an illusory effect … he shakes it away easily, although he does feel that the item is attempting to dominate him.

WILL DC 30

He approaches the shard and reach out to it. In response he feels it is drawing you in.

Aidan caresses the amber shard and he sees the black symbols, words and patterns morph then shift into new forms that he has not seen before.

DECIPHER SCRIPT 38

DARK KNOWLEDGE 28.

Aidan observes that it is an early cuniform interpretation of Drift Magic and the spells being referenced are related to darkness, evil and necromancy. A blend of elven and infernal tongues.

Ashatar
Black Sand
Choking Sand
Cloak of Shade
Dessicate
Flaywind Burst
Flesh to Salt
Mummify
Sunstroke
Wither

He wonders why the shard is revealing these spells to him. He knew of Drift Magic teachings from Zanarkand but never learnt much of it first hand. Also, he recognised that the darker side of that magic was not taught openly, nor encouraged.

Then something feels close. Like something else in the room with him. A living entity.

Aidan realises it in the shard itself. It is pulsing, breathing, waiting. There is something contained within.
It feels as though it's will is drawing him in.

DARK KNOWLEDGE 32

Demonic life force … the entity is definitely a demon. Imprisoned within the shard. It wants to get free.

Then a name comes to Aidan … a familiar name … Qualtesh … it is the destination of the lost underground city that the Umbragen were exiled to, far beneath the burning wasteland of the Demon Waste.

An image of a nightmare landscape is burned into Aidan's mind. “Go there.” the shard commands.

Unable to resist, Aidan finds himself answering. “Yesssssss ….”

Then he blacks out and collapses.


Aidan awakens in the infirmary. Two elven healers and Jillian are there.

“You collapsed again,” Jillian tells him. She looks very concerned.

“What happened?”

….

There is a demon imprisoned inside the shard. That is the presence I have been detecting. I saw new spells, drift magic but a darker form of it. I saw a vision of a nightmare landscape and a shattered city deep beneath the sand …. Qualtesh. That is where the demon wants to go.”
“that doesn't sound safe at all … “ Jillian says. “we are following the will of a demon? Can we simply not proceed?”

Aidan realises he is bound to the dragonshard and the demon has a hold over him. He thinks it may also be related to the event of the Star Haunt as well. He knows he has to go to Qualtesh, there is no stopping him. “Look, with the interaction I have had, it has a hold over me and no one else. Thankfully I am not the one who can just turn a ship around and just go back. I cannot say if there is anything more to learn from the shard than what we have. Perhaps we sdhould take what we have and connect the dots. Piece it together.“

“We must inform Ahlissa at once,” Jillian inists. “the journey will end in peril if we follow a demon's wishes. I know what that is like. My people were sewduced by similar entities, albeit from another plane, but the result is the same. Evil. Pure evil. It takes over. We are all in danger. Can't you see that? “

“I agree. Ahlissa has got to be told.” Aidan thinks boy have my dreams been shattered. This is endangering the snhip and crew at the moment.

“Well … when you are up to it, we'll have a chat with Ahlissa. I'll try to keep the emotion out of it but I'll have to tell her what you just told me, so she is warned about the issue.”

Jillian leaves the room but touches Aidan's arm gently to reassure him.

Aidan considers he should voluntarily confine himself to his room.


Later … several hours have passed. It is night and the sky is clear and many stars are out and visible.
Aidan is in his room. He elects to stay there quietly to contemplate what to do next.

Why has the shard with such promise proven to be this?

Near midnight … there is knock on the door. He opens it. It is Ahlissa. “Penny for your thoughts? I have heard the news.”

“I am wondering how something so promising has turned into this ...”

“Do not worry. This was always a possible outcome and all of us knew what we were getting into when we joined the quest to sail into the Demon Wastes. So … we now learn that it is a demon that is taking us there. The fact is it is imprisoned insoide that shard.”

“Yes … how was it imprisoned and who imprisoned it?” Aidan says.

“That will no doubt become clear when we reach the destination. I have no intention of backing down on supporting you. I have changed our course. We are now avoiding populated areas, unless it proves absolutely necessary to enter them. This is partly due to the fact that Mhorvaeus is watching for us. If we avoid populated areas then it is less likely he can find us. That will frustrate him greatly. “

“Again ...” Aidan smiles.

“We suspected something like this might be revealed eventually, as you were unusually obsessed. We thought it at first it was just your nature but even Athovar – after meeting with you – determined that something else has gained control over you. For now, it is in your interest to follow the demon's wishes. Athovar informs me that not doing so may be harmful to you. Of course it is just you being compelled. But as I said, we agreed to do this with you. We know the risks and the challenges. If you were alone you probably wouldnlt survive. But we can help you at the end.”

Aidan thanks her. …

“Look, tomorrow is a new day and it will be brighter. I have accelerated the ship and we will stationed over Lake Galifar. I think you will like that.”
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