Captain Donellgan was surprised to see a cleric brought in under charges of attacking a noble.
Donellgan was a stern looking man but at this point he seemed more curious about why a cleric had attacked Ellistan Surrinak.
Justinian did not flinch from his story and told the captain that it was Melora's will. The captain just shook his head, "I think you let your own righteousness get caught up with this. Since when is Melora protective of Kord? Kord will provide his own judgement and certainly he would not have Melora doing it for him. Besides, while we are beholden to the gods, striking out at the Surrinaks is foolishness. Ellistan's father is dying and a black cloud hangs over his thoughts these days. He is an angry man right now, it is best you no longer provoke him. I fear he will try to exact a steep monetary punishment from you when he comes later tonight."
"Captain, you seem like a wise enough man. So let me point out a few things to you. First off, if I ever took it into my mind to actually attack Mr. Surrinak, he would have fared FAR worse than a little mud on his tabard. cracks knuckles for effect Second, forgive me if I am wrong, but I don't see a holy symbol on your person. So unless I am mistaken, I am quite confused how a layman could even presume to know the whims and wishes of the gods. What Melora chooses to do or not do is not for you to interpret. So unless you are secretly communing with Kord and She, you may wish to rethink your stance on knowing exactly what they would or would not do.
"And lastly and far more importantly—Ellistan has no right to assault people or threaten their lives than any other man, lordship or not. He drew blood on his own cousin, and threatened the lives of myself and my friends. I'm sorry his father is ill, and I would certainly minister healing to him if asked, but for ME to be accosted and brought before you when that fool is the one who actually is guilty of assaulting people today is a farce."
"That holy symbol that you wear does not absolve you of your actions no matter how much you protest. I may not be as blessed as you with the power of the gods but I am a faithful man. Maybe I shall send for the head of the church of Kord and the two of you can have a discussion?" Captain Dongellgan was clearly becoming a little riled.
"Melora has certainly instilled a wildness and stubbornness in you but while in this city and under my watch you will not be attacking nobles. What happened between Ellistan and Mallik is something they will have to figure out. It is not your place, unless you wish to join the city militia, to enforce the laws of this city."
He turned to the two militiamen, "Take him to one of the tower cells." The crimson cloak he wore fluttered in the wind.
"I do not want trouble with the Surrinaks, cleric. I know I'll find them more trouble than you'll be to me. In the meantime you will be treated well while in the keep. Have a little patience, if you do not, I can make things uncomfortable. I will talk to Ellistan before he sees you and advocate for a lighter penalty. But I am giving you fair warning not to be so bullheaded or he will exact a greater price from you."
Justinian sat in the cell within Sumberton Keep. His "diplomatic" ways had managed to get him a cell that at least had a view. Looking westward out over the city he could see the Great Obelisk and he could hear the bustle of the daytime city beginning to settle down to the almost quiet of the night.
As like a caged animal he broods over this outcome but Melora takes a hold of him. A calming sense comes to Justinian.
In his mind he can see the peaceful forest, a light wind rustling the trees. His mind settles and he begins to understand that, right now, he has more important things to do than to fight this noble. What you have discovered recently needs more investigation, get out of the city and find what you can. Something evil is growing and it threatens the forests, the rivers, the mountains and the grasslands. Find what you can and make sure that the wilds are not corrupted by this malignant growth.
Before night had truly fallen Justinian had a surprise visitor. Mallik, the cousin of Ellistan, showed up with a cloaked woman, her stark white hair a true contrast to the midnight blue cloak. Her face was hidden and she remained behind Mallik the whole time, never saying a word.
Mallik was still sporting a swollen upper lip, "I do not have long to talk to you because my cousin will be along shortly. You and your companions are brave and a bit foolhardy for standing up to Ellistan. However, I like that. I suggest you pay your dues to Ellistan for now but I may be able to repay you for your troubles in the near future."
"Mallik, is it? I am sorry for any trouble I may have caused you. You seem a just and good man. I do not take kindly to people abusing others in front of me, and was not aware of your uncle's declining health- for that you have my sincere sympathies and hope for a strong recovery. I will heed your advice and thank you for it. A darkness is threatening the land and you are right in that I have more important things to do than squabble with your cousin. I am appreciative of any intervention you can provide on my behalf and will do as you counsel.
May I inquire as to who your guest is?"
Mallik did not even turn around to acknowledge her, "She is just a … friend."
He seemed more interested in what Justinian mentioned, "A darkness you say. What is this you speak of? I know the troubles on the eastern border have been concerning but the Luminant Order and the Crimson Guard are keeping a close watch. The gnolls were fought off at Kel's Rise and the dragons that destroyed Andrushel Keep have not returned in more than a year."
Even though Mallik seems personable there is something within Justinian that does not like the cocky smile. The confidence that he projects feels more like someone who knows how to get away with something.
"It is just a troubling feeling I have. I have of late been having dark dreams of the forest and an encroaching shadow over it. Perhaps it is nothing but the over-active imagination of a tired man. The Council has asked us to investigate. If we find out anything concrete, certainly I shall share it. The Goblin raiders have grown more bold of late, and that is cause for concern."
Mallik briefly seemed to think things over. "I'm sure it is certainly something that the local militias can handle. You say that the Council has asked you to investigate. What council is this? I have heard of no actions within the councils here in Sumberton, though I did overhear during the Marrilach Council today that the Riverstone Guild was working on getting their spices back from a recent goblin raid."
The solid thump of boots echoed down the hall and came to rest in front of Justinians cell. Ellistan peered in, unsmiling, "I hope this day has taught an unwise priest a wise lesson."
The night sky had clouded over and a light rain had begun to fall in Sumberton. The torches on the wall flickered and caused the shadows to sway as the wind kicked up.
"For your foolishness and your lack of respect for a noble I have requested and been granted 100gp in fines. Lucky for you, I am not bitter man because I could have easily taken 1000gp. I have told the captain to send for your friends, when they pay the 100gp you will be freed."
"Lord Surrinak, again, I apologize for today's events. You are most gracious. If you will forgive the intrusion—I heard about your father being ill, and if I can be of any help with my healing arts I would be happy to place myself at your disposal. "
Ellistan seems taken aback by Justinians response.
"I am afraid there is nothing you can do. His disease has been looked at by our own priests and there is nothing to be done. It is only a short matter of time before he passes on. He is an old man anyway and he wishes to move on now. I … I only wish it wasn't in this way."
Ellistan composes himself and returns to the hardened look he was trying to maintain. However, the stress of recent events line his face and his eyes look as if they have seen little sleep.
"I hope this is our last meeting in this way Justinian. This is not how I want to spend my time and certainly this is not where you want to spend your time. Maybe it is a lesson for us both."
As you bail out Justinian, Captain Donellgan inquires about what you discovered.
"Hmm, so the goblins in the Stonemantle Hills have been dispatched. That is good to know. Do you expect any more trouble from them?"
Grigori explains to the Captain that the goblins were tougher than normal, well organized and working with the dark arts. There is more happening up there than just a rag-tag group of goblins.
"Dark arts, you say?" the captain looks concerned. "Well, it sounds as if you did well by dispatching those foul creatures. I hope it was worth the trouble. We'll be sure to increase the patrols on the roads and inform the merchants to increase their guards along Sumber's Road. You may also want to discuss this with the Luminous Order."
"Ay, Cap, they mentioned something about destroying an "obelisk" thingy – any idea what they might be talking about?"
Captain Donellgan looked confused, "I'm sorry druid, are you not from the valley? This is the Valley of Obelisks. Scattered throughout the area, small and large, are hundreds of them, though they are relics of a bygone age. I believe they were built around the same time the Slaughterscar happened. In fact, the city of Sumberton has one of the larger ones but many of the citizens consider it an eyesore."
"Oh yeah, yeah, those obelisks, of course. So who'd know about them? Any professors of antiquities around these parts that can mebbe tell us something about them? I doubt our ancestors went around building those things just for kicks, y'know? Anyway… ay, you ain't seen no bird or something, with a message for me? Mebbe a skunk? Yeah, that'd be like them, to send a gods damn skunk. Well, if ya see a skunk, just be careful, sometimes they get rabies'n such when they're carrying messages back'n'forth, that's why birds are better. Well, if ya see a skunk, corner it with dogs first so they run out of stink spray, and then pin it down with a stick so it don't bite ya… then ya can safely interrogate it. Better yet, give me a yell, I'll take care of it! Animals respond better to druids, we got good woodland empathy and stuff."
As he fastens the last few buckles on the donkey's harness Grigori can't help but smirk. "I was wary of going to see the Luminous Order on the subject of local security when the Captain of the city guard had instructed us too. But now that a little birdie told us, there is no question that is the path we must take!" said Grigori, dripping with sarcasm. Using a more serious tone, "We should go speak with Sir Falston Tordell. He is a knight of the Luminous Order. I have spoken with him previously."
"Ay, ay, watch yer mouth with that 'little' crap! Technically, cardinals are decently large birds, and they've got good ears and sneaky tendencies towards subtle violence when ya got yer back turned. Besides, you rather hear it from a skunk?"
"We ever get that sword back to that lady? Or that amulet? Mebbe I can go tie up some loose ends while you guys go play Knights and Scholars."
"Very well. I shall go speak with the Luminous Order and inform them of what we have found. Justinian can seek out the Sages of the Azure Eye and Hef, you take the heirlooms back to their owners. Shall we meet that the tavern at sundown? "
"Sounds like a plan… Waitaminnit, the Council says we need to talk to the Sages of the Azure Eye, but the captain mentioned the Scholars of Arken and Chendra the White. Now I know you guys just think I'm some hick hobbit from the hills, but I think its fair to say this is the Big City and we gotta be careful about what we tell to who, because politics can kill a lot quicker than a Goblin Dreadgoober. The Cap seems like a nice guy but I say we follow the Council's advice and just talk to the Sages fer now… Justinian, mebbe see how them Sages feel about the Arken scholars and whether or not they're a trusty source of info. Oh! And mebbe we should ask about these Surrinaks, I think we might want to see what kind of doo-doo we stepped in there…" Hef pokes Justinian with a sly gleam in his eye. "Oh hey, Just, I saved ya a muffin, since ya probably been living on thin gruel since we got back… where'd I put it… I thought Big Red left some… gods damn cardinals…"
"My guidance does not come from your council, little one." , bowing slightly to illustrate he means no disrespect. "My guidance and instructions come from the Eladrin High Council. I am to trust the Luminous Order, gain their trust and help them rid this land of whatever evil is slowing taking hold. Those are my orders, therefore… I must go speak with Sir Falston."
"Aw man, too many Councils! I didn't mean not to trust yer Knights, I assume you've got good reason to trust them and wasn't suggesting a change of plan there. Of course anyone with a 'Sir' before their name is utterly trustworthy… har har har… I was referring to my Council, the Council of Seven, and their directions to seek out the Sages of the Azure Eye, as opposed to the Captain's suggestion of Chendra at the Scholars of Arken. There's a lot of interests involved here, and I was just suggesting we be really careful on who we seek for help – if there's evil afoot in the Valley, you can bet its here in the city just as much as it is in little caves in the hills!"
Bowing slightly out of respect, "I shall return in two days."
Grigori spends the rest of the day at the trade market preparing for the next task that is set before him. As the shadows of the rooftops begin to stretch further across the streets, Grigori begins to make his way back to the tavern to meet his companions.
Grigiori agrees with Hef about being careful. However, during the conversation, Hef and Justinian can't help but get the feeling that Grigori is somewhat naive when it comes to politics and personal agendas. He seems to follow his orders almost "blindly", which, in the right circumstances, could be dangerous.
Hef's visit to Hala:
The sword looked much too big for the halfling to carry and he got a few curious looks as he wandered through the streets of Sumberton. After finding Hala, she gave him a big hug and told him that one day that she would try to repay him and this companions.
Hef's visit to Naryalla:
Hef had to wait at the Sly Wink for Naryalla to arrive later that night.
In a fairly dispassionate way Naryalla says, "It is unfortunate what has happened to Zehil. I am curious though, what did you find in this goblin warren? How was Zehil killed?"
Hef's arches an eyebrow and chomps at his cigar with a sly look on his face. "Heh, ya ain't the only curious one at this table, lady. Payment first, sister. Then, if yer feeling talkative, I might share a good story or two about this so-called 'warren'. Mebbe you can tell me what's so important about this chain, and what sorts of research this Zehil was involved in."
Hef polishes the chain's obsidian stone with a smirk.
Naryalla eyes narrow as she takes a long look at Hef.
"The chain is of importance to the Black Masters. If you want that information you'll have to travel to the Black Tower. However, for the return of the chain I have for you two potions, one will aid you in resisting fire (Potion of Fire Resistance) and the other is a curative potion (Potion of Healing)."
"Now, what is it you are holding back halfling? I sense that you hold something back, something that was … significant."
"Yes, it is quite significant, how shrewd of you. And yet you haven't told me anything significant in return. It's curious this chain has a chunk of obsidian on it, don't see much of that around here… except aren't those obelisks made of it? Just what sort of research was your Zehil involved in?"
"Zehil is … was part of the Ebon Cabal. What he was doing is what the Ebon Cabal asks of him. The chain is given to all initiates, it provides a link to the Ebon Cabal, it was a symbol of his status and it grants a few small gifts to the wearer if they understand how to use the arcane arts."
"I ain't asking what the Ebon Cabal is researching, I asked about what Zehil was researching, and what's so special about the chain. You've told me pretty much squat about either, and I think I'm gonna return the favor, lady. Mebbe there's other people might be more innerested in what we found."
"If you must badger me about his research, I will only tell you that he was doing research on the obelisks. I'm sure, if you look into the history of the obelisks you'll find out that they played a large part in the Battle of Slaughtergarde. Most people do not take the time to look back at history and in time the reality becomes story, story becomes legend and then the legend is forgotten."
"Have I given you enough?" Naryalla says sarcastically. "If not then we will go our separate ways. Which would be a shame since there may have been more we could have discovered working together than working alone."
"Well that's a little more like it. See, yer Zehil wasn't exactly dead when we ran across him – the gobbos were doing some demonic ritual and had just returned him to life. We had to put him down again, and also the little demonic cult they had going there. Our priest got a little enthusiastic, trashing all the demonic altars and what not. Dunno if they were just making another zombie outta Zehil, or intended to question him."
"Well Naryalla, tell me, what is it you think we can discover working together? I know for our part, we'd like to track down and eliminate whomever might be guiding the destruction of these things, demonic or otherwise."
"More research needs to be done. If there are physical things that you can get that we could study it may tell us more about what is going on. Was there any items that you picked up that I could see?"
"Yeah, a shard from some mirror that was showing some strange images innit, was pretty wacky stuff. Seemed demonic, the people it showed. I don't got it though, we were going to have the Arken scholars or Luminous fellas look at it I think." Hef waves his cigar hand nonchalantly, smoke eddying around the table, but he keeps a careful eye on Naryalla to see her reaction to the names of those two groups. Oh, and I got these ritual candles, they were used in Zehil's brief foray into unlife… I figgered I could use em in some of my rituals, but I'd be happy to trade ya for some cleaner ritual doodads if yer innerested in 'em."
Justinian heads to see the Blue eye'd sages but on the way wants to stop by and take a closer look at the Big Obliesk in the center of Sumberton.
Justinian stopped by the Obelisk in the center of Sumberton and tried to see if he could garner information by studying it. He did not have any luck. So he began to ask around about the Sages of the Azure Eye. He also did not have any luck as most of the commoners did not know about the sages. He was directed towards the Scholars of Arken and the guildmaster there, Chendra the White.
Justinian stood amazed at the site of stacks and stacks of books. He could not remember seeing so many books in one place and this was only a small portion of the guild. When he entered into the guild a scribe took his name and any other information he could get from Justinian.
Justinian had to wait for a little while and the whole time he did the scribe did not stop writing. When Chendra entered Justinian was pleased to see that they had something in common, she was half-elven. Chendra was older but it was hard to tell except that Justinian could really see this in her eyes.
"I was told you wish to speak to me. What do you want?" Chendra says rather bluntly.
"First, I have been tasked with finding and speaking with the Sages of the Azure Eye. If anyone would know how to find and contact them, I assume it would be you. Also, I request all information you have on the Obliesks- their creation and use in the Slaughterscar war. Even legends and unfounded theory books will be useful. Something evil is afoot in the valley, and I believe we will need all the knowledge at our disposal to identify and combat it. And lastly, I happened upon an odd device that perhaps you may have some information about. A mirror that acts as a window to another place or time. Images that are not reflections of the here and now shown in it. Have you heard of such things or have any books that might describe them?"
"The Sages of the Azure Eye are a secretive group. It is interesting that you search for them and wish to learn about the Battle of Slaughtergarde. These sages are the true keepers of the knowledge of that time but I do have some of the information you seek," she seems intrigued.
"I may be able to help you but it may be difficult. You may not have heard but one of the Sages was murdered here recently."
"The Battle of Slaughtergarde happened nearly 800 years ago. The people of the valley were called upon by the dwarves and the Eladrin visionaries of the time to construct the obelisks in preparation for an invasion. And sure enough the invasion came. A great demonic mountain was transposed from the Abyss to this plane. We called upon the aid of the gods and the angels and a massive battle was engaged."
"As the day wore on, the obelisks did their job and slowly siphoned away the power of the mountain. The demonic minions, enraged and revealing in battle ignored their commands to destroy the obelisks. As the magic that held the mountain to this plane weakened it began to break apart and crumble. In the end the mountain exploded in vengeance and all that was left is what is now known as the Slaughterscar. Rumors had it that demons had fought among themselves in the end and that there may have been a great betrayer in their ranks."
"Many lingering demons and their ilk were hunted down over the next several decades. And to this day the Slaughterscar is still a reminder, to those who care enough about history, of the nightmare of those times."
"If you care to leave the mirror with me I can do some research on it for a price."
"The people of the valley constructed them? out of what material—they seem unnatural. Of the 10 largest, only 6 still stand—the others having been apparently targeted for destruction one by one in my opinion. Please, if you know how I can get in contact with the Sages, it is urgent that you tell me. I did not hear that one was murdered. What were the events surrounding the death, and how did it occur? There seems to be a concerted effort at work here, and if we do not pool our information and discover it, we may find out after it is too late to stop whatever is going on.
"I do not have the mirrors with me, they were large framed units attached to a wall in a cavern my group investigated. I was merely hoping that in your studies you had come upon mention of such devices and what they might be. Do you have ink and quill? I would sketch you a drawing of demonic faces we found carved into the walls. Perhaps they have meaning to you?"
"Thank you Chendra. You're information has been very helpful. My colleagues and I will return tomorrow then. I have one last question—does one of the final 6 Obliesks reside near Castle Surrinak by any chance?"
"Yes, within Surrinak Castle resides one of the greater obelisks. Why do you ask?"
"Hmm….And the castle lies on the edge of Wyrmwood forest… If my theory becomes more concrete I will share my hunch with you, but at this time it is little more than a wild theory and I don't want to voice mere nagging suspicions that aren't based on facts. I thank you for your time and information, mi'lady."