In-Character E-mail 10


Kristy

The Characters:

Tobias Orindel – Played by Adam
Vashvari Gahnalende – Played by Mike
Ichtaca Ollin – Played by Jared
Lyda Jennish and Other NPC’s – Played by Kristy

The Scene:

The train is under repair, and it will take at least a day to get it up and running. The engineer and conductor are dead, the result of planted explosives, and the junior engineer is directing the repairs. The Duke-Regent’s colonial guards have disembarked and now patrol around the train, warding off further attacks. Duke Regent Bergeth still diplomatically insists that this attack was no more than another raid by tribal Wyrgoth Orcs, who resent any colonial presence in their territory, but, as Vash and Ichtaca have convinced the ambassadors otherwise, he has mollified the group with promises “to see that a full inquiry is conducted” and plans to double the guards at each duty station along the way in an immediate response. This sits poorly with Ambassador Chor, and Ambassador Losoran is grim. Ambassadors Vitali and Miatherra seem reassured, but both still watch the woods carefully. The guards are on full alert, and riders have been sent down the track to the next guard-station, to bring back more soldiers. The air is chilly, frost rimes the windows and plants outside, and a cold wind is ripping red and gold leaves from the trees. You can see your breath cloud out before you whenever you leave the slightly warmer train cars.

The train cars provided for the ambassadors are sumptuous and comfortable, with multiple cars provided for sleeping, dining, and lounging comfortably with drinks and pipes. The ambassadors and Duke-Regent Bergeth gather in a smoking car, passing around Chayrshellechan brandy and discussing anything but the peace effort, as such talks will officially begin in Forteth when they arrive, hosted by the King himself, who plans to participate. They are assessing each other and the Regent, dancing around any talk of business, and all but Vitali and the Duke-Regent seem very on edge. Vitali is calm and coldly logical as always, and the Duke is composed and authoritative, but impeccably polite.

Magistrate Viln is holding a private religious ceremony outside for many of the etholchan guards, honoring those who died defending the train. He has sacrificed a goat on an impromptu altar made of piled stone. Two rows of bodies are being wrapped in black cloth, and the devotees each sip hot goat-blood from a chalice as the Magistrate intones ritual prayers in Zoroch, tracing sacred sigils on each body before it is wrapped. Anotros Ciprano, meanwhile, watches the funerary rite from a distance, leaning against a tree just close enough to hear. Sometimes he speaks softly, as if to someone beside him, but there seems to be no one there.

Spirit Elder Malua attends to grounds where Cátzin spread the ashes of the disgraced Nuslec, sanctifying the area with chants and a circular, shuffling dance. As he moves, he shakes sanctified soil from a bag. (Jared, I’m assuming that Ichtaca is attending this ritual, grim and silent. Please jump in and say otherwise if you’d like.)

Lyda has had Losoran’s guards carry Tobias carefully into her own private chamber in one of the sleeper cars. It is small, one of two narrow rooms in the car, and holds a bed, a small desk, an overhead luggage rack, and a comfortable arm-chair by a wide window. The chamber across the aisle is similarly furnished, and belongs to Losoran. The train car behind is the compact, multiple-bunk sleeper car that Tobias, Ichtaca, and Vash have been sharing with Losoran’s two Eladrin Guards, who have come to trust the trio over their journeys. (Their names are Pilieth and Valomel.) The car ahead holds a communal latrine, and three private showers (hand-pumped water, but re-filled often with hot water.)

The guards set Tobias onto the narrow bed, and bring a buckets of hot water and rags. With their help moving him around, she gently strips him down to his underthings, washes the blood, grime, and pine sap from him, and wraps him in clean sheets and warm blankets. She has dosed him with an herbal drought for the pain, and used psionic healing magic to knit together his broken bones and torn muscles, but they are still healing, a process that will take many more hours of her intense concentration. The pain is still intense. While she is nearby or touching him, the pain is miraculously reduced, her psionic healing magic permeating the healing tissues, her mind holding away most of the hurt. The farther away she moves, the more the pain increases, becoming a white-hot agony that leaves him awake and miserable, gasping for breath and unable to think.

Once Tobias is settled, Lyda sat Vash down in her room’s comfy chair, removes Cátzin’s hasty field wraps, and cleans and re-bandages the drow’s wounds. She gives him an herbal drought as well for the pain, and tries to settle him in the rooms armchair to rest under her watch. (Mike, it’s up to you if Vash rests there or if he feels well enough to move around and go elsewhere.)

Lyda took a shot herself, and her blouse is soaked in blood from the hastily bandaged shoulder wound. She heads to ‘the neccessary’ to get cleaned up, changed, and re-bandaged, but returns quickly. She is interrupted just outside the room by Ambassador Losoran. And the two stand in the narrow hallway, discussing the wounded men in hushed tones.

“… but with my help, I hope he will be mended in a few days. And Vash shows no sign yet of infection, whatever that woman says. I haven’t seen to Ichtaca, uncle. Can you have someone send him to me?”

“Don’t worry, child, I think the shaman already saw to his hurts. The other wounded have been gathered in a car behind, and they are being seen to. Viln will tend to them, he’s thrilled to demonstrate his power.”

“Ugh. I don’t want to see that.”

“I know. Come get me if I’m needed.” Losoran wrinkles his nose in distaste. “I’ll be preventing a riot in the lounge car.” The eladrin ambassador leaves.


Michael

After having all of the crystal shards from the golem removed, and the wounds bandaged, Vash thanks Lyda and leaves to rest in his own room. Once there, he sits cross-legged on his bunk, and slips into his meditative state to recuperate. His eyes are closed, but will occasionally open and glance quickly about the room, as if he is absorbing any changes since he last checked. He will respond if spoken to.


Kristy

Vash’s shared room is not empty, as Pilieth, one of Losoran’s guards, is off-shift and resting in his own bunk. The eladrin is also in a trance, resting quietly as if asleep, and does not disturb Vash. After some time, Vash hears the door to the car creak open, and a blast of cold wind disturbs his rest. He opens his eyes to see Anotros Bartoli Ciprano standing in the doorway. The man glares suspiciously at the startled Pilieth, but turns away and addresses Vash.

“I would speak with you, Drow. Privately. Will you walk with me?”


Adam

Tobias lays in the bed, trying his hardest not to move or breathe much. A constant shiver runs through his limbs as he tries for the first time to speak.
“La… laa… Laad… Lyda, unh…”


Kristy

Lyda rushes back to his side and sits, leaning over him, to change the cold compress on his forehead, wiping his face and neck. A flow of soothing psionic magic flows through his body like cool water, and the pain recedes to a manageable level again. “Try not to move, love. I’m right here.”


Adam

Tobias’ words come out as a raspy whisper, mostly because that’s all he can muster. “Th-th… thank you… saving me.”


Kristy

“Just returning the favor.” Her mouth is to his in a brief, gentle kiss.


Michael

Vash rises smoothly in one graceful movement, securing his maul and greatsword over his back and strapping on his gun belt. “After you.” He follows the Silphenite out of the car.


Kristy

Anotros Ciprano leads Vash down several cars, to his own private sleeper car. Several bunks line the wall, and he sits on one, waving Vash towards the one across from him. His Motare accent is thick, musical. “You are an impressive man, Vashvari Gahnalende. I wish to thank you for saving my life. One moment later …. well. That abomination that killed my brethren… I’ve never seen its like.” He gives Vash a level look. “Tell me drow, why would such vile sorcery be seeking you? It seems you have-” his grin becomes wicked, “-untapped secrets.”


Vash looks around the room briefly for a place to sit before deciding to simply stand and face the Anatros. “I’m sorry for the loss of your friends. The orcs and the crystal monster were both unexpected passengers. Many people died today who did not deserve it. As for killing the crystal beast before you followed your brethren, I was simply in the right place at the right time with the right tools. I appreciate your thanks, but it is not necessary.”
(Bluff check to appear as if Vash has nothing really to do with the golem: 21)


Kristy

Ciprano smiles disarmingly. “I’ll not report you for your magic, elf, don’t worry. I’m a tolerant man. And it was surely an impressive display of death, that spear of light and color. Such skill is rare.” He looks towards the window, where Ichtaca is passing by with the shaman. “You keep strange company, elf. A man so weak he’s practically a cripple, a mindless brute with barely the brains of a turnip, and …” he grins slowly. “Well, I certainly understand your closeness with the third. But I digress.”
Ciprano stands, paces in the small chamber. He seems to be gathering his thoughts, choosing his words. When he finally speaks, he is earnest, his tone passionate. “From the moment my lash tasted your flesh, I knew you were meant for the Refiner. Your every cry was a sweet hymn to his glory. I’ve read of the drow, friend. Your fey gods don’t want you. Who knows what untold, gruesome, filthy secrets stain your filthy soul. Only one god can make you clean. Only one will welcome you with open arms. Mine.” He unfurls his flail, meeting Vash’s eyes with fervent sincerity. “Shall I purify you again?”


Adam

A low groan issues from Tobias’ mouth as his swollen eyelidss flutter closed and he gives himself back up to sleep.


Kristy

Lyda leans against the wall, holding his hand, staying awake and keeping his body awash in a flow of healing energy.


Kristy

As Tobias drifts into sleep, he feels a presence in his mind; hears a deep voice, full of power and persuasive reason. “There’s no need for you to suffer so, little psion. Give yourself to me, even in part, and I can take away this pain far better than this untrained girl can even begin to.”


Adam

“No,” Tobias’ mind says back. “I know nothing about you but the company you keep, and I’m not about to let a friend of Vitali or that degenerate silphenite into my mind.”


Kristy

The voice chuckles warmly. “Such harsh words! Neither of my associates have harmed you or yours. Nor will they, once we are joined. Here…” Tobias feels a slight intrusion, and suddenly, all traces of the pain are gone, replaced by a lingering euphoria in every cell of his body. Unsure if he is awake or dreaming, his senses tingle with new awareness, psionic magic augmenting them to acute sharpness. Sensations wash over him: the smell of herbs and fresh linens, a lingering bitterness from the herbal draught in the back of his throat, the chill in the air near the frosted window, the contrasting heat of Lyda’s body as she sits beside him, the sound of her heart beating, loud as a drum. A sense of health and vigor washes over him, physical strength like he has never known; potency pounding through his veins and muscles.

“Just a small taste, little psion. What think you now?”


Adam

“I… I…” Tobias is taken aback by the fantastic power. “Who are you that you can do such things?”


Kristy

“In my first life, I was his Grace the Chorrom. I commanded nations of believers, and kings knelt at my feet for grace. Now, I’m something more, a spirit more powerful than you could ever dream, Tobias Orindel.” Mathis’s Roccurrish is fluent, cultured, but with a trace of a Motare accent. “What you want, I can give you, if you will clothe me in your flesh. A healthy, strong body, free of pain. Your powers, augmented until your very blood sings with energy. Men shall kneel at your feet. Riches, glory, the adulation of women. This woman. I know you desire her. But does she want you, or does she feel sorry for the cripple? One little word, and you could take her in your arms…”


Adam

“But what is it you want of me?” Tobias asks, as cautious as he can be after the powerful sensations. “Surely you want more than just my flesh. You could get flesh from anyone.”


Kristy

“Oh, you are unique. This taint in your blood…no taint, it is a gift. if you embrace it… you will know such power…power I’ll not find in any other mortal.”


Adam

The memory of Jenmai’s monstrous visage wrenches Tobias out of his trance. “No. I will not go down that road. I will not become that… hideous beast.”


Kristy

Tobias feels a flash of anger not his own, but Mathis’s voice is soothing, his tone reasonable. “Who says you must? Your body will be perfect, if you only wish it. Give it to me, and I will give it back to you as something worthy of your mind! Psionics and Aberrant power are at war within you, lad, in concentrations I’ve not seen in over a century of life. Let me merge them into something that has never been before, a power so great it will dwarf all others in the service of my Lord! We will wield it as a great hammer and crush all who dare stand against us!”


Adam

“In the service of your Lord? I know your Lord well enough, Chorrom, and I do not intend to serve him. Find yourself another puppet.” The words run out of Tobias’ mind as a weight of sadness hangs over him at the realization that this power only comes in the service of Daemoth.


Kristy

With a snarl of rage, the presence grows in power, trying to overthrow his mind by force. He can feel his hand involuntarily contracting, crushing Lyda’s, bearing down with a bruising force his muscles, unaugmented, could never manage. She cries out in sudden pain, trying and failing to free her hand from his crushing grip . “Tobias?”


Adam

Sweat pours from Tobias’ forehead as he musters all his power to force the hostile mind from his [arcana roll of 29]. Every bruised and torn muscle in his body contracts and his teeth grind hard as he battles with Mathis.


Kristy

The pain washes over him again, the white-hot waves of agony seeming far more excruciating by comparison with the painless euphoria he just felt. His body betrays him for a moment longer, surging up, muscles screaming in protest at the force that moves them. Even as he pries the invasive force from his mind, his hands snatch Lyda’s arms with wrenching force, slamming her backwards, and her head hits the wall with a sickening crack. Her eyes wide with shock, she crumples, and the healing magic she was channeling into him fades from his body, ramping the pain into a new peak. Sweat breaks out on his forehead as it moves his hands towards her throat, but finally, he prevails and rips himself free of the domination.

“Have it your way, whelp! Keep your whore! Your hold on his body grows weaker every day! You cannot always be on guard against me! Sometime soon, I’ll take what I want, and you’ll be no partner, but the most wretched of slaves, just like your father before you!” Searing his mind with hot rage, Mathis is gone.


Adam

Jolts of pain streak through Tobias’ torso as his broken ribs move with his quick breathing. He tries to sit up in the bed, but his body does not respond. Weakly, he looks over at Lyda, and reaches out to her.
“Ly… l-da, pl…not… oh, ma… daem… not my… oh,” Tobias tries desperately to speak to her, but only broken sounds issue from his mouth. As he reaches out to her he falls out of the bed and lies on the floor, face down. “I… please…” he mutters, weeping. “So… so sorry.”


Kristy

He lies like that for what seems like an eternity of pain beyond anything he’s ever imagined possible, unable to move, unable to reach her, though her limp hand dangles over the edge of the bed, just inches from his fingertips. Eventually, a guard passes by the open door, and seeing his distress, moves to roll him over, calling out for help.


Adam

Tobias cannot speak, innumerable thoughts running through his mind, each more awful than the last. He tries his hardest to fight through the pain and watches Lyda, begging her in her mind, please, please, please be okay. Please be okay. I love you. I’m so sorry. Please be alright.


Kristy

Lyda’s mind is unresponsive, a dreamless dark. Losoran is there now, issuing a stream of commands. His voice, and the voice of the guards, fade in and out of his hearing, a flurry of action surrounds him.

“..and you think they were attacked? No idiot, don’t move him farther than the bed, his bones are broken in a dozen places!” "
“Sure it was something hit the girl. Lump like a goose egg, m’lord, and look at her arms-”
“-hands off, lout, that’s my niece! I’ll carry her myself, you get a healer in here, now!”
“…my lord ambassador, I’ll carry the girl, you needn’t-”
“(swearing in Losandrae) Out of my way!”

Soon, Lyda has been carried off, Tobias taking her place in the narrow bed. Ambassador Losoran returns, dismissing the guards and ushering in Magistrate Caral Viln. The priest, looking back at the ambassador as if to be certain he is watching, reaches for Tobias, his hands glowing softly.


Adam

No! Tobias’ voice resounds in every mind present. Then, just to Losoran, Get this bastard away from me. Where is she? Is she okay?


Kristy

“Witchcraft!” Viln backs away, staring at Tobias with bulging eyes. Losoran intervenes swiftly, and the two argue for a moment before the ambassador both calms Viln, and convinces him that no black magic is at work here, that the voice he heard was spoken aloud, it merely sounded strangely in the small room. Viln, still muttering about Chayrshellechans and elves and their ‘ungodliness’, leaves. Losoran slides the door shut, and turns back to Tobias, finally answering him aloud. “We are moving into Trentsmund, Tobias. You must be more careful. Psionics will be just as misunderstood as arcane magic, and I’d prefer not to have you burned at the stake.” He sits on the edge of the bed. “Lyda is in my room. She’s out cold, but breathing steadily. The spirit elder is tending to her, I’ve got my own men at her door, keeping any colonials from exposure to another power they may misunderstand. Superstitious fools.” He pulls a small glass vial from his belt pouch, grimacing at the smell as he uncorks it, and moves to pour it into Tobias’s mouth. “Drink this. It’s impractical of you not to let Viln heal you, boy. His magic is potent, even if the source is… unsavory. Healing is healing.”


Adam

No, I can’t, Tobias says mentally, not after her soothing touch, I will not allow that filth into my body and mind. But you’re right, I apologize for my indiscretion. I just… a groan issues from his mouth as his eyes close. I’m so afraid for her.
__
________________________________________
Michael

Vash’s mismatched eyes flicker over the lash, and then rise to meet Ciprano’s in a steady gaze. “No, I think not.” He turns to leave. “Those men you revile so easily are my friends, priest. Don’t insult them again.”

Leaving Ciprano’s compartment, he hears the guard’s shout for help from a few cars down, and rushes to help. Vash looks in on Tobias, who doesn’t see him, and witnesses the scene with Viln. He follows the magistrate out of the car, assessing the man carefully for a moment to see if he accepted Losoran’s explanation, or is now aware of Tobias’ abilities. (See insight check below). Then, while Tobias is speaking with Losoran, Vash greets the eladrin guardsman Valomel, slipping into the room with Lyda and the Norlythin shaman. (What’s going on in there?)

(Insight check to assess Viln’s knowledge of the unknowable: 16 + 7 for 22 total)


Kristy

Losoran pours the potion into Tobias’s mouth, trickling it slowly so the fluid doesn’t choke him. “I was saving this, but…” he trails off, watching his patient, as the potion takes effect. Tobias can already feel it working. It is a magical draft, incredibly potent, and certainly illegal in Trentsmund. He finds the pain in his bones and muscles fading to a manageable ache, though it settles at a higher level than the constant background pain than he is accustomed to. The swelling fades, his bones are knit, his muscles no longer torn.

The guard Valomel comes in, whispers to his Lord, then leaves quietly. “Elder Malua says Lyda will be fine. The skull is not cracked, and she’s awake now. I assume she’ll want to see you.” He pauses significantly.

“Assuming you are afraid for her life due to whatever injury, you may be reassured. If you mean the danger you have led her into by training her in psionic magic, however… well, I cannot speak to that. I do not dissapprove, either, except that you’ve kept it from her father…and myself.”

He sighs, standing up. “How did this happen?”


Kristy

Vash is certain that Viln believed Losoran’s lies. From his mutterings, the Magistrate no longer suspects Tobias of specific magic use, simply of a grotesque cultural tolerance for the arcane in general.

When Vash enters the ambassador’s room (an entire train car, sumptuously furnished), he sees Spirit Elder Malua holding hands over Lyda, chanting softly in a singsong voice. Pale blue whips of energy flow around his body, vague, unformed shapes that Vash can barely see, but that seem alive. The energies pass into her, and soon, she turns, retching into the bucket he has ready for her. The elderly man turns, pulling back his lion-headed cloak, and glances briefly at Vash, before turning back towards the woman. “Unnatural creature, are you here to help?” despite his words, his tone is not unkind. “Ichtaca speaks highly of you. Come hold the bucket for this child.” Malua informs the guard of her condition, then holds Lyda’s head, helping her rinse her mouth from a waterskin. In a businesslike manner, he removes her blouse, removing the bandages from her shoulder wound and grunting in approval at her previous work on her own injury. Wordlessly, he begins to apply a poultice of his own.

Anotros Ciprano, meanwhile, has followed Vash, and, taking advantage of the guard rushing off to tell Losoran Lyda’s condition, he opens the door and enters uninvited. He is not in time to see the primal magic at work, but at the sight that greets him, his face changes from concern for a potential convert to smoldering delight. “The young lady is in pain, I see. I’m a priest, I can be of use, I’m certain, if you two gentlemen will let me through…”


Adam

“I’m not sure,” Tobias lies through a groan as he sits up in the bed. “It was all such a blur.”

[bluff check 15+4=19]


Adam

Tobias continues, “may I see her?”


Kristy

Losoran nods simply, brushing invisible dust from his immaculate attire. He seems to accept Tobias at his word. “By all means. You should be able to walk now.” He turns, finding his guard still in the hallway, instructs the man to join the car to car search for an unknown assailant. Before he leaves Tobias, he turns, face carefully neutral, and says simply. “You love her, don’t you.”


Michael

Vash turns back to face the Anotros, blocking his way and begins forcing him back through the door with one hand on the man’s chest, the other drawing his dark great sword. “You are not needed here, sir. Leave now, or lose the hands with which you hold your whip.”


Adam

Tobias looks at Losoran soberly. “I believe I do.” He then leaves the car and makes his way toward the diplomat’s car, limping somewhat more than he used to despite the potion’s effects.


Kristy

Anotros Ciprano holds his hands up disarmingly, resisting being pushed. “No need for anger, friend elf.” His mottan accent seems thicker than before. “I assure you, I am quite skilled.”


Adam

Tobias walks into the hallway and leans on the wall. “I certainly hope nobody’s causing trouble,” he says, his face grim. “Friends, would you mind if I have a moment with her?”


Michael

(Per Kristy, Anatros Bartoli is taken off guard by the sudden appearance of Tobias)

Taking advantage of Tobias sudden appearance, Vash steps close and shoves firmly on Bartoli’s chest, sending the much larger man stumbling backward into the corridor. “Not at all Tobias. The Anotros has just concluded offering his services, and seeing that things are well in hand, was returning to his own car.” Vash follows Bartoli into the hall, barring his return.


Kristy

When he sees Tobias, Ciprano swears colorfully in Motare. “The dead walk after all, and without my help! Don’t tell me Viln worked this miracle. I saw you hit a tree! Gods, man!” Then Vash catches him off guard with the shove.

The silphenite staggers back, startled again at Vash’s sudden move. He catches his balance, several steps back in the hallway, and glaring angrily at the Drow. “Certain things would be much better in my hands.” He mutters, and moves forward, opening his mouth to say something else, then stopping himself. His eyes shift un-subtly to a space behind Vash, and his eyes flare with new anger, jaw working with frustration. “It seems I am leaving.” He clips his words off, glaring at the drow in a way that indicates this matter isn’t done. Without another word, he turns and moves away.


Adam

Tobias enters the room and sits in a simple chair near the bed. He silently watches the shaman work, unsure of what he should say, or if he should say anything, or if she’s even awake.


Kristy

Lyda is conscious now, and becoming more aware of her surroundings. Magua tends to his patient calmly and efficiently, treating her with both herbs and primal magic. When he is satisfied, he turns to Tobias with a firm look, pointing to the livid bruises that mark her hand and forearms. “The man who plants nettles will never reap corn.” He advises calmly, then heads for the door.


Adam

Tobias hangs his head at the old man’s words. When the door closes, he sits in silence for a time, trying to think of how to proceed.
“Lyda,” he eventually says.


Kristy

She seems to notice him there for the first time, and reaches out towards him, a look of relief easing the pain from her face. “Thank Ruethas you’re alright. Is he gone?”


Adam

Tobias is shocked that she would know about Mathis. “Is who gone? How did you…?”


Kristy

“The Anotros. I could feel his eyes on me from the hallway, I was drifting in and out… anyway, I saw him, too. Why would he want to watch someone retch into a bucket?” She shudders, pulling the blanket up over her skin.


Adam

“Oh, right,” Tobias says, moving to sit beside her and wrapping an arm around her shoulder. “I certainly don’t pretend to understand the man.”


Kristy

She leans against him, slides her arms around his waist, rests her head against the side of his neck and closes her eyes. He can feel her healing magic seeping into his body again, a familiar coolness. “What happened? You’re better now?”


Adam

“More or less,” Tobias says, trying to hide the lingering ache in his voice. “Your uncle gave me a draught of… something, that did wonders. Can’t imagine it’d be legal where we’re headed.”


Kristy

“Oh, yes. From Telgard. I didn’t realize he still had any left.” She sounds distracted, and he realizes she is staring at the bruises on her arms. The clear outline of his fingers is a stark contrast of mottled purple and black against her fair skin. “I must have fallen asleep. I don’t remember… you were in such pain, and I was trying to help, and then it’s so hazy… Did some one attack us?”


Adam

Tobias hesitates before answering. “Yes, and… well, don’t be too alarmed, but I believe it was the shadowy figure that Vash first saw when he gathered the fallen stars. Mathis. He’s been following us for quite some time, I’m afraid.”


Kristy

“The ghost did this?”


Adam

“As near as I can tell, though I’m not sure how. It’s all a bit of a blur for me, too. He caught us at a bit of a vulnerable moment, I think.” [bluff check of 17 + 4 = 21]


Kristy

She seeks his hand with her bruised one, and he can hear a tremble in her voice. “Thank gods he didn’t … you were so weak… I couldn’t…”


Adam

“It’s okay,” he says. “I’m fine, thanks to your uncle. I’m so much more worried about you! How badly are you hurt?”


Kristy

“It’s fading now, but a headache, confused memories about what happened, dizziness, nothing out of the ordinary for a head blow.” She looks up at him with teary eyes, trying to smile now. “Thankfully the nausea is gone. The elder was very kind to treat me.”


Adam

“Well, perhaps you should rest,” Tobias says, laying her back down on the bed. “You need to sleep now.”
He rises from the bed and moves toward the door. “Send for me if you need anything, okay?”


Kristy

“Not here. I should go back to my own room.” She protests, but her eyelids are already drooping, voice sleepy.


Adam

“Later. Just go back to sleep for now,” Tobias says, and leaves the room. He instructs the guards on duty to be extra vigilant and to keep an eye on her at all times, and to call for him if there’s anything awry. Then he sets off to find Vash again.


Kristy

The guards at the door are Losoran’s own, Pilieth and Valomel. Both men nod grimly, on full alert. Colonial soldiers are doing a car to car search for whomever or whatever attacked Tobias and Lyda, but said search is winding down, and most seem convinced it must have been a stray orc. When Tobias passes the ambassadorial dining suite, he sees Losoran debating something with Ambassadors Vitali and Chor, the ever watchful Cátzin lingering nearby her charge.


Adam

He stops just short of the door, standing outside it, listening intently.


Michael

Vash has followed Anotros Ciprano back to his compartment, taking care not to draw the man’s notice. He lingers for a while outside the car, listening for anything untoward. Tobias finds him on the metal roof of the car beside Ciprano’s, casually sharpening the edge on his greatsword. He motions to his friend, speaking quietly when Tobias is close enough. “Is she all right? What happened?”


Kristy

Tobias overhears a debate about the slave trade from Motta to Trentsmund. Ambassador Chor is (correctly) asserting that Trentsmin slavers often sell “criminals” who are actually abducted Norlythin citizens, and Ambassador Vitali is calmly replying that his people’s customs officials can hardly be expected to verify the paperwork personally before every sale. Losoran is trying to keep the two calm, ever the neutral mediator. Duke Regent Bergeth is not present.


Adam

Tobias moves on and goes to find Vash. “She’s alright,” he tells the drow, “Just resting now.”


Kristy

Vash overhears the Anotros talking to himself the whole way back, muttering under his breath, then speaking more openly in the privacy of his own car. Guards stare at the Silphenite as he passes them, but Ciprano seems not to care. (Vash knows full well that the Silphenite is likely speaking to the invisible Mathis, but he cannot understand the Motare words.)


Kristy

Ciprano has not noticed either Vash or Tobias on the roof by his compartment, and continues his discussion, with long pauses indicating he is listening to some reply. THey can hear the muffled Motare through the window, but it’s difficult to make out words. (If Tobias happens to speak Motare.)


Adam

Tobias DOES speak Motare!


Kristy

In that case, he hears a few words and phrases from Ciprano, but only when the man walks close to the window or raises his voice. He seems to be arguing with Mathis, whom Tobias can sense, but cannot hear. Here’s a few of the snippets Tobias catches from Ciprano as he sits there with Vash.

“…he gets whatever he desires, and all you tell me is ’exercise restraint!” Where is the ambassador’s restraint? I tell you…"

“…you can’t pretend to know the future, not with me, Mathis. Vitali may believe it, but then, he’s the one you’ve given everything to, isn’t he? You can’t deny me this! He may have been your friend first, but the sacrifices I’ve made for the brotherhood are hardly …”

“You can’t have it both ways, Mathis! Either he gets what he wants, or I do! I’m not a fool! Augh, I can’t listen to your….”

(later, in a more mollified tone.)

“… all right, but remember, its not just the converts or the power or the money anymore, you hear me? Vitali can meet his needs wherever he sees fit, but he doesn’t get his pretty matched set. The moment you are done with the invalid, you move out of my way.”


Adam

Tobias tells Vash they’re bickering about the ambassador, something about him always getting what he wants.


Michael

Vash offers Tobias a hand, pulling him up beside him on his elevated perch. “Whatever he’s saying to Mathis, I have the comfort that he’s here, and well away from Lyda. The guard had left to update Losoran, so It fell to me to deal with him. If you’d been there when he first came in…” Vash grimly draws the whetstone down the blade, a swift movement. “…Well, I’m sure you don’t think I over-reacted, in any case.” His voice is soft, so as not to carry to anyone else, and his tone is mild, but direct. “I saw you on the floor, Tobias. I saw both of you. Will you be telling me the truth, or shall I enjoy the story you spun for the ambassador? Orcs, is it?”


Adam

“I didn’t tell them that, they just assumed.” Tobias looks at Vash. “It was Mathis. He attacked us.”


Michael

“So, he’s invisible, but with a solid form? He can be struck? "


Adam

“Not… well, no… he took over my body for a moment.” Tobias hangs his head and waits for Vash to rebuke him.


Michael

“It’s no fault of yours. There is magic that can overthrow a mind and force a body to do the will of another. I’ve seen it, now. Nuslec tried it on me, that’s how he got his fangs in my throat.” Vash rubs the wound on his neck. “Have you warned Lyda of this danger? She may be vulnerable to his…intrusions, now that you are training her.”


Adam

“I fear to mention it. What if speaking it brings back the memory of what I… what he made me do? How could she look at me anymore?”


Michael

Vash continues working on his blade, not looking up. “It’s obvious to me that she’s in love with you. Trust that she will understand. She’s not unfamiliar with magic, especially now.” He tilts his head towards the ongoing conversation below. “What are they saying now?”


Adam

Tobias nods at the drow’s wisdom and then listens in on the conversation again.


Kristy

Tobis hears the following, still only able to understand Ciprano’s side of the conversation through the walls of the train car:

“…I suppose we’ll see his mettle at the anointment, won’t we. Not that he’ll be chosen, no fear of that. Do you think he’ll survive it?” Mathis replies, then Ciprano snorts and laughs.

“I’ll drink to that. Shall I pour one for you? Seems uncivilized not to…”


Adam

Tobias relays what he heard. “What are we going to do about them?”


Michael

Vash thinks about what Tobias has translated of the conversation going on below. “For the moment, I do not feel there is anything that can be done. Once we reach Trentsmund, it will be different, for now though, the Anotros is still part of the diplomatic party, and we don’t want to do anything more to disrupt the trip, or provide fodder for rumors that might make the ambassadors’ jobs more difficult.” He puts away his whetstone and wipes down his great-sword with a soft oiled cloth before re-sheathing it. “I wish I could see that black-eyed phantom—it’s not impossible to kill something that you can’t see, but it certainly makes it more difficult. Can you reliably see him? Perhaps if he is around during our next battle you might point him out to me. Once I’ve got him, I can set him aflame to make him a bit easier to track, and we might be able to remove him from the picture.” Listening a moment longer, hearing nothing from the train compartment beneath them, Vash motions for Tobias to follow him, and creeps quietly to the other end of the car before swinging down from the roof.


Adam

Tobias crawls over the roof to follow Vash and glides down silently.


Michael

Vash leads Tobias not into the cars, but alongside them, walking beside the tracks back in the direction they came. “We need to learn more. He referred to a brotherhood, you say? In reference to himself, Mathis, and Vitali? What sort of brotherhood? And what do they have in common?” He flashes Tobias a wicked grin. “I have an idea, but you may not like it. Shall we search the most honorable Ambassador Vitali’s personal compartment? I believe he’s in the dining car just now in another of those ambassadorial meetings.”


Adam

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, do you really think so?” Tobias says. “I’m not exactly as sneaky as you are.”


Michael

Vash smiles amiably, pulling Tobias along. “It’ll be fun!”

(If Tobias lets himself be cajoled, they approach Vitali’s car with a group stealth check, Vash’s half of which is 14+11, so 25. What do they see?)
________________________________________

Adam

Tobias does allow himself to be cajoled.


Kristy

(Ok, that’s a success, so the group check is automatically a success.)

Vash and Tobias see two pairs of bored Mottan guards, men they recognize from Ambassador Vitali’s personal complement. A pair stands at each door of the train-car. The one they approach is idly conversing in Motare as they pass by, undetected, in the dark, towards a window.

“And the shadow killed them, then and there?”
“They say their blood splattered the alley like an over-ripe tomato dropped off the castle walls.”
“Rubbish. Why would this lethal creature of dark magic follow around a drunkard and protect him?”
“He was the drunkard’s secret friend, he said. I’m telling you, that’s the story, just like me blessed granddad told me.”
“Your blessed granddad was drunk off his arse, Marvolo.”
“Terrorized the streets of the capitol, so’s the god-fearing amongst us couldn’t sleep at night.”
“The god-fearing weren’t out at night harrassing drunkards in alleyways, I’m bettin’ "


Kristy

The conversing guards don’t notice the intruders, and Vash and Tobias are able to enter the car quickly and quietly through the window. Beyond a tiny square of light beside the window, it’s pitch black.


Adam

Superstitious gits, Tobias says in Vash’s mind.


Michael

Vash replies in kind, knowing Tobias can hear his thoughts. “I’m tempted to remain, just so we can hear the rest of that story.” Despite his levity, he moves quickly and quietly in the pitch blackness, searching the compartment for interesting documents or possessions.

(Out of character: He has darkvision. Perception check of 7+12=19. What does he find?)


Kristy

Vash finds what you’d expect, clothing, traveling gear, personal items, but also the following:

An iron-bound chest packed with Motare currency, both paper and mixed coins.

A leather case that unfolds to reveal a wicked-looking collection of matched, razor sharp blades, ranging from miniature daggers to short-swords. Each has black leather-wrapped hilts, and seem to be made by the same master craftsman. They show signs of recent use.

Several books of romantic poetry, all in Mottan. A collection of tragic romantic plays by a famous master playwright from Motta.

A leather folder full of diplomatic documents, including partial drafts. Trade agreements, financial summaries, letters of interest from Mottan nobility and religious figures, neatly written notes on issues likely to affect the peace talks, etc. Also maps.

A small, ornate mahogany and gold chest of exquisite craftsmanship, like a fine jewelry box. It is empty inside, except for a dark stain at the bottom.

As he finds the chest, Vash and Tobias hear voices outside. The guards are hailing the Ambassador as he returns to his car.


Michael

Vash peers out the window, and Tobias sees a flash of white teeth against his charcoal skin as his face broadens in an evil grin.

(I’d like to use an action point to augment my prestidigitation to do this, but I think it will work.)

Suddenly, the Ambassador’s cloak catches fire. A few feet away at the treeline, a shadowy outline of what might be an orc shaman appears, then vanishes in a shower of sparks. The faint beating of drums and distant chanting sounds through the air, and lights dance in the trees, moving away. A small, fiery symbol appears burns into the outside of the ambassador’s door—the symbol of the Orc God Duhulatt. All of this takes place on the opposite side of the train car from the window that Vash and Tobias used to enter, allowing for their quick escape.

(Stealth check of 11+12 is 23)

Now that the orcs are blamed, Vash takes with him one of the daggers from the weapons case, a couple of the poetry collections and plays, and the most important looking map in the leather folder.

As Vash and Tobias slip out the window into the dark, Vash whispers to his friend, “See? Fun! you need more excitement in your life. Less reading books, more kissing girls and setting fire to foreign diplomats.”


Kristy

Ok, it works. Vitali doesn’t scream, but he looks startled, and efficiently dives for cover and begins extinguishing himself.

Vash and Tobias get away cleanly, as the guards are involved either putting out Vitali or chasing “orcs” into the woods.


Adam

“Right.” Tobias says, chuckling at Vash’s words. “There aren’t quite enough people in the world angry at us yet.”


Michael

Vash leads them not back to their shared car, where they are likely to be discovered examining the stolen items, but instead to Lyda’s now-vacant compartment. He shuts the door, and drops into the overstuffed chair, propping his legs over the arm so his feet can rest on the desk. Catching Tobias’s eye, he tosses him one of the books he stole, then opens up another. “Cirocuali. I may not read Motare, but I’ve heard that name. What would that soulless bastard want with tragic love stories and romantic poetry? Memorizing passages likely to impress young ladies?” He smirks, producing two more books from his pockets and setting them on the desk. “You should read these aloud to your fair lady.” Vash pulls out the blade he stole, examining it minutely.

(out of character, does Vash notice anything in particular about the items he absconded with? Tobias will have to read the books, Vash can’t read them. )


Kristy

Vash notices that the blade (a dirk) is of exquisite quality, well-cared for despite much use. He also detects a slight lingering tingle of energy in it, not that it is enchanted, but more like it was used as part of a ritual within the last few days.

The map is very well-done, hand-made collaboration of many maps, and shows an accurate Robinson projection of Vinramar. Vitali drew this by hand from many other maps and references, and it is better than anything any of you have ever seen.

Tobias sees that the books are copies of famous and critically acclaimed literature by the Mottan writer Reduar Cirocuali. Although the works themselves are beautifully written and compelling, the most interesting thing about these copies is what Ambassador Vitali has marked in each. The most passionate love-related scenes and lines are highlighted, these pages worn at the edges with constant handling. He seems particularly interested in young lovers, caught up in the first infatuated grip of the “falling in love” stage of romance, but has also marked passages of tormented agony from love lost in the most dramatic possible ways.

One phrase in a tragic play is not only marked, but has a note hand-written in the margins. The play is a tragedy, in which, after a tragic misunderstanding, a man finds his lover dying, and cuts out her heart while she is still alive. The phrase is “He carried her heart with his from that hour onward, hers kindling his own, two hearts pounding where one, before, had only whispered.”

The phrase Vitali wrote in the margins is “restoration?”


Adam

Tobias recites the line from the play, and the note beside it to Vash. “You ever notice how… emotionless Vitali is?”


Michael

“I’ve seen statues with more expression. Did you see his face when his cloak caught fire? All cold logic, that one.” Vash looks at Tobias significantly, handing him the dirk, with its lingering traces of magic.

“I don’t like that note he wrote. I don’t like the lingering magic on this blade. Not with what the Anotros was saying. Not with what happened in Midwell Bridges, on the docks.” His voice drops, tone urgent. “Tobias, when I stood beside him in his room, unseen, I heard a thrumming in the air around him. Like many hearts beating all at once, loud and clear.”

Adventure Log

In-Character E-mail 10

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