Monday, February 3, 2014

PBM: Chapter 1: Arriving in New Phlan: Part 11

In which the party is reunited...and everyone gets a headache...

Frantiska

"Will ana a priest?" She speaks the words aloud to herself, trying to puzzle out Hrud's meaning. She leads her horse out of the alley, looking at the collapsed houses and piles of refuse, she can't help but feel deeply sorry for the people forced to live in these conditions. "Lead the way," she tells Donovan, before turning back to the barbarian. "Melvaunt adalah kota terdekat di sebelah Phlan. Sekitar tiga hari naik menuju matahari terbit. Di sisi lain rawa. Aku berhenti di sana sebentar dalam perjalanan ke sini. Jalan ini cukup berbahaya, sehingga mereka menyewa penjaga." As she speaks she starts to feel more confident, though the words still come slow. She hopes she's saying anything remotely right...

Donovan

Donovan heads for the gates, picking his way through the rubbish-choked streets, and hoping that the guards won't ask any awkward questions about why he's coming back with the same number but completely different people than he left with just a few hours ago. He steers his way past the building with the gate, hoping to find Shaddup and make sure the carnage is sufficient to keep other people from stumbling through the portal to Hell.

GM

You find the way to the old building completely blocked by rubble. Broken boards, bricks, and stones fill the street, a thick cloud of dust still hangs in the air, and at least three buildings have been flattened (not counting innumerable shanties). Climbing up on a reasonably stable-looking pile of debris, you can see that the building in question is among those that have been completely destroyed--you can just see the tail of the dead linnorm peaking up through a pile of bricks. The street looks mostly deserted. A few beggars and scavengers pick through the rubble, but there is no sign of Shaddup.

Hrud

It sounded to Hrud like the group was going to be traveling three days to Melvaunt through a dangerous swamp. Hrud shrugged. As long as he could find someone with the knowledge he sought, it didn't really matter. Besides, he thought, looking around at all the destruction, this city was apparently quite dangerous. If this was what city-life was like, he couldn't understand how the people living here had survived for so long.

Donovan

Donovan turns to Teldicia, "I guess we'll just have to trust that Shaddup was smart enough to give himself enough time to get away before the building blew." He looks around, sees a side-street the looks like it veers in mostly the right direction and marches off, trying to look like he knows exactly where he is going and is in no way lost in this labyrinth of alleys.

GM

Teldicia walks along beside Donovan, adjusting the pack on her shoulder. "Do we have a rendezvous place? I'd like to go liquidate some of this stuff before nightfall, and word in town was that most of the decent pawn-shops are out here."

Donovan

Donovan shrugs, "It sounded like Lyra suggested we meet at the Temple of Tyr before she vanished. If you're running off on your own, keep your head down and be careful, we've already seen that these slums are full of some really nasty creatures."

GM

Teldicia peels off as you finally turn back onto the Parkside Gate Road, "Alright, I'll see you at the temple early tomorrow." Ahead of you the gate stands slightly ajar, guards, inside and out, stand, polearms at the ready, ushering a steady flow of people into the city as everyone hurries to get into 'Civilized Phlan' before dusk settles. The watch captain from earlier in the day is still on duty, standing just outside the gate checking papers. He nods at Donovan, then looks at the two well-armed, mounted warriors following him. He steps in front of you and holds up a hand, "Newcomers?" he asks.

Donovan

Donovan greets the guards, "Yes, these two fine warriors aided our group in destroying the Red Hand gang. If you don't mind letting them in the gates this late in the afternoon, I was hoping to get over to the Clerk's office before it closed and get them added to our charter."

Frantiska

Frantiska nods politely to the guards. She leans over to Hrud, "Kapten penjaga ingin melihat beberapa bukti niat baik kami sebelum ia akan membiarkan kami masuk. Mr Donovan mengatakan ia akan menjamin kami dan membawa kami ke pemimpin kota untuk mendapatkan kita lisensi untuk hidup dan melakukan bisnis di kota."

Hrud

Hrud's perpetually confused expression deepened somewhat. It sounded like Dawn of Man was going to be performing some kind of rite before the keepers of the city so that he and the elf could enter the city. Maybe there would be a priest or shaman in attendance ...

GM

The watch captain looks you all over, then, hearing Hrud and Fran, speaks up, "Eraka, eh? Aku ora njaluk akeh suku panjenengan mudhun kene. Panjenengan olèh ing Phlan supaya dawa sing setuju kanggo njaga perdamaian." He waves the three of you through. "Take them strait to the Clerk," he says to Donovan.

Hrud

"Aku ngucapke matur nuwun. Mangsuli, ana sembarang imam ing kutha iki?" Hrud replies, as he passes the man.

GM

The man stops Hrud briefly, "Ana papat kuil. Apa urut saka imam sing nyoba golek?"

Hrud

"Sembarang bakal nggawe, supaya anggere padha ora Hoar, Selune, utawa Shaundakul"

Donovan

Donovan tries his hardest to follow the conversation, but fails miserably. He marches on through the gates, hangs a right and fast-walks to the Council Hall, motioning for Hrud and Fran to follow.

GM

As you near the Council Hall, Donovan spots Lyra, laden with weapons and travel gear, at about the same time she notices him, followed by a beautiful elven woman mounted on a chestnut filly and a shaggy barbarian mounted on a steppe-pony.

Lyra

Shock, surprise, and relief wash over Lyra's face.  Donovan, alive and well, with two more adventurers, and no sign of the ogress, necromancer, or weird overly-friendly elf woman.

"Mr. Donovan!"  Lyra waves, and rushes over.  She curtsies, careful not to lose balance with the new backpack.  "Mr. Shaddup didn't know where you were, and when I couldn't find you I thought something terrible might have happened on the way back to town.  I -- I'm glad you made it back safely."  She looked like she was about to start crying again.

Frantiska

Seeing the large, officious looking building, Frantiska dismounts and leads Thistledown over to a hitching post. "Ini tampak seperti tempat," she says to Hrud, still stumbling over the strange language. She ties up her horse, more to dissuade curious passersby from attempted horse-thievery than to keep the filly from running, and pulls a small pouch from the saddlebags. Not wanting to interrupt the heartfelt reunion here, she pulls a pinch of herbs and a small piece of paper from the pouch and begins rolling a cigarette. "Mau satu?" she says, offering one to the barbarian.

Hrud

Hrud wasn't exactly sure what the elf woman was trying to say about the building - it must be significant for some reason or other. He was, however, more than a little surprised to see her smoking. Was she a shaman? Perhaps she was going to take a spirit journey?

At any rate, he decided by shaking his head. Depending on exactly what it was she was rolling up, he knew people tended to react...oddly when they smoked.

Frantiska

Recognizing the look of refusal on the barbarian's face, Fran shrugs, lights the rolled paper, and leans back against the hitching post. She smokes slowly, taking long, deep pulls on the cigarette and breathing out in puffs, shaping her mouth in an 'O' to produce small rings, trying to clear her mind and calm her nerves before having to face even more unfamiliar faces.

Donovan

Donovan smiles, "Well met Lyra. You've seen Shaddup? I was a little worried that he might not have gotten far enough away from the building before it collapsed, what with those short legs of his." He waves a hand at his new companions. "These are Frantiska Sykora," he indicates the woman, "and Hrud of the Eraka. We ran into a gang of kobold horse thieves and they both proved very helpful. Teldicia and I helped Frantiska recover her horse, so she owes us one. It seems that Hrud doesn't speak the common trade tongue, but Frantiska here has been able to piece together a bit of what he says, perhaps more, since it seems that they've started chatting a bit, but from what I've gathered he is looking for a priest of some kind. Thus, I was going to see if your mother could adjust our charter to add them, and Teldicia, who has been deprived of the rest of her group..."

Lyra

"Mr. Shaddup didn't seem to hear me.  He looked injured, and I think his proximity to the explosion may have affected his hearing.  He said something about it not being the sort of party he was expecting and having enough money to fund his research, and then he headed off towards the river."  Lyra starts crying again.

Lyra regains her composure and looks over at Frantiska, and introduces herself in elven, "My name is Lyrathwen Alethiel Beragaion, although most people just call me Lyra.  It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."  She curtsies again, and looks back to Donovan.  "Apparently Brother Rant has had some dealings with the bar...."  She stops and quickly corrects herself.  "...northern tribesmen in his work for those who harp.  He may know if any of their shaman are in town.  Amara is safe and resting in the women's dormitory of the temple of Tyr.  Miss Teldicia is going to be joining us?  What happened to the rest of her group?"

Frantiska

Frantiska takes another drag on her cigarette before responding to Lyra. "Beragaion?" She says quietly, taking a hard look at Lyra's ears. "A'tel'quess?" She transfers the cigarette to her off-hand and offers the other to Lyra. "We have a lot of your kind back in Aglarond. Your surname is of the Teu'tel'quessir of Evereska, is it not?" She laughs self-consciously, "I'm sorry, where are my manners." She snaps a very precise military bow, hands held wide to her sides. "Fair be our meeting, for our hearts are light and our swords sheathed, we hold peace in our hands and its light guides us. I am Frantiska Sykora, daughter of the Simbul, Sword of Selune, and Moon Knight of Aglarond."

Hrud

Looking at Frantiska quizzically, Hrud interjects, "Selune? Ngerti dheweke?"

Frantiska

Frantiska takes a short puff, and, slowly, tries to answer Hrud's question. "Ya, aku tahu gadis bulan. ... Terang Nydra di lidah masyarakat rawa. ... Ela kepada suku-suku padang pasir. ... Lucha kepada orang-orang dari selatan. ... Selune di lidah utara. Di mana saja bulan bersinar adalah tempat untuk Selune. Sebagai bulan perak lilin dan berkurang, sehingga untuk melakukan semua kehidupan. Wanita Putih Malam adalah ibu dan guru bagi saya dan saya pedangnya."

Hrud

Hrud was having trouble understanding the woman, some of her words made sense, but not all of them  ... were those names used by people in different regions?

At any rate, it did not matter, because Hrud was certain he understood her to say that she knew Selune.

"Apa kowe isa karo dheweke?"

Maybe the answer lay with this woman ...

Frantiska

Fran rubs her temples feeling a headache coming on and trying to puzzle out what Hrud is saying. She could understand the words, she thinks, but they made no sense contextually. Finally giving up, she says, "Apa yang Anda maksud dengan kowe?" To Lyra she says, "I'm sorry, trying to speak with this man is rather tiring. If your Brother Rant can speak his language properly, I suggest we get the paperwork over-with and go find him post-haste."

Lyra

"I have a headache as well, and I'm not sure it's natural."  Lyra pulls a bit of string from her belt pouch and ties it around the handle of her knife, holding it in front of her like a pendulum, and chants as she concentrates on her surroundings.

If there's something you don't know
That you'd like to learn about
Don't sit and mope all day
I know a real good way
To help you get things figured out

The dagger swings in a circle once (with a little help) and Lyra pulls up on the string, catching the dagger in her hand.  "Synaptic Static. Stay on guard."

Hrud

Hrud thought for a long minute, then tried again, "Bisa diajak dheweke?"

Frantiska

Frantiska nods, "Dia menjawab doa-doa saya, ya." Then, to Lyra, "What is Synaptic Static?"

Hrud

Hrud looks slightly less confused, as the conversation appears to have focused him somewhat, "Bisa takon lan njaluk njawab?"

Lyra

Lyra half shrugs.  "It's a sort of ... field of psionic interference.  That's what's causing the headaches.  I suppose it could be coming from the training hall.  We should go speak to my mother and get back to the temple, maybe it's not as bad there."

Donovan

Donovan nods, "Right, now that we're all introduced, lets get the red-tape dealt with so I can go to sleep..." He pushes open the door to the Clerk's chambers and walks.

GM

You walk in to the small, cramped office to find the Clerk, her tightly bound red-hair starting to fray at the edges from a long day of dealing with new immigrants, sitting slumped in her chair, her elbows propped on the big desk, staring at a very long scroll, half of which has unrolled onto the floor in front of the desk. As Frantiska moves to follow Donovan in, the Clerk's eyes peak up from the paper and one of her hands shoots out sharply to point at a large sign that reads "No Smoking" in not only the common tongue, but at least twelve other scripts. "Mr. Donovan, back already?"

Lyra

Lyra looks around one last time, as if there would be some apparent source for the psionic interference, before heading into the clerk's office.

Frantiska

Frantiska stops in the doorway, flicks the embers off the end of her cigarette, pinches the charred end, and sticks the half-burned roll back into her pouch. As she walks in, she remarks to Hrud, "Ya, jika doa saya tulus, maka mereka akan dijawab."

Donovan

Donovan looks at the tail-end of the oversized scroll and is suddenly very glad that he decided to become an adventurer this morning. "Sorry, Deb, we don't mean to take up too much of your time. Our little outing to the Slums this afternoon was more exciting than expected. We've just got two small orders of business to take care of...well, maybe three or four." He takes his glasses off and rubs his temples. "First, I wanted to see if there was a reward posted for dismantling the Red Hands gang. Second I need to file a death certificate for Mr. Gendry who was in here with us earlier. Third, I need to have our charter amended--to remove Mr. FitzTeldar, who is deceased, and Mr. McPillflup, who has decided to retire to his research, and add Ms. Teldicia, who I believe was in here earlier as well with a different party, and these two fine folk behind me...and I suppose also to have Ms. Teldicia's other charter annulled, due to the death of three of her companions and the dissolution of her group." He sighs, "And I guess I need to fill out death certificates for her companions..."

Donovan begins fishing in his bag for a quill and, without a word, pulls the second chair around to his side of the desk, anticipating the mountain of paperwork he's going to have to deal with...

Lyra

Lyra winces and rubs her temples.  Clearly the cause of the headaches is still ongoing.  "Mr. Donovan, do you need help with the paperwork?"

GM

The Clerk rolls the scroll up and sets it aside. She squints at you and messes with her ear, somehow looking even more tired and haggard by the second. "Four death certificates, two new immigrants, and two charter changes? I do not approve of your definition of a few small orders of business, Donovan." She opens the cabinet behind her and pulls out several stacks of paper, laying them on her desk, then a large ledger which she flips through. "There is a small reward posted for dealing with the Red Hands." She pushes the stack of papers across to Donovan. "I'll need to go get it from the vault. You can start filling out the rest while you wait." She stands and exits the room by the door behind the desk.

Lyra

Four death certificates?  Wouldn't sudden extra-planar travel technically be missing-and-presumed-dead, not dead dead?  Lyra peeks over Donovan's shoulder as he fills out the death certificates, to confirm the casualties beyond Vince and Gendry.  "I can help with the immigration forms if you'd like, Ms. Frantiska."

Frantiska

Frantiska walks in and looks at the forms, "I should be able to handle it, thank you. Besides, legal documents always use such interesting language..."

Hrud

Standing awkwardly in the doorway, Hrud glanced around at the various racks of scrolls, stacks of paper and occasional book filling the office. There were a few in his tribe who could read, but he was not one of them. Old Skadi had tried to teach him when he was young, but got fed up and quit after only a day. Skadi said all his questions made his head hurt. As far as Hrud was concerned, if he had someone to answer his questions, then he didn't need to read the answer which may or may not be true, anyway. One could never be to trusting of the written word, especially when you had no way of know who wrote them or why.

Paper was good for one thing, though: wiping. While the clerk was gone, Hrud attemped to discretely slide a small stack of papers up under his breastplate. There weren't many broad-leaved trees or shrubs on The Ride.

Frantiska

Frantiska walks quickly over to Hrud, her boots ringing against the floor, and, for the first time, looks him strait in the eye, her gaze fixed like a reproving mother. "Tidak ada Hrud. Mencuri itu salah." She sticks her hand out as if demanding the papers he has taken.

Hrud

Hrud was completely shocked. He never been approached or spoken to in this manner by a /woman/. His first instinct was rage, but Hrud reminded himself that he was not on the Ride, he was in a city. Things were different here ... very different, apparently. Had the woman really intended to challenge him, she probably would have had a weapon drawn - that, or she was very confident in her abilities.

"Sing swara bakal njaluk sampeyan matèni antarane Eraka, wadon. Rahayu kita ora ngolah."

Holding her gaze, Hrud reached down and pulled his breastplate out to let the papers fall to the floor*.

Donovan

Donovan looks up from the stack of papers and offers them to Lyra, "Which would you like?"

Hearing Hrud's voice rise, he looks over and notices the papers laying on the ground, and peaking out from under Hrud's breastplate. He curses under his breath. "Fran, you might want to inform our friend that spying is the only crime guaranteed to get you executed in this town. He can beat up all the merchants he wants for their pocket change and it'll only get him thrown over the wall at night, where a man of his assets will probably have a fighting chance. Stealing documents from the Council will get his head removed from his shoulders faster than Tyr can say "Justice", which is pretty damn fast I imagine."

He perks up suddenly and swears again. "I think I hear her coming back. Lyra, can you help them get that cleaned up before the Clerk notices things missing from her desk..."

Lyra

Lyra scoops up the papers and quickly begins organizing them.

Frantiska

Frantiska continues to glare at Hrud for the moments it takes her to realize that he is disparaging her gender. Without another word she punches him hard in his unprotected throat. "Beruntung bagi Anda, Anda maksud," she says as he slumps to the floor.

Donovan

Donovan looks rather terrified as the big man crumples to the ground. "Umm...that's one way to tell him, I guess..." He begins frantically filling out forms in a hurry.

Hrud

Lightning rips across a sky the color of blood; deafening thunder shakes and cracks the mountains, bringing them low. A ring of fire rages, dancing tongues of flames reaching in vain to the heavens. In the center stands Hrud, screaming incoherently and hacking away at the remains of a chocolate-colored filly, his broad sword so covered in gore that the naked blade can no longer be seen.

"Enough."

The voice is barely a whisper, but clearly heard. With the chaos around him, there is no way he could have heard it. Besides, there is no one here, no one but Hrud, who raises his sword for another strike ...

"Enough"

The barbarian stops mid-stroke. The ring of fire persists but makes no noise. The sky is now a deep velvet black, filled with stars from one horizon to the next. There is no trace of the storm. Towering over the flames are row upon row of spectral figures, numbering far more than Hrud could count. There are no distinguishing features, but somehow, he can tell their eyes are all fixed upon him.

"Let go of the rage"

He can't tell how he knows, but he /knows/ that the voice is not coming from any of the figures. Where is it coming from? There is a soft whiny behind him; Hrud whirls to see the elf woman's horse standing behind him, alive and very much alive and unharmed. He raises his sword, somewhat uncertain - he knows what he wants to do (or, rather, what his people would have expected of him) but is not sure what he should do ...

"You have been set apart"

The voice comes from somewhere above or behind or /beyond/ the silent sentinels. As the point of his sword dips toward the ground, Hrud notices the blood and bits of meat slide off of it as cleanly as if here were drawing it from a sheath. The blade is no longer metal, but something different - Hrud finds it impossible to articulate how - it's still a sword, but a different kind of sword. The fire continues to rage around him, but the color of the flames slowly change from an bright red to a shimmering golden yellow.

"Seek me."

The horse trots to the edge of the ring and passes through, disappearing into the night. Where it passed through the flames, they are extinguished, leaving a wide opening. Hrud slowly makes his way to the edge of the ring.

"Be free."

Hrud can just barely make out the hoof prints shimmering faintly in the night, despite being unable to see the ground itself. He takes a breath and steps into the unknown. Immediately the fire dies out leaving him in darkness. Two final words follow him.

Gradually, he becomes aware of the hard wooden planks beneath him. More than that, the sharp burning sensation at his throat. He makes a few difficult swallows, and opens his eyes. The elf woman is standing over him, looking none-too-pleased.

This woman felled him with a single blow.  The shame of that realization burns as much as his throat, but his initial desire for revenge is replaced by something else.

The barbarian resists the urge to unsheathe his sword so he can look at the blade, thinking the gesture would be taken as an attack. Instead, he reaches up under his breastplate and pulls out the remaining few sheets of paper he tried to hide. Holding them up for Frantiska to take, he croaks out the last two words whispered to him in the darkness  ...

"No ... wipe."

GM

The door at the back opens and the Clerk walks in. She seems to pay no attention to the man lying on the floor, or the scattered papers, save for the slightest eye-roll as if to say "adventurers are weird" or "why is it always the crazy ones" or "why me". She resumes her seat and hands a pouch containing two small flasks to Donovan. "Here you go. The standard reward for disposing of one of the Slums gangs is two potions from the Council's stock. Those are potions of vitality, they should help keep you from having to come back so often..."

Frantiska

Hearing Hrud's comment, Frantiska smiles down at him, stifling a laugh and once again avoiding looking the man in the eyes. She takes the proffered papers, hands them to Lyra, then offers Hrud a hand to help him up. "Kula nyuwun pangapunten babagan. Sampeyan gulu oke?"

Hrud

"Aku ora mati dina iki," Hrud rasps.

Lyra

Lyra flips through the papers and adds them to the most reasonably appropriate positions in the stack.  "Is the assistant clerk still on duty, or has she left for the day?"

GM

The Clerk grunts softly and pushes against her eyes with the heel of her hands before answering Lyra. "The assistant clerk went to find herself lodgings. She'll be back in the morning. If you have specific business with her, I'd suggest looking at Mother's Boarding House, as, given her desperation for work, it's probably the only place inside the city walls within her means." She yawns and shakes her head. "Are you quite finished yet, Mr. Leitch?"

Donovan

Donovan takes the pouch with the potion flasks and hurriedly scribbles out the last few pages of death certificates--he didn't even know the guys anyways. "Here you go Deb, sorry to bother you this late in the day. Thanks for the potions, these should definitely come in handy." He stands and turns to go. "Is he okay?" he asks Lyra and Frantiska, gesturing at Hrud with his chin.

Lyra

"That was quite a punch, but he seems to be recovering."  Lyra tilts her head a bit, as if trying to hear something in the distance.  "And the headaches should be going away.  It stopped..."

"Ugh.  Looks like I spoke too soon."

Lyra grumbles to herself  "Is someone trying to annoy the entire town?  This shouldn't even be able to happen for more than a couple minutes without some serious power behind it."

She speaks up again.  "I may be able to triangulate the source based on where it seems to let up.  But one, I'm not sure we can assume it is a stationary source, and two, anything powerful enough to keep going this long, I'm not sure I want anywhere near."

Donovan

"If you can track down the source of my hangover and kill it, all your drinks from now on will be on my tab." Donovan heads out the door, grumbling and rubbing harder at his temples. "I've had enough of this. I'm ready to gouge my bloody eyes out. I'm going to bed." He turns and starts walking towards the docks. "Assuming I can sleep this off and my head doesn't explode in the middle of the night, I'll see you all outside the The Waiting just after sun-up."

Lyra

Lyra places the papers back on the desk and looks at Donovan's retreating figure.  "But what about...."

She looks over at Frantiska and Hrud.  "To the temple of Tyr, then?  I wonder if priests can cure headaches."

Frantiska

Frantiska bows to the Clerk, says a brief "thank you", and walks out of the office. "Hrud, tampak seolah-olah sudah waktunya bagi kita untuk meninggalkan," she says over her shoulder.

Once out of the building, she immediately begin rolling another cigarette, hoping that the nicotine might help take the edge off. She turns to Lyra and asks, in a strained voice, "You say you think some magic is the cause of our collective pain?"

Lyra

Lyra shifts the box she's holding to the crook of her elbow so she can rub her eyes.  "Given the symptoms, I believe it may be psionic rather than magical in origin.  One of my tutors in Waterdeep was ... gifted."

Frantiska

Frantiska looks confused, "Is the difference that significant?"

Lyra

Lyra considers that statement.  "I suppose there is not much difference from a spell that requires concentration to continue the effect."  She actually perks up a little at that.  "But this particular effect covers a fairly large area.  Dozens of yards, at least.  They could be almost anywhere.  Where were you when it started?  I didn't feel it in the weapon shop until I came over here.  If we walk up that way and it stops, it's probably on the opposite end of the city."

Frantiska

Frantiska lights the cigarette and takes a long pull. "If the area is as large as you say, this could cause a substantial public health problem. Donovan might be right--we may want to find the source of this and dispose of it. How much do you really know about psionics? Are there particular creatures that cause effects like this? If so, what other abilities might they possess?"

Hrud

Thinking the punch must have confused him (more than normal), Hrud was only able to understand Frantiska's mention of leaving. He started to follow them out, making sure to stay just outside the unexpectedly strong elf woman's reach.