After the group was shown to their rooms, Heironymus unloaded his pack. It was good to have a place to leave ones stuff, even if it wasn't the most secure. It wasn't as if he had much worth stealing anyway, but it would be inconvenient. Still, a search seemed more likely than a theft, and he had little to fear if his things were searched.
A bath seemed to be the first order of business for several of his colleagues, and Heironymus followed their lead. He enjoyed the warm water and relaxed after days of tension, grime and hiking.
When finished, he deposited his things in his room, and let the others in the group know that he was going to return to the study that they had been in earlier. "Perhaps the books in this place will tell us something about the master of the house. Doubtful, but I have always enjoyed a quiet evening with a book. I should not be gone long."
With that statement he headed back downstairs and reclaimed his position in a chair. He looked through whatever books he could find hoping to learn about the houses master, the geography of the region, details about who might want to start a war in the region or anything else of interest.
After a couple of hours of reading, he had found nothing that jumped out at him as important, but had at least added to his knowledge base on the area and its politics and trade. Feeling slightly better informed, the cleric went back upstairs and claimed his bed for the night.
When awoken in the morning by the servant, Heironymus was ready to see what new information the day might bring to light.
Posted on 2011-01-26 at 13:02:43.
Steelight Sage of the Realms Karma: 44/9 1024 Posts
Game Update (finally...)
You are all guided down the stairs by one of the servants, having been dressed for breakfast after quick baths and brushed hair. The same man that answered the door last night meets you at the bottom ofthe stairs.
"Good morning. I hope you enjoyed your rest. The Master is just returning from his morning devotions. He has deigned to dine out on the terrace. If you would follow me please."
He guides you down one hallway and into an enormous chamber that stands two stories high. Its glass ceiling offers a splended view of the heavens. The walls of the room are red marble with black pillars of the same smooth type of rock and guilded with gold support the high ceiling. Despite its size the room is only sparsely decorated. A large couch, a few soft chairs and a short table between them mark the majority of the room's furniture.
The butler continues across the room, guiding you through a pair of glass doors out onto a terrace. After taking only three steps out the door your breath is taken firmly by the view before you. The terrace overlooks a vast forest that stretches as far as the eye can see. Colorful lights dance among the trees as the light of all three moons shine down. The trees themselves seem to shimmer and sparkle in their light, providing an awe inspiring and slightly disorienting display.
Tearing your eyes from the view you notice a large ebony table with places set for each of you, as well as an additional place at the head of the table. The chairs match the table and are cushioned with rich red cloth trimmed in gold thread.
"Please be seated. The Master will be with you momentarily. He has already returned and is looking forward to metting all of you. For those who are unaccustomed to dining with royalty..." The man glances pointedly at the half-orc. "I would suggest you leave the spot at the head of the table for the Master and at least pretend to possess some measure of civility. I bid thee good day."
With that the man turns and leaves, closing the glass doors behind him.
Heironymus looks off into the distance attempting to figure out which direction he is facing. His attention is drawn to the dancing lights as he took in the general scene.
As he looked around he spoke up, "It seems table manners are expected of us. I have little direct experience with royalty, but if this one is like others I have encountered who claim title, than I would suggest we remain standing and allow him to claim his seat first."
With that he continued to look around in interest. In particular, he was looking for paths or roads nearby and anything that might stand as a landmark in the distance. Even if it wasn't something he might recognize from a map, it might prove to be useful should he ever end up on the ground in those woods.
“Good morning, milady. You will be dining with the Master this morning, so I have brought appropriate attire for you. May I draw you a hot bath?"
Finally, Raina thought with contempt. He made me wait long enough.
“Yes, that would be fine. And, “Raina put emphasis behind the next word, “please do not put any of that perfume in the bath. I prefer a , er, fresh scent”.
Actually, what I prefer is no one noticing me from sixty feet away just by my flowery smell.
The last couple of days had been torment. Not that it had been more unpleasant then being in the woods, but here she felt like there was no escape. Once inside, the staff had done everything to accommodate her needs, from repairing her armor and washing her traveling clothes to providing her with ample food and drink. This had all been done with a sense of indifference. The head butler, or at least that what’s Raina had assumed since he was the best dressed of the lot, was downright cold despite his pleasant words. It was explained that the Master wanted to speak with her, but he had other business to attend to at the moment. She was told to stay here in the meantime.
The lodgings were exquisite. The household staff spent time each day making sure that the ebony table and chairs remained dust free. Riana attempted to hold off her boredom by admiring the different items around her room. This quickly diminished into her polishing and repolishing her equipment. Then she took to braiding and rebraiding her long, dark trusses of hair. She was finally reduced to stalking around her room and the parlor, brooding on how long she was to be stuck indoors. After selecting a few books from the parlor, she sequestered herself inside of her own private quarters. Servants brought a meal of roasted duck and other luscious items. Not having much of an appetite, Raina left most of the food that was offered.
As the servant started preparing a hot bath, Raina inspected the clothes she was to wear for her meeting. Her hand slides across a black damask gown sewn with roses laid out for her on the bed. The sleeves are wide and trailing and the tiered skirt is laden with silk rosettes. Matching slippers are set on the floor, each with a rose worked onto the top.
“Bah,” she murmured to the empty room, “at least the shoes look comfortable.”
The bath was mercifully void of anything scented. After a quick wash, she permitted the servant to brush her hair and assist her with the dress. She would have found it pretty, had it not been covered with rosettes. The skirt felt like it had an unpleasant weight added to the frills.
Encumbersome. she thought disdainfully as she moved into the parlor.The well dressed butler greeted her at the bottom of the stairs.
“Good morning. I trust you are rested well?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued, “The Master is finishing his morning devotions. Please follow me.” With the final proclamation, the butler turned heal and began walking down the hallway. The hallway opened into an enormous room sparsely furnished. Raina took note of the expansive glass ceiling where she could just make two of the three moons. He continued out through a set of glass doors.
The terrace was well equipped for entertaining. The ebony table and chairs dominated the majority of the space, but still allowed for the breath taking scene beyond to be viewed without much difficulty. Raina’s eyes narrowed as she saw that she was not the only guest to be dining with “The Master” this morning. There were several people already seated for breakfast.
“The Master will be with you momentarily.” With no further explanation, the butler turns and leaves the terrace, shutting the glass doors behind him. Silence was all that he left in his wake. Raina was feeling increasingly bad tempered. Shouldn’t she have at least been told that there were more people here? Would no one explain what was going on?
Raina resisted the urge to kick a chair out from the table. She could feel the blood pounding in her head. With an attempt to be civil, she decided to sit as gracefully as she could with all the additional fabric gathered about her hips. Her eyes glided over each one of the faces seated around her, and she thought she saw some of the same frustration mirrored in their expressions.
Posted on 2011-02-06 at 23:31:05.
Edited on 2011-02-06 at 23:34:10 by Celeste
"...and please pretend to possess some level of civility...", Quarlin squeaked out in mockery of the servant as soon as he was sure the guy was out of earshot.
Sure, the comment wasn't meant for him, but for the half-orc. Why be that way, in any case?
"Hopefully, the Master has better manners than the help."
Waiting patiently for breakfast to begin and to finally get some answers on what this was all about, he took in the view, serene but unimpressive as it was, he needed something to take his mind of the apparent height they were at. Being born and raised underground, high places were not his forte.
His wish for a distraction came in the form of a new comer to the table. He never saw her before. She didn't look happy. With the exception of the accommodations, were any of us truly happy being manipulated, and led into something we know nothing about?
Looking at the new arrival, Quarlin tries to strike up a conversation," We are apparently puppets that got our strings pulled, so what's your story?"
Posted on 2011-02-07 at 14:19:21.
Edited on 2011-02-07 at 14:24:46 by Tiamat5774
Steelight Sage of the Realms Karma: 44/9 1024 Posts
"Indeed my dear. I'm sure our friends would appreciate hearing a bit about you."
A man clad in a simple yet high quality silk shirt and breeches seemed to appear on the side of the room. There was no door ont hat end, and you are certain he wasn't there only a moment before. He appears to be a relatively young human male, who has likely seen between twenty five and thirty summers. His hair is the deepest black and smoothly flows halfway down his back. The cloak he wears seems to be fine black velvet. But as you gaze at him you notice two things in particular: the brooch holding his cloak is a gold medallion depicting a jawless skull, encircled by strange runes; and the aura of strength he seems to radiate.
"I appreciate you waiting for me, but I assure you it wasn't necessary. I am Vorlace Umbranacht, the master of this house. And you are welcome at my table. Please have a seat, and break your fast with me."
He moves casually, but without a sound over to the table, stepping up behind the fine chair just to the right of the table's head. "My Lady Raina, it would be my pleasure if you were seated here beside me." He pulls the chair from beneath the table and waits for her to be seated. "And I shall have to congratulate my servants on finding such an exquisite gown for you, though I am sure you feel out of place in it. You look beautiful nonetheless."
As the party moves to be seated, several doors open around the room, yielding to the servants and the onslaught of breakfast. Decanters of fresh squeezed juices are brought out beside bread just out of the oven. Meat still sizzles on skewers on one platter, with a platter of fresh fruit following it out. On the last of almost a dozen items, comes a platter of breakfast pastries drizzled with honey.
As Master Vorlace moves to the head of the table to take his own seat he speaks once again.
"I must apologize to you all for the circumstances that have brought you here. I can only hope that your stay here and the small comforts I have been able to offer may serve as some manner of recompense."
He takes his seat.
"It might be best for you to introduce yourselves to each other, but take care you do not neglect the meal. I am expected a few more guests this morning. I am sure they will be here shortly. Until then, enjoy the meal. The answers to many of your questions are coming once we have broken out fast for the morning."
The half-orc was not at all happy about the continued run around and lack of answers that they had received thus far. When he took his seat he did so quietly and only casually bothered to look up as other entered the room. All puppets, that's all we are here.. This Master thinks he can just pull the strings and watch us dance.
Though he would never admit it, and made it a point not to be seen looking at her, his interest was piqued when an unfamiliar female entered the dining hall. It was not her appearance that caught his interest though, it was her attitude, she seemed just as mad about being here in these circumstances as he was himself.
When the "Master" finally made his appearance the only thing the orc-kin could think was that he didn't look nearly as impressive or mighty as he had been built up to be by his servants and flashy displays of wealth. He did not have to be told twice however to enjoy the meal, and much like the meal the night before, his lack of manners showed quite clearly as he helped himself to large portions of various meats, some warm pastries, and a large drink of the fresh juices that had been offered up.
He only halfheartedly listened as the Master, and his companions, spoke around the table. It mattered not why they were here, just that they got this puppet show over with so he could get back to his normal life. The only introduction he made the slightest attempt to listen in on was the introduction of the angry woman that had been addressed as Raina earlier.
and then he appeared... from the edge of the balcony?
All feelings of hostility were washed away from Raina as the master of the house appeared on the terrace. Perhaps it was his easy demeanor that calmed her or maybe his lack of pretentious comments.
...and maybe it’s his attractiveness...
"My Lady Raina, it would be my pleasure if you were seated here beside me." A rosy blush appeared high on her cheeks on being addressed in this manner. She stood, and began to make her way towards the head of the table.
Master Vorlance continued as she picked her way around the chairs, "And I shall have to congratulate my servants on finding such an exquisite gown for you, though I am sure you feel out of place in it. You look beautiful nonetheless." The rosy color began to creep towards her hairline. Not trusting her voice to speak in confidant tones, she managed a gracious smile for Vorlance. Once again Raina attempted to arrange her skirts in effort to gracefully sit down.
As he continued addressing the group at large, Raina’s anxiousness returned. She felt wary at the situation she was now in, and eager to understand the full nature of this meeting.
Her dark blue eyes looked back to each of them in turn, lingering for a moment of the half orc with slight amusement. She finally settled on the young man who had first posed the question. His dark skin had a peculiar sheen that seemed to glitter in the morning light.
How much dare I divulge?
“My story? It begins some twenty years ago and ends with me having breakfast with the new faces that sit before me. I am called Raina. I am curious as to each of you, as I fear that I am at the same disadvantage of not knowing your names.”
A good place to start.
Having had her fill of rich meals over the last few days, Raina poured herself a glass of the nearest fruit juice. As an afterthought, she selected a few pieces of bread to nibble on.
Posted on 2011-02-10 at 04:43:51.
Edited on 2011-02-10 at 04:44:20 by Celeste
"Forgive my rudeness, Milady...Raina?, I am called Quarlin."
He looked in the direction of the Master with a look of distrust, then looked back to Raina with an unsure grin and finished with,"Heretic of the Undercity and apparently an adventurer for hire."
With that he helped himself to a few of the honey glazed pastries and a couple glasses of fruit juices in order to try each one. He wanted, as a small show of rebellion, to show the same table manners as the half orc, but couldn't seem to bring himself to do as good of a job of it. Once all further introductions were made Quarlin looks Vorlance in the eye and says,
"Forgive me, if you will, for being so bold, but without any further run around and smoke and mirrors, maybe we can get down to brass tax, and learn why we had to come here, and what must be done. I confess to a certain curiosity as to whether or not this issue even really has much to do with me. I've been going through some strange changes, physically, that I don't quite understand and therefore have mysteries of my own to solve. So one of the first things you can do is assure us that we are not being set up, because that's what this feels like, a set up."
With that, he sits back in his chair and finishes his last pastry and washes it down with juice.
Posted on 2011-02-10 at 05:12:00.
Steelight Sage of the Realms Karma: 44/9 1024 Posts
Master Vorlace looks up from his meal and offers a sarcastic grin. "And what would those assurances do for you my untrusting friend? Would you trust me futher simply because I assured you of my reasons? You would be a fool to do so, and you are not here because you are a fool. In fact, you are here for precisely the opposite reason. And as to your other thinly veiled question, you are here for your own benefit."
"I had intended to allow you to enjoy one more relexing meal before getting down to business. But as you are so anxious, I must take that pleasure from you."
He focuses he gaze on Quarlin, nailing him to the chair with his eyes. "Do you know why you were branded a heretic? Do you know that you are currently hunted, not just passively, but actively? How about why your skin is changing, and why you can grow claws? Hmm?"
He waits a moment for an answer to any one of these questions.
"I can answer all of these question, and will in time... if you choose to assist me."
He returns his gaze to the rest of those gatheed at his table.
"You have been brought here for an opportunity. You can take what I offer, a mutually beneficial arrangement, or you can leave when the meal is complete with my blessing. But if you leave, will you not wonder?"
"I will not divulge the details of what I need. Even if you choose to work with me you must commit to being somewhat... in the dark much of the time. However, I will not manipulate you the way the dark elf did in the tunnels Heironymus."
He pauses for a moment, letting his gaze pass over each of you.
"Do I expect you to trust me? No, I do not. I am not that naive. What I do expect is that you will see the benefits of our arrangement, and so choose to take part in it. There are bigger things going on in this world than a simple war between two nations, of the personal matters of a man trying to come to terms with his own identity. That is all I am willing to divulge at the moment."
He takes a bite of meat from one of thje skewers and chases it with a sip of a silvery substance from his wine glass. After swallowing he speaks again.
"If you wish, when we are done eating I will leave you once again to discuss the merits and potential dangers of my proposal. And what we must do will be dangerous, but I have confidence that those who have made it this far can triumph over it."
Master Vorlace’s voice rang out through the doors as he spoke the last words “If you wish, when we are done eating I will leave you once again to discuss the merits and potential dangers of my proposal. And what we must do will be dangerous, but I have confidence that those who have made it this far can triumph over it.”
The doors opened to the dining hall admitting a beautiful woman with tan skin. Her charcoal eyes quickly scanning those already present at the table, but falling upon the host. Pace quickening until she was closer to him she gave a bow of the head “Good Day Mast Vorlace, please forgive my lateness however I had some things I had to see to before being able to agree to your terms.” Her voice was heavenly to those who were not from Elven heritage.
Standing at five-foot-three-inches tall she was considered average among her people, but short to most other races. The woman was gorgeous, and her features, if not her voice revealed to the rest of the room that she was an elf of sort. The more knowledgeable of the group would place her in the Wild Elf family, where as others may just think her a regular elf. The wild elf sported long black curly hair and was wearing a very elegant green strapless dress which revealed her tanned skin.
Slowly taking her seat in an available chair at the table, the servants had poured the drink, and served the food. Nodding to them the lady raised her voice “I am Ceridwen Humiltria, for those who do not already know based on my appearance, I am an elf, and druid. I hope that you will all embark with me on the journey Master Vorlace has set for us. I will also inform you that I have a wolf companion, so do not be alarmed if on our journey a wolf appears to be following or tracking us.” She then went to eating the meal before her in silence nodding to each person as they introduced themselves. The way she walked, the way she sat, showed them all, despite her beauty; she would be able to hold her on in a battle. Ceridwen did not have any weapons that were seen with the naked eyes, but all those who knew of the druid, knew she would have a weapon concealed somewhere on her person.
Heironymus enjoyed the meal. One thing he had learned in the past was to take advantage of agood meal when he got the chance. And this spread was certainly a good meal. Andhe liked the view. Surveying the forest was quite a pleasant view. Not dramatic perhaps, but almost pastoral. After the last few weeks, he could do with something pastoral.
After the speech by the master of the house, Heironymus had to admire the man. At least he appreciated his honesty - there was indeed no reason to believe him. Still, admitting the obvious did not mean he was honest, simply a good negotiator.
After the elf in the tunnels was spoken of, the cleric tilted his head slightly, and pondered the meaning of the words.
"So, you know of the dark elf? No surprise, I suppose, as I suspect we have you to thank for our escape."
He paused to take a drink of the fruit juice in his glass. "I can honestly say that I would love to walk away from all of this. But where would we go? After a jail break, I doubt very much that only one of us is hunted."
After another sip he continued. "But thankfully we sit here with someone who obviously wants us to know that he is a man with many answers. I am curious about what you know, but no doubt you will tell us in your own time. For now, tell us about this offer of yours. I have had few free choices since I arrived in this area, let us hear what choices we all might make now."
Posted on 2011-02-11 at 02:56:29.
Steelight Sage of the Realms Karma: 44/9 1024 Posts
"As you do not yet trust me, with good reason, the reverse is also true. I'm sure you'll understand if I don't divulge everything all at once. Particularly since most of you have not yet agreed to anything."
He pauses as the wild elf enters the room. He motions her over to a chair with a nod.
"I do know of your dark elf acquaintance, and have admitedly had dealings with him in the past though we are barely more than distant acquaintences. He is, as I'm certain you know, a manipulator and an illusionist, with no small amount of skill on either account. And you should not thank me for your escape. I simply helped to provide the opportunity. You did the rest on your own."
"As for my proposal... Most of you are familiar with the brewing war between the Illurina Empire and the nation of Valin." He says this as a statement of fact, not a question. "In fact, your actions, unbeknownst to you, have had an effect in accelerating that war. Though I do not believe this war to be a positive thing, it is something that is destined to happen. The beliefs of the two nations are simply too different to be understood by each other at large. But it is not the war that we will be concerned with, though we will certainly influence its outcomes. As I have said, there is much more at stake than the lives of the thousands of soldiers that will die in this war."
He pauses once again, to take a sip of his strange silver drink. Then, after he is sure he has everyone's attention, he continues.
"Much of the history of our world has been lost. Those who remember it, or have delved into its past are few. There was once a creature in this world that was so powerful, that many civilizations worshipped them as gods. In days long past, the ancient gods grew jealous and destroyed all of them, save three. These three creatures, the last of a powerful race, joined and became a true deity. I will not bore you with the details. Suffice to say that in the events of history, this deity sealed himself away. I'm sure you are wondering what this story has to do with my proposal. The seals wrought by a deity are being broken. An unknown force is working to awaken this god and set him lose on the world once more."
He waited a moment to let the gravity of the situation sink in.
"The war is only a mask. An illusion if you will." His eyes flicker to Heironymus. "So that those trying to break the seals can work without enemy eyes upon them. What I propose is that we attempt to stop these seals from being broken. The release of the Twilight Dragon upon this world would bring about a new dark age. He holds within him the swirling, constant struggles of law and chaos, and good and evil. There is no telling which he favors minute to minute. The mortals of this world will nto survive. Only through sheer circumstance did they survive his rage before he sealed himslf away."
Posted on 2011-02-11 at 06:10:39.
Edited on 2011-02-14 at 18:57:50 by Steelight
Heironymus - a man of many questions, a few of which get asked
“The Twilight Dragon? Should I know what that is?”
“Well, anyway, we obviously have many questions. At least I know I do. Where to start? A barrage of questions, while tempting, would probably not be productive.”
Pausing for a drink, Heironymus continued. “So I guess, we begin with the basics. First, although you don’t know who is responsible, surely you have an idea of why someone would want to release this thing? Second, if it sealed itself away, why would it want to escape?”
Raina leaned back at Master Vorlance’s explanation. Something began nagging at the corners of her mind. She watched without comment when the human male asked his first two questions.
“So I guess, we begin with the basics. First, although you don’t know who is responsible, surely you have an idea of why someone would want to release this thing? Second, if it sealed itself away, why would it want to escape?”
“Pardon me,” Raina said politely after he finished, “but I believe there is something that should be addressed first. Not to question your validity, my lord,” she inclined her head respectfully at Vorlance, “but how is it that you have come across this knowledge? You yourself said that people who have knowledge of our history are few and far between. So how is it that you not only know of this history, but know of an ancient and now extinct race that created an evil, and discover a plot by a mysterious foe to release said threat? Forgive me, but this story is straining credibility.”
She didn’t feel like she was making a good impression, but none the less set her face with a determined look. It didn’t seem right; the story seemed out of place. There were too many missing pieces to satisfactorily make a judgment one way or another. Raina sat straighter in her chair and forwent any further sustenance lest she miss some of the details from Vorlance.