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Blood and Betrayal

A week after salvaging the Citadel, the party returned to Glarondel (sp?) for further instructions. This time, they were sent to Undumoor to infiltrate the town, learn what they can, possibly rescue an agent or two, and help as they see need. They decided to use Paithan’s black sash of citizenship and some forged documents and white-collared disguises to bluff their way into town as visiting honored guests.

On the way to meet the smuggler who would take them to Undumoor, however, 6 thunerclaps shook the sky and a host of dwarven angels descended, immediately focusing on Lyr and attacking her. Refusing to fight them, and begging the other Trap Finders not to hurt them, Lyr tried to give them the rod… and ended up destroying one in the process. Battered and bloodied, she put the rod away again and held her hands up in complete surrender. Eventually, the rest of the party yielded as well, though the angels, unable to communicate with them, merely opened a rift back to their home plane and left.

Shaken, the party continued on its mission. They arrived in Undumoor and swiftly bluffed the “welcoming committee.” They then located their contact and the safe house. The contact gave them information about the situation, and explained that they were planning a raid on a storage house and the vampire lord Constantine’s castle, including his own coffin location, as soon as possible. The party went out looking for some more information, volunteered for the vampire slaying task, and determined to head out to fight the next day.

In the morning, they did exactly that, sneaking into the castle through a secret passageway. Just as they were congratulating themselves on such fine stealth, they arrived at the throne room, slipped through the secret door, and found themselves in only part of the throne room, the rest obscured by darkness. The door behind them slammed shut with a definite clang, and they heard a cold, vicious voice say “Oh, good. Food’s here.” Then snap his fingers and summon his hounds to attack.

After the epic battle, the party escaped the castle and headed back towards the safe house, but Paithan went off on a personal errand of his own. During the course of the trip back to the safe house, Gunder and Lyr began to discuss recent evnts, and an argument as fierce as the battle they’d just finished broke out among the remaining four. They were still arguing when they entered the safe house. Still arguing as they saw the corpses of the other party in the room. Still arguing when the lich hands dropped on them and the bodaks attacked, dropping Bodin to a dying state immediately.

When the bodaks were defeated, the party put to rest the other corpses, waited for Paithan to rejoin them, and got out of town as fast as they could.

Rewards: 3200 XP and a magic item of your choice of 15th level or lower.

Comments

“I didn’t mean for it to happen,” Lyr insisted, but there was genuine pain in her voice. She sat on a low stone bench, facing a crag-faced dwarf named Rudvin. He’d been her mentor during her whirlwind novitiate months, and now he sat before her, cold and impassive, while she tried to explain why every sign and signal they’d received from the Soul Forger in the last few weeks had had one very clear message: “Stop the elf.”

“I didn’t mean it, but I don’t see that I had many choices. Once it started… I don’t know that there was anything I could have done differently.”

“Then ye’d best start at the beginning,” his deep voice rumbled. “Go slow. I need to record this for the tribunal….”


“You seem happy,” Gunder commented to Lyr as they headed along the road from Dantelien to the coast. They would pick up the ferry to cross over into Undumoor, most likely arriving in just a few days.

Lyr shrugged. “I am happy. I mean… we have work to do, but we have a plan, a purpose, and I really think we’re the right team for the job, this time.”

Gunder raised an eyebrow at her. “And the dreams?”

“They stopped. I think retaking the Citadel ended them.” She smiled at him. She’d already explained what she’d figured out about the marks Gunder and Elisanada bore, that they were powerful boons that would help them three times before disappearing. Finally, a beneficial result of the trouble they’d gone through!

Gunder shook his head, but kept his own counsel. He was still having the dreams, and they’d become more and more urgent since the Citadel. The entity with Lyr’s eyes seemed to constantly torment him in his sleep, and he had taken to waking up early, trying to escape the dreams. He’d found Lyr and Bodin sparring nearly every morning before dawn. He’d watched them without announcing himself the first couple of times, but it seemed like normal weapons practice. That she used the new rod as a weapon in these sessions sent a chill down his spine, but there was nothing otherwise untoward about it.

With Elisanada and Bodin blindly following Lyr’s lead, and even Paithan seeming to be unconcerned by her behavior, Gunder was alone with his worries. Lack of sleep, the mounting urgency of the situation in Thay, and Lyr’s apparent and sudden lack of concern— he knew they were all playing tricks on his mind as well.

He just hoped the “Society” would know enough to help her.

This was the thought in his head when he heard six resounding thunderclaps and the skies opened up. Two enormous angelic dwarves and four smaller ones flew from the skies, landing in a small clearing in front of them. Without warning or parlay, they opened up, two of the artillery raining a hail of radiant fire down on Lyr. The two angels struck out at her with their holy weapons, while the smaller two blocked against her, hindering her movement.

In a matter of seconds, she was down, battered and bruised. Weakly, coughing blood and barely audible to her friends, she called “don’t hurt them!” But it was hard to tell who she was talking to— the Trap Finders, or the dwarves.

Elisanada’s bowstring reverberated as she shot fast and furious at the dwarves while Paithan moved up to engage the larger ones. Bodin stepped to the side, standing over Lyr’s fallen body to protect her. “Stand, lass, and repay them in kind!” he called to her.

Invigorated, Lyr spat out the blood in her mouth and shouted “I said don’t hurt them! Please, for all that’s holy, don’t!” She was sobbing a little as she spoke. With no warning, she found the rod was in her hand, and she glanced up at the radiant angels surrounding her.

Like angry bees, they were targeting her friends as well as her, grievously wounding Bodin who responded in kind. Tears already streaming down her bloodied face, Lyr held out the rod haft first, attempting to hand it to one of the dwarven angels.

Time slowed. Bodin swung around, drawing the angels towards him. The dwarven angel reached for the rod, an expression of grim satisfaction on his cragged face. That expression turned to an instant of surprise as his hand touched the rod and he exploded into a shower of radiant fire, completely obliterated by the mere touch of the weapon.

Lyr gasped and staggered, her jaw dropped in a mix of horror and shock. The radiant flames engulfed her a second time, sending her reeling, and exposing an invisible humanoid next to Lyr and Bodin, who scampered off and away, chased by Paithan’s blade and trailing flames as he ran.

Making her gestures wide and distinct, Lyr put the rod back in her enchanted bag of holding, making it disappear into its extradimensional space entirely. “It’s too dangerous for you” she called to the largest of the angels. “Take me instead— I’ll carry it.” She held her hands out in surrender.

The angels paused a moment, glancing at each other, and Elisanada’s bowstring twanged again. Lyr cursed silently as Paithan and Bodin continued to fight, and the artillery angels blasted her again with radiant fire, blinding her in the process.

Gunder had kept out of it for the most part, his rat moving Lyr out of immediate danger and helping his friends without taking any action against the angels. Lyr heard the two smaller dwarves moving up to Elisanada. As soon as the ranger was surrounded, she too slung her bow and held her hands up.

Paithan was next to heed Lyr’s cries for surrender, although he maintained a defensive pose.

Bodin was the last to yield to the messengers from Moradin.

When the party had fully yielded, it became clear that Lyr’s words were meaningless to the angels— they lacked a common tongue with Lyr or the other party members. The air before them tore open, revealing the sights and sounds of a celestial dwarven forge, thousands of stoneborn working dilligently and with joy at anvils. They stepped through, disappearing instantly.

Lyr’s vision cleared a moment later, and she curled onto the ground, weeping with relief.


Stepping off the Widowmaker, Lyr held her head high, her spine straight. She wore the white collar of an honored guest above her hammer and anvil holy symbol. She held the sheaf of papers that supposedly identified her and her companions as guests of Lord Constantine, Lord Regent of Undumoor. Behind her, Bodin, Elisanada, Gunder, and Paithan stood, hands on their weapons but not otherwise moving aggressively.

The vampire standing on the docks, flanked by snarling blood dogs, sneered at her, eyeing the symbol around her neck. “What is your business in Undumoor?” he demanded.

Imperiously, Lyr handed him the papers. “That’s none of your concern,” she said haughtily. Behind her, Gunder swallowed, hard, but said nothing to give them away. This was not his first con job, and he knew better than to show surprise at anything the “face” might do or say.

The vampire looked Lyr up and down as he unfolded the papers, noting the collar and her obvious status as a cleric of Moradin. His lip curled again, his eyes burned red for a moment, and Lyr held herself perfectly still, with utter confidence that she had every reason to arrive here and be permitted into the city unmolested.

Then, he looked down at the paper. His face, already white, fell and drained not of color, but of emotion. He quickly folded the pages again and thrust them back at Lyr. “On your way, then….” As she breezed by him, she heard him mutter “for now.”


CLANG

The door behind Elisanada slammed shut behind the party as they crept into what appeared to be a small room with a cloud of darkness swirling over one wall. Lyr had stepped all the way into the room, peering into the darkness. Her mouth worked silently, and Bodin read her lips. “… Twelve… thirteen… sixteen…. holy anvil of Moradin….” She’d gone quite pale, obviously seeing something the rest of them could not. They’d certainly heard the oily shout of Constantine, the vampire lord, although they still couldn’t see him.

From the darkness, two enormous wolfhounds, their teeth gnashing and bloodied, leapt out at the party, striking for Elisanada, but then jumping to Lyr when Elisanada dodge quickly away. Reeling from their attacks, Lyr took a moment to right herself. Two dark reapers closed in around them, striking at their life essences with their ghostly claws.

For Lyr, the battle had a completely different appearance. Easily able to penetrate the darkness, she counted over a dozen smaller hounds, the kind that would infect them with a plague that blocked her ability to heal her friends— certain death if they weren’t especially careful. Constanting stood before his throne, the two wolfhounds flanking him before he ordered them to attack. And behind him lurked the cloaked figure of his necromancer, Tyrean.

As the vampire lord played havoc with their plans, Lyr reached a hand out, banishing Constantine for a brief moment so they could all catch their breaths.

Tyrean stepped forward, shouting “Oh, that’s perfect! The figure flung its cloak back and lifted her arms, blasting all but three of the small hounds with searing light.

And then time. Stopped.

For everyone but Lyr, one heartbeat passed.

“Do you have any idea how much trouble this thing has been?” Tyrean held up a glowing blue stone, and Lyr’s heart leapt into her throat.

“The Tear!” she whispered. And yet— why hadn’t she known?

“I propose a trade. This for that.” Tyrean’s slim hand reached out, pointing at the rod in Lyr’s hand.

Lyr looked down at the rod, then back up at Tyrean. “Who the hell are you?”

The necromancer laughed. “You should probably ask our mother that question, sister.”

Lyr looked back down at the rod, suddenly furious. She looked back at Tyrean. Sister or no, she must be one of the blood. Lyr didn’t have that strange protective urge she’d had towards Bodin when he carried the stone. Actually, she thought she might like to kill her. “Do you have any idea how much trouble this has given me?” she called back, holding up the rod.

“So— trade with me.”

“I’d be happy to, but how would that even work?” But even as she said it, Lyr was ready to let the rod go. She held it up in her hand, palm open, and it disappeared, materializing in Tyrean’s hand a moment later.

Tyrean withdrew, ranting something about finally attacking the real threat from Thay, but Lyr didn’t hear her.

In the rod’s place: the Tear.

“Well, it’s about damn time, elf!” Lyr heard in her head. Then an almost physical blow and a ringing as if a celestial ale mug had just clocked her in the skull.

“All right, all right— I got it!” she muttered to herself. “But look— I got the Tear back!” But there was silence in her head.

“Bodin, look! I got the Tear back!” Lyr held it up, catching what little light was in the room.

Bodin looked up at her, confusion in his face. “What the—?” he called, but then there was no time. The enormous hounds, which had rushed Elisanada and Lyr just a split second earlier, were now turning their attention snarling towards him and his whirling axe. They hulked over him, each about five feet high at the shoulder, their jaws dripping with blood-foamed saliva. Unlike regular hounds, their front paws ended in enormous claws, which they used to lash out, grab their foes, and then bite ferociously with their teeth.

Bodin’s focus on them was so complete, he tuned out the rest of the fight, save when he needed to spare a glance up and call to help a friend.


Wiping sweat from her brow, Lyr finished the last ritual, setting to rest the last of the heroes who’d fought the beholder and raided the store house. The spell would protect them from becoming undead, and would preserve them for later burial, if needed. She took a deep sigh. “I’ll raise the Repairman tomorrow,” she said, yawning. “He can decide what to do with the rest of them.” Then she settled onto an overturned crate and pulled a wineskin from her bag.

Bodin and Gunder glared at her from across the room. Elisanada sat on a small bench next to the crate, her greatbow resting across her knees. Lyr leaned back against the wall behind her, tired beyond belief. She took a deep drink from the wineskin, then nodded. “Go ahead,” she said wearily.

“I can’t believe you were feeding that thing—” Bodin started.

“You complain about trust, but then you’re not honest with us—” Gunder continued.

Elisanada said nothing, just looked down at her hands in her lap. She’d used the sigil on her torso— twice— because Lyr had said it was safe. And she’d done it to save Lyr. And now… was it still safe?

“What’s that, Elisanada?” Lyr asked, looking up and addressing her friend first.

Elisanada was startled. She hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud. “Is— the mark. Is it dangerous?”

Lyr seemed to think for a moment, then nodded. “I think we should do more research before you use it again. I don’t trust it, now.” Her eyes cut over to Gunder on the word trust, but he was having none of it.

“You see? Suddenly, you’re all turned around on these marks. You’ve been under the rod’s thrall since the minute you put your hand on it.”

“I have not been under it’s thrall. But fine. You want total honesty? OK, here goes. I’m geased. Permanently. I have been since before I met any of you, and that will probably never change.”

“Geased?” Gunder’s brow furrowed. “Geased to do what? I don’t understand where this is coming from. What does this have to do with the rod?”

“It has nothing to do with the rod, Gunder. Bodin was right— the rod is trash compared to it. I’m geased to guard and protect this.” She held out a small glowing blue stone. Despite the serious nature of the talk, she smiled the moment she looked at it.

“You had that before, at the castle, but what is it? I don’t even—”

“It’s the Tear,” Bodin’s voice gruffed. “It’s a…. thing of power. An artifact… from her family. I carried it for a while and put it in safe keeping.” He looked grim. “It was stolen a few months later, and we’ve been trying to find it ever since.”

“And you have a geas to protect this little rock thing?”

It seemed to almost pulse with a heartbeat. “_This_ is the Tear of Corellon, an elven artifact older, maybe, than the elves. I don’t know much about it— that little book I’m always reading is my ancestor’s journal. She knew more about it than anyone. She carried and used both Tears in her lifetime.”

“Wait— both Tears?” Elisanada looked up. “There’s more than one?”

“There… was,” Lyr confirmed. “In a way, there still is.” She took a deep breath. “I’m… um. I’m sort of the other Tear. Me, everyone related to me, in a way— all of Elryndra’s descendants, including Tyrean. She used it to give us all souls.” Lyr let out her breath. “In doing so, she used it up.”

“She… used up an artifact?” Elisanada’s eyes were wide. “I didn’t think that was possible.”

“She was very powerful,” Lyr acknowledged. “She killed a god. I think after that, she probably thought she could do anything.” She shrugged. “And she was pretty much right.“

Gunder’s jaw had dropped. Finally, he said. “I see where you get it.”

“Get what?”

“Your arrogance.”

Now it was Lyr’s turn to look stunned. “Excuse me?”

“Have you heard yourself talk this past week, but especially today? ‘I was the best person for the job.’ and ‘No one else could have carried it safely.’ It must be really nice to always be right.”

“Have a care, Gunder,” Bodin growled a warning.

Lyr shook her head. “If you can think of anyone better suited…”

“Anyone,” Gunder said. “Anyone with more humility than you would have been more suited. Would have kept the pieces apart. Would not have fed it your life energy— or that of your friend! Anyone who hadn’t already attuned herself to the crystal altar— by all the gods, Lyr, what were you thinking attuning all that power to yourself?”

Lyr shook her head and closed her eyes, shoulders finally slumping. “I thought— I thought repairing a thing of beauty and power would please my god.”

“And how did that work out for you, Lyr?” Bodin’s voice was like gravel in her ears, but the rage was gone from it, leaving simmering anger. “The All Father sent his own angels to fight us. Ye destroyed one. I had to fight them to defend you. Did ye not think—”

“Yes, of course I did.” She opened her eyes and met his. “Right then I realized I’d made a mistake. I might be arrogant, but I’m not stupid. I doubt I needed such a direct and painful experience to realize it, but apparently nobody contacted my church to let them sanction me.” Her eyes cut again to Gunder, but he was stone-faced.

“Aye,” Bodin said, but this time his voice was softer, hurt. “But this morning.”

Lyr blushed red, and they could all see her about to defend herself again. “I wasn’t—” But then she stopped, and they saw the transformation occur right there, in that moment. The blush, indeed all the color, drained from her face. She covered her mouth with her hand, lost for a moment in realization.

“You’re… right. Both of you are right. This morning wasn’t because I thought I’d be pleasing Moradin. This morning was….” she looked away for a moment, seeming to stare at nothing for a moment. “This morning was just the artifact. Its need, its lust….” her voice trailed off.

Bodin stood and crossed his arms over his chest, fists clenched. “If I didna love ye, lass…” His voice trailed off. “Right now, I canna stand to look at ye.” He stumped up the stairs to the second story of the safe house, leaving Lyr, Gunder and Elisanada downstairs.

“I was influenced…. enthralled by it.” She looked up at Gunder. “I didn’t even know.”

“I need to know more about this Tear,” Gunder said simply, the anger still in his voice.

She nodded. “But you can’t tell anyone, not about the Tear,” she insisted. “Please. Swear to me.” She swallowed. “Or, if you think it’s harmful, you have to talk to the rest of the Trap Finders first. Everyone else has to agree, unanimously.” She paused, a pained look coming over her face. “Unanimous except for me. I’ll never act against it. I can’t. Any more than I can stop breathing. You understand?”

Reluctantly, Gunder nodded. “Tell me.”

Lyr drew a small book from her bag and held it out. It was leather bound, exceedingly battered, and the edges were stained in blood. “I’ll let Elryndra tell you. Oh, here.” She drew a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles out of her bag as well. “You’ll need these to read it. Except my notes— those are in elven.”

“I don’t read elven.”

Elisanada looked over at him, but made no motion to stand. “I’ll help you,” she said simply. Then she nodded towards the stairs. “In a few minutes…”

Gunder looked like he wanted to say something more, but then he looked down at the journal and opened it. It was filled with tight lines of script, the ink only slightly faded. The bottom edge of each page was, indeed, stained brown with ancient, dried blood. He started up the steps, not looking back when Elisanada stood and settled herself next to Lyr on the crate.

Wordlessly, Lyr handed her the wineskin. Elisanada took a deep draught from it, then handed it back. “Drink,” she said quietly to her friend. Lyr drank, then Elisanada leaned closer to her.

After a long moment, Lyr glanced over at her. “Did you see it?” she asked simply. “I was blind when they left.”

Elisanada nodded. She didn’t need Lyr to explain. They’d been to heaven together and back again. The ranger knew losing Avandor was perhaps Lyr’s only regret about converting to the dwarven god, and she’d have wanted to know what she had to look forward to, now. “Didn’t you hear it, at least? Like a heartbeat—” The sound had been tremendous, but rhythmic. Bodin, Gunder, and Paithan had heard it, she was certain.

Lyr shook her head. “I didn’t hear anything.” Her face crumpled and she leaned into Elisanada, holding back the sobs with a valiant effort. “What if I can’t go there, either?” she sobbed. “Elisanada, what if I’m damned?”

Elisanada wrapped one arm around Lyr and let her cry. “I’m sure if that were the case,” she finally said softly, “you’d talk your way out of it.”

Blood and Betrayal
mortaine

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