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  • File : 1295307564.jpg-(339 KB, 800x1109, 1295052438305.jpg)
    339 KB Dragon Quest XXX Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)18:39 No.13557466  
    The late city of Azar languishes beneath the midday sun. The plunder you've already gained, ships from the harbor, is making it's way north, back to Mza. The sails are dwindling on the horizon, their retreat an unfortunate necessity. Meanwhile, Asha, Scinnari, and yourself have put ashore, and are exploring the dead city. Rats and crows, vermin and scavengers permeate the city in abundance. As do the dead- a few small groups of skeletons or zombies pass you by, oblivious to your invisible presence, and easily evaded. In two cases, Scinnari points out vampires leading certain groups.

    No order is evident, though. The 'patrols' seem to originate nowhere and end up nowhere. You suppose that, being undead, they need not change shifts every eight hours. What you do find, though, isn't much help. Despite the undead patrols, and the bodies of those who died after the dead reanimated, the city seems almost empty. Asha assures you that it should have had a larger population, and you have seen almost no sign of the siege armies, that Sultan's Janissaries. /Almost/ no sign- a few of the fresher looking undead seem to be wearing the colors of Tashz.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)18:39 No.13557470
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    “It's too large, master. We... Is it possible we should split up to speed our search?” Asha voices after the first hour. Unless you either know what you are looking for, or get lucky, searching the whole city will take days.

    “I suspect we should investigate the Vizier's palace. Those who seek power usually desire the trappings of it- and at the very least, the most wealth is likely to be there.” Scinnari volunteers. You shake your head.

    “Wealth might be a poor thing to seek here. If the black I suspect to be behind this is...” you say, pausing as a trio of zombies shambles down the street. A minute later they turn, leaving the street you have paused on, and Scinnari interrupts before you can continue.

    “True, but I am also interested in how this began in the first place, and signs or records are most likely to remain there.” Scinnari counters.

    “Master?” Asha voices quietly, and you nod assent, “The Guilds of Tashz are infamous for spying on each other and the Sultanate, and keeping more detailed records than the sultanate itself. The main guild houses are located near the southern gate. For what... If that is what you seek...” Asha offers, trailing off.

    [Dice 1d100, I've got a few retcons to make when we get back home, and I'm having some difficulty with connections, so my posts may be delayed even more than usual. As if anyone could tell without resorting to geological eras.]
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)19:18 No.13557806
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    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)19:39 No.13558025
    Hmmm. Have Scinnari go with Asha to the guildhouses. Together they will be able to both find and identify the things we will want to see, and hopefully the pair of them will be able to take care of themselves. Give Scinnari our wand of fireballs just in case. Personally we should attend to the Palace, on the off chance whoever started this took up residence there.

    Make sure the two ladies know to avoid confrontation. We don't want a pissed off black older than us trying to bring us down until we have an edge up on him somehow.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)19:45 No.13558076
    rolled 39 = 39

    Oh, and the die.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)19:45 No.13558079
    rolled 41 = 41

    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)19:57 No.13558203
    Dragon Quest Bump.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)19:58 No.13558238

    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:12 No.13558369
    Sending off Asha with Scinnari in an extremely hostile and dangerous environment, when Asha has become mentally unstable at best in recent years and has been terrified of Scinnari just about forever, strikes me as a poor allocation of personnel resources. Asha sticks with us.

    Nor do I think that we should split up in an area this dangerous. Let's go for the guildhouses first, and hopefully on from there to the palace. Also, if there's really a black behind this then we only want to steal cash if it can't be traced at all to us.
    >> Alpharius 01/17/11(Mon)20:13 No.13558376
    Can we get a summary of the last 2-4 threads?
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:16 No.13558419
    It's in the archives. Short version is that we took over an island with centralized location in the world and are building it up to be a trade metropolis and capital of the empire we plan to found. We just stole 5 warships and ~10 merchant ships filled with cargo from a city that just got hit by a mass Slay Living epic spell combined with a Raise Dead epic spell.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:18 No.13558442
    A quick summary of what the hell is going on:
    -We are a red dragon of ambition tempered sharply by caution and cunning.
    -We are pretending to be an arrogant sorcerer-king for PR reasons, and rule a small but rapidly growing port called Mza from which we are blatantly profiteering off the ongoing war between major nations.
    -We trash anyone who tries to take the port with our Orb of Storms, hidden draconic nature, and/or magics.
    -We've been doing that for fifteen years or so, while cementing our rule and slowly raking in wealth to recoup our large initial investments in Mza.
    -Recently, one of the major cities involved in the ongoing war, Tashz, suffered massive necromantic apocalypse.
    -We dropped by to steal as much of their shit as we could, on the grounds that they're not guarding it terribly effectively anymore and we got the news early.
    -We suspect an older black dragon is responsible, based upon what our spies found out before we told them to not touch the black's organization since we don't want to mess with bigger dragons than us without significant prep.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)20:21 No.13558462
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    "That seems... as good a venue as any. Scinnari, you may pursue your inquiries there. Asha, please assist her." you order, choosing a course of action. "Oh, and... why don't you take this as well." you suggest, handing Asha your wand of fire. She nods meekly. "I would far prefer it, though, if that never became necessary. I do not wish to provoke the local ruler until I know who it is." you add. They both nod, and though Scinnari looks less than happy, they obey, pausing to refresh their invisibility enchantments before Asha leads Scinnari down the street.

    You, instead, turn towards the palace. A large, soaring building, built on a rise in the center of the city, it dominates... everything, a demonstration of the pride and power of Tashz. You are forced to concede that it is somewhat impressive, for mere humanoids to have created such a structure, though you do not give much credence to their claims of creating it without magic.


    You pass two more patrols on the way to the palace, only one with a vampiric commander. At one point, a rising commotion behind you makes you think you've been detected, somehow, but it turns out to merely be a bird attempting to rip some flesh from a zombie.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)20:21 No.13558473
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    Leaving hungry birds behind you, you find yourself ascending a wide, low staircase, passing through an enormous arch, and entering the palace courtyard. Ahead, the main edifice looms, and to either side elaborate gardens spread out, unaffected by the death of their caretakers. Or perhaps their caretakers are still up and about, if not living... The palace does seem to have more undead in it.

    Stepping to the side, you watch as a small column of skeletons in armor advance through the gate. Plenty wide, you stand near the wall, then follow them as they climb the final set of stairs to the palace.

    It takes you a few minutes, as he issues no commands, but you finally identify a leader in the group, a vampire of mostly-rotted flesh, only distinguished from the others by his eyes. At least you think it to have been a 'he'.

    The party stops in the center of the first hall, an entry way, reception chamber of some sort. All except the vampire- it continues forward. Interesting. A method of non-verbal commands, and... judging by the setting, it looks like he's heading to report to someone. Strange, since he can control his minions mentally, you would hae thought any superior of his to have the same ability, but... Who knows.

    Several doors edge the room, in addition to the entrance to the grand hall, and the exit. Servants doors, or perhaps access to the other portions of the palace. The vampire is continuing forward, presumably to the throne room and his master.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:22 No.13558485
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    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:29 No.13558573
    Okay, if there are demonic influences at work here then they will likely have the ability to see us like Scinnari can. Different breed of hellspawn, but truesight is common.

    I suggest we investigate places other than the throne room for now. Archives, treasury (not to steal, but to see if it has been cleaned out... indirect information gathering) and of course the all-important bedchambers where personal effects like diaries and such are kept.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)20:30 No.13558582
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    Correction: Change 'Tashz' in point five to 'Azar'. Tashz and Rhasver want the city, the city wanted to do it's own thing. As far as we know, the necromantic apocalypse was limited to the city.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:32 No.13558599
    Let's keep following him. He's our best bet for finding the one in charge here thus far, and it hasn't yet gotten threatening enough that we need to abandon the tail.

    Don't forget the way out. That's kind of important. And if we get a free moment, view Scinnari through her collar to keep track of their progress (we can do that, right?).
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)20:33 No.13558611
    Oh, and when we are done with these investigations we should locate Scinnari via her collar and teleport to her, then the two of us teleport back to the palace. It will save a lot of walking and dangerous encounters.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)21:20 No.13559042
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    Stepping forward, you follow the vampire into the main hall. What you see is somewhat disconcerting- A vast, domed chamber, easily large enough to hold a few dragons your size, a ceiling painted to resemble the night sky, albeit with a few arching windows to the real sky in it. Lower down, the constellations fade towards painted horizons, below which the walls hang covered with mosaics, tapestries, and curtains, probably of significant value. Ah... the Rhasver command seem to have taken the palace as their own center of operations, judging by the bodies on the floor. No effort has been made to clear them, and they lie where they fell, presumably attempting to hold out against the undead hordes.

    In the center, a single table sits at the edge of the Vizier's dais. A few undead minions stand about the table, guards for the wizards in the center. Two of them what look to be a black haired surface elf with dark, sunken eyes, and a human, middle-aged looking, who seems an unhealthy shade of pale yellow. Understandable- the odor of the rotting bodies is horrific, despite the decent amount of ventilation offered by windows in the dome.

    He you have seen before- the self-styled sultan, Sannek. A little older than the last time you saw him, and looking a bit ill, but essentially the same man. Beside him, though, the elven woman looks... carved from a block of marble. Or perhaps ice would be more accurate; she stares impassively at the vampire, features dark. They both reek of magic, and necromancy in particular. At a guess, she's more powerful than Sannek. She certainly seems totally unconcerned with the odors of rotting flesh.

    "He is here. Issue your orders." she says after a few moments.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)21:20 No.13559046
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    "I.. of cour-" Sannek replies uncomfortably.

    "Not aloud." she interrupts with a hint of contempt, or possibly cruelty, "Mentally."

    "Ah..." Sannek says, trying to focus, "Of course.".

    "Solely mentally, Sultan.". She adds. You can't tell whether the title is used with respect or not. A lengthy period follows, during which Sannek shifts and sweats, evidently communing with.. his? subordinates. After a time, just as you start to get bored, the vampire turns and leaves, heading out. You remain.

    "Improving, marginally." the elven woman states, a tone suggesting indifference. "You might have had serious talent, had you started earlier. Or had you a reasonable lifespan."

    "You are... most kind." Sannek replies carefully. They... You'd expect him to be a craven prisoner, both from Asha's descriptions, and from what you know to have happened here, but he seems... a student?

    Another span of silence, long enough to make you fear they've returned to telepathic communications, before the elf breaks it again.

    "You may depart as discussed. I shall handle matters for the remainder of the day." she says, a clear dismissal. Sannek nods, standing abruptly. Leaping at a chance for fresh air, it seems. He waves his hands, casting a spell of some kind, and you feel a... a shift, a tide of magic, changing. The magical hand-off of the reins, you suspect.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)21:22 No.13559057
    We are alos the child of the Binder, which will eventually allow us to enslave beings to our will at great cost.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)21:38 No.13559245
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    Well, since things seem to be slow for the moment, I'm going to go and snag some food real quick. As an explanation to a few questions in the chat (IRChighway, channel: #dragonquest), our 'smelling' her magic is due to our natural affinity for it. We're a dragon, fuck yeah, etcetera.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)21:46 No.13559363
    Search the palace and wait for Scinnari so we can review these findings.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)21:49 No.13559389
    Follow Sannek as he leaves. If he doesn't go anywhere interesting, then search the rest of the palace.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)21:56 No.13559484
    Seconding this. Follow him. Polymorph into another form first, so we aren't identifiable should we be seen.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:07 No.13559521
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    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:09 No.13559542
    Here is the plan, off IRC discussions.

    Follow the Sultan and polymorph to a different face while remaining invisible. See if he goes anywhere interesting. If he goes to someplace relatively solitary and looks like he'll be there for a while, we check up on Scinnari, making sure that we're not disrupting during a stealthy or delicate moment which might get her killed, and have her fetch the Spinel Sage, some assassination tools (poisons/drugs for use on the Sultan to make sure of things), and any defensive magical items that we have lying around- particularly anything which might ward off negative energy, although I daresay that we'd have brought those in the first place if we had them. We get the Sage near him so that it'll know what he knows, then kill him and leave. Later, we question the Sage to figure out exactly what happened here.

    We do not loot unless we see something EXCEPTIONALLY tempting.

    We give Asha and Scinnari enough time to accomplish their own mission unless we encounter some significant reason to make haste.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:10 No.13559555
    Supporting this, as per IRC discussions. Covers all the bases.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:31 No.13559853
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    do you know where i can get IRC chat?
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:35 No.13559902
    mIRC, there are also several webchat clients like the one for IRCHighWay.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:36 No.13559909
    If you're using Firefox, Chatzilla is pretty nice.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:47 No.13560076
    Just loaded chatzilla what is the command to enter chat?
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)22:48 No.13560092
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    Sannek wobbles off towards the right side of the dome, and you follow. He passes through a curtain, and you just barely dodge through behind him. While Cold-and-dark doesn't seem to be watching Sannek leave, you don't want to risk a curtain floating to one side of it's own accord.

    Beyond are more lavishly appointed passages and corridors. You give Sannek a head start, taking the opportunity to alter your form, relaxing and shifting to another humanoid form. Sannek uses his lead to ascends to what seems to be a royal wing, of some sort. He was ruler here, you suppose. His room, happily, actually has a door, which he leaves open. Inside, he immediately sits down on a luxurious bed, seeming distraught. After a moment, he draws a few curtains around the bed, thin enough not to block his view of the room (nor yours of the bed,) but enough to suggest his intent on sleep. A single man lying alone on a bed that could comfortably fit a half dozen individuals... well, you doubt the significance is lost on him. He seems, if anything, more depressed. You busy yourself with his desk.

    Trapped. Minimally. You puzzle it out after a few moments, and slide open the main desk drawer silently. Writing utensils, paper and parchment, a few spell scrolls, and a few expensive-looking knick-knacks. Nothing of serious interest.

    The bottom drawer is deeper, though, and you hit paydirt. A large, heavy tome, a journal. A /diary/. It is sometimes baffling, humanoid's desires to record and write down their lives. As if they can't remember them.

    The tome is full, and, ultimately, very boring. Ruler or not, his life is rather uninteresting. So uninteresting... a puff of smoke escapes your mouth as your suspicions mount.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)22:50 No.13560124

    It can't be truly that dull and insignificant. Similarly, a ruler can't be so careless or incautious as to let such a thing be found, despite Asha's opinion of his competence. Hmm...

    Placing the book back, you stand and observe the rest of the room... Nothing immediately of informational value. Damnation.

    Stepping out through the open door, you focus on Scinnari. You've learned a few tricks regarding the connection between yourself and her choker; you detect her, just over a half mile to the south. Further concentration and exploitation of the amulet's abilities.allows you to visualize her, and then her surroundings. Exploring a room, the second floor of a wooden building... papers, strongboxes, and so on. A merchant guild, indubitably.

    "Scinnari. How are things coming?" you ask mentally.
    >> Text too long Pt. 3 Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)22:52 No.13560150
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    "Well as can be. They don't seem to have cataloged... Indexed, very much. The records are haphazard at best. I feel almost like they've been gone over prior to us, but Asha tells me that they tended to have a 'Master of Records' position, who was the only person who knew their way around them. A theft-proofing, of sorts, I suppose... and it seems to fit."

    "If it fits well enough to overcome your suspicions, I don't doubt it." you reply. "But. I would like you to retrieve a few things for me. From Mza, and then bring them to me. Poisons, and any other assassination tools you like, anything you know of that would protect against vampires... abilities, and the crystal." you order. "Yes, that one." you confirm.

    "I... assume you have someone you wish to question, then? The ruler of this place?" Scinnari asks.

    "Yes... Our necromancers have taken up residence here." you say. Reverting back to your orders, you reminder her, "Those items."

    "Of course, lord. Give me half an hour..." she replies, and you watch her issue orders to Asha. Asha nods, and Scinnari vanishes, abruptly your sense of her being yanked several hundred miles north.

    Plans put in motion, you begin searching the wing of the palace, seeing what you can find.
    [dice 1d100]
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:55 No.13560201
    rolled 29 = 29

    Detect magic on the diary. It likely has a secret cipher or the spell "hidden page" cast on it. Likewise cast Detect Secret Doors since we have it, it can only help.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:55 No.13560209
    did we use detect magic on him yet? also should we risk a detect thoughts? (if we have it)
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:58 No.13560245
    rolled 100 = 100

    We'd have smelled the magic on it already. Detect Secret Door might help, though.

    Rollan for loot.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)22:58 No.13560254
    rolled 38 = 38

    Roll for finding.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:00 No.13560278
    Hell yes.


    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:03 No.13560325
    Holy mothership.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:05 No.13560366
    You sir, you just won an hour of playing pretend with me.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:11 No.13560452
    sorry to repeat this but i just loaded chatzilla what commands do i need to do to enter chanle?
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:13 No.13560485


    Just get into irc://irc.irchighway.net/dragonquest. Though for the record I am highly tempted to attempt to cash that in.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:15 No.13560522
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:20 No.13560591
    Ominous silence is ominous.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:23 No.13560622
    Stop that. You eat up post count and everyone knows WD takes forever to post responses, and he even said it would take longer today due to technical difficulties. Don't clutter the thread.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:27 No.13560674
    keeping thread alive not trying to make clutter
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:28 No.13560692
    The thread is very much alive. All bumps do is make clutter.
    >> Part of this post couldn't be posted. Posting this in small parts as I figure out what. Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)23:35 No.13560812
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    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)23:36 No.13560831
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    The passage ends in a door even more cunningly concealed than the last. You are, however, on the wrong side of it to be fooled. Still, you admire the facade it presents, once you close it behind you- a masterful piece of work.

    The room it releases you into is dark, and, you suspect, near the roof. A sealed off attic, perhaps, considering the trap door, and the amount of rust on the hinges. But not forgotten, despite a layer of dust. While it seems to have been abandoned for a few weeks, and has a thin layer of dust, it is a well-appointed wizards' laboratory, from a powerful summoning circle in the corner, to a series of bookshelves, holding much on enchantment, ritual, the planes, summoning, conjuration, and abjuration. A few tables have books on them, among the alembics and boilers. You approach one, and flip it open.

    "succeeded at summoning an extra-planar. A clockwork inhabitant of Mechanus, a 'modron', I do believe. It answered questions about it's plane, and I dismissed it after an hour. I learned much, this 'Tridrone', as it claimed to be..."

    An aspiring summoner. Sannek, judging by the hand writing. Intersting. Flipping towards the end, you read the last entry.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)23:37 No.13560838
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    "She used me. Everything... Everything" it reads, the reiteration underlined, "was just... just for it's own sake. The chaos, the war... she never meant any help. Damnation. I've bound her here, banished her from the abyss for a hundred years. Tricky, but a morbidly ironic application of what she taught me. Also not particularly unpleasant, but I figure it will become inconvenient at some point. Plus, if she dies in that time, she will be destroyed, completely. No returning to her home plane for her..."

    How /very/ interesting. Scinnari seems to have been right. Flipping back through the pages, you try to ascertain who 'she' was. It quickly becomes clear: a succubus. It takes more time to piece together the full picture, but it does start to make sense. The book, slighlty magical, makes reading through sixteen years of research notes a possible task, assisting you as you search. The picture takes form, then color...

    She, this, "Nsaanav", answered a summoning meant for something else. In his curiosity to find out how she had done it, the wizard had been too lax in his information and caution. The story the entries make from that day on is somewhat... pathetic. You suspect it would be apparent to anyone but the author, a singular Vizier Sannek, but she used him, first persuading him to support foolish policies, then convincing him to declare Azar's independence... All, apparently, for the sake of the death, destruction, and chaos. Given a chance, demons can be just as cruel as devils, it seems.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/17/11(Mon)23:40 No.13560874
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    The room has a few tables of stored experiments and lab notes, as well as the summoning circle in the corner. A large mirror, taller than you are, sits in a gilt frame in one corner, and a ladder on one wall seems to lead up to the roof.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:44 No.13560914
    Dying permanently? I think Scinnari would like the idea of being able to kill a demon.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:46 No.13560935
    Check the mirror for magic. Otherwise poke around a bit more, it's quite possible there are things hidden even in this room.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:51 No.13561002
    Stick it all in our bag of holding and wait for Scinnari to pop up. We need to confirm who the pale woman is and congratulate Scinnari on her instincts here.

    Also need to ask her how she got that feeling about the abyss. She could be trying to manipulate us to fight the blood war for her side, we don't know.
    >> Anonymous 01/17/11(Mon)23:51 No.13561005
    Search the room for loot, being wary of traps.

    Those books on magic are considered "loot". Into the bag of holding with them, particularly anything regarding infernal creatures.
    >> NachtElv 01/17/11(Mon)23:53 No.13561028
    I wish this fitted into my timezone a little better :C
    I guess thats what the archives are for!
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)00:12 No.13561280
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    Opening your magical bag, not a true bag of holding, but a fairly good imitation, you begin hauling books off the shelves and placing them in the bag. Enough room, though not with too much to spare. At the end of it, your bag is heavy, despite it's enhancements. Heavy enough to be uncomfortable on your belt, you're forced to move it to your back, over your shoulders. Inconveniences.

    The mirror, you determine, is enchanted. A scrying device, you guess, before casting the necessary spells to determine the truth. A relatively nice one, albeit mostly the size of the images it can show, rather than being able to offer more powerful scrying abilities.

    The tables themselves, have their equipment stored away, neat and clean. Not safe to add to your bag, with all the glass, but potentially worthwhile loot, or fungible material.

    The summoning circle, though catches your eyes time and time again. You're drawn to it; the sheer workmanship is impressive. Gold, a quarter of an inch thick, wrought like pairs of tiny winding serpents, each holding the next one's tail in their mouths. Paired jewels eye each of them, and the overall impression is an exquisite piece of work, as well as a passable magical tool.

    It is while admiring it that you notice Scinnari has been away longer than she promised. You focus on her amulet, and tune in... south, with Asha. Heading towards you...
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)00:12 No.13561289
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    "I thought I asked you get a few things?" you think mildly in her direction.

    "Azaladon!" she says, giving the mental equivalent of a jump, "I couldn't contact you. Or teleport into the palace, something blocks it. I was coming to deliver them directly. And worried that something had happened."

    "I see..." you reply levelly. "You can't teleport here?" you ask. A short exchange verifies that she can't teleport into it, around it, or, in fact, closer than the outer curtain wall. You offer a work around.

    "There is a summoning circle inside, I'm standing next to it. Golden, inside this workshop. The northern corner." you relate, focusing on transmitting an image of the circle. "Can you go through it?"

    "I... If you open it from your end." Scinnari says. You channel some power into it, sealing it off and securing it as an exception against the teleportation lock on the rest of the building. Scinnari gives Asha instructions to head back to the guild houses and continue the search. A moment later, she appears in the circle in front of you.

    "So kind of you to drop in." you greet, offering your hand. your gesture breaks the magical barrier, and she accept your hand, stepping out of the circle.

    "I would hardly refuse an invitation from you. What have you found?"

    "That you were right, regarding demonic manipulation behind the war, among other things. What tipped you off?"

    "General suspicion- demons love conflict, and take pleasure in changing the status quo. Often, they're behind at least one, if not more, sides in any war." Scinnari explains. You suspect she may be over stating the frequency, but she seems to be convinced. You fill her in on what else you've found. As expected, she does seem interested in hunting the succubus down, conflicted only with her interests in determining who and what is responsible for the mass-reanimation of the dead.

    [You have what you sent for, what now?]
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:18 No.13561348
    Spy on the Succubus a bit more, then if she's enough of a threat, stash the belt somewhere safe enough, then jump her with Cygnis and Asha.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:18 No.13561352
    Pay the succubus a visit?
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:19 No.13561368
    You mean Scinnari, Cygnis isn't with us.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:20 No.13561375
    Crystal the Sultan, but do not kill him. If he dies it's possible the succubus will be freed.

    Before we kill him go back down to the central chamber and let Scinnari see the woman.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:23 No.13561425
    We are now likely close enough to the Sultan and the woman to ask the Spinel Sage questions which involve them. I say we find out what they did to necro-nuke the city before moving out. Also discover what their plans are and the true nature of the woman.

    Also, that summoning circle... we should steal it. Shrink Item might work, maybe?
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:25 No.13561460
    If we brought a way to shrink it down I would love to. We already have one summoning circle, but a second can't hurt.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:29 No.13561509
    Yeah. I herrped the derp right there. Maybe we should consult the crystal if we have it. Though if we do, be careful of how we word our questions.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)00:49 No.13561794
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    "Crystal. Can you tell me what this man knows?" you ask. Sannek lies on his bed, asleep and oblivious. For good measure, Scinnari has acquired a crossbow, which she is pointing at him from the foot of the bed.

    "Easily." the crystal replies, reliable in it's partial-answers. It's 'voice' is louder than you'd like, but doesn't wake Sannek.

    "What happened to Nsaanav?"

    "He... happens to be dreaming of her. When his eyes were finally opened, metaphorically, he decided he wasn't powerful enough to destroy her, but could bind her to this plane, and did so. He then cast her out." the crystal rings out. A brief pause, then, "I believe he probably could have, he just couldn't bring himself to do it. Very foolish, to love a demon. Immortals generally don't reciprocate."

    "Taken under advisement." you reply shortly, "Who is the woman below?"

    "An elven wizard named Luthessa holds court below. She is a vassal to someone else, the one for whom Sannek used the artifact." the crystal chimes.

    "Used what artifact to do what?" Scinnari asks, and to your surprise, the crystal answers.

    "Sannek believes it to be a relic of the same empire that left the Roads Tashz is famed for. It apparently... According to what he understands and has been told, it can be used to reanimate all who died of violent deaths, within a fairly large radius. Not only that, but it will keep them animated and enslaved."
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)00:49 No.13561808
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    "And why did he use it?" you ask, noting the development.

    "He.... I cannot answer at this- Remand that. He was imprisoned by the Rhasverian conquerors when he surrendered to them and.... warned them of the Nsaanav. He was approached in prison by members of an organization who offered him the city again if he would assist them. What they required assistance with was the activation of an artifact they had found." the crystal rings out. It's explanation ends feeling not quite complete.

    "I see." you whisper to yourself. "And this organization?"

    "Luthessa is the commanding individual as far as he knows. She.... reports to someone else. He suspects that someone to be neither human nor elven. Quite possibly the black dragon you suspect." it informs. "The total exhumation of the city did not surprise her, so it was likely her desired intent."

    "What are the specifics of the artifact?" you ask, partially reiterating Scinnari's earlier question.

    "It animates vast amounts of dead, those who died violent deaths. How recent determines how powerful, along with a few other details... There was choice over who was animated as a vampire, for instance. The more recent, generally the more powerfull... He has suspicions the war has been engineered just to offer such a rich area up to the artifact. Correction: He /wishes/ he could have suspicions to that effect, but knows all too well that he is the only one responsible for it." the artifact replies, taking on a slightly self-satisfied tone.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)00:51 No.13561830
    Kill it with fire.
    There is no other choice.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:07 No.13562072
    Okay, let's either destroy the artifact or as others suggested stick it in the summoning circle and make it a sacrifice to Tiamat or give it to cultists of the Binder to curry favor there. She'd love a greater artifact like this.

    But bear in mind, the black dragon could well have engineered this entire war to gain this artifact for himself.

    I say we probe the Sultan's mind to try and find out where the demon went. We can track her down and let Scinnari kill her.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:10 No.13562121
    Get the location of the artifact.

    Find out what happens to all the undead if the artifact's current controller is killed, and if someone new takes control of it afterward.

    Find out what defenses and capabilities Luthessa has.

    Find out what he knows of her/her patron's short-term and long-term plans for this place.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:14 No.13562168
    Can we get this artifact and take it with us? Yeah, it's dangerous, but better that we have control over it than have it drifting around. Destroying it is another option, but sounds a bit wasteful.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:14 No.13562182
    Oh! See if the Sage can read the mind of the elf lady. It's an artifact, that's epic magic level shit. It should be able to blaze right through anything obscuring her mind like a Mind Blank spell and tell us who is behind this.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:15 No.13562209
    it already did the elf is a pawn. she does not know her masters true identity.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:26 No.13562367
    Alright, consensus in IRC seems to be that we check out what Tiamat would be willing to give us in exchange for this thing.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:27 No.13562389
    Sacrifice it to Tiamat. If she doesn't want it, then we destroy it. Holding onto something like this can only end in tears. Manly dragon tears, but tears nonetheless.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)01:40 No.13562565
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    "Does he know where the artifact is?" you ask.

    "Not in the slightest. Luthessa has taken it back, and it has disappeared to wherever it came from. As far as he knows." the crystal chimes.

    "Hmm..." Scinnari says, mulling over the information. "Is it necessary for the artifact- If the user loses the artifact, what happens to the undead?"

    This time the crystal ignores her, refusing to answer. You repeat the question, and it acknowledges you.

    "He thinks that the lesser dead would perish, unless their controller invested effort in keeping them 'unlive'. The one with minds, or fragments thereof, would persist on their own will. Liches, vampires, ghosts, and ghouls would likely survive. Shades, specters, wraiths, zombies, and skeletons would not, unless someone wanted them to. Essentially, the answer is no, a necromancer doesn't need the artifact after it has been used. The hardest part of necromancy is in the reanimation, after all. A wizard can sustain more than they can raise on their own, generally." the crystal says, the unusually lengthy explanation sounding like a bell tower.

    "And it has created liches?" Scinnari interjects, surprised.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)01:41 No.13562575
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    "Not that he is aware of. As far as Luthessa knows, it can't create them. However, due to his knowledge of abjuration and summoning, he thinks it could be amplified to do so, via ritual. He has not worked out the specifics, but plans to negotiate for his life with the possibility, should he find it necessary."

    "What does he know about Luthessa's capabilities? you ask, wondering whether there is any rhyme or reason to whether or not it responds to Scinnari.

    "She keeps the bodies in that room as extra guards, should she need them. She has a predilection for necromancy, obviously. He has seen her cast some fairly potent spells, and she has a sound backing in necromantic theory. He suspects her master to be a lich. He also is of the opinion that her respect for her master is more 'worshipful' or 'fanatical' than merely 'superior' or 'teacher'. To say nothing of his baser suspicions."

    "Which are?" Scinnari asks with interest, but the crystal spurns her.

    "And can it be destroyed or unmade?" you ask, more devoted to the matter at hand.

    "Indubitably, but he doesn't know how." the artifact answers. Wonderful.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:44 No.13562622
    Now, let us head down to the main chamber, invisibly, and see if we can pry some secrets from the elf's mind with the crystal.

    Sounds more and more like it's the black as her master.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:51 No.13562741
    Modification to this, please:

    Take the crystal near her so that it can get a read on her mind, but don't talk to it anywhere which might be remotely within earshot.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:54 No.13562792
    Is anyone else REALLY worried about how the crystal has decided to start answering Scinnari? I mean, not reliably, but, well, she's a devil. While she might really love us (or think she does,) and really want an empire on the Prime, I'm certain she'd leap at the chance to reverse the currently assigned roles. If it starts answering questions for her about us.... Eeek. I reference the image name from >>13560838 ., that would be a bad thing.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)01:57 No.13562832
    Well yeah, I imagine it's doing it to either sow discord or does so when it advances the Binder's agenda.

    Regardless, we could stand to keep this thing under lock and key. Also, we've spent 15 years with it in our hoard and Scinnari knowing what it is. If she was going to question it about us then... well, it has already happened.

    Also, what would the crystal tell her that she doesn't already know? She's privy to almost everything we've done so far.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:01 No.13562884
    When we are next alone we should ask the Crystal about that. I'm curious.

    We could also stand to pull on our own inquiries with regards to Scinnari's past. We've had spies out searching for leads on that for the past decade and a half, surely we know something by now.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)02:15 No.13563048
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    "So then... Let us try something." you whisper aloud, leaving Sannek's room. Scinnari follows you, and you signal her to use the emerald before casting invisibility upon yourself. Some negotiation of the different routes of the palace, and the servant's quarters, leads you to an open door into the foyer. You are faced with an unpleasant sight: the rotted vampire who reported to Sannek and Luthessa earlier has had his skeletons take positions in the doorway. You can't get out through them. Worrisome.

    Leading further inward, you pass through the massively arched doors, and enter the main dome. Luthessa sits at her table, reading or studying from a book. You walk up silently, loop around her, crystal held out, and exit the way you arrived. Once safely away, (hiding in the secret passage to Sannek's lab,), you drop your invisibility and begin the interrogation. You are pre-empted, though.

    "She knows you're here." the crystal rings, it's chimes taking on a conversational tone.

    "What?" Scinnari asks. "Explain!"

    "Not /you/ per-se, but she knows that a mage of some sort, under the guise of invisibility, has made his way here. She believes she has him penned in the palace, and is waiting to make sure she has the appropriate spells prepared before she confronts you. And she believes her master may return some time tonight." the crystal says.

    "Her master. What is he?" you demand.

    "A black dragon, as you suspected. She expects him sometime before midnight. It's also why she dismissed Sannek."

    "We should leave-" Scinnari begins, but you interrupt.

    "And the artifact?"

    "Returned to her master. She doesn't know where it is. She is faithful that should it become necessary, he will produce it again.". The crystal sounds almost satisfied to hear the faint fear in Scinnari's voice.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:17 No.13563076
    Well, that could have gone better.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:23 No.13563161
    Well, looks like it's time to leave, then. She doesn't have the artifact and we won't be catching her off guard. Let's blast out (or just open) a window, then fly the hell away (quickly) while invisible. Once we get out of the dampening field teleport away to Asha, then a second teleport to join our fleet again.

    Ask the artifact what and where the most valuable item that we could grab on the way out is. As long as we're leaving anyway and they know about us, heh...
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:25 No.13563182
    Well, yeah, but due to the fact that it's in our hoard, it's knows what we're currently planning. She could be using it against us in that manner CONSTANTLY, keeping herself up to date on our thoughts, intentions, and so on. Example, she could have found out that we are attempting to research her origins, waited until we'd sent them out, and then intercepted and killed them. She could be waiting until we plan to betray her (she doesn't KNOW we don't,) or using it to get warning, kill us before we learn her true name.

    It offers her REALLY sensitive information, scooped right from our mind, and up-to-date, as well. I don't like it. I think we should see if we can order it not to answer any of her questions, or order her not to use it.

    Or something. I mean, God (or goddess, in our case,) this is dangerous.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:27 No.13563220
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    how much does she know about us? i don't like the idea of giving the enemy more information than is necessary. if we run or if we kill the black dragon will know someone is meddling in her business.

    we could ambush her but i don't think we are gaining much for it.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:28 No.13563232
    We should really just ask the Spinel for Scinnari's true name and history at some point.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:33 No.13563285
    Go upstairs, kill the Sultan, teleport away. Use the summoning circle again if need be.

    Then have Scinnari catch Asha and bring her back. We don't want her getting interrogated.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:37 No.13563325
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    Would she know her own?
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:46 No.13563403
    If we could just kill the dragon she works for and worships, we don't really have to worry about her, do we?

    I suggest just flying the coop, they only know someone was here stealing things, and killing any of them will just get more attention looking for us. Maybe we can manage to pick out that summoning circle though? It was pretty nice.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)02:46 No.13563404
    When we are alone again we should ask the crystal if Scinnari has ever asked it questions about us, and if so what they were.

    Then ask if it answered them, and if so what said answers were.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)03:09 No.13563580
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    "And how, specifically, did she find out we were here?" you ask, intent on this one last detail before you reach a verdict.

    "One of the vampires leading a patrol hadn't been buried, and had died with a magical ring on." the crystal answers. "It allowed him to see you, and he played along to Luthessa's orders well. She hasn't seen you." the crystal answers.

    "Fine. Scinnari." you say, handing her the crystal. "We're going."

    "As you wish. How do you intend to leave? I can't raise the circle for you..." Scinnari replies, unperturbed.

    "Roof. Come one." you reply shortly, climbing the ladder you'd noticed on the far side of the room. The trapdoor is shut, but you wrest it open, and climb out.

    "Why... Sannek... You return to me at last." a voice says behind you. You spin. Judging by the leather wings, the succubus, Nsaanav, stands before you. Staring sightlessly through you, of course, as you are invisible. "Drop your guise, return to me. I can be... understanding. In the end, I am what you desire, am I not?"

    "How did you know?" you reply, your best imitation of Sannek's voice. Buying for time, as you scan the skies for black wings, and playing for information, while she thinks she knows you.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)03:10 No.13563584
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    "Why, I heard you return to your lab, of course. Or do you mean-" her voice becomes more husky, sensual. Hungry. What she was about to say, though, you don't find out. She isn't revealed, but you have no doubt who is responsible as the demon's jugular is torn apart, erupting in blood and gore. You jump back, out of the way.

    "Done. Thank you for the distraction." Scinnari purrs, "All the sweeter, as Sannek ensured her destruction."

    "I was attempting to get information from her." you reply irately, "Kindly hold off while there is still potential gain from a conversation."

    "She was a /demon/. You would have received nothing worth having, and not trusted what you got. There was no benefit to your speaking. Demons only deal in lies and stupidity." Scinnari says, sounding mildly affronted.

    "We'll discuss this later." you growl. "Go get Asha; we're getting out of the city before Luthessa's master returns."

    "Of course, my lord." Scinnari replies, nodding. You can't see her, but you feel her spread her wings and take flight.

    [It's getting late, and I need to halt. This seems a decent place. Any suggestions for what to do once we return home? Incidentally, the retcons I mentioned in my OP will apparently be waiting until next thread.]
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)03:18 No.13563658
    Things to do.

    Grab that mirror and the summoning circle if we can carry it. Get them outside of the teleportation damping field, and teleport back home with them and your bag. Drop off everything, then use your ring to track Scinnari; after she meets up with Asha, teleport over to the pair of them and use your newly-empty bag to grab whatever items or documents they've located and consider useful. This should maximize our loot gains.

    Then return either to the fleet or home directly, at our whim. Avoid engaging anyone in battle, regardless.
    >> Writer-dude !vf05RX1JTQ 01/18/11(Tue)03:20 No.13563680
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    Alright. I need to get some sleep. Next day is likely to be Wednesday, Saturday, or Sunday. Sunday for certain, the other two probable. ('Certain', of course, being 'Barring unforeseen emergencies'.)

    Will be checking this thread before I start the new one, and you've got my email...
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)03:22 No.13563697
    Hey, DQ is back.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)03:24 No.13563711
    >When we are alone again we should ask the crystal if Scinnari has ever asked it questions about us, and if so what they were. Then ask if it answered them, and if so what said answers were.
    Do this.

    >Hide the crystal somewhere secret under lock and key. And alarm.
    And this.

    >Check up on our informants who have been looking for Scinnari's past.

    >Send a letter about the artifact to the nearest virulently anti-undead organization.
    Sounds good.

    And maybe tell Scinnari to wait next time. Inform her that we fully intended to let her kill the succubus, but we would have liked to compare her lies to the crystal's lies before she died.

    Speaking of which, the crystal now knows everything she did. We should ask it about any plans she might have had regarding the artifact, or if she knew anything about the dragon. Oh, and ask if the elven wizardess knew where the black's lair was.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)03:53 No.13563928
    >Send a letter about the artifact to the nearest virulently anti-undead organization.
    More details on this: Make sure it's a group which will remember our aid- we're looking for a favor which we might be able to call in later. Take credit as sorcerer-king of Mza, explain our distaste for the undead in general and that as part of our vast body of knowledge we have heard tell of an artifact which (does what happened here) and have confirmed that it was indeed what was used. Get a description of the artifact and a name for it if possible from the Spinel Sage. Explain the different types of undead, the likely measure and methods of control that we know of (or saw), and the possibility of its happening again. Ideally, we will give them everything that they need for a bunch of high-level crusader paladins or something to deal with this problem and take it completely off our hands.

    Back at home, have our new ships gone over carefully and repeatedly for any sign of the undead, just in case. Then have them carefully set to rights and deployed in our navy/merchant fleet, as appropriate, under captains of as much competence and loyalty as we can reasonably locate.

    Sort through the books that we got in somewhat more detail. Presumably they're all somewhat useful or interesting, but we'll likely want to focus our studies. And we probably have a decent magical library already, all things considered; some books are likely to be far more helpful than others.

    If possible, get Scinnari's true name from the Spinel Sage.

    Use our new scrying mirror to keep a sharp eye on the situation in Azar in the days to come, and have our forces keep on their toes. Not really expecting the undead to come boiling forth in a black tide and slaughter everything, but just in case keep a sharp eye out.

    Following these fairly immediate matters, I believe we had been invited to go meet a certain red dragon? Unless something comes up I would make that our next order of business.
    >> Anonymous 01/18/11(Tue)10:50 No.13566596
    >ask for Scinnari's true name
    About this: while it does not hurt to ask we should not ever use it. In fact, I would rather not ask the crystal due to its tendency towards discord. We should try to find out some other way IMO.

    We should also ask why it has suddenly started answering her too.

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