Volacrast...erupted

Raen's Night Out in Phaeda
Keeping Promises

She watched as her friends walked away for a night of revelry and bar hopping. She would have loved to join them, but she had promises to keep. So, instead, she stepped into the shadows and disappeared readying to make her way to The Blue Lady and her contact there, Nimble.

Walking in, she found the place had a large crowd for the night. A talented bard played on the stage and there was a general hubbub and energy to the place tonight. She searched the room for the halfling she had met there before and eventually saw him sitting and talking business with someone. Not wanting to interrupt, she simply ordered a pint for Nimble and sent it to him with her compliments. A few minutes later, when the drink arrived, he looked across the room and gave her a mug-handed salute of thanks and acknowledgement. After this initial contact had been made, she then turned her attention to the focus on the game happening in the room. She walked over to see that a high stakes card game was in progress. The pot was tremendous with coins, gems, a very pretty dagger, and other items that looked high in value. The hand had but two players left, and it appeared that everyone else at the table was busted. She observed as the haughty dwarf took the hand and the human with the two body guards amiably lost. Noting the players’ names and their plans to meet again the next month, she felt a small tap…tap…tap at her hip. She turned to see Nimble motioning to her that he was ready to speak.

They spoke addressing the issue at hand and plans were made that she would meet him at the given location at midnight. Okay, she thought, that’s started. Now, what do I do for the next several hours? She hadn’t eaten and decided to work on the other promise she had made while she waited for time to pass.

She returned to the guild headquarters to grab a bite and noted when Thestia came in for her own meal. She allowed the guild head of Phaeda to enjoy her meal for a while before approaching her and asking if any clerics were currently present. To her slight disappointment, she found that there were none. She also learned that Wilna, the cleric that had come along with Thestia to help her party once they were out of the cursed manor was not actually a Windsword. She then asked for guidance to where she might find a cleric, particularly of Lyndis, her mother’s own diety and a god of knowledge. Thestia explained there was a small temple in town where she would find a place to find a priest of Lyndis.

She made her way to the temple and spoke with the old elf within. She found that he did, of course, seem very knowledgeable about things. She got a gut feeling in her short time with him that he may have even known more about her in particular than, perhaps, she felt comfortable with. However, she also felt this was a wise man and that he would not speak of what he knew of her or her purpose. He was, however, unable to give her the answer she was seeking about her current feelings of “being off” that she had promised Arthion she would talk to someone about. He did direct her to the Temple of Yarea and told her there was a young and very talented healer within named Wilna and that she may be able to determine if she did have some negative effects still on her from her encounters with the undead. She thanked him, and left a sizeable tithe to the temple in hopes for a bright future for the old man, Taranath, and the hopes that he had to someday expand the size of the building for the worshipers of Lyndis within Phaeda. She then left to seek out the young healer of Yarea.

It was a large, beautiful building of stone and brick with lovely stained glass windows and large, oak double doors. She went inside and asked if Wilna were available. She was not shocked to find out that this was indeed the very Wilna that she had met earlier in the day once they had escaped the manor in the swamp. The healer was concerned that she may have missed something as Raen began to talk to her.

As she left the temple she felt numb from the diagnosis that she had received from Wilna. She found a nice, quiet place to meditate on past events and what her future might now possibly hold. The news of what was wrong with her had shaken her to her core. How could she ever tell Arthion and the others that she may not be able to stay with them much longer. How would they take the news of what Wilna had told her?

She was certain, however, that the healer had been correct, so now Raen was left to deal with the reality of her situation and the sweet, bitter, irony of her fate. Family, Wilna had told her. Family is usually a great strength to turn to when news like this is given to an individual. Family may help in this situation to ease her as her condition progressed, but her family was so far away. Would she want to bring such a burden to them? What of her Arthion and Arillion? Were they not now nearly family to her? How would she tell them? Would they too fear what was to come next? Would they support her in knowing what was to come? Could she return home to her own family? She sighed deep and collected herself. No matter how much time she had before…., she was going to focus on her duty. That meant that at this moment she needed to shove this into a different corner of her mind for now. She still had business to deal with tonight, and it was getting very late.

She disappeared into the shadows of the streets once more and made her way to the place that had been indicated by Nimble. What she found there was an old building with boarded windows and no one around. She looked for further messages that may have been left for her, but finding none, she decided to enter the building a bit more discretely. She walked along the street and just before she was to duck into one of the small spaces between buildings to head for the alley that ran behind them, she noticed that one of the city guards had caught sight of her in his vigilance. She moved on and further down the street before she dodged unnoticed between two of the buildings. She squeezed and maneuvered her way between them and into the alley. She then backtracked to the building she had initially been guided to, and began to search for signs or instructions on this, the alley side of the building. Not finding anything, she thought perhaps she should try the roof. Silent as a feather on the wind she ascended the awning over the back door and slid onto the roof making sure to keep a low profile. The last thing she wanted was to be spotted as an outline on the rooftops. Searching again she found no direction as to what she should do, so she dropped like a whisper back down to the awning and then the ground.

Deciding that perhaps she should go inside, she inspected the area around the alley door for traps or warnings. It was then that she spotted that there was an ever so small cut out in the wooden slats beneath her. She easily pried up the panel and saw beneath it a metal plate. Observant all the while for traps, she slid the panel to the side and uncovered an opening leading straight down, far down, probably a good fifty feet, and that there were small cut outs along the side to use as foot and hand holds. Quietly as she could, she descended and replaced the cut out and panel before climbing down the access tunnel. “Well,” she thought, “it appears perhaps my trial has already begun.”

As she lowered herself onto the floor of the passage she had a strange feeling pass over her. She shook it off and continued down the narrow corridor in the only direction available to her. She eventually came to a T intersection and not finding any guidance as to which way to go, she followed a gut feeling and took a right. She felt even more that this was her trial and not knowing what was ahead of her, she decided that perhaps, the time had come for her to stack the deck in her favor as much as possible. She pulled out one of the potions that had been given to her what seemed so long ago and drank it. Instilled with a sense of calm and confidence, she continued on.

She traversed the labyrinth of passages for what seemed like hours. Sometimes coming to dead ends and having to double back. Methodically, though she continued through and eventually came to what appeared to be a large store room with no apparent exits. Bags, crates, and barrels were all over this room all marked with the same mark of the building she had originally come to. She did notice that this room seemed unusually clean for being so far below ground; so clean she could not discern any footprints or signs of passage. Once again methodically looking for traps, messages, or signs of an overlooked door or passage she made her way through the room. Eventually, she came to a large barrel. She tried to move it aside to look behind, however, it refused to budge. Finding this interesting, she pried the top off to reveal another vertical tunnel leading down what had to be a hundred feet. Focusing on the energy within herself that she had been learning to harness, she called up a minor illusion of a small, dimly glowing ball of light and inspected the walls for traps or runes as she moved farther down into this puzzling place.

She stepped into yet another passage and continued to explore. As she came to another T intersection she was looking closely once more for signs, directions, runes, etc. What she found was the very well hidden outline in the stone wall. After inspecting it, she pushed against it and to her delight it moved very slightly. She regathered her efforts and pushed with nearly all the effort she could muster. “That is one very heavy, thick door!” She thought to herself looking back at the stone section of the wall, over a foot thick, she had just managed to push back in its grooves. Then as she looked at it, of its own accord it moved back forward sealing her in. For a slight moment her heart fluttered in panic at the thought of being sealed in down here below ground so far from her trees and beloved sunlight. Just as quickly the thoughts passed as she spied a lever next to the door. A way back out, good! She might need that.

She walked on a short bit before hearing the very soft sounds of breathing behind her and she knew she was no longer alone. She readied herself to strike the unseen follower, and just before she turned to make a strike, she felt a tap…tap…tap on her hip. She spun around to find, of course, Nimble standing there before her. “You’re a bit lost aren’t ya?” He grinned.

He took the lead, and they shortly came to a room where there were people patiently waiting. Sitting in shadows at a large desk on a small raised platform was what Raen was sure to be a woman. On either side of the desk stood two equally shadowed figures, one lithe and tall, the other much brawnier looking. Behind the woman at the desk, on the wall was a large black banner with a single icon of a red dagger pointing down. It seemed Raen had finally made it to the desk of one of the leaders of the Red Daggers.

Hours later she emerged from her meeting with the Red Daggers. Tired and anxious. Now the other thoughts started coming back to her mind. She looked at the stars and at Godrith looming over her. She figured it was nearly 4am. If she was to get rest, she should go to the guildhall. Maybe she would be lucky and the rest of the party would still be out drinking or perhaps they passed out in their beds early. But was she ready to face them? Not sure where she was heading, Raen once more stepped into the shadows, disappearing as she walked off into the night.

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Interlude: With Arthion & Raen featuring Arillian
Week off in the Guild Headquarters

For those interested in knowing how Arthion and Raen’s interlude concluded, off screen the players met along with Arillian to determine some timing issues and reactionary responses.

It appears that after sitting by the fireside in the conference room comforting Raen in her moments of feeling somewhat homesick, lost, and lonely, Arthion held her within his arms and when she raised her head with tears running down her cheek, he became concerned. Feeling embarrassed at the show of weakness, Raen began to rise to excuse herself. As she began to pull away, Arthion gently pulled back against her with a whisper of, “Raen?,” a look of concern, compassion, and something else within his eyes.
She didn’t want to take advantage of him as she could tell he had taken a bit more to drink than usual, but then she saw clearly into what that something else was. Arthion had love in his eyes. She was confused and relieved at the same time, for it seemed what had started as a convenient cover for them to share as a guise for their time together to train him in the rogueish arts, had somehow rooted a real feeling within Arthion. She didn’t want to mislead or deceive him. She simply looked deep into his eyes and asked if he would allow them to wait for words in the morning and agree to grant her solace in his arms that night.

They retired to Arthion and Arillian’s room which was empty, locked the door and shared a night of sanctuary and passion with each other.

Arillian, upon finally returning to his room from the library to find the door locked, was slightly confused, but then listened in the room and could hear soft whispers and rustlings. He could tell it was Arthion inside, but did not know who his roommate had brought to his bed. With a smile of approval, Arillian left his roommate be, and found a spare bed in Thakorn’s room.

In the morning, Raen and Arthion spoke with each other. He appeared happy and made no excuse for the night before. Raen was somewhat more reserved, but appeared to be content from their night together. They discussed how they would handle the consummation of this relationship with the others and those around them. Raen felt sure the others would figure it out and they needn’t make an anouncement or show of it. If anyone asked they could simply say they were exploring the nature of their relationship.

Raen expressed concerns that it was possible that her people may not look kindly on her fostering a relationship. She was very honest with Arthion that she had a duty and a mission for her people that she could not throw aside. She also spoke frankly that she would most likely never be able to share everything with him, but placing her hands on either side of his face and looking directly into his eyes, she boldly stated, that what she does and what her mission is holds great weight and it serves to protect everyone, not just her people, but the entire world, from harm. She awaited his response to the fact that there would ever be secrets between them if they pursued a relationship; she prepared herself for a courteous, but kind withdrawal from her new lover. Instead, he confirmed that he could trust in her enough that he could live with the unsaid things between them. He mentioned her home, and she grew quiet and sad for a moment in non-response. He realized that this was a token of what she couldn’t talk about.

“I’ll most likely never see it, will I?” he asked.
She could only softly shake her said and respond with a soft, “No.”

Seeing that he was fully accepting of this, whether he understood fully what it meant, Raen teared up again, this time in joy as she kissed him gently on the mouth. Their kiss turned more passionate and they again joined as one in their new, blossoming love.

When they showed up to breakfast together, Arthion with a face of joy and Raen with a blush-tinged glow, Arillian knew at once who had been with Arthion in their room last night. He was glad that Arthion had found a moment of pleasure and as he left from the breakfast room passing behind the couple, he quipped that he hoped they had enjoyed themselves last night.

Later on, Arillian pulled Arthion aside for a discussion. After confirming what had happened and receiving Arthion’s almost astonishment at what had occurred with a half-spoken, “….I…..I never thought…” Arillian stated his happiness for his friend, but then began to speak frankly to Arthion about the implications this may have for their party. He was quite forthright in that it was something that he prayed would not become a detriment to the group. He was concerned about a possible distraction or neglect of duty at the wrong time being dangerous. Arthion assured him that Raen and he would take every measure that the couple’s state would not hinder or endanger the group.

Raen had shown up at Arthion’s room before dinner to speak with him. She seemed honestly bothered by what she was about to say, but continued on. She shared with him that she was receiving some new training of her own and that through this training she was in part fulfilling her mission. She became even more reserved and bowed her head as she gently spoke to Arthion. She brought up the magic dagger that he had gotten after one of their battles. Afraid she would be perceived as taking advantage of their situation she softly continued on. She explained that with what she was learning there would soon be a time when her shortsword would no longer be ideal to her needs. Haltingly, she continued that daggers would be instrumental to her, and almost pained she pointed out that she had yet to see him use his. It was clear that she was asking for his dagger, but she was fighting with herself over even bringing it up. She said she had little to trade for it, some potions or she could swap her own for his as to not leave him fully unguarded. He simply walked to the dresser and unlocked the drawer pulling out the item.

He looked at Raen seeing that it pained her that she didn’t have more to offer, and knowing that she didn’t want to take advantage of him. He sat next to her and said perhaps there was something she could help him with in return. This snagged Raen’s attention and she waited patiently for him to continue. He expressed that perhaps she could speak with Daggerwing about his mother to see if she had any ideas on where she might be or what she might be up to. With that Raen got a strange smirk on her face. She agreed that they could indeed see if Daggerwing had any information for him, but what she said next fully caught Arthion by surprise. She stumbled slightly over the words in some small feeling of guilt, but told Arthion that there were other sources that she had already reached out to for the whereabouts and doings of his mother. When he had first shared with her his story and his fears about his mother, she had sent in the inquiry along with her report to her people back home. She said that she did not know when or if they would respond or even if they would know anything, but that it had seemed important enough worth mentioning, and so she had already moved to seek knowledge on the woman. Arthion was taken aback a bit, but appeared truly happy that Raen had judged his own interests as something that might be very important indeed. He gave her a great hug, and then added that there might be something else that she could help him with in exchange for the dagger. He said that he desired a large pearl that he would find useful after he had completed his own training. It should be worth at least 100gp. She laughed. Easy enough. She could definitely keep an eye out for such an item. The laughed turned wistful as she softly said, too bad we’re not back home. The thought of a pearl leaves me in mind of the shores of our land, which I am certain would hold that type of treasure within its waters. At that, Arthion took her hands and softly laid the dagger in them, gently placed her hands around it, and lovingly cupped his own over hers.

It was shortly after when Arillian arrived at the quarters himself. The couple got a small razzing from Arillian as he began to change his shirt before going to dinner. It was when he was standing with his back to the couple that Raen looked upon Arillian’s bared torso for the first time. She was taken aback at how the dragon scales that had started to appear on both of them were dramatically similar in color, shape, and pattern. She gave a nudge to Arthion and directed his gaze toward Arillian. Arthion gave her a sheepish nod as Arillian turned to continued their conversation.

Being a gentleman, Arillian inquired if they needed to change the rooming arrangements. Arthion paused at that and looked to Raen. Deciding for the time being to leave things as they were, the three did work out a code to let Arillian know if the room was being “used.”

Once again Raen became somewhat sheepish and asked Arillian about his own magic dagger, the twin to the one she had just received. After some discussion, Arillian agreed to hand it to her, but in return she was required to lobby for him to receive one magic item of his choice should they come across something that interested him. Cautiously, Raen agreed with the stipulation that she would not assist him to retain an item that was inherently evil or would pose a threat to him or to the group. They agree that items are as a whole only as good or evil as their owner, but that there are indeed dangerous items abroad. So it was agreed upon that as long as proper identification of the item showed it to be safe to wield that she would indeed support him receiving the item of his choice. After that, Arillian left for dinner with the couple stating they would be there shortly. He gave them a knowing grin and left the room.

Arthion looked to Raen not knowing for sure what her purpose was, but when he looked at her he could see she was all business. “Your markings. You two could pass as twins. When are you going to talk to him?”

Arthion hestitated, and said that he was concerned about what would happen if he breeched the subject with Arillian. She stared at him and stated that it needed to be soon, and here, in a safe place, where he had time to contemplate what they had to discuss if Arthion was truly concerned by Arillian’s reaction. She inquired if Arthion was concerned about his own safety as well as that of Arillian’s. The answer boiled down to both. Raen offered to be with them when they spoke, if Arthion desired it. He committed to speak with Arillian that evening after dinner. Raen asked again, “Do you want me to be with you? If you want me here, I’m here. If you want me near, I’ll be near. If you want me far away, I’ll be near.” Arthion said that indeed, he would appreciated it if Raen was near when his talk with Arillian started. To which she said, “Done. Tonight, after dinner.”

We await to see what topic could have Arthion so on edge and to see what the dwarves will make of the new group dynamic once they come up from drinking.

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