Midnight RPG - Chapter 16.28

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Andrew / Durgaz[edit]

[This scene takes place the evening of the departure from the Spire. The two groups parted ways several hours ago; Eranon and Shadaar went north, to try and capture the horses, and Durgaz and Kyuad were to travel a short distance to the southeast, set up camp and wait for them to catch up. This scene takes place at that campsite, somewhere in the woods between the Spire and Vrolk's camp. It's dark, but there is no fire ... just the light-stone, dimmed under a piece of fabric, which Kyuad is using to read by.]

Durgaz: "We need to decide what to do about the Sarcosan."

"I believe his intentions are probably for the best, and his goals are probably in line with ours. I also believe he is arrogant, stupid, reckless and ignorant, and that his stupidity will get all of us killed, or worse, if something is not done."

"I have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt whenever I could. I am done with that. I don't know what the hell he thinks he is doing, and I am tired of trying to care."

"Let's give him more credit than he deserves, and take his word that he is trying to play some sort of political game with the legates in the Spire. Idiocy. Blind, reckless, dangerous idiocy. This is not a time for games. This is not a time to indulge some sort of pathetic hunger for influence and control; he should have left that in Sarcosa, in the gilded cells of the idle rich."

"We could lose every advantage we have to this. If he were captured, I have no doubt that he would squeal everything he knew before hot iron ever touched his skin. Even if he didn't, his corpse could tell the right type of person everything he knows about us, our plans, and what we have discovered. And our best-case scenario is ... what? What can he possibly gain from this that would serve our interests? I can't think of anything. We have tried, time and time again, to teach this bloated, loudmouthed fool how to shut up and keep his head down, and he has refused to learn. I am finished trying."

"Why do we put up with this? Why do we let this idiot endanger us with his incompetence? Why do we stand idly by while his utter weakness and lack of conviction lead him further and further down the road into darkness? I don't know what sort of dark powers he is toying with, but from what you tell me, it is not something we can safely ignore. I am sure, despite his promises to the contrary, that he would happily enslave any of us with his magic if he thought his life or his goals were in danger. Why are we sitting around waiting for that day to arrive?"

"I have been thinking, and I have not been fair to ... the other one. The human, whose name I cannot remember, who died and became Fell, but has not yet succumbed to his curse. If you say you can help him, I believe you. He does not seem to wish us harm, and he cannot help what he is. I will give him a chance."

"But the Sarcosan makes his own choices, and time and time again he makes the wrong ones. If his life and goals were the only thing at stake, it would not be my place to prevent him from dying by his own foolishness. But now he endangers all of us, and yes, I have a problem with that."

Andrew: This is really frustrating to me. I really like Adam as a player. Truthfully, I really like Zal'Kazzir as a character. But I'm also really starting to get tired of rationalizing why in the world the other PCs are putting up with his crap.

OOC, I totally get it. Adam's been waiting a long time for an opportunity to put his social skills to the test and play the Diplomacy game, and when this opportunity came along, he jumped on it. That's understandable, but this was an awful place to do that. Moreover, it's not like he didn't have a choice: he deliberately stuck around for several minutes while Eranon ran for cover, waiting to the legate to arrive; and when she did, he seemed to have no clear goals in mind; he just wanted to charm someone. I'd draw comparisons to a hypothetical situation in which the campaign took us to Sharuun at some point, and in the middle of whatever delicate political maneuvering was going on, I started taking unnecessary opportunities to get Durgaz involved in combat. That would almost certainly either a) blow the plan, or b) require some real fancy footwork on the part of the rest of the players and/or the GM. Which is why I wouldn't do it.

I don't want characters in serious conflict, because it's too fine a line between that and players in conflict. But I'm running out of ideas here. Zal'Kazzir basically blew all the goodwill he had accumlated over the last ten sessions in one fell swoop by doing something monumentally stupid that makes him look like a traitor, at worst, or a complete jackass, at best. If Kyuad (or someone else ... I don't want to lay all this on your shoulders, Bill) can come up with a compelling argument why this is OK, Durgaz will listen to him, albeit begrudgingly. Otherwise, I don't know how to resolve this. If I have to, I'll just swallow it and make Durgaz act in a completely non-characteristic way, for the good of the group. But I'd really prefer not to have to do that.

Bill / Kyuad[edit]

As Durgaz walks through the swamp, carefully deciding where to step, Kyuad walks directly behind him stooping, and with his face cast downward into a book. The floating book cover tied to the base of Durgaz's pack holds a large tome almost high enough for the tall Erenlander's needs. Nisse rides on the top of the orc's pack, with her head tipped to one side, apparently reading along. Every now and again Kyuad mumbles to himself and whistles through his teeth.

As Durgaz begins to speak, Kyuad looks up at the orc's back, and then around at the dismal surroundings again. His face lit from below by the flaming rock in his hand, Kyuad looks troubled in more ways than one.

As he studies, Kyuad speaks to Durgaz distantly, though with cogent focus. "I think we two are of slightly different minds on this issue. The goals and intents of the courtisan and his old beast are most likely not in line with ours. I fear that his primary purpose in tagging along with our band was little more than survival and the desire to use some capable allies. The imp of his knows clearly how to tailor its conversation best to suit the listener, and it was telling to hear it cowtow, praise, and make promises of power to Zal'Kazzir. His willingness to give in to the tempting black power I felt when within the tower, his manipulations of our enemies, and his eagerness to play with one of the Shadow's legates only solidifies my suspicion that his hunger for power has virtually no bounds.

"What's more, I think that despite his weaknesses, he could be of great use to us. If you remember, he did manage to convince the lorekeeper in the tower that not only he but also we were friends. He also succeeded in earning enough of the trust of a legate to have his way with her," then under his breath, "or hers with him."

"An elf cannot be trusted by minions of Shadow. An orc should be trusted, but it is unacceptably dangerous for you to be called upon to prove your loyalty to their side." Kyuad rubs the his wrists as he then says, "I've experienced that type of proof first-hand." He continues, "Shadaar, the tragic once-man we found in the tower, is at so much of a risk when close to priests of Shadow that I have been working on ways to protect him from being used against us if that were to happen. And do not think that I have missed the way you all look at me. I know that my pallor is disturbing, and my skin is cold and blue. The... condition of my birth seems to be getting worse, and this will help us none at all were we to be forced to deal with legates.

"Face the sad facts my friend: Zal'Kazzir is our only means of hoping to ever survive a non-violent encounter with those of the unholy priesthood, or for that matter, any of his ilk of the 'idle rich'.

"And make no mistake - all of the events so far point to a direct conflict with the Priest of Shadow himself. The living denizens of Cambrial, and there are many, will warm to the foolish Sarcosan and none of the rest of us. I can think of no other option open to us but to use him until such time as we have finished with Sunulael.

"In the meantime we must work out ways to keep him in check and to prevent him from endangering us more than he already has. His hunger for power is my primary concern because it has such far-reaching dangers. We must never allow him to feel as though he has any power over the rest of us at any time. Though I hate the concept of slavery, we must do all we can to hold power over him and his actions, not only to prevent him from turning against us, but also to prevent him from feeling the freedom to act without our blessing. He is an exceptionally smart man, but his inability to recognize the most obvious dangers to himself and others marks him as a fool - he should have the freedom of a fool.

"We must also ensure that he does not know too much of our secrets, because you are right that his is the most dangerous mind in the hands of the enemy. It is an unfortunate issue that he knows our destination right now. His future ignorance is essential. This will be difficult until we establish power. How that is to be accomplished, I am not sure.

"For now, we must wait and see what results from his plan, and if he survives Vrolk's tower.

OOC: I totally understand him going to great lengths to use the abilities that he has worked very hard to get. It's exactly the same as Kyuad constantly requiring huge amounts of time for things like study and making stuff. I think those are equivalent abilities in the minds of Adam and I as players (Zal'Kazzir using diplomacy with legates = Kyuad learning and creating). But I agree that putting everything else at risk just to do the Big Cool Thing he can do is really detrimental to the rest of us.

I just say we go with it! There is legitimate reason for us to want him around, and just as legitimate reason for us to not trust him. So we will have to work against Zal'Kazzir in some ways just to protect ourselves and to keep him under our control instead of the Shadow's.

Andrew / Durgaz[edit]

Durgaz walks in silence for several minutes before responding.

"I respect your opinion, Kyuad. You are much more knowledgeable than I am, and not only where it concerns magic. To tell the truth, I had not noticed any change in your appearance; if you are any paler than you were before, the difference was not great enough for me to notice. I don't know what condition you might be speaking of, but I doubt it's my concern. I have had only one quarrel with you, and I will not hold that against you, because I know why you did it. I think you made a dangerous mistake, but I might have done the same thing in your position.

"And you may be right about Zal'Kazzir's goals being no more complex than a lust for power. I will say that back in the Spire, he once told me some of his reasons he wished to join us, and his motivation seemed honorable ... but perhaps he was just telling me what he thought I wanted to hear. It makes no difference either way, as any intentions he might or might not have once had have now been overshadowed by his actions."

"You are probably also correct about his ... 'talents' ... being the only hope we have of achieving a non-violent encounter with agents of the Shadow. Though that may be true, I think it is in our best interest to avoid such encounters ... ANY encounters, violent or not ... whenever possible. Certainly not to actively seek them out, as he has done. That is the key to our continued survival. I think the rest of us understand that."

"So I will listen to your judgement. I would like to hear, however, your thoughts on HOW we can ... your words ... 'hold power over him and his actions.' He seems to care very little for our opinion, and as such mere disapproval has so far accomplished nothing. We cannot keep all of our plans from him, or he will have no stake at all in seeing them accomplished. I also think you are forgetting that if he wanted to, he could very easily enslave us all with his magics,and there is very little we could do about it. I don't know anything about sorcery, but I assume that whatever dark power he insists on playing with will only make him stronger and more dangerous, even as it makes him more reckless and susceptible to the Shadow's influence. That is not a good combination."

"I don't care for his creature, either. I do not think it serves Vrolk ... from what I have seen in my visions, he did not much care for it ... but it asks too many questions, and seems to know too much already, for our comfort. I don't know what Zal'Kazzir did when he 'bound' it to him, or 'set it free', or whatever he did. Just another reckless, ego-serving act performed with no thought of the consequences, like everything else he does.

"As for Shadaar ... he is your project. I will not judge him, for as I said before, he did not choose to become what he is; that fate could befall any of us, after all. If you believe you can save him, or at least prevent him from becoming a danger to us, I will fight beside him and show him the same respect I show the rest of you. If you cannot, we will put him out of his misery. I would expect no less, were I in his place."

Andrew: See, that was exactly what I needed. Kyuad's response is well-reasoned and makes sense, which was what Durgaz needed to hear. The incident at the top of the tower did a lot to curb Durgaz's tendency toward stubbornly sticking to conclusions that he probably reached too hastily in the first place, and he does look to Kyuad as the "smart guy" that he actually trusts. So that will work nicely. Thanks.

Bill / Kyuad[edit]

"We should avoid simple threats to Zal'Kazzir. Instead, once we find out his greatest fears, we make them a reality for him and make ourselves his only reprive from them. We must also keep him busy. This will mean that we occupy his time and mind as much as possible with activities and duties that keep him out of trouble and out of earshot when we discuss important matters.

"On a more subtle level, each of us should find opportunities to show deference to the other. Er, by each of us of course, I mean you and I and Eranon. This will have the effect of making Zal'Kazzir see each of us as his superior. When matters are decided, we should find ways to make it seem that the decision comes from only one of us, and the others will then defer as though that person were leading everyone. He is a cleaver one though, we should not make it seem as though we are snubbing him as much as giving respect to the other. Over time he will recognize that he is left out of this circle, as he has noticed at least once in my dealings with others.

"This is not an area in which I have expertise. I would much prefer to keep his actions within a hedge without deception.

"One of the means by which we may exert some control over Zal'Kazzir is through Shadaar. I thank you for simply taking me at my word before when I was evasive as to my intent. Having a capable undead ally with us means that at any time, if necessary, Zal'Kazzir can be eliminated. My intent is to give Shadaar such an overwhelming reason to serve our purposes and not the Sarcosan's that there will never be any question as to his allegiance. This is of course, just one of my purposes behind the coming ritual.

"There are many things that I do not share because others are better off not knowing. However, your particular insight makes it difficult to hide things from you, and I'd wager you're better off knowing most things. You asked a number of questions about the ritual, such as how I think I can accomplish this task, and why. I'd be willing to give some answers now that we're alone, if you still care to ask."

OOC I really don't want to make the game un-fun for Adam. So whatever we decide to do, I'd like there to be an element of friendship regardless. Once we are assured that he will not act without permission or guidance from the rest of us, it should be easy to buddy-up. To a certain extent, it makes it less fun for us when Zal goes all nutso on us, but I certainly don't mind the interesting complications. What he did in the tower might hurt us, and it might have been stupid, but at least it makes for a great story. Likewise, if we attempt to "control" or manipulate Zal, I'd prefer that it makes for a better story and doesn't make Zal unplayable for Adam.

Andrew / Durgaz[edit]

Andrew: I completely agree, which is why I brought up the issue in a private Durgaz-Kyuad bluebooking session to work out how the characters would deal with it, as opposed to putting it out in the whole-group forum and running the risk of making Adam feel uncomfortable. I don't want to stand in the way of Adam's playing his character the way he wants, and I'll agree that complications make for interesting story elements, but it's equally important that we have legitimate justifications for why our characters put up with his recklessness, other than "because he's a PC."

In any case, I'm happy with what you're suggesting. IC, it's the sort of thing that would make sense to Durgaz, and OOC, it provides for some interesting new role-playing possibilities.

Durgaz: "You are not bound to reveal anything that you do not wish to. I may not understand your craft, but I am reasonably satisfied that you are intelligent enough to be careful with it. And you are right: if I did have reason to believe you were endangering us in some way, I would probably know by now.

"If you are willing, though, I am curious. I have seen and destroyed many Fell, and I have heard the tales. The ferocity of some warriors, they said, was so great that even after death, the blood in their veins continued to churn with such hate and battle-rage that the departed spirit might smell it, and be drawn back to fight once more among the living. So we drank the blood and ate the flesh of the fallen, so that their strength would flow through our veins, and their vengeance delivered by our vardatches, instead. And their heads were set on pikes, so that any spirit who found its way back could look upon its own dead face and know that no body was left for it to dwell in."

"But that is a story, I think. Most of the Fell I have seen, even before we came upon this place, were not warriors, and certainly not the greatest of their kind. Most of them were pathetic, sniveling creatures, crawling and clawing like beggars ... creatures to be crushed like vermin, or safely destroyed from afar like diseased wolves. And in this place we have seen Fell deliberately created by the score through alchemy and magic, certainly not born from any inner fire or strength of spirit."

"So perhaps I should not be surprised to hear that the Fell can be cured, or tamed, or whatever your intentions are. Is this something you have known, or did you just discover it in the Vile's laboratory? And if you did find this information in the laboratory, can it really be trusted?"

Bill / Kyuad[edit]

"My intention is not to cure Shadaar. He is now a walking corpse and is doomed to remain as such - at least, according to what I currently know. But the madness that all Fell suffer he has staved off by eating the morsels fed down to the decaying Valendil. While it is possible that we could continue to find victims for him, I do not think we should rely on hunting the minions of Shadow in order to protect ourselves from the hunger for flesh that is consuming his mind. My intention then is to remove the hunger. I am confident this is possible - Vrolk has been successful in this twice so far and I expect no complications on Shadaar's side.

"I had never dreamed it possible before, but the notes of Vrolk show that he once did the same for a legate. She rose as Fell, unable to be revived by the Shadow's blessing, and wished to explore the realm of the undead first-hand. Vrolk's work in that experiment succeeded in removing the maddening hunger for flesh from the legate, but changed the wyvern Zaindal from living to Fell. It seems that something went wrong in his experiments, because his intent was instead to give the living Zaindal some of the benefits of undeath without killing the creature.

"When we first destroyed Zaindal, Vrolk returned to his lab and used another Fell subject for a similar experiment. This time, he refined the process and not only removed the madness from the Fell, but infused the undead Zaindal with renewed strength and curing the wyvern of the madness as well. The elf we saw fed to the creature was simply food - it needed the flesh to heal itself from the weakness brought on during its reassembling. In fact, it should have been even more powerful than the first time we saw it. If Zaindal hadn't been in a weakened state we might have lost that battle.

"My experiments with Vrolk's ritual should accomplish even more. It should remove from Shadaar the hunger for flesh without robbing him of the ability to repair his body by consuming. This not only benefits him but also our Cause, as it removes some unlife from the Shadow's control.

"However, the ritual should also allow me to take in greater control over the Creatures of Universal Consumption. This is why I did not explain everything before. This untested experiment will put me at risk, with the intent of gaining a great tool against Vrolk and the Shadow. I intend to infuse myself with necromantic power while removing the curse from Shadaar's mind. I hope you understand now why I pushed so hard to 'save' poor Shadaar instead of giving him his Rest."

Andrew / Durgaz[edit]

"I don't like the sound of that. Aren't we taking enough risks allowing the Sarcosan to toy with whatever dangerous magic he's been messing with? I am not a sorcerer or a scholar, but I don't need to be either to think that an 'untested experiment' based on the notes of someone we know to be dangerous and manipulative ... notes that he left here for you to find ... is not a good idea, especially since you yourself acknowledge serious risks.

"Your intentions sound noble. I will give you that. If you can save this man from the fate that normally takes those who rise as Fell, you will have done a great thing, assuming that it does not end up costing you your life. Or your soul.

"But your intentions are not entirely selfless, are they? You admit as much ... that saving this man from the curse of the Fell is really just a means to some other end, whatever you are referring to when you talk of 'infusing yourself with power' and gaining tools you can use against Vrolk, and taking control over Creatures of Universal Consumption ... which I will assume is some magician's term for the Fell. Isn't that sort of grasping for power in dark places exactly what the Sarcosan is guilty of? Why is this any different?"

Bill / Kyuad[edit]

"Oh, um well, no it's not a term for the Fell. 'Creature of Universal Consumption' is a general term for all creatures that live on after death. I suppose it is too... 'scientific' a term to use in common speech, but I let it slip because I have been studying the nature of life and death lately. I would be willing to explain some of this to you, if you are interested.

"But I do not think that Vrolk expected me to connect his notes on this subject, and notes on his experiments, spread through a number of books, with the nature of the wyvern. Given what is written in his personal journal he would have surely preferred that Zaindal had remained within its room, and had I not noticed its strange behavior and wondered how it could be Fell at the same time as....

"Well, that's not important. He hid this information from me well enough that only chance could have allowed me to uncover it all the way I did. It is most improbable that we are being manipulated into fulfilling this experiment.

"You are right that my intentions are not entirely selfless." As Kyuad nods, the shadowy flame from the enchanted pebble shows a dark look on his face.

"I admit that if I had nothing to gain from helping Shadaar, I might be reluctant to engage in this experiment. I like to think I would still go through with it, but one can never know. I can gain something from it, however, and so the risk seems worth the reward. At any rate, I gather that there is far less at risk here than with the Sarcosan's dabbling with powers given to him through dark sacrifices. We know not when his mind may snap or his soul become ultimately corrupted. I at least am willing to share a concern for my own safety with you, so that if something goes wrong and I suffer from this experiment, you will at least know why. I expect that all will go off without a hitch though, so perhaps my warning has come across more urgant than need be.


[This scene takes place sometime DURING the conversation that Durgaz and Kyuad were having as they travelled from the Spire, talking about your Sarcosan friend...

ROLL: Kyuad (Spot +1) ROLLED: 12+1 = 13
ROLL: Durgaz (Spot +0) ROLLED: 8+0 = 8

ROLL: Nisse (Spot +16) ROLLED: 11+16 = 27

ROLL: Kyuad (Listen +1) ROLLED: 12+1 = 13
ROLL: Durgaz (Listen +0) ROLLED: 16+0 = 16

ROLL: Nisse (Listen +4) ROLLED: 3+4 = 7

With those results - until "revealed" (as noted below) it is unknown how LONG you've been spied on... Durgaz was the first to hear something, as Nisse swooped down into a tree and chirped for Kyuad to prepare his arm perch. Nisse had seen the spy and she rushed to alert Kyuad. Durgaz notices first.... Kyuad may ask Nisse at any time once called to his arm if she saw/knows when the spy arrived...]


The dreary day drags on as the orc called Durgaz and his necromantic companion Kyuad have nearly come to their nest spot for the night... The wind is crisp and chilled, growing cold in the unnatural measure of the Dead Marsh. Durgaz still leads the pair in the lightless night with Kyuad following closely behind fingering his tomes that rest on the platform that mystically carries itself above the swamp and fog cover tassled to the orc's pack...

We join the scene in progress as Kyuad relays thoughts..........


"... if something goes wrong and I suffer from this experiment, you will at least know why. I expect that all will go off without a hitch though, so perhaps my warning has come across more urgant than need be."


A whistle in the wind is the first thing that draws the orc's head upward. The whistle purposely mimics the nature of the wind to avoid detection, but it is that of the ash-gray and white feathered hawk so very familiar to the mirror-breaker... This avian is unlike others that the orc may normally rend apart for a delicacy of meat in between rat or grasse cat normally ingested on the march. This bird is NISSE, the colleague and most trusted companion of the Erenland necromancer. His... 'familiar' if you will.

And she is concerned, trying to alert her friend and master to the spy in their midst!

Rustling from a tanglewood tree top gives away the black sheen, the oily feathers of a dark raven... As Durgaz and Kyuad both look into the tree some 20' above they see the shape and form of the crow similar in form to the one they executed at the ShadowWall. They know this beast, the quipping cackle of the thing called NEEGA let's loose...


"...CAAAAWLLL!CAAAAAWWW! Ne..Neega es near... ma..minstrels.... HA-HA... Neega seeeees yous.... CAAAAWLLL!CAAAAAWWW!!"

"...Ne..Neega...come with git..gifts... CAAAAWLLL!CAAAAAWWW! ... Nee..Neega come with wurd pitchers ... pa-PIC-tures!! Wills...wills-would want PIC-tures?!?!?! ... CAAAAWLLL!CAAAAAWWW! ..."

The deceptively stupid raptor hops to a branch revealing itself to the dark light of the few stars in the sky. Neega seems larger than before. Nearly the size of a bird of prey, this raven seems to have had this 'new' body bred in dark nests of hearty life. Clearly clutched in the beast's sharp talons appears to be a twisted thatch of parchments, twined with string to the thing's ankle... It hops a stagger step as it speaks up again, not waiting for a real answer...

"ahh..I gives its wurd PIC-tures like told to Ne..NEEGA! ... CAAAAWLLL!CAAAAAWWW! ... Ne..Neega... NOT false... NEEGA not hear to hurt, but ne-neega...ne..needs too... Wills..willss yous gives Neega, Neega's needs?? p..pleeease... please? Neega gives but Neega takes es first from mage-magiczzz... ne-Neega... we's only wants a piece... a itty-bitty piece to warms us.... yes?"

The little shadow foul hops a bit, noodling at the note as it's head bobs and skitters between the pathwalkers and the big white bird sitting perched as predator above her prey in a taller nearby tree - only waiting to her master's call.

"......na..NO...hurtz Neega... no hurtz us... we just needs feeds to make long way backs to Neega's man-kind-master... ja..jast a tastes and we gives IM-por-TANT wurd PIC-tures. Yes? yes??"

It looks in fear of dying at the hands of you... killers... And not wanting to suffer that fate again, the twisted raven gives up the most important bit of word...

"we...we's comes on wind and wurd of de...DE-ARROW ... ma...master Diero! wants us's message wurd pitchers, yes??"

Glancing down and clutching the note tighter in its talons, Neega stretches his oily wings slowly one at a time - looking at each individually preening over himself,so obvously thinking himself the prettiest bird in the land... But his intention is clear, he is readying to flee, if a hand (or other bird) is raised.

[OOC: think of this as a surprise round, that Neega will act first on to flee if scared. To wrap this up - it may be obvious, but the bird is playing at asking Kyuad for a "taste" of his magic. It wants to drain some of his spell energy in exchange for the note. It's highly likely that he will only try to "take" a single point for fear of being strangled by the orc since he'll have to come down and touch Kyuad - preferably landing on his falconing glove, giving the parchment note, taking the energy and leaving... Assuming nothing else is planned or goes wrong...

You are MORE than welcome to TALK with Neega... hehe... fun fun...]

UNRAVELLING the Parchment reveals...[edit]

assuming you ALLOW this, if so you can go to THIS page to read the letter...

ANDREW - do not go to this page UNTIL Bill, notes that Kyuad is reading the letter aloud. Bill you MAY also choose to recount the letter to Durgaz in your own words. You choice.

Midnight RPG - Chapter 16.666

Midnight: North & South Portal