Session #39: An unexpected reunion
Akasha urged Irthir to make haste down the tunnel toward the exit and retreat back to the safety of her mansion. As they were running back, the heard a blockade of sorts up ahead -- mages in the passageway, drawn by Irthir's cries, no doubt. Akasha pulled Irthir close and teleported to the tunnel entrance, only to find herself surrounded by more mages. As they turned towards her and Irthir, she let out a horrified whimper before closing her eyes tight and folding space once more to appear closer to safety.
Once reaching her house, Akasha slipped silently in, looking listlessly at all of her belongings. Irthir followed her through the door and she apathetically trudged back up to the dark-room wherein the portal to her mansion lay. She opened the door, staring blankly into the distance and walked past Igan and Lena to the dining room where she summoned sugary pastries to stuff her face with. Irthir followed close behind and since Akasha was unresponsive, the party interrogated him for the details of their quest. Irthir, clueless as ever, was perhaps scolded a bit by the rest of the party, and retreated to study. Akasha, once she had finished the cake, retired to her room for a well-deserved nap. Lena charged Sklooh with watching over Akasha and protecting her while Lena was gone to find her father's spell-book.
In the absence of Akasha and Irthir, Lena attended to meditation regarding her studies of magic and Igan attended to prayer. Igan consulted the party concerning Kaela's questions, and they each contributed their own personal insight. Igan brought this insight with him when he visited the War Plane in his mind once more to face the same angelic host. Igan told the angel that strategy and tactics were every bit as important as power and courage, and that a tactical retreat is still a victory if it helps to accomplish your goals. He told the angel that where power was lacking, the difference is made up in alliances. He told the angel that wars are fought to win. The angel disappeared. Once more the avatar of Igan's god emerged from the ether and took her seat upon the throne. She scowled at Igan and expressed her discontent with him having taken so long to develop this understanding of her methods. She told him that if was going to be her General on the Material Plane, that he'd have to subscribe to these doctrines and his place in the celestial order. Kaela conjured plate armor of divine craftsmanship and taunted Igan with it. Boons, she said, are bestowed only on those soldiers who do her will -- her will was that Igan reunite Lena with her father, Silas. Igan asked for further assistance, to which Kaela responded that he should prove himself worthy of it.
Meanwhile, Lena began the arduous process of copying her father's spell-book down onto new parchment from memory. While her original spell-book was a superior arcane instrument through which she could focus her powers, a mundane book would have to do in it's absence. She noticed something peculiar as she inscribed the pages, however. In the glyphs, she noticed certain combinations of thought that she hadn't recognized before. Drawing from her experience of Artel's counter-spells, she realized that the language conveyed in her father's book on a single page had to do with banishing and interrupting magical effects. It wasn't the same spell, but it was similar, and the more she worked on it, the more she understood, until she cracked the secret of the spell and became confident enough to put it to use. Another spell became obvious to Lena as she saw elements of light manipulation and arcane words tangentially related to stealth and hiding were recalled on a page. She poured over the details and strongly willed the knowledge, brute-forcing the intricacies of the magic with all of her mental capacity, until she finally deciphered the runes of an invisibility spell of sorts. She knew that these two spells would be useful in recovering her father's book.
Fast forward to the proposed expedition: Igan refused to allow Lena to go alone. Lena wanted to keep her friends and family out of Lena, but Igan (whether out of familial bonds, the passion of having only just been reunited, or the commandments of his god) insisted on accompanying his adopted daughter. Lena relented, and prepared the spells necessary for the trip. The strategy was to protect themselves from scrying and scan for the book using Igan's divine magic under the protection of Lena's arcane invisibility, starting with the known interrogation center of intelligence. They opened the door to Akasha's home and exited. Igan saw, just as the two of them leaped off the cliff, a single orb of magical darkness -- presumably concealing Black Cloaks -- near the house. The door opening and closing without apparent tenants drew suspicion and the orb of darkness approached the door just as they faded from view. As Lena and Igan glided down the center of the mountain stronghold, they noticed that there were many dark orbs traveling about in the city, being led by a single black-cloaked figure.
They landed fairly gracefully in front of the locked double-doors, a guard on either side apparently distracted by all of the ruckus. Fortunately or not, Igan detected Lena's spell-book inside the facility, and they knew they had to enter. Lena focused and cunningly snatched the key out of the guard's robes without being noticed. Both Lena and Igan knew that they would have to time this perfectly -- Lena unlocked and opened the door, Igan cast a spell of Silence just as the mages attempted to blast the invisible intruders, and both Pillarmen darted inside, locking the door behind them. They carried on down the hallway, Lena keenly aware that they were triggering magical alarms as they went. Eventually, Igan found the specific room inside of which the book lay.
They opened the door to the cell, and sure enough the spell-book was sitting on one of five stools inside. Upon seeing it, Igan lunged forward, but not quickly enough. A spectral hand wrenched the book away and Igan pursued it into unnatural darkness. The hand emerged and closed the door behind Lena. Two clicks echoed, indicated the door had been locked. Lena had had enough of the games, and with a gesture dispelled the darkness revealing three black-cloaked figures before Igan (who had managed to grab the book).
Igan was shocked to see that of the three figures, the shortest one bore a familiar countenance under the hood. He stepped back and realized he was looking into the face of Tanya -- the abandoned child once captured by a roaming band of goblins whom the Pillarmen had rescued and turned loose into the wilderness. She sighed, apparently having not expected the counter-spell (most prisoners usually knew better than to attempt such a thing in such dire circumstances). In shock, and knowing they couldn't escape, they sat down for the explanation and subsequent interrogation. Igan's magic prevented the child from probing into their minds, and neither of them were forthcoming with information, so Tanya said that she'd wait for her minions to bring the rest of the party into custody.
Several hours following, Akasha woke up from her nap. With only a short time remaining on her demi-plane spell, she prepared her components for recasting. The three of them, Akasha, Sklooh, and Irthir watched as the reality surrounding them began to slowly fade and evaporate into darkness. They were deposited back into the Material Plane and Akasha immediately began the ritual to produce the mansion once more. Without warning, though, all three were bombarded by frigid and icy blasts of magical energy and reduced to unconsciousness in the darkness.
The three of them were brought before Igan and Lena in the interrogation room, and Lena provided them each with a healing potion from Akasha's stores. They all regained consciousness and the process began. Tanya probed them all with questions, and invaded the mind of Irthir who was not protected from divination by Igan's divine magic. Tanya gathered a wealth of knowledge from the lizard-man, but not as much as she would have liked because he was, of course, the least informed of the party regarding the matters of which she was interested. She did, however, gleam the experience he had had with the great fallen deity beneath the mountain.
Tanya bade that her entourage leave her alone with the Pillarmen. In conversation with her, she informed them that she was an old being, not a little girl. She was capable of defending herself from the goblins, but because of the party's valor and kindness in what they thought was her rescue, and for their compassion on a little girl, but more so for honoring her decision to run away without conflict, she was very fond of the Pillarmen and had actually been trying to keep them out of harms way within the walls of the city. She explained that due to her skills and experience, she very quickly ascended the ranks in Telor's intelligence community. When questioned, she asserted that she didn't have allegiance to Telor, nor to Varda, nor to the Pillarmen for that matter -- she wanted to spare them on a whim. Her alliance was to her god, Pleroma, god of knowledge, and she sought only to follow his instructions in preserving the existence of the Material Plane. In order to do this, she asked that Lena abandon Silas, Igan disobey the directives of Kaela, and for Irthir to never interact with the creature at the bottom of the mountain again. Furthermore, she asked that Sklooh continue to protect Lena, as it was absolutely essential that Lena not die.
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