Ptolus - the city by the spire

Session 26.5: 11th Blessing to 11th Blessing

After dressing in his finest clothes Answulf joins Lyle and Ulszom in the taproom of the Ghostly Minstrel for well-deserved mid-morning ales. The discussion turns to what to do next, now that you have delivered Phon Quartermain into the safety of the church. As you finish your second round and are about to order a third, you notice a tall and striking redhead, dressed in fitted green tunic and tights, striding towards your table. She carries a thin crooked staff in one hand and a bundled grey and black cloak in the other, but what is particularly remarkable is her left arm appears to be made entirely from red glass. With a warm smile nods her head and says, ‘just as described, a southerner, a giant and a Halfling, although the giant is smaller and better dressed than the tales that are being told around Old Town’. She indicates towards an empty chair and asks politely, ‘I am Jevvica Nor, may I join you, I have recovered something which belongs to you and I hope to exchange it for the tale of what happened earlier this morning’.
Lyle indicates she is welcome to the chair and offering her a drink he says “I wasn’t aware we had lost anything belonging to us?” Looking pointedly at Answulf he says “Well apart from your dignity big man but I doubt that would fit in the bundle she is carrying.” Lyle chuckles as he remembers Answulf standing naked in the street a mushed dark elf at his feet.
Still full of adrenalin from the battle and the strange euphoria that accompanied the unusual experience of being publically hailed a hero Answulf chuckles at Lyles string of double entendres whilst Ulszom mutters something about “head shrinkers facing a challenge with these two…” Answulf pauses a moment before modestly describing the events in Old Town. Meanwhile Ulszom studies the women out of the corner of his eye trying to place her while watching every which way for the ambush that will no doubt occur while these two fools are distracted by a pretty face.
Jevvica laughs along with the jokes and listens intently to the recounting of the battle, she asks pointed questions during the story and you sense that she already has a very good idea of what happened. ‘I commend you on your skill and heroism and as promised, this I believe is yours…although it needs a wash’ and she pushes the cloak across the table, ‘this is a powerful item, hopefully it will protect you better than its previous owner’.

In a more serious tone she continues, ‘you should know that I understand a little more about what is going on and the origins of that dark elf, I would be willing to share that information with you, if you will listen to an offer the organisation I represent has empowered me to make’. She sits back and turns to the passing barmaid, ‘the same again for my friends and a glass of Bardian red please and put it on my tab’.
Lyle says “It costs nothing to listen my good lady, be free with your information and make your offer by all means.” Lyle leans back against the wall and listens intently to the strange woman’s offer.
Jevvica starts by handing the Dark Elves cloak to Lyle indicating that it offers powerful resistance to harm (cloak of resistance +3)
‘Excellent, I hoped you would say yes, but first let us toast your bravery and morn the innocent dead’, once the drinks arrive she raises her glass in salute. Ulszom is almost certain that she hasn’t drugged the drinks, or enchanted his associates, but cannot be sure; she clearly seems to know the barmaid so there is always the chance of a conspiracy…
After taking the merest sip of wine, Jevvica begins her tale, ‘how much do you know about the spire’ as she waves her hand in the direction of uptown. ‘We all live in its shadow, but few ever stop to consider it, why it’s there, who built the complexes beneath and within it, or what they may contain’. She drops her voice a little, ‘I fear the dark elf that you slew came from within the spire, or to be more precise the Banewarrens’.
‘Let me explain. Long ago, several millennia at least, a powerful and saintly cleric called Danar Rotansin resolved to rid the world of all wickedness and gathered together evil artifacts, objects of dark power, trapped essences of vanquished fiends, demonic relics, and even the last vestiges of particularly horrible diseases; the banes as he called them. These were the worst, most nightmarish evils imaginable and he buried them away so no one could ever use them. Danar believed that destroying them would simply release their evil essence back into the world and sought instead to contain their darkness forever, by keeping them locked safely away. He constructed a vast catacomb beneath what is now Ptolus, well-warded and hidden deep underground, he called this place the Banewarrens. But, concentrating that much malevolent energy in one place had unexpected results, that even Danar could not foresee’.
‘For time measured in the lives of men Danar worked at this cause, collecting more and more of these banes, until finally he acquired one of the most dreadful artifacts the world has ever known, the Book of Inverted Darkness. However, corrupting intelligences had worked in the background to enable this and even Danar Rotansin could not withstand the books temptation, finally the black lore contained in its pages twisted his mind and his spirit. He succumbed to its insidious and forbidden writings and turned to darkness; he became Eslathagos Malkith, the Dread One and withdrew into his tower, which was renamed Jabel Shammar. A century or more after the Dread One emerged and with the terrible knowledge and vast power he had collected in the banes throughout the years, began a campaign so devastating that it threatened the whole of the world. So intolerable was his evil and that of the banes the land itself rejected Jabel Shammar, pushing the tower away; Jabel Shammar was thrust up creating an impossibly tall and narrow spire with the formally pearly white walls now as black as night. From there the Dread One surveyed the world over which he desired total dominion’.
‘Only the combined strength of all mortal races, led by powerful heroes, some of whom were his former friends and allies, was able to avert disaster. They carried the fight to the halls of Jabel Shammar itself and were able to bring down the might of Eslathagos Malkith. After the battle the world’s greatest champions lay dead and broken around him, having lost not only their lives, but their immortal souls. Though, some vestiges of the good cleric Danar remained and at the last wrestled with the evil that he had become. His spirit, for the briefest moment free of the evil, managed to seal the Banewarrens once again. Thus vault upon vault of banes he collected have remained sealed within the Banewarrens for an age past, untouched and safely kept from the rest of the world…until today’.
‘Divinations have revealed that this dark elf, who went by the name Tavan Zith, was actually himself one of these banes. His power, or rather his curse, was to awaken the latent sorcery hidden in all beings who had not yet tapped into its power. Those poor individuals invariably had no means to control the raging, chaotic energy of their own latent sorcery and were usually consumed in the process of its awakening. The dark elf was clearly mad and naturally chaotic and hateful being and some of his past has been revealed. Zith revelled in this power, claiming to be the Avatar of Chaos until the cleric Danar was able to imprison him; this happened thousands of years ago. Since then he has remained somehow preserved in the Banewarrens. Zith’s sudden appearance is troublesome enough, but the wider implications are much direr. If Zith has escaped, then the Banewarrens, sealed for millennia, have somehow been breached. The countless banes and many powerful artifacts would be available to any wicked individual strong or deluded enough to find them. For this reason, the Banewarrens must be sealed again, and quickly. I fear that these malignant creatures, artifacts, and forces loosed upon the world would be a disaster. Fortunately I have discovered the point at which he entered the city and what I need are some capable agents to investigate my suspicions. I can offer you 850 gold pieces each for recovering substantial information regarding the opening and resealing of the Banewarrens, what do you say’.
Answulf ponders Jevvica’s words handing the cloak to Ulszom. Ulszom holds it arm’s length cleaning it with magic (prestidigitation) before passing it to Lyle with a grin “With legs that short we can’t afford to have you running for the hills every time some back alley mongrel barks at you”. As Jevvica’s story unfolds Ulszom’s brow furrows and he becomes increasingly agitated. When she reaches the end and offers “850 gold each…” he spits his wine across the table in disbelief “850 gold for going near the Banewarrens. Do we look like idiots?” He splutters in exasperation lost for words whilst eyeing his idiot companions and realising they don’t look too smart dressed as they are and covered in droplets of his wine.

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Dukeshaft

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