Dragon's Claw

Do these robes make me look fat?

Never bring a street brawler to a religious fight.

Game Date: 10/14/09

Quickly putting some distance between themselves and the latest altercation, the men attempted to melt back into the populace and make their way to the Temple of Erathis. The two Eladrin and their wolfhound blended effortlessly, the country blacksmith to a somewhat lesser degree.

Sebastian, continuing his canine charade, made for the gates of the city. The watchmen made a special effort to keep the gates open just long enough for his exit. Once out into the wilderness he loped the miles across the valley to where the Dragon Hoop lay.

Back in Wolf’s Deep, the Temple of Erathis stood in the city’s grand square (er, hexagon). Across from it lay both the large Dragonborn tower and the Inn of the Bruised Grape, where the men were currently keeping rooms. It was old, probably as old as the city itself. It’s blocks of dark stone were marred only by the chiseling across it’s face marking it as a house of Erathis. It’s origins were as lost to time as the original facade over the entrance.

The doors were open and mildly lit by the light of a few torches. Within, the grand hall was occupied by a handful of worshipers and a pair of priests. While Luke and Erevis held back, Dex approached one of the clergymen and requested audience with the head of the Temple, Father Eljana. Bandying about the name of the Chosen Kalariel seemed to expedite the process.

The young priest led the men to a sitting room. The three enjoyed the wine, cheese and fire while awaiting the arrival of the Father. He turned out to be something of a mild surprise to the visitors. Father Eljana was a halfling – short, but not small by any means. If Erathis was the goddess of civilization, then Father Eljana was enjoying her fruits. Abundantly.

As any man would be who was abruptly awoken from his slumber, he was somewhat gruff from the start. Dex produced the letter of introduction which had been provided by Kalariel and the priest took a moment to mumble through it’s contents. Assured that they were who they said they were, he invited them to sit and explain their story.

He accepted it with little comment and when prodded provided some details of his own. Apparently, one of his priestesses was overcome during a ceremony a month or so ago. Her recovery was preceded however by a vision from the goddess. In it she related something to the effect of “The darkness is coming.” The Chosen of Erathis took it upon themselves to investigate and forestall this occurrence.

Little was else was learned with a few exceptions. The priest knew of the invisible gate to the tower, and himself had an amulet key. Apparently, there were quite a few about the city. The tower itself was manned by the city guard, and traditionally had been for ages. Another tradition practiced by the city was the “One House, One Dog” practice. Dogs were treated well for their ability to act as an early warning during invasion.

Lastly, he was able to provide an identity for the mob which was at that moment bleeding out in the bazaar. The Cult of Orcas. Who they were and where they hid was unknown to him.

Beyond that, the party’s story had elicited little surprise from the large man-child. And little guidance. While willing to assist them, he had no notion of what to do next. It was up to the men to formulate their own strategy. And who better to do so – the man suckling on the comfortable teat of civilization or the men who had closed three of the shadow-accursed portals themselves?

A plan was struck. At dawn, Father Eljana would escort a party of robed “acolytes” into the tower himself. The issue of parting with his precious robes – and their religious significance – was circumvented by the small matter of taking an oath to Erathis. Since their cause was the same and the situational advantage great, the men agreed to swear the oaths. Barring any promise of obedience or poverty, that is.

Across the valley, Sebastian had recovered the Dragon Hoop. He began a slow chant as he began to connect with his natural surroundings. After a few minutes, he summoned a sparrow down from a nearby tree. While somewhat glib, the bird was willing to take a message to Dex on the steps of the Temple of Erathis.

It had lost none of it’s acerbic personality upon it’s arrival on the steps. It opted to leave after it had delivered it message however. Apparently, Dex’s casual aside that he was hungry had not fallen on deaf ears.

Sebastian proceeded back to the city, scampering over the wall in “scurrying little critter” form. Inside the walls, he was a wolfhound once more. In that form, he was able to sniff out his friends once within temple.

The men awoke before dawn and awaited Father Eljana. When he did not produce himself at the appointed hour, a priestling was sent for him. Sebastian scurried along behind to ensure that our holy friend was living up to his end of the plan. It turns out that the giant halfling had merely overslept. He would probably proclaim, as a true believer in Erathis, that one of the true fruits of civilization was sleeping in. Shocking that holiness and over-indulgence would go hand in hand.

As the cool dawn light began slipping into the square between the buildings, the holy Father led his three novices and their wolfhound. They crossed to the tower and were waved through by the half-asleep guards.

The inside of the tower very much resembled those the men had visited previously. Only on a larger scale. While the stone slab beds were missing, the weapon racks were not. They held a small arsenal of kit and equipment. The giant doors sat across the way, leading deeper into the structure.

New to the setting was a single door to the right. It was through this that Luke noticed the wispy form of Reaver pass. The communion he had been currently attempting with the spirits was jarred by the appearance of his own spirit companion. Even more jarring, he had not summoned it.

The men followed Luke’s lead through the door. Beyond was a large room. At the back rested a large table with food, a few bookshelves. To the left was a staircase leading up. Two guardsmen sat at the table gorging on the mess. Their at-ease demeanor changed abruptly at the appearance of a gaggle of Erathian priests.

Imaginary clipboard in hand, Luke jumped to the fore, all business. The apparent annual consecration of the tower by Erathis was at hand. Wards to be re-enforced from evil spirits, shadow things, the like. Nothing to worry about. We’ll just go about our business.

The guards, sufficiently off-balance, uh’ed and stuttered their way to acquiesence. Their last stab at officiousness was to insist on accompanying the priests to the upper levels.

The ever growing troop hiked up the stairs. Another room sat above them. Dicing at a round nicked table were four grunts. They glanced up momentarily but quickly lost interest at a situation obviously above their pay grade. Down the length of the room stood another guardsman, yanking darts from a target on the wall. He was not so easily disuaded from suspicion.

Doubledoors sat at either end of the room. It was through the pair at the far end that Reaver continued. Right past the scowling guardsman.

Luke moved ahead toward the doors, still shoveling the ruse. The consecration must go on. The guardsman stepped into his path. Why hadn’t he heard about this “consecration”?

Luke thought fast. Surely, the strange activities of late must have registered even here? Shadows. A battle on the bridge. These evils all must be thwarted.

The man had heard of the battle on the bridge. What did we know of it?

Things were starting to get a little tense… Sebastian eyed the gamblers, a nice big mass of a target.

Scrambling, Luke began citing further need for holy wards and safeguards.

Erevis tightened his grip on the short sword hidden in the folds of his robe as he surreptitiously stepped behind the two guards from downstairs.

The suspicious guardsman continued to eye Luke askance. His darts remained clutched in his hand.

Luke turned to Father Eljana, bastion of authority. His Rotound Greatness could merely open and close his jaw silently, emitting nothing but blessed drool.

The guardsman stared at the halfwit, his eyebrows slightly raised.

All could feel the great voice from the heavens about to declare “Initiative”…

And Dex jumped forward. Offended by this lackey’s unbridled disregard for religious protocol, he took up the reins. No one would dare stand before the Great Father of the Holy Temple of Erathis, Praised be She who Tames the Untameable. Evil abounds, around every corner, within every shadow. And this man has the gall to have a pissing contest.

Cowed by Dex’s born-again prostheletizing fervor, he stepped aside, sufficiently brow beaten.

The men moved on to the doors and deeper into the tower.

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Nazridex

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