Having failed to save his friend from evaporating, still unclear about the details of it all, Loic put a hand on the desk to steady himself. His eyes were bouncing around in his head, like he was trying to follow a fly, while his face sank floorwards.
“You must tell me. Will he be alright?” He was asking Raddan, as the fellow claimed to have gone through something similar. “We need to go back for him. The library. The library knows how.”
The wizard’s distress was bared for all to see. Taman couldn’t be lost. He had been a constant, level-headed, integral resource. No, not resource. He is a friend. This wasn’t like being separated from the uncultured moron of a half-orc or the ornery money-loving dwarf. In a way, Taman’s presence had kept him on a generally moral path. Even when questioning himself, he could always look at the green-clad cleric, receive a grin and a nod, and remember that he was doing well. Now what? He liked Lael, but she tended to be more lost than he was lately. She had her own dilemmas. And the others? The idea of being left amongst a gaggle of opinionated people who would seek to sooner smack his genius ideas down than come up with better, or any ideas at all that they weren’t simply told about first, made a strange bubble of anger rise in the pit of his stomach.
As Loic began to return from his thoughts to the present, he realized his left arm was sore, and he’d taken to holding it at the bicep to alleviate some of the dull throbbing. It felt like he’d slept on it wrong, was all.
The half-elf looked up at Raddan plaintively.
The masked man meanwhile was stood off to one side, arms crossed over his chest, seemingly looking at where Taman had been. It was a long, deliberate moment before he spoke. “You’ll find no answers in the library. I doubt the place has any control over what happened here, if anything, it probably knows less of Taman’s condition than we do.” He didn’t feel inclined to start theorising too deeply on what the experience he’d undergone actually was. There had been talk of history re-writing itself, people vanishing from the record. It was a debate for the scholars and right now, Raddan was satisfied with what little he truly understood. Still, the wizard was clearly in need of calming and a headless kobold served no one in this situation.
“The best way I can describe it, Taman is… between. The presence of the demon lords seems to be warping time itself and certain people are vanishing from the continuum for undefined periods. For a time, I was one of them.” His gaze sought the others who were moving through the library with him at the time. “Apparently I was gone for seconds but to me, it felt like hours. However long it felt, I got the impression that time wasn’t truly moving in that place. It seemed to exist beyond the planes, a realm unto itself, with its own rules. It was empty enough as far as I saw, Taman will come to no harm there.” He gestured to where the cleric had last been. “For all we know, he could be back within moments.” Folding his arms again, Raddan flexed the fingers of his hidden hand. He kept to himself a private concern that if Taman did indeed re-appear, he could have spent years alone in that stark nothingness. There was no telling what his mental state might be by the time he graced the material plane again. His fingers twitched again. It wouldn’t hurt to have a spell ready, just in case.
Focusing on the task at hand, Vizeran pulls out a large map (to be given to you later) and begins to mark certain sections.
Now, the purple worm egg and the eye of the beholder should be no trouble, you can find them in the Wormwrithings just a day or 2 travel west of here.
The angel feathers and the demon heart can be claimed in the Labyrinth, and Gromphs grimoire is in Menzoberranzan I would assume it is either in the care of his house or still in his lab high in Tier Breche
“Once you have collected these ingredients return here, I will construct the heart then you can take it to the location of the first ritual and begin the ritual to summon the demon princes
Lael’essthrae Xund’lara Torviir
Lael watched the disappearance of Taman and Loic’s growing distress with a still disquiet. She felt slow and sluggish, her mind and body unable to react. There was nothing in her limited power she could do to help. the feeling of helplessness frustrated her to no end. Yet Loic hurt and it was not a wound she could heal. As her hand clutched at the skirts of her dress as she resisted reaching out for the half-elf to sooth him. The need to do so was so strong, yet there were many eyes here. One pair in particular from her own kind who she would not welcome the scrutiny.
So, she stood as still as she could possibly manage and awaited for Raddan to try and offer a calming resolve. Once he was finished, her disquiet was replaced with annoyance. Of course the masked, tailed, fool offered little. This was a matter for those that knew the Cleric best, the ones who were here right from the start. Curse them all to the nine hells and all the realms beyond! Kind blessings it was that Vizeran was the practical sort and seemed to busy himself with a map and the locations of the magical ingredients.
Using this to her advantage, Lael pressed a reluctant hand into the small of Loic’s back she drew herself closer. “Tamen is safe.” Lael whispered softly. She thought of other comforts she could offer, and found herself a little tongue tied. This was not really her strong suit, she was no cleric, filled with the Goddesses soft and mothering graces. She was a weapon, all she could be sure of in this world was the strength of her sword arm. Yet she searched for more to give.
“If we know Taman, like we do, he is most likely enjoying the quiet solitude, deep in reflective meditation. After all, he enjoyed many years in the forest alone.”
With her free hand a crooked finger, tapped him against the point of Loic’s chin. ’chin up’ she thought, but had no means to communicate to him.
Taman would be alright Lael reaffirmed to herself, he would be back, even if they had to fetch him themselves. He was most likely, amusing himself in his cheery little manner, worried for them more than himself because Taman was just that selfless. “Let us do the best we can, for him, so he need not worry…” Lael added finally following her last train of thought and turning her attention to the map.
The location of the first ritual… there was more to that story, she knew so. Vizeran relished in thought of city of spiders destruction, his voice was laced with it. Lael could not help but feel the disappointed in her companions and their willingness to accept such a requirement. If she were to get the truth she would need to speak to the DeVir survivor alone.
Eran watch as Taman’s presence vanished from existence. He saw the panic in Loic, Lael’s emotional conflict. Raddan trying to sooth Loic’s panic. He felt as helpless as he did when Raddan disappeared. He hoped it would be an equally short affair, but as the seconds turned into minutes the hope turned to dread. Taman was lost!
Nothing in there power could bring him back. Only completing the mission could repair the rift and stabilise the material plain. Hopefully restoring their comrade. “Comrade” he thought. He had known him less than 3 weeks, not enough time to call him a friend. Though out of this band, apart from Ilia, he would of been the easiest one to become that.
He heard the words Lael spoke to Loic and knew them to be correct. “Lael speaks true Loic, he is safe. He maybe returned to us in time. If not, succeeding in our mission and healing this plain of existence should.” He said with conviction.
Looking at Vizeran with new focus. " There is a Beholder that resides in Karazikar’s Maw… Do you know of it?"
“Yes that is in fact the beholder I speak of in the Wormwrithings”
“The Wormwrithings? You mean the ancient purple worm tunnels we passed through on our way to Mantol Derith?”
Eran considered why this Drow would have no knowledge of a communal market place, and how such a place even maintained trade with such secrecy. Instead he changed tack. “Sorry, if you were to take the road from Gauntlgrym to the Dark lake?”
Lael’essthrae Xund’lara Torviir
With the mention of her given name by one who had not been given permission to use it Lael eyes narrowed disapprovingly.
Valdasar had sunk into quiet contemplation after Taman’s disappearance. Very little emotion could be seen in the old man’s weathered features but there were signs; the occasional trembling of his grip upon his staff, a shifting of his lips and his eyes had grown glassy with distant thoughts. The mention of Mantol Derith, however, made his eyes snap to Eran.
“The drow who assaulted the Zhentarim in Mantol Derith; they bore a ring of the first house. Can we assume that Gromph Baenre is acting on behalf of his house – or they on his?”
“We cannot assume that anything is the way it would normally be, it is as likely that Gromphs actions were orchestrated by his house, as it is likely that gromph acted of his own accord and the house are not involved at all”
Lael’essthrae Xund’lara Torviir
“The first house is the Tyrant Poisoner’s most beloved. She is at the heart of it all. It makes complete sense she would use them and they in turn be eager to please her and continue to live with her favour. So it has been since the creation of the City of Spiders. I do not see why it is important however.” Lael added onto Vizeran’s words.
Valdasar’s gaze returned to the same indistinct middle-distance as before. “Perhaps you are right, though I believe it is better we understand the breadth of forces arrayed against us. The demon lords will not be our only enemies, and you, Lady Lael, must know better than any of us how dangerous a foe House Baenre will be.” His eyes flickered to Vizeran momentarily. “Present company excepted.”
“We may not have to face the house of Baenre directly. It seems to me that infiltration and deception would be a better course in this matter.” He then considered the consequences. " Either way I suggest we conduct this task last, stealing Gromph’s notes will surely alert Lolths followers to our plans."
When Raddan’s initial response went along the lines of ‘No, that’s a bad idea, but I don’t have a better one,’ Loic visibly winced and turned his head away, so that it would be more difficult to see the anger rising. As the sorcerer continued by explaining how his own experience went, there was no visible evidence of any of it calming the wizard. These were not the things he wanted to hear.
Something in him steadied, however, when he felt a small, plate-covered hand touch his back. Loic’s eyes slid to their corner to regard Lael, and she gave him the three easy words he needed. The wizard began to relax. As he did, the fury in his eyes was quelled and replaced by sadness and longing. Eran added some appreciated reinforcement, and he weakly nodded.
Then, just like that, as fast as Taman had vanished, the topic returned to the progress of the mission. Loic’s eyes widened for a split second in surprise, almost insult, at how easily everyone else had digested what had just happened. He bit his lower lip however and swallowed that anger back down, then fell into a semi-catatonic silence. Mostly, all he heard beyond his own thoughts was the name Baenre.
After a while, he turned his empty gaze to Vizeran. “Do you have a room where I can go collect my thoughts? And perhaps you have some books or notes about the labyrinth I can study?”
You can use any of the guest rooms downstairs, except the one behind the red door that is for ‘special’ guests a cheeky smile appears across his face
Sadly my library does not have much information on the labyrinth other than its location
Fair enough. And thank you, he nodded.
As the wizard turned to leave, he metaphorically tapped on Lael’s brain, telling her that when she had a moment to talk, he had much to tell her. He left the room, dragging his heels, and wandered off to a private region of the beautiful tower.
Raddan didn’t truly listen to the strategic discussion that followed Taman’s abrupt departure and kept his gaze fixed on where the cleric had been. As the minutes ticked by, with Loic looking increasingly distressed, he had to assume the worst; Taman could be gone for some time. As talk of beholders, worms and labyrinths was slung about the room, the sorcerer eyed the little group with silent criticism. So a member of the intrepid band appears to have vanished without a trace and we’re right back down to business are we? While a part of him admired the practicality, something in the primal core of his being recoiled at the easy dismissal. It reminded him all too readily of darker days. He noted that Loic looked equally unimpressed and felt a pang of sympathy. It stood to reason that he and Lael would be most affected by their close friend’s disappearance and he resolved to give them some space. Their situation was a familiar one and he knew better than to interfere.
In the meantime, he did not intend to follow in the verbal footsteps of the others. Taman might well be gone, but that did not mean he would be unreachable. Raddan may not have known the man long, but he’d proven reliable in a fight and with the scale of their newfound task laid bare before them, he did not care for being deprived of an asset. When the drow mentioned a library, Raddan perked up. “This library,” he stated simply, “I’d like to peruse it.” Let the others work on strategy. He had opinions of his own, and time enough to express them. For now, he had other concerns.
Addressing Raddan Vizeran looks confused “for what purpose do you desire to waste time among my library? Time is of the essence”
The mask curled up into a mocking grin. “Well I’m not going to be gardening in there, now am I?” He swept a hand to indicate the other occupants of the room. “You have what you need to plan your little endeavour, my presence will make little difference in the grand scheme of things. Besides, there might be some knowledge lurking in there that we might be able to use. Something you’ve missed,” he said pointedly, “fresh eyes and all that.”
“Yes but what are you looking for? My library has a varied collection”
“Well, I don’t like seeing people vanish without a trace. An origin always has an end, and this shifting between worlds is no different. If one of the books you have goes in to further detail about these… disappearances, I’d prefer to spend some time learning what I can about it. I think the cleric was owed at least that much.” He didn’t add that he had his own, private concerns about the matter. Taman hadn’t been the only one subjected to a walk between the worlds and Raddan couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t happen to him again. If it did, he wanted to be as prepared as he could be.
He points you towards a very large wall “All of the books along this wall are themed around the different planes of existence, if the issues here have ever been documented there is a chance it can be found here”
Eran’s pragmatism seemed to be ill received. It wasn’t like he didn’t worry for the man, but his disappearance could correct itself at any minute, any hour, any week… any year, he told himself. Yet the only sure way Eran could conceive of bringing Taman back permanently, nah prevent this happening to them all, was to complete their mission.
Yet there was more to it than that, his mind was conflicted with his heart. Every fibre in his being wanted to push on, needed to start the hunt. Duon was still alive, after 7 years thinking he was dead, he’d actually been in bondage to that bastard beholder. Only Ilia understood the question he had asked in the library, and still he had not asked what Eran had seen. The pit of his stomach swelled with rage and frustration.
Then guilt swept over him as Raddan clearly wasn’t giving up on the Cleric. He’d promised himself his personal reasons for being here wouldn’t take priority over this mission. Yet things were different now, he never conceived Duon would a have survived; and now his goals and the mission were aligned.
However he knew his needs should not out way Taman’s, yet there was little he could do, he lacked the level of knowledge in Arcana to solve this puzzle. It was the break down of nature itself and he felt useless. Only Loic and Raddan had a chance at resolving Taman’s fate, but he also needed their input for some kind of plan.
Ahhhh. He screamed in his mind. His body flinched with frustration. He clenched his fists, they were still bruised from venting the rage he felt in his room the previous night. He tried to calm himself now, it solved nothing.
Focus on the mission was lost, he knew everyone was dealing with this potential loss. Maybe Raddan was right after all. Better to work alone than to deal with this emotional conflict. He could do nothing but wait and prepare.
Finish your map Vizeran. He sounded defeated and remorseful. “I will study it here… Incase Taman returns to us.” It was all he could do for the man. " Any books you may have on Purple worms or Beholders would also be appreciated." He said with quiet humbly finality, as he watched Taman’s empty seat.