Order of the Spear

The Queen's New Clothes?

Jarom had the information the team needed, and provided food, too. What a strange place this was: a obviously new town, built to provide for the needs and diversions of an army suddenly assembled, made up of people from across the known world and also of races rarely seen in Aynemere.

The slavery was also something none of them were accustomed to – nor comfortable with. Linfors knew that, someone, he needed to do something. But the mission came first, and maybe the mission would enable him to reach this personal goal.

They walked around the town, surveying it, getting an idea as to its size and layout, and detected a tail while doing so – no big deal; no harm done.

The walk to the Queen’s palace/residence/base of operations was uneventful. They passed several small groups of travelers seemingly returning from their destination.

Arriving, they found the scorched, blighted land, the massive stone upwelling of a keep, and saw the massive army encamped. They entered the dark passage, descended, saw 3 of their number get shocked repeatedly until Linfors saw the key to the riddle in the spelling. They passed, descended some more, and found the Queen on her pillows with her thugs.

Queen

Yeah, she was pretty hot. Pretty ferociously mega-hot-erific, actually. The addition of the two half-orc eunuchs…that they could have done without, but creepy midnight army-of-doom queens have their idiosyncrasies, right?

They talked, they negotiated – sort of – and then Osweald thought it would be a good idea to risk getting all of them beaten down by some of the queen’s goons.

The fights were actually short, due to several lucky shots by the team, and the queen’s ‘champions’ fell quickly. Their credibility confirmed, the queen accepted them into her service, impressed by the promise of over 1000 dark dwarf warriors rallying to her banner.

The team had a secret, however…one with a time suspense. Their polymorph potions were going to wear off in under 2 hours…maybe even considerably less…and they needed to get going. They bid their farewells, made plans to bring their bogus army to her service, and took off with as much dignity and speed as they could combine.

How would they get past the guards at the tunnel entrance? What would they do on the road if they were called out? How much time has elapsed since they’d entered the keep – they had experience with going into creepy places and coming out with a disconnect with time in the outside world…

Comments

I think the direct rout would be best. The guards wont know what hit them.
I do have a thought about the netherwylde. Is it 2 way? Meaning, can they activate the portal on the other side even if we break the controls on ours? What happens if we destroy the archway on our end? Note to self, learn as much about the functions of the netherwylde, while operational before we destroy it.

The Queen's New Clothes?
 

Meta: we could talk, in relatively hushed tones, about this as we walk back to the tunnel entrance.

“I’ve no idea if we collapse one end or the other if the whole thing will break down. I think, once we get back to that complex, we should quickly explore the other tunnels and see what they look like – I mean, what does a ‘dead’ netherwylde tunnel look like? Maybe we’ll be able to find something in common between those tunnels, and then do it to the one that’s still active,” Linfors stated emphatically.

“That army is more, in one force, than the entire army of Aynemere – and in one van! If they’re able to get through that tunnel, and organize, they will roll over every piecemeal local militia, Watch, and army unit put in its way. There’s no way to stand against that army in battle – the only way we win is to never fight that battle in the first place!”

The Queen's New Clothes?
 

Osweald listened to his brothers question Jarom, and Jarom mentioning that he was actually from Aynamere. But, his family had been gone for about a generation, and he even started to provide names of other Kingdoms that were rallying to the Queen’s call to arms… but realized what was happening and seemed to lose track of which Kingdoms were coming. Osweald quickly realized the conversation was beginning to seem too “friendly”, so he finished his drink and slammed the mug down. He rose quickly, and donned the helm of the Flayer Slayer then headed for the door.

Their circuit through the town showed that it was put rapidly thrown together, and the slave trade was alive and well. The Fourth Squad’s alert senses noticed a tail through out the town. Upon reaching the gates, Linfors turned about, made eye contact with the tail and bid them adieu sort of implying “We had you on our radar the whole time.”

As Linfors recounts, the road to the Queen’s lair was pretty uneventful, except for the hot slaves on the cart. But that’s just wrong, so that makes it even hotter… wait, I mean, that is just wrong so they should be freed. We will come back to free them!

They walked through the dell, then rose up on the ridge to view the forest of stumps. Rising out of the ground, a cave opening looked much like a skull that seemed to be screaming up to the heavens. There were burned crater like areas all around, as if a dragon had repeatedly burned the surface of the cave area. Osweald thought he saw some dots connecting in a bigger picture, and then it hit him like he had had WAY too much to drink. The sulfur smell made him dizzy, so he stepped away from view, and sat down to clear his head. He pulled his waterskin attempting to wash it down, but then the mutton he’d heaten came out like an erupting volcano. Wiping his mouth, he felt perfect! Taking a swig from the waterskin, he put it away while he and his companions continued the trek into the mouth of doom.

Along the way, there were sconces or alcoves filled with freshly laid candles. Cohen identified them as shrines, but not sure to who. They began to feel as though there was an eery presence, or they were being watched. Shrugging off the feeling, the four continued.

Linfors recounts the shocking barrier well, and he did in fact figure out the inscription in Undercommon meant “penitent sole” not “penitent soul”. Although they found there way through, they came upon a room with constellations on the ceiling and hanging cages with some prisoners still living. Allowing Cohen a moment to sketch out some of the unknown constellations, Cohen made it a point to tease the prisoners by conjuring water in their outstretched palms that seemed to just drip on the floor.

The chamber containing the Queen is once again explained well, as Jacen plays the part of Herald and Yarngrim, he announces Arngrim Cruthnal. Osweald, playing the part of Cruthnal approached the screen encircling the Queen, and reaches to open it when it opens for itself. The Queen bade them all sit and be comfortable, while Osweald stated in Duergar that he would be comfortable standing, Linfors started to sit down, then hopped back up noticing that Osweald playing Cruthnal was not sitting. But Osweald said his followers may have a seat, motioning to his companions, they did not understand Duergar, but they realized the motion and eagerly sat down on the cushions. Cohen began sketching the Queen, and then the constellations on the ceiling. The negotiations began in Duergar, where Osweald asked the Queen if she may feel more comfortable speaking another tongue. The Queen graciously offered that Cruthnal speak any tongue he felt comfortable in, and Osweald changed to Undercommon to at least allow Jacen to understand what was being discussed, but not seem conspicuous. The Queen made it a point to ask how many troops he could provide, and Osweald confirms upwards of 1500 (going off what he knew of his understanding of a Duergar Warlord equalling it to surface force strengths). This raised her eyebrow, but she otherwise did not seem alerted. She stated the Duergar would be able to take as much Spoils that could be carried back to the underworld. Osweald confirmed that she would not attempt a takeover of the underworld, and the Queen stated her interest was in the overworld only. The Queen moved onto the “test”, and Osweald attempting to be sly to the Queen, switch the dialect to Common which most Duergar would not speak. Asking the Queen if she did not trust their abilities, then what type of test would it be. She rose from her couch, and invited them to follow her.

The four companions walked into a cavern that served as a training ground for her army, possibly her elite shock troops considering how many troops were out camped on the plain outside. While Linfors did in fact whimper quietly to himself, the team did in fact show their effectiveness in battle. At the completion of the two melees, the four lined up and at once noticed a problem. The Mind Flayer was showing great interest in them, Osweald turned to his companions and warned them to clear their minds and focus on the task at hand. The Mind Flayer failed to penetrate all but Jacen’s mind, who fell to his knees and began to mumble… in Common! OMG, Osweald began to flip out, the whole ruse was about to fall completely the F*(k apart. He turned and attempted to speak sternly to the Vos, the Illithid explaining this was not part of the deal, and their loyalty would NOT be tested in this manner. Unfortunately, due to his age, his fear, or the fact that his friend may be experiencing a Psionic attack that may kill him or permanently disable him, the whole intimidation check came out like a crackling whiny bitch. Osweald felt like he was suffocating, he grabbed the hilt of his Falchion and willed the sword through the air into the Mind Flayer. Standing there, eyes wide, he had thrown a perfect shot, he slayed it. He immediately turned to check Jacen, who was recovering well, he and Cohen lifted him. Turning, he found Linfors offering up his falchion in a very reverent manner as a soldier would to their commander. “HUA!” answered “HUA!” The Queen visibly upset at first, calmed down. Bains, the Queen’s consort standing with his arms crossed began shaking his head, then looked around and began clapping at their performance. The Queen then mentioned “A title well earned, the Flayer Slayer.” At this point the great gift was given, and it was confirmed, the Duergar were to arrive in two months time. At which point, her army would march through the Netherwylde to begin their assault. Osweald, still playing Cruthnal, assured her the Duergar would be there, and a caravan that would carry their spoils back to the Underworld.

As they attempted to hurry up through the caverns, back up the road, and through the portal of the Netherwyldes before the potions wore off, it all came swirling back to him, they had felt an eery presence while they were first coming down the caverns. They were speaking freely in Common, and then Cohen had produced water for the prisoners. While this act could be considered cruel since it just ran through their fingers, it could also be considered kind as he was providing them water. Their haste truly was warranted as they could be apprehended by some of the Queen’s agents. He urged his companions to make haste, but also to jog their memories and try to remember the details of their journey. There was something they were missing, the bigger picture was there but just out of focus…

First off, the Netherwylde could very well serve as a choke point to cut the army’s transfer to this side, so a contingent could be set to guard the entrance instead of collapsing it.

The Queen's New Clothes?
 

Linfors closes his eyes and sees an alien image in his mind’s eye: a portal in a bright, white hallway. It is open. Armored men – white armored men – are rushing through the door, one at a time, and are falling to singular bolts of blinding light.

He knows not what it means, only that it seems odd that armored men would fall with just one shot, and that their armor must be pretty crappy. Perhaps some of the Queen’s troops are equipped as such?

The Queen's New Clothes?
 

Linfors agreed with Osweald: others needed to know what was in the offing, the supposed time table, and the forces that were arrayed against Aynemere. They would need to get back through the portal as quickly as possible, and then Linfors would set out ahead to bring news back to Ralspur, and beyond. The others would stay behind to seal, or collapse the portal if needed, or figure out a way to control access to it.

The Queen's New Clothes?
 

Out of character: We definitely had some heroic moments for being Teenagers…

The Queen's New Clothes?
 

For certain.

The Queen's New Clothes?
Sir_Anton

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