The Blind Raven

Day 19 - The Beginning And The End

Siobhan ropes himself up to be lowered into the water reservoir in Meridian Keep. Nearby, a guard stands over the unconscious assistant attempting to wake him. He seems relieved that the boy is alive, but still concerned that he won’t wake up. Sitting on the side of the road is an engineer, distraught at seeing his friend fall to what is currently assumed to be his death within the well. Another guard informs the townsfolk who have come to see the commotion that they need to step back and away from the well.

Lelouche pretends to aid the guard in waking the assistant, and requests that the guard go and get water for the boy. The guard, realizing that his comrade is busy with the townsfolk, tells Lelouche to keep the boy away and that he’ll be right back. Lissar takes the opportunity to steal the boy’s coin pouch with 29g, leaving one gold piece for the boy.

Siobhan finishes tying himself up and Reng loops the rope to the well hook before moving behind a horse tie to stabilize himself. He begins slowly lowering Siobhan into the well. As dark as the city was, the well blocks out even the starlight and Siobhan uses Mage Light on his staff to illuminate the inside. While being lowered, he can’t see much, but as he reaches the floor of the well, he begins to make out shapes along the floor. A hooded figure the size of a child is standing, facing away from him. In front of the figure is a large metal orb sitting on the ground.

Siobhan calls to the figure, but it stands silently without moving. He demands the figure turn around, and it slowly turns to reveal a young girl with most of her face concealed that Siobhan does not recognize. She asks what he’s doing here, and Siobhan tells her that they’re looking for a powerful arcane source that they believe to be within the well. The girl remarks that this is a funny place to go looking for something like that. He tells her it’s an odd place for a little girl as well, and she replies, “I suppose you’re right about that.”

He asks what she knows about the power within the well. She tells him that she feels she’s starting to understand, and that he’s come to her in a transitional time. Perhaps she can answer at least a few of his questions. He asks about the orb, which he then begins to investigate. He notices a number of runes along the outside of the orb. She tells him that she doesn’t know much about it, only that she keeps waking up next to it. Siobhan attempts to lift the orb, but it is a bit too heavy for him to get off the ground. He calls up for help from Reng, who slides down the rope to join him. The Hooded Child recognizes him and asks him if he’s come to play another game.

Up in the town square, the guard yells down to ask if Nathan, the engineer, is alright. Siobhan confirms that the man is dead, and beyond help. Reng offers to tie the body to be lifted to the surface, and begins doing so at the guards request. Lelouche aids the guard in lifting the body to the surface, where it is laid next to the well. The guard goes to find a team to move the body. Lelouche loops the rope back up and heads down the well to join Siobhan and Reng. The girl says hello to him, and he asks her name. She tells him that she doesn’t know it, and he asks if he can call her Laura. She immediately flinches at the name, and begs him not to call her that. He agrees, deciding to get back to the topic at another time.

Lelouche asks her if it’s alright to take the orb from the well. The girl says that they’re more than welcome, but she’ll probably end up coming with them. He asks her how she gets out of the well, and she explains that she gets out “the way everyone else does, I guess” before disappearing. Up at ground level, she appears in front of Gralamin and Lissar, asking if they’d like to play a game. Lissar ignores her, to which the girl replies that she’s no fun, turning to Gralamin with a hopeful look on her face. He agrees to play with her, and she produces three pebbles and hands them to him. “All you have to do is hit me,” she says, before disappearing and re-appearing on top of a nearby building.

Reng checks the weight of the orb, confirming that he can lift it if need by. He ties it up using the rope, so that it can be lifted. Lelouche investigates the orb’s markings and recognizes the runes as a locking mechanism of some sort, though he isn’t sure whether it is to lock something in or out. In the town square, Gralamin manages to beat the girl at her own game, and she returns to the well, defeated.

Lelouche and Siobhan work together to disguise the orb as a geode so that they can sneak it back to the study. The guard returns with two others carrying a stretcher, and the dead engineer is carried away. Lissar helps the guard lift the disguised orb to the surface, and it slams down on the cobblestone next to the well, raising the guard’s interest but fortunately not his suspicion.

Reng takes the opportunity to study the walls of the remaining well. He can tell that the markings along the wall are a ritual, but it has been scaled up to the point where the marks he can see are too small a piece to identify the spell. Lelouche recognizes that it is some sort of amplifier for what was most likely a ritual carved into the floor of the well, which has now been blown to pieces and would be unrecognizable. Siobhan, Reng, and Lelouche climb to the surface, confident that the orb could lead them to some answers that they won’t find at the bottom of a well.

Reng attempts to take the orb, but the guard, recognizing it as a geode, expresses that it may be an important part of the investigation into what happened in the well. Siobhan manages to weave a convincing tale that he was once a rock collector, and that the very strange looking geode is actually a rather common natural phenomenon at the bottom of wells, and that he’d like to have it displayed in his chambers. The guard seems convinced, and tells them to hurry away with it and he’ll look the other way in return for all of their help. Reng carries it back with the group to Francis’s study. On the way, Lelouche recognizes that the girl has her arms crossed and appears a bit grumpy, having lost at her game with Gralamin.

Reaching the church, Lelouche notices how reluctant Siobhan is to enter, even through the secret side entrance heading the the study. He asks Siobhan, who only replies that it’s a long story and he’d be happy to tell him all about it after all this business with Sandar is over with. As the group stands outside of the church, they notice that their death necklaces and the signet ring they acquired dissolve to dust and float into the sky. Looking up, they notice a rather large amount of similar dust is heading toward the castle. Lelouche summons the gray raven and asks her what is going on. She seems to have no idea about the dust until she looks up, telling him that that is a bit odd and she would go investigate. She snaps her fingers and disappears for a few seconds, returning after a brief moment to tell them, “Looks like there’s a bit of trouble. We should get inside quickly.”

The group lift the disguised orb up into the loft of the church, carrying it through to Francis in hopes that he can tell them a bit about it. Hearing the commotion as they struggle to get it through the crawl-space, Francis asks them if they are alright, and helps them pull the “geode” up into the study. Touching the orb, Francis immediately realizes it is disguised and asks them what it is. Siobhan and Lelouche drop the Prestidigitation and the orb is revealed with it’s runes. Francis asks Reng to place it up on a nearby table so that he can look closer at it.

Melchior sits in the corner reading a book. Lelouche gets his attention and points over to Laura, but Melchior reveals he can’t see her. When asked about him, Laura says that she remembers his face, but can’t remember who he is. She seems pained by the attempt to recall how she knows him. She begins to get frustrated when Siobhan harasses her for information, and she hides behind Gralamin in an attempt to get away from the questions. Lelouche carefully explains to her that she knew Melchior before her time in the well, which confuses her and she goes silent.

Lelouche asks Francis about the orb, and Francis begins studying it. He explains that there are two distinct rune types running on separate axis on the orb. One seems to lock something within the orb, and the other is a ritual symbol of some sort he doesn’t recognize. He admits he hasn’t slept much lately and he doesn’t know if he can figure it out today, but he says he’ll look into it.

Melchior hurriedly looks through a nearby bookshelf, interrupting the conversation to exclaim that he’s found something. He pulls a book from the shelf and shuffles through a number of pages, showing the book to Francis. He asks him to perform the Dispel Magic ritual on him to get rid of whatever curse is upon him that disallows him from seeing Laura. He begs Francis to do so, but Francis explains that without knowing the curse, he can’t dispel it. Melchior seems defeated, almost coming to tears. He slumps down on a chair in the corner, muttering to himself.

The gray ring on Siobhan’s hand begins to glow, and he activates it, asking the gray raven if there is anything she can do to help. She explains her ability, which is to grant them a form of luck that either exists in a major form for one desire to be fulfilled, or in a minor form over a longer period (nearly a day). She explains that if they use the former, it would most likely solve their current crisis with Melchior, but it may be a waste of the power when the full weight of their current situation is taken into account. Siobhan decides to hold off, regardless of Melchior’s pleading.

Francis calls the group over to explain that he believes he’s figured out the other rune pattern on the orb. It seems that they are linking runes, connecting the orb to another ritual of some sort, most likely the one that was broadcast from the town water supply. He adds that it seems the link is through a water medium, and that it was strengthened when people came into contact with the water, drinking or washing with it.

The group ponders on what this might mean, and Reng comes to the realization that the surge in power may be because of all of the cult members currently “interacting” with the water. The group realizes this may mean that the surge is going to last a rather long time, and Francis explains that the power would be nearly unlimited in that sense. Somewhere, something is collecting the arcane power, and that object must be destroyed to stop the power from being channeled. Until then, whatever purpose the power served would be a force to be feared. In addition, since the well was leaking the power, he explains that it must not be properly funneled and as such could be a general hazard to the public.

The group discusses their next move, and the gray raven speaks up to tell them that the issue at the castle needs to be handled. They head out to see what is going on, heading east to the main road and the north up toward the castle entrance. Lelouche stops the group before they reach the main castle gate, sensing a disturbing amount of arcane energy in front of them. Reaching out, he can feel a bubble of energy growing very slowly, centering on the tower that is at the center of the dust storm. Laura appears next to him and asks what he’s doing.

She tells the group that she remembers Melchior now, and that more of her memories from before her time in the well are coming back every second. When they mention Sandar she flinches, but admits she is starting to remember him as well. She also remembers that her name is Laura, and tells Lelouche that he can call her that even though it still pains her. She attempts to pass into the bubble in front of them, but falls over in pain, and has to be dragged back onto the other side by Gralamin. They decide they need to head inside without her, and they tell her to wait back at the study. She makes them promise to return back alive, and heads to the church.

Rushing into the energy bubble, they find themselves in front of the castle gates but no guards are around. They head inside the inner courtyard and see only three guards where they expected to see dozens. The lone three guards are running from the west tower toward the castle, so they follow them in. The castle gates, usually closed at all times except for processions and royal visits, are wide open. Following the guards, the group moves through the castle and out the eastern gate, reaching the eastern courtyard. It is instantly clear where the guards had gotten to, as they are all in the eastern courtyard along with a number of nobility. Surrounding the east tower, the throng of people are trying to break down the doorway with two separate battering rams, but having no luck.

Gralamin, thinking quickly, rushes through the crowd and slams his Knock ritual scroll into the door. Instantly an Arcane Lock wall shatters and as the battering rams push forward one last time, the doors crash open. Among the crowd, a few people can be heard shouting to rush in and save the king. A massive amount of people are attempting to rush up the tower steps, and the group tries their hardest to push to the front. Up ahead, screams and the feeling of intense heat cause a number of stops, but the guard captain yells to keep moving and the crowd continues on.

Reaching the second level, the guards can be seen creating a phalanx up the steps heading to the third level. They seem to be stopped by a large amount of fire coming down the steps, and the crowd is at a stand-still. Lissar notices a strange pattern to the fire, and notes that it is unnatural and most likely not from any creature she’s ever heard of. Reng pushes through to the phalanx and attempts to assist them, and manages to shove from the back until a number of the guards fall forward into the fire, revealing it to be a hallucinatory psychic trap. The guard captain shouts to move forward, and the phalanx moves to the top of the steps, pushing over a large wooden frame that held the spell rune for the illusion.

Reaching the third level, a massive psychic power hits the group, but Lelouche, Gralamin, and Reng manage to shake it off. Siobhan and Lissar find themselves standing before an adult dragon, who begins slaughtering the crowd while casting a fear upon anyone it sees. Lelouche recognizes it as another illusion and attempts to reach Siobhan to break the spell over him. Guards begin slaughtering one another, seemingly an effect of the illusion.

Lissar attempts to escape and manages to somersault over the wooden frame to cover. Feeling a comfort come over herself at her escape, she begins to notice the guards attacking each other. Peeking over the frame, she recognizes the illusion and it fades in front of her. Siobhan, wracked by the fear effect, attacks Lelouche in his altered state. Lelouche attempts to knock him to his senses, but only manages to hurt Siobhan before being thrown off. In an act of desperation, Siobhan casts Invisibility on himself and hides. Feeling a small amount of comfort in not being able to be seen, he begins to look around and sees the carnage unfolding in reality. The dragon looks directly into his eyes and breathes a large breath, blowing a large blast toward him. The illusion fades as the fire fails to harm him, and Siobhan wakes up.

The group look around at the chaos of the room, noting that most noblemen have fallen and many of the guards are dying as well. The guard captain attempts to rally the men, but realizes it is futile and leads three of his guard up the steps in an attempt to find some way to break the illusion on the next floor. The group begins heading up the stairs as they hear a large shattering sound from the floor above, and the remaining guards wake from the illusion, and begin checking the wounded. Heading up to the fourth floor, the group finds the captain standing over a shattered stone of some sort that seems to have been the source of the illusion. Lelouche is asked by the guard captain if his men survived, but is told that only a few remain, and they are wounded. The guard captain sends his three men down to help the others, and they give him a confirmation, revealing his name to be Content Not Found: captain-romera. He points to the steps and asks the group to help him finish this. They follow him up the steps to the top floor.

Reaching the top of the steps, the group finds an iron gate blocking their path. On the other side, Sandar‘s voice can be heard: "It’s all over, isn’t it?". Siobhan, still invisible, throws his Mage Voice to create a booming reply: “IT’S ALL OVER, SANDAR”. The guard captain organizes with Reng to push the gate together, and they manage to crack the stone that it holding it in place, pushing it forward and out of the way. The group finds itself standing in the top floor of the eastern tower. The room appears to be a sort of study similar to Francis’s, but with the tools and implements being centered around Warlock spells instead of Wizard abilities.

Sandar stands on the other end of the room, and gives them a defeated look. A large chandelier hangs above them, with a peculiar orb in the center that appears to be swirling with energy. It seems to be some sort of channeling element from what Siobhan and Lelouche can tell, but like nothing they’ve ever seen or felt before. Sandar makes no sudden movements, instead exclaiming how odd it feels to have all of his work be for nothing, having everything taken from you until the only thing left is your life. He tells them that he feels that the end has finally come, and does not appear to want to fight them. The group is taken aback.

Siobhan, still invisible, walks up behind Lelouche and signals to give him the necklace, which Lelouche does, sneaking it behind him. It disappears into the shroud of invisibility and Siobhan steps to the side, walking slowly around and toward Sandar. Looking straight into his eyes, Sandar appears to see him even through the shroud. Bowing his head, he admits defeat, saying, “It’s time to end this.”. Siobhan waits, stunned. Sandar goes on to say that he’s done many things he isn’t proud of, things that he would never have imagined at the start of all of this. Lelouche asks Sandar what Laura would think of all of this, and Sandar replies that he hopes she would never have to see what had become of him, though he did it all for her.

The green and gray ring both begin to glow. Lelouche activates his ring and The Green Raven (Olani) appears, but she immediately falls to her knees in pain. Lelouche summons her back into the ring. Sandar explains that the force blocking the queen from seeing inside of the tower, and now creating a growing bubble heading toward the city, also keeps the ravens out. He implies that it also keeps Laura out, and prevents him from seeing her. The green raven tells Lelouche psychically that her power can still be activated. Siobhan summons The Gray Raven (Shayla) out and then back into the ring as well, speaking to her in his mind about her power.

Lelouche asks Sandar what he would do to see Laura one last time, revealing that he has the power to allow it. Sandar begs him to do so, but Lelouche asks if the storm can be stopped. Sandar reveals that the storm is only a side-effect of the well runes being broken and the underground flooding, and even he did not know how to stop it or what was going to happen. Lelouche asks instead to know what Sandar was planning in full. Sandar walks to a nearby desk and opens a drawer, pulling out a small tome and handing it to Lelouche. “This will tell you all that I could explain,” he says. Lelouche hides the tome within his shroud earring and seems to accept the trade.

Sandar asks to see Laura, and Lelouche extends the request to the green raven. She opens a one-way window to the past, showing highlights of Sandar’s time with Laura. The memories reveal a softer side of Sandar, and a happier time for Laura, before the events leading up to her death. Eventually the window dissipates and the group looks back to Sandar, who has fallen to his knees crying. Siobhan begins to worry that they need to act quickly as the storm is growing, even chipping a nearby window, but the rest of the group is distracted giving Sandar peace, knowing that he is about to be judged by The Controller. Siobhan asks the gray raven for her power, and she offers him the piece of advice he needs: Destroy the orb to end all of this.

Siobhan extends this information to the group, but Reng speaks up, demanding that Sandar tell him how Orcus was involved in all of this, since he still desired his end goal of becoming an undead lich. Sandar looks on him, his expression changing to one of pity, and admits that Orcus is dead. When he was coming into his powers, he chose Orcus as a patsy since he was “the easiest demon lord to use when convincing a large number of people to follow you.” He apologizes, saying that Orcus will not return any time soon and therefore Reng’s final wish would not be fulfilled.

In a rage, Reng demands to know where The Wand of Orcus is being kept. Sandar moves to a pedestal in the middle of the room. His hands begin to glow red and he slams his fist down on the stone, breaking it apart to reveal the wand sitting in an instrument that seems to be channeling it’s power. Reng walks up and grabs it, threatening Sandar before coming to his senses. He throws the wand up to the orb above them, and it shatters the glass, releasing a maelstrom of arcane power within. Time slows as the runes on the orb burn away, breaking the god blocker ritual.

The power rushes out of the orb, and time slows to a near-stop as the group accepts their fate, but the power stops a few feet above them and redirects out to the walls. The group looks up to see The Raven Queen, standing tall above them and holding her hand to the power flowing above them, forming a shield. The Eyes of the Raven stand close to their queen, and Laura is among them in her black hood. The power fades and the storm dissipates until they are left within the room, now destroyed from three feet up and above.

Content Not Found: captain-romera appears to have been beheaded by the energy, and falls to the ground dead. The queen looks over to him and blesses his body, “An unfortunate casualty.” She immediately turns to Sandar, who appears for the first time to show genuine fear. She moves at incredible speed, appearing behind him and breaking his left arm, then throwing him by the leg into a wall nearby. The group are in shock as she stands over him, placing her hand on his chest and crushing multiple ribs as he gasps for air. She stands him up and grips his clavicle, breaking it in two as the group stands silent. Sandar attempts to scream, but only gasps for air.

The group attempt to speak up, begging her not to kill Sandar even after all he had done. She grabs Sandar by the neck and brings him over to Siobhan, dropping him to the floor in a heap. Though he is invisible, the queen stares directly at him and sighs, saying “Even I can’t kill him. He is fate bound to The Controller. Do what you must.” Laura is sobbing uncontrollably, now terrified of the events unfolding in front of her. She hides behind Gralamin.

Lelouche beckons her to come out and say her goodbyes to Sandar. He explains that all of his actions were for her, and that this is her last chance to see him. She comes out and kneels by Sandar, asking him why he did all that he did, but he can’t speak to respond. Reng is overcome from the rage of the wand’s control and picks it back up, attempting to kill Sandar with it. The queen grabs it mid-swing, opening a portal and dropping it through. She tells Reng that she will forget his attempt to defy her, because she knows the effect the wand can have over mortals. Reng feels a weight drop from him as the wand is relinquished.

As a last act of mercy, the group signal to Siobhan to put the necklace onto Sandar. As it slips over his head, Sandar looks into Laura’s eyes and in an instant he disappears with the necklace. Laura falls to the ground sobbing. A bitter moment of silence fills the room. The queen pulls Reng to the side. Recognizing his defiant acts against the cult and his long history of fighting them before even the group came to be, she makes him an offer. Although she can not appease his desires to become undead, she can offer a spot as one of the demigods under her service, so that he may fulfill his dream of fighting for all eternity. He accepts, and she grants him his power, the ability to make any mortal being feel intense fear. She tells him to settle his affairs and then to come to her when he is ready.

The queen offers the rest of the group the ability to be fate-bound to adventure. She tells them that she can assure their desire for meaning and purpose is always fulfilled by destiny calling to them. So long as they desire adventure, they will find it. Lelouche remarks that he already feels that way, but accepts along with the rest of the group. She places a binding upon the group as an entity, that whoever joins it shall be fate-bound in the same way, and whoever chooses the leave will be free to live a life of peace and harmony.

Siobhan asks the queen if, in reward for his deeds, he could see his son again, having lost him to tragedy when he was only seven. The queen looks upon Siobhan with pity, saying that she can not abide by his child’s soul returning to the mortal realm. She can offer only that his son would be waiting for him when his new life finds its end. Siobhan sits down in somber silence.

Finally, the queen walks to Laura, who is attempting to compose herself. She explains that Laura’s time is fleeting now that the power is dissipating. She will feel a temporary rush of memory and the ability to interact with the mortal realm, but soon she will move on to the next plane of existence. The queen offers her a place among the ravens, and the ability to serve her and live an immortal life as such. Laura goes silent for a second, finally speaking up to say that she believes she has spent too long in this place. She says that she says her time was long ago and she just wants it all to be over. She asks to see the people she cares about one last time before the end, and the queen tells her to hurry. The queen accepts this, disappearing with the ravens. Laura grasps Gralamin’s hand, but when he turns to her she’s gone as well.

Lissar, noting that they are now fate-bound to a life of adventure, jars the group to their senses and tells them to begin looting the room of whatever they can find, seeing as they’ll have to get out of their quickly. She removes Content Not Found: captain-romera‘s equipment as the group begins to pack up the remaining instruments and tomes around the room. Lelouche begins reading Sandar’s journal tome as they head down the steps.

0 EXP from battle + 400 EXP from role-play = 400 EXP total (12600 EXP total)
The Wand of Orcus has been returned to hiding by The Raven Queen. Sandar Meloris has been defeated and the cult is destroyed, with only a few fringe groups existing within the kingdom, now without leadership or purpose.

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