Part 48: The yellow face, it burns our eyes
Chapter 35 - The yellow face, it burns our eyes
Alright, so we left the Underdark and entered the ruined temple. Killed some drow along the way, just because we felt like being thorough about the minor genocide.
Then we managed to get OUT of the Underdark proper.
You should not be in this area! Are you a collaborator? Have you betrayed the surface world to the devils below?
My name is Asim. I have fought through the Drow to find Irenicus!
You know of Irenicus? You will speak with Elhan, immediately. He will determine your relationship with the fiend!
By all means. If this Elhan can tell me of Irenicus I am very eager to meet him.
Your fate will be decided shortly. You will remain under guard until Elhan sees you. Make no move; you will be watched closely.
Yes... welcome. I'll have you know I do not trust you. I have no reason to trust you. I do not feel that I *have* to trust you. No doubt the same applies from your perspective.
I will be happy to aid you while on my own search for Jon Irenicus.
I see. You mention some very interesting names, names you could not know unless you were enemies of our enemies... or their friends. I am undecided. Elhan will see to you. He will make sure you are comfortable, and that you reveal what you must of yourself. He is experienced and... and he has knowledge of the enemy. Mind that you obey him. Regardless of your intent, if you attack ANY of my elves here, I will have you killed on the spot. We are legion, rest assured.
Thank you for proving friendly. I was not looking forward to another fight.
Yes, well, I am here to determine exactly what it is you *were* looking for. A battle may yet be warranted. I shall keep this brief, as I have little time to waste on you. A few questions are all I need, regardless.
Ask what you will. I have nothing to hide from you.
I will ask some things of you, and you will speak what you know. My sages will detect any falsehood. They are very good at that sort of thing. Now then, something simple and direct to begin with. You emerged from the home of the Drow. Were you fleeing or are you in league with them?
I left them bloody and battered. I did not flee.
I concur. Truth.
A truth. Well, a good start. You are currently not an ally of the Drow. This tells me nothing of your motives though. Let us continue. A name, then, that you may know something of. Irenicus. Do you know of him?
I battled my way through the Underdark seeking his black heart! Yes, I know him!
No doubt at all, on both answers.
Well, that is somewhat reassuring. Your bloodlust certainly illustrates your true feelings about him. This has put me more at ease. Whatever manner of creature you are, we are on the same side in this instance at least.
It is as I told you. Why wouldn't you believe me to begin with?
You are certainly less of a threat than I first imagined, but do not think you are welcome as of yet. This area is still at risk, and I will not take chances. For now, I will apprise you of the situation, and you will realize why travel in this area is to be restricted. You might have received a warmer welcome, but Irenicus has triggered the strongest of emotions where e'er he has tread.He has stepped beyond all bounds of decency, and our very city is under the weight of his thumb. Suldanessellar is simply gone.
Irenicus is the most vile of villains if he dared destroy a whole city! I can't believe that, and I have believed some amazing things, let me tell you!
It has only been concealed, but we cannot penetrate the magics that have hidden it. We are forced to remain here, pestered by Drow while supplies falter.
I see. You were likely drawn out to protect the temple that now lacks a guardian.
Yes, he knows much of this.
It would seem your travels have given you quite a bit of insight into the plans Irenicus has made. I wonder if you might be of service to us.
I might be. If you think you can trust me.
You obviously bear no love for Irenicus, making you the enemy of our enemy. Classically speaking, this might make you our friend. And even if you are not, you cannot reach Irenicus without helping us. He is untouchable, save for one possibility. Within the temple was an artifact of great power: the Rhynn Lanthorn. It is an ancient lantern, etched with the oldest of runes. The Lanthorn is attuned to the Elven nation, and no magic can bar its return to elven lands. We could simply walk to Suldanessellar if we had possession of it. Someone stole the relic when the temple fell to the Drow. Obviously it was a servant of Irenicus capitalizing on the chaos of the battle. We have not been able to determine where the thief went, despite the best efforts of our sages. It makes me think that the Lanthorn is no longer in elven territory.
It must have been Bodhi. Only she would have been trusted with such a thing.
Stop that, already!
Bodhi... hmm, you may know more than we about this situation after all. I propose we exchange our services.
It would help if I knew what was really going on here.
I cannot say more than I have. Perhaps if I had access to the city I would have insight, but as it stands, I am in the same situation you are. The attack came without warning, born in the mind of a human we did not know. This was not in the realm of possibility, and it remains as such. He has dealt with Drow, defiled our temple, and violated our city. His name is to be spit and spoken of as rarely as possible. He is all that elves are not! If you know how to find the treacherous servant of this fiend, I suggest that you do it. You seek Irenicus, we seek Irenicus; to help us is to help yourself. Find the Lanthorn. Seek outside elven lands in whatever location you think an important servant of Irenicus would be. Only then will we reach this man.
I will need supplies, and I might need help facing Bodhi.
We cannot march on human territory. As great as our problems are, they would only get worse if we appeared to be sending agents into the cities of Amn.
Without your help our task will be easier said than done, and I know how easy it is to say things.
You have traveled extensively; return to the groups you have already encountered and ask their aid. I am sure you will find some among them to help you. They need not know the nature of the emergency, only that a great evil must be routed. The less who know of the shame brought by Irenicus, the better.
I will do what I can, though Bodhi is very strong. Have you holy water and stakes?
I have such things. The water is exceptionally potent and will prove effective against those that wronged the temple. The wrath of elven gods is in each vial. It sounds as though you know the nature of the creature you must face. Your service is now doubly appreciated.
I'm sure it will. I will set to my task immediately.
We have talked long. I will make sure the guards know you are free to come and go. All speed to you, Asim.
He supplied us with stakes and holy water. The little bit of drow equipment we had left had turned into adamantine dust when we stepped out into the daylight.
As most people know, if you have Drizzt's equipment or are a Drizzt impersonator with a reputation below 12, he attacks you.
Blast it, boy, I may be old but me memory has not left me head just yet! And we would not even have to look for it had Wulfgar not knocked it out of me hand!
I did no such thing, dwarf.
But ye did, me boy! Ye were not looking where ye were flying about in the battle, and I were too distracted by the trolls to run after it. And then I forgot that ye even did it, after.
Well, of course we be trying to help ye find it, but all Drizzt was wondering was ---
He be wondering whether I have a wit left in me head, girl! And I tell ye we'll find me hammer soon enough, I'll not leave it fer goblins to steal. Hmph.
Umm... be that as it may, Bruenor, Drizzt... we've got company. Maybe they found your pretty little hammer, Bruenor.
What is this, my raven? Another group of adventurers, hardened with experience and on their way to another fete, no doubt? Are we going to fight, do you think?
Ooh, another drow! I begin to see them everywhere, ever since the Underdark! They are so vicious, even Boo cowers. What will we do, Asim?
One more comment on me hammer, Rumblebelly, and ye'll be the first it squishes when I gets it back!
Peace, my friends, there is no need for us to fight over this. Ho there, travelers! I am Drizzt Do'Urden, most recently of Ten Towns. Are you friend or foe?
I am a friend, Drizzt. I have heard of you.
Well met, then, friend. Tell me, have you perhaps seen a, ah... a pink war hammer in the vicinity during your travels?
Blast ye, Drizzt, me hammer be not PINK!!
Well, you have to admit, Bruenor... since Cirine cast that enchantment on it, it *has* been glowing a little on the pinkish side...
It be RED! RED, I tell ye!! Call it pink again, halfling, and ye'll have yerself a one-way ticket to the Abyss!!
I've been there. It was nothing special.
Red, then. Might you have seen something like it, stranger?
No, I haven't.
Moradin's breath! It must be about here somewhere!!
We'll look for it a while longer then, Bruenor, have no fear. We are not expected back in Ten Towns for a fortnight, yet. Tell me, though, stranger... have we met before? I feel as though your face is familiar, but I cannot attach a time or place to it. Should I know you?
We met only briefly. I helped you defeat some gnolls near Baldur's Gate.
That was you? Glad I am to meet you again, friend, it is good to see others of decent nature travel these roads, especially with all the rumors of danger. If you are in need of assistance I will be glad to offer it. If not, I will wish you well and we shall be on our way back to the far north.
I have a proposal for you, Drizzt, if you will wait for a moment.
A proposal? Very well, stranger... I have no objections to hearing you out. If I can assist you, I will.
I am Asim and I seek to defeat a vampire in Athkatla too powerful to face alone. Will you help?
I had heard rumors of this creature, but I also heard that she and her cohorts were destroyed. Are you claiming that this is untrue, that she yet exists?
I was the one who destroyed her guild, but she got away. She has returned now, and is stronger even than before.
I have had experience with such creatures in the past, and I know well their power. If what you say is true we cannot allow it to continue to exist. I will join you in your battle, Asim, although there are things that we must do before that time. Where does this creature reside in Athkatla?
In the crypts beneath the Graveyard District.
I think I know the area you speak of. Very well... we will meet you there when you are ready to venture beneath the surface. Until that time, Asim...
So we're going to be fighting side-by-side with the famous Drizzt Do'Urden, hey? Well, if a book gets written about us, then, I hope they remember who the *real* heroes are, here. I'd really hate to see myself portrayed as some fuzzy-wuzzy sidekick to Asim who gets killed off in the first encounter, you know.
Wait. Waitwaitwait. Is... is that line of Jan's mocking Salvatore's writing? How the hell did I never actually notice that for what it is until just now?
Oh, and this.
Watcher's Keep - what the fuck are we doing here at these levels
One needlessly long speech and much praising of Tyr later, we had to go to Watcher's Keep because that fallen deva Saerileth was supposed to be hunting was there. And here's a totally shortened version of that conversation.
[Runs the fuck away]
Hey I'm not evil I was killing to save a bhaalspawne he's totally in the keepe goeth ande checke it oute.
I believeth thou.
Praise be to Helm!
Does this mean we have a chance, Odren? Does this mean our duty is not lost to us?
Be at peace, Sister Garlena. Asim has yet to hear our story, let alone agreed to aid us. We get ahead of ourselves, here. Please accept my apology, Asim. The Watcher's Keep is a long journey from any nearby settlement, and your trip could not have been an easy one.
I would be happy just knowing who you are and what you want.
Allow me to introduce myself properly. I am Brother Odren, currently the leader of the Knights of the Vigil. We are... a small sect that was given a most solemn charge by the Vigilant One, Helm, Himself.
A charge we are unable to fulfill, sadly.
Indeed. Helm appeared to us during the Time of Troubles, when all gods but He walked Faerun as mortals. A great evil had been imprisoned, He said, and we were to be its keepers. Watcher's Keep, this ruin you see before you, was once a great prison for the most terrible foes of the gods. It was abandoned for many, many centuries until Helm came to us with His news. The old prison would not hold this great evil for long, He said. Our order would have to maintain a vigil, to watch for the day when the evil would begin to break the great seals and escape. That day has come, Asim. The great evil struggles within, and has infected the Watcher's Keep to the point where we cannot bypass the creatures and foul magic that blocks our path. It is our shame that we are too weak to get to the lower vaults and enact the ritual that will strengthen the old seals once again. Our need is obvious, then. We need a group to enter the Keep and descend to the lower vault so they may repair the mystic seals. Might you... might you do this, Asim?
Asim, our duty is clear. We must aid the Knights of the Vigil.
Then you will consider it?
I'll help you... but I need to know what to do.
You... you will aid us? Ah, praise to Helm!
Praise Helm, He has answered our prayers!
Thank you, Asim! Brother Pol will give you what you need and explain... come, let us ascend to the top of Watcher's Keep.
In order to enter... as well as leave... you will need the proper holy symbol. Talk to Brother Pol... he is our elder and can give you what you need as well as answer any of your questions.
Aye. I know a fair amount of lore about the old seals within. The evil that has infected this place, however... that I know little about.
Any supplies you need can be acquired through Sister Garlena.
You may have access to all the resources of our Order, Asim... at a fair price, of course. Would that we were wealthy enough to offer it to you for free.
May the Vigilant One walk by your side, Asim. I pray that your godsblood lends you power enough to ensure your success... we all do.
The first is the holy symbol that shall allow you to pass through the seals of the prison. Do not lose it, child. Without it you cannot enter the Keep... or, if you are within, you will be trapped forever. The second is the ritual scroll which will repair Helm's seal upon the Keep. It need only be read aloud in the presence of the Imprisoned One... you require no special training to do so. Reaching the Imprisoned One is the difficulty. The Watcher's Keep was built many ages ago to contain great horrors that walked Faerun, but it was abandoned centuries before Helm restored its purpose. When Helm came to us, he asked half of our order to sacrifice themselves... to become spirits guarding the Keep and adding to the ancient seals that were already in existence. The spirits will guard against all who enter... they cannot be reasoned with. Add to this the evil which has been drawn to this place by the infection of the Imprisoned One. All these obstacles must be bypassed. When you finally reach the lowest level, you must open the final seal to gain access to the Imprisoned One, himself. I... do not know what state he will be in. Read the ritual quickly before he attacks. Have you any other questions for me, then, child?
No, I don't think so.
As you desire. Helm's blessing upon you, child.
He gave us a ritual scroll and vigil stone. From Sister Garlena we bought the Short Sword of Mask. She also had Firetooth, but in the words of a character we will not introduce for a while, "crossbows be sucky".
Alternately, "I don't have anyone with crossbow proficiencies right now."
Anyway, into the keep and a little tiny bit of fighting later, we encountered Gunshain, the bhaalspawn we were looking for for Kesevar.
Gunshain sounds kind of like he was voiced by someone with emphysema. I find this completely relevant to discussion.
The conversation went kind of like this.
Thou art Gunshain, then?
Yeah, and that deva's totally not lying. Also, I'm going to kill you Asim because EVIL BHAALSPAWN MUAHAHAHA.
FUCK. OFF. AND. DIE.
Snagged a suit of Elven Chain from his corpse as well as another ring of regeneration. I wonder how many that makes now?
Also, the description on that chain is full of shit, it's totally not restricted to evil characters.
Aye, ande thou arte innocente. I shalte rippeth up this scrolle.
I'm redeemed! Eth!
I hast learned a lesson. Eth.
Note - seriously. If you don't go in and talk to Gunshain and just have her read the scroll, Tyr just says fuck you and she, ah, falls and then runs away. According to these people, Tyr is kind of like God according to Young Earth Creationists, what their whole "God put all these scientific things here to trick us" thing.
Archival Commentary - bwahaha wow did I ever hate it by this point
And after that, we went to visit Cromwell to have him restore some items for us. But first, we had to deal with this guy asking for the Silver Sword back. Again.
What do you want, Githyanki?
A question with a question! I see his mind is far deeper than I expected. Layers and layers of duplicity and deceit. I must be subtle with this one. Perhaps I should start again before he gets suspicious. Hm. Yes, I think this would be best. (ahem!) You there, human man! My freedom from limbo has a price: I must track down the thief of one of our most holy of holies.
You don't mean the Silver Sword Blade, do you?
Ack! You know what it's called?! I trained three years as a wild mage before they let me in on that one. My mentor tended to grunt... training was a bitch.
Wait, you're a wild mage too?
Ye- wait, "too"?
Yeah, I'm one also. Always happy to help another of my possibly slightly addled comrades, so here you go.
Most kind of you, dear human. Now I'm free to go about my merry way... until the next time I end up in Limbo. (sigh) Nothing's quite so bad as a wild surge.
Tell me about it.
Then we had Cromwell reforge these four things for us.
Firstoff, Crom Faeyr for Minsc.
The Equalizer - like I said, the enchantment is too weird to be particularly useful, not to mention the fact that we didn't really use longswords that much.
The Gesen Bow, for Jan.
And The Wave, just because we had it.
After that, I slept and had some disturbing dreams, again.
I bring visions of warning, of what is happening now, and what may happen soon. This image will speak true, for you are of two sides, and the liars have said their part. You travel in search of yourself, divided, splintered. There is a piece of you missing. The hole inside you fills with death, with darkness, while another... Irenicus... kills with your strength. Look. Look at the destruction he has wrought. See the corruption that he brings.
For your sake, and theirs, you must take back what has been stolen. If their lives are not enough, then think of your own. You will lose yourself to the hole within. Yours is the potential to be your own worst enemy, or your own savior.