Retreating to the sanctuary of his tower, Sorvani crashed out for some well deserved slumber. Waking up mid-morning, he sent out wizard eyes to check up on the town – noticing a large crowd had gathered around the obelisk and were patiently waiting their turn to speak to the entity, a patience that was enforced by several battleogres and two squads of town guards. Outside the town wall, a handful of wise and industrious farmers were staking out farmground – wasting no time laying claim to land they hoped would be granted to them once they started working and planting it. At the temples (which also still had a pair of ogres out front) the majority of priests were now awake – if still unpowered. Didn’t stop them from praying to their non-existent gods, however – and from the flurry of research being done at the temple of Mystra, it seemed like Nedok had passed the truth of the situation to the other head clerics.
Glad that the obelisk was available to handle the scads of inane questions from the populace, Sorvani settled in to do his own research on what might be required to wake Varalla. Hours tumbled by as he dove into this tome and that, consulting books he’d skimmed through and memorized fragments of as soon as he’d acquired his helm. Even though the ancient helm had an impressive (and what most lucky owners considered infinite) storage capacity – the drow knew for a fact there was a GREATER helm of total recall because he’d heard Arg mention it before, and was slightly worried about his filling up too soon.
Mid-afternoon a hush seemed to fall over the town – which briefly caught the powermaster’s attention. A quick wizard eye revealed why – Varalla’s adopted daughter Rose had awakened and was even now communing mentally with the Obelisk, her delicate hand pressed against the surface of the crystal. The young rolandite was a beloved figure in town – her sweet disposition and natural charm hid well the girls clever mind and ruthless negotiating skills. She was also a favorite of the Obelisk, having spent much of her childhood playing in the plaza around the crystal – cursorily watched over by a red-armored dwarven babysitter.
Twenty minutes passed before she reopened her eyes and turned to the crowd. “I have been apprised of the situation. My people, you have already dealt with the most difficult tasks at hand – so let me be frank : my mother, the duchess is still unconscious and has been since the occurrence… a situation which is soon to be remedied now that the Obelisk is back online. Sorvani is on that task right now. The person you saw healing the wounded was, in fact, an acolyte of the church of Roland – who was cloaked in her image… as was the Erok you saw. This was done purely to keep everyone calm and prevent panic – but now you deserve the truth. We are on an unknown world, in an unknown sphere inside an unknown universe – one that is somewhat different than our own. This means that while we are here, our familiar gods are not – and it will take time for EVERYONE to adjust. The obelisk has informed me that the druids have already made headway talking to agents of the respective patron deities of plants, animals and nature – and expect their powers to return in only a few days. This means that our swiftly dwindling food reserves will soon be restored – but we might face a few hungry nights until then.”
A few angry mutters and murmurs swept through the crowd, but chaos did not ensue. She continued “That being said, i implore you to show patience in the coming days. The rumors you may have heard about a flying city attacking our shield are, in fact, true – and even now there is a small citadel on the way here to watch and assess our strengths and weaknesses. Foolishly, they believe themselves invisible to our own defenses – and have no idea what our friend here can do,” she patted the side of the crystal. “Which means one thing : we withstood their first attack, which isn’t something they’re used to. They need intelligence to move forward – information about who we are, where we came from and how we got here. So until further notice, i don’t want any townsperson to go beyond sight of the city wall. Keep that in mind as you go outside to plant and work – if you can see the wall, then the obelisk can see you.”
Nodding her head at the crystal caused it to shimmer out of sight. “Even if you cannot see him. Sorvani believes we should keep him hidden and i agree. The obelisk is our biggest trump card, and as you’ve heard the dwarves say a thousand times ‘A weapon unseen is an unblockable threat’. Any hostile actions by the citadel will be harshly met by an overeager squad of battleogres.” Every ogre in attendance smiled a terrifying, toothy smile.
“In the meantime, i want all able-bodied men and likeminded women to make sure their battle-gear is oiled and ready for action. The approaching citadel doesn’t have enough room to house a sizeable force – but that doesn’t mean another one won’t show up soon. Keep your wits about you and continue rebuilding our town. The crystal tells me it’s restored water and sewer functions already, as well as our lights and defensive shield. I expect my mother will be up and about in a matter of days – and she can guide us thereafter. Until then, help your neighbors and help the town – and trust the various heads of our city’s organizations to do what is right. As always, if you see something that concerns you : bring it to the attention of a guard, or if you feel it’s a grave enough concern, i will be holding daily court at the keep. As i said initially, citizens of Vral – the hardest part is already done, and we thank you for your efforts. I pray that Roland keep you healthy and well in the days ahead.”
The somber crowd watched her pat the hidden obelisk, then broke out in applause as she walked purposefully toward the nearby keep – escorted by a six-pack of suspicious, red armored dwarves. The majority of the crowd dispersed – having gotten the answers they were looking to the obelisk for and then some. Sorvani might not agree with revealing so much information to the public, but it was her decision – and sometimes a little truth could prevent a mountain of hearsay and lies. Turning his full attention back to the task at hand, he spent the next 36 hours poring over musty old books – flying over to quiz the obelisk a half-dozen times in the process. Hitting a stumbling block in his plan, he flew off to find Rose – locating her on the throne in Varalla’s keep. Waving away the bureaucrat who was taking his spot at the moment, the drow marched up to stand beside Rose and waited for her to finish her current deliberation.
“…. and so you see, Madam Regent – when he took away building material from the ruins of my home to fix his own, it’s become that much harder a task to repair my home !” one man complained.
Cooly studying the pair before her, Rose turned to the other. “Do you admit taking property from this man ?” she asked sweetly – hand hovering over a gemstone on the armrest that was enchanted to grow warm when lies were spoken in its presence.
“I..i..i don’t remember where i got it all from – in all the chaos, i gathered what i could from wherever i could !” Heat bathed the young rolandites hand.
“I see. Well then i give you two options. You may go out and chop trees and cut stone to provide enough processed material to this man to replace what you took or you may offer him and his family shelter in your house until his is livable once more. And i warn you now – if i get a report from the guards about squabbling therein, we’ll switch to your family and his living alternate days in your home. Choose.”
The liar squalled “I must protest, Madam Regent ! I hardly think…” Rose cut him off with a smash of her gavelstone. “Your protests are irrelevant, your thoughts mean nothing. You took material which didn’t belong to you. FACT. Now CHOOSE or i’ll have the dwarven stonemasons come there and tear every last beam and stone you appropriated OUT of your home and the same number again for causing undue hardship to this man and his family. Just try me and see !”
Around her, the red armored dwarves grinned evilly. Rose had grown up around dwarven-style beliefs and justice – and where Varalla ruled with a softer touch, Rose preferred the stout folks direct approach. Sighing in defeat, he held up his hands. “Fine, fine – they can stay with us while they rebuild their home.”
The young rolandite nodded. “Wise choice. Now we’ll have a ten-minute recess while i hear counsel from Chancellor Sorvani. In my chambers, Chancellor.”
The pair adjourned to the court’s inner chambers – accompanied by four of the dwarves. Sorvani tried to dismiss the bearded entourage – with little luck. “I NEED to speak privately with the Regent !” he insisted. The squat figured just stared through him like he wasn’t there. Sighing, he switched over to speaking elvish – which Rose knew well enough to understand, and no dwarf worthy of the name would ever try to learn.
“After much study, i believe that the only way to wake the duchess is by taking her bodily to the plane of magic. I presume the Obelisk informed you of my findings there ?”
She nodded. “Yeah, he gave me the rundown on everything that’s happened while i was out cold. So what’s the big secret you don’t want the dwarves to know ?”
Sprouting extra eyeballs so he could watch them, he doublechecked his stoneskin and answered “Magical items go boom there – so we’ll need to take her robes off first, and any dwarves that insist on coming will likewise have to be disarmed of magic.”
Rose blinked. “Ahh…”
Waving his hands at the short warriors, he hissed “Now you see my dilemma.”
She nodded in commiseration. “Yeah, coming from you that’d probably get ugly real fast. How many people can you take at once ?”
Sorvani riffled through his mental spellbook. “Me and V and 15 others, if need be.”
The young rolandite twirled a lock of hair around her finger as she thought. “Okay – i can sell that. Come to the temple tonight after evening meal and we’ll be ready.”
He quirked an eyebrow at her. “We ??”
Smiling benevolently at him, she answered “Of course – i want to see the place with my own eyes, just in case she doesn’t wake up. It’ll help me understand better what to tell the mages and other priests.”
The drow knew he was being expertly played – but couldn’t argue her reasoning. Scowling at the tapestry of Roland on the wall, he shook his head in disgust. “Very well. I’ll see you then.” With a couple of hours to kill, he returned to his tower – gathering up a quantity of gemstones he’d set aside for various projects and converting them into small receptacles, which he intended to fill with samples of the various mana floating about the magical plane. Digging around his lab, he located an old wand of magic missiles and depleted all but a few charges – wanting to bring it along to experiment with as well.
After evening feast (which was pretty sparse anymore) he flew to the Temple of Roland – and found Rose waiting for him with a dozen dwarves decked out in regular, heavy platemail. The high priest of Mystra sat to the left of her, and on her right was a chronicler of Oghma. “Woo-hoo !! All aboard the train to the plane of magic ! Our conductor has arrived !” she crowed happily – ignoring his narrow-eyed scowl. Striding up to the altar where Varalla lay, he groused “What, no ogres ?”
Rose giggled childishly. “Don’t be silly – what would regular old ogres know about a plane of magic ? They’re not SUUUUPEROGRES like my Erok !!”
Massaging his temples, the drow briefly considered moving far away to a moon somewhere. “Let’s get this circus on the road, then. Everybody join hands. If you’ve stupidly brought any items of magic, she wasn’t kidding about them exploding shortly after arrival – so i’d suggest divesting yourself of them NOW. If we get there and a hum starts up, you’re about to go BOOM !” There were several shifty-eyed glances but nothing else – so Sorvani incanted the spell and shifted them all to the Manaethereal plane.
Looking around, the powermaster took them to a whirling eddy of magical energy and bid the dwarves set Varalla down there. A faint whine began moments later, and all of the dwarves spun their axes around to look at the lowest part of their haft – where tiny spheres of what was now visible as glowing liquid began bubbling to a boil. Ringing the two rolandites, they faced outward and waited to see what happened – as did the others. Soft pops of glass shattering could be heard as the healing potion boiled away and dispersed harmlessly amongst the magic of the plane.
A loud scratching noise was suddenly noticable – as the Oghma priest scribbled down notes as fast as his hand could move. The Mystran, meanwhile was wandering about collecting bits of everything native he could lay finger on and scooping them into little vials. Rolling his eyes, the drow advised “Don’t wander off and get lost – we don’t know how long it’ll take for the duchess to come ’round. I’ll be over yonder – eating my fill of magic where it won’t disturb her.”
Tying the spell into an auto-refresh loop, the drow moved off to do his own investigations. An hour later, he heard the Mystran let out a whoop as he realized his manapool was full again for the first time – then lapse into depression as only his cantrips would manifest, though here on the plane of magic they did so gloriously. Fifteen hours after that, Rose loosed an ear-splitting screech as Varalla finally woke up – dancing happily around her until the older woman stood and began demanding answers. Sorvani finished up his own research while the girl updated V on what all had occurred – taking his time so as not to hear ANOTHER rehash of the same story, then returned to join them.
Varalla smiled as he walked over. “So old friend – seems like you’ve been a busy boy ! I’m surprised you thought of impersonating me with a simple acolyte !”
The drow shook his head. “That was Brok’s idea – not mine. Seemed to keep the peace, though – so i didn’t figure you’d mind. You’ll have to speak to him about the prices he was charging Nedok for manawine, however – i said we’d negotiate on his behalf and split the final bill, since he was healing up your citizens.”
The duchess grinned. “Fairly done – i suspect the ogre was overcharging Nedok because he wouldn’t quit annoying Brok… a trait, i seem to recall, he also displayed while dealing with the leader of our Fallen Legion. Any word from them ?”
Sorvani shook his head. “No – and i doubt we will anytime soon. They were out of range of the city, and so weren’t pulled along into this new multiverse. Knowing that lout, he’s probably still trying to figure out what the planequakes were all about – or he returned home to find a big hole in the ground where V’ral once stood. Might be throwing a fit because we absconded with his favorite brewery. I hope.”
Varalla snorted out a chuckle. “Well i hope we can find some way to communicate back home eventually. Lets see how my city held up, shall we ?”
Spreading his arms, he bowed – and released the spell, catapulting them back to the temple of Roland. A resounding howl of joy arose from the dwarves as they caught sight of Varalla upright once again, and the dwarves that’d accompanied them to the plane of magic wasted no time in shucking their temporary gear for the better ones they were used to. As she walked out the door, one of the ogres outside the door took a big sniff – lifting her hair up several inches and looked at his brother. “Yup yup yup – she’s da real deal.”
News quickly spread and the streets filled with people who wished to shake her hand or touch her robe – carefully, of course over the head of a bristling steel-bedecked dwarf. A few blocks down the street, a cluster of odd-looking wizard eyes appeared – invisible to most, but not the rolandites or Sorvani. Pausing in her journey, Varalla looked directly at the invisible multifaceted orbs and arched an eyebrow. “We do not like to be scryed upon, nor do we mean you harm – but if you don’t act more diplomatically, you’ll find we’re quite able to defend ourselves and our home. Remove your spying spells or we shall remove them for you.”
Nothing happened, and after a minute she bade Sorvani to teach them some manners. Borrowing a trick from Daren’s repertoire, he blasted a modified prismatic spray at the orbs – one that stayed coalescent as a beam of white light until AFTER passing through the orbs, then broke apart into its multicolored rays. The orbs immediately blinked out of existence as their owners were struck by the powerful spell. Winking at him, they resumed the trek to her keep as if nothing had happened. Leaving the duchess to her court, the drow flitted back to his tower to counterspy on the cloaked citadel – taking care to keep his scrying orb out of their visual range.
Over the next few days, Varalla got caught up on the current state of her town – while Sorvani continued to research the plane of magic and spy on the citadel. Taking a big gamble, the drow returned to the manaplane with his non-functional portable mansion – and after 24 hours there, it finally reopened and worked normally thereafter. Similar tricks were used on various other extradimensional items – sometimes returning the item to normal use, other times causing it to disperse into nothingness like the earlier potions had done. No amount of time or luck worked to restore the Rolandites robes, sadly – and Varalla reluctantly chalked their contents up to a loss until a way was found to get back home to where the main vault was.
Calling a meeting of all the priests in town, she listened to their concerns and the research findings of everyone working at that task. To the surprise of most everyone in the room, Brok showed up a few hours into the meeting and hunkered down against the door. Sorvani shot Varalla a quizzical look – knowing he wouldn’t be there without her invitation. Taking a deep breath, the Chosen of Roland addressed the crowd.
“Most of you here aren’t powerful enough to have heard of quest spells – only the highest echelons of clerics are privy to the might bestowed on the worthiest and most loyal priests of a god or goddess. And nobody amongst you are aware that i have in my possession a rare and valuable scroll of one such quest spell – a spell designed to temporarily transform a worthy follower of a deity into an avatar of that god. The obelisk believes that with time and a number of ultra-rare items, it might be able to open a door back home – which would let our gods shift essence into this world. Until then, i mean to use this spell to incarnate myself as an avatar of Roland – which, given that i’ve been imbued with a portion of his essence, should allow me to grant spells to our church’s priests.”
Murmuring and chatter filled the room, until she held up her hand for silence. “It only lasts for a day at best – so i’m borrowing a device from the brewery… a secret device that functions as a mana-generator, which will be tied into keeping the spell refreshed. While serving as a divine conduit for Roland’s will, i will be unable to act or respond to normal stimuli – so my daughter Rose will serve in my stead as Regent, and Sorvani will assist her in this. I mean to ask the obelisk to replicate the spell for the heads of the church of Torm and Mystra as well – plus the high priest of Damien/Reorx, who probably has the best chance of all of us to make it work given the amount of divine-invested armor and weapons they hold. Of course, any priest here is free to switch to local deities as well, if he or she wishes to go the route that the druids have chosen – but as always, V’ral will not abide evil practitioners within our walls. Any questions ?”
Lots of questions and hours later, the plan held – and in the morning the city’s obelisk grumbled and groaned but produced a quartet of giant gems that would hold such a powerful spell (after many promises were made about feeding him thousands of replacement gems to restore his mass). Growing a crystalline node to trickle power into the draconic managenerator they’d mounted in a large private room of the keep, the four high priests readied themselves and triggered the massive quest spells. Each threw back their heads and shrieked as light from within burst forth from their eyes and mouth – lifting off the ground to float halfway to the ceiling. Around each high priest a swirl of misty light coalesced into the face of that person’s god – in the dwarf’s case, two faces on either side.
Not needing to ask questions, the deities saw with godborn eyes at the world around and the sad state of their followers – reaching out to fill their loyal priests with magic and life. The avatar of Mystra turned to study the draconic generator – even as Sorvani expertly weaved the strands of the quest spells into it to ensure the power feed stayed up. In the temples across town, fervent and heartfelt prayers for the success of their leaders were rewarded as magic returned to the churches – igniting protective wards that’d gone dormant without divine blessings to keep them maintained.
In the chamber, Sorvani finished his work and looked at the watchful face of Mystra. “He got this generator idea from his dad, right ?” The goddess of magic shook her head sadly and breathed “Netherilll….” – which took him aback. “No shit ? Damn me – i’ve gotta watch that big bastard more closely. Maybe his occasional bouts of intelligence aren’t a fluke after all.” Checking the signal gem he’d mounted in the wall of the chamber, Sorvani left and sealed the doorway behind him with a wall of stone. Layering protective magics on it, he knew that nobody would be able to enter the chamber without him or the obelisk knowing immediately.
All across V’ral, once again life returned to some semblance of normalcy as the druids used their magic to quick-grow crops and help farmers spread fields. Teams of lumberjacks felled trees while hunters sought wild game and dwarven stonemasons tunneled ever deeper into this new world. It took some time and a lot of work, but the Avatar of Roland was able to construct a new extradimensional vault for the rolandites. But peace was not coming to V’ral – and the folk of the flying cities would not soon tolerate what they saw as an invasion of their sovereign land. With war drums growing louder, the citizens of a far-off world were about to learn what kind of place they’d fallen into.
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