Webisode Fourty-Nine and a half: Words, Words, Words (online)
[Featuring Aerdaluna, Zan, Smitty, and Silent Pete]
(In the words of Charley)
The compound where we finally found ourselves was in what was once the mayor’s manor. However, there had clearly been a conflict there many months ago and how it had been repaired and reinforced to look more like a military structure. The windows were barred and the door had been replaced with something stronger. There were guards at the front door that asked for our papers and then allowed us to enter.
Another guard inside took us down a few halls and up a set of stairs before ending us at a set of double doors. He knocked and someone replied in what I presume was Githyanki. The door was opened and we were escorted in. The room was a typical conference room. There was a large table to the left with a big map on it (of the city and surrounding area) and another to the right (where it looked like there may have been another map, but was currently empty). In front of us was a large desk behind which sat a Githyanki and another standing next to him. When we entered it seemed like the standing one had just finished saying something to the sitting one. There were two more Githyanki guards who closed the door behind us and stood at attention by it. There weren’t any chairs for us to sit in so we approached the two leaders and Aerdaluna spoke first.
“Greetings, I am Aerdaluna of Celene. I am here at her request to see in what capacity we may be able to aid each other in your pursuit of the foul illithid. These are my companions.”
The sitting Githyanki stood and held out his hand to shake Aerdaluna’s, “I am Torrelth, Lord of Zhjaeve. This is my advisor Torrenth. I am glad to hear that Celene is finally recognizing the seriousness of these blasphemous bastions of illithid. How your world came to be so infested is a serious concern which we a working to discover. Any information Celene has regarding the motives of the illithid would be appreciated apart from their overriding motive of needing food stock.” He sat back down. “How else is it that you wish to collaborate with us? Or, perhaps I should ask, what is it that you wish of us?”
Aerdaluna continued, “While I was briefed by my predecessor, perhaps you could explain your position on this world and what your goals are.”
Torrelth continued, “Very well, our Queen rightly detected that this world had been invaded by a large force of the illithid. Most worlds have a few here and there that we hunt down, but here there is apparently a significantly larger force of them. Concerned that they have some larger agenda she has sent us here to rout out their hiding places and disrupt their activities as we destroy them. We have no intentions of invading the sovereignty of any of the nations that are here on this world; however, if we find that there are illithid within a nation we care not for your national boundaries and will deal with the illithid quickly and dramatically.”
“We have already found that the illithid are not content to remain in the background in a number of places, but have begun to infiltrate and control the existing power structures. Thus we are only marginally willing to ‘work’ with the existing governments as we do not wish to reveal our plans to any spies that may be found in the governments.”
“To put it simply, our goal here is to destroy the illithid that have invaded your world as quickly and brutally as possible.”
Aerdaluna nodded, “Yes, that seems reasonable. However, your neglect of the existing nations puts your goals at risk of being foiled by those nations who you are invading in your search for the Mindflayers. There are many powers on this world, Celene being an excellent example, which are quite capable of resisting your incursions into our national boundaries. I feel that I should warn you that should you ‘detect’ a Mindflayer presence in Celene that you would be best warn us and allow us to deal with that threat or you will find that your threat deterrence force will be decimated before it achieves its goal.”
I think that the githyanki smiled, “It seems that Celene has sent a voice that is not as effeminate as those who we had spoken to before. It is good to see that Celene has some strength in her voice as well as in her lands. Very well, should we detect a presence you will be notified before we send in our troops. Perhaps we can coordinate an attack in that case, should it come to that.”
Aerdaluna continued, “So, I also understand that there are agents of yours who are not engaged in combating the Mindflayers.”
Torrelth paused as if to consider how to answer, “Yes, not directly, but they are investigating rumors that we have that may lead to the discovery of additional cells of the illithid. As I said, they are in greater number here and seem to be working towards a larger goal themselves. Not all of them are easy to find and thus we must use our resources to discover where they are hiding.”
Aerdaluna asked, “And are those investigative units entering sovereign nations without the permission of the rulers of those nations?”
Torrelth nodded, “Of course, but, before you ask…we currently do not have any in Celene nor do we have any plans to at this point.”
Aerdaluna, “And how is it that you are getting the information that is leading you to enter these other nations? Is your Queen directing you or are you basing it on information you are getting here? Is your source or sources reliable and something that we can use to perhaps assist you?”
Torrelth answered, “Our initial directives, of course, came from our Queen who still is personally directing some of our actions. But yes we are basing some of our decisions on information we have collected here. That information is of mixed reliability. We need to be careful with any information discovered from indigenous sources as they may be compromised.”
Aerdaluna probed a little further, “And these actions that your Queen is still personally directing, are they related to the Mindflayer incursion or to something else?”
Torrenth spoke, “Are you implying something about our Queen’s motives that you are not saying? We have said we are here to hunt illithid and that is what we are doing.”
Torrelth added, “Our Queen’s motives are her own. Where she commands we go. What she commands we do. That is the way of the Githyanki. The Githzerai and their sympathizers questioned our Queen’s motives and they are no longer with us. It is not my place to question my Queen’s motives nor will you broach that subject unless you wish this conversation to be at an end.”
He continued, “We have answered your questions on our motives. Now I would ask you, what are the plans of Celene? What support will she provide to our efforts? Perhaps some of the troops that have been added to her northern border could be used to search for illithid instead of defending against an unreal threat that we pose?”
Aerdaluna paused for dramatic effect (I think), “As you have said, ‘the motives of your Queen are not mine to question.’ However, I am here to provide support. I am quite accomplished in extracting information from sources in the pursuit of truth. The northern troops are a precaution against any accidental occurrences that may occur because your soldiers may not be aware of where the lands of Celene begin. They are meant for defensive purposes only and will provide intelligence in the form of warning your people when they are in danger of crossing our borders. I would suggest that you inform your underlings that they are to obey the boundaries as explained by any Elves they meet rather than engage in conflict for their own protection of course.”
While they were talking I was looking for something to snatch. Before we had entered the building Aerdaluna had instructed me to gather some belonging of the leader so that he could work some magic on it. We were hoping to meet in a more casual environment where it would be easier to gather something such as a hair or similar. I spied a quill on the desk that clearly Torrenth or Torrelth had used. I decided to try for that on our way out.
Aerdaluna continued, “Perhaps it would be wise for you to inform us of what lands you are currently engaged in investigations so that we may be able to provide you with any information we have on the areas.”
They continued to engage in their verbal parley and I must admit that I didn’t hear much of what they said. Things started to get interesting again probably a half and hour later or so.
Torrenth answered some question that Aerdaluna had asked, “That may be, but, again, if we decided to take you up on that offer we will let you know. For now we are confident in our own abilities to gather information.”
Aerdaluna replied, “As am I in mine. You should know that I am the one that unearthed and defeated the Mindflayer in this city. From it I was able to gather a book that revealed some of their secrets. I am more than capable of assisting in this counte-insurgency effort that you are engaging in.”
Torrenth continued, “What book is this? Can you tell us about it?”
Aerdaluna brightened up, “Certainly, it was a book that I retrieved from the cult that was operating here in Brind…Brindenford. It was called The Reality Behind the Void by one Arnaud Vates. It was a two-volume set that discussed various theories on the nature of reality and included some incantations and rituals designed to manipulate spells and creatures…in particular including the summoning of Mindflayers under the supposed control of the summoner. My belief is that the rituals were attempted here and the summoner found that they were not in control of the creatures, but instead became the puppets of the Mindflayers.”
Torrenth asked, “And do you still have this book?”
Aerdaluna nodded sadly, “No, I had left it in what I thought were capable hands at the Greyhawk Library. It was apparently taken from the library while I was traveling elsewhere.”
Torrelth interjected, “You see, My Lord, I told you that the city of Greyhawk had been compromised. It is as she said, ‘Their power centers are corrupt. They will fall beneath your wrathful swords.'”
Aerdaluna added, “Be not so quick to judge others as theirs are not the only power centers that are corrupt. I have seen that your own leaders are involved with the Mindflayers. For all I know you two might even be compromised. There is corruption among the Githyanki as well as with us primes.”
Torrenth jumped to his feet and slammed his fist on the table causing things to fly to the floor, “What! How dare you? What proof do you have for this bold accusation.”
Aerdaluna seemed to be pleased that he had struck a nerve, “While I was away in another world I was with a group of adventurers who encountered one of your outposts. While I was not actually with the group that attacked your people, I was there when the Mindflayer was encountered. It was directing the actions of a group of thieves and bandits dealing in the theft and trade of your silver swords. Granted I did not talk to or encounter any of your people directly, but I was able to free a Guardsman from the control of an individual named Drendel who was working with the Githyanki that were deceived in this matter. It is a tragedy that some of your people were killed in the ensuing battle, but perhaps they were weak from being controlled by the Mindflayer and Drendel’s minions.”
While Aerdaluna spoke, I descretely reached down and picked up some of the things that had fallen on the floor on our side of the desk. I placed all but a quill, which I pocketed, back on the githyanki’s desk.
Torrenth sat back down, “Ah, I had heard reports of an outpost that was invaded by a rival outpost that had become controlled by outsiders. Perhaps this is what you speak of and yes, if so, they were weak and it was a service to our Queen that they died. You had nothing to do with fighting our soldiers?”
Aerdaluna replied, “None whatsoever.”
He continued, “So it seems that you have some experience in battling Mindflayers…however you say that you defeated the Mindflayer that was here in Zhjaeve. When we arrived the illithid was still very much alive and in control of the mayor of this place called Brindonfort.”
This seemed to match up with the update that the Elves had given us. Apparently shortly after we left Brindenford the Mayor declared martial law and locked the city down. Then he brought in devils and worshipers of Hextor to enforce the new martial laws. Things got quickly worse for the inhabitants who started disappearing after being brought in for questioning by the new police force.
Aerdaluna bristled, “Maybe not, but we did defeat a deadly Mindflayer in the other Plane while I was on my mission and I had captured the book. Are you questioning my word? Do you doubt my skill or sincerity? Do you want a demonstration? Should you want to see what I accomplished firsthand I could arrange a demonstration right now. I could open my thoughts to you right now so you could see the Githyanki corruption and judge it yourselves as it should be.”
Torrenth smiled knowing that he had found one of Aerdaluna’s nerves as well, “No, no, I just wished to clarify the facts regarding your defeat of the Mindflayer. Would you be willing to accompany one of our units on an illithid hunting expedition in the near future? We have located an infestation that we will be attacking in the new few days.”
Aerdaluna was about to reply when there was a knock at the door. Torrenth said something in Githyanki and the door opened and another Githyanki came in and whispered something to the Lord and his advisor. I wasn’t sure at first, but using the telepathic bond that Aerdaluna had established with us earlier that day Pete confirmed, “I’m pretty sure that that is the same Githyanki that gave me the book in the Seer’s caves.”
Aerdaluna observed him as he spoke to the Lord and his Advisor and told us telepathically, “He appears uncomfortable, as if he is doing something that he doesn’t really want to do.”
Torrenth looked up at Aerdaluna and it seemed as if daggers flew from his eyes. He growled, “You said you had nothing to do with fighting our soldiers? How is it then that I have a report from two of my trusted captains that you personally have killed many of our troops?”