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This Chapter took place right after Chapter Ten in real life time, and is broken up here simply for convenience.

Elisandra - Taros; Tajna - Eukara; Wimji - Prudence_Moon; All other Characters - Underdog

<>Ambiance<> Begin Chapter Eleven

<>Ambiance<> Conveniently enough, all three women went up to dinner just moments apart.

<>Ambiance<> Wimji started up the stairs first, but she was nearly passed in the hall by Elisandra.

<>Ambiance<> When they passed through the doorway, they saw that Salov and Aleric were already there.

<>Ambiance<> Before they had a chance to say anything, however, up the stairs came Tajna. As she entered the room, a familiar voice spoke from behind the curtain.

<HighPriestess> Ah good, I see you are all here at last.

* Elisandra waits for her to continue or whatever.

* HighPriestess emerges from behind the curtain as she did earlier in the day.

* Tajna watches the priestess carefully.

<HighPriestess> I'm going to keep this brief, as you all should make sure to get a good night's sleep tonight... though I half expect a couple of you not to take that advice...

* HighPriestess looks at both Elisandra and Wimji as she says that.

* Elisandra doesn't seem offended by that. It's probably true, anyway.

<HighPriestess> As I said this morning, your mission is to recover an item that was stolen from us, and stolen at a rather inopportune time...

<HighPriestess> The item in question helps defend cities under attack, and as I'm sure you all know, we're expecting Arlington to come under attack very shortly.

<>Ambiance<> SOME of you have NOT heard this before...

<Wimji> Who do you think is going to attack the city?

* Elisandra doesn't respond.

* Tajna speaks up, though quietly. "How long have you known?"

* HighPriestess addresses Wimji first. We believe an attack is coming from the Kingdom of Rutan, west of the swamp.

<>Ambiance<> An attack from Rutan hasn't happened in thousands of years. The swamp is 100 miles across and the lizard men tend to kill people attempting to cross it without permission. They virtually never give permission.

<Elisandra> "Huh..."

<HighPriestess> As for how long I have known... Many years.

<Wimji> How did the Rutans manage to cross the swamp?

<HighPriestess> They are going to sail around it we think, professor. As you know, we're near the coast here.

<Wimji> Yes, of course.

<>Ambiance<> This still sounds a little odd, as it’s common knowledge Rutan never bothered to attack via sea, even during the great wars.

<Tajna> "But why now? This makes no sense to me."

<Wimji> Since when did the Rutans have a navy? This doesn't sound like something they would do.

<HighPriestess> I see that you knew naught of this... I suppose being in jail you wouldn't have heard about my knights preparing to defend Arlington...This is something that needs either an entire nights explanation or just a "Trust me on this." I'm up for either. Which do you want?

* HighPriestess looks from one to the other of you.

<Tajna> Um, if there is a short version of "why now" I am up for it. But I don't want to condemn everyone...

* Elisandra is honestly more concerned with her prior performance in certain spars.

<Wimji> I trust you. Let's eat!

<Elisandra> "Short version or whatever."

<HighPriestess> Did I not just say that there is no short version?

<Aleric> Then maybe you should give them the long version, babe. You know you love giving doomsday speeches.

* Aleric starts to laugh

* HighPriestess points her finger at Aleric and says “Silence!”

<>Ambiance<> All sound coming from Aleric ceases, though visually he’s still laughing.

* HighPriestess I’ve had enough of your insolence for one day. You’ll not disturb tonight’s conversation the way you did this morning‘s. You can have your voice back when I leave.

* Elisandra snorts. She really doesn’t approve of someone bullying people with magic like that.

* Aleric smiles and gives Elisandra a thumbs up sign to indicate all is good.

* Elisandra raises her eyebrow and gives Aleric a partial smile.

<Salov> My Lady…

<HighPriestess> Yes, Salov my friend?

<Salov>I mean no disrespect, Lady, but they do deserve to know… .

* HighPriestess sighs with obvious reluctance.

<HighPriestess> Very well, but, I warn you, the short version won't be very satisfying, and you are likely to think that I’ve gone mad…
<HighPriestess> We believe that, after nearly two thousand years lying dormant, the Empire of Avernus, of which Rutan was once a member, is reforming under a new Sorcerer Emperor.

<HighPriestess> Unfortunately, the King of Mithrim dismisses this as the fantasy of a madwoman, and refuses to listen to me.

<Wimji> What do they hope to achieve?

<HighPriestess> Their plot, we think, is to make it look as though our lizard men neighbors have decided to make war on us, after all these years of being neutral, uninvolved with either side.

<HighPriestess> Why they would employ this stratagem, I do not know.

<HighPriestess> Their end goal, however, is obvious.

<Wimji> They want to take over the world?

<HighPriestess> Yes, professor, they want to take over the world.

* Tajna whispers to herself. "And annihilate everyone."

<HighPriestess> I hear your whisper Tajna, and would that annihilation was the end they seek, for I find that better than what they would do.

<Elisandra> "Wonderful."

* Tajna looks at the floor.

<HighPriestess> They don't wish to annihilate everyone, rather, they would enslave us all.

<HighPriestess> No more freedom, no more personal liberties.

<HighPriestess> Just lives pathetically spent in rigid servitude to the almighty high sorcerer and his evil magic.

* Tajna talks to herself more than to anyone. "I've had enough slavery in my life. This can't just can't."

<Elisandra> "Oookay then."

<HighPriestess> So, that's the short version.

<HighPriestess> As I said, was not going to reveal this to you yet for fear you would think I was mad, but, I suppose Salov is right, you do have a right to know.

* HighPriestess look’s at you with pleading eyes and says "I'm not crazy, please believe me"

* Tajna shrugs. "Why would you go through such efforts if you weren't sane?"

* HighPriestess pauses a minute until she’s satisfied that no one seems to think she’s nuts.

<HighPriestess> Alright then, back to the mission details? Or do any of you have any more questions to ask about this?

<Wimji> What is the item we are looking for, and how does it work?

<HighPriestess> It's an artifact, from the ancient days, called Naug's Cube of Force.

<HighPriestess> How it works is that it..

<Wimji> …blocks all incoming energy attacks, including spells and missile fire, in a wide, dome shaped area around a city or fortress, yet allows attacks coming from within the area to work normally, or so the legends say. I thought it’s existence a myth, but apparently that is not the case.

<HighPriestess> That's an accurate description, professor, and I can assure you that it does exist. It’s only useful for defending large areas, it doesn't work if you try to use it as a personal shield.

<HighPriestess> Why the thief would steal this particular item is a mystery, especially at this time, when it would be incredibly useful to us.

<Elisandra> "... Probably to deprive you of its use."

<HighPriestess> I can't... I don't want to believe that.

<HighPriestess> I can't believe he's working for the enemy, I...

* Elisandra shuts up.

* HighPriestess suddenly gets an angry expression on her face.

* Tajna looks around the room, now wishing for a dark corner.

<Elisandra> -Whoops. Shouldn't have said that.-

<HighPriestess> (Angrily) I trusted Roget, and he stabbed me in the back. After all we've been through together.

<>Ambiance<> The tension in the room is palpable. The room virtually crackles with magical energy.

<>Ambiance<> For an instant, the High Priestess seems to both age and grow in malevolence... then, after a moment, the tension lifts and she returns to normal.

* Elisandra is still and silent, like someone who's trying to hide from something.

<HighPriestess> Forgive me, my friends. So many worries, so many things on my mind these days...

* Tajna regains her ability to breathe

<Salov> My Lady, it's quite understandable given that...

<HighPriestess> No, Salov, my loyal and dedicated friend, it's not ok for me to behave in such fashion, whatever the provocation.

<HighPriestess> I must simply accept that, whatever the reason be, he stole the thing, and he is, therefore, no longer my friend.

<HighPriestess> We know where he is, as I said, or, at least the general vicinity.

<HighPriestess> Your mission is to go and retrieve the item. It can absolutely not be allowed to fall into enemy hands.

* Tajna nods in understanding.

* Elisandra nods.

<HighPriestess> If Roget will surrender the item to you of his free will, good, but, if he does not... Then kill him.

<HighPriestess> Each of you possess a skill which may be valuable for this mission, which is why I selected you.

<HighPriestess> You, Elisandra, have contacts everywhere... if he's within a hundred miles of where we think he is, you'll be able to find the one person who knows where he is.

<HighPriestess> You, Tajna... if stealth, breaking and entering, or a little slight of hand are called for, well...

<HighPriestess> And even you professor... your knowledge of history and artifacts...

<HighPriestess> Have you any questions about the mission itself?

* Tajna shakes her head. She figures she has heard enough about the mission and its importance.

<Elisandra> "No."

<Wimji> I don't suppose I have any.

<HighPriestess> Very well then. Once you have retrieved and returned the item to me, I may have other missions available, if you choose to remain in service, as I hope you will.

<HighPriestess> But for now... I'm tired... so tired. I need my rest. Please excuse me.

* Elisandra 's just kinda quiet.

* Tajna bows slightly.

<>Ambiance<> The young elf maiden from this morning seems to have vanished. She appears to have a major headache. Worse, she looks stretched thin and very careworn now. She's practically hunched over as she returns to her chambers on the other side of the curtain.

* Tajna sighs as she watches the priestess leave the room and then looks around the table to see where she should seat herself.

<Salov> Ah, I've had arranged for some food to be brought up the old fashioned way tonight

<Salov> Seat yourself anywhere you wish. The food will be here momentarily.

* Elisandra sits down at the closest seat.

* Tajna smiles at Salov. "Um, would you terribly mind if I sit with you. I mean, unless you would rather me not."

* Wimji finds a seat.

<Salov> Actually, Tajna, I would prefer it.

* Tajna sits next to Salov. "And thanks for arranging the food's delivery."

<Aleric> (to Elisandra) Remember this morning when I said she'd soon tell you the sky was falling and only she could save the world?

<Elisandra> "... Yep."

<Aleric> Well, she's even outdone herself this time.

* Aleric Smiles and says "You really should try some of the wine."

<>Ambiance<> About this time, the food arrives.

<Elisandra> "Humm, alright. Never really had much wine before, tho.'"

<Salov> Hopefully there is something everyone likes here.

<Salov> I arranged for the food so and I don't exactly have the same... talent... for knowing your favorites as The Lady does.

<Wimji> It all looks pretty good to me.

<Tajna> Fish!

* Wimji munches away.

* Tajna serves herself some of the fish, green veggies and some potatoes.

<Tajna> Looks fine to me Salov. You did good.

<Salov> Thank You. I had it brought up from the other inn I mentioned to you earlier.

* Elisandra grabs some meat, bread, fruit, whatnot. And also a glass of the wine, at Aleric's recommendation.

<Tajna> Oh wonderful! That meal was so good.

<Wimji> Hmmmm... these potatoes need a little something extra.

* Wimji casts Flavor.

<Salov> Ah, I must depart now.

<Salov> I have to get up very early to make final preparations.

<Salov> I'll be by to get that list in a little bit professor, and I’ll see the rest of you in the morning.

<Elisandra> "Night."

<Tajna> Thanks for all you have done for me today. Good night.

<>Ambiance<> End Chapter Eleven.
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