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    Default The Monastery of White Dawn - IC

    The Monastery of White Dawn - Foreword

    Ianward Tarmikos woke up early, as he always did. "The first light of dawn should find the servants of Bahamut looking the sun eye to eye" - This was the phrase he had most often heard during his early years as a Paladin of Bahamut.

    Of course, Ianward was finding it easier to rise as years went by - it was known that elders needed less sleep than adults, so this was no surprise to him. Of course it was easier to rise - There were no entourages sharing a wine in the name of Bahamut's glory with him. Here, he was the Prime Councillor, and not some adventurer who could afford "adventurous" luxuries. Examples were set to be followed, not mocked upon.

    If there was one thing that would keep Ianward happy until the end of his days, it was the hot water supply he enjoyed first thing in the morning. Acolytes would gladly wake up before him in order to prepare hot water, breakfast (buttered bread with honey, for the last 20 years), and anything else he might have requested the night before.

    Ianward felt ashamed at times, when he thought that people might have had to wake up before he did to serve him - but then, as was always the case when he thought about it, hadn't he woken up thousands of times in order to serve Bahamut, directly or indirectly? And Bahamut knew of his devotion, of course. He had seen the Platinum Dragon in his dreams dozens of times, always smiling, always pointing the way to the greater good.

    He washed his face thinking about Bahamut...again. Then he snapped out of his momentary daydreaming. The day had come. The Expedition departed tomorrow, and the ceremony was today! Heavens...it would be a long day. Bahamut be blessed, everything begun at noon exactly, as ancient traditions mandated, and it was still 7 in the morning.

    Donning his majectic armor with the intricate carvings of the Monastery, and Bahamut's kin, he had to make sure everything was in order.

    His good friend and assistant, Leoril Chandler, stood outside the room.

    "Bahamut bless us all. Good day Leoril. Has everyone been sent word?"

    "Light bless you, Ianward. Yes, all the Orders and guests have their instructions from the evening before. No complaints thus far".

    "No complaints?", thought Ianward. That was rare. Most of the times an Order or another thought it was being rightly shafted in the process. And most of the times, they were right. It was impossible to keep everyone at exactly the same level of happiness.

    "Good. Find the adventurers, and tell them to come to my office at 11 'o clock, post haste. I would like to brief them in person, and make sure they are fit for the Expedition. The last time that details were overlooked, I recall a dragon getting a nice, unexpected, meal on his plate. The Monastery will not lose more fine members, just because one happens to be psychotic inside!"

    "Of course.", nodded Leoril and moved out at once.

    He had four hours until they came. Plenty of time to chat with the Order Councillors about their choices... Hopefully they picked the very best...

    With these thoughts in mind, he ventured towards the various Order buildings, aiming to get an insight on the future members of the Expedition. The Monastery's honor depended on them.

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    Last edited by Sovjohn; 2011-05-01 at 02:04 PM.

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    Leoril was walking briskly, wanting to find everyone Ianward told him to find as soon as possible. He only had a piece of parchment with their names, races, Orders and deities with him, though. His eyes scanned around rather hastily as he moved – The Monastery was vast, and he could not know where exactly each of them spent the morning. If only he had some sketches… But it was too late to think about this now. He started pacing even faster, his boots sounding rhythmically as they hit the stone pathways.

    Deciding to take the safe route, he headed for the Grand Library first, hoping to catch at least one of the scholarly type there. The Grand Library was the focal point of all intellectual Monastery members, with its impressive collection of thousands of tomes, spanning through the ages. Books existed in there that were dated before the Monastery was founded – and this was a remarkable fact on its own.
    Luckily, at around twenty minutes to eight 'o clock, only a few quiet folk seemed to study in there. Among them, it was unmistakable: The scarred young priest. Leoril smiled to himself, while approaching the table he was sitting.

    "Good morning young one, and the Dawn be with you!" he said in a solemnly quiet voice. "I bear a message from Prime Councilor Tarmikos – Please visit his office at 11' o clock, before the ceremony. He asked for a chance to meet you before the formalities take place. Your presence, however, while desired, is not obligatory. Prime Councilor Tarmikos believes in a person's freedom of choice."

    About a half an hour later, Leoril was at the Order of Associates. He half-expected to find the monk here, but he was nowhere to be seen. Just as he was about to leave, he heard slashing noises from the yard. Chuckling, he thought "Now that's some commitment, practicing sparring this early in the morning!" He had already set his mind on ignoring the noises, thinking another battle-crazed follower of Kord would have decided to engage on an early morning bloodlust, but he glimpsed casually towards the yard before leaving.
    There, he saw an eladrin practicing, and was momentarily mesmerized – What agility, what speed! The eladrin seemed to be using several weapons in rapid succession, and positively decimated the dummy who was unfortunate enough to stand in his way.
    Snapping out of it, he thought that he was looking for a cavalier eladrin – might he be that lucky? Approaching the eladrin carefully, he smiled and relayed the summoning message once more, verbatim, after asking for the eladrin's name.

    The sun was now filling the sky with its life-giving rays, and the time was about 9. Leoril thought it prudent to enquire about the two Moradin followers in the most logical place to do so – Moradin's temple. As he approached the entrance, he saw the…the construct… that living proof of Moradin's will and glory, walking slowly away from the temple, with several young dwarves following it, and singing battle hymns along with it. He knew the Order of the Runes had submitted it (or was it him, nowadays?) for the Expedition, but he had not seen it in person. "Rig" was grand, and imposing, and intimidating to one who didn't know his true nature or way of life. He moved closer to him (For it was "him" now. He could not call "it" a living entity…a talking entity) and relayed the Tarmikos message once more, looking up to his face while he did so.

    Immediately afterwards, he entered the temple. He had little trouble spotting the Moradin invoker in the corner. Invokers had… an aura around them… a kind of primal power emanating from their very fibers of existence. Invokers were a favorite in bar fights and brawling matches – half of their opponents were almost intimidated to death just from their divine retribution force of will. Unmistakable, then – this was an invoker of Moradin. Asking politely if he was the correct one, and finding out that he was, Leoril predictably enough reinstated the request he had spent all morning carrying around, and then left to find the last Expedition member.

    Passing through the kitchens, he spotted him – The githzerai monk was eating, silently, his breakfast, which seemed entirely green and disgusting to Leoril, who could not imagine a breakfast without bacon and ale. Still, githzerai were honorable, quiet, and righteous, so who was Leoril to judge them based on what abominations of Nature they ate at times? He had the pleasure of being acquainted to several githzerai, old and young, in his years in the Monastery, and was always amazed at their spirit and ability to focus. Leoril was certain that most of them would be able to maintain a calm composure while meteors would fly around them, and he secretly admired this quality of the noble race. Relieved to finally being able to relay his request to the final hero, he did so gracefully, smiled broadly before leaving, and left for his office.

    It was a ceremony day, and these days were always long and tiring. But Leoril did not complain – Duty was far more important than bodily weariness.
    Last edited by Sovjohn; 2011-05-13 at 06:17 PM.

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    Maxilian
    Maxilian pauses in his assault, hoping that the new arrival might be willing to spar with him. When he sees Leoril, he nods deferentially. Sir Chandler. I am Maxilian Swandance, of the House of Swandance, Cavalier of Bane. To what do I owe your visit this morning? he says respectfully, always up to speed on who his superiors are at the Temple. Once Leoril relays his message, the eladrin nods. I shall meet with the Prime Councillor at the appointed time. May Bane favour your battles big and small, Sir Chandler.

    True to his word, Maxilian is incredibly punctual, arriving the moment the clocks read eleven. He is now in his full suit of plate, all ebony black, including his daunting helmet. His many weapons and two shields are all in their various holsters at his back, with his warhammer in a sling on his right hip and his longsword in a sheathe on his left. He kneels on one knee before the Prime Councillor. Maxilian Swandance, of the House of Swandance, Cavalier of Bane, at your service Councillor, after that, he stands up and removes his helm, placing the black hunk of metal under his left arm and standing at attention.
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    "... and that is why runes are set to become the most widely used method for divine communication over the next decade! Now if you're still not convinced, allow me to-"

    Rig's sales pitch is lost on the dwarf children, who are following him purely to enjoy the novelty of a talking machine. Not that he seems to mind; he knows the power of runes and the wisdom of Moradin are eternal, and he has more than enough patience. On this occasion, however, he is interrupted by Leoril's message. Rig listens carefully to it before replying.

    "And the Dawn be with you, Leoril. I shall not keep Prime Councilor Tarmikos waiting."

    As Leoril scurries away, Rig turns back to the children, saying "I must go now. But before I do, do you remember what to ask from your parents next midsummer?"

    In unison the children shout their reply, "My very own rune!"

    "Very good." replies Rig as he walks away. Even though his head is little more than a block of stone, a smile seems somehow to appear on his face.

    Rig makes his way directly to Tarmikos' office. Being almost two hours early, he stands motionless outside the Prime Councilor's door, waiting for his appointment.
    Last edited by salt3d; 2011-05-13 at 09:06 PM.

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    Ur'Thal Dekaj, Human Cleric of Ioun

    Ur'Thal was at the Grand Library at his normal time that morning, despite the fact that it was perhaps the biggest day of his life at the Monastery. He didn't sleep well the night before, nervous but excited at the same time.

    Once at the library, he found the book he's been studying for the last couple of weeks, "Secrets and Death: A Treatise on the True Historical Cults of Vecna". The library master has graciously allowed him access to that book, one of the old ones usually stored in safe locations for preservation. Regretfully, there was nothing in the book that has shed light on his unique condition. He subconsciously rubs his withered right hand as he reads. At least I'm learning more about how Vecna works, which will be valuable to me, hopefully soon, Ur'Thal thinks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sovjohn View Post
    "Good morning young one, and the Dawn be with you!" he said in a solemnly quiet voice.
    Ur'Thal jumps, startled a little by Ianward's assistant as he was completely immersed in his reading. He quickly stands as Leoril greets him. "M'Lord, well met and the dawn be with you as well."

    Quote Originally Posted by Sovjohn View Post
    "I bear a message from Prime Councilor Tarmikos – Please visit his office at 11' o clock, before the ceremony. He asked for a chance to meet you before the formalities take place. Your presence, however, while desired, is not obligatory. Prime Councilor Tarmikos believes in a person's freedom of choice."
    Ur'Thal nods, "of course, master Leoril, I would not pass up such an honor."

    After Leoril leaves, he attempts to resume his studying, but his mind is afire with anticipation, so he returns his book to its rightful place and heads to Ioun's temple for a quiet devotion. He asks for wisdom, discernment and competence in fulfilling his duties on his mission.

    He spends the rest of his morning preparing for his mission before arriving at the Prime Councillor's office a few minutes early.
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    Gred quietly finished his prayers before addressing the messenger. The Prime Councilor wishes for me presence? Aye, I will be there. May the Dawn be with you as well.

    Having received his message as well as having finished his prayers, Gred returns to his room and attempts to make himself a little more presentable before heading to the appointment, arriving with slightly more than a minute to spare.

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    Meanwhile (1/2)

    Ianward Tarmikos looked outside his window. It was a clear day, with a blue sky and not a cloud visible in the horizon. He had decided to be sure, this time around, that the Expedition was properly staffed. He straightened his armor and went to talk to the Order Councillors.
    ----------------
    First, he reached the Order of Associates. A small building housed its command quarters, fitting really, considering that the Order only had a few dozen members. Entering the building, Ianward passed beside several open doors where chants could be heard. Turning his head ever so slightly, he saw monks, dressed in orange-brown uniforms, praising their gods in unison. At least, most of them were meditating and chanting – save the followers of Kord. Stationed in the fourth room, they were fighting wildly, barehanded or with implements, while their overlords were watching with interest.

    Eventually, he was able to knock on the door of the Councillor's office. Spartan and sparsely decorated, this office could not be mistaken to belong to anyone else, but Loratranna Trannyth. Loratranna was the first female Councillor in the Order of Associates since the Monastery was founded. Stories told of her mentioned Kord himself blessing her from the sky, and battles upon battles won in his name. She was more battle-hardened than most knights and soldiers of Briam, and yet, she provoked no fighting without a good reason, just as most sensible humans would do.

    Ofcourse, Ianward thought, she could have used a better hairstyle – but ceremonial braids were almost mandatory to Kord female followers, and he thought no more of this. The door opened, and Ianward greeted Loratranna warmly.

    "My dearest Loratranna, good day and the Dawn be with you", he said.

    "Ianward! Good day, and may Kord bless you always. I did not expect to find you here today. The ceremony takes place in a few hours, does it not?"

    "Indeed it does. I would just like to make sure you have picked only the best and finest for the Expedition this year. Can you spare a few minutes and tell me of your choice?"

    Loratranna sneered a bit. "My choice… Well, Ianward, it is not as if I have hundreds of students and young ones to spare. You know well that the Order is small. However, I have no regrets about Durth. He is among the most devoted githzerai I know. Pelor himself must count his Grace lucky to have him as a follower. He wakes up and goes to sleep with an inner spirit that radiates energy at all times".

    Ianward was visibly interested. "I see. A githzerai follower of Pelor, then. He should make for an interesting choice, that one. Probably better than the last battle-crazed Kord fellow you sent, at least."

    Loratranna's voice became a tad less warm. "Well, we both know that Stephanius had his… inner issues, and Kord has nothing to do with that. I have faith in Durth, however."

    Ianward touched Loratranna's hand, and then shook it. "Thank you, Councillor Trannyth. That will be all. We shall meet again in the ceremony."

    Loratranna returned the courtesies, and saw Ianward to the door.
    ---------------- 
    A few minutes later, Ianward was approaching the Order of the Shining Light. Every time he came here, many memories were refreshed in his mind – this was the Order he served for so many years, before eventually becoming Prime Councillor. The initiation… the oaths… the Platinum Dragon… Everything seemed to mark his life in here. He navigated the familiar corridors with ease, and silently observed that all Paladins seeing him kneeled immediately, and stayed so until he had moved well past them. He also heard hushed voices around, proclaiming "Prime Councillor Tarmikos!" "Honor and glory!" "Bahamut bless you!", and other honorifics.

    He climbed up the intricate staircase which depicted the Dawn of the Light in all its glory, and reached the private office of Davgretor Icesword. Davgretor was pretty much an exemplary dragonborn Paladin, serving Bahamut completely and zealously, as expected from him. He knocked on the door and heard a deep voice answering "Come in, brother". Entering the office, he found Davgretor as he expected him to be – having donned his shining silver armor with the Bahamut crest on the chest, which seemed as if it was forged yesterday.

    "Good day brother, and may Bahamut protect you", said Ianward.

    "The Platinum Dragon bless you, brother. To what do I owe the honor?"

    "Ah, it's nothing of grave importance. I thought to drop by and discuss your choice for the Expedition this year. If I'm not mistaken, he's a cavalier, is he not? Not exactly the typical Paladin, this one…"

    Davgretor smiled widely. "Maxilian… Of course, I'd be quite hesitant to call him typical Paladin material. And he follows Bane, which makes him further stand out, I suppose. You should not be disillusioned, however, brother. Maxilian is an excellent fighter and an inspiring leader in battle. Did you know he's a Cavalier?"

    Ianward nodded apprehensively. "Yes, this much I know. Cavaliers are usually dependent and valiant warriors, of course. Well then, I trust Bane worship is nothing to be skeptical about?"

    "Maxilian Swandance does not worship Bane as a blackguard would. He strives to reach battle perfection, and Bane has a tradition of military prowess, I'd say. Keep in mind that Maxilian spends a good amount of time meditating in other Orders, among others. When you meet him, you shall understand."

    "Your words reassure me, brother", said Ianward while shaking the scaly hand of Davgretor. "I have to go now, and prepare for the ceremony. My apologies".

    "No apologies needed, Ianward. We will speak later."
    ---------------- 
    Ianward moved towards the very center of the Monastery. There, the largest Order was spread in several grand buildings, the Order of the Creators. While having visited the Order hundreds of times in the past, its magnitude and scale always amazed Ianward. He saw clerics of Melora and Sehanine perform ceremonial blessings outdoors, with flowers and water streams among them; elven followers of Corellon praising the beauty of the world, and their god alike; tiny forms to the eye, but carrying great souls, the clerics of Avandra, the halfling patron, chatting lively in their outdoor shrine…

    …And moving inside the Order grounds, he found Raven Queen clerics dressed in ceremonial raven uniforms and meditating beside animal skulls; clerics of Ioun seeking internal nirvana and knowledge, reading from entirely gigantic books; and of course, clerics of Pelor, in their Sun Room, which has more windows than humanly imaginable, and prisms to direct the sun energy of the Shining One. Others, too, were present, in smaller rooms, worshipping their own deities, obscure or less known. Fascinating, as always – The Order of the Creators.

    Ianward found Belven Fletcher, his friend and Order Councillor, together with his Pelor initiates. Belven had a very rigid schedule in regards to training, and even in special days such as today, he had the habit of displaying Pelor's ways around ceremonies. Belven saw Ianward and signified a break to his initiates.

    "By the Sun! Good day Ianward, you should have told me you were coming", said Belven.

    "The Dawn be with you, I will not be staying long, brother", replied Ianward. "The issue is not major - I would just like to talk about that, what was his name, Ur'thak?"

    Belven chuckled. "It's Ur'thal, Ianward, I wonder when will your memory stop misplacing things in your head"

    "This day shall not come before I die", added Ianward with a knowledgeable smile.

    "Ur'thal… He was my personal choice for the Expedition. He has spent quite a few years here, and I trust him very much. Solid young fellow, really, if it wasn't for this Vecna curse, he'd be perfect. "

    "Vecna curse? Are you sending a cursed one to join our Expedition?" Ianward seemed disturbed at the news.

    "No, it's not as it sounds. Ur'thal was cursed by a Vecna spirit when he was only months old, or at least we believe it to have been a Vecna spirit. The spirit robbed Ur'thal of his use for his right hand, and left him blind from the right eye. However, when he came here, we were unable to magically restore either of his parts, but his soul did not carry any evil marks, in plain sight or concealed. I checked personally using the most advanced rituals I know… The child was clean."

    "Very interesting… I think he will do fine, then. Especially considering the nature of this years' Expedition…" said Ianward.
    Patting him in the back, Ianward added to Belven "Time is running out. I have to go now, and prepare for the ceremony. I will see you there, friend".

    "The Light of the Creator shine over you, Councillor Tarmikos."
    Last edited by Sovjohn; 2011-05-15 at 06:16 AM.

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    Durth swallowed another forkful of breakfast thinking about the mornings practice, mentaly going through the steps, when Leoril stepped into the room. Lowering his fork to the table, Durth gave him his full attention. After hearing Leorils request, Durth nodded his acknowledgement and gave a simple "Thank you." planning on taking his advice and being on time.
    Excusing himself from the table, Durth headed towards Prime Councilor Tarmikos room. Noticing as he approached, several others of various orders heading in the same direction.
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    Meanwhile (2/2)

    Prime Councillor Tarmikos, this time around, carried on towards the underground caverns that formed the foundation of the Order of the Runes, where the majority of the Monastery's dwarven population dwelled. Albeit darker, at first glance, from the remainder of the Monastery, the opinion a visitor might form of the Order changed radically once inside its grounds. A splendor of dwarven craftsmanship waited to dazzle the senses of any visitor – A majestic representation of Moradin's principles could be found at the Hall of the Ancestors, an exquisite construction which paid heed to the dwarven tradition, with thousands of runes, some of which dated back to the dawn of time, carved on virtually every surface of it, be it walls, floor, ceiling, or decoration.

    Further inside the Order, it became apparent that craftsmanship was indeed promoted in all its forms: Numerous blacksmiths and smelters exercised their profession here, producing magnificent items which were worn with pride: Armor, swords, maces, hammers, bearing some clan's insignia, Moradin's ceremonial hammer, or the Order's crest, were readily available. The atmosphere almost smelled of mithril and adamantite. Ianward was sure that, should he focused enough, he would be able to see diamond dust flowing through the light.

    Ianward had no trouble at all locating Udolannan Battleheart, the Order Councillor. He seemed to challenge visitors to track him, based on the sound of his hearty laughter alone. Udolannan was notorious for his ale drinking contests, when not being on duty of course – Contrary to popular belief, being charged with being drunk whilst on duty was a heavy crime in the dwarven society. Naysayers claimed that this was the only way to prevent clerics and runepriests from worshipping Ale Almighty instead of Moradin, but this was a rather unfair depiction of things, and Ianward knew better than that.

    "Good day and the Dawn be with you, Udolannan", greeted Ianward.

    "Ianward! By Moradin's beard, welcome! Honor and glory!", replied Udolannan – or perhaps, should one not pay close enough attention, one might think it was Udolannan's hazel-brown beard which replied – but on closer inspection, his mouth was visible.

    "Unfortunately, good Councillor Battleheart, I do not have much time, so I'll go straight to the point: I wanted to discuss the choice the Order made for the Expedition this year."

    Udolannan frowned a little. "Discuss? Something troublin' ye? I decided to send to the expedition our greatest living treasure – The mark of power of Moradin himself!"

    "I understand… he's a construct, is he not?" asked Ianward with a slightly mischievous look.

    "Of course 'e is! As ye very well know, Rig was a very assisting…construct, exactly. At least, until the Creator himself blessed us with his presence, and breathed life into Rig!"

    "I see… And, does he talk? Will he present any problems?
    " inquired Ianward, afraid of any unpleasant consequences, and determined to find out if the Expedition was at risk.

    "Yes, Rig talks. And more than you'd expect, too! He's as kind as an angel, however, so no problems should find you with him aroun'!" replied Udolannan with a hearty laugh.

    "Most impressive… I will reserve judgment until I see him!" Ianward ended up saying.

    "Sure ye will, sure ye will… The ceremony is not so far away, is it? Shouldn't ye prepare already?"

    "Indeed I should, although mercifully, most of the preparations are already made. We will see each other there, Udolannan!"

    "True, we will, Ianward. I have prepared the ceremony runes meself, not to worry!" winked Councillor Battleheart.
    ----------------
    Ianward was moving towards the Order of the Holy Vengeance, at the far southern end of the Monastery, lost in his train of thought. There were outstanding issues with this Order, and Ianward had to appease Councillor Darella Daleborn sufficiently, today above all days, in order not to cause any problems to the ceremony. Darella resembled an otherworldly being on her own – While decisively human, she preferred appearing wearing a hood most of the time, or otherwise concealing herself; she preached that the wrath of Erathis, and other deities, was best delivered from a concealed attack.

    The Order of Holy Vengeance did not resemble other Orders in either magnitude or presentation. Darker, dimmer halls were the norm here, with the lighting seeming quite inviting to shadows…spirits…and unseen enemies. The Order was highly valued in the Monastery for gathering information about cults, and manifesting divine wrath itself, however, many among the Monastery's populace had never set foot in its grounds, unless they had quite compelling reasons to do so.

    Ianward reached the room / study where Darella could usually be found, and found it quite empty. He rang a small bell positioned by the bed once, but nobody appeared either. Deciding that he did not have much time to dwell around, he had just reached the balcony and was looking outside to see if anyone could be seen, when he heard an icy cold voice behind him.

    "Prime Councillor Tarmikos… We are honored." mentioned a voice. Its tone was not exactly sincere, though: The voice sounded more like a forced attempt of someone to greet another, than a heart-felt greeting of any kind.

    "Councillor Daleborn, the Dawn be with you", said Ianward.

    "To what do we owe your presence here today, Tarmikos? I did not think you would come here before that ceremony we're forced to endure!" added Darella with a venomous hint on her voice.

    "I came here to hear of any advice you might had for the Expedition, Darella. I know the Order of Holy Vengeance has no participation this year, but you know the task is too great to be ignored."

    "Participation… Advice! "Darella burst into a fit of laughter.

    "You know I have nothing to add, concerning a war we are not willing to fight in, Ianward."

    "Your decision is final? You will only send someone to take part in the Expedition if some of the initial members cannot carry on with his duties?"

    "But of course I will… I do not see any reason to provoke Vecna's wrath because the Monastery wants to play nice. We have endured too much to start being careless now, dear Councillor Tarmikos."

    "I do not agree. But I do not blame you. If you still feel this way, we will discuss this in the next conference of the Divine Council."

    "But of course we shall… as always… as always…" hinted Darella with signs of tired contempt in her voice.

    "And now you will excuse me, I have to get ready for the pompous ceremony."

    And with these words, she left the room, leaving Ianward readily perplexed, staring still outside the balcony.
    ---------------- 
    Ianward had now spent the better part of his morning walking, and silently reminded to himself that he was not the young paladin he once was. He found himself elated with the fact that the Monastery had only six orders, and not nine, or twelve. He would have to ride to reach them all in the same morning, and he was no cavalier of notice. Luckily, the Order of Invokation was not far from his own quarters, which is why he decided to visit it last.

    Immediately upon entering the Order's grounds, Ianward felt this familiar touch on his soul. Music seemed to flow through his ears, although he could not hear any. Splendid visions of fire turning into ice and back into fire filled his eyes, despite the yard being almost empty. His heart felt at ease here, and he had Vicorin Justiciar to thank for this. The Deva had taken really good care of the Order in the past 10 years, and among others, had installed special wards which psyched up allies and caused fear to enemies. When asked about this, he would say "The powers channeled through us can rally our friends, and destroy all foes. This is the essence of invokation".

    Ianward did not spend much time distracted by the Order cantrips, or even by the practicing acolytes who seemed to move their hands and implements causing great waves of energy to appear. He darted straight into Councillor Justiciar's office.

    "Good day Tarmikos. I thought you might come", said a melodic, otherworldly voice.

    "Vicorin, good day, and the Dawn be with you", responded Ianward casually.

    "Might I presume that you are here to inquire about Gred? You have the habit of being over-anxious, friend" added Vicorin, sensing the purpose of Ianward's visit.

    "You know me too well, Vicorin. I'd be surprised if you didn't, considering your age and intellect!" teased Ianward with a good-hearted smile.

    "Indeed, Ianward. I will not delay you much – Gred Deepsmiter is a great spiritual traveller, and a skilled invoker. You know how much I tire of conversation with inferior listeners. Gred holds this year's record of discussion time with me. Once, we talked for 5 hours straight, analyzing the potential the elimination of Tiamat might hold in strengthening Bahamut's spirit infinitely" said Vicorin, smiling back with his eerie glowing eyes.

    "Is that all? Nothing peculiar to pin on the dwarf?" wondered Ianward with sincere interest.

    "He is no deva. But he'll assist you greatly. If the Expedition referred to waging war to Asmodeus himself, then I'd join it myself. But for the task at hand, Gred is perfect."

    "Always calculating, always balancing your act before you unleash your divine energy to our foes, Vicorin. Very well, I will heed your advice, and evaluate Gred Deepsmiter myself."

    "A wise move indeed, Councillor Tarmikos. We can discuss of this more, after the ceremony" said Vicorin, with his eyes seeming to glow even more, if that was really possible.

    "This is the prudent thing to do. We will speak soon, Vicorin." With there words, Ianward bowed ever so slightly, and exited the office, and the Order immediately afterwards. The time was almost eleven 'o clock, and he had the Expedition members to meet in person.

    He moved towards his office, thinking "This should be interesting. An extraordinary group, this year. I hope they live up to their reputation, all of them".
    ----------------
    He then entered his office.

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    Leoril appeared before the group, greeting them with a smile.

    "Hello, and thank you for coming. Prime Councillor Tarmikos will now see you. Please proceed into his office."

    The Prime Councillor's Office was not as grand as one might imagine it - Splendid paintings decorated the walls, but other than that, it appeared that Ianward Tarmikos stayed true to the Paladin Code, which strongly recommended wealth to be shared with the community, and not clutched for oneself.

    Of course, visitors were expected in the Prime Councillor's office from time to time, and thus, some seats (including one which seemed to be curiously magically enhanced for sturdiness, and oversized quite a bit) were present there, next to the fireplace which by now was burning brightly.

    Prime Councillor Tarmikos sat up from his office once he saw the group entering.

    "Welcome, welcome. Please, have a seat. Please begin by telling me your names and Orders, if you will. We will then be able to get to know each other better!" said Ianward almost in one breath.

    He then sat again, and held his hand close to his chin, displaying sincere interest to the group members, as well as observing them, while waiting for the introductions to take place.

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    "I am Rig," announces Rig, "priest of Moradin and irrefutable proof of the power of runes. I represent the Order of the Runes."

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    Maxilian
    The cavalier of Bane bows graciously to the Prime Councillor, and then stands at attention, preferring not to sit. Maxilian Swandance, of the Noble House of Swandance, Cavalier of Bane, at your service, Councillor. Dawn be with you. I have the esteemed honour of representing the noble Order of Shining Light. The eladrin's posture is immaculate, his armor and weapons pristine, as if brand-new. Standing out in his attire is a small but ornate gold earring on his right ear, with a piece of amethyst in the centre.
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    Gred Deepsmiter entered the office of the Prime Councilor and quickly glanced at the others there before bowing low until the braid of his beard swept the floor. Standing straight again he then proceeded to introduce himself, I am Gred Deepsmiter of the Order of Invokation and I am honoured to be selected for the expedition. May the dawn be with you all. Having finished introducing himself, Gred nods to the others before taking a seat.

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    Ur'Thal Dekaj, Human Cleric of Ioun

    "I am Ur'Thal Dekaj, initiate of Ioun, representing the Order of the Creators, m'Lord. And may the dawn's light find that which hides in darkness." As he sat down, he looked around the room at the others. He was impressed by the selections and quietly wondered if he deserved this great honor. He absent-mindedly rubbed his right hand as the others introduced themselves.
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    Durth waited patiently for the others to state their names, taking an account of their reactions. When it came to his turn he took a short breath "I am Durth. Order of Associates." it came out shorter and more direct than he had intended, but he was not much of one for idle chatter anyway. With a slight bow he then took his seat, curious as to what would happen next.
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    Satisfied from what he saw, Ianward Tarmikos leaned forward and crossed his hands.

    "Excellent. Nice to meet you all in person. Please, Cavalier Swandance, take a seat if you will, this is an off-the-record chat and you should know each other before the ceremony. I do not mean to inconvenience you, I'm just asking.

    I will have you know that the Expedition is not an affair for novices and misfits. You may have heard the objectives of the past few years, or even met some of the Expedition members of those previous, ah, adventures.

    Last year, the Monastery recovered the Rod of Pelor's Wrath from the distant nation of Muse'ka, and the smugglers who intended to sell it to cultists in order to defile it.

    Two years ago, you may have heard about this, there was an incident when our Expedition then attempted to use a silver dragon for their purpose of destroying a foul orcish colony of Gruumsh, and the aforementioned dragon injured gravely several of its members.

    Ever since, I have taken personal care of the recommendations for the Expedition. Earlier today I talked about you with your respective Order Councillors, and they unanimously vouched for your skills, character, and integrity. I was very pleased to find out that you all have excellent references.

    You may have noticed that one Order, the Order of Holy Vengeance, has not provided us with an Expedition recommendation this year. I assume you are at least broadly familiar with, let's say, Monastery politics, however, hopefully you will be joined by one of their envoys later in your journey.
    "

    Ianward paused for a moment, and looked to his fireplace absentmindedly, as if trying to decipher the meaning of the flames burning. He composed himself immediately, and called Leoril:

    "Leoril, please bring me the parchment".

    Leoril entered the office and handed a rolled parchment to Ianward, who left it on his office.

    "This year's Expedition has a noble cause - We have information that artifacts linked to Vecna have been unearthed and used by cultists to zombify, or otherwise control, innocent townsfolk. Our goal is simple: Destroy the cult once and for all, and bring the artifacts here for magical destruction.

    We have reason to believe that the cult is secretly supported by the Monastery of Eleven Pillars, located not very far from here, in the Volvue district. The Eleven, governing body of the Monastery there, supposedly are all of paramount integrity and morals, however, we have reason to believe some of them have been irrefutably corrupted and direct resources actively towards the worship of Vecna.

    I do have some information, including locations to begin your search, and I hope you understand why our selection process this year was so...
    " Ianward fixed his gaze on Ur'thal "...vigorous and detailed".

    Ianward got up, and unrolled the parchment on a nearby table.

    "Before we talk about locations, do you have any questions for the nature of this years' Expedition? Feel free to ask me as a friend, not as a superior", he added with a friendly smile, and stood next to the table with his hands, once again, crossed on his chest.

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    Maxilian
    The eladrin gives a courteous smile and shakes his head when Tarmilkos asks him to sit. Truth be told, Councillor, I am more comfortable upright. Call it a force of habit.

    Once he has finished explaining, the cavalier nods his head. Very interesting. I have some questions about mission specifics - do we have any intelligence on which of the eleven pillars have been corrupted? Can we expect any support at all within the neighbouring Monastery? He pauses, then asks a few more questions. What is the favoured weapon of a worshipper of Vecna, Councillor? I would hone myself in the proper combat techniques to destroy such foes. And this may seem an odd question... but what are the chances that we will encounter elementals? The others can sense... hope?... in this last question.
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    Durth lost focus for a moment as a small disruption in his breathing came about with the mention of the citizenry. Gathering himself he looked up as Ianward finished speaking. "Sir, who on the Governing body is suspect?" It was doubtful they would have to deal with those in governance, but Durth wanted to know who would allow such evil.
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    Ur'Thal Dekaj, Human Cleric of Ioun

    Ur'Thal's heart skipped a beat when Ianward mentioned cultists of Vecna. He rubbed his withered right hand again as he continued to listen to the Councillor. Mild trepidation was slowly being replaced by confidence and eagerness to start the mission and bring the cultists to justice. Ur'Thal hated Vecna and everything that evil being represented: Secrets, undeath, darkness.

    After the briefing, Ur'Thal spoke up. "Sir, I have only one question: Would these artifacts you speak of be the eye and hand of Vecna?"
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    Ianward seemed satisfied to hear the questions he heard, and while still standing next to the table, he answered:

    "Of course, of course... First of all, sadly we lack precise intelligence on who exactly from the Monastery of Eleven Pillars may be providing resources to the cultists. However, since the Monastery general populace has not changed to zombies, liches, or anything of the kind, we presume that they act in a composed, yet stealthy, manner, so as to prevent a mass-scale conflict with their subordinates. At this point of time, we should expect the worst.

    Considering we have no official evidence, it will be hard even for you to visit the Monastery of Eleven Pillars and investigate, since we have sent no such request yet, and as you know, Monasteries tend to welcome visiting scholars and adventurers for short periods of time, but not active associates of other Monasteries, save for official visits.

    I will attempt to schedule a visit for you at a later date, but first you will need to travel to Roque, and investigate the actions of the cultists there. After all, the main cult operation should be located outside the Monastery of Eleven, or at least this is what we believe thus far. I should point out that we believe multiple artifacts or magical items to be used, definitely the Hand or Eye of Vecna, as well as other, less powerful, evil objects.
    "

    Ianward turned to Maxilian, smiled, and said:

    "Vecna followers do not have any particular weapon of choice, although I'd expect exotic weapons such as morningstars or scythes to be more used than "simple" longswords. A good portion of such cultists tend to be clerics, or wizards, using their arcane or divine power to impress cultists of lower standing. As for elementals, I cannot say. I would not rule them out, however."

    Walking from the table to the window and back to the table, Ianward said:

    "I will be happy to answer any other questions you have, but if you don't have any pressing concerns, we will talk about resources and contacts to assist you in your noble mission. We will have to start making ready for the ceremony, after all."

    At the sound of the word "ceremony", Ianward's eyes seemed to shine brightly.

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    Maxilian
    Scythes and Morningstars... these are cumbersome weapons. I should use my heavier shield, I think. Very well. I have no further concerns for the time being, Councillor, though I may develop more as we are properly debriefed on the mission. Will our expedition have time before our departure to discuss our respective roles and determine such necessities as marching orders?
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    Vecna? And we are delaying? Lets get straight to the ceremony so we can deal with this scourge.

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    Rig stands motionless, waiting for further instruction.

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    Ur'Thal Dekaj, Human Cleric of Ioun

    Ur'Thal nods to Gred. "I agree with you. This mission seems to be of critical importance. We should not tarry any more than necessary." Turning back toward Ianward, he bows and adds, "and I thank you again, m'Lord for allowing me to be a part of this mission. May the light I bring penetrate Vecna's deepest secrets."
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    Ianward nodded apprehensively.

    "Very well. I would like to personally wish you luck, and ensure you that the resources and knowledge of the Monastery will be at your disposal, you will have our full and unwavering support.

    We should all get ready for the ceremony now, since this is an important part of our tradition. When the ceremony is complete, please seek Leoril - he will take care of gear, consumables and provisions for your journey, and brief you on Monastery contacts. You will be expected to depart tomorrow, and will spend this night under common quarters in preparation of your departure.

    May the Light of the Dawn shine upon you always, and best of luck to your endeavor, which will undoubtedly bring honor and glory to us all.
    "

    Ianward then pounded his fist on his right torso, in an apparent gesture of respect, and at this point of time, Leoril opened the door, holding it open for you to pass through. The ceremony was due to begin in 25 minutes, in the Cathedral of Dawn.
    Last edited by Sovjohn; 2011-05-24 at 05:00 PM.

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    Gred stands to his feet and makes for the open door. Well gentlemen, to the ceremony and then to end this curse upon the land!

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    Maxilian
    Maxilian salutes the Councillor. Dawn be with you, and Black Hand favour you, Councillor. With that, the highborn eladrin follows Leoril out of the room, his posture remaining as immaculate in motion as it is when standing still.
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    "You are a good man, Ianward Tarkimos." says Rig, still standing completely still. "Your work here will be remembered for generations. May the Dawn be with you."

    With that the construct strides out the door, heading directly to the Cathedral of Dawn.

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    Durth nods respectfully "The light be with you as well" he then makes his way toward the door, stopping to allow Rig to pass through. I wonder what it must be like to not feel, but to be spirit and machine he thinks to himself as he walks behind the living construct.
    Last edited by Leotholdus; 2011-05-25 at 11:35 AM. Reason: rewrite
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    Ur'Thal Dekaj, Human Cleric of Ioun

    Ur'Thal is the last one to stand and leave the office, and he does so silently, only nodding respectfully to Ianward. Ianward's revelation about the mission weighed heavier on Ur'Thal's heart than he expected. So much so, that he physically felt burdened, making it harder to stand up and walk out. While searching out Vecna's infiltrators in the Monastery of Eleven Pillars, fighting undead and cultists, and securing deadly evil artifacts were things not to be trifled with, Ur'Thal's biggest concerns were of a more personal nature. While he doesn't doubt his abilities, he knows his selection was at least partly motivated by his curse. That being said, he felt like this was the greatest opportunity to learn about what happened to him when he was an infant and more importantly, why. For the first time in his life, Ur'Thal questioned whether he was prepared for the answers he's always sought.
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