This is the first part of a side chat that our entire group participated in which I am in progress of writing up as a cohesive piece of prose. Dialogue is largely unedited and credit belongs to the players of the characters:
Istebrak – @PuddlesOCustard on Twitter
Sundur – @terrehdactyl on Twitter
Krol – @thogreer on Twitter
Kalandras – @Kalandras_ on Twitter
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Relieved for the chance to rest, Florian refilled his waterskin and took a long drink before he did anything else. The troglodytes being amenable to friendship was very unexpected, but welcome, for it meant they had a relatively safe place to spend the night – it seemed that truly, the enemy of their enemy was indeed, their friend. At least for tonight.
Satisfied that he wouldn’t need to keep it on for fear of hostile interruptions, Florian began to doff his armour. As he unfastened and laid the mithril half-plate to one side piece by piece, his thoughts turned to the longsword that S’slaar had given to them, and how he might have come across it, or who it may have previously belonged to. Perhaps more interesting was the engraving along the blade, however he wasn’t the one with expertise in that area, and so once he was done Florian picked up the weapon, and took it across to Istebrak.
“Here, let me,” he offered as he sat next to the drow, spotting that he seemed to be preparing to heal himself of the burns he’d caught from the Mephits. Placing the sword on the ground in front of them, Florian lifted his hand to where Istebrak’s neck met his shoulder, and with a gentle touch, channeled the divine magic of his heritage to restore and heal through his hands.
Watching with glowing eyes as Istebrak’s obviously sore and blistering skin calmed, then returned to its usual flawless state in a matter of moments, he withdrew after perhaps a beat too long as he noticed the relaxed state of Istebrak’s muscles beneath his fingertips. Looking up, Florian’s gaze flicked over the elf’s face. Istebrak was watching him in return with a level of curiosity that he hadn’t seen before, and it made him suddenly aware of himself.
“There,” he swallowed, suddenly aware of their proximity, “all fixed.”
Covering a sudden flush of embarrassment with a brittle smile, Florian’s eyes faded to their usual shade of blue as he averted them downward and reached for the sword, thankful to have had an actual reason for striking up a conversation. Pulling it onto his lap, he ran his fingers over the etchings on the blade before offering it to Istebrak, who seemed to have also taken up his formerly guarded posture.
“I… Ah, I wondered if you might be able to shed some light on the meaning behind this inscription. I understand it reads, ‘Darkness be praised’?”
“Oh, that’s a common greeting amongst the priesthood of Lolth,” Istebrak replied, partially unsheathing his own dagger to display the same inscription. “A weapon like that would have belonged to a cleric of… minor influence, not a neophyte but neither anyone of import.
“I imagine they took on these scaly fellows without sufficient numbers, my kin are often full of hubris.”
“Ah, I see…” Florian glanced at Istebrak’s dagger as he showed the etching, not attempting to hide the slight disappointment in his voice. Istebrak’s shift in demeanour from when Florian was healing him to now made him curious enough to forget his own nerves; he’d caught a glimpse of the drow with his defenses lowered, felt him relax, even if only for just a moment. He found himself rather hopeful to be able to find more ways to nurture what seemed to be a burgeoning trust, even if it meant lowering his own guards somewhat in order to do so.
“And here I was hoping you’d regale me with some sort of long-winded, pontifical myth to supplement it,” He offered a rueful smile out of the side of his mouth before attempting to catch Istebrak’s eye once more.
“Oh, I could, there is absolutely a long-winded tale behind it, but it is all artifice. The matriarchy started using it and needed a backstory so there was an attempt to shoehorn something in about Lolth’s escape from Correllon and such,” The drow smiled, a wide toothy grin that appealed to Florian’s hope.
“You’d be amazed how many gospel texts come about in the same way, we all love to tell stories about gods and monsters, but I prefer something more veracious.”
Florian nodded, understanding the entire sentiment. Lolth’s clergy were certainly not the only ones who created dogma and myth to suit their ideals; in fact he was quite sure that no religion was immune to the practice. Historical accounts of gods and monsters, as Istebrak had put it, were often hyperbolised, and more frequently disagreed upon. His own god, Azuth, had been “missing” for some time, in as much as nobody in the church truly knew where his domain was located or accessed from. There were plenty of theorised locations, but only one of which turned out to be true, which he had had the great fortune to discover for himself. Likewise Florian knew that his experience of going there – indeed, of traversing the planes at all – would give him a unique angle in academics, but he was not so naive as to think his accounts would be believed by all who read them.
“Of that I have no doubt. And of course, truth and wisdom are preferable, though the odd fairytale or two is of no harm so long as one recognises it as such,” he replied.
Istebrak looked up at the rest of the group, one by one laying his gaze upon them. Florian watched as his lavender eyes settled on the gruff dwarf Sundur first, then to their hulking Leonin friend, Krol, before sliding back to meet his own again. It seemed like he wanted to say something to all of them; and did, after just a moment’s hesitation.
“On that note,” Istebrak raised his voice slightly, their conversation no longer private, “I realise we’ve been travelling for some time together and I know almost nothing about any of you. I have difficulties with honesty myself so might I propose a game?”
Florian didn’t expect what Istebrak was suggesting, but found himself smiling in response all the same. It was true; they had been travelling together for some time without any real ability to socialise with one another – the circumstances had demanded swift action, and they had adopted both Istebrak and Krol as companions since the baths at Senaliesse, which seemed so long ago.
“We tell each other some things about ourselves, 3 precisely, only one of them is false and we must guess which…” Istebrak continued, then paused to look for the erstwhile fifth member of their party.
“Where is Kal? summon him from his hole and let’s open ourselves up!”
Florian agreed with a nod; it would be remiss to not take advantage of the relative safety of their current location to build some morale, and he had plenty of tales up his sleeves that none of the group would yet know about. He felt confident that the others would all likely be able to say the same.
“That sounds like a splendid idea to me,” Florian added, raising his waterskin, “One that could only be made better if we had something more interesting than water to drink…”
“You could try making tea! Though I know that’s not what you meant when you said interesting…” Sundur piped up, his voice gruff but jovial as he altered his position on the floor to bring himself closer. He looked between them.
“But aye, I’ll play your games. Who wants to go first?”