A roll of the dice. I watched Sorrow’s eye dart from die to die counting the score spread on the patch of clay. I sighed and adjusted my sunglasses, minding the sun flaring over her horns. I straightened my back against a couple of tangled turgent trees with shades of purple bark peeling away like the skin of a snake. I could feel them peel off under my pressing against the bark in the quiet moment.
It’s what had to be done. We were at an impasse. Cephas was a valiant warrior, yet had a righteous penchant for going rogue which could lure us into unneeded trouble. He was confident fool, I thought. Risking our entire mission — the only reason I still draw breath — because of… why? And now he’s got himself captured for no reason at all and so, it’s hard to find a reason to save him. And yet we need him to move forward. Maybe.
So we ask the gods. We cast lots.
Remembering now, from the somewhat drunken stoop of this tavern as darkness soaks the sword coast, I don’t really recall if it was even or odd. Whichever it was, the answer was to not save Cephas. We went back to the outside of town and scouted the location of the dragon cult’s connections and went for an early drink to start the day. It was now decided to leave Cephas for now, and we’d wait here and stay risk free until the Cult arrived.
All the argument was over, and yet now there was an energy in the air. I think I started to feel it pulse off of Orlando, who in character had even more bravado. He seemed to me to be winding up like a rope twisted around a branch. At first I thought it was just me, but as we neared the tavern early in the day I could tell his attitude wasn't one of restful waiting, but of pacing and sword and slash. I have no insight yet as to why, but I felt the same. Maybe it’s being so cooped up. As my powers have grown, as we’d defeated things others couldn't — to hide from this Guild and to listen to local warnings — in the light of our fight against the mighty and sprawling Dragon Cult, felt all wrong.
My eyes waited on Orlando for the twist inside him spin open. My gut proved true, and Orlando announced he was going to go after Cephas, alone or with whoever would come. I immediately stood and knew this was the course. Sometimes getting an answer helps you cut through the bullshit debate and realize which way you should go, and this had suddenly felt like one of those times. I morphed into a twin of Orlando’s bombast character and let my own winding spiral out, in a character I rarely have shown since I left the depths of the Underdark. It felt good to be extroverted, acceptable looking and decidedly powerful.
We all followed, with Sorrow in disguise as well, and Bodyknock invisible behind. Through the gate, we went to the wide and started drumming up public support loudly. We made a scene.
All the past months of dreams, all the learning and entering this new world as a magic user and fighter. No more powerlessness. It all swelled in me like an ocean storm rising to the least few days like chickens in a coop. And then it all unleashed itself in personality, as I heard myself loudly spouting before the crowd and carrying on like a politician or gloating champion.
I don’t recall what we said, just that we whooped them into a chant or two and stormed for the entrance to the Undercellar, hell-bent and ready to fight — praying for a fight.
When the guards didn't instantly comply with our demands, we blasted them, and another die had been cast. I knew they wouldn't work on a simple threat. In a moment of attack and positioning, we had the guards in our possession and one dead, with another sent away to fetch the Fetcher. I took a guard as a human shield and readied a Eldritch blast at the empty doorway. Both my shield and I heaving large breathes as we waited, I ran my mind through the new incantation I’d been learning in secret and had an inkling I’d soon need. It felt good to be on a saving mission, but mostly just to not feel powerless again. To not feel as I did watching my family and village burn around me at the hands of the cult. A fight against the Fetcher felt like a fight against the powerlessness of my youth, against the powerless feeling of being burned and killed with my family, and a flashing rage set me further on edge.
A crowd chanting outside, a room of guards fearfully eyeing each other in our grasp, and our groups anxiety focusing into intense poised energy. We were ready for the Guild.
I remember him coming around the corner with an entourage, one we’ve seen a few times, but this time with a new face – something different about it there. I don’t know who moved first, but the second I could, I didn't wait for conversation but blasted that new face. I didn't detect magic, but I assumed it (maybe feared it, with all the warnings and fears we’ve heard from or contacts who know the Guild). And a moment later, when I saw that new face focus their eyes and whisper and successfully block a mighty spell by hurled at the group from Sorrow, I saw what needed to be done.
My single minded obsession and practicing in secret paid off.
The moment I could, I cast a spell of darkness so dark that even I couldn't see through it. I put it in the swell of the back of the unknown new faced magician protecting Fletcher and his crew. The ball of dark enveloped them.
In a haze of anxious fury, we shot all we could into that dark, and as they scurried into the hall, so did the dark. Being able to see in the dark helps this deeper pitch stick out like a sore thumb. Shooting random blasts into the small ball was easy enough, and soon we heard the sounds of surrender as a single man crawled out on hands and knees begging us to stop.
It’s seemed to be only a minute or so of battle in all. Just a surge of shots into and out of the dark, and then only one was alive.
All that I recall after that is the walking of tunnels to the cells, and the group setting up this survivor, who, like all gang deputies, was eager to take his bosses Job. We helped set him up as the new Guild boss of the Undercellar and we freed Cephas.
I hope he never knows the plan was not to rescue him at all. That, it just might be merely the cooped up winding of tension finally released. The tired -of-waiting group of violence-addicted adventurers needing to taste steel.
It is now, as I rest into yet another pint, feeling more power than I thought possible, with the buzz of hefty liquor that I rarely touched before all of this started, that I can almost look beyond our mission. What happens if we don’t all die? What happens if we defeat the dragon cult in the end?
Perhaps the winding of the rope until another injustice lands in our path. Doomed to seek not comfort but combat. The thought crosses my mind and I take a drink to shake away the thought. The cult is too big, the job too far beyond what I can imagine. I almost feel that powerless ache again, at the thought of what’s ahead in waging war on the cult. But. With this strangely powerful group of ruffians, who aren't too honorable to do what it I fear it will take in the end to stop the Dragon Cult, we may have a chance.
I must return my mind to my reading and continue build up myself anyway I can find for what’s ahead. But with the events of today, I wonder how long we’ll last as mere spies without the taste of blood. What chance do we have at holding our swords as we stare at the evil ones sitting within our pounce — to wait is important, the mission is clear. But the reaping of vengeance feels better than wine. It tastes much better than death.
Ask we step out in the night the cold air makes my shoulders shudder. The memories of death bathe my mind. I’m so tired of dying. So tired of powerlessness. I need this new feeling of sturdy aggression.
I must learn and fight at every opportunity, Or I’ll never return to these lands of the living again and get my vengeance. This is my very last chance. I must be ready for every roll of the dice.