Zephyros clears his throat to gather the group’s attention as their argument turns toward conversation. “I require your five questions if you still seek my aid?”
The party defers to Carden since he originally sought Zephyros’ aid in helping him understand his brand. The rogue walks toward the cloud giant and speaks, “I have two pressing questions and will leave the others to the group. I have been branded and offered power from an entity that I do not fully understand. Would that Entity’s goals result in harm to my companions? Is the Entity named Tyranthraxus?” The cloud giant smiles widely, almost as if he over exaggerates the expression, the nods his understanding and then looks at Rhogar who steps forward. The dragonborn then asks, “Can the Chalice of Bahamut be found on the Sword Coast?” Zephyros’ eyes lighten as if he likes the question and then nods his understanding. Aelith and Tamnai look at each other as they both take a step toward the giant. Aelith defers to the priestess with a wave of his hand. The tiefling straightens her back as if gathering her resolve and then asks, “Was my father’s death an accident?” The giant then looks toward the ranger. Aelith immediately adds, “Is there another scale similar to the ones Carden and I possess within 50 miles of this location?” Zephyros nods his understanding before continuing, “I shall confer with those beyond the veil. I ask again that you do not ascend my home and confine yourself to this room or the outer clouds, though be careful at their edges. You may wish to bring your mounts inside, though I expect you to clean after them if you do.” The cloud giant looks at the blood stains and soot that still remain on his marble white floors with a frown. “Maybe you can use some of your time here to remove the obvious evidence that you were here. If all goes well with my ritual, I will return in less than an hour. If not, it may be awhile longer.” With that, he levitates back upward through the large opening to the second floor. A few moments later, you here some screeching far above and as you look up into the opening you can see a large creature staring back down at you from another chamber further up the tower over 200 feet above. Its eagle like head screeches and then darts across the opening giving a glance at its feathery neck that leads into a feline like body.
Tamnai sighs and stretches before looking around. “Does anyone know presdigitation or do we have to clean this by hand?”
“Hmm?” Dyan’ette responds, almost as if his mind is elsewhere while he stares at the still unconscious captive. “Oh, yes.” An arcanic phrase here, a wriggling of the fingers there, and suddenly the red lenses in his glasses flash a soft red glow as his arcane focus flares to life with Mystra’s weave. Red blood, wet and dry, becomes waxy as it mingles with itself. The scuffs left behind from well-worn boots, peel from the pristine white tile and begins to float upwards to eye level. After a few moments, blackened feathers begin circling about. The whirlwind of damage grows until all physical traces of battle are chasing one another in a growing ball of mischief, that simultaneously seems to become smaller as it pulsates with a faster rhythm. Just as it seems the spell is about to fail and the ball of gore and filth is going to explode, the dark elf snaps his fingers, and the blackened, pulsating ball instantly vanishes leaving everything as clean and pristine as it was before. “A flare for the dramatic, to be sure. But i do so love that spell,” he says, more to himself than anyone else. Turning to the monk, and casting a glance towards Tamnai and Rhogar, he clears his throat and says, “What do we do about him?” as he points to their newest captive.
Nodding Tamnai moved behind the captive. “We ask him questions of course. His friends were very rude and honestly another elemental cult disturbs me.”
As the group moves toward the bound cultist, Carden speaks up, “Take that armor first. He might feel less confident without his feathery garb. Never hurts to put a prisoner on edge, especially for an interrogation…”
Tamnai chuckled and begin to play with the red of her hair. “Do you have a way to remove full armor without taking off bindings? Because that is quite a trick.” She teased.
“Hold person is just as effective,” quipped Dyan’ette, his nose buried in the giant tome.
Aelith seems nervous. “What, exactly, does ‘interrogation’ entail with this group?”
Rhogar states firmly while making eye contact with Carden and Dyan’ette, “We will not harm a helpless captive. We can handle questioning this one without resorting to violence.” He turns toward Tamnai, “Cleric, I can place him in a zone of truth for 10 minutes if that would be helpful.” To Aelith, “Ranger, would you like to take part in the interrogation to ensure that nothing unsavory is done? You seem like someone skilled with words.”
“Rhogar, my paladin friend, if i wanted him dead, i would not have gone through the trouble of keeping him alive,” Dyan’ette gestured offhandedly, removing his nose from buried the book to make eye contact with the Dragonborn. “He has nothing to fear from me. But i will say this, and it’ll be the last I speak of it, leaving an enemy behind to regroup is folly.” Dyan’ette shrugs, “that seems to be the way of things up here on the surface, and i will abide by those rules for now, even as I disagree with them.”
As an aside to Aelith, Carden mutters, “Usually we just yell at them until they panic and say something. Hopefully this Zone of Truth thing works better, I don’t want to piss off our host with our screaming…”
“Rhogar, if it’s alright, I wanted to try something. You can still cast the zone of truth if you wish.” She smiled, all fangs, her eyes ever so slightly nervous. “Is there any specific questions we want to ask or can I just do this?”
“As you wish. I’m interested to see what you will do.” Rhogar looks at the cultist and smiles a toothy smile.
Tamnai pulled a copper piece out of her bag, tying it back up after. Before she touched the cultist’s head muttering a few words to wake him up. Her hand lighting bright with holy light, and his wounds healing slightly. She tilted his head up to look at her. “Now, I like to think I am a good person, so I’m going to make this as painless as possible.” She took a step back and flipped the coin in her hands muttering softly, dark Sparks spilled from her fingertips and her eyes closed naturally. Her stripes seemed to darken for just a moment, as the copper warbled in the air and then disappeared. As she finished her casting her eyes slid open, no whites remained just the golden color and thin slitted pupils. She crouched down to the captive’s level. “Now tell me what your group’s aims are.” The words lisped slightly behind larger fangs.
The man looks somewhat intimidated at the use of magic and his eyes have a semblance of panic that do not fully understand what is going on. He bumbles a few words, before calming enough to state, “We are the Howling Hatred. We are devoted to Yan-C-Bin, the true lord of air and skies. There is no need to hide our goal. We only sought to offer the giant an alliance. Our mission is to punish those who have wronged against the skies and the giant would have been a great ally.”
Dyan’ette continues scribing, half listening to Tamnai and Rhogar’s questioning. Fanatic, he thinks to himself. They come in all flavors, it seems. With a smirk on his lips, he continues his work, nothing right now is more important that the knowledge in Zephyros’ tome.
She nodded and smirked, “who are those who’ve wronged the sky?”
He looks up at the Sunite, “I would say you at this point since you murdered two of their priests and thrice that in Feathergale Knight escorts.” [His thoughts reveal little more as if he does not know any one individual or group that has wronged the sky. As if he was simply repeating what he has been told.]
The Feathergale Knight looks about at the group as if out of his depth before speaking loudly to let them hear, “Look, I am just a Soldier. I swore an oath to protect my charges, and you killed them. Once battle engaged, I had no choice. It was my duty. What is she doing to me? Why are her eyes all blank and shiny?” [Tamnai sees his surface thoughts as a plea to survive. He obviously thinks the group is going to murder him.]
Dyan’ette sighs inwardly, eyes staring towards the giant’s book. “Same story as the earth cultists,” he whispers. "People throw their lot with organizations they claim to know nothing about. Either they are lying or they are incredibly ignorant. “Even during my tenure with Bregan D’aerthe, I knew who’s company I kept and how my association with them reflected upon me. “They started the battle. Had it gone differently, I doubt they would show us such… mercy.”
She didn’t seem to notice Dyan’ette’s speaking or even the Knight’s plea to the group. “Will you tell your friends about us if we let you go?”
He quickly blurts out, “No, no!” I will keep your secret. [Tamnai easily sees his thoughts confirming the lie. She also sees his doubt of his ability to return as if it could take weeks on foot to return and his worry that most of those he considered friends were among those slain.] His eyes avoid Tamnai’s glare, “I have no means to return to those you call my friends since you likely scared off our mounts.”
Dyan’ette looks up from the tome briefly to watch both Yeshua and Aelith for their reaction, content to sit back and watch this unfold from the corners of his eyes.
She shook her head. “I didn’t plan on killing you, but you lie to me again and I won’t hesitate to push you off this cloud.” She pulled herself up to her full height, “We killed your friends, some here won’t hesitate to kill you. Why should we let you live?”
The words of a spell sits the dark elf’s lips, and his fingers grip quill and parchment aching for movement, as the lens on his glasses begin to glow with magical energy… Please don’t. His thoughts race…
The knight looks confused before answering, “What manner of murderers are you? A admit the priest provoked your man, but then we replied as sworn by our oath. Do you have no honor, no compassion, no morals? If this is the way of your group, perhaps the priests should have enlisted you instead. Any answer I give will not appease you demon-spawn! You are clearly out for my blood or my very soul!” He looks to the others, “What false gods do you follow that allows for blatant murder of an unarmed man?” [The surface thoughts are panicked and jumbled as if this man is truly fearful that his life will end at the hands of a demonic glowing eyed fanged monstrosity]
“You will not be harmed as long as you submit to our questions and swear by your god that you will not harm us in any way,” Rhogar interjects while keeping his tone of voice low and even. “But I would recommend not insulting anyone’s faith if mercy is what you seek.”
He whispers to Tamnai, “Lets back it off a bit, my friend. He’s not going anywhere.”
Rhogar turns and kneels to speak directly to the cultist. “How are feeling? Are you hungry or thirsty?” Rhogar reaches into his pack and pulls out a ration and his waterskin and offers it to the captive.
“He’s a hired muscle,” Aelith says from his seat against the wall. “No matter how much he buys into their cult, he’s not one of the men making decisions for the cultists.” Aelith looks up as he speaks. “He’s not our enemy. Let him go.” Turning his attention toward the soldier, “do you want to see us again? Especially across the battlefield?”
Tamnai jerks back like she had been slapped, there’s a pause where she doesn’t move, doesn’t breathe, before she turns and runs out of the room, onto the clouds.
Her eyes fill with tears as she sinks to the ground and hold in her sobs. Images of herself, twisted and evil in her mind.
Sensing the immediate danger pass, Dyan’ette allows the spell to dissipate, his lens returning to their normal shade of dull red. Pushing himself up from the table, he cracks his knuckles, and decides that he likely needs some air. “A man stabbed in the heart cares not if the cutthroat holding the dagger believes in the cause. Dead is dead to the man who died, end effect is the same.” He moves to follow Tamnai out the great doors, “I will see to our Sunite friend.”
The man seems very confused at the sudden outburst before looking at the dragonborn. “I would be grateful for the food and water.” he then looks toward Aelith, “I do not want to cross your path again.”
“When the giant lowers the… cloud… bridge… staircase… whatever we’re calling it, just send him on his way without weapon or armor. Tamnai was the one that said the guards were harmless and not a threat. Might as well believe that, right?”
A few moments after Dyan’ette exits, the group watches as Zephyros floats through the opening above. As the giant’s feet touch the floor, he looks at the group and sees that a couple are missing, “I have successfully contacted one beyond the veil, but this one seemed far too eager to give the information. I do not doubt that is accurate, but am curious as to why its interest in some of the questions.” The giant looks at the knight eating the ration and then suggests, “Perhaps this one would be best placed elsewhere for your revelations.” With that he bellows a deep call, “Garush, Clarost!” A screech from above is heard and then two large griffons dive through the opening and land at the giant’s feet. He points at the knight, “Take that one to your perch and watch it until I come for him.” The Griffons burst into motion and one topples the man over as it passes and the second clutches the man’s shoulders and starts ascending back through the opening above. The pounding of wings lessens as the beasts gain altitude and then Zephyros continues. “I will get straight to your questions. He looks at Carden, you asked if the entity’s goals will result in harm to your companions? The answer was that your companions’ welfare is irrelevant to the entity. When asked if the Entity was named Tyranthraxus? The response was immediately no.” The giant turns toward Rhogar, “You asked if the Chalice of Bahamut could be found on the Sword Coast? After a moment or so, the answer yes was received.” Looking toward Aelith, “Your query if there was another scale similar to the ones Carden and you possess within 50 miles of this location was answered with a sense of anticipation. The answer was much closer.” “I have the tiefling’s answer as well. Should I wait for her return? The dark elf owes me his story as well.”
Makeup smudged and slightly out of place, Tamnai straightened her back as she saw the giant. Prepared for another blow. “Sorry to keep you waiting. What have I missed?”
“Less another question of peering into the ether and more a question to a scholar,” Aelith begins, pondering the giant’s reply. “Do you have any idea how we might go about searching for another of the scales? They don’t exude any signs of magic, which makes tracking them hard if not nearly impossible.” He glances up at Tamnai’s return. “My answer can wait until you share your scrying with her.”
Dyan’ette enters the great hall on the heels of the Tiefling, attempting but failing to wipe what looks like horse saliva off his palms as he rubs his hands against his robes. Knowing that he’s not part of this conversation, the dark elf continues past the gathered group, and moves to the table to finish the last of his transcribing, all the while, wondering what story to tell that would satisfy Zephyros’ curiosity.
The giant watches as the Sunite and dark elf return. Once Tamnai closes he looks at her, “Priestess of the Firehair, you asked if your father’s death was an accident. The answer came clearly with inflection upon each word, His was.”
She pauses, taking a breath in she nodded slightly. “Thank you for everything.” Her brows pull close as she considers his words.
Zephyros watches her reaction before turning to Aelith to answer his query. I do not know a means to track these scales you possess, though I sense a unique quality about them. They may be the means to finding others or perhaps it is left to simple chance or fate for those that believe such tenets. If you choose to stay, I shall move us higher and closer to Waterdeep. I can descend in the darkness before dawn and place you an hour or less from the north gates. Otherwise I can place you on the surface now. It is your choice. He glances at Carden, "You asked of that mark and I do recognize it as a draconic symbol. Perhaps you can find a dragon scholar in the city to aid you. For now, I am ready for my story. He moves and sits behind his table and looks patiently at Dyan’ette.
The drow tells Zephyros his tale of the underdark and the drow.
The cloud giant ponders the words of Dyan’ette’s recall of his kind and their homes deep beneath the surface as if committing them to memory. “Interesting, but not a site I would wish to visit.” A few screeches come from high above in the tower and Zephyros stands again, “I should feed my pets before they wish to turn their charge into a meal.” He looks at the group and offers, “Continue your rest and I can drop you near Waterdeep under the cover of darkness before dawn. I will offer you a single casting to view beyond the veil again if you have something of value in exchange.” He reaches into a large bag at his side and removes two barrels and a small crate. “One barrel of water and one of a wine produced in the Moonshaes should suffice for you and your mounts until you leave. The crate has a collection of cheeses and a think a few sacks of roasted nuts. I need some rest and will return before dusk. I ask you again to restrict yourself to this chamber and the clouds outside. We are much higher and the winds could prove problematic if you approach the edges. When I return, you can tell me your choices.” He moves beneath the opening and levitates slowly to the next floor some 100 feet higher.
Rhogar thanks the giant as he rises before asking Carden to assist him with the horses. Tamnai and Dyan’ette discuss the ring of spell storing and its replenishment as the rest of the group decides to rest.
When Zephyros returns, the party decides to refrain from further questions. The cloud giant beckons them to sleep and that he will place them north of Waterdeep before dawn under the cover of darkness. The party takes his advice and think of what they need to accomplish in Waterdeep the following day.