Chapter 1: Introduction

Nov 21, 2016 12:33 pm
The headache is overwhelming. Much like recovering from a blackout after a night of heavy drinking, things slowly start to creep back into your head as the pain recedes slightly. Your name. A few other names, maybe a face or two as well. Where you’re from. What you do. What doesn’t seem to come back for whatever reason is the memory of what the hell you were doing, what caused you this pain. To your shock, you realize it’s not just a loss of recent memory. On top of that, your memory seems to have lost its sense of continuity. Like flashbacks, you remember a few scenes pivotal to your life, but can’t really place where and when they happened, or which one came first.

The pain goes down another notch and your brain is finally able to register information from your senses. You are in the middle of a crowd moving slowly, steadily towards a common destination but you have no control over your body as it is shoved along by the avalanche of people. Nothing around you seems familiar. Faces are those of people you’ve never met before, but that’s only the beginning. There’s humans and dwarves and elves alright, but some races you’ve never seen or heard of before. No one’s talking, they all seem like hypnotized as they march towards their goal, carrying you along. The scenery around is not familiar either, rocky and alien it feels slightly foreboding. Up ahead you see the line of people snaking their way towards a large castle-like structure of unusual architecture. In the distance behind it, a huge spire stabs upwards into the clouds. Your neck hurts trying to go all the way back as you automatically try to discern where it ends, but somehow at its top there’s a big ring-shaped object that floats right above it, much like a ring that’s about to fall into place on a stony finger.

As you get closer, you realize that the structure that seemed like a castle from afar is actually a walled city. More of a castle or palace, because of the large buildings and areas inside that rise over the wall, plus a small settlement of the common folk on the outside of the walls. The stream of people takes you past the huge iron gate and into the massive compound of promenades, courtyards, gardens, granaries, libraries, towers, kitchens, stables, residences, storehouses, and workshops. The construction is of red brick, wood, and stone, with roofs of half-moon glazed tiles. Everything seems to be designed with an eye towards artistry and aesthetics, with even the smallest and meanest of buildings containing architectural flourishes.

Servants and clerks dive into the crowd and come out seconds later followed by someone. This slowly breaks down the river into streams of waiting lines that lead into various halls. The inside is no less grand than the outside, but curiosity gets the best of you as you try to look ahead. The line leads to an office, where a humanoid figure is performing some sort of bureaucratic duty. In front of him stands another figure, clad in full body armor of unusual design. As you get closer, you hear the figure asking everyone’s name. After the apparent clerk writes it down, the figure speaks some words aloud. Compassion. Faith. Devotion. Honor. Greed. Envy. Treason. Every word echoes like a gong, letting you ponder its significance. The figure then names one of the several halls in the compound, before the clerk rises up to hang a placard around the neck of whoever stands in front of the armored figure. As they are led elsewhere by more clerks, your eye catches that the placards read the words spoken by the armored figure. A list of vices and virtues, then a destination. This doesn’t look good.

When it’s your time to face the armored figure, he asks you for your name and you feel like it’s being ripped out of your chest as you are compelled to say it. Upon hearing it, the figure sizes you up. "This one’s not dead" he turns and says to the clerk behind him, this time speaking in a more casual manner. "Not fully dead, at least" he adds. The clerk checks a few scrolls, before replying "An anomaly, perhaps". The armored figure raises a gloved hand and there’s a minor blast on the ground next to him. Once the smoke clears, a nightmarish figure stands there. Over 8 feet tall and thicker than a gorilla, the creature has the head of a bull, complete with a large snout and two long horns. It is no minotaur however, as it has feet instead of hooves and its skin is a dark shade of orange under its thick fur. Despite its bestial appearance, the creature is dressed in polished ceremonial armor over ornate robes. A large two-handed sword is hung on its back, but you’re pretty sure it can be dangerous without it too, thanks the thick talons at the end of its fingers. "You called, lord" it speaks in a deep, resonant voice. "Have this person escorted to the Place of Waiting" the armored figure commands. "Once his high excellence returns, he will know what to do with them". The figure nods in a slight bow, then unceremoniously grabs you by the hand and leads you out of the room and ultimately, out of the compound through the iron gate. Somehow you still cannot react, as if you’re just watching yourself go through the motions, as the massive bull headed creature leads you to one of the buildings of the town outside the walls.

The sign outside has a golden chalice painted on and while the inside looks like the drinking hall of an inn, it is impossibly larger than the outside would allow. The creature locks you inside a room upstairs and leaves. Not much later, it returns with another person. Then a third. Finally, the creature takes off is armor and sits on the fourth bed of the room. "I imagine you have a lot of questions" it says in the same deep voice.

You feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest. Or like somebody just threw a bucket of cold water on your face and woke you up from a bad dream. Unfortunately, this is no bad dream. You’re still in the room with each other and the creature. You are however able to talk, move and act once more.
Nov 21, 2016 12:47 pm
The bed creaks as Tarandar sits down, the strength going out of his legs. He appears to be an older human male dressed in somewhat travel worn clothing. After a moment of rapidly checking himself over he looks at the creature "Where am I? How did I come to this place?" he says his voice a tad unsteady but still with an underlying lyrical quality.
Checking to see if I have all of my equipment primarily
Nov 21, 2016 1:11 pm
A faint smile crosses my face as I take in my surroundings. I am not one to panic easily, but perhaps this is the closest to panic I have been in recent memory. This will not do. I carefully smooth out my fine robes before addressing the large one. "Hello, most gracious host. Questions, of course there are many. But first, what may I call you, kind sir?" I crane my neck to get a better view. If only my gnomish figure were but 3, or even 5 feet taller.
Nov 21, 2016 1:40 pm
"I demand an explanation, where are we and how did we get here? If we are prisoners, you should know I will not be broken. I will escape." The half-elf stands nose to nose with the seated creature, shoulders back, feet wide, ready for a physical confrontation. Her stare is full of anger and weariness, waiting to see how this creature will react to her aggressive behavior.
Nov 21, 2016 2:11 pm
"I am Bokorumon, faithful servant of the Celestial Bureaucracy" the creature responds. Somehow the word 'celestial' sounds reassuring. Might not look the part, but at least the creature is no demon. "You are at the Place of Waiting, outside the Palace of Judgement, where his divine grace, Yen-Wang-Yeh passes judgement upon the souls of the dead." Bokorumon pauses for a moment, letting the weight of his words sink in. "Apparently, you are unusual cases. I have been assigned as your escort and guardian until the great Yen-Wang-Yeh returns to the Palace and bestows his judgement upon you himself."

When Chailin stands up to confront the creature, it doesn't seem to mind her agression but seems more like it minds having the flow of its speaking interrupted. "I would advise you to control your anger, young lady. I understand this is all stressful to you, but mark my words, the Planes are full of powerful beings who won't think twice about tearing you apart."

Bokorumon composes himself before continuing. "You are no prisoners, but for your own good and mine, I advise you against any thoughts of escape. How you got here is a mystery to me. The deceased from the Prime Material are usually funneled directly to their destination and you don't look like you count yourselves among the faithful of the Celestial Bureaucracy, so you weren't supposed to arrive at the Palace of Judgement either. The way I see it, you either died and for some reason ended up here when you shouldn't have, or you either stepped through a portal that brought you here. Let me ask you, do you remember how you got here?"

You really don't come up with an answer to the creature's question. The last thing you remember is you were getting ready for something big. Something important.
Everyone has their equipment with them alright. Leaving you some room to improvise on the last part, mainly on what that big thing was for you. Please don't go as far as describing stepping through any portals or being in any combat where your character might have died (?). Something along the lines of "I was getting ready for a long journey/important meeting with X" should do it.
Nov 21, 2016 2:24 pm
Tarandar blinks at the mention of Prime Material "You mean to say we are no longer on our home plane? I did not think that was possible without at least very powerful magics or dea....erm, well, I suppose that latter point seems to be extremely unlikely given the rest of what you have told us" thinking for a moment he says quietly "The last thing I remember I was in the middle of studying a number of old tomes in the library of an acquaintance of mine in Neverwinter....perhaps I dozed off but the next thing I knew I was walking in that crowd"
Nov 21, 2016 4:02 pm
Somehow, I doubt this one wants to hear 'I was preparing for another one of my con jobs, perhaps the biggest yet!' Instead, I grasp my chin and take on a thoughtful appearance while sizing up everyone in this room. Yes, we are obviously dealing with powers greater than our own. It would not do to get on their bad sides. At least I am not alone in this predicament. "I had been preparing for a new business venture with a companion of mine. I was to meet him at an inn near the center of town, after which we were to journey south. I don't recall ever arriving to that inn. I do hope he's alright."
Nov 21, 2016 8:18 pm
Chailin steps back and paces around the room, like a tiger in a menagerie. "We are in the realm of the dead, but we are not actually dead? I have never heard of this Celestial Bureaucracy, and I do not like the sound of it. The last thing I was doing was setting out to find the lost spirit of my tribe." At this she pauses and looks introspective, "I suppose...I might be exactly where I need to be after all. This is a place where spirits go, yes? So, if I found my way here when leaving my people...perhaps our lost spirit did as well?" Chailin looks supremely happy with herself for figuring that out.

"Honorable Bokorumon, how long must we wait for this Yen-Wang-Yeh to return? I have a quest to fulfill!"
Last edited November 21, 2016 8:19 pm, a total of 2 times
Nov 22, 2016 9:16 am
Bokorumon hears your tales and nods. "I'm afraid your information sheds no light on the state of your existence or how you ended up here. You may however find some comfort in the thought that the souls of the dead from your Plane are stripped of their memories as they travel through the Astral Plane to get here. Remembering your name and something prior to arriving here is, in a way, proof that you're not dead. Not the standard kind of dead, at least."

He listens to Chailin thinking aloud, then adressing him directly. "Sadly, it is not that simple, miss. Like I said, spirits from your home world are funneled directly to the corresponding Plane, depending on their religious beliefs and how they led their life. If you are looking for someone in particular, those two might help you guess where they ended up. If they passed through the Palace of Judgement, their name and destination should be on the records, but the safest bet is the records of the Dustmen in Sigil's Mortuary. They keep track of everyone that's died, everywhere, ever. That quest must wait however, until his divine grace Yen-Wang-Yeh returns to his Palace and passes his judgement upon you. I do not know when that will be, as he leaves once a year to report to the Celestial Bureaucracy and returns when his reports have been deemed satisfactory. I do hope he comes back soon though, things just aren't run as efficiently when he's gone."

Bokorumon stands up, his frame somehow barely escaping a bump with the roof. "I understand all this might be too much to take in and I sure need a drink. I'll give you sometime to yourselves, if you need me I'll be downstairs." With that, he exits the room and you are on your own.
Giving you some time to get to know each other, maybe make quick plans
Nov 22, 2016 3:19 pm
"Bah, Bokorumons doesn't know what he is talking about. I am sure that I have come to the right place, the seer said it was my fate to complete this quest." Finally seeming to calm down, she sits on on of the beds. "So, what about you two? Knowing what we know now, why do you think you are here?"
Nov 22, 2016 3:27 pm
Still looking quite shaken Tarandar looks up "I'm afraid I've no idea, as I said I was studying some tomes and the next thing I knew I was here. Nothing about the documents was particularily unusual, or magical so I can't see that they would have been the cause of my, erm, relocation." he says gesturing around.

"Forgive me" he says standing "Introductions are in order. My name is Tarandar Melchian" he says with a slight bow and a smile "scholar, traveller, and entertainer."
Nov 22, 2016 8:40 pm
"Xana Beren. Entrepreneur. Collector of magical artifacts. Lover of fine wine and enjoyer of entertainment." I give a formal curtsy to the others before turning back to the bard. "What is your talent, Tarandar? Do you sing, by chance? It's been a long time since I've heard a cheery tune."
Nov 24, 2016 9:01 pm
Tarrandar slides his lute around "My talents lie in slightly different areas" he says as he starts to stum a tune. The act of playing seems to ease the tension in him somewhat "I am primarily a scholar but I have found that having the skill to entertain has helped me avoid a fair few nights where I would have otherwise had to camp under a hedge row"
Nov 25, 2016 4:22 am
"Ah yes, as my uncle the Duke once told me, 'it is best to have interests in many areas, for no one likes a one-note bore.' You sir are anything but!" I give him a hearty clap on the shoulder. "I do a fair bit of entertaining myself. Observe." I take a few steps back, and with a clap and a mighty flourish, I produce a 5 foot long brightly colored dragon that appears to be circling and dancing above my head.
Using minor illusion
Nov 25, 2016 1:15 pm
The door knocks and before you can answer, the door unlocks and a strange face appears from behind the door. You can’t really tell if it belongs to a male or female, as something between excessive makeup and an artist’s version of warpaint is splattered on his/her humanoid face face. "Hi there! I’ve brought you some warm water to clean yourselves". The voice is melodic, if somewhat squeakish. The person walks into the room carrying a large bucket of steaming water, complete with whitewashed towels folded on the lip. They don’t really seem to be paying attention to the draconic illusion dancing above Xana’s head, but whether that’s because they failed to notice it or because it’s a casual sight to them, you can’t tell. This place is strange and you’ve already seen and heard a lot that your mind is still struggling to process, so you don’t really ponder over that. You assume this is probably a female, although the ornate robe is too wide to reveal any body features. "Standard welcome policy" she adds, as she places the bucket in the middle of the room. "Please don’t hesitate to ask if you need a larger receptacle in which to wash yourselves" she says with a little bow. After a moment of hesitation, she continues.

"Servants of the merciful Yen-Wang-Yeh are welcome free of charge, as a token of our gratitude for his divine grace allowing us to set up shop outside his palace. Your friend downstairs certainly took advantage of that, he’s had a few Baatorian stouts already. I’m afraid you do not fall in the same category however."

You suddenly realize you’re not carrying any money with you.
Nov 25, 2016 3:10 pm
Chailan claps at the appearance of the dragon, "Ha, wonderful. If you ever find yourself among the tribes of my people you will no doubt find yourself well employed Mistress Xana. A fine skill indeed."

When the hotel servant enters and finished their explanation, Chailin looks at the bucket with a raised eyebrow. "I bathed only yesterday before setting out on my quest, but I suppose I do not know what the future has in store and should avail myself of this hospitality for as long as it lasts." With that she begins to strip down with no concern for the presence of anyone else in the room. When she get to her belt and notices the empty pouch she gets visibly upset. "This is a city of dishonorable retches. Just as I was warned. I am not here but an hour and I have been robbed."
Nov 25, 2016 3:15 pm
Tarandar looks slightly perturbed at his empty pouch, but realises it's the least of his problems at the moment.

"Honestly given our circumstances I am quite surprised and glad we even have the clothes upon our backs." He looks up at the new figure "I am not sure how long we are expected to linger here, are you saying we would be expected to pay if we required anything beyond a wash?"
Nov 25, 2016 4:33 pm
"I am saying you are expected to pay at least the minimum charge since you've occupied a room, even if you won't be staying for the night." While said in a polite manner, you can't help noticing the matter-of-fact tone. Either this is an individual who highly respects laws, regulations and traditions without questions or a shrewd, calculating mercantile wolf in polite sheep's clothing. "The water is free and meant for washing your hands and face," she continues with a raised eyebrow towards the already half-naked Chailin "but I suppose you are free to use it as you see fit" she adds in a quick attempt to save face. "Staying for the night is charged separately, as is food and drinks."
You can't remember carrying any money with you since you found yourself in that crowd. If anyone robbed you, it was before you made it to this strange place
Realizing you're not carrying any money, she tries to ease the stress with a polite smile. "Well, I suppose there's also a way that doesn't involve money. There are dishes to be washed, floors to be scrubbed... and then of course there's the cellar."
Nov 25, 2016 5:24 pm
"I was brought here against my will. I will not do petty manual labor to pay you for something I did not desire in the first place. But what's in the cellar?" Chailin begins washing her face but then moves to her shoulders and neck as she waits for an answer.
Nov 25, 2016 10:17 pm
This is sounding more and more like extortion... I look at the others while keeping quiet, for now.


Insight - (1d20+2)

(7) + 2 = 9

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