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The Enemy of my Enemy - In Character Discussions

Branwyn poked her head in Tristan’s room and saw him fervently praying. She stepped away and started to walk down the hall. With a sigh, she stopped, turned back and entered Tristan’s room. After a moment, she coughed softly and waited for him to turn to look in her direction.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, but since time is short, I thought I’d better interrupt. We have a priest scroll from the Greek Church that we found a long time ago. None of the priests I have known have taken any interest in it at all. They wouldn’t even bother reading it. But I thought it might be useful to you in your negotiations. I have put it with the other scrolls and potions.

Also, I have been to Skull Church before. If you would like, I would be happy to tell you the general layout of what we will be walking into. Just let me know. But for now, I’ll let you get back to your work,” she smiled and turned to leave.

Shaking himself out his deep trance, Tristan sighs deeply leaving the joy and peace only found while in deep prayer. He turns and smiles at Branwyn. "No need to apologize Branwyn. You are always welcome here. How is the new catapult I commissioned for your tower working?"

He stands and walks over to his cupboard and pours two glasses of wine and hands one to Branwyn and motions for her to take a seat with him. Sitting at his simple table he says "That is good thinking on that scroll. I too have no interest in the miracles that the false gods provide their followers, but perhaps we can use it as leverage in our discussions. I am very interested in what you know about this "Skull Church". You say you've been there before? Please tell me what you know of the terrain, the size, etc. Anything that could be beneficially tactically."

"Also, I know you try and keep a distance from the politics of the church, and that you are not particularly pious. I have come to peace with never having you as a full member of the church. However, I need you to be on my side during our journey. I have been praying to Cahus for some understanding why the Father has decided to send a Priest of Brennios with us on this mission."

Looking very serious he says "Branwyn, I know you tend to do what you want when you want, but this priest should not be trusted. Her words are tainted with greed and lies. She will try and twist things for her own personal gain. The sons and daughters of Brennios are corrupt, manipulative creatures. She may try and turn everyone on me. There may come a point that she will even try and turn on us if she sees an opportunity. I need to know that you are with me. We have bled together in battle so I consider you family. You should also know that I do not intend on granting this woman her church. I wish to destroy it. It is unholy ground coveted by unholy people. It is a blight on the land. I will try to parley with the followers of Hades, but I do not believe they will agree to give up this church with out a fight."

"Do you have any ideas short of dragging the new catapult on ways we blow this thing up? Any spell you may have? If you can help describe the layout of the building perhaps I can come up with some weaknesses in it structurally."

"You should also know that the priests of Hades worship death and undeath and the power it brings. Anything you can do to combat undead will be tremendously useful on this mission."

"Bran, I'm trying to grow and not see everything as black and white. Perhaps this is lesson the Father wishes me to learn. Will Indigo be joining us?"

"Do you have any questions for me?"

“This is very nice. Thank you,” Branwyn took a sip of her wine and a seat at Tristan’s table. “So many questions! Well, the sad news is that the Queen summoned Indigo and he must leave in the morning on a quest for Her Majesty. So unfortunately neither you nor he shall have the benefits of all of our talents. We must make the best of a bad situation and hope that both groups are successful in their missions.”

“As far as Skull Church is concerned, what I will describe is how it was when we were there. There is a small farmhouse very close to the church. The family living there had been turned into zombies and we …. well, we put them out of their misery. If I recall correctly there was a trapdoor in the house that led to the caverns. There’s a large system of underground caverns running under the church and surrounding area. We only explored a small portion of the caverns so I am not sure who or what inhabits them now.”

Branwyn looks off in the distance with a faraway look in her eyes. “You see, this was a long time ago. The only light we could make was torch light and of course torches only burn for so long,” she smiled and shook her head slightly, returning to the present. “Much has changed since then. We encountered goblins and from hearing their horns felt that there were many more there than the few that we encountered. There is a crypt section with many coffins and where we encountered priests and some undead. But on the bright side, this is also where we first met Sir Toybin. So I suppose it goes to show you never know what you’re going to find if you go exploring underground!” she exclaimed brightly, trying to keep the mood light.

“As far as the church itself? It is very large stone construction with two floors. There are tombstones scattered around the outside. I believe Indigo and Toybin fought some giant ants out there. But the church. The main floor looks like a standard church. A long aisle with seats on either side with little alcoves on each far side. The Kiputytto cult had the alcoves filled with statues of their disfigured saints. Those cannot still be there. There was a large hideous beast statue at the front with the altar. If I remember correctly, it was behind the altar that there was another trapdoor into the caverns.”

“There was a stone in front of the door leading upstairs. Believers could walk in and out with no trouble, but non-believers? Crossing that door caused a bit a pain. I would hope that the Greeks have removed such a trap, but there is a chance that they simply changed the effect to apply to non-Greeks. I suppose we will find out. There are offices and such upstairs, but what is dangerous is that there is a balcony where one may look down on the floor below and attack or cast from there. Both Indigo and I learned that the hard way.”

“I have no spells that can destroy or even really harm a building such as this. I am not sure even one catapult, could cause much destruction before we were attacked by however many there are in this church. But military strategy is not my strongpoint. I am just having fun shooting bags of apples off the catapult trying to get them to land on the farms in the area and not hit anyone in the process. If you think it will help, let us take it. We are not travelling far. Of course, you shall have all of our scrolls and potions at your disposal. Make sure you have looked over everything. Not only what I have set aside for you but also what is in our treasure room at Orchard House to make sure we are taking anything that you feel you need. Oh, but I have been talking for so long. Give me a moment to pour another glass of wine and you can think about the church layout before I address your other concerns.”

Branwyn went over to the sideboard to pour her wine with her back to Tristan, thinking about his other concerns and trying to collect her thoughts.

Tristan started to think on what Branwyn just told him... "It would be almost impossible to lower that catapult from your tower Branwyn. It was constructed in place and weighs a ton. Unless you have a spell that could make that thing float?" Smiles to himself thinking of what chaos he could achieve on a battlefield with flying catapults..."What about digging...Do you have any spells that remove massive amounts of dirt? We could sap the corners..."

"You say there is a trap warding non-believers? That will be an issue. Did you try to dispel it last time you were there? That may be an option...I shall ask the other Brothers and Sisters here if they have heard of such a ward before."

"Anyways, if I can't destroy it this trip, I will have the Church send a party to tear it down. So you say Indigo has been sent on a mission by the Queen? How unfortunate. His skills will be sorely missed. Though I don't share the close bond you two have, I too care for the little guy. I will send Leatherus with him. He should be a strong asset to that party and help keep Indigo from endangering... well himself."

"I do appreciate you joining me. Especially since Indigo is leaving as well. What are your thoughts on my other comments about our "guest" that is to accompany us"

“Moving mounds of dirt? I’m sorry but I can’t help you with that. I really haven’t focused my studies on those types of spells. Perhaps Ilero will have some ideas. He seems more attuned to those kinds of things. And who knows,” she said raising her voice a bit, “Ilero might even be skulking around now and could come up with some ideas.” Branwyn finished filling her glass and returned to the table.

Raising her eyes to meet Tristan’s, Branwyn began to speak. “You need to know that I may disagree with strategy or decisions at times, but I will never harm anyone close to me and will put my life on the line to protect you and everyone in our group -- always. You should never doubt that. This is your mission and is in an area that I know virtually nothing about. I will not interfere with you and the decisions you feel you must make.”

“I am on your side, Tristan. I just hope that you can come to a resolution without having to kill people simply because they pray in a different way that you do. But we shall see. If I may say though, I do hope that you do not ask me to kill without at least talking first. I don’t think I can do that.”

Branwyn paused, took another drink from her glass and leaned back in the chair. “The only priests I trust are you, Foto, QuiFon and Miranda. I have met those so wrapped up in their religion that they wish disease and disfigurement and their priest encourage them. I met a priest that wished to slice me open without knowing me. And most recently a priest that runs screaming at the sight of a spell. So no, I have no intention of trusting this priest from Brennios any more than the Greek priests I shall surely meet soon. I shall not allow these priests to charm me into following them. You may rest easy on that score, “ she said with a grin.

Looking sad, "It sounds like you haven't had too many positive experiences with men of the cloth. No wonder you have no trust in the gods."

"It is not my intention for mindless slaughter. If they promise to leave peacefully, give up their church, and never return, then we will have no issues. But would you leave you tower without a fight if another Mage told you to? The politics of priests can be a dirty business. I am just glad to have you at my side."

Standing and pushing in his chair he says "If you will excuse me I must go find Leatherus and inform him he must find Indigo and accompany him on his mission in my absence. I know he will not like missing the opportunity to fight in a holy cause for his God..."

Smiling at Branwyn he says "I have enjoyed our little chat. We should do this more often. Perhaps we will find more understanding of one another."

Ilero sticks his head in through the open doorway as Tristan starts to move that way. "Hye hurt, Lady Branwyn. Hye no skulk ... much." He bares his teeth in what might be considered a grin. "In fact, hye on way here wit' message. You have visitor see you, Lady Branwyn. In fact, hye t'ink ...", he pulls his head out and looks behind him down the hallway, then leans back in. "Yah, she follow me. Hye not catch name, but hear title some sort. Hye go t'ink on your problem, see if any ideas come."

He pushes open the door and then starts to leave, but is halted by a clear woman's voice. "No, please stay, Prince Ilero. I'd be pleased to have you present. I greatly enjoyed talking with one of your countrymen when I was a child." A blonde-headed woman dressed well in a flowing pink dress with a rose-colored sash draped crossways from one shoulder to the opposite hip strides around him and into the room, trailing Medoro silently in her wake. Medoro gives Branwyn a futile look, as if to say telepathically that she wouldn't wait where he asked her to. With a start he realizes that she's stopped walking and is looking at him with a kind smile, waiting for him to introduce her. "Oh! Ah.. Marquessa Branwyn, this is Countess Marisu Doeskin. Countess, this is Marquessa Branwyn the Mysterious, Prince Ilero Sauscha of Blackwater, and Patron Tristan Elaire." The countess gives Branwyn a respectful curtsy, and the faint smell of jasmine wafts briefly through the room.

"Please, forgive me for barging in on you so abruptly, Marquessa. But as I rode in it looked like there were some preparations being made for a large trip, and I was afraid that I would miss you." She looks around at the others briefly, then back at Branwyn. "I've come to join the Dragonslayers."

Tristan looks Branwyn and back to Countess Marisu. He offers a cordial bow and says "Welcome Countess, may I offer you a glass of wine? I'm afraid it is not to a standard proper to a woman of your station but it suffices for me?" Tristan pulls out his chair and offers her a seat.

She smiles brightly at him and sets gently on the offered seat. "Oh, yes thank you, that would be wonderful. I'm still a bit dry from the road and rushed right here rather than take advantage of the hospitality poor Medoro here offered me when I arrived." She turns to Medoro and says, "I'm sorry if I caused you any problems. I'll try not to make it a habit. I know your job is hard enough without my making it more difficult for you."

Tristan walks over to the cupboard and pours two glasses of wine. Handing her the glass and Ilero the other, he says "Forgive me but I do not believe we have met. I am Patron Tristan Elaire, a son of Cahus. Welcome to my humble residence." He takes a seat and looks to Branwyn as she apparently has past experiences with the Countess.

Ilero takes the drink with a nod of thanks and steps back to near the wall to listen.

The Countess accepts her glass with a smile. "Thank you, Patron. Before making my decision to join the Dragonslayers, I tried to do my homework first to learn what I could about the other members. As one of the newer members there was less known about you than some of the others, but I'm sure your abilities will soon spread word of your work and faith far and wide. Having an organization like the Dragonslayers behind you means you can do much more for Cahus than you could alone."

Branwyn chuckles to herself wondering if her young priest has already fallen so in love with the Countess he has forgotten the rankings of nobility. And whether this would make Tristan more civilized or reckless in his task should this Countess come with him on his journey instead of with Indigo on his.

She smiled at the Countess and said, “It is nice to meet you Countess. Your face does seem familiar to me. Perhaps from our Queen’s coronation ceremony, but I do not believe we have met before. You may just call me Branwyn. The Dragonslayers do not stand on titles here when we are alone. While useful at Court and on certain estates, they do not seem to mean much to a dragon or whatever else we may be facing. Everyone has an equal voice here regardless of title.”

“You are most correct that we are about to embark on a trip. Actually two different journeys in the morning. Please tell us where you are from, why you wish to join the Dragonslayers, and if you did, are you willing to get your hands dirty?” Branwyn gave a small shrug. “If you know this part of Drillian, you know that travels through this area are not always through the most pleasant of terrains and our missions can get somewhat …. complicated, to put it lightly.”

"Please, call me Marisu then. My grandfather always said titles were good for insulating people who had to work together from having to like each other. And I'd much rather like you all." She smiles again, warmly. "Yes, I know it won't be easy, or clean to do the work of a Dragonslayer. And I think that's part of why I want to do it. Doeskin is being capably managed already, so about all I can do is talk and deal with our neighbors. While I am, I think, quite good at that, it's become rather unsatisfying lately. I want to get out and directly do some good for all of Drillian, personally. I've had some weapons training, although I can't claim to be anywhere near as good as Sir Indigo. But then, not many can claim to be that good. I know the light sword and the light crossbow. I'm decent with each of them, so I won't be a damsel in distress that you have to keep rescuing from her own folly. I have a little bit of magic, but I don't like to rely on it. I prefer to use it to make a good solution better, rather than as a solution on its own. I'm good with people, and I've had some dealings at one point or another with many people across Drillian, and a few, such as the former Blackwater emissary, from beyond the borders. I don't know if any of that makes me qualified to be a Dragonslayer, but I know it's what I want to do." She leans back in her chair and takes a small gulp of her wine, looking down at the floor a little nervously, before fixing her gaze back on Branwyn.

Branwyn replied, “It is more a question of heart than specific qualifications. Wanting to be with us is half the battle! Why don’t you accompany us on one of our quests and see if you still want to join the Dragonslayers when we return. I shall let Tristan and Indigo decide whom you shall accompany, since they are the ones tasked with these latest missions. So with that, I bid you welcome Marisu! Can you be ready to travel in the morning?”

Marisu giggles lightly. "I could leave right now if I needed to. I haven't even taken any of my bags off my horse from riding here. I got so worried when I saw the preparations outside that I practically jumped off my horse and ran inside. Oh! Poor Zephyr, I just left him standing out there! If I may be excused, I'll go take proper care of him now. And... while I do have some equipment I thought might be useful, do you have anyone who can look it over and see if I chose well or am missing anything? I usually travel pretty light, and I didn't really expect to be heading back out again immediately."

Why don't you join me Marisu. Your diplomatic skills could prove very useful on this trip. I'm trained in dealing with diplomatic situations as well but I may need an...impartial mediator in this mission as well. What do you say?

Marisu sets her glass down on the table and stands up. "Of course, Tristan. I'll be happy to do anything I can to help. Let me go take care of Zephyr and my gear and then you can tell me what we're setting out to accomplish."

Watching, Branwyn shakes her head and murmurs, "Poor Indigo. He doesn't stand a chance."

1/7: On the road, some time after the troll attack:
an extended conversation might come from this, so might as well do it here rather than during the game session

Marisu guides her horse Zephyr over until it's pacing alongside Branwyn's horse. "How are you doing, Branwyn? Holding up alright?", she asks. Then in a quieter tone of voice that doesn't carry, she asks, "Did I hear right that that other lady is one of Brennios' priests? How far do you trust her?"

Keeping her voice low as well, Branwyn replied, “Yes, she is of Brennios and no, I do not trust her at all, as Tristan has told me that she is evil. But I think Brennios is an offshoot of the Kayugan religions so they are related to the church in Jistelle somehow,” she shrugged as if it really didn’t make much difference.

“I do hope that Tristan calms down a bit with her though. Whether we like it or not, she is with us and can be of assistance in the removal of the Greeks depending on how Tristan decides to handle it. Priests are powerful spell casters and she can be quite dangerous. Not all priests cast soothing healing, shiny bright lights and forces of protection. I see no point in making an enemy out of someone that can send curses flying in my direction at any moment. To my mind, we can deal with her later. Let her be useful now and if we can be pleasant and have her not see us all as enemies, it is all the better.” Branwyn paused for a moment, a worried look on her face, and then murmured, “I just hope Tristan sees it this way.”

Marisu smiles and reaches across to pat Branwyn's horse gently on the neck as it continues to plod forward. "That's the feeling I was getting, but I wasn't sure since I just met everyone," she says quietly. She nudges Zephyr with a knee and the horse obligingly pulls away from alongside Branwyn.
I'll let Tristan start the next conversation topic and work in the rest of my ideas from there. - TMO

Tristan looks back and notices Marisu and Branywn in quiet conversation. Curious he falls back.

Smiling at Marisu he says "You did well today. You stood your ground and fought when many would run. Trolls can be fearsome opponents. Very well done. Of course when Branwyn unleashes her fury and destroys them all for you, it makes it a lot easier. Is everything all right? You both seem to be concerned about something."

Looks to Branwyn and speaks loud enough for all to hear..."I must admit, I have been thinking and I have concern with the idea of negotiating with these priests. If we do so, it puts us in a vulnerable position. We will lose any element of surprise and we give them time to prepare wards, lay traps, etc."

"I don't see this ending without bloodshed. I would like to ask them to pretty please leave, but what leverage do we bring besides our swords and the threat of violence? They can't remain and they won't leave. I don't suppose you have any compulsion spells to make them leave for good?"

"You are all my friends and asking you to fight along side me is asking you to risk your lives. I am no general here, and you are not my soldiers. I am asking for everyone's input on this. Do we enter the lions den with olive branches or swords?"

Aunt Jennevive looks over at Tristan. "You do not need to enter the lion's den through the front door announcing your self."

Nodding to Jennevive Tristan replies "No, that was never the plan. There are cave that runs under the church and if my memory serves me correctly, Branwyn mentioned a secret door to the altar. I wanted to try and sneak in through the caverns, which will most likely be warded, and attempt to surprise the priest(s). But there will come a time when we meet face to face with these priests. As you know, a priest can not be ordered to "just throw down their sword and surrender". Their true weapons come from their faith and the miracles granted by their god. So when we finally meet them, do we wave our white flag and ask for a moment to negotiate, and hope that an evil priest can be reasoned with? Branwyn, you have told me your experiences with corrupted priests. You know what they are capable of. Or do we strike down every priest we find before they have that chance? It is a terrible, brutal approach I know, but I do not know what these priests are capable of doing, and I sure don't want to find out when it is too late. Jennevive, though you and I do not see eye to eye on all things, you are the closest we have to similar thinking. Would you roll over and abandon the church to your god if someone asked you to? Or do you defend it and yourself by expelling the invaders with all you have at your disposal?"

Jennevive smiled at Tristan. "I think that we are blessed to have expert assistance here with us in Branwyn and Ilero. They will understand the location and the tactics of how to penetrate their defenses better then I will. I will venture the idea that we do not know anything about the occupants except that the leader seems to be an Archbishop of Hades. As anyone who is trained in understanding religion will know Hades of the Greek Church prefers to use underground caverns for their places of worship."

Letting those thoughts sink in on everyone for a moment as they were riding along Jennevive then continued. "Perhaps we can send someone to visit this church first without announcing who they represent?"

Marisu frowns, thinking. "Is there anything we could do that would make them choose to leave on their own? Can we ruin the church or the altar in some way so it's useless to them and they'll just move out?" She shift around a bit in her saddle to look over at Aunt Jennevieve. "What would the person ask them? 'Hi, how can we make you move out?' Or just more general information like how many people are there? Would they be safe visiting alone, or should they have a bodyguard with them?"

"I could probably drop in and have a casual chat. Maybe say I'm a traveler and ask for lodging for the night if you think its safe. But if it isn't safe, I'd really like to have some way to call for help. Isn't Hades their God of Death? Do they do sacrifices to him?" She shivers dramatically. "I don't think I'd like that much," she says with a smile.

Branwyn, meanwhile, was having a spirited debate in her head about whether she should speak up or remain silent. She knew who would eventually win. The voice to speak always seemed to win, but maybe this time she could just stick to the facts. ‘Just the church, Branwyn,’ she repeated to herself a couple of times before finally speaking.

“If the priests of Hades prefer the underground, it may be that the caverns, and not the church, will be our end goal, instead of the caverns as our way into the church. The church itself may simply be a façade to hide what they are really doing here and may turn out to be the safest place to visit.”

“I don’t think it would be too difficult to conduct a little investigation before committing to an attack plan. This whole area with its rock formations in the shape of a skull and the impressiveness of the church itself make it an ‘attraction’ of sorts. People visit churches all the time and we are in the general area that if we turned a bit in one direction we could be on our way to the Quellcon Estates. Turn in another and we are travelling to the Medipop Estates.” Branwyn looked between Ilero and Marisu briefly and gave a crooked little smile. “This is where sometimes our titles do come in handy, in which a simple visitor can change to an honoured guest at the drop of a name.”

“Besides any of that, there is a farmhouse very close to the church. That is the one I mentioned with the trapdoor leading into the caverns that connects to the church. I have no idea who, if anyone, is even living there. But if someone is, they are probably one of two things. Either they are connected to the church, or they are not but would be aware of the comings and goings and whatnot. It might be worth some stealth as we approach.” And with that, Branwyn resumed her vow of silence.

Tristan thinks on what Branwyn had just said. "Indeed, both your titles could prove very useful. From what I know of the priests of Hades, they are greedy and tend to accumulate wealth. Having two nobles visit at the same time may play to their desire for power. Of course, what Marquessa and Countess would be traveling without their entourage. Illero, you could be Branwyn's bodyguard and I could be Countess Marisu's. This way we can enter in full force to scout or if the opportunity arises begin our purge of this temple." Tristan looks to Aunt Jennevive and smiles "No lady of any worth would be complete without a servant at hand." Can you assume such a role Aunt Jennevive?

As Tristan thought more, "Perhaps I could be the only bodyguard and Ilero and Jennevive could both be servants. A servant is often ignored by those who consider themselves above such people. That may grant you an opportunity to snoop Ilero. Perhaps you will tend our horses in the barn while Jennevive tends to the lady's needs?"

Aunt Jennevive smiled at Tristan. "It is clear you are not suited for the role of servant. No one would believe a Noble Woman like Branwyn would let you near her personals. I will be very happy to take care of Branwyn's needs and watch over her things. I am modestly skilled at church administration so I will be able to observe how they react to our visit and perhaps determine their congregation's number and organization. If we impose upon those residing in this farmhouse you spoke of then we can ascertain for ourselves if there is any movement between there and the church. "

Jennevive pulled a Lyre out of her saddle bag and struck a few notes. "Lady Branwyn, did you have any requests for your lady in waiting to play?"

Branwyn laughed and replied, "Something completely frivolous and happy, if you please. I could do with some good cheer."

Tristan laughs out loud "The best back handed compliment I believe I've been given. I'm glad servitude is something you are capable of. I'm sure your god will help you fill in the gaps to make the lie convincing"


Hoffman mutters to himself "please don't ask the master of the ax to play the bodyguard. I'll be too buzy fetching wood for the fire when we burn the house down. Good thing I have an ax"

Ilero shrugs. "Hokay." He rides up a bit, keeping an eye out for any more trolls or other inimical entities.

Marisu laughs at the lute. "I'm glad you came prepared! Will your presence be a problem, Branwyn? Are they going to be scared by who you are?"

Branwyn shrugged. "I don't think they would be. It is only the weak that fear me. The strong usually have more confidence. But if you wish me not to accompany you to the farm or the church, that would be fine. I do not wish to jeopardize Tristan's mission in any way."

Marisu blushes. "Oh! No, sorry! That isn't what I meant! Ohh.. I'm messing this all up..." She bites her bottom lip for a moment, looking for the right words to use. "I just wasn't sure if your reputation might be enough to put them on their guard. After all, you're the one who purged this church last time, and you're known as a powerful mage all over Drillian, and you're close friends with the royal family. Any of those could worry them and make them start fortifying up. Does that make sense?"

Branwyn looked at Marisu wishing Jennevive would start playing louder. "You must have come to Jistelle from the parlor of Elanore Bolpel if you think I inspire such fear on sight." At the thought of the Bolpel Estate she looked at Marisu with a bit of suspicion. "And what exactly is wrong or terrifying at being close to the Royal Family? My Queen is yours and also theirs. It is an honour and I have no reason to believe the Greeks have any fears of their Queen's wrath, nor has Queen Wilamina expressed any sentiments to me in any regard about the religions practiced in Drillian."

Branwyn sighed. "Marisu, I cannot control what people think. Again, if Tristan thinks my presence will be a hindrance rather than a help, I shall wish you good luck and stay at the camp. I do not expect that the Greeks will be thinking that they have done anything to be defensive about. Here was an empty church and they are a bunch of priests. A perfect fit to their minds, is it not? And with an actual archbishop there, I would expect that they will be feeling pretty confident and not be scurrying around arming themselves at the sight of me. It is all in how one conducts oneself and I had no intention of approaching any of them in a threatening manner or treating them with anything but respect and a cordial demeanor."

Marisu sighed and closed her eyes to try and put her thoughts into order. This conversation was rapidly going off track. Zephyr continued to walk forward on his own, maneuvering sure-footedly along the rough terrain. "Okay. First.. I wasn't trying to say you're a scary person or have a frightening reputation to the ordinary person. But people with things to hide often see threats where there aren't any. And I figure these priests of Hades, if they're doing all kinds of unpleasant things with dead bodies, probably want to keep that hidden."

Marisu opened her eyes again and looked over at her. "And since it was you that cleaned the church out the first time, and that presumably you can call on the Drillian royal family for help, what's to keep you from whistling up a small army of Drillian soldiers to clean out the church again? I'm pretty sure that's not actually possible, but they may not see it that way. That's all. I'm trying to think like they might. Here we are, having just moved into this nice empty church perfectly suited to our needs, and the lady who cleaned it out in the first place just happens to come visiting? I don't think priests believe much in coincidence. Everything is fate, or a god's will. And, don't forget, they'd actually be right in thinking that, since that is why we're here."

"I'm not trying to make you stay behind or anything. If Tristan thinks it's problem, you could always just use another name, that's all. Believe me, I don't want to go walking in there without you." She smiles brightly around at all the other riders. "If they are bad, I wouldn't stand a chance in there without any of you. I'm new to this, and I'm so excited to be here with you. But once we're in there, I'm not sure what use I'll be, so I'm trying to be as much help as I can before we get there. Just because I have ideas doesn't mean they're right. You've all got lots more experience than I do at this. If you don't think it'll be a problem, then you're probably right. After all, you'd know much better than me how people react when you visit."

Tristan sighs "You know Branwyn, people may find it easier to talk to you if you weren't so caustic and defensive all the time. Marisu brings valid points up. There is no reason to be short with her. I am sorry if this task is a burden on you. I promise I will do all I can to complete this mission and get you home to your studies as quickly as possible. I thought from the stories you shared with me in my chambers that you would rather enjoy the opportunity to cleanse this land of priests that do the unspeakable things that was done to you."

Looking around at all the group he says "I will say it again, I can not command anyone to follow me into that place. What we are about to do is dangerous. People may be hurt or worse. I am glad you all are here to stand with me in my quest. I could not think of a better group of people to stand shoulder to shoulder with. Together, we can do anything. You all bring talents and experiences with you."

Looking to Branwyn "I do not think it is fair to chastise someone when they make a suggestion. All suggestion should be weighed fairly by the whole group."

Looking to Aunt Jenniveve he nods "And I mean anyone. You included Aunt Jennevive."

Shaking his head at the discourse amongst the group, Tristan wonders how the great generals he read so much about kept vast numbers of people together when he struggles with just this small group. Slowly, he rides ahead to check on Ilero.

Happy that her silence is demanded, but completely confused as to what the actual 'suggestion' articulated was, she goes back to listening to the lyre.

Jenniveve smiles, "Of course Tristan. I never doubted that you would take my suggestions to heart."

After a short pause looking towards Branwyn, "Pay no attention to the men of the world who are afraid of women who speak their mind. There are sadly far too many as you are undoubtedly well aware that would like nothing more than for us women to be silent and obedient." She give a low chuckle, "You can see how well I fit into that category."

Looking back at Hoffman, "You traveled with Branwyn for many adventures I have heard. What unspeakable acts did the priests who lived in this church," pauses and looks at Tristan" who lived here prior to the current Greeks who have taken over" looking back at Hoffman, "what acts did those priests enact?"

Looking at Ilero and Barnabas she asked, "what do our strong silent types think of women being in charge?"

Ilero hears the question aimed his direction from where is posted out in front of the group. He ponders it for a few minutes in silence, watching the surrounding terrain, listening to the wind, and sniffing the air periodically as he does. He shifts uncomfortably in the saddle, riding not being one of his usual means of transportation.

After thinking it over completely, he answers the question. He lifts one shoulder in a shrug. "Is hokay."

Hoffman tries to pick his words carefully "I don't generally care how strangers conduct themselves. One woman's evil may be acceptable to some, my concern is to take care of my friends.

Tristan turns in his saddle "You spin my words Jennevive. I do not wish for blind obedience. Have you not been listening to what I have said? I also find it sad that you feel men in this world wish only for the women to be silent. A strange belief you hold considering the one who rules this land is a woman." Smiling he says "But who am I to weigh in on the troubles and burdens of womankind."

Branwyn wondered how what she thought was a simple conversation, turned into all of this. Maybe a change in topic was in order, and she reached for her belt and pulled out one of her daggers.

Holding up the cold iron dagger, she said, “Jennevive, you had asked about the prior inhabitants of the church. I got this from their altar. This is cold worked iron. I am sure you know what kinds of creatures you would use this on. There was a necromancer taking up residence there and I am sure he is missing it. For this particular red cloaked necromancer, I hope that demons have since eaten him alive, but that is a tale for a different day. In any case, his loss was my gain. You shouldn’t leave your toys lying about and expect to keep them.’

‘This necromancer used goblins as servants and had some stationed in the upper balconies to fire arrows down on intruders. There were priests occupying a certain section of the caverns, but Sir Toybin caused a distraction and we never found out if they were connected to the necromancer or not. But there were certainly a good number of various undead down there as well as more goblins.” Branwyn returned her dagger to its sheath.

“Perhaps, either you or Tristan can tell us more about the Greeks of Hades and what we shall expect from them. As far as I can tell, we know they like death and underground places and hoard wealth. Sounds like a bunch of gnomes to me. Well, not the death part ….”

Tristan nods thankful for the change in topic. "A good question Branwyn. I will tell you what I know and perhaps Jennevive can fill in the gaps. She and they are cut more from the same cloth. As you said, Hades is the Greek god of death. But he is also the god of wealth. Their followers are evil beings who strive to amass large amounts of wealth. They tend to have churches underground so they can be closer to their god or maybe just emulate him. I really can't say for sure. They are known to use death magic and use undead as minions. That's all I really know. Their priests will be dangerous foes. Which is why I'm hesitant to give them the chance to use anything against us. If we have a chance to get a jump on them I say we take it. Aside from that, I do not know much about them."

"What about our cover? Ilero, do you feel comfortable doing some recon for a secret entrance alone?"

Ilero nods. "Yes, is hokay. But best have someone watch from distance in case. If has undead guards, hye might gets grabbed quiet. Ghouls really bad, one touch and hye not move."

"Oh come now Tristan, Ilero is a very excellent scout but even he might have a hard time finding a secret entrance to this church in only an hour or two of searching. Unless what you mean is for some of us to walk in the front door to speak with the new residents while he is looking for a back door?"

Jennevive turns to Branwyn, "Tristan is correct in what he speaks of looking at this from a tactical point of view. However from the strategic overview there are other things to consider. The Greek Church has what they refer to as the High Priest of the Kingdoms who is based in Loosend. Their Cathedral is second largest church in city after the Celtic one. We in the Kayugan Church have yet to match them there for glory or splendor. That High Priest has two Cardinals working for him and each of those Cardinals would have an Archbishop or two under them as well. An Archbishop would be similar in standing to me so I am sure you can see where this could lead. If we give this Archbishop a second chance to gather resources from their superior it will be much harder to solve this knot."

Pausing to guide her horse over to the side, "This looks like a likely campsite don't you agree Tristan?"

"Hoffman, do you think that attacking through the caves and working our way up from there is a better alternative than going in through the front doors?"

"if you want to sneak in and attack without talking, sure" Hoffman answered with a questioning tone. 1/15

Tristan looks around. "Yes Jennevive, this spot should work fine. Illero, after we make camp, would you mind doing a quick perimeter scout? I do not wish for these priests or their followers to stumble upon us until we are ready."

Smiling at Jennevive, Tristan says "I did not know you were trained in art of tactics and strategies of warfare. But I am glad you were listening earlier and agree with my original plan to enter through the caves. We are only going into the church to scout who is present. I don't believe this will give us a true representation of what their strength will be. I believe this church on the surface is a simple front for the public. The true heart of this place will be found below."

"But I don't need to lecture you on that do I? Your god already teaches you how to hide your true intentions to manipulate the masses. Isn't that correct?"

Ilero dismounts with a bit of difficulty and spends a few minutes trying to limber back up again. He puts on the gauntlet that controls the Hand, makes sure his knives are all accessible, and glides off into the underbrush to do a quick circle of the campsite.

Marisu guides Zephyr over to beside Branwyn's horse and slides easily off the saddle and down to the ground. "Can I help you dismount, Branwyn?" She smiles over at Tristan, "Tristan, if you'll be a doll and unload the horses for me, I'll take care of getting them fed and taken care of while the rest of you set up camp."

Tristan dismounts and nods to Marisu. "I will pray for Cahus to send us assistance setting up camp tonight. Everyone should rest. This spell will help conceal our location and allow us to rest and discuss our situation so we are as prepared as we can be. Tomorrow is going to be a long day."

Thinks for a second "We should probably limit our fire as much as possible as well." (I will cast Create Campsite for the start of the game tomorrow Bob. 3rd level Travelers domain spell)

Tristan begins to pray and suddenly dozens of invisible helpers start unloading the party's saddlebags, setting up the group's tents and laying down bedrolls. Piles of firewood are brought in, carried by the invisible helpers. Seats are made from brush and leaves for them to sit at. A small fire is started and rations are placed on a sheet for everyone to eat from. After a minute or so, they begin to camouflage the tents with natural foliage making the campsite seem to blend in with the surrounding.

Tristan looks at the campsite and nods in approval. Then he takes a seat next to the fire.

Branwyn took Marisu’s hand gratefully. “Thank you, Marisu. I appreciate it,” she said sliding off the horse almost, but not quite, gracefully. She looked about as the campsite was being put together and nodded in approval, “Very nice. It looks like we shall be having a comfortable night.”

waking up in the morning

Jennevive looks around at the group as they eat their morning meal. "So we now have an additional scout with us. If she is here to scout Branwyn, perhaps we should use her to scout for our current situation. We also need to have you finalize our actions Tristan. Who will go up to speak with the people in the church? Who will go visit this farmhouse? Will anyone go to the caves? If we encounter a pleasant greeting do we enter and then come back for further discussion? Will you split our forces up into how many groups? Branwyn and Marisu in particular need to plan what they will prepare for today."

Jennevive glances at the rest of the group. "I do think that there is a wide range of opinions here. If it were myself in charge I would listen to them and have everyone in agreement with my plan. You are much more of a decide what to do and tell everyone to do it sort of mission." She holds up a hand as Tristan starts to speak, "No I do not seek to belittle your methods I only speak the obvious. This is your mission and you must make the choices for us that will lead to success or failure."

"What say everyone, are you all prepared for this journey into the unknown today?"

Branwyn was sitting on the ground transferring various spell components from her backpack into her belt pouch listening and waiting for what seemed like days for someone … anyone … to begin speaking. Dropping a cricket from her collection into her pouch, she wished there was some nicer offering that she could use to induce sleep on her opponents.

“Tristan, your campsite camouflage worked amazingly well. Not only did it keep us safe, but it allowed us to see who was marching toward the church in the early hours of the morning. It was hard to tell for sure how many, but at least 20 and maybe even up to 50 goblins were on their way to the church.’

‘Also, while Jennevive and I were on watch, we had a look at that Greek scroll I told you about. It sounded liked it might be of use to us and Jennevive said that you would have the power to cast it. I’ll let her explain it.”

Branwyn looked at Jennevive, who had been sitting looking quite pleased with herself after her morning pronouncement, but was showing no indication of being willing to say more. “Jennevive!” Branwyn looked pointedly at her and then at Tristan and back again.

Jennevive sighed, “All right then. I will explain. What you have here is a spell called Searing Song. It seems to be from a God of Music. It is very unique and powerful but limited. It does less than the damage of one simple cure light wounds spell, however it is sound, so it penetrates any and all magic barriers. Even those that would normally prevent sound like silence. It would be useful to penetrate prepared defenses that would force the caster to take damage and force them to drop their defenses,” she gave a small smirk. “It’s all very simple really.”

Branwyn looked up hopefully at Tristan. “See? This might be of use to us.”

Then Branwyn looked around at the group, focusing on Ilero and Hoffman. “Why do you not speak and offer help in this? This is a really difficult mission. If Tristan’s superior wanted us to retrieve a holy book or relic, we would all know what to do and would most likely be in and out with our treasure in a day. But he wants a whole church! This is not a simple task by any means. And it is the morning of our arrival and I do not believe we have a plan of action yet. Tristan could use your voices. I realize mine has not been the most pleasant at the moment and I am sorry for that.’

‘For what it is worth, please hear me out and try to understand that I speak with the thoughts of not only you being able to complete your mission, but for the safety of all of us in the process. This is what I see we are up against. We know we saw 20-50 goblins this morning. Let us say 30 for argument sake. Then there is the archbishop and, say, 12 underling priests. Let us estimate oh a mere dozen undead zombies or ghouls as protectors underground and perhaps another dozen simple followers of Hades. That would put us at 67 opponents of various powers against the seven of us. Tristan, this is what I see and what makes me worried. I know this weighs on your heart as well. I am not by any means saying we cannot do this. I believe we can, but I just think we may need to be careful in how we approach this.’

‘It has become my impression that you wish to attack first and not investigate. This is the only reason I said last night that we should clean out the farmhouse. If that is the strategy, then to my mind, we need to embrace it and be thorough. Any creatures we leave behind us can call for reinforcements or warn others ahead. They will know these caverns. We do not.’

‘We are not in a hurry for this mission. It does not need to be completed today. I think that reconnaissance can be done aboveground that will not hurt our cause. This is not a lizardman village that will fight us on sight. These are people that can be reasoned with, charmed, cajoled, and well, lied to. That is all I have to say.” Branwyn pulled out a couple of rat's teeth that Medoro had procured for her from the Keep's groundsmen, held them up to look at them with a sad look of resignation on her face and then dropped them in her pouch.

Val sits back eating breakfast and watches the group with a little smile.

Hoffmma clears his throat. "I was not going to bite on Jennevive"s pointed words and look to Tristan as how I can help him. If a plan needs to be suggested, we track the goblins and attack them and see if that brings out our true quarry."

Ilero leans back against the rock behind him and shrugs. "Sorry hye not say much yet. Not has much to add yet. If want recon first, is easy." He points his thumb over at Val. "Flyer."

He draws a couple of lines in a patch of dirt by his side. "After get good look at stuffs, make plans from known, not guess. If flyer see nada, we scout farmhouse. It give shelter so church not see us in open sight. And if found, we has defense position. From t'ere, we go above to church, or under to cavern."

Ilero lapses back into silence and takes another bite of his breakfast.

As he listened intently on the sound advice from his companions Tristan couldn't help but feel the burden that leadership brings. As the silence from the group settled in Tristan finally spoke, "Val, your ability to fly will no doubt come in use to us. Before we leave, I would like you to get an aerial view of church. See if you can spot that goblin horde that missed us. I don't wish to encounter them by accident. We will need all our strength dealing with this church. Once you return, we can move forward based on what you discover."

"Branwyn, that scroll will indeed be useful. Though I do not care for the spell of the Greeks, it would be poetic to use the miracles of their gods against them."

Straightening up he looks around at the group. "I have decided that it will be our safest approach to try and infiltrate this place without alerting the whole church. If Father Wilkorn has sent me to remove these priests, then he understood that my order is the way of the sword. We shall take them by force, and demand their surrender. I can't trust their word that they will leave peacefully."

Sighing deeply he looks to Branwyn. "I know you wished to avoid bloodshed, but that is not the way this will end I am afraid."

Branwyn nodded and said simply, "I know." She pulled out a small whetstone from her pack and started sharpening her daggers.

Val shrugs, "Alright then. I'll go take a look, but I'm not getting too close."

Marisu takes several long minutes to check all her gear in her pack and braid her long golden hair back.

As Tristan watches Val take flight he takes a moment to pause, reflect, and pray. He asked Cahus to watch over his friends, grant him wisdom to make the right decisions, and lead his party to glory.

After a short time passed the sound of Val returning broke Tristan from his calm. Sighing deeply, Tristan stood nodding to each of his companions and listened to Val's report.

{copied from Player Communication}

Val did do a reconnaissance and there were no goblins in site. She did find that the farmhouse looks dilapidated as if it is not occupied. Then finally she did spot a huddled group of people off to the north east. It looks to be three or four humans that were hunkered down trying to spy on the farmhouse and church.

Branwyn listens to Val's observations with interest and repeats part of it out loud. "Three or four people spying on the farm and the church. You don't think that Father of yours sent a backup team, do you?"

Shaking his head Tristan says, "No I don't think so." Looking at Aunt Jenevive he whispers, "Though he has been full of surprises on this mission..."

"We need to find out who these people are. If they are friends, perhaps we can persuade them to assist in our cause, if they are not...well we can't leave an enemy at our backs. Either way, they will need to be dealt with first. Hopefully, we can try and surprise them. If we can't find them, then we move forward with our plan of trying to enter through the farm house."

"Tell me Val, is there any way to approach this farm house unseen? Or is did it appear wide open around the farm house. Though I don't enjoy the idea of approaching at nightfall, the darkness may be the only cover we have..."

"Branwyn, I don't suppose you have any illusionary spells at your disposal to help conceal our approach, invisibility spells or any such thing?"

Branwyn shook her head. "No, those aren't the kinds of spells I know. If we get close enough, oh, about 300 yards away someone can come with me and we can pay them a surprise visit. But this depends on me being able to see where I want to land. Wouldn't want to cast dimension door and land inside a tree or a rock or anything. I take it you and Jennevive don't have any handy concealment spells either?"

"I'm afraid I have only one disguise spell but I am not strong enough to cast it yet. I do not know if Aunt Jenevive has anything. Her gifts are more focused around deceit and trickery." Looking at Aunt Jenevive, Tristan adds "No offense of course." If we can't disguise ourselves or disappear outright, then I say we look for this group that Val discovered and approach the house under the cover of darkness."

Jennevivie looked at Tristan with disbelief. "You want to wait till darkness?" She looks up into the early morning light, "Are you going to crawl there on your hands and knees? Branwyn has the right idea of confronting the unknown head on. I will go with her to speak with this group of people if you do not have the fortitude to handle such a meeting. "

Marisu bites her bottom lip a bit, then volunteers, "I can keep a small group from being heard until we get very close. But I can't do anything to keep them hidden from sight, and I'd have to go with them for it to work. I think I can cover most of the people with it, but no more than 1 of the animals, most likely. And you'd have to stay close to me for it to work." She sighs, "And.. we wouldn't be able to hear them, either."

Tristan growls "Careful Jennevive. You forget your place on this mission. Crawl on my hands and knees you ask? No. But your lack of understanding on my tactics is understandable. I shall explain it simply for you. If we approach and alert them we are here, we lose a great advantage in battle. Who is to say they will not try and extract the true reason we have come once we are in their temple. Then what? We are attacked on their terms? I don't think so. Nor will I allow you to risk the lives of my friends."

Laughing he says "Besides, are you afraid of the dark? I thought under the rocks and in dark corners is where your kind thrive..."

"Now Tristan, do not attempt to be unkind, it does not become you." Jennevive smiled at him. "You know that I hope to shine a light for all to see and to help those poor confused souls find their way home. I do not question your tactics but I do question your fortitude. You would have us camp here a mile from the church for an entire day to wait until nightfall so you can advance under cover of dark? You would waste that time rather than actively doing something with it? Explore the farmhouse? Visit the church? See who that group is that Val found during her recognizance. How long do you really think we should wait here knowing that the goblins from last night are gone for the day?"

Looking around the group she smiled.

"Tristan you are the leader and understand tactics better than any of us I will wager. However I think you need to have your backbone stiffened sometimes so that you make a choice and move forward."

Branwyn gave Jennevive a look of exasperation. “Jennevive, if Tristan decides to wait until nightfall, then that "is" a choice. His choice. But if we are going to wait until night, I do have a couple concerns. Unless Val continues to make reconnaissance flights throughout the day, we won’t know if that small group will still be there. Also, I admit I wasn’t paying too much attention last night, but unless we have a full moon, it will be really dark to travel safely. I can’t see very much in the dark. Does anyone remember if we had much moonlight last night through the Mist?”

Tristan nods to Branwyn, "I don't wish to sit here all day waiting for the sun to go down. I say we use our daylight to find this other party Val spotted and use the daylight for reconnaissance. The more we can learn about the potential strength of our foe the better prepared we will be. Like I mentioned before, we need to deal with this new group before we enter the church. If they are not our allies in this cause then we can not leave them on the outside. They may be eyes for the priests of Hades and will alert the priests when we try and approach."

"Val, your ability to fly will no doubt come in handy but I don't think we should have you flying about too much as that will arise suspicion. For now I would like you to stick with us on the ground."

"Of course if anyone else has any suggestions please speak up." Looking to Jennevive, he adds, "Any CONSTRUCTIVE suggestions that is...."

As the group searches for secret doors, Hoffman tries to remember out loud. "I could have sworn it was arround here." I remember a long passage way, split by a small channel of water. Not too far down there is a bit of a pool that I still think leads to the well up top but I am not sure if we ever confirmed that. I do not know if it is a memory or a suggestion fro God in my head that we came back this way before entering the church another way. I just find it funny that I we still have not gone into the caves to go after the goblins. They may be the neighbors that always stay no matter who is in the church"

Tristan nods in agreement, "We will enter the caves before we leave Hoffman. One way or another, if it is to remove any potential goblins, or clear out any more priests/followers of Hades." Looking to make sure their new "allies" are not in earshot, Tristan whispers to Hoffman, "We have another issue with our new friends... I do not intend to let them re-occupy this church. They will have to be dealt with in one fashion or another before we are done. Keep an eye on them, there may come a time that they will double cross us to gain hold of this place again. They no doubt know we are here for the same reason they are..."

After the events of mar2114

Hoffman takes a moment to approach Brawynn. "I found his scroll, Tristian said it is a Mage scroll so I thought you should have it. You are the leader and the .. Wel head Mage. I really appreciate you letting me hang with you.... And your crew. I know I'm not a DragonSlayer and I know I frustrate you some times but ... Thanks.

“Thank you, Hoffman. I cannot read it today, but hopefully it will be something we can save until we get home and add to the library,” Branwyn said, carefully tucking the scroll in her backpack.

“You need never thank me for allowing you to be here. You are one of us always, whether you choose the mantle of the DragonSlayers or not. On some of our missions, you probably have good reason to curse me instead of thank me for putting you in some of the situations we find ourselves in! But I do not know what I would do without you, Hoffman. You are a steadying force to my reckless, headstrong ways. In fact, even if you wished to leave us, I might just need to find a way to stop you,” she said with a mischievous grin.

Hoffman blushes. "You may have a hard time getting rid of me. I have never felt so right with anyone as a equal. I did not sign my name to answer to someone else but I would sign my name to pledge myself to you, even more so than the Queen. As far as I consider, you are my Queen.

At that, Branwyn was completely taken aback. “Oh, please, do not say such things. I certainly am no Queen and do not wish to be one to anyone! I much prefer what you said of us being equals. That makes me much happier.”

"I live to make you happy. How about Duke and Duchess?" Hoffman smiled.

Branwyn laughed. "Now you are just being silly. What has gotten into you, Hoffman? You are not your usual self," she said, stealing a sly look at Jennevieve wondering if she had cast some spell upon him.

Hoffman tries not to be too serious. "I would think it is a natural development. Now I that I know and am comfortable with my place in the world as a whole, allowed myself to do something just for me and seen the benefit of it, I want to work on the details. I want to work on the relationships to know and get comfortable with ... Relationships. You are the most important and comfortable, so I just want to make sure we have it properly defined. We both know where this conversation would go with Tristin, and I will have to concentrate too much to talk to Ilero" Hoffman finished with a wink

After the events of Apr1114

hoffman joins the concern for Ilero. "I am so sorry, that should have been me. I was just a little spooked by the coffin. I really feel bad about what I said earlier. We do have a lot in common, putting our lives out there for the group, but well, I'm, kinda built for it. I am sorry I was not right there for you."

Ilero staggers out of the coffin with the aid of several helping hands. He grasps at Tristan's sleeve and pulls him closer. "R'member.. you.. promise," he manages to get out through teeth gritted against the pain of his wounds. He raises his other hand and points shakily at Aunt Jennevieve. "You. Hye ghoul infected?"

Aunt Jennevive looks at Ilero. "Well you did not paralyze anyone when you grabbed them getting out of the coffin so I would say that you are not a ghoul. You do not look well, but I suppose that is to be expected. Polinia did a very nice job of finishing off that ghoul and saving you."

Looking around at the group, "Branwyn, you said you recognize this place? These are the crypts under the church I would guess? Where the prior senior priestesses and priests would be interred?"

Ilero nods and relaxes, relieved. "Hokay. Good. Is good." He moves over to lean against the wall for a bit and fight down the last of his panic. "Hokay. Hoffman, is your turn lead, kay?"

Branwyn turned to Jennevieve, “Yes, I do recognize this place and we are very close to the church now. If we follow the stairs behind us, we should soon see the entrance to the church. If we exit the caverns there, it should open behind the altar of the church. If we follow this passage through these coffins ahead, we should run into an area where we met Sir Toybin and the priest who had told us to go no further. Now that we are on this mission and I have had time to think on it, this priest must have been Greek.

And yes, as you well know, one has to have been a person of high standing to have been buried beneath the church in these crypts. Common folk would not have been buried here. It is a shame though that these crypts have now become a home for ghouls and who knows what else.”

Letting Ilero and Hoffman continue to talk, she walked over to Tristan and gently placed a hand on his arm. She leaned in and in a soft voice said, “We are very close to a confrontation, but almost all of us have been hurt and our spells diminished. Perhaps it would be wise to retreat to the room with the chest or the fire pit and get some rest? We shall need to be as strong as we can for this battle.”

Helping him out of the coffin, Tristan nods to Ilero. "I remember my promise friend. I will honor that promise. You must do the same for me. I am glad to see you are ok."

Looking at the group, bloodied and weary, Tristan looks to Branwyn. "I fully agree. I still have a number of spells at my disposal. I can create some wards to help protect us, and heal our party while we rest. You look worn as well. How is your memory? Do you have any spells left at your disposal that you can use? Though the room with the chest does not leave us any way to retreat, it may serve as a good area to make camp. No fires, the smoke and light will give away our position. It will also give us an a chance to discuss our final plan of approach."

Leaning closer to Branwyn he whispers "Though she has become useful, and I am starting to see that not all priests of Brennios must be destroyed, I still do not trust Aunt Jennevive. Though, our biggest concern is our newest members who may wish to have this temple for their god. That can not happen. I'm still praying for guidance for who should have this church, if anyone. It is too corrupted to honor my God. Though, I am seeing now how the followers of Brennios can serve a purpose in this world, as long as they are monitored..."

Shaking his head at his own statement "Cahus, guide me....Perhaps even a stubborn mule like me can see a new side to an old coin."

Regarding her spells, she said wearily, “I have nothing that will work on the undead except my dagger. The spells that I have remaining would be best served on goblins or men. Things like sleep, chaos, and I have an interesting lying spell that I have never used. If I don’t get to use it here, I think I shall use it when we get home to drive Medoro to distraction,” she said smiling at the thought. “As only a test, of course.’

‘I have a spell that will work on anyone on stone floors, but it’s on a scroll and not in my books and so I was rather saving it for an emergency. If we can hit this archbishop of yours before he hits us, he will not be able to cast. The spell I am talking about causes stony hands to rise from the floor and grab people. If he is being attacked, even at the ankle, it may give us a bit of time to take care of him in other ways. You know, this is a rather annoying thing for us that use magic. I was being questioned by a witch once and she had her mongrel man servant smacking me in the back of the head every few minutes so I couldn’t cast. I think we could have had a conversation without all the hitting, but what can you do?” she said with a shrug.

Branwyn turned to face Tristan so the others might not see and whispered back, “I am happy to hear this from you. Let’s just get through this first obstacle. There shall be plenty of time after that. Besides, you haven’t even seen the church yet. You might just find that you like it.”