Title: Frenetic Activity at Amal’s Tent
RP Thread Number: 44
When Occured: Between Sessions #20 “Deadly Obsession and # 21 “Raid on the Temple of Mori”
Location: Forest inside the Kingdom of Arborlon
Out of Game Date: Jan 08 – Jan 11, 2019
Participants: Amal, Keyleth,
Original Thread: http://silkandspices.net/forums/index.php?topic=11.0
Next Thread: TBD
Amal’s camp is in high alert. The attack earlier by elven bowmen along with the uproar over Glorion and the disappearance of Amal’s strongest warriors has sent the remaining troops into a frenzy of preparedness. The remaining drow knights and at least one of the two Githyanki Knights are constantly moving around the encampment.
In the center of the encampment is Amal, she sits in a chair in front of a fire under a large canopy. She is surrounded by drow, all speaking quietly about different subjects. She seems to be working on something in her hands, almost as if she is carving something, although there is no knife or cutting object in her hand.
Key stops at the edge of Amal’s camp patiently waiting for an invitation. She stands tall, her hands behind her back. She has a smile on her lips that doesn’t quite reach her eyes, her body in complete readiness to move in whatever way is warrented in the coming moments.
Amal looks up from her entourage and purses her lips for a moment. She nods and makes a hand motion to Key to come in. A Githyanki Knight that is standing behind her and to her left shifts in his position, ensuring his blade can be drawn freely.
As Key walks towards Amal, she smiles and in a heavy drow accent, “How can I help you Empress?” Her smile political, cold and ready.
She looks over her shoulder and flashes a smile to the knight standing there. She moves forward toward Amal stopping a polite distance away and gives her a bow.
“First, I wanted to make sure you were okay and didn’t need anything after the attempted assassination on you. If there is anything you need, if it is within my power I would be happy to provide it.” She smiles genuinely toward Amal.
Amal returns the smile, slightly more hesitant. Still unsure who she can trust among the surface elves she seems to be withholding judgment. Her eyes skip around the perimeter looking for something or someone. Her body exuding tension. She relaxes slightly when she doesn’t see anyone else.
In the light of the fire Key can see the family features that remind Key of Rabbit. Her eyes have a similar hue to Rabbit’s, a similar glow when Rabbit is being aggressive or close to a frenzy. The difference is the presence behind those eyes seem controlled, calm, ice. All so very different to the fire in Rabbit. “Please come sit with me, I am fine. I am in need of nothing. Everyone has been so kind. How can I help you?”
Key takes the seat offered to her. “Im so glad you are well. I also wanted to see if you’ve decided to come with us to retrieve the captives. If you can’t go I just wanted to know where we can meet you to get your people back to you.” She pauses to gather her next thought.
“I also wanted you to know that I will bring to justice the organization behind the attack on you. I gave you safe passage and they violated that safety.”
Amal watches Key for several moments, then gives her a small smile. “Thank you for that, but we won’t be needing any assistance extracting blood for what was done to us. We came here and were protected by an ancient treaty, you bear absolutely no responsibility for what occurred here.”
She looks over at two of her knights talking and when the see her watching they immediately separate and leave before they can be called out. Amal just smiles to herself.
She does give Key her full attention, “I cannot say what my mother will do though, at best for the surface elves she will demand some pretty heavy penance, or more I cannot say. I can say I am going to move my troops out of here as soon as I can, I don’t want what is left to be destroyed if a fight breaks out. Although I can think of one thing she would take to salve our blood loss, and she would ensure it would slake mine as well, but I am fairly sure that isn’t a price you would pay.”
Key narrows her eyes a fraction the smile still on her lips. “So you’re not going with us? I will make sure that your companions make it out safely. If it’s Rabbit you want you’re right. That’s a price I can’t pay. Do you have something else that would do as well?”
Amal shrugs noncommittally, “I have not decided if I am going with you or not. I did lose several warriors, but they weren’t the only ones and I am not sure if taking the risk with myself is worth bringing them all back out.” She nods to Key, “Although I would pay a reward if you did bring them out.”
“What are your plans now? You are waiting for the Shadar-Kai to return, and hope that he can get you to where you need to go. What will you do once you get there? I suspect you will be too late for your sister, and for my warriors, but maybe someone will survive the torture. Glorion doesn’t seem like a patient master at all.”
Key leans back in her chair, seemly relaxed. “I doubt he’ll kill Alluvian, and if he did before I leave I’ll make sure that he’ll wish he had not before he dies. I suspect he has some sort of strange obsession that will keep him from doing much in that direction.” She shakes her head in disgust.
“I’ll wait the three days. He said that he could get us there and I have no reason to believe he lied. Nestrim is putting together a backup plan just in case.” She looks around the frantic camp.
“When are you planning to depart? Will you wait until I leave through the gate? Or do you have pressing matters that will force you to take your leave sooner?”
Amal accepts a drink from her servant, a beautiful woman with golden collar, and golden chains that run down to her wrist. She turns and offers a drink to Key as well, ignoring Anglerond who has been still as a statue behind Key the whole time, “I don’t know when I am leaving. I am ordering my people out as soon as it is safe, but I can get out of here when needed.” She takes a heavy pull of the wine, “I don’t trust anything Glorion would say, nor would I trust his behavior. He would have been put down by our people long before he got out of childhood, not after he attained Paladinhood and could bring forth that power.”
Key takes the offered drink and takes a sip, then lowere the glass to rest on her knee. She toys with the stem as she speaks.
“We tend to be more lenient with those we love. Glorian has wasted all his chances and abused our feelings. He’ll receive no quarter from us. Thank you for the warning. I will take it to heart. You can leave when ever you are ready. I’ll escort you myself if it makes you more comfortable. Besides the culprits of the attack have already fled like the cowards they are. The rest of us want peace.” She sighs, frustrated with herself.
“Im sorry if I sound abrupt, I don’t know any other way to be. You’re army is here to protect you correct?”
Amal looks around the camp, a smirk perched on her lips as she looks at the remaining 12 or so of her people. “I guess you can say my ‘army’ is here to defend me. Twelve members of my household hardly constitutes an army.”
She gives Key a bleak smile, “I doubt I will be able to withstand the next attack by the surface elves. The handmaidens and balrog were what kept the attack from winning last time.”
Key lifts an eyebrow in puzzlement. “So whose army are the 500 drow in the forest outside the clearing? I had assumed they were here for your safety.” She takes another sip of her drink.
A smile crosses Amal’s face, but after second glance it isn’t one of pleasure, “Key, when I talked to you before I was completely honest. I came under the rules of the treaty and only brought 21 people total. I realize people commonly think we lie, but we usually get what we want without lying, even if it isn’t something surface elves see coming.”
She glances out into the woods, “Those belong to a higher ranking Matron. She didn’t feel like being held to those rules so she didn’t come in. She wanted to see what the three houses that came in did and how they were treated. I assume she also wanted the option to attack who she wanted, when she wanted and with what she wanted. So no, those aren’t mine out there. That is why I was telling you I wanted to get my people out of here as soon as possible.”
She takes another drink. “Also, it isn’t just your people under threat by them, any of the drow houses are under threat too. This is a perfect place to settle old scores.”
Key sets her glass on the floor beside her chair and leans forward, the expression on her face sincere.
“I apologize. I didn’t mean to offend you in any way. I assumed they belonged to your mother and you were unable to speak of them. My understanding of your culture is limited and I made assumptions based on what little information I do know. I was surprised by your answer and let what I was thinking spill out of my mouth. I’d like to help you get home safely. I understand if you don’t trust me to do that. You came here in peace. I have a great deal of respect for the fact that you came at all. I was glad that you came.” She leans back in her chair her face going from sincere to a bit sad
Amal takes another sip, aware of the darkened woods off in the distance she keeps an eye on the fire and where her household members are. “You did not offend me Keyleth, you did nothing different then the rest of your people and you were polite about it to boot.”
She sets the drink down, picks up the carving she was working on and this close Key can see she is using her fingernails to cover the porous material. “How can I help the next Empress of the elves?” She says this without any form of insult or insinuation in her voice.
“I don’t need anything, thank you. Other than your safe return home.” She seems to say this last almost to herself as she stares into the fire for a moment.
“What we all really need is a gate mage.”
Amal watches Key as she pulls out a small case, opens it and takes out a small, slender and tightly wrapped stick of herbs. She lights it with a wave of her hand, as if by instinct and not by thought and takes a long hit. The lighted end glows in the darkening light. The flowery smell immediately jars some of the memory of the three day bender she had taken with Te’Teh and Rabbit. This was one of those cigar like drugs that Rabbit had shown her.
Smoke exits her nose as she closes her eyes for a moment, concentrating, when they open there is still that resemblance to Rabbit, almost the same feeling Key gets from being beside rabbit can be felt here. A familiarity.
She offers it to Key, with a look that shows she knows it will be declined, “A gate mage would be very beneficial to you. I don’t know if I can arrange it, but if I could, what would it be worth to you?”
Key shakes her head declining the herbs and blinks a few times to clear her head of the memories.
“My thought was if a gate mage can be arranged that everyone in the camp could be moved to a location beyond the troops surrounding us, there by avoiding the danger. I was going to soeak with the King and Queen to see if they could arrange one but if they can’t what are you asking for?” She pauses then adds with a smile.
“That I can give to you of course.”
Amal purses her lips thinking. She takes another drag off her herbal stick, blows smoke out. Keyleth sees Amal stretch her hand out and four glowing orbs of light dance out and start playing with each other, dimly lighting the area.
She turns to Keyleth, “That will put me in a serious disadvantage with certain Matrons if I interfere with their plans. Especially since I don’t know exactly what they are doing and how it is going to either help or screw me.” She taps her hand on the arm of her chair.
“Give me one evening with my sister. No magic, no threats, no stealing her away. She will remain perfectly safe, untouched and is free to return to you and your team when our time together is over. I give an oath I will do no harm to her. I just want to talk… talk privately, not with surface dwellers around.”
Amal gives Key a hard look, “That is my price if I am going to risk problems with more than one house by helping the surface elves.”
Key watches the orbs for several long moments thinking. She looks back to Amal, her expression serious. “I don’t completely comprehend the extent of the situation from you point of view, but I do understand that there is danger involved and Im grateful you’re willing to take the risk. I’ll need to talk with Rabbit and the others before I commit to anything. Ultimately its her decision weather she talks with you or not. If we can arrange for a gate mage on our own would you want to take advantage of the option? No strings attached.”
Key can see she has one advantage when speaking to Amal, many of Amal’s mannerisms are familiar to Keyleth through her extensive time and relationship with Rabbit. Making it easier to read Amal’s emotional reaction. Her reaction to the no strings attached help is of surprise. It is only in a twitch of an eyebrow, a flare of an iris, but more than four years of traveling with Rabbit reassures Key on a general idea of what Amal is thinking. In this case that is surprise and unsureness on what Keyleth wants or expects.
“Thank you for that kind offer Keyleth Surana,” her voice betrays none of the hesitation that her cues give. “I do very much appreciate it, but I am not sure if I would be safe at all following your people back to Arborlon. They have already once tried to butcher my house and we would be going to their home territory without the kindness or feelings of responsibility you and your team seem to have. I am perfectly safe here.”
Amal takes another drag and watches Keyleth,
Key looks disappointed, but not at Amal. “I understand. I look forward to the day when I can promise your safety to travel with confidence.” She sighs, then lets the emotion go and changes the subject.
“Will you be able to get home safely?”
Amal smiles at Key’s concern, “Absolutely, do not fret about me.”
She takes a few moments and looks into Key’s face, “What exactly is your relationship with Rabbit? I hear rumors that circulate you are lovers, sisters, she is your maiden, she is your slave, you hate each other but because of promises she will serve.” She counts each rumor on a finger.
“There are a bunch of counter-rumors as well, but I thought I would just ask you directly.”
Keys face goes from disappointed to ammused. “She is my sister, we have fought and saved each other countless times over the years we’ve traveled together. We have the matching tattoos that signify she is my maiden, from what I do know of how that works she’s doesn’t operate with me the same way your maidens operate with you. She serves by choice because she believes in what Im trying to build. She is free to leave when she chooses. She isn’t a slave and she’s not my lover.” She chuckles at the thought of all the rumors.
Amal stamps out the tiny remaining butt of her herbal stick and throws it into the fire. She stretches, yawns unconcernedly and then turns her eyes again on Keyleth, “Does it bother you to answer questions? I assume she informed you of our relationship?”
Key shakes her head. “It doesn’t bother me at all. Ask away, I’ll answer any questions that I can. She did say that you were sisters but that’s about all she said.”
Amal’s lip quivers in humor, “We were not close emotionally when we were children. You can say we are opposites.” She makes a hand motion and the balls of light start shifting their colors slowly. “Is she with that tiefling I see walking around in dragon armor? She gives him cow eyes and I hope at least she is getting something back for it.” A slight revulsion crosses her face. “Don’t get me wrong, he is attractive enough, but to show those emotions to a man publicly is rather shaming for our people.”
“Yes, she’s with Luke.” Key puts emphasis on her friends name.
“And they are quite happy together. From what I know Rabbit has never really conformed to the conventions of your society. I think thats why she’s thrived up here.” She smiles
Amal looks over at Luke’s tent, taps her finger on her lips for a few moments and smiles. “That has never been my way, I am definitely more of a traditional girl in most respects. She was too soft down there as a child. Mother changed that of course, made her hard as steel.”
She looks up at Key, “She used to wander in the surface fields of flowers, or in our underground gardens as a child. She would talk and sing to herself, as if there was someone with her. They were sure she was touched and crazy. I suspect it was a major reason she was chosen to be a maiden. She is obviously touched by Lolth and has power. The crazy ones that are blessed don’t have a lot of options.”
She takes a drink, “There was this young orc slave she fell for as a teen. They saw each other for some time, thinking it was secret. Of course mother knew about it the whole time and just at the right time gave Rabbit one of the most important lessons of her life when she forced rabbit to slit that orcs throat on the alter. She didn’t ever look at someone like that again… well at least until she got up here.”With that Amal spits into the fire. “So tell me Empress, what was your childhood like?”
Key watches her as she talks. “Im not a believer in any of the gods, but Luke has said that there are several that speak to her. Correllion and Sekmet among them. Im not sure she was ever meant for a life with your people. Im said at what she had to enure, but Im glad it brought her to me.”
Amal nods, “I noticed you didn’t respond to the most important aspect, what was your childhood like oh Empress?”
“Im sorry, I didn’t mean to completely avoid the question.” She tilts her head, thinking of how to frame her response.
“It was unconventional. My parents are merchants. The closest large city to us was Kokand. Our town was quite diverse. We had more than most. I did my real growing up when I lived at the monastery.”
Amal chuckles, “I see you don’t talk about yourself much, but that is fine. I am sure over time I will get that information from you.” She motions to the fire, “if you are shy about you, tell me about your order. I am not familiar with surface monastic orders. I was surprised we had one in this area of the world, may experience is they are mostly east.”
Key draws her eyebrows together a bit confused. “What is it specifically that you want to know about me. You’re right, I don’t talk about myself much but its not because Im trying to hide anything. The monastery I spent time in is one of many all over this part of the world. Our… thier job is to act as protectors for travelers. I specialized in weapons, but some of the other members were best with hand to hand fighting.”
Amal smiles at Key and makes a reassuring gesture with her hand,“It is fine Empress if you are not a storyteller. Some rulers will talk about stories in their personal life, to give a sense of connection with someone else. It is a style that involves small bits of sharing. Others are like you, and probably myself who don’t like to reveal things about ourselves. It gives a chance for people to suss out weaknesses and the less we talk about things that happened to us, the less we have opened ourselves.”
She calls for another drink and continues, “It reassures me, it means you are like most of us nobles. It is better to not let people close and to seem to focus on them instead. The aloofness is more befitting. I can never understand those that share more, they seem to like bonding with others, but as you can tell it isn’t really a thing nobles should be doing anyways.”
Key gives Amal a genuine smile. “I really do enjoy bonding with people. The world is full of interesting people like yourself. Who make interesting choices every day.” She looks over her shoulder at Anglerond then back to Amal.
“For example, Lord Anglerond’s decision to make an… unexpected comment to me when we first met. Had he not made that comment he never would have captured my imagination and my heart the way he did. One little phrase changed a life. That’s happening all over the world in subtle and not so subtle ways every day. I find that fascinating and intriguing.”
Amal leans forward, interest evident, “What did he say that did that? Weren’t you betrothed to Glorion when you went to Alboron or was that after you met the ranger?”
Key gives her a smile, her feelings obviously mixed. “We met actually a day or so before my involvement with Glorian began. When I suggested that Glorian and I get married it was simply to save him from the pressure from his family that he marry. I never planned for us to be truly husband and wife. I encouraged him to persue whom ever he chose and made it clear that I wouldn’t stop him as long as he was discreet. I had no idea of his obsession at the time. Had I known I never would have made the suggestion.”
Amal reaches out and gently touches Key’s hand. “I personally think as a woman that you did the right thing and it is better you then someone else. You are strong willed, and don’t bow under pressure. If he had done that to a lesser woman he would have crushed her. Unless of course he was aiming for my sister, but that would have gotten him dead I suspect.”
She pats again, “You saved another woman, or women lives, don’t feel bad about that.”
Key smiles. “That’s a good way of looking at it. Now I just need to end him before he can transfer that obsession to someone softer.” Her muscles tense at the thought of hos hurting anyone else. She sighs and tries to relax.
“On that note I should check in with the King and Queen. I’ll let you know if I have the need to take advantage of your deal. If we have our own mage, your always welcome to utilize our exit. If the mage can port them back to Arborlon, he can also port you back to the nearest opening to the Underdark.”
Amal pats Key’s hand again, “I hope maybe we can have a dinner together at some point in the future, I would enjoy the company. Oh and let me know about Rabbit and your decision about her coming to me for an evening.”
Key stands and gives Amal a small bow. “I would like that. Maybe once everyone is home safe. I will let you know about Rabbit once Ive spoken to her and see how things shake out with our mages.” She smiles and moves to loop an arm in Anglerond’s and leading him toward the exit.
THREAD CLOSED FOR GAME