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DS - Friends in high places

Page history last edited by Jon Goranson 10 years, 1 month ago

Friends in High Places


September 23, 2010


Dhamana watched as the nobles asked Abalach-Re to decide on the issue.  It was an important issue that had been debated for months among the nobles.  After not being able to come to an agreement, they finally took the question to the ruler of the town.  Tvatri and Hindra had been explaining for the past several hours how the new laws that the priest Hiras had managed to pass meant that the nobles would be forced to pay half of the priest taxes.  They were finally getting to the end of it.  


"So, you see your majesty . . . "


"Oh, I could never claim that big of a title in front of Badra," interrupted Abalach-Re, in her high, sing song voice.  Dhamana was never sure how Abalac-Re held her position.  She must be blackmailing someone or just a puppet of someone.  "He deserves such a wonderful title, not me."  


"My apologies.  How shall I address you this time?"


"High Priestess of Badra should be sufficient.  I don't know."  Abalach-Re twisted her fine, gold hair around a finger and got a vacant stare, as if she was thinking really hard about something.  At least, that's how it looked to Dhamana.  "I should ask for guidance," cried Abalach-Re suddenly, turning to the large statue behind her throne and going down to her knees.  Abalach-Re started praying and beseeching Badra for help in this matter.  Dhamana all but slapped her palm to her face.  This could take hours more!  Already she was tired from standing, even if the palace was cooler than the outside heat but Dhamana had thought this would be obvious and so hadn't come ready for a long wait.  She should have known better.  


As Abalach-Re got up and turned, looking as if she was going to answer, her advisor Chindra, a small woman wrapped in a red sari and with only one necklace of gold and two rings of gold, came in and cleared her throat.  


"Oh, Chindra, just in time," cried Abalach-Re, her voice carrying the sound of relief to Dhamana.  "There is a big question that must be answered and although I received an answer from the all powerful Badra, I'm not sure I understand it.  I want to make sure I get it right.  perhaps we can go talk about it?"


"It is just as well, High Priestess, as there are some other issues that have come up.  Apparently, the stains won't come out of the dress and several of the shoes are ruined as well."  


"Oh, no," Abalach-Re wailed.  "But, those were my favorite!"  The whining in the voice was enough to make Dhamana cringe but she turned her face to avoid showing it to anyone.  "We will have to deal with this right away!"  Abalach-Re grabbed Chindra's arm and they both left together.  Dhamana was not happy the issue had been left open but at least this gave her a break and she moved over to a bench to sit on it.  Tvatri and Hindra let their expressions slip into disgust and annoyance as the High Priestess left the room.  They immediately started talking among themselves, just as Hiras started talking to his own advisors.  Why any of them thought Abalach-Re could make a decision on this, Dhamana didn't know.  She'd been watching Abalach-Re, or this Abalach-Re, for over thirty years and had never seen someone so flighty.  


Now, her mother.  Her mother was one to watch.  Cool, calm and practiced.  Dhamana had only been fifteen when the previous one had died but she remembered the presence and command that Abalach-Re had.  Dhamana still didn't understand why they couldn't merely call her Abalach-Re, as that seems to be a title as well.  But, with each one apparently it is different.  Her parents told stories of the one before that being cruel but fair.  The nobles didn't squabble over anything for fear of her wrath.  But this one.  She could barely hear the god Badra!  Why should they listen to her?  


Well, Dhamana knew that.  Abalach-Re controlled the defenses of the town.  If not for them, the recent sandstorm would have done much worse than trap them in the city for a few weeks.  It would have buried the town, or at least half of it, and that would have been costly.  Almost more costly than these new taxes of Hiras'.  


It was more than two hours before Abalach-Re re-entered the room.  All of them present had to scramble to stand again and hope they didn't offend.  Dhamana stood as fast as she could, which wasn't very fast, but Abalach-Re didn't seem to notice.  


"I have figured out what the problem was.  This is not the right time to ask about taxes.  So, this position will have to wait until it is, which will either be in two or four months.  I will have to go over the math again.  However, it is the right time to talk about grain or animals, so any waiting on that will get their answer now.  The rest will have to wait."  


Dhamana ground her teeth together but plastered a smile on her face, one that didn't touch her eyes, and bowed before Abalach-Re, then the status of Badra before leaving.  Hiras was smiling, as this meant he could keep doing that which he had planned to do for another couple of months.  Of course, Dhamana and the rest had plans in place to stop it but they were costly and kept them all plotting.  Dhamana sighed to herself and then started figuring out her first attack against a lesser priest, to show she wouldn't bow to these new laws.  




As the final petitioner walked out, Abalach-Re again said she would pray for them to Badra that things would get better for the next cycle of crops.  They were still thanking her even as they left the room backward, facing the statue of Badra and bowing to it.  Once they were gone, Abalach-Re sat in the chair a bit, twirling her hair in one hand idly.  She looked down to notice the dust on her golden slippers and sighed again, wondering how she could keep her clothes clean with all of these duties.  


When the change came, it was subtle.  Her grin stopped touching her face.  It was as if it was merely something her mouth did, independent of her eyes.  She dropped her hands to her sides and with a slight wave of a finger, was out of the foppish clothes and into simple robes with many pockets.  her necklaces and earring, all with precious stones, were gone, replaced by magical versions, some with gems shining even in the last moments of the sun's rays coming in the window.  She stood and went over to a section of the wall and stepped through it as if it wasn't there.  


After traveling the back passageways for a few minutes, she finally came out in her lab.  She wasn't alone.  Her partner was there.  


"I don't know how you put up with them," he said, his lips in a sneer.  I would have killed them all and let their progeny figure a better way out.  If I was in a good mood."  His voice was harsh with contempt, but Abalach-Re knew he meant for the nobles and not her.  


"I have my reasons," she replied lightly but not as simpering as her other voice.  "But that's not important.  The signs have come together, have they not?  I missed my chance with them when they brought the storm with them.  But they are going to be coming again soon.  I must be ready."  


"I don't want to be revealed at this time."  His voice would have sounded harsh to the nobles but Abalach-Re knew him better and knew he had softened his voice, if only a bit, for her.  She didn't like it when she was talked down to and he knew it.  He must not want a fight, which seemed to confirm her thoughts.  


"It's true, then?  The time has come?  War Bringer is poised to once again walk our lands?"  


"I think it is, yes.  I would have your thoughts on this."  


She took a moment to think about it before answering.  "Yes.  It is.  I have asked some sources and they agree that it has been started."  


"Good."  And he was gone.  Abalach-Re turned to her book shelf and went looking for a particular ritual.  After making sure she had it, she started writing some instructions for her enforcers to follow.  




The enforcers, a pair who had worked together before named Dhyu and Vitura, arrived on the scene just as the fight was winding down.  Well, a few more spells were thrown, the slavers tried one last push to knock the Heroes of Kalidnay down but it failed.  Obviously.  But they did try hard.  


As the finished, Dhyu and Vitura moved closer.  


"Was that magic that was used just then?" asked Dhyu.  He knew it was.  So did she.  And they didn't care.  It was merely an idle question.  


"Um, elemental magic, of course.  Nothing else."  Vitura saw the look in Dhyu's eyes and readied herself to back him up.  


"Are you sure?  I don't think that looked elemental.  It looked arcane."  


"oh, no, it definitely wasn't," stammered one of them.  Dhyu wasn't paying attention to who responded.  He was making sure no one of consequence was around, in case things got nasty.  


"I'm sure it was.  Do you have your papers?"  Again, more answers were stammered at him.  Again, Dhyu didn't really care what they said.  Dhyu asked a few more questions about the guard, their papers, how they arrived.  Standard stuff that he could do in his sleep.  He didn't really care what they said.  He was to take them back tot he palace and he was going to do that.  


They finally gave in and started to follow them.  Vitura went to the back, just in case, but Dhyu kept watch as well.  They were still stuttering excuses and one made it through.  Dhyu turned to them.  


"You want to freshen up before you go to the palace?  That seems reasonable.  I know this Inn.  I will arrange for rooms and slaves."  The group tried to protest but it was weak and Dhyu wondered about them.  Sure, they just finished a slaver gang but those were still rabble.  Ah, well.  He had been hoping for something interesting.  He got the group settled and then called for others to watch but not interfere while he reported.  




"I don't think we have a choice.  I am betting a ritual won't work here.  They have probably stopped all ways to get out.  So, let's make the best of it.  We will delay as long as we can and see if we can slip away.  If not, be ready for whatever happens at the palace."  


They weren't able to slip away but they did delay for two days, getting clothes made, fixing hair, repairing weapons and armor.  Finally, they were escorted up to the palace where a feast was happening.  The nobles were not happy about something but they kept their mouths shut about what.  The group wasn't sure other than there was some tension in the room and it wasn't related to themselves.  


Abalach-Re, Sorcerer-Queen of Raam, finally met them.  And she managed to surprise them.  She knew what they were doing, she told them.  In fact, she would be surprised if most didn't know.  There had been quite a disturbance in Draj involving an orb, which told those in the know what they needed to know.  The group shares glances, wondering if that meant Kalid-ma himself knew but weren't sure what else to do.  


That's when Abalach-Re surprised them again by offering help.  She could offer sanctuary to the group if they needed it.  In fact, she had already set aside several pieces of land for them, they merely had to choose which one they wanted.  She then said if they needed anything to let her know.  She had done this in front of everyone at the party but had created a psionic sphere to hide what was happening from any who watched.  As she lowered it, her expression changed and she went to speak to some people, leaving the group speechless and to think about what had happened.  


The group eventually left the part and went to look at the properties.  The second one they were shown was the one above their new library below and so they figured Abalach-Re knew and didn't fight it anymore.  They accepted the propetry above it and started setting up legitimate reasons to come back to Raam.  Hadren opened a new store here and it took several weeks to get things figured out.  Once that was done, the group set out on the road to where the fourth sphere waited for them.  


On the way there, though, some creatures figured them for food and decided to attack.  It was in the middle of that battle we find our heroes.  



GM Notes


  • I wrote this one fast after I realized there was no other update.  So, it really glosses over several things and gives a lot more background information.  I like it as I finally figured out Abalach-Re and am glad I got to use her.
  • I'm not sure if my long term plans for what I saw happening in Dark Sun are too long or what is happening.  I think my players indulge me too much.  I would hope they are at least having fun with it, even if they don't understand everything that is happening.  I'm grateful for that but need to react better to the group as well.  





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