It is night. The group has split up after being reunited. Rowan sits at the bar, behind which one of the monks cleans a glass.
Monk: “Didn’t you have enough already?”
Rowan continues to stare off into nothing, only occasionally taking the small sip of whisky form his glass. The book titled “The Ancient Legends of the Planes” sits on the bar next to him.
The monk hesitantly fills up Rowan’s glass for the 5th time and waits for a reply, but then just shrugs and goes on with monk business, silently grumbling.
“Just leave the bottle brother.” Rowan distantly says.
Monk slams the bottle back onto the bar “Fine. But I won’t carry you into your room.”
Rowan sits for a moment. Slowly, he reaches into a pocket and removes a small piece of paper. He stares at it, reading it slowly.
Dijani had been pacing around outside for near three hours. A few trees have deep and intense scaring as evidence to her outbursts of hurt, rage, and confusion. But as she heads back towards the door to the tavern, her demeanor is calm. . . too calm.
She pushes through the tavern door and pauses for only a moment. Of course HE would be the only one left in here. Not surprised. Dijani slowly makes her way to the bar, and takes a seat, leaving two empty bar stools between her and Rowan. Slowly, deliberately, she reaches for the bottle next to him, and takes a slow swig, not meeting his eyes should they turn to her.
Rowan gives Dijani a slow sideways glance, placing the note back behind his chest-plate. “Can’t sleep?”
Di finishes her long pull at the bottle, before placing it back down in front of her. She doesn’t even know what to say or how to start. She just keeps muttering something softly to herself. “No.” She manages at last. Then finally decides being a coward isn’t going to get her anywhere. She turns her head to Rowan. Yep, he was as she remembered, and a sharp pain fired in her chest at the memory forced on her by that damn portal. “You?” She asked back calmly.
Rowan turns back to his drink. His head low, he takes a long sip. It burns in his mouth like fire. Were that it was. He felt like he deserved it. “Nope.” He pauses for a moment and steels himself. “So. I’m guessing you talked to Rad?”
Though the crazy turmoil going on in her head she realized Rowan wasn’t just tired, he was bothered. She took a deep breath. She had to start getting information if she was to piece together what was happening. “No. . . I haven’t.” Then, with a tone that hinted at her hesitation, she spoke, “What happened in there.” She worked very hard to keep any hint of a growl from her voice.
The image of Nos being sucked through the portal created by the devils flashes through Rowan’s mind.
Rowan stares off into the mirror across the bar. The memory once again flaring, deeply and suddenly. He looked like hell, and he knew Dijani could see it. “We saw the past. Rad’s past. That shard took us somewhere into the Astral Sea. There was this girl see…” His voice trails off slightly as he slowly fades back into the memory, recounting the events of that day…
(See session 9 ;) )
As he finishes his story, he takes another long pull off his drink. “I failed Di. I couldn’t protect her. I knew what she would become. I knew she sent us back there to see it. I knew I had to do something to change the future and I failed. She was good, Dijani. She saved my life and I let her fall into hell for it.”
Di listened and her mind momentarily distracted by his story, that’s not what she had seen, and only confused her more. “I’m uh. .” Her words are awkward and a bit forced, but end with some amount of sincerity. “I’m sorry Rowan.” She is studying his face intently. Could she have been mistaken? Could it have simply looked like him? Some extended family perhaps. . . No. She had fought closely enough with this brazen human to know his face. But how. . . why?
“Thanks.” He muttered, slowly smiling at the bar. He was glad for the dragonborn’s company. He trusted her. They’d been through much together. He braced himself for the question he knew he had to ask. “So.” He took another drink. His face hardening. “Who’s Din?”
It was the small smirk that did it. That was the face. . . It was him. . . He did it. Suddenly she slammed her claw to the bar top “HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT NAME?” She thunders. He knew his name! How could he know his name?? Maybe it WAS him. . . She shrank back a bit, taking a long deep breath, her mind a blur. Just because he was there, doesn’t mean he corrupted Din. You don’t have all the information Dijani. . . Rowan deserves some benefit of doubt. . . He deserves it. . . She grabs the bottle and takes another long pull, not looking back at Rowan, working to control herself.
Rowan had half expected this. He knew from the moment he met her that something deep and horrible had been troubling her. He had seen this rage before. The memory of the day they fought the bone-dragon washed over him. “You talk much in your nightmares my friend. I’ve heard that name from your lips often in the dead of the night.” He remembered what she had once told him, her rage spent after the battle. He had told her that whomever she sought, was as good as dead if he could help it. The sympathy creeps over his face. “Is he the one you seek to kill?”
Dijani swallows hard. Nightmares? She actually grew embarrassed momentarily before the chaos crept back in. That’s how he knew. Calm yourself, you need information, not blood. After a long pause, she nods. “A long time ago I rescued a human child. Raised him. . .” She pauses and clears her throat, almost growling at herself “And he destroyed everything.” Dijani grumbled at herself. She tried hard to keep the tough exterior, to distract herself from the old Di, the Di that would have loved and cared for a child not her own, and protected him with her life. . . And the Di that still bled from that wound. “He killed my Tribe. My friends, my family.” Her tone was now cold. “And I need to know why.” It was an honest response, but as she said those icy last words, her eyes turned to Rowans, hard as stone, searching for any clues in his face or reactions that would give him away.
Rowan nodded quietly and looks Dijani in the eye. “I’m… Sorry. For what it’s worth Dijani. I am.” Rowan can’t think for a moment. This monster. Din. Dijani’s son. Adopted true, but still. Her boy. The one who corrupted Nos. The one who started this engine of death and set it in motion. “Hopefully you get to him before I do. He isn’t exactly my most favorite guy in the world right now.” The memory of the priestess surges into his mind, and the words she spoke, ‘I existed there. All but dead. Until HE found me, and filled me with new purpose.’ He shakes his head, dispelling the memory.
Dijani blinks confused, and without even thinking she blurts out “Wait what?” She just stares at him, looking somewhat suspicious now. “What are you talking about.” Why would Rowan want to get at Din? If it was for her sake alone, she was touched by the extent of his loyalty, but that didn’t seem like the case. Dear Sahanine, Dijani was a big bag of confusing feelings. Suddenly, she found herself feeling defensive. . . almost protective. . . Perhaps she was just feeling possessiveness over Din and his fate. . . or perhaps she was feeling protective of her so- of Din. She shook her head to clear it before looking back to Rowan for an answer.
Rowan’s eyes closed. He rubbed at his temples. The dull pain throbbing in his head like the beating of drums. He felt old. “Nos… Not Nos, the Priestess. She said lots of things before we left… She said that something found her after eons of existing in the Dawn War. Someone dark. It took her and turned her. Made her wrong. She suggested that it was Din… I’m sorry but… I don’t mean to put this on you, but you need to know.” He had been feeling this since he had come back through the portal. It had been gnawing at the edges of his mind, behind the grief and the loss. “There’s something bigger going on here. I don’t know what it is, but Din and Nos are involved. She said a lot of things before we came back. I don’t know if any of them are true, but if they are Din may be a greater threat than we know. He pulled Nos out of the Dawn War. Nothing survives there unless it’s super powerful or has divine protection…” He trails off momentarily, his own words sinking in. “I don’t know what’s true in all of this, but I do know one thing. We’re all tied into this somehow. We’re all important to whatever they have planned. And the time for secrets is coming to an end.”
Dijani listens intently and a wild hope grows in her heart. Before she can recognize the sheer stupidity of it, it comes pouring out “Wait. . . If the Priestess was good, and this ‘He’ turned her. . .” She knew it sounded ridiculous, and she hesitated, but it was out now. She might as well finish the hope of a thought. “Could it be possible that this ‘He’ isn’t Din. . . perhaps this ‘He’ turned Din in the same way as Nos. . . .” She couldn’t help it, her heart clung to the hope. The hope that, like Nos, Din wasn’t entirely evil, didn’t destroy her life simply on his own. . .
Rowan sighed. He pours another glass of whiskey. The headache was getting worse. “I don’t know. Maybe. I’d be lying if the thought hadn’t occurred to me that this could all be some ploy. Something meant to turn us against each other, I just… I don’t know…” He breathed a deep sigh. He had thought the thought, but had dreaded to think it. Hadn’t dared to give it words. He had to believe that Nos could be brought back. He wanted to believe. But the logic of his words brought the dark thought into sharp relief. ‘What if Nos corrupted Din? What if she couldn’t come back?’ Rowan banished the thought with another gulp of whiskey. He stood up slowly, reaching back into his armor and removing the letter. He hesitated for just a moment, before handing it to Dijani. “I found this in my pocket when I got back. I’m not sure when she put it there or which version of her did it. I’m not sure if it’s even true. I just… It might be important.” He hands the crumpled note to Dijani before slowly walking out of the tavern.
As he hands her the letter, she grabs his arm. Before she even reads it, she studies his face once more, then decides she has to make the decision to trust and be honest with this human. . . her friend. It served her ill once before, her caring trusting nature, and she just hoped lightning wouldn’t end up striking her twice. “Rowan. . . It was you.” She hesitated, and seemed to take it back. “I mean. . . I don’t know. I. . .” She sighed and decided to be out with it. “I was caught as the portal closed. I got a glimpse of what that Lady Saharel told me. I saw. . . I saw Din, back when he was MY Din, young and innocent.” Her voice catches only momentarily before she forces it on. “And there was a man. A man who told Din that he wanted to become a God. Din became interested and wanted to know how it could be possible. . . Rowan it was you. You were the man with Din. You were the one tempting him to be a God. You were older, gray haired and wrinkled. . . but it was you.” Her voice sunk to nearly a whisper. The note he had given her still in her hand, not yet read.
The monk walks right into the two staring at each other with a bunch of clean glasses on his arm. “Oh! Sorry…” He turns around on the spot and walks out.
Rowan’s mind couldn’t process what he had just heard. He recognized the words, but his mind refused to fully grasp the totality of their meaning. It was like he had been dropped naked into a frozen lake. He looked around slowly for a moment, at nothing in particular before slumping heavily into the wooden chair next to him. He rubbed his face into his hands, letting her words sink in. He had already failed to protect one person he had cared for today, and this news hit him like a bolder. Could this be? Would this become his fate? Was he destined to hurt everyone he cared for? He tried to compose himself, but only managed to force a weak smile. “Well, I wish I could say that you’re the first woman to call me a ‘god.’ Though I must admit when I hear it, it’s usually under better circumstances.” He swallowed hard. His stomach full of ice and his voice low. “A vision from Lady Saharel? I mean, can you be sure?” His mind wandered back to the note in Dijani’s hand. Could it be true? Was he really cursed?
Dijani watched him, and couldn’t help but enjoy his small, half hearted joke. But the air was too heavy to allow it to lighten the mood. “It wasn’t Saharel, not this time. This was the portal’s doing. I don’t know what happened to you and Rad, but I was there, standing in the grass, looking at my. . . at Din. They couldn’t see me, but it was you.” She pauses for a moment, before taking a deep, if slightly weak, breath. “Look. We don’t know what this means. We don’t know if you had anything to do with Din’s corruption, it didn’t truly show us anything.” Dijani was speaking for her own benefit more even than for Rowans.
“Yeah. Yeah I guess you’re right.” The words fell out form his mouth, though they didn’t make him feel any better. “What about the others? I have to believe they all have some part to play in this as well. Do we tell them about all of… This?”
Dijani sags to the floor, leaning back against the chair Rowan’s occupying. “The others.” She grumbles, only now taking the time to pick the various pieces of tree bark out of the spines and scales on her tail. "Well. Rad needs to know. He’s tied up in this as well, Nos was his student, and he was in on all this crazy business. The rest. . . " She doesn’t know if she really cares to bring anyone else in on this, mostly because she’s embarrassed to have to open up and trust one more individual than she has to. “I just don’t know.”
“Rad.” Rowan half laughs the name. “I love the little meatball, but I think he may be a few cards short of a deck. I think Nos took a little more than his memories. The other three? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.” He sat for a moment, enjoying the small moment of silence. Slowly a thought occurred to him. Uncontrollably a low, long chuckle began to rise from him.
Dijani sat and nodded. Rad did sometimes seem blissfully passive and unaware about everything that has been going on. She sat quietly. Zekyrr? He seems to be honest enough, but Di’s not sure she’s ready to trust him fully. Vril has been with the group too little to earn trust. . . and that Bard. . . She snorts a little. Suddenly, from behind her head, she hears Rowan start to chuckle. She looks over at him with a raised brow, somewhat concerned for his sanity. “Uh, what’s funny?” she asks hesitantly.
“I just. I can’t imagine…” He almost couldn’t hold back his laughter, “Look at the two of US? I mean hells! Can you imagine what DINFAR’s roll in all of this is?” He kept laughing. “He’ll be all ‘Hey guys. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to sing the song that ends the world! Oh don’t worry, It’ll be fun!” The thought was absurd. He must have been more tired than he thought, but it felt good to laugh at least.
Dijani snorted at first “That bard will be the end of me if he has anything to say about it.” But she couldn’t help but join in on the laughter. What a crazy group they had assembled. Dijani then took a moment to look back at the note Rowan had given her, and read through it.
we have not known each other very long, so forgive me for butting into this. But I felt it is necessary to let you know.
I may be young and not as experienced as my master is, but I do recognize a curse when I see one. And your curse looks really nasty.
Someone in your family (not you, you seem nice), must have been responsible for many - and I mean MANY – deaths. I cannot tell you what exactly that means for you or your blood relatives… but please, whatever you do, be careful.
She sighed a bit as her laughter came to an end and she handed the note up over her shoulder to Rowan. “So, you don’t happen to have a twin brother do you?” It was more a grumbled joke than any sort of honest question. "I suppose we’ll just have to see how this plays out. "
“I guess. I do actually have a twin sister. We couldn’t be less alike though. Sometimes I can’t believe that we’re related at all.” His mind wandered back to his family. His father, and his brothers and sisters. Could one of them truly be a murderer? The thought seemed impossible. They all held themselves in such high regard. Well, most of them did. “My little sister though. She’s got potential. Not too bad with a blade actually.”
Dijani was asking more out of hope that it wasn’t actually Rowan she had seen in her vision, but she let it pass. It was wishful thinking anyway. “Yeah? Where is she at?” She figured it would get his mind off things to make some small talk. She leaned back, accidentally scooting his chair back a few inches as she leaned against it, but then settled into a half recline.
Rowan thought for a second. “Caenon? I don’t really know actually. My family and I didn’t exactly part ways on the best of terms. I haven’t really been in touch.” He sighed heavily. He thought back for a moment. Something was gnawing at him, like a splinter in his mind. Hadn’t someone else also received a note recently? Something about their family? But who… Rowan sat upright. “Zekyrr…”
Dijani blinked and looks up again “Zekyrr? What about him?” She was actually happy enough to steer away from the subject of family, it was a bit painful for all involved it seems.
“Zekyrr got a letter. Remember? That night we first met. After the Kolbold cave and the Dragon. Zekyrr got some ‘mysterious’ letter. He really wanted to go somewhere but we all decided to come here instead… I mean, It’s got to be related right? How could It not be??”
Dijani sits up , leaning on her knees and thinks. “You’re right. . . He did get something, and seemed pretty torn up about it. . . well” she catches herself, “as torn up as old knife-ears seems to get.” she thinks for a minute. “Well, if we can get Mr. Tall dark and stoic to open up about it, it might be a good next step.”
“It’s the only real lead we’ve got. I mean it can’t be a coincidence right?”
Dijani nods, then pushes herself back to her feet. “Well, it seems like that’s our next step. But for now, what’s say we try to find some sleep. Can’t kill things on no sleep now can we.” She looks back at him “Thanks for the talk Rowan. We’ll get this sorted sooner or later. Till then. . .” she pauses for only a moment. “I got your back.”
Rowan smiles and lifts himself out form his chair. The last few days had taken a toll on him, and he needed rest. “Back at ya. Just do me a favor all right?” Rowan smiled as they walked toward the door, “Could you at least try to not completely cover me with poisoned dragon-vomit? Seriously, that crap is hell to clean out of armor.”
Dijani grins a toothy grin as they leave the tavern. “Aw come-on. Green is totally your color.”