Chapter 1: Fodder!

Gruunk Bloodfist
Half-orc Barbarian (Berserker)
Current HP: 39/39 Bloodied: 19
Healing Surges Used: 2/9 (9)
Resources Used:


Gruunk's hunter instincts kick in immediately upon seeing the hidden creatures and he looks for other signs of foes as well as anything about the drow that can give them an edge.

Looking up, the human smiles and nods at the drow, recognizing their preparations and knack for ambushes. "Well done lads, now to get out safely, you are going to head up stairs, make your first right and skirt the edges of the courtyard. Once you get to the giant hole caused by that bitch half-minotaur, you simply walk outside the keep and make a right, headed back towards the main gate. Our forces should all be upstairs looting and slaughtering your matron and her family, a straight shot out and if you are quick you live."

Tarner listens intently to what the drow say. He then focuses his eyes on the tree, attempting to scan it for any abnormalities (aside from the obvious). "Come, tell me your secrets, tree. Tell me..." he mutters, carefully analyzing every contour of every leaf for any clue as to its nature.

Eduardo looks at Nurse askance, shaking his head at the mysterious fighter's poor attempt at lying. You're making it too complicated . . . he looks at the drow, the main army is moved past the gates and gone in to fight your matron in the last redoubt, doubtlessly completely concentrated on it. I doubt they'll stop and spend time to attack slaves and servants, and we've seen a few that survived by cowering in the corners.

He motions to the drow swords and armor, if you remove those and look, uh, pathetic enough, you can probably just go up and walk out of here. The main gate is in tatters, and there are a dozen holes in the wall. Take your pick and walk on through.

"You want we... take off armor?" the drow asks. He shakes his head, but his companion nudges him. Then Gruunk smiles a broad, terrifying smile, and you can see all resistance break. Soon the pair are stripping, leaving swords and armor in a heap on the ground. They nod to you before moving off. "Be careful. Matron say truth-tree cursed. We tried talk to it, but... thing it say not make no sense. It said we die, but we not dead. We getting away!"

You spend the next few minutes looking at the tree. Tarner in particular is fascinated by it. As you watch, it moves--seemingly of its own accord. Finally it speaks, it's voice like the sound of broken glass in your inner ear.

Go on, it says. This is directed at Tarner, you realize. Ask. Ask what you would know. Are you truly alive? Can you a force for good or the plaything of a demon? Ask, golem, for I know all of your answers. But then... so do you.

Hearing the tree's questions, Nurse clears his throat and asks simply, "Whom is it I seek? You know of what I ask."

Tarner walks up to the rim surrounding the tree, looking almost entranced by all that it could offer him. Then, the look on his face is gone, and replaced by one of fierce determination. "You are correct, tree. I do know the answers. I do not care whether I am truly alive or not; All that matters is that I am aware, and I will make the most of the time I was so blessed with and not fret over any answer you might give. And I refuse to be a plaything; That answer, I know for certain. I do not care if the demon was controlling my every step, I would fight it the entire way. I shall not be controlled by the demon, nor shall I be controlled by any knowledge you could offer." After this, he steps aside. "You may all ask whatever you wish of the tree; I, however, refuse. I shall learn any answers on my own." It appears as if it takes every bit of restraint in his body to keep from lighting the tree ablaze, which in fact it does.

Eduardo sighs as the tree addresses its question to the warforged, and quickly cuts in. I beg your pardon, oh crystaline visage of, uh, arboral perfection, but if I may, I have a somewhat more mundane, concrete, and simpler question to ask that would, presumably, take hardly any of your time to answer.

The bard jovially steps forward, bowing to the thing, trying to make sure he's not directly beneath the ape-thing the drow mentioned. It has to do with a certain affliction that plagues me since I entered into the service of my oh-so-great mistress, and the means with which I can remove its effects. Perhaps you can give me some insight into it?

Foolish golem, the tree says. So sure of your destiny. But oft-times, destiny has a way of surprising you. Ask your "human" friend. He could tell you.

As for you, human, you have made your choices and now lie in a bed of your own devising. Who am I to undermine such a fate? Besides, what would you do if you knew the answer? You are a slave now as surely as those alongside whom you serve. That is your truth. Take it and do as you will. Or, if you are able, change your truth and then come and seek me again. Regardless, any other answer avails you not.

After this, there is a long pause. Eduardo feels the tree pondering him. It is a force of malevolence, he realizes. One at least as potent as any drow. You ask the wrong questions, bard. Ask not how you may cure yourself. Rather, consider: why go to such lengths to chain a common pleasure slave? If you can understand the 'why' of your captivity, you may perhaps take a step towards mastering it.

With a snort, the human spits on the ground in disgust, "So you speak only of the truths of the moment, and your knowledge is limited to only what you can see before you? Very well, thought I get the feeling you know as well as I that I can change my 'truth' in the blink of an eye."

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