Idris recalls a time before his resurrection when he served in the army of The Three. When not in battle, he was assigned to work in the forge where armor and weapons were crafted. He remembers, from time to time… elder dragons would come into the forge to enchant the items created with magic. Recalling the magical rituals performed by the dragons and with the help of Hildebrande’s magical armorsmith… he is able to upgrade his armor.
“You’ve been staring at me forever now… is someone going to say something? This is starting to feel weird…” The woman who looked exactly like Casila Artalin looked to Itotia, who put her arm around her, when no one broke the silence despite her request.
Finally, Legion cleared his throat. “Forgive us. It is simply that you are an exact replica of someone we know…it is uncanny.”
“Yeah, that’s what she said,” said the stranger, indicating Merrian. “Wouldn’t say from where, though; insisted on waiting for you all.”
Idris’ golden globes narrowed and he stroked his chin. Eventually, he addressed Itotia “We’re going to step aside and discuss this situation. Please…umm…” He didn’t know how to finish. The priestess simply nodded and placed a reassuring hand on his forearm. The swordmage thanked her and joined his friends in a pair of pews.
Legion was sitting with his standard scowl of suspicion. Merian looked genuinely concerned; Idris wondered what she had done to be able to turn up this…twin (?). Puki was already at work in his head, trying to figure out what this all meant. Nidalru? She had a wry smile on her face; she no doubt found the chaos and intrigue interesting, even exciting.
Idris sat down and looked at his friends with a grin. “Sooooo….”
“There are deceptions afoot,” began Legion.
“Yes, darling,” cooed Nidalru with a patronizing look that Legion ignored. Or was unaware of.
Practical-minded Puki spoke next. “So we’re not going to entertain the idea that it’s the same person who has escaped the Stone Thief but has somehow lost her memory of us?”
“I suppose it’s possible,” said Idris.
“If that’s the case,” continued Puki. There’s not much for us to do…except perhaps mourn the people left behind in Marblehall.”
“Unless Marblehall has been restored as well…?” ventured Legion.
Nidalru’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wouldn’t -that- be something!”
“We’ve seen stranger things, that’s for sure,” responded Merian.
They all knew that was true.
“So…what can we do to determine the reality of her identity?” asked Idris.
“That depends on what she is,” answered the shade. “Some deceptions are easier to unearth than others.”
“What are you thinking?”
“Could be any number of things: Doppleganger. Polymorphed demon or dragon. Rahshasa. Possessor demon. Or…”
Legion’s eyes narrowed. “An emissary from the Flesh Tailor.”
An uneasy feeling passed over Legion, Idris, Nidalru, and Merian.
Merian broke the silence. “Is there a way to magically determine what she is that a, say, Rakshasa, couldn’t defeat?”
Legion sighed. “There would always be doubt.”
“Then perhaps we should just speak with her. Find out what her story is, and proceed from there. I think I,” said Merian with a sidelong glance at Nidalru, “should go first, if that’s all right with everyone?”
No one objected.
Over the course of a long conversation (that eventually everyone participated in), the Hildeys learned a few things:
- She claims to Calisa Artalin. An adventuring wizard in a group called The Wayfaring Strangers
- The group’s name is accurate; they were effectively strangers when they answered an ad in an adventuring guild. They worked well together and registered as a professional company.
- She lists her companions (she doesn’t use the word ‘friends’) as Bartholomew, Efric, Tallis, Virgil, and Arzimyat.
- She is shocked to learn that they are likely dead. She has identified the body in the temple as Arzimyat
- She is confused by recent events in her life. It had been some time since The Wayfaring Strangers had been on a mission together, and her gold count was getting low. So she reached out to the other members to see if anyone had dungeon to loot or somesuch. No answer. She waited and waited, and finally decided to go see them personally; she admits she was worried that they had replaced her with someone cheaper. When she got to Virgil’s home, his manservant seemed surprised to see her. When she asked about Virgil’s whereabouts, the old man said “He’s supposed to be with you, isn’t he, mistress?”
- When she asked what they were supposed to be doing, he said they were supposed to be investigating the Stone Thief. Artalin had never heard of a “Stone Thief.”
- Confused and suspicious, she decided to return to her ancestral home of Marblehall. She got as far as the town of Dwardel, and stopped for a meal at the Giant Flagon’s Inn. She says that she had a “bad vibe” in the inn and took her meal in a shadowy corner; her instinct was right: A famous bounty hunter named Talek came in and asked at the bar if anyone had seen her in the environs. The bartender, an extraordinarily strong woman with red hair, told him no, but he mentioned he might check out “the old estate.” Casila knew it wouldn’t be prudent to return home.
- So, she went on the run. It was hard; she was already low on funds and wasn’t exactly… street smart. It was tough. She had to start taking some mercenary work. Unfortunately, it seems that is what made her presence known to whatever enemy that was hunting her. She had already survived 2 attacks on her life, barely, when Merian found her in Hildebrande.
- Why was she in Hildebrande? Because she heard there was an adventuring group, the Hildeys, who had ventured into the “Stone Thief” and since that term was her only lead, she came here to find them.
- Her last mission was a long one that took her to the northernmost regions of the empire for over a year; she was so off the grid that she considered returning for safety sake…but finally admitted that she couldn’t survive there on her own without the rest of her troupe.
- She is anxious to return to her home of Marblehall, as well as her tower that is nearby where she keeps her wizardly paraphenelia.
*nearby to Marblehall, that is.
- She feels there may be answers there…but is also worried that her mysterious enemy may have gained access to it.