BUILD YOUR OWN WORLD Like what you see? Become the Master of your own Universe!

Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

The Interrogation

General Summary

Venfaren told Durdeg and Sif that he will begin his interrogation shortly, although it will take a great deal of preparation time in order to complete. He states that he will begin by checking the omens to determine if there is benefit to the interrogation. He will not waste his time if there is no possibility of success.

He allowed them to follow him to his ritual room, where he began by lighting a series of candles. With the candles lit, he turned his attention to lighting incense, until a sweet smell pervaded the room. Minutes crept by as Venfaren chanted while moving from candle to candle, then finally stoped in the center of the room. He knelt down, and unrolled a square of deep red velvet. He smoothed this out, ensuring that it wass completely flat and centered in the ritual circle. He then pulled a cloth bag from a pouch at his waist and loosened the drawstring.

Muttering something, he upended the bag, and poured out a number of colored crystals. They hit the velvet, bouncing off each other and the ground before coming to rest in a haphazard pile. Sif and Durdeg saw no pattern at all to the crystals, although they both recognized the augur ritual, and Venfaren frowned over the results.

“We can ignore the lesser three - there is nothing to be gained by speaking with any of them. I expected this to be the case, as to me they look more interested in whatever food they can get than in protecting the secrets of a dark Deity. I charge you with their disposition - think on what they have done, or will do, and decide what should become of them.”

With that, Venfaren began again, performing the same ritual that he had just completed. The minutes stretched out as the divination ritual was undertaken again.. As Venfaren smoothed the velvet square, Sif and Durdeg leaned in to get another look at the crystals as they were cast. This time, rather than simply falling to the ground, they saw a subtle twisting. As the crystals settled on the velvet square, they saw some clustering of colors and shapes. While unable to point to anything in particular, they saw that this was different from the previous toss. “Weal and woe, woe and weal,” Venfaren muttered.

He turned to the duo, his face slightly troubled. “The omens tell me that questioning the leader will bring both woe and weal upon us, although not which will predominate. Anything we do here has the possibility of doing more harm than good - simple interrogation will both help and hurt, although I do not know how. Were it my decision alone, I would spend the time to learn more, and determine the most optimal method of questioning. But I cannot speak for you, and what you have discovered for yourselves. If you wish, I will begin the interrogation. If you have the time to wait, either in town or for me to send a message to you one the road, I can minimize our risks. There are risks in delay, of course, and it may be that matters will be worse if we take a long time with this.”

“You have taken us this far, and the choice is yours.”


Durdeg takes the lead, and says that they should take the day to learn more and to prepare for the next day. Venfaren agrees, and tells the pair that he will continue to seek auguries as to what he can expect, and that they can begin in the morning. In the meantime, as suggested by Durdeg and heartily agreed with by Venfaren, they treated the people well. Imprisoning would be difficult in the tower without facilities anyway, so they made use of the servant's quarters, allowing a few members of the staff to stay in a visitors room to make room for the prisoners. Venfaren gathered the prisoners, told them that they were glad to have rescued them from the dank sewers. With a few hand motions, that Sif and Durdeg eventually pieced together must have been a mass suggestion spell, he told them that they should all stay on this floor until someone came for them, but they were welcome to any food or drink in the small kitchen. They all nodded, and the pair could tell that the magic had taken hold. Venfaren then pulled the leader of the group aside. Sif and Durdeg saw the hand motions of another spell, and Venfaren held the man's eyes as he told him, "You were lucky that you were found when you were. Those alligators had set upon you, tearing apart two of your friends. But when my agents came in and killed the beasts, they saved the lives of you and your other friends. The sleep spell caught you all, and you were brought to us." The man nodded along, embracing this telling as his memory of how he had come to be here.

Venfaren meets Durdeg and Sif late the next morning. Durdeg has come prepared - he has disguised himself to be a human man in fine clothes. When he arrives, he has a potion of detect thoughts ready, and asks the group about its use. Venfaren said that he could detect thoughts, but with this available, it would be better to keep his own mind free to suggest certain courses of action. Venfaren then lead them to a small dining room. Here, he told them, they would bring the leader in for a meal, where Venfaren would simply ask him to tell him his story. He believed that this would be the best way to get the most information without danger. Once the man finished talking, Venfaren said, he would suggest that the man answer his friend's questions. He would not use a zone of truth, as the man would know it was in place and turn everything adversarial. If it becomes necessary, I have a bottle of wine that will suffice.

The plan set, Venfaren sent for the prisoner and for lunch to be served. Durdeg drank his potion and tucked the bottle away. He sent V5 to lay by the chair that was set up for the prisoner, so that he could intervene if for any reason the man attacked. A member of Venfaren's staff came in with a cart and set out bowls at each of the seats. They left, just as the butler led in the leader of the cultists. Venfaren stood, reaching his hand out to the man, a look of concern on his face. "Good sir," he said, "I'm glad you were willing to have lunch with us. I'm sorry for any rough treatment you may have had when you were found in the sewers - there have been some nasty creatures down there, so my friends had to get you out as quickly as they could." Durdeg's potion was kicking in, and he felt the surprise, and some suspicion, in the man. He was clearly not expecting this. As Venfaren led him to a chair where the smell of the soup must have reached him, the suspicion began to change to hope.

The man sat down, and Venfaren joined the table. The butler served glasses of wine all around, and while suspicion flared again, it was quickly replaced by hope again as Venfaren drank. The man tasted the wine, then quickly drank half of his glass. The butler refilled it for him, then stepped out of the room. "Please," Venfaren said, "enjoy your soup while I introduce myself." The man did, and Venfaren began to speak. "I am Venfaren, wizard and philanthropist. I try to do what is best for the city, and civilization in general. This includes ensuring that the public works like the city sewers do not harbor anything that can be a danger to people. That's how my people found you." Durdeg sees that the man clearly remembers being rescued from alligators, and is inclined to trust Venfaren. "Our lunch companions," Venfaren continues, "help me with my attempts to improve the city. One of the things that I am entrusting to them is to find a new life for people in your situation." At this point, the man finished his soup, and the butler returned and moved to his side. As the butler removed the empty bowl, he asked the man whether he wanted the beef or fowl, and launched into an explanation of what the meals consisted of. While the man turned to the butler, Venfaren made the motions of a suggestion spell, finishing just as the man decided on the beef and turned back to his wine. "My friend," Venfaren said, "please, tell us how you came to be in the sewers, and anything else you think might help us in helping you."

Durdeg felt the magic take hold of the man, as his thoughts focused on how good of an idea that was. His thoughts were on how much Venfaren had helped him. "Well," the prisoner said, "thank you, and thanks for the food. I'm Stery Hammund, and I thank you for your help. I was once an apprentice butcher. But the butcher was a drunk. He'd start drinking at breakfast, and continue all day. By midafternoon, he couldn't do anything, and so he never made enough money. Wht he did have, he spent on drink, so I began to drink with him. Eventually we were both drunk all day, and he had to work drunk to get enough to keep up with the bills. Then it caught up to him - he chopped half his hand off trying to butcher a pig. He was drunk, and the blood flowed, and soon enough, it all flowed out of him." Durdeg caught a complex series of emotions - sorrow, hate, fear, love, all directed at the butcher.

Stery took another drink of wine, and started again. "Well, I took what I could, and headed out of there. I wasn't thinking straight, and didn't know what to do, so I ran. The next morning, I woke with the shakes. I was used to drinking all day, and I couldn't get by without. I spent everything I had on booze. I lived on the streets, begged and stole, just to get more. One day, I was sleeping in a back alley, when a group of thugs came by. They beat me, and took my booze, then they dumped me in the sewer. I passed out, and didn't wake up until night. With just the red light of Lanin shining down, I staggered through the water, feeling the filth eat at me. Then, as I rounded a corner, I saw a tunnel leading up through the wall of the sewer. It looked like there was a bloody eyeball on the wall of the tunnel, and I stumbled. But I quickly saw I was wrong, that it was a reflection concentrating that red light. It was coming off a copper coin laying in the muck on the ground. I grabbed the coin, all I had, but maybe enough for a bit more booze. But I felt like I should go up that tunnel - maybe it would be a better place to stay." Durdeg felt the man's fear and disgust, at the sewers and himself.

"So I walked up that tunnel, and I found the temple. I don't know who built it, or why, I just know that when I walked in, I could feel that there was a power in this place. I didn't understand the power, not then. The only power I really understood was the drink. But the palce called out to me, as somewhere that I could find an end to my troubles. I felt safe there - I felt like this was a place of ultimate peace, a place beyond pain. I found some ratty altar cloths and made a little bed of them. I slept soundly there in the center of the room, and I had a dream. I dreamed of a life where I didn't have to drink, where I had control over myself. I saw that with control over myself, I would have control over others. I woke up smiling." Happiness at the memory, shot through with pride.

"I woke the next morning, and I didn't shake. I had one coin, and no food. I didn't know what I would do, but I knew I could do something. I left the room, back down the tunnel, but even as I did so, the shakes started to come back. I wasn't through it yet, I had just pushed it back. But I had to find food, and clean water. I gripped that coin, and I prayed to whom or whatever had brought me to the temple. And I walked inito the filth, looking for a way out. I found it - without a bit of a wrong turn, like I was lead. I came to an inlet by the docks, and I drank deeply from the river. It was certainly cleaner than the sewer, and i tried to wash as best I could from the bank. I crept up tho the docks, and saw a man there, passed out drunk. I thought he might have food, so I moved as quietly as I could up to him. Didn't need to, as I realized he was beyond just passed out - looked like he was past the point he should have died, and it would catch up with him soon enough. I searched him, found a bottle of rum, some moldy bread, and three copper pieces. I took his clothes, which were a bit better than mine, emptied the bottle and refilled it from the river, and headed back."

"Well, when I got back to the temple, I felt a bit more at peace. I ate the bread, trying to pull off the mold but not really worrying about it. I was feeling better, shaking off the drink, and curled back up in the cloths. I fell asleep, and ended up out for more than half a day. The dreams were dreams of power again, dreams of conquering the drink, then conquering my fellow man, and finally, the jewel itself. Since then, I have gathered others like me - people who have no reason to go on, who can't make their way in the world, and I have given them a way. Some haven't made it - some, when they spend a few nights in the circle, they simply waste away. But even those make us stronger, as we see that we are better than them, that we are the ones who can truly overcome." Durdeg felt the pride in Stery, and saw images of him talking to vagrants on the docks. He saw the man talk others into joining him, and he saw the man dragging unconscious bodies into the sewers. He saw Stery cleaning the center of the room, revealing a circle cut into the floor, and he sees people sleeping in the center.

Stery went quiet, and Venfaren looks over at Durdeg and Sif. Durdeg looks at Venfaren, and gives a slight nod. Venfaren motions with his hands again, and suggests that Stery answer his companions questions so that they know how to help him. Stery nodded, and Durdeg sensed that he thinks this is a good idea. When Durdeg was confident that the man was receptive, he began to question the man.

Durdeg looked at the man, and asked him, "Who is the higher power that has helped you?" He sensed confusion as the man answered, "I don't know that it has a name - I know that I feel closest to it when I am in the circle, or praying at the altar." Durdeg nodded, and followed by asking, "Do you ever get more than a feeling? Does the power directly communicate with you?" Durdeg saw a clear image of the altar as he finishes, and the man replied, "I sometimes get a feeling of what to do, but it isn't in words. Last week, as I was praying, I felt that I needed to wait beneath a certain sewer grate. I did, and eventually, a pouch fell through. I took it, and it provided enough coin to feed us all for a week, letting us spend more time on seeking our purpose."

"When you say us all, who is that? We need to know everyone, so we can arrange for enough space." Stery nodded in response to Durdeg's question, and Durdeg picked up a clear picture of a woman. She was a Daikini, with shoulder length black hair, dark eyes over sharp cheekbones, and a long, sharp nose. A faded scar is visible under her left eye, and she has a tiny mole on her right cheek. Stery said, "I meant the six of us who live in temple. But the lady has joined us a few times, coming into the temple to meditate at the altar or in the circle. She came when we starved, and told us to keep faith as she gave us enough coin to get by. But I don't know how to find her."

Durdeg asked, "When you feel the power around you, does it help you to exceed the abilities of others? Has it blessed you with any abilities that can help you to sieze power?" Stery answered, "When I feel him, I don't fear. I don't fear death, I embrace death as what makes life possible. In know that I deserve and shall have whatever I can take." He looks nervous for a moment, unsure whether his new companions would really understand. Venfaren leaned in and whispered to him, "I know what you mean, and we're here to help you get what you deserve." Stery calms down and smiles lightly, turning back to Durdeg.

Durdeg pondered his next questions. He was looking for more information about Diabolus, but at this point he wasn'st sure if the man even knew the name. This was clearly the man from the vision, yet also clearly not anywhere close to the same level of power. How far into the future was the vision?

Report Date
14 Nov 2020

Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

Cover image: by Chance Rose


Please Login in order to comment!