Sep 22, 2021 4:12 PM
leareth is captured by Cheliax
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Leareth's mage is incredibly startled by the sudden, even more powerful burst of MAGIC right there near his target of investigation. 

He freezes, but in the process of trying to stop mid-step, his foot catches on a root. He goes sprawling, almost directly in front of the Arcane Eye, illusion still in place but disrupted enough that it's obvious something just happened. 

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Detect Thoughts is still up. She Fireballs the place where something bizarre happened, it shouldn't kill a wizard of any competence but it'll be distracting - and tries for the mind that must be there - the First Arcane is meanwhile dispelling everything around, though these people don't seem to have proper invisibility really -

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The fireball in fact barely inconveniences Leareth's mage, who is thoroughly shielded, but it does disrupt his focus enough that he loses the illusion. Carissa sees a man in drab brown clothing, made to blend in well against the underbrush and carpet of fallen fir needles. 

Dispel Magic doesn't take out all of the man's protective talismans, but the one against Thoughtsensing in particular is, while it's incredibly efficient - almost undetectable by mage-sight except by a skilled Adept, and only in need of re-powering every three days or so - is also not very powerful. Its main use case is for undercover spies, who generally won't have mage-gift or the ability to re-power it themselves. 

Dispel Magic breaks it. 

The man isn't especially scared, yet - Leareth has this under control, Leareth always has the situation under control - but he's off-balance and very, very confused. He snaps out a quick burst of what's presumably telepathic communication, :under attack get Farsight on us: and breaks the connection before Carissa can get a sense of where or how far the communication was directed. 

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Possibly they have just engaged Valdemar, though it'd be kind of bizarre if Valdemar guards their own borders with solo invisible people. Nonetheless best not to try to grab the guy until they know more. She throws up an illusion of her own, illusory guy-she-just-killed stepping through the forest towards the guy, hands raised - "We're looking for Valdemar, is this Valdemar?" in Iftel's local language -

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While the First Arcane flies up and clear of the situation and looks for any traces of others -

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Leareth's mages are good, but they've also got a lot on their minds. They're mostly relying on tree cover rather than illusions, which leak to mage-sight, and they're not optimizing for hiding from above. The First Arcane can manage to spot a flash of movement, one of the mages trying to get closer to one of the injured Ifteli soldiers. 

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Leareth is busy receiving reports. They're more fragmentary than he would prefer - he doesn't understand exactly what's happening - but it definitely sounds like the invading force crossed in pursuit. 

Somehow. 

...Which means this location is suddenly very dangerous

He prepares himself to Gate out, but doesn't, not quite yet. Danger, yes, but the danger is still going to be there, and his own complete ignorance is its own form of threat. He's very well shielded; even a Final Strike wouldn't take out this bunker's shields except at point-blank range. Any more conventional attack would give him plenty of time to get out. 

He relays Mindspeech orders, and gets out a scrying-artifact to scope out what exactly just happened to his mage investigating the unknown spell. 

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The mage scrambles to his feet. 

He's so confused. There's - magic there - it doesn't look like shields but he doesn't know what else it could be. 

The Ifteli language shares roots with Karsite, but also with ancient Kaled'a'in; he can understand it but he isn't fully fluent. He squints. ...They think he's Valdemaran? That's - actually kind of amusing, in a way. 

"You see who throw the fireball?" he says in awkward Ifteli, not answering the question. "You are being pursued - you need help, yes -?" 

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"Yes, we're being pursued. The invaders threw the fireball."

("They're not Valdemaran," Carissa hisses to the soldier beside her. "Don't know who they work for except "Leareth". Tell the First Arcane -")

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Leareth gets his scrying set up. 

...That's not an ordinary Ifteli foot soldiers. He's - very confused - and working at the remove of the scrying-artifact blurs his mage-sight a little, but...there's magic there and it has the same flavour as the other unknown spell - 

:It is a trap: he snaps out to his nearby sentries, for them to relay. :We should play along, but - get people closer to him, be ready for an ambush -: 

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The mage receives this information via a two-step relay of short-range, shielded Mindspeech. 

He's a professional. No reaction shows on his face. His thoughts, however, are reeling. Leareth didn't say anything more, but he must suspect this 'Ifteli' soldier is actually one of the invaders - in disguise somehow - 

He wonders how long Leareth will linger before taking the route of paranoia and Gating himself out of here. 

"How do they cross barrier?" he asks. "They cannot do before, no?" 

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So this person can't see through the illusion but he has - scrying backup - who can - "tell the First Arcane to fog anywhere we're acting -"

 

And she backs away until the illusion's at the end of her range - it'd be really nice to be flying as well but they are running critically low on spells, at this point, even with a wand for the Fireballs -

"Vkaendis burns them when they try," her illusion says. "Are your people of Vkaendis also?"

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Ha. As if. This mage doesn't know all the context on Leareth's work and plans, but he does know, very well, that all of the gods are monsters. Some more than others, of course, but Vkandis Sunlord isn't one of the better ones. 

He wishes they'd planned a script more, although why would they have planned one for this. 

"No," he says tightly. 

To one of the others, :- tell Leareth to get out -: 

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Leareth is ready to Gate out on a second's notice, but it takes a lot longer than a second for the warning to be - carefully, as untraceably as possible - relayed. 

And none of his people are especially nearby the hidden exit from the shielded bunker. He's told them to spread out, Thoughtsense anyone they can, get as much mage-sight intelligence as possible - 

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On the other side of the barrier, about ten miles away, unbeknownst to any of Leareth or Carissa's party or the fleeing Ifteli soldiers, an unrelated fight is taking place.

It's not going well. 

An Ifteli priest-mage was cornered by those awful flying not-demons. There's no agreement yet on what they are, but they're too damned smart to be Abyssal in origin. 

He tried to take shelter in a rocky crevasse, but the enemy must have seen him enter; there are people coming now. 

 

He sends up one final prayer to his god, and calls a Final Strike. 

The crevasse runs deeper than he realized. There's a fault-line in the rock. Not that unstable, but unstable enough. 

 

The barrier shields Iftel, but it doesn't shield out forces transmitted through the underlying earth and stone. 

From the perspective of Leareth's people and the Chelish party, the earthquake comes from nowhere. One moment, nothing; the next moment, the ground heaves under them, trees uprooted, an ancient glacial plateau of stone rearing up through millennia of accumulated soil and forest - 

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They're near the epicentre, but it's not actually that powerful of an earthquake, in absolute terms. It's going to knock down everyone still on their feet, and kill a lot of trees, but no gaping holes open into the earth. 

It is, however, a deeply unlucky earthquake, from the perspective of exactly where one particular well-concealed bunker lies nestled in the rock where it was carved out. 

Leareth has almost no warning. He was ready to Gate on a second's notice, but the first shock flings him into the wall - shields shatter as the stone that scaffolds them is crushed apart - he loses focus on his destination in the north, and has less than a second to react, the ceiling is already coming down - 

Leareth has finely-honed reflexes. He can raise an unscaffolded Gate in well under a second. If it's short-range. 

He blind-Gates to the surface - no, twenty-five feet above the surface, the fall won't kill him but emerging in the wrong place might and everything is going wrong and he knows exactly why - 

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From the point of view of Carissa and her people, there is an earthquake, and then a sudden burst of very powerful magic and then a Gate and a man falling from midair toward the shattered trees below. 

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She drops her illusion and runs towards there. 

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The First Arcane's strategic assessment of the situation is that he'd like to get back to Iftel, where everyone around is hostile but there's only one faction of hostiles and their capabilities are pretty well known and do not include Gates into the sky or invisibility or scrying-based backup for random scouts. Iftel, and then a Rope Trick to sleep in. That leaves a fourth-circle spell unused, though. 

He swoops back towards the rest of his crew and conveys these orders with a sparkling incomprehensible illusion in the sky and then fires off a Lesser Geas at the falling man as he crashes into the ground, because falling from the sky is terrible for your spell saves. If it takes he'll need Sevar to convey the instructions, she's the one with Tongues up. 

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Leareth falls and he's already extending all his Othersenses, and reinforcing his shields - but focused on physical shields, he wants to land uninjured, he's distracted trying to orient to what's below him - 

He feels the magic crash into him.

It feels sort of like a compulsion - at least, it's more compulsion-shaped than shaped like anything else familiar to him - but it's...blank? Contentless? And absurdly overpowered. Leareth has spent a lot of time drilling mages to cast compulsions more efficiently, because inexperienced mages make them clumsy and put in too much power, which mostly just makes them more detectable - but this is ten times that, or more - 

He struggles against it but it's unfamiliar magic, coming at him from an unexpected 'angle', and he knows even as he smashes through tangled branches that he didn't hold it off. 

And then he's sprawled on pine needles. Unhurt save for bruises, he thinks, but with the wind thoroughly knocked out of him. 

Does the not-compulsion let him Mindspeak his nearest mage and order them to GET OUT NOW. 

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Yep! It's not doing anything, just sitting there, gluey -

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"Don't take volitional actions I or a delegate haven't in the last hour authorized," a voice says in fluent Valdemaran, slightly breathless, and then it hardens into place and now it's doing some things. 

 

She takes the prisoner's hand and reaches for the First Arcane for the teleport out. 

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:Get out now rendezvous in the north - I am compromis–: 

And that's all Leareth has time for. He was going to add that his people should get him out if they can, Nayoki will be able to fix - whatever that was - but he's run out of time. 

He can tell that struggling won't help, right now, so he doesn't. 

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Some frantic, rapid Mindspeech is exchanged between various other mages, scattered around throughout the earthquake-smashed forest, and then the one who can do the fastest unscaffolded Gates throws one up and vanishes.

The others freeze behind shields and wait to see what's going to happen next. :Leareth are you all right: one of them sends. 

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Mindspeech is an action and he can't. He would just - not shield them out - but he's wearing a talisman and shutting it off would also be an action. 

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