Sep 22, 2021 4:59 PM
leareth is captured by Cheliax
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Outside the Rope trick, hidden from view by illusions and moving in complete silence, a cluster of figures creep closer to the source of - whatever that sound was. 


It sounded like someone pissing from out of a tree. 

Melody is well beyond having second thoughts about this mission, onto fourth and fifth thoughts. She is not trained to move silently through a dense forest in the middle of the night. The Tayledras Healing-Adept - Moonsong? no, Moondance - has some sort of Gift called earthsense, which apparently helps with creeping around a forest at night, and is guiding them from something like concert-rapport. 

Melody still feels incredibly discombobulated about the fact that she was apparently judged one of the essential people to send on a rescue mission into a foreign country - currently at war with a different foreign country - to rescue a powerful mage from yet some third polity. Who was supposedly, himself, previously gearing up to fight Valdemar. 

Which is why they're not giving Leareth back to his own people. His people have apparently been having an absurdly unlucky time of moving through the forest searching. But Valdemar has a direct line of communications with Vkandis, apparently, via Queen Karis. And the Tayledras can talk to the Star-Eyed Goddess.

Intelligence was passed on. Some sort of deal was arranged. And, separately, Herald Katha's agents were apparently somehow in contact with the would-be rescuers from Leareth's organization. Intelligence was passed along by that route as well; now they know a little more about what magical defences - and threats - they should be expecting.

And then they Gated north. Starwind used Vanyel's Farsight to raise a Gate on the doorway of an abandoned cottage close-ish to the place where the invaders snatched Leareth and hauled him across the barrier. 

Melody has no idea if they were informed that Valdemar was sending in a party of their own. They haven't stumbled onto anyone, though. 


:Stop: Moondance sends, his forearm tensing under Melody's cautious grip. :- We are close. Just ahead, I think - that way... Quietly, move quietly. We cannot let them see us coming: 


Melody forces herself to breathe slowly and evenly through her nose. Following Moondance's lead, she steps cautiously, timing it to when a gust of wind disturbs the branches and needles of the fir trees above them, drowning the faint crunch of her footfall in ambient nighttime noise. 

A bird glides overhead. It's a really big bird, so - probably in fact one of the Tayledras bondbirds, belonging to either Starwind or Moondance. Melody can't tell them apart. 


...They're about to try to re-kidnap an incredibly powerful, terrifying mage who is apparently immortal and also - acquaintances, and it sounded like more than that - with Vanyel. And he's under some kind enemy compulsion. Thus, Melody's presence. She needs to make sure that Leareth is incapacitated and can't be mind-controlled into harming any of them or helping his captors escape back to Cheliax. 


She's utterly terrified, this is not the kind of work she's qualified for. The fear is, rather impressively, enough to completely drown out any crankiness about having been dragged out of bed in the middle of the goddamned night. 

She's here, though. Sometimes, something just clearly needs doing. 


The rest of the Tayledras Adepts and other scouts stay back, letting the three of them approach the faint source of magic that Moondance thought he could sense. Their illusions aren't quite invisibility - that's very difficult to do, nearly impossible on the fly and while moving - but it's quite dark. All they need is to get close enough...  


Magic mostly does not work across the boundary to a pocket dimension but you can Detect Magic out of the viewing window of a Rope Trick.


She doesn't notice anything until they're within thirty feet. 


Then - 





She could try to have Leareth Gate - but where to, and he can definitely stall long enough for it not to matter - she could try to have him fight, if these are Iftel's people - somehow she doubts it, though - she could surrender right now and hope he's still feeling all Goody-Goody about everything - no -

- oh. There's an option. It just sucks. 


Leareth, still reading Carissa's thoughts, tenses. 


There's not much else he can do. He might still be technically allowed to move some, she let him relieve himself and the geas has a one-hour time horizon, but it won't help much - he might distract her or get in her way for five seconds before she changes the orders on the geas - 

He spends a few seconds considering where he would Gate, if she let him. You can't Gate across the barrier, that's been thoroughly tested. He still has no idea how his people got across at all, to search... 

What is Carissa's plan here - 


Moondance, leading the way, approaches the faint trace of magic. Twenty feet. Fifteen feet. Ten... 


She shoves Leareth into the bag of holding, again. 


Then she climbs in too. 

If you tear a bag of holding it expels its contents into the Astral Plane. Usually this is a terrible idea, because the Astral Plane is dangerous and hard to get back home from if you haven't got a Plane Shift. But Cheliax will be looking for them soon, and Cheliax knows this fact about the world, and the locals won't.

Of course, it is entirely possible that if you tear a bag of holding on Velgarth then you don't even go to the Astral Plane, because Velgarth is differently located with respect to the planes. But extradimensional spaces do behave normally, here, and anyway her alternatives are really not looking great, so -


Leareth has about two seconds to consider talking loudly to Carissa, in hopes that it's audible outside the pocket dimension which it almost certainly isn't. 

He doesn't try to resist, although he is really not happy about this plan. 


Moondance approaches. 



There's...a rope? It looks at first like it's hanging from the trees, or something, but it's not. It's hanging from...nothing. It goes straight up and appears to just - stop - in midair, about twenty feet up. At which point there's a very very faint trace of magic. 

He calls his bondbird over with a wordless mental gesture. :See what's there?: 

     :Yes!: And she swoops down to his shoulder, then launches herself again, toward the disappearing end of the rope. 


The rope opens into a small, square room. The floor has a viewing window that shows the trees below. The walls are blank and white. The air is still. It's very quiet. 


There's a crumpled cloth sack on the floor.


Carissa puts one arm around Leareth's shoulder, so they aren't immediately separated in the Astral Plane. She might need him to fight off astradaemons or something. 


She closes the Bag of Holding above their heads. 


And she cuts her way out of it.


- they're not in the Astral Plane. 


All the air instantly hisses explosively out of the rip in the bag, sucking the two of them out with it, and they're tumbling, free-falling through nothingness - no air, no ground - only a wild chaotic swirling of colours mostly not visible to human eyes, as the waste magic of half a dozen planes finally finds its way to the Void at the end of everything. 


Leareth has time to instinctively fling up a tight shield around them, which is the only reason they don't both die in the first five seconds. He would be much better off if he were still wearing his talisman; it would drain fast, the Void is infinitely hungry for magic and swallows everything it touches. 

(Except for one magical structure, built impossibly on nothing, a little folded pocket in the spatial structure of the Void's reality - but that's nowhere 'near' here, for whatever distance means in the Void, and it doesn't help them anyway - it's to shelter souls, not bodies -) 

He was too late to capture any air inside his shield, and his Othersenses are already faltering. A quiet voice in the back of his mind gauges it; he's got at most thirty seconds before he loses consciousness. 

He tries to start forming a Gate - a one-sided Gate, because they're already in the Void-between-Gates - but it's a technically difficult, complicated undertaking. Not one he can do on instinct. The geas blocks him. 

He doesn't panic, though. Panicking wouldn't help, and there's no time for it, not now. 


And this, kids, is why you don't do dubious planar shenanigans while on an unfamiliar plane to start with. Alter Self...isn't going to turn her into something that doesn't need to breathe. 

YOU CAN DO A GATE she thinks at Leareth as loudly as she can. Presumably he'll do it to somewhere where she's thoroughly fucked but dying in Velgarth seems, uh, safer than dying here -


Leareth does not, in fact, have any time to spare for thinking of a good place to Gate. Or even a non-terrible place. Or reason through whether being in the Void means they're effectively 'outside' of Vkandis' barrier and he can go north. 

- he has no time or energy to spare and can't afford to try and fail and also can't afford a destination that takes more than five seconds on the search-component - 

Gate to RIGHT WHERE THEY JUST LEFT, then - the Rope Trick, not the bag of Holding - clearly the pocket dimensions can come into contact with the Void, they're here, and there's only one of them in the world the search can't possibly get confused... 


It doesn't get confused. 

Leareth spends fifteen seconds hanging onto consciousness by his fingernails, every fibre of himself concentrating intently on sending out tendrils of magic - which the Void eats most of - to build a threshold, one strong enough to anchor and pull them back... 


Moondance has just finished climbing the rope. He's frowning at the apparently-empty room, playing his mage-sight over the crumpled cloth bag - 


And then there's a GATE TO NOWHERE, attempting to swallow all the air in the room. 

He spins and - what - that's not even a Gate it's a mouth into the Void - 

Two people appear to be on the other side. 


Moondance has no idea what's happening, but he does have combat reflexes. He reaches out with his hands and his magic, and yanks both of them through. 

The man - probably Leareth, he meets the description - lands sprawled on top of the woman, who...must be the foreign wizard holding him prisoner? 


Rather than try to do any of this properly, Moondance crushes the magic of the one-sided-Gate, it won't be good for Leareth but he's in a hurry. 

The room is suddenly very still and quiet. 


- why would Leareth Gate them back here instead of to his headquarters - doesn't matter - 


She concentrates on dismissing her Rope Trick. They'll all fall out of the air and maybe - actually she has no idea how this ends well but lying here doesn't end well either -


They start to fall. 

Which, fortunately, means that Gifts and magic work normally again with the outside. And he's back in contact with the others. 

Moondance immediately drops into full rapport with Starwind, sharing directly his impression of the last few seconds.




Starwind has fast reflexes, though, and even shocked and startled, he's already flinging together a force-net to break their fall. 

:Melody: he snaps out. 


Oh. Right. She's here for a reason. 

Melody focuses her Gift on the two minds in midair that aren't Moondance. 



That's not even - what is that -

It's very annoying since she had Feather Fall to break their fall and whatever they do is much, much worse. 


A cluster of people swoops in on them, disentangling Carissa and Leareth. They lay Carissa out face-up on the forest floor, which is sort of polite, she can see, and whatever the mind-control is, it appears to let her look around. The man who seems to be charge, tall with waist-length white hair held back from his face with braids, casts a mage-light over their heads, and then squats beside her. 

:Were you alone with him? Where is the rest of your party? When are you expecting reinforcements from Cheliax?: 

He just reads her mind to get the answers. The set-command shouldn't let her talk, anyway. 

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