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Huh, so their prices weren't too far off after all. She wants to smile, but knows she shouldn't. She makes a show of whispering to Elias in Abyssal again for a few rounds, and then comes back.

"We accept. Do you have an idea of what sorts of spells would be useful in this specific situation? You are the quest-giver, after all. If not, we will use our judgment as to what sort of spells we ought to prepare."


Well of course he costs more money than the fighter, he can cast divine spells. Not many, but it's not zero. He glares at the man's eyes for a split second and averts his gaze.

"It is almost time for us to pray. I believe the Marrans have to pray too. I assume the mission takes place this night?"


The man flinches. "... Yes... So... 2500gp total, to be delivered to you at the beginning of the mission? And 25gp for the church of Marra. Is meeting here at sunset convenient? Uh, yes, tonight.

Will you state in the Zone of Truth that you intend to complete the mission to the best of your abilities?

Something intimidating might be good for scaring off would-be attackers."


At the beginning? That is...odd. Yes, they have the Zone of Truth, but words are just words. Does he not understand that most antipaladins are Chaotic Evil? Elias would have expected the man to only want to give out the money after the mission, or perhaps do half-up-front-half-after.

"You are very generous, giving us the money up front. Yes, dusk works for us. Who will be casting the Zone of Truth? Yes, I will state so."

"Intimidation, hm. Would you prefer us to try to resolve battles without deaths, or is your cargo the sort of thing such that it's best not to have anyone be around to speak of it?" Elias smiles, but there is no mirth in the smile.


"...We'll be supervising you the entire dur- uh. You would do well to remember our generosity and trust.

Our priority is avoiding attention. If you can scare people off while seeming more ordinary than a disappearance, that would be best. Otherwise, well..."


"Our wizard will cast the Zone of Truth." She looks around again. There is a small nervous crowd in front of the magic tent. A pair of people are whispering vehemently. "Alieta!"


"I declare our conversation this morning, including all four of us, to be covered by the Zone of Truth to be cast by our wizard this morning."


Alieta springs out of the magic tent brandishing a wand. (Doing the Zone of Truth in public means more witnesses, and it's good advertising.) "One minute to go! I'll center the Zone of Truth around myself."





Zone of Truth.

She points at each person in turn. "Have you lied in the conversations declared to be covered by this casting?"




        "I have not!"

            "No. Satisfied now, bitch?"

  "... I don't think I have."


"I have not lied. I also affirm to complete the mission to the best of my ability."


Felicia repeats the same words.

She's planning on preparing her full set of combat spells. She's not good at intimidation, unlike Elias. Nor does she have good fear-inducing spells. Conrad is the one that has the Fear subdomain.

She moves closer to Alieta.

"Alieta, since you'll be joining us, it would probably be best to decide collectively what spells to prepare so that we can work together. Since you cast Zone of Truth, I assume you've already prepared all your spells? Or have you only prepared that one?"


"I prepared my spells, but I can change them if needed.

... Uh let's step inside the magic tent, it's more private.

My cantrips are Detect Magic, Read Magic, Light, and Ray of Frost. If both of you can see in the dark, maybe I don't need Light? I could change it to Message...

My first circle spells are Expeditious Retreat, two of Mage Armor, and two of Magic Missile.

My second circle spells are Resist Energy, Detect Thoughts, Pilfering Hand, and I don't have any super combat-focused spells in transmutation, my specialty school, so I have Eagle's Splendor there, maybe it will help getting someone to leave us alone.

My third circle spells are Dispel Magic, Communal Resist Energy, and again in transmutation I don't have anything great, so I have Fly.

I can cast one spell spontaneously with my bonded dagger, which also has Spell Storing with Cure Light Wounds loaded. Yes, that means I need to cut someone to heal them.

I also have two scrolls of Infernal Healing and one of Merciful Fireball, Merciful because I'm expecting to fight people, not monsters.

Oh and with my transmutation school I can punch people at a distance 6 times.

I have two questions for you: what exactly are our obligations to protect each other, and who's in charge? I think Tos should be since he's done stuff like this before."


"I think Message would be better, yes. I'll prepare it too, so that we can communicate even if we somehow get separated." She holds herself back from chuckling at her Infernal Healing dagger. It's very amusing.

"I'll prepare the following spells. Do you know the cleric spell list? I'm going to assume yes, since you're a wizard."

0: Guidance, Purify Food and Drink, Message, Stabilize
1: Cure Light Wounds x2, Burning Disarm, Cause Fear, (Entangle)
2: Silent Still Charm Person, Communal Protection from Law, Communal Protection from Good, (Touch of Idiocy)
3: Dispel Magic, Prayer, (Suggestion)

"I'm not preparing many Cure spells since I have a wand of Cure Light Wounds with at least two dozen charges remaining.

Would you rather I prepare something else? Unlike you, I can't swap out my spells once I have them. Clerics don't have many direct damage spells – not many good ones compared to wizards." She had been hoping Alieta would have had better combat spells, but it doesn't seem like she has many. It's understandable, but saddening. She'll have to pick up the slack with her negative energy channeling.

"We've gone on missions before, but I admit that we haven't done any escort missions. Most of our missions involve killing demons or exploring Sarkorian ruins. I would be willing to tentatively defer to Tos, provided Elias doesn't see anything wrong with it. I will treat the two of you as though you were allies, except in the cases where I have to choose between saving ourselves and you. Otherwise, I will not be stingy with healing and buffing – at least, not any more so than I would be with someone of the church.

I'm skilled in negative energy channeling, and can choose to exclude allies from its effect. So long as we're not facing against undead, it should be very useful against people who might try to attack us. My connection to Damian's Plant domain also means I can cause a patch of thorns to grow in a location to impede movement or inflict minor damage."


"Okay, I'll switch Light to Message.

Are you expecting that we'll be stranded? Purify Food and Drink doesn't seem useful to me...

It's very important that if I die, my body is returned to the Marran church. It's somewhat important for Tos, too... he's not worth raising and he was still Neutral Evil a few weeks ago, but, well, Lawfully participating in high-stakes contracts is supposed to be good for his soul. Do you have a preferred way to specify that obligation?"


"We have a habit of casting that spell on anything we eat, even if its provenance is known. It's for safety. And I can cast it on any food you might want to eat too. I don't know what spell would be useful for us. But I think we can forgo it in this case – I'll prepare Guidance instead.

So, how much of the body has to be eaten for it to count? Does it need to be the whole body save the bones? In the case where we're unable to recover your body – either because we need to flee in a hurry or because your body is rendered unfit for raising – could we simply chop off a finger and give it to your church? Would that be sufficient to fulfill the requirement?"


"A finger is not enough. A whole body with one missing finger is enough; that has happened. The exact requirements are unknown, probably because Asmodeus liked it that way and Marra agreed since it doesn't actually cost us much.

Actually, I suppose that for me in particular, a finger is enough for a Resurrection.

I meant, like, how is our arrangement going to be enforced? For us, we have standard punishments for failing in our duties, both as ordered and our duties towards Marra, and we have superiors who know us well and can thoroughly interrogate us in a way that avoids bad incentives, like, if we were only punished for deliberate betrayal then we would develop tendencies of thought that lead to accidental misbehavior, and of course our superiors try to stop that kind of thinking but it's hard to completely stop, but on the other hand if we punished all failure that would lead to fear and withdrawal, so our superiors have to know how we think...uh, anyway, how do you set up your incentives? What does it mean to you to treat us as allies?"


Really? Alieta's worth enough for a Resurrection? Is she the daughter of the head priest? She smiles a little, but manages not to make a surprised face at that.

"Ah. See, that's kind of not a problem with us, because anyone who either betrays us or who deliberately misbehaves is simply kicked out of the church. We spend time thinking about positive incentives, but not so much negative incentives. Rather than a sliding scale, we operate on an all-or-nothing principle. We expect that simply talking to someone sternly will be enough to correct them, because if that weren't the case, then they would be unfit for the church and would be expelled. 

Treating you like allies means...caring about your welfare. Not wanting to see you harmed. Taking your preferences into account. Being truthful and forthright with you, and...trusting you. Well, perhaps not the last part – we aren't truly allies. We are allies only incidentally. But I will be able to apply the rest to you. You may interpret it as though I were...subject to a permanent Charm Person by you." Perhaps that's a better comparison for a Lawful Evil person to understand. Charm Person makes you treat the caster as though they were an old friend of yours.

"I cannot make it exactly clear what 'ally' means in this context, because how an ally should act depends on what sort of situation you find yourself in. Yes, that position is probably terribly disconcerting to you, but we do not operate Lawfully. That doesn't mean that we'll break our word, though – our gods are very much against betraying your allies." She makes a humming noise. "Perhaps that's sufficient to establish a negative incentive for us. If we affirm your are our allies, albeit temporarily, and betray you or deliberately act against your interests, then we will suffer disfavor with our deities."


"Huh, okay, I see the benefit of your way of filtering who you accept!

As long as you're committed to pretending to be under a Charm Person no matter how you actually feel about me and Tos, I guess that will do." Sigh.

"I might be able to do the same?

How much do you value your life? Are you worth raising by the standards of your church? Is there anything else you value more than fulfilling the task we're hired for?"


Pretending to be friends with someone is not actually heretical!

She's only seen Charm Person used in training, so she's not clear on how much it compels assistance in a fight...


"Er, I do value my life very much, but I'm not sure that's something I could give a monetary amount for, you know. I'm not...I'm not a cleric of Abadar. Yes, I would be worth revivifying via Raise Dead, but I wouldn't be worth a Resurrection." Mostly because their church has no one capable of it.

"It's difficult for us to be raised, because our soul contracts make it difficult for non-Damianites or non-Conradians from raising us. The soul contract binds us to our gods and lets them direct Their outsiders to fetch us from the River of Souls, but it also means that those who worship other gods cannot easily bring us back, sometimes, not at all. We have to do all of our revivifications in-house – we cannot take out an insurance policy from Abadar's church.

Well, I value serving Damian more than I do completing the task, though I very much don't anticipate there'd be anything that would cause me to break away from the mission for His sake."

The sun rises a little more, and from the angle that she's standing, she can feel its glare in her vision.

"It's almost time for me to pray now. Is my spell list good for you? Elias usually prepares the same two spells every day, but if there's something you want from him specifically, you should tell him. Do you know what spells antipaladins can cast?"


"I usually prepare Barbed Chains and one other spell I feel like would be appropriate. I might just prepare two of them today, honestly."


"Okay, that sounds good...

I don't know much about antipaladins, but if that spell is as violent as its name sounds, okay! Ooh, Who were you a paladin of?"


"Yes, it can trip and slash enemies. Very versatile spell. I love it. And yes, I'd be fine with Tos leading. He seems like a savvy person."

He blinks at her a few times.

"Huh? What do you mean? Oh. I get what you're asking. No, I was an antipaladin of Conrad through and through. I was never a paladin. The High Priest of Damian used to be a paladin of Iomedae, though. And yes, their High Priest is an antipaladin, not a cleric. He's the one that wields the intelligent spiked chain enchanted personally by Damian, so he holds that title."


"Aw, I was hoping you had fallen from Someone who really sucks like Erastil or Ghenshau...I didn't know you could go straight to being an antipaladin!

Does the Damianite High Priest have to be some kind of divine caster?"


He laughs.

"What's so wrong with Erastil?

Well, yes. Otherwise they couldn't be a priest, now could they? The same is true for the Conradians. We do permit arcane casters to hold positions of significance in the church, though only as advisors. They do not have the power of final decision. Arcane casters are beloved by both of Them, given that They used to be wizards."

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