Guy: Actually I have something to add on that. If Matt, Aidan, Gortick and Ellela were taken for the reasons I think they were, this entire quest could be in danger.
Aren: So what do you say? I'm afraid I need a decision now. The ritual could be due to begin in as much as a few hours... or in mere minutes.
Aidan: *spits out* And what
ritual is this?
Guy: My family is among the descendants of those who helped create this quest. They have indirect, imprecise information on it, and no location specifics, but... they have enough to be a threat.
An integral part of this quest is a certain magic all of us share, have shared since early in this quest. Think of it as a contagious, benign virus implanted in all of us. It appears the items that control this quest are using this magic 'signature' if you will, to determine whether or not a being is... well, part
of the quest. We seem to be passing it along to others based on both extended proximity and whether or not, subconsciously, we trust them. By now, everyone in this room has it except Elaina, and I believe it is slowly transferring itself to her from Tanara as we speak.
Aren: Technically, I'm not supposed to answer you. But as head of my branch, I can break the rules when I feel it's necessary.
The ritual involves draining a particular kind of magic from one body and artificially transfering it into another.
Guy: However new technology has been developed recently that would allow any magic of this kind to be... well... taken from any of us and given to someone else. If we - any
of us - could be rendered helpless...
Raschel: *wide-eyed* Then... if I'm understanding this right... we could have... competition?
Guy: Yes. Think about it. The magic didn't appear till after our first test, when we gained the map - our direction. Look at it this way - the magic essentially gives newcomers a free pass for all the tests that we as a group have passed, whether or not they actually perform them. It gives them the ability to do what we can do, to go where only we could go before.
I don't know if the quest makers knew this possibility would exist by this time or not. It's possible they did, and this is yet another obstacle we have to overcome. Either way, the longer we wait without getting the others back... the bigger the chance is that they will succeed at performing the ritual. It will take some time to perform. We have a chance to stop it... but that chance is growing smaller and smaller.
Aren: This is somewhat unusual in this context and I only have a few pieces of the puzzle. Supposedly, this is magic you've stolen, but I have evidence that says otherwise. If you could tell me more - as head of Acquisitions and Security I---
Aidan: Oh, "Acquisitions and Security", is that right? "Kidnappers and killers", you mean. And don't even try to deny it - even if the people who beat us up and dragged us here weren't YOUR mercernaries, you still kidnapped and tried to kill me
*Aren shakes her head back at him* Aidan Saphrai, you killed several people making your escape from indentured servitude, a body count later including some of our own people---
Aidan: I didn't intend to kill anyone! They were trying to kill me
! So were you people!
Aren: Accidental or not, how were we to know? We were hired to capture a danger to the public, to innocents, and you certainly showed yourself to be a danger. Besides that, you then stole from us. Valuable technology that you still have somewhere, I'm sure. As I said before, how could we not
have chased you?
Aidan: Bull****. Valuable technology - hah, everything the Shadows deal in is illegal or stole---
Aren: Stolen? Unlikely. Illegal? Only under the arbitrary rules of the Blades... who, incidentally, support the slavery you escaped from. I would've thought a free spirit such as yourself would understand how we don't feel bound by the laws of an elitist, power-mad group of beings who have been given
their power rather than earned it through the will of the people. I feel we are in the right.
Aidan: What about Marin then?! She never did anything wrong. Why were you chasing HER if you're so goddamned righteous all of a sudden?
Aren: Your female friend? We had a contract out on her. She was on the run from the authorities---
Aidan: From a bunch of bastards who wanted to kill her!
Aren: Entirely possible, but we never got a chance to hear her side of the story, and all evidence pointed towards her being a great danger and a justifiable contract, especially when she began traveling with you---
Aidan: You. Tried. To. KILL US!
Aren: Come on, Aidan. You don't really believe that, do you? We never harmed either of you. We had many, many chances. We aren't killers. We aren't the bad guys you so want to believe we are.
Aren: *directed mostly to the other three* Well? Will you let me help you? Will you give me a reason to release you?
Aidan: Why do you NEED a reason?!
Aren: I told you. We're under contract. I don't know enough about you, although I do have some information that, if you confirm it, would allow me to release you. Just tell me who you are, what you're doing, and why someone would want to stop you.
Aidan: Whatever you're planning to do, you're doing it without our permission! If you were really as ****ing noble as you pretend you are, you'd never have considered this!
Aren: Oh really? The official story told us about you is that you're a pack of powerful, dangerous murderers who stole magic to do terrible things with. I don't know if I believe this story, but you're certainly powerful, dangerous... and from a certain point of view, murderers. If you won't give me your side of things---
Aidan: It doesn't matter! You have no right! No right!
Aren: No right? Then who
has the right? You certainly don't think the law does, and there isn't any law here anyway. *She looks at the others* I bet your friends' Emperor Palpatine thought the Rebels had no right to do what they did to him... but didn't they?
Aren: Like I said. Give me your story, and I'll free you. No ritual. No further harm done. I just need the truth.
((Phew. That took a while to type up. Hope I didn't miss anything