Hours pass in Aethuainn Nyanis’s study; a liveried duergar slave brings fungal wine and mushroom delicacies to tide you over, but you’re otherwise left alone to while away the time. Packed with sculptures, scrolls, books, bottles, phials, strange devices, oddments, and shelves crammed with a mad assortment of miscellany, the study holds plenty to occupy a curious mind. [If there’s anything you’d like to do or study in particular, please make a forum topic!]
Cases of military regalia, maps, and mementos from various campaigns crowd the walls: Nyanis was well-decorated in his time. His worn face hinted at great age, but the history in the cases nonetheless startles: a framed commendation cites the young drow’s “fierce cunning” in a battle at the ruins of Phaerxlit dating nearly 900 years ago, a pyrrhic victory after which the Matriarchs considered Phaerxlit (now the Beholder city of Boolthul) well and truly lost. A quick survey reveals, somewhat surprisingly for a wizard, that Nyanis was a career officer for almost two hundred years before retiring with distinction to serve his House.
Nyanis’s eventual return is as understated as was his departure. His eyes narrow slightly as he studies you for a moment, but his face remains placid and his voice quiet.
“Matron Orsinia spoke with the Council. For one newly raised to the role, she acquitted herself…serviceably.” Nyanis’s tone offers neither approval nor criticism. “The Matriarchs appeared to accept her elevation at its surface value, though they questioned her heavily. Orsinia can expect no future quarter.”
Nyanis produces a flask from a voluminous sleeve and sips sparingly. “The revelation of a captive Handmaiden alarmed them, as one might expect. The Matriarchs dispatched a cabal of priestesses to the compound to investigate.” He inhales slightly and sighs. “Please forgive me for leaving you alone for so long. There were matters at the compound requiring my attention.” He pauses for a half a beat before continuing. “I wished to ensure the site was secured for visitors.” His face radiates a sincerity as warm and comforting as Darkfire. “It would not do at all, for example, for them to have accidentally stumbled upon an unsecured supply of ritual components…or these.” He clears a pile of scrolls from the corner of a table and sets a plain rothé-leather valise on it. Glass clinks together softly within. [200gp worth of ritual components, three vials of Deathjump Spider venom, and a ritual book containing Arcane Mark, Brew Potion, and Fastidiousness.]
He sighs again, more deeply this time. “The Matriarchs have declared a formal inquest into the matter. You will be required to testify before them momentarily. I trust the past few hours have been…restful.” He considers each of you for a moment. “The Matriarchs will ply you with questions; they will ask the same questions many times in different ways. As you can guess, they seek to entrap you and gain advantage. The best protection against their venomous webs is to speak no lie, and to answer only the question put to you.”
His gaze lingers on Krizzt for a moment. “Should you face the choice, do not seek to preserve any save yourselves and each other. Any nobility you display will serve only to weaken you. Best to preserve such impulses for those who best know their worth.” His gaze unfocuses momentarily before retraining on all of you.
“An attitude of healthy fear may shield you somewhat. The Matriarchs are used to dealing with males less self-possessed than you, and may interpret your competence as defiance.” The corners of his eyes crease faintly as he regards Kelthrae. “Your instincts no doubt are solid.
“Your escort arrives in minutes. Until then, I will answer what questions I can. Niknevin’s commands died with her, and I may now be more forthcoming. If it interests you, I can shed some light as to her orders and the old compound’s past decade.” He waits expectantly. [Please post any questions to the forum.]
Eventually, a soft knock at the study door draws Nyanis’s attention: a slave arrives with word that a detachment of the Matriarchal Guard waits without to escort you to the temple. He signals his assent, then turns to you.
“We will speak more when you return. May shadows keep you.”