To an outsider and simple halfing like me, the Erudite party gathered in Splitpaw Lair would have appeared quite cordial and polite - but as I listened in to their heady conversation, I could tell they were barely able to hide their contempt for one another.
"Hogwash!", Honoric exclaimed as he nonchalantly sharpened his acid etched sword, mentally imagining how he would plunge it into the skull of the next gnoll he encountered. "True power can only be attained for the one willing to submit to hate. Only then will you be able to push yourself beyond your feeble limits toward true greatness."
"Ah.. my misguided brother", Holyschmidt responded, while disdainfully casting a light healing touch on the two erudite shadowknights. "Do you not understand, all your intelligence is meaningless without wisdom? Wisdom is what gives us self-control, and ultimately allows us to gain mastery of our powers." He took out a book and continued to pontificate while looking down to read. "Without my wisdom and understanding of the power of life, both of you would still be feigning dead in that dank blood-stained corner over there."
Vrishna sneered contemptuously at both of them, as she cast engulfing darkness on a nearby gnoll, while raising her large sword to strike a powerful blow. "I'm afraid you are the one that does not comprehend, life and death are clearly two sides of the same coin", she said as the gnoll staggered. "And hate might be a powerful ally, but it is not nearly as powerful as fear. It is easy to stand up and fight against hate, but it is only when you cause your enemy to panic that you understand the true nature of the power of Cazic-Thule" she gloated, as the weakened gnoll turned around in a feeble attempt to flee. "Just look at this Iksar shaman that we enlisted to pull for us! Where has "hate" gotten him, except to earn the pure scorn from all those around, forcing him to menial labor like this?". Bodang, the Iksar shaman that was tirelessly running around pulling, pretended not to hear their comments.
Tashala sat by quietly until now, shaking her head at all she was hearing. "What good is fear, or hate? You have all been blinded by faith to your deities, who see you as mere pawns - and one day I shall see them in their Planes of existence, slain at my feet by their own minions. True power is the ability to make others think what you want them to think, see what you want them to see, and do what you want them to do. I control my own will and destiny here in Norrath", she remarked, as she beguiled a gnoll to willingly backstab a fellow gnoll.
I continued baking my pies while hiding inside a nearby barrel, feeling left out of the conversation. Banter among halflings is a lot friendlier and lighter - usually food-related, like which meal of the day is more important, or whether griffon or alligator eggs taste better. But I always try to find the good in others - and there was one good trait I found common to all Erudites - they certainly looked stylish in their attire, whether they were good or evil in nature.
"Pihole, these berry pies are not terrible, in fact I would say they are quite good", Holyschmidt said while still reading his book, while the others nodded in agreement. I was pleasantly surprised that he had addressed me by name, and not just as "halfling". There was something else these Erudites had in common after all. I soon came to discover they all barely had enough strength to carry the weight of their bags of loot, let alone the hearty pies they had just ingested.