The Fox vs The Marquessa
- 1 Summary
- 2 Lines of Enquiry
- 3 Scribe Notes
- 3.1 Chapter One: Of Many Meetings
- 3.2 Chapter Two: Of Many Murders and One Cathedral
- 3.3 Chapter Three: Of Much Ado About Death
- 3.4 Chapter Four: Of Lightning and Raining Frogs
- 3.5 Chapter Five: Of a Rift in Reality
- 3.6 Chapter Six: Of a Swamp and Ancient Elves
- 3.7 Chapter Seven: In Which the Party Duck...
- 3.8 Chapter Eight: Of Order and Chaos
- 3.9 Chapter Nine: A Visit to a University
- 3.10 Chapter Ten: Of Drow and Invisible Daggers
- 3.11 Chapter Eleven: Of Shattered Souls and Sacrifice
- 3.12 Chapter Twelve: Of Proper Resolutions
- 4 Calendar
- 5 Reference
- 6 Consequences
- 7 Logistics
- 8 Buffs & Mil Sci
- 9 Nominations
- Lath - (f) Human Air Jono
- Erzsabet, Lady Hillborne - (f) Human Namer Julia
- Zohar Haima - (m) Human Water, Admiral of the WK Chris
- Ace, the wonder dog - Dean
- Starflower - (f) Elven Mind - Jacqui
- WordSmith - (m) Human/Lizard Namer - Errol
- Cher, Lady Maltheim Cross, Suarime Binder, played by Sean
- Truth, Justice, and Peace
- Bring Marquessa Dulcinea to justice for her crimes against Foxcourt and the people of Bowcourt. Gratuity of ~50,000sp Alchemical services each.
- Bring Richard formerly of Foxcourt to justice for treason and conspiracy in the murder of Duke Frederick of Aquila. 1,000tsg bounty.
- Required skills, actions or mannerisms
Subtlety: This is defined as; delicate or faint and mysterious, cunning, wily, or crafty – aka ingenious, clever, skillful, adroit, cunning, crafty, wily, artful, devious. Also so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyse or describe and making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something delicate.
Discretion: This is being careful and prudent in one's speech or actions, especially in order to keep something confidential or to avoid embarrassment.
Lines of Enquiry
1 - After meeting with our employers separately we agreed to undertake investigations on their behalf.
We then before heading to the WK undertook a side trip towards the Lunar Empire and went to see the fates who gave us an avenue to explore to satisfy our employers to an extent. This however involves correcting some Chaos incursions to the plane by the placement of some items of Law in strategic places. The particular items of Law are to be found in the city of the Ruby Scourge.
While there we also visited Death who advised us that the Ruby Scourge was overdue Deaths invitation to rest awhile with him.
Oh what to do!
2 - We started on the western kingdom politics angle and we uncover some uncomfortable truths but nothing amazing.
Chapter One: Of Many Meetings
We began by meeting with Karli the Namer, and were instructed firmly not to mess things up. Most especially, Carzala should not become part of the Western Kingdom. Then we were to meet with the Marquessa, followed by the Count.
We were led into a sitting room where there was a young human lady, taking tea. She said that the Marquessa would be seeing us soon. Then the Lady herself appeared, a remarkably well-preserved human woman. She explained that Richard of Foxcourt had taken advantage of the current situation to return and to stir up strife in the area, and that she believed that he was about to start a civil war. She told us that she authorised us to carry out the sentences that had previously been handed down on, and gave us a sheaf of legal documents. She expected us to follow all the laws of the Kingdom in so doing. No impropriety must be seen. We obtained permission to further investigate. She was offering cash.
Before going to meet with Richard, we studied the legal documents. Richard was found guilty of being complicit in the murder of the Arch-duke in 804, and sentenced to death or exile. Should he ever set foot in the Western Kingdom he can be executed.
We are then led into a somewhat more masculine room, where a human male was waiting. He offered wine. He then told us that he had been framed for something that he did not do because it was politically expedient; the Marquesa wishing to place one of her nieces in charge in Foxcourt. His troops had been active in defending Foxcourt against the drow; but now the Marquessa’s troops were active in Foxcourt, causing a lot of hatred and strife. He presented us with legal documents accusing the Marquessa. He offered the services of master alchemists, skilled in working with warpstone.
Regarding Michaelmas. The official story was that agents of Rashak entered the cathedral and destroyed all and sundry. Richard was killed, but survived, and that made him vulnerable to accusation. The other survivors were the Marquessa, her son, and two bodyguards. It is likely that the agent who betrayed the location to Rashak was also killed. The church itself should have provided ample protection against attack.
Since it might be relevant, we studied and copied maps of the Western Kingdom, especially of Foxcourt. We established a bind point at Kilroy’s front doorstep, where we would return if banished. We went to Slippery Rock to buy restoratives. We also took time to discuss our various abilities and plan what to do next. We decided to head for Foxcourt to order to investigate the “bandits” via Konigburg (where the Michealmas incident occurred). Captain Zohar persuaded us to first talk to the Fates.
We took the portal to Tycho City, had breakfast, then we flew to a place on the edge of the Lunar Empire where there were many temples including that where the Fates dwelt. There we were greeted by a matronly woman. She did tell us that she wasn’t happy with the path that Karli is taking. After some discussion, we asked where we could find the evidence that will identify who was actually responsible for the deaths at Michealmas. She told us that Rashak was, of course responsible, but neither of our employers was the betrayer. We will need to gather witnesses and present them with an incontrovertible truth. She told us that there was a well in the far east of the Lunar Empire that will led us to incontrovertible truth.
In return she wanted a favour. She wanted a Guild Member who has given their self over to the Courts of Chaos. We needed to restore the balance, by placing Artefacts of Order in appropriate places. Seagate, Novadom and a weak spot in Mittlemark Hapstat. These Artefacts of Order were to be found in the Vaults of the ancient Elven City in Terra Nova. We should take no more than we need.
Death wanted to see us, so we went down to the lake and caught toads to put in our mouths. And then we visited Death. A boat made its way to us, poled by a couple of humanoids. We went with them. There was a cold that felt like it would not be unwelcome, bringing an end to struggle and strife. And there was Death standing before us. He too, had a task for us. In the East there was one who was capturing souls, and needed to be stopped. He was currently mortal, but was trying to change that. His name was Kurzon, a master of necromancy, and should be found east of the glowline, in a small town (Molarisor). The lost souls (from the Michaelmas massacre) were taken into the Great Spire in the Gatar Depression, but are most likely in tatters. In the Elven City, there was one who has been avoiding Death for a long time, known as the Ruby Scourge.
We then returned to the Guild.
Chapter Two: Of Many Murders and One Cathedral
At the Guild, we discussed with Karli what we had learned. Erzabet shared that she thought the King might be a shape-changer wolf, and that one of his cousins most certainly was. Apparently Richard of Foxcourt was also currently a shape-changer, and his alchemists were able to confer shape-changing abilities on people.
There was a knock. It was a Guild librarian returning Patch who had been wandering again. There was also a message. It read: “Truth may be accessed on the Plateau of the Blue Moon, on the Night of the Blue Moon on 26th - 28th Meadow.” Lath then organised the Guild librarians to find out where this place is. When we went to the library, they were working on a massive map of the Lunar Empire. When Lath asked, they pointed out the location of the Plateau of the Blue Moon. I took the time to memorise as much of this map as possible.
We decided to go to Konigburg and see what we can find out, firstly regarding the relationship between Foxcourt and Bowcourt and how the current acrimony came about, and secondly investigating what happened at the Cathedral. Lath cast gaseous form on the party, and we travelled, arriving at a statue in a copse of trees just outside Konigburg. Then we walked into town. People studiously avoided us. Lath organised us a warehouse as a base of operations and a place to stay.
Then we visited the church. It was no longer in use, but there were guards about. Lath, under the guise of writing a book, set about organising access to the place. Captain Zohar decided to try finding a philosopher who might know about the history of the dispute. Meanwhile, I made my way (followed by the Wonder Dog) to the local red light district to see if information might be obtained from those who worked there. Erzabet went to the court.
Discretely, we went back to the church. The building itself was perhaps 50ft by 30ft and had a large hole blown in one wall. The grounds were consecrated, but this effect ended by the church, indicating that it could not be re-consecrated. Detect aura showed nothing detectable within the chapel. It appeared to be a magically dead zone. There was no mana at all in there.
Inside the church we investigated the corner where the Marquessa was said to have escaped on Michealmas. We found that there was a priest’s hole that might possibly accommodate one, maybe two persons, but not the Marquesa and her guards. I attempted divination using stored mana from my powerstone, but found there was literally nothing in there to divinate. I used psychometry on the walls to ask what happened to the protections – the answer was “soul curse”.
We picked up a piece of paper and took it outside. Then it had an aura of formerly living, but there was no answer to the question regarding the last magic to impact. I picked up a piece of rubble with claw marks on it, and tried psychometry on it to determine what manner of creature damaged it, but there was nothing. In fact, it appeared that the object had no history beyond the two minutes since I had taken it from the chapel.
Lath started talking to the groundsmen, scaring them silly, asking them to send the previous gardeners to us who might know more of the past of this place.
We spent the next two days greasing palms and talking to people. I didn’t say much, because it seemed that elves were not popular in this place.
We learned that four Michaeline chapels had been prepared for the meeting. The royal guard had decided at the last minute which would be used. When witnesses were asked what happened they said that there was a flash of darkness from the chapel, and then swirling fog surrounded it. When they returned, it was full of dead bodies.
We found out that the Marquessa and Richard’s father had history when they were younger. Something personal, not necessarily romantic. This fell apart around the time Richard’s father married, and relations have steadily got worse. We checked the other chapels and investigated the nature of the magics that had been applied. Numerous rituals, spells and artifacts had been used, some as expected, others novel. This was done by the Royal Wizardry Squadron, and we arranged a meeting with them. Some of them had died that Michealmas night, who had been in the chapel. They didn’t really tell us much that we didn’t know already.
We decided that it might be a good idea to request an audience with the King. Cher told us that she had been here six years ago, and had actually seen the King turn from a wolf into a man in front of the royal court.
We were told initially that the King would see us on the first of next month, and were told to come back the next day. A man wandered into the room where we were waiting, and introduced himself as “call me Rick”. He knew that his mother had hired us to deal with Richard of Bowcourt. Lath asked for his take on the matter. Officially the rule of law must be followed. Unofficially, Foxcourt troops have been less effective, and taxes down. It would have been better for the Kingdom if this rift hadn’t happened. However, if evidence was found, it might be possible to grant a royal suspension of Richard’s sentence. Of course, the Marquesa would not be happy.
Chapter Three: Of Much Ado About Death
We returned to the Guild, and debated whether we should go to Terranova first, or go to the Plateau of the Blue Moon. It was considered that if we can locate the Elven City we could go there. We looked in the library, but the scribe notes were less than helpful in terms of how to get there. There were partial maps of the coast of Terranova, but they had little information about the interior. This meant that it was debatable how long we would take to find the place, it could be weeks, and therefore we should proceed to the Plateau of the Blue Moon first, since we had to be there at a particular time.
The library did have maps of the far east of the Lunar Empire, and we were able to locate the plateau in question right over the far side of the empire. Going by cloud at 160 mph certainly appeared to be an option. We could use the portal to Tycho, and fly by cloud from there north-east, and go around the northern edge. Erzabet said we should take some strong liquor in case we encountered a certain blind dwarf. But it was decided to go around the southern edge and deal with the aforementioned necromancer first. We were warned not to be too ostentatious with our magic in and around the Lunar Empire.
So we took the portal to Tycho City and arrived at the Guild outpost, a tower just out of town. We were out of fatigue as is usual when using such portals. We went into town and had dinner, then slept at a nice hotel until the predawn. Then we left town and Lath summoned a cloud, and a pair of elementals. We took tea and rested on the cloud, and felt much better. After travelling at twenty thousand feet for fifteen hours, in the predawn darkness along the Poison Coast, we flew into the rising Sun across the hills, avoiding all the nastiness in there, and were approaching the target village by mid-afternoon. We landed. Lath wanted to make a defensible position, but we had forgotten to pack an Earth mage.
Captain Zohar got out a crystal of vision and investigated a homestead on the outskirts of the village. There was a human working in the fields, all very ordinary. Lath cast flying on us, and we landed out of sight of the village, then wandered in on foot. There was a bustle of activity, and a person with a hayfork came out to meet us, speaking Lunar. Lath asked if there was a necromancer troubling the area, but the person said there was not. From his aura, we deduced he was indeed human, under no compulsion, skilled in farming, and no magic had impacted him in the last season. Then we purchased local foodstuffs, and asked about the local town, learning nothing unusual.
So we walked to the town. It was a typical farming town, but there were earthen ramparts around the place, presumably decided to deter raiders. Runners headed into the centre of town as we were sighted. We were met by a pair of burly young men. Lath introduced us as a band of hunters, looking for somewhere to spend the night. The townsfolk seemed to be fairly typical common humans. The first suspicious thing we came upon was a ward of animate dead, triggered by any dead sentient travelling through it, that had been there for some weeks. It would animate any dead bodies that crossed it. Lath told the guide that one of us was injured, so a healer would come. Then she damaged Captain Zohar’s foot.
As we walked on to the Inn, we saw a shrine to some kind of fertility deity. The Innkeeper offered us an attic room where we might sleep. Lath spent some time contriving to get the guide interested in Erzabet. His name was Marcus. We learned that there was a tax man who came every year, but no local lord as such.
Food arrived; fresh layered vegetables, fruits, cooked meats, and such like. There was wine to drink with it, watered but not unsatisfactory. Everyone here seemed a bit nervous around us, which wasn’t that surprising. As evening came, people were avoiding the Inn, which was also not unusual. The herb woman arrived, told Lath to tell him to avoid walking on it, and applied a salve. As we went upstairs, Captain Zohar grabbed her, as Erzabet cast a compulsion on her. Then she asked about the necromancer. She said he was a good man who protects the town; 5’11’ with dark hair, and middle-aged. Normally he would have returned to town from working in the fields where he was supervising the workers; people who had tried to attack their town. His house had a brown door, and there were roses in the front garden. He came from the south about five years ago. She did not know how he might have annoyed Death. Then Lath cast knock-out gas so she forgot what had happened, then woke her up with the counterspell. She left, and we went to talk to the Innkeeper. But he didn’t want to pass on our message to the necromancer that we wanted to see him. Lath decided to use her voice spell so everyone within miles heard her request.
We waited outside, and then about half an hour later, after sunset, a number of people began approaching. They were some kind of variant zombie. They looked much more intact and less “damaged and rotting” than normal. Behind him was a cloaked figure. He called out, asking what he wanted. Lath explained that we wanted to talk with him. The undead seemed quite focused on Lath. Lath explained that we had been speaking to Death, and that Death wasn’t pleased with him. Erzabet pointed out that the problem was that he had bound the souls in them, whereas Death was waiting for them. And Death doesn’t like waiting. Lath offered to take him to see Death as one of the alternatives. The others involving destroying the undead, him, and quite possibly the town. Or just releasing the older zombies. He could not leave his undead troop for more than a few days. Erzabet started playing chess, hoping to communicate with Death. But that didn’t work.
After a while we came to the arrangement that Lath would send her air sprites to work the fields, while he released the older ones among the undead. Then, in the morning, he would go with Lath and Erzabet to visit Death.
In the morning, the necromancer came back, telling us that he had released many souls from the undead. We got on the cloud and travelled around south and west, around to Death’s temple. Cher, Captain Zohar, Wordsmith and I waited by the lake, while Lath and Erzabet went to see Death. When they returned the necromancer got along quite well with Death, in between being terrified; and ended up becoming another of Death’s agents. Then we returned him to the village. Lath made arrangements to place one of her statues here, requesting a suitable plot on which to place it.
Wordsmith as we veered off course: “This is what we know as a granite cloud…”
We took off at noon and an hour or so later we found the Plateau of the Blue Moon, rising 6000ft above sea level. We could see some humans in blue robes making their way up trails to the plateau. There appeared to be trolls on top of the plateau. We landed on the trail above the blue-robed people, and set up a camp. About half an hour later, the people in the robes arrived. They were humans, and worshippers of Truth. Lath spoke very truthfully to them, after offering tea. She told them about the trolls, which were a danger known to them. They were happy for us to go with them. It took four days.
They told us that the incontrovertible truth was one of the truths that might be accessed at the Temple of Truth. The Temple only appeared at the night of the Blue Moon on Plateau of the Blue Moon.
As we approached the top of the trail, a couple of trolls attempted an ambush, but died quite quickly.
We saw a rippling line of light come across the plateau, leaving behind it a blue mist. The pilgrims left us, telling us that to find the Temple we must remain focused on the Truth. Then, they walked into the blue mist. We drank tea to raise our willpower, and then we walked into the mist. As one party member at a time walked in, they vanished and dropped off mind speech. When we went in we could see each other again, and the mind speech came back, but wavered in and out. This appeared to be something like the astral.
I concentrated on visualising the chapel where the Arch-Duke died and seeking the truth about what happened on Michelmas night. We all ended up going in slightly different directions. Erzabet and Lath found something resembling a temple, with a well inside. A bit later, I walked into the same place, followed by the rest of the party, only it looked different to each of us. I saw a chapel with a font in the centre. We felt we should drink the water, and so we did, all of us. We were filled with truth, and knew we could not lie. To seek the incontrovertible truth I realised I must dive in and search for the source. We found ourselves confessing truths about ourselves. But Lath and Erzabet were best at it, or perhaps they had most to confess.
They returned and recast a number of spells. They told us what they had learned. Rashak had chased the souls of the Duke’s Guard and followed them. So, it was in fact the Duke’s Guard who betrayed him, through no fault of their own. And they had all died.
Chapter Four: Of Lightning and Raining Frogs
We were banished back to Kilroy’s residence, and returned to the Guild. After describing my ability to scry for places using maps we went to the Guild Library. There we found rough maps of Terranova made by adventures who had viewed Alusia from high above while they orbited the world in flying ships. We also learned that the Elven City was called Old Kadath, and even found some maps of the place (apparently adventurers had been there, but done a remarkably poor job of describing its location). I dowsed with the outline map of Terranova and found that the pendulum gravitated to a point in the middle of the Northern continent of Terranova, some distance due south of the western coast of the most eastern of the Great Lakes. And then it flicked away as if something was trying to prevent me from locating the place.
We discussed how to get there. It seemed that Lath’s cloud would be helpful. I suggested taking the portal from the Sea of Grass to Pasifika, and flying from there. The librarian explained that the ocean north of Pasifika was known to be dangerous and unpredictable… due to the fact that a great daemon had once been imprisoned there. On the eastern coast of Southern Terranova is the Empire of the Sun. That was inhabited by short elves who lived not much longer than humans. The place where we thought the city might be was once a deadly sea of salt, but has since been flooded. To the north was an area full of sentient wolves who could nullify magic. But then Lath explained that she had a ship which can travel through portals that it creates, arrive at a determined place on another plane, and return to a place on this plane. And it was now here in Seagate. However, there were problems… the navigators on board were not good enough to be able to return safely. So we decided to go via Pasifika after all. We used Lath’s gaseous form to get to a statue in the Sea of Grass, way to the east of the portal. Consequently, I had trouble finding it, so it was almost evening when we got there. But we went through, and found that it was mid-afternoon in Pasifika. Lath made a cloud, and we flew normally for some hundreds of miles. Then, she summoned a hurricane to push us west at something like two hundred and fifty miles an hour… Which made my danger sense go crazy.
Starflower: “You really are a wandering disaster area, Lath, in every literal sense of the word.”
We reached Terra Nova around the time it got dark again. We aimed to go through the gap between the North and South continents, but as we flew over we could see that there was no gap. The continents were joined by a narrow isthmus. Lath calmed the storm as we started up the coast. Sometime later Lath said that she could see a glowing building below. Then, the rest of us saw a light welling up… and we were caught in a flashing column of lightning. There was some damage, but the worst of it was that the magic went away. The cloud vanished and we began to fall. Not for long, as most of the party sprouted wings, or otherwise began to fly. Captain Zohar grabbed Wordsmith and arrested his flight. Now in drake-form, I went to help Cher, who was having difficulty as a variety of objects sprouted from her that had apparently been itemised, and grabbed a two-handed sword in my claws. Then I got below her, so she could land on me.
And then Cher looked up and saw some things approaching. A couple of minutes later and our spell effects came back. I dropped the sword, as it had shrunk to a tiny thing. Cher jumped off my back and dived after it. The approaching creatures were now clearly humanoids, maybe some kind of skinny dwarves, perhaps thirty of them. Lath started blasting them with whirlwind vortex when they came close enough. Bodies started plummeting… And then the last of them were on us. And it was humanoid frogs, and they exploded (actually alchemical bombs which they were carrying blew up). Lath let loose another round of whirlwind vortex, and I blasted them with my breath weapon. By the time they came falling past us none were active. Except the one that woke up and tried to attack Cher. She whacked it, and it went falling. Eventually Lath caught it safely, unconscious and not dead. Captain Zohar collected its bandolier of five alchemical bombs.
We landed on a small island… but there was something there that reacted badly to my ESP. We took off immediately. Lath decided that she didn’t really need to land in order to summon a cloud, after all. Finally, we were safely on a cloud. And then we discovered we (and the cloud) had got infected with mana worms. From that island. Captain Zohar triggered an immolation which helped to get rid of them, but the most effective thing was to flick them off with a non-magical dagger. It took hours before we noticed that they had eaten some of the duration on our spells.
It was midnight, but we continued on, flying through the night on the cloud, some thirty odd miles off the coast. Some of us watched while others slept. And then Lath’s air elementals told her that the water was trying to reach up and attack the cloud. So Lath controlled the weather… But after some discussion and watching, she could see that it was actually an extraordinarily large water monster of some sort.
Around dawn we could see the coast to the east and beyond an impressive mountain range, some of the mountain peaks higher than the cloud, and some looking quite unnatural. And then the air elementals alerted Lath to the arrival of an air-borne monster…
Chapter Five: Of a Rift in Reality
Someone on the cloud: No, the broadside is the one Lath is standing on…
Soon we could make out something flashing in the distance, in the moonlight. Captain Zohar took out a crystal ball, but was unable to focus on whatever it was. He asked who else had a crystal, so I took out one of mine, and was rather more successful. I saw that it was a roiling flying ball of silvery chains, some with blades and spikes. Lath sensed that there was dead spot in the control weather, perhaps two miles away to the east, moving at about thirty miles an hour. She sped up the cloud and we raced away at perhaps sixty miles an hour.
Eventually, Lath turned us in towards land, and it continued to track us. She began building up the storm behind us, as we continued north. The thing headed towards the weather bomb and seemed to eat it up, and actually increased speed, cutting a tunnel through the storm, where Lath’s control diminished.
In an attempt to determine which of us it was attracted to, Lath cast the one thing faster than the cloud, her wind-walk, on Kilroy. He flew off, and came back a bit later, explaining that it been drawing him towards itself and had eaten some of the duration. We concluded that it was might be some kind of mana magnet, attracted to magic of any kind. Lath said there were also two fixed mana magnets on the coast, but we could not see them. In the end, we simply out-ran the thing, and then headed inland.
We were a long way north as dawn approached, and past the major mountain range, though there were still snow-capped mountains to the east. Then Lath said there was some kind of cross-wind taking over her weather control; essentially a stronger weather control than hers. She was using the elementals to maintain some kind of steering on the cloud, and they got us out of there, as Lath’s storm was basically sucked into itself, shrinking down into a vast weather drain. Soon after dawn, heading east, we could see great bands of earth-waves below us in the mountains. What had happened here, we could only speculate. Then, we saw something glinting ahead on the ground below. An unusually shiny lake, with a shiny river flowing out of it… shinier than water ever is. It was shining so brightly that when Captain Zohar looked at it through a crystal, it was hard to look at. The ground around was grey rock, bare of vegetation; although we were not above the tree line. The shiny material could be looked at with resistance to light. I cast a limited precognition spell on myself, Kilroy, and Captain Zohar wind-walking down to the lakeside. I saw myself and Kilroy (the trusty wonder-dog) safely by the lakeside, but Zohar was missing (this was probably a result of some anti-predictive magic he had not advised me of). Erzabet: It’s shiny, Lath. We’re adventurers, and it’s shiny.
So, some of us went ahead and went down. Captain Zohar was first to land, perhaps five hundred feet away, followed by the rest of us. Erzabet found a plant so we look at its aura, but there was no poison affecting it. Kilroy went to look at the lake, but could see no aura. I approached, and cast ESP, but there were no creatures with emotions. Captain Zohar tried to gather some material from the lake using telekinesis and a flask, but it went clunk. The lake was apparently solid. So, we went to have a look at the outflow. Kilroy went closer to investigate. It appeared to be some kind of perfect flawless, light-enhancing crystal. However, we could think of no quick way to extract it, before we had to leave, and return to the cloud, and travelled on east.
About half an hour later, Lath determined that something was eating her weather control again, along the southern edge… and something was slowing the cloud, doing something weirdly fractal to it. Now we were over the mountains; there were trees below us, mostly conifers. Then suddenly, my danger sense went mad… yelling at me. So I yelled at the party. Lath stopped the cloud, and we looked ahead, and saw a gap in reality, a void of nothingness… a part of Alusia which was JUST NOT THERE… Yet, the trees marched on beyond this rift. We backed off from the gap, and then started to slowly parallel the rift, heading north, until we found a point where it ended, narrowing to a fissure, then a crack. We left a marker, rounded the end of the rift and headed on. As we rounded the end, we felt ourselves suddenly, somehow, widen, and then came back together again. More unpleasant. But at least the rift might provide a means of getting rid of the chain thing, which according to the elementals was still following us.
We saw it coming… as we headed south paralleling the rift. We turned east, and used a crystal to watch it as it approached. But the monstrous thing didn’t slow down, or pause. It carried on, unaffected. And the crystal went blank. By this point, we were really worried. And to make things worse we came upon another rift, which was angled such that it would intersect the other rift some two-four hundred miles south. So, we turned north, and paralleled the rift again. Lath summoned a bird from the other side of the rift, which flapped frantically and then fell to the ground dead. But we couldn’t recover it. So we did it again, with Kilroy watching. This time we were able to learn that the rift was actually a vacuum; an airless void.
After rounding the end of the second rift, we headed east… until we found the end of another rift, which appeared to intersect the other two, somewhere hundreds of miles south. But eventually left the rifts behind us, as we came out of the mountains into a broad grassy plain, with plenty of animals and bird life below us. And it was a high mana zone. And then it wasn’t.
We came up with a plan, which was to land and camp, drop the weather control, and put up a scry guard. I tested this plan with limited precognition spells, and it appeared to work. We were still there after eight hours, although it was raining. So that is what we did. We landed the cloud; small animals scattered. We hacked the undergrowth away, and Kilroy made a hide. When I cast ESP I found that the place was literally swarming with wildlife; far beyond anything I’d sensed before.
Chapter Six: Of a Swamp and Ancient Elves
Sometime after sunset, there was a bright flash of light to the south-east, followed sometime later by a loud rumbling that went on for some time. Lath thought this was something to do with her weather control collapsing in on itself. Kilroy set up a rune portal in a chamber safely well underground.
Lath: “Oh, by the way, everybody, I keep all my loot on my kitchen table.”
Erzabet: “We are experienced and capable adventurers who are not waylaid by shiny things.”
Then we divinated the party. Everyone who had gone into the well was affected by truth magic – and the waters we took with us are potions of truth. We also learned that we had come close to some massive and ancient artefacts, whose magic was now degrading and not working as it should. There was no detectable locate magic on any of us. But we were all somewhat more fertile; as an effect of the area where we were. And finally we rested, until dawn. Then I did another precognition spell, based on the plan that we would continue as before, flying on the cloud with a large weather control, and air elementals. Looking six hour into the future, I saw most of the party standing on a rocky outcrop in the middle of a swamp. So, Lath went and sat on the door-step and did her rituals. It was mid-morning before we left.
As we flew on for the next two hours, we could the plain become more lush, more verdant, becoming wetlands and, finally swamp. Lath reported that her weather control was butting up against something. So, we stopped. We could see swamp as far as the eye could see, with the occasional stony protrusion, one only thirty feet from us. We spiralled down, and sent Kilroy to check out the landing zone. He came back quickly, and explained that something had gone wrong with a summoning spell, and he had summoned an angry spirit. There was another outcrop a few hundred yards away, but Lath decided to look for a larger outcrop. About twenty miles away, there was a rise in the land that formed an island in the swamp which bridged the edge of the area that Lath had sensed was not in her weather control. There was a lot of animal life below us – and I felt a sense of safety about half-way across the island. We decided to land. There was a magical aura on the other part of the island, which involved some kind of protection. Wordsmith performed a divination upon it. It was a forty thousand year-old rank two hundred ritual of protection. Elves would have no difficulty crossing to the protected area. Summonables, extra-planar beings, and such like would have big problems.
Then Lath and Kilroy saw something akin to a crocodile in the swamp. A very big spirit crocodile… So I began to lead the party across the island and through the barrier. I felt almost nothing, but the others had to resist the magic. Cher and Lath got stuck behind an invisible barrier. I tried hauling Cher across, but she slipped out of my grasp. Lath then cast a wind-walk spell, and she and Cher took to the air. The crocodile thing came up onto the land, and promptly changed into a bear spirit. Cher and Lath went to another nearby outcrop that bridged the barrier. I flew to them, took Lath’s hand, and successfully drew her through the barrier. Cher petrified herself, but that did not help.
Wordsmith: The person that can cast unbreakable on a rope is the one that is petrified…
Neither Lath nor Cher seemed keen on crossing the barrier. But I was able to lead Lath through. Which left us with the problem that was Cher. In the end, Kilroy animated the petrified Cher, and walked her across. Then Erzabet performed the True Form ritual to get her back.
And we flew on over the swamp. Which was teeming with life. We soon discovered there was a five hundred foot ceiling beyond which we could not fly, because the winds went away. After some hours, the endless green became interspersed with ruins, mostly sunken into the swamp. It was a mess… and not just because of age. The demonic emperors Ahriman and Istu had fought here. Then we saw reptilian figures flying towards us, with humanoids on their backs. Drakes, and probably elves on their backs. So we went into a holding pattern and waited for them to approach.
As we came closer we saw that there were six drakes with two armoured elves on each. We decided to begin by attempting negotiation, but that proved… difficult. Their leader and I conversed, but with little useful result. They were plainly elves from long ago, for whom humans were nothing but slaves. When I referred to party as my friends, and stated that I would not go anywhere without them, he seemed quite sure that I was under some kind of magical coercion, and shot me with an arrow of sorts which seemed intended to dissipate control spells. After a while we gave up and departed. And found a place to land. And argued some more.
We eventually came to the conclusion that we might attempt to sneak in, using what amounts to a submarine created by Kilroy, composed of bound air inside bound water, moving with the Captain’s mage current. And then I had a better idea. Lath had the ability to turn the party into conveniently small creatures that I could carry while I teleport. I could teleport up above the city, scry-guarded and invisible, carrying the entire party; then turn into drake-form and glide down.
Lath: All we need to do is drain the swamp…
Chapter Seven: In Which the Party Duck...
Kilroy: So…. We’re planning on being a party of ducks following a drake….
And then the party decided that they would rather be bats… Because bats can sense things around them. The choice were ducks, bats, or seagulls. Seagulls, however, do not live thousands of miles from the coast, and also poop on everything, so were considered not a good choice. However, it was finally concluded that the duck thing was just more… amusing.
We spent two days practicing. Kilroy loaned me a resurrection item.
Starflower: You can be a small goat… a kid…
We decided that the Captain, Kilroy, and I would scout. The Captain would borrow Cher’s weightlessness item, and Kilroy would become a snake. When we were ready, I teleported us up a mile and almost ten miles towards the city, then eleven miles further in, and we found ourselves to be above the centre of the city, floating slowly down on featherfall from a mile out.
We saw an immense round castle, perhaps a mile across, below us in the centre of the city. The architecture is not the ancient elven we expected, but seemed to have been raised more recently. Walls appeared to be made of sheer black stone with lots of spikes and skull motifs. There were seven fifty-foot towers, surrounding a bailey where there is a garden. Inside the outer wall were fields and orchards. There were humanoids, drakes, animals to be seen below. Beyond the walls extended the swamp, with the occasional rocky outcrop. Having concluded that the safest place to land would most likely be inside the outer wall in one of the orchards, we teleported back. Of course, I missed, and we ended up hundreds of feet short. Must rank that navigator skill.
Having gathered up the rest of the party, and taken tea, I teleported the party of ducks (plus one elf and a hawk) all above the city. We drifted down, and were grateful to the magic that prevented us from triggering wards as we got down to about hundred feet. They were all nasty and all triggered by sentient entities not bound to some individual. Work had gone into making these gardens. The ground was barren, scarred and burned in some places. There were patches that looked like they might be part of the old city. The black wall was formerly living… mixed, but mostly human – it was hellstone, a demonic material akin to bound earth, but tougher (and nastier).
There were outbuildings, but not many people around. Security seemed lax, as if they weren’t expecting anyone. As we approached the inner wall, which was made of the same stuff as the outer wall, we saw the shape of a gate engraved into the wall. There was a building which didn’t fit; that stood out because of its ancient architecture. It looked like large wagons had been going in and out of this building. So, we investigated. Lath said there was a big tunnel under us, and there were people down there. We looked at the tracks and there were dragon-claw marks among the wheel-ruts and the horse prints. So, we slipped inside. What we found was a huge excavation, an archaeological dig, the outer workings of which dated back ten years or so. We stealthed onward. It was evident that they were still working here. There were places where there was beautiful stonework, and others where the walls were shored up with wood.
A couple of levels down, we could heard the sounds of hammering ahead. There was a massive metal wall, with a round door that had been literally torn out of its place and tossed aside. Then there was another of the same. At this point we found tunnels branching, with walls made of more normally bound earth. There were more sounds of working ahead, and people yelling at each other in Drow. We could see clear evidence of looting, with items of lesser apparent value, ancient works of art stacked in various places. Lath said that ahead of us was a big room with half a dozen people sitting around. Kilroy sneaked ahead in dog form. He found half a dozen mages sitting around apparently trying to divine the way past a big wall covered with runes to the best of the treasures. There were others down the other passages sorting lesser treasures, and continuing to excavate.
Kilroy said that the rune wall was vast and complicated, with lots of potential portals or gateways, which involved moving the puzzle-pieces in the right way, to get to the right place. We thought it likely that what we were looking for was beyond the wall, but decide to spend some time looking through the rest of the place. We first looked for and found a room that was not in use, and was out of the way. There were items of interest even here… some fine magical armour, a staff with runes of order that was burnt on one end, but no actual “stones of order”. This staff had powers to destroy chaos, including the ability to strike creatures of chaos down.
Time passed, and after about seven hours, all of the workers had left. Meanwhile we had learned that the only way in or out of this place was to walk. Transportation magic would not work.
Some of the runes were runes of order, others of chaos, still others of death, of life, of fire, air, earth, water, and so on. When we divined the wall, we learned that it could create portals that led to various sub-planes (and even into the Elven Ways), when the runes were arranged in the right way, and the proper command words spoken. Order was one of the major protections on these doors. We studied the notes that the Drow had made, and learned that they were trying to understand the whole thing, and had been working on it for at least five years, since they broke into this place. After five hours or so, Kilroy figured out that the Order layer was giving them trouble. We worked together to analyse it, and eventually a portal opened, a ten-foot wide door that led into a brightly-lit room. I remained outside with Cher and Captain Zohar, while Kilroy, Lath, Wordsmith and Erzabet entered. They said that it appeared somewhat larger on the inside. There were six sconces with six stones within. These stones were intricate knots of cold iron, which were artefacts of order. Lath consulted her memory and said we needed to take four. This would inevitably weaken the wall.
Kilroy picked one up, he found that he became unable to cast magic, and that it weighed a hundred pounds. Lath took two, Wordsmith took one, and Kilroy took one.
Lath wanted to write a message using the wall, to read… “Don’t be afraid of Death. My embrace is welcoming.” But it seemed unwise to mess with the wall, so Ersabet wrote a haiku to this effect using Kilroy’s writing tool, on the wall of the vault in Erelhein.
We considered using the wall to open a portal to the plane of elemental air, and escaping that way. But we guessed it would take hours to determine the proper combination. So, we decided to get out quickly to where we could be banished. But, when we got outside, my danger sense went off…. And then we saw IT, emerging from the gates we had seen engraved on the inner wall of the castle – a truly enormous dragon. Burdened as we were, we knew that we could not fight it. So, Lath and Kilroy handed off the dead weights, and set about casting, rapidly…
And, within moments, we were back at Kilroy’s house.
Chapter Eight: Of Order and Chaos
And we argued. Lath wanted to kill Richard and present the body to the Marquesa…. But neither of them would be happy. We could alternatively get both of them into one place, and tell them the truth. Preferably a place that is in the Western Kingdom, but not of the Western Kingdom; such as inside a Cathedral, since that is a place of sanctuary. What we had was two doses of essence of truth that affect a 50ft volume, more intense towards the middle. It will reveal a truth, instantly, the nature of which would be influenced by the intent of the user. We came to no clear conclusion as to what course to take, so returned to the other problem. Exactly where and how to place these stones…
Zohar: But we don’t have enough stones for that…
We went to see Mistress Jessica at Slippery Rock. She said there were astrology readings that indicate that there might be an intrusion of the Courts of Chaos at the Guild. But the reading was a bit dubious; it should have failed, but then they got a result. So, after arguing some more we went back to the Guild. We decided to fly back to the Guild, Lath insisting on using her flight spell. Those who were carrying the order stones had some difficulty, the stones interfering and causing the magic to waver.
At the gate, we tried to get the guards to fetch the duty namer, but seeing we were obviously nervous, they ran off. We went inside and looked for Karli, but there was a sign on her door, saying: “Karli is away at the moment, and has deputised Erzabet to speak in her place”. Those carrying the stones soon realised that they were getting heavier. Was it the weight of magic?
Kilroy: I’m struggling with a gender issue here... Aren’t you supposed to want to move the furniture?
Three of the stones were left under guard by the gate, while Kilroy went hunting for the spot. Eventually they found a cherry tree near the Fire College – and a whirling vortex nearby that those who could see into proximate dimensions could see. With some considerable difficulty, they lifted the stone and thrust it into place, whereupon the whirling stopped.
We left one stone under guard at the Guild, and were told that the party’s auras had gone. Then we flew south to Novadom and Blackshore. First Blackshore, which was a small coastal village, where we landed on the beach. After arguing with the guards, Kilroy went hunting for the proper spot and found it in a shady mushroom patch in a well-tended herb garden. So we went to Novadom.
Erzabet: You can’t be wanting one of these (order stones) just for ironing…
We landed outside the town, and headed in, across one of the bridges. It was a busy and colourful place. The stone didn’t get noticeably heavier as we travelled from west to east, but it did seem heavier as we headed north, outside the city and into a valley. Suddenly we were ambushed by black flying things. I was struck down, falling unconscious from a single blow. And then Erzabet whacked me and I was healed… These were chaos creatures, some kind of lesser horror. Nasty. It got nasty too, as three of them jumped on Zohar… I cast TK rage while the others fought them off. Kilroy somehow managed to swallow one whole – and then his secondary arm turned into some kind of weird four-dimensional tentacles, his primary arm started oozing a substance of indescribable colour. The ground near him warped. But then he made all, but one of the ones around him go away. One got into close with me, and I had to resort to a dagger. Lath grabbed the order stone and struck one hard. It exploded, all over her, but she was still standing. Wordsmith and I were covered in chaos gunk. I had to control myself, the temptation to master it as I had once done before was so strong. Then Zohar vanished. Then Erzabet ripped fatigue from the whole party (except Kilroy) to heal Lath. Another one formed behind her. Lath tried to squish the one that was attacking me. Kilroy seemed to have become a chaos creature. After futilely trying to escape the chaos thing attacking me, in frustration I began to initiate my shape change. Lath flew around the combat and whacked chaos Kilroy. Another chaos critter went away. Wordsmith dropped, but Cher gave him a potion. I transformed, and the creature was gone… because it was within me.
Chapter Nine: A Visit to a University
But I was still Starflower. Though there were tentacles along my spines, and I felt I could use them to cast, and that there was ample mana to do so. Zohar had vanished. Kilroy created a portal and left, returning a bit later with Zohar. I found I was able to control and tidy up the tentacles along the spines, so that they were less obvious, and still cast healing. Then I transformed back to elf-form.
We resumed taking the order stone to where it felt heaviest. Erzabet cast compel spells on those of the party she felt were most likely to be controlled by chaos. We came over the brow of a hill and saw a fire – which was no normal fire, but a gate to chaos. The stone was becoming heavier and heavier as the party pushed it towards the portal. Kilroy decided to create a ram to help push the order stone into the gate, and turned himself into an elephant. We pushed and pushed and finally it locked into place. There was an enormous explosion of power. I tried control it, but my powerstone was not an adequate vessel, and the backlash hurt. Wordsmith dropped, but Erzabet healed him. Kilroy did something complicated, channelling the power with runes. It ending up taking a week. I was concerned that this delay would make it much hard to place the remaining stone. We camped. Lath went back to the Guild.
After that week was over, we all returned to the Guild.
Lath: Erzabet is causing you (Kilroy) to have premature dripping…
Empathy showed that Kilroy’s weirdly tentacular arms were part of him, and yet not part of him.
We waited four days for the scry guard to wear off so that we could perform an ancient divination on Kilroy. Predictably he had become part chaos-creature, in particular the arms were chaos-infused. They could be exorcised by order. So it was attempted by Zohar at Kilroy’s request. There was an explosion. Erzabet healed them. And they tried again. And there was another explosion. Kilroy arms were both mangled. Erzabet healed him. By this point the chaos was driven out of him.
Starflower: NO! One, you’ll probably kill me; and two, you’ll probably kill me.
Divination showed that I had indeed absorbed that chaos creature. I would be unwise to visit creatures of order, such as the Fates. Cher also had absorbed some chaos, but a much smaller amount.
And finally we got to take the last order stone to MMHS. Erzabet suggested the University and indeed we found became gradually heavier as we approached. More and more so as we approached the High Magic Research Building. An official tried to stop us. So Erzabet compelled him. We continued. Lath started telling people to evacuate the building. Alarms started sounding. Eventually we came to a door that was locked and barred on the other side. Cher made a transparent window, revealing two terrified apprentices… Then Cher cast open and the door unlocked, as Erzabet compelled them. We carried out past two more sets of doors. Finally we came to a door made of cold iron, set in walls of bound earth, and barred on the outside. The apprentices said this was the High Power Energy Area. The door resisted Cher’s attempts to make it transparent. But the apprentices opened it for us.
Inside there were runes on the floor, containing order and chaos. Inside were two portals. The plugged the chaos portal with the order stone. Lath and Erzabet starting taking names. We went to the Chancellor’s Office, but he wasn’t there. We found his personal exit, and followed his trail down a secret passage which led to a beer cellar under a classy student pub full of people talking about the ruckus at the university. Lath cast sleep gas to make them (almost) all fall unconscious. And we walked through the sleeping bodies and carried on following Kilroy’s nose. But we lost the trail. I used the finding spell and located the “heroic leader of the university” at the university gates with a whole lot of guards and mages. So, instead we went to find Erzabet’s friend, Professor Franks. We found his home, but he wasn’t home. So, we waited in his parlour. He was late. Didn’t get home until around eight in the evening.
Starflower: After breaking their university, we are now being subtle.
We settled down to talk with the professor. He informed us that by now they would have set the demon-dogs on our trail. We explained about the chaos portal and how dangerous it was. He said there would have to be some kind of hearing.
Chapter Ten: Of Drow and Invisible Daggers
We wrote a letter of explanation… Then we heard the howling. Kilroy systemically banished us back to his house in Slippery Rock. We then headed out, towards MMHS and found a grassy knoll where we waited. And argued. And cast some limited precognition spells. It rained. We discussed where we should wait for these creatures. Zumular was suggested. As was Ormond. And Sanctuary. I suggested that we pick somewhere relatively uninhabited, because collateral damage would be unnecessary and just embarrassing. Lath summoned a cloud, and we headed back towards MMHS. We chose a militarily defensible and apparently deserted spot some distance south. Kilroy erected magical defences, and the party got buffed. Erzabet and Lath wrote a letter of apology in eloquent common (it would have been better in Elvish, I was certain). Lath then cast windwalk and delivered it – to someone in the palace. Then we slept the night.
And argued some more, discussing what to do next. Erzabet explained a complicated plan involving collecting up the fragments of the Duke’s soul, putting them back together, then taking him to see King Ulric.
Then, for no apparent reason, and without warning, Lath choose to release an Ice Devil, and told Kilroy to kill it. He attacked it powerfully, but failed to destroy it immediately. Lath attacked it, and hit it a grievous blow that didn’t actually appear to do that much. The devil grew larger, and froze the ground around it, bringing down frozen doom on those in the vicinity, then lashed out at those nearby, striking Kilroy, Zohar and Lath’s elementals. Then they hit back. The ground froze some more. And then abruptly, it went away, leaving a solidly frozen patch of ground. Erzabet had banished it.
Afterwards, Lath explained that she had done this in order to empty a soul jar crystal so it could accommodate the late Duke’s soul. It would have helped if she had shared this earlier.
And then, the party argued some more. In the end we decided to go to Argon’s Watch and collect the remnants of the Duke’s soul. Lath took us to the Sea of Grass and then we flew. Argon’s Watch was in the Qatar depression, a place known to be dangerous; there were said to be have been Drow there for many years. It had also been inhabited by Rashak, and it was she who had taken the remnants of the Duke’s soul there. We considered negotiation, but limited precognition on that was inconclusive; so we went for the sneak option instead. More buffing ensued. We flew in, invisible and indetectable, and landed on the top of the tower in formation. We saw concealed entrances. There were a lot of lost spirits here according to those who could see them. The first door was made transparent, only it was more translucent, and we could see stairs beyond. The tower had protection magic, with soul jar woven into it. The door had a magical alarm that would trigger when opened. Eventually Kilroy found out that an E&E counterspell would supress the ward on a second door. I tried to teleport through the door, but as I began felt something trying to draw me in and down… which I was able to overcome and stay where I was. So, Lath, Kilroy and Zohar unlocked the door, and we went inside, onto a broad staircase. Cautiously we went down, into the rather disturbing architecture of the tower. About half way down we started coming across people… drow people. We passed libraries and living quarters, study rooms, alchemy labs, and even an armoury. We kept our hands off.
Suddenly, I stepped left… something was wrong. Then, somebody or something that we could not see, struck Erzabet from behind. Then, it hit me. I struck back with Severer, but there was nothing to hit. Kilroy told us it was a weapon like a dagger, but not entirely here, in a proximate dimension. The dagger moved up, rotated, and flew in my direction. It hit something, became visible, and dropped to the ground. I got hit again. Erzabet healed me. Lath cast knock-out gas. Then, Zohar was hit. Hard. By a blow intended for me. But he successfully hit back. Seconds later we felt someone die. Kilroy turned into a wolf, and found a body, wrapped in some kind of cloth, that made it indetectable. Clever. We stripped it. Lath spoke to its spirit, and learned that it would help us find what we were looking for if we resurrected it. Erzabet detected an inactive poison in herself.
Chapter Eleven: Of Shattered Souls and Sacrifice
We carried on. Eventually we came to a large room with black walls, with soulstuff woven through it. The only other exit was a heavily-engraved door guarded by two drow guards. Kilroy sneaked under the door using gaseous form, and established that there was a staircase on the side leading down. One of the guards spoke to the other, obviously having noticed something. So, it was decided that to sneak past we’d all use gaseous form, and go through the gap at the top of the door. First Lath cast on Cher. Then, at the insistence of Lath and Erzabet, I used Lath’s book to turn into a duck, and went over the top. As I did so, one guard spoke to the other, saying there was something odd (in Drow), and tapped something on his arm, presumably to raise the alert.
Kilroy had found a magical aura on the wall to the right of the stairs, with activation magic under concealment, under the usual magic of the place. Kilroy stepped onto one stair, and the stairs vanished beneath him, and he was being sucked down. Still in the form of a duck, I was nearly sucked in too, but changed back into an elf in time, and hung on. As Kilroy changed into a mouse and then a swarm of mice, Cher grabbed for him, and was caught in the vacuum too. But Cher could fly. And Kilroy’s mice went for the wall. Below was something that looked remarkably like a darksphere. The top was starting to close by the time they got back, re-moulding itself. We carried on down looking for a place to hole up. I was using Cher’s weightless sphere, while Cher and Kilroy both flew. Eventually we could see a glow below us, and heard a roaring sound like wind or water. Then, the stairway opened into balcony around a vast pit, swirling with spirits, a veritable well of souls, which stretched at least two hundred feet up, and two hundred feet down. There were unmoving figures spaced around the balcony, which looked like statues, but were not. We retreated to the first landing, and hung around the ceiling. Meanwhile, the rest of the party hid. Drow arrived and inspected the area, on high alert, along with some war golems. They had concluded that something weird was going on. Some of them settled down to do rituals. Then, Wordsmith alerted me that the mindspeech had gone off on the rest of the party. Lath wanted to kill all the drow. Erzabet wanted to wait for them to go away. But when the rituals were finished, they had some discussion and one of them wandered off. A bit later there was a clomping sound, and an enormous golem came in. Some drow came, some left, there was some spell-casting. Eventually they were down to one enormous golem and four guards. Then the drow filled the area with noxious vapours. After the vapours went away, they searched the place for invisible bodies. Hours went by. I had to recast the mindspeech to get in touch with Wordsmith (the only one who had accepted one of my silver headbands). We eventually slept. After a couple of days, the drow finally gave up and marched out the enormous golem – from its aura, Wordsmith learned that it was a sentient entity, part drow, part war golem with the ability to detect souls. A couple of hours later they marched it out.
Then we heard sounds from down below. One of the statues came walking up. We went for the ceiling, and hid. It walked past, and walked around the landing, then back down the stairs.
Another day passed. A week went by. Eventually, the big golem went away and didn’t come back. Two days later, there were only two guards again.
Finally, the rest of the party used gaseous form to get through the door one by door, and were not noticed. They made their way down and joined us. We all went down to where we could see the well. One could feel a gentle tug on one’s soul within standing even that close.
Erzabet took tea and whatever else we had to increase her willpower and stepped forward using her empathy and her aura detection to find the right soul, and call the pieces together. His soul was broken, but she was able to knit it back together. And then place it within Lath’s soul-jar crystal. She was tempted sorely to do far more, to release the souls so they could go to Death. Kilroy was worried and stepped in afterwards to grab her. Lath went after him… But Kilroy and Zohar pulled them out.
Erzabet wanted to destroy the well with her sword Woundhealer. Kilroy attempted a precognition on this and saw spreading destruction. Or was it just a clouded vision? And we still had a job to do. The party voted and decided that Erzabet should be permitted to this, while the rest of us were protected inside bubbles of force. She went into the well… intending to drive the sword Woundhealer into its centre. Encased in our force bubbles, we saw nothing, for a long moment. Then all the floating lights were sucked into the middle. There was a strange kind of non-physical explosion. We all felt somewhat diminished, worn inside. But there was an enormous sense of death, and of release, thousands of souls moving on at once. Argon’s Watch was… damaged. The walls were cracked. It was unstable. We flew down, looking for Erzabet’s body. And found it, broken under a heap of rubble. Kilroy said that there were no spirits around. So we got banished back to Kilroy’s place.
Starflower in drake-form to Wordsmith: You can ride me, if you like.
Chapter Twelve: Of Proper Resolutions
Next day we went to visit Death. Which took a day. Or at least Lath and Kilroy went to Death’s Island, taking Erzabet’s body with them. But when they got there, Erzabet was standing there, next to Death, in conversation. Death asked if she was sure she wanted to go back. Erzabet asked Death if he knew that his message had been delivered to the dragon in Terra Nova. Death said that this was a good thing, but it would have been better had it been delivered in person. Erzabet then asked if there was a way to make a soul appear at a pageant to a group of people. Death said that there were several ways achievable by a Namer such as Erzabet. After they finished talking, Erzabet climbed back into her body – which was been badly broken, and was knitting itself back together, as if a master healer was working on her. It took a while, and was still progressing when they returned from the island.
So we had another long discussion, debating just how to get the Duke (currently in the soul-jar at the Guild) to talk to the Fox, the Marquesa, and their entourages. We decided to talk to the Necromancer about it. After waiting for Erzabet to be healed. Which took a day. Then Lath summoned a cloud and we went to the Necromancer. Which took another day. The Necromancer was readily convinced to come with us for a suitable reward. He explained that he could take the soul and bind it into an empty body, or an object. Perhaps a painting.
We left a device so we could return quickly, and went back to the Guild. With the aid of Necromancers and Rune mages, we were able to talk to the Duke, who proved to be, if not rat-bitingly mad, pretty close to it. I could probably cure this. But I could not target him in his present state, I needed him to be in a body. We did have a spare body, that of the drow whom we could not resurrect. So, Lath tied the body up, and gagged it, then Erzabet raised the Duke into the body. Then I cured his insanity, and Erzabet healed up the body. Erzabet explained that we had a job for him to do, and then he could be released to whatever he wanted.
So we took him to Lath’s island to recuperate for a week. Which helped, but he was still far from fully functional. We talked to him some more. And then we decided to talk to the King, discretely making our way into the Court. We had a meeting with the King that evening. Erzabet explained that we had the incontrovertible truth regarding the Duke, and the betrayal; that it was all the work of Rashak. He was pleased to her that (although he added that the Marquesa probably wouldn’t be pleased). The discussion continued. Kilroy explained that we had found the Duke’s soul, and restored him somewhat. He said we should discuss that with the Archbishop.
The King agreed to draft a summons to the court for Richard of Foxcourt with a stay of execution for a re-trial. Promptly. The morning after tomorrow. After Lath collected the writ, we returned to Seagate to collect proper clothing.
Starflower: We may be assassins, but we’re not murderers!
We went to find Richard, hiding in caves near the border. We found him in an office. Wine and cheese was brought. Then Erzabet set about explaining to Richard what we’d done. After the explanations, Richard decided that it would be worth it, just to see the expression on the Marquesa’s face. With his agreement to be there, we went back to the Guild.
Kilroy to Lath: Your way is quickest and best.
In the morning, we went back to Konigberg, after sending Zohar and Kilroy ahead, and went into the court by the discrete entrance, making our way to the council chamber. Where we waited until we were called. We escorted Richard into the room, and Lath poured out the incontrovertible truth onto the floor. And everyone there understood exactly what happened that night. Richard apparently died. The Marquesa had gathered her guards around her and used a recall device. The important thing was that it became known that Rashak had done the deed, simply following where there was the greatest concentration of guards. And after the mist receded, the whole council agreed that Richard was not guilty, even the Marquesa. And the Lord High Chancellor pronounced Richard not guilty, and that his domains should be returned to him.
After, Richard sought us out and asked us for transport over of there. Which we provided. Since justice was done, he agreed to pay us and negotiated other conditions. And we went to see his alchemists for our reward. Who are experts in warpstone, using it to aid shapechangers, or help people become shapechangers. The change becomes part of their true form.
Then we went to see the Archbishop regarding the Duke’s soul. Or at least Erzabet, Kilroy, Wordsmith and Zohar did. Erzabet explained what had happened, how the Duke’s soul had been incarcerated in Argon’s Watch, and that she had rescued it, and that we wanted to see that the right thing done, so the Duke would go to the right place. The soul was returned to the soul jar, and then released in the proper religious ritual.
And that, was that.
|Summer: Meadow (1) 817wk|
|Beltane Full Moon||1||Guild Meeting||2||3||4||5||6|
|Summer: Heat (2) 817wk|
|12||13||14||Midsummer Eve (Faerie Day)||15||Solstice||16||17||18|
|Summer: Breeze (3) 817wk|
|3||Day of Death||4||5||6||7||8||9|
Places & Locations
Buffs & Mil Sci
|Magic (caster)||Rank||Caster||Effects||Dur||Erzabet||Captain Zohar||Lath||Kilroy||Starflower||WordSmith||Cher||Bert (Air Elemental Left)||Eernie (Air Elemental Right)|
|Flying (Air Mage)||20||Lath||Wind picks you up. First time takes 1 min, after takes D +2 pulses to arrive.||10.5 hours||Y||Y||Y||N||NA||NA|
|Barrier of Wind||21||Lath||Def of 42% in close, melee or ranged.||11 hours||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Vapour Breathing||16||Lath||Can breath.||8.5 hours||Y||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Feather Falling||9||Lath||Wont fall to your death.||5 hours||Y||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Resist Heat & Cold||20||Lath||6 effects better on the weather table and 6 less damage from heat or cold.||21 hours||Y||Y||N||Y||Y|
|Enchant Armour||23||Zo||+48% Def, +1AP and +23 spell armour||12 hours||Y||Y|
|Water Proofing||10||Zo||as it says||33 Hours|
|Mind Shield||8||SF||as stated||27 hours|
|Mind Speech||12||SF||as stated; planar range via headband||6 1/2 hours|
|Walk Unseen||6||Ki||As it says||7 hrs|
|Water Breathing||6||Ki||As it says||7 hrs|
|Smite||20||Ki||First strike has additional resist or d+21, stunned and prone||21 hrs||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Rune Armour||20||Ki||+25 Def, +5 AP, 2xSG||10.5 hrs||Y||Y||Y||N|
|Magic (caster)||Rk||Caster||Effects||Dur||Erzabet||Captain Zohar||Lath||Kilroy||Starflower||WordSmith||Cher||Bert (Air Elemental Left)||Eernie (Air Elemental Right)|
|Fast as the Wind||16||Lath||7 to TMR up to 16 total TMR||44 mins||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Enhancing Enchantment||14||Lath||+14 ranks on either range, rank or damage.||16 pulses||Y||Y||Y||N||NA||NA|
|E&E Gen||10||Erszabet||+X to MR vrs E&E Charms||~11 hours||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|E&E Spe||~11||Erszabet||+X to MR vrs E&E Charms||~12 hours||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Celestial Gen||~10||Erszabet||~10 hours||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Celestial Spe||~11||Erszabet||~12 hours||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Weap of Flames||17||WS||+18 SC , +9 Damage, +17dam Undead etc||22 mins||2||1||NA||NA|
|Counters on entities||9||WS||+29 MR vs entire Branch||14 mins||NA||NA|
|Counters on areas||9||WS||+57 MR vs college||14 mins||Y||NA||NA|
|Tome of Tales||Erzsabet||+1 step vs fear or awe checks (1 times wp goes to 2 times wp)||24 hours||Y||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|knights folly||Erszabet||+1 rank milsci||24 hours||Y||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|hair braiding||Erszabet||+50 vs charm, demon charm, bardic voice. 25 DR from behind, enh dur one spell, +3 ag, +25 seduction||until sunrise||Y||Y||Y||Y||:(||NA||NA|
|Rose tea||Erszabet||7 stat points to one primary stat||Y||Y||Y||NA||NA|
|Silent Death bringers Tea||Cher||+45% Stealth, -5 of percentile die, and +5Ft (over personal and racial max)||Y||NA||NA|