The War on Horror

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Summary

Adventure: The war on Horror
GM: Michael Parkinson
Session: Summer 807 WK
Night: Thursday, 7pm
Location: Andrew and Rosemary's
Level: High

Party

Those that were on Ares in Spring 805 (see Never Say Neverre) are returning (with a friend) to visit.

Employer
NOT Col. Santiago, Destinian Minister of Internal Affairs
Mission
to interfere with the [in]stability of an off-world empire that trades with an unspecified Southern Nation. The non-employer has deniably come across information that throws a sinister shadow over the near future of said empire.
Pay
Salvage.
Possible ex gratis payments (up to 210,000sp) if salvage inadequate.
Reasonable expenses (no more than 1.5m sp without referring back), funded as part of the Destinian "War on Horror".

Scribe Notes

Overview

1st Meadow (Duesday)
Acquire final items before Guild Meeting, set off to Guido city.
2nd - 6th Meadow
travel on Princess Blade to Bretannia, including slight detour involving Ebola.
7th Meadow
go through Guido/Ares portal (bridge) in Bretannia at midnight
arrive Quorn late afternoon Ares Day 0.
exchange info with halflings till the wee hours.
Ares Day 1
depart Quorn at dawn for Michaeline post, have lunch and learn of "native Human" civilisation 3000 miles SSE of Quorn.
leave for Ares Humans ("The Nation") early afternoon.
Ares Days 2-4
travel SE
see Drow Cloud. Approach Drow City cautiously overnight.
Ares Day 5
Observe and scry Drow city
Divinate, DA and observe Drow Cloud, driving off illusionary animals.
Ares Day 6
Final observations of Drow City,
leave for Empire Capital at dawn.
Ares Day 7 - 8
travel NNW
Ares Day 9
Arrive mid-afternoon, see Bretlond Ambassador and Nation Ambassador (heavily illusioned Drow).
Have dinner, kill Nation Ambassador, subdue her bodyguards, prepare our story.
Set sail with both ambassadors to see the Governor's "hunting party".
Ares Day 10
Arrive at camp early morning. Present evidence, diviniate, return with assault force.
Attack honour guard pre-midnight. Spend night cleaning up and recovering.
Ares Day 11 - 13
Go to Quorn to get some halflings
Head W to look for dwarves
Ares Day 14 - 15
Rescue Dwarven Prince, continue W
Ares Day 16
Arrive at Dwarven City
Council Hearing at midnight
Ares Day 17
Planning and preparing Princess Bride for catapult
Ares Day 18
Flung to E&E monolith, Fedelia casts on us.
Ares Day 19-22
Hunt Drow Titan-metal vessel, defeat same
Ares Day 23 - 27
Moons fall on dwarves and Humans, limited damage due to warning
Debrief with Dwarves and hobbits, Drow city found abandoned
Ares day 28
go through Guido/Ares portal (bridge) to Bretannia at midnight
6th - 11th Heat
travel on Princess Blade to Seagate

Getting There

After loading Princess Blade with granite the day before the Guild Meeting (so Loxi has enough 'earth' to cast), we are breifed by have a chat with Col. Santiago in a back room. She(?) tells us that Destiny has magical advice that issues on Ares are a threat to Destiny. As the only known link to Ares is the bridge at Guido City, this suggests that various other counties are in the path of the threat. Fortunately, the Destinan policy of seeking out threats to life where-ever they are (the War on Horror, or WoH) means that funds are available to guarantee payment (if we do not recover enough salvage), and cover generous expenses while investigating a 'unique necromancer' and 'peerless, atrocious vampires'.
We have enough spare time while getting to Guido City to accommodate Aryan's request to swing past Ebola, as well as provide some ship familiarisation training to Aryan, and refresh our memory about Ares. Kit flies ahead to make arrangements at Guido City (Col. Santiago provided an Air Mage to speed our journey), and we pass though the portal/bridge at midnight on the 7th, disguised as various animals on a giant carrot.

Quorn

We arrive in the late afternoon on the expected dusty plain. Quorn is busier than the last time we were here, with many warehouses, and hobbits (tall halflings) running everything. We notice various tricks that enable the hobbits to conduct some unofficial trade. Mayor Speedwell greets us, and we have a meal with her once the rush from the portal is over.

Info on Undead

  • There are more than there used to be
  • they are behaving differently
  • they have alt-elemental magics as talents
  • DA as fungus (aura level is animates)

Info on Empire

The colony is falling apart. The military is feeding on itself in an orgy of backstabbing and self-promotion. The governor is turning people into zombies and hunting them. He is cutting many corners to maximise his profit before he is sent home in disgrace. His "long-term" planning horizon is weeks, not decades. A few of the middle-class are making lots of money too, and this is creting social unrest, including riots in teh lower quarters. Many of the senior merchants and officials have been arrested for currption, but the governor is sooo corrupt that they have got to be whistle-blowers or competition.

The mines have been centralised since last we were here, after someone used a TK rage grenado and thus summoned the natives, who wiped out the mining town.

The Halflings have been planning evacuation / military maneouvres / other extreme action, for when the colony tumbles down.


Info on Dwarves

Dwarves used to be here. See Ryo's Bracelet and our SPLAT analysis for some details.

Info on Gnomes

We are introduced to Ryo, a gnome found many years ago, and adopted into the mayor's clan. She has a complex bracelet that appears to have come from Purple (location of Amelia's Moon-breaker exploits in 796 WK). After various DA's etc we learn:

  • GTN Gnome, although an full Div shows 'True Gnome'
  • she has an afflicition of being bald
  • has no college, but has a talent of not being noticed (hide in plain sight?), such that the sneaky spy/rangers hobbits can't find her. Looking away and then back, one tends to miss her.
  • has been life-prolonged, also had a Illusion cast on her 6 weeks ago
  • her unusual attributes/abilities that appear ordinary in her aura are hidden by the same unusual abilities, rather than any mundane methods such as illusionary aura. She may be a construct or avatar representing the spirit of gnomishness, or similar.

We decide to avoid the capital for now, and get more info from the Michaelines.

Michaeline Base

We leave at dawn for the Michaeline base on an island several hundred miles to the west (declining a hobbit guide). As we approach (flying the Count of Ebola's pennant), we are met by a pilot riding an ostrich. We follow the precise instructions to approach and land. We are greeted by ch. de Senlac, who has called for the commander, Lord Alonzu. While Isil Eth, Aryan and Loxi inspect the guard (wearing gild-edged heavy leather and armed with gilded war clubs), the rest of the party go inside the walled compound and talk with de Senlac. Sir Kit carefully does not tell him that the Urielites have heard rumours about increased undead activity, and we are investigating.

Undead News

  • The Michaelines have not been directly affected by recent issues with the undead; the areas they patrol have normal (or less) levels of activities.
  • There are rumours that the Governor has been creating undead.
  • An unofficial contact (who has since disappeared) said that there are undead in the catacombs near and under the Capital.
  • There has been a purge on corruption, affecting tradesmen, the military, and those responsible for the catacombs. The catacombs are now under military control.

Limestone details

  • If dead are buried in enough limestone, the fungus doesn't get them.
  • Limestone is mined near cities, when a seam is uneconomic it is converted to catacombs and sealed.
  • Is either used as building blocks (much of the cites are built from it), or pounded to dust and mixed with imported soil as a growing medium.
  • potential (likely?) abuses are cutting the powdered mix with local dust (those expecting to leave soon cut corners?), and removing limestone from sealed areas.

Local Humans

  • There is a civilisation of Ares Humans (here before colonisation!!) to the SE of Quorn (over the big canyon).
  • They have an ambassador at the Capital, "one of their princesses".
  • They have a military unit outside the Capital ensuring the ambassador's safety.
  • The Bretland ambassador has been spending much time with the princess. Letch.
  • We believe these Ares Humans are non-human.

While the others lunch, Kit and WordSmith investigate the cathedral. It is built tall (some 170' high), and with a more impressive main dome than is possible on Alusia, out of imported (for the foundations and lower walls) and local stone. The short building time was due to large amounts of labour imported from Bretland, 1000 masons and 2000 semi-skilled workers. The stone roof is cleverly made so that dust can not accumulate. There are generic non-Michaeline areas, and much work is underway on the painting of murals.

We decide to visit the Ares Humans, so we can gather info not available to other political players.

Drow City

Around 700 miles SE of the Michaeline Base is a Drow city, on land some 3-4 miles higher than the Michaeline Base. It is 600 yards tall, and 900 yards wide. We guess by its shape and location that at its centre is the monolith the hobbits have not being returning from. It is guarded by vampires/giant bats at night, and harpies at day - these appear to be using natural and magical flying. There are thousands of drow and hundreds of vampires. Overhead, between 4 and 7 miles up, is a thick spiral of cloud that blocks the sunlight (connected to the centre of the city by a column). It is 80 miles in radius early on the 4rd, and by the 5th, it is 100+ miles in radius. Various reasons make us believe the denizens are Purple Drow.

Using Motley's mirror to show us the history of the last week, we see what looks like an abortive attempt to use Fog to start a cloud around 5 days ago (about when we arrived on Ares), and the current cloud forming from 3 nights ago. We also saw some kind of long-range defence system fire once 4 days ago. Kit confirms that he can change to and from mist form, and that the Music of the Spheres is no worse for him.

We decide to sail to within an mile (at a couple of miles above the city) and then send Isil Eth and WordSmith in to divinate the Cloud (specifically the column of cloud-stuff between the city and Cloud). As we approach we set off what appears to be a giant Illusionary Bolt ward, as a huge bolt flies towards us. The bolt is moving slowly enough for us to dodge easily, but we note that it reaches around 4 1/2 miles from the City, and several harpies investigate the area around the ward (we had gained height and changed angle to the city in the meantime).

Isil Eth carries WordSmith to the column while the ship circles about a mile away. Towards the end of the Divination ritual, Isil Eth sees another Illusionary Bolt aimed up the column, and pulls WordSmith out of the way. Given the apparent recharge time, WordSmith thinks he can finish an Ancient Div before the next shot (takes one hour, due to his Jade Egg), while Isil Eth watches for harpies. Motley notices a large animal climbing the column (that only he can see), so the ship flies in to provide cover, Motley firing many light arrows from long range for no detectable effect. He stops firing as the ship closes, as the flight of the arrows will indicate the ship's position (and it's existence). Various (brave/foolish) plans are made to jump or teleport on to the elephant-sized beast (climbing at 10 TMR), until Aryan realises that it is probably an "illusionist phantasm-spectral-nightmare thingie", and Kit leaps overboard to counter-spell it.

Aryan: A perfectly good mid-air fight with the biggest ever nightmare, 
       spoiled by me opening my mouth!

Another climbing creature is similarly dispatched, as is an eagle (we assume they decide eyes are more important than muscle), all before they get within the important 400 yards of the ship. A vulture is sent after Motley, which Kit gets with a guided illusionary rock. WordSmith's Ancient Div finishes, and we all leave on the ship.

Astral and Ethereal

Isil Eth, Wordsmith, and Kit travel to the Astral, where they see the land seems normal (pre- or post-bending of the elements), healthy, covered in trees and plants. Ghost-like figures move about the land but do not seem aware of nor react to the party. They have an aura strength of "hollow living sentient" and GTN of elf. DA's return that thhey have no time element. We guess that they might be an Astral embodiment of possibilities. Isil Eth takes Loxi to the Astral where she confirms she can cast earth magics normally, but the spells cast on herself and Isil Eth are not in effect when they return from the Astral.

Kit, Aryan, and WordSmith visit the Ethereal and report it to be its normally misty confusion, except that Kit cannot summon an Ethereal Elemental.

Overnight we observe a giant illusion patrolling on the ground outside the city, as well as a ~30' vampire (Mind Avatar spell?). rather than trying to sneak into a alerted city, we decide to visit the Empire Capital in order to organize appropriate allies. We use Crystals of Vision to get more info.

Drow Cloud

Formed by boosted Illusion of Mist spells (Rank 20, MA 28, WP 38, Troubadour Rank 11) of permanent duration. At current rates, the cloud will reach Quorn in around 600 days. Our activity (specifically counterspelling some of the mist) increases the rate of casting significantly (normally more casters at night, some awakened in reaction to us?). We estimate we would have to stop the casting for 10.5 hours to break the link between the ground and the cloud above.

Kit's Paranoia: the Mist caster has +1 Rank, MA, Troubadour, and +3 WP over the party Illusionist. If the caster's WP was 36, I'd being spinning conspiracy mirror/revenge scenarios. As it is, I'm just slightly out-classed. I thought that Purple Drow only went to Rank 5 skils, Rank 10 spells?

SE Monolith

This boosts (at least) illusionary magic. For magic to be boosted, it must come less than a few feet away. Magic is at rank 20, with linear limits (e.g. range) multiplied by 201, and volumetric limits (e.g. Mist produced) multipled by 201 cubed (8 million). Illusions produced will have a Magic Resistance of at least 30%.

Music of the Spheres

While under the cloud, we are affected by a magic akin to the Music of the Spheres (from Purple). This variant seems to make people varying from a height of 5-5½', of weight of 70-100 lb suffer in proportion to their difference. Aryan, as the tallest and heaviest, is quite badly affected, but our healer Amelia had some "magic rocks" that she inserted in Aryan's head until he felt better. Isil Eth was also uncomfortable, and Amelia, WordSmith, and Motley the Hobbit were a little on edge. Loxi felt great, and was effectively hyper-alert, with such razor-sharp intellect and intuition that she understood most of what Kit was saying, and was almost tied up. Kit, who was immune due to a previous encounter in Purple, figured out how to tune the music to different heights/weights by playing counter-point melodies with a special Harp. This affected an area at least as big as the ship, and less than 30 miles.

Empire Provincial Capital

We take 3 days to arrive at the Capital (we deactivate the Orange about a day away). Standards have obviously dropped, as they can't organize a Legate to escort Isil Eth (the Virgin) and party to the Bretlond Embassy. We note the addition of many imported birds (especially parrots) since we were last in the city. The helpful majordomo whom we remembered from our last visit takes us through to see the Ambassador.

Count Don Jirraldo greets Isil Eth enthusiastically. Polite news is exchanged. In the course of conversation we are told that various 'disappearances' have occurred, and are normally attributed to Panza Peconia (head of the secret police) {query - is Peconia the Gov's man, or an opposing force?} and the Governor's Personal Guard . Those complainers too powerful to disappear are cowed by the threat of corruption investigations. We soon realise that generous gifts are recommended all round.

Don Jirraldo appears basically healthy, but exhausted and lacks concentration (has similar symptoms to kirf use). Last magic to impact was Synesthesia, which could explain some of his odd responses.

An Evening with Carmen

After several minutes, a surly human guard enters, preceding his mistress, Princess Carmen.

She is elegantly dressed in a translucent dress with trousers, and 'floats' into the room. Besides her beauty (which seems to improve as conversation continues), we are drawn to the large ruby on her forehead. She speaks in the language of the Empire Humans, and always appears sincere in what she says. A particulary searching question about how long her people have been here gets a convincing 'For-ever' in reply, but we are suspicous enough to detect a subtle flash from her ruby. She acknowledges that the Ares fey exist, but forcefully changes the subject when questioned further. She claims to not be one of the twelve tribes (our non-specific reference to Purple Drow). She describes the landscape between here and the southwest in a misleading way.
Assuming she is a drow under an illusion which hides her true aura, we ask oblique questions and discover her soul is as old as an elderly elf, and she is an agent of another entity or power.
She ends the audience, and we are shown to our quarters within the Embassy.

We learn from the staff that Carmen sent a messenger, presumably to her troops. Motley, Aryan and Kit waylay him outside the walls (it is now dark), remove the message and his valuables from him, and leave him drunk in a tavern. The message (simply coded in Purple Drow) is 'COME D'. We decide against tampering with it, and hide {destroy?} it.
Chatting with, and divinating, the majordomo shows that the long-standing semi-regular (approx monthly) visits from a Michaeline Namer changed from providing Mind Counterspells to involving Charm (SK Illusion) after Carmen arrived in the Embassy. He is a little surprised that the Ambassador has not yet joined Carmen this evening, and understanding when we tell him he has been charmed. We suggest that perhaps the staff would like to partake of the gifts we brought in the cellars this evening.

Our pre-emptive strike is largely successful, killing Carmen and an assassin she had infiltrated onto the Ambassador's staff, and capturing her two guards. WordSmith is noticeably damaged by the assassin's poisoned and acidic daggers, and we now need to explain what they saw to the household.

The drow "Princess" and bodyguards are stripped of their gear and the bodyguards are tied up. DA's give us a rough idea of the items we're dealing with.

Going against guild standards we somehow agree that the best plan is to tell the truth, or most of it anyway. We call for the Majordomo (Lord A'lan) and tell him most of the truth seeking his advice on how best to deal with local politics. Following his advice we gather up most of the (Bretonnian) ambassador's staff, Carmen (Isileth in disguise) compels her bodyguards to walk with her, we carry Isil Eth (Carmen's and the maid/assassin's corpses) in a litter, and all take an evening walk down to the Princess Blade. Besides the prisoners (and bodies), only a Signal Coronet (very junior officer) from the Bretonnians, and the two maids (who were supplied to the Embassy by the Empire) board with us. A note is sent from the (Bretonnian) ambassador's staff to the (Nation) ambassador's guard camped outside the city stating that the ambassador is departing on an urgent mission to see the Governor and will be back soon.

Stripping the illusions from Gerry we discover that he is some form of shapechanger bear who has been in bear form for a long time and came here through a portal from Purple about fourteen weeks ago. The "heavy-duty" disguising illusions were applied to him two weeks afterwards. While these illusions act like rituals in most ways, they can be removed by a simple counterspell. Soon after dawn we observe the Nation camp via crystal, and see around 500 foot troops, camped but alert. A vampire-bat is spotted flying high above the city. As we fly WordSmith divinates (occasionally interrupted by his own grumbling ) Gerry and some of their items.

The party (except Aryan) unanimously (another first) agrees that Aryan is not to have the Gem of Truth.

Hunting Camp

Arriving at the Governors hunting camp (military camp with 2,000 troops), we tell him lots of the truth, he claims some of the loot for his people to study, Aryan claims it back to help us infiltrate where they came from. The Governor decides to cut his hunting short, and take half his army (and several tonnes of local limestone) back on his troop transports to drop in on Carmen's honour guard. Isil Eth reads references to a "Plan B", which the Governor's officers consider will be more likely after a successful attack on the Drow city. The officers think they can involve the Church knights in the attack. They expect to lose some Aeir-ships in the assault. We discreetly emphasise the apparent strength of the Drow City.

We discuss what to do next:

  1. Investigate/assault the Drow City
  2. Try to track down the portal from Purple
  3. Try to track down the enemy of the Drow that they are primarily after (probably Dwarves)

It is decided to try to find the Dwarves with a stopover at the capitol on the way to help deal to the honour guard.

En-route several of the Governor's troops are mirrored by Motley and dressed by Kit.

Honour Guard

The assault is begun with traditional gift giving (several tonnes of rock from altitude), followed up by some sloppy landing (sorry we ran over your front line), and then a ground assault by the troops.

Aryan, Kit, and Isil Eth lead a Cent of the Governor's troops in the assault. Aryan shining at the front and charging every vampire he can find, Kit protecting the troops from the frequent TK Rages and other magics, Isil Eth patching up the holes and weakening the Vampires so that Aryan can take them out. The rest of the party observe from overhead, watching for messengers trying to get back to the Drow city.

Well, that was the plan, until... The invisible-flying-giant-clawed-vampire is too much temptation for us, as the troops are dropping rocks, we accidentally cruise near the circling vampire. Despite our best efforts to look like prime bait, the vampire (120' wingspan) keeps his distance. Kit initiates conversation with a bit of Flashing, the blinded vampire goes for ground, Motley opens fire, Loxi gives chase with the Princess Blade and gets us close enough for the Vampire to turn and attack with magic and traps, Kit and Motley leap to intercept, Motley swings Aryan & Sword to hit the vampire which is promptly reduced to dust. The Vampire's brief attack and post-death retribution leave most of our troops dead, most of the party badly injured, Loxi and WordSmith near death, barely saved by Kit and Amelia applying healing. Damage came from mechanical trap-type grenados spreading either fire, or flechettes of crystal, as well as the large pulsing crystal heart on his chest shattering.

Claiming moral if not numeric victory, Kit charges the Princess Blade at the invisible-giant-vampire on the ground while the others patch themselves a bit. The vampire dodges the ship, Isil-Eth and Amelia assault the vampire from range, Kit charges followed by Motley once again wielding Aryan. Kit and the vampire duel for mutual detriment, the vampire disarms Motley of Aryan, Kit disarms the vampire, Isil-Eth arrives in a blaze of light, all four strike the vampire and only dust is left.

The black Orc 'Human' honour guard are defeated by the Governor's troops, the corpses of a Drow mage (E&E) and assassin are found amongst the dead Orcs. The mage was possessed by a powerful Necromantic spirit for a while during the fight.

A bit of healing and recuperation is required. We note that a few of the Empire troops are resurrected. It is discovered that the honour guard knew of the Princess's death.

Loxi requests one of the crystals that is linked to the "map room".

The Dwarves

Reviewing the information available (including the SPLAT, Ryo's bracelet, and various rumours), we decide to look in the mountains some 4000 hm (about 3000 miles) West for dwarves to assist in removing the threat to Alusia. As the hobbits have the best rumours, we leave for Quorn at dawn and pick up Fedelia, Ryo, and 5 explorers. The explorers want to look at the headwaters of the river 1000 hm SE of the mountains. They have scooters, and imply that they might leave one behind with us.

Contact

We are well on our way to the mountains (swinging north to reduce travel time), when we see a large flash on the map room viewer, some 300hm E of us. We reverse course, and observe the area with crystals. We see several bodies, including a big dwarf, along with lots of equipment and blood. As we get close, we detect faint tracks heading south, so we fly ahead and set up a non-threatening welcome. Amelia and WordSmith are approached by a single tall dwarf with leather armour and a plaited beard. After giving them healing potions we are able to give the six of them (only three can walk) enough confidence in our good intentions that they come aboard - being stationary made us very nervous. More information is exchanged.

Their group of eight was on a stealth mission in the Empire Capital (they claim to take stuff, but leave equal worth in the form of goods, or services done by 'brownies'). They left as the Honour Guard was attacked, but got confused as they didn't notice that a member was missing until some hours later.
Then they were ambushed by Empire army humans (who they distrust anyway), and were only able to retreat when one of their number exploded. We explain that drow from Purple have been on Ares for a few months, and we suspect that either they ambushed them (e.g. Nightmare, appearing as humans), or tricked humans into attacking them (and we know the empire is looking for allies, not new enemies). After they have a chance to Divinate themselves and find they have been subjected to Befuddlement (Mind) and Synesthesia (Illusion) spells, we agree that a drow ambush is likely, and go back to the ambush site.
Motley's mirror lets as see what had happened. Four vampires (one of them large), eight drow (two mages) and several orcs arrived in some kind of unseen ship (aeirship made of bound aeir?) That set up an ambush (including doing Illusionary Terrains in minutes), and left orcs disguised as Empire Army troops to spring the trap (the dwarves mentioned that the humans had a funny smell). The drow forces had a weird axe, and used what looked like a special-effect anti-maze spell. They leave when the (possessed?) dwarf explodes.

It is agreed that the best course of action is for us to be taken to the dwarven city in the middle of the three mountains, and exchange as much information as both sides are happy with. A couple of hobbits are sent with a message to the Governor, as it is likely that the drow will try to give the Empire a bad view of the dwarves. A dwarf and hobbit (on a scooter) go ahead to clear our passage.

The Princess Blade is taken in an entrance way (near the limit of breathable air). While the masts are being stepped, WordSmith Divinates one of the archways that are along the tunnel ahead, and finds they are semi-gates, that utilise a form of trans-planar travel. Each segment of the tunnel is possibly different, the one divinated twists the "orientation" of a fixed volume, so that when activated, anything in the tunnel "falls" towards the exit. Loxi also finds she can draw mana in the tunnel.

Dwarven City

The tunnel takes us to a town within a huge (3/8ths mile high) cavern with a monolith at the centre (going all the way to the roof). Five other tunnel entrances are seen, all on one half of the cavern's circumference. The dwarves are nearly all the same height (5'2"), and same a family resemblance. Those not able to speak Dwarvish have Comprehend Tongues cast on them (giving them a touch of Titan in some cases too). Places of note are a ruler's 'palace' and the priest's gardens, both of which approach the monolith. There is also a statute of Gaia and the 12 Titans, all which dwarvish features. We estimate that the city can house around 20,000, but only has a population of several thousand, mainly non-elven fae (Brownie's, Dryads, Nymphs, Pixies etc). While Adrastos goes away to have his arm re-attached, we are the subject of much polite curiosity from the common folk, and more polite curiosity from the priesthood - Loxi is given most deference (due to being a 'Sacred Priest' of the earth. We learn that the dwarves have been re-incarnated dozens of times each. There is a feast followed by a party, and we are told we are to be presented to a sub-committee of the Grand Council at midnight. We retire to our rooms, take advice for presenting ourselves, and wear various items of dwarven and titanic origin.

Dwarven Monolith

This acts as a Namer Place of Power, in a way similar to the Drow Illusion monolith. It multiplies by 370 as opposed to 201, and rituals take a minute to cast. Aura are very visible to WordSmith, and even interfere with medium-range vision.

Council Hearing

Adrastos leads us to a lower council chamber, where we can breathe the air. We are introduced to three other princes, Master Neopolis, Master Oiler, and The Barn. Using (we assume) cavorite, air is drawn into the area we are in, and the area of floor that we are on rises. As we travel around 5 miles up, various warning magics against undead that the party are wearing start reacting. We arrange for these to be returned to our quarters, or otherwise silence them.

We are taken to a hearing room, lead by an usher (First Minister?) of some importance, wearing a suit of garnets. Three non-corporal dwarvish figures enter - they DA as Dwarvish Spirits, aura strength Sentient Greater Undead. We are reassured when further DAs show that they have fairly minor draining abilities that they have not utilised for many years. Adrastos tells his story of how we came to him, and we are questioned at length to establish our intentions and past dealings with dwarves. Isil Eth (as a non-priest elf) is particularly quizzed, fortunately the cloak she is wearing was given to her by the Titan Mnemosyne, and her faithful intentions are eventually believed. Adrastos is told that all plans are still under consideration, in the meantime extreme watchfulness is being practised (although it is trying to maintain). We return to our quarters with Adrastos.

Debrief

Adrastos tells us of three plans being considered. The first he knows little of, but assumes it is a straight-out attack on the drow city. Plan B is to take measures to prevent the humans (and the hobbits) from being made into undead (either Necromantic or the local sort). Plan C involves using 'Deep Magic' to temporarily change how much things weigh (like a dwarf star spell), and crush those on Ares not inside the protected area they will place within their mountain. As a last resort they will consider moving to another plane.

Plan A (attack)
Dwarves don't think that this is likely to succeed, given their small numbers (202 fit, mature dwarves) and the difficulty in using the power of their monolith at such a distance.
The humans are not looked upon as potential allies, due to their persecution of Dwarves and earth-dwellers on Home.
We point out that the Michaelines (not guilty of the massacres on Home) would be useful allies, with very similar objectives.
Various plans for making use of the Binder monolith to the south and the E&E monolith NE of the Drow are suggested. As they hadn't considered these 'force-multipliers', this plan is looking more likely to succeed.
Plan B (Protect Humans)
Further questioning reveals that this protection has a side effect of weakening the bodies and minds of those effected. As it spreads like a disease, it would spread to Alusia, with grave consequences. We think this is the threat to Destiny.
We re-inforce to the dwarves how many innocents would die by doing this!
Plan C (Crush)
Would cause some casualties within the mountain. this is the main factor against this plan in their view.
Amelia tells them that they cannot predict the consequences, and will regret doing it.
We point out that humans and hobbits born on Ares are not able to evacuate to Alusia (due to being too tall there). The dwarves hadn't considered this (they train in high-weight chambers), and more more reluctant than they were.

Slowing the Drow

We manage to agree on hunting down the invisible Drow ship that seems to be scouting a path to the Dwarves. The Princess Blade is reinforced then fired from the Dwarven tunnels towards the E&E Monolith. Travelling at about 700mph we raise a dust trail several miles wide but get to the monolith within a few hours.

The E&E Monolith is covered by a Web trap which is a dome about 3/4 of a mile across. At the base are several Illusionary Terrain covered Drow camps and more web traps. We slow the ship near the top of the net and take turns slipping through the net and getting E&E magic cast on us by Fidelia.

Quickness; Rk 20 Enchant Armour; Greater Enchantment on Loxi and WordSmith.

She also creates some Sleep Dust and Rocks of Vision.

Sailing back towards the Dwarves at normals speeds we identify landing sites of the undetectable ship and manage to work out a pattern to their landings. It is always at night, they are meandering towards the Dwarves, they come out of the ship for about 20 minutes, then leave after another 20 minutes, their ship's footprint looks like a finely woven round basket with ropes around it. Preferring to fight vampires during the day we locate them when they emerge from their ship but the locate drops off when they go back inside. It looks like we'll need to attack them when they land tomorrow night.

Blade Betters Boomer

As we approach the area we expect the scouting ship to be, Motley and Aryan can hear an occasional thump or boom. We work out that it happens about once a minute. Amelia can also detect it, we guess you have to be big or have rocks in your ears to sense it. We work out that the source is quite close by sending Amelia flying away in one direction, and Aryan and Motley in the other. Kit makes an illusionary sparrow which manages to fly into the vessel that we are tracking, as it heads towards Aryan and Motley. The sparrow gets inside, and Kit can see a vampire apparently steering the vessel, four vampires with drow on their backs, and two other vamps (one beating a drum). We expect the four vampires with drow to attack, so leave Aryan and Motley as bait for a trap as we manoeuvre to hit them from above.
As the vamps approach, Aryan windwalks away (with Motley slip-streaming), and the vamps are bombarded with illusion-popping arrows, Flash of Light, and various magics. Loxi and WordSmith direct missile fire from the hobbits and steer the Princess Blade as everyone else closes. The combined effects weaken the vamps, and they are despatched quickly in melee - although things could have been different if we did not have the means to give those near Isil Eth Rk20 Avatar (to match those the vamps had). The vessel's crew are similarly dealt with. The Necromancer had possessed various of her minions here, but we left her no place to go, and her spirit was forced from the plane.
The vessel is a strange shape (like a pyramid with six vertical sides, and is made of a titan metal. It cannot be seen through, but entities that touch the sides pass through, and sound can be transmitted - the drum was used to navigate as well as to find others. The vessel flew because of the flayed titan skin net around it, which disgusts the dwarves.

Aftermath

We find that various attacks were planned, but they had little success due to lack of central control, and the warning of the threat that we had provided. One of Ares's small moons was aimed at the Dwarves' mountain, but they had noticed it coming and broke it into smaller pieces, so damage was small. The other moon came down on the human cities, but the population had been evacuated underground. An Ent army from Purple had been forced into the necromancer's service, the dwarves sent to the Binder monolith to the south warned of them. With the Necromancer no longer an immediate threat, the Ent's were happy to go home.
Various gifts and exchanges are made, including a lovely artwork (on a stand on gold) made by the dwarves, cavorite panels (for flying vessels), and illusion-popping arrows, while the Alusian granite we brought is much appreciated.
We portal back to Bretannia on the 5th of Heat, and make it back to the Baronies in time for important matters such as the wedding.

Quotes

Aryan: Have you already done it?
Amelia: If I did, I haven't done it yet.
WordSmith: Damn time travel, my head hurts!

Kit: Trust me, tie me to the mast!

Loxi (to Kit): That makes sense.
Kit: Loxi's losing it. Tie her to the mast!

Amelia: I like Aryan's plan.
WordSmith: Quick, tie Amelia to the mast!

Amelia: Kit should go with Aryan to keep him out of trouble...

Loxi (actually Michael): It was that fire mage that DF'd their own party.
Motley: You'll have to narrow it down more than that.

Kit, (of Isil Eth, to Amelia): If you hit her here, you'll be faster than her.
Isil Eth: If you hit my hair, I stop!

Wordsmith's Enoblement

WordSmith has kept this a close secret and still denies it but Isil-Eth's innate understanding of social etiquette has revealed WordSmith's secret, he is Prince and heir to a Kingdom!

The Proof
I'm sure the Philosophy Dept can give you some lessons in logic.
As we were about to enter Princess Carmen's suite one evening, Isil-Eth instinctively alerted the Princess Carmen's attendants of our impending arrival.
Isil-Eth would only act as herald for someone of higher rank, therefore one of the party holds higher rank than Princess Isil-Eth.
Or Isil-Eth thought it more important that our hosts not be embarassed.
Aryan, Amelia, and Kit all have known titles which rank lower than an Elven Princess.
Having a known title prevents you having any hidden titles?
The 6 human Alusians who may equal or out-rank Isil Eth are all not in the party.
I think you'll find that Isil Eth acknowledges non-Alusian titles in some circumstances (including "if conducive to survival, possibly').
Loxi is an Elf and she is not one of the Elven peerage closer to the throne than Isil-Eth.
see non-Alusian comment above.
Motley is too tall.
There-four, it must be Wordsmith with the concealed title.
We've never heard of a Dwarven Emperor and he's unlikely to be a King yet, so Wordsmith must be a Prince, since he ranks higher than Princess he must be in line to inherit.
Wordsmith says he used to be a Prince but isn't any more. You don't get over nobility, merely step into dead men's shoes. Being an uncrowned King is far more likely than being a Dowager Prince.
this just re-inforces my point about non-Alusian titles. Also, I think it was technically possible to be a Dowager Prince on Phantasia, not that I think Isil Eth would acknowledge even the consort of a Fantasian Queen (a position I did not attain, or aspire to) as being of higher rank.

Aryan is putting a guinea on the guild bar when we get back for whoever can identify the Kingdom Wordsmith is heir to.

People

Earlier Info

Purple Drow

Carmen

Princess/Ambassador for the Native Humans. Accompanied by her honour guard.

Actually an Evil Drow witch (Illusionist/Mind Mage/Necromancer), has seduced/drugged the Bretonian ambassador and charmed his Majordomo. Vanguard of the Drow invasion.

Killed on the night of Ares Day 9.

In audience with us she appeared as a Human (speaking Empire Human) with a large ruby on her forehead. Had some kind of False Aura in place (Ritual of Illusionary Aura?) to fit her role. However her soul is very old (e.g. old elf), and linked to an outside force (Necromancer? Titan? God?)

Bodyguards to Carmen

Jack Russell
Assumed Shapechanger(Bear) bodyguard to Carmen, disguised (including aura) as a human. Equipment includes a Necromantic cloak, and a reversed version of a mantle of feathers we saw in the Drow city.
Gerry Shepard
Shapechanger(Bear) bodyguard to Carmen, disguised (including aura) as a human. Wears a Necromantic cloak, and a reversed version of a mantle of feathers we saw in the Drow city.
looks older than Jack, and not as scarred.
Plane of Origin - Purple (has encountered Purple's Music of the Spheres)
Planer travelled 3 months before we encountered him.

Purple Dwarves

While they have a GTN of Dwarf, they are stronger and tougher than Alusian dwarves. Approaching the height of humans (possibly due to the effect of weighing less on Ares), and proportionally wider. Have much less cultural aversion to edged weapons than the Empire. Many (all?) have Mind-like talents, including a form of telepathy used for communication.

History

Ancestors built monoliths. Came to Purple thousands(?) of years ago. Had no knowledge of Elves, just Drow.

Religion

They respect the same Titans worshipped on Purple, and venerate Ge/Gaia, the "mother" of the titans.

Prince Adrastos

{Undaunted} Leader of the group that were near the Empire capital when the Drow Honour Guard was attacked. Son of Cressidon {name means Gold},and brother to [another] Cressidon. Cressidon is also called Guildmaster/Heir and is apparently the de facto ruler. Adrastos lost an arm when attacked by Drow orcs (disguised as Empire troops) a couple of days later.

Aristo

{Best}, s. of Aetos {Eagle}
Injured Mind mage with Adrastos. Has a kind of control of elements spell/ritual that means he can place a shell of sand around a moving person or object (including the Princes Blade, with difficulty).

Timoleon

{I honor what I say}, s. of Evangelius {who brings good news}, s. of Voleton {veiled one}, s. of Argus {watchful}, s. of Nicodemus {victory of the people}, s. of Lethon of the High council.
Namer with Adrastos. Conducted initial negotiations with Amelia and WordSmith, due to magic, health, and comparative worth.

Adrastos other companions

  • Ophira {gold}, s. of Cosmo {Order};
  • Thisbe {Where doves live}, s. of Adaron {Beauty};
  • Teklus {Divine Fame}, s. of Orrin {Mountain}.
  • The battle corpse was Narellus {bright one}, s. of Zandaron
  • The dwarf lost/captured in the city was Thalius {blooming}, s. of Kalonike {beauty's victory}, who would have known quite a lot about the Dwarven city, including the password, which has been changed.

Places

Earlier info, including a guide to how different materials decay, and socially acceptable weapons.

Reference Information

Readings

Expenses

  • Isil Eth
  • Ballast in the form of masonry blocks for Loxi
  • Beer for WordSmith
    • Given that alcohol is one of the few things that 'works' on Ares, I'll be taking things that are cheap on Alusia and expensive there. So I'll be fine with a small amount of whiskey.
  • Pastries for Amelia
  • up to 5 tonnes trade goods for the Badgers.
  • gifts for dignitaries

Items and Loot

Calendar

Summer: Meadow (1) 807 wk
  Moonday Duesday W'ansday Th'rsday Frysday Reapsday Sunday
Full Moon Beltane 1 Guild Meeting
Fly South
2 Fly South 3 Fly South 4 Fly South 5 White Lotus
Fly South
6 Fly South
Waning 7 Portal to Ares 8 9 10 11 12 13
New Moon 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Waxing 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Full Moon 28 29 30 1 2 3 4
Summer: Heat (2) 807 wk
  Moonday Duesday W'ansday Th'rsday Frysday Reapsday Sunday
Waning 5 Portal to Bretannia 6 7 8 9 10 11
New Moon 12 back in Seagate 13 14 15 Solstice
16 17 18
Waxing 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Party Organisation