Vale of Tears - Part 2

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Scribe Notes

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Summary

Adventure:Vale of Tears - Part 2
GM:Stephan
Session: Spring 811
Night: Tuesday
Level: Low/Medium

Party

Returning to Kublai. Firest Adventure notes are here - Vale of Tears - Part 1
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Employer
Emperor of Kublai
Mission
To help the people resit the enemy.
Pay
Loot.

Notes

Day 1

We meet a representative of the Emperor of Kublai who is to be our employer. His name is Kris though Eli will be our liaison in most things. As well as the obligatory personal guard they parade a group of nobles before us for a “press the flesh” opportunity. Sin, who has been to the plain before acts as translator (she speaks the court tongue Kali not the trade pathos).

Kris explains that we are to lead a Five thousand strong settler army in a reconnaissance in force and annex a large river valley and the associated ruins of a major and heretofore unknown civilization. The Empire to have first right of refusal of any and all recovered artifacts.

After the meeting, we elected Mario party leader, Arden Ulfbane military scientist, and Serra Angelus scribe.

Mario is a foreign letch but from the gossip and graffiti in the women’s rooms is at least half as talented as he thinks he is.

Arden Ulfbane is your typical giant all human dullness writ obnoxiously large and in your face but should make and excellent meat shield as thick as he seems.

Boris, well what can you say about an orc, just when I think they cannot smell any worse I find one who plays with dead things. I suppose I must be thankful he didn’t try to hump the furniture or use the floor as a toilet while the employer was present.

Sin the Airmage is a delightfully plain lass, seems to know her place so I shouldn’t need to scratch her eyes out or add her to “the List”. Must teach her how to control the unwanted advances of the rodent though. Offer her the use of my chastity belt as she suffers from the human talent of can’t see in dark.

Merco, never thought I would meet a Halfling that could seem more rodent like than Eltan. I’m sure there is a sentient ooze or slime in his lineage somewhere. It takes a lot of talent to be more repellent than an orcish necro. Have lent him my paired daggers of speed.

Malcolm, at first impression I thought him retarded or possibly mute maybe just old and senile hard to tell age in short life’s. Could be he is just watching everything even when he seems to have fallen asleep. Fire mage so worth keeping an eye on especially if he is senile.

Merco after insisting we half his party share of the payment then decides to spend what’s left in New Seagate sourcing some perfumes (Four types being the seasons @ 1,000sp)as a present to our employer, along with a book of pressed flowers, and another book on animals of Alusia. Mario realizing a good marketing opportunity when one slaps him in the face organizes five bottles of excellently presented wine in sealed boxes as well as some samples for potential clients. He also buys some oils for the entire party is he envisaging after combat massage circles perhaps.

Having grown tired of the Halflings pleading and intrigued by the magical benefits I consent to allow Merco to “saddle” me for riding.

We separate to sort out our respective needs.

Day 2

We meet and repair to the docks to board the unnatural vessel that will carry us over oceans and across planes. It is an impressive 300 foot long 50 foot high iron and steel ship of unknown origins covered in runes and obviously ancient. Whatever Elven civilization built it certainly knew nothing of aesthetics probably Drow. We spend time settling into our state room which while far from opulent is at least well stocked with and efficient staff and amenities. Our personal valet is *finger snap* whom the other immediately dub “click”.

The ship has not returned to its home port for more than a year.

NB all intelligence on mission is suspect.

The vessel currently holds 1,000 prisoners on board to work out their sentences’, and 1,500 guests.

Among the guests I spot Elves, Gnomes and some other exotic races but humans are by far the dominant subsection.

Paying attention I decern a half dozen P.O.O.s new to me;

  • Upper Deng
  • Lower Deng
  • Kahleigh
  • Empty Reach
  • Va’Lair
  • A’Lan’Is

We inspect the ship. It seems the newest owners are barely able to maintain and repair (only just) but no longer understand its inner workings of the ship. The runes channel power using a form of death magic to feed a central spine of carved sandstone (created on the plain of Karcoffin) at the rear of the vessel, which provides both inter and intra planar movement. The ship requires 4 sentient sacrifices per day to function 10 during planar transit, the inefficiency of the system makes my question my earlier assumptions of the ships creators as even Drow, as addicted to blood magic’s as many seem to be, would cringe at the wastage and potential short-comings evident even to me. Indeed as we are regaled with the history of the voyages our hosts speak with hushed reverence of times where the crew sacrificed themselves to the generator in times of inadequate fuel supplies.

Note to self; sell breeding tribe of goblins to ship handlers as self-renewing fuel source and arrange beastmaster sentient trainer for a fee.

The middle of the below decks is given over to housing and training of the male guards and prisoners and associated crafts and support services. Separating the female only forward section is a huge multi-denominational temple. The female prisoners are expected to service the male population while doing duty as brood mares and must produce 5 live offspring to gain there freedom. The distaste of my companions for this revelation prevents me from learning more including the disposition of the offspring and there rights and place in society. I can only assume the children are housed in a part of the women’s quarters we were not shown.

We retire for the evening to discuss what we have learned and practice our mastery of the local tongue.

Day 3

Luiweegi Head jailor escorts us to meet Vic master of the army who in turn presents us to the troops.

He explains that there are currently three cohorts of men at arms in our legion (note to self; look into renaming them “The Serraphim”).

The first cohort “The Forlorn Hope” are our most experienced with a compliment of 200 men.

The second cohort “Love and Hate” is over strength at 400 men divided into two separate commands.

The third and least experienced cohort “FNGs” is essentially a penal battalion of the remaining 200 men under arms.

Quote the Mil Sci “The legion is purely light and medium infantry concentrated towards skirmishing or phalanxes in fairly open dessert terrain. They boast no thrown missile capability and only limited duel role archery using self or short bows.”

After observing them practice several tactical scenarios we endeavour to educate the primitives on the effect of magic in modern warfare and what to expect of us and any potential enemy spellcasters.

Needless to say they are suitably impressed.

Merco spends time training Vic and the command team in the use of Mindspeech.

Merco explaining mind magic’s to non-adepts, “Mind speech allows us to talk without saying anything”

We spend the next ten days in rinse and repeat mode.

Day 12

Eli summons us to a formal reception with Kris, the ships command crew and the various ambassadors and trade reps. Towards the end of the evening we are adroitly manoeuvred into a private audience with Kris and the ship’s captain to discuss the transit to the plane of Vanaheim, the last intelligence on the political situation there and what our role in the coming days is to be.

The plane was ruled by an old sickly King who favoured the agreement with the empire but the heir is a potential source of trouble. The ships navigation being imprecise we would be dispatched upon arrival to determine where on the plane of Vanaheim we had splashed down.

After the formal reception we descend to a more lively and riotous affair below decks as the troops celebrate on the eve of potential conflict.

Day 13

We gather in the wheelhouse to watch the transition from Alusia to Vanaheim. All seem to go well and the passage is without incident. Co-opting the services of one of the ships cartographers one Cedric Wulfgarson in place of our party leader who is in “negotiations” with a wealthy countess, we take our leave of the ship via Sin’s Air magic’s to scout the nearest landfall. As we approach we discern a small island (no more than 5 leagues by 3) with a small fishing village amongst the rocky promontories on the lee. Cedric quickly places the isle and its neighbours’ as a small group to the south of the capital Jelling job done; but we decide to land and question the locals as to the disposition of the old King and the state of the kingdom before calling it a day.

Entering the village on foot we attempt to ask questions only to discover a language barrier compounded by a distrust of outsiders or at least outsider who look like us. Things go from frustrating to problematic as the idiot mind mage decides to torture some random old human with magical visions. Why? I have no idea but I am starting to see why so many at court were considering a pogrom upon Halflings’ a few seasons back. Needless to say this agitated the locals somewhat with what had been a few fearful onlookers showing signs of becoming a mob. Amazing how the word witch or the hatred and fear it engenders at least needs no translation no matter where we go.

As even the densest of the party are starting to realise we may have outstayed our welcome Sin discovers that Cedric has slipped his leash and is missing. As the others start to run about like headless chooks I adjourn to the local tavern only to find our erstwhile cartographer already into his third pint happily chatting with the owner.

We learn that the old king Ulrich the Peacemaker has indeed succumbed to the last embrace and the son now rules in Jelling. The son King Erik Bloodaxe has embraced a new religion. From what little I can gather it is some kind of blood cult their holy symbol depicts a ritual sacrifice of an innocent.

Upon exiting the pub we are set upon by a gaggle of children wielding wooden swords and seeing an opportunity to do some damage control and win some “hearts and minds” I indulge in some mock fighting letting them drive me towards the fields.

Suddenly a youth appears out of the press with a seax aimed at my throat forcing me to snap his wrist. The male party members pile on the fool like a pack of starving dogs kicking and punching which sets off the men who have been watching us. In the absence of Mario I order the party into the air when it looks like the idiots would stay and slaughter the entire village rather than retreat.

We inform Kris of the day’s events upon our return and retire to hot baths and body rubs as the ships makes for port.

Day 16

We arrive in the harbour of Jelling mooring well beyond the breakwater at the mouth of the bay.

Kris summarises the Empires R.O.E for all who serve aboard.

  1. Address any and all communications to outsiders through the Master of the ship.
  2. Don’t stare.
  3. Don’t miss the boat or be left behind.
  4. The ship receives a tax on all gifts.
  5. Don’t divulge any information on the ship its working or it crew.
  6. Weapons must be peace bound whenever ashore.
  7. Do not start fights, take sides or in any way mess about in local politics.

The honour guard formed we taker to the boats and are rowed across the harbour to the reception and the quay.

King Eric Bloodaxe all of about 18 years stands before his honour guard waiting to greet Kris who signals for us to wait back as he advances alone and empty handed.

The king proclaims something to Kris and the crowd and swift as a snake draws and decapitates Kris with a single fluid motion. At this action archers concealed among the crowd and roofs surrounding the docks open fire concentrating there murderous volleys on Kris’ elite guard and the troops waiting to alight from the boats.

Mario immolates and charges the traitor’s bodyguard with Aden on the left with Sinn and Boris hold the centre Merco having used the daggers I gave him to quicken all but Malcolm and myself. I quaff a potion and begin burping fireballs at our opponents scourging clear the right flank to allow our troops to gain a foothold.

In the harbour seemingly innocent trade cogs and long boats come alive with activity making for the ship with all speed obviously intending to board and take her. We signal the Captain to repel all boarders using the code for betrayal.

With my last fireball I incinerate the command group including the King and his consort then enter the battle with Jus cutting a swathe through the remaining Kings’ guard to anchor the centre and flank while our troops form up to pivot on the flank Mario and Arden have secured with more of the Forlorn Hope. However withering bow fire from the roof tops and the arrival of pike squads from the neighbouring streets forestalls our securing the field.

Mario runs up thin air and into the middle of the first block of pikemen risking grievous injury to disrupt there advance (nomination for bravest).

Realising that the Jelling troops are only trying to prevent us from landing and only pressing to rescue the Kings corpse we disengage along the frontline to see if we cannot broker some cessation of hostilities and open negotiations.

Behind the pikes we can see a group of heavies in plate (possibly a kind of church knight) with an ornate cross as their rallying totem carried by some form of clerics or priests spurring on the soldiers to slaughter.

Boris seeing Mario is cut off from our lines forms a bone construction protecting our party leader and allowing him to retreat safely behind our lines, (nomination for smartest).

With Kris the only one who speaks the local language and the situation ready to spin out of control Merco spends a gold brick to resurrect Kris after I magically sew his head and body back together.

Unfortunately instead of calling for a truce and talks Kris bolstered by mind magic’s and my Healer skills declaims the treachery of the King and the City proclaiming that Jelling will be raised to the ground and her people put to the sword.

While understandable sentiment of one recently beheaded it is not the most helpful response given our tactical situation. The Forlorn Hope lock shields and disembarks under fire while we get Mario to fly Kris back to the ship before he manages to totally screw us in his anger. I provide Armours of Earth and Strengths of Stone to the party before becoming cut off from the mana again while Sin casts Flying rending herself mute. Luckily Sin backfires on Merco who takes his place riding on my back so we can keep the party together.

Headed back out into the harbour we assess the tactical situation with Vic and what is left of his command staff regarding the assault currently underway upon our vessel. A half dozen cogs packed with troops and dozens of longboats have surrounded the ship with bitter fighting at the gunnels and towards the stern upon the deck itself most of the ships compliment are fighting with riot gear having been caught unprepared to resist a full scale boarding action. The salamander canons seem to only be mounted as bow chasers despite the provision of gun ports along the length of the hull though as the battle intensifies man portable crew served weapons make an appearance on deck and begins to help turn the tide of the battle.

As Vic takes the remaining men and boats towards the stern we fly for the biggest of the cogs near the bow. We carve our way aboard as Boris slips below the waterline to warp the hull and sink the attackers in the cold dark waters of the bay.

As the first cog slips beneath the waves we flit to the next in line taking more fire as the attackers realise the danger we constitute. Though ferocious their efforts to thwart us are futile as one by one the makeshift troop transports slip beneath the waters of the bay.

Kris calls for the attackers to surrender but being cut off seems to encourage them to new heights of desperate battle frenzy. We land upon the aft deck and secure it allowing Vic and the surviving “Forlorn Hope” to board and consolidate a secure foothold before advancing to drive the enemy from our decks.

The fighting is bitter and fierce, a war of inches, a meat grinder slowly inexorably moving forward over the broken and shattered remnants of what once were men. Step by step the party fights it way forward dragging Vic and the first company with us.

Kris rotates they party out of the front line and sends us below decks to search out and destroy enemy skirmishers who are wreaking havoc slaughtering passengers and crew indiscriminately.

We mop up several small units before running into a cohesive threat consisting of a score of shieldmen backed by an equal number of pikes protecting a crew manning a captured salamander canon. We engage, the giant, the orc and I struggling against the press of bodies in the corridor trying to cut our way through to the gunners before our Fire Armours become depleted.

I awake nursing a concussion having taken a skull fracture and, after vomiting profoundly, pass Jus and my amulet of diamonds to Sin so she can help our front rank keep up the pressure. Eventually the party manage to cut a path to the canon and turn it upon the remaining enemy.

Having cleared below decks we head up and rejoin Vic as reinforcements in the form of “Love and Hate” and the “FNGs” having re-equipped from the enemy dead.

I focus, sort of, on triage, getting the wounded rotated to the rear and having the worst sent below to the healers while corpsmen patch what they can. Most of my efforts go into keeping our people on their feet as they acquire half a dozen grievous injuries including the loss of two hands.

Suddenly it is over; the only enemy troops left aboard are the dead or the dying. Both are stripped of their gear and dumped over the side for the sharks and the crabs to feast on. After reattaching Sin and Arden’s hands I present myself to the master healers Jasmera and Achmed and help them with the huge number of wounded as the ship makes way out to sea.

We are summoned hours later to attend a mandatory banquette for all combatants and guests. Kris pulls us aside and presents us with six pounds of gold and an assortment of random jewels in a small chest as thanks for our efforts.

Our employer admonishes us to never speak to anyone of his death and return nor to drink any of the wine but that at his table this night. We observe as all but those at the head table succumb to the tainted wine and servants move among them whispering new memories in their ears to replace the day’s events.

Taking the opportunity to examine the countess our party leader has been dallying with I determine that Mario’s assignations have produced issue. Exhausted and battered from all the fighting we retire to our cabin and seek temporary oblivion.

Day 17

We inspect the remnants of our command; The forlorn hope is down to 80 effectives with both Love and Hate and the FNGs below half strength. 2nd and 3rd company are both issued their armour finally and we settle in for some combined arms training.

Day 28

The transit to Kublai is uneventful with Kris and the priests indulging in some extra special blood magic’s for reasons I’m sure make perfect sense to them.

Kublai is a hot, dirty and odorous world, the air liken to breathing the fetid sweaty miasma of a trolls smallclothes. Some wit once remarked that every breath one took had already been passed through the lungs of a million others, indeed could easily have been the last gasp of the dying so with each breath we took in to ourselves the dead and all that had come before. I think that wit had been to Kublai for everything about the world screams of prior use, of death and decay, of age, great and terrible. We journey across the dead flesh of the plain like carrion beetles across a carcass oblivious that entropy has already won and smug in the false belief of our manifest destiny.

I may not have enough alcohol to survive this place for a year.

The land when we spot it is covered with ruins; infested ruins swarming with a rat like creature Sin calls Skyer. We spot giant maggot like creatures and crystals glowing with a sickly green radiance that are apparently being mined by the ratmen.

That night there is a huge celebration to toast the successful return to Kublai. Despite the lack of clouds or moon the night sky is remarkably devoid of celestial bodies with only a handful of stars visible even in the darkest hours of the long night.

We sail past a island volcano upon which sits a pyramid made up of 5 smaller pyramids’ with huge statues of a four armed serpents with the heads of a crocodile or a human wielding glaives.

Day 29

We reach the port city of Da’phur a modest nest of humans cradled by barren hills transitioning from stone dessert with occasional ruins to sand dunes with chance of ruins. The port turns out to be a seasonal/temporary concern with traders and merchants coming in to service the ship and her passengers and then departing back to the capital. With the help of a local guide named Abdul, Boris finds an armoursmith willing to repair his armour for a measly two years pay while the rest of us peruse the sites and bazaars. We encounter many churches bearing the likeness of a fairheaded young girl with arms raised in supplication to the heavens. These are the churches dedicated to Vanessa the Messiah who two hundred years ago along with the previous guild party did something important; what?

We have no fucking clue as the incompetent cunts only submitted scribe note for the first fortnight.

A trader tries to give us a taste of a substance called Malan Root also known as melange a highly addictive soporific. We decline.

Day 30

At noon everyone notable enough to be grant swift passage boards the sky chariots, dirigibles towed by enormous dragonfly’s. GTN Dragonfly, Giant. The balloons are apparently filled with the exhaust of overheated salamanders which gives them buoyancy upon the winds of this world. The gondola is basically just a big basket with supplies lashed to the outside. To say that I am not looking forward to the next four weeks of travel is an understatement. Our Da’phur guide Abdul is staying behind and Kris will stay with his ship. Merco is provided with a personal gift for his part in resurrecting Kris.

We fly east.

Day 31

We encounter a colonnaded expanse of ruins stretching from horizon to horizon every bit swarming with Skyer waging war upon one another seemly without reason or direction. We observe the rats using large brass looking field pieces shooting green lightening every couple of pulses.

Day 35

We fly past a large tower with a large carnivorous mushroom encircled by a wall.

Day 42

A single huge unmarked pyramid sits amid a multitude of ruins.

Day 59

Agrahbar (known as Ishafan during the reign of the mages) appears on the horizon and not a moment too soon, four weeks of immersive language training in an enclosed space is enough to try the patients of the most humble saint.

The capital is situated inside a huge wall crawling with workers either building or repairing along its entire length. The outer wall encircles half a dozen separate walled districts shaped like the petals of a flower around a central bud each with its own particular focus on agriculture, cattle, industry or slum housing. The central hub is dominated by a huge three towered citadel surrounded by enclosed fortified compounds and estates. Even my untrained eye clearly recognises a city ready for a prolonged siege. Dominating the plaza before a magnificent cathedral beside the main gate is a giant glowing statue of the messiah Vanessa.

The flotilla of sky chariots is met by a press of dignitaries including the Queen herself borne upon a gilded palanquin by huge black male slaves. The Queen is early twenties and araby looking about PB22, scantily dressed and projects an attitude of extreme boredom. Queen Anooke and her spiritual advisors bid us welcome and give thanks for the convoys safe arrival before leading us inside the palace to the audience chamber where there is a ceremonial handing over of dispatches and logs from the ship.

We are approached by a graceful older gentleman of weathered complexion, who introduces himself as Ali ibin Usseff ibin Faruque, Marshal of the Army and our liaison. He informs us that half our forces have been reassigned to reinforce the Northern city which was besieged by the Skyer several months ago.

He also informs us of the etiquette for one attending court in the royal presence;

Do not look directly at her, lower or advert your eyes. Do not speak unless addressed. Pay homage. Ensure all answers are pleasing to her hearing.

We are called forth by the major domo and presented to the court. Queen Anooke seems uninterested indeed almost oblivious to our presence. The functionaries bring forward ornate scrolls recorded upon which are the events of the previous guild parties mission in Kublai. We also receive a sheaf of documents pertaining to our mission to the city of Ip Kur Kush and the surrounding environs of the Plain of Bones and the Rivers of Blood and Time which flow through it. We also receive pendants carved from the green mana crystal to idolise Vanessa arms outstretched in benediction or maybe supplication, and inscribed with runes.

We are skilfully moved on to make way for the next group and left to mingle with the other guests and courtiers as a buffet is served. After half an hour of trying to engage the locals in small talk we abandon the court and have Ali show us to the war room that we might better understand the tactical situation.

In spite of the squabbling of the flunky’s we learn that our settler force is half way to Hamadan the kingdom outpost that controls the headwaters of two rivers and is not expected to arrive for at least another season. We are expected to rendezvous with the column by Sky Chariot a trip of roughly 3-4 weeks and help protect it from attack on the last leg of the journey before continuing on down the River of Time to IKK to explore and secure the area.

The minister for trade offers us a further 200,000 in True Silver to ensure that the caravans attached to the column arrive intact given that the last two disappeared and supplies in Hamadan are running short.

Prompted by our questions about the Skyer threat Ali leads us down to the menagerie, a series of cells that hold captured specimens for study. There are approximately 50 Skyer in a single huge cage swirling in an ever moving mass. Merco discerns a pattern amongst the chaos and we eventually spot two bigger rats with black fur and red eyes that seem to be directing the lesser rodents. The skyer DA as short lived sentient, though there language still carries enough animalistic traits, (scent, body position etc), that my Converse Spell allows me some glimpses of understanding. We control person one of the leaders in an attempt to separate him for interrogation but the swarm reacts violently and we desist.

We retire to our suite to freshen up and after several hours a servant brings a summons to a private audience with her majesty. We return to the throne room to find two Imans arguing before the Queen about clashes between their respective congregations. One is Abal of the Followers of Allah the old religion from before the mage war, the other is Armed of the Followers of Vanessa. Queen Anooke dismisses them in disgust and commands us to attend her in her private chambers.

While she exits via on door we are taken by another and must traverse a twisting labyrinthine corridor and endure numerous stops for ritual appeasement of wards and traps etc, the walls DA as some sort of confusion magic’s. Upon entering the Queens rooms we quickly realise we are all seeing a slightly different version of reality, mostly cosmetic as far as we can discern. The main feature of the room, besides the bed and the bookshelves, is a large brass sarcophagus standing upright with a faceplate/viewing widow through which a green haze shines forth. Before the coffin chants a priest who, periodically checks the seals and hoses connected to the thing without braking cadence. Inscribed in runes is the phrase “Behold the Great Saviour sleeps within”.

Queen Anooke DA.s as a long lived human while the Messiah unsurprisingly reads as an Avatar.

Sin confirms that is indeed Vanessa inside the Sarcophagus and that she longs to be release so her soul can move on. The queen explains that her Mother/Sister is being preserved as an oracle and that she is why we were summoned to complete the mission to IKK. Her majesty tells us of the first ones, The Bringers, who lived in the pyramids and would steal through the night drinking blood. Her research has uncovered that the source of the power was an ancient stone disk “the Keystone” which is said to control time and was placed within the city of Ip Kur Kush behind layers of wards, traps and entombed with sleeping guardians of fearful power and aspect.

Naturally the bint wants us to recover it for her.

She would also appreciate any intelligence we can collect on the movements of the Skyer. We demure hinting we may not be adequately equipped to ensure success until Her highness generously throws open the royal vault for our perusal and reassures us of a guaranteed supply of mana crystal dust.

We return to the court where we officially accept the royal command to lead the expeditionary force to the Plane of Bones and secure the river valley and the stronghold of Ip Kur Kush.

A dishevelled and exhausted messenger is half carried into court escorted by an ashen faced sub commander. The group are ushered straight to the throne were they form a huddle with the Queen and her ministers. The susurrus of whispered speculation and surprise cuts off abruptly into an ominous silence as the Queen stands the other’s falling back from the dais. Queen Anooke gazes silently upon the court for several moments before speaking. The words fall like the stones of a trebuchet against a castle wall. The western city has fallen and the southern is besieged by a great host of Skyer which appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The Queen orders the striping of the garrisons of Agrabar, the northern and even the besieged eastern cities to reinforce the South and drive back this incursion. She further assigns her royal guard to us and orders us to make all haste to secure IKK.

We retire after seeing to all the preparations for an early departure.

Day 60

We pillage the royal antiquities vaults for better gear and items that may help us in our endeavours.

Arden garbs a Headdress that has some type of Heroism effect and a Circlet that increases or channels aggression.

Merco snaps up a Rk 10 Weaponsmithed dagger and two Sabres made out of a material which does not inhibit casting.

Sin replaces her apprentice level weapon for Rk 10 true silvered paired falchions and a veiled headdress of pearls and silver chain.

Malcolm changes into a master ranked suit of slivered splint mail and finds a masterwork two handed Silvered Falchion that handles like a hand and a half.

Boris finds two rings one which increases spell casting (+20BC, prepare twice cast thrice), and one which reads the Hearts of Men.

I uncover Doctor DeZet’s Discovery, a Healers kit with notes and a strange syringe full of fluid among the more usual paraphernalia.

Tooled up we board the sky chariots and embark.

Day 82

We finally catch the column, by now we are literate in Kali and our fluency grows daily. We report to Nazeer the Blood Bound the columns commanding officer for a tactical brief.

Scouts have determined that the column is being shadowed by a hoard of Skyer and that the road a day and a half ahead of us has been blocked by a smaller force of ratmen who appear to be dug in.

Deciding to take out the roadblock we despatch the cavalry screen to ride forward and engage when they make contact in about six hours time.

Meanwhile we cast our buffs and with the royal guard reboard the sky chariot we have detached for our use. We observe the horde paralleling our course and estimate there numbers at close to half a million made up of several different sub species of Skyer and multiple clans judging from the totems.

Spotting a giant Skyer riding a huge palanquin who seems to be the focus of the Horde we don Unseen’s and Air college Flying and move closer to reconnoitre and perhaps sow confusion by assassinating the enemies commanders.

Unfortunately the Head rat seems to well protected by magic’s and troops and all we do is kick over an anthill to no real effect.

We move on to the roadblock and find the rats sallying forth to engage our scouts possibly aware of our cavalry’s imminent arrival and hope to destroy them before they can be reinforced. Earthworks surround a mine shaft/cavern entrance into a Tel that overlooks the road. Behind the hill a pit opens up and a mass of Skyer bearing goods and chattel stream forward headed on an intercept with the main Skyer force which is shadowing our column.

The royal guard and Merco deploy to bolster the flanks while we land behind the rats long gunners on the hill.

The fighting is furious as we flit from hot spot to hot spot concentrating on taking out mages and commanders while the line locks shields and slowly advances behind a rain of arrows. Merco and Mario use the indigenous carnivorous “puffballs” to great effect T.K.ing them into the rats massed troops.

By pulse 7 the survivors break and run as our horse troops arrive. The Skyer regroup on the baggage train headed for the main army and we decide not to pursue the engagement now that the road to our main objective is once again open.

Looting the battleground we recover x3 Long guns (Jesielle’s) x2 chain guns A mummified child x10 amulets or charms x2 pistols a magic robe with some sort of active camouflage effect An eye And a dozen skull knives.

The Skyer that occupied the roadblock wore a red symbol like a bent Y.......

Scribes Addendum

The next several months of notes were found to have been destroyed or lost upon return to the guild. Suspect Halfling or stupid stupid-rat creature of eating said pages or possibly using for toilet paper.

To summarise; we walk for ages it is hot at day, cold at night with little water and only ruins and desolation to look at. We find and explore some ancient dwarven outposts, towns and a city mostly confined to the foothills and mountains. Apparently the dwarves were at war or at least in conflict with the pyramid building blood-drinkers and seem to have disappeared at about the same point in time. Hamadan the nearest Imperial outpost to IKK is built upon a great lake and surrounded by old dwarven mines carved into the mountains. We encounter our first signs of normal plant and animal life since arriving on this plane. The snow melt, springs and aquifers that eventually become the rivers of Blood and Time feed the lake and teeming wetlands and are responsible for the outpost’s prosperity.

Hamadan having been settled for only three generations with little contact with the empire beyond despatches has its own separate and unique feel, customs and identity. After recuperating we continue via raft to the town of Sunpeak populated by a mix of Imperial citizens and the Tureg a wild tribe the hunts the wetlands and grasslands on either side of the river. The Tureg are distinctive with their coal black skin as opposed to the more Araby-like Kublai.

Sunpeak and the rivers fork mark the beginning of the Plain of Bones and an end to the verdantcy of life. Marked by monoliths like the one around which the town is built the plain of bones stretches forth dirt and soil turning to dust, gravel and hard pan despite the twin rivers carving through the valley.

On the theory that whatever force is killing all life within coo’ee won’t want to take on 2000 armed settlers we split into bite sized units of 200. As we move down stream we realise that the stinging dust and gravel is actually the remnants of old bones and the further we go the deeper and more intact the remains. Soon we are able to determine that the bones are from sacrificed sentients and date back at least a thousand years. After a day the bones cover the landscape like some morbid grisly snowfall averaging about knee deep, needless to say the necro is in heaven and it is all we can do to stop him from swimming and frolicking through the drifts like a drunken child. About 3 or 4 miles from the edge of the bowl in which the necropolis of Ip Kur Kush sits the bone fields become that of Skyer and appear fresh (3-4 years old).

Day 178

……. and sub commander Mustafa sets the men to clearing the ground of bones for the evening’s camp. I say bones but the remains here at the edge of the bowl could be more accurately described as skeletons given how intact they have become. There is still no sign of life, either of what killed the Skyer or what stripped the flesh from their remains. While weather would have played its’ part it alone cannot account for the condition of the “fresh” bones.

The horses are spooked, not sure if it is the smell of old death in the air or of rain. The horizon above Hamadan is black and nasty as far as the eye can see, the monsoon rains and thunderstorms should hit us sometime tomorrow afternoon, the next morning at the latest but we should be ensconced in the ruins by then maybe in one of the great pyramids we can see rising from the floor of the bowl.

Bowl: Hmmmn I wonder what the drainage is like down there?

We approach the obelisk sitting on the rim cautiously, it is approximately 200ft in height the four sides tapering from two elven yards at the base to one yard about five feet below the apex which comes to a point. In the middle of each side at the base is a slab of rock possibly an alterstone. We can discern some form of energy radiating from the column to either side and into the sky. Boris our Necro can sense death buzzes occurring every ¼ hour or so. This column is one of four seemingly built on the cardinal points at the edge of the bowl.

A D.A of the energy field reveals it to be death magic maintaining a spell which has been in effect for three years.

Walking around the obelisk I pass through the energy field and find myself confronted by the sight of a hundred humanoid lizards staring at me, kneeling before the alter on the city side at which a priestess (one of the four armed lizards from the wall paintings) is sacrificing a Skyer. Upon the priestess’ back is the artefact we were sent here for, in front of her a line of chained ratmen awaits her pleasure with a mound of previous victims giving clear evidence from whence came the deaths Boris was sensing. An angry and anticipatory hiss comes from the throats of the serpents as they move as one toward me drawing weapons. Stepping back through the event horizon of what is obviously some sort form of Illusion of Cloaking I draw Jus as the party forms around me calling back to Mustafa to arm the camp.

Using the column and alter along with a bone wall we funnel the lizards’ into the whirling storm of steel death that is the party’s front rank. Screams from the direction of our camp alert us to the fact that the men are under attack and as soon as possible we move to support them. The men are having trouble with a subspecies of lizard GTN Stygian Reaper that has some form of natural camouflage/unseen effect. In the fading light these reapers are moving below the surface of the bones and surprising and dragging of our troops. With the men locking shields in a defensive ring the party guided by the elves forms a flying squad to hunt down the reapers.

The attack repulsed for the moment we break camp sending the troops on a defensive forced march straight back to the rendezvous at Sunpeak to alert the rest of the army to what we have found while we plan to sneak into the necropolis and steal the artefact before the Stygian forces can regroup.

With the arrow fodder on its way the party enters the underground maze of the necropolis via the closest great pyramid and proceeds to walk into every ambush the lizards can conceive on such short notice. The interior is covered in pictograms and precious gems with paths leading off in all directions and all 3 dimensions, walls, floor and ceiling are much of a muchness for these creatures apparently. The first attack comes from reapers concealed amongst the pictograms of a dodecahedral chamber and encourages us to focus more attention upon the patterns depicted on the rock surrounding us. The mind mages keep babbling about some all-pervasive presence within the pyramid which seems to know we are here and which is growing stronger as we move towards it. The sorcerer’s between them come to the conclusion that what they are tapped into is a near animalistic hive consciousness, a gestalt sentience guided by the Priestess or Queen. In the next skirmish Arden the party Mil Sci manages to get himself decapitated by a javelin but with the aid of the Orc Necro Boris becomes a more competent and less lippy damage dealing automaton. Malcolm backfires and blinds himself for three hours while Merco manages to backfire a Empathy resulting in a double effect and effect self. Continuing on into the “stygian” depths Boris discovers that the gems in the pictures can be manipulated to reveal new images and some even open secret doors to other rooms full of mummified creatures. It is in one of these tunnels that we stumble across guild member Eltan the Reaver aka Stupid Stupid-rat creature, wandering lost in the secret passages having taken a wrong turn while practicing with his shiny new ritual of opening portals to the elemental plane of Fire. Finding the ritual chamber where the priestess is awakening the stygian race from it millennia long slumber surrounded by freaking huge snake the party decides to break from habit and not blindly charge in the front door and instead, aided by a summoned Earth elemental we tunnel below the alter. The priestess is dropped through the floor to where the party awaits with baited breath and honed steel. Collapsing the tunnels behind us we hide in a pocket of stone under the city while we patch ourselves up and await backfire affects to fade while on the surface the monsoon storms rage.

Day 179

Fleeing with the artefact the party makes good its escape and rendezvous’ with the army at Sunpeak and detail them to proceed into Ip Kur Kush to complete the genocide of the Stygian’s before they can reanimate too many more of their race.

Day 183-228

With sub commander Mustafa’s badly mauled company as an escort we retrace our steps towards Anghamabad with the artefact only to be met halfway by the Queen and the surviving Kublai who are fleeing the destruction of the capital and the other cities of the empire. The remnants of the once mighty Kublai people are being escorted by an expeditionary force of newly awoken Dwarves from the northern reaches and together they are headed for Hamadan the last surviving outpost of humanity.

The dwarves control a giant self-propelled cart possibly a similar technology to the ship although we are not given the chance to explore or study it in anything but the most cursory manner. We are informed by her majesty that the ship is head to an anchorage half way around the continent. Given the limited window of opportunity to make the transition we depart via travel magic’s immediately.

Day 229-352

The party spends the next three months racing across the wasteland avoiding the local wildlife as much as possible barely making the rendezvous in time to board the ship for the transfer back to Alusia.

Day 353-361

An uneventful week of sun, food and pampering aboard ship sees us back into Seagate in time for the Guild meeting.

After a year of living dangerously we are finally…….

Home.

Loot

To be confirmed:

Weapons and items from king and queen of Jelling.

Arden garbs a Headdress that has some type of Heroism effect and a Circlet that increases or channels aggression.

Merco snaps up a Rk 10 Weaponsmithed dagger and two Sabres made out of a material which does not inhibit casting.

Sin replaces her apprentice level weapon for Rk 10 true silvered paired falchions and a veiled headdress of pearls and silver chain.

Malcolm changes into a master ranked suit of slivered splint mail and finds a masterwork two handed Silvered Falchion that handles like a hand and a half.

Boris finds two rings one which increases spell casting (+20BC, prepare twice cast thrice), and one which reads the Hearts of Men.

Six pounds of gold and random gems for ressurecting Kris.

200,000 true silver gineas from minister of trade for escorting caravan.

x3 Long guns (Jesielle’s) x2 chain guns A mummified child x10 amulets or charms x2 pistols a magic robe with some sort of active camouflage effect An eye And a dozen skull knives.

Mana dust and crystals.

Desert garb and powder/device? that purified urine for drinking.

Stygian preistess' Gown staff amulet rings dagger etc.