ZEITGEIST Tizbiz Zeitgeist Campaign - Page 17
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  1. #161

    Knights of Risur

    As we now know that the ritual will be performed in the late afternoon, we try to save our strength as well as we can while still keeping Borne occupied. After some long, straining hours, we finally manage to lead Borne to the sea north of Cloudwood.

    (Tiz told us that there are quite a few described paths Borne could have taken through the city and that some of them involve more or less casualties. We, on the other hand, thought that the whole idea of bringing Borne down to Flint central would be ludicrous, even if we managed to lead him through Stanfield canal. Getting him to the northern shore is much less risky, even if the colossus would take a longer path. But okay, not everyone can easily teleport to the King and back)

    Thankfully, the whole fleet managed to arrive in time as well and it seems like one of the Danoran ships, the Freux Rouge, decided to help as well. Among the risuri ships are the Impossible, the Coaltongue, the Khalandurrin, the Roscommon and the Aurora, which is also the commanding vessel and manned by Dawkins and his crew.

    We head to the Coaltongue to discuss the final plan: Carlyle will try to get close to Borne and use Sechim's acids to weaken the hull of the colossus. He'll then place the blockbuster bomb there and set it up, then teleport to safety. After the explosion, the Coaltongue will fire at any hole the bomb might have opened.

    There is just one problem with this plan: It appears that the captain of the Coaltongue died to a heart-attack this morning and so the main ship in our plan is without a commander. Knowing the basics on how to command a ship from her time with Dawkins, Auryn volunteers to be interim captain despite her general exhaustion.

    With everything else set up properly, Flying Spark, Auryn and Margit cast all their available protective magic on Carlyle and he proceeds to fly towards Borne with the blockbuster bomb. He then uses Sechim's acids and detonates the bomb at one weaker looking spot on Borne's back, teleporting underneath the ocean's surface in the very same moment.

    (And thus the Carlyle-maneuver was born: Whenever there is an explosive object about to detonate, there will be some sort of deva-teleport involved.)


    We quickly pick up a soaked and pretty shaken Carlyle and try to assess the damage the explosion has caused. Which is unfortunately much smaller than we had hoped. The Coaltongue then tries to fire at the very same spot, but Borne turns away the very last moment so we cannot shoot the magical laser cannon at him. Carlyle heads to the cannoneers who man the side cannons and helps them aim at the spot, but they do little harm. Meanwhile, King Aodhan starts his ritual on deck where he is protected by Harkover Lee, Margit and Flying Spark.

    Borne realizes the sudden attack on him and tries to catch the Coaltongue in retaliation. The ship manages to escape last second, but the colossus damages one of the steam drives, limiting our maneuverability to a great degree. There's also witchoil dripping from his arm which lands on deck, and then manifests in form of slimes which threaten to attack the King. So Margit and Flying Spark pick up the fight with the witchoil blobs while we signal the impossible to lure Borne away to give us some pause.

    Carlyle runs to the engine room to help the mechanics repair the damaged drive while Captain Smith successfully uses the Impossible as bait for Borne. Thankfully, he also tries to get him into firing range of our main cannon, even if that means risking his own ship. Borne slaps the Impossible and the ship's wooden hull cracks, even if it retains its maneuverability. We use this chance to fire our main cannon at the weakened spot and this time we do get a reaction as Borne cries out in pain and witchoil starts dripping from his back.

    We all cover our ears at first as Borne's cry is pretty terrifying, but then get back to action as soon as we realize that Borne is – understandable – angry. He also realizes that it is “ships” that caused his pain, so he tries to slam the Coaltongue. Fortunately, we get the engines to full functionality in time and drive past him before he can smash the ship to pieces.

    (I imagined Borne could easily do some Pacific Rim-like “shipping” with the Coaltongue, so... better get away before he uses our ship as a club against the other ships)

    Auryn seems to get accustomed to the ship's command and directs a full turn followed by another shot of the cannon. This one hits the mark again and Borne again utters an agonized cry. Seeing Borne in pain almost tears her apart, but we also realize that shooting him is the best option if we want the ritual to succeed. So we perform our hit and run maneuvers again and again, even if we know that all we can do is causing pain and slowing Borne for the moment.

    Then, the deck of the Coaltongue flashes in a vibrant green as King Aodhan completes his ritual. Waves of dreaming energy emerge from the Coaltongue. They seem to wrap around Borne and then the colossus vanishes. The ships have to fight a sudden current as the ocean reclaims the space that has been previously inhabited by Borne. There is a moment of silence and then – cheers from all around us.

    We all meet again on deck where King Aodhan stands groggy but triumphant next to his Principal Minister. We almost have to drag ourselves towards the King to congratulate him on the ritual's success. Especially Auryn is beyond drained and so she excuses herself in advance as she cannot possibly stand up straight any longer. Aodhan looks at us for a moment, seeming completely satisfied.

    “Then kneel down, both of you.”

    We do as we're told and almost fall to our knees. To our surprise, Aodhan then draws his sword and touches our shoulders with the tip of his sword.

    “For your bravery, your courage, your exceptional sense of duty and your unending loyalty to the crown and all of Risur, you shall henceforth be knights of Risur.”

    He then asks the newly knighted Dame Auryn and Sir Gabriel Carlyle to rise again and the marine soldiers surrounding us go wild with their cheers of applause. Auryn is taken by surprise and while she is deeply honored, she also insists that they were just doing their duty. Carlyle on the other hand is totally awestruck and so deeply moved that small tears form in his eyes. He needs quite the moment to realize what just happened before he can also thank his King for this great honor.

    (Yeah, this was basically one of Carlyle's dreams that just came true. Being elevated to the higher society and receiving a small title. Not that he'd ever tried to work towards it. That would be too daring for him)


    We then reorganize the fleet and sail back to Flint harbor. It appears that the ship blockade has been dissolved and the people of Flint gathered at the docks to celebrate the banishment of the colossus that threatened them all. However, we can see smoke rising up from what appears to be Bosun Strand, so we guess that there has been panic, turmoil and plundering. Once we are back on solid ground, our groups split up for the moment as we head back to the RHC to report to Delft while the King plus Harkover Lee return to the Aurum.

    We take the talks as an opportunity to rest for a while and get our thoughts sorted. Delft congratulates us on our new title, but it appears that Carlyle is a bit uncomfortable once Delft brings up the subject. We also tell Delft about Col. Harlock and that our initial suspect was quite correct. Delft wants to make sure that the guy is put under arrest as soon as possible and we call for Team B to help us gather evidence in the ruins of the Bleak Gate complex. This needs to be done as soon as possible as we know that Nicodemus is quick to act as well.

    In the complex we manage to rescue and arrest Augst, but do not find any trace of Kell. We do hope that he's been crushed and buried underneath tons of debris though. We also arrest the surviving mercenaries and engineers and bring them all to the RHC. We also collect all research notes, designs and blueprints.

    (yeah, our cells must have been quite crowded these days. We tend to arrest in a Monty Haull style. You never know who might have some crucial information)

    As we also didn't find the corpse of Leone Quintal, Carlyle heads to the pool of witchoil and tries to make contact with his spirit. There are a lot of interferences due to the sheer mass of souls that were involved in fueling the witchoil, but he manages to get Leone after a while. To Carlyle's surprise, the metal mage isn't really antagonistic or vengeful, even if he regrets that the end came too soon for him. He also enjoyed playing cat and mouse with the RHC and is sorry for himself that it had to end that way. Despite this, Leone is quite satisfied that he had the honor to work on something truly magnificent and that his name and work will live on for all eternity. He also truly believes that his work will lead to good deeds and a brighter future in the end, so no need for bad feelings.

    Carlyle tries to goad Leone as he tells him that while the Colossus is free, he has been banished and therefore no one will know about his magnificent work at all. But he might still regain immortality of some sort as he himself is immortal and could remember Leone and his work for all eternity. Leone lauds him for this clever trap, but he doesn't fall for it. But he does tell him about his reverence for Kasvarina and his hatred for Grappa who threatened to destroy that burning will and brilliant mind. Carlyle tries to comfort the spirit as he tells Leone that he's sure Kasvarina's memories will return in time. He also offers him to bring the Matriarch a last message from her most faithful disciple. Leone laughs again and asks him to tell her that he kept his secrets and took them to his grave.

    Last but not least, Carlyle promises Leone that his wine and cheese won't collect dust in the forsaken complex as he knows “somebody” who knows how to appreciate high quality goods. Leone's spirit sighs for a moment and returns that he'd have loved to share a glass with such a worthy adversary.

    (Hah, now he's acting all civilized and noble. He didn't show much civility when he tried to blow us, Recklinghausen and Lynn up. But maybe he's a tiny bit grateful that Carlyle dragged him out of this witchoil sea where he'd have spent his eternity next to people whose souls he tortured.

    Also kudos to Carlyle that he was able to stay this calm and even friendly when facing one of our worst enemies. Guess things change once he ceases to pose a threat.)


    After letting Leone slip to the afterlife, Carlyle realizes that there are still countless souls trapped within the remaining witchoil who are unable to move on due to the witches' (and the Obscurati's?) foul rituals. As he cannot really let them stay trapped there – he respects the dead as much as the living – he sits down next to the pool and opens up his self. This way he acts as a conduit for the lost spirits to guide them to their afterlife.

    He keeps up this state for quite a while, but it utterly drains him until he's about to lose himself in the process. Auryn realizes that something isn't right with her partner, so she takes him by his shoulders, calls his name and shakes him softly. Fortunately, Carlyle opens his eyes again after her intervention although he's quite absent-minded for the moment. When he comes back to his senses, he explains to her what he was trying to do.

    “There are so many of them. Lost. Hopeless. Confused. And I know I can help them. I simply have to help them.”

    “You cannot help them if you let yourself become trapped there, too. So please, Gabriel, get some rest before giving it another try, okay?”

    Carlyle nods in agreement before stating that he'll definitely try to find a way to eventually free every single soul trapped in there. Auryn is a bit surprised about this development, but she's quite glad that he found a new project for the future. On our way back home, Carlyle reminisces a bit about the man who helped him understand his “gift” of connecting with the dead, a guy named Jasper Smith who's called Smithee by everyone who knows him better. He muses that maybe Smithee could support him on this mission, so he might just ask him the next day.
    XP RangerWickett, Tizbiz gave XP for this post

  2. #162
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    Congratulations to Sir Carlyle and Dame Auryn.

    (No title for Flying Spark? Pfft!)

  3. #163
    hmm... I honestly don't know if Aodhan got something special for our flying friend. But maybe that'd made Harkover Lee even more jealous

  4. #164

    Saying goodbye to the King

    After a long and restful night, we meet again at the RHC to discuss our findings. The raid on the military academy didn't bring any new information or suspects as Col. Harlock has gone missing. So the only evidence the teams could find is that Harlock hired personnel (Mercenaries and engineers) for a secret project of the government of Risur. A story that sounds all too familiar. We do not find any direct connection to the Obscurati, but there has been a transfer of money from the treasury and mayor Macbannin.

    We ask the corresponding team to do some further research on other possible contacts of Harlock as there might be more connections besides Macbannin and Kell's offshore companies.

    We also question the three sons of Grappa who had surrendered after Borne's awakening. They don't know much, but mention a certain Tinker Oddcog who also worked on the project. We get that this Tinker might be the man behind a strange voice we heard before all hell broke loose in the project room, but also guess that he might have gone into hiding. They didn't really see Kasvarina that much and can only tell that she is a clever and determined woman. They didn't see a chain smoking guy either, but that might be due to the fact that they were busy studying with “father”.

    Regarding Grappa, they don't know how to fix him either, but they do hope that he'll get well eventually. So we ask Serena and Justin Rollins to repair the Grappa-golem all over again.

    Augst is the next suspect on our list, but he doesn't wish to talk about anything. We remind him that, as it is now, he's the highest ranking member of the Kell guild in our custody. So he'll definitely be the one who's going to lose his head in the most spectacular and public way of them all.

    (So yeah, we basically broke our promise to bring Kell to justice. He's most certainly dead, but being crushed by debris isn't really the same as being judged and punished in a proper legal process.

    Once could almost feel sorry for Augst. But "get rich or die trying" might get you killed in the end...)


    Next, we head to the Aurum to brief King Aodhan about all the information we could gather so far. We tell both King and Principal Minister that we suspect that Kell was crushed by falling debris in the Bleak Gate complex and that the Obs got him mechanized in some way. We also tell them that it were Grappa, Leone Quintal and most likely Kasvarina Varal who were the masterminds behind the construction of Borne, even if we don't know what part Kasvarina might have played as the Matriarch is suffering from severe amnesia. Auryn also discusses the possibility that her ancestor could have been possessed by the Nicodemus spirit as she's quite certain that no eladrin Matriarch would endanger thousands of innocents.

    (And she also doesn't want to induce any thoughts that could lead to persecuting Kasvarina. First, she wants to sort out Kasvarina's story on her own as she's her family and second, she doesn't want to risk her diplomatic endeavours regarding Elfaivar and Risur. And having her ancestor be an Obscurati mastermind and therefore enemy of Risur wouldn't play in her favors)

    These three must have somehow managed to convince Macbannin that they were working for a super secret government project for the King which is why the mayor found some creative ways of funding the project. To further stress out that Kasvarina is most certainly not an enemy of Flint or Risur, we explain that Borne might have been built here because Flint might have been the only place where the Bleak Gate is accessible and both magic and technology are abundant. Also, Borne's goal is most likely “elsewhere”, even if we don't know where that might be.

    We also discuss our plan of cleaning up all that remains of the corruption and connection between the treasury and the Kell guild. Then we suggest founding an anti-corruption office which has the authority to check any suspicious-looking activities of the other offices in Flint so that a catastrophe like Borne and the Obs operations cannot be repeated.

    Regarding the Danorans, King Aodhan explains that he's thankful for their help in the fight against Borne and we encourage him to show this gratitude publicly. He still cannot make any statements about future negotiations yet and also isn't really settled about his stance towards Lya and his engagement. All he knows is that Han and Lya Jierre left aboard the Lux Profectusque and safely escaped before the naval combat started. He hopes to find a new date to continue the peace talks and we also don't see any reason why the diplomatic endeavors should end prematurely. Carlyle stresses out that he had the opportunity to talk to Lya before she left and he told her about the colossus being an Obscurati project. This way he hopes to make her rethink her stance towards the “oh so benevolent” organization.

    He then switches subjects to the situation on Cauldron Hill and discusses the restless spirits, the souls who are still trapped in witchoil and the still vacant mayor's office. Carlyle explains that the evil of the hill will never be truly gone and Flint will never be safe as long as there are restless souls haunting the area. Souls that mostly stem from the era of the witches' coven, but also additional souls that were used in the Obscurati's witchoil experiments. He offers himself to act as a conduit for these souls, to frequently spend time on Cauldron Hill to seek and release the trapped souls.

    King Aodhan thinks that this is a noble goal, but he's pretty sure that this is work for more than a single human's lifetime. Carlyle agrees and adds that while he does have lots of time to share on freeing the spirits, he'd like to found a society of spiritually sensitive people who are willing to help, too. He then suggests to appoint his mentor, Jasper Smith, as leader of this society. A wise man who'd also be a perfect candidate for mayor of the nettles, he adds. He hasn't asked Smithee yet though. The King agrees to this plan and asks Carlyle to recruit this mysterious Smith so that he can eventually interview him personally.

    Aodhan would then like to thank us for all we've done for him in these last weeks. He also hopes that we'll continue our good work as we turned out to be invaluable for the RHC, Flint and all of Risur. We promise to always support our King, even if Auryn hints that she'd prefer to be assigned to operations abroad. She explains that Flint has lots of capable agents, like Sir Gabriel Carlyle, so she could use her talent elsewhere. Carlyle is pretty much thrown into cold water by this revelation as he fears that this means they'd have to part ways.

    King Aodhan realizes that the two constables aren't really d'accord this time, so he tries to console Carlyle by saying that he'd probably need them both on his future peace talks with the Danorans. He explains that we're pretty much the most diplomatic agents he's ever heard of, so even administrative desk jobs may be below our capabilities. He then basically orders us to take some time to relax and refresh our energy as we most certainly didn't have any true vacation for years.

    We agree that this might be quite the plan as we both wanted to visit Elfaivar and Auryn's family for quite a while. This way we could maybe gather more information about Kasvarina and her past as the Matriarch could be the key to all our Obscurati questions. Even if we hope that Asrabey and the Unseen might find a cure for her amnesia in time.

    Aodhan sighs quietly and then says that this isn't exactly what he meant when he was talking about “vacations”, but who's he to make us stop doing research anyway. He then says goodbye to both of us with a firm handshake and a gallant kiss on Auryn's hand.

    (Aodhan can be so sweet and down to earth. He's also much more empathetic to both constable's personalities than most other NPC. This might be one of the reasons why Auryn started preferring to directly speak with Aodhan instead of using the proper chain of command via Delft. Seriously, our boss is so oblivious from time to time.)

    Carlyle then travels to Smithee's “office” to talk about Cauldron Hill. He explains that he could barely stand being close to these tortured souls and that something has to be done to help them. He also mentions the large pool of witchoild and its soul-consuming capacities. Smith can totally understand Carlyle's need to help those people, but he's a bit reluctant as his “gift” is a heavy burden and he had to flee more than once because people couldn't understand it. He's also afraid of being in the spotlight and totally hates doing paperwork. And being a mayor would mean lots and lots of paperwork.

    Carlyle tries to encourage Smithee by telling him that he's the best mentor he could imagine when it comes to spirits and the supernatural. Regarding his fear of paperwork, he explains that a mayor would have underlings and clerks who could manage all the administrative tasks for him so that his main focus would be the living and dead people in the Nettles and on Cauldron Hill. Carlyle stresses out that the final say in this matter would be his own, so he simply asks him to think about the proposal and make a call once he's decided.

    Auryn takes the time to visit the Dawkins again. She tells Morris and Milena that she'll most certainly be gone for a while as she'd like to visit her family. She also leaves one message for Milena, an essay about a new form of government for the Cloudwood as they'll surely need a replacement for the deceased Mayor Idylls.

    (Auryn thought Idylls was pretty incompetent, but she also realized that the traditional mayor system wouldn't really work in a “district” like Cloudwood. She also read the many proposals of Miller's scrolls they'd found in the Crypta, so she had lots of ideas to choose from. So here's what she wrote:

    “My dearest friend Milena,

    I write these letters to you because I'm getting more and more concerned about the situation in our city. For many years, the governor and the mayors have been working hand in hand and their government has been pretty communal and focused on the needs of their citizens. But times change and I fear that Flint might break apart in the near future unless things change for the better. Industrialization changed much for Flint and put an end to conventions that were natural in the past. Simple men are lured by easy gold. And the city grows, almost without any control, leading to lots and lots of problems.

    I didn't have the chance to meet many mayors personally, but all those I met were terribly short-sighted. Macbannin, Mayor of the Nettles, had a good heart, but he was easy to manipulate and he ultimately died during the great quake. Until this day, the people of the Nettles, simple men and women, workers, left to fend for themselves. They lack a counselor to listen to their sorrows. The mayor of North Shore, Aaron Choir, only cares for his own prestige and looks down upon the “simple people”, even upon the RHC. The Mayor of Cloudwood, Doyle Idylls, didn’t even know what was happening in his own district and he tried to separate himself from the brigand problem and the fey by hiding in his estate. The mayor of Parity Lake, Rosa Gohins, didn't really care about the massive reports of broken worker's rights in her own district and the fact that many of the workers were brutalized by the very police force that should protect them from abuse. She also couldn't bring herself to talk or listen to the families of the protesting workers.

    You see, this city is in a pretty dire state. And I know that these circumstances cannot simply be changed overnight. Still, I recently stumbled across a very interesting albeit older text which gave me an idea. Who doesn't know the saying that Cloudwood is ungovernable? I propose the opposite. Cloudwood is governable indeed, even if not in the traditional form of flinter district government. As we both know, Cloudwood is composed of separate communities, farms and villages. Which is why a centralized form of government is set up to fail from the start. Still, the people of Cloudwood need a say in all of Flint and the district cannot be uncoupled from the rest of the city and left on its own. So what I propose is a council for the district of Cloudwood where all various groups of Cloudwood can participate and everyone can feel represented:

    (she inserts an elaborate organigram consisting of all known communities and societies of Cloudwood which is inspired by one of Miller's proposals)

    As you see, this proposal is highly unconventional as it includes Woodman's brigands and the druid circle. Still both groups play a central role in defending Cloudwood's citizens from rivaling elements of crime and also in communication with the local Fey. But of course, this council will need a speaker who collects all of the citizen's issues and who communicates with the governor. Only this it can be ensured that communication between the very top and the simple folk can be guaranteed. Maybe this experiment could be a model for other districts, a nod to the fact that every district has its own problems and its own social structure. Maybe it is time that the means of organization and government should be adapted to the needs of the citizens and not the other way round? Because if there was a thing like the “perfect government”, then Miller most certainly wouldn't have developed so many different models of an “ideal society”.

    Maybe the governor could warm up to conduct such an experiment. He doesn't have much to lose after all besides the next incompetent mayor.

    Your loving friend

    Auryn

    ---

    And yeah, the overall situation in Flint was also part of Auryn's frustration. She and Carlyle have worked time and again to improve matters for the workers and had to struggle with so many incompetent or disinterested people who cared for little more than themselves. This was basically her last try to reallystructurally change something for the better. )
    XP Tormyr, Tizbiz, RangerWickett gave XP for this post

  5. #165
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    I feel surprisingly heartened by seeing PCs working not just to 'win the adventure' but also help build a better society.

  6. #166

    Pontifex

    Simply winning the adventure is seldom our goal (okay, it kind of was in Rappan Athuk...).

    But these societal efforts came quite naturally after Thames Grimsley and adventure 2. Auryn was raised to be a responsible leader and bit by bit adopted the populace of Flint to be something she cared for.

    Carlyle on the other hand was one who helped to raise responsible "leaders" via the Vantrys children and I guess he got infected by Auryn's activism (and maybe his disgust for incompetent people in positions of power) as well.

    The two projects they are starting at the end of adventure 5 are actually quite large-scale in terms of the amount of time needed to bring them to fruition and I don't know if the world as we know it will end before they can come to life. (Damn you, Ashima-Shimtu!)

    ---

    After leaving her friends, Auryn meets with Carlyle in his home to share a cup of tea. As she expected from his reaction before, he sounds a bit let down when he asks her if she really wishes to leave Flint behind (and, in consequence, him as well).

    Auryn explains that she doesn’t really wish to leave, but she starts feeling the very same constrictions that stopped her from growing when she was still in Pallita, the enclave of her mother. She feels as if she's struggling in vain to change things for the better and failing to achieve anything. In contrast, she didn't have this feeling at all when she was on her mission on the Avery Coast railway. There, she could help people like Damata Griento or Isobel and even convince Obscurati agents to reconsider their allegations. And this is the sole reason why she'd like to continue working abroad – still being an RHC agent, but not assigned to Flint.

    Carlyle then asks her why she feels this desperate need for “growth” and Auryn takes a deep breath in response.

    “You once told me that you believe in fate. And it turns out I do, too. Especially after all that happened over the course of the last weeks. We knew the prophecies of Nevard and still couldn't stop Borne from erupting from the Bleak Gate. Ekossigan, a Fey Lord, knew about the dangers, but he was doomed to fail as he already foresaw the future. You see, fate is inevitable for us regular people. Even for mighty Fey. But I cannot, I must not accept that. Which is why I have to grow stronger, much stronger, until I'm strong enough to defeat fate. Because I cannot stand the thought that you and I might bring doom to this world.”

    Carlyle nods slowly and thinks about her words for quite a while. He then asks her to not judge herself too harshly. Because she did improve the situation for the workers of Parity Lake and managed to avert what could have been a total catastrophe on Cauldron Hill twice, even if Nevard's visions came true after all. Borne was so close to completion that Grappa's presence wasn't really the catalyst to his awakening and the colossus showing emotion and a sense of family could be something positive, something to build upon in the future. And regarding Ashima-Shimtu, he insists that she is an ancient demoness and will most likely have her own reasons for telling us her vague prophecies. So it may very well be that her prophecy was meant to convince Auryn to stop pursuing her goals.

    Auryn thanks Carlyle for his encouragement, but insists that most of their accomplishments have been his doing, not hers. She's but one of many agents and one of many possible partners of him while Carlyle is someone who has been part of Flint for five centuries. She adds that he's incredibly competent and confident which is why he's able to master every task with ease while she fears she won't be able to keep pace with him.

    Carlyle is a bit amused by her statement as he tells Auryn that his life had been pretty static for hundreds of years. Yes, he was able to protect the Vantrys family from the shadows, but he'd never used magic before or even remotely understood that divine spark inside him. He then adds that it was only because of her and her help that he was able to learn these things, to embrace what he tried to shut off because he feared losing control.

    “You know, if there is something I'd call my 'true potential',then I'm pretty sure I can only unlock it with you by my side. Without you, I'm static and limited. And yes, you're right that I learned and mastered many arts over the course of the last year, but there is so much I can not do. First, you're really clever and think outside the box. And not only do you make people talk, you also somehow reach their hearts and make them think. Make the reconsider. As for me, I can only say that the last year has been the best of my life and I'd be glad if we could continue this journey together.”

    Auryn is pretty much surprised by this confession as she'd regularly thought to have pushed Carlyle too far into a direction he wasn't comfortable with. She agrees that their teamwork is exceptional and also that their relationship is very important to her. She also cares so deeply for him that she also confesses that she's observed him over the course of the last month. This way she realized that Flint and especially the society of Flint mean very much to him. So much that it might be one of his biggest wishes to become part of the high society as a true nobleman. A wish that cannot come true in Elfaivar.

    She then adds that she's never seen Carlyle as happy as he was when he attended the peace conference as an invited guest and even moreso when he was knighted by King Aodhan. Both are honors he truly earned and that he should be proud of. Auryn then says that seeing him truly happy touched herself as well and she came to the conclusion that dragging Carlyle away from Flint would be egotistical and cruel.

    “I know that you feel a sense of duty when it comes to me and my people. But you know, you've earned the right to be happy and lead the life you dream of. And I fear I cannot offer you these dreams. I am no proper risuri lady. I am an eladrin hitiko. And you've earned to find happiness with a lady of your society someday.”

    Carlyle utters a soft and strangely melancholic laugh and then shakes his head.

    “But I don't seek the company of a risuri lady. The time we'd have together would be so short and I'd only see her grow old and die while I stay the same. And you are more than just a proper lady. You embody nobility, strength, elegance, compassion and wit. You are also a link between Elfaivar and Risur, at home in both societies. And this should be an asset, not a handicap. So I asked myself: Why should an enclave be limited to the Elfaivaran territory? Why should it not be possible to found one on risuri soil? Be the bridge you wish to be and connect Risur and Elfaivar.”

    Now it is Auryn who laughs at Carlyle's proposal. She congratulates him on finally beginning to warm up to that “unconventional way of thinking” and agrees that his idea is quite genius. Both discuss the plan for a while and find little flaw in it: Risur's closeness to the dreaming and its ties to the Unseen are an ideal basis for an eladrin community. The enclave could be a home away from home for those eladrin who live in the diaspora, be that refugees like Gale and Isobel, ancient veterans like the mercenary company or established families of Flint. It could also help to get other risuri interested in elfaivaran culture and traditions, therefore strengthening the position of her people in risuri politics. And it would be open to all who'd like to live there and accept her rules.

    Regarding Auryn's other worries about a future family, he states that he still believes that them meeting was always meant to be and he adds that he found another piece to that puzzle. For he has reason to believe that should they decide to eventually marry, they'd have at least three children. Auryn is a bit surprised by Carlyle's confidence as there is really no precedence that could support his hypothesis. He grins knowingly in return and then presents a mummified monkey paw.

    “You know what this is?”

    Auryn's eyes go wide as she takes a closer – magical – look at the trinket.

    “This is a monkey paw. A relic of the old times. I've heard legends where people found it and had the strangest adventures. According to legend it grants its owner three wishes. Something that's seemingly impossible.”

    “Exactly. I saw it among the vaults, picked it up and found myself unable to get rid of it. So I examined it and came to the conclusion that this has to be the very same artifact.”

    “And you'd use your wishes for... us? You know that, according to legend, each wish comes with a terrible curse?”

    “I don't care about the curses. Curses can be broken. I'm sure I can handle that after what happened with Borne.”

    Auryn thanks him with a trusting smile. She then says she's very thankful for Carlyle's counsel and encouragement and adds that, considering all of what he said, she will try to give the enclave of Flint a chance. Still the King and governor will have the final say in this matter as she cannot simply annex risuri soil as her own. Also, her family needs to know about the plan and approve or at least tolerate it. Which is why they'd really need to go to Elfaivar next.

    (I had completely forgotten about the monkey paw. Tiz sometimes uses randomly generated treasure for whole vaults and he didn't realize that this artifact actually granted wishes. Carlyle's player asked me if he could have it and as I'm usually bad at deciding when to use such big guns as wishes, I didn't object.

    Now he immediately knew a way to use the wishes without breaking the game, but Carlyle himself didn't want to put any pressure on Auryn before she could get herself sorted a bit more ("Hey, let's have three kids" after their exciting but ultimately strange night in Nalaam and Auryn's confession to Ashima-Shimtu would have been really weird).

    He admitted that he was tempted to use a wish on Borne, but we were both pretty sure that the colossus' magic immunity would extend to “impossible magic” as well. So far, he's totally committed to use them solely for the purpose of eventually founding a family. Which is totally adorable, especially in the context of trying to support Auryn through her struggles and also shows that he doesn't wish to be left alone again. But on the other hand he's also pretty bad at showing his feelings to the point where Auryn still isn't sure whether he's just trying to do her a favor again and again.

    Regarding her own situation, she was totally sold on the idea of being unable to advance in Flint and she had planned to use the foreign ops to find other means of gaining power. She was basically on the brink of losing her hope for Elfaivar after what she had learned from both Gale and Asrabey, and Elfaivar was basically all that she'd been living for for most of her life. She stubbornly refused to give up – she *is* Kasvarina's descendant after all – and decided to find salvation in the pursuit of more personal power. Especially once she got the impression that Carlyle started to become larger than life. But he had the advantage of inheriting a part of Srasama's divinity, so how could she possibly be able to keep up with that?

    All while these mysterious prophecy of “doom” that she and Carlyle would bring still hung around somewhere like a silent threat. Well... he managed to talk her out of going separate ways and take a look at the situation in Elfaivar before completely abandoning her course. And we'll see how that went pretty soon

    Shortly after this episode I found one piece of music that kind of described her journey through these days quite well. Even if it is a pretty liberal translation from the original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9055dqYAU0
    (seriously, her channel is damn good if you are a fan of anime openings/endings)

    As for a short review on adventure 5: Total chaos! In a positive way. There was so much stuff going on which isn't all connected to the Obs and the stakes were raised again and again.

    We pretty obviously didn't use the anti-Kell-Minigame as we started our actions against them pretty prematurely and realized that we were far more effective and protective if we just used clever stealth and hit&run tactics instead of relying on our police force. Blame it on pathfinder and the open ended power scale in combination with our efforts to keep the common troops safe.

    We did use team B a bit as we couldn't really be everywhere and they were quite fun to play. Bringing them down took us some time and we were a bit disappointed in the end that we couldn't drag Kell to Starke. He lost his wife to Kell's thugs after all.

    I also really love the use of recurring characters like Asrabey, Lya, Fordren or the more obvious Morgan Cippiano, Dawkins, King Aodhan and Harkover Lee. Especially as we're able to let these relationships grow organically. Aodhan is maybe our overall favorite while Cippiano still has his plusses on Caryle's side while Auryn is totally intrigued by Lee and has a sweet spot for the hot-blooded dreadnaught.

    Kasvarina remains a big mystery though and I'm really looking forward to seeing her full story once we'll get there. I got the feeling that she'd be totally OP had she full knowledge of her abilities. Which is why she's forcefully benched for now.

    Oh and I really loved the dinner party and diplomacy sections. I hope that we were at least a bit able to make an impression on Lya over this adventure and the next one. We also didn't expect Borne as the colossus that he was – my previous “giant mech with a laser gun” was more or less a joke – because I honestly couldn't think that we'd see something like the Coaltongue colossus too soon.)
    XP RangerWickett, Tizbiz gave XP for this post

  7. #167
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    I always enjoy these heartfelt conversations between you two. Thanks for the commentary on the adventure overall. And my commendations to your GM for making the NPCs appropriately engaging.
    XP Lylandra gave XP for this post

  8. #168

    The ghoul nation of Ashanti

    Before we travel to Elfaivar, Auryn needs to know about Carlyle's role in the Second war as she doesn't wish to be surprised by any accusation. So she asks him about the worst deeds the eladrin could rightfully accuse him of. Carlyle explains that he was more or less simply a combatant in the recon squad and got chosen to serve there due to his abilities to move quietly and unseen. He was also found to be a good judge of truths and falsehoods, so he participated in questioning prisoners, trying to use his skills to keep the level of physical force as low as possible. He also mentions that there were others who enjoyed torturing their prisoners, but he always found this abhorrent. All in all he was drafted to fight in a war that he then deemed necessary to defend his homeland.

    Auryn replies that being a soldier in a war isn't really a crime by itself, so she guesses he will be fine. She then transfers her memory of a unique landmark near Pallita to Carlyle so he may teleport the two of them there.

    (He always gets lucky with his teleport rolls. If I remember correctly, we never had a single mis-port so far.)

    We land in the middle of the jungle near an old elfaivaran statue that's overgrown with vines. Knowing her homeland quite well, Auryn then leads Carlyle straight towards a place where the borders between Dreaming and the material world grow thin, then follows a narrow path until the air seems to blur and the reality shifts a bit. After a few more steps, Auryn's mood brightens as two familiar looking figures appear in front of us.

    One of them is a man who's quite muscular for an eladrin. He's wearing leather armor, seems to be armed to the teeth and his head is crowned by lots of thick, ashen-blond braids. The other is far leaner built and more modestly armed. He has striking, emerald eyes and silken black hair that's already turning to a silvery hue at some spots.

    “Kalaren! It is so good to see you again. And Meloreen, what a pleasant surprise!”

    The two men seem pleasantly surprised as well to see Auryn return to Pallita after eight long years. Before they introduce themselves properly, Kalaren hugs Auryn tightly. Auryn then embraces Meloreen who she hasn't seen for almost three decades and the eladrin seems very relieved to see her in such a good state. She then introduces Gabriel Carlyle, her Sahomi, to the two. They react a bit surprised but are pretty sure that there is a tale behind that as well. Auryn then turns to Carlyle.

    “Gabriel, may I introduce you to Kalaren, third husband of Matriarch Galadin, and Meloreen, veteran of the second war. He's the one I told you about.”

    (Yep, he's Auryn's ex. They mutually went separate ways ~30 years ago, so no bad feelings between these two. I was still intrigued about why Meloreen was in Pallita and thought someone would suggest taking him as husband to Auryn, something she clearly wouldn't have objected to before. But he was just... there I guess. Still a sweet opportunity for a reunion.)

    Carlyle greets the two men respectfully, but also makes it clear that he's not there for the hugging. Kalaran laughs a bit.

    “Well then, Gabriel Carlyle, I wouldn't dare deny a Sahomi of my dear Auryn to enter our enclave. Welcome to Pallita!”

    Kalaren then adds that he's also seneschal of Pallita right now as the Matriarch and her other two husbands are currently absent. He explains that they are investigating an unnatural darkness that has manifested nearby Pallita, but they should be back soon. Auryn is intrigued by the fact that this darkness seems troubling enough to warrant her mother and two of her husbands to leave the enclave, so she asks for more information.

    “Actually, it isn't only the Matriarch and her two esteemed husbands, but also a small band of warriors in their company. They left immediately after I told them what I found on my way to Pallita. Necromany of the worst kind, I fear. Severed eladrin heads placed on spikes near the ancient temple city. I didn't dare to exame the place on my own.”

    Meloreen sighs heavily after his revelation as he seems embarrassed by the fact that he's now a guest of Pallita while the others, including his old comrade Thorandil, are going after this darkness. Now this sounds troubling indeed, especially because Meloreen is a veteran and quite the capable warrior. So we decide to go after the small group in case they need help.

    On our way through the jungle we find cadavers of half-eaten animals. A closer look reveals that they weren't eaten by other predators, but by something humanoid. Carlyle's fine nose smells something rotten and this way we're able to follow the culprit's trail to a high tree. To our surprise, a small group of what appears to be undead eladrin seems to be resting on the branches of said tree.

    While we're no experts on undead behavior, we do find “resting” to be an odd activity for them, so we try to greet them in our usual fashion to examine their reaction. One of the ghouls, a guy who calls himself Alarak, returns the greeting. We ask him about his personal state and he explains that he feels an unnatural, insatiable hunger. He also feels drawn towards a place he calls Ashanti, a sanctuary for his kind. We explain that we're from the nearby enclave of Pallita, so we cannot let him or his brethren endanger our citizens. Alarak returns that “our kind” doesn't know about living in the wilderness of the jungle as the enclave citizens are sheltered and weak. He and the other ghouls simply wish to survive and to do so they need food.

    Unfortunately, Alarak's hunger grows too strong after a while and he and the others attack us as they believe we're easy prey. But they're quite wrong and we cannot do anything else but slay them. We then perform a short funeral rite where we deliver their bodies to Srasama's purifying fire.

    With the ghouls' possessions we find a crude map that leads to the ancient temple city, so we assume that the darkness might be the reason behind these ghouls' hunger. We continue our journey towards the city and come across a small farm after a day's travel. There we find signs that someone performed another funeral and more signs that a small group has rested here not too long ago. As these people might be Galadin's company, we follow their trails until we reach the outskirts of the temple city.

    At first glance, the city seems to be as abandoned as it was when Auryn visited it the last time. Once we take a closer look however, we see erect spears that have been placed in the ground. We also see footsteps and smell the rotten smell of the undead. And last but not least there are occasional signs where the name “ghoul nation of Ahsanti” is written all over them. As we assume that this city might very well be filled with undead, we decide to continue our search for the Matriarch under the veil of an invisibility spell.

    After a few minutes of searching, Auryn is suddenly attacked out of nowhere. Struck by an arrow, she turns around and sees a gruesome sight: Her mother, as well as her husbands Thorandil and Estelar stand in front of her, and they are all ghasts. They call her a traitor who deserves to die and continue to strike her with their weapons and magic.

    Auryn is horrified by this development and tries to call out to the three. She draws her own weapon, ready to defend herself.

    “Stop, please! Return to your senses! I'm not your enemy!”

    Meanwhile, Carlyle is utterly confused by the situation. He tries to make sense of the scene he's witnessing and then hears a quiet, calm voice inside his head:

    “This is not what it seems. Please help my child so she doesn't make a terrible mistake”

    He then calls upon his inner magic to protect himself from evil influences. Now the situation shifts a bit. The ghasts are still there, but they don't spit any more curses at Auryn. Instead, the female ghast speaks words of remorse and grief as she has to put her “cursed undead child” to rest. Now this doesn't make much more sense, but he does believe that someone or something is trying to make Auryn and her family kill each other. So he reveals himself and uses another, more powerful protection spell to shield them all from evil influences.

    He then asks them all to stop fighting as they've all fallen victim to foul magic. As Auryn lowers her weapon, the other three follow as well. And it turns out that both parties perceive the others to be ghasts instead of living people. We assume that this might be a strong curse that effects everyone who enters Ashanti, so we retreat for the moment to dispel the curse and discuss how to proceed further.

    (Tiz almost got me with this one. While I had hoped that Galadin, Thorandil and Estelar were still alive, killing them off would be in his repertoire as DM. So yeah, of course Auryn would be wary and not strike first, but if they'd truly been undead, then she'd had no other choice but release them from their cursed state and become Pallita's next Matriarch. Which... would have put the two PCs in a rather complicated situation.)

    Once the curse is lifted, the three eladrin are quite surprised to see Carlyle as the deva he is. They are even more surprised when Auryn introduces him as her Sahomi and partner. Carlyle courteously calls it an honor to be finally able to meet the Matriarch and her husbands before quickly trying to explain how he, a Risuri, ended up with Auryn. He adds that the divine spark of Srasama is quite influential, so he also feels responsible for both Auryn and the remaining eladrin. Last but not least, it was the voice of Srasama that warned him about the curse of Ashanti, so he thinks this is exactly where she wanted him to be.

    The three eladrin seem satisfied for now and they agree to team up with us to find the source of the curse. We find out that the spears might be responsible for our shifted perception, so we dispel their magic and see that we're able to proceed without being “turned to ghasts” again. We cautiously proceed to enter the city and spot small groups of ghouls every now and then.

    On our way through the city, Carlyle wishes to find out what might have happened here, so he tries to sense the presence of nearby spirits. What he experiences then is quite overwhelming as he hears echoes of thousands of female voices, all crying out as one before falling eerily silent. He realizes that this must have been a vision from the Fall of Srasama when all of the city's women – mostly priestesses – died 500 years ago, but it still shakes him to the core.

    Auryn senses Carlyle's distress, so she quietly takes his hand to comfort him and let him shake off the cruel past. Thorandil takes notice of her gesture and grins happily while whispering to Galadin that their daughter and her Sahomi are quite the pair.

    While we march through the city, we have to slay a lot of ghouls who cannot control their hunger and try to feed on us. After what seems to be an eternity, we finally reach the main temple, a grand pyramid made of stone which is at least partially overgrown with plants. There, we are quite surprised that this temple's entrance is guarded by two ghouls that must have once been ogres. As we're pretty sure that these were no eladrin in life, we confront them and bring them down as well, even if they last much longer than the other ghouls in battle.

    Then, an illusory image of an old eladrin appears in midair. He's surprised that the living managed to enter his city and asks us why we've come to slay his citizens. He explains that all he wanted was to create a sanctuary for his ghouls who are obviously not welcome in other eladrin communities. This way, he also does his part to ensure that their people can survive in the aftermath of the Malice.

    Meanwhile, the ghoul citizens see the illusory man and all kneel down before him as if he was a semi-divine being. Matriarch Galadin explains that this city is very close to the enclave of Pallia, her enclave. This alone would mean too much danger for her people, as the ghouls feel an insatiable hunger for eladrin flesh, but she also cannot let him and his undead defile this holy site any further.

    The man returns that the eladrin people are doomed to die in their current state anyway. Humans already begun to claim their lands, to settle down on eladrin territory and drive away her people. He's certain that his path is the only way for the eladrin to survive and eventually kill the human invaders. As we grow more and more suspicious of the eladrin man's ambitions, we assume that he didn't kindly take in every tragic ghoul but rather created them himself. We also get the feeling that he wishes to use the eladrin ghouls as weapons against the human conquerors and that the curse which afflicted us all could have turned us undead in time as well.

    So Auryn intervenes and adds that there are far less fatal ways of dealing with humans. She calls Risur a positive example of a place where people of all kinds and races can live together while sharing the same rules and rights.

    “Don't try to educate me on these bigoted risuri.” the illusion curses. “They establish their colonies like every other foreign nation, chipping away our ancient homeland. If we don't slay them all, there will be no Elfaivar left for us survivors to inhabit.”

    Auryn is a bit surprised by the eladrin's revelation. She doesn't change her mind though and says that she has the ear of the king or Risur and so he will most likely listen to the troubles of his trusted knight. This visibly enrages the illusory man who calls her a traitor. He then vanishes and the ghouls start attacking us. Fortunately, while they are great in number, they are not really strong in terms of power. The fight ends in a big massacre with lots of ghouls dead on the floor of the temple entrance.

    After combat, we proceed to enter the temple. Inside we find a ritual chamber that had been adorned by several murals depicting eladrin gods and goddesses. Now the murals are lying on the ground, carefully removed and placed on the ground. In the center of the room lies a glass sarcophagus which carries a seemingly sleeping eladrin, the same man we saw in the illusory image.

    Carlyle gets quite nervous in these surroundings, so he decides to check up on suspicious magic inside this room just in case we're about to get surprised by a nasty trap. He doesn't find one though, but what he does find troubles him as much: It appears as if the whole sarcophagus is just another elaborate illusion spell. He also sees a grand source of ever increasing magic in one corner of the inner temple. From the shifting pattern he can deduce that this is the place where the real necromancer must be hiding, so he just tries to hit the right spot blindly in hope to stop the mage's incantation.

    To his and our surprise, he does not only land his strikes but also drops the frail eladrin unconscious in a few seconds. A quick dispel reveals that this is actually the real one who had been hiding under an invisibility spell all the time. Exhaling audibly, he hands the man to the eladrin trio.

    “He's your prisoner now, Matriarch. Do with him as you wish. It is not my place to make judgments here.”

    “Very well, Gabriel Carlyle. And while it pains me to put an end to one of our kind, he leaves me with no other choice. He threatened my enclave. He's responsible for the death of so many of our people. The sentence for his crimes shall be death.”

    She then nods to Thorandil, her first husband and closes her eyes. Thorandil's otherwise relaxed, open and friendly stance and expression seem to shift and change entirely as he lifts his massive curved blade over his head. With a stern, hard and almost bitter voice he exclaims that he's carrying out the sentence of Matriarch Galadin of Pallita before he brings down the blade and beheads the eladrin in one blow.

    He then drags the body of the necromancer outside the temple and raises his voice so that all of Ashanti can hear it.

    “Your leader is dead! This holy site will be defiled no longer! Matriarch Galadin of Pallita claims this land as part of her territory as it has always been. Leave now or suffer the consequences!”

    (It was quite intriguing to see Galadin's reaction of the necromancer's execution put in so much contrast with Auryn's when Carlyle carried out the sentence of the Unseen against Ekossigan.

    Also, ugh, one can feel sorry for Thorandil. He completely abandoned using deadly force after the war of the Malice and embraced his new life as a poet and artist who almost always smiled and spoke in a soft voice. He also wouldn't speak about the war to anyone, including Auryn, and he really really loathes violence. This gave us a glance at the warrior he must have been before the tragedy. But yeah, the threat of the undead was big enough to bring back this side he had shut off)
    XP RangerWickett, Tizbiz gave XP for this post

  9. #169

    One night in Pallita

    The ghouls seem to understand that staying inside the city is both pointless and dangerous and so they scatter one by one. Meanwhile, we take some time to ritually cleanse the temple city and deliver the dead to the purifying flames of Srasama. Fortunately, the smoke alerts the rest of the eladrin squad that got lost when the curse affected them all. These guys can hardly remember what happened, but they are relieved to see that no harm befell their Matriarch and also quite happy to see Auryn return to them in their hour of need.

    When we're about to finish our hallowing rituals, Carlyle gazes over the remains of what must have been a magnificent city in the past. He then sighs deeply and states that he maybe made a mistake when he didn't take all of the ghouls down when he had the chance. He explains that even if some of them are sentient, they and their hunger are still a threat to the eladrin people.

    He then turns to Auryn and asks her to accompany her family on their way back to Pallita while he has some unfinished business he needs to take care of on his own. When she's surprised to hear that, he explains that something inside him is telling him to make sure the citizens of Pallita are safe and he also knows that she might need some time with her closest family to tell them about her new life. Auryn says that she understands, calls him a true guardian of her people and makes him promise he'll return to the enclave in two days.

    On their way back to Pallita, Auryn tells her family all about her journey west and everything she's experienced during these last eight years. She doesn't go into much detail regarding Fordren though and explains that Zahir died a hero's death while trying to protect her from pirates. She adds that she owes Zahir's mother, Zafira, an explanation about what happened to her son. Auryn then goes on to talk about the magnificent and chaotic city of Flint and Galadin is thoroughly impressed when her daughter tells her about the number of people living in the metropolis. She also talks about Risur and the land's connection to the Fey and the Unseen Court which has made living in Risur much more familiar than she had originally thought.

    She then turns the subject to Asrabey and Kasvarina and tells her family about their several meetings with the dreadnaught and also about the rescue of their ancestor who's suffering from amnesia.

    “You actually got along with Asrabey? I always thought him to be too... impulsive for my taste.” Galadin notes while Estelar agrees with a heavy nod.

    Auryn laughs at her mother's statement and agrees as well about Asrabey's impulsivity. She adds that the warrior has a good heart though and seems to like her. Regarding Kasvarina, Galadin doesn't know too much about her and she's also surprised that Auryn actually crossed paths with her. Auryn explains that knowing more about the Matriarch's past and motives might be of utmost importance to them as she might have a huge impact on the future of the world. She also realized that she doesn't know too much about her family's secrets (despite her name) which is why she might need to contact Kaealys, her grandmother.

    Galadin explains that she cannot be of much help indeed as she never saw her in person. But her own mother told her about the ancient Matriarch who was gifted with a will as strong as steel and burning with fire. She managed to gather lots of disciples and followers because of her radiance, but she also had quite the reputation of being dangerous and fearsome. And Kasvarina somehow never found peace and wandered the world restlessly.

    Two days later, the eladrin squad returns to Pallita where they are welcomed back with a big cheer from the other citizens. Carlyle arrives a bit later, seemingly unharmed and strained beyond his normal limits while still radiating with energy. When Auryn asks him about his strange state, he replies that he just feels completely happy and is filled with the thought that he finally did something right. Auryn smiles at him and thanks him for keeping his promise before sending him to the bathhouse as he's all covered in ghoul-gore.

    After a long session in the steam bath, she makes sure that her Sahomi is given a proper room in her mother's house. We're then invited to a family dinner with Galadin and her three husbands. While feasting on eladrin delicacies, we discuss the current state of the outside world, especially as there is a giant colossus running free in the Dreaming. We talk about the possible threat Borne might pose on the enclaves that are so close to the Dreaming and also explain that Kasvarina was involved creating him.

    Auryn then notes that no one ever told her about Launga's death and asks her mother why she kept this a secret from her. Galadin replies that she didn't wish to have secrets, Launga just never mattered in Auryn's education and her own mother never spoke much about her mother's death. Kaealys did tell her that Kasvarina grew dark and distant after the death of her daughter, turning her inner fire to a dark flame.

    Returning to his role as constable, Carlyle mentions the thought that, putting all these pieces together, someone might just have blackmailed Kasvarina to abandon her cause (whatever that may be) and threatened to kill Launga. He explains that Kasvarina sounded like just the woman who would never leave her path even if that might endanger her child. He lays down Leone's description of the Matriarch, which seems to fit in nicely with all the attributes he just heard. Auryn on the other hand mumbles that this sounds all too familiar as she's also set on a course she plans to follow with all of her power and bearing an inner fire is nothing new to her.

    We then ask the four about a person named Miller, but this name rings no bell to any of them. Last but not least, Auryn tells her family how she met Carlyle during her time as an RHC agent. She explains that they are both somehow connected to Srasama and that she's pretty sure the goddess wanted them to walk this road together. Carlyle agrees and tells them about the inner voice he mentioned two days before. This voice, he explains, calls to him occasionally to warn him from danger or to help him separate wrong from right. It also somehow made him care for Auryn and her people.

    Auryn then adds a final, but crucial statement: “During all these times, Gabriel grew from mere colleague to trusted friend to someone I made my Sahomi. He stood by my side, he acted like an esteemed husband would do. So even if this might sound daring for a hitiko, I would eventually marry him.”

    (and this, mom, is how I met my deva

    A more paranoid mother might have tried to lecture her obviously mad daughter about not trusting a man who claims to be destined to be her connection to her long-lost deity. Seriously, were it not for the really obvious signs that their story isn't some lunatic's fever dream and was it not for the fact that Carlyle is the most honest man imaginable towards the eladrin, this would have raised a lot of red flags.

    But yeah, Galadin believes that Auryn usually makes the right decisions.)


    This revelation strikes the four of them like lightning, even if they knew that there was something going on between their daughter and this deva. Galadin blinks heavily and replies that she understand her daughter's needs for companionship and that she's used to having her own mind. But the last thing she wishes for is to see Auryn unhappy. And she's pretty certain that Auryn wishes to become a matriarch someday and continue their bloodline. Something that's only possible with an eladrin by her side as their race can only procreate with their own.

    Practical Kalaren adds that she might just stick to her plan, she'd need just to marry a few more husbands that can provide her with children, problem solved. Estelar doesn't seem too happy about the possibility of seeing his only daughter leave her intended path for glory while Thorandil doesn't mind at all. Auryn then says that she doesn't believe that Srasama let her become connected with Carlyle only to be left to despair in the aftermath.

    “I believe this has been enough ruckus for one evening.” Galadin interjects, ending the discussion prematurely.

    “Gabriel Carlyle, would you mind joining me in my gardens tomorrow morning? There are some plants that I need to tend to.”

    After the feast has ended, Carlyle is led to his room in the Matriarch's house. However, Auryn decides to visit him before he can finally get some sleep. She asks him for a little time in private and offers him to care for his seriously over-strained muscles. Carlyle agrees, even if he's a bit caught off guard when Auryn asks him to remove his shirt.

    She then treats his back with tiger balm (made from tiger lillies, not actual tigers!) and gives him a relaxing massage, she again thanks him for taking care of the ghoul threat. Thinking about it, she assumes that the necromancer might have threatened her whole people's existence in time had he been able to continue his plan. Auryn then tells some anecdotes about her youth and how she learned this massaging technique from Kalaren when she was little and overdid her training regularly.

    Afterward, she leads Carlyle to her own room to show him a little secret of hers. She opens her window and directs him to small climbing steps on the wall someone must have placed there a long time ago. Carlyle is at first a bit worried that criminals might use these as an easy means to enter her room, but Auryn just laughs in response.

    “What criminals? My branch-sisters who'd try to snatch my brooches or my bow?” she says while climbing the wall all the way up to the roof. Carlyle is very much surprised to hear that there is no such thing as true crime in Pallita, but Auryn explains that this enclave consists of family and friends, people who know each other for decades. Visitors are rare as well, and most of them are either distant relatives or acquaintances from times past, so there's little reason for distrust. And if something happened, her mother would enact a swift judgement on anyone who'd violate the laws of Pallita.

    In response, Carlyle states that, in his opinion, it would be highly unusual for someone who came from such a sheltered environment to actually become a person who actively fights crime. Auryn says that the element of crime is indeed something she'd needed to get accustomed to and that the “human world” is so much more dangerous and complicated than her own. But maybe it was this contrast that motivated her to make Flint and Risur a safer place for everyone.

    We then talk a bit about Borne and the dangers he may pose for the enclaves. We discuss the possibility of Borne trying to find back a way to the material plane via overlaps between the Dreaming and the Material which would mean trampling through a few enclaves. We agree that this is something we have to tell to Kaealys as well as the “wandering Matriarch” might be well connected in modern Elfaivar.

    We also talk about the possibility of Nicodemus trying to possess Borne and assume this might have been his plan all along: That he's the one controlling the world by threatening everyone with an unstoppable magic-immune giant. Auryn reminds Carlyle that Borne has a mind of his own, a mind he'll hopefully foster and protect from Ob influences. But we both agree that Borne either has to learn how to control his strength and how to treat “little people” with respect or be brought down.

    The subject then changes to the various colonies that are being established in the lands of Elfaivar. Auryn fears that national conflicts might be transferred to her homeland especially with colonies being close to each other. Also, if this sort of expansion continues, she fears that her people who are only trying to return back to their original strength and population may find themselves in a situation where they have no homeland to inhabit anymore. Especially as Crisillyir and Danor established fast-growing colonies and we all know that they're not really friendly towards the eladrin.

    “With the situation being as it is, I don't know if we'll ever have peace in all of Elfaivar”, Auryn sighs.

    She then points to the myriad of stars lighting up the sky over Pallita and asks herself what a skyseer might see in these constellations right now. Carlyle agrees that the night sky is so much more beautiful without all the smoke and smog. They then share quite some time together watching the stars while Auryn leans he head on Calrlye's.

    (That place on the rooftop was actually her secret training ground and the only other person to discover it had been Zahir.

    Also so much for not being romantic at all. But she'd never call it that way. “It is just the way I like it, so stay by my side and enjoy my company” sounds much more like Auryn.)

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