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Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes; later posts are edited transcripts (posts MWF, update 3/1/23)

I am. I was a player in this world quite a while ago. It is quite a trip to see how things exist in "the present". Especially in the Enclaves- that's where my character was left. Although he might have moved elsewhere being a gray elf.

I'm a little disappointed in that I haven't seen any mention of the Courts of Chaos, but they're either located on a different continent or burned themselves out.

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The thread views suggest that it's being read by ~150 people. If that's wrong, I don't want to know, because it makes me happy to believe it and doesn't really matter! :)

I will say that I appreciate the occasional comments and the likes. It helps to stay motivated to stay on schedule, although obviously this week got a little away from me.


[Session 68, cont'd]
A man wearing silk and steel, with a clock three feet high on his head and covering his face, approaches and inclines.

"I bring greetings from the Court of Queen Flana. I am Baron Tarangorm, and her majesty felt this important enough to send me from the Palace of Time."

He asks us to not tolerate refugees from Masque, especially those who wear the Masque of the Goat or appear to have recently removed their masks.

"30,000 have escaped the environs of the capital—we thought there were only a few thousand of them in total, but they were corrupted throughout and breeding in warrens beneath their holdings.

"They scattered, but at least 15,000 were fleeing southwards, toward the High Pass. We pursued them with ornithopters, but the ornithopters have a range of only 100 miles. They have at least 14,000 that made it into the pass, including 1000 females, all pregnant. If they do not head to the wilderness, your lands are the most likely.

"Never before have we opened our Palaces to public examination, but no Order Master has questioned the order to examine the other orders for similar taint. All of the positions, that were left absent after the King-Emperor’s disappearance have been filled—all except the Ant on a permanent basis. The Order of the Ant is primarily male, but it’s leader and marshal must be female. But no female of sufficient skill and strategic acumen has come forward to lead it, so a 'head drone' leads it on a temporary basis."

Dame Brionna asks that they consider protecting the Order of the Mink. They may be under threat under the circumstances—they are the order of camp followers.

"Your advice is most welcome.

"That which crawls out of Yael and it’s capital, that which disfigures the Brownlands and has made it worse there since the time of my great-grandfather, has gradually worsened, especially over the last two lifetimes. Two of our largest military orders are entirely devoted to containing it. Those who are born in the Brownlands are horribly mutated, terribly disfigured. Some have strange powers, some have dreadful cancers and sores. There blood does not breed true. I have seen with my own eyes a woman of Yael give birth to only blood and goop. Queen Flana has considered asking the Gunnorans to send train midwives. Yael contains nothing human, and yet threats come out and we need two military orders to restrain it—and considering sending a third. The King-Emperor decided that it needed to be dealt with permanently. So he had twelve great warlords, led by the Wolf, and he was born by slave bearers to lead the assault, protected by his throne-globe. We bandied about the idea that the throne-globe disappeared from the Palace, but that was a fiction. His throne-globe disappeared from a well-guarded forward camp, and a thousand Mantis warriors died defending it before it disappeared. None of us think that he might still be alive, though many of the commoners do.

"We do not know what is in Yael. Once the throne-globe disappeared, the idea of an assault collapsed."

What about Yar?—asks Dame Brionna.

"The capital of Yael, at one time. It was before my time, but it was said that it was a beautiful city before the explosion, that started the process of mutation and change."

"I had heard reports that Yar was still occupied by one of the Ancients."

"There are rumors, but we could not know. The aura of the place has grown so strong that we cannot even approach it."

They send a sending to Alistair’s sister, asking her to come to court (unless things are so messy she can’t, and then to send a report)

Her reply: “Mess here getting better. Lots of halves. Need more artisans and farmers. Will be there in 20 days.”

The high priestess of Gunnora meets with us.

They tell her the situation, and ask if she can detect where they are. She says that she can sense that. I will send all my acolytes and the bounders for the temple (their militant defenders).

The Council decides that they need to assemble a light army—ideally roughly three field armies of light cavalry, plus voller support.

Canberry starts assembling what armies they can—3 field armies of light infantry, one field army of light cavalry, one of medium cavalry, under the overall command of Field Marshal Brightspan. We encourage him to put Dame MaryAnne Rollinghills second in command, and to trust her advice on issues such as quarter.

He says that they will be ready the next day. Alistair plans on briefing all of the senior officers personally, prior to a special mass.

9 Tar-Skard
Alistair briefs the officers—it’s pretty somber and serious. Then he leads them off to a special mass. They head off.

10 Tar-Skard
Alistair gives Kit the Lens of Literacy that he had made for her. [I'm not sure if this was discussed in the previous notes. In a nutshell, Kit is only marginally literate--she can read simple things, but reading isn't easy for her. This is basically a result of growing up lower class. She's been handling this by having her scribe also double as her reader. So Alistair decided to surprise her with a magic item gift--a hand-lens on a necklace that allows the user to read any document, regardless of language or the users ability to read--and arranged for the Ministry of Magic to have it made for her. It was finished on this date, and Alistair gave it to her as a gift.]
[End Session 68]


Session 69 (October 16, 2014)

Tar-Skard 10
Reports from the capital are improving considerably.

Kit contacts her agents in Masque about the stillbirths.

"The Order of Man has done all it can, but cannot figure out why. The Order of the Serpent has been called in; Baron Klahn has commanded that the top sorcerer-scientists examine it. This is towards the Gray Lands (the area around the Brown Lands), but this has never happened beyond the Gray Lands. Now this is affecting towns on this side of the barriers. The Queen-Empress has been considering relocating people, but the difficulty is that if the people who farm the lands, maintain the buildings, and raise the cattle and horses move away, there will be no one to support the Orders. The Queen-Empress has demanded answers, but the Grand Marshals fear that if the army must withdraw, the Gray Lands will fall to the Brown Lands and the clear lands will fall to the Gray Lands. Baron Klahn says that this must be unnatural—not simply natural spread of taint. The borders have been there for 1500 years. He fears that the thing that strengthens the Lost, those that dwell in the Brown Lands and seek to come forth, causes this as well. 1000 years ago, though powerful, the Lost were mindless, or at least without purpose. They come forth now in organized bands, seeking to break regiments. They have failed so far, but…"

There is a rapid knock at the door.

The Farsensor enters. “There is something powerful but subtle trying to bypass the wards. It was startled by their strength. It has not tried to break them—it could not. But as soon as I detected it, I came to tell you.”

The Council doesn’t know who such a creature could be, but it was not always there, obviously.

The indications from the wards are that someone was trying to trace Kit. She warns the agent and break the connection, and immediately the connection breaks.

"It must have been a device--something dealing with psionic slime, perhaps. Illithids are usually lawful. Could law be buried beneath planning and actions that are themselves chaotic? As far as I know, no illithid has ever demonstrated a tendency towards chaos—and the energy that was trying to trace you was chaotic."

The Council calls for Bishop Waters to address the theological question of law and chaos.

"More likely a traded device, than illithid directly. Likely a human or human seeming psionicist, but perhaps very old—maybe a lich?"

The Council discusses the fate of the God-Emperor’s throne-globe.

Alistair suggests that the Hastur might be the experts on the spread of chaos and energy and psionic. The Farsensor agrees, and agrees to seek an audience with the ruler of the House.

We roll a 2 (out of 12) on sanity, and a visibly elderly elf lady with a cat on her head is giggling in the teleportation cage.

The Council arranges for tea, a comfortable chair, and a place to put the cat when she realizes that it isn’t her hair. There’s a lot of art in the room—there wasn’t before.

Comments on Kit: "What dogs your steps… someone from your past, now seeking, creeping like a dog, like a rat. I think it proper that the one who hunts you be hunted and brought here. This creature from your past—it creeps in a place where there are many streets, water but it is not clear." Kit works on clearing out the area.

She reels off a string of ancient elven, which causes the room to lighten. "He has said that a device of the illithid, plus an ergolith, have fallen into the hands of chaos. Such a loss, so few were made. Ergoliths were artifacts, three were made, they can preserve a mortal almost indefinitely. Made by the Eldron, to preserve servants that they did not want to lose from the younger races."

"And all the blights have been cleaned out, except that one in the Old City. But he’s harmless—he’s one of the lookers, one of the beholders. It’s cataloguing all of the different rodents in the sewers, and inscribing them on copper plates. He’s meeting rats as they’re born, and accidentally made some of them intelligent. He’ll be up to the surface in several months. A couple of them are becoming very tiny wizards."

They steer her to discuss the Brown Lands.

"Humans are not very strong. We use them to contain the Shadowlands. They have been containing this threat as well. But this is not an open dimensional rift in the same sense—there is an open dimensional rift within it, but it is not the same thing. It does not go to the Abyss, although there is an enormous amount of energy coming out of it. It is an energy of change, but not in the same way as the Abyss. It is an energy of life, but not as we know it. It will change and alter life. I believe it is attached to your greater enemy, but it is not her. It must be attached to one of the other two? How do the other Pariah Deities survive? Why are they not consumed by her? Could they produce life, but simply life that cannot survive in this plane? I know too little of the ancient ones, but I believe that it may be the One Beside. If we seal the gates to the Goddess of the Pale Bone, it may deal with the problems."

(The Council arranges for an archivist to study the records of the Hastur about the history of the palace.)


[Session 69, cont'd]
"If it was from the early days of the Sundering, there may have still been Noldar and Eldar who could work together…" They discuss that that is becoming more common, and the Hastur Lady mentions a couple that love each other and have had children.

"Where are they?" asks Kit.

"I am forbidden to tell you, but I am happy to tell you…"

Alistair interrupts because Lord Silverleaves is present. "No! This is not appropriate company."

She then brings out cuffs, which need a drop of human blood to bind them to this place. Kit agrees to provide it, and then the cat arrives (lion sized) with a wounded and roughed up human prisoner. Kit cuffs him.

"Seal the gate first. Make sure that any of the children are not tainted—if they are, kill them, or give them a very rigorously moral upbringing. There is a very powerful lich, more of a vessel than a lich—I wouldn’t take it on, if I were you—I might, but the Farsensor would not; your Champion might succeed, but I wouldn’t risk him if I were you, certainly not until the gate is closed."

Kit recognizes the prisoner from Enclaves. "I remember you."

"You ignored me. You ignored me even after I left a steak near your hiding hole."

"What is your name and what are you doing in this city?"

"Darvan, and I followed you because I loved you and you ignored me, and then you fell in love with that King or Emperor or God or whatever, and I needed to kill you. I was going to throw myself off a cliff, and then a man in a robe explained what I needed to do, and provided me with a way to kill you. He put a spell in my bones, but now it won’t go off for some reason. I’ve been trying to set it off since I woke up."

Dame Brionna sends for the Minister of Magic, and sends Kit and Alistair out of the room.

Kit asks the Farsensor to see if he can lift an image from the mind. It’s shifting too much—concealing itself. Could be a sluagh, could be something else. Perhaps four weeks after you left the city.

Dame Brionna sends Kit and Alistair out of the room, then hits him across the face with a glove for the insult offered to Kit.

The Minister of Magic reports being unable to dispel it. Perhaps an elven archmage could, but he cannot.

The Farsensor says that it’s woven into the genetics—it cannot be undone.

Dame Brionna asks if his soul could be moved into a golem. "Perhaps—that would free his soul from the influence. We have a day, perhaps two, before the bracers decay. And the bones will detonate when the soul is removed (or when the bracers are removed)."

About 3 hours later, they return with an animated puppet. "We removed the soul successfully—the body detonated and could have killed everything in a 30’ radius. The energy was not of this plane, but it was fey energy. Dark fey energy, but fey energy nonetheless. The guess of a sluagh might be right. And sluagh have some precognitive abilities. It may have sensed that you would become significant. And the Forest of the Singing Leaves might last 1500 years more. If there is not a sufficiently powerful and stable human kingdom at that point, the continent cannot be stable."

They speculate about Kit’s ancestry. Bishop Waters will send someone to investigate genealogy. Also, it’s probably time to move Kit’s family to Enclaves. Alistair makes sure that Kit doesn’t have a poor opinion of her older sister.

[End session 69]


Session 70 (February 3, 2015)

Tar-Skard 11
Uneventful morning council; it’s midafternoon when something actually happens.

An officer approaches Dame Brionna. “Dame… we have an odd bird in custody. It flew over the walls and demanded to see someone of authority.”

Brionna heads over with a standard squad of detection people. A limb of a tree is bowing as if it had a considerable weight on it. A moving statue of a bird is perched on the tree.

The bird is a servant of Baron Klahn of the Order of the Serpent. The Baron’s daughter, the Lady Felicia of the 5th Order of Lunacy, is one and a half days behind me. The bird gives a jeweled scrollcase with a message from the Baron to her.

The scroll says that she’s bringing some objects that are associated with the mutations and stillbirths to consult with our “sorcerer-scientists”; also a runestone found with one of the warbands.

The Council arrange for a site at a lawful good celibate religious order—that should avoid creating issues with the objects.

They consult with the Mistress of Protocol. If other members of the Order are present, others shouldn’t address her directly—the air over her left shoulder is traditional. Alistair, of course, could also address her by name. There is also the other matter—she’s a were-copper dragon, about 25 years in age, and so a juvenile dragon, perhaps 20 feet in length. She’s known to prefer the hybrid form, but if she gets very upset she’s been known to lose control. She’s said to be a most staid and proper young woman. Except of course, the incident insistent suitor from the Order of the Wolf who was too forward… the Baron ran some experiments on him. Rumor has it that her mother was of that bloodline. Baron Klahn’s most vicious enemy within the court attempted to assassinate him, and she intervened, and he instead assassinated her. The Baron has been quite mad since then. She is an only child, but could not possibly inherit the Order.

They consult with the Minister of Magic; he suggests that they use Lord Rothgar’s old estate, some 10 miles outside of the city. The zone of mutations and stillbirths ranges 8 miles out.

The Council decides to meet her ornithopter with a set of vollars; Dame Brionna and some other paladins will meet her, because their holy order will protect them. Paladins of Paranswarm have been protected from the mutations, although Lyans have not.

* * *
Alonzo has the report on the family trees of the royal and noble families of Drucien, and any unusual gender distributions. The guess was correct, although it happened so gradually that the Mouth did not notice it and the Brain did not comprehend it. Over the past 4 generations, almost 5, the number of male births in most noble houses and royal families, especially patrilineal houses, has dropped to nearly one in four. Hanal has actually had an increase. The Kingdom of the Isles was the only house of the Southern Confederacy that was affected; that’s the house that Princess Caitlyn was from. The other houses continued to produce equal numbers of lords and ladies, until they were wiped out.

Enclave nobility, within the City of Enclaves, have the most severe ratio of anywhere—it’s six to one. There’s been quite a flurry of discussion within the temple about it; it’s been of particular concern because some of the families of lawful good enclaves have taken husbands in for their daughters from Hanal, and even in three cases from the Screaming Wood. Also, it can’t be associated with the water, because there’s no pattern among the commoners.

There was a great deal more formal feasting at weddings than in the old days.

The Council identifies refined sugar as the principal difference—most of which originates in the Seachen lands, and the Spice Lands.

The phenomenon has only been observed among humans, and only among people who incline towards law.

There is a considerably higher level, generation to generation, of oddities among the female children. Sometimes insanity, sometimes stupidity, and sometimes outbursts of extreme violence.

They arrange for some sugar to be bought, prohibit sugar within the palace, and summon the chief midwife of Gunnora.


[Session 70, cont'd]

"If it were a curse, we would have known about it," says the midwife of Gunnora. "A fine poison, you think? I wonder. Do you know anything about the Kingdom of Life? They are the only Glordiadelian kingdom where historically being a midwife of Gunnora was punishable by death."

The Body can’t keep Fingers and Toes alive in there, so the Council doesn't have adequate information. They are entirely insular, and have become substantially worse in the last century or so. They still trade, selling their drops of heavenly essence, sometimes as many as two dozen a year. There was a rumor that someone stole a drop of heavenly essence 60 years ago, and they closed their borders to travel. They are part of the Archdiocese of Enclaves.

"Did they sell any powerful fertility magics?"

"Almost any powerful life magic used to be available from the Kingdom of Life. Now, they only sell the drops of heavenly essence."

Kit hypothesizes that the Kingdom of Life was likely the source of all of this.

The Kingdom of Life is an island, and a sliver of land on either side of the inlet, with the springs of life on the island, along with the only city to speak of, and the golems.

The drops of heavenly essence were used to restore the life of a major monarch on Khamista, whose head had been removed. [Decapitation is one of several methods of preventing ordinary resurrection in Aphonion. The drops of heavenly essence can resurrect people who would otherwise not be able to be brought back.]

The Council has an alchemist examine the sugar: "There’s a very subtle taint of a type I’ve never seen before, but the sugar is tainted. I can’t tell precisely what it does. It would likely change in the blood, but I can only be suspicious. It might also cause hereditary changes."

The midwife points out the role of food in all of this; salt, spice, sugar. All things that the nobility use, all foodstuffs. There must be someone behind all of this.

The Council hypothesize that it might be one of the Six—the one who has gluttony and food as part of their portfolio. The Council decides that they need to sort out demonic loyalties and the ties between the mid-level demon lords that they know of, and possibly a higher level one behind all of this.

The Crown Prince of the Empire of Tarsh was the person whose head had been removed. The Sytryites destroyed the old samples of the drops of heavenly essence. They used to put them out in small golden vessels. And now they put them out in heavy, heavy bronze, with crystal to preserve the fluid, and lead around the crystal. They’ve been using these for 100 years. Not no way to compare it—the White Witch still has one in her treasury. She keeps three vials of the new fluid—for she has three daughters. Well, had; one has wandered from the faith of Paranswarm.

The Sytryites arrived about 1000 years ago. They started out by declaring that they were in charge of the Light, and then fought the temple of Glordiadel. They lost. They then sulked for 900 years, took a few minor things, and then Glordiadel blocked them from expanding. They had a resurgence about 100 years ago, because of a very fiery hierophant of Sytry—a determined evangelist, a militant, and an expansionist. He was from Drucien, but there was a concerted effort to get the Sytryites off the continent, and it mostly worked. They’re a major force on Khamista, though.
[End session 70]


Session 71 (February 24, 2015)

Tar-Skard 12
The Council asks the alchemists to look at the wine and chocolate; they ask the Ministry of Trade to identify other similar things that are traded in a wide network, especially if they come from the Spice Lands.

The day passes uneventfully; that evening, Kit hears a tapping in her mind. “There is something different about the ancient drops of heavenly essence. The drops are pearlescent, with specs of gold, swirling through them, moving, even after hundreds of years. The new ones are a dull gold, with no inherent moving. However, one was used to restore someone in our illustrious leader’s inner circle; she has returned to service as the chancellor of the exchequer. But the assistants say that she is more reliant on her assistants, as if her mind was less sharp. If anything, she has become more devout to Paranswarm—her faith has become more simple. She is still a close confidant of the White Witch, of course; the White Witch deigns not to notice. She has taken a new lover; members of the Inner Coven are permitted to take lovers, as long as they would have no claim on her line through their progeny (she is too old to have progeny of course, but his progeny would have no claim anyway—he is but a young lieutenant in the guard). She had shown no interest in lovers in many years. It is an odd alchemical compound. There are alchemical methods that would raise the dead, but none without hearts and brains except with the drops of heavenly essence."

The White Witch respects the Archduke, and hopes he may be the one to stabilize Drucien, which has long been on her mind since the fall of the South Kingdoms destabilized things.

Kit’s agent suggests reaching out through the Ecumenical Council—Archduke to First Mouth, to the White Witch. Kit asks her to check whether there’s anyone else who has used the new formula.

Tar-Skard 13
Kit relays this in the morning.

Alistair suggests cutting out the middle-man; instead of going through the Ecumenical Council, they could approach the White Witch about buying a vial through her. The Protocol Officer for the White Witch’s embassy is a representative of her intelligence apparatus.

Kit invites the Protocol Officer (Lady Gretchen) for tea.

They exchange pleasantries. Lady Gretchen reaches out to make an agreement among ladies. And also provides two pounds of red tea from Khamista; "it is a favorite of many nobles on Khamista, said to enhance long life, and the supplies from the southern part of this continent are said to be strained. And the pirate isles would love another customer, and its quality is guaranteed."

"Do you take honey in your tea, Lady Gretchen?"

Kit then raises the possibility of acquiring drops of heavenly essence through the White Witch. Lady Gretchen mentions that the White Witch has cast the bones on his behalf, and believes that if he follows both his heart and his head, instead of either one on its own, he should do well.

She also reports some oddity within the Temple of Sytry that cannot be penetrated by Her Grace the White Witch. "We expect that they will set their sights upon the Archduke soon."

Lady Gretchen says that she will acquire a purchase of a drop on our behalf.



[session 71, cont'd]
Dame Brionna heads out by voller to meet the oncoming Lady Felicia’s ornithopters.

She alights from the most ornate of the ornithopters, with a masked Raven pilot.

The second most ornately masked Serpent compliments Dame Brionna.

"I have brought two wards for the area where the research will take place, as well as volunteers for the wards."

Dame Brionna: "Volunteers?"

"The Queen-Empress suggested that you would not appreciate the use of prisoners, so we brought volunteers—their families will be well compensated."

Dame Brionna explains that that will not be necessary.

They all travel to the old Rothgar estate. They bring out two strange devices, with strange magical tendrils, and chairs in the center of the devices. Those are the wards. There are a group of 15 desultory young people, mostly men but a few women, unmasked and with clearly less food.

"We are delighted to emplace things, but then, except for certain researchers who will be remaining, we will be departing."

Dame Brionna conveys a personal invitation to Lady Felicia to visit at the palace, which she accepts. As the last of the ornithopters takes off, she claps delightedly. "You do realize those were slaves."

"They may once have been slaves—there are no slaves in Canberry."

"I am delighted to see that. Even the Queen-Empress who is beginning to be called the Goddess-Empress, is unable to end slavery, although she would wish to. She has within her house, the house of the Mantis. The wards are also appalling. They suck out life energy to power the wards that are highly effective, but when the victim dies, they are reduced to dust and the wards failed."

She is very excited to come to the palace—wants to meet the people who are the example for the free people of Drucien.

"Our enemies have been plotting for about 100 years. Human divination is unable to pierce their defenses; it would take assistance from your allies." She also brings along her young assistants to visit; after screening, they all come to the palace. Lord Brightspan says that none of them show any sign of taint. One of them has real scales—small serpent scales on his leg.

One of the youngest has vertically slit eyes, and seems very nervous about being unmasked. He bears some resemblance to Lady Felicia.

"After they leave, a gift for each of you from my father. As a final holdout, Dame Brionna, a ring of flame lancing. Good for a total of 30 seconds. Once it is exhausted it will take at least six months to recover. Dame Katherine, for you, the Grandmaster my Father divines sons. And therefore he sends you these toys to protect them—three animals, made of metal and crystal. They are small, but they are vicious golems. When the children reach majority, they will simply become toys. And for you, your grace, you have a reasonable concern about the seen and unseen. This device will test any bodily fluid, not just blood. It is more delicate than most creations, as it is crystal, but it should last indefinitely."

The Council warns her about sugar obliquely; she warns us about tea, matching the White Witch’s warning.

"He also asks whether we have any midranked nobility, who might marry a woman with an interest in alchemy. Baron Klahn is concerned about my youngest sister, the daughter of his late official wife. There could be a purge within 15 or 20 years. With the threat that Hanal has become—some of the warlords that believe that the leadership of a woman weakens a country."

Sorcery-science is basically a form of necromancy—the use of life energy to power magic—but without any raising of the dead.

"We sent a team to investigate Yael and Yarr, with a group of boars. One boar returned—we believe it was let go. 30 years ago, they would have encountered only disorganized tribes. Today, they were crushed. Somewhere within the brown lands, there is a great force of power driving it. It could be the throne-globe, the greatest achievement of sorcerous-science. It could be used as a powerful scrying device. To pervert its purpose, would take power far beyond that that any of the sorcerer-scientists. But most necromancers would understand it well enough to understand its use. You don’t suppose that he still lives, and has simply been corrupted?"

The Council says probably not (although with more confidence than they actually have).

The Council also speculates about whether Berta might have been manipulated into shifting which gods she was aligned with.
[end session 71]


Session 72 (March 10, 2015)

Tar Skard 14
Kit wakes up feeling better (Con damage from having slime removed.)

Lord Davion emerges from skin; he’s unhappy about not having done better, but that’s to be expected. With his enormous saving throw bonus, he is in fact not permanently weakened on a roll of 11 (and there was much rejoicing); he goes into a rigorous routine of swordplay exercises to get back into shape, and completely wears out all of his sparring partners. His foe could not follow him because of Alistair’s binding to the lands.

Kit goes to meet the Bishop as he returns by voller, accompanied by Dame Brionna, 12 guards including a detection squad, and with a group of Kit’s people scattered about surreptitiously. One of Kit’s people observes via mindlink, “Doesn’t it seem weird that there are an awful lot of dockhands around?” Kit immediately sends to Brionna, “Something is wrong, form your people up,” and tries to move in front of the Bishop. Brionna tells her to get the Bishop up on her winged horse.

At that point there is a sudden bloom of chaos and evil centered on the largest knot of dockworkers. “Lord of Cleansing Flame (Carthaluma) burn them” is heard as if on the wind. A massive flamestrike engulfs Kit and the Bishop—the Bishop takes maximum flame damage, but no damage from the holy damage. Kit dodges all of the flame, but takes 40 points of soulburn from the raw chaos running over her body, leaving her barely up. Dame Brionna shouts, “Kit, go! Paladins, with me, charge!”

Dame Brionna contacts Alistair and says reinforcements are needed and a badly wounded Kit is incoming, and that she needs true seeing.

Dame Brionna rushes forward and strikes the crazy eyed, bare-chested man, with an open holy symbol of Borsh’tro. She does 66 points of damage on a holy smite with a charge with a lance. His last gasp before collapsing is “The cleric, you fools, not her!”

Dame Brionna’s priest casts Holy Smite, which nicely separates the sheep from the goats, as half of the dockworkers in the knot of dockworkers around the priest are blasted and turn into creatures of flickering flame—most of whom are blinded. Two other dockworkers, still in more or less human form, cast off their clothing as well and start grunting. One of them is blinded, and another one leaps from the platform—probably able to fly.

The Pegasus is flying faster than the creature of flame, heading back to the palace as fast as possible.

Dame Brionna charges back at one of the gray “humans” behind her, and hits it for 13 damage.

“Orlodu, great wyrm, lend me your strength!” His mouth disarticulates and he begins mouthing her armor, but doesn’t manage to hit.

Thousands of worms and vermin spew forth from the Orlodu follower.

Dame Brionna flame lances him. He dissolves into a mass of dirt.

Dame Brionna looks around, and sees a man-shaped pile of dirt on the ground below the dock—apparently the creature that jumped did not fly.

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