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


[Session 72, cont'd]
Kit sends for Aunt Cecilia and the redactor as she arrives. Aunt Cecilia confirms that Kit looks like she bathed in chaos, and the redactor rips it off her.

Bishop Waters reports that the bishop will likely not survive, even with a redactor and skin and healing. He says that the Council needs to take his report, and final unction, which of course Bishop Waters can provide. Kit offers to take the report, so he doesn’t need to speak.

Dame Brionna gets a report—they came in on a merchant voller, with a shipment of cloth from Zest’qua. Dame Brionna dispatches a detection squad to search that ship, and then she worries about securing the artifacts. She has no difficulty finding the artifacts very carefully packed and stored. And written in the bishop’s elegant hand, there is a copy of a ritual that is supposed to go with them along with a sealed note addressed to “His Most Excellent and Puissant Archduke”. She places the artifacts and the scroll in a plain knapsack, and then tucks it in her cloak, and waits for her pegasus to bear her to the palace.

Alistair joins Kit with the Bishop.

Kit contacts him mentally. “Are the artifacts safe?”

“Yes. There was an attempt to stop me before I left—a Borsh’troan anti-paladin. He regretted my mace hand.”

“It was some sort of a plot—it undergirds all of the ones you have faced. You have queered all of them, as far as I can tell. But it originates with the Great Wyrm of Borsh’tro—one of the Council. When I started gathering the artifacts, I found that the artifacts were not enough. I need to find the ritual. But the books had been tampered with. I am one of the Scholara of the Temple, I recognized the change in hand. I searched out the originals and found a group of cultists who had taken them. I turned the cultists over to the local authorities, which may have been a mistake. The leader of the group bragged about the plan, and cursed the Archduke’s name for his role in causing it to fail. But they were clearly servants of the Wyrm—they attained the Skin of the Wyrm in combat. My library has more information, but when his Grace meets with the Glorious Light he should ask. I should have known from the layers—almost none of the demon lords layer their plans that deeply. Orlodu was known for his connections to some of the demon lords, but the Ram was not known to be connected—he was viewed as a wild card.”

He asks if his nephew could perform his requiem.

He confirms that the artifacts are real, and can undo the curse.

The local investigation was headed by the Inquisitor General of Tarsh, assisted by one of the Blood Counselors.

"It is without question that the Queen of Chaos was involved—she has never bent her knee to anyone. It would be playing with fire for Orlodu to be involved with her, even to release her from her prison. The other absolutely certain to be involved is an old rival to the Queen of the Succubi. She had followers among the cult, but the current Queen had no followers—highly unusual. My books are in my study—they are as complete as holy writ permits. I believe you should know your rivals."

The Council sends Bishop Waters to him. Bishop Waters performs final rites.

The other ship took on a bunch of workers at its last port, apparently innocently, and brought them right over.
[End session 72; the DM clarified that the attacker who jumped expected to transform into a giant worm when he hit the ground, but could not because the land is bound to Alistair, so died messily instead]
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Session 73 (March 24, 2015)
The Minister of Magic, the Grandmaster Farsensor, and several underlings of the Minister of Magic assist with preparing the ritual. A gallery has been set up to observe the ritually prepared space. The Council makes sure that the people in the galleries have all been vetted, and we have Aunt Cecilia join them as well.

The memory of Alistair’s mother should return sharply, with memories of others drifting back in slowly—perhaps indistinguishably from dreams, but they should return.

They begin the ritual: and on 3d20, get a 6, a 15, and an 11. There are all sorts of energies active in the space, and the Farsensor is watching very narrowly from his space. About 15 minutes in, the youngest of the Minister’s assistants explodes. The others continue, completely focused. Faces begin to drift out of the mist. Dame Brionna believes that they are a combination of angelic and demonic faces, forming out of the mist that is coming from nowhere, and then disappearing. An hour into this ritual, the Archmage leading this ritual, who we haven’t seen before but who is festooned in Glor’diadelian holy symbols, gives a shriek. One of the items simply comes apart, with black smoke coming out of it, and memories start bursting into Alistair’s mind.

He sees many scenes of his mother, virtually falling over each other, with his father, with her ladies, but also many disturbing images—very fuzzy, but images with her in corners in dark rooms, with other people, very fuzzy, whispering to her and speaking to her. There are also memories of scenes of comfort, memories of time with his mother. And then there’s a flash of utter darkness. And now the memories seem normal, and he's comfortable with them.

Lord Davion looks across at the Farsensor and shrugs.

"I can only barely remember my mother’s family—I remember her mother a tall, thin elderly woman, very unlike her husband the Duke of Tusslefields. She came with a large dowry from the Kingdom of Life. Which is very strange, because of course the Kingdom of Life doesn’t marry out… She was never Duchess, only “Lady.” And other members of her family are still whispy, as if they were never really there."
[End session 73--this was an exceedingly short session, with serious scheduling problems]


Session 74 (August 27, 2015)

Tar Skard 15
The Council discusses the report from Victor Clutterbuck [attached]. They talk about resettling people over there.

Dame Brionna raises the question of whether there was slave taking.

Kit plans on reaching out to some of her people embedded over there; none of them are on the fan, but… She plans on reaching out through her farsensor, checking the demographics of the people who died, whether there were particularly targeted groups (elves, halflings), whether there was any sign of slave taking, whether there was any evidence of ritualism (e.g. targets selected for ritual reasons, etc.).

There were three embedded agents. The farsensor checks whether each survived. One of them did, but two of them did not.

"Was anyone taken prisoner?"

"A very few, and our village withstood them—we had strong walls and a knight with us. They seemed to take the fey touched. They also took a couple of young men, particularly those who fought particularly well. Not many. Everyone else they killed, even the little children. No one does that, you know. And burned every bit of food they could reach that they couldn’t carry."

"Can you tell me which settlements got hit?"

"In this area. I don’t travel far from my ma and da. Our lord out here, he didn’t do so good. Otherwise, they couldn’t have taken this all or killed so many."

"Did you see anything of what your lord was doing? Did you see his men?"

"No, Sir Darben was here, and his friend who throws fire out of his fingers and lightning out of his ears. We were near to the woods. My ma said that, that she always warned us, that the goblins would come... but not like this, not all organized like this..."

The Council discusses how to find and recover the feytouched. Their main thought is that they should talk to the fey. They invite their fey visitor to meet Alistair at the tree.

"From the time of the division of our cousins the elves, all of us knew that you would come. It was inevitable—the Creator foresaw it. You do not do well dwelling in mountains and hills and up in trees. You need structures. You do not know what it is to remember everything that has been. So it was thought that a place would be built, a beginning, and some of our cousins would stay there until you came there. But then the Kinslaying came, and that was not foreseen, because it was the work of the Corrupter. And this place was divided against itself, and only the caretakers remained. But then your people arose, and it was quaint. There had to be a strong house, a strong place, a strong base for one of the young gods, such as they are. And the Queen of Singing Leaves and the Tor that is here think that you still bear that blessing."

Alistair replies, "And so when you call me structure builder, you mean in that sense—continuing to build that house, that strong place."

"That’s exactly right. Your people do many things that are anathema to us. But your house must be strong, or when the prophesied darkness comes, all will be lost."

They then ask him about finding the feytouched, and he says he will, but needs to not be in touch with the earth or anything from it.

The Council takes him aloft in a voller. He just stands there for about two hours.

"They have taken seven prisoners, 4 male, 3 female, all at or just below the age of menarche. They have handed the children to a flying column (not literally) of Chulic mercenaries, about 200. They are desperate people, who come through in small numbers to this plane; bribe them instead of fighting them.

"They come through in small numbers in the valley of the dispossessed, and then they spread out. Their males are only trained in war. They have few females or children, but desperately seek homes for those females and children. They come with weapons and armor almost worn to the point of being useless. Hanal has hired several bands; one has even risen to Chuktar.

"If you fight them, and they are losing, honor will demand that they kill the prisoners."

The fey then awakens the voller, restores it to life. Its hit points double, and there will later be added armor.


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[session 74, cont'd]
Shortly after noon, Kit gets an incredibly urgent feeling. Kit thought the node was dead, but it is pulsing enormously insistently. <<Emergency report to the Mouth. Oh, thank the Light. All hell has broken loose in the City of Life. Suddenly, a few hours ago at most, the Royal Guard was in the street, rounding up the House of Sidea, one after another. There are calls for trial—I can’t get too close, I am only a merchant. The charge is treason, but they are calling for a trial of an entire great house, and anyone asking too many questions is being shot. They say it is too disgusting to discuss outside the noble class. I have been asleep here for 13 years. I have never seen anything like it.>>

Kit asks her scribe to pull together everything we know about that family. “Yes, yes, yes. Very important great house in the City of Life. One of the few we know about because of their history. They were tasked with making sure that the great houses never became so inbred…. In the early days, they kidnapped noble maids from other houses that served the Light, and forced into forced marriages. Nobody did anything because of the Drops of Heavenly Essence. In the last century or so, they turned into a house of marriage brokers, tracking and maintaining the diversity that they need. There are also reports that they execute particularly intelligent children from the common stock. Of all the Glor’diadelian kingdoms, they are most likely to use execution. I’ve privately said that they are more Sytryan than Glor’diadelian.

“I had a sudden realization, for the first time in many years, of who his most benevolent and honored majesty’s mother was. My guess would be that house arranged that marriage, without the permission of the Council. Perhaps someone there discovered it. It is against every one of their rules.”

"What could have made them do it?"

“Some of their Great Houses must be dying out—they must think that purity is the most important thing, for they believe that they are the only true humans. Do we know if Alistair’s mother’s house survives? She may have been married out and the house died out.”

Dame Brionna has been researching Tusslefields: large mine lands; controls the only Canberran entrance to the Underdark (through Gateways). Over half the legions of Canberry consist of soldiers native to Tusslefields.

The Council sends Lord Davion and Dame Brionna to meet with the Chulik. (Lord Davion advises that Dame Brionna negotiate, because the Chulik have too much of a sense of race.)

"The three who came to us were a great humanoid cat, and with him two others, a tentacle monstrosity of mind, and the other untouchable, unthinkable, with the semblance of a man but no man. I am not sure this is honorable, but we needed to find employment."

Dame Brionna negotiates with them, easily.

Lord Davion teleports them back with him and Dame Brionna (and their Chulik escorts). The rest of the Chulik head towards Canberry City overland. Mommy Cupcakes is sent to help out with the children, along with the Master of Pages.

Kit contacts Brian, the young boy in the Western areas, who agrees to check on whether the children have surviving parents or other family members.
[End session 74]


Session 75 (September 24, 2015)

Tar Skard 15
Kit touches base with her agent in the City of Life. The agent spoke with a captain of the guard; while most are simply being held at this time, two of the eldest have been taken away from ordinary captivity and have not been seen again. And papers have been brought to allow the throne to claim all of the house’s property. The eldest were likely the only ones old enough to have been part of the conspiracy. But this upsets hundreds of years tradition, and tradition is what the city has run on for centuries.

<<It was not the traditionalists who pushed for this—it was the radicals, who wielded this power through the person of the youngest brother of the ruler. He does not take part in the life of the court, but he pursues a clerical path. There are rumors that he may have taken a step that is frowned on by the Church—having maimed his masculinity. He is not of the Pale Flame, but he did have seminary teachers who did. He is devious, it is said, and has advanced himself in the clerical orders through subterfuge. He is a canon, and may aim to be the next bishop here. I do not know his religious name, because his order does not reveal such things, but he is Bernard. His order treats the religious names taken upon joining the order as sacred. He is primarily, we thought, a scholar.>>

<<How did he change course?>>

<<He openly espoused their policy when this memory returned. He has studied the factions within the City of Life and the other religions of Law. The bishop here is so staunch a traditionalist that he is ineffective. The radicalists are fewer than the traditionalists, but not hide bound, which gives them flexibility. They favor action, a stronger military, and that their interpretation of doctrine is correct, to the exclusion of other interpretations. They hold various offices in government, for generations, intended to placate them.>>

Kit encourages her agent to reach out to her agent's brother, in the bishop’s household, and to both put the bishop on guard and try to fend off meetings with Bernard.

The Order of the Pale Flame is not a large order, but they are fanatics. The Church is made nervous by them. Many practice self-mutilation. They have also been involved in as near to an Inquisition as there is among the Glor’diadelians. Joining formally would bar him from advancing to bishop.

The Council has some one search to find the order affiliation, if any, of the prior corrupted priest they dealt with.

Kit reports [based on an attached message]: In the West lands, there has been some very unusual and unsettling grave robbings. Four break-ins at separate graves, clearly targeting some specific items and leaving behind gold that was present. They stole a small statue, and maybe some other things, from a barrow. The most significant person buried in the barrow was a lich. There were also some humans buried in there, also some demons or demonic things in two different styles of clothing -- like uniforms. The people securing the barrow currently are more scouts; the nearest military force is about 50 miles away. There were also recent corpses.

Kit sends back as instructions:
"Can you put me in touch with the brain lobe? What I want to know:

  • Describe uniforms?
  • What kind of demons?
  • Who are the recent corpses and how long ago were they killed?

Don't call on the military; we'll send backup.
Don't move the other treasure until/unless our people say it's OK
Don't go into lower level w/o our backup"

Dame Brionna reports: There are some catmen around in the West, who should be particularly feared.

She has two reports: One a military report from Clarence Strawberry [attached]. In the south, of the enemy force of 35,000, the total survivors is about 2500. In terms of enemy numbers, the relevant thing is that at least 25 trolls survived, as well as some hundreds of orkish fighters, some priests and wizards, and some Hanalian cavalry.

In the bad news, 80 percent of the spice plantations have been destroyed or badly damaged. It will take the Seachen about 3 generations to resume their full production; if they go isolationist, about 90 percent of the spice supply will be lost. The Rakshasa are largely broken as an effective force, and the whole region is devastated.

In the West, there are about 1500 surviving enemy forces. Strawberry suggests two legions of military support for at least two years. He suggests that the forces not be under the control of the Western house, because of their incompetency.

The most disturbing news is about the great mountain of corruption that arose from the sea. The inhabitants, of unknown and disturbing races, have begun fortifying the island; they began fortifying within an hour of the defeat of the Abomination of Shurr. Hanal and Tang are trying to maintain an interdiction, and have also set up an inquisitorial camp on the island. Canberry can’t easily add to the blockade directly because Canberry has no sea navy. Strawberry suggests Canberry build up one of the ports in the old Southern Kingdoms and begin building a new sea navy, but that’s probably not fast.

The Council discusses the spice shortage and in particular the salt shortage. They discuss trading with the Quasi-elemental Plane of Salt; Dame Constance suggests that they could trade with some of the more reasonable princes. One of the things they like is to dessicate things. "You must remember the rule of 9 days. Any embassy you send is protected for nine days, any bargain you make lasts only nine days."

The Council then discuss the two messages Alistair received [both attached]. WRT Hanal: the rebel nobles are now in heresy, because they seized an inquisitor who went in. The Inquisitor General, speaking for the Baroness of Mandrath, has asked the Archbishop to declare interdict against the territory, and they’ve also sent in a legion of church knights. But even a field army, unless they can turn the people against the nobles, would be a drop in the bucket. So realistically, though Canberry has no sure sources of information, a legion of church knights is really more of a harrying force. Canberry has not heard anything since then.

Kit has agents in the Princess’s entourage, but not connected to the fan.


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[Session 75, cont'd]
The Council sends for Duchess Emma, to discuss her prophecy. She leaves her guard behind and then approaches. She is a striking young woman, in the way that a deadly viper is striking. Armored, elegant, but somehow not appealing.

"I have always had the sight. It takes me at rare times at great space. At this time, it took me during a salutation of my patron in the Eighth Circle. I do not know if he sent it, or if it just happened to come here. The darkness recedes, except in three places: in the south, off the coast; in the far north; and in the inland sea. In the north and south, I saw clarity. In the middle, I saw deception, corruption where there should be purity. I could see that the plans and the schemes were not new. You were what was not expected. The plans were not aimed at you—they were intended for he who was dead. And that’s why the schemes do not catch upon you. The land is bound to you. It protects you from the direct methods they would prefer. It protects you from the easy ability to kill you. But it does not protect you from corruption, it does not protect you against those you believe you can trust. Cling as well to your allies. You have built a group of allies that are loyal. Shining counselors will come. You must be cautious. Do not be fooled by devotion to the light. It is from light the worm will rise to strike.

"Words came to me: No where better can falsehood lie than within the heart of truth. It seems nonsensical, does it not? And yet, that’s what came to me."

* * *

The Council summons back Alistair's sister, teleporting her in instead of relying on her extremely slow progress.

"It’s not just the family that’s crazy. The guards, the nurses, one of the cooks—the other is sane enough, she just doesn’t have an imaginative bone in her body. Betty, the sane cook, swears that the problem started when they dug the new crypt in her mother’s day—before that they were right as rain."

What specific ways did they change? Lethargy is a major problem.

The Council calls for Aunt Cecilia to check Alistair's sister, since we’re concerned about her being lethargic. Aunt Cecilia sees something like an oozing oil. She suggests calling a coercer, not a redactor—something has been meddling with her mind. But of course, Canberry doesn’t have a coercer.

The Council summons Lord Davion to look at her. He blocks it easily; she will recover, and it will not be able to re-affect her, unless it was holding back and trying to be subtle. A grandmaster coercer could break his protection.

"It could be illithid, aboleth, or psionic drow. An illithid would never be that subtle. An aboleth might, especially if it had made a bargain. They’re very lawful, so even if tricked into a bargain, it would feel bound. If it were an aboleth, I cannot shield her depths. We would need to hire a grandmaster coercer." He suggests requesting it as a favor from Princess Curinirim. Of course, if it were a drow, especially a rebel drow, then it would go poorly.

Bishop Waters casts a divination and confirms that the taint is from an aboleth.
[End session 75]


Session 76 (October 27, 2015)

17 Tar-Skard
The Council asks about whether to ask for Curinirim’s help with a grandmaster coercer, whether to hire an illithid, whether to hire a Zaplona-Argoni coercer.

The Council talks with Lady Constance. She asks whether it was a single aboleth. "To affect this area broadly, it would need to be either a noble aboleth or perhaps a group. There are only a handful of noble aboleths, and several disappeared. Jilithroop was a famous one; he was a dedicated follower of the Lord of Orderly Darkness, disappeared completely. Some of his followers believe he was called back to Paranswarm’s own plane—balderdash, Lord Paranswarm would have waited and watched for much longer. There was also one who drifted into a drowan city on Khamista—Aquavarzin (the “dominating cavern of ruin”)-Uab, the Aboleth Lord. Had a tremendous influence on the city. They continue to follow the Queen of Spiders, but became highly lawful. That’s the city that the late Grand Duchess was from—House Aleval. Most of the aboleth nobles on this plane are barons—dukes and above are not generally captured on this plane. There are no princes on this plane. Gherlith is the duke, a saltwater aboleth, with a fascination with the merfolk. He is performing research on them.

"The noble aboleths are highly lawful. You would only have to be clever enough to trick them. They would never break their word, nor even exploit loopholes like a devil would. If they were betrayed by the other party, the contract would be null and void.

"There was a very young duke who even served Glor’diadel.

"If you need a strong coercer for a short period of time, I am owed a favor by an ultradaemon—probably unwilling to serve for longer than 48 hours, but that might be enough to negotiate."

"Do you know anything of the history of the duchy that might be relevant?"

"The Western duchy was a very heavily religiously divided duchy before it joined the Archduchy. The followers of Paranswarm in the ruling house faded away quickly, and the followers among the common people faded away after that. The heir-apparent was a lyan, but his younger brother stabbed him at table, killing him instantly. His wife then disappeared; it was said that she was locked in the tower, but she was never heard from again. She was a powerful conjuration specialist. She might have just committed suicide. Vivian was her name, and it was rumored she was pregnant at the time of the death, but they had no living child at the time of her death. Several assassins were found burned beyond recognition in her bedchamber."

Dame Brionna suggests she might have taken refuge with the Sisterhood of the Weeping Woman. Alistair suggests she might have gone to the SHH instead, if she was a conjurer.

The Council asks Grandmaster Farsensor to do a legend lore equivalent on Vivian, and in particular on her descendants or lack thereof. She was injured by an assassin, then fled the castle. She fled initially to an order of nuns, until she was delivered of her two children. She sent one of them into the lands beyond the sea, probably to the old holy see of Paranswarm in Khamista. She took the remaining child and traveled to a stronghold she had built for her research north of the ducal capital. She bore great hatred towards her brother-in-law. She built up a force of mind-devils, but the duchy had become part of the Archduchy and she knew she couldn't retake it. She became a lich, but eventually did perish. The son lived, married, had children, and died, living his life as a minor carpet noble. She dealt with many creatures over the years.

There were certain items that had considerable powers. There was a crystal statue, with enormous power, that may have at one time been a portion of a device to bind the greatest of demons. The evidence is strong that she never used it, but she did keep it. It was a “blood statue,” that would consume blood and then summon the creature it was supposed to bind. It would bring the creature forth, and bind the form of the creature inside itself, but it would be up to the mage to bind the creature. It could be used to release a bound demon from an extraplanar oubliette.

The second item was an ancient elven necklace, probably from the Elder Wood. Its power is psychic, and it is cast from laen. It would allow a non-psion to make contact with a psion, and appear to be psionic to one who does not know of such a device. It would drain their life energy to do so, however. In the hands of a psion, it simply augments their power.

The final object is a casket of diabolic summoning. It allows a single conjurer to bind something on the order of a lower devil on a time table of every few months, and keep them all bound.

He became Baron Werner. The Council looks up the lineage. Various barons are noted as having extra children. There is a current Baron Werner, who none of the Council know.


[session 76, cont'd]
The Council calls in Dame Brionna’s sister, who has some expertise and responsibility in these matters.

"Do you know a Baron Werner?"

"Yes, a young man. He has fallen head-over-heals to a young woman attached to the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Life; she’s head-over-heals in love with him as well. Apparently, she’s not of breeding, so it’s acceptable for her to marry out.

"He’s a brilliant linguist, one of our chief translators of documents from foreign powers. Also very devout, of Glor’diadel, a daily communicant, and a remarkably hard worker. His mother used to be a lower-level lady-in-waiting to the former Archduchess."

(The Council asks Lord Brightspan to research the history of the tradition of the life offering.)

We summon Baron Werner on the pretense of some assistance translating a brief speech into Noldar. We then have a security team examining him. He’s squeaky clean.

He has dinner scheduled with his special friend.

His younger brother isn’t very devout. He engaged in some … well, he might have a baby or two around. He’s functioning as a messenger for the military, but he’ll end up a warrior. He wanted to head north to Gates, where there are a lot of very attractive young women. The Council has gotten a couple of notes from him. He might have been sent by someone named Strawberry.

The Council sends a team to check out his special friend, who they strongly believe is a honey pot.

Kit gets a message from her contact in the Kingdom of Life. The two children of the family have surfaced—they’ve been exposed. We want to do something, but we don’t know what. They’re guarded, being left out for the judgment of the sun. That hasn’t been done in generations. Even if we could get them out, we’d have to go down, into the water tunnels. But then we’d go past the Isles of the Feet, and then drift out into the ocean unless we had a boat to meet us. Nobody goes into the water tunnels, where there are some punts. Nobody goes into the water tunnels—they’re viewed as cursed.

The Council arranges for a voller to fly over and drop off a boat—ostensibly while en route to Enclaves to evac Kit’s family.

Meanwhile, the young woman (Blanche) shows up at the restaurant, where a squad with a widget of true seeing looks at her. She is, in fact, a beautiful young human woman who is what she appears to be. Her thoughts are not extremely deep; it’s very easy to read them. She develops a combination of annoyance and concern when he fails to show up, and then gets fidgety. Muriel, a waitress working for Kit, heads in. "There is some fear—a shadowy shape to the fear. She is in fact in love with him, admiring him. My brother wanted me to go look at art in the archive, and I do like art. He dared to suggest to me that I try to get money out of poor, sweet Robert. I wouldn’t do it of course. Then he suggested… oh I can’t talk about it, it’s too horrible. He then suggested that if I wouldn’t ask Robert for money, that I ask him to share the Archduke’s secrets with him. Things haven’t been good at home since my brother came back to the palace. I swear he changed. He was only 15 summers when he went into the palace of life, but when he came out after the two years’ service, he became cold and calculating and mechanical after having been kind and gentle, but he lost all interest in women as well and became quite nasty. I actually think he hit mother once. Mother is not happy with the current regime. He goes to services all the way down in the lower city—it’s not a large parish, I didn’t much like the mass there."

Kit arranges to have some thugs pick up the brother—the Council could expel him for soliciting espionage, but they’d rather pick him up. Of course the Archduke can’t take action against him, but if some random thugs picked him up…

The priest is a member of the Order of the Eternal Light, but he’s been there for years and is happy there and it’s small and unimportant so they just leave him there. The Order of the Eternal Light is an enormous order, with priests everywhere.

Dame Brionna sends some paladins to investigate the church. The priest seems fine, elderly but fine. There is however evil straight down—presumably in the uncleanable sewers. There’s a steady low-grade influence, not affecting the priest, but steadily entering some of the people in the services, including the brother. A total of three had been influenced.

Kit sends a group of thugs to pick up the brother, backed up by arcane support. He says, “You don’t want to do this.” The thugs try to pick him up, and a burst of light and energy erupts from the street. One of the paladins runs towards him, another runs to a guardhouse to get more support. He repeats, “You don’t want to do this,” and starts floating in the air, although without casting a levitate or fly spell.

The ground where the flash of light came from is still glowing. One of the thugs (under protection from evil) moves over the flash of light, and zip, it moves along the sewer track.

Kit sends her people to check the sewer underneath; Dame Brionna sends her paladin sewer squad.

He escapes. The sewer squad, runs out of the sewer a glowing ball of blue light, radiating intense evil. Alistair says it seems like an evil lantern archon, and orders it bound in a circle of protection against evil.

They also post people to watch over the house of Blanche’s mother, and to try to apprehend Frederick (the brother).

Bishop Waters confirms that it is indeed an archon turned to evil. "It was brought here, by its summoner. Its summoner’s masters are very powerful, it says. It says they’re mighty priests of the Light. It refers to “the Light” and “the Darkness” as if they are the only things that exist. It says that ultimately the masters serve the Blue Star, although it’s very cagey about whether they know it. “The Blue Star” is another name for Sytry. It is influencing others because they are susceptible. The summoner, it truly acts as if it were diabolic, it is corrupting. It is probably only a few millennia from being truly diabolic. Is the summoner a true human? It says it was when I began."

Bishop Waters says that it’s becoming more arrogant even over the course of this conversation. "But how is an archon of light in service to Sytry? Unless Sytry is starting to make his own archons…"

Alistair asks, could it be a devil forced into the form of an archon and offered into Sytry’s service? It could be. The Council has it bound into a vessel, and moved it into the palace, so they can study its nature.
[End session 78]


Session 77 (February 25, 2016)

Tar-Skard 18 (during the night before dawn on the 18th)
Dame Brionna is awoken in the night by a gray elf messenger, who asks her to accompany him to observe a battle near the City of Chimes. The Council agrees of course, and she takes a standard investigatory team, her unipeg, and young Lord Brightspan. They aport to a crystal platform, the deck of a very large flying ship.

There is an Eldar standing at the edge of the ship, shielded by a guard with a large crystal shield. She is the only Eldar on the ship, clearly the Queen of Singing Leaves.

“Dame Brionna, this is a very prompt response, I thank you.”

“My lord Alistair wanted to honor both the terms of the treaty and our friendship.”

“I do not understand this battle, and I wanted your expertise. Not because this was once an elven city—they could hardly damage the high glass after all this time. But because of the nature of the army.”

Elven dreadnought, two men-of-war, and two elven schooners—probably her entire sky navy.

"There are humans and hundreds of elves defending it, but they are surrounded by tens of thousands of attackers. Goblinoids, Hanalian regulars, people in animal masks (presumably from Masque), and those—are those not paladins? It is a group of Knights of Truth, wearing the full silver plate regalia they always use and flying the white banner they fly in battle." Knights of Truth are Sytryan paladins. (The Masque force is wearing Ram heads.)

Dame Brionna asks Lord Brightspan to look through the telescope and see what he can perceive—he sees an indistinct large figure, out of phase, just out of ability to be seen fully. It’s almost like a huge starfish.

"Is there any devil or demon like that?" Dame Brionna asks.

One of the elves says no.

"What about… of the Unspeakable?"

A different elf says yes.

"Is there a way to drive it out or destroy it? The paladins may not be acting voluntarily."

"I could descend on my battle platform. They are fools! You cannot bind the Unspeakable. They are concentrated at the North and West gates. They are not closed—the humans have forgotten how to close them, or never knew."

"By the East gate, are there any ancient towers or structures?"

"There is an ancient structure—the repository where the essence of the old Eldron were imprinted."

"That’s where the real attack is."

Lord Brightspan looks through the spyglass and reports that there is a hidden army there, creeping forward. The elves begin to focus there, and that’s when vollers drop out of the sky above them.

The Queen orders them destroyed; the Hanalians begin trying to board. Each blast of the energy projectors destroys a Hanalian ship, but there are 60 Hanalian ships. The bulk of the elves on the ground sprint towards the east gate, but there are only about 2000 human defenders.

Dame Brionna starts incinerating would-be boarders on kites. A few minutes later, Lord Brightspan starts saying, “Uh-oh. That thing is coming.”

At Alistair’s suggestion, Dame Brionna asks the Queen to protect Lord Brightspan. She sends him below decks, to “protect” the noncombatants there.

Dame Brionna detects an enormous evil presence coming—radiating more evil than any of the demons she has met or fought, at an almost visceral level. Dame Brionna mounts up and prepares to charge it. Words form around her mind. “Interfering bitches, we will not tolerate this any longer. A thousand years in the making, and you and your friends disturb it.”

“I think it’s angry, Dame.”

“It will have to get used to disappointment—especially for its lack of courtesy to one of your rank.”

“I see why Alistair likes you—you are a boon companion. I will accompany you.”

She reveals herself fully (“continue to face towards the battle”), and Dame Brionna becomes bolstered, while it is revealed fully.

Dame Brionna smites it, doing 44 points of damage and literally driving it back with the force of her charge towards the ground. The Queen is flying with her on a crystal disk, slashing at it with her laen longsword.

(The elven ships are concentrating on the other flying ships; the battle has been joined at the east gate and is fierce; demons are fighting there, but the elves are preventing them from breaking through.)

Dame Brionna keeps pushing the creature to the ground, praying to Glordiadel.

Finally, it crashes into the ground, howling in pain because of the power of the elven Queen’s aura, which is particularly inimical to it.

It dissolves most of Dame Brionna’s armor with its spit.

It unleashes a wave of taint, which turns the grass into snapping horrible things, and mutates insects, but it cannot affect either Dame Brionna or the Queen.

Dame Brionna misses her next attack.

Six elves from the ground join the attack. One is dissolved by the wave of taint, but the others hack at it. Dame Brionna strikes again, and it is destroyed.

The Knights of Truth are in chaos, with some fighting each other.

At Dame Brionna’s suggestion, the Queen fences off the area with a dome of ectoplasm. “That was one of the Unspeakable’s servants. They seem to be breaking—was it compelling them forward, do you think? I fear we have lost a schooner. Well, let us return to the ship.”

At the East gate, the elves are forcing them back—most of the lesser demons are dead, and some of the attackers broke when the creature died.

Battle trumpets sound, and the Hanalian legions start falling away in orderly fashion, at which point the Masque group goes absolutely berserk. The Skald plays soothing music, and some of the battle is calmed. The army at the East gate breaks, and the elves cut them down.

Some of the vollers start fleeing, while others hoist white flags. The Strom of Thornbear offers himself as hostage for the safety of his men. The Strom apologizes for this unseemly event, "and would also like to enquire where we are."

“Who do I have the honor of surrendering to? And why are we in this battle?”

“I am Dame Brionna, the captain of the Archducal Guard of Canberry.”

“Good god, did we attack Canberry?”

“Perhaps worse. That is the ship of the Queen of Singing Leaves—you may have heard of her.”

They send the very confused young Strom below to be assisted by redactors, so that he can eventually be told what the deal is with the Queen of Hanal without causing his mind to collapse.


[Session 77, cont'd]
"We should check the repository. We never gave it much mind. We must mourn our dead—we lost dozens. And with roughly 15,000 Hanalians leaving the field…"

"Your majesty, is there a way to warn the Ecumenical Council of this?"

"The Overqueen maintains a Star Priestess of the full blood at the Ecumenical Council’s meeting hall. She could inform them of this plan—the fact that it has moved so efficiently over the last millennium is worrisome."

The Captain of the Queen’s Guard accompanies Dame Brionna to the repository.

"Have you been in a repository before? Fascinating places. The Eldron would leave parts of their essence lying about, in laen repositories. Those hold some of their personality as well. I think you may be the first human ever welcomed into an Eldron repository."

(This isn’t the only one; there’s one in the Steading of Elven Lords as well. (They send a warning.))

The Captain and Dame Brionna put their hands on a panel for a few seconds, and then enter. The guardian, which looks like a wraith of light, approaches. “Hail, and welcome to the Master’s repository. What wisdom do you seek from the Eldron?”

“I represent Archduke Alistair of Canberry, but I also represent the Light. We sought to defend this place from the Unspeakable.”

“I sensed their coming. The blood of the First Comers has always been used for summoning purposes. But there is no blood here; only thoughts and memories and wisdom. Would you meet some of the personality fragments that remain?” Among those the guardian mentions, is an expert in eldritch lore. He “touches” a small crystal plaque on the front of this pillar. “Great thinker, there are those who of come, both of the blood and not of the blood, to speak with you.”

“Oh? I sense their presence. Ah! Humans! In… mostly… armor. And one of the young ones. What do you want to speak of? What wisdom can this shard impart?”

“We think that servants of the Unspeakable are in search of three artifacts of the Eldron, or perhaps Eldron themselves, that could be used to prevent them from coming into this world or allow them in. What do you know of these?”

“The Unspeakable have always sought to devour this world. Three devices were raised, one against the most foul, She Who Must Not Be Named; one against her bed companion, and one against the pale companion who was always the weakest of her. The one to bind She Who Must Not Be Named is the most important. It is a great man.”

“There are seven remaining Eldron total in the world. Four in the Larmena Hills. One no longer moves. One deep beneath the seas, south of Khamista—he has come to love the fish and the sea elves more than the land. The last was long-ago taken captive by the Gift-giver, the one who split the race. He refused to choose. Most of us passed rather than choose; some were slain rather than choose. He was the one here. He was taken prisoner by traitors, and taken through the Gates beneath the spider. He is not dead—I would know—nor has he committed himself still. We are a stubborn folk.”

“What of this man? Where is it?”

“It is a great statue of a man. It would require three Eldron. We always worked in threes, or sixes. On occasion nines—more than that was too much. Even this room seems crowded, does it not?”

"What of the other two?"

"One was a crystal ball; it still lies with the Overqueen. It would bind the bed companion. The last was never completed, but lies in the labyrinth beneath here."

"What of the box?"

"That would be a product of the Larmena Hills. It is likely aimed against Her. It was after my time."

(The Larmenon Hills were invaded by Sytryites recently, and then dispersed rapidly by an unknown force. We presume that was the Eldron.)

"What of the item in the labyrinth beneath us?"

"At the time it was being worked on, there were a handful of our younger cousins who assisted us, and it was safe. There might have been beasts—some of my brethren liked to experiment with life energy, to create new beasts that have never been before. It is quite exhilarating—you should try it some time."

"Could the bones of the Eldron be used in foul rituals?"

"Not to bring Her through, but for other foul rituals."

Dame Brionna asks about whether we should go into the labyrinth—Alistair thinks not right now.

The Council discusses relocating the bodies.

The Larmena hills are just east of the kingdom of the Black Isles in Khamista—almost shore, but not quite. Considerable gnomish communities—skilled crafters, some gearworkers, some clockwork mages.

"Is there any connection between gnomes and the Eldron?"

"Gnomes and the Four, indeed. They love them. They nurtured them from their earliest days, nurtured them at their bosoms. The Four in Larmena think about them a great deal. They always have. From when there were gnomes… and a little before."

The Council discusses the fact that the Hanalians were persecuting the gnomes—that might be a lever to persuade the Four.

"Only Eldron could finish the device in the labyrinth. The younger elven races," by which he means the Eldar and Noldar, "have lost some of their energy. They could not finish it."

He suggests that they seal the repository—only the one who sealed it (or their line) could unseal it. A sufficiently powerful assault could break psionically reinforced laen-beamed high glass, but by the time that assault could be mounted, the war would already be lost.

The team goes down into the labyrinth to try to recover the artifact. There are various ornately carved walls, with runnels filled with mithril in elaborate runes. Various pillars hold skulls, or bones—one bone per pillar. In workshops, there is a harp, the most marvelous harp ever, along with a library of books made of metal, then rooms that look lived in. A small figure, like a cross between a bird and a small dog, begins following. Dame Brionna offers it food—it slowly and carefully eats the food. It then stares at them, with its very wide eyes. It thinks a question at them. They think back the device. It thinks of warmth, then of cold, and then of apprehension. It leads them for a while, before stopping at a wall. It then projects an image of them staring at the wall, with hands on their heads.

The psion wills energy into the wall—an image of an angelic servitor of Eiru appears, speaks in Elder Elven, and then the door opens. Dozens upon dozens of tools surround the described item.

Mechanical figures block the way out, saying a single word over and over again. “Declare!” they say in Eldron. “Friends” the expedition says in Eldar. The mechanical figures let him pass.

"Ah, I see you found Fidget. He was made as a companion. He is smart, for a dog. No real magic, but he can change shapes—a common thing, that."

"Are there any special things about the harp?"

"It was a work of love for the harpist. It took him a thousand years to make it. It is psionically active. It would argue with him if it didn’t want to play a song. The library—that was mine. I don’t want to be separated from them. But they aren’t doing any good down there. Do you have any scholars?"

"We have some students. And we are establishing a school."

"Then it is simple. I must go with them.

"The books are all on either mithril or adamantium. Some of them bite. The non-mobile ones, you simply take. The 50 or so that are mobile—you chain first, otherwise they might leave. And the ones that bite? There is a mithril and laen handle in my pedestal."

Kit comes to the city; and helps gather up the books, plus the researcher, and seals up the repository.

The mayor, David Cobbler, surrenders to Kit. (He had previously tried to surrender to the Queen, but she said that he had to surrender to the people of the new Emperor.) Kit asks whether they are all human, but there are some who have fey blood. "There was a small Tor north of here, we thought they would come to our aid, but they didn’t. We last heard of them a week ago."

(The Council make arrangements to have the Glordiadelian temple properly consecrated.)

Kit sends some people to investigate the tor; it was besieged by Hanalian troops, probably another field army. They would have taken the worst casualties, except that the Masque troops were killed almost to a man. The goblins broke so early that most survived to run away. The fey are shaken—they’re not usually even discovered. But they’re not badly hurt, because their magic was powerful. They survived pretty much intact, because they could hide the hidden doors into the hills, but they’re very thankful that the enemy retreated.
[End Session 77]


Session 78 (March 17, 2016)

Tar-Skard 18
Dame Brionna meets with Father Waters after morning services.

“I… I… I fear, Father Waters, that I am guilty of the sin of pride. There have been a number of occasions recently where I have been faced with a combat that I knew was beyond my fighting ability and prowess, but that I charged into anyway because I believed that Glor’diadel would protect me and guide my lance, and Glor’diadel has each time, and that has led me into overconfidence and pride and a feeling that I am more special than I know myself to be, and I come to you to confess this and ask for penance, as I am but the lowliest of His servants.”

“We are all servants of the divine, but we must all struggle with our pride, and with our lust, and not always the pride or the lust we fear. A penance—this is not the time for a simple devotion to saints or a sweeping of chapels. You have known great loss. You have known the loss of your childhood’s faith. You must balance your success against those losses, and you must remember that you can only succeed through humbleness before Glor’diadel. Therefore, as penance, I assign you, to spend one day in each of the coming four weeks, in the poorest sections of this city, and that you shall there oversee services for the poorest, who have lost all pride.”

Dame Brionna goes off and prays quietly.
* * *

Kit reaches out to her agent, late of the City of Life.
“Are you alright?”

“In body, yes. I have taken sanctuary in a hidden hideout a day and a half from the main city. I am not certain I can reach the border.”

“An embassy arrived from the Ecumenical Council—not all were of the Light, but some were. They hung them all as heretics, and purged them. I believe they have sealed the Dome. The Dome has not been sealed since the dragonfire 300 years ago.

“A fair number of knights were ejected before the Dome was, as my sources say, sealed. A fair number of nobles were purged. The city itself, if it has sealed the Dome, is nearly impregnable. One of the rumors that I have heard, which I cannot prove but tend to believe, is that the clergy have taken some members of the royal family captive as hostages, and that they have killed the companion of the primarch’s brother. The primarch’s brother is weak, and will not last long. If they have seized the primarch’s brother, then they must have seized the primarch as well. Unless the primarch’s younger sister is able to take some power, that probably means that the chief clerics are in power. She was in Khamista, studying in a seminary for women; I think that her return may have triggered this. She always had her brother’s ear. She may have been in the city, or may have been among the last to leave. She had many who were loyal to her.

"We have always been paranoid—since we found the spring, and since the elves departed. There are many refuges, but many are lost, as they were built by individual nobles. They don’t seem to be coming out of the Dome—the commons are in an uproar."

"What can you do inside the Dome?"

"The Dome contains the spring, the palace, the cathedral—the inner city. It is close to impenetrable—it might be broken by the most powerful of the elves, or by a large cohort of human wizards working together. Rumors say that there are catacombs beneath the city, but I never found them. Unless they connect to the Underdark…"


[Session 78, cont'd]
(Kit pauses to consult with the rest of the Council.

Alistair checks Canberry's map of the Underdark, and finds that there are reaches of the upper Underdark that at least go close.

Kit plans on reaching out to her agent to try to find the younger sister, and also to find out more about her.

They also plan an extraction.

Kit contacts her agent; tells her that there is likely a connection to the Underdark; second, that the agent should reach out to people, especially people who might be loyal to the younger sister, who seems likes someone we could work with; and they’ll be arranging an extraction. "You have loyally served Canberry, and we will provide you with protection."

Alistair speaks with the Archbishop; he is very shaken by the death of Monsignor Manuel, who is the Nuncio from the Light and was part of that delegation.

"The City of Life has always been odd. The humans—after the elves departed, or passed, or we think they did—modeled their culture on the elven culture for a very long time, which made them incredibly insular. But the faith of Eiru faded over time—when the elves dwelt among them, they followed Eiru, but it faded with time, or perhaps they were rejected by Eiru. After that, they turned to Glor’diadel. They have always been a stiff-necked lot, and they forbade the marriage of nobles to those outside, which caused unfortunate things, for they did not have a large number of nobles. Their priests were cut slack, because of the Heavenly Drops. There was talk that we would select a bishop when the present bishop passed, without consulting the primarch, but the primarch has traditionally selected the bishops. The priests that emerged from Life rarely leave—though we have one in the city." (They send people to investigate.)

Kit asks her scribe to (1) research the current royal family of the City of Life, with a focus on the youngest daughter; (2) compare it to records kept outside the palace; (3) compare the records of Alistair’s maternal family kept within the palace to records kept without the palace?

Her scribe has a file on the royal family of Life, kept based on orders from the Archduke’s grandmother; the primarch is a good enough man, not very bright; the primarch’s brother is a brilliant man, but very weak, due to the inbreeding—has a companion who keeps him healthy; three younger sisters, two of whom died (probably of the same inbred condition as the younger brother); the youngest sister is still quite young, and left to Khamista to enter a women’s seminary—really, a convent. She said that she would not follow her sisters, which suggests that their deaths may not have been natural.

The Archbishop then starts preparing for a 13 question commune:
  1. Does the Bishop of the City of Life worship Sytry? Yes
  2. If yes, does he know? No
  3. Has the Bishop of the City of Life attempted to seize power? Yes
  4. Is the youngest sister of the Primarch of the City of Life devoted to Glor’diadel? Yes.
  5. Is the Bishop of the City of Life good? No.
  6. Is the Patriarch of Sytry good? No.
  7. Has the Patriarch of Sytry deliberately violated the Ecumenical Compact? No.
  8. Is it still possible to get true Heavenly Drops from the spring? Yes.
  9. Are the leaders of the temple of Sytry in Canberry evil? No.
  10. Is the temple of Sytry acting against the Crown? No.
  11. Is getting an agent of Canberry inside the Dome within the next week important to the interests of Canberry? Yes.
  12. Is the connection between the City of Life and my mother’s family part of the plots of the City of Life? No, she escaped.
  13. Is the frailty and ill-health of the Primarch’s family due to natural causes such as inbreeding? No.
The Council discusses.

The Council calls the Sixth Daughter.
"Ha! The City of Life attempted to seal off the connections to the Underdark years ago and forget their old alliances. Certain noble families had alliances throughout the Underdark, and would trade with us. But that was before the strange ones came."

"Who were these strange ones?"

"New priests came among them, who were not… they were not… they were not as they appeared. They were as they appeared, but not as they appeared inside. If it were my people, I would say that they were possessed, but there were no demons inside. It was something else. We could see them. They convinced the royal family that we were dangerous and should not be traded with. They attempted to seal up the passages to the underdark, and they corrupted everything. My mother has agents among them. We knew they would raise the Dome when they had gathered enough of the Water of Life. It is an elven spring from the Eldar. I know what those priests seek—they seek to become as we are, deathless. They have been collecting this water and speaking to their false god for decades. They have been told to by the one that dwells in there. And the one that leads them does not have one dwelling in them. They do not serve a god, not the god they think they do, nor any other. They serve a great lord of chaos who is seeking to ascend, that wants them to build an immortal form.

"It will only be one of them that they can make immortal, it would convert them into primal material, they would be like a Firstcomer but not elven.

"They would have had enough 20 years ago, but they were distracted by another scheme. The Drops of Heavenly Essence are the product of massive distillations of the Water of Life. They can produce ten such drops a year. They will now distill the drops, to produce a tiny vial of viscous fluid, which one will consume. A normal human, would be destroyed. A drow, blasted asunder. But they intend to have a pure enough vessel, which they will then transform into primal material with the vial; that is the moment when the creature, the demon will possess them."

That’s when the page informs the Council that a flotilla of airships is arriving and approaching the mooring towers, while distributing magic trinkets throughout the streets as largesse.
[End session 78]


Some notes on the Western Trade Federation (I don't have the context of these, but they're from the same date as the previous session--I think they may be a recirculated version of an older document?):

The Western Trade Federation is a conglomeration of city-states, including 9 sea ports, 5 fortress cities, and 22 inland cities, including 2 mining cities - one for tin and copper, the other for iron.

The population of the Trade Federation is overwhelmingly human, although not exclusively so. Some hobbits, coexist throughout the rural holdings of the city-states and a smattering of gnomes constitute a respected part of the citizenry of the cities themselves. There is also some non-human blood carried by some of the human residents of the cities. Consensus is that about 5% carry either fey or orc blood in some small quantity.

The government of the Trade Federation as a whole is... weak. Regional loyalties divide the Federated Council, and the Grand Doge (occasionally referred to as the king by those who don't know better) is rarely able to take strong positions on anything. His job seems to be to placate those on all sides of all issues. The government is centered in the city of Morodrius. The only thing that it seems to be particularly effective at is collecting the small head tax from the various city states, and redistributing it to the five fortress cities that are the primary guard against the Forest of Shadows and the uncontrolled land to its south.

Morodrius in a sea port and has the third largest population of the city states. It is the see for the Archbishop of the Western Trade Federation, (aka the Archbishop of Morodrius, which is technically the correct title) - His Eminent Grace, the Very Reverend Claude Flarvori, who has held the see for nearly a decade, and given his age and health may hold it for two decades more, or perhaps three, if the Lord of Light favors him. While some in the Church may well assume that the reason for the government being entered in Morodrius is because of the holy sir and his predecessors – we differ. Morodrius is a protected sea port – a series of thin, steep, barrier islands of rock guarantee that the port will not be wiped out by storm, or by tidal wave. Additionally, Morodrius has a large merchant navy, AND a large armed naval force that has proved itself repeatedly by driving off pirates and protecting both shipping and fishing fleets. This increases the wealth of the city-state. Finally, the Eastern Trade Federation Exchange – the 2nd largest trade exchange in Southern Drucien, and arguably the 2nd largest such exchange on the continent proper, although it may be outshone by Hanal and/or Enclaves in the North – but no comparison has been technically made – has been located in Morodrius for over a thousand years, 400 years longer than Morodrius has been capital. It seems to us that the exchange is the major motivating factor, followed by the safety of the city, followed with only titular consideration of the ecclesiastical importance of the city. It has become routine, over the last 200 years, for the Doge of Morodrius to become Grand Doge. It is important to stress however that this is not automatic. There continues to be considerable politics surrounding the process – and the fact that a series of Doges from Morodrius have had the good fortune to be good at politics, does not change the fact that they could have lost the title. It may be easier to keep now than it is to lose – but the Federation is still some ways away from forming anything that most people would recognize as a national government. The wealth of Morodrius is undeniable however. The city-state collects a tiny 1/4th percent tax on all trades on the Exchange. That tax has lined the coffers of the city and the family of the Doge (the Calvarius family) for nearly 500 years. The present Grand Doge – Lucius Calvarius – like all of his predecessors continues to amass wealth from the tax, while continuing to tariff local businesses and merchants, as well as land holders for the money to maintain the day to day expenses of the city-state. Unlike his predecessors however, Lucius has actually expended some of the money – just recently he has commissioned two full field armies of ultra-heavy infantry. Recruitment is ongoing, but he has spared no expense, even sending a massive treasure train North to the dwarves in order that all of these ultra-heavy infantry be outfitted in Dwarven full-plate and armed with dwarf made weapons. So lucrative did the dwarves find his trade that they have sent a small core of specialists to Morodrius, to provide on the spot maintenance, repair, and adjustment. The payment he is offering to recruits is also high– but, his requirements are exceptional and he is recruiting in a broad swath that stretches all the way to Hanal. He does not care about the soldier's past – only his willingness to accept discipline, receive training, and serve loyally - and his strength and constitution.

Do not make the mistake of presuming that the wealth his family has been accruing has been exhausted now however. This expenditure, as grandiose as it seems for a city-state, does not even dent the wealth that our accountants estimate have entered the Calvarius vaults, and never exited.

So then. The 9 sea ports are (ranked from largest to smallest):
Calvinari – By a significant margin the largest seaport in the WTF – Calvinari is not particularly wealthy – but it holds its own. Heavy trade vessels that cross the ocean to both Zest'qua and Drucien tend to dock here, and the tariffs on the trade that moves through the port helps the city-state. The fishing fleet here is small. The war fleet is composed of ultra heavy ships, not good at pursuit and interdiction, but very good at static defense. The city is walled, heavily. The original city (nearly 2000 years old) has walls exceeding 30 feet in height and 20 feet in thickness, with baileys that are actually small castles scattered along haphazardly. The new city, which grew outside those walls as the WTF formed and became a stabilizing and civilizing influence throughout the region – is walled with a lighter, but still impressive wall – some 20 feet high, studded regularly with towers. The ruling family, the Trefori - is presently headed by a Doge named Houstoi, though he is somewhat simple minded, and most believe that his wife Clarissa is the actual power.

Valrius – The second largest of the seaports, and the original capital (for some 40 years after formation), The Doge of Valrius, Maddeus Thustos, ran against Lucius when his father died, but could not muster the votes needed to displace the Calvarius family from its position. Valrius has a huge fishing fleet, and is the primary exporter of salted and dried fish in the WTF. Other major exports include rock and coarse ground salt, clams, oysters, and salt water pearls. The naval fleets of Valrius are weak – lacking discipline, and strong line ships. Occasionally a concerted effort can clear out some of the pirates that prey on the fishing fleet – but because of the shallow draft approaching the port – major naval vessels do not utilize the city, instead congregating in Calvinarius, so tariff income is almost non-existent, and while there are significant markets for the various products that Valrius peddles, inland – the taxes on her merchants simply are not sufficient to support heavier ships – furthermore, a deep water quay would be needed, just to berth them.

Morodrius – the capital, already discussed.

Duci – The 4 th largest port city. The city is self-supporting, but not affluent, this large city concentrates on fishing, oyster farming and cultivation of pearls. The city has little arable land however, so much of the meager income received goes to import grain, root vegetables, and other staples. Little money is spent on defense, which is reflected in the decaying walls, untidy suburbs and aging naval force. The Doge, Zatreus Aeruli, is simply not an ambitious man – and is not likely to ever be one. His elder son, Ustus, seems to remedy that problem, but whether or not there is anything that any amount of energy and ambition can do to change the economic position of this venerable city, remains to be seen.

Pabrosi – The 5th largest port city. The Doge is Marius Nahous – whose niece, Anita, is the wife of the Grand Doge. This is an unremarkable, but quite successful city with a solid fleet, good landward defenses, and a steady amount of trade passing through – bolstered by its position as the furthest south of the sea ports in the WTF. Pabrosi also has three institutions of learning: The Sea college – which certainly helps it be well defended by sea, for many young men in the college marry local girls – there are always more wanting to settle in Pabrosi than there are places for them to work – and one solution is the naval defense force; the college of arts and sciences – calligraphers and scribes, apothecaries and lawyers, engineers and chirugeons – not only from the Federation, but from throughout southern Drucien and occasionally beyond, young people come to this college for professional training in those half dozen valued fields and others. A large part of the steady, quietly affluent economy of the city-state is the result of an ongoing devotion to educating people; the Pabrosi Conservatory of Music and Mime - which does not focus on standard bardic arts – but rather on composition and performance of music, and on theatrical writing, stage preparation and acting also brings in a certain amount of wealth - and adds culture and esteem to the local community. Doge Nahous and his family rule quietly – guaranteeing the safety and prosperity of the people, patronizing the arts, and hosting an annual fete of spring that draws wealthy participants from throughout the Western Trade Federation.

Natus – The 6th largest port. Doge Belaxurus Dodi – Natus, of all the ports, seems somehow discomforting to many visitors. There are always many rough men in the port, and rumor has been heard that many of the ships in the busy harbor are unflagged pirate ships. Certainly the port of Natus has money flowing freely from unknown sources, and the naval defenses of the city are robust - with many well armed “civilian” ships joining any defense against any aggressor. Additionally, by sea, the low barrier islands have been fortified and heavy chains have been dropped beneath the waves, easily raised with winches in the fortifications. The city is also well walled, even though landward approach leads through narrow fortified passages in craggy cliffs, where a known invading army would be devastated with boiling oil and burning naphtha.

Niduris – the 7th largest port. Doge Ariel Blaxuri – Nicuris is a modest port - and a center of craft. There are just over a 40 thousand citizens involved in crafting. While the port takes up the rest of the available citizen workforce, and many from the local suburbs.

The economy is solid - with much of the product of master craftsmen being exported by ship and pack train. The people hard working and charitable and modestly devout are also quite withdrawn from the activities of the Federation of which they are part – and therefore, the Doge of Niduris, responsive to his people, does not contend for higher position within the Federation, although the city is technically a member of the Northern Council.

Tauri – the 8th largest port. Doge Marcus Jusicanus. This city maintains a strong and nimble navy, and a strong land force – one of the largest except for the capital – with 2 full legions of heavy infantry (veteran) and 5 regiments of bull riders.
(The city is named for a generally ignored saint of the Light, Tauri: the sacred cowherd, who is as near as the Church has to a saint of agriculture. Tauri was a minotaur who converted from worship of the shadow to worship of the Lord of Light as a very young calf and spent his life preaching to the unconverted. After preaching for several years, as a young adult, he was captured by a tribe of unrepetent minotaurs led by a powerful sorcerer, near the spot where Tauri was later built. The tribe mocked the Lord of Light and tortured Tauri for nearly a week, while a band of his followers, also captured, were forced to watch. He remained strong, and refused to renounce his faith or to turn to the shadow. Finally, the sorcerer and priests of the tribe called upon their patron from the Abyss to receive the sacrifice of this stubborn minotaur – and lo, an arch-angel of the Light appeared instead and struck down the tribal leaders. Even the arch-angel's great healing power was not enough to restore Tauri's shattered body however. Having freed all of the captives, the arch-angel told them that they were to lead and teach the now leaderless tribe without Tauri, who was to return to the heavenly kingdoms to receive his reward from Glor'diadel. The arch-angel departed, taking Tauri's body with him, except for a horn, broken off in the torture, which he left behind to remind the minotaurs of what had happened. The minotaur tribe that had formerly followed the great sorcerer became a very holy tribe, and the three Glor'diadelian tribes of minotaurs in the present age sprang from that single line, to whit, the Bright Hooves, the Silver Horns and the original, the Golden Pelt.

The minotaur tribe settled, and for centuries dwelt in the same spot – herding goats, and twice seeing small bands break off – to establish tribes elsewhere. Then, humans began to settle in the area. By this time the minotaurs had built a rather mazey shrine to Tauri, and to the Lord of Light. When the humans encountered these minotaurs, and gradually distrust turned to unease, to comfort, to alliance, and to absorption, they were shocked to find that the minotaurs already worshiped the Light. Once this came to the attention of the first bishop of the area, it was reported to the holy see for doctrinal reasons – was Tauri a saint? An imposter? Were the minotaurs acceptable unto the Lord of Light? The answer, given to the patriarch when he communed regarding the issue – was yes, Tauri was a saint and the minotaurs, along with all creatures great and small were beloved by the Lord of Light.

So it is. The seat of the bishop of Tauri is in the Basilica of the Horn in Tauri city, where the sacred relic of the horn of Tauri, the sacred cowherd is kept in a reliliquary suspended in the high altar and guarded day and night by a guard of 30 minotaur paladins. The tribe, some 400 strong, continues to live in the area, some of them even in the city - and others herding in the land outside it. The chief order house of the Order of Tauri (OT) is just outside the city's landward gates, and has twice given possible invaders pause. The order is over 80% minotaur, with the rest of its members being primarily composed of humans.)
The city handles a fair amount of trade – and also presses and purifies goat cheeses, sells both carded wool and finished woolen clothe from the goats herded nearby, and is a very small pilgrimage center.

Simbolisi – the 9th largest port. Alexis Bradoris is Doge, the only female doge in the WTF. Simbolisi has a modest fishing fleet, a good solid, though small, navy, a small, elite, calvary, and a significant number of alchemists and two small psionic circles. Exports therefore tend to alchemical and psionic products – not necessarily of the highest quality in the world, but of adequate quality – particularly for purely human workmanship. The city is affluent, and probably, per capita, the second wealthiest city in the Federation. Doge Brandoris minds her business, as others of her family have in the past – and oversees the defense of her city and its suburbs and rural holdings – voting regularly in the council of doges, but never rocking the boat if it can be avoided.

The 5 Fortress Cities:
These cities are not under Doges, but rather under Procurators. Each city-state does have farm lands from which it draws some support – but the cities would not survive without the support given centrally by the federated government. Each city has approximately 2 legions of elite heavy infantry, and a couple of regiments of elite medium calvary stationed within the walls – but above that, the citizenry, which averages about 80,000 in each city, is universally a militia. Each of the fortress cities is heavily walled, in five concentric circles. Nothing in any of the fortress cities is flammable. All external construction and most internal construction is stone or metal. All open surfaces are either covered in metal nets, or shielded in some other way. No roof has a convenient perch, and all roofs are of well secured sheeted metal. The only exceptions to this are firing platforms prepared in advance for militia and military defense. Each of the fortress cities has a mage circle and at least a small number of psionics assigned to its defense, to support the military defenders, and to provide communication in the event of an emergency.

From north to south, the fortress cities, and their procurators are:
Sintari – Procurator Gubacci Telero
Bodori – Procurator Tulfori Crabanachi
Titorisi – Procurator Abansia Telcuffri
Mantili – Procurator Cudili Mokanori
Ilsati – Procurator Lucien Agadito

Sintari actually falls under the Archsbishop of Life, and has a bishop assigned by him – Adolfo Petreu. The other four fortress cities fall under the Archbishop of Morodrius, and have a single bishop between them, the bishop of the Frontier, Claudius Calagaro.


Session 79 (March 31, 2016)

Tar-Skard 19
Dame Brionna and Kit head out to try to manage the possible problems created by the Moriquendarim distributing toys en masse.

Dame Brionna gets a message from Strawberry that two of the schooners pealed off from this group, and are definitely flying a search party to the south. Dame Brionna heads off to intercept them, and sees that they are crewed by drow, with some shadow elf officers.

“As we approached your city, we sensed a force of considerable chaos fleeing to the south; just above the ground, but fleeing fast, not fast enough to escape our ships but fast enough to elude our flyers.”

“It definitely had malicious intent, though not towards us. It suddenly vanished right there,” he gestures at a spot two hills over.

Dame Brionna heads over to investigate, and they assign a squad of 6 drow to assist her.

Alistair checks maps of the area and identifies it as an ancient graveyard, long unused. They organize an undead response team and send it over.

As Dame Brionna approaches, the whole area darkens. A voice speaks very clearly in Noldar, the corporal leading the group laughs, and the drow close in near her. “It says that its grief is not with us, but that one who its grief is stands within us.”

Alistair summons his Noldar vassal, the admiral’s nephew. He reports that it is a fallen Maia, one of the thirty that escaped in the desert, but one that is forsworn from Morgroth.

We decide to sic the temple of Morgroth on it, contacting the priests on the prince’s ship.

Meanwhile, Kit receives sheets of crystal from a messenger.

Unto Lady Katherine of Lyneham:
Included with this message is my servant. Madame Dumay. She is a half-caste and blind, and while she should have been exposed, I would not permit it, and my husband permitted it. She is loyal to me.

I have foreseen that together your offspring and the legitimate offspring of the Emperor will stand together. Two of them you may stymie.

Protect her well.

A gift for the Archduke. A bolt of cloth, of 30 yards, of adamantine woven with mithril, with threads of eog, that holds psionic energy.

(They don’t realize that you have no one who is capable of tailoring it. Although Madame Dumay is.)

Kit shows her into an informal meeting room.

She is a slender woman, with clear Noldar and other blood, dressed in common clothing for a Noldar, with the seal of House Aufaulgautharim at her collar. She gives Kit a more complete message, largely restating the previous message in more detail. [Attached]

The second page is a seal, with a blank space. "Four times in your reign, information will appear in that space when you most need it. Twice in the reign of your son. And once beyond that. The knowledge was written in the crystal. They will reveal themselves when the time is right. As you know, her nephew will remain here. She wished your people to succeed. He will fade in time, but it is still her nephew."

The Council asks about the fallen Maia.

"You must understand that the 30 were broken out of prisons into which they had been permanently been placed for breaking with his service and serving the foulest creatures, including the Unspeakable Three. Some, we know, had taken service with Borsh’tro and his minions. At least one had taken service with the Queen of Chaos, who had long been bound. And at least two took service with She of the Pale Bone. One of them (sworn to the Pale Bone) sought to seize power of the holy city of Glordiadel—they have great power—but he underestimated the strength of the priests, and he was thrust forth from the plane, but we were not able to discern whether he was destroyed. He is either banished for 100 years or is no more. Or more accurately, for 94 years now.

"A human band of adventurers came upon them in an empire called Tarkenia. Rather than consulting with the nearby Hastur, they investigated the ancient wards that maintained the globes of force. They were then set upon by the guardians, who were of elven blood, who knew their duty but were young. The humans slew them atop the seals, shedding elven blood, and broke the seals.

"More than one had a grudge against Glordiadel. He would need a base of operations nearby, where he could draw energy to sustain himself."

"Was there a center of Noldar power here?"

"Not for thousands of years, but there was a Moriquendarim outpost here. A Noldar and his wife set up a tower and a few buildings. The tower is part of the castle still. They remained here for quite some time, and then underwent the Rite of Returning. Moriquendarim erased them from their history, for that is the most unforgivable thing, but Aufaulgautharim forgets nothing."


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[Session 79, cont'd]

Dame Brionna reaches the palace ahead of the ship, as a contingent of Morgrothian priests who look almost nothing like priests meet her. “We were hoping that it would pursue you, but that has obviously not happened. We will have to go to it. We will either be enough, or we will not. Come, boy.” The whole contingent floats up into the air. “Come if you wish.” Most of the priests are Drow and half-drow, some of whom may have Noldar blood.

An enormous ball of blue energy flies out of the graveyard at them. They shriek and whoop and fly down towards it. Daemons begin appearing and look incredulously as they are hurled into combat. The battle lasts 30 seconds or 36 seconds, and Dame Brionna and the soldiers accompanying her are the only things left on her side. “I go. You will see me again when there are not so many Noldar so near by you.”

That’s the point when Alistair informs Lord Davion. Who says he will release his menagerie whatever that means.

"I am the Maia Moriandar who once served the Vanar, and then departed them to serve Morgroth, and then left his service to serve Her Who Consumes, who will arise from the East when she comes to this world. I will find a way to permit it. I wish the reward that I have been promised. I shall feast on the power of my former master when he lies prostrate before the ravenous hoard. Only two of us had the wisdom to serve Her when we departed our master. Several of them became lords of the Abyss. One of them swore itself to the Queen of Chaos. One swore himself to the Lord of Disease—a particularly foolish decision, as he will not be able to enter beyond the Compact. Two of them have passed beyond the Arch, looking for places where they too can be gods. Several are independent. Perhaps I am feeling enough stronger to consider remaining for a time."

"Indeed," says the Noldar boy. "You must remain, you must tell her of your plans that we surely cannot prevent."

"While all of her other servants ran away making spectacles of themselves, I have been clever. I can appear as a being of light, you know. And yet you always figured it out. And so now, we wait on the conversion."

"Oh? Of the vessel?"

"We must keep you from completing the plan for only another week, and then it will be too late. A way will then be made that she can enter even without her body. The final throw before you activate the Man. And then we shall see who speaks of such things as stupidity and foolishness."

That’s the point when Lord Davion dives out of the sky screaming “Die, foul beast!” and attacking, accompanied by an elderly gold dragon, an efreet, several larger-than-usual djinn.

Dame Brionna casts prayer and follows it with holy smite.

Dame Brionna feels a great warmth. The boy behind her querulously says “my lady, you seem to be on fire.” She concentrates on the maia, and enormous gouts of sunfire hammer it as an archangel is superimposed on her.

"As soon as they have finished the conversion in the north and she fully enters the vessel that is being prepared, we will sweep all before us. Only disrupting the distillation process could stop us now, and we have sealed the dome and the underground passage has been sealed for years."

All of a sudden, it seems very very surprised, and tries to flee. An enormous wave of energy surges through Dame Brionna and Lord Davion unleashes all of the energy he has, and it explodes. Dame Brionna faints.

A messenger arrives. “I have been asked to inform you that your Champion, along with the Guard Captain and some drow soldiers have destroyed the Fallen. Your guard captain and champion are both unconscious. She has burns on the outside of our body; we have no redactors. If you do, I suggest you summon them.”

Dame Brionna is unconscious and burned, but breathing.

Lord Davion is unconscious from having completely drained his psionic energy.

They pour a tincture from the leaves of the tree that the Princess of Singing Leaves left behind on Dame Brionna, and she’s then encased in skin. Probably will only take a few days.

The dragons say that they’ve been here for as long as Lord Davion, and have spoken to you.

"And of course some of the time we’ve been miniaturized, and that’s how we can live in the bag—the bag of live holding, very rare, we have a whole little town in there. When I am in human form, I go by Bernard, but my real name is <he rumbles out something in silver dragon>.

"The Fallen Maia are the most powerful, and the stupidest, of the extraplanar beings."
[End session 79]


Session 80 (April 14, 2016)

Tar Skard 20
The Council receives a report about marriages and bloodlines throughout the continent. [Attached]
Quan is a fey term for the body.

We have five cellars, including a collection of high glass golems who scry in a special seeing pool in the fourth cellar (the First Repository), which is beyond a veil that can only be entered by members of the blood or by those with special rings. Also the fifth cellar, which has an empty crypt.

The 100 year plan involves three families of the City of Life, that have been marrying into noble families and cadet branches of the royal families, that then inherit. Alistair's mother’s family is not part of those three; she seems to be the only one of that family. They have also traced three relatives of his mother who survive—there are two children who escaped the dome, and are safe. There is also a noblewoman inside the dome who is being tortured. The Council's fear is that they can use her relationship to him for arcane purposes.

The Grandmaster Farsensor confirms that they could use the blood connection to scry on Alistair and to read his mind. Were he near them, he could be harmed, but within the palace, he is safe, except that his mind could be read. It is unlikely that they were able to get him to cooperate. The person trying to read his mind is a low level grandmaster—unusual among humans. They abruptly cut off contact about 300 years ago, and expelled the elven bard who was present.

In Debonai, for example, where a similar pattern repeats, the royal family seemed likely to die off, and then the family into which the City of Life had married would succeed.

We speak to Lord Davion, and he gives us permission to use his bag of life holding, which can hold up to 500 people. We put the Sixth Daughter in command; Lord Davion recommends that we ask our guest to assign two of his people; Dame Brionna and Kit each assign 20 people, along with various members of the Ministry of Magic and of the Mind.

The Council talks to a sidhe lady, who talks about the tree’s squirrel, who is immortal and full of life.

The sidhe offers to send the gigglers as a diversion—they are not fey themselves, but they are their pets. They cause uncontrollable laughter, and chaos is well within our power.

Also, she announces that there should be a ball within the next few months, and Alistair and Kit should both be present and be radiant. "You will both be magnificent." She gives Kit armloads of clothes. "It is important—it appears in the prolipsis. You must impress."

The Council agree that the priorities are: 1. Disrupt the ritual; 2. Capture some of the distillate of Heavenly Essence; 3. Rescue the prisoners (esp. Alistair’s relative).

The fey says that they are likely to succeed in our first goal, are doomed to fail at the third, and that the second is on the knife’s edge.

There are four gallons of distillate, each in a diffuser on a short plinth, arrayed around a bizarre design placed within the cathedral.

In addition to 40 iron golems, there will be about 4 legions of troops: 3 of foot, and 1 of cavalry, plus some dozens of church knights, perhaps 100. An Archmaga, and a group of psionicists—a farsensor of significant power and a half-dozen coercers. Those are probably not local—she did not recognize the farsensor.
[End Session 80]

[There's also a second message, directly to Kit. I don't have any notes about our talking about it, or interacting with its info in any way.]


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Session 81 (July 14, 2016)

21 Tar-Skard
The Council gathers in the morning. They discuss the report from the Southlands. [Attached.]

The Council speaks to a theologian.

"Berta has formed alliances of convenience over the centuries, allowing her to gain various advantages. This time, as the Day of the Dead approached, she formed an alliance with Borsh’tro, likely to protect her people on Khamista, but Borsh’tro was more powerful than usual, and he used this as an opportunity to conquer her people. She has been greatly reduced—to the status of a lesser god. But she may also have been driven mad. She appears to have been silenced, but that would be beyond Borsh’tro’s powers. One of the two Prime Gods could, but they wouldn’t. An alliance of lesser gods might, but Borsh’tro has no allies—Antharax might be a possibility. Surely, even Borsh’tro wouldn’t deal with the Pariah Deities…"

The Council fears that Borsh’tro would, and that that could have silenced (or even killed) Berta. They also discuss the idea of trying to draw the Berta cults off—shifting them to Whimsey? Drawing them to Glor’diadel?

They discuss the issues with the Mountains of the Mages—no one knows what motivates them. They call the Minister of Magic, and he explains that this is all about the pipes. "There was an Eldar lord there, and his great work was an organ, with many pipes, each with a different magical effect when sounded. When the West called his wife, he lost the will to continue, and he had many human servants he had trained in magic and many fortresses filled with his golems. He released the mages to continue his work. They could not do so, but for a generation tried to. After that, they began fighting among themselves. Now, there is one mage who has five pipes—it might be over in a few centuries. Of course, they can never finish making the organ—there were pipes unmade, and no human mage could make them."

They arrange to have the survivor of the attack by the Pariah followers teleported back to Canberry, so they can investigate the attack near the southern coast. A confused tween with a side-bag is brought before the Council.

"We were building boats—we were almost to the coast, we had been a fishing city before it fell. They arrived on flying manta rays. The riders looked kinda like that other one we trade with, with the tentacles, but their mouths were fanged. The fellow we trade with, he’s sorta pink, and he wears a lot of gold on his tentacles. He tells stories about people living underground, and scary monsters. He trades for the pearls we find."

Kit has the boy visualize what happened. The riders slaughtered most of the residents without any preamble. But some, two women and a group of children, were brought over for sacrifice. A purple pillar arises, two translucent figures emerged, the others bowed to them. Then they mounted the manta rays (leaving two tentacle creatures behind, which then went into the woods.) The boy sees a figure hunt down the two tentacle creatures that went into the woods—a red-robed, piebald skaven. It identifies itself as Skree.

"All of the ones sacrificed had selkie blood—there was a selkie city that traded with and intermarried with our old city, before the war. They tried to contact the Selkie city when the war happened, but we couldn’t reach them."

* * *

Dame Brionna shares a report about the young Mori'quendarim lord. [Attached] The Council calls Prince Mori’quendarim. “I had to resist having the Captain of my Guard kill that one who is not a priest but claims to be. He is bilking the local populace, claiming to have magical healing power granted by a power of the Light that is not your power of the Light.”

They have a conversation with him, explaining that they need to maintain an honor guard for him, so he should tell us if he’s going about the city.

The prince calls for his tutor, to ask about why there is a higher incidence of psionics among the humans in the lower quarter. “Very old, very faint, dilute fey blood in the lower quarter.”

"Why in the lower quarter?"

"The fey settlement is beneath it. Well, there are no people there. But there was a delve beneath the lower quarter—that was where their 'tor' was."


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[Session 81, cont'd]
As they leave, there’s a shimmer at the door. A projection—like a shiny metallic elf—bows. “I report from the repository.”

"You asked that we research the coming of the Ancient Evils. The coming of the Ancient Evils are mixed into the foundation of evil in this plane set. The first evil to enter, look ago, before the coming of the stars, was the One Other. It was he who by whispering began the corruption of the brother of Eiru, but he was expelled outwards, when Morgrath heard the whispering but did not follow his whispers. After his expulsion, he shared with the one he always desires but never possesses, and he spoke with The Goddess of the Pale Bone. By this point, the shards of the essence of Eiru and Morgrath formed what would become the greater gods—Glor’diadel, Paranswarm, Namadon, Berta, Balanzar, Borsh’tro. Then the lesser gods arose from them, except for Dain, who advanced later to greater godhood. Then breach, and three others entered, Sytry, the Ruler of Golden Purity, Gunnora the Goddess of the Harvest, and his ancient foe on his homeworld, and Arthranax, the Greater Lord of Evil that has long deceived the priesthood of evil that though powerful he is but a shadow of a powerful evil. His title is true. He is an incarnation of an avatar of the One Beside. That is why the One Beside cannot be easily expelled fully from this plane in the way that the One of the Pale Bone and the One Other can. They have greatly corrupted the demons, though never conquered, and through them and the puppet of the One Beside, much corruption comes into the world. His class of priests called Corruptors are not an affectation.

"The force that is Balanzar is mindless. The creature that gives mind to it, and that deals with his servants, is not the mindless force. The vessel that now wields that power arose from an Eldron, but there is no guarantee that that vessel will be the last vessel. There is no guarantee that it will not."

"Are there any alliances between Arthranax and Borsh’tro?"

"Yes, although it is a new alliance. When he was preparing for the push into new lands on Zest’qua, Borsh’tro formed an alliance with Arthranax."

"Do you know who has silenced Berta?"

"Yes. She has not been silenced and yet she has. Berta is dead. Her essence was destroyed by the alliance of Arthranax and Borsh’tro, with an infusion of power from the Goddess of the Pale Bone. When next she allied with Glor’diadel or Eiru or Whimsey, she might have revealed the taint that she sensed but thought nothing of. They were afraid to leave her alone. Arthranax was afraid to leave her alone. And so they destroyed her and consumed her essence. It is doubtful that Eiru noticed. It is certain that none of the other gods did—it would be beyond their credence."

"Could the gods be informed?"

"The two original gods could, under the correct circumstances and with care, be informed. Lord Dain could be informed. The priesthoods of the others could be convinced, but the gods themselves, almost certainly not. You would need embassies with their high priests, the highest star priestess in the Steading of the Elven Lords, and the chief priest of Morgrath in the Twin Cities. Together, they could crush Arthranax out of this plane.

"In the meanwhile, the folk struggle. The planes of Berta, and the great arch-chaos creatures struggle together to be the new head of their pantheon. Borsh’tro now has no hold on any of her followers, who are crippled by their loss.

"There is one other you could convince—Gunnora will listen to you. By the First, she will listen—if you speak to the lowliest midwife, she will listen."

"Do you know where the globe of the former God-Emperor of Masque that sustains one of their portals is?"

"At the base of an island in the Southern Seas. In a grotto guarded by a number of the creatures that serve her by nature.

"The inland portal near Masque is irregular. They had hoped to establish it as they did once before to a strength where they can bring through a greater one. It waxes and wanes with the purple moon. Whimsey linked her moon to their gate to disrupt it. We could consider approaching her to approach Eiru—he is her brother/father."

"What creatures of theirs do you know are active?"

"We know of the Seen-Unseen, and the Uluu—(the tentacle ones). The two that came through in the ritual were likely Greater Seen-Unseen. The lesser Seen-Unseen are mostly just assassins. The Greater Seen-Unseen have ritual powers and powers of corruption, and stand better in combat. They can also be discovered by the test of blood.

"They have brought through at least one hakura—a great flying bird, similar to a buzzard but the size of a boat. Its breath is an energy whip, particularly dangerous to ships and valars although Eldar and Noldar men-of-war made short work of a number of them the last time around. They can transport many troops and supplies, and drop the troops behind enemy lines.

"There is no sign that the incursion will become large enough to allow the greater horrors to come through. They would have to start winning some battles.

"Should we attempt to close the gates before activating the artifact?"

"If you activate the artifact first, you will close off her entry, but she is nowhere near able to enter anyway. You would alert the other two, and they would be able to take her servants and act as her proxy. I would suggest closing a portal first, because that will then disrupt all of them."
[End session 81]

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