Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes (posts MTWF, temporarily, most recent 6/23/22)

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 117, cont'd]
The Archivist asks if they have interest in the relics from the fallen voller.

"During the time of the Three Patriarchs, the Archduchy remained neutral—there was a disagreement between the Archduke and his wife, and he said the Lord of Light would sort it out. She supported Mides, who did not ultimately prevail. You must understand that an unrepentant heretic, who is claiming to be patriarch without divine imprimatur, must be dealt with severely. When his partisans fell and he refused to renounce his claim, he was beheaded by the Order of the Misty Dawn. The other pretender, the Bishop Soriato, ultimately withdrew his claim and served out his life in a monastery."

They speculate about whether this ties in to the plots of Sytry and indirectly Arthranax.

They ask for the Tor lord to visit them.

Very shortly, the Tor lord, a lady fey that we don’t think we’ve met before, and a group of smaller fey arrive. They arrived on strange horses with antlers and wings.

The Council asks about Duchess Lesse.

“Ah. The foundling. Sometimes our affections are spread broadly. It is our nature, the nature of life. And a sad, sad person came to us, to one of my sisters, and she thought she would bring him joy, a taste of heaven, and his race was so … non-reproductive, that she did not expect to become pregnant. But she did, through the grace of Whimsey, and her daughter was born, and she was named Rubyleaf, and we raised her among us, but she was never truly happy among us. She wanted order and organization, and you know how it is. And your forefather, Andor, was trying to drive out the monsters, and protect the farmers, and reinhabit the city that long predated him. And he was also sad, and so we let her see him. And she loved what she saw, and she stood under a mushroom, and he saw her, and they fell in love. They married and had three children, but it was cut short. We are glad that you remember her name.”

“Do you remember her father’s name?”

“He was a renegade, the last of the renegades that built the undercroft here. He was not a slaver, though he was of that house.

"Rubyleaf remained to see her children and her grandchildren grow, and then by her choice she returned to the land.

"If it were not for a later infusion of blood, your lives might become as short as all other humans. There was an archduke who loved deeply and took to wife a part-elf from far Khamista. Gertrude was properly Ardhelarwenhelene. But she wanted to be a human, and she was only quarter elven, so she brought some of the longevity with her.

"The Archduchess Aimee was of great faith, but she was also one who knows how to bargain. She bargained for a greater blessing, that the blood derived from our beloved daughter be strengthened. Between us and her god, it was enough. It blessed her daughter with great psionic and magic ability, and both the sight and the walk."

They ask what the walk is. "In your garden there are trees. If I select a tree in your garden, I can walk into a tree and emerge in a forest 5000 miles away. It is called the feywalk."

The feywalk is almost unheard of among humans… but Alistair’s children might be able to, based on all of the gifts they have received.

They discuss Kit’s child; that he has awakened so soon is all but unheard of except among the greatest elves. It will give him unparalleled control; if combined with strength, he may be a truly great psion.

Kit asks how long Alistair will likely live. It is reasonable to assume that Alistair will reach between 100 and 150 years in good health before he perishes. He will remain hale and hearty until shortly before he passes, when he will quickly fade. When it begins, he must put all his affairs in order quickly. Alistair mentions that he does not plan to rule to old age, but will likely step down at 60 or 70 when his children are well and truly of age and prepared.

There is a slight smell of flowers in the conference room, and the tapestry seems much more three-dimensional. Alistair tries to enter, and succeeds in going into a forest path. It’s a little pocket dimension, as far as they can tell. It’s a fair sized entirely self-contained woods. There’s a brook that comes from nowhere and goes to nowhere. There are a couple hundred trees, lots of flowers, berry bushes, a rabbit. Alistair and Kit go inside and frolic.

Dame Brionna returns, is startled that Alistair and Kit have gone, and asks the page where they are. She’s told and sticks her head into the tapestry and scolds us.

Dame Brionna gripes about their lack of modesty, and Alistair makes a gift of it for Kit’s bedchamber.

They call for an alchemist. He’s fully familiar with the blood contaminated by the Kingdom of Life. He examines Alistair’s blood. He is fully free of that taint, but does have a slight amount of the old blood. That’s important to tell to any psions doing healing, especially with skin—it can result in overhealing. Amazingly, it’s a mix, with a tiny bit, perhaps 1/64 or less of Noldar, a little more of fey, and a larger amount—but of lower birth-of light elven blood.

Kit is checked as well. She is even more close to fully human than Alistair, but she has some other blood. About 1 in 128 is tiefling blood. It’s only a concern because it can draw one of them to you or make them obsessed with you. At that level of dilution, it should have very little effect—perhaps some resistance to poison (+1 to saves versus poison), and could explain the psionics. It’s nowhere near enough to allow her to be dispelled or bound. But it’s also clearly tiefling blood, and diabolic in extraction.
[End Session 117.]

[I'll be taking a week off from posting, but will resume 6/20.]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 118 (10/26/20)

22 Ras
Alistair gets woken in the middle of the night.

Kit shakes him awake. “The middle gem on the fan has someone behind it—there’s another fan out there and a new person just took possession of it.”

It felt inert—not vacant, just inert, before it activated. She overheard a little bit as someone else heard it.

Kit decides to wait until morning and then talk to Grandmaster Farsensor.

In the morning:

The Council meets and plans a to-do list.

1. There was a ritual planned for the first night of the full red moon in Ras--this night. Was it disrupted fully? Are they still going to try to do something? They plan on some divinations.
  1. Talk to Grandmaster Farsensor and Kit’s scribe re the Other Fan—who might have it, does this compromise the network, who might have it.
  2. Respond to the letter from Eugene, Earl of Caldra. They plan on talking to Violet Furrows, Alistair's privy secretary. [Missing? I'll try to find this and post it later.]
  3. Respond to the message about building vollers [Attached.]
  4. Talk to Lady Constance about Kit’s tiefling ancestry
They have Violet Furrows join us for breakfast.

“We presume there are new earls of Caligshire and Caldra. Is that correct?”

“Yes, Eugene inherited Caldra and Benedict inherited Caligshire.”

“What do you think of him?” asks Dame Brionna.

“Benedict was not his father’s choice—he was grooming his younger daughter, Cassandra. I frankly believe that Benedict is a better choice for the archduchy.”

“Why do you say that?” asks Kit.

“Cassandra has been long-influenced by her father’s advisor Drucilla. Mind you, she is an excellent ranger, and skilled in some very important administrative skills. But Drucilla’s influence was significant and she never gained Benedict’s favor. Cassandra did not inherit, because she was viewed as tainted by her father’s treason and heresy. But Benedict left the Earldom for many years, to escape his father’s wrath and Drucilla’s influence. He went to the Holy See for some time. He is a paladin, though perhaps less trained in administrative matters than ideal. Cassandra has gone into the wilderness; she has no support among the common people, but she has drowan troops from somewhere, and is striking at loyal troops. Some civilians are disappearing.

“Benedict is unusual. He started as a mage, then took holy orders as a paladin. He’s brilliant, determined. He knows he needs to marry, but his order the Templars of the Tower is celibate, and he’s troubled by that.”

The Council plans on setting up a set of prospective spouses—highly religious Glordiadelians, skilled in administration, loyal to the Archduchy, and down with a political marriage, and making it clear that he’s expected to make a choice quickly. We also reach out through the Archbishop to get either his superior or the superior general of the male orders to give Benedict a special dispensation to marry “because of the manifest need for him to marry and father heirs.”

Cassandra had a paramour, but after they fled together she killed him by slitting his throat and draining the blood—suggests ritualism.

Lady Violet knows that the Duke of Furrows has been sending regular reports by courier, but they haven’t arrived. The Council arranges to provide a magical secure connection, brought and delivered by a mage.

Eugene is a perfectly nice man, though simple and tractable. His wife Elizabeth Toringsvale was well en route to becoming a Nun of the Silvery Veil when her family called her back because of problems. Her father was a special advisor to the Sheriff of Cogswood. Her father is an extremely expert ranger.

They had a startling whirlwind relationship. The Council thinks it’s unlikely that she’s the real Elizabeth. But she’s taken a firm grip on the finances.

The Baroness of Grokken’s young wife is not pleased by Caldra’s new focus on money. [I think this is an error--that it is the Baron of Grokken's young wife--

Elizabeth has never even visited the convent of the Silvery Veil in Furrows to withdraw.

Drucilla was missing for some time, but she has been seen recently. The Duke of Furrows has been very concerned. She is a very powerful psion—flattened two knights just by glaring at them. She always said that she was a competent ranger, some minor psionic abilities, and something of a craftswoman, but when she was angry and felt insulted—she dropped those two knights to the ground before she could control herself. She has been seen emerging from the woods at several thorps, particularly in the last month.

Alistair reaches out through the land and feels queasy in those woods—there is a stomach ache in the land—primarily in Caldra, actually, but at the edges of Caligshire, he gets a sense of a sickness in the land, and it is moving. It is like looking at a group of cells and seeing the bacteria. He can see areas where they are gathered in the deep woods. There are three concentrations, one large one and two smaller ones. One of the smaller ones has a deeper sickness. It is not far from the village of Storr.

They ask Lady Violet to coordinate with Dame Brionna’s sister on finding prospective candidates for the Lady of Caligshire.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 118, cont'd]
They then send for Grandmaster Farsensor. Kit asks about the fan.

“Oh, its twin must be awake.”

“We didn’t even know that there was a twin. Do you know who has it?”

“No, I don’t even know who made it. It could only be made by a First-comer, or perhaps a strong Second-comer. We didn’t realize that it had twinned, and I didn’t want to worry you. But it must have been made by our cousins at the same time. Was the connection strong, or did it waver?”

“It wavered.”

“They are untrained then. Would you like me to seal it off, so the communication can only be one way—that you can observe and hear, but they cannot?”

Kit says yes. The Grandmaster tells us that objects like this can get offended by being handled by someone besides the person that it bonds to. Kit works to keep its offense to a minimum.

“It is sealed. You will be able to sense any thoughts of the one who holds it, but they will not even know you exist—it will not light their gem.”

“They were primarily gifted to the l-younger races by both my people and the others. It was probably not a Noldar who handled it, because they would recognize it immediately. It might be in the possession of a lesser elf, or of a human. Likely a gift from its creator to one of its vassals. There are only a handful of human areas that are old enough. If it is not in the hands of an elven group—and it cannot be in the Underdark, because you would not be able to hear them—City of Life is old enough, Ecsilias is old enough, certainly not Masque unless it was taken as booty, nor Hanal.”

It could also have been made by the not-quite-Eldron First ones in the Crystal Cities.

It didn’t sound like the local accent, nor like the accent around Enclaves.

It almost can’t be a triplet—that would require active collusion, although it might be possible if one of the remnants of the Crystal City colluded with both.

They ask him to scry on the area where they think Drucilla is. There is forest, and then a hole in the ground, into which the viewpoint flies. There are several drained bodies. There are also a number of drow moving resolutely around the area. And indeed, there is what appears to be an Albino drowess here, dressed appropriately for House Aleval, but the drow warriors are dressed in high glass armor—all but unheard of among Llolthian drow. They are preparing a ritual space. There are cages of prisoners visible in the back. There is a powerful set of wards with a seeming. The drow warriors are heavily armed, but they have no heraldry whatsoever.

The Council calls for Lord Davion.

“They never give up, do they. Why are they feeding power to the northwest? It looks like they’re sending the power stream all the way to Hanal. That’s disturbing. Did you know about this?”

“No, they didn’t have me look until now.”

“Good catch. That ritual has to be stopped. They’re feeding an enormous amount of power to Hanal. And they’re preparing a horrific ritual—look at those implements. They will individually kill them in the most painful way possible. On the night of the full red moon, it will be empowered greatly.”

“That is not Lord Raf’s sister. It is his niece. Among my people, Lord Quinliart’s parents were remarkably fecund. Two renegades. My people are ashamed. Lord Quinliart had a sister and a brother as well. Princess Curinirim killed his sister, but his brother is now head of the Seventh Region.”

Lord Davion says that he needs to attack, but they have four charged death lances. He could block one, but he would need either someone who can shield him or cannon fodder. They will send a paladin guard with a war banner of light—the War Banner of the Unconquerable Sun-- to try to blind the enemy. They propose making him a lead shield. They also propose sending a devil with a tower shield as a shield bearer.

They call for Dame Constance, and she agrees to send three pit fiends carrying tower shields made of lead.

They travel to the gating room. Dame Brionna suggests sending Dame Christine of the Woody Thicket. Before they leave, Grandmaster Farsensor scries on Elizabeth of Caldra. There is a young, very serious looking man sitting on a chair hearing a case between a pair of farmers. And next to him is a breathtakingly beautiful woman. She whispers a reasonable sounding ruling to him, and he repeats it word-for-word. The next case is of a merchant who was swindled by magical fool’s silver. She makes another fair ruling.

She’s barely showing, but she’s also pregnant.

Alistair projects in, courtesy of the Grandmaster Farsensor, and they verify that the letter sent bears no resemblance to the one received.

“My cousin came home from the convent, she did not want to, but her father called for her. I told her I would take care of her family. We fell in love.”

“We will need to verify this with your cousin. If she does, on behalf of the Archduchy, we will close our eyes to this matter.”

They discuss helping their economy by opening trade to the lizardfolk and kobolds for salt. They also suggest allowing them issue letters of credit for 50,000 to 100,000 silver, redeemable for metal in 5 years, backed by the credit of the treasury of the Archduchy. They also suggest resettling refugees on the farms that were depopulated.

The trolls are becoming restless, and they are traditional enemies of the lizardfolk.

Grandmaster Farsensor does object reading on the falsified letter. A young woman, who bears a superficial resemblance to Eugene, at a camp table, wrote the letter. A young man is bound hand and foot behind her. They send someone to grab the person who delivered that letter. Kit’s people track him to one of the hidden, lower-class brothels, and they have him grabbed for questioning.

They also ask Dame Constance to inquire about Kit’s ancestry. "It’s very faint, but it stretches all the way back to Geryon, Archdevil of the Second Plane of Hell. He’s known for abusing beautiful women. He’s one of the only ones with any power of psionics. He is very lawful, very lawful—the only Archdevil who never plotted against the others because it would be against the law. She might have resistance to cold, she might have some talent with cold magic. But the magic is very weak, because the bloodline is so weak—so thin at this point."

---
They set about building a new, secure system of communication with all of the nobles—secure boxes that teleport missives back and forth, and mark who actually used them.
[End Session 118]
 

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