Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes (posts MWF, irregular during summer, most recent 7/28/22)

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]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 119 (November 11, 2020)

22 Ras (cont’d)

A fierce pitched battle ensues when Lord Davion and company attack. The War Banner of the Unconquerable Sun has particularly strong effects on the drow, although not Drucilla, who fights with full vigor. The serious battle is between Lord Davion and Drucilla. The battle is epic—at first she fights intently to win, then over time becomes determined to take him with her. The epithets that she spits at him are bone-chilling. Finally, when Grandmaster Farsensor realizes that she might succeed in taking Lord Davion with her, he intervenes. Though not a significant warrior, he is enough to tip the balance. When she dies, something strange happens—her soul does not go to the West as would be expected, even for a Noldar. A cloud of energy forms above her, the wrongness of which we can feel through the psionic projection. There is an unearthly howl that flattens some of the guards, and then she dissipates, both her soul and the body, leaving behind a strange ichor. Lord Davion has one of the pit fiends gather up the ichor on one of the lead shields, being certain to leave none behind. Lord Davion is gravely wounded as they return.

“She fought all the more bitterly when she recognized me.”

“Her death was strange.”

“She was devoted to the ultimate enemy, and utterly corrupted by it. It consumed her. The ichor must be destroyed in a holy place.”

Everyone in the encampment fought to the death—they would not accept quarter. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Dame Christine of the Woody Thicket, one of the paladins.

The Council dispatches strike teams at the other two locations, plus a group to take charge of the freed prisoners from Drucilla’s encampment. The prisoners are brought back in about an hour.

The rescue group brings back a group of prisoners, who are then carefully examined. Two have small implants at the base of their spines. “They appear to be separately alive, Dame. They have separate consciousness. It’s fairly primitive, but definitely conscious.”

They ask the people with the implants. “Don’t know what they are, but it’s talking to me. It’s encouraging me to accept the meld. I don’t think I can resist forever… I’ve seen it happen to other people. They stopped knowing what they knew before, and knew other things, like magic when they were a farmer. That Drow lady picked us. She tasted a drop of our blood, and said that some of us were fodder, and put those in others. The ones who succumbed were taken out and released. I don’t know where they went. Five that I know of. All from my thorp—I can give you images of all of them.”

Dame Constance joins them for the extraction.

She asks who the people who were melded were. Ronnie, one of them, is a member of the Duke of Furrows’s guard, home on leave. The implants will bring with them whatever they were from their master’s outer plane—magi, maybe priests of the vile god. They won’t be able to shapechange, but they also won’t be detectable except mentally. Because of the delicacy of removing the creatures, they bring in the Minister of the Mind, who is a redactor. It takes a significant amount of time for the surgery, and then the survivors need to be put in skin.

The Minister of the Mind reports that the first surgery was fine, the second was barely fine, and the third in the midst of the operation shrieks wildly and then the middle of his body blows apart. "The creature had gained enough control that when I tried to extract it, it committed suicide by destroying its host."

The extracted implants are some form of Arthranax’s demons. They can tell that much easily, though the demons can’t survive long outside their hosts.

Dame Brionna heads out with the strikeforce to the smaller camp—the camp where the squire is, and thus presumably also Cassandra. Before she goes, she speaks to Lord Davion about means to deal with Cassandra’s pets. He takes an ice drake out of his bag of creature holding. The ice drake talks with Dame Brionna about the plan, and about dealing with Cassandra’s creatures. They talk to Lady Violet about Cassandra’s creatures. She had a pride of tigers, and an enormous bat as a familiar. She brings along the War Banner of the Sun’s Wrath, along with 15 medium and 5 heavy powerbows.

The voller flies in, precisely descends on the encampment, and successfully stops to disgorge troops. The powerbows rake the camp. A wall of wind then suppresses the next volley of the powerbows, but after they have done huge damage and wrecked many of the regular troops. The encampment is in total disarray, with many people running around, some fleeing, and the Lady Cassandra seeking to rally them. Dame Brionna flies in to charge her with her lance of awesomeness. She smites Lady Cassandra and does 102 points of damage on a smite. It punctures her mithril chain shirt and impales her entirely. Lady Cassandra fails a system shock, and dies immediately.

At that point, the troops in the encampment break entirely, scattering into the woods in every direction. The ice drake and the other troops pursue.

Five of the prisoners are dead, killed by stray powerbow shots. However, the squire of the Earl of Caldra survived unscathed in his cage.

These soldiers were much less fanatical—most were just supporting her claim—and while the handful of fanatics fought to the death, the rest surrender as rounded up and throw themselves on the mercy of Dame Brionna.

The squire reports that they put something into him. He’s fighting it—it’s telling him to worship some awful thing. There were also two who were already taken, one of whom looked like a royal messenger.

They teleport him back. It’s a struggle, but the Minister of the Mind is able to remove it over a 5 hour process. “He’s been fighting it for two days, quite remarkable. They were determined to take him delicately. It was a more intelligent creature than the others.”

Kit pulls out the image of the royal messenger and of the other; a merchant. She also gets the other images. The images of the people are very clear, but their surroundings are partly obscured. Kit notes in the background of one of the images, just outlined, no color, what looks like an illithid or something like that. It’s incredibly pale, one of the not-quite-illithids that we have seen before. This one has jewelry on, probably status jewelry.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 119, cont'd]
We decide to talk to the actual illithids about that—see if they know anything about Arthranax’s illithid like followers. Kit reaches out to her illithid friend on the fan.

“Souldrinkers!”

“That’s what they’re called?”

“They’re cousins. There aren’t many of them left. They’re from one of the home planes that was almost entirely consumed by the enemy. Those that are left come in two varieties. Some of their septs serve them, and they serve loyally. One of their larger septs defied them—they’re still in their home plane, being starved slowly.”

“Can we bring them here?”

“I don’t know how. You know how my people are divided and some only consume the brains of lesser creatures? They are divided the same way. The ones that serve the ancient enemies will consume the soul force of any creature. The sept that defied them will only consume the soul force of lesser creatures—rats, or pigs. Now they sell their services, because there is not enough life energy left on their homeworld. They cannot simply leave and go elsewhere—there is so little life left on their homeworld that they are drawn back to it. But newborns, born on this plane, would be bound to the plane where they are born, so if their master were to bring them long enough… Twenty years is about how long the process would take to begin, though they then live two-hundred to two-hundred-fifty years.

“I have a question for you. Do you have any idea how much liquid is in a raspberry?”

Kit mostly ignores the inexplicable question. “About the souldrinkers: how many of them would there be on our plane, and how long can they remain?”

“There are probably less than six-hundred of them total. They can only stay on this plane for a few days, but they can then be summoned again. Their sept leaders—with the jewelry—are very dangerous. They can drain the motive energy of a person, sometimes almost instantly. They can be hedged out. They’re psionic, of course, like us. But they have no redaction. Some of them are magi—often powerful. They’re very difficult to physically damage on this plane, because they’re never fully on this plane. Ghost-touch items should be able to damage them, or psionic combat. Guarding life energy is very important—melee range is very dangerous. But they do not have to touch you—they can touch your etheric body without touching you.”

“Is there a way to communicate with the defiant sept?”

“Oh. You would have to first make contact with them. You would have to send someone to the home plane, unless someone happened to come into your presence.”

* * *

They send out warnings about the melded impostors.

Alistair orders Lady Cassandra’s body decapitated, heart burned, and then processed throughout the Duchy of Furrows, with announcements that she was engaged in both high and low treason, heresiarchy, murder, kidnapping, and sundry other crimes, before finally having her body and head brought to Caligshire and displayed publicly.

Dame Brionna reports on a letter from Alphonse, originally of the South Kingdoms—an old playmate of hers. [See attached] All of his people made it to the mainland; only his older siblings and parents and soldiers died. They took a territory near the southeastern lands of the new lands. They trade with some ratfolk, and fight with other ratfolk. He’s a loyal servant of the Princess, now Empress. He saw a battle between a flying galleon which was flying an unrelieved red banner and was attacked by blighted gryphons which cursed the ground where they fell. He requests clerical support. (They arrange for priests of Glor’diadel to be sent to support them.)

The Council consults with Grandmaster Farsensor. "They were originally gryphons, changed by an infusion of vile energy. The energy will dissipate over time, though it will take about two years. It won’t corrupt the scavengers, but it may kill some of them. Burning them might be a good idea, though the smoke might be poisonous at short range. That particular breed was seen before, in the First Age, when they first made the attempt. They had to be wiped out, because they breed true. We hunted them down, but there were more of us then. Their second attempt failed quickly. Rarely spoken of. Haven’t been seen until now." He agrees to inform his Queen and ask her to place some schooners to patrol against them.

They also tell him about the souldrinkers. He is surprised that the enemy did not consume that plane entirely. "They are dangerous in a different way from the enemy—while they can drink life energy quite quickly, that’s a terror tactic more than anything else. They can pass through walls that aren’t warded, they can listen unseen from the etheric. They are powerful spies.

"The defiant sept was at one time quite large, and they also spied on our behalf. I very much doubt that any of the ones I knew in the First Age are still alive."

They plan on sending an illithid or two, plus some human adventurers, to make contact with the sept.

There has been movement in the Crystal Cities, towards Hanal. They’re gathering at the Ruby City, and preparing en masse. [See attached]

* * *

Alistair has an awkward conversation with Kit about needing to find out if the Empress might have any special friends—or interest in special friends. Kit agrees that they need to figure that out, because of the potential security issues, and suggests that the first step should be discussing it with the Empress directly—something that she makes clear Alistair will need to deal with.
[End Session 119]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 120 (November 23, 2020)

24 Ras
With morning breakfast, they receive a document—a letter from the acting Archbishop of Canberry. [Attached]

They are startled that there is an acting archbishop in place and immediately call for Bishop Waters.

They ask about the archbishopric. The Archbishop was called to the Holy See; there may be a succession soon. The Patriarch has declined quickly since the Council saw him. He is believed to have been poisoned, but has continued to decline even after the poison was neutralized. All of the Archbishops have gathered, even though most will not be eligible to vote. Frederick was appointed temporarily. He is not a bishop—too young and junior-- but he is a doctor of canon law.

All of the acting archbishops were appointed by the council of the church—that’s the tradition when there may be a succession. The Archbishop of Canberry is a plausible successor if it comes up.

They decide that they should attend upon the Patriarch personally, and that they should bring a senior cleric of an allied faith—a great elf who is also a redactor of power. Grandmaster Farsensor consults with his family, starting with his queen.

They note that Frederick is not using the appropriate seal; he doesn’t know where the archepiscopal seal is. They decide to send paladins to every archbishop with a province to make sure they have attended to the core security concerns.

At the sixth light of the evening, they are to apport to the deck of a voller. It will take them in. They confirm that it will be no problem to arrive under the colors of the Protector of the Light.

They agree that they will bring Bishop Waters, Grandmaster Farsensor, Dame Brionna, The Princess Cecilia, and Alistair. They also agree that Kit can’t come with them and make some plans for Kit to work with Empress Kaitlyn.

They make some plans to send out teams to assist the paladins in securing the archdioceses.

Bishop Waters travels out to secure the seal of the Archbishop and to ask the Acting Archbishop to join us.

They discuss his duties with him. He needs a replacement treasurer, he says. When he went to ask the treasurer about some questions about the tithe books, he was gone. There were discrepancies in the tithe books—there were wealthy parishes that should have been paying more. Dame Brionna sends some paladins to secure the episcopal treasury. Kit lifts, with his permission, an image of the archdiocesan treasurer from his mind. The treasurer is named Daedalus Styphon, from somewhere in Westmarch. The parishes that have been underpaying are concentrated in Westmarch.

The Council helps him put together an archdiocesan council. He’s very smart and detail focused, but misses the broad brushstrokes and is far too junior and inexperienced.

Grandmaster Farsensor searches for the treasurer. "He was cut down on the road about a day’s ride out from the city. He has a dagger, not drawn. He was killed from the front and never drew his weapon. Probably met up with his contact who killed him. They killed the horse as well. Its throat was cut. He was not mounted at the time of the horse’s death—almost suggests that he killed the horse, sheathed his dagger, and then died. There are tracks on the ground that walked out of the brush, but no tracks at all leading away. In the brush, there’s another dead horse.

"There’s a very weak teleport signature. It was apparently obscured by the agony of the horses, which bled out slowly. It’s a known means to mask teleport signatures."

The Grandmaster Farsensor, at Dame Brionna’s suggestion, searches for a concentration of blessed coins (offerings being blessed of course). There’s nothing unusual in Westmarch—some concentrations in churches, but nothing else. The Council speculates that he might have gone to a moneychanger in the city, so they search Canberry City and find a concentration of these coins in a specific moneychanger.

The moneychanger reports that he’s been turning coins into gold for a while, and increasing amounts over time—obviously a very successful business. Made a recent exchange, the largest one yet, seemed very focused. Needed to take money right away, needed to be light. Paid him in standard gold sovereigns, almost 30. No obvious jewelry. Over 6 years, about a total of 30,000 silver pieces. Changed to gold sovereigns, and sometimes ruby chips. Could be used for psionic purposes, or could be used for some summonings.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 120, cont'd]
The Council calls for Dame Constance. She reports that ruby chips can be used for demon summoning, specifically goat demons. They send some people to search his dwelling—Dame Constance wants to go with that group. They also loop in the Fraternal Order of the Stag—if there’s to be a goat-hunt, they should be involved.

A woman, hair in a kerchief, opens the door. Lady Constance informs her that she’s here to check the dwelling for magical signatures, then walks right by her. “Yes, very healthy children you have. Excuse me while I divinate them.” After a pause. “My god… they’re all human. Well, at least, they’re not half-goat. Now, where is your late husband’s room?”

“My late husband? What do you mean?”

“I mean your husband’s rooms.”

“You mean his workshop?”

A pitfiend tears down the door to the workshop. “So, they completely missed the fact that he was a warlock… for years. Amulet of concealing alignment. What an interesting poison this one is. Arsenic, deadly nightshade. I wonder when he was planning on offing his lady. Two homunculi bottles—no homunculi though. So they’re somewhere. I think they’ll want these documents. And this ledger.”

Dame Constance compels the homunculi to return to their bottles.

The homunculi will return in two days. The documents will be analyzed in a similar amount of time.

* * *

Alistair talks with Empress Kaitlyn about his absence. After some discussion about Dame Katherine, he inquires whether Kaitlyn has a special friend and she says that she has a boon companion who is now one of her ladies in waiting. They have a pleasant conversation about that, and Alistair makes it clear that he approves and believes she should be given an appropriate title and status in court.

They then call in Dame Katherine, and they have a conversation about running things in his absence.

* * *

Alistair and an entourage of about 50 people apport to the upper deck of a perfect ship of laen, an even more impressive than usual elven man-of-war. “Strike the colors,” orders an elven officer. “Hoist the Emperor’s banner.”

“Your majesty, welcome aboard the Evensprite. The Starpriestess Vilithri awaits on the poop deck."

An elf so slender she almost seems like a vision turns towards them, “On behalf of the Overqueen and her daughter the Princess Royal, who you have met, I greet you.

“My sister has given me some understanding of what has occurred. We know that the ultimate enemy is among us.”

There are three eldar on this ship—her (who the captain calls Highborn), the captain, and what is clearly an elven paladin.

The ship stops unreasonably quickly at the voller tower of the Holy See. The captain announces us.

“We come to pay our respects to the Patriarch and the Council, in that order. Bring us into his presence.”

A member of the familia approaches as they sweep down the street towards the patriarchal palace and genuflects. He talks quietly. “He is not doing well. It was clearly not a poison we have seen before. It does not react to anything—to anything! Both our best healers and alchemists can do nothing.”

They reach the Patriarch, who is weak and bed-ridden, with rheumy eyes.

<<You were right to call for me. There is a seed of the ancient corruption within him. It was swallowed and had to be placed in his food.>>

She speaks for the first time in Common. “Sleep now.”

In a low voice in Elven. “I have to extract it. Once it is dead, I can start to heal. The creature would have made him theirs if he were not so strong willed. As it is, it is killing him. If they struck like this, they mean to replace him.”

“Then we must assume they have also suborned one of the likely successors as well. That will be our task in the days to come.”

“Yes. I must return to the Overqueen quickly in a matter of days. I will leave a grandmaster redactor for the weeks he will remain in skin.”

She extracts a wiggling thing that almost looks like a centipede that she deposits in the lead receptacle. It’s a larger and more powerful version of the same sort of Arthranax demon we saw inserted around Caligshire.

“We have saved his life. He will regain… much of his strength. He was sapped of nearly all of his life. And not all of it may return.” (He has lost 8 Constitution; he will regain 4 over the course of his two months in skin.)

Alistair talks with her about seeking an audience with the Overqueen. She says that she will talk with the Princess Royal, and that her sister will likely grant the audience. She warns them that some who enter the Steading are never willing to leave.
[End Session 120]
 

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