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Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes (posts MWF, most recent 11/29/21)

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 58 cont'd]

The Council gets a psion, and contact the Noldar Admiral. In the imaging of the psion, a rather willowy Noldar in very ornate garb eating what appears to be a muffin?

"That is a warp projector. Even the creatures in the Shadowlands cannot build them. These creatures can. It projects primal warp energy in an energy blast. Crude, but effective. It destroyed one of the war schooners. We have been ordered to commit ourselves fully, even to the extent of the destruction of our ships and our own deaths.

"Without the projector, they have nothing that could threaten our ships.

"The large flat area has runes at its corners; there is a considerable power with them, we expect that it is the Abomination of Shurr; it is capable of domain magic."

He sends the Council a copy of the runes (which neither he nor his sorcerer recognizes).

* * *
The Council ask Lady Constance about the runes.

She provides us with the ciphers, which she enjoyed creating. After our report of the odd take-over of Dame Brittany Tirteroth and some of her ranking officers. (Dame Brittany was one of the commanders of the Debonai Heavy Lancer.) There is a means of objecting a possessing spirit. I have prepared these six. The person would have to be held captive, and a possessing spirit could be ejected.

Lady Constance’s guess is that she’s not in charge of herself, but not actually dead.

We discuss the potential domain magic. The Greater Festival of the Mists is a reason to be very concerned, especially about summonings. This is very, very old—it is domain magic. It is a weakening spell—anything worked by women, it will weaken for 24 hours.

There must be a ton of stored life energy. A crystal matrix is possible. Or lead medallions—they would need to have several hundred, and they would need to be assembled for some time. The Noldar death rays would be attracted to that large concentration of life—they would be like magnets. This is the language originated by the followers of the Queen of Chaos in the Abyss before her downfall. I’m not surprised that this sort of domain spell would be in her tongue—her hatred of mortal women is legendary.

She still has some followers, but she lies in one of the Abyssal prison cells, guarded by a horde of demons that fear her release more than any of the Lords of Light. I do not think she has any followers among… she clearly has some who are at least knowledgeable of her.

This is written only to target women—it could be rewritten to target men. It could not target both.

This would reduce fortifications of 20 foot thick walls to the consistency of thick wooden walls for the 24 hours involved.
* * *
The Council reaches out psionically to pass on the information they have gained.

The Sixth Daughter is very glad that the Council called. They discuss what sort of title the renegades might earn. They tell her that the warp projector is the key target, and failing that, the life energy repository. She says that the Council probably has the army it needs.

The Council also informs the admiral, and he consults with his necromancers about targeting.

[End session 58]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Just a note--the next couple posts have some body horror stuff involving impregnation. I've put it behind spoiler tags. Be aware if that's likely to be triggery.]

Session 59 (August 13, 2013)
Skard 22

The Council gets a preliminary report from the Rakshasa. [Attached] Things seem to be going well, but with heavy casualties.

The Ministry of Magic says, in response to our inquiries: If the warp projector is destroyed, roughly 1000 yards radius will be completely destroyed. The next 1500 yards will be heavily mutated—intelligent creatures could resist that, but animals and plants would not. It could be contained, but that would require controlling the projector and having a team of mages there in skin.

Kit also gets an ambiguous message about groups doing strange things near the western territories. [Attached]

The Ministry says that we could attempt to establish a bleed conduit—to attempt to bleed off some of the energy. To where, the Council asks? The Abyss would be best. The Council asks if Dame Constance would be helpful. He says yes, and drains of all color. So the Council asks her to work on this as well.

Sir Clarence Strawberry has headed to the west, based on rumors of human bands moving around in the area.

Kit gets a telepathic link to Sir Darryl Strawberry, who is very loyal but not very bright. They’re heading to various farms, and staking out cattle. My father thought that was bad, and took some men to deal with them. But some of the men are stronger than we expected—probably with magic. Sir Clarence tried to cut free some of the cattle, but then he collapsed. Someone else tried to help him, but then he collapsed too. They’re sleeping?

Sir Darryl shows Kit a map at our request (while we start talking about the idea of polymorphing the cattle or teleporting them away). There are 8 locations. It’s clearly a rune, and it’s disturbing to look at, but it’s not any rune I recognize—not elven. The rune of the Queen of Chaos as the Mother of Hordes.

Dame Constance: Anyone who touches them becomes part of the sacrifice—it’s a standard defensive technique of demonologists.

Dame Constance: The family in charge in the west is massively incompetent, which is why all of the problems are developing there. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was deliberate… but I do know better.

Polymorphing them, would unbalance the ritual, weakening it; if they were small enough to escape, it could disrupt it entirely. May be planning on transforming themselves—bulls are traditional symbols of virility and strength. Might be trying to become prime material equivalents of warrior demons.

"I suggest… I do not think we have time to get a force of any size there except by teleportation. I will apport as many as the Master of Magic will give me. I am needed here, but I can apport them, or perhaps set up a gate for a dozen or so minutes. We can move through about 200 people—a group of mages, guarded by crack troops and some healers/abjurers."

We also arrange to recover the prisoner, and Sir Clarence’s family. The group of 200 go through.

The prisoner is highly, highly disreputable. He’ll come to eventually. He has a terrible odor. He has a cloven tongue. There is also something very odd about his boots. His feet are horribly misshapen—goat like in appearance.

Dame Constance: He’s been touched by the Ram. You haven’t touched him, have you?

Dame Brionna touched his boots—"She’ll be with child. We must withdraw it immediately. And he must be moved to a place where he will only be in contact with men. It will develop much faster than natural."

Dame Brionna and Kit want to find celibate men (or eunuchs) to deal with him.

[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Might be best to put that stuff in spoilers.
Great suggestion. I'll edit the previous post to include spoiler tags for that sort of material, as well as doing that for the next post and any more that have similar content. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 59 cont'd; body horror stuff in spoiler tags]
Dame Brionna gets a priest to deal with this. "There was definitely an attempt, but your holy aura killed it. You’ll be sick in a day or two, but then it will pass."

"Can you delay it? For maybe 6 months?"

"I’m not that powerful… for maybe 3 days?"

"That will do."


He was birthed that way. His mother willingly accepted the touch—otherwise, he would have just been a man.

The Council plans an interrogation of the prisoner. He is ranting and bragging and answers freely.

"Great Lord, Great Queen make alliance for many children. Free, she rule, he rise. Night comes, I will know. I will change, and your puny cell will not matter anymore."

"How did your people hide?"
"Behind the orc lines. It is in the lost places that the Ram continued to live, after the purge, beyond the cities, beyond the lords, beyond the paladins. But not here—we could not creep back here, the old bitch was too strong. The Master knew that he could not face her yet—but the young one? Pffft."

"The Master?"
"You know that there’s a great adept—how else we do this? He and the others wait—then we play the last part of the Ram’s promise. To distract all of those who could stop the plan. To distract all of those who could keep the Queen captive. That is why he will rise when she returns to the throne."

"Is your Master an ally of the Abomination?"
"We’re all allies of the Abomination. The plan, his force cripples the catmen. United, they more powerful than you think. Not united, eh. Wish we infected you. Old bitch too strong."

"Where is the leader?"
"The others who will change—but we will all change, wherever we are. We set it up—Master set it up. We did as we were told. Has been preparing the binding wards for years—we just used them. Powerful enough to make anyone short of a Noldar join in the sacrifice. Their blood is not for us to take. Their blood is for the Abomination. For us it burns."

"Where is the Master? "
"He is with the others, waiting to change. But he will ascend beyond us."

"What will he ascend into?"
"The Herald of the Ram."

Kit contacts her Toe within the army of Debonai.

<<There’s a huge battle going on near the chaos generator. And the commander I’m under has started withdrawing his people, starting an hour ago. We’re under bombardment by two elven ships. The projector fired once, doing substantial damage to the larger of the two ships. But it hasn’t been able to fire again—I think the drow are winning. The elven ships are still bombarding. The women are taking it on the chin—they’re not yielding an inch, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they died to a man. Woman! Woman! There are Rakshasa on both sides.>>

Then Kit feels an almost earthquake of her mind. There’s a thunderous kaboom. She can feel the toe falling to the ground.

<<It just exploded, my lady. I’m quite a distance away, but there’s a hole in the ground I can’t see the bottom of. And there’s plants grabbing people.>>

<<Run! Run as fast and as far away as you can! That’s an order.>>—she loses the connection.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[And we're back, after a very eventful vacation with limited net.]
[Session 59 cont'd]
Dame Brionna sends a quick sending briefing the Seachen.

Perhaps two minutes later, alarms sound in the palace, and a servant delivers a message to the door guard, to the page, to Dame Brionna. There’s a young rakshasa in the holding cage. A young, bloodied rakshasa male comes in and prostrates himself before the throne. "My grandfather, the Plar of Splice, has asked me to come here and report that the Seachen have fallen back to their fortifications, fully two of five of their warriors are dead. The false Rakshasa who serve the accursed have pursued strongly. My grandfather has decided to commit his forces and those of his allies against them—19 Rakshasa and several hundred Rakastas. My grandfather is concerned about the substantial mutations among the humans, but he thought that the false Rakshasa represented more of a threat. The drow made the most heroic sacrifice—only 2 survived, but they threw themselves upon their swords when they found out they were mutating, but they succeeded. The Noldar have not disengaged, though they took serious damage to their main ship."

The Council promises to raise a cenotaph to the noble drow, and to search for any of their surviving kin (who would inherit their titles and lands). They also offer to take in any of the Rakshasa dependents—the messenger (who is being healed of life-threatening wounds), says that his grandmother and his kits will likely do so. He then heads back to the battle, with a briefing on the expected ritual.

When the Red Moon rises, one point of the ritual has been disrupted—all the cows there are gone, although there were casualties (wards upon wards). All of the other cows are incinerated. And where the servants of the Ram are gathered, instead of turning into goat demons, they begin yelling and screaming. One leader, dressed much more elegantly than the others, and accented at wrists, cuffs, belt, and cloaks in a specific color of green. He’s obviously a Hanalian noble. Alistair identifies him as one of the houses allied with Thyastis’s most insane daughter (the middle one, much crazier even than the oldest one). He makes a series of extremely complex gestures, and suddenly, all of the other servants of the Ram burst into lampent green flame. A second later, the toe, who has never rung in directly, comes online weakly—“Holy naughty word. Hundreds of the army, including almost all of the officers, have burst into green flame. They’re dying.”

Dame Constance comments, "The spell he cast was as complicated as anything I could do on my best day. And demonology is less predictable. His expertise is remarkable. He cannot be human." (He teleported away and we can’t trace him.) He cannot be one of the Seen Unseen—they cannot control that level of power.

Could the greater servants of the enemy do that? They could, but we don’t think there are any.

What about a cambion? Perhaps—a greater one, the son of a demon prince. You don’t think that he could be the son of the Ram himself? He had children before, in his last effort. He would have had to have had a child with a willing woman of Hanal, some century ago (to have reached that level of power). What do we know of Thyastis’s aunts? It could not be Thyastis’s mother—we know all of her children. She did not have her sisters killed—sent them to country estates or seclusion, mostly.

Dame Brionna sends everyone else out of the room. "Why was it so important to erase the memory of your mother? She must have been somebody important. If people have been intervening in the great houses for so long. Who did it? And why?"

The Council need to follow-up on the memory erasing thing.

The Council also asks the Sixth Daughter to locate any plausible heirs of the dead drow.

Three days later, the Noldar ships limp in (well, the flagship limps in); it then lands (which they never do) and a strained cadet drow officer, without weapons, asks the court to come to the ship. They do. The drow officers of the ship are, with great ceremony, bringing a tremendously ornate box of beaten platinum and mithril, and the chief drowan officer salutes us. We see no Noldar. “The taint is departed. The land is free. We asked, since it was an alliance with you, and in alliance with you that the Admiral died, that he be interred in your lands, and that you remember him.”

"We promise to do so, with all the honors we can bestow. Did he have any knowledge that he was dedicated to? We would wish to bestow a center to further that knowledge in his memory."

"He was a lover of music." They offer to bring some of his instruments, and some of the cadet houses that can teach how his music be played.

"Did he leave any heirs?"
"A nephew, his sister-son."
"We ask that his nephew come to Canberry within my lifetime that we may honor him appropriately."

Their priest is dead, so he’ll be buried according to Glordiadel's rites.

They send him to the cathedral to lie in state.
[End session 59; this also basically wrapped up the Abomination of Shur plotline, though related plotlines have continued for a long time since.]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 60 (February 27, 2014):

Skard 26
We still haven’t heard back from Lord Davion and the Duchess of Ergmoth—who went to Hanal 7 days ago.

Page of the door politely comes in in the morning. There’s a very bedraggled guard out here—he can’t speak very well, but he seems to want to come in. Dame Brionna recognizes him as one of the people who guard the teleport cages.

“I’m sorry it took me so long—I couldn’t muster the strength to leave the holding area. You have two guests in the holding area. An elven woman and a very young elf. I don’t think they’re like the healer who left recently. They came in and politely asked to see you and then none of us could stand up. I don’t think they intended that…”

Alistair wants to go, but Brionna objects, and Brionna travels to meet them on her own. There is a Noldar woman, sitting in front of a large chest, and an adolescent Noldar boy.

Brionna greets them, and apologizes for the delay (making a mental note to get guards for this area with more psionic defense). She’s not sure that they actually have to be in the cage—they may be being polite.

“I heard of my husband’s demise, and wanted to visit you. This is my husband’s nephew. I understand how much shorter your lifetimes can be, so I wanted to come promptly.

"I have brought several things we were informed you would be interested in.

“I fear for you all, in the coming ages. But… be that as it may.

"There are two items that I have brought that I think are appropriate. The first is a gift for you. You should not maintain in it in your grasp for a prolonged period of time, but for certain state occasions, it might be useful, especially if you believe you might be threatened. The second is for your school of music, a creation of my husband that he spent some 300 or 400 years on.

"I take it that the battle was not a complete success—that one of the leaders of the enemy escaped. This plan was long in the making, and our people are departing this world, as are our cousins. That process is too far along to be reversed. Be wary."

She will be sitting in mourning with the body (in our Cathedral, where it’s lying in state), and then will likely demonstrate that the process is continuing. Alistair wishes her well in her journey (and then the Council speculates over the mind link about where the Noldar go.)

"The scepter strengthens your line. I have looked at the stars. The strength of your line is important to the success of your kind on this continent."

"We have taken steps to strengthen my line."

"Yes. That is well.

"The one who escaped—I do not know if he will return, or if he will go about his business.

"Now, Ethean, this is a human ruler. This country is his. You have been very polite, and you should remain so. These are not one of our servitor people."

"I am Ethean Moriquendarim," he says, and prostrates himself.

Alistair greets him. "It is customary among our people to confer a title and land to people who have won a great military victory. We would offer that to you."

They discuss what that means.

She says, "He is old enough to decide. Your uncle would have said that you could offer much to the younger people, and that they might, in their way, offer much to you as well."

"I will accept."

“He could have been his son, had I been able to conceive. I will tell his uncle of his choice. I will release him, and he will choose whether to go West, or to the Kingdom in Waiting.”

Alistair says to Ethean, "We will not expect you to convert to the worship of Glordiadel, unless you wish, but you will be expected to support the established church in your lands."

"I understand. Would 100 tual be an appropriate tithe?"

They assure Ethean that would be more than sufficient and begin the long process of educating him on the difference in scale between wealth among his people and among humans.

The entire group goes to the Cathedral. She approaches the casket, curtsies to the priest, and then rends her garments from neck to crotch. (She is fortunately wearing body armor underneath.) She calls out 3 times in Noldar. There’s a shimmer around the casket, and then it’s gone, and she falls to her face in front of the casket and begins to weap. This continues for some time. She then rises, shudders, takes off the rest of her gown. “He is no more in the East. He should be allowed to remain here for 3 days.”

They discuss whether she will go West in the near future and try to persuade her not to.

* * *

The Council asks Caitlyn to take the lead on reorganizing territory to the south and planning out the various titles and lands they need to confer.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 60, cont'd; again, body horror stuff is behind spoiler tags]
Kit calls up Lady Brina in Debonai

“Ah! Things seem a bit better. I wouldn’t call them stable yet… Well, there was some bizarrety at Court a few days ago. Various courtiers burst into green flame.”

“That’s to be expected,” says Alistair.

“That’s to be expected?!” says Kit.

“That’s to be expected?!?!” Lady Brina exclaims.

The Council explains the Order of the Ram event.

The capital is quiet. It has been since people burst into green fire. Plus, dozens of men—hundreds even—who are missing, unexplained.

The Council explains that their children will need to be checked for taint.

If things continue, people should even be able to travel within the next couple of weeks.

* * *
That evening, 20 uniformed drow and two walking chests teleport in.

* * *
Midnight-ish, a guard approaches Dame Brionna.

“Dame Brionna, be an odd group approaching the West Gate.”

“Odd how?”

“They be men… more or less. The man who spoke to me who was looking for you said their eyes glow green, and they be bearing some great bone thing between them.”

“How was it shaped?”

“Rather like an eagle wing, but much larger.”

“Right, let’s get there.”

“They be cursing, dame.”

Dame Brionna can detect its evil from within the ramparts.

“Thank the Lord of Darkness we’ve reached it. It be trying to make us assume our other forms. We be Grand Duchess Fenris Rufus’s bodyguards.

“Her Grace be returned to Ergmoth. Her Grace be… not well. We belong with her and her husband before he passed.”

They start transforming into werewolves. A group of paladin’s rush up from the cathedral at our request.

* * *

We talk about where the paladins should move the wing. We consider several bad options, and then Kit decides to wake up Lady Constance.

“Only one thing to do to contain that evil. I’ll put it in Hell.”

“I’ll have to talk with the Archduke about that.”

“I won’t put it near Tiamat. That would be bad.”

We link up via a mindlink.

“If you haven’t researched how to destroy it—you haven’t yet, have you?”

“No.”

“Then we need to constrain it until you can destroy it. Two options, one possible for me. You could put it in the heavens, but I can’t—very difficult, impossible for me. The other is to put it in Hell—not the Ninth level, which Tiamat rules, but I have some pacts with Dispater, in the Second Level. He’d probably accept it if he could use it to taunt Tiamat with.”

“Which would be more secure?” Kit asks.

“Well, the Heavens of course, but you’d need someone who can open a gate to there.”

Alistair wakes up the Archbishop. The Archbishop can’t cast Gate, but the Patriarch might be able to. We agree to send a sending to the Patriarch, telling him he has until nightfall of the day. He also suggests we ask the chief midwife.

We ask her, and she can’t create a gate either, but she can ask for a holy deliverer—a celestial midwife—which could then bring it back. So we ask, and Gunnora sends a giant celestial stork with a sling. Alistdeair leads it to the Wing. It gets it in its sling, caws 20 times to Alistair, and then takes off before disappearing.

* * *
Dame Brionna speaks with one of the werewolves, where he has been gorging on a side of beef. She asks him what happened to Lord Davion. “He was stricken down in the field. The other elven folk—the light elves—have taken him to their woods—their city?”

"The Forest of Singing Leaves?"

"Yes, that’s what their captain said. To take him to a redactor. He was grievously wounded."

"Two-thirds of our number fell. It was better defended by the fanatics than we expected. I thought I knew every type of were in the world—but I was fooled."

"Strange weres?"

"Yes—they changed into a mixture of ram and human, and their touch burned like fire. Their claws were not claws but hooves, and when they struck they struck like silver."

"Did they touch any women among you?"

"We realized that they could not touch the Grand Duchess, because when they touched women, the women burst asunder, with horrible infants. We committed the unspeakable, because there was no choice."

* * *
We ask the Archbishop to research how to destroy the thing.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 60, cont'd]
In the morning, we ask Master Farsensor to contact Singing Leaves to find out how Lord Davion is doing. “I have contact with the Master Redactor. Shall I project his image?”

The elven redactor gives the Council a report. "It is no question as to whether he will survive. It is a question as to whether all of his injuries can be completely healed, or whether he will lose some of his mobility permanently. I do not know what attacked him, but it attempted to rip him in twain. It did not succeed, but it splintered his spine. We have him in Skin."

"What of the Grand Duchess?"

"She would have lived under our care. Her bodyguard insisted on returning her to her home. They committed her to the care of the Mouth." The Council presumes this refers to the First Mouth of Paranswarm. "I would not expect her to live without redaction. As for Lord Davion... he will remain in skin for 18 days."

"Do you think we could send a redactor to the Grand Duchess, if they would not allow her to come to Singing Leaves?"

"It would have to be a human—there are human redactors who are Masters, even one or two Grandmasters. I think they would reject an elf."

The Council speak to the Minister of the Mind. "Do you have a Master or higher level redactor?"

"Two, well, two Masters. Grandmasters are very rare, at least among humans."

The Council arranges for one to go.

"Do you want the younger one or the older one?"

"Whichever is better."

"The older then."

[I think there's a slight continuity error here. I think Minister of the Mind is himself a redactor, but I don't think it matters whether it was the Minister of the Mind or another Master redactor. Also, it's possible that he was obliquely asking if he should go or the other, and I'm not certain he's actually our strongest/best human psion.]
* * *
Kit contacts Lady Elspeth, the spy mistress of the Grand Duchess of Ergmoth. Kit writes a note, then gets her scribe for help:
Wing has arrived, we have some of the story, Lord Davion in the Forest of Singing Leaves in skin, Wing is currently secured in the heavens, we’re sending back the bodyguards along with a redactor to help heal the Grand Duchess, thank you.

Response: Have informed First Mouth’s secretary. Will await redactor; none here. Grand Duchess stable but unconscious.

The Council sends off some of the bodyguard and the redactor.

The Council also deploys additional security and add sweeps to the graveyards, to make sure nothing new wakes up and to make sure there isn’t too much of an increase in crime from the Wing encouraging evil.

The vollers arrive; they have a brief meeting with the leader of Lord Ethean’s honor guard.
[End session 60]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 61 (March 13, 2014)

Skard 29

Kit wakes Alistair in the middle of the night: "We have two urgent messages: first, the Duchess of Ergmoth is dead; second, one of my agents from Hanal reports that there’s been a coup in Hanal, Thyastis and her eldest daughter are dead, as are many of the high nobles. The Archbishop of Hanal is under house arrest."

Kit’s agent is with Anastasia; they’re on their way to Enclaves in a voller, along with a strom. The Cov of Snatterkaz has an army in Magdad, and they’re preparing for a siege, but they don’t expect to be able to hold for very long.

When she arrives, Dame Brionna asks whether they have blocked teleportation into or out of Hanal; Kit doesn’t know.

Alistair hypothesizes that the death of the Duchess of Ergmoth triggered the coup and the assassinations; but the timing doesn’t work, because the assassinations started before she died (when the emissaries of the First Mouth were recalled).

Reports on the death of the Duchess of Ergmoth: the redactor arrived, but was unable to save her. She cannot be raised.

Brionna raises the question of whether the Council can get access to the secrets of the Duchess of Ergmoth.

Brionna also asks about the current status of the hobbits. The Council speculates about whether that may have been the Order of the Ram targeting Gunnorans.

Brionna also notes that prior interactions indicated only two daughters, with a civil war necessarily ensuing if the elder died and Anastasia did not return.

Alistair concentrates on trying to remember the geneology and family history of Thyastis; he has conflicting, fuzzy memories, alternating between 2 or 3, despite his detailed knowledge of the Hanalian royal family. Also, as he thinks about this, the Noldar and Eldar anti-mind control wards in the palace walls trigger.

The Council sends for the Grandmaster Farsensor, who tells us that the middle daughter of Thyastis was horribly deformed and died almost immediately after birth.

They ask him about what could have caused changed memories throughout the world. "It could not be done psionically—if it were, the runes would fully protect. Two kinds of mind magic would be possible: domain magic, cast a long time ago, and allowed to spread; high level divine magic, which can affect human minds heavily. The domain magic could take several years to implement."

"Who would be capable of casting domain magic like that?"

The Grandmaster Farsensor answers one of the great elves; powerful fae lords; major demons, especially cambions.

"So, a century old archmage cambion of imperial blood born of a demon lord, with a major sacrifice?"

"Easily, and with a major sacrifice, it might be faster, or even project backwards in time."

The Grandmaster Farsensor offers to consult with the Archmage advisor to the Queen of Singing Leaves; it may not be possible to break the enchantment, though he can (and does) protect the Council themselves.

"What about with the Eldar and Noldar artifacts of memory stabilization? Could those break the enchantment?"

"Likely yes, but you might have to choose--restoring the lost memories of your mother might not be compatible with using them to affect this."

The Council orders the Archivist and Kit’s scribe to find when the first written records of the middle daughter of Thyastis start showing up; also, they’re supposed to report (and not correct) any obvious errors.

Dame Brionna stays focused on her core duties of protection. "Can Alistair be erased or forgotten?"

"No. He is linked to the Land; the Land knows him."

"What about Caitlyn?"

"The Land knows her as well. The Land does not, however, know the two of you."

"How can they be protected?"

"Kit would be known to the Land when she becomes gravid." (There’s some sputtering about this.) "As for Brionna—drinking some Earth Blood from the Tor."
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 61, cont'd]
They recall the redactor so they can find out what happened.

The Council then goes to find out about the various successions of Ergmoth, and the Ecumenical representative of Paranswarm comes in, with various elaborately bound scrolls. [Attached]

"The Grand Duchess does have pups, but they are very young, though of the blood of her late husband. The oldest is 8 years from reaching the age of 14, when he would be permitted to take the throne himself."

* * *

Turning back to Hanal... Tang might be able to break the blockade—we discuss reaching out to the Aquatic elves to break the blockade.

Grandmaster Farsensor says that the Council have individually had the spell psionically suppressed. When they mention the false daughter, the spell attempts to reassert itself. No name is ever applied to her, weirdly. The Council warns Grandmaster Farsensor that they will try to assassinate him; he decides to start carrying his blades.

The scribes report that this was immediately before the armies started moving towards Seachen.

Among the powerful demons, their names are guarded jealously—both names and use names.

The Council contacts the leader of Northern Aurelian to arrange to have Anastasia’s memory fixed.

Kit contacts her agent in Princess Anastasia’s company.

“The whole thing is bizarre. You know she always struck the nobility as insane. Name? Name? But then suddenly a large group of the nobility rose in her support to overthrow her mother. Not that Thyastis didn’t deserve killing, but … Horrible, horrible.”

“Any patterns among them? Faith, region?”

“Many of the nobles are less faithful than the people. These were among the less faithful. Not heretical or apostate, but… But that’s not the worst of it. I believe the Inquisitor General of Northern Drucien has been put to death. A mob took the Archbishop’s palace. The Archbishop is under house arrest, but I believe the Inquisitor General was killed. The people were riotous, almost feral. Only some of them seemed to have directions, however. But the people were never starving, there was no reason for riots. But the nobles have direction—they seek to elevate the second daughter.”

“What symptoms did the middle daughter have?”

“Rages, she would fly into such rages. She killed dozens of her ladies-in-waiting in the last several months. That’s strange… the rages must have started in the last several months. Before that she was something of a non-entity.”

<<Do we tell her?>>

<<Not yet>> replies Alistair.

“She was said to bathe in blood, in human blood. She was rumored to have had liaisons with strange men, not of the royalty or nobility, not of the Green, certainly not of the Red—she hated the Red. We thought that she might be very religious, because the Red have their strange devotion to the Sun, tolerated by the Church. The Vad of the Northern Isles was the only Vad to back her—mostly stroms, some palans, a few covs.

"Snatterkaz has drawn their army away, but Magdag will fall, and he has no time to repair the walls or gather food for the people. There seems to be a struggle among the voller commanders, although the navy sided with the middle daughter as soon as the Empress died."

Alistair suggests (through Kit) that they see if the Zorplona-Argoni are willing to accept mercenary work.

"I cannot remember her name—but I remember the name of her, it must have been her twin, but she only lived a few years. The daughter who died was Theodora. It was the last humane thing that Thyastis ever did—she named her Theodora and tried to keep her alive. After she died, and she had Anastasia, she became the crazed evil tyrant we all know."

Kit tells her, and she screams. The Council worry that they’ve broken her mind.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 61, cont'd]
Kit contacts Snatterkaz.

Magdag had been stripped except of its population by its prior lord. I have no idea what he did with the wealth that should have been there.

We need food, but we will be blockaded within days. There was no resistance in the navy.

Have you got clergy with you? Yes. I couldn’t get the Archbishop out, but I have some clergy. Kit starts planning an airdrop of scrolls of create food and water, Murlynd’s spoons, etc.

When is a good time to contact you? Until they begin assaulting the walls, night time is best.

The Red in the city have all been taken to her, and are being tortured to death. The people will rise up against her because of that.

Are there any hobbits still left in Hanal? There are—there are not many. And her forces are targeting a specific group, mostly hobbit, not all—the midwives.

Lady Constance joins us.

We describe the very basics of the Hanal situation. She twists a ring, and a winged creature appears. “I compel you, who rules in Hanal in Thyastis’s place?” “It is the Seducer.” “Does the Seducer have a name?” “Not known to the Courts of Hell.” “The Handmaiden to the Queen of Chaos?” “Never captured, never slain.” She was once called Philodona; wife of Beliar, an Archduke of Hell, but she turned traitor to him, joined the Queen of Chaos in the Abyss. When she was overthrown, I presumed her slain. But her name is too old, too separated to have power. She will be accompanied by between 2 and 6 incubi; and a group of radiant children. She will use them—she is a mighty spellcaster, on the level of one of the great elves.

Does she need to bathe in blood or is it just an affectation? She doesn’t need to, but it strengthens her spells greatly. Historically, she used the blood of males who…

Does the title “the Seducer” have power over her? Titles have no power over demons.

Use names do, but they take years of use to develop.

The name of the figure that she’s posing as would have no power over her, but might allow scrying.

The Seducer is more powerful than Malacat, in any event. But the succubi left her service willingly. Some of her spells, especially her bardic ones—she has a mass seduction spell that will affect an entire city. Also rumored to be able to take a male form. Could possibly have been the cambion figure. No grimoire records it certainly, but it would appear likely that she could only obtain the form of someone with whom she has coupled.

You know the reasons for the binding of the Queen of Chaos? There are several, but there is a belief among some of the greatest diabolists, not necessarily practitioners but scholars, but the other demons discovered that she was negotiating with the Old Ones, but that triggered the rebellion, for it frightened them so greatly, but she was bound and not destroyed because they could not destroy her, because she had gained an extra-demonic power.

The good thing is that their grand plan must be fully screwed. The first plan was of course Seachen. The second would surely be to replace Princess Anastasia. This would be the third plan.

The sacrifice for a domain spell that would affect us as a side effect—well, perhaps if they pulled the energy of all of the adepts of the Ram.

She can be destroyed, but has always escaped. They both always made plans that were far too complex, her and her consort. The Ram was her consort. In her day, her female servitors were as fertile as his male ones. When her plans were defeated, she would flee.

Gunnora opposes her—never able to destroy her, but directly opposed to her corruption of fertility.

The Seducer is known for her mental influence beyond seduction; powerful as a caster, powerful as a bard at the highest levels of human, powerful in both rune and blood magic, and powerful in mind magic—but not psionics. She hates psions—they tend to not be corruptible by her.
[End Session 61]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 62 (April 10, 2014)

Skard 30

Alistair gets a message from the Noldar widow [Attached]

To do list:
  • Research Reds of Hanal—delegated to the Ministry of Magic, Foreign Ministry, and household bishop’s staff to prepare a report (marked urgent and highly confidential)
  • Talk to the Gunnorans about Hanal and all of this stuff; also about private matters involving Kit (which will be used as the cover story)
  • Talk to the Ecumenical Council, let them know what we know about Hanal
  • Arrange for resupply Snatterkaz via sea, presumably by aquatic elves; also air drops? Maybe not on the air drops because Hanal is the principal voller manufacturer on this continent
  • Reach out to Seachen to make sure that they don’t get infiltrated by people from Hanal (presumably through an intermediary—Lady Meredith the Dazzling of Northern Aurelian)
  • Talk to Lady Constance about the heresy of Osmosis. Also, ask her if she knows what demons and devils might be nervous about around Enclaves
  • Talk to Grandmaster Farsensor about the half-dozen other threats that have been detected and deterred by the elder races.
  • Fulfill our roles in prophecy.
  • Figure out what the good artifact under Enclaves might be; delegated to the Ministry of Magic (marked as highly confidential)
The Council also gets a message from a Plar with a casualty report; among the Seachen, 1 in 5 is uninjured; among our people and allies, 1 in 9 is uninjured; 15 families of the Rakshasa were wiped out, including 8 of the Glordiadelian. [If there was a written version of this with more details, it's lost.]

The Council gives orders to fill the holds of the new sky navy with healers, clerics, redactors, and conventional healing supplies, and send them south.

We reach out to Lady Meredith; after speaking with the Scintillating, we are put through to Lady Meredith. "If she could unify Hanal under her rule, do you know how many men they would have under arm? The only power on the continent could challenge them numerically is Masque. But I do not see what she could do with that army. If they came that way, Lady Deborah, myself, and the Lady of Curinirim would stop them." They have hundreds of submersibles—Kit identifies that as a possible way to reach the issues at sea.

Lady Meredith says that between herself, Lady Deborah, and the Princess of the Curinirim they should be able to restore Anastasia.

Lady Deborah is the public face of the Hidden Enclave, but it is an elven Enclave. Very odd.

The servants of the Old Ones are not very mobile. It is possible that they simply want the mobility resources of Hanal. But Lady Meredith will reach out to the Seachen with the warning.

"It is the Hoard of Ashaleon you are seeking. If he is truly a being, I do not believe he could have left his Hoard, or that he could be reasoned with. He was at one time an Archangel, but he was given duty, and he did his duty, and the items he guarded drove him mad. Supposedly, there are creatures of both dark and light, chaos and law, that guard the complex, but it is Ashaleon’s illusions, first and foremost that guard the way. He was a servant of Glordiadel in the early years."

The Council then sends for Grandmaster Farsensor. He is in a surprisingly good mood. "I have been walking in the garden, and the shoot that was left by the Princess has opened. You have a Lothlorian tree growing in your garden. In a couple hundred years, it will be a tree."

The Council talks about the other threats.

"Yes, they were deterred, and yes, they might return when the elders depart. The Lord of Tentacles is a sea lord, he came through a gate hole around the end of the Second Age, give or take, and he thought that if he ate everything and extended his tentacles, he could consume all this nice life. And then the Overqueen took notice, and a group of us wielded the power of Eiru the Creator and spanked him. He might return, but while a power, he was handleable."

"What would humans need to defeat something like that?"

"Very powerful domain magic, prepared over the course of some time. Aboleths and illithids were his leftovers—he did not create the illithids, but they did serve him, and he did create the Aboleths. If they devour younger races, and eat their thoughts, they’re probably connected to him, although none of them remember it any more."

"We would be grateful for your notes."

"There are some others—a Devourer, a female who could open her mouth bigger than her body, more of an Archdemon than a Godling—the Noldar took her out, I’m not sure she survived. She started eating their servants.

"There’s another one who left some pieces behind—they’re still looking for him. The Lord of Beholders. He set up a whole structure, but we finally put our foot down, and forced him out of this dimension, but by then there were too many colonies of them, so we basically drove them into the Underdark and ignored them.

"Some of them are turning to good as well. It takes a while, but once they realize their god is gone, they can start turning to the light. That would weaken them once they return.

"Then there was the Shadow Lord. I’m not sure he was ever fully driven out, but he never achieved the place he sought. He tried to ally with Lolth, but it didn’t work out, and the Noldar didn’t tolerate it.

"The other two—I don’t recall at all. It was in the early days of the world, when the world teemed with life."

"Who would remember it?"

"An Eldron. Do you know about the Kinslaying? It tore the world apart, ripped asunder our very identity, our knowledge, our memories. I do not believe that there are many of the early comers, the First or Second, who truly believe that their side is justified, but they cannot go back. Memory was one of the things that was lost, and that may be a good thing. The Lady of Pain is an example of someone who did not forget what she should have.

"Arthranax is foreign to our plane, and our planar neighborhood (as is Sytry). They could not drive him forth once he returned. It cost the Eldar race more than you will ever appreciate to keep him reduced to what he is. We blocked him from fully coming in, but he could never be driven forth."

The Princess has cleansed the city of all cancers, of cholera, and other things. The average lifespan of the city has probably been extended by 30 years. Also, she left behind a decanter of endless water.

He then opens a connection to the aquatic elves. He refers to Kit as “future Regent of the heir” while making introductions. The Council warns the elves about the submersibles, and ask them to supply Magdad. They promise to do so, in exchange for weapons. There are 12 hands of hands of hands of hands of hands of hands in the city. There are many schools of fish. We can supply them for several months. The sharkboats have not moved yet, and there are 60 hands of them. We cannot effectively attack them, but they cannot stop us.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 62, cont'd]
Aunt Cecilia arrives with two midwifes, the hobbit the Council knows and a human they don’t. Dame Brionna excuses herself.

Alistair and Kit discuss Kit’s family planning with the midwives of Gunnora.

The Council then discuss Hanal with them. The first of Thyastis’s line ended the great war, some thousand years ago after two-hundred years of conflict between the great noble houses (the Green) and the peasantry (the Reds). She brought in the support of many devils, who strengthened the Iron Legions, and they decimated the human and the hobbit populations. Many theologians would argue that Hanal has never been properly Paranswarmian, though it holds onto it because it holds onto anything they can get their claws into. The nobles of Hanal swore unto Paranswarm as lord of the devils, like the SHH writ large. Every 16 years, they engage in a bloodletting—sacrificing a male child from each noble family, usually a second son. The bloodletting is a reaffirmation of the alliance between Hanal and the devil lords. It is not something that the temple of Paranswarm as a whole is willing to countenance, but it is also not something that they are willing to forbid, because it would cost them the country. There are tens of millions in the countryside and the cities that do not follow the Green. The Red is still very much alive, and it is a mix of bastardized Glordiadelianism and bastardized Gunnora worship. They fear that without the ability to call on legions of bearded devils to reinforce the Iron Legions, the Red could rise and overthrow the Green. Thyastis believed in her youth that through kindness and benevolence she could win over the common people, without preserving the pact with the devils. She resolved to not offer up her child. When her child was born as she was, and she could not save her, she concluded that the devils were more powerful than the gods.

Snatterkaz and Anastasia are different—they are of the Reds, though it is a great secret.

The primary pacts are recorded in the Great Library of Hanal. They were with Dispater, lord of the second hell. The secondary pacts are not recorded, and are between the noble families with other devils.

The military families form a secondary caste, below the nobility but privileged and well taken care of. Well paid, and with their dependents provided for if they are killed. They are by and large loyal true Paranswarmians.

If you wish, I could see if the old midwife to Thyastis, an old hobbit now, driven forth to Enclaves but not slain, could come here. The Council asks her to.

Would the devils tolerate the dealing with the demons? That is beyond my knowledge of diabolism.

We speculate that a formal interdict and endorsement of Anastasia by the Church of Paranswarm might split the military caste from their masters—at least if they knew about it.

Do the sacrifices skew the gender ratios in Hanal? Yes, as females are only sacrificed if there are no males available, and more females are born in Hanal than males already. That contributes to the strange marital practices in Hanal—more than one of the great houses has multiple ladies with a single husband.

Thyastis was a warrior queen, no theologian and no mage, though powerful in the field. She personally commanded her legions in several battles, fighting in the front. But I do not know that she would have known the difference between a demon and a devil—likely not. There may have been a motive beyond her madness, her blaming the Gunnorans and persecuting all hobbits as Gunnorans.
[End Session 62]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 63 (April 24, 2014)

31 Skard

Dame Brionna receives a report. [Attached]. There’s an elven warschooner protecting 3 injured and unarmed air vessels coming out of Hanal, pursued by a full squadron of Hanalian warships. The elven warschooner expects to be destroyed to enable the fleeing vessels to reach our border.

The council send pages to summon military leaders. Field Marshal Brightspan responds.

"One question is whether the elves meant an elven squadron of 6 or a Hanalian squadron of 20."

"Could they be stopped effectively?"

"Historically, every one of their ships has a mage on board, with a special helm that can increase their maneuverability and maintain a magical shield against energy. Psionics would be more effective—Hanal has long purged psions. They have a few nulls, but no other psionic defenses."

The council sends out for Grandmaster Farsensor, who is having breakfast and feeding the trees. They ask him if Singing Leaves has a coercer who could dissuade the pursuing squadron; he says that the gray elves have several grandmaster coercers, though no paragons. That should be sufficient.

During the battle in the Southlands, one of the people who was contacted began frothing and collapsed when the Farsensor contacted him. He shows the council a picture of an officer, a colonel or so. There is a disease—epilepsy—that could be triggered.

The Hanalian squadron, 20 warships, diverts based on an incorrect understanding of where the fleeing forces are going—the coercer makes them think that the fleeing ships are heading towards some of Canberry's strongest fortifications.

There is a wounded priest of some significance on the fleeing ships—the council presumes that that’s the Archbishop.

They send for the Paranswarmian representative to Canberry's court. They tell him that they need to contact the Baroness Mandrath. He shatters an object and opens a connection. The council tells the Baroness of their belief about the Archbishop. She tells them that she has a report that the Inquisitor General’s entourage in Hanal has also been slain. The council tells her that the Pretender is a demonic imposter and that the actual middle sister is dead. The Council and First Mouth are also considering deploying the five field armies that usually defend the Holy See. There is also concern that it may be necessary to place the entire country under permanent interdict and struck from the list of theocracies. Alistair suggests that the knightly and military classes might still be loyal to the Temple of Paranswarm, and might follow the call of the Temple to oppose the high nobility and royalty. She says that they might receive a call to a crusade.

Alistair also makes a pitch for authorizations by the Temple to cooperate with the Glordiadelians among the common people, stressing that the Glordiadelians are not trying to move in on their territory but would be able to support if that were acceptable. She suggests that moving Hanal into a territory jointly administered by Law would be superior in her view to the chaos that might otherwise ensue, but that the First Mouth and Council will have to make a decision.

Dame Brionna sends a message to the commander of the fort, telling them to expect the arrival of wounded people.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

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[session 63 cont'd; an extra long post to make up for the missed post on Wednesday, when I got confused about what day of the week it was...]

The Council asks Dame Constance about the Heresy of Osmosis.

"It’s a heresy among the daemons, mostly the lesser ones but some arcanaloths; Morgroth tolerates it, or at least seems amused by it."

"Are the daemons Morgrothian, then?"

"Perhaps 1 out of 20 explicitly acknowledges it, but they are connected to him—his Noldar wizards can summon and bind them with extraordinary ease. There are experimenters among them, and they have discovered natural processes, including Osmosis and Phagocytosis. Some of the less enlightened daemons decided that these principles, Osmosis and Phagocytosis, were actually gods and deserved worship. It is bizarre and primitive cult behavior, and the two factions tear each other apart. And no one sane deliberately summons a member of either group for binding, except for the powerful Noldar. But they are much more ferocious than normal daemons of their kind. No human has ever succeeded in binding one, but a few have been gifted a few."

"Including, apparently, us. We can call on a special force of Heretics of Osmosis (20 Yugodaemons, commanded by the Arcanadaemon Chronazon), as a gift from Lady Leansilas."

"He’s rather famous," says Dame Constance. "I believe that he was the commander of the daemons in service to Morgroth on the Fields of Blood northeast of Krashmere."

The Council then asks about how the devils would respond to finding out that the pretender to the throne of Hanal is a demon and in league with demons. She says they wouldn’t like it, but how they would react would depend on the bindings, on the exact terms of the infernal contracts.

"Could it invalidate the pacts?"

"For lesser devils, no, depending on how tightly the pacts were drawn. For a Duke, perhaps. Dispater, though, would be highly displeased, unless he could find a way to use it to his advantage. He is the cleverest of the archdevils except for the lord of the Nine. He is loyal enough to the principles of law that if there were no advantage, he would oppose chaos, but he could work with chaos for his own advantage."

---
The day passes. The night passes uneventfully as well!

1 Tar-Skard:
The Grandmaster Farsensor joins the Council at breakfast at a civilized time. The flight commander informs the Council that his medical officer has been able to help several people, including the Archbishop of Hanal, and the Kov of Stilwart, a small mountainous territory internal to Hanal where they grow a great many wine grapes. His primary export was wine; there’s still some on the ships. The Kov’s lands have presumably been seized; he may also lose some of his limbs, but at least he’s stable now. They should arrive around evening.

Talk to Lady Constance about why demons and devils are nervous around Enclaves. "There is a powerful emanation from somewhere within or near the City. It discomfits them. Some do still operate there, but some also go missing—some demons. I believe they are destroyed. Most practitioners believe that the emanation is from Northern Aurelian, but that is not true."

"Could an Archangel produce an emanation with those effects?"

"It could. And that would explain why the demons go missing and not the devils—angels are more inimical to demons than devils.

An Archangel would not be bindable. It could likely not be banished either. The best approach would likely be to distract him, so their agents can recover what they want. The agents cannot fight him—even the Champion would likely not be able to best him.

He is almost certainly placebound—unable to move more than 2 to 5 miles, unless more than half his hoard were removed.

Kit asks, is it possible that the counterbalancing force of good is the Archangel itself? He is a force of good for sure, if it is simply a balance of forces, but if it is a balance between artifacts, likely not.

That evening, a balding, rotund man rushes up. “Message, your grace.”

An image of a rough looking middle-aged man, in a kettle shaped helmet appears. “Your Grace. We’ve got twenty ships directly across the border from us. They’ve set down a thousand marines, and demanded that we turn over the refugees we don’t have.”

The Council tells them to inform the Hanalians that the refugees have been granted asylum and will not be discharged; not to initiate conflict, but if they attack, to defeat them.

Dame Brionna sends a sending to warn them to be wary of demonic or diabolic magic.

2 Tar-Skard:
Among the documents to be signed is a sealed letter from the Hanalian ambassador requesting an audience. The Council grants the audience, but have an image of Alistair projected, and Aunt Cecilia present.

A man in very elegant greens, with incongruous and partially hidden bandages appears, prostrates himself and crawls towards the throne.

“Your Grace, I requested this on an emergency basis. We received orders to depart the Court of Canberry and to return to Hanal. I request permission for my wife and son to remain in Canberry.”

“It is the position of the Archduchy of Canberry that Princess Anastasia is the rightful Empress, that when her elder two sisters and mother died, she became the Empress. You are thus welcome to remain as ambassador.”

"That may explain why there was a different messenger, with an ecclesiastical message. He was pursued by a demon, who ripped him apart as he passed the wards that protect the embassy. My guards were also ripped apart, but I defeated the demon personally."

The Council arranges for the messenger’s body to be spoken with via Speak with Dead. We also arrange for the priest to report.

“The messenger was intended to inform the ambassador that the Temple was going to recognize Anastasia and that they believe that the present Empress is a traitor to the Temple. Apparently, the young man was quite devout. The chapel in the embassy was immaculate. He has a house priest—sort of. A very young military chaplain.”

The same balding gentleman reappears. “The officer wishes to report again.”

“Your grace, they haven’t crossed the border. But they have set up an encampment on the other side of it. The ships are the bigger threat, but they’re just sitting there. Their officers seem unsure about what to do.”

They don’t seem to have a fleet admiral with them—the highest rank we’ve seen is a commodore. They seem—disorganized.

Later that day, the Grandmaster Farsensor joins the Council again. "The Flight Captain’s men have looked at the ship, now that they’re landed in your territory. There’s little they can do to repair them. The fortress where they’ve landed will never withstand an attack. It’s ill maintained, ill supplied, and with a small garrison (although a disciplined garrison)." He asked if Canberry could open a gate to move the refugees.

The Council asks Dame Constance—she says that she should be able to maintain the gate for 40 minutes, which should be enough to move both the wounded and the regular troops.

Grandmaster Farsensor suggests asking the Queen of Singing Leaves to send a man-of-war to reinforce the castle. It should be there by tomorrow evening.

Dame Constance gates them through-the Kov, the Archbishop, the Kov’s family, and his closest retainers. The Archbishop is badly injured; the Kov is likely to lose a leg. The Council sends the Minister of the Mind, who is a redactor; he takes a novice and a cask of skin and sinks the Kov into it. The Archbishop requests a discussion with the Glordiadelian Archbishop, and thanks Canberry for sanctuary.
* * *
The Council also speaks to the redactor who they sent to treat the Grand Duchess.

"There might have been someone of sufficient power to still help her, but if there was, it wasn’t me. There was blood penetrating the brain tissue. I believe an elf—a paragon or grandmaster—could have saved her, but I am neither. She had been mauled, and touched by an abomination that could not achieve its normal result. She was mauled in the form of a wolf, and someone struck her a blow that damaged her skull and blood ran into her brain. The elves knew this, and said that they needed to take her. But her entourage refused. I could probably have kept her body alive, but I could not save her mind. So I said that it was too late to save her."
[End session 63]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 64 (May 29, 2014)

Tar-Skard 3
Dame Brionna gets a semi-urgent message after breakfast. [Attached.] Alistair and Kit continue “working to fulfill the prophecy” before joining her.

Commander Strawberry tells us that we’re getting refugees on our northern border from refugees to the west of Enclaves. They appear to be fleeing from Hanalian cavalry pushing towards Enclaves.

Canberry's northern border appears to be under attack from poorly led and even more poorly equipped orcs and goblins.

Commander Strawberry is heading to the northern border via gate with the intention of questioning the refugees as they arrive. His second in command, Dame Esmerelda of the Screaming Oak, is a convert to the worship of Glordiadel from the witches of Borsh’tro. She has gone to Enclaves to investigate there.

His third in command, Sir Neville Moor, is fanatically loyal but not necessarily perfectly objective.

The Council all agree that the fact that this was not delivered to Dame Brionna adequately is a bad sign.

Kit thinks this represents a change in Commander Strawberry’s behavior, and thus thinks that he’s been compromised. Roughly a fortnight ago, he was incapacitated by the giant rune to the Mother of Hordes that they tried to set up.

Dame Brionna reaches out to Bishop Waters (he’s gotten his episcopal ordination) to find out more about Dame Esmerelda’s conversion, reliability, etc.

Kit reaches out to her Finger on Commander Strawberry’s staff.

The Council sends for Sir Neville. He’s very young, and a political appointee—he’s a cousin of Alistair's, although not one who shows up on official family trees.

Commander Strawberry has not seemed himself since his injury. Seemed muddled, unable to think clearly, distracted. He was a mentor to Sir Neville, and previously very competent, both smart and skilled with a blade, although they have quarreled since the injury because of some of Commander Strawberry’s decisions. The letter, though apparently in his hand, is in fact written by a scribe mimicking his hand.

"We have evidence that Commander Strawberry has been replaced with one of the Seen Unseen."

Dame Esmerelda was sent to check for bandits in the Fallen Enclave in the North by Zorplona Aragoni and Northern Aurelian, with a very small team, as well as to assume command of all operations in Enclaves (military intelligence has a variety of teams in place). When Kit, Alistair, and Dame Brionna were in Enclaves, that Fallen Enclave was considered the second most dangerous place in Enclaves to go for those who weren’t from there.

The Council has Bishop Waters send a Sending to her, countermanding Strawberry’s orders; she replies “too late” and something attacks.

The Council contacts Princess Curinirim. She says that Gothmir fell because of a Balrog, who dwells beneath it. The Balrog is battling an Archon. Balrogs are younger cousins of Morgroth; Archons are the inadvertent offspring of Eiru. The Council asks her to rescue their people. She sends a group of her drow, with an arcanadaemon, and another servant (probably a yugoloth or devil). They make contact, and fight an adeptus of tentacles. Her drow get the best of it, but the arcanadaemon falls. (She plans for sacrifices to summon a new arcanadaemon.) "We have them. I will meet them in the outer hall—the vision will follow."

The Council sees a vision. There is a dejected bundle of tentacles with a small innermost body, being held by three drow. Commander Strawberry is there—and clearly actually a Seen-Unseen. Dame Esmerelda is alive, but has been tortured—they put her in skin. They can transport her back to Canberry's arrival chamber.

The two corporals are alive; they were relieved without explanation and sent away with pay. [This refers to the second document of this session, also attached; I'm not sure how the Council got this, whether Sir Neville had it or they found it by searching Strawberry's office or what.]

The Council find the documents in the safe, an actual forgery of Alistair's hand ordering him back to duty. It was done by an expert forger—sufficiently good that Alistair thinks he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

Alistair tells Kit that a master forger has committed high treason, and the Guild needs to clean house.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[session 64, cont'd]
Kit goes to talk to the Guild. The Guildmaster says that he suspects Jerrit the Ferret is the most likely suspect—good enough to do that work, and then desperate for money. He has a drinking problem, so he can’t hold a job with the merchant houses. Also, he might be hooked on a certain brown powder. "We don’t like the krff coming in, but we think it’s coming in from the West, with the farm trains—it’s a new source, not the old network. Coming in on market days. Not the quality of the other stuff either, and some of the bricks are glowing. They probably have something else. Huey, the guild mage, said he thinks it’s meant to magically influence folks. Not the folk that use it, but the folk that are near them, come across the bits of it. Funny thing, though, you can’t grow it in the area that it’s coming from. Someone’s transshipping it through the west."

Kit has people stake out Jerrit the Ferret so he can’t run, but not to bring him in until she talks to Huey.

Dame Brionna talks to the corporals (after checking that their blood is right).
"Krff reappeared 13 days ago, and it was being given away, to anyone who would take it. We were picking up 50 people in a week, and then 50 people in the next week, so we wanted to show it to Dame Esmerelda." They saw the krff, with the weirding, because they have the sight.

"Did you pick up anyone associated with the nobility, or the priests, the guards, or anyone with magic?"

"We don’t patrol in the upper city, but no."

* * *
The Guildmaster returns with Huey, who is bonkers but good at magic. Kit meets him with Lady Constance.

"The new krff is an absolute abomination, just terrible. For the people who use it, normal effects. For the people who come into contact with it, connected to the dromora. Dromora are an elder demon of a particular type. That’s the signature that comes off it, and I followed one of the sparkly bits into the ether, and there it was, sitting there in the Astral, leering down. It whispers constantly, continuously. Most of the people who hear it will eventually go mad. A few of them will come under its influence."

"Who commands these things?"

Huey (who thinks he’s Alonzo) has some of the old grimoires, but doesn’t summon such things. "Don’t summon anything but cats. The summoners, though… the blood sacrifice to one of the old ones, one of the unmentionable ones, one of the ones you don’t name… HER!"

(Lady Constance confirms that that’s a reference to the Goddess of the Pale Bone.)

Lady Constance: "I know that we’re moving away from the Locus, but had they been a little more patient… once the situation resolved itself in the Spicelands, the Locus, the possibility of an empire destroying event, is receding. But the leftovers are still very dangerous. Had they been more patient, and built up for another two years, I think they could have succeeded. They must have underestimated you, your grace, since Canberry is the only empire that could have opposed them, except for Masque, and what can be said about Masque?"

"And we believe Masque is compromised," adds Kit

"They no longer stand a chance to bring her through, in my opinion. This may be an attempt to do as much damage as possible before the gates recede."

"On another matter... Could an Archangel be mistaken for an Archon by the Noldar?"

"The Eldar and Noldar see through their own lens. They are incredibly powerful, although the ones you have met are all young by their standards, except the Princess, and she is so sheltered. Neither of those groups tend to look beneath the surface with beings such as that. So if an Archangel believed itself to be an Archon, only a priestess of Eiru would be able to see through."

"Could an Archangel match itself against a balrog?"

"An Archangel could not stand up to Gothmog, or the Prince of the Cities of Pain. But a normal Balrog? Yes; I could see it. If you remove the artifact, the Archangel (if it is drawing power from it) would not survive long against a Balrog. A Balrog could not threaten Enclaves. It would go to ground—that’s what 19 of the other 20 released in recent years have done, and the 20th was killed."

Kit's people bring in Jerrit the Ferret.
[End Session 64]
 


CPaladin

Explorer
Yup, absolutely. A bunch of what I'll describe as the demonology of Aphonion is derived from Tekumel materials. The DM occasionally runs EPT one shots and has some stories about playing with MAR Barker back in the day (at cons and things, not in his regular games).

I'm not sure whether in Aphonion's story the Goddess of the Pale Bone came from Tekumel's neighborhood of planes before reaching Aphonion's, or whether she was just taken as an element to incorporate into Aphonion's world design.
 

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