Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes (posts MWF, most recent 12/1/22)

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]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 121 (December 16, 2020)

24 Ras (cont'd)
Dame Brionna consults with Lady Constance about the Queen-Empress. “If we knew the true name of the Usurper, we could use that for various powerful effects. She uses no name, because for a demon of great power, it would need to be a variation of her true name. And a sufficiently powerful and skilled demonist or daemonist could unscramble her use name.”

“How would you find her true name?”

“Attempt to capture some of the nobles from planes with which she is associated and torture them for information. I thought she might be the Princess of Pain, but my friends in the Holy See who have tortured some of her allies do not find any resonance there. We know that it is not Lolth, we know it is not the Queen of the Succubi, we know it is not the Queen of Chaos as she is still bound, but that leaves some 200 ranking female nobles of the Abyss.”

“We know that she was the Noldar called the Seductress, and then a duchess of Hell, and then a demon lady. Would her name as a Noldar or Duchess of Hell help?”

“Her name as a Duchess of Hell might; her name as a Noldar has been severed and has no connection.”

Dame Brionna says, “What about her son, Valek? He’s a devil, and he hates her. Or Malaket, who certainly does not know.”

“He might know, or know something. Would you wish me to try to summon him? I would like to summon him, but not bind him, I think, as he must help us of his own free will.”

We make sure that he is unlikely to escape, and upon reassurance, agree.

25 Ras
Kit’s to do list:
Continue investigation of the corrupted Glordiadelian treasurer
Find out what’s going on with the Crystal Cities mobilizing towards Hanal

Alistair’s to do list:
Find out who tried to kill the Patriarch and what potential successor may have been suborned

The Cathedral reports to Princess Kaitlyn and Kit that large quantities of sacramental blessed food and drink is missing.

“While that is not of great monetary value, your majesty, we understand that it can be used for summoning—if it has been debased.”

Kit asks, “How can we trace those or find where they went?”

“We know which storehouse it should have been in, we know what the records say went out, and we know that they did not arrive at the parishes in those numbers—apparently the Treasurer falsified the records. We first checked the storehouse, but they are not there either. There may be as many as, in the last year, 3000 of holy food missing—the Feast of the Sun. They have already had the initial blessing, and so they could be debased for foul purposes. We left the pallets where they should have been undisturbed.”

“Was anything else missing?”

“Not that we were able to trace through the books.”

“Who was in charge of those requisitions?”

“The Treasurer.”

“Of course.”

“The money was a steady trickle of money for years, but never a large amount at one time. About five years total.”

They perform an obeisance as they leave. Kaitlyn comments that she finds that hard to get used to—the bowing and scraping—since they never did that sort of thing in her home realms. She chats about that with Kit.

* * *

Kit has a meeting with Anastasia.

“Crystal Cities? They’ve been withdrawn from contact with everyone since before I was born. They are very powerful, but they have mostly wanted to be left alone. Especially after the terrible attack a century ago, when an Argoni lord attacked with four field armies of uruks. The field armies were wiped out, and his aide was killed. The Argoni lord—Quinliart—retreated to Enclaves, and it’s said that he went mad. But the Crystal Cities became withdrawn. After my mother tested their borders, they wiped out the legions involved entirely and returned the commander’s head in a true-silver box.

“If they are mobilizing, they think that we will attack them.”

“Or they want to strike against the faction related to Quinliart.”

“Perhaps. I cannot imagine them wanting to get involved in our internal matters. If they thought it might hurt Quinliart, however…”

Kit decides that she needs to try to move up our meeting with the Council of the Crystal Cities, scheduled for a month’s time out.

She goes to the communications matrix and gets patched through. The Lady of Ruby appears. “Ah. Dame Katherine, I recall.”

“Yes, thank you for meeting with me. I know we are scheduled to have a meeting in a month’s time, but I wished to ask some questions and perhaps move up the meeting.”

“You can ask questions. I cannot say about moving up the meeting, and my husband is attending to readying the vollers.”

“That’s what we wanted to ask about. That’s a remarkable step for your cities.”

“It has come to our attention that he intends to make another try. We have opened contacts with new outside sources. And we have learned where he has gone to ground, and we have learned that he hopes to send half-human legions against us. We will not permit a further slaughter of our children. So we are considering a pre-emptive assault. We have never done that since the beginning of time, but we do have the capability. And we were inspired by the assault of the Lady of Aufaulgautharim. We may follow her example and strike them before they can strike us.”

“You say you know where your target is. Where is it?”

“He is deeply buried beneath their capital city. He has erected an eldritch matrix, and combined his powers with the forces he has stupidly allied with to raise the barrier, along with his psionic power.”

Kit works to try to get Anastasia and the Lady of Ruby to coordinate together and share their common goals—or at least common targets. Kit succeeds in getting them to talk together, despite the fact that she is Thyastis’s daughter and Thyastis commanded the probes against the Crystal Cities.

“There’s so much energy inducted into his fraudulent queen through ritual that she is far more powerful than she should be. And she can lend that to him. We are trying to calculate how dangerous that makes him. But there are only six of us after all. It has been a very long time since we have had actual allies. We were among the uncommitted. Alliances with us generally ended—that’s why we treasure our children so much.”

[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 121, cont'd]
In the Holy See of Light: Dame Brionna wants to find out who was responsible for summoning all the archbishops, appointing the acting archbishops, and so forth. The person responsible should be the Supernumerary Privy Chamberlain.

Alistair and the Princess Cecilia decide to pay a visit to the Supernumerary Privy Chamberlain. They just brush past an ecclesiastical guard.

The Supernumerary Privy Chamberlain is extremely elderly. Aunt Cecilia announces, “He’s half-senile you know.”

"We wanted to discuss how the decision to call the Archbishops was made, who to appoint as acting archbishops, and so forth."

“The Apostolic Prefect made the decision, of course, upon the advice of the Patriarch’s chief healer. He appoints the acting archbishops. The assumption is that you want someone who will do an adequate job but not give any ideas.”

The Apostolic Prefect is generally chosen based on competence. The lower echelons of that office are usually those who have not been deeply called by the Lord of Light. The current holder was appointed by the prior patriarch. But he has considered retiring to his family estate, now that his brother has passed into the Light.

“What estate?”

“It’s one of the upland estates in Tarhanna. Definitely Tarhanna, but I can’t recall which.”

“And the chief healer?”

“Father Rafael—parish priest of the church in the lower chapel, probably ministering to the poor in the streets now. He’s only a parish priest, but the finest healer. He will help anyone, and is a skilled and wise healer, a very good man, and very faithful and holy. His one regret is that by taking the orders he has he cannot have children. He accepted it when poor. His parents were pirates. He was found on their ship when it was taken, and ended up in an orphanage in Tarhanna. When he got old enough, he wanted to enter the novitiate in Tarhanna, but they would not take him without money. He came here instead, and entered orders immediately.”

They send a runner to ask Father Rafael to attend on them. They then ask for a guide through the servants’ passageways to the Apostolic Prefect’s offices. They wait for some patriarchal guards to take position at the front of the office.

They then burst in the back.

“A blank?” says Aunt Cecilia.

“Which one?”

“The whole room and everything in it.”

“Back, back!” shouts Alistair. “Get out now!” He calls to the guards on the far side: “Allow no one in or out!”

He then rushes out. Alistair and Aunt Cecilia retreat, contacting Grandmaster Farsensor as they go.

<<That room is warded. Not your temple’s wards, either.>>

“What would orichalcum do to the wards?”

<<It might work.>>

Dame Brionna throws a thumbnail of orichalcum at the door, which explodes, leaving a hole into the room. Some clerks are dead, some clerks appear to have attacked others, and a middle-aged man is leading a group of people in burning documents in the center. The middle-aged man starts slitting the throat of one of the youngest clerks. Dame Brionna hurls her spear, hitting him square in the forehead and apparently killing him as he teleports out.

Dame Brionna reaches out to Grandmaster Farsensor. “Can you locate my spear?”

“Yes, its signature is very clear. It’s intelligent, you know. In Hanal City, in a hall, all in green and white. It’s very regal, but there’s no one there. I don’t think he expected to die as he teleported there.”

“Can you recover my spear?”

“Normally, child-play. But the psychic field that surrounds the city now is horrific. And I can sense many, many, many blood-driven in the city. They’re preying on the citizens.”

They identify the location as the Hall of Justice, right near the Imperial Palace of Hanal.

The man was the assistant prefect. He would have been next in line for Apostolic Prefect—and the Apostolic Prefect himself is dead, with an adamantine dagger driven into his heart. He’s still warm.

Alistair sends a large body of military to secure Father Rafael as quickly as possible. The messenger Alistair sent first is defending Father Rafael from assassins as they arrive. The Patriarchal Guard take two prisoners, kill three assailants, and bring the messenger and Father Rafael back.

“Did Harald have any particular friends among the ecclesiarchs? Any that he corresponded with and may have tried to keep secret?”

“Not much correspondence with any of them. But there was a priest from his home parish who corresponded with him, who he always responded to. But he was just a priest. He came from the Kingdom of Many Paths. They’re a strange group to begin with. So it was one of their priests with the title of Mountain Paths or something like that. They’re a strange place, and they also keep slaves. He came from their capital, so I guess that priest was in the capital.” (He’s an acting archbishop right now.)

Aunt Cecilia identifies one of the two living prisoners as not what he seems. "They’re hired assassins—one is a doppelganger, apparently hired to replace Father Rafael and carrying some dreadful poisonous stuff that will enter you if touched."

They also have some scribes and accountants, including some with expertise in reconstructing documents, teleported in. Kit’s personal scribe leads the group—which Kit doesn’t entirely realize was the plan until they teleported.

They speak with the surviving clerks who they knocked out. The clerks tell them that Harald—the chief assistant to the Apostolic Prefect—changed all the plans in preparation for his succession. He also planned on taking them into the deepest basement for an initiation—seemed concerning. Also, some documents disappeared—the defense plans for the cathedral and the apostolic palace. Also, a copy of the order of the armory. And the oddest, an inventory of the Sacred Closet. That was replaced with an incorrect inventory of the Sacred Closet—there are things that are there and aren’t on the list, like the Sacred Prism of the Sun, and elemental globes that are used for the Angelic Host—but those are gone but not signed out. (The Sacred Prism of the Sun has also been stolen.)

Dame Brionna raises the alarm throughout the palace, and meets with the Bishop of Security. They switch to a backup plan. And the Sacred Prism can project powerful blasts of light—it’s an essential part of the protection of the Holy See, along with the globes of the Angelic Host, which can be used to summon a significant number of angels to defend the Holy See.

(They ask Grandmaster Farsensor if he can ask the Highborn to send a voller fleet to defend the Holy See. He says it will be more of a squadron, but yes. The Highborn also turns her own voller—it will be here somewhat sooner. The squadron is about 9 hours away.)

A commune verifies that a voller fleet is closing, but it’s about 4 hours away. There are about two hundred ships in the fleet. The Highborn’s ship will make it in time, but the elven fleet will not.
[End session 121]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 122 (January 20, 2021)

25 Ras (cont’d)

Dame Brionna has a report [attached] from a Drowan undercity (Veldrinishar) that they had destroyed a small group traveling through the Underdark, entering the deep channels heading south, presumably towards the Holy See based on their location. Some of them were translucent, and one had a powerful rod which could control minds.

The clerical structures and the hierarchy’s palaces are sanctified, but the rest of the city is not.

Kit has a report from a toe among refugees in Hanal [attached]. The elven vollers are taking out various opponents on the usurper’s side. The Crystal Cities are providing support and giving food to the refugees, but also telling them to stay away lest they be attacked. Starvation is a serious concern. Kit plans on talking to Gunnorans about providing more food.

The voller fleet is coming from the northwest—possibly Tarhanna?

They spend some time coming up with and assigning a task list to defend the See of Light.

1. Check the basements and reinforce against attacks from below (Dame Brionna)
  1. Sanctify everything that we can. (delegated to NPCs)
  2. See if we can do anything to slow or harry the Voller fleet

    • Talk to the God of Time to see if he can change the flow of time for the Voller fleet (Alistair?)
    • Armada strategy? I.e., lots of small harrying attacks? Eagles?
    • Reach out to Blessed Wood to see if they can intercept (Kit)
    • The Fifth Region of Argoni is all of Zest’qua, and willing to do anything for money (poorest region); Lady Zel’est’ra Moriquendarim (Alistair)
    • Dragons?? Council of Ancient Wyrms? (Alistair)
    • Talk to the God of the Ocean to deal with the surface ships approaching (Alistair)
  • Divination? Find out if an attack is planned on Canberry (delegated to NPCs)
  • Revise defense plans and respond to the fact that they have the main plan but not the back-up plans (Dame Brionna)
  • Bring up magic resources we do have to hand (Alistair?)
  • Bring in allies--Magocracy of Perdun; Council of White Mages; Grand County of Vethrock; Northern Aurelian
  • Allied air elementals (Alistair)
  • Send Kit an Archbishop or 2 who can do Resurrect.
  • Move civilians into sanctified areas. (delegated to NPCs)
  • At some point cast a Forbiddance spell. (delegated to NPCs)
  • Planar Allies.
  • Replacing the acting Archbishops and establishing an emergency plan of succession (Alistair with the patriarch)
  • Suggestions from Lord Davion (Kit)
Alistair goes to the modest chapel to the God of Time. The priest invokes the Lord of Time with grand gestures and theatrics. There is a shimmer around them, and they appear in the midst of a garden where Alistair hears nothing but clocks.

Alistair asks if he can slow our enemies or speed our allies, so the elven squadron arrives before the enemy air fleet. The God of Time says that slowing the enemy can create problems, but that speeding allies is within his power. Alistair suggests that it would be appropriate to build the God of Time a cathedral of his own in the Holy See, similar in dignity and size to the Basilica of Fate to his sister; the God is extremely pleased, and extra pleased by the fact that it will upset her. Alistair also promises a tall clocktower, lit so that the time can be seen day and night. The God is very happy, and promises that their allies will arrive half an hour before the enemy, instead of four or five hours later.

Meanwhile, Dame Brionna travels with three investigative squads, ten paladins, and a hundred church troops into the basement. The farsensor in one of the squads indicates an area where he can’t sense anything, which concerns him. Dame Brionna readies her forces, then throws a small handful of orichalcum. There is a thunderous boom and the back wall of the chamber explodes in. Behind it, she sees a roughly dug tunnel. There are a significant number of dead figures in the chamber, as well as two figures that seem shocked but completely undamaged by the blast and the flying stone. One is translucent, the other is a human female dressed in elaborate robes with all sorts of symbology on them, carrying a rod with three tentacles, much like the rod sent by the drow.

Brionna warns everyone about mind control and advises protection against it Brionna charges directly at the woman with the rod. Misses! The squad targets translucent person at range. (Brionna plans to use orichalcum once she’s dealt with Rod Woman.)

She says something in a language Dame Brionna doesn’t understand and attacks with three tendrils from her rod. (A cleric behind her gasps, apparently understanding or at least recognizing the language.) One of the tendrils slips through and touches Dame Brionna’s face, and begins burrowing into her face, doing 14 points of damage, but Dame Brionna saves. A whispering voice talks about consumption and absorbtion things of that matter. Dame Brionna attacks back, striking her with fairly good blows.

The translucent figure somersaults past the battle. He must have originally been a rogue because of how he moves, but he rushes at the people behind her. He attacks the priest in Dame Brionna’s squad, and dismembers the priest hideously.

The tendril keeps burrowing into Dame Brionna, while a second tendril attaches itself and does 5 points of additional damage. Dame Brionna feels the first tendril spit something solid into her.

Dame Brionna chops at the rod. She does 16 points of damage—not enough to break it—and then flung orichalcum dust at the translucent figure behind him, detonating him, leaving only a blue flame fallen to the ground.

The second tendril also deposits something into Dame Brionna.

Dame Brionna strikes the rod again and it blows apart in a burst of blue light.

The now-disarmed rod lady throws a lightning bolt at Dame Brionna, and then Dame Brionna finishes her off. Her wounds are seeping but starting to crawl back together. “Burn her! And then get as much holy water here as we can, and then give me some to drink.” The holy water causes the tentacles to shrivel up.

We arrange for a group of dwarves to sap and collapse the tunnel safely to make sure that no further attackers come in. Dame Brionna hurries to a redactor. “Oh! It tried to implant some of those star things. I don’t know if that would work with a paladin, but we should probably get them out.” Dame Brionna passes out during the surgery, for about an hour.

[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 122, cont'd]
Kit talks to Grandmaster Farsensor about talking to the Blessed Wood.

“They only have the Eldarborn Lord, his consort, his son, and one other Eldar. Since you wish them to commit their ships—you will have to speak to the Lord of the Wood. You will be talking to the Eldarborn Lord Tha’indri’al.”

He creates a psionic connection. The elves speak in Eldar for a while, and then he says, “He tells me that you have need of the Blessed Wood.”

Kit tells him that our holiest city is under threat from a great enemy and that we humbly asks their aid in stopping this attack that is coming by air.

“What is this enemy?”

Kit gets a strange word in her mind, probably from the Grandmaster Farsensor. She struggles and forms the syllables by force of will, and the Eldar and the wood elf attendants gasp.

“Lady Katharine, we rarely interfere with the younger races, but that the ancient abominator has come again requires extraordinary action on our part. I will commit our vollers—all five of our fleet—and 100 archers.”

As he fades out, his attendants strap on crystal armor.

* * *
Alistair has several priests perform divinations—"should we expect a significant attack on Canberry (excluding the people within the Holy See) within the next day?"
Yes.

Divination:
"How best can we defend against the attack on Canberry, without Alistair or his entourage returning to Canberry?"
Look far to the South, they attack where weak, open your mouth, armies there seek.

Commune:
Is Canberry City itself in imminent danger? No.

Is the expected attack on Canberry in the former South Kingdoms? Yes.

Is it targeted at their effective capital? Yes.

Is the South Kingdom colony in the southern continent going to be imminently attacked? Yes.

Can Dame Katharine, the Mouth, raise armies to defend? No.

Can the Empress Kaitlyn raise armies to defend by her speech? No.

Is the primary way to defend by providing warning of the attack? Yes.

Will the attack be by air? Yes.

Is it an attack by Zorplona-Aragoni? Yes.

(Unasked because ran out of questions: Is it an attack directly by forces of the Unspeakable?
Is it an attack by Skaven?
Is it an attack by humans?)

* * *
Alistair reaches out to Lady Zel’est’ra Moriquendarim through a human Farsensor.

They negotiate. She agrees to engage the enemy and to provide 8000 uruks (eight elite legions, with permission for the Glordiadelians to proselytize to them) to defend against the surface troops. She identifies the airfleet as Hanalian; Alistair promises a reasonable fee for their services, as well as any prize ships that they take (and he says that they’ll turn a blind eye to what happens to any prisoners taken beyond the borders of the Holy See.)

She points out that there are also 57 surface ship troop carriers.

They also talk about whether anyone can bring the Seventh Region to heel. Alistair gave her the information about the Prince of the Cities of Pain. She said that the head of house Moriquendarim could stop Quinliart’s brother, and would if Alistair talked to him and explained the problem. She also, without any prompting, promised that they could have any ten slaves from the Zorplona-Argoni that they request.
[End Session 122]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 123 (February 17, 2021)

25 Ras (cont’d)

They get a report from the Militant Order of the Knights of the Misty Dawn; troop transports have landed 50 miles away. [Attached]. They also review a map of the area surrounding the Holy See.

They send a sending to Tottenheim:
Holy See expects attack in 4 hours by 200 Vollers, 250 naval ships, footsoldiers. Defense plans/ key relics stolen. Elven/Noldor vollers intercepting enemy vollers.

He responds:
In brutal negotiations with warlords Khamista. Consult adjunct - General Lord Thaddeus Devondale in See. All orders militant active. Thaddeus command. You command secular. Light Endures!

They find Lord Thaddeus Devondale. “We must immediately convert the cathedral for its secondary purpose—hospital. That should be put under the authority of the Brotherhood of the Archangel Parantholial the Healer and the other healing orders. Some of the orders need to be protected. The Ever-Virgin Order of Tophiel can fight—Tophiel expects no less.” He mobilizes the orders. “Do not get into arguments with the Knights Resplendent. They don’t follow orders anyway. I will personally activate the Templars of the Tower. They will guard His Holiness’s chambers.”

“Do we have any means that my voice could be heard throughout the defense?”

“Some of the clerics can. I will send the Father-Superior of the Order of Gavriel. He can. I will send the Oblates of the Utter Mother into the sea to try to stop the ships.”

They estimate that there will be 20,000 to 50,000 enemy troops. We have about 2500 troops, plus the 8000 uruks. They ring the bells, ordering the civilians to flee west. They don’t dare bring them into the Holy See for fear of bombardment. They plan to try to break any mind control.

They expect any non-fanatic human captains to break when engaged by elven vollers, but the fanatics will continue. They arrange for people to be brought within the Holy See itself, and to have their blood checked as they come in.

* * *
Kit has a psionic contact in the Southern Kingdoms, a lady who is usually part of the Empress’s entourage when the Empress is in the South.

“Oh, my lady.”

“We have urgent news. There is an attack coming from Zorplona-Argoni.”

“I thought they had stopped.”

“So had we. Do you want to speak to the commander?”

“Yes, probably best.”

“Cat among the pigeons again, eh? We’ll have to see if we can show them what for. We have built some new artillery.”

Empress Caitlyn says, “I’m not sure our artillery will be able to deal with a Noldar voller—or more than one.”

Kit talks about other resources they have—some mages, some of the cat lords who have been helping them rebuild the capital. They also talk about reaching out to the friendly mage in the Mountains of Mages.

Kit has farsensors trying to get a count of the enemy numbers. They have to be extraordinarily cautious. “They’re closing with an armada, a man-of-war, and eight scows; the scows are carrying troops, probably about a thousand. They have a single vessel behind—likely a fast courier, either to report or for a favored prisoner.”

They could be aiming to capture one of the Empress’s body doubles if they don’t realize they’re doubles. “They could also be going after our military leaders, such as we have. There’s a member of the great council of Skree that has been willing to trade with us. They might be willing to assist. They might be willing to throw some of their lesser clan rats at the enemy to stop them, viewing any losses as advantageous to eliminating excess population.”

Farsensors link to him—the white Skaven that we’ve met before. “Grain farm idea working.”

“That’s wonderful, wonderful. But we have a favor we would ask of you.”

“I listen! I do not understand your idioms, but I listen.”

Empress Caitlyn explains the situation.

“Two warlord clans near border can reach you before they do. I send them now-now. They skitter-skitter up to you and they fight for our trade alliance. I go now.”

“Well, that will help. I have no idea how many are in those clans, but they will help. They may swamp the uruks, or may be a small aid.”
* * *

Kit talks to Princess Anastasia. “The troops will not make a dent, but the vollers… I will talk to Cov Snatterkaz immediately.”

* * *
Lord Davion is penning calligraphy in an elegant hand using silver ink on paper of beaten adamantium.

“We have another emergency. I’d love to speak to you someday when we’re not having an emergency, but…” Kit brings Lord Davion up to speed.

“This tells us a great deal. Firstly, it tells us that the One Other is convinced that his two colleagues will never be able to enter this plane. He is now acting on his own.”

“How does this tell you that?”

“He is doing one thrust with most of his forces. That is not something you do if you fear that you may have to use them for something else. What he hopes to do, if he is alone here, he cannot consume everything. However, if he can consume enough, he could elevate himself to ruling god status. He needs gods. Glordiadel would be a lovely start—that is his goal. If he can conquer the Holy See and destroy the center of the Church, he hopes to use that to seize what power he can. He will completely shatter the Temple of Sytry within the next few years. The devotees of the Blue Star will follow him into oblivion. He will draw into a pantheon those who ally with him. He has betrayed his fellows. Otherwise, he would try to get them in while that is still possible. He will be unlikely to consume Sytry, but he will break his church. He might try to consume Borsh’tro. He knows he could not consume the Creator alone. So he tries to merely control everything. That is what the First Age tells me. So we must defeat him in detail now. It will not destroy him, but it will put him in a place he does not want to be. It will take him millennia to rebuild his temple. Should I apport to the South Kingdoms to… advise?”

“If you think that’s where you can assist the most.”

“The Empress’s commander in the South Kingdoms is a competent captain, but no general. Perhaps I can advise him to be competent.”

* * *

Alistair has a human psion link him to the Prince of the House of Moriquendarim. As soon as the link is made, it’s as if we’re standing in the room together. He is seated on a half throne, but the filigree adamantium doors that are being closed are to an enormous chamber of Noldar of House Moriquendarim, Twilight Elves, and others are all having animated conversations.

“If there are no slave carriers, this is not a raid. That suggests that Quinliart’s brother may have fallen from the House.

“House Moriquendarim is the weakest but most numerous of the Noldar houses. The Aragoni are a faction within the house, but only a faction—one of six. They capture slaves and sell them, sometimes in ways that the House does not approve. Sometimes they are put in their place. They pay 20% of their profits to the House for our let and approval. The majority of House Moriquendarim are not slavers—the largest position is the ridiculous idea that it is our place to help prepare the elevation of the lesser races that will replace us, ridiculous as that idea is. The few holdings we have outside of Krashmere are not devoted to specific sects. So for example, the Enclave formerly Zorplona-Argoni is now in the hold of a Sustainer, one of the other factions. That Enclave will never again take slaves unless the Argoni take power there someday in the future. Quinliart’s brother made enormous wealth during the Day of the Dead, and has said himself that the ‘cattle’ should be given some centuries to recover. If there are no slave carriers—I think he will not obey my orders but will turn renegade instead. Some of his twilight elf officers may turn against him.”

They provide a metal medallion of Adamantium inlaid with laen. Alistair sends that to Lord Davion, sending it with some of the people who can resurrect that they sent to Kit.

* * *
Alistair goes to speak to the Utter Mother, Goddess of the Ocean, going to her shrine. There’s only one oblate left there.

She makes odd burbling sounds, and smooth, cold water shows up. Alistair finds himself floating, flippers holding him in place, and large eyes float in the ocean.

He asks for assistance.

“I will send water spouts. Some it will wreck. Some will reach the shore. I will pay particular attention to the eight in the rear. They do not carry troops. They carry death. A little dollop of death in the sea washes out in the water.”

Alistair asks if she wants anything, and she says that she is not like her brother and sister. Her oblates have taken other forms, and she will strengthen them.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 123, cont'd]
A group of vollers come in very fast and disgorge uruks from scows. Their drowan officers are literally whipping them into shape, forming them up and disciplining them.

* * *
Alistair and the Patriarch quickly set up a new system of acting Archbishops and of an emergency council if the council is destroyed and needed. The bishop of the senior diocese of each province is to be the acting archbishop of the province, but cannot succeed to the archbishopric directly. The emergency council would be any surviving members of the council, any surviving archbishops, the acting archbishops for any province whose archbishop does not survive, and the Protector of the Light.

* * *
Dame Brionna works on adjusting and revising the plans on the fly so that we’re not doing specifically what the plans suggest.

They deploy the archers concentrated on the seaward approaches. Dame Brionna leads a rapid response force—18 Knights of Valor, and 8 Knights of Hegatha (who are famed for ferocity). She also has them prepare boiling holy water for the wall defenses.

They also contact the Council of White Mages, and they get three dithering mages who can help, and can be directed. The mages are archmagi, so they do have plenty of spells.

* * *
Alistair and Dame Brionna can see the waterspouts from where they are, as a flotilla of Eldar ships arrive, and on the other side of the city the uruks and the Lady of the Fifth Region of the Aragoni.

Two hundred human vollers blackens the sky. They are arriving at the same time as the ships, at about the same time the landed troops engage the uruks.

Alistair inspires the whole defense efforts. Some ships do make it into port, landing 130 additional ships worth of troops while the rest are destroyed.

As the vollers come in, the elven vollers start cutting them down from above. There are a couple of ragged volleys. A few captains do withdraw; a few have munities on deck; but most continue on.

At the same time, in the South Kingdoms, a large horde of clan rats arrive and await the attack. And yes, the Noldar lord ignored the command from his prince. The skaven greatly outnumber the uruks, although the uruks are more individually powerful and much more disciplined. The humans backing up the skaven start engaging them. And then Lord Davion reveals himself fully, and his armor lights up, as does the Moriquendarim medallion, and declaims in Noldar. His aura causes many of the uruks nearest him (and some of the skaven nearest him) collapse in worship. Some of the officers seem startled, and one exchanges words with him in Noldar. Those officers, both Twilight Elves, slowly kneel and lay down their weapons in front of him.

The oblates and the sharks are now swarming and eating anyone coming off the ships that are sinking. The combat is fierce.

A monk approaches Dame Brionna. “A small group just cut their way through over one of the towers and the sidewall. We don’t know where they came from, but they seem different from the others in front of them.”

Dame Brionna rallies her team, and flies over on her horse. A volley of darts flies at her, with some dozen missing and three striking her. She indicates where the attack came from, and a mage purges invisibility. There are about two dozen figures, most human, some translucent, and one wielding one of the tentacle rods. She charges the rod bearer. She kills him outright with an enormous blow.

Lord Davion hews his way through the uruks, still talking, and the two Twilight Elf officers now strike their own former troops. The drow try to avoid him while still moving their charges to the place where Empress Caitlyn stays while down there. Nobody here gives ground. Everyone fights to the death, so it’s a savage fight.

Back at the Holy See, Dame Brionna keeps doing dives. The enemy vollers are now over the city. The elves ask Alistair what they should do, and he says better to have their wreckage fall on the city than their weapons. Finally, they identify the enemy flagship and a group of glowing and shining elves descend on the flagship, levitating down. A couple minutes later, a beautiful elven maiden in crystal armor holds up the head of an admiral, and using declamatory mode, declares psionically. “Your admiral is dead. On behalf of the Overqueen, I command you to surrender your vessels or withdraw from this place, or you will all be destroyed.”

In the South Kingdoms, the uruks are fighting to the death, even though the tide has clearly turned against them. Lord Davion has stopped killing them, while others continue killing them. The uruks are now being driven back, especially when two rakshasa knights join the battle. The skaven were absolutely slaughtered, but provided a cushion. Finally, in despair, the drow attempt to attack Lord Davion. This does not go well. And suddenly another voller shoots northwest.

Meanwhile, Dame Brionna and her group of knights bring down the band from the Underdark, with minimal casualties, despite their power. There’s some spell throwing on both sides. Lord Devondell is correct about the Knights of Hagaratha, who are like killing machines when they get started. The secret force, which was part of the whole attack, fails.

About a half-dozen of the Hanalian pilots are setting their vollers as close to the ground as they can and abandoning them. They’re porting their weapons and striking their colors.

The ground troops are the biggest problem, and the battle lasts for hours. The cathedral is full of wounded. There are vast numbers of dead as well. Dame Brionna deploys some calm emotion effects on the enemy, which seems to shake a fair number of the ground troops almost out of a trance. At that point, many of them look around and wonder what they are doing.

Some sea ships withdrew. Some vollers fled as well, and the elves let them go, although the Moriquendarim may not.

It is effectively over, though the cost in human lives was severe.

* * *

In the South, Lord Davion and the general who nominally was in charge for the whole time repulse the enemy. Lord Davion lays laen links around the necks of the two Twilight Elves. Once the situation is secure, he apports them to Dame Kit, and commands the two Twilight Elves to their knees before Empress Caitlyn and Dame Kit, “the special companion of the Emperor.”

“These two surrendered. I wish them to be granted leniency.”

“We accept your surrender," says Kit. "While we await official decision on your fate, we ask if you have any information on what else comes in the South.”

“We heard a rumor that the Prince had communicated his dissatisfaction with our lord. We did not believe that. But he was preparing his own fast voller before we left—we believe he may have gone to join his brother. For if he truly defied an order of the house lord, he is finished in the House, and while there may be a place for a renegade Aufaugautharim, there is no place for a renegade Moriquendarim. His brother was with us for a time after he fled Enclaves. He then departed with his forces and a group of strange creatures—the tall, humanoid figures translucent with blue fire in their bellies. Once they arrived, Lord Quinliart departed, but his brother sheltered him for weeks, and they were always close. Those strange beings felt of something unclean, but one does not question a Noldar lord. He emptied the region house for this attack. And I do not know why he picked the day he picked and I do not know why he commanded it. He abandoned—scuttled actually—the slave transports.”

“Were there any slaves on board?” asks Kit.

“No. We have not taken any slaves since the fall. There was no need. But he must have known that he was not returning. We thought it was a senseless act, but he could have bought new. There was even some talk that he might be following the lead of the northern kin, but we knew that was not. We have seen the vigor with which he gathered slaves in the old days.”

Her questions answered, Kit turns to the Empress. “Empress Caitlyn. These are your prisoners.”

“If Lord Davion wishes to grant them mercy, I see no reason not to. I would wish that they not be armed, and not be permitted to rejoin their master. For their other crimes, I will defer to my husband. Did you take slaves of my people?”

“Yes, many times after your kingdoms fell.”

The Empress's face darkens. “Yes, it is best that the Emperor decide your final fate.”

* * *

Back to the Holy See, where a rapidly marching legion of secular troops from a nearby city arrives. The battle continues for 18 hours. By that time, more legions of foot have arrived, and a couple of legions of horse, and the elves from the Blessed Wood have hacked their way through the enemy, and suddenly the ragged remains—only a couple thousand left—surrender as if someone dropped their reins.

The highest ranking enemy officer is a lieutenant.

Even the uruks are down to about 2500. The Knights of Hagaratha went from 8 to 3. Most of the holy orders holding the walls did okay. The elves did fairly well.

The Eldarborn lord extended himself. “There was a malign presence that was indwelling all of them, and it suddenly let go, in an instance. I have never seen the like. It was not psionic, exactly, nor magic, exactly. It was almost un-divine.”

“It was surely eldritch, as your people use that term.”

“Yes, but it had something else to it as well. Perhaps we should remain for longer than we had intended. We will encamp beyond the walls.”

The image of the highborn Eldar appears. “That was vigorous.”

“We thank you for your indispensable defense.”

“You were right to call on us. Without our aid, the city would have fallen. I apologize for beheading the admiral. What must you think of me. I would have rather spoken to the trees, but we spoke to the trees for too long last time.” She sends a redactor to assist in the healing in the cathedral.

Eventually, someone brings the lieutenant to Alistair.

He accepts their surrender.

“We were put on the ship. We weren’t told where we were going. As the voyage progressed, we became like animals. We felt compelled, that we had to get in to that building, within those walls, and kill everyone. The city is in such disarray. They’ve released the blood-driven into the streets, and they’re killing everyone. The city is emptied, with the only survivors those hiding in destroyed homes. And we did nothing… why did we do nothing?”

He has a nervous breakdown, but the elven redactor prevents disaster. “But… the thing that was driving them? We need to shield them against it.”

Grandmaster Farsensor says he can shield against it.
[End Session 123]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 124 (March 3, 2021)

26 Ras
Alistair and Dame Brionna meet with the general of the Holy See and ask if he wants to claim the half-dozen captured vollers. He says no, that they would be better in Canberry's navy than here.

Alistair makes a pitch to the surviving uruks to convert and remain. About 1000 agree to line up and convert, once he says that he can arrange for them to have uruk women as well.

Alistair speaks to the Lady of the Aragoni region, who expresses that she is more than happy to dispose of female uruks, because she only needs enough to match her number of males and has just lost many.

The light elves do a full probe, looking for additional threats.

There appears to be a long, shallow tunnel under the sea, heading away to the northwest. They don’t sense anything unusual within it, but that may have been how the assassins got here. The main tunnel exits in the center of the island.

* * *
A runner hurries in to Kit. “She said to tell ‘er, there here, she’s got them, and if you want to question them, it ought to be soonish.”

Kit thanks him, and tells him that she will go to Dame Constance as soon as possible.

She heads over to Dame Constance’s chambers. She has two homunculi, one kind of cute, sitting on a table. “It’s in your best interests and everyone’s best interests if you just answer her questions.” She whispers to Kit. “They’re not full grown homunculi. It’s the equivalent of using children. I’ve never seen them used this early. They haven’t developed full loyalty to their maker.”

“That’s good. That means we can get them to inform on him, and give them homes where they will be better treated.” Kit turns to the homunculi. “Good morning.”

“Good morning, ma’am.”

“We need to ask you questions about where you used to live and who you used to work for.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“What were you doing when you were called back?”

“He was having us scavenge, like he usually did.” It dumps out its pouch, which contains the deadliest ingredients for the deadliest assassins’ poisons.

“This would have been the last time for a while, but in the summer, he had us going out every week.”

“What did he do with them?”

“Made a liquid in the basement. Don’t know why—he never drank it. There were a couple of alchemists with gardens about three days west of the city as we travel—we don’t need to sleep.”

Kit points them to a map. They indicate a place that Kit would view as six days away on the map.

“Did he ever ask you to do anything else?”

“Spy on people—mostly church officials. Movements of couriers, changes of priests in different parishes, and anything that involved any of the Archbishop’s secretaries.”

“How long have you been doing this?”

“About three years, since we were made. We don’t think it’s morally right—we’ve listened to the priests—but we had to do what he told us. Not because he whipped us, though he did, but just because we had to…”

Kit asks them to provide a list of all the people they’ve spied on.

“What about your boss? Who were his associates, and who was he working for?”

“We only saw the big boss once, and he hid us when he came. But he didn’t tell us to not watch secretly, so we did.”

Kit asks them for permission to put up a mind-link, and gets the image of the thinnest knight she’s ever seen. His armor says he has to be a knight, but he has no color, no anything.

“He was meaner than my boss.”

“What did he talk about? What did he ask your boss?”

“He demanded a lot. Said that the gems weren’t enough, couldn’t summon fast enough. That the new ruler was bound to the land, and that shouldn’t have been permitted. And that they wanted to arrange for the Bishop and Archbishop to go away. He was mean—he made us feel weak, and he made the master feel weak too.”

“Did he say why he wanted them away?”

“He said that the great servant would soon have to leave his home, and that the Archbishop was too watchful. He said the plan would have to be set into motion soon. But he didn’t say where he was.”

“When did he say this?”

“Seven or eight months ago? But then this last time, he sent us away because he knew there wasn’t much left. I think he sent us away because someone else came to give him orders.”

“Did he ever take you where he went to give the liquid and such?”

“He would ride west, to the capital of Westmarch.” They give Kit an image of the building in the capital of Westmarch. She gets an image of a group of people unlike any she’s seen in Canberry. They’re clearly assassins, with guild stuff on them, though she can’t recognize a specific subsection of the guild. The men hand him more of the gem chips that were used for summoning.

“Did they say anything about what their next plans were?”

“No, they didn’t talk at all. They looked at the stuff, and then they pulled the gems out of the wall, gathered up the stuff, and left.”

“Did the boss ever take you to a place that would give you a bad feeling, like when the thin man was around?”

“Oh, that’s easy. The sub-sub-sub-basement of the cathedral. No one ever goes there, but he did. He worked for the cathedral so he could.”

“Did you meet with any priests that gave you that feeling?”

“No. He hated being in the cathedral. He used to mutter about it all the time. But he didn’t hate it when he went down, down, down.”

Kit asks if they need a new boss, and they say they do. Kit agrees to become their boss, giving them a drop of her blood and promising to teach them things.

Dame Constance does the appropriate invocations.

* * *
The ships come back with 4500 uruk women, some pregnant, none with any children. Alistair and Dame Brionna organize some social interventions and getting some people in place to regularize them as Glordiadelian while also being flexible.

The Church agrees to bring in a canon from the Animal Barbarians, since they have similarly lop-sided gender dynamics and will understand how to be flexible.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 124, cont'd]
Alistair and Dame Brionna teleport home and join Kit and Empress Kaitlyn.

Alistair orders Dame Brionna to not leave the palace to prevent her from haring off to investigate the cathedral.

The Grandmaster Farsensor searches beneath the cathedral. The stairs beneath the cathedral are warded against psionics. Some time ago, there was an altar that was demonic or something similar beneath the sub-sub-basements. There are no people there, nothing living there, but it appears that the altar is set up to speak to the abyssal planes. There is no exit, except up to the cathedral, and it’s dozens or a hundred years old, though not part of the original cathedral design. Getting it in has to have been a herculean task. The sub-basement above it has books. Large ledgers, and that sort of thing.

They send some of Kit’s people plus two of Brionna’s regular squads, with the Grandmaster Farsensor accompanying them. The basic report back is that the ledgers are ledgers, and they have been studied recently. Two of them are modern ledgers with different figures from the official documents. The altar is clearly a demonic altar to open a communication to something on the other side. It appears to be set up, based on Grandmaster Farsensor’s conversation with Lady Constance, to communicate with two different demon lords—the Lord of Goats and the Abomination of Shurr. This altar is older than the treasurer. His predecessor must have put it in. He may be the second archdiocesan treasurer to be corrupt.

The Council starts vetting all of the assistants, treasurers, and privy secretaries throughout the entire Empire, starting with people with ties to the old treasurer. They also decide they need to carefully vet the school where they are trained.

They send Lord Davion and a strike force, along with people to dimensionally lock the area. They set up a cordon in advance, and then appear dramatically, to see who flees.

Alistair, Kit, Empress Kaitlyn, and Kaitlyn’s companion, Ingra Rafyelle, begin having regular private dinners. Alistair also elevates Ingra to baronial rank, so she has appropriate status (she was a commoner, a seamstress, before her involvement with Kaitlyn). He also offers to help them have a private family if they wish to.

Grandmaster Farsensor sees the mental image of the higher boss. “He is a Twilight Elf, though he has disguised himself as a human and clipped the top of his ears. It may have looked focused on demons, but a Twilight Elf would not conspire just about demons. The former Noldar lord of Zorplona-Argoni became corrupted by the ancient abominations. We do not know if he corrupted some of his staff, but this indicates that he did.” He says that he could find out if he saw their records, but that he cannot search for him with farsensing—it could cause issues with the Noldar.

He’ll prepare and can do it the next morning. He asked Dame Brionna to have some people watching over him while he searches, for the offchance that the Twilight Elf is a farsensor.

* * *

When Lord Davion and 300 troops head over to the grounds of the scribal school, there is no reaction until he enters the grounds of the school. One figure turns into a bird and flies straight up. A few archers and Lord Davion shoot it with bows, and it turns back to a person and tumbles back to the ground. Three others, all instructors, get rounded up. The Headmaster, a very elderly priest of St. Dillygaff of the Fields, comes out in great confusion.

“Are there any other faculty that aren’t here?”

“My assistant headmaster. He’s in his office.”

“I’ll go to him. Where is his office?”

Lord Davion kicks in the door. “Well, that’s thorough. It appears he put the tip of a fireball wand in his mouth and then fired it. The whole room has some burns and blood smears. None of the students, interestingly.”

One of the students does suggest that he should come back with them as well.

On Dame Brionna’s prompting, he searches the basement. “I am no vintner, but no one should drink this wine. Look through my eyes. Do you see the slight glow over these barrels? The wine has been tainted. It’s very slow, but over time it will twist their minds.” It’s imported wine, from just this side of the border with Hanal—an area the church wanted to support in preparation for the inevitable invasion by Hanal. There are no non-corrupt barrels. They are in nobody’s territory, historically neutral, and the very body of the wine is corrupt.

The Council decides to deploy some church knights and treat this as a matter of unholy corruption. They ask Archbishop Humbert the Holy of Enclaves to dispatch church knights to deal with this.

Lord Davion brings the prisoners and the boy back. They send over some of Brionna’s people, Aunt Cecilia, and Dame Brionna herself. “Well, what do you know. Three entirely corrupt old farts, and a completely innocent boy who doesn’t think he’s innocent because people talked to him. All three of them, fully corrupt, but nothing implanted in them. Just greed, and something odd in the blood, like something they drank. I think they drank a lot.”

“Boy, what did people say?”

“The assistant headmaster was talking to me, both when he was there and when he was not there, always saying the same thing. That there were better ways to serve, that I could serve the Light more fully than I was being taught, and that the Light would bless me and I could go anywhere, but that I couldn’t tell anyone. I was never sure, but the voice was so insistent, and it told me that my brothers and parents had walked away from the Light and that if I went back to serve there after I finished my training, perhaps I could guide them to the light.”

“Who were your family? Nobles, perhaps?”

“Minor nobles, my lady. Youngest son of the Baron of Bonesthrow. I have five older brothers and three older sisters.”

He turns out to have a touch of the gift, but to be clean. His uncle used to be able to figure out what people were thinking—he died suddenly. They send a squad of people to investigate the death, which they presume was a murder.

Aunt Cecilia finds a powdered packet in the shoe of one of the teachers. It was a deadly, fast-acting poison. They also have them interrogated.

Another student, another young noble, reports the assistant headmaster showing him a special light—a beautiful blue flame that he had in a special compartment under the floor.

Lord Davion returns to retrieve it—he didn’t sense it because it was in a lead box. As soon as it’s removed from its box, Grandmaster Farsensor says, “that’s linked. It’s directly linked to the divine planes.”

Alistair reaches out to House Moriquendarim to offer it to them, so they can track it back to where Arthranax is, so they can try to rescue the Prince of the Cities of Pain. They send a voller to pick it up, and they feel they owe Canberry a debt of honor.

The young noble is terrified of servants of the royal house. Apparently, the assistant headmaster convinced him that the royal household was to be feared. He also told him that “the royal household displaced our duke hundreds of years ago, and that when anyone resisted, they just killed him. And they said that the lady’s life was so long because she used dark magic and was probably now undead somewhere. And he said that the Archduke is trying to do what was done to us to the whole continent and become the Emperor of the whole world. And that our house, guided right, could get our duke to get his courage back. But I don’t understand how that could be, because we don’t have a duke anymore.” (This is the third son of Baron of Penhome.) He’s a vassal of Grimcliff, but at one time Mountainmarch was a duchy. They became vassals to Canberry a thousand years ago.
[End Session 124]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 125 (March 17, 2021)

27 Ras
Dame Brionna is approached by a guard. “There’s an odd little woman wandering through the lower city.”

“Odd how?”

“She’s wandering through the market squares, looking at women, and saying ‘You’re not pregnant. You’re not pregnant. You’re not pregnant.’ as she looks at them.”

Dame Brionna orders the guards to pick her up and take her to the nearest shrine of Gunnora, and to send a message to the high priestess/chief midwife of Gunnora to assist.

The midwife-priestess of the shrine says, “Gertrude! I thought you were up north of the mountains.”

“I’m looking for tainted pregnancies. The Ecumenical Council sent me south to look here, after we had matters under control in the city of Enclaves and the surrounding farmlands. Haven’t found any tainted—a few pregnant women, but no signs of taint. Damned demon cultists, and I mean that in every sense of the word.”

They begin reaching out through the midwives of Gunnora, among the nobility (there are a couple of pregnancies among the high nobility and many pregnancies among the petty nobles, especially in the mountain marches), and through the Order of the Stag. For example, the lady of Mount Smalldownbig, a gnomish baron, is pregnant. They also reach out through the old busybodies of the parishes, looking for reports about women who are pregnant, especially ones that rarely or never attend church. They also reach out to any reported sexual assault victims, and among the refugee population. (They realize that Gertrude is a very senior Gunnoran priestess—likely roughly equivalent to a bishop of Enclaves, though of course the Gunnorans would never think of it that way, and slightly junior to the high midwife in Canberry.)



There were three Ram cults in Enclaves. But there were also various women who had become pregnant with demonic congress, who the High Inquisitor was dealing with.

“I meant to speak to your archbishop when he got here, but he seems to be absent somewhere.”

“He’ll be happy to speak with you when he returns.”

“I’m glad that we have a good relationship with the Archduchy, and with the Church of Glordiadel. It’s something good that has come out of the Ecumenical Council.”

“Do you think there are bad things?”

“Well, we were more leery of the involvement of the Paranswarmians and the Morgrothians than most. But it is important that we work together against the problems…”
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[session 125, cont'd]
Dame Brionna begins organizing screening of any baby presents for security purposes—with Empress Kaitlyn’s delivery likely imminent, the presents are already beginning to arrive. Aunt Cecilia and Dame Brionna’s sister take charge of this—one for reasons of security, the other to avoid any issues of courtesy. Aunt Cecilia also reports that she thinks this is at most two or three days out.

Empress Kaitlyn’s family has a history of easy births, although there were tremendously difficult births among the old ruling house—the Overkings of the Southern Kingdom, when Empress Kaitlyn’s family were the monarchs specifically of Stormwatch.

They begin having some conversations about naming and about wet nurses, and Alistair resolves to go speak with Empress Kaitlyn.

The most striking of the gifts is a gift from the Tor—some form of small child, intended to be a fluffy companion. It is an enormously fluffy, three headed puppy. The puppy’s middle head, which is smarter than the others, is thinking loudly about this being the palace where they were sent. <<We are here to protect the babies, love the babies, and if necessary to raise the babies.>>

<<Do you have a name?>>

<<Not yet. The babies will name us.>>

<<That may take a while. Can someone else name you in the meantime?>>

<<For a use name? Sure. The babies will give us our true name, though.>>

Princess Kaitlyn describes another one as tremendously powerful, but dangerous. It was a gift from the Noldar. It’s a talisman of a scout voller—when the command is given, it will grow to full size, like the most awesome feather token ever. It seems to have been selected by Princess Curinirim.

Lord Davion gave a large pile of woven silk diapers.

Nothing has arrived from the Queen of Singing Leaves yet—she probably doesn’t have a grasp on the time scale humans operate on, and unlike Princess Curinirim, she does not maintain a human servant to track times of things happening among humans.

And every noble in Canberry has sent a gift.

Alistair goes to talk with Empress Kaitlyn. Alistair suggests for the son, who is expected to be the elder child, “Emil Elric Duncan Alistair,” with the Alistair simply in case he wishes to use Alistair II as a regnal name. The names are a masculine form of Alistair’s grandmother’s name (Amelia), Kaitlyn’s father’s name, and Alistair’s father’s name. They agree that “Elric” will be his use name, and that they’ll use an imperial and royal princely style, with the traditional title of “Marquis Belconnen,” the title of the Archducal heir-apparent. When he reaches his majority, they will make him Duke of the Duchy of Canberry.

For the daughter, both agree that they should honor Alistair’s mother, a daughter of the Duke of Tusslefield, and her mother. Her mother was named Madison, which is more typically a girl’s name in the South Kingdoms but more frequently a boy’s name here. Still, they decide to use Madison (her mother’s name) Margarite (Alistair’s mother’s name) Amelia, with Princess Amelia as her use name for the political value of linking her to Alistair's grandmother.

They also discuss the fact that the birth will need to be semi-public, with high nobles present.

She plans on primarily nursing the babies herself, but we decide to have two ladies in waiting as wet nurses, one from her court and one from a ducal family of Canberry, after appropriate vetting.

They talk about the situation in the South Kingdoms. She mentions that there were no elves in the South Kingdoms before it fell. There were abandoned fairy tors, and one that was perhaps not abandoned but that everyone avoids without knowing why.

She then waddles out to the baby shower.

Grandmaster Farsensor gives a divine repeating scroll of sleep, powered by the First Daughter.

The dwarven kingdom sent something that Aunt Cecilia laughed at. It’s a pair of perfectly matched, baby-sized war axes.

While all of this is happening, Alistair sneaks off to pursue a secret plan.

Alistair and Kit discuss their child, and name and such. They agree on Lord James (her father’s name) Derrick (his grandfather) FitzAlistair-Lyneham; they discuss a plan for avoiding any succession problems with oaths of loyalty and disclaiming any claim on Canberry or the Empire of Southern Drucien for the House taken repeatedly, first by Kit. Alistair also talks about how he plans on giving their child the status of the eldest son of a duke, ranking with but after the eldest sons of dukes, in the same way that Kit will be a countess with the style of Her Grace and ranking with but after duchesses.

Alistair also discusses how Kit should begin hosting her own social events, especially among people with slightly unofficial connections and awkward status among the nobility—mistresses of nobles, illegitimate daughters of nobles, and the like. She’s concerned that this will be too public, but Alistair discusses using it as a form of hiding in plain sight—the more people think of her only as Alistair’s mistress, and her proximity being because of Alistair’s appetite, the less they think of her as an actual member of the Council and wonder what she does.

Unlike Kaitlyn, Kit is enthusiastic about the idea of a wet-nurse, although somewhat amazed at the idea that she would employ a wet-nurse, when some of her friends used to work as wet-nurses. Alistair says that someone with a bare title as a lady, with no actual noble title but as a lady-in-waiting would be appropriate. They then discuss that she would need to either be dumb as a post, or someone Kit would want to recruit. Kit decides that this will be a step in establishing the Jeweled Necklace, internal security within the palace.

They then check on Kit’s family and find that they have not made it to Canberry. The voller they sent is docked in Glitterdomes, but no crew on board. The farsensor then finds the captain, who is recovering in a hospital. The crew was attacked by cultists of the Ram and badly hurt, but apparently because they were from Canberry without knowing about Kit’s family. The farsensor finds Kit’s family who were fine. They reach out to Humbert the Holy to send their parish priest to tell them that they’ll be picked up by people from Northern Aurelian, who will keep them safe. They also send a message to Northern Aurelian asking them to keep them safe until the Council can arrange to bring them back to Canberry.
[End Session 125]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 126 (March 31, 2021)

28 Ras
Starting just after midnight, Empress Kaitlyn goes into labor. Her labor is straight forward and without any risk, but lasts for 14 hours.

Starting at 2 AM, a gathering of every single fae from the Tor start singing to the new babies from outside. Dame Brionna goes to check.

“The Tor Lord’s Lady says that the baby is coming! We wanted to sing the baby’s birth as we would one of our one.”

Dame Brionna contacts Alistair, who is rather preoccupied with the ongoing labor. She wants to keep them out, but Alistair is worried about offending the fae, so tells her to send them in to the room adjoining the birthing chamber.

The fairy godmothers, a handful of other fae, and a strange multilimbed musical instrument animal comes in. They continue singing, and start supporting Alistair’s singing, alternately inspiring courage and inspiring greatness.

The male child was born first. The fae grandmothers bestow a series of increasing fae blessings on them.

“You are very fortunate. Your line will reign for a long time, and these two are already bound to the land.” The fairy godmothers kiss each child. They then give Kaitlyn a full days sleep, and hurry the rest of the fae out.

Alistair orders that a new flag with the arms of the Empire of Southern Drucien with a label on it be run up, and that fireworks be set off, and the people cheer and begin celebrating.

After an appropriate amount of time with the children, Alistair sneaks off to continue work on his secret project.

Two days pass peacefully.

30 Ras
The Moriquendarim voller arrives to pick up the Blue Star link. A very harried looking drow woman arrives from the Moriquendarim embassy—none of us realized that we had a Moriquendarim embassy, as they didn’t dare present themselves.

Lord Davion points out that it is a merchant voller, though staffed with military. The captain, who is a Noldar but of Moriquendarim, pales as he sees Lord Davion’s crest. Lord Davion announces Alistair and his companions.

“I have been asked to receive from you the Blue Star. Your valor and bravery will be sung in the halls of the Noldar as I am sure they are sung in the hearts of the people.” He then switches to common. “We appreciate your efforts against our common enemy. Only their destruction can preserve our world.” He instructs the Twilight Elf to put the casket in the special vault that was prepared.

“House Ashberry has sworn to see the Blue Star destroyed, for we agree entirely.”

“Do not hesitate to call on the resources of House Moriquendarim in pursuing this goal.” They then depart as fast as possible.

The Council speaks with the ambassador, who represents the Enclave of Moriquendarim-Zorplona. They ask about the Twilight Elves that served Quinliart; she says that Lord Alvinas is the most dangerous, and has taken on characteristics of the eldritch that make him more powerful than he should be. He has taken onto himself a resistance to nearly all forms of magical assault, though partly vulnerable to fire, with complete immunity to lightning, cold, or poison. "And he has increased his psionic potential by consuming the potential of any child that they can capture. This is not unheard of, but it is anathema to my people and worthy of execution, even without the involvement of the eldritch. He also can wield the power of the eldritch to cause mutations, at will, to a victim within sight. Powerful Noldar can sometimes resist, but it is very potent against the younger races. Other than Lord Alvinas, the Hand certainly fell. We do not know if he still lives, but if still alive, he will also have developed more capabilities. A very potent Coercer, and used for assassination." (Lord Alvinas is a Redactor, though Redaction can be twisted. His armor was left behind—possibly deliberately, for it fought him for control.)

Kit suggests that maybe his armor could be used for bait, if it was not deliberately abandoned. The ambassador says that it likely would, but only if it was not deliberate. We suggest asking the armor, and she says they will do so, which should work.

The ambassador shares an image of Lord Alvinas (after realizing that Kit is “mildly” psionic); it is indeed the one leading the problem. She also gives the address of their embassy, in the merchant quarter.

They decide to provide that information to Grandmaster Farsensor, although without details of its provenance.

“So, we know that we are pursuing the right person. If we could only figure out how to isolate him…”

Kit mentions the possibility of luring him in with the armor, if it was left behind accidentally.

“That might work. Or if it believes the armor is susceptible and his enemy. He might wish to destroy it, which is notoriously difficult. He might try to steal it if he does not want to take it—even to sell it would be very valuable, especially if it is laen.”

Kit says they will use many paladins against him.

“All available forces should be deployed against him if you locate him. I take it he is more powerful than a typical Twilight Elf?”

“Yes. He has enhanced his psionics, and is a Redactor, plus his eldritch powers.”

“It should not be done here. He could level a significant portion of the city in extremis.”

“We will choose a spot isolated from people.”

“If the armor is available, I could be ready to lay the trap quite quickly. I am surprised, as that would mean no one of rank took the armor. I think he is the most dangerous figure at large. I believe Quinliart is no longer mobile. I can perceive his signature, though not him directly. It is not moving at all. Even if he were to walk around it would move. Do you know what happened to some of the Eldron?”

“Yes. Is he doing the same?”

“I suspect he is binding himself to the world in some eldritch way. He will likely plan to use it as a gate, and corrupt it. But at some point in the process, as the Eldron do, he will lose the ability to move. You have certainly months. He will need a huge sacrifice, that is certain.”

“So we need to prevent the sacrifice as well.”

“Yes. What I cannot tell you is if the sacrifice is denied him, if the ritual will consume him. They had passed this point the last time before it was noted. This time, the actions are known, but how they play out is not known. I have also noted that the corrupt spots elsewhere have not declined. I have located them all, and they are static.”

“We’ll deal with Lord Alvinas, first, and then Quinliart.”

“That seems wise. Of Lord Alvinas’s four servants, one has been destroyed. There is a powerful lycanthrope—a werewolf turned dire; a summoner of surpassing power for a human, a demonologist; and an assassin, who is in the north but better at concealing themselves. They are also all humans. The one who died was the only elf, and that cost House Moriquendarim to eliminate him. They are also interwoven with the Cult of the Ram to an enormous degree. It may explain the growth of the Cult of the Ram. The Ram has only one interest, but his allies have other interests, and will grant power to the cultists if it helps draw in those who only want power.”

“We know that the other points of corruption are linked, so if one were disrupted all would be. Would Quinliart be affected?”

“No, but if they were still active, when Quinliart finishes his process, he would gain control of all of them.”

“Disrupting Quinliart is the most important, then.”

“Ultimately, yes. None of us want an additional Shadowland situation. Once Quinliart is taken care of, we need to address the fact that at some point, the Hastur will be no more. If you eliminate Lord Alvinas, it will slow or stop what Quinliart is doing. He needs Lord Alvinas.”

Alistair tells Lord Davion that if we can locate Lord Alvinas, he will need to lead the assault. In the meantime, they need him to rest and heal and get ready. He agrees, and asks if they expect it to be soon.

“We do expect it to be soon, but in the way that House Moriquendarim reckons soon, not in the way humans do.”

He trots off to put himself in skin to heal.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 126, cont'd]
They plan a public day of celebration for the twins’ baptism on the eighth day. The baptism will be at noon, with the morning as a time of rest, and the afternoon a celebration and public festival. (Dame Brionna believes that the morning should be a time of prayer, and sets up all of the bells in all the churches to ring starting at dawn, and morning services in all the churches.)

1 Ke-Ras
A halfling messenger from Rolling Hills arrives, having ridden hard. He says he will only deliver his message to the Emperor. Dame Brionna goes to scrutinize him with young Lord Brightspan, who tells her that he is nervous but fine. “His Highness the Duke of Rolling Hills, Lord of the Broad Fields, has gone into the Light. His heart failed. The Lady Duchess is beside herself with grief.”

The Minister of War, Lord Broad Fields, and Canberry's chief field marshal, is his son and heir. The Council sends for him, puts on mourning, and calls him to a throne room.

“Dearest cousin, Your Grace the Duke of Rolling Hills, I bear terrible tidings.”

“He has passed, then. I knew his health was failing.”

They discuss the mourning, and his need to go home. Alistair suggests that if he is willing, he would suggest that the Duke might continue as Minister of War, leaving the Dowager Duchess to administer in his place, but the crown would of course release him if he wishes. He would prefer to continue serving, but it depends on how his mother is doing. He muses about renouncing the title, but Alistair commands him to not do that, because there is a clear succession and they will not destabilize matters for imperial service.

They also discuss Hanal; he expresses that there will be mass starvation among the peasantry in the areas controlled by the usurper. He mentions that it would be enormously valuable if the voller works could be captured, now that their voller fleet is depleted, but that would require Canberry to commit forces directly. The Council asks whether the Archbarony of Ecsilias has substantial forces; they have six elite field armies. They suggest asking the Inquisitor General to ask the Archbarony of Ecsilias to attack the voller works, with Canberry offering to guarantee Ecsilias's protection. He thinks that might work.

The new Duke of Rolling Hills has three daughters, 10, 6, and 1. The Council offers young Lady Broadfields a position as an archducal page after the mourning, which he supports. He also apparently has a poor relationship with his wife, who wanted him to stop serving and come home. But he is far too devout to take on a companion, and there are no rumors about their children’s parentage. We are concerned about how his wife will respond to her daughter coming to court.

They contact the Inquisitor General psionically. He approves of the plan thoroughly. They also discuss using vollers to drop food to the villages behind the usurper’s lines, where otherwise there will be mass starvation. They also decide to reach out to the elves.

They contact the Queen of Singing Leaves, explain the situation, and she immediately declares that they will send their vollers to deliver lembas and similar light food that can sustain greatly. The Council also agree to prevent any contact with the Aufaulgautharim man of war.

4 Ke-Ras
The day of the baptism arrives. The whole empire is awakened at dawn by all of the ringing bells.

The Archbishop is dressed in his most elegant finery as he officiates at the cathedral. Dame Brionna is there with a host of paladins, expecting trouble. Kit remains safely within the wards of the palace. The Prince is baptized and dipped four times, and then the Princess, and then mass cheering breaks out outside the cathedral. As the ceremony ends, palace staff begin laying out the enormous banquet tables of free food.

After the ceremony, Alistair announces that he has a gift to the Prince and in honor of the Empress, and the choruses and orchestras begin to play the piece that he has been secretly working on for the last week and a half. (Hey, sometimes it’s good to be a high level bard.)

The piece is in several movements. It begins in the musical style of the South Kingdoms, with the themes of patriotic songs of the old monarchies used as the basis. It's also in an old mode, so it sounds slightly odd and old-fashioned to modern ears.

The next movement is discordant and represents the fall of the South Kingdoms.

The third movement represents Princess Kaitlyn's actions and defense of the South Kingdoms after the fall.

The fourth and final movement has a combination of Glordiadelian church music themes, complete with choir and organ music, and then becomes a counterpoint between patriotic music of the South Kingdoms and an Archducal theme, representing the merger of the families and the bright and Glordiadelian future--so it does things like repeating themes from the first movement but shifting them from other modes to a major key.

Alistair then commands that it be played throughout the South Kingdoms.

They then ride through the whole city, in an open carriage (but within a spherical wall of force), while footmen throw handfuls of silver into the crowd.

Everything looks as they expect (although there’s strange graffiti of a giant mouse chasing after a humanoid cheese). Except for occasional slow downs because of the press of the crowd, the tour is uneventful. They eventually make it back to the palace hours later.

The Emperor and Empress also declare various promotions, honors, and noble titles, including Lord Brightspan receiving an earldom in the old South Kingdoms.
[End Session 126]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 127 (April 14, 2021)

5 Ke-Ras
Kit suggests, when told about the upcoming Greater Festivals of Mists, that they do divinations to find out what their enemies are planning.

They’re waiting to hear back from the Moriquendarim about Lord Alvinas’s armor.

They also discuss the resettling of Kit’s family when they arrive.

They also receive a letter from the Emperor of the Isles in the North [attached]. It refers to Alistair as “Lord of the Fifth Gate.” This is an archaic title, referring to a time when the Pachek and Chullik gate was located in Canberry in Furthings. The Fifth Gate closed centuries ago, when the Sixth Gate opened in the Valley of the Unknown in the Perimeter Mountains.

The First Gate was in the Southern Confederacy; the Second Gate was in the Spice Lands (that’s where the rakshasa and rakastas came from). The Third was in what used to be the tribal lands; those weren’t peaceful, unlike the rest. There’s a remnant of them; they were immediately attacked. They resemble humanoid crustaceans and were attacked immediately, and settled in the Ul-Rennki Domains. Fourth Gate's location was unknown. The Fifth Gate mostly released humans, who were very fecund. There are significant populations of them, mostly in Furthings and around the mines.

The Gates have each lasted for a longer time. The current Sixth Gate has been open for more than a century; from the pattern, it may be closing (and presumably moving farther north on Drucien) soon. They ask the Ministry of Magic to try to figure out whether there is a mathematical or arcane pattern in the times and places.

Dame Brionna speaks to the Mistress of Protocol about the family of Julius Thrace, the Emperor of the North. He is a “nice young man,” the oldest of nine brothers and sisters. His parents were tragically killed when their flagship was sunk by Hanalian voller when he was 13. He has just come to power at 16, after a regency by his aunt. Principal exports are whale oil, blubber, furs, and exceedingly fine wool. He would surely be interested in fostering some of his younger siblings and cousins; his aunt and uncle-in-law have five as well. It is said that a certain number of them have tremendous martial abilities. His father did, though no rumors of such about Julius. Good people; many Glordiadelian paladins come from the Empire of the North. Some priests, many warriors—they have been fighting Hanal for centuries, and are largely the reason that the cities on the north coast remain at least somewhat free, because the Empire raids Hanal by sea regularly, and thus it is advantageous for Hanal to maintain them as client states instead of incorporating them directly.

Dame Brionna also talks about the Duke of Rolling Hills’s death; the Mistress of Protocol asks who will lead the delegation (Dame Brionna says Princess Cecilia and Sir Derrick Brightspan), and whether they had sent the traditional 13 black roses. They had not, so Dame Brionna asks her to attend to it. Also, Princess Cecilia should have an appropriate escort, presumably an older general.

“There is some tension between the new duke and his wife?”

“There certainly is, and they are both justified, which makes matters worse.”

“Will it make matters worse if he remains Minister of War?”

“No; she will expect it, though she may be disappointed.”

Julius Thrace is not yet betrothed; the Mistress of Protocol mentions that the last four generations of the family has married out of the same house of the Cities of Light, their royal house. At this point, they are basically the same royal house, though the crowns have never merged. They seem to be immune to the problems most of the other royal houses have.

They then ask Dame Constance, Grandmaster Farsensor, and one of Dame Brionna’s teams to examine the demon corpse the Empire of the North sent us, which they hypothesize is eldritch. Almost immediately after the chest is opened, Grandmaster Farsensor sends a message directly to Kit.
[cont'd]
 

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