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

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 98 cont'd]
Dame Brionna got a message more or less from the Skaven in the Southern Kingdoms. [See attached.] They’re using a lot of intermediaries to deny responsibility. They want Canberry to know that Clan Skrutan which is a medium size warlord clan is planning on sending several thousand troops to attack the festivities of the Queen and the Archduke.

This is probably intended to attack around the birth of the children.

They have a device that conceals their nests. The Council discusses that with Grandmaster Farsensor.

“There are clearly areas in which my vision is turned away. I can see where they are, but I can’t see into them. There is a shallow nest of caves—I don’t think they’re connected to the Underdark."

The Council talks directly to Clan Skree of the skaven. They assume that humans have roughly similar gestation periods as in their homeland—about 30-40 days. Their days were about 10% longer. Skaven gestation period is about 20 days, with litters of 6-10. The only long gestation period were of the elves, who were terrible and hated and feared—more like Noldar than elves.

The Council comes up with a plan to collapse the tunnel; wait for food to get scarce; then offer them food if they revolt, with troops to maintain order and back them up. We deploy two field armies of cavalry, and one of light infantry to execute the plan.-

They are told that offering food to revolt and switch sides is common among warlord clans, and should work. Among the great clans, it would not work--they have more internal loyalty. There are 4 great clans—Skree, Eshen, Postulus, and one other; Mordh will join those 4 soon, and then the Council of 4 will be the Council of 5.

The Skree also say that if Canberry defeats the warlord clan and the great clans make reprisals against the warlord clan for drawing Canberry's ire, Canberry would be entitled to the warlord clan's “breeders”; the Council agrees that those need to be freed of course.

A few days later:
They get a recommendation back from the ankle to promote the knee to the spine, and to start reconstructing the networks in Hanal.

They get a messenger back from the Church of Paranswarm. Word has been spent discretely to priests who are know to be loyal in the city (the hierarchs in the city are corrupt), and the priests who are loyal will deal.
[End session 98]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 99 (April 18, 2019)

12 Ghast [roughly a month of game time after the last game, to allow the army to move into position and food to get a little scarce among the Skaven.]
The fated day arrives. The army collapses the tunnel easily. They probably don’t even realize that the tunnel collapse was deliberate. There are clear, organized, much more disciplined maneuvers south of the Skaven borderlands. It’s probably Clan Skree, because they are led by a fair number of piebald skaven, who are mostly sorcerers.

The Council is monitoring via human Farsensors. Some skirmishes break out with the early scouts from each side. The Canberry army makes the offer to the Skaven to defect in exchange for food.

A group of very large (roughly 6 foot skaven), more than a handful but less than a dozen, with a group of magically concealed skaven, travel off very rapidly.

Then fighting breaks out within the skaven. After a while, a group of ugly skaven heads are hoisted aloft on poles. Then a group of skaven very cautiously and timidly approach. They lay down a particularly vile skaven head. They seem poorly fed.

The army then starts offering them food, organizing them into a refugee camp, check on the welfare of children and the like, and then send in clerics to both care for them, help with organization, and proselytize for the unusual coalition of Glor’diadel, Manumist, and Gunnora.

An elderly skaven with writing comes and offers his surrender. He explains that he was a clerk. "The warlord is dead. The great assassins fled—their weapons are here, but we are not of their blood. We touch their weapons, we die."

The Council asks the officer to ask whether the assassins were of this clan.

The clerk shakes his head violently. "No. Renegades. They reject the pact. The warlord heard them. Some other warlords hear them. When the Council finds them, they die. The Council says no dissent. Only if all the clans rose against the Council, no more Council. But Council says peace. Council keeps Skaven safe. Skaven follow Council."

The army informs them that they are now of the Southern Kingdom, and follow Queen Caitlyn, and her consort. They are surprised that they won’t be killed.

All of Skree backs the Council. Most of Eshen. Half of Moldar. Almost none of Pestulon—they fear the Council brings extinction for their kind.

The lead Skree were in robes. They had Eshen weapons, but they did not have Eshen symbols, and did not worship the Horned Rat in Eshen ways. The stormvermin (their guards) were clanless; they had no brands.

It was a tremendously bloody battle; they tore apart the stormvermin, but they suffered six to one losses in the process. There’s a side cave that’s better maintained, where there’s a pulsing green warpstone. It can be contained in gold or lead, but it’s completely foreign to this plane. The Council doesn’t have any way to deal with it permanently except orichalcum. They carried four warp pistols, and 200 pellets for them. They intended to sneak into the festivities, relying on the fact that there is a masquerade. The pellets were for the great lord and lady, and then they planned on attacking the festival.

200 pellets is worth a huge amount in the Skaven society. That means that they raided an Eshen armory, which means they had inside help. (Eshen use them for high priority targets, but rarely.) Skree use it for magical purposes. Pestulon uses it to generate plague.

They discuss trading this back to Clan Skree, but there’s a lot of concern about how it could be misused. There’s far too much for them to dispose of by orichalcum.

(The Council discusses that they should distribute orichalcum jewelry to the nobles of Canberry and the Southern Kingdoms, and to Caitlyn’s court (e.g. Many Hands).)

Queen Caitlyn has a handy lead coffer, so the army uses mage hand to put all the pellets in the lead coffer. The mage hands move all the pellets in—although not without some corruption to the mage hands—and then seal them up. In a days time, it will be safe to go in and get the guns.

they’ll need to wait a day to get the guns. All of their things must be burned, and the clerk knows the correct precautions to take.

The army takes the scribe's notes. They then set him up as the leader of the Skaven society.

A couple of hours later, one of the priests approaches the psions monitoring.

“Your grace. Honored members of the council. We need simple things in great quantities that we have in small numbers. We need powders for the parasites of the skin, we need worming pills, we need soap. And Princess Caitlyn’s people have barely enough for themselves.”

The Council plans on sending down three of our vollers with supplies.

The Council also tells the dog that is their representative from the Skree that they need to present claims to the Council. This pleases him greatly. “The Council will be delighted to hear you. I will send word.”

Next day
They get the supplies list from the field army’s principal scribe. He also tells us that the Skaven’s notes were a meticulously kept record of that entire warlord clans entire interactions since they came to this plane, including births, deaths, maneuvering of warlord, records of his consorts—the most detailed record they have seen of any Skaven. They gave him a blank book so he can keep records still. "He’s a funny one though—doesn’t grovel like most of them do."

They send a standard team (mage, psion, priest of Glordiadel, and a paladin) to verify him. The Skaven scribe has an ivory furcolor, which prevented him from being a mage. They ask the mage to try to teach the scribe basic cantrips.

On the third day, he reports in that he can draw the symbols perfectly, he can make them in the correct ways, he can mix the ingredients flawlessly, nothing happens. He was sad when it did not work.

The Council speaks to the Minister of Magic and Dame Constance. The Minister finds this exceedingly strange—wizardry is not supposed to be a matter of gift. Dame Constance studies him and finds that he is blocked, and it is a powerful block. She might be able to remove it, but it is powerful enough that he might die.

He is tremendously excited. He is more than willing to take a chance, because he is old (22 winters). He has memories of when his fur turned, and then the ivory or piebald skaven “tried to cure him” and actually placed the block on him. He has no family, because he’s viewed as impure. The Council expects him to be able to have a family now, and they tell him this—he’s excited about this, but still wants the block removed. They discuss this, and they swear him to fealty.

Dame Constance goes outside of the wards with Dame Brionna. She summons two devils that will be freed of her if they perform a work together. She asks them to remove the block without killing him.

An energy globe forms around him, and there’s a miasma of shooting lightning around him.

In the throne room, through the psionic connection, they see two pit fiends appear, and he goes rigid. A blackish green ephemeral rat figure emerges from him. There’s magical combat which continues for about 4 minutes. There’s a moaning shriek, and the figure of greenish-black smoke bursts apart, and the globe dissipates/one of the pit fiends picks up the other which is unconscious, and disappears in a flash of light.

The skaven folds to the ground, but he appears to be breathing. The ring on Dame Constance’s finger bursts apart. “I’m all right. As one gets closer to the end, one might as well expend one’s resources.”

Dame Brionna asks what would happen if Dame Constance were to die unexpectedly. They would remain bound in their devices.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 99, cont'd]
The Archducal Council also examine the vollers that we were given by Hanal. The dreadnought is a snazzy thing, but the others are shoddier—they’ll fly and they’re combat worthy, but they’re dangerous. But that’s also Hanal’s reputation in general; they make up for lower quality with more numbers. They also ask Princess Anastasia to examine it. She reports that the others are standard, but the dreadnought is not Hanalian; it was likely from the Inquisitorial forces; possibly decommissioned. They have a reputation for not going down easily. Their specialty is bombards. The mages have to work hard to make the powder of compressed magic that powers the bombards. Kit and Dame Brionna also examine the powder room. It’s full of chests—they may never have discovered this. It has 48 charges. It still has Inquisition seals on the chests. The Inquisitor General of Northern Drucien was found to be a traitor and was put to death. This was his ship. He must not have been able to fly it because of the scope of the holy presence. There’s another room that we ought to check—the bilge. It was an Inquisitorial vessel. Kit withdraws, and Dame Constance sends a junior diabolist. We also start measuring every room to make sure that we have every space found. There were nine of these originally, but they had slightly different designs each.

They open the bilge, prepared for undead. There is a stair down, but a horrific howling echoes up. “Yep, that’s undead,” says Anastasia’s voller advisor. A group of shadows surge up from under the deck—actually wraiths. The priest turns and the wraiths dissipate. Those were probably the remains of prisoners who were here when he turned. And in fact there were chained skeletons along one wall.

The priest is examining the chamber. This is tightly sealed; every possible entrance is sealed. It will restrain undead almost indefinitely, and its proof against teleportation except by the most mighty. It’s warded against scrying except by the most powerful; ordinary psions or mages scrying will not realize that it isn’t solid.

Grandmaster Farsensor guides Dame Brionna to a hidden area in the captain’s quarter, where there is an enormous sense of chaos. There’s something in there. It’s a small knot of pure chaos. It doesn’t have a physical form; it’s contained by the magical wards of the chamber. It has evil as well, although the chaos was more obvious. Grandmaster Farsensor comes to join Dame Brionna. "It will be safe for me. I have something that I think can destroy it safely." He draws out a phial of pure glowing light. It’s the essence of when the Creator made the universe. "I believe it will destroy and cancel the chaos. I believe that the chaos is a talisman of the One of the Pale Bone. It would corrupt any human exposed to it for a while. I think it was what corrupted the Inquisitor General."

He extends the phial in, and is flung across the room. The whole room becomes completely silent, as if all the sound was sucked out of the room. “Well. It winded me, and the phial protected us from the worst of it. I did not know that a human could construct a containment chamber that good. It will contain almost anything. This couldn’t have been created by a pure blood human. This chamber is lined in a thin layer of aeog.” Humans can work high glass, a few vidridur, and a very few with small quantities of laen. Only the Eldar, Noldar, and Eldron can work aeog.

The next hidden spot has a number of books and a small casket. “Oh, look at that. An original copy of the Scriptures of Darkness. And a listing of everyone he put to death before he became a heretic. And the more valuable jewelry of the people who he put to death.”

(They also ask the Mistress of the Bedchamber and the Gunnoran chief midwife to see if they can nudge Grandmaster Farsensor’s special friend into conceiving, despite her age and his Eldar status.)

They nudge again about an audience with the Overqueen; she is made to understand the urgency of wanting it to happen before the children come to term.

The women and children of the Skaven clan are delivered by the Council. (The adult males in the clan still in the Council lands were put to death.) The Archducal Council also makes sure the Skaven Council knows of the Eshen theft. The Eshen, Skree, and Moldar leadership all are thankful and wish to support the Empire in routing out the problem.

The Archducal Council notifies Princess Curinirim about the Aeog chamber, and she reports that one of the two high glass master smiths produced 13 Aeog chambers for the Paranswarmian. They were ordered by the Archduchess when she became Protector and Defender of the Faith. They were intended to contain artifacts of the greatest level of danger until they could be destroyed. But a talisman of one of the Pariah was not something it was intended for, and would leak; there are runes that could stop that, but they weren’t used.
[End session 99]
 
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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 100 (April 25, 2019)

25 Ghast
The Duke of Brightspan sends an oral message that he is sending a tithe of cattle in addition to the ordinary grain shipment, and that it is substantial—some 10,000 head. He has insufficient herders for them to survive the winter, so the alternative was to slaughter.

The Council makes plans to redistribute them to refugee camps, and after they calve, to move some of the calves down to the south by vollers.

They also plan on scanning the cattle to make sure they’re not contaminated by demons or something like that; mostly this is concern about the Order of the Ram.

This has to indicate massive depopulation in the Duchy of Brightspan, which was close enough to the flow of the army.

After that’s planned for, everything goes smoothly until the Council of Southern Drucien.

30 Ghast
They invited all of the rulers of realms of humans or other younger people, including the rakasta lords of the Spice Lands, located south of the Barrier Mountains to attend the Council. They also invited the Drow to send an observer, and they did, from House Aleval. The Elves send a Star Priestess, who arrives.

The Holder of Two attends himself, having left the Mountains of the Mages to attend. He is a decrepit looking old human, but with parts of him replaced with metal parts. He has a strange staff worked in laen and high glass, clearly not of human make.

They begin with private meetings with all the various guests, before the formal council.

A man in a strange, all black metal costumes, clearly Paranswarmian, approaches Dame Brionna. “I wish to bring word personally on behalf of the Inquisitor General of Northern Drucien. The freeing of Hanal has stalled completely. The size of the military forces held by the usurper is too large; we will not be able to make any advances until spring. We can protect the coastal cities that are loyal to the Church, and we can protect the areas we have taken, but we cannot take the rebellious areas without waiting until spring and bringing in more temple troops from Khamista.”

“What is the overall prognosis?”

“Two to three years. To go faster, we would need to bring in troops from Masque. They are loyal, but they are so hated in Hanal that they would turn the common folk against us.”

They need assistance delivering significant supplies to a Kov who is cut off and who they need to supply by air; the Council offers to provide assistance (planning on using our map to avoid the Hanalian air navy), which the Church offers to pay for.

“Why do the people of Hanal hate Masque?”

“During the reign of the late God-Emperor, a large mercenary force from Masque worked for a Kov, and they engaged in an enormous rampage. That’s still in living memory, and they are mostly remembered as masked raiders raping women and murdering children throughout the country—though in reality it was confined to one Kovate.”

“Have you looked for support from Enclaves?”

“Yes, but there’s something odd going on in Enclaves. There’s a developing miasma. Our clergy have felt it, and an ally of ours is aware of it as well. It’s a sense of tension, as if from a chaotic spirit, but we can’t find any such spirit. Things are destabilizing that have remained stable for a thousand years, at least for as long as our diocese has been part of Enclaves. Some of the Enclaves are arming themselves; we’re considering deploying regiments of troops to defend the Cathedral.”

Dame Brionna advises against actions that may escalate tensions.

Alistair speculates that convincing Balansar to take up residence might be capable of restabilizing. The Council reaches out to their clergy through the Archbishop.

The other private meetings are uneventful.

The One of Ones, who is an extremely elderly One of the Threes, is almost translucent in true sight. He is likely just about to pass.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 100, cont'd]
Alistair gives a welcoming speech, highlighting the threats faced by Southern Drucien.

Almost as soon as Alistair stops, a Rakshasa lord from the Spice Lands rises. He gives a speech about how Canberry was the only nation that stood to protect the Spice Lands. He suggests that the Council of Southern Drucien need to invest our lawful authority in an overlord or lady who will guide and lead, an emperor in name, but not a despot.

As if they had practiced this, the One of Ones of Tang calls out “Hear, Hear. And as my feline friend said, the only nation that could do this is Canberry. I offer the support of all of the Threes to this plan of my honored colleagues of the Spice Lands.”

The Seachen leader is leaning over to Caitlyn in a whisper. Slowly, the matriarch stands. “I am informed by Queen Caitlyn of the new South Kingdoms that she and her husband rule in name both the South Kingdoms and Canberry. We are reluctant to accept the leadership of a male, but I will respect her word that he is not a normal male. And I pledge 4 legions, and a 5% tax, provided that we will not disturb the internal workings of any kingdom.”

The Council has some back and forth; confirming that we will recognize internal workings, but need to have the power to deal with threats to the Empire—worship of faiths proscribed by the Ecumenical Council, treachery or plotting against the Empire, etc.

The Matriarch of Seachen insists that the Council establish that an Empress would have equal power as an Emperor. Alistair confirms that that would be true, and is consistent with the ancient house law of Canberry.

The Holder of Two pledges fealty (as far as the Council can tell, at least) through largely incomprehensible metaphor.

The representative of Gates offers a halved toll, to any who carry the seal of the Emperor. (Gates is also having lots of internal problems; it’s unclear the Lord of Gates will prevail against the corrupt rising against him.) Alistair recognizes Gates as beyond the Empire but friendly.

Kit finds with a quick detect thoughts that there are (a) a fair amount of relief; (b) some concern about what taxes the empire will lay; (c) a few who are trying to figure out how much they can cut back on their own military expenditures; (d) the Rakshasa want to have a representative in the grand imperial council.

The gnomes are very excited; new gnomish markets, new experiments, and SAFE ROADS.

They discuss the coronation and the acclamation.

The One of the Threes says, "I wish in my arrogance to be the One of the Threes who offers homage and allegiance, and I fear that I may be unavailable if we wait."

They all process to the Cathedral. They also quickly reach out to all the Dukes and all of Alistair’s siblings to attend. All the Dukes attend; most of Alistair’s siblings arrive. And one unexpected guest: the Queen of Singing Leaves. The various fey and elves are in one balcony. The Drow are in the other balcony, far away.

Midway through, Princess Curinirim occupies yet a third balcony.

The ceremony ends. And then there’s a flutter of minds touching the Imperial Council's minds, starting with Princess Curinirim, congratulating them. Singing Leaves approves--"there could be no greater protector to guide Drucien through these times of trials and the times of our departure."

They dance with the fey; the fey say they will find the best faerie godmother.

After the ceremonies, the fey tell the Council that two of the southern tors were completely wiped out. But there was evidence that some of the fey were taken. The fey fear that they are being tortured. They have no means to locate the males, but they should be able to locate the females. Through their birthlines; there are members of their lineages who have gone to other tors, including the one near Canberry. The fey do not have the force to retrieve them. They fear the kidnapped fey are on the island. The Council promises to endeavor to put together a retrieval team.

[End session 100. This was a highly momentous session, when we went from playing the leaders of an Archduchy to the leaders of a vast empire (albeit with limited authority over the non-Archducal vassals); it coincidentally was the hundredth session of the campaign, though I'm pretty sure we didn't realize it at the time.]
 

Quartz

Hero
I see mention of laen. I may have already asked this but do you use any of Iron Crown's other invented materials like kregora, shaalk, arinyark, etc?
 

CPaladin

Explorer
I see mention of laen. I may have already asked this but do you use any of Iron Crown's other invented materials like kregora, shaalk, arinyark, etc?
None of those sound familiar, so if they are, they're not a big deal. Laen is part of a progression of glasses--I think it goes highglass, vitritur, laen, aeog, in terms of power/effectiveness. They sorta fill the exotic materials for psionics progression that something like steel, mithril, adamantium would for magic enchantability. But it does not surprise me that laen is cribbed from Iron Crown--the DM definitely has a borrow widely and liberally approach to world building.
 


CPaladin

Explorer
Session 101 (May 16, 2019)

1 Chund
Tap on the door. There’s a messenger here, entirely in shades of red, for His Imperial Majesty.

He performs a profoundly complex salutation in the manner of Hanal.

“Your Majesty, the Strom that has been left by the Kov of Snatterkaz to watch the island, has left me as the captain of one of the scout vollers; a significant group has broken away from the main body of the island and headed north. They are not terribly worthy, but there are many small boats, and we do not believe that the material of the boat is from this plane, and we do not know what it does. It is his desire to open fire on the boats, but we thought we should inform you and ask your pleasure as it is closer to your lands. If we leave them alone, they will land somewhere on the east coast, and the boats cause corruption around them, but it cannot spread through the ocean. There are perhaps 50 small boats.”

The Kov of Snatterkaz has allowed the red to resume their ancestral colors; they must have known for generations, but the Kovs have tolerated that. The red are more loyal to life itself than to status and hierarchy; they are also devotees of the Light not of the Darkness. They were suppressed because of their opposition to slavery.

The Council concludes they should discuss the boats with Princess Curinirim since she’ll likely know about the material issues.

A human psion reaches out to her.

“50 small boats, so likely 500 then.”

“The waters here, prevent the taint from sinking through the water, but if we sink the boats, anything that consumes the fragments will become tainted. Disintegration is your best bet. Wood or metal?”

“A very light metal, we believe.”

“For the good of the world and our hopes of its survival, I will open the Third Chamber to you. I will send suitable materials; they should be handled with care. A human voller will suffice to mount it. It will disintegrate the boats it strikes. What sorts of creatures are on the boats?"

“There are a significant number of creatures that look like illithidae, but are clearly not, and a large number of war beasts that look like crosses between owlbears and dogs; and a number of bald demons, with skin the color of slate.”

“That’s encouraging. They haven’t sent even a middling member of their hierarchy. They either haven’t manifested them, or this is a feint.

"The war beasts are only dangerous up close, but they do hellacious damage if they close—they tear through armor like paper. Some of the others have a dangerous toxic attack, out to perhaps 120’.

“I am transferring 2 disintegration cannons, and enough material for 80 shots.”

They are vulnerable to salt.

We plan on preparing a landing site, where there’s a sandbar followed by an area of salt water or salty water/sand mix, lots of archers.

A shadowelf brigadier arrives, with two groups of six drow artillerists. The Council has them placed on the two best vollers, and have the rest of the vollers ferry archers, engineers, and other ground troops to reinforce the landing site. The plan is to engage them at the right time to drive them to the prepared landing sites.

Several days pass while this is put in position and planned. The ground troops get in position, and are reinforced by some locals. The plan mostly succeeds.

The moment they come under fire, and realize that the ships are disintegrating when hit, they scatter and head into shore. The trap we set slows them, and kills some of them. Those that reach the shore, however, despite a great deal of archery, a handful of beasts get through and wreak a hellacious toll. About 200 of them make it through the trap, and we lose about 350 people with another several hundred injured.

On the 7th, a report from the psion onboard reports to Dame Brionna—"yes, we could handle those cannons, but our best psions couldn’t handle more than 5 or 6 shots." They have 28 charges left. The Shadowelf brigadier offers to leave the humans the weapons. "I was concerned when I first saw those vollers, but her highness said they would fly, and they did."

(Clarence Strawberry rolls 4 checks with a +11 each; his results are a 30, a 31, a 19, and a 30, extraordinary rolls. En route to Lyneham, we’re briefed.

"A very small submersible vessel made its way north while the Hanalians were distracted. They made land fall at the north edge of the Southern Confederations and disgorged four humanoids, like the bald humans who were with the flotilla. We were not able to track them.”

The Council sends some psions to capture the submersible, and see if they can use psychometry to track them. This sounds like technology of the old South Kingdom, scavenged by them. The Council also presumes that they might be Seen-unseen, masquerading as more minor servitors.)
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 101, cont'd]
Kit has a planned visit to Lyneham to attend to her duties as the baroness, so they prepare for the trip. Kit invites the Grandmaster Farsensor (and his special friend), her “personal engineer” (The Princess Anastasia), “Sir Alistair,” Dame Brionna, and Mommy Cupcakes (in her capacity as Kit’s midwife) along to Lyneham.

In planning, they discuss also whether there’s a tor nearby; there is a local satyr colony. (Kit as the Lady of Lyneham declares the Satyrwoods off-limits to Alistair, lest he get any ideas from them.) They also are known for making musical instruments, and they make wood bark that can be used as armor.

Kit and her entourage take a voller to the outskirts, and then ride in by horse.

The people have decorated the village—there are thin streamers of cloth, and some brightly colored things hung on them, and Lynehamean flags, and her personal standard flying at the small castle. The entire village has turned out, as well as the farmers and woodsmen from the area. There is a new mill, a new inn. Kit waves and smiles and tries not to look terrified. The town priest blesses her.

“People of Lyneham—I return to you gratefully as your lady. I will try hard to serve you well. I declare this to be a festival for as long as I and my entourage are here.”

Her steward rushes out. “Everything has been made ready, my lady. Fresh rushes have been laid in all the bedrooms, and all has been prepared.”

He expresses gratitude.

Kit tries to figure out what she needs to do. She’s told that she needs to have a formal court, and also make herself available to resolve disputes, not necessarily at the same time.

She invites the village priest to dinner the night before the court. He reports that she has become famous, and business follows fame. Several knights have moved into the area and sworn allegiance to her. One of them was in the village—he’s older. The other one was on a quest off to the northwest, apparently seeking an organ pipe(??). His wife is a bit of a mystic, reads strange books, but she’s faithful to the church. The priest teaches some of the children of the village, but he’s not much of a scholar.

About the open court: the priest says that Goody Patrice might be down. She thinks her daughter-in-law is a cozen, and doesn’t think her grandchild is her grandchild. Her son seems happy enough, and accepts that the child is his. Other issues that Kit is warned might come up at open court are that she might be asked to perform a wedding; there has been substantial increase in trade, which most people are happy about, but the innkeeper has been upset about increased competition, though food at the inn is greatly improved with less food poisoning and less geese. There is also a pending dispute among the farmers--one of them had a bull that came up lame, and blames the other because of a rivalry in the dairy business.

Mommy Cupcakes introduces her to an elderly lady, Willenda, the local wise woman/priestess of Gunnora. Willenda tells Kit that Goody Patrice is probably factually correct, because her son is mostly unable to father a child—he had come to her for help. But the boy is happy, the girl is happy, he accepts the child, there’s no ongoing relationship—but Goody Patrice will ruin everyone if she is allowed to.

With regards to the bull—it was lamed deliberately, by a knife blade. It was likely intended to start a feud, but possibly a frame-up. The cheesemaker goes out to collect milk once every third day, and noticed the injury when he went to that farmer's barn to get the cows' milk. The cheesemaker said that the injury was from a stab wound with an approximately 6-inch, triangular blade.

Kit decides to speak with the blacksmith about the blade.

[End session 101]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 102 (May 30, 2019)

11 Chund
Kit summons the village blacksmith to ask him about triangular knives.

He is a wizened, middle-aged but hard aged by life man.

Kit asks him about the blade.

“That’s a killing weapon, you’re talking about. I don’t make that. I haven’t seen a blade like that, except on one of the knightsman, since the war… There was a war that swept through north of us, a whole bunch of goblins, a whole bunch of militia, a good five years ago. And some of the young men who went north had a blade like that. I could tell you who went and came back.” He lists 4 men, none the names of either of the men in the dispute. "We don’t have a weaponsmith, but there might be one soon with all the increase in custom."

Kit asks, "Do any of the ones who went north stand out? Perhaps an outsider, or someone who has had a bad attitude since returning from the war?"

"One of them moved to town 9 years ago; he keeps to himself. No friends, no spouse, just stays in his farm with his sheep and goats. He has many fine rams. He does most of his business in the town to the east of here—Dalam Vail, a good four times the size of the village. He’s had several gals over from Dalam Vail."

Alistair wonders whether the rams might be a signifier.

Kit thanks the smith, calls back the midwife.

He’s originally from Hanal—she thinks he’s some sort of deserter. "He goes off with his goats to the east, and he comes back with—" whispered as if a scandal-- “prostitutes.

"At least one got pregnant—he hustled her out quickly when she did, 4 years ago."

He might take them further east past the town to where there are some settlements of diphs—centipede people from that strange town.

Dalam Vail has its own baron; not historically part of Lyneham.

Kit sends some of her people from the Naughty Bits, to find out what’s going on with this guy.

The morning court is fairly predictable. The two knights (technically one knight, and the wife of the other one) do homage and provide some tribute. Brionna talks shop with them. They each have a handful of men-at-arms that they can bring to a fight. They can field about a dozen men-at-arms, another two dozen militia, and then maybe a score from the village. There are maybe two or three dozen hunters and trappers that could be irregular archers. Most of them take their furs east, but more of them these days are selling them here.

They report that the baron to the east is competent enough, but he may not be happy that the trade route is reorienting itself. He has several knights in his service. He has a family, but my husband swears that there were some people from the east skulking around the edges of our farm a week ago or so. I think they were watching.

The innkeeper comes to pay his respects, with some dutifully prepared pastries.

Some of the farmers are worried; there are reports of chickens not laying as well as they should, and cows not calving properly—breech births and the like.

Kit asks if there’s a specific location for the farms.

Some of those farmers are devoted Glordiadelians and don’t associate with the Gunnoran midwives. Kit makes sure to make a show of friendship with the senior midwife, and to arrange for the priest of Glordiadel and the midwife to make a public friendship.

Both of the farms with the worst problems are quite far to the east, and very near each other.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 102, cont'd]
Dame Brionna heads out to sweep that area with one of her squads, along with young Lord Brightspan. The psion says, “I think I sense something…” hesitantly, and at about the same moment, two shafts thud into Lord Brightspan, knocking him from the horse and unconscious. The attacks came from ahead 120’, separated by about 30’. Dame Brionna charges the closer one.

The cleric neutralizes poison, because Lord Brightspan will live long enough to treat the wounds.

The psion detects thoughts—he is smote by waves of revulsion and anger and denial.

The assailant Dame Brionna is facing runs straight down her lance and spewing green powder out of his mouth at her. She rolls a 1 on her saving throw. She takes 47 points of damage.

Dame Brionna flicks him off the lance and stabs him. Her steed also kicks him. Between the two of them, they down him.

The psion gasps. “He’s just gone.”

“What about the other one?”

“That’s what I’m saying, he’s just gone. The thoughts blinked out.”

The poison has also been placed in a diluted form in the cattle trough.

Kit gets a message back through the mindlink: <<Do not drink anything that we didn’t bring with us. Check for problems of reversals of position.>>

Dame Brionna talks to the farmers about foul magic afflicting the cattle. She arranges for the midwife to come out and cure the cattle.

Grandmaster Farsensor can’t trace them, which suggests that it might be a Word of Recall. That could operate over effectively infinite range.

Grandmaster Farsensor suggests that this may be someone who knows who Kit actually is.

Dame Brionna recommends that they return to Canberry. Alistair recommends that Lady Katherine not leave her domain while it’s under attack, and refuses to leave Kit.

They have the local priest cast speak with dead for the slain assassin.

"Who are you working for?"

"We serve the Great Light."

"What was your assignment here?"

"To silence prying eyes that otherwise might see."

"The one who got away—where did he go?"

"He was summoned to the Holy Place."

"What were you afraid that the prying eyes might see?"

"That he might see the colony."

"Where is the colony?"

"Beyond the Ark."

"What is in the colony?"

"Hundreds, soon to be thousands, who unwittingly serve the Great Light."

"What are the creatures in the colony?"

"The unwitting offspring of the Ram."

"What is the Ark?"

"The dwellings of the Eight-Armed People."

"Are the Eight-Armed People minions of the Great Light?"

"No, they care nothing for such things."

"Are there other minions of the Great Light in my domain?"

"No, one strike team was thought sufficient for a petty noble, even a prying one."

"Does the Baron of Daman Vail serve the Great Light?"

"No, his 13 children should tell you that. He does not like Lyneham, but he does not bestir himself from his offspring and wife to act against Lyneham."

After discussion, Kit asks the Emperor for support against the colony, since it’s beyond her lands and implicates the cultists. With Grandmaster Farsensor’s recommendation, since they have been building this force for a long time and defending it well, they decide to send a full field army backed by an elven man-of-war.

They suggest looking for hard to scan areas with farsensing. That means large lead deposits, but also other areas. The areas that are hardest to scan are the cities of the Eldron near Hanal—especially those that fell.

That evening, an elegantly garbed drow is brought in. He hands them a document. [Attached]

(Also, in the category of things the group didn't need to waste game time on: while Kit is busy attending to her noble duties, Alistair spends some time renewing his acquaintance with some of his “special friends” from the last time he was in Lyneham.)
[End session 102]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 103 (June 27, 2019)

12 Chund
The servitor of the Ram has disappeared untraceably. He has a whole cluster of teen children who appear to have grown up in the area—apparently wild in the forests nearby.

They send a team to search his house. A runner returns from them a few hours a later. "The building has a number of oddities in it and we found a group of moving stones in the basement. They’re pretty cleverly done, but we were able to find them anyway. They conceal a secret door."

Kit authorizes them to proceed with caution.

At this point, the Grandmaster Farsensor returns. I have been in mindmeld with several colleagues. We found the colony, but also more troublingly a smaller group, underground, not far from here—remarkably close to the village, and at least one demon. There is far too much lead to teleport there safely.

They reach out to the team psionically and have them pull back.

(Kit also plans on having mines set up – the high quantity of lead is valuable in its own right, and may mean silver or even mithril as well.)

The team brought back an idol, that looks like a humanoid ram. "When we threw holy water on it, it smoked." There was also a book. It radiates obvious chaos. A priest said, "the farmer was writing his own book—his own scriptures. I didn’t want to burn it out there for fear that it would set something off. Someone who can read it safely should do so." Also, the priest steps forward with a carefully wrapped bundle in a high-quality silk shroud. "I think it is or was a fey. It was still attached to the wall in the basement."

The door was solid stone, but on rollers. The basement had obviously been filled with food stuffs, that have since been removed.

We agree to reach out through the Sixth Daughter to contact the Drowan cities.

She is adamant that they should not be permitted to escape—the Ram is insane, and does not have sufficient respect for the Goddess or her servitors. She promises that her mother’s house troops will deal with that and will not permit such an abomination to proceed through the realms. Alistair also mentions that the Lady of Lyneham might be interested in opening trade through the Underdark tunnels if her mother is interested.

The older children are not of the Ram. He must have come to the Ram about nine years ago. Those young ones are tieflings—the offspring of succubi. They are more animalian than anything else.

Lady Katherine reaches out to the wereboar grandmother about helping the teens.

“We are somewhat aware of them. We weren’t aware they were tieflings.”

They assure her that it doesn’t mean they’re inherently evil, but in need of guidance.

Everyone ignored them because they seem unable to communicate. They sneak around the village, but they never steal anything.

Around 4 pm, the Council receives a sending: “Have identified foe. Will intercept. Want prisoners?”

They send back “Yes.”

Around dinner time, the wereboar grandmother and her daughter bustle in with 4 kids, two boys, two girls, all teens, all terrified.

Kit asks if they can understand her. The oldest nods. She tells them that she is the local Lady, that they are safe, that they will be protected, and that their father will not be able to hurt them. He communicates a little with the others, and then they all made obvious animalian submission gestures.

The teens get sent off to take a bath, get new clothes (hand-me-downs, but still), and food.

They put the book in a lead coffer, contain the idol in a circle of protection against chaos, and post a continuous watch.

A pitched battle takes place at the main colony. The servants of the Ram are wiped out except for one commander, who was captured by the man-o-war. But when the voller lands to report, they drag this one figure off, in nets woven of mithril. The rest of them are dead. "There were casualties among your forces, but we were able to bombard the worst of them and one of our gray elves destroyed the worst of the demons. The net turns his magics back on him—that would otherwise impregnate any women near by. It will likely cause him a painful death over the next months." The elves leave a battlestar—a gray elf knight commander and four high elf knights to guard him.

The Canberryan commander reports that the bombardment was essential. "There were over two thousand, and some strange demon. They destroyed most by bombardment and then engaged the rest with us. The demon looks like a male marilith, which is all but unheard of—he had a circlet on his head, which indicated that he was a knight baronet of the 312th level of the Abyss. To the best of my knowledge, that level has no overlord. He was probably a mercenary, hired by the Lord of the Ram to support this."
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 103, cont'd--bonus post to make up for the lack of new Spice Lands and the War in Hanal content in the other thread]

They can compel the prisoner to answer ten questions. That will drain the psionic battery the gray elf offers us for our use.

"Who did the Ram have above you?"

"Valthalian Dor commands me, from his position hidden near the City of Enclaves."


"What was your plan?"

"Before the woman came, with her troops, we were meant to overtake this village when we were numerous enough. Most of the villagers are werecreatures. We were told that if we could forcefully breed with them we would create new, more powerful children."


"Any more accomplices still in Lyneham or Dalam Vail?"

"Why would anyone keep anyone anywhere except Lyneham? But no, we kept only the one in Lyneham. The lord of Dalam Vail turned down the offer of power and spat upon them. He tried to tell others—he sent a messenger, we killed him."


"Locations of any other colonies they know of?"

"There is a great colony to the east in the Lead Hills. There’s another great colony to the south of the holdings of the Lady Jane Peryton, near the great lead deposits. There’s another great colony deep in the southlands. The one who guards it does not know what he guards, but when we promised him a piece, he could not resist."


"What do they know of the Ram’s alliance with other demons and the like?"

"The old Queen is his ally. One or two other displaced demon lords. But his primary allies are not demons, for he seeks to become a god, as does the old Queen, in the new order to be brought in by Arthranax. He has released the scriptures to his loyalist followers, and hopes soon to reach godhood and those who will come."


"What else does he still need to do to become a god?"

"Find enough of the old blood and sacrifice them in the way that the Old Comers want, to break the bonds of demonhood and become a god and equal to them. That’s the purpose of the colonies, to sacrifice those of the old blood, especially those of the glades and the streams, the lesser ones. It will strengthen the older ones, but it will strengthen him more and make him their equal."


"Where is the Great Light’s holy site?"

"The Firstcomer who is here? Our dealings with him are minimal. We are not told those things. We know our place in the plan."


"Where would the farmer who served the Ram have fled?"

"Probably to Master Dor—that is where the stone would have taken him."


"Are there other breeding colonies in operation?"

"There were other small groups sent out, but we do not know where. Only a few of us born of the power of the Ram retain the power of the Ram. We become either officers or part of a group like this. Just as the old blood is useful, so is the blood of the were. We would have taken this village already if it hadn’t been for their lords and that damnable werebear knight."


"Do Arthranax and the Ram have any other gods as allies?"

"Not here. They wait for the ones who will come."

At the end of the interview, his head explodes.

They plan on redirecting the field army to the other colony; Grandmaster Farsensor agrees to find its exact location, and redirect the man-of-war to engage.

The next morning, they get a report. [Attached]

They all agree that they need to seriously our airship production—work with the elves, work with Hanalian refugees, send resources at the problem.

They decide that they need to support the refugees directly.

They decide they need to send adventuring groups and the like against the Ram—and maybe other targets, but only if they’re not too high risk.

They plan to talk to Princess Anastasia about her declaring herself openly, but that would require returning to Snannerkaz.

They talk about how we could break the usurper’s spell; Queen Malacath, the Queen of the Succubi, might be able to provide us information, because she’s one of the ancient Queen’s jailers. The Ram was also one of her jailers—it’s how he ended up getting corrupted. The other two jailers are forgotten. It was commanded by the Six. Princess Curinirim might also know.

They contact Princess Curinirim. "Even we would find it difficult to break the spell. It can be warded. But to remove it? The amount of energy she poured into it, and the number of blood sacrifices it took—it’s bound into the fabric of our reality. We are not as cruel and evil as we’re often portrayed. We’re willing to do what is necessary, but not cruel and evil about it. Over a period of years, thousands of blood sacrifices were offered to establish that identity. It was part of the reason for the blood festivals of Hanal. A sufficient number of deliberately offered innocents might weaken it or break it.

"The old Queen of Demons was the most potent illusionist to ever exist. This is a form of illusion, but it is so powerful that I do not know of a historical case where it was broken generally.

"Were the usurper to die, it would collapse, and everyone would realize they had been deceived. But while she lives, it is bound into her."

[Not quite clear to me what the flow of the next couple bits of the conversation were.]

The demons couldn’t manifest without being summoned, and that would be a risk of a new Shadowlands.

"What about Daemons?"

"She is powerful; but I cannot tell who she is. I would give myself an even chance against her. But daemons care not for this land, except if Lord Morgroth rules it. I believe she is an archdemon—I suspect a daughter of the Queen of Demons, but I cannot prove either.

"An oddity of demons—as greedy as they are, any apparent chance of seizing the Prime, seems to drive them almost all to pursuing the Prime above all else."
[End session 103]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 104 (July 16, 2019)

14 Chund
Dame Kit begins the next day by saying that she has gotten a letter from one of her agents in Masque and of information about doings in Yar and the Brownlands; there are rumors of a new Shadowland coming. [Attached] There is something coming out that is like a demon, but not acting like any demons they know of. There are more of them, they’re more powerful, and they’re more organized. In Masque, they’re debating what to do with them. The Queen-Empress has rejected using “overwhelming force” to destroy everything in Yar and the Brownlands; it’s worth looking into, because it apparently is in their capability. The Queen-Empress of Masque is sending a lot of troops to the border, but not going into the area. There are rumors that the throne-globe and King-Emperor are connected to the increasing area of corruption. The King-Emperor and the throne-globe are gone; nobody knows where he is. The leading theories are that he was taken away by some magical force, or that he made a lot of deals and they finally came due. It’s also possible he took himself away, but that’s unlikely.

They send a message asking a consultation with one of the Hastur Keepers.

A servant comes in. “M’lady… Baroness Stacy is riding in right now.”

“Very well. I’ll receive her in the hall where I hold court.”

Kit has no idea who she is.

Very shortly, a middle-aged woman who looks like she fought hard to get where he is, followed by a large man in heavy armor unstrapping enough weapons to fight a small war as he enters.

She curtsies to Kit. “Nobly born, I heard that you would be visiting your estates and I wanted to pay my respects on behalf of myself and my husband. We hope that someday you’ll be able to visit our estates.

“I had hoped that we might be able to negotiate a contract for some of the hops some of your men grow. My brewers would be relieved—otherwise, we have to bring it all the way from Enclaves, and with the refugees, that route is challenging.”

(Her lands are a day’s ride to the north; not much larger than Lyneham, grain, not much dairy, land’s too poor. Sounds like her husband is a werebear. Her heir is a niece, studying in Northern Aurelian.)

The deal is reasonable, but doesn’t actually involve much money. It’s trade in kind—hops in exchange for beer.

Kit calls in the tavern keeper to consult on the potential deal. Their beers are good; their whiskey is better, but they don’t make much of it—don’t know why. But both are better than the local supply.

“Sir Alistair” chats with the Baroness’s husband. Getting hit from the south-east by someone going after some of the few dairy farms—goblins.

There are six dozen of these petty baronies—used to be seven dozen, and it was attrition not combination.

Dame Brionna reports that she has received a report from the expeditionary force. [Attached]. Together with the elven voller, they were able to defeat the forces of the Ram. Significant casualties, but still battle-worthy. They’re north of the barrier mountains, and await further instructions.

The Imperial Council has a private discussion about what title Kit will end up with.

Kit meets again with Baroness Stacy, and suggests increasing the trade in whiskey.

“I love the idea of more trade in whiskey, but we’ve avoided making more whiskey, because beyond a few barrels for home and a few for here, they need to be shipped either north to Enclaves, or south through Gates, or northwest to Hanal—and I wouldn’t want to ship anything to Hanal currently.”

Kit suggests that now trade with Canberry is more of an opportunity, which surprises Baroness Stacy. The Baroness is surprised, but very interested.

They send the main body of troops to deal with the other Ram colony in the Lead Hills, while the auxiliaries stay in Lyneham and begin constructing mines, improving roads, etc.
[session 104, cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
Session 105 (November 26, 2019)

Chund 16ish
Dame Brionna has received a message [attached] from Humbert, Archbishop of Enclaves, who is well-meaning but very formal. The initial scout report says that they were heading directly east in the main tunnel that travels underneath the ocean to Khamista. The abominations, about 20 in number, are being chased by a task force trying to deal with them.

The morning that they’re going to leave, the group is split up into a couple different tasks.

Dame Brionna is overseeing preparations to depart.

Kit is having a last meeting with the person who has been running things in her absence, who she is now making the seneschal. Probably in the great hall. Alistair is there with her.

There are 3 strike teams, and 25 total guards with us. One group is with Dame Brionna, one in the servant’s halls near the great hall, and one in the tower.

One of the guards, Fred, asks Dame Brionna: “Dame, what’s that?” And coming out of the woods and approaching the castle at top speed is a teen-age man, bleeding from his chest, but running as fast as he can.

“Gotta warn the lady. They came up out of nowhere—I think they got my pa, but I had to warn the lady.”

Dame Brionna warns Kit.

Fred staggers back, with two barbed crossbow bolts in his chest. He collapses, as the flesh around the second wound begins to change and dissolve.

About 20 figures are charging at Dame Brionna and her group, running hell bent for leather. The local archers fire regular arrows, to no apparent effect. Eight of the charging group appear to be human, but their flesh is translucent, and they are stripped to the waste and have visible organs—their hearts are wreathed in blue flame. Three are small illithid-like creatures, with crossbows, but they have dull gray skin. The final figure looks similar, but is like 6 and a half feet tall but with four foot tentacles, robes, and floating. The rest are apparently normal humans, behind the rest.

Dame Brionna hears in the coldest tone of voice, “Reach the Dame, corrupt the spawn, we can still win.”

Kit and Alistair flee towards the basement.

The Grandmaster Farsensor apports to join Dame Brionna. “I will engage the leader.” He draws a laen sword.

The same cold voice rings out, oozing through the consciousness—not psionic, but not physical. “Ignore the abominable. Attack the keep. Reach the dame.”

The lead creature draws a staff that Dame Brionna can’t focus her attention on and begins to fight the Eldar.

Dame Brionna launches an attack on the lesser ones. She impales one with her lance. Its flesh almost recoils from the elven blade of the lance, but it also focuses its attention on her.

The psion does his best to engage them. From the battlements, two fireballs crash in as the mages in the other teams attack. They do some damage, but less than expected.

The leader reaches out with the weird staff, which sometimes looks like a curl of smoke, and an ooze of weird black energy wraps around the Farsensor. He takes damage, but avoids the worst of it. The Farsensor attacks four times, hitting twice, and pours psionic energy into the laen sword which glows and turns it into damage.

Two more fireballs crash in; they take less damage then you would expect, but still some, and one of the humans collapses.

Dame Brionna crits, and dismembers the creature which hisses and crumbles. As soon as it strikes the ground, the grass whithers. But it’s clearly dead.

The remaining illithid-like creatures shove through to the door and push directly against it. The doors boom and groan, but they stand.

The great one darts his four tentacles towards the chest of the Farsensor. He manages to dodge aside from two, but the other two tentacles penetrate.

Grandmaster Farsensor cleaves off most of its left arm, and the staff falls to the ground. There is a searing shriek and a 30’ circle of grass dies. He also stabs it twice more.

To Dame Brionna’s right, there are a group of regular humans milling about. To her left, there are the two remaining tentacled creatures, and the rest of the translucent humans.

The door begins to whither and break apart.

The greater one strikes the Grandmaster with a third tentacle. The Grandmaster pumps all of his remaining 340 power points into the creature as he stabs it three times. It glows, and collapses in on itself, leaving only the tentacles left, which slowly collapse as well.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 105, cont'd]

Dame Brionna fells another of the lesser ones as well. The remaining small one hisses, “keep her from me,” and touches the door again. The door whithers and collapses from its hinges, falling to the ground. It starts to pass through. The translucent humans split up. Two engage Dame Brionna, two throw blasts of blue fire at the parapets where the mages are, and the other four form a tight formation around the creature.

Alistair has a conversation with the spirit of the land—reached through the stream bed of a stream that cuts through the cellar to allow a secure source of water. She agrees to strengthen the barricade and to arrange for it to contact Alistair’s orichalcum ring as they try to pass through the wall.

Dame Brionna charges after the tentacled creature and would have hit it, except that one of the translucent humans interposed itself, got impaled, and the blue flame ran up the lance towards her. She feels a tingling, oozing sensation, and her devanic blessing activates and rejects the attempt to possess her. It explodes, and she takes 25 points of damage on a failed save.

The wizard guard blasts one of the remaining one with a scorching ray, blowing up its head.

At a dead run, the tentacled creature (now empowered with two additional spirits) having unerringly run to the stairs, runs down the stair, runs to the wall, and the spirit of the land intercepts its touch with the orichalcum ring. There is a massive explosion. The barricade dissolves into a powder, as does the tentacled one. The two remaining humanoids get struck by spraying salt, which causes them to dissolve into blue flame.

Grandmaster Farsensor and Dame Brionna finish off the two fighting her. The last two were brought down by archers.

They gather up and imprison the normal humans.

They thank the spirit of the land for her assistance. She asks Lady Katharine to establish a bawdy house in the town, which Lady Katharine agrees to.

The normal humans are confused, and starving. They’re from Hanal—they were called to the keep by the vad—they name him—and they don’t remember anything else from after that. The vad was “feeling badly”—likely corrupted or replaced. Lady Katharine asks Princess Anastasia about the vad. The vad was a loyalist. That means that Snatterkaz has a potential traitor in the midst of his followers. He’s either replaced with an exact double, or being controlled—if they indicated he was dead, they wouldn’t allow anyone from his lands to be misused. The fake vad will know what happened here immediately.

These were commons—farmers. It would not be safe for them to return, so Kit decides to resettle them here.

Kit’s people are delighted to see her when she reassures them that they’re fine.

Lord Silverleaves comments, "Depending on how you view their hierarchy, that was either the greatest of the lesser beings or the least of the greater—probably the greatest of the lesser. They’re called herders. They have powers of transportation, transmutation, and mental control. Those translucent people were cultists of the Blue Flame itself, and through his power, they have joined openly with the creatures coming through.

"The reason for the lesser humans, however, was that the Blue Stars will wear out their hosts. By making them ready, the cultist’s consciousness will move through, along with the fragment of the Blue Star itself. They can potentially gain skills from their new hosts."

Lady Katharine finds a job for the surviving son.

They take the voller back uneventfully.
[End Session 105]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 106 (December 19, 2019)

[Around this time, Alistair sent a missive out to all of his imperial vassals. The Council worked on several drafts. I've attached the version sent out to this post.]
22 Chund
A particularly baroque Noldar ship—apparently made out of black crystal, likely laen—is floating across the land, dispersing gold dust as it goes.

It docks at the palace voller tower. Usually, the Noldar don’t actually dock, but hover above and take flitters down. A very small party descends.

Alistair and Dame Brionna meet them at the base of the tower.

Leading the way, a shadowelf officer comes first—likely her general. A couple of drow in black laen armor follow, and then Lady Amerie Aufaulgautharim, and two handmaidens carrying parasols for her. “On behalf of the Host of Gasping Dust and our princess, we greet you.”

Alistair welcomes them.

“We are pleased and honored to be with you. We were hopeful that we would be able to be with you through the festival and salute the moons with you.

“Were you aware that there were a small group of some sort of demons on your east border? If you were, we hope that you will not take great offense that we bombarded them as we passed.”

The demons were something of the four parts of a goat.

They are possessed. The Council confirm that the "demons" are of the Blue Flame. They tell Lady Amerie that these aren’t truly demons—the Noldar used the term more broadly than humans would.

“I knew that I did not trust that upstart, but I did not recognize its taint. My husband would be most wroth with me if he were still alive. I should inform him—all the planes should be aware of this. Have you prepared the Moon Chambers? Tonight is the most auspicious night to speak to the other planes of this.”

The Council begins scurrying about to prepare the Moon Chamber. The princess sends down a scholar shadowelf lady who informs us that she is happy to help in any preparations.

(They have Kit’s scribe check on her background. She bore live twins. They have since died, it's believe—it is wise not to mention the House Goldorim near her.)

They all make their way back to the palace. She engages in ordinary largesse—silver, given by her handmaidens, so nothing we need to worry about.

She notes the runes on the palace as we enter. She recommends that Canberry charge the palace runes—they have been tested no less than three times.

"We are leaving behind a terrible legacy. We should never have bred the number of uruk-hai and orog kind as we did. You will contend with them for 10,000 years after we have gone.

"There are other types of demons. Each scheming and wanting. And your race is a bright source of energy for them. We are older and tasteless—and we fight more than you do."

“We were recently discussing the strange obsession of demons with the prime. Do you know why?”

“Yes. The demon planes, though they are infinite, have only one type of energy. They are limited. Here, all the energies of this universe are mixed together. And thus to possess the Prime would possess all of the powers. They would not turn it into one of their planes—but to torture it and drink its power and create infinite monsters. Even in the Shadowlands, they preserve the nature of the Prime to a limited degree. But the Six Lords of the Abyss—they may have some other scheme. They are mad, and more powerful than most demons—though not truly gods, no more so than I am, less even—their books talk of transforming the Prime into their own Prime, making themselves into the only gods.

"Lolth is brilliant, but the Queen of Chaos is not. She is powerful, and cunning, but her plans do not have enough depth to succeed."

A messenger slips up to Dame Brionna—"at your convenience, Lady Constance would like you to join her at the cathedral."

Lady Constance and Bishop Waters meet Dame Brionna in the undercroft of the cathedral. There are two pit fiends present as well. “Two of them are more powerful—they could have killed most of the guard. They came here willingly. They did not expect me.

“These three carry minor pieces of the Blue Star. These two, however…

“They still think that they may escape. Look at this scarification, how the body begins to become translucent. That makes them able to become more powerful. These also contain substantial magical energy of the Blue Star.

"They are mobile—that’s why I’m allowing only the pit fiends to touch them. There’s nothing there to possess. I don’t believe that anyone other than these two carry them deliberately—the others can be exorcised. These two offered themselves willingly—their mortal spirits are bound to the creature. With these two—I have sworn an oath to uphold the ethos of this kingdom. But if I were not, I’d have them put to death."

They thought that he was a minion of Sytry. The Council concludes that they can’t have them executed, because they became corrupted voluntarily but without intending to serve a proscribed god.

Lady Constance suggests that a Master Coercer might be able to separate them. Grandmaster Farsensor tells the Council that he doesn’t think any elven grandmasters would be willing to come, but a few young masters—around 1000 years old or so, mere teen-agers.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 106, cont'd]
The Noldar's general talks with Dame Brionna about vollers and strategy. He offers to have some drow craftsmen come to Canberry to make new black boxes. Black boxes should never fail, but Hanalian ones do. Some slaves escaped from the Aufaulgautharim about a millennium ago—they had worked on the voller construction, so we had a little more concern about their escape. The black boxes in the Hanalian vollers are in a sealed chamber directly behind the foremast. They get a few drowan craftsmen to make new black boxes.

"As you know, I bear a message from my uncle. I feel that I should deliver that message before."

They discuss the young Noldar. They talk about him growing up; they’re resigned to the fact that he will leave them. And they know that their house will be the next to go.

"Given that you have accepted a member of our house into your fosterage, and given that he has taken seriously to his oaths to your house, and given that we know that he is happy and will leave the faith but not go to the Enemy, he wishes to bestow an honorific upon you—protector of the heritage." This cube of eog symbolizes the blessing and honorific, never conferred on a human. It is also a psionic battery (300 pt.). It has the seal of the House of Aufaulgautharim on one side of it.

"Lady Aufaulgautharim, in order to achieve a victory against the greatest enemy, we must locate additional Eldron. Do you know where any might be found?"

"Forgehome—deep beneath the barrens, just near the city of Bianca in the domain of the White Witch—there’s an Eldron below Forgehome. He is somewhat mobile, but he would have to stop working on his project. There are enough gears and interlocking gears in Forgehome to drag the planet itself. And they all run off the great volcano. They never finish what they start. And they leave it lying about the place. Is there a reason they never finish? You may find this foolish coming from me. But they have no sense of time. If they lose themselves completely in the project, they become part of the earth.

"One of them became a force of wind. North of dragon’s home, north of the amusingly named Estates of Lady Jane Peryton. There is a place where the wind always blows, and there are voices in the wind. He forgot, and passed away into wind while still working on his project. His servants still work on it, and I’d be cautious about going there—I’d be cautious—he believed he could combine the bloodlines of all of the dragons, he could create the most perfect of all beings. I’ve heard that there are still caches of fertilized eggs in his caves."

Things start getting out of hand. She’s talking to Kit, and getting upset about children again. They distract her. "If you remember that your people are not pawns, then you will get more value out of them."

They discuss the mess in Hanal and Canberry's lack of direct action.

"The Temple of Paranswarm must commit the five Holy Field Armies. And yet… given where their Holy See is, they cannot, because of the proximity of the Sytryite armies.

"The Patriarch of Sytry is not corrupted. But some of his Council may be. If we could eliminate their threat, the Temple of Paranswarm might deploy its army to win in Hanal. They will otherwise take too long to win—long enough to allow the usurper to do terrible things."

They have a ceremony in the Moon Chambers. The young Noldar lord is formally the preceptor, though she’s mostly doing all the energy. Waves of energy from the light of the moon flow over us, even out of the dome of energy. At last they walk the opposite ways around the circle and the dome vanishes.

They thank the young Noldar for his assistance.

“We could not have done that without the moons. But the word has been sent, your majesty.

"A quick lesson on politics: Aufaulgautharim, Curinirim, and Goldorim are the oldest of the seven houses. Aufaulgautharim will pass first, then Curinirim, and last like a cancer Goldorim will pass. Moriquendarim are the most numerous, though weakest by far on a personal basis. They are sticklers for protocol. Princess Curinirim is probably fourth ranked among all the Noldar, but is least interested in the Noldar’s regular goals. So she maintains her palace here, so she does not have to be the City of Pain. Have you wondered why we named our cities such terrible things and why they are all necropolis? I have. But though she does not formally rule the Moriquendarim here, none of them would dare betray her. She betrothed to a Moriquendarim."

They discuss trying to get Sytry to launch a Shadowlands crusade.
[End session 106]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 107 (March 19, 2020)

23 Chund
Lady Aufaulgautharim departed on the following morning.

Dame Brionna rushes in in the morning, asking for a private meeting with Alistair and Kit in the inner council chamber.

Dame Brionna reports that she had a conversation with the Princess Aufaulgautharim’s military advisor. He summoned three drow master crafters who can make black boxes and teach others. He also gave Dame Brionna a personal gift, a white lean ring that can store divine magic and improves wisdom. She offers it to Alistair, who is dismissive about the idea of wearing it personally and encourages Dame Brionna to keep it. They plan on putting the Drow master crafters in a basement of the palace assuming that’s acceptable to the crafters.

They ask Kit’s scribe to research House Ashberry’s ancient genealogy—wondering if there is a connection to the ancient Moriquendarim who established the palace. Will get an answer in 6 weeks.

They make a plan to try to convince the Temple of Sytry to join the Church of Glordiadel in a crusade against the Shadowlands. We have 3 parts to their argument:
  1. The Shadowlands are an abomination and should be brought back into the light and purified.
  2. They need to eliminate the Shadowlands before the Hastur pass, because the barriers will fall when they do, so there is some urgency.
  3. Paranswarm is making inroads into the Shadowlands, with Caldefor being restored, and while that’s better than the Shadowlands, they would much rather see those lands restored to the Light.
They reach out diplomatically, starting through the Church Militant of the Church of Glordiadel. (They don’t mention that their primary reason for this is to shift Sytryite military away from Khamista,)

Kit gets a message from the Eyes in the Western Duchies [attached]; the glittering black ship, turned northwest at Canberry's border, and went very fast—maidens in silver armor, tossed gold dust and silver over the edge of the ship—it then fired rays of light into the ground. It disappeared into a purple cloud. The baron has taken his knights over the border to find out what they shot at, and none of them have returned yet. The banner was like this that it flew.

They call for an expert on elven heraldry. "That was the symbol of one of the group of Eldron that split apart. It was retained as the personal banner of a Princess of the Aufaulgautharim. She never flew them, but she retained them. There’s some legend about it…" They send the expert on elven heraldry to research it—he says he’ll get in a few hours.

[cont'd]
 

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