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Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes (posts MWF, most recent 6/23/21)

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 50 (September 7, 2011):
9 Skard

We need a Grandmaster Redactor to remove Kit’s psychic slime; there are none in the Forest of Singing Leaves. The Grandmaster Farsensor wants to reach out to the Eldar from some other woods, probably on Khamista.

We all take a break for the day.

10 Skard

An orkish prisoner (Harash—does not have his adult name, has not killed a great animal or an enemy) arrives. He is more or less a guarantee of good behavior on the part of his father, who is the chieftain of one of the orkish tribes that were harassing the Northwest of the Archduchy. Brionna suggests making him a page; Alistair is basically appalled by the idea, but agrees that they may need to.

He bears the “gift of knowledge.” He takes prompting, but says, “Of the hordes that have been bought by the cat, there are as yet three that have not been seen because they march north and east towards Debonai. The infantry is slow to respond. They hope to make many raids. This is to delay Debonai’s response to those who have gone south. All the other hordes you have either smashed, driven away, or subbed.” He defines subbed as “made a tribe of your tribe.” We explain that we would say vassals.

He explains about the shamans and the Keepers of the Flame (who are “touched” from birth by animal spirits). I do not wish to be a shaman. They can never be chief; they can only advise.

“Blood sickness”—when a family has ruled long enough, all of them become like my brother. There is no spirit within the body, only flesh. (They marry their sisters. Alistair does not conceal his revulsion.)

There is only one more message that I was asked to bring from the Shaman. The Shaman wished you to know that there is yet one of the unseen seen within your lands, for the cat left him with us but he left our tribe and traveled into your land. When he left, he bore the seeming of a merchant who traveled into your land with a great quantity of oak.

Kit sends word out through her merchant agents.

We also talk about asking the elves about removing taint from wood/detecting tainted wood.

We contact the Grandmaster Farsensor; he mentions that wood speakers are common among his people. They could both eliminate the poison and detect it.

He talks to a counselor to the Queen to get some wood speakers (40 wood elves) to gate through.

Kit gets an image of the merchant that the unseen seen took, along with how he changed when the unseen seen replaced him. He was Alec; well, the merchant who bought our kine-hide was Alec.

Kit’s agent through the fan knows Alec the wood merchant. He was Hanalian, but exiled—apparently from drinking too much (although Kit suggests it may have been for being too nice).
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 50, cont'd]
40 wood elves teleport through, more males than females. Many of them have never been out of the forest before. “We are here to serve.”

The Council explains the problem.

“A binary poison that partakes of some of the ancient poisons of the servants of the elder gods? Even our cousins among the Noldar disparage this. And the other part of the poison is in the wood?”

(One of the other elves whispers “But humans don’t eat wood!”)

“Once I have found my station, I have enough reagents to make a few vials of antivenom for any doses that we miss. But I only have a few doses worth.”

The Farsensor says: I am torn. I do not know if I should attempt a High Sweep or not. If he knows, he is capable of wounding me. Even if he is not aware, he may have hidden himself by reflex, and I would exhaust myself to no avail.

Dame Brionna says, We have used psionics to track them before. If they have communicated, he will know that.

F: That settles the question then. He will certainly be hidden, and it would be a waste.

11 Skard
We have a psionic meeting with the King of Debonai, an extremely frail young man we met at the Coronation. (We remember his brother much better.) He is seated in something throne-like but clearly meant to support him. His brother is with him as well. There is also a grizzled older man wearing full armor. Lastly, there is a fairly short woman, hair piled on top of her head, likely the psionic at the other end.

“Your majesty.”

“Your grace. It is a pleasure to see you, despite the problems.”

If I could prevail upon you general to brief the Archduke.

As your grace knows, all but one of the field armies of horse departed under the leadership of what I will charitably describe as possessed. Committed to a forward position in the Northwest, because a large horde of orks has attacked, the largest we’ve ever seen. In the absence of rapid response, our 12 field armies of infantry are pinned down in our major cities. The minor houses have devolved into violence against each other, although none has offered violence against the royal house. There was one assassination attempt, but that was apparently from beyond the country. The assassin has not been found. We never had the best intelligence service; we relied on the Inquisition. The Inquisition holds the Cathedral. It’s extraordinary; it’s as if they were struck at by those they knew, but except for the gate guards, none have a wound on their bodies. We feared plague, but there were no additional cases. The death rictuses were terrible to behold, and with them went the primary intelligence apparatus of the country. On the very day the nobles rose. Obviously coordinated, and coordinated for much time.

We believe that the land is basically held, partially due to the efforts of a travelling merchant in the south of the country. We gave them some lands and a minor title.

Without a more mobile force, one of several things will happen. The cities will start to starve; the Guard Cities will decide they need to stabilize the situation and will seize territory; or the armies will fall back and the orc hordes will devastate the northwestern section of the country.

Alistair mentions the additional three hordes that are marching on their southwest.

He proposes a more formal relationship. The king offers him marriage of his brother, whose children would inherit.

The Farsensor also says that the king was almost certainly poisoned by some source introduced starting when he was a child, and proceeding over much time.

These two are all that lived out of 5; same wasting sickness as the King, but it took them much earlier.

(The only countries with decent successions in our region: City of Life; the Guard Cities, but that’s just a military oligarchy; Masque’s empress has nobody to replace her (it would probably fall to the head of one of the largest Orders); elves and dwarves; Tang’s succession is completely safe, but it’s the only one) The clerk researched when this started happening, and found that it started 96 years ago. 102 years ago the Order of the Ram was driven out. 6 years later, everything went bad.)

Of course, Alistair’s grandmother wasn’t supposed to have inherited; older sister died tragically in an extraordinarily fishy carriage accident that decapitated her.

The Farsensor asks Dame Brionna, do you think it’s important that the younger brother has some minor, probably unaware, redaction ability.

We’re planning on shifting military support to aid Debonai, hiring mercenaries to aid them (committing the Order of the Vulture), and buying off the orks (which fails—too terrified of the people who hired them). We also send our orks north to pincer them.

[End Session 50]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 51 (September 29, 2011)

12 Skard
We talk about Lady Leansilas’s visit, scheduled for the 14th. The very high elves have really convoluted and interwoven honor system, with a super-stylized approach. She is apparently bringing us something, although we have no idea what. Some scholars think that the crazy honor system of the high elves is what is killing off both sides.

We talk about setting up the King of Debonai’s brother with one of the Brightspan daughters; Kit and Dame Brionna are not as fond of this idea as Alistair.

Alistair also raises the question of whether gender skews are part of the attacks on the royal families; Kit sets her scribe on it.

Day passes uneventfully

13 Skard
Day passes uneventfully

That evening, Dame Brionna is met by a highly disheveled Grandmaster Farsensor. He explains that Grand Lady Alviana Malquen'we, Princess of the Court of the OverQueen. Consort to Prince Silvanus Malquen'we of the Wood of Hope, and Mother of his heir; Paragon Redactor of the Court of Eternal Stars, Star Salutory of the Great Goddess and the Illuvatar, has responded to the request from my liege. She has translocated from the Elder Wood to a half-day away with a metaconsort, and travels here on unicorn back. She has never met a mortal before. She has never been away from the Court of Stars before, not even to her husband’s holdings in the Wood of Hope.

Dame Brionna wakes Kit, who gets the protocol people going.

Brionna asks the Farsensor whether she would want to stay in the palace; since the Court of Stars has no enclosed buildings, that might be a bad idea. We settle on putting her in the garden that the fae renovated.

Alistair is aware of her from bardic songs; there are elven songs dating back to the Second Age that refer to her. She is revered for her extraordinary ability to heal, even to heal the dead back to life without resurrecting them. But there’s no lore that she ever fought the Noldar. The songs do imply that she’s a First Comer.

In addition to informing the protocol people, who basically start running around like chickens with their heads chopped off, we inform the local Tor of fae (since we don’t want to offend them) and Lord Davion.

We send a voller out; it returns at about the tenth bell of the morning. The captain reports directly, looking dazed. “Commander—they would not board. They’re making their way on their beasts, and they’re healing on the way. People, beasts, even birds.”

Alistair sends runners to inform every butcher in a day’s travel of the city that they’re closed for a week.

We also start gathering children, informing people that she is to be greeted by the children of Canberry with flowers; we also basically buy out the flower markets of Canberry.

It is a full metaconsort of 14 other redactors; they are projecting a healing field some dozens of yards in radius.

We send a message asking the King of Debonai and his brother to teleport in, along with our senile duke and other people who should

We send some paladins to scare off any evil people to avoid any unfortunate incidents; the Grandmaster Farsensor says the paladins should only address themselves to her chamberlain, not to her, and not to her metaconsort. The chamberlain is himself a cousin of the Prince of MalquenWe, and a lord of the court, but he is not involved in the healing field, and he fought in the defense of the Wood of Hope.

The hours pass; reports flood in, especially to Kit. Virtually everyone who has approached has been healed, although two men just fell apart. They have been joined by a small coterie of hangers-on; brownies and sprites and slyths (air spirits).

As they approach, Dame Brionna goes out to greet leading an honor guard.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 51 cont'd]
Alistair dresses, as much as possible, entirely in gifts from the elves. Lord Davion says that it would be appropriate for him to stay next to Alistair.

Dame Brionna really, really hopes that Alistair is as good at avoiding gibbering as he said he would be, because even as a basically asexual heterosexual, her beauty strikes her. The crowd parts for them, in awe surely, but Dame Brionna can, without psychic sensitivity, see where the field ends. Everyone is crowding into that field. A hunchbacked lady has her back heal and straightens up. A hearty man with an old worn out donkey suddenly has a healthy and able donkey. The group around her, like her, has only silk and crystal on them, except for the elves at the rear, who are grey elves mostly in crystal but very heavily armed, and also with metal weapons. Some of the children forget to throw their flowers; the flowers that do get thrown grow.

They make their way through the city, on the broad avenue through the gate that leads up through the city. The voller flies above them. Most of the way through the lower city when Dame Brionna sees a man in the vestments of a priest of Glor’diadel get a terrified look on his face, and then physically dissolves. Dame Brionna sends a paladin to investigate and find his name.

Alistair gets a 35 or so on his Will save, having been bedecked with every Will bonus he can get; that’s enough to prevent him from falling prone, although he is stunned for a while by the most perfect female form he has ever seen.

Greetings; Alistair stumbles through his response.

She steps to the King of Debonai, touches his forehead and pulls an almost visible black-green liquid from him. “Poisoned from birth? The spirit of the Noldar lives among you as well.”

“So many sick?”

“Together with our cousin in the light, we will stay a half-week to heal

She sends for Queen Caitlyn’s cook. “The child will be healthy, and male, and now will be intelligent”

She’s being poisoned, you know. A very slow acting poison, it would sap the will and intelligence of the unborn child.

The unicorns are pastured with Dame Brionna’s warhorse; by the end of the visit, with an Int of 10, it gains Knowledge (Divine) 5; Knowledge (Philosophy) 5.

Queen Caitlyn’s cook is brought by a paladin. “A woman of your encampment?” “Yes.”

Dame Brionna hears: “What does a human mean by a woman?” “A female; one who gives birth.” “Of her own species?” “Yes—is she not?” “Should I unweave the shapechanging?” “Yes, but not here.”

Her guards hand Dame Brionna a pair of crystal cuffs.

We proceed to the Garden. They fly over the palace to get there, at our suggestion; Alistair flies with them.

Dame Brionna chats with the lord chamberlain/general about security matters, including the numerous assassination attempts and the security wards on the palace.

My brother saw humans in the Second Age; they did not build like this, they lived in tents made of skin, and they roistered with orks. I had not known that you had come so far.

Do you have a psionically transparent vessel? The farsensor prepared one.

I must remove it from her, break those strands that run from the Southeast, and transfer it to the vessel without it reporting back. It does not feel like the work of our cousins…

We explain that it is from the Abomination of Shur. She, with our permission, reads our minds about them. Ah, a cat demon. That explains the cook—a humanoid cat with a significant psionic armamentum.

Anatar’s influence.

It should hold the pablum in place for… no more than 60 years. If it approaches that, it should be transferred to a new vessel. The transference can be done by any master level redactor.

Would you like the fan to be fully attuned to you? Your powers are very young, and the fan… well, I will fully attune it for you. It will be better for you.

This is an unusual formation and should be recorded in the Archives. It is insidious.

Alistair sits with Kit’s head in his lap, and holds her hands.
Fort save DC 17; Kit fails, excruciating pain.
Fort save DC 19; Kit fails again, then fails a Will save and faints entirely.
Fort save DC 21; Kit fails a third time, returns to consciousness and sees an ectoplasmic extrusion; -1 to all Con based checks for the next month.

She then finishes the attunement for the fan.

When she wakes, Fort save DC 22; Kit permanently loses a point of Con.

We will deal with this cook now, and then return for we have given our word to the people.

You disgrace your people; you disgrace those who have found honor; you disgrace the spirit world from which you came; I name you filth, and show your true form. I turn you to the humans, to those who you have betrayed, to those whose servant you slew to take her place. I wash my hands of you, the Eldar wash our hands of you.

Out of the very sewers of the city, where there were still undead and demons present, one group after another leaves and tries to flee the city. The paladins and priests have a field day cutting them to pieces.

Sometime in the evening, a young squire slips up to Alistair. “Your grace—I was told to inform you that space has been given to the Lady… ummm” “Leansislas?” “Yes. She says she understands; she will wait.”

Alistair assigns his sister the task of making sure that the King of Debonai does not inadvertently produce any bastards. We consider trying to set him up with one of the Brightspan daughters?

Alistair welcomes Lady Leansislas, using the royalty and high nobility who have gathered to honor her. “My husband felt a great tie to your grandmother; they traveled together, shared research notes, and she had been to our holding. Our holding lies to the south in the Spice Lands. You know that my husband died fighting a battle against your mutual enemies aboard one of our ships. What you do not know is why he fought this battle. This psionically active pendant includes all of the knowledge he gained, about the disposition of the troops of the Abomination and the plans of the Abomination’s allies, as my husband gained by interviewing a member of the court of the Abomination as a coercer. We hope that it is useful.” She hands Alistair a pendant that looks like a crystal ball filled with a strange liquid that glows slightly.

I am a creator of Grandmaster class; I have specialized in enhancing the magic fabric of Spiga silk; before that I specialized in the crafting of stringed instruments. She agrees to think about spending 10 or 20 years crafting instruments and teaching, before going to the Havens, because that is such an insubstantial time.

Alistair asks the Grand Lady about his mother and the other erased people; she says that the methods we’re working on (with the two artifacts, one of Eldar make and one of Noldar make) is the best method, possibly the only one that would work.

[End session 51]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 52 (November 3, 2011)

Skard 15

We send little Lord Brightspan on messenger duty all around the palace to scan over people. We ask him to report on anything funny to the Sixth Daughter and to Dame Brionna. (About midday.)

Interrogating the cook:
Dame Brionna: We encourage you to tell us precisely what your mission here was.

The rakshasa is not intimidated, and fails his arrogance check, so he doesn’t pontificate. He silently stares at Dame Brionna.

“We have ways of making your death extremely painful. We have ways of making it go quickly. We could also just rip it from your mind, but I would prefer for you to remain sane and coherent.”

“But how could you let me die with honor?”

“What would it mean for you to die with honor?”

“A person of rank would have to strike me down, with my face to them.”

“I could guarantee that, in exchange for cooperation.”

“Your word as a paladin that my death will be honorable by the lights of my people?”

“By the Light of Glor’diadel, my god, I swear it.”

“You were clever to find me. There will be others soon, if there are not already. One of the lord’s servants, a quiet one, a small one, remained in the underways. The first sweep and the second sweep did not find him. He brings through others. Your wards are difficult, but your people do not remain within them. One of the ones he brought through is a coercer, he brings them down, draws out their memories. A powder of phoenix down and dragon’s blood I brought with me; it is now in the kitchen proper. To be placed beneath the Prince’s chair. And a focus I brought within the walls, but I do not know where that is now, for I put it down on a tray that I knew would be cleaned. It allows a preset series of commands placed there by a coercer to affect whoever first gazes into it. I do not know what the commands were, or who may have found it. It was put in the area where you keep your young ones.

Your lord has endured so many efforts on the part of my master. My lord is deeply concerned that he is a charmed one, whose set is to defeat my lord’s purpose. If he is a charmed one, he cannot be struck at directly, but those around him can be. The princess is the principle target, preferably before she is pregnant, but if necessary after. The mixture of phoenix down would summon an elemental even through the wards. Much is flammable in the dining hall, and the princess is flammable said the master. The down fire are concealed at the back of the vinegar cupboard.

By giving me honor, you protect my wife and kits. He cannot then in honor act against them for my failure. He will obey those; all who partake of the blood of the rakshasa, lawful or chaos, good or evil, will obey those.

Three primary, and three secondary: 1. If one dies with honor, their liege must provide for and protect their kits and kin. 2. Any agreement that is made and sealed in blood must be obeyed. 3. Those things which you have declared by your blood to be your truth and your way cannot be willingly abandoned unless you are willing to suffer the penalties for it.

Secondary. 1. Every rakshasa must choose a single path. Having chosen a path you can refine that, but you cannot change that. 2. There can be no mercy to the racial enemy. The vermin that serve the cthon must be fought until none of the rat cthon remain or until none of the rakshasa remain. 3. No rakshasa of the rank of baron or above may deliberately harm the powerless or the innocent, unless of course they be a servant of the cthon of rats.

Why would the prospective children of the princess not count as powerless or innocent? Once they are born, they would.

What has the Abomination of Shur declared to be his truth and his way? That he will divide all of the felines between himself and the Lord of Cats, and that he will strip away some portion of the power of the Lord of Cats and of those who serve him. There was a time, and I would swear to you, when he had a cleaner route than he has taken in recent decades.

What changed that?

You know that he was mortal once. When he became immortal, when he started step by step on the path, those greater than he took notice of him. The Lord of Cats did not deign to even give a flick of his paw to him, which showed how little he thought of him as a threat; and at least two greater demon lords, and other demons that were great but may not have been lords, spoke to him of friendship, and alliance, and the future, giving him power to strip away from the Lord of Cats until he was no more. It seemed to some as if they corrupted him to their way of thinking.

It seems you don’t agree.

Can you truly corrupt what is not already there? Those of us whose families have served him for generations… if there is no jealousy in your heart, do you become jealous?

Alistair says, I thought that the Abomination of Shur was indirectly aligned with the Horned Rat.

Dame Brionna asks, doesn’t that violate the second principle?Certainly the Lord of Cats would say so. But the Abomination would say, there is no reason to not be clever. And since the ultimate result would be to triumph against the cthon of rats, and against the Horned Rat who appears to be one of his avatars. That is why the lesser ones might be willing to come over. There is much conversation in the quiet of the evening.

I would argue… I would think that an argument could be made that my lord intends tremendous harm. But there is a trick in this. All of the prohibitions will cease to bind when he becomes fully a demon. It may be that they are already weakening. I do not like to think of this. It causes my soul to shudder.

Do not offer the coercer the deal that you have offered me. He is not of our blood, though he may appear to be. I cannot explain what he is. I do not understand it.

Can I take the picture from your mind? Certainly.

He appears to be a regal seeming rakshasa. He smells wrong. He looks like a noble of baronial rank, but all you need do is bend your nose to him and you can tell that he is not.

Your people do not smell as easily do they? Take a dog—it will cringe as far from him as it can get.

Where can we find the coercer? They are in the third ward of your city. There is a structure near one of the temples of light—it looks like a third story tenement that is covered over with boards. Go into the basement, there is an entrance to the sewer there. When last I saw them, there was the coercer, two bodyguards, and four others waiting to infiltrate.

There is a rumor within the palace, that you run more than your own life. That your great master is very fond of your counsel, to an amount that would seem unseemly among my branch of the rakshasa. The servants believe that her travels in the night are very clever. They admire her for it. Their betters do not believe it.

The guards do not seem to think about it. They gossip about other things—when Princess Caitlyn will deliver a child. They have a pool on it.

Dame Brionna mentions that she is in fact engaged to an honorable man who is a slave of the Abomination.

Is he a slave in the place of keeping? A great spire that rises out of the sea, the steps are grey and green stones. The worst of the master’s allies practice their great sorceries there.

The last I know of him, he was on a stone ship.

All that are being gathered to the great hold, the place of keeping, are taken there for a great sacrifice by the allies. They intend to let through a great mind on the turning of the next season. (Fall equinox, 75 days from now more or less).

All those who are there will have some special power.

I ask in return that there is a woodcut with my wife and kits. If you take the hold, treat them as well as you can.

Coercing device: it is the size of a cup for café or chocolate, a closed side, with many facets, it is glass, but it looks to be crystal. When you pick it up, you feel its power, but it does nothing until you look into it at your eye. It is most likely that it will contain… in the old days, it would contain knowledge and a command to study the knowledge. He is not one of us… it could contain anything. There would not be a compulsion to look at it, but it is a pretty thing, and young ones tend to pick them up.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 52 cont'd]
We send paladins to look for it, we do some locate objects, we recall Lord Brightspan and warn him, we have people scry for it. We easily locate it; it’s on a shelf full of knick-knacks in the pages’ quarters. It appears to be empty.

We summon all of the pages, starting with Abigail. We ask the Farsensor if he can detect who got it. "Oh… that’s a crude mind, isn’t it? The youngest one. So odd to say for your people. It’s the youngest one—the ork.

"It’s an interesting set of commands. He’s been given… oh, how incredibly clever. The series of commands the child has been given, he’s not even aware of. He’s been given just enough ability to map the wards, without realizing he’s doing it. He got it last evening. It’s strictly a method of reading out information and sending it on—burst mode when he goes outside the walls."

It extinguishes itself once it activates.

We need a decent coercer to transfer it.

Kit asks one of her rumor mongers. She’s excited, she’s energetic, she’s enthusiastic, she has no idea what psionics are except for the fact that they’re an important part of the kingdom.

We then have a fake version of the wards built out, designed to steer them into the strongest parts and make their attacks fail as much as possible. It then burst transmits off, and the Farsensor confirms that there is not a trace of it left in her head afterwards.

Dame Brionna chews out the Master of Pages for not maintaining a higher security approach.

The rakshasa does not know the Abomination’s true name. There are things that could be done to him if you had his true name, more and more as he becomes more and more demon. There are some who might know his true name; the lord demons may have exchanged such information to seal the pack. His first sorcerer might. All others who would know were slain a millennium ago.

Awkward meeting with Caitlyn:

Kit prepares for this, wearing a dress, one of her relatively non-low-cut gowns. She is looking as respectable council member as she can get.

She goes to meet Caitlyn in a very private, official meeting room.

“Good afternoon, your majesty.”

“Good afternoon, Dame Katherine.”

“Thank you for meeting with me.”

“You know far more of this place than I do. I’m honored you would wish to meet with me.”

“Well, you are an important person. And it’s about time that we met. What have you heard of my position at court?”

“That you are one of the Archduke’s advisors. That you were elevated from the commons for great service and loyalty.”

“That’s all you’ve heard?”

“Well… there are one or two that believe that you may be the Hand, but there are one or two that believe that every woman in the palace is the Hand. And there are one or two that believe that you may be the eye. And the body imagery used for this palace’s secret service is very disturbing.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“I am one of the people responsible for keeping you safe, and Alistair safe.”

“You seem to be doing a good job.”

“And I will continue doing that. My first job is keeping you and Alistair safe, and I will continue doing that. There is something else you need to know. It doesn’t change anything, and I will keep keeping you safe. I just came from seeing to the death of someone who was striking at you.”

“Oh…it’s not from one of your own people? Alistair seems an enlightened ruler.”

“No. We have outside enemies. It wasn’t the first and it won’t be the last. But that’s why the Council is here, and why all the body parts are there. To keep Alistair safe, and you safe, and Canberry. But the reason I said all of that first is that there’s something else you need to know. And I’m telling you so that you can hear it from me. Alistair and I… I’m not just his advisor. We’re closer than that, and we have been for some time.”

“Oh, that was not the rumor at all.”

“Really? I thought that it was one of the ones in circulation.”

“No, it was not one of the two rumors about his lover. The dominant one is that it’s the Captain of the Guard. The other is that the Mistress of the Bedchamber is actually the mistress of the bedchamber. Some people thought that the fact that would be so obvious is why it is so clever.”

“I have to be glad that I’m not obvious. It’s my job to not be obvious. But…”

“Now, you do realize that I have no wish to displace your personal affections. I do wish to bear his heir.”

“That’s what you’re supposed to do. I’m here to protect Canberry, and part of that means a stable succession, which means you getting an heir legitimately.”

“I am somewhat relieved it is you. I was inclined toward the Mistress of the Bedchamber, but she knows a great deal about fertility. I feared a bastard.”

“My first job is to see that you stay safe to give Alistair an heir. After that… I’m not making any promises.”

“After that, it won’t be important.”

“There’s no way I could ever be in your place, either. I’m a foreigner, and common born, and …”

“I think that I learned in the camps that the strength of your character is more important than the blood in your veins. I will rule my people because they wish me to be. Alistair will be a ruler because of his relationship to me, but his son will be a ruler in truth of both peoples. And I believe that Alistair will help my people become a nation again in truth.”

After a moment: Caitlyn says brightly: “Tea?” She chats calmly for a while, trying to make sure Kit is at her ease.

About an hour later, when Kit is getting ready to take her leave, alarms start going off all over the palace, and the palace wards flare up.

The alarms are slowly being shut off. But it appears that they were all simultaneously set off.

Dame Brionna asks the Sixth Daughter. "That had to be a very powerful magic or psionic wave. It may have had nothing to do with us, but it washed over here." Kit tries to contact the Farsensor, but finds it blocked by incredibly powerful shields. She then reaches out with her fan. One of her contacts responds. We all heard it. There was a great declaration from the fairgrounds; it wasn’t in a language I understood, and then there was a great flare of light.

Abruptly, the shields blocking psionics from going in and out drop. Kit then reaches out to the Farsensor—Kit senses a tremendous amount of energy, part of which he is generating.

<<We are well. Her most celestial presence detected one of the first-comers, one of the seen unseen, among the merchants.>>

Dame Brionna heads off. She sees the globe of energy before she gets there. Many of the festival goers are far closer to it than they should be. The globe is surrounding a figure that is going through a series of shapes more and more rapidly.

“May I ask what occurred here?”

“We were but walking through, and this creature was posing as a merchant. A merchant of highly spiced foods, and I sensed a sickness coming on the people who were eating the food. At first I thought it was an error, for humans do not always preserve foods well, meaning no offense. I reached out to correct the imbalance in the food, and he knew me, and I knew him. It was one of the seen-unseen, a hieshi. We contained it. If it remains in a full globe, it will die, but it must die. I do not know if you have any means to rip answers from its soul.”

“Can we coerce it?”

“Yes."

"Could you move it?”

“Yes. I can move it wherever you would wish, but I will not allow it to regain contact with its source.”

“I believe that my sense is that you have about an hour and a half left before he implodes.”

A coercer arrives. “What do you want forced out of it, m’lady?”

“For starters, who it is working for and what it was trying to do?”

“Distribute the final ingredient.”

“The spice—it’s the spice, they mixed it into the spice and were moving from fair to fair.”

“What other fairs? I’ll give you a map.”

“How long did it take to get to all of these places?”

“Doesn’t have a good sense. Doesn’t have time in its place.”

“If they don’t come into contact with the other parts, will wear off. In months. If it meets the other parts, will sicken and die.”

“Other images—fire and people with pitchforks and hoes fighting soldiers. Clear image of rioting. That’s what he hopes for with this.”

“Are there others?”

Beads of sweat roll down the coercers face. “His mind says that with his capture we’ve captured all but one.”

“He only knows his last guise—it’s last guise was as a wise woman travelling with herbs in the southeast, heading this way though. He knows that she was supposed to get here sometime shortly after him; he’s been here a day.”

Kit asks him to run through the others. He goes through them, listing the ones who were distributing poison.

Is there a ritual significance to the poison and the deaths?

I don’t see any. The significance seems to be that they hope it will cause rioting.

Who is his immediate superior?

Concept doesn’t make sense to him.

Who told him to do this?

He has a better understanding—I have a picture, it seems to be a human woman. An elegantly dressed, emaciated human woman, with gold at every point where she could have gold.

Alistair recognizes that image; that is the older sister of the fairly nice daughter of the Empress of Hanal. Somehow, she was responsible for bringing him here—like she summoned him? My expertise is only in psionics, not magic, but its image is that she brought him here.

Which of the Pariah Deities does it serve? The Goddess of the Pale Bone, and then the coercer collapses, although he does not actually lose consciousness.

The thing in the globe explodes, but as it explodes the elves contract the sphere and turn the explosion inside out.

[Dame Brionna gets a point of serendipity—In some random ways, upset the plans of the enemy or allow our own plans to come to fruition, one time. Five more calendar days and people would have started dying.]

We discuss what to do about this. Three possibilities come to mind: try to have her whacked directly; tell the Empress of Hanal; tell the Inquisition (and suggest that we haven’t been able to confirm that the Empress of Hanal is uninvolved in this)

[End Session 52]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 53 (December 15, 2011)

[Exposure to the elves bonus: +1 morale bonus to the City for the next 10 years; health benefit, 1d5 years of life added to the lives of everyone currently alive in the city; individual lives saved, Con scores fixed, etc.]

Skard 16
We talk to Lord Davion about grabbing/destroying the coercer.

Examining the crystal object; “these things have caused more wars than all of the jealousies of humans put together. People use these toys to manipulate human kingdoms, but even more the lesser people. He has no finesse—not paragon level, but he has great power reserves. And they are right—there is something wrong with it, although not demonic.” “Old One related?” “Perhaps… I never had much dealing with them.”

Lord Davion asks if he could contact an old friend, who he hasn’t seen in 7000 years, a member of the High Court of the Cities of Pain. He is a member of House Curini’rim. We agree but with some preparations to avoid “awkwardness” with the Princess from the other branch of the elves.

Lord Davion sends an invitation to his friend for 3 PM that afternoon.

Dame Brionna approaches the Eldar embassy. She can see both the very large group of very disciplined guards, and the huge crowds of people patiently waiting to be filtered through.

“Good commander, I hope that you are not being unduly disturbed by our people.”

“Not at all; the Lady is deeply moved and pleased to offer the succor of … of the Light to them.”

They step into private (he has something he wants to mention as well).

“This afternoon, an ally who is a friend of our Champion, will be visiting. He is a member of House Curini’rim, a member of the High Court of the Cities of Pain.”

“A yes, I remember him. He is a first-comer, as is the Lady, as am I. He was not a bad sort, although misled. There won’t be any problems.”

“Two things the Lady wishes you to be aware of. Some of the people who are coming to her have one or two parts of a tripolar poison. She thought you should know. She is cleansing them of the parts that they have in them.”

We know and are trying to deal; do you know what the poison would do?

“Oh, yes; a very serious thing. A tripolar poison—you know how those work?”

“Yes; salt, smoke, and spices.”

“That would work. It would begin with vomiting, and then proceed—degenerative, cannot be cured without deep redaction and skin. Over 10 days, dehydration and organ failure. Extremely painful. And the bodily fluids of a victim—sweat, blood, and vomit—would trigger any other victims exposed to even one part. It is unnecessarily cruel—the sort of thing that depraved minds would come up with.”

(Alistair points out that the poisoning would look like plague then… and since plague is not possible because the Gods won’t allow it, an apparent plague would create the inference of severe divine displeasure.)

“Could the Lady purify the salt itself? Or create a purifying agent?”

“Let me consult the metaconcert.”

“The Lady says yes, but that she will need access to a high-level alchemical laboratory and several trained assistants. We are not trained to assist her in that.”

“I will consult with the Minister of Magic.”

The representative of the metaconcert folds her hands and waits.

<<Kit—make me look good.>>

Kit arranges things with the Minister of Magic. The Minister and nine other volunteers will be available.

Her Grace will be ready when we close the healing pavilion for the night.

Second: Are you aware that a certain number of the young people have the potential to become psionically aware, and not only are not being awakened, but are being drained and shut away.

Wait—deliberately?

Oh yes… we can see the cysts. I can see the cysts. It’s dreadful.

We would be most interested.

There is a similarity between the cases. I’ve collected the names. They all seem to be, oddly, if we understand your system correctly, in the upper levels of the gentry and the lower levels of the nobility. Some came who were only sick in that they carried a cyst. But it has happened so long and for so much time, that all she could do was lance the cysts to restore health, not remove the cyst.

All done while they were children, very young, well before menarche. After the weaning from milk, but before food becomes fully solid, that things must be done. Then only the seed is planted, but it is then self-perpetuating.

How does the seed get planted? Usually a mental image, the Lady’s guess is projected in, that scares the child of its own powers. Could be done through an object, more likely through a person.

(Alistair says this sounds like the effect we found on the Duke of Brightspan.)

Kit has a conversation with the Minister of Mind.

“That’s ridiculous… we test for psionic abilities at age 14.”

“That’s the thing… it happens at age 1 or 2.”

We have a list of names; we need to check their younger siblings. Wealthy families, too late for wet nurses, probably a nurse or governess, could be a toy shop.

Kit pairs up her people with the Minister’s.

We send out a bunch of people to search for the last seen-unseen; paladins, Kit’s people, city guards. We have them watched by location so we can find disappearances. They are strictly instructed that this is an intelligence gathering operation. We also have some strike teams put together—this is strictly seek and destroy.
[cont'd]
 

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