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Aphonion Tales: The Archducal Council -- Unedited notes (posts MWF, most recent 9/20/21)

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 41 (Sept. 30, 2008)
30 O-Kas

To-do list:
Check out throne
Get report from further examination of Privy Secretary’s office—also, search her outside rooms and her apartment again
Meet with Lord Silverleaves re the Sea Elf in Simbolisi

Dame Brionna reports 11 airships headed towards the capital from the eastern border

They do not appear to be flying any flags, and they are odd looking for airships—broad across the beam, which is uncommon for military ships, plus that large glass fronting would not be useful in a military action. (Could be crystal, but definitely not Eldar or Noldar.)

“Gnomes,” says Alistair. I’ve never heard of 11 Gnomish airships in one location, but they look gnomish.

We have no ranking gnomes on staff.

That could be like 5000 gnomes.

We call for Lord Silverleaves

He identifies them as cargo vessels for livestock

Kit suggests they may be fleeing.

We send some airships to buzz them. (Dame Brionna orders them to be ready to defend themselves if the gnomes attack.)

We then discuss other matters

I am told there is a Sea Elf who is high in the council of the Doge of Simbolisi

He is an outstanding Sea Elf; he has dealt with humans for many years, as I have. Why do you ask?

We believe a here’ku has infiltrated the Holy Church and seeks to gain control over the psionic resources there.

That would be very bad. Simbolisi alone could create a strong tower.

I could arrange a conference tomorrow evening if you wish, and I can conceal your identity.

We agree. He says that he will begin the forms to set up the conference, and inform the Queen of Singing Leaves.

We discuss the Principality of Korflok intelligence [received as a separate document by Kit, but I'm putting it in the text here]:
Special report unto the Mouth
From the Lobes of the Brain

Re: Principality of Korflok

Honored Mouth – we have been attempting to sort out the situation in the Principality of Korflok.

Firstly, there are 27 houses major and 46 houses minor – the heads of each of the houses is named in order of power together with his or her mated house if married. So for example Lady Torringvale-Bufolk is the ruler of house Bufolk – because Torringvale is a higher ranked house – the Torringvale name comes first, though she is ruler of Bufolk. On the other hand, Lord Tattenburgh-Torringvale is Lord of Tattenburgh.

The Principality is stronger that it appears – which explains the very slow rate at which Hanal has been able to expand into its territory. That strength is two fold – firstly, the houses have larger standing militaries than most houses would be expected to – and while there is little if any "civilian" use of magic (beyond hedge-witchery) several of the nobles however are powerful magi with significant surrounding "circles" of powerful companions. Most significant in that regard is Lady Elandra Duffingdor-Gladtor – a very powerful half-sidhe magi who is a particularly zealous follower of Glor'diadel and one of the most potent elementalists in our record – other than some of the first born.

It is the belief of the Lobes that using extremely delicate methods, it is probably possible to approach Lady Duffingdor-Gladtor on shared goals. A religious angle would be suggested. The House of Gladtor's personal chaplain is Father Patrick Everett Hendrick, OMD. The honored Lady is a daily communicant and the chaplain is very busy on a continuing basis. There are two children of the Lady's body – Terrance and Cynthia, but she has also accepted the nedestro son of her consort – Brendon Duffingdor-Gladtor – Lawrence Whitesmith (Gladtor), who is older than either of the children of her body and nears manhood rituals. It is noteworthy however, that while the Lady caused Madam Clarissa Whitesmith to be well placed in the Torringvale-Invald household- she is forbidden to enter Gladtor lands on pain of death – and Lawrence, who has been fully fostered into the household (and is showing signs of the silent arts) is forbidden to see his birth-mother - though he does not seem inclined to see her in any event. Her reputation is one of excess under possible circumstances, and the possibility of past abuse exists, though no one has approached the young man for any confirmation.

This report will be followed by a break down list of the houses and their rulers within a few days or a week or so.

Respectfully submitted.

The lobes of the brain, with the assistance of certain fingers.
[end report to Kit]
[Cont'd]
 

Attachments

  • Report to Dame Brionna Oct 1 2008.pdf
    16.4 KB · Views: 29

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 41 cont'd]
We ask Father Waters to make contact with Lady Duffingdor-Gladtor’s chaplain, who is also OMD, to warn them about threats to sidhe descended children (and thus to open a line of communication).

He repeats back the response: Thank you. An attempt was made 3 weeks ago, Terrance. Larry stymied at cost, is in infirmary recovering. Prisoners not talking. Light be with you.

A couple hours later, to simulate Father Waters running that info up to us, we send back:
“Message from Archduke: we have experience with these kidnappers. Do you need aid? Psionic coercion available, worked before. Anything we should know to help you?”

Response: Honored Lord - 4 men, longtime servants, bizarre - like new, speak - rising in north - won't eat. No coercers here. Lady thanks - teleport point? Send to you!

We send back the location of our secure teleport platform, and tell them to wait so we can move more guards into position.

Lady Brionna goes to supervise. At precisely the point requested, four bound men with two men in incredibly heavy armor and a single tall slender, almost certainly full-blooded sidhe male in heavily brocaded robes appear.

“On behalf of my niece, I thank you for this offer, my Tor is without the abilities that you offer.”

Dame Brionna makes pleasantries, as does the sidhe. “His Grace would be glad to meet you in the fey garden.”

Young Lord Brightspan checks all of them. “Yes. They’re deeply muddled. Well, those two men aren’t… they’re just tired.”

Kit. “Muddled in what way?”

“Their thoughts… they can’t come together. Muddled.”

We analogize to the Debonai stuff.

We meet with the Sidhe. On a bardic knowledge check, Alistair concludes that the curlicue on his robes is a Sidhe script depicting the whole history of the Tor.

Pleasantries. My niece also sends her greetings, and this small gift.

Alistair pretends to be a Glor’diadelian zealot; the sidhe (who is not Glor’diadelian), buys it completely. [I don't remember why Alistair feigned zealotry. Maybe to make Lady Duffington-Gladtor more friendly?]

These were long-time—by human standards—servants of my niece’s household. The attack was unexpected, but apparently their principal did not expect Lawrence to intervene on his brother’s behalf. He has some experience with the sword. While he struck down one, his brother ran to get help. Then sadly my niece asked me, and I have applied the healing arts and the magical arts to no avail. They do not take nourishment or water; it is almost as if they have forgotten how.

Feared it was a Hanalian plot—the Tors in Korflok oppose Hanal, but I do not think it can be Hanal. They talk of a rising in the North, but the only thing in the North to rise is Hanal. “Beware the North shall rise and all will be consumed.”

We have found no unusual movements of money, nor do their consorts. Their consorts seem normal, as do their offspring. But none can do that—there are no circles besides the Tors, and the Tors could not do that, even if they had turned to the unseelie.

Kit: More likely someone newly arrived.

We have a fair amount of trade for a nation this far north, but with Ecsilias and Enclaves… we could not check all of the ones who have come.

Alistair: Last time we saw something like this, we believe it was an alliance of the unseelie and something darker.

What could be darker than the Unseelie… Unless you mean the ancients?

A: <raises eyebrow until he gets it> A rising in the north could mean an uprising. Or it could be the physical rising of one of the fallen places of old. Are there any legends of such there?

Old legends of something to the north of Dragonbone Pass. The long way when white dragons used to strike at the earliest settlements, before Hanal, before the human nations were formed. There were legends of a place of gibbering madness, of tentacles, and of torment and death to all brought to the citadel, and the worship of a god who is not a god.

Kit: What sort of god who is not a god?

I would have to ask the sage of my tor. I am principally a warrior and a … a medicine man. (was going to say priest, but decided against it because of Alistair’s “zealotry”).
[End Session 41]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 42 (October 21, 2008)
31 O-Kas

To-do list:
Check out throne
Respond to report from skyship in the south about the traitor army
Get report from the further searches re: the Privy Secretary
Salt stuff
Conference with the Sea Elf at Simbolisi
Decide what to do with the prisoners from Korflok
Ping Kit’s agent in Debonai
Added: meeting with Dame Constance

The council receives three messages (attached).

We start looking at the salt issue. We sent people to buy salt at whatever exchange we could buy at. We found that at Hanal, they were bought out, and the futures were exorbitant. Since the letter doesn’t name the merchant, it’s impossible to tell if the merchant is someone specifically working for us.

We discuss sending a response back, probably in drowan.

There are about a half-dozen total binary poisons—almost all are used exclusively by the dark elves. (In theory, the illithid have one, but effects on surface dwellers are unknown.)

We call for the Sixth Daughter.

She estimates this would have cost about 1000 gold on the surface.

Based on the months of activity, it must be purehh—an extract from certain mushrooms, harmless unless added to a cave eel’s blood.

Would kill about 9 out of 10 humans, but 19 out of 20 drow.

I have seen it used twice; the deaths were among the least pleasant I have seen.

The cave eel’s ichor would also be very expensive. It would have to be purchased, dried, and applied to a different food supply. They would have to enter it into another type of food commonly consumed. Dried mushrooms or the like.

(We clarify that would be wheat or flour, which would result in spoiling in reactions in bread)

The ichor would run about 2000 gold. Once dried and powered, it is stable, and could be stored for a couple of years.

Kit—how is it destroyed?

If put in water or alcohol, its potency is reduced, and it could be disposed of safely.

Can we track them through the money?

How many merchants sell this poison? One or two per city among the rebel drow; less among those who follow the Noldar, because it is forbidden

There is a slight taste to the primary agent; the activating agent is all but impossible to detect. An alchemist specifically looking for it has a chance, but once it is distributed, unlikely.

We ask Mahler to figure out who bought a lot of salt in Enclaves two days ago.

We also ask the Sixth Daughter to look into this. Dame Brionna also asks her to look into how the fae can breach our defenses. She says she’ll look into it. Alistair says to not harm any of the resident fae. Which investigation takes precedence? The poison.
[cont'd]
 

Attachments

  • Report to Dame Kit from Middle Toe (Delivered secretly with her breakfast).pdf
    17.8 KB · Views: 34
  • To Alastair from Princess Moriquendirim.pdf
    36.8 KB · Views: 33
  • Unto Dame Brionna of Stanway from Flight Captain William Smith.pdf
    25.7 KB · Views: 30

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 42 cont'd]
We move on to discussing the two armies in the south.

Brionna: Mindless humans aren’t subject to morale, or hopeless situations. Is it a magical effect, or some drug being added to the food?

Kit agrees to look into it.

We have several Rakshasa allies in that area.

We call for the Minister of War, the Minister of the Mind, and (just to make him feel included) the Minister of Magic. Varance Tuttle, Grandmaster Petrov, and Dame Viola Tusslefield meet us in the Map Room.

Dame Brionna asks about the source of the effect on the humans.

Grandmaster Petrov—though it has the sound of coercion, a sufficient body of coercion would require a psionic center that we could detect from here, and certainly the Eldar would have noticed it.

K--What about affecting the officers and spreading out?

Petrov—would be easier, but still likely to be affected.

Tuttle—I suggest we call for Dame Constance, your grace—it sounds demonic to me.

We send for her.

Tusslefield—do we know the total number of troops in these armies?

Yes. We tell her.

Tusslefield—even discounting the trolls, it is a force of about 4 field armies. They may have speeded up because the Order of the Falcon is en route.

Do the minor castles—the rakshasas and the grey elves—slow them significantly? Or should they fall back to join our marshals and armies?

Tusslefield—in my opinion, they should fall back. They might slow them by an hour. But together, they add a legion and a half of men, plus very powerful officers. The Rakshasa may feel that honor requires them to fight. They will certainly send their children to safety.

We talk about this. Then Lady Constance and her apprentice (half drowan) arrive.

We fill her in.

“Yes. That fits with what I’ve uncovered. This alliance we are facing may be playing a very, very deep game. It seems that a very long time ago, there was a different type of demons in the abyss than those we are used to know. They were connected, indirectly, to the forbidden gods, the old, dead gods. As those gods’ hold on this reality was lost, they were weakened. Their most powerful were cast down, and in some cases destroyed. But the wisest of them, including their queen, appeared to accept their new places gracefully. Over centuries, the new hierarchy accepted their groveling servitude, and stopped watching their actions. I believe that they are behind this, for their desires do not match either the rest of the demonic hierarchy’s goals or Borsh’tro’s, although in a sense they match Borsh’tro—destroy the world, gaining power in the process. We think they may actually not wish to let the Old Ones all the way back in, but just enough to restore the power of the firstcomer demons. So there are schemes within schemes. But the one behind this effort to elevate the Abomination—an ossyrith queen whose name, or at least use name, I hope to have tomorrow—includes the power of somnambulance. Those around her servant will have their will sapped, as her demonic attributes enter them, and they are bound to her will. The easiest way to stop it is to kill her servant. But they gain power from her demonic attributes—toughness, resistance to fire, etc. There would be at least 3 dozen in a group this side. They have no great power or defenses with regard to the mind.

Could we detect their location from the malign aura?

I think I could, with the help of a Farsensor.

That would be highly useful.

Good. This same being is greatly strengthened by the sacrifice of sentient beings. It is possible that the Abomination is of her making and shares her hatreds, for it is said that she truly hates elvenkind in all of its forms. Should I keep looking for her use name?

Is that useful?

Only if I can find her true name.

Then finding her servants is the priority.

Would there be particular value to Rakshasa sacrifices?

Rakshasa are spiritually powerful, have much magic, and many have powerful psionic abilities. Plus, many abandoned her puppet and turned to serving the Lord of Light.

Lady Constance leaves.

Alistair: How would we attack the three dozen if we find them?

Kit: some long-range psionic attack?

Brionna: We could teleport people in.

Kit: but if they are distributed throughout the army, and if they are in the middle of the army…

Alistair: so Grandmaster Petrov, what sorts of offensive psionic resources do we have?

Very few near my power.

What would we need for an attack?

Most likely, someone with a psionic focusing device within range.

Alistair: How close is that?

Petrov: Arrowshot? Perhaps an Eldar or Noldar Paragon level coercer, but I do not think we have any.

What about in Forest of Singing Leaves?

Very few Eldar, but circles of grey elves might work. But someone would need to bring a psionic focusing device in.

(We plan to recruit the Rakshasa for that.)

Tuttle: We should be prepared for blowback. The demons are well aware of their weaknesses—it has often led to defeats for them in the past. The elder demons appear to have less of this weakness. If we do this, we should be prepared for blowback. They may manifest, or send other monsters, or something, there, here, wherever the circles are?

Are demons permitted to manifest on the Prime without being summoned? Aren’t there agreements among the gods?

Demons are not permitted. But those other things are not demons, exactly, are they? If they precede the Compact, and are not signatories, they are not bound by it.

We send messages to the Rakshasa and gray elves, asking them to fall back to where our armies are; telling them that the army is coming, that people like them are particular targets for sacrifices, and that it would be a very bad thing for the enemy to be strengthened by killing them; that (for the Rakshasa) we have a special, very dangerous, crucial to defeating the enemy task that we want them to take on, but that we can’t describe until they are with our army; and that Canberry will guarantee their lands to them or their heirs after the war if they fall back now, so they will not be giving up their territory. DM asks for 7 d20 rolls in response. 19, 12, 9, 3, 1, 9, 16
[End Session 42]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 43 (January 5, 2009)
1 Skard

To-do list:
Check out throne
Respond to report from skyship in the south about the traitor army
Get report from the further searches re: the Privy Secretary
Salt stuff
Conference with the Sea Elf at Simbolisi
Decide what to do with the prisoners from Korflok
Ping Kit’s agent in Debonai
Meet with Lady Constance again

* * * *
Kit received an early morning report from the Sixth Daughter.
As Kit depart chambers early in the morning, to check with your secretary/clerk before the actual council meeting -- a young boy who you think serves in the kitchen, who is oddly lounging around as near to the royal chambers as he can get, jumps up from a love seat and passes you a short note. The note is blank, but the words appear within your mind as you hold it, the voice is that of the Sixth Daughter: "I have not been able to identify either part of the binary poison within the city, BUT, I have identified another poison -- which has been sprinkled on the wood that has been seasoned for the smoke houses. I can nuetralize it, and I have the ability to make the nuetralizing agent, BUT, it will be very labor intensive both to make and distribute the nuetralizing agent, and I have no method of preventing a repeat distribution. I would not even have known to look if you had not set me upon this path -- even my people do not war upon the slave class -- why would anyone? There is no honor. Nontheless, I continue the search, but wished to advise you of this development -- so I set this report upon a path that I believe will cause it to be brought to you. Please advise me as you can."

Dame Brionna reports that the Black Witch is sending her daughter as well. [See attached]

The Kingdom of the Inner Isles, which is the Black Witch’s preserve, was traditionally a pirate kingdom—Paranswarmian, but nonetheless, a pirate kingdom. The current ruler became a witch, achieved the Black color pool, and then became less piratical and more of a great power. They are just off the south shore of Khamista, with a small conquered enclave on the coast of Khamista. They are in a state of permanent war with Tarsh.

She has sent her daughter, as an ally, under our power to do with as we wish—to slay or let live. The daughter is also a diabolist, like her mother. Her mother has sent her to us, because she has the sight from her patron, the Chancellor-General of the Order of Swarms, that we will face danger, and she hopes that she will help.

We call for the Chancellor. We will have court tomorrow. We’ll also announce gifts to follow at a high court a week later. We confirm that he has the sight. He is 68. He is married, with two healthy sons and a daughter, and grandchildren as well.

Lord Silverleaves takes us into a small room where he has hung silken ribbons in an odd pattern. Three can be concealed without difficulty.

He concentrates, and an image appears of a crashing sea, a fortified city, a tower, and then an odd mist forms over our vision, but across from us we can see another elf seated on a divan, holding a blue crystal who bows in the general direction of Lord Silverleaves. Lord Silverleaves is the only unshielded person and radiates power.

The other figure greets Lord Silverleaves, and he said that three of us.

We warn him about the here’ku, both generally and specifically. We ask him to arrange to grab the reverend canon.

I will speak to the Doge. I will have an answer in a day’s space.

We discuss warning the Noldar as well.

We also discuss Singing Leaves using circles of psions to attack the demon infused. He warns that the foci would face grave danger.

We have the Sixth Daughter whip up a couple of drafts warning the Noldar, phrased as further jests about foolish nobles who don’t watch carefully enough to realize that their children are being kidnapped and sold, not merely as slaves, but as sacrifices to the Old Ones.

[cont'd]
 

Attachments

  • Letter to Alistair from the Black Witch.pdf
    46.7 KB · Views: 34

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 43 cont'd]

When Kit slips off to the bathroom, she gets met by a random serving girl, who signed to Kit in Thieves’ Cant, come here and then went into the bathroom. “The Hand needs you at the Townhouse of the Inner Isles. Quick, before the Guard gets there and mucks everything up.”

Kit contacts one of her merchants with the fan. “Do you know where the townhouse of the Inner Islands is?”

“Certainly.”

“Get over there. We have a situation. I’ll send people to back you up. Be careful.”

Next, she sends a message to call some people in, and heads in to meet Alistair and Brionna. A royal guard rushes in and drops to one knee at a respectful distance.

“Your grace, the townhouse of the Inner Isles in the Second Circle—there appears to have been an incident there a while ago, but word has just reached me. The ambassador and his staff appear to be dead and decayed. They were discovered by the daughter of the Black Isles.”

We talk about what to do—Kit sends a message to him to tell the daughter to come to the Palace, while we send guards to cordon off the area until the right people can investigate.

A composed but extremely pale young woman comes out when Kit’s merchant arrives and shouts in for her to come out. A knight also comes out with her, along with a young maiden who looks disgusted.

Dame Brionna rides out to meet them, along with healers and guards.

Kit sends her people to check it out carefully.

Dame Brionna meets up with the group. The knight is the same knight who gave Dame Brionna the letter. He is also clearly guiding the noblewoman. She has a taint of evil around her, but it doesn’t appear to be her evil, and it clings to the rings she is wearing, which are evil. He does not detect evil at all. She is attractive in a youthful fashion-- appears to be 13 or 15. The girl is clearly her handmaiden. She is probably not permitted to be in the presence of a man without the knight or her handmaiden or both.

“Greetings, your grace. His Grace’s deepest apologies for what has happened, which we are investigating. May I escort you to more hospitable quarters?”

“Thank you, honored dame. I admit this has been a shock. I am sorry for my demeanor.”

Dame Brionna takes her to warded rooms, warns her against summoning or the like, and assures her that she will be safe there.

The knight checks the chamber, then signals for the serving girl to remain with the lady and meets with Dame Brionna quietly. “He had been dead for weeks. Her cousin had been feasted upon. I had seen wounds like that before, but only on battlefields against dragons or demons or the like. Had he discharged his duties at the coronation?”

“He was not present.”

“Then he had already been slain. The casket was missing—he brought an elven laen ring. It was of little use for our Kingdom, but we thought it might be of use to your realm.”

“That would have been most useful, but it was not received.”

The evidence from the house: the ambassador and all of his staff, including the captain of the voller he came on were killed. The voller may have been stolen. Nine dead in all, the staff were killed with swords and axes, the ambassador was killed by the creature that ate his heart and brains. Injuries both before and after death. Nothing stolen except the casket with the laen ring, and the voller probably. Lots of money and jewelry left behind.

We call the Chancellor back in to find out who represented the Kingdom of the Inner Isles. “Witch Katharine Woolsey. Odd, that. Nearly all of the Inner Isles’s witches are diabolists, but she wore no rings.”

Where does she live?

At the townhouse of course. And with a princely gift, of 4 tapestries, none younger than 1000 years. They are in the vault, waiting a decision on whether to hang them.

Dame Brionna sends a team to the vault to check out the tapestries—one cleric of Glor’diadel, one psion from the Ministry of the Mind, one mage from the Ministry of Magic, and a paladin. They roll badly. The priest decides that there is an odd absence around the tapestries. The mage, however, comes back thoughtful. In some ways, those tapestries are connected to the Void.

What could that be used for?

Usually, my estimate, mind effects. Slow, insidious changes in personality and mind.

What specific effects?

Two cases I’m aware of where Void-laced objects were exposed to people for a prolonged time. One case, in a monastery, depression spread among the monks until they all died by their own hand. The other case, more famously, was a Void-linked book. It was read by a mage who subsequently went mad in a crowded market place. Resulted in over 50 deaths before he was put down by another mage.

Very insidious, and normal detection would fail, because it is not magical. I just happened to have an interest in Void.

Could be destroyed easily. Could also be ritually de-linked.

The creators of such things fall into two categories: madmen and those who serve nameless ancient things.

Dame Brionna says, “We need to do blood tests for everyone in the Court. What rationale?”

“What about our old cock and bull story about the parasites?”

The next morning, we’ll have to deal with the poison in the woods for the smokehouses.
[End Session 43]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 44 (January 26, 2009)
2 Skard
To-do list:
Court
Check out throne
Respond to report from skyship in the south about the traitor army
Get report from the further searches re: the Privy Secretary
Salt stuff
Poison in the smokehouses
Report back from Sea Elf at Simbolisi (expected today)
Decide what to do with the prisoners from Korflok
Ping Kit’s agent in Debonai (about interrogating people involved in the plots)
Follow-up on the Inner Isles stuff?
Meet with Lady Constance again

We talk about Kit’s reports. Alistair suggests hiring the merchants involved as spies, in addition to buying the rapier.

Informing both the Empress of Masque and the Inquisition in Masque about the Here’ku; trying to get the Empress of Masque’s child a present when it is born (maybe some sort of protective items)

WRT Dame Hilda, who was the commander at Grokken, we can just announce that she’ll get an honor at the high court, and the financial or land grant that will come with that will take care of the issue. She has no children, but a minor sister (14 or so; we think Dame Brionna arranged a placement for her?) and a widowed mother, both of whom are substantially without resources.

Dame Brionna has two reports—one from Sir Derek Brightspan about Caldra; Caldra is largely secured, with the exception of two of the lesser salt mines, which he is besieging but have some orc shamans holed up in them. The bad news is that normally orcs take prisoners, but they haven’t been in this case, impaling and crucifying some of the villagers. The only survivors he has found are a number of women who have been badly mistreated and some few survivors who made it through the crucifixions. The second message is from the leader of the Rakshasa, enthusiastically accepting the suggestion of the tactics. But they have seventy kittens, along with their chattels, that they would like to send to a safe place. They have 10,000 gold for their maintenance. They would also expect us to become the kittens’ guardians. Alistair says that he thought that was the plan all along. This seems to be the official version of that. We send a letter back agreeing.

Coronation scheduled for 8 Skard (Silver moon full, Red moon new) and the announcement of the betrothal/her public baptism for 9 Skard (same conditions)

We have a court. Kit is on-screen, scandalously dressed.

“Dame Brionna Stanway, Captain of the Archducal Guard and principal Military Advisor to the Archduke, and Dame Katherine of Lyneham, personal advisor to the Archduke.”

Dame Brionna notices a certain number of inclinations of the heads of some of the people attending the court incline as they recognize that the council will remain in place.

They notice a gloomy fellow in the corner from the City of the Twin Gates of the Dead, a Morgothian city. Young Lord Brightspan identifies him as “not really alive and not really dead.” Dame Brionna wants to reject him, but Alistair doesn’t want to make any more enemies. The Northern City is ruled by the Father of Wolves, and has both Noldar and undead. The Southern City is ruled by the Mother of Spiders (Lolth’s mother), which has almost no Noldar and about which little is known. They have 60,000 troops under arms.

The herald begins announcing and rattles through the dozens of people who are here, most of whom we recognize. Right after the Eldar, he announces Hierarch Theron, representing the Father of Wolves. A ways down the list, he announces the poor kid who is now the representative from Inner Isles, and someone from Tarsh, and then a bit further a representative from the Larmenon Hills, a gnome with a banner six times his height, and eventually the representative in exile from the Magocracy of Perdun. The last one that we don’t recognize is a magus representing the Translucent Mage, who also has diplomatic credentials. There is also a representative from Alistair’s Khamistan great aunt.

Alistair calls forward Hierarch Theron. He proffers a document, and says that it was Princess Curini’rim’s suggestion that the Father of Wolves send him.

Inner Isles goes smoothly.

The ambassador of Tarsh presents a gift from the King-Emperor, in a large crate. Six cases of our finest mountain wines for your cellar.

Alistair makes a hash of the gnome ambassador’s title and calls him forward. “On behalf of my people I am delighted to see you on the throne, your grace. I am pleased to say that your gift should be arriving soon.”

“Is that coming in a set of skyships?”

“Yes! Has it arrived?”

“In a manner of speaking… it’s within Canberry at least.”

Kit’s fan starts glowing. She “answers” it. She got a message via the fan which is really bad and mindlinks it through.

Suddenly a young, clear voice appears in your mind -- fear courses through you. You see the flank and stomach of a running woman, a hand gripped firmly together "Auntie" the voice cries. "Auntie -- it arises, you told me to tell you anything like this -- it arises" the point of vision suddenly turns over a child's shoulder, and you see neat village streets, a temple of Glor'diadel nearby, above the village, flying, you see an enormous demon, several other figures gathered about it -- all flying. In the distance the ivory walls of a city you recognize -- Brightspan. Fire flies from its hands, striking the tile roof of the church and driving the tiles into shards, balls of black flame fly down, striking several other buildings, which outriht explode -- as the demonic group proceeds west/south-west. The point of view suddenly shifts as the woman scoops up the viewer and runs, holding her skirt wtih the other hand, and dives into the lower entrance to the church -- probably an entrance into the village catacombs. The view determidly switches back to the doorway, across which you can see the procession of demonic force make its way, a minute later the viewer and the mother peers out of the door and you see several horsemen, led by a paladin, rising in their stirrups and firing bows as they go, a bolt of black fire from above and ahead strikes one of the horsemen, which goes limb over pizzle and lies still, the chase proceeds out of sight.
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 44 cont'd]
Kit tries to see if he’s alright, and he is but frightened. He’s fine but they are heading southwest.

The demons came out of the storm sewers—this village is where the storm sewers of Brightspan City come out. They are normally scavengers searching through the dregs of the city.

Alistair has Father Waters contact the Archbishop and the Duchess of Brightspan

The main demon is an abyssal knight, with heraldry involving a black maw over a tortured and constrained flame.

The knights are returning—a lot are dead. They kept firing arrows and the demons fled.

A page speaks to a herald, who speaks to Dame Brionna.

The Archbishop sends word that the demon horde and the accursed knight have departed Brightspan, they are headed toward the Spice Lands. They were harried by church knights -- but to little effect

Alistair calls a recess in the court.

Kit has ice on her; Alistair orders her to drop the mindlink.

We are sending off a group to engage the molydeus, and asking Lord Davion if he wants to go; he says he will prepare immediately. We also call in Lord Silverleaves to attempt to arrange for elven support, since chaotic forces will be less vulnerable to the Molydeus, and we send strike-steams to break the networks of power supporting the Molydeus and to the catacombs to clear out any support that the Molydeus has. Lord Silverleaves says that he will have a noble of Singing Leaves divert his pleasure schooner to engage the demonic hordes.
[End session 44]
 


CPaladin

Explorer
In this campaign world, neither rakshasa nor their rakasta followers are inherently evil. Some of them are very evil, some are aggressively good. I'm not sure off-hand whether there are substantial numbers of neutral ones, though.
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 45 (March 16, 2009)

2 Skard (continued)
We send for a redactor, and get an old woman. A very elderly (several hundred years old) half-elf is the first to respond. We swear her to secrecy. “On my honor and on my father’s honor, who was a Sindarim of the Forest of Singing Leaves, I so swear.”

Kit begins explaining how she coordinates her spy network and shows the redactor the fan.

“This is a powerful artifact. They built it to be usable by humans, but perhaps without the fullest understanding of humans. Things they would find easy to do mentally I find most difficult. Humans are a step weaker. The artificer made it so that it could be used by a human, but it was probably beyond her ability to limit its draw so that someone much weaker than me could use it easily.”

“Ah. That sounds like what happened. I was using it for a long period, with great need, and when I came out of it, I was ravenously hungry and covered in ice.”

“You should eat heartily after each time you use it. And other members of the Court who are aware of this should keep an eye on you. If you wait too long before you leave the trance, it can lower your body temperature, which can grievously harm or even kill. With practice, we can probably double the length of time you can safely use this within a few months. Have you had meat, cheese? High protein foods are best.”

“There are important people I need to contact, that I can only reach through the fan.”

“Then I will provide you with the energy. We will do a small version of a metaconcert. It must not extend beyond 5 minutes.”

Redactor: Variana of the House of Laranthiana

* * *

Kit contacts the little boy in Brightspan.

He is intently listening to the priest haranguing the crowd, but he’s watching the men of the village fighting the fires. He is clearly alright, but a number of people have been brought out of the buildings that were hit by the fireballs and are being triaged. The crowd is very scared, not particularly angry, there is murmuring but more of the fearful type than anything else. After a moment, the priest finishes and joins the acolytes and the 20 people or so who are laid out on the ground.

Kit looks at the child’s mother, who looks to be human—the child’s father is probably not human.

<<Are you alright?>>

<<I’m alright. Mommy’s alright. But some other people were hurt. I don’t think he’s coming back. I knew he was there ever since you told me so months and months ago before the great lady passed over, but he never budged. I knew because you told me so, and you always tell me the truth.>>

<<I’m going to tell you the truth again. I’m someone different. I’m still your friend, and I’ll still tell you the truth.>>

Pause and thought. <<Did she go with the Great Lady? Mommy told me some people did…>>

<<I’m sorry.>>

<<Are we still special?>>

<<You are still very special.>>

<<Okay. Do you look different?>>

<<Yes, I look different.>>

<<Okay. And do I still serve the Archduke?>>

<<You do. There are many people who will be saved because of you.>>

<<Okay. Should I send the weasels down the tunnels to make sure nothing is left?>>

<<Yes! I didn’t know you have weasels.>>

<<Animals like me.>>

<<Do you have other animals?>>

<<Chipmunks and squirrels, but they aren’t as smart as the weasels.>>

<<She came to the village when I was only six. And she spoke to me in my mind. And she said I could serve the Great Lady and her family, and that they would always take care of my mommy and me.>>

<<We will.>>

He gasps and looks up, and you see a beautiful ship with butterfly wings and a hull of crystal flying past, faster than the demons were going.

<<See that ship?>>

<<Elves!>>

<<Because you told us there was trouble, we sent elves to help.>>

<<Wow… I won’t know what the weasels say until tomorrow morning.>>
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 45 cont'd]
We return to the court.

We call the ambassador from the Magocracy of Perdun in exile, and a mage comes forward with a jeweled chest. “The Magocracy of Perdun in exile, and someday to be restored through the aid of our allies, is happy to present this gift to our friends in Glor’diadel here on this continent.” Dame Brionna opens the casket, which contains a gold egg on a bed of spun gold. “It is the right egg of a fey drake queen. It will hatch within weeks.”

Fey drakes are close relatives of faerie dragons, but they tend to be powerful spellcasters and psions. There are very few fertile fey drakes born, but they are the queens. They grow to about 3’ in length over 20 years, and are then very intelligent and live to about 200.

The most religious members of the court are applauding politely but enthusiastically. Servants of Morgroth exploded the Blue Mage on the Day of the Dead; the Magocracy collapsed. They’re still fighting against the Servants of Morgroth on the island; but they had harvested 2 million slaves from the commonfolk. The island is still being fought over, and the remaining surviving magi have formulated a council, the government in exile. At the same time, shadow creatures have become involved in the battle, so religious Glor’diadelians are virtually Crusaders for the cause of redeeming the island. There’s a fortified port established where expeditions are striking out. Remaining mages have lots of arcane power, little manpower.

Sadly, our forces of the Light currently committed elsewhere.

The representative of the Translucent Mage is next. He is a mage completely surrounded by whirling water. He genuflects. “Translucent offers the service of his network to your efforts. Where water flows, your voice can be heard.”

“We thank Translucent for his kind offer.”

“I have brought an adeptus. He is without. His control over his shroud is less firm.”

Next: The Crescent City alliance is delighted to send its representative and its eternal support to the nephew of our liege, and commends to his care six vollers to strengthen his navy.

“We thank the Crescent City Alliance for the great gift.”

That concludes the ambassadors.

There is no other business.

Alistair announces that there will be a high court to announce honors and to confer rewards on servants including military heroes like Sir Derek Brightspan.

One of the courtiers murmurs “It’s done, then. He has a firm grasp on the reins of power.”

The Sea Elf from Simbolisi sends back, “We will take him captive. Where do you want him delivered?”

We say that we will pick him up after they capture him.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 45 cont'd]
That evening, a page rushes in. “Lord Davion has appeared. He is injured, and he has another elf with him, and the Lieutenant of the Guard thinks that one is dying. He has asked for a member of the Court.”

We hurry to the teleport point. Lord Davion is with a tall, probably grey elf, who appears horribly burned. “The molydeus is vanquished, your grace, though I could not have done it alone. This is Lord Leansilas Talawar (“Crystal bough” Talawar, one of the 50 or so grey elves of Singing Leaves and Master of the Eagles of Singing Leaves), a grey elf of Singing Leaves. His ship is lost to him, his men are lost to him, and his place here is lost to him. He wanted to see those for whom he did this thing before he goes to the West.”

Alistair kneels beside him. “You can see only those who asked you to do these things, but those for whom he did these things are all the hundreds of thousands or millions of people throughout this continent who will be saved by him.”

He smiles painfully. “I can see by that response that it was well done. We pass to the West, one by one, and your people will stand when we have passed away. I can see that you will stand well.”

The priest reports to Dame Brionna that his healing cannot touch him at all.

Dame Brionna brings in some of the older half-elven and elven children who we rescued. He speaks to them in elven, and then says to Dame Brionna, “You understand.” And then his body dissolves into rainbows.

“It is banished. Its greatest servants are banished. Its lesser servants escaped to the countryside.”

“It was an ancient demon of Abyssal Knight rank. It had manifested physically on this plane.”

“Ah! Then it is not banished. It is destroyed entirely. That explains why it fought so vigorously to the end.”

I hope that we will not have to fight anything similar for at least a fortnight.

What I don’t understand is why it moved now…

Kit: Perhaps something about the moons or the stars?

Perhaps… there is a Greater Festival of Mists, and a combination of a full Silver Moon and a new Ruby Moon. But why would it move out into the open.

We post bounties on its lesser servants.

Reyn: Remember weeks ago, when you sent some people to deal with the shes and the young from the hordes that have been left behind. A group of people went north under an adventuring paladin. A rider brings her a report from an adventuring paladin. The encampment has been sacked, the elderly warriors defeated, and the women and young are fleeing from the Archduke’s justice. Brionna thanks them, but emphasizes that hostages would be highly useful.

Next morning!

3 Skard
Report from the boy: All the live things are gone. All the scary things are gone. All that’s left are trash and remnants and things like that. Oh, and some shiny things.

<<What kind of shiny things?>>

<<Not money. He brought one back.>>

<<Show it to me.>>

<<See? Not money. Not made of gold or silver or something like that.>>

It’s made of brass, with writing on it.

Kit mindlinks Alistair in. It’s Abyssal. Alistair copies it out, careful to not actually write out any of the characters fully, and sends it up to the coven for translation.

Lady Constance returns.

“Your grace. That is a soul coin. That piece of metal is worth one soul from the 203rd layer of the Abyss.”

Kit: What can we do with it?

“Well… I would suggest having as many of them as possible gathered and then have a priest of the Lord of Light obliterate them. That will free the souls from the Abyss.”

Kit: <<Gather up as many of them as possible.>>

Are they safe?

“Often, there are poison coins among them. They would cause effects like rage, or greed, or other things to those who take them. Only the purest of heart are safe.”

<<Do you have a place not in the house where you can keep them?>>

<<The pig sty.>>

Don’t tell the local priest. We can’t let Duchess Brightspan intercept this.

We arrange for someone from the Archbishop to go and deal with it discreetly.

The weasels find and bring up 220 soul coins. They also find a coin of lust and a coin of murder, which have utterly no effect on the pig.

That day passes in peace.

Skard 4
Two priests from the archdiocese are teleported out to the hoard of soul coins. The priests hitch up their robes, gathered the coins (including the coin of lust and murder, which they are disciplined enough to resist), bless the house at the boy’s request (which his mom won’t believe), and then are teleported back.

Lady Constance asks a boon of the throne. I ask to be present for the destruction of these things. There is nothing more vile in the world. I know the temple will not welcome me, but I will stand in a corner while they are destroyed.

We ask the Archbishop to permit her to attend and she watches as every coin is destroyed.

Skard 5
The day commences normally, and then a report comes in to Brionna. A tired warrior reports. We have pursued the orks as far as we can. They have taken shelter with allied tribes. We captured a handful of their women and young.

Did any of the ones you captured have markings of rank?
One of the young ones. None of the others.

Have that one brought here. Deal with the others as appropriate. Don’t pursue further.

What of those we captured that are not of rank?
Deal with the others as appropriate.
[End session]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 46 (May 18, 2009):
Skard 6

Kit gets a message, which she then brings to the Council. It’s a very disturbing message from a spy in the Debonai armies that are marching south. Some of the ranking officers have now been replaced with here’ku.

We discuss the Order of the Ram issues. We investigated the Order of the Ram, and contacted the Archbishop of Debonai. We talked about trying to get the officers who were just after glory (which includes the junior personnel) to serve our purposes in the South.

Kit’s Secretary reports knowing where the army is—they’ve moved way too fast for an army.

Dame Brionna gets a message about a strange prisoner, named Llars. She immediately goes there with a group of psion, mage, cleric forensics, and some OKV knights.

How did you apprehend this Llars?

I was on night watch, on duty in one of the districts where fine ladies like you don’t go. At first I thought, he was just one of the customers, who’d been drinking a bit, but he was making off with some of the merchandise, so I took him. He let me, said his name was Llars, we don’t have any records of him. There’s something about him that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Does he have any abilities? Latent? (she says to the psion)

Marginal. Not enough for me to do anything with, but it is there. He could be trained—well, probably not now. He’s too old.

Any children, Leftenant?

8—age seventeen down.

Any of them particularly bright?

Two, but we know our place.

Still, the Archduchy always has use for people with talent.

Yes, Dame. That’s always been what we like about the Archduchy.

Make a note (she says to the psion)
(He’s already writing) Yes, ma’am. We’ll have someone visit your family—in a nice way.

The leftenant shows the team in to meet the prisoner. "Ah. This is Llars."

<<His name is not Llars>> sends the psion. <<That is a convenient alias.>>

"Standard detection routine, please."

The mage relays, <<There are layers of enchantment on the creature>>

Brionna moves the regular guards back, and the paladin knights forward. Brionna gets a 19 on an Intimidate. Llars looks a bit less smug, and backs up a few steps. (He detects as some of the most significant evil Brionna has ever detected in the city.)

Brionna ducks back and contacts Alistair and Kit.

Back at the palace
Lady Constance comes to meet with Kit and Alistair.

“What are these creatures?”

“Because of what we’re doing, I’m reading more than I ever expected of the Forbidden Texts. It seems that they are continuing the sacrifices to bring through more of her creatures.”

“They are probably not the Seen and Not Seen, but it’s so hard to tell what the creatures are. If I were forced to guess, I would say that these are probably – probably—demons of the Inimitable Feast. The number of sacrifices gives it away. Too many for two simple here’ku. But they are other servants of the Old Ones. Battle demons. Their ability in combat is much greater, although their ability to conceal themselves much smaller. In the ancient days, they were thought of as strategists. They cannot conceal their hunger. Remember her ultimate goal.”

“What kind of hunger?”

“Literal. They will feed on whole battlefields of the dead. And when they lose control of themselves, they are quickly revealed for what they are. But by then it is often too late.”

“They must have a short-term goal.”

“No more than a few weeks. Either the plans are coming to fruition or she fears their failure. If she fears they will fail, then it becomes a worthwhile gamble to deploy her bigger weapons.”

“Is there a way we could trigger their hunger?”

“Yes. It is unpleasant, but according to the ancient writings, yes." She adds, "they cannot expand without limit, but those troops would not have weapons that could harm them. Lawful weapons would be necessary.”

We talk a little about what we could do.

“I wonder. Can I postulate a little? What if I am wrong? I have set up a duality—they summoned them because they’re near the end or because they’re near defeat. What if the purpose is to set up a possible way to victory in defeat? Some of them would be sure to have Elven blood. If they feasted enough on those with Elven blood, then they could summon her Herald, the Beast with the Unendurable Face, the Hrith’eru. Most warriors are driven mad upon looking on it, although some mages could withstand it. It concerns me.”

“So then we need to defeat them in advance.”

“They are weaker, individually, than the one defeated by our allies. They do not compare to Abyssal Knights. It fascinates me to wonder what she promised the demon lords to get their participation."
[cont'd]
 

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CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 46 cont'd]
* * *
Dame Brionna prepares to interrogate Llars.

It's an Outsider, spells on it are someone else's making.

Brionna calls for an exorcist. He looks appropriately creepy. He's happy to help.

While Exorcist is setting up, Brionna tries to ask prisoner his real name. "I have many names. Some I'm willing to give up. one I'm not."

"I was sent by the council that I serve to eyeball the situation. Our Great Lord wishes to know more about the ruler here"
The psion reports <his lord = Lord of the Rams, who is 'interested' in this place>

Brionna..taunts him. Says that Lord of Rams isn't so great, actually. gets Lars to brag! Says there isn't a Cult of the Ram in Canberry, but there are in a few places over the continent

He's here as an observer, trying to scope out Alistair

They philosophize about power.

He'll be recalled when the council is ready to hear his report

Brionna still tries to taunt him, compares him to Kit's doggy.

Exorcist reveals! Real form: slightly larger than human, looks like a really mean satyr - hairy, sharp teeth and horns. A baliazu. Usually infantry - either it's unusually smart or this is just the best the council can do.

There's still a concealing spell around Lars's mind - Exorcist tries to remove it, and psion starts digging.

Aha! The one who summoned only knows part of the reason. His master instructed him to be taken prisoner so that he could see one of the council directly. But he doesn't know why. Says he was supposed to observe Brionna, test her loyalty by observing her reactions, see how others (esp. men) react to her. Has reported back Brionna's image

Where a mechanism is known, a lever can be found.

Dame Brionna relays to us. He is a demon, infantry soldier, servant of the Lord of the Rams, with a wide variety of enchantments on him—serves at least two masters. Allowed himself to be captured so he could see a member of the Council and relay the image back to his masters (presumably so a here’ku could be formed). Also looking for weaknesses in your authority and to test her loyalty.

Alistair and Kit discusses this, the possibility that Kit will be a big target. We agree that Kit and Dame Brionna will have to continuously carry pieces of orichalcum jewelry that they present at all times, to show that they have not been replaced.

How many on your Council?

Three

<<He thinks of them vaguely… if you could get him to focus on them more…>>

I was brought before them. Well, before two of them.

The third one couldn’t be bothered to be there?

The third one can never be present. It is bound in the Wells of Darkness. A mighty princess, and when we bring her back she will be mighty.

<<I have them now. The Lord of the Ram, the Abomination of Shur, and the Princess Asima, originally ruler of the 143rd layer, imprisoned within the Wells of Darkness when she helped the One who Must not Be Named the last time.

Is the Lord of the Ram under the paw of a kitty-cat then?

“Shurr will one day be a mighty demon lord. We have an eye on one which needs replacing.”

“Which one? I can’t think of any that would be weaker than the alliance of a sheep and a kitty-cat.”

Ugu-denk, the Squirming King. His plane shall be given to the Abomination when he rises to become a demon-lord. Not every demon-lord is foolishly concerned with this little plane. Let it be consumed by her.

“You say you saw the Abomination personally? Where would that be?”

“Its spirit can move from place to place. They held council near the well where Asima is kept, so she could participate. I was given my mission by the Ram himself, but with the approval of all of them.”

What if they disagree?

Nothing is done; only with unity can the forces be deployed.

<<Most of the deployed forces belong to Asima; that’s why she must be included.”

She who must not be named is really in charge, isn’t she?

He grovels a little. She will restore us to our proper place, by consuming you.

And you. She will consume everything.

The Master does not think so.

The Ram is not known for long-term thinking.

The Master is mighty.

<<I think we are reaching the end of what it knows.>>

We decide to have it destroyed, assuming there are no traps that would make that dangerous. The exorcist seems doubtful. It will react as soon as I attempt it. The moment it feels threatened, that cell will not hold it. My wards will hold it briefly, but it can use those barbs as spears.

Could we teleport it into a sanctified area?

My first ward prevents it from teleporting, or from our teleporting it. If we erase those wards, it will probably teleport out.

I’d rather destroy it.

They discuss this, and plan on running in a large quantity of holy water, with the knights standing by. They consecrate a cistern on the roof and prepare to flood the room.

They flood it with holy water and attack.

The demon is killed before it can take an action. And shrinks down into a larva as its corpse burns in a pool of holy water.

Dame Brionna returns. “Your grace… I must say, the education system in this city leaves much to be desired. The guard leftenant has minor psionic abilities.”

Alistair and Kit separately discuss the idea of leaking the information to Uru-Denk—Kit is strongly opposed. There are some old songs about Princess Asima; she was highly regarded in previous Ages as particularly propitious as a demon lord for the most powermad.

We talk about this with Lady Constance. She says that the Scheming King and Malacat, Queen of the Succubi, and Shictari, Queen of the Marilith, were the principal actors of the coalition that imprisoned Princess Asima, although they acted on behalf of a larger coalition.

The titular ruler of the Abyss is Borsh’tro, but they only really control the first few planes. Malacat has little interest in the Prime except as a place to find beautiful people. Deeper in, there is either no interest or no knowledge in the Prime. There are councils, plots, wars that last thousands of years, and a judiciary. So a judiciary headed by Krab-urg-u condemned Asima, and a Council of Three carried out the sentence.

Asima, it should be noted is an orylith. They are the older types of demons, rarely with human shapes, able to cause insanity. There are fewer of them, overall, but they still have great power. The Squirming King is the only orylith in the group that condemned her, and it was he that held her in shape long enough to bind her.

Uru-Denk does not even have a shape that could be recognized. It is named the Squirming King for a reason. Most of its servants are manitrou—I cannot imagine them following the Abomination if it were elevated.

The only one of that group that I would dare even send a message to is Malacat. To speak to Uru-Denk, even under the most carefully shielded circumstances, risks madness. The Queen of the Mariliths is not known for her rationality. Malacat could be contacted, however. I would not do it—but it could be done. You must remember that there is no law in these creatures.

If you make a decision that you want to make contact with her, notify me and I’ll describe how to package it. I do not recommend it, but you are the Archduke, and you will decide.

At the current rate of progress, the Debonai army will meet up with the other armies in about 15 days.

We bring in the Minister of Magic.

We fill him in.

Ah. So they are moving slightly out of phase.

What does that mean, how do they do it, and how do we stop them?

They do it through the favor of a supernatural creature. Someone has made an agreement—only a few of the great powers have the ability to do that—a couple of devils, a couple of demons, and a couple of angelic powers. They are compressing space—or rather moving people through a state such that time passes more quickly, and they cover distance more quickly. The people will be worn out. They will age rapidly. Men of twenty who have done six journeys will be men of twenty-five or twenty-six. Older men will suddenly start dropping dead.

Their perceptions are weakened—they are in a trance. They could run into a large scale trap without seeing it, but normally they would place scouts ahead. But they could move through an army before the army had time to stop them. It will also make their minds more pliant. More susceptible to magical or psionic influence.

The lord of the Ram… a demon lord allied with Alvasox—a lord of the legions of cavalry of the 33rd layer. He is one of the ones with the ability to move people. It ties into his ability to increase speed, productivity, fertility, always at cost. His focus is fertility. To move that many… the blood sacrifice would have to be immense. It would have to drain even him. You are talking about 20,000 men.

The leaders must be realizing what’s happening to them.
We speculate they may all be replaced.

Are they caught up in a demonic war?
We think so. We all are now.

If they are connected to the Lord of the Ram… he must be part of an agreement.

Should I make talismans to reveal the followers of the Lord of the Ram?
Yes.

It will take two days to prepare them.
[End Session 46]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 47 (July 8, 2009)
Skard 7:
We ask the Minister of Magic back to talk with us some more about the out-of-phase thing. Kit asks if we could trap them out of phase, or otherwise immobilize them. Alternately, could we set some sort of trap for them as they’re coming back in phase.

Minister: Might be possible for an Eldar or Noldar of sufficient power—emphasis on might. Clearly beyond my capabilities, probably beyond human capabilities; possibly one of the Color mages?

We think about Color mages: Translucent: water and communication—not really very appropriate
White: Ice, transportation, and something else.
We think this might be covered by transportation.

Alistair suggests that if we’re going to reach out to her, we should make it a three-way conversation with the White Witch and Grand Duchess Sharra Fenris of Ergmoth, the Defender of the Faith, or her representative, which would probably be Contessa Castillia of the nation next to the Inner Isles.

We discuss whether there is something to be done with the vulnerability to enchantment—unleashing the fey or something.

Kit suggests an illusion keyed to particular weaknesses or interests of theirs, based on her information from back in Debonai, so she plans to contact her agent.

The Rakshasa are heading towards the army cutting through the Spice Lands, so they’re dealing with a separate army.

We reach out to the “Honorable Defender of the Faith, Sharra Ruthis, Grand Duchess of Ergmoth, etc.” and she agrees to apport to us with an honor guard the next day, along with the White Witch and her honor guard.

We discuss this, and some of the particular complexities, with the Chamberlain. This is further complicated by the fact that Princess Kaitlyn’s coronation is scheduled.

Kit goes to talk to her scribe, Stewart, about the Grand Duchess, then thinks better and goes to her halfling mistress of protocol.

“So, we’re going to be having some visiting dignitaries… the White Mage, and the Defender of the Faith of Paranswarm. The chamberlain knows, my question is more personal. How quiet should I keep my relationship around them?”

“Well, remember how she first got her title. She married the old Grand Duke, copulated with him in wolf form (as required by Ergmoth law, witnessed by at least six adult nobles), and then poisoned him, with poison on her body, inheriting instantly. Given Ergmothian norms, she would probably assume that of course His Grace would have several mistresses.

“As for the White Witch, she has a large harem of young men. She will certainly not be shocked.

"As for the coronation…"

“I’ll remain out of view. I’ll have to talk with her eventually, but…”

“That is probably best. You will reach an accommodation with her after she is with child. That is the way of things." She pauses. “I loved a man once…”

Kit reports on that, and then contacts her agent in Debonai.

The city is fine, but the countryside is in flames. All of the nobles are taking advantage of the opportunity to settle old scores. Several banners have fallen, most not to bandits. Also, a strange caravan, headed by a Minotaur and a kobold, recently arrived, and sold some siege engines they had taken from some orc raiders.

They are also raising two new field armies, each of cavalry, to replace the ones that have gone.

What news of the armies that have departed?

We have lost all contact, even with those wealthy young officers who carry scrying stones to contact their families. The Archmagus knows nothing of their whereabouts, although he is not much of an archmagues.

Kit explains some of what is going on: their high command is in the service of the Lord of the Ram. They are moving in and out of phase. Some of the leaders may die of old age. Many are corrupted and we may not be able to bring them back. We’re hoping to save some of the rank and file.

Many people have already gone to the cathedral to mourn, and this morning, the Lord Mayor had twenty men hanged for association with the Order of the Ram. A dozen women, through no fault of their own, have ended up pregnant with cambions. They are being cloistered with the Order of the Silver Veils—the cambions will be raised as best as they can, and we will hope. If the women survive the birth—there is more than a 25% death rate in cambion births—they will be ritually cleansed, and then either allowed to remain cloistered or returned to the populace as they prefer.

Trade has fallen to almost nothing. The caravan was the first to reach us in weeks, but they brought six ankylosaurs.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 47 cont'd]
Dame Brionna receives a magnificently garbed man from one of the merchant vessels from Khamista. He comes from Tarsh. He is a young man, dressed in an elaborate cape of leather woven with feathers, over armor. He is Paranswarmian but not evil. He has arms: the imperial seal of Tarsh, above a diagonal line and then a contrived coat of arms, made out of someone’s favorite animals. That says that he is a direct vassal of the King-Emperor, although probably without a drop of noble blood.

“My lord.”

“Dame Brionna of Stanway. I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, although I have dealt some with your compatriot, Dame Katherine of Lyneham.”

“You may speak freely here.”

“The principal behind the theft was the former King Willispur. This must reach no one. He survived the palace coup. He bathed the Empire in blood. He has possession of both artifacts, and is connected to the conspirators in the South.

"I am Sir Gustav Alderheimer, Captain of the Raven."

Dame Brionna notes to herself that Captain of the Raven is not a traditional Tarsh title. "What further information can we offer you?"

"We ask that you send an embassy with some of your best people to recover these things. Jazeel has asked me to personally see to things as best as I can." Sir Gustav is clearly not well-trained in etiquette. "It is difficult at best to placate them. It would be best to keep as low a profile as possible. The corruption that Willispur spread before he was deposed by the people who put Jazeel in power indicate that he should never be allowed in power again anywhere, and he also has made deals with forces that are not at all approved by the Temple."

"We will send you a team of our best and brightest to assist you in this quest."

"I am commissioned by his majesty to thank you and to offer our assistance in recovering these artifacts."

"Should we inform his majesty’s heir?"

"The heir will be safe here; it is better that he not know until it can be dealt with."

"Do you plan to stay long in Canberry?"

"I had to travel by commercial vessel to conceal my trip here. But I feel like I have failed my lord by allowing my theft. He made me captain of his guard."

"How old is the King-Emperor?"

"He is 18."

(Dame Brionna splutters a little, but talks about the Archduke having shown great leadership at a young age)
[End session 47]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 48 (October 5, 2009)
Skard 8
Scheduled events: Coronation of Kaitlyn
Anti-Lord of the Ram talismans prepared
Grand Duchess of Ergmoth and White Witch expected to arrive

Kit receives a request for a meeting and sets it up in her office. Father Waters and another priest, Father Smith, who is sweating profusely.

Father Smith says, "Father Waters assures me that you are the person I needed to talk to. I am of course Bishop Hoggsworthy’s secretary. He intends to… um… work over some of the younger dignitaries who will be visiting here. In service of the faith, of course. I’m not saying it will be inappropriate, but Father Waters thought I should talk to you."

Kit says that that would clearly be a bad idea, and that she’ll work on it.

"What should I do, Dame?"

"I’ll bring it up with the Council, and we’ll find some people of rank to help persuade the Bishop that an alternate approach would be better."

Kit brings it up at the meeting.

“Bishop Hoggsworthy is going to try to persuade our distinguished guests, in a converting sort of way…”

We agree that it’s time to send Hoggsworthy off to deal with the stolen items in Tarsh; we also figure that we can have Father Waters take over his duties, although he’s not yet ready for the official process.

Alistair, Dame Brionna, young Lord Brightspan, Lord Silverleaves from Singing Leaves, Dame Constance, the Minister of Magic, and the Archbishop of the Sun, along with some muscle (mostly paladins) teleport to the Coronation

Kaitlyn’s party is Many-Hands and all of her top retainers, plus a bunch of guards. Dame Brionna arranges for a whole bunch of the old nobility of the Southern Kingdom to show up to swear fealty.

The agreement is that it will be a secular coronation, since the conversion will be announced afterwards.

Dame Constance cleans up surprisingly nice. Still scary, what with all the rings and bands and such, but nice.

We teleport through. The gathering of nobles is considerable. They’ll show up to pretty much anything that might get them their lands back.

Two d20 rolls: 19, and 9.

The Grandmaster Farsensor says to Dame Brionna. “I cannot exactly tell you what is watching us, but we are being watched. It does not seem malevolent.”

“Could you sever the connection?”

“Almost certainly. Do you wish me to?”

Dame Brionna looks to Alistair who signals no.

“Can you identify them?”

"Yes, I should be able to."
He rolls a 19 + 32 = 51.

"It appears to be psionically active older male. I can give you his image—he is unaware that I captured it."

Dame Brionna gets a distinct image of a man she recognizes from her youth. He was a minor noble but a major merchant in the days of her youth. Now he is several years older, of course. They decide to take no action.

The process continues, going through the rituals of the coronation.

* * *

Dame Kit receives a missive: The Grand Duchess of Ergmoth and the Queen of the White Mountains have appeared, with an entourage, without the Palace.

Dame Kit sends a sending to Dame Brionna, who tells her to hold down the fort, in effect.

They are shown in, and announcements are made for three personages: Grand Duchess of Ergmoth, Defender of the Faith of Paranswarm, former betrothed of the current First Mouth; Bianca, Queen of the White Mountains, Mistress of the White Dragons, and White Witch; and Baroness Castillia of Mandrath, Companion of the Grand Duchess of Ergmoth, Companion of the Armies of Darkness, and commander of the Legions of the Deft.

The Protector and Defender of the Faith is dressed entirely in black, with a black chain from her hair to her belt, various black diamonds, and her flail of office. The White Witch is pretty much unassuming. The Baroness of Mandrath is in full armor of the Legions of the Deft, despite being a sorceress. All of the guards are in various stages of lycanthropy—unsurprising, since the Grand Duchess is rumored to be a werewolf.

Kit welcomes them to the palace.

“My late husband, Fenris Ruthis of Ergmoth, would have said that the power behind the throne is nearly always a beautiful woman. I would say to you that sometimes the power on the throne is a woman.”

Kit thanks her for the compliment and returns one to her.

"The gift for the Archduke should wait for his return. But the gift I have for you will not need to wait."

"I’m honored that you thought of me."

"I thought of both the women that command his attention, as well as the woman he will some day marry… in law."

Kit thanks her and likes her.

She gets a magical box, containing six small square boxes, each covered with runes. This will allow you to pass messages or small items to anyone to whom you give the small boxes, anywhere. Memorize the runes, and they will control where the items placed in the large box go.

"Maintaining your stability is crucial, as important to the Council of Darkness as to the Councils of Light."

The Grand Duchess and Baroness make cheery small talk. The White Witch doesn't talk - every so often she whips her head around in a way that makes Kit nervous.

Aunt Cecilia, who is present and linked to Kit with a mindlink: The Grand Duchess is powerfully linked off of this plane. that's the source of her power
Kit: Which plane?
Aunt Cecilia: The planes of Utter Darkness that we should never visit.
Kit: Something sacred to Paranswarm?
Aunt Cecilia: Yes. They're very intent on all this darkness, aren't they? Well, I suppose it's only right, since we're all wrapped up in the Light

The White Witch mostly watches, and occasionally adds a pithy comment like “You would be better off killing them all!” when political enemies are discussed. The other two nod to her, and then continue talking. They are not embarrassed by her, but also don’t really agree with her. The guard with the Grand Duchess occasionally hands her a message, which would appear teleported in, except that the Archducal Council think that that’s impossible in theory.
[cont'd]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
[Session 48, continued]
Kit realizes that the page in the Grand Duchess’s entourage has a box like the one she was just given.

“You can put anything in them as long as it isn't anything dangerous - if you try, then the box explodes.” The Grand Duchess explains.

<<Lady Castilia has been altered - her body has been internally strengthened. I think her life has been lengthened>> Aunt Cecilia communicates to Kit via a mind link.
Kit: Is it to make up for some injury
Aunt Cecilia: I think someone doesn't want her to die
Kit: Can you tell who did it?
Aunt Cecilia: Nobody here
Kit: What kind of power would it take to do that?
Aunt Cecilia: Wish.
Kit: Useful
Aunt C: Yes, but odd
Kit: Maybe she's not secure about her heir, and wants to make sure she'll live for a long time?

At the coronation, it proceeds apace with appropriate pomp and circumstance.

Following the applause, the announcement of the engagement takes place, and the announcement of the conversion as well.

The Archbishop, who is very good at this, gives a talk and converts a few but not many people (natural 3, total of 18). Alistair then gets up and speaks as protector of the Light, getting a 45 on his Diplomacy. He presumably does a little better. :)

* * *

Suddenly, the White Witch's head whips around, with bangles and feathers in her hair clattering, and she asks Kit: And when will you become pregnant?
Kit [totally stunned]: Um. In time?
White Witch: You will have a child. I have seen it. A boy.
Kit: Well, I'll have a child eventually. Not soon...
WW: You will. I have seen it. He's destined for holiness. I see paladinhood in his future.
Kit: HAHAHAHA. Um. sorry.
WW: Oh, don't worry. If I could laugh, I would join you.
Kit [momentarily worried]: You can't laugh?
WW: The Color Pool gives many gifts, but it takes away as well. I can build a kingdom on a glacier, but I must give up certain things.
Kit: Oh. I'm sorry.
WW: My people are permitted to laugh, but not in my presence. If I could laugh, though, I would do it if I were you, hearing this news. Yes, your son will be a paladin. I see him with his father's features, but your eyes. And your heart. He will be brave, and that will serve him well, with his destiny.
Kit: He has a destiny?
WW: This enemy that we all fight. It will not be defeated permanently, not now. The one who will finally defeat it, far beneath the earth, is your son.
Kit [quiet and stunned]: Will I be around to see it?
WW: You will no longer be young, but you will see it. Your son will never rule, you know.
Kit: I know. He never would anyway. Not my son. But to have a destiny like that, to defeat an enemy like that? [glowing grin] That's better than any kingdom.
WW: And he will love his mother and father, and know that they love him, and that is all that any child can hope. And he will defeat this enemy. I have learned a great deal about the enemy just being in your presence.
Kit: What do you mean?
WW: White allows certain things - transport. But not only the transport of persons or goods - the transport of essences, of hopes. Being around people who have been in the presence of the enemy has given me more insight into what it is. It is just as frightful as the Grand Duchess said. It must be defeated.

And then she stops, and jingles her head back, and the other two go on with drinking tea and chatting as if nothing ever happened.

“Wait… you said being around people who have been in the presence of the enemy. Who did you mean by that?” Kit asks the White Witch.

“Why, you, of course.”

“I didn’t think I had been.”

“Really?”

“If I had, I didn’t know it.”

“I can assure you, my dear, the residue is like a dripping ichor.”

“I’ve had mental contact with a place and with some people who have had contact with the enemy.”

“Physical contact? Do you travel by spirit often?”

“No.”

“Can you tell when this happened?”

<<Aunt Cecilia says, not with any surety, she can’t, but she’s loathe to admit that.>>

Perhaps about 4 months ago, north of here. I see a small town. And a place of pain to its people. You were present. As was its essence. It tried to invade you, but you rejected it.

Did it attack anyone else?

Your rejection was wholesale. It could not affect anyone else. If its vessel has moved on…

This essence… how do I get it off me?

It is like a spiritual slime...

How do I get it off me?

A redactor would be best, I think.

I’ve had redaction since then and they didn’t notice it.

Why would they? Unless they knew to look for it. I wonder. I would think you might be able to use that contact. It might allow you to predict the enemy. Not in depth, but yes.

If I used it that way, would it taint me?

If you did, yes. But someone highly disciplined…

Like the grandmaster farsensor?

A member of either of the great elven races should be safe.

Could it be transferred from me to him?

For that, you would need a grandmaster level redactor.

She wanders off and begins examining the walls carefully.

The Grand Duchess says, please forgive our companion’s fascination with the walls.

Is it an interest of hers?

There is very little usable stone in her domain. Any tricks she could learn…

We could set up a meeting with an architect?

If you would please her greatly, try to find an architect or engineer who would be willing to live in that hell for a while.

* * *

Most of the people of the former South Kingdoms have nominally converted—it’s all political lip-service, but good enough for Alistair.

The general opinion is that this is a superb marriage—a brilliant coup, given the fact that the Southern Kingdoms have little to offer. Dame Brionna feeds back positive stories about Alistair.

Dame Brionna gives Kaitlyn a pair of intelligent, good, loyal guard/hunting dogs.

The Canberry delegation teleports back to the palace and joins Kit and the Grand Duchess.

The Grand Duchess offers some official niceties to “her counterpart in the Light.”

I do not know what the protocol is in courts other than my own, but in my own the procedure would be to deliver the gifts to those of lower rank and only then to the most exalted.

To Dame Brionna, a gift suggested by my former betrothed, now the First Mouth of Paranswarm.

It is a Periapt of Faithfulness

For your future lady wife, I have prepared a set of horses of the highest breeding for herself and her immediate court.

And after considerable thought, I have determined that the most acceptable gift I could offer the Archduke was an item that many years ago fell into the hands of my late husband’s great-great-grand-sire. A Banner of the Sun Resplendent. [Can be used once every 3 rounds to turn undead as a 15th level cleric; Can cast Daylight 4/day; Morale bonus of +2 to hit to any follower of the light who can see it while unfurled.]
[End session 48]
 

CPaladin

Explorer
Session 49 (November 16, 2009)
Skard 8 (cont’d)
Scheduled events: Continued meeting with the Duchess of Ergmoth and the White Witch

We talk with the Duchess of Ergmoth, the White Witch, and the Baroness of Mandrath about dealing with the out-of-phase army as well as the possibility of contacting Malacat.

The White Witch says, “For my part, if you will provide me with a laboratory, I will be happy to interfere them.

Baroness Castilia: I have unfortunate news for you, my lord. Debonai will not become destabilized. Debonai is destabilized. The king controls very little—the nobles war among themselves openly, and orcs are invading. We have already suggested that the nearest Paranswarmian kingdom should harass the humanoids on their borders.

Kit concludes from extensive hand-gestures (obviously communication) that Baroness Castilia is the Duchess of Ergmoth’s spymistress.

The Duchess of Ergmoth focuses on the threat of the Old Ones. Stopping the army of Debonai will do much. They will need to press onwards with less force than sufficient. They will not be able to defeat the army of Seachen. They will pursue other plans, deep in Seachen. It will be a major play for the Abomination of Shur, the Lord of the Ram, and the Princess—but the principal point is to make permanent the energy spirals from the prison of the One Apart. They should have been destroyed 1000 years ago, but remain in the ruined temples within Seachen. They will not be able to seduce the women of Seachen, especially with the Lord of the Ram involved.

I have nothing to offer about where the artifact is. But should it be unleashed, the lands that have reemerged into this place will be made permanent, adding another front to the war, that we neither need nor desire.

What can we do to help you?

Discusses a gift of 20 vollers.

Alistair asks the Duchess to pass the message on to Malacat.

She says after some time that this seems like a well-conceived plan. They will trade off the lives of some captured demonists—offer the choice of delivering messages to Malacat or receiving a visit from her personal torturer. They will likely agree.

We offer the assistance of Dame Constance

After the meeting, Kit contacts her agent in Debonai, Lady Brina.

The noblemen of Debonai are slaughtering each other. Much is warfare.

Also, rapid poisonings—several members of the Grand Council are dead. The Archbishop survived his poisoning. The Secretary of the Treasury is fine, but the person who is actually in charge of financial things and the Privy Guardian of the Bedchamber both died. He’s the top military advisor, because the Secretary of the Army is traditionally a sinecure. The Stablemaster, who is in fact in charge of trade, also died. The Minister of Trade is the King’s fifth cousin, and totally worthless. The Mistress of the Pillow, who may be the spymistress, is alive and in hiding. All of these people were close to the King, so there will be a mass royal funeral. All of the high dignitaries and the major houses will attend. (The Kennel Master, who is in charge of royal security, is still alive, so the King is probably safe. The Kennel Master is unique for actually being in charge of the Kennel.)

The Lords Council is still meeting—there haven’t been assassinations within it.

Nearly all of the nobles, except the most powerful ones, have left the capital.

At least the burnings have slowed down. People were burning each other at the stake, and crops. Magaral, a merchant, has put down much of the problem, along with his partner, Growl the Mighty.

No efforts against women, or participation of the women in the madness.

We send a message to our ambassador asking to set up a telepathic meeting with the King of Debonai (basically to discuss (A) making him a protectorate and (B) sending the Order of the Vulture). He agrees a day later to meet me telepathically two days after that.
[End Session 49]
 

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