Twin Emperors[EPIC RPG MKIV] - Story Minute

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
I wrapped up an EPIC RPG campaign earlier this year and, while it was cut far shorter than I initially intended, it still completed a pretty cool narrative arc.

At the start of each session, I decided to read a pre-written "Previously on..." like you see in ongoing TV series to get everyone back into the game and this resulted in me having a brief narrative summary of the game when it concluded. Though not as in depth and novel-like as a Story Hour, it has the massive advantage of being already written an so needing only a bit of editing on my part and it's ready to go!

Life's pretty hectic at the moment, but since I'll mostly just be editing, I should be able to get at least one post up a week until it's done.

Below is the primer pages I sent the players before the game started to give them a feel for the world before we rolled up characters. If you're wondering about the huge amount of name-dropping, I was hoping to get a good overview of the Professions I whipped up for this campaign at least somewhere in the back of their minds (and maybe give them inspiration for what to become during character creation) before we got started.


"Come back here and have a seat, kid. Not sure who put the notions in you head, but you seem to think the world is like the stories - full of heroes and villains, lost wonders and ancient treasures, last minute rescues and daring escapes, great world-spanning adventures; a place where you know your friends from your enemies, where the bad guys are nefarious and your allies never stab you in the back. That sound right?

"Thought so. Listen up before you go get yourself conscripted, enslaved, or indoctrinated into some cult full of fanatic lunatics.

"The great Aedaric Emperor that rules most of the known world, fifty Legions at his beck and call, the Imperial Cults groveling at his feet? He's got more strings tied to him than a box full of puppets, can barely take a piss without this Dynast noble or that merchant princess from the House of Patrons or the other High Priest from whatever Sanctioned Cult telling him it's okay first.

"The great Citertion Cult that keeps the administrative gears running, that great bastion of organization and order? So corrupt half the taxes they levy never even reach the Imperial Treasury. The Empty Bed, they's the sole Imperial Spy service, right? And who they report to? No one knows!

Then there's Unbael's Shadow Priests selling secrets to the highest bidder? What about the House of Patrons and their networks of spies - all Imperially Sanctioned! Don't even start again on your supposed "Fraternus" that runs things from behind the scenes...

"Those things never mentioned in the stories, are they? Why's that you think? Use your brain! Who pays the Loresingers to sing their family histories, who patronizes the Thesp when they're looking for a venue to entertain a crowd, who can afford a Vagabond from the Troubadour Court to entertain at their parties? Get it?

"You keep going on about people finding powerful relics from the wastelands - you actually waiting for some hero to come walking out of some blasted ruin on the horizon and save you from waking up every day wondering where your next meal's coming from? Forget it.

"Those ruins that ain't already been picked clean five centuries ago are so rotten with monsters, layered with curses, or so magioactive you couldn't cross the threshold before you're in something's gullet, catching a nasty personal pox, or watchin' your skin melt off your bones.

"Why should that hero give a Copper Wretch for your sorry skin? She finds a relic, she's going to carve out a nice little kingdom somewhere in the wasteland and lord over whatever idiots flock to her banner. Or maybe she's smart and sells it cheap to the Arcanistry or the Reliquary before they take it by force - or better, she pawns it off to the Arcanite Templar in the Sultinates, lives in a palace in Immen with a hundred slaves kowtowing the rest of her life. But most likely she brushes with a Sisterhood assassin and ends up holding her guts in an alley. Psh.

"You still think you're going out there and become a hero? Maybe fancy yourself walking through the silent streets of the Dead City at the base of the Unspoken Tower? Sail the Rictus Sea, brave the killing fogs on the Black Continent, scale the Black Tower? That still the plan? Impossible! Those towers got no tops, just go straight up all the way to through the Starless Void! Might as well plan on climbing the vertical league of the Barrier Wall and spitting off the edge of the world.

"I don't care if that Doomspeaker saw wealth and glory and fame in your Arcana - they only say what you want to hear, ain't no one gonna pay for bad news. No, best to stick here in the tenements where we got water that's usually drinkable and it's mostly safe to walk on the streets during the day.

"Maybe we talk your way into an apprenticeship somewhere... what about the Order of Revered Sculptors? You always lookin' at those statues everywhere. Or, if you're just hankering to die with an axe through your skull, squire on with a Chapter of Century Knights, get paid well to war and maybe get your name in their Sagas. Just don't go near the Legions less you want to march half across the world to die in the mud just so some Dynast can brag about their great victory - and that's only if they don't start decimating again to keep discipline.

"Nothin' left to conquer out there anymore lest you wanna wade a week through a cold swamp full of Serpent Dragons and fight them white-skinned barbarian Thanes and their unnatural Rimewitches up north or fight those Sand Vipers and Unvisaged brutes down south; maybe attack up the face of a living volcano to attack the black walls of Peer or brave a league of rusty, jagged scrap to get a look at Tarnish before one of their Knights Mechane in their fancy Runic-etched armor take out you and your whole cohort out single-handed. How 'bout just scale Saito's Wall, go fight the God and his armies of fearless Jade Warriors in the rice swamps of Chiain? How's that all sound?

"Besides, ain't no need go looking for trouble, its stirring right here in Old Aedaron. Old Emperor won't live forever and his only daughter's not even a woman grown yet. What do you think all those behind the stage pulling his strings gonna do when he's gone and they feel the slack? Stage is gonna fill right up before it they start thinning each other out again, that's what.

"Legions' getting restless on the frontiers too - head to the Chipped Helm and listen to that one-legged Hero Slayer grumble or his friend the mind-blasted Venator mumble: no loot comin' in, no decent land to award, the Praetors leading the Legions now all perfumed Dynasts that couldn't make it an hour behind the shield of one of their Bondmarked Praetorian Bodyguards much less one day in the sandals of a Centurion - and that's who they got playin' general!

"Then throw the terrorists in the mix: Endoveen loyalists still hunting revenge hundred years after their last Empress was overthrowed, Black Legion traitors skulking about causing trouble, rogue Runics messing with writing and who cares if they take out half-a-city doing it! You hear about those Broken Shackle abolitionists who think slaves should all be made freemen - the thought! Next they'll be trying to say Wretches are people too!

"Add to it all the Sultinates bleeding the Legions at Umbar, the Eon Barons and their stolen magic who don't know when to stay beaten, restless Clans up north always hankering to carve off a piece of the Empire, and them Junkers scattered everywhere; they and their haywire contraptions ain't to be trusted is what I say!

"Been listening? Put down them thoughts of joining some secret order or scrapping together some weapons an' truckin' off into the wastelands to die. Only get thirty years in what's left of this world if you're lucky, no need to rush to a horrible end out there when you can settle for a half-bad one here.

"Tell ya what, forget all this an we'll stop by the Stewmaster's Guild see if we can't beg a scrap, maybe go listen to the Chymists debate philosophy on Glass Row? How abouts we finish up by watching that big Aethership set off over the Great Sinkhole?

"We got a deal or I need go an' drop a month's wages convincin' a Dream Minder or Thoughwalker to scare some sense into you while you sleep tonight?"
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 1 - Prisoner's Dilemma

Gorged Upon the Mother of a Chieften Beyond the Spruce Grove, savage Cragsman and beast-dominating packlord, was unexpectedly made a wonder of Old Aedaron's Orange Theater. This unlikely turn of events was set in motion by his surrendering himself as a slave to the Legions in exchange for leniency for his parents after they were captured raiding and Eastern settlement. After passing through several harsh masters to the hands of the Headmaster of the Orange, the savageness foreignness of his pale skin and filed teeth made him an instant hit in whatever role he was cast in. His easy acting life that followed was abandoned, however, after her purchased his freedom and set off in pursuit of the love of his life, the Saitese prostitute Subtle Jade, departing for her homeland of Chiain.

His companion: young Raxtus Atomi, Junker cobbler's son, adopted child of the Orange Theater, and spontaneous Tinker after discovering a ransacked Tinker cart and discovering its freshly-murdered owner bled out in the street.

The pair traveled to Heaven's Gateway, the lone entrance to the wealthy and isolated land of Chiain, there to learn Subtle Jade had traveled the River Trine under the mountain ring of Saito's Wall to enter Chiain proper where no foreigner was ever allowed. After hiding Raxtus' cart, they smuggling themselves aboard a barge of wool bales. Stepping ashore in Chiain on the far side, a swarm a of unlucky guards converged and subdued them, suffering several mauled, bitten, drowned, or maimed in the process, including a guard captain shot through the gut by Raxtus' crossbow.

Eliot Sam, Aeadaric ex-slave of the Eon Baron Gimbal Throne found himself freed after a decade fighting alongside his master against Praetor Ralius' Legions. Cast adrift, he hid out in a ruin, barely escaping with his life but finding a living as Craterhound and many, many years later - with the spoils of several dangerous delves – became co-owner of the Relic Roadshow in Heaven's Gateway.

He too smuggled himself into Heaven's Gateway in search of his several-weeks missing business partner Aka Jin, bearing a "special pass" - a clay lotus flower tile - that Aka Jin had swiped from a Chiain official and told him to try to use if Aka didn't turn up again. When the ruckus Gorge and Raxtus stirred caused a search of the barge, Eliot was found as well and searched, the tile discovered, and Eliot beaten to within an inch of his life.

Adventurous Michkin Right, the ebon-skinned Marbarandi son of a bowyer and shipwright, cast adrift by cruel misfortune and taken under the cynical wing of the Mad Priest Mud Stone arrived in Heaven's Gateway after a long journey to repay a family debt to one Aka Jin. Sneaking into Chiain, he was captured and imprisoned for being a foreigner.

Regal Pursus Pantalone, Marbarandi supposedly the semi-divine son of the Great Wanderer, victor of the Scorpion Duel, and agent of the Ghost Bank smuggled himself into Chiain seeking to do the work of his mysterious association. After discovery he used his strange demeanor act as a hostile spirit, only to be apprehended by a an old man in gleaming Jade Armor who proclaimed himself Jade Warrior Maderu Shima and dragged to prison as a rogue spirit.

With the five finding themselves together locked in a magically-draining Etched cell they talked warily with one another before Gorge and Raxtus ferociously attack their guards the moment the door's food slot was opened. After there attempts were rebuffed, they were offered audience with a female official named Aiko Hara if they swore to behave.

Pursus swore on his own divinity, Michkin on his family's honor, Eliot Sam on his future wealth, Gorge on the still beating heart of Aiko's mother, Raxtus (fingers-crossed) on the Orange Theater. The diminutive Aiko entered their cell calmly, telling of their crimes committed varying from trespass to murder but the punishment the same: everyone to be executed at dawn.

In the silence that followed the proclamation of their imminent deaths, Aiko offered a deal: she would arrange for their escape in exchange for them "kidnapping" Aiko then helping her and her sister track down their younger siblings, kidnapped a few days past from the village of Shrine Grove north of Heaven's Gateway beyond Saito's Wall.

After a brief discussion, everyone agreed.

Left to consume rice balls wrapped in jagged leaves and to drink rejuvenating tea, they then slept remarkably peacefully and deeply before awaking to chains and the execution grounds. Little did the guards know, Aiko had also left behind with their simple dinner a gift of Voyager's Grease...

Upon the platform, they were bound to massive wooden blocks, bowed and humbled before a hostile crowd restrained by ten less-than-sober guardsmen while the other guard on duty shirked off into the Summer Festivities in the town beyond the crowd.

Aiko came forth to read their crimes to the crowd as the headsman limbered up...

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 2 - Heaven's Gateway

The crowd boo'd and hissed as Aiko solemnly recited the varied crimes of the strange foreigners lashed down on the platform before them. She halted her indictments briefly as a squad of horsemen thundered out of the stables at the rear of the execution square, the a path through the thronging crowd hurling clear as the heedless silk-garbed riders charged forth. When the crowd had calmed itself enough to be heard over, Aiko finished and stepped back. The headsman wasted no time heaving his axe up to take Gorge's head off. Instead, he took a face-full of bronze chain as Gorge slipped one heavily-greased wrist loose, rocked the chain free from beneath the chopping block, and shattered the headsmn's nose and cheeks.

As per the plan, they "kidnapped" Aiko, swiping the wakazashi from her sash and holding it to her throat as they retreated towards the nearby stables, the half-inebriated guards held at bay with a few swings of chain, some bestial roars by Gorge, and shouted threats against Aiko's life. Once ahorse they battered their way through the guards, Raxtus nearly trampling a beautiful young woman who threw herself in his path before they thundered away from the inept guardsmen and down into the curving streets of Weir. Siatese city folk at festival leaped out of their way at every turn as their horses hooves clattered sparks from the cobblestones.

A few horsemen rallied and pursued across the gorge-spanning bridges, through narrow allies, and amidst startled festival throngs. At the docks, they leapt from their horses to pile into the boat at which Hamura – Aiko's giant sister – awaited them, realizing they were one short, the first-time-ahorse Raxis left behind at some point in the chase.

Back around the last bend, a thrown spear dropped Raxtus' mount mid-stride and pitched him out of the saddle. He would have been lost but for Michkin's selfless decision to ride back into danger, weaving the thrusting spears of the pursuing cavalry to catch Raxtus before riding like mad back to the river, pursuers close behind. Meanwhile, at the docks, the small craft poled slowly into the current, the companions watching as Michkin hurled his mount into the river, leaping clear with Raxtus, and paddling wildly after the boat.

Once the two were dragged aboard, Pursus glanced back to see Jade Warrior Maderu Shima planting a spear-tip into the earth, Pursus' three-eyed Ghost Bank mask dangling from the far end. As Pursus readied to swim back to fight his dropped mask of office, Gorge launched his trained hawkling wing-lizard to steal it, leaving Maderu shouting impotent threats of pursuit as the lizardling winged back with mask in claw.

Michkin, Pursus, and Aiko's huge sister Hamura poled hard towards safety as crossbow bolts rained down, sending the others scrambling for the tall oak shields Hamura had wisely stacked in the back of the boat. As the bronze-tipped rain darted down from the top of the gorge above and thudded heavily into the wood of boat and shield, panic swelled in their guts as, high above, teams of soldiers wrestled catapaults and ballista into position atop the cliffs.

As those at the poles pushed to the brink of exhaustion, a final bend in the gorge passed, revealing the wide tunnel beneath the massive mountains of Saito's Wall. Their elation deflated almost instantly to the clanking sounds of a massive portcullis inexorably descending to block their passage ahead. This vision of doom spurred them to a final sprint, the metal-capped teeth of the gate nearly biting into the back of the craft as they slipped under.

Once enclosed in vast, weighty darkness beneath Saito's Wall, two distant, echoing Gongs echoed faintly from the fading smear of sunlight at the tunnel's entrance behind. Aiko and Hamura unleashed un-Saitese-like wails before falling into huddled silence. Several hours passed before the companions were able to drag from the sisters that the peals signaled the death of Chiain's sacred Twin Emperors, the only beings capable of withstanding the purity of Lord Saito's divine voice. Suspicious at the timing, Pursus interrogated Aiko, prying out that her siblings were also twins and thus eligible to be selected to become the new Twin Emperors, though Aiko assured him no twins from beyond Saito's Wall had Ascended in the long history of Chiain.

After a day's endless darkness beneath the stone they squinted into the bring morning sunlight on the far side of Saito's Wall, the approach of a custom's inspector's craft inspiring a plan to cast themselves as branded exiles cast out from within, all cutting their arms in the same spot before swaddling them with bandages. Aiko argued with the suspicious and agitated inspector at length in Saitese – gibberish to the companions – somehow cowing him and opening the way to the city of Heaven's Gateway and freedom.

After retrieving Raxtus' Tinker Cart and Gorge's terrifying chameleon-alligator skulk pet, the group headed north towards the village of Shrine Grove from whence the twins were kidnapped, quickly leaving the teeming city of Heaven's Gateway and plunging into a countryside of bamboo groves and rice paddies. Near dark they arrived, Aiko's questions to the wary Shrine Grove villagers unearthing that Aiko's Uncle Nise Akuma had suddenly passed through town the night before bandits attacked the family's homestead north of the village. Only Akuma's body and those of the twins were not recovered, the bandits' tracks trampling off into the wilds beyond.

After deciding to settle in at the still-intact stables for the night, Raxtus repaired the skulk-gnawed handle of his cart to discover a carefully packaged scroll hidden within, scrawled with glittering Runics. Everyone held their breath as Raxtus carefully repackaged the terrifying scroll, hiding it deep within his junk-packed cart as the others settled in to sleep. Much later, Michkin on watch woke everyone to watch in reverence as a six-legged Tapir spirit drifted through the woods amid a swirl of fireflies.

With dawns like a more thorough search of the farmstead revealed many graves, smoldering ruins, and the bandit's blatant trail. On closer examination of their tracks, wizened Eliot Sam discerned that nine bandits had dragged a wounded tenth figure along with two bound children. On the trail, Pursus convinced Michkin to visit a Ghost Bank office at the next town for the trade of a probably hypothetical soul for the very real power the Bank might grant.

After following the trail for several miles, the trail became false, Eliot and Pursus scouting ahead to a dead end, then doubling back to discover a hidden crawl-way through a thicket of thorns. Beyond, a stream, leading to a cave...

Returning to the others, they spoke of what they had found.

Michkin asked if they had been followed back.

"Probably." Prusus replied.

"Duck," Michkin joked... as an arrow winged into their midst.
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 3 - Brassy Jons

Pursus ducked as the arrow flew into camp, missing by inches. A ragged figure darted into the woods, young Raxtus chasing headlong after him. They racing pair just reached sight of the cave when Raxtus caught up with his prey, driving the man to the ground with a dagger in his back. Raxtus turned back to his companions as they streamed after him, raising his arms and shouting out with the rush of the chase and kill only to be instantly shot through the shoulder from behind.

While Michkin, Aiko, and Hamura rushed to help Raxtus, Eliot Sam and Pursus slinked off through the bamboo and baryan, questing for the source of the arrow. It quickly became clear: two archers on high ledges guarding a set of switchback stairs carved into a cliff face, leading to a ledge at the top; the landing for a faded red door. It opened, a spearman in crude leathers stepping out and squinting in the sunlight.

Heedless, Eliot Sam charged the door as Pursus hurled magics at the archers. By the time Eliot Sam reached the ledge atop the switchbacks, two arrows jutted from his armored chest, slowing his parry as a spear jabbed into his gut and sent him tumbling back down the stairs.

Meanwhile, Gorge with his great club faced down three more bandits emerging from the cave, pressed hard but quickly backed up by Michkin and Hamura. The sudden terror of his chameleon skulk clomping onto a man's face out of no where alongside Hamura's skilled sword turned the skirmish and the bandits were dispatched in seconds. Pushing carefully into the cave, they spotted a waterfall streaming down from a hold in the cave ceiling, a wooden platform suspended by bronze chains dangling over a pool at its base.

Gorge spotted the bandit manning the chain winch above at the same time the bandit spotted them and began frantically cranking. Sprinting into action, Michkin managed to seize the platform before the bandit above could winch it out of reach. Cursing, the bandit released the winch and fled deeper into the cave above, sending Michkin crashing back down into the pool.

After the gravely wounded Eliot Sam was placed in Aiko's ministrations, the others scaled the wet and slippery chain, shortly finding themselves crowded in a dark, damp carven room, a single rough passageway leading away into darkness. While the others debated a plan of action, brash Raxtus rushed ahead and within moments returned with a knife to his throat. His captor pushed forwards, flanked by more bandits brandishing spears and torches. Raxtus captor announced herself as Jinsa “Brassy” Jons, a feral beauty bedecked with glinting bits of brass, armed with two slender bronze swords, a cutting wit, and a grill of brass teeth. She demanded two gold Emperors as ransom for Raxtus and the Twins and, with hasty promises from the companions that the small fortune would be hers by dawn, she disarmed them and shoved them out the front door.

Back in the woods, they scavenged weapons from the fallen bandits and planned an attack, sneaking to the base of the cliff to await nightfall. A long, anxious wait followed, tension building for the darkest hour of night and their assault the switchbacks and the lone archer on watch. While they awaited full darkness, an Aethership glided low overhead, the underside of its hull painted with naked women, a flashy figure waving his feathered cap down at them from the ship's wheel.

When night fell in full, so too did the cave-fort, the archer blasted by Pursus and a human ladder propelling Eliot Sam to the side-ledge where the archer's corpse lay. Finding a small entrance to the cave complex behind the dead bandit, Eliot Sam skulked to the front door and let the others in. Reflected firelight from deep in the complex cast flickering shadows down side branches from the passage leading to the main cavern. Slipping past the side passages to that largest of the caverns, they didn't hesitate to slit the throat of a guardsman sleeping beside a locked door.

On its far side, Raxtus and two children – a boy and girl – immediately led away to Aiko and safety by Hamura. As the companions sneaked towards the last bandit holdouts snoring deeper in the complex, weary and wary Pursus backed away from the final battle... into the sword of Brassy Jons.

While the others quickly overwhelmed the last of the bandits and captured the last one alive, Brassy Jons used Pursus as a hostage and slipped out the front door, planting a kiss on Pursus cheek before shoving him back inside the cave. By the time he'd scrambled back out to the landing, she was sprinting down the last of the switchbacks. She dodged a bolt of energy Pursus hurled in parting and struck a jaunty pose.

"I'm sure we'll meet again," Pursus called.

Brassy Jons grinned, waved, and shouted back. "I'm sure we will. Good luck! You fools have no idea what you are getting in to."

With the bandits cleared and the lone survivor released at Michkin's insistence, the companions set to looting what they could, discovering that, amidst the loose change of brass and bronze change, the bandits possessed one silver Centurion apiece – a rather significant and specific sum of money for a handful of bandits fresh from raiding a lone farmstead – as well as a few fine glazed blue Chiain vases of remarkable craftsmanship.

A celebratory mood followed them to the cave mouth and there was put down by Aiko who stood framed in moonlight at the doorway.

"It's not over,” Aiko said, grimly. “They were not the right twins."
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 4 - Sixfold Suffering

Five years ago, Wolfpic, Boulderlander Thane of the Stoneborn Clan, set out with the Winter Horde to invade the northern reaches of the Aedaric Empire. The invasion slammed to a halt in the face of Praetor Ralius and the amassed Curitas Legions who smashed the massed Boulderlanders against a wall of wood and bronze, sending the remnants of the fractured clans scattering in all directions.

With their people hunted and on the run, Wolfpic's mother, Sinsia, attempted to seduce Ralius and then kill him, but her plan was discovered before she could carry it out. In a calculated move, Ralius had her crucified at the gates of the 13th Legion Camp. When Wolfpic led the remnants of his people in a heroic charge to put an end to her her dying agony, they were massacred and Wolfpic crucified beside his wife.

One year ago, their son Nonac crossed the Frozen Marsh to seek vengeance for his family and people, a week ago catching first sight of the sheer mountains of Saito's Wall.

Four days ago, a band of foreign barbarians were captured sneaking into Chiain and set for execution the following dawn. A deal was made with their jailers Aiko Hara and her sister Hamura to break them free in exchange for helping recover their kidnapped twin siblings, later determined to be kidnapped by "bandits".

Tonight, after the successful assault on the bandit's liar and the merciful release of the lone bandit survivor, Aiko discovered the rescued "Twins" weren't the Twins but a brother and sister kidnapped from a village further north by a man named Akuma and a small group of mercenaries, led by one Brassy Jons. She insisted they needed to continue the search for the real twins.

This brought into debate whether the letter of their agreement had been met; after all, the group had assaulted a fortified camp outnumbered 2 to 1 to rescue them – it wasn't their fault that they were the wrong kids. Under interrogation about the coincidences of having her bail them out the same day the Twin Emperors died, she finally volunteered that she and Hamura had received a ransom request for their siblings and hatched a plan. They spread word in Heaven's Gateway about the possibility of sneaking into Chiain and bribed the bargemaster to turn a blind eye and allow foreigners easy entry - a crime he later died horribly for. Thus they found some foreigners to "kidnap" Aiko to hide their true intentions while also gathering outsiders familiar with the world beyond Chiain – outsiders now grateful and indebted for their escape from the headsman's block.

At the tail end of the discussion, Boulderlander Nanoc Borix approached the outpost, claiming he sought worthy companions to aid him in his quest for vengeance on one Praetor Ralius, general of the 13th Legion now marching north to suppress a rebellion in the Eon Baronies. After a brief discussion, Nanoc joined the companions for their promise to help him in his eventual confrontation with Praetor Ralius.

They returned to negotiating a contract with Aiko – during which Gorge bluntly told Aiko he would “eat her heart when this is all over” - wherein she promised their weight in gold upon the Twins' safe return to Chiain. Watches were posted and everyone slept.

The next morning as they prepared to leave, Michkin discovered a gruesome shrine in the lair's cave – nine bandit corpses mutilated and joined in a ring around a stone altar laden with the fine vases they'd recovered. Closer examination found each vase packed with eyes, ears, fingers, tongues, and the largest and finest of the vessels filled to the brim with blood. Broken backwards across the altar, the "twins" they had rescued, drowned in pools of blood.

While Aiko made warding signs against Death Spirits and Raxtus set to cleaning the grisly vases, Pursus demanded to be bound, proclaiming he was responsible. As they complied, he declared that his arcane powers came with two curses laid by his Soul Bank masters – the weaker curse allowing his “manager”, Alban Raha, to access his senses and surface thoughts, the stronger allowing his “ceo” Salga Rathe to blank his mind and control him like a puppet.

Eliot Sam responded by driving his spear at Pursus' chest, the Soul Banker saved only by Aiko's Shen-fueled reflexes. As Eliot Sam stormed off, Aiko warned she had poisoned them during their night in prison in Chiain – and Nonac the night before at dinner – promising they'd begin to die within a week without receiving the antidote she had been slipping into their tea. The true cure: a rare plant only found in Chiain.

Unswayed, Eliot departed.

He had not gotten far when the lone survivor of the “bandit” mercenaries they'd just eliminated crashed through the forest, gesturing of pursuit as he ran for the lair. Sam dove for a hiding spot while the mercenary sprinted past, arriving at the cave to tell his panting tale of capture and escape from their execution guards now calling themselves the Sixfold Suffering Gang after suffering mutilation and banishment for allowing the companions' escape. Their leaders: the executioner and a beautiful young guard captain's daughter, Rya Min, come seeking vengeance against her father's killer, Rextus Atomi.

As the Sixfold Gang slinked through the bamboo groves, one of them tripped over Eliot Sam. Sure he was doomed, Eliot Sam fought a desperate running battle in the woods while the main body of the Sixfold Suffering Gang assaulted the switchbacks up the cliff face and Michkin used stealth and cunning to pick off a detachment sent to explore the cave. An intense exchange of arrow and javelin fire, plus a few spells hurled by Pursus filled the edges of the battle while Hamura and Nanoc battled a surge of Sixfold on the switchbacks. Despite starting the battle severely wounded and taking more wounds in the struggle, Eliot Sam managed to wipe out all of his pursuers in a series of skirmishes, chases, and ambushes in the woods.

In the climactic final moments of the struggle, Hamura drove her spear through the executioner atop the switchbacks while, inside the lair, Gorge slammed his massive club into Aiko's spine, killing her instantly. "Don't say I didn't warn you, bitch," he said, tossing her body into the waterfall.

Outside, with the executioner dead and Rya Min wounded and running, the broken and scattered remnants of the Sixfold Suffering Gang fled.

Shotly after, a confused Michken walked out of the cave, Aiko's broken body limp in his arms.

Upon seeing it, Hamura screamed in rage and grief, pushing up her sleeve to reveal a golden dragon arm band. A twist of it summoned inlaid armor and a fierce dragon mask, a steel katana materializing in her outstretched hand.

The legendary armaments of Chiain's elite Jade Warriors...
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 5 - Chimney

Ten years ago, Eon Baron Gimble Throne crucified himself at the precipitous edge of the Sunken Kingdom – first step to becoming a Non Ja assassin. Eliot Sam could only watch, fulfilling his master's final command before being released to freedom after a decade fighting in the Eon Revolt against Praetor Ralius and his notorious 13th Legion.

This morning Gorge killed Aiko and dumped her body down the waterfall of the bandit's lair. Michkin discovered it and, bewildered, brought it forth. The sight threw Hamura into a killing rage.

As Hamura charged down the switchbacks in her gleaming jade armor a lean figure strode from the forest. Maderu Shima – the Jade Warrior last seen on the morning of the companions' execution in Chian – emerged, drawing up his sleeves to reveal two golden dragon arm bands to match Hamura's one. Shouting a rebuke, he declared Hamura scorned and exiled from the revered Jade Order. The giant warrior screamed in frustration and rage as her armor and sword dissolved away, steel and jade streaming away like cherry petals raining from a tree at bloom. Swearing revenge, Hamura fled with Aiko's body, strange ribbons of black cloth dancing and swirling around her.

Maderu approached the wary companions, declaring Aiko and Hamura traitors and stating his belief that they were part of a conspiracy that led to the synchronous murders of all the twins in Chiain. Lacking any other suitable vessels, the great Lord Saito had no choice but to invest His power in Aiko's younger twin siblings following the ancient Twin Emperors deaths. He apologized on behalf of his people for Aiko and Hamura's dishonor, announcing he would not force or even ask the companions to accompany him in his quest to return the Twins. Instead he simply called the Twins “innocent demigods at the whim of evil men” for whose safe return the Saitese people would give almost anything.

After a brief discussion, the companions declared they would join him on condition that he be their advocate in the face of Saitese xenophobia if they managed to return the Twins to their home. Maderu swore on the Twin Emperors and Lord Saito he would do so.

After burying the blood-drowned children, the companions readied for travel, planning to return to the homestead to search for the path of the real Twins. Their preparations were interrupted by horrible, piercing screams echoing from the woods. Maderu became troubled, advising everyone to wash and bind their wounds tightly then focus their minds on his back to the exclusion of all else as they walked to avoid the attentions of the Murder Spirit that seemed to now roam the woods. The tortured, wracking screams of the fleeing Sixfold Suffering Gang survivors led grim credence to his words.

Pursus volunteered to stay behind and face it should it fix on them as they traveled.

Shortly after setting off into the woods back towards the homestead, a red, iron-smelling mist surrounded them, an obscene figure stalking at the edges of their vision. As promised, Pursus stopped to face the bizarre monstrosity of blood and sinew to give the others time to escape, staring into its disturbingly hypnotic sucking maw as... a seizure struck.

“You shall not have him; he is mine,” a voice hissed in his mind. He blacked out.

The others reached the farmstead and waited an hour for Pursus, to no avail. In the meantime, Gorge discovered three sets of hoofprints leading north a ways from the farm. Out of nowhere, Pursus re-appeared unharmed, carrying one of the fine vases full to the brim with blood. They others regarded him uneasily as he swore he had no memory of how he eluded the Murder Spirit nor the source of the bloody jar and its contents. They left the unclean jar behind and followed what was assumed to be the true trail of Aiko's uncle, Akuma, and the Twins, his bandit diversion having bought him several more days head-start.

Pushing hard much of the rest of the day, they soon heard the brassy horns of the Aedaric Legions echoing distantly from beyond the woods. A few hours later found them stepping onto the unnaturally smooth stone surface of the Aetherurn Road, trodden clouds of dust swirling around them in the 13th Legion's wake.

Exhaused, they set a ways off the road and made camp. The night that followed was quiet, but for the passing of the strange six-legged deer spirit apparition, spotted by Nanoc in the far distance.

In the morning, Eliot Sam scouted the road, spotting a familiar figure riding a hay cart before a moment before said figure toppled to the dust. Eliot Sam shouted for help and rushed over to find Gimble Throne lying dying, wracked with the fever chills of some sickness. They carefully bundled him on Raxtus' cart and pushed north.

They had almost caught up the Legion when they spotted a tilted cylinder of iron reaching hundreds of feet into the air a few miles off the road to the west, signs of a Legion cohort or more trampling in its direction and back. Eliot Sam remembered a bit about the place and they diverted to Chimney, Michkin learning from a passing herdsman the “prettiest kids anyone ever seen” came through on fine Aeolian horses more than a few days back behind a richly dressed older Saitese man. The man briefly met with the Elderman of Chimney, Sterra, before the Saitese trio departed northwards.

After asking around town for a bit, Eliot Sam verified the herdsman's story, also catching and earful of the Legion stripping the town of anything that might be useful – purchased at rock-bottom prices thanks to the looming influence of a hundred heavily-armed Legionaries standing casually at arms. Meanwhile Raxtus dug into his cart, extracting the organ jars from the desecrated altar in the cave. To his surprise and curiosity, they had refilled with the various body parts that had been stuffed within them.

Around the base of the mysterious and looming rusted iron mass of the Chimney, they discovered the ramshackle lair of Pygmy wise-woman Sutta Sutta. Eliot Sam made her an instant friend via his ability to speak the First Tongue and through his translations Raxtus attempted to sell her one of the grisly jars. Sutta Sutta took it and shattered it upon the hard ground, swearing that a dark spirit followed close behind it. Raxtus wasted no time following her example and breaking the others into small pieces, scattering their fragments across the red earth.

While Sutta Sutta brewed acrid concoctions for their battle wounds and to ease the dying Gimble Throne's pain, Gorge's spotted something gleaming in a nest clinging to the pitted iron wall of the Chimney. Gorges trained hawkling battled a stubborn magpie for possession of what turned out to be a tarnished silver amulet. Wondering what other treasures might be secreted away in the nest, Michkin scaled the flaking wall of the Chimney in a daring feat of athleticism to find ivory magpie ring nestled in the weave of the nest.

Upon donning it, the magpie alighted on his finger and attempted to steal the ring back. After a series of experiments, Michkin learned the magpie had to follow his commands, though it resisted and complained in muttering squawks at every order.

Sutta Sutta muttered and clicked to herself in First Tongue as she identify the teas and herbs within Aiko's elaborate tea chest while Pursus scoured the chest itself, discovering a secret compartment in the lid containing three tiny lead beads, a large bone needle, a bundle of leaves identified as the sedative that knocked them out in prison, along with a dozen leather baggies of yellow powder that Sutta Sutta called “succimer”. She remembered the substance as some sort of antidote, but for what poison she was unsure.

Gimble Throne awakened spluttering moments after Sutta Sutta's concoction bubbled down his throat. With a flask of ale to wash away its bitter taste and loosen his tongue, Gimble Throne spoke of his twenty years fighting Praretor Ralius, of the Praetor's elaborate torture and execution of the Throne family one-by-one to force him to give up the location of his half of the Vault of Throne, an arcane key he now wore sealed in wax around his neck.

He spoke of Sinsia Borix's attempt to bring Ralius down by sleeping with him to get close enough to kill him, to be discovered and tortured before being crucified, of Wolfpic's heroic yet doomed charge that left his Clan eradicated and he nailed beside her while Throne watched helpless in the distance. He warned that Praetor Ralius was the greatest Aedaric general and perhaps the best general in the world, his Praetorian Bodyguards the best money could buy. The companions – led by Nanoc and Eliot Sam – promised to bring down Ralius, avenge he, Sinsia, and Wolfpic Borix and to notify the Non Ja of Gimble Throne's failure to kill Praetor Ralius as he swore when he joined their secretive ranks.

Finally, he passed the Vault of Throne to Eliot Sam, calling him his son and thus heir to the Barony of Throne. All he need do was reclaim the half of the Vault that Ralius wore and unlock the arsenal buried deep beneath the burned out ruins of the Throne Keep.

Gimble Throne passed peacefully to laughter and camaraderie beneath a canopy of gleaming stars and Eliot Sam smiled sadly has he closed his former master's eyes for the last time.

After burying him this morning, the companions approached the large stone house of Elderman Sterra and were greeted by the Elderman on the broad planks half-haphazardly bridging the mud-churned streets. Sterra dripped disdain for the sellspears Akuma hired on his way south a week ago – mostly common herdsman lured with promises of easy money – and admitted that Akuma had stopped in briefly to speak to Sterra on his way North less than a week past.

When the group stated they were looking for Akuma, Sterra smiled and said Akuma had left something just for them. The companions stared, mouths agape as Sterra slipped back within his abode.

After several minutes of strained silence and stillness, the group spread out and placed nervous hands on weapons.

For good reason.

Moments later the front and back doors slammed open and armed figures poured out from the Elderman's home.
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 6 - Out of the Frying Pan

Two weeks ago, Aka Jin - Eliot Sam's business partner and the man Michkin Right set out to find to fulfill his father's life debt - vanished after charges of smuggling.

This morning after burying Gimble Throne, the companions approached Alderman Sterra of Chimney, inquiring after Akuma and the Twins. A few minutes passed uncomfortably after Sterra stepped inside to “get something Akuma left for you” before the doors flew open and what appeared to be an entire family of ranchers stumbled from his house clutching an array of improvised weapons.

Reeking of excrement, heads hanging at odd angles, and eyes blank, the seemingly lobotomized locals shambled towards them. Though taken aback by the onslaught, the jerky, clumsy thrusts and swings of the ranchers were no match for the quick efficiency of the now-veteran companions. Though a hard, brutal battle it was over in moments as Maderu crushed those that stumbled from the rear of the house with his staff and the others butchered those that surged from the front. Even more unnerving than their appearance and smell, their assailants all died without uttering a sound.

Their blood up, Eliot Sam and Michkin rushed inside just in time to see Sterra fleeing out the back. Eliot Sam's quick thinking and faster throwing arm hobbled the Elderman and left him writhing and whimpering as he clutched the knife hilt protruding from his calf.

The group hogtied Sterra and set to ransacking his house, hurried by the cries of hunting horns as the townsfolk began to rally in the town square, presumably in response to the apparent slaughter of an innocent rancher family in the midst of an unprovoked assault on their Alderman by a ragtag band of strange foreigners.

As the others swiped whatever they could inside, Pursus probed the dark sorcery on the corpses. Whoever they had once been the ranchers were those people no longer when they attacked the companions, hollowed out and left as mere empty, inhuman shells. Almost as disturbing, the dark magics that had done the foul deed were strangely untraceable, as if it were one spell woven erratically by several people at once.

The companions high-tailed it as an ever-growing posse mustered and armed in the town behind them. They questioned Sterra on the run, asking hard enough to remove one of his fingers in the process, gleaning between the man's fainting spells that Sterra was paid by Akuma to hold the Hollowed rancher family and set them to kill anyone who came asking after Akuma and the Twins.

The dubious safety of the Aetherrun Road was just in sight when a bloody mist drifted across the companions' path, the dozen yellow-robed figures visible within framed by the shifting, monstrous fleshy form of the murder spirit. A small figure stepped forward and pulled back her cowl: the young woman from of the Sixfold Suffering Gang, her eyes gouged from their sockets and replaced by obscene shimmering orbs of liquid blood. A quick skim of the rest of the cultists showed their Sixfold mutilations were similarly regrown with grotesque imitations formed of raw meat and bloody sinew.

“I am Rya Min, voice of 72 Immaculate Sufferings,” she said. Her lips never moved, the words instead reverberating in their skulls and rippling the viscous pools of her eyes.

She demanded Pursus fulfill his side of the bargain he made back in the bamboo groves around the lair – to now provide the lives he promised in exchange for 72 Immaculate Sufferings sparing his own. After a brief debate, Pursus prepared to sacrifice himself again, but his companions held him back. In response the cultists to drew forth razor-sharp human femurs blades from the depths of their robes, the dark spirit's mist thickening around them and his slowly gained size and substance.

Thinking quickly, Michkin quietly poured away the protective sand from the Runic scroll he'd swiped from Raxtus' cart when the Tinker lad wasn't watching, then hurled it at the cultists. With inhuman quickness, what was once Rya Min caught it, unrolled it, glanced at the Runics, and bowed.

“We accept.”

As the danger ahead melted from their path in a fading swirl of red mist, the danger behind drew closer as the town of Chimney rousted itself for blood and gave chase. The companions tied Alderman Sterra to stakes on the roadside to delay the posse. Michkin swiped a half-eaten boy's heart from Gorge and strapped it around the Elderman's neck as Eliot Sam traced Runics in the dirt as further warning. In the process, the group learned first-hand the origin of the Runic superstitions as unstable magic flowed into the Runics as Eliot Sam sketched, the explosion sending the old vagabond sailing through the air and hurling everyone else into the red dirt.

After pulling themselves to their feet, bandaging their word-wounds, and hurling a few final warnings at the terrified, quaking Sterra, the group pushed north - all but for Gorge and Raxtus who decided they'd now was time to take their leave, heading South in search of Gorge's true love, the Courtesan Subtle Jade.

The savage and the tinker had barely passed out of sight when sounds of mounted pursuit clattered on the Road – but not the posse of angry ranchers they expected. Instead a troupe of excellently-equipped Saitese soldiers, led by a haughty, sharp-faced man in fine black silks thundered towards them, reigning just shy of the companions. At the tail-end of what sounded like an argument in Saitese between Mideru Shigan and the newcomer, the man tried a new tactic, announcing himself in accented Aedaric as Blisseru Migan, agent of the Heavenly Bureaucracy of Chiain.

He ordered the group to reveal what they knew of the Twins and Akuma. When they resisted, he pressured them instead to leave Mideru and join him, calling Mideru and his order of Jade Warriors “sad, outdated relics”. Eliot Sam succinctly summed up the groups' thoughts on the matter by telling Blisseru to “f!*k off”.

Blisseru rode off in a huff while Mideru told them the man was actually a “secret” member of the Continuum. The old warrior spoke sadly of the growth of power of the Continuum within Chiain – originally a secret order dedicated only to ensuring the line of Twin Emperors remained unbroken which recently had began assuming more and more power. Compounding the surge of the order's growth, most of their gains were at the expense of the Jade Warriors, long the protectors and servants of the people of Chiain but no being slowly pushed into irrelevancy. Given the breadth of the conspiracy to murder twins in Chiain, Mideru declared that he trusted a group of foreigner barbarians more than any agent of the Continuum.

They stopped for lunch, consuming the last of their rice in the dust of the 13th Legion, when Pursus suddenly shouted a code word “canolli” and was quickly hogtied and gagged, the group then witnessing the Soul Banker's bizarre one-sided and muffled conversation with no one. When the episode passed, they ungagged him and questioned him. His revelations: his Ghost Bank manager Alban had shard that he could “Step Behind the Heart” sharing Pursus' senses and surface thoughts. Further, he now knew the Bank was comprised of individuals with many different goals, the powerful ceo bosses able to Grip the Soul and directly control any Managers or Initiates below them for greatly varied ends – some altruistic and benevolent, some selfish to perverted.

Alban had told him he hated their ceo, Salga Rethe, calling her a twisted sadist and seeking Pursus' aid in bringing her down. Pursus agreed on condition Alban release his curse if and when they removed Salga's threat. Alban agreed, hinting that Pursus might “listen in” when Salga Gripped his Soul to catch feedback that might give clues to who and where Salga was.

The new information filed away, the group pressed on, reaching the Legion follower's camp in the late afternoon. Marching down the “street” between the chaotic sprawl of tents, Eliot Sam spotted the business sign of his shop back in Heaven's Gateway, the Relic Roadshow. Curious, they entered. Within: piles of cheap junk and Aka Jin's shriveled junk all on display.

While Eliot Sam and the crude Aka traded ribald insults, slurs, and vulgarities, Michkin realized to his horror that this deprived old man was the same Aka owed the life-debt Michkin had inherited from his father.

After Eliot Sam collected his share of the business' recent earnings, he hatched a plan to gather information about the Legion, a plan involving some cheap whores, cheaper moonshine, casual inquiries, and an elaborate story of the evils of inter-family kidnapping woven by Pursus to garner sympathy.

While this transpired, Michkin played with the Magpie Ring Aka had identified, sending his new winged pet to seek something shiny that might fulfill his new oath to Aka to bring him something the jaded old Saitese wanderer had never seen before. The magpie returned with a bizarre bloody coin twined with wire. The young man stared at it in confusion while his more worldly companions gave him contradictory explanations of what it was for.

That aside, the sum total of the information gleaned in the shindig that followed: Praetor Ralius was marching his legion slowly, taking time to whip his troops into shape with hard training and harsher discipline, including decimation of two cohorts for sneaking off to go whoring as they passed Heaven's Gateway. As hated by the artisans in camp: Quartermaster Philia, known for iron-hard dealings. Lastly, Akuma and the Twins had been spotted by several witnesses, riding north around the Legion several days back.

This morning, after spending some of Alderman Sterra's confiscated silver on arms, armor, and horses, the group circled around the Legion themselves. An hour later and half-way past the marching Legion, sounds of pursuit clattered through the scrubby forest through which they passed.

As the group readied weapons, Eliot Sam rode ahead, just in time to see a stunning far-eastern Eiberian woman fall from her horse, the sounds of her pursuers close behind.

As she met his eyes, a spark seemed to jump between them.

“Help me,” she said in Eiberian.

“I'm coming,” Eliot Sam promised, in the same tongue.
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 7 - Rifts

The companions set out from the Legion follower's camp, traveling barely an hour past the marching Legion before sounds of pursuit sounded through the copses of gnarled pines. Eliot Sam rode ahead, spotting the subject of the chase: a young, beautiful Eiberian slave woman in tattered silks, a squad of mounted Legion Auxiliaries in close pursuit. Eliot Sam ignored commands to halt, charged into the teeth of the onrushing cavalry, scooped the woman into his saddle, wheeled, and rode hard away.

In the pursuit that followed, inexperienced horseman Pursus lagged behind as the others raced away out of sight, only his magic protecting him from a barrage of arrows and javelins unleashed by the pursuing Auxiliaries. Unbeknownst to him his friends lay in ambush ahead, leaping out of the trees and taking down half the Auxiliaries in the first attack. After a short, brutal skirmish the two surviving Auxiliaries rode for their lives.

The companions wasted no time fleeing themselves, not wanting to face the wrath of Praetor Raluis' Legions – more so when the woman, Samara Ashik, revealed she was the personal companion slave to Ralius. In her words, the only thing that might save them was to put enough distance between themselves and the Legion that Ralius' sense of duty might outweigh his rage.

After riding hard all day and part of the night they returned to the road, passing endless supply wagons lumbering south from Aetherport to keep the 13th Legions fed and paid mixed. In straggles and clumps between the wagon streamed innumerable Aedaric refugees fleeing the revolt in the Eon Baronies while Aetherships drifting through the skies above gradually became commonplace. That night while they rested their exhausted horses, they failed to free Samara from the gilded collar that she said suppressed her magical capabilities.

Spotted that night on watch: the familiar Deer Spirit following a massive herd of deer north, and, later, an Aethership listing and losing altitude as it careened towards Aetherport.

They pushed the horses hard again as soon as they awoke, the beasts' only rest when a spotted aether pearl diverted them to a small Aether rift – the many vents, fissures, and crevasses from which endlessly flowed streaming motes of multicolored Aetheric energies. Nanoc volunteered to extract it, nearly falling down the seemingly bottomless crevice when his efforts to extract the pearl severed the rope holding him. Through a combination of his sheer strength and his companion's efforts to get ropes to him he scrambled out and not a moment too soon. The sounds of something monstrous scrabbling up the sheer cliffs towards him in the darkness of the rift echoed in his psyche.

Near sunset, adventure! The Aethership spotted in distress the night before was discovered wedged thirty feet down in an Aether Rift barely wide enough to support it, the ship clearly abandoned. Interpreting the ship's groans and occasional cracking sounds from the cliff face to be predictions of the craft's immanent plunge to the bottomless dark, they wasted no time in anchoring some rope and scrambling down to see what loot might be had.

Pursus, Eliot Sam, and Michkin dived into the hold, finding evidence the crew had swiped unknown choicest bits that had been smuggled in the hold for themselves before abandoning ship. What remained: hundreds of small boxes of spices and several large sacks of salt. Their brief attempt to systematically search and sort the contents was interrupted by the creaks and groans of the slowly breaking spine of the ship. When Nanoc whispered warning from above that a “goddamn tentacle monster” was attempting to sneak up the cliff face towards them, careful planning switched to rapidly stuffing empty salt bags with anonymous spice boxes.

While Pursus and Michkin worked at cramming in as much loot as they could carry, Eliot Sam and Nanoc faced the tentacled monstrosity slithering up from the depths – a fleshy, tentacled mass constricted around a massive Aether Pearl the size of a melon. Michkin popped up to the deck just in time to see a tentacle coil around Eliot Sam and yank him off the deck. Michkin and Nanoc managed to sever a tentacle probing about trying to snare on of them while down below Eliot Sam managed grasp a dangling Aether-skein wire to save himself. At that moment, the monster unleashed a psychic blast that scattered unconscious heroes across the deck and left Eliot Sam helpless in its grasp.

Pursus finished securing the last of the loot and ran on deck as Samara and Mideru rappelled down to aid as well. Alas, they were too late, the beast already disappearing down the cliff face with unconscious Eliot Sam and Nanoc clutched in its crushing grasp. Though Michkin, then Pursus leaped for the small dangling wires to get closer and rescue their friends, the monstrosity was already almost to its tunneled lair far down the sheer face. Desperately, Michkin swung from his wire and plummeted downwards in a heroic attempt to land on the monstrosity... and sailed past it.

As Michkin fell to his doom, Pursus watched helplessly for a moment before remembering The Bank. Summoning his Alban with a desperate psychic plea, Pursus asked if he could sell a soul remotely. Alban asked if the seller was willing.

“Will you sell your soul?” Pursus shouted.

“Yes!” Michkin replied as he vanished into the darkness.

A moment later, Michkin stumbled into beast's lair, as if his sixty-foot fall had somehow, impossibly landed him safely on the lip of the cave, his fall fading from all but Mickin's mind as though they had imagined it.

Mickin charged in shouting and Eliot Sam and Nanoc awoke in the clutches of the beast, facing a desperate battle against the abomination in its very lair. Pursus made a desperate gambit and free-climbed down the cliff face to aid them, arriving just in time for Nanoc to drive a sword-point into the monster's pearl, shattering it and unleashing another blast, knocking all four of the companions unconscious.

An indeterminate time later, they awoke to faint shouts from Mideru and Samara above, the tentacle-beast haven't apparently slunk away while they were passed out.

They had just begun to loot its lair when Mideru's shouts warned them of the weakened cliff face's immanent collapse. A long rope lashed to the Aether ship's rails unfurled before them and they rapidly scaled it, the ship groaning and shuddering as rocks skittered and rained down the cliff. Their weight back aboard the ship suddenly canted it starboard, nearly hurling several off the deck.

Scrambling to their feet, they hurled themselves up the final rope, all but Eliot Sam safely arrived before Nanoc's terrible rope-luck severed the rope. Nanoc managed to catch himself and free-climb that last twenty feet, but there was no time to aid Sam. Eliot Sam thought quickly, grabbed the line still tied to the rail and rappelled down in massive leaps. He dived into the lair just as the whole side of the cliff tore away above, the broken Aethership vanishing into the rift.

An hour's labor and one long, ramshackle rope/belt/chain/clothing conglomeration later and Eliot Sam climbed to safety.

The total haul from their endeavor: an Etched buckler capable of deflecting sorcery, another etched disc of unknown use, and twenty-two small chests of various spices.

After collapsing into an exhausted slumber, they set out the next morning, pushing hard until near sunset when they catching their first glimpse of Aetherport's wood-and-stone sprawl huddling along the Great Rift. A the massive ziggurat of the Aether docks anchored the city, spiked with gantries and cranes. The rest of the city sprawled beneath snaking aqueducts and the massive reverse-waterfall of ascending rainbow-hued Aether filling the far horizon.

On a bench at the top of the hill they had just crested, sat Brassy Johns, flashing her brass grill. Assuaging their suspicions with promises that the earlier unpleasantness had been just business, she swore she could be of use. Not only was she born and raised in Aetherport, but she had brought someone to them.

A cloaked man stumbled towards them from the trees. At a nod from Brassy, he pulled back his hood. The man's face looked half-made, unformed, as if a pencil drawing that had only been loosely sketched.

The companions looked to Brassy, not comprehending.

Brassy's grin widened. “I give you: the real Nise Akuma!”
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 8 - A Simple Plan

This morning, this first sight of Aetherport after several days of hard ridding and intermittent battles: a sprawling city of gnarled wood and red stone spilling out from the massive gantries and Aethership docks jutting up all along the edge of the Great Rift. Flowing endlessly over it all, the massive reverse-waterfall of Aether pouring upwards from the Rift.

Also, Brassy Jons awaiting them on the road to the city with information to sell.

To verify Brassy Jons' presentation of the “real Nise Akuma”, Pursus probed the poor half-made man with his magics, determining that he had been the subject of two curses – the Theft of Voice and Theft of Face, both laid upon him by a two indivudals: one Namesaker Elios and someone identifiable as “Zos”.

The strangest part: Pursus could think of no way for two people to have both casting a single spell. Struggling to explain it to the others, he came up with the analogy of seeing a grape sitting on the road and being told two people both spat it out at the same time.

Questioning Nise, the man told of a beautiful woman seducing him, then awakening the next morning to see her putting on his face and speaking with his voice, leaving him with only the barest hints of either. He'd shadowed the thief for months since, searching for some way to get his stolen identity back, in the process learning only that she was “Namesaker.”

Deciding based on Pursus analysis that the rest of the information Brassy had for sale was likely also valid, the group asked her price for the location of the Twins. Her reply: “Six things – five silver Centurions and... I'm coming with you.”

After much discussion – including Eliot Sam taking her aside to assess her loyalty. Her pitch sold him: “people are like things, they're worth keeping around as long as they're useful. Be useful to me and I'll be useful to you.”

They settled on an agreement: she would join them with a full share of whatever wealth they earned in exchange for her telling what she knew of the Twins... plus a romp in the woods with “Pretty Pursus” to seal the deal.

While Pursus handled the last bit, Samara expressed her dissatisfaction with the new arrangement, taking Eliot Sam aside to tell him Brassy shouldn't be trusted much less invited to join them. She also proclaimed her displeasure that Eliot Sam wasn't leading the group as should be his “rightful place” as an Eon Baron. Eliot Sam riled her up by telling her Brassy was already coming, that he wasn't the leader, and that Samara needed to stop calling Eliot “My Lord” all the time. Just as she was about to explode at him, he smoothed everything over when he snuck in that he intended Samara be his wife some time in the future.

Samara calmed and Brassy returning from the woods satisfied with Pursus' performance, she told what she know of the Twins: departed three days ago from Aetherport onboard the ship Paradise East. Her Captain, Suvaro Cursus, swayed by what was rumored to be a full Gold Imperial – worth 10,000 Copper Wretches – paid in exchange for a one-week trip North for three horses, one Akuma, and a pair of Saitese twins.

As they walked the last few miles towards the massive under-construction outer gate of Aetherport, it was determined that raising the 3-4 gold Dynasts they'd probably need to hire an Aethership might be accomplished by selling faceless Nise's local warehouse full of rice and silks. All they needed to do was get into the city, sneak into his warehouse, and liquidate everything inside. A simple plan, but, of course, not a single part of the plan worked as intended.

They had almost reached the massive new gate to Aetherport when a squadron of Fleet Legion riders galloped past to talk with the Silver Order guards manning the gate. Even from the distance, Michkin was able to deduce they were giving descriptions of Samara and perhaps the others.

The group figured out a plan to get inside and were about to execute it when a heavy Boulderland accent boomed out behind them addressed to Nanoc.

“Boulderlander, what brings you to the Softlands and from which clan do you hail?”

What seemed to be a friendly greeting turned to a challenge when the massive approaching Boulderlander revealed himself to be Aslot Storn, a Castkin exiled from the Kinnate for some unknown dishonor, seeking to regain his honor by killing Boulderlanders in single combat. A necklace of six (unmatched) ears spoke to the progress of his plan.

Nanoc walked away at first, but turned back as Aslot loudly shouted to the passing hordes of Barony-fled refugees, Legion supply wagons, and general city traffic that Nanoc, his Borix name, and his whole Stoneborn Clan as weaklings and cowards. Pursus decried the unfairness of the challenge – Nanoc having lost his weapons during the Aetherrift battle with the tentacle beast – prompting Aslot unceremoniously strip the weapons from one of his handful of young Boulderlander-wannabee groupies that followed him around. Nanoc took his borrowed weapons and nodded his readiness as a crowd of hundreds gathered to watch.

The battle was over in seconds.

Aslot ripped his greataxe from fallen Nanoc's shoulder, drew a knife, and knelt over Nanoc's unconscious body. With hands on weapons, Eliot Sam stepped forward and suggested to Aslot he could take Nanoc's ear, but not his life. Aslot agreed and away adding Nanoc's ear to his necklace. Aslot ignored one of his groupies' cry for help after an altercation with Michkin erupted into swordplay and sent the hapless groupie running off with a maimed arm.

Pursus' magics were able to get Nanoc on his feet – barely – and the group continued with their entry plan. Brassy and Nise used their passes to get through the gate first, heading off to check out Nise's warehouse later to meet back at the Driftport Inn. Next, Pursus and Nanoc paid the entry fee – including Pursus buying a merchant's license to sell polished pebbles on a whim – and made for the Inn.

Eliot Sam and the cowled Samara were not as lucky as a suspicious Silver Order guard shouted an order at Samara. She looked to Eliot Sam who nodded. When her hood fell away, the guards swore and leapt to seize her. After a short chase and running skirmish with the Silver Order, the companions found themselves huddled around a table in the back room of a quiet bar. Eliot Sam bore his heavy wounds stoically to not give them away as the Silver Order patrols searched outside, seeking vengeance for the guardsman Eliot Sam killed during the running battle.

After a quick discussion everyone split up and headed towards the Driftwood Inn in small groups. Eliot Sam and Samara whiled the time for a bit, posing as beggars.

Another beggar stared at them long enough for them to grow worried, but when he finally approached he revealed himself to be a young Barony man tongue-tied in the presence of the legendary Eliot Sam from the first Eon War. He begged Eliot Sam to intercede in the current Barony rebellion with its many competing, disorganized factions struggling to unify in face of the come Legion. The young man showed his own fanatical determination, displaying the clay Runic tablets strapped beneath his robe, swearing others like him lay in wait throughout the city ready to take out Silver Order and Legion barracks, Imperial Cult Temples, Aethership gantries, and the Aqua-Sentinam, the giant building that supplied Aetherport's many aqueducts. The attack had been set: that very night at sunset.

Finally all convening at the Driftport Inn, the companions confirmed their original plan: head to Nise's local warehouse, break in, and sell everything inside in hopes of using the proceeds to purchase passage on an Aethership.

When they arrived, two problems: First, the warehouse was empty. Second, the brass locks on the doors were trapped with some sort of Chymestral beads. Michkin circumnavigated the second problem, taking a risky leap to the loading dock jutting out into the Great Rift as Nanoc climbed the building. With the help of some dropped ropes, the companions gained access to the warehouse without having to disable the trapped locks.

Once inside and able to rest for a while amidst the empty crates, they dispatched Pursus and Nanoc to sell their horses and the loot from the crashed Aethership. They returedn with clothes for Samara and other essentials and everyone had just agreed they must somehow acquire an Aethership when Pursus pulled out the strange etched Aether Pearl disk taken from the tentacle-beast's lair, distracted by its periodic twitches and trembles. His bush-rat familiar, CI, hissed, fur standing straight out in all directions. Brassy asked to examine the disc it to ascertain whether they might be able to sell it and Pursus handed it over.

Just before she got a hand on it, the disc revealed its true form – a familiar if tiny version of the monster that had hauled half their group down to its lair at the ship. Before anyone could react, it leapt onto Pursus' shoulder, four tentacled arms enwrapping his familiar...

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 9 - Monsoom

Pursus feld his familiar's desperate struggle on his shoulder but he stayed his companions as they raised their weapons, not wanting to risk injuring CI. The tenracle creature, meanwhile, leeched dreams of replacing CI as Pursus' familiar, promising powerful magics if Pursus let his loyal friend die in the little abomination's crushing grasp..

Pursus' response was to blast away one of its limbsc, sending it scurrying away only to be captured and claimed by Samara as her new familiar.

Outside, as the winds picked up, the red wall of a massive Mansoom loomed in the West, Michkin and Pursus came down with simultaneous splitting headaches followed by a quick warning from Alban that they should beware of Salga attempting to seize Michkin. As quickly as he'd come, Alban faded away, Pursus taking the opportunity to share with Michkin the basics of how to get feedback on Salga's location should she attempt to Grip his Soul.

Realizing the Monsoom would be a perfect opportunity to make a play at an Aether Ship, the group pressed Brassy for a Captain that might be willing to gamble on their venture. She spoke of the Fleets, belonging to various House of Patron Princes or the Legions and the Independents struggling to go their own way.

In particular, she spoke of a Captain Swinlin Taggart, a nobody who had stumbled upon a valuable relic or treasure somewhere in the wastes, sold it for a small fortune, and turned that fortune into two mid-sized Aether Ships, one for him, the other for his sister. Rumor held that his sister's ship had just recently crashed into a rift a ways from Aetherport, taking a fortune in some rare smuggled cargo with it and likely leaving Taggart desperate. She warned them of his proud, prickly demeanor then pressed a case for warning the authorities of the immanent Eonic martyr attack that was to include the Aque-Sentinam that provided all the water in Aetherport, without which her home city would die.

As no one else much cared what happened to the city, she set out on her own, promising to meet them at the gates to the Gantry Ports at sunset after warning the Proconsul of the danger to the city.

The group set out for a tavern known as the Riftwall where Independents were known to congregate, arriving just as the red hurricane of blasting sands enveloped the city. While they found the heavily-guarded wall separating the Gantry Port from the rest of the city, they became lost in the storm until the distinctive wide-brimmed hat and long duster of an Aether Captain marched past with a retinue of sailors. After a brief exchange with the large beard-braided captain, one Bellono Togo, they trailed him to the Riftwall.

Once inside, they wasted no time returning rude gestures and dark looks with the sailor within, starting a brief tussle with an especially belligerent sailor within that was quickly crescendoing towards armed battle with a bar full of angry sailors. Eliot Sam calmed things down before they got out of hand with a few jokes and a round of drinks, feeling pretty good about himself until, as they waited for their pitchers at the bar, his first wife Betty Schorn stormed in and accosted him, his foppish twenty-ish son Eliot Jr. in tow. After an exchange of barbed comments and insults, she left saying she'd raised Eliot for the first twenty years, he could have him for whatever was left.

Michkin set about simultaneously befriending Eliot Jr. and pickpocketing him while Eliot Sam headed outside, looking for Samara who'd stormed out during Eliot Sam and Betty's exchange. She made him swear he would have no more women, demanded a ring “soon”, and told him if he ever sold her into slavery, she'd escape, find him, and feed him his man-parts.

When Taggart finally showed up with his First Mate Steffa Bost in tow, they bought him top-shelf Aetherport Crystal Rum and told him an only slightly edited tale of their find of his sister's missing ship. Taggart seemed immensely relieved – not because his sister and her crew had likely escaped, but that they'd taken whatever secret cargo they were carrying with them.

Pressing the Captain about his availability for hire, he mentioned that a Saitese official by the name of Blisseru Migan had recently hired the Captain to transport himself, four injured men, and their horses. 5 Gold Dynasts for a one week trip, a trip that Taggart mused echoed the now-legendary hire of the Paradise East for a full Gold Imperial to make a similar journey north a few days ago.

After Pursus strained to convince the Captain to take them instead despite their being able to scrape together less than one-fifth that amount. In the process Pursus began dropping not-so-subtle threats that eventually provoked a duel with the man, brought to a halt only when the First Mate angrily interceded, declaring the Captain wouldn't get himself killed and ruin her livelihood over a couple threat from random nobodies.

Deciding they needed to prove they were resourceful enough to get Taggart the money, Michkin set out to rob Captain Togo in the middle of the tavern as the man loudly told tales of his latest profitable ventures. As Pursus and Nanoc created a spontaneous diversion of magical candles and Boulderlander flame-dancing, Michkin swiped a small fortune – a Dynast and a few silver Centurions – from the Captain.

Presenting their now 2-and-change Dynasts to Taggart and swearing they would pay 7 on arrival if he would take them instead, they finally convinced him, promising to meet him in an hour at the gates of the Gantry Port. A final innocent question established that Blisseru was lodged in the Driftport Inn by the new gates of Aetherport. About that time Togo noticed the missing money and loudly denounced the group as the only suspects. The group sprinted out into the storm, a bar-full of enraged sailors on their heels.

Quickly losing the mob in the blinding Monsoom, they managed to make good time towards the inn despite the weather. En-route, they stumbled into a terrified young Eonic martyr, Eliot Sam boosting his resolve as he complained of being lost and having no idea when sunset might be in the midst of the sky-stealing sandstorm. Elsewhere in the city, another martyr seemed to echo his confusion - a massive flash and rumble shook the streets, the glow of a massive fire setting the storm aglow.

Leaving the martyr to his own devices, the group stumbled through the swirl of choking red grit and in a short while found themselves on the driftwood porch of the Driftport Inn.

Quietly breaking in, they wove their way through the sleeping forms in the common room towards the stairs leading to the private rooms. Maderu Shima quietly bowed out of the immanent violence, saying he would not fight his fellow countrymen.

Then a massive explosion nearby shook the inn to wakeful chaos. A bandaged Saitese man in black silk hustled down the stairs and, spotting the group heading his way with weapons in-hand, rushed back up shouting in Saitese. A flurry of thrown knives and blasting magics silenced him, but not before shouts of alarm echoed above...

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 10 - Aethership

The companions poured up the stairs. Hearing hasty barricades clattering against the doors to the upstairs rooms, the companions battered at the walls instead, breaching through to the rooms of Blisseru and his men. In the midst of the short, vicious battle, Michkin – keeping watch down below - heard shutters blast open into the Monsoom upstairs and rushed outside just in time to see Blisseru sail through the air to a building across the street. At the same moment, Nise showed up smelling overpoweringly of sewage.

Michkin had no time to ask what was happening with Nise, rushing upstairs to tell the others of Blisseru's escape and barging in just as the last of Blisseru's men died. After hastily looting the bodies and rooms, the group headed back into the choking grit. They stumbled through a blinding hell lit repeatedly by the flash and rumble of distant explosions. The scramble sent them through craters, ducking around burning buildings, and, bizarrely, wading through ankle deep water where shattered aqueducts transformed streets into rivers.

On the way, they found themselves briefly in the lee of a wooden palisade, face-to-face with the young martyr who had warned Eliot Sam of the attacks the day before. Eliot Sam bolstered the lads' flagging courage and sent the young man charging off into the storm.

A short while later, the companions arrived at the gates to the Gantry Port – or what was left of where the gates had been: a several-hundred foot wide crater strewn with smoking rubble. Beyond, Aetherships blazed, setting the storm aglow as bucket brigades of sailors frantically attempted to quench the blazes. When questions, a passing sailor pointed them westward, directing them to the Independent Docks.

Storm-muffled sounds of battle reached them long before they reached the docks themselves and they raced onward to find two dozen Hollow sailors and citizens assaulting Captain Taggart's ship.
At the prow, Blisseru and his sole surviving agent battled a swarm of Hollowed while at the aft-castle Taggart, his first mate Steffa, and a handful of surviving sailors battled desperately against an even larger horde. Though the group launched a reckless assault to save the Captain and crew, only Blisseru remained standing of those aboard the ship when the last of the Hollowed had been dispatched. Worse, during the fighting Taggart ordered the mooring lines cut and the ship drifted in the storm towards a burning ship still tied at anchor.

Eliot Sam leapt to the ship's yoke, hazarding a guess at what manipulations might steer them clear. He guessed wrong, ripping the front of the ship off in the process and sending Michkin flying off the ship to his death – or would have if his Ghost Bank gift hadn't sent him back in time a few seconds to secure himself before the collision.

Michkin raced to the helm to replace Eliot Sam and steered clear of the tangle about the same time Maderu discovered the captain was breathing, barely. Pursus managed to heal him to consciousness while the group discussed what to do about Blisseru. Between Pursus and Maderu's assurances, Eliot Sam's killer instinct was reigned in and the group approached Blisseru warily but with weapons sheathed.

They had just begun to question the Continuum Agent when stared past them and pointed at Nise, accusing the unformed man of luring Blisseru's men to an ambush by Hollow Men the day before. At that moment, Nise lunged forward towards Captain Taggart with a knife. Michkin jerked the ship askew in an attempt to throw Nise off balance, but it was too late.

Nise whispered “I'm sorry” to Michkin and hurled himself off the ship as Taggart slumped to the deck with a knife buried in his skull. An unintended effect of the maneuver sent Blisseru stumbling into the aether catch that punched through the ship held it aloft, leaving Blisseru tangled... and at the group's mercy. After extracting a promise that Blisseru would do no harm to anyone in their association, Eliot Sam extracted the Continuum Agent from the mesh of the aether catch.

As they drifted off into the Great Rift, the Monsoom briefly thinned, revealing burning devastation across Aetherport The Aque-Sentinam seemed to be intact so Brassy had presumably done her job... wherever she was.

After taking an inventory of the ship and settling in, the group scattered and passed out, exhausted from almost two long days of hard riding and fighting and scheming since the last time they slept. Aside from a slight mishap with a flock of geese tangling themselves in the Skein, the next day passed uneventfully, finding them at the end of the Great Rift after a day of travel. The following day, Michkin and Elliot Jr. took turns steering them north from rift to rift, reaching the Flashing River that marked the end of the rifts and their free lift. Beyond stretched the crags of the Hollow Mountains and the dark sprawl of the Stonewood as dark began to descend.

Worryingly, a black storm twisted and churned straight through their path, setting forth a choice – brave the weather or divert and hope the jutting peaks of the Hollow Mountains might serve as a shield against the black fury of the coming storm...

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 11 - Like Clockwork

Michkin chose the mountains over steering straight into the storm, veering towards the potential shelter of the Hollow Mountains. No sooner had they reached in the storm-shadow of its jagged summits than another Aethership emerged from behind a distant chain of mountains, rapidly gaining on them.

After failing to outrun their pursuer via means of several risky glides down the slopes of the rocky peaks, the pursuing Aethership drew near enough to make out the bleeding skull painted across its hull. Piecing together bits he'd overheard on the streets of Aetherport, Michkin identified the ship as the Mourning Star, one of the biggest and the newest Aetherships ever made, said to possess some new technology that enabled it to gain altitude in a way no other ship can.

Then it launched a spread of two-man gliders.

Michkin's fancy flying sent two of the six canvas craft sailing off into the mountains below, but the other four drew close enough loose arrows before crash-landing on the ship. A frantic battle followed and no sooner had they fought off the boarding parties than the Mourning Star eclipsed them. A massive spear plunged down five-hundred feet to embed through both decks, binding the two ships together. Quick thinking and quicker sword work on Eliot Sam's part severed the massive cable, hurling an plummeting boarding platform off into the night.

Twenty-ish dead crew seemed to be enough for Captain Fury Faeda as the Mourning Star slowed and drifted away, leaving the Brother's Pride to its northward course.

A few random, unnecessary peak-slaloms and one seizure later, the group realized Michkin had been under the Ghost Bank ceo Salga's control the whole time. They pounced on Michkin, subduing him and pushing a protesting Eliot Jr. to the helm as the ship drifted over a high mountain valley. As the group argued over what to do with Michin, they spotted a large stone dome nestled on a forested plateau, the stone shelf of a broken bridge jutting out from the side presenting a perfect place to moor the ship.

Eliot Jr. protested his lack of ability to do such a thing – especially at night as the storm whipped into the valley – and so Michkin was released to take the helm again, ably steering the ship to safety.

Exhausted, the ragged crew of companions posted watches, stumbled below decks, and passed out. On his watch, Eliot Sam spotted a slight figure in ragged robes staring from the shelter of the forest for a moment before melting away, but otherwise the night held only wind and rain.
They awoke to a drizzling dawn, quickly determining that Eliot Sam, Pursus, and Michkin would examine the ruins in the woods while the others stayed behind to repair what they could on the ship.

The trio skulked into the trees, coming quickly to a string of red-shingled buildings given over to the elements. A quick scouring of the first two yielded only a handful of coins and so the group abandoned the search, making for the larger structures. En route, they came across a weathered amphitheater flanked by a pair of small domed towers.

A heavy door swollen in its frame blocked access to the first of these so Eliot Sam scaled it, preying open the heavy bronze shutter at its top, dropping in, and knocking the door out from the inside. Within, a series of fine glass lenses anchored in a framework of brass, focusing on a stone pedestal empty but for a triangular niche for some unknown object. Investigating the second tower yielded identical results.

Pressing on towards the larger dome, they diverted to follow a side-path to a thirty-foot obelisk, a strange hollow at the peak. Footsteps crunched on the trail behind them just as they moved to investigate it.

Slipping into the trees, they watched as a small, weathered man walk down the path talking to himself. As he seemed relatively harmless, they approached, learning the man's name was something like “Sursura” and that he was keeping the place “safe for the Masters”. As they talked with him, Sursura fell into random fits of violent self-abuse then ran away screaming when they asked him who the Masters were.

Unperturbed, the group continued on, gaining their first glimpse of the main structure: a large stone dome with two large wings stretching out to embrace a surprisingly clean cobbled plaza. Jutting from the south, a massive elevated bronze cage while to the east extended a two-story structure of white-plastered stone fronted by a wooden portico. In contrast to the state of the run-down dwellings they'd ransacked earlier, this structure was immaculately maintained.

Just as they were about to close and investigate, Sursura walk along the portico, muttering to himself loudly “they can't find the Masters, they can't hurt the Masters”. The rambling caretaker then produced a ring of keys, entering one of several doors beneath the portico.

The companions hustled across the open plaza towards him, arriving in time to see him take a third of a dozen clockwork children down from the meathooks on which they hung. Still muttering “protect the Masters!” he wound up the third, then spotted Michkin and screamed it again.

The three wound clockids ratcheted their right arms, each crank extending blades further out of their knuckles...

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 12 - The Solider and the Politician

Author's Note: I've had waaay less time to work on this than I thought. If the editing has gone down hill in the last few episodes, it's due to my prioritizing getting it posted at all over a deeper edit. When things calm down a bit I'll hopefully be able to go back over and do a final edit.

A year ago, Michkin's father was knifed in a minor dispute the same night his mother accidentally burned his family's house and workshop down. In the midst of a personal and spiritual crisis, Michkin encountered a madman named Mud Stone, following the Gibbering Priest half-way across the world until one morning he awoke to find the priest gone.

A little over a week ago, Cragslander Gorge and tinker Raxtus took their leave from the group after the slaughter at Chimney, the pair heading south in search of Gorge's true love, the Saitese Willow Courtesan Subtle Jade.

Meanwhile, this afternoon, Pursus, Eliot Sam, and Michkin sneaked after “Sursura”, the mad caretaker of the Dome ruins, into the Dome complex, there discovering the baggy-skinned man removing a dozen killer clockwork children from meathooks in a storage room, cranking them to life one at a time. At the same time, Nanoc arrived from the ship having followed Eliot Jr. as the young man slipped away from the ship but losing him in the woods.

Indecisive and divide as to what response to take to Sursura's literal machinations, the group argued, eventually leading to Nanoc tying the door ring to a portico post to seal it closed as Michkin climbed onto the roof seeking a back entrance. With the argument that there would be hell to pay if Sursura managed to activate all dozen clockkids and send them at them, Eliot Sam cut the rope Nanoc had just tied and they reopened the door to see half-a-dozen of the clockids activated. Nanoc loosed an arrow to initiate the engagement.

In the following fight the group made several hard discoveries: one, the children could fire their fist claws then rip them free via wire tethers; two, the children being half-flesh, half-metal were nearly impervious to Pursus' magics; three, the children exploded half-a-second after being fatally damaged. Pursus went down to one such detonation, leaving Nanoc in a brutal fight over his body, struggling to take out one of the clockids without killing Pursus in the process while Eliot Sam kited led several others in a running battle through the woods, taking them out one-at-a-time.

Eliot Jr. arrived to help only to be cut down a few seconds later, followed almost immediately by Nanoc. Fortunately, Michkin arrived from breaking in the back of some sort of laboratory and helped Eliot Sam finish the last of the abominable constructs as Sursura fled wailing. Gathering their remaining companions from the Aethership, Eliot Jr. and Pursus were taken back to be nursed back to consciousness by Mideru.

The next morning after a brief spat of healing magics, the group met on deck where Pursus and Eliot Sam chewed Michkin a new one for abandoning the others in the middle of a fight to go exploring. Michkin protested that the last thing he'd seen was Nanoc tying the door shut and the group arguing to ignore Sursura before climbing onto the roof. Pursus slapped him, then he and Nanoc backhanded Eliot Jr. to silence as well when Jr. tried to stand up for him.

In the following lecture, Eliot Sam and Pursus expressed a lack of confidence in Michkin's right to be captain of the ship if he was just going to “run away and hide” when the going got tough, Pursus calling Michkin a “whiny little girl” when he protested again. As Michkin acquiesced, swearing to step down, Eliot Sam led him into the forest to tell him how to be a leader of men – that he must lead by example if he was to be followed. In the process, he handed Michkin the Throne Barony signet ring he'd obtained from Gimble Throne, telling Michkin that Eliot Sam was getting to old to be the sort of leader the Eon Baronies needed but perhaps Michkin could be that man.

As Michkin reached for the ring, Michkin's Magpie swooped in and snagged it, landing on a branch and eyeing Michkin's magpie ring. As Michkin opened his mouth to order his magpie to obey, Eliot Sam halted him, telling him those forced to follow were little more than slaves. Michkin nodded and removed the magpie ring, setting it out on a rock. The magpie swooped down in joy, dropping the signet ring, swooping straight up, slipping the magpie ring over his head in mid-air, then diving at Michkin.

When Michkin held his hands up protectively, the magpie plunged into Michkin's hand, leaving a magpie tattoo on Michkin's palm.

When the Eliot Sam and Michkin returned to the ship, Michkin said he was not fit to lead until he proved himself worthy of it, throwing the captain's hat overboard. To everyone's amazement, a shadow magpie darted from his palm, grabbing the hat and returning it to Michkin's head. The others took it as an omen and agreed that Michkin would still be captain, at least onboard the ship.

About that time, Blisseru and Mideru approached, wondering how much longer they were to spend exploring a ruin instead of pursuing the Twins. This led to a heavy discussion of what the group's ultimate objective was and whether the potential dangers that might exist in the ruins and the time it would take to explore them might be worthwhile for whatever Sursura had been left behind to protect. When Blisseru questioned their eventual decision spend one more day resting and patching the ship before making one final excursion to the ruins, Pursus turned on him, demanding something more than empty words of wealth and glory from the Jade Warrior.

Blisseru stepped in, saying the Continuum was soon to be the primary power in Chiain, the Order planning to end Chiain's isolationism after centuries of non-interference. He bespoke of the Jade Warrior's dwindling numbers, significance, and power, saying siding with him upon returning the Twins would put the power of the Continuum at their backs. Blisseru and Mideru both swore again that the companions would receive their weight in gold at the least, but Pursus pushed for their aid in securing Eliot Sam's Barony as part of the deal. Blisseru gave vague promises of political support while Mideru admitted he could promise nothing except to swear on his honor his own personal devotion and that of any Jade Warriors that might follow wherever Eliot Sam might lead if the Twin Emperors were restored.

Pursus called their honor worthless, telling Blisseru there was no way he would trust his word and challenging Mideru's role, saying he had done nothing to help in their pursuit of the Twins. When Mideru protested and began to enumerate his efforts in combat and healing, Pursus cut him off and said Mideru and all of the “helpful” things he had mentioned were worthless. When Mideru asked if he should no longer perform those services if they were offending, Pursus called him a “whiny little girl” and told him he was busying hammering nails while they fought for their lives the day before, telling Mideru to “take some initiative for once.”

As Pursus let the others away to discuss things in private, Nanoc approached Mideru, telling the old warrior that Nanoc still thought he was a good guy, receiving in return Mideru's admission that he was a soldier first and had perhaps been to willing to wait for orders rather then act. He also warned that normally he'd have had to kill Pursus for his numerous slights to his honor, but would make an exception given the dire circumstances.

As the group headed to the fore to discuss their plans away from Blisseru and Mideru, a brilliant white glow from the far North grew exponentially to become a blinding wall of light, chased momentarily by a rumble that rocked the mountains around them. As the group queried one another for the event's meaning, Nanoc swore it was a sign of the end times, that Firkhan had at last been overwhelmed atop the Barrier Wall and the hordes of darkness beyond would soon spill into the world.

Unsure of what to do with that information, they returned to discussing their goals, weighing siding with the Soldier or the Politician or whether they should go it alone. Eliot Sam pushed for finishing what they'd started and killing Blisseru off when the time was right, while also declaring he'd been a terrible husband and father and maybe it was time to rescue and restore the young Twins just for the kids own sakes because they chose to do so instead of following anyone else's agenda or seeking a reward. In the conversation, Pursus also admitted that Eliot Jr. seemed to have “a bit of sand” for all his foppishness.

In the end, they decided to recuperate from their many wounds one more day before making a final decision. As the group dispersed to rest and think on their own, Michkin decided to see what might be painted on the underside of their ship, finding – to the group's dismay – that a portrait of the recently departed Captain Taggart grinned down from its spread across the whole bottom hull of the Aethership.

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 13 - Domes, Thrones, and Boulderlanders

As the companions aboard the Brother's Pride stirred from their exhausted slumber and debated their future plans, they glanced up to notice three figures staring at them from the far side of the broken bridge where the Aethership sat at anchor: Brassy Jons, a bizarre figure with a half-shaved, half-dreadlocked head, and Gorged Upon the Mother of a Chieftain Beyond the Spruce Grove. Casting over a grappling hook, then a harness, the three were brought aboard, Brassy and Gorge talking of stumbling into the Gibbering Priest Mud Stone and traveling instantly with him from the ruins of one crumbling Gibbering Temple to another.

After giving everyone a sloppy kiss, Brassy chided them for not waiting for her back at Aetherport. After relaying their extenuating circumstances, they asked why she was late. She replied that the Silver Order apprehended her after she warned them of the Eon Martyrs, the Captain of the Order promising to “pound the truth out of her” as to how she learned of the attacks. She had escaped and lain low in the ruins of a Gibbering Temple until Mud Stone had found her.

Recognizing Mud Stone, Michkin approached and offered a handshake. Mud Stone instead slurped on his fingers, then stated that he was correct: they were the ones who had given the Death Cult access to the Far Paths. He asked why they thought allowing the Death Cult to rapidly spread throughout the world was a good idea and got only blank stares in return as the companions worked out what had happened.

When asking after the nature of the Far Paths yielded no sensible results, Michkin asked how the Death Cult might be stopped. Mud Stone posited that murdering the murder spirit was the only means, achievable only through might of magic after drawing the Murder Spirit out with a suitably grisly sacrifice.

Rapidly changing subjects, Mud Stone asked if they managed to get the “mechanism of the dome” working. Michkin asked if Mud Stone could help them do so, to which Mud Stone replied that anything was possible.

In the mean time, Samara pulled Eliot Sam aside, upset at Brassy's sudden return and the kiss she planted on Eliot Sam. He assuaged her anger and anxiety by stating that a kiss was nothing, devotion like what he had for her was what carried meaning.

With that, Eliot Sam, Michkin, Pursus, Gorge, and Brassy set out to finish the job at the dome, Mud Stone trailing along eating leaves and plucking an errant furry caterpillar. Sneaking through the forest to the edge of the plaza, they watched Sursura swarming around the main complex, frantically patching up the jagged holes and errant shrapnel fragments. The group debated the merits of talking to the crazy caretaker or simply shooting him, glancing up in time to see Mud Stone casually talking Sursura as he joined in the repairs.

The companions approached and Pursus asked if they might be able to help, Sursura replying that they had to protect the Masters. Asking how they might help do that, Sursura told them they could perhaps repair the wall with him or bring him more “living children” so he could replace the clockworks that were destroyed. Eliot Sam said there was no way in hell they would ever do that, but he'd “loan him his sword.”

As everyone reached for weapons, Sursura let out a wail and swelled up to an eight-foot tall monstrosity of flesh and metal, channeling some perverse Shen powers that rendered him practically immune to their attacks. Pursus' magics were all that seemed to harm him, earning the mad giant's undivided attention. Pursus backpedaled as he launched more magics, but was beaten down into the cobbles of the plaza before Michkin, Eliot Sam, Gorge could land precisely aimed blows that wore the giant down, Eliot Sam's final blow removing Sursura's head.

As the rush of battle subsided, the survivors mournfully returned dead Pursus to the ship, CI frantically pawing, chittering, and cuddling to bring his master back to life.

With no capability of doing so, the others returned to the ruins, finding one room full of alchemical reagents, a clockwork laboratory with a single half-built clockid dissected on a workbench along with a clockwork rat that Brassy cranked to an imitation of life. In the corner, the corpse of a small girl floated in a glass tube full of murky brown liquid.

A third room held a man-sized dissection table, strange brass apparatus, mechanical parts, and bizarre instruments. Through the annex lay a fully-furnished philtrology laboratory, the walls lined with long-expired herbs and agents, a sturdy glass display case packed with several dozen arcane potions and philters. Despite not knowing their use, they liberated the concoctions and pushed on. Beyond, a room packed with massive clockwork machinery, a crude stone wall mortared together through the middle of the mechanism. The rough-built wall was so at odds with the immaculate construction of the rest of the complex, they became immediately suspicious.

Hammering a breach into the wall, they discovered four high-backed chairs, one bearing the desiccated corpse of a woman, while another woman and two men lay scattered along the walls in the fetal position, rotted in their age-moldered finery.

As the others looted a sizable handful of gem-studded rings from the corpses, Michkin caught a faint wheezing plea for “water” from the corpse on the throne. Splashing a fair bit on the woman's face and down her throat instantly revitalized her – at least those areas where the water touched. She urged them to hurry before mad Ser Suramon found and killed them and her relief was palpable when they pronounced him dead.

They poured enough water to restore the flesh of her face and neck, intentionally leaving the rest of her body dry and desicated. The woman proclaimed herself Aslen Throne and demanded to know if the Jade Warriors were still overrunning the Eon Baronies and whether the civil war still raged between the Endovin and Raikast Dynasties and if the Demon-Possessed still roamed the world. Eliot Sam used these scraps of lore to place her memories at at least a century ago.

Pushing her further, they learned that she had fled the Eon Baronies in search of something that might give them an edge against the Saitese Empire and their unstoppable Jade Warriors, discovering several means to do so and also creating a machine that could grant immortality in the process. Unfortunately, their guardian Ser Suramon went mad in the course of an experiment, walling the four of them away after killing everyone else to “keep them safe”. The other three masters had killed themselves rather than shrivel to nothing.

Eliot Sam pressed her for something that might bring Pursus back to life. She promised that one of the potions would do so, swearing she would tell them which one if they just gave her another phial that would greatly help restore her. Michkin promised to give her the one for which she asked only when Pursus was restored. Agreeing, she pointed to a metal flask.

Nanoc ran back to the ship to revive Pursus, who came alive – to the delight of CI – but remained too weak to join them.. As soon as he returned, Eliot Sam plunged Widow's Reprisal into Aslen's throat.

“Can't have her competing for the Throne Barony,” he said by way of explanation as he wiped his blade clean on her robes.

Finally moving on to the dome, they found it to be empty of all but a giant bronze door built high above into the side of the dome, and a series of massive lenses in a brass machine all leading to a huge prism mounted over a chair in the center of the room. A heavy metal lever jutted from the wall nearby. As Mud Stone wandered over to lick the chair, Nanoc told him to take a seat. Mud Stone complied and Nanoc pulled the lever. The massive bronze door fell away as the gearworks in the other room tore themselves apart in Sursura's stonework.

Nanoc shrugged and the pushed on, climbing the stairs on the far side of the dome and pulling open a heavy door leading to the massive cage outside. Within lay heaped the skeletons of ten adults and thirty children, ten of which bore collars of unknown metal, each studded with bits of gem and crystal and bearing a single metal ring. Nearby, a staff of strange metal affixed with two tiers of ring-clips.

After swiping the staff and a couple collars and looting some lenses and prisms, they left the main building to investigate the two-story guardhouse squatting across the plaza. Within, rotting clothing, a century of BO, crumbling weapons, and a small splintering chest full of coin. Before heading back to the ship, Michkin discovered the collars clipped into the staff, hypothesizing that the staff gave some sort of control over those wearing the collars. All agreed it was nasty business.

Back aboard, Michkin asked Mud Stone how they might access the Far Path, to which Mud Stone pointed up at the nauseating blur of the newly-risen Gibbering Moon gliding north-to-south across the sky.

While they appraised Pursus of their discoveries, the clockwork rat and CI began to play, Pursus discovering that it was a mechanical familiar, a flood of variants pouring through it and into his mind. Deciding to push on after the Twins, Pursus used his new magic to fire arrows and, by their flight, learn that the Twins lay North.

Launching the ship and leaving the ruined dome complex behind, they headed North all day, spotting tens of thousands of creatures migrating south across the plains below, but unable to make out what they were in the fading light. The following morning Pursus used one of the lenses swiped from the dome to discern that the migration was in fact an invasion of Boulderlanders.

Upon hearing of this, Nanoc stated that that many Boulderlanders during summer could only mean not only had some Thane found a way through the impassable swamp in summer, but had become Khan, unifying all of the Boulderlands in a single massive invading migration of what might be all of the Boulderlanders. He then asked Mideru if the time frame of the explosion might have something to do with the Twins, Mideru agreeing that the culmination of the week-long trip of the Paradise East they were pursuing would closely coincide with the explosion.

As they floated onward, a wall of fire in the north filled the horizon, that night they sailed over it and, at dawn, spotted a massive still-glowing crater in the distance.

At mid-day they passed the rim of the miles-wide crater, a pinnacle of grassy earth still standing at its center, a shattered column of black stone rising from the center of the earthen column. Another arrow augury pointed Pursus to a group of a hundred-odd Boulderlanders heading south beneath them. Wasting no time, they ordered Eliot Jr. to take the Aethership to the nearest mountain, then launched in tandem from the ship in the three gliders left behind by the dead sky pirates.

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 14 - Deadly Fruit

Between getting married, running four summer camps, and totaling my car, it was a busy summer. Hence the delay between posts. Only a few sessions left however, so will try to get them finished in the next month or so.

The companions sailed out over the smoking crater towards the group of hundred-odd Boulderlanders navigating its rim. As they made their impulsive launch, Mideru bowed, Jr. stared, and Samara and Blisseru swore up storms in their own respective languages. Mud Stone stared at Pursus, tapping three fingers against his face then pointing up at the Gibbering Moon. Then he walked off the ship.

While Michkin and Nanoc glided towards the group, Eliot Sam and Pursus struggled with the controls. Gorge and Brassy jerked the control sticks and spiraled back to save Mud Stone, Brassy grabbing him by the leg as he fell and leaving Gorge alone at the controls. Seeing Gorge and Brassy struggling with their extra passenger, Michkin and Nanoc sailed back to take Mud Stone. Nanoc fumbled the transition and sending Mud Stone plummeting thousands of feet into the smoldering haze below.

With help from a few summoned bursts of wind, Eliot Sam and Pursus cleared the crater to land on gentle rise, while Michkin's slick flying zipping he and Nanoc quickly to the same hill. Gorge and Brassy, however, crashed at the edge of the crater, landing heavily in a small pond.

The group marshaled as a detachment of Boulderlanders approached with weapons drawn. Seeing Nanoc among them, they halted, the groups leader, Torhild, telling Nanoc their orders were to kill the fliers and bring their winged contraptions to Enkila. Not expecting a fellow Boulderlander, they allowed Nanoc to convince them to bring them and one of their gliders to whoever Enkila was instead.

A short hike later found them surrounded by Boulderlanders and in discussion with the Rimewitch Enkila, the long sought and faintly luminous Twins regarding them curiously from nearby. In the exchange, Nanoc revealed they had flown north in pursuit of the Twins while Enkila told of the invasion of the host of the Boulderlands behind the Khan Borli Victorix who had found for the first time a secret way for the Kinnate to avoid the Summer Swamp and so invade en masse.

A few days ago, a northbound airship passing the southbound Boulderland horde let her band to follow, the massive explosion several days later filling the plains with fire and the air with ash. They skirted the fire in the mountains and pressed through the burnt stalks of the plains only to discover the Twins and Akuma climbing down the pedestal of earth at the heart of the crater.

After seizing the Twins and taking them for delivery to Borli, Akuma slipped away, pursued by Enkila's best tracker Sigrid and her brother, Marx. Nanoc warned them that a Legion was coming north to fight them, swearing one Legionnaire was worth fifty Boulderlanders. Enkila said they had destroyed the three Legions of the Curitous March, attacking their forts unexpectedly from the South instead of the North and lost almost no one.

She further told of Borli's plan to set the clans to taking the Eon Baronies and Aetherport, Borli and the clan leaders currently holding a final meeting two days south before they clans dispersed. Another meeting was set for the end of Summer-year for Borli to take her part-in-ten of whatever wealth they captured.

Enkila said she had been told to kill all non-Boulderlanders they encountered to maintain surprise, but that this group would make excellent prizes for the Khan. Nanoc swore on his honor that they would cause no mischief if allowed to retain their weapons, Pursus proclaimed Eliot Sam the Khan of the Baronies, but Eliot Sam shushed him, pulling the group into a private discussion to determine their goals and intentions.

At that moment, Salga hijacked Pursus. Pursus struggled to remain aware as Gorge jumped on him and proceeded to “pound the demon” out one palm-heel-to-the-forehead at a time. Salga's rage at being stymied caused her to return to her own body, Pursus maintaining the wherewithal to ride back with her. He found himself behind her eyes as she rose from a divan in a luxuriant, marbled penthouse.

In a fury, Salga struck down a naked slave, walked around a shimmering pool, and hurled a brazier over the tenth-story balcony into the street below. Beyond spread Old Aedaron, an immense shimmering dome of paned glass sparkling nearby. Pursus attempted to seize her instead, failing completely but managing to slip away before she noticed his presence.

Passing his episode off as “communion with his Gods”, the group promised to do no harm unless they were attacked first, Enkila offering that they were free to kill any Boulderlander that tried without her sanction. Michkin said he would split from the group to tell their companions in the Brother's Pride where they headed, but was told he had two choices: go with the group or be killed.

Their tactic shifted to convincing Enkila to come to the ship instead, to arrive at the Khan's Council in style. Enkila asked if the ship was to be a gift and when the group replied in the negative, she admitted that Borli was likely to take it regardless so better if they just make it a gift. Gorge argued that they were all slaves in all but name now so it didn't matter what they did.

Withdrawing again, they sussed out their goals, Pursus stating he wanted the Twins to use a political device to gain Chiain's support of Eliot Sam, Michkin saying he was in it for the reward and didn't care what they did as long as they got it.

They returned to Enkila, Nanoc finally convincing her to travel with them by promising they would train Boulderlanders to fly airships on the trip. As Enkila organized her honor guard and half-a-dozen others to accompany them to the ship, they took a moment to speak to the Twins, the bold girl Nushen and the timid boy Yinshi

Eliot Sam simply asked if they wished to return home, getting a vague affirmative. Pursus gleaned much more, learning Akuma had come to them to recruit them for a quest to save the world from a powerful demon who claimed the world as its own but had lost it. He had said he needed the Twins to help him destroy the beacons that the demon had left behind to find its way back.

When the Twins gestured towards the shattered obelisk at the heart of the crater, Eliot Sam recalled that four-such obelisks stood at the compass points of the world, said to be so ancient as to predate man, most commonly believed to be a shield or ward of some sort.

Then it was Nushen's turn, asking Eliot Sam why he was so old (“because I haven't died yet”), Pursus and Michkin why their skin was so dark(“our god made us that way”), Pursus why he wore the strange mask(“it is a symbol of my order”), Michkin why he wore the big hat (“I'm our Aethership Captain”) and gaining his promise that she could fly the ship some day.

She asked Pursus which God was his father(“I'm not sure, but they say the Great Wanderer”), asked Gorge why his teeth were filed(“To better eat the hearts of man”) and why he did it since it had to hurt (“Strength is an easy trade for pain”), what hearts tasted like(“Blood”), and asked Nanoc what happened to his face(“Swamp monster bite”) and where his ear went(“Don't lose duels, kids.”.

Pursus left them with a warning that as fellow Gods-born they were likely to be used by those around them jealous of their power. Nushen asked if he was trying to use them too and he warned them that she and her brother would have to trust their own judgment, telling them their uncle might be an imposter. Nushen promised that when he returned to continue their quest, she'd have Yinshi figure it out since he was so smart.

As the main band of Boulderlanders headed South with the Twins, they headed East with Enkila. They had not gone far when a grimy Mud Stone scrambled up out of the crater. Asked why he had walked off the ship he replied unhelpfully that he forgot not to fall until the last minute.

That night they reached the edge of the Stonewood, those on watch hearing massive creatures pushing through the woods and three luminous pairs of huge eyes watching them from the treeline. In the morning Nanoc found a game trail seeming to head straight towards the mountain where the Brother's Pride had headed. They followed it despite the massive bear-sized cat-prints going the same direction.

After several hours they came to a huge tree bearing strange head-sized orange fruits. Spotting movement in the tree, Nanoc shouted a warning to the young Boulderlander who approached that the fruit had legs. The Boulderlander hurled a stone and thirty melon-sized spiders fell from the tree and rushed towards them.

In the chaos of the battle that ensued, Gorge attempted to assassinate Enkila, turning the battle into a three-way compaions-Boulderlanders-spiders clash turned in the companions' favor by a massive wind summoned by Pursus that rendered the Boulderlander's bows useless, the freaking stone-throwing and luck-turning of Mud Stone, and the dense forest that restricted the Boulderlander's ability to engage them effectively.

As Gorge's many wounds were patched up, Enkila was discovered to be still alive, then was bound and gagged.

Just before Nanoc's arrow took her in the forehead, the last surviving Boulderlander lowered her bow, grinned, and said to him in Clanspeak "this was a good death."

About that time, Nanoc and Brassy began hallucinating from their spider bites...
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Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 15 - Cannibal Courtship, Countless Clans, and Covert Cuckholdry

After reviving Gorge, tying down their berserk companions, and slitting the throats of all the common foes, a brief discussion of Enkila's fate determined magic users were too dangerous to let live and she joined her compatriots in a slightly-delayed glorious death.

About that time, Eliot Sam spotted a massive horse-sized cat stalking towards them, issuing warning to his companions by way of hurling a knife into the woods. As the huge feline evaded and leapt forwards, Gorge approached and attempted to tame the monster, instead batted aside as easily as a ball of string as an even larger mother cat and a second cub charged from opposite sides of the clearing. Thanks largely to some terrifying sorcery from Pursus teleporting a tree branch into the mother's throat, she was killed and the cubs driven off. Exhausted from the back-to-back battles, the group dragged their near dead and/or hallucinating friends an hour up the trail before collapsing in exhaustion.

The following morning, they finally cleared the treeline, scaled a massive talus slope, and waded through snowfield near the peak from which their Aethership hung tethered. Two pair of light footprints tracked down from their ship, presumed to be the two-day old path of Mideru and Blisseru. Pushing on, the group scrambled across a glacier near the peak to find that a small crevasse was all that separated them from their ship. While the others debated plans for crossing it, Eliot Sam leaped over the gap and threw back a rope for the others to follow.

Shouts to the seemingly vacant ship brought Eliot Jr. stumbling out of the Captain's Cabin, Eliot Sam happening to check the mooring lines as Samara emerged behind his son wrapped in a bed sheet. As the rest of the companions shifted their gazes uncomfortably in Eliot Sam's direction, she slipped back within.

“What?” Eliot Sam said, staring at his compatriots. None had the guts to tell him.

The group zip-lined down to the ship, Eliot Sam weathering a forceful kiss and equally passionate slap from Samara for “abandoning her without a word – I thought you were dead” and further beratements. Eliot Sam told her he was a man of action, not words to which she argued he could perhaps spare one or two for her before abandoning her, storming off as Brassy slid to the deck.

The group debated tracking the Saitese pair or pushing on after the Twins, eventually deciding on the latter after a good night's rest to recover from their battles and hard trek up the mountain.

Soon after, Eliot Sam re-approached Samara, reiterating he was a man of words. This led to her revelation that she was her fathers favorite and thus he sold her last out of all her siblings to cover his gambling debts. She demanded an apology and demanded the ring he'd promised in Aetherport. He delayed and, when she asked for a promise to tell her what he was doing in the future he replied with his usual eloquent “f@&k that”.

With predictable results.

They rested the night, enjoying the luxury of a roof and lack of night-stalking murder cats, awakening to consume the last of the ship-board supplies. The effects of Aiko's poisoning began to make themselves felt again and they brewed another pot of the antidote, adding finding a full cure for it to their ever-growing to do lists.

Over breakfast, Gorge pronounced the Twins as too dangerous a weapon to handle that should be destroyed instead. Pursus countered that they needed the Twins alive to secure Chiain's help in the Baronies. Michkin compared them to ambulatory piles of gold should they get them to their thrones intact. Gorge again called them too dangerous, perhaps leading the Saitese to making war on the Baronies instead of aiding them once they became Emperors. Michkin replied they were at least as likely to become powerful allies instead.

Pursus protested all the talk of speaking of the two children as things rather than people. Brassy agreed, presenting the idea of a sale at Heaven's Gateway with a knife to the kid's throats to drive up their price or the complete alternate plan: win the kids over and live out their lives in paradise as rescuers of Emperors.

While they talked, Eliot Sam slipped away on a quest for Boulderlander bodies, followed by Pursus, only to discover hours of hiking later that they could no longer find the right trail that led to them. On their return, Pursus took a fast detour down the crevasse and had to be fished out and his injuries mended before they set sail.

A day and a half across the skies later found them half-a-mile above a gathering of tens of thousands of Boulderlanders of many clans all surrounding a massive leather tent. Pursus's arrow augury placed Mideru within said tent. The ship was set to circling the gathering to await night lit only by the rusty light of the Iron Moon. During the wait, Mud Stone took a questing slurp on Gorge's man bits, his bizarre “cocknomancy” placing one Subtle Jade somewhere in the Eon Baronies.

When Michkin asked the relevance of this person, the murderous cannibal proclaimed the courtesan his true love, his compass. Samara bitterly told Eliot Sam he should speak of her that way, Pursus countering that maybe she should be trying to prove herself to Eliot Sam instead of the other way around. Brassy agreed, causing Samara to throw Eliot Sam a petty ultimatum “her or me! I won't have that red-haired hussy on my ship any more!” He ignored her, sending her off for a mighty sulk, locked away in their cabin.

Mid-day, the massive gathering below broke apart and began to stream south in the form of numerous clan-groups. As Nanoc identified each by region, name, and fighting style Pursus' arrows directed them after the Twins and they drifted the ship where his arrow-augury indicated.

They reached the spot after nightfall, the Twins spotted far below in the midst of a clan of thousand Boulderlanders near a huge tent, escorted by Mideru and Blisseru. The winch and harness secured below decks were made ready, the ship dropping to a mere 300 feet as they prepared to swipe the Twins from the clutch of a barbarian clan. As they approached the heart of the camp, the boy Yinshi spotted them from beside a fire and pointed, setting Nushen to waving at them excitedly.

Iron Sky

Procedurally Generated
Session 16 - Clansmen and Sky Pirates

As the Brother's Pride swooped low over the Boulderlander encampment to reclaim the Twins, Eliot Sam, Pursus, and Michkin braced themselves to ride the winch-cable down, drop into the camp, secure the Twins, and escape. After crudely lashing the winch into place in the hold, Eliot Sam clipped his harness in and dropped down the line, followed closely by Michkin and Pursus.

Eliot Sam jerked to a halt at the end of the 250' line, still forty feet short of the ground. With Michkin and Pursus descending after him, he thought quickly, severing the last bit of rope just as they passed over the huge tent at the heart of the encampment. After a second of freefall, the thick hides of the tent slowed him only slightly before he crashed into a meat-strewn table. Instantly, a tall, scarred, naked woman leapt from a mass of furs with a bright axe and gleaming sword of steel almost instantly in-hand as her two bed companions scrambled for their own weapons and armor.

Meanwhile, Michkin bounced and rolled off the side of the tent, quietly re-approaching it to listen within.

The woman seemed more curious than alarmed at Eliot Sam's presence, at least until Pursus slammed into the ground behind him, wasting no time in dumping heavy wounds into the ground in rippling waves of writhing darkness. His sudden appearance and unknown magics launched an exchange of blows in which the woman inflicted a grievous wound on Eliot Sam, only to have its equal returned via the razor edge of Sam's sword Widow's Reprisal's. As a thousand warriors armed themselves and poured towards the tent, Michkin hacked his way through the side to die with his companions, just in time to see the woman's call summon a thirty-foot long snake-lizard from a side nook of the tent.

Staggering back from her wound, the warrior woman called for a halt to hostilities and lowered her weapons, a gesture quickly reciprocated.

As she calmed down the riled up throng of barbarians – having to tackle the berserker she'd been sleeping with to subdue him – her pet Aedaric Theurge was dragged in wrapped in chains, forced to heal her, then hauled back out.

Righting the table, Eliot Sam, Pursus, and Michkin plunked down across from the three that had been in bed together, Pursus starting the introductions: Eliot Sam, Scion and Duke of the Eon Baronies, Michkin Scion of the Skies, and Pursus of a bank of no particular relevance. She professed some knowledge of the soul bank, but failed to elaborate further, instead introducing herself as Borli Victorix, Khan of the Kinnate. Her companions were presented as Helta Sky, loresinger, archer, and adviser and Ranveig, doughty warrior and long-time companion.

As horns of mead were exchanged for sips on a flask of whiskey Pursus always packed, Eliot Sam recounted the tale of the blow Borli had landed on him, met with much approval and followed by Helta Sky offering an identical recount of Eliot Sam's blow in halting Aedaric. Such pleasantries complete, Borli asked why they were there. Pursus said they had come for the Twins, prompting Borli to ask with some surprise and admiration if they had hoped to slip in and whisk them away from the middle of an armed camp of a thousand warriors.

Pursus then began to bandy about ideas of alliance, hinting at the vastness of the land before them and the innumerable well-trained foes they would face down every mile of the way. She then corrected their misconception that she led the whole of the Kinnate, saying she controlled only her clan, the last tie to the other Thanes their promise to meet her at her city of Aetherport at the end of Summer-year with her one-part-in-ten of whatever loot they'd claimed on pain of being hunted down by her one-by-one.

She also admitted she was ready to kill them all until Eliot Sam landed his blow, proving that they may in fact be capable of killing her before they died. While she expressed no aversion to so worthy a death, her curiosity overcame her and so here they were. The subject drifted back to the Twins and her purposes on them. She told of “the small, slimy one's” offer of a two wagon-loads of gold for the safe return of the Twins to Chiain. She would have killed him outright but for the respect and prowess exhibited by the old quiet one.

Then the topic of Enkila came up, Borli having been informed of her Rimewitches' departure. An edited version of the spider story answered her query, prompting her to ask if Enkila had found a good death and concluding that death to battle-poison to be a decent exit.

The subject returned to the innumerable Legions likely already making their way North from Old Aedaron and Borli wryly related her subtle encouragements to the Thanes who sought their glory in taking the Statue City for themselves that they might blunt and absorb the Legions until Winter-year, long enough for her to solidify her hold on Aetherport. Her only worry was that the ships might flee the approach of her army like “pigeons from the coop at the approach of a fox” which sparked a great outpouring of Clanspeak from Helta Sky.

Translated, it became a proposal that Borli and a group of her best warriors ride in Michkin's Aethership to capture the Aetherport by surprise and hold it until Borli's fifty thousand warriors could secure the rest of the city.

Giving them time to think, Borli surrendered her tent to them, heading off to complete the night-time activities they had interrupted by crashing through her roof. The resulting discussion ranged from the feasibility of convincing any number of clans to avoid the Baronies, estimations of what chance the now-divided clans would have against the unified might of the Legions, and postulations as to whether a barbarian conqueror even could rule a city the size of Aetherport. After bandying about various plans, Michkin proposed they simply follow the plan she'd laid out, judging that she would not have been able to unify all the Clans unless she was honorable. Cunning yes, but definitely honorable.

When Borli returned with her companions, Eliot Sam started things by asking her what her companions meant to her. She said Helta Sky was the loresinger from a small, barely existent Stoneborn Clan who she'd convinced to follow her not only for his wisdom and advice, but to record her legend in song. Ranveig was her longest companion and the warrior closest to her equal of all she knew, one who had traveled with her to find the secret that led the Clans across the Summer Swamp.

Eliot Sam's questions answered, she sat down to finish their whiskey and hear their decision. They proposed flying to Chiain to drop off the Twins first, then return to Aetherport. Somewhat distracted and buzzed, Borli agreed and pushed quickly for their means of boarding the ship. Michkin proposed they flag down the ship to scoop them up, then he would land it on a high hill a few miles away where she and thirty warriors could board. She agreed, but asked for someone to remain with her to ensure their compliance. Pursus immediately volunteered to stay as a hostage.

After flagging down the circling ship, Michkin snagged the trailing winch-harness and was lifted to safety, followed by Eliot Sam. After telling all aboard of what had transpired, they headed to the hill at dawn where the Boulderlanders, the Twins, Blisseru, and Mideru boarded. There, Borli learned of what she had mistakenly agreed to, changing the plan to them going to Aetherport, dropping her people off and leaving them with the Twins. Eliot Sam pushed for better terms if the deal was to be changed, gaining the promise of free access to Aetherport once it was hers along with five Aetherships.

With that they set sail, the day passing uneventfully but for Pursus attempting to contact Borli's pet healer and being rebuffed.

Near dark they approached the Hollow Mountains again to spot the rapidly approaching shape of the Fury Faeda's Mourning Star. Thinking quickly, they hid the Boulderlanders below decks in hopes the pirate ship would approach and board. Instead, it stayed high and far, lobbing bolts from a ballista along with a wave of larger three-man gliders.

Pursus leapt into action, grabbing Gorge's hawkling, ripping its wings off, transforming his own arms into massive pterodactyl wings, strapping Eliot Sam and Gorge to his harness, and heading for the ship. The boy Yinshi took the broken beast and miraculously restored it with a touch. En route, they evaded the gliders alighting on the aft castle to assault Faeda. Meanwhile, Michkin turned the Brother's Pride towards the Mourning Star as the Boulderlanders formed a shield-wall on deck to engage the gliders. One suddenly dove for the aft castle to take Michkin, but Nanoc and Brassy managed to hold them at bay long enough for the Boulderlanders to spill up from below decks.

Aboard the Mourning Star, Faeda's etched steel cutlass nearly lobotomized Eliot Sam while the half-dozen archers protecting her took Gorge down. Pursus hurled his familiar and detonated CI in their midst, but his magics were not enough, a final decision causing him to haul Eliot Sam to safety, leaving Gorge's bloody corpse behind...