Chapter II- To Chase the Moon

Part IX: Air, Fire, Water

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The Waverunner

The black furred Thropes whooped and jeered as their zeppelin closed distance with the frigate, intent on pillage and slaughter. Their leader, a grizzled thrope with a large tricorn hat, raised his hand and gestured towards their prey and a volley of missile fire followed, raking the deck of the Sylvan frigate and forcing her crew to take cover. With practiced discipline the crew of the Waverunner returned fire. Spitting death at one another the two vessels circled on the cold dark water…

[Repelling sky-pirates]
A growing unease at travelling with Silverhorn aboard the Waverunner is revealed at a party meeting in a local Sylvan inn and the group eventually decides to stay in Velion for two more weeks while the Thaur travels to Lorys by the sea.

Dargo declares this an opportune time for Bort to undertake his "proving", a series of tasks dictated by Earthen tradition that he must undergo to be considered a man. These tasks centre around the slaying and skinning of a beast and with rumours of a goblin tribe hunting nearby the pair set off into the jungle. They track the goblins with ease and although hit by many arrows from the foul beasts Bort manages to kill their leader, sending the monsters scrambling off into the undergrowth in fear. Raising a small but elegant cairn to honour his ancestors he skins the dead goblins and Dargo oversees the traditional ceremony.

The others have less eventful weeks in the city, Sebadoh and Tyrus engrossed in the small library present whilst Maj'id takes up her post as a beast-master for the local Imperial garrison. However after his first week in Velion Sebadoh tires of study and begins to frequent bars and lotus houses along the dock district. It is such that he finds himself in the offices of house Solanus, charged with public indecency, after a particularly heavy night on the local coconut rum. With a well thought out defence and the help of a Solanus clerk Tyrus had befriended he manages to escape conviction, although now banned from all drinking houses in Velion. This sours his mood somewhat and he spends the rest of the time before the return the the Waverunner trying to avoid trouble, not seeking it.

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Shipmistress Syrraneal and her crew return on schedule and the wooden box containing the silver golem is carefully loaded aboard by her men. That afternoon the Waverunner slides along the water out of Velion. The ship makes good time northward around the Lorovian peninsula and into the Elazyndrian gulf towards Lorys by the sea. The gulf is a major trading route for the region and the Waverunner passes numerous trade vessels on it's way north. Many fly the flags of the Elazydrian Trading Company, including an entire fleet of heavily armoured frigates, but others are from a variety of sources, including the Ironsail Company and a House Solanus airship. Their time aboard the ship is spent for the most part resting, although Sebadoh takes the time to instruct Tyrus in some of the particulars of unarmed combat upon the deck, to the pleasure of the Shipmistress.

It is on one such day, a few hours after the breaching of a particularly fearsome looking leviathon, that a cry is raised from the crows nest of the Waverunner. Approaching at speed through the clouds was an airship. Moving at speed and bearing no banner their intent was clear, if the cries of the heavily armed black furred Thrope crew aboard did not. The crew jump quickly as the Shipmistress and Yorrel shout orders at them and the deck becomes a hive of activity. The group looks on, largely unable to help as the ships circle each other and exchange missile fire. Tyrus sends sparks of fire towards the balloon keeping the airship aloft but cannot seem to break through the armoured hull of the ship. Then suddenly in an almighty burst of light and heat the enemy airship combusts, plumes of flame pouring out of the balloon and engulfing the crew. The airship crashes into the dark sea and continues to burn, the screams of the dying crew a cacophonous din. The crew of the Waverunner deploy into longships, taking items of value from the dead and finishing the struggles of any pirates still alive with crossbow bolts.

The Waverunner arrives at Lorys by the sea as the sun rises on it's 6th day at sea. Passing through the sea-bound fort at the exterior of the city they are boarded by customs officers and Shipmistress Syrraneal pays the appropriate tarrifs. Within they find a cosmopolitan city, wide streets lined with kaf houses and merchants walked by peoples as varied as can be seen. Towers raise above the city, skybridges linking them like twine tied elegantly between posts.

Once passed into the city Sebadoh travels to the Garden of the Dead in the higher district to visit Silverhorn and procure accommodation while Tyrus returns to his lodging with the Blue Drakes mages guild. Here he facilitates the sale of the Golem to the Dean of Technomancy at the guild, returning to the others at the Garden of the Dead with a clinking bag of platinum pieces. The group is reunited with Silverhorn there and his new apprentice, a black robed Morkara. He shows the group to their quarters and the next morning they meet Silverhorn for breakfast.

Silverhorn's Research

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The Thrope civilisation believed to have existed in this area in ages past is actually two different civilisations: Old Rahan and New Rahan.

Old Rahan was a mercantile and warrior society with advanced cities all over the region. Some 20,000 years ago during the incident known as the 'Nightfall' or 'Moon Shattering' it was destroyed along with most known civilisations. In the long night that followed most of Old Rahan was lost, although many cities along the Elazyndrian gulf were built upon their ruins.

The civilisation of New Rahan was built, in many cases literally, from the ashes of Old Rahan. The Thropes in the area took up the culture and beliefs of the Old Rahani. Of particular note is the continuation of the worship of Shesk Rahan as a deity. But this New Rahan was to experience a similar fall to it's forebear, sacked some 5000 years ago by a large invading force of Drow. The exact purpose of the force beyond slaughter and pillaging is unknown.


Part X: Secaellor

The locals seemed agitated by the abandoned house. They spoke of devils and ghosts, of none leaving alive who entered. It stands dishevelled next to alchemists labs and magewrights shops, somehow darker than those around it despite the bring morning. Cobwebs fill its windows and a large heavy lock bars passage. The adventurers, tired the mundane nature of moving from shop to shop all morning, find their interest piqued. And as Sebadoh expresses: "What is the worst that could happen?…

[Trouble in Lorys]
Pockets clinking with gold and silver the group disperses amongst the spell-marts of Lorys to spend their well earned currency. Various items are purchased by the group, while Bort accompanies Dargo to have Cold Iron armour fitted at a nearby smith. As the others move from merchant to merchant they come across a large group of locals standing outside a run down building, gossiping among themselves. The property is one of many shops on the block, its windows dark and empty where others displayed stock. According to the gossiping local shop keepers it was abandoned for some years now, owned by a far away noble unable to occupy it or build. The building had established a poor reputation since then, used primarily for drunken revelry by local youths or unsanctioned experiments by underground mages. Recently these trespassers had not been returning from the building, leading to a growing rumour of the house being haunted.

As Kelgore, Sebadoh, and Tyrus enter the house they send Tytös to fetch the others. Accompanied by some local shop-keeps the three mages search the upper floor, finding no signs of anything untoward but some evidence of the area being used recently. A dusty upper floor leads down a long winding ramp to the basement, all devoid of life. At the back of the basement is a stone wall of different make to that around it, it's door silver edged and far older than the basement or perhaps even the city of Lorys. Beyond the group finds a multilevelled crypt, the sheer drop of floors fallen away leading down to a stone room filled with blood stains. Leaving the shop-keeps at the top of the precipice the group moves to investigate, finding the hewn remains of sylvan and human corpses littering the area. As they analyse the strange altar at the centre of the room a cry is heard from above and one of the shop-keeps plummets to her death on the floor below with a sickening squelch.

With air bursting pops a pair of mages appear from their previous concealment, one waving an incantation and causing an air elemental to appear while the other grapples to push the final arcanist shop-keep off the edge of the floor above. With a snarl Sebadoh steps into his own shadow and appears on the ledge above, shoving the mage away from the shop-keep and forcing him back towards the ledge himself. Tyrus flings a fireball towards the other mage and incinerates him as the ledge he inhabits is entirely engulfed in flame. Kelgore transforms into his wyrm form and wrestles the air elemental long enough for it to dissipate, by which time things had gone poorly above. Forced to the edge by Sebadoh's staff the mage drew from his robes an unholy icon and smashed it upon the ground, releasing a wave of miasma and death that ripped off skin and rotted flesh from bone. Sebadoh and the shop keep were both caught in the blast and reduced to mere skeletons, managing in his last moment to push the enemy mage off the ledge to his death.

Barely able to mourn the death of their friend Kelgore and Tyrus move upstairs after they begin to hear strange noises from above. On the ramp upwards they are ambushed again, magical traps activating and throwing them from their feet as a cadre of dark robed mages move to finish their wounded prey. Expecting easy kills the enemy mages are surprised when they are met by a charging lindwyrm and a mage flinging firebolts. One goes down to Tyrus' flames while a third is chased back by Kelgore after narrowly escaping the blast.

As the mage retreats, attempting to put out the fire that Tyrus had conjured on her robes, she is met by the rest of the party, arriving at last at Tytös' summons. Dargo smashes through the door and seeing the mage raise her hand towards him cuts her down without question, his axe cleaving clean through her still aflame body. Bort eagerly piles in after him. From the cellar bursts Kelgore, fearsome in his wyrm form, who slithers at once towards the last remaining mage. The heavily mutated horned creature attempts to ready a component from his robes but his hands are bound to his body by the crushing weight of Kelgore's long sinuous form as it wraps around him, slowly crushing the life out of him until at last with a sickening crunch the light leaves his eyes. The others fan out and search the fallen while the local spell guard arrive to cordon off the area. Bort runs to inform Silverhorn and an adept of the Secret Keeper named Belladonna is sent to consecrate the ritual site and oversee matters. By this time the group had dispersed, some to a local tavern to toast their victory and others to the Garden of the Dead to speak to Silverhorn.

It is discovered that the mages were none other than cultists of an illegal mages guild called the 'Red Dawn', an enemy of both the Blue Drakes and the Secret Keepers church. As a reward for returning to him the heretical magical spellbook of the fallen mages Silverhorn gifts each of the party a touch of fate, opening their minds further in an area of their choice. He also collects all of the illegal components found at the site, the remainder of which being traded to the Blue Drakes in return for credit with a local enchanter and the ascension to the rank for adept for Tyrus. The group hurries to use this credit and the enchanter's lab is busy for many days to come.

Amongst the possessions of the deceased mages is found four soul gems, filled with the souls of the unfortunate civilians who ventured into the house. Some discussion is had about the moral repercussions of using such gems before the decision is finally made to use the gems to forge a weapon to combat heresy, agreed as a just use for the lives lost. In a local weaponsmith they find a silver axe of fine make, previously wielded by a bounty hunter with the purpose of killing Lycanthropes. Around the enchanting table gathers the entire group, watching as the enchanter pours the magical energy of the soul gems into the weapon. Each present gives some of themselves to the cast; a regret or condolence, a memory or promise. They bind themselves to it as magical energy courses through the silver blade. Silverhorn is last, putting the blessing of the Secret Keeper upon the blade.

It's silver blade resembles the moon, and moons and stars are crafted upon it's blade. Down it's shaft are carved the names of those fallen: Rahvik, Sebadoh, Yuvath, carved in high sylvan ruins of memorial, alongside the names of the fallen civilians whose souls filled it. It shimmers in the light, the mages present fearful to touch it for the raw energy contained within. Panting from exertion Silverhorn stands tall: "From darkness you came, and into the light you shall lead us. Purifier. Exalter. Daemon slayer. Let you be named Secaellor."


Part XI: Aerosharks to Starboard

A cry is raised by Helios the lookout far above. "Attack! Attack" he exclaims, pointing to a series of large shapes rising from the ocean just off the edge of the boat. "Sharks! Air sharks off the starboard bow!"

[Perilous journey to the Red Island]
The Waverunner glides out of Lorys with a full hold, the slayers of Nethranhep standing in the wind on its deck. It makes good time south along the coast of the Elazyndrian gulf. On the afternoon of the first day out of the city a pack of carcharodon begin to follow the ship, eager to scavenge any food they could from the ship. Suddenly the skin of those on board prickles with magical discharge. The sharks begin to rise from the ocean blue, confused for a second before darting towards the ship. Understandably these flying sharks terrify the crew and as the predators swoop most of the men aboard duck to cover and begin to load crossbows with terrified eyes. Sharpened by combat the party reacts, Tyrus burning one beast from the air in a burst of fire as Dargo and Bort move to intercept the others on their swooping attack runs. Bort splits one from head to tail with his glaive as Kelgore transforms into his wyrm form. As the final shark sweeps past he lashes out with his teeth, pulling the shark to the deck as Dargo lays into it with his axe, eventually beheading the beast.

Kelgore spends the day skinning the carcharodon as another ship approaches in the mist. As the longship gets closer it is revealed to be a ship of the Selkine, the sea-bound Thropes. As interactions with the Selkine are very rare the two ships pull up and crews move between them changing trinkets and selling items. The Selkine have thick rubbery fur and webbed digits, armed with weapons forged from deep sea rocks and coral. They wear armour made from leviathan scales and bones, each piece patched numerous times but worn by seasoned warriors. The party speaks to the leaders of the Selkine ship, the chieftain and shaman tight lipped. The shaman, a worshipper of the great turtle Shik'Telminar, sells Kelgore the shell of a giant turtle and instructs him in the art of transforming into aquatic animals. He also scrimshaws on Kelgore's new shark tooth necklace and leads him in prayer. The two ships part with amicable words and the breaking of wine.

After the excitement of the Selkine and levitating sharks the passing of ships seems almost mundane, although the group does note that the gulf seems to be getting busier. Longships of House Vakihris are the only that stop, giving hails and trading some items between the crews. An Imperial sky-fleet flies far above one day, the signs of battle upon their hulls as they sail north towards Lorys. During this time for the most part the group lazes below boards or sunning on the deck during the pleasant days. Also during this time an affair begins between Shipmistress Syrraneal and Tyrus, their dalliances regularly broken up by games of chance or discussion. The next day a small water spout grows suddenly near the ship and passes over it without incident. Although common this seemed entirely unnatural, the water whirlwind seeming to have no strength and passing through the ship without harming the crew. As this occurs the crew witness a sudden vision of a crab claw handed creature with dark silver armour striding across the bottom of the ocean floor.

After the eventful journey south the group drifts back into Velion. Most of the crew disperse to the port-side town eager to enjoy the two days of leave the Shipmistress grants them. The party likewise spreads amongst the taverns and inns of the town, Tyrus taking up residence at an upper-class inn The Strident Squall. He barely leaves the gambling tables there, talking with officers of the Imperial Elazyndrian fleet. It seems the Empire had sent its fleet south to seize and occupy Jerongalos. The timing seemed just too convenient, particularly since the Admiral in charge of the fleet was looking for the Slayers of Nethranhep. Amongst the lower taverns the others listen to soldiers talking about Gnoll barbarian raids to the west near Rapadrun, blaming these barbarians for the plague that had manifested in Endrovosh.

The Waverunner leaves Velion after two days with items to trade with the Red Port. Sailing is calm at first but during the first night a series of storm fronts hit. Standing stalwart on the deck during these fronts Bort is hit by a freak king wave, the water smashing him to the deck. His glaive slides from his grip in the onslaught and slides off the side of the ship. Kelgore transforms into his newly mastered carcharodon form and searches for the fallen glaive but is unable to find it. Bort mourns his lost weapon by raising a small cairn to it on the deck.

In the early hours of the morning on the open ocean Tyrus and Kelgore are jolted awake by a prickling of their magical senses. The former dons his mages robes over his smallclothes and exits the Shipmistress' cabin to find the deck crawling with foul fishmen! The watchmen lay on the deck with throats slit and by some foul magic vast vines of kelp had twisted themselves around the ship, binding it in place. Shouting alarms he rushes towards the foe.

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As even more slimed and scaled fishmen climbed onto the deck the vines seem to quiver. No longer holding the ship they reached out to grasp the fish beasts, pinning them to the deck. Far below Kelgore sat in meditation, reaching his formidable byomantic power to the kelp above and wrenching it from the grasp of it's original master. Tyrus strode forward and his entire naked was engulfed in flame, before sending bolts of flame searing towards those fishmen who had managed to remain unentangled. Moments later he was joined by Shipmistress Syrraneal, similarly scantily clad but wielding her shield and scimitar with abundant skill. Although they hold for some time the pair are eventually overrun, the dodging and parrying not enough to hold off the fishmen that assault them. Eventually they are laid low, blows from bone axes cutting deep rents in their flesh. Just as all seems lost the crew finally rally from beneath the deck, led in the charge by First Mate Yorrel and Bort. More fishmen clamber onto deck and are engaged by Dargo and Ma'jiid as the crew begins to slit the throats of those fishmen caught by Kelgore's vines. The Thaur sits perfectly still below, a small grove of grassy plants forming around him on the wooden floor, his byomantic power made manifest. He struggles with a fishman shaman metres below the surface of the ocean, clashing their arcane prowess in a mage duel that caused moss to emerge all over the wood of the ship. Bort engages the chieftain of the fishmen in single combat, the creature sprouting strange glowing coral from his wrists as Bort twists and changes into a were-ursa. The coral darts through Bort's defences and pierces through his lycanthropic resistance and as he reels in pain he is struck by numerous crossbow bolts. Bleeding and defeated he is saved at the last moment by Tyrus, the beast towering over him set ablaze with a click of his fingers. As the crew kill the last of the invaders they surg forward and hack the flaming chieftain to pieces. A quiet falls over the deck, the groans of the wounded the only sound in the quiet dark of the night.

Still reeling from the attack the ship passes through an area of strange red sea. With a start the crew realise the red liquid was not water but blood, the welling pool greater than any single creature of group could provide. Further into the blood they would find dozens of ruined ships, some still flying the flags of pirates. The ships seems to have been downed by magic and high-tech weapons, the tell-tall burn marks and holes of dragonettes obvious to the seasoned eyes of Shipmistress Syrraneal and First Mate Yorrel. The Imperial fleet had not been idle in the gulf. The Waverunner limps into the Red Port the two days after the attack. The town is for the most part stone and mud huts, large jetties and wharfs holding dozens of ships. A large stone tower at the centre of town flies a banner showing a black dragon on a red field, giving the Red Port it's other name: Stonetower. On the north of the island the volcano erupts, spilling magma to the north side of the island and slowly increasing its size as the cold water and magma flow collide and form ashy stone. The dragon dwells in the centre of the volcano, Nichtaemmar's dominion over the island complete.


Part XII: The Red Island

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The Red Mountain

The two groups eyed each other from across the tavern. Thropish pirates and Sylvan marines gingering fingering their weapons as they sip their ceramic mugs of local liquor. At the end of each day they would go to their different accommodations and every morning return to the tavern to eye off the other group. As they sat the pressure from beneath the Red Island sends another plume of flame skyward, an appropriate backdrop to the palpable tension on the Island.

[Politics on the Red Island]
Leaving the Waverunner the group moves towards the centre of the port city, the stone tower dominating the landscape. Beneath the stone tower was an inn, it's common area taking up the entire bottom floor of the tower and it's rooms directly above. Within the room sit two main groups, eyeing each other suspiciously from beneath the rims of the local spiced rum. One one side are Thropish pirates, cutlasses at their waists and wearing brightly coloured clothes and rusty armour. Across from them sit the troops of the Empire, members of the Imperial Gulf Trading Company in their characteristic sky blue uniforms. They sit armoured and armed despite the heat, glaring at the dishevelled but equally heavily armed men across from them. The tension is palpable.

Largely ignoring the two groups the party goes about their business, selling their plundered weapons and armour to the local blacksmith. They also engage in mercantile ventures with a small group of Selkine who sit apart from the regular folk in the inn. The Selkine are keen to purchase the plundered Fishman equipment, specialised as it is for aquatic combat. While at the blacksmith Bort orders a new glaive to be made, trading with some local sailors to gain the requisite sylvarite materials to create it. The group books rooms, and a lavish tent for Shipmistress Syrraneal and Tyrus, before settling in for the night. The next morning the group starts walking up the well paved path from Stone Tower towards the centre of the Red Island, and the volcano contained there.

As the march grows steeper and steeper the trees begin to thin, the verdant soil of the island replaced by the volcanic dirt of the mountain. Black stone pave stones begin to make their way into the path and large dark statues of dragons dot the pathway. Eventually the path reaches a series of steps leading up into the temple proper, a black stone building carved into the side of the mountain of unfamiliar architecture rich with draconic iconography. The temple's walls are akin to those of a fortress, and patrolled by crossbow wielding men in black and red armour stylised to resembled the feathers of a dragon. The group meets with a clerk in similar attire, his armour boiled leather and his fingers stained with ink. He puts the group into the supplicants list at place number 723, informing them that it should take approximately two and a half years for their petition to be seen by the dragon. This timeframe obviously unacceptable the group discussed with the exarch-clerk the importance of their mission, mention the cult of Shesk Rahan. The clerk sends for his superior, and some minutes later the group is passed through to ascend higher into the temple.

After climbing the 821 steps of the temple the group is met by a dark haired Sylvan lady of incredible beauty, flanked by a pair of heavily armoured and scarred warriors. She introduces herself as Speaker Helyn, seneschal to the dragon Nichtaemmar. She informs the group of the trouble on the island, the competition between the pirates and Imperial soldiers reaching the point of violence. She seeks to disperse this pressure, and calls upon the group to accept the offer of the Imperial forces to take them to Jerongolas, where the commander of the Imperial forces in the region wishes to speak to them. She then leaves abruptly, suggesting the party speak to a Dragon-Priestess in charge of supplicant offerings. Praetarch Shelya is a dark skinned human lady of advanced years, and directs her dozen servants to move and catalogue piles of treasure as the party enters her chambers. She tells the party about the competition of tributes taking place between the Thrope pirates and the Imperial Gulf Trading Corporation, with each trying to outbid the other for the purchase of an artefact from within the Dragon's horde. Named 'the Eye of Korab', it's purpose is unknown to her but it's worth obvious given the vast resources input by both parties. Korab the Everliving was a champion of Shesk Rahan who settled on the Red Island in ages past but was reportedly slain when the Drow invaded. She instructs the group that she does not wish the pirate faction to be successful, but they outbid the Imperials by some margin. As a solution to this problem she suggests they kill one of the offspring of Nichtaemmar, sold to and subsequently lost by the Dwarves of the Bolkov Holds. If the group was to kill this fire drake they could count 20 additional platinum towards their cause, securing them the artefact.

After a short discussion the group decides upon a course of action. They would go with the Imperial Gulf forces on the Red Island to Jerongolas, thus easing the pressure on the Dragon Exarchs that the potential conflict would create. At Jerongolas they would meet with the Imperial Mistress of Ships and secure her help in travelling to the dragon. Killing the dragon and returning his pelt would secure the Eye of Korab, denying the Thrope pirates their prize and hopefully unlocking the next part of the Shesk Rahani puzzle.

As Tyrus leaves back to the port to inform Shipmistress Syrraneal of their departure with the Imperial ships the rest of the group go north to search for the statue of Korab. Moving around the mountain they pass out of the jungle and onto the northern ash-steppes. Here they find the statue of Korab. He is an earthen in full plate armour, the sigil of the gibbet moon carved upon both his brow and his breastplate. The headless statue is of the same black stone as the temple, a contrast to the statues flanking it. Two Drow spider-daemons are cast in verdigris bronze, in positions that show them beheading the statue of Korab. These additions were clearly made by the Drow on their invasion of the island to commemorate their supremacy.

As the group dwells upon the statue of Korab they are shocked by the approach of a beautiful young lady, who after some awkward first words introduces herself as Lady Naerish. She engages in some small talk with the group as Kelgore and Dramiante search for and find the head of Korab, both eyes present some metres down the hill from the statue. During this time Bort seems to have become smitten with the Lady Naerish, talking with her at uncharacteristic length and even reciting some of his personal poetry. He laughs without mockery at his attempts at courtship and after a courteous farewell departs. Kelgore is suspicious of her and sends one of his animals to follow, seeing through the creatures eyes as she leaves the mountainside. As soon as she is out of eyesight of the party she takes two steps and leaps into the air, transforming into a large golden drake before flying further up towards the peak of the mountain. Kelgore informs the party of the oddity and they hasten back to Stone Tower port.

With days still before Bort's custom order glaive is ready the party decides to wait until it is completed to depart. During this time they meet with Salt Thane Morri, the commander of the Imperial Gulf Trading Corporation forces in Stone Tower. He is an older Earthen, with a large nose protruding from above his grey beard. He is eager to speak to the group and return them to Jerongolas, but more than willing to wait the necessary days to depart. During these days a storm rocks the island, ripping trees from their roots and throwing about the many unsecured tents in the port-city. Kelgore spends these days practicing his transformations, swimming the coastline in his new aquatic forms. Bort often accompanies him, to swim beside him and even in some cases to stand upon his back as he catches waves to shore. A few days in a thunderclap is heard in town as a group of three bejewelled and armoured figures step from a gateway of light and begin to walk the many steps towards the dragons temple. Unsure of their identity or purpose the party goes about their business. The day of their departure they see the familiar form of the wizard Endrovar coming down from the temple steps. He informs them that there were some Gyomantic issues atop the peak of the volcano that he had been called upon to fix as a favour to the great dragon. At Tyrus' request Endrovar transforms his newly inserted coral hidden blade into crystal, the weapon functioning the same way without the "fishman" smell many had complained about.

The next day the group boards the cruiser Eldramarrion with Salt Thane Morri. It is a large vessel with over 100 crew, and the group forecasts the might of the Empire facilitating a much easier journey than their way here.


Part XIII: An Empire's Grasp

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Occupied Jerongolas

"Fire, burn wood" Bort on the complications of dragons

[Return to Jerongolas and hunting the dragon]
As the massive weight of the Eldramarrion sails out of the Stonetower bay the group sees the Waverunner also leaving, the much smaller ship heading south to trade with the city of Shan Evara. Salt Thane Morri leads a crew of mixed races, Sylvan and Earthen sailors standing side by side with Thropes and Quicklings, but all wear the sky blue of the Imperial Trading corporation and seem to know their work. They refer to their leader affectionately as "Shnozza", no doubt for his comically large nose, and prove friendly and accommodating to the group during their time aboard.

What should have been a quick journey to Jerongolas is lengthened when a storm on the first night at sea blows the Eldramarrion off its course. Awaking the next morning the group finds the ship becalmed, blown by ill-winds towards the coast of the Lorovian peninsula. A strange smell is upon the air as the ship drifts towards the famed and feared cliffs of Dovious. True to the rumours of the region the crew of the Eldramarrion soon fall ill with the gruesome 'Bloody Gasp'. Fits of coughing fill the air as the crew succumb to the illness, Kelgore barely sleeping as he darts back and forth between the ill, trying to attend to their sickness. All up the Bloody Gasp claims a dozen of Salt Thane Morri's crew, as well as the old Earthen himself. Of the group Tyrus is the most effected, his fevered insistence that he could "burn the illness away" quietened only by Kelgore's attentive service. Eventually the wind returned and the Eldramarrion continued onwards, a quick naval burial for the Salt Thane attended by the entire crew, including a now permanently wheezing Tyrus.

The most obvious changes to Jeronolas observed by the group were the ships, some dozen Imperial ships now dotted the southmost bay of the island while two airships were visible further inland. Imperial troops seemed to move back and forth from these ships to the shore in longboats and a vast wooden jetty is under construction by groups of slaves guided by whip laden overseers. The group is led inland by Captain Brimharp, the new master of the Eldramarrion, and pass by hundreds of tents in the familiar formations of a military base. Passing by one tent they notice a robed Sylvan figure dissecting a still writhing goblin, his assistant furiously taking notes in a grimoire. The group are given horses and ride the familiar path from the beach up towards the central pyramid. The forest around the pyramid is now gone, burnt away by pyromancers wearing the characteristic black of the naval battle mages. Within the pyramid the group meets with the Mistress of Ships, leader of the Imperial mission in the region, and her associate Velkanion.

The Shipmistress greets the group and over fine wine they discuss the goings on in the region. She seems to have far less information than the Slayers of Nethranhep, sharing only the larger political picture. She informs the group that Thrope pirates of the region were a front for a Rahani cult, and their attempt to purchase The Eye was directly related to the cult's activities in the region. The group tells her about the passage of their mission against the followers of Shesk Rahan, and she agrees to aid them in this endeavour. She will supply a ship to take the group to slay the dragon Naershonix on the condition that the 20 platinum promised for it's destruction would be added to the already sizeable donations of the Imperial Gulf Trading Company. She also promises to supply the tools to raid the nearby sunken ruin, a location that is not only a focus point for the Rahani cult but promises much coin. Their meeting with the Mistress of Ships complete the group discusses matters with her advisor, Velkanion. Velkanion is a daemonborn, his head covered in sharp quills that change colour as he speaks. He wears a tight black overcoat with a pin that Dargo informs the others in hushed tones names him as one of the Blackguard, the private police and military of the Empress herself. They speak about the daemon guardian of the Silver Pyramid and the operation of the Moon-Forge, passing over one of the Aspect Stones when pressured. The other Kelgore manages to withhold.

The Mistress of Ships has provided the group with the means to reach Naershonix, a heavy-frigate promised to take them to the northern fishing town of Thorum's Watch. From here the group can move inwards towards Hulog's Chasm, the rumoured last location of the dragon. Their new captain was to the towering Thaur Commodore Proudhorn, captain and owner of the Gracehorn. The ship is extravagant beyond belief, with gilded railings and a sapphire encrusted figurehead merged seamlessly with it's half dozen war-machines upon the deck. The Gracehorn is nonetheless a fine ship, and it makes the journey to Thorum's Watch a day quicker than expected. Sliding into town, however, the group knows that something is wrong. Thorum's Watch has been razed to the ground, the streets littered with rubble and the signs of a fight but no bodies are visible. Rowing to shore Dramiante informs the group that he has found the tracks of Orcs nearby, and what appeared to be those of a heavily armoured dwarf.

Kelgore retrieves from his coat a small ice crystal and holding it flat in his palm begins to move away from the ruins. Following him the group finds his path leads to a large patch of freshly disturbed earth, at the centre of which stands a dwarven cairn. Dargo and Bort recoil in disgust as the party approaches the cairn, explaining to the non-Earthen that this is no ancestral cairn but a foul and heretical 'iron cairn'. They explain that a rogue Earthen cult called the 'Dead Iron Cult' worships ancestors executed for crimes and entombed in iron casks beneath the earth. Kelgore senses life below and after some furious digging the group uncovers a dozen iron tombs. Using Tyrus' fire and their blades the group opens the tombs, finding within the decaying remains of eleven of the townsfolk and, oddly, one seal. Upon the sight of the seal Kelgore begins to weep, and transforming into his turtle form drags the body back to the sea. At Dargo's instruction a ceremony is had for the slain Earthen townsfolk, Tyrus cremating the bodies of the fallen.

Ma'jid's sharp nose easily tracks the passage of the Orcs, trekking along the coast before finally arriving at a large fissure in the side of the cliff face. Realising this is Hulog's Chasm the group comes to the realisation that these Orcs were in league with Naershonix, or more likely in service to him. Steeling themselves and hefting the fire-resistence potions they purchased on Jeronoglas they move into the chasm, the sounds of roars echoing through the dark recesses of the chasm…


Part XIV: The Dragon

It's wings beating like colossal shadows in the dim light of the chasm the creature lifted from it's hiding spot and swooped towards the interlopers. Hefting weapons and quickly drinking the potions clasped in their hands they brace as its feathers bristle and glow with a dark fire…

[Fighting a Fire Drake]
Rumour was that in an age long past it was foretold that Nichtaemmar's eventual death would come at the hands of one of his sons, and since that day he had cast them out and sold them to various nations as slaves. Naershonix was a fire drake, sold to serve as heat for the forges of the Dwarves before his eventual escape. All of this lay heavy upon the minds of the group as they moved further into the tunnels of Hulog's Chasm towards their quarry. Accompanying them were two of the Thaur crew from the Gracehorn, hefting massive crossbows easily as tall as a man. Commodore Proudhorn had sent these men with the party to ensure their work was done, and the group was glad for their presence.

The group moves silently through the chasm, their progress lit by the daylight seeping in from the gap high above. Dramiante moves ahead of the group, silently sniping Orc sentries with expertly aimed arrows to eyes or throats. He returns to the main party after minutes scouting ahead, reporting a large score of Orcs who appeared to be camped at the ruins of an Earthen building. Instructing the Orcs was a heavily armoured Dwarf, using a bladed whip to force the captured folk of Thorum's Watch to mine the walls of the ruin. As Dramiante reports his findings a rumbling growl and the thud of heavy wings echoes through the chamber as further down the chasm the great dragon emerges from the darkness and begins to fly towards the group.

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The beast is the size of a ship, his red scaled hide sprouting black feathers and a dimly glowing crest of feathers atop his head announcing him as a fire drake. As it comes into full view the two Thaurs raise their massive crossbows and fire, the arm sized bolts taking the creature in its chest. Roaring in pain it falters for just a moment, its massive bulk smashing into one of the rock formations of the chasm and throwing debris everywhere as it hits the ground. Kelgore sprints towards the massive beast as it tries to rise, drawing an acorn from his robes and throwing it upon the downed form of the dragon. From the acorn magical energy conjures thick rope like vines that wrap around the struggling form of the dragon and holding it to the ground. As the beast struggles Tyrus conjures fire around his form and moves up the valley to intercept the Orcs he believed would be soon be upon them, assisted by Ma'jid and her cats. The others lay into the writhing form of the dragon; Bort laying slashes upon its sides with his long bladed spear, Dargo chopping stockily with his axe 'Cersei' and Dramiante firing arrows into the beasts thrashing head. His arrows fly in a mist of blue energy, enchanted with magical ice to deny the drake the power of his fire. The dragon thrashes but Kelgore holds firm with his vines, sweat appearing upon his brow as he attempts to hold the vast strength of the creature. Eventually the niggling attacks of the party are too much, and after an arrow from Dramiante finds its throat Bort slams his glaive deep into the creatures eye, roaring a bestial cry of victory as he stands upon the creatures corpse.

Even as the dragons blood cools on the floor of the cave Tyrus shouts back to the group that a pack of Orcs is approaching. Dramiante deftly climbs atop a stoney pillar and begins to fire arrows at the approaching pack down the long dark gorge, the flash of blue of his ice-arrows impacting the only sign of the Orcs in the far distance. As he does so Tyrus begins to cast magic into a ball of flame which hovers in the air, noting that he had read about delaying fireball release and was glad to have a chance to attempt it. As the twenty or so Orcs round the final bend towards the group they are hit by a fierce counterattack, the brown skinned creatures in shoddy armour made from looted dwarven plate no match for the the arrows of Dramiante and the Thaurs. Enraged the Orcs sprint into Tyrus' trap, which explodes in blossoms of blue fire that scar and burn their forms. The survivors stumble into Kelgore's vines, that grapple them for long enough for the blades of Bort and Dargo to finish them off.

Figuring the numbers of the Orcs at the ruin now limited the group moves on from the slain creatures, slitting throats as they go for assurance. They find the remaining Orcs in the location Dramiante had previously scouted, but find themselves fired upon by Orc archers as soon as they attempt to draw near to the ruin. The Thaurs and Dramiante return fire as Bort and Tyrus charge into a group of Orcs heading towards the party. As the Goliath begins to lay in with his glaive Tyrus conjures flame and sends it towards the beasts, their flaming forms easily dispatched by Bort. While this occurred Kelgore grapples another group of Orcs with his magical vines, and Dramiante engaged in a ranged duel with the heavily armoured Dwarf. The Dwarf was weaving magic at Dramiante, causing the very rock he stood upon to burst up in sharp arrows to pierce the elf. Dodging them nimbly the elf responds with his ice-arrows, eventually silencing the Dwarf with an arrow throw the narrow eye-slit of his armoured helm. As the group watches the slaves from the town break through of their chains and begin to lay into the remaining Orcs with their rusty picks, messily but effectively slaying the beasts in a fit of vengeful rage.

An elderly Dwarf slave introduces himself as Thoring Thorumson, the mayor of Thorum's Watch, as the group sets about freeing the shackled slaves. The dead armoured Dwarf is identified as a priest of the heretical Dead Iron cult. Tyrus burns the artefacts of the heretic, overseen by Kelgore's words of purification. From beneath a large rock the group pulls the dragons horde, a collection of Dwarven armour and weapons gathered by the creature. Within the horde Dargo finds a fine set of ornate cold iron armour, changing out of his own buffed and scratched armour of the same material into this new set. A pile of magical weapons are placed in an Orcs dirty bag for later identification, and fine Dwarven jewellery is picked up and worn by Dargo and Bort. Within the ruin they find a large cold iron door, bound with symbols of protection. Realising the cultist and his slaves were trying to mine around the door the group leaves the area unmolested, reasoning whatever was bound here was bound for a reason. Collecting the dragons corpse on the way out the group begins to drag the mighty beasts corpse back to the Gracehorn at Thorum's Watch.

The journey back to Thorum's Watch is uneventful, the corpse of the dragon easily dragged by the townsfolk in shifts. Tyrus looks sadly upon the fallen creature, but his vote to skin the creature now and leave the rest is overridden by the others. The journey is swift nonetheless, guided as they were by the locals. But it is with shock that they come within view of Thorum's Watch and observe of the noticeable absence of the Gracehorn. Kelgore casts out his mind to detect the ship, but cannot find them within his magical perception. What he does discover is that Thorum's Watch is crawling with creatures, the life energy now visible as the hated Fishmen! Two dozen of the creatures emerge from the ruined town, making towards the magical energy of Kelgore at the guidance of a Shaman. Further down the beach another group emerges from the water and in unison with their fellows from the town, they move towards the small tired group dragging a dragons corpse…


Part XV: A Heavy Toll

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Thorum's Watch

From the dry brush leaps a small cat, not knee high. The creature begins to roar defiantly at the oncoming wave of enemies, its small voice barely audible amongst the war cries its enemies and the screams of the wounded. The charging creatures scoffed at the creatures defiance, their towering forms eager to taste blood. From behind the small cat came another, larger than the first. And another, and another. Striped sphynxs and spotted sylvan hunting cats stand alongside mottled brown lynxs at the edge of the forest, all roaring as one at the oncoming forces. A slight Thropish female walks at their front and with a single gesture the mother of cats leads her small army across the sands towards her foes…

[Rebuffing a Fishman assault]
With his booming voice Dargo instructs Bort to join combat with the splinter group of Fishmen, instructing him that this was to be his final proving before being allowed back into the clan. With an anguished look at missing the main fight Bort runs off down the hill towards the far small group of Fishmen, shining polearm swinging in the morning sun.

As the army of Fishmen draw nearer the group takes up defensive positions around a thin dried forest, with Dramiante high above on the top of a rocky outcrop for greater visibility. The ranger hefts his new rifle and fires off a shot, finding the extreme range difficult and slewing just to the right of his target. At the front of the quickly approaching horde are giant sea trolls, armoured in bone armour and clearly protecting the small fish creatures behind them. As they come into range the Minotaur sailor Thorm aims his massive crossbow and shoots one of the creatures dead in the eye, a cheer going up in the cowering dwarven slaves. Dargo encourages the cheer, shouting insults at the oncoming horde and boasting to the assembled dwarves about how many Fishmen he would slay today. His estimates had it somewhere at three dozen but many accounts. A hole now punched in the sea troll wall Dramiante begins to shoot his blue streaking arrows into the group behind, felling Fishmen as they attempted to close the gap towards the party.

His success does not go unremarked as the Fishmen bring forth mighty siege crossbows and aim for his silhouetted form against the desert sun. The first bolt strikes true, knocking the Sylvan backwards and leaving him reeling as quarrel after quarrel strikes his form, smashing his chainmail asunder and leaving him bleeding and broken on the top of the high mound of rock. Kelgore is engaged in a mage duel with a trio of Fishman shamans and can only watch on as his companion bleeds to death from the four deep wounds in his chest. As Dramiante's blood pumps slowly down the sides of his rocky tomb one of the enemy mages is punctured by twin bolts from the Thaur sailors and is thrown metres backwards from the force of the giant bolts. Tyrus strides from the dry forest and shoots fire at the remaining sea troll, his tattoos glowing and moving on his form as he puts more and more energy into the flames until the creature was reduced to ash. The counter attack had begun.

From the dried forest Ma'jid leads her small army of cats, almost a dozen of the creatures springing forward at their mothers command towards the Fishmen. Alongside them strides Dargo, his short legs carrying him with pace as he shouts and swings his war-axe Cersei. The two lines hit with a sickening crunch as the Fishmen make contact with the party's counter attack force. Dargo hits shield first, laying about him with his axe with wrathful strikes. Ma'jids cats hit the Fishmen two or three at a time, dragging one to the ground with the help of Ma'jids expertly placed strike to the Fishman's helm. Two cats are speared to the ground be a Fishman wielding a horribly spiked spear of coral and rusted iron as Dargo squares off against a particularly large Fishman in single combat. One group of Fishmen are entangled as vines burst from the ground and drag them to the sand, Kelgore having dispatched his mage enemies and now strangling the Fishmen with dark spiked vines. Another group is incinerated by a swirling flame elemental, conjured by Tyrus who now stands at the back of the melee hesitantly trying to pick targets in the mass of blades and flesh. Eventually the group reaches the centre of the Fishman force, finding there a towering creature with mouldy bone plate armour wielding a trident and sword of coral covered iron. As he lays about him Ma'jid dodges under his blows and hits him with precision thrusts to the throat with her flat hands. As the creature reels two cats grapple his legs and pull them from under him, the entire pack of felines ripping the screaming chieftain to shreds as he struggles beneath them. Their leader dead the remaining creatures flee, easily picked off by Dargo and the crossbows of the Minotaurs.

In the aftermath of the battle Kelgore levitates Dramiante's corpse down from his perch and the local Dwarves begin to pile the Fishman corpses for burning. Tyrus ignites the creatures remains with disdain and the group moves on from the battleground, Ma'jid carrying the dead bodies of her fallen cats and weeping silent tears. Reaching Thorum's Watch the group finds no survivors from the Gracehorn but some fresher signs of battle. They settle in for the night as a pyre are built for the corpse of Dramiante. All attend the quiet ceremony, aware of the sacrifice made for them. Ma'jid takes her cats out to the desert and buries them alone. Dargo is now attended by four young Dwarven men from the town, who had scavenged black iron weapons and armour from the ruins and had declared themselves his squires for the rest of his adventures, impressed as they were by his prowess in both battle and name calling.

In the light of the new day Kelgore discovers a horror at the edge of the town. A great mass of coral sits just offshore, far beyond the size of natural coral and amidst its spines are displayed the bodies of many of the crew of the Gracehorn. In the middle of the sick tableau is Commodore Proudhorn himself, speared by a dozen shards of the coral spines. Kelgore retrieves the Commodore with byomantic manipulation of nearby kelp and starts to see to his wounds. The brave Thaur reports that his men held the bay for three days against an army of Fishmen, decimating their numbers as they tried to board the ship. Eventually Proudhorn's first mate Yaeloth betrayed him, tying him and his loyal crew up and dumping them in Thorum's Watch at the mercy of the Fishmen. He instructs Kelgore to retrieve his ancestral blade from the oceans floor before dying with a gasp. Knowing the men skewed on the giant coral growth are beyond saving Tyrus enflames the structure, his face stoney as the partially alive sailors scream and cry out as the flames engulf them. A funeral is held that evening for Proudhorn, Kelgore now holding the Commodores blade with a promise to return it to his family.

Now fully stranded the group digs in for a long stay in Thorum's Watch, aware that the Imperial Gulf Trading Corporation would eventually come looking for their missing ship. The surviving Dwarves of Thorum's Watch fish during the day, providing some sustenance for those cowering amidst the ruined town. During this time Kelgore and Ma'jid see about butchering the dragon for it's core components, fully aware that the body would soon begin to rot. They set up in a local stone building, cutting apart the dragon before it's pieces are expertly salted by the Thaur sailors. Once this task is complete Ma'jid hunts for food during the day with Bort and her cat-pack, bringing back what little game the desert has to offer. Kelgore uses his magic to purify the well, spoiled as it was by the Orcs during their sacking of the town. But despite these efforts food soon becomes short, the effort of feeding the Dwarven survivors taking its toll on the supplies of the party. On the night that the rations ran out Tyrus brings the meat of the dragon to a basement where he had prepared a ritual circle. The flame he conjures was a purest white and after a full night of burning the flesh remains nearly raw, the mages reporting with shock that the corruption that had lay upon it was now lifted. This meat feeds the survivors of Thorum's Watch for nearly a week, with Kelgore hunting for his own food in shark form and Dargo running combat drills with the Thorum's Watch local boys during the hot hours of the day. Not all is death and destruction however, within the basement of a collapsed building Bort finds a wounded Earthen. Sulpher is a Runecaster, a rare Earthen sorcerer, and covered in metallic tattoos. Visiting the town to study it's ancestral tombs, he had been caught unaware and badly hurt in the Fishman attack. He is in poor condition, but is nursed back to health at the studied hand of Kelgore.

After two weeks in Thorum's Watch a dark shape in the sky coalesces into an airship flying the colours of the Silver Empire. A squad of air-marines swing down on ropes and secure the area, while its Sylvan captain paces to the party and introduces himself as Liath the commander of the Wind's Progeny. He had been sent to search for the party after the Gracehorn did not return by the agreed by time. As the ship lowers to allow the group aboard a familiar figure paces down the lowering gangplank. Morkara's wounds are fully healed, his eyes now covered with a black blindfold bearing an eight pointed star sigil. He addresses the group at once, informing them that while they were away disaster had struck. There was a rebellion of Thropes in Velion that had sacked the temple of his order. He had bearly made it away with his life, and Silverhorn had been captured. Worse still the Rahani aspect stones in his care had been reclaimed by the rebels. The group boards the Winds Progeny quickly, the starved dwarves of Thorums Watch following behind carrying the sacks filled with the salvaged dragon components. As the ship pulls away the group sees the patches of blood that marked their earlier engagement and the scorch marks from the funeral pyres of Dramiante and Commodore Proudhorn. Thorums Watch had asked a heavy toll of the group, and with the events in Velion there was only more bloodshed on the horizon for them.


Part XVI: Heresy Begets Retribution

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The temple tree of Velion

The smell of death lay thick upon the air, battling with the naturally salty tang as the mud and wooden buildings of Velion taking a sinister new identity in the flickering torchlight. Here and there a local Sylvan lies transfixed against a building, spikes deep in their bodies pinning them in place like a gruesome marionette. A regally dressed woman hangs limply from the sign of her ransacked shopfront, her neck straining against the barbed wire cutting deeply into her flesh as flies dart in and out of her rotten eye sockets. Velion had not simply rebelled, it had fallen. Darkness and corruption had taken a grip of the city and would not relinquish it's hold easily. With grim faces and drawn weapons the group moves further into the city, a scalpel to incise the repulsive heart of the rebellion…

[Reclaiming Velion]
The Winds Progeny brought the group at pace to Jerongolas, the once tranquil island teeming with Imperial forces. Troops were mustering and boarding the many vessel packed into the makeshift dock and everywhere camps were struck and packed aboard by Thropish and Quickling slaves. The group rush through the mayhem to meet with the mistress of ships in her large black tent. The amassing of armies, assumed to be to retake Velion, was in fact to meet an enemy fleet attempting to block Imperial access to the gulf. A Rahani pirate fleet had blocked the seaward entrance to the gulf, and the ship mistress was leading her forces to combat them. As such the attack on Velion would only have one ship, the Gorelove, and a single company of Imperial marines to retake the city.

On the journey to Velion Kelgore and Tyrus discern that there is something wrong with two of the crew. These men were restless, often aggressive or anxious without cause and seemed to make odd noises in their sleep. Suspecting treachery an investigation followed in which Ma'jid surmised that the two were infected with Lycanthropy, having been bitten during an attack on the ship by Thropish pirates. Tyrus and Kelgore convince the two to be locked up for their own protection, their transformative moon soon approaching. The night is long and the painful howls of their fellows keep the crew from achieving sleep. When the morning came only one of the infected crew survived, Elroth, his body bruised and scraped from escape attempts but his mind at peace. He offers to come with the party, knowing that his time serving in the Imperial navy is at an end. They accept, once the business in Velion is concluded.

The party are dropped off several miles south of Velion in the early hours of the morning, intending to forge through the jungle on foot and infiltrate the city. Dargo, Sulpher and the dwarves of Thorum's Watch remain on the ship, more a liability than a boon in matters of stealth. The shore-bound were to send up a red flare for each enemy ship in the dock, with a single green flare if it was unoccupied. Packing heavy armour and hefting their darkened cloaks the group follows Ma'jid's lead through the dense shubbery, arriving at Velion the following nightfall without incident. The city itself looks much the same, aside from a few more smokey pillars and the odd flash of magic from the Solanus mage tower at the centre of the city.

Long had the native Thropes resented the heavy hand of the Empire upon their backs. Long had dissenters and secessionists conspired against their Sylvan overlords. Now in the 1235th year of the Emperess the long pressure was set to explode. It is during this time that Velion burns, and the history of the region is changed forever. A History of the Lorovian Peninsula, Part CXVI

Just outside the city Kelgore settles in for a ritual, painting obscure druidical symbols on the ground with the sap of trees and ritually slashing his palm. He enters a meditative state, informing the group that he is casting his mind into those of the animals in the city, and in doing so establishing the situation in the city. It seems that the rebels had established patrols and barracks throughout the city, but that most were gathered around the dock area. The Solanus tower at the centre of the city was still holding out, a small group of rebels exchanging bow fire with the tower in a committal way that suggested attrition. Two ships are seen in the harbour, but Kelgore's spies cannot determine if they are civilian or military vessels. The creatures would also not enter one area of the city, claiming it to be corrupted; the old temple district.

The group forms up on the east side of town while Kelgore turns into his aquatic form and swims around the south to the docks. Transforming back and drinking a potion of water breathing he plants two time delayed enchanted acorns on the present ships, part of a batch he had been working on for some time. As he returns the rest of the group on the outskirts the timed magical mines had detonated, causing the wood on the hulls of the ships to warp and begin to take on water. Sending up two red flares to indicate hostile ships to the waiting Gorelove the group starts sneaking through Velion's abandoned streets. They see few inhabitants as they pass, only the mutilated corpses of the local sylvan, seemingly killed and dismembered by the rebels. A few Quickling locals notice the group but quickly hide in their houses, unwilling to become involved in the upcoming hostility. Through streets covered in corpses the group slinks towards the temple district, where they suspect the leaders of the rebellion were hiding.

The temple district was once the most beautiful part of the city, the white buildings holding banners and artwork depicting the majesty of the trilogy of gods and the strength of the Empire. None of this beauty remains, the buildings marked with dark soot and the banners torn down and burned. At the centre of the square the once magnificent temple district tree sits despoiled, it's flesh rotten and blackened and numerous forms hung from it's boughs. One of these forms is Silverhorn, the venerable minotaur barely recognisable amidst the mutations and mageotech components that now cover his body. His horned head sits above a body of rotten muscle and bronze machinery that tower above a man, and his body carries the slashes and stitches of the surgery most foul. Next to the tree sits a crystal golem, not unlike those present at Endrovar's tower, but that this golem is coloured a violent red. As the group observes these foul constructs the echoing booms and snaps of crossbows and ballista are heard from the dock, the Gorelove clearly having begun it's assault.

The group attempts to sneak into the district, but after the attack on the docks it's inhabitants were ready for them. Ma'jid and her cats come under fire from archers hidden on the rooftops, two of the felines dropping with large arrows affixing their torsos. On a nearby balcony a female sylvan in red robes begins to incant and summons forth a whirlwind of sharp red crystals, sending the crimson maelstrom of death towards the group. With reflexes born of battle the party disperses, Tyrus and the Minotaur sailors ducking into cover and beginning to return fire from the archers as Ma'jid, Bort and Kelgore dash into the houses encircling the square, the latter pausing to morph into his fearsome wyrm form before taking cover.

As Bort emerges onto the rooftops across the square the dormant forms of the crystal golem and the Silverhorn monstrosity begin to stir. The mage attempts to move her swirling red vortex of shards towards where Tyrus and Ma'jid were taking cover, but her incantations are cut short by the writhing form of Kelgore. His wyrm form lungs from across the balcony, taking down the mage mid sentence and biting through her soft neck with a simple horrifying snap, before sliding back once again behind the ramparts. The archers sling their bows and draw silver axes, moving to engage Bort as he barrels towards them spinning his glaive. He kills a few in the opening blows, but their numbers circle around him and obscure him from the others view. As this occurs Tyrus sense magic being cast from the rooftop above his position and, assuming it hostile, sends a burst of flame that ignites the entire area. A small yelp is heard, before the now familiar smell of burning flesh assaults his nostrils.

The beast that was once Silverhorn rips loose of his shackes and bounds towards Ma'jid, his horns ripping through the armour of the Thropes chest and his now sharpened teeth biting deep into her arm. Pulling the limb away with a wrenching squelch Ma'jid falls to the ground in shock, staring at the stump that was her arm. Avenging their mother Ma'jid's cats enter the fray, their tiny forms leaping and scratching the Silverhorn creature as he flails wildly at the agile creatures. Their cause is hopeless, but gives Tyrus enough time to seal the bloody stump of Ma'jid's arm with fire and drag her into one of the nearby buildings. Returning to the fight he holds his holy icon in a fist engulfed in flame and shouting in High Sylvan sends burst after burst for white hot flame into the monster that was once Silverhorn. Ma'jid's cats scatter back to their mother and the beast topples and falls, it's eyes popping and flesh melting beneath the onslaught of Tyrus' holy flames.

By this time Kelgore had returned to his Minotaur form and now grappled with the red crystal golem. Kelgore was manipulating the temple district tree, the great tree just alive enough for the druid to will it to aid him. The golem struggled against the great boughs of the tree but was unable to break out of it's embrace. Nearby Bort had killed the last of the soldiers, now revealed to be Sylvan, and was engaging in single combat with a black furred foe. With extreme skill they clashed back and forth, the Goliath's shining spear meeting the Thrope's silver axe again and again as the two lethal foes tested each others mettle. Still struggling with the tree the crystal golem finds itself engulfed in flame, Tyrus having finished with Silverhorn and turning his attention to the giant red automaton. As the branches of the tree held fast the crystal splintered and cracked beneath the ferocious fire, eventually shattered into a thousand pieces to the floor. By this time Bort's fight had evolved, his opponent having removed his armour and transformed into a fearsome Lycanthrope. Bort bears terrible wounds upon his legs and arms, but fights on with renewed vigour. Seeing his allies fall however the Thrope bounds over the rooftops and disappears, leaving a wounded and somewhat disappointed Bort.

The silence that drops over the temple square does not last long, the Minotaurs shouting out that another group is approaching. Even in their weakened form the party readies itself to fight to the death, taking up positions to defend the square with their last breaths. It is therefore with sweet relief that the group approaching wears the laminar plates and pointed star crest of the Empire. A group of battle-mages from the tower had broken through to see who else was fighting in the city, complete with a squad of garrison soldiers. They leave the soldiers to guard the wounded members of the party, moving on to help in the reclamation of the city.

A few smaller groups of Thropish rebels attack the temple square, but these are easily seen off by the newly stationed soldiers or Tyrus' fire. During this time Kelgore tends to the wounds of Bort and Maj'id, the mother of cats mourning the death of another of her children with a few quiet words. The marines of the Gorelove eventually make their way to the temple district, finding their infiltration force beaten but not broken nearby a smoking tree. The city had been reclaimed, the leader of the rebellion having surrendered. It seems he was a Thrope shaman of some repute, and tertiary investigations have led to suspicions of cogymantic invasion, the elderly Thrope having no memory of the weeks leading up to the rebellion. The group at the temple were Sylvan deserters and the mage a known secessionist. Nothing is known of the black furred Thrope, and with his escape his identity would remain a mystery. However, in his discarded clothes is found a hand written prophecy, referring to the Rahani rebirth.

Ancient Rahani Prophecy

Each turn of A'Muin's Shade,
The Eternal Dreamer shall Gaze Upon the Void,
Sundered Dreams in Chamber Sundered,
Lord Rahan, imprisoned by Princely Thirst,
Will Rage in Lunar Shadows,

Unless, the Sundered Chamber,
Is Breached by Blood Lost,
Marked and Puntalune,
As the Blessed Blood shall Choose,
Succouring equal Faith or Boon,

To as Companions Whole,
Declare and Patronate, The Dreamer,
Sole-Lunoth, taking Flesh of God,
And with the Flesh's next Return,
Become Hands to Chase the Moon,

Or refute the Pentalune Trials,
Yet Restoring Flesh still,
The Blessed, drawing Quenched Light,
May Strike, Sundering Thirst,
And complete The Calamity's work,

But if they flip Jel'Kassyr's Coin,
Forgetting Flesh or Eduring Silver,
Failed Flesh, to Dream Eternal,
But Unquenched Thirst, Enduring,
Spells the Southern Reaches' Doom.

Notes from the diary of 'Bloodsphinx', assassin of Shesk Rahan

The Rakshassan Pantheon:

  • A’Muin the Lunoth (moonsphinx) (Death, Chaos, Nature)
  • El’Nuish the Cubmother (worg) (Life, Chaos, Flesh)
  • Jel’Kassyr the Trickster (gnoll) (Life, Chaos, Knowledge)
  • Gol’Rarkar the Warrior (firbolg) (Life, Chaos, War)
  • Yol’Trath the Shattered (panthersphinx) (Death, Chaos, Magic)
  • Ral’Thalas the Finned (selkine) (Life, Chaos, Nature)
  • Shesk’Rahan the Outsider (Death, Chaos, Decay)

An Ending of Sorts

The revolution in Velion ended within a week. The Empire's response was restricted by the turmoil in the region but nonetheless effecient, a small group of infiltrators succeeding at killing the leaders of the rebellion while a small unit of Imperial marines occupied the city proper. The Gorelove is record as the ship solitarily involved, it's marines establishing proper order in the city and quelling the populace in the weeks to come. The temple district, so defiled by the invaders was restored by a single robed minotaur, some exaggerated reports claim he sung the temple tree back to life, the burnt husk growing green anew. A vast pyre was built for the bodies of the fallen, guarded over and tended by an unknown battlemage for a day and a night. With the arrival of Marines from Lorys the rebuilding of the city would begin in proper, while the Gorelove and her crew would move on to other challenges. A History of the Lorovian Peninsula, Part CXVI


Chapter Appendixes


Dramatis Persona

  • Morkara:
    • Sylvan Necromancer and Infyrnologist. Keen mind for the ways of the arcane and seeker of forbidden lore. Agent for a mysterious Secret Keeper sect.
  • Ma'jid:
    • She-Thrope beast handler, breeds war-cats. Trained in the martial arts of the Thropish monks. Cattery destroyed by bandits took to adventuring to earn the money to rebuild it.
  • Kelgore:
    • Thaur druid and byomancer. A kind soul, yet deadly when pushed to violence. Shapeshifter and friend of animals.
  • Bort:
    • Wandering Goliath of massive stature. Left his Earthen tribe to live in the caves of the Lorovian peninsula before joining the party by happenstance. Somewhat naive but nevertheless a fearsome warrior with his swordstaff.
  • Yuvath:
    • Gorgon slave-turned-rogue who fled an oppression far abroad. Deadly swift with a knife, often grins/jokes at inappropriate times.
  • Sebadoh:
    • Sect ally of Morkara. Sylvan nethermancer spellsword. Uses shadow magic to increase his abilities as an assassin. Considered unnaturally unlucky by his peers.
  • Tyrus Cinderborn:
    • Sylvan pyromancer and academic who worships an ancient draconic flame diety. Dragon tattoos that cover his body glow with magical light as he casts.
  • Dargo:
    • Rough-hewn Earthen of the Imperial heavy infantry. Uncle to Bort, joined the party to see the young Goliath through his coming of age. Booming and paternal.
  • Dramiante:
    • Sylvan hunter and talented archer. Enemy of the Red Dawn mage cult, allied to the party after they destroyed a cult cell.

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