DM When last we left our heroes, they were with Lord Saithnar, informing him of the heroic sacrifice of his kinsman, and leaving the powerful Stormshield with him for safe keeping. They promised to return and take it once Gulthias Sengir was slain truly. What awaits them now? Read on!
Julian Before taking his leave, Julian asks Saithnar whether he recognizes the mysterious laurel symbol that the three knights encountered several times beneath the chapel.
DM Saithnar grows very somber, even for a grim undead lord, at the mention. “It is the symbol of one of the most high gods of ancient Azlant, and was in decline long before my day.”
Julian Julian tilts his head. “The demons did not like it.”
DM “Lord Lycegen would not have been a friend to demonkind.”
Kryss “Demons…” Kryss whispers and suddenly The Cleaver is in his hand. He didn’t even remember drawing it.
Kryss The scent of fresh decay fills the room before Kryss can put the disgusting thing back in its sheathe.
Julian “What manner of god was he?”
DM “Hmm. We knew of him as ‘The Bright One’, or ‘Lightbringer’. He was however, also said to be a power of healing arts.”
Julian “I trust he would have been no foe of Tal, then.”
Julian “Thank you.”
Julian Julian glances to his companions, wondering whether they have anything else, and notices Kryss’s blade out. He raises an eyebrow.
Kryss “I just put it away!” Kryss this time securely straps the blade to his back.
Julian “…well, then, Earl Saithnar, by your leave?”
Shael After that, Shael places his hands on Sylph and Nisse and finds a place suitably empty of other accountreme. He tilts his head to one side and asks, “May I test myself against you once more?”
DM The sounds of Shael’s blade ringing against Saithnar’s sounds in Julian and Kryss’s ears as they make their way out. Erdegorm brings his comatose body up and sets it on the ground before them.
Kryss “Did he do any better this time?”
DM Erdegorm nods once before exiting.
Julian Julian devotes a small jolt of healing energy to the task of bringing Shael around so that they don’t have to lug him out.
Kryss Kryss ensures all the horses not being ridden are tied off to the wagon and takes up a rear guard, allowing the victorious Julian to lead them home.
Julian Julian meanwhile asks Shael to break the news to Tanasha before they arrive at the empty town.
Julian And homeward they go, by way of Ossington, where they pick up Leah and discuss the situation with Gris.
Shael Shael is interrupted from asking Treesinger about the local wildlife’s conspicuous absence by Julian’s request. He purses his lips and nods, heading to mind Tanasha and try to break it to her as easily as possible.
DM Treesinger is quite convinced that without the filth polluting Ossington, the wildlife will return.
Julian Since Gris is amenable to staying to keep charge of the town on the group’s behalf, Julian asks him to do so.
DM Tanasha numbly accepts the account of the evil villagers…after all, she was sacrificed by them to a demongate.
Shael “But you can stick with me, with us, for now – it won’t always be safe, but we’ll be around to make it a little more so, eh?”
DM Tanasha is quite happy at the thought of a village not infested with demon-worshiping murderers.
Julian “Indeed not.” Julian overhears this from nearby where he is tending his new steed. “We have good, sturdy folk in our town and you’ll be well looked after.”
Julian “Lord Shael, Lord Kryss, any last business? The fey roads await.”
Kryss “Did we want to eat on the road then? Let me grab something off the wagon to eat on the ride.”
Kryss “Who put all these blades in the wagon?”
Shael Shael is just finishing up with discussing his plans for Ossington with Griswold and joins Julian when he calls them to depart.
Kryss Kryss holds out a handful of fine silver blades. “Are these yours, Shael?”
Shael “They’re ours.” He replies, “Gifts from the shadow fae.”
Kryss “Umm… they weren’t part of the gift though…”
Kryss “There’s like, a ton of them.”
Kryss Kryss quickly counts them out.
Kryss “25,” Kryss says.
Shael “Well, so long as they’re neatly stacked amongst the rest of the things so I can still get to my books then that’s fine.”
Kryss “All these daggers are silver. Also, there’s like 25 elven swords, 25 bows, and 500 silver tipped arrows.”
Kryss “Theres enough here to outfit an army.”
Julian Julian glances at Shael. “The shadow fae are generous, then.”
Julian “These will serve in our battles to come much better than the poor-quality arms we took off the dead.”
Kryss “I should think so. I mean, silver doesn’t keep an edge well but I can teach the men how to hone them properly and the swords feel a little light but balanced nicely.”
Shael Shael nods pensively and takes one last look over Ossington. After a moment he says, “We will need to find a Great Captain… a General…” he glances at Julian and wonders, “Know anyone from your time in the cavalry?”
Julian “Yes, his name’s Klysandral.” Julian mounts up.
Kryss Kryss pouts. “Excuse me? I’m am a mighty warrior. A master of tactics and strategy!”
Julian “Until we meet up with him, Lord Shael, we shall serve as captains ourselves.” Julian nods in agreement with Kryss… well… he nods, at least.
Shael “Yeah, but we’ll need you with us and not out leading armies through the mud.” He answers Kryss before telling Julian, “And neither he nor we should be leading the armies – we’ll have other business to attend.” He waves it off, obviously not a topic the others are interested in, but glances speculatively around the group and continues thinking about it.
Julian “Leading men is precisely the business of a knight, Lord Shael.”
Julian “I trust you will have enough time with your books on the journey, though.”
Julian “Miss Tanasha, do you know how to ride?”
DM She smiles, nodding. “My father taught me.”
Julian “Ride if you please, then, at least until we leave the sunlit world and take the shadow roads. Then it would be better to stick with the wagon.”
Shael With a long sigh Shael rebuts, “Leading armies isn’t the same as leading people. With the armament and allies we have, we could immediately field a full company of irregulars… and we head to war – you think that after that war we will not be able to raise a full battalion? With cavalry, scouts, infantry and irregulars to dispense at need? And with one of the largest military forces in the region, you think it will be much longer before… ugh, just never mind.”
Shael “Just better to find a Captain that can grow with you rather then putting them in charge of a force that they didn’t help create, is all I’m saying. Let’s go, we’ll figure it out later, I guess.”
DM The matter of the weaponry, legions and other logistics settled, the group rides north, back to Dragonfyre. A league into the trip, their path is blocked by a man in green armor, seated astride what appears to be a ram, although one tangled with vine and weed.
Kryss Kryss rides up alongside Julian to silently assess the stranger.
Shael Shael regards the man curiously as the wagon catches up to them.
Shael “Greetings.” he says neutrally.
Julian Julian rides a little forward, coming level with Bear Friend. “Good day, stranger knight. You have met with knights in the service of the noble Baron Euphemes of Brindinford: Julian is my name.”
Julian “And you?”
DM “Hail. I am the Maro, Niall Silvain. You travel the road from Ossington?”
Julian “We do, and lately from the court of King Rugad, from whom we hold the fiefdom of that place. Do you have business there?”
Shael “We do. I am the Lord of Ossington by decree of King Rugad.” He glances into the nearby foliage, “Have you and these fiends come to challenge me?”
Kryss Kryss takes this as a cue and rides to the rear of the wagon to assume a cover position.
DM “Nay, my business lies north of here, but I had hoped to pass through and see that rumors were overtaking reality. As for fiends, do you speak of the hobyah? We do not travel together.”
Shael Shael nods in acceptance of that, “Fair.” he decrees, “What rumors? I’ll answer as I can.”
DM “Slaughter of those signatories to the Seelie Accords.”
DM “Raising of the dead.”
DM “Disturbing of ancient heroes.”
DM “Desecration of sacred sites.”
DM “Cavorting with demons.”
Kryss “You’ve done all those things, you know,” Master Xi whispers into Kryss ear from within the hood of his cloak. “They’re gonna kill you.”
Shael Shael frowns and nods in reply, “I can only guess that the first is likely true, I do not know the details, but the rest… those were true, they are no longer.”
Julian Julian smiles wryly. “I wish we had been as well informed as you when we first rode into Ossington, Niall Silvain.”
DM “I wish I had been as quickly informed as you, that you would not have been the first to ride at all. This ought to have been my task, as befits my duty.”
Julian “We might have spent less time chasing shadows before cutting to the heart of things.”
Shael “What is your duty? Who is The Maro?” Shael wonders suddenly, tilting his head to the side curiously.
DM “I am the Maro,” the knight replies.
Julian “An ancient oath.” Julian explains to Shael.
DM “And my duty is to that oath. To preserve the earth and her bounty.”
Shael “You said your duty is to the North… Storgard perhaps?” The diviner doesn’t seem to think that’s likely the case.
Kryss Kryss visibly relaxes. “These guys are on our side then…” he says aloud, more to his hidden familiar but it comes out as a statement.
DM “Kindle, Shelter, Preserve, Become.” The knight’s gaze swivels to Shael sharply. “What of Storgard? How do you guess my destination?”
DM “The Lords Three are well and swiftly informed indeed.”
Shael “It was either Storgard or Sengir.” Shael replies easily, then sighs suddenly, “Or, something worse.” he shrugs his shoulders and sits back in his saddle, “We are raising an army to confront the Lord of Storgard, we came to Ossington to secure passage through the shadow roads for our host.”
Kryss “It is good to see a friend of nature here. We recently removed a blight over Ossington and perhaps you could endeavor to lure the wildlife back into the area and promote regrowth?” Kryss says suddenly.
Julian “We mean to ride to our seat, and from there to Brindinford to raise men. And from then on to Storgard by the fey roads.”
Julian “Is your intention also to oppose the wizard-king of that land, then?”
DM “By the Seelie, it is well met that we have crossed paths. Speak your host, that I might know now whether that fate is to join you on your path or speed you into the underworld’s embrace.”
DM He speaks this even as Julian asks him about the wizard king.
Shael “Hmm, if things are well, our host will be mostly assembled from Brindinford and Blasingdell shortly after we return… the Moxen should already be stemming the tide of undead rising on the planes of Drylake and Sir Klysandral is likely arrived at Storgard to make ready for our arrival.”
DM “Oppose indeed! Know, oh knights, that you speak with the Emerald Knight.”
DM “I answer the summons of the Ruby even now.”
Shael Shael blinks, “Oh, well then you aren’t all there.” he tilts his head to one side and leans forward in his saddle to examine the man more closely, “May I test myself against you, Emerald Knight? Not now, of course, but soon? I will fail… but, I would like to know my stature.”
DM “Should we prove successful in our quest, I shall indeed do my best to return the fauna to their rightful place in this forest, Sir Kryss.”
Julian “Sir Knight, I invite you then to ride with us.”
Julian “Sir Shael is my companion, and Sir Kryss, both of Brindinford also.”
DM “Test yourself, Sir Shael? I fear not, for I might overpower you and break faith. Perhaps we might arrange a test after our duty is discharged in the north.”
Kryss “I would ask, Sir Knight, if any among your party knows of cursed items and lore?”
DM “Sir Julian, I would be honored to ride with your company. I see that you three are no strangers to the wilds, but rather a friend to beasts wild and tame.”
DM “What curse ails you, Sir Kryss?”
Shael Shael glances aside at Julian and corrects, “I’m from An-Havva, originally.” he bows his head in acquiescence to the Emerald Knight, “Klysandral and Saithnar could not break my faith, and Rosal did much to increase it… but, I will trust your judgement, Sir Silvain.”
Julian Julian nods at this, and the parties merge. “We shall tell you of events in Ossington as we go, sir, as it is a long story…”
Kryss “Its this giant Cleaver I acquired. I don’t want to wield a weapon created for such evil, but the balance is phenomenal.”
DM “What evil was the Cleaver created for?” asks the Emerald Knight.
Kryss Kryss shows the mysterious weapon to the Emerald Knight. “Well the fellow I got it from used it for some pretty nasty stuff.”
Julian Julian shares the details with the Emerald Knight as they ride – the Butcher forms a part of the whole story of events.
Kryss “…and I don’t even remember what happened after all the fireballs!” Kryss adds at the end of the long story.
DM “It sounds like it was a weapon forged to kill. I fear, Sir Kryss, that you will not find many that are not.”
Shael Shael, having already been worried about the blade for some time, wonders: “Did you want me to take a closer look at it, Kryss?”
Kryss Kryss stares at the knight for a moment, like fellow warriors that have seen the light of life leave a man’s eyes. “That’s deep.” He replies succinctly.
Kryss “If you wouldn’t mind, Shael. Just to make me feel better.”
Kryss “How far are we from Dragonfyre?” Kryss asks, knowing the answer but wanting to change the subject.
Julian And so the group returns to small talk as Shael takes a look at the Cleaver and the road falls behind.
Shael Shael nods and mentions, “I think it is more fascinating that there were some that were not forged to kill… though, legends say they often still brought adversity to their wielders.” he reaches to accept the Cleaver from Kryss while retrieving the Lorestone from the pendant around his neck.
DM No creature great or small dares trouble not three, but four knights, with their warbeasts and wagon and ranger guides. Dragonfyre appears within three days, and they are soon home again.
DM Preparations for Storgard await them.
Kryss Kryss immediately seeks out Dara upon arrival.
Shael Shael prioritizes introducing Treesinger to Farstrider before seeking out word from his spies and summoning Ojo (who’s been at the Wrinkle and throughout Brindinford) to gain her report as well.
Shael He, of course, invites the Emerald Knight to join them at the Shrine.
Julian Julian wastes little time. Hopefully the group’s men-at-arms have been gathered from patrols and duties already by Alhandra, and he summons them and gives a few details of what lies ahead.
Julian A messenger is also dispatched immediately to Brindinford. The knights themselves will follow and meet with the Baron in due time, but Julian feels that it would be best not to start cold.
DM Dara is naturally, already waiting for Kryss, his search is short indeed. She flings her arms around his neck.
Kryss “I’ve brought you a gift,” Kryss holds her with a smile.
DM The elven druid and the hooded ranger take to each other quickly, like oil to water. The arguments and accusations begin before Shael even gets to show the Emerald Mox around.
DM The men-at-arms are indeed gathered, and Alhandra has ridden on ahead to Brindinford, as herald for the three. They are ready to march.
Kryss “Well… i mean two gifts actually… One of the gifts is more because you’re like the boss. Here I mean. Dragonfyre… not here like. Anyways the second one is…” Kryss fumbles at his pocket, flustered.
DM Dara laughs at Kryss’s awkwardness. “I’m sure it will be amazing, and still pale in comparison with the fact you are home.”
Kryss Dara’s kind words calm him and he grins at her sheepishly. “I practiced what I would say.”
DM “You’re not a practicing type. You do better when you just go for it.”
Kryss “I was going to boldly state that this armor was a gift for your office, and some stuff about wearing it proudly. And then I was going to quietly hand you this,” Kryss presses the elven ring into her palm. "and say… “This is for you, and a bunch of mushy stuff until you kissed me.”
DM “I’ve already kissed you, so I’ve got all night to listen to the mushy stuff.” Her eyes twinkle.
Kryss “Then lets discuss the business stuff first, so we aren’t distracted. Is there any pork by the way?”
DM She then catches a look at the modified armor. “More adamantine! Kryss, you shouldn’t have. This is worth more than the entire village.”
DM “And there’s some bacon sliced, but they’re roasting goat tonight, not a pig, if that’s ok with you? Your lordship?”
Kryss “Its less than you deserve, both as a woman and as our seneschal while we are away. And goat will do.”
Kryss “How goes life in the mighty empire of Dragonfyre?”
DM “Jacques has the men working doubletime, so that we’ll have a load of timber worthy of our lords when the next festival in Brindinford is held.”
DM “And more houses built, for the people that we want to attract.”
Kryss “Whew! Glad that’s over with! Lets go!” Kryss suddenly sweeps her up and carries her off into the house.
DM Meanwhile, Shael’s spies report that Snarla Faulkin and Burket Hucrele have gone missing from Drylake, likely to elope.
Julian Some time later, Julian pulls Dara aside for a word as well. “We brought a young woman back from Ossington,” he indicates Tanasha, over by the horses, “out of a bad situation. Would you please find a place for her and look after her until she has settled in?”
DM Nothing out of the ordinary has occurred in Alsoor, and in Onella, the spy is finding work as a page of Tal. He has yet to be made part of any orders, but has heard that there is talk of making one of the children of Michuth Gyl into a full fledged knight.
DM Dara is of course, not willing but insistent that she takes care of the poor lass until more suitable accommodations can be made.
DM The Butcher’s Cleaver is the signature weapon of a vile overlord of the Abyss. Part execution tool, part cuisine prep, it has been directly responsible for over two thousand deaths, ten thousand maimings and a thousand score mutilations.
DM Naturally, Baron Althon is sending a force to aid Brindinford, led by Stallas Mon, a fierce guardswoman.
DM Shael finds that the Cleaver is mildly cursed. The blade will always seek to do the most harm, but it is not impossible for Kryss to rid himself of it. If he is keeping it, it is because he wants to, not because the blade forces him to.
DM Ojo points out that mercenaries have come through Brindinford seeking employment. They were loud, and rude and often took up the hearth in complete ignorance of Ojo’s previous and obvious claim.
Shael After becoming content with events he can discern, Shael tracks down Leah. With only a little shame, he uses his magic to augment his intuition while introducing her around the Dyre to see if mutual attraction exists with her and any of eligible men to keep his promise to her.
DM She is not at all picky, and literally finds just about every single male not only attractive, but desirable as a mate.
Shael Shael, however, is significantly more discerning as her pro-temp guardian and evaluates each of them men against several criteria of desirability – especially which of them might make the young woman the most happy.
Shael While she may be urgent in her pursuit, he is not and willingly invites her to join them in Brindinford if he is not convinced that one of the men at the Dyre would be suitable.
Kryss The following morning Kryss pounds at Shael’s door. “Shael? We have to go. Julian is already done loading the wagons.”
Shael Kryss can hear a loud sigh as Shael closes a book and gathers the last of his things to join them.
Julian Indeed, outside the war wagon is manned with soldiers while Shael’s is loaded down with supplies. Julian’s steed stamps restlessly in the courtyard.
Kryss “Want part of this?” Kryss offers Shael a chunk of some beast. He smiles to cheer his friend up. “The road awaits!”
Kryss “Oh wait! Not that bite! Hang on.” he takes a big bite and hands Shael a smaller remaining piece. “You can have the rest.”
Shael Shael grins and shakes his head, “Leah brought me breakfast already.” he nods his head towards where she is finishing loading the last of the food supplies onto his wagon.
Julian And so the party sets off for Brindinford.
Kryss “I had breakfast 3 times this morning,” Kryss grins and winks. He nudges Shael roughly. “Know what I mean?”
Kryss Kryss actually means breakfast. This is not an innuendo.
Shael “Yes. You ate food three times, at least.” He tilts his head to the side, “Right?”
DM No one doubted it was not an innuendo.
Kryss And so the party sets off for Brindinford.
DM Literally everyone, loggers, rangers, randos…they all immediately assumed Kryss ate breakfast thrice.
DM If they knew Kryss at all, they also assumed he was completely unaware that his statement COULD be innuendo.
Kryss “I also had sex with Dara a few times this morning too Shael!” Kryss blurts aloud as they ride away.
DM And Brindinford awaits. A few miles of beaten paths rather than true road, and then a day’s trip up the road to the seat of their liege lord.
Julian The wagon trundles along, manned by men-at arms. Julian’s thoughts are elsewhere, but he remembers to keep watch for the bandits that trouble the countryside outside of town.
Julian Not that he would attack a cave-bear-drawn wagon if he were a bandit.
DM It seems the bandits agree with him. Suicide seems low on their priority list these days, now that there is no Speaker in Dreams to trouble them.
DM The sun is setting as their retinue arrives in Brindinford.
Kryss “We may have to subsidize banditry in order to maintain demand for our war wagons, Julian.”
Julian “Yes, Lord Kryss.” Julian answers on autopilot while thinking about the necessity to stamp out some of the larger bands.
Julian “…wait, no.”
Julian As they make their way through the city streets – Julian’s destination is the palace – Julian explains that if they can use wagon patrols to help tame the countryside, that might help clear the way for more settlers to move to Dragonfire, drawn by the prospect of more and easier trade between the small settlement and the larger towns.
Julian “So the wagons are more a tool towards an end than the end in themselves.”
Kryss Kryss pauses at an intersection. “Should we pay our respects at the Stoney Gaze before we go to the palace?”
Julian “Better not. There will be time later.”
Kryss Kryss defers to Julians knowledge of noble courtesies. Something picked up during his time in the cavalry, most likely.
Julian A few minutes later the cavalryman draws up their wagon outside the palace gates, and gives orders to their men to keep watch over things while the knights are within. He leads the way inside, pausing only briefly to exchange greetings with the guards.
Shael Shael has passed the reigns of his wagon over to Leah and is riding his still nameless elven steed near the front. He smiles with vague amusement at this.
Kryss “They’ve cleaned up a lot.” Kryss mentions.
DM The three lords are shown before the baron in short order. Alhandra is already there, and the baron receives them with a fine repast at their disposal while they converse. Lady Eriana is also present, though she remains quietly in the background, listening but rarely speaking.
Kryss Kryss also remains quiet, deferring to his friends during this sort of official meeting. Also very distracted by the food.
Kryss He strives to use his best manners, although he might say “thank you” too many times.
Julian Julian presents the Emerald Knight before they get down to business and food – in Kryss’s case, maybe the same – with their liege.
DM “We are honored to host a Mox in Brindinford,” responds the baron delightedly.
Julian Julian also gives a brief report of events in Ossington – the Baron will want to know of goings-on on his frontiers – but the paladin is mostly focused on what lies ahead and quickly moves to that subject. Their resources incude the contingent of Brindinford soldiers, the four knights and their men-at-arms, elven arms and access to the fey roads…
DM “What’s this, man? The fae roads?”
Kryss “You know, the Fae Roads. We found some hunting trails that cut down our travel time. That’s what the locals call it,” Kryss explains.
Kryss “There was this WHOLE big thing…” Kryss twirls a turkey leg and rolls his eyes as he speaks.
Shael “The Shadow Paths the Fae use to move great distances.” Shael corrects, “Klysandral tasked us with securing them to move our troops into position over Storgard. To add to that, I’ve been granted Ossington by the Elven King.”
DM “Brindinford will send a company under the command of Lieutenant Brox Stonehammer to match that of Alsoor’s. If you lords vouch for the safety of the fae roads, as you call them, the company will march upon them.”
Kryss “Excellent. How many did Alsoor commit guys?”
Shael “There is danger on the roads, and death to the undisciplined – we will fully brief them before setting out, but for now be sure none are armed with cold forged iron. We can re-equip them if necessary with more suitable arms.”
DM “Dwarven steel is forged hot, and should serve,” the baron offers.
Shael Shael smiles and nods, “It always does.” he agrees.
Julian Julian nods. “When will the men be mustered and ready to march?”
DM “Thanks to your advance notice, they are ready to leave at dawn, should you require them then.”
Julian “Good news, my lord. And well done, Squire.” This to Alhandra.
DM She nods in acknowledgement.
Shael Glancing at his companions, Shael wonders, “How soon can we be ready, then?”
Julian “Lord Shael, you said you heard of some mercenaries in the town, and if they are stout men they might also be welcome. We have arms for more men than we have, thanks also to the elven-king.”
Julian “There are mercenaries who are worth their pay and those who are not, though. Can you find out which these are?”
Shael Shael nods easily, “Yes, I will meet with them once we adjourn and discern their merit.”
Julian “If they do have merit, see if they can move out tomorrow as well. I myself intend to speak with Brother Cuthbert. The temple is sadly diminished, but there may be those there who wish to join the fight, and it would be good for the other fighting men’s spirits if some came.”
Shael Shael nods easily, “Of course. If we can muster a hundred men in all, we will travel with an impressive host.” he turns his attention to the Baron and Lady Eriana, “Is there aught else you would ask of us?”
Julian Julian glances at his two companions to see if they have anything else to add to this impromptu council of war, and if not, whether the Baron or the Emerald Knight (or indeed Lady Eriana) do.
DM Lady Eriana speaks up at last. “Only be cautious with the men of Brindinford. We do not send a small token of our strength with you, and it would be sad indeed were they to return in small numbers.”
DM The baron frowns at this, appearing to consider this concern rather womanly and not valorous.
Julian “We will need to be bold, I expect, Lady Eriana, but we shall not be reckless with our own lives or theirs.”
Shael “I will do all I can to keep every one of them safe from harm – though our call to arms is not spoken lightly, please do not think we would trade their lives for others.” he bows his head towards her, “I swear, their lives will be protected with all my might.”
Shael He then nods in agreement with Julian, “Well said.”
DM Well said indeed, and our heroes soon ride to war! Will they oust the vile Murklas, or will they fall before his Overbearing might? Find out next week!
Shael When they split apart, each to their own task, Shael begins by returning to the Reality Wrinkle to speak with Tchortloch. He sets the Dragon Chess board and as they play the young diviner probes for information about their upcoming campaign to see if the Deimavigga knows anything that can help them.
DM The devil is slightly put out. “When we arranged this, I had thought you’d be around more. What has kept you away so long?”
Shael “Ah, I expect after this campaign I will be…” Shael is sparse on the secrets of his allies, but explains most of what happened in Ossington including almost everything that transpired in the Cathedral. He weaves the tale in an attempt to entertain the devil by way of apology and makes much of the deaths of the demons they faced.
DM “The Triune?” the devil is much interested in this demonic faith, and through conversation, lets skip that they are not demons at all, but exiles of Hell. The devil is also no fan of Murklas and offers his hopes that they will be successful in their campaign. “Your fame seems far spread,” he remarks. “And it would be remiss if me to fail and mention…you cannot trust the Moxen. I foresee conflict between you.”
Shael Shael pursues information about the Triune, mentioning that he’s taken responsibility for the realm containing the Cathedral, and continues to probe about Murklas – his weaknesses and strengths, his strategies, etc.
Shael “You think so?” He wonders, “What are they… really? The Moxen I’ve met, Emerald and Ruby, are certainly more than they seem, and they seem… quite substantial.”
DM Tchortloch tells of a time when an Emerald and a Ruby Weapon walked the world, destroying any in their path. “The only humans in the Moxen are the Pearl and Jet Knights,” he states. “And as for what they are, is a source of power unbound to any creed save their own. Today that is the defense of the land. Tomorrow? It could well be their own ends, or even serving Murklas. And who even knows when the monsters will tire of the mortals in their midst and expel them? I’d tread carefully were I wearing the Pearl or Jet.”
Shael “Weapons of balance, it sounds like.” He nods gratefully, “It may be that one day we will stand opposing, until then…” he shrugs. After a moment he places an book on the table and flips it open to reveal blank pages, “I’ve a barter you may be interested in… but, I’m not sure what you’d have to offer in trade that would match the value.”
DM “Very possible in my current term of servitude, though I am willing to ascertain the value before admitting defeat.”
Shael Shael smiles vaguely, “You should have more freedom than servitude under our contract; have you not been able to arrange contact with your camp? Another service I could render…” he closes the book and places his hand on it before saying, “…this is a difficult item to appraise. For me, there is still some potential of value… my life could extend further than most mortals and its magic could renew itself within that time… but, for an immortal, it is perhaps beyond any reasonable price.”
Shael “I know of only one item you might have influence over that could perhaps match it – the sword your camp gained from their service in this city… but, to be honest, I think even its value falls short.” He purses his lips thoughtfully, “My thought was that I could barter for some good and holy relic to be returned to its owners with assurances that your camp would not threaten it so long as you kept possession of this tome.” he tilts his head to the side wondering about Tchortloch’s thoughts on the matter.
DM “A mystic manual for the blade taken from Baron Euphemes? Which value do you think falls short? The blade’s or the book’s?” Tchortloch muses. “What if you were given knowledge? There is a method that one can use to corrupt, purify or balance a particular item you mages always seem to seek out…?”
Shael A smile flits across Shael’s face before he replies, “Personal gain, especially lost knowledge, is certainly… tempting… But I think it’s best if I stand nothing to gain from our bargain here. Perhaps there is some soul you tempted to damnation that is otherwise pure? ‘Save them, take me instead!’ they probably begged you…?”Shall settles in to bargain in earnest – he is straightforward about what he wants in return – a ‘win’ for the good guys balanced against what he clearly sees as potentially infinite power if given infinite time to harvest it.
DM “You want a pure soul for a tome that increases agility every century? No, I couldn’t possibly authorize that. What about a slightly muddied one? Or seven? Seven dwarven souls that ended up on the wrong side of a deal gone bad. You’d have to get them some sort of redemption path, and they’d still be able to fall right back to Hell if they chose, but…” he trails off.
DM Shael realizes the devil is not lying here, a pure soul is too great a prize for his book. Heightened agility isn’t quite infinite power. The devil is also providing him with an almost impossible task here…redeem seven fallen dwarven souls…a steep quest for a true hero. He also realizes that any pure soul will have multiple opportunities at salvation, and truly fallen souls almost never are given a chance to atone. On the other hand, perhaps he ought to demand more than just the seven souls if that’s the case. If the devil did have some purification ritual, that might give him a starting point for their redemption.
Shael Shael nods in understanding. “I truly appreciate your insight on the matter, you know of course I am not as well versed.” He smile self-deprecatingly, “The purification ritual you mentioned, it would give me a place to start… let’s say that, the seven dwarves, and the opportunity for the same redemption for any one other soul of your choosing – no matter how impossible the task… if I fail to redeem any of them, the bargain is still met.” He bows his head respectfully, “Not only that, but I will be sincerely grateful for the opportunity, even if my ability proves insufficient.”
Shael “Ah, actually it occurs to me I might sweeten the deal for both of us… what if, so long as you maintained ownership of the tome I maintained opportunity and access to redeeming souls… But only one at a time, and of your choosing? This my skill may mean I’m allowed to redeem none of them, and I will maintain an interest in protecting your ownership of the tome?” He shrugs, “Just a thought, though.”
DM “Seven dwarves up front and a soul every seven years thereafter. If you don’t keep the pace, the deal concludes.”
Shael “Agreed.” Shael seems pleased with the deal, though the deimevigga is probably used to that. They finish the game, and at least one more, chatting idly while the wizard casually enjoys the companionship. Later, he tracks down the paladins of Serra to inform and invite them to the upcoming campaign.
Julian After the meeting with the Baron wraps up, Julian takes his leave and heads for the Temple.
Julian He asks to speak with Sun’s Champion Marith when he arrives.
DM Marith is quite busy, but finds time for the young lord. He is shown into her quarters and she asks that he come to the purpose of his visit swiftly. Perhaps the chore of running both arms of Tal’s church is proving to be a strain on her sunny disposition.
Julian “Then I will be swift indeed. I have two purposes. The first is to report a corrupt bishop. Lazarus, formerly of Ossington.”
Julian “I do not know whether he fell into darkness through his own will or was overpowered by some outside force, but it is a moot point now. He helped betray at least three knights of Tal to their deaths, and many of his former flock.”
Julian “Sir Gorash, Sir Braford, and the renowned Captain Lachdanan.”
Julian “Second…” Julian sighs. “We will not have much time to rest after Ossington. We are taking men north within a few days to join Sir Klysandral, against Murklas of Storgard. I know that we are stretched thin, here, so I do not demand any help from the temple, but I offer the opportunity to ride with us to any who are willing and who can be spared.”
Julian He sketches out the report that led them to undertake this.
DM “Father Lazarus was a traitor?” The Suns Champion is aghast at that, moreso perhaps than at the deaths of the three knights. Before he took up residence in Ossington, he had been an active member in Brindinford. He was good friends with Forgrim, mentored Marith and was involved with almost every major undertaking by the church up until a decade or so ago. “The knights of Tal here are too worn down even to ride with the mighty Lords who rescued this city from hellfire. Your ride will be our ride.” The temple has no paladins to spare, but she will advise any brothers who can go along and serve with their company of war.