Telios

Session 1: Shadows Over Venth
Vandals in the Night

SESSION 1
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It had been a harsh winter in Venth, cold city and cold stone. Now a chilly spring has taken up where the winter left off. Strange mist has been rising up in parts of the city. Noises are distorted, stones are slippery and sometimes frozen over.

On patrol, Araevyn and Jorrim spot two men attempting to abduct a woman near the temple of Jozan. Spotting them Areavyn cries out to the would be attackers. One pulls a knife to the throat of the woman and commands the other bandit to “warn the others”. The other man runs down the alley. Across the street on the rooftop Il Duce sees all this with calm focus.

Sahara awakes to unusual sounds being made within the temple. When she wakes up she hears a faint scream from outside the temple. Walking out into the hall, unarmored but equipped with her quarterstaff, she notices the adjacent room, belonging to her uncle, has its door ajar and a hoarse whisper from inside says, “get up old man.”

Callidus hears an intruder enter his room. In assassin form he jumps to the ceiling with rope in hand, ready for his attacker. As he the intruder enters the room, Callidus drops the rope around their neck and begins twisting the rope violently, digging a little deeper into the flesh with each jerk. The intruder manages a glancing blow on Callidus’s arm, but alas, that would prove to be his final action in this life. Silently hiding the body under the bed, Callidus steps out of his room to take in the full view of the situation at hand.

The temple of Jozan, where he is staying, has been desecrated. Tar is coated on the walls and on the statue of Jozan himself. He can see figures shuffling around, destroying cabinets, tapestries, and books. Across the way he sees the young cleric he met earlier, Sahara, attempting to free her uncle from the dagger of an intruder.

Sahara, still groggy from sleep, swipes at the bandit. She misses, but her prayer to Jozan is heard and she sees her uncle radiate a faint blue aura of protection; the blessing of law. She gets a quick look at the scene below, of her beloved temple being destroyed, and rage fills her. She rushes and drop kicks the intruder over the rail. Adrenaline pumping, she jumps over the banister and lands right next to the intruder, dropping her quarterstaff on his skull.

Meanwhile, Araevyn and Jorrim, with some help from Il Duce, have dispatched of the two bandits from the alley and have made their way inside the temple. A few minutes of combat elapse, and the vandals have all been disposed of, yet one casualty stands out.

Orus, Sahara’s uncle, had been murdered, his throat slit by a panicked bandit. She had been too late by a mere breath of a second, and now she lay kneeling, lamenting the loss of her uncle and mentor.

Callidus, unfazed by the rude awakening, continues to make preparations for a meeting he is to attend. A few minutes pass and the captain of the guard enters with a few men. Araevyn salutes and begins briefing the captain on what passed in the temple. Meanwhile the other guards begin to descend upon Il Duce, a known vigilante and criminal. After talking to Araevyn, the captain begins to question Il Duce.

Before he can make a deal with Il Duce to garner his help from his underworld contacts, Sahara, now fully dressed in battle garb, grabs Il Duce by the front of his shirt. “You have no choice in the matter. You will take me to your contacts so that I may exact justice upon my enemies. With your leave captain!”

With a small smirk and a nod of his head, the captain grants his leave, and Sahara drags Il Duce out of the temple, followed quickly by Araevyn and Jorrim. Callidus leaves a few minutes later for his mysterious rendevouz.
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First Interlude: A Meeting Commanded
Tensions rise as a groups descends into the underbelly of Venth...

Araevyn and Sahara set off into the chill night, led by Il Duce to meet with the infamous Red Jack, leader of the Royals, Venth’s extensive thieves guild. Emotions and tensions are running high as the night’s events have progressed. Much lies at stake for everyone to be involved in this clandestine meeting. You snake your way through tight alleys, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. Every few minutes you hear the telltale clank of armor and hobnailed boots clicking against damp cobblestones, revealing that the city’s troops are on high alert after this latest attack. Although you are on a mission from Captain Tanis of the Stormhawks himself, your success or failure hinges on the actions and reliability of a known and very much wanted outlaw. The utmost secrecy is required, and so all of you skulk in darkest shadows and deepest doorways like the worst of criminals. After many switchbacks and shortcuts later, you arrive frozen and breathless at a distinctly unremarkable door set in the faintly glimmering granite of one of Venth’s many sluice-ways. The three of you stand, breath clouding in billows around you, at the foot of the steps which could lead you to the information you so desperately seek.

What do you do?

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Session 2: A Plot Uncovered
Paths cross again as Callidus, Araevyn, Zaltiar and Sahara try to unravel the mysterious happenings in Venth.

At session’s start, Sahara, Araevyn and Jorrim accompany Il Duce into the abode of Red Jack, leader of Venth’s thieves’ guild, the Royals. Il Duce had been previously coerced by Tanis Idarell to aid the Stormhawks in uncovering the organization behind several Corennan terrorist attacks on the city of Venth. Red Jack was less than forthcoming, but did provide the group with two leads – a dilapidated house in the Flare Ward, and “be in the market square this morning.”

The four followed up the lead in the Flare Ward first, but the Corennan thief they had been sent to find had been murdered in the most grisly fashion possible – a scene too horrible to describe. After searching the hovel to no avail, they made for the marketplace.

Meanwhile, Callidus had rushed to the covert meeting his fellow agents had arranged. He arrived to find his team leader, Keldor, dead, and was nearly ambushed himself, alerted only by the timely intervention of his other team member, Donovan. Callidus and Donovan fought their way through the deadly ambush, but Donovan was slowed by a poisoned arrow and told Callidus to flee. Callidus escaped, but Donovan’s whereabouts are still unknown. Callidus then spent the early hours of the morning investigating the attack, discovering that the crossbow bolts used by his apparently Watch-trained attackers were not of Venthian make. He then set out to contact the Royals, discovering that a silk merchant named Rylus would be able to put him in touch with the thieves.

As morning arrived, the group made its way to the market square. On the way, they encountered a group of Venthians accosting a Corennan traveler in their grief and anger at the death of Orus. Sahara intervened and discovered that the traveler was a wizard named Lucan, in Venth searching for his master, Beren Windsong. The group decided to accompany Lucan to prevent further incidents.

The group arrived at the market square, where they were immediately set upon by a very large, very loud silk merchant named Rylus. Rylus, an acquaintance of Zaltiar, enveloped his friend in a thoroughly cushioned hug, and then proceeded to wheedle some of the group into joining him for refreshments in his stall. Meanwhile, Callidus was observing the interaction, waiting for his chance to catch the silk merchant alone. Rylus regaled the group with tales of goings-on in the city, including the very recent deployment of Marshal Anton LaRoche and Knight-Commander Durien Volaris to the no-man’s-land between Corennon and Venth, as well as the presence of strange mists that have been blanketing the city. Rylus also mentioned that only a few hours earlier, one of Venth’s Rift Gates had been broken through, by someone capable of leaving stone, iron and the bodies of the guards in tatters.

Rylus took the group on a walk to the Imperial Quarter, where they found a trial underway for Beren Windsong and another Corennan. Beren was charged with using his magic to help the terrorists by suppressing the city’s wards and causing the mists. The other Corennon had stolen the patrol reports for the previous night from Knight-General Danniver’s office. The crowd was getting riled with the desire to see the Corennans hang, and even the presiding clerics of Jozan, Sahara’s father Janus among them, were hard pressed to ignore their anger at the brutal attacks.

Callidus noticed that there were a few brown-cloaked figures moving throughout the crowd, agitating and feeding the crowd’s anger. These figures moved like the assassins from the previous night. Araevyn, with a little magical help from Suggestion, got one of the figures to exit the crowd, where the assassin was taken by Callidus for a private chat.

Callidus interrogated his prisoner to little effect. His questions were met with silence and insults, even after the assassin’s Achilles tendons were slashed. The assassin even had the gall to twist so a cut designed to kill slowly instead bled him out in seconds. Callidus did, however, discover the mark of the Watch under the man’s ear …

Seeing his master about to be convicted on circumstantial evidence that he thought he could refute, Lucan spoke up at the trial and convinced the judges to postpone Beren’s trial. The other Corennan on trial, panicked at the thought of the hangman’s noose, pointed out someone in the crowd, who immediately broke and ran. He was chased by Araevyn and Il Duce, and the recently returned Callidus moved to intercept.

After eluding Araevyn and Il Duce, the man was taken out by Callidus. Tanis appeared and searched the man’s body, afterwards ensuring he wouldn’t wake up any time soon. He then disappeared to track down a lead while the party returned to the trial. Araevyn kept an amulet with an unidentified symbol that the man bore. Janus challenged Callidus’s status as an agent of Incarion, and took him to the Librarium to meet with Magistrate Tythis, Incarion’s liaison to Venth.

Tythis confirmed Callidus’s status as a member of the Watch, and confided his worry, lack of information and inability to contact Incarion. He asked Callidus to continue to unravel the Corennan terrorist organization. Meanwhile, the rest of the party searched the Librarium for information pertaining to the amulet they found.

Tanis found the group in the Librarium, and told them to come with him, as he had discovered the location of the terrorist organization’s hideout. He brought them and a platoon of Stormhawks to an abandoned manor home in the Rift Ward, ignoring Callidus’s suggestion to case the location. The Stormhawks performed a SWAT-style entry, and found a pool with sigils carved into it, apparently the source of the manipulation of the city’s wards.

Araevyn located a secret passage leading down into a cellar, where Tanis and the party confronted what appeared to be the leader of the terrorist organization. Callidus rescued bits and pieces of some papers from being burned away, and the terrorists were all cut down, the final blow going to Jorrim.

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Second Interlude: A Disquieting Discovery
You salvage the evidence you've been searching for.

Callidus and Lucan finish putting out the fire and begin to page through the detritus they have recovered, as the last sounds of battle fade outside. As they begin to examine the half-burned papers, Tanis enters the room.

“Now do you see, assassin, why I moved as quickly as I did? If we had allowed word to reach these terrorists that their man was captured, all of this would have been destroyed at the first opportunity anyways, and we would have arrived to find an empty house and nothing more. We are lucky, however, that you have rescued some of their documents, as this will provide a much shorter route to the outlying elements of the organization than interrogation.”

He scans the pages, then his brow furrows and his face blanches for a moment. Wordlessly, he passes the document to everyone else that enters the office.

As you pore over the notes, Tanis speaks. “Do you know who wrote this? Do you understand what this means?”

What do you say?

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Session 3: Demons, Conspiracies and Close Escapes
You encounter a demon, then are forced to flee the city after attempting to arrest the Venthian general behind the plot.

The session began in the bowels of the terrorists’ manor, where the party and Tanis Idarell resolved to confront and arrest Kaylos Danniver, a Knight-General in Venth’s army, who appeared to have been aiding the Corennan terrorists.

However, before the party can leave, a strangeness descends on the manor and they hear screams from upstairs.

They move upstairs to confront what appears to be a being made of shadow rising from the rune-inscribed pool in the antechamber of the terrorists’ manor. It had already killed most of the nearby Stormhawks, and when Tanis charged it, it pinned him in place and began feeding on his life force.

After a harrowing battle, the party appeared to defeat the demon. Taking only a few minutes to rest, the party headed off to confront Knight-General Danniver.

The party entered the High Ward and made their way to the military building where General Danniver kept his office. Tanis and the party took great pleasure in arresting the Knight-General, and Il Duce nearly nicked one of his swords.

The party then exited the building to find almost a full battalion of soldiers arrayed against them, with most of the Stormhawks they had arrived with captured or forced to stand down. Magistrate Tythis revealed that the party, in combination with Danniver’s sloppiness in covering his tracks, had endangered his plans and must therefore die. He convinced Tanis to side with him by offering him the soon-to-be-deceased Knight-General’s place, and commenced to ordering the death of everybody else.

The party escaped the immediate trap, barely, and had to quickly navigate the High Ward while evading enemy pursuit, searching for an access point to the sluiceways that channel water out of the city. They succeeded, once again by the skin of their teeth, thanks to a timely stroke of luck for Araevyn, and have now washed up at the side of a canal outside the city of Venth.

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Prologue Complete!
Now the real struggle begins ...

Congratulations! You’ve made it through your introduction to Telios! The first several sessions have been fairly fast-paced and meaty in terms of content, as we’ve had to work to get everything set up. Events have swept you along, and you’ve been doing a lot of reacting since the attack on the temple.

Now, however, you’re out of immediate life-threatening peril, and you now have the ability to choose where you go and what you do. The game will take a different turn now, and in some ways it’s about to really kick off. From here on out, it’ll mainly be you guys that will be setting the pace, and Dan and I will do as much or as little as that requires. I will, however, mention that things seem to be spiraling out of control rather quickly in the nation of Venth, and that inaction will have devastating consequences.

So if you want to start a conversation about what happens now, here’s the place to do it. You know the situation, now it’s time for the big question:

“What do you do?”

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Session 4: Flight of the Terrorists
The party takes their first steps away from Venth...as wanted criminals!

After a sudden turn of events left the party no choice but to flee the city of Venth with bitterness and revenge in their hearts, they find themselves deposited unceremoniously on a canalbank in the tundra, still battered and bruised from their harrowing escape. Taking measure of their surroundings, the party quickly split up to search for shelter and provision from the rapidly approaching darkness. Unfortunately, none came prepared for such an eventuality and so the party was forced to spend a cold night in uncomfortable, shivering misery.

At the break of dawn, they arose to see shapes flitting on the horizon, it appeared Tythis had already sent pigeons forth carrying word of the escaped “terrorists”. Everyone decided it was in their best interests to make for the nearest settlement, Bluehall, take stock of the situation, then make for the border and meet up with the Venthian army led by Marshal Anton LaRoche and Durian Volaris, Araevyn’s father, hoping they would lend a friendly, or at least understanding ear to their plight.

And so the allies of convenience sallied forth, gathering their energy and stamina for the hectic journey ahead of them. A few hours after setting out, Callidus, who had been scouting ahead, saw metal glinting on the sun along the road ahead and listening closely, was able to make out the tramp of booted feet and the chatter of voices. Rushing back to the group, he informed them of the approaching guards and they all scattered, scrambling for the nearest available cover. Sahara tripped, and was laying on the tundra in plain view as the guards approached. Hearing sounds, they began to search the area, it would be only a matter of seconds until they spotted Sahara! Quickly Araevyn cast ghost sound in the opposite direction from Sahara to mimic the sounds of an angry bear rooting in the undergrowth. Catching on, Lucan used magehand to rattle some of the grass and brush near the sounds. Their quick thinking and quicker spellwork was enough to save Sahara, as the guards backed cautiously away and continued on towards Venth.

Continuing on, they reached the Silk Canal shortly after midday, breathless, muddied, and sweating. Deciding it would be best to journey along the canal until they found a barge to ferry them across, they turned north. This also would allow them to enter Bluehall from the north, perhaps deflecting suspicion from themselves slightly. Not long after, they came upon a barge crewed by several large rowers and an old, ornery-looking captain. Responding to their hail, he moved his barge to the bank and disembarked. The party attempted to barter with him for passage, but disliking their looks, and sensing their lack of experience in such matters, he charged them a ridiculous fee to cross the canal. Unable to avoid such a fleecing, and unwilling to lose any more time, they grudgingly agreed to his terms. However, Callidus took the opportunity to rifle through the contents of the barge, pilfering a new cloak and set of robes for the conspicuously-clad Lucan.

Finally, they approach Bluehall from the north as dusk is approaching. As they near the city, one of the field hands looks up, spots them on the road, and begins trying to flag them down. When it appears this isn’t working, he hurries from his post to catch up with the party. They make no effort to escape, nor to slow down, so he reaches them after several minutes, breathless from his haste. After a hurried and confusing conversation, he leads them to a currently unoccupied rest hut. Sensing potential danger, the party positions themselves so as to have a good view of what’s happening outside, while they open their ears to the conversation at hand. The worker warns them of the danger of entering Bluehall, even under cover of darkness. He says that the troops are looking for them and that wanted posters are already circulating amongst the townsfolk. He claims to be a faithful devotee of Il Duce, in complete support of his actions against the Venthian government and suspicious of any “propaganda” they might put out about him. He is however, concerned about the source of the wanted notice, and hands one to Il Duce for his inspection. After beginning to unroll the parchment, Zaltiar quickly lets it snap back into his hands, claiming that it was just a plain old wanted poster, nothing special here, and thus aroused the suspicions of the rest of the party. Apparently he was hiding something printed on that poster. Unable to confront him now, they decided to ask “fanboy” if he could procure them horses so as to expedite their journey to the border. He agreed, took their money, and told them he would return in several hours with the horses. Not trusting him in the least, Callidus headed out to follow “fanboy” and make sure he stayed true to his word. Araevyn and Sahara took up a vigil alongside the road, posing as beggars, while Zaltiar and Lucan hid in the fields. The time was almost up when a cadre of workers returning to the hut passed nearby Zaltiar’s hiding place and heard a rustle in the bushes. They began to snoop around before Lucan prestidigitized the distinct musk of skunk and Zaltiar made “skunk sounds”. About the same time, a guard in backwater regalia stopped Araevyn and Sahara on the road and asked if they could come with him, as he hadn’t seen them around before and needed to verify their identities. Upon entering the village, they ran into Callidus, several horses in tow, who claimed they were his feeble-minded and ill manservants and the guard had no right to detain them. Of course, the guard determined that Callidus needed to have his identity confirmed as well and so told him to come back to the barracks in fifteen minutes to retrieve his servants. Callidus hurried to the hut and, unable to find Zaltiar or Lucan, left the horses with the nearest field hand. Meanwhile, upon entering the barracks, Araevyn and Sahara sensed they were in deep trouble as they saw wanted posters festooned around the place with their names, descriptions, and crimes printed for all to see. As the guard brought them to his associate, Araevyn hurriedly rushed to the poster and began shouting, “I see them, I see them”. Now having the guards unwavering attention, he and Sahara led them back to the road where they had “seen” the terrorists, bickering over the specifics of it the while time. On the way they ran into Callidus reentering the village and he was swept up in their ruse. However, once they arrived, he began to arouse the second guard’s suspicions with his insistence that this was all a misunderstanding and they should be let go. Calling his bluff, the guard demanded that they reveal their faces completely that instant. Knowing he had only one chance, Araevyn began thrashing and flailing madly to cover up his casting of ghost sound. Suddenly a voice burst from the fields a short distance away, “Quick, run Il Duce!” coupled with the thud of running footsteps. The guard of course took of into the fields after the sounds, sending his companion back for reinforcements. Seizing the opportunity, they returned to the hut, only to find Zaltiar and Lucan returning from chasing down and incapacitating the field hand who had tried to make off with their horses.

The close call fresh in their minds, they galloped their horses off north into the darkness, towards the edge of the plateau, and, they hoped, their chance at freedom…

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Session 5: The Perils of Cross-Country Travel
The party survives a harrowing descent off the Venthian Plateau, and stumbles into a war as they head for the front lines.

The party made their way with haste across the Venthian plateau. Deciding the risk of trying to catch the army before it reached the Stair was too great, they decided to travel cross-country and meet up with the army as it set camp outside the Spires. The journey took several weeks, during which the party had a chance to greatly hone their survival skills.

Unfortunately, they would need to find a different way down the plateau, as the military outpost at the Alabaster Stair would undoubtedly be more diligent in their search of travelers than the guards of Bluehall. Unable to find any footpaths or animal tracks, the party was forced to search for a scalable descent from the plateau. After finding what appeared to be a promising location, they set their horses running back towards Venth with Corennon accoutrement, on the hope they would serve as a red herring to pursuers.

From very start, this climb seemed to be ill-fated, as Sahara determined that the most expedient way down would be to shield-surf. Fortunately quick thinking and the quicker hands of Callidus saved her from what surely would have been a grisly fate, although her Uncle’s shield was lost, skittering down the slope into the trees far below. After that, the party was able to safely negotiate their way down the first slope of scree to a small ledge before a steeper cliff they would need to climb. Once again they were up to the challenge, and handled the small cliff and steep descent following with a minimum of difficulty. The final stretch, however, proved to be much more dangerous than it had first appeared, as the cliff was slightly undercut, leaving a free fall of around 200 feet between the party and relative safety. At this point, only having 50 feet of rope, they debated attempting the climb back up and searching for a better location. Determining that the best path was to continue forward, Zaltiar offered to climb down the cliff a short ways with the rest of the party belaying his rope, just to scout ahead and see if the climb was doable in any sense of the word. Offering two of his daggers to strap to Zaltiar’s boots, Callidus and the others wished him luck and took up their grip on the rope. Only a short way over the edge however, their grip began to slip, and Zaltiar plummeted towards the rocks far below. Adrenaline pumping through his body, he kicked his feet into the rock face in front of him. With a flash of sparks and a sharp snap, one of the knives found purchase in a small crack in the rock, while the other broke off at the hilt. Nearly at the undercut, Zaltiar peered down and spotted several vine clusters not too far down that could perhaps serve as makeshift rope. Returning to the ledge, he helped secure the rope better, after which Callidus climbed down and gathered enough vines to make the climb to the base of the cliff. Lashing the rope together, Callidus made it safely to the bottom, Lucan slipped near the end and sustained several nasty injuries from the fall, Araevyn slid jauntily down the rope reaching the bottom with a fluorish. As Sahara attempted to begin the climb, she lost her footholds, and fell from the lip of the ledge. With a mighty lunge, Zaltiar managed to grab her by the wrist just before she fell to her death. Shaken by this, Sahara had a fall further down the rope similar to Lucan’s, also sustaining several grisly injuries. Last, Zaltiar climbed monkey-like down the rope, reaching the ground as Sahara finished tending to her and Lucan’s injuries. Reaching the river Ermiae, night was fast approaching and so the party made camp.

After several days heading upriver, they were nearing the army’s encampment when they spotted a large plume of smoke rising from the forest to the north. Continuing on, it was not long before there was a crashing in the undergrowth and several Venthian soldiers burst out, running in full flight scross a natural ford in the river. Hailing them, Araevyn attemoted to learn what was going on, but seeing who they were, the leader ordered his men to kill them, as a hail of Corennon arrows lanced from the trees and the sounds of pursuit grew ever nearer.

After a hectic and bloody combat, the party and the pursuing Corennon troops had a brief standoff over the river and the Venthian corpses, one of which now Callidus had identified as yet another Watch agent. In the hurried exchange, the Corennon spokesman mentioned the onset of war, as he and his men faded silently back into the forest.

Startled by this turn of events, the party pressed onward, bearing dire news for the Venthian commanders…

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Session 6: The Heart of Battle

After surviving a violent assault along the River Erimae and convincing a Corennon contingent filled with blood-lust to abandon pursuit, our noble warriors and unlikely heroes (not one-and-the-same) came upon the dreadful scene of full-out battle as they crested the last hill to the Venthian encampment. Sensing the urgency of the situation, and having discovered the hopelessness of the original plan to find Araevyn’s father before anymore bloodshed, Araevyn and Sahara dashed ahead with what was creatively titled “Plan B” (read: fuck it, we’ll do it live). Meanwhile the less noble and more cautious members of the traveling party held back for fear of Venthian reprisal, as they had become all too familiar with on their journey to the Alabaster Stair. Rent in two, the party nonetheless discovered through one means or another that the commanders of the Venthian force, and none other than Araevyn’s father, were stranded on the north face of the river all but over-run by Corennon forces flooding out of the forest.

Araevyn and Sahara dashed through the chaotic press of the camp towards the front line and were quickly lost to their compatriots waiting along the outskirts. Callidus slipped into a soldier’s tent to liberate some disguises for the otherwise conspicuous “terrorists” of Venth. Using the turmoil of battle as cover the three stragglers soon deduced the noble yet bull-headed actions of the other two and made their way to the front in an urgent yet less heedless fashion. The river crossing was a crush of bodies eager to enter the fray and salvage a sense of order. Sahara and Araevyn made their way onto a raft without too much effort, their burning desire to save Durian Volaris overcoming the crowd of nervous but adrenalized soldiers. As arrows rained down on their crossing Araevyn was knocked into the water by a spooked horse but still managed to come ashore under his own power, just a bit soggier. Callidus vaulted the crush of bodies and secured a spot on a raft further upstream as Lucan and Zaltiar struggled through the press but eventually found another raft.

As Sahara and Araevyn made landfall they were greeted with the sanguine horrors of battle and dashed straight into the fray, carving a bloody path towards the Venthian commanders’ position. Callidus leaped from his raft as it skidded into the soft river bank and dashed through the initial onslaught, his trained senses carrying him harm free from the heart of battle to the outskirts where he was able to slip into the forest unnoticed. With a final glance he saw the last two, Lucan and Zaltiar disembarking from their transport. Zaltiar dashed headlong for the cover of the forest and Lucan, lost in the fury of battle, was forced to follow suit or be crushed by front-line combat which was not his particular specialty. Unlike Callidus’s stealthy approach, Zaltiar decided to take his chances and cover the distance from the river to the forest as fast as possible. Unfortunately he learned the hard way that no matter how fast you are you can’t outrun arrows, and the Correnon archers hidden in the forest rained steel-tipped death upon the hasty adventurers caught in a battle they wanted no part of. Callidus looked on at the mad charge and with a dismissive shake of his head left them for dead. Yet somehow they survived the dash to cover with just a few more holes than their makers intended, and the two fugitives took cover to assess their situation.

Araevyn continued his headlong assault up the front lines with Sahara by his side knocking back blow by blow with her shield. The fighting was fierce and they took between them many wounds that might fell a lesser warrior, but their resolve was impervious and they battled on under Sahara’s divine encouragement. Callidus dispatched an enemy archer with minor inconvenience and took his cloak as a disguise to carry further on into the Corennon ranks and see what kind of discord he could rustle up. As he approached nearer to the Corennon main front he happened across the unit commander of the archers in that sector. Unnoticed, Callidus slipped his garrote wire around the unsuspecting man’s neck and they disappeared into the underbrush. After the rustling had quieted, Callidus slipped away with a new hat to top of his cloak. Lucan and Zaltiar, having assessed their situation in full, had come to the decision that they had no place in the front lines and decided to continue on through the forest as quietly as possible. Unfortunately forest terrain is not like that of the cities and despite their best efforts at stealth, somebody kicked a rock, or stepped on a squirrel, or something. After dispatching a startled Corennon response the two decided that their best choice was to start causing confusion. With a chill in the air Lucan set flame to the underbrush of the forest. Whether by design or just skillful miscalculation, the fire took to the woods with a ferocity. The two quickly found that their position of safety was now compromised by their own trap and were forced to make their way to the front as the eastern flank of the Corennon forces were thrown into disarray by the sudden blaze. As Araevyn and Sahara continued to battle from the south, Callidus strutted out in full regalia through the Corennon ranks. Donning his best accent, he shouted for reinforcements on the western flank. Split between a raging blaze to the east and the thought of a Venthian push to the west, the center of the Corennon line was suddenly much lighter.

With a final push Araevyn and Sahara drove into the Venthian defensive position and turned their arms outward. With the path ahead of him relatively clear Callidus threw his disguise aside (no sense in getting killed by the people you’re trying to save) and dashed for the Venthian line. Just as he reached it a hammering blow came from behind, dropping Callidus to the ground. Rolling over he found a towering soldier looming over him. Sweeping the man’s legs from out underneath Callidus vaulted off his attacker into the outstretched reach of the Venthian line and took cover behind their shields. Lucan and Zaltiar, seeing no other choice but to make another harrowing dash across an open warzone, rallied their will and charged towards the Venthian defenses. Zaltiar knocked heads left and right, his strength carrying him to safety with only a few more wounds than he had started with. Lucan was not so lucky. Close-quarters warefare not being his area of expertise, he was ruthlessly struck from behind as he ran and fell to the ground. Callidus snatched a shield and charged out of the line under a hail of arrows and an onslaught of blows. Hauling Lucan to his feet he turned heel only to be face by the pressing forces of the Corennons he had rushed past to get to him. Lucan would have none of it. Tired of battle and irritated with his poor luck, he cast an expert blast of cold and ice, frosting the ground ahead of the two trapped companions and stopping mens’ hearts cold. The two dashed past rigid-cold corpses to the Venthian line.

Through the fugitives’ efforts, the Venthian forces were able to push back against the disarrayed Corennon army. It was just in time too, as a unit of lodecasters stepped out of the forest, ripping flesh from bone and drawing blood from the skin of men around them. The terrified Venthians would have been cast into hopeless confusion had the liberated commanders not been there to rally them. Calling an organized retreat, the surviving contingent of the Knights Arcanum moved hastily back across the river. There was a brief sense of respite as the sounds of battle became more distant, but it quickly dissipated as the Knights Arcanum realized who their unlikely allies actually were. A deathly glare passed from Durian to his son and an uncertain silence befell the group.

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Session 7: Divergence
Faced with the reality of the situation, the party must make a difficult choice...

Turning from the rescued group of Knights Arcanum and Knights Crimson, the party shared a brief moment of victory. The smiles were wiped from their faces though as their eyes met those of Durian Volaris, his face burning with barely-controlled rage. He curtly motioned for them to follow, and as they fell into step behind him, Araevyn attempted to talk to his father, but was harshly rebuffed. Reaching the Commander’s tent, Durian ushered them inside where a heated argument began between him and the party. After hearing their side of the story, Durian withholds any action on his part before proof and verification of their story can be offered. Disturbde by what he overheard, Marshal Anton LaRoche enters the tent, barely sparing a thought for what is occurring around him. However, the glance he does spare for Durian and the party gives them the distinct impression that nothing escapes this man’s notice. Quickly granting the party’s requests and verifying Callidus’ identity, LaRoche sends them out to see to their own business as the rest of the army has not been informed of their wanted status. Giving them the orders to meet him at the southern edge of the camp in an hour, the party departs to the enraged bellowing of Durian Volaris.

After various tasks, errands and acquisitions were made, the party met LaRoche and a distinctly calmer-looking Durian at the edge of camp. Leading them to the spot where the party had fought the “Venthian” troops, LaRoche and Durian inspect the corpses and battlefield as the players realize this is not a natural ford, but actually a site of ancient ruins. Remembering the one soldier who escaped, they put their heads together to try and figure out if there perhaps were nearby ruins where he could hide out while waiting for a clear opportunity for escape. Unable to determine if he would have found any ruins, they decided to simply see if they could track this man from the battle. Finding and following his tracks was an easy task, and it wasn’t long before the party arrived at a recently abandoned camp. A cursory search revealed that there were at least 5 or 6 men in this camp, not the one they had been expecting, although a minute later they found that he was still there. His corpse had been tossed further into the trees after what appeared to be torture and a brutal yet business-like execution, and he couldn’t have been dead more than a few hours.

Realizing this was yet another dead end, the party sat down with LaRoche and Durian to determine their next step. After providing them with a map and some sage advice, LaRoche and Durian left the party to their decision, returning to camp to prepare for war with Corennon. After debating the merits of each direction they could go, they finally decided on making for Corennon along the trade roads, even though the road that awaited them would surely be paved in blood. Heading out, the party put on an air of confidence, although surely there were doubts lurking in their thoughts…

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