A World Asunder

Chapter 52- "C'mon. It's a little kid."

(players crossing must make DC 14 hide checks. Failure means the ruins get bombarded)

When you meet up in the ruins with the rest of your Coterie, the steel on steel din from the Alliance trenches has died down. A few stray spells and flaming arrows hit the village, which is now dimly lit by small stray fires, dimmer than torchlight, but enough to avoid tripping in the dark. The lighting reveals smaller writing in blood next to the ominous warning discovered by Veil a half hour ago. It now reads: “Your war was our end. Now we will be yours.” The phrase “Turn Back” is sloshed across the wall in blood as if it was squirted instead of painted on.

(players continue North through the ruins)

You’ve been walking for about 10 minutes in the shadows when you hear the hiss-pop of Kaptalis trebuchets and the thunder of Faskian cannons echoing across the plain. The cannonballs move too fast, but the firepots from the trebuchets arc toward the opposing trenches, not toward the ruins.

(players continue)
You emerge from around a shattered windmill and see a landscape of craters and rubble about 50 feet across. You see a small boy of about 8 years hunched in the fetal position in a crater 15 feet away. He is covering his ears and dry-sobbing. He’s frightened and appears emaciated.

(No magical aura present. Child speaks broken Termali, but with a low-kaptalis accent)

(players approach) The boy is disoriented, but you could try to calm him down (DC 15 diplomacy check)

(success) The child stands up, shaken but aware of his surroundings. He says nothing, but looks at you.

(Who are you?)
The child responds: “Emile, the grainkeeper’s son.”

(Where are your parents?)
“I don’t know where my Mom is. Dad was taken by the soldiers to join them.”

(Why are you here?)
“I have to find my baby sister. I won’t leave without her.”

(players help find sister)
It takes a few minutes, but you lift up a plank to see the body of an infant peppered with shrapnel, missing an arm and section of neck. Before you can react, Emile hobbles over and screams: “Alya! No.” He picks up the body and frantically tries to squeeze the skin of her neck back together. He looks up at you and asks: “Can you heal her?”

(players decline to help find sister)
Lilac says: “Seriously? Fine, then I’ll help the little squirt. Keep walking if you want.”

(players continue)
You turn the corner of what used to be a tavern and see a public font chipped and leaking in the middle of a plaza. The phrase “Husband, brother, teenage son.” is written multiple times on every wall in blood. Rubble surrounding the square provides concealment from the trenches on either side. You are close enough to the trench lines to see that the alliance armies seem to be deliberately keeping their distance from the ruins.

(listen check DC 15)
You can hear a woman sobbing on the opposite side of the square, probably inside one of the ruined buildings.

(Players spot Ghost)
You see the transparent figure of a woman in a laborer’s garb. She is holding an infant feeding bottle and repeating the phrase: “Husband, Brother, Teenage son. All alone.”

(DC 16 knowledge (religion) Check)
The figure in front of you is a Luctunite, the ghost of a soul driven mad by unimaginable trauma and grief. They are often found in war-zones and plague-ridden cities. They are not known for outright hostility, but they are known to make unreasonable demands of passersby.

(if players brought Emile)
Emile sees the figure and says: “That’s my Mom. Why is she see-through?”

(Ghost sees players)
The figure appears to look each of you in the eye simultaneously and says with a grief-stricken face: “You bear weapons like the soldiers. How many mothers’ sons and daughters do you plan to kill with them?”

(players answer)
The figure becomes agitated and says: “Leave your weapons where you stand and go back where you came from. Your war has done enough to this place. I won’t permit you to pass!”

combat, 1 Luctunite

(if evocation is used, bombardment begins in d4 rounds)

You hear artillery warning horns from the trenches on either side of you. A fraction of a second later, you see a barrel land in the square and explode.

(Once per round, a barrel charge lands on the field, dealing 3d6 damage in a 15 foot square (reflex dc 14 half))

*combat ends)
The Luctunite wails and fades out of sight. It will return, but for now it won’t trouble the mundane.

Lilac emerges from a ruined building with Emile on her back. She says: “We need to get moving before the Alliance decides to send a patrol our way or flatten this place for good.”

(players continue)
When you finally exit the village, you enter a wooded area to see groups of reinforcements heading from further north toward the Alliance trenches. You can smell wet soil ahead of you, but it’s too dark to see the river you know is there. Many of the trees around you bear the scorch marks of a fireball barrage and you can see a number of bodies on the ground. One of them, a teenage girl, no older than 15, in the uniform of a Faskian footsoldier, clutches a musket and a propaganda flyer. It reads: “Women of Fask, join the crusade to liberate your sisters from the vile Gnomes of Termalyn.”

Chapter 51: Try not to get blown up"

(players make contact with )

Harxen says: “We should go make contact with the Termali army. Regardless of how we get across, we need to know as much as possible. Since Robyn and I heard cannon fire, we can assume it’s a joint invasion by Fask and Kaptal. Whoever speaks to them should be an elf, less likely to be a suspect for a Faskian spy.”

The Forward camp is a mile behind the Termali trenches, out of range of Kaptalis Trebuchets and Faskian cannons. A soldier in a chainmail vest over a blue gambeson approaches you. He carries a spear and shield and has a belt of alchemy flasks. Standard Termali infantry gear. He raises his spear and shouts: “New Arrivals! Halt and Declare!”. Soldiers seated at the camp pick up their gear and stand.

(players declare intent)
The soldier lowers his spear and says: “You’ll have to speak with the commander. I’ll escort you.”

The soldier leads you through the camp. The air has a chill and you can see soldiers huddled around fires. They appear in good health, but you can see the terror in their eyes. Many of them have minor wounds and burns. A few have large amounts of blood on their uniforms, probably from fallen comrades. Very few look any older than 19.

Declan says under his breath: “Pelor’s beard. I forgot how much I hate war.”

The soldier approaches an open command tent and ushers you inside. Inside is a man in his mid-40’s wearing the blue officer’s uniform of Termalyn. He has a fresh bandage on his left forearm and several visible scars. He is leaning over a table stacked with maps and reports. The soldier who escorted you salutes and says: “Travellers, general. They say (player intent)”.

The general says: “Thank you, Corporal. That will be all.” The soldier walks out of the tent. The general looks up from his desk, looks you over, and says: “I see 10 people with weapons and obvious combat experience. Among you are witches I’m in no position to arrest and women I’m in no mood to disarm. None of you are from any mercenary company I’ve seen, save for the one with the spike chain. Several of you are elves, so you’re clearly not Faskian spies. So, you’re not reinforcements, mercenaries or spies. Why don’t you tell me why you’re in my camp?”

“I see,” he responds. “It’s obvious you’re no friends of Fask or Kaptal. Right now, the enemy is entrenched and building defenses. I’ve sent word for reinforcements from Mohks-Tathar, but they’re 3 days away. Conventional strategy suggests I wait for reinforcements and attack them en masse, but I don’t want to see what a fully formed joint line of Faskian-Kaptalis forces is capable of. I can’t pay you, but it’s obvious you want to get into Kaptal. We’re attacking tonight. With your help, we would stand a better chance. You have until sunset to give me your answer. Now, I’m sorry. I must get back to work.”

He gestures toward the door.

(players debate)

Lilac interrupts “Wait. There’s another option. We could go straight down the middle with the termali soldiers, but we don’t have to help them take the position. We could get ahead of the Termali forces and punch a hole in Kaptalis lines. Our objective is to get into Kaptal. There’s no reason we have to get involved in this war.”

(if players agree)
Declan says: “Wow. That’s dirty, underhanded and borderline betrayal. I love it.”

Rain begins to fall as you walk back to the tent. The General is inside, wrapping up his maps. He sees you and says: “Change of plans. This weather favors our attack. We’re mobilizing now. If we can break their lines, we might re-take Mokarnin. You can help or you can leave.”

Chapter 50- "Quick stop in Freeharbor"

For a solid five minutes, Bakario sounds like Brill on far too much whiskey. His words are jumbled and mixed with the occasional phrase of indecypherable orcish. He is clearly excited. When he finally regains his composure, he says: “I apologize. That was me trying to tell you what the tapestry said. Some of the words don’t translate well and I had to fill in gaps in the story with what I’ve learned elsewhere.”

“Here’s the full legend: In the wake of the initial outbreak of the scourge, humanity rallied together to end the threat. The five nations allied themselves with the Dragons and pushed back against the Arkali armies. And for a time, they were successful. After a series of provinces were re-claimed from the scourge, an ambitious plan was made to orchestrate a decisive victory for humanity. Each of the five nations sent their greatest general to meet in secret and fomulate this plan. The generals believed that the Tarrasque was the key, that if it could be slain, the scourge would end. The massed armies converged in strength at the outskirts of the capital city of Old Fask. The five generals each picked their best soldiers for a squad and those squads infiltrated the city while the forces outside fought for their lives. The infiltration sorties located the Tarrasque amid the ruins and engaged it. Pegasus riders above reported that the generals were unable to slay it. After slaying the generals, the Tarrasque charged the armies below. Humanity could not stand against the massed Arkali forces and the Tarrasque combined and they knew they would be wiped out without aid. Their Dragon allies told them to retreat while they held off the Arkali as long as they could. In a desperate last stand, the Elder Wyrms inflicted massive casualties on the Arkali horde while the great gold dragon Gaatrulan challenged the Tarrasque directly. The last soldiers to flee that battle saw the elder Wyrms and Gaatrulan alike fall dead. The dragons were never seen again during the war.”

Bakario pulls out a map and points to a spot in Weslyth. “Here’s where it gets interesting: A poem on the tapestry mentions the dragon Gaatrulan sending an agent to Weslyth with a some kind of stone. The most direct translation I can give you is this:”

“On eve of gambit doomed to fail, said gilded Wyrm to agent hale. Take my last to highest peak, down tunnels of the dead most deep. When into hell the armies ride, may they have my power at their side.”

Declan adds: "And the highest peak known is in Weslyth. It’s slim, but unless anyone here has been holding out on us, I think it’s the only lead we have. We should go back to Gildenport first to check on Reilly’s progress. If the Arkali have been sending agents against us, we have to assume they’ll hit us with bigger and bigger sticks until they get what they want. If they decide to throw an army at us, we’ll need to be able to throw one at them

By the time plans have been made, Veil rides back at full Gallup. She rides alongside the cart and says: “Robyn and Harxen have gone ahead to scout a safe route back to Gildenport. I’ve set up a meeting point 20 miles south of the Kaptalis border. If we keep moving as we are, we should be there at before they return.”

You reach the meeting point a couple hours after dawn the next day. You were able to catch enough light sleep along the road to avoid fatigue, but you have not been able to replenish your spells. It’s an abandoned farm that was destroyed during the Termali-Kaptalis war five years ago. Robyn and Harxen are already waiting for you. They emerge from the treeline as you approach and put away their weapons when they recognize you.

Robyn has a minor graze on their left arm. They walk up to the cart and say: "We never made it to Gildenport. Six hours ago, joint forces of the Kaptalis and Faskian armies began an assault on the Termali border. Harxen and I were attempting to cross when the fighting started. I was wounded in the first trebuchet barrage by some kind of Shrapnel. If there hadn’t been a tree between me and the blast, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

They turn to Harxen and say: “I need to go pull shrapnel out of my shoulder. Fill them in on the rest”

Harxen says: “When we turned around, Termali forces were following us in a retreat. I had freefeather check on their lines. They’re both spreading out across the border from the initial point of attack and dug in to defend from spellfire and artillery. I don’t see us crossing the Kaptalis border unnoticed unless we wait for a Termali counter attack to distract the Kaptalis forces. At that point, we’ll to either sneak past their lines while they are distracted.”

Robyn walks over holding a fresh bandage to her shoulder and says: "There’s another option: Word of our blazing escape hasn’t reached this far north. We could volunteer our services to Termalyn as mercenaries. We’d have to dodge trebuchet shells, but we wouldn’t run the risk of getting caught by Kaptalis forces alone and being overhwelmed. I’m willing to bet they won’t be in the mood to turn down an offer of help, genuine or otherwise.

(let players decide)

Chapter 49- "I didn't sign up for a cart chase."

Bakario has agreed to stick with you in the cart to study the book. Robyn, Veil and Harxen group up and move to scout an exit. Declan stays with you to assist with the heist. It is early afternoon by the time you reach the Bard’s College and everyone is just returning from lunch. You have your pick of spots to set up the show. Declan points to an ampitheatre adjacent to the main building of the Bard’s College and says: “I like that one. We’ll have an audience now and it’s close to the building for the heist later. If we want an audience later, we should probably give them a preview.”

(players perform)

The crowd applauds and gradually files out to go about their day. You make about two gold worth of tips. Declan tells you that two gold is unprecedented and you can count on having another audience tonight.

Lilac approaches and says: “I agree with Declan. You did great. I have an old friend in town, so I sent a messenger and scored us some acrobat outfits for the show. It’ll make the whole thing more convincing.”

Mohks-Tathar is built even more densely than Freeharbor, so the walk to see Lilac’s old friend is short. After a half-hour or so, you come to a coffee shop with a strong aroma and a sign that reads “Maxine’s”. Lilac looks at the sign and says “That’s knew. I guess Max has gotten bolder since last I was here.”

Inside is a bustling scene like any tavern, only with a marked lack of drunkenness and a surprising shortage of men. Lilac approaches the counter. A woman behind the counter sees Lilac and a look of surprise covers her face. She rushes around the counter, showing remarkable agility in the traditional Termali garb, and embraces Lilac. They exchange pleasantries and Lilac says “I have to say, Max. I’m surprised at how bold you’ve gotten.”

Max replies: “Y’know honey? I noticed a couple years ago that men in this city are so preoccupied with their cantrips and dusty books that they don’t even notice where their wives go to hang out. The kind of men that patronize a business owned by a woman aren’t usually the type to canary about who they saw here, so a haven it remains. It’s a good place to vent about your marriage or just get out of the corset for a few hours. Let’s just say I’ve had to expand the coat-racks. What brings you to Termalyn?” Lilac looks to you.

“Well, then” Max says, “Enjoy your stay in Mohks-Tathar. Oh, I almost forgot. I have those outfits you wanted. I used to make them for mages who practice in secret. They’re designed for agility for spellcasting and in case the wearer has to flee from the witch-hunters.”

As you walk to meet back up with Declan, Lilac explains: “Max is one of my best friends. She’s a vocal opponent of the Conclaves and an advocate for Womens’ right to practice magic. Governance in Termalyn is based on Magical ability. Technically, there is no law forbidding women from holding office, but since we can’t practice magic we never gain political power. And I owe her a lot, possibly my life. She helped me get out of the country when my Magic ability was discovered.”

Declan approaches with a great grin on his face and says: “You all ready? Let’s go commit grand-robbery.”

It is late by the time you finish setting up and getting into costume. A crowd is beginning to gather for the show. Declan puts a box on the ground and lets you peek inside. It’s loaded with fireworks. Veil, Robyn and Harxen approach on horseback. Veil tells you: “We’re going to leave for Kaptal. We’ll be a day’s ride ahead of you charting a clear path back to Freeharbor. We’ll mark safe passage with red ribbons on the right side of the path. Left side ribbons and blue ribbons will be used as decoys to confuse pursuers. Remember, once this goes down you won’t be in the clear until you cross the border into Kaptal. Got that?”

“Good luck. See you in Freeharbor.” The trio of scouts ride off into the lamplit streets.

By now the crowd in front is eager for a show.

(Lorraine enters the box)
The box is claustrophobic, but the discomfort is brief as you Teleport to the rooftop. From the top, you can see a courtyard below with guards pacing the field. So far, they haven’t looked up. The rooftop is about 50 feet in a square, each catwalk is 30 feet from door to door.

(Dez climbs the side of the building)
You make your way to the side of the building opposite the diversionary circus act. (casts spider climb). You feel an unnatural grip on your hands and feet that extends through your shoes. You make your way up the wall and onto the roof. You can see Lorraine waiting for you opposite the catwalk.

(Dez walks across the catwalk)
You duck low (DC 12 hide check), and step softly (DC 13 move silently) to avoid detection as you move across the roof of the catwalk toward the library.

You hear someone in the courtyard below shout “Hey! Someone’s on the roof! Get down from there!” You must move quickly to secure the tapestry. (begin round by round actions)

(not detected)
The guards show no sign of notice as you position yourself above your objective. The stone beneath your feet is Granite (DC 15 Caster Lv check to turn to gravel)

The stone softens to tightly packed gravel and will cave to a kick.

(kick gravel)
The roof gives way and falls to the floor below with an audible clatter (DC 19 listen check for guards). Underneath is a small room stacked with artifacts. Some of them date back before the Scourge, others are military artifacts from the settlement wars or items of entirely unknown origin or age.

(jump down)
You land in the small room and look for the tapestry.

(Guards hear noise)
You can year shouting outside the small room. You don’t see any plants inside the small room (a shelf can be tipped to block the door with a DC 12 strength check)

(guards don’t hear noise)
There are no noticeable signs that the guards have detected you You don’t see any plants inside the small room for entanglement. (a shelf can be tipped to block the door with a DC 12 strength check)

The Tapestry is rolled up on an eye-level shelf to your left between an old Faskian casualty report from the Arkali wars and a Weslythan sword hilt from the same period. You recognize old Orcish text symbols on the edges of the tapestry. The tapestry is heavy with thick cloth and dust, but you manage to hoist it into a large rucksack and sling it over your shoulder.

(cast airwalk)
You walk up through the hole in the roof. You can still hear the show going on down below, the applause is quite loud.

(Rapha teleports back to box)
You teleport back to the box and kick down the front panel. The crowd cheers as you step out. Looking at the holes and burn marks in the box, you get the distinct impression your comrades were either very confident in your spellcasting abilities or that they don’t like you very much.

(Dez returns to the cart)
You return to the cart and throw the tapestry in the back with the supplies used for the show. (ask who is driving the cart, who is seated passenger and who is in the back)

Just as you all load onboard and are about to leave, a man in the robes of the Authoritas Arcanum approaches from the driver’s side, flanked by two guards. He puts up his hand in a “stop” gesture and says: “We’ve had reports of a break-in at the Bard’s College. I’m afraid we will have to search your vehicle for stolen items before we allow you to depart.”

(Players comply)
The guard in the Authoritas robes boards your cart and finds the tapestry. He shouts an order to his guards, draws his sword and says: “You’re all under arrest by order of the Authroritas Arcanum. I am ordering you to Disarm and Comply.”

(Players ambush)
The guard boards your cart and begins searching your things. While he is distracted, you catch him off guard with (player’s attack).

(Players GTFO)
You order the horses and bolt down the street. Behind you, you can hear a guard shout “They’re fleeing, get to the chariots.” Soon after, two charriots turn a corner from behind you and begin pursuit.

(Combat, chariots will spawn indefinitely)

(2 rounds in)
You hear veil in the back of your head say: “I figured you’d run into trouble. There’s a bridge over a small creek less than a mile outside the city on the northern road. I’ve soaked it in pyromancer’s oil. All it needs is a spark.”

(controlling the cart takes a move action and a DC 12 ride check. Actions that require both hands cannot be taken by the driver. Standing up in the cart requires a balance check.)

(Termali chariots have AC 12 and 15hp. 0hp will make them slow.)
(Termali Horses have AC 15 and 20hp.)

(players ignite bridge)
The bridge behind you bursts into flame, illuminating the stunned faces of your pursuers and their spooked horses as you flee into the night.

Bakario is staring at the shrouded tapestry with a look an his face akin to someone who needs to piss.

(Bakario is shown the tapestry)
Bakario looks at the tapestry and his excitement grows more visible by the second. Peering over his shoulder, you can see an image of a great gold dragon fighting a beast which matches the scattered descriptions of the Tarrasque. He goes on like this for several minutes, then carefully rolls the tapestry back up and says: “Gods of all planes. I know what the arkali BattleWyrms are after.”

Chapter 48- "You're out of your damn heads."

The arrow impacts the ground among your mounts and explodes upward. Your mounts buckle under the force of the blast, but by looking up at the threat rather than examining the illusion, you were given sufficient time to react and leap from your horses (dc 12 tumble check or dc 16 reflex to stay standing)

Combat with Erinyes

The Erinyes, full of spell burns and stab wounds, falls to the ground. Inquisitor Gareth draws a pistol and says “Shield your eyes”. He aims, cocks and pulls the trigger in one fluid motion. You hear a loud crack and what’s left of the demon’s head is now strewn across the dirt road. Gareth swears under his breath in Heptusian as he wipes blood spatter from his face.

“Congratulations,” he says “You’re apparently high enough on the Ashen Order’s shit list to warrant summoning a demon. What a colossal waste of time. At least I got to see you fight. It seems the rumors are true.”

(if pressed)
“You fight like the Arkali. Perfect coordination without even a word. I thought it was just a tall tale from desperate survivors. How do you fight like that?”

(players tell)
“Lucky for you this operation isn’t officially sanctioned, or I’d be reporting you to the Triumvirate. Just keep that dark magic away from me. Do you have a plan for staying out of notice?”

(Players evade)
“Fine, don’t tell me. Let’s just get this done. Do you have a plan for staying out of notice?”

(players tell plan)
“You’re out of your damn heads. We don’t even have a cart. Or circus costumes for that matter. I’m glad you find potential annihilation so humorous. Seriously, what’s the plan?”

“Pelor’s beard. What have I stepped in this time? Alright. Fine. Let’s go get a cart. Lucky for us, this area is mostly abandoned farmland left behind in a hurry. Most people settled into the city and still haven’t come back for their belongings. There should be at least one broken barrel of pegs lying about. Let’s start checking farmhouses.

(Survival DC 17) You spot a set of tracks concealed by undergrowth. You brush the grass and scrub aside to reveal tracks matching a four wheeled cart. The tracks then fade into the grasslands, disturbed by growth and rains. It will take a skilled tracker to follow them.

(Track DC 18) The tracks lead to a patch of trees in a floodplain. Among them you see a dusty cart in working order. It is a wagon with a tent-frame, though the tent has long since been shredded by wind. In the back is a decomposing corpse in tattered farmer’s clothing. An Arkali war hatchet is lodged in the skull.

(Search DC 15) You kick in the door of an old barn to reveal a cart in poor repair. The rein shafts are broken and one of the wheels is loose. It could potentially be repaired (DC 16, dex+int).

You fix the cart to two of your horses and continue down the road to the city of Mohks-Tathar. It is dark by the time you’re underway and Gareth suggests taking shifts at the reins while others sleep in the cart.

You reach the Gates of Mohks-Tathar at dawn the next day. (Ask who is driving the cart). A guard in the armor of a Termali battlemage at the gate orders you to stop and says: “Who wishes to enter Mohks-Tathar and on what business?”

(Dc 17 bluff success)
“A circus? Hey boys! We got a circus coming into town! How about a preview, eh?”

(players perform)
“Well done! Well done, indeed. Welcome to Mohks-Tathar.

(Bluff fails)
“A circus… Right. Prove it, then.”

(players perform)
“Very well. We will still need to search your cart for illegal materials.”

(players gain entry)
The gate is winched open to reveal narrow streets flanked by Gothic architecture with eye-shaped windows. You see scattered groups of wizards shaping and adding onto the buildings. Gareth points to a tavern off to the side with a sign depicting a rat chewing on a gemstone, captioned “the Gnawed Jewel”.

He slips you a gold piece and says “I’ll set up a meeting with my scholar friend. Wait inside and get yourselves some breakfast.”

When you open the door, Declan takes a long sniff and says: “And now for the one thing I missed about this place. Order what you want, I’m buying.” He orders a plate of curried eggs and fried yams and sits down at a table.

Halfway through the meal, Gareth re-enters with an old gnomish man walking with a cane. The gnome sits down and leans his cane up against the table. He says: “My name is Bakario, I’m a scholar at the grand university in this fair city, specializing in old-world languages and artifacts. I’m told you need my aid with a tapestry that you’ve yet to acquire. It was my idea to seek it out. I haven’t seen it myself or been able to read the inscription, but I’ve been told of it’s description. It depicts a great Dragon doing battle with the Tarrasque itself. I’ve been trying to get a viewing of it for decades. It’s the only known image of the Tarrasque and it may confirm the legends claiming the dragons were wiped out during the Arkali wars in the early months of the Scourge. It’s a slim lead, but since we’re dealing with Dragons it may provide insight into the motives of the Arkali Wyrms.”

Declan nudges you and pantomimes flipping pages of a book and scratching his head.

(players show Bakario the book)
“Oh my. Boccab’s staff, how did you get this?”

(players answer)
“Astounding. To think there are people alive down there. You must let me study this tome. It will take me weeks to decipher it, but it is by far the greatest volume of knowledge we’ve ever had from before the wall went up. I swear on my honor as a scholar none will know of it.”

(players evade)
“I suppose it doesn’t matter. You must let me study this tome. It will take me weeks to decipher it, but it is by far the greatest volume of knowledge we’ve ever had from before the wall went up. I swear on my honor as a scholar none will know of it.”

Gareth interjects: “I’ll pretend I didn’t see that outlawed piece of fine literature. Now back to the tapestry. Declan, what can you tell us?”

Declan takes a last mouthfull of yams and says: “Well, (mouthful sound), the inner library is a fortress. Guarded by Bastion guards, Termali soldiers and undercover inquisitors. The outer halls are different. They’re locked at night, but not patrolled. During the day, they’re open to the public and quite crowded with performers and spectators. It’s a common place for travelling bards to sing for their supper. The Inner Library is a seperate building in the courtyard, accessed by catwalks on the second floor of the main keep. The catwalk entrances are guarded and the couryard is patrolled at all times. There is a skylight in the roof. I broke into it once just before I pissed off to Weslyth hoping to bring a few relevant texts with me, but since then it was replaced with glass tested to withstand a musket barrage. I could go on for hours, but I’ll be more helpful if you just ask me specifics.”

(players plan heist)

“Alright then,” Declan says “We’ve got some time to kill. I’m going for a walk.”

Lilac says: “I think I’ll look up an old friend for coffee. You folks should come with. I think you’d like her.”

(if players go with)
Mohks-Tathar is built even more densely than Freeharbor, so the walk to see Lilac’s old friend is short. After a half-hour or so, you come to a coffee shop with a strong aroma and a sign that reads “Maxine’s”. Lilac looks at the sign and says “That’s knew. I guess Max has gotten bolder since last I was here.”

Inside is a bustling scene like any tavern, only with a marked lack of drunkenness and a surprising shortage of men. Lilac approaches the counter. A woman behind the counter sees Lilac and a look of surprise covers her face. She rushes around the counter, showing remarkable agility in the traditional Termali garb, and embraces Lilac. They exchange pleasantries and Lilac says “I have to say, Max. I’m surprised at how bold you’ve gotten.”

Max replies: “Y’know honey? I noticed a couple years ago that men in this city are so preoccupied with their cantrips and dusty books that they don’t even notice where their wives go to hang out. The kind of men that patronize a business owned by a woman aren’t usually the type to canary about who they saw here, so a haven it remains. It’s a good place to vent about your marriage or just get out of the corset for a few hours. Let’s just say I’ve had to expand the coat-racks. What brings you to Termalyn?” Lilac looks to you.

“Well, then” Max says, “Enjoy your stay in Mohks-Tathar.”

As you walk to meet back up with Declan, Lilac explains: “Max is one of my best friends. She’s a vocal opponent of the Conclaves and an advocate for Womens’ right to practice magic. Governance in Termalyn is based on Magical ability. Technically, there is no law forbidding women from holding office, but since we can’t practice magic we never gain political power. And since the household tends to mirror the government. You get the idea. I owe her a lot. She helped me get out of the country when my Magic ability was discovered.”

Declan approaches with a great grin on his face and says: “You all ready? Let’s go commit grand-robbery.”

Chapter 47- "Welcome to the red unicorn"

Around nightfall, you reach a small hamlet known as Mokarnin. It is raining heavily. Lilac points ahead at the Red Unicorn and guides you past the bright torches that seem unaffected by rain or wind.

Once inside, you see Veil sitting at a table nursing a drink and talking to a gnomish man in a grey longcoat wearing a black scarf tied on like a hat. You see the strange man wearing a pin depicting a green glinting eye standing above a flat grey bar. Lilac notices it as well and ushers you back outside in a panic. “Shit.” She says “Did you guys see that pin? Veil is sitting with a Bastion Inquisitor. Let me go inside first. I’ll find out what’s going on.”

Before you can respond, the door opens and the inquisitor appears in the doorway with Veil standing behind him. The man says: “If you think I’m here to arrest you, I have better ways to spend my time. Normally I wouldn’t even consider working with people my superiors consider to be Terrorists, but Veil vouched for you. So you can either get inside and buy me a drink or you can piss off and I’ll continue this search by my lonesome.”

(give Veil a chance to respond)

(players agree)
“Good then. Welcome to the Red Unicorn. The jewel of this shithole of a town.”

You take seats at a table and a server brings a tray of mulled wine. Robyn says they’re going outside to split a cigarette with Harxen, but neither of them smoke so it’s clear they just plan to watch the door. The Inquisitor takes a swig of the mulled wine and begins introductions: “Alright. You know my title, so my name is Gareth Bakarin. Let me fill you in. I was tasked by the Monarch Inquisitor to track down the dragons after they fled the field of battle. While veil was tracking by wind disturbances and nesting patterns, I was tracking by reported sightings. We both came to the same conclusion. They’re searching for something. The low flights, the coordinated paths, the lingering in forested or mountainous areas. It all points to that conclusion. Veil and I still hadn’t met by this point, but we both began searching for clues as to what these Scourgewarped dragons were after. While Veil was looking into old legends, I was beating answers out of scourge worshippers. I found out that there is a pre-scourge tapestry made by the ancient Orcs. Supposedly it has information on the ancient dragons. The cultists had been after it for years. I was able to track down someone who could still read the dead language, but since the tapestry is pre-scourge it is kept under guard in Mohks-Tathar. I asked the Inquisition for access, but I was denied. They said it was too much of a risk to open that kind of knowledge in order to find dragons that don’t present a threat. My hands are tied. But that’s when I met Veil. I figured there was no way the ninth hell I was going to get that thing by myself, but if a wanted terrorist organization were to arrange for said tapestry to fall off the back of a cart… I take it you see where I’m going with this.”

“Good. Now here’s why I asked you to bring you Bard friend, Declan. Veil tells me Declan studied at the bard’s college where the tapestry is kept. What can you tell us, Declan?”

Declan puts down his mug and chuckles slightly. “Yeah. ‘Studied’ is a stretch. Since I was assigned female at birth, I wasn’t allowed access to the more sensitive knowledge. My father only allowed me to go so he’d have a daughter who could play the lyre at banquets. I had other plans. Music was a nice parlor trick, but every night I would sneak out of the dorms to find texts on the magical arts. My performances became somewhat more arcane. One of the loremasters caught me one night and instead of reporting me, he recruited me in to the Paragons. I’ve seen the tapestry, but my access is shot.Unfortunately, I lost contact with that loremaster. Probably Kartha’s fault. Bottom line: I know the layout and location, but I can’t get us inside.”

Robyn, who you didn’t notice coming in, says: “We’ll just ask nicely, then. I’m sure Christine has some very persuasive lockpicks.”

Gareth asks “So you’ll do it, then?”

“Excellent. We’ll rest here for the night. I’ve booked us rooms. The benefits of an inquisition stipend.”

Robyn gives you an urgent look and then calmly says to Gareth. “Great, we’ll see you in the morning. Right now, I still owe these guys a beer for a bet I lost on the way over.”

Once the inquisitor is upstairs, Robyn says: “Look, I’ll buy you a beer anyway, but we all know I didn’t lose a bet on the way over. I used to be a scout for the Bastion Army, so I’ve worked with my share of inquisitors. I believe him when he says he wants to find out where the War-dragons went. Thing is, I’ve never known an inquisitor who had only one motive. He has another reason for working with us. I don’t think we should expect bold-faced betrayal, but all the same I’d urge you to trust him as far as you have to and no further.”

Declan finishes his beer and says: "We should also talk about where we’re going. Termali society believes women are too impulsive and weak willed to be trusted to practice magic. And they don’t recognize any gender beyond male and female. Anyone not fitting into their idea of “manhood” is called a witch and either lives as an outlaw or in a very comfortable prison known as a conclave. We’ve no shortage spellcasters and last I checked Irythan is the only one who can cast legally for it. How do you want to handle that?"

(if asked)
“If we blend in with the locals, we can avoid detection by simply not casting spells in public. But that won’t stand up to magic detection attempts by the Authoritas Arcana. I can teach you an old trick to avoid detection entirely, but you won’t be able to cast your most powerful spells. As for blending in, I haven’t been to Termalyn in over a decade. Lilac is probably a better source for that information.

Lilac, fiddling with her dagger, says: “There’s also the matter of our status as people of ill repute. As it stands, Termali authorities aren’t going out of their way to find us, but if we stick out like a knife handle from a bad client, people will ask questions. So we’ll either need to blend in or be able to answer those questions. I’ll go with your decision on this. I grew up in Termalyn, so if you choose to blend in, I can help you do that.”

(players blend in)
Lilac says: "Okay, short version. Fashion is a huge part of Termali culture. The widespread use of magic means that people of all classes have access to it. You want to blend in, you have to look the part. Men’s fashion is usually dark colored linen with patches of chain or scale. Women’s fashion is, like many things for Termali women, restrictive. Part of the point of it is to interfere with spellcasting. As a side effect, or probably by intention, it also interferes with other movement’s considered “uncivilized”. It’s bullshit, but there you have it. I have a friend in Mohks-Tathar who can make us all something a little more flexible, but we still won’t be as nimble."

(players come up with a cover story)
Declan says: “Alright, if we’re not going to look the part, which I’m fine with, by the way, we’ll need a good cover story. Suggestions?”

(players figure out their shit)
You go upstairs and retire for the night. Harxen spends a few hours schooling Christine on the sniper’s craft and Robyn decides to take a brief walk. You eventually fall asleep.

When you wake, you can feel a sense of foreboding and the way your bedding is scattered suggests you had a rather chaotic dream, though you remember none of it. Declan is already up, applying some sort of salve to his jaw, chin and upper lip. He grins at you and says: “I love a good robbery. Let’s get moving. I want to make it to Mohks-Tathar by supper. Trail rations have nothing on a hot meal and one crime Termalyn is not guilty of is bad food.”

You saddle up on your horses and begin the trip south into Termalyn. The border is noted by a river and fenced off with reinforced wood, and Guarded by soldiers in chain-shirts carrying shields and spears, and dotted with men in Mage’s robes. Gareth shows a guard some official looking paperwork and the guard waves across the river. A bridge is lowered and you begin your Journey into Termalyn.

The terrain is largely dry grassland dotted with the occasional sapling tree. Declan tells you that it was once a lush forest, but it was set ablaze during the Termali-Kaptalis incident five years ago in order to prevent Kaptal from marching an army into Termalyn. Further in you begin to see the occasional ruined farmhouse. (knowledge military dc 16) You deduce that the masonry was pounded by Kaptalis seige weapons from the sea.

After an hour, you notice a young dwarven boy, 11 or 12. He is clutching his side with a blood-saturated scarf and gasping for air. (DC 17 disbelief)

(players examine the boy) As you attempt to help the boy, you hand passes through him with a shimmer. You hear a flapping of large wings above you. Looking up, you see a women with ashen grey skin and blood red hair. She has a large pair of jet black wings like that of a raven. She bellows: “Blood for the ash lord! Slay the Usurpers!” And looses a flaming arrow down on you.

Chapter 46- "Eye for an eye"

Time slows to a crawl as you look around for where the shot came from. (spot checks, -14 penalty)

You see a humanoid figure in the 3rd story window of a building around 140 feet away from your position. He is barely obscured by a telltale cloud of gunsmoke.

You can’t see the shooter, but you are able to determine that the shot came from one of the buildings to the north-east, there are two potential sites. Around 140 feet away.

While you search for the sniper, Tilani finishes her incantation. Her image begins to fade and she says: “If you survive, we will meet again.” Her image disappears in a flash of bright light and out of the flash steps a muscular humanoid figure. It has the head of a noble hound, short red fur covering it’s body and a greatsword slung over it’s back.

It draws the weapon and says to you: “I have been summoned from the heavens to vanquish those of the scourge. Stand and fight!”

Combat begins. Dagget and Hound Archon.
You can see Enfys escorting Cecily back to friendly lines, covering her with her bow.

Dagget’s nest is booby trapped with a shaped charge (spot dc 17, 3d6 ballistic dmg, ref dc 15 half)

(hound archon falls first)
The outsider succumbs to its wounds and falls unconscious. You can see it taking shallow breaths

(Dagget captured first)
You manage to bind Dagget securely. He is struggling, but he shows no sign of being able to escape.

Combat ends
Dagget and the outsider are both incaptacitated. By the time you meet back in the square, Enfys has returned and Jacc is waiting. Enfys is tending to the outsider’s wounds. She motions for you to come quickly. When you get close, she says: “He’s a hound Archon. They defend the heaven planes from demonic influence. He wants to speak to you before he dies. We can report back to Reilly later.”

The Archon speaks in a soft, raspy voice. He is clearly in pain. He says “I am afraid I owe you all an apology. I have been deceived. I was summoned here to smite agents of Necmasth in the mortal realm of Materrian. I detected the scourge inside you, felt the dark magic coursing through your blood and your soul. I do not know how it came to pass that you could remain such agents of good in spite of the evil inside you. There is much you should know, but I am not long for this world. The foul demon Necmasth no longer relies on the dead or dying to be turned.”

The Archon exhales deeply and then begins to shimmer away into the ether. There is no sign of Tilani. You can see your Weslythan comrades approaching with the representatives of the IEG and the Merchant Lords at swordpoint. Cecily is approaching from the other side with a tattered flag holding the barely recognizable insignia of the merchant’s guild. The last time you saw it, it was flying above the northern tower of the guild headquarters. She approaches the two captive diplomats, throws the flag at their feet and says: “Our forces have captured the merchant’s guild hall and are currently moving on the grand estates. We are prepared to accept your offer of withdrawal from Gildenport.”

The diplomats sigh deeply and follow Cecily back to the table. Harxen and Robyn approach with Dagget bound and at gunpoint. Dagget spits out blood and says: “So, what now? Interrogation? A sword through the neck?”

(players answer)
“Of course. Well, go on then. Take me to them. It’ll give us time to talk.”

While you walk to the Hexagon, Dagget appears cooperative. Reilly is waiting for you when you arrive. She tells you that the Nightblades are on their way over and then turns to Dagget. “Remember me?” she says.

Dagget nods and says: “So. I assume Lilia told you about our falling out. The grand tale of slow corruption? She was always dramatic. I imagine this may come as a surprise, but I harbor no ill will toward you or the Nightblades. In order to set up operations in Kaptal, we needed funds. Lilia by admission took contracts for hire. But we all know that picking and choosing contracts on morality will never net enough money to truly expand operations. So we took contracts of more questionable ethics. How do you think we got that hideout under the Lighthouse? A polite request? You, McTeague. Or is it warmaster now? You’re no stranger to doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. We heard about what you did with the Doppleganger we sent. I must say, removing kneecaps to worm out information is hardly becoming a woman of your station.”

Reilly crouches next to him and responds: “I know full well what I did to him was wrong. I thought it necessary at the time. I’ve figured out now that there are lines you don’t cross. Dagget of Fask, your greatest betrayal is not that of your comrades, but that of yourself and everything you stand for. You became the very sort of evil you swore to defend against. It’s Vile. I could dome you with my pistol right here, but I refuse to follow in your wake.”

“Well said”, another voice approaching from behind replies. It’s Jacc, flanked by two assassins. The two assassins grab Dagget by the arms and bring him to his feet. Jacc says: “We’ll bring him back tonight. Cecily sent us a message to pass on. The IEG has agreed to withdraw it’s forces and mercenaries from Gildenport. She’ll be speaking tomorrow at what is left of city hall. If you have time, it would mean a lot to her and others for you to be there.”

(players respond)
“Good. I’ll see you there and we’ll pass Dagget to you afterward. Your old friend Lilac called in a favor. You’ve got rooms waiting at the Red Sapphire, but she said to tell you that room service would be unavailable for the night due to celebrations. See you tomorrow.”

The Red Sapphire is less crowded than the last time you saw it. A small group of people are sitting around a coffee table with a keg of beer. You recognize Lilac, Cecily, Fetrian, Slingshot, and the Paragons who accompanied you to a fight. Slingshot sees you first and walks over quickly with a grin on his face. He ushers you inside and says: “Glad you made it. Lilac noticed that all the other companions were out with friends and family, so she set up a party for us. Come on in. I’ve finally broken open my latest brew.” He pours several mugs from a keg labelled “Sneaky Orc Stout” with an image of Brill’s face that is significantly less ugly than you remember. The rest of the celebrants walk over to you. Lilac raises a glass and says: “To absent friends. Without their sacrifice, we would not be free.” Her violet eyes shimmer as the glasses clink. The others echo “To absent friends.”

The rest of the party is a whole lot of “What will you do now?”.

Lilac tells everyone she plans to continue her current profession, but on her terms. She and some of the others plan to run the red sapphire themselves.

When slingshot is asked, he merely taps the keg and says: “Some old friends and I have a few more ideas to try out.”

Fetrian says he plans to work in diplomacy for a city that is effectively it’s on sovereign nation.

Cecily is the only one who can’t say. She tells you that she honestly didn’t expect to survive the uprising given the target on her back.

Eventually the keg runs dry and each of you either falls asleep or passes out from drink.

When you wake up, you can see Lilac strapping a Kukri in her Garter under a skirt. She notices you’ve woken up and says: “Good timing. We can walk to Orthalyn Square together.” Harxen and Enfys are standing at the door.

The streets are damp and puddle-ridden from an apparent rainstorm the previous night. You see a lot of abandoned barricades and rubble as you walk, as well as some smouldering buildings. Enfys remarks: “A broken city on the mend, reminds me of where we met.”

There is a large crowd by the time you reach Orthalyn Square. You can see Cecily standing atop one of the barricades facing the crowd. “Friends and Comrades,” She begins “When I was elected mayor, I took the office with the goal of doing myself out of a job. Now I have done that. But the credit does not belong to me. It belongs to every single person who took to the barricades. It belongs to those who stood behind treating the wounded or gathering supplies. We are free from those who hoarded the wealth of our city and we now enter a new day in a new city. Gildenport, a city defined by gold, is dead. Today we welcome a new age of working for our neighbors. Long live Freeharbour, a beacon of hope in a world crushed by tyrants.”

Cecily steps down and approaches you.. She hugs each of you while saying: “We all owe you our thanks. I didn’t mention you in the speech because it is now time for us to stand on our own. I hope you understand. Here. I’ll walk you to the docks.”

She continues while you walk: “Rumor is the Bastion Army has finally began routing the Arkali. This good news puts you at a disadvantage, though. Once the Arkali threat has been eliminated, Bastion’s focus will turn to you. When that time comes, you will have safe port and sanctuary in Freeharbour.”

As you approach the dock, you recognize Veil’s eagle perched on a lamp-post, a note lashed to it’s talon.

The note reads: “I was unable to track the Arakli dragons by conventional means, so I elected to investigate what caused them to leave. There have been sporadic sightings since they fled the battlefield, but never twice in the same place. They must be searching for something. My search led me to Termalyn. I won’t risk too much information to a single note, even in Orion’s care. I’ve booked a room on the Termali border at an inn called ‘The Red Pegasus’. Meet me there and bring Declan with you. I’ll be waiting there to explain everything in person.”

The note bears Veil’s signature.

(players elect to go to termalyn)
Cecily offers horses for you Journey and tells you that on horseback, you can make it by nightfall.

As you approach the gate with Declan, Lilac comes up along side you on a grey mare. She asks “Do you mind if I accompany you? I need to get away from Gildenport for a while and I’m familiar with Termalyn.”

Reilly asks to stay behind to train volunteers in Freeharbor. Cade takes the helm of the Dawn of Orthalyn, wearing a hat that he stole from the captain of an IEG frigate and vandalized to an image more suitable for piracy. Milo approaches you as you leave and says: “I’ve given Lilac information on all my contacts. She can help you out in Termalyn if you need to know anything. I’m heading back to Polaris to help Harxen train urban scouts” He hands Lilac a notebook and says: “That’s got the latest information on the state of Irythan. It seems like now that the Arkali are pissing off, people are starting to fight each-other again.”

You ride down the narrow road east toward Termalyn with your cohort. Lilac dives into Milo’s notebook and Declan plays “Laerta’s Last Stand” on his fiddle as you ride.

Chapter 45- "You are always welcome in freeharbor"

You and your comrades, prepare for the coming day. After you finish preparing, you spend uneasy minutes waiting and pacing before the tension sets in again and you feel the urge to prepare all over again just to keep busy. Reilly has been gone for some time now after leaving to make contact with the Nightblades. Robyn had thought about going with her, but eventually they decided their time was better spent going with Harxen and slingshot to check out the meeting site. Enfys spent a good half hour trying to convince Reilly to rest before giving in and sending the “Mithril Bitch”, as Reilly had since been nicknamed, with a half-dose of cure light wounds. Milo and Cade are still in the harbor. Cecily is still preparing spells.

After quite a long wait, Robyn comes back with Slinshot and Harxen. They have a none-too-pleased look on their face. Robyn drops pack and says: “Have I ever expressed my frustrations over the Kaptalis obsession with windows and balconies? Because they’re everywhere. The buildings surrounding the square are peppered with potential perches for a sniper. The only thing about that square that might work in our favor is the chance that it will give Dagget a Priapism and mess up his shot. Any questions?”

Cecily says: “I could put up a personal abjurant to deflect a single shot, though I wouldn’t bet my life on it’s success. Dagget’s a clever bastard and he’s likely developed a countermeasure since he first took a shot at me. If you can find another way to pinpoint his perch or foil a shot, I’m all ears because otherwise, one of us is getting shot.”

(players discuss options)

“Alright” Robyn says “We’ll need to get moving soon. Reilly is going to meet us on the way with whatever Nightblades are helping. Take some time to check your gear and count ammo. I’ll meet you outside.”

Enfys, Robyn, Slingshot, Cecily and Harxen have elected to join you in the negotiations. Cecily asks you for a word on the way out.
“Listen”, She says “I appreciate everything you’ve done but I want to be sure we’re clear on one thing. Whether you choose to support us or not, it is not your decision whether or not to accept the terms of an agreement. It’s not even mine, I’m only there to make a judgement call about whether the terms are likely to be broadly accepted. Of course, if things go the way I think they will the IEG will spring a trap and the negotiations will become irrelevent.”

You’ve walked for about a half mile when you see Reilly turning the corner with a group of five nightblades in tow. The nightblades have swapped out their traditional red and black longcoats for basic civilian clothes. You recognize one of them as a rioter from the previous night and another as Jacc. Jacc passes Reilly to speak to you and says: “Your Warmaster has told us about the situation. I don’t know whether you plan to kill or capture Dagget, but it may be beneficial to capture him. He knows everything about the Daggermen. Numbers, Identities, Clients, Supply cache locations. Everything. If you capture him and allow us to interrogate him, we will be able to pull back the agents who are currently devoted to gathering information on their outfit and we will have the resources to pursue a full alliance with the Paragons. Once we’ve got what we need, we’ll turn him over unharmed to you. We’ll defer to your judgement on what to do with him. In the meantime, we’ll devote our agents to slowing down any reinforcments that come your way if the negotiations go south.”

Jacc rushes down a sidestreet out of sight and you see the other Nightblades fanning out down the streets and alleyways.

It takes another hour to arrive at the meeting point. When you get there, you see an array of rioters lined up on a barricade brandishing bricks or weapons. They wave as you pass by and you get the impression that they’re ready to fight if needed. Cecily approaches them to explain the terms of the meeting and asks them to pull back five blocks. The rioters discuss it briefly and then move back. On the other side of the square, you can see the IEG doing the same.

In the middle of the square is a large tent with two tables underneath. One has chairs, the other has food. Tilani greets you as you approach. “Take your pick from the buffet. I’m sure you have the presence of mind to test it for poison.” Enfys gives you a thumbs-up and pours a cup of tea.

Once everyone is seated, Tilani begins: “Why don’t we start by understanding where we are now. Your band of rebels has taken over more than half the city. Eventually our reinforcements will arrive to quell this rebellion, but until then we remain locked in a stalemate. With Arkali forces still roaming Irythan, the Merchant Lords would rather have those reinforcements used in aiding the Bastion Army. In exhange for an end to hostilities, we will offer the lower class of Gildenport half again their original wages and addition of 3 wells inside the worker’s housing district.”

Cecily lets out an exaggerated laugh, regains her composure and says: “You can’t be serious. Maybe that would have passed before you tried to have me killed. The people out there on the barricades have sacrificed so much for a free city. They’ll settle for nothing less than a free city. We’re willing to work with you on an orderly withdrawal of IEG forces and subsequently a program for our former employers to work for a living like everyone else, though no one will be toiling as hard for as little as we once did. Pull back now and there will be no further casualties. That is our offer.”

Tilani whispers in the ear of the Merchant’s Guild represtantative, who shakes his head. She then turns to Cecily and says: “May I have a word with alone with the Paragon delegation?” Cecily appers hesitant, but tells you: “I’ll take a short walk. I trust you hold the best interests of Gildenport at highest priority.”

Cecily walks off toward the rebel barricades. Tilani turns to you and says: “Now we can speak freely. I commend you on your progress. Despite our emnity I admire your ingenuity. The midnight raid on our ships and the destruction of city hall were inspired. However, they have had a negative effect on your reputation. The Merchant Lords and the Governing Houses both consider you to be a terrorist organization, where the Paragons were once only considered a nuisance. You can’t really blame us for that after blowing up a government building. However, there is a way to repair that damage. Since the rebels are clearly not interested in making a deal, I will ask you for one. You’ve gained the trust of the rebels and you currently hold all the naval power in the harbor. Use that trust and that power to help us quell this rebellion. It would be the first step in repairing relations with Kaptal. You can be Terrorists or you can be Heroes. The choice is yours. I suggest we take a brief recess for you to consider what has been said.”

The session breaks up and Enfys comes toward you. She says: “We’re not considering that offer, are we? I know it would grant us immediate resources, but it would mean betraying those we swore to protect. Tilani is right, our reputation will be determined here. But not just that. If we support the IEG, people who fight to free themselves from oppression would never trust us again. That includes some of our current volunteers. I owe you my life. For that reason only I would support your move to back the IEG, but that would be the end of our relationship and our friendship. I implore you to become Liberators of the working people, not the traitorous tyrants that kept them under Kaptalis boot.”

players decide to back the rebels
The session continues a half-hour later. Cecily is seated next to you with an almost pleading look on her face as though she knows what you were offered. Tilani asks: “Have you considered our offer.”

“Unfortunate. Are there any reforms at all that would sway your decision?” Cecily takes a deep breath and says “No”.

Tilani sighs, finishes the last sip of her tea and says: “I’m very sorry it had to come to this.” She rolls up her sleeves and mutters a brief incantation. You are unsure what exactly happened until you realize you can see the back of her chair. Tilani has turned incorporeal. She leaps back from her chair and begins muttering a second incantation. While she is casting you notice that there is a distinctive tattoo on her right forearm. It is a skull with a dagger blade sticking out of it’s mouth.

Chapter 44- "Of course it's a trap"

You lie down on cots and eventually fall asleep from fatigue shortly after sunrise. You wake up to someone pounding on the door. It’s afternoon by that time. You recognize Harxen’s voice saying “Open the door. I’m escorting a messenger from the IEG.”

(players open the door)
You open the door and see Harxen with one hand on a woman’s shoulder and one on the pommel of his kukri. Harxen says: “I checked her for weapons. She’s unarmed, but she’s got a note and he said she wants to talk.”

The woman removes her hood revealing blonde hair and a pair of half-elven ears with very expensive looking earings. She takes off her cloak, showing an even more expensive blouse, vest and trousers and says “Do you mind?” Gesturing to a coat rack by the door.

(players consent)
“A good start. I suppose you’re not complete savages.”

(players do not agree)
The woman lets a furrow briefly cross her brow before regaining her composure and draping her cloak over a chair.

“My name is Tilani Meridat of house Sartolis, Third heir to the Sartolis estate of Aurentis and chief diplomat of the Merchant’s Guild branch of Gildenport. Am I correct that you are the leaders of this rebellion?”

Cecily responds: “We’re more like advisors. Our authority extends only as far as the trust of the people of this city.”

Tilani replies: “Well, from the looks of things, that’s a fair distance right now. I am authorized to negotiate the terms of a meeting with representatives of the council of merchant-lords and the Internal Enforcement Guild and to arrange a temporary ceasefire to ensure clear-headed negotiations. As for a location, I suggest meeting at one of my family’s estates near the northern end of the city. It is far from the fighting would provide a calm environment.”

(players respond positively)
Reilly walks over and says: “Well, I don’t agree to it. It’s deep inside IEG territory and I’m not yet inclined to trust the merchant lords. We do it in neutral territory or not at all.”

(players respond negatively)
Reilly walks over and says: “I agree completely. It’s deep inside IEG territory and I’m not yet inclined to trust the merchant lords. We do it in neutral territory or not at all.”

Tilani replies: “Of course. I know of a large public square on the edge of the factory district. So far, neither side has been able to cross it, so it remains no-man’s-land. I’ll suggest it and see what I can do about making it presentable. You are all combat trained, so my superiors will insist on having an additional six veterans as an honor guard. You may bring a retinue of 4, along with yourselves if you wish. Agreed?”

“Good. Now I’ll need your assurances that the ceasefire will be honored until negotiations have concluded. This includes affiliated rioters. Can you promise me that?”

Cecily nods to you as if to say “We’ll make it work.”

Tilani offers a handshake and says: “I will make the arrangements. I look forward to ending these unfortunate hostilities under acceptable terms. We’ll meet in the morning, at 9. I’ll have a breakfast prepared. No reason we can’t be civilized during the ceasefire.”

She puts on her cloak and walks out the door, with Slinshot escorting. As soon as the door closes, Cecily says: “I don’t like it. It could be a trap.”

Myran says: “Of course it’s a trap. I got caught in a similar one a few years back before I joined the Paragons. But they won’t spring it unless negotiations fall apart.”

Reilly joins in: “So if we’re assuming it’s a trap, which we should, we go back to the original plan. Lucky, what was that plan for dealing with a trap again?”

“Exactly. And we have an advantage. We know what the trap will be and what kind of ammunition it will be shooting at us from long range.”

Cecily interjects: “Unfortunately, we can’t leave the negotiating table without arousing suspicion. That means searching nearby buildings is off limits. Other than keeping an eye on the rooftops, I don’t know how we’ll see Dagget before he pulls the trigger. And he’s not known for missing.”

(The square is surrounded on all sides by 3 and five story buildings, as well as an array of religous steeples and clocktowers)

(if asked)
Enfys says: “I don’t know a lot about foiling a sniper, but I’ve seen what a pin-cannon can do. I had a patient back in Caer’Daugh. A soldier. He got hit while on patrol near the Faskian border. The pin ripped clean through his plate armor without even slowing down. Took out a chunk of his leg. I’d wager Irythan could take 3, maybe 4 hits. And his armor would be useless.”

Reilly says: “I’m not much use in a fight right now, but I can contact the nightblades and ask them to meet us on the way to the square. They may have input we should consider.”

Harxen says: “I’ve noticed slingshot is pretty sneaky. He and I can position ourselves nearby as spotters without raising attention. If either of us spots Dagget, I’ll have freefeather circle his position and screech.”

Robyn says: “It may be prudent to set a trap of our own. If they spring theirs, we can spring ours and if we win, we may strike a decisive blow. Let me take 10 good soldiers and position them for a surprise attack at your signal.”

(players make the plan)

“Alright,” Cecily says. “We’ve got our plan set. Once they show their hand, we show ours. We win, we lose or we compromise and whatever happens, tomorrow will decide the fate of Gildenport for generations to come. I want to thank all of you for what you’ve done for this city. Get yourselves set. Tomorrow, we finish what we started.”

Chapter 43- "I want to kill that bastard myself"

(to Lucky)
After 10 minutes at full gallop Irythan’s horse tires and slows to a trot, you finally reach the hexagon an hour later. Reilly has gotten worse since then. Her skin is hot to the touch and she’s slipping out of consciousness. Enfys, having heard the thundering hoofs, comes out to investigate. Seeing Reilly slung over the saddle, barely conscious, Enfys approaches at a fast walking pace. She instinctively looks for wounds as she approaches and by the time she’s at your side, she has a rag soaked in alcohol ready to go.

Enfys presses the rag on what’s left of Reilly’s arm as two assisting healers approach with an improvised gurney. Reilly screams from the sting of the alcohol, calling Enfys by insults she usually reserves for Weslythan politicians, as she is lowered onto the gurney by the healers. Enfys places her index and middle finger on Reilly’s neck, leads them inside and motions for you to follow.

Enfys asks you: “You saw this happen, right? The bone splinter patterns look ballistic in origin. Was it shrapnel from the explosion?”

(Lucky tells Enfys)
Enfys tells the healers “Heart rate at 110, heat an iron.” and then says to you: “A pincannon? Did you see the shooter?”

“I think I know who did this. Help me cauterize the wound while I catch you up. Rixie, (Enfys motions to an elf in ripped healer’s garb) go find Irythan. We need him here now.”

One of the healers approaches and hands Enfys a red-hot iron. Enfys says: “Okay, I’ll need you to hold her down. She’s unconscious now, but as soon as this iron touches her, she’ll wake up with a vengeance.”

(lucky holds)
Enfys presses the iron into Reilly’s arm and you being to smell cooking flesh. Reilly jerks momentarily, but stops struggling when she sees Enfys’ face. Enfys removes the Iron and washes the wound. Enfys says: “If I’m right, the sniper who did this is Dagget. The shot you described is nearly impossible to make, especially in the rain. We’ve dealt with his kind before. They’re called the daggermen, although he’s definitely one of the most dangerous, even among assassins.”

Enfys puts away her supplies and continues: “We’ll have to deal with him eventually, and his daggermen. As long as they’re free and armed, the people of Gildenport will never be safe. Irythan should be on his way back soon. I just hope he can handle the infection in Reilly’s blood.”

(to strike team)
You move at a rushed pace for a few blocks before a group of mounted volunteers approaches and dismounts from their horses. One of them says to you: “Courtesy of us stable-hands at estates of people we don’t like. Goldcrotch pricks don’t deserve horses they don’t feed themselves. We were told you need to get to your injured comrade, so mount up.”

(strike team mounts)
You spur the horses and gallop down the street. It takes a half-hour to reach the hexagon. Lucky and Enfys are sitting outside on a sofa that was “borrowed” from an expensive dwelling. Enfys takes a last lungful from a cigarette, tosses it aside and approaches you. She tells you: “Irythan, come inside. Reilly lost an arm and there’s an infection I can’t handle.”

(Irythan uses cure disease)
Reilly’s fever subsides and her face returns to it’s normal light brown shade. She begins to stir and says: “Ugh. I feel like the morning after a drunken boxing match. Can someone tell me what happened?” Before you can answer, Reilly reaches for her waterskin. With her missing right hand. She smashes her head into the pillow and says “Laerta’s left tit, someone tell me I’m hallucinating. I’m pretty sure my right arm is gone.”

(players give her the news)
Reilly appears for a second to take it well, she then bolts upright, stands on her feet and flips over the cot she was on, screaming with rage. She hyperventilates for a few seconds, then begins to collapse. Enfys catches her and says: “Have a seat, Reilly. You’re still weak from blood loss.” Enfys then guides Reilly into a chair. “Take it easy. And try not to destroy my infirmary until you’ve healed.”

Reilly says: “Fine, but I’m missing half my right arm, not half my good sense. I can see that ‘what do we do now’ look in your eyes. Don’t you dare leave me out of this. Set the war table up here if you have to.”

By the time you finish setting up, Cecily, Slingshot and Myran have arrived. Enfys practically tackles Myran in an embrace. Cecily approaches the table and stabs a knife into the map where the port district is with a dramatic “thump”. Cecily says: “Damn that felt good. Rebels effectively control the port district. We’ve taken nearly a hundred mercenaries captive and we’ve set up a naval blockade, cutting off access to and from the sea. They no longer have the option to level the city and the prospects of them re-taking it are grim at best.”

Myran chimes in: “They’ve lost most of their advantages. Rioters are creating too much chaos to handle while rebels who are better at fighting engage their soldiers and take advantage of that chaos and confusion. They’ve had to divert official resources to digging up the gold that’s been buried and to securing key buildings, so the only soldiers who are fighting the rebellion are mercenaries. Finally, we’ve secured not only the largest weapon stores in the city, but also seized their naval power. Normally, this is where the losing force would attempt to negotiate an armistice and cut their losses. Usually in Kaptal, they try to buy off the leaders. In the case of this rebellion, they’re more likely to offer reforms.”

“Well” says Enfys “Seeing as how I just spent the last 24 sleepless hours watching good people die and nearly die for a free Gildenport, I think the only question we need to answer is in which orifice we tell them to stick their reforms.”

Myran says: “I want this struggle to matter just as much as you do, Enfys. These terms may allow us a victory without further bloodshed, even if it is a smaller victory.”

Reilly says: “You’re both assuming the offer of reform is genuine. They know they can’t buy us off, so they’ll draw us into a trap and kill us. Problem is, we’re not so easy to kill. My vote: Go to the meeting, if there is a trap, poke holes in it until it stops moving, then deliver terms of your own. One request, though. If dagget’s there, bring him to me alive. I want to kill that bastard myself.”

Enfys says: “I’m with Reilly, but there’s no sense in staying awake. You all look as tired as I feel. Get some rest, healer’s orders. Once we have the offer, we’ll make a plan then.”


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