Belicht

session49
Playing Dead

Descending Air 25

The Doctor, Demi and Susinen are awakened by a conflagration reflecting in the clouds above Vendig. Looking down from the Doctor’s estate, they can see sickly green fire burning over the South Side, along with sparks of golden light, and streaks of electricity and red fire. Knowing that the other Exalts had gone to fight the Dragon Bloods at the Ragara estate, the trio stayed put and tries to sleep through the anxiety of what the day would bring.

The Doctor carefully wandered into town to examine the damage done by the night’s activities, and to begin tracking the bodies of her companions. The neighbouhood surrounding the Ragara Estate – the prosperous South Side of Vendig – was gutted by fire. The estate itself was destroyed, blackened stones and timbers were all that remained. Inspector Tantei of Chanos was present, turning over burnt boards and trying to glean meaning from the various scorch marks.
Dressed as a peasant fisherman, the Doctor remained on the sidelines while the bodies of her friends were gathered up. Mal and Hai-Long were recognizable as they werepulled out from crevices in the cobblestone courtyard, but the other bodies were much harder to distinguish from their charred and broken remains. The Doctor paid close attention as Tantei and his sorcerous assistant carefully identified all the exalts and placed them in heavily warded boxes, before transporting them away towards the Cathederal.

Over the following days the trio carefully listened around town, watching the preparation for a grand funeral. They also tries to discover what had happened to Ragara Syn, but she seemed to have disappeared along with her estate.
The funeral was a grand affair, with much chanting and burning of precious incense. An entire wing of the catheral had been walled off during the week, with the sorceror raising a stone barrier. The doors had been carved with occult symbols and sealed with many locks. Once the sarcophagi had been taken into the room, the Doctor heard much chanting of strange languages before the door was sealed shut.
After some short meetings with local officials the Wyld Hunt returned to the Blessed Isle, bringing many of the Ragara guardsmen back with them.

The trio had not been idle, and had the basement of the Doctor’s estate filled with preserved body-parts, knives, saws, and needles. All they needed was to bring the bodies back through town. Parking a cart in the now abandoned broken fort, they passed through the undercity tunnels to sneak into the Cathedral. Demi had borrowed Mal’s tools and set to work on the locked door. Having seen these locks before (and having bought one for her workshop many years earlier) he was able to break through very quickly, but what was inside terrified him.
The makeshift mausoleum had four sarcophagi centered within a summoning circle and ever-burning candles. With his enlightened essence he could immediately sense the watching presence, waiting to finish summoning some horrible guardian demon. Many of the occult etchings on the floor fairly glowed with power as well.
In the cramped space surrounding the engravings, Demi and the Doctor carefully trod, holding a rope between them which they edged towards the candles – freezing every time they neared the attention of the watcher. When they could go no closer, Susinen confidently stepped up and walked over the rope – disappearing from sight after only a few steps.
Her invisibility was so complete, the Watcher never noticed as she entered the circle of candles and opened the sarcophagi and removed the mostly dead bodies. Even Demi and the Doctor only noticed that the heist had been successful when Susinen whispered at them from the main Cathederal.
They quickly left, with Demi trying to lock the doors behind them, but managing to break the lockpick in her haste.

When the bodies arrived at the Doctor’s Estate, the work was only beginning for her. Mal and Hai-Long were easy to stitch up to perfect condition, but the burnt bodies required a lot more work. Under her skilled and essence infused hands, replacement skin and muscle flowed together with the charred remains as she spent hours rebuilding her friends’ bodies. Both Demi and Susinen stayed upstairs and tried to ignore the shadows and cold that emanated from below their feet.
As the rising sun slowly crept up on the estate, the Doctor looked at the blessing stone given to her by the Silver Heron. Once she touched this to the lips of her companions, their sould would be released to either reanimate or leave for Lethe. Even though her work at repair was miraculous in its completeness, there is only so much that is possible to repair the effects of demonic-fire.
Having done everything she was able to, she allowed her companions’ souls to return, and watched in awe as they slowly awoke, coughing and in pain, but very much alive.
Over the following days they all remained under the close care and supervision of the Doctor, and she carefully tended to their rehabilitation. But Vlad’s burns had been too deep and he was reduced to whispering and coughing his requests for food and drink.

As they recuperated, they discussed the activities of the Wyld Hunt and the people of Belicht. They realized more than ever that their very presence was a danger to the people they had cared for – Eisenshmide slaughtered by legionnaires and Jotunn, Siegsdorf burnt and shattered by lightning and exalted blows, and Vendig! The people of Vendig had been scourged by plague, and now many more left homeless or dead by fires of violence.
Most of all, they realized that they needed time to learn about themselves, and their powers away from the ever watchful eye of the Realm. So long as the Exalts remained in Belicht there was the danger that they would be spotted again, and yet another Wyld Hunt descend on them, bringing destruction to their families and friends.

They needed to stay hidden, somewhere the flares of their power would be overlooked. Talk turned to the wilderness of the north, or the legendary exotic crowds of Nexus in the far east…

Ascending Water 10

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session48
Defying Death

Descending Air 19

Mal, still furious after the events of yesterday, spends the day quietly walking around Vendig and leaving discrete messages for his disreputable friends. Their responses lead him slowly, but inexorably to the “Golden Pagoda” – The building that once housed the Blue Lady, but had been taken over by opportunistic Realm merchants looking to present a taste of home to their fellow travelers, for a hefty price of course. Mal feels unwelcome eyes searching the crowds in front of this inn, and slips away to give this news to his fellow Exalts.

They are all hiding in the Undercity below the central island of Vendig. Periodically they move about to avoid overly curious beggars, but they are all faced with a burning question – what to do next. They are faced with the fact that the Wyld Hunt – an organization that has built its reputation on successfully hunting and killing many Anathema – are aware of a number of them, and are religious zealots who will keep hunting them down until they are dead. Not only that, but they have powerful sorcery and numbers that the Exalts of Vendig can’t match.
Mal wants to take revenge and fight, and while Vlad wants to join, he isn’t sure that this will end well, or do anything but replace these known DragonBlood hunters with new, unknown ones. Pyotr and Hai-Long put forward the argument of running. They have ships and a problem up in the mountains that might take months to finish, but they begin to realize that this too would only be a delaying action.
Demi and the Doctor wonder out loud, could we somehow fake our deaths? The Doctor feels confident that he could heal missing limbs, and with the help of some well-timed explosions, could they not leave some body parts for the Hunters to find? This leads to a new round of arguments, and Mal is especially vocal in his worry about really paying the cost of an arm and a leg… But all eventually are swayed to the need to fake their deaths to throw off the Hunt, and the need to leave some convincing proof of their “deaths”.

Vlad and Hai-Long pay a secret visit to the Cathederal to ask for help from the Silver Heron. They humbly ask for help in removing the trouble of the Wyld Hunt from Belicht. Curious, the Silver Heron appears before them – a great black winged woman, dressed in silver plate and bearing a blood-drenched spear. After putting forward their proposed plan for faking their own deaths, they begin to worry at the Silver Heron’s apparent humorous reaction. She explains to them that in the millennia befor the rise of Belicht, she had been a God of the Dead, who flew over places of death and guided all souls she found to their restful end in Lethe. She still has great power over when and how souls move on, and can certainly help them in their request.
She offers to hold their souls at the point of death. Their bodies will die but their souls not leave, and should their bodies be restored to health they will return to life. But she warns them – she can only deny the call of Lethe for a limited time, and if they wait too long they risk an eternity as ghosts. Should they wish to take up her offer, they merely need to call her by her true name – Gamayun the Gatherer of Souls.
Hai-Long gives effusive thanks, and they leave to present this possibility to the others.

The Doctor is immediately enthusiastic about this plan, and while the others are terrified by the thought of “mostly” dying, all agree that this opens up some wonderful opportunities to take some revenge and fool the Wyld Hunt at the same time. They hatch a plan to convince the Wyld hunt to ambush them somewhere away from bystanders, and to fight the Dragon Bloods to their own dying breaths.
There is the additional worry of what the Hunt will do to those who are suspected of helping the Solars, and so they need to remove suspicion from their friends and family.
Hai-Long writes a letter to Ragara Syn, entreating her to help him by notifying the Wyld Hunt – to let them set up an ambush for the Solars. Mal takes this message and slips it quietly to some Ragara spies to hand to their mistress.
They call to Gamayun – the Silver Heron – who places her mark on those who will walk into the ambush . A glowing feather appears momentarily on their foreheads before fading away. She then hands a small stone to the Doctor.
“When you place this stone to their mouth, their souls will be unbound again, and they will return to life should the body be capable, or move on should it not. I hope that The Maiden of Endings will smile upon your attempt.”
Demi and the Doctor take this stone and leave to the Doctor’s estate outside town to prepare for the repairs that will be needed.

It is deep night when the Exalts come to the Houses of Ragara Syn. There are no guards or servants on the grounds, no lights have been lit and everything is quiet – except for some faint chanting coming from inside the house. They find Lady Syn completing an occult ritual – beckoning a demon.
“I feared for your lives. You have not heard all the stories of the Hunt that I have – they will kill you all. I have called the only one I think can even the odds for you – I cannot bind this demon, and it will only stay until dawn. But I cannot leave you do die without at least trying…” She gives Hai-Long a passionate kiss, before tearfully running into the night.
Slowly a spear materializes in the occult wards – a great verdigris and brass spear covered in burning runes. Vlad took a step back in fear and uttered only one word – “Gerveshin”.

At the sound of splintering wood they saw a pair of blood apes charge into the room. Mal, Pyotr and Hai-Long each turned for the spear, but Pyotr was the first to lay hands upon the spear.
“A wielder worthy of my efforts. Strike now with anger those who betrayed you!”.
Pyotr’s veins and eyes lit with green fire and the spear leapt at the blood apes, almost seeming to drag Pyotr along behind it. The sweeping spear flips the demon onto its back, before plunging deep and drinking its heart’s blood. Mal and Vlad take the second demon and slash it apart.
“Is this petty display all you can muster? We Lords of the North laugh at your useless displays, and we shall drink fron your empty skulls!” Hai-long glowed with power as he sauntered outside towards a pair of educated looking dragonbloods cowered before him. Three more stepped between them.
“We Immaculates will never allow you to spread your wicked lies – prepare to die.”
The Exalts felt confident in the opening of the battle, until the giant earth-immaculate reached down and caused the ground to open up beneath them – trapping their legs and opening them for attack by the others. Another slashed at Vlad and caused his very essense to ignite inside him, While Mal was slowly beaten down under the lightning fast strikes of the his Air-aspect foe.
Hai-Long rose in radiant glory and focussed his gaze on the sorceress who caused Vlad’s essence to slow and stagnate. “Bow down before your Lord traitorous wench. Kneel before my glory!”
The Sorceress shuddered, and faint nightmares caused he to close her eyes and kneel, begging for her soul to be spared.
Pyotr fell under the combined hammer-blows of the Earth-aspect giant and his blazing fast accomplice, while Hai-Long fell under the sudden rain of arrows from the bowman waiting in ambush on the roof. Mal found himself unable to act as his breath was taken from his lungs by his nemesis.

Vlad took up Gerveshin the green-fire spear and killed the Giant, before trying to break the demonic-spear over his knee.
It’s fiery form flowed into a great brass-skinned man, filled with rage.
“I thought to spare my blood-kin and watch your rage across creation. But for that affront you shall suffer my fires.”
Vlad picked up his sword and leapt forward, and while his sword plunged deep into Gerveshin ’s shoulder, the green blaze surrounded him and filled his throat with fire. His last whispered words “You will see me again…”

Descending Air 24

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session47
Dragon Scent

Descending Air 18

The exalts had barely had time to gather their thoughts when they heard a voice calling out in the evening air.
“Hey, Anathema! Crawl out from your hole and face your doom. Stop corrupting these good people and face judgement for your crimes.”
Mal went up the t of the castle walls and peeked down incredulously. This young Dragon-Blood was standing, brazen as the day, calling them out in front of their own people. He was telling lies and defaming their character! Well, mostly telling lies…
The exalts knew that this had to be a trap off some description, and resolved to do nothing for the moment – let him yell his (mostly) baseless accusations. But when the locals started to pek out of their windows and pay attention, and talk amongst themselves of the horrors of the Anathema, the exalts knew they had to act, somehow.

Vlad descended into the tunnels below the fort, and began to make his way towards the cathedral. He was hoping to find Ulrich and borrow a few of the Scarlet Cloaks to force this Dragon Blood away from the crowds. Mal felt a little more aggressive and snuck out and blended into the crowd, where he began to spread his own stories, of how the mighty anathema killed the invading Jotunn, fought the plage and the legions. This didn’t quite have the effect he was expecting, as the bloodthirsty stories of the vengeful anathema seemed to gain the most traction, and he people began to get scared of the exalts.
With so many of the locals voicing their fear of the anathema, the vocal Dragon-Blood began to change his tune, and saying that as no anathema had come forward to counter his tales, they must have fled, and left all their ill -gotten loot inside the fort. Many of the younger and more adventurous of the poor locals were coming forward to form a mob, eager to storm the fort and gain the promised riches.
Aujaq looked down on the growing crowd, chanting words of anathema-hate, and felt his heart sink. “Father-Vendig, if ever you could bring yourself to help, now would be the time. You know what we can do, and we have no desire to hurt your citizens, but this fool Dragon-Blood is forcing our hand. Please help us avoid bloodshed”
He felt a silence decend for a moment, and heard the rustle of wings before seeing a handful of the Night Watch wander into the square and begin to break up the crowd. They went forward to the Dragon n-Blood and began to question him on why he was rabble rousing and causing a disturbance on this fine night…

Mal was slowly making his way towards the Dragon-Blood, hiding amongst the slowly dispursing crowd when he overheard a voice “the anathema is in the centre of the square”. He looked around and tried to back away to the corner of the square while remaining inconspicuous. He was about to think himself safe when he felt a slight tug and the clink of coins – turning he saw a cloaked figure running for an alley with Mal’s coin purse in his hand!
Furious, Mal gave chase. They scrambled up the walls of the alleyway and across the tiled rooftops of the Vendig poor quarter. They leapt across alleyways and tumbled between chimneys. But in spite of his experience, Mal found himself falling behind, as if this thief had planned his course beforehand. Beginning to get worried, he tried to cut the chase short by throwing a tile at the fleeing thief, but just as the Thief tumbled he grabbed the tile and threw it back at Mal, smashing it against his shoulder.
Mal raced around the corner to finally cath this thief, but as he rounded the corner he felt a fist smash the breath out of him, followed by a quick succession of jabs which left him barely able to move, let alone breath. In a moment of panic he let himself fall back off the rooftop and tumble down to the streets. In the moments before the Thief leapt down to follow him, Mal rolled into a corner under a bench and let his anima enfold and hide him against the cobblestones.
The thief landed only a few feet away and surveyed the alleyway. The figure was fairly emanating confusion at Mal’s disappearance before clapping their hands together to release a resounding boom which shattered windows and sent dust flying. Mal only barely managed to stay still and keep himself invisible. As the thief desperately scanned the dark corners, Mal managed to catch a glimpse beneath the cloak – a lightly armoured figure, but wearing a harness of razor sharp barbs, and an angry, determined look on a feminine face as the Thief turned away and ran down the street.

The exalts gathered back at their fort and shared the events of the evening. Vlad had returned with a few Scarlet Cloaks, who even now on patrol in the streets around the poor quarter. They considered sending Mal out to try to steal back the Yasal Crystal where Koda was captured. But they still had no real idea of where it was! They had begun to argue over possibilities when they heard the warding on the castle walls shatter. They immediately know that a sorceror had come and they scrambled to begin their own defence.
Vlad ran straight to the Warstrider that was sitting, powered down, inside the fort’s bailey. As he struggled to start up the ancient artifact, Aujaq and Mal net to the walls and saw over the other side two Dragon-Bloods across the bridge: the mouthy fire-aspect, and a severe looking woman covered in occult charms – among them a yellow crystal where Aujaq could see the face of Koda staring out.

The sorceror was adjusting her position and drawing in essence to release a destructive spell. Aujaq drew back his god-spear in anger and cast it out, interrupting the spell. The essence was released and the power grounded into the bridge and cobblestones, causing them to shatter and bringing the bridge into the river. The two dragon-bloods looked dazed and nervous, and the woman grabbed one of the charms on her belt and released a spell who hovered the pair in a dome of power. They could see the fire-aspect yelling at the sorceror, but were unable to hear him.
Vlad Finally was able to stand in the Warstrider, and after hearing what’s was happening outside, he lifted a large piece of fallen masonry, and hurled it over the wall and onto the shield.
The rock cracked as it rebounded from the shield, and tumbled into the waters of the river. The sorcer opened one eye briefly to stare at the fort, before continuing her chanting holding up the sorcerors shield.
Mal was worried, he still hadn’t seen the woman thief and scanned the square and the surrounding buildings for any sight of her. He turned at the sound of footsteps on the craked wall- and screamed a warning to the others.
Vlad heard the panicked yell and swung around, catching only a quick flicker of movement on the wall before swinging down the great sword of the Warstrider. The crashing sword forced the air-aspect to jump back, but Mal was also forced to quickly jump away as the massive sword sent the already damaged stone bricks into flying pieces and bringing down half the remaining wall.

The air-aspect took in the view of the pair of Warstriders in the bailey, one upright and recovering its massive sword for another swing. She decided that this fight was beyond her and so leapt back across the canal and onto the rooftops of Vendig. Meanwhile Aujaq had ignored the trouble on the wall and had been staring at the shimmering sorcerous shield. Watching the pulsing lines of essence he noted the strong and weak spots as they passed across the surface, and then at the moment of weakest defence he launched his god-spear which struck like a bolt of lightening – breaking through and blasting the Sorceror off her feet – causing the collapse of the second spell, leaving a rising circle of smoke rising from the ground.
Aujaq held our his hand and the spear flew back, ready for his next throw – and immediately cast the spear down.
The sorceror, seeing her approaching death, began to break apart in a rippling wave of feathers. But the spear wasn’t aimed at the sorceror, but it struck true on theYasal Crystal, shattering it and releasing Koda. The sorceror broke apart into a flock of birds which flew across the rooftops.
Koda, furious, turned to the fire-aspect. He looked shocked and panicked, scared by the angry spirit and seeing Aujaq readying his spear for another throw. The fire aspect stepped back and dissapeared into thin air.
Aujaq and Koda were reunited, and all cheered at their recent win over the forces of the realm. But they realized that this had only been a small force sent to gauge their strength. The full force of this Wyld Hunt was yet to fall…

Descending Air 18

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session46
The Hunt is on.

Descending Air 10

The Winter season is in full swing, and the last ships until the turning of the season are nearly fully packed on the docks of Siegsdorf. Aujaq, keeping watch over the unnaturally calm seas, spies a looming storm on the horizon though. His exalted vision makes out a small ship being driven at enormous speed before the fury of the storm: A Dragon-prowed vessel. Amongst its crew he makes out a sorceror controlling the storm, and he knows – the Dragon Blooded are coming!

Vlad and Aujaq notice a small spirit talking to Sayuri on the docks – at which point she comes and ernestly encourages the Exalts to leave immediately before the storm arrives. Aujaq calls upon the local sea-god, kept pacified by the local’s offerings, and sends him to delay the Dragon bloods. None of the Exalts are willing to risk the seas with sorcerors and violent sea gods about, and so they take to horseback and ride through the snow covered forests to Vendig.

Nearly a week later the cold Exalts make it to the outskirts of Vendig, but again the keen eyes of Aujaq make out a familiar boat in the docks of Vendig – the Dragon-prow ship, looking a little worse for the weather. Worried that the city may already be against them, the send Mal in to investigate the situation. Mal easily passed in the morning traffic, overlooked by the local pickpockets and guards alike. He quickly spots the many rumour mongers and overhears them discussing their current targets – there are descriptions of Vlad, Pyotr and Mal circulating, and good money being handed out for this information!

Meanwhile Aujaq calls for the city-father of Vendig – and the god appears as an armoured angel, with a belt of ship-rope. After some flattery from the Exalts, The god reveals that the dragon blooded are indeed in town, and have already threatened him should he offer aid to the anathema. After much discussion (especially between Aujaq and the Doctor) they humbly ask the god to tell the dragon bloods of the Anathema Queen Marlene in Reiherheim. He thanks them for their clever plan and leaves.

They then prepare to enter Vendig city by disguising Pyotr and Vlad, and then enter the city gates along with the last rush at sunset before the gates are closed against the hungry-ghosts. Mal spots a human-shaped distortion of air also watching the gates as they pass unnoticed into the city.

They sneak through the night streets towards the poor quarter and the underground passages. Mostly they go unnoticed, but Mal spots a street begged paying attention to the well dressed figure of Laima as she enters the sewer entrance. He tries to offer a bribe, or future employment to the beggar, but leaves with the sneaking suspicion that word will spread of their arrival..

The Doctor and Mal, both experienced with keeping unobserved, sneak through the streets to visits lady Ragara Syn. When they arrive they surprise Syn with a guest dressed in realm patrician gear. Lady Syn quickly interrupts any introductions, telling the Doctor “your patient is in the downstairs servants quarters, please take yourself and your servant there immediately”. It is not until some hours later that Syn comes to meet them and inform them that her guest is Detective Tantei of Chanos Prefecture, hot on the trail of three anathema who terrorized Siegsdorf. She knows from his descriptions that Mal, Vlad and Pyotr are his targets, and that the detective was guiding a group of Immaculate Monks on a Wyld Hunt. She urged them to keep out of trouble, and to avoid these zealots if at all possible.

On the way out they meet Tantei at the gates of the Ragara household, and he thanks the doctor for her efforts in healing the citizens of the realm. He guides the doctor with a gentle hand on the back, offering his carriage to take her to any destination in the city she needs, along with a few jade coins for services rendered. Mal and the Doctor take the carriage to a random house, and then walk back to the Manse-Fort in theory quarter.

Back in the Manse the exalts consider their situation and weigh their options. They are divided on possible actions, but agree that sticking together is the safest option, to avoid being taken out individually. Kerker is advanced as a possible location to hide out, or heading even further north into the Icewalker lands as long as they are away from the dragonbloods. A strange feeling of being watched comes over the Doctor, and upon examination Aujaq sees that her essence has been infected by some water essence – and she is being tracked. Vlad sends her downstairs to the draining pool where the essence is removed, but everyone is on edge now.

Aujaq calls Koda back to his side, and the other exalts start to prepare for the worst – still divided over running of standing ground. Aujaq sends Koda to spy on the dragonbloods, so they will learn something. Koda sniffs them out at the Golden Pavillion, an expensive in for merchants and other foreigners from the Realm, and begins to sense the power of the dragonbloods, all the while passing this information back to Aujaq. Until suddenly one of the dragonbloods comes forward and drags Koda and grounds him in a material form – his shock increases as he is captured by a yasal crystal and he is cut off from communicating with Aujaq.

Aujaq picks up his god-spear and tells the others in no uncertain term – we rescue Koda now.

Descending Air 18

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session45
Picking up the Pieces

Resplendent Air 16

After routing the attacking elementals, Vlad, Mal and Pyotr were unsure how to proceed. The Surviving Jotunn was placed in a warded cage in the center of the marketplace – where the locals were able to take out their frustrations with rotten fruit and rocks. They tried questioning it, but it remained stubbornly quiet in the face of the inferior humans.

News spread quickly by boat and horse, and word that three Solars had returned and brought battle to Siegsdorf reaced vendig within days. The Doctor, deep in her studies, quickly realised what might be going on, and took the first boat to Siegsdorf. There she was able to examine the dead bodies of the Jotunn and Woodfolk.

With the additional knowledge of how the elemental bodies worked, Vlad and Mal were able to start extracting information with the aid of swords and knives. Grudgingly it spoke words of defiance – that even in death it would empower his lord Surtr, the greatest sorcerer among the Jotunn and leader of the gathered tribes. Demi, even though he was angry at the Jotunn for attacking the town, found the torture distasteful so Vlad beheaded the Jotunn and ended the torture. The doctor was overjoyed at the outcome, and spent the following days carefully preserving and packing the body parts of the Jotunn for transport back to her estate outside Vendig.

Meanwhile Pyotr was disturbed with all this talk of ‘empowering’ and started searching around town. The Solars suspected something inside the buried manse might have been the goal of the attack. They checked the sealed entrance along the smugglers tunnel, and found it still caved in. They went out to the collapsed tower and found the stairwell still choked with fallen stone and overgrowth. They suspected that the Jotnar may have been able to get though these blockages with their strength and elemental affinity, but as humans they needed to find another way in. Mal and Pyotr searched the cliffs underneath the ruined tower, and found a small crawlspace had been carved out by the action of the waves – with the aid of some well-placed ropes the solars entered the underground manse once more.

Inside they found the remains of a small library, but the years of exposure to damp had transformed this possible priceless source of information into damp piles of rotten wood and shreds of leather and paper. The journey through the passages was uneventful, and the marks of the previous fiery battles down here remained undisturbed since they had collapsed the entrance. But deep in the bowels of the manse they found the hearthroom – and a roiling pool of essence infused water. Demi and the Doctor carefully examined the pool and chamber, and determined that they collected the souls of all who died in the vicinity (which, if working properly, would prevent hungry ghosts arising), and channeled the resultant power somewhere else. With the assistance of Pyotr, Demi and the Doctor were able to trace out the flows of essence and gain a sense of the direction of the flow. They planned to carry out similar acts in Vendig, and hopefully narrow down the location of the nexus of power. At Vlad’s prompting, Demi snatched the hearthstone from the pool, and spent the afternoon attuning to the manse.

Pyotr spent the time considering the evidence they had uncovered, and began to build a profile of the as yet unmet ’Surtr". It was obviously some king of knowledgeable leader among the Jotunn, which apparently had access to some kind of sorcery, even if only the ability to bind elementals to his will. He was aiming to take control of the network of manses made by the Old Lords – and was inciting war against the humans.

The Doctor, realising the danger of these pools, desperately sought a way of stopping the flow of essence. From her investigations, it was clear that the only way to permanently stop the essence flow would be to redesign the temple, or failing that destroy it. Of course, they could simply empty the pool to ensure that there was nothing to send onwards. Demi immediately began work on a way of storing the essence of the souls, and after a mere ten days returned with a morbid artifact – carved from the skull bones of a Jotunn and encased in tinted glass, it would hold essence from a ghost or bled from a human – but barely made a dent in the collected souls in the manse. After another week of work a second skull container was created. With winter setting in the solars wanted to return to Vendig, so with no more time left, Vlad used his power to destroy the souls, preventing their power from being used by anyone.

As Mal and Pyotr guided the loading of the Blue Dragon’s goods onto the waiting ship, Vlad made sure to find some realm merchants and tell the story of the Solar defense of Siegsdorf, to ensure that the true story was spread. The merchants and soldiers listened in terror and were more than happy to take the last ships south.

Descending Air 9

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session44
Elemental Rain

Resplendent Air 16

As the snow fell on Siegsdorf, the Elementals launched their attack.

Vlad stood at the gates and watched the boulders come crashing into the main gates.
It all seemed to obvious, so Pyotr and Mal left the wall to patrol the town.
Vlad looked on with humor as the Woodfolk burnt themselves on the wards.
As the rain of stones crashed the wall, Vlad leapt down to block the entry.
The three Jotunn charged forward, and Vlad whirled between them, keeping them occupied.

Meanwhile, Mal and Pyotr spotted another pair of Jotunn and a handful of Woolfolk clambering out of the river and onto the wood-mill’s docks.
Pyotr launched an arrow which exploded into flame – sending the woodfolk scattering and injuring a Jotunn.
Mal chased them into the stacks of logs, dodging around until he had one cornered against the log-saw – then kicked him onto it. The other wounded Jotunn tried to hide amid the stacks – until Mal, still covered by remains gave it the choice to run or die… it chose to leave.

Pyotr saw the pair of Thunderbirds circling – and one dived down, releasing a horrific lightening burst which set the garrison fort afire. He rode through the streets to get the perfect shot, and felled one of the thunderbirds with two shots.

Vlad had meanwhile felled on of the Jotunn, and lured another onto the already warded wall – where it started to smoke and burn from the magics of the ward. After a spirit-cutting strike which pierced the armored hide of the Jotunn, it offered to cede the gate to Vlad – he accepted and saw off the remaining pair of Jotunn.

Mal meanwhile lept to the roof of the now burning Garrison Fort, and when a Thunderbird came swooping down, leapt up to intercept. The explosion of thunder and lightning left Mal badly charred and deafened, but the Thunderbird was sent crashing to the ground where it was forced to assume human form.
Mal, in no shape to fight further, snuck away south while the Thunderbird called down lighting and slowly healed itself.

Mal spots more Jotunn attempting to cross the warded bridge at the south of town, and as Vlad rides down from the gate, directs him there.
At the bridge, the Woodfolk were too fragile to risk the burning magics of the wards, but the three Jotunns managed to force their way across – ending up with smoldering hide when they reached town – only to be faced by a totemic shining Vlad – covered in the gore of a Jotunn, and holding a blade surrounded by sun-fire.
One Jotunn runs straight back across the bridge, one leaps into the water and tries to hide under the waterfront buildings, while the last takes a deep breath – and vomits out molten lava at Vlad

The pair dance around each other, until Vlad gets in a vicious strike that leaves his sword buried in its back – and hanging on while the Jotunn flails uselessly trying to get Vlad off. Until finally Vlad is able to get a sold grip and finish off the Jotunn.

During this time, Pyotr has been chasing the last Thunderbird all over town – taking shots which have forced it to stay above the clouds until, eventually, it is forced away from the town and over the ocean.

The three exalts, with the help of the town guard, are able to finally chase down the last Jotunn which was trying to stay hidden in the town – and capture it.

Resplendent Air 16

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session43
Rocks Fall

Resplendent Air 10

Feelings

The Exalts are starting to feel some pressure, with Queen Marlene forming her own base of power.
Laima and Mal are very concerned about their people who were sent to Siegsdorf.
The Exalts want to bolster their own friends and allies in Vendig.
Demi is still concerned about Arada, and his last known sighting was in the west.
They decide they are needed in Siegsdorf.

Overland

With the ships taking the surviving Tepet legionnaires back to Chanos, the sea route is closed.
Pyotr plans a trip south, skirting the Bosewald forest.
Each evening they make it to a farm or Wayhouse – protected by wards from the Hungry Ghosts.
Each night they look out on the prowling ghosts – testing the wards, waiting for a mistake.

Siegsdorf Ascendant

Riding into Siegsdorf, the Exalts see how much it has prospered through Vendig’s season of plague.
Saiyuri and the people smuggled out of Vedig have setup “The Blue Dragon”
The harbor is packed with boats, streets are bustling with traders.
Siegsdorf has taken up much of the trade before the winter (air and water) storms set in.
Many foreigners – Rajtali sailors, Imperial merchants, even some Icewalkers!
Some of the northmen merchants are overheard talking about Laima (of Waarches!)

Vlad checks out his family’s interests – and sees the smuggling tunnels are still in use.
Susinen spends the night under the stars, and observes the people while unseen.
She is concerned by footprints she sees outside town – Jotnar!

Hidden threats

After breakfast, Pyotr, Mal and Susinen head outside town to track the Jotnar.
A few miles away they find a camp of Elementals
A dozen Jotnar, twice as many Woodfolk, and a couple of Thunderbirds.
Susinen fades from view and sneaks in, overhears plans for an attack on Siegsdorf.
She returns to the others, and tries to tell them there is nothing to worry about.
Not convinced, these Elementals are a known threat!

New opportunities.

Laima contacts her man Lebowski and sets up a meeting with the merchants.
She meets with a pair of well off merchants, representatives of a “consortium”.
To Laima’s eyes, they obviously see opportunity for great profit.
She instructs them to send someone to Vendig.

New Recruits

Vlad and Demi go to the temple to meet with the priest Alt.
They explain the changed situation – with demon loving Senex and grasping Marlene.
Marlene has already sent a new town sheriff – Boran, and Alt expects more.
Alt is convinced the Order needs to leave Siegsdorf, and join Ulrich in Vendig.

Rumblings

Sayuri has made room for the Exalts on the “boat extension” to the Blue Dragon.
They are served a grand dinner by her.
News of the Elementals is troubling, but an open attack might cause Marlene to act.
Vlad and Demi go out and spend the night warding the north wall and the bridge into town.
Mal spreads word of a coming threat, and to prepare for defense.
Laima immediately goes and corners Sheriff Boran – who is overawed by her.

Rocks Fall

Boran (at Laima’s command) sends the town guard to man the walls.
Demi leads townsfolk barricading the gate.
Susinen and Mal head into the trees to scout, and see 3 Jotnar carrying a load of rocks.
Vlad and Pyotr stand on the walls, watching for incoming threats.

The Jotnar stop when they can just see the men on the town walls. (still hidden by trees).
They lay down their burdens, and a handful of Woodfolk begin ordering the boulders.
The Jotnar start hurling boulders at the wall…

Resplendent Air 16

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session42
Power Grab

Ascending Air 20

Taking Stock

Vendig has been affected by the plague, but is pulling through.
The merchants are adapting to a new way of business, where scarcity drives profit!
Smugglers and connections are what prospers, not the large orders.
The underworld has been similarly affected.
Thugs, thieves and petty criminals have fallen to their greed – and the plague.
The remaining criminals are slowly organising, and becoming semi-legal.
With the city recovering, messages are sent their people in Siegsdorf – come back!

To the Victor…

Now that the Legion under Ejava is headed south, the field remains..
Mal starts recruiting laborers to collect weapons and armor.
- The coinage and other small items are left for the workers to scavenge.
Vlad stays in the city, but educates the laborers on proper handling of infected goods,
Also on how to clean them – man laborers clean their own collections too.
Demi leads a crack group collecting more esoteric and valuable goods.
- They find a number of small artifacts and strange writings from the Legion.
Laima packs and catalogs the collection, making sure all are properly paid and accounted for.

The collection of the arms and armor goes amazingly quickly,
But word spreads far and wide – Vendig has weapons and artifacts.

Reborn Reiherheim.

Marlene is no longer the wife of a dead king, but soon to be monarch of Belicht.
Invitations have been sent to House Waarches, and “associates”.
They choose to give the (dead) general’s sword as a coronation gift.
Reiherheim is in full celebration mode – food, cleaned up, bunting all over.
Everyone is a little overwealmed by the change in this formerly somber city of temples.
Demi settles into the opulent castle suites – hot bath, servants, food, wine.
Mal spends the morning looking at all the potential targets. But becomes nervous.
The new town guards “Marleys” are in force – no Scarlet Order around.
Guards look very competent – much more than expected! Criminals have gone into hiding.
Vlad goes to the Cathederal and sees how the formerly bustling area has fallen silent.
Laima spends the morning hobnobbing – and spreading her own tales which prove popular.

Coronation.

The delegation from Vendig have their own covered seating.
The traditional crowning ceremonies, led by the Scarlet Order, are carried out.
Marlene gives a rousing speech to the assembled masses.
Bright new future, peace and prosperity, Law and Order – everyone laps it up
- Except Laima, Vlad and Mal – who have to constantly remind themselves of the truth.
Marlene springs a surprise – the Scarlet Order being disbanded…
Mal – looking like he belongs, quickly starts moving out to stand by Ulrich
And only just makes it in time to interrupt (and hide) an attempted slaying of Marlene.
The Queen goes on to show the parade of new soldiers – a very professional looking one.

Internal Strife.

Demi goes to the Coronation dinner.
Everyone seems so very excited and happy. Marlene seems well loved.
Except for the old Seneshal Giles, who Demi tries to pump for information.
He is trying to hide his fear, but doesn’t divulge his true feeling to Demi – known associate of the queen.

Laima, Mal and Vlad take Ulrich to the Cathedral.
He is furious – the Scarlet Order has a long history and are blessed by the Silver Heron, Marlene has no right!
They talk to him – revealing the truth of the Exalts, and that Marlene is also beyond his power…
They convince him to save the Scarlet Order – by fleeing to Vendig!
With only little assistance, Ulrich gathers his most loyal followers and gathers up as much as they can carry.
The Scarlet Order – their holy artifacts and much of their collected wealth disappear into the night.
- “The Poor Order of the Silver Heron” surface in Vendig.

Resplendent Air 8

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session41
Cutting the Knot

Ascending Air 16

Return to Vendig

The Doctor, Demi and Aujaq find themselves lost in the deep forest of Bosewald
They feel the enchantment of Verloren still working.
As they travel, the forest constantly shifts, and they find it hard to determine where they are.
They decide they need to go back to the others – to warn and get reinforcements.
As they travel, the forests shifts to become the environment around Vendig.
They emerge just east of Vendig, to a rising sun.

Plans for the Legion

The Exalts gather at Vlad’s house to share what is going on.
While the Shrine, Jotunn, Demons, Hungry Ghosts etc are issues, they can’t act until the Legion on their doorstep is dealt with.
They plan to talk to Tepet Lisara and get the Legion to leave.

Surprise Attack.

Mal sneaks out in the early predawn to his hidden warstrider.
Using the Hearthstone from Vendig undercity, he powers the Warstrider, and “sneaks” to the Legion outskirts.
At the gates, Vlad, Aujaq and the Doctor call for talks with the Legion under a flag of truce.
Lisara and entourage come out to talk… sighs of the plague still active in legion camp.
Vlad lays out a plan – cure and transport home, Legion leaves us Exalts alone.
Lisara angrily defends her faith and purpose of the Legions – protect the Realm from Anathema.
She arms herself with charms.
The Doctor points out the flaw – slow death by plague and Hungry Ghosts, suffering soldiers etc…
This convinces Ejava – who beheads her sister Lisara for the safety of her soldiers – offers surrender on terms.

The Lost General

Days later, the Legion is preparing to board ships home.
Ejava meets with the Vlad and co – “we’re leaving, but we are still enemies”.
The 42nd Legion is now leaderless – Arada resigned when he heard of the abandonment by the Realm
She is taking command – and will organise their withdrawal, which will take time.
Ejava wryly notes – “the remaining weapons and supplies are yours, or the Ragara’s”

Passionate Pleas

Demi wants to find Arada – they became friends and Arada could help them!
Demi can scry, but needs personal effects of Arada.
Vlad tries to ask Ejava, but she sees no reason to “sell out” her relative to Anathema.
Demi, frustrated, takes matters into her own hands. She tries to sneak aboard the ship.
Captured and brought to Ejava – who is not amused.
Demi makes an impassioned request – for her friend, for the people of Belicht – all the good Arada can still do.
Ejava is convinced and leaves the medallion of Arada – which he gave to Ejava when she became an officer.
(medal given to Arada by the Empress, for honourable service)

New Tenants.

Mal, Vlad and the Doctor go to the ruined fort in the north of Vendig
It sits above the undercity temple, and could offer protection and security.
They learn it has been taken over by local cutpurses – thanks to Mal’s sources.
The Doctor has a plan – they are all dressed in the Mortician outfit (plague mask, coat, etc)
The approach the thieves with a threat of plague and evacuation
The thieves are unconvinced – ill fitting outfits…
Vlad becomes excited at the prospect of fighting…
The Doctor threatens the thieves with Vlad “I’ll let him do what he wants to…”
Theives look at large scarred man with artifact sword – decide on discretion and leave.

Ascending Air 20

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session40
Preparations and Allies

Ascending Air 8

The Enemy of my enemy..

Aujaq, Pyotr, Demi and the Doctor search for allies against the Elementals.
The travel deep into the Bosewald forest and call out for the Gods of the Forest.
Aujaq’s impassions plea is answered by Verloren, forgotten spirit of Bosewald Forest.
The Exalts ask for help against the wood king elemental, Verloren is nervous.
He has been geased to not give help against the Altwald, the King of the forest. But obviously wants to help
Verloren says he cannot help, but must go and ensure that the Hidden shine of the fallen gods is safe.
The Shrine holds the arms and armor of those who fell in the God-Wars, and must never be held by mortal…
Then he slowly wanders away to “check on” the shrine – the exalts follow him…

The pen that stole a thousand ships…

Mal and Vlad in Vendig – they forsee the need for a fleet to carry “aquired” goods.
They both look at the devestation caused by the plague – resulting in much loss of life.
After aquring the records of who owned what ship, Mal and Vlad use their unsavory connections to discover which ships are now ownerless, and start forging deeds of ownership for them.
Given their new fleet of ships, they need crews, and start rounding up the dissatisfied sailors remaining.

Bigger problems…

Vlad and Mal head out to find out what materials the Imperial Legion has.
At twilight they head out of Vendig towards the Legion Camp.
Legion Camp is semi deserted, filled with dead bodies and barricades.
At the edge, the remaining members have built a rough fort containing remaining gear.
Vlad notices many wards around the camp – some broken and many surviving – wards against ghosts.
As the sun sets, the Legionaires come out and prepare for assault…
Mal and Vlad realise – the dead have become hungry ghosts – they beat a hasty (yet stealthy) retreat.
Around them the ghosts are rising from their bodies – lurching towards their former comrades.
When they get out, they spot the mass graves filled with the plagued of Vendig – and the horde rising there.
Carefully the sneak back into Vendig, slipping through the masses of Hungry Ghosts.

The Shrine of Fallen Gods

Verloren ‘leads’ the exalts to the Shrine, open the gates to check, then leaves, “forgetting” the gates open.
They enter a huge overgrown temple of old, unknown architecture,
Inside the walls are covered in vines and the floor covered in leaves and grasses, columns are trees.
The center is filled by a deep murky pool, with occassional ripples.
At the far end the Exalts recognize a statue of the Unconquered Sun.
Aujaq, Demi and the Doctor are drawn to the pool, and unnerved by the oppressive silence.
Pyotr darts across the vines to explore the temple – and finds monuments carrying arms and armor.
At the sound of his movement, a huge leech-like tentacle stretches out of the pool
Aujaq recognizes the creature – one of the forbidden gods – a blind god of consumption.
Pyotr takes one of the god-weapons, but its so heavy it bengs against the ground-
The leech-tentacle flashes out and strikes -Pyotr only just avoids it.
Demi tries to distract it with food from his pack…. 4 more leech-arms come from the pool.
Aujaq, realising its weakness, begins loud drumming – filling the Shrine with confusing echoes.
A mass of hundres of leech-tentacles writes in the pool, striking blindly at the walls.
Pyotr grabs a few weapons, and dashes for the door, following the others.
The run for their lives through the forest, not knowing where they are going – or caring.

Picking up the Pieces

Mal and Vlad return to the undercity, and to the place where Vlad was kept prisoner.
The cultists and demons have left, but something has cleaned up much of the area.
The pool where the Silver Heron was imprisoned is still glowing with power, and bubbling.
Vlad takes a closer look, the symbols are a strange variant on a ward – drawing in power?
He sees the temple’s hearthstone inside the pool… and takes a risk.
The pool tears at his soul, and he feels it stealing his essence…
But he leaves with the hearthstone – and dreams of a warstrider…

Ascending Air 15

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