Ecthesis Castle.   Posted by 22-1-0 NC.Group: 0
 GM, 61 posts
Sat 25 Mar 2017
at 01:00
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Valerian Hawke:
Valerian nods to the knights and thanks the Monk asking where the nearest temple or shrine to Alethea is.

Before leaving to worship at the shrine Valerian hands Fen Hien 300 gold pieces saying "This is for the provisioning of the men for the next three days, along with some spending money. Tomorrow you'll need to look for rations for a fortnight's march and keep the men out of the bars used by the other two armies. I shall return shortly, use the Marian standard watch schedule."

Valerian then heads to the nearest shrine to Aletheia gives a 10GP donation before kneeling at the alter with the holy sword before him and praying for around half an hour, thanking the Spirit for her angel's gift of the sword, asking forgiveness for laxity in worship, giving thanks for the most recent battles (that with the ninja and the battle of the bridge) and asking for her guidance and wisdom in the battle tomorrow, a battle not of martial strength but of words and wisdom so that the Marian Peace may be preserved and the Heliod's will be done.

After praying Valerian heads back to the inn to catch what little sleep he can before the monk comes to take him to the High Ecclesiastic.

Fen Hien takes the coins with the correct bow and just the faintest hint of surprise at the weight of the pouch then sets about the work of a second officer efficiently barking at various members of your new unit as you walk away.

[I have taken the money off your character sheets on the portal and roll 20 so you don't need to.]

In your quest for a shrine to your recent patron/task master spirit you are eventually successful. Her most often association is with the concept of truth (she is the daughter of Helior* of the Judgement and Justice) and has an alter at the court houses of most cities of this size. This city belongs to and is administrated to by a priestly order. When asking for guidance from locals you learn that the places that provide such functions are all in the inner acropolis that also houses the major dedicated shrines and is the one place currently behind closed doors to the public. Polite but firm priests tell you that the area is closed off to all guests until tomorrow if you are part of an official delegation. While gazing up at the white towers that are likely the chief chapels of the city where the local potentate sits a thought occurs to you without you quite knowing where from.

You walk into the quite and mostly depopulated middle quadrant, discovering in passing the area the Queen's army is distributed, and out to a deserted courtyard with a door set into the towering walls of the city. It isn't locked and it leads to a long narrow staircase of white stone, still not quite sure why you climb to the very top and step out into a small circular room at the top of a tower that reaches up above the walls of the city. The roof is domed with a mosaic pattern once no doubt lavish but now faded with age and covered with dust. Between thin regular columns the walls are all deep red tinted glass that obscure the outside world. There is a statue of a winged figure kneeling at rest that dominates the room and a place to kneel set before it. It is a solemn space and feels holy and contemplative even if it has clearly been undisturbed for a very long time. A shrine to Aletheia.

When you have prayed and left your gold offering in the forgotten tower you return to your lodgings and sleep well.

*The Solar Great Spirit of Death and Judgement amongst other things. The Chief Spirit of the civilisation favouring Heliod House of spirits.

Drast wanders into the city proper, loosing himself in the endless streets.

Religion roll of 6.

Time passes, as Drast continues wandering around the city proper, heading in the general direction of the market albeit in a detoured manner. Without any haste, he stops from time to time, doing little more than experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the city. A tune can be heard, hummed from the wizard as he smiles at the locals and winks at those who stop to stare at his wizardly travel attire.
He buys some fruit as he peruses the market, chatting amiably with the fruit vendor. If the vendor seems interested in conversation, he enquires further "Where are these fruits from?".  "Are they grown natively in Arravigia?" "So which of these fruits are in season?" and "What would you recommend I purchase?" as well as more general questions such as "Where's a good watering hole around here?" "How has business been?"

Drast is attempting to engage the merchant in conversation, first and foremost to garner a good impression and build rapport. Drast wants the vendor to experience how fabulously amazing he is and to enjoy and actively want to converse with Drast. Further, to try multiple fruits for little cost, to make a purchase of said fruits, to learn a bit more about the merchant, how his business is doing, and general information about the city.

Persuasion Roll "21:03, Today: Wizard Drast rolled 20 using 1d20+6."

Unsurprisingly you know little more about this city than any other you have come across in this corner of the world far from your birthplace. It is an intriguing place however. You do attract attention as you stand out both from the monks of the cult and the merchants that are selling their goods in the marketplace but it is a favourable attention of people interested in who you are than the fear and suspicion you met with in your travels in the Marian Empire.

The fruit vendor has a busy stall with people gathering up what will probably be the last good haul of fruit for sometime as the autumn takes hold but when you amble over and engage him he has a subordinate take over the majority of the dealings with the public to chat with the interesting stranger.

"All the way from the Twin Empire's heart are these oranges. Nothing grows round here but a rustic cooking apple..." and he rattles on for awhile animatedly about the providence and quality of his wares that you manage to convincingly appear interested in and so draw him into broader conversation punctuated with him sharing his wears with you with "oh now you must try this" all just for the cost of the first silver coin of your first bite.

You learn that while his business has been good it is soon to end when he meets a caravan of grapes bound for the border kingdoms not to return till the spring with a fresh load of foreign foods. In general he has benefited from a slow movement of people coming to the city to either settle here away from greedy and increasingly laxly regulated nobles in the rest of Aravigia or to seek permission to settle in the country side of the priestly orders gift. Other merchants have benefited more from several noble families have chosen the last few months as a good time to make an extended pilgrimage to city while their father and brothers have become increasingly engaged in the increasingly more active civil war. It all helps explain the busy market of wide goods currently in the usually quiet city. In learning from you a bit more about what has recently with the battles of the now declared war he looks solemn and comments that this city may soon be full the bursting with people trying to escape the hostilities.

When you take your leave he bids you well amiably and gives you the name of an inn that belongs to a cousin of his and so has his recommendation.
Wizard Drast
 player, 9 posts
Sat 25 Mar 2017
at 16:29
Re: Ecthesis Castle
With his multiple items of food in hand, and a pleased look on his face, Drast remarks "A pleasure doing business with you today." Then proceeds to lean in closer and suggest "How about clearing a bit of table space for me and I'll put on a show and get you a bit more business today, sound good?" Drast gives his staff a slight twirl, that could be perceived as conspiratorially amongst wizards, one eyebrow raised, his cloak billowing in the sudden appeared wind.
 GM, 65 posts
Tue 18 Apr 2017
at 15:42
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Early in the chilly morning after your staggered arrival in the holy city you meet once again when invitations are sent by the Queen to join her in being formally received by the chief priest of the temple city. You are brought to the square about which her small army is housed to accompany the normal detachment of the Lords with an added handful of sons and the noblest landed knights as the monarch’s honour guard towards the acropolis where the cult’s monastery sits. Though still carrying swords and other favoured arms on their belts they are wearing normal clothes and cloaks rather than armour. It is shortly after lunch when two monks in humble white robes with a simple solar disc embroidered arrive to guide you, they needn’t have bothered the way to the upper city is obvious from the outset. The main road of the city runs from the front gate in a straight line through the middle city and up to the upper ward in a wide unbroken line. The broad roadway is all but deserted making the habitually quiet city virtually silent but for the distant sound of water in motion and the occasional bird call. The lack of noise with the autumn cloud cover and still air almost makes you feel like you are still indoors as you make a leisurely pace along the road. You are led through the thick gateway in the inner wall that leads immediately onto a broad stairway that climbs to the acropolis. On each giant step twenty can walk abreast and five back to front with ease. The buildings of the upper city sit in part on the cliff side and partly on a massive terrace of white stone built out from the sloping ridge, the stairway runs on the west side of the terrace with large alcoves at regular intervals. Each recess houses a towering statue of some heroic figure from an ancient tale, Valerian can recognise a few of them but others are a complete mystery as you do not have time to study the words engraved neatly all across the back walls of the alcove that no doubt tell the tale of the figure. The last two figures are on plinths standing on the newels at the top of the stairs in front of another formidably thick gatehouse that is decorated like a Triumphal arch. They are known to even Drast as the tales* they are from are known across the known world though specifics like their names vary depending on who is telling the tale.

The higher area of the city is dominated by the Grand Temple that takes up the right half of the platform. Two very large circular concentrically stepped buildings below the tall towers that can been seen from almost every point in the city, the larger is higher on the cliff with the two connected by a long hall at ground level rising up the incline. Made from the same white stone as the rest of the major construction in the city, on the outside they are all as simply designed as the cities walls with large flat blocks of smooth unadorned stone. The only splash of colour comes from the red tiles high up on domed roves of the towers. There is a pathway that leads around the outer edge of the larger circle towards the smaller but your guides lead you in the other direction across a wide square formed by the temple on one edge, the walled edge of the terrace on two and a dense cluster of buildings that take up the remaining half of the acropolis on the final side, you are headed towards the maze of buildings. Each one of them is really quite large by most standards apart from in comparison to the massive Temple but while the outside of the temple is spartan the façades of these buildings are a cavalcade of ornate carvings. Almost every inch has some sort of decoration be it the elaborate columns of loggias facing one another across a street narrow enough to reach across or intricate spirals fashioned into the corbels that support wide ornamental balconies. While there is more than a few religious figures and scenes in the larger freezes and engravings in the places most likely to draw the eye, the majority is just decorative pattern work. You are led through the streets past veranda’s, galleries, through colonnades, fountains and by vestibules spewing thick incense. Monks and nuns in various forms of the cult’s robes move about the streets in small groups, as your procession passes them each bows and gives way when the path is too thin. At ground level it seems like a maze but when you round a final corner and come across a wide cloistered garden you begin to suspect it is meant to be viewed from above. One story arcades are on three sides of the garden with a pathway at the far end that leads under a pergola, thick with the last flowers of the year, into a tall hypostyle that serves as a portico for the palatial building that serves as the residence for the chief prelate.

In the heart of the garden is a round pool of crystal clear water and in the centre of that pool is a single massive statue depicting the Three Great Houses of the Spirits in black, red and white marble with the smallest figure being at least the height of a man. The eyes of each of the spirits have been fashioned from precious stones of a unique colour in such a fashion that even the dull light of this overcast morning the shimmering light reflected from the water gives them an eerie living quality. Your guides leave you at the threshold of the Basilica and from in amidst the columns a group of ten cultists with ceremonial rods approach to lead you the rest of the way in procession through the main hallway, across a circular peristyle where a sacred tree grows surrounded by urns of burning incense even in this weather and into the grand hall itself. The inside of the building is as elaborately decorated as the outside but now with a plethora of colour and materials. Rich tapestries line the hallways, doorways are hung with silk cloths to divide the rooms, every ceiling is painted and every yard of floor has an intricately woven rug underfoot. The doors to the hall are made of a dark wood and are opened by two dark robed and hooded hierophants, one male and one female, who loudly announce all of the guests in a harmonic song like tone that echoes off the vaulted ceiling. A shadow is cast over the meeting before it has even begun when the hierophants term the principle guests as the Duchess of Ecthesis appending her status as a claimant to the Kingdoms of Numoeria and Aravigia after the fact which causes an audible growl to emanate from the Earl of Dulmorth and a murmur to run through the knights.

The Grand Hall itself looks comparatively bare to the rooms you have walked through not because it actually has any less decoration but because of the wide open space that dominates the hall means there looks to be less per square measure of distance. A collection of long tables have been pushed aside up against walls on both sides of you suggesting they have cleared the normal furniture for a purpose. At the far end of the hall from you a regal throne carved from a single piece of black stone is sitting on a raised platform under a deep blue baldaquin suspended from the back wall which is covered from the high ceiling to the floor with a single giant tapestry that depicts the Great Spiritual Houses again but now with a host of other figures and creatures around them. A great many paintings and busts in niches stare down from the walls, no doubt each a worthy from the monastery’s past. Arrayed in a semi-circle in front of the throne’s dais are eight people sitting on plain chairs that stand up and give various depths of bow as your party enters. Two are women, the rest men but all are partially white haired and at least in their fourth decade if not older. They are introduced by the same bellowing hierophants one at a time by name and then collectively as the Elders of the Aravigian Helodic Council. Given the titles of the priests you learn the council is manned not just by those priests from the city but from across such organised unity as there is between the cults of Aravigia. You recognise the most rotund of them as the head cleric of the Ecthesian Chapel, the same man that placed the Numorean crown on the Queens head. Evidently he has been her chief messenger in arranging the summit that was supposed to be taking place here. All six wear lavish versions of the white robes of the other cultists you have seen so far with one figure in particular clearly being the man in charge, he was the last to be announced as “The Revered Elder of the Lokston Grand Temple, Shrine Master of the Sacred Light, High Priest of the Orophic Brotherhood, Dacian Mallow Keeper of the Helodic mysteries” which seemed longer than anyone else’s title. He is the eldest of the prelates being at least sixty if you had to guess and probably closer to seventy given the lines on his face though he is still of healthy enough frame and rises and bows unassisted. He has a stern and lofty set to his face that you can’t imagine smiling very often. He isn’t smiling now.

He has a neatly trimmed beard and cropped hair both as white as snow. His robes have a high collar trimmed with gold inlay that coils round a solar pattern on each shoulder and on his chest. The robe reaches down to the floor with sleeves that are so wide at the cuff that they too nearly reach the floor unless gathered about his forearms. Set into several areas of the robes on shoulders, hips and a strip across his chest are small scale shaped mirrors that do little in this light but would have quite the effect in services of prayer when they catch and reflect customarily copious sun or torch light, during important festivals Marian priests are known to put on entire suits of the stuff to appear as beings of holy fire. In his hand is a tall white wood staff with an elaborate golden ornament attached to the top in which is set an obsidian black oblong of rock.

Each of the elders takes first the Earl’s hand and then the Queen’s with each making a further bow or curtsies to her apart from the Ecthesian who kneels and kisses her hand and the High Priest Dacian who shakes it lightly in a manner that strikes you as strangely casual, if there are any other formalities that are supposed to be observed at such a meetings there is an unspoken agreement not to practices them as a host of chairs are set out for the guests across from the priests by servants that quickly exit the room.
    “Your Grace-” Dacian begins with a surprisingly deep voice for a man his size but he is immediately cut off by a very deliberate cough from the elderly Baron of Lepton. The Queen places a restraining hand on the Baron’s own and Dacian begins again,
“Your Grace, Lords, Sers and honoured guests from distant lands I bid you welcome to Lokston. I hope you find rest, contentment and peace within the hallowed walls of our Temple City, such rewards are always to be found here for those that in earnest seek them.”

His words clearly heavy with meaning beyond a simple greeting which The Baron of CaerLok, Luther Chiswick, shows no patience for,
   “You’ve heard of our trouble crossing the Loklek Bridge then?”

The Abbess of Brandle** answers,
    “We have, a choir of our brothers and sisters left this morning to provide all the proper rites to the fallen but I grieve for so much death on the waters that flow from this holy place. A most regrettable loss of life that could have been avoided had calmer heads prevailed.”

The Earl of Dulmorth being uncharacteristically quiet mutters something about it being mostly foreign blood but something in her choice of words has irked the Baron of Mething.
    “Had they not made two attempts to assassinate the Queen we might have trusted them to safely convey us here. One does sell your last knife to a murderer. I am sure you do not mean to condone or reveal a part in the planning of their use of foreign cut throats and evil magics for such skulduggery!” he rebukes with an accusatory finger wagging at her.

The Abbess is quickly moved to anger in return by the remark and raises her voice to shout at him,
    “I certainly have no knowledge of such matters and would scarcely credit that Milord Regent would have any hand in them either!”

Mething having gone red with anger leaps out of his chair to shout right back,
   “Oh they tried! You may take my word on that and I dare you to call me a liar*** with faith on your lips for that scheming wretch I hear you’ve been gifting silver to, you wh-” but fortunately he is cut off by a forceful tug at his arm from the Baron of Beasley before he can finish saying something he would probably regret.

There is a quiet moment while everyone regains a bit of composure before the Elderly Baron of Lepton phrase Mething’s meaning in slightly better words,
    “Quite possibly the late King Cedrik’s Regents doesn’t have full knowledge of or control over those he and his conspirators have purchased to their side. I am not sure being ignorant of the quality of men you surround yourself with absolves one of guilt but regardless of where true blame lies for those attacks, they did happen. We could not surrender ourselves to their mercies and expect to be brought to this city unharmed and at liberty. With their larger army close behind, the crossing was forced on us and the first real blood of this disputed succession has been shed. We can all agree that with fortune and good intention from just men there will be no more.”

The Ecthesian priest speaks up quickly before any of the other priests have a chance to reply, he seems worried and eager raise a topic before another argument can delay the discussion again,
    “Agreed… but unlikely. A rider visited in the night ahead of the Regent’s arrival tomorrow. He wished to know if the city had means to feed twelve thousand, your pursuit follows you still and the Regent has not travelled from the Capital alone it seems. You were fortunate to have made it here when you did, I fancy their soldiers have been seeking to hold the roads of Lokston since they learnt we intended to hold a summit here. I would beg you to place no hope in their good faith when they arrive yet the Revered Elder has made plain that he means to leave the gates open to them.”

Open to all, my good brother, open to all.” Corrects Dacian but the point is lost on the Lords who make several exclamations.

“You’d hand us over the Regent then?” asks the Earl who’s though casual and still sitting easy in his chair is full of a sudden unexplainable but undeniable menace.

The youngest of the priests, Abbot John who is still forty five at least, answers with a rather intense edge to his voice,
   “No my Lord Earl we will do no such thing. Indeed as our position demands of us, we shall do as the very letter of the laws lain upon this city long before any kingdom existed here mandate, nothing at all. Our sacred charge as masters of this holding is from a lineage of faithful begun by the Great Spirits themselves, and, confirmed by every monarch and noble to inhabit the region. It is to see that the gates of this city are never shut again for any reason but against the return of the great enemy which Helior himself delivered us from in ages past. Only for those whom Asharadon himself recanted and allowed these walls to remain standing against the threat of, only under peril of that force will we be caused to bar the gates. When Kanarabos gave warning to Orophius to open up before the march of the approaching Helodic hosts or suffer its wrath it was a threat our order took to heart and to this day we would fear that punishment above any army of yours or the regent’s. As much evil as any man might do, be the Regent as foul as is claimed by your supporters and surrounded by a host of the most vile peoples that can be found and bought from the corners of the world, as much evil as they might do to you, us and all the people of Aravigia in their victory by our inaction, when all is said and done while your war for kingship might leave us all dead beside it will never threaten the justice of Heliod and,” he finishes with a less fanatical tone, “I doubt Lokston has as much to fear from the Regent and his plans as you would have us believe.” It sets off the Lords again who are very much in no mood to be lectured to. The Earl of Dulmorth stands and places one hand on the handle of his sword quite possibly purely by reflex but it upsets the High Priestess of Cabberuk**** as she questions his intention to use the weapon and several loud arguments break out across one another. The Queen remains calmly seated and still silent apparently quite happy to leave her warriors and lords to their own devices in this meeting.

Dacian raises his staff once and bangs it loudly on the marble floor with a loud command for, “Peace!” with a sufficiently authoritative tone to get him the silence he needs to speak into. He doesn’t have the fanatical edge of the Abbot or even really any sort of committed tone of the devout when he talks but seems rather weary instead,
  “Please, be seated,” the other priests who had stood up to really get into their arguments take their seats again but the lords all turn to the Earl who turns to the Queen before a slight nod has them all back in their chairs again and Dacian continues.

  “What Brother John has said is correct, we are charged to hold open this city to all and it would break with our vows to shut out the Regent on condition of his good behaviour at and intentions for the summit. That said the more pressing truth is that we could not keep out a force of that size even if we wanted to declare our city in your name, for there is no reason for us to do so. Our city but for your esteemed presence is worth little in terms of your conflict,” he casts and arm expansively about at the hall in general, “we are priests not warriors. We craft, pray, reflect and work the land. We take no taxes from the people that come here in most cases to seek peace. We have no strength of arms here to resist the predation of greater temporal powers. Either the regent, and his conspirators as you name them or whoever else has moved to eliminate you before your arrival, will respect the sanctity this city has always relied on as its only means of real protection and you will also be safe, or, they won’t in which case there is no service we can provide to prevent them even should we choose to declare for you and doom ourselves at your side in the face of their iconoclastic violence.
     As noble as that might seem and as much as it might appeal to our personal desires for the tale of our lives to sound glorious and brave, the burning of this city would be the path of far lesser justice in the long term for the Kingdom and all who follow the tenants of the Heliod. Its loss would be felt for untold years after whatever end any of us come to,” he pauses with a very steady and cynical gaze at the young would be Queen, “and to be frank I am not personally satisfied that you have justice on your side. As many tales as I hear of ancient crowns delivered by Marian hands,” his eyes flicking briefly to Valerian and Drast, “I remain unconvinced of the providence you would seek to trade upon to secure a newer minted yet more prosperous kingdom termed a righteous and blessed possession of late when your case was begun on more prosaic means.” His right eyebrow raises in question to the Queen.

Did the footfalls of twelve thousand upset the scales of your moral quandary in the night? Your dedication to your sacred duties could have been made clear to my emissaries when we were an extra day ahead of our pursuit.

Dacian’s eyebrow drops and he gives a slight shrug,
   “I place my faith in there still being honour amongst the nobility of the realm and hope that the summit can still bring an end to this business before it gets any further. As the side most married to a vision of its own virtue and made up of dedicated countrymen born to your dominions I judge you likely to walk away from any table not set out exactly to your liking and hazard the skills your birth has granted you against those others have purchased through adversity. Though I did not design it so, that your security is weaker in the coming bargain may yet prove beneficial towards the goals of peace.” There is silence for a time while all digest the meaning of what he has said then the Earl leans over towards Beasley to have a very brief word in his ear. Beasley gives a nod to Bodem and both rise and leave the hall heading back towards the front door with half the knights. Dacian watches them go then speaking as if in private confidence directly to the Queen and ignoring all others he says in a soft voice. “Come, let us be truthful with one another, David is not a wicked man. No more than you are a tyrant. Even now he will not demand your head or the ducal crown you have habitually worn on it. Though you rarely visited the capital he was ever favourable when speaking of your family to Cedrik, he has known you your entire life. Who was the first to offer you condolences and support when your father passed?”

Whatever he was aiming for missed the mark as the Queen becomes stiffer and her eyes narrow as she lists of a series of names now familiar to you with deliberate care in her pronunciation of each
   “Roger Meir, Earl of Dulmorth. Bromwood Braxton, Baron of Beasley. Woarm Scholt, Baron of Lepton. Charles Nadelm, Baron of Mething. Henry Kessing, Earl of Pegir. Hugo Ashe, Baron of the Ashe. Goddard Tolberd, Earl of Aswith…” the list goes on for another seventeen names before getting to “…David Crosspenny, under councillor to King Cedrik I, long may he walk in the fields of Hemecial.” giving the man all the others refer to as the regent his title at the time and adding a formal reverence for the now dead king. She begins to name the High Priest himself before the Abbot John that spoke before with fanatical zeal interrupts her to say,
   “The point is he offered condolences and is a pious man-“ before he is in turn cut off by one of the Lords and a fresh set of shouting matches breaks out.

They shout for a good while and no headway is made as the Queen again sits back and lets them go at it. Valerian more or less zones out to stare the ceiling when any input he might try to make is ignored until there is a tugging at his wrist. A small child in similarly refined robes as the elders has wandered into the room at some point and is pulling your arm out of the way so it can look at the sword hilt on your hip. Normally you might shush the black haired girl away but the child’s eyes are glowing with a golden light so you acquiesce, she reached out and places her index finger in the pommel then immediately gives a spasmodic gasp and throws back her head with a jerk making her hood fall from her head. She opens her mouth to speak and the same light issuing from her eyes shines out from within as though there were a powerful flame in her diminutive body. Dacian again bangs his rod on the floor and calls of silence with all following his attentive stare to the strange child standing next to Valerian’s chair. With an ethereally musical voice punctuated by sporadic snapped breaths she declares the following loud enough for all present to hear,

Behold celebrants of the Great House of the Sun Lord, listen and known at least one truth you can hold in your hearts as beyond question. Be devoid of all doubts of this one fleeting moment of your presence upon the mortal stage, prophesy is fulfilled this day. This is the Champion of the Stolen Soul, wandering heraldic satellite, tasked by Retribution, questioned by Fortune, companion to Rage, warden to a Drake Heart and loyal to the line of Contest. In union in this place and hour with the Blade of Ceaseless Retribution that Exposes the Truth, sister to the Key of Souls. Foretelling was given in warning of this! The first sign of the Endless Void is provided here for all to see! Seek the second in the place where the sacred stellar jewel rests upon the ancient smog giver, there shall be called forth flame enough to birth the great fugitive that seeks the salvation of the chorus with the offering of new refrain. Accept this telling and teach your lines to tread lightly upon the trespass of life, the pages of mortal counting soon run short!

As soon as the final word is shaped by her tongue the child collapses onto the floor and lies so still in the crumpled pile of her robes material that you have to look carefully to tell she is still breathing. Turning to the others in the room you see that several of the priests in the room have fallen to their knees, the Lords and Knights stare in confused surprise in your direction with some still frozen with a fist clenched in anger as they had been locked in their argument a moment before, one actually still has a priest by the scruff of his robe. There is an ever so faint noise as the Earl and Chiswick drop the few inches of blade they had begun to draw back into their scabbards.

The hierophants that had stepped inside when the child had entered are striding forwards to fuss over the fallen child and a host of other monks enter in their wake to start clearing away chairs and directing people to where they need to go. Dacian is still sitting in his chair staring at Valerian before taking a deep breath and standing up to address him,
   “You had better come with me young man. I would hear your story from your own lips where it is less likely to get confused with other matters. Brother John bring Cassandra to my study when she is recovered and send someone to the sealed library to retrieve the scrolls of Cuthbert for me. This way my boy,” before walking towards a door at the back of the hall.

At the door he turns and addresses the Queen and her Lords one last time for this meeting,
   “All has been made ready for your summit, quarters in the Basilica have been reserved for the duration. I invite you as I have invited the regent to midday prayers tomorrow before talks begin, the choice to attend or attempt escape is up to you. The gates stay open.” With that he turns on his heels and heads through the door into the inner hallways of his residence expecting Valerian to follow after him to his private study.

*Exploratory sailing twin brothers that are said to have been the first Humans to find the shores of the Cori Celesti. Their adventure mostly covers taming sea beats to carry vast rafts for pilgrims and overthrowing the evil tribal rulers that tried to stop the emigration of their people. They are popular romantic figures due to tales of their quarrels over more than one lover.
**A satellite town of the capital that you briefly passed on the road during your initial journey through Aravigia. You didn’t visit the Abbey.
***His rage is a little ironic for though they never said as much the general assumption at the time was initially that Drast had made the first assassination attempt up.
****One of the more important spirits of the Heliod associated with taming animals and invention.

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:19, Sat 09 Sept 2017.

Valerian Hawke
 player, 31 posts
Tue 18 Apr 2017
at 16:04
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Valerian raises an eyebrow. Stands, bows shallowly and stiffly to the assembled personages and follows the High Priest towards his office.
Wizard Drast
 player, 13 posts
Mon 3 Jul 2017
at 22:19
Re: Ecthesis Castle
While the child is speaking, Drast reaches out with his magical senses gingerly towards the child. [Arcana roll: 12]

After the main proceeding has finished, until asked otherwise, Drast walks around the great hall, admiring the architecture, the giant tapestry of the Great Spiritual Houses and any other ornaments, busts or religious artifacts on display that catch his attention.
 GM, 70 posts
Tue 4 Jul 2017
at 15:58
Re: Ecthesis Castle
 GM, 77 posts
Mon 25 Sep 2017
at 22:13
Re: Ecthesis Castle
The frenzied Battle of Lokston is over, a chaotic affair fought street to street and house to house in the dock area of the otherwise pristine city. While one of the armies involved was much larger and greatly outnumbered the other the confusion had meant that when all sad tallies were taken it came to much the same bill as the skirmish at the bridge a few days earlier. It would however be a fight long remembered if nothing else for the damage wrought to the Basilica of the Acropolis. The priestly attempt at treachery had been expensive for them, most importantly it cost them the structural integrity of their high cleric’s seat of power. Masonry was still falling down the cliffs as you sailed away towards the middle of the lake.

Expecting the need for a speedy exit from the city the Queen’s army had acquired every boat they could reach within a nights travel of the city and ferried away every horse and the lion’s share of the light infantry, fortune had it that the regent’s scouts had been distracted in a crucial moment by a some street theatre in the main market and having been spotted by the subtle Baron of Lepton who via a staged conversation held just were it would certainly be overheard and much motion from a division of the guard during the night with torches and flags the enemy was led to believe the Duchess was planning to hold the outer walls rather than retreat. Forewarned of that a plot was likely inside the conference itself the heavily armoured knights had held the roads to the port and stood ready for a rapid strike on the Acropolis to rescue their likely captive leaders. In the moment plans on all sides had been cast to the winds when the knights’ entrance had been barred by an experienced mercenary squad and some of the regent’s more fanatically idealistic followers had thought to assassinate the Queen and her chief retainers there and then rather than have a trial that some might survive in exile. A strange culmination of seemingly random actions, the warnings of a small child and the unexpected arrival of distant allies using the power of an unseen hand had been all that stood between captivity for you and death for your allies. While your part was crucial in snatching victory from defeat by defending the Queen, once out of the conference room your role was largely complete. One last unleashing of Drast’s potent magics provided the hesitation in the enemy needed for a fighting retreat to form through the hallways of the high priests residence and with the mage ever in vision of the pursuing enemy just behind the shield wall of devoted knights the enemy from the basilica halls never pressed too close in following you as the cliff side edge of the building began to collapse. Once out of the building and down the narrow stairway that ran from the top of the acropolis to the docks at the bottom of the cliffs you were well protected by the efforts of the army in guarding the Queen. The Earl of Dulmorth and his son strode off to take charge of the wider battle while you and the wounded were rushed as part of the royal guard to the largest boat which cast off as soon as your feet left the jetty.

With no threat of immediate pursuit the flotilla had headed simply away from Lokston and towards the middle of the mighty lake that had the size of an inland sea. The sun was giving the last rays of the day when the Earl of Dulmorth pulled himself onto the Queen’s vessel in a sweaty but miraculously healthy ball of noise and energy. At his own insistence he had been the last to leave the city and rowed himself, his youngest son brandishing a shield sporting a forest of bolts and arrow shafts along with the injured Baron of Beasley in the last small craft. That night a council of the lords and Marshals of the knightly orders was held for all those in a fit state to attend with first son’s and seconds replacing wounded fathers or seniors giving you the chance to put a few extra connections between faces and names you have come to known as individuals in the army. Valerian is actively asked to attend and after the events of the day Drast has free roam of the boat, they seem to assume that whatever random actions he takes or words he says serves some mystical purpose that as far as they can tell to date have only ever averted disaster for their cherished Queen. If Dain wishes to come they certainly don’t prevent him but you notice a guard posted at the door to the cabin that holds the bound coal skinned Orc, wounded So-Cue and the massive but thankfully slumbering green skinned Ur-Nungal. The two young girls nominally in your respective cares are roving about the boat with Ann helping out as she can and Cassandra largely standing near at hand and staring on bewildered.

Those that head straight to the meeting walk into the Captain’s cabin as Ser Thomas is saying
    “... he was one of the regent’s sons, apparently he raised his children on the dreams of Araviga as a republic and at least one of them is part of a hard line faction.”

His father the Earl of Dulmorth gives a low rumble and a tall thin man you know to be the younger Charles Naden (eldest son of the Baron of Mething) nods
    “Having defenestrated his son means we will never bring him to terms, it will be all or nothing if it wasn’t already.”

Nathaniel Galbort the Lieutenant Knight-Marshal of the Stag Knights offers up
    “Well in theory if the leader of a republic can offer them only likely annihilation they could dispose of him and stand behind someone for whom it is less personal” from his tone you can tell he isn’t hopeful of this hypothetical.

There is silence a moment before Byron Braxton* gives a shrug
    “I don’t think we are near forcing such a test of their ideals. The force that chased us north looked to be near enough all mercenaries. I’d wager while we have been kept busy, your grace’s eldest with the forces we massed at Dulmorth will have had more than enough to deal with. The rebellious Earls will have been paid to let their harvest suffer and may well have mustered with forces from the Capital and that is assuming they don’t have another mercenary army roving about.”

The Earl of Dulmorth gives another unintelligible growl but is in agreement
    “Aye, as much as today might have felt like a victory it was still a retreat, while I doubt they’ll find many new soldiers in Lokston they’ll get some extra supplies and they already had the lead on that with the Berrylunds firmly in hand. The Kingfort garrison could have marched into the Earl’s Divy already while our reinforcements will still be tied up in the harvest. If that…” the Earl takes a long breath “If Hatheril and the rest of the rebel’s in the Divy slunk off to take command of an army from the Kingsfort supplemented by more foreign soldiers then when we land we might arrive to news of my house under siege.” A prospect that obviously and reasonably angers him and again there is brief silence while that grim possibility is considered.

    “Well for all that I say our forces have the edge in any given fight” voices a solid looking knight still in his armour** “Clearly the regent kept his own council when importing troops, the forces we saw in Lokston were mostly foot, he brought no cavalry to speak off and even seemed light on bowmen. Unless they convince the Knights of the Vine-“

He is interrupted by an incredulous outburst from the Baron of Bodem who has a bandage wrapped around his head
   “Fah! Knights of the Vine! Farming Esquires play jousting on their plough horses at the weekend!”

    “-yes well, they are like as not to leave every man they can in the Berrylund in any case if they think they might have to feed wintering mercenaries as well as their own men. That leaves the Knights of the Rebel Lords and whatever mounted retinues the Kinglund gentlemen provide him in scutage. We easily outnumber them in horse and bows.”

A red headed man you vaguely know as the head of the Ethesis Guardsmen but not the name of chips in
    “Aaahh but beging your pardon Ser I spotted a few Palvarsae flags in their number and I know for a fact they train all their men in pike, sword and crossbow. We can’t be certain till there is an honest deployment what disposition they have, so far we have managed to force rushed scraps on them. It could be he has the funds to recruit nothing but the sort of heavy infantry that can fend off cavalry” the others nod in agreement.

With a sigh Ser Thomas says
    “I’d imagine if there is to be a major battle we will only get the one chance at it before winter really sets in and the snows come. It will be a slow road from Ecthesis and the Berrylunds until the planting is here again.”

Fenton nudges Byron and they share a grin when he mutters something about having a few ideas on keeping lazy mercenaries guarding the minor outposts on their toes if bad weather ends up preventing any major battles.

The Duchess/Queen speaks up to join the strategic conversation though perhaps by habit it comes across slightly as a command
    “We had best look to making any battle we get count then. The regent will be in the same position in the fallow season and paying mercenaries to sit idle if he would risk no schemes. If we aren’t able to force a conclusion to his whole affair before winter then it seems prudent we focus our efforts on securing as much of the coast as we can.” She gives a wry smile “Really it is most inconvenient that the good Tribune and his companions didn’t find the crown in spring and leave us all summer to manoeuvre about the Divvy,” there is general good natured laughing around the room before she give Valerian an almost sympathetic look as she changes the conversation “Though circumstances have forced you personally to fight on our side in earnest at least twice now I must be truthful and tell you that the Regent would likely have interceded before you were killed and settled on expelling you from the borders. Even if he is now perfectly willing to hang the rest of us and he obviously and wants no foreign involvement that he is not paying for in this Aravigian war, he is not fool enough to kill a Marian official. His son and his thugs were likely caught up in the hysteria of killing a tyrant,” she gives a sad smile and looks off into the distance a moment, “it makes one wonder how often they had talked of killing me, rehearsing the scene if their minds…” she blinks with a faint cough “Still I must ask if the events of today have changed the official position you advise to your superiors?

A decision had already been made before your arrival that the impromptu flotilla was to make for CaerLok Castle, the major port on the southern side of the lake in Dulmorth, and hope that the enemy hadn’t sent forces into those lands before heading north in pursuit. Faster ships were sent ranging ahead just in case to wave them off if the docks weren’t friendly in which case you would be forced to travel round to the Western shore of the lake which would be all the way back into Ecthesis proper.
Two days later though the news was good however, the docks were secure as no enemy had been spotted in the Earldom and the situation was less dire than some had feared. The amry rests a day in Carelok and leaves behind the worst wounded taking from the garrison replenishments of supplies, knights and guardsmen before a four day fast march across the Earl of Dulmorth’s lands with the tall battlements of Dulmorth Castle itself coming into view just as the sun sets. While the city is well protected by a strong garrison the bulk of the army that marched from Ecthesis is not to be found within. Late that night another gathering is called and all are updated on the last reported movements in the Earl’s Divy.

The Earl’s eldest son, the tanned and grim faced man you vaguely remember the face of from the feast hall before your trip to Lokston, had indeed been busy but only because on hearing of the enemies move to follow the Queen he had decided to cross the Hudswold and rapidly strike deep into enemy lands. The runner from his army to the Dulmorth garrison arrived mere hours before you and bore a note to inform them that the forces he had with him had won the minor engagements at Hollyhead and Warrington and was now setting up a siege of Dalham itself without sight of any forces from the Kingsfort or the Barons Hatheril and Kaling. Very late in the night of your arrival another council is called in an upper chamber with a map of the Earl’s divvy laid out with all the complied reports to hand about what forces had been spotted where and when.

The Roll20 landing page is that map, as per last time green territory is that nominally under Ethesian control, Beige is under the Regent’s control and white is undeclared. Stags are royal forces and crosses are the last know positions of the regent’s armies. The Ecthesian Reinforcements in the far west and the Kingfort Army at the East are both “in potential” armies rather than being actually representative of known gathered troops.

*The eldest son of Bromwood Braxton The Baron of Beasley and the man who stood guard over the shadow monk while he worked his black arts over his younger brother.

**Fenton Golsard, a young man that has been in the very front every battle to date and is always the first to charge. He is clearly looking to make his name in the war as much as any natural blood lust or bravery he has. From what you have seen he is skilled both as a single swordsman and when in formation. He is the de facto voice of all the knights that were in the army that left Ecthesis and not part of a particular order, those representing an absent Lord. Popular with most he has become the speaker for the general concerns of those that as individuals fall directly under the crown or are part of the general collection of un-landed sons of nobility.

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:54, Tue 21 Nov 2017.

Wizard Drast
 player, 15 posts
Sat 4 Nov 2017
at 13:51
Re: Ecthesis Castle
During the hours after the battle and before the meeting, Drast roams about the ship, greeting the soldiers and commending their contribution towards the battle, in amongst this, he also helps out where he can with the general post-battle activities. When the majority of the work has been completed, Drast attempts to entertain the two kids with some slight of hand tricks, riddles and games to keep them entertained and keep their mind off what happened.

Part way through the meeting, Drast casually walks in. Placing his most wizened look on his face, nodding in agreement at seemingly random intervals and sipping from a hip flask almost in a parody of an inconspicuous manner before it disappears up his sleeve.

Drast spends the two days on the ship continuing to interact with the people on the ship and attempting to actively build a rapport.
 GM, 81 posts
Sat 11 Nov 2017
at 16:03
Re: Ecthesis Castle
There is a marked change in how the folk of the Queen’s army respond to you. When first you marched from Ecthesis the guardsmen had been always at least polite and the knights mostly tolerant at worst as you were a guest of the Queen even if at first that had more been a facet of your association with Valerian. In general they had treated you no different from any other person they did not know and judged you on your behaviour. Over time you have made friendly acquaintances here and there but now even those you had shared evenings drinking with after a long march now grow quiet at your presence and merely nod respectfully. What had been an admiration and deference to your power as displayed at the skirmish on the bridge has now become a strange form of reverence that has a cautious edge to it0. It is not the open resentment you faced from almost all sides in the Marian Empire or the very obvious fear that dangerous mages of your homeland generate in the populous of the cities they lord over. They are not scared of you as a threat but are paying particular attention and are wary in your presence seeming to carefully evaluate each word you say or slightest action for a hidden meaning. They seem to assume everything you do however strange serves some mystic purpose that to their observation so far has worked vastly in their favour and rescued their leader from certain death twice at least along with a general presumption of allot of things they don’t know about.  Even though you yourself have little to no idea about it all, the default assumption is that even Dain and his party arriving suddenly at precisely the right moment at the right time to play a key role in saving the day in the last crisis was some machination of yours. Even if you should swear it was not your plan to have sent him as your agent to fetch Ser Thomas from Numoria for some as of yet unfulfilled purposes and worked it all out that they should arrive at the Basilica by a hidden path to arrive at the most needful moment and the most needful time, they nod with a knowing smile assuming that as with your extravagant persona of being a road trickster it serves some purpose to you to have a façade. Even if it were your desire to remove this view of you they have as secretly powerful and wise mage it would be almost frustrating that at every turn they nod sagely and do not argue with you saying “Of course” and “As you say” in such a way that it is quite clear that they do not believe your claim to being anything less than extraordinary.
So during the trip while you help stowing supplies, attempting to carouse and be friendly while helping in all the general business of sailing across the lake you notice that those about you stand taller and you are the focus of their attention regardless of what they had being doing before, none wishing to be less guarded with you and inadvertently be the one to offend the eccentric wizard that has become the armies lucky charm. You are quite convinced that you could tell any given knight to jump overboard in full armour at the drop of a hat and they would comply thinking that you had foreseen it being somehow to the Queen’s benefit or simply just not to annoy you by refusing.

Even when you walk into the room with the leadership who for the most part have been bred from youth to have the sort of ego that makes everyone at best their equal, the room goes quiet until it is apparent you have nothing to immediately say. Your charade of hidden drinking actually causes one of the Lords who you know from experience likes a tipple more than he probably should to actually stop half way in reaching for a goblet of wine, he pulls back his hand with a clenched jaw and does not go for it again the rest of the night nor takes wine with his meals any night since that you have seen.
The one person you do make progress in building a friendship with however is the young red headed girl “Ann” that Dain has brought with him from the north. She has busied herself with what tasks she can help with much as you have and she is utterly oblivious to your status, she is also earnestly delighted by your tricks wishing always to know how it is done. <<Roll Insight>>
Ever by her side is the less useful Cassandra who generally just stares at you with a blank expression when you try to amuse them, now you get to spend some time with her at a close distance something about her reminds you of that other dwarf that you freed from captivity in the Dungeon of Eyes and briefly travelled with you before vanishing on his own errands. It could just be the rough height for all you can sense.

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:11, Tue 21 Nov 2017.

Valerian Hawke
 player, 37 posts
Tue 21 Nov 2017
at 14:02
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Valerian responds to the Queen.

"Ma'am, the Regent may not be fool enough to kill a Marian official, but he was fool enough to insult a scion of House Hawke, an error I feel needs to be corrected. What's more the Regent defies the will of the Spirits, and is it not the duty of every good Son of the Empire to serve the will of the Spirits who will serve the Emperor Yet to Come? As for the more political concerns, my uncle the Minister of State has ordered me to support your cause and your people in whatever way possible, with the resources under my command."

At this Valerian smiles and sits. Should the discussion turn to tactics and strategy Valerian asks about the likely effects of a chevauchée. Suggesting a strike at the enemy's ability to feed his armies over winter with small, fast, raiding forces might limit his ability to fight when the winter ends.

In the period between the meeting and landing at CaerLok Valerian finds Dain, and asks for a report of his adventures.
Wizard Drast
 player, 16 posts
Fri 24 Nov 2017
at 19:06
Re: Ecthesis Castle
A slight change in Drast can be noticed after the last battle when talking to those in the Queen's army. A change caused by the subconscious recognition of the new light Drast is seen in by the Queen's army. He begins to reflect upon his actions since aligning his cause with that of the Queens. Whilst still working to develop his mysterious nature, he begins to consider his words more carefully due to the significance the words garner, attempting to add some wisdom to the repertoire of his social interacions. When Drast denies his involvement in the auspiciously timed arrival of Dain and other such occurrences he has not actively influenced and is met with disbelief, he views these interactions first with annoyance, and then with later reflection, bemusement.

Late on in the evening the army arrives in CaerLok, Drast finds Valerian, a tired look to his face and requests the use of his magical healing pendant overnight to be returned at midday on the morrow. If Valerian enquiries further, Drast insists upon it's importance but provides little further information.

This message was lightly edited by the player at 19:07, Fri 24 Nov 2017.

 GM, 82 posts
Sat 2 Dec 2017
at 00:50
Re: Ecthesis Castle
The Queen’s expression had been pensive despite any effort she might have made to veil her emotions as she normally does and a smile that likely could not have been stopped even if she had wanted to is the immediate response to your words of support, offended dignity is something that all in the room can appreciate even if the Imperial Cult does not reach this far out. They raise an impromptu toast to the Empire and the character of its officials while you have the wry thought that for all your grand titles “the resources under my command” is a fairly limited thing they have largely already had the use of and not known it. Regardless they are pleased and the Queen promises to draw up a document of formal alliance soon after a safe harbour is found.

The immediate strategic plans are shelved shortly after as essentially they can be only lightly be expanded on until landfall and more information is gleaned about how matters have developed during your trip to Lokston. As is the wont of those gathered they begin to talk of battles past to review tactics in a general sense but as much as anything else for the elders to reminisce. Some excuse themselves now that official business is concluded and others replace them as various conversations start. In asking after raiding tactics you end up talking to Fenton Golsard and Byron Braxton who before shared a joke about just such methods, you are joined by Brandon Braxton* and a knight of comparable age they call Sam. You quickly learn that raiding in general is mostly done to steal or destroy actual stores and resources in this country when it is done at all rather than being aimed at damaging long term production or killing men. Given that the history of the Kingdom is not all that long they haven’t had much cause to practice it internally particularly as most fortifications were purpose built to withstand and outlast perpetual roving Orc bands that rampantly dominated the last century of this land. The newer villages built in the years since may be a better target but given the war is being fought generally speaking over the land and people that live in it they are dubious over the wisdom of some of the more… aggressive raiding tactics the Empire developed and honed in the now ancient Sitathian Wars with the Princedoms across the Golden Sea. Such tactics were employed to great effect when it became evident outright conquest was no longer possible and object of the expedition became to cause enough damage to the enemy to forestall any counter invasions. While that goal was achieved most handily and caused favourable terms for the end of that conflict even within the Empire questions were raised about some of the more vehement methods that it was over a hundred and eighty years, two supported popular regime changes and substantial investment before diplomatic relations were repaired.

Still they listen seriously to whatever Imperial strategies and tactics you would suggest and are very much sold on the idea of putting together some form of dedicated raiding force for winter manoeuvres should that need arise. They also answer any questions you might have about the military background and battlefield experience of the Aravigian nobility either in general or to the best of their knowledge in in the specific.

*The youngest son of Bromwood Braxton the Baron of Beasley, you were involved in saving his life using your leverage over the strange assassin.

Will wait for the Amulet conversation to play out before going further.
 player, 34 posts
Sun 10 Dec 2017
at 22:08
Re: Ecthesis Castle
In reply to Valerian Hawke (msg # 70):

Dain is in high spirits when Valarian finds him, answering questions from a young girl named Ann about what different parts of the ship are called. As far as you can tell Dain has no idea what bits of a ship are called, but he enthusiastically, guesses anyway.

"Ah Ann, that be a steering wood, yeh use it tah steer the ship, turn it left and right yeh see"

When Valerian comes over Dain quickly drops the boat subject and heartily greets Valerian "Valerian! Still in one piece ah see - although lucky fer yeh ah turned up when ah did - although ah never tire of saving yeh and Drast's bacon." Dain gives Valerian a jovial elbow in the ribs "oh and have yeh met Ann" pointing at the girl "future slayer of orcs, and caster of spells ah wager. Met her up north, and she a'int no place to go, so she's mah ward now” Dain laughs and gives her a light pat on the back “off yeh go lassie, ah need teh talk tah Valarian here”.

After Ann scampers off Dain turns back to Valerian and, although his face loses some of its light heartedness, he seems in higher spirits than you have ever seen him.  The normal barely contained rage and wound up muscles, seem absent – and he seems more relaxed than you remember. Dain starts talking “Aye Valerian, a long tale ah bring yeh…" Dain starts describing the events that unfolded in his normal verbose manner, starting with Valerians orders to head North to collect information on the orcs.

He tells you of his early encounter with a band of Knights led by a resolute fellow called Ser Thomas (you will have likely already met him as he was one of Dains companions who helped save you from the castle ambush). “Now, after meeting the knights, that’s when things got interesting. Not ah day after groupin up with Ser T’s gang, we met ah young girl on the road.” Dain gestures at Ann “Ann”. He then tells you of Ann’s ruined village and the terminal revenge Dain, Cue and the knights visited on the bandits who had taken the village. Dain talks of the chaos up north. Bands of brigands raising villages, human savages displaced from the steppe beyond the mountains by the advancing orc horde, and strange movements by The Red Rose Guild – the group behind the stockpile of Mithril yourself Dain, and Drast had acquired in Tibbers brooke.

Dain stops for a moment after telling you this and grabs a nearby canteen of water, taking a long swig before continuing. “After Ann’s revenge waes satisfied, we set forth again for Tibber Brooke. But it seems the spirits themselves had taken against us. Nah sooner had we set forth, than we encountered a gargantuan fiend – ah giant human like monster who smelt worse than an orcs armpit…” Dain tells you of a battle on the road, the Knights, Cue and Dain fighting the enormous Humanoid who had been attacking another nearby village. Dain and the knights eventually bring the monster down, nearly crushing the group in the process. Then, in a particularly verbose manner, Dain describes a somewhat unbelievable feat of strength - that he single handedly lifted the giant off the body off the other knights. However, as Dain describes his heroics, he trails off, lost in thought, his mind thrown back to the fight with the giant, and the aftermath. After a long minute Dain recovers his thoughts and says “an where were we?”

“Ah yeh, then ah woke up in Tibbers Brooke. Knights and Cue dragged mah sorry behind back tah the town where ah recovered…” Dain then tells you of the town. Spurred on by the orcishing threat they are proving an industrious community, reinforcing walls, forging arms and armor, preparing for a siege.

Following his quick update, he then leaps into another story “nah, ah had only just recovered mah wits when once again ah was once again called teh the good fight…” Dain thinks for a moment “well maybe not ah fight, but ah challenge fer sure”. He tells you of his encounter with Ur-Nungal, the orc who now accompanies Dain and who you remember is the Orc from whom Dain had seized the mystical axe he currently wields. Ur-Nungal, following his defeat, at the hands of your group and Michael the good, atop the snowy mountains, had taken it upon himself to hunt Dain down and retrieve his axe, which apparently holds some significant meaning for the Orc. Dain then describes a dual between himself and Ur-Nungal, a hand to hand wrestling match. Dain is slightly less verbose at this point, and quickly leaps forward “an then, ah won, and kept mah axe” Dain stares at you at this point, almost daring you to probe any further on the matter.

Dain quickly moves on, taking another swig of water “now, ah had mah orc, as per yeh orders, and was preparing tah return from the North, however things took a complicated turn” Dain gestures once again at the small girl “lot of fire in that one, maybe a little too much…” Dain tells you of Ann and the towns children absconding into the Northern woods, and his pursuit. “We were catching up with the little devils, but that’s when we came across the Grey orcs, and the demon…”

Dain tells you of savage grey orcs, a different kind to Ur-Nungal, who would explode when fought. He describes a cave with foul magic afoot, and a hideous, horned demonic orc, whom, in typical Dain fashion, he butchered with his axe. “After ah had fought the demon orc, ah was on mah last legs. Orcs had taken Ann and the kiddies though, an ah needed to see them safe. Went further into the cave – perhaps a bit foolishly given mah condition. Dinnae see the bugger who coshed me over the head. That might have been the end of ol’ Dain if it weren’t for Ann over there”. Dain then describes Ann’s feat of magic, incinerating the Orc and its pet hounds. “She’s a special one alright – gonnae see if Drast cannae provide her with some guidance. She sure as hell needs some”. Dain points to some still fresh burn marks on his arms.

Dains voice starts to strain at this point, the tale stretching on “We returned to Tibber Brooke, and again prepared to return south” he sighs and, a flash of annoyance crosses his face before nodding again towards Ann “but again the little trouble maker disappeared. Caught up with her quicker this time, but when we did, that’s when I encountered our old friends – Mr Lizard face himself, Mereck el Dorn and the Elf Lassie” Dain tells you of Merecks suggestion that Lady Lassëhwesta could help get Dain and his party back south. Eager to shorten the long trip, Dain agrees to the suggestion and he, Cue, Ser Thomas, Ur-Nungal, Ann and Mereck re-enter the Mad Mages dungeon.

“We returned tah the titanic hall at the end of that place – the elf lassie was studying the magic travellin device…. Dain trails to a stop, and a slight pause before slowly restarting his speech “Ah was eager tah get goin, get back here and report but…” again he pauses before continuing “Ah know this last year has been strange Valerian, Spirits, Gods, Magic.. but it were in that Titanic hall ah had the strangest experience of all. Yeh may not believe me, but it was there that again Alethia herself spoke teh me.” Dain turns and looks off into the distance, deep in thought “she called me Dag-Hadah, and spoke strange prophecies of the The Dreamers, the girl of Chivarly with short raven hair and of Drasts quest for ancient treasures.”

He pauses before turning back to you, a his face set in a serious frown. “But most of all Valerian, she gave me a task. She called yeh son of the the storied folk and that I was teh protect yer life.” Dain suddenly takes a knee in front of Valerian “Valerian, ah know ah have protected yeh life thus far, but here and now ah make a vow to redouble mah efforts, and ensure yeh ah protected in yeh tasks to come. I cannae say I can make head nor tail of the words of spirits, but ah know my place and mah purpose is clear” Dain takes a knife from his belt and lightly slices across his hand “Valerian ah swear now on my blood, mah honor and mah kind ah shall protect yeh come what may” he holds out his bloodied hand to Valerian, still clenching the knife.
Valerian Hawke
 player, 38 posts
Sat 6 Jan 2018
at 15:10
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Dain takes a knife from his belt and lightly slices across his hand “Valerian ah swear now on my blood, mah honor and mah kind ah shall protect yeh come what may” he holds out his bloodied hand to Valerian, still clenching the knife.

Valerian is stunned for a moment but quickly comports himself.

"If you are sure of this." When Dain affirms Valerian draws his own blood and clasps Dain's hand looks the dwarf in the eye and says in Marian (as opposed to common)
"[Language unknown:  Ee ll Llniil Salaet Al wiiswh ave iomeho to, onsthuwhi nanesa st ho saeven ai ie Eareralar. Ainel lllo wi m reder. T etss iness comfornde ntmape en essek ar ad sstadi Fo no ore the wheantwiltio nicon t red. Te Strted-oneted Eaustaresnotect Anadet'ngos ekanst e virurevir tio thaortkor ous und vorprehas omlang, ek setal uling miati tra eauanycon it ainverfor m wilentiouenc ll a diisch ngar le K icaichthu et Asom ll ven no esttedhis ou ma hobeat e ounut se lin el olitro ter m.]"

Oath complete Valerian pulls Dain to his feet and says "If you're sure about your ward I'll sign the paperwork as Magistrate and make it all legal, in Marian eyes at least."

When Drast approaches Valerian, he is at first loathe to give up his periapt but Drast's urgent manner convinces him to at least accompany the mage to see what he needs it for.

This message was last edited by the GM at 17:42, Sat 06 Jan 2018.

 GM, 83 posts
Sun 7 Jan 2018
at 22:51
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Assuming Drast doesn't object to Valerian coming with him-
Wizard Drast
 player, 17 posts
Thu 25 Jan 2018
at 19:36
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Lah lah lah can't hear me

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:02, Wed 31 Jan 2018.

 GM, 84 posts
Thu 1 Feb 2018
at 00:31
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Dain still isn't here! Where is that lazy dwarf?
Wizard Drast
 player, 18 posts
Sat 10 Feb 2018
at 11:17
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Drast watches the woman in silence for a moment, when no one else speaks up, he speaks, weary from a night without rest.
"You were all but dead, but thanks to the ingenuity of this here physician, you are restored, or at least, on the mend. A choice was made, a choice to place your life before the lives of two others. One that may still live, should we continue to focus on his healing, but one is beyond the veil. Your life, make it a good one, you may now be living for two others as well."

He pauses for a moment, considering the revived woman.
"I am Drastarin, I am here because this physician called upon my aid. Would you tell me about yourself, how you came to be mortally wounded?"

This message was last edited by the player at 11:39, Sat 10 Feb 2018.

Valerian Hawke
 player, 39 posts
Wed 21 Feb 2018
at 21:18
Re: Ecthesis Castle
21:16, Today: Valerian Hawke rolled 16 using 1d20+2 ((14)).
Valerian Hawke
 player, 40 posts
Wed 21 Feb 2018
at 22:19
Re: Ecthesis Castle
What happened?

"You were healed. By the Wizard's magics and the grace of the spirits. The boy may yet live if the Wizard can do it again."
 GM, 85 posts
Sun 25 Feb 2018
at 19:59
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Dwarves should mind their own damn business

This message was last edited by the GM at 13:30, Mon 26 Feb 2018.

Wizard Drast
 player, 19 posts
Sat 3 Mar 2018
at 14:31
Re: Ecthesis Castle
To the mercenary "The boy may yet live, though his chances are faint I fear. I think the answer to that question will become clear over the next day or so."

Drast speaks to Valerian "I will stay here for the next day, see if his condition improves. I will return what is yours in a day, by that point I think we will know whether the magicks has succeeded or failed." As an afterthought, Drast adds, "If your heading off make sure you get a servant to bring some good wine and food. A wizard requires a full stomach to magick." Drast emphasises this last part with a wink.
Valerian Hawke
 player, 41 posts
Wed 7 Mar 2018
at 12:01
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Valerian nods his head to the wizard, smiles at his jest, and heads off to find the dwarf. Valerian makes a point to stop off by the messing area to get the staff to send the medical tent some food and wine.
 GM, 86 posts
Tue 13 Mar 2018
at 15:14
Re: Ecthesis Castle
The forces that arrived from across the lake in the night rested for a day in the walled town and move out early on the following morning. The Lord of the castle had been in the company of the Queen but agreed to stay behind with a few extra knights to bolster the garrison and oversee the replenishment of the stores in case the enemy force that were escaped at Lokston sent a force across in what few boats were left on that side of the water or chose to swing across the south shore of the lake on their way back into the divvy in preparation for a siege around Dulmorth or on some mad dive into Ecthesis proper. Caer Lok is not the biggest castle town you have seen in Aravigia but it has strong walls and it would take substantial and costly effort to take the fort from determined defenders even with vastly greater numbers. If supplies could be gathered in time it could last quite some time under a siege, long enough at least for word to be carried and a relief to mobilise.

((Should they wish to do nothing in particular during the four day march to Dulmorth Chip and James are now caught up to the DM post on Mon 25 Sep 2017 and are now ready for the next session))

Drast who remained at Caer Lok for a day-

The Queen’s physician and most of his team left with the rest of the army but two of his juniors stay behind to help the staff of the castle in tending to those too wounded for immediate battle. He left specific instructions that the mercenary was to be kept sedated with drafts of a sleep inducing potion added to the porridge that was to be her only sustenance for at least three days. When you return at the allotted hour to check on the progress of the young knight the elder of the novice healers was spoon feeding the mercenary as though she were a child, the induced drowsy state the concoction appeared to create made it necessary and though inflicting such intoxication seemed cruel you are left with little doubt that it is for the time being required having witnessed her nearly undo your work to save her life.

The young girl was back, sitting quietly on a chair by the young knight’s bedside writing something on parchment braced on a book, she looked up at you with clear fright in her doe eyes but said nothing and withdrew to a bench up against the wall of the room. The junior physician nodded at you and cleaned spilled porridge up before tucking the swiftly unconscious woman firmly into her bedding. He moved over to the other patient and went through the routine you are becoming familiar with; inspecting bandages, holding an ear against the chest, gripping a wrist and counting quietly but there is also the unusual extra step of cupping a hand over the jewel of the necklace about his neck to see if any light radiates from within.

The apprentice healer chews his lip when he speaks to you unable to stop his nervousness (at your presence? the situation?) from creeping into his voice, he can’t be much older than the young knight now you look at him properly “It glows still sir and he lives but…” he struggles for words for a moment starting half a word before abandoning whatever sentence was in his mind for being inaccurate “…well normally is wounds would be infected and the lack of blood would be causing insurmountable complications” the last two words are uttered without his normal accent as a clear mimic of whoever it was that first used that euphemism in front of him “but the err… magic seems to be keeping him going and clear of the err normal problems so…” he gives a shrug “he might well be healing the normal way a body does while the magic stops him dying-” and he gives a quick guilty look at the girl who is staring at you both and already welling up quietly “-but…well that’s slow going sir and not much we can do to speed it up really so I have no way of being sure. Most of a healers work is keeping things clean, in a few pieces as possible and fuelled while the body sorts itself out or… well not.”

He gives a cough and turns to face you, deliberately or not also turning his back to the girl “What’s to be done sir?”

At least part of the cause for his nerves becomes a little clearer. The magic clearly isn’t working as before by providing the sort of explosive instant restorative power that you have seen it work before on Valerian or in a diminished but still potent way with the mercenary. It is this junior healers hope that the necklace will work in the long run by giving the boy time to heal naturally but he is a professional at some level and certainly scared stiff of telling you anything but the irrefutable truth. It is just a hope and he knows that, he has no real proof or evidence, no way of knowing if the magic amulet has enough power to keep going for long enough (which thanks to your infuriatingly unreliable magical senses at present neither could you even if you understood its workings) and he would also likely not argue or even hold it against you to retrieve this antique device of arcane power to use in all the hazards it is imaginable you will face while about your wizardly deeds which are most likely presumed to be all greatly important beyond the value of one man. To this magically backwards continent such an item is the stuff on which their legends are pinned, it is a rare enough thing that even in your homeland it would motivate at least attempted theft and ironically enough murder.

Valerian’s reputation would survive the loss of one more soldier in a war he is only voluntarily involved in. Your mystic as a beneficent prophet would likely only grow at being the hand that lifted away the item to bring it back to the Marian officer, of such stuff are legends made as well. They might well whisper that you saw dark deeds in the boy knight’s future or that in a trance you struck a pact with the spirit of the youth to lay down his life so that the gem could be brought in time to save Valerian or some other worthy from a doubtless pending mortal danger. In time regardless of what you said there would probably even be those that would swear blind they had been in the room at the time and heard a great pealing bell in the distance or a thunderbolt on a cloudless day. Though the drab weather was perfectly normal for the season and the air perfectly unremarkable in all particulars of fact it had the feel to you of the sort that if the events were disseminated would take on a life of its own. Magical in the sense of the trickery you revelled in even if it lacked for the genuine article of the divine or arcane.

So again a choice before you, to try and choose the best path by dealing only with the strict knowns or possibly cost you and yours for a hope.

This message was last edited by the GM at 15:17, Tue 13 Mar 2018.

Wizard Drast
 player, 20 posts
Sat 31 Mar 2018
at 16:04
Re: Ecthesis Castle
Addressing the physician "Magick cannot work against the will of the world, of fate. I think the lad's future is in the hands of the gods and not in the arcane. Nevertheless, I will stay with him for the next three days. Whether his condition improves in that time or not, I must take my magick and make my way to the side of the queen, or to whatever finds me in the interim."

Drast spends most of his time with the injured, but leaves the room each day for several hours making sure at least two guards are posted when he leaves. He spends time exploring Caer Lok and surrounding areas, being amicable with the locals in the local tavern, and helping out around the town.

Where able, he spends time talking and building a rapport with the injured mercenary during her bouts of consciousness. Drast also spends time being introspective;looking inward specifically towards what he wants to achieve and how to go about doing so.

After the three days have elapsed, regardless of the condition of the young noble, Drast bids the physicians and the mercenary farewell, requisitions a horse and spare rations and travels on horseback to attempt to catch the warband.