Dustnite's Wrath of the Righteous

Book 3, Session 5: No rest for the wicked
The heroes learned a hard lesson.

"The Tragedy of North Bank; five hundred innocent souls were sent to Pharasma that day. None of us expected the enemy to create a magical weapon of mass destruction, especially of such malevolence in such short time. Could it had been prevented? Perhaps. But may I remind you that the knights of Kenebres with all of their mythical strength and magic, they are still mortal at heart. Alas Xanthir Vang has proven to be an intelligent and frightful foe than the likes they had faced."

—Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

Returning back to Drezen with great effort from Xaremon; the group needed to rest especially for the Wizard in hopes of gathering information of what they had learned and from the hardship of their recent mission. Bardas attended to his duties as Commander. Dolgin was given a major debriefing from Irabeth afterward the dwarf familiarized himself back to city-life and helping the refugees. Meanwhile, Mytho was greatly disturbed at the presence of Xanthir Vang known to be extremely powerful as few dared to challenged his might, not without paying for their lives and with the memory of the chanting ritual of the possessed townsfolk was enough for the magus to seek answers with Aravashnial. Worse, Mytho's mark had grown now straining his left hand in blackness which none had any explanation. Mytho had not felt any negative efforts as of yet when inquiring to Aravashnial if he should tell the truth of his affliction. The elf spoke that it would be a poor idea especially given the temperamental paladin. The black blade was enough of a shock for Bardas.

Daven wanting to learn more of the letter from his father; he sought assistance using what remained of the archives with one of Aravshnial's assistance within in.

After much thought; Mytho inquired Daven asking to borrow the marked bolt; he'd promised Mytho so long ago. Thanking the crossbowmen, Mytho left with the bolt and went to Xaremon when he'd returned to help create an Greater Slayer Arrow. But this one is not meant for the demons. The elf slipped a note around the bolt. 

"This bolt is for those who betray our trust to those who harmed me. Those were your words, Daven. This arrow represents that promise and our bond. This is an arrow of Greater arrow of Elven slaying.

 Use this against my uncle and whom I once called father. I loved him 
but.. now I fear he still has a hold over me. If the worse comes to worse and if I am beyond saving. End me. This is terrible of me to ask of you. But I know you will make the right call, Daven. You always had.

-Love Mytho"

Mytho refused to elaborate further. 

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Meeting Dolgrin Ironhyde
Along with a.. new enemy

"Ah, oh yes. Dolgrin IronHyde. I drank with him once at Balin's inn bar, wonderful cleric of the cloth. Many who follow Imoedae tend to be quite lawful and judgmental. But I knew Dolgrin as one who lives by example and goes out of his way to extend his hand to those in need in one hand and cut down demons in the other. Sadly like many veterans, Dolgrin had suffered and lost much. Sometimes I wonder how he'd maintained his sanity against the odds. Then again, Imoedae smiled upon him delivering him from a grim fate."

Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

WIP

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Book 3, Session 4: Reclaim the Great Dam
Yet their troubles are only beginning.

—-WIP

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Book 3, Session 3: Fight of the Glabrezu
The party ends the reign of a tyrant

Into the depths of the caverns; Be by sheer luck or clever ingenuity perhaps a little of both. The knights crept inside like mice lead by a goblin to free a village from the magic and tyranny of a demon possessing beings from beyond the stars and goblins alike. Little did they know at the end of the tunnels lies a most dreadful of its kin. A ghastly Glabrezu. Four arms grace the torso of this towering monstrosity. The monster's eyes shine with a mix of intelligence and cruelty. 
—Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

The group had finally made it at the end of the tunnel narrowly avoiding exposing themselves to the demonic possessed aliens. Me, nervously states that the demon who had a grip on his kin was around the corner. The group prep themselves as much as they could though buff spells from the spell-casters. But the party completely lost the element of surprise when Daven attempted to get the first shot from the shadows. Only for the demon to see right thought the guise of his invisibility. The Glabrezu chuckled darkly using its power to seize Daven's mind to force it under his influence. But Daven's training to fortified his will paid off; he refused to submit in the face of demons.

The chaotic battle began under the effects of mythic haste; the group seized the attack as Bardas and Me moved forward with Mytho coming in behind. But the demon was not without allies as it commanded it's possessed minions to attack. The goblin "Me' seized the opportunity as the beast savagely pummeled the paladin used his shape shifting power transforming itself into an alien monstrosity. A great purple Platypus with great tendrils matching the demon's sheer size grappling it for the moment thus giving Bardas an opening to strike past it's armored hide. But the demon roars echoed though the cavern as it lashed out to break free of 'Me's' grapple and took it's rage out on Me as the goblin changed back to normal bleeding out. Thankfully Cathren mangued to heal him in time. 

 

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Book 3, Session 2: Onward to the World Wound
Where horrors, secrets and unlikely allies lie

"My children. The World wound beyond Drezen and Kenebres is a strange, terrible and cursed place where Sarkoris folly lies bear. But beyond the horrors, if one with a keen eye knows where to look would come to know it's secrets and sometimes an unlikely ally or two."
-Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

A month had passed is where we last left our heroes. The trial on one of their own had indeed left an uneasy mark among the group especially for Daven. Poor Daven, who struggled in finding his place as he was no longer apart of the army. In his despair, he nearly leaving the group entirely without so much as a notice. Thankfully, Xaremon stopped Daven explaining that the marksmen still had a place in the group and in a sense free from taking orders from Bardas and that Mytho still needs him. Daven realizing of his folly, he decides to stay for the team's sake and sought to strengthen his mind in order to prevent himself from being dominated ever again reconciling with Mytho for nearly abandoning him. 

Many changes had been done for Drezen with news of its liberation and rebuilding spread. Many refugees and those of interest have flocked to this new city protected by the sword of valor further strengthening the city becoming what was once a desolate hopeless place into a growing city of great promise. 

Aravashnial, Mytho and Xaremon worked tirelessly in studying the corruption forge with the help of other assistants and the journal. In the end, Xaremon's assistance in the final rite. At long last, the purifying forge was complete and the group quickly decided that Stoutan's Vane's glaive of Soul Shear shall be an ideal test subject of the purity forge. But the process will take many weeks to be done.

But despite the great progression of the city and no sign of a demon retaliation within the month. Our beloved Knights of Kenebres find that no matter how long they look ahead. The ghosts of their past and sins haunts their every step.


Mytho Sullivan between assisting Aravshanial's efforts, he'd place himself under intense study with few rest on the details the group had gathered and about the Red Viel. Historical documents and evidence point that the Red Viel's magpies that imply that back in Drezen's glory. The Red Viel had held minor influence in the city but it only adds more questions as if how they could leave behind the city and the nature of their disappearance. Aravashnial's study of the stolen notes from Mytho's uncle that they roughly translate a place called The City of Shattered souls. A place somewhere in the north-east but no living soul has ever been to the city and is a place where even demons avoid themselves. Finding the lost location and investigating could find the fate of the Red Viel, most importantly his parent's fate.

Alas the mark on his hand grows ever darker. 


Xaremon worked tirelessly crafting new materials for the group and helping Aravshnial with the study of the forge to trying to understand the conditions of the black lines on Xaremon and Cathran. However on one of his nights in his rare moments of sleep. The tiefling was struck by a vision of a robed familiar woman calling out for help. It was brief but he seen an image of an old church with a bell-tower before the vision and the woman fade away. 


Daven worked tirelessly to train his mind along with the clerics of the citadel for ten days and ten nights. He'd refused to let his weakness ever gain hold over him once more. By the end of those days; Daven came to discover a letter from his estranged father: Sepda Firesbreath, who overheard of his exploits. The letter was an apology for never being their for his son's childhood. Sepda spoke explaining a place of place he had tried to find in his youth but could not nor longer could look into it anymore; a tomb belonging to their family located in a ravine of the worldwound. Perhaps, it will come to better use for Daven than for him. 


Cathran posed herself as a child among the troops under the care of the group until her parents could be found but she was seen assisting Sosiel with the church. She is lost and uncertain of her place among the group as Cathran knew little outside of her secluded life. Cathran is adamant to not join the army even though the party had no such thoughts especially the army are still under the impression that is a mere 13-year-old. But there is slight yearnings to return back to her home village and it grows ever stronger. 


Bardas Syros ever the hard working paladin and commander; he does not rule the city of Drezen but works tirelessly with Arabeth and negotiant with a familiar merchant lord by the name of Horgus. But much still trouble the paladin especially after the encounter with Cassius disturbed of why he was referred as 'Unclean'. So the paladin brought the magus in his office after some tensed moments. Mytho reluctantly explained the nature (But withheld certain details.) before Bardas tried to grab hold of Cassius while holding Radiance. But the moment, he'd touched it. Cassius revealed through a vison and a very dark fate for Bardas, much to Mytho's concerns for the paladin.

Bardas, disturbed quickly dismissed Mytho before being left to his thoughts. 


By month's end, the group has regather together discussing plans with Arabeth for their next move. The orc paladin revealed that while the city has been safe as there has been no signs of demon retaliation as of yet. There has been some activity and concerns in Drezen

  • The river that runs though Drezen has been always dry. There is a way to restore the river which is by removing the dam that blocks the river to the northeast. Destroy the Roche dam and Drezen will have a proper water supply.
  • The Tower of Badun; a great wizard tower belong to an long dead archmage lies in the far north (Possibly the tower is named after him) It has been strangely active as it's fire is seen in the distance but not many scouts could get close. This must be investigated to prevent any demonic forces to take shelter or let any of his research fall into their hands.
  • Rumors of survivors living among the ravine of the Dragon's teeth but we know little of the place but it's suspected to be home of a dragon given it's surname.

The group decided to settle the matters of ensuring the safety and welfare of the city was top priority and it starts with that dam. The group went to gather some supplies even though half of the group already had the means to 'suppress' the need for substance. But Mytho openly admitted he still like to eat now and again having extra food on hand would be helpful. Xaremon, himself suggested buying a carriage with two summoned phantom steeds. One cast by Mytho and himself, so they could ride together though the landscape than buying steeds. Mytho had his doubts if a carriage could even handle the rough terrain of the worldwound. But in the end, Xaremon had got his 'Battle-Wagon' and the group set off into the worldwound leaving Drezen behind for the time being.

Mytho kept watch as the group rode the blasted landscape of the worldwound going westward along the river. Two days of travel, Mytho caught sight of a sight among the ruins of a town. The group naturally investigated the aera finding the strangest sight of a half buried ship made out of bone. But why would a ship, this size be here of all places. So Mytho, Xaremon and Cathe went inside the ship to make sure there is no demons inside as Bardas and Daven kept watch outside. Investigating the ship filled with sand and strange tech of colored bands, buttons and symbols that none had ever seen before, all in seemly in good condition. Xaremon's vast knowledge examined the peices explaining that this is indeed not from this realm and theses strange colorful strands are refered as "Wires'. This leaves both Mytho and Cathe perplexed, none of them had the knowlogde who to work with the complex mechanics of the ship. Yet Mytho was disturbed at the idea of the Worldwound holding more than demonic outsiders. 

But his trail of thought is interrupted when he spot a pair of red eyes in the darkness. Naturally assuming it was a demon; Mytho tried to strike the shadow but missed. A confusion as a bunny hopped out trying to escape before Cathe managed to capture it. The bunny shape shifted again changing into a human child; Xaremon sensed great magic from this stranger. But the shapeshifter spoke in broken tongue and only Cathe's intervention managed to sooth the frightened stranger's fears. Cathe questioned the child on he came across this ship, if he was an inhabitant of the ship. The child's response was he merely been living here holed up to get away from the demon, surviving. In the end, Cathe mangued to coax the shapeshifter to follow them out with food and water which he happily accepted. Although the others declined the offer of a recently slain rat. 

When inquired of the shape shifter's name. They only got a response of "Me is me." which the group decided to go along with the name of "Mee." 

It was ackward to say the least when greeting Bardas and Daven. Me, looked ready to flee again but the group expressed that they are not out to hurt him. They are asking about the demons, they had no reason to hurt Me. So the strange one admitted that he was hiding in this ship because the village was overtaken by 'monsters' forcibly enslaved to do their bidding which was mine strange purple crystals for them. 

Mytho asked if theses invaders if they are demons or tieflings; Me wasn't sure but drew out the creatures of a shovel-headed creature with four arms, nothing Mytho and the others had seen before. But it was clear that theses beings were forcing Me's family and the entire village to mine Nahyndrian Crystals. But yet, Me seem to be hiding something. Yet the call of action could not be ignored espically this setup is close to Drezen. If Me was hiding anything, they were ready for any sense of trickery. The group agreed to help Me save his village and route out theses entities. 

So the group went following Me until the land became to slowly change from desert dunes into signs of life among the rocks into a forest path. They came across the remains of Me's people stacked on the path as a warning which were infact goblins, Me began to undo the stakes unwittingly revealing himself as a smaller than average goblin. This was a suprise to the group, as Me was frightened to see his disguised revealed. In a way, the group found demons more of a threat than goblins having dealt with them on a daily basis. They reassured Me that they will not harm him even as if he was a goblin. They got bigger fish to dry after all. 

So the ground moved further ahead to a wooden fort; they managed to stealth despite their poor luck. Xaremon's invisibility sphere helped the group to maneuver though the guarded tunnels following the shape shifter Me. They discovered theses strange alien beings guarding the place unlike any demon or any planar outsider had ever seen. But they had some close calls like when Me in his cat form was captured before Daven stepped in shooting the alien but found they were protected by a strange shield which blocked the attack but a second strike

 

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Book 3, Session 1: The Trial of Daven Firesbreath
*cue phoenix wright music*




"Alas poor Daven Firesbreath, his trials in Drezen after so much hardship of domination and his deafness at the hands of the demons. Now he finds himself at the mercy of the law of the crusade."

-Willie Nelson

After the trials and tribulations, the group left the cathedral with their prisoner and Aron Kir in tow. However, much to the disagreement to the party. Bardas had quickly ordered Daven to be arrested which the archor gave little resistance but Mytho was most troubled helplessly watching Daven to be taken away by the guards. Aron kir was traumatized by the events of his possession and imprisonment but was put under the care of Sosiel as the tiefling was placed to be imprisoned in a separate cell. The army had lost much in the conflict but in the end they won the city and reclaimed the sword of valor. 

Thus much work had to be done for the dead and the repairs of the city over the week. But preparations of the upcoming trial was also underway. Mytho feared the worse of the possiblity of Daven getting the captial punishment and did his best to be there for Daven as he sat by Daven's cell. Xaremon was asked to be Daven's defense given his skill and knowledge. Cathran was clearly a fish out of water and kept to herself but silently blamed herself for Daven's situation, she had no resentment towards him. Daven was by far the worse off as if his spirit was crushed and ashamed of what he did to the others espically Mytho. 

Bardas, himself had arranged for a fair trial assigning a neutral party member of Stg Kamilo to be the processcutor. Arabeth shall be the jugde in the trial of Daven Firesbreath. The evening was held in a secured tent of a jury of soliders, Arabeth, Anevia, Kamilo and the party were among the trial as the accused was led in. 

"Daven Firesbreath, you are accused insubordination, Dereliction and two accounts of attempted murder of a child and a POW. How do you plea?"

Daven stood stoically answering to Arabeth: "Not gulity." 

Thus began a long and tensed trial. Kamilo's argument was that Daven was susceptible to the will of demons and would soon betray the party again against his will and for that reason he couldn't be trusted. Xaremon argued that the party had indeed suffered their own trouble that contributed to Daven's stress which lead to his mental vurlnablity. The group were also as equally susceptible to charm and possession as Daven had been as referenced Mytho admitting to the stand of his close encounter with the shadow demon. In the end, Xaremon put up a good talk but paled to Bardas's presence. However, Irabeth as judge decided that the evidence for this was circumstantial and only accepted the insubordination charge thus she announced for Daven to be stripped of rank and removed from the army.

This was bittersweet as Daven, while spared from capital punishment. The archer was relieved yet he was stripped of his sense of purpose. But only time will tell for now. But despite the words of encouragement; Daven vowed to himself to never again let the demons ruin his mind again. 

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Book 2- The Sword of Valor (WIP)
Work in progress




Welcome my dear children; it has been quite some time. Now come close and sit around the fire with your mead in hand. Let good 
ol’ Willie Nelson tell you another tale of the heroes of the fifth Crusade. 
 

Oh there in the city, once holy and grand.
Now besieged by demon and evil's hand.
The cries of innocents and heroes alike fell throughout the land
Oh Kenebres, she was doomed to die
But in response to injustice and hate
Five Heroes had indeed changed the course of fate.

What began as a motley band of five
Now thrived as mythic heroes of lore
Each hero had their stories and woe
All the while trapped in a war of demonic foes…

Bardas Syros: A paladin of our shining lady and heir to the legacy of Yaniel and the sword Radiance. Not even the grasp of death could sway Bardas yet the hardship of living, the loss of his one and only. Bardas wears his glory and sorrow with pride such as the way of the paladin.  

Daven Firesbreath: Shy, timid if somewhat a bumbling fool of an archor. Tragedy was his life but his heart is pure as snow. He'd struggling to find his place and.. with his shot. Daven’s persistence paid off becoming a deadly marksman outwitting the purifier at his own game and becoming the Purifier slayer. But one of his greatest deed's was inspiring the hope of a lost elf.

Balin Gorinsson: A dwarven inquisitor of Shaylin. Strange but good of heart, who saw the beauty in others, his heart was cold and heart but for it was made out of gold. He strikes down who bore the ugliness of evil with Shaylin’s promise. 

Glim Pemby: The infamous baker, A man of many faces, sliver of tongue and breaker of hearts. This local thief was brutal as he was finesse wielding his twin sickles like an artist. He leaves little but a simple muffin behind as his calling call with death in his wake. 

Mytho Sullivan: Last but not least, this elven magus wielding a mysterious black blade. This opportunistic renegade betrayed the cult of Deskari to escape from their grasp.The death of a city meant little to him for the sake of personal freedom. But the friendship and kindness by a mere human had been enough for pause.

——

We begin our tale in the aftermath of Kenebres and the remaining crusader's were delivered from the most miserable of fates. But much has been lost at the Grey Garrison as the wardstones that once served as the city's protection had lost their power to hold the tide of the Worldwound back. Yet the death of the wardstones for it had given birth to a power greater than any force known to man upon our heroes.

Thus within a few days came Queen Galfrey; the face of hope and head of the Crusaders arrived in Kenebres and by her side were her agents and reinforcements. An eccentric tiefling by the name of Xaremon and Nera, a halfling bard. The Queen addressed the heroes in private at the Defender's Heart.  In light of events and with the now inert wardstone was the loss of the great barrier that prevents the spread of the Worldwound. But it was the price to pay to prevent a greater tragedy as it also left behind five heroes bearing its powers. 

Queen Galfery announces that the fifth crusaders dubbing the group as "The Knights of Kenebres." to be at the helm to counterattack against the demon forces. They were tasked in retrieving the "Sword of Valor' and reclaim the city of Drezen with a force of 100 soldiers. A once great city brought to ruin by a misguided traitorous dwarf paladin by the name of 'Stanton Vaine.". Bardas was named Commander of the army in turn naming Daven Firesbreath as second in command along with a new ally of Xaremon, a tiefling investigator. Other newcomers was Sosiel, a cleric of Shaylin and a.. strange exhausted rogue by the name of Aron Kir. Sadly Glim was to be sent on a more personal mission but departed on friendly terms leaving behind  his signature muffin.


Thus the knights of Kenebres traveled into the lands beyond the safety of the city. But their journey was less than simple; they were constantly beset by threats of enemy armies. They can defend themselves but they were not prepared for the subtle treachery from behind the scenes to those of their own. 

Xaremon had his suspicions but had little to no proof but something was going on. 

Things worsen when they came to the canyon. The group cautioned carefully in exploring the place but they were harassed by the enemy arrows using the higher ground to their advantage. They fought but many had got away but tensions in the group turn for the worse when exploring a cave housing a great and terrible Demon Retriever spurred by the curiosity of the magus. After a difficult battle; the paladin Bardas lashed out on Mytho accusing the former cultist of treachery. 

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Session 19 - The Gray Garrison - We May Be Too Late
Time is running out. Only a miracle can save Kenebres

"Behind enemy lines and surrounded on all sides by demonic filth, our heroes forged a path made of blood and sinew through the treasonous cultists…"

  • Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

The party quickly made their way west to move away from the large creature that approached them in the darkness of the gray stone walls and came upon a familiar face. Wenduag, the captain of the mongrelmen traitors in the tunnels, reappeared with several tieflings in tow shooting arrows deftly into the nearest bystanders. The party proved too much for Wenduag and her followers and they quickly ended her secretly hoping that she had given no information to the demons about their forays in the underground.

The large creature approached from the east while the party was otherwise involved with Wenduag's party and would have likely killed the party if not for Mytho's quick thinking. Mytho conjured an illusion blocking off the corridor as a wall as the party dove in the next room and after several tense minutes the sounds of bones crunching changed to thudding footsteps that grew silent as it moved away.

Happy to still be alive, the party kept exploring the west part of the garrison and came upon another creature cooking something unimaginably awful in a cauldron. Glim and Daven attempted to kill him outright, but their weapons past through air as the illusion fell away and the same creature they saw was now behind him. Fortunately, the creature seemed unable to defend itself against their combined arms and they made short work of him. However, as the creature gave it's dying breath it croaked out,"You're too late….. we've already begun the ritual…"

With renewed urgency, the party quickly took inventory of the room and found two items of interest. One was Irabeth's family sword, which she had lost years ago to Kandro Nyserian, and it was quickly reunited with its original owner. The other item was a note to one Lord Vhane:

"Lord Staunton,

I believe you find the enclosed weapon to be a singular and familiar delight, for it belonged to your old "friend" Irabeth. She sold it to Kandro Nyserian, of all people… I've no idea why. Kandro's been sitting on it for years… Still would be, except his home got smashed by an Ulkreth. Shame. He managed to save the sword and came here, begging for an escort north to Drezen, doubtless so he could give you the sword and weasel some cash to help him set up a new home. I hope you don't begrudge the creativity I took…our friend Nyserian serves now as a warm suit for a vermlek as punishment for only revealing the sword now instead of when he first acquired it. I suspect the blade will take to your brother's touch nicely!

Your Loyal Servant, Othirubo"

The party continued to search the perimeter and came upon Iomedae's sacred altar, now defiled and the dais for offering cracked beyond repair. Bardas and Irabeth both noticed a faint glowing outline somewhere on the wall out of the corner of their vision but could not locate its source, however Glim stumbled upon a small symbol of Iomedae's order, the sword with the sun rising behind it, that was hidden in a visible but subtle way. Bardas touched the symbol and the gray stone wall behind the symbol lurched backwards and revealed a secret room.

Inside this room, which had not been disturbed for centuries judging by the dust and cobwebs, the party found a treasure trove of cold iron weaponry, shields and armor perfect for defeating demons. The party quickly rearmed and made their way east to see if they could find a way to the upper parts of the keep.

They managed to reach the other side of the garrison in due time carefully picking their way through obstacles that had been left behind, however they came across a Schir demon and two cultists picking through the remnants of a damaged library that caused an alarm to ring out.

Afraid that reinforcements would aid the cultist that had rang the alarm, they quickly dispatched the demon and one of the traitors and charged after the runner only to be struck with an incredible pain, "a massive migraine" that occurred and subsided soon after. Shaken but determined they kept moving forward until seconds later a dark, swirling vortex of energy appeared, mauve or purplish in color, and purple fire shot out from the portal in all directions singing the hairs on their arms and deflecting off their armor.

Unsure of this new development, the session ended with the party charging onward with a stairway nearby showing the way up…

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Session 18 - The Fight for Kenabres Begins!
Attack of the grey garrison. A last gamble for the fate of the city

"Our heroes had gathered arms and comrades and through their actions they gathered a force from the ashes of the ruined city. They marched forward to the imposing keep where the future of Kenabres lay…"

  • Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

The party found a group of people arguing heatedly about something as they approached the table. Surrounding this small desk, they were pleased to see Anevia, Aravashnial, Irabeth and Lann of Neathholm as well as an older man leaning over the desk from a chair. Irabeth greeted them warmly and congratulated them on freeing the people from the Purifier's control and introduced them to the old man, whose name was Quednys Orlun.

Quednys Orlun had hawkish features and a scarred face, a grim determination set behind his face and eyes. Quednys and Aravashnial seemed startled by the presence of Mythos but did not say anything to him and Quednys quickly introduced himself as the leader of the Riftwardens in the city. Quednys thanked them for their efforts and invited them to sit down to join their war council and added "You will be vital to our plans in the coming battle…"

Silenced deafened the room as the weight of those words sunk in, which was broken by the clearing of Irabeth's throat. She gazed around the room and started to speak:

"We're grateful for what you did for those people at the amphitheater. We haven't been able to get scouts close enough to the area to even know what was going on and the stories I've heard from the survivors is harrowing…

However, we have bigger problems. I've been going over the materials you recovered earlier and we think we may have some answers. One of the notes you recovered from the Tower of Estrod mentioned the Templars and I suspect this is in reference to the group known as the "Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth". Others thought I was just an alarmist she stares at Quednys for a moment while saying this but I've been gathering evidence about this group for years.

"They have spies everywhere," she says, "and have apparently been among us for decades. Only recently has proof of their presence been manifesting. I personally managed to root out one of their more powerful members the leader of a group called the Hammers of Heaven. We all thought of Staunton Vhane as a model crusader, but as far as I was able to discern, he's been working for the demons for decades. There's even evidence he may have been the one to betray Drezen 75 years ago. They knighted me for that discovery, but I'm still not sure why, since he slipped through my fingers and is out there still, causing who knows how much more damage … "

"I don't think anyone could have expected an attack on this scale, but I know that these Templars must have been involved. Given the amount of cultist activity in the city, I think this is a sure bet."

Quednys broke in with a calm, but strained voice:

"We've also heard of these Nahyndrian crystals mentioned in that same note. We weren't sure what purpose they served but we surmise that these crystals could be used to warp the wardstone's somehow. Unfortunately, our intelligence suggests that the demons are working toward that very goal right here in the city!

Our wardstone was damaged by Khorrazedeh, whom I think you met up close Aravashnial touches the scars where his eyes once were and the party shifts uncomfortably years ago and we thought the wardstone impregnable until this moment. Even now, the shield that protects us from the denizens of the Abyss is still up albeit in a weakened state. The problem we have now is two-fold: we don't know how they plan to use the remnants of our exploded wardstone, and we don't know why it hasn't been removed from the vicinity of the Kite…

Our only option, in my opinion and the others at this table… is to attack and secure whatever fragment is left.

Irabeth continues on after Quednys finishes:

 "As horrific as recent events have been, we've come to realize that they are, in fact, merely a prelude. The razing of the Kite, the destruction of our wardstone, Terendelev's murder, and the assault on the city were nothing more than opening gambits. The Worldwound is on the march in a more concentrated assault than we've seen since the fall of Drezen. It's fair to say the Lord of the Locust Host is finally making his move. The end of this hundred-year-war is upon us, and it falls to us to ensure victory. While the Templars of the Ivory Labyrinth were scattered, those who serve the Lord of the Locust Host himself remain concentrated in Old Kenabres. What we've heard from within the barricade they've erected is ominous. The cultists are waiting for something, and based on our own information and what you've managed to recover so far, it sounds like the vile witch Areelu Vorlesh will soon be coming to Kenabres. And it appears that we've determined what she intends to do."

"When the wardstone was destroyed by the Storm King, it exploded and destroyed the Kite. The network along the border failed, but did not fade completely. I believe this is because a significant portion of our wardstone still exists, and that the cultists have taken it to the old garrison in Old Kenabres. From what we've learned, they're hoping to engineer a way to somehow reverse the field generated by the wardstones-essentially, to use our own greatest defense as a devastating weapon."

"The attack on Kenabres had a predictable result: causing the crusade to gather at the border to defend it. Some wonder why the demons haven't attacked in stronger numbers. I believe that Areelu was counting on us massing along the border, and that if she can corrupt the wardstone field, she can strike a devastating blow against us all. In effect, we've lined up for the slaughter."

"Vorlesh is surely seeking some object of great Abyssal power, likely the Nahyndrian crystal mentioned in the missive you recovered, and with it she intends to turn the source of our hope into an unimaginable nightmare. We cannot hope to evacuate everyone from the border-I doubt they would give up the defensive line even if they knew what the enemy planned. But we can still stop this from happening-we just need to have someone infiltrate the Gray Garrison, locate the wardstone fragment, and destroy it."

Quednys looks at the party and nods:

"This is where you come in. points at the rest of the party and removes a rod made of some unknown material capped with a gemstone from the back of his chair This is a rod of cancellation and it's lucky I discovered it in one of the caches the Riftwardens have all over the city. We believe that if the rod were to touch the wardstone fragment, it's power would be drained and the shield that protects our world from the Abyss would remain weakened but intact.

Mythos interrupts at this: "Would it not be better to take back the wardstone fragment and not make the wall any weaker?"

Quednys replies: "We have neither the manpower nor the ability to prevent something like this attack right now. We have no idea when Queen Galfrey can gather her forces to help us. No, we need to destroy the wardstone fragment before the demons use it for something else. It's going to happen and it's going to happen here. The demons could be attacking another border town, but we doubt it. It is something I don't think is possible in the short term, for the Kenabres stone has suffered numerous attacks over the past several years that made this final destruction possible."

A grim smile creeps across Irabeth's face…

"Almost," she adds wryly, "as if the demons have been planning for this day from the start."

Quednys nods at Irabeth and continues:

"So, there it is. Thanks to your efforts our force is large enough to mount an offensive on the garrison where they are storing the wardstone fragment. The plan is to attack the north side of the keep in force to draw the bulk of the force away from the south entrance. Commander Lann will take his soldiers and clear a way from you all to make your way inside with this rod and destroy the last chance the demons will have to affect the border shield. It's likely a death sentence for us all, but I don't see any other way around it."

The party sat in stunned silence as the words drifted in the air. Bardas vowed his support along with Balin and Daven an instant later. Glim glibly supported this plan as well with his typical casual air and Mytho reluctantly agreed to be a part of this attack.  Everyone in the room looked strain but Irabeth and Quednys relaxed visibly with the party agreeing to the plan.

Irabeth spoke again, his fists tightly clenched:

"I can't let you do this alone, I'm going in there with you. Before you object, I have talked with my commanders and we believe that my knowledge of the keep (albeit foggy within the depths of my memory) and my sword arm would be better ensuring the completion of the mission rather than directing our troops. With Anevia remaining behind to rally the Eagle Watch, I feel it is entirely necessary for me to go along.

My commanders told me that they will need three days to complete their preparations and we will need to attack at night to hide our numbers. Use this time wisely, my friends…"

Before the party could object, the matter was settled. The quartermaster brought them back to their rooms and the entire inn erupted in a bustle of activity downstairs. Weary from the past few days, this is the first time that everyone had time to prepare and reflect.

Bardas spent the time working out the dents and scrapes on his armor, shield and helm working at night for reasons only he has shared. Balin spent the time resting and drinking his fill and cheering the lads gearing for war. Glim spent his time resting and baking blueberry muffins for the soliders, cheering them up with nostalgia and home cooking. Daven spent his time creating more bolts for his crossbow and training the Eagle Watch commanders different tactics he has learned in preparation for joining the city guard. Mytho spent the time in his room talking (to whom, the party was unsure) and spent the rest of the three days trying to learn as much from Aravashnial as possible.

Three days passed without incident and the night of the attack came swiftly. Refreshed by aid and succor, the party set off with an army of 5,000 grimly set about the business of saving their city. Before reaching the edges of the ruins that bordered the intact gray keep in front of the destroyed ruins of the Kite, the party passed the area where it had all began. Terendelev's body was gone and curiously the bodies if the fallen were completely removed as well. The party did not dwell on such matters as they continued their march, but they noted it for later.

Night descended upon the city as the armies gathered at the edges of the ruins. To the north, the sound of battle horns and men screaming shattered the silence of the night as the main bulk of the army set about distracting the denizens of the keep. Lann, Irabeth, the party, and a company of a 100 men charged across the field to make their way into the south entrance.

The party and company made their way swiftly across the field, but were suddenly stopped dead in their tracks as a massive creature erupted from the earth and challenged their way forward. Lann's personal guard circled the beast and attacked it's thick hide, but their swords just melted in their hands as metal touched the creature. Irabeth saw this danger and tried to distract the beast long enough for Lann's guard to retreat, but the creature tore down several men before Irabeth got its attention.

Glim, seeing a ballista unintended nearby, ran to try and ready the siege engine for firing but it took a collective effort from the party to aim and load the siege engine. Mytho managed to guess at the trigger mechanism and launched a log at high speed directly into the heart of the beast and it fell over with a massive thud.

Not willing to believe their luck, Irabeth and the party continued their charge across the blasted field to the entranceway. Lann stayed behind to help his men fight, wishing the party luck as they passed him. The party reached the causeway of the south entrance to the keep and were greeted by a familiar face. Lord Hulrun stared at them from dead eyes, the man that had been announcing the start of the Armasse festival and the former leader of the city, while his body rippled and bulged unnaturally and groans emitted from his sloth-like mouth. Irabeth saw a second person with similar features that she immediately recognized as Kandro Nyserian, the owner of the ruined mansion that the party had found earlier.

Irabeth approached Kandro but was taken aback as the man's clothes erupted with flabby flesh and hairy patches and started toward her. The Kandro-thing and Hulrun-thing both fought against the party's swords and eventually their true nature was revealed as both creatures were exploded from within spraying guts and gore across the party's clothing and armor. Worms or worm-like creatures remained and were quickly squished under Glim and Bardas' boot.

Irabeth remarked, "Kandro Nyserian was one of the city's nobles. I wasn't sure if he was involved with this business, but it appears he must have been…and has earned his reward. He had something of mine that I will probably never see again…"

Irabeth did not elaborate and the party broke their way inside. They ventured inside carefully attempting to be as quiet as possible with Mytho and Glim taking point to try to avoid and potential patrols. Mytho donned his coat that bore the Deskari symbol hoping anyone that came along would see him as another cultist. A patrol stumbled upon Mytho as he made his way into one of the keep's hallways and attempted to detain him when he flubbed the statement he had been practicing, but the party was able to intervene as another fight broke out.

The party made quick work of the patrol, but not before one of the guards roared his battle cry which echoed down the halls of the stone keep. Stealth no long being an option, the session ended with the party deciding what to do next as a footsteps sound from the west and large, thudding footsteps followed by grunts echo from the east…

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Session 17 - The Purifier's End
The mad bird's reign was ended by a single bolt

"The air was electric…literally…"

  • Memoirs of the Great Sage and Eminent Alchemist Willie Nelson

The Purifier, filled with rage at losing his playthings, brought its massive body to bear down on our battered and disheveled party. Bardas quietly silenced his nagging thoughts, "This is where I die, I can't let this creature live…" and brought his sword shield against the creature. Daven remained in the stands in order to rain down a hail of bolts into the Purifier's exposed flank while the rest of the party circled the foul demon.

The fight wore on until dusk settled across the sky with the entire party on the verge of death. The purifier began to dance, an unsettling smile creeping into the corners of its malformed beak, and the air began to crackle with power and magic. The party dove for cover as a wave of electricity washed over them nearly killing Bardas and even damaging Daven a hundred feet away!

The Purifier, exhausted, dropped to one knee with disbelief in his eyes that his final attack did not remove these "unbelievers" from the mortal coil as Daven leveled one bolt between its eyes. The Purifier fell and vanished back to the Abyss, leaving an even more battered party cheering and ecstatic to be alive.

The party quickly collected their belongings and made their way back out of the "arena" to find 60-70 commoners wandering around the market confused and established a makeshift parade that marched silently back to the Defender's Heart. Upon arriving at Defender's Heart with no further incidents, cheers rose from the inn and the camps beyond as the party arrived with their fellow citizens in tow. Men, women, and children rushed to their loved ones and more cheers arose as some families were reunited once again as the quartermaster busily tried to inspect the newcomers and go to the needs of the injured and maimed. Garret and the others that had been badly mauled were sent to the chirurgeon's tent along with the child's mother, her child clinging desperately to her body as they were carried away.

The quartermaster brought the party to rooms reserved for them in the inn and let them rest briefly before returning with word that Commander Irabeth wished to speak with them. Leaving their arms and armor in the rooms, they went to one of the back areas of the inn to find a small desk with maps, scrolls, and drawings spread out and several people gathered closely arguing…

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