Episode 14: Restoring Order
A Norjord Ship on the HorizonJust as you reach the lion gate entering the city, Vulcan spots a Norjord ship pulling into the remains of the harbor. Ajax tenses as memories of the raid on Froúrio play across his face. Otlyn cries out "That's our boat!" Cille counters, "That's my ship."
Meeting the RøyskattAs the ship is beached away from the damaged docks, you spot Rizon at the helm. Calling out orders, he seems fully in control of the ship. Rizon grins as he yells out to Cille, "Sis! Mom said you forgot your ship!" Rizon Cille yells back, "Why'd she trust you bringin' it?" The gangplank is run out to allow passengers to disembark. You recognize several of the first to leave as former students, and others as the sons and daughters of the great families. As Magnus starts to identify faces, he starts to recognize the pattern. All of those who have sailed are the younger siblings, unlikely to inherit much and would be willing to seek a life and fortune elsewhere. After them comes a mix of freemen and the servants of the first group off. All of these however are bringing bundles of tools and supplies. As he steps towards the gangplank, two familiar figures join them. Hestia flashes an infectious smile and gestures to Ianthe. "And you forgot us!" As the three descend, you notice a stern look on Ianthe's face. The three come up to you and Ianthe gives Otlyn a quick hug. Hestia smile softens and she starts. "Hippolyta thought you might appreciate a bit of help." She lowers her voice. "This is all we could get out before the Assembly was set to intervene." Ianthe looks to Magnus then the others. "Do you have a place we can talk?"
Clearing the CityAjax approaches with Eunice and Hermione. The larger engineer nods to the group. Though he towers over Eunice, he defers to her. "No, go ahead. It was your idea after all." she says, encouragingly. Looking somewhat embarrassed he looks at the group slowly considering each face before begining. "We need to get through the city and clear any remaining risen dead before they can get loose into the night. I'd like to work with Eunice to organize teams to both clear the threat, but also make the houses habitable for the refugees, as well as those who have just arrived." He pauses for a moment before continuing. "We would need groups consisting of two combatants, and four non-combatants. Hopefully one of those can be an engineer, artisan or someone good with the basics of woodwork or stonework." "Each of these groups would work their way through the city. The non-combatants could pry open the door and flood the house with light. The combatants can either enter the house in the light and dispatch the creatures or can catch them as they attack through the entrance. Once they've dispatched the threat, two of the non-combatants can take the body on a sled or wagon out of the city to be burned on the pyres. The remaining artisans can check the house for habitability and mark those safe enough for occupancy tonight." He looks to Eunice, who nods. "And I'd suggest that a quick check for personal items and valuables be performed at the same time. Those should be collected for the common use. We're likely going to need supplies and staples from outside to feed all of the refugees. That would help." Eunice nods again and continues where Ajax left off. "I'll organize those outside the city and handle funeral rites for those found before they are sent to their final rest." Hermione, looking proudly at the two of them, continues. "We can use those who just arrived to help out as well. That should free you", looking meaningfully at all of those who took the oath, "to set up a provisional working space for the assembly and start figuring out just what has happened here. If you don't mind, and she turns to look at Hestia and Ianthe, I'd like to hear what's happened back at Asteriápolis.
Until it's safe to speakYou stay near the ship making idle discussion while Ajax and Eunice organize the new arrivals and explain the situation and the plan to them. Rizon volunteers to join a team as a non-combatant. You give a bit more color commentary to Hestia and Ianthe, but they indicate to wait until it's safer to speak. Ianthe suggests that someone go retrieve the twins before the discussion continues. The newly arrived support is organized into teams, and Ajax goes off to retrieve Kyros and Kallisto as well as any able bodied refugees. Amused, you notice Ianthe hasn't let go of Otlyn since arriving. The familiar friend seems to have improved her mood somewhat. After about a half an hour, Kyros and Kallisto join you. Both of them look paler than usual, and completely exhausted. Kallisto walks with the aid of a walking stick, while Ajax supports Kyros. Hermione and Hestia look shocked and then Hermione speaks up. "We needed to go check on the... school. I think it's safe to go now." Cille approaches Kyros to help him to the school. "Piggyback, or..." Kyros, smirks. "Princess carry." Cille hefts him up, and Kyros smirks -- partly at Cille, partly at Ajax -- and pats her cheek. "Be gentle."
Heading into the cityAs you work your way through the city, Ianthe and Hestia get their first view of the utter destruction. The butchered remains of the ancient dragon remain spread across the moon circle, the scent becoming unbearable until you work your way farther up the ramp. As you turn towards the school, through the administrative district, you pass your first work group carting out a body. The face is contorted in a rageful hunger, and large spear wounds can be seen in the chest. The skin smokes lightly in the daylight. The group offers a grim greeting, and continues on. Magnus mutters. "That is... disturbing"
Discovering the TeachersAs the group finally reaches the top of the acropolis where the school buildings are found, you notice that several changes from when you had to rush down to stop the rebellion. Of the original fifteen bodies staked up in front of the school, nine of the bodies are missing. Of the missing, all of them were teachers who had appeared die from some form of spell, not a traumatic bodily death. Those who had been torn apart or crushed, like Dorothea, remain upon their stakes. The group stops and pulls down the remaining bodies. Magnus and Vulcan help to search the bodies and collect any personal effects or magic items. Others retrieve curtains and linesn from the school to wrap the bodies. Kyros pats Cille on the cheek again and goes "Put me down please." He limps over to the bodies. Placing his hands on the body, they burst into flame. Vulcan, using magic to lift another body -- stake and all -- shifts it over to the pyre. Hermione, noting the similarlity to a spit roast, shakes her head and says "Son, that's just wrong." Cille begins to offer the sacrificial rites. She begins well and then shfits over into praises to Odin and Thor. Magnus, muttering "Mon Dieu!" nudges her and takes over to complete their rites. Ianthe watches Vulcan rotating the stake like a spit and shivers. "Their shades are never going to forgive us."
Entering the schoolAs you enter the school grounds, Hermione suggests that the conference room off of Dorothea's office would be a good place to discuss. "I remember discussing with her when I was a student how the walls were enchanted against spies. Soundproofed and anti-scrying enchantments." When Kallisto glares at her, she smiles. "It was a class project on international diplomacy, our job was to test the defenses." She shrugs and grins at Vulcan. "It was purely a theoretical exercise, of course."
Dorothea's OfficeAs when you left it, the office and the attached rooms are intact. The four Norjord bodies remain, and are now beginning to foul the room, the smell of burnt rotting flesh mingling with the fresh hot summer air streaming in through the open windows. There is a brief and forceful discussion around preserving the bodies or burning them. Magnus asserts himself and the bodies are taken out to be burned. Only then does it become apparent that the newly arrived are unaware of the returning dead.
The conference roomHermione checks the conference room. "The enchantments are still intact." Hestia rolls her eyes. "Drop the act." Hermione blinks innocently. "What? Me?" Ianthe makes a noise of disgust and pushes past her into the conference room. The rest of the group follows her in.
The plots thickenHestia looks around the table at Magnus, Cille, Otlyn, Vulcan, Ianthe, Kyros, Kallisto, and Hermione,. Of the citizens, only Ajax and Eunice are absent. Hestia begins, her voice uncharacteristically icy. "You're probably wondering why we're here. You may be aware my older brother was killed two months ago in a mining accident. The incident convienently occured while Temenos was there negotiating an order for additional labour -- slaves and mercenaries. While an investigation showed that there was indeed a natural rockfall, it was the beginnings of a series of suspicious "accidents", all involving those -- who like my brother -- supported a liberalization of slavery, labour and citizen laws. "Philos and Philea along with the rest of the overt progressives were no longer safe. Even some of the more covert progressives, like Hippolyta were becoming concerned. When news of a credible attack came up through our extended network..." She nods to Hermione, "...they suddenly felt like "summering" in their holdings down south." Hestia looks meaningfully at Ianthe. "While we haven't been able to connect the attack on Ianthe's family with any of the other incidents, we can be sure of it's effects on the politics. Damian and his father have started calling in favors amongst the general population, and several of their allies are active not only within our city, but across the other city-states as well."
The daggerKallisto turns to Vulcan. "Show them." Vulcan produces the dagger, as if out of thin air. Kyros snarls. "Where did you get this?" Vulcan launches into the story, "For you see, while we were rescuing Ianthe... there was a shadowy figure. I pursued her and she threw this at me." He stabs it down into the enchanted table, and the dagger fails to penetrate and falls over. "And there were a lot of spiders." Cille nods. "So that's where they came from!" The group begins to connect the peices, realizing that the investigation that Kallisto and Vulcan have been working on all centered around this dagger. Kyros turns to Kallisto. "You know who's that is?" Kallisto snarls, "What the hell do you think I've been trying to find out?" He says flatly "It's Damian's." Vulcan describes the woman he saw fleeing with Phlios. Magnus shakes his head. "It's too obvious." Hermione interjects. "Anyone taking that type of mission would want some form of assurance." The discussion continues, and Vulcan muses "But why that dagger?" Magnus nods. "Was she trying to tell us something?" Vulcan pause. "Yes, but why connect Damian and Temenos to the Grung and Norjord Slavers?" More discussion around the value of the slaves and being able to "trade" the Drakon slaves for others.
The planIanthe nods. "With my grandfather, Hestia's brother, and the rest of the prominent members of the Meletitís Family out of the way, the progressives no longer have a majority in the Assembly. That's where Hestia's plan comes in, right?" Hestia cracks a tired smile. "Correct. At that point, I began working with Briesis organizing a new colony expedition. If we couldn't stop the hijacking of the assembly, we could at least protect those who would be targets." Kyros interjects for the first time. "But then the miracle happened. Kallisto and her team from the Akadimia accidentally foiled the kidnapping and returned with Ianthe and news that Phlios lived. Suddenly our stepfather and stepbrother could no longer move overtly." Both Hestia and Hermione nod. Hermione adds "So Endimiyon and I helped Briesis create a... vision... of a better future." She flashes a smile at Kyros and Kallisto. "With Vulcan spreading exagerrated rumors of the heroic deeds of Magnus..." She drawls, "Such a hero..." Everyone turns and looks at Vulcan... and then Magnus. Magnus sighs and rolls his eyes. Kallisto bursts out laughing and takes moments to calm down. Hermione pats Magnus on the head. "We hoped to appeal to the mob's sense of romance and drama. The first part of that plan involved driving through the proposed changes in citizenship. By pulling on ancient traditions about exemplary deeds for the state, we would reward the visiting students with citizenship and provide an excuse to both liberalize the citizenship laws, and create an ambassadorial channel with nations outside of the league." Hestia continues. "Hippolyta in turn tried to distract Damian and Temenos by making Magnus a threat. While she was overtly championing Magnus to the assembly as a potential member of the Meletitis family, behind the scenes she continued to play up Kallisto and Magnus's close relationship to Temenos and Damian. Temenos had to address risk to his plans to marry Kallisto off to Damian and thus gain control over the whole of the Megalos estate, and she hoped that it would force him or Damian to make a mistake and expose their plans." Kallisto looks at Hestia with a mix of fury and admiration. Regaining her composure, she responds. "Instead, the attack on the Akadimia killed any chance of that." Hestia looks at Kallisto and Magnus meaningfully. "That's right. I'm afraid that neither Magnus nor Cille are going to be citizens of Asteriápolis anytime soon. When Briseis sent you on, Hippolyta had me immediately gather those at most risk, and turn our "colony" into a rescue mission. Ianthe nods. "Hippolyta came to me directly to warn me another attempt was coming and made me promise to get on that ship. Crethon stayed behind to run the household. He's protected as long as I'm alive." Ianthe turns to Kallisto. Discussion continues around Phlios. Vulcan and Magnus interject that they suspect he is alive, and that he's worth more to her alive. Ianthe's eyes tear up, finding some hope once again. Otlyn gives a quick hug and hands her another cookie. "She asked me to give you this." With that Ianthe hands over a sealed scroll to Kallisto. "She said you'd know how to read it."
The Subversion of the AssemblyAfter a few moments of discussion around the table, Hestia somberly continues. "While we succeeded in getting those most at risk out of the city, the situation in Asteriápolis has gotten worse. While we were en route I received word that the Assembly has met. Temenos and his purchased citizens drummed up fear and pinned the cause on the foreigners being harbored. They convinced the remaining neutral citizens that what happened to Froúrio could happen to Asteriápolis next. It was enough to pass the motions that created Damian's police force, and augment both it and the army with Temenos's slaves and mercenaries. They declared not only war, but also martial law. All of the hoplites present in the city are to report to Damian for assignment to the army or police force." She pauses. "And because of the increased risk from arming slaves, the league has also explicitly ammended the mutual defense treaties to include putting down slave revolts."
Events in FroúrioOtlyn share the details of the situation in Froúrio at the time of arrival and the events of the last night. When the conversation reaches the point of defeating the dragon, Vulcan pauses. "We have a big dead dragon." After a bit of discussion the group, Vulcan decides to utilize the armor to search for dragons. Only Magnus and Ianthe show up as dragon scions. Cille continues on to the point where she discusses the death of all of the Frourio citizens and the group taking over stewardship via the book. Otlyn produces the book, and flips to the pages. Magnus adds, "The leader of the attack on the city was a cardinal of the empire. He was with the dragon, raised the dead, and was working with the Norjord for the glory of Dieu." Hestia frowns, struggling to process. Cille continues. "Otlyn made an impassioned speech, and Kryos helped to out the conspirators as pawns of Temenos. But then they were killed by the Zombies." She describes the battle with the Zombies and the wights.
Wrapping upIanthe stands up and says "This is madness. And I need to pee." As the group opens the door to Dorothea's office, they notice that dusk has settled outside the windows, casting shadows into the room. As Ianthe emerges from the room first, a blue glowing figure materializes in front of her.
GhostSilently, it moves to block her path. Magnus slaps a finger to his holy symbol and seeks out a divine sense (good or evil). As Cille begins to attempt to banish Dorothea's ghost, Magnus yells "Not Evil!"
InteractionAs Ianthe turns to scream, the ghostly glow rushes at her and disappears down her throat. In what seems but an instance, the ghostly light is gone. Vulcan casts web, but Ianthe dances to the side. "You trip over your own feet!" yells Vulcan. Ianthe turns to look at the room. Her demeanor is calm and matronly. It makes her appear taller somehow. She turns to speak and the voice that echos out is not Ianthe's but rather Dorothea's. "I am so glad to see you safe. I am so sorry that we could not protect you from this."
Recomendation"I see you have found the tome. Though the seven are sufficient, I would strongly advise you to bring others you trust on board. The load you bear is far more than what you suspect." Magnus nods. "With what Hestia has brought, we have the foundations for a citizenry." The group continues to pepper her with questions, largely unanswered about who and what was behind the attacks and her death.
Omen"What happened here was just the beginning. The arts that gave power over death have been sealed away for millenia, along with many other dark secrets. Somehow those secrets are loose in the world now." With that, Ianthe's voice takes on an otherworldly tone. "The dragons scions must be at the gates of Eleusis by sunrise. Protect the ancient one, or no one will be able to stop the return of the darkness." While the group debates where the gates might be, Otlyn opens the book to find a map with Eleusis Shrine clearly marked.
SeparationThe ghostly image separates from Ianthe and floats through the room. It reaches out as if to touch Hermione's cheek, and then vanishes. With that, Hermione breaks down sobbing.
Unexpected NewsAs Cille and Magnus look back into the room, they see Kallisto reading the scroll from Hestia, slack jawed. Kyros, sitting next to her, pours over the map. Vulcan, caught by their attention, looks over Kallisto's shoulder trying to read the note. Magnus calls out. "Kitty... what are you doing?" He walks over to Kallisto and places a gentle hand on her arm, asking "What is it?" She begins laughing uncontrollably, bordering on sobs. Kyros, who's looked at the note now, snarls at Magnus. "It's a dowry. Her inheritance." Vulcan asks "So, how about joining us here in Froúrio?" Kallisto calls out to Hermione. "Bring that here." Hermione nods knowingly and brings over a bottle of liquor and they start drinking together. Magnus looks at Vulcan, "What just happened?" Cille spends time persuading the now unintelligable to stay behind while they go to Eleusis. As the group continues to debate, Kallisto calls out to Otlyn in a slurred voice. "Where's the damned book?" Otlyn brings the book over, and Kallisto slices her hand, perhaps a bit deeper than intended and goes to slap it down on the book, missing the edge. Kyros steadies her and she places her mark next to Kyros's, bringing the number of citizens to 8. Kallisto puts her head down on the book and begins softly snoring. Magnus, picking up Kallisto looks to Hermione. "Is there some place she can sleep this off?" Hermione gestures for Kyros and Magnus to follow and takes them to Dorothea's room. Putting her into bed, Magnus strokes her hair away and then places a light kiss on her forehead. He turns and leaves the room. Cille knowingly chides Magnus and makes preparations to collect Ajax and Eunice. Otlyn's wolves look at her in a wordless communication, and then head off to retrieve them.
PreparationsAfter 30 minutes, Rizon rides in one of the two wolves. Ten minutes later, the second wolf returns accompanied by Ajax and Eunice. Ajax reports, "The clearing of the city is complete." Cille updates the newcomers on Dorothea, Kallisto's news from home, and the plans to leave them in charge of the city. Ajax and Eunice exchange looks. "Told you." he says. Eunice places several coins in Ajax's hand and looks petulantly at Cille. "He said you'd leave us behind." After some consideration, they agreed the extra healing would be appropriate. Rizon chimes in begging to go along, but is shut down by Cille. The group decides to get some sleep and depart in the early hours of the morning.
A number of small items or trinkets from the remaining bodies. This includes a couple of rings and a pendant from @Dorothea.