Episode 21: Endgame
RecoveryThe group awakens, and finds Ianthe unconscious. After Ajax inspects the poisons found, he believes that while she is not in any immediate danger, she will require significant long term care. After a brief discussion, the group decides to go towards the village. Cille carries Otlyn. Along the way, Cille notices that the group they are following has headed off along another path towards the mountain.
The VillageThe group approaches the small village they saw from above. The village isn't squalid, but certainly isn't sophisticated. Several people are going along their business. Some are sweeping or cleaning their area, others are gardening and other forms of work. Children head out into the woods, apparently to gather mushrooms, nuts or berries. The villagers all have some characteristic other than humans. The villagers closest notice the groups approach. Cille offers a welcome in several languages. Finally the group responds to her query in Drákonic. "Do you have a healer?" she asks. "No, we have no need for that. What do you need?" "Our friend was poisoned." "Did she eat a bad mushroom?" Cille answers, "Our friend was attacked." The villager quirks his head. "By a bear? Or a snake?" "By other travelers who intend great harm," answers Magnus. The villagers look as if they don't understand what has happened. Travelers aren't common and violence is nearly unheard of. "Your God, Chryseis..." "God?" "Your benefactor, lady..." "Oh! Lady Chryseis." "Yes. The Lady. How do we get in touch with the lady?" "You'd go to where she dwells." "How do we get there?" The villager points. "How would we get a message to her?" "Walk." The villager looks confused as to what Cille is asking. Cille looks irritated. "How would you get a message to her faster?" "Run?" The villager appears even more confused. Clearly frustrated, Cille becomes more urgent. "We have to warn her, there are people coming to kill her." The villagers look skeptical and begin to step back from these aggressive strangers. Magnus turns and looks at the group. "I don't want to expose this village to danger. Let's keep them out of it." After a short discussion, the group determines to bring Ianthe along with them to Chryseis' home. Confused, the villagers offer a small hand cart for Ianthe and some gathered fruit. Cille declines the cart. One of the kids stage whispers, "She's really strong. It's like a wedding!" Saarl thanks the villagers. The villagers appear to settle down after the discussion. Saarl returns and holds up his hand to Cille before she can warn them again. "They don't understand. They are in no danger, and all you are doing is scaring them." Cille turns to set off, muttering "Dear Thor, I would not want to live in a place like this."
TrailThe group heads back to the trail they saw earlier. As the group follows along the trail, it's hard to find reason for tension. Peace is the overwhelming feeling. Magnus is set in the mind of his childhood, with Astor Pelletier playing in the woods. Otlyn recalls time spent with Hestia Petrópoulos on the farm, playing with the animals. Vulcan looks at dinner. The group continues a deliberate pace, emerging from the woods. The group sees a domed buliding set into the mountainside. The architecture is completely foreign to group. Marveling at the large structure, the group notices that this area is reasonably heavily trafficked. The group they were following clearly came this way, with everyone walking. Five of the six in the party are heavy humanoid, with the sixth somewhat lighter. There's no evidence of struggle or conflict, just a small pause for discussion before they proceeded into the building. Along the last length of path, Irtokax asks "We have been forced to defend ourselves many times along this journey. The violence in this land is unfortunate, as was the tainted presence we experienced. When you find your quarry, what is it you will do?" "It depends on if they attack us," answers Cille. Vulcan responds very matter of factly. "Probably kill them." "That's one way." Irtokax pauses and looks at Vulcan for a moment, then continues his walk.
WelcomeThe group mounts the long length of stairs and is greeted by two acolytes dressed in robes. Cille approaches. "We seek healing for our companion." One of the monks nods. "Please, follow us." Cille interrupts her before she could turn. "Have any other come here recently." "Several others." answers the attendant without intonation. "Any like him?", asks Otlyn. "Ahh. Yes, the lady has entertained several guests." "Is she ok?" asks Otlyn. Looking confused, the acolytes pause. "There's no reason to fear." As Otlyn begins to ask about the The acolytes stop and firmly state, "There is no violence here." Several times, the group interrupts and tries to explain their point. "There is no violence here." Finally, with the group still interrupting she raises a hand. "You are more than welcome, and we are happy to tend your friend. However, if you are not ready to set aside your anger I don't believe you should stay here." Otlyn begins to protest and Cille interrupts. "The first concern is our companion. The second concern is the group that we followed here as we believe that they have someone captive. The attendents begin to look less pleased as if they are going to turn the group away. Magnus interjects. "We would be happy to see the lady. With no violence." Two attendents turn and lead the group into the complex.
HomeThe group is led through a large set of columned rooms. Ivy and other forms of crawling plants cover the walls, along with other forms of carved stone art. The entire effect is to be welcoming and calming. The attendant pauses and after an exchange, is met by several others who take Ianthe from Cille. They provide assurances that she will be safe. A new attendent, a kobold dressed in simple robes, gestures to Ajax, Yas, Irtokax and Saarl. "Please. If you would join me, I have seen to your rooms." Saarl looks at Cille. "Don't worry about m'lady. She is in good hands." The taller figure who greated the group gestures at the remaining four. "I will take you to see Chryseis now." She leads you out the back of the building towards a large garden area that can be seen through the window. Before opening the door she pauses. "Chryseis has a guest. They are enjoying a quiet tea. You may join them, but I ask that you not interrupt until you are given leave to speak." Cille turns and looks meaningfully at Magnus. "I will behave." After the rest of the group agrees, she opens the door and leads them through a beautifully appointed garden.
ArrivalAs you arrive into the garden, you see an unbelieveable scene before you. A beautiful older woman with flowing amber hair and golden eyes sits quietly sipping tea. She is dressed in a simple, but beautiful dress. Sitting across the table is a woman with short hair and skin of a deep ochre color. Unlike the older woman, she wears a suit of perfectly fitted black leather armor, a rapier lies sheathed on the ground next to her along with a small pack. A black chitin whip is attached at her waist. She sits with ease and also drinking tea. Vulcan recognizes the second woman as the kidnapper. As you watch, the two women sit in silence. Each appears to be enjoying the tea and each other's presence. They appear unbothered by the groups approach.
TeaThe attendent indicates that the group should join them, as others emerge and add five empty chairs. "Please, have a seat and enjoy a calming tea and noble silence. There will be time for talk afterwards." The group sits down. With that she pours five new glasses of tea, along with a small bit of loam for Mie. Cille, assuming a very natural pose is the first to sip the tea. Magnus assumes the posture of a guest in the home of someone more powerful than he is. He watches and attempts to understand. Vulcan quietly places the poisoned dagger into his bag, and assumes a disciplined posture. Otlyn sips tea, quietly playing with Mie. After approximately 10 minutes, a bell sounds. The low-toned sound lingers in the air. Attendants come out and refill the team, and provide small cookies. Cille picks up a cookie. The bell sounds. Magnus takes time and studies the lady and the armored woman. After a moment he settles into his meditative state used when praying. Vulcan remains motionless. The bell sounds again. Cille, running out of cookies, sets to studying the women. There's still tea. The bell sounds again. Otlyn begins to nod off. The bell sounds again. A sense of peace settles across the entire table. Several at the table begin to fall into the same pattern of rythmic breathing. Otlyn snorts slightly as she wakes and sips the tea. The bell sounds again. After several moments, Smaragda bows deeply to Chryseis. "Thank you for your wisdom and guidance. I will consider your points and share with the others. We will speak again." She nods quietly at the remaining five and turns back towards the building, accompanied by the attendant.
WalkingChryseis smiles and sets aside her tea, and gestures towards a path through a garden. "Welcome. Would you join me?" One of the attendents looks at Otlyn eyeing the tea and fills a small flask and hands it to her. Other attendents begins to clear the table and indicates that the five should follow. "Please, walk with her. Enjoy the garden and silence. There will be time for talk afterwards." As she stands, Cille asks the attendant. "May we ask about our friend?" "She is well," answers the attendant. She sets out at a quiet natural pace appropriate for everyone in the group. Her breathing, attuned to the pace, is calm and steady. As she walks the path you can sense she is taking in every experience. From the touch of her bare foot upon the garden path, to the sounds of the breeze, smell of the pollen and vivid colors of the flowers. Her simple, confident steps convey joy, ease and control. Magnus, recognizing the practice of a walking meditation settles in to the walking pace. Vulcan, a bit twitchy, also follows along with Cille and Otlyn. Cille appears to be happy to be moving. Chryseis leads the group in silence along the path, another ring of the bell can be heard in the distance. After another interval, the bell can be heard again. Finally after the third bell, she enters into a large open glade. Trees sway gently in the background, and a small circle of logs has been carefully laid out. She gestures to the group to sit and gently gathering her dress and sits down as well.
DiscussionChryseis sits quietly until the bell rings again. "I am Chryseis. This is Eleusis. Welcome to my home. I am sure you have many questions." After a moment, she continues. "Our guests should join us shortly. Until then, be at peace." "You have been on a long, difficult journey, seeking that which you've lost. I'd like to share a story with you." She goes on to share a story about her daughter, who was taken from her by her father and betrothed to another without her consent. She shares how she searched, and raged against her absence. She notes, however, that it was only when she accepted the situation and focused on right thoughts, that she achieved the clarity necessary to understand and love her enemy, and to help achieve a solution that worked for everyone. As she speaks, emotions flash across Otlyn's face. Seeing Otlyn's concern Chryseis indicates that her daughter is now married and they live happily. She should be joining them later. Magnus watches on quietly.
On fireCille sits with skepticism. "That's fine in a perfect world, but we're in a world where things are coming back to life."
Retcon Chryseis nods. "If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put out the fire. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames." Cille eyes narrow in irritation, but sits in silence. Otlyn sips her tea.
The story of the morningstar and the great warChryseis looks over at Vulcan and then at Magnus. "Let me share another story." Chryseis relates that in ages past, a great war started when a group of powerful beings had thrown out their ruler. That ruler, known as the morningstar, sought to reclaim his throne and began building an army of supporters and the war began to expand across worlds and realities. She pauses and waits for them to take it in. "The gods of this world, in order to trap the morningstar gave their own essences up to seal this world off. Many of those who battled against the morningstar, for the safety of their realms, chose to stay and guard against his return. I am one of them. Races from war ravaged worlds joined them in exile in the hope of starting a new." "While many great and powerful beings, including the morningstar, remain on Zihæt." She turns and looks at Magnus, "The old gods were gone and the morningstar, licking his wounds from his loss, at first appeared content in his defeat." "New empires began to form throughout Zihæt. Groups that had previously been happy as small tribes now formed into cities, states, nations and eventually empires. These new societies began to form new beliefs, concepts of morality that were foreign to this land. And most recently, they have begun to ally and move towards a larger war." She turns to Otlyn. "I have tried to give people a refuge from the conflicts brewing in the larger word. A place free from unnatural violence." "But it is important to remember that good cannot exist without evil. Happiness and suffering support each other. ... It's like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent." "So I fear that it falls upon us to accept the events in the world above. We can water the seeds of brotherhood, love, compassion and insight. But it is up to each individual to choose their own path." She stops. "Regardless, what will you do?" Magnus responds first. "I will defend the defenseless." Chryseis nods, otherwise sitting in silence. After several long moments, Cille finally speaks. "When I was a child, I was told that if you cannot say something with wisdom, you should be silent." Chryseis smiles broadly. Chryseis takes on a more serious look. "You are hurt. You want to punish those who wronged you." Cille shakes her head.
Show spoiler"I have been hurt. I want to keep those who would hurt others from doing so." Chryseis considers. "What then of Froúrio? Do you intend to hide? To wage war?" Otlyn responds. "I've had enough fighting for a lifetime." Magnus straightens. "What of justice? For those who have been killed? Or have lost their lives? Or their lands? It may be a combination of all those things. But it must be done for the right reasons. Not for rage. Not for anger. Not for vengence. But Justice, so that others who cannot defend themselves do not suffer the horrors visited on Froúrio." She nods respectfully, but with a bittersweet smile. "But who do you defend against? And who are you or us to say what is objectively right and objectively wrong? I think we all believe that violence and hurt is wrong. But if we perpetuate that to protect others, do we not simply create others who have been hurt who will later seek retribution as well." Cille begins to tap her toe, expressing her irrtation. Magnus considers. "In my experience, sometimes that's the only way." Chryseis sighs. "Then as you said. Seek to understand your own reasons, before you act."
Retcon "I would keep the arsonist from burning other people's houses."
ReunionAn older man and two younger woman approach. It is Phlios Meletitís, flanked by a younger woman clearly related to Chryseis and Ianthe. Otlyn rushes to Ianthe who gives her a hug, sobbing tears of joy down on the myconid. Magnus looks taken aback. Cille thanks Chryseis for caring for their friend. Chryseis acknowledges it and indicates it was the monks who actually did the work. As Ianthe and Phlios join the group at the circle, Chryseis stands and with her daughter take their leave. "If you need anything, please let the attendant know." They depart, with the bell ringing in the background. Cille rolls her eyes as the two women walk away. Otlyn introduces herself, along with the others. Phlios thanks Vulcan for all he's done, Cille for being such a strong supporter, Otlyn for being such a good friend. When he reaches Magnus he pauses with a knowing look and nods. "Sir." Cille says "We need to get you back to Asteriápolis." "All of this started as we were trying to leave that city." Otlyn asks "Why were you leaving?" Phlios quirks a brow, as he had assumed the group knew. He relates the story shared by Hestia and Crethon earlier about the battle between the Asteriápolis Pro-Aristocracy faction and the Asteriápolis Pro-Democracy faction. He also relates that he's learned since that this was actually part of a much alrger set of political movements to give a reason for the Holy Empire of Humanité to focus outward and unite, while also offering the Pro-Aristocracy forces a chance to look strong and provide a sense of security. Ianthe finally engages. She looks angrily up and says "I don't understand Grandfather, how you can let someone who murdered our entire family walk free." Phlios challenges her. "You accuse her of great wrongs, but what did you actually see?" As the two go back and forth, it becomes clear that she didn't actually see the beginning of the engagement. Smaragda Prata instead actually incapacitated her, with the plan being to sell of the family to slavers. The Norjord on the ship got overzealous, potentially after a bounty from the empire, and killed the family. Smaragda actually protected Phlios by taking him as her personal prisoner, and convinced the Norjord leader to take Ianthe as a bride. Phlios relates that Smaragda infiltrated Eleusis to warn Chryseis under the cover of trying to kill or enslave a dragon. She took advantage of the group's desire to ambush Magnus to slip off with just Phlios and an honor guard. "That's convienent," snarks Cille. Vulcan and Otlyn consider her motives given the lingering question as to why she threw that particular dagger, and why she clearly missed. "What about the honor guard?" asks Otlyn. "They will be returning with news of accomplishing the mission." "That's the smartest thing you could do," notes Cille. "They'll be telling the Empire that they discovered and destroyed Eleusis along with its inhabitants. Regretably several fell in the line of duty." "False memories?" asks Otlyn. Phlios nods. "That will buy us time. Temenos and his brood will do what they're doing consolidating power inside of Asteriápolis." Looking at Magnus, "What will the Empire do?" Magnus pauses. "If the people who I think are in charge remain? They will go to war. They are out to dominate. Not just the league, but the Norjord as well." "If they haven't already," she answers. "My family was the only one who really stood against the others, and they've been wiped out. I don't see how after wiping out Froúrio, the League can avoid going to war unless they cut Froúrio out." The group pauses to consider. Magnus starts. "The people who are in charge of the empire deal with forces now that are Unholy." Phlios interjects, "I don't think the consolidation of the Empire's control over the Rus and Norjord is complete. One of the things that struck both myself and Smaragda at odds was..." he trails off. Turning to Magnus, "What does the Empire value?" "Purity." Phlios agrees. "And that accounts for supporting the Bear clan. But it doesn't account for why they continue to use Hobgoblin shock troops and specialists." Cille interjects, "They make good cannon fodder." Magnus shakes his head. "The Empire's views of purity would dictate that it uses its own strengths. If the empire is pure, they can crush anyone at their whim, by themselves. It sounds like there are another player or two. Perhaps the empire is being manipulated." The group stops and considers. Cille says "Morningstar." Phlios perks up, "Where did you hear that word?" Cille answers "Chryseis. She told us the story of the great war. If the empire is being manipulated, perhaps he's behind it." Phlios turns to Magnus and repeats. "Morningstar, the lord of light...." Magnus places his head in his head. "The light of Dieu. Mon Dieu." Vulcan repeats the phrase, "the old gods are gone. And the only one claiming to be a god now is..." Cille interjects angrily defending Thor. Phlios chuckles "Storys and myth have their basis in truth, but are not truth." CIlle sticks her toungue out. Thpthptpt. "I believe." Magnus sits, head in hands, looking thoughtful. Cille barks at Magnus, "That's why your healing feels all funny!" Phlios starts and frantically gestures to get Chryseis. A bell rings as the group waits.
Bad MagicAs Chryseis returns, Phlios asks Cille to repeat what she said. Cille with an air of disdain speaks. "Magnus is an excellent healer. However it makes people feel very uncomfortable when he does so. It feels... wrong." "What do you mean wrong?" "Like biting on tin." Ianthe shivers and suddenly sounding like the 16 year old she is, mutters "Icky." "Can you show me?" asks Chryseis softly. Cille slashes at her hand and holds it out to Magnus. Magnus looks at Cille and places his hands upon her, calling on his power as a knight. Chryseis eyes wide and gasps "Stop that." She pauses and puts her hands upon her temples. "Let me show you what you're doing." She finishes a short ritual after which the group can see particles of magic that appear like dust floating in the air. Casting a simple spell, the group sees the flow of magic from the air, through herself into the effect. Otlyn replicates this and looks pleased. "Magnus, please repeat what you did," asks Chryseis. Magnus repeats the ritual, and the group watches as the particles flow out of a nearby plant which whithers and channels directly into Cille's wounds. Cille curses and yanks her hand back. Magnus looks shocked, as if something shatters within him. Chryseis watches him with compassion. Another bell sounds. "You didn't understand what you were doing," she starts. "You don't have to use the power that way." She sits down with Magnus and begins with an explanation of how magic works. Much of it is similar to what Magnus learned at the academy. Using the sword as a medium, she asks Magnus to channel energies. After several successes, she asks Magnus to channel his healing energies again, using not his faith in Dieu or any god, but his desire to protect. Magnus looks hesitant, but attempts anyway. As he begins, the magic gathers and with a sudden bright flash channels through him. Chryseis and Magnus work together through several attempts. "It will take time and right practice. You have a gift. Use it, but use it with the right intent." Chryseis turns and continues, "Thank you all." After a pause she looks at Magnus. "Did it ever strike you odd that up to just a few years ago wasn't able to perform miracles. A race not native to this world, suddenly able to use it freely?" Magnus pauses. "We had help." "Correct. Someone taught your people how to perform acts that look like magic, but draw from the life of the beings within world. We call this necromancy." Magnus pauses, and considers an entire army of humans utilizing this magic and the impacts that it would have. "We must stop this war." Chryseis ponders, "We must make the others aware of this." Magnus quirks an eyebrow. "What happened to understanding other points of view?" Cille snarks "It's only relevant if you have the power to enforce it." Chryseis shakes her head. "You have an arson. You put out the fire, but you still need to deal with the arsonist. You don't do it out of rage, but you do it out of love for the arson and those you wish to protect. It's the right thing to do." Magnus says "Justice." Chryseis nods. "To protect." Magnus finishes with "To defend the defenseless."
A new pathMagnus slumps down on a log. Cille with a wry grin starts "I hate idealists." Magnus asks. "Is Thor taking applications?" Cille smiles. "I'll put in a good word." Magnus removes his holy symbol and places it in the bag with the others they've corrected. "Can you do something with these? I don't think I'm going to need them anymore." Cille takes the bag before Vulcan can grab them. She walks to the edge of the clearing. Once there, she incants a small spell and a bolt of lightning flashes down from the clear blue sky and turns the contents into a pile of molten slag. Chryseis watches from a distance and gives a wry smile. Quietly she whispers "Astrapí would be so proud." Cille turns back to Magnus and kicks over the smoking bag. "Thor is mightier than the morningstar."
Cube & FriendsOtlyn plays with the cube. The cube glows. Chryseis talks about Otlyn's friend Katagida and shows her how to use it add more. Kitty makes a game of darting through the gate and appearing on the other side. Otlyn pulls a weasel, a panther and an elk and proceeds to play with Mie and her friends."
Promise of HelpChryseis sits back down and begins to describe a bit more of the morningstar. She describes him as a term only Magnus had heard of, "a devil." She speaks of him being cast out in the past. She describes how he retaliated by bringing the humans together in the past, to start his war. "He wasn't defeated, he could only be sealed away." "He's very difficult to understand. But I suspect he is gathering power somehow through this new magic, in order to try to break the seal. Can you share more of what you've seen?" Vulcan, given a captive audience, quickly launches into a masterful retelling of their adventures, heavy on detail. Mie releases hallucinagenic spores into the air, and the group compliments it with minor illusions. As Vulcan describes the encounter with the white dragon, she quirks an eyebrow and considers what Poniriá might be up to. When he reaches the point of the shadows and the dead rising in Froúrio, Chryseis stops him. She pauses and shakes her head sadly. "Skotádi, you should know better." She sits in silence for a moment. "I can help, but I cannot intervene. We cannot confront each other." "Idealists," mutters Cille. Otlyn perks up. "Asími said something similar." Chryseis goes on to describe how she can hide the rebuilding of Froúrio from the mortal world and provide resources for the rebuilding. "I cannot intervene, but I can provide other forms of aid." "Aid for what? What are we supposed to do, kill the morninglord?" She shakes her head. "I don't believe killing is the answer. And even if it were, we weren't able to kill the morninglord during the great war, I doubt you would be able to do so now. No, the goal is to check him and prevent this war from expanding. Stop the fear and othering that drives rage and violence. Full scale human on other violence is clearly part of his designs." Magnus considers. "To make it as big and destructive as possible..." She nods. "You cannot be seen as weak, nor be seen as a threat. Build up your strength and resources away from the prying eyes of others. If you are able to understand him, you may be able to change the path that leads to war." Standing, she gestures for you to follow her. "Please, stay the night and in the morning I can begin the ritual and consider what aid I can provide."
Instead of leveling, each of the players can adjust the character to fix anything that's out of character or at odds with the lore of the world. Cille's going to swap the cleric levels for Barbarian, Magnus will change his college of swords to a custom bard subclass for his Bard levels, Otlyn will change her spells to be more thematic appropriate/not necromatic, Vulcan will adjust the number of levels in his two classes. In addition, each character will get 1 boon each from Chryseis equivalent to a greater wish spell. (e.g. learning a feat, extra spells known, a more powerful magic item or improved item, special mount, etc.) The group is going to be getting a significant amount of downtime (three 10-day weeks) and suitable for side quests, such as killing the rock monster and returning Mie.
This wraps up season 1.
Next session will start 1h later - 11am AEDT. This may need to be edited to adjust the awkwardness on some of the Chryseis interactions and a more consistent characterization.