The rest is well needed, but interrupted by early morning explosions. The slave revolt is already underway. The nine make their way with trepidation towards the mines that are a hive of activity. Slaves turning their picks and axes against their greyborn masters, having weaponised their mining tools. As the group rise, they pack, and quickly join the fray. More explosions sound, as the Anduwin Crystals, known to be volatile, and other mining explosives are detonated, triggering a sense of ear blindness from the adventurers.
The nine enter the fight, with Anton throwing some sort of ball lightning from his bare hands. Two powerful looking greyborn move into melee, whilst other enemies start to scramble to gather firearms, and mount a defence against the impromptu assault. Magnus is quick to react, freezing greyborn feet to the rocky floor, and allowing 428 and Granuaile to dispatch the slavers. Karmel and Sally work as an efficient team, duelling together against a larger foe. The female greyborn warrior with curved horns and a long hair braid is defending herself against the assault. She slashes with an enormous glaive and whips her hair. As she swings her braid, the blades attached to it slice into Sally, who is critically wounded. Orryon jumps into action, to try to stabilise Sally, but cannot get near enough as the battle rages. The solider begins to bleed out.
Meanwhile, Brant parkours his way over upturned mine carts, and past the greyborn riflemen, to reach a group of slaves who had initially been a part of the assault, but were now huddled for safety, sheltering from a gatling gun the greyborn have brought to the makeshift battle arena. Brant manages to inspire the slaves to dig deep, and fight on. One slave ignites some form of combustible, roused by Brant’s words, and rushes towards the gatling gun. The stick of dynamite erupts. Sound cascades outwards. The mines deep in the canyon valley between two of Majorai’s mountains, echoing and amplifying the detonation. The yellow orange crystals crack in the explosion before they and shattered within the weapon. The resulting damage rending the metal apart as though paper torn by a child. The greyborn staffing the weapon are no longer visible. Instead slight humanoid scorch marks on the ground where the twisted wreckage stands. Their defence weakened by the Crystal burst, releasing stored Anduwin energy and taking out several more greyborn defenders with it. Eventually, the battle reaches it end, as Granuaile and 428 join the melee around the female greyborn with the blade in her braid. It takes time, but she too is killed, and 428 cleaves the hair from her scalp, keeping hold of the bladed hair, as an improvised flail if needed. Orryon wasn’t fast enough to save Sally, and the noble warrior breathes her last, leaving her lover Karmel slightly broken. The elf healer draws on his mother’s teachings of Vollabuke, and conjures a small religious symbol, to allow Sally to have proper rites. 428 once again scoffs at this display of religousness and disapproves of any Anduwin worship.
Once Sally has been rested, the now eight adventurers move into the mines proper, whilst the rest of the slaves continue to revolt against the greyborn who have oppressed them. Their fight outside the dark inner mines helping to distract the greyborn, and reduce the number of guards the group will face.
Within the dark, a strange pulsing is both heard and felt. Everyone in the group has some connection to magik however weak it may be, allowing them all to feel the arcane waves of energy ebbing through their bodies. As each pulse passes through, it is just possible to spot that Anton isn’t wholly himself. He looks to be shifting in form, from human to elf and back again. This is attributed to the waves or power influencing how the world and the mines are being perceived, rather than it being anything more sinister.
Brant lights a torch, allowing himself, Karmel and 428 to see, as the other individuals all seem to have some ability – owing to their none human heritage – that allows them nocturnal sight. Dwarven eyes used to mines; bugbears who usually dwell deeper in the ground, alongside goblinoids; elves whose sight along with lifespan is gifted through some much older means; all seeing the world in various shades of grey. Twilight of imagery visible beyond Brant’s torch flame. In the grey light of the mines, the eight come across a wounded greyborn. This individual refers to himself as Skar Toc, and warns the group to leave. However, his wounds appear too great for him to overcome. He coughs, and Magnus suggests that Orryon heal him. Skar Toc is bound and taken prisoner, unarmed and wounded, but Orryon refuses to heal. Skar Toc explains, when asked, that he doesn’t know anything about the pulsing in the mines, but that it appears to be happening more often recently. Orryon comments that he has seen the greyborn take too many lives, and he will never use his gifts to help their kind. With no useful information for the group, Orryon starts to conjure a ball of flame, much as Granuaile has done, and readies to throw this at the prisoner. Magnus knocks this from his hand, stopping the burning. The dwarf scolds Orryon for disappointing him, and letting down his father’s reputation and memory. He makes Orryon feel small, and unworthy as he points out that the elf was about to burn an unarmed and wounded man, greyborn or not. This goes firmly against the laws of Vollabuke that Orryon had sworn to uphold. Magnus reminds the elf that the greyborn is unarmed, and without defence. Magnus cites the laws by means of a short lecture to help Orryon in some way.
A person may not bring into harm those without defence nor aggression; a person should give the same treatment to their captives that they would do onto themselves; a person should not profit personally from other persons suffering
In hearing the dwarf’s words, Orryon walks away, and in the dark, Rhogar aims his converted mechanical arm-gun at Skar Toc to fire a bullet, at the same time as Brant throws a dagger. Magnus is too busy watching Orryon sulk and blame himself for his mistake to notice the other adventurers take Skar Toc’s life.
The crimson seeps onto the floor of the tunnel, in a pitiful way, trickling, not gushing. As though the life was slowly stopped, rather than snuffed out. The party move quietly for a time, continuing their way down the tunnels, following the pulsing. They pass scaffold structures which appear to have been twisted and bent in an unnatural manner, as though some terrible force worked its malice into them. Solid metal which the strongest warrior could not shift or the most powerful magik would struggle to reshape without several magicians involved. The energy pulses again, and the scaffold’s metal is bent inwards with the pulse first hitting, and then flexes back slightly when the wave ends. None of the group has ever encountered this type of magik before. Eventually, the tunnels lead to a cavern, beset with large golden doors. The pulsing appears to be emanating from these sealed doors, as the group can just make out a thumping from the other side.
Nearby, a foreman’s hut sits a short while away from the mine proper. Within the hut, Magnus, Brant and Granuaile find diaries or journals of the former foreman or mine supervisor. The papers detail a wondrous chamber beyond the doors, but that beyond that future, is a mystery as the pulse began, and no one has been able to venture further.
Magnus the takes time to investigate the doors. Looking up, they have male and female figures in regal poses, standing as tall as the doors themselves. The figures are intricately carved though seem impossibly real. Each of the figures is holding what appears to be an artistic relief of a Star, held in a unique pose by each figure. The wizard opens his spell book, and begins laying out candles as well as sketching runes in the air with his finger, allowing him to sense nearby magik. His mind is hit by the Anduomancy nearby, which may explain the pulsing, as well as protective spells over the door itself. However, for all the protective magik, there is nothing preventing access to the rumoured wonderous chamber within.
Inside, the floor appears to be littered with recently deceased greyborn bodies, along with piles of gold. The parts of floor that are free of corpses is itself filthy with rot, and dust and age. There are fountains, carpets and pillars adorning the chamber, which in its glory days must have been a sight to behold, but now appears to have fallen into the lost pages of the history books, and those books then fallen behind the shelves at the loneliest library. At the rear of the room stands another set of impressive doors, hanging at an odd angle, seeming to have been torn from their ancient hinges. Brant moves ahead to scout out possible threats, and doesn’t get far before he very literally bumps into a tall elf wearing simple clothes, carrying a single sword. The figure has long white hair. Although his ears are pointed and features appear elven, there is something other about this man. The man, Anton introduces as The Seer, and leader of the Rozen Croits. He speaks to the party, inviting them into the secondary chamber, beyond the ripped away doors.
In the next room, the scene is alien. A narrow walk way leads around the edge of the chamber, with a single stretch of seemingly floating ground from the entry point into the room’s centre. The rest of the room has a hole, falling down into darkness beyond sight. A platform hangs in the centre, out from the apparent floating ground. There, suspended in the middle of the room is a masterfully crafted sword, surrounded by a faintly shimmering grey arcane barrier. The giantkin, 428 attacks the barrier and is repelled backwards as soon as his skin connects with the shimmering energy. As he is thrown, other party members make their way into the second chamber, and from their new vantage point, spot a familiar looking black glass orb at the rear of the chamber, although this one appears slightly larger, making itself known to be a second orb.
As the rest of the party filter into the room, new voices are heard behind them. A group of human smugglers working with a greyborn Autarch move up, and take an offensive position, blocking the party’s exit or retreat. The Autarch is Stahl, and is known to a few party members as a particularly dangerous and cruel greyborn.
Magnus attempts a bluff, to convince Stahl that the smugglers that came in with him are likely to double cross the greyborn. Ellis Dumont, and Renly Anford, the men met on the road are part of the smuggling group, and it appears they too want the sword, and to capture Anton.
The greyborn soldiers begin their advance, attempting to bring about a menacing fear, but as they do, Brant strums his ukulele and bewitches one of the soldiers, charming him to be a friend, and fight alongside the party, rather than against. At this, and seeing one of his own men be so easily swayed by musical magik, Stahl become enraged.
Using this fear and music as a distraction, Anton pushes through the barrier, his skin starting to fall off, peeling away, and looking as though he had died many moons past. The Sword of Marr lowers itself to Anton’s grip, but at that moment Magnus suspects it to be a fake. As Anton’s fingers close around the haft the blade disappears. The ground rumbles and a wet gurgling sound comes from the within the dark pit. Water spews forth erupting higher. Inside the geyser a face can be seen made from the water. Some form of elemental guardian over the Anduwin artefact.
The watery elemental engulfs Anton, holding him in a near drowning stake, continuing to pull already weakened dead-looking skin from him. Ellis Dumont rushes at Anton, as he wants the sword for himself, in the bull rush; Anton is knocked free of the aquatic titan, to the thin walkway around the chamber. The water level rises, and begins to fill the once vacuous hole at the chamber’s heart. Anton Quinn digs his fingers deep into the ground, scoring a groove to halt him, and keeps him from being washed back into the elemental. No sooner does he come to a stop, does 428 pick him up, and carry him towards the black glass orb, having seen Anton previously interact with one. However, as the giantkin touches the glass it shatters under his fingers, as the previous device had done. Shards of broken glass rain down into the water around them. A dark cloud plumes out of the place where the orb had just stood, billowing upwards until it is at head height for even the greyborn present. Within the smoky cloud, dark red eyes stare out at the room. However, it appears that only the giantkin and Orryon see these eyes, and to all others, it is just a cloud of smoke, offering a distraction and a means to escape undetected. In the commotion of the distraction, one greyborn trips Granuaile, and as she collides with the water beneath her, she reaches out her green skinned hand. From her hand a bead of light swirls and forms into the shape of a Jackal – gradually taking form and its shape becoming more solid. The light Jackal joins the fight, and bites those who try to harm its mistress, Granuaile. Magnus draws out a small piece of iron from his pouch of ingredients, and uses it like a wand, drawing shapes in the air around Stahl. When the dwarf has finished, the Autarch cannot seem to move. The group present take the opportunity to swing warhammer, axe, and throw spells at Stahl. The light Jackal nips at the shins whilst Granuaile stands and swings her trusty weapon at the same time as 428 does, doubling the blow. Rhogar wipes the water from his soaked furry face, and his right arm once again transforms into a mechanical rifle, and he opens fire with shot after shot, shared between Stahl and the water elemental. The halfling’s ukulele is somehow still dry enough for him to continue enchanting a spell over his new friendly greyborn, commanding his temporary ally to attack the others. Orryon’s ethereal light wings once again appear, at the terrifying sight of Stahl, raising him into the air, but becoming used to this sensation, Orryon chooses to pluck a feather from each wing, simultaneously, before throwing them to his side. They land on Magnus and Brant, and as the feathers touch them, light spreads through them, causing healing, before the feathers themselves disappears. The water elemental cannot reach Anton to join the combat, so unleashes water whips at Stahl, and eventually, whilst the Autarch is restrained by Magnus’ spell, a tendril of water wraps itself around the greyborn’s leg, before pulling him towards the centre of the chamber. 428 sees this, and his rage swells with hatred for Stahl. He drops his axe, and rushes, this time using the full might of his strength from his giant ancestry to lift the paralysed greyborn into the watery hole, before dropping him into an aquatic grave. Magnus keeps hold of the iron wand as a means to ensure that the greyborn cannot swim to save himself.
There is no respite for the adventurers, the remaining smugglers, greyborn or the Seer, as the elemental now can see more targets to attach tendrils to, and drag to their own cold deep dark graves. In his surprise at Stahl’s apparent defeat, Brant loses the concentration he has on his magik, as his fingers miss a strum, causing a discordant sound, and breaking his spell over the greyborn he bewitched. Seeing this, the party begins to flee, not thinking their chances of survival are too great. The water elemental rises up, filling its own chamber, before slamming its full body down into the hole on top of Stahl, but sending a tidal wave with people from its Sword chamber, into the first with the carpets and dust. Orryon knocks his head against a pillar and falls unconscious in the water. No one notices. One of the smugglers, Renly Anford, is also knocked down, but manages to stay awake. As he struggles to get to his feet, he finds a rusty sword in the water, and reaches for it, taking hold of the old damaged blade to defend himself. The Seer composes himself, seeming to be protected from the magik by some invisible force. He asks Brant who can be trusted, and the bard names the eight adventurers, having not felt that he could put faith into Renly or Ellis after what has just happened. The white haired old elf incants something and the eight that had been named begin to float away. Lifting slowly into the air, before the lift is rapid. Impossible distance travelled upwards in the time to snap fingers.
Memories flood the minds of the eight. Each gifted to relive their fondest memory whilst they travel from the mines to destinations unknown. Magnus finds his mind drawn to his children, whom he misses dearly. Orryon thinks of his sister, Orryiana, and their time training together to be healers in the Temple of Vollabuke. Granuaile recalls spending time on her family’s turnip farm with her mother, working the land and smiling in the sun. Rhogar’s thoughts turn to the time he first got his weapon to work, fondly recalling the difficulty he had in designing and building his prosthetic. 428’s mind remains primarily blank, lacking any real fond memories to call on, but he does think back on the young sewing girl, Tracy, and her hopeful face. Brant’s thoughts pull him to his home, and his fans, the feeling of being loved and respected, having previously worked to save all those who live there.
The light memory fog lifts and the Seer stands before the group once more. He announces that the eight have been moved to Máurdorne. They have travelled via an ancient Anduwin system called the Neverwalk, to a cliff top. The high plateau looks down over the wild ocean, as a storm begins to stir. A short while before the group sits a temple, old and small with avian symbols over it. The shape of an eagle visible even through the rain. This is a Temple of Marr. Magnus waves his hands above him, and as he does the rain around him, and a few others appears to bounce off an invisible barrier, protecting them from the elements slightly, as the group are led by the Seer towards the building that sits resisting crumbling into the sea. Idols have been smashed within the temple, but some of the artwork remains, confirming its Anduwin of choice. There is a pale woman lying lifeless upon one of two altars. Her features bare a resemblance to Anton Quinn, and as his eyes fall upon her, he cannot look away, visibly pained by the sight. His skin starting to grow back or the tears gradually repairing. Anton admits fault to Brant for having neglected his duties at Protectorate of Mountainsfoot, but tells Brant to have heart, for the “heir will return”. The Seer asks for aid from those present, warning that after the fight, and the travel through the Neverwalk, he is unsure he has enough magik to complete the ritual. He asks the lords to accept Anton, as a worthy individual.
Outside the world seems to slow, and then stop. The rain no longer falling, as it is halted by powerful magik. The desecrated temple roof has let rain spill in, but now this too has stopped falling. Water hangs in the air, as time is held still. The Seer asks again if anyone can assist. Brant tells Anton he accepts his apology, and will protect the heir, whilst Orryon draws on his most powerful magik, as he emits a divine hopeful light that usually allows people he heals to feel the fullest benefit. This time, in the frozen time, Orryon finds he is not frozen, but sees an animal made of light. A canine of some sort. Although this is a Temple to Marr, it seems that the Jackal, Paz has an interest here. The Jackal bows slightly at the elf, instilling new magikal abilities before moving to stand next to Anton, and opposite the Seer. Awe struck the party watch as the water droplets begin to rise; the temperature alternates between a freezing cold and scalding hot. Idols begin to tremor, and metallic structures begin to bend and twist but the eight including Anton feel fine. A wave of light passes over Anton, and then forms a rainbow arch from his own chest to that of the woman, before the arch of energy completes, and the magik is spent. The light Jackal visible to Anton, The Seer and Orryon has vanished into a breeze of petals, and the rain starts to fall again, as gravity intended.
‘They’re real!’ the girl gasps awake, clutching her chest.
Anton’s chest rises and falls once final time, as he passes on and the girl is now awake. As she stirs and comes to accept what has happened, she explains that Anton is her father.
…Was her father.
The Seer produces a small necklace, and gives this to the girl. She opens it, and Anton’s now lifeless body is drawn inside. The Seer tells her to see that he is buried properly, for he has sacrificed a great deal to bring her back from her near death. She introduces herself as Amelie Quinn. Granuaile and Rhogar offer Amelie food and potions as her body must be weak from so long resting. The Seer warns that the group mustn’t linger in Máurdorne, and offers to transport them once more, while Anton is stored in his portable necklace-coffin. Amelie accepts her role, as Anton’s heir, and announces she will return to Mountainsfoot to serve as the 5th Protectorate of Oskiliath. The Seer draws magik once more, and this time is not rushed so teleports the group with care. They rise slowly upwards towards the very edge of the world. The edge of the sky. As they raise, Brant, Rhogar and 428 spy a ship. A grand vessel near to a dark glowing tower on the western side of Máurdorne. Behind the spire tower the ship hangs silently, looming large. A vision of horror from the past. Brant whispers “No…” as he realises this ship to be the larger more battle ready sister ship of the Orion that caused such destruction so long ago.
The group are pulled up a final stretch before being pushed along at an impossible speed, now realising that they are not teleporting, but simply skirting the world as fast as magik. In the blur, Orryon finds he cannot focus, and his vision fades. He finds he is once again gifted a vision, after having conjured his wings. He sees the last heir of Máurdorne alive. Looking a child, long long ago. The heir is pulled from the water onto a fishing boat by civilians. He turns back and looks over the once great nation of Máurdorne, and sees only fire, smoke and destruction.
J’al von terribé.
The Sundering freshly occurred. The fishermen urge the elven looking boy to rest, but ask his name. He coughs up salt water, and says “Venarínn” before the vision fades and Orryon finds that he and the others have arrived on a very nice beach.