The party makes its way out of the Sultan’s chamber, and back into the Citadel proper. They pass back through the bronzed entrance way to wait for Amelie and the other Protectorates to finish their meeting. It seems that whilst the group was meeting the bronze dragon, the leaders of Imperious left the city through some other magikal means. The Council of Protectorates comprises more than just Jameson Ferard and Bastel Procter, and many of the other national leaders confirm that they are suspicious of the group, who have been welcomed so openly into the Sultan’s home, without any prior knowledge or position of authority. The party members each agree to behave whilst they are guests of the Sultan, and whilst a plan of action if formulated.

Magnus sets about writing a letter to Imperius, not telling anyone else what is written in it. He seals it, and hands it to a messenger runner to deliver to the Pyramid. He then joins Bastel Procter who is arranging for a magikal shield to be erected over the city. The men leave the Citadel with Magnus asking many questions about how the shield works, and how it is powered. Bastel does not give much away, commenting only that it requires the unified magikal efforts of twelve magicians fueling their power into one central mage who casts the protective barrier. The energy is maintained by always having thirteen magicians present, or as Magnus puts it, twelve plus one. When a mage tires, another is brought into take their place, so that the spell and the shield can be maintained. Magnus offers his services to Bastel and volunteers to be one of the mages called upon, though his power is small compared with more trained wizards. Bastel declines his offer. He tells the dwarf that Magnus has clearly been chosen by the Sultan for something else, and even if that wasn’t the case, the ritual to transfer magikal power like this takes years to learn, and longer to perfect. The war will likely be over before Magnus has has chance to study the ceremony. Slightly satisfied with what he has learnt, Magnus begins to walk back towards the Citadel.

Journ’ee asks some of the Raj if there is any insence available that he could use, as he as a ceremony of his own to conduct. They recognise him as having been granted an audience with the Sultan and so do provide him with insence, and show him to a more private room. Whilst arcane magik is permitted, it is not widely accepted in Derimyre, perhaps due to the previous risk to the Sultan’s archway. The fiery dwarf sets himself in the private room, locking the door, before undressing completely. The burn scars do no just cover his face, but run across his body, as though a talon, claw or massive hand had held him, and its touch was make of fire itself. He lights the insence, and draws a dark ring on the ground using charcoal as a chalk substitute. The insence burns and the scent overtakes Journ’ee’s mind away. His eyes roll back in his head, and he begins to chant an incantation in an alien language that sounds like rocks falling, or a fireplace coming crackling into action. When his guttural chanting is over, his eyes open, and before him stands the familiar form of his magma beast familiar, conjured back to him in her bound servitude.

The spy joins Anton’s daughter and her body guard. Brant wants to speak to Amelie about her duty and ruling Mountainsfoot. The girl is unsure, but has grown in confidence over that last few days. She knows she must bring order to her people, and to protect them in times of war, such as now. She asks Brant to call Granuaile to her, and then also asks Karmel to leave the women in private a moment. Both men comply and leave, and the half-orc enters Amelie’s company. Granuaile and the Protectorate talk about their time travelling together. Amelie thanking Granuaile for staying with her and protecting her when Karmel couldn’t. Amelie also gives Granuaile a gift -a ring and a title of ladyship within Mountainsfoot nobility. Granuaile is wished luck on her next adventure wherever that may be, but the half-orc comments she is grateful for the land and title, but that she would prefer to stay with Amelie. The two share a moment. Amelie looks at the beautiful green skin, and takes Granuaile’s hand. She tells her that she would like Granuile to be by her side as well, but that by being a lady and wearing this ring, Granuaile can serve Amelie as her eyes and ears in the world, keeping a watch on what is really happening during the war. Granuaile accepts the Protectorate’s request and gifts, and the pair share another moment, holding hands, and gazes, and the quiet.

As the party appears to be attending to individual pursuits for a few hours whilst preparations are made, Orryon goes to the Raj’s healing tents, and begins to work. He dresses wounds on soliders, and applies salves to civilians. He uses the fullest of his natural talent, and is able to assist a physician in removing shrapnel from a young girl’s leg. Though he is not a surgeon, his father was, and his skill in medical matters is enough to at least let him help. There is a sense of calmness and control within the tent. Patients scream in pain, and orderlies and medics rushing about their work, but Orryon’s mind is taken back to the early days of the war, when healing needed to be calm, or people died. Here he can find peace. Being here; doing this work; soothes his troubled heart. Looking out of the tent flaps when he can, the elf healer spots his giantkin ally who has entered into a training ground. He starts to spar with soliders and Raj, holding back his rage, and lightning. Whilst watching the combat, it looks like 428 is trying to help the other fighters improve their skill, as much as he is training himself. He is using tactics he normally does, but also looks to be employing some strikes that look to be more greyborn in style, perhaps deliberately helping these warriors get used to fighting Maurdórne.

Brant, after leaving Amelie begins to experiment with his new spell. He conjures his conscience; who is in a playful mood. Brant soon learns that the illusion can be semi solid, and capable of holding a small weight. It listens to Brant, but is not forced to obey him, acting on its best judgement as a magikal conscience. The illusion skips out of Brant’s sight and around a corner, at roughly the same time as Journ’ee is stepping out of this private ritual room, having summoned Magda back to him. The illusionary and playful Brant reaches out a hand and cups the dwarf inappropriately, before skittering back the way it came, towards the real Brant. As it arrives, Brant also learns that this illusionary version of him only lasts for about ten minutes before it must be conjured again. He learns this, by seeing his illusion begin to disappear becoming a gase and dispursing into the air. The dwarf chases into the room, surprised by Brant’s boldness but his anger soon abaits and the pair part company once more.

The dwarven wizard arrives back at the Citadel in the afternoon, and sees the war room doors open. Entering the chamber, he takes out Rhogar’s arm, and begins to inspect this, having never been sure how it works, and having not wanted to aks insensitively, or get too close to the weapons of a greyborn. He tinkers as best he is able but cannot make much progress with the arm to even access the weaponised parts, so puts this aside. He then begins to inspect the jewelled owl seal the Sultan gave him, thinking of his time excavating Anduwin site, and if he has seen anything like this before. He hasn’t. He puts the seal away and finally sets about transcribing a spell scroll he was given at the Temple of Kaine. He hopes it may be used to send magikal messages across the world to anyone he has ever met. Eventually, the group come back together, and settle into bedding quarters provided for them. Once there Magnus tells the party he has sent a letter to the Imperious Pyramid, but gets no further in his explaination as Brant calls him out on this. Commenting that the wizard is being selfish and foolish to write to Imperious. They are organisation that has only brought more darkness to the world, and even if they did have one of these Anduwin artefacts, they would most likely keep it to themselves until it was profitable for them to use it; even if the fate of the world was, and in fact is, at stake. The halfling and dwarf argue for a time, but neither side appears to want to back down. Magnus starts to bring up Rhogar’s sudden disappearance, and the severed mechanical arm, but Brant manages to skirt around the implications, and avoid the logical and linguistic traps the dward lays out. Brant’s anger increases, thinking back to the recent events. The vacuum and the wind, and the bugbear’s sacrifice. An uncomfortable quiet fills the room, and eventually the quiet turns to the silence of sleep.

50 Days Remain:

 

So we survived the night.

Most of us

 

Its not the Orion. At least it doesn’t look the same. Its slimmer, quieter and faster. It terrifies me.

 

We traveled back to the city from the tunnels and met the Council of Protectorates. They all have different views about this. Some think we have 50 days as per the Code of Marr. Some think we have no time at all. Equally, some thing we should run, and live to reason another day, and a few feel we should take a more offensive approach.

 

I worry how any course of action will shape the world and effect the common people.

 

I met a rather stange, powerful and important character today as well. The Sultan of Derimyre. His secret is now known to me.

 

I saw another world. It looked like a fairy tail, something like the Neverwalk took me there, to a calm but alien place.

 

I spoke with an old broken and half mad man. I believe that he was the last known Grey Drake in his humanoid form. This at least confirms some parts of my visions. He asked me to kill his son, Venarínn. So at least for now, Venarínn lives.

 

The Sultan has asked use to assist in protecting the world. I know I said I would be home soon, but I feel that in my place, father would stay and help those he could.

 

428 said something surprisingly wise today and I think it makes sense to me:

“If you can do something then do it, because there are those who can’t”

I have skills, so I’ll stay and use them.

 

We have a lot to do. Items to find. A world to save. I can’t help but feel a guiding Anduwin hand on my shoulder. Part of my journey appears to want to bring me closer to home. Back to Bukká at least.

I miss you and mother.

 

I pray to:

Paz                                             Vollabuke                                    Marr

 

A’Dal                                          Kaine                                           Y’Shaj

 

I pray that I see you both again soon.

– Orryon Ma’talli

Dawn comes. The night was still, and no attack came. Prehaps the greyborn are holding true to the Code of Marr? Prehaps they struck elsewhere? Blurry eyed, the party wakes at different time, but close together, getting used to sharing sleeping quarters and to the natural rhythms of the collective sleep sounds. A familiar looking bronze scaled dragonoid stands in the doorway, informing those who have woken fully that a message arrived. It came in the night, and was delivered to the Citadel for the group. The Council of Protectorates have it currently. The way is led through the halls towards the war room, where a messenger rests. It is a small metallic ball, with a disc around it, and looks to be covered in blood. Orryon asks whose blood it is, and where they are now. Prodomicus advises that the message arrived with a scouting party. They had found a solider, another scout injured and clinging to this devise. They brought him to the Citadel and when they did so, he collapsed before being taken for medical aid and the devise was left here. He tells the party that it was only a few minutes after its arrival that the party was summoned. Journ’ee picks up the ball, and sniffs it, but is unable to discern anything from it, other than it being blood. The ball and disc have been called a message, but no writing or sound is heard. Magnus runs his hands through the air around it, as though turning it over underwater, trying to sense magiks held within. He tells the gathered group that there are illusionary spells over this device. As he does so, it appears the exposure to arcane forces is enough to activate it. The item opens. A mist creeps out. It is dense and the mist falls from the ball, to the table and eventually the floor, but continues to crawl its way out of the ball. From within the mist, two red eyes appear within the shadowy face of a hooded figure.

“The Emperor demands your demise, and I shall bring it to you” says a voice from the hooded figure. The hood coming down, revealing a tall man with dark earthen features. His skin is almost like dried dirt. He has a resemblance to the fabled terramantic titans of old. Living mountains and men made of rock. Although this figure is not made of earth, there is no denying some features do suggest some stone being in his ancentry.

Brant recognises this man, his mouth silently mouthing “Croxium?” just once before he notices himself and stops further disclosure.

The mist remains heavy underfood, and the hooded figure appears to be an illusion delivering a message rather than being able to actually see or hear the party. After a time, the message repeats, and the quiet once more. Orryon is led away by Prodomicus, at his request to speak to the messenger scout who delivered this device. The scount is weak, and Orryon magiks his wounds to heal slightly faster, thanking him for delivering the message. The man tells the elf that they found it, almost stumbling across it. A group of scouts and soliders. But when he started to bring it to the Citadel, strange things started to happen, and the other soliders in his company were picked off, until only he was left, injured and beaten, but he managed to bring the device as far as he could, before he was found. Through questioning, the scount cannot recall who or what was attacking the unit, or where they were scounting when the devise was discovered. He seems to be honest about his lack of memory, and so Orryon tells the man to rest, and once again thanks him for his service, and bravery, before returning to the rest of the group.

A rushed knock raps on the door. Before it is answered, the door swings open revealing a small elven man. He steps into the room, approaching Granuaile directly introducing himself as Formez Fizzingbean. He is an official auditor of the Protectorate and has been asked by Amelie to complete the approrpaite paperwork with Granuaile for her title and lands. Both she and Amelie are taken away for a time to sign documents in triplicate swearing in Amelie to power, and then allowing Amelie to grant peerage to Granuaile, who becomes Lady Granuaile of Mountainsfoot, Eye of the Protectorate and Defender of the Fourth Hous of Vespárd.

Whilst the paperwork is completed, a contingent of Raj returns from investigating the site where the scout was found. They report to finding strange tracks leading to the Pyramid, which serves to reignite the suspicions around a connection with Imperious. Their captain, Heff comments that his men will continue to investigate this lead, and plan to pursue the trail and possible links to the Pyramid and to Imperious directly. Magnus is keen to join this expedition, but Heff tells him he is not trained and will likely be more of a hinderance. The wizard comments that he has knowledge of Imperious and may be able to assist the Raj in getting entry into the Pyramid. However, Heff has already made up his mind, and so turns to leave the dwarf, having been refused his requests two days in a row.

With the dwarf’s request declined Prodomicus suggests that the party get underway with seeking out the Anduwin artefacts. He tells them of a historian who is noted to be somewhat of an expert in the items. This professor is living in the bureaurcractic city of Quince, half a world away, in Naramiá. Professor Gregor Megenof. Prodomicus leaves the party, telling them that he will make arrangements for the group to travel to Naramiá, whilst also telling Magnus, Brant, Granuaile, 428 and Orryon that he has employed Journ’ee as an explosives expert to assist in the mission the Sultan has bestowed upon them.

Thinking about the plan to leave Al’Zieharia, and the party having recently lost Rhogar in unknown circumstances, Orryon is keen to not loose anyone else. He thinks on the Sultan’s words, and the cloak he has been gifted to make sure he can escape, to be able to heal his allies, and so chooses to go to the Arboreum. Security has been reduced rather than increased, as the city wide evacuation is underway. He goes through the door, still open from two nights ago when Axpal arrived and the Emperor attacked. Inside he walks down the familiar path flagstones towards the central wooden building where he meets the person he is looking. Kaleem is hard at work trying to save the lives of his staff, and civilians who live nearer to the Arboreum than they do to other healing hospits. One seeing the elf arrive he calls a young gnomish shaman to take over his duties while he speaks to Orryon.

The elf tells Kaleem that he and his allies have been given a mission of grave import by the Sultan himself, and that they will soon be leaving the city. He asks Kaleem if there is any aid he can give the party, in terms of supplies or training to improve Orryon’s healing skills. Kaleem leads the elf to a side office, and unlocks a cabinet, taking out an obsidian box. He opens this revealing three crystal vials. There are two full containers and one missing a small amount. Kaleem offers Orryon a vial of the substance that Quentin Moray had used in his demonstration. He calls it Hope, and tells Orryon to use it sparingly, for it is hard to produce, and there is a finite amount so far. Orryon accepts this as well as another pouch of Aether powder Kaleem gives. As the elf is about to leave, Kaleem then tells Orryon to beware, as the Hope may have unexpected effects on different races, and in palces where Anduwomancy is stronger or weaker. Orryon thanks the Arboreum leader before making his way to the Aetherium to join the rest of his allies.

Whilst Orryon follows up on possible assistance from the Arboreum, Magnus ignores the refused request and turns himself invisible following the Raj to the Pyramid, but neither he nor the Raj appear to be able to gain entry, being turned away. On the journey back to the Citadel, Captain Heff tells his unit to go ahead without him for a bit. He lingers a moment, and then speaks to the empty courtyard, telling his follower the he can come out now. As he says this, Magnus’ form appears, no longer invisible. Heff is impressed with the wizard’s skills, but warns him not to try the Rajs’ patience, as magik is still not viewed favourably in Derimyre.

428, Brant and Granuaile ask if any of the birdfolk are still in the city from the other night, and are taken to Seapriest. There, Brant asks the birdfolk to look for theFlute of the Whispering Winds on Valmora, the Planet of Air, as Brant suspects that this is where is was last seen, based on stories and legends he has picked up through his spy networks.

Eventually, the whole group reunites at the Aetherium, including Granuaile’s steed, Julio. Entering with Prodomicus leading the way, the plan is to use the Neverwalk to transport as quickly as possible to Quince, and then to use the same technology to go to where the items are thought to be. The group enters into a large white cubed room. In its center is a small hut, surrounded by a series of arranged stone baring runes and symbols in the Andoth language. The operator is Artemis, that same man who Brant has presented forged documents to just two days earlier. He tells the party that the Aetherium technology requires teleports to be in smaller numbers. Not quite one at a time, but that the small group of six or seven might be possible. Karmel has stayed with Amelie, to support her, and help her reach Mountainsfoot, and so the party now is only six and Julio. Artemis is unsure if the horse will fit, but that there may be a chance it could work. The machine wakes, and the group feels a familiar rising sensation then sweeping at the speed of magik, before being pushed downwards again into an identical looking room, with the only difference being the lack of Prodomicus, and a different operator. The horse collapses as the party land. Julio is shaken by this kind of transportation, but also seemingly missing his tail and a piece of his rump.