The physicians arrive and one is clearly an apprentice studying from his master/tutor. Orryon tells the master to work on Magnus, and he supervises the apprentice who works to heal the elf. Once the medics leave, Magnus then shares that he contacted the Emperor and that he feels that Nethalian is afraid of the party and the task the Sultan has set them on.

The knife or dagger from that shadowy creature pulls at me. There is a darkness in me that it calls to. It heals, but at a price. Restoring life to the wielder by taking it from the victim. There is no place for a blade like that in this world. I need to destroy it. Or keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

– Orryon Ma’talli

Each of the party members tells a story about what they have been doing while Magnus and Orryon have been away, including the more recent developments of th fire and the plan to investigate the Bellépónts. Granuaile encouraged Magnus and Orryon to rest, as they both look to be exhausted. Orryon takes himself away, and whilst in the bathroom, he takes a dose of Hope. His elven skin, already youthful, tightens as Orryon’s appearance becomes roughly four years younger. He feels his connection to his magikal tether around his soul return. He achieves the peak of his physical and magikal health, and when he leaves the bathroom, he tells Granuaile that if the party is going into battle, then he has a duty to accompany them, and heal them when wounded. There is a plan to send in Brant and Journ’ee to the Leaky Bible as a first wave of people who are not known to Maggy or Scraggy Joe.

Not knowing the nature or severity of the fight to come, the party decide to visit a potion shop to gather supplied before they head onwards to the Leaky Bible. There Granuaile, and Brant through cunning wit are able to convince the shop proprietor to trade healing potions and usueful goods to the party. The half-orc prsents a greyborn gun that she had acquired some months ago. This is offered to the shop keep, and with BRants smooth words, they are able to convince the owner that the gun is worth far more than the potions. The store keep agrees and so pours out the contents of a draw to give to Granuaile as well. The draw contains some coins of various varieties and amount, as well as unbreakable string, and a signed portrait of the legendary Brant Goldust himself. The deal is made and the gun handed over, with Granuaile adding that the shop keep should keep it hidden as it is rare and dangerous. The keep puts it out of sight, and the party leave the shop enroute to the Leaky Bible. When they round a corner from the shop, Granuaile extends her palm and a grey steel aura flashes for an instant until the greyborn gun is conjured back to her. She tells the party she had bound it to her much as she did her warhammer, and that she conjured it back feeling that it was too dangerous to leave in civilian hands.

As the party travel the darkening streets of Quince with the Leaky Bible set as they destination, they discuss potential plans for the pub initiative, unsure what the best approach would be. 428 leads the way through a dark and shadowy part of the city, as he is the only one who has been to the tavern before. There are signs of the recent fire still evident across buildings and the ground. At the pub are two guards outside, so the party slows their approach and moves quietly. Seeing an open window on the first floor 428 attempts to climb up but this fails and as his muscular form falls, the thud sound of giantkin against stone alerts the guards. One of them approaches and the party collectively walk away, keeping to the shadows. Granuaile takes out the clear glass orb, and calls on the power of earth and stone. She finds she is imbued with terramantic magik and so pushes her head through the stone wall of the Bible to get a look at the inside layout. However, as she phases through solid rock, she headbutts a patron, which once again alerts the guards to the party’s presence.  The guards move to defend the Bible rapidly, with more ferocity than is expected of tavern guards. A fight ensues and 428 throws a javelin at full force into a guard. The thrown weapon sticks the man, and its momentum propels him backwards, before the tip of the javelin pins the man’s body lifeless to the alley wall. Journ’ee unleashes a barrage of fiery arcane power into guards, knocking some backwards, but not as powerfully as 428 had managed, Orryon joins the flame assault creating a small concentrated orb of heat and hurling it forward. The spy of the party rushes, skirting around allies and enemies alike, before he jumps to one alley wall, and bounces to the other, again and again his hands finding purchase on a wooden beam that crosses the alley entirely. He turns the washing line beam into a static trapeze, launching himself towards a window pane where he holds himself, hidden in shadow after his rapid and sleak movements. Granuaile continues her movement through the wall, passing through stone as though it was air, and once inside the tavern she engages the guards and patrons (all armed at guards) who were not expecting an assault from within the building. She swings her warhammer twice, bludgeoning two men, before she retreats, and keeps herself hidden and protected inside the stone wall.

As the guard 428 targeted dies, more defenders emerge from the building, their motives being half defence and half fleeing the half-orc that haunts the wall. Journ’ee gets cocky with his fiery blasts and starts to twists his dwarven body pointing fingers as though they are small greyborn guns to unleash the magik. He feels he is putting on an impressive show to prove his usefulness to the party, but then tries to point a blast a magikal assault from behind his back and the magik erupts wildly, as the fingers twitch and mess up the somatic elements of the spell, creating a new and unseen arcane anomaly. The result of which causes all of the dwarf’s well quaffed hair to fall out, revealing a bald headed Journ’ee. A man who appears to be a humanoid lizard comes out of the tavern, with a quiver at his size, his yellow green tail thrashing wildly. He levels his bow towards the healer, nocks two arrows at once, fires and then nocks and fires a third. Two strike Orryon in the chest, near to his shoulder, and the third below his rib, skewering the elf’s liver.  Journ’ee is enraged by the loss of his hair, and so blasts a wall apart, splitting rock and stone, sending pieces of the wall into the air, as well as two archers stood near the wall. Orryon reacts to the three arrows sticking out of him, and exerts his will over the lizardman, wishing him harm. His healing magik inverts and twists, and the dagger in his satchel begins to feel heavy and cold. The lizardman’s grip on his bow tightens as the archer calls out that his magik is from the “unspeakable”.  The magik from the elf’s will overwhelms the lizardman, and begins to rend flesh apart. Every injury the lizard has ever had, however long ago, reopens. Scars sundering themselves, and childhood injuries reappearing. Organ bruised and scales falling off, with surgical precision, the lizard falls dead, a pile of blood and scales torn apart by dark arcane powers. Seeing this, a lot of the guards drop their weapons and flee, and are quickly dispatched by Brant, Granuaile 428 and Journ’ee. As these four slay the fleeing guards, Orryon disappears away from the group and the tavern. From his vantage point holding onto the windowsill, throwing daggers, Brant hears more voices coming from inside the building’s upper floors. He learns that the Leaky Bible is only a Bellépónt outpost. As the four enter the building, one guard is still alive, rubbing his head from a swelling caused by a half-orc headbutt. The party captures this man, and binds him with the unbreakable string that Granuaile had recently acquired. They plan to keep him as a prisoner who can report the assault and the Bellépónt’s activities to the Prime Minister.

428 finds a hidden trapdoor leading down to the basement and Brant re-joins the group, telling them that he heard more voices and movement upstairs, but they cannot find a door or stair way leading upwards. Instead 428 brandishes his axe, smashing through the ceiling, and breaking into the next floor of the building. They climb through, with the stronger individuals helping the shorter ones. They try to move stealthily, but the floor boards are old and weakened, and creak under the weight of the four heavily armed adventurers. They cross the chamber to a ladder leading up to another hatch. 428 climbs this first, opening the hatch as three arrows soar towards them. Two strike the wood of the hatch, but one grazes the shoulder of the giantkin. In the attic room, a fresh round of fighting begins. Scraggy Joe pulls at his skin, and starts to tear it off in chunks, revealing muscle and fresh newer skin growing hairy and fur underneath. He rakes fingernails across himself, as they turn into claws, and pull the flesh from his face, and shred the shirt on his back. His transformation complete, before the party stands a nine foot tall werewolf, flanked by two of the Bellépónt’s heavy hitters. Brant unleashes a series of daggers throwing them across the room, hitting the furry Scraggy Joe, the blades drawing blood and then vanishing, reappearing in their scabbards on the spy’s belt. Granuaile summons her spiritual Jackal into the room. The hound enters a direct combact with the werewolf while Journ’ee starts a bonfire in the wooden building, pushing one of the soilders into his flames. The weight of the man in armour on the old weakened woof is enough to break the floor. The guard falls through the floor and the fire, burning on his way down, his momentum carrying him through the middle floor, until he cracks his back on the stone floor of the ground level of the Leaky Bible. Scraggy Joe’s injuries start to heal, but the party and the Jackal turn their combined attention to the wolfman, hurting him faster than he can heal. In his rage, his claws draw the giantkin towards him, an he sinks his fangs into the man’s neck just before a final dagger plunges into Joe’s own neck. As he falls, his teeth drag out of 428 and the wolfman slumps to the floor, revealing the still outstretches and shaking hand of Brant Goldust, having thrown the killing blade. The four leave the bodies where they fell, and move back to the ground floor, and looking at the trapdoor downward. They speak to the captured guard, still bound. He has tried to escape, and wormed his way a few feet towards the door, but 428 picks him up, and places him back at the starting point once more. The guard relents and tells the party that he is trying to escape because he is afraid of Maggy. She is the really boss of the Bellépónts in town. He believes she is a witch and has some dark connection to ancient black magik. He begs to be allowed to be free, but the party keep him bound as they open the trapdoor and begin to descend.

Across town, at the arena a shaking elf in blue robes walks the grounds in a mindless state. He is looking at his hands and trying to understand what he just did. He finds his way to the medical tents, seemingly automatically, and takes out the dagger to inspect. However, the moment his fingers touch the blade, he feels compelled to kill. He sinks it deep into the chest of the man laid unconscious before him. The weapon drives itself deeper up to its hilt. The life essence of the man is drawn into the dagger, and then pushed from the handle into Orryon, restoring the elf’s own life, at the cost of anothers. Orryon releases the forced grip, fighting the dagger’s will with his own force of mind, seeing for the first time the man before him, on the very edge of life. His wings burst from him, and Orryon expends his full arcane might into this tent, chanelling it into the man before him, and when that man is full of healing energy, his magik overflows into other patients layed sleeping. His skin becomes lighter and the veins turn a bright gold as his lifts from the floor half a foot, and his hings carry him higher still. The whole tent aglow and the man below him healed and brought back from the presipis of death. He magiks the dagger into his satchel, not wanting to touch it again, and fearing what his magik is now capable of. He leaves the arean medical area and runs back to the Vanquiz Imperial, his thoughts racing about the day’s events. The island; the shadow creature’s attack; the lizardman and the healing tent. His mind flashes to his own failure of his father, and Magnus’ recent revalation of his involvement in Darlenma’s death. His thoughts flash forward and backwards in time, as he feet push him beyond exhaustion to the hotel, and up to the suite.

Beneath the Leaky Bible, 428 and Brant cannot see in the dark, so Granuaile and Journ’ee lead the way, providing light only when required. They find a sanking chamber with coiled walls decorated in stand symbols. There is a set of scales perfectly balanced with dark black sand on one side, and white sand on the other. Brant thinks on his stories and wonders if this is some sort of cult of balance, but none of the party share that they know anything about these scales; though 428 and Journ’ee appear to avoid getting too close to the item. 428 starts to feel at home and disappears through another doorway. Brant investigates the scales and finds they are magikal and so grabs the white sand. Beyond the doorway, the next room has a number of Anduwin style items, and blood stains across the walls and floors. A number of children chained in a row, working on mining something from under Quince. On small room, more of a cupboard has a disheveld birdfolk; greatswords driving through his wings, pinning to the wall. Blood stains crimson across his pale feathers. The final door opens into a large chamber, on a slight tilt, where Maggy sits. She has dropped her disguise as a barmaid, and appears to have embraced her true form. She magikally restrains Granuaile, commanding 428 to give his power to her. He agrees to this, if she releases his friend. She tells him that he is clearly connected to something unspeakable that grants him power. Maggy says she will get what she wants or his friends will suffer. 428 can feel a force pressing into his mind, beggin to be released. He attempts to bring it forth, allowing the thing to take over his body whilst he acts as nothing more than a vessel. On the overside of a wall, Brant continues to investigate the white and black sands, and Journ’ee throws a grenade at the wall, blwoing up a portion of it, and creating a doorway directly into the chamber where 428, Granuaile and Maggy currently reside. 428 contiues to tug on the power within him and a dark form shrouds around his giantkin body. His form grows, doubling in size, and muscle mass. His eyes once again turn red, and a pair of shadowy hands extends out from him, pulling a massive creature into the world. A creature of darkness and slime, with tentacles writhing around its gelatinous form. Maggy takes a step back in surprise at this unspeakable power joining with 428 rather than her.

Whilst the party is separated, Magnus has been doing a lot of reading, going over the package sent by Professor Megenof, trying to gather additional information from Gregor about the Anduwin Artefacts. He leaves the suite and chooses to do his reading in one of the hotel bars, where he notices that he is being watched. Realising this he sends a drink to the person watching him. The man walks over, and join’s Magnus, and introduces himself as Ron Wyn, a Templar of the Anduwin, who watches over the city. The arrival of the party has caught his eye and he wants to know more about where the rest of the party is and what they are doing. Magnus does not give away much information about the rest of the party, and instead tries to get information himself. He askes Ron about people with wings. At first The Templar suspects Magnus is referring to birdfolk, but then he changes his answer, commenting that people with wings are touched by the Anduwin and are thought to be the closest to them, but are also temprimental and without proper training in their powers they can become a dark danger and fall further than any Templar. The Templar asks Magnus about special items the party is interested in, and the dwarf subtly covers the parpers from Megenof, instead showing Ron Wyn the owl seal. However, this is clearly not the item Ron is looking for. Magnus requests a license for the Anduwin items the party holds, and is denied. Ron Wyn confiscates the Anduwin crystals from Magnus, and tells him that he will be watching the aprty, and will take any other illegal Anduwin items from them, before he takes his leave to his own table to finish his drinks.

In the catacombs beneath the Leaky Bible the party is attacked by the strange slimy creature with a mass of tentacles. The battle is hard, with 428 attempting to break free of the psychic hold form this powerful shadowy entity. Granuaile breaks free of Maggy’s magikal grip and swings her warhammer at the slimy being. Brant calls out insults to mock the enemies, as well as diving from the hole in the wall Journ’ee had made to an antechamber, hinding behind an overturned table, firing crossbow bolts into the fight when he can. The slime creature attempts to engulf Granuaile; the half-orc being pulled into it by the tentacles, still visible through the slime’s translucent form, but being dissolved by the internal acids of the slime. Journ’ee throws flames at the slime, and Granuaile casts her own spells from within, knowing that she cannot miss being inside the belly of the beast. 428 swings his axe at Maggy and at Journ’ee indiscriminately, unable to tell frined from foe. He struggles again the shadow’s grip, but fails to break free. From behind Brant’s table, two full blooded orcs join the fray, fighing alongside Maggy. One casts spells, while the other brandishes a greatsword in two hands, swinging recklessly. Brant tries to hide from the enemies and then attack from shadow unseen. He lunges out, and damages his rapier as he parries it into flagstone rather than flesh. Granuaile erupts thunderous magik from herself, and bursts from the slime entity. The being begins to reconstitute itself, but for now at least, the half-orc is free from its grasps. Maggy draws a strange sword to fight physically, not just magikally, but the shifting shadow over 428 terrifyies her. It attacks, passing through her, and ripping her into dust. With her dying breathe she screams “Nezhar!”

The shadow leaves 428, and seeps into the ground, as the giantkin returns to his usual size. Still large, but that nis considered normal for him. The eyes of the shadow being turn to glare at Journ’ee as the last of the darkness pours intot he earth and out of the chamber. When the shadow is fully gone, the giantkin loses consciousness and falls face down to the floor. In his blacked out haze he is gifted a vision. He sees dark hazy tunnels. A huge bronze dragon afflicted with greyscale chromatica. The dragon says something about the unshaped tower, and the vision fades. The slime and the orcs still fight, not knowing the rest of the battle is over. Journ’ee blasts fire at the slime, and one of the orcs, burning them both, and in a swift move, snuffs the life from each. With only one orc left, Brant manages to gain the combat advantage and plunges his dagger into the orc from his smaller height, unseen. The blade does the trick as the orc falls backwards, dropping its greatsword and landing on its back. There it breaks the wooden shortbow it had stowed for ranged fighting.

Orryon finds himself back in the hotel, and tries to clearn himself. His robes bloodied from the fight. He starts to scrub his hands methodically, surgically, but cannot get himself clean. Magnus returns to the suite to find his friend in distress. They talk, and Orryon tells Magnus that his magik killed a man, and that it is twisting him, turning him into something darker. Magnus leaves the room, to get the aid of Ron Wyn, as the Templar apparently knows of the fall from grace that these people with wings experience. The elf locks the door behind his friend, and continues to try to clean himself, but knows that the darkness is not on his skin, but his soul.

My will extended today. I wanted my allies to be safe. I’ve always done that by healing but now. This time, I wounded. It was a dark power. I came to a hospital set up at the battle grounds or arena and examined that blade. Before I knew more, I’d plunged the dagger into some poor injured fighter.

 

It took all of my magik and natural healing skills to save him. But that’s when I broke.

 

I was sure my influence on this world should be positive. After that night. The encounter with the shadow. Magnus’ spell.. I just don’t see a way forward.

 

I’m at the hotel in Quince now. I’ve taken a dose of the Hope. I didn’t think I’d ever use it. Its cleared my head and I feel refreshed, but somehow its still bothering me.

 

I know I’m as powerful now as I’ve ever been. I’ve been thinking I’ve tried to balance the scales. Light and Dark. All those years training. Healing.

 

Trying.

– It wasn’t enough.

 

Whats the point in trying to heal if there is such darkness in the world. I’m a single spark in a pitch night. Surrounded in Dark, and fleeting in nature.

– I’m done.

 

If it is Their will, then I will be home soon. I’ll be able to tear these pages out. If not…

 

Forgive me.

 

– Orryan Ma’Talli

The catacombs fall into an uneasy and eerie silence as 428 returns to consciousness. The party investigate what Maggy has left behind. The sword missing, but Journ’ee does find a hidden chamber. Smaller and religious in nature. Glyphs of scales line the walls, and in the centre of the room, a pool of deep crimson liquid. Behind the pool the dark Anduwin stone altar sits. It’s surface cracked and broken. Behind the altar, inside a tabernacle, the dwarf finds a scroll, containing a means to summon a powerful celestial being to the aid of whoever casts the spell. As the party begin to leave the darkness under the Leaky Bible, they notice that the children in chains and mining are all left, and Brant escorts 428 back to the hotel, while Granuaile and Journ’ee attend to their tied up prisoner. The man is missing, but they know he will not have gotten far in his bound state. The party seperates further as the dwarf and half-orc set out to find the man.  On their way, Granuaile and Journ’ee search but are also moving with purpose towards the officies of the Prime Minsiter. They want to report what they found and the links between Bellépónts and the fire. Unfortuneatly, the Prime Minister is out of the city, and so Lady Granuaile is hosted by a Broker, who offers a small reward and that Hugótaire will be asked to contact the lady upon his return.

Sat on the balcony of the suite, the night air blowing the elf’s hair across his face. He conjures chalk into his hand, and doesn’t even notice that by habit he has always created white chalk, but this time it is grey, with a darker centre. He has given up on trying to clense himself, choosing instead to draw runes around himself. Familiar runes of the Anduwin, as his mother taught him. He tries desperately to call on the link that he thought he had to the Jackal, but finds his calls are ignored. In the bar below, Magnus asks Ron looks for Ron, hoping he can help his friend who appears to be so dour. Not finding the Tempalr, the dwarf goes back upstairs and has to use magik to open the door. He spots Orryon, and sights his chalk etchings. They talk and Orryon is having trouble with using magik to kill a person. Orryon can’t keep going, knowing that all his life he has tried to heal and save life, and his magik has helped but tonight it did the opposite and took it. Whilst Orryon has skill before in self defence, this was different. He has before used fire or infections to magikally get himself out of danger. Tonight his will extended into the world, as it does when he casts healing charms, but instead of curing, it rended and wounded. Magnus worries that Orryon is behaving erratically, and suspects he has been drinking, but smells no alcohol. The elf turns, and jumps from the balcony. Magnus tries to catch his friend, but once again the Sultan’s cloak protects Orryon from being detained, allowing his self-defenistration. Magnus is unable to stop him but commands Sisero to follow his friend’s fall, as he runs down the stairs of the hotel, slowed by his wounded leg. The bird sees everything, as Magnus looks through Sisero’s eyes when it is safe to do so, all the while, praying to the Anduwin to save his friend. While Magnus is running, a Jackal appears before him and vanishes.

*Thud.*

The Jackal appears in the street before a broken bloodied body in blue robes, quickly turning red. The Jackal begins to investigate the body whilst Magnus runs out the hotel. Not bothering to fold paper boats, he casts messages to 428 and Brant, telling them what has happened. They quicken their pace. The dwarf charges around the corner, to the side of the hotel where the balcony is. Red smears the cobbled stones but the body is gone, the only signs it had even been there are the splatters of scarlet and that dar dagger sitting in the centre of where Orryon fell.