So this week on the Anduwin Chronicles…
The village is burnt and destroyed, and 428 slowly returns to the party as magikally commanded to by Brant. The party sets out trying to figure out what happened here, or how long ago the damage was done. Brant begins searching a house looking for paperwork or diaries, anything that might shine a light on the recent events in Bukká Mortainé and when this attack from Maurdórne began. Concerned about 428 and his annoying trait of walking off unaccompanied Brant makes sure that the rest of the group are aware and watching over him. The barbarian can see the smoking buildings and scorched bodies all around and is reminded of his difficult childhood growing up in a similar setting. The smell of burning bodies brings him out of his memories, but does allow 428 to recall the small hidey-holes where possible survivors could be holding up. And so he starts to search the houses and notices a wall panel different in colour and investigates. The panel comes loose and with it a screaming young girl who starts flailing and battering her tiny fists against the near indestructible giantkin. Gently taking her arms and stopping her he goes down on one knee and questions the clearly terrified surviving child. She reveals her name is Maria and she’s been hiding in the wall for days, since the attack. Maria tells him that her family is dead, and she is cold and hungry. Moved by this and remembering Tracy, another young girl who was frightened by the war, 428 takes the girl back to the others.
Magnus in this time has started to fortify a building as much as possible, by moving the broken wooden shelving to help barricade the doors, and other furniture to the windows. The hour is growing late and staying the night to plan their next move is the only real option, not knowing when the greyborn might attack, or if they will even return. 428 returns with the young Maria as Magnus completes his self appointed task of boarding up the windows. It’s obvious the child is starving, even if she hadn’t told 428 of her hiding within a secret wall panel for a few days. 428 returns to her house and come’s back with what meagre toys he can find, as a token gesture to help calm the young girl. He presents her with a spinning top and rag doll. She hugs the doll closely, but the spinning top goes unspun. She admits it belonged to her little brother.
The greyborn shot him as he ran away. Magnus shares and reflects that he knows what it’s like to lose family, particularly now. He stumbles across a bottle of wine and seeing as it’s been a distressing situation he gives the girl a very watered down cup to ease her worries, before he joins her for a mournful drink himself. They learn that the Greyborn arrived two days ago, the ship which they believe is the salvaged Orion flew overhead, turning a burning orange and firing into the city. The sky darkening as it lit up Quel Ce La Mon from above, as well as the smaller villages on the ground. Greyborn descended upon this village riding dreadbats, and ready to pillage the town. They ravaged the houses, stealing supplies and taking people prisoner. Maria managed to hide in time but they took her parents and all her friends, and as her brother tried to hide, they saw him and shot. Magnus is no fool, taking a young girl into war is not safe for either of them. He tries to persuade her to head for the Temple of Vollabuke but she refuses. The only safe place is Torque in the Dead Mire; at least that’s what her father believed. She does have family in Lá Rochelle but that is where the greyborn came from before they reached this village. Magnus considers this, and thinks that the likelihood of them being alive is slim.
In the end 428 believes she should stay in the town as the greyborn have no reason to return but if they should he plans on seeing Maria is protected and attempts to better barricade the house, burying large sharpened sticks in the ground outside. Magnus ignores the girl and focuses on his studies but she begs him to let her come and help. She believes she can be useful; she can talk to the greyborn. This unsettles Magnus. She admits to hearing dead greyborn, to hearing dead people in general. It was them who had warned her to hide in the house, and them who had kept her safe. Magnus knows of such spells that allow a temporary communication with the dead but thinks the child must be too young to have learned such magiks. Instead, he wonders out loud if this is perhaps some natural born trait, and whether the girl realises this and if she sees it as a useful gift or curse. Granuaile returns to the house after ensuring her darker warhorse is well cared for first. Whilst tending her horse, the solider found evidence that the greyborn attack has continued south, to yet more villages and settlements. When Granuaile meets Maria and learns what she’s suffered through the half-orc is reluctant to leave the child alone, or unguarded.
Meanwhile Journ’ee and Magda after stumbling upon a group of dwarven bodies begin to search for oil or pitch, something to burn the bodies properly. They unsettle him and it takes a lot to unsettle Journ’ee, reminding him of his parents and brother who he turned his back on many years ago but never stopped regretting. In his search he discovers a notable mound of scrap which he plans to put to good use, making his famous explosives which he plans to use on the greyborn invaders. In the mound he finds buried at the bottom a strange cylindrical device with Dorrnish writing, the language of the greyborn. He doesn’t understand it but takes it anyway, something to puzzle over later, if time and circumstances allow. Acquiring a large vat of oil he douses the bodies and together with the help of Magda, his familiar, he sets them alight, giving them proper funeral rites and ending what was started. Anyone else he wouldn’t have bothered but the half charred faces show him something he didn’t know he was himself dreading.
Brant on the other hand continues his search further afield; unaware of what is happening back at makeshift camp that is the barricaded house. He discovers a decrepid building possibly a council of sorts, the perfect place to find documents on recent events. In an office which may have once been that of the mayor, papers are strewn everywhere, someone has been already and ransacked the place of anything of monetary value. Suddenly, he hears a voice outside the window and looks out to see three greyborn digging through barrels, retrieving a half cooked chicken and squabbling over the scraps of meat. Their cog and gear shaped tattoos and bright orange markings declare them to be of the Dernskar Clan – experts with Máurdorne engineering, and amongst the toughest of greyborn warriors. They head in the direction of the party with neither side knowing of the other’s presence. Brant debates running ahead and warning the group, only stopping for fear that the greyborn spot him, and open fire. He summons his magikal copy, an illusion of himself who’s in a good mood today and has him cause a distraction by hitting a fallen bell, hoping the noise might alert both parties. It certainly grabs the greyborns collective attention, as they spin round and level large and awkward rifles in the direction of the noise. Three shots are fired, adding to the noises heard. The bullet fires through the illusionary Brant, disturbing the magik slightly, but leaving it unharmed.
The group, all but Journ’ee and Magda who are otherwise preoccupied, with their funeral rites, run to Brant’s aid at hearing his alarm – hoping this isn’t one of his tricks. Granuaile leaps astride Julio, 428 carrying Magnus on his shoulder and Sivarus turning into a duplicate of Julio, the warhorse and retrieving Journ’ee for the fight ahead. The group leave Maria behind in the house, as they rush to the bard’s aid. They arrive in a courtyard with Brant nowhere to be seen but the greyborn looking particularly up for some conflict and a fight. 428 deposits Magnus to the ground and dashes into the fray with Granuaile right behind him on top of her steed. Journ’ee draws on his fiery magiks to become destructive. A burst of arcane might erupts outwards from the centre of the three foes, breaking crates and wood, and emitting and ear splitting sound. The greyborn shrug off the magik, as they let out their own screams in pain and annoyance at meeting magikal attacks. They raise their guns and fire, the largest of the three with the unruly rifle fires at Journ’ee. The shot almost cripples him as he half jumps half falls off warhorse form of Sivaras and tumbles into the fountain beside him. To his surprise, the fountain is much deeper than he is expecting, the rippling water, an illusion, and so he falls through this into a secret pit where an old man, sweating with magikal strain is trying keep the illusion going. A young man, his heavily pregnant wife and daughter are hiding below under the illusion.
Brant unnoticed to all is atop the roof of a local building, sensing the power of the gun and seeing the greyborn raise it again he calls out insults to the greyborn, comparing the need for such a large weapon as a need to overcompensate for something, some short givings the greyborn might have. He weaves his vocal magik into his words and hopes this is enough to distract or damage the foes mentally. It definitely touches a nerve as the shot goes wide. Magda, Journ’ee’s flaming familiar charges forward leaving Sivarus the warhorse, as the wizard Magnus uses the power of the elemental stone of fire. He draws on its energy and sends a spell out across the battlefield through the stone. The item amplifiying his magik just as the lightning stone had done for 428 in the forest the day before. The bead of red energy flies out of the stone, and detonates a supernova of a power over the greyborn. The fire burns outwards again, but Magnus is able to sculpt the fire to protect his allies, holding back the blaze with his arcane might. The energy does brush over the party, but merely warms his shielded compatriots from his wrath. In his grief, Magnus is unable to control the raw power of the elemental stone. Whilst he holds the fire onto the greyborn and off his allies, some energy pushes back, and breaks free of his shielding, as the spell strikes Sivarus, immolating her animal form and returning to her natural blue skinned self.
Knowing there is someone atop the building one of the greyborn starts to scale the walls and fires at the ridiculing Brant Goldust. 428 manages to get a swing of his axe into the enemy as it starts its climb, but the blow isn’t enough to stop the ascent. The larger greyborn and his big gun try to fire, but in the moment he turns his weapon, there is enough of a distraction for Granuaile to charge Julio around another building and attack the rival group from behind, using her military training to flank. She brings down her big warhammer into his skull, crushing bone and flesh in one swift motion. 428 rushes in with his axe now restored to its full and natural size, which barely misses scraping against the greyborn’s thick natural armour-like scales. Annoyed by missing, the barbarian’s bones begin to spark lightning again and he fires an involuntary static shock, amplified by the air based Elemental Stone he started wearing around his neck, he taps into its power and expels a small explosion of electrical energy that’s too much for the stone being worn. The item cracks with lightning, its surface weakening, until it breaks. Scorched by the electrical energy another greyborn armed with a magikal staff of lightning and thunder, jabs 428 in the gut but as the staff connects flesh, its magik pulses into the barbarian who smiles in rage at his attacker, shrugging off the effects of the lightning staff, before he tightens his grip on his own weapon, ready to retaliate.
Back in the pit hidden by an illusion, the old man’s magik is starting to falter. The illusion of a fountain flickering in and out of focus. The old man is clearly straining himself to try and maintain the spell. Journ’ee assures the group that he is one of the good guys, which is a laughable idea even to him. He tells them to keep as quiet as they can, whilst the party take care of the greyborn before he climbs out of the pit, popping his head up out of the illusion and spotting Magnus hiding behind the rim of the fountain. He summons his blade of dark shadowy magik and charges forward. Brant meanwhile attempts to stop a greyborn in his tracks by magikally fixing his body with a temporary paralysis. The spell manages to take effect on the one whose coming after him, as the enemy paralyzes, freezing in his tracks. At the same time Magda runs through 428’s legs and attempts to grab the spear wielders ankle to set him alight but the foe skips out of her touch and into the cloud of acid and poison that Sivaras spits his way from her serpentine poison glands. The spray of toxins chokes the foe, with blood gushing from his nostrils, burning him from inside, as he falls to his knees.
Granuaile fuelled by the death of one assailant, brings her hammer down again on the large greyborn, breaking through his defences, her hammer catches a nerve and he drops his gun which hits the hard ground. As it strikes the earth, its energy core is revealed – a rather large and unstable looking Anduwin Crystal which shatters on impact. There is an immense explosion of brilliant energy as the crystal breaks. The radiant power kills Magda who explodes in a fiery ball, though her own explosion is a much less impressive bout as she returns to the primordial fires of her home world on the Planet of Fire – Galt. There she must remain until she can be summoned back by Journ’ee. 428 is badly hit by the explosion as is everyone else but he is unstoppable. The pain merely seeming to spur him on. His rage, relentless. Tearing through his pain he charges towards the last remaining greyborn fighting through Brant’s paralysis spell. Just as 428 reaches them, with his axe swinging in for the kill the greyborn breaks free of the control and brings his gun up. Point-blank. Shoots.
428 is hit in the chest, his axe continuing its descent cuts through the Greyborn and both fall to the ground to sink into death that beckons them. Blood is gushing from 428’s chest, the bullet having pierced deep and nicking an artery.
Journ’ee, acting fast comes to his side and casts his just for emergencies spell, which begins to close 428’s wounds. It’s enough to stabilize 428 who is on the cusp of dying. Together with Sivaras’ help, they draw the bullet out and patch up the warrior as best they can. With 428’s warm sticky blood still on his hands he turns to Sivarus after depositing the bullet on 428’s chest. Swearing from her that she tell him all about what transpired here today and how she saved 428’s life, she’s too stubborn to admit it but she needs 428 alive even if she doesn’t trust him and knows just how much of a mistake the giantkin is. Sivarus wants him to prove his worth to her by proving his worth to the group. His recklessness with his own life is not meeting her wishes. Assured of 428’s recovery they search the bodies and discover amongst the bullets and guns the magikal staff that contains obvious storm magik, as well as a map. The three were merely scouts and their disappearance surely won’t go unnoticed for long. The party cannot linger here. The map also shows a circle over the city of Vulcron and a cross over the Dartmoor Institute, which Magnus points out as known Bukká Mortainé locations.
Journ’ee slips back into the fountain, and through the illusion assuring the group there are safe. With this, the old man faints from exhaustion unfortunately all the excitement has brought about the woman’s pregnancy a little sooner than expected as she goes into labour. Journ’ee is not prepared for this and calls for Sivarus and Granuaile. Both women and one with medical training, the dwarf hopes that they can help as he assists the others out of the pit. It’s a rather quick and realtively painless birth of a baby boy; Journ’ee offers his flag of the country Skalt which he’s carried on his person for nearly 30 years to wrap the baby. In all the commotion of birth, the daughter has wandered and come across Julio whose eyes she unwavering stares into. No one sees it happen but the child suddenly freezes and crumbles to the ground paralyzed. Magnus ignores all the congratulations and hand shaking that goes on when a child is born and retrieves Julio, also ignoring the paralyzed girl. He wakes 428 into consciousness, immediately ordering him to move the one greyborn body that didn’t get destroyed in the radiant explosion onto Julio’s back which Magnus leads back to Maria so she can question the body and prove her ability to speak with and hear the dead. The paralyzed girl draws attention from the party and her parents, but Journ’ee manages to persuade the parents that she merely fainted, overcome in all the excitement of having a baby brother. Brant recognizes the signs having experience with such spells and searches for a possible cure in a local apothecary. The others load a cart with the family and a still weak 428 carries it back to the safehouse.
They arrive at the house to see Julio waiting outside with the greyborn slumped in a heap on the floor beside him. 428 immediately crumbles beside the stallion, his bandages soaked with blood having pushed himself too far too soon after his near death ordeal. Journ’ee enquires about his health and receives only contempt from 428 who doesn’t trust him as far as he can throw him which is quite far, though he’d likely have to have a few practice swings. Journ’ee perseveres and warns him to slow down, calling Sivarus over and donating his own medicinal supplies to re-wrap the wounds before the dwarf heads back into the house. Magnus is busying himself his own needs and it becomes clear the girl Maria had gone, leaving the minute the group had left. 428 stumbles to his feet and starts the search for the missing girl, ignoring everyone’s advice to rest. She never returned to her hidey-hole but Granuaile picks up her trail heading west, probably towards the Deadmyres. They head out on foot believing that she can’t have gotten far. They see her in the distance and approach; she’s actually waiting for them. Granuaile finds she’s unable to get any closer however, her whole body freezing on the spot, a regular occurrence recently. 428 takes the next few steps alone unaffected as Maria turns and two large skeletal wings unfold from her back. The tips laces with spines and a thin layer of leathery black skin stretches between each bone. Her malicious smile unnaturally terrifying in its intensity. She informs 428 that their shared Master is waiting and is most disappointed that he didn’t come earlier when called. With a sweep of her wings she flies upwards and presses her finger to his forehead, a wave of calm overcomes 428 but he resists the urge to relax and keeps his guard up. Maria is impressed by his resistance, and so she grabs 428’s hand and presents him with a gift from their Master, or a punishment. 428 is overcome by a searing pain and not even he can hold back the cries of anguish as his flesh is burned from his hand, falling off in chunks of ash, clean white bone revealed underneath, the pain becomes too much for him and he blacks out.