So, this week in the Anduwin Chronicles….

Journ’ee takes the first watch of the night, having volunteered and not feeling tired after his conversation with 428. He stands above Lady Granuaile while she sleeps, and remains there until the half-orc wakes. Granuaile takes over the watch and while the others sleep she hears Magnus muttering to himself, as well as seeing him stagger out into the street wearing his underalls but carrying nothing else. He is chattering about meeting the Grey and about how if he speaks with them, he can get his sons back. He seems dazed and not wholly present in his own mind. The wizard walks out the house into the night air, wearing very little indeed, and still seeming to be not altogether mentally speaking. Granuaile follows him outside, after noticing his odd behaviour whilst keeping an eye out for possible threats to the rest of the sleeping party. The half-orc picks up the dwarf with her impressive strength and attempts to calm the muttering and stuttering wizard. This calming effect is well received and together they begin to walk back towards the safe house. On their way back to the house a bright light illuminates the street so completely that it appears to be daylight for a moment. A small orb of floating light appears, and is what is creating this midnight sun. The orb floats in one spot, and choral music starts to be heard by the pair. The ground around and beneath the orb begins to warp in strange ways around the illumination. The sphere of light moves slowly as the shape also warps. It twists and changes, elongating, and stretching. The ball becomes a cylinder with two domed rounded ends. Four nubs of light start to grow from the bottom of the cylinder, whilst a fifth stalk of light reaches out of the top of one of the domes. The four nubs below continue to reach towards the ground, forming narrow, delicate legs, whilst the stalk on top grows and thickens, forming a head cervidic in nature. From the head, ears, and above them two more stalks, reaching upwards into the sky, the whole shape still glowing throughout, and somehow becoming lighter and brighter as there is more of it. The head stalks begin to divide and divide until the transformations stop and before Magnus and Granuaile stands the form of a stag. The avatar of Kaine. The stag is made of pure light and moves towards Granuaile and Magnus. It takes steps as such as creature would when it moves, but its radiant hooves never touch the ground. Granuaile thinks back on her own interactions with the Anduwin, and she senses that Magnus is “meant” to go with the stag. She asks it to look after Magnus and try to grant him peace if it is needed or get him to his children in this life or the next. Magnus says his farewells to Granuaile. He turns and walks towards the stag, before the stag turns away from the dwarf. Magnus leaves with the stag and as the two near each other the creature returns to its orb form before the two fade away gradually, Magnus walking next to the orb into the dark distance. The night eventually takes over the radiance, either by their distance from Granuaile, or by some other Anduwomantic sorcery, leaving Granuaile standing alone in the street in the dark to complete her watch, which she does with no further incidents or events. As tiredness starts to take over the half-orc, she wakes Sivaras to take over keeping an eye out for threats.

Sivaras takes her watch. During this time a man approaches her with a revolver of sorts demanding to speak with Hugh. After a scuffle a conversation begins.

The man is also looking for Ellis Dumont (an individual who is the last known person to have held the Sword of Marr). The man says there could be a lot of gold for any useful information. He admits he works for the King before naming himself as Harper Lee.

Haper takes his leave to allow the group time to discuss his proposal and their next course of action. After the early morning intrusion of Haper, the party individually realise that Magnus is missing. A search is agreed and people start to don their armour, and collect their weapons, before Lady Granuaile shares what happened to the wizard, showing the party the possessions he left behind.

After a quiet breakfast still not sure what has happened to Magnus, and his disappearance with Kaine’s light avatar, the group settles that for now at least all roads are leading to Quel Ce La Mon. Hugh and Haper both appear to have business with the group in the capital city, and Brant raises that he believes that the city should their be the main objective now as well, due to the risk to the monarchy and the country’s leadership. The camp in the house is mostly packed due to Magnus’ early morning departure and the other adventurers all collecting their own items when it was thought a search party was needed. Farewells are said to the civilians who decide to stay behind, and Granuaile and 428 ensure that the safe house remains just that after the group depart the village.

The air is cool in the Bukká snow, and as the group walks, the bard shares a story of one of his exploits. Though this is not just bragging but potentially something useful tactically. He was once part of a mission to scout out and bring down a greyborn vessel. The Andromedera, the larger sister ship to the Orion. Whilst Brant’s mission was successful, the Andromedera now flies again, but he does still recall the details of schematics and designs. His memory draws attention to the greyborn having some powerful teleportation and shielding magik on board their crafts, and so they can vanish and reappear with great energy spent, but seemingly little effort. The ships are also well protected, so a retaliative strike against the Máurdorne aggressors would likely be futile and fatal. The plan is simple. Move fast over ground for as long as they are able, then when it is required, slow the pace and stealth nearer to the city. The elder of the family, the man who had been casting the illusion of the fountain, tells Journ’ee that under Quel Ce la Mon there is a void with a temple that The Templars visited fifty years ago. It is rumoured that the Order found and took a simple wooden shield from this void temple. The party think for a moment about the city and Bukká’s favoured Anduwin, as well as the artefacts they keep being sent into the world to find and retrieve. Could this shield truly be one such artefact? With the appearance of the Sword of Marr and the Lantern of Light perhaps this is more than coincidence. This could be the final item. Vollabuke’s Courage. The one so many scholars have argued of the nature of; this simple wooden shield could be much more than it appears. Particularly if the Templar Order were so interested in obtaining it. The old man continues to explain to the group that the temple beneath the city was once guarded by a powerful magik shield that prevented anyone from accessing it, but over time, the magik may have weakened. The elder says he used to tutor at a magik school for Druidic and Shamanistic arts, recognising Sivaras’ own druidic style of spellcraft.

428 takes up the trunk of Magnus’ possessions, strapping the additional weight to his own back. The giantkin does not want to abandon the trunk, as he is hopeful that Magnus will return to the party. The snaky druid, Sivaras, approaches 428, whilst he is affixing the trunk to his back. She manages to convince him that if she borrows the wizard’s spell book she could learn his spells, having seen how powerful he was in the battle with the cephalopod only a few days before. 428 provides this under the agreement of it being a loan. Sivaras confirms she will study the book, and learn the dwarf’s spells to step into his magikal shoes whilst he is away from the group. Journ’ee asks for a map of the city from the family’s elder, given his knowledge of the void cavern beneath. No such map is available, as it is a sewer system in the city, and he has only heard rumours of the void temple, not actually visited it. However, on a surface map of the city, the elder does mark out where sewer entrances are most likely to be. Given Brant’s history in the city and his personal relationship with the prince of the country, he feels confident he will be able to help the group navigate the sewer network, and be able to work out where in the city these routes would leave the underground, and bring the party back onto the surface.

The party makes it only a short while before reaching a downed water tower. As Brant and Journ’ee inspect the tower, it appears it hasn’t fallen under natural means, nor was it shot down by greyborn. This appears to have been cut more recently. Guns fire at the cart the group took from the village, and it is soon clear that they are under attack. Brant is able to induce a more powerful magik paralysis than before, this time freezing two targets where they stand, and holding them, unable to resist or move. In the same instant, the blue skinned druid once again pulls moisture from the air, and the snow beneath them, and shapes it into a blade, before flicking her wrist and sending the sharpened water. Her blade misses, but as it strikes the ground, it explodes into sharp icy shards, whilst Journ’ee simultaneously punts another small burst of magik which ignites the ground that Sivaras’ had just frozen, and a bonfire stirs up and flame begins to lick at one of the paralysed gunmen. 428 drops from the cart seeing that the attackers are not greyborn, he puts up his hands and “surrenders”, seemingly not wanting to fight and kill people who are not the known enemy. Lady Granuaile keeps the cart moving, by spurring Julio onwards. The cart moves slightly further forward, but the attackers demand the party put their weapons down and parley. Brant walks out, maintaining his magik over the two men he has frozen in place. He tries to goad one of the riflemen, but his insults either aren’t heard, or aren’t as chiding as he thinks. Sivaras too jumps from the cart to join the fray properly. She runs initially, but then drops into a more deliberate but slower walk. Her staff hangs down, with its cobra hood nearly scooping the snow. The snake’s eyes on her staff seem to glow, as she manipulates more runes on her staff. Dark smoke rises around her and the staff, as the plant life around her begins to wither, loosing all moisture and form, becoming crisp and dry and dead. The combined effect of Brant’s spells and Sivaras’ black magik seems to be enough to induce a sense of fear and dread into three of the attackers baring rifles and muskets. As black smoke starts to take form, she nudges it into a serpentine shape. The ethereal snakes ebb from her and she demands the attackers drop their guns. Their fear intensifies, and they surrender, but Journ’ee is still burning for combat. He has a habit of running hot, and is keen to see his fires not go to waste. A fourth shooter is sighted on a nearby roof still armed, and having not yet been targeted by any spells or attacks. Journ’ee demands he drop his weapon, but this order goes unheeded. In the instant the gunman hesitates to disarm himself, a fireball is launched from the dwarf, directly at the man. The whole building is immolated as an inferno rages to level the structure. The snow underfoot doesn’t turn to water, but instantly changes to steam, and evaporates away. The flames are powerful, but do not seem to be long lasting, as they seem to have starved their own fuel source, leaving scorched earth behind. The fourth gunman stands atop the wreckage of the building.

Unharmed.

Harper.

428 continues to try his peaceful approach. In response to the fire, he bull rushes the dwarf before he punches Journ’ee. Partially as a reaction for destroying the building, but also as a means to get him to stop concentrating his magik on the bonfire that is still licking and now burning the paralysed man. The punch hurts but is not in itself enough pain to make the dwarf react and forget about focusing on his magik. Granuaile calls over to Harper, who appears to be the lone survivor of his group. She convinces him to throw down his gun, which he does, as he surrenders. His only resistance to the group is a half-hearted fight to demand to know where Hugh Hapsburg is. Two more riflemen step out of their hiding places, as Granuaile makes her way to pick up the weapon, having seen how formidable they can be. Harper warns the gun will only talk to him. Granuaile picks up the gun and is instantly paralyzed, as some orange magik bursts through her She remains bent over, as though in the middle of a motion. Her fingers only just brushing the weapon’s cold metal body. 428 comes forward and kicks the gun from Granuaile’s fingers, and back to Harper, who is able to release Granuaile from the paralysis effect. Brant tries to talk to Harper, whilst Journ’ee remains hostile toward his attacker. Harper reveals that he actually works for the King of The Ultrek Federation, who is sometimes called The Mad King. Brant discovers that there may be three Anduwin artefacts in the city, which the group had theorised about, but now there is confirmation. The Sword of Marr, the Lantern of Light and Vollabuke’s Courage all lay in wait for the party, if fate allows. The Mad King is interested in finding them, as it seems are many other people, including the Emperor of Máurdorne. Journ’ee instructs the ambushers to all to leave their guns and run away. As the three comply, Brant warns Journ’ee against any destructive action, having seen what happens when guns are damaged. Journ’ee ignores the halfling, and creates another bonfire beneath the guns. Brant, 428 and Sivaras canter away on the cart, with Granuaile mounted on Julio and ready to flee, and seeing the dwarf’s spell having been cast, she picks him up onto her own horse and the pair rides at their greatest speed. The fire heats up and the dwarf encourages it to burn more and more, until the metal begins to melt and break open. The fire connects with the Anduwin Crystal in the gun’s chamber, and the bonfire is considerable amplified. At sixty feet tall, it calls the attention of the Orion war ship from above the city. A battle cry of the vessel is heard thundering through the air above. Turning, Granuaile is able to spot the next threat. She calls out to warn the rest of the party who in turn, turn their attention skyward. A swarm of giant bats, with greyborn riders is flying out of the Orion, and making its way in the direction of the fire. The bat’s murmuration is wild, and on its edges stray riders fly off towards the coast, and the villages, and the Temple of Vollabuke. The bulk of the horde however, begins to dive towards the fire signal, and the party.

The group ride hard, damaging the cart as they approach a ravine. Hundreds of feet across and at least twice as deep. The bats continue to fly towards the fire spout which continues to rage even without the addition of magik from Journ’ee. The cart is drawn to a stop, knowing that it will be unable to make its way into the ravine with nearly vertical edges. The giantkin doesn’t waste time, and has no intention of being captured by the greyborn. He starts to climb down, hanging over the edge of the gorge, before he swings one powerful fist into the rock. His bone spikes on his knuckles digging into rock. He repeats the action with his other hand, and before long he is punch-climbing his way down the rock, gradually descending in relative safety towards a potential hiding place. Brant employs a more dramatic means to climb down. He tumbles, and flips. Whirling his small body from outsticking tree roots, to the holds 428 has made from his punches. The bard appears to be free running, using his own momentum to help him overtake the giantkin’s slow punching downward climb. Lady Granuaile is almost at a loss, until in her pack, she runs her fingers over her elemental orb. She takes this out, and touches the orb to Julio’s head, and summons the magik of the element of air into her steed, hoping that the wind will help the horse and half-orc to reach the base of the gorge safety. Rather than just wind and air, the magik takes hold and Julio grows flaming wings and is seemingly able to fly. The solider and Journ’ee, who rides with her, both fly down atop the firey winged Julio. The blue skinned woman once again folds her body into a new form. Her skin darkens, and becomes hairier, and larger. Her body appears to be creating mass and muscle out of thin air. All the while she keeps running, and jumps down the ravine after the party, continuing to transform, until the woman is gone, and a brown bear is using its claws to scale down after everyone else. From her vantage point on top of Julio, Granuaile spots a dark tunnel half way down the ravine, and directs the fiery dark pegasus towards it. The horse, flying, arrives first, followed by Brant and his parkour. Sivaras, still in the form of a bear is third, and 428 the last to arrive, having punched his way down. Within, the tunnel smells damp. Only Granuaile and Journ’ee can see in the dark as Brant and 428’s eyes have never been able to manage this. And in her bear form even Sivaras cannot see in the dark. Granuaile lights a lantern to help out, and the group makes its way deeper into the tunnel. Quietly, and treading softly. Overhead explosions and deep thuds of weaponry can be heard, but the dreadbat assault doesn’t seem to reach this far underground.

And that’s where we left off…