A Golem Town

As the party approached the waypoint, marked only by a campsite and a lean-to for firewood, they spotted a lonely adventurer sitting by the fire. He appeared simple save for an intricate tattoo of a chain on his arm. Reade greeted the newcomer carefully, but he was just as wary and confused as they were. He introduced himself as Higara Naminae and claimed he had no memory of how he arrived there save something in a dream. The party accepted this tentatively, preferring to wait until he could prove himself. With nowhere to go, Higara asked to accompany the party for at least a little while and they agreed. With this newcomer, they continued on down the road toward Aventurine.

Nothing terribly interesting occurred along the way, but within a few days of trailblazing a town came into view. It sat on the Sartrune River, perhaps the same size as Gospen (sans walls), with a number of banners flying above the entrance. Strangely two emblems flew, one belonging to the well-known Baroness Gwenett de Sal, an azure shield atop a field of green with a dragon rampant. The other, unknown, was simpler, composed of red-black-red diagonal bars with the black bearing thorns and a stylized red heart in the center. The former definitely looked like the rest of the land, but the latter had clearly been placed there since the curse. Exploring the town revealed that, like Gospen, the houses within were a mix of grey and green orbs. Toward the center lay a church to Echoe, surrounded by a green barrier.

Eizen and the others examined the barrier, but there was no sign of any seal of Myotismon nearby or any undead attacking the temple. Uncertain of what to do, the party waited for a while, on the lookout for any nearby undead. It was not too long after that a group of ghosts and specters came upon them and attacked. Unlike Gospen, they were accompanied by a golem, created by debris of building materials, dirt, and trash, stuff that may have been more easily obtained from the strange curse that lay across the city. The golem hit hard, but Higara proved himself to be an apt fighter, channeling dark eldritch energies and a mysterious infernal chain. Eizen was wary of this, of course, but after the fight, holed up in a nearby house for safety, Higara explained his background and motivations, enough to placate the paladin at least. With this new news in hand, as well as the news of Gospen, the next day they fled the town to return to Theld.

En route, they met with Emlyn Anrai back in the village of Aelynn, in the great estate. Emlyn was happy to see his friend Reade, again, and they discussed research and the orbs and undead. Emlyn didn’t have much interesting information to impart, but he requested that they try to find some carinite. Reade acquiesced and they continued on their way.

Once they returned, they were surprised to find that Wilhorn had been busy building a few new houses. He was glad to see his friends safe and sound, having heard of the horrible fates many adventurers had met with (and having seen some of the weirdness within for himself). He greeted the party and did a good job selling them on some land at a cheap rate. Eizen went and marked out a few acres for himself but the other two were less interested at the time. They were eager to speak to Theld, but the priest of Manny was rather unhappy at their news. Less grumpy than before, the news of the undead was greatly concerning to him. Clearly, he said, some agents of Myotismon were hiding with the fog, up to no good and somehow converting souls to undead. The church of Echoe, and its sphere of echite, down in Gospen were very intriguing, though. He speculated that there might be a way to use it similarly to the echite bracelets, but clearly a priestess of Echoe would be needed. Thus he tasked them with either going to fetch one, returning to Gospen, or investigating Volea.

With these options, and Emlyn’s request to go find some carinite, in mind. Eizen wrote some letters and the party decided to take a break from the curse and go seek out a priestess.

A Ghost Town

The party set off without delay. It seemed Reade and Emlyn knew each other from their past and spent a lot of time catching up on research. Reade had once been a cleric, but turned from Vardalon to the arcane arts of a wizard upon receiving a strange riddle set forth by a dead colleague. Emlyn, on the other hand, had focused their study on the gods themselves, being intrigued by the events of Zerstorung and what followed. She elected to stay behind in Keldrin, claiming to have much research to do and the party continued on, through Yawmarch to Aelynn where they summarily destroyed the seal of Myotismon, which had been fortunately not activated.

Upon reaching the crossroads they turned to the South toward the town of Gospen. Thanks to the weirdness of time and space within the fog, they were able to blaze a trail quickly, reaching the empty, walled city within a few days. Inside they found a mixture of green and gray orbs, but no other sign or traces of Meg and David. A temple of Echoe resided within the city, itself sealed by a strange green wall and another seal of Myotismon. Destroying the seal lowered the barrier, suggesting it may have been defensive, and the party entered. They didn’t find much interesting within the church’s upper floor, but the basement contained a massive sphere of Echite. While too large to move, it explained why the church was free of the mist that lay everywhere else, though the priestess and acolytes had clearly been caught in the main curse. They also found a dagger of echite which allowed itself to be taken and moved, perhaps because of its inherent dream qualities.

Further exploration of the city revealed a strange black ooze within a particular bakery. It shied away from the echite dagger and seemed more interested in retreating than attack. The party pressed it anyway, but ultimately were unsuccessful as Reade set fire to the building and Arryn attempted to pick up a red-hot pot (badly burning his hand and dropping it on his foot, failing his concentration and losing the spell). In the flaming confusion, the ooze fled. Eizen put out the fire and made to leave, but as they walked through the streets they realized that with the sun going down, various undead were beginning to creep out of the woodwork. The party retreated to the church for the night, which was hallowed ground and safe from attack. In the morning, the party left, though not before determining that if they could locate a priestess of Echoe, she could perform some ritual on the echite sphere to expand its influence across the whole town.

As they went to return, they were ambushed by a ghost and its specter lackeys. The very sight of the ghost frightened Reade and Eizen (who was so horrified by the image of his dead wife that he aged 10 years), but didn’t bother Arryn at all. In fact, Arryn seemed to know a bit about the ghost and charged at it while his friends recovered from the shock. He was initially successful, but he was overconfident and allowed the ghost to possess him. Fortunately the ghost was bad at being Arryn and causing harm, and Reade and Eizen were rather competent at destroying the specters. Reade put Arryn to sleep and together hurt the ghost enough to cause it to retreat. Feeling unsafe within the city, the party quickly left and made camp a safe distance away.

After a long rest, they continued onward during the night. Arryn redeemed himself by helping them avoid another fight through a cunning illusion of a strange brown paper box over their carriage. But after that things only became strange. They traveled through the night and into the morning, but as they went the landscape shifted and altered slightly, become more forested and less foggy. By the time they realized, though, there was no turning back: they had wandered into Faerie. Hearing nearby satyrs making music, they put on a small show with Arryn’s bagpipes and Eizen’s (bad) dancing and some fireworks from Reade. Though ultimately outclassed by the satyrs, the fey were amused by such a good show that one of them offered a gift in return: a small golden harp, or the path home.

At first they elected to take the path home, but the satyr pressed on, saying it was the Harp of Fflewddur Fflam. Reade revealed that Fflewddur Fflam was an ancient character out of myth who preceeded the breaking of Abraxas. How he was connected to the adventure was uncertain, especially as, after they refused it a second time, the satyr mentioned it would help them get into Aventurine. At this the party debated with themselves long. Was it better to take the certain path home but be faced with a mystery later, or obtain help and information about said mystery at the cost of the certainty of return? Eizen wanted to go home while Reade wanted the harp. In the end, Arryn chose to go home as well and they thanked the satyr and started back.

Before they left, however, Eizen asked if the fey had seen any sign of Red Ring Rico, an adventurer who had gone missing in the fog and whom Theld had tasked them to look for. The satyr asked what they would give in return and Arryn offered a story. The satyr said that he would have two chances to produce a story they hadn’t heard before, or else the deal was off. Arryn’s first attempt was of the great Lucasian Cycle, a well-known saga among the fey concerning the family of the Sky-Walkers and their destiny as great warrior-monks and wielders of Sabers of Light. Arryn was thoroughly mocked and instead told a story of how a charismatic bard seduced two maidens but was nearly killed by a gnomish assassin. At this the satyr’s reluctantly applauded him and informed Eizen that they knew nothing of Rico: she had not passed this way before, but others had asked of her in the past. At this the two groups parted ways and the party returned to Lyrise, near the campsite that served as the expedition’s final waypoint.

With some debate as to their next move, and plenty of echite remaining, they elected to move on towards Aventurine, to try and get as close as they can.

A New Adventure

Three years after Liberation Day

’Tis a fine evening when three strangers, going in three directions, all meet at a crossroads. Waiting for them was a minstrel wearing the colors of purple and blue. She greeted them with a game of chance, telling their fortunes and explaining that to remember their dreams, they would have to go East. From the North came Eizen, a paladin of Olim, sworn to protect the weak from criminals. From the East came Wilhorn, a noble Sorcerer of Calisaele seeking adventure and purpose. From the South came Arryn, a bard whose motivations are hidden behind his ever charming and shifting facade. To the East they would go, toward the mysterious sealed land of Lyrise. All they knew was that it was sealed, and the fortune given by the minstrel:

“The silver moon sleeps on a throne not hers, thrust into an emerald sea.
While she sleeps the world not stirs, yet awakened she must be.
As she sleeps her binding fades but if she wakes then death will loom.
Lurecia’s Jewel will be her salvation and her doom.”

Not long after they arrived at a waystation, consisting of little more than a tavern and a small shrine to Manny, run by Brother Theld. After an exciting evening’s brawl, Theld sent them off in the morning with the mission entrusted to all in Sister Elone’s expedition: reach Aventurine. To allow them safe passage they were given pieces of Echite, the only protection from the strange fog that pervades the land and seals off the country. Without the Echite, Theld warned them, they would be lost in lands of sleep and dream, or driven mad, or attacked by terrible creatures. Even with the Echite there was no guarantee of safety, but at least they had a path to follow, made by other adventurers before them.

The land within was dreamlike in many ways. Though night fell, it never became dark. Time moved strangely and often could be heard the bells of the fey. Few objects could be altered permanently save what was brought in from outside. Some things could be taken, but as they learned in the first waypoint (a village named Keldrin), anything they picked up would return to its original place within a minute or so. Furthermore, it seemed all the inhabitants of the land, even the animals, were locked in some sort of magical stasis. Within every house floated green orbs, which when touched revealed the image of the person locked within. They could not be moved or interacted with in any way, but seeing other orbs along the path as they went, it was clear that losing their Echite would mean most likely meeting the same fate.

In the second waypoint, the village of Yawmarch, the caravan happened upon two other adventurers: Margaret (Meg) and David, cooking a stew in the expedition’s supply station. Arryn was immediately suspicious of this and asked them a number of questions concerning their identity very aggressively, but the two merely wished to invite the party to dinner. Feeling certain they were cannibals, Arryn drew his weapon and attacked. David responded by biting his neck and draining his life, but quick action from Wilhorn put them to sleep. Upon killing David, they noticed that he turned into mist, and so tied up Meg to wait for her to wake. She refused to answer their questions, though, mocking their ignorance until Eizen blasted her with divine power and turning her to mist as well, though not before confirming she was an undead.

With the two ghosts killed, the party continued to the third waypoint, a larger town known as Aelynn. The place was dominated by a large mansion on the hill, later revealed by Theld to be the house of the Vantrell family who owned the land and were a major producer of sheep and wool for the country. They would have continued straight through if it were not for the strange findings in the town. The orbs in every house, save the mansion, were not green and vibrant, but gray and crumbling to dust. No image arose from them and no spell could determine what had happened. Outside of the mansion was drawn in blood a magic circle bearing the sigil and marks of Myotismon, acting as a beacon or marker. They chose to leave it alone, entering the mansion instead. Inside they found little of interest save for a strange, secret dungeon accessible from a games room. Theld later confirmed the dungeon to have been a place for the nobles to engage in some more interesting nightly activities, but it contained no clues to the curse, Aventurine, or the mystery of the grey orbs.

With a little more Echite available the party pressed on to the end of the path, a small campsite where different adventurers had had different ideas of the next way to go. To the North-East lay the road to Aventurine. To the South-East lay a trail to other towns, and to the North-West ran a trail back toward the coast and Manscell, in hopes of finding a faster route into the country. Tracks left by some previous travelers led to the South-East and the party followed them for a day or so, until the path ended. With little Echite, they returned to Brother Theld to report on their news.

The Brother was frightened by the news of the gray orbs and furious at their handling of Meg and David and the seal of Myotismon in Aelynn. He informed them the tracks they had followed were most likely left by Meg and David as they were almost certainly not dead. Giving them larger crystals of Echite, suitable for blazing a trail, he charged them with the quest to follow their tracks, bless the remaining orbs to protect them, destroy the seal in Aelynn, and try to find Meg and David. They had until the morning to leave, but as they retired for the night they ran into a mysterious stranger in the tavern: Emlyn Anrai, a scholar doing research in the area. They convinced Emlyn to accompany them inside after some cajoling and careful persuasion.

Meanwhile, yet another adventurer, a wizard named Reade, found his way to the town on his own mission to join the expedition. Feeling crowded, and sensing a purpose in building this town and thereby acquiring wealth and power, Wilhorn elected to stay behind to oversee things. He subsequently named the place “Wilhorn’s Edge.”

Come morning, the party set off, this time to blaze a trail and discover just what mysteries lay within.

Finale and Epilogue
In two parts

The Battle of Manny

War. Not a war of swords and magic, but a war of beliefs and ideals. Such a war had raged on Ferros for nearly a year between the Church of Manny and the Wyrd. Their agents, the Holy Liberators and the Fatespinners, fought for the hearts and minds of the people, pitting their ideals of freedom against each other. The Fatespinners preached the demise of the gods and the ability to bring about one’s own destiny over that chosen by the Seamstress. The Liberators preached that by joining with Manny, his spirit would help everyone overthrow the tyranny of the Wyrd. As with all holy wars, the mortals battled with no knowledge of the true games of the gods.

From Kal’renth came a dragonkin, Schrazon, to the Church’s headquarters to speak with Perilune Claire. While in the Abyss, Schrazon had come across one of the few safe havens in the infernal realm. There, he had received a vision of an axe, mighty and radiant, facing a triad of weapons: a sword of darkness, a staff of fire, and a wheel of lightning. Together they fought the axe and overcame it and once they did, they set about destroying a large tapestry. When he awoke, Schrazon prayed to Erick for guidance and, after defeating a small infinite swarm of demonflies, returned to seek out the axe. The Perilune listened to his story and explained that it represented the final battle. Should Manny fall, the Wyrd would set about destroying all of creation. That Schrazon had received this vision meant that the gods had chosen him to help Manny. Schrazon was unconvinced but upon her adivce, went to speak with Herald Frederick. While Frederick had not received word of this, upon Schrazon’s arrival, Frederick was suddenly possessed by a mighty Solar. Schrazon threw himself down before the power of goodness as it was proclaimed that he was to join the Exalted Dreadnaught in battle. With a crash of thunder, the angel and Schrazon were gone.

From the Astral Plane came an Unbodied. For centuries it had existed in the airy void as a small remnant of some psychic energy, occasionally feasting on vestiges of psionic energy found in gith corpses. Eventually it gained enough energy that it gained sentience. Now it recognized its hunger for what it was and began actively seeking out gith. At first it could only take the weakest of them, but over time it became skilled at disguising itself and hiding amongst them, silently killing in alleys and on voyages. For some time it went unnoticed, but went an astral ship went out for a routine voyage and never came back, it began to arouse suspicion. The ship was found, but the only body not present had been that of the Unbodied. Skilled psions and hunters among the gith recognized the psionic signatures and sent out a hunting party. Now the Unbodied found itself on the run. It found its way to Limbo where it hid from the gith in the formless chaos. But amidst chaos there is order and it was found by the githzerai almost immediately. These cousins of the githyanki saw a potential in the Unbodied and gave it strict training with their own psions. It proved to be very effective at blending in with both the societies of the githyanki and the illithids and consumed many of their psychic energies until one day a man dressed in robes with the bluest eyes arrived at the monastery. The gith treated this stranger with hostility at first, but with a glance they cowered and with a wave of his hand their powers failed them. Only when a monk greeted him as Lord Jomy Marquis did the rest of the monastery bow. The Unbodied had never seen such reverence or resentment before. The man asked for the Unbodied and beckoned it over. The Unbodied could not resist and for a time they spoke. Jomy told him of a great disturbance to the world and a chance to find meaning. If the Unbodied would help, Jomy would finally sate its hunger and it would find a greater purpose in life. The Unbodied looked back at the monks for encouragement but found only blank faces. This would be his choice. Jomy reached out his hand. The Unbodied took it and they vanished.

In the Arena, Manny waited. With him stood St. Alice and St. Marissa. Forbidden from the material plane, they had come to deliver champions from their gods to him. Behind St. Alice opened a gate and through it stepped a dragonkin, Schrazon, outfitted in truly epic-level gear. St. Marissa gestured and through a tear in reality came the Unbodied. The saints gave both of them their blessings and returned to their gods’ sides. For three days Manny tested these champions in combat. Having never been a very sophisticated man, he preferred a good fight to a cup of coffee. By the end, while they were not best of friends, they were close and stood together in spirit. It was time. Three months ago Lachesis had issued Manny a challenge, a final battle to decide the fate of the world to avoid a prolonged holy war. A month later Manny accepted. Lachesis had given him the key to a custom demiplane created just for this battle. Now the three comrades stood before the door. Manny held out his hand, and the door opened.

The battlefield consisted of a large tiled slab of stone suspended in space. Around them, galaxies turned and nebulae glowed. Above them turned a great wheel and the sigils of Manny and Lachesis were burned into the stone on either side of the area. The walls were transparent walls of force, literally the walls of reality. Manny, Schrazon, and the Unbodied entered from one side, Lachesis and Severus from the other. In the air appeared a mightily radiant Solar bearing the symbol of the Seamstress and carrying a book of Nephrale, claiming he was here to observe in the name of the Seamstress. There were no other pleasantries. Severus opened with the creation of a clone and an Anvil of the Gods and Lachesis with a technique that seemed to bend the reality around them, infusing the space around Manny with negative energy. Schrazon responded with a charge on Severus which he only barely survived. He retreated behind a prismatic wall while Manny charged Lachesis. But the deity of luck had himself on his side and only said, “Nope,” and disappeared in a golden flash.

Schrazon and the Unbodied concentrated their fire on Severus but his wall made it slightly difficult. That is, until Schrazon realized he could simply step through it and be mostly unharmed. Severus retreated again only to find himself the target of the Unbodied. In the confusion, it had effectively hasted itself so much that it was almost continuously manifesting powers. In its rush it targeted the Severus clones with a tear in reality. Doing something only Lachesis thought he could do, the Unbodied punched through the world to Limbo, the plane it was most familiar with. Despite it’s best efforts, though, Severus and Lachesis were able to impose their wills over the wild magic effects, but the holes in reality would only grow.

With the chaotic magic and the dragonkin threatening to overwhelm him, Severus teleported around, creating a prismatic sphere and another prismatic wall across the battlefield, sectioning bits off from each other. Schrazon was unimpressed and tried to follow, but failed and suddenly found himself transported to Ysgard. With a sigh, the Unbodied followed to try and fetch his comrade back. Meanwhile, Manny and Lachesis played a little game of cat and mouse. Lachesis let himself be struck a few times to see what Manny could do and then entrapped them both in a static planar field. Manny broke out of it, but Lachesis had already traveled across the field and released a sigil. The sign opened a gate and called Xark through. For all the rogue’s cockiness, though, it would turn out to be a poor choice of allies. He was the only one who couldn’t fly and in the meantime Manny had figured out how to get around Lachesis’ luck spells. He charged the Exarch and as predicted, the Exarch vanished in a golden flash. Manny simply smiled and readied his axe and when Lachesis reappeared, he struck.

Lachesis retreated into a ball of fire, but Manny followed him there. Flying out, he healed himself and Severus back to full, but the battle was not in their favor. Xark was constantly interrupted and attacked for no good reason by the Unbodied and Schrazon was making sure that Severus was kept on the run. Feeling quite upset at this, Lachesis lashed out with his staff saying, "I, who stand in the full light of the heavens, command thee, who opens the gates of hell. Come forth, divine lightning! This ends now! Indignation!!” An immense bolt of lightning struck the Unbodied, blinding and deafening it and nearly deafening Manny and Schrazon. They survived, of course, but the Unbodied could no longer see, only sense its surroundings with touchsight. Manny did not take well to this assault and charged, grappling Lachesis. Through various dispel attempts by both sides earlier, his protections were down and he found himself with a giant fist over his face. Unable to say, “Nope,” he did the only thing he could and cast dimension hop on Manny. His touch attack automatically succeeded and Manny found himself in the hole in reality torn by the Unbodied a minute earlier. Lachesis flew down and with his Planeslayer spells he sealed the portal, eternally imprisoning Manny in a space between planes.

But how can you seal away a god of freedom? Not even six seconds later, Manny willed himself free and the binding broke. In that move, he earned the name the Truly Free, for he could even be subject to the idea of confinement. From then on, he had Lachesis on the ropes.

Severus and Schrazon had been duking it out on the ground in the meanwhile. Xark came up to help, but Schrazon had had many battles of experience against clever devils like Xark and wasted no time knocking him down. Almost dead, Xark fell and bled, playing dead. On another soul it might have worked, it had worked, but this paladin had spent years facing cowards and knew Rule #2: Double-tap. Xark’s gambit failed and his key crest floated up. His death distracted Lachesis enough that Manny was able to get in a full-round of attacking, bringing the God of Fate and Freedom to near death. Close to death, his ultimate powers activated and he blasted Manny away from him, took Xark’s key crest, and delivered his speech:

“It cannot end like this, I will it not to! Too long have I suffered under the tyranny and illusion of the gods; first Elohim and then Nephrale, the gods are nothing but slavers trying to keep alive this failed experiment the Seamstress calls creation. Gods only have power through the faith and worship of mortals and yet they govern reality as if they were kings. This will not do. The Seamstress made the gods to fight the Chthonoi but I will destroy the gods and end creation. I will destroy the Chthonoi and remake the Chthon and the universe into one. One world where mortals will have the power to shape everything as they desire, and I will not let you stop me, Manny Kilore. Haha, the idea itself is ridiculous. How could you, you don’t even have a reason to stop me. How can someone with no resolve, no ambition defeat me? This is MY destiny and I WILL it so! Feel the power of my resolve!”

Lachesis raised his staff and his hands and as the Unbodied had, tore open a hole in reality to the hottest, darkest pits of the Abyss. The void began to suck in everything around it and Lachesis took the moment to planebend the area around him, greatly empowering spells like mage hand and telekinesis. There was nothing Schrazon could do except stay away from the hole. The Unbodied by now had expended most of its power but it spent the last of it on Severus. With his protection against energy drain and spell resistance down, he was infused with too much negative energy all at once and collapsed, dead.

Now it was just Manny and Lachesis. Manny stepped in, Lachesis said, “Nope.” Manny prepared to strike and in the void, Lachesis did the same. As he returned, Manny struck and Lachesis cast Indignation. The bolt of lightning hit the god and its force blinded and deafened him long enough for Lachesis to escape, but even that was short lived. Schrazon simply removed his blindness and deafness with his holy magic and the two of them converged on Lachesis. With one final casting of Dart’s Dodge he disappeared, returned, and said only, “I will not be killed by you.” A dark and corrputed flare burst on him, consuming his spirit and soul in fire.

Manny took his key crest and said, “I will work hard to build a world you would want.” The battle was over. The Solar closed his book with the symbol of Nephrale and under the sigil of the Seamstress proclaimed Manny the true god of Freedom!


Across the world the heavens trembled. Whether it was night or day, the skies opened and the armies of heaven poured forth. Whether elf, human, or dwarf, all peoples cowered in awe. In the cities, beings of light and flame alighted on the temples to the gods and purged the corruption with holy fire. Across the land and the sea, great golden beasts and winged serpents of many colors pursued the corrupted and the vile. To all peoples appeared a mighty Solar bearing the symbol of the Seamstress. In her right hand she carried a sword and in her left a great horn, and when she blew the horn the earth shook and the seas trembled. Evil ones were smote in her gaze alone and even the righteous knelt in reverence. When her horn lowered all were silent. The winds and seas calmed and the sun and moons stood still in the sky. And then she spoke with a great voice and all heard:

Let it be known on all lands that the usurper, Lachesis, and his Ur-Lords have been defeated and balance has been restored. All recognize the Exalted Dreadnaught, Manny, the Truly Free, God of Liberation and Goodness!

At this she raised her sword and from it came a great flame, burning corruption in the air and restoring the skies to their proper appearance. In its wake was traced a great sigil of spark and ember, so great that none could see its entirety, though in it many saw the symbol of their god. Across the land, symbols of the Wyrd burned and the altars of the gods, burning with holy fire, were rebuilt and blessed. The people looked to the Fatespinners who now were powerless and brought them to death before the Holy Liberators. Crowds chanted to Manny and to their gods and banners once deemed heretical were raised above the temples again.

The Silver City, Ominia.

The host of fiends assaulting the city looked up to the angel and shielded their gaze. Waves of fire from the angel assaulted them but fell upon a great shield. Vespa’s power, even now granted them protection from the mighty goodness of the angel. In the sky the evil temptress in red fought with the angels. Her trident struck them down even as they rose back up. At the solar’s command they converged on Vespa at once, but with a mighty burst of Hellfire she struck them back. They fell among the infernal horde, their wings burning away in the vile heat of the Hellfire. “I will not give up so easily, angel. You hold the light of Elohim against the mere fire of Fallais, but now you shall feel MY power! Come forth, great devil of Hell, Duke of the Fourth, Belial! Burn these fools to the ground!”

With her trident she drew a circle and threw it at the city. Before her opened up a gate to Hell, dark and hot. Smoke and brimstone poured forth as Vespa laughed at her triumph, at her command of one of the mightiest evils. But when the smoke cleared, it was not Belial but a woman dressed in the dark red robes of Fallais with a trident of flame. “You!” Vespa shrieked. “But how? My calls come from me, not Fallais!”

“Sorry dear, but not even Lord Belial wants to help you after what you did to Lord Fallais.” Saint Delaquer smiled and shrugged. Vespa snarled and charged her, but Her Holiness vanished in a dark smoke. Quick as she could be, she turned and hurled her trident, but it veered away from the lady to a heavily armored man who sundered it with a single blow of his mighty flaming blade.

“You bring a weapon against the God of War?” Saint Luscan laughed. “She’s all yours, Kinover.”

A light shone from above and Vespa looked up as Saint Olxanis drove his shining blade down in a shower of light and steel. She growled and brought her arms up and blocked him in a shield of flame. “I am no minion of Fallais, you can’t touch me golden boy,” she smirked.

“Of course not, that wasn’t my job.”

“What ghk-!” A pair of lips on her neck and a hand through her chest. Vespa looked down at her heart and watched as Ligeria crushed it. Blood poured out as Vespa’s vision faded, her last thoughts filled with a man in white. “My…love.”

She fell, and so fled the armies of Hell.

The Grand Cathedral, Aventurine

“Are you sure, Perilune?”

“Thank you for your concern, Elone, but I was there when this began. Did you know we grew up together?” Claire smiled. “We were best friends once. I thought I could stop all of this from happening, but, well,” she waved her hand. Around them lay the broken bodies of angels where they had fallen out of the air.

“You were defeated once.”

“True, but I’m stronger now.”

“So is she.”

“Step aside, Sister.”

“Perilune, I cannot.” Elone raised her sword.

“Do you defy your Perilune?” Claire seemed almost amused. Elone nodded. “Your devotion is to be commended, Sister, but I do not have time for such devotion and I need you to return to Jik’ton.”

Elone shook her head. “Mother, no! Let me come with you!” She took a step forward.

“This is not your fight, Battlemaiden.” A voice as hard as steel and clear as crystal rang out from above. Elone looked up in awe upon the shining form of St. Alice. “Now go. Tell the High Fathers of Manny what you see.” Alice placed a hand upon Elone’s shoulder, teleporting her away.

In one moment she was facing the leaders of her church and then suddenly she hurtled through the freezing cold of teleportation. It lasted only a second and then she looked out from high upon a mountain. Below her stretched green fields and woods. She could see a road traveling through it from the mountains, but the landscape was of little importance right now. She needed to return to Claire’s side. She looked to the sky to find the sun, and stopped in shock. The sky began to darken as Sartra began to move into eclipse.

Being a moon goddess, Echoe has all manner of signs and omens associated with the various phases and behaviors of Sartra, but eclipses were the most ominous and the most powerful. When Sartra eclipsed the sun, it meant Echoe herself was going to touch the world. That would explain why Claire had been so insistent on going to Aventurine and so confident just moments ago. In panic, Elone turned to run down the road to the east but even in haste she would get nowhere. She was probably somewhere in the Malveyan Alps; Aventurine wasn’t even in sight and the sky was only getting darker. Gasping, she slowed and watched as Echoe’s veil fell dark upon the land. Farther and farther the shadow spread until Totality.

The sky was dark. Stars had begun to appear and farmers had lit torches in the distance. The sun was merely a thin ring of light around a black disk. She knew it was dangerous, but as she looked, she saw a flash of green light. It came streaking down from the sky to land beyond the horizon, but there was no doubt where it had fallen. For half a second she waited, and then a mighty fireball appeared over the horizon, green and gold. Elone fell to her knees and watched in shock as a great wave of green and gold swept over the land. As it approached it seemed to crest, as if it were washing up against the mountain. A great spray of verdant hues leapt straight into the sky several miles distant and hung there like a glistening curtain, slowly fading. The fireball over Aventurine dimmed as Totality ended. Slowly the sun was returned and Sarta moved on.

Elone fell to the ground and wept. For Aventurine. For Lyrise. For Claire. Of all the church, now only she remained as the last Battlemaiden.

Time passed but the road was silent. Looking down the mountain, Sister Elone rose and began walking back to Lyrise. She had to know what happened, and then she had to tell the world.


A dark circle opened up into a gate above a plain. In the distance, a mountain stood with ruins glinting in the evening light. A dark figure fell from the gate, bound in glowing chains. They melded into his body as the gate closed. He tried to stand and stumbled, dropping a dark blue mask with a long beaked nose. White bands formed around his wrists and ankles and with a howl of pain, a glyph burned itself into his forehead. He writhed on the ground as the manacles sealed themselves, binding him to this plane. Their light faded, leaving white leather straps engraved with a single rune in gold.

The man lay on the ground for a minute before trying to stand again. He felt the straps tight around his wrists and ran a finger over the mark on his forehead. If he showed his face, everyone would know him and his crimes. Even here there was no refuge. He clenched his fists as dark flames surrounded him, threw his head back and cried to the heavens, “Carina!!”

Labrynthos, The Astral Plane

“Are you sure no one else has gone to look for it?”

“Absolutely. But they will. You need to hurry.”

“Meh, they can’t catch me. Alice and her posse have been chasing me across the Material Plane for years. I can stay ahead of them easily.”

“Are you certain you can find it?”

“Hey, are you doubting me? I am literally the best tracker in existence. Not even Ehlonna could find the trail and I even happen to have a lead. They’ll follow, but they’ll follow me, not the trail. Trust me, V.”

“I suppose so. You have the sending stone? You will only get one chance to call us and your powers won’t work once you get close.”

“Hey, don’t worry about me. You’ve got the harder job, convincing him to do something.”

“At least I know where he is.”

“Consider it a race. Can you convince him to help us before I find it?”

“Trust me. I think with Manny’s decision to join the Great Seal, we’ll be able to persuade him.”

“Good. Well then, I’m off. Luck of the Mortals, eh?”

“We make our own.”

War in Ominia, Episode 2
Poison sucks!

The party made their way through the camp of devils up to the hill with the portal. After a nasty encounter with some ice devils, they finally arrived at the portal. It was fifteen feet tall and wide and radiated evil. Literally. It was orange-colored evil. Niachi looked around to notice a faint magic circle around it. So he did what anyone else would do and smudged it. The portal fuzzed and burst into flame. Cause it’s a portal to Hell. That’s what it does. Burn things. But the party did not realize that the Pit Fiend guarding the portal was still around. He attacked Niachi with his claws, wings, and terribly foul mouth. The cat jumped back in his invisibility, but the damage was done. The wound burned and festered. A glance showed the poison burning along his veins, slowly making its way to his heart. But he didn’t let that stop him. The party engaged the beast.

The pit fiend began by summoning a friend, a horned devil, but his mighty plans were quickly derailed by the ninjas. Invisible and ethereal, they damaged him tremendously and forced his retreat. His fearsome fireballs were useless against them. Sara summoned an astral construct to deal with the horned devil. It distracted the beast long enough for the ninjas to knock him out. Had Rom or Raniy been around, they might have informed the party that such a defeat was only temporary until it regenerated, but alas the party didn’t know. With the immediate threat down in 30 seconds, they began destroying the magic circle around the portal. It fizzled and fuzzed, but remained undamaged. They attempted to ask Raniy for help, but just as she felt like waking up, Niachi clutched his chest and fell over. He was dead. His soul went on to Savani’s rest.

Struck with grief, Sara and Titus pulled out Valorie’s folding boat and opened it up into a canoe. They packed their friends in, called Wilhelm to send a teleport, and began rowing up and away to watch the battle below. With the pit fiend gone, the forces on the south side of the city fractured into smaller factions. The infighting gave the defenders enough chance to push them back and gain a reprieve. While the devil leadership assembled on the hill to fight it out, the defenders rolled in their own siege weaponry: ballistas that fired some sort of magical explosives. Wherever the explosives landed was filled with a cloud of light and red fire and no demons or devils remained. It only took a few volleys to clear most of the south side. Filled with a measure of hope (as much as either of them could feel) for the city, they began to row away until a seductive voice stopped them.

It was Vespa. She flew there, facing them down in her barely-there armor, only this time upgraded with a fancy hooded robe. Despite it’s lack of obvious protection and her sultry voice, she struck a measure of terror and caution into Sara and Titus. She attempted to persuade them to join by offering their choice of plunder form the city below, particularly in the Staff of Alderac, but they remained firm. She shrugged and aimed her trident at them. They began to row faster. “Rowing away in a canoe? How brave,” Vespa taunted.

“We only have fucking two people!” Sara yelled. Titus nearly fell overboard laughing. Vespa was less amused and with a mutter cast Implosion. A bright burst of light shoved her away as Twilight Sparkle encapsulated the canoe with a golden sphere. She was joined by High Father Hirzon, Saint Amoss, and Herald Frederick. And they were angry. Vespa laughed and did her best to charm them, even offering a chance at the spanking of a lifetime, but Amoss was far too used to the ways of Manny and such subtlety went somewhat over her head. With a great whack, Frederick knocked the sphere away and the four of them joined battle in an epic cutscene.

Meanwhile, in the canoe, Twilight explained that if they wanted to close the portal, they’d have to return. There were a few ways to do it. The sacrifice of a pure, innocent life, a powerful casting of disjunction, or the destruction of an artifact like the Axalted or the Staff of Alderac would all do. Titus considered giving up William but Sara suggested that he might not be so pure and innocent, and Rom would never stand for such things. Fortunately, Twilight had it prepared. She handed Titus the Super Ultimate Twi-tastic Disjoiner 9382.11! The small ball had been enchanted to release a burst of magical energy combining a disjunction, dimensional anchor, and antimagic field to completely destroy the portal and all protections it might have. Due to the unusual combination of effects there, she warned it was particularly unstable and anything might set it off. Titus asked if it would destroy the other portals around the city but she said no, each portal was its own separate instance. Unless they were all close together on the Hell side, the Deluxe Sparkle-Cannon of Golden Justice Power Beam of Truth would only eliminate the one portal. But in order to destroy all those other portals, someone would have to go to the Hell side and activate it from there. It might be a one-way trip. Titus volunteered.

Twilight set them down near the portal. She gave them each a teleport tile to break in case of quick retreat and they prepared to face off against the pit fiend, who had clearly been healed up by his mistress. Titus ran for the back of the portal while Sara summoned an astral construct and tossed Really Interesting Name to it. The sword was very upset about the whole affair. The construct and the devil were evenly matched and struggled against the other while Titus jumped through the portal.

On the other side he found himself on a staging grounds. Five other portals surrounded the area. The one he’d come through and four others clearly led to the grounds around the Silver City, but the portal opposite him led to a garden. Through it he could see flowers, some graves, and a gazebo containing a well. It was very familiar. He went up to it and looked through. No one appeared to be there. Just a flower wouldn’t hurt. One flower from Lachesis’ demiplane would make him a better thief than either Hirzon or Xark. He dashed in, but as he tried to leave, his legs grew heavy and he fell to the ground. Behind him stood a man in white with a gold wheel above his head. The Exarch smiled upon poor Titus and allowed him to stand. He just wanted to have a talk. True, he could snap his fingers and force Titus’ cooperation, but he would really rather Titus just join of his own will. After all, as Exarch, Lachesis was the God of Fate and Freedom, the champion of choosing one’s own way. They spoke and Titus, realizing his plight, said yes, upon three conditions.

#. Return Obrican to the party.
#. Allow Manny access to the Material Plane.
#. Declare Titus an Ur-Lord.

Lachesis laughed and agreed to his first and third demands easily but asked about the second. Titus backed up, not saying anything. Lachesis held up a hand and asked again, pointing out that Titus really didn’t have the leverage here. Sure, Lachesis would prefer a volunteer, but a conscript would do just as well. Titus said it would make the game more fair. The Exarch considered this for a moment, saying that he’d intended to fight Manny eventually, having it on the Material Plane wouldn’t really change that. And he doubted that Manny would do anything too foolish and risk losing worshipers in a deific battle. So he agreed to that as well. He reached out his hand and Titus tumbled backward through the portal, pushing the button on the Einstein-Rosen Disrupter 8294.293 of Awesomeness! Lachesis snapped his fingers, but as Titus felt his soul begin to warp, the bomb blew and shut the portal.

Landing on the other side, he ran across the dais as the other portal winked out. The blast wave was thinning as it reached his, but the portal was fuzzing up. Putting all he had into it, he made one last jump and came through just in time! Titus landed on the pit fiend, who threw him off, and took a moment to relax. Sara was having no such luck, however, as RLN and the construct were making no headway against the fiend. Even when Titus joined a moment later, it seemed as if the devil’s magical power would overcome them. Titus was out of ki points, but managed to get behind the devil when out of the sky fell a quiver of arrows at Sara’s feet. Five arrows made of a glowing light. Sara didn’t know what they were or where they came from, but picking them up she knew they were a gift from a friend.

She set the first to her bow and fired. It missed. She set the second and fired again, but the devil deflected it. And then she set the third and the magic of the others helped guide it true. When it struck, a sexy diva appeared and slapped the devil with the force of a magic anvil. Sara whooped and fired again. The sexy diva struck again and slapped the devil between its eyes and it fell to the ground, defeated. They quickly grabbed its loot bag and broke the teleportation tiles and vanished. In the sky, the three warriors fought Vespa to a standstill. As soon as the portals around the city began to vanish, Twilight reappeared with the boat and teleported them back home, leaving a bruised Vespa to watch as the Ominians quickly broke the siege and made short work of her army.

Back home, word reached the High Fathers of the Silver City’s victory. The Ominian Emperor extended a hand of alliance so long as the Resistance didn’t preach too much. Sara spoke to Twilight about the mysterious arrows and Twilight figured she could simulate them. She analyzed Titus’ corruption and found he was on the verge of falling. Even one more point of corruption would turn him into an Abomination. Niachi’s body was brought to Father Arroway, along with a significant sum of diamonds, but Father Arroway refused to help. Lachesis’ grip on the world made it too dangerous to resurrect anyone. He reminded Titus that’s what had caused his current situation. Going to another plane aside from the Slow Time plane would give them a pretty good chance of success, but to be certain in returning him to life, they would need to travel to the plane where Niachi’s soul rested. Neither of them knew where that might be, so they waited for Rom and Raniy to wake up, and waited to see what sort of revenge the Wyrd might try next.

War in Ominia, Episode 1
Everyone failed the Listen check

Having retrieved the Key of Slow Time, Team RASN went home where Niachi pestered Twilight into upgrading his sword. Annoyed, she popped over into the slow-time plane, made it and popped back. She was ragged, haggard, her mane was a mess and her eyes were bulging. Her voice was starting to do the crazy thing as her eyes twitched. The party looked at her carefully. Slowly, Niachi reached a hand out. Slowly Twilight levitated the sword to him. Rom held his breath. Holo peeked out from behind a box. Titus turned around to check out someone’s butt. And then Niachi asked, “Did you make it Danciga?” Twilight paused her levitation amidst an audible snap! No one breathed.

TwilightwhirledtheswordaroundslammingitintoNiachisohardheflewbackintoRomandRaniyandtheyflewbackintoKadenandMittensandSaraandTitusandsomeothergirlthenshescoopedthemallupintotheairandthrewthemasfarasshecouldandastheyflewawaysheblastedthemwithateleporttowhoknowswherewithatremendousexplosionoflightsoundandcolor. Elone walked over to the purple unicorn and gave her a hug. No words, no nonsense, just a hug. Twilight let out a deep breath and collapsed into her arms, falling asleep immediately. She carried the unicorn up to her room and set her into bed. Hirzon followed her and pulled up a chair and a few good books and waited, reading and occasionally looking over at the poor mare. She needed some rest.

Meanwhile, the party experienced an unusually long time in the astral void of the teleport and introduced themselves to the new girl, a favored soul of Manny. As they were getting acquainted, the teleport popped them out above The Silver City. They fell toward it and slammed into an invisible wall and slowly slid downward. As they slid, making an obnoxious noise, they noticed the city was under siege by a legion of demons, devils, and antitheses. Defenders on the wall included clerics of Elohim, combining their power to blast the demons with pillars of light, and clerics of Fallais, banishing any outsider that got too far up the wall. As they slid, some paladin knocked them off with an arrow into a pile of imps, who died immediately upon their standing up. Bewildered, they cleared out the nobodies around them with a few waves of their hands and then fought off a few waves of stronger demons who had survived their arrival. Rom figured that somewhere nearby was likely to be a portal and a small command post, so he recommended they head that way. A small silver badge fell from the sky bearing the symbol of Elohim. Titus stuck it in his pocket without thinking since no one realized they were right next to the wall with defenders on it who might have tossed it to them.

But instead of going north along the wall or west to a field, both full of monsters to kill and XP to earn, the druid turned into an eagle and soared above the battlefield and pinpointed the portal and command post for this section. Their new favored soul friend cast wind walk upon them and they all traveled straight for the portal. At first they had planned to split the party like idiots, even though that always ends badly, but fortunately the command post wasn’t amenable to that. So they planned to all go in, but then stopped when they realized it was guarded by a pit fiend and all of his minions (since they hadn’t wandered through and killed them separately). They argued with me for a while, but eventually Manny himself came down and said that the whole battlefield was specifically laid out to provide them with an adventure and they finally agreed to go through the command post properly. They ran through the supplies, rummaging around and nearly dying to an unlucky phantasmal killer, but then rallied and killed everything.

The Key of Slow Time, Ep 2

The next morning, Mirumoto went to meet Niachi underneath the cherry blossom tree. He brought along a guard and Holo, who brought Rom. Niachi and Titus were there, waiting. Mirumoto was skeptical of their intentions but other matters were clearly on his mind. He made his case short and succinct: return the Kako and take Holo and in return he’d sign the partnership with the Resistance. The group didn’t stick around to find out what was bothering him or what he’d need help with as Sara had just returned from seeing Walker. Walker’s spells had revealed that the wakizashi Kako was actually one-half of the Key of Slow Time. When Sara revealed this to Niachi at the negotiation, he attempted to force Holo to give the key to them. She was not impressed and it seemed like there would be a stand-off until The Seamstress showed up and had them make Sense Motive checks to realize that Holo was in complete agreement with them, she was just putting on a good show. Once that was taken care of and the Resistance agreement signed, Holo suggested they go out camping. Reluctantly they did.

Out there she explained some of the situation: The Kako had been entrusted to her by a friend and she was going to look after it. The other half was a katana in Niflheim, the city of the Dwarves in Ominia. The party had Walker independently verify this. Rom revealed that Holo was the original lycanthrope, which had given her the power over him, but the lack of faith from her ‘grandchildren’ had basically stripped her of most of her godly powers. She congratulated him for finally figuring it out and confirmed the story. Apparently she had done a stint as a harvest goddess over the past few centuries in lieu of her original role and had received a visit from Olim’s favored saint. With all the exposition she was willing to provide, the party had Twilight return them home, where they sold some stuff, had Twilight start working on Really Interesting Name, and followed Holo’s lead in some mid-game stretches.

Stretching complete, they teleported away to Ominia, but the dwarves wouldn’t let them in. Titus got around this with the dwarven national anthem. Impressed with his performance of “Diggy Diggy Hole” (and the encore rendition of “I’m Gonna Be”, an ever-popular dwarven favorite), the gatekeeper let him in, his boredom relieved. Inside, they had a quick drinking contest, which Holo lost quickly and Rom won, as usual. In the morning they began asking around about old shrines. Walker’s scrying had revealed that the katana was in a shrine with the symbols of a cross on a radiant burst (Elohim), a broken mountain, and twelve grains of sand. Four shrines were said to be in the city: one to Olim, Khazar, Moridin, and Kolad. Holo didn’t know much about them but was a bit hesitant about the last one. Niachi, recognizing the trope of Suspicious Hesitation, deduced that the shrine of Kolad was important somehow (they never figured out why).

The Shrine of Kolad was old and zen-like. It was small enough that it only had two rooms: one with a sand-garden and an ancient cleric’s regalia. It did have an old dwarf who assumed they were pilgrims of a sort and asked them about their purpose and their interpretation of a wall scroll before showing them into the altar. As predicted, the katana lay on the altar. Sara took the Kako from Holo and picked up the Mirai. With Past and Future, she attempted to activate the Key of Slow Time. It was amusing. She poked the swords together, crossed them, hopped, skipped, sliced the air, and even followed (poorly) Niachi in a niten kata (a choreographed practice set of moves with two swords). Nothing worked. Raniy wasn’t much help, only suggesting the activation of the key might be the same as the activation for any other magic item. They sighed and handed the Kako back to Holo for the moment, but then they noticed the old cleric had vanished.

Thinking perhaps he had just retired to the antechamber they left the altar and found him, but he quickly cast off his cloak and revealed himself as The Ultimate Hero of Space and Time!. He asked for the swords very nicely, but instead Sara and Holo tossed them to Niachi, who was proficient with the niten style. Battle started off well with Niachi dashing in and out, Sara powering up, and Titus jumping in for ethereal hits. Xark was unamused and tumbled over to Raniy. Catching her off-guard, he knocked her out with his two swords in one hasty set of attacks. Realizing the danger, Rom used his Prismatic Brooch, knowing he could be next. The spray caught Xark slightly off-guard. Not enough to hurt him, but at point-blank range it’s hard to dodge all the rays. He was hit by several and vanished, teleported to another plane. The party wasted no time in getting out and requested an emergency evac from Twilight.

With both swords, they sent a message to Walker, asking for the location of the Gate of Slow Time. He graciously offered to take them there, if they were willing to give him the Key. They refused, offering to grant him access, but that wasn’t enough. So going off of Niachi’s description of the place, Twilight plane-shifted them right over, putting them 90 miles away. With nothing else to do, they cast Find the Path and began flying on Valorie’s old flying boat. After a few hours of not seeing anything, they began to get suspicious. Raniy and Sara checked the path. It still led forward, but they realized they’d been going slightly to the left. Rom was fervent in his belief that the spell had to be giving them the right path while Niachi reasoned that a path going forward and slightly left would just take them in a large circle. Rom’s fervor didn’t let up for a while and so they spent another few hours traveling along their orbit with no sign of the Gate. Eventually, Titus got bored and turned the ship 90 degrees left. Rom was grumpy, but two hours later, they came within sight of the island. Somehow, Sara realized, the spell had been thrown off. Either the place couldn’t be found, or someone had interfered with the spell. Rom and Raniy weren’t sure how that could happen.

With abandon, Titus piloted the ship toward the island, but as they drew close, Sara and Niachi made out a figure standing there. A second later, it cast a green ray at the ship. The ray struck and while the ship resisted, it rocked and creaked with the damage. It was Walker, and he was trying to kill them! Titus turned the ship hard to port and slowed his descent a little (not nearly enough, but they wouldn’t die, probably). Walker sent a meteor swarm, a fireball, and a freezing spehere at the ship followed by one last disintegrate as it drew close. The thing broke apart and everyone fell. Niachi aimed for the wizard, Mirai and Kako in-hand. Walker tried a last-ditch lightning bolt at the ninja, but the power of the Zohar gave him a chance to dodge and he slammed into the wizard. Recovering quickly, he tumbled away and back, flipping the wizard up and stabbing the swords through his body into the Gate of Slow Time. The swords began to glow and the Gate opened…

The Key of Slow Time, Ep 1
Spice and Wolf

The party was joined by the druid Atkin and his tiger companion Mittens and became Team RASN (pronounced “raisin” cuz they be raisin’ the roof, son). Then Twilight teleported them to the place closest to the Key of Slow Time as she could: that one town in the Esterlands. There the party checked into the Brown-Fourmen hotel and asked around for the local wizard or sage. They were directed to a certain Walker, but were informed by the townspeople that he was out of town. Upon inspection of his house, Rom and Sara confirmed his out-of-town status. Niachi was less than impressed and used his new shadow walk spell to inspect the house. Sure enough it was present in the shadow plane (which was having some strange weather) and well warded. So he knocked. A magic mouth appeared and took a message. When he told the others, they felt silly and did the same.

In the meantime, the party went to look at the local temples of Lachesis. At the first one they visited, they encountered a friendly Fatespinner and a strange ranger with corrupted skin. The Fatespinner introduced himself and then Raniy touched his soul just long enough for Rom to punch his head off. The ranger attempted to flee but his elven ancestry doomed him to failure. He was briefly imprisoned in a coccoon and surrounded, but barely escaped through a fortunate tree stride. Niachi knocked over a font of baptismal corruption while Sara and the others gave chase. As they ran through the streets, they were stymied by a dispute between a peddler with a cart and an old woman in a crimson cloak. Rom resolved the dispute while Sara and Atkin took wing and flew after the ranger. They encountered him in the forest and trapped him in a reverse gravity field. He was dead within seconds.

A few days later Niachi received a message from Walker, asking to meet. He was very impressed with the ninja’s shadow walking skills and took him and Atkin on a short visit to the Astral Plane to explain the Key of Slow Time. He showed them a great door, fancy and wondrous and white. He said it was a portal to a plane where time flowed slower than normal, a boon to any crafter of magical items. Whoever holds the key can open the portal and access the plane, and once in, they can determine who is allowed in and from where. Since the plane had been accessible in the past, Walker assumed that they had been very generous but had probably hidden the key. That’s why, when Zerstorung happened and Lachesis began to isolate the material plane, the connection was shut. So now the key is the only way in, but the key is lost. Walker also said the dwarves might once have known about it, but such was only legend.

They returned to the material plane to inform the others. To scry out the key, Walker used a piece of planar wall, a powerful spell additive, and very shiny. The scrying revealed a cart full of goods, a peddler, and a young woman inside the city. Rom realized a moment later that it was the same cart he had seen a few days ago! The party dashed off. When they arrived, they worked with quiet efficiency. Atkin distracted the peddler, looking through his furs and armor for anything that would be interesting to buy. Rom spoke to the girl, who introduced herself as Holo. She seemed to recognize him and he felt strangely cautious around her, but couldn’t figure out why. Niachi noticed something was up and cooked up a plan with Sara. As he took a turn talking to Holo, Sara used her psionics to pull one of the cart wheels out of place, very sneakily. Holo fell and Niachi caught her, feeling that she carried some sort of case beneath her clothing and also concealed a tail. She felt somewhat indignant and demanded that Lawrence, the peddler, take her away to meet with the Merchant’s Guild. Raniy fixed the wheel for them and they took off quickly. As they left, Rom chased them to ask Holo something, but she turned and told him to STAY. The order shook him to his inner wolf and he stopped, confused. Niachi and him realized that the strange thing about her, was that she smelled like Rom.

Having tagged the pair as she had tagged the ranger, Sara tracked Holo and Lawrence to a large house bearing a chrysanthemum. A few questions told them that this house belonged to Mirumoto Rai, the chief of guards of the town and a once-friend of Manny (and Severus, but that was long ago). So they waited until it was night, and then snuck in. Niachi took Mittens to speak with Mirumoto. They woke him gently and explained they were from the Resistance of Manny. Mirumoto remembered the barbarian, but asked for a demonstration of trust before he sided with them. He instructed Niachi to meet him with one party member under a certain sakura tree at 11:30 the next morning, and he would then arrive with one of his guards. If Niachi kept him alive and did as instructed, then they would talk. Niachi agreed and began to keep watch.

Sara and Atkin followed the tag to Holo’s bedroom. Inside, Sara began to search for the Key. She didn’t know what it would be like, but under Holo’s clothing she found a very elaborate wakizashi, barely magical. She took it but wasn’t sure if Holo had decided to sleep with the key or not. Via Mittens, they sent for Niachi. He arrived and felt around but didn’t find anything. Not wanting to miss anything, he pulled down the covers and realized that Holo didn’t prefer pajamas. He tried to put the covers back up but it was too late, she awoke. Holo howled.

The howl of Holo is not one that can be ignored by any wolf, dog, or lycanthrope. Rom felt a call to come, an instinctive response of the wolf inside him and dashed up the stairs. Sara ran into him on her way out, panicking, but she didn’t say much. Niachi, Atkin, and Mittens all jumped out the window and when Rom arrived upstairs he was met with a confused Lawrence, some guards, a suspicious Mirumoto and a very grumpy Holo. The guards looked to give him a hard time, but Holo took charge and demanded that he bring his friends back. He resisted enough to give them warning to escape and returned to her, lying that they got away. Grumpy, she ordered him to stay with her and pointed to a spot on the floor. Saying he’d be more comfortable as a dog she attempted to force him to change, but his sanctified nature and years of training as a paladin allowed him to resist. Holo continued to push but he explained that he couldn’t remain in his form for long and she relented.

In night the Dog sleeps,
but at sakura’s morning,
the Cat meets the Sword.

Bluesky City: Episode 3
Yasuo's Destruction

The day was set, the preparations complete for the attack. The local resistance of Bluesky had done some reconnaissance on the new temples and divined their purpose. Severus was planning a special ritual in the heart of Bluesky City to power up the Antitheses of the world. The ritual was to be conducted at the main temple and spread across Ferros via the use of very large emanation stones. Such epic magic, however, would be too much for one stone to handle, so smaller conduits were set up across the city. Destroy the stones and you would stop the ritual, or at least weaken it. General Beatrix had originally planned on attacking the zorite crystals during their transport from the mines, but with the increase in security she didn’t think it would be wise. The crystals were now being transported in cages of zorite steel and guarded by Wolfrau. When Severus was ready to start the ritual, the zorite steel cages would be released at the same time by the guards at each temple site. Any disruptions and the guards wouldn’t release the casings, preventing the ritual and letting Severus know something was happening. So Beatrix planned to attack all five sites at once.

Each one of Team RYSN would take a site, assisted by a friend or cohort. They decided where to go, but at the last minute, Yasuoi decided to split from his cohort, Quin, and stay with Titus. Niachi attacked with Sister Elone, Sara’phiem partnered with Brother Thom, and of course Rom stuck with Raniy. They would have one minute, and no way to communicate with each other.

Immediately most of them got off to a bad start. Raniy attempted to shatter the crystal, only to discover that as an emanation stone, it emanated the spell in a much more powerful manner across the entire temple, nearly destroying the building. Sara’phiem and Niachi learned this in the first few rounds as well, much to their chagrin. Quin had known this might happen and warned Yasuo ahead of time, but each group soon found themselves needing to use this property to their advantage as best as they could. It never worked. Raniy tried to paralyze the crystal, thinking a powerful spell would destroy it, but it only paralyzed her. Thom tried flamestrike and Sara tried entangle to slow down their monk and Wolfrau, but the one simply avoided it and the other absorbed it. Niachi attempted to use an unfinished spell to send the crystal to the shadow plane, but it blinded or hurt everyone in the temple. Yasuo deliberately used it to try and damage the golems at his site, which was very effective but hurt him just as much. Despite the bungling, they seemed to do well for the first round or two, but then things began to go wrong.

Rom and Raniy were slowed down by their enemies and Raniy’s spellcasting. Yasuo and Titus were sharply debuffed by a sorcerer casting the Hilbert Effect. Beatrix left Quin to draw off some reinforcements from General Ephraim and Quin was then attacked by Nathan Fillion, Beatrix’s second-in-command. Sara and Thom struggled to deal damage to the golems, Wolfrau, and crystal, all of which were largely impervious to their magic. The only one without any problems seemed to be Niachi as he bounced around the battlefield in his dervish dance. Despite his early playfulness and testing of the crystal, as his minute passed he became serious and used Really Interesting Name to make short work of it. He was the first to destroy his crystal.

Rom and Raniy succeeded next. Once they realized magic was not the way to go, Rom simply hit it with his claws. He was nearly carried off by the golem, but a Holy Anvil stopped it. After a tense battle with Nathan, Quin knocked him out and destroyed her crystal in a few hits. Time ticked by and Sara and Titus still hadn’t destroyed either of their crystals. With seconds left, Sara used all her mental strength to seal off the enemies behind an ectoplasmic barrier, toss some bombs at the crystal, and have Thom call down one last flamestrike to ignite them, blowing it up spectacularly. But Titus and Yasuo couldn’t get it done. Once they were forced into the material plane in real bodies, the stone golems had kept Titus on the ropes by grabbing him. He escaped, only to be grabbed again. While he was distracted, Yasuo kept dealing with small punches to his armor by a hit-and-run monk while also trying to damage the golems by using crystal shard on the zorite. It worked, but badly hurt himself in the process and missed the monk. This left an opening for the monk to knock him out with one more punch. The monk made ready to finish him, but Titus knocked him out in return, intending to capture him for interrogation. He managed to revive Yasuo just enough, but their time was running out. The ritual was almost complete. With nothing else to try, Yasuo put his final efforts into a disintegrate, hoping that the raw power of destruction would be enough to stop the crystal. Knowing it would kill him.

From across the city, almost everyone could see the sudden greenish-black sphere of destruction engulf the city. The beams of destruction shot forth in every direction from the zorite, creating a massive crater a thousand feet across and half as deep. Somehow Titus resisted the raw power and the fall should have killed him, but he woke up moments later feeling nothing but pain. His legs were shattered and useless, his arm twisted backward unnaturally. Above him, the crystal remained, floating in the center of the complete destruction. Above the city a thin beam shot forth into the sky, sending out a single ripple of power. The ritual was successful, but had been incredibly weakened. The Wyrd would not gain the strength they had thought.

After the battle everyone returned to the resistance’s headquarters to meet with Beatrix and report. Yasuo, Quin, and Titus were late, but something about the attack had bothered Rom and Sara. Listening to each other’s notes, they realized that each of them had had different enemies. Each had been optimized against them. Somehow they had been spied upon and their plans leaked to the Monks. They suspected either a powerful scrying or a mole and made preparations to interrogate the resistance captains. As Raniy meditated to reassign spells, Quin returned with the news: Yasuo had died trying to destroy his crystal, and Titus was back in Jik’ton for healing. Her report strongly implicated Nathan Fillion, who had disappeared after her fight and had reappeared briefly at Beatrix’s HQ to try and through suspicion off. Not certain, Raniy, Rom, and Sara interrogated the resistance captains, who all appeared to be clean. They also said it was probably Nathan, though none of them actually knew anything. With this in hand, the party reported to Beatrix, who was stricken with grief over the destruction, failure, and betrayal. She took it very personally and swiftly took them to the palace.

Expecting a climactic fight with Nathan Fillion and General Ephraim, the party geared up. Titus had returned with a fresh pair of legs from Father Arroway and Raniy prominenced everyone. Beatrix led them into the heart of the palace, to the Royal Chambers. Outside stood a man in heavy ornamental armor and cape wielding a mighty spear: General Ephraim. He advanced on them and demanded to know their purpose. And when they answered, he lifted his spear…and gave Beatrix a hug, glad to see her safe after Yasuo’s Destruction. The party was confused. He led them into the chambers where they met his sister General Eirika and Princess Tamra.

Tamra spoke largely with Titus, swiftly and decisively negotiating a deal between Manscell and the Resistance of Manny. The Resistance would provide Manscell with gold and resources and would rebuild Prime Meridian’s trade routes as well as manpower to take back the mines and other strategic locations. In return, Manscell would assist in recruiting for the Resistance, supply valuable materials, allow them to recruit Father Iomhar, and promote the worship of Manny. He was a bit reluctant at first until she reminded him that he was currently in the same room as the Four Generals of Manscell. This confused the party since only Generals Ephraim, Eirika, and Beatrix were present. Three times they asked, “What happened to the fourth general?” and three times the generals responded “We are the Four Generals of Manscell.” The party was very confused.

With all the excitement concluded, most of the party returned to Jik’ton. Titus stuck around to torture and interrogate a monk, who maybe revealed the locations of the other corrupted monks, though he also displayed a greater shout power and killed himself. Rom and Sara stuck around to look for the special piece of information about the Wyrd. Beatrix knew something but wouldn’t say directly, just telling Sara to go to the “Church Services” of Lachesis. Rom objected so they sat on a fountain and talked.

Sara sat through the church services. At first it was all songs and praise, but then the preaching began. The pastor talked about how Lachesis freed the soul from the oppression of the gods. He said the gods were weak, that they were the gods of one idea at most. How strong could a god of the mountains be if he couldn’t also be the god of the forests? How powerful could the god of the Ominians be if other gods still opposed him? The Seamstress, he said, was the worst, writing down and weaving everyone’s fates into the Loom. How could you have choice if she decided everything? Lachesis. Lachesis is the God of Fate and Freedom, of one’s own wyrd (a sort of personal destiny, fate, or purpose, supposedly self-made). And while he gave his blessings (the pastor indicated the corrupted among the churchmembers) his true converts were the Fatespinners. A group of people stood up, all wearing a similar outfit: a brown cloak with the symbol of the Wyrd made into a wheel on it and each held a holy symbol made into a spinner. Sara had seen them earlier and watched them. Unlike everyone else, who were mostly there by force, these five had seemed sincere in their worship, and now were proud Lachesis-ites it seemed. The pastor said that these Fatespinners could make their own destiny and that anyone could be like them, just speak with them afterward.

Sara stuck around after the service and indeed someone showed some genuine interest. Most of the conversation was drivel, but before Sara left, the Fatespinner did something. He asked the nearby Monk to hit him and the Monk did so, very successfully. Then Fatespinner put his hand on his holy spinner and flicked it and said to try again. The Monk struck and for a moment he hit, but in the instant that he did, the world flickered and all of a sudden the Monk’s fist sailed right past the Fatespinner’s nose. He had made the Monk miss! No one else seemed to notice the flicker, so Sara returned to Beatrix and asked about them.

Beatrix said the Fatespinners had appeared a month-and-a-half ago. She didn’t know where they came from, but somehow they were different. They were charismatic and sincere in their worship. Sure the corrupted worshiped the Wyrd, but how much worship could they really give as Antitheses? She reckoned that somehow the Fatespinners were the real followers of Lachesis, and were really drawing power from him. That’s when Rom informed her of Manny’s recent ascension (which Titus had only just learned of during his quick hospital visit). She wondered if somehow Lachesis had accomplished something similar, but seeing as he was still alive they weren’t sure how. Rom attempted to explain that Lachesis’ goal was to break the Great Seal (though he avoided explaining it to her), but she just asked why bother. If the Seal held back the gods, wouldn’t it be protecting Lachesis? Breaking it would let them attack him and he probably wouldn’t stand up very well to that. Instead she asked them what the Wyrd were trying to do and why they weren’t interested in Bluesky City very much. But neither Sara nor Rom had answers, and so she sent them home and told them to speak with their spiritual advisers.

Now the party must decide: investigate the Fatespinners in Bluesky City or go to the Esterlands to search for information about the Key of Slow Time?

A Divine Herald!

Resistance of Manny HQ, City of jik’ton, Kal’renth
Thursday, about 2:00…

“And this is the armory,” Brother Thom was saying. “You’ll get a locker for your stuff. We can give you a lock, but everyone knows the combination anyway, it’s just two smashes and a good hard tug.” He held up a lock that had seen much better days. The newbie nodded, something told him that Manny approved. “If you really want something, go get a lock from the city, but it’ll have to come out of your pay. Father Wilhelm is very strict on spending.”

Brother Fred understood. Money was hard to come by these days, economies were completely isolated. Lately the city had been offering incentives for workers and youngsters to go farm. The chromatic citizens had brought up the old debate about raiding before city council. It was an interesting time, Fred thought, but such concerns were beneath him now. Ever since he had felt the blessings of Manny come to him after that sermon in Bluesky, he had a sense that his purpose involved less accounting and more smashing (and occasional rage-accounting, a skill probably unique to Brother Fred). To that end, he had been given an axe upon arrival. He took another look at it reverently as Brother Thom went on about the other recruits. It wasn’t a greataxe, or even a very-good-axe. It was the sort of axe your grandpa might have, only a bit thicker and more suited for chopping heads. And it bore the symbol of the Blessed Manny, the Exalted Dreadnaught, the Barbarian of Light and Freedom, He Who Smashes Bad Guys, Eater of Pies, etc.

“Um, excuse me, Brother Thom?” he interrupted. Thom raised an eyebrow. “Well, when do we get to the training?”

“Oh, the fighting starts tomorrow morning. Someone will grab you from your bed in the early morning and throw you out into the training ground. Then they’ll grab a weapon and attack. You’ll have a shield somewhere, if you can get to it, but you’ll probably die once or twice until you can figure out the rage.”

“Die?” Brother Fred gulped, confused and scared.

“Yup! I mean, it’s not real death, but it’s as close as you’ll get before you actually kick the bucket.” He laughed at the expression on Fred’s face. “Hey, I went through it, too. Hurts like hell and real scary, but don’t worry. See that weapon you’re holding? All the weapons here have the mark of Manny on them. As long as you use one of those in HQ, they can’t actually kill or main you. They still hurt, you’ll still bleed and fall unconscious as if you died, but Father Wilhelm arranged for a special enchantment on them.”

“What happens if someone…” Fred drew a line across his neck. Brother Thom smiled. It was a good smile, the worst kind. The kind someone gives you right before- squelch!

Brother Fred hit the ground with a wet smack. He couldn’t move, couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t breathe. Above him Thom smiled and the world went dark. And then all of a sudden he felt a punch in his lungs. He opened his eyes and his vision blurred, then cleared, and he began coughing. Blood, there was a lot of blood. He felt his neck. Oh good, his head was still attached. There was blood there, and maybe even a scar, but then all of a sudden he felt a wave of warmth from his hand. He didn’t even register he was mumbling something. He could feel his wound closing and could see a faint yellow glow from his hand. His breathing cleared and he sat up, still taking stock of the world.

“Magic? That’s weird,” he murmured. He reached a hand down and helped Fred stand up. “There, easy now. Your first is always the hardest, but you’ll get used to the disorientation after a little while.”

“Did you just…why?”

“We’re the Church of Manny. We smash first, talk later. At least that’s what they teach us. And really how else should I have explained how it all works? We’ve got healing available after each round if you need it. Some folks are more resistant than others.”

“But why this? I thought you’d use training weapons like sticks or something?”

“Because the Wyrd will never use a training stick on you.”

Fred thought about this for a moment. “So we dance with death now, so that we’re not afraid of it in a real fight.”

“Yeah, basically.”

Fred nodded. It kinda made sense. Kinda. He really felt like he needed some time to meditate and pray. “What about time to pray?”

“Well, there are vespers before breakfast and again before bed, if that’s what you mean.”

“Not really. When do I have time to think on Manny’s teachings?”

“His teachings are battle. How can you think on them without fighting?”

“I just…feel like I need some time to prepare myself each day, that’s all.” Fred stared at his holy symbol.

“Hmm, maybe we’d better have you talk to Father Arroway.” Thom looked out at the training grounds. Sister Elone was fencing with another recruit. The newbie had already lost a lung and taken a hit to his shoulder. That he was still up was a sign of progress. “I think you’re going to need a different training regimen than the barbarians. Come, let’s go see him.”

Brother Thom led Fred out into the sun. Father Arroway’s quarters were on the other side of the compound. they walked along the outer edge of the arena, staying away from the real fights. Suddenly, Fred stopped and looked to the sky. “What is it?” Thom asked. “The sirens would be blaring if Sid was attacking.”

“It’s not that. He is sending a messenger.” Fred stepped out into the arena holding out his holy symbol. It was beginning to glow. Thom watched as Fred walked toward the center, not even seeming to be aware of the training battles around him. The glow was spreading from his symbol across his body. Fighters who turned to strike him for getting in the way, saw the light in his eyes and backed away in awe. “He is coming, I need to let him in… He is coming, I need to let him in…” Fred repeated.

Fred had stopped and stared into the sky, glowing with power and staring at the sky. By now most of the arena was watching him. Sister Elone’s opponent had done well, but turned his head to look at Fred and let his guard down. A quick stab through the heart finished him and Sister Elone took a moment to look. “By the heavens,” she whispered. “Get out of the way! Move away from him!” She ran over, yelling at the slowpokes. “Hey, kid, can you hear me?”

Fred looked down at her, awe and worry on his face. “How do I let him in?”

“Sister Elone!” Thom ran over. “Do you know what it is?”

“It’s a messenger, an angel from the gods.” She took Fred’s hands in hers. “Go fetch the High Fathers.”

“All of them? But I-”

“Yes, Thom! All of them, quickly. They’ll come.” She glared at him and he ran off. Then she looked back at Fred. The power was building up and forming wings of light on his back. “Can you hear me, brother?” Fred nodded. “Good then listen to me. I will guide you.” She knelt down, pulling him with her. The holy symbol of Manny held up in their hands white-hot, but not burning them. “Repeat after me:” She began to pray in Celestial, a simple prayer inviting the angel inside. Together they chanted, and the light around Fred flowed up into the air forming a magic circle above them. Blessed Manny, Echoe, gods, Elone thought, give Thom speed. I can’t complete the ritual, this needs a real cleric.

As if he had heard her quiet prayer, Fathers Arroway and Hirzon arrived. Hirzon barked orders to the cadets to clear the area. Amoss and Lomasi flew in a moment later. Father Arroway understood immediately and called for Perilune Clair to be summoned. He walked over and placed his hands on the holy symbol and chanted a new prayer. The light scribed his words in the circle and a beam shot forth to the sky, reaching above the shield to scribe another circle.

“My, my, is that a summoning circle?” Wilhelm commented, ever casual. He had joined them with Clair.

“Almost, Sir Chaoite,” she replied. “It is a calling and it is only used to call forth celestial beings. In this case, I would guess someone wants to visit and your shield is in the way.”

“Will this ritual allow them in?” Hirzon asked.

“Not exactly,” she pointed up. “It could plane shift up there, but in this case, we’re giving it a conduit, calling it here instead.” Hirzon gave her a blank stare. “It can’t come and go as it pleases.” He relaxed, as much as he ever did.

With a final prayer, Arroway lifted his hands and completed the spell. A burst of holy power shot up the beam to the circle in the sky. It shone and four wings manifested around a ball of light. “Sister Elone,” he said, “stand down. The holy one has chosen a host.” Elone looked up at him a little surprised and then over to Clair. The Perilune nodded and she stood and stepped back. Above them, the ball of light and wings flew down the pillar of light and into Fred. He gave a cry and floated into the air. The wings enveloped him and with a mighty gust of air they unfolded to reveal a great and powerful angel, a Solar. Everyone knelt.

“Rise and hear ye, mortals, my proclamation of the ascent and true divinity of Manny Kilore, the Exalted Dreadnaught! From the plane of Arborea he rules with Justice and Freedom. He protects the Court of Stars and crushes tyranny and before him no evil stands. He of the mighty axe commands me to inform you, his church, of his teachings. Know that only those whom he has commanded me to speak to shall hear my words.

The Blessed Manny Kilore has ascended to godhood because of the work that you, his church, has so faithfully carried out. He commands you to continue spreading his word that his power might grow and he might stand ever more radiantly against the evil of Lachesis and the Wyrd. He commands that you hold no ill will toward other gods. As a god, the Blessed Manny chooses to abide by the Divine Contract for now as the vile Lachesis holds sway over the paths between your plane and the planes of the Wheel. Thus he has designated, through me, this mortal to be his herald. Let it be known that this mortal, this Brother Fred, is Manny’s first true cleric. Speaking to him is as speaking to me, and speaking to me is to speak to the Great Barbarian. Should he wish to command you, it will be through me and through this mortal. Treat him with respect, but do not soften his skin or dull his edge. Prepare for war with the Wyrd as the Blessed Manny labors in his mighty forge and trains his army and know that to fall in battle will be to join him in his ranks.

Hear me, mortals, for the Exalted Dreadnaught blesses you. May you go forth and smash all that is vile and may you spread the word of Manny, that his power might shine ever brighter against tyranny and corruption!"

The wings closed about the solar and a powerful gust of wind blew forth, knocking some to the ground. They opened to reveal Fred, floating amidst the bright heavenly light. With a flash the light and wings rose swiftly up the pillar to the calling circle in the air. There they burst in a shower of feathers and Fred’s feet touched the ground, the glow fading from his eyes. He looked around, confused. Father Arroway put an arm around his shoulders. “There, easy now. The first time’s a bit rough.”

“What? What was all that?” Fred looked around at the confusion. “What, why are you all staring at me?”

Arroway laughed. “Not everyone understands Celestial like you do, Brother.” Fred blinked a bit and then blushed. He reached up to scratch the back of his head and jumped.

“What? What’s this!” He looked to the left and tried to pull his hair around to the front, pulling out a feather instead.

Amoss smiled and walked over to him, matching his height. “Hey, don’t worry. You’ve got some feathers now, griffon ones it looks like. Here, like this.” She turned around and morphed her hair to match so he could see what everyone else was staring at. On the back of his head, his hair, already brown, now gave way to the large brown feathers of a griffon. “It’s alright,” she said, smiling. “The Blessed Manny will look out for you. Welcome, Herald Frederick, to the Church of Manny.”


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