Thursday, 18 February 2010

Post War Session - 16/2/2010 (Part 1)

5/4/1472 (Bright initially, then clouds over. Cold rain by nightfall whilst temperatures continue to fall)

12:00 – Thane Arundunas is lain to rest in the Royal vaults beneath the throne room, besides his two uncorrupted sons.

6/4/1472 (Cold drizzle and later some sleet)

09:30 – 12:00 - The Geldorag'Drudge grudge bearer's - a frightening band of spike armoured, scarred dundorin bearing the standard of their clan and the dour, stylized dundorin face symbol of Baldorgar (Dundiir God of Vows, Honour, Debts and Grudges) – arrive outside the northern fortifications of Karrag'Durzal, and their leader (a more soberly attired Dundorin who's quiet voice carries over the distance with lethal calm and authority) immediately demands the head of Thane Arundunas and of his two eldest sons. He then reels off the many charges against the Thane, the most serious being the cowardly method he chose to try and remove their Thane, and the use of religiously “forbidden poisons” - toxins that are deigned unholy due to the Dundorin's lack of resistance to them.

Ásbjorn, flanked by several grim faced Durzal guards (for the group, being non-Dundiir must stay out of sight, or risk making the negotiations more difficult) addresses the gathered grudge bearer's and informs them of the Thanes death, as well as the deaths of all three of his sons. He tells them of the sorry state of the Durzal clan, and of the affliction that is even now killing them. He tells them of Thane Arundunas' madness, and of the daemonic influences of his youngest son, and asks them to be merciful; both for the sake of Clan Durzal, and their own clan, should the grudge bearers become exposed to the disease.

Initially anger and disbelief hammer the walls, thrown by the gathered Geldorag'Drudge. Accusations of deceit and cowardice ring forth, and threats of a great war are presented with grim credibility. However, after a short while, the leader of the grudge bearers becomes animated, and makes a proposal to the Durzal Dundorin.

He suggests that they, being without a true Thane, are now no longer a true clan, adding that in their supposedly weakened state that there is actually nothing to stop the Geldorag'Drudge or indeed, any other passing force, from taking the Karrag and slaying all within. He gives Ásbjorn and his cousins a choice – become a vassal clan of the Geldorag'Drudge or be annihilated.

It is not a hard decision to make. By highsun, the Dundorin of Clan Durzal are accepted as vassals of Clan Geldorag'Drudge; bound by honour (and soon, once the ague has been driven from their halls, by blood oath) to serve their parent clan, to make regular offerings of money and other riches to them, and in return to enjoy their protection, support and the rejuvenation of their womenfolk and new trade bonds.

A ragged, hollow cheer rings through the empty halls of Karrag Durzal, echoed by the angry mutterings and reluctant cheers of the gathered grudge bearers.

12:00 – 07:00 7/4/1472

With the issue of the grudge bearer's solved with rather more alacrity and a lot less violence than expected, the group spend a last day with the Durzal Dundorin before resting up and leaving the next morning.

07:35 – 09:00 - The group arrive at the gathering place where Aramyn's caravan waits. They are greeted warmly, and Aramyn informs the party that he wishes to make way for Peregrine without any further delay. However, before they leave, the party find themselves involved in an argument and then discussion with Adrielle and her company, who have pulled in with the wagon in which the evil sword is kept. The group are a little peeved when they find out that Brynn – who had refused to join them on their journey – is now travelling with their rivals, having been persuaded that he is serving Greenford better by ensuring the destruction of the sword than by staying in the village.

For his part, Brynn seems utterly unaware of the groups irritation, and greets them warmly.

Adrielle and her troupe (except Brynn) are all pale, and have shadowed, haunted eyes as if they have not slept well for some time. The wizard demands that the party travel with her group and the sword, and makes passing reference to being followed by “shadows” and to the sword whispering “with words that hurt to hear”. However, Emmiven and Grigori, offended by her assumption of their parties role as subordinates, demand to know why they should do her any favours when, in truth, they are borderline enemies, triggering an escalating line of insults and threats.

Adrielle makes vague threats about reporting the groups part in the arrival of the undead at Greenford to the Unified Order, only to have Grigori suggest that they will do as she asks for a price. Adrielle counters by stating that her price is not following through with her threats (whilst several members of her company exchange insults with the party), and the extra protections that both groups will enjoy against the unseen enemies she seems to think pursue them; “for be assured, what ever follows us will seek you out too”.

The party however continue to resist her demands, and Adrielle suddenly tells her company to pack up and to prepare to return to Greenford, leaving the sentient blade here. Aramyn's ears prick up, and sensing the dire nature of the blade being mentioned, he suddenly demands to know what is going on, and what “this blade you speak of is”.

Pleased with her apparent victory, Adrielle turns away from the group, her comrades smiling at the angry Dundorin merchant as he firmly tells the group that he will not put his cousins in danger by carrying an item of evil power.

Then Jaeger whispers something to Seren, who gives a cold smile, and addresses Adrielle.

“That would be a serious dereliction of duty would it not wizard Adrielle?”

The wizard stops and swings round. For a brief moment the party feel terrible power rise within her, and she can be seen to be almost physically fighting down her fury. Then, in a low, dangerous voice she begins to berate Seren, reminding her that she is her main hope for a sponsor for the rank of wizard, and that by angering her she is only hurting herself.

Grigori turns peacemaker, and suggests that this sponsorship be Adrielle's payment to the group for their support of her troupes journey to Peregrine. Realising that she has just been given a way to save face and to get what she wants, she accepts.

A grudging truce is called, and both groups hunker down to eat and to share their tales.

The group tell Adrielle of their adventures under and within Karrag'Durzal, and the wizard and her group show something akin to genuine respect when the story of the plague daemon and the ensuing battle is told.

She then tells the group of her own groups' trials since leaving Greenford. She describes a battle with surprisingly resilient Gorgoth Zombies a couple of days before, and the peace between the two groups is almost shattered as Emmiven and the Dundorin rogue Urdoin (who still hates the warlord from their argument in the taproom of the Kingfisher two weeks before) begin winding each other up with insults as to each parties ability to manage their battles to completion, for it rapidly becomes apparent that these undead were the corpses of the same greenskins slain in the ambush eight days past.

Adrielle then begins to talk about the unholy runesword they carry. She described how after a few days on the road it began to whisper to itself in some alien and foul language who's words and intonation were of such toxicity that is seemed to taint and twist the mind of anyone exposed to it. She then describes how for the last few days their nights have been plagued by lupine shadows, which have come to their camp, always out of direct sight, but close enough that their foul presence disturbs sleep. She speaks of horrific nightmares, and the group realise that she is not putting on an act; she is genuinely scared.

Aramyn is not happy either. He once more begins to bluster about the blade, and demands to be allowed to see it. He warns the party that he is not willing to put his, or his cousins lives on the line, and sternly states that he will abandon the party if their actions or lack of actions bring harm to them. Luckily, he is convinced that the sword poses no threat to them, bound as it is within circles of power and surrounded by mighty warriors aware of its tricks.

09:20 - With everyone finally willing to work along side each other, they can all return to their journey west.

09:20 7/4/1472 – 23:30 8/4/1472 (crisp, clear day, followed by cold, clear night)

The group make good progress along the trade routes towards Peregrine. After the first day they turn more to the north and begin to move up into the peaks of the Southguard Mountains.

Relations within the group are strained, but everyone focuses on the task at hand and no more problems erupt. By late afternoon on the 8th, the caravans are winding their way through small hamlets and trade villages, built along the main trade routes to capture passing trade, and the snow covered peaks of the mountains begin to dominate the skyline ahead.

As the suns set, the group make camp in the shadow of a great cliff, and lots are drawn to see who gets the displeasure of guarding the runesword through the night. Emmiven actually volunteers for this, his watch beginning at 23:30.

During his watch, the warlord engages the foul weapon in insults and mockery. The blade does not rise to these however, instead trying to win the shapeshifter over. This fails, and both leave each other under a pall of frustration – though the warlord does take great pleasure in reminding the blade that it only has a couple of days at most left to exist.

9/4/1472 (Warmer, though light snow dusts the land briefly in the afternoon. Clear and cold by nightfall).

14:40 – 14:45 – A couple of hours from Peregrine and the city can be seen to the northwest, rising above the Middle Pass Valley from the Peregrine Cliffs.

It is mid afternoon and the group have just passed through the town of Hawks Shadow when they become aware of a distant thumping sound, accompanied by a tremor through the ground. The further along they move, the louder this becomes, and noticing the lack of panic in the locals, they approach one, and learn that the thumping is coming from a war-machine assigned to patrol the lands under Peregrine's shadow.

They thank the farmer, and move through the town, after a short while spotting the monstrous engine of destruction the local desciribed - the Warforged Titan Vigilo Proeliator – The Vigilant Warrior. [Some Images from the web of these things - #1 #2 #3 #4]

The titan is a towering thing of metal, wood, stone and magic, hung about with banners bearing kill tallies. Runes of magical power gleam across its heavy armour, and each footfall thumps through the ground like a mini-earthquake.

Warforged range around this thing in two loose columns, their glowing eyes scanning the area for any trouble, whilst a troupe of Dundorin warriors tromp on up ahead under a banner bearing the symbol of a Hammer, a stylized mountain and a rune; the standard of the Thraeg'Hiemmer Dundorin (Mountain Hammers – a clan of warrior merchants and master blacksmiths who's Karrag is located in the northern reaches of the Clouded Hills).

Several humans bearing the Hawk and Tower symbol of Peregrine, and dressed in the cities colours (white, blue, silver and gold), ride white warhorses, both men and beasts clad in gleaming plate, whilst a single human knight, dressed in the heavy black-enamelled armour and flowing green and gold cloak of a Holy Guide, rides at the front.

14:46 – 14:56 - Realising that these souls can give them much information, they group hail the Knight – Sir Arran Keth'Cellinthar – and from him hear tales of gathering greenskin armies to the north, a “human power” group calling themselves the “Sons of the True Creed” who have been making trouble for all non-humans in the city (including the Warforged and Dundorin who so recently helped drive off the Aelwyn, and who even now fight for their revenge half a world away).

The knight warns them to be on their guard, as well as on their best behaviour, before calling his troops back into formation (the Dundorin, spotting Aramyn's caravan, have broken ranks during this conversation in order to buy produce from him).

14:57 – 15:00 - It is at this point that Gorthias breaks the news to the party that he is not coming to Peregrine, but intends to spend the night in Hawks Shadow before seeking passage back to Greenford. The group are openly upset about this, but when the warden explains that he simply cannot stomach the thoughts of being inside a true metropolis like Peregrine, the group accept his decision, wishing him luck and safe journeys.

Gorthias leaves the party.

15:00 – 17:45 - It takes about two and a half hours for the party to wind their way along the precipitous roads that lead along the western face of the Peregrine Cliffs. As they climb, the party get an incresingly clear view of the city proper. They can see it consists of two massive collections of spires and towers nestled amongst the living stone of the mountains either side of the precipitous Peregrine Gap, which are linked by an incredible “bridge”, several miles across, which supports the main bulk of the city proper. They marvel at the vast, rune scribed supports which bear this sectors weight, and tie it to the solid rock of the mountains either side, and wonder out loud what would happen were they to fail.

As they near the cities main gates, the roadside becomes crowded with gibbets bearing all manner of grim occupants; the bodies of Gorgoth, highwaymen, murderers and anarchists, along with strange stakes of runed wood upon which are impaled rune scribed skulls. The runes carved into the skulls are identified by Seren as binding runes, and suggest that they belonged to former mages – almost certainly executed by the Unified Order for being “renegades”.

Varracuda grows very quiet at this point, trying his best to look harmless, small and most importantly, non magical!

The suns are already lost behind the western peaks of the Southguards, where they rise above the shadowy spray and flow of the Neversea by the time the group arrive at the front gates of the city, and the lights of the city already gleam and flicker across the bridge and through the spires.

The front gates of the city bear the scars of their resistance during the siege*, and thousands of polished and enamelled Aelwyn skulls crowd the mouldings above them, each carved with a binding rune.

17:45 – 17:50 - The guards take the parties details, growing significantly more respectful when they realise that members of the Unified Order are amongst them, and the group move into the city without incident.

* Peregrine resisted the Aelwyn during the wars, and paid the price. It was besieged for over a year, and saw vicious battle almost every single day of that time. Given the same choice as Lorehaven to either allow the Aelwyn to take it over (and thus secure total control of the North Republic), or to “die in futile token of resistance”, they chose the latter – and prevented the total sacking of the North, and slowed the Aelwyn down enough that the Unified Order and their allies could enact their plan for victory.

Once a city of proud towers, and soaring bridges of fantastic design, famous for it gigantic hunting birds and their skilled riders, it now bears the scars of its long tribulation. Many of the legendary towers remain smashed at this time, hidden within vast networks of scaffolding, as do many of the bridges. Huge craters, overgrown with weeds, mar the land before its cliffs, and some of the roads that climb up the Peregrine Cliffs are bridged with temporary constructs, set in place until they can be repaired.

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