12:05 – 13:15 – The group spend a few moments calming down after their encounter with the horrific undead. Shaking the last vestiges of fear and shock from their minds (for now at least), they gather the scattered treasures of the hoard, and aware that Atrophius may return at any moment and renew his attack, they quickly dart for the forests, and the distant aelwyn ruins.
Their passage through the forests is a fearful affair. Every shadow seems to hold a lurking form and every sound is the dread keening of a tortured soul. However, the group make it back to the edge of the clearing where the ruins are without incident.
13:16 – As they reach the edge of the tree line, they hear sounds of battle coming from the ruins; the sound of blades slicing flesh and the croaking scream of gorgryn.
13:16 – 13:18 – Slowing, the group take up stealthier positions, and Llewellyn sneaks forwards to see what is going on. Across the clearing he can see Gorthias, covered in the black blood of gorgryn as well as his own blood, leaning on the shattered outer walls, wiping slimy atramental gore from his aelwyn blade. Five gorgryn lie in a pile before the warden, one still twitching, its throat a gushing ruin.
The group hail the warden, and he raises a weary hand in greeting.
“Black Gobs. My companions and I smashed them a few months ago. Seems some stragglers are still in the area looking for easy meals. They made a mistake this time.”
13:19 – 13:23 - The group head down into the ruins.
13:24 – 14:00 – Gorthias and the other refugees are overjoyed at the groups' success, and are more than a little awestruck by the news that they faced the lich, and not only survived, but drove it off. They then discuss with the group their plans. Gorthias and his group are planning on heading towards Karrag'Durzal, and Ormid offers to conjure a number of spectral steeds for them, to help them on the first leg of their journey.
The group then ask Gorthias about the Unified Order, and as the enormity of the organisations power and the strictness of their laws is revealed, Ormid becomes increasingly angry about them and their ways, and declares that they are an abomination. During the course of this discussion, Ardwaine learns of the fall of Brunduin during the aelwyn wars, and seems unable to comprehend that anything could destroy that ancient stronghold.
It is decided that the party will not accompany the refugees, as they do not wish to get too close to civilisation, and possible contact with the agents of the Unified Order. They will instead try to open more portals to the rune circles they learned in the past, in the hopes that they will find one that will allow them some breathing room to find a way to get back to the past.
Ormid remembers that the fabric of reality close to the so called “Faerie Gate Mountains” - a great range that stretched (and Gorthias assures them exist still) for several hundred miles from the western edge of the Southguards and down the western coast – is especially thin, and that some faerie dimensions – including possibly, one that may have a morphic time flow – can be easily accessed there, especially during the equinoxes. He surmises that they may be able to gain access to a morphic fae plane and be able to force their way back into the past. However, Gorthias warns them that to get there they would have to get dangerously close to lands under the rule of the Unified Order – unless of course they can fly there.
That statement leads to brief discussion about hijacking a skyship from somewhere, though this is rapidly forgotten when it is realised that doing this would require the group to enter areas where the Unified Order have strength.
So, the party finally decide to go with their first plan. They will rest, and then Ormid will try to link to some of the ancient rune circles they have used in the past.
14:00 – 14:30 – Ormid conjures spectral steeds for the refugees, and they leave. Before heading off Gorthias thanks them for everything they have done. He pledges that should they need his help, if he is able to, he will do anything for them. Then he, and the refugees leave.
14:30 – 21:00 – The party sleep; their dreams haunted by visions of the lich and his keening apparitions. They awaken, have a bite to eat, and then Ormid begins to draw the first rune circle.
21:01 – 21:10 – A portal to the ancient rune circle that was carved within the storage holds of The Wanderer is opened, and to the groups' surprise it seems intact. As soon as it opens pale golden light spills into the basement, and through the shifting window in reality they can see the inside of a glass case; their reflections ghostly in its polished inner surface. They also spot, beyond the case, that other rune circles, many in disrepair, hang along unseen walls, each in its own display case.
A moment after the portal opens, the case beyond begins to shudder rhythmically. A split second before the magic fades, a hulking golem, made from the same dull metal as Llewellyn's mace strides into view, its massive fists alive with snaking greenish runes of power.
21:11 – 21:21 – Ormid recognises the construct as an Adamantium Golem, and he realises that where ever the portal now resides is owned by someone of great wealth, and, or power. From what they learned from Gorthias, this can only mean the Unified Order.
The group hatch a plan. They will open another portal and throw through a note explaining that they mean no harm. They hope that whoever has the portal will appreciate that for someone to know the rune sequence of that portal that they must have some kind of past connection with it. They hope that this will stop them rushing to any hasty and potentially deadly conclusions. They also hope that they read tradespeak and can work through the changes that over one thousand years of change have wrought to that pidgin tongue.
21:22 – The portal yawns. The note is thrown through. The group spy more figures beyond the glass now; a handsome, turbaned man dressed in fine robes with the dark skin of a southerner who appears torn between amazement and abject terror at sight of the rune circle activating once more, two warforged of similar design to the Veteran though dressed in silk armour and turbans, and a figure mantled in concealing black robes and a beaded face mask who radiates quiet power. Behind them all looms the Adamantium Golem.
The man begins to speak, but the portal closes...
22:00 – The rune circle is activated for the third time, and the party step through – grateful for the fact that the glass case has been removed.
22:00 – 22:05 – The man beyond introduces himself as Azif Dezafarre. He is merchant of the Great House Consortium who has a particular interest in ancient artefacts. He explains that the circle the group came through is one of his prized artefacts, and is almost speechless at meeting them. The robed figure is less happy with the groups' arrival. A female voice hisses from behind the mask.
“My Lord Azif, we should inform the Order of this. We do not know who they are, or where they truly come from”.
Before Azif can reply however, Ormid strides forwards.
“My name is Ormid Threfler, Dragon Slayer and I think you are all very ru...”
A sharp hiss comes from the robed figure as soon as the artificer states his name, and Azif backs away as if stung. His face changes from impressed but cautious to outraged.
“Blasphemy!” he yells, “Who in the name of the Gods do you think you are to speak so?”
Ormid, equally furious repeats his name.
The robed figure speaks. “I have sent a homunculus to alert the order of these occurances.”
More angry than he can express, Ormid reaches into his backpack and brings forth his enchanted hot chocolate decanter. Shrugging he pours himself and the rest of the group a drink – a gesture that seems to give the merchant and his entourage pause.
“Wait,” murmurs Azif, “Bashaeda, call off your homunculus for now.”
The robed figure shimmers with power and reports that it is done. The party regard the merchant, waiting to see what he will do next.
“Something about you makes me wonder if....the impossible is happening here. To claim to be the founder of the Unified Order as you do is regarded as a serious sin, and yet...
“I would like you to accompany my guards to a more secure chamber.”
“Secure?” growls the warforged.
“Magically speaking.” replies Bashaeda. “A muting chamber that will prevent any ritual magics from working.”
The group look around them. More warforged bearing Azif's livery have entered the chamber, and with the looming presence of the Adamantium Golem, the party realise that they have no choice for now other than going along with their new hosts' suggestions.
Ormid is also confused. Did they just say he founded the Unified Order?
22:15 – The group are shown into an empty chamber carved from black marble. Negation runes radiate a negative radiance from its support beams, and as soon as they are all inside, the heavy doors slam shut and lock.
22:15 - ??? - A long, long time passes. Then, the doors to the chamber open revealing a potent trio of strange figures. Their vestments are immediately recognised by Ormid, Ardwaine and the warforged; hooded, gossamer robes of shifting rainbow hue and mirrored face masks that completely hide their features. The only decorations they bear is a single amulet of silver chased in black opal, engraved with the pentacle or stars – the holy symbol of Merriel'Shaava, goddess of magic, mysteries and the supernatural. Two of them bear engraved censers swinging from the ends of rune-scribed chains of alchemical silver, whilst the nearest figure – clearly female – wields an orb of throbbing power.
The priests enter the chamber and say nothing. The orb wielder makes a gesture, and the dulling runes fade. Then, the two censer swinging priests take up positions in opposing corners whilst the orb wielder begins inscribing complex patterns of runes about the group.
Ormid recognises the runes as part of a truth discerning ritual, and after a short while the three Merriel'Shaavites begin a unified chanting, the air immediately thrilling with gathering power, the temperature in the small chamber dropping by several degrees.
The air seems to thicken, and a tang of power shocks through the groups heads. Suddenly, the runes on the floor shine with a clear, silvery light. Only now does the orb wielding priestess speak...
Over the next ten minutes Ormid is questioned about who he is, where he has come from, and what he knows about the current age. Ormid answers truthfully, and as the ritual fades, the three clerics bow deeply to him, and then quietly leave the chamber, the doors slamming shut once more.
More time passes. Food is brought, as well as books about the present age, which Ormid reads.
The group sleep. They wake. More food. More sleep....and then.
11:00 – 11:30 - The door to the chamber opens and the group are faced with a muscularly built man who exudes a potent air of carefully restrained power. He wears heavy robes of crimson and black, and the Crown of Merriel'Shaava – the symbol of the Unified Order – is emblazoned on an amulet he bears. Rune inscribed bracers glow on his wrists, and small, flickering stones float in lazy orbits about his head. His eyes are dark green, and shine with confidence and curiosity, and when he speaks, the burr of a northern accent is detectable beneath the more prominent southern drawl. A pure white cat, with knowing silver eyes and silver rings on its tail sits by his side, regarding the group levelly, its tail twitching.
He stands staring for a moment, before stepping into the room, and simply saying to Ormid, “You shouldn't be here. This, is impossible.”
This man is Inquisitor Alvorde Daverrenne, a Unified Order magus who's role is to hunt down, interrogate and punish unfettered magic users, supernatural beings, and touched arcanists. He is in no doubt that Ormid is indeed the Ormid – the man who founded the Unified order over a thousand years before by persuading the disparate mages guilds to join forces to help send an army of extra-dimensional beings back from whence they came – though he is utterly unable to explain how he is here or how he gets to the past.
Of two things though he is sure. Firstly, if news of his presence is leaked to the upper echelons of the Order, there would be panic – and Alvorde is not confident that the leaders of the Order would make sound decisions in any state of shock or confusion, for such a state is entirely alien to them. Secondly, if the news got to those that oppose the Unified Order, then Ormid would become the most hunted man on the planet until he was slain and (in theory) prevented from founding the Order....though Alvorde is sure such a thing would either be impossible due to the nature of reality as it stands, or would cause...problems...
It is agreed by Alvorde and the group that he will not disclose any more about Ormid's actions in the past, in case the knowledge would change what happens – assuming it hasn't already. Alvorde informs the group that he would like them to accompany him to his home in New Laertraine, and somewhat dazedly, they agree.
11:31 – 15:40 – Alvorde leads the party through the impressive Dezafarre compound and into a sun drenched courtyard. There, a sleek black skyship, sporting strange engines unlike any Ormid has seen before, piloted by a modified warforged slaved to its guidance systems, waits. The ship leaves the compound (which is within the vast mercantile city of Heb'Sabuul), and flies eastwards and a little to the south, to the mainly subterranean city of New Laertraine; a place that the whole party have been to before.
The ship docks (the group can see nothing from within, for its walls lack portholes and are opaque), and the group are shown to luxurious chambers, fitted with all kinds of art, a well stocked library of theological, arcane and poetic works, as well as well stocked drinks cabinets, a heated swimming pool and comfy beds. Alvorde informs them that they should relax, as he intends to speak to another Order mage, whom he trusts implicitly.
17:00 – 18:00 - Alvorde returns with a rotund, sweating man who wears decorative robes and who also bears the Unified Order's symbol. He is Bertholde Dorace, another mage of high standing within the Unified Order. Bertholde is clearly awestruck at meeting “the great” Ormid, and he spends a good few minutes simply babbling happily, his chins wobbling as he gibbers, and shakes everyone's hands.
Once Bertholde has calmed down, it is explained that he is a specialist in dimensional travel and that he has done some theoretical work on chronomancy – the magic of time travel. The first thing Bertholde explains is that under Unified Order law, any magics that directly manipulate the flow of time, or which potentially allow an individual to affect the time stream are illegal. Their use is considered the highest crime, and the penalty is immediate Divorcement (he explains this is a ritual that forever strips an individual of their magical affinity and ability to work magic), imprisonment within the dread Durance Occulta or death. Having said that, he knows that the ancient mages did work spells to open portals in time, and he is sure that such magics were done within the ancient city of Laertraine. Ancient plans show that central areas of the city – currently under heavy security – housed experimental magical departments – the most likely areas for the experiments in chronomancy to be done, and he suggests that the group may be able to find something in that area that could help them get back to their own time.
But there is a catch (of course). Due to the unstable state of Laertraine's ruins, the Unified Order have locked them down. Only authorised researchers are allowed in there, and trespassers are dealt with most harshly. Alvorde has arranged for some false passes for the group, but both he and Bertholde feel that avoiding the sentinels as much as possible would be the best course of action. This means that using the secure teleports into the ruins is out of the question, and that a more dangerous but less obvious route must be sought. To this end, Alvorde will show the group to the cities ancient sewage system, which leads into septic tanks in the outer ruins. From there they can transverse the lethal landscape of the ruins and enter their heart, where, with massive luck, they will gain access to the ancient research structures and – with even more luck – discover something they can use.
Neither hold out much hope.
18:00 – 19:30 – The party have something to eat, and prepare themselves for the dangerous journey ahead.