19:31 – 22:00 – The group emerge from the vault, and are greeted by more of the guild. Over the next couple of hours they begin to lay down plans for rebuilding the stronghold's defences (and Grigori works a number of rituals that will raise an alarm if invaders break into any part of the tunnel complex, and which reinforce several of its more vulnerable doors), and Vuldir is put to work on creating a door guardian based on a description given to him by Seren.
There are a number of minor scuffles within this time as well, as rogues closer to the street levels of the stronghold learn of the attack and in some cases, seek to destroy the party. All in all three kenku and four gorashym are slain – the rest see reason, and peace is restored.
22:00 – 22:45 – The group leave the guild tunnels for now, with Edric chosen as the go between for the group and the guild, and head through the strangely subdued night streets of the Roughs, and back to the Staff of Wands.
22:45 – 22:50 – The group, stinking of the sewers and covered in dried blood, filth and other unsavoury grime, move through the crowded streets of the Plaza District, drawing many offended comments from the gentry and nobles there, and slog their way to the main reception at the inn.
There they are met by a rather flustered man who tells them that they must hand in their keys and collect their gear, as the payments for their rooms from the Unified Order have been stopped, and they are no longer customers of the Staff. They are also given a scroll bearing the Order's official seal, which Jaeger cracks open and reads...
“Sirs, My name is Saul Methusian, Arch-Magus Custodian of the Unified Order and recognised Justicar. As you are aware, your former handler, Archevult, is currently on active duty for the Order, and as such, cannot take personal responsibility for you or your actions. In his absence, I am charged with adopting his duties.
It appears there are some serious oversights with your contributions to the Order's works and ideals, and as such you are commanded to meet with me at 06:00 tomorrow in the Silver Room of this establishment. There, we shall talk.
Do not be late. Do not think about ignoring this request.
Strength and Temperance.
Sual Methusian; Custodian and Justicar, Arch-Magus Rank.”
For a moment the group are stunned into silence, and a horrible feeling creeps along both Varracuda and Jaeger's spines; the former because he realises that as an unfettered mage any meeting with a Justicar could be unpleasant at best, and the latter because he knows that the Harraken'Khelidite church will brook no excuse for any delays on the liquidation of Darius Valde. Then they are outraged. Emmiven and Schnecke seriously contemplate starting a riot, whilst Seren considers a simple “fuck you” statement being made by paying for rooms.
In the end, they reach a compromise, designed to piss everyone off without getting them into trouble. Emmiven pays for a room for the night, and as a paying guest gains access to the main taproom. He then invites the group to join him as his guests for some drinks, all the while stinking of the Irinite sewers.
22:51 – 23:35 – Ladies and gentlemen in all their finery, out to enjoy an evening of refined conversation in splendid surroundings, are utterly revolted and traumatised by the ragged band of stinking adventurers; covered in blood and night soil, bearing open wounds and loudly using language that would make a dundorin whore blush, who lean and belch and yell at the bar – though none, not even those gentlemen with military rank, dare approach them to shut them up, for they are clearly a dangerous, possibly insane band of desperados.
The staff, knowing the group well, and knowing what has transpired try to tow the line by being seen to be sympathetic to all parties – a tall order – and eventually, something has to give.
23:36 – 23:40 – What little conversation still floats around the rapidly emptying room dies off completely as a terrible pentad of figures enters, preceded by a shivering wave of tingling power. Four wear the full face masks and bear the advanced auto-incantation firearms of assault mages of the XIII chapter, their black robes falling over finely crafted battle mantles imbued with cataclysmic spells of protection and retribution. The fifth figure is as tall as any of the XIII, but where as they are bulky, well-built individuals; mages with the mass of seasoned warriors, he is skeletally thin. He wears luxurious robes of soft maroon fur edged in black, and bears a simple silver amulet which is engraved with the crown of Merriel. His face is narrow, with hooded and ringed eyes, a long, straight nose and high, pronounced cheekbones. His eyes are pale amber in colour, and his thin lips are turned down into a non too happy snarl. His hair is thinning and grey, and has been swept back hard from his high forehead, to hang loosely over his thin, slightly stooped shoulders. In one hand he holds a runic rod, carved with runes of power, and in the other, a heavy book bound in dark hide.
“You will all follow me to the Silver Room where we will hold our meeting at once.”
His voice is sharp like a whip crack, and filled with contemptuous authority.
This can only be Saul.
23:40 – 23:55 - The group are lead to the Silver Room, a beautifully appointed private dining chamber, where a feast awaits. Saul gestures for them so sit, though as Varracuda moves forth, he stops him with a hand to the chest and declares, “Men, arrest the Impious one”.
At once the rest of the party are back on their feet protesting that Varracuda has the protection of Archevult – a factor, Jaeger points out, that has proved to the benefit not only of the arch-magus but of the order. Varracuda is grabbed by two of the XIII legion mages, a wretched, lost expression on his pale blue features.
“Archevult,” bellows Saul with a smug grin, “is no longer around, and his sponsorship of your group despite your demonstrated unwillingness to undertake those tasks set for you by the Order, is proof of his fundamental weakness. This...man...is an unfettered; an enemy of all good folks who do not wish to see the world plunged into the darkness of a magical apocalypse.
“Despite travelling with companions loyal to the Order, he has continued to eschew our tenets and to practice his magics – possibly dangerous magics at that – without our guidance and approval. He is a threat to every man, woman, child and thing in this plane, and as such, must be removed from circulation.”
The group begin to protest at once, their voices forming a tumult of anger. Still smiling smugly, Saul raises a slender hand and begins to speak again.
“However, as this genasai has such loyal, allied associates speaking on his behalf, I might be willing to exercise some leniency”.
Everyone quietens except Emmiven, who continues protesting about the situation – until Saul fills him with a crushing, silencing dread with a mere glance, the air flickering with the focused psi-magic.
“What are you saying?” snarls Jaeger.
“I am saying that if master Varracuda renounces his unfettered ways and joins with the Order, here and now, and if your troupe immediately undertakes the tasks set for you by Archevult on the afternoon of the thirteenth day of this month – the nullification of a dangerous unfettered mage – that I would be willing to not only allow the genasai to go free, but would restore and improve all boons previously granted.”
Varracuda struggles against the iron grip of the mages. Wretchedly, he looks to his companions for help, his face twisted by the conflicts raging within him like the currents of a deep and fathomless ocean. Silence hangs in the air, and after a short while Saul shrugs and produces a long scroll that bears the black and blood red seal of an execution order.
“I, Saul Methusian do hereby arrest thee, Varracuda Brakesh, for the following crimes against the peoples and stabilities of this world and surrounding plane. You are charged that you did...”
The group begin to yell and bellow again as Saul begins to reel off a number of supposed crimes against the Order and the people of the world perpetrated by the elemental humanoid, at least half of which carry the sentence of death or the Divorcement ritual.
Through it all Varracuda merely hangs his head...
“...And so, given the heinous nature and abundance of the crimes here listed, I am authorised by the High Council and by the Order of Custodians to effect punishment immediately against this wretched soul”
Varracuda's head is jerked up hard by one of the XIII, so that his pale eyes meet with Saul's. The custodian moves up to him so his cruel face is only a hairsbreadth away from the swordmage's, and as he speaks, he stares directly into his eyes.
“Captain, discharge your duty and execute the renegade.”
Time seems to slow as the horrified group watch one of the legion ready his weapon. Saul stands back quickly, clearly not wishing to be splashed by whatever juices are about to be liberated in this place. Everything takes on an unreal, horribly dreamlike feel.
“I'll join” croaks a tiny voice.
The muzzle of the auto-incantation weapon is pressed to the genasai's temple, forcing his head to the side.
"I'LL JOIN!” He screams again.
The runes on the weapon begin to glow with lethal killing power. The party look away, apart from Jaeger who seeks the swordmage's eyes.
Saul smiles and raises a hand.
“Stand down captain.”
The weapon is withdrawn. Varracuda's legs almost collapse as the fear and relief flow through him. The group drop to their seats, shivering.
“You'll join the Order? You'll undergo the necessary rituals needed to ensure your faithful embracing of our tenets and obey our laws”
Tears blurring his vision the swordmage nods. Saul nods and gestures towards the mages holding Varracuda. They release him at once.
“You will sign the contract I have with me, and thereafter will be a member of the Unified Order. As you have proved yourself a more than able spell caster you will be given the rank of Wizard.”
The contract is produced and signed, the air around the document shimmering with powerful magics that bind the scriber to their word.
“That's that then.” mutters Seren darkly.
Saul gives another cold smile and shakes his head.
“Ah, the experiment speaks. Alas no, for your friend has tasted the life of a renegade and as such may always be tempted to work against the Order. There is more that must be done to ensure that this deal is not merely a quick fix to an otherwise lethal predicament.”
One of the XIII legion mages suddenly grabs Varracuda's left arm and exposes his forearm, pressing the limb down with terrible strength. Saul produces a slender dagger with a glass blade as fine as a hair, and a small crystal vial, banded with five rune inscribed rings of some silvery metal. Seren and Varracuda both recognise the components of a phylactery, and understand what is about to occur.
“Do you submit to this?” asks Saul. Varracuda nods.
The dagger is worked into a pale green vein under the swordmage's skin and immediately a stream of his thin, watery ichor pours forth. Using the dagger to direct the drops Saul captures them in the vial, who's bands begin to shine with a pale light. As it is filled, the vial seals itself, and the blade is withdrawn.
“For those who are suspect, we keep a phylactery.” explains Saul. “It will allow us to keep track of you, and, should you become a problem, to end you. By submitting to this, you prove your trust of the Order, and reinforce our trust in you. There is one last thing you must do.”
Saul produces a faintly shining scroll of vellum, capped at each end by silvery metal.
“Your true name genasai.” commands Saul passing a pale quill to the swordmage.
Varracuda pauses. For a moment it looks like he may not sign, but then, with a sigh, he writes his name. At once a heatless white flame passes between the genasai, the vellum and the phylactery, and Saul begins to applaud.
“Welcome brother! Welcome to the Order and a new life for you!” He looks over to the rest of the group. “Greet your new brother Jaeger and Seren, for now he truly can call you his allies!”
No one else claps. All just look stunned and stare blankly at the weeping swordmage.
23:55 - 02:20 (31/4/1472)
An uncomfortable meal is had by the weary adventurer's, during which the broken Varracuda is primed on his duties to the Order. By the end of it the party can hardly stay awake, and so they jump when Saul suddenly bellows at them.
“You have until the 16th to discharge your duties to the Order, or there shall be repercussions. Balskus must be found and his threat ended. There are no excuses. Your rooms are ready, and have been upgraded.”
Saul stands and moves towards the door.
“Goodnight. See you all soon.”