Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fire and Steel

Sul, Barrakas 22, 998 YK (Day 36).

After eliminating the last of Cabor's Chains, Cecil decides that for the time being, he has had enough adventuring - at least, adventuring with the Eclipse Collective. He parts ways with the group, presumably to go back to the city of Skairn. The rest of the group decides to investigate the only door in the slavers' hideout that they have not yet investigated, which leads to a ladder, heading upwards. Not surprisingly, they discover it heads to another pantry, belonging to the kitchen of the Hog's Tail inn. However, aside from the door that leads to the kitchen itself, they discover another, poorly-hidden secret door, which they open immediately. Inside, they find the holding room for the slaves of Cabor's Chains, mostly of the more commonly seen races. Humans, elves, and dwarves feature prominently, but one member of a race unrecognized by any member of the party is shackled here. His flesh is a light violet, and his eyes are entirely white, matching his hair and the unusual geometric markings on his body. He is first to be freed, and while Tam'elenath and Garmeth set about freeing the other slaves, they question this stranger.

His name is Elyas, and he is scarce on the details he reveals to the party. He states that he is of the deva race, and that he acts on behalf of the god of knowledge, arcana and justice, Aureon. He has most recently come from Sarlona, in the major Riedran port city of Dar Ulatesh. There, he fought against Riedran oppression by the dictatorial Inspired, particularly the suppression of knowledge for the masses, until he learned of an artifact of great import to him and his faith located somewhere in Khorvaire. This artifact is a tome containing "lost and ancient knowledge," but Elyas is not clear on what that knowledge is. During his travels, he ended up staying in the Hog's Tail, and was captured in the night by Cabor's Chains. The party believes his goals align with theirs, and they ask him to accompany them, especially since Cecil has now left, to which Elyas agrees.

Symbol of Aureon

After spending some time in the Vedykar Exchange, in which Tam'elanath orders a tapestry from a shifty merchant, Garmeth finally buys some thieving tools, and Stahlstrauss pays for a magic battle standard for the party, they head to the lightning rail station to depart for Rekkenmark.

Mol, Barrakas 23, 998 YK (Day 37).

The journey by lightning rail to Rekkenmark takes about seventeen hours, and the party sleeps on the train. By the time they arrive, it is mid-afternoon. Because the White Arch Bridge has been destroyed for seventy years, the lightning rail does not cross from Rekkenmark to the city of Thaliost across Scion's River, and the party must gain passage by boat.  As they leave the lightning rail station, the group is stopped by a figure wearing rich scarlet robes, asking who they are. When they confirm their identity as the Eclipse Collective, he reveals that he is Equis, a pro-warforged revolutionary from the Last War, possibly the most famous revolutionary of all. Stahlstrauss recognizes him, as does Lucan, who wrestles with the desire to turn Equis in for his war crimes, as is his role in House Medani (but he decides not to at the behest of his companions). Equis reports warforged abductions in Rekkenmark, which he believes are related to a tiefling activist group in the city called the Brotherhood of Fire, which have gone from civil demonstrations to criminal activity in recent times. He has a contact from the Brotherhood, an extant tiefling named Purpose, and the party agrees to meet him and question him for Equis. Stahlstrauss is particularly keen on this due to his past experiences with tieflings capturing warforged.

Equis, during the Last War
They find Purpose in a run-down taphouse with his half-orc bodyguard Lort, but Purpose is hesitant to talk. Zil'dejin slams his hands on the table over and over, yelling at him mercilessly. Purpose is unnerved, as at the same time Stahlstrauss uses his telepathic abilities (provided by a component installed by Mr. Artauche) to implant threatening messages into Purpose's head. Tam'elanath buys him a pint of beer, but Purpose does not drink it, and Garmeth tries to talk to him calmly, but Purpose expresses outward hatred for him, apparently racially-based. Lucan learns that he is reluctant to speak for fear that the Brotherhood will kill him, and Elyas recounts some important historical knowledge about the Brotherhood of Fire and the Council of Azuun, which is mentioned once by Purpose during Lucan's questioning.

Zil'dejin has now gotten belligerent, and has unsheathed his glaive. Lucan takes the opportunity to play "good cop" and explains calmly that he cannot be responsible for what Zil'dejin does if Purpose does not tell them what the group wants to know. Tam'elanath tries to earn both Purpose's and Lort's trust by buying them both alcohol of their choice, but ends up spilling it all over them. Garmeth receives more hateful remarks from Purpose, and Stahlstrauss is now more vocal than mental with his threats. Elyas learns that Purpose has cut his ties with the Brotherhood of Fire because of their recent evil activities.

Symbol of the Council of Azuun
Purpose finally caves, and the party learns that recently a tiefling (though Purpose does not identify him as such, calling him "something more") named Marathis, formerly of the Council of Azuun, has taken over the former activist group and is abducting warforged, resetting them to a "blank slate" state with a ritual he gained from the Council to use as a kind of personal army. Purpose gives the party the location of their hideout in an abandoned warehouse on the waterfront, and the party goes there at once.

Here, they act as though they have captured and are selling Stahlstrauss, and the tieflings let them in, bypassing the apparently well-guarded ground level (patrolled by mindless warforged) and taking them to what was once an office, but now appears to be something like a shrine. There they see Marathis, and a woman chained to an altar. After a tense bartering session that ultimately backfires, the party attacks Marathis and his cultists, who are supported by a warforged soldier. Zil'dejin is cut down almost immediately by an extremely powerful blow from Marathis, and around this time the woman on the altar reveals that she is actually free, and a disguised succubus named Adara, who has been working closely with Marathis. She uses her unnatural powers of charm to control the battlefield while the others attack.

Eventually, Stahlstrauss brings Marathis down with ferocity, cursing him and the entire Council - but not before he kills the newcomer Elyas. The warforged soldier is soon killed as well, and Adara, now alone with two wounded, nearly-mindless cultists, barters for her life. Stahlstrauss agrees to spare her if she reverses the ritual, which she begins immediately. The cultists are now isolated, and before long are killed by the party.

The party takes some time to ensure that Adara is performing the ritual, and when she completes it, the warforged in the ground floor of the warehouse (many of whom are stored in crates) offer extensive gratitude and thanks to the Eclipse Collective, assuring them that they will not forget the favour. Stahlstrauss takes Marathis' magic armor. Elyas is then raised using a scroll he was carrying, and Zil'dejin is brought to a temple and revived in exchange for some expensive enamel icons they discovered in Marathis' chamber. The party then rests the night at an inn.

Zol, Barrakas 24, 998 YK (Day 38).

The party meets with Equis the next day, and he too is extremely grateful, and is pleased to see that Stahlstrauss still supports "the cause." Instead of money, Stahlstrauss chooses to take information on the remaining members of the Council of Azuun from Equis, who has discovered that only the two most powerful members are still alive: the general, Telleroth Vaen, and the magician, Abraxas Deimos.

Equis also offers the party free passage across Scion's River, since a ferryman is his current profession after the Last War. They agree, and he brings them down to the waterfront onto his skiff. They look at the ruins of the White Arch Bridge as they pass, and Stahlstrauss reminisces about his time here in the Last War.

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