Author Archives: Rules Director

September 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and Clarifications

[IXIA, CAELLINRAH TOWERS; SEPTEMBER 07, 2018 (WR)]

Before the end of the week, three magical circles had been constructed around the infested tower. They meant to contain the burgeoning energies within and to weaken the undead monsters that would spill out. For their efforts, casualties were light despite the “outbreak”. But any loss of life or limb was of serious import to Choir Caellinrah – Shaed-ling verathas, Shaed-ling veridun, Shaed-ling veradas!*

They were in the middle of constructing the fourth circle, with Elven sentinels eying the infested tower’s windows and door, when the contingent from the Order of Patience arrived, bristling with weaponry and suspicion that was decidedly not the Ixian norm.

They were led by none other than the Gate-keeper Warden, a Cambion who regarded the scene with a severity akin to the sharpened steel that hung from her belt. Though she was far and away from it physically, her charge was the maintenance and the guardianship of the only way into Ixia: the Gate of Patience.

As surprise spread across the Elves, the sentinels guarding the tower turned to face the newcomers. However, they were commanded to remain at their posts by a priestess of high rank. She immediately moved to meet with the Order of Patience, with a personal guard and a tall, foreign Elf.

“Welcome to Choir Caellinrah! Sleeping Winter, I presume?” the priestess spoke with a smile that befitted a banquet rather than the containment of dangerous magics. “I am Alassiel Caellinrah, Twilarch Heirophant in Avorah’s absence”

The Cambion responded with a curt nod as she surveyed the individuals before her and her forces, as if determining the manner and the method of dismantling them should violence erupt. Sleeping Winter’s eyes settled on the foreign Elf – he did not appear to be subservient to the priestess or any other individual. More importantly, he was familiar.

“Magnus von Dammerlicht”

He returned her demeanor with a gaze that was more stoic than severe, being a soul that had endured much in recent times. “Warden. It has been several moons since the cells”

“A precautionary measure for all who enter Ixia, Patriarch Magnus. Everyone understands, of course!” Alassiel did not physically get between them but her voice was enough to break the spell between Magnus and Sleeping Winter.

The Gate-keeper Warden turned her attention to the priestess. “Your messenger has informed me of the situation, though I suspect that much has changed since then”

“No, no – the situation remains contained”

“Then why have you called for the Order of Patience? This is Crown business, not ours” Contrary to her words, her tone seethed with a distinct lack of patience.

“Because of your talents, naturally!” Alassiel flashed a winning smile. “And of course, your proximity. We were aware that you were on your way to the Gate and close by. The strength of the Order is well known to we of Caellinrah – it is all that stands between Ixia and the savagery of the outside world!”

Sleeping Winter paused long enough for the priestess and her guest to understand that the Warden was unimpressed by her geniality. When the silence was almost unbearable, the Cambion gestured that she was to be led to the tower’s perimeter.

Magnus and Alassiel shared a glance after they turned around. As it is with such things, they arrived just in time to see the wraiths and the banshees spill out of the tower in a maddened frenzy. The only warning they gave were the howls of the tormented dead.

****

The battle was a vicious one and the undead tore through sentinels and magical circles at a rate that was yet unseen. At the end of it however, the living had put the dead to rest. The strength of the now broken magical circles and the support of the Warden and her forces were all that stood between the Twilight Elves and destruction. Now the battle was over, healers were lending assistance to the wounded and the dying in no small amount – Caellinrah were known for their love of magic, after all.

A bloodied Sleeping Winter strode to the priestess. Alassiel’s priestly robes were marred with claw marks and crimson.

“Explain”

But for once, the priestess found herself at a loss for words.

Magnus had acquitted himself nobly in the combat using Witchery and he answered for her. “Warden, this attack is unlike anything I have ever seen or encountered, even when my house lived in the death-ridden Corpse-Kingdom. However, I am well aware of its nature and its source”

Sleeping Winter raised a hand up to give him pause. She immediately summoned two of her runners. “You are going to Z’akil. And you are going to the Gate. Both of you will tell them what you saw here”

The Gate-keeper Warden turned back to Magnus. “Apologies. Continue”

Magnus flinched little during the battle, but he trembled with barely contained fury as he spoke. “I have never seen it myself, but I know of this phenomenon – though I did not expect it here, nor do I understand how it comes to be here.

This energy is similar to that of a Soulwell, a nexus of necromantic and spiritual energy. A gateway into the realms of the dead”

“Where did it come from?” Alassiel finally managed enough composure to whisper a question.

“Freehold – from the people who all but recommended the destruction of the Dammerlicht… of all I held dear” Magnus almost choked from his hatred.

Sleeping Winter nodded with an understanding beyond what a single sentence could grant. She had been there at least once and had seen both the virtuous and the sinful within that town, though there seemed more the latter than the former. It was not her place to judge and enact judgment, but if she had her way–

Their palaver was interrupted by more howls, more maddened screaming. Sleeping Winter nodded to her runners and drew her steel, moving her forces between the undead and the retreating Choir Caellinrah. They only needed to last until reinforcements arrived, but it was a tall order and weeks in the making.

When the undead horde streamed out of the tower, she cracked her neck and spread her stance. She would let the wraiths and the banshees come forth unto her waiting blades.

She was patient, after all.

 

 

*See the Celestial Church of Ixia in the Ixian Religion page

Clarify (everyone should read this):
Rumors (anyone may read this):

 

Callas Selvarion Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Fir’bolg Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Gotterdammerung Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Grellken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Ixia Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Jotunbrud Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Kali-Ishtar Kingdom only

Labyrinthium Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Malak Travak Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Pendrakken Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

Riverfolk Kingdom or Rumormonger skill only

August 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and Clarifications

‘At Least’ —  those are this month’s words

Rodrigo Zapatero heard the curtain beads clatter as his sister entered the tiny kitchen. Tierra was kind enough to let him stay here after his shop was demolished by Fang-zhara’s golems in last month’s invasion so he did his part whenever he could, at least.

“I did not know you had already returned” Tierra’s voice was as low and tired as the sputtering flames beneath the cauldron, as the flickering fires of the candles. “The children are asleep. How was work, Rodrigo?”

“Only getting worse” he sighed, elbows on the dining table of the small room. He rubbed his aching, bandaged fingers together. “People still want their shoes and their leathers mended. But they have not the money to pay. So, I’ve been getting foodstuffs and baubles”

“The farmers are still growing food, at least. Things are difficult with this thing around Freehold that’s stopping us from leaving.”

He upended his bag unto the table, spilling out shrunken and shriveled vegetables and hard bread. “Everyone is talking about what that bright wall is. Lots of folks are putting the blame on the Sun Elves…but no one really knows.”

Tierra picked up an onion and held it closer to a candle. The farms were saved but the price of their salvation was paid to a monstrous, treacherous Witch – so said the people in the tavern. That much she believed, but she and her children were alive…at least.

“We’re not starving” Rodrigo did his best to sound hopeful but found it harder to do than shape leather with ravaged fingers.

“But we will be soon” Tierra started cutting with a nearby knife, starting with the onion and then moving on the rest while she spoke. Shriveled or not, it needed to go into the cauldron with the rest of the foodstuff she traded for her husband’s things. “I heard that the Emerald Chalice and Swift Shipping Guilds have opened their stocks and reserves to the needy, but there is only so much food here. Hinterlanders line the streets of the north and west markets, trapped in town and hungry”

“And desperate?” He was suddenly aware of the weight of the club hanging from his belt.

“No, they left me alone. But this can’t last for long”

“It can’t. It won’t” His fists hurt as he clenched them. “But I know that we will endure this and see this through! There are people out there that will make things right for Freehold!”

She stopped cutting and her voice was a whisper as she signed herself with the symbol of the Seven United. “You don’t mean Primus do you? Celia said that she saw his cultists skulking in the streets, yesternight”

Rodrigo looked at her aghast. “No, no, that’s terrible. No- I mean, the Freefolk! They’ve beaten Primus before and the rest of those other monsters. They even defeated the three Immortals last moon! They’re practically gods and they were scattered like crows! They’ll fight their way out of this!”

Tierra finished cutting as he raved and dropped her work into the simmering interior of the cauldron, handful by handful. She felt, rather than heard, the children stir at his voice– but she couldn’t find it within herself to rebuke her brother.

“And if they don’t?” she said quietly into the cauldron.

“Then it would up to us?” He grinned at her and patted his club. “And no one wants that to happen”

Clarify (everyone should read this):
Rumors (anyone may read this):
Rumormonger skill only
Researcher, Aura-sight, Spirit-sight and/or Lorekeeper skills only:

July 2018 Prologue

PrologueRumors and news

[NORTHWESTERN FRINGES OF FREEHOLD, JULY 09, 2018 (WR)]

With a full moon illuminating the warm summer night, Marlowe stepped into the threshold of the farmhouse’s ruin with nary a sound. With precise claw and godly skill, her Mistress had fused her flesh with metal and power. She was stronger and swifter now, even more than she ever was…even more than she ever could be. What was once a young human woman from the Pariah of Kali-Ishtar was now the keenest knife in the arsenal of Fang-zhara, the Eternal Architect.

She found her Mistress standing over what used to be the farmhouse’s fireplace. Everything else from the building had been broken and scattered. Neither wall nor roof remained where they had been, with only burnt beams and shattered stone to mark what had once been a home. When rain would come, its fall would sizzle and steam over flame and forge — but there was no rain tonight, just a clear night sky and a bright moon.

The Immortal had turned the fireplace into a workshop in the span of an hour. The bright fires of her creation cast long shadows into the night and illuminated the silhouette of her horns and her wings. She could have been mistaken for a statuesque Nightkin from behind, but for her green scales and a palpable aura of peril that surrounded her. From this place, Fang-zhara forged soldiers and servants, horrors and monsters, to fight, work and die for her as she wished.

These augmentations made Marlowe understand her place in things, of course, which is why she knelt as soon as she came close enough. “Mistress, there is no sign of the Deceiver”

Fang-zhara put down her tools and stepped away from her forge. Her voice quavered only slightly as she hissed: “I know he is near. I can sense his lies!”

“Then I have failed you once again. Let me be punished according to your will”

“No” Firmly yet gently, the Immortal’s clawed hand clutched Marlowe’s chin, firmly yet gently, and guided her to standing.

“Primus’ lies will never again harm me and mine. You still have a role to play in his doom, Dearest” The Immortal’s words burned with both hatred and affection.

“Must we ally ourselves with Portia and Tenebrous? What is their role in all of this?”

Her questions gave Fang-zhara pause. It seemed to Marlowe that her Mistress had much to think about these days.

After a moment, the Immortal paced as she spoke, giving some voice to her mind’s whispers. “We have common enemies and the Deceiver is not the only one. Furthermore, we have come to an agreement and they have promised me the Vashalla beneath Freehold and the Hinterlands”

“Vashalla?”

“In this era, it is called Mercurium. It is a rare, powerful mineral and very useful in my craft. In all of our crafts, in fact”

Marlowe nodded but her uncertainty remained with her. “I see. And the others, they will let you have it after Freehold has been defeated?”

Fang-zhara could not help but laugh then. “Oh, Dearest! Of course not!”

“Then why help them, Mistress?” Marlowe’s hands balled into fists, with her golemic arm seizing with supernal strength. Within her, the golemic heart filled her with elemental energies as the thought of the Mistress’ betrayal brought her boundless wrath. Had she not suffered enough? Had she not seen enough lies?

Fang-zhara turned back to her work, her visage lit by the glow of the forge. “Because I will break anyone who will keep me from what is mine, even another Immortal”

Rumors (anyone may read this)
Rumormonger skill only
 
Lorekeeper skill only

Clarify: Those with the Mark of Fang-zhara are aware of the exchange in the prologue, in bits and pieces, as though a dream, although the Marked characters are fully aware of its reality.