|Unrelated picture, artist unknown|
Since we started up after the summer I've been pushing the guys hard to come up with a plan, and so they have. This chapter covers two group-sessions, as well as a couple of informal talks over a beer or two. I'll do my best to sum it up without omitting too much, or getting bogged down in too many details.
After the cabal's raid on the Enlightened City they managed to keep the Arch Primarch alive and free from his keeper for fourteen days before the Zaprophyte broke free from their bonds and killed the prelate. Thereafter the cabal returned to Rederhafen with the intelligence they had gathered. They had several meetings with important people over the next few days.
Since last he was mentioned, Smit has become a Master of Fate. He may well be amongst the best informed as far as the Great War is concerned, he was still taken aback by the ramifications of a conspiracy of the kind exposed by the heroes.
On a direct question, he said that his hope was that the Pius Cabal turned their attention towards the Temple of Man Supreme. His analysis was that the first months of the war on the Temple would go in the favour of the Enlightened League, but that when Ruhani, Aragorn and Narbonne took the field things would get rough.
Octavian (or Tavi, as he is now affectionately called):
Also he was surprised by the news, but the Hermetic's advice was for the cabal to see to the events in the west.
They also spent some time researching the zombie-plague as well as the Zaprophytes. They discovered that the former was the result of an old demon who had been walking the lands of Argos as far back as the Second Age. The latter however, was a new enemy, and they found that the Ordo Ultima Thule was in all likelihood responsible for bringing them into this world.
After this bout of intel-gathering, the dauntless heroes decided to go off-world. For almost as long as the cabal have been sailing, they have been aware of the existence of other worlds, and that these worlds have had an influence on on-world affairs.
Armed with a few texts describing Concordia, van Saar made a vager with the first mate of the good ship Pius: if he could take the ship to this port beyond the Horizon, he would be lauded as a Man Enlightened. Spearhawk took the bet, and even if it cost the cabal Buckets of mana, he managed to navigate both Umbra and the Void and bring the ship to its destination.
The plan was to reach Concordia, have a meeting with Mr Godfree, the well-spoken warmonger in the pin-striped suit who's face no one is able to remember; on previous occasions Mr G have shown a complete lack of scruples, and despite his open and friendly disposition his name is often mentioned in connection with terrible developments. Thereafter they would return to Argos and seek out the elves beyond the western oceans.
Early in the cabal's life of high adventure they met the elven ambassador on the Waymar Islands and were told that, "In the darkest hour, the Elf will buy Man time." This half promise, half prophecy has been uttered by the same elf as early as in the final years of the last century. The cabal meant to finally put the elves on the map.
Concordia (dedicated post is on my to-do list) is the City in the Center of the Multiverse, the Sigil, the City With a Millon Doors, and countless other monikers of a similar vein. It lies, as one might assume, in the middle of Creation, and its doors does in fact lead to every place.
On arrival in the City of the Daeva the heroes took Gary, the pig-snouted henchman-for-hire, on retainer as their guide, and sought out the always hospitable Mr G. In the long meeting that followed, they accused him of crimes against Creation (something he neither denied or confessed to), and threatened him with grievous bodily harm - maybe even death if so were the case (he made sure to treat this with all due respect).
Once the unpleasantries had been dealt with, they asked Mr Godfree to put them in contact with the "emperor, or whatever they call him, of the elves on Argos." Always service-minded, he had the heroes do him a favor before giving them what they asked for. Once they had delivered a deck of cards to someone named Twenty One, he promised to make them able to reach the Elf.
The deck proved to be The Deck of Many Things, and the magicians, remembering the story about the curious cat, managed not to tamper with the cargo. Gary now led them to an alley full of gamblers and games of chance, and in a dark and smoky den of vice and gambling they came before Twenty One.
Hidden behind drapes, the only thing they saw of the addressee was a long, bony arm with claw-like fingers. The voice was thin and screeching as they were asked to play dice with him. After one round, the heroes had won well, and so Twenty One had no choice but to accept the deck.
On leaving they were accosted by a shady, four eyed creature who tried to sell them Milk of the Wyvern. Bansl almost completed the deal, but Percival managed to provoke the seller enough to get knocked down. Not wanting a confrontation here, the heroes withdrew.
Mr Godfree was well pleased when they returned and sent them on their way with a prime-staff outlining the way to the Elf, as well as gifts of Ambrosia and fine cigars.
This is when things took an unexpected turn (see fig. a). I had been expecting the next chapter to take the story to the Waymar Islands and the elves beyond the oceans. That had been flagged well in advance by the cretins.
On returning to Argos, the rouges docked on Cora and went ashore to "find themselves a battle." This turn of events were prompted by the War Box. A long time ago I brought it to our gaming-locale and told them it was available. I also told them that they would have to play themselves into a possition where they could command an army in the field if the War Box were to be opened. That is what happened next.
In the city of Borgen they encountered the always friendly demigod Geminon. The Lord of the Cross-Roads may well be the most pathetic member of the pantheon of Argos; his High Priest is Mandan Bansl, and there is little in the way of worship to be had from that quarter. Geminon may not be much in the way of omnipotency, but he is one well informed devil.
After a little bit of flattery by the cabal of Masters, the deity got on board with the idea of taking the field together with the greatest heroes of the Age. In this first council of war they decided on the barbarian invasion of Kengel as their war of choice. Thus it happened that the players zigged when I expected them to zag. I'm a n00b for being surprised.
Still, the Pius Cabal has reclaimed the initiative again, and there is hope for Argos once more. All is well in the Book of Worlds.
[Picture source: 1 My-pin-up-girl.com; 2 own]