The fourth chapter of The Black Spear.
Cast: Aegir of the Enæidùn, Mandan Bansl, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, Yolander van Zaar, and Toadface. Also, various NPCs.
The following takes place on 29 Octavum, YE 1022.
Following the victorious Battle of the Tower of Man, led by the Pius Cabal, various events takes place as the magicians take stock of the situation; van Zaar and Toadface takes an interest in genealogy, Bansl makes an alchemic breakthrough, two Black Friars delves into the dungeon, and nature reclaims what was taken from it.
The events described herein takes place along a plastic time-line, as Master van Zaar's Time-magics and Master Galan's Space- and Mind-magics allowed the members of the cabal to follow several paths within the same Time/Space. It should also be noted that the Isle of Man was the location of the University of Man before the Elven Scourge last winter. In the Second Age, this was the location of one of the Great Trees of the Elves, and thus one of the Watchtowers of Argos.
Once the smoke cleared it was clear that the enemy had been thoroughly defeated. While all the officers and leaders fought to the death, or else took their own lives, 173 Legionaries and technicians were taken prisoner. These were herded to a location outside the old university walls and there placed under guard by Commonwealth marines and two of the Hermetic wyverns.
In one of the ruins, a room full of apparatuses and engines was discovered. Unfortunately these had been sabotaged by the Thulists before they were defeated. Still, van Zaar, Galan and Bansl, working their arcane arts, managed not only to determine that these were communicational devices, but also to see and hear the messages sent and received over the last day. Bansl was also able to understand the Thaumatechnological principles behind the machines. Over the course of the afternoon he were to reconstruct one of the Deep Frequency tranceivers. This involved making an alloy of gold and Shardakeem. The latter being the Abyssal primordial element used in the Hellghast's ammunition.
While this took place, Toadface cooked up a batch of troll-porridge. By now the men of the Pius had come to trust the ugly brute's medicinal concoctions, and particularly his much vaunted porridge. Also now it saved the lives of dozens of sailors and marines, both from the Pius and the Expeditionary Corps. Once he had seen to the wounded, he went to have a look at the prisoners.
Van Zaar, the leading authority on the nature of the Deep, had long theorized that all the minions of the Ordo Ultima Thule were either Soulless or Undead. Toadface thus approached the captives somewhat wearily, and was puzzled by what he discovered. The Thulists looked a disparaged lot, guarded by monsters and grim-faced marines squinting over the barrels of mitrailleuses, but they were definitely humans. And living ones to boot.
As Toadface examined the prisoners, the other members of the cabal took interest as well. After all, this was the first time they had the opportunity to study the face of true evil. With the aid of Master Galan's Mind magic, they discovered that the Thulists came from what they called constructs, hidden deep in the Void, and that they viewed Argos as their civilization's last chance for survival. Deeply rooted in their psyche Galan found a helpless, all-encompassing fear of the Deep. All this led to the conclusion that the captives were beyond redemption, and thus by extension that they would have to be killed.
During these examinations, one of the prisoners were discovered to have thrown an item of some sort into the river. Toadface boldly went in, swam down, and emerged with a small clay tablet covered in cuneiform script. This was the Lord Wey Fragment of the Atapraxor Tablet.
While all this was happening, Tito and Bansl had made some unsettling discoveries about the OUT operation on the Isle of Man. Bansl also found the boring-head, a nasty-looking contraption made of vile metals and twisted artifacts. First that the metal construction over the old chapel well were intended to be a drilling tower, then that the well itself were now filled with an unnatural, hateful darkness. Tito also had the uncanny feeling of the Abyss being far too close -- he described it as walking on papier mâché.
It was now that Galan became aware that the two Black Friars who had been part of the attack had vanished. After some focussed scrying, the brothers were found to be under ground, in a system of corridors and caves. Trusting them to know what they were doing, he didn't intervene, but decided to keep an eye on them. As the Pius Cabal dealt with things topside, the sword-brothers met resistance below. First they came upon a small group of OUT Legionaries, and duly and efficiently dealt with these. A little later the monks had to face two Hellghasts, and again, armed only with their longswords, they defeated their foes. Now, injured after the last fight, they discovered that the Thulists had set off some sort of nefandic bomb deep below the ruins.
By now the sun was setting, and the various mages of the cabal all sensed that things were about to get out of their control. The order was given to execute the prisoners, and thereafter to get to the ships. As night fell, the forest on the far banks of the river grew angrier and more restless, crystal thorns started to grow from the ground, and rocks began to crack. Not long after the last man had gotten off the island, the entire Isle of Man sank below the cold waters of the Rother. All that was left above the surface was a vicious looking thicket of crystal thorns. Then the water froze, leaving a smooth, slick floor of glass-like ice.
Storyteller's note: Its been close to two weeks since last session, and due to good old laziness I haven't written this chapter until now, therefore I must confess my memory has grown somewhat hazy on the specifics by now. Hence, if you were there, and if you feel important details have been left out, speak now, or forever hold your tongue. Or you could leave a comment below.
See you clowns on Thursday.
[Picture source: Berkshire Walkers]