Cast: Aegir of the Enæidùn, Mandan Bansl, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, and Yolander van Zaar. Also, as NPCs: His Majesty, King Radan of Draccia, Lord Ares, Huntsmaster to the King, Princess Sara, sister to the King, and Grand Master Martellus of the Knights of St. Invictus. Also, on board the Pius, Adeptus Ludenius and Commander Spearhawk.
The following takes place between 1 and 7 Novium, YE 1022.
Returning from the moon, the heroes debate the ramifications of their discoveries, sails south towards friendly ports and old enemies; Theurge Tito is reminded of his loyalties, Aegir initiates a romance -- and is presented with an ultimatum -- Bansl reveals his latest masterpiece, and the cabal is given command of an army.
The crisp morning of the first day of the ninth month found the good ship Pius rigged for flight, anchored outside the the ruined city of Glencaellyn. All around them the early winter of Fornost was fastening its grip on the Elfswood. While Captain Galan was indisposed -- great insight takes its toll on the mortal mind -- the rest of the cabal reviewed the information gathered. Among the conclusions made were that the Thulist base on the moon was beyond the reach of the cabal as things stand. In fact, according to certain advanced calculations, without the Commonwealth battlefleet, the heroes would need the entire army of the Wolf Lords of Draccia -- some 20,000 men, at the very least.
The Black Spear was also debated at some length. Van Zaar's theory at this point was that William Blackstaff had gone to Varanger, the dead home-world of the OUT, to retrieve the Knife of Ixion. By van Zaar's calculations, this first weapon made by man had to be the spearhead of the "spear once broken." Thus, the theory further went, Blackstaff now had at least two pieces of the Black Spear in his possession.
While these discussions went on, Commander Spearhawk and Adeptus Ludenius were ordered to weigh anchor, and plot a course for Draccia. Why Draccia, one may wonder. The explanation is that the cabal, after having alternated between strictly defensive and directly offensive strategies thus far, now conducted a lateral manoeuvre. A castling, if you will.
Given the captain's need for quiet contemplation, the Pius took flight, gained height, and on the winds of the Troposphere sailed South-East. The journey took two days, and during this time the heroes got some much needed time to relax on board. By the end of the flight the captain came on deck, looking much the better after his Quietus.
As the Pius cleared the Elfswall Mountains and entered the realm of the Wolf Lords, they became aware that the darkness in the south had drawn closer, now covering the island of Cora. As they sailed south over Draccian lands, the beacons were lit below them, sending word ahead to the king. Shortly after, the spirits of the realm started investigating this strange vessel. Hippogriffs and other, much older entities, flew close by, and after Theurge Tito called out who he was, who he sailed with, and their errand in the realm, the Pius was allowed to sail on unhindered.
In the hours before noon, the good ship Pius passed over the ancient forest of Grimfang. These woods are of a similar type as Fornost, in effect a material manifestation of a Primordial entity. Grimfang surrounds the royal fortress of Caernholt, situated in the foothills of the Dragonspine Range. The cabal put their ship down on a lake above castle Caernholt. Shortly after, a column of Grey Knights, led by the King's Huntsmaster, Lord Ares, came upon the shores, trailing spare horses. After the brusque challenges, as dictated by local custom, had been dealt with, the cabal rode into the royal fortress.
Led by Theurge Velimir Tito, native to this land, they entered the King Radan's throne-room. Here they found the Enæid who they assumed had died on the moon waiting, grey-faced, haggard and drawn, but very much alive -- of all the heroes, only Prince Aegir was unsurprised by this; the Prince of the Enæidùn had called on his birthright, as one descended from Arkon. Also, loitering surreptitiously close to the King, they found Geminon, the Lord of the Crossroads. Along the walls, groups of grim-faced soldiers sat around fires, large hounds slept side by side with great wolves, and nobles rubbed elbows with foreign ambassadors.
After the Pius Cabal had been introduced to the King, they proceeded to ask that the king gave them his army to mount an attack on the OUT base on the moon. The King listened to their story, then pledged 3,000 to the cause. The King could also provide an explanation to the darkness covering Cora; on the night before Harbringer, the Black Ships had driven the fleet of Cora into their harbours, and now the island was cut off from the world -- the siege was about to begin. More was said, but these things make for a slow tale, so we will move on to the ensuing romance.
|Draccian rendition of Princess Sara|
Aegir, Prince of the Enæidùn, came into this age when the Pius Cabal fell through time. His people perished in the battle that last night more than a millennium ago, and he is the last of that royal line. Over the last year, him and his men have been liberally courting women, often as not from the noble houses of Eria, and here in the Court of the Wolf Lords, he decided to look for a bride. His eyes fell on the King's sister, Princess Sara. As the men promised would not be ready for transport until three days had passed, the Prince and the Princess initiated a tryst. This was to become the great intrigue of the court for the duration of the visit -- all closely watched from the shadows by Velimir Tito, so as to avoid any scandalizing of the Princess.
At the end of their stay in Caernholt, Aegir had the opportunity to address the King in private. King Radan offered his sister's hand -- she had already consented -- to the Prince of the Exalted, on one condition, that he swore an oath of allegiance. Aegir, often styling himself King of Man, would not kneel, and was again given a generous offer, that the vassalage would be turned into a friendship when he claimed his crown. Again Aegir held back, and so the lovers parted without an agreement made.
While the romance was played out in corridors, on moon-lit ramparts, and on hunting-trips, Bansl found his muse, and a large rock of the finest Draccian granite. This he had carted down to the castle, and over the next three days the Master of the Arcanum of Matter created a magnificent statue. His vision was of King Rowar and his wolves hunting down a tentacled horror.
The King wanted this present installed in his main port, Tresega, and at the end of the Pius Cabal's Draccian visit the statue was unveiled at King Atellmir's Square in front of a large crowd. Master Bansl surprised all assembled by not only delivering a sermon to his god, Geminon, but also by proclaiming Aegir King of the Gypsies. The gypsies of Argos are of a people called the Rubayan, and Bansl has ever since he encountered them in his early adventuring days held them in a special regard. Now he had given them a king. Whether his majesty will be able to actually claim that crown has not yet been written, but at any rate, the King of Man can now add another title to his name.
After the ceremonies, their new army already aboard their ships, the cabal plotted a course for the beleaguered island in the Straits of Ahriman. Given the exceptionally strong Arcane Connection -- not only had Bansl erected statues in both in Draccia and on Cora, the cabal had also vastly improved the Hallow on the island, but the ley-line between the two points were very strong -- the Pius was able to guide the entire fleet, eleven ships all told, safely past the blockade.
On Cora the heroes sought out the Grand Master of the Knights of St. Invictus. The proposal they brought to the knight was that he could avoid the entire upcoming battle, and take his army to the moon. Grand Master Martellus did not take this generous offer. His sworn duty, and that of every fighter on the island, was to defend the rock to their last drop of blood. The cabal pressed their case, and this resulted in them being taken to the top of Mt. Revelation, where St. Invictus himself saw the light of Creation, and in this was shown his function. He was to assemble an army, fortify the island, and defend it against the coming darkness. On the mountain's top the Saint descended from the heavens in all his terrible glory. The travellers soon realised that the Saint would not be moved, and thus the knights would stay.
Here we leave the Pius Cabal for this time.
Storyteller's note: This may well have been one of the finest chapters for the cabal. The castling showed strategic initiative, and in their dealing with NPCs they showed both vision, initiative, and humility. Not new things per see, but seldom shown with such elan and conviction. Additionally, all characters were in play, and all players took hold of the scenario in creative and productive ways.
As a ST, I must confess I relished in playing out a scene with one or two players, only to find that in the meantime, the rest had hatched a plot I had not been able to listen in on. At times it felt a little like a palace-coup were in the making.
No one died this time, and cookies were handed out all across the board for good roleplaying and clever ideas.
As before, if you were there, and if you feel my telling of the tale is lacking in any way, or if you have details you feel needs including, you know what to do. The rest of you gits are of course, as always, welcome to pipe in as well.
[Picture source: 1 TrekEarth; 2 unknown]