Kenafiir

06/09/2009: Session 46

Intent on getting back into Shesai before the window to oust Gamiir Fa’Osses closed, the heroes set off across the Savage Path. By using the same rituals they used to endure Giff’s Desolation, they stayed well away from the sheltering rock outcroppings which more often than not would be infested with desert raiders. Still, their’s was not to be an easy journey. A mere day away from the Garden of Life they were hunted down by a detachment of specialists from the 75th Legion. Behram parlayed briefly with one of them, who commanded that he and his men surrender themselves. Behram countered that the 75th was violating Imperial orders. The mounted Quixix countered that Imperial assassins had killed high-ranking clergy in Menadora, which had awakened the dark god Rhamas. Not only had Rhamas laid waste to Nunegar and other northern provinces, but all four of the Emperor’s sons had been killed in the following Iroshai invasion. The southern legions would not allow the sins of the northern territories to taint Kerizatz and draw the gods’ disfavor.

No accord could be reached and the four Quixix attacked. Several lucky hits started the rebels towards a quick defeat, but with guile and resolve they managed to do some damage before the mounted archer retreated and the two fighters surrendered. Rash decisions undid the Legionnaires victory, however. Goreman gave chase to the mounted Quixix before Behram realized that the mage who was thought dead had escaped. Goreman found himself ambushed and penned in by magic and the Kell’Vin mount he had been chasing. When Berham and Dinesh rushed to his aid the two prisoners escaped. In the end, the entire squad of specialists managed to retreat.

Shortly thereafter, the group was approached by a ragged group of traders lead by a human named Kevan. They told a terrible tale of how they had been trading with the Southern Tribes when a misunderstanding had lead to a tribe leader murdering several of them. That leader was even now pursuing them and Kevan asked if the two groups could travel together for protection. Figuring that the Kormin could catch the group before they made it back to the Garden of Life, they instead headed to a rocky outcropping and planned ways to ambush this tribesman if they could not convince him to turn back. With Kevan, his two guards, and six other companions hunkered down in a small cave, the four heroes confronted the massive tribesman as he approached. With some effort, Fishbone managed to convince him that the humans he was pursuing were being helped by a group of Quixix not far away. The Kormin told Fishbone and his people to wait at the cave while he took care of the Quixix. As soon as the tribesman was out of sight, the companions and Kevan’s group made a break for the Garden of Life. Veiled, they approached the rebel legion watchtowers. The legionnaires let Kevan and his people sleep inside the protection of the outpost while Behram and his men slept in the desert, supposedly on their way north.

During the night, the tribe leader caught back up to them, angry and demanding answers. Goreman’s obstinance earned him no less than three broken ribs and Behram ended up not much better. Dinesh wisely claoked himself in invisibility, while Fishbone made a blind escape into the desert. Once Behram managed to calm the Kormin down, Fishbone returned to help negotiate. They discovered that Kevan had lied to them and that the Kormin, Maegor, of the Sands, was hunting them for killing his brother. He had found on one of them a hitlist which the group recognizes as belonging to the Vanguard of Avernus. With Maegor somewhat mollified, the group heads back to the legion outpost where the guards tell them their companions have already left for Shesai.

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06/03/09: Session 45

Wounded and weary, the companions drift in and out of sleep as the airship sails over jungle and dessert. As the morning sun begins to creep over the horizon, the ship dips lower and lower until it is skimming the dessert floor. The sails begin to smoke, but Grael manages to keep the craft aloft just long enough to coast through a hidden entrances into a rocking outcropping. The heroes are greeted by wary eyes in the darkness. Grael and Bitamesh lead Behram and his men to a small cave with some bedrolls and they collapse. When they wake the cave is dark and silent, but the smell of cooking leads them to a large cavern fill with old wooden table, at which are seated a staggering number of thin, dirty children. Behram moves towards the cooking fires and is intercepted by a kemerai boy of perhaps 16, the oldest of the group. He introduces himself as Gevek and makes sure the newcomers aren’t a threat to the other children before giving them some breakfast. Eventually Grael returns and they discuss the situation they’re in. Apparently, when the Fa’Ossess came to Shesai, a gang called the Jackals came with them from Sesiid. The Jackals uncovered Grael’s plot and told the rebel legion about them, leading to the current situation. Grael’s people are captured or scattered and his has little hope of re-establishing himself in Shesai. His plan is, with the orphans’ help, to capture an eclipse dragon and use its wings to repair his ship, the Starshadow. He can then move about freely and will likely begin his work again in another Kerizatz city. That will take upwards of a month though and the group doesn’t have that long. They plan on returning to Shesai and somehow salvaging this mess, although no one is sure of the details.

The conversation is interrupted by one of the orphans, screaming that the legion is here and has captured a little girl. Grael and the heroes run down to the Starshadow’s holding bay and see two men moving away through the desert, carrying the girl. Dinesh becomes invisible and the group gives chase. During the run across the hot desert sands they realize that these two men, while built like legionnaires, are unarmed and unarmed, lacking even shoes. Goreman reaches them first and cuts them off. The younger of the two men is the sergeant Behram’s defeated the night before and he doesn’t believe for a second that Goreman is going to abide by any peaceful promises. The older man, believing that the barbarian has no hesitation to let a hostage die, releases the girl and tells the sergeant to run for it while he holds the powerfully built and heavily armed kormin at bay. That goes as anyone might expect and the rest of the group finds the man bleeding heavily, pinned to the desert sands by Goreman’s spear. A short time later Goreman returns with the other. The entire group quickly retreats from the harsh dessert.

Inside, they formally meet Sergeant Zouka Hamair and Marshal Katarius Forn. The Marshal and Behram discuss the finer points of loyalty to the Empire and loyalty to one’s men. Behram agrees that the Marshal has had to make some hard decisions. As for how the two rebels got here, Zouka was reprimanded for letting the Imperials take Vratas and Katarius was similarly punished for standing up for him. The two were loaded into the Starshadow’s hold for transport to the palace when Grael hijacked the ship.

In the end, Behram released King Felman from the shackles of time and Grael kills the man with the dagger Orsk, hopefully annihilating him. This has the downside that no one but Grael can remember the man, leaving only Fishbone’s notes to remind them who he had been. They then use the shackles to imprison the Marshal. Zouka is unwilling to return with them to Shesai, believing that Gamiir Fa’Ossess will have his family killed if he is seen. Instead, he helps Behram understand the political situation in Shesai. The legionnaires for the most part will follow their sergeants, who will follow their captains, who will follow their marshals, who will follow General Batoun Fa’Atrar. General Fa’Atrar is a personal friend to Gamiir Fa’Osses and cannot be swayed. In order to gain control of the 74th Legion, they will need to kill or otherwise remove General Fa’Atrar, in addition to Gamiir Fa’Osses. They will also likely need a symbol since they are outsides, perhaps one of the daughters(1). And lastly, they will need to be wary of Salar Fa’Galasiim, Abbas’ scheming brother who is said to have betrayed the Imperial plot to Gamiir.

With this knowledge, the four heroes set out across the Savage Path, following Bitamesh’s trail to Shesai.

Note 1) It has been explained that by Kerizatz custom, daughters of the desert princes never leave their palaces. The punishment for a commoner seeing a princess is death. This makes using them as symbols somewhat troublesome. The best bet along those lines is Kherka, the priest of Maithus who would be permitted to see the daughters in the cases of illness or marriage. Importantly, it is best that no one knows that Behram and his men rescued the princesses, since that implies that they saw them.

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5/25/2009: Session 44

Their plan blown, the Imperials hurry to assess the situation and make the most of it. Fishbone disguises himself as a rebel and infiltrates the regrouping legionnaires. Carrying Vratas’ body, the others work their way through back allies to reach the inn where they’re staying to retrieve the corpse of Qi Fa’Galasiim. Dinesh enters their room stealthily and discovers a single, unsettlingly still rebel legionnaire watching the door. When Dinesh picks up the bag, the legionnaire falls forward, dead, and Dinesh is confronted by Bitamesh, who is pleased that Dinesh and his people are alive, but concerned that one of them may be a double agent. Content that it isn’t Dinesh, the two head out together and meet back with the others. In addition to a possible mole, Bitamesh is confused that when he tested the group for Grael, he made notes about a young kemerai wizard named Fahtel, but doesn’t actually recall the man. None of the others remember him either, although recently they have been repeatedly aided by rather confusing magical intervention. Is it possible that Fahtel is an illusionist so mysterious that even his companions cannot remember him? And was he the one who was killed while escaping from Vratas? There’s too little to go on to make any conclusions, so the group heads to the Temple of Gorian to rendezvous with Fishbone. On the way, Bitamesh hides the bodies of Vratas and Qi at a personal safehouse.

Fishbone also has no recollection of Fahtel, but shows the group a dagger he pickpocketed off of Vratas during the fight. He has heard legends about a dagger steeped in evil, that destroys the legacy of those it kills, wiping them from the memories of those they’ve known. It’s possible that if Fahtel was killed by this dagger that they wouldn’t remember him.

A decision has to be made quickly. With Grael captured and his organization scattered, Shesai is no longer safe for the group or for Bitamesh. They can attempt to escape, attempt to go into hiding, or stage a daring rescue of Grael and his the means to enter the palace. Even after a long night of fierce fighting, the group opts to rescue Grael. Bitamesh has Behram, Dinesh, and Goreman climb down a cliff face toward’s a secret cave entrance while he and Fishbone more freely past the base’s Kell’vin guard. What they discovered is that the gang’s large storehouse is indeed overrun with rebel legionnaires and Grael is being held on board a small airship. Bitamesh sneaks off into the darkness while Fishbone impersonates and engineer and gets as close as he can to Grael. The rescue is proceeding as smoothly as could be hoped inside the cave, but the other group isn’t fairing as well.

The decent down the cliff face is fraught with peril and the three heroes are being forced to move at a risky pace. Behram has specialized climbing gear from his days patrolling the Nolohi Cliffs, but Goreman and Dinesh have no such equipment. The rock face isn’t strong enough to hold the powerful Kormin’s weight and he slips off. Behram manages to catch him, but dislocates his arm in the process and is unable to help the second time the wall breaks off under Goreman’s fingers. Flailing blindly in the dark, Goreman manages to catch his spear in the black curtain which hides the cave entrance. With the cliff plummeting hundreds of feet below, Goreman is forced to swing himself inside, where he’s promptly apprehended by Kerizatz warmages. The Legion captain in charge orders his archers to the entrance to shoot down any others who might be scaling the cliff. Goreman calls out a warning and attempts to break free, but the warmages easily pin him in place with a barrage of magic. With the barbarian outmatched and his friends on the wall in mortal danger, Fishbone is forced to make his move. He frees Grael and attempts to drive several legionnaires and a warmage from the ship. Grael is by no means used to armed conflict, but employs his own style of magic to great effect, Blinking inside the warmage and destroying him in a rain of warm water. Still, the two are outmatched and Grael’s only chance is to start the airship and pitch the soldiers off. He succeeds, although damages the ship in doing so.

Meanwhile, Behram lands on the cave floor and is set upon by nearly a full cohort, which pin him to the edge of the cliff. Dinesh tries to support him, but the archers make short work of the wounded Kemerai, leaving him unconscious, pinned to the cave’s curtain by a hail of arrows. The only good news is that Bitamesh has entered the fight, throttling one of Goreman’s opponents, giving the brute a chance to make a run on the second. The cave explodes into chaos and Grael, Fishbone, and Bitamesh attempt to guide the ship to freedom, running down legionnaires in the process. Behram pulls down the curtain to get to Dinesh, but the Legion captain shoves them both out into the abyss. Grael speeds up and plows off the edge of the cliff, grinding both legionnaires and Goreman between the hull and the rough cave floor. Goreman barely manages to grip the underside of the ship as it shoots over the edge and plummets towards Behram and Dinesh. Behram manages to catch the ship with a grappling hook just as Goreman swings around onto the deck and Grael arcs the ship up towards the night sky.

Battered and weary, the group is happy to let Grael take charge as he pilots the damaged ship out of Shesai and into the Begger’s Frontier.

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Session 42-43

As the group wondered the city, taking in the exotic local and culture, they discussed possible ways to pay Grael. The option they kept coming back to was Qi. Although the poor girl was dead, she was still a princess. If Grael could get access to Kherka, the priest of Maithus, and convince him to return her to life, she would be a valuable hostage. Grael would know, however, that even if the Fa’Galasiim family rose back to power, ransoming Qi would earn the Desert Prince’s wrath. As such, the only use for Qi would be to keep her as a hostage, condemning her to a life of imprisonment and isolation. Unable to give the girl such a fate, Dinesh instead snuck her into the Temple of Maithus, believing Kherka to be likely to raise her and hide her until a time when she could leave freely.

The recent run-in with Oniago gave Behram another idea. In Vogat, Oniago had helped the group infiltrate the dungeons and once inside had gone his own way. The group returned to the Red Storm and offered to intentionally create a major distraction inside the Prince’s fortress, allowing Grael’s men to sneak around and steal whatever they want. On the way to the Lake of Tears, however, Dinesh spotted someone pickpocket Behram and ran off in pursuit. Rather than flee, however, the Quixix turned on Dinesh and proceeded to lash out at all four companions, wounding each slightly before being forced to flee. Eventually he was caught and subdued. When they questioned him, he told them his name was Bitamesh and that Grael had sent him to test the northerners. After all, no offer could be so tempting as to make Grael help the losing side of the conflict. Understanding that business is business, they let Grael’s lieutenant go on ahead to report.

Having affirmed that the Imperials were strong enough to take on the rebel legion, the opportunity to pillage royal stores apparently appealed to Grael and he accepted. When the group returned to the Red Storm after midnight, they were met a couple blocks away by some of Grael’s men who promised to show them the secret way into the palace. During the journey, however, Dinesh noticed tattoos on the men’s necks and became suspicious that there weren’t Grael’s men. Dinesh tested them and when it became obvious that they were imposters, they were killed. The last one managed to let out a scream, however. They had managed to avoid an ambush, but not by much. Rebel legionnaires swarmed from alleyways and across rooftops and the heroes were forced to take shelter in a small home. After a minute a magical barrier formed to shield the entrance from the rooftop archers, although thinking back the heroes can’t remember who cast it. They made a dash for freedom, but only managed to improve their position, rather than escape. Dinesh and Fishbone took cover while Behram and Goreman turned to face the masses. Less disciplined that the Legionnaires Behram had commanded, Behram easily repelled them while his massively powerful Kormin ally caught them down in twos and threes. Eventually the hail of arrows began to take a toll, however. Goreman and Dinesh took to the roofs where they scattered the archers, but were grievously injured by a sorcerer. Eventually the sorcerer was killed, releasing Dinesh and Goreman from his terrible curse.

With the rebel legions regrouping, Vratas appeared to confront the heroes and they were forced to flee. The Bladestorm’s pursuit was halted by a slim wizard who Vratas killed with an evil-looking black dagger. Disoriented and distressed that they could not remember the man who had saved them, Behram and his men stole into the darkened allies and quickly founded and abandoned house to rest in.

With Vratas and his men patrolling the streets, their rest was short-lived. Rather than wait to be found, Fishbone cast a glamour, making the four soldiers appear to be a small family with two children. Then, acting as the mother, Fishbone went out into the streets and told Vratas and the raider with him that northerners were in the opposite ally and that they could be ambushed by passing through her home. A master of deception, Fishbone not only convinced Vratas, but also lifted the dagger off of him as he passed. Once Vratas entered the trap, all hell broke loose. The Bladestorm was quickly injured, but recovered in a fury of axe-strokes that transformed the house into a blender. Dinesh looked for openings while Behram and Goreman struggled to contain the desert warlord. Fishbone won his fight against the raider, but not quickly enough and more raiders came running. Finally Vratas was overwhelmed and made a break for it. Goreman caught and dropped him, but the Bladestorm’s men were unusually loyal for bandits and sacrificed themselves trying to retrieve their leader’s body. Rebel reinforcements arrived and did what they could to contain the heroes. Eventually, with all of the raiders in the area dead, Goreman found himself fighting two legion Sergeants while Behram was successfully penned in and grievously wounded. Fishbone and a sergeant whom Behram had previously forced to surrender, calmed Goreman and negotiated a mutual withdrawal, with Vratas’ body captured by Goreman.

Injured, but safe for the moment, the heroes head back to the Red Storm fto find sanctuary with Grael and to have the Bladestorm’s body turned to water so that he can never be raised.

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Session 41: 4/30/2009
The sand mage, as it turns out, was carrying important documents. Unfortunately, Dinesh did somewhat too good of a job and those documents are now largely unreadable due to blood stains. After studying them carefully, however, several key pieces of information are revealed.
  • The Fa’Galasiim family’s plot to marry Gayda to Gaeus Jains has been uncovered by a rival prince, Gariim Fa’Ossess who has somehow quickly taken control of the Fa’Galasiim stronghold of Shesai.
  • Abbas’ Galasiim’s three daughters are to be executed, although it seems the heroes have rescued them.
  • Gariim Fa’Ossess has brought with him a significant detachment from the 53rd Legion.

By Imperial law, no military force larger than a village militia can be maintained within the Kretzera Empire, other than the Legions. The Legions generally rotate duties in a tradition meant to foster loyalty to the empire as a whole. The Desert Princes, however, have managed to keep several Legions effectively permanently stationed in the south, however, and have infused them with dessert culture. When the Empire called on nearly every Legion to defend Held, only the 69th Legion in Kerizatz responded. Now the princes have control of the southern Legions and are using them to affect their rebellion.

The noble who was teleported away was most likely Gariim Fa’Ossess or one of his sons and its’ likely that they would dispatch a force of rebel legionnaires to deal with the interlopers. Litters are made for the two surviving daughters and then the group moves north through the jungle, hoping to avoid any forces arriving from the east. The fashion a shelter from loose rocks and fallen branches to hide in for the day. It’s not especially convincing though, so Dinesh leaves to scout the area and see if they’re being pursued. As it turns out, they are. But it isn’t members of the 53rd. Instead, it’s a large group of desert raiders, much faster moving and likely better at tracking than legionnaires. Their presence this far into the Garden of Life means they must be working with Fa’Ossess, as otherwise their type would be violently repulsed from the Garden. They are moving in small groups, moving quickly, but also obviously wary of the unfamiliar terrain. It’s hard to be sure, but Dinesh thinks the force is about 50 strong.

Wanting to warn the others, Dinesh leaves his vantage point, but on the way back in runs into the back of a five-man group of raiders who take him captive. He tries to convince them that he’s from a nearby village, so they lead him to it. The woman who opens the slat in the palisade obviously doesn’t recognize Dinesh, so he teleports through the palisade and makes a break for it. The raiders force the villagers to let them in and then pursue Dinesh over the next wall. Once back in the jungle, Dinesh uses his Vogati Skirmisher’s Boots to put on a burst of speed and take cover under some roots, letting the raiders pass. Once they’re gone, he makes his way back to the others.

The discussion about what should be done next in suddenly interrupted by the raiders, who apparently managed to follow Dinesh back. Their leader is the infamous Vratas, who is called the Blade Storm by the smallfolk. Backed by a score of raiders, the odds are grim. Strangely, however, Vratas apparently cannot see them. Confused and angry, he and several of his men enter the hideout and destroy it looking for secret boltholes while the heroes do their best to stay out of the way. Giving up, Vratas commands his men to continue their search in the immediate area. Mystified and unwilling to press their luck, the heroes leave their ruined hideout and make haste for the village that Dinesh found. At the gates, Fishbone does an amazing job of convincing the villagers to help them, pointing out the two helpless girls who need healing desperately.

The villagers take their boots and create a false trail to a nearby creek while one of the village’s man, Adan, talks to them. In the end, the group leaves Gayda and Felanna to be tended in the village, while they take Qi’s body in the hopes of finding a priest in Shesai who can return her to life. The villagers, for their part, are not particularly loyal to any prince, but will keep the princesses safe as well as they can. And as far as they know, the only man nearby holy enough to perform the miracle Qi needs is a priest of Maithus named Kherka.

Crossing the O’quoiir River proves less difficult than they had feared. When a ferry from Shesai crosses to pick up a caravan of fruit-sellers, Fishbone veils them as members of Vratas’ band and board the ferry. Once in the walled city, they head through the Beggar’s Shore to the temple of Maithus, but are turned away by legionnaires guarding it. Legionnaires denying access to a temple to anyone, even bandits, is a bit strange, but the heroes don’t want to start any fights yet. They retreat to the slums as the veil wears off. They spend of the rest of the day gathering information. If the rumors can be believed, Abbas’ brother Salar betrayed the family to the other Dessert Princes. Gariim has imprisoned Abbas, executed his daughters, and has sent men to hunt down his only son, though no one can say where he is. The Fa’Galasiim palace is build on massive wooden supports, suspending it over a massive limestone cave teeming with Kell’Vin. Gaining access to it might not be especially hard with Fishbone’s magic, but once inside any attempt at attacking Gariim or freeing Abbas would need to contend with several hundred rebel legionnaires. With few people in the city having any real loyalty to the Fa’Galasiim, the only chance for powerful allies lies in the criminal underworld. Dinesh learns that in order to make contacts in those circles, they should visit the Red Storm.

The Red Storm is an establishment in the Lake of Tears district. It is guarded by street toughs and eyed warily by legionnaires. After an hour of careful observation, it is apparent that a few families have entered the establishment with a large ceramic urn and left missing a family member. This is worrying, but the group decides to purchase such a vessel and investigate. They enter to find the establishment to be somewhat of an opium den, constructed with many pillars and alcoves that make it impossible to see much of it from any one point. They are met by a host who explains to them that Grael the Merciful offers a service whereby for a small offering, he will transmute the body of one who is willing into life-giving water for their loved ones. Apparently, for the desperately poor, this is seen as quite the service for those who have fallen on particularly hard times or those who have lived past their years. The heroes ask to meet Grael, a very polite, older Kemerai dressed in pure white robes. He is quite happy to answer questions and proves that he is no fraud by transmuting a small part of Goreman’s finger into water, an uncomfortable, but painless effect.

After conferring back in the main room, Fishbone goes back to see Grael again and ask him directly about helping in rescuing Abbas. Grael has expected that someone would approach him about this, but is surprised to learn that it is Imperials. He has no problem with helping northerners, but will need some sort of payment. Fishbone’s mention of Imperial coffers after the war does little to sway Grael as he suspects collecting from the Imperials will prove impossible. He can get a group into and possibly out of the palace, but he will need payment up front. The group is left to decide what to do.

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Session 40: 4/22/2009

Behram, Goreman, Fishbone, and Dinesh prepare themeselves for a long journey across the most inhospitable region on Kenafiir, Giff’s Desolation. Stocking up on supplies and ritual components for Fishbone, the men then catch a ride with an Imperial supply convey and ride along the border with the rebelling desert province. Thousands upon thousands of legionnaires are advancing with titanic siege engines in toe. While the titanic force bears down on Kerizatz, our heroes slip around the the west and depart on a mission that may end this rebellion without the need to waste entire legions in the baking sun.

The midday sun chars the salt-flats with 130F temperatures. There’s no water to be found anywhere and the travelers must shield their eyes or risk permanent blindness from the sun reflecting off the white ground. By traveling at night, the group endures and makes good time thanks to a wide variety of magics Fishbone learned while traveling with Dirge. They are attacked by dangerous Kell’vin, but overcome them each time. Halfway through their journey south, they encounter an archeological expedition consisting of kormin and a few quixix. In addition to some small magical items from the Age of Ash, the group is halfway through excavating a powerful golem, which our heroes recognize as the sort the Kairnalla used in urban settings where their larger war golems would be too destructive. The expedition leader explains that the Desert Princes are longer willing to sell water to him due to the rebellion and his only source of water, an hour or so away, has been claimed by a group of Kell’Vin. The group grudgingly makes a short detour to kill the offending creatures and drag back the massive dragon-skull which catches the little rainfall on the flats. The quixix is thrilled and gives them their pick of what has been unearthed. He explains that he would normally never part with such treasures, but they need the water in order to stay long enough to unearth the golem, a far greater achievement. A few hours south, they realize that that quixix, Gwip Sunrider, is on their list of people being hunted by the Vanguard of Avernus. They are in too much of a hurry to head back though.

After another week and a half marching south, they turn west and head for the Garden of Life. At the edge of the forest, they comes across a distressing scene. A nobleman and his guards are executing three young women, having stripped them and tied them to stakes on the salt flats. Unprotected, the women will day in minutes. After a tense exchange of words, Behram’s conscious gets the better of him and he charges in. The nobleman’s sand mage teleports him away just as the two forces clash. These guards are no pushovers and quickly Goreman finds himself struggling to hold off the two most lethal of them while Dinesh takes on the mage and Behram clears out the lesser guards in order to rescue the girls. Behram does manage to uproot the eldest girl (while blinded by the sand mage) and drop her in the shade, but is forced to return to the fight before giving medical attention or helping the other girls. By the time he gets back onto the flats, the two guard captains had just finished dropping the rest of the group. With little strength remaining, Behram fought to Goreman’s side and – blows raining down on his shield – revived the kormin with a combat salve. Enraged by his early defeat, the tribesman impaled one of the two captains while getting to his feet, catching the nearly unscathed man in the chest and ripping through his heart. The second captain didn’t have a chance to defend himself before he joined his fellow on the end of of kormin’s weapon.

Quickly, the two soldiers revived Fishbone and Dinesh and together they worked to get all three girls into the shade of the Garden. Unfortunately, the youngest had succumbed to the cruel sun and was dead. The other two faired little better, but Goreman’s expert knowledge of the regional herbs enabled them to make a slave which would stabalize the survivors, at least for a time. With two mysterious damsels and the threat of the nobleman sending reinforcements, Goreman strides back out onto the flats to see if the guards have anything on them that would help clarify the situation they’ve gotten themselves into.

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Session 39: 4/15/2009

The battle against the cultists ended in victory, but safety for Behram and his people was still far away. They had heard nothing from Dinesh since he Blinked through the wall after Oniago and Sophie and they were now trapped in a small cave with an Iroshai Titan, aggravated from still smoldering burns inflicted by with cultist mages. Fortunately, the old slight that Gavar’s people had inflicted upon Goreman’s still shamed Gavar enough to hold him back, but he would not suffer the presence of humans and wizards any longer. And with that, their Iroshai escort left, probably for the better.

The task of finding Dinesh was significantly more difficult. First, they awoke Joyen and Fishbone was both surprised and relieved to see that he was no longer under the influence of Oniago’s magic. Being knocked unconscious shouldn’t have broken such an enchantment, leading Fishbone to believe that Oniago had either released the Kormin or that the Kemerai himself was dead. With the combined might of Behram, Goreman, and the Horseclub, a cavern wall should have proved no match, but the stone where Dinesh had disappeared conceded not so much as a scratch. Behram had Fishbone look for other entrances topside while he and the Kormin began excavating Oniago’s sanctuary. They had knocked away large sections of wall before Dinesh reappeared, bloody and carrying Behram’s daughter.

Dinesh told them about how he had awoken after losing a duel to Oniago’s poison. Waking up sooner than expected, Dinesh had managed to get the jump on his captor and kill him, but with Oniago’s death the acidic slime in the sanctum had gone berserk and Dinesh had only barely made it out, using one of Oniago’s scrolls to rescue Sophie as well. Behram was keen to send Dinesh back in to make certain of Oniago’s death and to recover whatever notes he could on the Vanguard of Avernus, but after a Blinks, Dinesh became certain that it was too risky. Behram then had Dinesh leave a coded message for the Empire to further investigate this place and then after a good night’s sleep, the group began their trek back to Kulumihi.

With Goreman and Joyen leading the wagon and the rest hiding inside it, they were fairly safe from the rampaging Iroshai. While passing a small forest, however, they heard a great deal of construction going on. Behram sent Dinesh to investigate. Inside the forest, Dinesh found a sizable Iroshai raiding party. They had dug a large crater into the center of the forest and where constructing massive catapults, large enough that only Titans would be able to fire them. The catapults, which were built facing north, were stationary, so their purpose was a mystery. Nothing of importance existed north of the position for many miles. The answer became clear later that day when Dinesh, looking through Gimichi’s Lens, noticed one of the rare Imperial airships headed towards them from the north at a fairly fast clip. Apparently, the Iroshai were setting up an ambush to either board or shoot the ship down, which would be a catastrophic loss to the Empire.

With an attack on the Iroshai amounting to suicide, the group instead moved off some distance and then, as night fell, Fishbone let off an impressive array of pyrotechnics, making it very clear to observers on the airship what was waiting for them in the south. The airship veered East and picked the heroes up before the Iroshai could hunt them down. Grateful for the warning, Captain Severnus Valen gave them a ride back to Kulumihi on the Konos Valar.

Once safely behind Imperial Walls again, Fishbone showed Goreman the wonders of Imperial taverns while Dinesh conducted his own business and Behram reunited Sophie with the rest of the family. Joyen bid his farewells and began his journey back to his duties in Endyreat. The next morning, Behram said goodbye to his family, content that Poke and Sophie were recovering. On his way to re-enlist at the legion barracks, he was intercepted by Caelfas Mindseye, who told him about the mission that Gaeus Jains had planned. Once it was outlined, Behram found his companions and they began planning the next leg of their journey.

In order to retake Kerizatz with a minimum of time and Imperial losses, Gaeus (now the Imperial Heir) has made arrangements to bring the Fa’Galasiim family over to the Imperial side of the war by marrying the desert prince’s daughter, Gayda. Gaeus’ face is known, however, and there’s no way he could make it all the way to the Fa’Galasiim family in their stronghold of Shesai. Therefore, Caelfas has crafted a scroll. When the runic circle is copied onto the ground, it will provide a link and Gaeus will teleport soon thereafter. Obviously, the secrecy of this mission is imperative and under no circumstances must the desert princes get a hold of the scroll.

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Session 38: 4/7/2009

As Behram, Fishbone, and Goreman are making preparations to set off after Joyen Horseclub and Sophie, Dinesh returns from Endyreat, reporting that the cult did in fact kidnap his mother, but that the mob, whom Dinesh had paid to protect his mother in case the Iroshai made it that far, had tracked the cult down and killed most of them. Dinesh’s mother is now safe and sound and with no memory of what her ordeal. With his own family safe, Dinesh is ready to help Behram find the same peace of mind.

Fishbone learns how to seek arcane guidance and soon the group is setting off into the sunset in the general direction of Sophie, hoping that Joyen is alive and with her. After a couple of days of hard riding, they happen across a slaving caravan out of the Folahn Reaches. Normally such slavers are illegal in the Empire, but it seems that this particular group has been given a special license to track down and kill Iroshai on the Omesti Plains as some of them return south following their defeat in the Motheri Heights. After some slick negotiating, Fishbone catches on that these slavers are not allowed to actually take slaves, but that they have illegally captured an Iroshai Titan and are trying to get back to the Reaches to break and then sell the mighty warrior. Fishbone convinces the slaver that it would be far better to sell the Titan to him and his people for cheap now than risk being caught by the Imperials. And so for a mere 500GP the group finds themselves in possession of a wagon and horses containing an 1,000 pounds of murderous Kormin and the gear needed to restrain him. Knowing that the area before them will be full of Iroshai warbands heading south, it’s decided that Goreman will release this Titan and claim that the others are his property. The Iroshai, Gavar, is not pleased to be restraining himself from killing the non-Kormin, but does so and leads the group on their journey west for somewhat illusive reasons. The others hide in the wagon while Gavar leads them past the other Iroshai until finally they discover a small cave entrance guarded by cultists. Whatever sins the cultists have committed, Gavar refuses to fight side by side with the smaller races and so stays back.

Fishbone camouflages the group as cultists and approaches, telling the guard captain that they are from another cell and need to speak to his leader. They’re let into the cave, where they discovered that Joyen is standing apparently comatose while Sophie is being held captive by none other than Oniago. Behram does a poor job of staying in characters, and after a brief exchange of lies of misdirecting questions between Fishbone and Oniago, the Kemerai orders Joyen and the cultists to attack. At the onset of the fight, Dinesh inflicts a terrible wound on Oniago and the others try to bring him down, but he’s two fast. He grabs Sophie and Blinks away, much to the surprise of everyone. Arcane Blinks aren’t supposed to allow Kemerai to carry others with them. With no regard for his own safety, Dinesh Blinks blindly through the wall in pursuit. Back in the cave, a pitched battle ensues in which the three remaining heroes manage to bring down Joyen and kill most of the cultists. Despite early successes, the situation looked unwinnable when reinforcements arrived from outside the cave. Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat when Gavar renounced his earlier vow to not get involved. The Titan and Goreman isolated the cult’s magic users and made short work of them. When the last one’s screams echoed to nothing, the heroes are left wondering if Dinesh has survived and whether they’ll fair any better with Gavar obviously agitated.

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Session 37: 3/31/2009

The cult leader captured and his ritualist fleeing, the group set about tending their wounded and fortifying the area. Uana Dirtlicker was emphatic that an evening march through the swamp would be fatal, so the return to Otooloo would have to wait until the morning. Without a legion engineer, Behram did his best to seal the entrances to the compound and dumped the cultist bodies outside. During the night, horrors from the swamp came to devour the corpses. Several sniffed at the door of the living area, but none managed to get through.

In the morning, after a nice breakfast they woke their captive. Cyrus, in his mercy, decided to call on Maithus to not only save the man, but also to heal his wounds without scarring. Once awake, the man didn’t make himself any friends. Both Fishbone and Goreman tried to ask him questions, but the man ignored them with an aggravating calm, telling Behram that perhaps he would do best to keep his animals at bey. The resulting outrage from the Quixix and Kormin at such unashamed racism did little to fluster the man. Taking a different tack, Behram did his best to learn what he could. This man, while human, was certainly from another plane, sent to Kenafiir against his will by an assassin. The cult’s ritualist is a man named Vait, who is the leader’s bodyguard from his old world and whom the leader feels certain will return to rescue him. The two of them have been here for perhaps a decade and are now working with Giselle (although they know her by another name) in return for passage home when she gets planar gates to open. He was assigned to kill Dirge, but doesn’t really know or care why. About this time, Dinesh notices something large headed through the trees towards them. Behram knocks their captive unconscious and traps him inside the manacle prison. Then the groups heads out for Otooloo as fast as they can.

As they near the city, Dinesh makes out what’s pursuing him. It’s Vait, riding on the shoulder of a golem bearing Kairnalla markings. Such ancient artifacts are rare and a very bad sign for the heroes. They make it to Otooloo however, and Vait seems disinclined to pursue. After much debate about what should be done, Cyrus and Azeriah head north with Selena and Galladin, while the others utilize some of Fishbone’s new tricks to head back south. They are hoping that the cultists have a way to transport themselves across long distances and that they can use Uana’s pathfinding abilities and Dinesh’s guile to reach the cult stronghold again before Vait catches back up to them. As it turns out, both prayers are answered, although they arrive with Vait hot on their heels. After breaking into the cellar, they discover the remains of an ancient armory, packed with the cult’s wealth and treasures. They scoop up what they can and then turn their attention to some alchemical fireworks that Fishbone insists can be used to teleport them. The others are wary, particularly Goreman, but with Vait’s construct battering down the walls and acidic swampwater beginning to pour in, everyone except Uana use the explosive magic to whisk themselves away.

They find themselves in a darkened room smelling of rotting flesh. Use they can get a look around, they discover that they are in the basement of a farmhouse, littered with the murdered bodies of more cultists. The farmhouse has been largely destroyed, but they manage to extricate themselves from the rubble without too much trouble and Behram recognizes the landscape as the hills just south of Kulumihi. Eager to protect his family, Behram leads the group north where they find over 20,000 legionairres preparing to march on Kerizatz. As Behram nears his home, he is met by a young legionairre who has been posted here in case of Behram’s return and explains that a band of assassins attacked his family just under a week ago. Luckily, Joyen Horseclub was visiting at the time and managed to drive them away. Poke was injuried in the attack and is recovering, but Sophia was kidnapped. Joyen pursued and hasn’t been seen since. Search efforts are under way, but there’s been no luck.

The group reports to a Marshal and they choose to temporarily leave active duty to pursue personal matters. They also are told that Gaeus Jains is here with the legions and would be happy to see Sir Gage. They visit the Imperial heir in his command tent. He is happy to see Behram, Dinesh, and Fishbone, and greets Goreman in a passable facsimile of a Kormin tribe greeting. His personal mages are told to assist Dinesh in reaching Endyreat to check on his mother and Gaeus tells them that if these cultists have disappeared then he would appreciate it if they would return here to help him with a mission, after which he would be glad to commit extensive Imperial resources to help them. Dinesh is teleported to Endyreat while the others prepare to track down Joyen and Sophie.

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Session 36: 3/24/2009

While taking a minute to recover from the exertion of battle, the heroes became certain that this abandoned monastery was the the primary base of the cult and was probably being used as a meeting point or ritual location. No doubt, the cult leader and his followers were heading back to a more fortified location. They also discovered a kormin being held captive and heavily drugged in a back room. His markings showed him to be a prominent figure in one of the southern tribes, but no one present knew enough about the kormin tribes to get much beyond that. The kormin guards they had killed bore similar markings, as well as old wounds, leading the heroes to believe that this tribe had been subjugated magically and that this kormin was heavily bound because he was not breaking as easily as the others.

Taking the kormin with them on a pack mule the cultists had left behind, Uana lead them through the treacherous marsh. Farther south, they came upon the cultists’ sanctuary, a single-story stone structure in a particularly wet part of the swamp. With the sun beginning to set, cultists flooded from the entrance to defend their leader. While the cultists themselves were little threat, the heroes found themselves ambushed. A pair of skilled archers layed down a withering barrage from nearby trees and once Azeriah made his way bast a series of traps, he found his battle against the cultists turning against him as a stealthy assailant fading in and out of his vision, striking him to disastrous effect. Dinesh had used his own magic to turn invisible at the start of the fight and was making his way towards the building to investigate, but paused shortly to destroy several of Azeriah’s attackers in a burst of Kairnalla radiance before continuing on. With the heroes advancing and the cultists dead, the archers and their stealthy ally made a final attack, dropping Azeriah, and retreated through the swamp.

Cyrus did his best to get Azeriah back in fighting shape and then stayed back to look after the kormin and Uana, while the others made their way to confront the cult leader. Dinesh’s earlier scouting revealed that inside the main chamber of the building, the leader had summoned a pair of devils and was waiting confidently with some of his cultists. The ambushers had stopped by to confirm the end of their contract with him and departed.

Despite the obvious trap, Behram Gage launched an assault with Dinesh and Azeriah, leaving Cyrus to look after the kormin and Uana. Daggers and flaming javelins flew through the air, but all in vein. Each attacks was easily rebuffed by a magical barrier corresponding to a circle of blood on the floor around the cultists. A cult ritualist stodd at the back with an unfortunate minion who had been made the focus of the barrier ritual and who was suspended somewhere between life and death.

Enragingly self-assured, the cult leader asked Behram what he wanted. When Behram asked about the hit list, the leader just shrugged and said orders were orders. With neither side having much to say to the other, it became a waiting game, a game that the cult leader became frustrated with within seconds. He burst into a tirade against the heroes, who he considers to be nothing more than peasant rabble who have no right to take up his time. In response to a quip from Azeriah, he then berated the gods of Kenafiir, tipping his hand that he was from another plane. He claimed that true gods would have already struck him down for opposing a priest like Azeriah. But being false gods, Maithus and his ilk were incapable of producing miracles or angels.

In response to that, one of the cult minions inside the circle stepped out of an illusion, revealing himself to be none other than Fishbone. Stabbing the cult minion sustaining the barrier in the neck, Fishbone shocked the leader with a pointed rebuttal:

“Gods work in mysterious ways in these parts—and he’s no commoner, you dog! That’s SIR Gage, and you’ll do well to learn that!”

He then launched himself at one of the devils, striking a gruesome blow. The barrier fallen, Behram and his men rushed to join the fray. The battle was hard-fought, with the cult leader proving to be a strong swordsman and his ritualist proving to be as deadly as he was melevolant. At the start of the battle, the ritualist killed the remaining minion and channeled the experience of his death into Behram, severely injuring and stunning him. Sacrificing minions hidden elsewhere in the complex, the ritualist began to devastate the heroes. Fisbone did his best to intercede, but the ritualist also channeled the wounds he would have received into his unfortunate followers, leaving him without a scratch. With the others desperately trying to contain the leader and his devils, Dinesh went in search of the cultists, finding them and managing to kill three of them before the ritualist, seeing Dinesh’s plan, laid him low. Those three minions proved to be what was needed to tip the scale, however. The devils were destroyed and Fishbone used his powerful magic to momentarily take control of the cult leader, forcing him to throw himself into the acidic pools of the swamp.

Azeriah discovered one cultist remaining. His friends having just died in horrible, spontaneous ways all around him, the man was terrified. Azeriah did his best to calm the man down, telling him that he was protected and that nothing bad would happen. At that point, the ritualist made his daring escape, jumping from the window down into the acidic marshes. The legs of the cultists with Azeriah snapped with a sickening sound and then the man began screaming as the acid burns that the ritualist would have been suffering ate away at the minion. By the time Fishbone arrived to investigate the screaming, Azeriah was left holding the somewhat melted, legless remains of the man.

The cult leader was likely suffering a similar fate, but none of the heroes were equipped or skilled enough to rescue their source of information from the burning depths. Fortunately, Cyrus had coaxed the kormin back to health and the man was willing to show off the true power of kormin strength and resilience by diving into the burning waters and retrieving the heavily armored leader from the depths. If Cyrus can keep him alive long enough to answer some questions, this may all have been worth it.

Chanelling the negative effects of jumping three stories into a swamp of acid into a helpful cultist used up the last of the ritualist’s minions. As he ran into the mists, Behram managed to clip him with a Soulfire Javelin. The wound wasn’t more than a scratch, but actually drawing blood from the man obviously provoked his ire.

Fishbone, in response to the cult leader knocking Azeriah unconscious:

“The mob explodes in confusion, and the stalwart Behram Gage remains as a rock! But…. a bystander has fallen! Will our hero make it in time?”

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