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Yarthmont 1, AC 1019
Location: City-State of Hrissopoli, Valley of Lions. DV
Description: Having been briefed of the situation, King Katamvos issues a decree all women and children who wish to leave Hrissopoli must do so by its eastern gate, and head for Ilioloosti along the Silver Road,. They are to be accompanied by retired soldiers deemed unfit to defend the city, who will serve as a rear guard if necessary. The evacuation is to begin immediately. (See Fl. 23, Fl. 27; Ya. 7, Ya. 8.)
What This Means: Katamvos knows how much larger the lizard man army is its soldiers outnumber his own by at least eight to one and that, having been blocked by the destruction of the Claw River bridge, it simply split in two by marching through the mountains to the north, and around the lake to the south. When the two halves of the army rejoin, a brutal siege is sure to begin, and, based on the reports of his general, no mercy is to be expected from these creatures. During such a siege, the presence of non-combatants within Hrissopoli's walls would only hinder the defenders. Katamvos hopes that, by sending so many people away, at least some will make it to safety. Most of Hrissopoli's citizens will heed the king's warning and leave, but some will remain to help defend their homes as best they can.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are mercenaries, the king might offer them the chance to escort the citizens to safety, in which case a long, dangerous trek to Ilioloosti lies ahead of them. PCs motivated by glory might stay and help defend the city, in which case they will have the king's undying gratitude.
No Race This Circle?
Location: City of Baraga, Merry Pirates Seas. HW
Description: For two circles Captains Luciano "Barbarossa" Saviola and Theodor Merryweather have challenged each other to compete in a ship's race around the Merry Pirates Seas. Many captains have flocked to the Golden Skull this circle, eagerly waiting for the competition to continue. Merryweather seems determined to challenge his old rival. Every pirate who enjoys a good sea story (i.e. every one of them) knows that his ship sank in the Sound of Baraga last circle, and it seems to be plausible that Merryweather is seeking revenge. Saviola does not show up, though, to everybody's disappointment. Merryweather entertains the visitors, but he is not as engaging as usual. Later on this evening according to the old ship's chronometer at the wall he declares that he will challenge every pirate willing to compete with him. The captains are stunned, and nobody says a word. (See Fl. 3; Ya. 2, Ya. 27.)
What This Means: The last race was a severe blow for the hin, and he desperately wants to perform a spectacular deed this circle. As the race has become a sort of a tradition, albeit only with Merryweather and Saviola racing, the captains are too surprised to react quickly.
Yarthmont 2, AC 1019
See picture of the Thyatian ship approaching the rebel Gargoñans.
Location: Bosque de los Ojos, Narvaez-occupied region of the Baronía de Gargoña, Savage Baronies. SC
Description: Two vessels one Thyatian, one belonging to the Gargoñan rebels drop anchor not far from the rocky shore near the Bosque de los Ojos, a heavily wooded and sparsely inhabited land. A handful of figures come ashore from each ship, and, in response to a shrill whistle made by one of the men on the shore, a large group of armed men creep silently out of the surrounding vegetation. Some of the men from the ships introduce themselves as representatives of the Thyatian Empire, and offer their expertise in repairing the rebels' vessels, furnishing them with additional weapons, and other minor aid. This offer is accepted. (See Fl. 23, Fl. 24; Ya. 14, Ya. 18.)
What This Means: After several hours of discussion, Paulus Angelinus, the commander of the Thyatian expedition to the Savage Coast, decided to render aid to the Gargoñan rebels, without granting them unconditional support. By cultivating an alliance with the rebels, Thyatis hopes that it could gain some influence over Gargoña should it ever become free of Narvaezan occupation. If the rebels fail, the assistance provided will have been relatively inexpensive, and the Thyatians were careful to ensure that nothing could be traced back to them very easily. A strengthened resistance movement will hinder Narvaez's plans to expand further in the short term. Thyatis is eager to establish a trade network of its own in the region, and, should Narvaez come to dominate the other baronies, imperial plans could be threatened. This is one lesson that they learned during their visit to Hule the hagiarchy does not wish any single barony to become dominant over the others, for fear that such a power could become a threat. This seemed to Paulus to be a logical policy, given the nature of the region, and the presence of such valuable commodities as cinnabar and red steel.
The rebels know that Thyatis has not given them its full support, and they suspect that the empire has interests in Narvaez that it would like protected, but at the same time, the assistance that it will provide will help them immensely, and perhaps allow them to advance from their hideouts scattered throughout the Bosque de los Ojos. For the moment, that is all that matters. The Thyatians will be operating covertly out of the Isla del Cayo over the next few weeks, taking in rebel vessels for repairs and upgrades, and shipping weapons and other supplies to coastal locations near the Bosque de los Ojos selected by the rebels. After the Thyatians depart, the rebels will take over the island as well.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could take part in the discussions with the rebels, or they could spend the next few weeks exploring the Bosque de los Ojos, which contains its share of monsters and other perils (this is one of the reasons why the Narvaezans have not established much of a presence in this part of occupied Gargoña).
Strange Creatures in a Stranger Land.
Location: Isles of Steam, Sea of Steam. DV
Description: While exploring the largest island the expedition has yet discovered, the landing party hears high-pitched barking noises deeper within the jungle. None of them have any idea what could possibly make such noises, but they would not be made by large creatures. Cautiously, the party advances towards the source of the sounds. Suddenly, the noises cease, and the party stands silently, waiting to see if they resume. Seconds later, just as they prepare to advance once more, the party is surprised by the arrival of about 20 small, furry creatures, armed with clubs and other crude weapons, who drop from the surrounding trees.
While the fighters draw into a protective circle, the creatures advance slowly, and then stop. One of their number advances further, and peers intently at the Thyatians, and mutters something to its nearest companion. Seizing the opportunity, one of the Thyatians raises his empty hands in a gesture of peace, quietly telling his companions that they might be able to negotiate their way out of the situation. The gesture startles some of the creatures, causing a few to advance menacingly, but the man holds his ground, and tries to convey the message that he and his companions mean them no harm. Seeing that he does not appear to be getting anywhere, he tosses some salted meat and dried fruits onto the ground, gesturing to them.
One of the creatures approaches the offerings cautiously, sniffs them, and takes the fruit, nibbling at it at first, and then devouring it quickly. It then speaks to its companions in a barking language, and many of the warriors lower their weapons, drawing closer to the humans. At their companion's urging, the other Thyatians give the creatures some of their rations, and these are consumed in short order. Once all the creatures appear to be sated, one of them points to the party, and gestures to them to follow it deeper into the jungle. Curious, and seeing that not following the instructions would probably offend their "hosts," the Thyatians comply. (See Fl. 23, Fl. 27; Ya. 3, Ya. 6.)
What This Means: The Thyatian landing party has encountered a hunting party of phanatons, one of the intelligent races of the Isles of Steam. The portion of the large island that they are exploring, the easternmost region, is a phanaton stronghold, and is ruled by several tribes. The phanatons were hunting kara kara, who live further to the west, and raid the neighbouring territories from time to time. The natives thought that the Thyatians were kara kara at first, based on their size and the amount of noise they were making, and so they lured them into an ambush. Much to their surprise, their potential victims turned out to be creatures unlike any they had ever seen before. Nevertheless, their hostility towards strangers governed their actions, until one of the Thyatians offered them food. Now, the landing party will be taken to the phanatons' village, where the reason for their presence on the island might be determined.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are part of the landing party, DMs should pay close attention to what they do. Any move that could reasonably be seen as being remotely hostile could incite the phanatons to attack. Although the phanatons are not physically strong, and would likely lose the battle, there could be nasty repercussions in the future, if word spreads to other tribes in the area. Conversely, if the PCs have spells that facilitate communication, the phanatons might even become friendly to the Thyatians, instead of being wary towards them.
The Death of Agostino di Malapietra.
Location: City of Glantri, Principalities of Glantri. OW
Description: The newly-confirmed Viscount of Sirecchia, Signor Agostino di Malapietra, commemorates his good fortune with a grand celebration at the Malapietra estate. Having been away from the fashionable nightlife of Glantri City, Visconte Agostino's victory gala is jaunty, chic and swanky to the point of extravagance.
All the glitterati of Glantri is in attendance including Bartolomeo di Malapietra, the scholarly nephew and heir of the new viscount, who makes a very public but nevertheless sober social debut outside the confines of the Great School of Magic. Of course, the Glantrian nobles who helped establish Agostino as viscount are there, but the more serious politicians, like Prinz Harald Haaskinz and Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels, keep their appearances brief.
But at the height of the party, Signor Agostino begins clutching his throat and choking. His body convulses and his face turns purple. He falls on his back, wheezing violently, and when his nephew Bartolomeo comes to his side, Agostino speaks one last word in his dying gasp: "Lucrecia..."
The guests start to leave, and then panic ensues. But over the mayhem is heard the cries, "Long live the new viscount, Signor Bartolomeo di Malapietra!" (See Fl. 22, Fl. 26; Kl. 12.)
What This Means: This is one final twist in the murderous plot of the Malapietras. Scholars, speculators, and rumourmongers will spend years trying to determine how Agostino died that night and who was responsible. The suspects would include Griseo Fulvina, Antonio di Tarento, Bartolomeo di Malapietra, and even the ghost of Lucrecia di Malapietra! There will even be a fantastical theory that directly links the elimination of Innocenti di Malapietra to the enthronement of Bartolomeo, and further states that only Frau Hildegarde von Drachenfels and House Ritterburg would have the power to accomplish the former in order to gain the benefits of the latter. (Frau Hildegarde is the High Mistress of the Secret Craft of Earth Elementalism, in which Bartolomeo is in good standing or at least, better standing that the conniving Lucrecia.)
Within the week Signor Bartolomeo di Malapietra will be confirmed as the Visconte di Sirecchia, with an official allegiance to House Haaskinz and an unofficial alliance with House Ritterburg.
What the PCs Can Do: Agostino's victory party itself is a security nightmare even before his sudden death and the ensuing chaos. The Glantrian constabulary may employ additional men-at-arms for the event, or the Malapietras may hire extra bodyguards privately fitting jobs for PCs in good standing with the law or looking for action.
On the other hand, undercover work and espionage will be called for on the political intrigues around this event, whether before, during, or after the murderous Malapietra affair.
A Bigger Race This Circle!
Location: City of Baraga, Merry Pirates Seas. HW
Description: While the captains are still quietly pondering the surprising challenge, a man enters the Golden Skull. It is the famous Barbarossa, winner of last circle's race. At the very moment he recognises his rival, Captain Merryweather loudly challenges him from afar. Saviola seems to consider the challenge for a few moments, but then he declines politely. Due to the combat he won only by the narrowest of margins against the Milenians, neither his ship nor his crew are fit for such a race. Besides, he remarks wryly, he demonstrated in the last race which of the two captains is the better seaman. Infuriated, Merryweather attacks him, and a nice little tavern brawl begins. After sorting out the dead and wounded, Merryweather repeats his all-out challenge, and this time three captains accept. (See Fl. 3, Ya. 1; Ya. 27, Fy. 3.)
What This Means: The race around the island is now on its way to becoming a tradition. This circle, there are twice as many captains than the last time, although Saviola has decided not to compete.
What the PCs Can Do: Unless they are captains unto themselves, the PCs will be no more than spectators, if they are even allowed to be in the tavern.
Yarthmont 3, AC 1019
Turnabout Is Fair Play.
Location: City of Glantri, Principalities of Glantri. OW
Description: Members of the constabulary are alerted by the screams of late-hour partygoers. Arriving, the constables find a group of pedestrians staring down at a body floating in the waters of a canal near the Nobles' Quarter. Though the discovery of a corpse in the canals is not uncommon, the witnesses state that the dead individual was a werewolf that had jumped at a woman as she walked by.
The lycanthrope's killer was a woman of short stature and slim build. One witness even states that they had initially feared for her safety and would have intervened had that fear played out. Another states that he had won a 50-ducat wager from one of the other witnesses, betting on her victory. Yet another witness mentions that the woman stated, "For Sulescu!" as she delivered the final death blow. Though details are limited on her identity, all agree that the battle was brief, one-sided in her favour, and she fled as she dispatched the creature with weapon and spells. The whole incident is explained as a werewolf that attacked the wrong person, probably an elf.
The corpse is fished from the waters and quickly identified as Lorne Hart, the son of a merchant within the city. Several of the witnesses testify that Lorne had been at the same party they had been. The constables take statements from the witnesses while a few search the area's streets and canal-ways. Satisfied, several constables escort the witnesses to their residences. Lorne Hart's corpse is taken charge of by a servant of the d'Ambreville household pending turning it over to the Hart family. (See Fl. 7, Fl. 15; Ya. 13, Fe. 9.)
What This Means: Typical of Glantri, this incident is rife with deception and half-truths. Lorne Hart was a member of the witnesses' group, all being werewolves. They were out running the streets and canals of Glantri, in human form, after a night of partying. Emboldened by wine and youthful rebellion, Lorne had been goaded into a wager with several of his friends. Their target was a young woman whom they encountered in their walks. As his companions watched from across the canal, Lorne ducked into a side alley, assumed beast form, and attacked her. The woman was no soft mark, instead proving to be a formidable warrior and spellcaster. Lorne fell quickly before the woman, much to the horror of the rest of the lycanthropes. In a panic, several offered a cry of alarm that caused the woman to flee as the constables responded.
The witnesses quickly disassociated themselves from Lorne, knowing that the attack would draw trouble the city's lycanthropic youths have already been chastised about their conduct and threatened with harsh punishments should it continue. Many know that the Canine Protection Society will not be happy once the news of the attack spreads, much less it resulting in the death of a lycanthrope in such a visible manner.
The slaying is now a matter for the Canine Protection Society, the advocates stress. The slaying will be investigated by the lycanthropic organisation and they will supervise any retribution. The identity of the slayer will have to be discovered, the political alliances will have to be determined, and the possible ramifications will have to be discussed before any action is taken. For the time being, the society will forbid any unauthorised action to be taken on the matter by any of its members. To many, it becomes apparent that the death was a case of Hart attacking the wrong person, as was bound to happen eventually.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could be called upon to investigate the matter. Given the intrigue often seen in Glantri, their employer could be the constabulary, and the work could be either official or unofficial. The Canine Protection Society could also hire them to investigate, using a prominent member to cover their influence. Or, PCs infected with lycanthropy could be sent to investigate the attack.
Xaver Buzzes to Work.
Location: Canal Construction Site, North of Town of Tirenlos, Kingdom of Foresthome, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW
Description: Xaver arrives to replace Wilhelm during the latter's maintenance period, and Daker comes with good news about Annabelle: He and his sister believe that Annabelle will be fully operational soon, though he does not disclose the reason for her breakdown. (See Fl. 10, Fl. 17; Fe. 2; Fe. 27.)
What This Means: A magician never reveals his secrets especially if it might hurt his business. Wilhelm will be back at work by the end of Yarthmont, and Annabelle will return by the beginning of Klarmont.
What the PCs Can Do: Opponents of the canal project might hire the PCs to uncover the truth behind Annabelle's breakdown, in the hopes of obtaining some damaging information. Likewise, the PCs might be responsible for identifying and exposing potential spies within the project's workforce, who might be trying to harm its credibility.
The Sky Village.
Location: Unknown phanaton village, Isles of Steam, Sea of Steam. DV
Description: The landing party of the Thyatian expedition is brought to a phanaton village, located high above ground in a great banyan tree. They are guided along narrow walkways towards a great platform, nestled in the midst of the village. There, they are presented to a group of wizened-looking phanatons, who, after one of them delivers a long address in its own language, describe through gestures and drawings on dried skins fierce creatures who attack and kill the phanatons of this village. The elders then sit on their haunches, and look at the foreigners expectantly. One of the Thyatians, thinking they are describing kara kara, tries to explain, through gestures and simple words, that he and his companions have killed such creatures in the past, showing a handful of spearheads that he had collected from fallen kara kara warriors as trophies.
One of the elders takes a spearhead and examines it closely. It then confers quickly with its fellows, and then, holding a dried spider, describes what appears to be a conflict of some sort, ending with a pantomime of killing the spider, then draws what appears to be a mountain or hill. On this drawing, he piles many small bones, speaking all the while in a grave voice, and, pointing to the various phanaton warriors around them, makes several killing motions. The elder gestures to the hill on bones he has created, points to the northwest, and then, pointing to the sun overhead, makes a rising and falling gesture three times.
The Thyatians confer amongst themselves, and one of them gestures thanks to the elders, offering them a gold necklace. One of the phanaton warriors presents a leather sack, and with a word from one of the elders, the Thyatians are escorted back the way they came. (See Fl. 27, Ya. 2; Ya. 6, Ya. 7.)
What This Means: The hunting party escorted the humans, who demonstrated no ill intentions towards the phanatons, to their village, where their tribal elders could examine them in more detail, and question them. Unfortunately for both parties, their languages were too dissimilar to foster any sort of communication over a short period of time, but basic ideas were conveyed. The elders told the Thyatians about the troubles they have been facing at the hands of the kara kara, and, once they had understood that their strange guests had fought the same creatures and therefore could not be enemies, by their logic they decided to share some of what they knew about the island. They told the Thyatians a little bit about their history, first as slaves of the araneas, and then as independent tribes after they won their freedom. They also mentioned a mountain, about three days away by foot that no one has ever visited, and returned. The phanatons call it "the mountain of dead stones," but one of the elders used bones to illustrate his point, and thus the Thyatians will understand it as the Mountain of Bones.
Unfortunately, the Thyatians only understood a fraction of what the elders tried to convey. They did understand that the kara kara have been a source of trouble to the phanatons, and that there is a dangerous mountain three days' journey away. Despite the lack of comprehension on both sides, the parting was amiable, and the elders provided the Thyatians with charms that, they hoped, would protect them on their journey ahead.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs can participate in this encounter. If they possess spells that foster communication, or if they speak the phanaton tongue, they can be of great assistance here.
Yarthmont 4, AC 1019
An Investigation of the Peril.
Location: Castra Alexandras, Territory of Thratia, Hinterlands, Thyatian Empire. DV
Description: The merchant caravan that discovered the grim fate of the village of Eburacum reached Castra Alexandras late last night, and demanded to meet with the garrison commander to share their news. That meeting lasted for several hours, and now, after having dispatched a message to Raven Scarp, the commander has ordered roughly one third of his troops to fan out to the north, to determine whether the mysterious plague has struck other communities. (See Fl. 14; Ya. 22, Fe. 11.)
What This Means: Torionensis and Thratia, being the most unsettled of the Thyatian territories in the Hinterlands, depend on the existing network of fortresses for protection as well as news and a place to trade. The army proved its effectiveness as a means of keeping the various colonial settlements connected to the rest of the empire during the failed Hinterlander invasion of AC 1017, and it will serve this purpose now.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs stationed at Castra Alexandras, or serving as mercenaries, could find themselves comprising one of the survey teams being sent out. The DM will have plenty of opportunities to throw wilderness encounters at them.
The Horde Reaches Nagpuri.
Location: Mumlyket of Nagpuri, Kingdom of Sind. OW
Description: High above the ground, observing safely from flying carpets, Rajah Salmahlin Kalkiin and his trusted advisers study the thousands of clay-like caterpillars crawling and creeping into their borders from the Kurish Massif to the north.
Following their brethren in Gunjab, the rishiyas maintain that these are sacred creatures sent by the Immortals and should not be harmed, despite the fact they already wreaked havoc on the lands of Gunjab. Instead, the priests propose that sacrifices and holy rituals must be made in honour of the Immortals, particularly the Earth Mother, known alternately as Prithivi, Jaivana, and Kala.
However, the wizards and scholars of Nagpuri determine that the caterpillars are simply elemental creatures from the Plane of Earth, and back in the city of Mahasabad, the followers of Gareth (most of whom have just arrived from Raneshwar) are spreading their doctrine that mortals should not easily submit to the whims and schemes of the Immortals. (See Fl. 21, Fl. 28; Ya. 8, Ya. 11.)
What This Means: Nagpuri is a realm of fertile agricultural lands and a dominant jadugerya (magic-user) caste, rather than the himayas (warriors) or rishiyas (clerics) of other mumlykets. Thus, the magic-users of Nagpuri have no qualms in disputing the dubious proclamations about the horde, just as the followers of Gareth have become emboldened to oppose the rishiyas.
What the PCs Can Do: The Rajah of Nagpuri will be calling for magic-users of the jadugerya caste, as well as foreign wizards, to aid in this magical threat. But PCs from other classes will also be useful as support in this mission, as guards and scouts for the wizards, or spies and negotiators with the rishiyas.
Yarthmont 5, AC 1019
Celebrations in Cinsa-Men-Noo.
Location: Emirate of Nithia, Emirates of Ylaruam. OW
Description: Mahmud-ibn-Rachid celebrates his second year as Emir of Nithia. In the celebrations, he announces the instalment of a long-time family friend, Mujibur al-Jaboor, as the new Caliph of the Blessed Truth. (See Th. 20, Fl. 25; Kl. 12, Fe. 28.)
What This Means: The sultan was not the only one fully impressed with Mujibur's tales, and Mahmud-ibn-Rachid knows very well what Mujibur and Torcreft are up to, and his new emirate would be the better benefactor of these ambitions. Not wanting to bow down to Mujibur's leadership, he keeps him close to his side. Mahmud-ibn-Rachid also promises to build a duplicate canal and aqueduct system for the sultan from the Hardanger Ranges to Abbashan a feat fully funded by Mujibur, as he hands over his taxes from the last twenty years to the emir. Mujibur is more than happy to lead the Blessed Truth, as he wants the desert to hear the will of truthful Immortals and not ravenous balors.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs can now petition directly to Mujibur for membership in the Blessed Ones in an attempt to be his new scion. Foreign PCs can also now get involved as Torcreft starts mustering a large work force to begin building canals, cisterns, locks, and aqueducts to feed the dry sands with precious water. The sultan may ask the PCs to spy on Torcreft to build a duplicate canal for Abbashan.
Squatters in Bear Clan Lands.
Location: Bear Clan Lands, Atruaghin Territories. OW
Description: Just a month after gold was discovered in Bear Clan lands, hundreds of hopeful but uninvited gold-diggers now live in the area, combing the hills between Falcon and Rattlesnake and discovering more and more gold deposits every day. Already there are clashes between the miners and Bear Clan warriors, because the squatters are encroaching on Atruaghin hunting and farming grounds. (See Fl. 2; Ya. 22, Kl. 17.)
What This Means: Gold is a compelling call for humans, particularly for Darokinians. Increasing numbers of miners will rush in over the following months if the Darokinian government does not stop them. And there is no telling what will happen to the Atruaghin Plateau once word reaches Rockhome.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could be diplomats for the Bear Clan and travel to Akesoli or Darokin City to ask Darokinian authorities to stop the squatters' invasion. Or they could be DDC envoys to the Bear Clan, and try to obtain the rights to mine the land in exchange for a supply of food. Otherwise, they could be miners or Bear Clan warriors busy fighting each other.
Some Want Another Elven Civil War.
Location: Canolbarth Forest, Colony of Aengmor, Shadow Elves' Territories. OW
Description: Throughout the Canolbarth Forest fights and quarrels erupt among the shadow elves and the growing population of fair elves, particularly near Rafielton and Selinar. Most of these fights are provoked by followers of Atzanteotl, who long for another elven civil war. Luckily the Aengmorian army, firmly under Princess Tanadaleyo's control, quickly quells all the fights without killing anyone, and the evil elven Immortal's plot fails. (See Th. 7, Fl. 12; Kl. 11, Fe. 2.)
What This Means: Atzanteotl is losing power among the elves, and a civil war would be a great boon for Him. Unfortunately for Him, Rafiel and Ilsundal keep close watch and, with the help of Princess Tanadaleyo and King Doriath, some adventurers discover the plot and destroy it. Not only does Atzanteotl fail, but His hand is exposed in all the elven problems. His stronghold in the underground city of Aengmor remains untouched, however. Now that other Immortals, like Atruaghin and Danel in Atruaghin lands, are acting against Atzanteotl, even Ilsundal and Rafiel want to smite Their new common enemy.
What the PCs Can Do: Obviously the PCs could be the adventurers who expose the evil plan of the Church of Atzanteotl.
Location: City of Ionace, Island of Ionace, Nayce. AS
Description: Adventurers arrive from the depths of the monster caverns and warn about an invading army of undead dwarves. The authorities consider how to respond, since they have heard similar stories before. A short time after, however, a large number of the described dwarven undead arrive on the surface along with a number of similar human skeletons. The sheer number of undead push the defenders back, as the priests in the area seem unable to turn the undead. (See Th. 7; Fy. 19, Sv. 4.)
What This Means: These monsters are dusanu and so are not undead, though the defenders are excused for thinking so, since they indeed look like decaying remains of dwarves and humans. The human dusanu are the remains of adventurers killed by the dusanu in the caverns below. Naturally, other humanoids may also be among the rot fiends, such as elves, hin, or orcs. The defenders are pushed back to the city of Ionace itself, where the stronger magics of the aristocrats and the city's wards are able to hold them off. This does not halt the invasion, however, which will continue to sweep the surrounding island and encircle the city of Ionace over the following weeks.
What the PCs Can Do: There are plenty of "undead" to fight here. Clever PCs should be able to note that these "undead" are actually not undead at all, though discovering that they are spores infecting and animating their victims might be rather more difficult. Obviously the dusanu are not unknown to sages in Nayce, but it's not a generally well-known monster. Even so, there are plenty to fight, since there are still dusanu emerging from below. The PCs better beware, though, or they might become infected themselves.
Yarthmont 6, AC 1019
New Ochalean Colony.
Location: Sea of Dread, Exarchate of Ochalea, Thyatian Empire. SD
Description: An Ochalean trade combine sets up a colony on a previously uncharted island between the Thanegioth Archipelago and Ochalea proper. (See Va. 7, Va. 12.)
What This Means: In another demonstration of the changes that are propelling Ochalea toward a more outward-looking posture, the nation colonises a new island for the first time since it reached the natural boundaries of its large island and the small island chains off of it.
What the PCs Can Do: Ochalean PCs who want to boldly go where no Ochalean has gone before may apply.
A Great Revelation.
Location: Isles of Steam, Sea of Steam. DV
Description: The landing party returns to the rest of the expedition, seemingly no worse for wear, and bearing a large sack. Julius Ambrosius is happy to see that the party returned safely, and asks them what they have discovered. The party members describe their encounter with the phanatons, and relate the information given to them by the tribal elders. Julius is intrigued by the notion of a "Mountain of Bones." The party members then present the contents of the sack, which consist of carvings and other items made by the phanatons, explaining that they were given as gifts, possibly to provide luck and protection on the journey ahead. Julius thanks the party members for their hard work, and makes arrangements for them to receive healing if they need it. Once this is done, he orders the crew to set a course that will bring the vessel close to the mysterious mountain of bones. (See Ya. 2, Ya. 3; Ya. 7, Ya. 8.)
What This Means: Julius and the other expedition members on the ship were beginning to fear that something had happened to the landing party, which was expected back the previous evening. The tales they told interested Julius greatly, but none so much as the mention of the Mountain of Bones, as though something was compelling or urging him to investigate it, promising him that this, perhaps, is where he will find the answers hinted at by the elves of Everfeed.
What the PCs Can Do: If they were part of the landing party, the PCs will probably end up delivering their own report of what happened. This is a good opportunity for roleplaying.
Yarthmont 7, AC 1019
Frau Hildegarde Visits an Old Friend.
Location: Marquisate of Berrym, Principalities of Glantri. OW
Description: The idyllic and otherwise uneventful countryside around Berrym is shocked to witness as strange a sight: a large, heavily-armed retinue of Aalbanese soldiers, escorting a massive and stately carriage made of what seems to be solid granite. What onlookers cannot take their eyes off from (and at the same time fearfully avert their eyes from) is a team of twelve massive basilisks, reined in and in full regalia, drawing the impossibly heavy stone carriage.
News quickly spread that the Grand Dame of Aalban, Frau Hildegarde von Drachenfels, mother to Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels, has come to surprise an old friend, Lady Mariana Terlagand, the reclusive Marchioness of Berrym. However, the Drachenfels matriarch is surprised when the marchioness's seneschal has the audacity to turn her away, pleading that the marchioness is suffering from a very contagious strain of Alphatian pox!
Despite her Glantrian fear of diseases and her Aalbanese fear of all things Alphatian, Frau Hildegarde stubbornly insists on meeting her friend, if only through some magical intermediary or scrying device. After over an hour of impromptu preparations, one of Frau Hildegarde's living crystal statues holding a crystal ball is sent into the Lady Mariana's private chambers, and the matriarch has her first glimpse of the marchioness, though the latter is obscured by shadow and pink mists allegedly of medicinal properties.
But after the tête-à-tête, the Aalbanese matron is heard muttering in disgust about "that despicable Alphatian menace called zzonga." (See Va. 27, Fl. 18; Ya. 12.)
What This Means: The great Drachenfels matriarch has never travelled for social reasons, especially outside of Aalban and Glantri City, and this visit is no different.
For years, rumours have persisted that the Marchioness of Berrym has died and been replaced by an impostor, but there has been no conclusive proof or serious danger of exposure until now. With Count Pieter Verlien's personal crusade to expose fraudulence among the nobility, Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels decided to ascertain the truth behind the rumours, lest he and House Ritterburg be embroiled in political scandal. His mother, Frau Hildegarde, one of the few surviving Aalbanese aristocrats who knew Lady Mariana personally, was the best agent for the task.
However, the impostor posing as the marchioness, Narda Shelyn (assistant to the Guildmaster of Spokesmen, MeisterRannigar Budulug), has been playing the role for nearly forty years, and cleverly eluded the confrontation. She also provided the impression that the Lady Mariana is a recluse because of a zzonga addiction (and merely pretending to be ill with some rare disease), a deplorable but completely plausible explanation.
Narda Shelyn, however, does realise the end of the charade is coming very, very soon...
Fl. 13, Fl. 15; Ya. 16, Ya. 20.)
What This Means: Heinrich Straßenburger, knowing full well how draining the ongoing civil war will be on Heldann's resources, decided to muster a large portion of his armies in the east, and throw them against Kammin in the hopes of taking the town. If he had been able to do so, Anna's faction would have lost a great deal of its power, and their remaining holdings in Heldann would probably have surrendered, or fallen, in due time.
Unfortunately for Heinrich, Anna's scouts were aware of the troop build-up, and their march eastwards, and she was able to draw upon the military aid promised by Thyatis in exchange for the Heldannic withdrawal from Oceansend. Emperor Eusebius Torion made one of the thematic exercitii available to Anna for the duration of her campaign. The unit comprises 2,000 soldiers, and it operates in cooperation with Anna's ordensgeneralen. Although Anna's forces lost about 600 men, Straßenburger's side came out even worse, with over 800 men dead, and another couple hundred taken prisoner.
Straßenburger will be furious once he learns of the battle's outcome, but will think twice before sending another force of that size into the Ostbergen, or anywhere near Kammin.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs can take part in the battle, on either side. For Thyatian PCs, this event presents an opportunity for them to begin a campaign in Heldann.
Hrissopoli in Shadow.
Location: City-State of Hrissopoli, Valley of Lions. DV
Description: Barely two days after the evacuation is completed, the lizard man hordes become visible to the north and south of the city. Soldiers stationed along the walls wait tensely as the black host swells on the horizon, and approaches Hrissopoli's walls so closely that individual lizard men can be discerned. Within two hours, the army stands assembled outside the city walls, just outside of bow range, making no noise. Moments pass, as the human and rakasta soldiers along the battlements eye their enemies warily, bracing themselves for the expected assault, but nothing happens.
Suddenly, a tall, pale-skinned lizard man, wearing a worn black robe, approaches Hrissopoli's main gate on foot, and proclaims himself the Voice of the Great Army of Urr'Ath, "appointed by the True Lordsss to treat with the unbelieversss." The Voice makes a simple offer in his loud, rasping voice if the city surrenders to the Great Army, and dedicates itself to the glory of the True Lords, its strong soldiers will be spared, and may be allowed to fight for the old empire that arises once more. The city's ruler, his family, and retainers will be sacrificed to the True Lords, as will those who refuse to repent their old ways.
Standing on the battlements, King Katamvos spits in the Voice's direction, and shouts that Hrissopoli will never surrender so long as any of its warriors draw breath. "Tell your False Lords that they will have no welcome here, and every inch you advance will be paid in blood," he says.
Before returning to his army, the Voice tells Katamvos to enjoy his last breaths, for he will not be able to do so on the morrow. (See Fl. 27, Ya. 1; Ya. 8, Ya. 11.)
What This Means: Although small, Hrissopoli's army has managed to kill at least three enemies for every man it has lost, on average. This has not gone unnoticed by the Voice, who hoped to use such soldiers to augment his force's strength. Whether or not such an offer of mercy would have been honoured, had the city surrendered, is another question entirely. The battle will commence tomorrow in earnest.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs remained in Hrissopoli after the evacuation, they may be ordered by the king to find a way to infiltrate the enemy, and learn what lies in store for the city. Such a mission would be extremely dangerous, it goes without saying, but with the combination of the right skills and spells, the PCs might be able to obtain valuable information.
The Mountain of Bones.
Location: Isles of Steam, Sea of Steam. DV
Description: The expedition, after sailing northwest for a day, comes within sight of a lone mountain, partially jutting out from the coast. Looking up, heavily weathered, tumbled walls can be seen. Convinced that he has arrived at the so-called Mountain of Bones, Julius Ambrosius leads a landing party ashore, where they make their way up the mountainside.
After a fairly easy climb, the Thyatians find themselves in the midst of ancient ruins far older than anything they have yet seen, according to a scholar; they are even older than some mysterious ruins found in Tel Akbir and the Hinterlands. A cursory search reveals nothing of interest, except for several skeletons of small primates that are comparatively recent, which one party member identifies as resembling the phanatons he had met recently. After spending a few hours mapping out the ruins, a more detailed search commences, during which one person finds a half-buried doorway hidden behind a partially collapsed wall. Seeing this as a golden opportunity, Julius leads the party through the doorway. (See Ya. 3, Ya. 6; Ya. 8, Kl. 1.)
What This Means: Julius and his companions have indeed found the fabled Mountain of Bones, which also happens to be the final resting place of numerous phanaton warriors. At the summit of the mountain are the crumbling ruins of a keep, built thousands of years ago by the largely forgotten Lhomarrians. The Thyatian party may soon learn why this mountain is so feared.
What the PCs Can Do: This is an excellent opportunity for adventurers to prove their mettle. What secrets lie hidden within the strange ruins? Trust the intrepid PCs to find out... provided they survive, of course.
Yarthmont 8, AC 1019
The Academy Tower Will Be Built.
Location: City of Darokin, Republic of Darokin. OW
Description: As deliberated at last year's Gathering, the Mages' Guild of Darokin meets today. During the proceedings the wizards finally agree to build a great tower in Darokin City as an academy and a school for all the magic-users of Darokin. They agree that the academy should be completed by the end of the year, and that its courses should commence as soon as possible thereafter. Bastian Rodens, who had the idea in the first place, is nominated guild master and head of the new school. (See Kl. 13, Am. 3.)
What This Means: Darokin is trying to rise up to the challenge of the Karameikan School of Magecraft, and the Glantrian Great School of Magic, by building its own school. Only time will tell if the academy will be a success. For now, it is a good sign that many powerful Darokinian wizards have agreed to participate in the building of the tower.
What the PCs Can Do: Again this year, Bastian Rodens could hire PCs to seek Darokinian wizards who haven't yet joined the guild and persuade them of the worthiness of his idea. Last year's adventurers were able to track down many wizards and persuade them to join in the endeavour, after all.
The Lion and the Snake.
Location: City-State of Hrissopoli, Valley of Lions. DV
Description: In the gloom of pre-dawn, thunderous horns sound throughout the lizard man army, followed by a great surge towards Hrissopoli's walls. The defenders are at first surprised, and then relieved, to see no siege ladders or similar tools, but then relief turns to dismay as many lizard men simply climb up the walls! Archers placed along the battlements rain death on their enemies, but for every lizard man sent falling to his death, it seems that two more take his place. The defenders' morale is raised by the presence of King Katamvos, who, with his great ironwood longbow, deals more than his share of death from his place on the walls.
Suddenly, a wail of panic erupts from the front gate! Katamvos rushes to meet his soldiers there, only to see the formidable gates themselves thick wood banded with huge iron bars disintegrate and melt. As the acrid smoke clears, lizard men charge into the breach and engage the defenders. Katamvos leads a counterattack, which manages to keep the enemy from entering the city. The din of battle is interrupted by the sound of falling rain, and loud sizzling noises, followed by screaming. All around the gate, men and rakasta are being burned by a falling rain of acid! Many are overcome by agony and their injuries, while others frantically break ranks to seek shelter. The lizard men are affected as well, and many of those exposed to the lethal rain succumb to it.
Katamvos, leading a squad of soldiers who did not break, leads them to the shelter of the gate, and manages to hold off a renewed lizard man assault for a time, but one by one his men are cut down, until he alone defends the gate. He manages to slay many more lizard men, before finding himself face-to-face with the Voice, who raises a hand, utters a guttural command, and shoots a stream of acid at the king, which almost disintegrates him. (See Ya. 1, Ya. 7; Ya. 11, Fe. 13.)
What This Means: King Katamvos led a spirited defence of the city, but even his exceptional valour was not enough to overcome forgotten magics from a dark era of Mystara's past. With the king fallen, and many of his soldiers dead, demoralised, or heavily wounded, Hrissopoli will fall within hours. Those civilians who did not flee will be enslaved if they are deemed able-bodied, or sacrificed if they are not. Some soldiers will manage to escape the city while the lizard men are busy looting and slaughtering, and try to harry their enemy as long as they occupy the valley.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs can help protect King Katamvos if they are with him during the battle, and depending on their strength, they might be able to prevent his death at the gate. They may even be able to kill the Voice (a carnifex mage), although this would be a tough fight, given his power, and the sheer number of enemy warriors present. If the Voice is killed, the army will still fight on, as there are other leaders among them committed to their dark cause, although they are unlikely to be as powerful. If King Katamvos still lives at the end of this battle, he and the PCs could lead the surviving soldiers in a fighting withdrawal from the city, and from there try to seek help elsewhere. Alternatively, they could try to lead another counterattack a risky proposition, but one that could do serious damage to the lizard men, as they do not know the city. In any case, the PCs will not be able to prevent the city from falling; though they could mount a campaign in the valley to keep their enemies occupied until help arrives.
Out of Tragedy Comes a New Purpose.
Location: Isles of Steam, Sea of Steam. DV
Description: During the mid-morning after Julius Ambrosius led his party up the Mountain of Bones, sentries posted on the ship note the return of their companions only six of the eleven who ventured ashore have returned, and one of them is carried by two others. After the survivors return to the ship, they tell everyone else what happened, and many crewmembers mourn the passing of their companions. Julius orders the crew to plot a southward course. (See Ya. 6, Ya. 7; Kl. 1, Kl. 3.)
What This Means: The landing party discovered the entrance to an underground complex amidst the ruins, and they found many interesting things in those forgotten chambers and dusty passages. They also learned that the ruins were inhabited by intelligent giant spiders araneas who tried to eliminate the intruders. Julius and the other survivors managed to fight their way out, but not before finding a few treasures, including a strange golden star, which Julius is keeping close to his person. This star has several mysterious properties, which will make themselves apparent over time, but in the meantime, it is drawing him south. Julius also saw, and copied, an ancient map, which offered tantalising clues of what might lie to the south, as well.
The other crewmembers will notice a definite change in Julius over the next few days. Every so often, he will stare blindly at his golden star, and be oblivious to the world around him. He will also appear to be more driven in many ways, as though he was highly impatient to reach some location south of the Isles of Steam, whereas beforehand he was in no particular hurry to go anywhere. Interspersed with these periods he will seemingly revert to his old self. What has happened is that Julius has become entranced by the star, and has become subject to spontaneous visions of strange lands. At the same time, the star is urging him to go south as quickly as possible.
What the PCs Can Do: If they were part of the party, some of the PCs could very well have died. The araneas living in those forgotten passages have discovered a great deal of lore left behind by the original builders of the ruined keep, and thus their spellcasting abilities are far greater than would be the case for regular araneas. Due to their many years of isolation, and the nature of some of the magics they have studied, the araneas have become increasingly insane over time; PCs will not be able to reason with them.
If the DM wishes, one of the PCs can take the place of Julius, in which case that character will fall under the spell of the golden star. In this case, treat the item as a highly intelligent, powerful magical sword for the purposes of contests of will or an Ego score of 34 in OD&D terms.
Jadugeryas Dispel the Horde.
Location: Mumlyket of Nagpuri, Kingdom of Sind. OW
Description: Amidst the preparations in the city of Mahasabad for an army of warriors and wizards to face the plague of elemental caterpillars, news reaches Rajah Salmahlin Kalkiin that the horde has already reached and eroded the peasant farmlands in the outskirts of Nagpuri. Hastily, the rajah organizes what forces he has gathered (including the magic-users in his own family) and leads his cohorts against the horde.
Two cabals of magic-users, each led by the rajah's elder sons Javas and Rohan, flank the mass of enchanted larvae, and with elemental magic of water and ice, contain the horde along a straight path, while a third cabal, led by the rajah's younger sons Almiron and Lais, drives the caterpillars forward with magical flames and fires. And in a fourth cabal directly in the path of the horde, the rajah and his most trusted wizards (including his first wife Nipa) bravely take their stand; together, they cast a spell to open a huge portal into the Elemental Plane of Earth, large enough to fit the routing horde.
After almost an hour of continual and arduous spellcasting, the wizards under the rajah's sons begin to cheer with exaltation as the horde is drawn into the planar gate. Their jubilation, however, proves to be premature...
There is a sudden magical implosion as the magical gate collapses onto itself. Clusters of the elemental caterpillars, being separated from the main body of the horde, begin to crumble into the soil. But the bodies of half a dozen wizards, including that of Rani Nipa Kalkiin, are later found transmuted into clay, while the wizards closest to the gate, including Rajah Salmahlin Kalkiin himself, simply disappeared! (See Fl. 28, Ya. 4; Ya. 11, Ya. 19.)
What This Means: The rajah had underestimated how fast the horde would invade his lands, but nevertheless, he and his advisers had devised an effective strategy against it. Instead of attacking or dispelling the elemental threat of such magnitude, the jadugeryas simply sent it back to its own plane not that driving the horde into an extra-large magical gate was simple. Clearly, the Sindhi magic-users lacked the mastery to handle a planar problem of this magnitude.
What the PCs Can Do: Wizardly PCs would probably be engaged into the service of Rajah Salmahlin Kalkiin for the frontline against the horde, while rogues, warriors, and clerics would be assigned as bodyguards for the jadugeryas or the rishiyas, whom the rajah suspects might try to sabotage his efforts to dispel the "Sacred Larvae of the Earth Mother."
Yarthmont 9, AC 1019
Empty Vaults in Notrion.
Location: City of Aaslin, Kingdom of Notrion, Continent of Bellissaria, Nayce. AS
Description: King Corydon of Notrion notifies the members of the Naycese Council that his kingdom is officially bankrupt, and is therefore unable to contribute any further to ongoing projects such as undersea dome construction. He asks, on behalf of his kingdom, for emergency funding to allow his officials to continue to pay the army and cover other essential costs. (See Th. 22, Fl. 12; Ya. 21, Kl. 9.)
What This Means: Notrion was the hardest-hit Naycese kingdom, once the economy began to falter, in large part due to falling Thyatian demand for its grain, and ongoing commitments to fund various Naycese projects. Since that time, Corydon has imposed additional taxes to make up for the shortfalls in revenue, but to no avail; the main problem is that the kingdom's largest export, grain, is simply not selling for a high enough price, or being sold in a large enough quantity, to cover all of its expenses.
The consequences of this state of affairs will become apparent in the coming months. Promises made by Notrion to contribute to various Naycese projects will be considered void, and it will not be possible to collect on any debts owed by the kingdom. This will make Notrion a far less appealing place in which to do business, and thus some foreign merchants will shift their traffic to other ports.
What the PCs Can Do: Although they will not likely be involved in this event directly, the PCs could be affected by it in the longer term.
The Grass Is Greener on the Other Side.
Location: Southern fringes of the Meghala Kimata Plains, between Town of Polakatsikes and City of Mivosia. DV
Description: Communion with their Immortal patrons have informed the Meghalese nomads that rain should not naturally fall for at least a new cycle (i.e. three years). Meghalese scouts who have ventured some distance into the Meghala Kimata Plains have obviously found much better pastures. They report their discoveries to their clan leaders. (See Fl. 15, Fl. 27; Ya. 12, Ya. 21.)
What This Means: Life has become so harsh in some portions of the desert that even the nomads who are fit for this difficult kind of existence have had enough. They have heard about the war and they think that their coming will not raise any complaints. And even if they do, they are so desperate that they are ready to fight for their survival. Not being able to cross the desert to go south, this is their only chance.
What the PCs Can Do: They can be sent ahead to find good spots for the future encampments. Securing wild areas could be challenging for low-level parties.
More Airships for Darokin.
Location: City of Corunglain, Republic of Darokin. OW
Description: Straight from the factory of Montgolfière & Urbaal Ltd., in Leenz, two brand-new Glantrian airships land in Corunglain. The Happy Faenare and the Nephele are airships manufactured for aerial trade, part of Glantri's reparations to Darokin for the Alexander Day Massacre of AC 1017.
Whereas last year, the first two commercial ships were greeted with much ceremony, these next two crafts are received by Darokinian authorities with the barest of formalities. Airship manufacturer Sir Yarov Urbaal, and a few Glantrian bureaucrats, sign papers and documents with Nathalie Kalimi, head of Corun House and the official representative for the Darokinian government in this matter. Several high-ranking priests of Valerias from the local temple witness the transaction.
The Glantrians take the next flight to Leenz on the Blue Swan, one of the first two airships launched the previous year. (See Kl. 14, Ka. 26.)
What This Means: The Glantrians are merely fulfilling their reparation obligations to Darokin for the Alexander Day Massacre, where clerics and devotees of Valerias (many from Darokin) were killed in Glantri City. Understandably, the Glantrians are doing no more than is necessary in this awkward affair.
One potential point of conflict will be what aerial trade routes the two new airships will take. For purposes of maintenance and repairs, one port will necessarily be in Glantri (either Leenz or Glantri City), which Darokinian city will become the other port is a matter the Inner Council and Darokinian merchant houses will decide.
An Elusive Quarry, Indeed!
Location: Town of Ciudad Tejillas, Estado de Almarrón, Savage Baronies. SC
Description: While reviewing reports of the ongoing reconstruction of the Castillo de Tordegena, Barón Maximiliano de Almarrón y Escudor receives a dispatch from one of his operatives in the field. Hurriedly, he breaks the magical seal, and is frustrated by what he reads there is still no sign of Don Esteban in Almarrón. (See Kl. 10, Fe. 13.)
What This Means: Ever since he was forced to flee Ciudad Tejillas in AC 1017, there has been no sign of Esteban at all. Maximiliano does not believe for a moment that his adversary is dead, or that he has abandoned all hope of ruling Almarrón. The barón is certain that Esteban is lurking somewhere in the region, waiting for a chance to strike.
What the PCs Can Do: Maximiliano may order the PCs to conduct some investigations of their own. Whether they find any useful information is another matter entirely; Esteban is leaving nothing to chance this time.
Yarthmont 10, AC 1019
An Imperial Fortress in the North.
Location: Kingdom of Oceansend, Tranquil Coast. NW
Descriptions: A ship docks in port carrying several Thyatian engineers and, more importantly from the point of view of Oceansend, imperial treasury officials dispatched to spend, rather than take, gold. With the blessing of King Yarrvikson, they hire locals for construction work, at good pay, and spend lavishly buying building supplies. Their project is a considerable one: repair and strengthen the walls of Oceansend, which have taken a beating over the last several years.
The Thyatians do not just rebuild; they plan to improve and strengthen the city's fortifications. At the same time, work commences on the construction of a large citadel adjacent to the port, in the Thyatian Quarter (the area of the city inhabited by recent Thyatian immigrants) and the improvement of the harbour facilities there. The Thyatian fighting order, the Knights of the Air, also announces the opening of a chapter in Oceansend. Its members are local Thyatians, and Oceansenders favourable to the empire. (See Va. 5, Fl. 21; Ya. 28, Kl. 1.)
What This Means: Until now, Oceansend's invaders have shown an interest in destroying the city's defences and exploiting its wealth. Eusebius is keen on changing that impression though he is keen, also, on maintaining the possibility of using it as a means of enriching the Thyatian Empire and establishing an imperial presence in this region. This is a demonstration of the benefits of being part of a great empire, one that can finance the reconstruction of Oceansend and assist its recovery. The empire's spending, which puts locals to work and fills the coffers of various Oceansender businesses with gold, does much to make them see that there are benefits to having an imperial protector in this oft-fought-over region. The improved defences are set up to make it virtually impossible for anyone to successfully assault the city, and allow it to withstand a siege indefinitely so long as the imperial navy dominates the Western Sea of Dawn and is thus able to supply the city with food from the Barony of Canium and the Isle of Dawn.
As is normal with Eusebius, however, everything is not as benign as it seems. This massive injection of capital is also a tool used by the empire to tighten its grip on the city in less noble ways to ensure perpetual Thyatian dominion over it. The defences are improved considerably against landward assault and even aerial attack, but not against attack from the sea. The imperial fleet, which now dominates the Western Sea of Dawn, will provide that. But this also means that same fleet will be easily able to transport troops to march into the city should it ever rebel. The citadel and area around the Thyatian Quarter, once completed, will provide a secure dock, and a redoubt that will hold until the fleet can relieve it. This area is the only part of the city where the seaward defences were strengthened. The Thyatians intend to hold onto Oceansend.
But Eusebius is not interested in expanding Thyatian territory in the rest of Norwold, beyond the lands of the Kingdom of Oceansend. He is more than happy to let the Heldannic Knights take, hold, and bear the costs of defending those lands spending money and troops patrolling large swaths of sparsely inhabited countryside is not a sound investment, at least at a time when the empire has plenty of land elsewhere to develop. Thyatis will profit more by indirect influence, and enriching itself through trade with the knights and the rest of Norwold trade that increasingly passes through the Barony of Canium and the Thyatian Quarter of Oceansend.
Interestingly, the development of Oceansend as a strong Thyatian base is also intended as a guarantor of another dominion's allegiance. With the city of Oceansend under Thyatian control as a potential base, Heldun will likely think twice about declaring independence, should that ever cross Asteriela's mind. Eusebius intends the empire's strength to be mutually reinforcing, centripetal. Indeed, it is precisely for that reason that he allows regions like Heldun greater latitude in local rule than the empire permitted before. As long as they are bound to the empire when it matters, and as long as he pulls the strings on issues important to him, he does not mind letting them handle other matters as they see fit.
Location: City of Thyatis, Duchy of Thyatis, Thyatian Empire. OW
Description: Liberus Kliton is convicted of several charges of misappropriation of imperial funds, most of these on the grounds of good intentions, and lying to an official out of self-interest. He is fined 1,000 lucins, sentenced to a month of hard labour at the granaries, and stripped of his office and noble title.
After the verdict is announced, there is much grumbling amid the mob assembled outside the courthouse. But Kliton himself calms them, saying he will continue to fight on their behalf but now is not the time for violence. Hildeborg Kliton speaks next, in a soothing tone, saying the establishment may have won this round, but the fight goes on. She announces that she will run for senate, and asks for their support. (See Fl. 5, Fl. 17.)
What This Means: Thyatis is far from a populist democracy, and Kliton was not able to escape punishment for his crimes by whipping up popular support. Nonetheless, his sentence was relatively light, given the consequences of his dereliction. The fact is that the same influential senators who charged him realised the risk of another destructive riot, and so used their influence to get a verdict that Kliton would accept, in exchange for calming the crowd and preventing an outburst.
Many of those involved in trying Kliton have also paid a high price. Their reputations have been damaged by the counter charges made by Kliton and his supporters, revealing so they claim the venality they were similarly engaged in. This does little to reduce the Thyatians' reputation for corruption.
What the PCs Can Do: Kliton may have promised to reward them for their efforts on his behalf, but he now claims impoverishment. He says that he spent all he had fighting the charges against him, and paying the fine. He promises to make it up to them if they help his wife's campaign her opponents are dirty crooks, and if they help uncover these facts and reveal them, then she will be in a position to reward them greatly.
In the meantime, both Kliton and his wife continue to live a life of luxury. Kliton pockets a good deal of money writing a book telling his side of his struggles against the Thyatian establishment, and opens an office in Axetown to be near the people who stuck with him. PCs trying to collect what he owes them are directed to this office, but they never find him there.
Skaddri Heads South.
Location: Jarldom of Ozurfold, Kingdom of Soderfjord. OW
Description: After a couple of weeks of boisterous living in Soderfjord City, Skaddri the Skald has gotten restless. He travels south to the Jarldom of Ozurfold, to help the warriors there in their battles against the humanoids of the region. (See Fl. 21; Kl. 25.)
What This Means: Loki's plan continues to unfold. Skaddri is already popular in Soderfjord City itself; now, Loki plans to make His Mortal Identity well-known and respected elsewhere in the jarldoms.
Yarthmont 11, AC 1019
A Land with No Rajah.
Location: Mumlyket of Nagpuri, Kingdom of Sind. OW
Description: With Rajah Salmahlin Kalkiin missing (presumably sucked into the collapsing gate to the Elemental Plane of Earth while vanquishing the horde) and Rani Nipa Kalkiin transformed into a statue of clay, Javas Kalkiin, the eldest son and heir apparent of the rajah, calls upon his family, allies, and the jadugerya (wizard) caste to help rescue his father and restore his mother to life. Kalindi Kalkiin, the ambitious second wife of the rajah anxiously agrees to this. But the ancient Kalkiin matriarch, Ambika Kalkiin, wisely reminds her grandson that the ruling of the nation is a more important matter, and so Javas, with a heavy heart, agrees to bear the responsibility of governance. He does however insist not to have an official succession ceremony until all efforts to return his father are exhausted. (See Ya. 4, Ya. 8; Ya. 19, Kl. 3.)
What This Means: Present attempts to save the rajah and the rani have thus far failed mainly because the most powerful magic-users of Nagpuri have either disappeared with the rajah or were also transmuted into elemental clay.
Prince Javas' concern and love for his father is true, but so is Ambika's patriotism and love for Nagpuri. On the other hand, Kalindi's wish to see Rajah Salmahlin returned is borne out of fear of her fall in status and the loss of possibility of one of her sons to ascend the throne of Nagpuri.
Armies in Sight!
Location: 40 miles northwest of Town of Parthenaeum, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: Parthenaean scouts have spotted dust columns in the wild, some 40 miles northwest of Parthenaeum. The army is estimated to comprise several hundred men. (See Th. 13, Fl. 3; Ya. 12, Ya. 14.)
What This Means: The Ilioloostian troops had to go straight to the river to address their lack of drinkable water. For unknown reasons the Heldannic clerics were not able to produce water. Now the Ilioloostian army has been somehow misidentified as being the Mivosian reinforcements expected to arrive in the region.
What the PCs Can Do: Check the source of the dust and tell Parthenaeum the good news.
Out with the New, In with the Old.
Location: City-State of Hrissopoli, Valley of Lions. DV
Description: The surviving citizens of Hrissopoli are gathered in what was once one of the major market squares, under the watchful eye of the assembled lizard man army. The Voice appears before them, and tells them in his rasping voice that they are now subjects of the Carnifex Empire, and must worship the True Lords who hold sway over it, and who ruled the world before the first civilisation of men arose. All of Hrissopoli's temples will either be destroyed, or be rededicated to the True Lords, who, he assures the frightened humans and rakasta, hear the prayers of the truly devoted.
The Voice then pronounces that, henceforth, their city will be named Az'Azhat; mentioning the city's old name will be punishable by death. He also orders them to present their children to him, so that he might choose who will one day join the Great Legion, and who will serve in the temples. (See Ya. 7, Ya. 8; Fe. 13, Am. 7.)
What This Means: The Carnifex Empire is entrenching itself in Hrissopoli. The lizard men and troglodytes did not kill everyone in the city after it fell, although several hundred commoners were sacrificed that night. Over the coming days and weeks, those who remain will be forced to pledge fealty to the Carnifex and their mysterious True Lords, and toil for their new masters. They will forge new weapons and armour, clear away the rubble from the battle, and convert the former palace into a grand temple to the True Lords, all under the watchful eyes of their lizard man overseers.
The Voice is determined to use the locals to his masters' best advantage. By taking in the city's able-bodied and sharp-minded youth, he plans to create useful pawns, who may one day be sent to human lands where they will pass unnoticed. He is fully aware that it will take many years to indoctrinate them, but his masters are patient.
What the PCs Can Do: If the Voice was killed by the PCs, the DM should substitute him for another high-ranking leader of the lizard man army. If they are still in the city, the PCs could be laying low, possibly trying to gather information on behalf of those who would oppose the Carnifex. Even if they are no longer working for anyone, the PCs should realise that something evil is brewing, and that any information they obtain could be crucial. Needless to say, things could go very badly for them if they are discovered.
Yarthmont 12, AC 1019
Mivosian Troops on the Road.
Location: City-State of Mivosia, Mivosian Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: Despite the bad weather conditions, the triumvirate has decided to send new troops to the front as soon as possible. They want to crush the Heldannic Knights before next winter. For this, they are to send 2,500 new men to ensure victory. They leave the city by the first hours of dawn. (See Fl. 4, Fl. 15; Ya. 21, Ya. 23.)
What This Means: The triumvirate suspects clerical involvement caused the worsening of the weather during the past two weeks. They order their troops to go slowly but steadily, even changing their planned itinerary if needed. They should not follow the Meghalo Fithi River, but instead go due east along the hills.
In many ways, Vanya's meddling in this affair might save Parthenaeum for the weeks to come. Her flooding of the valley has had the troops go north and avoid passing through Parthenaeum. Thus the taking of the city will go unnoticed for a while longer.
What the PCs Can Do: Find the best way to reach Polakatsikes as soon as possible.
Out of the Jungle.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: After a 16-day journey through the tropical jungle the Heldannic party sent to retrieve the Conqueror's Heart enters the plains which lead to the supposed location of the ruined city of Desperia some 100 miles northeast of their present position. They rest for a full day before commencing the last and most dangerous part of the mission. Bertolucius, their self-proclaimed scout, seems worried by the apparent absence of animal life around them and the presence of heavy smoke to the northwest. He thinks a volcano is responsible for these. (See Fl. 24, Fl. 7; Ya. 13, Ya. 14.)
What This Means: The party is exhausted. They lost two donkeys, which were taken by giant crocodiles while crossing a river. They now need some rest to fulfil their mission.
The absence of major animal life is caused by the approach of a big savannah fire, which has scared them away.
What the PCs Can Do: The night will be hot!
The Missing Marchioness.
Location: City of Glantri, Principalities of Glantri. OW
Description: Count Pieter Verlien of High Sonden announces at the parliament that the Marchioness of Berrym, Lady Mariana Terlagand, has been dead for over forty years, and that she has been impersonated by an agent of Rannigar Budulug, Guildmaster of Spokesmen.
The constabulary is sent to arrest the false Lady Mariana and Meister Rannigar, but the former has already disappeared, while the latter has committed suicide. Witnesses and suspected accomplices are interrogated and arrested, but none are charged and prosecuted.
Supreme Judge of the Council, Princess Dolores Hillsbury of Fenswick, tries to implicate her archenemy Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels of Aalban in the grand conspiracy, allegedly in order to keep the marchioness's votes with House Ritterburg, but Count Pieter has no evidence of the prince's involvement or even knowledge of Lady Mariana's impersonation. (See Fl. 18, Ya. 7; Kl. 12.)
What This Means: In his campaign to rid the principalities of fraudulent nobility, this will perhaps be the only official finding of Count Pieter Verlien, and even then, the results are equivocal. The fraudulent marchioness (Narda Shelyn) was forewarned of the endgame by Frau Hildegarde von Drachenfels's visit last week, and made plans for her escape and for her accomplice Meister Rannigar to hang and hang he did, since, for all his corruption, Rannigar Budulug did not want to sully the good name of the Spokesmen's Guild. Ironically, his replacement as guildmaster is his assistant, Narda Shelyn herself!
The vacancy in the noble ranks leads to an Awards Festival, which will take place in a month enough time for campaigning for support, buying votes and favours, or blackmailing and backstabbing enemies.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs may be called on as investigators, negotiators, spies, thieves, assassins, and agents of all sorts whether to investigate the Mariana Terlagand affair, or to help Glantrian nobles in their powermongering for positions in the coming Awards Festival.
Ilioloostian Troops Identified as Such.
Location: 24 miles northwest of Town of Parthenaeum, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: As soon as the advancing troops have been identified as allies, messengers are sent to the Ilioloostians to invite them to rest in Parthenaeum. (See Fl. 3, Ya. 11; Ya. 14, Ya. 21.)
What This Means: The Ilioloostians are very happily surprised to find a friendly city on the road to Polakatsikes. They head straight to Parthenaeum, which they enter by nightfall.
What the PCs Can Do: They could be the scouts sent to identify the approaching army.
Yarthmont 13, AC 1019
The Official Investigation Ends.
Location: City of Glantri, Principalities of Glantri. OW
Description: Chief Constable Tianis Nicom announces that Lorne Hart is most probably the werewolf responsible for the attack upon Valachi Sulescu. She states that Hart seems to have acted alone, the attack being an isolated incident. She ends the investigation, the case being endorsed by the Glantrian judiciary. The investigation's findings are forwarded to Karameikos. (See Fl. 15, Ya. 3; Fe. 9, Fe. 11.)
What This Means: Under pressure of the Glantrian School of Magic, the Canine Protection Society, and the judiciary, the investigation has been ended. Hart, guilty or otherwise, has been made the scapegoat for the attack upon Valachi Sulescu. The lycanthropic advocates have worked behind the scenes to settle the matter as quickly as possible, placing complete blame upon Hart, a situation that does not please all of the lycanthropes, especially the Hart family.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are involved in the investigation, they may be called upon to refute the Glantrian claim of Lorne Hart's attack upon Valachi Sulescu. Likewise, the Hart family may call upon the same PCs to try to clear Lorne's name. Evidence would be difficult to find, beyond that the troublemaker was part of a larger group. The scar from the silver dirk wound and testimony from other werewolves are the main options, and each would implicate another of their group.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: Five hours after dark, while Bertolucius, the rogue of the Heldannic party, is on watch, packs of wild animals including lions and other dangerous predators run through the camp and flee northeast. Bertolucius wakes everyone and explains to them that the prairie is on fire that's why the animals have fled. The red line of the fire is visible and advancing fast toward them. They cannot go back to the wet jungle so they must run for their lives northwards. The donkeys are not easily controlled and some flee, taking away food and other precious supplies. (See Fl. 7, Ya. 12; Ya. 14, Ya. 15.)
What This Means: This is another setback the questing party has to face. A lightning bolt ignited the dry region, which has not received its normal rainfall this spring. This is due to Vanya's meddling with the rain clouds around Mivosia. She deflected not only the rain clouds from the south but also from this region to be sure to really flood the Mivosian region. Even an Immortal cannot predict everything, especially weather.
What the PCs Can Do: Run, don't look back, save the supplies, and try to find a safe place to hide.
Yarthmont 14, AC 1019
Shelter Found in the Hills of Desolation.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: At sunrise, after hours of running from the advancing fire, the Heldannic party finds an abandoned and ruined stone building. There they hide in a semi-crumbled cellar, waiting for the fire to devour the prairie outside. Exhausted, they all fall asleep while one of them fights to stay awake and on watch. (See Ya. 12, Ya. 13; Ya. 15, Ya. 18.)
What This Means: Sheer luck (or Immortal help) had them find an unexpected shelter from the raging fire.
What the PCs Can Do: Wait for the fire to pass.
Unrest in Gargoña.
Location: Baronía de Gargoña, Savage Baronies. SC
Description: Across the land, Gargoñans are making their dissatisfaction over the fate of their nation known to the provisional government appointed by Barón Balthazar of Saragón. With no clear successor to the deceased former baronesa identified, minor nobles throughout the baronía have come forward to demand acknowledgment as the ruler of the land. The appointed governing council has been appealing for calm, but to no avail. (See Fl. 24, Ya. 2; Kl. 10, Fe. 13.)
What This Means: The reigning Baronesa of Gargoña, Esperanza de Sotto y Rivera, was executed by the Narvaezan army during its invasion of the baronía in AC 1016. The subsequent year saw Gargoña turn into a battlefield, as occupying Narvaezan armies sought to drive out would-be liberation forces from Guadalante and Saragón. Hostilities ended in Felmont, AC 1017, with the signing of a treaty between Narvaez, Saragón, and Guadalante that left the northern half of Gargoña in Narvaezan hands, and the remainder of the baronía without a formal government. Barón Balthazar did what he could to set up an interim government, but the effort was hasty, and the barón had little knowledge of the politicking that went on between the more powerful families in Gargoña, resulting in an interim government that few people supported. Making matters worse was the fact that Gargoña was not a signatory to the treaty, and therefore the people feel that they have been forced to accept the loss of half of their country, while having to deal with hundreds of refugees fleeing from what is now Narvaez across the Rio Copos. Tensions increased throughout AC 1018, to the point that several nobles have begun to make noises about asserting themselves militarily.
What the PCs Can Do: Unless the PCs are Gargoñan nobles, or directly employed by them, there is little they can do at this point. Otherwise, they could find themselves enmeshed in politics, trying to put themselves or their patron into a position of power by threatening or eliminating rivals.
Ilioloostian Troops Leave Parthenaeum.
Location: Town of Parthenaeum, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: Since the town was taken, defences have been erected and consolidated. Men have been healed and new soldiers have been trained to participate in the defence of the city. Some Ilioloostian engineers and Heldannic priests will stay to coordinate the defence, but the rest of the troops are preparing for the last part of the journey. (See Ya. 11, Ya. 12; Ya. 21, Ya. 27.)
What This Means: Officers are aware that the main front will be Polakatsikes once again. But this time they have the means to cut the supply lines coming from Mivosia, at least until someone starts suspecting something is at work in Parthenaeum. That's why the army is ready to depart at dusk and heads due south for several miles before turning southeast.
What the PCs Can Do: People with infravision or celestial navigation skills would be useful to guide the army by night in the wilderness.
Yarthmont 15, AC 1019
Norwold Confederacy Convenes.
Location: City of Alpha, Kingdom of Alpha, Nayce. NW
Description: The Norwold Confederacy convenes in Alpha, to discuss the decision by Nayce to prospect and establish mining towns in Norwold, using unemployed commoners from economically depressed kingdoms. (See Th. 19, Th. 28; Ya. 28, Kl. 1.)
The Journey Resumes.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: The party of Heldannic adventurers resumes its journey. They are quite concerned since the last two setbacks have lowered their chance of reaching the lost city of Desperia alive. They have only five donkeys left. Their supplies would just be enough for twenty more days, but the priest and clerics are confident in their ability to create water and food. (See Ya. 13, Ya. 14; Ya. 18, Ya. 21.)
What This Means: Feeling down for the loss of two friends, the party has everything to prove. It seems fortune is against them.
What the PCs Can Do: Hope for the best. Any side encounter can be run to break the routine.
Yarthmont 16, AC 1019
Kildorkak Enters the War Effort.
Location: Barony of Kildorkak, Territory of Heldland, Heldannic Empire. NW
Description: Hölger Scholz, Overseer of the dwarven stronghold, summons Gard Rocktooth, Clan Chief of Kildorkak, to discuss urgent business of the Heldannic Order. After the dwarf is presented to him in his chambers, Hölger presents him with a small pile of diagrams and written testimony, explaining that the diagrams are gnomish in origin. He goes on to say that Ordensmeisterin Anna von Hendriks wishes to build as many gnomish zeppelins as can be afforded at this stage, in order to obtain a measure of aerial superiority over Heinrich Straßenburger's forces. She instructed him to consult with the dwarves, as their skills in building would be required.
Gard ponders Hölger's words in silence for a few moments, and tells him that, while the dwarves could certainly build a zeppelin, the inner workings of its machinery would require further study. Anna must obtain the service of some gnomish engineers, who would be able to explain the inner workings of the devices to the dwarves, as the gnomes would be loath to share their secrets with humans.
Hölger ponders this, and requests, on Anna's behalf, that construction of one zeppelin commence immediately. When gnomish engineers are found, they will be brought to Kildorkak. Gard assents to this, and Hölger sends a message to Anna reporting on the outcome. (See Fl. 15, Ya. 7; Ya. 20, Ya. 28.)
What This Means: Although the Heldannic Order has its share of military engineers, they are not as skilled as their dwarven equivalents. Since the conquest of Kildorkak in AC 1016, Heldannic rule has been imposed very lightly. The dwarves' system of government under the clan chief was left intact, and internal affairs are left to the dwarves to handle as they wish. In large part this is because the Heldannic authorities want to ensure that the dwarves remain cooperative, and place their considerable skills at the order's disposal, but also because the dwarves outnumber the humans in Kildorkak by a wide margin, and a successful revolt would entail a costly campaign to retake the citadel something neither the late Herr Wulf, nor Anna von Hendriks, wished to do.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs would be suitable candidates for locating the required gnomish engineers.
A Great Victory (for Now)!
Location: City-state of Schweidnitz, Izondian Coast. DV
Description: The united army of native warriors and Heldannic Knights defeats a great army of Mogluur half-orcs in a great battle, after twenty days of useless skirmishes. The half-orcs retreat to their deep forests in the southeast, and the Heldannic Knights now can draw the border of their new colony. (See Fl. 16, Fl. 27; Fe. 15, Fy. 7.)
What This Means: The Heldannic Knights had their first great victory. Now the knights have a lot more faith in Wilhelm Folgen. However, now that the common enemy has been defeated, continued cooperation between Heldanners and natives may prove more difficult in the following months.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are with the Heldanners they can fight a great, and long, battle, and if they are of high enough level, they could even be able to make the difference.
Yarthmont 18, AC 1019
Location: City of Greatrealm, Hagiarchy of Hule. SC
Description: After extended discussions that began soon after the Thyatian expedition arrived in Hule, the Empire of Thyatis, the Heldannic faction led by Ordensmeisterin Anna von Hendriks, and the nation of Hule sign a secret compact, outlining spheres of interest in Eastern Brun and pledging cooperation against "mutual threats." (See Fl. 24, Ya. 2; Ya. 23, Kl. 2.)
What This Means: None of the parties to this compact fully trusts the others, and all have ambitious that ultimately conflict with each other. But all were troubled by the establishment of the Western Defence League, which they see as a potential obstacle to their interests. Thyatis and Hule, for example, both wish to retain their influence in Sind. Eusebius believes that the league was founded as an anti-Thyatian organisation, while Hosadus knows that it stands against him in his efforts to gain control over Darokin. With this compact, the signatories will not have to stand alone. If Thyatis is ever confronted by the Western Defence League, Eusebius wants to arrange things so that Hule will invade Darokin from the west. He does not want such a war, but if presented with such a situation, he would like as many options as possible. Likewise, Hosadus grew worried when Thyatis intervened in Sind in AC 1017, and he feared that the improving relations between Thyatis, Karameikos and Darokin would mean that the empire might be added to Hule's foes. With this compact, he neutralises that possibility and hopes that the empire will squeeze Karameikos from the east should Hule ever need the aid.
Note that this compact does not extend to the Savage Coast. While Hosadus tried very hard in negotiations to get the Thyatians to accept that region as part of Hule's sphere of influence, the most the empire would do is acknowledge Hule's traditional interest in the region, while leaving its own options open Eusebius's goal here was to contain Hule as much as possible. Eusebius has no interest in seeing Hule gain the upper hand here as Hosadus hopes, which would make it a rival to the empire. Thyatis did, however, make anti-Zuyevo gestures. While the empire has no real influence that far west in Brun, it does not want to see Zuyevo become a rival anymore than it wants Hule to reach that status. Eusebius also wants to leave the door open for possible involvement in the "liberation" of Richland, hoping that if such an event comes to pass Thyatis will gain a foothold (Thyatian Quarter) there as a result while keeping the city out of Hosadus's hands and putting it back in Cimarron's.
Charybdis to Scylla.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: In the morning, the party discovers that the biggest of their goatskin bottles has leaked and is almost empty. The clerics are unable to cast any spells; it seems their mystical link to Vanya is broken. The magic-users are also unable to cast most of their spells; it is as if the spells in their memories were fading and coming back, so they cannot be sure they can proceed with a full incantation. They are now in a dire situation since they are almost out of water and they are still journeying in a very arid place. They decide to move only by night, when it's cooler. (See Ya. 14, Ya. 15; Ya. 21, Ya. 23.)
What This Means: The region around Desperia is located in a kind of weird magic zone. Clerics cannot contact their Immortals or cast spells while wizards can experience erratic effects if they cast any spells. DMs can devise fun or dangerous effects for the miscast spells, but nothing too harmful. This curse is the result of a major magical backfire, which happened centuries ago and resulted in the desertification of the region. This is now a forsaken place where almost nothing can grow.
As for the party's misfortune, some of it is the result of bad luck, but a traitor within the group punctured the water bottle. One of the soldiers is a Mivosian agent sent to investigate the artifact and its possible use.
What the PCs Can Do: They can try to figure out whether all these misfortunes are just bad luck or something darker.
Yarthmont 19, AC 1019
Location: City of Darokin, Republic of Darokin. OW
Description: Shadow, the thief who stole the necklace of Allana Mauntea at the Darokin Masked Ball last year, is officially put on trial for the theft. The matter is mostly a demonstration, since the outcome is a foregone conclusion. (See Th. 10, Fl. 27; Ya. 26, Kl. 13.)
What This Means: Though Shadow has made a deal to return the necklace and help Mauntea House against its enemies, this still does not absolve her from her crime, and Mauntea House does not want to officially admit to having made an agreement with the thief for obvious reasons. Besides, having caused public damage to the reputation of the chancellor, they need to make an example of her. Then they can quietly decide later what to do with her, once the topic has faded from public view. This is also a major reason why Shadow's real name, Dawn Henry, has not been made public. After only a few days, Shadow will be officially sentenced to four years in prison for her theft. In reality the matter will be decided later, especially once it is confirmed that Shadow has indeed helped Darokin in the past during the war with the Master in AC 1006, her actions were instrumental in recapturing Akorros from the Desert Nomads, since she infiltrated her occupied home city and helped open the city gates for the counterattack by Darokinian forces.
Peeling Back the Onion.
Location: Thyatian Hinterlands, Thyatian Empire. DV
Description: Ever since he failed in the quest for the crown, the Thyatian scholar Flavius Nucius Justinius has sought to redeem himself. He was sent exiled, really to Davania by Emperor Eusebius, and directed to conduct archaeological research into the origins of the Thyatian people. Based on his own researches, he has conducted digs in a site that was continuously inhabited by the Thratian people until the Thyatians drove them off in their initial wave of conquest in Davania, in the lands southwest of Raven Scarp. He believes that this was the birthplace and home of Vanya, and also that the Thyatians and the Thratians share a common historical origin, and calls the dig site Castra Vanyae.
With the help of priests specialising in archaeological Divination, discoveries have proceeded quickly. Justinius has finally put together pieces of the puzzle that prove his theories. These include artifacts dating back to the time of the Milenian conquest, a cairn with pictographs showing the Thyatians in the region, the onslaught of the Milenians, ships sailing north, and finally bands remaining behind under the leadership of a warrior-maiden, depicted in the pictograms in a style traditionally reserved for depictions of Vanya. There are also signs that the village was overrun by the Milenians shortly afterwards, and became a settlement inhabited by Milenians overseeing conquered slaves. Centuries later, coincidentally just a few decades before Zendrol began plotting to overthrow Alphatian rule in Thyatis, there is evidence that the natives of Castra Vanyae rose up in revolt against the Milenians, defeating them with the help of barbarian invaders and helping participate in the collapse of that empire. The evidence is in the form of a diary written by the wife of the Milenian Governor of Castra Vanyae. She was a member of a secret cult dedicated to Vanya and to the "destruction of the Milenian Empire and liberty of women and the Thyratian People." To Justinius, the terminology used to describe the natives, "Thyratian," is too close to both Thyatian and Thratian to be coincidental. After the Milenians were defeated, the natives intermingled with the migrating barbarians, absorbing many of their customs until their culture became that of the modern Thratians. Julinius notes that after the fall of the Milenian Empire the village built over successive layers of past settlement continued to be inhabited until the Thyatian legions arrived in AC 986 and conquered the area, driving the Thratians from it after a sharp battle for the hill fort village. (See Fy. 7.)
What This Means: There have long been hints that the Thyatians and the Thratians might have common origins, but both sides, blinded by the conflict between them, have refused to acknowledge it. While the archaeological discoveries conclusively prove that they had once very close ties (possibly even being one people), many on both sides will not want this to be investigated further, or even known. Others will try to put it to political use of all types either to draw the Thyatians and Thratians together, or to further estrange them, by suggesting that the Thratians are the "debased who were conquered" or the Thyatians the "decadent who fled," and thus unworthy.
After over sixteen centuries of separation, much divides the Thyatians from the Thratians. But these finds will help those who are trying to live together, both Thyatians and Thyatianized Hinterlanders, find common ground, and will give each reason to respect the other. Some argue that the "lost tribe" of Thyatians will and should take its rightful place as a pillar of the imperium.
In more concrete terms, some of the relics and artifacts found at the site may be magical, and others will be highly valuable because of their artistry and age. Ultimately, because Castra Vanyae was the birthplace of the Immortal of that name, the site is sacred to all Her followers, not just the Thyatian branch of Her faith, but also the Heldannic Knights. Though Her tomb is elsewhere, this will still be an important pilgrimage site for Her followers, and orders dedicated to Vanya, such as the Brotherhood of the Grey Lady in Thyatis or the aforementioned Order of the Heldannic Knights, will be rivals for control of the site and relics found in it. These may include weapons once wielded by Vanya, which may be endowed with some of Her power. Whether they are or not, they will be highly sought after by fanatics dedicated to Her, but also by the imperial government.
Finally, given the site's significance, the Thyatian Senate will issue a charter for the area, under the name of Castra Vanyae. What started as a camp for those working on the archaeological dig will be chartered as a town, and colonists sent to settle it permanently. The Thyatian Empire will consider it a matter of imperial prestige to fortify and populate the site and return it to its glory. Ironically, they are likely to restore some of the buildings constructed when the settlement was a Milenian city.
What the PCs Can Do: With raids being conducted by both sides of the conflict in the Hinterlands, Justinius will need heightened security around the dig site to protect it. Rumours will fly that this or that relic contains magical power that could tip the balance of the war in favour of whoever controls it. It is quite possible that one or more artifacts found at the site will be magically potent, perhaps a ring of sacred stones or a cairn or shrine, the possession of which will provide those who control it with a means of dominating the surrounding lands. It is up to the DM to decide if any of the finds have such powers, but the fact that many will believe that such an artifact was found will draw people to try and take control of it, keeping PCs busy.
Once Justinius has gathered the evidence to prove his theory of the historical link between the Thyatians and the Thratians, he will need characters to guard it as he makes his way to Raven Scarp, and then all the way to Thyatis City.
The Rishiyas' Refusal.
Location: Mumlyket of Nagpuri, Kingdom of Sind. OW
Description: At the palace of Mahasabad, the unconfirmed ruler, Prince Javas Kalkiin (son of the missing Rajah Salmahlin) has an audience with some high-ranking clerics and officials of the rishiya caste, most of whom are seething with indignation at the recent "sacrilege against the Sacred Larvae of the Earth Mother." With all the diplomacy he can muster, Prince Javas inquires if the priests have any cure for his mother Rani Nipa Kalkiin and the other jadugeryas who were transmuted into elemental clay during the vanquishing of the said "Sacred Larvae."
But Maharishi Tayib Badahur, the highest ranking and quite possibly most aggressive of the rishiyas, adamantly denies that they would have such a divine cure for the rani and boldly declares that her accursed state is her karma and punishment for her transgressions against the Earth Mother.
At this point, the enraged Prince Javas demands silence from the rishiyas, but Maharishi Tayib only persists to bemoan "the spiritual squalor that has befallen Nagpuri," warning that the land has become "another godless Glantri of heathen wizards!" The other priests go so far as comparing the "heretical, new-fangled fiction" of the Immortal Gareth to the Immortal Rad, the "imaginary figment from the delusional minds of the pagan Glantrian wizards!"
Prince Javas, a supporter of the followers of Gareth, would have struck down the rishiyas then and there, had not Lady Kalindi Kalkiin graciously intervened and ended the audience tactfully though without resolution. (See Ya. 8, Ya. 11; Kl. 3, Kl. 14.)
What This Means: Neither the jadugeryas nor the followers of Gareth have been able to find a solution to the disappearance of Rajah Salmahlin or the petrification of Rani Nipa, and it has taken over a week for the rishiyas to respond to the call for help of the Kalkiin ruling family.
The rishiya caste has always been rather resentful of the privileged status enjoyed by the jadugerya caste in Nagpuri which they believe should be rightfully accorded to them, as is anywhere else in Sind. The recent confrontation with the elemental horde has raised both religious and political issues, and widened the rift between the castes, in spite of the losses suffered on both sides loss of life and loss of face and credibility. The presence of the followers of Gareth in Mahasabad does nothing to ease their wrath.
And if that were not enough, there is one more player in this Sindhi intrigue, Lady Kalindi, who has not yet fully played her hand...
A Coup in Vastergard.
Location: Jarldom of Vastergard, Kingdom of Soderfjord. OW
Description: A sudden change in rulership occurs in the Jarldom of Vastergard. Atli Harekson, the jarl, is attacked by berserkers loyal to his brother Hogni; his life is saved only by the assistance of Atli's other brother, Hoskuld, and the jarl's old uncle Kalf. Hoskuld and Kalf come too late to save Atli completely, though; the jarl has lost both his eyes and his sword arm to the berserkers' attack.
Acting on the jarl's behalf, Hoskuld exiles his brother Hogni. He appoints himself to serve as regent of Vastergard until his brother can either be healed of his injuries or until his brother's oldest child reaches manhood. (See Am. 3, Am. 9.)
What This Means: The attack on Atli is genuine but Hoskuld, not Hogni, is to blame. Hoskuld showed treacherous tendencies in his younger days: he was inducted into the priesthood of Hel and plotted to charm his father into exiling his two older brothers. Though that plot failed, this one has succeeded.
Needless to say, Hoskuld will now quietly block any attempts to cure Atli's injuries. He has received substantial aid from the cult of Loki in staging the coup, and will continue to be helped by the followers of the Immortal of Deception.
What the PCs Can Do: Though a group of experienced PCs might be capable of preventing the attack on Atli, they shouldn't receive the opportunity to do so. Hoskuld and his allies have been planning this coup for a while now, and will arrange distractions for any group of adventurers that might interfere.
Street Brawl in Minrothad.
Location: City of Minrothad, Exarchate of Minrothad, Thyatian Empire. OW
Description: A brawl in Minrothad City between two guilders' sons and their lackeys leaves a man dead. All involved are taken into custody, interrogated, and tried under Thyatian law. Most of the participants are sentenced to a week in prison; the young man identified as the killer Calahim Elsan, son of one of the Elsan cousins is given five years in a prison colony in the Thanegioth Archipelago.
The Minrothaddan guildmasters, particularly those of the Elsan clan, protest the sentence. The Thyatian judge ignores their protests. (See Ya. 22, Ya. 25.)
What This Means: The Minrothaddans have had a few years to get used to the swift and impartial brand of justice practiced in the Thyatian Empire, so most of the sentences are not that much of a surprise to them. The application of the law to a scion of the Elsan family, though, is an unwelcome shock. Guild tradition before AC 1016 was always to handle criminal accusations against members of their highest families behind closed doors, exacting punishment in political consequences. The public application of the law to one of their own is something new.
What the PCs Can Do: There is likely little the PCs can do at this stage; though they may very well have heard of the trial.
Yarthmont 20, AC 1019
Location: Town of Althaven, Territory of Heldann, Heldannic Empire. OW
Description: The garrison of Althaven the port of Freiburg is startled by the arrival of several warships, sailing up the Naga River. At first thinking that the vessels are part of Heinrich Straßenburger's fleet, the garrison rejoices; tales of the rout of Heinrich Straßenburger's eastern army have been circulating for weeks, and everyone is edgy. As soon as the vessels are within hailing distance, the chief dock warden asks the nearest ship captain for his port of origin, and what news he has of the war. The captain stands aside, and presents a bound man, wearing the cloak of an ordensgeneral, who identifies himself through gritted teeth as the former commander of the eastern army, who has surrendered to Anna von Hendriks, "the true leader of us all." The captain informs the dock warden that the garrison of Althaven has been blockaded. His ship then pulls back before a concerted response can be brought to bear. (See Ya. 7, Ya. 16; Ya. 28, Kl. 7.)
What This Means: The forces loyal to Straßenburger in eastern Heldann feared that, after winning a major victory in the Ostbergen, Ordensmeisterin Anna von Hendriks would soon turn her attention to Freiburg, and gain control over all of eastern Heldann if she conquered it. Although their fears appear to have been confirmed, what they do not know is that Anna hopes only to keep the garrisons of Freiburg and Althaven bottled up, to allow the remainder of her forces to secure other strongholds. She knows that Straßenburger has improved Freiburg's fortifications greatly since he took the city; he is too shrewd to allow the same circumstances, that gave him his victory, to take it take away. In the meantime, about 200 of her soldiers have taken up positions around Althaven to prevent anyone from leaving, but they will not mount a formal siege yet. After putting on a bit of a show, the ships will sail out to sea again, but will return periodically to harass the garrison.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs on Anna's side could be given missions to sabotage enemy vessels moored around Althaven, and to intercept messages coming from, or going to, Freiburg. Otherwise, they should give the garrison the impression that there are many more soldiers than there actually are. PCs loyal to Straßenburger could be given missions to sneak out of Althaven to determine the enemy force's true strength, and if it is weak enough, to lead an offensive to clear them out.
Yarthmont 21, AC 1019
Bread Dole Announced.
Location: City of Ionace, Island of Ionace, Nayce. AS
Description: As part of a plan to relieve the heavily indebted Kingdom of Notrion, the Naycese Council announces that it will purchase the majority of the kingdom's grain stocks, and distribute it to the populace through public bakeries, which are slated to be opened within the coming weeks. (See Fl. 12, Ya. 9; Kl. 9, Fe. 4.)
What This Means: The Alphatians have long been aware of the distribution of free bread in Thyatis City, which has helped alleviate some of the suffering of the poor, and has helped maintain order by ensuring that every denizen of that city has access to at least one basic staple of life. With increasing unrest following the sharp rise in unemployment among the freeman class, the authorities in most major Naycese kingdoms have been trying to find a way to maintain order. At the same time, the Kingdom of Notrion, one of the breadbaskets of the former Alphatian Empire, has found itself bankrupt, and in possession of vast stocks of grain that it cannot sell in large volumes at a reasonable price.
Thus, the council has decided to buy most of Notrion's remaining stock, and, emulating the Thyatians, distribute it. The benefit of this plan is that Notrion will get some money out of it although not as much as it could when it had international buyers and the people will receive free bread. Unfortunately, it will take some time for the network of public bakeries to be established, and even so, some regions will receive their bread sooner than others, which will likely breed resentment among the lower classes, once word gets out. These problems will be due in part to Nayce's fractured, chaotic nature, but also because the council is trying to distribute the grain across a huge territory, not just a city.
What the PCs Can Do: It is unlikely that the PCs would be directly involved in this event, but their work for King Corydon of Notrion might have been brought to the attention of the Naycese Council they might even have informed the council of the urgency of the situation themselves. PC spellcasters might be approached to lend their assistance to the effort by teleporting vast sums of grain, and adventuring parties could be hired as guards for caravans or vessels transporting the grain, to protect the cargo from bandits or political opponents.
Undead Off Alinquin.
Location: City of Alinquin, Kingdom of Dawnrim, Continent of Bellissaria, Nayce. AS
Description: The Ullana, a merchant vessel out of Spearpoint, Surshield, arrives at the docks. The ship's captain, Wyndell, alerts the city's authorities that they had spotted a group of undead, numbering perhaps one hundred, a few miles west of the city. The garrison is alerted and the city's naval patrols are sent out. The sighting is reported to the military. (See Ya. 26, Fe. 2.)
Location: 100 miles southeast of Town of Deletria, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: Going along an old trail in the savannah, Ilioloostian troops spot a very large nomad encampment. (See Ya. 12, Ya. 14; Ya. 27, Ya. 28.)
What This Means: Those nomads have fled their barren lands in the Meghales Amosses Desert and have settled here with their cattle, out of the patrol radius of Meghalan raiders. There are about 250 warriors, with their families and herds, but they have shown no signs of aggressiveness, just curiosity.
What the PCs Can Do: Meet different people, and discover their intentions without too much curiosity or aggressiveness.
I'm Singing in the Rain.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: Two donkeys die from exhaustion from having to carry most of the party's gear. As the night grows darker, the party is shaken by a loud thunderbolt. Rain suddenly pours over men and beasts. The adventurers do their best to collect every last drop of water. Fifteen minutes later, the rain stops. The party is ready to resume its journey in the dark with replenished water supplies. Hope is restored, and the city is only a few days away to the north now. (See Ya. 15, Ya. 18; Ya. 23, Ya. 24.)
What This Means: Vanya has arranged to have a druid who owed Her a favour to concentrate every drop of humidity he could find in the region and release it in a very particular place at a very particular time.
What the PCs Can Do: The DM can have a good session just aimed at figuring out a good way for the PCs to save the water falling heavily from the sky on a very dry soil. This is a life and death situation.
Mivosian Troops 100 Miles North of Parthenaeum.
Location: 72 miles due north of Town of Deletria, 100 miles northeast of Town of Parthenaeum, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: Going along the driest portions of the savannah, the Mivosian troops are at their closest to the towns of Parthenaeum and Deletria. A mounted party of ten soldiers is sent to each settlement to help them organise and coordinate the war efforts to come. They have orders to enlist every able-bodied male over the age of 15 and have them ready for combat around Polakatsikes at the latest in early Felmont. (See Fl. 15, Ya. 12; Ya. 23, Ya. 24.)
What This Means: The unexpected delay the Mivosian troops had to endure does not allow them to rest in the conquered cities along the road. Also, the officers are worried that the closer they get to the river, the more difficult it shall be to go on. Entrusting some qualified officers to enlist and train troops might win them precious days or even weeks.
What the PCs Can Do: Mivosian PCs might be sent to the two towns to recruit and train new troops.
Yarthmont 22, AC 1019
No Trespassing on Our Lands.
Location: Bear Clan Lands, Atruaghin Territories And City of Akesoli, Republic of Darokin. OW
Description: A squatters' camp in Bear Clan lands is burned by Atruaghin warriors from Falcon and Rattlesnake. There are no fatalities among the miners, but this act may trigger retaliation against the Bear Clan villages. (See Fl. 2, Ya. 5; Kl. 17, Kl. 20.)
What This Means: The attack was the initiative of a group of hot-blooded warriors, who acted against the advice of their chiefs and elders, but enough Bear Clan villagers were tired of seeing their hunting and farming grounds overrun and destroyed, with the Darokinian government doing nothing to stop the miners. Actually there is a political struggle in Akesoli, as Umbarth House would like to stop the squatters in order to preserve its trade with the Atruaghin, while the young and daring Ystran House would like to mine the gold to enrich itself while reducing Umbarth's profits. Umbarth House suspects that one of the great houses, maybe Franich or Toney, is secretly supporting Ystran House.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are Darokinian, they could expose the ploy of Ystran House, maybe working for Umbarth House or the DDC. If they are miners or adventurers hired by Ystran House they will have to fight the Atruaghin warriors, maybe provoking full-scale war if they kill some of them. If they are Atruaghin warriors they may try to scare the miners away from their lands without killing them.
Some Things Are Best Left Alone.
Location: Shire of Eastshire, Five Shires. OW
Description: After several weeks of continued disappearances, matters come to a head. Several clan elders urge their counterparts in Eastshire, especially those of the Journeyfoot Clan who live on the margins of the Blight Swamp, to help them find out what happened to their relatives. The responses range from full cooperation (including petitioning the Sheriff of Eastshire and his krondar to investigate) to reluctant promises of aid from clans based closer to the swamp. The eastern branch of the Journeyfoot Clan, which lives on the swamp's edge, promises nothing, saying that some things are best left undisturbed. (See Nu. 9; Fl. 17; Ya. 25, Fe. 1.)
What This Means: Although everyone acknowledges that the disappearances must stop, the responses given by those clans living on the swamp's edge are completely unexpected, and hint to many that there is a secret surrounding the swamp that those living near it are loath to divulge. Clan elders across the shires will demand answers, and action, but the sheriffs will be the ones who will take charge, since the issue is clearly one that threatens the well-being of the hin, and possibly the nation.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could be hired to commence investigations, in the place of the proper authorities.
Plague Area Evacuated.
Location: Region surrounding Village of Eburacum, Territory of Torionensis, Hinterlands, Thyatian Empire. DV
Description: After spreading throughout the countryside, the soldiers dispatched from Castra Alexandras have managed to evacuate all of the Thyatian citizens they could find who lived around the now-abandoned village of Eburacum. They now begin cordoning off the area by putting up signs along all of the trails entering the region, and notifying dominion rulers in neighbouring regions of the situation. (See Fl. 14, Ya. 4; Fe. 11, Fe. 27.)
What This Means: Fearing that whatever killed the people of Eburacum might spread to other settlements, the army tried to evacuate everyone that they could find who lived within ten miles of Eburacum. This was not an easy task, as much of this region of Torionensis has not been mapped out in detail, and many of the settlements tend to be isolated. The authorities hope that the disease might be better contained in this manner, until some means can be developed to eliminate it.
What the PCs Can Do: PCs could help locate and evacuate everyone living in the area. This might provide interesting roleplaying opportunities, as some of the people might not wish to give up the lands that they have carved out of the wilderness on the suspicion that some sort of disease might be present in their area.
Location: Sea of Dread, Thyatian Empire. OW
Description: The ship carrying Calahim Elsan from Minrothad City to the Thanegioth Archipelago is attacked by a trio of small sailing ships as it rounds the northern cape of Minrothad Island. The ships harass the vessel with arrows and slung canisters of Lucinian Fire; the attacks do little damage, but rivet the attention of the crew. After a few exchanges of fire, the unknown ships pull away.
The relief of the ship captain does not last long. Upon checking around for damages, his men discover that Calahim Elsan is gone. (See Ya. 19; Ya. 25, Kl. 6.)
What This Means: The attacking ships were a diversion, part of a plot concocted by Calahim's relatives to free the young man. While the obvious threat drew off the crew's attention, the actual prison break was carried out by an agent armed with several potions of gaseous form.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are travelling on the ship for some reason (it is scheduled to stop at a few other locations on the Thyatian mainland), they can assist in driving away the harassing ships possibly doing so very effectively, if they have access to spells such as fireball or dimension door. Any prisoners captured at this point will know nothing of the plot to free Calahim Elsan they were hired by middlemen.
Yarthmont 23, AC 1019
The Uneasy Realm.
Location: Town of Ciudad Tejillas, Estado de Almarrón, Savage Baronies. SC
Description: The Thyatian expedition arrives in Ciudad Tejillas. Barón Maximiliano de Almarrón y Escudor, upon hearing of the Thyatians' arrival, sends a delegation to meet them, and escort them to his chambers, as soon as they have cleared customs.
Once the Thyatians have arrived, Barón Maximiliano accepts Cassandra Massalios, a leading Thyatian merchant, as Thyatian ambassador, and, over a light meal, questions his guests extensively as to the purpose of their visit, and their plans. Paulus and his associates answer the questions truthfully, yet ensure that only the most necessary information is conveyed. Seemingly satisfied, Barón Maximiliano wishes his guests all the best during their stay in his country, and expresses his fondest hopes for friendly relations with the empire. (See Ya. 2, Ya. 18; Kl. 2, Kl. 9.)
What This Means: Although it is relatively new to the region, Thyatis is aware of the recent unsuccessful bid by Narvaez to conquer its neighbours, and of the unsettled situation in Gargoña and Almarrón in the latter case due to the machinations of Don Esteban, whose current whereabouts are unknown. As a result, Paulus and the rest of the expedition can certainly understand why Barón Maximiliano would be suspicious of outsiders; they might be in the employ of his rival, or they might have their own designs on his country.
Nevertheless, Barón Maximiliano is well aware of what is required in diplomatic circles, and he knows full well what might happen if the Thyatians were treated with hostility the town of Kladanovic is now an outpost of the Thyatian Empire because of an initial altercation, the news of which spread quickly throughout the Gulf of Hule region. Besides, Thyatis could be a useful ally, if Narvaez embarks on another expansionistic drive.
The Thyatians ensured that their host did not learn the true intent of their visit although Paulus is sure that Barón Maximiliano has already figured it out namely, not only to forge ties with the baronies; but also to get a sense of the balance of power. Although Thyatis harbours no ill intentions towards the baronies, there is no benefit in making substantial political or economic investments in a nation that is either weak, or is unlikely to have much influence of its own in the region. The Thyatians know full well that the Almarróñans heard about their visit to Narvaez, and wish to know whether or not a strategic alliance was made, so that they can respond appropriately a Thyatian alliance with Narvaez could change the balance of power in the region.
What the PCs Can Do: Assuming that the PCs are part of the expedition, they could be present at the initial meeting. Otherwise, they could be given the task of investigating the political situation in Almarrón.
Desperia in Sight.
Location: Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: Invigorated by the water they have saved in their waterskins, the party reaches the first slope upon which Desperia is built at midnight. A strangely large eagle flies away from the city at dawn and a very loud roar is heard, echoing all around them. The city is ruined and seems to have vomited sand from its open gates.
Determined to have a general tour of the city by noon, the party circles the ruined city walls and comes back to its starting point, the southern gate. As they pass through the gates, they are welcomed by a terrible roar. A sphinx is looking down at them from a nearby pedestal; they had thought it was a mere statue. Bertolucius, who is at the head of the group, falls down to his knees trembling and shaking. The other members seem frozen in fear. Alatia steps forward and salutes the noble creature, who asks them their business. They answer that they are here on an archaeological mission to determine what has befallen this city. The sphinx looks at each one of them, gazing into their eyes, and finally says that they are free to wander the ruins as long as they don't take anything away without his consent. Should they disobey his advice, he will bring doom upon them. He has them all swear on the sacred name of Vanya to obey his instructions. (See Ya. 18, Ya. 21; Ya. 24, Kl. 5.)
What This Means: The sphinx goes by the name of Pharias. His mate Helenia left the city at dawn to hunt in the jungle. They were both assigned the task of guarding the city's contents against thieves and pillagers. They are both very powerful spell-casters and could crush the party should it attack them or disobey them.
They were also assigned another, far more important mission: To have the fate of the city serve as a lesson for future generations. They must tell the truth about the city, its history, or its contents, but only if asked a direct question. The more precise the question, the less they can be vague in their answers. Because of all the time they have spent here, they consider themselves the true masters of the city. They were also gifted with a special divinatory power: They can see mental images of the history of any object coming from the city and presented to them. But this is often a painful experience, because in the last days the city's inhabitants were treated very cruelly by their ruler.
The original name of Desperia was Pyris. It was later called Desperia by a Milenian scholar who heard about its history and fate. This city is the first settlement of colonists from the Pyrithian Archipelago when they crash-landed on Mystara. They built a great city with stone and a crystalline marble that they knew how to produce, and lived there for at least a century, until a queen ascended the throne and swept the whole city with her madness. Turning the people away from the worship of nature, she planned on becoming an Immortal (she was a very powerful wizardess) and needed to change the surrounding region accordingly. Unfortunately, she planned on changing everything into a kind of living mineral full of magical energy she could tap into, including her own folk, who would then have become her first followers. Many druids and priests saw the folly of this plan, and they led a great portion of the populace away, retreating into the forests many miles westwards, where they became the Emerondians.
A couple of months after they fled, she made her move. Up to that point she had been polluting the city's wells with a special potion to gradually change her people into living minerals, but sensing the people murmuring and voicing their discontent against her day after day (ever since the exodus to what is now Emerond), she decided she could no longer wait, and used a certain artifact her minions had recovered somewhere else to extend her spell to the whole city and surrounding region.
Unfortunately for her, either the spell was flawed or the artifact malfunctioned, and she turned every single person in the city into a precious gem while everything else not already made of stone was petrified or turned to a pile of sand, from plants to objects, within 30 miles of her palace (encompassing the whole city and some of the surrounding farms). Even the waterways became dust and she found herself trapped inside a statue of herself, in the heart of the palace, unable to leave.
The innocent Pyrithians were turned to diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds while the agents of the mad queen were turned into rubies. The more powerful the people were, the most valuable the gem they were turned into. They now lie everywhere in the city, covered by the drifting sands. Only the rubies were collected by another guardian, who is in charge of defending the secret tower of the mad queen where her most valuable items were kept.
What the PCs Can Do: Their first mission could be to map the general layout of the city. Though tedious, this can hasten their search for the artifact.
Mivosian Recruiting Party for Deletria Destroyed.
Location: 20 miles north of Town of Deletria, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: One of the Milenian raiding parties sent to patrol the area spots a small Mivosian recruiting party riding south toward Deletria. They follow their orders not to let any Mivosian in or out of the city. Thus, they ambush the Mivosians, and none escape alive. The bodies are buried and the horses taken. (See Fl. 4, Fl. 9; Ya. 24, Kl. 21.)
What This Means: Parthenaeum's Heldannic commander, Father Sigmund, knew that such measures would need to be taken if Mivosians tried to enter or leave Deletria. To prevent them from informing Mivosia of the recent events in the region, they had to slay everyone.
What the PCs Can Do: "Civis pacem para bellum," if you want peace, prepare yourself for war.
Rear Guard under Attack.
Location: 70 miles northeast of Town of Deletria, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: One of the Meghalan raiding parties, which was patrolling the wilderness around Parthenaeum and Deletria, has been observing the Mivosian troops for some days now, and waited for the best time to launch an attack. It's just a skirmish, where hidden mounted archers shoot volleys of arrows and ride away. (See Ya. 12, Ya. 21; Ya. 23, Ya. 24.)
What This Means: The Meghalan raiders have received orders to observe and try to delay as much as possible any Mivosian troops heading southeast. The Mivosians are surprised to meet a Heldannic force so far from Polakatsikes in a territory they were supposed to control. But the Heldannic force is too small to be a real threat for them, so they quickly stop giving chase.
What the PCs Can Do: Hunt or be hunted, and vice versa.
Yarthmont 24, AC 1019
Mivosian Recruiting Party for Parthenaeum Tricked.
Location: 10 miles northeast of Town of Parthenaeum, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: At sunset a Milenian raiding party surveying the region locates a group of Mivosian riders going straight to Parthenaeum. Being only as numerous as the Mivosians they decide to pursue them, but not to attack them.
Later that night the Mivosians arrive in the vicinity of Parthenaeum's walls. The Mivosian colours are still hanging on the gates so they rush into the citadel expecting shelter. The gates are closed and to their amazement several dozen archers are aiming arrows at them. They are disarmed and put in jail where they are to be interrogated. (See Fl. 9, Ya. 23; Kl. 21.)
What This Means: The Milenians realised they were not numerous enough to be sure to kill every Mivosian, so they decided to push them toward Parthenaeum where the Mivosians would logically look for help and shelter and find out too late that it is no longer under Mivosian rule. Their plan worked.
Now there is little chance to see help coming from Parthenaeum to Mivosian-held territories around Polakatsikes. Yet Deletria must be secured and re-conquered. Plans will be made to take care of the Deletrian problem.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could mislay the Mivosians into the trap. Mivosian PCs could sense the ambush and try to avoid it, with maybe enough intelligence to try and alter the course of the war, though they are sure to be chased relentlessly by their enemies.
Location: Ruined City of Pyris/Desperia, Hills of Desolation, Jungle Coast. DV
Description: The first excavations are made around what appears to be the city's main administrative building. No detect magic spell is working, but many precious stones are unearthed. They are secured and kept by the highest-ranking cleric of the party to be given to Pharias at the end of the day.
Alatia has a pleasant time talking to Pharias. He wants to know more about her, the place she comes from, and their archaeological mission. Conscious that she will ask him soon about the city, he volunteers an alternate version of the story of Pyris. According to the account he gives, madness struck the queen ruling the city of Pyris when she attempted to focus and catalyse her powers in a strange artifact called the Conqueror's Heart. She wanted to join the Immortals of Entropy as an equal and her pride was punished by the true Immortals who judged her unworthy to join Their ranks. Thus They cursed her and her whole people, turning them into precious stones. She is, according to the legend, still standing in her treasure vault, trapped inside the ruby statue she was turned into. (See Ya. 21, Ya. 23; Kl. 5, Kl. 5.)
What This Means: Unknown to the party (or the PCs), only spells cast from a magical scroll can function inside the city, and with an accuracy of only 10% + 1% per level of the spellcaster attempting to cast the spell on the scroll.
The story Pharias tells Alatia is just a trick to learn more about their real intentions, their strength, and dedication to their mission. He can read their minds and so learned about many aspects of their mission. He is well aware of where to look for the artifact, but wants to know more about them before telling them anything more specific, unless directly asked.
On her side, Alatia wants to keep a low profile, not asking too much about the artifact, for fear of having their true intentions discovered. She has no way to suspect Pharias's duplicity.
What the PCs Can Do: Dig and find precious stones. If brought back to Pharias and asked about them, he can tell them the history of the people who became those gems. Remember that the more precise the questions, the more precise the answers. The PCs should not learn the whole story too fast.
Yarthmont 25, AC 1019
Expedition to Blight Swamp Announced.
Location: City of Shireton, Shire of Seashire, Five Shires. OW
Description: The Council of Sheriffs of the Five Shires announces an expedition to the Blight Swamp, to uncover its deadly secret. The sheriffs ask for stalwart hin to volunteer for this mission, and indicate that generous rewards are in the offing. In the meantime, further exploration by hin is forbidden, and the Sheriff of Eastshire instructs his krondar to patrol the fringes to deter the curious. (See Fl. 17, Ya. 22; Fe. 1, Fe. 4.)
What This Means: This is pretty much as it looks, an announcement of a mission to the swamp cue the PCs.
What the PCs Can Do: This is the ideal hook to get the PCs involved, as they will likely have been hearing about the disappearances (and some of the wild theories surrounding them) for some time now. Armed with information concerning the last known whereabouts of certain prospectors, the PCs will be expected to make their way to the swamp, and find out what really happened. Subsequent events are based around an NPC party, but the DM should replace them with the PCs if applicable. The suggestion of a reward is genuine; should the PCs meet with success, the Council of Sheriffs will be quite generous.
News of a Jailbreak.
Location: City of Minrothad, Exarchate of Minrothad, Thyatian Empire. OW
Description: Word of the escape of Calahim Elsan reaches Minrothad City. Thyatian officials immediately issue a notice for the young man's arrest, and the constabulary begins searching for Calahim, as well as questioning other members of the Elsan family. They deny any knowledge of his whereabouts. (See Ya. 19, Ya. 22; Kl. 6.)
What This Means: The disconnect between Thyatian justice and Minrothaddan tradition is becoming more obvious. Oran Meditor's position as the Exarch of Minrothad is not much help here; he may have a good understanding of the disconnect between Thyatian and Minrothaddan customs, but he cannot act on it too openly without being accused of favouritism by one side or another.
The Elsan elders actually don't know anything about Calahim's whereabouts though it will be difficult for them to convince the exarch of that. For now, their political status keeps them from being arrested or interrogated, but every day that passes without results lessens their protection.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs can work for any of several parties the Thyatians, the Elsan clan, or another family to locate Calahim Elsan. This is the set-up for the adventure Scales of Justice.
Yarthmont 26, AC 1019
Location: Sea of Dread, off the coast of City of Alinquin, Kingdom of Dawnrim, Continent of Bellissaria, Nayce. AS
Description: A pair of Naycese submersibles, the Craek and Luthos, begin patrols of the area. By day's end, they are joined by a third submersible, the Myntas. They search the region, seeing signs of undead activity, but cannot locate their quarry. (See Ya. 21; Fe. 2, Fe. 4.)
What This Means: The report of undead massing near Dawnrim is disturbing for Nayce. The undead have mostly focused their attention on the ruins of the sunken Alphatian continent the recent sighting spells the possible expansion of the undead activities. However, with just a vague sighting, Nayce is unsure where the undead are and where they are headed. They could be moving against the kingdoms on Bellissaria or the Alatian Islands.
Dawn of Prophecy.
Location: City of Darokin, Republic of Darokin. OW
Description: Millington Vonaday has heard of the capture of Shadow. Learning from sources in the DDC that her real name is Dawn Henry, he immediately begins to wonder if this might have a connection to the clues mentioning dawn and shadow that he learned from the Oracle of Honour Island in Ierendi last year. If he is right, however, Shadow would have to be reunited with "Dusk," which might be a reference to a specific item, place, or person from her past.
Eager to explore further, Millington Vonaday meets with the captured thief. He learns that all her relatives are dead as far as she knows, and mentioning the word "Dusk" does not jog her memory. After hours of interrogation, Millington is frustrated and ends the interview as he ponders whether she is feigning ignorance or simply does not know. As a thief, she might have secrets she wants to protect, but since Millington feels she can only improve her current situation by being truthful, he begins doubting whether she is the Dawn he has been looking for. (See Th. 5, Ya. 19; Kl. 11, Kl. 13.)
What This Means: Actually Shadow is quite truthful and the word Dusk simply doesn't have any particular importance for her. Given her background, Millington might be excused for doubting her word, though. Either way, Millington Vonaday's attempts to uncover the mystery behind the Itheldown curse continue. Though this may not seem so, he has just found a major clue to the puzzle he is trying to solve.
Yarthmont 27, AC 1019
Ilioloostians under Attack!
Location: Ten days west of Town of Polakatsikes, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: The Ilioloostian vanguard is violently attacked by hundreds of humanoids. The sheer force of the attack separates a group of fifty pikemen from the rest of the army. Soon, the cavalry recovers and repels the humanoids. The mutilated bodies of the pikemen are found later. Some of the aggressors are identified as being ogres, orcs and gnolls. Tracks of heavier, unidentified foes are present too. (See Ya. 14, Ya. 21; Ya. 28, Kl. 3.)
What This Means: Many creatures other than peaceful nomad herders have fled the desert for a better life. This time, the army has encountered a strong force of humanoids, who were not willing to share a square inch of their newly-acquired territory. Their attack was coordinated, which leads officers to believe that the leaders of these clans are to be treated as dangerous and bold. The army slows down to be ready to face any similar threat. They now decide to move by daylight only and rest at night, because monsters have better night vision than humans.
What the PCs Can Do: Chase the monsters! And don't get caught.
The Rules for the Race Are Stated.
Location: City of Baraga, Merry Pirates Seas. HW
Description: A group of captains who have volunteered to oversee the race announce that the rules are unchanged. All ships have to start in Baraga and must enter the harbours of Floresque, Puerto Morillos, Kota-Jayang and, again, Baraga. Like before, King Necco the Black has promised to sponsor a prize for the winner. The race will start on Fyrmont 24, and the last day for registering for the contest will be Fyrmont 20. Dirty tricks are allowed, of course. (See Ya. 1, Ya. 2; Fy. 3, Fy. 20.)
What This Means: Although more ships will be competing this time, it was agreed that additional rules would not be needed
Yarthmont 28, AC 1019
Signatory Council Meets.
Location: Town of Ciudad Huelca, Estado de Guadalante, Savage Baronies. SC
Description: The Treaty of Tampicos Signatory Council meets to discuss the exceptional circumstances of the invasion of Terra Vermelha by the signatory Barony of Torreón. Guadalante a country not directly concerned with the events in Terra Vermelha or the recent Narvaezan Wars is hosting and presiding the extraordinary meeting. Attending are representatives of Cimarron, Almarrón, Saragón, Vilaverde, Texeiras, Torreón, and Hule. A representative of Narvaez is also present, claiming to represent Gargoña (even though the other baronies do not recognise Narvaezan control of Gargoña only a part of it is under Narvaezan control anyway); despite Almarrón and Saragón's strong opposition, as they feel allowing it would give a seal of approval to Narvaez's war.
The debate is centred on determining what is the goal of Torreón, after it broke the Treaty of Tampicos, and its representative is pressed with questions. Don Augusto states that the intent of Torreón is not to ignite war among the baronies, but that Terra Vermelha is essential to Torreón's future and its annexation irrevocable. Baronesa Isabel is willing to ratify a new treaty, one that would recognise her barony's ownership over the red lands. While the Narvaezan delegate is quite supportive of the idea, and implies that Barón Hugo may ratify such a treaty, Texeiras and Vilaverde are enraged at Torreón's proposal, while the Hulean delegate declares that the Great Hule recognises only the original Treaty of Tampicos as valid. Despite the efforts of the western baronies, no compromise can be found at this time. (See Th. 16, Fl. 9; Kl. 17, Fy. 3.)
What This Means: Torreón has broken the Treaty of Tampicos that guaranteed some stability among the Savage Baronies. While this does not mean a diplomatic solution can't be hammered out at some later point, for now it is the signal of a period of chaos in the region. Everyone will be busy trying to score as many successes as possible, be they political or military or otherwise, in order to be in the best position when the time comes to negotiate again. At this game, Torreón already has scored a big one, with its early takeover of Terra Vermelha, but the game has just begun.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs will be living in interesting times. Name level PCs may use the ambient chaos to try to establish their own baronies.
Location: Falun Caverns, Kingdom of Soderfjord. OW
Description: The increasingly embattled gnomes of the Falun Caverns note the arrival of a group of three humans, dressed in heavy cloaks and not bearing a banner of any sort. The gnomish sentries hail the newcomers, and ask them to politely state their business or leave while they can, explaining that Soderfjord is unsettled frontier land, and it is often hard to determine whether a person is friend or foe.
One of the humans identifies himself as Hermann Adalard, of Heldann; he and his companions have heard of the gnomes' plight, and have come to make an offer to them, if they would listen. Intrigued, the gnomes give them permission to enter, but order them to leave their weapons with them. (See Ya. 16, Ya. 20; Kl. 7, Kl. 11.)
What This Means: Ordensmeisterin Anna von Hendriks has thought long on the Kildorkak dwarves' need for gnomish engineering talent if they are to build her the zeppelins she thinks will be necessary to win the civil war. Not long afterwards, she sent out emissaries to locate sizeable gnomish communities throughout the Old World, and determine whether some of them might wish to relocate to Heldann to help her, in exchange for payment, or whatever the gnomes wished (the latter would be subject to negotiation, of course). Using travel spells, her agents contacted communities in Karameikos, Darokin, and Thyatis, but none were willing to leave their homes. One of the agents learned, however, of the predicament of the gnomish colony in the Falun Caverns, all the more tragic because those caves were inhabited by the gnomes centuries ago, and then taken away by kobolds. Thinking that these gnomes, if any still lived, might be more amenable to Heldannic offers of cooperation, Anna ordered her agents, led by Hermann Adalard, the former Landmeister of Oceansend, to locate the caverns, and travel there.
What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could be part of the party sent to the Falun Caverns.
Queen's Spy Caught.
Location: Town of Krakatos, Kingdom of Karameikos. OW
Description: The Alphatian wizard Telokar of Frisland, a former commander in the Alphatian army and now a professor of Conjuration and Summoning at the Karameikan School of Magecraft, is giving a lecture to a class of promising students when he is asked an intriguing question by a Traladaran pupil regarding the possibility of summoning and controlling a nosferatu (a common type of vampire in the dark woods of Karameikos). Telokar passwalls from the classroom to his adjacent study to fetch some documents pertaining to the subject, only to find himself looking at a dark-clad figure rummaging through his books (including some spellbooks and magical scrolls). The thief swings about and throws a dart at him, but Telokar is protected by a permanent protection from normal missiles (a must-have for battlemages) and the dart is deflected. Telokar, however, does not miss his reflexive counter-attack as he conjures up a deadly effective flame arrow. Telokar casts a few spells to protect himself against further attacks (he wizard locks the door and casts various defensive spells), then wishes to speak with the dead. The thief is revealed to be a spy working for the queen, and was watching the wizard's activities for indications of a possible betrayal. (See Th. 15, Fl. 14; Kl. 1, Kl. 7.)
What This Means: Telokar was one of the Alphatians that Queen Olivia put under close scrutiny, due to his background, as she suspects some Alphatians might have other loyalties outside the kingdom. The spy was searching through Telokar's papers while he was giving a lecture, not expecting him to magically drop by. She quickly sensed the wizard's appearance, and threw a poisoned dart (a sleep-inducing poison) to immobilise him, but she was no match for the battle-hardened conjurer.
What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are Alphatians in Karameikos, they may be the ones who discover and expose the queen's espionage.
Pincer Attack on Jibarú.
Location: Kingdom of Jibarú, Orc's Head Peninsula. SC
Description: Two pincers of manscorpions cross the border from Ankesh into Jibarú, and two more from the Wind Flats. Phanatons scouts easily spot the large forces marching into their forests, and glide ahead of them to warn the elders of the threat.
Soon, the phanatons organise small parties that harass the Nimmurians, who have difficulty fighting effectively in the forest. The manscorpions from Ankesh press on, however, and destroy any villages they are able to spot. The pincers from Suneveh halt their advance as soon as skirmishes with phanatons erupt, however; puzzled, the phanatons watch as the enemy army sets camp, setting up a defence perimeter around their tents and bonfires. Then, archers take positions near the bonfires, and start firing burning arrows at the trees! The phanatons gasp in horror as the trees catch fire, and soon the forest is ablaze, the fire spreading east under the strong winds coming from the Wind Flats. (See Nu. 17, Fl. 16; Fe. 15, Fe. 25.)
What This Means: This is the beginning of the joint campaign of Suneveh and Ankesh against Jibarú. While the phanatons were watching for a possible attack from the south although none of that magnitude had ever been mounted they were not aware of the presence of manscorpions in the inhospitable Wind Flats, and were less prepared on that front, but phanatons scouts and warriors reacted quickly anyway.
Prince Enshurnasirpal of Suneveh had a well thought-out plan ready, though: burning the forest. The wind blows east from the sea, undiminished by the Wind Flats, and although it is a wet wind in this forthcoming period of the year it does not bring enough rainfall, so that it fuels the forest fire more than it quenches it. The forest of Jibarú will be burning, and the Suneveh Nimmurians can march behind it, no longer at a disadvantage. Besides, all the land cleared will provide good pasture in the future, from which Suneveh can profit in its bid for northern expansion.
What the PCs Can Do: Phanaton PCs must devise a way to stop the Nimmurian army, or their whole forest will be destroyed! At the same time, they should also try to help fellow phanatons and forest animals escape the clutches of the blaze.
Alpha Leaves Nayce.
Location: City of Alpha, Kingdom of Alpha, Nayce. NW
Description: King Ericall announces that the Kingdom of Alpha, along with all its vassals, is no longer part of Nayce. A message is sent to the great powers of the region that were not present at the Norwold Confederacy convention: Thyatis, Heldann, the dragons of the Wyrmsteeth, and of course to the Naycese Council. Alpha will welcome a manageable level of emigration from Nayce, however. King Ericall also reaffirms the friendship between Alpha and Nayce, and their common Alphatian heritage, but says that, for the benefit of stability in Norwold, the two must go their separate ways and part peacefully. (See Ya. 10, Ya. 15; Kl. 1, Kl. 19.)
What This Means: This is a consequence of Nayce's meddling with the affairs of Norwold an unsolicited interference that threatened the stability of the region, whereas Nayce never assisted Alpha in its times of need. If the Naycese Council proceeds with its plan, King Ericall wants to point that Alpha is not involved in it. In order to avoid any unpleasantness by the more radical of the councillors, Ericall will scrupulously follow the procedure for leaving the Alphatian confederation. Norwold is not a very populated area, though, so Ericall will allow emigrants from Nayce to settle in Norwold (in fact, Norwold was never closed to emigration), although he hopes that the council will not send by force boatloads of rebellious, poor servants who are not fit for living in the cold climate of Norwold. The king intends to turn every such servant into a free settler, as per Alpha's law, which differs from the Alphatian imperial law.
Location: Seven days west of Town of Polakatsikes, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV
Description: Once again, the army is under attack. Projectiles of all kinds rain down on the Ilioloostians. Turtle position is ordered and battle mages loose their spells at the enemy. The toll is heavy for the humanoids, whose first wave is stopped short. But soon trolls show up and throw big rocks, which crush the Ilioloostian lines. To their surprise the rocks turn into earth elementals sorcery!
The cavalry, which had so far stayed behind, now enters the fray, cutting through the orcish ranks and charging the trolls. The humanoids finally retreat but many men lie wounded or dead. Some humanoids are taken prisoner to be interrogated. The elementals are dispelled by the battle mages. (See Ya. 21, Ya. 27; Kl. 3, Kl. 5.)
What This Means: The Ilioloostian vanguard has once again been violently attacked by hundreds of unknown humanoids, but the regular army managed to repel the attack after suffering numerous casualties. It's clear now that there are powerful shamans among the humanoids.
The army is once again slowed in its journey. The wounded must be taken care of, and the dead buried.
What the PCs Can Do: Stay alive, and save the day by accomplishing a glorious act.
Topic of the Month
The Mountain of Bones
What follows is an extract from the journal of Julius Ambrosius, following his ill-fated visit to the so-called "Mountain of Bones," in the Isles of Steam.
Yarthmont 8, AC 1019
I cannot allow what I have seen to be forgotten... the Mountain of Bones holds a great secret, a secret that, I think, must be linked to the stories told to me by the Isoinia elves. Bless them for leading me to this wondrous discovery; curse them for leading me to that which took the lives of many good friends.
We passed through that doorway with high hopes; I felt within my bones that we would discover something great here. That we did we found a dusty staircase, which led down into the bowels of the mountain, or so it seemed. This led into a large chamber, with narrow slits carved into one wall that allowed us to view the shoreline, and our ship, far below. As we did not notice these openings before, no doubt they are well hidden.
The room was roughly crescent-shaped, with dusty stone benches lining the walls. We noted that they were proportioned for man-sized creatures, which led me to believe that this place was built, and inhabited, by men. The walls were covered with the remains of frescos, but the colours were so faded, and so many tiles were missing, that none of us could figure out what they once depicted. Julius Octavius, nevertheless, took the time to copy some of them in his sketchbook while the rest of us examined the room more closely.
The stairs continued downwards at the other side of the room, and so we continued our descent. We must have walked down another five hundred steps, during which time I noticed alcoves branching off of the stairway at irregular intervals. Although many of these had collapsed, some of them turned out to be tunnels that led off into darkness. If we had only been more cautious in our descent, we could have explored one or more of them, but thinking back upon what we discovered, I think it best that we did not venture into these tunnels. For some reason, I am certain that all of those tunnels would have led to our deaths. After what seemed like an interminably long descent, we found ourselves in another chamber, this one much larger than the one we had just visited. Looking up, I could not see the ceiling; the light from our lanterns provided only a tiny globe of light in what seemed to be an endless vault of deepest night. Flavius urged me to turn back, claiming that he felt we were being watched. I remember dismissing his concerns, and urging the rest of the party to press on.
We took the time to circumnavigate the room, which was bare, rectangular, and at least 100 feet by 80 feet! It truly must have been a tremendous feat of engineering for so ancient a people to excavate such a large chamber, for the walls were exceedingly smooth to the touch, and, as far as our light carried, we noticed that they were covered with frescos this time many of them were largely intact!
I wish I could capture on parchment the sheer joy I felt at seeing them! The rich colours of the tiles themselves were breathtaking, as though they had been mounted yesterday. The level of detail the artists achieved was nothing short of astounding; the ships shown sailing at sea were amazingly realistic, as were the tiny men manning them. Other scenes depicted columns of men marching to war, and people building houses, tilling fields, and fishing. In several places on the walls, some sort of writing, in a flowing script, was visible. Julius Severnus must have been in paradise, judging from the speed at which he was copying what he saw. What was more astounding, to me, than anything else, was the fact that the frescos continued upwards into the darkness! If only there were more light! Even now, as I write this, I cannot help but wonder at the work required to perform such a feat! Truly, the men who built that stronghold were wonders of their age!
What drew my attention most of all was the great map that dominated the northern wall of that room. Like the other works of art on the walls, it was done as a fresco, but it presented the surrounding region. Few of the coastlines were familiar to me, based on what we had seen thus far, but after careful study I recognised the outlines of Cestia and Oceania. But it was different in many ways. The angle was wrong; the map presented north as being what we would consider northwest, and Cestia itself was a peninsula of Davania, joined to the mainland by a narrow land bridge. Seeming to counterbalance the landmasses of Cestia and Oceania was a large island almost a continent, I suppose that lay roughly southwards, not far east of a long peninsula that stretched southeast from the Davanian landmass. Each area was labelled with that same flowing script that we had seen elsewhere in the room, but that island seemed special. The lettering was larger, and there was a gold, star-shaped pattern in the mosaic in the island's centre. Clearly this was a land of importance. Needless to say, I copied the map as best I could, including the script.
But that place must have had a curse laid upon it. If only I had not been so entranced by what I had found in an adjoining room, and if only my companions had not found the other treasures that lay therein, we would have left those lightless chambers, and many good men would still be alive today. The memory of those lost men weighs heavily upon me I fear it shall always be so. I cannot explain how I noticed that faint light that emanated from a low doorway in one corner of that immense room, but I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Someone must have seen what I was doing, for I suddenly found myself being held back by a couple of men, straining at their efforts; I was not aware of what I was doing, or where I was going. That frightened me, but I resolved to find out what was drawing me to that doorway, and I pointed it out to my companions, who reacted as though it had appeared suddenly in the wall. Agathokles swore that he had seen nothing but bare stone there beforehand. We went through the doorway, although Flavius, Matthias, and Demetrios decided to stay outside; they preferred the open space of the large room.
The doorway led into a smaller room, only 12 feet wide at most, and 20 feet deep. The ceiling was low the taller men in my party had to hunch over slightly and the walls, although smooth like those in the larger room, were unadorned. Several piles of dusty debris lined the walls, which Marcus said were the remains of ancient wooden furniture, some of which disintegrated at his touch. What drew our attention, however, was the source of the faint glow itself a stone table, carved with sun patterns, bearing what looked like a golden star about as wide as my hand. Without thinking, without realising what I was doing, I found myself at the table, holding the star in my hand. It pulsed warmly in my grasp, beating as though it were a living heart. As it beats now in my hand as I write this. I did not see what my companions were doing; I had eyes only for the star, drawn as I was into the fine swirls carved into its surface.
Within those fine designs I saw a great sea, and I was tossed high overhead by the winds. I felt no fear I felt nothing at all and I drifted where I was carried. I do not know how long I flew; there was only the sky, the sun, and the endless sea. I then saw land far away, which grew quickly in my field of vision. I must have been flying very quickly! Soon I saw that it was a hilly island, cloaked with dense forest, beyond which was a larger landmass. I soared over the island, and ahead of me I saw a great bay, bracketed by steep hillsides. Onward I flew, and soon I was over land it must have been a very large island, or a small continent and to one side I saw a steep mountain chain rising from the plains and hills below. It seemed that I would fly into the mountains themselves, and then, at the last moment, I flew upwards. I could almost touch the mountainside below me as it rushed by. And suddenly my momentum died away, and before me was a flattened mountaintop, upon which someone had built a white temple, with a single golden dome. I was then jolted by a voice, which said but one word that sounded like "seron," and then I was hurled away with great force. I could do nothing but watch the temple and the island recede into the distance, and then everything faded to blackness. And then I was standing in the small room once again, looking at the golden star in my hand.
Julius Severnus had shaken me back to my senses; I had spent many minutes in a reverie. My companions had found a stone chest nestled in a corner, and had smashed it open. Inside, they had found gold coins, dried leather cylinders sealed with wax, and several heavily tarnished daggers and short swords. They were talking excitedly about their find they had been for several minutes, said Julius, who had noticed that I was not reacting to the noise, but staring blindly at the star. A cold, crushing fear gripped my heart at that moment we had to leave! But when I turned to my men, the shouts of glee had turned into screams; several great, many-legged horrors had sidled into the room, and were attacking my companions! I saw Maximus falter under the blows of one creature, its strangely human forelimbs bearing a wicked-looking blade. He went to one knee, and was run through by the monster, which then bore the man under its weight, tearing at his flesh while he yet lived. I could not shut out his screams, yet I had to if I wished to live. I gathered Julius and Agathokles to me, and we helped Antonius dispatch the monster facing him. They were giant spiders larger than a small horse, I am sure whose forelegs ended with hands, and whose heads bore prominent lumps at the back. I knew with certainty that these beasts were intelligent, if they could wield weapons. All this passed through my mind in a blur we had to get out.
There were three of the beasts in the chamber with us, but there were seven of us remaining as well as Flavius, Matthias, and Demetrios in the large chamber, who even now might be fighting for their lives. The first monster was badly wounded by a well-thrown ax, and some of us made short work of it while the remainder confronted the other two unspeakable beasts. One of them raised a hand, and a glowing dart hit Antonius! They could cast spells. Antonius was stunned, but we managed to stab the creature several times before it could strike again, and soon we were covered in its vile ichor. Lucius was not so fortunate, for his opponent uttered a syllable, and a faint blue haze settled around the man, and he slumped to the ground in a deep sleep. Before we could reach him, the beast grabbed him, and bit him in the throat. By the time we killed the last spider, Lucius was bleeding profusely, and twitching violently poison! Marcus administered an antidote quickly, and Antonius dressed the wound as best he could. I knew the lad would have to be brought back to the ship quickly. Losing no time, we went back into the larger room, with Antonius and Marcus carrying Lucius, and Helena and Agathokles bearing the treasure from the stone chest. The star was in my hand, lighting the way faintly.
What we saw in the larger room was a horror greater than any I had ever seen. I pray to all that is virtuous that I do not see such a thing again. I wondered briefly how the spiders got past Flavius, Matthias, and Demetrios without raising an alarm, but I saw the poor men were caught unawares! As we entered the room, many large shadows retreated from our lanterns, and we saw the butchered remains of Demetrios and Flavius, their dead faces frozen with expressions of shock. Even now I grow sick at the memory of what I saw even the worst battles of the Crown War did not result in such animalistic, wanton savagery! No sane mind would dare do to a foe what was done to those two men. The only consolation, small as it was, was the sight of another three dead spiders. Of Flavius, there was no sign.
We wasted no more time, and ran like madmen to the stairs, away from the growing sounds of pursuit. A bright flash caught the corner of my eye, and I saw a bolt of light arc towards us! I shouted a warning, and we dove to the side, while the bolt exploded on the stairs ahead of us. The burst of light was intense, and I was blinded for a moment as were we all, I think but I was soon able to see again, and saw, just for a few seconds, what lay above us in that chamber. I remember starting with surprise, my stomach knotting in fear. Far above us, surrounded by the frescos that continued up to the ceiling, was a great patchwork of webs, so thick that they obscured the designs that graced that chamber's roof. Nestled in and suspended from those webs were dozens of round structures that were built of the same material. Amidst all this, and down the walls, crawled many more of the monsters. We had been exploring this chamber the lair of these foul creatures without realising that they had seen us, had been watching us the whole time! Spurred by fear, we stumbled our way up the stairs, and I grabbed one of the ancient short swords, for my own sword was lost after I fell.
That hellish ascent seemed unending. Marcus and Antonius carried Lucius in the middle of our group, while Helena and Agathokles took the lead and I covered the rear with Julius Severnus. All the while, we heard sounds of pursuit, and every so often Helena would fire a crossbow bolt into the gloom behind us, and sometimes be rewarded with an inhuman shriek. Several glowing bolts were hurled at us from below, and I was hit by one of them, but withstood the momentary agony and forged on. Soon, our group passed the first of the side tunnels we were getting close to the top but next to one of them a shadowy form dropped from the ceiling onto Helena, who collapsed under its weight! Agathokles was stunned with shock, and Marcus slashed madly with his sword at the beast several times, which squealed in pain. I urged Marcus and Antonius to get Lucius to safety, and with the others I set upon the spider. It was only then that I realised that this was a clever ruse to split us up.
As we attacked the creature, it gave up and withdrew, only to return with more of its kind, and accompanied by more of the beasts coming up the stairs. They knew we would try to aid a stricken comrade, and thus slow down. I realise now that these creatures are far more intelligent than I had first imagined too much so, I think. We fought as best we could, but something strange happened. I had never used a short sword before, yet the weapon felt comfortable in my hand, as though it had always been there. When I thrust and slashed, it was as though an expert hand was guiding my strokes, so that each one hit its mark, and the blade bit deeply into the creatures' foul flesh. I assumed fighting stances I did not know, and my body seemed to move on its own accord. That sword must have had a strong enchantment placed upon it, but I am grateful for it!
I do not know how we persevered, but we managed to force our way through our enemies; however, Julius Octavius was bleeding heavily, and gasping for breath. His eyes met mine as we ascended, and we both knew that he was not long for this world. He began to stagger, and soon fell to the ground. Helena tried to lift him again, but I stayed her with a hand, and after looking Julius in the eyes, asked her in a strangely disembodied voice to give him her crossbow and her remaining bolts. She complied quickly, and as she did so, Julius handed me his sketchbook, asking me in a faltering voice to ensure that his work would survive this day. I could do nothing but assent, not knowing why I had said what I did; I only knew that what was being done, had to be done. Amid the growing sounds of pursuit, Helena loaded the crossbow, and ran on, followed by Agathokles, who had tossed several flaming oil flasks down the stairs. Judging from the sounds, some of them hit our opponents. At the very least, the action had bought us more time. Julius clasped my arm, and told me not to regret this day, but to live on. I bid him farewell, and ran as though Thanatos Himself were behind me. Perhaps He was. I heard a defiant shout, a sharp twang, and another inhuman shriek. The sounds slowly receded. Another twang, followed by yet another cry of pain. I heard no further sounds of combat thereafter. May Solarios protect his spirit.
My lungs were on fire by the time I reached the crescent room again; the others were there. Without another word, we resumed our flight, and soon we were out in the open air once more. Words cannot describe the joy I felt at seeing the sun shining overhead we had spent the night underground. We fled down the mountainside back to our ship, where we were greeted by our crew. No one said anything, but everyone knew that five valiant men would not leave this island.
I sit here, wondering if the loss of five good men was worth what we found. A collection of coins, some old weapons, and mouldering scrolls so ancient and fragile that they began to crumble when I tried to unroll them that we cannot read without magical aid. Even now, Magister Galfridus is poring over those ancient documents, painstakingly translating those texts word by word. He has said very little about what he has read so far, mentioning only that they relate tales so ancient that they will challenge much that we take for granted about Mystaran history. Lying on my desk before me is Julius's old sketchbook, opened to the last thing he drew from the large chamber. It is that sailing ship that moved me so much it is only when I look at it closely that I see why this drawing should be so special. He copied the fresco exactly. Down to the last tile. Now this image will be burned into my memory, until the day I die. Never will I forget his sacrifice.
I also have the star, which glows warmly still, and, when I concentrate on it, I notice a faint tugging sensation to the south, as though the star is directing me there. There remains no other option now, but to follow it; our losses will have been meaningless if we turn back. Of this I am certain.