Episode 15: Following the Oracle
DowryCille pulls Magnus aside before the group heads off for sleep. "Yes Cille?" "You got the fact that Kallisto got a letter from home with her Dowry." "Sort of?" "Good Question. I have some confusion about the marital practices in the league. Dowry in empire means gift to take daughter into family. I don't know what that means in matrialineal family." "For a daughter to receive her dowry before selecting a partner, it means a couple of things. First it means that the daughter isn't likely to see her parents again. Second, it means she's free to select her own partner. Her parents no longer have any option to choose for her." Silence follows as Magnus processes this. Otlyn wanders by and mutters "Suck it Damian." Magnus flicks a glance at Otlyn. Instead of Joy however, Magnus seems more focused on the loss of her mother. Cille continues, "Now it will also bring up some really interesting things as far as the inheritance goes, especially that she's now a citizen here. But that has yet to be ironed out. Just so you're aware. She can make her own decisions." Cille then changes tone and "But I still think it'd be better politically for you to marry Ianthe..." Magnus cuts her off. "Thank you for input. It is something that we will figure out, although not at this moment or even perhaps a little while. We have saying in Empire, that has caused much grief. It is a saying that has started wars. 'The heart wants, what the heart wants.'" After a long pause, he continues. "My beliefs around the empire and its practices... a new course must be charted. The Church and perhaps the Empire, must be destroyed." As Ianthe walks by, Cille notices that he has a tendency to avoid making eye contact with Ianthe. Cille claps Magnus on the shoulder and wanders away muttering uner her breath. "That boy needs to get laid." Hestia wanders by with a broad grin. "How are you doin?" Magnus blushes. Hermione, walking past, looks between Hestia and Magnus. She sighs and continues on. Hestia nudges Magnus's shoulder. "Ignore her. Get some rest." In the early hours of the morning, a small figure knocks at Magnus's door. Stepping into one of the buildings set aside, she reaches into a bag of holding and with a bit of effort, removes the Dragonscale armor Vulcan made for her. She looks at Magnus, and confides quietly that she hasn't ever worn armor, and needs help getting into it. After Magnus agrees, they work to extract the armor from the bag. She looks at Magnus for a minute, and then without turning, she slips out of her dress. Magnus immediately turns around. She shakes her head in frustration and sighs "Hestia was right." In a commanding voice, she says, "Turn around and look at me. All of me." Magnus straightens and turns around, anger flashing. His brows come together, all hints of discomfort gone. After a few silent moments, she looks up at him. "I don't care what silly human church notions are dancing through your head. We're women, not some object or pet that you need to protect. Just because you've seen more of me than most men doesn't change anything. Don't avoid looking my way, treat me like something fragile that's going to break, or god forbid feel like you need to marry me to protect my honor. This isn't the empire. I am still the same person as before. Ianthe shakes with rage. She slowly calms down. "I am still your ally, and I hope, your friend." She looks down and whispers, so he alone can hear. "Don't avoid me. Don't try to force it from your mind or punish yourself, like it's some taboo. Just treat me like you did before. I want you to treat me as an equal." She reaches into the bag, and pulls out a closer fitting set of clothing suitable for wearing under the armor. She slips into the clothes without saying anything else. Magnus, snarls. "If you ever do that to me again, you'll see how I treat enemies." She doesn't say a word. Once dressed, she looks back up at him. "Now, can you help me get into this?" Magnus becomes business like. "Here, start with this clasp." His demeanour that of a knight guiding a trainee. As he goes through the process business like, Ianthe seems to relax, perhaps for the first time since coming to the island. Ianthe finishes and turns around, looking up. "Kallisto's a lucky woman. Treat her right." Without saying anything further she walks out the door. Magnus takes a few breaths, and continues getting ready. Darkness has fallen as you leave the city. You strike out along the roads leading north towards the mountain. Most of the small farmholds you pass are dark, either abandoned or asleep in the late evening hours. The green moon, Ven and the black moon Loog̀iik have risen and provide an alien tint to the ground you walk on. Further up, an owls on a fencepost lining the road, blinking its wide eyes at you, watching you pass. It makes no noise as its head follows your passage. Out in the field, a small family of foxes hunts for breakfast. The mists begin to gather as you climb further into the foothills. The terraced farmlands begin to give way to forests mixed with fir, spruce, oak and maple. The road you walk has given way to a dirt trail, used only by the remote farm stead closer to the mountain. The road begins to follow a small stream descending from the mountainside and feeding the fields. As the forest becomes more dense, the breezes from the north still and becomes more moist and warm. The trail fades to a game trail and shows little signs of recent use. in the distance, a mated pair of brown bears stalk the stream coming down from the mountain. Oblivious to you, they focus on their coming meal. The mists continue to thicken, making the trail harder to follow. You have to slow to be able to continue to follow the instructions, seeking out landmarks amongst the trees and surroundings. You notice that game has become scarce and the forest quiet except for the constant background noise of cicadas. About a kilometer or so from the mountain, you notice a change to th e trail underneath the mist. The previously unused trail has been joined by the signs of recent passage of a large group of humanoids, all coming in from the islands north. Though they have attempted to cover their tracks, moving such a large group through the thick forest makes the attempt futile. They have turned along the same trail you follow, towards the mountain and Eleusis. It's tough to tell the numbers on the troops in the night under the mist, but you'd estimate at least 50. A combination of warriors and some hunters. As you reach the base of the mountain, the mists have solidified nearly into an impassible wall, and swirl in the moonlight filtering between the dense treetops. As the group approaches the foot in the mountain along the path, you see the flickering orange lights of a dying campfire. Here at the base of the hill the mist is the strongest, with the campfire light diffusing fully throughout the clearing. They are able to make out an indeterminate number of warriors are gathered around a campfire, sleeping in the late hours of the morning. In the thick mist, it's impossible to make out sentries or other camp features from this distance. Magnus touches Hermione on the shoulder and then mimics shooting a bow towards the camp site. Hermione scouts forward and returns indicating two scouts. Magnus nods and quietly draws his blade. With that, Vulcan sprints silently into the mist and kills the first scout. Cille leans over to Otlyn and whispers. "Fireball." Otlyn grins and begins a quiet chant. A moment later a large ball of fire bursts over the top of the smodering campfire, engulfing the nine surrounding hobgoblins in flames. The mist clears as a result of the intense flames. The group works together to make short work of the remaining combatants.
A friend from homeMagnus notices the two human scouts amongst the dead. "These are Knights of Humanité." Cille walks over to the spellcaster and nonplused, severs the head. Magnus nods at Cille's actions. "I will search them, then we burn the bodies. What they brought with them, any orders..." As Magnus approaches to inspect the first scout killed, he begins to sprint towards the body. He drops near the body and begins first aid. Vulcan, looking at Magnus asks, "WHy are you saving him?" Magnus tersly responds "I know him. Childhood friend." Vulcan says "Ooops," and walks over to the body and casts a healing spell. The wound begins to slowly heal. Astor's eyes open and he whispers "Magnus?" Magnus gestures for the rest of the party to step back. "What are you doing here, Astor?" "What are you doing here?" he responds. "And why are you dressed like that?" "Good story. And in time, I will tell it to you in the full glory it deserves." He struggles to keep his focus. "They came right after you were sent away. Conscripts." Magnus lays on hands and pours in additional healing. "You wouldn't believe it. They came to the household. Conscripted anyone who could fight. Told me to scout," gesturing at the hobgoblins, "for those things." Magnus shakes his head. "I've spent last year in Akadimía. Learning. We're now citizens." Astor looks aghast. "You? Citizen?" Magnus smiles. "We've seen... wonderful things. Dragons!" Astor begins a rambling speech about the empire seeking out conscripts. The conscripts are trained to work with the Rus. Those with any affinity became scouts. His father was sent off as a weapons smith for the empire. All of Magnus's brothers are now in the capitol training companies. They've called in all of the vassals. There's very little left of Magnus's home domain. He pauses for a moment then looks at Magnus. "This is the first time I've left. We were told that we were going to kill a great beast that was a danger to all humans. We were to guard the entrance against the infidels." He pauses. "Uhh, you guys." Magnus responds. "The empire has fallen into shadow and evil. The church blaphsemously raises the dead. It is evil at its worst. And the church is behind it all." Astor whispers. "The knights run everything. The people are being called out for even the slightest heresy." He relates a story about a couple of lesser nobles known to Magnus being called out for reverting back to pagan ways. "They were burned at the stake." Magnus asks, "So the church controls the knights?" Astor nods. "Either that or they control the emperor who controls the knights." Magnus looks at Cille. "They're working with the Norjord and the Rus. Even now the Norjord claim allegience to Dieu." As Magnus looks over they notice that the hobgoblins were wearing the livery of the church. The group realizes that for these to be working with humans, they need to have been bought, bribed or controlled. Magnus says to Astor. "Well. It's nice to see you, even worse for wear." He smiles then begins to berate him in familar fashion. "What did i tell you about watching your flank?" Vulcan smirks. "Flank? What makes you think he had a chance to see me even if he was watching his flank?" Astor rears back, "What is that thing?" Magnus grabs Astor's wrist and raises him up. "Vulcan. A tabaxi. Let me introduce you to the rest of the group. We are fighting the church." Cille interrupts to ask "What about that one?" Astor spits. "He was the worst of the group." Magnus introduces Vulcan, Ianthe, Eunice, Hermione, Otlyn and Cille in order. And then Ajax, because everyone always forgets Ajax. Otlyn offers him one of Ajax's cookies. To which, Magnus stage whispers "Take the cookie." Astor pauses then describes a "Hunter", a group of senior knights supported by more of this rabble. They went into the shrine and were in there for hours at the beginning of yesterday morning. They disappeared further into the Shrine, but we haven't seen or heard from them since then. We were told to hold this position. Some help that was.
The Shrine of EleusisThe group, including Astor, enters the shrine. Magnus asks "Do you wish to accompany us?" Astor responds, "To give me a shot at that bastard Olaf? Absolutely." Cille responds "Olaf who?" While the group explores the Shrine, Magnus asks Astor for a full tactical assessment. The Eleusis Shrine is marked by a weathered sacred gate, twin vertical columns set with a horizontal cross beam forming an arc at the top, and two more below. A tattered rope with paper charms hangs across below the crossbeams. The natural entrance to the cave lies just beyond the sacred boundry, obscured by the mists. Upon entering the cave, the mists disappate immediately. A large circular cave is set with 10 magical torches, each evenly set along the walls A set of ruined stones forms an altar on the far side, opposite the entrance. Two small candles burn perpetually at either end of the altar. The chamber appears to be well kept, but it's apparent that others have been here. Scratches at the wall, markings on the floor seem to indicate that it's been thoroughly searched looking perhaps for a nook, or false stone. The altar itself looks to have been desecrated, with a large symbol of Dieu carved onto one of its stones. A small offering bowl on top of the altar appears to have dried blood.
Ajax distributes rings of spell storing with two instances of the spell Darkvision to those who do not have darkvision.
An hour of this session was dedicated to setting up FoundryVTT w/ Beyond20 integration. Ambiance music