Session Twenty Three: Campaign Finale

Session Date: August 17, 2008

Meta-game Issues

This was the final session of the campaign, so we reviewed the last session with Daniel who had missed it. The GM then went over plot threads that we wanted to resolve. He noted four: (1) conflict with the Agrikan Order of the Octagonal Pit, (2) the future of Kara, (3) building of the temple, and (4) finding and using the orb of crystal that Seafarer Ibenis had told us of. John jokingly added (5) burning the city of Coranan, based on some dire visions we had seen in the past.

Shortly into the session, Judyn changed one of her beliefs from "Ilvir's people and his symbols should never be hidden" to "I will lead Tharda to victory, bringing glory to the Ilviran Church as a pre-eminent religion of the Empire" (noted emphasis on empire).

Starting the Orb Quest
(Mid-Kelen TR 721)

Four founders - Kalrun, Bowdyn, Maban, and Judyn - headed north in mid-Kelen to find the Orb of Crystal that they had been told of, which they believed from the signs was buried somewhere in the Vale of Moaning Stones -- a haunted spot in the north of Hefiosa, not far from the town of Palomeinar where Analia's clan was based.

They went with equipment to dig, and a small cart with provisions, and a large trunk where the Nolah Yehla-Sha-Bhemis could hide. They arrived at the seat of Clan Erm in the town of Quaye without incident, and were welcomed by Analia - now head of the clan after her uncle had been killed last fall. She had taken over as clan head without contest by her cousins Carl or ?.

The founders were told by Seafarer Ibenis to seek the Orb of Crystal, and they had hypothesized that it attracted Ivashu to it. However, it was not obvious what they were to do with it. It could be a powerful weapon, but they did not have a means to control the Ivashu that it attracted. Judyn proposed that they use it to decisively strike a blow at Rethem, fueling expansionist ambitions of Tharda. A victorious army would mean military dominance at home, and they could use their military clout to accomplish goals such as freeing the Ivashu.

Maban and Kalrun considered using the Orb directly to draw a destructive force of Ivashu upon the Arena in Coranan. However, Judyn pointed out that this could cause devastation to both Coranan and the Ivashu drawn their. She suggested that they use the expedition into Rethem as a test. If the Ivashu could be controlled as a precise fighting force, then they would consider trying to use it in Coranan. If not, then it would be best to keep the orb in distant lands.

Starting the Orb Quest
(Mid-Kelen TR 721)

Dining as guests in Analia's home, the founders confidentially told her that they could raise an "army of Ivashu" that would rain devastation upon Rethem. Analia was skeptical but intrigued, and agreed that she owed them a great debt for their help in slaying her uncle.

As they discussed their alliance, Kalrun warmed to her and suggested that their alliance could be cemented by a marriage between himself and her. Analia was surprised, and after a long pause she replied that there were problems. She had taken a vow not to lie with a man. However, she counter-proposed that he marry her cousin -- the 17-year-old daughter of her uncle that Kalrun had helped slay before her eyes. He had been masked at the time, so it was unlikely she would recognize him -- but it did give Judyn pause. Kalrun said he would consider the proposal.

To the Vale of Moaning Stones
(Mid-Kelen TR 721)

The next day they set out for the vale. They did not know the precise location, but the Nolah Yehla-Sha-Bhemis could feel the call of the orb and gave them rough direction. They brought their two-wheel cart part of the way, leaving it behind as the terrain became rough near the vale. There were many Ivashu in that area, but Maban lead them safely through, avoiding the more dangerous kinds. Once in the vale itself, Judyn could see with her second sight a strange light like ripples in the air emanating from the orb. They found that it was under a giant cairn of boulders, seemingly impossible to uncover.

Yehla-Sha-Bemis was fascinated by the place. He seemed at peace near it, bathed in the invisible rays. It seemed that Ivashu would periodically come near the orb, and passively soak in the radiance and then leave again. Bowdyn as a stoneworker planned the best way to uncover it, and the others chopped down some saplings for use in the operation.

That night, the Hru in the area awakened -- giants made of rock that emerged from seemingly ordinary collections of boulders. Judyn and Maban prayed for three Hru to help them uncover the orb. The Hru came to their call and worked to uncover it, but said that it was a bad idea. Still, they worked through the night and just as dawn approached the orb could be seen, and the Hru returned to their stony slumber.

Returning with the Orb
(Mid-Kelen TR 721)

The founders, tired by their noisy night, then extracted the Orb of Crystal. They found it was an oblate spheroid over two feet across made of a heavy crystalline stone. It was thus difficult to carry, and they put together a rough sledge from saplings they had downed. As they went back, Maban convinced a nearby Aklash to help by carrying it. Thus helped, they made it to their cart by nightfall.

Kalrun went on ahead to Analia's house to tell her the news, while the others rested under the cart - trusting to the orb's pacifying effect to keep them safe from the Ivashu that would follow. Soon after nightfall their rest was broken by the thundering of approaching Hru. The Hru surrounded the cart and again said that taking the orb was a bad idea and that it should be returned to the vale. They said that Hru and non-Hru should not mix, and that suffering results if they do.

Judyn argued with them in Ivashi, however. She claimed that it was Ilvir's will for them to find the orb. She pointed out that other Ivashu were suffering, starving but unable to leave the vale for long. She asked that instead they cooperate with bringing the orb to a new place - clearing a path for it. (A Duel of Wits where Judyn wins losing only 1 out of 12 BoA.) The Hru agree, asking only that they not attack people, but try to move them aside without harming them.

The next day, Analia came out to see the promised "army of monsters". She was at first unimpressed by the piles of stones and the distant glimpses of Ivashu in the region. However, seeing the path of the Hru's march last night gave her pause. She was overjoyed and agreed to accompany them out to Senun.

Staying again at Analia's that night, Kalrun met with his bride-to-be. Her first words were "He's even older than you said!" to her elder cousin Analia. However, she consented to the marriage, which was arranged to be on the first full moon "after victory" -- though the conditions for that were not specified. Particularly since he was going off to battle, Analia suggested it was appropriate for him to share her bed that night - which he does with misgivings. She is only two years younger than his foster daughter Kara.

Victory in Senun
(Late Kelen TR 721)

They took the stone bridge across the river to the north of Quayle, then proceeded slowly across the hills to the Rethemi town of Senun. It is only 30 miles as the crow flies, but going through hills with a heavy rock in a cart it takes them a full tenday. It would have been faster to go around by the roads, but they wanted to avoid taking the orb through populated friendly territory.

The keep of Senun was under siege by some 1200 Thardan legionaries and 200 Cohorts of Gashang. Analia and Maban went ahead to explain to the commander about the monstrous regiment that would be passing through in the night. The commander was skeptical, but agreed to pull his troops back from the east side and delivered a threat to the defenders of the keep -- who responded by killing the messenger. That night, the horde of Hru approached and terrified the defenders. Kalrun approached the gates with two shield-bearers, and called for their surrender. They agreed on only the condition that they be given safe passage.

The Hru and the orb then rested not for north of the keep's walls.

The Destruction of Menekai
(Late Kelen/Early Nolus, TR 721)

The founders then headed north with only the Cohorts of Gashang towards the castle of Menekai two days march to the north. The legionaries instead headed south to the city of Techen. Menekai was a full fortified castle held by the Agrikan order of Herpa the Mace - sworn enemies of Analia's Order of the Eight Demons. On the first night out, nine of the Agrikan troops disappeared -- it was suspected slain by some of the Ivashu drawn to the vicinity of the orb. Analia was now the ranking priestess, since the high priestess originally with the cohort died on the trip. She reassured the troops, but privately demanded something be done. Judyn and Maban prayed for safe passage to castle, and the next two nights were without incident.

Arriving at Menekai, they found many of the fields and buildings already in flames - burned by the order of Herpa the Mace to prevent their use by the besiegers. The castle was on a hill, a defensible spot overlooking the river. The defenders were confident that they could hold off the force of less than 200. That night Judyn told the Hru that the castle itself was the site for a new cairn of the orb. The Hru lumbered forwards and pressed on a wall to collapse it with vibrations, little affected by the defenders arrows and attacks.

After that, there is confusion in the castle and the Cohorts of Gashang rushed in to slaughter them. Only a handful escaped, and fewer survived to be captured. The few that remained alive were ritually slaughtered in the morning, in a bloody ceremony that made Kalrun glad he was not marrying Analia.

Celebration and Marriage
(Mid-Nolus, TR 721)

The Ilvirans left the orb in the ruins of the castle where the Hru had dismantled all the walls to build a new cairn for it. They returned by the roads to Coranan with an armed escort, arriving just a few days before Nolus 15, the full moon and coincidentally the one-year anniversary of the missionaries' arrival in Coranan.

Judyn rushes to prepare a wedding for Kalrun, which is swiftly put together. It is lavish thanks to gifts from their newly grateful allies, but poorly organized. Kalrun's ward Kara in particular was shocked to find her stepfather rushing to marry a girl only two years older than herself.

The marriage ceremony was conducted at down using both holy mud of the Ilvirans and holy oil of the Agrikans. Kalrun's hands were doused in oil and lit on fire, that he gratefully put out in the mud. They feasted on a roasted stag brought by Jaroud.

In the festivities afterwards, Kara expressed disapproval to Judyn - asking if he would celebrate if she were married so quickly. Judyn questioned Kara over who she was interested in marrying, and found that instead she was interested in joining the fanatic Kraynor in the Ilviran Dark Order.

Judyn also spoke to Hillay, pointing out the success of the Ilviran church. However, Hillay made a scene as she disparaged their campaign, again embarrassing her husband Bowdyn.

Plotting for an Empire
(Late Nolus, TR 721)

The founders then met secretly. They agreed that the orb was too dangerous to bring to Coranan. Judyn's alternate scheme was to draw General Kronas into confronting the Senate. She suggested that they allow Hillay to overhear their treasonous plans with General Kronas. They would ask her to stay out for a time during the next public founders' meeting, but arrange for it to be easy for her to overhear. She could be manipulated to convey this to their enemies in the Senate. Especially if the Haruspex (an Ilviran convert) gave appropriate readings, the Senate could attempt to disempower Kronas, and force him to take over.

They enacted this plan, but Hillay instead burst in on them and chided them. She hated their plans, but still apparently cared for Bowdyn. In the midst of her hysterics, though, Kara walked in and announced that she was joining the Dark Order with the fanatic Kraynor. Kalrun was distraught, and when he could not convince her otherwise, he left with tears in his eyes. She left, but agreed with Judyn that she would not marry or "dally with" anyone without speaking to them again first.

The Arena Plot
(Mid-Nolus, TR 722)

Over the fall and winter, Maban stays with her lover General Kronas in Athul -- who is still busy subjugating the Tulwyn. Kalrun stayed with his wife in Coranan, who became pregnant in early summer.

In the summer of the next year, the founder's received a note on the back of an announcement of the next arena games with the words "Be there" in Kara's handwriting. Maban cast the bones to find their plans, and learned that they intended a mutual suicide pact to some dark purpose. She hinted at the danger of their plan, but did not reveal this fully to the others. The games were to be on Nolus 15, the second anniversary of their arrival. The founders scoured the city in search of Kara, and eventually found them on the day before the games, hiding out in an tenement on the west side.

They politely came to visit, and walked in on Kara and Kraynor. Surprised, the two revealed that they had a plan to place a curse upon the arena, releasing a legion of dark Ivashu in a ritual using their own blood. Judyn at first argued that she should sacrifice herself, and Olrau chimed that he too would offer his life. Kara and Kraynor stood firm for a time, and soon the others realized the nature of the curse -- that they intended not only to make the arena unusable, but to slay everyone who came to see the games. When released, the dark Ivashu would awaken and consume all in the arena -- protected from the sunlight deadly to them by the power of the ritual.

When Kraynor bent to show them the dark Ivashu, Judyn attempted to strike him. A brief struggle followed, where Kalrun drew his sword and backed Kraynor to a corner. Bowdyn tried to peaceably hold back Kara, but she rushed past him to struggle with Judyn who took the chest holding the dark Ivashu and opened it in the sunlight. Kara cried and ran out, cursing them for their lack of devotion and action.

That night, before the games, Judyn and Maban went outside the arena. They heard that the Ivashu being held for the games the next day sounded identical to the one they had freed on the streets of Shiran. Maban called out to it from the street, and called on Ilvir to release it and for it to wreak vengeance on all within the arena that night. (David spends a Deeds point on a miracle and gets it.) The Ivashu did indeed run riot, slaughtering most of the priests of the Octagonal Pit. What happened to it after that was not clear. There were conflicting reports of it leaving the city, but persistant rumors were that it was still within the arena.

(End of Session)