The Imiriaran Cycle

A Dark Night at Fortress

This entire session was a big battle in three waves. First skeletons, then zombies, then ghouls and specters. There’s a charlie foxtrot when they allow bad guys to flood into the tower where their back-line troops are standing. Fitigern’s repulse undead is particularly useful, but she fails her fear check against the specters and Vincent has to chase her down and drag her back, then they have to cut their way through ghouls so that they can get her within range of Crispin’s courage spell. After that, it was just a matter of her turning the specters.

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The Audience

The party attends the play, which is performed in the open air, in front of the cathedral. Crispin’s uncle plays God. The party sits on the stairs above the performance where they can be seen. They are, after all, the heroes who made it through the siege.

At the end of the play, they receive an invitation to an audience with the King/Lord High Clerist. They attend and the King explains that they can’t get communication out of the city. They need to know what’s going on in fortress, which has 25,000 sword he would have expected to show up by now. After that, Karas has 10,000 sword. They are to go out and find a general and get him to bring an army here to break the siege. They are given fairly broad powers to get this done. Everyone in the sword is promoted one level. Val becomes a Commander, Rosamund and Vincent Captains.

They sneak out again and don’t make it far in the dark before grounding their raft, but they land on the north of the river. Traveling, they find refugees from Masgalar and the surrounding region. They have them gather others and meet in Abaria. After that, they hit the first villages that have been more or less spared attack. Vincent uses their blanket powers to start a conscription.

They arrive in Abaria. They use their authority and a bag of gold given to Val by the king to buy war horses (Abaria trains the best in the country.) It cost about 200 gold, but they are outfitted. They meet with the refugees they sent and take them to the mayor. They quickly discover the mayor is just a rich craftsman and he doesn’t have the resources to directly help them. He offers to ask around and Vincent decides that they are going to go to someone with actual power. They go to the Sword and the Division Commander in charge of the city welcomes the refugees, essentially conscripting them. That only solves the problem for 30 days, but it helps, and Vincent suggest that they might re-up under other names after a month.

They then head to Fortress and have great difficulty getting through the gate (this meets with approval from Crispin, and maybe an exclaimed “Finally!”). They meet with the Castellan and discover that Fortress has been under siege from Wraith Wood since the cairns opened. He’s dropped from 25,000 sword to 20,000. About all he can offer them is the gear of his 5,000 lost Sword. Vincent asks if he can abandon Fortress, but he can’t without sacrificing Abaria. They ask about evacuating Abaria, but in the dead of winter that would be a death march and there’s no place to put them.

They discuss solving the Wraith Wood problem, and while some good ideas are discussed, these are all “post siege” solutions when they can get the full might of the Church involved. Possibly the best is Hannah’s idea to redirect rivers into the wood and use magical rituals to sanctify them.

The party decides to stay the night to see how bad the situation is. We ended the session there.

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A Dark March

The party finishes their business in Marliss. Valeron whistles and Carthesis shows up, lightly wounded and covered in orc blood. They put Arianna on his back and start their trek north.

They find ruined village after ruined village. On the road, they find a group of orcs trying to kill an old man. They save him and discover that he was up in the mountains when the cairns released. He fled a dragon and head north. The dragon is visible in the sky to the south and he points it out. Val, Huir, Taren and Rosa are all but transfixed by their need to go kill it. Still, they have duties.

That night they find a cellar to camp in in Annora. While sleeping Val is attacked and effectively disabled by a Black Stalker. They manage to disarm and kill the thing, but it’s sword appears to be a sword of Valeron slaying, which Talinor wants to keep because screw Valeron that’s why. Also, he seems to have a theory that magic is a virus and you can inoculate against it.

They destroy the sword, which becomes very brittle when filled with the light of God. Also, Vincent attunes with the cloak and realizes it’s made out of distilled evil, but it give a +50 to hiding, so he keeps it because screw what’s right, that’s why.

They put Valeron on the horse as well and the next day they arrive at Inis Valesh and find the place besieged by an enemy army. Worse, the army isn’t just orcs. There are 30,000 orcs, about 1,000 titans, and 30,000 humans. No one knows how the humans got there, but someone mentions that scriptural descriptions of Aclainian’s war with the orcs make it impossible to make maps. They make no consistent sense, but there’s a slightly heretical theory that maybe he had a way to travel with magic, making it possible to cross the continent in a couple days. This goes against modern magical theory, but it would explain the scriptural inconsistencies and more importantly, how this army got here. The other explanation is that they conquered every nation between Valesh Eren and one of the coasts.

The clouds are supernaturally thick so they set up in the destroyed village of Yalar and build a fortified raft. Using it at night would not normally be useful with orcs, but it’s too dark for even nightvision to spot things well. That and a shade spell allows them to get into the city.

Crispin convinces the guards to arrest them.

Vincent steals blankets from freezing refugees who need them. Because screw the poor, that’s why. Also, his blankets were dirty.

They meet Lord Alimon, Division Commander of the Inis Valesh watch. He attended Val’s knighting so he vouches for the group and lets them go. Also, I mentioned to Jen that Val saved the crowned prince of the kingdom in the last big battle of last summer’s war, wielding a two-handed sword after being disarmed. I don’t know if she shared this with the rest of the party. Vincent would know as well.

They find rooms at Barracks 15 in the Sword Quarter of the city. Vincent finds out there’s a blanket shortage and takes the dirty blankets back to the guard house. They also learn somewhere in here that there are 100,000 refugees in the city and they are getting arrested just to have a warm place to sleep.

The next day they meet the Abbess, a lecherous old woman who examines Arianna and tells them that if she takes it easy she’ll recover, but she doesn’t dare take one of her healer’s out of commission healing her. She also lightly gropes Valeron and offers to give Crispin a check up.

They then meet Crispin’s Uncle Edwin, Cardinal of the city (which is the highest position in the church that one can attain without royal blood.) They tell him about the death of his family. He offers them all beds. He also says that Vincent can poach a laundress if she’s willing to follow him through an orc-infested wilderness.

Throughout all of this they’ve been hearing about Preia Occeri, a play that’s going on the next evening. We end with the plan for everyone to attend that then next day because starting a session with the GM describing a play is always a great cold start.

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Protagonist Smoke

Jasper does some scouting, but sees orcs in the woods and decides to wait for the rest of the party. After what has probably been a couple weeks back in the village, they are finally able to head back to see what’s happened to their families.

They find the place ravaged. No one is alive. Strange and evil rites have been done to the corpses. While the group is trying to deal with this emotionally, Goblins attack.

The party manages to kill the incoming goblins, Val and Crispin taking the majority of the abuse. A second group of goblins comes in and the party deals with them as well, but Hannah is injured when she fumbles her blow, taking a painful and debilitating wound. Arianna takes the wound, but when she tries to heal it, the magic roars out of control, almost killing her. She loses her ability to cast spells and might very well have given herself a stroke.

The final wave of monsters includes orcs and a titan, driving Jasper off in terror. The party manages to fight off this last waves, but they are damaged and have no healer. Arianna gives them some standard medical attention with herbs.

They gather the bodies into the inn with the intention of cremating them all at once, when they see a stag-headed person on a stag, flanked by huge wolves. It has stopped on the edge of the village. They approach and find out that this is one of the hunt masters of the Wild Hunt, which has returned to the world. He can’t enter the village, and this is probably the origin of the yule festival, where people traditionally spend two weeks sequestered with family starting on Winter Solstice.

Upon learning that the party has killed 2,000 orcs during the Wild Hunt, the hunt master gives them a horn, telling them that if they blow it, he will come. The first time, he’ll be on their side, but after that, if they blow it again, they’ll be the prey.

The party decides not to burn the bodies or leave the village until the Hunt is over the next day. With that decision, the session ended.

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Snow on the Cairn

The session opens with Vincent sneaking into the cairn. Jasper lights a lantern but fumbles the first round. Val goes left to guard their backs and Talinor follows. Fritigern fumbles a spell, leaving her behind. The others go right from the cairn entrance. Arianna take the lantern.

Hannah proves that the rest of them are complete n00bs at killing orcs. The guys on the right cut through the orcs and come around, Vincent and Rosa flanking the orcs Val is fighting as a troll comes out of the central room. They take down the troll move into the central room. There they kill orcs on each side. Mostly a mop up.

Vincent, Crispin, and Rosa go downstairs and find 2,000 orcs, still asleep. Grimly they begin cutting all the throats. Eventually everyone joins but Arianna, but she comes down for the light. She also points out that the stasis must be dissolving, not completely dissolved, because time is moving more slowly downstairs.

Jasper, worried, goes outside and looks around. There’s smoke coming from their village, which has certainly had days pass by now. But only about half the orcs have been killed.

Does Jasper head off to investigate the village, or wait for the party, which could be many more days due to the stasis?

With that question, the session ended.

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Talinor is Tardy

The game opens ten years ago, the last time they played together as children. They will all be given to the church eventually, but Valeron is oldest and tomorrow is his choosing. This is their last game.

The battle takes place on an earthen berm. The dirty Myrans have invaded, bent on taking their women and probably their dogs. The Myran’s opening move was to put all the adults to sleep, and now the PCs must defend what they hold dear.

The battle is pitched and they lay into the evil Myran troops, which have somehow summoned the orcs out of their eternal sleep in the cairns. The fight is pitched, but our heroes are winning, until disaster strikes. Valeron asks Hannah what she sees and she grimly tells them its a dragon carrying ogre riders.

Val and Rosa lay into the dragon while Crispin and Hannah guard their backs. Vincent is injured (that is, he got dirty) and Talinor is blasting left and right with spells, until he decides that he wants attention from Arianna and so gets “injured” himself.

Meanwhile the game has gotten too real and Jasper begins crying at the word that ogres are involved. ?Hannah? convinces him that it’s all in his head. Eventually they slay the dragon. Hannah rolls in the dirt and chases Vincent off toward home, threatening to give him a dusty hug. The game is over and their lives will never be the same.

Ten years later, Crispin has come home for Yule. He ends up waiting an inordinately long time for anyone else to show up because Talinor is a terrible procrastinator. I mean like two hours extra. Talinor knew this was coming for at least a week. Seriously, what’s up with that?

One by one they arrive and settle in the big walk-in fireplace in the inn of Marliss. When Val shows up, he’s wearing full mithril armor, brilliant and silver. Vincent tells him Crispin didn’t want to travel in his gold armor and Vincent himself left his platinum armor back in the city. The only one not there is Arianna, but they are assured that she got tired of waiting for Talinor and went off to the cairn to meditate. When she returns, she throws down a flower that had been locked inside the stasis of the cairn for a thousand years. The spell on the cairn has somehow broken, and they are the only Church people for miles.

They walk out to the cairn and discover that where it was once eternal springtime, it’s now winter. They pry open the door, only to get shot at by creatures inside.

“Who armed them?” Valeron yells. He takes umbrage that the Church would capture enemy evil creatures, lock them away for all eternity, and give them weapons.

Because of Talinor’s procrastination, however, they will have to wait to go inside.

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