Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 54

Back in Neddam, Charon, Horacio and Thriatos decides they'd better fresh themselves up before taking on the city. Aiming for one of the finer establishments they are not greeted with open arms - but as many times before gold is proven an efficient means of changing a first impression. After feeling quite a lot more civilized the three head off to the city's wizard house of Caeduis to meet Horacio's old friend grandmaster Acidus Lorcus. Acidus is not your typical wizard and receive them in his sparring room where he's exercising. He suggests they catch up over a bit of food and the mages quickly decide to keep the Necromancer's Legacy out of the discussion. Besides this they keep to the truth and do not lie about having to escape the Empire for a while. Acidus is still happy to have them there and gives them free access to the house as long as they are prepared to aid him should he need it. They agree on this and quarters are prepared for them along with their servants Jamal and Mergus.
As it is the first time in many weeks the three have free access to a library and with no one actively trying to harm or oppose them they enjoy a few quiet days just settling in at this new place. However, once it seems his guests are getting comfortable Acidus decides to share some of his plans. The province capital of Usdar has long been governor Rubaros stronghold and Acidus hasn't received news from the city's wizard house Lacerta for some time. As this is Horacio's house Acidus would have them travel there to bring back word on what goes on in the city. Finding this request very reasonable the mages agree but as they are unwilling to bring the Necromancer's Orb, fearing it might fall into the wrong hands, they decide to share the knowledge about it with Acidus. Acidus is familiar with the legend and does not blame them for keeping it a secret, even from him. He agrees to keep the orb safe in the warded cellars found beneath Caeduis.

With the orb taken off their minds for now the three prepare for their journey. They decide to leave Mergus and Jamal behind to avoid political trouble from having undead servants. After a full day's journey they reach the city and Horacio is joyfull to see his home city for the first time in many years. They decide to play it safe and check in to a hospice and wait until the following day to visit the wizard house of Lacerta. As they arrive Horacio does most of the talking and enjoys his local fame to the fullest. Eventually they gain a meeting with grandmaster Marcia who is quite unhelpful and short when Horacio asks her about the current politics. They still manage to get quarters at the wizard house after which they decide they'd better split up to try to gather some more worthwhile information. Horacio thus head off to speak to his old mentor by the name of Canus Mallus while Thriatos and Charon finds the local forum and try to blend with the city's nobility.
Horacio is well received by his old friend at the Canus residence. While it soon becomes clear the old man has willfully kept out of the politics this still confirms that there is a powerstruggle going on. The two spend the rest of the evening over a bottle of wine and once the old man falls asleep Horacio return to Lacerta.

No total surprise, Charon and Thriatos have some difficulties mixing with the nobles but eventually finds a lone guest at a nearby restaurant. The man introduces himself as lord Cuello, recently arriving to the city in the company of imperial diplomat lord Jorian. The name sounds familiar and Charon links it to a man to whom he paid a debt some time ago - a man possibly working for the crime syndicate of Zamatspire. Unsure if it is the same man they tread carefully and learns that lord Jorian is there to ensure the province stays loyal to the Empire in these difficult times. While Cuello grows a bit tired of discussing politics he tells them they've seen no sign of unrest or rebellion so far, but that the governor haven't been entierly convincing either. With this information Charon and Thriatos also return to the wizard house for the night.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 53

Back in Sunn, Gamaral takes seneschal Valerian to the side and asks him to contact the local wizard house as their help will be needed in the future. As Valerian has already spoken to them he plays along and agrees and he and Sikra leave the warehouse heading there. With the two mages gone Azela, Kael and Zantana places Gamaral against the wall, requiring him to explain the situation. Having dropped or surpressed his anti-social behavior, Gamaral explains that he is simply trying to serve the emperor of Zhengdi. His current master, Merga, is trying to claim the orb they now have in their possession along with two others similar to it. Together they make up a set of artifacts known as the Necromancer's Legacy - created at the height of the Kingdom of Zhengdi by the emperor with his people helping to fuel the powerful magic involved. Telling the story af if he was there, Gamaral eventually confesses that he was an Imperial prince who studied magic under the emperor of Zhengdi. It was he that one day took one of the orbs and bought it to his father, the emperor of Ankh in the city of Háomas. But his father set out to use the powers of the orb to transcend himself into a lich - a powerful undead being - but in a single outburst of necromantic energies the souls of the people of Zhengdi where sucked into the Realm of Unlife, with only those of great mental power able to resist. While his father succeeded with his ritual the surge had transformed Zhengdi with only a small fraction retaining their souls and finding themselves commaning a vast horde of undead. These undead now set out to reclaim the orb to undone what had been done and so invaded the Empire. Gamaral explains that "the rest is history" and that he is simply trying to return the orbs to their rightful owner, the emperor of Zhengdi, so that things can be put right. He has spent the last weeks creating protective wards all around the city to keep his master from dicerning the orb's location. Not knowing what to make of it all, Zantana and Kael head off to deal with the business of the day.

On their way to the store Zantana and Kael discover a huge caravan is assembling at the city's bazaar. Apparently the wizard house is massing an expedition heading east, but no one - not even many of the mages - seems to know where they're going or why. Valerian and Sikra is also at the scene but fail to get any satisfying answers.

The undead gather together later that evening only to find Sikra exploring their hideout. Apparently she was let in by Gamaral and was fascinated by the undead workforce, though the undead have their doubts about her motives. Zantana decides to involve her in their plans for the night to put her to the test. Gamaral's story has certainly put a different perspective on things, but they feel they must continue their mission and several trading partners have recently gone back on their deals and Zantana suspects this is due to blackmail from some other party. Having gained the address to one of the traders she's planning to find out more. The group don their adventuring gear and head out.

They have just left their hideout when they notice two suspiscious looking men in an nearby street corner. While the others make a distraction Azela sneaks up on them and finishes them off. This time it is Zantana who gets upset that there is no one to question but Sikra points out that one of them is actually alive. Using a healing spell they get the man in good enough shape to talk. Apparently they are working for a man named Javaar - one of the crime lords of Sunn - who'd paid them to keep an eye on Zantana's business. He doesn't know where Javaar is but a woman named Kara is waiting for a report at the Hungry Spire tavern in the docks. They decide to let the man live and employ him themselves and Kael takes him back to the hideout to heal his wound. Failing miserably the man perishes during the night.

Not knowing about this, Azela, Zantana and Sikra continue through the city. They sneak into the home of the merchant and his wife and begin to interrogate them. Unfortunately, they soon learn there has been no threats - and that it was Zantana's decision to try to expand into a new market which made him question if the current deal was as solid as he had first thought. The merchant explains that he is more than happy to resume business rather than risk his life and despite Zantana's assurance their visit have no direct link to his business dealings this is Pantoria and this is how business is concluded. They leave the pair alive and instead head towards the Hungry Spire in the docks.

The tavern turns out to be one of the worst drinking places they've visited in the city. Zantana and Sikra enter it first and must quite forcefully keep the male clientele off their backs. This however allows Azela to sneak in undetected and Geb, who as an undead is quite a large man, gets left alone. Having reached the bar, Sikra notes two men and a woman not engaged in the same level of drinking most others seem to be. She and Zantana walks over under the watchful eyes of Geb and Azela. The woman is indeed Kara and she doesn't seem surprised to see them. Zantana wants to do business and Kara agrees to take their proposal to Javaar. The four head back out into the night.

As they start to wander home they almost walk straight into Rutkar Bloodaxe who is accompanied by a large group of armed men, apparently heading towards the Hungry Spire. All but Geb manage to slip by unnoticed and he gets off with a few curses and threats as the men seems to have their target clear in sight...

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 52

Tired of not having a quiet night for quite some time, Charon, Horacio and Thriatos scoff at their assailant, who apparently is more interested in talking than attacking. This only increases their scornfullness and the man eventually present himself as Hartor, claiming to work for yet another stakeholder to the Necromancer's orb. Fed up with the constant politics the mages, rather truthfully, say that they no longer have it nor the means to recover it. Doubtful about this, Hartor offers to aid in bringing down Savvas in exchange for the orb, before disappearing into the night.

Finally managing a restful night's sleep, the three head out early on the next day together with Bocco's hastily assembled caravan. They travel for several days with the mages guiding the way and though questions are asked none are answered as it is made clear the men are there to do the job they've been paid for - not to ask questions. After three days of travel they reach the mountain pass to Menokh.

Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of screams and flames the mages hurry up only to find the camp set on fire, the camels scattered and the men dead. The dragon, alongside a group of trolls, has decended upon the camp and spared none but them. Informing them the artifact they bought it are being sought after it instructs them to take it as far away as possible to the island of Leupthia in the south. They are told to establish their stronghold there instead of here in the mountains. Quite dishearted about their progress being tossed aside, Horacio tries to appeal for concluding their current business, but the dragon summons the soul of one of the dead to show them that spies has infiltrated their ranks. Their work in the North are no longer of any use. So yet again they must set out on an arduous journey across the Southlands.

Initially guided by the trolls, the wizards are left to their own device as they reach the arid coast north of Ossaria. Despite the dragon's unwillingness to let them conclude their business, they make sure the merchandise intended for the gremlins get delivered so not to fail their contract. They reason that apart from their initial delivery they actually didn't commit to any date for future deliveries...

After two Days journey along the coast they reach the town of Lhaf, one of the last strongholds of the Ossarian rebels. As they come from the north rather than the south they are welcomed into the city and briefed on the current situation. Apparently praetor Iullus holds the capital of Gathar and most of the southern parts of the province. Given this situation the rebels have a difficult time - which also applies to Charon, Horacio and Thriatos as this makes it very difficult for them to find a ship to take them to Leupthia. After asking around and spending some gold a helpful lieutenant among the rebel forces suggests they try at an inn in the city of Jamenbac further south. In Exchange he wants them to deliver a sealed document to a man staying at the inn. The mages agree and after a nights sleep continue south.

Arriving at Jamenbac the mages decides gold is a better option than answering any complicated questions so they bribe their way into the city. Finding the inn they deliver the sealed documents without any hassel and after speaking to the innkeeper they get directed to a captain Scaurus who might be able to help. Scaurus proves to be an accomodating man as his current enlistment with the Free Ossarian Fleet is not quite to his liking. At the price of a fair sum of gold he is more than willing to abandon the rather doomed enterprise of fighting the Imperial Navy and take them to Leupthia. As not to raise suspicions he suggests the mages are smuggled aboard during the night as the ship is scheduled for patrol duty in the following morning. While they agree to this, their well-developed sense of paranoia guides the mages to hiding Mergus among Scaurus' sailors, in case something goes wrong.

As night approaches a number of crates arrive to the inn, in which the mages - slightly reluctantly - place themselves. Carried through the city they are soon opened and they find themselves aboard the cargo hold of Scaurus' ship. As money switch owner the ship soon takes to sea and the seven day journey to Leupthia begins. It is a day with fine, if warm, weather and light winds that the ship finally anchors in the harbor of Neddam. For Charon and Thriatos it is the first visit on the Island in their lives. For Horacio it is home.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 51

In Sunn Zantana continues dealing with her business but cannot help but notice the absense of Kael and Azela. Asking Gamaral makes her none the wiser conserning their whereabouts, but at least nothing else was expected. But later in the evening they return - together with Geb - in their secret hideout, and while they appear fine now their clothes and armor bear signs of battle. Kael sets out to explain what has happened.

While the story is being told two strangers are making their way through the city. Seneschals Valerian and Sikra have arrived in the city on a quest for the very artifact which arrived just before them, but intending to travel further east on the following day. Picking up on the magical activity they decide to investigate and find their way to the safe house. As break and entry isn't quite their style they knock on the door. Zantana opens and manage to ward the curious mages off, asking them to come see them at their official address the following day. The seneschals leave to find lodging for the night while the undead gather to discuss this new turn of events. They do not want mages meddling but simply disposing of them might not be so easy.
As the two sides meet in the morning Valerian claims that they are there on behalf of their consul, Savvas, and wish to invest in their business - in fact, buy a majority of it. While Zantana claims the offer is intriguing she needs time to think it over. They agree to a second meeting the following day to further discuss the proposal. During their visit Sikra, herself a skilled necromancer, is quite assured that Azela, Kael and Zantana are all greater undead and sharing this information with Valerian they head off to the local wizard house Somari.

The undead also has preparations to make and apart from advancing their business they arrange to hide their lesser servants to, if necessary, launch an ambush against the two mages after their upcoming meeting. Kael also makes a valiant attempt to move Gamaral out of the way but it is unclear if he is successful.

While not aware that a possible trap is being set the natural paranoia that comes with wizardry have gained Valerian and Sikra a potential ally in grand master Fal-Adar. The news that a group of undead hiding within the city has gained his interest and in return for their capture he promises Valerian to lend aid to his quest and to open up his library. Thus both Valerian and Sikra spend the rest of the day browsing spells which might be useful in their upcoming encounter.

At dawn the following day the seneschals meet Zantana and Geb at the business hall. The conversation is quite relaxed and civil until Valerian let slip he knows about their true nature. Zantana and Geb thus decide to show the guests to their other facilitiy. Well at the site they lead the two to a small room where Kael and Azela await. As they corner the two seneschals Zantana begin to interrigate them on their motives. Not intimidated by the situation, Valerian admits there are more to spark their interest than the mere opportunity of business. The subject of the orb appears and then - to the great dismay of the undead - Gamaral decides to enter the room. However, he acts quite different from his usuall self giving a very composed appearance - not to mention showing signs of social competence. This complete change of personality chock the undead and they can only listen as Gamaral speaks openly about the situation with the two mages. He explains that rather than fight against each other the two groups should cooperate as the orb they currently have is only one out of three - known together as the Necromancer's Legacy. Fighting over a single orb would be futile while the others are still out there. Slightly confounded by the apparent confusion among the undead Valerian and Sikra agree as they figure Savvas - and themselves - would much rather hold three orbs than one.