Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - The Ending

In a majestic hall hidden deep beneath the royal mausoleum at Haomas' Grave stands ancient prince Gamaral together with Azela, Kael, Sikra, Valerian and Zantana. After entering through the royal tombs and finding a hidden passage they arrived there only a few hours ago. Three pillars, surrounded by magical patterns and runes, are in front of them seemingly awaiting the return of the Necromancer's Orbs with endless patience. Luckily for the humans the wait is short and soon a hidden door on the opposite side of the large hall opens and consul Quadrata enters accompanied by Charon, Horacio and Thriatos. The newcomers spot sommething hiding in the shadows and Gamaral, Azela and Kael decide to meet them.

The situation is tense but no one wants to be the first to act until the third orb has arrived, but in their vigil Quadrata's companion spot Valerian and Sikra who also comes forth. As it is revealed by Quadrata that they are consul Savvas' seneschals the tension rises, but as unpleasantries threatens to escalate Gamaral mentions the third orb is still missing and a kind of cease fire is agreed upon until this happens.

An hour passes until yet more footsteps are heard and this time it is consul Seneca, accompanied by no other than Mingone leader of the Zhengdi King's Guard. Closing the main doors behind him, Seneca announces that he carries the third orb and commands that each party place their orb upon a pillar. Gamaral is quick to follow him and after a moment's hesitation Quadrata does the same. Seneca spots Charon and Thriatos with her and asks them to come join him, which they do. The air is thick with magic but before anything has time to happen a voilent thud shakes the large doors. A second pounding shatters them, reavealing two massive bronze golems followed by consul Savvas and yet two more golems. Thanking the others for their hard work she calls her seneschals to her and after they've joined her a silence quickly covers the room as all await a first blow.

In the end, no one starts a fight because yet another approaches the all. The present consuls are all surprised to see consul Callissios marching through the smashed doors - accompanied by none other than the king of the mountain trolls. Callissios thanks them all for their services so far to which an annoyed Savvas suggests he leave the place while he can. Callissios has no such intention however and, as he finds Savvas to be a nuisance he sentence her to death. Savvas laughs at this threat but to the surprise and horror of everyone present Callissios is suddently transformed into a gigantic dragon - the red dragon from the mountains - and ends the life of consul Savvas with one mighty bite. He commands all to join him or die in this hall.

Consul Seneca is the first to act: his guess is the dragon intends to use the orbs to turn itself into a dragon-lich which could then threaten the entire Empire. Together with Mingone he engage the beast, urging the others to do the same. Gamaral and the undead quickly side with him and so do Quadrata. Horacio, still seeing the dragon as his true master, decides to defend it but gets locked in a mage duel with Valerian. Sikra, Charon and Thriatos all stand frozen at the scene while the hidden Zantana sneaks up to Horacio and steals his spell book to weaken the mage.

Migone is engaged by the troll king but gets aid from Azela. Gamaral casts a prepared ritual, summoning the Emperor of Zhengdi to the chamber after which the two join the consuls assaulting the dragon. Still the great beast seems to strong for them and after the troll king injures Quadrata with a sweeping blow the dragon burns Gamaral to ash with a burst of fire. Seneca tries to shield the others from the dragons attacks while the emperor lashes out with lightning, force and fire towards it. Finding Horacio's decision to aid the dragon rather far fetched Charon decides to passify his companion to keep him out of harm's way - but instead he manage to break his initiative, turning Horacio into target practice for Valerian's offensive magic. Finally he finds himself useful by healing Quadrata's wounds as best as able, returning the consul to the fight.

As the fighting escalate Sikra note that no one seems to be paying attention to the orbs. Carefully she moves closer and manage to reach the center of the hall. A strange sensation creeps over her as the colors begin to change and she can see a strange power flowing from everyone in the room towards the orbs which are then connected to her. The sensation of power overwhealms her and she is frozen in inaction trying to comprehend what is happening.

At this moment Quadrata in an act of ultimate defiance plunges her sacrifical dagger into her own heart, producing a life's worth of blood magic energy to turn her staff into a projectile which she throws at the dragon. As the consul fall down dead the staff, by now glowing red from magic energy, pierce the dragon's head, causing the beast to jerk at the sudden and unexpected pain, only to collapse in the following moment. Having just managed to focus her mind, Sikra miraculously manage to throw herself out of harm's way. After Mingone and Azela manage to slay the troll king Horacio finds himself short of allies and surrender.

At this point the Zhengdi Emperor, his dry skin showing no signs of fatigue from the battle, take place among the orbs. He proclaims he now takes command of the orbs and use them to return lives rather than take them, as has been done previously. His intention is to return the souls of the Zhengdi people which power the orbs to their rightful rest in the Realm of Unlife. As this action will destroy the orbs he offers a last boon to those who have aided him, granting Azela, Kael and Zantana a chance to return among the living. In the end only Zantana wishes to walk this path and the emperor uses the orbs power to revitalize her body, giving her life once more. When it comes to Horacio the emperor is unwilling to kill more men today and demands that he be spared - but also commands Azela and Kael to keep a watch over him for the next 50 years to ensure he serves his people. Having said so, he begins his final ritual and as it finishes he, Mingone and the orbs are dissolved into dust which a light wind begin to scatter in the room.

As the only surviving consul Seneca takes the lead out into the light. A group of legionnaires await them and are unwilling to follow the orders of the consul until they realize the gravity of the situation as the bodies of consuls Quadrata and Savvas are laid before them. They then inform the consul and his followers that a battle is raging outside the city as the two armies which had assembled have been assaulted by a horde of goblins and trolls which had been hiding among the hills and caves. Hurrying to get a view of the battle the group arrive as the legionnaires begin their final push against their foes, ultimately breaking them and sending the survivors fleeing into the desert. As the city now holds little of interest Seneca intends to return to the capital and the Mages' Council, which he believes will have a hard time surviving the recent events. Because of this he frees his senechals from their vows, saying they can go anywhere they please. To everyone else he says good bye.

In the aftermatch Valerian and Sikra return to the capital with Valerian seeking to claim the post of his deceased consul. Charon, Thriatos and Horacio - the latter accompanied by Azela and Kael - return to Leupthia. Zantana, now human, return to Pantoria and the business there.

What happened after this, well, that's another campaign.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 66

Surprised but not shocked the seneschals welcome the unexpected consul to the house. Quadrata asks for Horacio and so Charon and Thriatos hurry (well, eventually) away to find him. In the middle of a house meeting Horacio is surprised - and not pleasantly so - to find the consul litterally in his doorstep. His fellow mages hurriedly makes excuses and leave the scene, leaving Charon, Thriatos and Horacio alone with the consul. Quadrata wastes no time and begin asking about the orb the three of them brought to Leupthia and once she learns it is safe she begins talking about a journey to Amoros. Not quite according to the plans of the mages, Horacio tries to complain that it's not a good time but quickly realizes its no good. Charon is quickly persuaded as the consul lets him know that she has a copy of the book he is seeking and promises to lend it to him once their current business have been concluded.

Quadrata wishes to leave as soon as possible so the wizards deal with their most critical affairs and make a light pack. While catching a ship in Neddam they are met by a sympathic Acidus (who is however not so sympatic as to risk the consul staying any longer than usual) and after saying their good byes they leave for the mainland.

Amoros seems to be the same old Place regardless of the insurgencies across the Empire. Charon immediately runs off to purchase the necessary materials for copying the Book of Unlife. He is joined by Thriatos and Horacio as their only other option is to tag along with the consul. Taking the opportunity to inspect their old quarters at the wizard house they return to the consul late in the evening.

During the evening dinner Quadrata finally sheds some light on the current events. Her desire is to head to the graveyard city of Haomas' Grave as she has learned about divinations predicting the reunion of the three orbs of the Necromancer's Legacy will soon take place there. As consul Savvas has already begun acting to have the imperial legion move to occupy the site Quadrata is keen to get there before she succeeds. She also mentions the orbs represent magic on a scale which has not been seen for centuries. They all realize they cannot be the only ones to covert this power and Quadrata suggests Savvas is their chief competitor as she believes Seneca - who was last seen heading into the desert of Ten Makao - to be, at least a temporary, ally. Consul Callissios should not be forgotten, but she finds him illusively hard to judge on the matter. She suggests the three seneschals learn as much as they can about the politics before they head out in 2 days as news might be hard to come by in the desert.

The next day Thriatos thus travel to the Temple to speak to one of his old contacts there. He gets confirmed that Savvas is indeed mobilizing the army to march on Haomas' Grave and also learns the Temple holds maps over the ruins. Arranging such maps to be sent to Quadrata's palace before they departe.

Meanwhile, Horacio learns that Acidus nephew Kaeso have been sighted in the city and hurry to check up on the young man. Kaeso, found at an inn in a less than sober state, is shocked to see him and has a long story to tell - beginning with how he ventured to Pantoria in the company of seneschal Ignatia. Horacio isn't exactly destitute to learn of his colleauge's demise but do find the information most interesting. He brings the drunken Kaeso with him back to Quadrata's palace.

Lastly, Charon heads to the harbor to speak with an old acquaintance. While most of what he learns concerns everyday politics it appears the city has been stockpiling resources for some unknown purpose.

Meeting back at the consul's palace the three share what they have learned and while they are keen to enlist Kaeso to their next endeavour he does not seem overly excited about a new adventure and soon withdraws to his quarters to rest a while. In truth, however, he flees the palace at the first opportunity - an adventure in the company of four wizards of high rank currently one of the least attractive options he could ever imagine. The others are however unaware of this as seneshal Silus, servant of Callissios, shows up at the palace claiming he has important news to share. Surprised to the Horacio, Charon and Thriatos back in the city he nevertheless bring the news that consul Seneca has returned and is believed to be gathering support among the legionnaires of Areanacre. Many in the imperial city, lead by Savvas, fears he will gather an army of his own and march towards Haomas' Grave and thus the plans for the army has been rushed. Quadrata decides they must leave before the army so they hurriedly pack their things and leave the city to spend the night at consul Seneca's estate as it is on the road to their destination.

Arriving late in the evening they are met by Julius and Constance, who both appears to be aware of consul Seneca's return, but there aren't much time for them to catch up as the mages leave at dawn on the following day. Accompanied by an impatient Quadrata the mages make their way to Haomas' Grave and the Wizards' Mausoleum where the consul claims a secret entrace to the deepest level of the royal crypts can be found. After reaching the mausoleum they find a set of labyrinth-like catacombs which Charon realizes is tied to the Octagon of Wizardry - a symbol of the schools of magic. Using this knowledge they manage to find a secret entrace in the tomb representing the school of divination - the art of dicerning the truth. From there a set of stairs leads deeper down beneath the earth...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 65

With their position in Sunn seemingly secured the undead start planning for the future, but the seneschals receive news that will affect them all. Consul Seneca who left the Empire for the Ten Makao desert some months ago have returned - and with him a Necromancer's Orb he recovered from the graveyard city of Haomas' Grave. Consul Savvas commands her servants to make haste and bring the second orb there as well as she has learned the third orb will also be making the journey. Unsure if they can take the orb from their undead allies by force, Valerian and Sikra think about their options. But before they can come to any conclusion Gamaral seeks them out and explains he knows about their condrum. Claiming it has long been forseen that the orbs will be reunited in the tomb of Haomas he will convince the others to make the journey. And so they all set out towards the Empire on the following day, leaving Sunn and their business behind for the time being.

During the long journey Gamaral explains more about the situation. The three orbs are the most powerful necromantic artifacts ever created. The one in their possession allows the wielder to enter the Realm of Unlife in spirit without effort, the second emanates the powers of the realm allowing wielder to cast necromantic spells of great power while the third grants the wielder the power to raise undead at will and in unlimited numbers. They where created by one of the Zhengdi emperors by attaching each and every soul of his subjects to a grand ritual. For years they served their people in a rather benevolent fashion until they where eventually stolen and taken to the Empire by him, Gamaral, many, many years ago. While he doesn't dwell on his own motives Gamaral tells that his father, then emperor, Haomas quickly took control over the orbs. At the time the Empire was suffering from internal unrest and with the vast majority of his forces engaged in the invasion of the Northlands the emperor had precious few men to combat the ursurpers. With the orbs however the emperor realized he would be unstoppable and he didn't care for Gamaral's warnings about the rituals which must be observed to handle the orbs safely. In the end the emperor turned himself into the first human lich, dragging Gamaral and the soul of everyone ever tied to the orbs with him into the Realm of Unlife. With this the kingdom of Zhengdi was transformed in an instant to a realm of the undead with only the mages and exceptionally strong willed able to maintain their sanity and awareness through the transformation.

Eventually they reach the borderlands between the Empire and the risen state of Pantoria. Using a local inn to plan for their crossing they are reached by the news that consul Seneca has taken command over the legionnaires stationed at the fortress of Areanacre and is marching towards Haomas' Grave. Rumors also tell that a force of undead are accompanying them. As Gamaral falls into his old, shattered self, apparently unable to answer any questions in a coherent fashion, the others take this as a confirmation he knows more than he lets on.

Using their status as imperial seneschals Valerian and Sikra manage to get the entire group past the border. As they close in on Haomas' Grave they all put pressure on Gamaral to learn what he has been withholding. Eventually he cracks and explains that he is there to ensure the orbs are destroyed. Only then can the undead of Zhengdi be laid to rest. Only then can he regain his soul...