Bloodsnow Mission

Action Log– LORST, Far-North Mestria

Days since reactivation – 21.06.45

OBJECTIVES

MISSION 1) +REDACTED+INCOMPLETE+

MISSION 2, ENTRY 1
Primary
a) Recover "Stormplate" Armour Relic, return to Judicatus, Paladin of Xortivar
Secondary
b) Protect the life of Judicatus, Paladin of Xortivar
c) Protect the life of Haraldir, Mage of House Solanus
d) Protect the life of Silveira, Scholar.

STATUS: IN PROGRESS

My current primary directive – to return the Artefact “Vampyresbane’ to Bjorn Hammerborn – is now impossible; he is deceased. I am unsure of how to proceed. I have had to forcibly suppress my impulse to pursue means to complete my mission. It is greatly discomforting.
I have returned to the city of Lorst. I visited the Inn at which I was contracted by Hammerborn, but no inspiration has come. My mission is complete, but cannot be ended. The military purpose for which I was created no longer exists; the Blood Jarl is the uncontested ruler of the land once more. What should I do? Is this how humans feel all the time?

After three or four days the Innkeeper asked me to leave.

A man approached me in the town square today and asked if I was available for hire. I am greatly relieved; having stood here for some days I grow weary of the production the travelling players perform each afternoon. The man offers 200 Silver Masques to travel east, to await and protect a pair of mercenaries. I am initially so grateful to be given a purpose I walk away without taking the gold. The man seems to find this disconcerting, so I return for it. I add it to the pile of unspent commission and wage coins; with a full stock of ammunition I have little idea what else to spend them on. The jangling of so many coins has attracted the attention of several cutpurses since I returned to town. I grow impatient of explaining myself to the bailiff and he has told me if I kill any more thieves he will put me in a stockade. I have decided to head to the teleport-site and wait, despite there being some days before my charges are due.

Some bandits approached today, intending to strip me for Skymetal. Later, more came in search of the first band. They kept their distance, settling in to loot the corpses of their late compatriots.

My charges have appeared in a flash of steam. They have teleported in from a ship off the coast many miles away, and are disoriented. They seem surprised to find me waiting, but soon accepted me as their ward. They are a pair of high-blooded elves, one a Xortivarii Cleric, the other a Solanus Wizard. They are on the business of the church, recovering a suit of armour that was stolen from the city of Mortarion. We return to town so they can replenish their stock of supplies. I stand sentry each night. It is good to be back on campaign.

The paladin has some experience with magewrighting and points out the sub-optimal armour loadout I have attached. I realise I have not upgraded or repaired my armour since the Battle of Lindesmacht. It seems I have something to spend my wages on after all. As the elves go about their shopping, I visit the towns’ best smithy and purchase a fine suit of Skymetal Scalemail. The sensation of unbolting and re-oiling is greatly satisfactory. The new armour is lighter and sturdier, made with modern forging techniques. Excellent.

For some days we travel north before we meet the custodians of the land. The Lortsii claim dominion over the land and order us to turn over our weapons and supplies. They attempt to forcibly disarm us, employing magic. After we destroy their patrol, we free a prisoner of theirs, a rugged woodsman named Elyas. He agrees to lead us to the nearest shelter, then on to the town where our quarry is known to be hiding.

The town is a strange place full of deserters, barbarians and fleeing criminals, living in apparent equilibrium under a nobleborn man from the South, whom they have named Mayor. The elves go to meet a half-blooded surgeon named Silveira, their contact. We remain for a day or two as they investigate the man they suspect of the thievery. We are invited to dine with the Mayor, an associate of our quarry. The dinner goes slowly, and the doctor remains behind after we leave. The elves have decided that the thief we are hunting was indeed the man we shared the dinner with. Haraldir suspects we are being shadowed while in town. I stand sentry that evening, but the thief attempts to enter through the window and is detained by Judicatus. Keen to avoid the attention of the townsfolk, we bundle up our prisoner and abscond to the forest. In our haste, and the in the darkness, my steed missteps and breaks a leg. I put the beast down and we continue at walking pace to the cave wherein we had sheltered with Elyas. We find him there again, but ask him to leave as the doctor goes to work questioning our detainee. He reveals that the theft was commissioned, and that the purchaser yet resides in a nearby mine.

We are visited the next evening by the Mayor of the town. He sneaks in close to the camp before I challenge him. The townsfolk have apparently taken it into their heads to revenge the disappearance of the thief and the doctor with violence against us. The Mayor is concerned that they will perish in the wild, whether by the axes of the barbarians or other denizens of the woods. He apparently detests violence, but says he has no choice but to kill us and bring back our corpses in recompense. I realise suddenly from his words that he is a vampire. The elves negotiate for some time. Judicatus suggest staging the scene of a massacre for the villagers to find. The creature seems to find this satisfactory; ambushing some wildlings for the role of corpses, we arrange them around a campsite as though I – the villain – had gone mad and slaughtered my companions. I have borrowed a plotline from the Lorst theatre, but the drama was apparently convincing. The Mayor returns some time later to confirm that the villagers have scurried home, fearful of a mad machine in the woods. Most satisfactory.

We find a wounded Frostfather in the forest as we approach the mine. Elyas urges us to kill him. He has often shared this opinion with us, attempting to entice us to attack one of their villages. Silveira obliges, to the discomfort of Judicatus. We move on.

We have found a village in ruins, with fire, claw marks and corpses in great evidence everywhere. We collect a few supplies and hurry on toward our quarry.

Another Lorstii village lies in our path. Smoke and screams emanate from behind the palisade. Judicatus surges into the fray looking for foes. Haraldir and I follow. Within Daemonkind are rampant, butchering the townsfolk in swathes. Their warriors attempt to fight back, and we leap to their aid. Though we have so far found little common ground with the barbarian descendants of my creators, Daemons are sufficiently disturbing for us to find in them–at least – a common foe. The creatures are annoyingly hard to kill. We are aided by the appearance of another Iron Legionnaire, teleported into the melee. After the battle he relays that his master awaits our arrival. The church’s intervention has been anticipated, apparently, and our quarry welcomes us. Curious, we thank the brother for his assistance and make our way – finally – to the mine.

Another Xortivarii Paladin awaits us, a high-ranking elf of great age and power. Having learned of the dissonance of an Astral Gate here – located underground in an abandoned Viellan Temple – he has put himself in the path of the daemon hordes that have spewed forth. He has done this duty for some years in the service of his God. He is aware that his crimes, the theft of church property, carries a sentence of torture and death. He believes his God at least, will forgive him; he has bought his salvation with long hours of labor and blood in battle against the Aethyrspawn, duty he could not have done without the protection of this relic. He entreats us to aid him in closing the gate, as he and his Warforged guardians must continue to hold the breach, and only those with some taint may enter the daemon-realm to do the task. Though I can scarcely think of this elf as a criminal, I hesitate to willingly allow him to corrupt my form with his magic. I am convinced to do so in the end; I cannot allow my charges to go hence without my aid. I have failed to complete two missions already, their parameters maddeningly out of reach. Here at least I have a chance to finish something I started.

We set out to capture a Frostfather. We need directions to one of the tribes’ stone totems, that the Cleric might scry into the sub-realm of the ethyr from which the daemons are escaping. We encounter and ambush another patrol, battling with fury for some minutes before they are dead or scattered. The Frostfather succumbs to the doctor’s inquiry and we are directed to a nearby mountaintop. Haraldir attunes to the stone, but is seduced by the lure of the knowledge it offers. We could not rouse him to return with us. He remains there still, on the frozen mountaintop, staring blindly at the stone. The remainder of our band turned back to the cave, ready to forge into Hell.

MISSION 2, ENTRY 2

The old paladin has cast his magicks. We have undergone some kind of ritual - 'tainting' us in some fashion - that we may pass through the portal to the Viellan staging post. He warns us that we may encounter beings there; of their nature we cannot guess, save that they are known as 'They Who Watch".

We are arrived in the Ether. Strangely, the rules of gravity and physics seem still to apply. At any rate, the unusual atmosphere and visual anomalies will not impede my combat efficacy. The elves take a moment to adjust, the Xortivarii pausing to take down notes in a strange pictographic language. I presume he is cataloguing his experiences for later review. Before us is a winding stone path that hangs suspended in grey nothingness. At it's summit lies an immense stone keep.

This fortress is a penitentiary for fallen adepts of the flesh-god Viella. Suspended forever in the nether-realm, it's inmates watch and catalogue the accomplishments of Viella's 'true' champions, denied forever the chance to attone for their various offences against her tenents. Helpfully, they are forbidden to tell lies or commit violence; we are able to roam the realm freely, even being offered a guide. Save by the whim of an absentee arbitrator - Judicatus translates the name of this figure as either 'The Mother' or 'The Mistress' - these fallen clerics may never leave their purgatory. Neither do they have any knowledge of the Daemons that are our quarry. We are frustrated for the moment.

After some time we resolve to find a way further into the Astral Sea. This place is somehow 'wedged' between reality and the Aethyr, according to Haraldir. It is not the place we are searching for. We finally learn of a set of 'trials', a challenge posed by Viella to the inmates to reach freedom. Apparently it is our only hope of escaping the fate of these unfortunates. Judicatus ponders and debates at length with one of the Watchers over the ethics of their situation. I see little quandry; these clerics failed to uphold the tenents of a god. Their punishment now holds them - of their own volition - to standards of behavior not so different from those demanded by Judicatus' own patron. They are resigned to their fate of endless, hopeless atonement. In this state, they are benign. The paladin eventually reaches the same conclusion. We press forward, over the objections of the Watcher, into the Shrine of Viella; not being bound by her meaningless demands, we are confident of overcoming the challenge she offers.

We emerge into a dark chamber full of columns. Each bears a rune which - when activated - transports us elsewhere to face a trial. We laboriously translate texts into various languages, excruciate over occult puzzles, struggle to shape reality by force of will, bear down under a torrent of confronting visions, and grapple with tides of vicious demons. Viella's trickery is revealed; while upholding her commandment to face the trials alone, no single applicant could hope to succeed. Bearing wounds to both mind and body, we finally stumble free of her cloying protoreality into the Plane of Souls.

I find myself alone in a forest of ghostly trees. I recognise it as a distorted version of the clearing where I awaited the arrival of my wards. Everywhere, strange, wisp-like orbs of swirling colours drift and dart about. For a moment I see a shadow of my companions contemplating these orbs, but they both shortly blur out of existence with a whipcrack sound. I search for a while before trying the same. Unsure of what to do, I exert my will on one of the orbs. It is strangely pliant. Before I know what has happened, I find myself transported somehow.

Horror! Fear! Noise! Freezing, numbing cold! Gnawing, overwhelming hunger! Gripping, penetrating thirst! I am flesh! The world is rendered in bizzare colours, and sensations I have never imagined assault my body! I am trapped within some clawed, furry creature! I am sickened and overwhelmed. How is this possible? Where are my companions?

Wh -[ERROR]

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I have been recalled to sanity. I awaken in a new chassis, forged by the Xortivari Church. I am in Mortarion, my companions overseeing my awakening. I have a vague sense that much time has passed. Though this new body is fresh and strong, I feel immensely weak and fatigued. As I sit, the elves eagerly tell me of the final saga of the mission.

It seems that they walked the true soulscape, a cloudy reflection of the real world where the souls of the living dully glitter through. The departed find their final rest here, in the personal realm of any of the pantheon they revered in life. I had - unwittingly it seems - exerted my will upon a simple animal soul, possessing and becoming trapped within it's body. I passed months uncomprehendingly it seems, living life as a 'squirrel', retreating deep into my own mind. The priests tell me that it was hard to draw me out. It is likely that there will be some mental scarring. In that time my companions had travelled to the reflection of the paladin's cave wherein the soul-reflection of the broken aethyrgate lay. The spark of living souls in the Ether however, attracted a pack of Dreadhounds, which they were forced to battle and destroy. Finally, at the end of their journey, they severed and reattuned the link between the gate and the Soulscape, cutting off the dissonant clarion that had called out the Daemon hordes. Hurled back into creation by the corrective shockwave, my companions returned to their bodies. The paladin bore down under Judicatus' sentence; the severing of both hands. Both elves consider the sentence light, I understand, but just and legal according to the tenents of Xortivar. A good outcome. We have each been granted a boon by the Church for our worthy acts. This new body is mine. I sense enchantments upon it that shore up my battered mind. That is good. The surgeon has been forgiven some unmentioned past transgression, Judicatus admitted into the ranks of Knighthood, and Haraldir granted a secret ritual boon that enables him to read any language. I will remain here for some rest and recalibrative work with the Temple magewrights before setting out again. I might find fresh purpose here in Mortarion, in the service of this Church. It is a truly wonderous, monstrous, incomprehensible city, a place unlike anything I have ever seen. The frozen wilderness of Lorst is all I knew heretofor. Of course, I suspect my erstwhile wards will set out on some fresh adventure before long. Perhaps they will invite me along.

MISSION 2, ENTRY 3
Primary
a) Recover "Stormplate" Armour Relic, return to Judicatus, Paladin of Xortivar
Secondary
b) Protect the life of Judicatus, Paladin of Xortivar
c) Protect the life of Haraldir, Mage of House Solanus
d) Protect the life of Silveira, Scholar.

STATUS: COMPLETE

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