Chronicles

Session 1: Once upon a time in the harsh Sypherion desert, in the heart of the Silver Empire of Eladria, four strange individuals were fleeing for their lives. The arcane warrior, a tiefling named Magnus was running from himself, his daemonic nature barely in check, giving him power but threatening to consume him. Ultionis, the spectral assassin was running from death, a revenant walking the living cities in search of his unlife’s purpose. Shen, the Razorclaw monk fled from the past, where the peaceful monastery he cherished lay in ashes. And Ethias, an angel severed from the Gods was fleeing the future, where the secrets of Creation would be torn from his mind and turned to the ruin of all living races. Coincidently, they were also fleeing a contingent of the Empress’ Doomguards.

Their destinies had collided when half the companions had tried to steal an artifact the others were protecting; the resulting brawl had rollicked down out of the sky cantons, through the inner cantons and halfway through the outer slums of cosmopolitan Dalyr before Eladrin House Soldiers and the City Watch arrived in force. Sometime during the fight, their valiant companion Harken had disappeared, swept off in a charge of the Watch's Spearmen. Thinking him dead, the party fled west into the wasteland.

Finding shelter in a ruined watchtower, the unusual party were ambushed by swarms of cat-sized Brainworms and their shuffling undead thralls. The treasures within the tower quickly turned to sand upon examination, save for a golden amulet bearing runes which Ethias faintly recognised. By morning they were heading north towards Mortarion, hoping to find passage upriver by skiff. Their steps were dogged by slavering hyenas, but they were driven off by a peppering of bolt’s from Magnus’ Crossbow. In the end, they found their passage blocked by a mounted contingent of man-hunting Doomsguard. They were captured, claimed by House Yris and sent into the infamous bloodpits as slaves.

Session 2: The companions were marched back to Dalyr, through the city, and up into the sky for high in the sky cantons of Dalyr resides the Bloodpits. Housed in spartan dungeon-quarters alongside several other gladiatorial contingents. Little communication passed between the cages. They soon learned that creatures from hunting raids and breeding pits were to be provided for their training. The Party struggled through the practice bouts, battered by Kobold shields, scalded by alchemical fires and lashed by demi-drake talons. But their Longtooth trainer, a slave himself taken from the frozen northlands of far off Mestria, seemed increasingly confident, and the companions began to believe that they would win their freedom once more. When it was time for their first true bout of combat in the bloodpits, the party had been forged into a solid fighting unit. Ultionis haggled at length with Loran a Bloodpit local fence, finally securing an all-or-nothing bet on which the companions would stake their freedom, for a veritable horde of gold. Of the three gladiatorial parties, they pledged to deal the most damage to the stadium’s final beast, that Shen would deal the fatal blow, AND that they would be the last party remaining alive. If they failed in any one of the bets, their winnings would be lost and their slavery would drag on.

A monstrous Blade Spider and a couple of large slavering drakes awaited the gladiators, and the pit was soon awash with blood and fire. Humans fell in screaming swathes, but in a climactic final strike, Shen punched deep into arachnoid exoskeleton and ripped out its' brain. The surviving gladiators fell down in surrender as the party sought to finish of the lizard-monsters, but shortly betrayed their trust and made to stab them in the back! In the end, the Eladrin Nobles turned down their thumbs and the treacherous hounds met the point of Magnus’ oathsword. Exhausted, the companions received two prized magical artifacts, and a heavy sack of gold from the disgruntled fence. After placing several hefty orders for magical equipment, they collapsed into contented sleep in their new quarters.

Session 3: The companions rest for most of the day relaxing in the bath-house or meditating in the sanctuary, before being rudely interrupted by a mysterious and haughty female Eladrin flanked by a pair of Doomsguard. She claims to Ryla Dendyrrion, an Agent of the Silver Throne investing the whereabouts of a certain artifact that went missing during their initial encounter and subsequent arrest. The party wisely claim ignorance in the matter, wishing to protect Ethias their new-found ally. The Eladrin leaves, disappointed her investigation could gain no ground with the party, but she offers to pay them for any more information they find once they are free. They are branded in preparation for their next fights, having now proved their worth to the house Yris they face dire challenges ahead. The intrepid adventurers are elevated into a confined arena, hemmed in all sides by vicious wooden stakes dotting the walls like spears jutting from a phalanx. Two monstrous creatures are released with them, fearsome bears from the high mountains of the Bloodpeaks. The battle is swiftly joined, with Ethias the Psion using his mighty powers of the mind to fling one of the animals into the protruding stakes, wounding it terribly. With one distracted, the rest of the party gang-up on the other, striking from all sides to confuse the beast. The Dragonborn, Harken, takes the brunt of the blows, allowing the softly-spoken Razorclaw Shifter and the verbose Tiefling to land the killing strikes, felling the mighty bear. The final beast is dispatched with another psionically charged hurl against the surrounding stakes, pinning its massive form to the walls. The crowd is pleased, and gifts are rewarded to the weary combatants in the form of healing draughts and a hefty purse.

Their next challenge is won by brains and not brawn. The cruel Drow conjure a dastardly cunning game, whereby the blows you deal to your enemy are felt by you as well. Large steel discs, called 'coins' are to be ferried around a maze of lashing brambles and barbed vines, and stored in a safe-box until the event is complete. The companions do their utmost best to incapacitate their opponents, slaves pressed into service by the ebony elves, without causing harm, but the pride of the Dragonborn soon brings him to his knees amidst the bodies of his enemies. A final mad-dash by Ultionis and Magnus secure the victory for the party, but the price of failure for their opponents is too much for the undead Eladrin to bear. He offers to swiftly end the lives of the Drow slaves, a mercy compared to what awaits them at the hands of their cruel masters. Unfortunately he is left helpless as he is restrained by Drow Guards, and the poor souls are dragged away, hope vanishing from their eyes. The rewards are substantial once more, but leave a bitter taste in the mouths of some…

Session 4: The Nameday is almost upon them. If the companions can secure victory but twice more, they will be free from bondage to house Yris and able once more to roam the lands in search of adventure and glory. The last few fights are quickly pushed from the party's mind, a new challenge awaits them! The arena is shrouded in darkness, the sand moving with a life of its own, shifting this way and that, threatening to wrong-foot the unwary. A shriek tears at the minds of the companions, as a coiled and sinewy serpent erupts from the sands. The beast unleashes devastating psychic attacks upon the party, possessing their minds and controlling their actions. It is only through the combined efforts of all that the serpent is finally brought down, Ultionis' shimmering blade piercing its skull as the party restrain the beasts movements. The brief fight brings little excitement from the crowd, an ill-omen before the Nameday fight…

The Nameday arrives and the party are eager to engage in their final challenge. A clever combination of brains and brawn must be used to win their freedom, with their objective being to capture a Feyspire Dragon with the powers of invisibility. Their opponents take the form of another gladiator team, the prize being a release from bondage to their respective houses. Moments before the fight, Magnus is led away to compete in single combat against a worthy swordsman. He is replaced by a frightened thief, a girl of no more than 16 summers. Ultionis suggests that she takes cover behind the more experienced fighters, her nimble dexterity may come in use in capturing the elusive dragon. The party are thrust from their corral into the arena, and must hack their way through packs of undead to make their way to the center of the arena, where they are to bring the dragon. The encounter proper takes place here, above a pool of bubbling acid, upon rotating bridges and platforms perched precariously on giant stone columns. The platforms movements appear random at first, but the quick minds of Ultionis and Ethias soon discover the pattern and begin planning their attack. Brave Harken engages with the enemy team, attempting to disrupt their plans of victory. His efforts are bolstered by the agile Shen, who rapidly dispatches two gladiators whilst they are distracted by the imposing Dragonborn. All is not as it seems, as the thief emits an unholy wail and transforms into a fearsome succubus, her ruse of an innocent child no longer needed to gain advantage. She lunges at Ultionis, only to be caught by the powers of Ethias, who proceeds to submerge the foul demon in acid. Breaking free of Ethias' mind powers, the succubus turns its attention to Shen, and seduces his mind with her evil powers. Shen is helpless but to defend the demon, until she is finally destroyed by a magical dart from the hand of Ultionis. The dragon in sight, and the enemy team wounded or dead, Ultionis snatches the creature from the air, ending the encounter and securing freedom for the companions. The rewards are many, with magical items, gold and a warrant of passage granting freedom to the bearers. At the exit into the free cities, a fond farewell was made to the shifter Doctore who had trained the party and prepared them for their engagements. A bond forged in blood. What adventures await the companions in the fair city of Dalyr? What adventures indeed…

Session 5,6,7: Mighty Harken and agile Shen part ways with the party, each feeling their adventure lay elsewhere far beyond the horizon's end. They bid a fond farewell to those they had shared with the glory of combat, and the sweet taste of victory. At the House of Sylanus, Magnus Sigmund recruited two mercenaries to fill the place left by Harken and Shen. One, a wild-eyed elf, fierce and reserved. The other, a brash dwarf, loud, boisterous and full of good cheer. They are promised a share in treasure in return for their efforts. Their skills are shortly put to good use, as the party is assaulted by ravening cultists and insidious insects. Lucien, the elf, makes short work of the foul spellcasters, his great-curved bow silencing their sorcerous tongues. Thori, the dwarf, lays waste to the maddened disciples, his battlefield prowess forcing them into tight killing zones and choke points. Their enemies slain, the party turns toward their next adventure. A great and powerful wizard, Ranc Khagris, has employed them to free his tower from an invasion of brutish Orcs. The party must trek across the Tartarian desert, braving both the conditions and the wandering tribes of Kobolds, Lizard-folk and other dangerous creatures. At the fortress city of Aerion, last bastion of Eladria before the merciless wastes, the party prepare themselves with mounts and supplies. Magnus secures himself a spire-dragon, and spends his time training the small beast, hoping it will become and erstwhile companion. The desert is without end, and the dangers are numerous. The party encounter several tribes of Kobolds, and engage them in fierce combat, each victory is hard fought and won. After many days, they finally make sight of the wizard's tower, jutting from the flank of an active volcano amidst a forrest of blackened and writhing trees. The main path is heavily guarded, Orcs lay ambushes behind every boulder and above every outcrop. It is decided, the party will brave The Underdark, and strike at the tower from within. But what terrible fates await them in the dark? What terrible fates indeed…

Session 8: The Underdark is a truly unforgiving place, as witnessed by the erstwhile companions on their ventures to the deep. Pitfalls, lakes of acid, poisonous fungi and the deadly inhabitants beset them at every turn. An encounter with a fearsome insectoid of the dark leaves the group shaken, but not deterred, the foul beast eventually falling to the swift blades and thundering hammer of Magnus and Thori. The party come across the mighty towers energy source, great pillars of adamantine enchanted to absorb the fiery furnace of molten rock. The contraption allows the group access to the towers lower levels, where they quickly dispatch the unfortunate Orcs, caught off-guard. They move quickly, taking each floor by surprise, until finally, their arrogance becomes their better. Ascending the final chamber, the party are faced with a veritable horde of Orcs, led by powerful sorcerers and brutish chieftains. With unbridled fury, they ambush the party, quickly incapacitating the agile assassin in a flurry of axe-blows. Lucien attempts to hold back the creatures but is overwhelmed and falls to the lower floor, mighty Thori close behind. Brave Magnus faces the chieftain in single-combat, only to be laid low by an underhanded attack from the vile sorcerer. With a mighty surge of strength, Magnus cuts a swathe through to the teleportation circle, a scheme forming in his mind. Singling out the chieftain, he calls for a duel to the death to prove who is strongest and carries the gods favour. The chieftain, ever arrogant with his horde in support, takes Magnus' bait, and moves to engage the wily tiefling. With a spoken word of power, Magnus activates the circle teleporting himself, the chieftain, and any close enough to the Sylanus tower in Dalyr. In the confusion to follow, the Orcs are swiftly resocialised by the House Sylanus guards, and the tower is once again in the hands of the Elves. The party is victorious, and are rewarded handsomely for their actions. The party turns its' attention to Cassengrecca, a sunken and dilapidated city in the far-east. It is said to hold an abundance of riches for adventurers brave enough to enter the Mage Spire which hangs from a great mountain like a mighty stalactite. Rumours abound of dark forces at play, and darker secrets still contained in the forgotten corridors of the Spire.

Session 9: Exhausted by his efforts in the desert-tower, Thori bids a reluctant farewell to his beloved companions. He is forced remain behind as they forge off on their next adventures, in order to slowly heal before the hanging-oak of the City Garden Temple. Disappearing in a blinding flash, with weapons raised in salute, his companions teleport off towards the Blood Elf territory of "The Vael."

The party reach the cursed city of Cassengrecca by airship, a wondrous experience for those who have never graced the skies before, and soon set about garnering information concerning the Mage Spire. A local innkeep informs them of a terrible tale, none who enter the tower have ever returned… The party take his warning under advisement and begin their treasure hunting in the sunken areas of the once great city. Gaining the assistance of a powerful wizard, the party are able to explore the underwater depths, breathing as if they held air in their lungs. Some riches are to be found, including the bones of Magnus' old friend Jan. Suddenly, the party are attacked by vicious sharks, intent on turning them into a scrumptious meal. Whilst fighting underwater proves difficult, the party are able to fend the beasts off, but not before spying a shadowy figure lurking in the deep with them. Returning to the surface, the companions take what they have to a priest trained in the art of scrying, and attempt to communicate with the deceased adventurer found in the murky depths. The unfortunate soul reveals his passing, believing he was struck down by a coven of Vampires who have taken residence in Cassengrecca, and that an entrance to their lodgings may exist under the waves. Wishing not to encounter so fierce a foe, the party decide to scale the abandoned Mage Spire, perhaps riper pickings are to be found within? The climb is arduous and lengthy, but finally they gain access to the lower level of the inverted tower. The labyrinth of corridors soon split the party, with Magnus and Banien finding themselves trapped within a room outside of time. At wits end, Banien drinks from a softly glowing fountain, only to have a strange voice appear in his mind. It promises escape from the tower, if Banien agrees to sequester the voice along for the ride. Banien reluctantly accepts, but soon finds more suitable host for the voice in the thrice-damned tiefling, Magnus. True to its word, the party is reunited, and continues their ascent of the tower. Reaching the uppermost levels, the party ready themselves for what may come…

Session 10: Planting boot upon door, Magnus enters the room, sword drawn at the ready. Watchful Lucien stands at his shoulder, bow nocked and taut. What greets them is a surprise to all. As one, over a dozen blood-red eyes turn from a banquet of meat and blood, fanged mouths breaking into wicked grins. Ultionis teleports away in a crack of cold air, retreating to the relative safety of the city below with his magics. The remaining party wait on baited breath. To their shock, the Vampires offer them to join in their feast, to drink and be merry, for life is but a passing thing. Feeling cornered, the party do as requested. The Vampires seem a jovial lot, asking questions of the parties intentions and adventures, relishing in the tales told by mere mortals. Magnus partakes in the consummation of blood, and finds it to his liking, while Lucien and Banien abstain from such actions. After many hours have passed, the party are made an offer. Work for the coven as informers and scouts, and they shall be handsomely rewarded. After some deliberation, an accord is reached, and the party are free to leave, each bearing a brooch displaying a bloodied first grasping mangled crowns. Ultionis keeps a cautious distance from his companions, their returning unharmed indicating a possible new allegiance. Having discovered his fondness for the vitae of mortals, Magnus entreats a warband of Blood Elves to share with him their tales, before retiring to a private chamber to pray with a Viellan Priestess from amongst their ranks. Some minutes later, a might bellow is heard from within the tavern, and a fearsome beast comes crashing through the wall. Standing 14 feet tall, each of its four arms ending in a wickedly curved talon, the abomination rampages through the town on a wanton orgy of destruction. Women, men and children all lie dead in the streets, the slaughter is without prejudice. As the party flee the scene, Banien confides his suspicions, that the beast they just witnessed is the same one that resides in Magnus's mind. Fearing their companion dead, or worse, the party move into the surrounding forrest, the sounds of armageddon in the distance…

A gentle breeze rustles through the morning air, still heavy with the smell of ash. Cassengreca lays a smouldering ruin, a half-day’s journey eastward. Entombed within, the charred and mangled corpses of over 300 souls now consigned to the afterlife. Bow raised. Flights resting alongside cheek. Eyes, narrowed in concentration. Muscles singing with exertion. Lucien stands, visioning the arrows path as it crosses the expanse between him and the target. Beside him stands Banien, knives held loosely in agitated fingers. Spinning, rotating, razor-steel catching the dawn light. Both warriors are coiled like springs, ready to act at a moment’s notice, ready to unleash destruction.
Magnus stands across from them, some 20 paces away. Clad in borrowed armour, and brandishing a blade of striking beauty. The sword seems to emanate a barely contained wrath, a sentience that thirsts for slaughter, its surface an ever-changing myriad of scarlet and obsidian veins.
The silence is broken by Banien.
“What bargain did you strike? What did the daemon offer you in return? That blade you now carry? Does it contain the spirits of those you sacrificed, those you sent wailing and screaming in fear and pain to the other realm? ANSWER ME!”
Magnus is relaxed, arms akimbo, sword point resting on the ground.
“You should understand, Banien. It was you after all who found the beast. Who let it escape the Spire. When you discovered yourself too weak to contain it, you offered it to me. Begged me to release you from its embrace. Don’t blame me for the actions you set in motion”
Banien bristles at the insult, his eyes wild with fury.
“Had I known the cost, I would of gladly thrown myself from the Spire’s summit. Better to die a man than live as a slave, Magnus”
Lucien speaks, his voice rustles like leaves on the wind.
“That is no defence, Magnus. You are one of the dark-kind. You should have known better. You could have turned to any one of us for help. We were brothers. Forged in adventure and battle”
A derisive snort escapes Magnus’s lips.
“Ha! Helped? What could have you done, elf? This is no wolf, nor elk, nor drake. A daemon is not something you can train or domesticate. Nor can you stop it with an arrow from your bow. It is not of this world. I did what was necessary to survive. No matter what, I will always survive”
“At what cost though? So many lives, Magnus. Not all of them were scum and mercenaries. There were families, children, and innocents. You slaughtered them, indiscriminately. Such a travesty cannot go unpunished”
“Enough!” Exclaims Banien. “Magnus! You will stand for your crimes. By Cifyre, balance shall be restored!”
With a howl of anger, Banien lunges at Magnus, his blades aimed squarely at the tiefling’s heart. Lucien’s bow thrums, releasing its deadly payload. The arrow covers the distance between them in less than a heartbeat, straight and true. Faster than the eye can see, faster than mortal limits, Magnus sweeps his sword in a wide defensive arc. His blade cleanly bisects the arrow directed at his throat, the halves spinning harmlessly into the forest. Banien is upon him, knives darting like snakes from a vipers pit. Magnus sweeps sideways, wrong-footing the assassin. The knives stab into thin air, the place where moments before the tiefling stood. Magnus unleashes a thundering riposte into the exposed flank of Banien, the wondrous blade biting deep, passing through armour like it was parchment and finding flesh beneath. The metal pulses and gleams as blood spills from the wound, not a drop touches the ground. A swift twist and the sword pulls free, spraying viscera like a fine mist into the chill air.
The entire encounter lasts less than a second.
Banien slumps to the ground, knives dropping from slack hands. He lies in a slowly spreading pool of gore and vitae, grey skin splattered in droplets of crimson. Lucien’s face is a mask of horror, to see his companion struck down so contemptuously. Magnus chuckles, a low rumble that wells from deep within his chest and rattles from between pointed teeth.
“Your move, elf”
Lucien notches a new arrow and lets fly, dashing across the clearing to gain distance. Magnus effortlessly dodges the projectile as he strides forward.
“You’ll have to do better than that, Lucien. Face me with those blades you carry upon your hip!”
Lucien ignores the taunt and fires again and again, a veritable hail of missiles rain down upon the fearsome tiefling. Some find their mark, grazing and glancing from armour or parried mid-flight.
“You can’t keep this up forever! You’ll run out of arrows soon!” Bellows Magnus.
A sudden pain strikes into his thigh, followed by a spreading numbness. Looking down, Magnus sees a quivering dagger protruding from his knee, its hilt in the shape of a coiled serpent. Banien coughs weakly and lets his arm drop to the dust, his last ounce of strength sapped from the attack. He smiles and rolls his head to face morning light, the warmth reaching out to embrace him as his soul flees its mortal shell. Magnus howls in pain, the poison from the dagger burning like acid in his veins. His howl reaches a crescendo as Lucien’s arrow finds his chest, forcing him to one knee.
“Draw your blades, coward! Face me like a man!” He screams at Lucien.
Lucien nocks another arrow and fires, the missile striking Magnus in the hip.
“Why? Does the wolf sheath its claws because the bear ask him?”
A hiss, followed by a thud as another arrow makes its mark. Another cry of pain escapes from fanged mouth.
“You do not deserve the death of an honourable man, Magnus. You spent your last moments in this life bringing fear and pain to others. You are no man. You are an animal”
Hiss! Thud!
“A man receives an honourable death”
Hiss! Thud!
“An animal is put down”
Hiss! Thud!
Magnus lies prone, his body bleeding, punctured and desecrated. His breath comes in hurried gasps, air fleeing his ruined chest. He coughs and then laughs, the sound like bones shaken in a wooden box.
“You can’t truly kill me, elf. I’ll be reborn. And I will hunt you to the ends of the realm”
He lifts his head to catch eyes with Lucien.
“I will capture your soul, and I will delight in tormenting it for all eternity”
Lucien bends and retrieves the scarlet blade from where it had fallen. Placing the point over the tiefling’s heart, he whispers.
“Save your words for the after-life, friend. I’m certain there are some souls there eager to speak with you”
The blade slides in, as softly as silk over naked flesh. A final shuddering gasp and Magnus is still.
Lucien leaves the blade, and walks over to the prone form of Banien. He sits beside his friend and faces the dawn light, the warmth reaching out to embrace him. The morning air breezes past him, the smell of ash and death forgotten now, the fresh scent of dew on fallen leaves upon the winds…

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