The Burnt World of Athas

Session 14
To Redeem a Defiler

The party used the books at their disposal to learn a great deal about the sorcerer kings. The powerful sorcerers had been allied before they took on their titles, and had all been disciples of a man named Rajaat. They eventually turned against him, defeated him, and split up the tablelands for themselves. Oddly they seemed cooperative, with Kalak being essentially given Tyr because it was the easiest to defend and control. The clues in the books allowed them to piece together the order of their deaths, which the party thought was necessary for them to open the magical barrier.

They also used magic to speak with Sukir's dead body, his mouth answering their questions despite his lifeless gaze. He told the party the spear could kill Kalak. They asked how to use the spear and he said by channeling preserving power into it. When asked what he could have done differently to succeed in his mission, he seemed to put the blame for his death and incomplete success on his allies.The party wanted to ask where the spear had come from, but he no longer responded to their questions. Mulses took his body with them.

As they finished their research and rest, they spotted a walking, vaguely anthropomorphic mushroom traveling past. Kid tried to stop him or communicate with him but he continued along. Although Kid and others took notice that all the books he carried were in halfling or concerned halflings. Eventually as Kid blocked his path, he heard a voice from behind him. A monstrously human-like-yet-not-human woman stood before him. She seemed friendly enough, especially once she learned the party had killed the ones who had smashed her mushroom-children. 

Her name was Myrna, and she chided the party for having taken a shortcut within the library, something she said the library would not abide. She offered to lead them back to where the portal was. First she snapped Bright Eyes out of her reverie, since she had become obsessed with a book entitled "To Redeem a Defiler." She was sure she would find the secret to undoing the "scar on her psyche" that Shivrin had spoken about, but the answer was always just on the next page. Myrna said these ensorcelling tomes were one consequence of taking shortcuts. 

The party continued, with Myrna leading. Along the way they traded information about who they were. The party revealed their origins and goals, which Myrna laughed at, or at least gave a horribly twisted simulation of a laugh. She detailed the obstacles to killing Kalak, the spells he had at his disposal, including a powerful word of death he could continue to utter over and over. Epione assured the group she had a retort, a way to channel her goddess and weaken his spell casting power and stop his ability to regenerate his spells. 

Myrna in turn revealed that she had been a Templar of Kalak. Through questioning they were able to piece together she had not been on the surface for at least a couple hundred years, when she had abandoned Kalak for the library. He had searched, seemingly for centuries, for something within the library, with no success. She said he was unwilling to pay the price the library required, a price of journeying and overcoming physical and mental obstacles to reach enlightenment. He sent her to find what he wanted, and she had wandered the halls ever since, choosing the path of enlightenment she said the library offered. Her task was to find something about the power of creation, the ability to make life. The sorcerer Kings had all learned powerful words of destruction, but not their counterparts. She had succeeded partially at least, and had created her mushroom children with what she learned, as well as extending her own life.

As they neared the arcane gate, Kid caught sight of a tome entitled: Kalidnay: the City that Waits. He seemed convinced that the true fate of Kalidnay and the origin of his company was contained somewhere in the book, though just out of his reach. He became ensorcelled just as Bright Eyes had, until Myrna snapped him out of it. She asked if anyone had tried taking a book from the library and said that was another consequence, so the party returned what they had (except for the tomes Chronicler had spent the night transcribing). 

It seemed the books might have actually existed somewhere in the library, but these books were just traps, they contained no real information, just a projection of the readers own knowledge and their desire for more. The party considered they may want to return some day, and temporarily traded tokens with Myrna, so that they could locate each other. She also said her mushrooms could usually lead them to her.

She wished them well in their impossible task and almost certain death. They teleported back the crossroads with one path leading to the magical barrier. The nausea they usually felt on passing through a portal did not dissipate, in fact it seemed to get stronger as they neared the wall. They feared it a sort of diluted, yet persistent, defiling. They assembled the statutes in the order they believed, failing once and burning DragonPaw in the process. But on the second try they succeeded, the words dissipated and reformed to say: Look how many have perished. Did you think yourself immortal? The party pondered the taunt briefly, but prepared for the great task at hand.

They moved up stairs into a more well formed manmade structure: the base of the ziggurat. Oddly, their nausea ended once they stepped foot inside. They travelled some distance inside and up some stairs to a large room with columns. They heard sounds but saw no sign of Kalak or his bodyguards. Until Malachi used his magic to locate the spear, above them, and an examination by Trigger revealed a malformed, draconic Kalak. In his chest was a sprouting sapling, that called out for more power.

The party fought Kalak and his body guards as Epione attempted to channel her goddess and Malachi used his newfound preserving powers on the tree. The staff / spear / tree was clearly magical, it was easy to preserve and aided Malachi in the process. Every success crippled Kalak's abilities and eventually stunned him. But nonetheless he rained devastation on the party as his golems tirelessly fought back. As Epione's channeling completed, a pillar of blinding light surrounded her, seeming to weaken Kalak further. Hafeeza restored wounded party members. Mulses and DragonPaw bore the brunt of the attack as they and Kid sliced the golems with swords and magic. Bright Eyes had remarkable success opposing Kalak, stopping some of his most powerful magics and hurting him badly. 

As Kalak faltered, a golem succeeded in killing DragonPaw. As Kid retorted and brought the final Golem down, Malachi and Bright Eyes ended the fight, empowering the tree and weakening Kalak too much to resist. It began to grow uncontrollably, subsuming Kalak entirely as he howled. Yet it continued, tearing the foundation of the floor, toppling pillars, and beginning to bring down the floor above. Hafeeza rushed to DragonPaw and tested her newfound powers, with DragonPaw coming to with a gasp. The party rushed out the only doorway they could reach in time. But Epione remained in her collumn of light as the ceiling collapsed around her, the radiant light scorching anyone who tried to touch her.

The party fell out into a passageway that was the opposite passage leading to the room with the magical barrier, stones blocking the path behind them. They gathered themselves, tended to their wounds, and settled on the realization that they had toppled a Sorcerer-King.

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Session 13
For the worthy, my goddess provides redemption

Continuing towards the Templar district, the party found a rickety, old wooden platform suspended by ropes in a pulley system. The apparatus was quite worn and precariously teetered over a 250 foot drop, with an opening on the bottom and another about 150 feet from the top, in the side of the shaft wall. They secured themselves with better rope and descended on the platform, except Malachi who would continue later in gecko form. Sure enough, the elevator platform collapsed, first at the pulley, leaving the rope for Bright Eyes and Kid to hang on to long enough to re-secure their own ropes further down. Then the rest collapsed, sending the wooden platform tumbling after them, though they just managed to swing into the opening before it plummeted by.

This opening led to a long manmade tunnel and after continuing for some time and dodging pit traps that led further downward, the group left the tunnel through a hole in the wall that led back into a winding cave system. This lead to what they believed to be Tembo's Teeth, a series of natural tunnels with man-made openings and structure punctuating the cavern. Ignoring temptations, including a nearby cavern that may have lead to the iron armory, the group continued to the likely base of the ziggurat. Malachi attempted to locate the spear and detected it was a bit above them but in the direction they were travelling. 

They came to a fork. One branch contained a magical portal and the other branch to a room where a circular magical barrier cordoned off the center of the room. The spear was somewhere above them when they were in the cordoned off room, so the party explored there first. There were seven statues strewn about, each with a name at its base. They were: Kalak, Dregoth, Sacha, Myron, Kalid-Ma, Wyan, and Sielba. The statute of Kalak appeared to depict him and the party recognized the name Kalid-Ma as the Sorceress-Queen of Kalidnay, the ancient homeland of the Orphan Company. Sielba also seemed familiar as the name of a sorceress Queen, though no one could place where she ruled, clearly not one of the extant city-states of the Tablelands. The party also saw 7 slots in the ground on the other side of the wall from which they entered. There was another path leading to this circular room from the other direction that they came from. When the party picked up a statute to examine it more closely, words appeared on the surface of the magical barrier:

<section>

Troll Scorcher was the first to fall

crushed by the weight of his sin.

Betrayers next toppled Bodach’s wall,

slaying the good lord within.

 

Kalid-Ma turned her city to night

and slipped into eternal void

once Dregoth fell to his rival’s might,

the fate she sought to avoid.

 

Kobold-Curse died after Wyan the Pure

while Dregoth still reigned with his wife.

The King of Guistenal, that wicked usurper,

fell to Sielba’s and your knife.

 

With that you wiped your regal hands clean

as peace settled over the strife.

But you neglected to tend the chained Pyreen,

now you too shall be but a tree of life.

</section>

The party tried to piece together the possible references of titles to Sorcerer Kings, but they did not know enough about these figures, most of whom they had never heard mention of in the chronicles or otherwise. Kid decided to step through the portal instead and see where it lead: a large, decrepit, and confusingly laid out library. The party deduced that they had teleported all the way to the Labyrinthine Library, far to the east of where they had just been, though still deep under the city. The library was covered in large mushrooms, some of which had been hacked to pieces. There size increased to incredible proportions down certain passageways, as large as a person, and some as large as buildings. The party avoided these passages. 

A recently lit torch hung in a sconce, suggesting they were not alone. Also the absence of some dust suggested books had been disturbed. The party's search yielded two two discernible patterns in the disturbed books: they either concerned historical leaders and battles or referenced figures holding themselves out as gods. The books held a trove of knowledge that was shocking in how foreign it was. Kid read quickly and what caught his eye was a passage about "scorcher" which was one of three legendary swords, the others being silencer and scourge. They were made by an ancient powerful master who had once led 15 champions, champions who would become the sorcerer kings and queens. Other sections referred to him by name and title. Rajaat, the War Bringer. 

Bright Eyes perused the sections on would be deities and discovered references to the former "emperor god" of Tyr who held himself out as a divine being, not a mere mortal but something greater and older and more powerful. A sun god.  Given the apparent fate of him and his temple, the party seemed skeptical of his claims.

Eventually noises caught the party's attention and they found, in a tight alley of books, the priestess of Melora they had encountered in the Elven market. She seemed happy to see them and said she was sent here by her goddess to aid them, that this was divine providence, and that they had to kill Kalak to prevent him from becoming an abomination of a false god. She claimed to have been led by Melora out of the dungeon she was kept in to deep within UnderTyr. She had looked for the temple of Melora, having heard legends of it, but failed to find it. What she did find was a portal to a library with texts that referenced the gods. Though she believed many of them to be false, she had spent hours down here trying to learn what she could.

The party wasn't too keen on the loon, but saw no harm to allowing her to tag along. She said her name was Epione and warned that others were here in the library, she had heard the voices of at least one man and woman talking. The party continued their search and began to detect that many books that had been disturbed were not returned, and all the books they did search skirted around the details that they needed to attach title to name. The others in the library must have taken the important texts. Scouting ahead, Trigger encountered the others, a woman who appeared to be a Templar and a man who quickly nocked an arrow on the sight of the kes'trekel, along with 4 guard drakes, not true drakes but obedient lesser beings created by the sorcerer kings.

The party debated what to do upon Trigger's return and was soon interrupted by the lady. After some posturing and revealing of useless information that showed they knew something and didn't mind showing it, she invited them to come back and examine the books they had found to try to solve the issue together. She them to a large study area where the party found Sukir, who had been tortured to death it appeared. Epione lamented that she could have saved him if she had been here sooner, but that it was too late now, drawing more eye rolls for the convenience by which the situation always seemed to just be outside of the powers of her goddess. 

The party also kept an eye out for the other man and could not find him. As they peered at the texts he loosed a deadly arrow that would have been fatal had Bright Eyes not fortuitously moved away. Likewise the Templar Mage began casting a spell as her drakes surrounded the party. A fierce battle ensued, the Templar unleashing a torrent of fire on the party as the drakes relentless attacked with no concern for the injuries they took from the magic. The would be assassin was hounded and rendered mostly ineffective by Kid, but Bright Eyes and Malachi had their hands full with the Templar herself, even with Epione's healing magic aiding them. 

After a brutal series of attacks by the surrounding drakes and a powerful fireball blast, Malachi fell, succumbing to his injuries and drifting off to a peaceful, eternal slumber. Bright Eyes lay unconscious and Kid was prepared to retreat to gather the rest of the company from the library. But first Epione walked into the still smoldering flames, not to the unconscious Bright Eyes, but to the very dead Malachi. She whispered a prayer to her goddess and Malachi gasped in agony, life returning to him along with the pain of all the burns and slashes. She smiled at Malachi and then brought Bright Eyes back to her feet.

Despite being nearly exhausted of spells and all almost dead, the party eked by. Malachi became a crodlu to shield his allies with his newfound considerable health. Kid relentlessly hacked at the Assassin until he fell. And a spell from Bright Eyes dropped the Mage just as she used a magical orb to restore her power and prepare what would have certainly been a final spell to end the battle.

Near death, the party glanced around the smoldering room and the bodies of their enemies and assembled their bounty.

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Session 12
For the Free City of Tyr

The group went back to deal with Cutter and get restitution of a sort. They walked in on an argument between Cutter and Miriam that was already devolving. When they entered, Cutter ignored them and discussed with some assembled veiled ones. Miriam was apologetic and embarrassed and said Hakar and Shivrin were coming back and would tend to their wounds and aid them. Cutter, not so much with the apologies, snorted at Miriam's rambling. When Hakar came back he was clearly enraged at Cutter, but restraining himself. 

Cutter meanwhile showed less restraint, beginning a tirade against the party, accusing them of being Templars since they carried steel and afagari weapons, and then sharing what he had overheard Shivrin say about Bright Eyes. Shivrin had said, in an overly flowery way, that he sensed Bright Eyes was a dedicated defiler, or at least at some point had been a defiler for such a length that she had severed some sort of connection with Athas. There was a palpable change in the room after this, everyone looking uncomfortable or disgusted. Bright Eyes defended herself, admitting that it was true but that she was working towards redemption, and that no one could be judged purely on what they had done in the past. Nori latched on to this, reminding Cutter of the horrible deeds he had committed before joining them, and the fact that it was rather convenient he would become so idealistic now that there was valuable equipment to be gained. 

Hakar deferred to the party's wishes for what should be done, and they in turn deferred to Bright Eyes, though Malachi made it clear he believed mercy was the best course. Bright Eyes agreed, stating that two of Cutter's men had been slain anyway and the party would survive. This lead to some posturing of what would have happened if Cutter had stayed to fight. Among the group that seemed to side with Cutter was a noticeably large individual, perhaps a small Goliath or enormous human, with an unclear gender who Cutter referred to as Gwyn. Gwyn had a pole arm with a half moon blade on one side and a mezzaluna like blade on the other, as well as a lacquered mask of a Gaj.  

Hakar followed the parties wishes and said he would deal with Cutter later, but Cutter wanted to be dealt with right then and there. He and his half dozen supporters stood up and Cutter stated that he was through dealing with Hakar's weakness. He asked the party to keep their steel shiny for him and walked past them to leave. The group had one more opportunity to deal with Cutter and let it pass, something Chronicler was sure would come back to haunt them. Shivrin agreed they may pay a price for their mercy, but that it was worth living a life of principle so that eventually, perhaps, the world would become a better place through example. DragonPaw scoffed at this.

As they were having their wounds tended, Shivrin led Malachi through meditation excerises meant to allow him to sense the presence of living things and reach out to them. He indicated this was an early lesson in preserving. Bright Eyes asked to join along and was welcome, though Shivrin said it would be futile, and it did turn out to be so.

They party headed out again, although their armor was not fully repaired yet. They traveled a good distance to what they believed would be an entrance to the crawl. A steep slope downward seemed promising, and they took it to a hallway where they detected a trap door and another door on the ceiling clearly holding back a great weight. After some attempts at various methods they found a safe way to blast the door, release the sand held within, and open a passage to the other side. On the other side they saw a warrens-like section of an ancient city. It had been razed and buried, but a cross section remained in the long narrow corridor. They made their way through buildings at times and former alleys at others, until they encountered a dense fog. It seemed clearly magical, had an unsettling white noise of a rushing stream emanating from with it, and was incredibly dense. After using Mulses as a test subject, they decided to tie each other together with rope and continue through. 

Once inside party was surrounded by the growing sound of many voices talking at once. They were quickly disoriented with half sure that they other half was walking in the wrong direction. But one of the halves also began to hear discernible voices in the sounds. The party rushed to continue, using spells to clear paths and relying on Mulses strength to drag party members in the right direction, assuming that those who didn't hear voices were correct in their sense of direction. Those who could hear voices could make out they were specters of people at the brink of an attack by Kalak, they spoke of the free city of Tyr, and that they would law down their lives in the fight against Kalak to keep their freedom. Later the voices seemed to prepare for battle, and finally the battle itself played out in the mists. It was a rout, with sorcerers raining down death on the former citizens of Tyr. Just as Mulses was pulling everyone through, Kalak himself appeared in the mist, not the somewhat inept, blustering politician but an imposing figure, waves of magic radiating from him, whose very sight brought Bright Eyes (the only one still seeing the visions) to her knees. 

Eventually they made their way through, and found themselves in a much larger chamber, though still a cross section of old Tyr. This chamber had large chunks of rubble strewn about and an enormous building at the far end of the cavern that seemed to extend beyond the cavern wall itself. Some investigation revealed that the rubble to the side was a single enormous statute of a figure in a royal pose, holding a scepter across his or her chest and adorned with symbols of the sun. The face of the figure had been destroyed, seemingly purposefully. The party went to the entrance of the grand structure and encountered a drake statue with an open mouth standing before a charred bowl. They made an offering to the statue of meat and the doors it guarded opened. 

Within was a single grand hall with another set of impractically large stairs. The hall's ceiling stretched up to 6 windows at the very top, one of which in the far back clearly opened to a room behind the cavern that the party entered from. the room itself was full of skeletons and mold of both varieties. Some skeletons laid about, but most were impaled on spikes made of some sort of bone or tusk. The party investigated and eventually, through carefully removing the mold, discovered these bodies bore the same symbols as the statue outside. The bodies also appeared to be decades or centuries old. They took great care to remove the mold to form a path to the stairs and up the stairs, where they encountered more skeletons and three more recently killed bodies that were still years old, but not as old as the rest. The landing on top of the stairs also had a sepulcher on it, and a single raised tomb with a relief that resembled the statute outside. It stated on a plaque: the throne of the sun god. 

The party decided to take their time and clear a path all the way to the collumn leading up to the stairs and then to climb the collumn, clearing a path along the way. This way their exit was secured in case something stirred within the tomb or if the dead came back to life upon it's disturbance. After taking precautions, they lifted the lid with rope while they were safely away, to reveal the sarcophagus was empty, though there seemed to be writing on the inside. Sure enough, the dead immediately rose, shambling about the platform in search of the disrupters. The party rained down attacks to clear a path for Hafeeza and DragonPaw, who risked the journey to read the writing. While Hafeeza rebuked the dead, Dragonpaw read the inscription: Beware the fate of all those who oppose Kalak the Great. The words were themselves magical runes, and Bright Eyes believed they reanimated the dead. He destroyed the runes, bringing the overwhelming tide of dead back to rest, permenantly. The party then discussed the meaning of the runes, it was a powerful magic and it's functioning was tied to a caster. Someone who had originally placed the spell centuries ago and who must have still been alive at this day to keep such powerful magic functioning. While there were other possibilities such as reliquaries of power, etc, it really suggested one clear and more likely possibility: Kalak was still alive.

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Session 11
It must be good to be a Templar whore

The group reconvened after concluding their grim task. While debriefing everyone eventually came to agree that the choice was inevitable and the action had to be taken. Except Hafeeza, who insisted there were other options that had to be exhausted, however unlikely they were to succeed. She stormed out, going back to Hasan to purchase a cure, though he could not be sure the antitoxin would work since she did not know exactly which poison was used. She spent every ceramic she had on 15 doses, and went to the Warrens to distribute them.

On the way back Bright Eyes saw Hafeeza was being tailed, but she entered before Bright Eyes could get a message to her. The tail also vanished once Hafeeza entered the safehouse. Towards the end of their rest the party could hear a tumult; people discovering their neighbors and family suddenly dead. The sounds of chaos outside quickly escalated, but the party remained indoors. In the dead of the night they left to find access to UnderTyr, with Hafeeza saying she forgave the party because she knew they could become better people (spoiler alert: they don't). They could see piles of dead being burned already and hear the whispered gossip of a sneaky, despicable assault on Tyr's water by the encroaching Urikite army.

The party kept an eye out for more tails and quickly noticed a series of individuals pointing out the party to others; an elaborate hand off that tracked the party as they walked through the warrens. They did not follow or stop any of them but continued on, and used an apparent lull in their pursuit to quickly inspect the dead end alley where they suspected an entrance to underground.They found it, went inside, and covered their tracks behind them.

A roughly hewn stone corridor stretched on into darkness ahead of them. Both yellow and brown mold grew along the floor and ceiling, which Chronicler warned the party about. Eventually they encountered a magical barrier in their path and investigated it carefully. They learned that the barrier was formed by the reflection of one half of a set of runes etched on the ground with the other half in a mirror on the ceiling. Hafeeza mended one etching on the stone, breaking the barrier.

After looking at their options and estimating their placement in the city the group decided to try locating the spear again and walking towards the crypts to see if the spear was in the ziggurat. The party sensed nothing so began the long walk to the crypt, ignoring forks and branching paths. Until individuals stepped out from a side path and surrounded them, saying they were glad they had followed their message. The party asked to continue alone while the spell persisted then return to speak to the presumed Veiled Alliance. They did so, sensing the spear was further underground and to the west, before they entered the crypts.

Returning to the people who had interrupted their walk, the party was ushered through an opening in an apparently collapsed tunnel and into a series of twisting corridors that opened to interconnected caverns, none on their original maps. Walking past dozens of individuals they eventually settled in a room. The interrupters were curious how the party passed the barrier without using the mold, and the party revealed how. The Veiled Alliance had not set up the barrier and was not sure they could fix the "mending," but also didn't seem concerned. The barrier was never going to stop an attack by Templars, but it was useful for keeping out undead who rose after wasting sickness, who for some reason seemed drawn to it.

The Veiled Alliance made introductions. Everyone seemed to take their lead from a half elf named Hakar. There was an elf named Shivrin who eventually revealed he was a Druid, taking interest in Malachi's gift of assuming animal forms once he detected a hint at that. Nori was a gruff Mul and Mariam a naive seeming half elf. They were most interested with how Malachi came to learn the language.Once he revealed how, Hakar said he believed his "parents" were once members of their order and that he knew them. 

At first they warmly questioned the party, but soon it became clear that they knew the answers to the questions they asked. They revealed they had been following the party since Bright Eyes went back to examine the Druidic marks left in response. 

The veiled ones already knew the group worked with Tithian but hoped they could be counted upon when needed. They warned immediately that they could offer no money and few, if any, resources but that more was at stake. What they wanted was the party to come to their aid when they finally revealed themselves. They planned to do so at the next large public gathering, which they assumed would happen with the Templar lords eventually, so that they could speak to the populace about the siege and the goings on and the new order, whatever it would be. The party thought this a foolhardy plan, and urged hem to wait until the siege was over, but Hakar said by then it would be too late, and Tithian would have consolidated power and hatched some plot to become indispensable or unstoppable. His power did not come through his personal magic or ability, but from his influence and those he had at his disposal. 

It also became clear that there was disagreement among the veiled ones about trusting the party. While Shivrin and Hakar turned to discussion of collaboration, Nori continued pressing the party. Hafeeza had been followed by their tails also. Why did she provide water to others in the Warrens? When Nori (bluffed) that the 15 who had water did not die, Hafeeza seemed relieved.  Had she known there was a poisoning? How? Fortunately, Kid had suggested exiting the Templar district from the North Gate, so it seemed their tails had seen them enter the Templar district but not leaving with the poison. Likewise, Mulses was a slave? Where? He had no fought in Tyr and she believed he lied when he tried to answer. Eventually Nori's questioning was stopped by Hakar, though she had not received satisfactory answers yet.

Hakar asked for all they had done and been asked to do for Tithian. After it became clear that the party had only eradicated records for Tithian and had done (or would share) nothing more, the Veiled Alliance took their leave. They offered escorts to the lower areas of the under city, though no one in the alliance ventured there. There was shuffling outside after Hakar and company left the group, and the ones most familiar with the deep city were slimy looking rogues, former gang members turned veiled ones. One introduced himself as Cutter and asked the more capable party to take the lead. 

They made their way through twisting paths and forks for a long way until, suddenly, Mulses and Hafeeza found themselves in a gelatinous cube. As the party dealt with the ooze, one of cutter's men stabbed Chronicler in the back, taunting him about the shiny gear one gets when they're a whore of the Templars. More oozes appeared, some of the metal-corroding variety, as well as a swarm of intelligent, psionic scarabs. It readily became apparent that the oozes were no coincidence, the veiled ones having led them into this hallway to set an ambush.

The party avenged their betrayal on the 2 lesser rogues, though Cutter escaped entirely unscathed as soon as the tide turned. Grievously wounded, the party finished the oozes and scarabs and turned to thoughts of how to proceed in their state. 

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Session 10
Would that I had been born a simple laborer

The party ground the coins to powder and dispersed the remnants to prevent being tracked. They also took the log entry for the hour of their entrance to Tyr. While having this access to the archives, they raided it for any information they thought relevant.

Bright Eyes found logs of the under city by former librarians. Piecing together information from different epochs allowed her to match up maps with locations she knew, and suggested 2 access points in the modern city, one under the golden tower and one in the sorrows. 

Kid looked up Sukir's entry to the Festival of the Soaring Sun. He was registered as a gladiator owned by Aristophenes and sponsored by Hasan, a local apothecary. Surprised at this sloppiness, Kid painstakingly removed this page and replaced it with a forged replica that was identical except for the entry for Sukir.

Kid also took public speeches and minutes of Lord Templar meetings to try to get a better grasp of Tyrian history and politics.

Mulses looked up the water logs that Chronicler briefly mentioned mentioned and took them, though he found no significance when he skimmed through them. 

The party then had to decide what to do with the librarian and their sign-in. After exhausting all possibilities of magically manipulating or tricking him, they determined the only way to ensure their tracks were covered was to murder the librarian and destroy the log. They did so.

Heading to the inn, the streets were packed with guards. They roved in bands conscripting any able-bodied individual under orders of King Kalak. Intimidation by Kid and the letters of marque flashed by Bright Eyes spared the party from conscription.

Bright Eyes noticed small etchings under the marks Malachi had left and took a rubbing. The party went back to the inn and Malachi could read the response to his message: "By force, if needed," then the symbol for underground. While the rest of the party went upstairs to unload the books, Bright Eyes stayed in the tavern, having recognized the melody that began playing when she walked in as a rare Nibenese song played at special occasions. The same minstrel group as before sat in the corner playing and Bright Eyes did not know the female singer or musicians. The words of two refrains had been slightly altered, which alarmed Bright Eyes. She went upstairs to warn the others. The song's refrain was:

I walked to the well and who did I see

With her eyes full of sadness and fear

O sister Astrid why would you flee

And leave your sweet sister in tears

 

I walked to the palace, who did I see

Looking so worn and so aged

O sister Astrid why would you flee

And leave your good husband enraged

Taking this as a warning that her past had caught up with her, Bright Eyes shared the news without revealing what it meant exactly. But she believed this was a clear threat to her and therefore the party, and a sign that the location was not safe. While Bright Eyes went out the front door to a rendezvous point, the party members unloaded the books and took them to the safehouse along with their belongings, leaving some items in the room and their crodlu in the stables.

The party went to Hasan's apothecary to speak with the likely co-conspirator. They first made attempts to imply their connection with the veiled alliance. They then confronted him with the proof of his conspiracy which scared him. Since they weren't arresting or killing him, he assumed they were blackmailing him. When they offered the chance for him to destroy the papers, Hasan's concern gave way to relief. 

It became clear that he assumed the party had been hired by Aristophenes to resolve the issue. He said he would destroy the log and communicate to Aristophenes that their mission was successful so they could receive whatever payment was promised. The party wanted information before handing it over, and after some discussion Hasan obliged and largely confirmed what they party already suspected.

The Veiled Alliance did have someone on the inside, and it was Tithian himself. When the party asked why he would then summon Urik, Hasan was confused. He didn't believe Urik's attack was part of Tithian's betrayal, although they also probably weren't coincidences. They sprung out of a common catalyst, both had learned Kalak's plan and acted to stop it or take advantage of it. 

The party said they were unaware of Kalak's plan and Hasan shared what had been at stake: Kalak sought to sacrifice the entire city for a ritual that would have made his power nearly limitless. It sounded insane, but people he trusted had found proof of this. This is what caused the unlikely partnership of Tithian and the veiled alliance. Hammanu must have learned of this as well and sent his army to either stop Kalak or take advantage of the chaos that would ensue. Hasan would not give the party the location of the veiled alliance but offered to serve as a drop point for communication and to let the alliance know what the party had done for the cause. He also assured the party that the veiled alliance had no interest in folding to Hammanu and trading one tyrant for another.

The party then decided they had spent enough time dodging Tithian and went to him. He seemed unfazed by their absence and was delighted by the news he had already heard of what happened at the archives. It seems templars had been busy with other orders, so no one was able to investigate the logs before their destruction and that's why the archives were so empty that morning. That took care of the first item he would have had for the party and he had only one other pre-seige task for them.

First, the party shared that they wanted to track Sukir's spear, which Tithian supported. His fellow Lord Templars wanted to instill order by carrying on a ruse that Kalak was alive, something Tithian thought foolish. Recovering Kalak's corpse or proof of it could help him. He briefly described Kalak's guards, who presumably were the ones moving him and would be with his body.

Tithian then shared his other task. Kalak had squandered the available water in the preceding weeks in an attempt to pack the city. That meant despite Tyr's springs, there was not nearly enough water for all of the inhabitants. The conscription had cleared the warrens of any able bodied individuals, although it was taking longer to do the same in the other areas. That meant all that remained were the infirm, the elderly, and children, all useless during the siege; mouths to feed that provided nothing in return.

The three of them would take a large water shipment to the warrens, set up in the main square, and provide free water to the Warrens. This water would be poisoned. After the deaths, it would be revealed that Urik had poisoned the water supplies. This would cut down the number of unproductive individuals and motivate the new conscripts, who would hopefully banish any thought of surrendering to Hammanu or turning on the Templar-Lords and instead focus on avenging the deaths of their loved ones. It was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately necessary and unavoidable. These people would die of thirst one way or another, the question is how much rioting and unrest must accompany it. Tithian could not leave this to actual guards because he thought they would leak the information and, if left ignorant, feared they would drink the water, possibly sell some, pilfer some to share with comrades and generally muddle the situation. 

The party saw no flaw in the plan. They requested 7 guard uniforms and Tithian obliged. They then escorted the Mekillot laden with water to the Warrens. They put on an act of defending the water and doling it out carefully to keep up appearances. They also ensured that no one horded water (leaving behind complicated stores) and instead only took a serving. A crowd massed and followed them all the way to Sorrow Square. the elderly hoisted children on their backs to take a serving and hand down their own. The sick and infirm hobbled out, others helping them and handing them water. Children thanked the kind guards, saying that they wanted to grow up big and strong so they could also help people . This went on for some time, the party serving dozens, then hundreds, then losing count, until the water stores were exhausted and the Mekillot and rider returned to the Templar district.

Their deed done, the party went back to the safehouse in the Warrens were they had planned to meet up with the rest of the group, who had been resting and poring over the recovered manuscripts.

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Session 9
How do I throw down my chains?

The party investigated the previous evening's events. Wary to get involved in the chaos before knowing where things stood, they did not use their letters of marque or invoke Tithians name and instead took the harder path of investigating on their own. First the party went to the location of a nighttime raid in the warrens. There had been disturbances and even explosions in the night and the party eventually ascertained that Templars raided locations of presumed members of the Veiled Alliance. The locals seemed skeptical that the Templars did anything more than attack helpless commoners who had made it in the black logs for uttering the Kings name in vain or some other petty offense. They did however manage to speak with a local gossip who had been at the arena and after sharing some rations she told them she saw Kalak struck by a spear in the middle of the games. And the spear began to sprout leaves as Kalak was carried away by his King's Guard. Sukir appeared dead as did people in the audience.

The party then went to the Wailing Winds to gather information at the tavern, which was packed despite the empty streets. There were no messages at the front from the Captain, though they had left Glamor in the Warrens to reach out to her. In the tavern performers sang a ribald song about Kalak until a group of off duty Tyrian Guard in the audience told them to stop, starting a tense exchange with the crowd that eventually fizzled out. Deciding not to get involved, the party went on to investigate the arena.

Along the way they encountered a robed woman standing on a statute's pedestal in a square and speaking to the crowd, who was ignoring her, averting eye contact, and hurriedly walking past. They party approached and heard she was proselytizing about her goddess, the protector of nature. Hafeeza shared her skepticism and as they were the only ones looking at her, the lady began to speak to the party. The priestess looked Hafeeza in the eyes and said her goddess' power was real indeed… that she could even have brought Watcher back. Despite her lack of city smarts, Hafeeza was sure this was some trick, likely a ruse where the lady psionically read her thoughts. The party saw someone pointing out the lady to guards and they left just as the guards took her off the platform and silenced her.

At the arena the party found the area closed off by guards and created a distraction with a Nibenay cocktail around the corner of where the entrance was. When that failed to draw away enough guards, Bright Eyes used her charms and some light magic to draw more guards. This worked and though Malachi was found out and turned away, Chronicler made it through as eventually did the gecko Malachi. They saw Templars investigating several dead bodies, but did not see Kalak's or Sukir's among them. Some of the guards had daggorans, the hounds that Malachi had remembered where able to sense magic, and they were in fact sniffing at the air and moving out towards Bright Eyes. The pair left the arena, gathered Bright Eyes and began to walk back to the merchant district. 

Along the way Hafeeza had an idea. She had seen Sukir's staff and as such could locate it through her magic. She found no sign of it, but kept searching and walked back from the ziggurat to the arena and Templar district. As she did so, right as her power faded she detected it. The staff was in the Golden Tower, Kalak's palace. She cast the spell again and sensed the staff was moving towards them but not through any path, it was travelling under the city. As the party caught sight of daggorans once again they cut the magic short and hurried away.

With this new information the party went to the archives with the dual goals of destroying their record of entry and finding a map to the under city. Along the way Malachi left etchings in druidic in secluded streets stating: how do I throw down my chains. They found the archives totally empty, an exterior patrol and a librarian at the front entrance being the only inhabitants. They smooth talked the librarian and flashed their company insignia to make it to the interior. The librarian closed the heavy stone doors behind them leaving them totally empty in the grand archives. 

They investigated the public sections and determined what they needed was in a locked area. Before proceeding further Hafeeza used her powers to  sense the location of the coin she had held to enter the gates. Each of the three rooms had three murals depicting various scenes of Tyr and flanked by stone statutes. Some searching revealed the statues to the right of each mural held a sword and shield, but the ones to the left had a shield and in their other hand what appeared to be a key gripped in a closed fist. The base of the statutes held some arcane text that the party had difficulty deciphering. 

Malachi tried to pick the lock and the statutes turned toward him. He stopped immediately and they returned to their poses. After some trial and error Mulses made the statute drop the key by offering his sword, which the statute grabbed. But when Malachi used the key and entered the room the statute again turned towards him and again he stopped. Mulses returned the key and retrieved his sword then simply ran in to the room towards where Hafeeza sensed her coin. 

All of the statutes in the room sprang to life and attacked, the party defeated them and retrieved the keys. A cursory glance revealed that they had the entry logs of everyone who came to Tyr in the past year. Since the last couple weeks had involved this ceramic coin process, this included about 500 ceramic worth of entry coins sealed in packets. 

They also had the keys to the other murals in this room, one depicting King Kalak in an idolized regal pose speaking to a crowd and the other depicting an arena combat. They still lacked the keys to the room they first investigated, with a mural of an aqueduct, a mural of an underground water tunnel, and an overhead view of all of Tyr. Though that room was laid out in an identical manner with the same statutes.

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Session 8
Have we not already been beset by thieves?

The seven began in a strange situation, well within the city of Tyr with no memory of how they cleared the final entry checkpoint. An examination of their belongings revealed everything was there and intact except for Malachi's and Hafeeza's staves, which were both broken. They examined the situation but went ahead to their company's informal headquarters, a floor of the "Wailing Winds" in the merchant district. 

Glamor, one of the company's two established spellcasters, greeted and debriefed them. She urged them to continue their contracts as she reached out to inform the city-state of the impending army and contact the Captain and nearby Company members. 

The party passed the mostly completed zigurrat and the brickyard. They saw masses huddled to get free water, part of the month-long build up to the Festival of the Soaring Sun. The party knew this was a necessary release valve given the recent brutality of Kalak's slavers. There were also guards burning bodies, which the party learned was due to an outbreak of wasting sickness within the city.

In the Smith's District the party was ushered in to House Voldon to meet a wizened old lady. She urgently inquired about the family carrying the chest and was distraught over news of their death, revealing that they were her child and grandchild, and the heirs of House Voldon. She eventually became convinced that the party tried to protect her family. The chest was opened revealing black rocks: carbon to combine with iron ore and make steel. A weighing confirmed that everything was accounted for. The lady provided 7 vouchers and an escort to the levels below the house where the party could hear the tell-tale sound of a smith. 

They were stopped at the door to the smithy by a quartermaster. He tried to talk the party out of honoring the vouchers and in doing so revealed that they were as the party hoped: permission to purchase metal items from Voldon's forge. After exchanging words they took their leave temporarily, first providing a tip to Lady Voldon about the likely upcoming clash.

The party continued to the High Templar's keep. On the way Bright Eyes saw a familiar face she couldn't quite place. After first being asked to disarm, a well equipped soldier allowed the party to enter, making it clear that he had no concerns over safety from the likes of the group. Inside the party was warmly greeted by Tithian who apologized for the security. The party shared their journey, including the battle with the Templar, which interested Tithian greatly. While Bertrand, the mocking soldier from earlier, questioned the party's capabilities, Tithian reminded him of his own failing in stopping the Templar. The party was elated at Tithian's reprimand, although mostly because of an unnoticed magical effect.

Tithian listened attentively to their recitation and was so impressed by what the party accomplished that he wanted to enter into a further contract. This show of confidence from such a mighty figure (and some more magical effects) again swelled Malachi and Kid's impression of Tithian. Kid wanted to use the chance to get authorization to carry metal. Although Mulses and Bright Eyes started to believe that the two were being unusually friendly. Bright Eyes discovered powerful psionics were the origin of a strange sensation she had during the conversation. This lead to further inspection by her and the realization that it seemed Tithian had surrounded himself with psionicists, which struck her as unusual.

Kid was sure he had the authority to make a contract for Grim and Glamor and the seven of them, as Tithian wanted. But the skepticism of the rest of the party dulled him somewhat. Even in their state the party could tell Tithian seemed to be showing a particular interest in spellcasters. Coupled with his strange retinue they assumed he wanted powers independent of Kalak's and that they had value to him, something he reaffirmed with an earnest plea of their worth.

Eventually an agreement was reached whereby the 7 members would serve Tithian during the siege. He then  left the part to enjoy the room and his free-flowing fermented nectar. As the party left they no longer felt punch-drunk, but still believed they had stuck a fair deal with a powerful patron, and secured an unheard of permission to carry metal arms within Tyr.

The party left for the long walk to the merchants district and saw the city had changed. One huge crowd swelled around the brickyard pushing into the coliseum. They heard from rushing passerbys that the King had ordered the games honoring the Festival of the Soaring Sun to begin immediately because his zigarut was completed early. The opening night promised free food, drink, and prizes to all who entered as well as entertainment from renowned gladiators. 

The streets were nearly empty, it seemed the whole city was at the arena. The party noticed smoke in the distance from the direction of the Urikite army, signs of a large fire, likely burning structures. Astounded that games would be going on despite an imminent siege, they continued along to reach the walls and investigate. As they did so, they felt a passing feeling of pain and weakness which they recognized as defiling. But they could see no circle nor any source for the defilement. 

 

The echoing cheers in the street had given way to chaotic screaming. The party waited for entry to the wall and began to encounter individuals running from the center of the city, most to their homes, although some were banging at the gates. They overheard the commotion at the gates. People were begging to leave and insisting that King Kalak was dead. Incredibly, they believed he had been struck by a spear and killed. The assassin was one of the gladiators, a man named Sukir. The watch captain who had been with the company ordered everyone to their homes and stated a curfew was in effect. 

The party went to their room and learned Glamor had left shortly after their meeting and not returned. They visited company safehouses in the Warrens and found her. They discussed the events: their fruitful negotiations, Tithian's possible motives, the unbelievable rumors of Kalak's death, the possible death of Sukir, and decided what to do next. As the party prepared to step out they saw the soldiers enforcing the curfew peering up at the sky where words appeared written in clouds: throw down your chains and be free.

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Session 7
So long, Sukirs! Orphan Company out!

One hundred and fifty miles and possibly an army stood between the party and Tyr. They rushed to their destination, hoping to provide a dire warning to the city-state as well as complete a series of Orphan Company contracts. The journey started with an incredible sight: Cloud Rays, which Chronicler had vaguely remembered when Trigger first tried to describe them. The enormous flying rays began as billowing dust on the horizon and eventually blocked out the sun as they passed near the Great Road. After overcoming their awe, the party had Trigger reconnoiter and found Urikite troops on the backs of at least one of the gargantuan beasts. Although first worried that the Urikites had managed to tame the creatures, the party eventually surmised that there was, indeed, a passing army and it's movement had accidentally disturbed the slumbering giants.

Chronicler scavenged for resources and followed tiny indications of the presence of water to a very secluded oasis. But it was not totally abandoned, as a Thrikreen soon challenged the party and named himself, quite literally, the guardian of the oasis. Malachi quickly diffused the situation and said he sought permission from the spirits of the land before partaking of any water. The Thrikreen invited the party to sit and have their fill while discussing their journey. He believed that their mission would only beget more violence and destruction, although they were motivated by good intentions. Eventually with coaxing from the group, the Thrikreen offered invaluable aid, a secret route through ravines that would allow the party to by pass the great road and hopefully any Urikite army. He also gave them the location of several water wells, though warned them that water further in the wastes was often a location of conflict, either from people or beasts. Sukir also tried to get in the Thrikreen's good graces with badly mangled Druidic recitation that the party pieced together was the same call sign they had heard before: all are meant to be free. The Thrikreen seemed amused by this.

The party continued at a blistering pace, which soon wore Chronicler out. They ignored temptations in the wastes, and kept out of the presence of other travelers and the possible location of troops. Eventually they reached the ravines that He-Who-Guards-The-Oasis described. They found a blind carefully hidden at the intersection. Using a dust cloud, the party bypassed the guarded ravine but stood watch to attack anyone who came to investigate the cloud, lest they be discovered. A soldier did wander out and was felled by a hail of arrows. He dropped a switch that snapped shut, making a loud pop that echoed through the ravine. The party broke from their position and moved on the blind, seeing that the soldiers had split up and were running towards another ravine. They gave chase, running down or shooting most of the troops, although a soldier managed to take one of their crodlu and escape. The soldier's goal soon became clear, a small encampment with wooden palisades and watchtowers had been erected further in the maze of ravines. Just as he was about to break into the open line of sight of the watchtower, Chronicler loosed a shot that struck him in the neck, killing him so suddenly that he jerked back on the reins of the crodlu. 

The party considered exploring the encampment further but worried Trigger would draw unwanted attention. Upon Sukir's warning, Malachi left the area and transformed into a small burrowing skink to bypass the soldiers along the ridge of the ravine. On the other side of the ridge he sighted an amassed army: hundreds of troops bearing the emblem of Urik, armored mellikots hauling siege equipment, and dozens of calvary. He only briefly caught sight of the encampment before immediately heading back to tell the others. 

They continued at their blistering pace to the Tyr valley and began to encounter signs of civilization: farmland, scattered homes, even a roadside stop with a stable where they spent the evening. The party pressed on to Tyr itself, reaching the gates on the 4th day, well ahead of their contract. They saw signs that the situation in Tyr was not well. More than the normal number of individuals hung from the public stockades that lined the road to Tyr as a warning. Some of the bodies were guarded by large numbers of Tyrian guard and even Templars. A small unruly crowd was being dispersed as the group appeared at the gate. Sukir shared that King Kalak's usual foolishness had reached new heights. He had tasked Tyrian slavers with enormous quotas to provide the labor to complete the towering ziggurat that had been under construction for a year. This had pushed Tyr and it's populace to the breaking point. 

The line was also unusually long to gain entry, though a fee enabled the group to bypass the masses and use the merchant's gate. When they reached the gate checkpoint the party went to register their entry. They were each asked to pay the entry fee with a ceramic coin they pressed in their hand and concentrated on. The registrar watched them closely as they did so and would not let them drop the coin until he was satisfied they had done what he asked. When they dropped it on the provided paper he immediately sealed it with wax. An artist meanwhile drew quick sketches for their identification papers. The party then moved on to the next station, submitting to an inspection by the Templars. Sukir ensured the party that once they made it past the checkpoint they could keep their pick of a crodlu and riding gear while he would return the other 3 to the Balican merchant's post in Tyr.

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Session 6
All are meant to be free

With limited time and several sources of information to pursue, the group split up. First Kid speculated that the water rationing wouldn't affect the group and sold all of his water at a significant markup, a high risk / potentially high reward move. Afterwards Hafeeza and Kid spent the day speaking with advisers from House Wavir and surveying the area with the help of Trigger. What they discovered was a great dust storm in the sand wastes and what Trigger could only describe as birds as large as buildings. They also uncovered the movement of a much smaller number of people along the great road to the north. Fearing they had either been misled from the start or that the army had veered northwards to bypass Altaruk and march on Tyr, they immediately sought an audience with Olgem. They shared this news and beseeched him for immediate mounted transport to Tyr. He dismissed them to deal with this new information and said he would have news of their request in the morning, which they needed anyway for Chronicler to finish resting.

Meanwhile Malachi, Bright Eyes, and Dragonpaw sought leads for a means to escape if needed by looking for someone capable of smuggling a person out of town. Their barkeep knew of possible leads but his contacts would need assurances the party could afford the steep cost of what they asked. Bright Eyes and Dragonpaw displayed their emblem and lacquered mask as a sign of their status and waited at the inn for word from the barkeeps contacts. Malachi, not content with waiting, went to the southern wall to survey possible tunnel routes. He found suitable land for supporting a tunnel in only a certain section of ground and after much searching pursued one of the several caverns that led underground at the base of the mountains. Sure enough, through remarkable chance, this tunnel lead back to Altaruk and to a cellar of a house. Donning the shape of a gecko, he stepped out of the cellar and into a room where he found Bright Eyes and Dragonpaw in a bit of a predicament. 

The pair had been lead around town in a dizzying pace and ultimately waylaid in an alley by 2 greasy thugs who wanted to know their business. They talked their way into an audience with the thug's patron, mainly by playing up their connection with Kyrie. The thugs lead them to a room with a well dressed man who questioned them further. All are meant to be free, he said to Bright Eyes and Dragonpaw. The two nodded quizically and the man immediately walked away, the others in the room grabbing them by their arms. Before the man could leave, Bright-eyes explained that they were not of his group (implying Veiled Alliance), and didn't claim to be, but they had worked with Kyrie, who was one of them.

The man agreed and also noted that the totems meant Dragonpaw and Kyrie were connected and had both drank from the ichor of the tree of life. But he said that connection was their own business and had nothing to do with him or his work. He would only help those allied with him in their cause. As Dragonpaw pointed out, however, Kyrie did believe in the cause and also clearly considered Dragonpaw trustworthy to have encountered him and left him alive. The man said that is why he would leave them alive, but he would do nothing more. Bright Eyes and Dragonpaw were blindfolded and lead around before being dropped off again. But the gecko Malachi headed straight back and noted the location of the cellar and tunnel.

The party regrouped at their room and waited for the morning and word from Olgem concerning  mounts. At the Wavir tower the next morning they learned the most he could offer was the relative safety of travelling with a caravan. The mellikot mount leading the caravan would help make their trip more secure and well provisioned, but would be much too slow for the group's goal. He did agree to provide water, to ensure he appeared cooperative in case King Kalak indeed did care of the group's mission and found he had not provided sufficient aid. He also suggested they try Aristophanes, a wealthy Balican merchant and the only person who could possibly have mounts to spare. They did so and discovered Aristophanes was the man Bright Eyes and Malachi had spoken with the prior afternoon. 

They negotiated a potentially lucrative deal that seemed to work in everyone's interest. He would lend them 4 trained, equipped, adult crodlu mounts to travel to Tyr provided they ensured the safe travel of his man, Sikur, within 6 days. He assured the group that this man would have no trouble entering the city gates, that he was capable of helping on the road, and that they only had to enter the city with him and he would go send word of the mission to the Balican trading outpost in Tyr. If Sikur made it to Tyr alive during this time and all the mounts survived then the group could keep one of the mounts. If the group made it to Tyr with Sikur alive but mounts dead, then they would return the remaining mounts and consider their contract fulfilled. However if the Sikur should perish or not make it to Tyr, then the group would have to reimburse the steep cost of any mounts they had lost along the way.

Horns began to blare as they loaded the mounts. Fearing any further delay the group went to the gates and Aristophanes used his leverage so the party could pass. They learned the horns signaled a giant attack. As the group sped off they managed to avoid and outrun the main giant force. However while travelling through the canyon that led north out of town they had no choice but to pass by an ambush. Some well placed spells and attacks threw the giants off guard and foiled the ambush, allowing the party to speed off to the Great Road. Their travelling companion seemed unphased by the sorcery and in fact remarked that perhaps they would survive this journey after all.

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Session 5
I was just scared of the dark

The bedraggled Orphan Company members pitched camp by the Great Road until they were rested enough to continue to Altaruk without certain death. They spotted a small group far to the north heading in their direction parallel to the road and broke camp, fearing more Urikite scouts would catch them in their weakened state. Continuing south, the group reached Altaruk, although once again on the brink of exhaustion. They had some difficulties at the gate with the Crimson Suns, the company sworn to protect Alatruk and its environs, But it was nothing name-calling and glowering couldn't overcome. Eventually they secured an audience with Olgem, the middle-aged head of House Wavir's outpost in Altaruk and governor of the region.

They urgently warned Olgem that they had encountered Urikite troops deep within Tyrian territory. They marked the location of scouts they had encountered as well a s where they believed the larger army to be, as they had learned from their onetime captive turned shish-kabob. They also warned Olgem of the intercepted messages so he would find more secure means of communication, or at least send a great number of avian messengers. Olgem sent word to the brigade and a state of emergency was declared. A panicked buzz quickly made it's way around town: travel into and out of Altaruk would soon be cut off, the town expected to come under siege.

Dragonpaw made contact with a member of the N'Kosi trading collective to establish a favorable position during the upcoming crisis while the group went to a less reputable dealer to offload their weapons. On their return they encountered a commotion. A little girl stood in the center of a crowd, her hands tied with a length of rope to a post, while her father pleaded with the  large and unruly group. It quickly became clear that she stood accused of defiling, but also became clear that the young child did so unintentionally, if at all. Dragonpaw suggested giving the girl to the Templars to spare her life. Her father was elated at the possibility. The crowd however was not so happy to add to the ranks of their oppressors, though most feared to make that disdain clear.

While the rest spoke with the crowd, Bright Eyes went off with the young girl's neighbor and accuser. She learned the neighbor sounded an alarm after feeling weakness and pain and seeing a bright light. The mob pulled the girl out of her house upon finding the source of that light. Bright Eyes also went into the girl's sparse living quarters and found the proof she sought, a small and weak, but clear, defiling circle encompassing the girl's hammock. It had been hastily hidden by someone dragging a chest on top of it. Also in the hammock was an old tattered felt figurine of a desert rose, which Bright Eyes noted but left.

She returned to the group and gave the symbol for defiler. As Mulses restrained the inconsolable father, Bright Eyes slit the little girls' throat, whispering an apology but also an assurance that this was a far better fate than becoming a Templar. The crowd's blood-thirst quenched, they slowly dispersed with thanks to the company for having dealt with the budding sorceress. The group took the girl's body to a bonfire far from any of the hovels and burned her corpse. 

They returned to their room for a much needed rest, still hoping to make contact with any company members nearby and to prepare plans for travelling to Tyr amid the possible siege.

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