Episode 2

We found a private nook in which to discuss our options and decided to confront the mesenger who carried the letter to Nexus first as he was right upstairs. Vesper and I spoke to the polite but firm Maitre d’ for some time before the messenger, a fellow named George Chaplin, came hopping down the stairs to meet us. Layn’leen later told me that the only reason it took her so long to fetch him was that she paused to llisten while some of Sessus’ men attempted to interrogate Rune about us. She says that Rune was no fount of information, so I suppose that Count Thorn did not think to bring anything worth trading. At least I know that I am not the only one so foolish.

Chaplin, on the other hand, was quite voluble. He seemed like a spigot from which words flowed. I wished that I could find a valve to turn him off with on more than one occaision. His desperation to complete his task, and his constant worry about his Mistress’ desires were not natural. I felt certain that it must be inspired by either magic or trerror, but sadly I did not feel like consulting Vesper on the subject in front of him. He displayed his dedication quite convincingly by grabbing his belongings and insisting that we leave immediately….despite his obvious exhaustion. Between his axhastion and his short stature I ended up carrying him so that we could make decent time through Nexus.

Part of our earlier discussion included some of Olivia’s likely whereabouts. We left the Prodigal Sun intending to head to the temple of the Thousand gods heresy at which her father preached. We stalled I the courtyard, surprised to find the bodies of two of Count Thorn’s men waiting for us. One was in the fountain, the other in Crookback Row. Both had clearly been slaughtered by some overwhelming force. I collected an eye from each of them for Vesper hoping that she would eventually be able to tell me what supernatural entity had been behind their demise.

The temple was in its normal battered state when we arrived. I asked after Olivia and we were shown to a narrow, dark tunnel. It lead into a cavern under the Firewander District and Olivia was there tending to the sick and injured among her “rescued” slaves. We snagged her and headed out of Nexus, catching a ferry in the forge district. I paid Otto’s cousin to take us as close to our destination as he could and tossed in a bit extra to take his time going home and lie about where he’d dropped us off.

That night, while I was on watch, a strange wind blew. Combining the thought of magic with the element of air made me think of Count Thorn. I tried to wake Vesper and ask if Air Dragon born could search for people using the wind, but she never stirred. I could have woken her eventually, but I was in a hurry. Layn’leen woke instantly and cloaked us with magic. The strange wind died down soon after.

We walked for four day before we reached Caplin’s home town. We left him there after he gave us directions. I lead the way towards the Valley of Death warily, with one eye alaways hunting for bandits. The farmer we had chatted with along the route had spoken of strange wagons going by and renewed activity from the Eyes of the Hills. I thought that the Eyes had disbanded after Count Thorn slew Captain Jack last autumn, but I suppose someone could have pulled them back together. There always seem to be new people willing to be bandits, no matter how thoroughly the last batch was slaughtered.

Two wagons, three corpses and a charred hole in the side of a hill waited for us in the valley. The wagons appeared to be empty, but had false floors and proved to be full of substandard weapons, armor, and shields. The corpses gave every indication of being dead, but we had to chop them into pieces to keep them from attacking us. Olivia burned the corpses when Layn’leen and I were done with them. Vesper told us that both the strange behavior of the corpse and the charred hole were likely the result of Abyssal magic. The one likely caused the other in some way… but I admit that most of her explanation made little sense to me. The big thing that I got out of it was that I was likely to be fighting some sort of evil undead spell caster in the near future.

Inside the hole was a room with five other doors and a glorious domed roof depicting the Unconquered Sun. The floor was less glorious, covered as it was by the detritus of a human encampment. I was incapable of sneaking around him, but Vesper untied his bowstring and Layn’leen speared him neatly through the eye while Olivia distracted him with words. Olivia than healed him and let him go, which really upset Layn’leen…but I don’t think that we need to worry too much about it. Everyone who matters seems to have figured out that we are anathema. It makes me sad… I had really hoped that we could hide it for much longer than this.

Each of my sisters approached the door marked with their symbol and each received a strange vision. Olivia’s was of a mountain top cliff. Vesper’s involved wind blown leaves and the Earth moaning in pain. Layn’leen caught memories of life as a man. I asked her if sex was different for men, but she said that she didn’t remember anything that interesting… just running and falling in a body much bigger than her current one.

I watched over them rather than approaching my own door. The vision of my own funeral that had invaded my mind as I entered this place was more than enough for me right now. Vesper chattered on happily about the First Age glories that likely waited beyond the doors, but I felt no excitement at the thought of confronting the tombs of our former selves. The only thing that kept me moving at the behest of Anezka’s voice was the thought of the contract Rune held.

Anezka… I could not tell if my memories of her were false things or some remnant from a past life. We all had them…. The sound of her voice, so familiar and foreign, brought them crashing down on us. She was a fellow thief, bookworm, or orator; a younger sister in need of protecting…whatever most strongly pulled on the heartstrings of the one doing the remembering.

And yet… there was a false note to all this sororal warmth. Our runaway archer had told us some things about his “Mistress of Pacts Signed in Blood”… a name that sounded nothing like Anezka. Many of the things he’d said did not match the things we remembered, though I suppose that any blond is capable of dying her hair black.

We discussed the nature of the doors for a bit, then tried to pass through the Night door together. It worked and we found ourselves standing on one of a cluster of stone pillars abandoned in the vastness of the ocean. A quick perusal of the scene showed us a few important facts. One; there was some sort of altar on the pillar farthest from us. Two; only Layn’leen and I would be able to make the leaps between pillars reliably. Three; we were about to be swarmed by froglike people who seemed to live in hives attached to the bases of the pillars.

Olivia and Vesper stayed behind on the first pillar while I moved to the second one with Layn’leen. I hated separating our group, but trying the jumps would be dangerous for them. They could guard each other’s backs while I guarded Layn’leen’s.

At first that plan seemed to work, but a problem rapidly developed. I could not keep pace with Layn’leen and slaughter her foes. I had to choose one or the other action. There were simply too many of them to do otherwise. The only place the frog creatures were not swarming was the pillar with the altar. I told her to “go” and leave me to face the things hoping that she could move fast enough to stay out of their reach.

She took off like I’d shot her from a bow and I settled into my task, sending my Ji slicing through froglodytes like a scythe through ripe wheat. After eight or so of them went down before me the rest retreated somewhat giving me room to breathe. My side ached from a lucky shot one of them had landed, but my first thought was for my sisters. I looked around to see Oliviia standing next to Vesper, struggling to get one of the froglodytes off of her Kitar and Layn’leen making her second to the last leap only to have the rock she landed on crumble beneath her weight.

She swarmed back up the pillar like a spider only a hairsbreadth ahead of a renewed froglodyte surge. She raced across it’s surface and threw herself onto the final pillar, landing in a roll that put her well out of range of the first golden orb that appeared from the surface of the pillar to strike her. Now we knew why the frog creatures avoided the place.

One of the orbs managed to strike her before she ducked down behind the altar, but none were quick enough to strike her a second time as she reappeared with bulging pockets and a strange bracelet on her wrist. She made the leaps to rejoin me without difficulty and we rejoined our sisters, returning to the domed room together.

The Eclipse door dimmed a bit and the voice encouraged us to hurry, but I insisted on resting long enough to have all our wounds tended by Olivia and hear Layn’leen’s story of a casket containing three male skeletons and one female one, bedded down on great wealth. She took her bracelet from the dead woman’s wrist with every certainty that it belonged to her. She also had another memory of her man’s life…this one of raiding a treasure horde with her father and finding that same bracelet.

Vesper’s pleas that we explore beyond her door were nearly as irritating as those of the voice, which repeated itself exactly every few minutes until I wondered if it was even a real voice. Vesper’s pleas changed slightly from moment to moment, Anezka’s did not.

We proceeded through the Twilight door next and found ourselves standing on a platform high in the branches of an immense forest surrounded by a massive pile of human skulls. One large building, with a toppled tree holding its door closed, stood out from the rest of the village. We made our way towards it slowly, winding our way across abandoned bridges and through homes whose former occupants now dangled , headless and strung up by their toes. Some lacked skin or bones as well, but most looked as if they had died in their sleep only to be decapitated, drained of blood, and have their toes woven into their thatching.

I climbed down a rope ladder to make the leap to our chosen building. Layn’leen swung the rope ladder and I anchored it, allowing my sisters to climb down to the roof without having to risk the jump. We waited there long enough for Vesper to scribe the message carved into the tree trunks despite the fact that the place gave us all the chills. Not even a bird stirred in the branches…nothing lived here but trees.

We moved over to the one opening into the building that we could see… a broken skylight covered by a strange greenish glow. A glance downward showed us a wide open work room where a monstrous thing paced like a caged animal. The thing wore my youngest sister’s form but its eyes were pitch black and its Twilight marking bled as if it had been carved into the Thing’s face with a blade. It saw us above it and smiled.

1st of Ascending Earth
The first game

Autumn was usually a glorious season, but in Nexus even the changing of the leaves lacked luster. The heavy gray smoke and falling ash born of the foundries clogged both earth and sky, encroaching even high on the hill. Otto’s face was redder than the thick carpet of leaves underfoot as he stuggled to block my blows.

A scurrying servant distracted me and I called a break. Otto was clearly relieved as I shooed him off to the kitchens, though the mercenary guardsman had been quite stalwart throughout our practice session. I doubt that he would ever willingly face me in combat, no matter how much he was being paid. I very clearly overmatched him, but I hadn’t had a good practice bout with a human since the sun burned though me.

I leaned on my Ji, awaiting my guest, expecting someone from a foundry. Instead I was treated to a parade. Four soldiers in beautiful formation escorted a man I couldn’t help but admire even as I condemned the only possible reason for his presence. House Sessus was the primary backer for the imperial army, and Count Thorn led a branch of the Wild Hunt.

Somehow they had found out about us. I watched him lazily as he circled me, admiring a strong, clean shaven jaw; making note of the pair of white jade swords, the cloak that moved of its own accord and boots that didn’t crush the leaves they stepped upon. I wondered how fast the Dragonborn of air moved. I was betting he was fast.

Faster, older, better trained and better equipped…he had back-up and I was alone. Grandmother’s guards might have normally tried to protect me, I was a D’Sirai after all, but they wouldn’t stand against the Wildhunt for Grandmother herself, much less the family’s black sheep.

The attack I waited for never came. Instead we talked. He asked about my sisters, my business interests, and my relationship with my grandmother. He even asked if I had ever been to the Blessed Isle. I tried to be honest and straightforward with my answers. He clearly knew too much about us for me to lie. I also tried not to give him anything he didn’t already know. He knew too much already.

He had come to investigate some raw magic event from three weeks ago. I knew nothing about it, and told him so. He left peacefully, letting me know that he was staying at the “Cove”.

I did not immediately rush off to confront Vesper; I didn’t want anyone to know how rattled I was by Count Thorn. I went back to my previous exercise; exhausting a Blackwoods brigand. Then I went to go find my youngest sibling.

Vesper was staggering out of the library with a stack of manuscripts nearly as tall as she was in her arms. The stack swayed dangerously and she could not steady it since she was clutching a whitish stone the size of a hen’s egg as if it were the final prize from some sort of sorcerous trial.

I took the stack from her and studied the bright blue eyes behind her gold rimmed glasses. Flushed and disheveled she seemed much younger than her nineteen years; innocent and cheerful rather than careless. It was hard to imagine that she was the danger the Wildhunt was here to eliminate, but I knew better. Magic practically seeped from her pores. It would not be long before she was the most powerful sorceress in Nexus…if I could keep her alive.

I did not want to talk in the hallway where servants might overhear. She scampered off to the kitchen for snacks while I carried her pile of books up to our sitting room. Vesper, Layn’leen, Olivia and I shared an entire floor in one of grandmother’s towers. That meant that we had a sitting room to ourselves. We should probably thank mother for having exactly four daughter, but I tried to never thank mother for anything.

A thump from the stairwell let me know that Vesper had become too distracted by her reading to walk properly. I was surprised to see that her clumsiness had involved Cuthbert…our grandmother’s handsome young servant was usually quite graceful. I rescued him from cleaning up and hauled Vesper into the privacy of our room to question her. It proved to be pointless as she had no knowledge of Count Thorn, the Wildhunt, or the events of three weeks past that had brought them to Nexus. “It wasn’t me!” was a common enough refrain from Vesper, but in this case it actually seemed to be true.

That left me with only two possible suspects, of the two Layn’leen was the more likely to be involved in something nefarious. Vesper and I compared notes on what we knew of Layn’leen’s recent activities and decided that she was likely with Rune at the “Prodigal Sun” since she hadn’t slept in her own bed last night.

The tide was coming in, so the only way to reach the “Prodigal Sun” was down Crookback Row. I kept Vesper close so that she couldn’t give anything truly valuable to the “beggers” lining the street and we reached the bar without mishap.

I bought Vesper a fruit drink. Mother kept her close to home, locked in that lab of hers making dyes. It was a pretty prison, but it isolated her from life. At nineteen she had still never had a lover or experienced strong spirits. I’d meant to do something about that but…well, the whole anathema thing had distracted me.

I let her sip my brandy to sate her curiosity and carefully kept my reaction under wraps while her face crinkled up in distaste. A quick glance around the bar did not show me Layn’leen so I headed for the gambling tables in the back towing Vesper along behind me.

I moved slowly so that Vesper could ooh and aah over the curiosities in the bar. I watched the watery scene in the streets through one of the bar’s porthole windows and asked myself why I had brought Vesper with me. The answer was simple though: the Wildhunt was in town. I wanted my sisters with me, where I could at least attempt to protect them, not scattered to the four corners of creation.

Rune had a table of his own in the back; he wasn’t sharing with the Bankers or the Night Arrows. Everyone else in the room left when he indicated that he wanted privacy… I’d heard that he was an Underboss with the Whispers. The “Prodigal Sun” is likely the legitimate front for his less savory activities.

I have to give Layn’leen credit for having good taste in men. Rune was quite the specimen; taller than me (a rarity) and muscled like a tiger. He was as dangerous as he looked- he couldn’t have maintained Layn’leens interest if he wasn’t. I sat down across from him hoping that brilliant young Vesper would steer the conversation, but one glance at her flabbergasted expression showed me that was not to be. She was staring at Rune as if he were some dangerous exotic beast.

Vesper thinks circles around me, and Layn’leen or Olivia talk just as good a game. I’m the biggest sister, not the brightest one. I was the last D’Sirai who should be making bargains with a criminal powerful enough to enforce said bargain.

I laid my cards on the table at the start. I wanted Layn’leen’s location, and had no idea what he would want in exchange. He wanted a key that he believed Layn’leen to have. I was smart enough not to bargain for something I did not have possession of, and offered to bring Layn’leen to him once I found her. He accepted with a strange flair of silver light from the tattoos which covered him.

Vesper’s fascination let me know that it was a magical effect, but I did not have to ask her what it meant. I could feel the weight of our bargain settle like a stone across my shoulders.

Some of the things Rune had said left me pretty worried about Layn’leen, so I hurried Vesper to the river boat docks. I paid for a fast ferry, but I still had more than an hour to think in while Vesper scribbled furiously in her notebook. I really didn’t like my thoughts; they were mostly about Count Thorn.

I cannot figure out why he did not attck me in the courtyard. I’m anathema, one of the forsaken, the prey the Wildhunt was created to kill. I suppose that it is possible that he did not recognize me for what I am…most people don’t realize what I have become unless the air around me is glowing and snarling. Still, I find it hard to believe that a man of Count Thorn’s credentials would make such a mistake… How do the Dragonborn recognize and find Solars anyway? I shall have to remember and ask Vesper that question at some point.

Some part of me fears that he let me go so that I would lead him to my sisters…but that really makes no sense. If he found me by my Anathemaness he could find my sisters the same way…and when one has an enemy alone and surrounded one does not let said enemy go to gather reinforcements. One destroys the enemy where they stand. I was never much of a student, but I do know the basics of tactics.

Happily the boat landed and I could stop thinking. Slaughtering my sister’s enemies was far more important. One of them got away…I cannot figure out how he got out of that cavern. He probably used some sort of magic.

Vesper did very well in her first combat. Her archery has not improved, but the blast of emerald light she created obliterated the strange watery spiders before I had to worry about them.

Layn’leen was fine, though I would like Olivia to take a look at the gash on her head. We stayed in the cavern until the glowing and snarling faded. I washed the blood off of myself while Taika feasted on the corpses Layn’leen and I had created.

The trip back to Nexus was uneventful. Layn’leen and I sat fairly quietly in the back of the boat. She refused to tell me how Rune was in bed. I wonder if that means he actually matters to her? She rarely gives a damn about her lovers, but I find her hard to read. She has always been a good liar.

She and Rune certainly toyed with each other over that box and key though…ah, who can tell with her.

It seems that Olivia was the one who brought the Wildhunt down on us. Her abolitionist ways have also earned her a death sentence. I need to find her before the assassins do…and perhaps find something Rune wants enough to trade for the contract on her. I’m betting that if he doesn’t actually have it he could get it.

Lastly… we received a letter from someone who claims to be the fifth member of our circle. She invites us to come meet her and reclaim our “birthright” from some ruin she’s discovered. All in all, Ascending Earth shows every sign of being an interesting month.

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.


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