The Blood Of The Lion

Day 39 - The Fall of a King

Pelagius greets the group as they rise in the morning, asking if they need anything from him before heading out on their next journey. He requests to tag along with them, though he explains that he can’t fight while in his current condition. He would just follow along so that when they find the item, they can head straight to see King Oreth and inform him of the situation. The group agree and go to a shop to get supplies, Falx picking up a set of ear muffs for the journey.

The horses are left with the Mage’s Guild since they would have trouble with the journey, and the group gathers in the road as Pelagius triggers the scroll to send them to Namora, since warping to Castle Valoris would most likely cause trouble. Arriving in Namora, the group notices a large number of Southern soldiers in town, seemingly on leave from their work. The group heads out of town to the east toward the mountains that surround Eros. Looking back, they notice a large amount of troops from the Southern military moving on the west side of Namora, along with siege weapons and horses. Pelagius suggests they hurry to avoid any potential troop movements heading their way which might lead to questioning.

Falx places the eye patch on his head, looking to orient himself toward the third artifact. He notices that the eye patch doesn’t show any dots. Much like the green and purple dots that represented the Lion’s Claw and Jester’s Mask, the red dot representing the Devil’s Mouth was missing. He resorts to using the map marker Overseer Leonne drew instead, but begins worrying that the marker being missing might indicate that someone has taken the last artifact, and voices this concern to the group.

Heading into the eastern mountains, Orik begins to notice some strange markings and signs that someone has been there recently. Pelagius eventually voices the same concern, citing rock movements that indicate someone has recently been climbing an area and pointing out what appears to be a discarded water skin. They continue one but Orik keeps his focus on the mountain ahead of them, and notices a few clicks of rocks tumbling. Thinking quickly, he pushes the group out of the way before a rock-slide flows through the path they were heading down. Pelagius warns the group that it was no coincidence, and that they are entering the area controlled by the spirit made to protect the last artifact.

Coming up on a lava flow area, they end up being corralled by it as they follow alongside looking for a way through. Eventually they find an area that seems to be the only way to cross, but the ground is bubbling in areas and it is clear that it isn’t the safest area. Orik shows his spryness by leaping through the area with ease, as the rest of the group manage to get through by moving slowly and carefully, and by Falx pulling Lelouche back just in time when he stepped onto the wrong patch of rock.

Heading up further, the group comes upon a strange scene. In front of them is what appears to be a pit trap that was broken at the top as if someone fell through. Looking down, Falx notes aloud that it doesn’t seem like anyone hit the bottom, so either they acted extremely quickly, or had some sort of magical protection to avoid the pit. As the group heads around it, Pelagius almost falls in another hidden trap, but Lelouche manages to catch him and lead him around to safety.

The group is cautious as they head on, wary of the many traps this area seems to have created for them. Staring ahead, the way becomes cloudy for a moment and as it clears, the area is revealed to be filled with animal carcasses. Pelagius seems immediately serious about the situation and throws up a magic barrier around them. As the fog clears fully, the group sees that the mountain spirit has surrounded them with what appear to be dead animals full of what can be a plague of some kind. Flies fill the air and Pelagius warns that anyone stepping through the area could potentially fall victim to the disease by way of breathing it in or being bitten by the bugs.

The group takes some time to think it through and each come up with a plan to get through. They can see the other side is not too far through, so each devises a method. Orik uses the dirt in the area and his water skin to create mud which he coats his body with to protect from bug bites. Holding his breath, he rushes through the area, reaching the other side safely. Falx uses Scattered Form to transform into a cloud of locusts and floats through the area safely. Pelagius explains that he has no method to get through and Lelouche offers to temporarily turn him into a squid and storing him in the bag of holding, which Pelagius agrees to. Lelouche then uses Fey Step to jump over the area and to safety, removing Pelagius from his bag on the other side. As the group turns around, the dead animals fade into the mist that re-appears and as it clears, the mountain is empty again.

Up ahead, they find a number of other traps, but all of them seem to have been set off, seemingly by some sort of large gust of wind. Pelagius notes that someone utilized magic to get through this area, or perhaps that it is only supposed to look that way. Farther ahead they find a crevasse that seems to have opened up along the path, but a tree has been pushed across to form a bridge. The tree appears to have sprouted out of pure rock magically, and again Pelagius warns that someone with a notable amount of power or resources must have come through and might be ahead. The group cross carefully and keep heading forward.

Reaching the general area of the marker on their map, the group doesn’t see anything that looks like an artifact around, so they split up and look around. Eventually Falx calls the group over, as he finds a small inlet leading to a canyon through the mountain that seems like the artifact’s hiding place. The group converges inside and finds an odd scene. There is a stone platform with a column standing in the center which seems made to hold the Devil’s Mouth, but no item sits atop it. Surrounding the platform are lines carved into the rocky ground, leading to the walls around them. The group investigates each section as well. Lelouche’s ring indicates that a spell seems to be going off, and feels around, noting a magical spell of some sort radiating from the platform outward. It stops where the etch-marks in the rock floor start.

Orik steps onto the platform in the center. A stone slab appears in the opening back to the outside of the canyon, closing them inside. The walls shudder and shake before beginning to slowly crawl toward the center. Falx voices his concern, noting that the lines on the rock floor seem to have been made by the walls moving inward previously, and this appears to be a crushing trap. Pelagius begins hurriedly checking along the walls for a way to stop it as the group begins thinking of a way to prevent the walls from crushing them. Orik decides that perhaps the platform needs an artifact on it and pulls the Lion’s Claw from his shoulder sheath. The sword, placed upon the shield’s holder, seems to have no effect, which gives him pause. Lelouche notes that the magical force he notices earlier is pushing back on the walls, but it seems to have lost power and doesn’t seem capable of holding them for long. Orik looks around as he lifts the sword to place it back in his sheath. Looking around, he notes that the canyon is perfectly peaceful and the way back is clear. After a moment he realizes the situation is a bit different than the group believes.

Orik explains what he is seeing, and asks everyone to hold onto the sword with him. Doing so, the group realizes that the trap is an illusion. Pelagius voices his concern that an illusion of this sort of power might come from Corinth the Stone-Hearted herself, and she might be watching them at that moment. He suggests they leave the area immediately unless the group has business here still. The group agrees and Pelagius activates another portal scroll. As the darkness dissipates around them, the group find themselves in Tulley Keep. Pelagius suggests they go and see Oreth and seek council about what to do about one of the artifacts being missing.

The group heads to the castle and requests a meeting with Oreth, and the page sends them to a meeting room, saying he’ll fetch the king. After a few minutes, Aliandra walks in and asks if Oreth has arrived yet, as she has been looking for him. Lelouche notes that his ring is signaling a power within the room. Asking Pelagius to help, they wander the room tracing it, and it seems that a very powerful spell was cast here, and they can’t determine what it was. The group decides to seek the sages out immediately to look into it, as it could be dangerous. Aliandra accompanies them on their way. As they are leaving the castle, she asks a page to inform Oreth not to enter his meeting chambers for the moment until they get the sages to check it out, but the page replies that Oreth is with the sages, having just left to meet them in the church.

The group rushes out onto the street, concerned that Oreth would go anywhere near the church since they were attempting to keep him away from the potential danger of the tooth. As they reach the street just south of the castle gates, they are thrown to the ground by a large force. As they rise, they see a scene of mayhem and destruction, as it would seem an explosion has gone off in the center of the city. Buildings are crumbling and townsfolk are screaming. Lelouche sees Pelagius casting a spell toward an area above them, and looks up to see falling debris, which he begins also using Mage Hand to prevent from falling on civilians. Looking ahead, the group sees that appears to be a chunk cut out of the ground, as if the arcane void opened up and swallowed a large section of town within the blast radius.

Falx is the first to voice his concern that Oreth might have been mind controlled to enter the church, but that the sages should have seen the problem and might have prevented it from harming him. Soldiers all around the group are rushing around to help citizens wounded by the blast and by falling buildings. Aliandra looks to be in shock, but Lelouche shakes her out of it and she seems to come to her senses. Lelouche stealthily takes her essence with the Jester’s Mask at the same time. Aliandra speaks up, saying that they need to rally the standing guard to help civilians and look for survivors within the blast radius. She begins yelling to the nearby guards who seem to follow her orders, but even with a few men under her command, the chaos seems overwhelming.

From the crowds, there are screams that the Southern army is moving north, attacking at a most inopportune time. Some citizens voice concerns that the south was involved with the attack, but the group explains the power was most likely coming from Corinth. Aliandra yells out to Hammond as he is passing, attending to wounded. He rushes over, expressing joy that she is safe but looking ashamed when she asks where Oreth is. “He wouldn’t leave. We begged him to leave. We tried everything. The young ones wouldn’t leave either.”

Aliandra and the group realize that Hammond is confirming Oreth’s death in the blast, as well as the other sages except for Isa, who is with him. He explains that even attempting to force them out didn’t work, as Oreth fought back wildly, completely entranced by some outside force. Orik takes out his sword, hoping to clear away the illusion, but confirms that their surroundings are not an illusion. Aliandra expresses a total loss of hope, “This is how the city falls. I don’t know what to do.”

Orik suggests they evacuate, getting the citizens to the nearest warp gate. Aliandra yells to Hammond to go and get every Linked Portal scroll he can get from the castle, and then adds to just grab every scroll of any sort he can find, and meet them at the nearby warp gate. As Hammond rushes off, Aliandra demands that the nearby guards start to gather people and herd them toward the warp gates as well. Lelouche asks where they’ll go, and Aliandra explains that the safest place for them would be Warren Tower, and that Lord Merideth will grant them sanctuary as refugees at least. She adds that Lord Leonne will leave the citizens in peace but will decimate what’s left of the Northern army, especially with how split up they must be during all of this chaos.

Looking around, the group realizes the guards don’t seem to have responded to Aliandra’s demands, and they seem to have closed in on the group quietly. Aliandra repeats her demand and the soldiers don’t seem to respond. Falx feels for psychic power but realizes that the soldiers seem to be disobeying her of their own free will, which takes him by surprise since she generally commands respect. One of then appears to be a head guard, and Lelouche rushes to him and punches him in the face, expecting a fight. Aliandra begs both groups not to resort to violence, and the head guard addresses her, “They’re going to take the city. Their only demand is you. They promise to leave the standing guard and find a way to peacefully manage the people, but you must be taken to them.”

Falx asks how the man knows of the south’s demands, and the guard explains that word got in by raven just before the explosion, and was marked with Lord Leonne’s seal. The south has one demand, and that is for Aliandra to be taken to be executed. Lelouche implores the man to not ally himself with the south after they may have just blown up a large part of town, but the man explains that the letter promised they would kill every man, woman, and child if their demand was not met. Lelouche transforms into Aliandra using the Jester’s Mask. Other than Orik, who is still holding the Lion’s Claw, everyone is thoroughly confused and bewildered by the sudden situation of their being two copies of Aliandra.

Orik looks to the Lelouche and quietly suggests the demon as a way out of this situation, and he asks Pelagius if it’s a good idea. Pelagius implies that since Oreth is dead, it won’t focus it’s attacks on them specifically for getting in the way of it’s mission, but it would probably kill countless innocent bystanders. Falx asks if they could release it against the southern army, but the risk still remains of it hurting innocent people and it is technically a war crime to release a demonic beast against an army anyway. Falx expresses that although the south is most likely not purposely working with Corinth, these events are most likely orchestrated by her.

Lelouche turns to Aliandra and speaks to her as if she is the impostor, “Listen Lelouche, I understand what you’re trying to do for me, and I appreciate it, but you all should leave now. I’ll be okay.” Aliandra seems confused about whether she’s herself or not, but seems to understand that the best move is to listen to this request. She turns to Orik and Falx, and nods her head.

“Enough with the Wizard’s tricks. We’re taking Aliandra. Reveal your true self,” the head guard yells, clearly fed up with the confusion. Hammond and Isa join the group, and Falx notices Hammond walk up behind Aliandra and put his hand on her back. She transforms into Lelouche, which Orik and Falx recognize is a Change Self scroll being used. Orik, Aliandra (disguised as Lelouche), Orik, Pelagius, Hammond, and Isa are led away by guards as Lelouche (disguised as Aliandra) is taken into custody and walked in the opposite direction, after briefly thanking Hammond while taking his essence into the ring.

Lelouche is walked toward the south exit of the city, still disguised as Aliandra. He waits until he thinks the rest of the group is safely through the warp gates and enacts his plan. Using Invisibility, he hides from sight and shifts into Hammond form and Fey-Steps away, breaking into a sprint. He heads to the warp gates as he hears the guards yelling behind him, “She couldn’t have gotten far. Bring back the adventurers… they had something to do with this.”

Warren Tower is bustling with refugees arriving in the main square warp gate. Western soldiers are attempting to manage the influx of potential enemy combatants and Aliandra is attempting to hold herself together in the crowd. Falx overhears her tell Hammond, “It’s all my fault. This is all my fault” as Hammond consoles her. A few minutes after they all arrive, Lelouche arrives as well still disguised as Hammond, and overhears Aliandra still talking to Hammond. Hammond tells her “He couldn’t have known.” and she replies, “He knows.” Aliandra seems confused when Lelouche asks who, but he turns back into his own self and she recovers from the confusion after a moment. Falx expresses his concern that Lelouche may have left all of Tulley Keep to die because of the south’s demand not being met, but the subject is dropped as the guards approach.

The guards recognize Aliandra as an enemy military member, telling her that she has to come with them to be held for potential questioning. Aliandra agrees, and Pelagius insists on coming with her as a character witness. The group offer to come along as well. Hammond and Isa are brought to provide information about the events. The group is brought with Aliandra to the dungeon of Warren Tower. Aliandra shows her ambassadorial sigil and requests a meeting with Merideth. The guards agree to bring her down at the earliest convenience. Pelagius attempts to explain the ridiculousness of holding them, but the guards explain that it is their orders and they have to abide by them for the safety of the town.

Hammond and Aliandra are speaking quietly, but Falx overhears a small part of their conversation. “I should have just let him marry,” she says between sobs. Merideth is brought down to the cells just as Orik begins sticking a finger in his own asshole. He doesn’t stop. Merideth seems interested, but not enough to address him when he asks what she thinks. She asks what Pelagius and Aliandra are doing in cells, and the situation is explained to her. The cells are emptied and the group talks with Merideth a bit. Her and Aliandra seem to know each other, which the group recognizes as being part of Aliandra growing up with Oreth and most likely being a family friend.

The sages offer themselves as temporary advisers and Merideth asks about Oreth. Aliandra speaks up after a moment of silence, “Oreth is dead. He didn’t make it out. I’m sorry.” Merideth keeps her composure, “A sad fact of war…” but Aliandra interrupts her thought, “It wasn’t the south.”

Aliandra explains the situation with the south attacking, but the group helps her explain that the explosion that killed Oreth was most likely an act of Corinth and was definitely not the south. During the conversation, Aliandra voices her relief that upon thinking about it, the south’s promise to slaughter the people was very likely a ploy to get her guards to turn on her, just a bluff to get what Leonne wanted. Merideth offers Aliandra a place on her war council, but Aliandra explains that she has to find a way to help the people of the north, and that she wishes to act as an independent party to do so. Merideth seems to understand.

The group is brought to the council room with the sages and Aliandra while Pelagius heads back to the Mage’s Guild. Merideth asks them to explain the events that occurred in Tulley Keep in greater detail. The sages explain that after the group left to find the artifacts, the power in the tooth began to grow, and that morning the growth became exponential and it was decided that it was not within their control. They were attempting to find a way to transport it when the younger sages started acting strange, insisting that the tooth not be moved and refusing to leave the church. Oreth showed up as well, and fought them to stay near the tooth, clearly under some sort of mind control. Hammond and Isa got out in time but couldn’t save Oreth or the younger sages, and they were killed in the blast. They then found Aliandra but realized while returning from the castle with ritual scrolls that the guards seemed to have received a missive about turning Aliandra in, so Hammond and Isa rushed to find Aliandra first and disguised her as Lelouche.

Hammond turns to Aliandra, “You should tell her. She needs to know.” There is a moment of hesitation and then Aliandra tells Merideth that they should speak in private. They leave for a minute and when they return, Aliandra seems to be more comfortable, like a weight was lifted from her. The group wonders about the content of the secret conversation but leaves it as is. Lelouche explains the power of the ring and apologizes to Aliandra for using her image, but she expresses thanks and understanding. The group leaves to go and see Pelagius to decide their next move.

Pelagius seems to be reorganizing the Mage’s Guild, deciding new ranks. Lelouche asks about it, and Pelagius explains that the Mage’s Guild serves the purpose of not only providing magical insight and council, but also acting as protectors of the mortal realm when magical power endangers it. As such, he is re-organizing the guild so that if help is needed, he will know who to call upon.

Falx tries to ask Hammond about what he learned from the power and if it can be traced back to Corinth, but Hammond explains that they would need the tooth’s power to still be active to trace it even if they knew how, which they don’t. It seems the trail to Corinth has gone cold, as such. Lelouche asks about the item Falx still has that was used to track Gorn, but Hammond explains that it was honed to Gorn’s signal specifically, and even if it worked, you would have to be very close to Corinth for one to lock onto her. The technology to track dragons is otherwise unknown, he adds.

The group discusses in private whether Whisper should be contacted, as perhaps she would know what to do. They decide to head to Myrefall and meet her there to discuss the situation as well as pay respects to Elder, who most likely passed in their absence. Falx discusses how strange he finds it that Aliandra wasn’t also controlled by the effect that brought Oreth to the tooth, and asks whether Lord Leonne was possibly under the same effect, but Pelagius explains that Leonne is just as likely to have only been lightly influenced, as he is a brash and ignorant man that was hungry for war. In addition, if Aliandra wasn’t controlled, it could be that the spell required a certain connection to the target that they did not have to Aliandra. Falx wonders about Virgil being a half-brother and it’s potential relationship to the spell.

The group eats and heads to bed, deciding to head to Myrefall in the morning.

300 EXP from role-playing + 0 EXP from fighting = 300 EXP total (26200 EXP total)

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Korberos

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