The Blood Of The Lion

Day 48 - The End Of Her Reign

The group completes final preparations for their confrontation with Corinth the Stone-Hearted. Orik suggests to Hammond that they have a code word to disable Lelouche and Falx in case their confusion over the issue causes a problem once they are within her lair, once the memory wipe takes place. Falx asks about the memory wipe and how to get their memory back, and Hammond explains that they can get their memory back when they return. Hammond asks Willow to assist, and Willow asks them to describe and visualize the things they want to forget. Falx lists off the knowledge of the Corinth crystal that Helena created, as well as the sword.

Lelouche asks for their memory to be altered so that they recall a battle that led to a temporary brain damage, to explain away the memory loss. Falx brings up the plan with the crystal, to ensure he’s got it straight now so that he has the right things to forget in order for it all to go smoothly, and Helena brings up the idea that Pelagius floated about multiple council members being under Corinth’s influence. As it stands, Pelagius is attempting to sway the council to send an army to attack Corinth, and a moment of respite from her influence could sway the vote to his favor, as it is an on-going discussion. Orik agrees that the best bet is to break the crystal near Corinth instead of waiting for Virgil to be summoned.

The memory wipe begins, and Orik chooses “hammer down” as his code-word. Lelouche and Falx are brought up to speed on the “new story” and seem to accept it. As Lelouche and Falx are recuperating, Willow speaks to Orik and offers him a teleportation scroll, citing that she uses them often in her “line of work” and that if need be, they should retreat. It is impossible to know just how powerful Corinth is until they encounter her, and it would be best to at least have retreat as an option. If the battle seems winnable, the scroll could allow you to strike and then teleport away, creating confusion and giving them an upper hand.

Hammond offers to make some simple scrolls for Falx and Orik, seeing as they don’t have the flexibility Lelouche has in terms of attacks. Hammond gives Orik a Muffle scroll to eliminate sound and smell, so he can sneak up on Corinth. Willow gives him an Elixir of Invisibility as well, so that he can rush up with the combination of them and strike Corinth without being detected. Willow walks away and into a large tent that seems to have been made up for her, and the group heads toward Aliandra. Falx chooses a Banish Illusions scroll to help against Corinth’s power once he is inside.

The group overhears Aliandra and Katherine talking about Lianna’s mission. It seems she was supposed to report in every 24 hours, but hasn’t done so. Katherine is worried that she was captured or killed, but Aliandra assures her that Lianna is very skilled at infiltration and that they just have to trust she’s somewhere she can’t report from at the moment, and she’ll get back to them soon. Attempting to contact her could result in blowing her cover, so they can only wait for now.

Willow walks out from her tent with a worried look on her face. She approaches the group and seems concerned, so Falx asks her if she’s alright. She hesitates for a moment, and then admits she feels very uncomfortable with Corinth’s strength being unknown. She seems to shake it off, giving a report about the current status and plans of everyone involved with the resistance. Pelagius is attempting to sway the council to bring a war party against Corinth, but will have resistance from Virgil and influenced council members. Hammond and Helena will be working on new tools to fight Corinth or locate her power, in case the group fails to kill her, and Willow will help them. Aliandra is organizing some of her most trusted men to potentially assassinate Virgil if all else fails. Katherine is waiting for word from Lianna, who is currently infiltrating the Eros Alliance and attempting to break Virgil’s control over them, if it has a magical origin. The group’s mission is clear: assault Corinth’s hideout in the northern mountains.

Willow rambles for a bit about the group needing to look for alternative methods to defeat Corinth if a head-on attack isn’t likely to succeed. She mentions that there have been so many rumors over the years, there’s no way to know what is true and what is hearsay. She specifically mentions rumors pertaining to a man who swore he slayed her at the Battle of Valoris with a ballista bolt, as well as a rumor that Corinth’s vassals were working all over the nation for years before her attack, and could remain in power today. Willow notes that there’s no way to know if she has an army of vassals protecting her. Willow sighs, citing that the only way to end the rumors and answer all of the questions is to kill her, once and for all. Aliandra overhears the conversation and suggests the group go over their weapons and items to think about alternative methods of attack.

Willow looks concerned again, and Falx asks if she’s sure she’s alright. Willow pulls the group aside and explains that she went through her vision ritual this morning and it shook her to the core. She explains that the previous vision of her taking council seemed to imply she would lead the resistance, but her new vision revealed that by their actions after that vision, they avoided that future which may very well have been leading them to Corinth’s victory. They still have a chance now at a direct assault, but it’s more risky than they are currently expecting. She says that she can’t tell them all that she saw, but that they need to explore any and all options to defeat Corinth.

Falx goes and sees the beast master, who relinquishes the creature to Falx after explaining the basic commands the creature will answer to. Falx names the beast Lynx. Willow, Hammond, and Helena say their goodbyes before walking away and into Willow’s tent. Aliandra offers to drop the group off south of the quarry, so that they can avoid Corinth detecting them quickly. She has Rumen open the black African-American gate large enough for the group to go through with the beast, which Falx sits atop of. The group heads through the gate.

Arriving on the other end, the group finds themselves on a rocky area high up in the northern mountains. Lynx seems uncomfortable at first with the sudden change, but gets his bearings after a moment. Falx points the group in the direction of the nearby quarry, and notes a sign that says to keep out, and that the area is dangerous. The group heads passed, Orik knocking it to the ground as they go through the gate. They pass a few more signs, warning children not to enter the area to play, and eventually a sign that notes that there are explosives in the area and that it is unsafe to enter the mines. The group notes this and makes a plan to find some explosives if possible.

The group finds itself at the entrance to a large mine system, and Corinth’s power can be felt emanating from the inside. The power is almost overwhelming, and the group wonders how something that powerful has no history before her time in Eros. Usually, dragon movements are recorded, particularly in a country so affected by one. They shake it off and keep moving. The main cave system seems to have some off-shoots they can explore, and there is a large warehouse building that seems to be a housing for tools, which they decide to explore first.

Entering the building, they find it covered in dust, though there are recent footprints which seem to be from looters. Though they don’t find any explosives, they find a manifest of cave exploration and tool use, and note that the middle off-shoot will most likely still have explosives in it, if it hasn’t been looted as well. Falx notes that the explosives will most likely be in Quarry D, so he heads there and tells the group he’ll be right back.

Falx heads down a path marked D-1, taking his time to look around once he reaches the end of the tunnel. While the mining operation seems to be cleared out, he looks inside a cart carrying some stone and manages to find a dynamite pack with a long fuse leading to a plunger. Realizing he won’t have much use for the plunger, he cuts the fuse to a three-second burn and packs the dynamite into his bag. He also finds references to the cave mapping system and takes note so that he can find his way through more easily, and one of the maps has a note on it with certain areas circles and a skull-and-crossbones over them. Falx notes that Corinth is most likely in Quarry A, which can be reached from the outside area, so he heads back.

The group head down Quarry A’s main tunnel, finding off-shoot tunnels marked A-1, A-2, and A-3. Falx heads down A-1, Lelouche heads down A-2, and Orik heads down A-3, each agreeing to meet back in the main tunnel in a few minutes. They each head out quietly, sneaking through the underground. Both A-1 and A-2 have large claw marks on the walls, which seems to imply Corinth reached down those paths for some reason multiple times.

Falx heads into A-1, and notes a terrible stench coming from deeper in the tunnel. He eventually comes upon a large pile of bodies. The pile seems to be consisting of only human men, each wearing an outfit that seems official and originating in Eros, but the clothes don’t bear the markings of any specific area, which strikes Falx as odd. The outfit is ornate, and seems almost ceremonial. Falx inspects a few of them and finds a similar note in a number of their pockets. Each has an instruction: “Deliver the package. Don’t look it in the eye. Say Thank You. Leave.” Falx notes that they seem to have been delivering gifts to Corinth, but none were able to leave. Pondering on this, he realizes that whoever is sending these people most likely has an agreement with Corinth to sacrifice not only the gift that is brought, but also the messenger delivering it. He also notes that the levels of decomposition seem to imply the men came by every six months, but the newest corpse he can find is older than six months, implying the deliveries stopped. Falx gathers 200 gold pieces from the pouches remaining on the men.

Lelouche heads down A-2 and realizes the claw marks seem almost delicate, implying care being taken with whatever Corinth was doing in this area. Sitting in a stone chair build against the wall is the corpse of what appears to be a young female. Her race is unclear, as the corpse has aged at least a few hundred years. The clothes seem to be ceremonial and are ripped a bit, most likely from Corinth’s claws. Lelouche lays out residuum to enact Last Sight Vision, casting it on the corpse. A whirlwind of arcane power surrounds him and he is thrust into a vision of a village burned and covered in ash. He finds himself in the body of the girl, walking through the village in the darkness. She approaches a sleeping giant of a beast which Lelouche recognizes as Corinth.

Sneaking slowly, she reaches the area under the beast and takes out a ritual scroll, which immediately burns. Corinth’s breathing changes suddenly and she rises from the ground, looking down into the girl’s eyes. Corinth laughs, but then attempts to move and can not. A look of anger and worry crosses the beast’s face and speaks a language Lelouche hasn’t heard before. Through the mind of the girl, he can tell Corinth is cursing her existence and telling the girl she overestimating herself and that it won’t end well for her. Through the vision, Lelouche feels the girl tell Corinth “I know… I’ve made my choice.” before a bright flash of white light erupts around her.

An area that Lelouche recognizes as near the Mogwam forest in Eros appears around the girl, but she is quickly lifted up into the air. The is thrown and caught before being torn to pieces and thrown to the ground. There are a few seconds after the landing as the girl’s consciousness begins to fade. Corinth lands near her and turns her to face upward into the beast’s eyes. Corinth screams at the girl, “YOUYOUWHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”. A claw smashes down onto the girl and the vision cuts out, thrusting Lelouche back into the cave area. Checking the corpse, he can see that the legs have been essentially re-attached to sit the girl in this area. He checks the corpse for belongings but finds nothing, not even a bag.

Orik heads down A-3 and finds a miner’s corpse under a large rock that seems to have caved in from the ceiling and crushed the man. The room has a number of other rocks that seem to have fallen in on it, and there is a hammer on the ground next to a shiny, unique stone that looks almost polished. The stone looks out of place, coming through the ground like a growing mineral of some sort. Putting his hand on it, he feels a light vibration running through it. Picking up the hammer, he lightly taps the stone. Suddenly, Lelouche, Falx, and Orik feel the cave rumble and shake, with small bits of stone breaking off. All three of the group rushes back to the main tunnel, meeting up.

Orik recognizes as he arrives that the strange material breaking through the tunnel must be a resonating stone. He recalls from his youth, reading up on the mining history of Dwarves, that this material expands naturally in mining areas, particularly ones with magical influence surrounding them. Applying force to the stones causes them to resonate the power exponentially, which causes a number of cave-ins. Orik explains to the group that the mining area was most likely abandoned because of these stones, as they might run through a large number of the cave areas. Lelouche and Falx share their own stories and they clarify that the outfits the male corpses were wearing were different from the outfit the female corpse Lelouche found was wearing. Falx floats the idea of what Lelouche’s vision might mean; that if a civilization couldn’t defeat Corinth, perhaps their goal was to move her to a new area like Eros. Lelouche and Falx read the arcane power fading from the vision and confirm that the girl must have moved Corinth to a new plane, so that she could not return. Falx and Lelouche both recognize that the only way to do that is if Corinth was on a teleportation circle, which would be difficult to get a dragon of her strength onto.

Falx leads Lelouche to the pile of corpses and Lelouche uses Speak With Dead on one of the newer corpses, hoping to discern some information. He asks what the gift was that the man delivered, and the man describes an ornate and lightly enchanted sword, a gift from the one who sent him. Lelouche asks who sent him and the man describes King Leonne The Fifth sending him with “a gift for a friend” back in 1342 DR, 24 years prior to this year. Lelouche decides to use Speak With Dead on the female body as well, and leads the group over to her. He asks the girl why Corinth has kept her body there. The girl speaks, citing that her corpse seems almost like a trophy to Corinth, or perhaps a reminder not to be fooled again. Falx asks about Virgil, describing him as best he can. The girl notes that the man came her and Corinth told him about how she came her, about what the girl had done. “Corinth didn’t know what plane she had come from, so she couldn’t return… my plan had succeeded.” The girl describes that Corinth then convinced the man to help her, but she isn’t sure whether Corinth used her psychic influence or if it was just a convincing argument. Lelouche asks the girl to explain what happened, and the girl describes how Corinth arrived here.

“In my plane, Corinth was a scourge on my people. She burned our lands, and defeated the heroes brought against her. She would rest in the ashes of the cities she burned, perhaps to taunt us. I was the last in a long line of attempts to get rid of the problem. We build a small town and under the stone we hid teleportation circles. She burned the village as planned, and rested just on top of one, as we’d hoped. I was sent with enchantments to hide me and a scroll to end Corinth’s reign over us. I locked her to the circle, and sent her to a random plane. I would die, but she couldn’t hurt my people anymore. I’m sorry that she came here… there was no other way.” With that, the corpse fell back to being inanimate and the group sat in silence for a moment. They gather their things and head back to the main path. Falx shifts into his beast form and hops onto Lynx, who begins acting strangely and signals that he smells multiple small creatures nearby, possibly dragon children.

Orik whispers “Hammer Down”, and Lelouche and Falx find themselves frozen in place. Lynx stops in place as well, not seeming to mind that Falx has stopped ordering him. Orik uses his Muffle ritual scroll and tells Lelouche and Falx that he’ll be right back. If they hear him say the code word again, they should run as fast as they can to his aid. Orik heads down until he realizes Corinth is around the next corner. Chugging the Elixir of Invisibility, he sprints around the corner at Corinth, who he finds sleeping in a large open area at the tunnel’s end. Pulling out the Corinth crystal, he throws it in front of him and pulls out his hammer in one motion. As it lands beneath her underbelly, he throws the hammer onto it at full force and smashes it to pieces. The power bursting from it throws him back, filling him for a moment with a power he recognizes from when she screamed at him in Bronne’s vision. Orik yells “Hammer Down!” and Lelouche and Falx unfreeze.

Entering the room, Lelouche and Falx see Corinth pulling back and screeching in pain from what they assume is the crystal’s power. Corinth screams a warning cry in the direction of a nest that looks to contain three of her children as well as two large eggs, and the children back up toward a wall. Orik yells to the others that there seems to be three large resonating stones in the room, and to be careful around them.

A battle ensues. Falx toys with the resonating stone to drop stones from the ceiling onto Corinth, since her large size makes it difficult for her to dodge them. Lelouche notices a ballista bolt lodged in Corinth’s back and rushes up to her, getting close enough to Fey-Step to the bolt and use his Time Ravager scroll on it. The bolt grinds down to rust in moments and Corinth lets out a tremendous scream, flailing in pain from the rust entering her blood stream. Lelouche is pinned to a wall by Corinth, but Orik rushes to the dragon hatchlings and taunts Corinth with their lives. Corinth turns immediately as Orik slits the throat of one of her children, and throws Orik all the way across the room, up onto a ledge along one side. Orik rushes back down as Falx and Lelouche damage the beast more and more. Falx continues hitting the resonating stones, eventually hitting one in just the right way to make a stone fall from the ceiling onto another resonating stone, which causes a great quake through the room. The group dodges giant stones as the room fills with rubble and smoke. Corinth is caught under two stones, one pinning her tail while another slams her in the back, knocking her to the ground.

Corinth speaks to the group psychically, telling them of the plane she came from. Dragons were used as entertainment, enslaved and tortured for sport. She described her rise to power, breaking free from her chains and drawing power from her rage. She began terrorizing the people and freeing her kind. They sent other dragons, against their will, to kill her, and she was forced to slay her own. It was only when she was sent to this plane that she realized she had failed, and she sought to conquer this land before the people here came to be as those that enslaved her kind before.

The group remains unswayed, and Corinth continues, explaining that over the years she has placed ideas and influence in the minds of nearby kingdom leaders. As a backup plan, she created a situation where if she falls, kingdoms will bring war to Eros. She implies that the group, by killing her, will bring ruin to the kingdom they are attempting to save. Lelouche tells her that they’ll accept the consequences if she isn’t just bluffing, and the battle continues.

Orik reaches her as she is faltering, and rushes under her. Taking the Lion’s Claw, he thrusts it into her underbelly, cutting her open with a large gash down her middle. Corinth attempts to turn, but her body begins to fall out from under her. Orik disappears in a pile of her innards and her body comes crashing down upon him. After a moment, it is clear she is defeated. Lelouche and Falx yell out for Orik, cutting through the exposed underbelly to find him. Surprisingly, they find a large opening in Corinth’s stomach, and the arcane traces of a teleportation scroll being used. It would appear Orik escaped being crushed by teleporting out, so they exit the beast again looking for him. Feeling around through the darkness, Falx finds the way back toward the cave system leading out, and voices can be heard on the other side shouting for any survivors to shout back.

Lelouche and Falx search the caves but Orik is nowhere to be seen. They head to the rubble and use Falx’s Wizard’s Escape to float through the cracks with the two remaining baby dragons and Lynx in tow. Appearing next to a large contingency of Eros Alliance troops, they are asked if there are any other survivors. Lelouche asks about Orik, but he hasn’t been seen on this side. Lianna announces herself and comes forward, showing that she had managed to break the power over the Eros Alliance and lead them here. She asks if Corinth is felled, and Lelouche confirms she is dead. Falx gives her the scrying record of Corinth’s last moments. They head out to the quarry exit as Lianna shouts for the rockfall to be cleared and for Corinth’s death to be confirmed. She requests that Corinth’s treasures and dragonstones be brought out. Lianna commands that the baby dragons be slain, but Falx demands that they be left in his care. Falx takes them on as his wards, to be delivered to sanctuary, and Lianna agrees on the requirement that their sanctuary be outside of this plane.

The Eastern Coalition army can be seen across the quarry, seemingly at ease next to the Eros Alliance, an odd but welcome sight in these times. Lianna suggests that Lelouche and Falx get back to Aliandra in the other plane, and Lelouche calls for a door, which opens nearby. The two step through as Lianna announces to an Eros commander to march to Tulley Keep once things are settled her, and seek an audience with the council. “The country will need peacemakers,” she says. She follows through the gate, leaving the Eros Alliance and the Eastern Coalition to their devices. Lynx appears on the other side with them a moment later, and the gate closes.

Aliandra rushes to the group as they arrive, and asks what happened. Lelouche recounts the battle to her and tells her about the dragons now being in Falx’s care. Lelouche asks about Orik, but Aliandra notes that he hasn’t arrived, and that it is slightly worrying. Willow rushes over and congratulates them, but during their recounting of the battle to her, Willow interrupts and holds a hand to her head, receiving a mental message. She listens for a second, and then explains that she was just contacted by Jalmara, but she wasn’t making any sense. She heard her breathing as if she was running, and what seemed like the sounds of a fight which ended with a scream. Falx asks Rumen to open a gate to the closet in the facility Jalmara is hiding out in, fearing that Orik may be there attempting to kill her.

Walking out of the closet, Lelouche and Falx find themselves in the control room, and it is covered in blood. On the large table there is a scrying record and nothing else. Falx touches the record, activating it. As the scene appears, Orik’s voice can be heard shouting “HAMMER DOWN”, and Lelouche and Falx fall paralyzed. They are unable to look away as Orik walks into view in the image of the record, covered in blood and dragging a whimpering Jalmara behind him by her arm over to Gorn, who seems to be bound with ropes on the floor. Jalmara’s face has been beaten, and she is lightly struggling. Orik gives a monologue to Lelouche and Falx through the scrying sensor, congratulating the two of them on their attempts to do good in this world, and thanking them for bringing him closer to his final goal through their failures.

Orik can be seen dropping Jalmara to the floor and walking over to Gorn. She struggles to stand and stop him but can barely move. Orik raises his hammer and crushes Gorn’s head in, killing the beast. He cuts open Gorn’s stomach and reaches in, and after a minute pulls his hand out with a small collection of stones which he then pulls close to the sensor so that they appear large in the record image. Orik tells Lelouche and Falx that Jalmara seems important to them, and he’d like to take something important away from them. He walks behind her, pulls her head up by her hair, and slices her throat open, dropping her back to the floor. The record stops as a smile crosses Orik’s face.

As their bodies come back under their control, Lelouche and Falx look around and find the bodies of Jalmara and Gorn, the former being huddled in the corner and the latter being in pieces, strew about the room and the connecting rooms. Falx recalls that Whisper had found a dragonstone among the treasure pilfered from this very room, and after some thinking, recalled what they were.

Dragonstones, if current dragon biology science was correct, were pieces of dirt and rock that found their way into a dragon’s lungs during it’s life time. As the dragon breathed, more ash and dust would collect on them, and they would be compacted and super-heated and cooled over the many years of a dragon’s life. During this time, dragon magic would be imbued into the stones as well, so that when a dragon was slain, these stones could be used in dragon-related rituals. Most notably, powerful dragonstones could be used to summon dragons, an ability Falx now assumed Orik must have known about and something that should never be in his hands. From what he knew, Falx assumed that stones as powerful as the ones inside Corinth could probably summon any dragon on any plane, an ability he found slightly terrifying even when not in the hands of a Dwarf like Orik.

Falx and Lelouche call Aliandra for a doorway, and the group heads with her to Tulley Keep, since she had received word from Pelagius that things had been handled there. Corinth’s control over Virgil seems to have faltered in her absence, and he had the sense to surrender and admit to his crimes. From what information he gives, it is clear he feels that the choice to be Corinth’s vassal was ultimately his, and that he wishes to throw himself on “the mercy of the reclamation”. Hearing this, Aliandra explains that the reclamation is essentially a life of servitude to the kingdom, and a renouncing of all titles and land. All council members that were serving Corinth are cleared of all charges on the assumption of not being in control of their own facilities, on the agreement that they step down from the council, which they do without resistance.

They receive word of the Overseer’s hazy mind being cleared, but that he has announced taking a back seat in his role, content to living out his days in meditation and introspection after all of the chaos he feels responsible for. He is cleared of wrong-doing by the council after it is argued that his mind was not his own, and that his attempt to slay Corinth decades earlier proved his dedication to Eros, even if his mind was ultimately taken by the beast.

Falx and Lelouche take part in recounting their own information for the story of Corinth’s time in Eros, from beginning to end, to the council. Through the testimony of the Overseer and others, it is made clear that the men found all wearing the same outfit in Corinth’s quarry were sent to deliver gifts she forced King Leonne The Fifth to send her as part of her control over him, and the deliverers would be killed upon arrival. Falx makes sure to be extra thorough, to ensure the full story, including how Corinth arrived on this plane, is made clear for the historical record. It is revealed through Virgil that when the Overseer stepped down as king, he tasked Virgil with creating a new deal so that Leonne’s children would never know of his shame, but Virgil was swayed by the beast to attempt to take the throne, as she had revealed to him his withheld lineage and that he had a claim to the throne. Virgil was told by Corinth that war would come to Eros if he did not take control, but he pleaded for the council to understand that this did not absolve him of his crimes. He became her vassal in a fit of rage and envy over his siblings, and a lust for power that he had always felt.

The remaining council invites Aliandra and Lianna into their ranks on the request of Pelagius, who puts Aliandra under the council’s watch. Lelouche and Falx realize he is protecting her until her child is publicized and able to be born and raised to reign as the next king, but nothing is said about that subject specifically, which they take to imply it is still deemed unsafe to announce. The council is put into power “until the next potential suitor can be found to take the thrown”. Falx brings up what Corinth said about planting seeds in the minds of the leaders of other kingdoms to bring them to war if she fell, and the council announces plans to open up strong diplomatic ties to all neighboring countries in order to avoid that outcome. The council asks Lelouche and Falx how they can reward them, but the two of them agree to return with their request after dealing with a “sensitive situation which has arisen”, alluding to Orik.

300 EXP from role-playing + 500 from combat = 800 EXP total (30000 EXP total)

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