A God Am I

Interlude 2
The Five Convene

The Imperial Palace, Thenes.

Ferras of the Red waited impatiently. While each branch of the Thenesian Special Services was answerable only to Thenacus XII Himself, each of the Five knew Ferras’ summons were not to be ignored.

Ferras was second in power only to the Emperor, being the quiet hand who aided His rise to power to begin with, and he knew that these sort of things did not happen overnight. But, with the Orbs so nearly in their reach, the ghost of Impatience prodded him.

Finally they arrived, all separately, all with the pretense of being here at their pleasure.

Nemina arrived first of course. Noble, obedient Nemina. She sat at her place at the table, armour and ego all a-gleam. Her discovery of the White Orb had her currently in high favour with Thenacus (May He Live Forever).

Roltus and Camille Linin arrived next at the same time. If their respective agencies spent as much time fighting Thenes’ enemies as they did each other, the whole of Tevera would have been conquered years ago. Ferras heard rumours their rivalry was all a sham to further their own agenda, the two actually being lovers. He would not be surprised if this was true.

And last with all the pomp due his station was Grand Patriarch Argog. Once Thenacus achieved godhood, Argog was set to become his high-priest. His betrayal of the Order of Io was the catalyst which started this whole enterprise.

Ferras let them posture another moment before calling the meeting to order.

“I will be blunt, comrades,” he said. “There are other players in our game. Even now they may possess one or more of the Orbs.”

That got their attention. Argog and Nemina outraged, Roltus thoughful, Lady Camille as unreadable as ever. He pressed.

“What do we know of them?”

Nemina surprised him by speaking. Usually subterfuge and information-gathering was “beneath” her.

“We have an operative within their group. I cannot say how powerful they are, or how where their alliances run.”

It was Roltus’s turn to be outraged now.

“You have a line on other Orbs and withheld this information? Where truly are your loyaties, Marshal? To Thenes, or to yourself?”

Ferras waved a hand, holding both fast with magicks before their argument derailed the meeting. Both seethed at his power over them.

“That is the point of this meeting! While you each play your small game of intrigues, our enemies gather strength! Argog, Nemina! You were tasked with setting the Four Kingdoms at each other, but you waste time with your own personal agendas!”

He smiled at Nemina.

“Yes, Marshall, your risky venture paid off. But that success alone saved your life. Patriarch…”

GRAND Patriarch,” the arrogant fool corrected.

“If you stop blessing roadside shines in His name and focus on your duties, three of the Orbs would now be ours.”

“You dare blaspheme…”

“Yes, I DARE,” his patience was very thin now. “We have the Black Orb and White Orb in our possession. Eight others still remain out of our grasp. Each minute we spent stabbing each others’ backs, forces move to thwart us! The time for these games is over! I made each of you, and I can ruin you each just as easily!”

Ferras omitted the fact Argog was the one who brought the Black Orb to Thenacus. The fallen paladin had a swollen-enough head without being reminded of his accolades. Both her and Nemina was in high favour with the Emperor, but they were still beneath him.

“We all serve the Emperor, Ferras,” Roltus said. Ingratiation as ever, all the while trying to undermine Ferras’ authority. “What is His Will?”

Clever little rodent, invoke His name to remind they were all His slaves in the end.

“His Will is as it ever was. Set the Four Kingdoms upon each other, then infiltrate and find the four Orbs we known of amidst the chaos. Then find the damnable Order of Io’s stronghold and discover the location of the other four.”

Each of the Five stood, the meeting over. As each left, Ferras bade Marshal Nemina remain.

“And Nemina, no more secrets. You are a terrible liar. Who is this contact in their group?”

She leaned in close, taking off her helmet. Once certain they were alone, she told him.

“What could offer to get such a betrayal?” Ferras was impressed.

“The traitor approached me. The terms were laughable.”

Ferras did laugh.

“Are people that naive in this age? You have done well. Work with that plumped fool Argog. These ‘Knights of Nubereg’ will probably lead us right to the Order.”

Nemina left. Ferras was in much better spirits now…

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Chapter 4 Part 3: The Covenant Broken
What Price Peace?

The now-official Knights of Nubereg arrived at Myth Seretyn as prisoners of Endless Winter, the Great Wyrm White Dragon.

Unarmed and exhausted after a several days travel through harsh terrain, the group was not ready for combat with such a powerful foe.

However, instead of battle, the dragon greeted them as a sovereign would welcome a foreign visitor. Endless Winter knew who they were and from where they came.

The attack on Nubereg, the dragon knew, would be repulsed easily enough. he needed the town’s attention so that he could speak with their representative.


A thousand years prior, the dragons of the world were all thrall to Thenacus the God-Emperor.

In His possession were the Ten Orbs of Dragonkind, and all dragons of the world were helpless under their power.

Even in this earlier time, Endless Winter was ancient among his kind, and he grated under the yoke of Thenes, despite the Emperor granting the chromatic dragons free reign (with a modest annual tribute). So he was pleased to see the Emperor defeated and cast down from godhood.

In the time after, the ten Orbs were held in trust by ten stewards, one of them the first lord of Nubereg, Sir Brise Nubereg.

Nubereg and the dragon came to an accord, to be known as the Covenant of Winter: In so long as the White Orb was kept from the hands of mortals, no white dragon would attack any man or make war upon human lands.

But now, the Orb has fallen into the hands of Thenes again. A dark sorcerer, self-styled heir to the original Thenacus, possesses the Orb, and now the Covenant is broken. Thus Nubereg will be destroyed, then the Children of Winter will sweep across all the strongholds of man.


With a heroic display of diplomacy, Sir Henry pledged that as a Knight of Nubereg and a paladin of Bahamut he would recover the Orb and again remove it from the hands of mortals.

Endless Winter agreed to stand his armies down, for a short while.

However, he could not vouch for a small cadre of white dragons who no longer accepted his authority among their kind. Two renegade white dragons have quietly built up their armies to bring ruin to the Kingdoms of Man, and the loss of the Orb was the excuse they’ve so long waited for.

Endless Winter would agree to a temporary truce, until the Orb was again hidden. However, they Knights of Nubereg would have to deal with the renegades themselves.

He also assigned Halsaephus, his loyal soldier to accompany the group, to aid them in their tasks. Whether they wanted it or not.


The first dragon renegade, Einfrikrieg, was closest to Myth Seretyn.

According to Hal (“Halsaephus is when I want to impress someone,” he said), Einfrikrieg was young but very influential; a potential rival to Eternal Winter. While he had no qualms eliminating the dragon, he knew it was little more than a politically-motivated assassination.

Einfrikrieg made his domicile in a conquered mountain dwarf stronghold. The dwarves had been long-since slain. Now a tribe of dragonblooded kobolds plied the mines, making rich the dragon.

The group infiltrated the mines, and fought ever inward until they faced Einfrikrieg in battle. With him was his mate, and their own clutch of wyrmlings.

The battle was brutal, with Sha’Riven and Damien nearly killed for their efforts. Hal was disgusted by the whole affair. Pressed for details, he revealed the Covenant of Winter was followed strictly to the letter. While no human settlement or individual was attcked in the last thousand years, elf, dwarf, gnome and untold other non-human lands were razed by the white dragons.

The greatest prize taken by Eternal Winter was Myth Seretyn. And ancient snow elf city, it once ruled the mountains and valleys as far as the winds reached. But internal sabotage and external assault resulted in its subjugation by the dragon. To this day the residents elves were slaves to the dragon, Hal among them.

But he digressed. As long as he was killing white dragons, even under orders from another white dragon, he was content.


Hardly was Einfrikrieg’s clan dead than more whitespawn under the banner of Myth Seretyn appeared to lay claim to the dragons’ hoards.

Damien was able to pocket some choice gear before the hordlings converged on the loot. With the whitespawn was a snow elf knight with orders for Hal and the Knights of Nubereg.

The second renegade dragon Skaldziij had amassed her forces to begin a campaign of terror across the lands of men. Advanced parties of frost giants and hordlings were spotted up and down the eastern coast. If the dragon was slain, her forces would soon disperse or turn on themselves.

Hal was less than friendly with the knight, and the reaction was mutual. But orders were orders, and the group set off toward the inland glacial lake where Skaldziij made her lair.

The journey was treacherous, as not only arctic but aquatic hazards slowed their approach.

They did not have the element of surprise unfortunately, and the dragon’s armies attacked.

The battle was met, but as the group fell back, another force of hordlings and elves from Myth Seretyn joined the fight. Thus engaged, the group were able to skirt the armies and meet Skaldziij in battle.

Again battle was met, and Sir Henry took what would have been a fatal blow if it wasn’t for his trollish heritage. As he recovered, Aki took the lead and made a killing blow.

Grist and Damien stole into the dragon’s inner chamber to take some baubles before the Myth Sretyn crew could stake a claim.

But just as Damien put down his guard, the gnome attacked him. Still angered at the merchant’s drug dealings, now was his opportunity to exact some justice.

Damien would not lay down and die so easily however. When the rest of the group came to the hoard chamber, only Damien remained alive.


Returning to Myth Seretyn, the group secured the truce with Eternal Winter. Dir Henry and Sha’Riven were equally disgusted with the agreement. While they had essentially consolidated and solidified an evil dragon’s power, the city of Myth Seretyn remained under his control. As well non-humans would still be subject to the white dragons’ depredations.

However, they could at least take small comfort knowing Nubereg would not be attacked again. For now. There was a measure of peace, though the cost was immense.

Eternal Winter had one final demand, the Knights of Nubereg would take Halsaephus with them to ensure the White Orb when found was returned to its place of safekeeping.

With their new associate and poor Grist’s body in tow, the battered group returned to Nubereg.

Aki convened with Fossil and Etaine, while Hal and Damien brought Grist to the gnome miners. It was decided to simply say he was slain defending the town, and not give further details.

Unwilling to participate in the charade, Sir Henry retreated to the temple keep and sought guidance. He had surely done the world good by slaying some deadly and wicked dragons, but doing so he only made another dragon’s position stronger.

Sha’Riven found him, and they both took comfort knowing neither was happy with their recent “triumphs.” A moment passed, and they kissed. Sharing so much in the past weeks, they finally were allowed to accept the feelings that were growing between them.
Some time later, they rejoined Etaine as well. Though they knew more hardships were bound to come, they knew now they would face them together…


Done with Grist and the gnome issue, Damien and Hal were then found by a familiar face.

Charlen of Rhole repeated her offer, unperterbed by the snow elf’s affronted response. She told them both that they would be well rewarded with the recovery of the Orbs, and that neither of them owed anyone their allegiance, save themselves.

She again simple melted away, and Damien and Hal decided it was time to disclose this offer to the rest of the group. Or rather Hal was going to tell the rest anyway, so Damien might as well ’fess up.


Reunited, and with a new (albeit with no choice in the matter) member, the Knights of Nubereg set to work figuring out what to do next.

Hal took this time to express his gratitude at being out from under Eternal Winter’s nose. As long as his people were slaves to the dragon, he would not serve willingly. While he freely admitted he was under orders to betray the group once the Orb was retrieved, he swore that he would die before allowing the beast to get the Orb.

Damien came clean about the offer given by Chalen, but was defensive about keeping it secret as long as he did. If he intended to sell out his companions, he would have done so already.

Etaine and Fossil shared their findings, and the name of their enemy. If the Empire of Thenes sought the Orbs of Dragonkind, then they were bound by duty to all free peoples to prevent this.

A scrap of a record remained of the First Lord Nubereg, speaking of the Order of Io. Io was the all-father of dragons, Good and Evil both. His mortal followers were a secretive organization, with members hidden throughout the world.

If they could find this Order, they might have an idea of the location of the other Orbs of Dragonkind.


A week passed. Wounds were healed. The gnome miners, with a generous donation from two dragons’ hoards, set to rebuilding the bridge to Denhagen.

The Knights of Nubereg, new members and old, set towards Denhagen again, to find the Order of Io.

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Chapter 4 Part 2: The Covenant Broken
Answers and Questions

With the Brass Orb of Dragonkind in their Possession, the so-called Knight of Nubereg teleported back to Nubereg. Once they arrived, they saw the town was again under attack.

Small, scaly creature, not much larger than kobolds were surging from the north. The town was in shambles, and the population was retreat to Nubereg Keep.

the group attacked the horde from its left flank, breaking up its cohesion. This allowed the remaining garrison not killed in the previous attack to charge out from the keep and drive off the reptilian force.

The damage was assessed, and it was not good. While the first attack was a surgical strike – in and out quickly – this attack was strictly to cause damage and casualties. While civilians were evacuated to the keep as quickly as possible, the town was hit very hard.

As well, the salt mine north of town was hit by the attack, and its main shaft collapsed. The group proceeding there at haste, and their combined efforts helped recuse the humans and gnomes within.

There were some injuries, but the miners were able to all be saved. Many of the gnomes had prior combat training against just such an enemy, and had they not brought down the mine, they could have aided in the defense.

As it was, one of the gnomes confronted Damien and had to be restrained before coming to blows with him.

Screaming “poison merchant” and various gnomish epithets as well. Damien denied any knowledge of what the gnome was saying.

The gnome told the group that due to massive drug use among his fellow gnomes, and since the way into town was blocked, the mine was crippled. Several of the gnomes were going through severe drug withdrawal, and violent altercations between users were commonplace. The gnome, who called himself Grist, said a human merchant in town was providing the narcotic to the gnomes.

Damien again denied his involvement. He admitted that he did import items for a gnomish miner, but he never bothered to find out what the items were (and since the Dashers held a proverbial blade to his neck, he would not have even if he wanted to know). Sir Henry was done with all of Damien’s half-truths and evasions, so he simply cast a compulsion that forced the truth from him.

All this proved Damien innocent of dealing drugs, but still complicit in trafficking them. Lady Nubereg promptly vouched for him. The gnome dealer meanwhile was quickly incarcerated.

With the immediate damage dealt with, the next step was to figure what the attackers were, and why they attacked.

Back at the keep, the clerics of Bahamut coerced the soul of one of the dead attackers to answers some questions.

What are you?

Why did you attack?

Where did you come from?

The spell forced the corpse to speak the truth, but the answers were not very clear.

A child of Winter!

The Covenant has been broken!

The Hall of Winter!

None of these answers made and sense, so the next step would be to somehow follow the back trail of these attackers and stop further attacks.

So now there was many actions to take.

1. Follow the path the attackers took and stop further attacks.

2. Uncover whatever possible information on the two Orbs.

3. Find out who attacked Nubereg in the first place.

4. Find out why they want these Orbs to begin with.


The first task was given to Damien, Aki, Henry, and Sha’Riven. The angry gnome Grist offered to join them. The mountains west of Nubereg were the likeliest place the reptilian attackers came from, and he had years of experience traversing the hills and hunting small scalyfolk.

The second task was why the group sought out Etaine to begin with. She and Fossil would remain in Nubereg – Etaine for her scholarly skill, Fossil for his undefined “connection” to the Orbs.

Before the company parted, however, Etaine made good her claim on the Common Road and Lord Nubereg official knighted the group. In deed and in name they would be henceforth the Knights of Nubereg.


West and north the trail wended, and Grist and Aki took the lead in the wilderness. As the mountains grew closer, the snows began to fall.

Sha’Riven made certain they were magically warded against the cold, and Aki was quite at home in the sub-zero climate. With snow obscuring any sign the attackers might have left, it fell to Grist to use what he knew of such creatures to track their likely location.

It took some time, the creatures were not kobolds, and they did not seem to have any trouble in the wintry climate. But finally the signs of a camp were found.


There was a large group, but with careful tactics, the “Knights” were able to get the tactical drop on them.

The quick ambush was stopped when the reptiles were joined by a group of elves, all training bows on them.

The leader of the elves demanded the surrender of the group. He promised no harm if they disarmed. It took some convincing for Aki and Grist, but diplomacy won the field this day.

The elf commander introduced himself as Halsaephus, a Winter Guard of the Ancient city of Myth Seretyn.

Sir Henry demanded to know why Nubereg was attacked. He asked what sort of covenant was broken, and who the Children of Winter served.

Halsaephus (or Hal as he insisted later) only offered that he was sent to put the town to ruin because his lord commanded it. His scaly associates were the Children of Winter. He had no other answers. However, if the group would promise their parole, Hal would deliver them to his master. Perhaps they would be able to determine why Nubereg caught his ire.


At the same time back in Nubereg, Lady Etaine and Fossil delved back into the ruins of the ancient temple where Fossil first emerged. Since the rest of the Knights left town, the warforged and wizard had been pouring over Etain’s research. Between her findings with the Brass Orb and what scant history she could dig up about the temple, it appeared both first first mentioned right around the same time.

The temple was built by the first Lord Nubereg, apparently a holy paladin of Bahamut. Not as a tomb she she first thought, but more as a reliquary. Etaine and Fossil did some cursory tests, and found the chamber with the destruct mechanism was warded against any means of divination. Whatever reason the First Nubereg had putting the White Orb here, he did not want it to be found.

One a different note, they also discovered the likely identity of the Archdruidess in Fossil’s vision. Lord Nubereg’s records spoke of Petal, his former companion. Nubereg and she had a falling out over something he called his “Covenant,” The same words spoke by the dead scalykind.

A final note brought that there ten orbs in total, with ten guardians entrusted with them. Aside from himself and Petal, Etain’s ancestor mentioned “the Four Elves” and “the False One” in his notes.

Fossil also learned more of his own kind, the so-called “Warforged.”

Living constructs first designed as soldiers for the original Crafters of the Orbs, the secret of their creation was long lost. Imperfect imitations were created some time later, and some method of their creation still exists even to this day.

“I am not as unique as I first thought,” he mused.

He surmised that his creation was somehow linkedto the White Orb, which was pretty evident at this point. He wondered if the other unaccounted eight Orbs had his “cousins” as guardians also.

The next question: Who attacked Nubereg?

Etaine was able to determine this from the remains of the invaders. The Empire of Thenes, and more to the point, the “White”; the personal Guard of the Emperor Thenacus himself. A dragon-obsessed man from a dragon-obsessed kingdom, Thenes had five armies of fanatically loyal followers.

The Black: They serve as the internal security (and brutal Secret Police in all truth) of Thenes. Its First Minister was a secretive man with an extensive network of informers and assassins.

The Blue: Unholy Knights solely dedicated to the Emperor, revereing him as a God himself. Argog, Grand Patriarch of Thenes serves as their commander and spiritual leader.

The Green: The external security force and spy network for Thenes, and likely the alligience of the attackers in Nubereg House. The Linin the spoke of being Camille Linin, Spymaster and archmage.

The White: Whom the Knights of Nubereg were already aacquainted, led by the brutal warrior Marshal Nemina.

The Red: The Elite of the Elite, they are magic-using shock troopers, often mounted on specially-bred draconic steeds. Their leader, Ferras Conflagrot, was second only to Thenacus in power in the Empire.

To test a theory, they performed a simple divination test, and their experiment was a success. When trying to locate the Sunken Grove that housed the Brass Orb, and despite having intimate knowledge of its whereabouts, they could not scry it. Thus it was a safe guess that the other eight Orbs would also be hidden from magical detection.

So if that was the case, how did the attackers find the White Orb?


Under armed guard, Hal made certain the group was treated with respect due to prisoners of war. He treated Sha’Riven with particular respect, as both an elf and her role as a Chosen of Solonor Thelandira. Sir Henry was surprised that he was quite annoyed by his attentions…

The journey to Myth Seretyn was long, cold and punctuated with moments of mortal peril. Stripped of their weapons, the group was put in danger more than once when random mountain creatures attacked. A mountain giant and several ogres the second day harried the jailers and prisoners alike.

After a second attack by a tundra landwyrm a day later, Hal agreed to let the group retain their weapons, on the understanding Nubereg would be scoured from the world if the weapons were turn on the Myth Seretyn cadre.

After a travel time a week and a day (and more attacks by local fauna and humanoids), the Knights of Nubereg beheld the great and ancient Elven city of Myth Seretyn.

Within the walls of the great city were more snow elves, and the Children of Winter. So too were frost and stone giants intermingling. The Knights of Nubereg were again relieved of their gear.

Finally in the central palace they were granted an audience with the Master of Myth Seretyn, the great wyrm white dragon known to mortals as Endless Winter.

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Chapter 4 Part 1: The Covenant Broken
You Can Go Home Again, Eventually

The Defenders of Nubereg now possessed the fabled Brass Orb of Dragonkind, and helped cleanse a dead grove of a lot of undead in the process.

More importantly for them, they finally located the sister of their patron, Lord Rupert Nubereg. Now that Comptess Nubereg (Etaine, she insists) is on-board, they could possibly get answers about who and why their fair village was attacked, and why these Orbs are so important.

The first order of business was to recover from the near-death experience fighting a horde of undead warforged can be.

The group set back to Nonce first. The small inn might take note of the group of six odd outsiders, but the need for stealth was reduced at this point.

Sha’Riven let it be known the troll gang had been eradicated, and the kobolds subdued. Another patron of the inn-the only other patron-stormed out immediately.

No more thought was given to the incident, and the group bedded down for the night, with Fossil keeping an unsleeping watch.

Fossil had changed somehow since his “communion” with the Brass Orb. For starters, he could now breath fire. And he could draw power from the animating magicks that created him to channel other invocations. While his companions slept, he tested the extent of his new abilities. He hoped Lady Etaine could help him understand them.


Next day the plan was decided, first the group would clandestinely return to Etaine’s residence in Denhagen, check in with her staff and collect her notes. Then back to Nubereg to investigate the temple of the White Orb further.

Hitting the Common Road, the group made a good pace on foot. But at the cusp of sundown, a heavily-armed band stopped them.

Etaine recognized them as soldiers in the employ of the Trade Company’s mercenary guard. They had tried strongarming her expedition and she believed they later set the troll gang on her.

The soldiers had a nervous menace about them. Unwilling to let them set the field, Aki charged, taking on a bestial form, slashing and tearing into them.

The soldiers were subdued after losing half their number. One of the survivors admitted the guard company was in league with the trolls, and their demise would reduce the company’s perceived value.

So before word could get out, the trading company set out to kill the witnesses. After taking out the Nubereg group, the hamlet of Nonce would be slaughtered with blamed pointed to the trolls, then finally the company would tout how dangerous the region was without them.

Etaine let the survivors go, with a warning that Nonce was now under the protection of a new power: the Knights of Nubereg.

She then made a mental note to have her brother knight the group or something…


Sneaking back in Denhagen was easier. The “Knights of Nubereg” donned the apparel of the guard company corpses (with a little prestidigitation to get rid of the blood), and marched right up to the gate that night.

Damien had the inspired idea to convince a gatekeeper that “their” guard company was in league with the local Dashers guild. He further guessed a dispirited night watchman would be wary of the biggest criminal gang in town.

The disguises were also a good idea, since the authorities now had posters offering rewards for Fossil and Aki (having escaped from the prison). The group split up again. Sir Henry and Sha’Riven went back to the Bahamut Temple to check in and remind the acolytes of how they let in a hired killer.

Aki & Fossil accompanied Etaine back to her estate to get her notes and to reassure her staff that she was not dead.

Her butler was glad to no longer have to perpetuate the lie of her wherabouts. The place had been ransacked three times in the past year. Once by the town watch, once by Damien and the rest of the group, and finally once more just two days ago by a mysterious group of green-clad soldiers.

Speak of the Devil and he’d appear, the very same group descended upon the house again.

But this time it was not a feeble house staff, but two battle-hardened adventurers and a pissed-off wizard to repel them.

“They have it! Report to Linin!” their leader commanded one of the attackers, and the rest engaged in battle.

The fight was brutal and swift, and then a frantic pursuit through the alley and rooftops of Denhagen ensued.


In the Temple of Bahamut, Sir Henry and Sha’Riven asked a few questions and found out that the town was in the middle of a gang war, and some acolytes of the temple were caught up in it. As a result, the doors were left unlocked long enough to allow the assassins that attacked the duo previously.

Using the spell allowing a cleric to Speak with Dead, the priests were able to find out the mole’s name. Hopefully further security breaches could be prevented.

More information was gathered. Two gangs, the Dashers and a new group recently arrived have been fighting over the varied illicit trades in Denhagen. the new group was flooding the town with counterfeit coins and are trying to take over the docks for smuggling, slaving etc. Meanwhile the Dashers tried to hold onto their extortion and drug trades, especially to outlying towns.

The new gang and the Dashers have openly clashed more than once, and the town watch was becoming more hard-pressed to keep order.

As much as Henry wanted to help, the more pressing matter of the orbs needed to be resolved first.


Damien had his own fish to fry, so to speak. He knew eventually he would have to answer for killing the assassins sent after Henry and Sha’Riven.

Seeking out the Dashers, he soon found Clive, a middle-ranking footpad in the guild.

While the Dashers were displeased with Damien’s “unsanctioned” killings, they were more upset by the lack of business in and out of Nubereg in the past month.

Since the bridge to Nubereg was destroyed, trafficking of narcotics to the salt mining gnomes was halted. Damien, being the chief merchant of these wares in the village had a responsibility to reestablish the trade. Once Damien got a route going back to Nubereg and all points after, then his transgressions could be properly addressed.


above the streets, Aki, Fossil and Etaine chased the last of the attackers before he could relay to whomever the group’s possession of the brass orb.

The rogue was more at home on the rooftops than adventurers, and slipped into the shadows. But then a cry cut short by a wet gurgle showed the group where to find him.

What remained of the last invader lay in a pool of his blood, and a black-clad woman made a very pointed effort to be seen before disappearing (literally) into the alleys.

Etaine, Aki and Fossil decided to finish their business at her residence, then headed to the church of Bahamut to rejoin the others.


Damien was finding his own way back when he was confronted by a mysterious woman in black.

She addressed him by name and let on her knowledge of all of his current doings and associations. The woman introduced herself as Charlen of Rhole. She offered Damien an opportunity to be rid of both Dasher obligations, and the troubles his recently acquired “antiquity” will soon bring.

Before he could answer, affirmative of negative, the woman vanished (literally). At his feet Damien saw a satchel filled with precious gems, easily enough to buy off any debt to the Dashers.

Being a wise fool, Damien instead of paying chose to pocket the gems himself. Not taking the money for its intended purpose (he reasoned) would negate his being bought.


All of the group regrouped (so to speak) at Nubereg House. Suddenly flush with coin, they were able to gain some how level magic to return them to Nubereg promptly.

As soon as the teleportation subsided, the “Knights of Nubereg” were again thrust into combat.

The town was under attack again…

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Chapter 3 Part 3: Secrets, Lies and Secret Lies
The Brass Orb

Just moments ago, the Defenders of Nubereg fulfilled their quest and found Comptess Nubereg.

In the course of their journey, they now found themselves once again an ancient temple, and once again mired in the affairs of Orbs of Dragonkind. the Comptess, insisting they call her Etaine, was more than happy to help the group figure out the reason Nubereg was attacked, if first they would help her find the relic she sought.

First she needed to be caught up to speed. A year had passed since she departed from Denhagen with the historian Lemisk. She figured out quickly Lemisk was no scholar, more likely a spy from one of the eastern nations. Ekern, Thenes, one of those. Curiosity compelled her to help Lemisk to find this location, though she knew he would probably try to kill her eventually anyway.

Ironically, they never got to that point. Etaine, Lemisk and his retinue had refused the “protection” of a trade company’s armed guard, and within a day they were ambushed by a gang of trolls and kobolds, led by a nasty two-headed troll.

Etaine escaped with just the clothes on her back and discovered the shrine. She was trying to figure out her next action when the cockatrices set upon her. The group were happy to reunite her with her possessions, found in the trolls’ loot.

Etaine was especially fascinated with Fossil. Many times in her youth she had explored the ruins north of Nubereg. She recognized the warforged as one of the “statues” that stood vigil over the old temple. She dabbled a bit into the history of the ruins, but she had no notes with her, and the rest of her research remained at her home in Denhagen. She would be happy to help them decipher the riddle of who and why the orb was stolen, but first she needed their help to find the relic of this temple.

With Damien and Aki taking the front, many traps were found and disarmed. As they delved deeper, the group realized the temple was once above ground, and some sort of natural calamity cause the temple and a druid’s grove to fall deep underground.

The collapsed grove smelled of decay the belied simple rotting plants. Sir Henry sensed a palpable evil in the place. Some divining showed an overpowering aura of unholy negative energies throughout. Keeping alert, the group pressed onward.

Among the ruins was the trunk of a long-fallen tree, covered with mould and mushrooms. As they drew closer, the tree rose up. An undead treant – Sha’Riven named it mortuviridi, a great blasphemy against nature.

The mortuviridi animated other fallen trees to join the attacks. Etaine and Aki were both taken out of the fight, infected with a blight of undead mushrooms.

With a liberal dose of evil smiting and alchemical fire, the trees were laid to rest. Henry and Sha’Riven drove out the unholy fungus, and for the second time in a day Comptess Nubereg was in the heroes’ debt.

Some searching followed after a moment to collect themselves. A magical effect known as a necrotic miasma. It sapped energy from living material (plant included, it seemed), and that which died in the area would rise as undead. Etaine and Henry both knew of a place called the Barren which it was said the dead rose. The temple seemed to suffer the same effect.

The group continued, eager to find their goal and be done with the temple.

More undead plants slowed their descent, but finally the group reached what must have once been a sacred stone circle before whatever befell the area struck.

The remains of a berobed skeleton, surrounded by a score of broken warforged lay beside an altar. Upon the altar lay the Brass orb of Dragonkind.

The group was on guard, however, seeing as though the trees were undead, the bodies before then were likely to rise as well. The wizardly corpse rose first, followed by the warforged.

The undead wizard let out a hellish screech as she was destroyed. As she crumbled to dust, the other animated dead too fell. Soon, the necrotic miasma dissipated as well.

Fossil touched the Orb, and he was hit with another vision, like the one in Nubereg.

This time, the last images of the previous holder of the Orb replayed.


The defeat of a God…

The Orbs casts to the corners of the known world…

The Archdruidess who took possession of the Brass Orb housed it in a sacred grove, surrounded by the full force of Nature to defend and hid the artifact. As well, animated soldiers, their lifeforce granted by the Orbs themselves.

The ageless priestess stood vigil over the Orb, until one day, the necromancer’s armies descended upon the grove.

The druidess fought them off as long as she could, the warforged joining her. The necromancer was destroyed, but with her death she cursed the grove, and killed the druidess and collapsed the whole temple upon itself.


Fossil recovered from his trance, and the Heroes of Nubereg made their way out of the haunted place.

Now the task at hand was to determine who sought these Orbs, and why. The first stop was the village of Nonce. From there, back to Denhagen, and finally home to Nubereg.

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Chapter 3 Part 2: Secrets, Lies and Secret Lies
Bog Trolls and Stone Women

With only a crude map and vague idea of what they face, the group headed out again into the wild.

After a less-than-warm welcome in Denhagen, the erstwhile Heroes of Nubereg were fugitives from the legal rulers of the city, as well as the unofficial captains of the Underworld, the Dashers Guild.

After leaving town as quickly as possible, the group first returned the Hunters’ Lodge where their last bit of trouble took place.

From there, the group set out south and westward.

From Nubereg’s notes, she planned to travel overland, first disguised as a merchant caravan until past the Common Road, then through the wilderness with the enigmatic Lemisk, and a smaller group of scouts to aid them.

The group traveled three days on the Common Road until they came across the tiny town of Nonce.

The group were able to recover from their journey and gather some supplies for the longer journey. Not wanting to draw undue attention, the group split into two smaller groups. With Aki, Fossil, and Sha’Riven being the more conspicuous they remained acamp in the countryside.
Meanwhile, it fell to Henry and Damien to get outfitted and gather any word of caravan traffic through these parts.

A trading post within a day’s travel was the likely place where Nubereg parted ways with the caravan. The region’s trading companies paid a stipend which covered upkeep of the road and a guard company to patrol the road. Given the lack of a central ruler outside of small townships, it was the only real order in the region west of Denhagen.

After several days of travel without incident, the group’s luck ran dry. A large horde of kobolds charged them at sundown.

Despite the numerical advantage, the kobolds were no match for the road-weary adventurers. Rather than slaughtering them outright, Aki Warflame merely subdued their leader and demanded the rest swear fealty to him.

And so the totemist was crowned Chief Aki, King of the Warflame Clan.

Aki’s first act as king was to discover his Clan was subordinate to a troll warlord who ruled the region outside of the guard company’s influence. When prodded, the kobolds revealed the troll’s lair was a haunted cave deeper in the moor that borders the Common Road.

With a possible destination within reach, the group heads into moors, with a kobold honour guard guiding them. With the kobolds’ aid and Aki’s enhanced hunters’ sense, they make easy headway towards the “haunted cave”.

As they get closer, they see the cave in actually a very overgrown temple. One built hundreds of years earlier.

As they traversed the wetlands, the group was ambushed by aquatic trolls. Attempts this time at diplomacy were not met well, so combat was engaged.

From their cover, Aki’s kobolds harried the bog trolls long enough for Fossil to conjure acid to leave the creatures permanently dead. The kobolds informed the group that the troll warlord was still at large.

Finally the temple itself was found, at upon arrival, the troll warlord appeared. it was actually a two-headed troll by the names of Gark and Nerk.

Gark alone might have been agreeable to diplomacy, but Nerk would have none of that. Summoning the remaining bog trolls in their gang, Gark and Nerk fought to the death. Fossil used the remaining charges of the red wizards’ fire orb wand to keep them dead.

The trolls left behind a rich bounty. The creatures had sporadically raided caravans unprotected by the guard company.

Among the treasures was a set of arcane scrolls mean to break enchantments, as well as a suit of magical armour that replaced the dented and rusted breastplate worn by Sir Henry.

The temple itself after a brief search, revealed an entrance to lower levels. After deciding to rest for the evening and start at dawn, the group set camp.

Rooting through the items of the trolls, they found evidence of the expedition of Comptess Nubereg; the travel notes and spellbook of Her Ladyship were among them. Thus the fate of Comptess Nubereg was determined, likely in the belly of a troll.

Dawn came soon enough. Sha’Riven located a secret entrance to the temple, and immediately Damien set out to find likely traps. Oddly enough some were found, but most were already sprung, and some marked clearly.

Someone or thing had already been through the ruins, and they left a trail to follow. Cautiously, the group did so.

The trail ended with a statue of a woman. From the looks of it, she did not want to be set in stone.

Then a skittering sound revealed where the statue came from. A flock of cockatrices descended upon the party, each with a peck that could turn a grown person to stone.

Frantic combat ensued, and the group luckily did not turn to stone.

Catching their breath, the group came to the conclusion this statue was the very same Comptess whom they sought.

Fossil was able to decipher the scroll to break the magical petrification, and at long last, the group found Comptess Etaine Nubereg.

After recovering briefly, Etaine (as she insisted they call her), revealed some of her findings. The temple they were in once was a shrine to an Elven nature god. The druidess who built the shrine was one of the heroes who brought low the God Emperor Thenacus centuries earlier.

Somewhere in this temple she was certain they would find the Brass Orb of Dragonkind.

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Chapter 3 Part 1: Secrets, Lies and Secret Lies
Stand Together or Fall Apart

When we last saw our Heroes…

The intrepid adventurers, having endured a hellish journey through the Dïrkwald, finally arrived in Denhagen.

The first order of business was to seek out the Church of Wee Jas. They informed the clergy of Igor Von Grimm’s death. His soul accounted-for, the next task was to seek out Lord Nubereg’s sister, the Comptess Nubereg.

Arriving at the Nubereg House (the Denhagen residence of the Nubereg Clan), the party was firmly rebuffed. Despite letters of introduction with the Clan seal, the staff of Nubereg House was unwilling to grant entrance to the group.

Damien suggested a more “creative” approach to entering the house (i.e. burglary), but Sir Henry resolutely fought all suggestions. Since it was growing dark and the town register was closed, the paladin suggested seeking an inn for the night.

Finally relenting, Damien and the rest found an inn along the shores to decamp for the night.

A few minutes after arriving, a shady figure found Damien and confronted him about business incomplete.

The man was evasive, but he implied Damien was in the pocket of some influential people in Denhagen, and he was to address their mutual business promptly.

Damien tried to slip away later that night, but Sir Henry (self-righteous beyond scope) and Sha’Riven (happy to just be included) shadowed him.

Before Damien could meet with his “business associates,” Sir Henry was spotted by the same. Sensing an ambush, armed and masked thugs descended on Damien, Sha’Riven and Garrickson.

Combat was quick and messy, with Sha’Riven getting cut up rather badly before the thugs were defeated. Henry confronted Damien, accusing him of being in league with organized criminals. Then he went as far as to accuse Damien of working with the air pirates that invaded Nubereg to begin with.

Hearing enough, Damien parted company with the paladin, but not before using his own healing potion to stabilize Sha’Riven. Frustrated, Henry took the elf to the Temple of Bahamut to tend to her wounds.


Meanwhile, back at the Inn, Fossil and Aki were arrested on unclear ground by the town watch, and were hauled off to places unknown.


Damien struck deeper into the bowels of Denhagen, and found the “associates” that sought him earlier.

The Dasher Guild, (smugglers, fences and associated enterprises) did not like the news of Damien’s stock being destroyed in the attack on Nubereg, and very much did not like the unsanctioned killing of three “Chaps” earlier in the evening.

All would be forgiven if first Damien would find out some information. Seems a stranger came to town about a year ago seeking a tomb of some sort in the region. He paid good coin for information, which led him to the Comptess Nubereg.
Another man recently came to town seeking the same information, by the Comptess has not been seen for months. The official word in that Her Ladyship returned to Nubereg, but Damien himself could attest that isn’t the case.

Damien was to find out what Nubereg was looking for, obtain it, and get it back to the Dashers.

As for the other matter of dead Chaps, the do-gooder and his elf bitch were already targeted for assassination.


Aki and Fossil were bustled quickly into a dark cell, well away from the general population. They were told that they would have to answer for their crimes.


At the church of the Platinum Dragon, Sir Henry stewed over the despicable actions of Damien. He had checked several times all of his new companions, the savage, the elf, the construct, Poor Dead Igor, Damien, none had the taint of evil about them.

As he watched over the convalescing Sha’Riven, he had a mini crisis of faith. Wondering if Bahamut thought him unworthy to sense evil.

Ecclesiastical theory took a backseat however when suddenly the room became supernaturally dark, and armed assailants attacked.

It looked like Sir Henry was about done for, when help arrived.

Damien had had his own crisis of faith after being told of the contract of the insufferable knight’s life. But since he disliked Sir Henry slightly less than the Dasher’s he decided to help out. Beside, Sha’Riven seemed nice enough.

The killer was killed, Sha’Riven was recovered, and all three made an uneasy peace.

After alerting the clergy to the dead assassin therein, the three set off back to the inn.

And then discovered Aki & Fossil were arrested hours earlier.


In the deep prison of Denhagen, Aki and Fossil pondered the best way to break out. Since Aki did not recognize the authority of his jailers, and Fossil did not recognize any crime committed, neither felt the need to wait for jurisprudence.

But their plans were proven unnecessary when a poorly disguised Sir Henry unlocked the cell and bustled them out.

With some convincing that their arrest was unlawful, Sir Henry agreed an extrajudicial jailbreak was not an evil or unlawful act. When guile proved unsuccessful, he simply knocked out the guards, took their uniform and why were they talking about it, they needed to leave RIGHT NOW.


The group finally reunited, they decided discretion was a fool’s game. They broke into Nubereg House, and very firmly told the staff to cut the crap and fess up.

Backs to the wall, the house butler admitted the Comptess disappeared over a year ago, and they were busily making excuses while discreetly trying to find her.

Dangerous people from the Empire of Thenes had been asking for and after her, and the local criminal element were trying to pry as well.

With no other choice, the staff allowed the PCs to search through Her Ladyship’s notes.

A name, Lemish, and a crude map were found in the personal notes of Nubereg. These connected the dots with the dead scout’s notes found in the Hunters’ Lodge.

Several days ride south was an abandoned temple, and the group knew now how to find it.

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Interlude
Elsewhere...

Marshal Nemina’s flagship, the Will, docked in her private airship base.

Far from the eyes and ears of any senator or Ministry of Safety minions, Nemina was certain nothing would take this victory from her.

She barked orders to her subcommanders and took the orb with her to her personal quarters.

Her scout had served his purpose exceptionally. It was a pity he disappeared before she could properly reward him. He scouts her handpicked for their loyalty and discretion. She was certain he met with a bad end, defection was not in their vocabulary.

No matter. The White Dragon Orb was now on its way to Emperor Thenacus XII, May He Live and Rule For Eternity. She removed her heavy field armour and readied herself for His summons.


A day, then two passed. Nemina was accustomed to His Excellency’s whim, and did not let her impatience show.

Finally on the third day after her arrival, Nemina was ordered to present herself to the Emperor at once.

Enroute to the palace, Nemina was accosted by the one man she had wanted to avoid.

Roltus, Minister of Safety by name, but in truth the Superintendent of Thenacus’s Secret Police.

“Marshal!” the vile man purred. “I trust your great adventure was fruitful? His Excellency is becoming impatient with our lack of progress against the Four Nations.”

Nemina continued to stride towards the audience chamber, her disgust quite easy to see.

“The Emperor is confident in my plans, Minister. Don’t you have addled vagabonds to execute for sedition, or children to torture for disloyalty?” She knew his underlings, the Black as the Emperor called them, were desperate to find out what her excursion was really about. His continued prying satisfied Nemina that she had not been betrayed.

“I would never question his Will, Marshal. And I assure you, all His enemies will be found.”

The leaders of the Black and the White both entered the chamber at the same time. Nemina grew more annoyed. It looked like the viper was going to be there for her triumph. So be it.

Thenacus XII (May He Live and Rule For Eternity) sat on his throne, enjoying the subtle warfare between His White and Black. Underlings needed to be constantly set against each other, both to strengthen them, and keep them from plotting against Him.

Cunning little Roltus, and loyal, unimaginative Nemina, so different in their uses and values. He was pleased enough with both their fields of expertise, but He would not dare let them think He was satisfied.

“Marshal Nemina! Enemies amass at our borders! Orcs from the Steppe threaten Xix, the Four Kindoms are painfully cooperative, and the Morgors are not at each others’ throats. And yet you run off on a personal excursion! Explain why your head does not decorate the wall!”

He did not expect grovelling or excuses. Nemina (sweet fool) believed in Thenes. She would apologize, and redouble her efforts.

She instead drew forth the White Orb.

Stunned for a moment, the Emperor burst into laughter. He never thought in all His years anything could surprise Him.

Looking then at the stunned rage on Roltus’s face made Him laugh again. Truly it was a great day…

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Chapter 2: The Sacred Hunt
When you step off the road, you enter the food chain...

Previously…
IMG_1404.JPG

The Defenders of Nubereg set out on the Old Road, tasked with seeking Lord Nubereg’s scholarly sister and trying to pursue the invaders who stole the mysterious White Orb.

With no other leads to go on, the group gathered up whatever traveling gear they could, mounted up and began their journey.

The first day went by without incident, but as night fell, the weather began to take a bad turn. The close proximity of the Konkresh Mountains cause occasional spring storms, and the temperature dipped back into winter. Aki and Fossil were unperturbed, and Sha’Riven was accustomed enough to the region, but Igor, Sir Henry and Damien were all quite miserable.

The freezing rain continued for another day and night, and then something else popped up to ruin the groups’ collective day:

A deep ravine along the Old Road had had a sturdy bridge built across it, but from its current state, it looked like the attacking airship destroyed the bridge to slow any would-be pursuers.

With no other choice (except giving up and going back, which Damien was an advocate of), Sha’Riven led the group overland, hoping to find a narrow ford to the ravine. If there was such a route, it was a 50/50 chance they went in the right direction.

Night of the third day brought a deadly bit of misfortune, when a swarm of stirges killed their horses, and left Damien sorely depleted.

Greatly slowed and now on foot, the group finally found a means across the ravine and could continue onward to Denhagen.

Going got tougher, with the group injured, afoot, and walking through the wilderness. Henry and Fossil were not suited for this environment, and Damien was recovering from blood loss.

Day four was slow, but at the very least, the weather cleared up. By nightfall a huge moon near-full lit up the sky.


Sha’Riven and Fossil took watch, and it soon became clear that they were not alone.

A massive displacer beast attacked the camp, injuring Henry and Igor before being driven off. But the group was rattled, and two of its healers were near death.

To make things worse, another beast appeared. Their innate ability to shift their position (to displace themselves, as it were) made it hard to hit them, or to truly determine their number.

But as a devotee of the God of the Hunt, Sha’Riven knew a hunting pack when she saw one. And they were the prey.

Unexpectedly, the wounds on Sir Henry began to close. Turns out he had some troll blood in his ancestry, which manifested in his very rapid healing ability. While this was all well and good, it rendered him weakened in direct sunlight. While the rest of the group envied his vigor, he always saw it as a private shame and avoided disclosing it whenever possible.

Finally it was decided that Fossil and Henry (both with the ability to self-repair) would draw the beasts into a pitfall trap, and hopefully the two could recover from the wounds afterthe threat was eliminated.

Finally a total of four displacer beasts were drawn to the trap, with two of them falling prey to the pit. Fossil and Henry took the fall with the bests, and were knocked out of the fight.

Igor and Aki stood their ground while Sha’Riven and Damien struggled to hit from range. With the blessings of her God, the remaining creatures finally fell.


With Henry and Fossil both out (and both heavy bodies), the group again had a big trudge before them. They then came across a seasoned-looking woodsman who offered them aid.

He was duly impressed with the group’s defeat of the displacer pack. The monsters had been plaguing villages throughout the valley for years. The ranger offered sanctuary at his lodge until their allies recovered.

The ranger, Denerik, was part of a cohort of rangers who patrolled the region between Denhagen and the mountains to the north. Unfortunately, he had no information about the invaders that attacked Nubereg, but once recovered, the rangers would speed the group along to Denhagen,

Once settled in the lodge and Henry and Fossil lay down to recover, the group took rest…


Time passed.

When all of the group regained consciousness, they were deep in the woods, bound hand and foot. The sun was setting, and the woozy effects of whatever drug given the four conscious Defenders of Nubereg was just wearing off.

“Welcome, honoured guests!” a voice for from darkening woods called. Denerik, the ranger. Igor immediately recognized now the holy symbol around his neck, the sign of Erythnul. God of Slaughter

“Welcome to the Sacred Hunt! O Worthy Prey, you alone passed the trial of the beasts. Tonight, by the light of the Hunters’ Moon, you shall be offered to the greatest of hunters!”

Sha’Riven, usually quite happy-go-lucky, was incensed. Erythnul was anathema to everything Solonor Thelandira preached. Cruel wanton slaughter were all sins in her eyes.

The ranger laughed at her outrage, and introduced his “cohort” to them.


Jekun, Paladin of Slaughter.


Raoth, half-orc ranger.


Rik-Uriik, ettin shaman of Erythnul.

Denerik then told then that the fast approaching sundown would be when the Sacred Hunt begins. The Hunters leave them to their fate and return to their lodge, awaiting the sunset.

Fossil and Aki are first to free themselves, they then release the rest of the group. Without weapons or armour, they are simply sitting ducks where they stand. Sha’Riven was still incensed at the blasphemous ritual, and vowed to slay all of the hunters.

Their first inspiration is to head back to the trap they set for the displacer beasts. However, once they found it, the dead beasts were already removed, and the trap itself dismantled. The sun was fully set and the night of a full moon began.

So began the Sacred Hunt.

Arrows stung the group from unseen snipers, and the well-armed Hunters soon closed in. Sha’Riven got the group to split up and not let the Hunters choose the killing grounds.

Using broken pit spikes as makeshift spears, Aki managed to draw first blood, killing the ranger Raoth.

Using his innate healing, Sir Henry drew Rik-Uriik and Jekun to him, feigning lethal wounds. The paladin of Bahamut took great pleasure slaying the mockery of a holy warrior.

Now armed with Raoth’s enchanted bow, Damien took out the ettin.

With his minions slain, Denerik took on his true form.

Revealed to be a werewolf of considerable power, Denerik repels the group’s combined assaults, and kills Ivan.

The rest of the group cannot withstand his assault, and they retreat back towards the Hunters’ Lodge.

There they were able to find a dagger made of silver, which made it possible to deliver lethal damage to the monster.

Damien took great satisfaction avenging Igor’s death. After the last Hunter was slain, the group returned to Igor’s body. He was too far gone for their rudimentary skill, so instead it was decided to honor him by turning the hunting lodge into a proper consecrated memorial.

A fitting monument to a cleric of the Death Goddess.

When they returned to the lodge, they recovered their own equipment, and came across a macabre trophy room. It seemed the Hunters had run the lodge for almost a decade, preying on hapless travelers every Hunters’ Moon.

Sha’Riven was grimly satisfied to destroy the altars to Erythnul, and the group set to lay all the physical remains to rest while searching for evidence of the victims’ identities.

After laying Igor to rest, the group sorted through the rest of the remains.

This was when among the trophied remains of one victim they discovered a very interesting journal:

This evidence showed that Nubereg had been scouted for at least a year prior to the attack. And now they had a name: Nemina.

But even more interesting was the next entry:

More names, Lemisk, and quite probably the Lady Nubereg were on the trail of another Orb, and it looks like there was an active hunt for more orbs.

The group decided to press on to Dehagen and find Lady Nubereg…

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Chapter 1 Part 2: What Lies Beneath?
This is where the troubles begin
Part 1

Nubereg

After the attack

PURPOSE ABORTED. FOCUS OF PURPOSE NO LONGER WITHIN RANGE. REFORMATTING


When the smoke cleared and the damage was assessed, the town’s would-be defenders gathered around the mysterious animated statue that came from the old ruins.

As the orb and the orb robbers made their escape, the warforged felt his single-minded drive began to wane. Self-repair enchantments kicked in, and everything went dark for a time.


SELF-REPAIR COMPLETE. REFORMATTING COMPLETE. NEW PURPOSE UNAVAILABLE. CLEANSING PROTOCOL ENABLED.

Cleansing…?

PLEASE INPUT UNIT DESIGNATION

“… this old fossil?” A voice asked.

Fossil?

DESIGNATIONFOSSIL.” PURPOSE NOT FOUND. PLEASE AWAIT NEW INSTRUCTIONS.

What “cleansing?” Who are you?

STAND BY.

CLEANSING: PROTOCOL TO SECURE HOLDING AREA IF OBJECT IN QUESTION IS REMOVED. POSSIBILITY OF INFILTRATION LIKELY. AREA TO BE PURGED. THIS WILL BEGIN IN 58 MINUTES, 33 SECONDS. PLEASE AVOID CRECHE-FORGE, DAMAGE MAY RESULT.


Having just met moments earlier, the would-be defenders of Nubereg considered what had just happened. The strangers introduced themselves.

Aki Warflame, totem warrior of the Northerlunds. Omens told him to be here on this day.

Damien Thornbrick, an honest shopkeeper trying to make an honest living (and black market smuggler who is elbow-deep in ever dirty dealing in town).

Shagrielanthalas Riven (“but please, call me Sha’Riven”), wild elf favored soul of Solonor Thelandira, Lord of the Hunt.

Igor Von Grimm (“It’s a common where I’m from.”), cleric of Wee Jas, the Lady of Death.

Sir Henry Garrickson, paladin of Bahamut who is so new, the holy oil had not get dried on his forehead.

To their surprise, the living statue started to move. The encounter with the fire elemental didn’t kill it after all.

It stood, and tried to address the five others.

“I am designated ‘Fossil.’ What will new PURPOSE be?”

“Do you understand that?” Sir henry asked. He had a dabbling of the language of Celestia, and this sounded similar.

“I do no think you understand me,” Fossil said, the blank looks confirming his theory.

He waved his hands with arcane motions, and the five defenders quickly drawing weapons on him.

WAIT! Stop!”

From the keep came running the high priest of the Bahamut (Father of Dragons), bearing wounds from the airship attack not quite healed.

He took a knee in front of Fossil.

“The prophesy! This is the Harbinger of Doom! Show mercy on the Dragon Father’s humble servants!”

Fossil completed the spell.

Perhaps they will understand now.

“Please excuse me. I do not know who the Dragon Father is.”

Sir Henry lowered his sword. He could sense no malice in the creature. And the holy father declared him some harbinger, and no good ever came from slaying a harbinger.

Fossil watched as the older human in the regalia continued to prostrate himself. Unaware of what it was called, Fossil began to feel embarrassed.

“Please do not continue bowing. I am not here to herald any End of Times.”

He stopped. What did the voice in his head say?

CLEANSING: PROTOCOL TO SECURE HOLDING AREA IF OBJECT IN QUESTION IS REMOVED> POSSIBILITY OF INFILTRATION LIKELY. AREA TO BE PURGED. THIS WILL BEGIN IN 58 MINUTES, 33 SECONDS. PLEASE AVOID CRECHE-FORGE, DAMAGE MAY RESULT.__

“Actually no, that is not entirely true. In 57 minutes this entire valley will be destroyed. I believe it is because the Orb was taken from its sanctuary.”

Fossil nodded to himself, pleased that he did not relay inaccurate information.

“56 minutes and 12 second.”


The assembled group took a moment to process what this construct had said.

“Blessed Father,” Sir Henry said to the still prostrate cleric, “er, what prophesy are you speaking of?”

The high priest of Bahamut stood up, a bit chagrined.

“You don’t understand! Since the founding Nubereg, it was said if the rest of Sir Loren Nubereg were ever disturbed, a great and terrible judgement would be passed on all the peoples of the land!”

Igor was an avid scholar of history and local legends, but he had never heard of such a warning.

“Is this written, this Prophecy? Might it be misinterpreted?” All eyes turned to him, Sir Henry trying to shake his head in warning.

Novice Von Grimm,” the priest sniffed, “this prophecy is older than this town, and has been passed down since the first flagstone of Nubereg castle was laid. It cannot be ‘misinterpreted’.”

“I beg your pardon,” Sha’Riven piped in, “but my people have been in this valley before the first humans cut stone. If there was any foretold doom here, I’m sure our Elders would have told me.”

What she did not say (or even realized) was that the wood elf elders long ago learned to not bother telling her anything not involving more than two syllables.

“Can you show us this prophecy?” Damien asked. The paladin scowled at the smarmy shopkeeper. Bahamut knew he was always up to some not-quite-evil deed, and he was making a mockery of a grave situation.

“A prophecy is not simply written on a piece of vellum and nailed to a wall, merchant. It is kept safe from prying eyes.”

Fossil interrupted.

“Fifty-five minutes.”


The high priest relented, and took the collected group to the temple of Bahamut. Locked an hidden from the laity’s eyes was a secret chamber. One wall had the remains of a stained glass window, and on the ceiling was the faded remains of a vast mural.

The glass depicted a ten scenes, with only six fully intact:

  • A red orb sitting on a frozen field
    A silver orb within a half-opened cask
    A green orb held in the palm of a blue-skinned giant
    A bronze orb on a stone dais surrounded by a feathered serpent
    A gold orb in the hand of an elf lord
    And a white orb cradled by a pious knight.

The mural is more difficult to decipher: the white orb sat on a throne, surrounded by statues that looked like the thing that called itself Fossil.

Another quadrant of the mural saw the throne empty, and the statues drawing blades in a threatening manner.

Finally, a depiction of fire and general suffering was shown. vague, but it could possibly mean moving the orb could result in fiery destruction.

“Thirty-nine minutes,” Fossil said, helpfully.

“Okay, so then if what Fossil says is true, and your painting of DOOM suggests is right, we’re all going to die,” Damien said glumly.

“Well not necessarily all of us,” Sha’Riven offered, “maybe just those of us that are close to the ruins.”

“Well, can it be shut down?” Igor asked, wondering why no one else thought to.

Fossil thought for a moment. If the CLEANSING was a provision created to react to this artifact being moved, then perhaps there was a way to stop, or at least delay the CLEANSING.

He shared this theory with the others.

“I’m not the ‘wait to die’ sort,” Damien says, nervously thumbing his icy dagger, “so, Magic Man, how do we get in there and turn it off?”

“I am not a man, I am Warforged,” Fossil corrected.

Damien shrugged, waiting for more elaboration.

“As for ‘shutting down’ the CLEANSING, I do not know. I suppose we could follow the path which the invaders took, and try not to let the inner defenses kill us.”

Damien was eager to shut down whatever ancient gift of spite lay waiting, Sir Henry was not about to allow such a shifty individual to go in alone, and Fossil was curious to see if any more like him were still intact.

Sha’Riven, Igor and Aki all felt obliged to join them, both at the high priest’s urging, and by the sudden camaraderie that sharing a life-or-death battle brings in people.

Without a moment to lose, the all quickly headed to the ruins.

“Twenty-one minutes.”

“You don’t need to keep telling us this, by the way,” Igor tells the warforged.

The first death traps were already sprung by the armoured invaders, and the site of the ripped, crushed, and mangled bodies encouraged caution among the group. Aki’s ability to blink from one place to another, and Damien’s knack for spotting traps help speed their descent into the complex.

Finally, they reached the throne depicted in the mural. And as shown, it sat empty.

Behind the throne, an ancient clockwork mechanism seemed to be counting down to something. And there was only a short amount of time remaining.

Fourteen minutes, Fossil thought. I noticed reciting the countdown upset his new associated, so he decided to keep this information to himself.

Damien assessed the machinery, and it seemed that whatever it was, it could be be stopped. But before he could do anything, another defensive measure was activated…

Standing twice the size of the tallest of the group, four giant warforged materialized from the countdown mechanism, and attempted to crush the small organism trying to deactive the CLEANSING.

Aki, Henry, Sha’Riven and Igor fought to hold the giant machine men off, while Fossil and Damien worked to figure out how the ancient doomsday clock could be dismantled.

Being not evil, they prove a particular challenge to Sir Henry. While he knew it was vital to protect the people of Nubereg, he feared it was an act of sacrilege to fight these defenders.

Aki had no such compunction, but he was grateful for the healing magic of Sha’Riven, as he was being pummeled greatly.

Finally the mechanism was destroyed, and the giant warfored guardians exploded in a massive energy surge…

…all of which was absorbed by Fossil, causing him to suffer a massive overload.

When the smoke cleared, the group carried the fallen defender back to the temple of Bahamut.


Within the mind of Fossil, strange images coalesced

- Ten Orbs: Red, Blue, White, Black, Green, Silver, Bronze, Gold, Brass and Copper,
- A field of bones beset by storms: some of the bones of huge creature do not rest lightly,
- A Winged man on a ziggurat, screaming at a monstrous being with five heads,
- A great fortress in the sky, shining with holy light,

while a trilling flute played an infectious melody…

“…seems to heal it, but not as effectively as it might you or I…”

Voices called Fossil.

NO PURPOSE FOUND. PLEASE STAND BY. YOU ARE FREE TO MOVE ABOUT FREELY PENDING FURTHER PURPOSE.

And he opened his eyes.


The group laid the creature that called itself Fossil among the others wounded and killed in the temple of Bahamut. Igor, Sha’Riven and Sir Henry all expended all the healing magic they could for those in need.

Finally Sha’Riven tried to heal Fossil, from whatever it was that ailed “him”.

Humans are always so caught up in their gender pronouns, she thought idly.

“Do you think that will work, Elf Shaman?” the Norlunder named Aki asked her. “I had thought the power of the Gods only worked on those of flesh and blood?”

She shrugged. Something had happened when she cast the spell on Fossil.

“The Blessings of Solonor Thelandira seems to heal it, but not as effectively as it might you or I,” she tell him. “And I told you my name is Sha’ Riven. Shamanism is something for lizardfolk.”

Aki had no idea what a “lizard folk” was, but took her rebuke stoically. Stoicism being second only to anger as the most common mood of those from the Northerlunds.

The Fossil opened his eyes.

“The orb! And walking bones! And where is the winged one shouting?”

The five defenders surrounded the warforged. After calming Fossil somewhat, they all set about to helping put out the remaining fires, help those they could, and bury those they could not.


Two days passed. The last of the dead were buried, and rebuilding slowly began. Aki, Igor, Sha’Riven, Sir Henry, Damien and Fossil were brought to an audience with Lord Rupert Nubereg and the surviving priests of Fharlanghn, Pelor and Bahamut.

The attack on the town and theft of the artifact might have deeper repercussions. The town leaders ask the group to seek out Lord Nubereg’s sister, who has an estate in the city of Denhagen. Comptess Nubereg could possibly help determine what was taken, and why. Due to the damage and potential for another attack, Lord Nubereg and the churches cannot spare any other manpower.

The journey on foot would be about three days, taking the Old Road through the Dïrkwald. For their own reasons, each member of the group agrees to take the journey, be it duty, vengeance, curiosity, PURPOSE, Omens, or nothing better to do.

And after some time spent to outfit themselves and collect whatever evidence of the attack and the artifact taken they can, they set out on the Old Road toward Denhagen.

Part 2

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