A God Am I

The Free City

Septereve (literally “Seven Domains”) is an independent city-state, located on a western peninsula on the landmass collectively known as the Unclaimed North.

Founded 300 years ago, it began as a modest freehold with a deep-water port and small castle keep. Over the years more and more refugees from wars and warlords throughout the Unclaimed North sough sanctuary within the walls of Septereve.

In time, seven warlords contested for control of the growing city, and a consensus was made, each Lord would have a section of the city as their own domain or “Reve”.

130 years ago, the Dread Lord of the North Roland Morgenstern built up a great army and set about conquering the Unclaimed North. He met his final end at the walls of Septereve, which earned its title of the Free City.

Since then Septereve has continued to be a mecca for those seeking safety and sanctuary from dark forces.

Chapter 5 Part 2: Chasing Shadows

As the group approached the city of Xix,- a host of outriders fast approached.

The riders stopped their approach before smashing into the group, so it looked like diplomacy would be the best approach.

The riders’ captain informed the Knights that the city was on high alert, as infiltrators and assassins were attempting to destabilize the city for possible invasion. Thus entry to the city was restricted.

After some terse negotiations (kobolds and warforged were not often seen in the city), Etaine managed to convince the riders of their benign intentions. The cover story being opening a new trade agreement between Nubereg and Xix.

It took a few more hours before the group was admitted into the city proper. All spells known were registered with the Arcane Enforcement Agency (the better to trace any errant magic), and weapons were given enchanted peace knots.

The unexpectedly, Etaine and her “retinue” were given access to an embassy specifically set aside for Nubereg diplomats. Left empty for decades, a tireless invisible servant kept the place free of dust and vermin.

Apparently, one of Etaine’s ancestors did engage in trade with the city. At least 200 years had passed since the last visit, which coincided with the last great orc horde foray into the lands of the south.

Things got more complicated after the group settle into the abandoned embassy. A summons from the First Citizen Venothrax was delivered. Apparently the long-lived head of state remembered the last Lord Nubereg to visit.

Evening came, and the group split up. Etaine, Fossil, Sir Henry, and Halsaephus were to attend First Citizen Venothrax’s summons, while Damien, Aki, Kleeth, and Sha’Riven would set about looking for hints of the Order of Io.

Not long into their search, Damien and his company were set upon by a large press gang.

Led by a half-iron golem and a shapechanged ogre magi, the group was dearly outmatched. Soon they found themselves chained belowdecks on an outgoing ship to parts unknown…

But that is another story.

Etaine and company were received at the City Hall by the First Citizen’s secretary, Weden; who was surprisingly a half-orc.

Due to the proximity of the Red Steppe, orcs have passed through the gates time and again. Sometimes as invaders, sometimes as refugees, sometimes as traders. Weden’s family had been part of the civil service of Xix since the times of Thruk Skullcaver and his Great Horde.

They were then ushered into an audience with First Citizen Venothrax. The elf archmage was delighted to make acquaintance with Etaine and Sir Henry particularly, suggesting he knew of both their ancestors and was surprised to see Nubereg suddenly re-establishing ties after such a long absence.

A game of evasion and empty platitudes punctuated the state dinner held in the Knights’ honour. Sir Henry was getting very anxious have not heard from Sha’Riven and the rest for several hours, but Venothrax assured him he would dispatch city watch agents to find them.

As dinner wrapped up, Weden came and whispered into Venothrax’s ear. Excusing himself, the elflord stepped out onto the adjacent balcony. He bade the goup join him.

From the east they could see small shapes in the sky. Ten, twenty, more. And the were getting closer.

A fleet of Thenesian airships were approaching Xix in formation.

“Thenes is playing their hand, my friends. Strange they arrive just after you did.” he notes with some amusement. “Oh no, I would not dream to accuse you of being a invasion’s vanguard. But I would APPRECIATE the real reason you’ve passed through my fine city.”

With some omissions (i.e. Fossil currently holding the Brass Orb of Dragonkind within his chest cavity), Etaine disclosed the attack on Nubereg, the discovery of the purpose of gathering the Orbs, and their seeking of the Order of Io.

Venothrax took all the new in stride. Over the past few months, ambassadors from Thenes made overtures towards Xix and Venothrax to peacefully reunite with the Empire. Each subsequent request was more and more overtly threatening, culminating with this display of force.

The airships stopped outside of range of Xix’s considerable siege defenses, and generally floating in an ominous manner.

The First Citizen asked his guests if they could accompany him in greeting this emissary of the Empire, and they were obliged to agree, not really having a choice.

Finally one airship broke formation and approached the City Hall. A single green-clad person floated down towards the waiting group.

The figure introduced herself as Ambassador Camille Linin, of the Second Empire of Thenes. She relayed that Emperor Thenacus II, May He Live Thousand Years was greatly saddened by the loss of the Empire’s prodigal city of Xix. The time for diplomacy was at an end, submission or annihilation were the only options remaining.

This was of course the first time any of the Knights of Nubereg met one of the architects of the whole Orbs-Godhood scheme. First dismissing them as exotic minions of the First Citizen, but then did a double take.

She demanded Venothrax surrender the group to her. But Venothrax instead with a mere word of power knocked the Thenesian off the balcony. She recovered, and flew back to the airship.

The ships began to disgorged troops like those that attacked Nubereg those many weeks ago. However, Xix was prepared for such an attack.

Air cavalry mounted on griffons tore into the enchanted soldiers as the floated vulnerably to the ground.

Venothrax again asked the Knights to accompany him, this time to meet the invaders in battle. Magical siege weaponry assailed the airships, and the Knights of Nubereg joined the battle in the streets of Xix against the Thenesian soldiers.

Not a mere insertion force, these soldiers were a much more formidable adversary for the group. The aid from Xix’s own armed forces, and the sustantial power of Venothrax helped turn the tide.

At last only the airship of Dinin remained, which quickly turned and fled eastward. The First battle of Xix was won.

Venothrax was not pleased. This skirmish would be just the beginning. His city had prepared for this inevitability for decades, but tough times would be ahead. With the orcs on the march to the north of the Red Steppe, the city’s defenses were split.

He knew their quest’s success would help divert Thenes from his gates, but as well he knew spies and assassins will have infiltrated all levels of the city by now.

Summarily, he took four of the surviving invaders, magically disguised them to looks like Etaine, Henry, Fossil and Hal, and had them very quickly and very publically denounced as Thenesian spies.

Then each was executed gruesome fashion.

Time was of the essence, now. Venothrax’s agents could find no sign of the others, scrying came up empty and no word was left at the Nubereg Embassy. The time bought with the mock execution could not be squandered.

Venothrax gave assurances that once found, he would speed the rest of the group along. They now needed at all haste to get out of the city. Giving each a magical disguise, he directed them to the slums under the Bridge, to seek out a Thenesian exile named Dr. Petr Ceracis.

The scholar wanted little to do with them until they pointed out they wanted to prevent the Emperor of Thenes from ascending to godhood. His extensive study of religious dogma proved useful, as he knew of the ancient signs and secret symbols of the Order of Io.

The group was troubled by Aki, Sha’Riven, Kleeth and Damien’s disappearance, but they didn’t have the luxury of searching for them now. Ceracis told them their next destination would have to be the Great Library of the Free City, far up in the Unclaimed North.

Dawn the next morning, Dr. Ceracis and four inconspicuous dawrf companions boarded a modest fishing vessel; its destination, the Free City of Septereve.

Crossroad of the World

Xix is a sovereign city-state that sits at the crossing of the Common Road and the Great Canal of Thenacus, two of the Great Wonders, both were created during the reign of Thenacus the First.

The Common Road was built approximately 1100 years prior. The aim was to connect all cities of the Empire, from Xix to the West, to Akrolos in the East.

The Great Canal was magically torn through the Xix Isthmus, using primal magic and thousands of enslaved elementals. It remains one of the largest artificial construct in the world, rivaled only by the Wall of Ekern in its magnitude.

The City of Xix is split into two regions, Nors Xix and Sud Xix, joined together by yet another Wonder, the Bridge of Xix.

Historically, Xix was the western trade port of the First Empire of Thenes. A great orc horde descended from the Red Steppe and sacked the town, then continued on to Thenesia. This proved instrumental in the defeat of Thenacus the First.

After this the Empire contracted, leaving such cities as Xix to defend themselves. The horde itself fell apart and survivors of the city managed to drive off the occupying humanoids. For the past 1000 years Xix has gone through several dozen revolts and civil wars, but its outer defense were never again breached.

The city now serves as bulwark against the incursions from the Red Steppe and as a gateway between the Unclaimed North, and the civilized nations to the South.

The city-state is currently ruled by a First Citizen, who has control over the military, who in turn is advised by a council of high-ranking merchants of scholars—the so-called First Council.

The present First Citizen is Venothrax, a High Elf Archmage who has ruled for over two centuries.

Although the New Empire of Thenes has grown and is in the process of reclaiming lost territories, Venothrax has thus far rebuffed attempts to annex the city. He knows it is a matter of time before their polite overtures turn into armed invasion, and he focuses most of his efforts to secure Xix’ independence.

Chapter 5 Part 1: Chasing Shadows
Tying Loose Ends

The threat to Nubereg was stopped, for now. And the reason for the original attack was discovered as well.

The Knights of Nubereg now had a new goal, to find the the secretive Order of Io, and get the Orbs of Dragonkind before the forces of Thenes beat them to them.

The journey to Denhagen was uneventful. The group has gained much power since their first frantic stumbling through the Dïrkwold, and any would-be predatory gave them a respectful berth.

Back in Denhagen, the group arrived at Nubereg House quietly. They knew that a provincial town like Denhagen would not have the resources needed to find this Order of Io and in the meantime the agents of Thenes’ varied and colourful organizations would need to be fended off. It would only be a matter of time until word got out they had the Brass Orb and the combined forces of the Worlds’ largest empire would bear down on them.

So Sha’Riven came up with a simple plan: let them think they already had it.

Being the newcomer to town, Sir Henry was magically disguised as Halsaephus sought out the Dashers, resident thieves’ and associates of Damien.

Claiming he had slain Damien and took his belongings (he presented Damien’s silver and elemental-infused daggers as proof), Henry-as-Hal sold an enchanted replica of the Brass Orb to Clive, the Dasher fence.

After allowing the meeting to sour, “Hal” reneged on the deal, only to be mugged by Clive and his gang of footpads. Clive was pleased to “avenge” his old guild associate Damien, and the fake Orb was convincingly in the hands of the Dashers. And once the rogues were out of sight, Henry’s trollish roots allowed him to recover from the otherwise fatal injuries.

Damien was disappointed to let his daggers go, but it served a greater good.

Now it would be difficult to leave town via sea travel, since the group was now reported as formerly-alive. If they were spotted, the whole charade would go up in smoke. The group decided an overland trek was needed instead.

Westward the group went, passing through the village of Nonce again. Resting in town after the journey to, the group discovered that the mercenary company that had been shaking down the town was again up to its old tricks.

Since they were warned off by Lady Etaine, it was time to deal with the company once and for all.

Setting on the road, the group quickly found a band of the mercenaries working an extortion racket on the road. Better seasoned and equipped than the last bunch encountered, the band put up a fair fight, but fell to the Knights of Nubereg in due time.

From the survivors they were able to magically coax information about the company’s stronghold, where its strong points were, the company’s numbers, etc.

The stronghold was too much for group alone to take, however Aki had a better idea.

Having taking control of a tribe of kobolds on his last visit to the region, he now sought them. The tribe had moved into the abandoned temple where Etaine was found. A tribe of kobolds unchecked was just as problematic as a small army of extortionists, so one was set onto the other.

In a matter of days, the stronghold was overrun, then trade company driven off. As their nominal king, Aki ordered the tribe to quietly defend the town of Nonce until his return.

Unexpectedly, a shaman of the tribe came to Aki and told him that it was time for his vision quest to continue.

Aki was shocked that some tiny reptile would know of his Destiny, and while he was determined to follow his path, he was honour-bound to aid his companions first.

Kleeth, the shaman followed regardless, occasionally hissing to him about destinies and prophecies, much to Damien and Hal’s irritation.

The group informed the folks of Nonce about the end of the mercenary company, then set off west again. Following the Common Road, they would eventually reach the great crossroads city of Xix.

As they approached town, a large party of armed outriders raced towards them…

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…

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.