|The Twin Emperors - Story Minute
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|Author:||Writen [ Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:51 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Session 14 - Deadly Fruit|
Thanks Reimdail! Between getting married, running four summer camps, and totaling my car, it was a busy summer; hence the long delay. Only a few sessions left however, so will try to get them finished in the next month or so.
The companions sailed out over the smoking crater towards the group of hundred-odd Boulderlanders navigating its rim. As they made their impulsive launch, Mideru bowed, Jr. stared, and Samara and Blisseru swore up storms in their own respective languages. Mud Stone stared at Pursus, tapping three fingers against his face then pointing up at the Gibbering Moon. Then he walked off the ship.
While Michkin and Nanoc glided towards the group, Eliot Sam and Pursus struggled with the controls. Gorge and Brassy jerked the control sticks and spiraled back to save Mud Stone, Brassy grabbing him by the leg as he fell and leaving Gorge alone at the controls. Seeing Gorge and Brassy struggling with their extra passenger, Michkin and Nanoc sailed back to take Mud Stone. Nanoc fumbled the transition and sending Mud Stone plummeting thousands of feet into the smoldering haze below.
With help from a few summoned bursts of wind, Eliot Sam and Pursus cleared the crater to land on gentle rise, while Michkin's slick flying zipping he and Nanoc quickly to the same hill. Gorge and Brassy, however, crashed at the edge of the crater, landing heavily in a small pond.
The group marshaled as a detachment of Boulderlanders approached with weapons drawn. Seeing Nanoc among them, they halted, the groups leader, Torhild, telling Nanoc their orders were to kill the fliers and bring their winged contraptions to Enkila. Not expecting a fellow Boulderlander, they allowed Nanoc to convince them to bring them and one of their gliders to whoever Enkila was instead.
A short hike later found them surrounded by Boulderlanders and in discussion with the Rimewitch Enkila, the long sought and faintly luminous Twins regarding them curiously from nearby. In the exchange, Nanoc revealed they had flown north in pursuit of the Twins while Enkila told of the invasion of the host of the Boulderlands behind the Khan Borli Victorix who had found for the first time a secret way for the Kinnate to avoid the Summer Swamp and so invade en masse.
A few days ago, a northbound airship passing the southbound Boulderland horde let her band to follow, the massive explosion several days later filling the plains with fire and the air with ash. They skirted the fire in the mountains and pressed through the burnt stalks of the plains only to discover the Twins and Akuma climbing down the pedestal of earth at the heart of the crater.
After seizing the Twins and taking them for delivery to Borli, Akuma slipped away, pursued by Enkila's best tracker Sigrid and her brother, Marx. Nanoc warned them that a Legion was coming north to fight them, swearing one Legionnaire was worth fifty Boulderlanders. Enkila said they had destroyed the three Legions of the Curitous March, attacking their forts unexpectedly from the South instead of the North and lost almost no one.
She further told of Borli's plan to set the clans to taking the Eon Baronies and Aetherport, Borli and the clan leaders currently holding a final meeting two days south before they clans dispersed. Another meeting was set for the end of Summer-year for Borli to take her part-in-ten of whatever wealth they captured.
Enkila said she had been told to kill all non-Boulderlanders they encountered to maintain surprise, but that this group would make excellent prizes for the Khan. Nanoc swore on his honor that they would cause no mischief if allowed to retain their weapons, Pursus proclaimed Eliot Sam the Khan of the Baronies, but Eliot Sam shushed him, pulling the group into a private discussion to determine their goals and intentions.
At that moment, Salga hijacked Pursus. Pursus struggled to remain aware as Gorge jumped on him and proceeded to “pound the demon” out one palm-heel-to-the-forehead at a time. Salga's rage at being stymied caused her to return to her own body, Pursus maintaining the wherewithal to ride back with her. He found himself behind her eyes as she rose from a divan in a luxuriant, marbled penthouse.
In a fury, Salga struck down a naked slave, walked around a shimmering pool, and hurled a brazier over the tenth-story balcony into the street below. Beyond spread Old Aedaron, an immense shimmering dome of paned glass sparkling nearby. Pursus attempted to seize her instead, failing completely but managing to slip away before she noticed his presence.
Passing his episode off as “communion with his Gods”, the group promised to do no harm unless they were attacked first, Enkila offering that they were free to kill any Boulderlander that tried without her sanction. Michkin said he would split from the group to tell their companions in the Brother's Pride where they headed, but was told he had two choices: go with the group or be killed.
Their tactic shifted to convincing Enkila to come to the ship instead, to arrive at the Khan's Council in style. Enkila asked if the ship was to be a gift and when the group replied in the negative, she admitted that Borli was likely to take it regardless so better if they just make it a gift. Gorge argued that they were all slaves in all but name now so it didn't matter what they did.
Withdrawing again, they sussed out their goals, Pursus stating he wanted the Twins to use a political device to gain Chiain's support of Eliot Sam, Michkin saying he was in it for the reward and didn't care what they did as long as they got it.
They returned to Enkila, Nanoc finally convincing her to travel with them by promising they would train Boulderlanders to fly airships on the trip. As Enkila organized her honor guard and half-a-dozen others to accompany them to the ship, they took a moment to speak to the Twins, the bold girl Nushen and the timid boy Yinshi
Eliot Sam simply asked if they wished to return home, getting a vague affirmative. Pursus gleaned much more, learning Akuma had come to them to recruit them for a quest to save the world from a powerful demon who claimed the world as its own but had lost it. He had said he needed the Twins to help him destroy the beacons that the demon had left behind to find its way back.
When the Twins gestured towards the shattered obelisk at the heart of the crater, Eliot Sam recalled that four-such obelisks stood at the compass points of the world, said to be so ancient as to predate man, most commonly believed to be a shield or ward of some sort.
Then it was Nushen's turn, asking Eliot Sam why he was so old (“because I haven't died yet”), Pursus and Michkin why their skin was so dark(“our god made us that way”), Pursus why he wore the strange mask(“it is a symbol of my order”), Michkin why he wore the big hat (“I'm our Aethership Captain”) and gaining his promise that she could fly the ship some day.
She asked Pursus which God was his father(“I'm not sure, but they say the Great Wanderer”), asked Gorge why his teeth were filed(“To better eat the hearts of man”) and why he did it since it had to hurt (“Strength is an easy trade for pain”), what hearts tasted like(“Blood”), and asked Nanoc what happened to his face(“Swamp monster bite”) and where his ear went(“Don't lose duels, kids.”.
Pursus left them with a warning that as fellow Gods-born they were likely to be used by those around them jealous of their power. Nushen asked if he was trying to use them too and he warned them that she and her brother would have to trust their own judgment, telling them their uncle might be an imposter. Nushen promised that when he returned to continue their quest, she'd have Yinshi figure it out since he was so smart.
As the main band of Boulderlanders headed South with the Twins, they headed East with Enkila. They had not gone far when a grimy Mud Stone scrambled up out of the crater. Asked why he had walked off the ship he replied unhelpfully that he forgot not to fall until the last minute.
That night they reached the edge of the Stonewood, those on watch hearing massive creatures pushing through the woods and three luminous pairs of huge eyes watching them from the treeline. In the morning Nanoc found a game trail seeming to head straight towards the mountain where the Brother's Pride had headed. They followed it despite the massive bear-sized cat-prints going the same direction.
After several hours they came to a huge tree bearing strange head-sized orange fruits. Spotting movement in the tree, Nanoc shouted a warning to the young Boulderlander who approached that the fruit had legs. The Boulderlander hurled a stone and thirty melon-sized spiders fell from the tree and rushed towards them.
In the chaos of the battle that ensued, Gorge attempted to assassinate Enkila, turning the battle into a three-way compaions-Boulderlanders-spiders clash turned in the companions' favor by a massive wind summoned by Pursus that rendered the Boulderlander's bows useless, the freaking stone-throwing and luck-turning of Mud Stone, and the dense forest that restricted the Boulderlander's ability to engage them effectively.
Just before Nanoc's arrow took her in the forehead, the last surviving Boulderlander lowered her bow, grinned, and said to him in Clanspeak "this was a good death."
As Gorge's many wounds were patched up, Enkila was discovered to be still alive, then was bound and gagged.
About that time, Nanoc and Brassy began hallucinating from their spider bites...
|Author:||Writen [ Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:12 am ]|
|Post subject:||Session 15 - Cannibal Courtship, Countless Clans, and Covert Cuckholdry|
After reviving Gorge, tying down their berserk companions, and slitting the throats of all the common foes, a brief discussion of Enkila's fate determined magic users were too dangerous to let live and she joined her compatriots in a slightly-delayed glorious death.
About that time, Eliot Sam spotted a massive horse-sized cat stalking towards them, issuing warning to his companions by way of hurling a knife into the woods. As the huge feline evaded and leapt forwards, Gorge approached and attempted to tame the monster, instead batted aside as easily as a ball of string as an even larger mother cat and a second cub charged from opposite sides of the clearing. Thanks largely to some terrifying sorcery from Pursus teleporting a tree branch into the mother's throat, she was killed and the cubs driven off. Exhausted from the back-to-back battles, the group dragged their near dead and/or hallucinating friends an hour up the trail before collapsing in exhaustion.
The following morning, they finally cleared the treeline, scaled a massive talus slope, and waded through snowfield near the peak from which their Aethership hung tethered. Two pair of light footprints tracked down from their ship, presumed to be the two-day old path of Mideru and Blisseru. Pushing on, the group scrambled across a glacier near the peak to find that a small crevasse was all that separated them from their ship. While the others debated plans for crossing it, Eliot Sam leaped over the gap and threw back a rope for the others to follow.
Shouts to the seemingly vacant ship brought Eliot Jr. stumbling out of the Captain's Cabin, Eliot Sam happening to check the mooring lines as Samara emerged behind his son wrapped in a bed sheet. As the rest of the companions shifted their gazes uncomfortably in Eliot Sam's direction, she slipped back within.
“What?” Eliot Sam said, staring at his compatriots. None had the guts to tell him.
The group zip-lined down to the ship, Eliot Sam weathering a forceful kiss and equally passionate slap from Samara for “abandoning her without a word – I thought you were dead” and further beratements. Eliot Sam told her he was a man of action, not words to which she argued he could perhaps spare one or two for her before abandoning her, storming off as Brassy slid to the deck.
The group debated tracking the Saitese pair or pushing on after the Twins, eventually deciding on the latter after a good night's rest to recover from their battles and hard trek up the mountain.
Soon after, Eliot Sam re-approached Samara, reiterating he was a man of words. This led to her revelation that she was her fathers favorite and thus he sold her last out of all her siblings to cover his gambling debts. She demanded an apology and demanded the ring he'd promised in Aetherport. He delayed and, when she asked for a promise to tell her what he was doing in the future he replied with his usual eloquent “f@&k that”.
With predictable results.
They rested the night, enjoying the luxury of a roof and lack of night-stalking murder cats, awakening to consume the last of the ship-board supplies. The effects of Aiko's poisoning began to make themselves felt again and they brewed another pot of the antidote, adding finding a full cure for it to their ever-growing to do lists.
Over breakfast, Gorge pronounced the Twins as too dangerous a weapon to handle that should be destroyed instead. Pursus countered that they needed the Twins alive to secure Chiain's help in the Baronies. Michkin compared them to ambulatory piles of gold should they get them to their thrones intact. Gorge again called them too dangerous, perhaps leading the Saitese to making war on the Baronies instead of aiding them once they became Emperors. Michkin replied they were at least as likely to become powerful allies instead.
Pursus protested all the talk of speaking of the two children as things rather than people. Brassy agreed, presenting the idea of a sale at Heaven's Gateway with a knife to the kid's throats to drive up their price or the complete alternate plan: win the kids over and live out their lives in paradise as rescuers of Emperors.
While they talked, Eliot Sam slipped away on a quest for Boulderlander bodies, followed by Pursus, only to discover hours of hiking later that they could no longer find the right trail that led to them. On their return, Pursus took a fast detour down the crevasse and had to be fished out and his injuries mended before they set sail.
A day and a half across the skies later found them half-a-mile above a gathering of tens of thousands of Boulderlanders of many clans all surrounding a massive leather tent. Pursus's arrow augury placed Mideru within said tent. The ship was set to circling the gathering to await night lit only by the rusty light of the Iron Moon. During the wait, Mud Stone took a questing slurp on Gorge's man bits, his bizarre “cocknomancy” placing one Subtle Jade somewhere in the Eon Baronies.
When Michkin asked the relevance of this person, the murderous cannibal proclaimed the courtesan his true love, his compass. Samara bitterly told Eliot Sam he should speak of her that way, Pursus countering that maybe she should be trying to prove herself to Eliot Sam instead of the other way around. Brassy agreed, causing Samara to throw Eliot Sam a petty ultimatum “her or me! I won't have that red-haired hussy on my ship any more!” He ignored her, sending her off for a mighty sulk, locked away in their cabin.
Mid-day, the massive gathering below broke apart and began to stream south in the form of numerous clan-groups. As Nanoc identified each by region, name, and fighting style Pursus' arrows directed them after the Twins and they drifted the ship where his arrow-augury indicated.
They reached the spot after nightfall, the Twins spotted far below in the midst of a clan of thousand Boulderlanders near a huge tent, escorted by Mideru and Blisseru. The winch and harness secured below decks were made ready, the ship dropping to a mere 300 feet as they prepared to swipe the Twins from the clutch of a barbarian clan. As they approached the heart of the camp, the boy Yinshi spotted them from beside a fire and pointed, setting Nushen to waving at them excitedly.
|Author:||Writen [ Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:56 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Session 16 - Clansmen and Sky Pirates|
As the Brother's Pride swooped low over the Boulderlander encampment to reclaim the Twins, Eliot Sam, Pursus, and Michkin braced themselves to ride the winch-cable down, drop into the camp, secure the Twins, and escape. After crudely lashing the winch into place in the hold, Eliot Sam clipped his harness in and dropped down the line, followed closely by Michkin and Pursus.
Eliot Sam jerked to a halt at the end of the 250' line, still forty feet short of the ground. With Michkin and Pursus descending after him, he thought quickly, severing the last bit of rope just as they passed over the huge tent at the heart of the encampment. After a second of freefall, the thick hides of the tent slowed him only slightly before he crashed into a meat-strewn table. Instantly, a tall, scarred, naked woman leapt from a mass of furs with a bright axe and gleaming sword of steel almost instantly in-hand as her two bed companions scrambled for their own weapons and armor.
Meanwhile, Michkin bounced and rolled off the side of the tent, quietly re-approaching it to listen within.
The woman seemed more curious than alarmed at Eliot Sam's presence, at least until Pursus slammed into the ground behind him, wasting no time in dumping heavy wounds into the ground in rippling waves of writhing darkness. His sudden appearance and unknown magics launched an exchange of blows in which the woman inflicted a grievous wound on Eliot Sam, only to have its equal returned via the razor edge of Sam's sword Widow's Reprisal's. As a thousand warriors armed themselves and poured towards the tent, Michkin hacked his way through the side to die with his companions, just in time to see the woman's call summon a thirty-foot long snake-lizard from a side nook of the tent.
Staggering back from her wound, the warrior woman called for a halt to hostilities and lowered her weapons, a gesture quickly reciprocated.
As she calmed down the riled up throng of barbarians – having to tackle the berserker she'd been sleeping with to subdue him – her pet Aedaric Theurge was dragged in wrapped in chains, forced to heal her, then hauled back out.
Righting the table, Eliot Sam, Pursus, and Michkin plunked down across from the three that had been in bed together, Pursus starting the introductions: Eliot Sam, Scion and Duke of the Eon Baronies, Michkin Scion of the Skies, and Pursus of a bank of no particular relevance. She professed some knowledge of the soul bank, but failed to elaborate further, instead introducing herself as Borli Victorix, Khan of the Kinnate. Her companions were presented as Helta Sky, loresinger, archer, and adviser and Ranveig, doughty warrior and long-time companion.
As horns of mead were exchanged for sips on a flask of whiskey Pursus always packed, Eliot Sam recounted the tale of the blow Borli had landed on him, met with much approval and followed by Helta Sky offering an identical recount of Eliot Sam's blow in halting Aedaric. Such pleasantries complete, Borli asked why they were there. Pursus said they had come for the Twins, prompting Borli to ask with some surprise and admiration if they had hoped to slip in and whisk them away from the middle of an armed camp of a thousand warriors.
Pursus then began to bandy about ideas of alliance, hinting at the vastness of the land before them and the innumerable well-trained foes they would face down every mile of the way. She then corrected their misconception that she led the whole of the Kinnate, saying she controlled only her clan, the last tie to the other Thanes their promise to meet her at her city of Aetherport at the end of Summer-year with her one-part-in-ten of whatever loot they'd claimed on pain of being hunted down by her one-by-one.
She also admitted she was ready to kill them all until Eliot Sam landed his blow, proving that they may in fact be capable of killing her before they died. While she expressed no aversion to so worthy a death, her curiosity overcame her and so here they were. The subject drifted back to the Twins and her purposes on them. She told of “the small, slimy one's” offer of a two wagon-loads of gold for the safe return of the Twins to Chiain. She would have killed him outright but for the respect and prowess exhibited by the old quiet one.
Then the topic of Enkila came up, Borli having been informed of her Rimewitches' departure. An edited version of the spider story answered her query, prompting her to ask if Enkila had found a good death and concluding that death to battle-poison to be a decent exit.
The subject returned to the innumerable Legions likely already making their way North from Old Aedaron and Borli wryly related her subtle encouragements to the Thanes who sought their glory in taking the Statue City for themselves that they might blunt and absorb the Legions until Winter-year, long enough for her to solidify her hold on Aetherport. Her only worry was that the ships might flee the approach of her army like “pigeons from the coop at the approach of a fox” which sparked a great outpouring of Clanspeak from Helta Sky.
Translated, it became a proposal that Borli and a group of her best warriors ride in Michkin's Aethership to capture the Aetherport by surprise and hold it until Borli's fifty thousand warriors could secure the rest of the city.
Giving them time to think, Borli surrendered her tent to them, heading off to complete the night-time activities they had interrupted by crashing through her roof. The resulting discussion ranged from the feasibility of convincing any number of clans to avoid the Baronies, estimations of what chance the now-divided clans would have against the unified might of the Legions, and postulations as to whether a barbarian conqueror even could rule a city the size of Aetherport. After bandying about various plans, Michkin proposed they simply follow the plan she'd laid out, judging that she would not have been able to unify all the Clans unless she was honorable. Cunning yes, but definitely honorable.
When Borli returned with her companions, Eliot Sam started things by asking her what her companions meant to her. She said Helta Sky was the loresinger from a small, barely existent Stoneborn Clan who she'd convinced to follow her not only for his wisdom and advice, but to record her legend in song. Ranveig was her longest companion and the warrior closest to her equal of all she knew, one who had traveled with her to find the secret that led the Clans across the Summer Swamp.
Eliot Sam's questions answered, she sat down to finish their whiskey and hear their decision. They proposed flying to Chiain to drop off the Twins first, then return to Aetherport. Somewhat distracted and buzzed, Borli agreed and pushed quickly for their means of boarding the ship. Michkin proposed they flag down the ship to scoop them up, then he would land it on a high hill a few miles away where she and thirty warriors could board. She agreed, but asked for someone to remain with her to ensure their compliance. Pursus immediately volunteered to stay as a hostage.
After flagging down the circling ship, Michkin snagged the trailing winch-harness and was lifted to safety, followed by Eliot Sam. After telling all aboard of what had transpired, they headed to the hill at dawn where the Boulderlanders, the Twins, Blisseru, and Mideru boarded. There, Borli learned of what she had mistakenly agreed to, changing the plan to them going to Aetherport, dropping her people off and leaving them with the Twins. Eliot Sam pushed for better terms if the deal was to be changed, gaining the promise of free access to Aetherport once it was hers along with five Aetherships.
With that they set sail, the day passing uneventfully but for Pursus attempting to contact Borli's pet healer and being rebuffed.
Near dark they approached the Hollow Mountains again to spot the rapidly approaching shape of the Fury Faeda's Mourning Star. Thinking quickly, they hid the Boulderlanders below decks in hopes the pirate ship would approach and board. Instead, it stayed high and far, lobbing bolts from a ballista along with a wave of larger three-man gliders.
Pursus leapt into action, grabbing Gorge's hawkling, ripping its wings off, transforming his own arms into massive pterodactyl wings, strapping Eliot Sam and Gorge to his harness, and heading for the ship. The boy Yinshi took the broken beast and miraculously restored it with a touch. En route, they evaded the gliders alighting on the aft castle to assault Faeda. Meanwhile, Michkin turned the Brother's Pride towards the Mourning Star as the Boulderlanders formed a shield-wall on deck to engage the gliders. One suddenly dove for the aft castle to take Michkin, but Nanoc and Brassy managed to hold them at bay long enough for the Boulderlanders to spill up from below decks.
Aboard the Mourning Star, Faeda's etched steel cutlass nearly lobotomized Eliot Sam while the half-dozen archers protecting her took Gorge down. Pursus hurled his familiar and detonated CI in their midst, but his magics were not enough, a final decision causing him to haul Eliot Sam to safety, leaving Gorge's bloody corpse behind...
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