The 22nd of Saarh, 504 D.E. (Dorrenic Era), Arile, Esoría
Having dispatched two more of the Radillar family, and with no solid leads on where the third went to after he stepped through a deep shadow and disappeared, the Company gathered many of the more portable items from Roberto Radillar's office and then discussed their plans.
They seemed to have a variety of options they wanted to follow, yet were having trouble coming to agreement. The main ideas seemed to be:
- There are many prophecies regarding six powerful beings, and the Company has begun to suspect that they have have encountered some these beings at various points in their adventuring career, most recently in the Goblin Lugalate of Nur
- The war between Esoría and Courrisseux continues to spread, but there is little rhyme or reason to how the conflict is being maintained. A careful balance has been maintained, and any time it looks like a sure victory for one side, something happens (such as new allies joining the forces of beleaguered Courrisseux). Most recently, new military leadership has taken charge on both sides. Could these new leaders in fact be some of the six "powerful beings" referred to above? If so, should the Company attempt to infiltrate the military to find out?
- Somehow, some of the ancient evil artifacts which the Company assumed they had sealed inside the dreaded Banevault forever, have ended up in the possession of Cristobal Arino, the recently deceased (murdered) Pontifex Rex of all Universal Ætonism. The Company, who were responsible for murdering the Pontifex, fled the scene before they were discovered and arrested (or worse), which leaves the question of whether the artifacts were Arino's personal items and what he used to propel himself to power, or whether they are the property of the Church itself. The Company are also left to wonder how the items got to the Holy City of Arile in Esoría, and where they are now.
- With the death of the Pontifex Rex, the Universal Ætonist Church is currently leaderless, and there are four main candidates under consideration, three of which are on the very conservative side of the fence in terms of Church doctrine. The fourth, the current Prelate of the City of Barrid, Flín Polás, is known to the Company - they saved him from certain death at the hands of one of the "six powerful evil beings" many months ago. Should the Company consider trying to install him, or another more progressive leader, as the new head of the Church with the hope of weeding our corruption?
- Through their research, the Comnpany has learned of a prophecy of seven items that need to be brought together in order to defeat what Universal Ætonist doctrine refers to as "the evil of evils." Usoruhihn, a former companion of the Company before he succumbed to the evil forces of magic, believed that at least two of these seven items might already be in the possession of the Company without their knowledge.
- The same Ætonist prophecy speaks of "the evil of evils" being vanquished in the "Forsaken City" and there is some thought that this city may be somewhere in "the North."
- The man responsible for Sombra's current plight, and why he is considered an outlaw, Vilius Radillar, is still at large and presumable carrying out the will of the Radillar family with no consequences to his former actions. Should the Company assist their comrade in tracking Vilius down and bringing him to justice?
- The issue of the Radillar family being one of the more infamous slave-trading families was discussed, and with that, the greater issue of slavery in Samoth, particularly in the Western Buchlayne continent, as a whole. Should the Company intervene in the economics and politics of the sovereign nations of the Buchlayne to help the plight of those who can't currently help themselves?
Other courses of action were discussed, but with no resolution coming, the Company chose to return to their lodgings at the Itchy Rakshasa [GM note: This name was created from one of my players using a random Tavern Name Generator on the Net when we needed a quick name. We actually went through a variety of other names before this one popped up and it made us all laugh, so it stuck. It does kind of work in a way because the Company did fight a Rakshasa before, back in Verundhi].
Return of an Old Friend, Part I
In the tavern, Jeremi spies someone out of the corner of his eye who looks familiar, but thinks nothing of it. A while later, after the image kept gnawing at him, he spoke of it to the group, and Sameer the desert warrior from Akkatomia went downstairs to investigate. A while later, none other than Cirend, Holy Paladin of Ætonism, walks into their room. After indicating the Sameer has left immediately to return to his homeland due to the current circumstances there, Cirend indicated that he left Verundhi quite battered and bruised after having been fighting against demon incursions in the South of Verundhi basically ever since the Company left him there to return to the West. The Devi of Verundhi had mentioned that she'd heard reports of demons and their demonic cultist allies taking over key government positions in the South and massacring entire villages, so Cirend stayed to investigate the situation. The South, he reported, was now completely overrun and it wouldn't be long before the entire country would be lost. Cirend's battle experience told him that the war was lost unless he could somehow get more troops or some other kind of aid to help stem the tide, so he returned to the West to see what he could do. Having learned what the Company had been up to in his absence, he agreed to join them, at least temporarily, on their quests.
[This was an opportunity for my friend Cal to switch back to his character, Cirend, the original character he created for my game. A few years ago in real time, Cal chose to "retire" Cirend based on in-game circumstances (he couldn't find a reason why Cirend would leave the Verundhi to be overrun by demons while the rest of the Company headed to the West, plus he was also a little tired of my constant complaining that Cirend was too effective in combat as a 'trip monkey'), so he created a new character, Sameer, as a replacement to travel with the Company. In the weeks between the recent June and July sessions, Cal chose to bring Cirend back for in-game story reasons, which was totally cool with me. This was surprise #1 of the game, as none of the players knew that Cirend was returning, and of the current group, the only character left who knew Cirend was Jeremi the Ætonist Priest, played by my friend Brian.]
Return of an Old Friend, Part II
While the spoke, the Company noticed that somehow a little black cat had entered the room, even though they thought the door was closed, and looked at them in a manner that suggested she wanted them to follow her, and she moved toward the door. Shao, the mysterious monk from the East, attempted to speak to the cat with an ability to speak to any living creature that he had learned from his masters in the monastery where he was trained. Oddly, the cat did not seem to notice that Shao was trying to talk to her.
The Company followed the cat out of the room back downstairs to the main room of the inn and discovered yet another surprised - their long-lost comrade, Sebastian, had returned! Sebastian, a well-dressed scoundrel raised in the Ætonist church but with a mysterious, and dark, background had once been a member of the Company but had left to pursue his own personal goals. Those goals accomplished, and with news to share, he sought out and returned to the Company here in Esoría.
[This was surprise #2 for the game, as my wife Jody decided to return to playing in this very same session - and I didn't tell her that Cal was also planning on bring Cirend back in the very same game and I also didn't tell Cal about Jody, so each character probably got a little less time in the spotlight than they may otherwise have. Jody retired her character, Sebastian, shortly after our daughter was born four years ago because it was too difficult to try to play while attending to our daughter, and one of us needed to quit the game temporarily. Since I'm actually running the game, my wife took a hit for Team Thomas and bowed out to watch our daughter on game days, but always with the thought of returning. She announced to me that she was returning to the group about three days before game day, which was interested for me as I tried to figure out the logistics of both her and Cal's characters returning to the group. Jody's character, Sebastian, is interesting - it's a half-elf Rogue/Fighter/Shadow-Dancer who is a female who cross-dresses as a male at the bequest of her father who has told her to remain in hiding so that "they" can't find her. Whoever the mysterious "they" is has been somewhat vague, but probably refers to the Black School, a cadre of evil sorcerers in Esoría who somehow corrupted Sebastian's mother. Interestingly, although both Jeremi and Cirend know that Sebastian is male, the two "new" Company members, Shao and Sombra, do not, and Sebastian didn't tell them, so their characters think she's a man. Interesting times ahead.]
The 22nd - 25th of Saarh, 504 D.E. (Dorrenic Era), Arile and Marlona, Esoría
After more discussion, the Company decided (some of them reluctantly) to travel to Marlona to try to secure a meeting with the Prelate, Flín Polás, at the Temple of Hallowed Saelenna, to determine if there was a way that he could somehow be elected as the new Pontifex Rex. Along the way, they met up with a former cohort of Jeremi, Estacio, and three other followers of Jeremi who mentioned that they were part of a "splinter" group of Ætonism that was now following some of Jeremi's more tolerant views.
The 25th of Saarh - The First Day of the Summer Festivals, 504 D.E. (Dorrenic Era), Marlona, Esoría
For the meeting with Flín Polás, Estacio, Cirend and Sombra chose to represent the Company, and due to the Prelate's schedule they had to wait for him for five days. Sebastian, despite his/her upbringing in the Church, has traditionally kept a wide distance between herself and any temples. Jeremi rightly assumed that his presence, as the leader of the "movement" that murdered Cristobal Arino, could be disuptive at best or get him arrested or assassinated at worse, also chose to remain behind. Shao also did not attend the meeting, as his foreign appearance has often caused him problems since he doesn't really "blend in" while traveling through the West. For their part, the other members of the Comapny didn't seem to exactly have a plan as to how to figure out of the Prelate would be amenable to their suggestions, nor did they have a plan for how to manipulate events to place the Prelate in charge of the entire church. For his part, Flín Polás was very careful and reserved in his answers, but indicated that he would be open to trying to reform some aspects of Church policy if the Company could come up with a viable plan, but asked them not to speak of it again for fear of reprisals.
Meanwhile, Jeremi sought out the assistance of a sage to try, once again, to determine the properties of his staff that he'd carried with him since his very early adventures with the Company. Sebastian set up meetings with her network of spies, in the role as the head of the Thieves' Guild in Eglantine, the capital city of Courriseux, to determine what had happened to the evil artifacts in the possession of Cristobal Arino. Shao did some research at the famous Library of Marlona, known to be the biggest library in the West.
Later, much of the rest of the Company availed themselves of the information contained in Marlona's library, and in the course of their research learned the following:
- The number "seven" plays an important part in nearly every major world society, from the "modern" religions of Ætonism, Bhuwanism, and Holism, to ancient pre-human cultures such as the dwarves, orcs, and kobolds. Only the goblins differed in their culture, in that for them, the number "six" was more important
- A so-called "list" of seven items or ideas or heavenly bodies, etc., was found in much of the writings, depending on the cultural context - the Company began to suspect that the "list" was actually all the same items, just perceived differently depending on the culture of the society making the list
- They also discovered a list of six names: Crawler (sometimes called Shade), Depraved, Chaos, Queen, Consort, and Scorned. Cirend mentioned that he'd heard a similar list (although his list didn't have all the names) and that beside the name "Scorned" was the word "late." The Company began to suspect that this list of names corresponded to a list that Channing, the duplicitous wraith elf Ætonist priest was keeping, and that they also corresponded to the powerful evil beings that the Company had encountered in the past.
With all of this information to ruminate on, as well as figuring out a plan to help the Prelate of Marlona potentially ascend to the head of the Universal Ætonist Church, the Company chose to rest and figure out their next moves the following day.
Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water today
Listening: "Beatles and Stones" by The House of Love