17-19 Gozran, 44 NC
Sanorin rushes to the window and sees Vlad broken and unconscious on the ground below. There’s no sign of Gideon Nell. Jacob uses telekinesis and lowers Sanorin to the ground below. Syl, Matten, and Dan rush down the tower steps to join him.
Kagdir reaches out for the Ring of Spirit at Tyr’s bedside, but Ralben tells him to stop. Mengst picks up the ring and puts it on a chain around his neck. Ralben asks him if he hears anything to which he responds, “only whispers”.
Sanorin attempts to heal Vlad, but when he comes in contact with him he starts screaming, he feels pulled into a cold darkness, and he sees a vision of Kishara staring back at him. Syl pulls Sanorin away from Vlad to recover. Dan attempts to heal Vlad and manages to stabilize him somewhat.
Shortly thereafter, Smoot arrives with reinforcements. They take Vlad inside to be tended to. They ask Smoot about Sanorin’s reaction to Vlad and he says he’s not surprised, that Vlad has a taint inside him that he’s been bottling up for years.
It isn’t long until Volkov arrives in force to secure the keep. He is emotionally reunited with Mengst. He sends the party down to the docks to find the source of the disturbance there during the battle.
Nearly the wharf, the party finds the body of Billy Bones, wearing the full mithril plate of the Order of Leopold. His body is being guarded by a very exhausted Gidget and Fawn. They say that Billy killed nearly all of Tyr’s elite guard while the two halflings guarded him as best they could. They asked after their friends, and were relieved to hear that Darrow still lived. They asked if they could come back to the keep with Billy’s body and the party agreed, created a litter, and returned to the castle.
The rest of the day was spent resting and healing. The party stood guard over Vlad’s room into the night. Cutscene:
You’ve taken the deep night death watch at Vlad’s bedside. It’s completely dark save for a hint of moonlight coming in the window. You’ve just about succumbed to sleep when you notice what you can only describe as a bit of the darkness move across the room.
You hold completely still and try not to scream. You don’t feel a new presence in the room at all, but it’s definitely there. As it approaches Vlad’s side, your eyes adjust and the shape resolves into a slender female halfling wearing completely black clothes and an almost absurdly large hat. She reaches out and takes Vlad’s hand. He takes a deep, choking breath and opens his eyes.
“Oh hey…where the fuck have you been?”
“Away. Making sure Whisper couldn’t come back.”
They’re quiet for a time before Vlad speaks again. You’re afraid to breathe.
“She’s still in my dreams. The fucking blonde big-tittied bitch. Will she take my soul when I die? Am I doomed to be hers?”
The halfling kisses his hand before replying.
“No. I’ll protect you.”
Vlad looks at her quite severely for a moment, then chuckles, which turns into a wracking cough.
“I’ll hold you to that.”
There’s a few more moments of silence.
“I am the fire in the night,” he begins. The halfling joins him. “I am the shield on the wall and none will pass on my watch. None will harm my ward….”
Vlad gasps then, and looks up at the ceiling. “Lo there…do I see my father, and my mother, and my sister…atop the mountain in the halls of….”.
There’s a rattling sigh, and then Vladimir Korgrammson, last survivor of the Order of Leopold, and the last Warder of The Black Rose Society, is gone.
She’s still for a moment, with her forehead pressed into his hand. And then she looks at you. The moonlight catches her face. She’s young, much too young for her eyes, which are wet with tears, but utterly cold. You feel like the mouse trapped in the gaze of a cat that can’t decide if it wants to kill. Then she moves without a noise back into the shadow and is gone.
Sanorin doesn’t wake the party, and spends the rest of the night at Vlad’s side.
The next day is clean-up and mourning. Vlad is laid to Reston a floating pyre, attended by the entire command staff. They note that a large dwarf, an elf, and a halfling are out on the breakwater watching the raft burn. Volkov points this out to Sanorin.
”There were seven of them, and now only three remain. And those, the most broken and dangerous. They sacrificed much to give us a chance to end this war. To give you a chance to end this war.”
When Sanorin looks at him curiously, Volkov continues, “We’ll discuss this in more depth at the keep this evening.”
Later in the day, the party is summoned to a council in a private room in the keep. In attendance are Volkov, Smoot, Delayne Muerdetta, as well as a large dwarf seemingly made entirely out of animated sand. The party correctly identifies him as the avatar of Thane Ironfist, née Gronk, the Ringwielder of Earth. When the party arrives, Gronk holds out his hand towards Sanorin, and when it gets close enough, the sand simply falls to the floor, as if the power animating it no longer was effective. Pulling his hand back and reconstituting it, Gronk says, “Well fuck me, it’s true.”
After some discussion, it is revealed that Sanorin is distrinctly unique, he has a special power (or power source) that prevents Kishara’s power from affecting him in any way. Syl and Jacob both seemed aware of this, which is why they were guarding him so fiercely.
At this point, Matten reveals that he is an agent of Isaac Vane’s and is authorized to negotiate a truce on his behalf. He explains how Cyan Marinetti, the Ringwielder of Water, wants peace and doesn’t want the Waygate unearthed, but to do that, Aril Flambeau, Ringwielder of Fire will need to be slain. Sanorin may be uniquely positioned to be this assassin, as he is seemingly immune to her powers.
After some heated discussions about Vane not doing much to stick his neck out to help (besides not invading the North), Volkov finally level-sets the room, stating that everyone is in agreement that there’s no future if Flambeau lives, and dispatching her seems to be everyone’s clear next priority.
The party goes their separate ways for the next day, resting, re-arming, etc.. Midway through the next day, they encounter a very distraught and disturbed Ralben, who seems angry and disoriented. He’s dragging a young BRS soldier with him, muttering about how everything’s all wrong and that “This is David Silvan!” As if the party had any idea why that was significant. Finally he points at the group and says “You’ve changed something…all of you…reality swirling about like a stone in a pond…” then he focuses on Sanorin, “Oh and definitely you,” he continues, “just like the others…. Peruppi, Banagher….” Then he storms off looking for Volkov.
The party follows, curious and bemused, until Ralben finds Volkov and Smoot in the meeting room, both are looking extremely pale and distraught. Volkov is holding a message.
”That woman stole something from me!” Ralben begins. Then looks around. “Where’s young Mengst?”
Volkov, without looking up, says “he’s not here. We think he left with Muerdetta.”
”Why in the world would he do such a…” and then Ralben stops, obviously remembering the looks that Mengsta nd Delayne were exchanging, and trails off with a disgusted grunt.
”Well,” he continues, “you can certinaly go after them… What’s the matter with you two?”
Volkov looks up and gives Matten a meaningful look. “We’ve just received word from Everwatch. The Society has been routed. Captain Tennyson is dead. Isaac Vane has invaded the North.”
Normally, I would say that a fall from sixth floor would kill most people. Still, I would prefer to get a confirmation, that is, I would very much like to see the bodies before I wrote them off. With Mengst here, though, going outside to check on the imposter and Vlad would either mean leaving him here or bringing him with us outside. Neither option seemed wise.
By the window, Jacob (not Mengst) and Sanorin were talking, and suddenly, Sanorin jumped out of the window. When we rushed over to the window, he proved to be just fine, though, already headed towards Vlad. Who was the only other person there; the imposter was gone.
Some of the others rush down the stairs to join Sanorin, or to check on Vlad, or something. A couple of us remained upstairs, though, we did not leave Mengst and the ring completely alone. Then Mengst picked up the ring. Had this been a story, this would have been the moment when things really went to hell, I suppose. But nothing unusual happened, he just put the ring on a chain he wore around his neck.
A short while later, Smoot and a bunch of troops arrived. Somehow, Vlad was still alive, so they brought him inside, though it was clear that whatever Sanorin and Dan (yes, the crazy elf) had done was only temporary, and only delayed his death.
Then Volkov arrived. I kept waiting for another disaster, but things went smoothly. Then Volkov sent us off to check out the docks; someone had been wrecking chaos, as in helping us, there for a while, but then had gone quiet, and he wanted to know if whoever was behind it was still alive.
The siege was over, and we met no resistance on the way to the docks. And there, we found what we had pretty much expected; Billy Bones, in a full plate armour. One belonging to the Order of Leopold. He was dead, but he had clearly taken out a large number of Tyr’s elite guards before he passed. I suspect things might have gone differently, had he chosen to remain loyal to the Tyr, rather than joining our side when he heard of Mengst.
Guarding his body were the two halflings we had met before. It felt good to be able to tell them that at least two of their little group; Darrow and Kev, Darrow’s squire, were still alive. They came with us when we brought the body of Billy Bones back to the keep.
Vlad died that night. He was sent off the next day, on a burning raft. And further out, on the breakwater were three persons, watching the funeral as well. One dwarf, one elf and one halfling. People from Vlad’s past; I suspect you can guess their identities.
Later that day, we were all summoned for a meeting. Present were Volkov, Smoot, Delayne Murdetta, and a huge sand-dwarf who was introduced as Thane Ironfist, the Ringwielder of Earth. He asked Sanorin to approach him, holding out a hand, but as Sanorin came closer, the hand started crumbling away, turning into just sand falling to the floor. As soon as Sanorin moved away again, he was able to fix his hand again, and it seemed this confirmed some suspicion he, or they, had had about Sanorin.
During the meeting, we were informed that Sanorin has some weird ability or gift or something that makes him pretty much immune to Kishara’s power. Also, Starry Night left the meeting, sad, I think, more than upset, but considering what had happened to his people, I shouldn’t be surprised.
I tried to follow him, but when I got outside, he was nowhere to be seen, and my chances of finding him anywhere were slim to none, so instead I returned to the meeting.
And then Matten told everyone that he was an agent for Vane, and that he had the authority to negotiate for a peace treaty. That Cyan Marinetti wants peace, and that to get that, we will have to get rid of Aril Flambeau. And, of course, we now have the person who might be able to pull that off right here.
Let me just say that Matten’s statement caused something of an uproar. I suppose I cannot exactly blame them, if I had thought it might accomplish anything at all, I might have joined the people yelling. In the end, though, Volkov settles it by stating that Flambeau has to die, and that needs to be the next priority.
The next day, we were all more or less gathered together when a rather irate and irrational Ralben showed up. He was dragging a young soldier along with him, telling us that this was David Silvan, as if the name should mean anything to us. Then he went on about something being our fault, that we changed something, that we, I don’t know, bent reality somehow? He seemed somewhat unstable, and when he stormed off, we followed him.
He ended up in the meeting room where Volkov and Smoot were standing, looking rather distressed. Ralben started saying something about some woman stealing something from him, and then stopped himself, and started asking about Mengst. Volkov answered that Mengst had left with Muerdetta. Had the situation been different, I might have laughed at that; the two had been making puppy eyes at each other since they met.
It took Ralben a few more seconds to figure it out, but then he left it alone, instead asking what was bothering Volkov and Smoot. Volkov looked at Matten as he answered. “We’ve just received word from Everwatch. The Society has been routed. Captain Tennyson is dead. Isaac Vane has invaded the North.”