|8-1-09: Fasten up your earthly burdens, released from circles guarded tight, you have just begun
||[Aug. 7th, 2009|04:50 pm]
The Chronicle of Aldencia: Saving the Kingdom
With the fast-approaching ship no longer in the distance, Matthias asked Captain Vartain what he and his people could do to help. Besides the possible need for fighters, which was obvious, both men immediately saw the usefulness of Keleroth’s special abilities. While Matthias took cover below, guarded by Nahla and Theodor, Keleroth took up a position at the bow to cast some of his fire magic. A series of explosive fireballs later, the advancing ship was in significantly worse shape than before. An exploded barrel of pitch sent fiery, long-burning blobs everywhere, and the deck was burning, along with some crewpeople. Keleroth also whipped a jet of flame from one end of the ship to the other, causing yet more damage and chaos. Meanwhile, Dora bent her energies to calling animal help; she was rewarded by the appearance of a pod of dolphins, who were happy to help rescue anyone who might fall overboard. She too, retreated with Matthias.
After the onslaught of Keleroth’s fire, Crom’s ship retaliated with a shot from their ballista, which impacted the side of the ship and caught fire. Below, Matthias and Dora rushed to the site, and, after summoning Nahla, Theodor, and a few others for help, worked on putting out the fire by baling water over the splattered pitch. Dora asked the dolphins to help, which they did cheerfully, drenching her in the process. Above, Keleroth took out the ballista to prevent a second shot, but the ship was then close enough for the archers to engage. Both sides shot at each other, causing more chaos and the first blood on Vartain’s ship, including wounding Keleroth with a burning arrow, and then the vessels were close enough for hand-to-hand combat. Keleroth and Bendigar leapt into the fray, trading blows skillfully against multiple opponents, though both took some hits. At the same time, the keen-sighted Dora, Nahla, and the man in the crow’s nest announced that something else was on the horizon approaching fast, and after some initial confusion, it was recognized as a ship flying the banner of Red Wolf. At this, Matthias made his way to the deck to try to manage the situation before the ruthless Irenian forces arrived, knowing they would summarily execute every man of Crom’s.
As Matthias and Nahla emerged into the fight, they too were set upon, and while Bendigar and Keleroth may have intended to assist, Keleroth took a terrible blow to the area of his eyes and was blinded; Bendigar attempted to protect him and get him out of the fight. However, it was obvious that Vartain’s men were winning, so he and Matthias began calling for surrender – it was Matthias’s words that were heard and many of Crom’s men dropped their weapons for him. Moments later, the new ship on the scene arrived and a bright flash temporarily blinded everyone not already blind or not on deck. A man emerged, one Nahla recognized as Red Wolf’s right-hand man, who ordered a surrender of all forces. Matthias quickly made his way over, and an argument began regarding what would be done with the score or so of prisoners.
Matthias argued for sparing their lives, but the man seemed unwilling to budge, finally admitting that his orders were to let none live as they had very nearly discovered Stone Cove. However, the man was willing to listen to Matthias given the behavior of his people on their previous journey to Irenia. A compromise, then, was reached: Matthias would send his men with the prisoners to take them back to Romdas – thus, no life was lost and no one would be able to report to Crom on their location. Trevor Vartain agreed to ferry the prisoners and Matthias’s men back to Aldencia at the cost of looting and maintaining the somewhat blackened ship. The man, understanding from Rumor that Matthias and his group were on their way to speak with him, offered them passage on his own ship, which Matthias accepted. Meanwhile, Dora busied herself with the many wounded, including Keleroth and Bendigar.
Now aboard Red Wolf’s ship, or, at least, a ship flying her colors, Matthias and the others waited in a space next to the captain’s quarters for the Irenians to unload their supplies from Vartain and stow them onboard before returning to Stone Cove. The man, finally introducing himself as Jakal he called all of the Aldencian rebels into his stateroom, asked them several questions about their presence, what they sought of Rumor, and the situation in Aldencia. Matthias answered a few of these, but left the rest somewhat vague as he did not want to give away the personal nature of their inquiries to anyone. Jakal explained a bit of the current events in Irenia and Red Wolf’s readiness to attack Crom, but left the discussion with the understanding that they would converse more after Matthais had seen Rumor. With that, the rest of the voyage to Stone Cove was uneventful.
Upon arriving in the hidden town that was still Red Wolf’s base, the party was escorted by Jakal’s own men to a private house where Rumor waited. There, the group began to ask the many questions they had for the man who seemed to know everything. What they learned was somewhat expected, somewhat astonishing. Rumor admitted openly to being the secret one, counterpoint to Dahlia. He also had detailed knowledge of all that had already transpired, including the state of Elara and their goals to rescue her. Rumor confirmed that the only way to revive her was to acquire the small sphere that Dahlia held. He also explained the ring Matthias had received from Mother Wood – it carried the final spell of the priestess and would cast the same condition upon whomever donned it, thus offering a method of removing Dahlia from the world without recourse. Also, Rumor explained that the spell, both the one used by Dahlia on Elara and the one held in the ring, was shaped by the will of the weilder – the condition of that person’s mind and intentions would determine what the soul so banished would experience; thus, Elara was suffering under Dahlia’s imprisonment, and it was Matthias who would determine the fate of Dahlia if and when the moment came.
Asked about Crom and the Ojaluche, Rumor explained that Crom, a dangerous blood-mage, was a threat to Dahlia’s plans, and as such, she intended to have him eliminated, which she could not do herself, but Matthias’s group could. The Ojaluche was designed to shatter at the appropriate moment, though it would likely attempt to shatter itself somewhat sooner than intended once it was within range, and would neutralize all of Crom’s powers long enough for him to be killed. Rumor believed that Crom had to be removed as quickly as possible, and this was his price for Matthias’s remaining query – the identity and location of Andrew Wellin. The secret one refused to answer any questions around that information until Matthias and his people had assisted Red Wolf in destroying Crom. Rumor finally surprised the whole party by saying that, when asked by Red Wolf for Matthias’s true identity, he would lie. He explained that he, like Dahlia, had his own immortal goals, and he needed Matthias for them, though he would not disclose them.
The conversation ended, Jakal’s men arrived to escort Matthias’s group to an inn where their belongings and horses had been brought. While Dora and Theodor, as well as Nahla and Bendigar, reacted with a variety of anger and confusion and determination to all they had heard, Keleroth and Matthias spoke long about Rumor’s true intentions. Neither considered him to be a “good guy,” but as he was the one player in the game not out to end the world or kill countless people, he was a cautious ally. Matthias and Nahla both began practicing the arts of sleight-of-hand and other such tricks, ironically one of Elara’s little-used skills; they both needed to be ready to steal Elara’s soul back and slip the ring onto Dahlia’s finger when that one opportunity finally arrived.