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Legends of Heroes: Relics & Tombs I

The Hall of Heroes is rife with the stories of men and women who have fought and died for the Compact and beyond. The less remembered are often times the truest of heroes and when Seraph Ailith begins to dream of these battlefields and see them in her minds eye, the Light truly begins to beckon. What will she find in that place, long since forgotten by all but Vellichor...

Date

May 18, 2018, 8 p.m.

Hosted By

Astraea Ailith

GM'd By

Astraea

Participants

Preston Bliss Miles Morrighan Esoka Fortunato

Organizations

Location

Arx - Ward of the Compact - The Lair - Glory's Arcade

Largesse Level

Refined

Comments and Log


2 Redrain novice guards have been dismissed.

The journey to forests outside of Sanctum was wholly uneventful, with a few passerby having scant few tales to share and mostly mundane at that. Although the inverse could easily be stated about the circumstances that the Palace Seraph and her dear companions find themselves wandering through the woods in the first place.



Dreams of long fought battles and distant fortresses crumbling beneath waves of darkness had been the beginning. Detailed as these nightmares may have been, the events themselves were corroborated with an easy sweep of the archives, almost as if Vellichor wanted the knowledge to be found. Sometimes books fell from shelves and on occassion scripture would be ingrained in the mind's eye but the information was verified. Some of which, harkened back to the Reckoning itself. Of Paladins leading Faith militant and fighting twisted creatures from beyond the Mirror, not for victory but for the survival of the many. Even though they knew this stand would be their last, their wise leader saw this as the only way and so they prayed for strength to die with honor and laid down their lives but this was not the end. It was just the beginning of a long, terrible time of darkness but also of great heroics and legendary deeds, some of which have long since been forgotten.



As if this weren't enough, the tugging sensation drew her towards someplace, a lost fortress somewhere in the forest east of Sanctum and along the river. It was vague but it was a start.



So they assembled and when the Grandmaster of the Templars, the renowned Dames Esoka and Morrighan, and Fortunato, an author of fame who might even be described as bardic by some. It made sense that these would be the ones to pilgrimage with Ailith to this place that she knew little of and the divine purpose that flowed through them was palpable.



Alas, they'd searched for days without result, having awkward encounter after awkward encounter with Shav'arvani (that were equal parts amused and concerned by the presence of outsiders) but experiencing nothing else. Even so, the Seraph can feel it, the strange but familiar sensation is stronger here and the path /has/ to be at hand even if they could not find it just yet.



In their hour of need, seemingly from nowhere, a lone figure came to them. Dressed in dappled grey wool, dark leathers and a featureless mask, her sudden appearance might have seemed strange but the contents of the message were even stranger.



To the Seraph and the Dame Esoka a respectful sort of bow is offered and a small mahogany box is given. On her finger there is a ring with a familiar sigil on it and perhaps it begins to make more sense. "I can show you the way if you like, but you've been so close I figured I would just watch. Thirteen steps to the right and thirteen steps forward will take you where you wish to go." The voice from beneath the mask was neutral and could be described as being ordinary and forgettable.



An arm is extended in said direction and when everyone's attention is drawn to the dense copse of trees it's hard to see with the canopy of the forest blocking out most of the light. Upon closer inspection, sure enough there is a narrow opening that was hidden by an illusion crafted by nature, surely, and when they turn back to the figure, she already disappeared...

Miles tags along with the others, keeping an especial eye on the Seraph. He's armed all to point, as is typical. He walks as though perfectly comfortable in this or any seeting. He eyes the figure suspciously when she appears. He displays his supicion with his typical scowl and a full five forehead creases. He tries and tries to keep that supicious eye on the figure, but both eyes cannot keep to her overlong. Instead he too glances at the path now visible, and then when he turns back to see a thoroughly disappeared figure, he scowls. Deeply. Deeeeeep scowl. He'll try to make her reappear through the power of Grump.

Esoka has kept close to Ailith throughout this journey, a brightness in her blue eyes, and pulling purpose to each of her strong steps. She goes /toward/ something, though she knows not quite what. The appearance of the figure is met with a long look. Though not, exactly, surprise. Perhaps few things could surprise her on this errand. She eyes the ring, and nods short, snorting when the figure disappears. "Well. This is the place we've been drawn to. We shall see what we shall see."

Preston trudges through the woods to the side of the palace Seraph, the hard lines of his armoured frame softened with the wolf fur cloak that settles over his shoulders, the former creatures paws tied losely around his neck and its head coming up over his armet so that its fangs sit on the forehead of his helmet. The distinctive white and gold armour with its line of red mark Preston make it little doubt that Preston belongs to the Templars, but just in case there was any question at his hip sit two swords, one simpler blade bearing the marks of the Templars and the more ornate Banisher, its diamondplate pommel and three-ringed cross guard showing the wielder's link to the Faith. As they walk, Preston is quiet - well, as quiet as a knight in full plate - but the appearance of the masked woman and her words does cause a curious little sigh to slip from his lips "Odd." Preston adds as the being disappears "From Southport to here. You certainly do diverse work for the divine, Dame Esoka, Ailith."

One couldn't get Morrighan away from Arx quickly enough with the mentioning of an expedition, traveling to the forests outside of Sanctum - she was glad to accompany the Seraph. So was Brahm. The corvid was insistent on remaining perched on her shoulder, staying with her throughout the duration, keeping an eye on their surroundings as if he was a fierce and formidable sentinel. The Redrain Knight matches her feathered companion, garbed in her exotic leathers, armed to the teeth: rubicund at her hip, daggers in her boots, and an alaricite trident slung over her back. She keeps close to Ailith and Fortunato, her demeanor towards the pair protective, increasingly so whenever the figure comes within view. Her sea-blue gaze, the only visible aspect of her, the rest thoroughly covered by her armor, slants off in the direction indicated, and when they return, find the individual nowhere to be found. For the most part? Morrighan is quiet and on guard.

Fortunato is and remains a small man in a leather greatcoat and a feathered cap, and his staff seems as much for balance and prodding the road as it is for anything more functional. He tilts his head toward the mysterious and then vanishing figure, his smile slight and speculative as it turns toward the new path.

The long journey to Sanctum was not without its moments of prayer and light-hearted banter by the Seraph. Fervor alights her eyes, a near twinkle to the blue, as the road ahead unravels more of what was seen and sensed. With a wry grin to Esoka and Preston, she remarks, "At least this not maze-like or with tight and twisted streets of Southport. Thanks for being a good sport, Preston, as Esoka and I find the path." She pulls at the sleeves of her robes of service, the white and gold clearly marking her of the Faith, and adjusts the bunching beneath the steel gauntlets. A glance is spared over her shoulder to Morrighan and Fortunato. "You did mention once wanting to see more of the world. Of course, I hardly anticipated it would bring us to the Oathlands. There's a strangeness here, though."



That is when the figure approached and Ailith bows respectfully in return. "Blessings to you as well," she whispers while accepting the box and giving Esoka a side-eye. "Hm." She cracks open the box while heading the direction as indicated -- thirteen paces right and thirteen forward. There she stares at the strangles of this illusion, her nose twitching particularly. When she overhears a familiar sound, Ailith slyly smiles to the senior grump. "My apologies, Sir Miles, it would seem we've taken that long awaited detour to Troubleton."

Miles hmpfs in Ailith's general direction. It could be a hmpf of derision, then again it could be a hmpf of agreement. It could also be a hmpf of bemusement. Come to think of it, all of Miles's hmpfs sound kind of the same. Nevertheless, a hmpf is duly given. "Troubleton or no, what's the next steps? Go? Stay? All I know is His Majesty will have me executed if anything bad happens to you, Seraph," Mils replies, perhaps testily.

Esoka flashes Preston a curve of a smile. "The gods call us to work in mysterious ways, Sir Preston. We answer as we can." She follows the figure's directions. Step thirteen paces to the right, then another thirteen forward. Glancing back at her companions, and crooking that smile at Fortunato. The look is meant to be reassuring. Indeed, there's more a tight expectation than dread about her. To Miles, "We shall have her back tonight, good Sir. I would not anger his majesty."

Divine guidance indeed? Miles might have managed to actually grump away this individual. Who really knows? After they come to an agreement to follow such mysterious advice, each manages to squeeze between the trees and navigate the thick underbrush. It's easy to see that no one has been here for ages, the land has taken back what may have once been a hidden path. At one point the motley group of adventuring folk had to cut their way through and all the while the light seemed to grow dinner. Everyone begins to realize that as the canopy grows further away and the angle they were walking at, this was an incline. A steep one at that. Thankfully no one tumbles down, although there may have been a few close calls everyone works together. Keeping an eye on the next and watching their footing.



Eventually though the decline levels out and they don't need to push through this bit of strange forest. The light is odd, filtered through the many layers of flora and fauna and the ambient sounds normal in the wild places are muted and warped in uncomfortable ways. As the brave menagerie presses onward it becomes easier until they finally happen upon a large open glade that was bathed in light still. A stark contrast to the treeline behind them, but the most interesting thing was the ruin. It seems to be the remnants of a fortress with broken, aged statues of the Pantheon lining a stone path to what was originally a grand entrance. Some of the walls remain but this place looks as if several trebuchets had their way with it and some.

Morrighan checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 22 higher.

Fortunato checked perception + investigation at difficulty 20, rolling 59 higher.

Preston checked perception + survival at difficulty 20, rolling 3 lower.

Miles checked perception + investigation at difficulty 20, rolling 4 higher.

Ailith checked perception + investigation at difficulty 20, rolling 11 higher.

"The Gods call on us indeed, Dame Esoka, but I'd feel better with a thousand armed men with us. But that is not the way of things, I know. Still. Places like this? There is always something. Nothing sits out here in the wilds for this long, in the world but removed from civilisation, without protection. And I've yet to find such a place where the protection was fluffy and recognised goodness." Preston reaches up to his helm, fastening the cheek plates around his jaw before he drops down his visor, peering out through the slit in the rubicund. His grip tightens around his sword, ready to pull it but his attention is focused on Ailith.

Fortunato treads forward, his feet light on the ground. He stops after a few steps, lifting his hand, and then crouches. He traces shapes along the ground. "Footprints," he says. "Largely gigantic, but a few small ones mingled in. Perhaps twelve folk in all? Great and, ah, regular." He points to a gap in the statues. "There are also only twelve statues. Not thirteen. The significance of this, I cannot say."

Esoka has rolled a critical success!
Esoka checked perception + investigation at difficulty 20, rolling 15 higher.

Ailith hmpfs at Miles, but it lacks that well-seasoned and aged refinement of His Majesty's Physician. "Please." Her eyes dryly roll. "He's the least of our worries lest either one of us does something stupid to earn that loving roar from the Lord Commander. So to quote the King's Own motto," she flashes a grin to everyone gathered close, "don't be stupid." A chuckle and the Seraph inches over to squeezes through the narrow opening between the trees. As they cross through the darkened woods, the light playing tricks through the leafy layers, she passes the box over to Fortunato, but motions to Preston. "It looks familiar. Almost like the sigil of the Templars. I can't make out what the carvings are anymore, though. What do either of you think?" Her attention diverts when the clearing is discovered, the light warming upon her cheeks, and the Seraph stops short of the base of the fortress. Awe spreads quickly across her features, a prayer whispered on her lips. "Such beauty it must have been before the battle. This may be what we saw, Esoka. You think?" What Fortunato says gives has Ailith glancing back to count each statue. "It's not uncommon to find in the Orthodox that one is far removed."

"S'pose if'n we get tae this 'Troubleton'.." Morrighan eventually pipes up, gloved hands rising to make air quotations as she comes to a halt beside Ailith, gesturing forward. "An' it gets concernin', can' jus' hold hands and whisper jokes tae each other, yeh?" The dame lifts her raven skull helm just enough to give the Seraph and Fortunato a cheeky smile. "Jus' like old times." Dropping her helm back down, she settles a hand onto the pommel of her rubicund blade, considering the concealed opening and gives her shoulders a subtle shrug. Onward! The dame follows suit with the group, squeezing in past trees and shrubbery, steadily making her way up that steep incline. Brahm..is Brahm. Sitting perched, letting Morrighan do all the hard work. Why fly when you can ride? Every so often she glances up, noting the lighting of her surrounding environment, then continues on until reaching the open glade. She loosens a soft whistle at the sight of the ruins, of what remains of it and the various statues of the Pantheon. "Ngh.." comes a soft exhale, half turning about, keenly interested in the environment surrounding. "Aye, this place has been disturbed recently, there's more o' those footprints over this way, an' off there," she trails off, ticking her chin over towards the tree line. "I see camps, verra well hidden, but nae from my eyes."

Miles stops in their walk to take in the ruins, the erstwhile fortress. His eyes go to the statues, to be sure, but then to all the places that might have been, there were nots and no longers. He takes a breath and then turns to all the yammering. He barely seems to hear all the buzzing of the voices, because his eyes have gone down to the footprints. He menaces them with his bread, his magnificent beard, by jutting out his jaw.

Esoka nods her curly head to Ailith. "I think it may well be, aye." There's a grunt to Preston. It sounds a grunt of agreement. Always something in places like this. She goes to kneel by the prints Fortunato indicates. Another grunt. A grimmer one, this time. "I've seen the like of these before. In the shardhavens. This does not have the feel of one of those...I did not think." Does she doubt that now? "Something like the shards, perhaps, if not them."

Fortunato checked intellect + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 51 higher.

Preston checked intellect + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 8 higher.

Ailith checked intellect + theology at difficulty 30, rolling 29 higher.

Morrighan checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 2 lower.

Ailith checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 12 higher.

Fortunato checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 17 higher.

Preston slips his gauntlet from his right hand as Ailith passes the box, and he squints down at the sigil. An older looking ring sits on one finger, which is held up to Ailith "The sigil of Gloria. Just the one ring, Ailith. This is something else...." Preston gives the old ring a gentle kiss before he slides his gauntler back over his hand "But similar. The fortress at Eastguard - perhaps Templars from there guarded here? Or came here? The order has done much which I do not necessarily know about in the past few hundred years. Or of course the sigil of Eastguard was taken from some more ancient usage."

Miles checked intellect + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 11 higher.

Preston checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 3 lower.

Esoka checked perception + survival at difficulty 30, rolling 28 higher.

Fortunato gives the box a little time in his hands, his expression sobering. He turns a small nod toward Preston. "This is not the place for Eastguard. Was it? It was old even in the Reckoning, old when Silver gathered the swords to defend the wounded--" He trails off. He nods toward Ailith. "Yes, the Oathlands often choose to exclude the dark, so to speak."

Ailith crouches alongside Esoka, her fingertips prodding at the footprints. "Hmm. Slightly twisted from how you described them, it seems. We'll want to be cautious if we find fresher tracks." She breaks away briefly to explore their surroundings and lingers by the Knight Marshall. "That's the one?" she asks without context, giving the ring a solemn look before her eyes raise upwards to meet Preston's. "I had heard of Eastguard in the Crownlands, then there are Paladins of the East to the Mourning Isles. Was this a hidden retreat for them, in a place unexpected?" She nods to Fortunato. "Eastguard predates the Reckoning? That certainly puts some perspective to this place. What was this battle? And where are its last occupants? Much of these detail here and there," she points out the architectural features of the fortress, "honor the Queen of Endings."

Ailith laughs in response to Morrighan and murmurs to her friend, cheekily smiling. The Dame pointing out the camp has her consider the group. "Hm. If there's a camp and with these footprints . . ."

"Time and the battle have not been kind, whatever it was," Miles replies quietly. He walks and looks around, but never straying too far from Ailith's orbit. He squints and scowls at every little detail, but keeps returning to the footprints. As though in response to the Seraph, Miles says, "We should eventually see to where these lead or from whence they came."

Crouching down to better inspect the footprints, Morrighan lightly traces the pad of a gloved finger around the outline, then rests her arms atop her knees. Her head lifts briefly, gaze drifting between the rest while they discuss matters the dame has no knowledge of - but she's curious. After a moment her attention shifts back to the camps she spied earlier, narrowing her gaze. "I dunnae suspect they're probably friendly, whoever it is. If'n I can see them, they can probably see us, if'n anyone is there an' payin' attention. Goes without sayin', be alert an' cautious as we continue on."

After marveling at the architecture, or the various tattered remains of remarkably well preserved banners, the crumbling statues that easily stood thirty feet high and sifting through the guerilla camps a few observations are made. So soon on the tale end of Ailith's questions, perhaps even more questions would arrive before they all found answers. Morrighan's findings with the camp are pretty conclusive, Shav and from the look of the tribe it's possible that it could be a protectorate or a large grouping of clans working together. Their mission here seems to have been martial in purpose, the camps are littered with weapons and armors crafted by the finest Abandoned smiths. Were they not so rusted or deteriorated they may have been useful, the food is rotted as well but there's fresh blood, as if there were a struggle and injuries were had but the people themselves are gone. Fortunato, Ailith, Esoka and Miles begin sifting through the remains of what was once a great fortress. A simple, four walled keep with beautiful towers and an immense chapel, if this place was not a temple in itself.



Both the Dame Esoka and Ailith begin to feel that pulling sensation so strongly that it borders on euphoria. Here. It must be here and seemingly it was something felt by everyone present as this was the time when people drifted towards the center of the fortress. All of the interior walls had crumbled and settled into large piles of stone slag and debris so it was easy to keep eyes on one another. On the way though, Fortunato's eye catches sight of a small leatherbound tome that looks battered and white. It has a name that has worn off but the symbol of Vellichor makes it clear, that this is a white journal. It's here that Preston's eyes were shaded and caught sight of what can only be described as a spectre. The faint outline of someone walking through a wall, but there's nothing on the other side. Could it have simply been a trick of the light? No matter. They find themselves standing on a large stone circle on the floor of what may have been a ceremonial hall. From a top down view it was easy to see that it was a mural of some sorts but it was missing something in the hands of prostrate silent reflection. Something round and made of stone...

Esoka catches her breath as she feels that pull. She does not hesitate to follow it, though. She puts a sort of trust in it. Even if she may not trust whatever is at the end of where it leads her. She squints at the mural, as it comes into view, blue eyes trying to make sense of what remains of it.

Preston takes a few steps further, though pausing as his eyes catch a glimpse of....what must be some kind of illusion still. Or so he fervantly hopes, or chooses to believe. Preston gestures forward towards the mural "I suspect you have found why you were given the sigil, Ailith." he comments before, with the light drawn out snick of metal against against, he draws his longsword and, placing the point against the floor, kneels for a moment to pray. Because there is a time and a place, and this is the time and a place for praying, a little short prayer, but a prayer none the less. Perhaps about how he doesn't want to see anymore ghosts and a lack of demons swatting him across the room.

Fortunato turns a drifting, uncertain attention to Ailith and Esoka in turn before he advances. Softly, he lectures, and self-corrects. "I may be misremembering. I know Eastguard was a ruin in the war against the sylv'alfar, that the Silver Order made a stand there in honor of Silver, Lilah Shay. But that was 500 years ago, not a thousand. They stood on the ruins of Eastguard. And they held out. Long enough." In his wander, he finds the tome. "A journal. Context, perhaps?" He opens it and starts flipping through it. Hopefully, it's a language he recognizes.

Miles keeps a hand on his sword pommel as they wander around. When they all come upon the mural, he takes a moment to take what's left of it in. He nods along as Preston observes this seems the appropriate place for Ailith's Sigil. "Why give it to us and not use it herself?" he mumbles through his beard. He quirks a brow and studies the mural further.

Ailith silently follows the pull, lingering close to her sword sister Esoka. "May I never become used to this," she whispers in awe, "for it is a wonder when the Gods are at work." Her light steps lead her through the chapel and her gaze wanders, lacking any focal point. There simply is too much to behold that is until Preston speaks to draw her out of the childlike euphoria. With a grin, she steps closer to inspect the mural with her hands very gently feeling the brush strokes and studying its features, from the people to the prostrate silent reflection. Her breath exhales. "I hope you're memorizing all of this Fortunato. If these details predate what you recollect, I'd like to bring this back to the Archives for all to know." Her fingers then find the hollow point, the round spot, and she takes the stone from the box to fix it in place.

"No promises on memorizing. I did just incorrectly state Eastguard was Silver's last stand. Heh." Fortunato seems distracted, abstracted, as he finishes skimming through the journal. His attention skips from the pages to the mural, back again, forward again. "This journal belonged to Sir Paxton Nocendi. Fought beside Sir Dreysin. They were stationed here. This was a -- burial site for holy combatants. Paladins and templars and grandmasters. I don't recognize some of these orders."

Ailith says over her shoulder to Miles, "Perhaps it is because she was its guardian and to wait for who was called here. Or are you thinking the worst as usual?" Her nose bunches, a twitch like a bunny, before she ahs softly to Fortunato. "Dresyin. I heard of that name but as Lord Commander of the Eastguard. Grayson and," her brows furrow as she peers at the others, "I know I've seen it somewhere recently. What was it? Not a book. It was . . . Oh! Hall of Heroes. The Crown is going over a list of possible entries and I thought to look at those already present. He's in the Grayson Wing."

"A place like what we are building at Sanctum - good to know I am at least not original in my ideas." Preston comments as he stands, slowly straightening but not putting away Banisher "And, what goes in the archives or not should be considered, Ailith. We must consider what it is we wish the enemy to know that we know." The Templar looks around the hallowed halls with a gentle sigh "What I would not give to be able to reclaim this place, or bring its contents to our new construction. To honour those that fell."

Miles snorts, like a really serious snort. One for the books. He says snidely, "Assume the worst? Assume! Seraph," MIles says placing his hands on his hips, "if people like me didn't assume the worst and prepare for it, the worst would happen a lot more often." He juts his beard at her, "Basically assuming the worst is my job." So there.

Just after Fortunato finishes stating the contents of the deteriorated journal, the Palace Seraph slides the stone emblem into place and at first nothing happens. It's a bit underwhelming and anti-climatic and just when they might have time to have doubts, loud rumbling can be heard and the large circular mural begins to shake as it slowly dips down. The sudden drop in elevation was only a few feet but it might have signaled that it was time to step off. It slides open at a snail's pace and the smell coming from within is like brimstone and sulphur, it stinks and it burns the lungs but quickly dissipates as the sealed staircase is revealed beneath. It spirals downward, deep into the darkness with sconces on the fused stone walls beneath. The fused stone itself is amazing to behold, such an oddity must surely be intriguing. When the rumbling ceases, the thumping begins. Boom. Boom. Boom. It's a steady beat, almost like war drums but it sounds very very far away.

Ailith gets Lagoma of Light Flammas Lantern from a wave embroidered backpack.

Esoka bows her head at mention of the lost Paladins and Templars, murmuring something that sounds like a prayer, to Gloria and the Queen of Endings both. The words, save for the names of the gods, are spoken in the tongue of shavs. But the meaning is clear enough. But her eyes flash open again, wide and bright and /intense/, at the rumbling and thumping. She shudders, a hand jutting out to Ailith for support. Her off-hand. The other goes to her sword, tightening around its diamondplate hilt.

Esoka wields River's Heart.

Astraea has rolled 8 10-sided dice: 2, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 9

Miles immediately draws his sword. He /was/ just saying all that about assuming the worst, right? He scowls at what has been reveal, and then looks especially put out by the smell. "/Don't/ be stupid," he advises.

Miles wields longsword of the King's Own, right.

Astraea GM Roll checked 4(4) at difficulty 15, rolling 4 higher.

Fortunato tucks the journal into the bag at his side and tightens both hands around the great staff. "That smells like trouble. Looks like trouble." He tries a smile. "I hope it's only metaphorical trouble. I can handle metaphors."

"Preston, I meant the architecture and common knowledge. Other details obviously are mea--" Ailith's eyes squint as her hand lands on Esoka's, the pair utilizing another for balance. Her lips flatten, rubbed together, while she fights off a tightness in her throat. It's a quick second when she breathes out and snaps to attention. "Morrighan, protect Fortunato. Rest of us, they're coming." She bends to one knee to pull out a lantern, the brightness of Lagoma evident, and she hands this to Fortunato. "We may need this." And her hand goes for her sword, a look spared to Preston and a special grunt to Miles, until the Seraph is alongside Esoka to defend by her sword sister.

Ailith wields gold rings of the Faith elegant steel longsword.

While the majority of the group assesses the mural and journal within what used to be a ceremonial hall, Morrighan loiters behind, occasionally scanning the tree line despite the absence and lack of presence of any shav tribe - better safe than sorry. Every so often she sends a glance towards the rest, curiously listening to their chatter, but it's when the loud rumbling occurs that the dame makes her way back. She peers in to spy the mural shaking and sliding down, opening to reveal that staircase. The smell that rises from the opening brings her to lift an arm towards the holes in her mask, doing her best to mute the stench before it gradually dissipates. Her free hand reaches around to pull the trident from her back, gripping it tightly in hand. "Dunnae need tae tell me twice," she says, sidling along over to Fortunato, her posture guarded, on the defensive. Northern meat shield.

Morrighan wields a barbed alaricite trident.

Preston wields Banisher of Shadows.

Preston turns his head at the sound of the drums, helpfully it reduces some of the whiff of the horrid underground, but not enough "I think that sound means we should get in, before we have a great deal of company." Preston suggests. There is a small exasperated sigh "I said we should have brought a thousand men, didn't I, Seraph?" Bringing Banisher up, Preston peers into the tunnel but waits for the others to enter just in case they get swarmed from the rear.

The distant sounds of what can only be war drums remains so. It doesn't come any closer but the sounds of large footsteps swelling up the stairs might catch the attention of the faithful and adventurous. Easily recognizable is the clink of armor, and the shifting of chainmail and the scraping sounds of something metal being drug on stone. A loud clanking noise slamming into each stair as it came closer and closer until the sounds a loud roar, much like that of a lion bellows below and out of the ground surges what can only be described as abyssal creatures. Taller than a man by head and shoulders, black, oily skin, crudely shaped skulls and large pointed ears. The nose looks more like a snout with two slits for airholes and large tusk like fangs are prominent on their bottom jaws. One, two, three spring up from the ground and roar at the warriors and poor Fortunato.



"Man-filth!" Utters out the bestial looking creature in the lead. His chest adorned by prodigal armors and in his hand is a large chopping weapon, which is promptly pointed at Morrighan. Of course the largest of the three rushes the Dame unknowingly. "Tear them apart boys and bring me that one." A crooked finger points to Ailith or Preston, it's hard to tell with how close they're standing and as if that weren't enough the scuttling sound makes itself apparent as a smaller, warped little creature that is half a man's height scurries up the stair and snarls towards them as it licks it's lips. "I'm gonna chew the flesh off your bones and the master will reward us!" The other two looming warriors stomp towards Preston, Esoka and Ailith.

Fortunato loops the lantern around his elbow and firms his hands around the staff. He's in Morrighan's shadow, tense and also in a certain kind of awe. "What are they?" he asks no one in particular (perhaps he is, indeed, asking the foe). "I have some rudementary skill if it comes down to it, Morrighan. Don't risk yourself in my stead."

Preston checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 51 higher.

Esoka checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 22 higher.

Miles checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 21 higher.

Astraea GM Roll checked 4(4) at difficulty 66, rolling 46 lower.

Astraea GM Roll checked 4(4) at difficulty 37, rolling 10 lower.

Astraea GM Roll checked 4(4) at difficulty 36, rolling 15 lower.

Ailith checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 16 higher.

Astraea GM Roll checked 3(4) at difficulty 31, rolling 1 higher.

Morrighan checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 91 higher.

Fortunato checked dexterity + huge wpn at difficulty 25, rolling 1 higher.

Miles swings and slices and dices. He's not about to incur His Maj's wrath by letting anything happen to Ailith. So he slashes, slices, and dices. He manages to hit too. Take that evildoers! Miscreants!

Expecting an attack from without didn't really pan out there for Preston, turning as he hears the beast come up "Shards!" he calls, in part in answer to Fortunato as he brings up Banisher. With the creature stalking forward, he holds the blade outright and places his weight behind the pommel as he drives the blade into the beast, feeling that jagged movement as the blade passes through the different media of the mortal form, jarring as it saws against a bone. He quickly pulls the blade back and turns, waiting to see if the beast will rise from the hit, or if he can leave it to the others to dispatch as he side eyes another of the ilk "Is even a place like this not spared the descecration of the Abyss?" He spits angrily, his voice panting a little as adrenaline courses through his system.

Esoka launches herself at one of the incoming warriors. As she does, when confronted with enemies. "Not spared, Sir Preston, but we shall cleanse it tonight, by Gloria!" She tries to keep near Ailith's shoulder as she fights. Ready to come to the Seraph's defense, but also drawing some strength from her proximity.

The sound of approaching footsteps doesn't escape Morrighan's notice, and she moves to get in front of Fortunato, trident tightly grasped, the leather of her gloves creaking in protest. Her shoulders subtly roll as she gets into a guarded stance, watching. Waiting. "Dunnae need tae say it, but keep b'hind me," she warns, now hearing that clinking of armor, the dragging of metal on stone. With the loud roar ringing in her ears, she couldn't get her feet more rooted into the ground, tension creeping up her spine - and then it makes itself seen. "What th'fuck is that?" is the first thing that comes out of her mouth, gawking for a moment at the thing that comes up the stairs. "Seriously, th'fuck is it? Whatever it is, I'mma kill it."



Giving her trident a little spin, she hones in on the largest that barrels down at her, and pushing off on her foot - she charges right back. Her gaze settle on the beasts movements, watching his footwork, the movement of his hands, judging the direction of his attack, where he'll attack. The blow that comes is evaded, her body arcing away from the blade, and in that moment she lets out her own defiant roar, running in the rest of the way before leaping upward. Both hands grip the shaft of her trident, the razor sharp tines aimed for the creature's throat. It tears and rends flesh when she shoves it in, loosing a feral snarl, sinking the blades in deeper, twisting and turning - unrelenting until that head comes off.

"Oh!" Fortunato barks that slight exclamation toward Preston. "That's what they look like! Poor things, overwritten." He lets out a quiet, impressed whistle as Morrigan de-throats her target. He-- himself manages to thump his staff around her and rattle another shard's leg. Lightly.

Miles engages and manages to come out on top as another Shard bursts forth from the staircase and lunges wildly. He makes a mockery of the poor fool and seems to have control of the fight. At the same time Esoka launches herself at one of the abyssal warriors, drawing strength from the Seraph and managing to land a wicked looking blow that causes the beast to cry out in agony and step back, cradling what was it's forearm and is now a nub. It bellows back in defiance, but weaker than before. Fortunato, quick and nimble manages to slam home a blow to the kneecap that makes it hobble backwards. It's this strike that gives the Templar his opening. Preston, in his righteous fury and with prowess befitting the acting Grandmaster manages to practically gut his opponent, but the creature's hand snaps out quickly and grabs the blade. Squeezing it tight and laughing through the blood pouring from it's mouth. Still, the diamondplate slips from his grasp like a sheathe in need of oiling. Morrighan's kill is a thing of beauty and with all the athleticism and martial might she can display, the foul beast is skewered by the alaricite trident. Wet gurgling comes forth but unlike the other wounded, the light fades from it's eyes as it flails in it's death throes. Each of the would be blows are absorbed by her armor and force of will. Ailith proves she is more than just a Seraph, she is a capable warrior and when one of the Shard-men makes it's move she parries the blow and retorts with a quick slash across it's abdomen. The milky colored sac holding it's innards hangs out just a bit but there is still fight in this one.

Morrighan checked dexterity + dodge at difficulty 15, rolling 49 higher.

Miles checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 27 higher.

Ailith checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 10 higher.

Preston checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 29 higher.

Esoka checked dexterity + medium wpn at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.

Miles brings his blade up to block the oncoming blow. After all, a nick, no matter how bad, will be answered if the foe can still answer. When the expected attack comes, Miles connects and then pushes back with the intent of turning his parry into a riposte.

Esoka is pressed by her foes, but she meets them with grit and a lot of hard blows. She's the sort of fighter who just bashes at walls, if she can't find a weak point. It's worked for her so far, and she takes the same approach to the creatures she confronts here, striking at the torso of the warrior she fights once she's relieved it of its forearm. It's not pretty, but she gets the job done.

The battle was fast and furious, the Miles picked apart his opponents while giving them a piece of his mind. Ailith managed to get not one but two kills, taking down one after another with precision that might have looked a bit like Esoka's work. Which, in itself was a thing of well honed death. Dished out cold to these Abyssal interlopers. Preston pushes onward and fights a highly skilled dual wielder down the staircase, kicking the creature soundly in the chest and sending him careening down a very long fall. Morrighan does what Morrighan does best, utterly destroy and Fortunato has to wrestle with the dwarfish Shard that snaps and bites at the artist. Nothing a good beating doesn't do, the creature is sent scurrying off. "Please! No more!" It says before it is silenced by the errant blade of Sir Miles. All in all, there's seven dead and now they are at the base of the stair. Thankfully, as it all comes crumbling down. Sealing their way out. Hopefully there was another way and just as this might have been asked. They hear the booming sounds of a voice up ahead.



"How long do I have to wait! Get this door open or I'll be having salted ears tonight!" Whimpering ensues, the best kind of whimpering. From Shards. Footsteps rush off and the adventurers are left in what seems to be a long stone corridor lined with sarcophagi. Some of which are broken, others look looted through but some remain intact and untouched. Eventually though they are led out onto a precipice. Down below seem to be the last few Shards crawling around on all fours as they pry open more resting places and rummage around. Looking for something. A large stone and silver door seems to seal a burial chamber, the place that these Shard's seem interested in. The interlopers have yet to notice the arrival of the warriors it seems.

Morrighan is nothing if not determined, wrangling the trident from the gaping hole in the shard-man's throat, giving another swing to sever it completely from the rest of its body. What blows she receives she takes, and thankfully the dame has decent armor, leathers that absorb the majority of the impact - but she'll probably feel it a bit later. Once the creature is felled, she sits crouched atop its chest, the tails of her vest coat fanned out behind her, and the redhead huffs and puffs, hissing through her teeth, covered with blood. The feathers adorning her helmet rustle and sway with her movements, head ticking off in Fortunato's direction to assess his state - and finds him fine. Mostly. Quickly does she return to the Grayhope, continuing to be on the defensive even after the shard has scurried off. Sticking close, the dame ventures off with the rest down into the corridor, curiously looking to the sarcophagi whenever they come into view - but it's the voices that draw her attention, and the door that the Shards are trying to get open.

Fortunato draws his staff back toward himself. He nods toward Morrighan, his feather flapping in a kind of loose salute. But his expression is troubled. The slaying of whimpering, corrupted beings seems to give him little pleasure. He is just an artist, after all. Tightly does he follow Morrighan.

Miles is an artist too, of Grumpiness. He's a connoisseur of grumpiness. But he's not just the Grumpy One, he's also the Guardy One. And so when he sees the remainings stragglers doing their best to not notice the band of intripd warriors, he plants both feet shoulder length apart and grips his weapon ever more tightly.

Jaw set. Eyes smolder. The Seraph strides purposely ahead, her pace matching with Esoka's, maintaining a position to have her sword sister close. A grunt as she darts her gaze from Preston to Miles, motioning to take positions on either side while they descend. "Those who dare defile sacred ground will meet justice of the Gods. We will cleanse you of this place and restore the Light of Faith." Ailith raises her sword, pointing at the Shards. "Back away from the door."

Preston turns the blade in his hand, using the flat to block a strike before he pushes further down the steps, not looking back at those that fall anymore, confident in Ailith and Fortunato to slit throats and stave in skulls as appropriate. As they come down the stairs to find the shards descerating the remains of the fallen, Preston tightens his grip "For the crime of Heresy and Descration, for False Worship and for Crimes against the Faith and the Gods, in the name of Dominus Aldwin, Most Holy of the Faith, you are all judged." Preston's voice comes almost in a bark, muffled slightly by his helmet "May the Abyss have you, for the Gods surely will not."

Here they felt a mixture of things but the impression was easy enough to read. This place, was holy but the Abyss was pressing down upon it oppressively. The Shards hunted for something to get the door open and so were not expecting the arrival of heavily armored and armed foes. A look was spared between the four of them and then they scattered. One slammed into the other,"MOVE!" It bellowed as it threw the other away from it and into the door. Where it promptly exploded into blue flames and collapsed into ash. The remainder of the Shards rushed out of the burial vault. All of them hastily dove into an immense hole that was in the wall farthest from the chamber. It looked excavated and it looked like it traveled downward for a very long time. The sounds of the war drums sounded closer, as if wherever this place led was the den for a great many more of these creatures.



Only the big one stood it's ground,"The Mother of Corruption will be pleased if I take your heads...but I'm no fool. I'll be eating you real soon." Hazily, the adventurer's vision might swim as it began uttering in a dark gutteral tongue and retreating from the room. As it backed into the immense hole it collapsed and sealed the way inside what may surely be a Shard haven, running deep beneath the grounds of this place. The door however, began to glow a bright white color muted by soft blue. It was pretty and the beginnings of arcane symbols shone all around the perimeter of the door.

Fortunato retains his unease. He keeps that staff ready and poised, and he blinks, twice, long, as the big one speaks in the dark tongue. He twitches, he shivers, he focuses, then, on the glowing door, but not without muttering, "Gotta feel a little pity for the fuckers, bound as they are to corruption. Can't repent, can't shift their path, don't even have free will anymore. The same old story, again and again." He clears his throat, he raises his voice, "Perhaps we'll see what's behind the door."

Miles gives the retreating Shards the only response they are due, a hmpf. He resheathes his sword and wonders aloud, nodding towards the glowy and magicy door, "Safe to go in, you think?"

Esoka snorts to Miles. "Little here is safe." Not that this seems to make her hesitate, and she starts forth, to enter the door. Sword still well in hand. She /doesn't/ expect safety, even if they've slain a good many of the creatures here.

When Ailith strides forward with that smolder in her eye, there's an approving nod from the Redrain Knight, and though unseen, there's a little grin beneath that helm. Her attention, however, quickly shifts back to the shards, studying them with notable curiosity, unknowing what exactly they are - aside from abyssal. She absently flicks the blood and ichor from her trident, well away from those nearby. "You'll have tae tell me about these things on th'way back home," comes a murmur from Morrighan to Fortunato, free hand resting on his shoulder, a brief gesture of reassurance and comfort when that guttural tongue is spoken. "I'm rather curious tae see what's behind it, with caution, o' course."

Ailith sheathes her blade in favor for the vial of holy water in the healer's pouch attached to her belt loop. The door for now can wait. Shoulders square off when she approaches each sarcophagi to bless and cleanse away the corruption. Her chant honors that of the Queen and Lagoma, honoring the dead whose bodies rest within these walls. Her hand passes over the stone, tracing the three interlocking rings of the Pantheon, and whispers for the Light's return. "May the Light and Glory of the Gods renew this sacred ground and cast out the shadows which seek to defile and corrupt. In their names, we pray." Hair spills over her shoulders when she bows, fingers rolling over a bead to the length of prayer beads wrapped around her wrist. It is then with renewed grace and fervor, she lifts her chin and regards the door, stepping forth to examine the symbols.



"They look familiar and yet . . . not." Curious and trusting of her Gods, believing in the path they presented to Esoka and her in dreams, the Seraph removes her right gauntlet to place her bare hand upon the door and whispers of the Gods' names.

"Whatever it is, it is what they were after." Preston says, watching them scurry away. He reaches up, sliding his visor up and unfastening his cheek guards so he can feel air on his face again "And once removed, it might take some of the power from this place. And once we are done, I will send word to the Seraph of Sanctum to call up the men of his parish and put what remains here to the sword and fire. Recover what remains he can. Assuming he can find this place."

Alone as can be, with the revered dead. Ailith begins to pray and call on the Gods to cleanse this place, using her own considerable knowledge of the rites and prayers needed to do so. Preston muses on what's inside but his plan is a good one, Fortunato shows the depths of his heart in his words and pitying the poor creatures enslaved by the Abyss. Esoka's eyes are cast to and fro, but the tugging sensation and the nausea evaporate. This is the place and what they came for was behind that door, the brightly glowing door none the less which seemed to respond to the rite of cleansing, or perhaps it was the presence of all the chosen in this monumental task. Regardless it begins to slide into the wall, revealing a beautiful burial chamber within.



There is a kneeling man, surrounded by a bubble of divine light that shimmered and danced with motes of primum. His hand is on a beautiful blade thrust into the stone floor, the telltale sparkle of which was clearly diamondplate. While the man in gleaming alaricite plate seemed like he could be alive, he was not. As they entered the chamber the light began to fade. Drawn into the man whom seems to disintegrate, plate and all, the essence of which swirls around the blade and suffused it until it glows with light. All that remains in the chamber are several braziers lit in blue and white flames, a large glass sarcophagi and the sword stuck in the ground before it.

Miles nods approvingly at the scene and especially the sword. He actually offers Ailith something very, very rare for him, a smile. But even a Smiling Miles is still a man of few words.

Esoka does not smile. Her full lips, so given to those expressive flashes, is somber now. But she does reach out to clasp Ailith firm upon the shoulder, and murmurs something low to the Seraph. The prodigal knight's manner is one of reverence.

Fortunato takes a deep breath and releases it. He straps the staff to his back and draws the lantern off his elbow, holding it high. The light seems hardly necessary with the reaction to Ailith's prayer, the braziers and the sword, the sword infused by the essence of the man. The perhaps essence. His eyes shine despite his still troubled expression. He remains near Morrighan, watching Ailith.

Preston follows Esoka and Ailith, careful to try not to disturb anything - even as the knight disappears to dust "The sword is not Crusader, that much is obvious. It looks like diamondplate, crusader looks like a simple iron blade." Preston keeps Banisher in his hand as he turns to look back towards the entrance "And we will need a new exit once you have the blade. Unless we brought a great deal of mining equipment. I do not fancy resting here at all."

Mirroring Fortunato, Morrighan slings her trident onto her back, hands now going to her hips, curiously peering to the interior of the room. She observes in silence, the scene that unfolds, head ticking aside, and the dame's eyes slant aside at the Grayhope, holding a questioning look within them. Her gaze doesn't linger, however, returning to the blade and where the kneeling man was once present. A thoughtful 'hrm' is loosened from the back of her throat as she turns about, considering her surroundings. "Gettin' out would be nice, aye. Ain't keen tae loiter any longer down here than necessary. Brahm is probably losin' his feathers in a molt outside, somewhere." The corvid had been separated when the fighting took place, poor birdie. She leaves the theology to those that know and understand it, focusing more on a way to get out.

Ailith slides the gauntlet back upon her hand, pulling at the straps when the door slides open. The light within glimmers over the Seraph's eyes, which widen while she is stricken with silent reverence. Esoka's hand pulls her away from the scene, now that the man has faded from their sight, and she marvels at her sword sister, a small smile appearing. "I--I--" The words are lost, faded on her lips, even more so when Miles and his smile enters into view. This possibly and nearly more dumbfounds the woman to sputter further and grunts once in answer to him. Sure. With a bold step forward, she kneels before the glass sarcophagi, looking upon its surface for signs of whom slumbers within, and speaks to its occupant. "By the light and word of the Gods we were guided here to rid this place of corruption. I pray that peace restores and we know your name as to honor it." When she glances up to the sword itself, it glows brighter. Her eyes blink, confused in response to Preston as she answers, "Crusader is a sword onto itself. This one," she peers at it, her hand hovering over the hilt, "we need to ensure its protection if that is why we were brought here as well." Her hand securely fits over it, lifting it as she turns to seek another way out.

Ailith murmurs briefly to Morrighan and then speaks aloud to Fortunato, "Can you translate any of the sigils?"

Fortunato remarks half to Morrighan and half to Ailith, "I have heard of swords with souls. Not a route I would-- personally take, but there are those defenders who wish to defend eternally. Perhaps this is one such." He steps forward. "I don't know that I can translate anything. I am happy to take rubbings, however." He draws a piece of parchment from his voluminous bag. Verily.

There's a curious look shot Ailith's way whenever she softly speaks to the dame and Fortunato, and those murmured words draw out a soft groan - but it's one of amusement. "Swords with souls?" Morrighan echoes, head ticking back in the Grayhope's direction, lingering there a moment before looking at the blade that the Seraph now carries. "Never heard o' such a thing, but tha's mighty interesting. Did'nae know tha' kind o' thing was possible."

Miles takes a deep breath and says to Ailith, "In spite of the interuption of the baser intruders, I for one think this pilgrimage," he nods once for emphasis, "was worth it. Well done, Seraph." He then turns his head to others, "Well done to you all. A respectable job escorting, encouraging and protecting one another."

Esoka is far from the tribes of the Crownlands here, and is no scholar besides, so she does not offer to translate or scribe anything. She /does/ stand resolutely, sword in hand, in case things need bashing they're out of here.

With the support of her fellows, the people that made this moment possible, Ailith steps forward and grasps the hilt of the sword. It feels like a perfect fit, and there is warmth in it. As if someone were recently holding it, or had been holding it for centuries. Regardless, it comes free with a smooth motion and the feeling is like nothing else you've experienced as it comes free. The light of the chamber plays off of it in ways that only alaricite could compare. Fortunato's keen eyes and quick thinking piece together the mechanism that opens the chamber but instead of opening the door they'd come through (which was promptly sealed) another opened on the wall opposite that. It was a passage with the same flickering blue torch lights, the sounds of rushing water could be heard and fresh air flowed into the chamber signaling a way out and perhaps a way back in. Preston's resolute determination to come back and purge this place may become a reality if they can all make it out. With the help of Morrighan, the Dame of Farhaven, the Dame Esoka and Sir Miles, and the acting Grandmaster provide excellent escort and Fortunato might be able to gleam additional information from this white journal, those Shav'arvani were here for a purpose that seems all too clear, and while the journey back might be a mixture of sobering thoughts there too is a certain peace and comfort at knowing they had succeeded at their task, even if this was just the beginning.

"For good and for ill" Preston answers to Morrighan's statement "There are dark practices of the Abyss that can embue shields and swords with the souls of the unwilling, to fuel powers and abilities beyond the normal." Hefting Banisher, he looks around the room once more "Let us thank the Gods and consider it well done if we can make it out." Preston peers into the dark of the new tunnel, and he strides forward "Keep Ailith safe while she protects that thing. There will be no living with Gloria if we fail in her task so close to its completion."

Ailith sweetly smiles between Morrighan and Fortunato. "That pun was oak-key." Her gaze lowers to the sword in hand, her brows furrowing at the strange and warm sensation, fingers curling and uncurling around the firm hilt. There's a struggle of emotions playing at the twitch to the corner of her lips and the tilt of her head while her eyes grow distant as if looking at what isn't in this place. "I see," she whispers, her voice pitched to likely those not seen. "It is as you wish." Thus bade, she regains composure and color brightens her cheeks. "I think you are right, Esoka. I'll explain later as I think none of us wish to stay within for long." With a nose wrinkle to Preston and a playful smirk, she slips into the tunnel and says, "The sooner the Seraph knows, the better."



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