The Mistmarches

Burmovton, a northern campsite
I guess I'll use the OP until I bail on it in May

Summary
The session consisted of two parts: a visit to Burmovton, that turned into an attack-as-assistance for the besieged city; and the discovery of a camp in the north, in the area where the enemy army was spotted.

Burmovton is under siege by a force of several hundred, blocking the roads in and out, with the initial attack launched in convert with guerrillas, who’d apparently infiltrated the city posing being part of merchant caravans. The Duke, expressed in his abrupt manner, believes that his forces can hold the exterior army in check while rooting out the fighters within the city, so long as reinforcements do not continue to bolster those exterior forces.

To deal with the question of reinforcements and to address their original idea, which was to explore the northern area where the enemy army had been spotted a while back, the Reach headed off to the NW, and discovered a camp in the large, open field where the army had been seen. The camp was surrounded by a strange ringmail-like fence, about 9 feet high, and crackling with arcane energy. Horseshoe-shaped, the fence was anchored on both ends in a vertical, churning vortex that appeared to be nothing other than the Storm, albeit turned on its side. Inside the camp were two large tents and a heap of crystals, which were attached to the vortex by a line – although at first glance and from a distance no one could tell if there was motion in the line, if it was solid, or anything else of detail. The camp itself was held by a group of Gith soldiers who, when approached on foot, only mocked the Talons and watched them.

The vortex, churning with cloud-like forms and crackles of energy when viewed from the south, was a perfect, black void of nothing when viewed from the north – of that sort that beckons one to jump right into that pool. Genji nearly fell victim to his interests, but was held back by Korrigan.

The fence, after some testing, had a protective field that fried anything that touched it, even blowing up a tree that Ti’ tried to use to smash it. The team decided to fly the Reach over the fence in an attempt to get into the camp, which worked. Using magic and arms, the team took on the force of GIth inside the camp, and the fight ended up taking place on the ground and on the Reach, as several of the enemy used Misty Step to appear on board. The fight was quick and harsh, and all the enemy but one were killed. The leader, seeing the impending defeat of his forces, disappeared in a whirl of light and wind from the deck of the Reach, and did not reappear anywhere they could find.

After the defeat of the enemy, which ended with a very beat up Genji and Ti’ taking significant damage, they tossed the camp, finding the following:

  • A +1 long sword of foreign design
  • Water and strange food for the soldiers holding the camp
  • Detailed maps of the kingdom, with a location within the Narlmarches marked, and what looked like a list, in an unknown script, written down the side of the largest map – whether it’s a legend or something else, no one could tell immediately, as Genji was sitting on a stool, resting.

Meanwhile, Ti’ found a large rock and tossed it hard at the heap of crystals, smashing large chunks off them. Immediately after the impact, the line connecting the vortex to the crystal wavered – as if it were a streamer flapping in the wind – then stretched, then detached from the crystals and was drawn back into the vortex with a snap. The vortex collapsed quickly on itself, and with this the flow of air, which had been outward from the vortex up to this point, suddenly reversed, forcefully pulling everything and everyone several feet toward the collapsing portal. Most of the crystals, which had truly been just a heap, were sucked in, along with some dirt and one Gith body.

The two tents were pulled down and dragged across the camp before the collapse was complete, and everyone was knocked over and dragged some feet before, only a second or three later, it was closed and gone.

Sitting with surprised expressions among the mess the camp had become in a split second, a few of the team coughed from the dirt thrown into the air. The Reach, parked about 100 feet to the south, well outside the camp, swayed a bit as its sails stopped flapping, but aside from the surprised cries of the Oornothi crew, silence fell upon them all as they looked at each other.

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Meta Intro to moving north

Meta
I’d like to deal with a good amount of the trip north, and perhaps even what you find there, through the OP. There are story issues that I think you’d each like to explore and build and establishing, or even resolving, those here seems to work better – we’re all more thoughtful and scheming in character than in person, and having some time to consider our actions makes sense.

Here are a few things to consider regarding the trip north:

  • You estimate it’ll take about half a day to make it to the area where you saw that army
  • It might take two days to get to where the savage people and giant trees are, FYI
  • The ship has room in it for more crew, obviously, and even if you added no add’l boxes of cargo there is enough space in the boxes and crates onboard already to fill up with supples (food, water). The ship does not seem to have an immediate upward weight limit for people and stuff
  • The Lord-Mayor at Begglestar has no way of defending the city if forces from Freeton show up and demand his allegiance. He makes it clear that his is essentially an open city at this point
  • The Oornothi are still split – they want payback and to find out about their four fellows; and yet some see the airship, and wherever it goes, as the focus of the action. Tulschank is with you guys, regardless.

Questions to consider:

  • When do you leave to search the north?
  • Do you recruit more crew?
  • Are you going to try and find or otherwise contact Dendrik, the Ranger?
  • How heavy with provisions are you going make the ship?
  • Are you going to try to do any more repairs?

Answer some of those, please, here and I’ll shape up another post that describes the departure, journey and (at least initial) findings. That post will also include Player Secrets, in part dependent upon what you add here.

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"Blast Them Again!"

The four crewmen worked to adjust the angle of the mirror while the others reloaded the tube with the glowing rocks and grey liquid. They were both tedious jobs, requiring a combination of brute strength, given the size of the mechanisms, and precise detail. The gunner understood the idea that, like a bow, a small difference close up would result in a big difference at long distances. Still, this was thoroughly singular technology, and a two-part weapon like this – and on this scale! – was foreign to them all.

All of them but the woman who spoke for the one with the covered face. Very few at Freeton had encountered or even seen either of them, and those who had were wary of them both. They exuded an air of power, of danger, and of perfect focus. The change of banner had startled many – most! – and yet the baron’s case was persuasive, and the soldiers, seeming like echoes of a grand past come to remind them all of what they could and should be, had a charisma that virtually demanded respect, if not adoration.

They fired off two more shots, using up a large amount of supplies, and missed two more times. The crew chief, upon seeing the airship turn and move away, ordered his men to wave the new banner over the parapet, which caused a rousing victory cheer to ripple through the city. He’d be in the service for years and had protected Freeton against many threats. Starting as a guard he’d been promoted into the engineers, specializing in siege weapons, and his seniority and sterling record were probably what resulted in him being chosen, with his top crew, for this new, plumb assignment. He could see which way the winds were blowing: the baron had a new boss, and it seemed that the king – really, a child – was on the outs because he couldn’t hack it. This senior sergeant’s allegiance had always been to his baron, and when the wind blows, you put your back to it and move with it.

The people of Freeton needed stability, and in these times, victory and security would enable it. He’d give them a little victory.

“Well done, men! You’ve got them on the run!” he yelled, louder than necessary, but good for theater.

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Meanwhile, on board the Talons' Reach

The cold wind blew in their faces as the ship sped southward, shuddering some from the damage to its steering mechanism. Krappunpanz was trying to figure out how to do some patchwork repairs while Tulschank and Banabrawk were securing the rigging and dogging down anything that might move.

The mystery of the scouts’ defensive position provided nothing but questions – had they been routed? Betrayed? Was it all a hoax in the first place? Where was this enemy force, and how big was it? How was it equipped? What was its target? As the city came into view and the large dark green banner could be seen waving from the highest spire on the castle, it was clear that Freeton offered up its own questions.

The clearest answer came in the form of two griffon riders and four gargoyles that launched from various points on the castle and, breaking from a line, swooped and banked to come at the Reach from all angles.

The sky, aside from a few high altitude clouds, was clear. The breeze was slight, and the sun warm, despite the cold air. All eyes from the city turned upward at the coming aerial battle – never before had anyone seen such a sight, and a mixture of fear and excitement gripped the people of Freeton.

Meta
The Reach is about 100 feet off the ground as the attackers approach, rolling, turning, and diving, and are about 500 feet away when the screen cuts away.

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"Our fair city is safe!"

Baron Fengwyn Shea walked inside from the balcony after finishing his speech, accompanied by his military and civil deputies, and two new individuals, both cloaked in heavy robes. The two had arrived, as promised, at high sun, not long after the airship had departed, and the baron had spent over an hour briefing them personally on the situation in and around the city, and with the airship. The man and woman were an interesting pair: the woman did almost all the talking, and yet it was clear that the man was in charge. He spoke only sparingly, in a quiet, dry voice, making only a few comments to the woman in between her back and forth with the baron.

On the balcony the baron had addressed an assembly of Freeton’s population, using magic to amplify his voice, and had brought first troubling, then reassuring news to his people. The realm was in crisis. The king and his forces were unable to defend the realm, as evidenced by the attacks on Begglestar, Narlford, and now, apparently, Myralanna. “In all great tales, a chapter must end before the next can begin,” he’d explained, before declaring his full allegiance to “our greatest past” which would “ensure an even greater future.”

The griffon riders and their gargoyle scouts made their grand appearance and landed in his midst while finely armored and armed troops unveiled themselves from among the people. This, just as the old banner of the realm was brought down over the castle and the green banner of the silver rook was hoisted aloft.

The people didn’t quite know what to make of it all, but the troops among them looked good…looked tough, smart, and capable. They smiled and nodded at the men; were dignified around the women; and spoke kindly to the children. And the baron was popular – his family had been charged with administering Freeton and the Western Reaches for a century, and had always been fair, honest, and reliable. And so the people – most of them – set aside their concern and trusted the baron, enough to try to see the good in this. The chaos of the last month had hung heavily on everyone, and there had been open talk of the king’s seeming inability to manage affairs of the most essential nature – that is, defense of the realm and its people. The people never really had to worry about government, anyway, as things were generally taken care of for them and they were able to go about their lives, within the limits of the law, and political issues really didn’t trouble them – that was the job of their rulers. Perhaps the baron was right.

Inside the parlor adjacent to the balcony, the baron and his council stood and conversed a little about the announcement and the most pressing plans for next steps. The cloaked figures watched and listened, and the woman spoke.

“This is all well and good, and yet the ship remains a problem. We would like to retrieve it, and yet if that is not possible it must not remain in enemy hands. Finding it is essential, if your plans to seize it have failed.”

Before the baron could respond, an alert runner dashed into the room, waving his blue scarf – the signal that there was an emergency and that he must, being on duty, be allowed to pass.

“My lords! The airship returns, from the north! Its sails bear the markings of the scouts and Mistborn Rangers!”

The cloaked man pointed a gloved hand at the runner, speaking out loud for the first time to any group. In a smooth, resonant voice he directed calmly, “dispatch the griffons…bring the ship or crash it.” Silence followed his order as it became very clear as to who was actually in charge in Freeton.

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T-Minus 10, 9, 8...
preparing to liftoff for the next mission

Maybe a little more than an hour had passed from the arrival of Talons’ Reach in Freeton to preparations for its departure, on yet another critical mission. Baron Fengwyn Shea, given the credibility lent to their dire account by the presence of a Mistborn Ranger, and the sightings of smoke trails to the distant north the day before, had agreed to lend his support to a bold blocking force, which would catch the approaching enemy unaware and crush them.

Although cagey on details about what was going on elsewhere in the realm, the baron and his inner circle did share that the fighting south of Narlford was ongoing, and if anything intensifying, drawing in more forces from across the central plain and eastern reaches. The north and west of the kingdom were, by unfortunate necessity, left to defend themselves. The Talons did pick up little bits of news – maybe accurate, maybe not – in brief conversation with soldiers and others as they refreshed their waterskins and quickly ate some food, but all they came away with is a genuine concern – if not outright fear – that the kingdom has been outclassed and the worst is yet to come. A sense of waiting for the hammer to fall is palpable, manifesting itself mostly as a grim sense of determination, and among some, even a grim resignation.

The four warriors from Freeton, along with two barrels of fresh water and a crate of food, are loaded onto the ship and not long thereafter everything is ready to go. Arllylah, the spellcaster, seems to be in charge of the group, and carries with her a good map of the region, which is laid out in the navigation room two decks beneath the wheel, at the stern. Korrigan quickly explains some of the necessary details of the ship’s speed and handling – as he understands them thus far – and they plot the course that they believe will keep the ship concealed from anyone on or around the road. This will mean flying at a much lower altitude than Korrigan has done so far, and closer to tree tops, which will mean either flying more slowly in order to maintain control.

The Talons’ Reach, upon liftoff, is crewed by the Black Talons, Freeton’s four troopers, and three Oornothi, who are helping with the rigging and steering. The others, significantly airsick, disembarked and have joined a handful of local dwarves.

The Freeton troopers only bring their personal belongings, as this looks to be a short, albeit consequential, day trip. The ship casts off from its ground moorings under a partially cloudy sky, bright sun, and light breeze, turning slowly to the northwest before climbing in altitude and heading off over the rocky hills to the west of Freeton.

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The Baron's Council
At Freeton

Baron Fengwyn Shea sat and listened as his son provided introductions and a very brief summary of most recent events – that is, the arrival of the airship and the specific claims made by the Black Talons and the Ranger. Credentials, what were available, were presented, and the leader of the western portion of the realm considered them one by one, moving his eyes slowly over each paper, and seeming to consider each word spoken in its own right.

Wearing a solemn expression, he finally nodded slightly, and addressed the Talons directly.

“Bring us news of Begglestar and the north. Leave nothing out,” he says in a deep, resonant voice, pronouncing ‘news’ as “nyooz,” betraying a slight eastern accent.

The Talons provided an account of having seen the army north of the realm, of retaking of Camp Belgrey, and of the battle for Begglestar, along with how they seized the airship, and the strange nature of the commander and crew. Genji explained, in vague terms, the functioning of the communications table, and how this commander was coordinating with other enemies, currently supporting, or perhaps manipulating, the goblinoid armies attacking around Narlford.

The baron nodded along, following the natural inflection points of the narrative, but said nothing until the Talons and Ranger were finished. Then he sat quietly, looking slowly at each of his aides, sometimes arching an eyebrow, sometimes nodding slightly, once pursing his lips. The room was silent save some some faint sounds drifting in from the outside, and for a moment it started to feel uncomfortable.

“I see. This is all very unfortunate, very much a grave threat to the realm. I have been in constant communication with ”/characters/king-jotwan-ii" class=“wiki-content-link”>King Jotwan and the seat of power, and our forces are taxed nearly to the limit by these attacks. Coordination between them provides some solace, perhaps, in that we know our enemy is one, or at least seemingly orchestrated by one. And yet we know our enemies are at least a step or more ahead of us," he spoke slowly, deeply, with crisply-pronounced s’s and t’s, and a slight ‘y’ sound following most n’s. His diction was of the nobility, of the educated and urbane, and his grave expression was in keeping with the steady emotional balance common to those of his station.

“Troops have been sent to Begglestar,” he began again, “and we have been updated by our sister-city’s Lord-Mayor. The realm’s thanks are on you all for providing such essential support there. I will ensure to record this account in my dispatches to the king,” he said, nodding with a slight smile at the last comment.

“And yet we are at war still, and must make plans for our move, to perhaps seize the initiative and find our foes’ weakness. Our plans are laid; and yet with your arrival and the possibilities you bring, perhaps we ought to reconsider some of them,” he said, looking to his military commander as he did so.

“Tell us of your ideas…what can this flying wonder do, and what do you propose to do with it, in defense of the realm?” he asked, brushing aside his silvery-grey hair.

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Searching the Ship
...then, maybe some sleep...maybe

Searching the ship takes a little longer than expected, given some stoutly-locked chambers on the two lower decks. One deck below the spar, to the aft, is a chamber separated into two rooms. One of them, the forward of the two, houses a pedestal-mounted device that emanates arcane energy and small crackles of light. It’s multi-sided, about two feet in diameter, and attached to the stand by copper wires and some finely-made leather straps. Nearby is another stand – more of a console – with a glass sphere of water, inside of which is a black shard of something — wood? obsidian? — that points in a single direction, regardless of the motion of the ship. There is also a large table with a map of the region on it, and trays to hold charcoal sticks, rulers, and other navigational tools. There are also a few ledgers and large books around this table, secured on shelves.

The aft-most room on this deck houses steering gears, pulleys, and some other mechanical contraptions that might have to do with flight. It’s pretty much an open question.

The forward chamber, at the bow and in front of the crew area, is a galley, with spartan food preparation tools and a kitchen.

The hold, which is the lowest full deck, is also separated into three chambers, aft, amidships, and forward, which are about equal in size to each other.

The aft chamber houses more equipment and mechanical things, in both wood and metal. There are connections laterally up the insides of the hull, attaching in the main chamber to beams that stick out of the hull (those are the things that stuck in the ground and dug those ruts you saw).

The main chamber is the closest thing to a proper cargo hold, and holds several crates, tied down, along with the aforementioned beam apparatus. Other than that there isn’t much around.

The forward cabin, which was locked, is the most unusual and disturbing, as it apparently served as the quarters for the Illithid. The room stinks powerfully of cloves and oil, and inside it are a pair of large wardrobes, one to port and one to starboard, against the bulkheads, a table near the door, and a vat of greasy liquid way up in the forward-most edge of the room. The vat is oblong, about three feet deep and around six feet long, and has a what looks like a thick fluid in it. Chained to the port bulkhead is a dead girl, her eye sockets empty and blood drying on her face.

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Fight AND Flight

“It’s coming back! The ship’s coming back!” shouted a guard from the south wall, his voice almost drowned out by the growing din of battle. The alarm spread somewhat, but given everything else that was going on, not as many saw it until it was practically over the keep. Those that did felt a sense of dread – of final defeat looming. The ship had heralded the arrival of the barbarians, and rumors had spread of captives being brought to it, and not returning. Death and darkness rushed forward, threatening to take a bit from the walls.

A sudden blast of flame erupted from outside the walls, blasting a group of attackers, scattering and torching them. Another blast followed, perhaps 100 feet beyond that, then another. These were followed by jagged streaks of lightning streaking out of the sky…from the deck of the airship. Confusion held the attackers and defenders in its grasp for some moments as the ship circled the keep once, raining death down on the barbarians, and descending as it did, until it passed between the tops of the towers on its second pass. The battle slowed visibly as it floated over the central yard of the keep.

OOSHAH! OOSHAH!” bellowed a ragged, familiar figure, waving a stick in one hand and a great axe in the other. Completely overcome with battle fury, Ti’Un was yelling the war cry he’d heard from his grandfather Garshon would told young Ti many stories of great battles. Next to him stood the strange sorcerer, his hat pulled down, blue lightning crackling from his hands, forming a nimbus of light around him, and arcing downward on the attackers.

“Steel your backs, men! This battle has only just begun!” cried the man who’d been imprisoned here only a week or so before, standing in full view on the poop deck, his left arm wrapped around the rigging to steady himself as he waved his sword over his head.

Only those in the towers could hope to see Korrigan, steering the ship while laughing like a loon.

Cheers, yells, and screams rippled across the yard as the ship passed over the east wall and toward the merchants’ quarter, where so many of the townspeople, trapped outside the keep, were making their last stand in pockets out in the open or in clusters of barricaded home and businesses. The airship left in its wake a swath of dead attackers, whose latest assault had been broken for the moment.

Meta
Remember, you’re all 9th level now. Which does mean your HP and spells are recharged. You’ve got a town to save, after all.

The battle had just begun.

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"It's exciting and new...come aboard...we're expecting you..."
where are we going to park this thing?

The ship jerked and pitched violently as Korrigan tried to drive it, but it seemed somehow anchored at the rear. Genji gripped the port rail as Sarrick tumbled over before stopping himself on the base of the main mast. The illithid’s body rolled over, leaving trail of mucus as it slid toward the aft of the spar deck.

Korrigan fell backward, letting go his light grasp on the wheel, while Ti’ held fast on a bench starboard of the wheel. The hull creaked and strained, and from within the cabins and below decks came the sounds of crashing, caused by the rapid smashing about of whatever was inside the ship. The bow jabbed at the night sky, perhaps 20 feet higher than the stern, while turning lazily to starboard and wavering back and forth.

Korrigan, shouting a string of obscenities as pulled himself back to the wheel, tried to regain – or, more accurately, gain – control of the vessel, while Ti’ took advantage of gravity, pulling him toward the stern, to see if there was something physically holding them in place.

Finding a pair of levels and a stout cranking mechanism built onto the stern itself, Ti’ looked down to the ground and saw a claw-like anchor gripping deeply into the dirt. Thinking quickly, he pulled at the levels, which each had only two positions, and hearing a pair of loud, metallic blows from below, grabbed the two-handled crank and began turning it for all he was worth.

“Go! Go!” he shouted as he saw the anchor release from the ground and swing outward. Korrigan held fast to the wheel as the ship jolted suddenly and shot forward, up into the sky, almost tossing Ti’ overboard. Genji and Sarrick held their positions on the deck, unable to move anywhere safely given the violent motion.

The ship sailed upward, perhaps 100 feet aloft before Korrigan adjusted the wheel, causing it to swing hard to port, toward the town, much of which was on fire and under attack. This change in attitude was immediately followed by sudden dive, then another hard turn to port, leaving them now heading directly east, and away from town, about 70 feet off the ground.

“I can do this!” shouted Korrigan a few times. “Really I can!”

Ti, having steadied himself, stood in a crouch, protected with a hand on a heavy rail, and watched Korrigan for a moment as he tried to make sense of the wheel and lever, and the ship mostly sailing in a lazy turn to port, rising and falling on the wind, sometimes punctuated by sudden jerks or turns.

“The wheel controls direction, but it’s touchy,” Korrigan shouted a little too loudly over the whistle of the wind. “I think this lever has something to do with how high we go,” he yelled, pointing to the thigh-high metal shaft to his right, now set at about the middle position. “I thought it was one way or another, but it’s not!”

Ti’ watched some more and noticed that his friend was paying most of his attention to the wheel and lever, but had not seemed to notice what looked like a pedal on the deck, to the left of where the wheel was attached on its swivel.

“What does that do?” asked Ti’, hoping to coax the very excited Korrigan into noticing it.

“No idea!” replied his friend, smiling wildly as he moved a foot onto it and tested it a bit.

Meanwhile, Genji and Sarrick were carefully making their way aft, moving from rail to rope to fixed handhold, staying low to the deck in fear of another jerking turn, climb, or stomach-turning dive.

Still benefitting from his Detect Magic spell, Genji could sense the layers of magic weaved into the ship and surrounding it, holding it aloft. Throughout, he could feel a really freakin’ bizarre nature to it all, in both how the magic operated and how it acted on the ship.

Sarrick, almost to the ladders at the base of the poop deck, found himself face-to-face with the dead illithid, which had rolled to the base of the cabin under the poop, and was facing him, blank, watery eyes staring at him and flaccid face tentacles drooping. The thing, covered in a sheen of now-dirty oil, smelled of….cloves and cheap lamp oil.

By the time Genji and Sarrick pulled themselves onto the two ladders, it seemed that Korrigan, with the advice of Ti’, had gotten the ship under some degree of control, and were able to fly it reasonably straight, and reasonably level, with turns gradual and wide within their ability, as well.

From the poop deck the four teammates could see Begglestar in the distance – a mile to the northeast, they thought – much of it engulfed in flame, and the keep illuminated in what was probably a great battle for its walls.

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