Reflections of Madness Part 3

(fragments of the journal of Celieis recovered byAmellania Telothien)

Elembious 4, The Time of Claims, Second year after the Dragon Wars

I found it! In a rotting grimore I recovered from the ancient library of Numas, I uncovered the missing fragment of a ritual needed to maintain the essence of the Dragon Warlords. I pieced it together and know what I must do. The blood I consumed months ago still gives me power, but it’s waining. This ritual will bind it to my own blood, elevating me to the majesty of Ventrox! It can only work during the festival of Lughan and only because of the deeper cycles of the stars that bind our world and protect us from Atchelon. I am fortunate that I discovered this in time. It would be impossible to gather the necessary components in such a short time, but I am the Lord of Volmir. Dozens of scribes and adventures have been sent across the plane to recover these items for me. My servants do not know the nature of their bizarre and rushed task, but they will soon learn they were part of the greatest event the race of the Elves have ever known: the raising of me to godhood! I must be careful in procuring the final component. The weak hearted among my kind would never justify the sacrifice.

Elembious 16, The Time of Claims, Second year after the Dragon Wars

It is done. The ritual worked, but there was an unexpected twist. I have been trying to figure out what went wrong, to see if it can be reversed.

I had everything exactly placed according to the placement of the stars at the birth of the plane. I had the circle drawn in quicksilver and my blood. The burnt offerings, the golden idols to the gods of the seasons, everything was as it should have been. And the sacrifice was exquisite.

I had told Castien to meet me in my bedchamber to discuss our reunion for I had realized how far I had strayed from my path. I knew he would arrive, how pathetic he was. He came into the room, giving pause at the bizarre scene set before him. I smiled at him and he returned the gesture with tears forming in his eyes. As he rushed to me, collapsed to his knees and began professing how happy he was that I had asked for him. He began saying other things, but I heard them not. This pathetic worm was beneath me, unworthy of even my notice. I reached down, caressing his face with my hands as lovers may. It allowed me better grip around his eyes, and in a sudden motion I thrust my thumbs through his eyes. Castien screamed in pain and tried to back away, but I held on his the might of Ventrox’s blood. I let my rage go and Castien’s skull cracked like the an egg. As his pitiful brains spilled out, the blood dripped onto the circle and the ritual was complete.

Ventrox’s blood flared in my body almost immediately, fusing with my own and I once again felt it’s awesome power. I laughed, feeling the power of the Dragon Warlords once again. But there was something else. I felt the chill of death pulsating through my body and, while I still drew breath, I saw that I was exhaling frost even in the warm night air. I looked around the room, and when my gaze met the grand mirror in my room it shattered. Puzzled, I took looked down at my hands and saw they had become shriveled and corpse-like. I reached up to my face and felt the skin was that of a mummified body. What had happened to me? This was not the intended result, though there was a beautiful majesty in death.

And then occurred to me. Ventrox’s blood, though magnificent, was cold and dead. Perhaps that changed the ritual in some way. I expected fear to build at this revelation, but I met the epiphany with cool composure. I felt the power, maybe the source had changed but the power remained. Perhaps this would yield unexpected results. I need to monitor the progress.

Reflections of Madness Part 2

(fragments of the journal of Celieis recovered byAmellania Telothien)

Riuros 22, Month of the Cold Time, First year after the Dragon Wars

I am concerned about the direction my kingdom is heading. I was rewarded for my service in the Dragon War by being enthroned as the First Lord of Volmir and The Nine were to be my advisers. It now appears that they seek to share power. They continue to push for reunion with our degenerate cousins, a path I long abandoned due to their pitiful mutation. My edicts are constantly being questioned. Their insubordination fills me with cold rage, but I must keep my face for fear of an uprising.

As I feel my own life approaching twilight, I feel this will be a truly poor end to a great saga. I feel robbed, an unheroic end to the greatest hero the world has ever known. I slew two of the Dragon Warlords and freed the elves from captivity; in the end I’ll be remembered as the first leader of the new elven kingdom…robbed of my right to rule by politicians that never led an army.

Castien does not share my bed any longer and he avoids me whenever able. He claimed that I had changed in some terrible way and he could not bring me back. I laughed at his absurd remarks; I’m more now than I ever was. In any case I need him not, as pleasurable company is at my whim should I require. Yet I seek it not. I find that I am dreaming about swimming in a vast ocean of that dark blood I consumed on the battlefield. I am crushed when I realized how I squandered that rare gift! There’s no being with the majesty of the Warlords to hunt. I’ve begun a search of all that is arcane in order to find another source of that awesome power. Surely with it I can quell the Council.

Giamonios 11, Month of Festivals, Second Year after the Dragon Wars

My research has begun to bear some fruit. Some of my searches have uncovered books thought destroyed by Malthax, from before the Wars. There are dark secrets in these books, secrets that can be unlocked by the power of royal blood. The magic in the very ink of these books is so great that I can only read the words on feast days of the gods. I shall learn more next month during Sourey’s feast.

There is one other component, something else hidden I have uncovered. My craving for the magical blood of the Warlords is growing, and for long I have feared that I would go insane for the lack of it in the world. In one of my fevered searched, something occurred to me and I have acted on it this day. Using the powerful teleportation scrolls I have in my disposal, I left my homeland and arrived in the land of Eur. The night had fallen on this side of the plane and the land was bathed in the silver light of the full moon. I had arrived at my destination: a massive pile of blackened stones. Beneath those stones, laid the burnt and broken corpse of the Dragon Warlord Ventrox. In a frenzy, I clawed away the great stones, breaking the magical enchantments protecting the vessel of my prize. After hours, I revealed the bones of Ventrox, the great and righteous leader of the Second Dragon War. Encased within the ivory cell of Ventrox’s ribcage was the blacked, charred heart of the Warlord. The creature’s will was amazing even in death, for even though his flesh had long melted away, the Warlord’s heart remained as it did the day it stopped beating over a generation ago. I broke away the bones and seized the heart of Ventrox. Much like a steak that had been flash roasted, the heart’s outer flesh was crisp and flaking. The inside, however, held the raw and bloody pulp that, even in its chilled and putrid soup, radiated power. I ate it all, revealing in the ecstasy the decaying flesh brought. Truly, Ventrox was the most powerful of the warlords, second only to Malthax himself, and I could taste it in his long dead flesh. I can’t describe intensity of the feeling. It was greater than with Eshu, perhaps because of Ventrox’s power…or perhaps death had added its own depth to the magic.

I awoke the next day, giggling under the pale sun on a damp spring morning. The power I felt those months ago remained, and was magnified. I have no doubt that The Nine will bow to my will now.

Coalition Letter 2

General Drogue,

I am in no need of a reminder to my duty for I am reminded of it every time I look at my sword. Should you have forgotten, I’m the only living commander to have been given both that Coalition Iron Cross of Victory and the Imperial Medal of Valor and the Emperor himself gifted me with an enchanted sword that reads: “Honor. Duty. Loyalty”. I need no reminder. The Warmaster Corrin Scard does give me pause, but I have never been frightened of death. Scard will not openly engage me, choosing to instead massacre my men in droves to send a message to me. His bloodlust knows no limit and I would suspect that as you approach the capitol, he will change his target from me to you. As a man who lacks either medal I mentioned, you should consider training for an encounter with the Warmaster.

We too have faced many hardships on our front. My mages tell me that Mida Elektis of the Council of Eight is among our adversaries and she has been summoning horrors like ones you describe. We are attacked by brutal combatants as we engage highly valued military targets. The elimination of these targets allows you to have such an easy time, yet you delay in arriving at Castelon. If things were so easy, would you not have sacked the city by now?

Fear not, General Drogue, we will meet in Castelon. At the time I would enjoy discussing the terms of any court martial personally.

General Jerico Holtz

Coalition Report 5

To: Lord Commander of Defense, Operations Commander of the Western Campaign, General Jerico Holtz

From: Lord Commander of Forces, Operations Commander of the Eastern Campaign, General Abacus Drogue

Dear Sir,

It troubles me that I have to write this missive to you, but I fear you need a reminder as to our purpose here. My forces march with earnest against the Castelonians, leaving a trail of destruction in our wake, whereas your forces are striking superior targets and you are losing men fast. It is clear that your meager successes are not turning the tide of battle. Indeed, I blame my own defeats on your failure to actively engage appropriate foes.

I can only assume that you are squeamish about your duty. I have spoken to the Emperor regarding your failures. He informed me that you are allowing “non-combatants” to flee. I will tell you what I told him, there is no such thing as a non-combatant in this war. Each one of those vile creatures is a terrible threat and a valid target. You are letting them feign weakness and appeal to your mercy. Mercy has no place on the battlefield. Must I remind you, that a dragon can breathe flame moments after escaping from the egg. There are many foul horrors that can wear the face of a child or a woman, if you can even call these savages “children” or “women”. Those that can assume different shapes can often do so for months, lying in wait to strike at our back. All must be engaged, all must be slain.

I am setting up camps in order to hold the few that surrender so that they may be watched and studied. And when they reveal their true colors they will be killed. I suggest you to the same. You must begin to engage valid targets. In the past few weeks my forces have been engaging foul deamons and horrible monsters. My men report to be that a Fallenknown as a Balor has been engaging, and killing, scores of my men. Your countrymen are suffering, and yet you shy from your duty. I hear that you are afraid to face Corrin Scard, cowardice is rewarded with execution in my army. Perhaps you should offer proof of your legendary courage and challenge the Warmaster. It may save you from court martial in a few months when I am regional Governor of Castelon.

Remember that the Emperor does not accept failure.

Lord Commander Abacus Drogue

The Haunted Castle of Malvek

The party left Ilamar and journeyed across the sea to Dunridge. There, they sought out the ifreet Trade Lord Creel. Creel has a fearsome and brutal reputation, and the party went out of their way to win his favor. Creel allowed the party to travel with one of his caravans through the Mohaine Desert.

The party journeyed across the desert with the caravan arriving in the Western Kingdoms . They traveled to the kingdom of Luix and spent three days trying to gain an audience with the Dragon Dynasty Daimyo Karrakus. When they finally met with Karrakus, the daimyo explained that his wife had had recently been murdered and his young daughter Biyu had been kidnapped. The party pledged to recover Biyu in return for aid to Castelon.

While investigating the kidnapping, the party uncovered that Biyu had been taken by a single elven woman, who had appeared to be an extinct gray elf. They also learned that twenty five years previously there was an attack by cultists on Rexus when he was visiting Luix. Egg Shen believed that the upcoming feast day of Fouyr had something to do with the event, as the attack on Rexus took place near a feast day as well. Egg Shen went on to report that a 25 year cycle was likely an element of a powerful magic ritual. The party believed that whoever took Biyu needed royal blood for this horrible ritual. Wasting no time, Glod used powerful divination to uncover where Biyu was held. He revealed that the young girl was held in the haunted castle of Malvek. Quick research revealed that Malvek was a former Trade Lord of Dunridge that had established asylum in Luix after his exile in 76 AW. He built a fabulous castle on an island on the grand lake of Ashle. Malvek hosted grand parties and feasts at his eccentric home, until he suddenly vanished in 94 AW. Since that time the castle has been believed to have been haunted and was avoided by all. The party rushed from Luix to enter the castle before the feast day!

The party arrived at the lake and, with the help of villagers from a local fishing village, made their way to the island. They breeched the fortifications and entered the grim domain. The castle was in ruins and was clearly the scene of foul magic. In addition to the faded memoirs of an eccentric Trade Lord, they discovered evidence of a new master of the castle, including the foul skull of Lushael herself! The party continued through the terrible, haunted castle encountering foul undead and mad ghosts of the former occupants. They discovered that Malvek had been murdered and need to put his specter to rest. They were able to save Biyu after discovering the secret stairway in the tall tower of the castle.

The party then assaulted the final room of the castle, the private chambers of Trade Lord Malvek. There they found an undead gray elf wearing armor made of dragon bones carrying a powerful magic sword. Discussion with the creature revealed that it was Celieis the Valiant, corrupted by foul life stealing magic that enabled her to live past her death. The eldritch elf offered her support if the party gave her Biyu. Hesitating not, they attacked Celieis. The battle was difficult, but with powerful magic and divine strength they were able to overcome the former hero.

With Celieis defeated, the party returned to Luix and reunited Biyu with her father. Karrakus promised to send several fire ships to Castelon with soldiers to aid in the fighting. The party discovered that the sword Celieis had was the Sword of the Resistance, a famed weapon of legacy, and her armor had been crafted from Lushael’s bones. These powerful items, along with the skull of the Dragon Warlord may be able to buy them support in Volmir. The party decided to journey to Quan in an attempt to get ahead of General Lucas Reid who they learned was returning from Zu to Luix.

Treachery in Ilamar

The party traveled up the Drake River to the sea and headed east towards Ilamar. They arrived in the port city of Porlan where Jamirintercepted a letter from General Reid. He confessed to the party that he occasionally received such communications and together they examined the document. It claimed to know that Gregory Draves was traveling with them! Despite this fact, there were elements of the letter that did not fit with General Reid’s writing or standard Coalition documents. The party deduced that the letter was a forgery, designed to trick them into abandoning Gregory before they arrived in Ilamar. The group determined that the only people that could have known Gregory was with them were the brothers present at his escape from Harfax,Protomer Draves or Hendrix Draves, leaving the party to now believe that Protomer still lived and was active in Ilamar!

The party traveled to Ilamar with extreme caution, believing an attack could come at anytime. Shortly after they arrived in the kingdom, the party was attacked by strange quicksilver creatures who leapt from the magic mirror the party had just acquired. The beasts each wore a strange silver collar and targeted the party while attempting to capture Gregory. The heroes soundly defeated the monsters and were taken into custody by Fouryan the district magistrate. Fouryan explained that the assailants were former prisoners of Ilamar’s monster containment facilities, but had recently died in an escape attempt. As this was obviously not the case, the party began an investigation and using scrying magic, they discovered that Protomer was in league with Duke Gilbert Seko. The party explained what they had found to Archduke Barabas Creevan, who granted them permission to question the warden of the containment facility. Once at the prison, the group discovered evidence of a cover-up concerning the quicksilver attackers and after interrogating the warden, the party pieced together Protomer’s plan. Protomer Draves had contacted Duke Seko and offered him the support of the Storm Lord in a coup if he supported Protomer now. The Duke agreed and Protomer took command of a fortress outside of Porlan and was having monsters, controlled by magical collars, brought to him to protect him while he prepared to attack his brother Raulo Draves. The party returned to the Archduke, who charged them to travel to the fortress and find written proof of this conspiracy. If they succeeded, Ilamar would support Castelon in the war against the Coalition. The party left immediately.

Using teleportation magic, the party arrived at the forgotten fortress and forced their way in. Once inside, they faced terrible beasts enslaved by mind controlling magic but where able to defeat the creatures. They learned that Protomer Draves had the dragon Erlan working with him and that the dragon was doing so of his own free will! The party faced Protomer Draves, who offered Castelon the immediate support of his armies in Harfax if they gave Gregory over to him. The party refused and were able to defeat Protomer Draves, with Gregory landing the killing blow. A search of Protomer’s quarters revealed correspondence between he and Duke Seko. They then faced Erlan the Blue offering him a chance to leave the fortress with his life. Erlan immediately attacked them and the party defeated him, casting his body into the sea, claiming his horde has their own.

The party returned to Ilamar and met with the Archduke, giving him all the proof they had found. The letters between Protomer and Seko would be more than enough to charge him with high treason. The archduke revealed that Protomer and Seko, in an attempt to cover their tracks, had ordered the wardens of their prison to sacrifice their charges to Samhain. The Archduke promised to send aid immediately.

The party decided on journeying to Luix to gather support. While preparing for the journey, Jamir was approached by General Lucas Reid who inquired about the letter that they intercepted. Reid appeared concerned about someone utilizing his name without his knowledge and thanked Jamir for stopping those responsible. The meeting was cordial and the party began to prepare for the long journey. Just before they left, Gregory wrote drafted a letter declaring that he yet lived and claiming his armies as well as Protomer’s. Before this declaration was made, the party left on their ship bound for Dunridge.

His Scroll 2
He hasn’t written in his scroll for some time, where to begin, where to begin….

Many things have happened to them in the past several months. First the traveled to Solaris to seek aid from the Hierarch of the Knights of Solaris, The Coalition was of course there to prevent them and it would seem fate herself weighed heavily against them also. A foul witch of some dead vile god slew the Hierarch right before they were able to gain his favor. He almost saved the Hierarch himself, had there not been a double agent at work. In the end they slew the witch and and discovered she was helped by her mother, the high priestess of Selene, whom was the Hierarchs second! Such levels of intrigue make his poor head spin…, be he digresses. After the uncovered this and brought the Hierarch back too life they gained his favor. The Hierarch inducted young Gregory into the Knights of Solaris and told his knights that they might aid Castelon if they say fit. Truly they are not only aiding Castelon but the rest of the world! The little gods will smile upon him for his cleverness and fortitude throughout this quest. He will write again later to speak of the trip to Belstin. But for now they must depart to deal with an old rival.

Coalition Report 5

Lord Emperor Jovan Prosek:

My Lord,

I have uncovered information that is of great importance to the Empire. Gregory Draves, the seventh son of Castlian Draves the Sixth Storm Lord of Harfax, has been located! He is traveling with the diplomats from Castelon, having joined them after ambushing Protomer and Hendrix. Hendrix and Protomer were both slain during the assault and Gregory escaped with the party. This would be an incredible oppourtunity to seize a valuable bargaining chip with Raul Draves. Additionally, this would allow us to eliminate the diplomats from Castelon, something which was impossible in Harfax.

I have tracked the Castleonians to Belstin and uncovered that they are journeying to Ilamar. I have abandoned designs elsewhere on Frica so I may beat them to the city. As Gregory was publically charged as a traitor by Protomer, we should be able to secure a sizeable force from the Ilamarian army to assist us in capturing Gregory. Hopefully the party will resist and will be killed in the fight. Their deaths will only aid the Empire, for they will be unable to turn any more kingdoms against our glorious quest. However, Gregory must remain alive until we can get him to Chible. Raul will leap at the chance to eliminate a brother easily and we can gift him this in exchange for support for our cause now. I will report on the success of the operation in a few weeks.

Gen. Lucas Reid

His Scrolls

Well, it has been quite some time since he had written of his adventures. Now would seem as good a time as any. Where to begin? Well, after travelling across the seas to the nation of Harfax to acquire aid for Castallon, he and his companions became caught up in some extensive courtly intrigue. It seemed that the Stormlord of Harfax was on death’s door and the successor would be one of his 7 sons. Which one in particular? Why the last one left alive. They all swore that the survivor would promise to aid them and Castallon add each of them inquired to him and his friends for aid. They attempted to aid the oldest, Vulker, but alas, his brother Rauls guise as a drunken fool was nothing more than a veneer, and Vulker paid for not seeing through it with his life. In the end it was decided to leave Harfax. But, of course, not without stacking the deck in their own favor. They agreed to bring with them the youngest of the brothers, Gregory, and train him to be a worthy Stormlord. They would then return him after the rest of the brothers had killed each other off and aid Gregory in smiting whichever brother remained. Harfax may prove to be their greatest ally. Well, he has more to tell, but they leave within a few hours time. He will write again later. He certainly is living in interesting times…..

Coalition Repor 4

To: Supreme Chancellor Jovan Prosek

From: General Delvan Bassett, Operations Commander for the Northern Campaign

Dear Sir,

I write to update you on our situation in the war with Quinslin. I regret that war against the forces of Quinslin is not going as planned. The nature of this halt in progress is best summarized by the following three points:

Quinslin has revealed new and terrible weaponry. We had initially planned on facing their standard equipment, including old style Coalition weapons and armor and their own Platinum Drake Armor suits. We believed that these Platinum Drake (PD) suits were few in number and Quinslin’s cannon technology was twenty years behind our own. It appears that these beliefs are considerably off. Quinslin has, by my estimate, over 1000 PD suits and are actively using them against us. Indeed, there are additional designs of the Platinum Drake suits never previously seen. Additionally, Quinslin’s cannon technology is on par with our own. Both of these factors were not expected and surprise has robbed our forces of the quick victory we had hoped. Where these technologies came from is easy to guess: Harfax. Quinslin’s alliance with Harfax no doubt allowed them the resources to upgrade their technology and produce units very quickly. They must have been planning this war for the past several years showing that their treachery knows no bounds.

We are at a considerable disadvantage and one that is quite unexpected. The military doctrine of the Coalition States has allowed us to defeat any foe we have encountered. It is what our soldiers trust in to bring them home safe and what we believe will carry the day. I remind you that even the larger nations of Belstinand our new allies in Zu beg for us to share our advanced art of war with them.

Unfortunately, Quinslin was part of the Coalition States until several months ago. While they had been cut off in recent years from the updates to combat doctrine, they have decades of knowledge about how we operate. Standard maneuvers and tactics were put to work immediately, only to be brutally countered. Quinslin has known exactly what we were going to do and how to stop it. Sadly, the same cannot be said for our side. Quinslin, no doubt preparing for war, has radically altered their tactics and is unpredictable at best. This combination has made the Quinslin forces incredibly deadly.

The third point may appear to be the least of our concerns, but I feel that it is the most damaging to our cause. Our men are trained by doctrine to hate everything that’s not human and to use their skills to protect humanity. In the past, our “human” adversaries consisted of insane cultists or vile sorcerers. Education of our citizens showed the evil in these things and our men did not hesitate to stamp out these opponents when needed.

Quinslin has not conformed to this fact. While Quinslin is traitorous, they are not vile (not my person opinion, my Lord) like the other humans we’ve faced. They are men like us that normally fight against inhuman forces to protect their people. Our men are facing people just like themselves, indeed some of our troops have done tours in Quinslin and may even know some of their adversaries. This is troubling because it has weakened the resolve of our soldiers. They are confused about why we are fighting people that until very recently we our brothers. The men must be pushed to maximize their efforts. There are no reports from my field commanders of disobedience, but I fear that that may soon be upon us.

There is a silver lining in this factor, I believe that Quinslin is experiencing the same thing. This has kept causalities to a minimum.

We have superior numbers and we will succeed eventually, however these factors will impede our progress. I estimate we may have 35% casualties as a result of these factors and this conflict will drag out for months, if not years. If these factors could be eliminated, I believe that the casualty rates would drop by 12% and the conflict may be over before the new year. I propose the following strategies to overcome these obstacles:

Identify the source of these new technologies and find a way to stop further production.

Through diplomacy with Harfax and/or espionage, discover the extent of Quinslin’s new technologies.

Authorize the creation of new combat doctrines to use against Quinslin. General Holtzwould be a wise choice and perhaps he should be reassigned to the Quinslin front. Giving Quinslin an unpredictable enemy would take away a major advantage they have.

Investigate the disappearance of Lady Grace Prosek to uncover evidence implicating Quinslin. This would sufficiently villainize the enemy and the hesitation our men have been experiencing will vanish.

I await further instruction.

Your obedient servant,

General Delvan Bassett


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