Friday, February 22, 2013

Isle Imperium 1.37 to 1.38 -- Operation Wildflower

-- report begins --

Aly and Master Kenjiro, unsharded.
TO: Master Fida, Diamond Midnight Cloak Warder; and Master Terentius, Diamond Shadow Bevor Warder

Concerning the Implementation of Operation: Wildflower by the First Number of the Diamond Grey Legion

prepared by M. ALECTO of the First, mounted by the accomplished Devoted Warder

Upon arrival at the insertion point (6 hours by horseback North of Fort Huldon), the First were met by a waiting escort from the Ivory Legion, comprising 6 fragmentary shard bearers, including and led by RAL TIN TOR, son of the Ivory Legate TEL TIN TOR. These individuals rode and brought with them a total of 13 horses, likewise embedded with fragmentary shards.

The entire area en route to Fort Huldon was observed to be permeated with a fine dusting of red ash, and the horizon was similarly stained red, most notably to the South, in the direction of the nearby front. Through abilities of the White Mage, M. Alecto determined that the ashfall would increase to hazardous levels (comparable to the environmental conditions preceding the catastrophe in the region of Koros) within 2 weeks; at current levels, the environment already proved deleterious to the health of M. KHIMERE, though she did not allow this circumstance to impede her performance. M. MANTIUS also detected, in his capacity as the accomplished Bone Collector, an undead creature of enormous proportions, located an unquantified distance far to the South.

Travel to Fort Huldon proceeded within the expected time span without incident, except for 3 items of note:
  1. a wave of energy that passed over and was universally sensed by the party some 2 hours from the insertion point, but had no apparent effect. M. CATALINA elicited information from one of the escorts that this phenomenon is termed a “dark flash”, which has proven fatal to non-fragmentary animals;
  2. a region some 3 hours from the insertion point that was covered with animal bones, and stretched on for a distance measurable as 1½  to 2 hours’ travel by horseback. Information on the provenance of the region was not forthcoming;
  3. collection of tribute or “contribution” from the town of Digiena, approximately 1 hour’s ride from Fort Huldon. Two of the escort party were sent to deal with a representative of the town; this man—and later a woman who emerged from behind the town walls to go to his aid—was whipped for failing to provide the required two cartloads of food.

Fort Huldon was found to be a low edifice situated on a high promontory, with a sheer cliff facing toward the South. A low wall with a standard gate surrounds a tent city on the northern embankment, while a more formidable wall with a ponderous gate of stone operated by an unseen mechanism surrounds the formal fort itself. M. Mantius was able to determine a population of over 1,000 individuals within the formal Fort Huldon (of which 400 to 450 are estimated to be fragmentary shard bearers), and under 8,000 throughout the community, including representatives from the Sapphire and Silver Legions, respective camp followers, refugees from the countryside, servants and slaves, and of course, the members of the Ivory Legion themselves. (Please refer to the attached sketches by M. Varian, detailing the interior of Fort Huldon—including locations of probable officials at the time —the domicile assigned to the First, and a partial layout of the tent city.)

Notwithstanding necessary delays for the opening of gates and so on, the First was immediately escorted into the fort, in the first antechamber of which was found an ivory-colored Oriental dragon, bound with white chains to an enormous stone plinth. The dragon appeared to have suffered some damage around the neck and limbs from the restraints, and seemed quiescent although aware of its surroundings. Both dragon and plinth are assumed to be responsible for the restriction of shard ability use (below).

Tel Tin Tor’s arrival was heralded by much stamping of feet and banging of spears by his subordinates. He was accompanied by 2 docile young girls of Caucasian descent, approximately 14 or 15 years of age, who walked several paces behind him and were attached to his person by chains, one for each. The Ivory Legate and M. VARIAN exchanged greetings, and the First were invited to a welcome feast, after a sufficient span of time for rest and refreshment. The First were therefore escorted by Ral Tin Tor back out of the formal fort area, to the house that had been assigned to them in the tent city.

It was while waiting for the stone gates (which are closed without fail as soon as passage through them has been accomplished) to reopen that M. Catalina attempted to use an action to alleviate M. Khimere’s physical discomfort. This resulted in a flash of ivory-colored light emanating from within the fort structure, followed by tendrils of white light that appeared to be drawn from M. Catalina toward the greater light source. The action did not take effect, and Ral Tin Tor explained that such were not permitted within the vicinity of the fort. However, M. Varian was able to utilize warder communication and Spycraft within said confines, implying that support and reaction abilities remained viable.

The domicile assigned to the First was a 2-storey house which was large, clean, and well-provisioned (particularly with preserved fruit), in considerable contrast to the deficit of space, hygiene, and food characterizing the encampment outside. Members of the First discovered that a single preserved fruit represented a valuable commodity for transactions with denizens of the encampment; it may reasonably be assumed that fresh food would be even more so.

The individual assigned to watch over the number at the domicile was a man named GALTUN, who was fairly easily confused in the matter of prioritizing his responsibilities when mounts Alecto, Catalina, and SER ORLANDO split from the main group to explore the township. This concretized the impression that information dissemination among the Ivory Legion is jealously hierarchical, and thus a potential avenue of vulnerability.

The promised feast followed as scheduled, at the very inception of which Tel Tin Tor ordered M. Mantius to be seized by his guards. Potential hostilities were averted by M. Mantius offering to graciously accept the Legate’s “hospitality”. M. Mantius was then led away by Ral Tin Tor and several others. Dinner proceeded without further incident, save for Tel Tin Tor’s possible attempt to insult M. Varian by inviting M. Alecto to take the place of honor beside the former, and making overtures of an intimate nature toward her, which were endured in the interest of continued harmony. Upon return to the First’s domicile following dinner, M. Catalina found at least 1 listening device planted on M. Alecto, and M. Khimere secreted both this ornamental clasp and a pearl necklace likewise given to M. Alecto within an elemental of her summoning.

M. Mantius was taken to the apparent dungeon level of the fort, where his shard was immediately demanded of him. Upon his refusal to turn it over, he was stabbed in the back by an unidentified assailant, but quickly found himself succored by several of the other prisoners being held there, led by M. BENJAMINUS of the Diamond Red Legion. The fragment-bearing Ivory guards quickly departed, there being an apparent stalemate in that area between captives and captors. M. Mantius discerned that, including himself, there were no less than 16 inmates of the prison, including M. Benjaminus and M. ISAACUS, both of the Diamond Red; M. AVISHA, a flagbearer of the Sapphire’s 8th; and 2 mounts presumably hailing from the Emerald Legion.

In conversation with M. Benjaminus and M. Isaacus, M. Mantius learned that support and reaction abilities could indeed be activated within the confines of the fort, but were likely to result in death except with an expenditure of Ivory bright light equivalent to the initial purchase cost of the relevant ability (as learned by mounts Isaacus and Benjaminus through the death of their companion, M. Gatruda). He also learned that the front is constantly shifting, and that Fort Huldon moves with it, bringing it to its current location at the former temple of Ares within the region of Rusqius in the Imperium.

Mounts Isaacus and Mantius were then able to pool sufficient funds to enable contact with the rest of the First and convey information. This resulted almost immediately in what was termed an “incursion”, during which general panic appeared to seize the population and the First were commanded to remain in quarters; however, the disturbance did not appear to have been traced either to the First or to M. Mantius. Communication from M. Mantius and the resultant incursion were repeated the following morning; by then, however, security had apparently been increased and resulted in M. Mantius’s death, though fortunately he had prepared a contingency that alleviated this occurrence.

Thus assured of M. Mantius’s well-being and armed with information previously unknown, mounts Varian, ARCTURUS, Catalina, and Ser Orlando opened formal negotiations at breakfast on their second morning at Fort Huldon, with mounts Alecto and Khimere left behind at the domicile as both backup and implied threat. After presenting a gift of territory (provided by the First), M. Catalina, supported by M. Varian, managed to attain not only a finalized exchange rate of 75 Diamond to 1 Ivory, but an invitation for M. Catalina to attend an upcoming economic caucus as an official delegate.

Once negotiations were complete, Tel Tin Tor evinced contrastingly cordial behavior, to the extent of releasing M. Mantius—who declined to make complaint on the matter of the earlier assault on his person—and granting formal ownership of the domicile used by the First to the First. As a return gesture of good will, M. Varian informed Tel Tin Tor of the upcoming increase in ashfall, which the Legate postulated to be the second phase in the ongoing regional catastrophe, likely to be characterized by the arrival of courtiers to establish a bulwark.

Tel Tin Tor also extended the assistance of Ral Tin Tor toward the accomplishment of the First’s secondary mission, during which escort duty M. Mantius informed the latter separately regarding the ashfall, learning in the process that Ral Tin Tor has a son of his own. En route to Salermo—which fortunately proved to be outside the tribute territory claimed by the Ivory Legate—M. Mantius also discerned that the number of large undead creatures to the South had by then increased to 3.

Travel to Salermo proceeded without incident for the expected time period of 4 hours, and M. Alecto scaled the surrounding wall to assign and explain the gate fragment to community leader LUCIUS, who was physically beleaguered by a dark flash that occurred in the midst of the population’s passage through the gate, but was sustained by abilities activated by various members of the First. In an effort to further secure Ral Tin Tor’s loyalty as a potential future ally, M. Varian appointed him and his family caretakers of the First’s new domicile prior to the latter’s return to Fort Huldon, after which the First then exited the region along with the evacuees of Salermo.

-- report ends --

-- report begins --

TO: Master Kenjiro, Diamond Obsidian Couter Warder

Concerning Matters of Finance that were Discovered During the Implementation of Operation: Wildflower

prepared by M. Alecto of the First Number of the Diamond Legion, mounted by the accomplished Devoted Warder
  1. Shard actions were found to be blocked within the confines of Fort Huldon (an Ivory Legion outpost in the region of Rusqius in the Imperium), said blockage apparently enforced by the combination of an ivory-colored Oriental dragon and the large stone plinth to which it is attached (by white chains, in the first antechamber of Fort Huldon). The lung appears to have suffered damage around neck and limbs from the restraints, and seems quiescent although aware of its surroundings and possibly responsive to direct address.
  2. While in prison at Fort Huldon (Please see ‘Concerning the Implementation of Operation: Wildflower by the First Number of the Diamond Grey Legion’.), M. Mantius learned from fellow inmates M. Benjaminus and M. Isaacus (of the Diamond Red legion) that support and reaction abilities could be activated within the confines of the fort, but were likely to result in death except with an expenditure of Ivory bright light equivalent to the initial purchase cost of the relevant ability (as learned by mounts Isaacus and Benjaminus through the death of their companion, M. Gatruda).
  3. M. Mantius then discovered that the shard mounting him, the accomplished Bone Collector, is capable of transforming the remains of certain undead creatures (He theorizes that these must be bones of blue-infested undead which have been “collected” by means of a specific shard action) into currency appropriate for the region in which it is currently located. M. Mantius was then able to convert a “skelter bone” in his possession into 500 units of bright light, and a thigh bone in the possession of M. Isaacus into 10,000 bright light.
  4. Later negotiation with the Ivory Legate gave the impression that while the Ivory Legion is aware that there is a non-standard means of producing unauthorized bright light, they remain uninformed as to the specifics. To the best of our understanding, this knowledge is currently confined to M. Isaacus, M. Benjaminus, the First of the Diamond Grey, and no doubt certain members of the Bone Legion (referred to by M. Isaacus as “ossiarchs” or “boneys”.)
-- report ends --

-- report begins --

TO: Master Cinelis, Diamond Smoke Vambrace Warder

Concerning Certain Occurrences Immediately Preceding and Concurrent with the Implementation of Operation: Wildflower

prepared by M. Alecto of the First Number of the Diamond Legion, mounted by the accomplished Devoted Warder

Concerning the Grey Speaker
During the day of the First’s departure on Operation: Wildflower, M. Arcturus was directly addressed by one of the shards assigned to his keeping, though not at the time active on his person—namely the Grey Speaker. The shard expressed distaste both at M. Arcturus’s choosing to bear his current shard, Brother Sun, and at his physical action of sitting in the sunlight, citing Brother Sun’s excessive “radiance”. The Grey Speaker then proceeded to in some manner alter the nature of Brother Sun, such that the latter shard’s abilities, name, and taxonomy were all substantially changed. The shard was functionally “Brother Night”—a commander, dragoon, empath, hero, martial, and minder, visually distinguishable from Brother Sun by the black coloration of raiment—well into the succeeding evening, when M. Arcturus received a plea for help from the apparently beleaguered sentience of Brother Sun and was able, with assistance from Ser Orlando, to return the shard to its previous status. No attempt has been made to communicate with the Grey Speaker since, and M. Arcturus has been advised to avoid doing so.

Concerning the Renegade Warder
During transit from the Diamond Midnight Cloak Warder’s office to the insertion point 6 hours North of Fort Huldon, M. Mantius experienced a triggering of one of his reaction abilities, Elusion. Faced with the possibility of separation from his number in mid-transit, M. Mantius elected to decline the opportunity for activation. Upon arrival at the insertion point, he found himself in possession of the shard of the Renegade Warder, visibly damaged and still warm, presumably from contact with its last known bearer, Nessus. Aside from sharing the information and determining that the shard could not immediately be repaired, further investigation was rendered impossible due to the presence of an escort party detailed by the Ivory Legion. The shard will of course be submitted to the Diamond Smoke Vambrace Warder’s office for examination.

Concerning Warder Communications in Fort Huldon
Although certain safeguards (Please see ‘Concerning the Implementation of Operation: Wildflower by the First Number of the Diamond Grey Legion’, submitted to the Diamond Midnight Cloak and Diamond Shadow Bevor warders.) restrict the usage of most actions within Fort Huldon, warder communication was found to continue unimpeded throughout the vicinity, at least for durations not exceeding 3 minutes.

-- report ends --

Note! The portion ‘Concerning the Renegade Warder’ will also be submitted to Terry, and Aly will submit copies of everything to Kenjiro, because she thinks people are keeping him in the dark, hmph.

things Aly either doesn’t know or doesn’t think official people need to know:
  1. the bearded schmuck with ‘intuition’ and ‘break shard bond’ abilities, along with dead dragoon girl and yucky girl-boy vs. our total hero, the Paladin of the Second Hour. Scholar’s mount is killed and she tells Canar to run; schmuck shatters Scholar’s talisman; Nessus sends Canar away; Feylight Pathmage is wrecked; and the Saint of Talons joins the schmuck by killing the girl-boy.
  2. Cat meets five-year-old ALIA, who turns out to be her forgotten daughter!
  3. Diones tells Ian that he has or will have the ability to fix Canar’s shard, and that Ian should find Diones’s former mount Sharandin, “if she doesn’t hate us”.
  4. Funded by Kim, Manatee buys LYSIDA and her fourteen girls from Ral Tin Tor. Ida wants to start a ‘house’ in Peerdin.
  5. Arc’s dark night of the soul, featuring a conversation with Aly, a brilliant speech from Ser Orlando, and Brother Night’s claim that there are two of them within the shard
  6. Aly gets her da Lucius and mother AGRIPPA back, yay! and tells Da about Tisi, Baklava, and Kenjiro.
  7. MEGAERA has a boyfriend, which could be important, who knows?
  8. Arc finds his cousin JERENAIS, along with Jerenais’s wife MICA, in Salermo.
  9. Ian and GWYNETH kiss!
  10. The under-city is well under way, and Diones is itching to build something.
Aly also didn’t tell about the Grey Speaker threatening Ser Orlando’s life because Arc didn’t tell her, thus she is not as freaked as she would be.

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