GAME ONE (08/25/2012)

Last game ended the first cycle, but in a bit of backtrackiness, Mark takes us back to developing what happened over the year of downtime. Ash becomes engaged to the Baron's daughter. Signs of an early winter begin to show. We put Slate to work on fixing just about everything. He has to develop a list of priorities. It turns out his choice to fix the citizens houses first was the wise one because the early winter would have caused all sorts of problems for them. As it is, crops are being frozen out, animals are becoming harder to hunt.

And in the middle of the winter, after we let everyone know where we are sleeping, Niahlton gets a guest... a young boy has tracked him down at the house he is guesting at while he tends the sick. Seems the Finnigan farm is under siege by wolves. Niahlton can brave the elements due to his anima banner so he sets to gathering the troops and setting out. By the time the group arrives there we find that the family is in the throws of combat (or rather preparing to be wolf chow). The group fly into action, with Niahlton taking out two inside, Kex puncturing some, and it turns out there is one that is "special". He's a Primordial Wolf, the blood of the primordials in his veins, he's one nasty SOB who takes a ton of damage from the front line but begins to heal immediately. Fortunately, some of our folks are fire dragons and thus can burn him into not healing. Everyone is saved, including the boy in the family (who is one of Kex's new recruits, I believe).

This is not an isolated incident. Wolf attacks become more common as the early winter (happening a couple weeks into fall) makes them more adventurous.

Naomi goes to see the Abbot. He does not seem interested in speaking to anyone. When she decides he's being too suspicious she breaks down his door and it turns out the Abbot has been long gone! He's been undead for some time. And Yuri is nowhere around. Hmmm.

The Abbot tries to take out Naomi but she wisely retreats and gathers help. We go back to the church and he's waiting for us with help, which includes another primordial wolf, mate of the first. Jammer was at the fore and therefore gets attacked first by the wolf, who does some serious damage. He retreats but the wolf is faster. I think it was Conundrus who slams the door on the Abbot leaving us with just the wolf briefly. The Abbot directs the wolf to attack Ash, but Ash uses a charm to make the wolf miss him and hit the Abbot, pretty well. It takes a coordinated effort to take down the wolf, but when the Abbot falls--he falls right out of his body and his spirit drifts into the ground. It's kind of determined later that maybe he was kind of "possessed".

We need to find out if the non-humans of the realm are having the same kinds of problems. During our travels we face a couple of Remorhas, large ice worms, which proceed to ruin anything we attack them with because they produce large amounts of heat. Yup, heat producing ice worms. They go down but not before doling out some damage.

The first non-humans we reach are the Centaurs. They greet us and give us a place to hold up for the night. Unfortunately, this is when all hell breaks loose. During the night we are assailed by a veritable flood of ghosts. Fortunately these are things we can tangibly hit. They are headed by the ghost of the dead wizard we fought last game. We actually do pretty well on this one. Ghosts are tricked into hitting each other, some clean shots from our juggernauts take down a few, and Mark handwaves the rest because once the big guy is down the rest are academic.

The centaurs apologize for what happened and don't understand why it happened. We just shrug, not wanting to say we brought hell with us.

We head toward the next site, where the Panda People live, except we make the mistake of taking a sidetrip back to town to retool, since many of us were down weaponry. It's a mistake because that leaves the Panda People to face the worms and wolves alone for quite some time before we get there. When we arrive we do our best to help finish things and tend the injured and dead. There's no joy in bambooville.

This makes us double-time to the third site, where the mole people live. They are already having issues. It seems that they're "cursed". Niahlton goes into to diagnose and discovers its Cholera, but with a sort of poisonous undertone. He's not a good investigator but can cure disease so he brings in help in the way of Jammer to look around and they discover that there is a well with a giant frog at it's bottom. Said frog has tentacles and is identified as some sort of demon of disease. Lacking any spooky demon girls to help us with the problem, we try to lower a party down there to fight. However, the frog can appear out of shadows at will and attacks up top, cutting ropes and causing some to fall into the Cholera-riddled water. Niahlton can jump out of the hole, Slate can climb, but Conundrus falls into the water and catches Cholera before climbing up the side in Slate's handholds. He finds at the base of the well that there is some sort of hunk of metal and brings that up with him. Jammer manages to scale his way out as well, having stood on the surface of the water due to his natural anima bouyance.

The Frog gets injured but flees. Conundrus summons a black whisp of smoke from the mace to go after the frog. We don't know how well it does, but we know that the water doesn't un-poison as quickly as it should. Naomi sets upon the idea of baiting it, like we did with the honey/gem goop for that wasp a couple games back. Occult knowledge tells us it is drawn by geniune laughter. Lacking that, we can simulate it with a charm that lets someone mimic sound.. I believe it was Jammer who creates the laughter and the demon frog appears quickly. Frog legs for dinner.

The group (at least some part of it) stays a while to help tend the sick and get things back in order.

I don't recall any fights after this, but then 5 fights is a pretty good night. We are considering that this may all be caused by the mines and may have to investigate.


Welcome back to Cycle 2, game 2.

We returned home to find the town dealing with the cold, cold weather.  As we settle back into our grind, hell comes to town.  There is a small group of men, including a very old gentleman in robes, who come calling to speak with the Abbot.  Naomi is staying at the Abbey and has to tell them that the Abbot “died defending the town”, which is sort of true.  They ask about the demonic statue on the way into town, as in, “who is responsible for that?”.  They instruct us that it WILL be destroyed.

These, boys and girls, are the members of the Wyld Hunt.  Yup.  A fight against such men would be horrible for us.  And defying their edict would be the end of the town.  Ash agrees and leaves to “make preparations”.  He wants to find Moth and tell her they have to destroy it.  While they are in the process of debating this, back inside the abbey, the old man gets a special message via fae messenger.  It seems that CIVIL WAR HAS BROKEN OUT.  Two different leaders are laying claim to the throne of the Scarlet Empress.  He takes the extreme measure of opening a portal so they can get back to the capital NOW.  Going with the three men are a host of beings we didn’t not even know where present but who become visible as they pass through the gate.

Now along with that bad news comes some worse news.  The reason they were in town was because they were hunting an ANATHEMA who is likely the cause of the extreme winter.  The gods of the north decided this winter would be harsh, but what we are experiencing is beyond what they have planned.  We are left to deal with the Anathema.

The Wyld Hunt were surprisingly cordial given that as unaligned Outcastes, we are nowhere near their status.

We consider how to go about finding the Anathema.  We could assume they are in the mines, or we could figure out where they are.  Kex suggests that by method of triangulation he might figure out where the Anathema is, and while it’s a nice idea with lots of stunt dice he just misses.  So we decide to handle the problem we already know about:  The mines.

The valley is quiet around the mines, but Niahlton’s new charm tells him that there is an intelligent lifeform spying on the group as they approach the first mine entrance (there are 3 entrances).  When he gets this information to Ash, he leads us to the second entrance, down which the being had gone and actually passed THROUGH the rocks that choke the entrance about 30 feet in.  Ash uses a charm to create a 1m wide opening and this works well… too well.  Seems the rocks were holding back a tide… OF DARNESS.  We are awash in darkness.  Several succeed at not being impaired by the darkness, but a few others are sensory impaired—Niahlton getting it worst as he can not use any sense.  The group pulls back and rests I the sun until the darkness dries up before we go back.

Niahlton detects life forces in a group in one direction and the separate, distinct one in another, moving away from us.  We do our process-of-elimination mapping around the group.  We actually find what we’ve colloquially termed an “Elevator”.  Seems the ancients had some neat devices.  We use it to go up (since it only goes that way) and we find a cavern filled with phase spiders.  Seems they are extradimensional spiders that are hard to see without a special sense and that show up to bite and web us.  During the ensuing fight, Jeff’s ghost-blade power helps quite a bit, as does Moth’s ability to force them, one at a time, to phase completely into our world.

After the fight the group set to harvesting out-of-phase silk from the spiders.  it’s pointed out that the only treasure Mark gives us is invisible and extradimensional, fit for making the emperor some new clothes.  But as if to prove us wrong, we go after the “shiny” pile we saw across the room.  After Jammer performs the Catherine Zeta Jones “bend around the lazerbeams” move to avoid the phased out strands of webbing and he finds some cash, and A NEEDLE MADE OF JADE!  Niahlton could not be more pleased.  It’s a dart to which he commits 2 motes, becomes attuned to it, and when he strikes a foe that foe can no longer hide from him and they go down 3 DV against him.  Woot!  Comes in handy in later fights as I start to really connect on hits when guys are deprived of 3 DV.

As we rest outside, we are attacked by a spider.  Seems that the Abbot’s spirit has animated the corpse and come after us.  We have to smack it down, Conundrus getting poisoned in the process, but he’ll be fine.

We find another elevator shaft but the elevator is ruined.  Ladders have been put up in its place, which means we’ll have to face the next foe in succession, one at a time.  We find a serpent with the ability to turn people to stone.  Yep, a Basilisk.  Many of our team have Glowing Coal Radiance and can force it to avoid looking at them.  Niahlton can fight blind thanks to the same charm from earlier.  We cut it down, which wasn’t easy because it could soak a lot and had hardness.

We take time to skin the serpent (not as sexy as it sounds), and because we have a ways to go we’ll pick all that stuff up on the way out.  The only things taken with us are the eyes, which it turns out can be invoked as a light source for 1 scene by committing 1 essence.  Ash and Naomi take one each.

Our next move involves taking an elevator down.  As we descend, we are pursued by a cloud of darkness AND, because do not have the ability to learn from our mistakes, the serpent’s corpse with its hide wrapped around it.  What’s more, something has seized control of the elevator and is causing it to descend (at a normal pace) without us cranking it.  The basilisk would be a very serious problem during this except that Ash quickly, due to his “I get to act first in ties” charm, manages to both cover his own basilisk eye and the one Naomi was wearing as a necklace.  We’ll still have to fight it but not have to worry about the paralyzing so much.

Jeff uses the darkness power from the Nefrak inside his mace to basically neutralize the other cloud of darkness.  We attack the basilisk and Niahlton performs a disarm on the hide of the serpent by throwing one of this needles and pinning the hide to the cavern wall as the elevator is descending, ripping the makeshift cover from the beast and making him soak about 5 less lethal.

The elevator touches bottom and awaiting us are a pair of automata who wield bludgeoning fists on one hand and a flame thrower on the other.  Fire outcastes are immune to said fire.  Naomi and Conundrus try to deal with the metal foes and newly nuded basilisk gets tenderized by the rest of us.  When it’s just a bloody pulp, we concentrate on the machines with Conundrus constantly putting one on its back and making it 0 DV.  It’s a long slow process but they are trashed.

On the way back up to rest, a group of Shadow Giants begin to rain boulders down.  No surprise because Niahlton senses their presence.  This is what was happening when I had to leave. 

GAME THREE (9/22/2012)

We left off in the caverns, having survived the rock-bombing by a group of giants as we rode up the conveyer.  We’ve rested and we’re ready for more chaos.

We lower back down to the level where we had encountered the two mechanical men and find they are too complicated for us to reconstruct and that they were probably not made by men.  We have two options: A rough tunnel or a built-out and fortified passage.  Ash elects for us to take the better constructed path.  A few feet in we find that there is an unnatural darkness that not only causes the lights (including the basilisk eyes) to ebb, but also mutes sound and numbs other senses.  Niahlton can sense a life force at the edge of his sense, way out through the passage walls.  After determining that the being seems to be testing the limit of his senses (and that it moves pretty fast, despite likely being in solid rock), the creature eventually addresses us.  We can hear it clearly, despite having to shout to talk to each other.

She refers to herself as the Queen of Darkness and asks why we would come into her domain.  Ash asks why she would dare have her domain invade the earthly realm.  We all see where this is going.  She orders Naomi to fork over her basilisk eye; a feat which she declines to do by burning two will power and giving the eye to Ash, who is more resistant.  She decides to try and command all of us using her persuasive powers.  Niahlton spends a few motes to ignore her, a few spend a couple willpower, and one or two have to spend three willpower!  At this point, Slate offers to dig straight at her and Ash gives the okay.  Make it so, number one.  She gives another command and suddenly some of the folks are realizing just how much willpower this is going to cost and decide discretion is the better part of not killing their teammates and they split and return to the entrance.

This creates a split party because Slate kept digging and Conundrus was still with him, so Niahlton and Jammer remain to help with the Queen of Darkness.  The queen, seeing a split party, probably rubs her hands together in glee and remains to take on the half-party.  Meanwhile, the retreating group (Ash, Naomi, and Kex) find awaiting them at the entrance are a small group of mold-men (just like they sound) and a large, slug-like… um… slug!  It’s the Leech God!  He’s a fallen god from an earlier age, one of many overthrown by the Terrestrials, and he’s not happy.

Turns out the Queen of Darkness is sort of a Naga, with the most beautiful, flawless eyes ever.  She takes some hideous bites out of Slate, and her bite brings with it her poisonous essence.  She is unhappy, it turns out, because the basilisk was one of her children, a fact that Conundrus uses to mock her with the basilisk eye he’s wearing for extra dice.  Jammer bounds through and gets behind her while Niahlton throws from the back row.  We take her down with an effort, but we’re all okay enough that once she dissipates into nothing, we run back to where the others had gone.  (Scott had to leave so Slate does not return with us)

So meanwhile, the other three are facing Leech God and the Mold Men (I love their first album, Darkside of the Cave).  Ash goes after the leach god, who proceeds to pick him up and suck some life (and essence) from him.  Naomi keeps the mold men back by turning up her fire and running back and forth quickly, causing a wall of fire that prevents the mold men from passing.  The Leech God grabs the attacking Kex as well.  They manage to whittle the god down by the time that the Naga-fighting crew return.  Shortly thereafter, the spore mold clouds begin to subside.

We go do some more rest.  We search around and find a small cache of mined Jade, which we then proceed to laugh about how it showed up right after the jade-obsessed Slate left.  We stow as much on ourselves as we can.

Down a tunnel we find a larger chamber that features tons of runes and sigils, all of which seemingly meant to keep two Blood Apes(!) from proceeding any further.  They can come our direction but not on ahead.  Yuri shows up during this fight to help out.

Ash coordinates us into fighting them one at a time.  The delay in attack (as we all get on the same phase) allows them to attack us.  Now the problem with these blood apes is that they are not alone.  Oh, I mean there are only two attackers here, but each has in them… An insect demon (that heals them) and an armor goo-demon (that protects them).  Yup, they are little blood ape versions of Moth Blows the Tempest.  Who is suspiciously not around.

We do some pretty good damage but the healing rate of these guys is a big problem.  One of them b-slaps Conundrus across the room and he’s down (3 points into the 4 point death range).  Jammer takes a bunch of damage trying to get in the way of blows intended for Niahlton.  Niahlton eventually goes down anyway (to incapacitated).  When the blood apes are finally destroyed, the group has three people on the ground.  It’s decided that since there is now SCREAMING somewhere ahead that they will put us on litters and drag us onward.

Around the corner we find 4 captives chained to the wall.  Two are human women, two are classic Disney dwarves.  Only one conscious is a woman, whom we free and who takes a while to settle down enough to be useful and coherent.  Turns out she is from Vaals and was captured by brigands and sold into slavery—she has no idea why and does not remember the transition from being with the brigands to being with the mold men (who are their captors).  The others come back to consciousness, but the dwarves do not speak our language nor we theirs, so there’s a lot of trying to guess one another’s intent.  When Niahlton is able to begin the healing of the two women, the dwarves allow him to heal them, and then they try to get Niahlton to come with them, which to him indicates that there are others in need of healing.

They do not like light and in fact actively discourage us from using it because it makes us easy to spot by others down there.  So we have to extinguish light and rely on either our special charms for sight or simply be led by the dwarves, whom those with active senses can figure out are trying to help us avoid wandering mold men patrols.  We come to a massive chamber so big that we cannot see the other side.  ‘tis the home of the Mold Man civilization, such as it is, with moldy houses and pens full of slugs.  OOPS… Just thought of something.

(Mark—I’m going to add a point of limit break.  Letting this room exist, and its inhabitants with it, conflicts not only with my focus on extinguishing disease, and an intimacy against these torturers.  I had the extra WP to burn so I’d have made it through, but not without wanting to go hulk-smash on everything.)

Now back to our program.  The dwarves get us to the other side.  No one fails their sneak.  And eventually we meet the queen below, a lovely woman who resembles Galadriel and is Appearance 6.  We learn that the dwarves used to trade with the surface dwellers and that occasionally one of the dwarves would become “empowered”—read: they would become essence users, and some of THOSE would become deranged.  One such type managed to carry on a practice that caused the Wyld to creep into the caverns and cut us off from them.  It seems they have problems not only with the army of mold men and the things from the wyld that wander in, but also an army of Cephalids, alienesque creatures who bleed acid.  Their acid destroys (non-artifact) weapons.  They defeat one while we are resting.  We agree to not only help them with their efforts, which include all of the following:

The dwarves, by the way, are Jadebourne… that is to say, they are jade miners and mined like jade.  Psuedo-Galadriel makes new ones to replace those who are killed.  And the four people we rescued… all imbued.  They are essence users, though none seem to be Terrestrial.  Not sure what that means except that obviously our enemy has a use for essence users, even untrained ones who have never used any powers in their lives.

Last act of the night was to march on the brood queen.  The dwarves know where she lives (In fact we went around their cave during our voyage).  The whole team went in, healed and ready, and with a knife (on Jammer) and sword (on Conundrus) that were crafted by Naomi from the remains of one of the creatures the dwarves had killed, and thus the weapons would be acid-proof.

Her room is straight out of aliens.  Being unable to nuke the whole place from orbit to be sure, we had to wade in.  There were 7 large minions (one for each of us), the queen mother herself, and tons of pods, all of which burst open and released Larvae to attack us.  Those attacking with blunt objects could avoid the blood.  Those with slashing/piercing weapons had to make rolls to keep themselves from being scalded.  Those with non-resistant weapons had to find another weapon to use after the first attack.  Conundrus did lots of aggro, which pissed them off.  The rest of us did more conventional slashing damage, mostly with the alien-part-crafted weapons, and Niahlton did blunt bare-handed damage with a new charm.  The Larvae couldn’t do much damage, but because they surrounded us we pretty much were at 0 DV against them.  The larger guys, who also regenerated, after a few attacks we had to ignore them and go after the brood mother.  You see, she could psychically coordinate them.  Did I mention they were psychic?  Yup.  When she hit she had a chance to influence your mind, which is something she missed each time, gratefully.

Ash had us coordinate and eventually the half of us who remained with the coordination started to focus on her and took her down.  Once she was done the rest were easy prey.  We were cleaning up and returning to the Queen to report when I had to leave. 

GAME FOUR (10/06/2012)

Last game we defeated the brood queen and her horrible psychic offspring.  Now on to the main event.  Our goal is to go into the manse that was created by the Dwarf Queen (who is not a dwarf but more like Galadriel) and defeat the corrupt jadebourne dwarf who seems to be the father of all the badness below.  He’s leader of the mold men and he’s consecrated the manse to Orcus.  And thus begins the tale of how the land was two ticks from oblivion.

Assisted by seven dwarves (It was six, but I suggested dwarves came in sevens so we gained another).  They helped us get to the manse, which now resembles an enormous head of Orcus through whose mouth we must enter.  Once inside, we found a doorway with the simple and very TSRian label above the door “The first challenge of Orcus”.  I will attempt to get these in order:


Our biggest and most resistant, Slate, touched the door and instantly vanished through.   Niahlton’s life sense told us he was indeed on the other side and alive.  We all followed suit and found ourselves in a room with a false door behind us and surrounded by a curtain of mist that, once Slate walked through, we realized was a spray of acid.  Attempts to manipulate it with air anima only made it ripple.  Slate can see a door, but on his side he cannot see all the walls because the room seems to be partitioned in many places by acid curtains.

Our ultimate solution:  Slate rips up riles from the manse floor, fashioned them into a sort of channel and put a cap on one end.  Pushing it through the acid then releasing the cap and basically giving us a pipeline through which to crawl.  There was one partitioned area that had one door and another that had two doors; we opted for the section with two doors and to use the left one (Jim’s belief being that D&D wisdom has us taking to door on the left).  Upon exiting through the door we heard a voice say, “You have passed the challenge of Illusion”


Join battle!  We are in a large room and at the far end is a Trask (sp?), a classic and notorious (to some) first edition D&D creature.  It is decided that we can race past it to the exit and go through before it can touch us.  It rushes forward and when it does we’re able to run around it.  At one point, as our slow dwarves try to get there, Ash and Moth managed to blockade the enormous beast from getting into the doorway, and so we get through.  “You have passed the challenge of might” or was it strength?  If was strength it was still appropriate, since Ash alone rolled high enough to outmuscle the beast during the blockading.


So now we’re very quickly into the next room and within seconds are under attack by three large automatons.  They rumble forward with vice-like claws and pouring gouts of agro flame from their flame throwers.  I think they managed to take out one dwarf, possibly two.  There’s basically a rush for the exit beyond them.  While we might have been able to stay and fight them, we’d have suffered a lot of damage and probably lost most of the dwarves.  “You have passed the test of…um… I can’t remember.  Machinery?”


By now we’re joking about how we’ve run through everything and it might be nice to do a stand-up fight.  It soon became obvious this was not the time as we looked at Mark scrawling a long 90 yard map.  Yup.  It’s a foot race.  The wall behind us turns black.  We are being pursued by oblivion!  Niahlton kicks in his anima banner and leaps forward taking one dwarf for a head start.  Everyone starts running.  Slate picks up a dwarf and tries to run with him.  While the wall is starting out slow we know it wont’ stay that way.  Niahlton grabs the next dwarf who catches up and leaps with him.  A bunch of people are at the half-way point.  At this point they reach a door, a wall, and a gap beside the door and everyone must make a choice.  I believe Ash ran through the door and thus was fine, but simultaneously a few others ran around the door and discovered soon that they were moving slower now.  A few went back and went through the door just to make sure that they could get up to speed.  When Niahlton leaps back to get a final group to assist, he has two choices: Grab the dwarf, who will be swallowed up by the wall this turn, or grab the PCs who will be outpaced by the wall.  As I decide that I could not both grab the dwarf and leap away in time, the dwarf takes the decision away by sacrificing himself, leaping into the wall to avoid risking me or the PCs I need to rescue.  Niahlton grabs the PCs and leaps to safety.  “You have passed the test of speed.”


There’s just a table, a chair, and some food, and a door on the other side.  Within seconds, there are two plates of food.  Kex heroically leaps on the delicious plate of hot food and eats it.  As expected, a test of the door determines that it is not functioning.  Kex and Moth try to eat the other plate of food and succeed before another plate can appear.  “You have passed the test of gluttony.”

So we decide “Wow, here’s a chance to rest at last!”  Wrong.  We rest twenty minutes, the scene ends, and thus the room resets and we have to get rid of a plate of poison food again.  So we move on, since resting only caused us more harm.


Uh, hi there sleeping celestial dragon!  No, really.  Right there in the room with us is a celestial dragon and it’s snoozing away.  There’s a small area around which we can pass him with an athletics roll, be we have to be sneaky.

So Slate, the guy made of stone, tries to walk, and the dragon stirs a little, and he gets waved off by Ash, who sends our sneakiest, Jammer, on ahead.  He makes it through with ease and is at the door, holding position.  At this point, as the sneakier people are getting ready to go through, Slate moves again, waking the dragon.  Everyone runs like hell.  We’re all pretty sure we don’t have what it takes to defeat a celestial dragon.  It turns and breaths electricity on the two dwarves who were too slow to get through.  Slate punches it to no effect.  We all get out with minimal harm, unless you are a dwarf.  We now have only two left, as Niahlton ferried them past the dragon.

“You have passed the test of stealth.”  None of us really think that  counts as passing, but okay, whatever.


Hexagonal room.  We get into the middle and one wall emits a green flash of light.  We are struck with an emerald counter-magic.  We lost all sorcerous charms, magical items that are not artifacts, etc.  As we’re taking places near each wall to decide how to deal with this, the second wall flashes (white, I think) and a mist begins to emanate—or rather it would have if Moth didn’t immediately cancel it with a countermagic.  Then the third wall goes blue!  It was going to be an icy gust of chilling air, but Moth cancels that too!  The wall after that had something else equally bad, but was stopped by a third counter magic.  The fifth wall… I think that one got countered too, but this means now Moth has no more countermagics.  And “You have passed the test of magic.”

So the next room doesn’t so much have a challenge.  No, it has the main event!

At the far end of the room (which took up the entire battle mat) is a jadebourne dwarf in a protective circle.  Beside that at the same end of the room is a much larger circle with a sizable number of entranced mold-men who are casting a spell.  In the center of that circle is a rapidly forming demonic figure trying to rip its way into this world.  And between us and them, two defensive lines of sling-wielding mold-men and two sets of stairs, and two jade lions—horrible beasts of chaos who play with the mind and rend the body.

The lions roar and when they do, holy symbols of any sort are destroyed.  They eye the former priest, brother Slaton and one of them speaks the secret name of Orcus, which would cause madness and lots of problems if he weren’t fairly resistant.  The other lion did something similar to Conundrus. Lions basically concern themselves with those two.  The archers try to hit the rest of us.  The only good thing Niahlton managed in all this is that he used most of his remaining motes of essence to give extra DV to everyone vs. ranged attacks, so the sling bullets pretty much are useless, even though the fifth attacker of each pod who would normally get DV against targets; the passive defense helps.  Ash has to slug it out all the way up on foot.  The dwarves similarly have to deal with mold men on foot.  First to the top is Jammer, who had to deal with one of the lions for a moment as it could smell his sin and thus target him.  Kex fired an arrow at the group of casters up top and the arrow had to penetrate the ring which it turns out is a protection from terrestrials.  So we’ve got to:  Get to the top, avoid being mauled and stoned, penetrate the defense of the ring, and beat up the casters to stop the summoning.  And from Moth’s estimate, it’ll be here in 25 to 30 ticks.

By the fifteenth click it’s fairly obvious that this is going to be very nearly impossible.  Sure, some of the team took down one lion, and Jammer and Moth and Kex have been chipping away at the circle of protection, but we can’t possibly take out all the guys inside it, even with our anima banners burning them in groups.

So then the dwarf speaks.  The circle protecting him is a protection from Terrestrials as well, but it’s much more ornate and likely greater protection.  He offers a deal.  He’ll assist us if we guide him safely to the surface and lead him through “the final gate”.  He’s incredibly vague about the final gate and what it is.  Around tick 25, the demon is nearly loose and we’ve still got half the people left, and the lion who is left decides to maul Niahlton to near death (one dot from final death).  The deal is struck and sworn upon using the hearthstone (that binds oaths).  The dwarf alters reality to give us a few more ticks during which the team extinguish the last mold men, mostly by anima banner burns.  While a couple PCs were unconscious, we’re essentially all bound by the oath.

This will go contrary to the wishes of the Queen.  It is pointed out that we have two dwarves who will definitely report back that we made a deal and kept their enemy alive.  We have to lead the dwarf, called the Chaos Seer, to the surface and keep him hidden or else the queen possibly send someone out to kill him then our oath would force us to protect him.  Wisely, in my opinion, Ash goes to the queen and tells her the truth: All was lost and this was the only way to prevent the second-circle demon from entering this world.  She’s not happy, but she gets her manse back and she understands.  She also tries to not-too-subtly hit on Ash, who rebuffs her because he’s got a woman.  What a wuss.

Now that our alliance is forged, we are basically going to get the equivalent of 2 Level Five resource purchases per year and the barony will be the riches in this part of the world.  Also, following the wedding of Ash and the baron’s daughter (which has now happened), Ash is the new baron.  The old baron abdicates.