The story began on the first of Needfest, 1150 I.C. ( C.Y. 605)
Zeshyn the Dai-Kyu, Vanaran Archer, Crab Clan
Seppun Ozawa, Human Monk, Imperial Families
Cortana Tsunoaru, Draeni Wizard (Iounmancer)/Rogue, Unicorn Clan
Arimura Kasumi, Human Fighter, Unicorn Clan
Raen d’Arth, Human Magus
and Maerk the Red, Kakaran (Warforged) NPC Cleric of Wee Jas.
Our session began on the 25th of Goodmonth, 1151 I.C.
As they began planning their exit from Lux, it occurred to several members of the party that perhaps delivering the Esoterica into the hands of the dakon was maybe not the best idea (as they were known to be retreating into the mountains in the face of Olman advances, and that the Olman themselves were under pressure from the Scarlet Brotherhood along the coast. Several pushed to visit Tenser first, to see what advice he could offer about making the book safe in their hands. Golkar offered no obvious objections, but it was quickly noticed that when ever Raen took his turn piloting the Wren, their coarse was obviously more north-westerly (towards the Amedio and the dakon) than north-easterly towards the City of Greyhawk and Tenser’s fortress.
Relieved of flight duty, Raen could be seen noticeably sulking, but it would be several more days before Zeshyn, using his sextant to check their course, would notice that their course in general now tended more NW than NE, and when he argued with Ozawa that they were off course, it eventually prompted Cortana to confront Golkar about it, and he reminded her that his deal with Raen said that he would be taken home, not to the supposed archmage who had successfully been imprisoning the other copies of the Esoterica and scattering them across Chornalth. It would take nearly an hour of argument before Golkar would relent to visiting Tenser, but saying that he would not permit himself to be carried within Tenser’s abode, lest he find himself unable to escape again.
Once at Tenser’s fortress, the Wren positioned itself a few hundred yards away and refused to be moved any further. Tenser came out and attempted to reason with Golkar that he would be better kept away from his people, who would only come to harm should Durklemes and his allies learn where he had been taken. While this discussion was being held below deck, one of the two pilots assigned to the Wren called down that something had appeared above the ship, a luminescent saucer-shape that hung silently 50’ above the Wren. Once the group cam eup to see, they were startled by a short grey humanoid dressed in some type of advanced armor that simply materialized on the deck along side of them that Tenser, at least, recognized as a fraal.
The fraal, who never gave his name, proceeded to repeat, mostly, the same debate with Golkar that Tenser had had, but with oddly less and less resistance. At one point Kasumi caught the creature slyly winking at her as he brought Golkar around to his point of view, offering the Esoterica a “safe place, one that is not a prison, but one where nobody will find you or try to use you”. Golkar eventually agrees, and the fraal takes the Esoterica aboard his craft and vanishes.
Tenser takes his leave, explaining that while what the party has concerned itself with is important, it is just one of many threats that he has involved himself in dealing with to one degree or another, and that he has other business to attend to. The group thanks hm and returns to Rokugan to report back to Minister Seppun.
[End of Chapter Three]
On their return to Otosan Uichi, they are brought up to date on what has transpired while they were away. The Locust/Crane/Phoenix war has fizzled out, thanks in part to advisors lent by the huchard, who have furthermore agreed to lend advisors to all the individual daiymos of the clans, including Lion & Dragon (both of whom have been ordered to report to Otosan Uichi for negotiations). According to the Minister’s agent in Arfa Dumor, one of Durklemes’ four draeni consorts is expecting a child, but the failure of the eleti to hang on to the copy of the Esoterica they held caused Durklemes to execute all of their ambassadors except the most senior.
Furthermore, he has urged Fu Leng to cede the ruined city of Gathrol (200 miles to the southwest of the Great Wall) to the Granbretanians, so that they might study their methods of mass-producing magic items in the interest of learning the process for themselves. For his part, Minister Seppun would like the party to scout the ruins to see what the Granbretanians are up to, and assess their strength of numbers. The party agrees to do so, flying aboard the Wren to the Wall, and then taking horses the rest of the way south.
From the outskirts, they can see that the Granbretanians have erected a metal tower 100’ tall near the center of the ruins, to which is tethered one of their cigar-shaped iron airships. Smoke pours from several points in the ruins, or perhaps what might be dust or ash. The party quickly overcomes a lone soldier wearing a Hound mask, one who is leading a patrol of about 10 slaves (mainly Nezumi but with several humans) on a patrol/hunt around the outskirts. From the soldier they find an aerial map of the ruins, where the city has been divided into sections. The slaves all tell the same tale: about six weeks ago, three of the iron airships attacked the “city” (though mostly in ruins, it had a population of perhaps a thousand, mainly centered around fishing the river that ran past the city’s southern flank).
Most local warriors killed in first night, the rest of the population cowed into submission. Men and women divided, human women the officers wanted for themselves kept, the rest tossed back and the groups divided again, this time into those with useful skills/crafts and those without. Skilled laborers allowed to continue practicing their crafts, the rest either sent to clear lands across the river for a larger agricultural output, the rest used as general labor in rebuilding the city/hunting for meat on the outskirts like they had been. In addition to the Hound-masks, other Beast Orders present in the city were the Boars, the Foxes (who were overseeing the farms), Ferrets, and a few Serpents and Ants.
As to military strength, most knew only that three airships had originally arrived, two more arrived to reinforce/replace them, and that every two weeks two airships sailed off west to be replaced soon after (making the airship total three in the region at any one time. None had any idea why only one vessel was currently present.
Investigating the farms on the far side of the river revealed that they were mainly clear-cutting the forest that grew there, and dragging most of the trees to a metal shed that took trees on one end, vomited copious sawdust out of its sides, and belched finished boards out the other. Fishing boats could be seen leaving the docks without any Granbretanians aboard, though they remain omnipresent on the docks. As far as their cadre of freed slaves went, some wanted to flee the region, warning other villages that the Beasts would soon set their sights on them for slaves, a few wanted to return to the city to try and flee with their loved ones, but two seemed resigned to the new state of affairs, sullen, but arguing that things were actually better since the Granbretanians had arrived.
Figuring that starting a slave revolt would be difficult at best, the party returned to Otosan Uichi at their best speed, and brought Minister Seppun up to date on what they’d seen/learned. He bade the group to abide for a few days while he rallied support, and two days later called them to a conference with two leading generals from Clan Crab and a pair of huchard advisors. For their part, Clan Crab pledged 100 samurai and an equal number of soldiers to lead an assault on Gathrol, the huchard pledged four of their airships to transport the troops into position. The party wanted to use potions of Invisibility and Fly to help assault the tower and scuttle the airship, at the very least crashing it if they couldn’t learn to fly it themselves.
On the 19th of Ready’reat, the airships began landing their troops, and the party began their assault of the tower. As the battle raged in the city below, the group slowly chewed their way through the Boars guarding their airship. The Granbretanian’s flamelances were deadly, particularly because nobody warned the newer members of the group about them, so Maerk was working overtime to keep everyone conscious as the fight progressed.
As we ended for the evening, the party held the gondola of the airship, but a few Boar soldiers remained, trapped in a Spiked Pit Cortana had trapped them in after their massed fire nearly killed her. It is the 19th of Ready’reat, 1151 I.C.