War of the Burning Sky

Vola's Journal, page five

By some miracle, Shey’s meditation seems to have worked. Not that I don’t believe that meditation has benefits, but I certainly did not think it would change the opinion of Rand. We awoke to Rand demanding we all have a meeting, promising us breakfast and a plan. Apparently the brothel owner has been stealing and coercing young girls into his business, and Rand has a plan to stop it. The plan seems elaborate, but I suppose it could work. I’ll admit I wouldn’t have ever expected him to go to such lengths to help out a bunch of strangers, but I am pleasantly surprised. And, get this – he was even sober.
As for everything else … I feel unsure. The town council seems useless at making any sort of decision, and with war looming all around us, this is not a time for idle chatter. Plus, Rand’s plan involves us staying in the city for the next couple weeks. I am glad to be helping the people of Seaquen, of course, but I feel there is more that we could be doing, surely, than sitting around in a crowded town spreading rumours, playing tricks, and sleeping with ensorcelled girls. I provide as much healing and medicine as I can to the refugees here, yet I can’t help but feel like we’re just mucking about doing nothing. Not to mention that we hired a man who tried to kill us to search for the home of the fire rats, which seems both terribly unnecessary and way more risky than we need it to be.
I’m glad Rand seems to be back on his feet, of course, but I feel like he’s going to get us all into a load of trouble.
And, if he steals anything else, I am having him arrested.

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The Broken Heart of the Wizard Gabal
A cautionary tail by Rand

Gabal stood tall amongst the carnage
Armies crashed against him in fire and fury
Broken waves of men
Shattered engines of destruction
His might unchecked
Against which none could stand
Yet a tear did mar his stoic cheek
And deep within his heart did break
In a tower far from the field of battle
Safe, he thought, from all harm
Rested the life for which he would give all
The life that now rested in the shadow of the one called Kazyk
Rictus grin and ill intent
The fiend knew the wizard would see
And turn his triumph to ash
At the edge of a murderers mercy
With understanding met, a wordless bargain was struck
A life for a life, a breath for a breath
So did Gabal surrender himself to the storm of swords
And died, heart broken, alone, defeated
And Kazyk? Was he true to his bargain?
Trusted? Honorable? None can say for sure
But when next spied his blades did weep
The tragic tears of crimson

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Sir Dakers Gallo's Journal
Day 1

Well I guess I’ll give this a try. Seeing the others writing late into the night in our make shift homes makes me think I could use some organization.

Today’s strange invitation to the baths ended up being as odd as it was pointless. The fiends have revealed themselves to us and how lucky we are to still draw breathe; I guess some of the others have encountered the gentleman before but still strangers talking pointless words while naked does little to make me feel like we are making a difference in this conflict. The drunkard Rand did show his worth for once by dealing with these fiends and maybe the cold trail to the fire rats homeland will be made clear to us. Stopping these fires would be a kind act to these down trodden people.

Though I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on Rand, he had a somewhat coherent idea to deal with that crooked brothel owner that stabbed Shey to an inch of his life. We will see if we have time to help those poor girls but I think time grows short as the Elves presence here increases the tension in town. I hope that the meeting tomorrow night will help defuse the situation and gain us allies in the approaching conflict rather than another enemy on another front.

I hope that I can speak with Foebane before the meeting and see what I can do to help Dassen’s cause in this conflict. As the 4th Ragesian army marches on the pass from Ragesia to Dessan and dangerously close to my father’s lands. I can not stand him but I will not let my family lands be trampled under foot of the Ragesian army.

But as the candle flickers and the shadows in this musty room grow longer I must retire for the night, I fear that tomorrow will be a long day if the elves push their foolish pride too far and the people of Seaquen push back. Maybe there is something to this journal writing that I see Vola and Orvas do so often.

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Tajen's Journal
Entry #1

Dearest Journal,

I know it has been a long time since we last spoke, I apologize old friend. Seaquen has been such a whirlwind of adventure so far! I met a rather odd crew of fellow adventurers and by coincidence they are all from Gate Pass as well! Who would have thought, little journal, that I, a born and raised Gate Passer, would travel so far only to find friends of shared roots amongst a sea of strangers! Oh what a lucky day indeed it was.

But that is just the tip of the melon, as mama used to say. I almost got in a proper tavern-fight! I met Dakers, who has promised to find a dragon for me. Then we stumbled upon the group of adventurers. I saw a fiend; TWICE! I had to help stop some thugs from killing my new friend Shay at a rather seedy tavern. And imagine this; I met a group of very friendly fire rats. Yes! Fire Rats! What a strange town Seaquen is turning out to be! They all doubted me, but I knew! I knew leaving Gate Pass would be the right thing for me!

Oh little journal, I must hurry along now. My new friend Vola has graciously allowed me to help in her refugee clinic. It is critical that I establish myself in the refugee community now that we have “The Plan”. Such an exciting plan too! Rand, the questionable one, has come up with “The Plan” and I get to play the part of the trusty rumour mill! I’ve never really spread any rumour before but I’m sure it will be easy. As Mama always used to say, “Rumours are like Bush Gophers, Taj’, the more you try ‘n kill ‘em that faster they spread!”

Well I’d better get a move on; I don’t want to be late!

Oh, one last note! Griffs says hello, and would like me to put down in writing that he won his long standing battle with the spider in the corner of the room. He is now currently doing a victory lap to ensure that the other insect type creatures in our cramped bed chambers are aware of his almighty power.

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Shahalesti Envoy

The Shahalesti Envoy

  • The Shahalesti envoy arrives at Lyceum, six elves led by Princess Shalosha. She says:

“I come with an offer of safety and salvation for Seaquen and those who shelter here. As you know, Shahalesti is the shining jewel of civilization, and now we are attacked by the armies of Ragesia. For every loss we suffer, the progress of all nations suffers. We are the only power strong enough to drive back the fires of Ragesia, but even for our greatness, victory is not assured.

“My father, ”/characters/lord-shaaladel" class=“wiki-content-link”>Lord Shaaladel, knows that some of the nations whose ambassadors stand in this very hall would prefer Shahalesti fall, but they don’t realize in doing so they prefer their own doom. All here must admit that faith in the leaders of other nations is a difficult thing when the only gesture is a few diplomats sent to the banner of Seaquen.

“Shahalesti sends a fleet. Seventeen of our ships sail now to this peninsula, surrounding it from all directions to protect it from hostilities. By this we show our devotion to the fight, and – so my father believes – we prove that it is our nation who should lead that fight.

“We invite you to join with us in the war against Ragesia. Many potential allies have found their way to your city, and so we have come here to meet them. However, we will not risk betrayal on any scale, nor would it be wise for you to risk it. So, we ask that you hand over control of Seaquen to the Shahalesti fleet, so that we may begin checking the purity of your allies’ spirit. ”/characters/admiral-telshanth" class=“wiki-content-link”>Admiral Telshanth will serve as provisional governor of Seaquen—"

  • She is cut off by Keifer Numhaut and Magistrate Lorb Votberd and Rand
  • Rand calls Shalosha out, pointing out that her presence is causing more hostilities
  • Rand calls Simeon Gohanach out, asking how decisions will be made should a council be formed. Simeon confesses that he is not skilled in the realm of international diplomacy, but believes a council would be best, and the council could nominate one to make wartime decisions.
  • A recess is called for two days while ambassadors communicate with advisors
  • Afterwards, Simeon takes the group aside and explains that the book they had carried was most likely written by High Inquisitor Kreven, for Supreme Inquisitor Leska. It mentions the Scourge but also implies that there might be a second purpose to the word, a double meaning, besides the rounding up of “disloyal mages.” In addition, there is reference to legends of something called a Trillith that Simeon has never heard of.
  • Orvas asks about the fire rats and Simeon responds that there was once a pyromancer who lived in Seaquen who is rumoured to have a tomb, though its location is unknown.

The Steam Baths

  • Upon returning home, Rand and Shey find a package containing a tinderbox and an invitation to a steam bath in town
  • The group decides to accept the invitation, and, as anticipated, they find Kazyk waiting for them, but he also has a girl with him, “Jess”, who Tajen recognizes from Majestic Creations as the fiend she had noticed there. Tajen then discovers that Kazyk is also a fiend.
  • Kazyk wants to make sure there are no hard feelings, he explains that his contract is up and he is now a free agent.
  • Rand asks how much it would cost to find the Pyromancer’s tomb, and after some negotiation, they settle on the cost of spreading a rumour that Kazyk was responsible for the war wizard Gabal’s death.

Sequins

  • Upon returning home (again), Rand and Shey have a deep conversation and Rand calls Shey on his bullshit, and Shey calls Rand on his bullshit.
  • Shey reveals that he is upset about girls going missing and a brothel involved
  • Rand helps put together a hair-brained scheme to destroy the reputation of the brothel owner, Cernaban Gremman
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Orvas' Journal (Page 8)

Of all the things that could have gone wrong in the night, fire-rats wouldn’t have been my first guess. Grif showed impressive restraint by not eating any of them. Apparently there’s something under the city that’s making the rats all fiery. I would really rather it turn our to be nothing, but it’s setting homes on fire, so I doubt it.
I’ve been involved in countless meetings of important politicians, but this one was the best. The best in that important things were happening and I got to be actively involved as someone who was listened to. Not the best in that we were talking about war and that’s terrible.
It’s just hitting me now how real this is. People have been dying and the war hasn’t even started yet. This is bigger than any of us. There has to be something I can do.

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Rand's Poor Excuses
Just Who do you think you are anyways

I think I get it now. I think I understand. I watched all these ludicrously titled individuals stand around a stick and argue about how little they can do about anything that’s going on. There’s no leader. No one in charge. They’re trying to run a war by committee. If I want my family safe, if I want my friends safe – ish, then I am going to have to find a leader to throw up in front of them. Someone who can make hard decisions, sane decisions, decisions that are going to get things done.
It can’t be Shay, he’s possessed by a fire demon, and willing to do whatever it takes to ‘save’ his Aunt. Vola might either be to soft or to murderous depending on how her mood swings. Orvas is just looking for a good time, but he occasionally listens to reason. Those two new hangers-on seem a little to fixated.
Well the elves are at the door to add their chum to the feeding frenzy. Time to decide whether we’re sharks or just screaming meat.

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Vola's Journal, page four

There’s something exciting about all this – the war council, I mean. Not that I’m excited about war, of course, but after trudging through forest and flame for weeks on end, it feels wonderful to finally be doing something. I don’t know if my voice will mean anything to these important-seeming folk, but I can hope that my wisdom will be heard by some. If nothing else, I can hope that Orvas will take our opinions into consideration, and put them into effect, since they put him in higher standing than Shey or I. Either way, it feels … powerful to be able to sit in on the war council. To finally hear what’s going on, although most of it is bad news. It makes me believe that we can make a difference.
Between war councils and running my clinic, it seems like I still have time to run around chasing tails – literally, in this case. Politely interrogating fire-breathing rats is just as hard as you would imagine, it turns out. There seems to be a major language barrier, even for our new friend Tajen, who speaks rat, apparently. Rats are not very good at directions, it would seem. However, if they are the cause of the recent fires, it is good to know that it wasn’t malicious arson. I’d hate to hear about more unnecessary violence in our already war-torn world.
Speaking of war, the daily Rand and Shey fight seemed to have ended on a somewhat positive note this time! Shey has convinced Rand to try meditation with them, though I don’t know how successful this will be. I have hope, though. Rand is a good person, beneath all his thievery and drunkenness. It also seems like he picked up a girl at some point? Although we first met her in his bedroom, he refuses to talk to her. Orvas says she’s the sister of one of his friends, a local criminal of Gate Pass. Hopefully she doesn’t follow in her brother’s footsteps. We do not need anymore criminal activity!
And then there’s the matter of Shahalesti. Apparently they have landed on our shores, hopefully with good intentions and plans for an alliance. I think the best course of action would be to create an alliance: the Ragesian military is very powerful, and although I hear they are less effective without the proper leadership, I have seen enough devastation at the hands of the Ragesians not to underestimate them. I have let the Ragesians take my home twice now, and I will not let that happen again.

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Shey's Diary, Page Six

Rats are surprisingly conversational. Or at least that’s the way Tajen presented them. Either way I am still not sure that that whole experience wasn’t just a rage fueled fever dream, but Ul’s sour temperament suggests that it was real.

These past days have been a blur. A mostly terrible, awful, monstrous blur. But some interesting moments have crept in. I worry about Rand. He would probably prefer that I didn’t, and that I would keep my pointed ears out of his new, and very successful pickling business. But I feel like I understand him, and that I might be able to help. I understand pain, both emotional and physical. I understand the self destructive urges that a deep hurt can bring. Maybe meditation will help him. Or maybe it won’t, but either way, I won’t watch him throw his family aside as he tries to burn the blessing of my benefactor out with a fire of his own.

Speaking of the Stag, perhaps it is time that I sat down with my worried compatriots, and tried to explain the nature of the beast. Or at least, what I understand of it’s nature. Whether they choose to believe and single word from my lips is entirely up to them, but I feel I owe them some form of explanation. To them it probably looked like I died, and then was brought back by some suspicious magic. I mean I suppose that that is exactly what happened, but still. I’m sure the fire spirit that has invaded my dreams since I was a child wants nothing but the best for everyone. Right?

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The War Council
  • Rand met a girl named Katrina; turns out, she’s Rantle’s sister
  • In the middle of the night, Vola and Shey awaken to the smell of smoke and recall rumours of houses burning down in North Harbour. They investigate and find a smouldering rat’s nest in the cellar. Shey’s familiar Ul enters a fissure and informs them that he found giant fire-breathing rats in a warehouse.
  • Gathering the rest of the party, they visit a nearby warehouse in the middle of the night, and find a huge family of rats who were extra warm, had glowing eyes, and cooked the bits of sausage that were offered as treats. Tajen casts speak with animals and manages to learn that the rats were blessed but had recently been driven out of their home by big folk, “home” was “down” and “dusty.” But it was the middle of the night and so they went back to bed after boarding up the fissure in the cellar.
  • Later that day, after a good sleep-in, and the rain coming down, they go visit Lyceum Academy for a War Council.
  • The headmaster, Simeon Gohanach greets them:

“Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll pardon me if I’m brief. Our enemies are many, and we know their eyes are constantly watching. We don’t have much time for this meeting, so, even
though I encourage each and every one of us to have our time to speak, I need to ask that we not get too bogged down in discussions of minutiae and other small things.

“We have a great task ahead of us—a task that we do not do simply to protect ourselves, but to save the lives of all our families, brother, and sisters. The new emperor of Ragesia, Leska, who proudly calls herself the Supreme Inquisitor, has set her armies to conquer all our nations. Everyone is in danger, from lowliest warrior to mightiest mage. I have vowed as my duty that I will fight against this Scourge from Ragesia, but I don’t know much about running a war.

“What I do know is that we all have knowledge and skills that will be valuable in this fight. I hope that you will trust me to lead this fight against tyranny, and I will trust you to give me your best wisdom and aid so that we may be victorious.

“Our goal is to stop the Scourge, to drive back the armies of the Ragesian Empire, to dethrone Leska, and to ensure our families and homelands are safe. Now, I hope you all have some idea how to do that. My ears are open.”

  • Magistrate Lorb Votberd brings up a long list of grievances against the refugees, who he says are bringing chaos and crime to their town. He is in favor of recruiting able-bodied refugees to a new, broader police force to get things under control in a hurry.
  • Lee Sidoneth explains that the north harbor is so crowded that they’re sending new ships to the south harbor. Though there aren’t adequate docks for all the refugee ships, Lee thinks it best that most ships not be piered, so they can move quickly in case of an attack. His general stance is to wait and build strength, rather than rush to action. He also says that he knows a Ragesian fleet is moving towards Sindaire, and a Shahalesti is enroute to Seaquen.
  • Kiernan Sekert shares a fair amount of military intelligence, including:
    • In Gate Pass, the war wizard Gabal emerged from hiding when the city council let Ragesian inquisitors inside the walls. Gate Pass soldiers kept the inquisitors busy while Gabal and his students assaulted Ragesian camps outside the gates. Reported Ragesian losses were nearly two thousand in one day. Sadly, one of the inquisitors managed to locate Gabal and dispel his fire protection, and a mighty fire- breathing dragon incinerated the mage.
    • The Shahalesti are believed to be providing supplies to Gate Pass, forcing Ragesia to turn from siege to repeated assaults.
    • The first Ragesian army, led by General Magdus, has halted hostilities because of bad weather and now roams the eastern plains of Sindaire, pillaging as it goes. A fleet from Ragesia is sailing for the capital of Sindaire, and the leaders of Seaquen suspect Magdus’ forces will link up with the fleet in the coming weeks.
    • The second Ragesian army, led by General Danava and aided by a branch of the third army, has breached the first district gate of Gate Pass.
    • The third Ragesian army, led by General Revulus, is preparing to march south to Dassen, though bad weather has halted it for now.
    • Meanwhile, the fourth Ragesian army attacks Shahalesti around the northern edge of the Otdar mountains.
    • Leska seems to be foolishly splitting her forces: Ragesia’s armies are winning all of their battles but cannot hope to occupy territory. They seem simply to be on destructive marches.
  • Commander Xavious Foebane, retired commander from Dassen, wants Seaquen to forge alliances with any nation that is willing to stand against Ragesia. He has identified military objectives best be handled by mobile experts, saving large forces for holding back enemy advances. The most important mission, in his mind, is locating the Torch of the Burning Sky.
  • Laurabec Adelsburg is less concerned with broad military matters and more worried that the thousands of people who have come to Seaquen to make a difference in the war might tear themselves apart. Many problems are the result of inadequate food, water, and shelter; bitter religious and cultural differences; a perception that Seaquen and Lyceum view the refugees as outsiders and pawns, rather than vital allies; and the clear fact that more than a few people are here looking for an opportunity to profit from the war. Laurabec speaks unofficially on behalf of the refugees, and she requests that someone pay more heed to the local affairs, since it will take weeks anyway before any military actions can be coordinated.
  • Giorgio presents the Wayfarers’ knowledge about the dangers of teleportation, and says that they are working to find a solution. Giorgio also presents some theatre tickets:

“These are for a performance in three weeks of The Spectacular Trial of Toteth Topec, which you’ve no doubt heard will be premiering at the Wayfarers’ Theater in a few days. Though there will be other performances before the night of your tickets, the ageless beauty that is Guildmistress Larkins wants to be certain we have everything perfect before we show it to you, the city’s most respected citizens, and those dignitaries visiting from similarly respected nations. Think of the symbol it will be, for all you to attend a show together! I dare say it may be wholly disastrous to morale if even one of you fails to attend!”

  • Dakers Gallo spoke of the need to defend Dassen, at which point, Dasseni Ambassador Keifer Numhaut interjects, saying that King Steppengard is displeased that Seaquen’s rallying call has brought so many refugees through his lands, making his kingdom a target for Ragesia. While Dassen is not above lending its support if there is a legitimate reason, for now the King believes it wiser to make a pact of neutrality with Leska, and leave Seaquen to its own fate. Dakers argued that his homeland, Gallo’s Fend, would be the first to be invaded should the Ragesians come through the Ayudi Gap, and that they should not remain neutral.
  • Sindairese Ambassador Cranston Snord says that his nation’s people want to resist Ragesia, but the politicians cannot pledge their support to Seaquen and risk drawing Leska’s ire. He suggests that if Seaquen could defeat Ragesia in a notable battle, such a victory might be enough to make a difference. As for the Torch of the Burning Sky, Cranston says that he is confident he knows where it is; it’s just impossible to reach:

“The evening that the Old Dragon was slain, a storm of fire opened up in the skies above the late emperor’s castle, a place called Korstull, a canyon in a broad field. Now everything there is dead, burned by months of searing rain. Sometimes the dead wander out of the storm. I don’t know how anyone could have gotten into that firestorm to retrieve the Torch, nor do I know how you would expect to either.”

  • At this point, the door burst open with reports of seven Shahalesti elves flying over the walls of the Academy!
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