Axel plodded down the worn track, searching for a scheme to rescue Gustav. But an imposing sight tore him away from his ruminations: a force of beast folk warriors were clearing a path for an ancient war machine.
Huilo, the beast folk commander, was familiar to Axel from his expeditions to Treehaven, so Axel approached the fierce, red-furred panther man in a manner that would not seem odd to any watchful eyes. Realizing that Huilo’s fearsome soldiers would make his unknowing adversary all but invincible against his meager squad, Axel made a desperate appeal to the beast man’s love of his people. If Huilo betrayed the Realm, Axel could be far more generous in dividing the lost treasures of the temple. After all, could anyone trust an agent of the Realm to give up more than a few scraps?
Meanwhile, Arza and Akurin each prepared for battle in their own way. Arza set about studying the Wyld contamination carried by the river – how long had it been spreading, and what dangers did it pose? Akurin, concerned for Liana and her child, looked for the ideal spot to keep her safe from the threats on all sides. That’s when the Silverwights caught up to them.
Axel’s men kept some busy, but a crafty pair of the creatures managed to make a break for Liana. One charged straight at Akurin while the other leaped onto Waterfall’s back to steal the child away. Akurin fought selflessly against the desperate creatures, disregarding his safety in order to keep Liana and her newborn safe.
By the time Arza joined the wild melee, the Wyld creatures had gravely wounded Liana, despite Akurin’s success in wounding one and holding the other at bay. Arza managed to rescue the barely conscious mother by means of another Stormwind Rider, but she bobbled the baby right into the hands of the covetous Silverwight. The struggle continued, with the Silverwights unable to escape the agile heroes, but no one able to finish off the nasty little creatures. Finally, after taking a few wounds of his own, Akurin finished off the tiny kidnapper, allowing Arza to grab the child.
“…And a peerless swordsman, too! Since our sorcerer is the equal of theirs, this battle will be over before it starts!” Axel wondered how he would keep his word as he returned to camp. He rushed toward the sounds of battle, shocked to see a horde of vicious monsters surrounding his men. But, spotting Arza airborne and carrying the Wyld creatures quarry, Axel’s plan came into focus.
“That way! Into their camp! Take the child!”
With one mind, the Silverwights chased Arza toward the Realm base. While Akurin mounted his mare and cut down his foes from behind, Axel rallied his worn men and led them straight toward the Realm soldiers.
Akurin closed in on the frenzied Wyld invaders, and as Akurin’s sword flashed from its scabbard in the familiar, perfect movement of the Shining Starfall Execution, a golden light suffused him, and the mark of Dawn erupted from his brow. With each strike, a glowing falcon surged forward, and the little horrors were extinguished before they knew what hit them.
Arza wove a path through the trees, keeping the Silverwights just out of reach. As she came into range of the Realm sentries, they opened fire with their bows. But the winds of her Stormwind Rider became a swirling golden vortex that burned the arrows away. With the power of Twilight, Arza tore away many mysteries and unleashed newfound sorcerous power on the soldiers before her.
Axel and the Black Feather Flag mercenaries charged toward the garrison, perhaps seeming the least threat. But as he and his men rush in, Axel’s vision is transformed, and he sees the battlefield unfolding in perfect clarity. Though he lacks his usual black-feathered cloak, Axel is suddenly shrouded in a huge mantle of golden crow feathers that shed dark copies with every step. His men fight as one, yet with the ferocity of twice their number, cutting down the speechless sentries.
Unhesitating, Huilo decapitates the Realm captain he had greeted moments before, and his men fly into action, spears and machetes brutally surprising their former allies. Prikipa Ledaal, Chosen of the Dragons, Aspect of Water, Immaculate monk, and Emerald Circle sorcerer, takes only a moment to survey the carnage before leaping into the nearby ravine, where she drifts unharmed, standing atop the raging waters before summoning a Cirrus Skiff to carry her away.
Prikipa leaves behind a curious set of six white jade cages, all hanging from a stand of huge, engraved ivory tusks bound together with thin bands of unknown metals. Two are empty, but four are not. They imprison a variety of spirit creatures: a swirling ball of smoky blackness, a sickly green flame, a polished white skull, and Gustav!
“If only you had told me that three of you were Ascended, this would have been much simpler!” laughed Huilo. He directed a rat-folk savant to operate the derelict war machine, and she deftly manipulated the strange crystalline controls. Old and damaged though it was, the ancient machine quickly extended to form a bridge over the chasm.
The circle of Solar Exalted looked down into the chasm, where Prikipa’s sorcery had tunneled into the rock of the opposite side. Several holes the size of a man revealed a shimmering curtain of Wyld energy.
“Go claim your temple!” urged Huilo.
What terrible guardians have kept this temple intact for so long?
How much did Prikipa see, and will she know where to send the Wyld Hunt?
What is this House Ledall scavenger mission that Huilo spoke of?
How will everyone handle becoming Anathema?
What did you learn or reveal about your character this time, if anything?
Two sessions in a row for Arza! Fumbles are bad, especially when babies are involved, and especially when the other team recovers the fumble. Even worse when the other team likes to take the baby back to their lair so they can screw with its mind and feed on its dreams forever. But hey, things never got that far.
5 xp and 4 Solar xp all around.