The Undiscovered Country

Harrathian Karolith
I

A tentative knock came at the door of the temporary apartment of Harrathian Karolith and momentarily the door unlatched and swung open, seemingly of its own accord.
“Ahem, um, master, sorry to disturb your investigations but the wagon train is ready and Clausis did make clear the importance of speed.”
As he knelt, Harrathian’s back was to the door so Bettina, his most promising acolyte, could not see that he closely examined not a magical item or scrying device but a simple rough carving of a female and child figure.
“Clausis commands and we must obey, no? Well at least I’m more comfortable solving the problems of dungeons than rebellious villages. We’ll leave the killing of peasants to that lazy fool Arinian. Heh.”
He rose slowly to his feet, using his glass-staff for purchase. Nevertheless, once upright he made an imposing figure, the deliberation and grace of his bearing indicating the dexterity and strength that old age could erode but not destroy.
He moved purposely past Bettina and strode out to meet his obligation.
Bettina knew better than to comment on the single tear that fell almost unnoticed down the ridges of his weathered face. Sometimes that happens to old men.

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Memo

TOP SECRET HIGH COMMAND EYES ONLY

TO: High Commander Clausis

FROM: District Governor Arinian

High Commander,

It is with regret that I write to you again regarding the security situation in District Seven. The insurgents remain elusive, and there are signs that their propaganda is gaining traction in some communities, principally in the east of the district. A tax revolt in one village was successfully put down and the ringleaders crucified. However, while the revenues in question have now been recovered, the boldness of the rebellion must not be dismissed lightly.

Sources within the village have indicated that the action was fomented by an insurgent, who visited repeatedly over a period of some weeks. This is not an isolated instance of insurgents spreading anti-state propaganda in the villages, although this is the first time it has resulted in direct action against the state. It is evident that the insurgents’ message is proving unexpectedly persuasive among discontented elements in our more isolated settlements. We can expect the insurgents to increase the reach of their efforts.

Efforts to identify and neutralise these anti-state actors have been hampered by the withdrawal of battlemage resources from District command. The diversion of battlemages to High Command’s special mission has left the district depleted, and is allowing the insurgents much greater freedom of movement and action than would otherwise be the case.

Mindful of your previous exhortation to “do more with less”, I authorised an intelligence operation which met with some initial success, resulting in the capture of three low-level insurgent operatives and one captain of the Red Hand, who had evidently been turned. This was effected by two double agents who had been successfully inserted into the insurgency some time previously as a married couple, whose cover was built up over time by allowing them to occasionally “steal” surplus weapons and materiel from provincial garrisons.

Unfortunately, the captured operatives had only limited local knowledge, and the intended next step of interdicting a more significant insurgent agent had to be aborted when our double agents were found dead in two separate locations.

It is clear that the insurgents’ counter-intelligence capability is more effective than had previously been assumed. Furthermore, their political message is proving more potent than expected. Every society has its malcontents, ours being no exception, and their feelings of resentment can become a powerful force when fed with simplistic conspiracy theories and implausible promises of a new world.

Accordingly, I must raise with you once again the issue of force numbers. If District Seven had its full complement of battle mages I am confident that a surge in our security efforts coupled with some modest populist measures would suffice to curtail or even end the insurgents’ activities before they become a more significant military and political issue. With the greatest respect to the priority of the special mission, I must advise that the longer this mission engages the bulk of our battle mage resources, the more concerning will become the law and order situation in this District.

END

MESSAGE INTEGRITY VERIFIED VOLERIAS

RESPONSE REQUESTED

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Lille Nisse Hansi

Lille Nisse Hansi has not been out of her hole for weeks. All preparations are in full swing, getting ready for Jul.She has recruited a merry band who are creating toys, alcoholic beverages and gifts. She is now the last Nisse, so she must keep Jul alive and is training people for succession purposes, because what is Jul without good friends, merriment and presents?

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No Rhest for the Wicked

I’d come to this sunken city for one reason, and he’s not sosaar here. No sign of him. Not in charge at the town hall, not in the belltower, not leading the reinforcements. Some lieutenant.

Maybe I’m too late. Again. Señor Asturro is probably off with his army, weeks away from here. Slipped away again, and not by my negligence this time. It’s as if the gods themselves are hiding him from me.

These teleportation circles make me uneasy. The enemy controls them fully, and anyone that might be able to make sense of or work them is dozens of miles and hundreds of years away. Master Burne… the necromancer… the priest… out of our reach. Perhaps forever.

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Bless This Gnome!

Hamish swung himself into a sitting position on the edge of his bed and stretched. It looked like it was going to be a clear day. That was always a good way to start a mission. Standing, he made his way over to the window and looked out at the Citadel. He had to admit, the view from the palace was impressive. He’d originally balked at the idea of moving out of the barracks, but with his promotion, Wullie’s status as consort and the Cult of the Undying….well it had made sense.

It was odd really. When they’d first returned from the temple mission things had seemed to be much the same. A new squad was formed, since there was only Hamish and Wullie left of the ‘13th Company of Undying’. It was a rag tag mix formed from the survivors of other citadel squads and renamed the ‘42nd Citadel Company’. They bonded on their first mission, despite the difference in their backgrounds. On their return Hamish was surprised to find that there were rumours about the invincibility of the ‘Her Majesty’s Undying Force’. A few nights leave around the city and Hamish was even more puzzled at the apparent ‘cult’ that was emerging.

A few missions later and their return was now heralded with cheering, banners and celebrations. ‘Her Majesty’s Undying Force’ were being talked about everywhere, their feats becoming legendary. A little investigation and Hamish discovered that the success of the squad was being attributed to himself and Wullie…..the last of the 13th, the last of the Citadel’s Gnomes. Gnomes were de rigueur!

When he was promoted the celebrations weren’t just within the barracks. People he barely knew congratulated him and toasted his name. He wasn’t comfortable with this new fame – he couldn’t understand it, but it did mean he barely ever had to buy a drink anymore. It also explained, in his mind, why when Wullie’s relationship with the Queen became known, no-one questioned it. Why wouldn’t the Queen be interested in one of the ‘Undying’. They were heroes.

Hamish wrapped a strong hand round the Tuakiin pendant he always wore and sighed. It was most disconcerting being famous, but who was he to fight it. Morale in the city was better than it had been for a while, despite the ever present dangers. With the Queen’s permission he’d had the squad renamed to ‘Her Majesty’s Undying Force’ – why not since that’s how they were known anyway. They didn’t actively encourage the ‘cult’, but they didn’t try to stop it either. He just wished the rest of the 13th were here to enjoy it. Mortimer might have been unimpressed, or not noticed, but Hamish reckoned Dipsy and Mags would’ve loved it.

It was strange how things had turned out. It was almost like someone was watching out for them. Perhaps his friend Tuakiin had brought them good luck. There’d been little else positive about that temple mission. But this was not the time for pondering these things. He needed to get prepared for today’s mission and it wouldn’t do to be late for the Queen. Tucking his pendant back under his shirt, he turned from the window and set his mind on military matters.

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Love Is Going Gnome!

Wullie drifted awake with a contented smile, as the first fingers of dawn crept across the floor towards the bed where the warm, naked body of his Queen curled possessively round him. If he’d imagined six months ago that this was where he’d find himself whenever he was home, he’d have called himself ‘Daft’. But here he was and he was fulfilled.

As his Elven lover shifted slightly in her sleep, he felt the cool touch of the golden wrist cuff he had made for her brush across his skin. She had loved her gift, the first of many he had made, and wore it always. He could not fathom what had made her consider his advances on their return from the temple mission, but she had and they were now together.

A more superstitious Gnome might speculate that someone was watching over him, but that wasn’t Wullie and he was not going to get complacent about his apparent good luck. In fact – despite only Hamish and himself returning from the temple mission, they had seemed to have luck on their side ever since. They’d been on many missions with their new squad since then and despite all the dangers, both Gnomes had returned unscathed from them all. They were getting a reputation.

In a few hours he & Hamish would be off on another mission for their Queen, but no need to get up yet. Wullie twisted round and snuggled closer to his love, gently caressing her face. She was as beautiful as she was wise. He wondered idly if the possibility that the Gnomes were undying was giving her some vague hope that his life might not be as transient as many of the others in the citadel. She had lived more lifetimes than most, bar a few of her Elven courtiers and it was a harsh, uncaring world out there. He really hoped that he was providing her with the comfort and love she deserved.

Wullie highly doubted his life would be any longer than most, but while there was breath in his body he would return to her. She had told him that whenever he was away on missions she found herself anxious for him to return. Their celebratory reunions confirmed the truth of it to him. He might only be her consort, but he would do anything for her, even more so than when he was but a mere scout prepared to die for his secretly beloved – if such a thing were even possible.

He pulled her close to him. A little longer till he would have to get up and prepare to meet Hamish and the rest of their squad. Before he left their quarters, his love would fuss over him in a most un-queenly manner, while he would shower her in kisses and sing Elvish love songs. Then they would exit into the more public areas of the palace, where they would be all dignity and decorum. The Gnomes, with the squad, would have their final briefing. The Queen would let him and Hamish borrow things from her private armory if the mission indicated they might need more than their usual kit. And then they’d be off with a marching song to carry them on their way.

Wullie’s smiled again. He was one fortunate Gnome!

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No Time to Rhest

Vani rolled her shoulders, trying to ease the some of the tension in her muscles. They’d been traveling non-stop for a while now and they seemed no closer to turning the tide of the oncoming army. No matter what they did, there were always more enemies appearing and more innocent bystanders to assist. It was exhausting.

The battles around Rhest had been particularly tiring, both physically and emotionally. She was going to miss Kai, but in some ways she was glad he would be far from this wanton destruction. Perhaps his lands would be safe or at least have time to prepare their defence with him to warn them.

She sighed and tried to settle for the night, focusing on Vanindae’s soft purring snores as a way to calm her thoughts. Before she could push the noise of her thoughts to one side, she heard Rima’s voice in her mind…singing to her. It was one of the first love songs she’d written. A happy tear slid down her cheek. There was something strange about the song though – it was too fast and getting faster. As it vanished from her mind, Vani smiled sadly. She doubted her reply would make it, but wherever Rima was, she was still alive and their love endured.

Vani didn’t want to think about the reasons for the speed of the song, but in the back of her mind she had her suspicions. Their connection had felt oddly distant and intermittent since Rima had traversed the barrier. The urge to go find her wife was strong, but the Spring Queen needed them to help and to fight. If there was chance, she would try to ask the Spring Queen if they were making any impact or if there was something else they should be doing. Till then, she would keep fighting alongside her current companions, helping those in need and try to convince any Elves she met to do as the Queen commanded.

With her objectives again clear, she quieted the bleakness that kept trying to seep into her mind. Instead she concentrated on the words of Rima’s love song. They might not be together, but they were entangled by their love for eternity. Even if they didn’t meet again in this world, they would find each other in the lands of the Fae.

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Anarië and Mawgojzeta

Mawgojzeta

Having escaped with her new colleagues from Wave Echo Cave, her first priority is to report back to the resistance leadership (via a Sending spell or two) on the location and disposition of the enemy, the nature of her new allies, and what they have managed to discover about the lost tomb of Acererak.

Anarië

In the ruins of Rhest, in need of a few hours’ recovery, but otherwise feeling rather chipper about defeating the dragon and clearing out another enemy stronghold. Confident in her ability to overcome any opposition, and eager for more daring adventures. For some time now, she has been particularly keen to get her hands on whatever secrets the enemy is seeking in this so-called “Tomb of Horrors”.

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Chris's PC's

Rose Black-Sworn:

The child who posed as Ross to flee their monastic life with their childhood sweetheart; the daughter of Baron Black… Rose… has undergone a baptism of fire to become the person they are today. They have seen every happiness in their young adult life destroyed by the Red Hand simply because it was in the way. She has seen her own life spared because she was seen as “just a girl”.

As a result of this Ross adopted their other gender identity and took two vows, one as the blade of vengeance to The One (via an angel Luminius) wielding powers of Heaven against her foes, the other an oath of vengeance against those who killed her love, making her a warrior of sacred vows.

Having just tracked down the group by info gleaned from an eventful evening in a new bar run by an old ‘friend’… Rose is keen to fight the Hand and knows nothing of the Tomb.

Drum “Dances with Storms”:

Having witnessed first hand the rise of a new chieftain of the united Orc clans, and then helped usher them to a new refugee home, the skinny, distinctly non warrior, Rain Dancer/Shaman, has found himself rising to a more prominent role in keeping the tribe together around the old traditions and the old way, even when refugee status threatens the cohesion of the tribe.

He currently works to bring dry weather to the forest/bog to make firm fertile land for them to plant crops, but remembers calling down the full fury of the storm to bring down a bridge…. He yearns to adventure again.

Gwydion y Gwyn:

Gwydion is an Illuminator who has seen "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls”. He is driven by the Neon Gods to take the white Glow of Gwyn above ground and try to repair the world, introduce the Neon Gods to this dying world.

He lives in tunnels his people dug for Acererak, he could surface anywhere in that ancient empire.

Mortimer Greysprocket:

See: https://the-undiscovered-country.obsidianportal.com/adventure-log/a-gnome-before-the-tomb

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