The Whorl

Game 13 - The Sun
2,880 XP = Total 20,580 XP

The Whorl is so different than when I began my slumber. Three thousand-odd years ago the smoke of war still choked Indra's skies, the poisonous rubble of vast war-machines polluted the ground and Civilization teetered, guttering, in small pockets.

They've done fairly well for themselves, but even after so many centuries they remain so far from what they were. I find I do not want to return to my slumber, and thanks to a particularly unusual mortal, I may not need to for some time to come.

This mortal, Vinihata, is a devotee of Lakshmi and Jyestha and so considers me divine. I suppose I am, after a fashion… at least insofar as anything embodied in the Whorl can be. He woke me from my long sleep because an abomination had found my sleeping form and found a way to draw large quantities of my blood in slow drips and dribbles over the centuries to power a thaumaturgical device that could blind the very gods to his machinations. This creature, a potent spirit of the dead who has somehow severed himself from the Halls of the Dead, bound to a mechanical body in the stylings of Brahma's children, managed to crack open the Dawn Forge itself and was seeking to construct an army of such quasi-undead.

I had no interest, obviously, in this creature succeeding, but I was newly awakened to this age and unsure if my intercession was needed, and so I fell upon old codes. Since Vinihata had, arguably, saved my slumbering form from great pain and inconvenience, I was permitted by the terms of my existence to offer him a boon, and until he should call it in I was free to remain awake within the world. 

I shortly realized that I very much enjoy being awake in the world. I especially very much enjoy being the ONLY one of my siblings awake in the world. I found myself hoping that Vinihata would not call in his boon. I watched as the accursed son of Dasaratha manifested himself and gave to the Elf wizard the means to summon a demon from Surya’s Prison. I hoped it would be enough. And indeed, at first, it seemed these stout mortals would pull it off. But in their final confrontation with the "Risen Son", sitting upon the very Throne of Brahma at the heart of the Dawnforge, one of their number, the diminutive creature, turned on her companions, rendering the priest of Sarasvati unconscious, and nearly doing the same to the wood-elf.

It was then, in anger, that Vinihata called upon me. I changed my form to something less… cumbersome… and sought to assure the wizard that the accursed Prince was not, in this matter, betraying him. I then sought to dissuade the small creature from further betrayal while influencing probability subtly in Vinihata's favor. He was able to destroy the physical form of the Risen Son and I was able to reclaim my stolen blood. I departed before Brahma should find me in his temple.

It would appear that the god was grateful to the mortals. Vinihata contacted me again from the ancient city of Videha where we discussed the terms of the boon I owed him. Since my intercession was not wholly necessary before, I left the boon in his hands as I did not yet wish to return to slumber. He quite cunningly called in the boon obligating me to actively seek the secret to becoming mortal and, upon discovering it, to decide whether or not to follow through. This permits me an unknown period of wakefulness and obligates me either to return to slumber or live a mortal life at the end of it. Very clever. I decided to join his monastic order and engage in courtship rituals and sex with him. I think I'll enjoy my new lease on existence very much. 

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Game 12 - The Son
2,440 XP = Total: 17,700 XP

Transcript of Interrogation Session 17

Screaming stops, whimpers.

The Thrannis: Now, son, have I stripped away your flippancy for at least a few moments? Can you bring yourself to be honest with me at last?

Carmine: y-y-y-yes… of-of course Father. I'm al-always honest with you. I'm sorry if my sense of humor offended.

Th: I am unoffended. Start again from the point after your party destroyed the scarab-factory.

C: Yes, of course. We ventured deeper into the ruined Titan. It became increasingly clear that these ruins had been long-inhabited, and that there were many alterations to the power systems and other ancient functions to serve new, mysterious ends. We eventually entered a room where progress was halted by some walls of lightning. Uncle Xedris studied the…

sudden screams

Th: You are being disrespectful again.

C: y-y-yes… s-s-sorry. The Noble Xedris of the House Thrannis, forever may he live, studied the wall and determined it could be de-activated, but doing so would route power to some other effect. After some debate they chose to risk it. As soon as the wall of lightning fell, however, a… strange heaviness afflicted us, a sensation of a malevolence bearing down on us, and six of the seven Forged in our party dropped dead. Only the Cleric of Brahma remained standing. Then two of the slain stood back up, blue fires burning in their eyes and red energy leaking from their joints. By their first few words, it became clear that they were the "siblings" we fought at the Archive, incorporeal spirits somehow prevented from passing through the Halls of the Dead, capable of possessing and puppetting constructs of flesh… and, well, apparently also constructs of other materials. As we engaged them in combat, they began animating the other slain by pulling spirits into the, um, corpses? I'm not sure if constructs of metal, wood, and wizard-glass count as corpses? They were alive, so I'll call them corpses.

Th: Fascinating. The Risen Son has learned how to undo the imperfect gifts of the Slain Tyrant. A shame you fled in cowardice and shame before you could learn how he accomplished this.

C: y-y-yes father. You have my abject apologies. We dispatched the newly undead, and the Cleric of Sarasvati managed to restore three of them to life once more. He's much more powerful than I at first thought. Lord Xedris realized, then, that the Risen Son had developed the means to specifically separate the imperfect souls of the Forged from their bodies, and that this made their otherwise-inanimate forms similar enough to "corpses" for other spirits to assume control. He theorized, then, that the party of undead seen heading for the Wall of Dawn may be seeking to breach the Dawn Forge, and possibly create thousands of bodies for his wraiths to inhabit… an endless army of shock troops. It also explained the interest in the Forged village of Coil. The four living Forged realized that progressing any further to face a foe who could slay them with a whim and possess their bodies was folly. They turned to escape and warn their village while our group retreated to a defensible position to rest and recover from the fight.

Th: And nothing assailed you as you rested?

C: No, the place was pretty much empty. The only fight was using bodies we brought with us… although the sensation of being watched by invisible, perhaps intangible presences never went away.

Th: Continue.

C: Yes sir. We continued into the wreck and we finally found the Heart chamber… and it was really strange. Instead of the "heart" I was vaguely briefed about there was an enormous clockwork sarcophagus attached by dozens of tubes and pipes to various conduits on the walls and ceiling. The sarcophagus was open and empty. The inhabitant was… a big guy, but not around when we got there. The druid noticed that one of the pipes led into some particularly strange shadows and discovered… uh…

sudden screaming

Th: You're prevaricating again. Don't lie to me.

C: I-I-I w-w-wasn't sir! I swear! But the truth is so strange I wasn't sure how to express it. It was a Dragon sir, Tamra the Copper, it was asleep, curled around the immense corpse of the buried Titan.

panting, whimpering

C: y-y-you're not… you believe me?

Th: I do not believe that even you are foolish enough to fabricate a story invoking the accursed Tamra to my face. You uncovered its resting place then… excellent.

C: It's not there anymore… 

Th: What?!

C: It… woke up. I'm getting ahead of myself. Lord Xedris began investigating the sarcophagus. It was a masterwork of thaumaturgy, powered by the magically-rich blood carefully siphoned from the sleeping Tamra. It became clear that the Risen Son slumbered in that construct for… centuries, maybe millenia, carefully absorbing power and understanding before arising.

Th: That is… ingenious. The daring of it… tapping the power of our most implacable enemy for his own purposes… using the enforced slumber of the gods to drain the life from one of their most powerful weapons. I find myself almost admiring the audacity of it even if I recognize the insanity of the Son's ultimate aims.

C: Yes sir. The druid was offended, though, and sliced through the conduit. Dragon blood poured into the room which was disorienting enough, but then the sarcophagus started to melt down and… the Risen Son appeared before us as a illusion. He was… a large Forged of incredible elaboration and detail. It seems he created a custom, bespoke body out of a dead Forged, heavily augmented over the centuries and powered by Dragon blood and a thaumaturgical mixture of arcane magic and the power of the Great Lord Surya as generated by the Titan's heart… and that's when I… blacked out.

Th: Yes. Your blackout. 

C: I came to a few minutes later and the image of the Risen Son was ranting at me, practically screaming at me, calling me "father" … I… was I being possessed by someone?

Th: That is none of your concern. Be certain I do not hold you responsible for whatever you may have done or said during this… moment of disorientation.

C: Thank you father. He stopped ranting pretty quickly once he saw how confused I was, and pretty much admitted he had left his sarcophagus behind as something of a trap, and he wished us unpleasant deaths before vanishing. The system was melting down, and Lord Xedris clearly feared a… significant explosion. I… um… volunteered the fact that I could get them out, but without… telling them exactly where I'd be taking them. They opted to try to stop the meltdown and to take advantage of my offer if they should fail. Fortunately, they worked together as a team pretty effectively. [[:tavi-agarwal | Tavi]] uh, the gnome… climbed up into the sarcophagus while Lord Xedris and the Cleric of Sarasvati desperately tried to figure out the mechanism. It seems the Cleric had a control orb! One of the orbs used to control the Titan's Heart from back in the war! The guy was full of surprises. Vin seemed fixated on the dragon… he's a worshiper of Lakshmi and Jyestha and I guess he felt responsible for the Dragon and worried that the explosion would hurt or kill it, so he woke it up.

Th: … And how… did he do that?

C: Please, Sir, I don't know… he just touched the scaled flesh we could see and meditated… Fortunately the rest of them managed to stabilize and shut down the system as the Dragon roused. They seemed to have things in hand, and the place was coming down as the Dragon tore itself loose from the earth all around us, and I had no confidence that I would survive much longer considering how many of them wanted me dead, so I came here. That's all, I swear.

Th: …

C: …

Th: You have done well my son. You may rest and recover. I will have food and refreshment brought for you. Spend as much time here as you like. I will send you back when you are well. 

C: Thank you Father. You are very generous.

Th: One more question… if they survived the collapse of the ruins, where do you think they would go?

C: They were… very worried about the possibility that the Risen Son might somehow be able to access the Dawn Forge. If I were to guess, I'd say they'd head there as soon as possible.

Th: The Dawn Forge has been sealed for three millenia… then again, with the power of Dragon blood at his disposal, the Risen Son could theoretically accomplish anything. Have no fear, my son. The Emperor will be immediately informed.  Your role in gaining this information will be relayed in glowing terms. I am sure His Eternal Majesty will wish to reward you personally when you return to the material world. 

C: I-I-I'm … I'm honored Sir. 

Th: No need to look so terrified. His Eternal Majesty's attention will not stay upon you for long I imagine. You're… not his type.

C: muttered Thank the Chained One for that…

Th: What was that?

C: Nothing Sir! Nothing. I look forward to my audience.

Th: That's what I thought.

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Game 11 - The Gladiator
2,400 XP = Total 15,260 XP (Level 6)

Father, I don't know if you can hear me down here… I don't know if you can hear me at all, frankly, but what the hell. I'm in some pretty deep shit at the moment. I told you that I'd fallen in with some adventurer-types from Videha, and that they were apparently looking into the same ancient machine-ruins that the Emperor's people sent me and my team to explore. I told you how I joined their team to try to make good on my failed mission. After all, it wouldn't do to return to Ayodhya empty handed.

Well, after defeating the undead at this cool Archive of ancient high elves frozen in stone, we all headed into the deep desert. Our guide, Panja, took us a bit duskward of the Fist to check on the only settlement in the area known to accept guests, a village of the Forged called Coil. We arrived to find five Forged corpses and no sign of anyone else. Panja found an undead monstrosity of some sort buried at the botton of the weird sand pit at the center of the village. Uncle Xedris proved his worth again by pulling up some really obscure knowledge about an arcane experiment done some two and a half thousand years ago by a crazy wizard named Sathish, some sort of living abomination known as a "beholder", and how they were used as living weapons in Mithila's war against the Cult of the Risen Son way back then.

Gotta say, these guys work pretty well together. Uncle Xedris filled the pit with fog forcing the undead "beholder" to pop up where it could be seen by everyone. Damn, what an ugly thing. Panja summoned a storm and started blasting it with lightning. Saatvik rapidly identified the Forged corpses as Forged zombies which kept us from being surprised… in all, the fight went pretty well. I certainly did my part to help. When the undead beholder was finally killed, though, something really awful popped out of it… some sort of… not-quite-real undead spirit thing burning with blue fire. I risked revealing my true parentage with a bit of fire magic, but they didn't seem to notice, fortunately, and the thing was eventually dissipated. 

The Coil activated… apparently the pit was some sort of… portal? We were all too polite to inquire. Apparently most of the Forged had fled into it when the beholder and a swarm of undead scarabs attacked, but the beholder had some sort of magic-deadening ability that sealed the Coil and kept them trapped. Killing it released them. They were kinda pissed, of course, and seven of them joined our quest.

So far so good, right? Now we were 13 badasses heading to the Fist to take on the undead. We arrived and we scoped it out all patient and sneaky-like. I got to spend nearly two days in the company of Tavi Agarwal. I can't say I've ever really met a gnome before. She's really neat. We saw a party of six of the undead construct-things like we saw at the Archive leave with a big swarm of undead bugs. The next night we saw one of them leave with another swarm due dawn-ward. I have no idea what's in that direction. We figured now was the time to make our push, and in we went.

It was really creepy. Last time I was here undead poured out of the gaps in the plating on the Fist, but this time we clambered down the Arm and into the buried Titan without encountering anything… until we found the source of all those damn bugs. Apparently whoever is in charge around here captured one of the Suryan scarabs, like the one I saw at the Archive. It was bound to some elaborate machinery that forced it to lay eggs constantly while killing the baby scarabs with overdoses of necrotic energy. The big scarab was pretty fucked up looking. Panja tried to talk to it, but it was apparently a lost cause. We had to put it down… and then put it down again when it rose into undeath.

That's when we all started smashing the elaborate machinery, and waves of random magical energy started blasting around, and one of the waves hit me, and… um… my usual disguise fell, and everyone saw my red skin and my horns and my wings. I tried to play it off like "Oh no, that magical energy balefully polymorphed me into a demon-thing!" but apparently they weren't buying it. 

Jeez, you'd think these guys had never seen a Cambion before… well, maybe they haven't. I guess things are different in Videha. They freaked the fuck out, started threatening to kill me… I had lost my protection against necrotic and I was slowly dying while they interrogated me, which was frustrating, I mean, how could they possibly know if I was telling the truth or lying? Well, that is, until Saatvik cast a zone of truth. 

I told them I hadn't lied to them. I really was part of an expedition to find treasure in the Titan, I just hadn't mentioned who my boss's BOSS was. Yes, my expedition was hired by a guy who worked for a guy who worked for a guy who worked for the Emperor. I was actually pretty surprised at how negatively they viewed the Emperor. I mean, I get why Pandava was upset, but what did His Highness ever do to these guys? They seemed to think he was their personal enemy or something ridiculous like that. They sure spread a lot of anti-Ayodhyan propaganda around Mithila if these guys' reaction is anything to go by. I was seriously tempted to do another bug-out like I had to do when I lost my first team, but I was SO CLOSE. Eventually they agreed not to murder me, that my help might come in handy, that I genuinely want to find the source of these undead and destroy it, etc. etc.

But I gotta say, once we finish that, I'm not sure that these guys aren't going to just try to take me out. I might be seeing you sooner rather than later. Sigh. I hope I at least get SOMETHING I can tell the boss's boss. 

Anyway, I know there's not a lot you can do to influence Empire politics at the moment, but hey, I figure a kid can ask right?

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Game 10 - The Broken Alliance
2,300 XP = Total 12,860 XP

Great Mother,

I commune with you in this hour of darkness. Many of my stone charges have been shattered, my Archive assaulted and damaged, yet I live and my task remains before me. 

The Siblings came, leading a pack of gnolls who had given over their flesh as hives for undead scarabs. The Siblings wore different bodies than the ones you showed me in your memories, but it was unmistakeably them. The craft of their dread carcasses has improved, but not so much that they could not be defeated by a daring and dedicated assault by a small force familiar to the both of us.

It would seem that Sanjaya Pandava's companions returned rather sooner than anticipated, much to my good fortune. I will dedicate a drop of blood to Jyestha in recompense for her sister's favor. They slew the scarab infestation with the aid of Pandava's odd familiar then slew the remaining gnolls and the animate flesh constructs worn by the Siblings. They will return, of course… they always do. But hopefully this will inconvenience them somewhat.

They stayed with me for some time. Saatvik and Panja in particular were of great help in repairing the broken, although some will doubtless be unrecoverable… tiny fractures, flaws, breaks in vital parts too immediate to heal upon thawing. Still, much more could have been lost if not for them.

Their goal, however, was the Professor. They had questions, but feared the possession of the Emperor. After a good deal of care and elaborate precautions, it was deemed suitably safe for me to thaw him for a conversation. I commune with you now to convey what was learned, for it may prove vital to all enemies of the Eternal Solar Empire.

All know that the Emperor Rama I rules with immortal life beside a golden statue of his estranged wife Sita. All know that he claims immortality and refuses to bear an heir. Few believe he truly is immortal, for have not the gods forbidden such things? Are not the subjects of my very archive proof of the impossibility of true, living immortality? But Pandava claims otherwise. He tells a tale of a tribute granted once every century by one of the high noble families of Ayodhya consisting of a single handsome young high-elven man. They are told that they are being added to the Emperor's harem, for the Emperor refuses heirs, and so will only lie with men. They are told they will have a life of luxury, but will never again be part of the outside world. Indeed, they are never seen again. Pandava claims that he was such a tribute, and that his initiation into the harem, which he described in exquisite detail, was a highly ritualized arcane act of sex that seemed to bind his soul in some way to that of the Emperor. Pandava believes, although he hasn't the arcane knowledge to prove it, that the Emperor extends his life in this fashion, consuming the souls of his lovers. Pandava himself plotted and executed an escape from the harem that he had, until recently, believed was genuine.

It appears now that the Emperor let him go, a spy bound to his soul that he could possess at will across any distance. For more than a century the Emperor has been watching through his eyes, manipulating his deeds. Who knows how many more former lovers are unwitting spies throughout the Whorl.

I returned Pandava to stone. His companions rested and then set out into the deep desert to investigate the resurgent Cult of the Risen Son, the source of the attack upon the Archive. None of us know why the undead targeted me, nor why they seemed so interested in Pandava. We speculate a multi-faction power play in process, but the specifics remain occluded. I will update you should I learn more.

I Remain your devoted Daughter of the Sands

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Game 9 - The Forest
2000 XP = Total 10,560 XP

Great Mother of Night, Queen of Claws, Mother of us All, I beseech you!

Gnarl has led us astray! I see that now. He accepted the bargain with the scabrous twins from the Fist. He permitted them to use us as hives for their undead insects. I could feel them burrowing in my flesh, feeding on my life force, but the strength they gave us! It seemed so good at first, but you have shown me my error. 

Gnarl's lieutenant, Grazzit, kept me and seven of my brothers behind to guard the rear as Gnarl himself accompanied the scabrous twins to assault the Archive. I do not know what became of them inside, nor do I care. Your anger and fury has been made clear. Your sudden appearance amongst us caused confusion and consternation. Grazzit tried to convince us that your manifestation was some sort of trick, that the band of humans and elves that attacked us with ice and lightning and uncommon fury were playing on our loyalties with illusions, but your manifestation was so real, and spoke so directly to my heart that I could see only your wrath at our tribe's betrayal. 

As I fled, barely alive, feeling the black scarabs gnaw my flesh, I saw Grazzit burst into insects, along with others of my fallen brothers. I knew, then, absolutely, that the attacking band of humans and elves were your wrath made manifest, our punishment for making common cause with the Cursed Ones from the Fist. Even though I saw the young human they left behind with their camels, I feared even him, harmless though he appeared. Your wrath can hide in many guises and there was… something about him… that raised my hackles.

Please, Mother of Monsters, take these insects from my flesh, cut them from me and spare me the fate of my pack-brothers! I am the only one to survive. The attackers are doubtless even now preparing to cleanse the cliffside monastery. May Gnarl and the Twins find your justice at their cruel hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Game 8 - The Garden
2000 XP = Total 8560 XP

My Lord,

The Thar Desert Expedition is concluded, or at least all efforts have been made to ensure that the populace at large believes as much. The survivors have been lauded, feted, and rewarded for their discoveries. The Wizard's College has taken custody of the arcane slave collars used in the traitor Raj Sinhala's blood magic rituals, as well as the necrotic knife he used to such ill effect upon his loyal companions. The Bardic College of Lore retains possession of the Heart of the Titan, as well as the three Titan-control artifacts, but we both know that this nominal title means little. For all that the Expedition was funded by the Bardic College, they have not the means nor the expertise to unlock the secrets of these artifacts. I anticipate the Wizard's College will shortly possess them in fact if not in title or prestige.

As for Sanjaya Pandava, the official line is that he died a heroic death in pursuit of knowledge. His connection to Emperor Rama I and the fact that he may well have been inadvertently responsible for a century's worth of clandestine infiltration of the Kingdom is being suppressed. The Temple of Kali has been engaged to hunt down the Professor's various connections, assess them, and dispose of them if necessary. This has already resulted in some two-dozen deaths which I imagine your office will be hard-pressed to manage in the eyes of the public. I cannot promise the deaths will end soon, but I anticipate they will slacken significantly in the coming days as the guilty flee to deeper concealment and the obvious traitors are slain.

Nearly half of the dead so far are various menials and lesser underworld figures affiliated with the self-styled "adventurer" Shah Khan. It would appear that he had developed a significant information-gathering network within Videha and that he sold information to the highest bidder. I suspect Shah Khan is not a traitor in his heart so much as a mercenary beguiled by a possessed Professor Pandava's offer of great riches. Nevertheless, the Temple deemed this network a threat. It seems, however, that Tavi Agarwal has capitalized on Shah Khan's lieutenants' fear of imminent execution to seize the network for herself. Although she was chosen to accompany the Professor himself in the Expedition, her actions in staving off the Emperor's machinations and securing the Heart for Mithila puts her, currently, above suspicion. The Temple has moved on to other targets.

This brings me to the interesting problem of the Professor's surviving "Team Eka." All of them were hand-picked by an unwitting spy and unknowing traitor, yet their actions prevented Ayodhya's emperor's success. I wonder, now, whether Professor Pandava, in the depths of his subconscious mind, was aware that his hated former Emperor was manipulating him. I wonder if he made his choices, in part, to FOIL the plans with which he was not consciously aware. If so, ironically, these direct companions of the Professor's are the MOST trustworthy of the many associates he accumulated over the last century.

In any event, the decision has been made to send them out into the desert once more. Although we may be able to trust them, leaving them here in the political and social quagmire that is Videha would court unnecessary risks. Saatvik in particular, notwithstanding his increasing prestige within the Temple of Sarasvati, has something of a reputation for indiscretion. I fear what might casually drop from his lips concerning the Professor and the Emperor. Vinihata, although less incautious in some regards, remains an unpredictable element, and Panja is clearly uncomfortable in the city and craves a return to the desert. All this speaks to the wisdom of sending them out again as quickly as possible.

As for Xedris Thrannis, the revelation of his family surname is oddly comforting for our purposes, yet also a danger should he remain in the city. Until we've suppressed Ayodhyan infiltration, his assassination will always be a risk. I understand that sending him back out will necessarily curtail his studies within the Wizard's College, but I have taken some steps to ensure his education won't fall too far behind. As he studies the spellbook I've given him, his intelligence cannot help but grapple with the arcane problems therein, hopefully aiding him in his self-study.

I've consulted with “Arvind” and we agree that they would be best used investigating these rumors of the Cult of the Risen Son. If there is some truth to them, we would be well-advised to prepare for the threat they might represent. While these heroes of the Thar Desert Expedition publicly depart on that mission, Arvind will lead a more clandestine one to the third Titan location with the goal of plundering its Heart or rendering it unusable to Ayodhya.

Which brings me to one last detail. Saatvik was rewarded by his Temple with a Question of the goddess Sarasvati. He chose to use this question to inquire into the location of Ayodhya's secret Titan construction facility. He has provided that information to us. It would appear the Titan is being constructed below the surface of the Dawn Sea, nestled within the Greater Cut, rendering it relatively inaccessible from shore. It is currently unknown how the Emperor's experts and craftsmen get to the site let alone survive there in order to complete their work, but it is my hope that a more … targeted interrogation of the Imperial Scholars captured by the Expedition will reveal more. Our first priority should be to ensure the Emperor never gains control of a Heart, but failing that, we may need to prepare contingencies against the work site. I admit to some concern that Varuna or elements within his priesthood might be complicit in this. If so, there are divine implications far greater than what I'm equipped to assess.

May Mithila stand ever as a bastion of enlightenment,

“Alia”

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Game 7 - The Pyre
1120 XP = Total 6560 XP (Lvl. 5)

Transcript of Telepathic Field Report from Ministry Operative “Arvind”

Deputy Minister,

Operative “Alia” and I arrived on scene via wind-walk magic with Elenwe Two-Toes, Acolyte Gopa, and 8 Enlightened Knights where we rendezvoused with the four remaining members of Professor Pandava's team. The professor himself was bound, injured, and unconscious while Initiate Xedris “Somabhakta” was nowhere to be seen. Much to our relief there was no occupying force of Ayodhyan military. It would seem that the Viridian Hive of the Kreen fought off an expeditionary force buying us some time. Acolyte Saatvik was quick to fill us in on events since Elenwe had departed.

After some time spent interrogating the scholars brought into the desert from Ayodhya, the Professor and his team opted to enter the buried wreckage of the Titan of the Sun to ascertain if any systems or artifacts were salvageable. They encountered resistance. An ancient, undead Suryan priestess occupied the heart of the immense and ruined machine. She still held some control over the active power systems, more specifically the Heart of the Titan, a marvel of thaumaturgical craft that, it appears, the Eternal Solar Emperor himself is most invested in recovering. 

The Professor and his team succeeded in destroying the undead guardian and set to examining the artifact when suddenly an apparition of Rama I, Emperor of Ayodhya, manifested. He thanked Professor Pandava for being an unwitting fool for all these years. When asked by a shocked Professor Pandava why he would bother orchestrating Raj Sinhala's betrayal if it was entirely unnecessary, the Emperor reportedly said that it "amused" him to break the Professor's heart. The conversation as reported to me implies depths of interpersonal relationship previously unknown. Sadly, the conversation was cut short as Rama I "possessed" the Professor bodily. His first significant act was to turn to Xedris, disdainfully invoking his family name of "Thrannis", and invoke extravagant blood magic to pull Xedris bodily into Surya’s Prison using, apparently, thorned chains made of Xedris's own blood.

Although they had no chance of surviving a battle with a wizard as powerful as Rama I, the remaining four members of the team bravely sought to prevent him from successfully claiming the Heart of the Titan. Perhaps it was the idea of his expedition companions all standing on the cusp of death, or perhaps it was the risk that Vinihata would succeed in smashing the heart before it could be studied, but some part of Professor Pandava's will struggled to the surface. In his moments of lucidity, he begged his team to kill him, claiming that Rama I had, for an unknown number of years, been walking the streets of Videha in the Professor's body, assuming control when he believed he slept. The Professor rightly concluded he was an ongoing threat and needed to die.

Saatvik prayed to Sarasvati for insight, and opted instead to "kill" the Professor just long enough to drive out the Emperor before using his magic to stabilize him in an unconscious state. Saatvik claims the Professor still holds knowledge and secrets of value to the Goddess. Alia opines that the means by which Rama was able to possess the Professor would be invaluable intelligence for our efforts. Elenwe suggested a location previously discovered by the Professor's expedition, a place called the "Archive", where the Professor might be safely stored pending further investigation. I transported Elenwe, the unconscious Professor, his … unusual familiar, and Panja to the location of this Archive. You'll be fascinated to know that the "Archivist" is a member of a particularly rare, dangerous, and powerful Monster species known colloquially as a "medusa". Her "Archive" consists of ancient High Elves turned to stone. She turned the Professor into a statue for safekeeping. We spent the night in her Archive and departed the next day.

While we were gone, Alia worked with Saatvik and the others on attuning the Orb of the Titan reclaimed from the undead priestess and powering down the Heart so it could be safely removed. This process was still ongoing when I gathered the remaining four expedition members and gave them your proposal. I did not ask them to commit immediately, suggesting that first we must rescue Xedris from Surya's Prison. For all its terrible danger, the suggestion seemed to relieve them. Their commitment to their companion, who is by all accounts a somewhat stiff and unlikeable man, speaks strongly of the bond they have forged here in the desert, and confirms our decision to recruit them.

I prepared magic to protect them from the heat of Surya's Prison while Alia prepared to open the portal that would take us there. She used journals found in Xedris's effects as a focus to find him in the endless heat and chains and the five of us made a raid into hell.

We encountered Xedris's captor who I theorize was a Thrannis ancestor from the war, cast with his god into this place. The ties of blood between this ancestor and Xedris was what permitted the unfortunate wizard to be dragged bodily into this realm by chains of his own blood. We fought his captor and another, apparently incidental demon, and ultimately freed Xedris from his chains, dragging him back through the portal to the dig site.

Once Xedris has sufficiently recovered from his ordeal, I intend to bring the five of them back to Videha. They deserve accolades for their part in the sundry discoveries made, but I also want to debrief them in a more secure location and work out terms of service to the Ministry should they choose to join our efforts. My intention is to send them back into the desert to investigate the possible return of the Cult of the Risen Son. If there's an undead army massing out there we need to know about it. It seems that Tavi Agarwal is in possession of an item that permits the cult to communicate through dreams, and although dangerous, I thought it best left in their hands in case they could turn it to some positive use.

When next we speak it should be in person. I look forward to working with these five individuals again soon. 

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Game 6 - The Icelands
+800 XP = 5440 XP Total

001xa – mobility functions released, neural integration with crown-priest severed

001xb – combat functions released, neural integration with sceptre-priest severed

001xc - bridge systems offline, rerouting internal sensor data

002xa – thaumaturgical spectrography systems online

002xb – assessment: one blessed one = purity 85%, one blessed one = purity 67%, one blessed one = purity 3%, one baseline human = no purity data, one baseline human = incompatible theistic energies, one unknown morphological specimen

002xc – analysis – enemy collaborators / spies / agents infiltrating titan systems

002xd – activating coherent radiation field, deploying thaumaturgical field manipulation systems

errorerrorerror

003xa – thaumaturgical field manipulation systems offline, coherent radiation manipulation offline, enemy agents inbound

003xb – standing by for further orders

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Game 5 - The Blood Feud
+1440 XP = 4640 XP

Transcript of the Report of Elenwe Two-Toes, Enlightened Knight of the Royal University of Mithila, as received by the Provost-Elect of the Bardic College of Lore, Parts 5 and 6

After departing the Viridian Hive, we elected to pursue the traitorous graduate student Raj Sinhala. It was clear he was an agent of Ayodhya, and we considered the harm he might do if left unchecked to be more immediate than the concerns raised by the other sites.

Professor Pandava continued in his deep depression, although in this state many of his masks and veils were dropped. He admitted to being a warlock of the Archfiend, but claimed that such studies pre-dated his departure from the Eternal Solar Empire and his admittance to the University. He claimed not to know anything about the traitorous warlock Cinder. The primary focus of his despondence and rage, however, was Raj. I know how close the two of them were in recent years.

We made a stealthy approach to the site of the buried Titan of the Sun provided to us, as well as to Raj, by the Hive-Queen. Panja and Tavi engaged in stealthy reconnoitering while Xedris provided aerial intel with his familiar. We discovered a work camp of about a hundred people just beginning to excavate the site. It became fairly clear that Ayodhya had an expeditionary force on standby awaiting a signal from the traitor to move on the site. I was reminded of how strongly Raj pushed to be assigned to that particular prospective site, and it's geographical proximity to Ayodhya would now seem to be the evident reason.

Further reconaissance showed that about 75% of the force were slaves, being thrown bodily at excavating the necrotic sands to ill-effect on their health. The other 25% were assorted scholars, soldiers, and slave-drivers under the command of the traitorous Raj. Most of our party except for me and the Professor engaged in a "snatch and grab" attempt on two of the soldiers when they departed to forage. Unfortunately, this attempt resulted in an alerted camp. The Professor and I attempted to join the fight, but it was over before we arrived. 

Half the soldiery, along with the "famed adventurer" Shah Khan, attacked our smaller group. Fortunately, our druid used the terrain tactically to slow the charge and Vinihata incapacitated Shah Khan, stripping him of his various weapons and armor. We rendezvoused together and opted for a frontal assault on the remaining camp before they could organize. We left the incapacitated Shah Khan tied to a camel while we made our assault, which was perhaps not the wisest move. We also discovered that the soldiery all had brands on their left hands showing an obscure sigil of the House of Dasaratha… personal soldiers of Emperor Rama I

As we arrived at the camp, the slaves were all being herded out to the necrotic ruins of the mostly-buried Titan while everyone else was hidden inside tents. More soldiers emerged and distracted us while the warlock, Cinder, began slaughtering slaves in the distant ruins. It was at first unclear why until Raj himself burst from one of the tents wrapped in shadowy chains with eyes burning like coals. It was clear he was possessed by some infernal power. He ranted at Professor Pandava, seeming to connect him to the Emperor by ties of blood. As we engaged Raj in combat, it became evident that Cinder's distant slaughter was empowering Raj somehow, but Vinihata put himself at considerable personal risk to shred the ritual bindings in the rug upon which Raj stood. Although Raj lashed about himself with shadowy chains that appeared to cause significant mental trauma to all they struck, we eventually were able to put him down.

By the time Professor Pandava was able to grant us immunity to the necrotic energies so we could enter the dig site, Cinder was long gone. About half the slaves were slaughtered. We recovered the other half. They all had intricate collars entwined with mystic sigils. Xedris and Saatvik determined that these collars tied the slaves' life energies to the demon bound inside Raj. As they died they empowered him. Xedris collected all the collars for study. As you are aware, I was tasked, alongside the freed goblin druid prisoner named Tinpot, to deliver these unfortunate here to Videha. I trust suitable authorities are questioning them for any relevant or valuable information on the Empire.

In the aftermath of the battle, the Professor admitted that his distant ancestor was the brother to Rama I. He, like most scholars, seemed dubious at Rama's claims to immortality, but could not provide a satisfactory theory as to how the ruse is maintained. The Professor was most surprised to learn from the captured scholars that Rama I is apparently trying to build a Titan of the Sun from scratch, but that his thaumaturgists lack the knowledge to reconstruct a Titan's heart, the power-source and engine that runs the thing. This was the purpose of the expedition and the betrayal. They wanted to take advantage of Professor Pandava's obsessive research in order to steal a Titan's heart. 

The Professor, as well as the remaining members of Team Eka, have established themselves at the site of the Titan. He requests that the University send support staff and manpower to aid in its excavation. 

You sent me on this expedition partly because of suspicions about Professor Pandava. Those suspicions seemed well-founded. Nevertheless, despite learning that he's a minor warlock of the Archfiend, and that he's a part of the royal family of Ayodhya, nothing the Professor has said and done contradicts his insistence that he is an exile from the Eternal Solar Empire, dedicated to the scholarly pursuit of uncovering the pre-war Empire's culture and art. The ranting of the traitorous Raj even seemed to confirm that Emperor's desire that the Professor "return to the fold," something the Professor was clearly unwilling to do.

Although these revelations canno help but impact Professor Pandava's reputation, he has yet to demonstrate that he is a spy or an enemy of the state. The academic value of his find cannot be underestimated. I recommend that the College, and the greater University, provide him the funding and manpower he requests, especially considering the site's proximity to Ayodhya.

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Game 4 - The Secret Tryst
+1140 XP = 3200 XP

The Memory of Zz'tak'szin, Queen of the Viridian Hive of the Three Hives of the Kreen

Despite my long memories, and the memories of my mother and her mothers before her, I think I will never fully comprehend the strange blindness through which those not of the People live their lives. A small clutch of them came before me some days ago thanks to the well-meaning introductions of the druid of the land who walked among them who named himself Tan Viper. 

This druid did little of the talking, however. Their clutch-leader was a half-breed elf of the sun with darkness in his heart. He spoke of his hive-leader, a great scholar of the sun elves named Sanjaya Pandava, who sought knowledge of the ancient Titans of the Sun on behalf of the Kingdom of Mithila, and who had sent him, a loyal student and aide, to seek the long-memories of me and my mothers.

Behind his face hid lies. Few of my people are capable of comprehending true deceit, but I am not among them. I saw his disloyalty to this Pandava. I saw that he had loyalties elsewhere yet kept them hidden. Nevertheless, the nearest Titan is little more than twisted wreckage buried in sand, and so I gave him what he wanted, yet I sent my warriors to watch their departure carefully for clues to their intentions.

No sooner did they believe themselves beyond my sight then their leader and two confederates, the demon-born warlock and the self-important showman, stabbed Tan Viper with vicious weapons, slaying him near-instantly. Given that moment in which to attempt to defend himself, their fifth companion, a young human with eyes of the Land, was not taken so swiftly by surprise. It seems, though, that their leader, who named himself Raj Sinhala, stabbed him with a blade of the night and left him to bleed with a message for Pandava revealing his treachery and his loyalty to the accursed Solar Empire.

Once the betrayers left, at my direction, my warriors retrieved the wounded human, Arjuna Tenarrows, tended him as best they could, and brought him to the place of human trading, the ruined city of Sarya, to see if this Pandava or others of his hive would return. This plan was successful. Pandava and more of his hive came to Sarya, discovered Arjuna's fate, healed him through the unusual intermediation of a Great Scarab, and were invited to speak with me.

The news of Raj's betrayal struck Pandava hard, or so I deem from our eventual meeting. Their journey was not without incident. They were ambushed by ankhegs and were thoughtful enough to gift me with a jar of ankheg honey upon arriving at my Hive. Pandava and his six companions spoke with me. They had among them another druid of the Land, an earth-elf named Panja, who spoke most eloquently. Pandava himself seemed listless until I and the other sun-elf in their number, Xedris, drew him out on the subject of why he sought the Titans. He became animated about restoring the culture, civilization, and art of the pre-war Eternal Solar Empire, this time free of the corruption of Surya. I saw the truth in his words which offset my suspicions upon seeing the chains of the Betrayer wrapped about his spirit. It would seem his companions were ignorant of the chains, however, for when I offered them the boon of my long memories and insight, the devotee of the River Goddess asked about Pandava, and I told him this his hive leader was a warlock tied to the Archfiend. This seemed to be new information for him and his companions, but Pandava made no effort to deny it.

I showed them a memory of the fall of a Titan in the last days of the War and spoke to them about the dangers of repeating history. We shall see how many of my words remain in the short, foggy memories of their people. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of our meeting, I deem these members of Pandava's hive to be more trustworthy than the previous clutch. I wish them fortune in cleansing the sour clutch from their midst.

 

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