Living Mystara: Red Arrow, Black Shield

The Eyes of Leviathan
The Magister of Stygia returns...

Receiving a true name of a soldier devil recovered in the North Reaches, the results of a long operation by the rogue aspect Chevalier and the Arcane Edge’s Gogeles and Shifter-XIII, Marcellus prepares to go directly to the source against the influx of fiendish activity. Invoking the gelugon ice devil into a dimensional anchor within the compound, Lady Vega interrogates the devil, discovering it has been feeding particularly well- its body swells with teeming souls. Standing by, or at least laying propped up nearby, a weakened Tonerus prepares to unsummon or counter the monster. Outside, Smithee and the other dwarven masons stand by with weapons drawn.

The overfeeding, evolving devil threatens to break its planar bindings, making use of the environment in an effort to degrade the magic circle. It reveals the mark upon it, its master- a set of great eyes within infernal pictographs resembling a set of insectoid pincers. Working through the conduit, the owner of the mark (none other than the Magister of Stygia, Erridon Alaka) lays waste to the gelugon and the chamber as he attempts to obliterate Marcellus with a cascade of magic. Tonerus is able to not-so-much turn as redirect the locus of the spell mantle, woven into the ice mantis’ carapace and soul shell (which in turn consumes it), sending the magical potential arcing through the roof, the Hill, and out into the open air where it tears through the atmosphere and parts the clouds.

Alaka makes his disdain evident, and his confidence supreme, as he taunts the heroes from beyond the Astral. Their efforts cannot stop his bid to power, and the Eyes of Leviathan see all in Its dream of the world. Soon It will wake, and swim every sea that has been prepared for It by the servants of Levistus. Cold and black ice will precede the rapture of waking memories sacrificed to Lotan in the name of the great Beast who knows no fear.

Marcellus’ response is appropriately hers: “we’re still here.”

Immediate news is sent back to the North, and Marcellus once again laments the loss of her imported wood-paneled interior walls…

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Twilight Visitors
Gylgarid foiled, Tonerus recovers

Marcellus, Edric, and Tephis ascend from the Vega sewers in the Southern Runs, and immediately flee back to In Repose. Tephis is severely reproached for his reckless action in stealing the ancient (metallic) scroll from Gohji and the Order of Gylgarid while they were in the Vault of the Cynidicean.

Then the siege began. Edric’s defensive runes immediately detected a hostile invader on the edge of the property, and a clairaudience rune quickly confirmed that the Order had found them. With a dozen cult members, and presenting a family of terrified citizens, abducted in the middle of the night, for the party to witness, Gohji threatened to begin killing them if the document was not returned.

In desperation, Marcellus/M unraveled the scroll, to learn exactly what Gohji’s Order so desired. It immediately began to reconstruct itself, playing out an effective visual capture of Tarthis, the capital of the Dark Nithian Kingdom on the eve of its fated destruction at the hands of the Spell of Oblivion. Floored by the portent of the discovery, the party attempted to use the recording of the scroll, which could be interacted with as a real-time projection, to scroll across the city and perhaps find any clue that could determine who or what was the architect of the SoO, and thus of the Red Curse. Then the scroll began to “talk”, to “perceive”, and to act. It began to defend itself, and its timeless “defenders” soon arrived.

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Blade of Oblivion

The Summer Solstice celebrations are about to commence. Both members of the Black Stockings and the Regency attend Marcellus’ festivity at her estate. Galenraug and Tonerus intervene in what they think on is an attempt on Marcellus’ life- the real threat reveals itself as the two are put out of position as the blacked cloaked and ethereal being attacks and wounds Marcellus with an ancient and obviously poisoned weapon. Tonerus is grievously injured, having his throats cut as Galenraug pursues the assailant only find that his blades have no effect. Only after drawing out his own life energy to form the Leshaye blade can Galenraug injure the figure, who retreats out into the lane and vanishes.

Pouring more of his own energy into Tonerus to save him, Galenraug is unable to fully heal the wounds. Tonerus remains touch-and-go as he is taken inside and prepared to be moved into Vega. It is revealed that while her injury is light, Marcellus has suffered memory loss as a result of the attack. The recovered blade is discovered to be Nithian, and contains vermeil- the essence of the Red Curse.

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Celebration and Mourning
The party reunites

Festivity to commemorate the sign of Bellgold breaks out in the temple, and Bella leads a large consummation ritual (read: Bachalava) that goes into the wee hours of the night. The flood that spilled out of the temple restored those injured by the assassin, whose cloak is presented by Galenraug and Jahari. Though unsubstantiated, Galenraug is almost certain it belongs to an agent of the Second Shadow.

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Mausillus' Vision

Mausillus “dies” as Morella desperately fights off the two Yochlol that come to take him away to the Pits. In the final moments, an aspect of Lolth attempts to tempt Marcellus’ fiendish half away from her charge. Failing that, she overpowers Morella and proceeds to drag Mausillus’ soul across the aether into the Lower Planes. At the last, the soul of the priest, Father Maxus Buttle, appears to Mausillus and effectively baptizes him, renewing his soul and casting off the tainted legacy of Aurunshee/Lolth that has cursed her people and damned their souls. Mausillus is transformed, both physically and spiritually. The powerful geas of the ToL’s vengeance blade consumes Mausillus’ soul, and as the gleaming Elven presence vanishes with a final benediction, the Father in essence merges with Mausillus, becoming the substance of his new soul.

At the same type, Mausillus’ spirit becomes an immoveable redoubt to the aspect, who founders in her effort to pull him to the other side. She no longer has any power over this new spirit.

Bellgold/Brendellari’s aspect, tied to the Shot in the Dark (his hand crossbow artifact), appears and finishes Lolth with a single shot, the last bolt, from the crossbow. She is banished back to the Demonweb Pits. Only able to haltingly explain (as he’s unsure himself) that the incredible power of the presence within Mausillus must have tenuously strengthened his tie to the temple, Brendellari is able to remain long enough to restore the purifying fountain. Not at full potency, the fountain can still put forth 15 drops of the curative water in a day

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The Tree Withers
Ur-Priests in Vega, and the TOL comes under attack

Marcellus and Jahari, leaving the Godsway tenements and the Man in Gold, take note of his foreign allies with their carriages arrayed around his home.

In the Godsway Proper, they encounter mass ceremonies and rites, processions, and a mass oath of penance by rag-dressed priests through the middle of the square- all of it fallout from the terrible happenings of the last three days. They also witness the efforts of another faction, the Ur-Priesthood, proselytizing atheism and the self-reliant teaching of Gerath the prophet. They are led by a former bishop of Ixion, Chevras.

After their debate with fellow Ur-Priests/lovers Shondra and Varkas, Marcellus and Jahari proceed to the Canolborath Gardens, where they meet the Elven caretaker Weatherlight..

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Prelude to the Final Act
The actors assemble, the fated hour approaches...
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Smoke in the Cloisters
initially unrelated events and parties have crossed paths with each other.

As they prepare to leave the Trade Consortium, Lotho and “Lady Vega” are rocked by a series of tremors that run through the city. They get clear of the Circle and into the open city long enough to see a plume of dust and smoke begin to rise from the Western part of the city in the Godsway, originating at the West Works of the enormous Solar Temple. Only a moment later, another, thin ribbon of black smoke begins to rise in the East, coming from the affluent Darokinian “estates” district, also known as the Brick Way. Stopping one fleeing man, a former servant during the days of the Barony, Morella hears the words that will guide the fear of the rest of the mass- “it’s the Curse! It’s returned!”

No sooner does a collective pause and shock grip all the hundreds of bystanders, then slow-churning clouds of red ash begin to mix up in the smoke spilling from the West Works. Shock quickly turns to panic as Morella and Lotho, astride Ambrosia, sprint the 5 or so blocks between the Market district and Godsway Tenements, now a stampede of terrified hundreds surging away from what their frantic overtures now concur- the Red Curse.

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An Old Woman's Hands
Morella heals Tonerus' landlady, and learns a lesson...
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