Living Mystara: Red Arrow, Black Shield

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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Death, Taxes, and Lady Vega
The city's new tax code comes out...
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Back into Town
Morella, Marcellus' "sister", tours Vega with a young escort...
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Do No Harm
The epilogue of the Habrok, Tonerus disappears...

Tonerus dispelled the overloading voidstone, casting a disjunction into the breach. The air tore open, snarling intertwined energies formed an umbilicus between the Glantrian’s outstretched hand and the pulsing stone. He was speaking, shouting into a gail that destroyed all sound, his voice lost in the screech. He was obviously in pain. The world went blinding white, then black…

Marcellus awoke in the master bedroom of the Hillock estate. The sleeping and intertwined bodies of the children- Audrey and Calen Jr., all of Azul’s children, piled on the bed, or the couches, or asleep in the overstuffed chairs. The remains of food and drinks, as if from a party, were on the bedside table and on the trestle tables around the edges of the room. Galenraug sat, legs extended protectively across the doorway, in a rocking chair in the corner. Harley, with her black boots crossed on a stool, was reading one of Tonerus’ books. Dominos sat, expressionless, with Rouge asleep under one arm.

The most immediate questions, “what happened on the Habrok”, “how did we get back to Hillock”, “where are the others”, were lost at Marcellus’ elation just to be home. Apparently, judging by the aftermath, they’d received a fond homecoming.

Harley spoke up first, expressing an amused confidence that she knew they would return, and glad that “grandma Marcellus” was beginning to really take her words to heart. Her direct foil, Dominos, only rolled his eyes at her, nursing a tea as Rouge dozed next to him in the high-backed leather chair.

Marcellus asked if Dominos was taking good care of his sister, who was inseparable from him, it seemed. Dominos remained adament that Rouge was doing well, and that their shared trauma had brought them closer, made them more kindred. Rouge remains vague about what exactly happened to her with Anju, and he has not attempted to pry in any… unconventional ways. Marcellus, sensing Dominos’ stonewalling, reiterated her responsibility in what happened. “If you need someone to blame, someone to be angry with, blame me.” As always, the uncomfortably logical 8 year-old responded that neither Marcellus nor Delan were to blame, and that the Cardinal would have gone to any lengths to get hold of him, irregardless. He knew who his disdain should be directed at.

Marcellus repeated her offer, only to draw Harley’s sharp denouncement to “stop taking all the blame, stop taking everything on by yourself!” This sent Dominos storming from the room. He left just as Flora and Fauna came in to check on the “aftermath”, as Flora described it. When asked by Marcellus which way Dominos went, Flora and Fauna both said they saw noone leave the room. Harley then climbed up to be with Marcellus in the bed, as Flora and Fauna offered to push back breakfast and let everyone sleep off the the previous night’s festivities.

The compound came alive late, but returned to its schedule as usual. Word of the group’s return quickly passed from the servants to the outside gardeners to the Hillock citizenry, and before late afternoon, word had reached the Constable of Vega and the the office of the Thane in Hillock. For the almost 2 weeks they had been gone, the two had fielded numerous questions, urges to investigate their disappearance, and to give any insight into the appearance of the “great bird of prey” that appeared in the mountains over the East wall of the city. Was it a great predator bird, was it natural, a product of some terrible magic or vindictive mage? When it then became circulated that the Heldannic Order used such bird-shaped airships, panicked citizens began a new string of questions, directed again at the Thane and the Chief Constable- Was it the Heldanns? Did they have Lady Vega and the others? Is the precursor to an act of aggression, a scouting party for an invasion? When tradesman from the Traladaran states mentioned that there existed a tacit pact between Hule and the Order over trade, many began to put things together, and so another, grand conspiratorial line of questioning now began to bombard the offices of Hillock and Vega- Is the Master and Heldann colluding? Have the two fanatical religious groups somehow seen eye-to-eye on combining forces, spreading the rule of Bozdagon and the Church of Vanya across all the Civilized South? Sindhian riders, Hulean mameluks, and Heldannic warbirds, together as an unstoppable force from land and air, could be waiting for the signal to attack. Perhaps this was only the beginning?! Where were the soldiers? Why had no one gone to the Defense League with this, or to Thyatis? Certainly only a coalition NOW could save Vega, the last bulwark against a joint-axis movement into the South, from being completely overrun by the Master’s agents already in Western Darokin! Where was the army??

…Chief Constable Stefen Maevik did not show it openly as he rode for Hillock, but he could have leaped for joy when he heard the news, and Thane Hintor Crownvetch, also on his way by carrier dog, certanly would have done the same. At least now, the more ludicrous fringes of the town would be silenced, and they could enjoy a moment’s peace.

Marcellus sat in the inner parlor of the compound with Galenraug and Morella, when both Thane Crownvetch and Chief Constable Maevik were shown in. Stefen entered first, giving his thanks for their safety, and reiterating the official statement that he, along with Marcellus’ representatives at the compound, had concocted- indisposed by health issues, the Lady Vega was not accessible, and as they are in no way indentured to her, the other members of her usual entourage come and go at their pleasure, being active and of the “adventurous persuasion”. But this had done little to dissuade people’s growing fears, or deepening imaginations, pertaining to the appearance of the warbird from the East. Now that he knew all was safe, the Constable, for reasons of public safety and his own wounded pride at being unable to provide any feeling of safety or answers to the public, requested a report. But in his usual professional manner, Maevik reiterated that anything redacted or withheld, as he knows from experience with Marcellus and the others, is likely just as much for the general safety, if only he can be assured there is no danger for Vega or its people.

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