Gloriana

The Council of Nails
Chapter Three, Episode 2

Leaving the Meteora

With their latest victory over Zonthul, spirits were high. Now it fell to our heroes to protect Nabac An’Angren and Helena von Borgondhi from Mairg’s wrath. They departed the Meteora and began their journey back to the Tower of Nails.

As they passed along the Bulwark mountains, Tyrandriel had uneasy dreams. The ground opened beneath his feet, a purple fog rose up towards him, and a figure of rippling glass rose to confront him. He met its challenge, bending the dreamscape around himself, refusing to abide by the mysterious presence’s rules. The figure revealed itself as Komru, the Dokkalfar Sage, leader of their people. He called Tyrandriel to Skuljt Grotto to train in the arts of Oneiromancy, and fulfill his destiny as the next Dream Warden.

The Oppression of Fernsby

The Band of Iron came next to the town of Fernsby, where first they’d met Bordul Farraud and encountered the Dokkalfar. Townsfolk suffered at the hands of Serell the Allegiant, a brash young knight eager to please Warrick and King Ralzemon by raising money for the invasion of Marchen at his peoples’ expense.

Seeing the cruel treatment and outrageous taxation, and the abuse by the Mercenaries occupying the town, the Band of Iron resolved to free Fernsby from Serell’s control. They met Tilly Carosi who was already there seeking to unravel the knight’s power. They agreed to work together, and continued on their way.

Dreams and Truth

It was then that Tyrandriel and Mo Rel parted ways with the Band of Iron, traveling to the ravine of the singing ferns and plunging into the darkness of Skuljt Grotto. Tyrandriel went to begin his training with Komru, while Mo Rel worked side by side with Dokkalfar smiths. With their help, she forged the bones of Zonthul into a sword, wrapped in his scales, and set with a shining citrine stone. They wove magic over it, sinking deep into marrow itself, so the gem would glow when invisible creatures lurked nearby and the blade would buzz when pointed towards them. When the spells were complete and the sword was ready, Mo Rel named it Veritas: Truth.

For the cleric of the Laughing God, the next two weeks would test the mettle of his will, subjecting his mind to deception, terror, and rigorous discipline. Komru was a relentless taskmaster, infiltrating and manipulating his dreams at every moment until the young Oneiromancer learned to sniff out and counter these attacks. In time, he found a moment of silence, where he was alone in his own mind. Well—almost alone. The ashen spectre of Marcus Rilani, the First Dream Warden, came to him, as confused as Tyrandriel.

At last Tyrandriel and Mo Rel emerged back into the light, a new sword at the side of one, and the Power of Oneiromancy in the hands of the other.

The Council of Nails

So did the Band of Iron reconvene at their stronghold, the Tower of Nails. Their allies and loyal vassals had gathered from across the Northern Kingdoms, eager to aid the cause of bringing peace between Borgondhi and Marchen.

There was much to attend to—their Chamberlain, Frederic Arcistoth, noted that the treasury needed tending to. Seeking aid in training their guards and leading the army they would surely need to raise, the Band of Iron turned to Jurian Dunlan, enlisting him as their Constable and swearing to help him recover his rightful fief. Helena von Borgondhi took on the role of Chancellor, and settled in at the tower to begin plying the nobles of the realm. Remembering her sharp wit, network of contacts across the land, and penchant for getting local stories, they entreated Tilly Carosi to join as their Spymaster, a task she was eager to take up. Finally, to manage matters arcane, they selected Nabac as their Magus.

However, the Huldra sorcerer could not abide the curse of the Tower of Nails. To stock their treasury for the struggle to come, and to secure a hidden redoubt where Mairg’s magic could not find them, the Band of Iron dispatched Botulf Arcistoth to find the enchanted valley of Zonthul’s lair. His treasure, and his lair, would be theirs.

View
Interlude -- The Garden of the Gods
Interlude

A thousand stars looked up at themselves, from the glass-still waters of a silent lake. One tree blossomed at its heart, its fruit dripping with golden nectar, its boughs alive with golden light. Marble walls rose all around, to shield this secret garden from the eyes of gods and Giants. And by the unrippling waters there stood five knights, all shining, all gleaming, all cloaked in cloud-stuff, all armed with thunder.

First, with coiling streams for a cape, with a sword swift as the tide, a helm crowned in silver, plate that stretched like the hide of a great manta, the Knight of the Waves. Water streamed about her as a shield, and her eyes bore the terrible power of the tides.

Second, burning bright as the tree at the garden’s heart, crowned in a helm of five glorious rays, emblazoned with the phoenix’s sign, arrayed in light and bearing a sword of blinding fury, the Knight of the Sun, an instrument of wrath and judgement.

Third, as dark as her compatriot was bright, masked and hooded, silver-shrouded, third-eye brimming with held-back light, the Knight of the Moon, the quiet killer, the secret servant.

Fourth, full-helmed, eyeless and burning, with axe ablaze and fire in hand, the Knight of Flames, Divine Executioner, Mystic Master and Inexorable Punisher.

And last, in silence, was the Knight of the Winds. Plumes sliced from the wings of a Cloud Ray blew back from his helm. Green enamel glistened from his peerless armor, inlaid with gold. An azure stone burned in the pommel of his sword, whose metal was forged on the anvils of the storm giants, whose grooves hummed with lightning, whose clashing was thunder. A cloak woven of all four winds, invisible, hung from his shoulders. He watched, and though his eyes were clear beneath his helm, his heart trembled in time with a name spoken far below.

Three thunders broke upon the horizon. Three thunders rumbled in their hearts. Three thunders roared into their silence, the three-fold will and wrath of God.

There was the thunder of titan hammers striking swords of lightning, each blow against a night-black anvil echoed in the hearts of giants and mortals alike. There was the thunder of a beating heart, a titan flame burning in desperation, and though its screams were silenced, they shook the bones of those who fed upon them.

And at last, the thunder of the Voice of God, whose will was born upon the wind. Marble walls bellowed and the sky itself spoke. The waters of that secret lake resisted, withstood, then yielded up a single ripple that broke the mirror surface of the stars. All five knights knelt in deference.

THE KIN OF YOUR BIRTH GROW PETULANT

THEY WOULD TRESPASS AGAINST HEAVEN

TEAR THE CURTAINS I SET TO SHIELD THEM

DEFILE THE PATHS I BUILT TO WARD THEM

DARKEN THE LIGHTS I LIT TO GUIDE THEM

CHILDREN OF MY CHOICE, GO UNTO THEM

LEAD MY OFFSPRING AND HUMBLE THEM

CONFOUND AND OVERTHROW THEM

FOR THE DEFIANCE OF MY OWN BLOOD

MUST BE EVER REPAID WITH THEIRS

The echo of the Voice of God remained in their bones and their hearts as they rose to their feet. Five knights raised their eyes to the piercing stars above, stars that burned without clouds or skies to dull them. The marble gates of the garden opened, and beyond it lay the palaces of Terranimbus. They heard the trumpet of mighty horns, the bellowing of titan warriors, drums made from elephant hides.

Their own kin, the Knights of Terranimbus, awaited them, and as their vanguard, the feckless children of Vindur—shadows that loomed above their heads, great bristling shapes with clubs like trees, spears like lightning, whose fists fell like catapult stones.

Last of them all, the Knight of Winds, hesitated as his legions knelt before him. He looked over his fellow mortals, armed for war against the kingdom below. He sniffed the air and the foul musk of giants, pacing and waiting for the call to arms, met him. In his mind, he stood at the edge of a tower, a mortal at his mercy, fear in their eyes.

But all of that fell aside. God had called him to war. God willed it. And if God willed it, so did he.

View
Warden's Respite

There are warm, lazy mornings where though you rise from bed, the heavy covers never seem to leave you. The air itself is a blanket, sounds are softened, the world is still and doesn’t come inside. Days when the fire crackles though there’s snow outside, summers where the sun pours in through the windows, springtimes when you’ve slept late and the morning’s nearly over.

So it was inside. Tyrandriel rose with a snap, greeted by silence. It was warm and bright, a soft light that came in from the rooms beyond. For the first time in an eternity he was alone—truly alone. He rolled out of bed with a yawn, but the feather-stuffed bed didn’t make a single ruffling sound. Bare feet scuffed the wood floors, oddly soft and warm, silent.

It was another dream, of course—like so many places in dreams, the cottage was intimately familiar, yet Tyrandriel had never seen it before. A glance outside the cottage showed him the spires and honeycombed caverns of Skuljt Grotto, bathed in the bright lights and soft shadows of an impossible morning. But the stillness of the air told him that none of his relentless mentors had followed him. The sage, Komru, could hide anywhere in his mind, weaving traps and challenges into memories and visions alike, threatening, chasing and testing his strength of will. But in this place, the dokkalfar had not followed him.

In all the stillness there were three sounds—the beating of his own heart, the rise and fall of his lungs—carryovers from the Waking World beyond—and a faint ringing hum. It sounded like the morning light was passing over the rim of a crystal chalice, pure and soft.

The door to his bedchamber, a small, cozy room with furs on the floor, a silent fireplace by the wall, wine, plush chairs, and tokens of his faiths—all of them—lay open. The half-elf had to bend his neck to pass through into the hall beyond. Down a long, narrow passage of dark wood he came into a great dining chamber. The table was shoved up against the wall, plates of leftover food from a grand feast lay strewn about, and the glass windows that ran from floor to lofty ceiling were shuttered—except for one.

Morning light streamed through at a sharp angle. Motes of dust floated motionless in the ray of sun, as still as though the air itself was holding its breath. In all the room not a single thing moved, but hanging in the beam was a single, shining, circle of golden glow: a coin, bearing the half-smiling, half-sorrowful mask of the Laughing God. Light and sound rang out from this single glimmering beacon.

Long strides crossed the distance, silent still, and Tyrandriel paused in the comfortable shadows. A piece of his mysterious birthright floated before his eyes, caught in a timeless moment. And as he gazed, standing mirror-like across from him, another shape looked also.

It was a crumbling mass of grey white flakes, a maddened whipping froth of dry ashes, caught in a thousand winds, blowing a thousand directions. It was like a man-shaped figure of light in a room filled with swirling dust, illuminating only part of the storm. Gray and gaunt, flickering but motionless, it stared at the golden coin.

Then, with halting caution, it stretched out a dissolving appendage into the ray of light. The blurry approximation of a hand opened, palm up, beneath the gift of the Laughing God. Gazing at Tyrandriel, the eyeless shape tilted what should be its head, a voiceless question, a silent inquiry.

And the coin began to fall.

What do you do?

View
Freedom for Fernsby
Chapter 3 Episode 2

Adventure Summary

  • Treasury Start: -172.16 gp
  • Treasury End: 1,153.47 gp
  • Item Crafted: Eye of Zonthul
  • Item Crafted: Veritas
  • Hirelings Recruited: Dunlan Rebels (40)
View
Interlude--Triumphant Apocrypha

In the forbidden library of the Meteora, the Band of Iron found books written at the time of the church’s founding, but not familiar to any scholar. They took these tomes for further study.

The first work details the journey of Blessed Child and her companions across the sands of Sharan and to the distant jungles of Danoks, a chapter not recounted in the main tales of Our Triumphant Family. One passage that stands out is recorded below.

Before the child a path of light interwoven appeared, of reds and blues and every shade of glory. It wound between all worlds known and unknown, in places untold of in mortal ken. Every color of the serpent’s feathers were found there, and at the voice and flute of the singer it danced. Asked the child, “Where does this way lead?”

Laughed the singer, “To Thunder’s court and beauty’s fonts, to moonlit lodges and dragon’s bones, to sandy spires and sleeping groves. Through fairy lands and somber halls. To cities silent and places dark, far above the stars.”

Blood was shed into the Pools of Fire where the Dokkalfar stand vigil, and parted in silence before the silver song. Dread of the Wyrm’s thunder chased after them. Valerian, grim of countenance, his flesh turned sepulchral where the desperate shades grasped him. With ancient chords the Singer granted him succor, and lifted a burning mark from his eyes. When hung the sky oer their heads, burning strongest against the vault of heaven, then did the Silver Singer bless the child with Valerian’s sign, Dragon of Brightest Noon.


The Annotated Mordavian Transcripts

Came to the Dokkalfar Grotto a man of gold. He came up from the Pools of Fire and was set upon by the deep watchers. In his arms a shade clinging to flesh, a daughter woven of gossamer and glass. They saw he was made of flesh and gold, not a spirit or devouring demon. How was it he came from below, unheard and unlooked for?

(Pools of Fire—the Sovereign Wells are the very roots of the Underworld, below even the realms of Ramius and the Dead. It is likely Taras returned from his quest via the Well of Fire.)

I am TARAS, said he, and I have come from the Gates of Death. I tore them from their hinges and conquered Death, and I return with my daughter. Let none prevent me. Said the watchers, all the kingdoms have heard the din of the wrenching gates. We will not prevent you. Speak with the Sage and rest.

(The Gates of Death—literal reference. Ramius’ underworld, conquered by Chaun during the time of the Bale, was in Taras’ time and is to this day surrounded by great Marble Walls, held by an Adamantine Gate, and guarded by the Charnel Hound. The legends hold that Taras slew the hound in combat to gain passage).

A meal was set before TARAS and his daughter, who ate but little. The Sage saw that TARAS was filled with fire and light. A new day comes, said he, for you are the Dragon of the Brightest Noon. When Dusk, Night and Dawn are born anew, what will you become? Said TARAS, my people are beset by the King of Storms and his sons, the Four Winds. I will overthrow them as I have overthrown Death.

_(Dragon of the Brightest Noon—born of Gold Dragon and Mortal Kind, this may be a literal reference. The King of Storms of course refers to Vindur, Sovereign of the Skies, and his Knights of Terranimbus, whose chieftains are the Four Winds)

Ours is the Moonless Night. We know the deep ways and the secret paths, the Road of Seven Veils and the Root of Sorrow. If you learn the Dragon’s song, you will walk the four worlds as one—but there will be no new covenant if you do not heed the Dokkalfar, who keep the Pools of Fire, the Scintillating Path, and the Fifth Kingdom, said the Sage

(The Fifth Kingdom—when the Dawn World ended, the Divine Will of the Gods of Before coalesced into the Otherworld and the Alfar’s pockets of creation, but the DIvine Vision of the ancient deities was not included in this plan. It became the Fifth Kingdom, the Worlds of the Dreaming. Many accounts of fairies and other entities haunting mortal dreams exist, and witches/other practitioners have shown the power to reach out through this world.

True Oneiromancy, however, is exceedingly rare)

We walk the world of Mortals. The Sky Kingdom makes war upon us. I have sundered the gates of the Underworld, and the Fair People keep their ways secret. I have the counsel of Silver-Clad Jonil and the wisdom of the DARASTRIX. Yet of kingdoms I know four, said TARAS.

Paths of mind and wandering, barred to the children of Dusk, Dawn and Night. Enshrouding all as a mist, bending to the wills of the learned, flowing through all kingdoms, reaching into the shadows of the soul. A fog that conceals us from Beyond the Stars. You walk the land at night without seeing your own feet.

Three paths are there to the Fifth Kingdom. First is the Scintillating Path, the Secret of the Sage. It is barred by ash and embers. The Path of Seven Veils winds through all kingdoms. TARAS Golden asked of the Path of Seven Veils. It is all that remains of Seosh and Seosha, who battled each other beyond the Seventh Gate. Now it winds between the worlds, invisible to the unlearned, perilous to the unwise. It is kept by the Queen of Stars and the King of Storms, your foe.

(Scintillating path—uncertain, may not be historical. See note below on the relationship between prophecy and record among the Dokkalfar)

(Path of Seven Veils—obvious link to the tale of Seosha, Dragon Queen of Sharan. Unlikely to refer to her Shining Path connecting the Northern Kingdoms, Pearl Sea, Sunswept Lands and Dragon Lands together. Texts of Ison Siranox likely contain more information, or primary sources in Sharan itself).

TARAS Golden asked of the Root of Sorrow. A tree grew in the Fifth Kingdom, with roots that spread beyond the stars. They drank from pools of suffering and grew fat on hate’s carrion. But the Phoenix came to roost in its boughs, and burned it to ash. The dead roots remained, never growing, ever mouldering, wound between the kingdoms. Who wears those roots as a crown will send their will across the wilds and the Fifth Kingdom.

(This passage above all others suggests that the Mordavian Transcripts do not date to the early Second Day. Modern scholarship suggests that the Tablets were an invention and the transcripts were produced as a later catalogue of events. But Ison SIranox’s account matches these records, and the events described above do not match up until the LATE second day)

(All of this points to the Tablets not as a work of record, but of prophecy. The Sage’s power over Dreams may have oracular capabilities, seeing far into the future.)

(That aside, references to the Root of Sorrow stretch back to the Fall of Luminias in the time of legends. Talk of Ashes and Embers did not emerge until the strange The Grey Wanderers began to walk the land. The events described in this passage are believed to have occurred during Blessed Child’s exodus to the far west.)

Asked TARAS golden of the Crown of Roots. Only the Caoineadh of the Starless Market can weave such a crown. Asked TARAS golden of the Starless Market, and said the sage:

Take a sheer black stone in hand
Go where mountains meet the land
When clouds conceal the moonless sky
The starless market’s gates are nigh

View
The Dragon of the Final Dusk
Chapter 3 Episode 1

Empowered by the combined magic and blessings of the Iron Band, Rhawunel faced the dragon Zonthul in single combat. At the end, Zonthul’s head and claws lay split upon the rock, the great green body lifeless. Rhawunel, and the Iron Band, were triumphant.

Immediately they set about collecting Zonthul’s blood and butchering the corpse. As a being of ancient magic, the dragon’s power could be harnessed in countless ways. Most importantly, it could be used to break the Dragon’s curse.

The Lightbearer

Through the magic of the Iron Band, Rhawunel called out to her brother Nabac An’Angren, who stepped through a tree and appeared before them. He immediately cupped Zonthul’s blood and drank deeply. His daughter stood behind him, shocked at the site, but at his urging she, too, drank Zonthul’s blood.

As the poisonous blood roiled in their veins, Nashia Arie beheld a sign appearing on the faces of father and daughter alike.

FinalDusk.png

She reached out and touched Nabac’s face, and the mark flowed down his cheek, across her fingers, to settle on her arm. At the very moment, the skies roared with distant thunder—Vindur stirred on his throne in Terranimbus. The Prophecy of the New Day was now set in motion.

Nashia reached for the sign on Aine’s face, but it did not react.

The Tale of Nabac

Aine and Rhawunel were reunited with Nabac for the first time in years. Eager to hear his story, and to challenge him for his absence, they asked him what he knew.

When Angren fell, Nabac barely escaped, using his magic to confound his assailants. He fled rom Caonach, heading south to avoid the Summer Lands of Mairg.Barely in control of his own magic, he stumbled upon the lair of Zonthul. There he surrendered to the dragon, offering his service in exchange for an apprenticeship. With the Dragon’s help, Nabac tamed the wild magic in his soul, learning to control it.

Then, as told in Helena’s letters, the painter Thander was brought captive into the Dragon’s Domain. Forced to paint a massive canvass with the dragon’s image, Thander toiled while Nabac watched.

Weeks later, the princess Helena herself stumbled into Zonthul’s domain, seeking her friend Thander. The dragon eagerly added her to his collection, and at last Nabac’s heart was moved. His own plight could not excuse standing by while he did nothing. Over time, he learned of the princess’ life, and shared parts of his own.

In the end she won his heart, and at great risk Nabac betrayed his master, parting the illusions and spells of the valley to let the Princess flee. For his treachery, Zonthul cursed him and all his descendants to become what they’d betrayed.

Nabac fled into the woods as the curse overtook him. First his body, then his mind, began to change, filling him with selfish, cruel, cunning thoughts. He searched for the human princess who’d captured his heart, and at last found the great city of Vercinget, capitol of Borgondhi. There he shared one night with Helena before departing.

He never found her again, for when she was discovered with child, King Ralzemon had her banished to the cloistered abbey. Nabac was forced to flee as the dragon spirit continued to devour him. Through fairy paths, across the rivers of Emankorrak, through the forbidden valley of Kraius and over the Dragonspire Peaks he’d fled, following a call he could not understand. At last he came to Achuaknamm, the Hamure Temple of Sorcery. Half a dragon by now, he fell into the path of a wise dragonborn mystic: Master Sora. Recognizing the curse binding the Huldra Prince, Sora took Nabac in and taught him the mental discipline and meditation that Zonthul ignored.

Nearly two decades Nabac meditated in the temple of Achuaknamm, keeping the Dragon Spirit at bay, remembering himself. Sora kept him secret from the other students and visitors of the temple, letting the Huldra prince live in peace and solitude. Then, not long ago, the temple was destroyed and Master Sora slain, by agents of another House of Elam. Nabac never who led the attack. Instead, he fled once more.

Without his sanctuary the Dragon Spirit began to take hold once more, and Nabac clawed at his own mind to protect himself. Now he found himself drawn inexorably back to the source of his curse, to Zonthul. It was on this journey that he learned the Dragon was calling to him, demanding his return, using its attack on Cloistered Abbey as bait. Nabac was on his way to the Abbey to protect Helena when his sister, Rhawunel, and her friends destroyed it.

The Forbidden Section

As the Iron Band regrouped from their battle, they searched the library of the Meteora. They knew in advance that a place such as this would have rare tomes and scrolls, and Tavion located a hidden passage which Tyrandriel opened with a swish of the Silver Talon.

Inside, heretical and forbidden tomes, locked with iron clasps, awaited. The Band of Iron searched through them, for the abbess, Mother Leigh, was far too busy tending to the wounded. They found the following:

  • A Manual of Golems penned by the legendary archmage Ison Siranox of Galadron

The party stashed these treasures away to read over at a future time, along with the spellbook and research notes stolen from Euthynos

Visions

With what remained of the night the Band of Iron took their rest. Many tossed and turned, thinking back on the path that led them here. Tavion remembered his work with the Crown’s Men, near Kaliste in Borgondhi. He’d been sent to recover stolen goods, and stumbled on the bandit leader instead, sleeping off the effects of the exotic Sin’Kilah liquor. In a decisive moment, he chose not to kill the bandit leader, instead stealing documents that would go on to implicate the local guildmaster in nefarious dealings. On his return, he met Crevaine the Fox, notorious blackmailer, who praised him for his restraint. “Not every problem can be solved just by killing the right person, after all.”


With the spirits of the land speaking more and more in their ear, Ulreik Hras Halril thought back to their first lesson about magic in the University. The professor of transmutation presented them with Aqua Regia, an orange acid that can melt gold and platinum. “Acid, is like magic,” the professor explained. “Handled improperly, by the ignorant, it does nothing but destroy.” He stuck a piece of meat in the fluid and it bubbled and hissed. "But to the wise, it does not simply tear down, it is an agent of change. " The professor dissolved a gold coin, then precipitated it from the elixir. With a smattering of dust, he created a foam that solidified. Green, blue and white flames were procured through still other experiments. “A mage is one who knows how to hold and use this power. The more you expand your knowledge and focus your mind—” he gestured at the larger glass vats of aqua regia “the more magic you can wield. A spell is simply an application of that power, but instead of powders, metals, and reagents—” he gestured at the supplies surrounding him “the change is enacted through change within your mind. The words, gestures and reagents you use change you as you channel the magic, shaping it into the effect of the spell. Master this, and you will be a great wizard.”

Outside in the halls, Ulreik had met Euthynos for the first time. “That tired acid metaphor? Disgusting, really. You can’t compare the glory of the Dawn to some metal-eating chemical. Magic is pure, raw potential, guided by the will of the enlightened mind, and most people simply lack the perspective to wield it.” From that very moment, Ulreik suspected they wouldn’t get along with the noble born mage, and the idea of acid was impressed into their mind.

The Oath of the Ancients

As her brother and his lover reunited, Rhawunel looked out across the valley below the Meteora. Zonthul was slain, and into each blow she’d poured the pain and rage of her grief—the loss of her mother, Dakona. Of her father, Corik. Of her home, the glades of Angren. Of her brothers, scattered and driven forth.

Now she felt ready to let go of vengeance. Her true purpose was not simply to strike back at those who’d wrong her and her family, but to take up the burdens of rulership, to end the war between Humans and Huldra, and to protect the land from the dark forces conspiring to wreak war and destruction.

Her mind joined with theirs in the enchanted woodlands of the Heart of Angren, the Amethyst Pendant where their souls united to protect their child. Standing before her parents, she renounced the Oath of Vengeance, and asked her father to witness her new oath. With a hand upon her shoulders, he recited the ancient Oath of Gisirigs, and she rose as a true paladin of Tel’Maerlyth.

Kindle the Light
Shelter the Light
Preserve Your Own Light
Be the Light

The Dreamwarden

The hallowed halls of the Cloister brought Tyrandriel back to the seminary in Vercinget. Raised there as an orphan, he found solace and meaning in the teachings of Our Triumphant Family. But the abbot of the seminary hated him. The ability to channel the celestial light of Blessed Child takes practice, discipline, years of piety and a deep spiritual connection, and Tyrandriel adapted so quickly to holy magic that the abbot mistrusted him.

On one fateful day, the abbot arranged to have Tyrandriel drugged. The next morning a fire broke out, burning down a villager’s home, and though the clergy tried to wake Tyrandriel he could not be roused. When the sun was high in the sky he rose with a start, learned he’d failed to help, and was summoned by the Abbot to answer for his laziness.

Dread filled his heart, for he knew that his days in the home he loved were numbered. As he walked down the long, torchlight halls of the seminary, he reached up to grab a strand of his…ash gray hair?

Suddenly, Tyrandriel stopped, for he remembered this moment, and it didn’t happen like this. He pinched himself and felt the pain far away, not in his body. He called out a challenge to Mairg, thinking himself caught in the power of her Crown, but nobody answered.

So down the twisting halls Tyrandriel walked, not the earnest acolyte of a faith that failed him, but the Dream Warden, Favored by Fortune. So he confronted the Abbot, and when the old man peered down at him to accuse him of failure and laziness, he retorted, challenging the abbot and accusing him of betrayal. At his words, and at his will, the Abbot blinked, stared, and then shattered into a thousand glittering bloodless pieces.

Tyrandriel then called out, for he knew he was not alone. Standing behind him, silently watching, was a figure of blowing, crumbling ashes, vaguely humanoid, nearly as tall as the half elf. On meeting the eyeless figure’s gaze, the Dream collapsed, and Tyrandriel awakened in the Cloistered Abbey.

View
Rhawunel's Challenge
A Song of the Fourth Day

Dragon, come and face me!
I speak for one and all
Stand forth and do battle
Heed Tel’Maerlyth’s call

Your reign on earth is over
We are the Iron Band
And on this day I swear that you
Will perish by our hand

I am Dakona’s Daughter
Of Angren am I born
I am the Heir of Winter
To Gisirgis I am sworn

My guardian, Brave Gaemund
Tarah’s Seventh Son
Each blow you strike, he bears with me
Until the day is won

My kin, the Princess Aine
Whose life you come to claim
She placed her faith in me and I
Will fight you in her name

By Bromin’s brew, I conquer
His song is with me now
I raise my glass to the master
Of the Golden Bough

My mantle is of gossamer
I mock your dragon spells!
A gift to me from Mo Rel
Hero of the Mushroom Dells

On Arie’s winds, I meet you
With a gift of blinding speed
The Lightbearer Anoints Me
To do this mighty deed

By Tavion, I curse you,
Though that’s not his only name
Vengeance for house Dunlan!
And to your friend, the witch, the same!

I am by fortune favored
I hear the phoenix cry
The Dreamwarden stands with me
And on this day, you die

To the skies I come to meet you
Born aloft by Hras Halril
By magic and by wisdom
And the power of their will

So dragon, come and face me!
I speak for one and all!
Stand forth, and do battle
Heed Tel’Maerlyth’s call!
_

View
The Dragon's Due
Chapter 2, Episode 7

Founded early after the rise of Gloriana, the Cloistered Abbey is a place for the troubled faithful. Given the emphasis Our Triumphant Family places on community, sealing oneself off from the world is a rare calling. Most who do so bear deep wounds or have difficulty dwelling among others, and so they retreat to a small, carefully curated family of love and faith.

It was to these solitary souls that the green dragon Zonthul came, hunting the exiled princess Helena von Borgondhi. And to her aid, and the dragon’s doom, on snow-white elk with eyes of blue flame, riding the moonlight itself, came the Iron Band.

The Meteora

Built in a cleft in the mountains, the Cloistered Abbey was divided into two sections: the lower abbey, for the majority of the faithful, and the Meteora, clinging to the mountains high above. When the Iron Band descended from Cloigeann ’s lodge upon the moon, primal blood roaring in their hearts, they came to do battle.

They descend on the Meteora, where Mother Leigh tended to the fearful and wounded denizens of the cloister. From room to room the Iron Band sought Aine ’s mother.

Then came the dragon. With a terrible roar and breath of toxic gas, Zonthul smashed into the roof of the ancient cloister. The Iron Band was ready for their foe. They scattered throughout the building, using it as cover, spreading out to avoid the Dragon’s magic and terrible breath.

Trice Zonthul came against them, thrice they eluded him, and spells and arrows dealt terrible blows to the dragon’s hide. While battle raged without, Tavion Gervis found a hidden chamber in the chapel above. Inside waited Helena von Borgondhi, armed only with a dagger, hiding from her captor of old.

Trapped in the meteora, the party contemplated fleeing to The Golden Bough until the dragon left. But after years of quiet monastic life, there was no spirit of merriment in that place. Even as they spoke, ice chilled the blood of Tyrandriel. Mists flowed in across the land and roots burst from the rocks below the Meteora. Mairg’s malevolent power, the grasp of the Crown of Roots, was upon them. Despair and terror clouded their minds, though the Iron Band stood strong. They were running out of time.

Outside, Zonthul let loose a shattering roar, and took wing from the Meteora. His wings were scarred, his scales dripping blood, his eyes burned with emerald rage. As he’d tried to devour the Iron Band, Rhawunel called out a challenge. For Angren, for Gisirgis, for Tel’Maerlyth, she warned him, any blow he struck against her allies would burn against his flesh. Only by facing her would he escape this fate.

And the dragon heard her call.

View
The Bells of Dotain's Rock
Chapter 2, Volume 6

Winter’s chill set in across the land. It had been some time since the harvest festivals of Calchester, and soon the snow would fall upon the ground. Clouds rolled in low and frosty. The Iron Band’s breath hung in the air.

High Tea

Before their meeting with Rúnda, and before they’d raided Euthynos‘s mansion, Ulreik Hras Halril received an invitation to tea with Quile, Euthynos’ Alfar friend and mentor. Along with Nashia Arie, they traveled through Valdotain ’s streets dressed in their finest.

In the late morning sun they drank tea, ate light and refreshing Alfar traditional duties, and discussed the wonders and joys of magic. Quile was an ever smiling host, sharing memories of the University, asking Ulreik about his research, and shaking his head at Euthynos’…extremes, we shall say.

After winning over both the Iron Magi with his charm and friendly demeanor, Quile made Ulreik an offer—in exchange for the Sevenfold Veil, Quile could reinstate Ulreik with the University and help his research. “All your life, you’ve been torn between worlds. Help me guide my student on his path, and I will shine a light on yours.”

Ulreik left, pondering Quile’s offer. What did the Alfar want with the veil? What higher destiny did he have in mind for Euthynos? And what help could Quile give in learning about Ulreik’s mother? These questions still hung about his mind as he and Nashia returned to the Iron Band.

The Levy Bells

After they’d met with Dread Runda, the Iron Band was surprised by the sudden pealing of bells. From the height of Dotain’s Rock to the spires of the Basilica of Valerian, every bell in Valdotain called the populace to war.

Rhawunel Searbhas of Angren feared the worst—they’d just learned that her missing brother, Caill An’Angren, was in Rastov, but as war broke out he and his mercenary company, the Noble Order, would soon be lost. They might lose the trail!

Things went from bad to worse when Eklos stumbled into the Golden Bough, coughing from poison. The Dragon of the Hinterlands, Zonthul, had attacked Bravewood Abbey, and was on its way to Cloistered Abbey, where Helena von Borgondhi, Aine ’s Mother, was imprisoned!

Now the Band knew that their old enemy Sheevra had escaped. With the magic of the Celestial Stone, Nashia Arie saw Sheevra clinging to the dragon’s back, far above the land, soaring towards the abbey.

Torn between two paths, the party resolved to travel to Rastov first. They knew they couldn’t outfly the dragon and hoped to intercept it upon its return to its lair in the hinterlands.

Old Skull Hollow

With the speed of the Zephyr the Iron Band crossed the lands of Fridenot County and arrived at the ancient hold of Rastov. They spoke with the local hunter and wiseman, Dyd, who sold them the herbs, mystical reagents and talismans they’d need to save four vials of Dragon’s Blood.

To the south of Rastov lay the Stag Lord’s Fort, a site dating back to the Bale and even earlier. Bromin Firebeard plied the remaining warriosr of the Noble Order with his mystical ales, swiftly lulling them to sleep. With the run of the stronghold the Iron Band searched for Caill. He and most of his warriors were long gone, but they grabbed one of his hairs to scry him later. They also found a curious shrine to a pagan god, a bone flute and bloody stone bowl.

Rhawunel ‘s enchanted steed led them to a Fairy Path, one that could bring them to the Cloistered Abbey before the dragon destroyed it. The Unicorn warned that this path was dangerous, but that didn’t even come close to the truth.

In the foothills of Rastov an old cave painted with blood lay hid. There, long ago, the people of Rastov made blood sacrifice to ward off the horrors of the Bale. Though the place loomed with eerie dread, the Iron Band pressed on. They coated a precious moonstone with blood, hurled it into Old Skull Hallow, and walked through a doorway of blinding bright light.

The Moon Lodge

Beyond lay a pale white forest where the trees had no leaves, the ground was covered in blinding snow, and everywhere they tread a strange blue light went before them. Mo Rel found a small forest spirit, a trembling squirrel, and offered it food to be their guide. The Squirrel went before them, seeking to avoid the blue light, but then a horrible scream sounded through the forest.

The Gealacha, the Wild Hunt, circled around them. Yeth Hounds, Hoary Hunters astride elk with burning blue eyes and frosty breath, and lumbering, misshapen giants howled for the Iron Band’s blood. Our heroes gathered round the Eerie Wain and drew steel and spell against the hunt.

With one fomorian bound by fear of Rhawunel’s oath and another entranced by Bromin’s magic, the hunt seemed broken, the heroes triumphant. But then that same terrible unearthly cry rang out—Cloigeann, Old Skull of the Moon, Archfey Master of the Wild Hunt, had come for their blood.

The Gealacha Scattered

Now the Iron Band knew their danger. They were in the Old Skull’s lair, his lodge far from earth. Mairg, Mother of Mists had set his hunters to slaughter the penitents every full moon, and Tyrandriel was changed to resemble the First Peninent. He’d come for the half-elf’s blood, and woe to any who stood before him.

In a battle that echoed throughout the lands of Fairy, whose tale is told still in the Seelie Courts, the Iron Band unleashed their fury on the Lord of the Hunt. Though he sprang upon Tyrandriel with horrid claws and bloody horns, they shattered his mask and pierced his heart with Tavion’s swift bow.

Cloigeann melted into blood, his mask fell to the ground, and all around them the wind began to howl. It swept away the snow to reveal bones beneath their feet, hundreds of feet deep, a forest of bones atop an endless well of blood. As Mo Rel floated the mask with her magic, it sprang to life and demanded freedom.

Only now did the Iron Band realize where they tread—upon the Moon Itself, the Wells of Blood, whence all life flows! Surrounded by the eerie shapes of the Gealacha, Cloigeann warned them that he was not slain, and offered them a gift of blood for his freedom.

Banna Iarann…swift-claw hunters, steel and spell, tonight, you are not prey. I offer you blood as ransom. Refuse, and the Gealacha will be at your heels until you die.

Beneath the mask, the bones parted to reveal the blood burning below. Rhawunel of Angren was first to accept the gift, and drank of the Moon’s Blood. Fiery life coursed through her veins, making her stronger and more alive than ever. Bromin of Eldfjall was next, invoking his ancient home in the Frozen Wastes. One by one the Iron Band drank and became strong.

To carry them away from his land, out of his sight, Cloigeann sent each of the iron band astride one of his Frost Elks. They rode the moonlight itself down to earth, alighting beside the Cloistered Abbey, just as the dragon Zonthul wheeled over the high Meteora, to recapture the princess Helena.

View
The Story So Far -- 4/4
The Band of Iron -- Chapter 2

Dawn in Dark Hollow

For a time the Band of Iron rested in the Tower of Nails, securing their hold, repairing the old structure, calling the Parliament of Bastards and other allies to gather. During this time, they received another letter from Manard the Weater, delivered by the owl Curiosity. In flowing prose it charged them with traveling to Baron Yorlen’s fief of Bresnikhold and stealing a tapestry from his castle.

First, the party decided to challenge the Bog Witch again. With Royse’s books they learned how to destroy her sanctuary, Dark Hollow. The Band traveled to the town of Fernsby to find the Dokkalfar. On the way, they found evidence of the Wild Hunt running down Penitents.

Once in Fernsby they met the blood hunter Bordul, who agreed to join them. The party located Skjult Grotto, where the Dokkalfar Dwell, and spoke with their leader, the myconid Sodd. The Dokkalfar agreed to weave an enchanted net for the party, given the right materials. Gaemund made a pact to return when Mairg was defeated in exchange for the release of a farm boy the Dokkalfar had imprisoned in their Well of Dreams.

Departing Fernsby, our heroes travel to Glassweb Grove in Fairy. They navigate the web of glass and meet the Sisters, who tell Ulreik and Tyrandriel that they have music in their blood. The party learns that Taras, Blessed Child, and Dirtirith had all come here before seeking their gossamer. They obtain some gossamer of their own, return to Skjult Grotto, and the Dokkalfar weave the gossamer into a crystal net.

Back at the tower of nails, the Band of Iron activates Royse’s sky bridge to enter the Sky Kingdom. They travel across the Morass and avoid Vindur’s patrols, reaching Vafprudnir‘s mansion. After defeating him in a battle of riddles, the heroes earn the fruits of his garden and safe passage to the Stairs of Dawn. They climb the Mountains of Morning and catch the first ray of dawn’s light in the Net.

The Band of Iron returns to Dark Hollow, exposes Waxcap’s Cauldron to the Rays of Light, defeats Father in combat and destroys the Witch of the Rattlebog.

Tomb of the Feathered Serpent

Fideba’s caravan travels to Toadstool Hollow to help them recover. While the Band of Iron plans their heist in Yorlen Hold they come across treasure hunters searching for the Tomb of the Feathered Serpent. The tavern girl where they meet, Zyanzya, is secretly an actual Feathered Serpent, who follows them.

The adventure is a trap designed to catch someone who can read ancient draconic. Chea and her agents wait in an old huldra burial mound. With their trap, they capture and torture Nashia Arie, trying to ascertain whether she is the lightbearer. The Band of Iron storms the tomb and rescues her. Zyanya emerges, gives Nashia a massive gemstone egg, tells her “The first Lightbearer was a dragon. THe second was an Alfar. The third is both” and vanishes. A silver star appears on Nashia’s hand, identifying her as the Lightbearer.

Mask of the Baron

At last the Party travels to Bresnikhold to steal the tapestry. They arrive during Fooltide, a celebration of the Laughing God and the last harvest celebration before winter. On their way there, the Party protects Fideba’s caravan from the Wild Hunt. They rescue Quinn and learn from him a great deal about his order, the Penitents.

Fideba returns safely to Toadstool Hollow while the heroes and Quinn go to Bresnikhold. They meddle in the affairs of the soldiers, nobles and mercenaries, while aiding the common folk and Tilly Carosi. With their help, Fooltide is a merry celebration. In the end they approach Yorlen’s castle and his masked ball.

Once again armed with strange potions, the party infiltrates the scene in search of the tapestry. They find Chea and Warrick among the guests. During the festival, Tyrandriel and Bromin are whisked away to Winesong, the Laughing God’s home, where they receive the Mug of Mayhem and a deed to the Golden Bough, an enchanted tavern between the worlds.

The night ends with the party successfully stealing the tapestry, but the festival devolves into chaos, during which Warrick’s assassins kill Baron Yorlen. Ulreik manages to scar Warrick’s face with acid on the way out. Our heroes are forced to flee the chaos of the scene and escape with the tapestry.

The Willow’s Bride

Bresnikhold descends towards chaos. With a chance to return to their tower, the Band of Iron discovers that the tapestry depicts the Witch of the Willows, and the First Penitent, Marcus. They become suspicious of Manard and choose to confront the Witch of the Willows before returning to him. Atropa appears to Mo Rel, claiming that the Willow Witch will hate her for killing Waxcap. She offers to tell them the Witch’s secret, once again in exchange for Royse’s memories.

From the Tower they travel to Callabrook and Quanmar, Tavion/Caius’ home town. They find it overrun by bandits who they avoid. Tavion finds his father’s hunting knife in the ruins of his childhood home. They enter the Weeping Fen to find the Witch.

Along the way they battle and confront the Witch’s memories, extending back through the second day. After a harrowing journey they find three paths. They split into three groups, Gaemund going alone down one path. Each path holds its own perils and insight into the Witch’s history. Though worn, they reach her home.

It turns out the Witch is Aisling, fairy warrior, with her wings gone and her mind burned. She lives in Brave Mother and Kind Father’s original stone cottage, thousands of years old. The heroes manage to make peace with Aisling as they try to uncover the truth, but Atropa appears and attacks them with Shadar-Kai, summoned elementals, and her own magic.

The party fends off Atropa’s attack, despite her attempts to outright kill Tavion, and Tyrandriel walks with Aisling into the lake by her garden, where her memories are stored. This burns both of them, turning Tyrandriel’s hair and robes ash gray. With her memories restored Aisling becomes their ally, sharing her knowledge of the past. They learn of Marcus and the Root of Sorrow, the history of the penitents, and Tyrandriel receives Silver Talon, her sword. They also take a sealed metal box from the fireplace, the last of Marcus’ fire, and Princess Aine claims Eleanor’s Bracers.

From Aisling, they discover that Caill An’Angren sold her his name and transformed into a human to hide from Mairg. Rhawunel drinks the vial of his memories, obtaining his name. Now both she and Tavion have two names, keeping the second for their brothers. Tavion fully regains his memories and they see Royse’s memories of Vindur’s preparations for war. Bromin learns that Vindur stole the heart of his volcano to make weapons.

Atropa is driven off, but leaves behind a warning to the princess: “The dragon comes to reclaim his own!”

The Rains of Valdotain

It becomes clear that Manard has tasked them with retrieving artifacts related to the Penitents. Suspicious of an alternate agenda, the Band of Iron resolves to find and confront him. Just as they do, Curiosity delivers a well timed letter inviting the Band of Iron to join him in the city of Valdotain for an auction.

On their way they see more evidence of imminent war, as Bresnikhold collapses into chaos and Borgondhi troops and merecenaries prepared to invade. Tyrandriel departs to Bravewood Abbey to seek Eklos and Sheevra. They trick a group of Wolf Company mercenaries and steal their wages before reaching the city.

In Valdotain, they study at the Scholarium, realize that both Chea and Euthynos are present for the auction, and meet with the Count and Countess.. Gaemund discovers a mysterious warrior running secret errands for Count Imbert. Aine befriends the Countess.

One of the items at the auction is the veil of an ancient Sharani queen. Both Euthynos and Chea covet this item, so the party puts up a painting they commissioned from the Cloud Giants in the auction. They also plot to steal the veil, but when Wessel the Weasel enters it, he vanishes back to the Underworld in a burst of violet light. The heroes are forced to bid for the veil against their rivals. Gaemund uses Morco’s Fang to scare Euthynos out of bidding, but his Alfar attendant Quile stays in. Manard arrives in the middle of the auction and convinces Tavion to bid far more gold than they own, then drives up the bidding on their item to make sure they can cover it.

Back at the Guild of Weavers and Dyemen, Manard reveals that he is working for the owl Curiosity. The Heroes realize that Curiosity is Rúnda’s owl and has been spying on them. All the investigations into the penitents and their artifacts have been for the sake of Runda. Through Curiosity, they tell Runda to meet them in four days, then imprison Curiosity in an anti-magical cage.

Seeking to clear Jurian Dunlan‘s name and gain allies against Ralzemon’s imminent war, they invite Count Imbert to the Golden Bough to meet Sheevra and reveal the conspiracy.

At the Sign of the Golden Bough

Tyrandriel reaches Bravewood Abbey, collects Sheevra, and with Eklos as an escort they meet in the Golden Bough. Sheevra and Imbert know each other from their childhood, and Imbert becomes suspicious of the Band of Iron. They convince him that she is not the real princess, though they did know each other, and explain the death of Jurian, the death of Yorlen, Ralzemon’s schemes to foment an injust war, and Mairg’s designs against the kingdoms of humanity. He leaves to collect his thoughts.

Back in the city, Mairg is scrying for Caill and her spell finds Rhawunel instead. Rhawunel takes shelter in the Circle of Protection inscribed in the Eerie Wain, but the party knows they need to leave soon. Aine dreams of being a dragon and wakes up with scales that fade by morning. Gaemund and the party follow the trail of Ivory and find the grave of Sorruk, who has become a ghost, breaking his own oath of Ghostslaying. He asks them to help ivory complete her quest so he can rest. Her mission is to find or avenge Count Imbert’s parents. Gaemund agrees, and Sorruk vanishes.

Mo Rel and Bromin sneak into Euthynos’ manor. In addition to stealing some of his treasure, spellbook and research notes, they overhear Quile calling him the Dragon of the New Day. They frame Chea for the break in and flee.

Rhawunel discovers that the Noble Order, the mercenary band her transformed brother leads, is based out of Rastov, Isabel von Valdotain’s homeland to the south. They decide to travel there once their business with Runda is finished.

On the road back to Valdotain, Tyrandriel is accosted by bandits and visits the home of the farmers robbed by Wolf Company earlier. He gives them gold to help and continues on his way, until he meets Limgwan, a spirit summoned by Rhawunel to retrieve him, and rides swiftly back..

Four days after their meeting with Count Imbert, Rúnda arrives in the Golden Bough. She offers to trade each one of them a truth for a truth, and grants the party a boon in exchange for her owl’s freedom. The Band of Iron learns that the Laughing God stole the owl from her, and it was not her plan for them to find him. They realize that Atropa told Mairg of the Crown of Roots, that she found it to fight against Runda, and that her true plan is not to fulfill the prophecy, but to use it to persuade Vindur to destroy the human kingdoms.

Aine learns that to break a dragon’s curse, she must drink that dragon’s blood.

(To be continued)

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.