Maya 5-8, 754 YE
When the elevator hits the lower level beneath the Dark Reliquary dungeons, Emeris, Vatex, Early, Gareth Porter, and Falstef find Dziga holding the strange cube in his hand. Something about the strange cube unsettles them when they look at it.
The air in this temple is supernaturally cold -- other than Early whose Phoenix Helm can protect him from the elements, and Falstef who is immune to cold, the others will soon die from the freezing temperature within 15 minutes. They must find a way to escape.
They also find the ghosts who had ignored Dziga eyeing them evilly. They must get out of this place! So they explore the long tubular tunnel. About 150 feet down they find a single door that miraculously exits onto a ledge on the the Cliff of Lost Wishes. The feel of cool fresh ocean air brings great relief. A narrow pathway along the cliff leads down to the Elan city docks. They are free! Vatex reasons that when the time comes to return and rescue his sister Calista from the Keepers’ clutches, they could theoretically reenter the Dark Reliquary this same way.
When the companions reach the docks, they discover that despite it being past midnight, there is an unusual amount of activity at the docks. Ships are being hastily loaded and moving out of the bay. When they inquire with a few dock workers, they learn that there is a huge protest going on outside the fortress of Dalengard, and there is some rioting and looting going on in Oldtown.
Gareth Porter says it is time for him to go home. But it seems the Rosegate Company, for reasons not entirely clear, has decided that they now own Gareth Porter because they freed him from the Dark Reliquary prison. Dziga saps the poor guy and knocks him out cold, and Early throws his unconscious body over his shoulder.
Falstef is disgusted with his rescuers lack of principles, and says their time together is over. But since he cannot return to his home plane of Mount Celestia, he doesn’t know what to do. Vatex tells him of the Pale Tower, the abode of myriad celestials in Elan. The elven urban ranger escorts the angel there while the others head home.
On the way, Early stops by the house of a wealthy industrialist in the Guildsman District named DORZAN. It seems Early had earlier made a deal with this man to trade the Wind Duke Ring for a powerful weapon.
Even though it is the middle of the night, Dorzan is actually awake, too anxious about the protests going on at Dalengard. He sounds concerned that the government might actually be overthrown, and if so, crazy anti-business folks will take control.
Anyway, Dorzan possesses a powerful weapon called SHEOL, which is an ancient dwarven gunblade that combines a gun with a blade. Beyond the ingenuity of its design, the weapon is powerfully enchanted -- it disrupts illusion effects, inflicts extra pain upon chaotic foes, and holds tons of ammunition within a special extra-dimensional space, so it can be reloaded very efficiently.
Everyone regroups then heads through Oldtown to get back home. Many shops have been looted and many fires have been set throughout the district. Strangely, the city watch isn’t doing much about it. Weirdly, they even encounter a couple of guardsmen killing another guards in an alley.
The protest around Dalengard is huge, possibly as many as 2000 people have crowded into the area surrounding the fortress. Everyone is pissed about high taxes paid to the Holy Empire, high food prices, high inflation, and wars. They even find Seanus, their butler, getting in on the protest. It seems Seanus supports higher taxes on adventuring companies.
Suddenly, a massive explosion rocks the central keep of Dalengard. Word starts spreading that Republican forces have infiltrated the fortress and are attempting to capture the city council and overthrow the government. Could it be true?
Back at the Rosegate House, the companions tie up Gareth Porter and throw him in the basement. Their plans for the unfortunate investigative reporter are not clear...
A NEW AGE OF FREEDOM?
The next morning, the Rosegate Company heads out to breakfast. They see the huge protest continues unabated. Rumors have spread saying that there is all-out battle within the walls of Dalengard, between the Republican insurgents and the government. What will be the outcome?
While eating a delicious breakfast, out of the blue they receive a shadow sending from WILLIAM ARTURIUS. He is a wealthy aristocrat who used to have a big estate in northern Vigoor. Now he lives in Elan, and is known for being co-owner of the Aristocrats Table (fancy restaurant in the Nobles Quarter), having a massive book collection, and giving lots of money to various charitable causes. He is asking the Rosegate Company to meet with him for a business proposition.
On the way back to the Nobles Quarter to meet Mr Arturius, they again must pass by the big protest. It seems the battle within the fortress is over, as a dude holding a Republican flag and a bloody sword appears on the roof. He calls out to the people in the square, “A new age of freedom is dawning for our city! The imperial government of Elan has fallen. Our leader will appear shortly to address you all!”
The companions wait around, interested to hear this upcoming speech. Thousands more people fill the square as they wait around for several hours. Then Loris Raknian, the new leader of the Republicans since Helmut Itlstein’s death, appears with his entourage on the Dalengard roof.
He declares that Elan is no longer the puppet of a “so-called god-emperor in Tairon.” The new government of Elan, which will be established by himself during this “transition period,” will serve the people, not the special interests. He says the Empire’s Vast Codex will be discarded and a new Constitution will be written. Many new intended policies are announced, including but not limited to:
- higher taxes on capital and adventuring companies
- new social programs to help the poor
- prices controls and minimum wages
As a brutal capstone to this speech, Raknian brings up eight captured members of the city council, otherwise known as the Twelve Commanders. Also among the prisoners is the Commissar himself. In front of his massive audience, Raknian pulls out a gun and shoots the Commissar in the head, tossing his dead body over the ramparts, declaring that there is no place for the Empire’s former executive of the city government. He asks the other members of the council if they will side with the new “free city’s” government or the Holy Empire. Only ASHBY GERARD, former captain of the city watch, openly says his loyalty is forever to his Holy Emperor. So he is shot in the head by Rakian also.
With that, Raknian declares that there are warrants out for the arrest of the other council members that have not been captured.
Finally, Raknian declares that the Trial of Champions -- Elan’s team fighting tournament -- normally held every five years, will be held this summer, one year early, to help raise money for the new government and boost its economy.
Now some people think all this is great, but it scares many others. Firstly, there are a lot of Vigoorian people living in Elan, and many of them identify nationalistically with the Empire. So they don’t like all the Empire-bashing and whatnot. And while many folks support Raknian and the Republicans’ general philosophy of “democratic socialism” or whatever it is, it is clear the guy is pretty brutal and ruthless, what with this violent overthrow and the execution of the Commissar and Ashby Gerard.
As the companions head up to Mr Arturius’ house, they discuss whether they should enter the Trial of Champions this year. It is an event known all over the continent where various adventuring companies fight in a tournament. The winner gets a Champions’ Belt and a big pot of gold. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t...
They meet with William Arturius, who says he received a strange letter from the ninja Zuuma, who was the only survivor of the Shadowblade Company sent by Lord Sadar. In the letter, Zuuma reveals that he plans to kill Arturius, and the only way the old aristocrat stands a chance is if he hires the Rosegate Company to protect him. Obviously, that’s pretty weird, and the group reasons that whatever Zuuma’s reasons for wanting to kill Arturius, he apparently wants to get another crack at the Rosegate Company at the same time.
The Rosegate Company agrees to the proposition, taking a big fee plus a few bottles of fancy wine from Arturius’ cellar. The Rosegate Company temporarily moves into the servant quarters of Arturius’ mansion, keeping guard over the property and watching out for ninja attacks.
Overall, it’s a pretty sweet job. Over the new few days, there is zero action. MIDA, the maid, makes them delicious food. JAIRA, the hot daughter of Mr Arturius, exchanges some flirtation with Emeris. The only annoying thing is the son of their employer, JURO. Juro believes this is all some conspiracy to kill his father and that the Rosegate Company is probably “in on it” with this Zuuma character. But all things considered, the situation is strange and so perhaps his lack of trust is justified.
Early takes crazy narcotics that help him stay awake, because he doesn’t want to miss any action. Emeris only sleeps one hour per day, while Dziga and Vatex trade off their shifts every so often.
Then, around lunch time on the third day, Zuuma’s forces attack.
Dziga is hanging out on the roof in the sunny weather, hiding invisibly by the door. Suddenly something flies overhead, and the roof is bombarded by ion cannons! Dziga avoids the assault, then sees five figures jump off the soaring vessel, which then flies away.
ZUUMA'S RECRUITS: THE HAMMER GOD AND THE PRISM PIRATES!
Dziga wonders for a second if he is imagining things, as the group before him is so ridiculous. One is a big ogre called MORAG-ZUL who looks surprisingly nimble, wielding a huge hammer that cackles with power. The others are the four Prism Pirates!!!
Prism Red! The leader! He fights with magical energy knives that he conjures up with the power of his mind!
Prism Green! A big brute of a man who fights with a strange club shaped like a shark!
Prism Blue! A specialist mage known as a “grapplemancer”! He starts powering up with magic and doubles in size, grows huge spikes out of his flesh, starts dripping acid from his suit, and becomes surrounded in an aura of fire!
Prism Yellow! A daring rogue who fights with lightning power and acid flasks!
None of them see Dziga, who remains hidden. Prism Red and Green set up a grappling hook then rappel down the house’s eastern side, kicking through the window into Jaira’s bedroom. The ogre smashes through the door that heads from the roof to the house, and then heads down with Prism Yellow and Blue. Dziga silently and invisibly follows them, and calls his shadow from downstairs.
Below, the Arturius family hides in their rooms while everyone heads upstairs upon hearing the ion cannon attack. Emeris, keeping vigilant by Mr Arturius’ bedroom door with Early, sees the attackers come down the stairs from the roof. He tries to paralyze Prism Yellow with shadowmagic, but she resists and launches a volley of acid flasks that splatter all over Early. The warblade avoids the potentially brunt of the devastating sneak attack by having an uncanny ability to avoid being caught flat-footed. Then Prism Yellow generates a yellow bolt of electricity that arcs through the hallway and catches both the warblade and the shadowcaster.
Prism Blue, buffed up with reams of spells to enhance his wrestling abilities, charges the shocked warblade and snatches him into a crushing bearhug. Prism Blue’s magic body spikes pierce Early’s flesh; the flaming aura scorches him; the acid secreted from the pirate’s flesh melts his own.
It sounds like Prism Red and Green are breaking down walls in Jaira’s room. The hot daughter is screaming. Morag-Zul begins to advance down the corridor and Dziga goes for the attack on the unsuspecting ogre. Asura stabs into his back and the ogre howls, spinning with his huge hammer.
“You fool!” shouts the ogre. “You cannot fight against me -- I am the Hammer God!” The ogre swings his magical hammer which smashes Dziga in the chest. Bones crack and one of his lungs collapses. The power of that blow was so vicious Dziga is certain a second will kill him.
After scanning the first level and finding it clear, Vatex rushes upstairs and sees the attack unfolding. He springs forward to help the fighting Early, and stabs Prism Blue with both his swords. The Blue Ranger err pirate stumbles a bit but maintains his vice-like grip of doom on Early.
The warblade switches to Wolverine Stance, twisting his arms of the grapple with Cryssaegrym in one hand and Sheol in the other. “Finishing move!” Early declares anime-style. “Cryssaegrym Wolf Blitz/Raging Mongoose!”
With that, Early unleashes a fearsome assault with both weapons, the details of which become lost as Prism Blue literally explodes into a cloud of body chunks and blood. So brutal and savage is Early’s assault that even the bad-ass members of the Rosegate Company have to avert their gaze. Probability-wise, Prism Blue should have still survived... his displacement field should have negated enough attacks. However, the new gunblade Sheol’s illusion bane property completely bypassed this otherwise effective defense.
Prism Yellow regains her senses, stunned by the violence, and launches more flasks at the warblade. Vatex rushes her and hits her with two sword attacks. The Prism Pirates’ red and green members continue smashing through rooms to the side, apparently trying to flank the group by coming out the wall behind them. Dziga takes a gamble and tries to kill Morag-Zul as his shadow companion appears and flanks the ogre. His flurry of sneak attacks is awesome, but Morag-Zul laughs it off despite being badly injured. His wounds are regenerating!
Dziga ducks the first swing of the hammer, but the second two smash him in the body and head. He drops to the ground bleeding heavily from his ears and seeming dead to his observing companions. “HAHAHA” laughs the ogre as Emeris shadow jumps beside him and attacks with the Shadowgeist Reaver. The ogre dodges the attack but finds Early rushing down the hallway, past Vatex and the Prism Yellow. The warblade completes a Swooping Dragon Strike maneuver. The ogre takes a swing at Early while he jumps, hitting him but not knocking him off course. The maneuver leaves the ogre stunned and near death. The shadow saps strength from the dying ogre with its chilling touch.
Early’s Elder Mountain Hammer takes down the ogre while he is stunned, as Prism Red and Green smash through the wall into the hallway. Emeris goes to Dziga’s side and finds him barely alive. The shadowcaster uses his power to connect Dziga’s lifeforce to the Plane of Shadow, giving him power to fight temporarily. Prism Yellow tumbles out of Vatex and the others’ reach, hurling an acid flask at the elf and then firing a lightning bolt down the hall. Only Dziga evades the shot, and Early would have been killed but for the electricity resistance generated by his helmet.
Prism Red fires up a protective multicolored aura of swirling colors and throws a bunch of flaming knives of pure force at Vatex, but the elf’s displacement cloak protects him from all but a single hit. Vatex uses his Boots of Active Assault to quickly rush Prism Green. As the raging barbarian in the green lycra raises his shark club to strike, Vatex hits him with a full attack. The Storm Sword and Sword of Aqa’a splatter the Green Pirate/Ranger in seconds. Dziga gets to his feet and fires an arrow from Roguefriend that busts through Prism Yellow’s visor and into her face, so she dies.
Early starts downing some healing potions and Emeris joins Vatex in attacking Prism Red. Vatex smacks his swords together which produces a blast of lightning, but Prism Red’s inherent powers give him resistance to all elements. The shadow companion of Dziga flies in and its hand grabs at the pirate leader, draining strength.
Emeris strikes with the Shadowgeist Reaver, draining some of Prism Red’s lifeforce. Unfortunately, as he strikes his spectral weapon passes through arcing yellow energy in the prismatic aura around his foe, and suffers a backlash of powerful electric energy. OUCH! Red backpedals nimbly and hurls another volley of flaming force knives at Emeris, but his protective shield of shadow energy blocks them. No one wants to attack Prism Red directly after seeing what his aura did, but then Dziga fires a few arrows that leave the pirate struggling to survive. Prism Pirate Red makes an attempt to flee, leaping over the railing to the library on the first floor, but his escape ends with death as Emeris fires an umbral ray that blows his head off.
Mr Arturius, Jaira, and Juro emerge from their rooms. “Is it over...?” they ask.
It seems to be, until a moment later when they hear a loud voice: “Rosegate Company, join me outside in the courtyard and we will finish this once and for all!” That sounds like Zuuma!
Everyone heals up and rushes out of the busted up hallway, that is going to need a renovation after this. They head downstairs and outside. They look around for the ninja but there is no sign of him -- but suddenly, a wall of mist arises from the ground and expands to form a ceiling over them.
Then stepping into the dome of mist at the southern edge is the powerful ninja Zuuma and ten other shadow ninjas.
“This ends now!!!” Zuuma yells as he launches a flurry of flaming shuriken at Vatex. Again Vatex’s cloak protects him from a lot of pain, but he takes one nasty hit that leaves a nasty scorched cut under his left eye. Dziga returns the attack by disappearing into the elf’s shadow, then reappearing suddenly and shooting an arrow at Zuuma, catching him in the chest. Before Vatex can follow-up on that attack, he is attacked with three shadow rays fired from ninjas on the right. The other two ninjas on that side charge Dziga’s with their Cthonic Serpent Strike maneuvers. Dziga takes a few hits then Vatex shifts over and cuts them down swiftly.
Ninjas on the other side fire their shadow rays, hitting the group. Early deflects one attack with Cryssaegrym. Emeris advances on the left side and strikes back with Killing Shadows, slaying three of them in a blast of destructive power. As he readies a second blast, the other two attack him with more Serpent Strikes. Despite the assault, Emeris keeps drawing shadow energy into himself.
Early switches to his Steel Wind stance and moves extra quickly to take on Zuuma directly. He goes all out with Wolf Blitz again, and channels another Elder Mountain Hammer. Zuuma’s kusari-gama lashes out as he closes in, cutting him across the legs. Zuuma adjusts his kurasi-gama as Early attacks savagely and snaps out the blunt end of the weapon which hits Early flat in the face, breaking his nose. At that moment Early’s maneuver is executed and with tremendous force smashes Cryssaegrym into the ninja’s chest, leaving Zuuma spewing blood from his mouth and struggling to regain balance.
Two more ninjas close in on Vatex and Dziga. Vatex takes care of them masterfully while Dziga advances on Zuuma again, but the ninja avoids his arrows.
Zuuma swings the chained weapon around Early’s legs, tripping the warblade. The heavy ball end of the weapon swings down toward the prone Early’s head, but he rolls aside at the last moment. The fifth ninja on the right side charges the prone Early as well, finding the prone Early an easy target. The slender ninja cuts him pretty good.
Vatex cuts down the two attacking ninjas swiftly, taking only one hit in the process. They are good, but no match for the elf’s fancy and deadly swordsmanship. Emeris blasts more killing shadows killing the final two ninjas on the left side.
Early tries to stand as the last ninja and Zuuma hack at him. Dziga springs into the melee which draws enough attention for Early to get on his feet. Zuuma’s weapon lashes out and wraps around the blade of Cryssaegrym, and the weapon is yanked from Early’s hand! “Damn you, ninja!” says Early as he grips Sheol with both hands and executes a Swooping Dragon Strike. Zuuma’s head goes flying from his shoulders and hot blood sprays all over the place. Dziga attacks the final ninja although the ninja should have dodged it, Dziga triggers the Impossibility Cube to change reality and make the blow connect. The ninja dies from Asura stabbing him in the face.
Zuuma’s arena of mist dissipates upon his death, and the Rosegate Company takes all the valuable gear possessed by their dead foes. Mr Arturius pays them and they head home, happy with a job well done.