Teasers

Teaser May 1213

Despite being in the waning months of Spring you wouldn’t quite know it. Rain has been falling steadily for the past week now. Like the weather, the news around Rues is of mostly a dreary hue with but scant bright spots shining through the grey haze cast across the heavens.

Plague has come suddenly to the land showing no regard for mortal boundaries. It has no known cure, cares not for age or gender, and strikes with no discernible pattern. The common folk have taken to calling it the Emerald Pox on account of the sickly green pustules which can be found on the corpses of its victims. The Church’s response has been to send in well-armed troops to investigate.

What news comes out of the Wild Nation is particularly dire. With each passing month the death toll rises as the Undead which have amassed within the Imba’nire Forest gain more ground. While no single Tribe has been wiped out Crow Tribe has suffered some staggering losses. No one has been able to uncover where they are coming from or what motivates them to slaughter the people of the forest. Some scholars have started to hypothesize that at the current estimated rated of death the Wild Nation will not survive the coming Winter without some sort of aid.

The bright, sunny ray of hope at this time is the upcoming wedding of Godrick and Nassra Dwyre, of the Inlyrican and Shiaran Dwyre’s respectively. The wedding will take place at 3 PM on Saturday at the Pyredown Estate of Lord Alomaine Banrion of Shiara. All residents of Fortune’s Bend are welcome to attend. Feel free, but not obligated, to bring a gift.

One last note…word has spread around Fortune’s Bend that all mages, and those aspiring to learn magic, are welcome to attend a gathering upon the uppermost floor of the Tavern directly after breakfast on Saturday morning.

Teaser Aug 1213

Heat and harvest provide the backdrop for the news from the churches that has shocked the whole of Rues. Stemming from the church of Severrin, all of the faiths have given warning that Ravvin, an angel of Severrin, has been sent to test the people of Rues. Many forces, most notably the Chappelarie, have stepped forth with statements on what has caused this test, and how pious individuals might pass it. Rumors have filtered in that the ripples have hit the emperor as well, who is under pressure to end the Age of Piety and announce the beginning of a new age.

Other whispers heard across Rues have come whispers of a another problem. The arcane community is shrinking and many of the more vocal members have claimed that they are under attack. Other voices have chimed in with suspicion, citing that the last time this many arcanists disappeared, it was followed by unprecedented destruction.

Distraught missionaries report that situation in the Wild Nation remains bleak, though all imperial offers of aid have been turned down. With no other recourse, many are looking to the neutral people of Fortune’s Bend whose offer of assistance has been accepted.

On the political scene, there is some cause for celebration as in the wake of a political wedding, Shiara and Inlyrico have arranged for several of their ranking members to meet and discuss the problems that threaten both of their regencies, most particularly the tests of Ravvin. There has been no talk of addressing the Proposal for Decency or other factors contributing to their original fracture, but most people in the know are happy that they are speaking at all.

Rising in the wake of the successful ceremony are a rash of wedding announcements including the recent marriage of Lord Mason Atasir to Lady Elizabeth Rojeur, the betrothal of Lady Faeda Garvin to Lord Daschel Rojeur, and most prominently, the Lady Regent Mira Onnathea of Inlyrico and Brother Parvell Keane of the Council of Regents have set the date of their wedding for the first day of fall

In addition, Isou University has made a deal with the miracle town of Fortune’s Bend to open a university annex a few miles outside the town. Denizens of the town will be able to reap the benefits of the university’s resources and attend special classes offered at the annex. It also ensures that the archaeological finds in and around the town are given the expert care and analysis that they deserve. All those interested are invited to attend the grand opening of the university annex at four o’ clock in the afternoon on Saturday.

Each person who regularly travels to Fortune’s Bend, or lives there, or is arriving there during the Late Summer Gather, will have the following dream:

You are flames surrounded by darkness, each of you distinct, but together making up the brightest point of light in a twisted landscape. Portions of it look familiar: the mountains rising; the craggy broken land to the west; the uncertain soft ground in the northeast; hot wind kicking up black sand in the south; and dark islands of calm in a swirling ocean. These and more are tickle at your senses, but you find your focus is squarely on yourself, the flickering light.

From all around spring tiny purple moths, unfolding themselves from the bark of the blackened trees, crawling out from dark puddles. They shake off the darkness and fly, flitting among you. Bouncing around between them is a voice, strong and resonant.
“You have come to this gate and claimed the land around it as your own. You have won it, and protected it. You have kept it apart from the iron grip of the Al’tiesh and the well-meaning hands of your allies. You have gathered six seals and bound them to vital places with your will.
In the tavern you have bound the Dagger of the Void, the weapon carried by my daughter and used to tear open a hole between worlds.
In the Hearth you have bound the Spiritstone of the Abandoned, the burden carried by those who grieve.
In the temple of the Keeper you have bound a thing I cannot see, but feel to be mine.
In the temple of the Omniscient you have bound the Shackles of the Sworn, for an obligation that can not be left behind.
In the temple of the Shepherd you have bound the Lost Gauntlet, the will to overcome.
Upon the river docks you have bound the Mask of Atravene, one who forsook my world for yours.

“But a seventh seal remains, one that you will earn if you are strong enough to be the warders of this place. To do this is to protect the sanctity of death, to prevent the abuse of a Shade fulcrum, to defend the purity of holy ground,.. to balance the world so that it does not sunder. No normal gathering of the Purposed Races could accomplish this, so you must be more than that. To succeed, you must become all that you are capable of and help those around you to do the same. Tonight, we will see if there is even the faintest hope.

“You will face a test of my design. Your faith and your loyalties will only be welcome here if they are truly yours. To make a place for them, you must destroy what place they had and reestablish it within the pact. I will provide you with the avenue to do this, but you must conquer the challenge. On the first night that you all gather, a guide will appear to lead you to the fight, and to know what must be done. During this challenge, my gate will close. If you should fall, you will instead approach my gate, where the Moth of the Gate will tend to your spirit.

“To pass these challenges you must identify yourselves in five groups, as even as can be, whose members represent the diverse nature of this town. Too many from one faith, one coterie, one nation, one race, will weaken them.

“If you succeed, our pact is sealed and those who stay within its boundaries will be expected to abide by it. Your place as warders will be cemented, and you will be known by all nations and faiths as such. If you succeed, you will have a chance to put things right again. If you fail, I will find those strong enough to succeed.”

The voice fades out, and the flitting moths, one by one, draw too close to your flames and are burned away.

Teaser Nov 1213

The tests of the Genesori, administered by Ravvin, continue to appear across Rues. So far there is no discernible pattern to the appearance of the undead, and every town and city remains fearful that their home will be the next target. The effects are definitely noticeable now, especially in outlying farms whose fields lay untended, crops rotting in the ground. The Chappelarie has quelled the fear somewhat, their ministers traveling far and wide to distribute information on how Ravvin’s tests will be passed. Their early successes have been often repeated, though a few villages have also been lost. Oliver Arrawny of the Chappelarie has issued a statement that their ministers can teach, but it is upon the people themselves to learn and to to turn their knowledge into armaments against the ravages of the test.

In addition, all across Rues, those farms that have remained intact have reported smaller harvests than in years past. Crops that reached maturity without incident were lost during the harvesting process, leaving farmers confused and storehouses only half full. It was remarked upon by several farmers as being “plain weird.”

Word from Pyredown speaks of the sudden illness that has taken both the imperial Chief Inspector Camilla Giovanizzi as well as the Quartermaster Prime, Laudus Giovanizzi. The pair exhibit similar symptoms and are presumed to have encountered the same contagions. Reports from their bedside indicate the others in their family have fallen ill as well. Outpourings of sympathy have come to Pyredown in response, showing the respect and love that accumulated by the long-serving family.

The people of Fortune’s Bend were able to assist the Wild Nation in stopping the advance of the undead within the forest. Missionaries from Inlyrico report that no more ground has been lost to the creatures, nor has any been gained. The last two weeks have been marked by a curious silence from the ranks of the Bled, a welcome respite but also a worrisome herald.

Within Inlyrico itself, they celebrated the joyous occasion of the Lady Regent Miria Onnathea’s wedding to her long-time Councilor, Brother Parvell Keane. It was remarked that the wedding’s beauty outshone all those that came before, and the joy of the genesori at the union was made clear by a strong wind that came and rang the highest and heaviest bells of the cathedral. It is expected that Brother Keane will soon retire from his place on the Council of Regents to attend to his new duties within Inlyrico.

Of interest to the scholarly community is the successful opening of the Annex of Isou University in Fortune’s Bend, and the accompanying resumption of the archaeological exploration of the area. Artifacts are being tended by the Aussengaurd and will be available for study and learning by all Isou students. In addition, the people of Fortune’s Bend will be able to pursue their own education while remaining as protectors of the neutral territory. The first three classes being offered by the annex include Professor Higginbottom’s Introduction to the Shade at 1PM on Saturday, Professor Damiano’s course on Magic at 4PM, and Professor Venopoulos’ History of Fortune’s Bend class at 9PM. The university has been asked how it plans to run classes on time in the notoriously chaotic climate of Fortune’s Bend, and their response was “We’ll do our best. We hope to make things happen on time, of course, but students in this particular venue have so much else to do that is important. We trust they will not let our class schedule keep them from those things.”

Teaser Feb 1214

The Pyredown Picaresque
Volume III, Fortune’s Bend Edition

Have you heard the news? Anbara is looking at a new venue for their next Great Games – Fortune’s Bend! If the location is deemed suitable, this will be the first time in recorded history that a Great Game has occurred outside of the kingdom itself!

The word on the street is that they are sending Mando el Afandi, a favorite of the queen, to evaluate the site. As part of the evaluation, Fortune’s Bend will play host to two sets of games. At one in the afternoon, Mando will introduce Anbara’s Seat of Archery, Osahar Chuma, who will be lead challenger in a series of archery and range games. Following that, at two thirty, Mando will introduce the Eye of the Ibis, a professional gladiator team who will act as challengers in the melee games.

The venue test is being sponsored by the Rues-renowned factory, Lord Adad’s glassworks, and the final melee round will be for the sponsor’s prize, a sum worthy of the blood that will be spilled! Come one, come all, make bets or try your luck!

In addition to the honor of the Anbaran games, Fortune’s Bend will be doubly honored with the dinner attendance of Lady Regent Miria Onnathea of Inlyrico, and the Lady Regent Lyrenna Silvia of Shiara, who will attend the neutral territory to discuss peace between their regencies in the wake of the Sende Trial, the conflict surrounding the Proposal for Decency, and no small number of skirmishes.

If politics over supper is not your bag, you may then be interested to know that the area’s most learned arcane minds will be meeting directly after breakfast to discuss the year’s developments. Those of similar arcane bent are invited to join them and learn.

As well as things are going for the miracle town, things outside it are looking troubled still. The poor crop of autumn made a drastic recovery late in the season, but it was curtailed by the sudden onslaught of cold and frost – it promises to be a very nasty winter. The masses of walking dead sent to test the conviction of the faithful are unaffected by the cold and now have allies in the form of the Proctors. This ecclesiastical order has formed in just the last year, a fervent group of men and women who rally to Ravvin’s banner, eager to help Him test the faith of Rues.

Vitriol from the rivers is added to the mix, probably caused by increased imperial presence. If there were any doubt, the Vascoll want everyone to know – the rivers belong to the Vascoll! It remains to be seen how Pyredown will react to this increased fervor.

And last, in the Strange but True category… have you heard about the corpses in the Shade? I’m no scholar, but I wasn’t even aware that Shade beings could die, much less leave behind pale, icky corpses. It sure makes me glad that I’m out here and not in there!

Stay Subscribed, Fancy Readers

 

 

If you have signed up for or are interested in a class this season, please see the following schedule. I’m excited to announce the addition of a new class that any are welcome to attend. I have included the description below – I’d highly recommend it.

NEW! Structures and Organization in Secular and Devout Commissions/Obligations
Time: Saturday, 4:00 PM
Instructor: Rancour, E.
Have you been wondering where you belong? Where to fit in? How to be just a little more faithful? This course is for you! Our knowledgeable instructor will give an overview of organizations across Rues, with a particular focus on sanctioned orders of the churches. This is your chance to learn about the options for your social and religious future!

Hands-On History
Time: Friday, 12:30 AM
Instructor: Linnaeus
Current Roster: Nuri, Braous, Godrick, Priscilla, Cag, Torgmog, Wolf

Common Worship: Religion in Rues
Time: Saturday, 1:00 PM
Instructor: Venopoulos, S.
Current Roster: Nuri, Braous, Godrick, Priscilla, Cag, Cassandra, Zarya, Vayros

Introduction to Demonology
Time: Saturday, 2:30 PM
Instructor: Nyrimil, P.
Current Roster: Nuri, Priscilla, Cag, Cassandra, Zarya, Torgmog, Rykan, Godrick, Vayros

See you in Class,
Sabira

Teaser May 1214

Along the cliffs and crags that define the coastal edge of Volbrecht, the seas have turned violently angry. They crash against the rocky promontories with vengeful strength, white spray from the waves sometimes reaching as high as the Krugs on top of their mesas. Some folks say that it is caused by heavy storms far out on the ocean. Others say it is the same monsters of the deep that make sea travel impossible, tossing and rolling under the water. Still others say that it is a further test of the Genesori, sent alongside the tests of Ravvin. Imperial and church officials have offered no answers yet, and so the people of the Brechtish coast just watch and prepare while the waves grow larger.

The Council of Regents has been called, and in rare form, many of the Regents have responded to the call in person rather than allowing their councilors to hold the floor. Reports from Pyredown suggest that, once again, it’s all about the Proposal for Decency. After weeks of what one satirist called “dog-fighting in the pit of amendments,” the Proposal for Decency has been passed as imperial law in a new, amended format. The long-ranging effects of this legislation remain to be seen, but some are certain that it will still lead to a split among the more orthodox and more liberal regencies in the empire.

For now, each regency is working with the churches and Chappelarie to form its first Boards of Patronage in the large cities. These bodies will be the ones who review and categorize the artwork according their nature and worth. Oliver Arrawny of the Chappelarie is overseeing the process, supported by Matriarch Rosilta of the church of Garioch, who has been elected as the chief justice of the Proposal and is in charge of facilitating cooperation between the churches and the Chappelarie on as the Proposal becomes a reality.

Many artists are understandably uneasy about this development. The text of the newly revised proposal has not been widely circulated and there is much uncertainty among the artist community about what will soon be permissible and impermissible. There have been several hastily arranged artistic displays and showings as artists try to get their more challenging material out to the public before it falls under the purview of the Boards of Patronage.

Even in the aftermath of its passing, many of the regents have remained in Fort Firetol while the laws are put into practice. What exactly they are discussing has not been shared, but word on the grounds is that the discussions have been heated.

Though not attracting as much attention as the new legislation, the miracle town of Fortune’s Bend has not escaped the news. There are whispers that the Anbaran games may not be held there after all, after the game’s ambassadors were rebuffed. While the rumors are still only rumors, it has caused a number of the town’s initial critics to repeat their earlier skepticism, that a truly neutral territory was an impossible feat for such a mixed group of townsfolk.

Of course, all of this gossip is easier to come by in the larger settlements, which are the exception in the empire. All across the land in the towns and villages, most citizens still have their eyes turned toward the churches or Chappelarie, hoping and praying for guidance on how the tests of the Genesori might be passed before the angelic horde appears at their gates.

Scholars warn that the trouble is not only in Rues. There continue to be unexplained deaths in the Shade, which, even stranger, leave behind pale corpses. No one knows what to make of it, but those who study the Shade have expressed grave concerns about what could cause such a bizarre occurrence.

Teaser Sept 1214

Throughout the summer months, reports of undead activity have spread across Rues as the tests of the Genesori continue. It seems as though Ravvin has set his most recent stage for the tests in the Underholme and it has been said that those denizens have not been successful thus far. The Underholme, as well as other areas, have been rife with plague as pockets of this affliction have begun popping up throughout the lands. In other news, word has come down from Patriarch Krassus of the High Church of Koreel that a cult referred to as the “Order of Azrah” has been marked as a Blasphemous Cult. All members of this cult should be regarded as Blasphemers and as dangerous enemies of the Genesori for their sacrilegious views of The Keeper of the Sacred Earth and their actions against the Church. The faithful of Koreel in Fortune’s Bend are to thank for having this cult identified and set to be dismantled. OOG Notes We’re looking forward to seeing everyone this weekend, but there are a few important notes we’d like to share about this upcoming event. 1. This weekend will be hot. Please take the proper precautions by drinking plenty of water! Speaking of water, Numina staff would like to solicit donations for cases of bottled water for CP! Please send an email to spice_mwe@yahoo.com to let us know if you can donate a case or two. Thank you in advance! 2. Players should make every effort to make opening ceremonies or send a reliable representative with a good understanding of rules. 3. This event the plague has become an imminent threat. Players might be tainted with Pox points during this event, or degrees of Pox. Characters may feel that something unfortunate will happen if they get too many points/degrees of Pox inflicted upon them. 4. Each time you are affected by an “Inflict Pox” effect you will gain one degree of Pox. Each time you receive a “Cure Pox” effect you will be cleansed of one degree of Pox from your total. If you ever reach seven total points you are consumed by Pox. Turn to spirit and go to monster camp. More information will be released at Opening Ceremonies and during the course of the game. We apologize in advance if this occurs. 5. In addition, places of plague may appear during the event in certain areas. These places of plague will have bits of green light. Players who fall onto these chasms, step into them, reach over them to attack something on the other side with a melee weapon, or attempt to pass through them will gain one degree of Pox. You probably don’t want to do this.

Teaser Nov 1214

While the tests of the Genesori continue across the lands, reports of skirmishes from the forgotten realm of Drakkenspar are cropping up. While several small conflicts have occurred between the forces of the various nations and Drakkenspar, things have been relatively quiet thus far. The word among the populace is that perhaps Drakkenspar is “all bark and no bite”. It has been said, however, from those amongst the inner circles of the military tacticians of Volbrecht that this may be just the calm before the storm.

In religious news, it has been rumored that the temple of Severrin in Fortune’s Bend has received numerous donations as of late and that it now houses the bones of a Saint. It is even said that several followers of Severrin have begun to make their pilgrimage to the renowned site to see the remains for themselves. A census in recent months has been conducted on the tithing from each church. It seems that on average the Churches of Jormic, Koreel, and Istarum have shown to have received more generous reports of tithing whereas the churches of Severrin and Garioch have held steady at a modest amount. The Church of Koreel still battles against the cult known as the Order of Azrah. Although it seems that their numbers have diminished, the group has become brazen in their efforts and has gone as far as attempting to force entry into the High Church itself. It is reported that the Church is now on high alert.

After a sabbatical, Lyrenna Silvia has reappeared on the Shiaran political scene with a vengeance. Within the last few weeks she has commissioned an unusual number of artistic works of all types, though with a heavy leaning toward songs. She has stated a purpose of reinvigorating the art world in the wake of the Laws of Decency and once again unifying the art world across the nations. In a bold first step, the majority of her commissioned work was given to Braeic artists rather than those of her home regency.

Hey, those rumors are back – there might be some Anbaran games hosted in Fortune’s Bend! Once again the queen’s favorite, Mando el Afandi, is scheduled to make an appearance in the little town to work out some details. Get your betting markers ready!

With the capture of their leader, the Brechtish rebel group known as the Dirt Warriors have been lashing out desperately, targeting small holdings and laying ambushes on roads. Their attacks have become almost arbitrary, as of the nine knights and warlords they have killed, only two were outspoken against serf rights, and one was even a known proponent of serf literacy. This has caused many of the warlords of Volbrecht to demand jurisdiction from the empire to retrieve the leaders of the Freeman’s Movement from Fort Hawksclaw.

Trade with the Underholm has slowed significantly, with little explanation. Traders stationed near the major exits from the Underholm report that many fewer caravans are coming to the surface, and those that do are being waylaid by officials from the Churches of Severrin and Garioch, only released after some manner of inspection. Ambassador Volos Vondran has given a public statement when asked about this situation, stating that nothing is out of the ordinary and the Ereskial Oligarchy happily complies with the needs of the Churches, as they too are faithful of the Genesori.

Teaser Feb 1215

Those who have traveled Rues lately have felt it. Streets are quiet, and folk scurry from one cover to the next like mice on the forest floor. Shops close early, and shepherds try to keep their herds close to home. In all but the largest cities, despair has gripped the nations and their people.

Just in the last month as bards and traders have made their way through the cities and back out to outskirts of civilizations, a spark of hope has followed in their wake. A message from the Miracle Town of Fortune’s Bend proclaiming a great victory, a handle to grasp for whole settlements that were drowning in fear. You are not alone, say the voices from Fortune’s Bend. Stay strong, keep your faith, and know that we stand with you.

Near its end, one line reads “Remember the teachings of the Genesori; remember that even when the night is darkest there is a light to guide you.” For many, their prayers go to the genesori, but their eyes turn toward Fortune’s Bend, and hope of aid from those who have managed to not only survive, but to turn back the tide of destruction. The document is signed simply by the Heralds of Hope.

In Fort Firetol, an unannounced meeting of the full imperial council was called, and ended with news that shocked the regencies and the churches alike. The Guardians of Virtue, the council of priests that was formed at the empire’s inception to inform the emperor on matters of faith, has been called into question. Those in the know say that the influential speaker was a member of the clergy, and most seem sure that it was someone high-ranking in the church of Garioch. Whatever was said, it is clear that for the first time in imperial history, the entrenched Guardians are on the very edge of losing their power.

The already troubled churches were once again struck when Father Edward Giovanizzi, previously best known for his assignment to Fortune’s Bend, stood in front of the holiday mass in Fort Firetol and informed the most politically connected congregation in all of Rues that the tests of Ravvin had been investigated, and that the initial analysis was wrong. He named Ravvin as a threat to every nation. He called for every faithful of the empire, the federation, and beyond to set their lives against Ravvin, for he has betrayed the heavens. He seemed to have the support of the Church of Severrin as his announcement was backed up by Charlene Greenwall, one of the advisors to High Patriarch Aaron Hawthorne of the church of Severrin.

Beneath this buzz in the political world, those with their ears trained for more occult news are whispering about something else. From every corner of Rues, but localized particularly in Shiara and Braeus, private homes and churches have been raided in the night. The target of these raids has become clear, as from each locale the only things to go missing have been bones of the ancestors entombed within the crypts and mausoleums.

In addition, an unusual figure has been spotted in taverns and on street corners, one day in Anbara, the next in Inlyrico, and a scant few hours later in a Vascoll dock. He calls himself the Trickster, and as he travels he offers games of chance to any who will play. The prizes and prices have both drawn comment, but the curious searchers have so far been left unsatisfied, as it seems impossible to predict where the Trickster will next appear.

The invasion of Drakkenspar continues, with the invader using guerrilla tactics and magics unknown to the populace of Rues. Savage Aquians raid Vascoll boats in the night leaving adrift flotillas covered in gore and viscera with few survivors to tell the tale. Spellswords, long thought eradicated, cut down the forces of Rues with their ancient magics and forgotten powers. Eyes turn to Fortune’s Bend as the populace wonders if perhaps the answer to this invasion lies within the ranks of the valiant heroes oh so often called upon to face the impossible.

Teaser Sept 1215

News tumbles from Fort Firetol like the first rocks of an avalanche. The princess Bellasara, the emperor’s sister, has gone missing while on her charity tour through Volbrecht. In the imperial capital, those who are tired of Volbrecht’s “incessant bellyaching” are calling for the emperor to put an end to the long-time coddling of the empire’s troubled son. In Volbrecht, the well-known anti-imperial Weinart and Zweig have been joined by heretofore silent bannermen such as the Waechter and the Mensch.

On the coattails of that tragedy, the age-old plague of Pyredown has returned. giant scorpions have emerged from caves and forgotten valleys to attack travelers and small towns. Their poison and pincers have already claimed lives and maimed others. The calls for help from the outlying settlements have received the imperial army is already heavily taxed fighting Ravvin’s forces and mobilizing inside Volbrecht in the search for the princess.

The burglary of sanctums and mausoleums has continued, mainly in Shiara and Braeus, with the principal target of the thieves being the revered bones held within the tombs. Many families have increased the guards on their family property and subsequently found the watchmen stricken with disease or starvation and the mausoleums raided.

Also mysterious, there have been rumors of missing children and lost parents returning home after many weeks away. Those who return speak of a great sea battle, and their freedom being granted by a beautiful woman, “The Maiden Savior” they call her as they speak tales of what horrible fates may have awaited them if not for their rescue. No one seems to know who this person is, or why she did what she did, they only know their chains were cut and they were freed, spared a life of servitude by this heroine.

Even more than before, eyes turn toward the heroes at Fortune’s Bend to contend with the terrible news and increasing odds.

Teaser 2015 June

The Nightingale sat in the Shade hidden from view, watching those who moved about the town of Fortune’s Bend. So many adventurers, all with their own stories, their own desires and goals. All of whom were aligning themselves against Ravvin. He loved to watch them, some dozed and napped, fighting was as easy to them as sleep and they went from one to the next as readily as breath. Others trained to fight harder, practicing in the field near the Alentina. Yet others read books upon books, heaped at their feet mastering spells unknown to the world at large. In the background was music from bards, and those caregivers who felt the call to bring whatever they could to the fight, to keep bellies fed and the hearth warm, in many ways, a gentle reminder of exactly what they were fighting to protect.

“Why did you call us here? You know you will suffer for it, you broke the deal we made.” The First One spoke quietly, standing next to him and observing the people.
“I’m not the sort for rules.. neither were you, remember? These people need more than I can offer. Each of us… we sacrificed something great, but our change in the world is finite.. limited, there has to be another way, I’m going to do something, and.. well, you’re not going to like it.” His tone was levied with a sort of stern determination, a focus as he watched the bards in the distance practice.

“So what do you think you’ve accomplished by bringing the realm here? What do you plan on doing?” Her stern voice caused him to recoil a bit, wary.

 

“It’s my mantle now Gail, and there only needs to be one of us. The realm was there so that we could come get guidance from our past selves. but we’ve been locked away. I’m going to destroy it, and put that power to better use.” He clenched his jaw, looking towards her. The others were in view in the shadows, watching him. More than the other three, but dozens in the distance in half forms. All the heroes standing and watching the town with him, spread throughout the Shade, all drawn to the realm, to the laylines of shadow he had woven like a great web across rues.
“What about the rest of us? Where will we go?”

“Phantoms and Wraiths, all of you. All dead and gone in one form or another, memories and nothing more. We don’t need to be remembered right now, we don’t need a home, we need to do something real. They’re fighting an angel, and they’ll all die if they don’t win. Besides, the Tabula Rasa forbade us from coming back anyway… I’m just keeping our end of the bargain.”

“Show me your conviction then, and we’ll see how the story unfolds. I’m not going to let you destroy it without a fight.” She unsheathed her sword and leveled it at his chest.

 

The Shade quaked as he faced off from the first hero, the one who stood with purpose in defiance, and paid the ultimate price… everything was silence, and for a moment a whole realm of the Shade dissipated, absorbed into his body. He smiled softly, almost sadly and leveled his bow towards her, red fletching quivering under the strain of the draw. He was nothing if not inventive, and he had planned a long time.

 

“You’re the First. You gave up everything for a people you love, and you were a far better person than I. Perhaps I’ll be the Last. We sacrifice, but we do not give up, we fight with everything we have and hope that it will be enough. I hope to see you again.”
The fight itself was short and brutal, neither held back, and at the end, her sword struck deep into his heart, piercing from front to back. He loosed his arrow a final time, and a groove appeared on her cheek as it sliced and flew past her wide, a pure tone ringing out as the arrow struck steel off in the distance.

“You missed.” Her words had a ghost of sadness.

“Depends on the target..I still have things to accomplish..”
As he fell, a shockwave of red fire and feathers blew out from his body, immolating his flesh to spirit. The realm of the Sacrificial Hero shattered into pieces and scattered to the wind, following laylines of shadow that he spent the past year building. They acted as guides and channels, funneling the shards deep into the very hearts of those heroes of Fortunes Bend, finding their homes and beds, hearts and souls, no matter how near or far, and the world felt an exhale as each bit of feather and flame found a new cage in the hearts of the Purposed, strengthening their spirits for the fight to come.

The First looked around as she drew her sword clean from the fading remains. For a moment she seemed resigned, almost dissapointed, but then as she looked towards the tavern she saw his arrow, neatly buried in the post under the bell of death, the knocker still swaying, she let out a light laugh and shook her head. “I see. Well… let’s play this out. I hope your faith in them is well founded.”

She slung her sword and turned, beginning to walk away..the Phantoms of the former heroes gone into the Shade in various directions. With no home to turn to, they would have to find their own way.

Somewhere in the distance, The Whipporwill began to sing in earnest, a song of dangerous joy, she was free of her cage and ready to fly.