Rise of the Northern Star

Moonday descending fire 16

The townsfolk, and especially the miners are all but up in arms terrified of returning to the mines after all this but knowing full well what will happen if they refuse, Several of them Approach mountain asking for him to use his power to deliver them from this fate and free them from the haslanti. which he promises to do in good time.

Ni’Esti meanwhile sets about preparing the party’s weapons to fight ghosts as well as cooking up a potion that will allow the group to see and affect immaterial beings for a period of time.

a sizeable group of icewalkers Also arrive to a less than warm welcome that ends in short lived violence. Strength of the north recognizes a few of them as being the bulls men.
The icewalkers are of the wolf tribe a group that stayed north to police the Bull’s holdings while he headed east to halta. They Came to diamond hearth searching for news of the bull as they knew it was his last known destination.
their Leader Zeru has heard both mundane and ridiculous rumors about the bull’s fate but knows he intended to head north from Tzatli in search of a powerful artifact he and Samea had unearthed the location of. The rumor is that a birthmark in the shape of a map was found on the side of a yeddim the tribes had slain and was fonf as they prepared it for tanning and shaved it’s fur off. the bull and Samea suppossedly studied this to plot their course and were very excited about what they had found.

Pale Ice meanwhile seeks out an Immaculate monk he had heard about in an effort to bolster the city’s ghost fighting ability. instead he met the captain of the mercenary Company that the monk belonged to. led by a woman called Gegas Leto They signed on with the city to help defend should widowmaker attack.

After more deliberation the group prepared to descend into the shadowland again.

After sneaking past the ghost patrols the group found and penetrated the Tomb of bright shattered ice. navigating it’s dangerous defenses left the group i terrible shape by the time they reached the final chamber. Strength of the northern horizon and Pale ice were both poisoned by automoton assassins and were turning to gold, and Strength himself has become chemically addicted to a drug that he breathed in while in the tomb which urges him to return to it. Auspicious sun praising mountain had his gender shifted to female by a shaping effect. H’rann Ni’Esti’s companion was rendered catatonic by one of the traps in the maze. Hooded Shadow was nearly killed by one of the traps and lays greviously injured.

In the end however they did not find widowmaker’s body as they had hoped but left with a number of first age relics, in addittion they discovered a crystal matrix of essence that retains the knowledge of Bright shattered Ice, the made this Simulacrum as she prepared to kill herself wanting to preserve her research and knowledge for the future. from this they learned the command codes to take control of the crystal legion, however it was noted that Widowmaker would still be recognized as a superior officer and if personally present could still override their control. they also learned the location of widowmaker’s home in the city as well as the location of the military academy where he spent the majority of his time

returning to Diamond Hearth they found that the mercenary Gregas Leto was an accomplished Apothecary and was able to make an antidote for the golden Venom, this left Ice and Strength Retching all night and exhausted the next day but cured nonetheless.

Also of note the City Father of Diamond Hearth Wu Ya returned with information on widowmaker, while it was unfortunately nothing new he reminded the group that they now owed him a favor.

the group now planned to evacuate they city and try to challenge the ghost to a duel but with all of them in poor condition the validity of this plan was questionable. as they planned however an alarm went up that a death knight was entering the city. The Abyssal Exquisite Vengeance, came with dire news. Widowmaker had allied himself with the Deathlord known as The Lover Clad in the Rainment of Tears. He explained that she was sending troops as well as a Deathknight to lead these troops in battle. Vengeance wanted to be allowed to assist in putting down this abyssal and the lovers forces having no desire to take control of diamond hearth.

As morning approaches Mountain and Dust try to make a new plan for the city while the rest of the group recovers from their injuries.

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Sunday descending fire 15

An emissary emerges from the mines at nightfall to carry a proclamation to the council on Shogun Widowmakers behalf.

“Greetings Residents of Diamond hearth, I am shogun widowmaker, acting ruler of Tzalti. It has recently come to my attention that you and your people are the descendants of the citizens of my great city. As such you are citizens as well. I would like to make it clear that I mean you no harm. This is in fact a glorious day. Tzalti is happy to welcome you all back into its arms and to share with you all of the benefits of its ancient wonders. Your city shall become part of Tzalti and we will rebuild all that has been lost to us. I know that you are a proud freedom loving people so I propose a simple solution. You will retain your freedom and simply become a tributary to the new Tzalti nation. A portion of your resources shall be tithed to rebuilding what was lost as well as building diamond hearth into a permanent and powerful force all its own. If this is not satisfactory to you I am afraid you leave me no choice but to bring you to heel with a military response. I warn you that I am an accomplished general with an undead army and wonders at my disposal the likes of which you have never seen. So I wold highly recommend you give my offer due consideration. you have three days to submit to me or i shall take your silence as an act of defiance and act accordingly."

This lead to an emergency meeting of the city Council. The major conversation point Being that there are 2 months until winter proper arrives. they need to finish this quickly or they’ll all be killed, you don’t make war in the north during winter, and the undead will have no aversion to the cold. it is agreed that if they do not put widowmaked down in a month they will have to abandon the city and hope to retake it in the summer.

another major point now is that their reinforcements are still so far off. it is determined that they have a standing force of nearly 500 mercenaries currently being emplyed by the city. in addittion to a roughly equal amount of icewalker refugees in the slums. but it is determined that they have no strong general to lead them. This leads to the uncovering of Falling dust in the storm. a solar mercenary who had only recently arrived in the city seeking work and seeking to learn more about the group of solars who had recently arrived there. he is determined to be the best tactician in Diamond hearth’s employ and is effectively press Ganged into taking the position.

After weighing many options the group determines that the Council will make preperations to evacuate the city on Councilwoman Allston’s Airship which she has kept in the city for the eventuality of the situation in Diamond Hearth going south. While the council does this the Solars plan to take the route plotted by Plith and Luce to The Tomb of bright Shattered Ice where they believe they will find widowmaker’s body and destroy it, cutting the head off the army.

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Earthday Descending Fire 14

Three days after the return from tzalti another solar appears in town Pale Ice is a well known negotiator and go between for supernatural forces and was asked by the council to address the Widowmaker situation. while he meets with the council Ni’Esti, and H’rann hunt and Mountain prepares a large cremation service and funerary rights in the slums. The spectacle of this draws pale ice to watch but before he can properly make introductions there is a cave in at the mines.

Ghosts from tzalti attack and kill several miners and the party heads in to deal wth them but pale ice tries to open negotiations with widowmaker. they agree to make no further attacks and will send an emmisary to speak to the council. the ghosts withdraw and pale Ice calls an emergency meeting with the council. they determine that they need to have a proper council meeting with representatives on the league but moving a military force to the area for a proper defense should the worst happen will take 2 weeks. in the meantime Pale Ice and niesti plan to seek out any informatuion they can find to deal with the situation.

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Waterday descending fire 11

The party awakens the next day to find Plith gone having left in the middle of the night and killing a pair of guards to enter the mines. They follow after him but suddenly find themselves in the Underworld having entered Tzalti’s Shadowland.

Tzalti rests in a deep valley and upon entering said valley the party notices that all the stars seem to have gone out. and the sky is a single tone of deep sapphire blue.

As they enter the city they find Kierns and Jenevieve near a broken wagon where Kierns has flown into a rage and is threatening her with his crossbow while she has a simple amused look on her face. The party enters the fray easily defeating Kierns and finding that their argument was over the wagon, when it broke Jenevieve informed them all that it was a bad sign and referred to her prediction of their deaths, which put Kierns on edge.

Entering the city proper reveals that despite the city’s state, millions of ghosts still go about their daily lives as if nothing has happened. Indeed a great amount of the city technology is still intact but not being used by the mortal ghosts. The ghosts wear simple plain white robes and the city seems to have nothing in the way of adornment on it’s inside seeming drab and lifeless. The ghosts will not speak long with the party as they still think derriliction of duty will get them taken away and all will behave in a quiet and mousy fashion. The streets are also patrolled by pairs of crystal legionnaires that attack the party on sight. Ni’esti understands old realm as they speak to each other in their ancient language he learns that they keep tryng to link to something called I AM but fail. The party decides to go with them to find the authority in the city.

They are taken to a man called Shogun Widowmaker, the ghost of a first age Dragon-Blooded who served as Captain of the Guard during the First Age. He rules in the place of their Solar Queen Bright Shattered Ice, who seems to have not left a ghost and whose reincarnated exaltation has not yet returned to claim the city. He warns them out of his city claiming he is losing patience with the scavengers of the nearby settlement stealing from him and warns them that he will not tolerate it for much longer. They promise to leave but instead go looking for Plith.

They find Plith at the Tomb where he has sacrificed Roncalli to summon up blood apes to pry open the tomb door the party arrives to stop him however slaying the beasts and taking his prisoner. they find that he carries a talisman with him that has trapped the ghost of lord pascaline inside it which he has been using to access the lord’s knowledge. His plan it seemed was to use his necromancy to raise the corpse of bright shattered ice and bind her to him making her a powerful weapon for him to use.

The party determines to leave Plith for Widowmaker in an attempt to appease him for their broken promise and withdraw back to Diamond Hearth where the captured ghost of pascaline exhonerates Luce before departing to the next life.

Widowmakers threat still looms on peoples minds though. He will not tolerate the mining of tzalti any longer. so what will they do…

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Fireday Descending Fire 10

The party decided to look into Maxim Bauer‘s herbalist shop, an old and rickety place with a swinging sign depicting the image of a mandrake root that looks strangely humanoid the shop keeps late hours open only during the late morning and early afternoon the shelves are dusty and the items are kept in moldy jars with scribbled labels perusing the store Ni’esti is able to tell that these herbs are garbage. Hooded Shadow talks to Bauer determining that he knows nothing about herbalism and everyone agrees that Luce is probably hiding here.

The group watches the place after closing hours seeing a smoking chimney they can be sure someone is inside. The party raids the place cornering Bauer. But when some of his hired muscle, a Dragon Blooded mercenary, bursts in Hooded Shadow kills him and the place devolves into a melee. The party makes short work of Bauer’s guards and take him prisoner finding luce hiding in the back room as well.

Interrogating the pair answered a lot of questions:

Luce and Bauer are criminals but they met while working as resurrectionists, that is they recover bodies for magical and medical experimentation, as well as other purposes they do not speak of. that is how luce first met Dr. Plith. When Plith Acquired a job working for the lord Pascaline he persuaded the Lord to hire Luce as a footman claiming that he worked cheaply. In reality Luce was working for half-price with the doctor paying his other half out of pocket just to have an ally in the house. Plith and Pascaline shared an interest in history and specifically in Tzalti, and Plith admitted the major reason he wanted to work in Pascaline’s estate was for access to his library. While they worked there Luce still supplied the doctor with bodies bringing the to his apothecary shop, and on one occassion made a venture into tzalti using directions Plith supplied from his research. Luce had come to a large tomb where he made a rubbing of the old realm script on the structure, though he admits he could not read it.

The night before the murder, Plith and Pascaline had a loud argument and that evening Pascaline called Luce to see him in private. Dr. Plith, he said, had spoken of things that caused him great distress and he was going to write a letter to the council concerning it, Luce was to carry this letter to them in the morning. Luce agreed and fully meant it having developed a greater fondness for the old lord than for plith. He spent the night packing his things and moved them to Bauer’s shop, planning to deliver the message in the morning and then dissappear in case Plith tried to drag him down as well. While he cannot prove that Plith is the murderer he feels there is more than enough evidence to support his story.

Neither Luce or Bauer wish for furthur involvement and wish simply to leave the city in peace. Luce does however tell the party the route he took to the tomb in Tzalti and the party resolves to go to the council about Plith

The problem though is that the councilmen all know Plith and the party are strangers and Anathema, their claims of Plith’s sorcery pale in comparison to the feats they have displayed since their arrival. Plith is easily able to shield himself from suspicion.

Hooded Shadow approaches the council after the meeting is adjourned and uses some of the credibility he has to get them to consider Plith’s crimes.

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Moonday Descending fire 9

The party set out immediately to search the city for more information. Early on they encountered a mob who believed they had found Luce, but were in fact beating a different beastman to death. Ni’esti, intervened and a fight broke out leading Strength of the Northern Horizon to make short work of the thugs while Hooded Shadow and Auspicious Mountain quieted the crowd and acquired the documentation needed to have them recognized as officials of the council.

With the situation resolved, the party went back to searching; suspicious of Doctor Plith they look into his activities a bit more closely.

Doctor Plith owned the apothecary shop in town. It’s a two-story wooden building. The ground floor is the shop and the upper floor is lodging though he had moved into Lord Pascaline’s manor at this point.

The shop was run by Jenevieve Tanneux , as Plith primarily concerns himself with the Lord’s needs.

They operate under the pretense of looking for medicine for the injured beastman and she gladly helps them, but has a strange “incredibly forthright” demeanor. As they go about their buisness the bounty hunter pair they met earlier arrive and are introduced as Kierns, a Haslanti hunter, and Roncalli is a swordsman from Cherak. They are dropping off supplies at the shop, and Jenevieve explains that the doctor has hired them to accompany him on an expedition. They try to shut her up but she is clearly unintimidated. They leave shortly, promising to find Luce before the party can and Jenevieve explains that the doctor has planned an expedition to Tzalti in a few days and hired those two as laborers. She also explains that Plith and Luce were friends for many years and mentions a mutual friend, an Herbalist named Maxim Bauer that plith buys ingredients from, and Luce did odd jobs for occassionally.

Before they leave, Hooded Shadow invites Jenevieve to dinner that evening and agrees to meet her here at the shop for a date. His Plan is to distract her while the others watch Plith’s movements at the Lord’s house and try to search the shop.

Ultimately, this becomes unnecessary as Jenevieve is incredibly cooperative and gives them the run of the place. They discover a basement to the building with a medical table covered in blood and equipped with restraints. Jenevieve calmly explains that Plith practices dentistry and other medical procedures here, but a search reveals a hidden compartment in the table’s pedestal inside is a book with no cover which was laid in a magical trap that was detected and avoided by the party. The book, it was discovered, was a copy of the Broken Winged Crane, and a copy of the Art of Sorcery, bound together. Jenevieve admits to having no knowledge of this. Furthur questions about the expedition revealed that she will go if the doctor asks, but would prefer not to since she has read their fortunes and determined that anyone entering Tzalti now will die within 7 days.

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Earthday Descending Fire 7

The Three Spears Inn was abuzz with the news that was covering the city. Council member and Lord Evard Pascaline had been robbed and murdered. Killed in his private chambers late the previous night. What’s more, it was apparently a member of his household staff who did it Hilliam Luce, his manservant, was allegedly paid by a foreign power to kill his master. he had since fled, confirming his guilt.

A proclamation was issued by the City Council:

Wanted for judgement! Hilliam Luce murderer of the beloved lord Evard Pascaline. He is a thin, dark-haired, short cat beastman, with a taciturn disposition. Caution must be taken as he carries a brace of flamepieces at all times. Citizens are urged to grant him no quarter. whoever captures him Alive or dead will be rewarded richly by the council.

The Lord Evard Pascaline was something of a reformer in Diamond Hearth. He kept his estate near the outer city and was renowned for his generosity. A famous story tells how he once gave 20 dinars to a man who came to his door simply begging for a meal. And he frequently employed Beastmen who honestly sought to find work in the cities. Pascaline was also a famous scholar who spent much of his youth researching Haslanti history. He died an elderly man with no heirs and his death has brought the Haslanti’s natural suspicion of outsiders to the forefront. The guards now form a ring around the inner city keeping those from the outer city out. Thusly, the act of searching for Luce fell to random armed citizens and mercenaries who patrol the streets.

The Party decided to look into this case for various reasons and visited Pascaline’s manor house.

The manor house was in something of an uproar surrounded by mourners holding vigil’s and guards keeping them at bay. The first attempt to gain entrance into the manor covertly by Hooded Shadow met with disastrous results, leading to a more direct approach informing the guards that as bounty hunters they would like to search for possible leads. Though watched carefully as they went about the house the group interviewed many of the household staff.

They learned that when Pascaline’s resident physician, Hubert Plith, rose to give the lord his nightly medicine he found the master’s study locked and Mr. Luce nowhere to be found. As such he got Gavaroche the elder servant to come with him and break the door down finding the lord slumped over his writting desk with a knife in his back. Whatever he had been writing was gone, destroyed, Plith surmised, by Luce. Dr. Plith believed that the master had learned something about Luce that the beastman wanted kept secret and killed him to keep it such. He also mentions that Luce was well-educated and spoke a number of languages which was most unusual for a low born servant and suspected him of being a spy.

When the party investigated the body Ni’esti was able to determine that the wound would not have been fatal and his Beastman brother H’rann used his ability to perceive essence to determine that a spell had been cast on the knife. Ni’esti’s occult background led him to believe that the murderer had cast “Assassins Fatal Touch” on the knife to commit the murder.

The party also encountered a pair of bounty hunters who looked to start a confrontation with them a quiet Haslanti man kalled Kierns, and a boasting foppish foreigner called Roncalli. Though they left without incident their appearance and interest in the party put everyone ill at ease. After eating and comparing notes the group determined to continue their search in the morning.

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The Solar's arrival in Diamond Hearth

Hooded Shadow of the Midday, a Night Caste Guild operative arrived in The city of his birth to perform a job for the Guild that never happened.

Auspicious Sun Praising Mountain, a Zenith caste was a Haslanti native who had wandered into the wilderness seeking enlightenment. He returned transformed and began a small order of Sun worshipers.

Strength of the Northern Horizon, A dawn caste agent of the bull of the north waited patiently in the city to rendevouz with the Bull himself for a special mission

Ni’esti, A Twilight caste raised by a Lunar sorceress arrived with his beastman brother H’rann searching for Samea, the Bull’s right hand and the most prominent Solar sorceress.

These five souls found themselves together in an overcrowded camp of refugees and miners when news struck of a murder within the city.

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Overview of Diamond Hearth
A brief summary of the city.

Diamond Hearth is predominantly a mining town. Those who have done well have a district of permanent stone homes while the rest of the city is a shantytown built from packing crates and canvass with frozen mud streets. Once a week (Moonday) an airship caravan arrives for shipping purposes.

Like all Haslanti cities it is run by a city council but here the council is made up entirely of the most wealthy people in the city. At the end of the day profit is the motivating factor for most decisions in the city.

The city has few attractions but the most prominent is the Three Spears Inn, where workers and upper class alike can come and enjoy themselves so long as they have coin. the building is also an eatery and bath house.

As things get started the city is a bit overwhelmed with the bull missing the icewalker tribes that were under his command have begun to desert hiring themselves as mercenaries or operating as brigands. Their sudden appearance and raids have caused countless refugees to seek shelter wherever they can, overwhelming the shantytowns of Diamond Hearth the guard are trying to keep order but things are bad. The slums are overflowing, Wyld barbarians are flooding into the city as well as stirring up prejudice and hate crimes against them and outright brawls in the streets.

Diamond hearth has something of a ghost problem. This stems from the fact that rather than properly burying their dead they chuck them down spent mine shafts. Add to this the fact that many miners are overworked and beaten slaves who can be killed and thrown down the shafts on a whim, it’s no wonder the city is a hair’s breadth away from having a Shadowland under it. To this end, all manner of terrifying creatures skulk the streets at night to prey on those too poor to properly defend themselves.

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