Immaculate Panacea - Area Recon
Smoke. The air is full of it. The undead around Fort Callisco have been burning things. Wood from the Talgon. Bodies. Mixed with chemicals. Sometimes it’s just smoke. Hard to breath. Unpleasant. Sometimes it’s different. Sometimes the people in it die. Choking. Coughing up blood. Sometimes it’s worse. Sometimes they begin to change…
The animals were once able to keep Commanders Squirrel and Jonakas informed, but the undead seem to be harvesting them to throw on the pyres.
Identify the locations of the pyres, ascertain how much dangerous material is available to burn, and if possible estimate when, where, and how these materials will be used.
Rewards: +3 Intel.
Penalties: 2 Legionnaires will die from exposure to the horrible clouds around Fort Callisco.
Inert Solution - Rescue Supplies
Opal has sent word that she and others of the faithful in the Talgon have gathered materials she believes The Legion could use. The siege has prevented her from effectively delivering them, but has sent details about where in the woods these things are now cached.
Rewards: +1 Religious Supplies. +1 Supply.
Inviolable Recipe - Assault
When the tide turned, the Banner Guard — an elite squad of the Legion — was tasked by General Shreya, Chosen of Asrika, Commander of Second Eastern Army, with a priority mission eastward. Your paths cross again! They need help clearing Old Empire catacombs beneath the fort, built centuries ago for honored Imperial soldiers and now overrun with undead. The Guard seeks a map to an artifact, inscribed on the shield buried with the Emperor’s lover.
You play a squad of Legion Rookies assigned to the Banner Guard Specialists. Requires: Only Rookies
Rewards: +3 Morale. +3 xp to each Legionnaire rookie that survives this mission.
- Adlara Koberel
- Adlara and her family were captured and taken to Wodz in the extermination camp guarded by Red Hook, and Adlara personally witnessed the death of her husband at the hands of Red Hook. By the time the Legion rescued her, the rest of her family had already been slain. When Adlara asked to enlist in the Legion, Marshal Trupattellen stared into her and saw the unshakeable fortitude of someone with nothing left to lose. In her first mission with the Shattered Lions, she witnessed the deaths of two other recruits, and when Corporal Tayovna and Albon were promoted, she found herself as the last of the squad. Recently reconstituted in the Talgon Forest with new members, she uncomfortably finds herself as the senior member of the squad and leader by default.
- Aldermani, Ingenious Hunter, Devil’s Own Luck, Scout 2 Rig 1 Skirmish 1 Shoot 2 Maneuver 1 Consort 1 Marshal 1
- Hashi “Scarlet” Vikenni
- From when she was an acolyte with Vazara, Hashi had grandiose dreams, of leading the faith and perhaps even becoming Vazara’s Chosen. When Minika was chosen instead, Hashi swallowed her sullen dismay and threw herself into the work of organizing the sisterhood, along with Lakshmi and Rakash, to support the First Eastern Army. When Minika was broken and became Breaker, Hashi rallied the sisters and persuaded them to try to stop and perhaps even save Minika. The united sisterhood, in the ensuing disastrous confrontation with Breaker, were bound and captured through their Vazaran faith rosaries. Hashi was one of many that went through the Ritual of Treachery, embedded with a piece of Breaker and compelled to do her will. In the aftermath of the Rout of Ettenmark Fields, Hashi and her coven were assigned to harry the Legion and Hashi was personally responsible for the deaths of three Legionnaires. In her pursuit of Atuli and the Lunar Crown, Hashi and the two remaining members of her coven were discovered by an empowered Atuli and were freed, through the power of the Lunar Crown and the Song of Nyx, from their servitude. Hashi, in her remorse, put herself at the mercy of the Legion, and was surprised when the Legion showed mercy. She swore an oath to give her life to protect the legion and was placed in the Shattered Lions. Unable to forgive herself, she has lost all her faith in the gods and hopes, through her actions for the Legion, to do some small recompense for her previous actions.
- Bartan, Educated, Reckless, Devil’s Own Luck, Research 2 Rig 1 Skirmish 1 Maneuver 1 Consort 1 Marshal 2
- Hazel Pattering Branch, Agitator Vinazzi, Adzen Vitalovich
Agitor Vinazzi was one of the few survivors of the disbanded mercenary group Silver Spears. Adzen Vitalovich was a town drunk, having fled from service as one of the Shining One’s pikemen when Vlaisim was broken. Hazel Pattering Branch was on their way back from the Talgon after completing their third name deed. They all found themselves in Poprad when the villagers heard that Blighter’s forces were rushing forth from Plainsworth. The three were moved by the pleadings of the villagers and resolved to lead the band of nearly one hundred, mostly women and children, north to the Talgon Forest. They had almost reached the forest line when they were discovered by a squad of walkers. The three exhorted the villagers to head to the forest while they made a last stand to protect them, and just before their fatal encounter swore oaths of siblinghood to each other. Due to their valor and a lucky shot to the vulture that was leading the walkers, the three managed to survive their encounter and were able to make their way to the Talgon. In appreciation for mercy treatment for a gravely wounded Adzen, the three enlisted in the Legion on the provision that they would not be separated. Marshal Trupattellen, upon hearing of their exploits, finally found worthyies to backfill the Shattered Lions.
- (Hazel Pattering Branch) Panyar, Shrewd Traveler, Devil’s Own Luck, Rig 1 Skirmish 1 Shoot 2 Maneuver 1 Consort 1 Sway 1
- (Agitor Vinazzi) Bartan (adopted), Educated, Stoic, Devil’s Own Luck, Research 2 Skirmish 2 Shoot 1 Maneuver 1 Consort 1
- (Adzen Vitalovich) Zemyati, Every Inch a Zemyati, Skirmish 2 Shoot 1 Maneuver 2 Consort 1 Discipline 1
- Dak, Banner Guard heavy
- Dak is a huge Bartan, covered in scars bearing innumerable Bartan tokens. Dak’s family has had a long affiliation with the legion and Dak had a reputation for being task oriented and reliable, as well as being warm and encouraging to new recruits. He was believed killed at Ettenmark Fields, but had instead been sent, on orders of Shreya and the old Commander, to Westlake and Eastlake.
- Gray Coursing Hearth, Banner Guard medic
- Gray Coursing Hearth was originally from Or but settled in the Panyar Forest at a young age. She spent a lot of time investigating the Old Empire ruins in the forest, and later returned to a leading Orite university to study architecture before joining the Legion. She has a big pig nose, and a propensity for nervous laughter. She is known to be inquisitive but reckless and have considerable knowledge of medicine and alchemy.
Level 3: What is the relationship between Blighter and Breaker?
Blighter and Breaker have very different approaches to power, with Blighter requiring a lot of physical resources, especially bodies, while Breaker has been primarily focused on mystical resources such as relics. As a result, Blighter and Breaker have been trading. Initially Breaker supplied Blighter with a few relics, but soon realized that Breaker is so desparate for relics that Blighter has taken to leading Breaker along with the promise of relics, intending to renege on her promise. As a result, Blighter considers Breaker to be weak and easily manipulated.
Level 2: What are the cravings of the Doctor?
Blighter keeps notes on her experiments, including the Doctor, who is one of the early ones. Even though the vulture is a dead thing, the Doctor retains all of his intellect, and so in addition to his interests in the alchemical sciences, he is also an avid writer of poetry. He goes out of his way to loot poetry. He also enjoys riddles and word puzzles.
Level 1: What items would be useful to bring on the mission?
The site that the Banner Legion is interested in dates back to the Old Empire, so old empire linguistics would be useful. The emperor protects its tombs, and brute wrecking strategies might be disastrous, while rigging and wrecking tools intended for careful neutralization of traps are likely to be useful.
Level 0: What are two approaches for the mission?
One approach is to fight our way through undead. The other is to pass through an area of the catacombs that even the undead have been avoiding.
Among the Legion, the Banner Guard is spoken of in reverential terms. Originally they served as the bearers of the Tantari Banner. After the loss of the banner in the Aldermani pretender wars, the Banner Guard was reorganized to be a force of five dedicated specialists and a standard five soldier squad that was answerable only to the commander, available for any special missions that might be required.
During the Rout at Ettenmark Fields, the Banner Guard was serving as the bodyguard of the old commander, who was slain in defense of the Second Eastern Army headquarters. It was assumed that the Banner Guard was also slain, and the names of all its members had been written into the annals. It was a great surprise to Commander Squirrel when the Banner Guard arrived in Fort Calisco shortly after the investigation of the Garde Mechaniq. On the eve of the disaster at Ettenmark Fields, Shreya and the old commander had given the Banner Guard a cryptic special mission that had taken the Banner Guard through Westlake and Eastlake and finally to Fort Calisco. Upon its arrival, all of the squad members and one of their specialists had perished leaving only four specialists remaining. Commander Squirrel tried in vain to convince the Banner Guard to return to the Legion, but they insisted that their mission took precedence for an investigation that might aid in the discovery of the origins of the Cinder King.
During the Banner Guard’s infiltration through Blighter’s siege of Fort Calisco, two of its members have become temporarily indisposed from the corrosive fog surrounding the fort, so the Commander offered the services of the Shattered Lions to help the Banner Guard in their investigations. Gray Coursing Heart, the medic of the Banner Guard, had a map (found in Eastlake) to a location within Fort Calisco’s catacombs. By this point, both Blighter and Breaker had forces within the catacombs, making the catacombs a dangerous place to operate in.
Adlara and Scarlet, upon perusing the map, settled upon a route that lead through an area behind the tomb of Calisco, which was known to have so many traps that even the undead shied away from. To reach that area, the heavy Dak and the Trio, as Hazel Pattering Branch, Agitator Vinazzi, Adzen Vitalovich were collectively known, headed an assault through Blighter’s pickets that allowed the team to reach the tomb and take a special passage to the undisturbed parts of the catacombs. To further disorient the enemy forces, the Quartermaster provided explosives that Dak planted on route, timed to go off as the Banner Guard and Shattered Lions headed into the unmapped region.
This section of the catacombs had been undisturbed for what was likely centuries. As the force entered a large antechamber, the stone slabs that they passed through closed shut behind them. As they assessed the room, they started to hear the hissing of gas seeping into the room. Scarlet, in her former life as a witch, had spent much of the campaign under Breaker looking for relics, and when searching for the Silver Spike had found a trap similar to this. She quickly led Hazel to the point that needed to be reset on the ceiling of the chamber, to which Hazel quickly clambered to, thus neutralizing the trap. Grey Coursing Hearth looked at Hashi quizzically and asked how she knew about the trap, and Hashi quietly told her history of servitude under Breaker. There was a moment of tension as Grey Coursing Hearth and Dak tensed and the Shattered Lions gathered around Hashi in support. Then Dak let out a bellowing laugh, remarking he was glad that Hashi was on his side, and he and the Agitor high fived.
The party then found the hidden passage and went through a series of highly ornate passageways, embroidered with tapestries with romance themes. Hazel, taking point, spotted most of the traps set along the path, only missing one. That trap unleashed a heavy bolt aimed straight at Hazel. The Agitor however spotted it and nudged Hazel to the side, who agilely rolled away while the bolt grazed the Agitor through his shield to his left arm. Shortly after this incident, the group arrived at an elaborately carved stone enclosure.
In front of the structure were Old Dar inscriptions consisting of an o poem, written by Emperor Tantarus dedicated to his lover.
Look, the trees
their own bodies
Had given off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
Were bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
Loving what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.
(note-- adapted from “In Blackwater Woods” by Mary Oliver)
Adlara led most of the force in a search of the area, but there were no obvious way to enter the enclosure. Scarlet and Grey Coursing Hearth worked on the translation of the poem, and Scarlet found oddities in the verb conjugations, and Grey Coursing Hearth noted that the engravings of those words seem to have a different look from the rest of the poem. Over Grey Coursing Hearth’s objection, Scarlet quickly and recklessly pushes each of the words, which held pressure plates. The enclosure then opens and the chamber beyond was illuminated with the glow of the setting sun.
Inside the tomb materialized a figure dressed in a Bartan variant of the old style of clothing dating from the Bronzed Man era of the Old Empire. Grey Coursing Hearth brought out a fruit offering, and the ethereal figure rasped, “Thank you brothers, I am hungry”. It then bit into an apple, and the color of the apple drain out of it, rendering it gray. The ghostly figure then asked for news. Adlara began to talk about the Cinder King, but the ghostly figure appeared to grow more and more discomfited. The Agitor interceded and recounted wars that he had learned in the Old Empire period and presented his Bartan token.
The spirit then less of how he was assigned to guard the tomb until relieved, but doubts that the Emperor will send someone to relieve him. It cannot remember the last time it was on the surface, and seemed to have no concept of time, but is happy to see another representative of the Empire, as it perceived the legionnaires. The Agitor recalled that old Imperial customs put a lot of weight in degrees of familiarity, and suggested to Adlara that she use the authority of the Legion. Adlara proceeds to tell the shade about the line of authority from the Emperor to the Bronzed Man to Commander Squirrel to herself, to give the order for the shade’s release. When the shade appeared skeptical, the Agitor explained the legalities of the transfer of the authority, satisfying the shade. Then the shade asked who would take its place. Scarlet quickly volunteered, and then brazenly announced, after taking control of the post, that the vigil would end immediately. The shade was visibly disgusted and pushed its geas onto Scarlet, but she resisted the command through force of will. However, she was visibly shaken and the Marshal would later note that Scarlet’s reckless inclination towards duty were further exacerbated.
Grey Coursing Heath then searched through the tomb, dedicated to the Emperor’s lover Laurentius. In consultation with Scarlet who has seen this type of tomb before, found a secret cache holding a shield which had embossed on it a map leading into Dar. Dak then told the Shattered Lions that the Banner Guard intended to head to Dar, following clues found in Eastlake and Westlake about the emergence of the Cinder King. Hazel left an acorn as the squad left the tomb, and Hazel would lead the squad quickly back towards the service, avoiding further undead patrols.
Feathers led the Ghost Owls to investigate the poison pyres around Fort Calisco. The details of the investigation were lost, as the remaining force was traumatized by the experience. What the command staff was able to ascertain is that the squad made contact with Opal and the Talgon Panyar scout force, who were able to point out the location of the nine pyres, in a pattern that Ramayana “Willow” Jankru recognized as symbolically important. The squad, taking with the religious supplies that Opal had cached, made contact with two of the pyres, discovering wagons of organic material fuel, and came to the conclusion that they were to be used to launch a poison attack on Fort Calisco similar to what occurred in Plainsworth. They were able to purify the two pyres, though at the loss of Lena Gerzel and Sivelik Sivelich, who perished in the poison clouds.
Mission benefits and penalties
Morale 11 - 2 + 3 = 12
Intel 9 = 5 + 3 + 1
Back at Camp
The Commander Squirrel and Jonakas had a dinner before where the Marchesa and Jonakas reflected on their time together and where the Marchesa informed Jonakas that the Legion were ready to leave soon. Jonakas understood that the Legion’s presence was itself a danger to the fort due to the objectives of Blighter and Breaker to capture the Horned One, and so was not uneager to see the Legion to leave, but the commanders left on warm terms.
When the Marchesa went to her room, she found a fiery young Zemyati woman. The Marchesa started sobbing, filled with a sense of failure and disappointment, and greeted her old friend with a hug. The Zemyai said how proud she was of the Legion, and then the Marchesa gave a recount of the Legion’s retreat from the Rout at Ettenmark Fields. Then the Zemyati gave the Marchesa a knife and a scroll and asked the Marchesa to take good care of the Horned One, and to leave at once.
The Marchesa then awoke to distant howling in screaming in the distance. She realized that she must have dreamt of all of the events after retiring for the night after her dinner with Jonakas. She saw the Horned One, in the shape of a bird, sitting at her window. The Horned One said that ravens have sighted a fast moving force of Zemyati cavalrymen that have crashed into the undead pickets to the north. It would later be ascertained that this was the newly formed Knights of the White Oak, led by a newly re-emergent Zora, leading a march south to the Panyar forest. The Commander found the the Legion already awaken by the screams of distant battle and led them to the prepared tunnel path leading out of Fort Calisco,
Time 21 = 20 + 1
Pressure 3 = 2 + 1
Volunteer for Corruption tank for alchemsits.
Horses, Relgious Supplies
Laborers complete reinforce defenses, siege weapons
Alchemy: Improved explosives
The Legion heads out of Fort Calisco through the underground tunnels and towards the Maw.