Shepherds of Fate

Chapter Three: Journey to the North
The party chooses to aid the Convention on Air

Behind the party lay a curtain of darkness. Thorns had fallen, swallowed by a shadowland in a tragedy that Creation had not seen in centuries. The line of refugees was depressingly sparse as few escaped the onslaught. If it were not for the party’s efforts even these would not have made it out of the city alive.

Ahead of the defeated procession were two figures. One appeared to be interviewing and consoling the survivors while the other surreptitiously tied prayer strips to them while they were distracted. They recognized the party on sight and berated them for their inability to prevent this disaster. Exclaiming their fatigue at having to hastily prepare alternate destinies for those who had been detached from fate by the event. The party was informed that they must immediately depart for the nearest heavenly gate and report back to Nazri. Thus the tone for their return to the Bureau of Destiny was foreshadowed.

Nazri grilled the party relentlessly upon their return. Demanding detailed reports on every minor essence expenditure and reprimanding the party for not doing more to confirm the status of the suspected solar appearance. He bruskly told the party they must to a better job in the future of preventing these events before they happen and to keep a better record of their activities when out on mission. He also informed them that due to these new circumstances they were removed from the Convention of Wood and were to form a new convention, the Convention on Deathlords. Their new task was to find out everything they could about the creature who had commanded the sacking of Thorns and those like him. To aid them he assigned the Green Lady to chair the convention, her knowledge of the Underworld was unparalleled in the Bureau and she could guide the party to destinations that would be of interest to the convention. At this point the Convention of Wood vice-chair burst in, demanding to know why he was losing staff at this critical juncture. After learning the party were now free agents and would be choosing which convention to aid while pursuing their assignment the vice-chair told the party that he expected them to come to his office immediately to resume their duties and stormed out. Nazri then dismissed the party and told them it was time for them to decide on their next move. Despite their failure to prevent the disaster their abilities under fire did gain them approval and each member of the party was given an artifact as a reward. Gilgamesh got a chunk of starmetal forged into a speartip. Ishtar was given a tattoo of power. Espirt received modifications to his construct body. Andolin was given a slab of jade which was worked into shield.

The party then interviewed the chairs from each of the directional conventions to determine where they should go.

The Chair of the Convention of Water Righteous Tsunami was a striking figure with eyepatch and mohawk. He informed the party that the West was very poorly manned, it is currently the smallest of all the directional conventions. With not enough manpower to provide oversight on agents they were on their own with making tactical decisions. Affiliation didn’t matter to him and as long as the party could pull their own weight they were welcome to join. Their current sets of problems were the constant scourge of pirates, a strange new ancestor worshiping religion that popped out of nowhere, and capricious gods and fey threatening the stability of the few islands that held against the sea.

The Chair of the Convention of Air was an elderly man, close to the end of this very long life. He chattered on at the party about the righteousness of the Usurpation and the troublesome nature of Solars. He went on at length about the cultures of the North and the ways of their people, especially their tendency to believe in the prophetic nature of dreams. When pressed he admitted that the Icewalker barbarians were acting suspiciously and that someone might be uniting them, that there was a strange dark religion sweeping the north, and that he needed help getting the Syndicates of Whitewall to behave.

The Vice-Chair of the Convention of Wood was extremely annoyed at the time it took for the party to see him. He complained at how that despite having the second largest number of agents they still didn’t have enough men as they were also burdened with the duty of tracking all essence users in the region. He complained about beastmen and other jungle barbarians causing trouble, the fall of Thorns, and the brewing wars within the many kingdoms that dotted the East.

The Chair of the Convention of Fire was Nazri and he was straight forward with what help he needed. The city of Gem was in a weird destiny flux and the convention had to decide if it was to be saved or allowed to self-destruct. There are several gods in the South about to go to war over overlapping purviews and something had to be done to stop them. Finally there were reports of numerous demon infestations popping up in the desert.

After hearing all of the options the final decision made was to head to the North. The party gathered their belongings, along with a polyglot gem that allowed them to speak the tongues of the region, and took the celestial gate to the headquarters of the Convention of Air in Icehome. This was the launching point for the majority of sidereal missions in the north.

The party decided to head even further north to investigate the Icewalker activity. Unforunately their was a lockdown on air travel for official business only. To avoid the hassle and attracting attention they gathered winter gear and headed east by foot. The journey only took a day or two before they found themselves in Iron Fall. Their eagle eyed perception spotted a floating island a short ways off the coast and they headed to investigate. At the cliffs closest to the island they found a team of surveyors wondering what happened to the team they sent there to secure the earthmote. The party volunteered to retrieve the team and the earthmote for the surveyors if they could provide them with airship passes. With that agreement the party was given an hot air balloon with an attached glider to get to the mote. The plan was to ride the balloon upwards and then detach the glider allowing easy passage to the floating isle. It took the party all their strength and skill to do so but they managed to crash land on an outcropping without injury. Unfortunately for them immediately upon arrival they were ambushed by trollish creatures made of ice and a icy fey being. They made short work of them and then headed into a nearby cave to search for the missing team.

The ice cave lead upwards until they found themselves in the hold of a ship made entirely of ice. They headed topside and once they reached the deck they found soul drained surveyors acting as crewmen for a mad fey playing at pirate. The battle raged as they were assaulted by parrots made of ice and the enchanted crewmen. They were almost defeated several times by the power of the creatures of the northern Wyld. They stood their ground and soon had the pirate fey at their mercy. The fey are capricious creatures and Ishtar was easily able to convince this one to give up his game for a different one and give them this earthmote. He did so gladly and went off to enjoy the life of a ferryman leaving the party to pilot yet another crash landing, this time of an entire floating island! They did manage to not destroy the city of Ironfell and the surveyors held up their side of the bargain. The party now had the appreciate of the steel industry in Ironfell and four passes that would allow them to travel on the airships of the Hastlanti league.

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Chapter One: Thorns and Roses
A few easy missions in Thorns reveal a deeper threat

Prologue: Chejop Kejak (leader of the Bronze faction) and Ayesha Ura (leader of the Gold faction) left on a mysterious mission leaving Nazri (the head Independent) in charge. Nazri instructed the circle to head to Thorns, a prosperous city in the East, in order to resolve some minor fate tangles.

Scene 1: Aisle of Secrets, rating XX (actual rating XXXX)

The first mission the circle took on was a missing library book, Toben’s Spirit Guide. It was necessary for a certain girl named Ruffled Blossom to read this book in order to become a great exorcist one day. Upon going to the library and talking their way past a suspicious head librarian, they discovered that the section on the occult was vandalized, with several books destroyed and others stolen. The party tracked down a frequent visitor of that section named Karzan Stevens to his house, which was abandoned and full of tawdry novels about romances between mortals and ghosts. Finding out about the man’s dead wife, they followed that lead to her mausoleum only to find cultists attempting to open a portal to the underworld.

It was a difficult battle, but after slowly tearing through an ablative layer of skeletons and cultists they were left with three void imbued casters. The cult leader continually blasted the party with immobilizing cold, which forced the monk to release his Anima Banner in an awesome display of power using masterful spiral. After killing a great many of them, they destroyed the portal and interrogated the survivors. Posing as monks from the Central Library Authority they convinced Karzan to leave and atone for his sins against libraries. He left on a pilgrimage and said he would head to the city of Nexus next. The other cultists were convinced to seek out the Cult of the Illuminated or face utter dissolution. Bob the Cultist is headed to an unknown destination to find out more about this mysterious cult that probably doesn’t have raging librarians after it.

In the end, a ‘mysterious stranger’ brought the book to Ruffled Blossom and with a wink she took it to study immediately. Fate was completed and the scroll transmuted into a Cloak of Eyes +2. The psion then cast Arcane Fate in order to muddle the memories of those they met to ensure their identities remained secret.

(Reward: 500 xp per character)

Scene 2: “Are you Chicken?”, rating XXX

The party then sought out the heir of house Mikflay, a hotheaded fire aspect named Mair-Ti. He needed to learn humility or he surely would pick a fight he couldn’t win and would be killed before he could sire an heir. After discussing the possibility of finding a woman for him the party decided on the direct route: humbling him by kicking his ass. After challenging his honor at a local outdoor cafe, they used fate and mind-bending tricks to continually make him strike his little brother with his twin waraxes. Finally Mair-Ti had enough and released his own anima banner in the form of an inferno that burnt anyone who got near. The battlemind fell from the heat but Mair-Ti fell just moments later. The party then unceremoniously dumped him into a nearby manure cart, fully humiliating him. The reward was an Elusive Action Ki Focus +2.

(Reward: 300 xp per character)

Scene 3: “Two Houses Divided”, rating XX

Two young nobles are supposed to fall in love, but since their families get along they just aren’t interested in each other. Astrology predicted that if their families hated each other then their love would blossom. The party started by spreading rumors about backbiting comments the families made about each other at the market, and continued by sending flowers to rival houses under false names in order to cast suspicion on the heads of the two houses. Finally they staged a robbery attempt in order to frame the Montegues of theft. This lead the two houses to have a banquet in order to resolve their growing tensions. After sneaking in the party spiked the drinks with laxatives and narcotics making the hosts abandon the party and the guests listless. Both families left the party feeling insulted and relationships between the houses were predicted to deteriorate from there and now there was fertile ground for forbidden love to grow. Cementing this fate earned the party a Staff of Ruin +2.

(Reward: 200 xp per character)

Scene 4: “Missing From Fate”, rating XXXX

Mysterious deaths were occurring around Thorns, changing fate as people were dying years ahead of time. Some hand outside of fate must have been behind these deaths. One house leader who was strongly tied to the others was still predicted to live for another twenty years but due to his strongly tied fate to the others he was a likely target. Upon arriving at his house at night the party heard unearthly wails from inside. Rushing to the rescue they encountered skeletons and ghouls as well as a hungry ghost. Drained from all the earlier fighting they struggled to overcome these foes. The monk was assaulted by the hungry ghost as it ate his very essence and dazed him only overcoming it with an amazing comeback by focusing his energies. The battlemind did his best to defend the others but spent of resources from the earlier battles he fell unconscious under the brutal psychic assault of the head ghoul. The ghoul fell beneath the blows of the others and they rescued the dying Earth-aspected Dragonblood upstairs.

(Reward: 500 xp per character)

Epilogue: With his breath recovered the Dragonblood noble warned he knew of a plot by the Mask of Winters, a powerful ghost, to invade Thorns by breaching the barriers to the underworld. This information came too late though, as undead were already pouring into the city. More bad news arrived as Nazri contacted the party remotely to inform them that Chejop and Ayesha have disappeared during their mission. They only managed to send a message that the Jade Prison, the artifact that kept the Solars from reincarnating, was shattered. When the party informed Nazri that Thorns was being opened to the Underworld he replied that he had no choice but to lock off the celestial gateway trapping the party in the city. What will the party do now that they are abandoned in the face of the largest underworld incursion ever witnessed?

(Reward: 500 xp per character for Major Quest completion: Thorns and Roses)

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