An Imperfect Circle

Session 4
The Moon-Touched Champion

Since keeping the Arczechki away from the refugees converging on Merresh was essential, our heroes agreed that the best course of action would be to strike at the Arczechki warlord directly. Without his leadership, they believed that the horde would fall apart into in-fighting. They set out early, following the road north toward Ewemark, where the barbarians struck at the abbot several days ago.

The place of the struggle was not difficult to find. The road was scattered with the remains of the conflict. Drac investigated the scene, and found signs of an enormous animal, which he identified as most likely a yeddim. Zakiti circled the area and traced the Arczechki back to where they had camped. The site was no longer occupied but she called he companions before investigating fully. From the campsite, they followed the trail of the Arczechki north, back to the road, and on to Ewemark.

As the Unconquered Sun was reaching the horizon, our heroes arrive at Ewemark. They found the town smashed and smoldering, over a hundred Arczechki in residence, and the survivors corralled against the river. Amidst the destruction, they spotted the warlord, brooding alone. He was a big man, with the head of an alligator as decoration on one shoulder, and the rest of the beasts hide spanning his back. A yeddim with a battle howdah rested by the riverbank, captives from the town forced to bring it food.

Kaveh and Zakati express concern about the number of foes and began to plot drawing some of them across the river and destroying the bridge to split them up. Genjo refused to wait for a plan to be formed; he saw innocents in danger and felt compelled into action. He walked confidently into town, and cowed the individual Arczechki through his intimidating presence. Zakiti sprinted off around the town to get into position to destroy the bridge, Drac followed in Genjo's wake, and Kavah use his illusions to hide among the Arczechki now beginning to mass around Genjo.

The smoke and dust of the ruined town swirling around them, the warlord stepped into Genjo's path toward the river where he intended to free the captives. Genjo and Drac saw his fine leather armor was fastened with shining silver, and silver was inlaid in whirling patters across the leather. The warlord unslung his massive axe from his back. "Who challenges Aycus Wallbreaker?" Genjo scoffed at the threat, "You'll break nothing." and concentrated his essence around himself, hardening his body against attack.

Hoping to turn the Arczechki on each other, Kaveh took a javelin, and threw it from the group he was hiding with at another group. The two groups charged into each other, and the fighting began. Genjo struck at Aycus, punching through his parry and landing a withering blow, driving the warlord back a step in surprise. Thanks to Kaveh's deception, the Arczechi clashed with one another. The yeddim handlers began to rouse their beast and mount the howdah.

Kaveh used his supernatural balance to run across the crowd. At the last moment, he sent an illusion leaping at the warlord while personally trying to strike beneath his guard. Aycus spun, shattering the leaping illusion, and blocking Kaveh's strike. Meanwhile, Drac stuck all about him, thinning the throng of Arczechki. Zakaiti ran into positoin, and began gathering sorcerous motes around her.

Aycus turned on Kaveh driving him back. Kaveh had the shocking realization that this foe was beyond his skill, a realization that almost broke him. He was barely able to fend off the attacks of the Arczechki around him. Fortunatley, Genjo took the opportunity to strike a fierce blow, knocking Aycus through the thronging barbarians. The yeddim began to lumber toward the ongoing battle.

Drawing the final motes from a bound spirit, Zakiti unleash the Death of Obsidian Butterflies on the throng. With the casualties they had already taken, the spell was enough to break their will, and they began to flee. Some of the flitting shards even cut their Lunar adversary. The barbarians atop the yeddim threw a hail of javelins into the fray. Kaveh dove behind Genjo for cover. Drac was struck by one, but entirely protected by his orichalcum armor. Genjo stepped into a defensive posture over Kaveh to protect him.

Fearing defeat, Aycus transformed into an eagle, and began to take flight. Kaveh attempted to stop him, and failed to halt his takeoff. Acting quickly, Genjo leaped up the ruins of one of the nearby buildings, and launched himself through the air to tackle the eagle. He slammed into the escaping bird, grappling him, and tackling him to the ground. As they struggled, Aycus returned to his human form; not the Arczechki warlord, but a wiry and slightly hallow-cheeked man. Despite his essence enhanced strength, he could not break free of Genjo's vice-like clutches.

Seeing their warlord brought low, the remaining Arczechki, including those driving the yeddim, fled the battlefield.

Genjo ask why Aycus brought such suffering. Aycus said the suffering was necessary to draw out the Dragonblooded so he could break them and free the peoples of the Threshold. Genjo said the nothing justified the suffering of innocents, especially children, and asked for Aycus last words. Aycus said they would face the vengeance of Ma-Ha-Suchi. With that, Genjo snapped his neck and let his essence burn away the body and spirit of the thwarted Lunar.

Genjo was shaken by his visions of Aycus, a young man whose home was raided and enslaved by the Realm; and battle, and failure to save his family, a terrifying flight out into the Wyld, and the surity of righteousness in tearing down the Dragonblooded of the Real and Lookshy.

During the battle, the captives had seen our heroes reveal themselves as anathema. Fearing the welcome that would await them if they returned to Merresh, they spent the next week breaking up larger bands of Arzechki before heading north along the Gray River toward the heart of the Scavenger Lands, Nexus

Session 3
Palace Intrigues

Drawing on what they had learned, our heroes decided to split up to pursue their objectives. They agreed to meet back at the inn later that evening. Feeling morose, Drac Ir spent the evening quietly drowning his sorrows.

Genjo and Kaveh went the to the palace to try to speak to the mayor, Urial White, who had not seen any visitors for several days. Dressed in southern finery, Kaveh talked his way into the palace, claiming to have knowledge about the fate of the abbot. The guards revealed that the abbot was also the mayor's brother. Our heroes were forced to wait over an hour for an audience.

Meanwhile, Zakiti went to a shadier part of Meresh to make contact with Beneficent Crossarchus. Focused on her goal, she failed to notice the watching street tough in the ally. The man grabbed her, and threatened her safety. She surreptitiously placed a knife to his femoral artery, and stated she was safer than she appeared. He backed off and directed her to meet Cross.

Back at the palace, Genjo and Kaveh are finally shown to the mayor's quarters. They immediately recognize that she is preparing for a journey. Through conversation, they discover that she is distraught at her brother's death and is preparing to go on a pilgrimage to the Immaculate Temples of the Five Directions, which she had promised to do with her brother and is now undertaking in his memory. Genjo tries to convince her to stay by claiming that her brother would not want her to abandon her duty. She responded emotionally, leaving Genjo at a loss for words.

Zakiti met with Beneficent Crossarchus, criminal prince of Meresh. He opened the conversation: "I hear you gave my watchman quite a surprise." She asked for information about how to break into the mayor's palace. He said he'd be able to provide, but she'd have to pay for it. She offered her service in dealing with any troublesome spirits. Cross asked her to deal with a diligent street god who saw it has his duty to disrupt criminal activity on the streets near the river loading elevators. She agreed to deal with the spirit.

Back at the palace, Kaveh steps into the negotiation and convinced the mayor to leave the city in his able hands. He used his artifact's illusions to convince her that he and his companions were dragonblooded pursuing anathema in the region. He said that she would be free to pursue her pilgrimage to honor her brother and that the city would be safe in his care. She agreed and let Kaveh and Genjo take their leave and stay as guests in the palace. Kaveh settled in for a comfortable evening while Genjo tried to figure out what to do next.

Zakati found the spirit tending his street, coaxed him into an ally, and spoke to him. She learned the spirit was called Harmonius Shale and convince him that working with the criminals would improve the wealth of his district. He agreed to leave the lanterns unlit 2 nights a week, chosen by Cross by lighting ceremonial incense at the ends of the street. 

Genjo questioned the servants to learn who the mayor might confide in. He learned that Resourceful Argali, the captain of the constabulary, would be the most likely confidant. Despite the late hour, he found her house, demanded that she be woken, and spoke to her about the mayor's plan. She said the best option might be to quote the Immaculate scriptures as her brother would have done. Genjo then went to the Immaculate temple in the city, and asked a monk to find an appropriate piece of the scripture.

Zakiti returned to Cross, communicated the deal with the spirit, and agreed to return for the dossier of information about breaking into the palace. She returned to the inn, and found her companions missing. After waiting a short while, she went to the palace to look for them. The guards at the gate stopped her, told her that her friends were staying as guests, and offered to bring word to them to verify her identity. Genjo arrived back at the palace at the same time, ushered he in, and caught her up on the events of the evening.

Using the Immaculate scripture, Genjo confronted the mayor once again to attempt to change her mind. He was unsuccessful, and left the conversation with cool fury and derision toward the mayor. Having watch the encounter, Zakiti waiting for the mayor to go to sleep, then summoned the Mists of Eventide to seize control of the mayors dreams. The dream depicted the mayor and her brother walking through a field, which twisted into blood and darkness, and ended with the mayor sleep walking and shattering her wall mirror.

In the morning, Drac was summoned to the palace. Over breakfast, the mayor announced her intention to stay in the city and lead the fight against the Arczechki. The mayor, Resourful Argali, and our heroes held a war council. Everyone agreed on the necessity of meeting the barbarians in the field of battle due to the limited resources in the city to survive a siege. Our heroes agreed to scout the Arczechki location while the mayor and Argali remained behind to must the army of Meresh as best they could…

Session 2
Marauders in Meresh

Traveling through the south eastern reaches of the Hundred Kingdoms, our heroes come across the half eaten remains of several militiamen and a number of sheep. Investigating the area, they spot an ambush ahead along the road. Zakiti crests the next hill in hopes of a counter ambush, but she steps on the broken bones the Arczechki have set as a warning system, alerting them to her presence.

A fight ensues, in which Zakiti kills the two that came up after her. Drac's horse is spooked by the bestial barbarians. Kaveh trades blows with, and eventually kills one. The fight is ended by Genjo breaking one of the barbarians against the ground and intimidating the rest: "Why do you even try!" Drac rides down the surviving Arczechki, so none escape. Our heroes are careful not to display their power too obviously during the skirmish. Drac suggests taking the head of one of the Wyld twisted barbarians to prove their presence, but is dissuaded by Kaveh's repulsion. 

The next afternoon, our heroes arrive outside Meresh. Refugees crowd around the city gates and order is barely kept by the constables and militia. Livestock, especially sheep and goats are crowded into makeshift enclosures circling the city. Genjo and Zakiti learn that folk from the countryside are fleeing to the protective walls of the city. The poeple hope that the Sivo White will be able to protect them. (Genjo remembers that Sivo White was an honorable commander who opposed the armies of Thorns during the last war.)

Since Kaveh has a cart full of much needed food, our heroes are granted passage into the city proper. The streets are crowded with refugees, though the city seems to be doing its best to accommodate them. Kaveh travels to the merchant district and negotiates a bill of exchange for his wares. He also learns that the refugees have been pouring into the city for the last few days, especially since the abbot from the Immaculate temple was ambushed and killed on his way to a nearby town. Drac comments on his 'mercantile abilities' before finding an inn and stable.

Genjo makes contact with Ohn Ram, a businessman and smuggler. He confirms what Kaveh learned, discovers that Sivo has locked herself in the mayor's palace, and offers himself and his companions for work if Ohn needs anything. Zakiti makes contact with a young cutpurse to gather information. She learns that the Mayor is well respected by the people and a descendant of a hero who defeated the Arczechki in the past. Wanting to know more about the mayor's palace, she asks who would be able to provide more information. The cutpurse tells her she should speak to Beneficent Crossarchus.


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