The Fractured Empire

A Mothers Love

While no one in Guardians Pass shed a tear at hearing of the death of Kieren Rathal, I would be remiss, if i did not illuminate, as it did for many of us, how even in the New Worlds, unspeakable cruelty born from our fragile imaginations could bend and twist an individual in the monster that Kieren Rathal became. This was the first time that the Outsiders would come face to face with the Power known as the Faceless Queen, and to their credit did not flinch! However this was just the beginning for our intrepid party and one could only guess how this inevitable clash would end. One does not kill the favored son of a doting mother and not expect repercussions. One could even turn their same thoughts to the rest of the Pass’ more “colorful” leaders. If the Pass were the mother that gave birth to Kattar, Rinya, Luthias, and Kiren, what would be the cities response for losing its most devoted offspring? Would it be the wrath of a mourn filled mother watching her children murdered, or the the silent indifference similar to a prostitute for to care for a child unplanned and unwanted? Or perhaps it would be their estrangedsiblings Sammuel, The Duchess, or Nodius Jiskal that would give answer.
- Coming of the Outsiders – Chapter 5 ~ Yolo Swaggins

The party awoke early in the morning to the sounds of a commotion in the main hall of the Temple of Nepthira. After Balsatra wke up Hal and then stole his bed, he decided to once again join the party as he “could not sleep with all the investigating”. They were greeted by a sight of the slaves that they had freed from The Cult Of An’Desh’a sitting up in their cots in unison, blank faced, mouths agape, a haunting chorus of suffering. Aken-Ra and her clerics sprung into action, and by placing their holy symbols on the infected’s chest, were able to force them to vomit up a pile of worms and eggs that were beginning to hatch within their bodies. Deemed safe, the infected all fell into blissful slumber.

Remembering that the Duchess had asked to meet with them, the party made their way to her territory. Here they encountered a much more lively guard force for the territory and even heard screams coming from the back alley’s. They even witnessed an Orc guard throw a drug addicted man through a vendor stall and his head crushed under foot. Once again re-iterating the Duchess’ intolerance for those who imbibe Kiren Rathal’s drug. They made their way to the Tavern that the Duchess holds her court and were greeted with the utmost courtesy. After receiving food and drink to break their fast, it was evident that she wished to ask them a favor. It would be a big one as Nestor Zilan, the until now absent head of the local Theives guild was also present. The Duchess first gave them “presents” which came in the form of Wanted Posters in the amount of 10,000 gold for the death of the Party. The posters were signed by Sammuel Trexium. The Duchess informed the party that she forgave them for not allowing her to calim the Cult’s territory for her own. After she had seen what had become of the place, she did not find it to her liking. She also stated her request for at least half of Kieren Rathal’s territory after the party and its allies had done away with him. She even offered to speak on behalf of the party to Sammuel and have the bounty removed. She did not want any further bloodshed in the Pass. Ultimately the Party agreed to not stand in her way but failed to see how they would have any sway with the Military or the Clerics that would be aiding them. Disappointed, the Duchess allowed the Party to leave unscathed.

Outside, Nestor Zilan approached the Party, inquiring about the “additives” Balsatra was using to enhance his drug consumption. Balsatra, not trusting the Halfling leader, played up his level of drug induced lunacy. Seeing the conversation as a lost cause, Nestor offered his services should the party find themselves in need of a “favor” as they apparently had “Mutual Friends”. As he departed the company, Kira noticed that Nestor was now and probably the entire time surrounded by at least six invisible bodyguards. She also heard him mumble to himself “Uppity bitch didn’t tell me they were fucking bonkers. Ain’t worth the coin if you ask me.”

The Party left the territory of the Duchess and made their way to the Temple of Pike where they promised to meet up with Cleric Falnor, in order for him to make good on his promise to aid them in their fight with Kieren Rathal. Cleric Falnor saw the Wanted Posters as good thing as it proved the lowlifes of the Pass were running scared. With all the speed he could muster, he gathered what clerics he could and formed ranks around the party, a precaution as they would need to walk through Sammuel’s Neutral Zone. They made their way of the the Temple district and saw that Palading Sylvan Jastra had lined up the Clerics of Liandra outside the Cult’s old territory. Sounds of flames being spread could be heard from within, as well as Sylvan ordering his men to keep the area under quarantine until the Druid and Elementalist arrived.

In the Neutral Zone, the party was greeted by an angry mob blocking their way. Sammuel was on a literal soap box and was preaching to the masses, the evils of outsiders, the government, and his fellow gang leaders. The party noticed that not only had his forces grown, but some were the same slaves they had freed. They did not witness it but it appears that Sammuel was able to rid them of their worm inhabitants as well. As the Mob looked as if they were going to attack the party, Commander Jessen ordered the blades to form up to protect them, placing his men between the clerics and the mob. When Sammuel accused him of turning traitor, Jessen replied that he was following the terms of his contract, that n violence be committed in the Neutral Zone. One over zealous follower of Sammuel’s threw a dagger that struck Balsatra, which in turn gave Zilah the opportunity to put a crossbow bolt through the offenders head. Once again, following orders. Sensing that the situation was about to go from bad to worse, Hal gave a rousing speech, with the aid of his comrades, that eventually calmed the crowd and they were allowed to pass.

Once they reached the Western Bastion the party was greeted by Lt. Veren, and escorted to the war room, making note that the Bastion appeared, understaffed, under armed, and bereft of military Wyverns. In the war room they were introduced to Soul Keeper Malek, an elderly half elf and Cleric to the Goddess Arissa, who had broken into Bastion the night before and refused to leave. He had heard about Kieren Rathal and wanted to rid the world of his kind. It was also made clear that, he and Falnor were old war buddies going back to the Old World. That he was the Commander for the military branch of the church of Arissa. After introductions were made, Lt. Veren, explained the importance of secrecy in their mission. In the past, he had attempted to aid Sammuel, before the once Tavern owner turned to Darker forces and was betrayed by his own. This reslulted in his imprisonment by Lord Governor Talvas. He was eventually freed due to his connections with Lord general Na’rill in the An’Desh court, but was demoted and sent to the Western Bastion by Talvas. Lt. Veren then led the party to a secret room that housed about sixty soldiers. Here they were given health potions and Falnor and Malek played rock, paper, scissors, to determine who was in charge. Falnor won.

They entered the territory of Kiren Rathal in stealth but due to a bad stumble by Lyman, scarecrows discovered them and the military advanced. Once again, Falnor’s clerics led the party deeper into the territory and left them in search of the supply depot where the necromantic drugs were being created. After some difficulty with the door entering Kiren’s tomb, the party made their way deep inside underground, through the mist filled stairways.As the Party progressed they were shown Kieren’s earliest memories of being a child attacked by a Ba’Rai vampire, as his village burned down around him, then as a youth being attacked by the Clerics of Huldera, and finally being embraced by the Faceless Queen. once in Kieren’s crypt, the gang leader tried to convince the party to join him, by entreating to their outsider status. The party declined the invitation.

The Party was swarmed by scarecrows and shadows, which they dealt with, fairly easily. But just when they were about to square off with Kieren’s two remaining bodyguards, the gang leader crushed their skulls with his flail and absorbed their energy. Just as they though they were going to defeat him, he called out to his “Mother” revealing an altar to the faceless queen and its disturbing eye staring at them from within. The altar kept healing Kierens wounds! After a long fought battle Kira destroyed the altar, and Hal delivered the death blow, with a stake he had been given by Falnor. As the stake plunged into Kieren’s heart a gray radiant energy filled the fallen gang leaders body, rendering him helpless. In Hal’s mind he could hear the faint howl of a wolf.

Their foe vanquished, their body in pain from many wounds, the party fought through their exhaustion and ransacked the place. What they did find was a partially written letter to Kieren, that explained that their “Otherworldly assets” had been successful in integrating themselves within the noble houses of the Pass. Upon further inspection of the letter, they released that the other half was being concealed by magic. Once dispelled, it triggered some residual energy from the now destroyed altar. A Spectral snake, lashed out and the party were helpless as they watched the snake, take Kieren’s soul into its maw and dissipate. the rest of the letter now readable, it continued on about the final sacrifice being nigh, and that the Pass was doomed to fall. It was Signed A.T. and as a post script added that O.F. would be checking in on the production of the drug. The party then realized that the person whose murder they were investigating this entire time was actually the culprit and that the murder of the blond woman in the Eastern Pass was just a way to cover her tracks. Abigail Theren was alive, and Orlen Farrick was working with her! Where did that leave Felice?

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