The Fractured Empire

Let the Other Guy Do All The Dying

Fame can be a fickle thing. A thing that all good Bards know, and keep in mind. For every heroic deed there comes a very unheroic fallout. No one talks about the princess growing to resent her savior or goblins slain making way for a Troll horde. Let no good deed go unpunished, they say. I say, if that punishment is indeed inevitable, then be prepared to make sure the other guys do all the dying.
~ Excerpt from the Journal of Evindahl Honeykissed. Referenced by Yolo Swaggins in The Coming of the Outsiders chapter 2.

The party Awoke the next day to the warm welcomes of the denizens of teh Laughing Crow Tavern, for having killed Kennel Master Luthias. The Blades even seemed to look at them with increased respect. A dwarf by the name of Harlo went so far as to buy they breakfast and a drink. Any morning revelry was broken when Fenrick arrived at the Tavern with a wanted poster of Lyman. News traveled fast and the Cult of An’desh’a had put a heafty price for the death of a new “gang” in the Pass. While most of the party was not thrilled by the idea, Lyman was pleased with the increase to his notoriety. After all he was singled out for the death of the death of a much hated slaver. To the party, this was obviously his plan all along. he did allow one of the slavers to leave unscathed.

At risk of being Debbie Downer, Zilah informed the party that a bounty like this would put them on the radar of all of the functioning gangs of the Pass. It was then that Sammuel offered his assistance in keeping party safe. The Party did not want to continue violence against the gangs of the Pass and instead asked for Sammuels guidance in continuing their investigation. He offered a meeting with the Dutchess as a way to gather intel on the Madesta’s. the catch was that they would need to help Sammuel stop incursions by Kieren Rathal’s fanatics, who had been kidnapping folks from all the territories.

The plan was simple. Pose as one of Kieren Rathal’s Scarecrow faced fanatics and attack the Cult of An’Desha’a. Here they would steal a body, kill the men responsible for the kidnappings and plant the body in the rival territory. No harm no foul, and no one the wiser. and when one fell Sammuel would be there to claim additional territory. For the good of the innocent people, of course.

The Party attacked the front gates of the Cults territory and manage to abscond with the body of one of their fallen foes. As they stealthily made their way through the Neutral Zone to the Territory of Kieren Rathal they were met by Harlo, the dwarven rougue and member of the Blades. He was sent by Sammuel to aid them in infiltrating Kieren’s territory and helping them dispatch the kidnappers and plant the body. They wndered around the underground tunnels that went through Sammuels territory and managed to sneak a peek at what appeared to be an altar bathed in red light, guarded by people that did not appear to be part of the Blades Company.

On the way through the territory they witnessed quite a few attrocites and were given what little information there was about Kieren.
- They witnessed the sacrifice of an innocent person who was bludgeoned to death and fed upon by what appeared to be living scarecrows. the party, outnumbered, once again made their way past.
- These living scarecrows used to be regular people who had become addicted to a necromantic drug that allowed the user to live in the memories of the dead. This drug took the form of a skull with a small tallow candle that emitted a toxic smoke that was inhaled.
- It is beleived that Kieren may have some “Eclyptian” (not so nice term for the Ba’Rai. An Eleven race that were natural Vampires and the blood enemies of teh An’Desh.) harlo did not believe that he was a pureblood as the An’Desh Clerics of Pike have ways of locating such creatures and destroying them with all due haste.

The Party came across the kidnappers that Samuel wished dispatched but were shocked to see that they were Hulderan elves who had clipped their ears. Not only that, they were drinking a black, viscous, fluid similar to that they saw in the quarry earlier. This liquid made their veins bulge from the skin and appear black. Harlo also informed them that while their were two present that their were indeed four identical such people in the gang leader employ. They dispatched the two men and planted the Cultist body making it look like the cult had attacked. An interesting note is that a dark orb emerged from the bodies and sunk into the ground. On their way out they found the half eaten woman hung by a lampost and her blood being drained into a chalice. Lyman used his crossbow to knock the chalice over.

The Party returned to teh Laughing Crow Tavern to find a letter from Lady Viren, letting them know the following.
- Felice Theren has gone missing and Soltar is investigating.
- Goll was found in a pool of blood, his neurosis making him seem the likely suspect and he was arrested by Lord Talvas for the murders.
- Lord Vieren had investigated the docks and found that the gang leader Nerstor Zilan was aiding unkown human clerics smuggle crates he believes were drugs out of the port.
- Durden had been attacked by the Taerian’s, who are searching for Balsatra.
- Lady Aya had returned to the passed and looked “Displeased”.

Following their successful subterfuge, Samuel made good on his promise and set up an audience with the Dutchess. The Party, accompanied by Zilah was safely escorted through the Dutchess’ territory, which was run by fancy dressed orcs. here they witnessed the Orcs smashing any form of the drug created by Rathal and “accidentally” killing the addicts in the process. The Dutchess greeted them with all due respect and offered up the history of her family being thrown out of the eastern pass due to the betrayal of Lord Madesta, that eventually left her the only survivor. She had befriended the Orcs and used them to kill her “husband” a former gang leader and took his territory. His men scattered to join the other gangs. She also struck a deal with the party and Zilah to aid the group take out the Cult of An’desh’a and Kieren Rathal. The result would be, she takes the cults old territory and Kierens would be for Sammuel. She also let it slip that there had once been a collection of Half Orcs that had mad their way to this world and the Cleric of Pike had relocated them somewhere, leaving the more aggressive full blooded orcs behind. She is doing what she can to prove that full orcs can be just as “cultured” as anyone else. When Lyman noticed that the Dutchess was a skilled harp player, he offered played for her. She offered him potential work in the future because her orc piano player was just plain awful.

From here, Zilah left the party as they went to check in with Paladin Sylvan Jastra about the mysterious goo that he was going to study for them. They were greeted at the Temple of Liandra but were informed that he was in conclave with the heads of the other Temples. The party made their way to the Temple Of Nepthira.

In the Temple of Nepthira the party watch as many of the human clerics went about their day healing various peoples of the pass prior to being admitted to the conclave. Once admitted they were greeted by Cleric Aken-Ra, Paladin Sylvan Jastra, and Cleric Falnor, who appeared to already be in a heated discussion about Kieren Rathal.
- Sylvan told the Party that the goo was from an otherworldly being similar to shape changers.
- When Falnor was told about the chalice of blood he was convinced that Kieren Rathal was practicing magic used by the Ba’Rai and wanted to stage an attack immediately. Which came as a shock as the Church Of Pike loathes the Cult of An’Desh’a as well.
- Cleric Falnor also explained that he had men looking into Kirens territory and he noticed that a hooded halfling had been coming and going, freely. The Drug had to be created by a Necromancer.

It was then that Lieutenant Veran of the An’Desh Military for this side of the pass arrived late to the meeting. He was a staunch ally of the conclave but had to keep it secret from Lord Talvas, who had once imprisoned him for interfering outside of his normal duties to the pass. He was eventually freed by someone high up in the Military in the capitol. There was mention that this imprisonment may have caused a falling out with Sammuel Trexium, but no one perused the topic.

After more discussion the Party reached another agreement in regards to Kieren Rathals after the Conclave and Military offered their aid in taking down Kieren Rathal. In exchange they asked for help taking out the Cult of An’Desh’a. The Party agreed.

Now the Party is in a dilemma. The Clerics and Military wish to take the territory of the cult. However, the Dutchess also wants it. The party thought they may offer Sammuel and the Dutchess half of Kieren Territory each. Yet two gangs remain a mystery. Could Nestor be the hooded halfling? What of Nodius Jiskal, the warlord gangleader with the largest force to bear on this side of the Pass. We will have to see.

The Lay of The Land

The great Wyrm of despair and cruelty known as the Western Pass, had slowly crept along for years, devouring the hopes and dreams of those poor denizens looking for a better life for kith and kin. Those it did not devour were broken upon the altar of indifference and bent to it’s will as its many heads fought one another to feed their greed, doctrine, lusts, and righteousness. It would not be until a group of outsiders tasked with investigating murders most foul arrived in the Wyrm’s den that it would again waken to violence.
- Coming of the Outsiders Chapter 1 ~ Yolo Swaggins

Upon their arrival in the Western Pass the party was instantly introduced to the lawless nature of the city. Directly in from of them they witnessed a “fancy” dressed orc stab and murder a guant An’Desh Elf in cold blood. However this was immediately followed by a woman by the name of Zilah Barlowe executing the Orc on the spot with a crossbow bolt to the back of the offenders head. Even more shocking the body was dragged away and hung from a sign post outside the Laughing Crow Tavern as a warning to all. Most surprising is both the Orcs and Elves companions did noting in retaliation. Instead they walked away with shrugged shoulders and the utmost speed.

The Party, minding the dripping blood from the sign entered the Tavern in attempt to get the lay of the land. They were here to investigate a murder, not get caught up in local justice. Here they were to Samuel Trexium, the owner of the Laughing Crow tavern and self appointed leader of the Neutral Zone. Since gang violence is strictly prohibited in his territory, Zilah as his enforcer is tasked to make quick work of those who break the rules. The Gang leaders if the Pass also abide and no retaliation would be forth coming.

Samuel asked if the Party had arrived to join The Blades, a mercenary group that he has employed to keep peace in his territory. The party of course, declined and inquired about the seemingly ritualistic killings that had been happening on this side of the Pass. After an almost tragic situation involving Hal’s past as a City Guard, which luckily for all, Commander Jessen of the Blades subdued that Samuel agreed to help with the investigation. After all he wanted the murders solved as well. After all his friend, the halfling, Orlen Farrick sent these naive folks to him for such a purpose.

Accompanied by Zilah and a young Huldrean child named Fenrick, the party was brought to an alley where the young boy “witnessed” the shadows of a short person and a very skinny person commit another murder. In the alleyway Balsatra found some more of the same clear “goo” that he had discovered in the master bedroom of Lord Madesta. The investigation was cut short, however when Lillith another young An’desh orphan girl informed Zilah that the reknowned slaver, Kennel Master Luthias had returned to the Pass.

The Party escorted Zilah and the two children back to the Laughing Crow and made their way toward the Temple district, where they were informed the most recent victims family lived. They were given a warning by Zilah to mind the pathways that marked the Neutral Zone and to not venture outside its boundaries for their own safety. As they made their way they witnessed a group of Orcs attempting to get them to cross into their territory by means of insults and threats. The Party swallowed the insults and kept going. Unfortunately, when nearing the territory of the Cult Of An’Desh’a, a known xenophbic cult of Andesh Elves, they witnessed Kennel Master Luthias line up a group of slaves as the cultists slit their throats in front of the party as a sign of power and an attempt of provocation. This did not sit well with Hal but they kept going.

Once in the Temple district, Hal insisted that the party go to the Temple of Pike. Here he hoped the Wolf God of Justice, that promised him justice for the crimes committed against him would show him the path. However the god was not pleased with Hal simply walking by as people were murdered. Instead of showing him a path to justice the god wracked his body full of pain and demanded that Hal prove his conviction by bringing peace to the Pass. Balsatra was also visited by Dirt Ghost and was asked to find his “line in the sand”. Kira was freed from any emotional guilt she may have had for murder to protect her brother. Lyman was given a vision of the Grey Lady, a woman he was once asked to kill and was told that he would one day be in a position to help her.

After this, Cleric Falnor allowed them to rest in the temple and directed them to the home of the murder victim. Things did not go as planned. Perhaps it was dueto a cultural or language difference but Lyman broke down the door of the grieving family and demanded answers. he was shot by a crossbow for his trouble. Any further violence was halted at the arrival of Paladin Sylvan Jastra of the Temple of Liandra. The party explained that they were here to investigate the "Faceless Queen Murders’ and Balsatra gave the Paladin the “goo” he had taken from the crime scene to be investigated by the Temple.

Not wanting to overstay their welcome, the party left the Temple District for the hospitality of the Neutral Zone. On their way, they came across Kennel Master Luthias who informed them of his views on the Pass and asked them to join him in the “re-building” phase of his slavery business. Not wanting run afoul of the slaver the party lied, and told him that they would think on his offer. they returned to the Laughing Crow in search of food and booze. offhandedly they told Zilah that they had just been propositioned by the slaver. this resulted in Zilah grabbing her weapons and running out of the Tavern. Concerned for her safety, Balsatra turned into a Tiger and gave chase, the rest of the party arriving soon after.

Once in the broken a burned down area of the former West Pass Orphanage, Zilah immediately began killing any slaver she saw. Battle ensued and Kennel Master Luthias lay dead at their feet. It was here that Lyman took a liking to the slavers magical dagger, but it seemed the dagger itself, filled with dark energies rejected him. With Luthias’ head as proof they returned to the Laughing Crow where it was spiked above the bar for all to see. This brought a sense of relief to Fenrick and Lilith. The Party also met a Teifling Orphan by the name Of Perran Hallar, who was not as convinced by the Parties good nature. Not much was gained from his except knowledge about the tenuous acceptance of Tieflings by the An’desh do to something in their two people past that made them immune the normal hunting and eradication of demonic beings.

Sammuel was pleased was pleased with the death of the slaver and was more than willingto pay the party a portion of the bounty and eagerly bought the dagger off Lyman, which did not in any was effect him. Hmmmm. The party rested in the inn.

Plots Within Plots:
Multiple session break down

Last log was when you all cleared out the quarry.

I’ll break these up by plots and please feel free to add specifics that your notes have.

New Canin
- Before you guys left you saw the church of Ariex was actively fighting the forces of Bertrand the Benevolent.

- All victims believed to be from the western side of the Pass until Abigail Therens mutilated body was discovered by Franks the Halfling, hanging from a light post.
- The biggest common thread between the victims was that they were all had a patron in Lady Madesta.
- Lord Madesta was having an affair with Abigail.
- Abagail went missing from of the the Madesta parties.
- Victims all had the symbol of the faceless Queen carved into their bodies. Info on the faceless queen was discussed with Abigails sister, Felice
- Mysterious goo with what look like body parts that have fallen off were discovered by Balsatra in the Madesta master bedroom and in an alley of the Western Pass where a murder took place and was kind of seen by Fennrick; “There was a really skinny man”. Both sets of goo contained Blond hair. Sample of the goo given to Paladin Sylvan Jastra at the Temple of Liandra after he said that it looked otherworldly.

Taerian Delegation:
- Arrived in the Pass to renew trade negotiations.
- Plot to steal An’Desh healing stone discovered and thwarted by the Party. Balsatra seen by man in throne while a terian agent attempted to teleport away
- Taerian Delegation actively searching for Balsatra.
- Party defeated a clay golem created by the Taerians and saved Angelik Vieren. Balsatra is her hero.
- Taerian delegation last seen being taken into custody by Lord Govornor Talvas for questioning along with Lord and Lady Purite.
- Goll the Tinkerer – admitted that he was once Terian and had taught them how to create the golems but refused to show them how to fully enslave a soul.

The Gangs of the Pass
- The Party has befriended Samuel Trexium, Zilah, and the Blades in the neutral Zone after helping Zilah murder Kennel Master Luthias. Orlen admitted to trusting Sammuel.
- The Party is attempting to play the cult of Andesh against Kieren Rathal’s Nobles.
- Kieren Rathal is selling a drug that will let people experience others memories.

Balsatra’s Wild Ride
- Made contact with the Alchemist Apprentice Durden and has shown him a formula for creating a detox drug.
- Has started to unlock his potential and mend what broken parts of his mind/body were shattered in New Canin

Lyman;s Notoriety
- Hates Yolo Swaggins the greatest Bard in the Realm.
- House Bard at Galavants with back up provided by Balzadar Deep
- Wanted by the gangs for the Murder of Kennel Master Luthias.
- Kicked in the door of poor unsuspecting mourners. Temple district not a fan.

Hal Finding Religion
- Was approached by Kojima of the Temple of Ariex to find the followers of Ariex a new home as well as the gods successor
- The God Pike showed how Kojima had sent him on this quest while at the time manipulating his family through his elder brother, who is spreading the teachings of Ariex in Triton City. Told his son and ex- wife that he was dead.
- The God Pike offered Hal a path to Justice if he proved himself to him. Hal failed by letting a bunch of peeps get their throats slit. To make up for it, he must do what he can to bring about as much order as possible to the Pass.
- Hal also trying to track down a shipment of drugs from New Canin

The Skallar
- Goll admitted they existed and he knew them but when pressed asked for proof from the party that they were allies of the Skallar.
- Kira has been discreetly asking around.

Thunder Nugget
- Kira took first steps in becoming a pit fighting champion.

Journey into the Mines

The weary travelers Balsatra, Hal, Kira, and Lyman find themselves in a strange military stronghold named Guardian’s Pass. They are bound to the stronghold until what the military leaders decide what to do with them. This is just one tale of their time there:

“Lyman, the House Bard of Galavant’s Inn, it has a nice ring to it. At least now, I have a comfortable place to call home while we’re stuck in this place, " thought Lyman as he strolled with his companions through the streets of Guardian’s Pass less Hal who had some sort of fit. “Now on to this tax collector Orlen to see what Jobs he may have for us.” The party approached the appointed destination and saw the swindley man. You can pick his type out in any town. The group approached him and found he did in deed have some work to do, clearing out some mine that has been closed down for some odd years… seems like pointless work… clearing closed mines out of creatures who will likely just be replaced in a few months. I guess if we remain here, it’ll continue to be a paying job. He directed us to get supplied from Corina Theren so we ventured forth to see what this Corina had to offer. We get to this shop where we meet Corina and her sister Felice. Corina was a total prude, but Felice seemed nice enough. Offered to buy some of our stories as she is a writer. Corina on the other hand, wanted to charge an arm and a leg for a simple healing drought. So we passed on that but then were greeted by a strange little fella named Goll. Who after some persuasion allowed us to enter his shop. Once in the shop he seemed to be talking to someone, but strolled around the shop giving us all custom equipment that was highly customized to our own uses. Very strange indeed.

We set off for the mines, and encountered Soltar, a Fencing master from the officer training school. He was inspecting the mine entrance and seemed to be fairly worried about what awaited inside. He joined us as we entered the mine and proved very capable and useful. We immediately found the corpses of the other parties that were paid to clear the mine out… and started to see oddities such as traps, lots of traps and strange cloaking creatures who clung to the ceiling, including one thing that almost took me out… as it smashed onto my head. We fought our way through and cleared the things out, disabled some traps and entered a second level which we encountered green spiked creatures and a few bug bears. I took control of one of the bug bears to give us an edge in the battle, and he made himself quite useful until we went through a trapdoor and he ran straight to the leaders… i should have been more clear in my instructions i suppose… may Klarg rest in peace as he was burned alive by some trap. On this final level there was a wizards, a summoner, and several minions. The summoner made some water serpent attack us while the wizard sorta just ran around. I kept them at bay as much as possible while the group cleaved their way through the minions. The wizard eventually got out of my area of control and started opening a portal which Balsatra luckily interrupted and saw a glimpse into a world of interesting decor, including dragons carvings, and lots of gold and red colors. I was hoping to keep the wizard alive but it was torn apart by the summoner’s fiend… we at least got the summoner to be bound and brought them back to the city.

Oh and Soltar has a kick ass sword…

entered guaridans pass
jail sucks

met 3 fellow adventurers: kira, balastra, and lyman. talent people.
guardians pass is a giant fort held by some gray elvish people.

we are commisioned here but must keep the peace.

carl and frank-halfling pickpockets.

caberet-jobs, gambling, fights. drinks

Arrival in Guardian's Pass (west side)
A descent into the rigid hopelessness of a millitaristic neo-fascist nightmare-state

We arrived and were immediately met with suspicion…not, unusual for a stunted half-orc giant man, a Dwarven monk and me…a bear, not just in body, but for a short time…a beautiful time…in spirit. A grey-skinned Elven man who looked like the rest of these sorry-souled bastards stopped us at the gate. At first, he seemed like the kind of guy that might be alright. He gave me the nod, taking me for what I am…a bear..and a Dwarf…just let things be…take things as they are, just go with it, like the captain of a passing ship, giving the slow silent nod of knowing to his fellow man at sea. But the universe decided to be a bastard at that very moment, and he called in the goons. A whole sea of them, they looked like what wheat must see when locusts descend; all armored with sharp teeth, blotting out what passes for the sun in this grey blasted hole of a world.

They locked us in some forgotten oubliette leagues under the crust of the planet, some Demonic dungeon. I only remember saying something like “Is it just me, or does this place smell of bear piss?” There was a Human man in the joint with us. I could tell he was a cop just by the way he looked, and by the way he said he was a cop. Or used to be anyway. No doubt he burned a line straight through his life, some sad story involving hallucinations and insane, mad dreams. Just another youth lost in the great sea of the drug war called life.

The next 6 1/2 days were a black-out blur of boredom and violent tedium. We occasionally tested the patience of an Orcish guard by snapping at him like he was some new Cainen show girl. It drove him to the bring of impotent fury, raging at the fact that deep within his soul, he could never admit to the outside word, that he longed for the stage and all it’s high-kicking…but he was born into the world as he is, and society had placed it’s crushing strictures on his life. Poor bastard just wanted to be free. In a very real way, he was a prisoner right there with us.

Suddenly, we were out of jail, rushed and sword point to some posh quarters. We were given wine and food, I was hit on the head with soap. Next thing we knew another leggy grey-skinned ball of dour severity named Aya approached us and asked us to spill the beans. I though sure, why not? I’ve got nothing to hide. These fascist bastards won’t know the real me anyway…he’s back in that prison somewhere with the bear and that Orc on the stage dancing…where the light shines and the cool breeze flows on mountain tops. Oh! Now there’s a shouty man and Aya-long-legs pulls a knife. Violence! No, not yet…maybe later. The shouty man leaves, and Leggo gives Hal, the ex-fuzz, some papers. I try for them but he’s some prater-natural protege of quickness or something. The papers evade me. I’ll try again later.

Now we are on the streets. There was a suspicious child-creature named Koooral who may have been a working boy. He claimed he wasn’t tricking, but his sunken eyes betrayed the real truth. Lyman tried to bewitch the stunted lost soul with some of his rhyming words, and it might have worked. It’s always hard to tell in the eyes of those who the streets have already claimed. Anyway, 2 gold pieces later and we had a gruesome story of murder and strange symbols. Next, We go to a bar, some place called Galavant’s Cabaret. I figure why not? Might be a good place to find the like minded, those who see past the gold and the artifice and the mundane. The freaks who dwell in the Freak.

Galavant proved to be aptly named, and never without beautiful busty women in his lap. Perhaps this was the nonexistent pimp Koooral was referring to with his dead black-glass doll eyes? We later learned that he knew him, and even recommended him to us as a guide, but that’s the future talking. NOT NOW.

Now, Lyman is angling for some digs for the group. He challenges the local drunk to a show-off match and naturally he wins. This was the first of the Deep brothers we were to me-NOT NOW, THAT’S THE FUTURE! STOP DOING THAT!

…Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the other Deep brother. Well, that story starts and ends where most do: In the sweaty depths of a pit fight. But we’ll get to that in a moment after a brief stint back in the past. You see I forgot to mention that after nearly seven hellish days in the hole a man can only be stretched so far on the dose he stores in his special emergencies-only pouch. I looked around the bar for someone who might speak the true language of the universe, and I found her: Francesca. What cold-hearted Goddess of mercy crafted such a being to send salvation in such an uncaring form. I asked if she knew where the real party was, is, or will be, in so many words. The cruel stone of a woman needed five gold coins to give up the skinny, and I was powerless to effect any different outcome. She named some Human, one “Durden”, sounds like an alias, but also a nice enough fellow. He works for the head mixer of this trumped-up barracks named Malick, a Gnome of good breeding. We’ll visit him later, first we need to stop back in the near future, not the far future. STAY FAR AWAY FROM THE FAR FUTURE. The near future is where it’s at, because here we are and it’s now the present.

Back at the pit fights, where dangerous men and deadly women slap each other around for money and beer, my sister and the cop decide to test their might. I tried to get in, but that wasn’t happening; no dogs allowed. I tried again to swipe those papers Lady Leg Lord gave Hal, but he used those damn high-powered hyper mutant reflexes of his to keep them away from me. Don’t fall asleep Hal…DON’T. FALL. ASLEEP.

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