Decem Reliquias

Fire and Ice

While Corryn attempts to talk some sense into the hostile Avar shaman through the swarm of locusts, Elorn calmly walks past him to the edge of the ice bridge. With a flick of his feather covered staff, he makes the bridge even more perilous by summoning a large pool of grease. Berchan sneaks up from behind and attempts to grab the staff, but succeeds only in distracting Elorn. Worried that the fragile bridge might be destroyed, Broga and Armon bypass the stunned Tyree and dive across, sliding to the cave entrance covered in sludge, then stand to confront the obviously mad mage.

Coming somewhat to his senses, Tyree situates Dog on his shoulders and takes a cautious step forward on the greasy ice. Elorn’s faithful owl leaves his side once more, swooping out over Tyree’s head, and releases a curious object from it’s talons. As the small stone hits the bridge, the grease ignites, covering Dog and Tyree in flames. Confused and worried, Tyree still takes slow, cautious steps across the flaming ice bridge until finally reaching the other side, and carefully places dog’s now charred, stiff corpse on the ground.

From across the chasm, Marius slams Elorn with mental energy, knocking him to the ground, allowing Broga and Armon to get past his defenses, but also foiling Cathal’s attempts at getting line of sight. She yells at Marius to follow and takes a diving roll through the flames across the ice bridge, but slides ungracefully and crashes into Tyree, still trying to snuff out the flames on Dog, tangling them both into a useless heap. On his heals, Elorn begins to retreat into the cave. Cathal extricates herself from Tyree and draws a bead on the traitor. Before she can get a shot off though, the shaman says in an ominous voice, “If you follow me, you will die,” and vanishes.

Marius, stepping out onto the ice, shifts nervously, hoping to wait out the flames before crossing. Steam, drips and cracks signify that if he waits a moment longer, he will be stranded on this side, or worse, fall to his death. He finally just closes his eyes and rushes across, coming out mostly unharmed and only slightly ablaze. The bridge disintegrates behind him, the ice chunks falling away into the mist below.

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Who?

The bedraggled and demoralized group trudge through the Muirn’s pass for over an hour, wary for the escaped Corryn double, and cross over three tiny streams of snowmelt before they realize it’s been the same stream every time. Now alert to this strange phenomenon, they cease their vigil for the specter and pay more attention to their surroundings, marking a spot on the wall to make sure it’s really the same spot and tapping along the wall looking for a concealed exit. Having no luck at this, Broga plops to the ground in hopeless despair moaning about how they never should have come this way and that all is lost. Corryn, Marius, Cathal and Armon stop with him to discuss possible explanations and escape routes. Meanwhile, Tyree continues silently on, the corpse of his faithful Dog slung over his shoulders, still refusing to speak to anyone. Luckily the trap prevents him from getting anywhere, and he passes the group several times as they quibble and argue about what to do next.

Finally fed up with Broga’s whining and recognizing this as a mage’s trick to confuse and disorient the weak minded, Marius takes the lead, blasting Broga with a bit of Hope to get him moving and break the illusion. It seems to work, as they soon emerge onto a plateau with a few sparse trees. The incident puts them on their guard for a nearby, potentially hostile mage, but the frigid air that is the Frostback’s namesake soon drives this from their minds. Although glad of the warm clothes the Avar were so kind to provide them with, the weary lowlanders elect to camp outside the haunted canyon.

The sullen Tyree walks away from the group, and stops at the edge staring off into the tree-covered mountains, listening to the distant, soft hooting of an owl. His fellow Avar, Cathal, follows him, albeit foolishly, and attempts to give what little comfort she can, in her typical, blunt fashion. “He was valiant and fought well. Let us give him a warrior’s burial.” Tyree does not answer at first, seeming to contemplate something for a moment, but does not agree to the gruesome ritual known as the Air Burial. “Go away. He’s not dead,” he simply states, and turns away. Cathal rejoins the rest of the group where Broga’s feeble attempts to build a fire keep getting foiled by the fickle wind. She warns that Tyree is not in his right mind, and that maybe some time alone would be best.

Tyree eventually returns to camp, and, upon seeing Broga’s pathetic attempt at a fire, tears it down and builds it properly, then rolls up into his bag and drifts into a fitful sleep, hoping on the off chance that the whole day was just a bad dream.

The morning arrives far too soon, Tyree’s wish unfortunately not coming to fruition. They shake the frost from their bedrolls, noses, and Dogs, pack up, and follow Cathal’s advice to follow the northern path heading further up into the mountains. The camaraderie from earlier in their journey seeming to have diminished with each parting member of their company, first Azur, then Felayne, and now Dog, leading to an uncomfortable and nearly hostile silence.

They travel on like that for hours, until finally Cathal waves back for them to halt. She doubles back and informs them that the rogue Avar Banur’s lair is just up ahead. According to Azur, he is the one who took his wife and Berchan’s sister, Izot, captive on their ill-fated elopement. If she still lives, that is where they should find her. The excitable boy Berchan insists that they charge in immediately, but cooler heads prevail. Being the stealthiest of the lot, Broga is elected to scout ahead and report back his findings, and is gently reminded that he do a better job than last time.

The dwarf silently climbs the narrow path they’ve been following until it becomes even narrower, and the comforting cliff wall to the right falls away, revealing a deep chasm over which a delicate looking ice bridge spans. Seeing no where else to go, Broga slips, literally, across, to a dark cave entrance on the other side. Only a few feet in, he finds a strange totem wedged into the ground. It seems to be some sort of bird skull adorned with feathers, obviously not left here by any animal. Standing there in the darkness alone, he takes out the unusual and compelling cat statue he looted from a merchant’s stall in Verchiel, closes his eyes and wills it to do something. Anything really. Nothing seems to happen though, so he stashes it back into his coat, still keeping it close. Not willing to scout any further ahead alone, he makes his way carefully back across the bridge and reports his findings.

Tyree recognizes the totem, as does Corryn, having seen similar such items around the sacred animal pit in Redhold. They presume a shaman must be living here with Banur, but get no further in their discussion as they are interrupted by the twang of many arrows leaving bows and whizzing by their heads. Turning their attention to the chasm, they see that on either side of the cave, small alcoves now hold half a dozen Avar archers where before there were none. Tyree and Cathal return fire, having no qualms with killing these very different Avar. Several fall to their death in the skirmish, and, with the mage’s help, the opposing archers are soon summarily defeated.

Almost laughing at the feeble defense, they find the bridge itself their next obstacle. Corryn crosses first with the boy, both being very slight of build and light on their feet, and the pair have no issues. Marius lingers on the southern edge, apprehensive of the height and unsure of the bridge’s structural integrity. He lets Tyree cross first, with Dog’s now quite smelly body still slung over his shoulders. As the big Avar reaches the center of the bridge, a bird flies dangerously close, threatening to knock him off balance, circles back around, and swoops into the cave. Corryn recognizes the bird, and is relieved to see Elorn emerge from the darkness, his owl coming to rest comfortably on his strange, rune-covered antlers. Tyree’s eyes light up at this sight. At last, someone who can revive Dog! Corryn’s relief and Tyree’s excitement are short-lived though, as the man addresses them in a stern voice, stating ominously, “You should not have come here.” A swarm of locusts emerges from the mage’s staff, engulfing Corryn, to the shock and horror of his traveling companions.

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Muirn's Pass

Finally finding themselves at the foot of the Frostback mountains, Cathal takes the lead in her familiar homeland and guides them to Muirn’s pass. Warning once more that the area is known to be haunted, they venture into the narrow canyon, hoping to catch Banur and his Avar minions off guard by coming from such an unexpected direction. Not ten steps in, just after Cathal and Dog round the first corner out of sight, Broga exclaims and falls to the ground, out cold. Corryn hurries forward to inspect the dwarf, who unexpectedly leaps to his feet and stabs at him. Confused, Corryn looks around, seeing another dwarf on the ground, with Armon leaning over and stabbing him. Marius approaches Armon, blasts him back from the dwarf and utter chaos ensues.
Everywhere Corryn looks, his companions are fighting one another, but unusually, there seems to be two of each. Not sure who is who, he yells for Berchan to retreat back out of the narrow ravine. The boy simply cowers in fear, unable to move for the sheer horror of the sight of a twisted copy of himself. Tyree approaches, ostensibly to come to the boy’s aid but swings his maul rather than pick him up, luckily missing the youth. Corryn grabs him, pulling him back and yells for retreat, hoping only the real copies follow. Too busy gleefully massacring one of the Mariuses with the glowing, singing blade Aamar Fin, Armon ignores the suggestion and stands his ground. Cathal and Dog return from around the corner and follow a Corryn, Tyree, and Berchan back out of the pass to regroup.
Gathering his wits and focus to head back in to extricate Armon, Marius and Broga, Tyree is caught completely off guard when Cathal stabs him in the back, literally. Dog assaults him from the front, and he and Corryn realize the real versions must still be around the corner. Corryn heads back into the canyon while Tyree engages the copies, but the Avar soon finds his mundane weapon all but useless against the unnatural specters.
Upon reentering the pass, Corryn fires an Arcane Lance at the Broga attacking one of the Mariuses, and it disappears into a wisp of smoke. Now knowing the copies can be defeated, the real Armon and Marius redouble their efforts and also strike the final blow at their opponents. The Marius and Armon copies dissipate, the remaining pair only slightly annoyed they didn’t ‘accidentally’ kill the real one. The magic wielding trio then quickly dispatch the Tyree specter. The Corryn copy, seeing his companions defeated, runs in to the wall and disappears. Armon and Corryn then finally heed Tyree’s calls for help, though he easily dodges the imposter Dog and Cathal, thankful that they seem to be just as ineffective in battle as their real counterparts.
Marius sees the real Cathal stumble back around the corner, battered and bloody. He runs to her aid and begins to dress to her wounds, but notices the marks seem to be dog bites. Worried, he asks where Dog is, and she responds simply, “He attacked me. I killed him.” Realizing her error, Marius tries to quickly explain the situation and does his best to conceal the bite marks with the bandages but worries what the unstable Avar might do to her should he find out the truth.
He does not have to wait long. After a brief discussion at the mouth of the pass, they decide not to abandon the plan and proceed forward. Around the bend where Cathal and Dog fought, Tyree finds the canine’s body lying on the ground, peppered with familiar Avar arrows. He calls for the mage, but Corryn’s magic does not revive Dog. He solemnly picks up the corpse and carries it forward into the mist, not looking back or speaking to anyone.

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Summerday

Marius, Tyree, and Dog return to the market to find quite a different scene than when they left. Several guards have cordoned off the area, having replaced the white-clad youth. One guard halts them just outside the crime scene. Peeking around him and spying a puddle of blood, a sinking sensation in his gut tells him what must have happened here. Hoping he is wrong, he uses his undeniable charm, the tragedy of Haven, and the threat of the dead coming back from the grave to convince the guard to let him through to examine the body. Seeing the vicious wound in the victim’s neck and a yellowish tinge starting to form around its edges, his fears are confirmed. He warns those around to be on their guard, in case this one comes back. After a few tense moments of staring at the corpse, it does not rise. He warns the guard to keep a close eye on her anyway. Tyree commands Dog to track Corryn, and he and Marius leave the guard wide-eyed and unable to tear his gaze away from the unmoving corpse.

Panting and heaving, Armon turns the corner to find his quarry has reached a dead end. The infected man turns to face his pursuer, lunging at him with the fierceness of a cornered animal. Cathal fires her arrows and Armon hacks and slashes at him, causing wounds that bleed yellow, but, in typical Amber Rage fashion, the infected man continues to fight well after his wounds would dictate. The quick Berchan joins the fight, dodging in and out, stabbing ineffectually with his short sword, but providing a welcome distraction. Corryn shouts at him from behind to maneuver him away from the standing well. Using his shield, Armon circles behind and pushes him forward, right into the swinging maul of the newly arrived Tyree. Figuring the Avar warrior would not have returned alone, Armon shouts for Marius to take care of this guy. A shower of yellow gore soon follows, catching Tyree and Berchan in its wake, leaving them stunned and nauseated.

Once the two ill combatants recover enough to walk, Marius suggests they find a place to wash up and have a nice meal. They locate a modest inn where Tyree, Berchan and Corryn head straight for the baths, while others sit down to have a nice meal. Tempted to try out his newfound toy, Marius tells the serving boy “free” in his most commanding voice. The boy looks confused, and demands up front payment for the meal. Figuring it didn’t work, Marius deflects the boy’s questions and pays for the food. After the boy returns to the kitchen, a commotion arrises. A pack of dogs tear through the common room and race out the inn’s front door. They are soon followed by Marius’ serving boy, who seems to be attempting to escape the ire of the plump woman with a rolling pin. Before returning to the kitchen, the woman catches Armon’s eye and winks at him. Stunned, the staunch man tries to ignore it, while Marius silently grins. When their meal is ready, the cook brings it personally, with a few extra biscuits and winks for Armon. Flushed and flustered, the soldier looks down at his plate and finished his meal silently.

When sufficiently clean and fed, the group is eager to leave town and dismiss Marius’ suggesting to stay at the inn for the evening. With an unknown number of infected villagers, they don’t plan to stick around to see Elmridge become another Haven. Outvoted and overruled, Marius at least keeps his word to Felayne, stopping by the Wulf estate on the way out of town. The mage makes her promise to leave town at the first sign of trouble, and she hands Marius a small velvet pouch for his.

In their camp on the outskirts of town, Marius ponders Felayne’s fate and hopes she will heed his advice. Curious, he questions Cathal on where she plans to go next, seeing no reason she would stay with them after her brother’s death. She reminds him that Izot is still technically her sister-in-law, and Berchan her brother, and that she has a family obligation to complete his mission. After that though, she expresses no desire to return home to the new Redhold, as there is no glory to be found in constructing walls and buildings. Marius offhandedly mentions he is headed to the Brecilian forest. This alarms and interests her, who warns that the area is known to have werewolves. Claiming that “Avar remember what the rest of the Alamarri have forgotten,” she promises to tell Marius all she knows about them after Izot has been rescued.

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Contagion

They strip the Templar of all her belongings, laying them out carefully on the soft, dewy grass. Forgetting the threat of the Revenant momentarily, the mages inspect each item by torchlight, separating the magical from the mundane and doling out the spoils. Tyree lays claim to the buxom silverite armor, not caring how ridiculous he might look, while Marius tries the distinctive circlet. He stares at Broga and says “Confess!” Immediately the dwarf begins blubbering and babbling incoherently about a wagon and a fruit stand. He hurriedly hushes the dwarf, then moves on to the rest of the Templar’s items. Corryn tries on the luxurious red cloak and discovers a folded piece of paper in one of the inside pockets, and lays that aside for inspection later. Cathal retrieves the longbow from the field where the Templar abandoned it, claiming it for her own without asking permission, also collecting the arrows and adding them to her quiver. No one challenges her.

Once the loot is divided satisfactorily, they discuss how to prevent the Revenant from bringing this particularly dangerous enemy back to haunt them. With hopes that it will render the corpse useless to the persistent necromancer, Armon, the expert amputationer, hacks at the Templar, removing her arms, legs, and head. Once they bury the chunks of Templar in separate locations, they leave the area, just in case. Once at a safe distance, Corryn shares the paper he discovered. He unfolds it to find an accurate and detailed drawing of his own face staring back at him. On the back is scribbled “Armon Reinhardt,” much to everyone’s confusion. Not knowing why the Templars might be after him, Armon just shrugs, assuming the Templars must be incompetent and mixed up their convicts. With that nasty business behind them, they rest for the night, and continue in the morning to Elmridge, hopefully to rendezvous with Felayne and maybe finally be rid of the Arl’s troublesome young son.

The streets of Elmdrige are bustling with teenagers in white frocks and merchants hawking flowers, candies, and trinkets of all sizes, the Summerday celebration in full swing. Marius notices a particularly homely woman selling red roses, and subtly “suggests” to Armon that he purchase one. He has an awkward exchange with the woman, purchases a rose, then returns it to her, walking away stiffly, feeling hopeful and quite confused. Satisfied that he is on the way to breaking the persistent pessimist’s spirit, Marius gets down to business, asking Berchan where the Arl’s estate so he can ensure Felayne arrived safely. Berchan points them in the right direction, but refuses to go near the place, not yet ready to give up on his sister or his adventure. Corryn volunteers to stay with the boy in the market, and Armon, always happy to be rid of Marius, stays as well. Marius, Tyree, and Dog head off, the group still strangely divided by the lines of the battle of Redhold.

The Avar and the mage wade east through the sea of giggling girls and blushing boys to the Arl’s estate, the largest building within site. It’s sparse and practical appearance perfectly suited to Arl Wulff’s reputation. A pair of guards flank the gate, and hail the approaching men. Marius inquires about Felayne and is relieved to hear that she made it safely here, but she is currently resting. He asks the guards to let her know that he is alive and that he intends to come back later to talk with her before leaving town. The man nods and, upon request, points Marius in the direction of a nice tavern where he can get a bath and a good meal.

Curious about the festivities, Berchan runs off into the crowd, leaving Corryn and Armon to peruse the vendors’ stalls. Moments later, a blood-curdling scream erupts from a nearby woman. Always ready to help a damsel in distress, Corryn rushes towards the sound, pushing his way through fleeing teenagers. He arrives in time to see a man hunched over a woman’s body on the ground, blood gushing out of her wounded neck, painting her white tunic a bright crimson. Afraid he knows exactly what has just happened, he shouts at the gawkers to back away, but few heed his warning. The man looks up, his face covered in blood, clearly having just bitten the woman, revealing sickly yellow eyes and confirming Corryn’s suspicion. He rushes into the crowd scattering them as no words could do, bites at least one of them, then rushes north up the street. The mage shouts for Berchan and Armon and gives chase, hoping that it isn’t too late to save Elmridge from Haven’s fate, and that it is pure coincidence it arrived in town just as they did.

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Death of a Templar

Tyree’s distinct silhouette gives him away when he crosses Corryn’s vision, lying atop a hill, watching the road heading north out of Oldham. The mage hails the large Avar and Dog rushes forward, barking happily at the sight of his master. Marius wastes no time in sharing Cathal’s fate with her fellow Avar, that she was captured by Corryn’s would-be jailer and has been taken north in chains. They head off at once, hoping to catch the two yet this night, following Dog and Tyree tracking the Templar and her prisoner down the road then west off the road.

Tyree spots a campfire in the distance and raises his hand to halt those following him. As they make their plans to ambush the Templar, Felayne voices her concern that this is a foe beyond their power to defeat. Although no one outright disagrees with her, they stubbornly persist in their path to what Felayne believes will be certain death. Corryn especially will not leave Cathal to her fate, as it is his fault she was captured in the first place. Felayne decides she cannot risk staying with them, and, with a heavy heart, she takes her leave, taking her two remaining Mabari puppies and heading back to the road to finish the last leg if her journey unprotected. Marius promises to come find her in Elmridge, should they survive this encounter.

Broga, being the stealthiest of the group, volunteers to scout out the situation and report back so they can make a more informed plan. Upon his arrival at the modest campsite, he finds Cathal, bound, gagged and chained, a horse tethered to a stake in the ground, and no sign of the Templar. He quickly hurries back to the group, and is bombarded with questions he cannot answer. Frustrated with the dwarf’s lackluster reconnaissance, Tyree sneaks up to do his own investigation.

Finding the same scene as Broga, Tyree smells a trap, and does the only he knows to do, spring it. He enters the firelight and grabs the bound and gagged Cathal. They are immediately engulfed in an inferno, but the tough Avar braves the flames and emerges with his cargo intact. The horse seems to panic, yanks the stake out of the ground and bolts westward. Tyree, with Cathal slung over her shoulder, rushes back south, in the direction of his companions as arrows strike him from behind. He tosses Cathal roughly in the direction of Corryn, then turns to find the arrows’ source. The Templar emerges from the darkness on her know calm horse and charges through their midst, releasing another volley of stinging arrows.

Marius tries to knock the Templar off her mount, but something deflects his attempt. Now concerned that Felayne might have been right, Marius steps back and let’s his warriors take the front line. The next time she rides through, Tyree swipes at her horse, knocking it out from under her and throwing her unceremoniously to the ground. This draws her ire quite nicely, and Tyree soon feels the bite of her silverite greatsword.

Determined not to let her remount, Armon leaves Tyree to contend with the Templar alone, moves up to the prone horse and slices its throat with the sharp blade of Aamar Fin. It makes an awful, screeching, gurgling noise as it dies, reminiscent of the donkey as it was being torn apart by skeletons carrying his fish dinner. Armon makes a mental note to do something to prevent the Templar and her horse from being raised by the Revenant, should they survive their first encounter with her. Meanwhile, the Templar punishes Tyree for his insolence to within an inch of his life, but Corryn hides behind him and keeps him standing with a steady stream of healing magic. His grim work complete, Armon shouts at the Templar, something awful about her mother, whipping her into a frenzy. She uncontrollably and wildly swings her massive greatsword at him, missing more often than not. That gives Corryn the time he needs to patch up Tyree properly and marks the turning point of the battle.

Berchan, remembering his last encounter with the merciless Templar, opts to keep his head and stays back from the main battle. Still doing his part though, he manages to break the chains binding Cathal, but she does not stand to join the battle. Now free from propping up Tyree, Corryn retreats out of reach of the greatsword, and finally notices the dying Avar. He quickly stabilizes her and turns back to the warriors to see who he might best help next.

Corryn notes that the warriors seem to have the Templar on her heels and the battle well in hand. In a fit of desperation, she grasps something from around her neck, a tiny glass vial, and tosses it at her slain horse. The vial shatters, and a purple gas rises from its remains and into the corpse’s nostrils. Corryn is horrified to see the bloody thing stir and rise, but forces back his revulsion to do his part. Before the Templar can remount and escape, the nimble mage rushes forward, jumps astride the undead monstrosity and rides off into the night.

Cursing filthy mages under her breath, the Templar calms herself and changes her tactics, once again concentrating on the less armored Avar. She nearly finishes him again, but suddenly breaks and runs right past him. Confused but grateful, Tyree turns and watches as the Templar rushes Corryn on her zombified mount, who had made the fatal mistake of coming back around. He is stunned as she leaps into the saddle right in front of him, and takes control of the beast.

Not wishing to be another hostage, Corryn lets go, tumbling to the ground off the speeding horse, a bit wounded, dirty and sufficiently humbled. Remembering his failure to knock her down earlier, Marius takes a cue from Tyree and aims his telekinetic blast at her mount instead. Once again she is sent sprawling. The warriors make short work of the distance, and Broga even helps a bit by making the horse squirm further away with a well placed arrow. Now with imminent doom upon her, she fights to the last. The dim blue light of Aamar Fin takes on a faint red cast, as the blood of the Templar drips down its length as she fights on through seemingly mortal wounds. Finally, when Armon makes the killing blow, he shows the same mercy as he is sure she would have shown him, slicing her head clean off her shoulders. The body stands for a moment longer, then falls to its knees, and at last to the ground, where it lies still.

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The Better Half

When Tyree finally makes his way back to the second floor of the Blue Goblet, Felayne nearly pounces on him when he enters, demanding to know what has happened. He turns her aside, for he has as little information as she, and grabs his weapons, making to return to the battle. However, Felayne stops him, pointing out the Templar from the window, stomping down the street, seeming even angrier than before. He takes some satisfaction in this, since she would have been much happier had she captured or killed her quarry. Now in less of a hurry, he collects all the belongings that the others left behind, but a noise in the hallway gives him pause.

Tyree gently drops everyone’s possessions and readies his now retrieved maul to smash whomsoever might come through the door. The noises stop without an intruder, so Tyree takes the initiative and slams open the door, only to see a frightened, teary-eyed Berchan standing forlornly and alone. He ushers the boy into the room, glances around to make sure he was not followed, then shuts the door.

Tyree’s attempts to get information out of the usually talkative boy are met with quick nods or blank stares. Finally, he chokes, “She chopped off their heads,” then bursts into tears. Felayne is able to calm the boy enough to discern that the ‘they’ he referred to was the Templar and guard who covered Corryn and the other’s escape into the tunnels. Tyree praises Berchan’s good sense to run, which calms him even further, but he is still not able to provide any information on Cathal’s whereabouts.

Tyree, Felayne and Berchan wait about an hour for Cathal to return, but to no avail. He laments having sent Dog after Corryn, but with little other option, they leave the Blue Goblet and get to the business of scrounging up enough silver to cross the toll bridge. Felayne volunteers to sell her horses, since they can’t afford to pay the fee for them to cross anyway, and Tyree has no issues parting with Marius’ donkey. It takes several hours to find a buyer, complete the transaction, and get across to North Oldham. During that time, they see no sign of the Templar or their missing companions. Well after dark, the three humans and Felayne’s two remaining dogs leave Oldham walking north along the Imperial highway, keeping a close eye out for bandits, Templars and renegade mages.

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Divided

Deep in the bowels of Oldham, Corryn, Broga, Armon, Marius and Dog follow Sister Stone silently through the damp tunnels. Hours pass in silence as they slope downward, under the river, bypassing the dreaded toll bridge. Finally exhausted, she leads them to a small alcove to rest. Corryn takes the opportunity to question Sister Stone about her motives in freeing him, to which she responds “You’re welcome.” He laughs uncomfortably and thanks her, then asks about what happened in the Empress’ camp. She relates what she knows, which isn’t much more than he already knew. After she sent Duncan out after the elf, the guards came to arrest her and she ran. Claiming ignorance about what or how the guards knew, she asks Corryn if he still has the feather. He confirms that he does, and she reveals that is what has been keeping the Templars from being able to track him with his phylactery. He clutches it even tighter as they continue through the tunnels.

The damp and tired travelers emerge from the tunnels into a dusty warehouse in North Oldham. Reminding him once more not to lose the feather, Sister Stone bids them farewell and, not unkindly, states her hopes that they do not meet again. Corryn, Broga, Marius, Armon step out into the muggy, late afternoon air and discuss how best to find their missing companions while avoiding the Templar. Dog follows closely on Corryn’s heels, happily panting, still following Tyree’s last command to track him. They decide the best course of action is to leave town as quickly as possible, then watch the road for Tyree, Felayne and Berchan, hoping that if they still live, they do the same. As a contingency, Armon finds a child on the street and asks him to deliver a message to their room at the Blue Goblet. The child extorts twelve silver from him, claiming he needs ten for the journey across toll bridge and back, and two for him to keep. Grumbling as always, Armon pays the outrageous price and watches the boy run away, clinging to the small hope that they boy has some small honor.

About a mile north of town, the majority of Marius’ company lies on a hillock overlooking the road, watching the travelers come and go. As night deepens, the traffic dies down. They make a small camp and avoid discussing the possibility that Tyree, Cathal and Berchan may not be coming. A group of noisy and obviously drunk dwarves passes them by, but they choose to remain hidden and continue to take turns watching the road intently.

A tall figure atop a snow white horse catches Broga’s attention, along with the distinct sound of clanking chains. As it draws closer, the dwarf is able to make out the grumpy Templar woman’s distinct pointed headpiece. She has a prisoner in tow, chained hand and foot, trailing behind. He discretely wakes the others, who crawl up onto the hillock to spy on her. When Marius recognizes the prisoner as Cathal, he nearly rallies them to attack, but his self-preservation instincts override that foolish thought. Without Tyree the odds may be against them. They let the duo pass, but begin plotting to track her down in the wilderness when she makes camp, hopefully with Tyree’s help, otherwise to avenge his memory.

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Jailbreak

Broga scouts for an inn near the building where Corryn is being held so they can keep watch throughout the night. They book a room on the second floor of The Blue Goblet, overlooking the prison from a few blocks away. Not for a second do they consider letting the Templar take their friend back to the capital for a mock trial and summary execution. Armon, wracking his brain for any legal loopholes to exonerate Corryn, can only think of one: A Gray Warden conscription. Though pessimistic of his chances, he sets out on his own to search the city for one of those legendary warriors.

Marius takes a more direct approach and decides to pay Corryn a visit to hear his side of the story. An elf answers the door, wearing heavy plate and a surcoat with the same flaming eye symbol as the door. He lets Marius in and makes him sign a guest book before escorting him to a room with a single chair. Through thick glass, he sees a similar room with a similar chair, where Corryn is brought by another guard. Before he leaves, he warns Marius that using magic within these walls is strictly prohibited and will be met with severe punishment. The guards leave the two alone. Having not much to hide anymore, Corryn relays the entirety of his encounter with Sister Stone and the Empress, leaving nothing out. He cannot decide where the Sister might fit in, wether villain or fellow victim, but cannot think of any reason she might have framed him. Marius leaves the prison with more information than he started with, but still no notion of how to extricate Corryn from the Chantry’s clutches.

Armon’s questioning of a passing dwarf reminds him that Fereldens and Gray Wardens aren’t on the best of terms. He abandons his search and, losing all hope of finding a legal solution, steels himself for the inevitable outcome to his moral dillema. He returns to The Blue Goblet near dusk, just as Marius arrives. They formulate a quick plan to keep watch on the building throughout the night so the Templar cannot slip away with Corryn without their notice.

As he takes up his watch, a dwarf stops Armon in the street, asking if he ever located the Gray Wardens he was looking for. He dismisses the dwarf, too intent on the task at hand to worry about that now. The dwarf shrugs and enters the building directly across the street from Corryn’s prison, which Armon soon learns is a lively tavern. Patrons arrive to drink the day away, not giving any notice to Armon. Felayne watches the warrior’s irregular, zig-zagging patrol from The Blue Goblet’s window, ready to wake the others at a moment’s notice. After a few hours, the elf guard Marius had encountered on his visit steps out of the prison and stands outside the door for several minutes. Seeing this, Felayne wakes up Tyree, unsure of what to do. A human woman approaches the elf, identically clad. They exchange a few quick words, she enters, and the elf heads across the street into the tavern. Assuming this is a normal changing of the guard, Tyree chides Felayne for waking him for such a small matter, then goes back to sleep.
Armon slips out of his hiding place and resumes his patrol.

After a few uneventful hours, Broga comes to relieve Armon, and Cathal takes up watch from the room. The less hardy folk filter out of the tavern, retiring early and heading back to their homes. The monotony is broken when a pair of men erupt out of the tavern in a brawl. Broga watches from the shadows and emerges after the victor departs to fleece the unconscious loser. Cathal snickers at this, but does not bother to wake anyone. The woman guard is relieved by a stern looking young man, and she also heads into the tavern.

When Tyree arrives to relieve Broga, the unconscious man is still lying in the road. He recognizes him as a fellow Avar and takes pity on him. He drags the man closer to the tavern to avoid being trampled. Berchan watches carefully, intent on doing his part to save Corryn. Tyree makes no secret of his presence, but feigns nonchalance, carrying only his red bastard sword. He finds sticks in the street to play with Dog and watches as the last of the patrons leave the tavern, it’s lights are doused and doors are locked for the night.

At the appointed time, Tyree does not return to the Blue Goblet as planned, instead taking a double shift on watch. Near dawn, the sour-faced Templar woman saunters down the road, the few locals out at this hour giving her a wide berth. Tyree waves cheerily and offers salutations, which she responds with an icy stare. Berchan, having successfully staved off sleep, excitedly wakes up everyone in the Blue Goblet. He, Broga, Marius, and Cathal run as quickly as they can down the stairs and out into the street, leaving Felayne and her dogs alone with Tyree’s weapons.

The Templar dismisses Tyree and enters the building where Corryn is being kept. A few moments later, just as his friends arrive from the north, an explosion reports from the south wall of the prison. Tyree directs Cathal to go around the east side to flank, while he moves towards the fissure from the west. A large man with a topknot wearing Templar armor steps out of the man-sized hole in the wall. Tyree makes ready to attack, until a familiar, though disheveled, red-headed woman emerges, followed by the former prisoner, Corryn. Sister Stone takes the lead, rushing from the wreckage, past Tyree, and across to the tavern.

p. In close pursuit, the Templar woman climbs through next, but Tyree blocks her way, buying Corryn and the others time. Sister Stone bypasses the tavern’s main entrance in favor of a side door, then knocks an unusual pattern on it and waits impatiently. Finding his bastard sword quite useless against the Templar’s silverite armor, Tyree laments leaving his other weapons back at the Blue Goblet, and, seeing he will not be much use to his friends without them, breaks off his attack and runs towards the inn to retrieve them.

The woman guard, whom Armon saw enter the tavern earlier, answers Sister Stone’s knock and ushers them in. They hear the Templar shout “Halt!”, but ignore her command. Corryn, Armon, and Broga follow Sister Stone behind the bar where a trap door reveals a set of stairs leading into an underground passage. Berchan sneaks up behind her and stabs her in the back of the knee, while Cathal peppers her with arrows, but this slows the Templar little. Marius, uncharacteristically standing his ground, blasts back the Templar several times before finally heeding the guard’s shouts and running through the tavern, down the stairs and into the tunnel.

Crouching just inside the tunnel, Marius watches the woman guard and unusual top-knotted Templar ready for combat while listening to the stomp of heavy boots on the wooden floor above his head. The man looks at him, holds up his hand, then yells “Run!” They scramble further down into the tunnel just as an explosion collapses the entrance, cutting them off from the Templar, but also from Tyree, Cathal, and Berchan. With nowhere to go but forward, Corryn summons his whisp to light the way, and follows Sister Stone, hoping she knows the way.

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Arresting Development

Finding no crossing along the steep gorge, the part find themselves back on the imperial highway in the quaint town of Oldham. Wishing to leave as quickly as possible, they are thwarted by a surly, middle-aged female guard collecting tolls on the bridge. At five silver per person and ten per horse or pack animal, the cost is prohibitive to their meager wealth. They accompany Corryn to a local mage shop to return his borrowed horse while they scheme of ways to skirt the toll.

The mage shop is easy to find, and, to Corryn’s annoyance, Broga insists on accompanying him inside. The Tranquil shopkeep again greets Corryn by name, but this one seems less tranquil and somewhat agitated. He dutifully takes Corryn’s horse, but mistakenly leaves Broga alone inside while taking the animal around back. Broga eyes a tempting bejeweled bastard sword under glass as they leave the building, trying to figure out how to hide it on his person.

After securing the horse, Corryn and the Tranquil return to the front of the store, but he suspiciously does not go back inside. Instead, he attempts to talk Corryn into buying some potions, only five silver apiece. Not really interested in the potions, but curious at this man’s unusual behavior, he agrees to take a look at the wares. The sound of breaking glass from inside makes Tyree cringe, and he prepares to defend his miscreant dwarf friend. Unexpectedly though, the Tranquil doesn’t seem to notice or care. He enters the store and walks past the guilty-looking dwarf holding a colorful vial in each hand, crunching shards of broken glass beneath his feet, without reaction or comment. Corryn takes a cursory glance at the box of potions the man retrieves from a back room shelf, and seeing nothing special, politely declines the offer. Now more suspicious than curious, Corryn grabs Broga by the shoulder and leads him out, still holding the vials.

A severe looking, fully armored Templar woman strolls directly towards Marius just as Corryn and Broga exit the shop. She stops short, turns, and addresses Corryn directly and by name. “Corryn, mage of the White Spire, Circle of Val Royeaux, you are under arrest. Please come with me.” Corryn says nothing and prepares to go with her, but Armon suddenly protests, demanding to know the charges. After an annoyed glare, she perfunctorily lists his many crimes: failure to report to his superiors, participation in a blood magic ritual, and the murder of Empress Celene I. Corryn opens his eyes wide in shock at the allegations, then suddenly realizes at least one of them might be true. At that, she walks away from Armon and down the road, expecting Corryn to follow.

The obedient mage follows the Templar, recognizing her rank as Knight-Commander, trying to spare his friends from what would surely be a losing battle. Armon follows, persisting in pestering her about the man’s human rights, due process, habeas corpus, and any other legalese he can think of, while the others keep a safe distance. Finally she turns on him. “This maleficarum will be given no quarter. I will return him to Val Royeaux, where he will face trial and be given more mercy than his kind deserves. If he tries to escape, I will kill him. If you help him, I’ll kill you too. Now, get out of my way.” Then the grumpy Templar takes Corryn into an unremarkable one room building, whose door is emblazoned with a flaming eye, shutting the door in Armon’s as he attempts to protest further.

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