- Following the rumors of more Erymanthoi actions to the East, the reunited PC’s regather at the site of the Roar to seek out the source of the chaos. Well, one other than Sajira and Dressh’s terrified band of demon-summoners.
- The Roar is currently insufficiently powered, but a combination of manual Essence contributions and Unari’s Hearthstone ensure that it remains airborne.
- As the PC’s draw closer…
The camera pulls out of the bridge of the Ascendant Nimbus Roar, and races across the sky toward our heroes’ destination on the ground. It finishes on a wide angle shot, we see the wind race and rustle across the grass, the only noise except for the cry of a raptor circling in the sky above.
Our attention is drawn not to the grass, nor to the random hawk, but to a great stone emerging from the ground, with two figures seated atop it. The smaller of the two, clad in a heavy fur-lined coat, looks into the distance and raises a spyglass to their eye.
“Well.” She says. “It looks like they’re on their way.” She passes the instrument to the man still seated—less heavily clad, but perhaps born to this climate, shaggy-maned and bearded. He looks, too.
_"So they are." He says, resigned.
_"You know," the woman says, “you could always just make a break for it.” Her smile is mischevous, and perhaps she expects the man’s answer.
“No. I really can’t.” He sighs, and looks up to her reproachfully. “You know that. You, on the other hand…”
“Oh, I could.” She crouches to place herself on eye-level with her companion. “But this could be fun. Besides, I’m just the slightest bit curious…”
“Oh, either we’ll see or we won’t.” The woman stretches her arms up over her head, and the edges of her sleeves pull back just far enough to show unidentifiable tattoos. “Come on, Jaeldrin.” She says, as she hops down off the stone. “Let’s go back to the village. You know what comes next.”
- The Roar draws in for a landing, sending Unari out to search the surrounding area. In owl form, she finds Jaeldrin gently reminding the people of a nearby village that he and his have protected and aided them, and letting them know that there are those coming who would end what they stand for.
- Unari returns to the Roar ahead of the march of villagers, giving them a brief summary before Raven and Jaeldrin arrive.
- Savant sneaks out to get a peek at the Infernals and their people. While he remains mostly unseen, Raven catches a glimpse of him, and he sees the death of her previous incarnation. What Raven sees is uncertain, but while she is momentarily disoriented, she neither betrays Savant’s presence, nor seems particularly upset. In fact, she seems rather pleased.
- Akeva later emerges and briefly speaks with Raven:
Akeva gets outside and onto the deck, then shouts back. “Hello, down there!”
The woman tilts her head as she eyes Akeva. “Huh. You, too.” She holds up her hands, as though in self-defense as she calls up to Akeva. “If you ever remember enough to wonder, I swear, it wasn’t my fault.” She smirks. “In fact, if you ever remember, we have a lot to talk about.”
She pauses. “Anyway, listen. We’re just trying to make a functioning community here and it’d be really appreciated if you people would just leave without things getting hostile, you know?”
“Uh.. I only understood half of what you said! Hold on!” [Akeva] ducks down somewhere, then pops back up. “…who’re you?”
- Lion emerges, and debates with Jaeldrin over the ethics of servitude to primordial chthonic horrors that want the world to suffer. Ultimately Raven decides to just speed things up on their proper course.
Raven beams as she looks to the townspeople. “Ladies and gentlemen of Kurrah’s Field…”
And with that, the woman raises her hand out over the crowd, and her anima flares up in brilliant green and black, shaping into an obsidian mirror framed by a serpentine figure of jet, in which she reflects as a twisting shadow. When she opens her mouth, her words reverberate in a tone not heard in the annals of Creation since the end of the Primordial War. “I EMPOWER YOU.” The mirror shatters, the irregular shapes drifting in the air reflecting her and the others at strange angles.
The anima casts long shadows in every direction, and suddenly it grows larger still as the shadows bulge—these are not small folk nor slender, the hard-working laborers of the north, but their shadows cease to be human, and a heartbeat later— One man falls first, shrieking in pain, but everyone else quickly follows.
What happens next is grotesque, the bodies of dozens of men and women twisting and inverting, muscle and bone surging faster than skin can keep up with as they shriek in voices that steadily sound less and less human, until they stop.
And where men fall, crimson-furred, bone-studded Erymanthoi rise.
The woman grins, though the drain on her essence and will is evident, a towering black-and-green inferno looming overhead as a shadow-black disk rests on her forehead.
- An extended battle explains why we generally avoid combat from here on, but it’s a mostly one-sided trouncing as the Solars gain initiative. The Blood apes fall like rain, but Raven quickly allows her pet Agata, Laphistes, to materialize and teleport her away from the conflict. As a matter of fact, it’s her first action.
Savant keeps his eyes locked onto Raven. The gaze would be considered intent if you were crazed. An almost jovial smile seems to spread across his face while the sling spins. “You know, if battles like this weren’t so important this would almost be funny,” he murmurs. “You, coming back again and again and me always smacking you down.” Essence pours into his weapon this time, burning bright, hungering to lance into the infernal energies of the woman before it. “Comedy routines have made quite a bit of coin off that very running gag…” The stone lashes out, glowing like a sunbeam peeking from the edge of a dark cloud only to strike the earth, successfully safeguarding the energy it held until the final moment. Which is exactly what it does in this case, rushng towards Raven until the last possible heartbeat before the subtle spin he was able to slip onto the missle makes it arc into the agata by the infernal’s side. “Oh, and you’re not running away, either.”
The stone spins through the air and shatters one of the legs of the Agata and part of its thorax. It arches its head to the sky and screams in pain.
Dusk almost smiles, letting his face return to a warm deadpan.
Raven sighs. “Well, I suppose that was the predictable thing to do.” She makes a leap astride the wasp, and its wail dims to a chiming sob; it struggles to remain airborne. “Well, if the surprise is spoiled, I suppose…”
“You’ve nowhere to hide where I can’t find you now, Raven. Not a place in Creation.”
Raven looks from her mount to Savant for a moment and then smiles sweetly. “Ah, but sweet Shadow-Keeper…that’s no limit on me at all.”
She turns her attention back to the demon beneath her, and pats it on its side. “Laphistes? Let’s go home. We’ll take care of you there” The Beauteous Wasp chokes its assent, and amidst the billowing viridian shadow of her anima, it glows brightly with fractured light for a moment, before mount and rider disappear in a shimmering burst.
- The Blood Apes are slaughtered to a man. Jaeldrin, infuriated at the massacre of his people, holds out a little while longer, but while he manages to wound Unari badly, he ultimately can’t stand to the Exalts, and is beaten unconscious.
- The PC’s ponder keeping Jaeldrin alive long enough to ask questions. Ultimately, they decide against, and impale him on one of the Roar’s Stormclaw Reapers, pumping him for a few paltry motes of Essence.
- Ultimately, they track down the remainder of Jaeldrin’s village. Only a handful of survivors remain: the children too young to fight, and one old man left as protector. The children object to being taken away…
Savant and Lion both see the handful of children huddling away from the strange golden light that peers in through the door. Both, too, even notice the strange blue glow to their eyes, shining akin to a cat’s eyes rather than a human’s.
Unari snorts and shifts her weight carefully.
“bloody hell,’ Dusk murmurs in Old Realm.
“They may be gone already,” [Lion] murmurs, also in Old Realm.
“gone how?” [asks Dusk]
“Master Jaeldrin!” One calls out, who couldn’t be more than ten. “They’re here!”
“Jaeldrin is dead.” [says Lion. She] glances to Dusk, speaking in Old Realm again. “It’s called the Locust Mana Plague. It’s complicated. They are tainted.”
Dusk nods. “Like a disease?”
“Shut up, Wren!” Snaps a boy several years older, probably oldest of all of them. “He and the grown ups went—” And he pauses as though slapped in the face as Lion speaks, and looks at her horrified. So do the rest.
“Yes, they’re all dead. Raven made sure of that herself.”
“Something like,” [Lion] says to Dusk, and then turns back to the children. “With him gone Cecylene will not continue to care for you, I think.”
“…” Wren’s mouth opens and closes for a moment before she stamps her foot. “No they aren’t!” She shouts. “You’re lying! They’re going to come RIGHT BACK HERE and KILL YOU!”
Two of the other children slap their hands over her mouth, one of them the older boy from a second ago. “SHUT UP, WREN!”
- Regardless, the PC’s burn down the village, and while the old man protecting the children dies helplessly, they take the children with them to Kaet’s Landing.