Nearly one-thousand years have passed since Prince Kafen Theron reclaimed the Rankan Empire. Peace lasted for much of his reign. After his death, his successors had little success in keeping the empire together.

Sanctuary was the last city-state to seceed from the empire; a loss that crippled trade to the Western kingdoms. Political and religious strife continued to wreak havoc until the once-mighty empire was all but a memory.

The port city remained powerful and influental until roughly twenty-six years ago, when an earthquake all but destroyed much of Sanctuary. Many unscrupulous merchants and lords took advantage of this situation, wresting control from the citizens. None were as successful as Dagult Theronall, however. He used his considerable wealth to create a mercenary army and seized power within Sanctuary; A power he is using to rebuild the Rankan empire.

It is fitting, then, that a group of heroes from all walks of life would band together in opposition of the merchant lord...

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Session 14: Stacking the Deck
With the skull card drawn, Valindra encircled her allies in a protective ward and made hasty exit through the portal. The party was left to deal with the undead menace. They would not do so alone, however, as Tyro Jimmel chose to stand with them.

It was a bloodbath. Jimmel fell first; his spirit releasing in anger as a new wraith. William suffered greatly at the hands of the creatures. His fightin style was unaccustomed to dealing with apparitions. Before long, he struggled to stand and succumbed to the necrotic energy warping his soul. He, too, would rise again as a wraith.

Ebaark, on the other hand, appeared to take great joy in the battle. His valor kept the wraiths at bay while he unleashed furious retribution upon them. More often than not, his morningstar connected. As the miniutes continued on, his smile began to fade. No matter how many times he swung, Ebaark could not bring down his foe. He watched as Jimmel and William fell, helpless to save them. The warding circle was broken by Pelias, but Ebaark refused to abandon them. Then, too, fell Pelias.

Helge continued loosing arrows at his targets, but even his precision was duped by the insubstantial nature of the wraiths. One look at Ebaark was all he needed to run for the portal. As he ran out, he remembered his card. He drew, but had not yet looked at it. Overturned in his hand was the moon card... "William, return to us", he whispered, guilt filling in his gut as the spirits of Pelias and Jimmel advanced upon him. With a quick jump through the portal, Helge found himself on the main floor of the keep. Ebaark was soon to follow.

The moon card vanished in a flash of light, leaving a confused and fear-stricken William standing before them. So sudden was his appearance, a gasp was heard from behind a shelf. Out stepped a young hawkmask William called "Pip". He had been worried about Wiliam's departure from the guild and was keeping tabs on his friend. Before they could exchange welcomes, a shout came from outside the walls.

"By order of Lord Theronall, exit the ruins and surrender, villains!" Sabine had returned with a garrison of soldiers, hell bent on capturing the party. William quickly handed the crown to Pip and told him to get out quietly. The party barred the doors and headed for the rooftop.

The heroes leapt from the keep to the wall and quickly scrambled into the city, with Sabine hot on their heels. They spread out in the maze, hoping to lose the guards, but ended up both surprised and dismayed to be routed by hawkmasks...
Session: Session 14 - Sunday, Apr 15 2012 from 12:30 PM to 5:30 PM
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The Skull Card
"What does that mean?" Pelias asked, staring at the skull-faced tarot card. At once a thousand souls shrieked in anger. "You chose...poorly", Valindra chuckled, as she drew up a circle of protection. Shadows along the walls elongated and had begun to move freely from their corporeal counterparts. Ebaark readied his morningstar. Still more shadows stirred. William looked at his shadowblades, uncertain of their effectiveness. The shadows took form...

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Session 13: Many Things...
With the blue star adept in tow, the party continued exploring the maze-like crypts of Sanctuary keep. Though the keep had not seen activity in the depths for many years, there were still dangers to avoid, such as crystalline spiders who find their way in the dark underground in search of light sources to snuff out. Their glass-like webs were particularly dangerous for the party, causing many bleeding wounds. Said encounter also drew forth a hulking zombie--some long-forgotten prisoner stretched out on a rack, left to die but animated during the cataclysm. The freakish beheamoth stalked the halls in search of it's former tormentors.

After surpassing those challenges, the party would stumble upon a host of aberrant worms William would later refer to as grick. They swarmed the party from all angles, hoping to snag one of the members as food. However, between William's quick thinking and Pelias' poison, the creatures were quickly turned away. In their burrowing escape, the grick caused a tunnel to collapse, blocking their exit from the crypts. The Tyro, Jimmel was physically exhausted and Ebaark lay unconscious on the ground. Pelias located a small store room they could secure themselves in for a few hours.

Once Ebaark had rested long enough, the party continued their search for the crown. Ebaark found a tomb that housed the Sons of Sanctuary, while Pelias located a secret passage that went deeper into the crypts. The party opted to look for the crown in the tomb, first.

Inside, they found five sarcophagi with ancient rankan inscribed upon them. Each were named. Uther-Sol, Titus-Sol, the Dawn Celebrant, Raylos, and Kal-Dawn-Sol. William explained that these were five of the seven "suns" of Pelor; his vessels in this world. In speaking their names, each of the spirits rose from their tombs. This was a holy place, and only the blessed may enter. Jimmel prepared a fireball but the others quickly moved to the altar and knelt in respect to the legendary heroes. William, in reciting the proper prayers from his childhood, was granted the blessing of Pelor. The spirits said he would need it when confronted by the sevenths Sun, Tempus.

The spirits also saw in the heroes the potential to save Sanctuary. As such, each were gifted a powerful item to assist them in their task; Raylos offered his valor, Kal-Dawn offered his arm wrappings, and Titus-Sol offered his cloak of Zu. The party accepted the gifts and made their way to the secret passage, and the confrontation with Tempus.

The lavish tomb was a sizeable temple of Pelor. As they entered, the statue burst into flames and the angelic visage of the greatest Lightbringer stood before them. Only William was allowed to cross the archway, as only William was blessed. Before he could, however, Jimmel opened a portal and allowed Valindra access to the tomb.

Oh snap, she's a lich!


When the blue star adepts emerged, Tempus became enraged. His holy light eroded the illusions surrounding the blue star, showing Valindra for what she really was, a lich. The party was ready to destroy her, despite her very honest warnings that they would all succumb to domination and crontrol for trying, when she made her offer.

"I simply ask that William take what the angel is really guarding down here. You see, Tempus keeps Baba Yaga's Tarot Cards within this tomb. Those very cards were used by Baba Yaga when she tricked the Raven Queen into releasing Yaga's soul. If you retrieve the cards for me, and take part in a small ritual, I will be on my way. If not, well, I do not wish to fight you, but I will to get what I want."

Valindra, like many blue star, feared death, and sought ways around it. She belived she could use the cards to cheat death as well. Despite William's misgivings, the party did agree, and took part in the ritual. William was allowed to leave with the cards, and Tempus could do nothing to stop it. Ebaark, Pelias, and William each drew three cards from the deck and accepted the reward and ruin as they came. Valindra then left with the cards and the party was free to go.



Ebaark was richly rewarded, gaining vast knowledge and wealth, while Pelias was able to resurrect Nygel before being assaulted by creatures from beyond... William, however, fared the worst. In his defiance of both Pelor and the Raven Queen he earned the emnity of both the Sun god and the goddess of death.

Tempus readied his weapons and summoned forth archangels, while someone else has a far more wicked plan for him...

Angels with Filthy Souls
Session: Session 13 - Sunday, Mar 18 2012 from 12:30 PM to 5:30 PM
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Session 12: In Search of the Crown
Despite the heroes' recent victory, news of Nygel's death was a sigificant blow to the morale of everyone. The Son's of Tempus wanted blood and the Eastwatch leaders struggled to keep the alliance together.

Ebaark had little time for despair, however, and urged the party to move on the keep. After a quick recon job, they confirmed no hell hounds to be present, but were suprised to find the keep guarded by a Yssge warband.

The Broken-Axe clan were under orders to keep any would-be dungeoneers out of the keep; not by their warchief, but by a blue star adept who recently made arrangements with their warchief. This angred the storm shaman who presided over the warband. He goaded Ebaark into a contest of strength. If he won, the storm shaman could still feel powerful, and if he lost, he was no longer beholden to the blue star's commands.

As with all challenges met before Ebaark, he stood victorious in th end. And to the victor come the spoils; Thunderstrike, the mighty morningstar wielded by the storm shaman was now his to command. With his newfound weapon, Ebaark lead the party into the keep and down into the crypts.

Inside the crypts, the creeping madness was overwhelming. It confirmed their suspicions that the place was not simply haunted, rather that it was corrupted by the chasm. The madness assaulted the party, making it hard to concentrate or even trust eachother. Because of this, William passed right through a magical trap he should have spotted. The ensuing explosion left Ebaark, William, and Helge barely conscious and strewn about the place.

Following the explosion came another obstacle; corrupted, undead rats. The rats swarmed over the party, gnashing and clawing at any open flesh. It took a combined effort from all to bring the beasts down. Before they could rest, however, they could see the bodies slowly beginning to move again... The heroes made quick effort in escaping the reanimating rats, only to find themselves in a much more dangerous situation.

In a large, magically lit chamber, were a number of make-shift desks. On the desks were scrolls and texts from throughout the keep. Studying over these texts were a cabal of Blue Star adepts, lead by a Quorum master, Valindra Shadowmantle. She was surprised to see them, but not hostile. Rather, Valindra was quite helpful. Seeing as they were focused on their mission, she saw potential in aiding the Eastwatch. As such, she provided the heroes with some magical healing and sent her Tyro, Jimmel to accompany them in the deeper crypts...
Session: Session 12 - Sunday, Mar 04 2012 from 12:30 PM to 5:30 PM
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The ending is just the beginning.
At the mention of the new position regarding Theronall, the only visible change in William's face is a slight narrowing of the eyes and a small crease running across his forehead, long ago William learned the value of keeping your true thoughts and desires hidden safely away from the world. The normal cheer gone from his voice Willam turns toward the door, "Do you remember that you once asked me if when I grew up, would I want to be you? And at the time I said that I had no interest?"

Pausing, William takes the silence as an invitation to continue, "I told you that I had no interest in games of power and playing human chess. You laughed at me and told me that is why I could fill your shoes perfectly someday. I didn't understand it at the time, I was young, ignorant and angry all the time. Frankly, I don't know if that has changed, but now I think I understand the question, if only a little bit. I know that I owe you for what you did for me, but I also know that you did it for your own ends."

William stops to steady his shaking voice and steel his resolve, "After this one, I'm done Jubal. No more favors, no more debts, I am leaving this part of me behind. I'd like it if we can meet again as old friends or heck, even distant family, but I can't go on like this, I just can't anymore. I have something I have to accomplish, and that is the path I have to walk...even if it kills me. This life you gave me, it has to amount to something. The other day at the pit, they were cheering for us, for me. I've...I've never felt like that before, but I think I liked it.

William turns the handle on the door and taking a deep breath, takes the first step towards his new life. Just over the threshold he pauses and gestures goodbye with a simple flick of the hand, "Goodbye Jubal. Thanks for everything, no matter how things turn out."


Just around the corner outside of Jubal's room Nimouet is leaning nonchalantly against the wall, "What leaving without even a goodbye?"

Pausing only to glance sideways at her, "Last time we really talked you told me that I was nothing but a self centered rake, whose only worth was to be pointed at a target and told to 'sic 'em'. In fact, since it seems so fresh in my mind, I also recall that you slapped me across the face and told me you hoped I'd 'get what was coming to me'. With things as they are, looks like you'll get your wish after all."

Nimouet stood in shocked silence at the outburst, used to only honeyed words, sweet nothings, and innuendo from William. 'Hmph'ing, William takes off towards the door again, "Nothing to more to say about that then? Not even a goodbye or a thank you? Shouldn't really have expected much since I'm 'just a rakehell' anyway. So long Nimouet."

***

After parting ways after escaping the burning ship in the bay, William spent the next few days gambling and drinking heavily. Finally, he found himself and Nygel drinking alone together. William had played this game all to many times before. He wasn't an assassin that comes in the deep of night. No, he always prefers to come straight at his target. It's all to easy really. Get someone pissed off enough to either challenge you to a fight, or say something that you can demand satisfaction for.

Nygel never stood a chance. One thing led to another and soon he found himself fighting a duel against William out in the dirty and neglected street. William, the better swordsman by far (and not nearly as drunk as he had been acting) easily batted aside Nygel's clumsy attacks waiting for the perfect opening. It came all too soon.

Slipping his blade cleanly through Nygel's rib cage William held onto Nygel's sword arm and pulls him close, almost as if he were embracing a dear friend, "I am so sorry Nygel. I promise you that I'll see Sanctuary free again or die trying. You'll have to wait for me in hell before I can make this up to you though. Goodbye friend."

***

A couple gold in the right hands and a message is off on quick feet to find its recipient...


Captain and Lady Arryn Sung:

I deeply regret that our previous duel was so rudely interrupted. Hopefully you will be able to forgive the intrusion by the less refined. Being a swordsman of such skill and prestige, as well as a fine and upstanding member of the nobility of Sanctuary, I know that you surely would take the opportunity to prove your skill with the blade, regain your honor, and reclaim your forfeit blade. I propose that we engage in a fair rematch to truly match our blades. Although this is highly unusual for the winner to offer such a rematch, I must admit that I found our dance (although regrettably far too short) quite intriguing.

If this invitation is agreeable to you, meet me at the inclosed location. Attempting to set up anything as dishonorable as an ambush will only cause you to further forfeit your honor, as well as your blade. I hope you will not disappoint, and am already eagerly awaiting this next dance.

Lord and swordsman extraordinaire:
Harcyon

"Figures that the first thing I do for myself is something as stupid and such a long shot as this gambit, but I have nothing but my life to ante with...guess it's good motivation to go all-out when you're all-in with your life." William shrugs at this own line of thought and heads off to stake out the duel location in case Lady Sung doesn't have as much pride as a swordsman as he thought.

"I suppose there are worse ways to go then death by a pretty lady," William smirks as he takes to the darkness leaving only the quiet echo of his all-too-cheerful whistling behind.
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