Toward The Edge Of The World

Water is the Key
Spell-casting zombies are not your friend

At dawn the next day, we see Karishka greeting what amounts to a sunrise in these parts. She does this unclothed. Mery asks and learns that Karishka is thanking Nethys for a new day.

Tomas asks Karishka if she would be willing to help us explore the area. As we travel, she becomes somewhat fascinated by the few maps we have. Mery learns that Karishka is a ghoul, prompting her to check with Milo to ensure there is no danger.

As we journey on, Karishka frantically warns us about an incoming storm. We move to a cave, unfortunately not a close and places what I had through was a mace outside, standing upright. She tells Mery that the thing generates illumination, but needs to be recharged. As the rain falls on the object, it starts glowing slightly, growing brighter with time. She also tells Mery that the rain recharges spellcasters. Mery experiments and plays in the rain for a few hours, flying around.

After the storm passes, we head back out. After another hour or so, we’re forced to another cave for another storm. We don’t make much progress that day.

Not long after we start looking for a good night camp spot, Karishka spots a campfire and negotiates with the ghouls there to let us camp with them. In conversation with our fellow campers, we learn about “synergy”, a form of colored rock. Milo, Mery, and Heinrich learn that these are highly magical (with each rock color affiliated with a school of magic). Apparently craftsmen can make magic things from these rocks. Mery learns that ghouls do have dragonmarks, and one of our campmates has one. The youger one, about 16, seems to know a large amount of dragonmarks, and quickly rattles off the various kinds. Responding to Milo, he mentions he learned this from their scholars.

What our map shows as the King’s Highway, the ghouls call “Alley of Damnation”, populated by waste wraiths.

The next day we barely duck a green storm. This one isn’t fast, so we have plenty of time to get under cover. Most of us take a bit of rain, which is quite painful.

I continue my (new) work to write in my journal when we stop to rest. Mery’s picture-making time is really helpful, and I can transfer pictures right into the journal.

We take about a week to make our slow way to our destination, arriving on November 7th. Along the way, we run across some wraiths, some large moles, and even the immense scorpions. In the first fight, I’m shocked to find I’m not entirely past the war. I rage through the scorpions, and nearly take a swipe at Jared. Takes me a few minutes to back myself down into a safer state. I recover faster in the second fight, and am mostly back in control by the third. At least enough that I’m not wildly swiping. Not so much that my rage-state is entirely gone.

The building at the site we visit are in sorry shape. Most wood is significantly damaged, with few standing timbers and portions of roofs. Stonework is in better shape. The church is surprisingly in better shape than the surroundings. The outer walls are shaped a bit like a fortified building, with ornamental-seeming towers. Within the outer wall, we find the remnants of some wagons and a wooden structure (perhaps an outbuilding for housing or somesuch). The church itself is round and double-domed with a spire up top. A fountain/pool is around to the side outside of the church.

We leave the wagons inside the walls and outside the church, and bring the horses inside and get them settled down. I review with the group what Sebastian had learned, namely that the wagons had been found outside, some fallen coins, and some coins in/around the fountain. So we start our search outside, with the fountain. Milo reports the fountain is specifically magic, moreso than the baseline he has observed in the wastes. Milo does his water creation thing in the fountain. The bottom of the round fountain lowers part of itself in a descending circular stairway. As I work my way down, I hear some shuffling ahead.

At the bottom, I pause for the group to catch up, with Mery’s light. Two shambling humanoids start working their way towards me. I shout out a friendly greeting, and more start coming forward. Milo does his Sarinarae thing to generate a friendly glow. When the glow reaches the shambling humanoids, they are grievously wounded and essentially dismembered. Mery generates a ball of fire and rolls it down the hallway, burning a number of additional ones. Milo think these are zombies. A tunnel forward/right seems to be a source for many of them. I maintain a defensive position just off the stairs while more spells and things are thrown down the hallway. One zombie catches our eye, dressed better and acting a bit differently. And casting spells! Heinrich creates some black tentacles which grab onto the special zombie and some others. The tentacles grab just in time to interrupt what Milo warned would have been a lightning bolt. Some more spells, and even the special zombie goes down. More zombies (in excess of 30), including about a half-dozen zombie-magi. With our defensive position, finishing them off isn’t overly challenging — only a few frenetic moments when some managed to rush through the magic kill-zone, which Kell and I handle.

After the flood of zombies we start exploring. We quickly find a crate that has been damaged, and is spilling a volume of coins. About the only thing we end up finding down here is a large volume of crates full of hard coins/bars, and other hard/solid treasury items. Milo finds a number of crates of good alcohol. Takes us a good long while, a couple of days, to schlep the treasure up to the wagons and stow for a journey back. Karishka helps, but does not seem at all interested in any portion of the treasure.

I suggest that we leave some form of offering to Nethys, and Milo suggests that we re-intern the zombie remnants. We do the best we can with the remains, taking another few days.

I ask Karishka what her people want. She answers that this is an individual choice, and hers is to explore the wastes. Asked about the world beyond, until she met us, she did not believe that any such exist. Ghouls cannot leave the wastes — they lose energy, get sick, and ultimately die. She offers to guide us to a nearby settlement for further discussions, to which we agree.

Blast! The Waste.
...the first step to a big treasure haul...

Garrick heads out to scout the route for us, with an intent to leave markers that we can follow. We’ll be traveling slowly with wagons, presuming that we’ll be able to fill them.

Supplied with earrings by Milo, I start the scheduling process and land an appointment just before dinnertime when I can get 15 minutes with the Queen. When I am let into her presence, she is in an interesting mood. She educates me a bit on the correct social niceties, such as a (signed) card and a gift. I proffer the earrings, and am further educated that such gifts should be… more personal. I accept her mild rebukes, and she notes that she appreciates my willingness to seek help and be educated.

After visiting with the Queen, I beeline for my (new) social secretary, Mr. Chambers. He prepares me for a marathon signing session of an astonishingly large number of cards, one for each person I interacted with at Tomas’ party. The card for the Queen is more ornate, and separate. He suggests a gift, and proposes a Dwarven relic dagger in a nice box — quite a good choice actually. “I remain illuminated by your presence.”

Mery visits Namfoodle and asks about the Blasted Waste. He hasn’t been there, and wonders why anyone would want to do so. Mery ends up with an assignment to take extensive notes. After a visit to the Mage’s Academy yields limited “endless tracts of hopelessness”, and one long-term (10 days or more) expedition to see if how it would affect the members. Other reports suggest the expedition never actually set foot in the Waste. Magic cast in the Waste has high unpredictability — based on unverified anecdotes logged in their archives. The region has a high ambient level of magic. No real studies have been conducted.

After the party, Tomas is briefly deluged by social inquiries. His party is viewed as an excellent start to the season, as reported in the local papers. He escapes to start some research on the Blasted Waste. He locates a collector, with a number of documents about the Waste, and who likes to go to strange and even dangerous locales. One Delmar Owens journaled about a fast ride through part of the Waste (what would have been part of Serbia). Some storms were bad, others horrific, including acid rain (green storms). Pests, like flies and scorpions, are significantly larger and more dangerous.

Heinrich works to organize the logistics for our trip, and checks in on the warforged he has connected with the Academy. The Mage overseeing their class asks Heinrich about lodging preferences for them as well as an emergency point of contact should Heinrich not be around.

Milo spends more time with Lynn, who gives him an address in Zurich, to where she is re-basing her nominal household. He also works with his Temple to get supplies for our journey.

By the time we’re stocked and ready to roll, several International groups have arrived in the city, with more apparently en route.

We end up leaving on Thursday the 18th, reaching the border of the Blasted Waste about a week later, on the 25th. The Waste reminds me a bit of the African deserts, just with less color if such a thing were possible. At some point, Mery tries a simple spell, and it only lasts half as long as it should. Milo tries one of his, and discovers much the same. The weather initially seems typical, but colder. Bundling up doesn’t really help — the cold seems right through. Strangely, night doesn’t make things worse, cold-wise. Garrick’s trail markers are just easy enough to pick up and follow. The roads are still passable and largely intact, other than what appears to be normal untended decay. Off the road, the terrain is… deformed. Lots of semi-open and expansive caves. Tomas concerns about finding good cover in case of a storm seem to be workable.

At the end of the day, as we’re settling in, we spot a humanoid somewhat in the distance headed roughly our way. Not long after we spot it, it goes to ground. Tomas heads out to invite the figure closer in to join us. He finds a woman covered head-to-toe in cloths, and some kind of slitted goggles, armed with scimitars. Tomas is barely able to exchange some words with her and mentions he thinks she is speaking Serbian (with which he is not proficient). Milo steps into cast a spell giving Tomas the ability to make himself understood. Karishka seems to be her name. She is intrigued by Tomas’ appearance. She encourages to stick near the fires we’ve lit, as the Wraiths do not normally go near the fire. Tomas invites her to join our camp.

In the moonlight, when Mery casts a spell, she has some sort of shimmery white light streaming off of her. Milo’s spells have a similar effect, with a blueish aquamarine color.

When Karishka takes off her hood and goggles, and we at first think she is a skeleton. After some staring, we realize that her skin and tissue is transparent (present, just transparent). Her hair (blonde, dirty), is normal. She has never seen horses, and is a bit confused as to why we’re here. She warns us that the horses look delicious, and we learn that scorpions to her are bigger than our horses.

Social Plotting
Non-verbal cues

We gather for drinks, and I get Sebastian to explain the story he has unearthed, leading to a probable monetary stash of significant quantity. The place Sebastian describes, a Church of Nethys, is from a report describing a trail of coins from a bunch of wagons to a fountain. In spite of the best information available, all of this is uncorroborated. And, the site is in the Blasted Waste. A place sensible people avoid. Fortunately, my colleagues are almost as sense-challenged as I am, and we make plans to head out after Tomas’ party. Sebastian gets us access to maps and (some) additional information to aid us in our search.

On advice from Porter, the morning after Tomas’ invitation go out, I send Queen Cate an inquiry if she has an opening for an escort. I spend a bit getting the missive just so, and fortunately Heinrich walks past just when I needed how to address the envelope. He takes care of it for me. [In actuality, Heinrich rewrites the letter properly, packages it appropriately, and hand-delivers it to the right spot]

Milo does some research into the Churches of Nethys, and manages to narrow the search down to a single probable location.

The Montenegro Corps of Engineers gets busy on a parade field and starts building a tower — one we recognize as a air-ship dock. The Gnomish ambassador invites the Queen to an event there, and most of us manage to find a way to be there as well. A ship ringed in fire, similarly to the English ship we used to get to Zendrick, arrives. Moving fast, the fire-air-ship makes a few passes around the city, then moors with the tower (and the fire dies out). After the initial diplomatic greetings, the main dignitaries leave for further activities. We stick around, and see Lynn coming off the ship. Turns out, she is the Captain of the ship.

On this fire-air-ship, Lynn picked up the Ambassador in Zurich to arrive here today. She has, earlier, taken the ship to Africa (no issue from the sea), and event to Zendrick. She reports the Sea of Storms no longer has storms, and that a “new” continent has been revealed. Apparently the English took note of the Romanian artifact being turned off and turned off some other Artifact. They believe this had been generating the storms blocking voyages.

Tomas party turns out to be a fairly big event.

During the arrival introductions, Mery notes that one of the Court Ladies in Waiting is escorted by a Cpt. Elcar Sinarco (logistics), son of Duke Sinarco. Milo escorts Lynn Nix to the party, Sebastian escorts Mery. Mery is turned out in something new and purple — extremely fashionable.

I practice the obscure art of mingling. At one point, as I’m passing by Mery’s chat with a bunch of people, I’m not sure if Mery is eying me to move on or wander over. So I wander over and join the conversation with Captain Sinarco, who has been discussing the war. During the following, varied, conversations, I get a brief sense that Sinarco is trying to find out more about where we were during the war. Not long after that, he switches attention to Milo, and I’m able to separate. Milo and Mery have a longer conversation, looking into something. At some point, Milo realizes that Sinarco is trying to figure out whether the quantity of supplies that left Montenegro actually reached the front.

Mery’s mom arrives with some cavalry captain and pretty much flits from group to group throughout the party.

I get my signal and leave to meet the Queen’s carriage and escort her officially to the party. She immediately proceeds to Tomas to thank him for the invitation, and proceeds to spend time socializing with the attendees in Tomas’ company. After a bit less than an hour working the “general attendees”, another bit with the glitterati, and then time to escort her back to her carriage for her return. Gambling a bit on her mood, I make a non-verbal offer to kiss her and am pleasantly received. I am directed not to die on my next trip.

The next day, Milo picks me up and takes me to Sebastian’s office. There, I hear about Milo’s observations with Captain Elcar Sinarco. One was that the Captain was quite upset about not being sent to the front, and Sebastian confirms that he had officially requested a front posting. The other, that Elcar was looking into a possible mismatch between supplies that left and supplies that arrived in the front. Sebastian plans to have Vyse look into the issue with Elcar. I suggest they involve Captain Justinian of the Provost Marshall’s office, which they’ll do as soon as Vyse ensures that Elcar is serious. Presuming the worst, Sebastian ponders whether Duke Synarco would be of the sort to kill his own son; determining this would take some time to research. I also point out that the internal security minister, now that one is appointed, could help in this. None of us know who that is. Sebastian points out that Milo has good taste in jewelry, having informally supplied the Queen for many years, and that one of us (me) could delier them to the Queen, and casually suggest that she perhaps get the minister to feed Sebastian or Vyse some helpful information.

Milo and Sebastian compare further notes about the party. Apparently Mery’s mother was putting the moves on Tomas, but nothing was happening. They arrange for flowers to be delivered to her on Tomas’ behalf. Sebastian clues me in that the Queen was not wearing lipstick to the public even, likely that she was planning on non-verbal communications. Asked outright, and since I can’t keep a straight face, I inadvertently confirmed that the Queen and I had shared a kiss. Later, Sebastian asks Milo to be his best man at his hoped-for future nuptials. Milo agrees.

Social Consequences
I need a Secretary?

Tomas sends out formal invitations to a dinner the following week. Quite an ornate card. Later, I hear that this has become a noted social event in the city. Or so I’m told.

Mery continues her research into Lichdom, performing regular data dumps on Sebastian. After seeking her at her house, I’m directed to a library, which sends me to another and another. Eventually I find her, engrossed in the middle of a table of books. Actually reading, and even taking notes! We end up having a long and very deep not-quite-philosophical discussion about justice, remorse, and atonement — specifically about Valentine. I learn that Mery still isn’t sleeping well, and fear that she is not yet thinking overly clearly. I also learn that she has not yet seen her Mother, and immediately offer to escort her over, in hopes of saving her skin. Fortunately, she agrees to this.

At Mery’s Mother’s place, the serving lady doesn’t appear to recognize Mery. At some point in the entry negotiations, my name is mentioned, and shortly afterwards I’m being ushered through the house and into the yard for tea and conversation. Mery is allowed to trail along. Eventually, I escape, after promising to mention to Tomas that Mery’s Mother was hoping to receive an invitation. I deem leaving Mery behind as acceptable casualties in the skirmish.

I find Hydell, systemically visiting all of the temples in the city. I chat with him briefly and learn that he is gathering information, and will likely have some time of contemplation. I offer my help, including assistance in finding the temples of other nation and races. I mention Goblin gods, and he mentions the Dwarves. I ask, specifically not an order, for him to let me know how things turn out.

I chase down Porter, finding him just as he is leaving his office. I ride with him to a Constabulary while we chat. I ask him to look into under what conditions a member of a foreign government or nobility can serve as a Montenegran officer. His initial consideration is that it should not be a significant problem. At the Constabulary, I help Porter bail out Jared, who has been incarcerated after a drunken brawl the night before. Porter has apparently become the resident Romanian legal assistance.

I visit Milo at his Temple for a short visit. We talk briefly about Hydell and Mery. Milo had not realized that Mery had not yet visited with her Mother.

I find Tomas being attended by a bevy of assistants and a tailor, being fitted for some new garment or another. I pass along the suggestion that he ensure Mery’s Mother is invited to the Dinner. I ask for a recommendation or a scribe, and learn that I actually need a secretary.

Garrick, out and about town, runs into a sword-wielding Elf, a member of the Spanish military, that has been seeking him out. He tells Garrick that civil war has broken out, and that he has been ordered to advise certain Elves, to include Garrick, not to return home. The Winter Court, long considered dark, is no longer viewed as the darkest of Elves. A newly acknowledged faction, the Undying Court is even darker, considered abominations, what others might consider undead. These Undying activated the machines that generated the warforged. More recently, the warforged have been used against other Elves. The Spanish borders have been closed by the Elven Queen to buy time — when this expires, possibly in a few short decades, European blood will undoubtedly be spilled once again.

Garrick looks into new from the Spanish/French border, mostly from the French side. He confirms most of the information about the borders. Even returning Elves are being turned back and not permitted entry. The last time borders were closed, when the Elven Queen ascended to the throne, the borders were closed close to a decade.

Milo exchanges magic messages with Lynn, and discovers she will be able to join him to Tomas’ dinner.

Heinric works to ensure the two warforged will be accepted into the academy. He has to apply some leverage to the appropriate arms, and ends up succeeding.

When I check in at military HQ, I learn that Raskin has been wandering about yelling for Peabody, unsuccessfully. We deem this a success, as Peabody should still be on leave. Sebastian finds me and drags me off for a beer. I promise Raskin to have one for him. After avoiding much semblance of small talk, he dives into a new topic for us, the Blasted Waste. The Waste was the scene of a ferocious magical war, with monsters, streams of refugees, and ultimately the collapse of a few countries over the following months. According to Sebastian, Bosnia had accumulated a bunch of money, something I may need for, say, gaining Polish votes to become King. A long-standing legend reported a money caravan vanishing as they tried to escape the then-forming wastes. Sebastian has unearthed a report from a Serbian officer that discusses a particular church where multiple empty wagons had been sighted. I offer to set up a meeting over drinks the net evening, and will have “my secretary” send out the invitations.

Sebastian and I further compare notes. Apparently, Mery’s Mother has started a rumor that Mery has not been seen in society because she is pregnant or has given birth to a child. This was intended to assess just how out of touch Mery is. I revel in this for a moment, and beg of him the permission to tell Mery the rumor myself, to which he agrees. Sebastian also mentions that Garrick has had an Elven visitor, a member of the Spanish Army. Hugely unusual.

I use the first Tomas-recommended secretary, as a trial, to send out invitations to drinks the next night. Mery’s invitation has an extra codicil that an escort will be provided if required.

Tomas’ party will be on the 16th.

Continued Recovery

Popovich visits Mery, and by accounts, gave her a good talking-to. I’m not sure Mery took that in the intended spirit. I try and find a category to cover this act for a citation for bravery.

Later Heinric seeks out the warforged and briefs them on the desired work with the goblins, then ensures they are clear they have the option of volunteering, or not. A small number (four) of warforged are interested exploring other options. Two of them want to become his apprentices. Another isn’t precisely sure what he wants to do, perhaps learn the guitar. Yet another is asking questions of some Sarinrae acolytes (and then later, other temples). Heinric starts teaching the two interested in apprenticing Draconic and Latin to start their formal learning. He also starts trying to figure out if they can attend the Academy.

Garrick sends Mery a note, then arranges with Polarion to take the threatened action.

I head home; Purely self-preservation to avoid maternal wrath. And my own need to have a quiet escape with comfort food. Father and I do a fair amount of fishing. I remember the beer, not the fish. Fortunately, Mother is somewhat familiar with the routine, so we don’t take more than the loving basic harassment. Talking with my Sisters remains hard, and I end up retreating to Podarko after a few days.

Tomas visits his family. They discuss a variety of opportunities for the family business. One topic comes up, that England has acknowledged the discovery of Xendrick, with the help of Montenegro and Austria. Apparently the Queen helped the English save face when the subject came to political attention. The English eventually named the members of the early exploratory activities, which included us!

One of the Sarinrae acolytes reports his encounter with the Warforged, and Milo ends up hearing about the encounter.

Later Garrick relays that Polarion had been a helping hand in arranging for Cate to visit Mery (part of Garrick’s plan). Garrick and Polarion visit Milo so she can relay a message of condolence from the Queen, that she is pursuing an alternate plan with respect Mery. Milo sends a care package to Mery.

In the wee hours of the 10th, Cate visits Mery at home, and they share extended “girl time”. Somehow Cate manages to get Mery talking, at least a little bit. After Cate heads back the Palace, Mery tries to escape the house, and runs immediately into Tomas, who has brought a picnic lunch. [October 11]

Mery interrogates Tomas about Valentine and his family, trying to learn more about him. Mery is intent on trying to track him down. Mery decides they should visit Porter, with Tomas in tow. Mery asks Porter to gather information about Valentine. Tomas provides Porter with details, and Porter takes his usual copious and detailed notes. After visiting Porter, Mery decides they need to learn about Lichs (as Alexei has suggested Valentine may be), so they head to find Milo.

Milo is, as usual, at the temple. Milo is starting to look a tad ragged to Mery’s experienced eye (he has been awake for three days, sustaining himself with spells). Mery wastes no time getting to business, wanting to learn about Lichs. Milo recalls the Sarinrae Paladin’s journal, Travis, we recovered. Milo has read through the journal a few times by now, and has picked up many things he had missed the first time through. Travis is almost certainly a Lantern, or highly familiar with Lanterns, and does mention Valentine a few times.

Milo instructs a set of acolytes to aid them in getting the right tomes from the Temple’s library. They learn a variety of useful details. Generally, the Temple considers individuals seeking to become Lichs as somewhat deranged. There do not appear to be any known non-human Lichs, and the tomes note that humans are not meant to live that long, setting up an unstable situation for most. Mery asks for a consultant, and one is provided. His opinion is that only humans become Lichs because we have souls. Lichs split off some of their soul to create a phylactery, which helps sustain their undeath. Possibly, some could create multiple soul fragments. Each Lich has their own path to Lichdom.

Milo then asks Gerald to talk to Tomas and Mery about destroying Lichs. Milo heads off for some long-overdue sleep.

When I return to town, I quickly get caught up on the latest group news. Peabody chases me down. He hasn’t quite started leave, and is having trouble sleeping. However, he is trying to get help and report that one of the warforged, Hydell, has been asking about gods. When pressed on the issue, Peabody relays that he is just trying to find some semblance of order, and this behavior is… different. We chat for a bit about this. I somehow sense Garrick’s nearness and pull him in to the conversation. We share a few moments with Peabody before I send him on his way, with a request to visit in a few days.

A Slow Return From War

October 8, 1912 and we’re back in Podarko. We largely scatter to the four winds for the day and night, until the brunch at the Palace on the 9th.

Milo learns that Mery has sent an exceedingly polite demurral to Milo’s invitation. Milo immediately investigates, chasing down Mery at her Father’s house. Mery indicates a strong desire to be alone, which Milo respects and leaves shortly thereafter. Later, Milo and I send Mery messages of support, and Kell sends a box of scones.

Popovich skips the brunch to visit the Prussian “embassy”, er, tavern. The Prussians are quite proud of their accomplishments, and many are talking about returning home soon. In the “return home” conversations, Popovich hears many references to unifying the homeland. Popovich turns in writeups of his conversations to the appropriate channels in our military. And when a Provost shows up to check on his observed behaviors, the Provost is given his own copy of a report.

The Queen is pleased to see us. After some awkward moments, none of us quite knowing what to say or how, we slowly achieve some level of conversation. Tomas makes a comment about peace possibly being harder to build, and the Queen agrees. In that vein, the Queen tells us she anticipates we’ll be back on the road again sometime soon, despite her desire to give us more down time. The Queen shares a lot of political scuttlebutt she has gleaned. She has been specifically talking to many Guildmasters, and has come to appreciate the power of the Guilds. This in turn has put structure to some of her ideas, and she is pondering what it would take to build a Guild of Nations. Despite the disbelief of many of her advisors, she intends to build one. She is aware of many influential people across the continent that might be swayed to support the Guild in return for assistance with certain matters.

The Queen indicates that the Elves have withdrawn all diplomats, from across the continent, and closed their borders. The only reason given is they are dealing with “internal matters.”

I do the rounds at Military HQ. Raskin is watching Peabody fill out paperwork in our unit offices. Peabody is a dervish of bureaucratic work. According to Raskin, Peabody has been doing this almost exlusviely for hours. Seems to be a reaction to the campaign. We put him on leave for a few weeks and agree to meet for drinks that night.

Raskin also informs me that a tasty package of baked goods and letter had arrived from my mother. According to Raskin, my mother is anxious to become reacquainted with my visage. He gives me the letter. The baked goods are missing.

Sebastian informs me that he has been working to solve the conundrum of marrying Mery. Her current best defense is that she can’t get married before the Queen. Therefore, Sebastian has turned his (significant) efforts to resolving this impasse. This requires the Queen to marry, and to someone of appropriate rank. I happen to have a Knighthood in Poland, which elects a King periodically from the ranks of its nobility. The current King happens to owe me a favor. The process will require a very large sum of money. Sebastian has recently found hints to where someone could find said sum of money. He and Vyse will approaching Tomas later in the week to engage him in picking up the trail. I resolve myself to my fate.

Sebastian tells me the Prussian senior advisor we believe to be behind our King’s murder and the Overlord’s lieutenant has vanished, and there is now a Prussian bounty on his head (from the Prussian King). Sebastian tells me this guy is also behind the ammunition factory explosion that significantly cut our supplies during the campaign.

How We Spent Our Summer

Tomas spends extensive time with the Goblins, helping them figure out how to govern. He also helps negotiate how they will be treated after the war. The Goblins end up forming a form of Republic, and sign a treaty with most of the European nations.

The needle rifle ammunition shortage is due to an explosion at French ammo factory. Those in the know believe it to be an act of sabotage. The official story is simply an ammo shortage. Tomas hears from a few witnesses that a man in black robes, that disappeared shortly afterward, was seen around the time of the explosion. The Prussian King’s advisor, one of Valentine’s advisors, goes missing for a week. About a week later, word is heard that the King has issued an arrest warrant for the advisor.

Tomas also ends up experimenting with the black ore, discovering when applied to a dead body, bad things eventually happen. Dead rising, and all.

The warforged do well, and we succeed in keeping all of them alive. They start discovering individual affinities for weapon types, starting to group up into functional sub-groups by weapon use. Their natural stillness makes them good snipers, and really good pickets and patrols. I make sure to file merit citations for our troops every time a packet goes back to HQ.

Popovich succeeds in keeping the unit intact, and even keeps his small cadre of mages alive.

Our warforged unit takes out the black ore depository. Milo gets to join us for the excursion, making us the most whole we’ve been for the entire war (just missing Kell and Tomas). We are dropped, by the Prussian airships, with the Romanian infantry deep behind the enemy lines. The Romanians pin down the local forces to buy us time while we destroy the facility. Then the cavalry units punch through the lines to get us a way out. During the assault, Mery gets separated. Garrick finds her hours later, surrounded by burned goblins. The assault became a major turning point in the war, later called the Hollow Heart. Garrick and I are fairly seriously wounded through the festivities. In a weird bout of symmetry, we suffer similar injuries as the Great Battle in the first war.

As a highly-mobile unit, with limited need to rest, the warforged end up traipsing all over the war. We rescue a good number of other units, many by virtue of us being able to get there in time.

Milo excels at establishing rapid triage and treatment outposts, quickly getting his teams trained and getting soldiers back to the front quickly. While not all may have wanted to return, they definitely appreciated his efforts.

The Queen has been working down a list of “crazy ideas”. The viewed as least crazy is the treaty with the Goblins. One of the contenders for top of the list is her proposal to create a Guild of Nations. This idea eventually starts gaining traction.

The Spanish (elves) go silent, pulling diplomatic envoys and groups back, and sharply reducing border crossings (which were never high). Conveniently, this means that there is noone (yet) to ask for the warforged to be returned.

Through my (secret) writings to Valentine, I learn the monstrosities were not his idea, and are from an unknown source. Even his Lieutenants were unlikely to have been able to generate those.

By the end of September, militaries are starting to draw down on front-line forces, and starting to send units home. The opposing forces have degenerated, mostly though not exclusively along racial lines. Small-scale skirmishes occasionally break out, but not for long and no real sustained action. Noone wants to really push across the no-mans land.

Finally, the orders come in to return home to Montenegro, and we get back October 8th, 1912. We bunk the warforged in a proper barracks.

On the trip back, Popovich sounds out the warforged to see how they’ve handled the war. Many are fatalistic about their service “its what we were made to do.” A few are nigh-philosophical and asking deep questions. One seems in need of spiritual assistance.

Milo arranges for a Palace brunch for us the morning after our return.

The Summer Campaign, Overview

What follows is the GM’s overview of the Summer Campaign.

It takes the better part of three weeks for everyone to get to the forward deployment area. The area is broken up into areas where each country stages their troops and equipment. These areas all sort of radiate out in wedges from a central command post at it’s root.

From left to right they are Russian, Prussian, Polish, Austrian, Romanian, Montenegran.

Field supply and hospitals are at the narrow end of the wedge along with each nations command post. Then at the narrow end of all the wedges is a combined command center.

Supply wagon trains and troops come in (from the West), pass through the rear guard picket (which has been duty that the Austrians have taken since they are currently the least ‘able’ of the fighting forces on the field) and then move to their national staging area.

The Prussian Warjacks are nowhere to be seen, but it’s made clear that they will be dropped onto the field when the initial push happens.

The Romanian and Polish Cavalry stage close to the narrow end of their wedges, and rumor is that they intend to ride out as a combined force when they are deployed.

After the units are in the staging area and the senior officers get involved in the planning you witness a number of very heated arguments between the Russian and Prussian generals about who should be the tip of the spear. The Prussians insist that their Warjacks and Needle Rifleman will make the best thrust, allowing the allies to break the line and push deep into Goblin territory. The Russians insist that the magical power their War Wizards can bring the field, and their magical staff weapons would strike terror into the hearts of the enemy. The Prussians insist the Warjacks and the roar of the Needle Rifles would be more terrifying, this sort of back and forth continues for a while. It looks like it might come to blows when one of the Austrian Generals suggests that both cases are strong, so perhaps a coin toss can settle the matter? Prussian and Russia agree, and they ask the Austrian General to do the honors. He does, choosing crown (heads) for the Prussians. The coin comes up crown, and the Russian General congratulates the Prussian General, shaking hands in a show of good sportsmanship. Tarbin later learns that the Austrian General used his lucky Corona. It’s a two-headed misstamp of the standard Austrian Silver coin, and that he’s good friends with Alexsy.

It becomes fairly clear fairly early that most of the field troops are creeped out by the Warforged. They don’t want to be around them, and most of them don’t want to fight along side them. There are some weak arguments made by the Generals, but it’s easy to see that they’re not trusted. And there is a subtle undercurrent that it’s not because they’re constructs, but because they’re from Spain. At one point the Romanian General (not Strahd, who is not on the field) breaks the debate by saying that if Montenegro trusts the Warforged then so will Romania, and they would be honored to fight along side them. Plans begin to include the Warforged in Romanian operations, which are numerous since the Romanians are some of the most battle hardened troops on the field, and they’re anxious to deliver payback for what the Goblin Army did to their homeland.

Initial Push – First Month

When the day comes, the Prussians make good on their promise and 30 Warjacks are dropped from their flying ships onto the battlefield. The advanced force is accompanied by some form of Spellcaster, they seem to be able to guide and command the Jacks in the field. Following the Warjack advance is the rifleman. There is no doubt that the Goblins weren’t ready for this, and the Jacks and rifles do indeed strike terror into the hearts of the enemy.

The Russian War Wizards and their ground troops, armed with their Rune Staves, are an eerie counter to the bang and smoke of the Prussian advance. Flashes of brilliant light illuminate the smoke as the Russians move in, flanking off to the left of the advance. Romania, with the Montenegran Warforged, sweep off to the right. The two flanking forces are to drive deep into the Goblin lines, then swing back toward the tip. The idea is to take a large bit out of the Goblin line, reinforce, resupply, repeat. Polish and Romanian cavalry are in reserve to provide lightning support to units that get into trouble or face unexpected resistance.

Prussian flying ships make nightly bombing runs over the Goblin encampments, using the light of the Goblin fires to drop barrel bombs of their deadly Black and Red blasting powder onto the enemy.

All of the artillery on the field falls under the command of the Austrians, who prove to be good at directing fire, but the various artillery units vary wildly in terms of their ability to hit targets or maintain rates of fire. Before long the artillery is held back, forming a barrage line in the event Goblin forces break through the lines, which shift rapidly.

The Thick Of Things – Second Month

The attack, reinforce, resupply, repeat cycle tends to take about ten days in the beginning. Two or three days of fighting advance and five to eight days to get ready to do it again. As chunks are taken out of the army, and a wedge/picket is formed, smaller units are sent out to mop up the stragglers or bust enemy hard points. The Goblins have taken over castles, and fortresses, sometimes artillery or Warjacks are brought up to overcome these defensive locations so that ground troops can finish off the enemy.

It’s several weeks before the Goblins manage to take down one of the Warjacks, which is a sting to the Prussian pride and causes them to change their tactics some, becoming a bit more cautious and no longer sending single Warjacks into battle.

Prussian ammunition begins to run short late in the second month of the campaign. France is manufacturing it, as is Prussia, but it’s a labor intensive process and supplies begin to run low. Prussian night bombing ends entirely at this point. Romania discontinues use of the Needle rifle and goes back to sword and spear fighting. They pass their allocated ammunition supplies to the Warforged who have by this time distinguished themselves as good marksman (they can stand very still) and fierce combatants. The Horse Cavalry (the combined Romanian Light Rosiori and Polish Heavy Eagles) begin to spend most of their time fighting delaying actions to give Prussian Rifle and Warjack units time to fall back from heavy resistance when ammunition becomes critical.

The Russian Rune Staff proves to be a better weapon when supply lines are stretched, as they almost always are for Russia. Their War Wizards have a spell that allows them to charge the staves of anyone within a 30 foot radius, which tends to give the Russian foot soldiers a nearly endless supply of ammunition.

Polish Bear Cavalry and Austrian Infantry begin to patrol the ‘rear’ between the front line and command. Goblin forces begin to operate in smaller units, penetrating the lines and engaging in hit and run attacks. More along the lines of what is usually expected of the various Goblinoid races. The Generals take this to mean that the command structure of the army is falling apart and the units are falling back to their normal disorganized behaviors.

Sporadic reports from the Northern portion of the front begin to suggest that they are encountering undead, and not all Goblin. Romanian troops are shifted to this area once reports are confirmed, Montenegro dispatches it’s Warforged to support the Romanians. Clerics, who had largely been away from the front lines begin to get deployed to units on the Northern front to help battle the undead, which becomes known as the Dead Front. The Goblins are digging up the dead and jamming lumps of a black ore into the corpses, which reanimate them. These troops are under the command of Ogre Magi Necromancers.

Dark Times – Third Month

The Dead Front becomes an almost endless cycle of fighting. Allied troops take to burning the dead to prevent them from being dragged away and used by the Goblins later. Romanian and Montrenegran troops distinguish themselves here and hold the line against what at times becomes an avalanche of the undead. Fighting shifts predominately to night skirmishes, since the undead have an advantage here in that they can sense the living and do not need light.

Prussian Ammunition shortages continue and Rifles are only used by ‘Sharp Shooter’ units that have demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness with the weapon. Prussian effectiveness drops as their infantry troops have to reconfigure to continue to operate effectively. Warjacks are now being supported by Russian Infantry and War Wizards. Prussia is able to keep the army supply lines running through the use of their flying ships. There are no shortages of food or other goods.

Artillery begins to take on more of a role, since there are large stockpiles of black powder. Austria has, by now, managed to regiment the training and drills of the various artillery units from the other nations and artillery gains a very positive reputation among the general ground troops.

The Goblin Army continues it’s guerrilla warfare tactics. It becomes clear that this is not a sign of command breakdown, but rather a shift to take advantage of the Goblinoid races advantages.

During the middle portion of the third month reports begin coming in from the Eastern edge of the front that the Goblins have begun to field their own giant war machines. These reports are confirmed, but they aren’t machines. Monstrosities is the name they are given, and it’s determined that they are constructs as well, but made from flesh. The size of Warjacks and with giant edged weapons grafted to their flesh these monsters do tremendous damage on the Eastern edge of the front. Prussian Warjacks are shifted to try and stem the tide of the Monstrosities. Many battles of epic scale take place between the giant Monstrosities and their magical machine counterparts the Warjacks. The Eastern edge of the front begins to stall and a massive ‘no man’s land’ opens up between the Goblin and Human troops. This area sees the clashes of Warjack and Monstrosity. Victories are measured in feet or yards instead of miles. The Eastern edge of the front becomes known as the Titan Front.

Hammer & Anvil – Fourth Month

The powers that be feel that if they can crush one front swiftly the other will fold in the chaos. Because they have determined that it’s easier for the Goblins to make undead than Monstrosities, they will focus on the Dead Front. Tarbin, coordinating with the Overlord, is able to influence the plan of battle through both his contacts, and his reputation.

Prussian Warjacks and Infantry, with all the available Needle Rifle ammo, and Russian War Wizard support will hold on the Titan Front. Romanian and Montenegran Infantry will be pulled back to rear positions where they will board Prussian Air Ships. Artillery, the Horse Cavalry and Russian Infantry and War Wizards will move up to the Dead Front.

The artillery will begin a daylight bombardment of Goblin positions followed by a direct assault by Russian Infantry and War Wizards. Once the two forces are engaged, the Romanian and Montenegran Infantry, who have been flying through the night to behind the Goblin lines, will be dropped off and begin a push from the rear. Meanwhile, a strike force from the Romanian/Montenegran rear assault will search out the location of the Goblin ‘black ore’ depot and hopefully destroy it with a Russian Arcane Apparatus (given them by the overlord and vetted by Russian War Wizards). At the signal from the strike force the Horse Cavalry will pierce the line, driving hard to the strike force location to scatter the Goblin and Undead forces. The remaining Montenegran/Romanian troops will swing in that direction as well. Once all three units link up they will signal the secondary assault. Reserve Warjacks, aloft on Prussian Air Ships, will be dropped into the ‘Hollow Heart’ to bolster the ground forces. Prussian Air Ships will begin bringing in additional reserve troops, artillery, and supplies. During the last week of the fourth month, Austrian Infantry and Polish Bear Cavalry, augmented with late arriving but fresh British troops, clear a path between what had been the old Dead Front and the new ‘Hollow Heart’.

As the fourth month comes to a close, the Dead Front is smashed, with most of the Globlinoids scattering into the wilderness. The Titan Front has gone quiet, with no new Monstrosities seen in over a week. Scouts report that Goblin supply lines have broken and many troops sent out on raids are never returning to the lines. Some infighting is reported in the ranks and division along racial lines is beginning to become common.

Farewell, For Tomorrow We May Die
Some really good tea.

The morning after the first annual Warforged Painting Day (Monday), Raskin leads the company off to the forward staging location to stay current with events. Fortuitously, we hear that the supply orders from months ago for needle rifles may get delivered shortly after their arrival at the forward base.

Lynn and Milo spend the day together before she heads off to Switzerland on her Gnomish mission.

Mery spends time with Sebastian, and learns he has a business trip the next day, to Switzerland.

I ask Porter to help me arrange for a nice group dinner (moderately elegant), and get invitations couriered to our group.

Midday Tuesday, a military courier runs across me, seeking Captain Popovich. I send him on his way, and he successfully delivers a sealed letter packet. The packet contains a spell that could be used to repair (heal) the Warforged, along with a letter explaining the process.

Polarion invites Garrick to dinner, and makes him a special meal. She cautions him against dying in the upcoming fighting. Their private conversation would give the Montenegran Signal Corp advanced training in not talking about anything.

Popovich brings the letter and spell to my attention, and requests permission to distribute the spell to other wizards. The letter was sent by a Captain For’lor’nor, who is not known to us. I learn that this magic is not known to our wizards, so it makes sense to get this widely shared. Popovich also starts looking into recruiting a few junior mages to be attached to our unit (for warforged repair). Through a small series of miracles due to adroit military bureaucracy maneuvering, Popovich manages to get three mages assigned to us.

Later, Popovich continues his rumor campaign with the Prussian officers. He learns a bit more about the Prussian warforged, that some wizardry may be required to pilot them.

I receive Mery’s regrets for dinner due to some illness. I attempt to chase her down to check on her status, and end up being referred to her Mother’s house (just outside of town). I visit the next morning to check on Mery and am received by her delightful Mother. After a lovely bit of tea, I find myself back on the road to town.

Wednesday night, I host our group farewell dinner. I thank the group for their support and company to-date, and wish for a future that allows for us to continue. We end up comparing our likely roles in the upcoming war. Jared will be leading some cavalry. Milo will be leading a large contingent of Sarinrae priests. Henric, Garrick, and I will be with our warforged on the pointy end of spears. Tomas’ role is strangely vague. Mery informs me that she will be joining us.

Jared tells us that his command has informed him that the Romanians will have a battalion equipped with needle rifles, and the Romanian cavalry will be following the Prussian warjacks in an initial assault.

We have an enjoyable, though tempered, pleasant evening of good food, wine, and company. The next day (Thursday), we begin our travels to the front.

Final Preparations for the Big Battle
New Holiday: Warforged Painting Day

Sunday, May 27, 1912. Supply chains are rolling, and scouting patrols have been intensified. Raskin has passed me one of the magical scroll tubes that receives many of the daily reports, which help keep track of the evolving frontlines.

I find Alexei on the parade grounds where the Russian Mages have tended to gather. I ask him for two related favors. The net intent is to get the Prussians to lead the offensive with all of their new toys. To achieve this, I ask that he try to get the Russians to volunteer to be the lead units, and reluctantly yet graciously, yield to the Prussians if they demand to be in front. Alexei agrees to do so, and requests a meeting with the Queen for half an hour.

Garrick encounters another Elf during his round of the City. He asks Garrick about his influence over the fate of the warforged. He is concerned that the warforged, if returned to Spain, will be shut away. Garrick agrees to see what he can do. He gives Garrick an Elven medallion that looks like a gold coin, and acts more like a business card, useful for chasing him down in Zurich. Garrick recognizes the Elf’s name as from a family of artificers. Later Garrick works to get character references from Polarion. She doesn’t recognize the guy, which actually fits his story.

Mery and Kell continue their effort to decorate the Warforged. Mery started with painting toes. Kell recruits a bunch of Halfling friends to bring an immense quantity of paints. They work with the warforged on a quick mass-painting process involving quantities of thrown paint buckets. Bo ends up with large variety of painted Warforged 3-finger handprints as his coloring.

Raskin chases me down to tell me he is taking staff and most of the warforged forward. We talk about the different countries. Romania wants to be in early and out late, otherwise just involved. Poland wants their cavalry integrated with other cavalry into a larger mobile force. The Prussians are also starting to arrive. Raskin has received inquiries about Mery, warning that she must not die or be risked. The Elven General in charge of the warforged has no specific orders beyond monitoring them while they are in Montenegro.

Tomas is approached by the Queen’s spymaster about “academic matters” involving his role in the upcoming campaign.

Milo escorts Lynn around the Capital. In the evening, she has him join her in a discussion with her new Gnomish contacts (as a result of prior inquiries).

Garrick finds me to raise the topic of the warforged. He relates that the Warforged will be no more than slaves if they go back to Spain. I quickly agree to help find a way to prevent that. Garrick suggests a Royal Decree that any fighting for the allies be given citizenship or something similar.

Garrick also visits Mery while she is finishing up with the warforged. He tells her about the warforged’s status, and she rapidly agrees to see if she can get Cate to issue a decree.

Garrick intercepts Milo as Milo and Lynn get back to Milo’s place. They have a long conversation (to Lynn’s immense amusement). Milo suggests recruiting Tomas to figure out the agreement that led to the Warforged being deployed.

Mery visits Cate on the anti-slavery campaign. Cate decides to have a conversation with the Elven Ambassador to find out the post-war disposition. After that portion, Cate plays a Queen card and instructs Mery to be mindful of her commentary on the Montenegran military (especially me?!) when in public spaces.

Garrick visits Sebastian at military HQ and begins a conversation about the Warforged. Like, who suggested they be deployed, which turns out to be an Elf.

I recruit Popovich to find out about warforged burial and post-war status. He ponders whether they could just be repaired and returned to the fight. Popovich talks to the Elven General, who does not have any information. The General indicates his only task was to watch over them in getting to and while in Montenegro, and had not seen them before the assignment. After being prodded, he agrees to find out if anyone knows how to repair them. Popovich uses this as a bridge to learn more about the Warforged, but doesn’t get very far. Apparently the warforged have never been damaged before. Later, Popovich starts surveying the warforged to learn more about their memory and wishes should they become irreparable. After some conversation, they express a modest desire to be treated “in death” as the Halflings are.

When Raskin convenes the Warforged to march, the Constabulary elect to block off a bunch of roads to ease the progress through the city. This was in large effect due to the extremely large turnout of what may have been every Halfling in the Greater Podnarko region making a big event, calling it “Warforged Painting Day.” The halflings make a large celebration, with dancing, fires, and food. Turns out Raskin and Peabody (along with the rest of us) had been invited to the party as well. For all his gruffness, I think Raskin was amused.

Popovich begins hanging out near the Prussian officer corp at their favored tavern in town. He works to amp them up to demand being in the front of the battle.


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