Dragon Age: Seven Devils

Session Seven
Wherein our Heroes finally start the journey home!

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

…They were preparing to finally leave Antiva. One thing had to happen first, though: they wanted their stone key back from Princess Violetta.

In the early hours of the morning, Telan stole away and visited the princess. An agreement was reached: the princess would keep the stone and our heroes would be allowed to use the gate, exploring the realm beyond and reporting back with her men.

Unfortunately, even after the rest of our heroes were summoned, the key did not seem to work. No matter how they tried it, the door would not open to this key. All the same, they arranged for the key to be swapped out with a duplicate, so at the very least, our heroes still physically had the key.

Somewhat deflated, our heroes stuck with the original plan: to meet up with Alonse’s friend, Bathia, and gain free passage on her ship. The journey would take a little over a month if the winds were fair, and Bathia seemed confident that the winds would be going their way.

Stopping only to get some extra supplies for the trip, our heroes soon boarded and, at long last, they left Antiva’s shores.

Life on board the ship was exciting to some, hum-drum to others, and a necessary evil to others still, but the more time our heroes spent on board, the more they came to understand the crew of the Black Lass, as well as some of the other passengers Bathia had taken aboard (much to Bennet’s chagrin)…

To Be Continued!

GM’s Extras:
Special Note: Since we ghosted over a lot of the time spent on the Black Lass, I put up some information about each crew member when I posted their pictures. Players decided how much time their character has spent with which NPC, and how much they’ve learned of the details there. The short version: this is a good crew, and a good ship, and all PCs are treated well. The crew is neither formal nor rude, but are a very comfortable lot; they’ll give as good as they get.

Quick-Ref page for the crew is here!

Session Music:

1. Toad the Wet Sprocket – Walk on the Ocean Our heroes are introduced to the crew of the Black Lass.

2. E.S. Posthumus – Nara The Black Lass sets gently off on her voyage, and the shimmering shore of Antiva is left behind, a shimmering sea ahead.

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Session Six
Wherein alliances are forged, and Might Scares the Pants Offa People

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

…They had decided that the injustices served to House Da’Finescu were inexcusable, and not only would they save the life of Alonse, but they would firmly – and violently, if need be – see to it that those wrongs were righted. After playing out their mission and sending a missive to the chantry with Prince Enzo’s letter, they left the Jester and Cup. One last, quick stop was made, during which Alonse sent word to one of his contacts to secure a ship for our heroes in Seleny – in case a quick getaway was needed.

With those errands done, our heroes (plus one) high-tailed it back to Seleny. Joya Da’Finescu was delighted to see her brother returned safely, and agreed to hide him in the brothel until the heroes finished their tasks.

A visit to Princess Violetta Arzan came next; she was all too happy to pledge her assistance to overthrow Prince Enzo. Some special trade agreements between her house and Alonse’s sweetened the deal for her, as did additional knowledge about the Eluvian. She revealed that she had come into possession of the key that Ralath had “dropped”, and despite the group’s insistence that she really didn’t want to explore it, she seemed determined. The Eluvian, though, did not open for her; apparently, the key was a one-way item.

With proof of Enzo’s scheming in hand, our heroes then paid a visit to House d’Matteucci. Briefly meeting Enzo’s sister, Vatalia, things quickly degraded. She screamed for the guards, and they burst in!

Calder sheathed his sword and proceeded to talk three of the seven guards down. To the others, he made quite an example: in a tremendous show of raw strength and power, he slammed his fist into the face of the first guard to engage him…and in one blow, knocked him out.

They were left alone immediately.

Finding their way to Enzo’s room, they found the mewling Prince and forced a confession out of him. Through careful use of Deni’s power (and an arrow in the gut courtesy of Ralath), they successfully questioned the Prince and discovered for a fact what they’d known all along: that Prince Enzo was a douche.

In one last flash of douchebaggery, Enzo tried to throw a poisoned knife at Bennet, but Calder interfered. Summoning his protective circle around the artist, the dagger pinged harmlessly away.

Enzo was delivered into the “tender” care of Princess Violetta, and not long after, Vatalia d’Matteucci joined him. It seemed that our heroes had, indeed, saved the day!

To Be Continued!

GM’s Extras:

Notable Character Updates:
Merchant Prince Enzo d’Matteucci
Merchant Princess Violetta Arzan
Alonse Da’Finescu
Joya Da’Finescu

Session Music:

1. Jocelyn Pook: Her Gentle Spirit In the lovely home of Princess Violetta Arzan, our heroes make deals. She is all too happy to help the gentler House Da’finescu retake its familial home and get rid of House D’Matteucci. And she gets some trade deals in the process.

2. Assassin’s Creed 2 OST: Venice Fight. Our heroes kick down the doors and intimidate the guards of House D’Matteucci. Prince Enzo tries to poison one of our heroes, and only ends up embarrassing himself.

3. Quest for Glory V OST: The Great Hall of Kings. Our heroes have won the day! Alonse Da’Finescu has been returned to his home, the family saved from a potentially terrible fate, and House d’Matteucci is on its way to a slice of humble pie and a taste of its own medicine.

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Session Five
Wherein alliances are broken and potentially forged.

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

…they had gone to bed, safe and sound in the house of Prince Enzo d’Matteucci.

Meanwhile…:

Telan, having been pulled into the Fade, wandered towards the Black City, as he always did when the Fade claimed him. True to form, it stayed forever distant. As he traveled, he felt a strange tug at his senses, a dream within a dream. Fighting it only at first, he eventually gave in and let it take over him. And he dreamed…

…of Inda. Telan sat in a fine garden on a summer’s day, on a picnic with the elfin woman. A luck charm — the one he’d found on her body, now recognized as an item made by him, and certainly for her — was between them. Inda closed her hand over it, giving Telan a warm smile.

The world shifted to another scene, then, but Inda’s face remained turned towards him. They were in some sort of sparse, brick hall, standing some distance from each other, both with wands in their hands. Some sort of magical practice. Inda smiled at him as they both raised their wands…and the world shifted again.

Now they were back to back, surrounded by people in dark leather armor. There were other allies there, too, fighting against these mysterious men. Telan looked over his shoulder to check on Inda, as she turned to look at him. Their eyes locked yet again…

Telan awoke, then, returned to the waking world, on the floor of the men’s guest quarters. Telan explained his odd disappearance, noting that while the disappearance was common for him, it was odd for anyone to have noticed the absence; it was like, for a time, he was erased from existing in that moment. It was also odd for him to “follow” the others — he was used to reappearing in the same place he’d left.

With our heroes reunited, they gathered for breakfast, an extravagent meal that seemed more a boast of the Prince’s wealth than anything. Notably, Calder specifically avoided the excess, choosing instead a simple porridge.

During breakfast, a message arrived for Ralath, along with clothing that he’d “left” at the White Pearl and a secret message from Joya Da’finescu. Nothing had been discovered, she wrote in code; but she would keep him informed.

Final provisions were seen to, and then our heroes set out for Antiva City.

They arrived in the glorious city of Antiva on Firstfall 7 – the final night of the festival of Satinalia, and what a party was being had!

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Bennet was recognized as he shopped, and not one but two angry woman came up and slapped the poor fellow! Repeatedly! (And deservedly!)

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He seemed to get this a lot.

Our heroes made their way to the Jester and Cup, the inn where the courier was supposed to be staying. After scoping out the inn (and after Telan drew a little too much attention his way), Calder took the mage to the Ruby Angel, a local brothel, to give the Circle Mage the kind of education that one only ever got in utmost secret back in the Circle Towers.

Meanwhile, having located Alonse, their target, Bennet drew the courier’s attention while Ralath sneaked up to the stranger’s room to have a look around. Finding nothing important, he returned to the common room.

Telan and Calder eventually returned to the Jester and Cup; Bennet, meanwhile, continued to befriend the courier and discovered that the young man was none other than the once-heir to the disgraced Merchant House, and brother to Joya.

Our heroes gathered in Alonse’s room under the guise of private gambling, and there shared what they knew. It was revealed that the “travel tokens” our heroes were given were little more than trinkets in a child’s game of Fegs. (Y’all were basically given POGS slammers.) Our heroes determined that both they and Alonse were being set up; the young man suggested they find their way to a safehouse.

Choices needed to be made: whether to go to the safehouse or not. Whether to let this meeting play out or not. Whether to whisk Alonse safely away from Antiva or keep him hidden in plain sight. Whether to help him reclaim his lost heritage or not – and how to do that, if they chose to do so…

To Be Continued!

GM’s Extras:

Notable Character Updates:
Inda

Session Music:

1. The Incredible Hulk OST: Rochinha Favela.
Our heroes make their way to Antiva City, there to find Alonse and all the accompanying troubles.

2. Witch hunter Robin OST: Plot
Our heroes have found Alonse…and now have to decide what to do about him.

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Session Four
Never Look a Gift Merchant Prince in the...???

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

…they had followed Adrianna into the grand estate of Merchant Prince Enzo d’Matteucci, a young, wealthy man filled to the brim with self-serving interest and douchebaggery. Telan had started to accompany them, but felt himself being pulled into the Fade again. With a quick promise that he’d find the others, he surrendered to the pull and was brought into the Fade.

Meanwhile, the rest of our heroes spoke with Adrianna and found that the year was 9:34 – everyone’s last memories were from 9:32! They had lost 2 years somehow!

With little time to ponder that, Prince Enzo swept in. After some quick questions, he had a business proposition for them, since our heroes were obviously in need of some help — and as it happened, so was the Prince:

Lately, Prince Enzo’s land-bound trade caravans had been waylaid by brigands. They were too-well informed about when his shipments left the city of Seleny, and they seemed to prey upon him specifically; Enzo suspected an informant in his own house. All evidence pointed to his courier servant Alonse.

The servant was about to run a missive to Antiva City in the morning. Prince Enzo asked our heroes to follow Alonse to Antiva City and send word back to him as to whether or not this man was the rat, and who he was working for. In return, our heroes would be properly clothed, given some spending money, and given tokens promising them passage on board Prince Enzo’s cargo barge, the Golden Maiden.

As the Merchant Prince spoke, Deni had the strangest sensation as something awakened within her. She had no proof, she had no reason to doubt the Prince, and yet she was absolutely certain that he was lying about several topics. Given the opportunity to discuss with the others before giving an answer to the Merchant Prince, Deni shared her feelings, and found the others not only receptive to her warnings, but in agreement.

Suspecting treachery, our heroes had Prince Enzo draw up a contract. He was more than pleased to do so. As promised, our heroes were clothed, given supplies and spending money, and given travel tokens. With time to spare before the morning, they decided to explore the festival – all except Bennet, who decided to explore Adrianna.

The group participated in the festival’s yearly game of catching “Lady Estrella’s” scarf — a task that required a great deal of teamwork — and in doing so, won the purse and briefly met the kind and generous Merchant Princess Violetta Arzan. She did not linger for pleasantries, however; the festival was large and, being so popular, she wanted to greet as many as possible.

Deni continued to wander the festival, amazed by all of the new colors, sounds, and sights. Protective, Calder joined her to make sure that no one took advantage of the innocent elf. Well…that and to play some more games!

Meanwhile, Ralath had found a thread of information on which to tug. The group had learned that Prince Enzo had come into his power rather quickly, and at the expense of another noble family: House Da’Finescu. House Da’Finescu had been dishonored and their lands and titles granted to House d’Matteucci, at which point Prince Enzo fired the servants and replaced them with his own. Two scions of house Da’Finescu remained under the employ of Prince Enzo; he had been “kind” enough to allow them to work for him as indentured servants instead of casting them to the streets.

House Da’Finescu was rumored to be much kinder than House d’Matteucci; they were more liberal in the treatment of elves and generally well-liked by the people before their public dishonor. Ralath sought out the downtrodden elves hiding in the darker areas of Seleny, some of whom had worked for House Da’Finescu, and started to learn more:

The elves spoke of a brother and sister, the latter of whom was forced to run the White Pearl, a brothel owned by Prince Enzo. Ralath paid a visit to the Pearl and had a secret meeting with Joya Da’Finescu. He left with a new ally, and a promise that if she could find any information to clear her family’s name and dishonor Prince Enzo, she would send a messenger to him.

That evening, everyone slept, and oh, the dreams they dreamed…

Calder was having a meal in a mess hall, listening to a story from Forgotten Ally 3, who he finally recognized as his comrade Stannbury. As he laughed with Stannbury, a friendly, female hand landed comfortably on Calder’s shoulder. Before he could look up to see who it was, the door to the mess hall burst open. Several of his allies — the rest of our heroes included – hurried in. The table was cleared and a map of Ferelden was laid down. Forgotten Ally 1 — now remembered as Brode (rest in peace!) — marked a spot on the map, and everyone around the table grew serious as the weight of a new mission settled in…

Ralath was in the private aravel of Keeper Ara’las. They were in the thick of an argument; tension and displeasure hung in the air, palpable. It continued, a long, drawn-out disagreement that ended in Keeper Ara’las’s eyes hardening, the elder stabbing a finger towards the door of his aravel as he spoke. Time shifted, and Ralath found himself walking away from his tribe; they watched as he went. Unhappy, Ralath felt a sense of abandonment as he left…

Deni sneaked into an unknown settlement, wrapped in a hooded cloak, disguised and careful. She sneaked through the streets, heading towards a bridge where she was to meet…someone. It might have been for a romantic tryst, but it felt a little too dangerous to be so benign. As she approached the bridge, she found the man waiting for her – it was Ser Gale, the Templar she had helped. He looked harrowed, and his words, however blurred by her memory, carried weight with them. The only words she was able to remember clearly were “I need your help.” He was about to explain when a noise distracted him; when he turned back, his eyes were wide. “They’re here,” he hissed. Grabbing her by the arm, he gave her a shove. “Run.” She obeyed…

Bennet’s eyes were covered by a cloth blindfold, and he felt himself being held down forcibly. Shifting his head to see out of the bottom of the blindfold, he couldn’t make out his captors, even as they rolled his sleeve up. He caught a glimpse of a greyish-black powder being touched to his arm; the second it connected, Bennet felt his pulse quicken, his heart pound in his chest, and a strange, sudden sense of exhilaration overtook him. He noticed the strange powder slowly start to change colors, and his captors’ hold on Bennet intensified in answer…

To Be Continued!

GM’s Extras:

Notable Character Updates:
Adrianna
Deni
Forgotten Ally 1
Forgotten Ally 3
Ser Gale

GM’s Note: Two new Forgotten Allies have been added to the list, having appeared in Calder’s dream.

Session Music:

1. Noir OST: Romance. Prince Enzo lives a life of finery — but at whose expense? This track is very hard to find online; this live performance has been the best I can find thus far.

2. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children OST: For the Reunion. Deni listens to the Merchant Prince, and as he continues, she just knows he’s lying.

3. The Sky Beneath You – Music for Film – Acoustic Labs. As our heroes dream, wisps of their missing two years come back to tease at the edges of their mind.

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Session Three
In Which Our Heroes Make a Splash!

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

…they had battled the tremendous spider and its children, and figured out the key to the mysterious stone gateway that seemed to be the only way out of the caverns.

Before activating the strange portal, they laid the bodies of their comrades to rest as best they could. It seemed strange to burn them, as was typical tradition; instead, their comrades were set carefully upon the white stone of the elven chambers, and prayers said above their bodies.

Stepping through the portal, they found themselves in a misty, grey ruin of what had been a sprawling courtyard. Strange gateways of stone and wood stood here, with no walls attached. Most of the gateways had been cracked, blackened, or otherwise non-functioning, but they found one archway that seemed promising.

CrossroadsSmall.png

Stepping through the active archway, our heroes found themselves underwater! As they sputtered to the surface, they realized that they had materialized in a man-made canal, set right in the middle of an Antivan city:

SelenySmall.jpg

The city was a’bustle, bright and colorful and festive; everyone was wearing costumes and masks, vendors sang their wares, and competitions challenged passers-by. Bennet, having traveled here throughout his artistic fame, recognized it as the grand festival of Satinalia.

Ralath did not hesitate; he began to pick the pockets of the citizens he passed. Calder, meanwhile, arm-wrestled a local competitor and won some spending money. With their winnings, they bought robes for Telan, as he had given Deni the only robes they’d found in the tomb. Turning their attention to masks, then, to fit in as well as they could, they were interrupted by a woman in a gold mask.

Her name was Adrianna, and she represented someone who could assist them – at the very least, with masks; clearly our heroes were not from around here. Having little else by way of a lead, our heroes followed Adrianna; as they traveled, Ralath surreptitiously “dropped” the gate key-stone into the canal, in case their host was unfriendly.

Adrianna, chatting Deni up the entire way, led our heroes to a grand, shining estate…

To Be Continued!

Session Music:

1. Assassin’s Creed 2 Soundrack: Carnevale Music 1: It’s party time in Antiva! But then again, when is it not?

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Session Two
Things that make you go "HUH??"

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

Awakened_Tomb_1.png

…They had dealt with Inda’s murderer and found themselves in what they could only guess was a tomb. The further they explored it, the more bodies they found – caught in traps, or seemingly killed by each other. The only remaining living creature was Shadow, Calder’s mabari war hound, and he remained doggedly silent.

(I’m sorry for that.)

(Kind of.)

About half of the bodies our heroes discovered were strangely familiar to them – allies of Inda, they supposed – and thus potentially (ex) allies of themselves. From the way the bodies were scattered, one could guess that these allies had been trying to keep the other party – whoever those strangers in dark leather were – away from where our heroes had been sleeping.

As reverently as possible, our heroes re-equipped themselves with the remnants of the fallen’s supplies. Even Inda’s body was searched, although the most interesting thing was a small charm — a luck charm that Telan felt important, and thus held onto.

As they neared the entrance of the cave, they discovered bad news: there were more of the mysterious, dark-armored men just outside. Not flinching from what most would deem impossible odds, our heroes pressed forward and engaged the enemy.

The battle was long and bloody, but not without its own mysteries: Ralath discovered he had an almost-supernatural ability to focus in on his prey. Bennet discovered he had the power to create, materializing the exact item he needed to help the group.

The battle was broken by Bennet, who triggered the remains of a cave-in trap to shut away the remainder of the armored men. As they retreated, rocks crashed noisily from the ceiling: one fell straight onto Telan – and straight through him as he instinctually triggered a power he hadn’t known he could control. Similarly, a boulder came crashing towards Deni; Calder reflexively reacted, summoning a protective shield of light to keep the elf safe.

Needing to find another way out, our heroes discovered a secret passage into an entirely different part of the cavern. This section of the cavern was carefully sculpted in a strange, white stone. This was, they discovered, a secret, sacred tomb once belonging to ancient elves practicing Uthenera, the endless sleep. Nothing remained of the ancients now.

As they continued the exploration of the tombs, they learned a strange secret: hidden away, an archway sculpted into the wall, with elvish writing. Deni had found an artifact that seemed to want to interact with it – a smooth stone with the elfin rune for “Travel” on it.

Cave.jpg

In elven:

Melava inan enansal
ir su araval tu elvaral
u na emma abelas
in elgar sa vir mana
in tu setheneran din emma na

Lath sulevin
lath araval ena
arla ven tu vir mahvir
melana ‘nehn
enasal ir sa lethalin

Translated:

Time was once a blessing
but long journeys are made longer
when alone within.
Take spirit from the long ago
but do not dwell in lands no longer yours.

Be certain in need,
and the path will emerge
to a home tomorrow
and time will again
be the joy it once was.

They decided to explore the remainder of the caverns before trying to solve this puzzle, and came upon a web-filled room littered with the bodies of spiders – and the half-webbed body of yet another strangely-familiar face. As they prepared to tend to her body, they spotted one giant spider, hidden on the ceiling.

They prepared for battle…

To Be Continued!

GM’s Extras:

At the end of each adventure summary, I will link to the characters whose information has been updated due to the actions of our heroes. For example:

Notable Character Updates:

Ralath
Bennet
Telan
Calder

Session Music:

1. World of Warcraft Soundtrack: Felwood.: Our heroes explore the twists and turns of the cave in which they’ve awakened. Along the way, they meet fallen foes, all garbed in dark leathers, as well as fallen…friends?

2. Wolf’s Rain OST: Tsume no suna: Ralath discovers he has a supernatural ability within himself, as his enemy snaps into sharp focus and his arrow flies true! This music is very hard to find on Youtube; as such, no link here. Good luck!

3. Fez Soundtrack: Adventure: Bennet finds himself in dire need of a small, wooden bolt, and most wondrously, it grows into being, called to his hand from will alone!

4. Tron Legacy Soundtrack: The Son of Flynn: Bennet’s cave-in comes crashing down, crushing the enemy, but nearly crushing Telan! Reflexively, something triggers in the Circle Mage, and as he stumbles forward, a rock drops onto — and through him!

5. ‘The Amazing Spider Man 2’ OST: I’m Spider Man: Telan is not the only one in danger! Deni, too far into the cave-in, is about to be crushed! Calder’s need to protect his friends manifests in a wondrous shield of Light, and the gentle elf-girl is unharmed.

6. Dragon Age: Origins OST: Leliana’s Song (Cover by Malukah). The strange, white chamber that likely once housed ancient elves practicing Uthenera, the endless dream of the elders.

7. Blade Runner OST: Rachel’s Song The strange, hidden archway sculpted into the stone. It has its own theme! It must be important!

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Session One
"What if everything around you wasn't quite as it seems?"

When Last We Left Our Intrepid Adventurers…

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…They had found themselves drawn, one by one, into a mysterious glade. Some recognized each other from shared pasts; yet others were total strangers.

None of them, though, recognized the sad-eyed elf that appeared before them. She, however, knew all of them, and spoke to them as though they knew her. More than that; she spoke as though they were all part of…something.

Things had gone sour, she explained. Marion was killed, and the rest of their group was scattered. She did not know who was capturing them, but it had taken her a long time to find and gather even those few assembled. There were more missing, she knew, but could not find them yet.

When our heroes made it clear that they did not know the elf, she re-introduced herself as Inda. She continued to explain: the group had been trapped in the Fade, and whoever had done it had placed extra layers of enchantments over them as they slept. Inda would have to perform a series of rituals in order to break the enchantment properly before freeing anyone, or risk triggering consequences the likes of which she did not understand.

She then turned to Telan and addressed him quietly, directly. “I am so, so sorry,” she said. “I know you would never condone this, but it is the only w—“

Her voice stopped mid-sentence and she dropped to the ground, dead. With her death, the glade began to dissipate, and our heroes found themselves violently yanked from this place to…nobody knew where.

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They sat up, dressed only in their smallclothes and covered in a fine layer of dust, tucked neatly into the alcoves of an ancient tomb. As they rose, strange, gold coins fell from their eyes and crumbled into nothingness, although their weight felt as though they were still present.

A man in dark leather armor was dragging poor Inda’s body away unceremoniously; as he heard our heroes shifting, he turned, panicked. “You’re not supposed to be awake yet!”

No one hesitated. Rocks were grabbed. Fists were aimed. Spells were fired off. Five against one, even unarmed, was not a fair fight, and within a few scant seconds, the man was downed.

Our heroes were in the middle of a place they did not know, with people who they didn’t know – or did they? There were two bodies they needed to decide how to handle, and many, many questions to be answered…

To Be Continued!

Session Music:

1. Nine Inch Nails- Right Where It Belongs v2 Our heroes are all gathered and it is revealed that they are trapped in the Fade, victims of a very powerful series of enchantments. I do encourage you to read the lyrics on this song!

2. Nine Inch Nails- Right Where It Belongs Remix. Rubbing dust from their eyes, our heroes watch as the body of Inda — potentially their only ally in this world — is dragged away by a man in dark leathers.

GM’s Extras:

I was very close to using another piece of music for Inda’s introduction to the group, especially considering who and what she turned out to be. Amy Lee’s voice plus some key concepts here (“you forgot me long ago,” “even though I’m the sacrifice you won’t try for me, not now,” etc.) made for her perfect, tragic intro. In the end, I’m happy with the decision, opting instead for the ambience and the quiet questions of Nine Inch Nails. I feel NIN was way more situational and less focused on one character. :)
Unplayed Song: Evanescence: Missing

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Pre-Game 5: Telan
"Do you think you did the right thing?"

Telan’s life in the Circle at Jainen had settled considerably in the past several months. Approximately one year prior, his friend Callista had orchestrated an escape; she and four other mages, including Telan’s friend, Jestin, made an explosive departure from the tower. Over the following months, between reinstating order, fixing damages, and dealing with the return of two of the escaped mages, things had been stressful and hectic. At last, though, things had seemed to settle.

Well, settle as much as they ever did. In the middle of a lecture he was attending, Telan felt himself pulled out of his reality and transported to the Fade…again. This did not come as a surprise to him; it was a strange happenstance that occurred every now and again. He resigned himself to wandering the raw Fade as he waited for this episode to end, knowing full well he’d reappear, and that no one would remember he’d been there previously.

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This time, though, he was not alone. He found a little girl peeking out at him from behind a strangely-shaped tree. He recognized her as Shandy, one of the newest apprentices to the Circle. Even though she had recently arrived, she was making quite a splash: the little girl was the most powerful person the Circle had seen in ages. She had tons of raw talent, and was known to be a Dreamer; that all-but-disappeared kind of mage whose true talent lay in walking dreams. This made her potentially dangerous – both to others and to herself. Dreamers were known to be walking targets for demon possession.

She didn’t understand that, though; she was just a child. A very sweet child, at that. Shandy instantly befriended Telan, and the two spent time walking and chatting in the Fade until Telan’s “episode” ended and he felt himself pulled back to the lecture hall.

He went to go confer with his friend, mentor, and confidant, Senior Enchanter Raza. He found her distracted, and in the privacy of her office, she confided in him.

Normally, any decision as to a mage’s Harrowing or Tranquility would be made solely by the First Enchanter and the Knight-Commander of the Circle. In this case, though, the subject was troubling enough that the First Enchanter asked for the council of his Senior Enchanters. And even they were so split that Raza’s vote would be the determining factor:

Shandy, no matter how sweet, how endearing, was a danger to herself and to all around her, however unwittingly. Her power had to be addressed, either by putting her through her Harrowing immediately, thus proving her ability – or non-ability – to ward off possession, or by turning the child Tranquil, thus cutting off her ability to be possessed.

But what kind of choice was this? To either send a child to wrestle with a demon, potentially killing her, or to cut off all ties to feeling and dreaming, turning a child into an emotionless doll? Raza did not know what to choose.

Telan advised that it was certainly better to choose the path of hope, despite the risk. Raza, still torn up at the idea, agreed. She would cast her vote for the child to go through her Harrowing.

The next morning, Telan was awakened by a shake of his bed; when he investigated, he saw Shandy clumsily trying to hide under his bed, panicked. She begged him to not tell anyone she was there.

With perfect timing, the Knight-Captain came knocking. Shandy was not where she was supposed to be, and it was time for the Templars to collect her. Had Telan seen her?

Telan took a moment, and then asked the Knight-Captain a quiet question about betrayal. The Knight-Captain reminded him that the Great Redeemer was forgiven his betrayal.

In the end, Telan took his own advice and chose to believe there was hope. He told the Templars where Shandy was hiding.

Shandy was removed from her hiding place, scrabbling and sobbing, and dragged off to an uncertain fate. Telan met briefly with Raza; they commiserated for a while before Raza, wanting to be alone, excused herself.

Left to his own devices, Telan wandered the halls of the Circle, mulling over his choice.

An unknown and yet strangely familiar voice whispered in his mind,_ “Do you think you did the right thing?”_ Almost an echo of a conversation he knew he had never had.

The voice seemed to get stronger the further down the corridor he traveled, until he found himself at a picture of a lovely glade. The strange thing, though, was that he knew this hall, and he knew that picture – and it was not supposed to be a picture of a glade.

6_-_THE_CLEARING.jpg

He reached out to touch it, and it reached back…

Session Music:

1. Journey OST: Nascence. Daily life in the structured silence and study of Jainen’s Circle.

2. Dragon Age: Origins: The Fade. Telan is pulled into the Fade. Again.

3. The Banner Saga Soundtrack: Huddled in the Shadows. Shandy’s theme.

4. Journey OST: The Call. Telan wanders the halls of the Circle, trying to follow the strange whispers that draw him on.

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Pre-Game 4: Ralath
Humans and Hallas and Hard Choices, Oh My...

Ralath sped through the woods with his hunt-brethren, Sommett and Daragen, trying to find tracks before the rains swept them away. Their target was not prey this night, but two of the clan’s children: Mariel and Turiel. The young First and her brother had stolen away in the night, leaving little trace of their departure.

During their hunt, they encountered a belligerent, drunken human making his way straight towards the elves’ encampment. Stopping him before he could cause trouble, he loudly announced himself and his intent: his “knife-eared” manservant had stolen from him and run off, and he would see justice done.

The best way to deal with this well-to-do human, Ralath figured, was to keep him as far away from the tribe as possible. He convinced the man that his hunting party was after the servant too; this resulted in the human joining the elves on their quest. Thus began the loudest hunt ever.

As they tracked the children, Ralath’s attention was caught by a strange sight: a glowing Halla. None of the others seemed to see it; they continued on their path, determined. The graceful creature stared at Ralath, and then pointedly turned and walked into the woods.

Glowing_Halla.jpg

Ralath followed it and found himself at the well-hidden mouth of a cave; it was a few moments until the rest of the hunting party found him. Together, they descended into the depths and followed the children’s tracks. When the way seemed lost, Ralath’s halla appeared again and led Ralath down winding paths to a rather unique place:

Sunlit_Shrine.jpg

The cavern nearly buzzed with magic, such that even untrained, the hunting party could feel it. Upon a large, circular stone dais, crowned by three large, stone pillars, slept Mariel and Turiel.

Ralath carefully retrieved the children and discovered that they had come here following a dream Mariel had. She didn’t know why she dreamt of this place; she only knew that it was important, and she’d known exactly where to find it. This was not the first time Mariel had been receiving visions and dreams of truth; it bore investigation.

Exploring the cavern, Ralath discovered that the central stone had writing on its edges; some of it was in Dalish, and the rest was undecipherable.

The hunting party made its way back towards camp, until such time as the lordling, complaining loudly, seemed about to lay a hand on one of the children. Ralath reacted immediately, as did Sommett. With two arrows pointing right at his face, Ralath gave a carefully-worded-but-still-unceremonious dismissal to the human. The man fled, and the elves hurried to their own camp.

The night had stirred up enough trouble that the hunting party felt it best to move the tribe, and when they returned, they advised the Keeper as much. He agreed and sent out the order for everyone to gather their belongings.

As the tribe prepared, Ralath took the Keeper on a side-journey to see the cavern that Mariel had found. Keeper Aralas, too, acknowledged the pure magic in the area but was unable to decipher the mystery writing on the stone.

When they rejoined the clan, they found everyone halted in their journey. They had found a wounded elf and were tending to him.

Mariel, emerging from her family’s Aravel, saw this stranger and started to scream, panicked. He was the one from her recent nightmares, she insisted:

Mariel_s_Nightmare.jpg

The nightmares were about a wounded elf surrounded by werewolves. She refused to get close to the stranger and wanted him as far away as possible, positive he was going to bring horror and doom to their clan.

Rather than leave the elf to die – or kill him – Ralath suggested the clan stow the elf in an aravel on his own, guarded at all times, until he healed…or at least was awake enough to answer questions. Thus it was that an aravel was cleared and the stranger traveled with Ralath’s clan.

Wary of any danger, the elves began defensive preparations, but saw no danger come their way. Ralath did spot “his” halla, however; from walking a protective perimeter around his clan, it stopped, stared at him, and then purposely walked away one last time.

Ralath followed his strange spirit guide through the woods and away from his clan, until he found himself approaching a very lovely – if odd – clearing.

Session Music:

1. Akira OST: Kaneda. With a storm overhead, the Dalish speed through the trees, on the hunt for their missing children. Note: this link is the best I could find, though is not the precise version I used.

2. Shadow of the Colossus: Sanctuary. The Glowing Halla’s theme.

3. Shadow of the Colossus: To the Ancient Land. Mariel and Turiel have found a very old, very strange place to rest…

4. Dragon Age: Origins: Dalish Elves Encampment. The Dalish are a good people, respectful of nature and protectors of their traditions and half-lost heritage.

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Pre-Game 3: Deni
No rest for the wicked...

Having been constantly on the move to avoid the Templars tracking them, it came as no surprise to Deni that they had found her yet again. Fleeing hand-in-hand with her dearest friend Kaira, they ran further into the woods to try to shake their pursuer.

The land itself seemed to be on their side; just as it seemed inevitable that Ser Gale would catch up with them, the slight incline in the land became steep and treacherous. The girls were able to dive out of the way and remain on high ground; Ser Gale was not so lucky. The loud CRACK when he landed was followed by silence.

Upon investigation, Ser Gale was found to be alive, but seriously wounded. Kaira took the opportunity to frisk the Templar (and deliver a swift kick to him); she discovered the phylactery he was using to track one of them and destroyed it.

Deni and Kaira discussed their options: they could kill Ser Gale and be done with him. They could leave him alone in the woods — which was as good as killing him. They could bring him with them to the village they had been planning to visit, and leave him there with a medic.

In the end, Deni chose to save Ser Gale and take him with them to the village. They bound his wounds as best they could and carried him as far as the night would take them.

They set up camp eventually, and reviewed their plans while their newly-freed secret, Fal’on, the baby gryphon, was given some time to roam around, free from the confines of the satchel he was hidden in. Kaira and Deni agreed to stick with their newest plan: to go to the Korcari Wilds. There, they would make the woods their home, and use the superstitions regarding the Chasind and the Witches of the Wild to their advantage. Hopefully, none would ever bother them again. They celebrated briefly — with the destruction of the phylactery, the reality of them being free became more possible than ever!

They successfully handed Ser Gale over to the medic in the local village. While there, Kaira restocked their supplies while Deni found herself being wooed by a local vendor. As a thank-you for seeing to the wounds of the “stranger” they brought with them, the vendor gifted Deni with a lovely pendant.

Finally free from Templar pursuit, the girls continued their travels southward, into the Korcari Wilds. Their journey was unhindered, and they set up camp for the night.

Strangely, when night fell, Deni’s necklace started to glow as she paced around on watch; it would glow stronger when she faced one direction, and fainter when she turned to another. Intrigued by this, she showed it to Kaira…but Kaira could not see it glowing at all!

Deni studied the necklace over the next few nights, until one night, as she studied it, Fal’on gave a screech and bolted into the woods.

The girls chased the baby gryphon through the dark. As it got more and more difficult to see, both Deni and Kaira thought they saw Fal’on bolt in a different direction; they split up so as not to lose the gryphon, potentially the last of its kind.

As Deni ran, it became so difficult to see that she was running blind; she focused on her hearing and continued to run.

When next she opened her eyes, she found herself in a new place…

Session Music:

1. E.S. Posthumus: Tikal. RUN!” The very start of Deni’s solo game began with a shout! Ser Gale is the only one able to keep up with the ladies, and that does not end well for him…

2.Trine 2 OST: Icewarden Keep. The necklace gifted to Deni starts to glow and pull.

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