For some time master Galen and his Bladesman, Hedron, have been away from Mivon, investigating the reappearance of the blood mage Janus amongst other things, so it came as a surprise for several of the apprentices and Bladesmen of Mivon to receive a summons to Galen’s quarters for an important assignment.
With utmost punctuality Cyllw, Brandon, Tarsus, Took, Melidron and Hagrad attended, but it was not Master Galen that had called them but King Osprak himself. He was concerned but happy with the group’s progress and more importantly concerned with Janus’ appearance in the city of Novgorod in Ustalav of all places. After some discussion he commanded the party to go investigate Janus’ actions in Ustalav and if possible to put an end to his plans, he granted the party all the knowledge and equipment they would need to make the journey as well as single use communication devices to be used should the situation take a turn for the worst. Later that evening the party were taught the required circle teleportation rituals by King Osprak and brought to Ustalav, but as emissaries of Mivon it was beneath them to simply walk to the main city instead with another gesture from Osprak they were enchanted with the powers of flight and sent to arrive in style.
Once landed the party was warmly greeted by the guards of Novgorod and given free reign of the city.Their first stop was to meet with Petrus the Elder, the ambassador of Mivon who had been informed of their arrival. While Hagrad delivered important messages to the local temple of Isis, Petrus was happy to meet the party and like Osprak was concerned about Janus’ appearance, shortly he revealed that Janus had made no secret of his presence in Ustalav and had rented out a tavern to himself as well as had begun recruiting mercenaries, it was also revealed that he had been having regular meetings with Teska, the self styled princess and daughter of Zoyenka the ruler of Novgorod. From here the party split to cover more ground and leads, Brandon and Cyllw would go talk to Teska and win her favour and trust and be joined by Hagrad as soon as his other business was settled, Tarsus, Melidron and Thok who would be unknowns to Janus and so would go investigate the mercenaries and join them undercover to find out Janus’s plans.
The three that went to Janus found joining to be remarkably easy, as long as one could boast enough, naturally Melidron boasted of his legendary dragon slaying might and Tarsus of his great skill. The mercenary leader, Sigismund, eagerly recruited Melidron and Tarsus with surprisingly good rates of pay, however Thok was to be met and recruited by Janus himself, with a quick distraction the other two managed to quickly join their comrade, Janus was exceedingly happy to have dissidents from Mivon join his cause, and also enjoyed their apparent hatred for Galen.
Elsewhere Brandon and Cyllw came up with a idea to help Teska with her magical studies. Instead of trying to get her to learn the secrets of magic Brandon could instead create magical artefacts (with enough Ustalav funding) to help her simulate the powers instead since she lacked any real talent. Upon approaching Teska, she seemed rather fond of the idea and granted Brandon access to anything he might need for the items, meanwhile Cyllw was able to get a few vague details about Teska’s dealings with Janus. According to Teska she had been teaching the mage Ustalav ice magic, something that was instantly disbelieved by both Brandon and Cyllw who had been informed by Petrus the Elder on just how untalented Teska was in the ways of magic, leading to many suspicions. Later the Dwarven cleric attempted to impress Teska with the wonders of the goddess-Queen Isis but Teska’s continental sized ego quickly dismissed him. During his visit to the temple of Isis the cleric had also discovered that Janus had been purchasing massive stocks of healing items.
Over the next couple of days the party continued to gather more information, the cleric moved between the mercenaries’ tavern and the palace speaking words of wonder about Isis while Brandon busily worked on his prototypes for Teska. Cyllw ‘enjoyed’ much time with Teska while Tarsus, Melidron and Took gathered more information about Janus. Things were definitely amiss as ideas of what Janus was planning began to take form.
Brandon’s experiments turned out a definite success, in his time he created three fiery orbs of power that impressed most of Teska’s admirers, though only two of them were demonstrated. The third Brandon kept to himself for further tinkering, seeing the potential irresponsibility, arrogance and naivety of Teska, Brandon attached failsafe command words to this orb and made plans on attaching them to the others he was being asked to make.
Meanwhile Tarsus and Thok had meetings with Janus who began teaching them a little bit on how one handles true power and more importantly how one gains it, he showed them a touch of what the forbidden secrets of Blood Magic had to offer, and how they could greatly increase the effectiveness of their spells. This greatly impressed the two, who have seen how even the lowliest of magic can be improved by blood magic to be dreadfully powerful. it was not long before Janus gathered the three and set them a task, to do away with the three new arrivals from Mivon, namely Brandon, Cyllw and Hagrad; if they could complete this task he would have much to offer them, if they failed, well, that had its own ‘issues’.
With great subtlety Petrus the Elder gathered the party to talk about what they had learned, from the combined information it become the theory that Janus was planning a coup d’état, and it was going to happen soon, during Princess Zoyenka’s coming birthday celebration, it was also suggested that Teska was supporting this plan for her rise to power and this plan of course needed to be stopped. Petrus the Elder decided that he needed to warn the real ruler and princess of Novgorod and Hagrad went warn his temple, during this the rest of the party spent much time discussing what plan they should put in place to stop this event from occurring. Tarsus suggested the elimination of Janus explaining that the wizard would be vulnerable since his most of his mercenaries were leaving on a quick mission soon and now especially against the six of them easily dispatchable, Brandon who had seen how powerful Janus is at firsthand, suggested avoiding a head on confrontation, instead supporting the idea of setting a trap, knowing that Janus had ‘issues’ with him and Cyllw, Brandon suggested to the party to fake their own death scenario, the three were hirelings to Janus and so could gain much in Janus’s esteem by proving to have slain the two, bringing their bodies as proof, bodies that could be booby trapped and provide the three with the opening they needed to slay the blood mage once and for all, Brandon’s creation the scorching orb would prove a perfect booby trap, Cyllw proceeded with Melidron to go and find/purchase a couple of corpses which Brandon could sculpt to appear as himself and Cyllw, after the required work Brandon placed the Scorching Orb trap and gave Tarsus the command word to activated it when the time was right. It was at this point that all hell broke loose.
Tarsus immediately said the command word of the Scorching Orb, attempting to kill Brandon with his own creation while he was the closest to it, fortunately Brandon was quick witted enough to say the failsafe command before the orb activated,. Unfortunately for Brandon Tarsus was undeterred by the trap failing to activate and immediately empowered his blade with lightning and blood magic and impaled the young necromancer, leaving him on the ground bleeding to death, Melidron and Thok began their own combat preparations however Cyllw was quick enough to cast a spell and vanishing from sight. Unfortunately for Tarsus he had forgotten about Fluffy, the undead armoured Winter Worg created by Brandon some time ago and named himself. He also did not know that Fluffy was no longer bound to Brandon but instead had been given to Cyllw as a gift. Upon command the monstrosity instantly charged Tarsus and inflicted deep bloody wounds. Cyllw found her escape blocked and began magical preparations of her own. Dying, slowly Brandon attempted a dark curse on Tarsus to forever more rob him of sight, however a quick slice from Tarsus’s curved blade cut his throat and ended the necromancer’s life before he could complete the spell. Melidron, Tarsus and Thok quickly began focusing their efforts on bringing Fluffy down, who was determined not to go out without a fight as he tore into Tarsus. Cyllw broke her invisibility to begin her own offensive to capitalise of the opportunity Fluffy was buying her and attempted to reactivate Brandon’s trap orb, Tarsus attempted to interrupt this by trying to say Brandon’s failsafe command which he had only briefly heard but between the two Cyllw succeeded in activating the orb which promptly starting throwing powerful magical attacks at those unlucky enough to be within its range.
With combined effort and blood magic the three were able to bring down and destroy Fluffy, however, the orb was inflicting terrible damage to them. Melidron began focusing his attacks against Cyllw and a scorching ray from the orb hit Tarsus square in the chest, dropping him like a sack of bricks. It was now that a confused Hagrad arrived from his trip to the temple of Isis and having heard Cyllw cries for help and seeing the carnage was able cast a charm spell on Melidron overwhelming his willpower just shortly after his final sword thrust had left Cyllw unconscious and bleeding on the ground, Thok attempted to incinerate the Dwarf with a blood magic improved stream of fire, but despite the burning wounds inflicted the dwarf stood defiant against his onslaught, the final attack of the trap orb brought Thok to his knees as another one found himself face first on the ground. Melidron attempted to revive his friend Tarsus with a quick potion but only succeeded in stabilising the elf. Hagrad smartly intervened before Melidron could use another potion on Tarsus explaining that it might be best for him to be left unconscious while this mess is sorted out, he would hate to be forced into a fight with him after all.
Here we shall end the tale of dark hearts. Brandon lies dead, Thok with smouldering wounds, Cyllw with bloody gashes of her own, Tarsus unconscious and Melidron charmed to Hagrad.