Round 2, Initiative 8
FRA: Run 120'
"Don't let him escape!" Damian's clarion voice carries through the narrow alleyways up to the others flying in the air above him and Aylaeth. "Don't wait for me!" He and Aylaeth ignore everything in the shop, barely catching a glimpse of the tall mercenary and his red-haired protector as they make it out of the back. He bursts out of the back door, seeing Kyras running away through the narrow alley. He sets his body into a full run, thankful that he is wearing light armor, and gives chase.
Damian immediately turns on Aylaeth's words. "I trust you and your eyes far more than any magical scrying. Let's move." He breaks out at a brisk jog - fast enough to cover ground quickly, but not so quickly to exhaust him or draw much unwanted attention. He holds his sword's pommel to keep it from becoming poorly weighted, and in case it becomes necessary.
He spots Kyras just as he and the red-haired woman enter a shop. "Perhaps that is his sister," he says to Aylaeth. Kyras is a large, brutish hulk of a man. As tall and powerful as Damian is, Kyras stands a full head higher. To his eyes, Kyras seems injured as if having been in combat. Kyras turns as he enters, looking back out at the street and showing his face. Damian stops in his tracks, letting out a breath of shock. "Kalaroth..." His memory of the dark future seeps into his words to Aylaeth. "That is the mortal vessel of Kalaroth, the dragon god." The image of Kalaroth's clawed hands plunging into Aylaeth's chest and tearing out her heart is one that stuck with him through the Everywhen. He draws his sword and shield, ready for the battle of his life. "We have to kill him, here and now, or the world will burn under his rule." His voice is full of pain and hate, but not a hint of fear or doubt.
Maiathreen and Livain appear overhead, apparently having spotted them from the air. "Kyras is in there," he says to them. "He's no mere agent of the Red Dragonflight. He is the mortal vessel of Kalaroth, and we have a chance to kill him before he gains too much of the power he is destined to have. Where are the others? We will need all the help we can get to kill him."
Damian drinks the tea graciously. Tea isn't his favored drink; he is a soldier, after all, not a politician. "Thank you, Professor," he says as he sips at the tea. He drinks it quickly - probably more quickly than is considered polite or proper. For tea, it is surprisingly, shockingly good.
He listens as the Professor and Aylaeth bat theories and suppositions back and forth at one another, hoping that she understands it well enough to relay all of it back to the rest of the Skyknights. When a moment of silence offers him the opportunity, he speaks up. "To answer your earlier question, Professor, I would greatly appreciate if you could scry on Kyras Erodal; if it is possible, I would also greatly appreciate learning the current location of Bethany Erodal. Any assistance that you can give us will save countless lives, undoubtedly."
Diplomacy 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (12) + 18 = 30
Damian bows his head as the impossibly massive naga greets them. Instinctively untrusting of 'monsters,' he hopes that her smile and countenance are as genuine as they seem. "Good afternoon, Professor. Thank you for meeting us. I am Captain Damian Lamorak of Izmir. Professor Brely'an has been of great assistance in the grand quest that I have been tasked with, and we believe that your assistance can magnify our accomplishes thus far. We seek out the Abominations of the Archmage Marianasu, to retrieve and neutralize them before they can be used to bring great ruin to this world. We have had some success. One of the Abominations was used here in Lanzhu earlier today, and we hope to add its capture to our list of accomplishments. We seek your assistance in learning more of them, their location, and their capabilities; we also seek your assistance in bringing us closer to Bethany and Kyras Erodal, who we believe can be of some assistance as well."
Damian looks closely at Aylaeth as she petitions for entry to Professor Yeo. Clearly, this is her moment to make the proper introductions. As it is her expertise and knowledge that will grant them access to whatever information the professor might know, he stands quietly. He is ready to make an appeal of his own, but otherwise plans on remaining quiet as they work out whatever intellectual arrangement they might work out.
Damian offers a nod of his head at Illuminata. "I understand, General. We will do our absolute best to minimize collateral damage. Erodal will likely try his best to attack the civilian population in a scorched-earth tactic, but we will contain it."
He agrees with Aylaeth. "Finding his sister has its own benefits beyond finding Erodal. He will not leave without the Magnifying Glass, but perhaps she knows where he is hiding. Even if she doesn't, she can provide vital intelligence regarding the other Abominations. Perhaps she was the one who supplied it to him. Aylaeth, you and I will travel to the library to try to gather her trail after boarding. Your scholarly knowledge will open many doors there. Min, Lin, and Belsarious will travel to the location of the Abomination and attempt to glean as much information as possible from it; Sophitia will go as well, and Aylaeth and I will board her steed for her. Maiathreen, Livain, attempt to scout the city from above. We will need as much knowledge about the layout of the city; your wings will allow you quick, unfettered passage over the city. Seek out any information from the bars and bath houses. Your appearances may give you considerably more access than any of ours would. If anyone finds trouble, take to the air and find reinforcements. We will rendezvous here at sundown with whatever information that we discover."
Damian seems ill at ease, whether because of the revelation that nothing is secret in this city or by his lingering memories of another life. "Do you have any guards posted at the location for when he comes to retrieve it? Why did he leave it there? We'll need a guide to show us where to start looking, though I suppose we can make do with a map if you cannot spare a man. We will do our best to keep our presence in the city a minimum, as much as is possible in a place like this. Are there any edicts you would have us follow? When we find Erodal - or his sister - we will use whatever force is necessary to take them into custody and drag him back to Izmir, Abomination in tow."
Damian eyes Belsarious and halts his disrobing with a single icy word, "Stop." They cannot afford to offend their hosts with the strange behavior of one of their members.
When he sees Vittoria, he stops dead in his tracks. "Illuminata..." he breathes out her name in a whisper. A flash of memories from his past and her future flashes across his eyes. He remembers the faint scent of late nights; the memories of comforting each other after Aylaeth's brutal death cut through the hazy recollection of his time in the Everywhen.
He collects himself quickly, straightening his spine and looking at her straight in the eye. "It is good to meet you, General. As Aylaeth explained, we teleported here from Stormfare to assist in the investigation of Na-Calanon's death. We believe it to be related to our ongoing quest to find and recover the twelve Abominations of the Archmage Marianasu. What can you tell us of the circumstances of his death, and of the man who killed him?"
Damian's grim countenance breaks briefly for a wry grin when Aylaeth tells him about her sister. She had surely informed him in the past - but the past is far more in the distance for him, even if he cannot recall the entirety of his time away. "Well, that should make introductions much easier. Shall we?" He indicates that Aylaeth's lengthy report brought them all of the way to the palace gates.
Diplomacy 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (18) + 18 = 36
He approaches the functionaries with confidence and purpose. "Good day, my friends. I am Captain Damian Lamorak of Izmir, present with my battle companions. We present ourselves to the fine staff of the esteemed Emperor, whose hospitality we enjoy. Our wonder at the sights of your city is never-ending."
Damian offers a respectful bow to Kho Shenji, fully aware that he is a guest in these lands. "Thank you for your hospitality. We cannot impose on you, and will board our steeds in the city itself." He considers the benefit of having them closer at hand in case they find their quarry. "I will report to our associates in the palace ground. Thank you." He excuses his group, and turns to lead them into the city. The veritable zoo of animals and warriors follows him through the gates.
Damian hears the conversation between Belsarious and Min. "I saw a man - an elf, wearing fine clothes in the style of Stormfare, amid the torn bodies of many of the astral marauders. Whoever he was, his efforts saved us quite a bit of effort. I suspect we should not check the dragon's teeth in this case, and should simply be thankful that our passage was unhindered."
He beckons for Min and Aylaeth to join him in the front of their walking group as they head towards the palace. "We must meet with the rest of the group that came here with Na-Calanon to discover exactly what happened. Word of his death came from General Illuminata Vittoria of Lesotho, accompanied by Captain Lilitine Citanu. Hopefully they are still at the palace. Do either of you know of them? What do we know of the Abomination that this Kyras Erodal used? Additionally - and correct me if I am wrong - Bethany Erodal was heading here at one point, was she not? We should seek her out for whatever information she can give - willingly or not."
Will save 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31
The Damian who passes through Limbo is not the same man who faced a thousand dark futures in the Everywhen. He is a man of iron will and stalwart self-control. When they cross over through Limbo, they are not pulled into the plane as expected and ambushed. Damian sees the elven man standing alone amid the bodies of the Slayers. He makes eye contact with him in this brief moment, just long enough for him to return the acknowledgement of the well-dressed man.
During the flight over the Empire of Mists, Damian looks around in wonder. For the first time in a very long time, he sees normal people looking up at him instead of cowering peasants. He feels a sense of righteous anger for the first time in a while instead of merely a rote duty. He is on this mission to protect people like the farmers and peasants below. He may not save all of them, he knows, but he will fight for their right to live as free men.
Diplomacy 1d20 + 18 ⇒ (13) + 18 = 31
As the stone statues soar up to meet them, he holds up his hand in a motion for the group to stop. He is glad that they share the same language and that he does not need to find a translator. "Good day, great warriors of the Empire of Mists. I am Captain Damian Lamorak, commander of the Third Army of Izmir's Aerial Cavalry. These are my battle companions, the Skyknights. We come to petition for aid in our mission, and beg for you to mercifully allow us passage into the great capital of your most impressive nation."
Damian glares at Maiathreen as the winged man lectures him. When he pulls his sword back, Damian offers a sharp retort. "I have not and will not give up. I watched all of you die, one by one, but I never surrendered my duty for a moment. Our chance to win this war and restore peace to the land is slim, and grows slimmer by the day. Hope clouds that knowledge, but duty does the opposite. It is with clear eyes that I continue to fight, to never give up. You speak to me of not faltering? I watched as you accepted a black bargain on your soul, cradling her broken body, until the darkness consumed you entirely. I carried on the fight. I watched as Min and his dragon reached out to one another before Kalaroth rended her mind and turned her into little more than a puppet - and I carried on the fight. I watched as he plunged his fist into Aylaeth's chest above the flaming ruins of Katapesh, burning her from the inside out - and I carried on the fight! A dark future awaits all of us, and only duty will carry us forth to march out and meet it. But we will meet it with bravery, because of our duty. I have not doubted the mission, not for a moment. I believe in it, because otherwise your deaths - and mine, whenever it happens - will be in vain."
As he finishes, a silence falls over the square. The only sound is the rain hitting the stones. Damian stands proudly, soaked and alone even in the midst of allies and friends.
When the others begin trickling in, Damian is standing in the rain with little sign of discomfort. His armor and shield both appear freshly cleaned and restored, glowing with new runes. Brook attends to Keythan, affixing the griffon's leather barding, under Damian's watchful eye.
Damian raises an eyebrow at the Lionheart's banner that Min's new ally holds. "Brook is as safe here as he is anywhere." The faint memory of Brook disappearing in a massive, white-hot flame flashes through his mind. "As for Villicent, I expected as much. Devils have a problem staying dead, unless you travel to their home plane to kill them. His return will have to wait, however. We have our mission to attend to." He glances over at Belsarious as he speaks, paying little attention to his new tattoos.
With the Skyknights assembled in front of him, Captain Lamorak launches into the summary of their duty. "Skyknights, we have fought hard for the sake of this world. We have braved darkness and the unknown, seeking to free the Land of Abominations capable of its destruction. Our task has been fraught with difficulty, with violence, with risk. I ask you all to continue this journey with me. We must travel now to the Empire of Mists, far to the east, and we must do so quickly. An agent of the Red Dragonflight, a man named Kyras Erodal, used one of the abominations to erase Na-Calanon, a creature of immense power and one of the last true protectors of Izmir. We cannot spend weeks in travel, just to arrive there and find that the trail is cold. We must brave the horrors of the Astral Plane, horrors that some of our numbers have faced and beaten before. I know that you will face these challenges with bravery, for the price of failure is too high. For duty, Skyknights, we will do what must be done."
From a storytelling standpoint, we are in (roughly) the same day that Kalaroth (using Kyras) wiped out Na-Calanon. The entire reason he wants to head to Lanzhu is because it is the last-known location of the Magnifying Glass, and this information is quite fresh. If we take a boat, we will end up several weeks ahead in time of Mists of War. Teleportation is the only way that puts the group there in a way that makes narrative sense, unless DMDRA has something down his sleeves.
Damian politely replies to Diana in kind, having recovered some degree of his previous nature. "Yes, though Gotrek last introduced himself to me as a warrior of Iomedae - not Torag. I will alert General Merit to the possible incursion, though I imagine that he is still mourning the news of Na-Calanon. I will seek out King Said Al-Mar-i-Anan Su when we travel south to seek that Abomination, and request his aid. I thank you for the information that you have supplied. Do you have any other information you wish for me to be aware of?"
"Have you any proof of this, or anything more specific to accuse General Merit of?" Damian asks with some tart peevishness. He stops walking and looks intently at her. "Surely you have researched the sort of man I am. I will not defy my chain of command under any circumstances. I am certainly willing to present any concerns you may have to the General if you present information to me that is both tangible and credible. A respectful ear is your payment, my lady, but you cannot expect me to act out of accordance to my duties to Izmir."
Damian nods, though he has a feeling that he is missing something. "Lady del Covas, I am compelled to ask. What do you know of my mission, and from where did you receive this information? I apologize for my suspicion, but I am no stranger to the world we live in. Information, more than any tangible item, comes at a price. I would have you name yours up front, or at least place the interest that your business house has with me and my Skyknights." He tries his best not to be gruff with her, but speaking in riddles and three-quarter-truths tests his patience.
Knowledge: Nobility 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (13) + 5 = 18
Damian tries to think of the details of her family name, but that knowledge was a lifetime of conflict ago. "I apologize for my ignorance, my lady. I have had little time for courtly affairs since the war began. I would love to hear more." The chivalric words come out of his mouth, but they are habit from a time long lost in Damian's past.
War. How many had died in the Dragon's War now? Once, many years ago, General Damian Lamorak would have cared. He supposes that he could find out. Surely there were some scholars somewhere in Izmir, the last besieged bastion of freedom, that could answer the question. For now, he presses the issue out of his mind. The defense of Izmir is all that matters to him. Izmir, and Izmir alone, offered any hope to a world overran with Kalaroth's forces. The Land had seen countless horrors the last several years: Mamban crumbling into a vortex, Lanzhu destroyed by the Lich Queen, Warbane and Stormfare conquered and razed. But Izmir stands. She is a fortress city now, protected from draconic assault by stone and magic alike, but she stands proudly through a decade of siege.
General Lamorak leads the defenders - as he has, day after day without rest, since Korius Merit was killed - into battle. Streaking from above on his griffon with his soaring Skyknight bodyguards at his back, he cuts through a massive giant who had been flinging boulders at the city. The knights and paladine, sallying forth to drive back the latest incursion, slam into the Dragonflight soldiers and start to press them backwards. "Drive ahead, brave men of Izmir! Drive forward and reclaim this land for our city!" His words ring with inspiration, but he knows in his heart of hearts that he has been delaying the inevitable sack of Izmir for years. The soldiers dutifully roar in approval, slashing and hacking forward for land that they will have to retreat from to keep their casualties to a minimum. Preventing the enemy from gaining a foothold is the best they can hope for, and Damian knows that there will not be any force coming to rescue them. Where would it come from?
He barely sees the streak of flame coming, giving him just enough time to dodge it and to shout out a warning. One of the Skyknights doesn't hear it in time, getting incinerated in white-hot fire. Damian idly tries to recall the man's name, but cannot. None of the Skyknights of old, the legendary group that he led in the early days of the war - the days before all hope wasn't lost - were among the living. One by one, they had died horribly and permanently, lost to the cause. Their deaths had not been in vain, as they had eventually recovered eleven of the Abominations and delivered them to Izmir. The vile artifacts were the reason he fought so hard, even knowing that there was no victory in reach any longer. If Kalaroth got his hands on even one... He is sure that there was someone out there living in hidden freedom, and the Abominations would finish off this damaged world.
Kalaroth flies on his dark wings, hovering over his army. It was not the first time they had faced each other, nor would it be the last. Damian's lance gleams with holy energy as the dark dragon god approaches, still wrapped in his mortal shell. Damian smiles darkly, pleased that Kalaroth still hasn't managed to break out of it and return to his full power and might. This form, Damian reminds himself, was strong enough to tear out Aylaeth's heart and turn Brook to ash. "Kalaroth," he says with hate on his tongue. "Have you come to offer your surrender?"
The dragon god sneers on that face that Damian has learned to hate so strongly. "Just here to claim a few more of your friends. Oh, I don't think I can. I believe I've collected the whole set, haven't I? A pity. I'll have to settle for you." He points at Damian and unleashes a stream of pure flame at him. His magical shield holds it at bay, though his armor glows lightly - a sign that some of the flames are bleeding through the shield's wards. Damian frowns, noting that Kalaroth's blast is stronger than ever before, and grunts under its sustained power.
With difficulty, he brings his lance down to bear, holding back the flames with the shield in the other hand. He shouts out an order, over the flames and the din of battle below him. "Skyknights! Charge!"
Shaking his head, Captain Damian Lamorak looks around. The memory of battles yet fought had come unbidden to his mind, distracting him from the matter at hand. The Lady Diana del Raina del Covas looked at him with expecting eyes. "I offer my apologies, my lady. My mind was elsewhere, in another time and place. You were saying?"
Okay, I've finished leveling up Damian. There are a few subtle changes and one not-so-subtle change that you should know about.
First, the bonus to charge from his banner is now +3 to fear checks and +2 to charges for everyone who can see Damian's banner.
Second, his Inspire Courage now grants +2. He will primarily use his newest command, Sound the Charge, which grants +2 to attack and damage, and a 10-foot increase to speed while charging. It's also a swift action to activate now.
Third, and least subtly, he can use his Tactician ability (now a move action) to grant his newest feat (taken at level 11) to all allies within 30': Coordinated Charge. When this command gets activated (along with Sound the Charge), you'll know that It. Is. On! Our target, getting smashed with the combined horror of multiple charges from the whole of the Skyknights, will not be pleased.
Hello. Cavalier/Bard/Battle Herald here. Damian is just as pious (or was, before an unfortunate time travel incident left him with a decade of memories of a horrific war) as any paladin. As a matter of fact, his backstory involves his disappointment at not being blessed with the powers of a paladin, which is what pushed him to excel as a cavalier. He is known to invoke Iomedae constantly in battle, as well as pray in his off-time.
Sounds like this is just your social circle, judging by the responses here.
Bump. In the vein of the prior flashback post, I will figure something for Damian. I'd like to get back in his head from when he was young and idealistic, before they Everywhen, so it might be when he first got to the Order of the Silver Flame or maybe when he first got the order to fly to Izmir to help.
DM DRA wrote:
You must have enjoyed creating this post quite a bit.
Damian offers the noblewoman a polite military salute. "May the blessing of the Inheritor be upon you, Lady del Covas. I am Captain Damian Lamorak, which I am certain you are already aware of." His invocation of Iomedae seems rote and formal instead of its normal warm genuine style. He turns to Brook to excuse the brave young man. "You will find my armor and shield in the quarters. You've exceeded all my expectations thus far, so I have strong faith that this will be done. Please excuse us."
With a salute, Brook departs to fulfill his duty while Damian turns back to this woman. "How can I be of service today? Shall we walk?" He takes a similar stance to her own, mirroring her body language.
With their plans seemingly set - dangerous plans at that, skipping through Limbo in order to reach the Empire of Mists to find Kyras Erodal and seize the Magnifying Glass of Total Reversal - Damian seeks to improve their odds of victory. He seeks heads to the stables, where he knows that Keythan and Brook will be. He enters the well-kept (for a stable) enclosure, finding his squire sadly doting over the griffon. His own steed glares at Damian from a few feet away, while Brook tries to hide his reddened eyes. Damian looks at the boy for a few moments before speaking. "Brook, where we are going, it is too dangerous for you. You've assisted greatly, but the limits of your youth prove too much of a potential liability. I am not severing your service, know that, nor will this status last forever. I expect you to continue your martial training in my absence. I have made arrangements with the city's leadership for you to assist them until I return or send for you. In the meantime, I need you to take my armor and shield to the marketplace and find a worthy enchanter who can enrune them." He hands Brook a bag of gold coins - his share of the plunder from the volcano - to pay for it. "Wear your uniform to identify yourself, and ensure that it is ready before I leave in the morning. Also, please ensure that Keythan is prepared for the departure. Do you have any questions for me, Brook?" While still far harder than before his trip through the Everywhen, Damian seems the most open he has been since his return.
Damian is looking to upgrade his armor enhancement bonus from +1 to +2 for 3000g and his shield enhancement bonus from +1 to +2 for the same amount.
Damian's face grows still and silent when Min mentions the Lionhearts. "Those who follow the Lionhearts are doomed to share their fate. Send them in, but do not trust, do not aid, and do not rely on them." He is silent again for a moment, then looks at the map again. "Teleportation it is, then. Including the mounts that carry us, how many scrolls or wands would it require to make the trip as safely as possible? I will make the arrangements with our hosts."