Kyra leads Kankai a few steps to the side to avoid any interruption and pats the scabbard of her blade. "In the past few days, I learned something about this blade of mine, something very important. It was forged by a convocation of religions to be blessed as a relic. It was forged of cold iron from Axis and infused with a feather from the Dawnflower herself. The ceremony to bless the blade at the Hidden Shrine never happened though as it was lost to the Worldwound." She hesitates a moment. "I would be honored, and I believe Sarenrae would be as well, if you name this blade as you did Irabeth's."
|Kankai the White|
Kankai's eyes widened sightly at Kyra's request. Her feathers ruffled up in a tengu's version of being flustered before settling.
"You honor me with such a request. If you have a day to spare, then I would like to do the naming ritual with you. I must meditate with the blade to let it speak with me. Watch you use it as I do so since I myself have not wielded it."
Alorah nods in agreement when the other women mention the choice for a General of their modest army. "I agree, Irabeth does seem to have the elements of a leader bound for greatness. She has my vote as well"
Thetins listens as the others nominate Irabeth as the leader of the army and nods. "I can't think of anyone else that would be better at the post than Irabeth." Though I do hope to someday lead forces of my own. He chats for a little longer among his comrades before leaving.
He then searches out Lady Nurah, the army's master bard. "Lady Nurah I was wondering if I could take a moment of your time? I have buried many of my family and friends this last week. I however have not had time to for a proper send off in accordance with the ways of my Order and was planning on performing the send off later tonight. Could I count on you to help me send them off properly?" diplomacy: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (19) + 16 = 35
|Kankai the White|
Kankai glanced over at Thetin and studied him for a moment.
Sense motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25
"Thetin, if you wish to lead the troops speak up. We can't know your wants or desires if you do not speak. If you wish, IF you have never led troops before, become her apprentice and learn leadership. She would make an excellent teacher." Shifting her weight.
"I myself will talk with the scout master to see what I can learn from her. My skills are different but the compliment and learning experience will be needed."
Thetin laughs at Kankai's remark. "Am I really so easy to read. I'll talk to Irabeth once she has settled in as commander. Thanks you Kankai." Thetin then moves on to talk to Nurah.
Thetin outlines the ceremony for the fallen to Nurah and asks her to help him set things up and provide the music. Thetin then invites anyone who wishes to attend. A wood pyre is set up with a wooden casket a top it. Family, friends, allies bring objects representing the fallen and place them in the casket. Thetin will have already placed his objects within the casket. While people place objects in the casket, the highest ranking Order member at the ceremony (Thetin) lists off the names of the fallen, their rank and where they perished (in this case either the battle of Kenabres or the fall of the Kite). After each name is read Thetin shouts, "Their fight is now over.", followed by three loud horn blasts. Once all the names are read Thetin gives a short speech about continuing the fight against the abyss diplomacy: 1d20 + 16 + 1d6 ⇒ (9) + 16 + (2) = 27. The pyre is then lit and as it burns the battle march of the Order of the nine moons is played. Cups of ale are handed out to everyone who then give a salute to the fallen and drink in their name. Music (percussion, string, w/e) plays through the whole ceremony. Thetin holds up as best he can through the whole ceremony but during the salute at the end he breaks into tears. The ceremony ends with a flag from the Order of the nines moons being placed upon flames.
Kelden moved through out the day and the show of the ceremonys, both The Queens, and Sir Thetin's quietly. He was in a strange place through it all, Once more his mind running over... well everything. Before he realized it he found himself near Horgus.
"Count Gwerm, I am glad to see you well. You are to be the Quartermaster yes? If its no trouble I would like to make a request of you,if i may. I could use... holy scriptures of the gathered faiths of the crusaders here. I dont feel that i could properly lead anyone in prayer, forcing them to listen to just my faith's dogma."
He began hoping that at least the Count would recall all the attempts at kind words he had for the man throughout the process of returning to the surface
|Kankai the White|
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Kankai clicked her tongue in amusement at Thetin.
"Yes, you seemed disappointed we would chose Irabeth even if you did like the choice. I have a book that I was forced to memorize that I think you would find quite enjoyable to hear. Maybe over the camp fire I can quote it chapter by chapter and let you memorize it."
Her eyes studied him. "It is called the Art of War. I had to be able to quote the entire thing even when engaged in battle. Ahh, to be a trainee again."
The next morning, before Dawn broke Kankai woke up Kyra and took her to a spot that the sun would touch with its first rays.
Kneeling she would hold Kyra's sword in her hands. Praying in her native tongue for Sarenrae's blessing to be upon the blade and its wielder.
As dawn approached she turned to Kyra.
"Kyra, you have granted me a great honor to speak with the blade and allow me to name it. I have fasted and spoke with it. Watched you dance and fight along side it. This is what I have learned."
Kankai plucked the feather that she had painted for this and slowly tied it to the hilt. The feather itself was painted but Kankai made it a point that Kyra couldn't see it yet.
"Redemption can be found in many places but, like the Phoenix that dances in the sky to celebrate its life before burning to ash, life must sometimes end in flames.
Take heart that the phoenix even in death is not gone forever, and a new life is formed. With this new life, there are new possibilities and a new chance to redeem their souls.
Considering Sarenrae's feather went into the making this blade I can understand why it chose the name it did.
Not many realize what a feather can do and how important it is. A single feather seems weak, and easy to snap by our standards. The opposite is true though. Feather's serve many purposes but flight feather's especially. On the down stroke of a wing, it presses against the air and allows lift and flight, but on the upstroke it is designed to give and allow air to flow around it. Both hard and soft, both cutting and comforting. Much like the steps of a dancer as they move through a dance.
Feather's are used for communication, keeping one warm, and even sometimes to warn others.
This blade does all of that and it is why it has chosen to awaken itself to you. It enjoys being in your hands and believes in you. It quite enjoys it when you dance with it and the passion you express. It makes it feel like it can fly again and you are a worthy soul to burn those that can not be redeemed so they have another chance in the next life."
Kankai hands the sheathed blade to Kyra.
"Draw the sword that will be your partner Kyra. Say hello to Dancing Phoenix."
The sun cresting the horizon hit the blade as she did so and as the feather twirled in the wind it showed the scene of a woman and a phoenix dancing together.
Kyra listened with rapt attention as Kankai completed her ceremony. She found herself smiling as she listened to the words that honored not just her, but her goddess. She takes the scabbard in her left hand and simply stares at it for a moment, noting the feather flapping in the breeze. With a sudden, fluid motion she draws the blade and grins as the dawn's rays reflect off the bright surface of her christened weapon. "Dancing Phoenix..." she whispers. "Beautiful Kankai, simply beautiful." She touches the blade to her forehead and whispers a supplication to Sarenrae, devoting the blade to the completion of her quest.
After a few moments, she sheathes the blade and straps it to her side once more. She then turns and gathers Kankai in a hug. "You do me and this weapon a great honor. The name shall stand for as long as this blade has a wielder."
Fantastic, Kankai! Thank you again for all your devotion to this, it is very much appreciated.
"I'm sure it would be of benefit if you lead the army in the charge, Thetin. You would inspire the troops to great bravery if they follow you." Carilain smiles just a little. "The day to day operations of running an army are quite tedious, you should be happy to be let off the hook."
"I could use... holy scriptures of the gathered faiths of the crusaders here.
Horgus stiffened, then nodded slowly."Yes, yes of course. We have the basic holy texts, prayer books and hymnals of the major faiths involved in the Crusade, suitably bound for travelling.
"Ahem." He coughs.
"I... apologize to you for my reticence. I was not as courteous towards you and your friends as I perhaps should have been, given your rescue of us civilians from that black underground fate.
"It was something of a shock you know. I used to be rich and influential; and now, I am not. It is something of an adjustment.
"But why did you come to me for religious texts, and not Sir Sosiel, our Chaplain?"
Next morning the Knights of Kenabres march to war!
Passing the larger Host of Queen Galfrey, they marched proudly; pennons flying, walking their mounts in perfect order, singing a stirring hymn to war. As they passed the Queen, each unit saluted her and she saluted back.
Humans for the most part, of every color and every land in Avistan; but there was a strong contingent of Dwarf Paladins as well, riding ponies or even armored sows with their tusks capped with sharpened steel. There were even a small contingent of elven paladins from Kyonin, bearing longbows as well as lances; able to put a smite on some unfortunate demon from up to a third of a mile away.
Leaving the city by the main gates, the army turned north.
Avoiding a long loop of the Stellan river, the army cut up the side of the escarpment, across the upland and down into the valley again as the sun started to set. Much time was saved as Lord Horgus left all wagons behind, using beasts of burden to carry all cargo.
The town of Valas’s Gift lies northeast of Kenabres, a small town surrounded by surprisingly fertile lands. Once one of Kenabres’s primary sources of food and grain, Valas’s Gift has been destroyed by demons, and its citizens have scattered into the surrounding hinterlands.
When you arrive, Anevia rode up and shook her head as she made her report. The village is a smoking ruin.
Once they have left Kenabres Thetin will ride up to Irabeth and ask her if she would be willing to teach him the ins and outs of leading and running an army.
"I suppose the best step would be to scout the ruined village itself, both to search for survivors and to piece together what happened. It might help us know what to expect at Citadel Drezen." Alorah suggests.
"I agree with Alorah. Given what was left behind in Kenabres, I cannot believe this village to be left abandoned. We should expect lingering demons or undead, perhaps even some traps. Perhaps we should scout it out and report back to the army? The area is not large enough to hold a very serious threat to our forces." She draws out Dancing Pheonix and holds the blade into the sky. "Also, my blade hungers to taste the flesh of our enemies."
Irabeth smiled and nodded at Thetin.
"Of course. You didn't need to ask; I will show you whatever I can. "I hope you understand that I have had no war college training, I've only ever risen to a Company officer before Kenabres...
"Anyway, this flag rank stuff is fairly new to me also." She said uncomfortably, adjusting the tilt of her epaulet.
"Tell me, if you have no ambition to command a Company, could you act as a fast reserve force? I think you and your companions are best suited for occasions when one of the Companies gets ambushed, or a powerful demon teleports past the front lines to attack from behind, or right on top of us."
Coming up to the bluff overlooking Vala's Gift, Irabeth sat in silence for a minute.
"Company A! Follow the road North and set up a blocking position!
"Company B! Search for survivors! And/or enemies!
"Company C! Rearguard for the moment." She barked out.
From her gestures, she included you all in the 'look for survivors' group.
Roll Perception and/or Survival (Track) checks.
With a nod, Alorah utters a spell in the musical language of celestial, a dress of shimmering golden chainmail adorned with celestial sigils appearing over her clothing, before fading to invisibility as she moves forward.
Mage armor. +4 AC for next 6 hours.
Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 20 Was NOT expecting that. lol
Thetin nods at Irabeth. "I took a few classes during my training but all that is trumped by the experience i can get from you and the army." He listens as Irabeth explains the fast reserve force idea. "I don't quite feel ready to lead a company, however the idea of us being a fast reserve force makes sense. I'll discuss it with the others, but consider our fast reserve force as ready for active duty.
He heads into Vala's Gift with the rest of company B.
perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (9) + 13 = 22
With Dancing Pheonix in hand, Kyra leads the foray into Vala's Gift with the rest of her companions. "Stay on your toes, be ready for anything."
|Kankai the White|
Survival: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (10) + 13 = 23
Kankai would follow the others as she would start paying attention to some of the smaller places and well hidden places for survivors.
He was brought out of his thoughts and studies on the different religions of the army by the others moving forward. He nodded to Commander Irabeth and followed his friends down into the town.
perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
From your examination of the traces, it seems to you that the town was overrun by the demonic horde the same day as Kenabres was about a week ago.
You think maybe a couple dozen people fled the town, scattering into the hinterlands and have not returned.
It does not look like the demons lingered. The most recent tracks are five days old.
|Kankai the White|
"The demon's must have hit the same day as Kenabres was. About a week ago. A couple dozen fled the town, scattered about. The demons didn't seem to linger either. Most recent tracks look about 5 days old."
Kyra looks around at the devastation with sadness. "We should clear the remaining buildings and try to give these poor souls some rest. Perhaps we could gather the fallen and make a large pyre. I feel we don't have enough time to spare to dig graves for all of them. And maybe the smoke will draw the survivors back?"
"Yes, also, loathe as I am to say so, any provisions or supplies that might have survived the demonic overrun would be useful to add to our supply train." Alorah says, her tone tinged with sorrow.
"The smoke could draw the attention of enemies too." Carilain warns. "We need to stay focused on our mission."
The elf puts his bow away. "I agree we should sweep through the buildings, though."
"Let us gather the dead, and do what we must. While we give service others could gather any supplies."
He said quietly, looking over the quiet little town.
Those making the sweep through the town quickly realize there are no living things left in what remained of the town. You find something around forty humanoid bodies, mostly pinned under rubble.
It's odd though, the number of bodies you found doesn't match the number present before the attack.
"Damn, damn, damn..." Horgus swore under his breath, looking through his papers.
"General Irabeth sir!" Horgus called out to Irabeth, looking frazzled as he bumped other officers aside in his haste.
"Can we detail troops to look for clean food and water? I was counting on my factor here to have supplies for us! It will take a day or two to do a complete job of it.
Looking around, he saw a lot of bored looks on the noble officers faces.
"Look, we have enough supplies with us for the week it will take for us to travel to Drezen, plus four and a half days of fighting. Without ALL these supplies we'll fall short!" He argued.
|Kankai the White|
Perception: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (14) + 13 = 27
Counting the bodies her feathers fluffed slightly.
"These numbers do not add up. These bodies don't match the number present before the attack."
"While pressing on may give the enemy less time to prepare, it will do the same for us. If they have taken bodies to have us face undead or worse, the extra day of gathering available supplies and figuring out what happened here might well be worth the delay." Alorah suggests.
"We are not well served by delay. The battle of Drezen will be won, or lost in less than time than four days. I say we make haste on, to the goal. if we take the town we can forage then. If we fail to capture the town, then supply shortages will be the least of our problems."
we will just need to forage for food, I'll speak with the other clerics. Using our gods blessings we should be able to create plenty of fresh water."
He offered giving some support to the quartermaster.
"A hungry army does not fight. I suggest we spend the time necessary gathering supplies. We have no knowledge of Drezen's defenses or how long it will take to secure the sword of valor. Best to have enough food then fail because we all starved."
Kyra shudders at the mention of the vermlek. "I recall that fight well. They were a very formidable foe. If we should stay in the area, then all our sentries must be informed about those creatures. Anyone approaching our encampment must be detained and questioned closely. There are signs that can give away those things, and I believe they were susceptible to positive energy as well."
"Timidity and dithering will not serve us. You seem to think we will invest drezen in a siege, Thetin. We have no siege train. If we are to take Drezen, it must be through speed."
Let's command like Patton, or Rommel, not Granny Gates.
Irabeth frowned and looked to the distant horizon.
"I'm sorry Milord Horgus. We are barely a day into our march and lingering here greatly increases our chances of being spotted by enemy creatures, no matter how much of a distraction the Queen is down south." She mused aloud.
Turning, she strode to her horse again and mounted.
"Everyone saddle up!" She roared. "We will continue on immediately!"
Your army resumes their march, passing through the sad remains of the town.
During the second day out of Vala's Gift, the army travels along the river flood plain, the escarpment rising on the right to about 100 feet.
Late in the day, the scouts (and any players with them) reach Vilareth Ford, the army still behind a few miles.
You see the small fort across the shallow ford in the river, the troops also encamped on the riverbanks as well.
Something is wrong. The Flag of the crusades does not fly over the fort.
The spears outside the fort... They have human heads stuck on them!
And the troopers; when you look closer or use a spyglass, you see they are Tieflings wearing crusader uniforms!
The fort has been taken by the enemy!
Still relatively new to extended time on horseback, Alorah is a bit too tired to be especially observant.
Perception: 1d20 ⇒ 5
perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
He rode up beside his companions setting aside the holy book of one of the other faiths he had been studying. After a moment he frowned and motioned torwards the fort.
"Shouldnt... shouldnt the crusades flags be up? I dont see them anywhere. Something must be wrong."