December 2006

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Friday, December 1st, 2006, was the first game night since before Thanksgiving. Joey and Mario were both missing, so Tepet Berel Desan and Cynis Nayuta went on autopilot. The game took up where it left off during the last session, with the Far Shores Dragon-Blooded characters standing on the peak of the Stone Maw, looking across the mountains of Linowa in which the Invisible Fortress is hidden.

The Linowan resistance leader, Faraka, pointed to three peaks in the range, indicating that he and his scouts had seen the flying vessels of the Bull of the North emerge from the valley between them. Then he made a dire revelation — V'neef Mahina (who was standing with the group at the time) had been found wandering in the demon-tainted lands at the edge of the mountains and had apparently been into that valley. She had been mad, when found, and could remember very little of what occurred there. None of her retinue had returned. Whatever the Anathema had hidden there might be so awful that it drove people mad, he warned. Certainly the demons which surrounded the Bull's chosen hideaway were not a good sign. Mahina seemed embarrassed that Faraka had revealed this, and he consoled her with a kiss which suggested to the wiser brotherhood members that the two of them have an intimate relationship.

The brotherhood determined to scout out the Bull's position by air, using the flying magitech vehicle (taken from Nalla Bloodaxe in a previous encounter and repaired by Cynis Mond) and the agata demon Roka had summoned. Gavelin and Faraka rode the Swift Rider vehicle, while Roka and Myar rode upon the agata. The rest of the group remained upon the peak of the Stone Maw, awaiting word.

Initially, the four approached the barren edge of the demon-tainted lands, and examined one of the places where it touched upon the forests of Linowa. Roka determined that some sort of barrier held the demon back, but that this barrier seemed to be emanating from some point in the mountains. They continued towards the valley between the three peaks.

The two flying pairs flew for nearly 3 hours to reach the valley Faraka indicated, and discovered that it was a vaguely triangular valley about 4 miles long and 3 miles wide set between three mountain peaks. Down in the valley, they saw a walled area, encircling part of the valley and touching the cliff along one side at two points. Within the walled area, some sort of earth elemental was building fortifications, and already a number of small stone buildings were in place. About 200 icewalker soldiers were still on hand, despite the Air Court's estimation that the Anathema witch (Samea) had taken about 1200 troops with her on the three flying vessels she took southwards. Due to the walled area, the four Dragon-Blooded deemed that something must be special about the cliff and flew in closer to examine it.

As they closed in, they realized that a stone stronghold of some sort was built into the cliff walls (unbeknownst to them, this was the Invisible Fortress). About 400 yards from the cliff, they were attacked. From the strong structure, a stone serpent bearing a head-sized mirror in its mouth fired a strange golden beam at them. Roka was struck, and was drained of all of his Essence. He panicked, and ordered the agata demon to Portal back to the Stone Maw. It disappeared, bearing Roka and Myar. Gavelin and Faraka retreated, fearing that the weapon had disintegrated their compatriots. As they retreated, they received Wind Carried Words from Nayuta indicating that the others were alive and had returned to the Stone Maw. The retreated on the Swift Rider all the way back to that mountain.

Upon the peak of the Stone Maw, the group planned their next move. Roka seemed to be recovering fine, his Essence freely returning thanks to his Hearthstones. While they waited, they sent Wind Carried Words to General Ejava with their position and status. Shortly thereafter, the thunderbird air elemental Thunder on the Water arrived eager to join in the fight, though he was unable to bring along the lightning ballista the brotherhood had brought to Ejava from the Yellow Heron Dominion. This gave the group access to a third flight method.

Thunder on the Water carried Faraka, Gavelin paired up with Mnemon Aratama, and Roka took Myar on his agata demon. The six of them set out to reach the Bull's valley again. By the time they arrived, it was well past dark, and the gibbous moon soon rose high into the sky. They flew in towards the stone fortification set into the cliff. The stone serpent attacked again, and Gavelin raced past it with Thunder on the Water close behind him. Thunder on the Water released a great thunderclap destroying one of the skylights of the fortress, and Gavelin drove the Swift Rider vehicle into a deep plunge into the building. An absurdly fast-paced assault played out, with Gavelin twisting and turning through narrow doorways and great chambers at insane speeds as Aratama sought to demolish the walls and pillars of the fortress using her grand goremaul. The two encountered Fear-Eater and a celestial lion, but managed to escape after causing much internal damage to the structure. A pillar of golden light spilled from the Manse's roof and after defeating two of the stone serpents, Roka and Myar flew the agata demon to help. In an instant, the blast of light burned their agata demon (and Roka's stomach bottle bug and puppetteer and Myar's peronele armor demon) to ash. Meanwhile, the thunderbird kept assaulting the skylights and windows with thunderclaps while Faraka sniped at warriors within with his green jade powerbow. As Gavelin (his legs mangled by Fear-Eater's glaive) and Aratama (battered by the wild ride) narrowly escaped to the roof, the thunderbird (now their only source of flight remaining due to the crash of the Swift Rider inside the fortress) carried the brotherhood to one of the three nearby mountain peaks, one a time. Fear-Eater emerged on the roof and assaulted Roka, but Fear-Eater's insistence upon acting defensively meant he did little to the Dragon-Blooded before the thunderbird returned to sweep him away. By the time Fear-Eater took out his bow, Thunder on the Water was essentially out of range.

The thunderbird now ferried the Dragon-Blooded back to the Stone Maw one at a time. During the trip, a sorcerer from Ejava's camp arrived in a Stormwind spell with two legionnaires bearing a barrel of firedust. The troupe convinced the thunderbird to return to the fortress, dropping the firedust barrel into the blazing pillar of leaking Essence. The resulting explosion echoed from the mountaintops. Though they could not see it from their perch on the Stone Maw, the Invisible Fortress was reduced to rubble. Shortly after that, Cynis Mond sent Wind Carried Words to Gavelin to say that the Anathema witch had once again launched vessels into the air, which meant the Bull must be returning. The brotherhood readily accepted the sorcerer's offer to take them to the Vermillion Legion camp to meet with General Ejava. We ended the session with the characters meeting with Ejava and giving reports of their activities.

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