The First Stirrings of Corruption

2nd of Summer, Cycle 129

A hard, cold rain falls in Chail about a day after the events in Aimsir where the Red Knight, Captain-General of the Forces of Chaosium, pierced the veil between the warrens.

Two guards; their armor and clothing soaked through, limp through the doors to Chail's Capitol building. The two hold each other up, their breaths short and the patter of water pooling on the marble floors behind them. The ministers are in chambers with Regent Carrot Moreaux presiding over a regional trade dispute when the large double doors slam open, disrupting the talks.

"My lieges, we bring dire news indeed." They puff between sharp breaths. "Aisimir Citadel has fallen to a terrible foe, a Red Knight clad in blackened armor, and a horrible monstrous spider-steed, it's legs like swords cut down almost everyone that stood their ground. We were the only ones to get away."

The water dripping from their armor gives way to blood, as their wounds have re-opened from the hard ride from Aimsir. They collapse onto the floor; blood weeping out from underneath their bodies, staining the marble. Wispy black lines are seen in the blood, swirling around and giving off a putrid odor.

Bastion's Quartermaster Mason Vargesh, who brought up the initial complaint that called this meeting falls backward in his chair as he sees the two collapse, calling for a healer for the two fallen guards. Minister Soran Liseppe of Chail's Merchant Guild, who was named in the complaint of poor quality iron and failure to keep up with demand for the refit of Bastion's guards, rushes over to the fallen two guards sides.

As Liseppe kneels down to turn one of the guards over, the black tendrils floating in the blood start to leech into him. The guard's eyes are rolled into the back of his head; a look of absolute terror on his face. Liseppe skitters back, noticing the trail of blood he leaves behind, and starts to panic.

"What... what manner of sorcery is this?" He cries out, as black tendrils snake through his veins and make their way up towards his face and down his extremities.

A detachment of city guards enter the room, flanked with a healer as they see Minister Liseppe's eyes turn black, and his skin emaciate before their very eyes. A horrible stench fills the room, as the minister's voice carries out throughout the room with a deadly air of certainty, completely different from the previous voice that he had.

"Chaosium returns, and you will all perish before the Red Knight's army of darkness. Surrender or die."

The trade minister's body decays at an alarming rate, before a swarm of insects leaves his emaciated corpse and flee through an open window into the rainy afternoon.

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'Why am I on this delegation?' Carrot thought to himself, admittedly bored out of his mind. The Quartermaster and the Trade Minister had been at it for three quarters of an hour now and he could barely get a word in. He had basically tuned them out at this point and had let his mind wander to other matters. He couldn't help but wonder if Aynia had other plans for him being here or if there really was nothing else to do in the Queendom but oversee a squabble over the quality of it's iron...

"Your thoughts, your Grace?" The Quartermaster looked at him expectantly. "I do believe you'll find my suggestion more than amenable."

At that the Trade Minister burst out, "Amenable! It puts me out of a job! Your Grace, surely we can come to a different arrangement?"

He was caught. He had no idea what they were talking about. He opened his mouth in an attempt to bluff his way out when the double doors suddenly swung open.

He swung his head and watched the two guards limp through and deliver their message, his face falling in horror not only at their story but at their wounds. As the next events unfold it felt as if his eyes and ears were deceiving him. Surely this could not be true? Aimsir had been sealed for decades!

He begins to move, but several guards surround him, preventing him from getting anywhere close to the desiccated corpses in the room. He swallows heavily and locks eyes with the Quartermaster. "Go. Dispatch a rider. Let the Queen know what is happening here." He turns to the guards around him. "Bring me your commanders, you need to be on alert, now."

The guards around him quickly move off to do his bidding, following the Quartermaster. The rest of the guards wait by the door. He turns to the healer next to the corpses. "Do you know... what do do with this?" he asked.

"What exactly happened before I arrived?" the healer inquired hesitantly. "Something from within the wounded men gripped the Minister and entered him. It fought it's way through his body and took him over, the result of which you saw as you entered." Carrot sighed heavily.

"Quite honestly, I've never seen anything like it, your Grace. I have many years, however I am not yet a Master. If you will allow me to fetch the Masters for you and they can deal with the...remains. In the meantime I believe it is not safe for your Grace to stay in this room. Who knows what kind of magic these guards brought back with them." said the healer.

"Fetch your Masters." he turns to the remaining guards. "Take me to your Commanders. I need to make sure that everything is understood." The guards bark out a simultaneous "aye" and turn in unison, ready to lead their regent back to their commanders. The healer claps his hands and gives a deep bow before scurrying off to assemble the Masters of Chail, who hopefully can solve the first puzzle.

After about a hour of running around and quickly fetching and arranging audiences at short notice, the large central trade floor of Chail's Central Quarter, primarily used for commerce and trade deals is cleared to make way for the Commanders of the Chailan Garrisons, almost every local Government envoy available, and the Surviving Trade Ministers.

In attendance:
Chailian West Garrison Watch Commander Talbert
Chailian East Garrison Watch Commander Vonnegut

Bastion Quartermaster Mason Varghesh

Trade Chancellor Kelbrum Ironheart (Ruling Trade Chancellor of Chail)
Trade Minister Volt Lyset (Minister of Agriculture)
Trade Minister Kelm Abrum (Minister of Trade Imports)
Trade Minister Rin Synod (Minister of Trade Exports)
Adjutant Minister Madeen Luxan (Adjutant Minster of the Merchant Guild)
Treasury Minister Grom Tradar (Treasury Minister of Chail) [Goblinoid]

Any holdfast with an envoy in Chail may be in attendance as well. [Holdfast Envoys will be edited in after the fact, if present.]

Regent Carrot is ushered to the quickly-built raised podium at the center of the trade floor, surrounded by a wash of concerned faces. Whispers spread between ministers and commanders and envoys alike.

Carrot eyed the concerned crowd, taking in the concern evident on their faces.

After clearing his throat he began: "Time is short and hopefully the mages will be able to fill us in on the finer details when they have them. For now it will suffice to know that Chail is in danger."

Turning to the guard commanders "You need to have your garrisons alert as soon as is possible, prepare your defences Aimsir has fallen. Send out riders to alert the watches and garrisons in the area, our foe is of Chaosium and will show no quarter"

"We must also see to the city's provisions" he continued, turning to the arranged ministers "Begin an audit of what supplies you have in store at this time, and what can be acquired in short order. We do not know how long we have nor how long we might have to hold our ground."

Pausing to think for a moment "that is all for now set upon your tasks without delay" with that he walked to the windows and looked upon the landscape, hoping that his rider would reach Bastion soon.

After the conclusion of the War Council, Aynia and her guard rode hard and almost without stop for the almost four day trip, but it was worth it as they made it in record time.

As she passed through the front gates of the merchant city in the early morning hours she was oddly chilled. Pulling her cloak a little tighter around her leather clad shoulders she wondered if the winds from the winter grove were blowing down to Chail this evening or if something truly sinister was in the air...

Guards and ramshackle troops were everywhere near the city walls and gates, mustering up as quickly as they could, with some only being half outfitted. Crates and boxes were being carried through the streets on animal pulled wagons to be put into storage. Chail was normally a bustle of activity, but the normal bustle of shoppers were nowhere to be seen. She breathed a sigh of relief that Carrot had taken things in hand in her absence.

She turns to several members of her guard and instructs them to begin assisting in preparing for the arrival of the troops from Bastion. She takes the remaining few with her to the capitol building, two guards opening the grand doors for her with a flourish. As she steps in she removes her gloves and takes off her cloak, revealing men's clothes underneath, tailored to fit her frame.

Her boots click lightly on the floor as she walks through the building to a side chamber and ungracefully falls onto an overstuffed loveseat before asking a valet to fetch the Regent. She was tired and she was hungry, but they had more important things to discuss. The war wasn't going to wait any longer, and she could use his company. If anyone could help her work through this, it'd be him.

Carrot was reading through the daily reports of supplies being gathered when the report arrived of the Queen approaching. Dismissing the messenger, he set about readying himself for her arrival, it wouldn't do to meet her in a dishevelled state. Donning a doublet bearing the royal crest across the breast and ensuring his boots and sword were polished, he set about gathering a report of the preparations for her.

She sent him to this accursed city of merchants that had been a mewling pain to prepare for the turmoils of war, she was going to enjoy all the fruits of that labour. He smiled mischievously at the thought of handing the growing pile of papers to her for approval. It seemed such a time had passed since setting out on this expedition to facilitate some mercantile nonsense that had gone so thoroughly awry, it would be good to see her again. There would be some fun to be had.

He was expecting the valet, having seen Aynia's party passing through the courtyards below. He dismissed the valet with orders to have the kitchens prepare food for the queen. He walked briskly but deliberately toward the chambers that she had availed herself of. Speaking loudly as he approached the door: "These merchants!, 'But Sir, think of the cost of all this grain', 'Sir do we really need so many pike?', You'd think the insufferable bunch would be grateful I am willing to coddle them" he roared dramatically before stopping at the door and controlling his smile.

Opening the door, he strode confidently to within a few paces of the Queen before kneeling and committing to a flourishing bow. "Your Majesty's Humble servant heeding your summons" he managed, before cracking into a smile and looking up at Aynia.

Aynia heard the loud voice of Carrot outside the door poking fun at the merchants and a smile immediately broke out on her face. She scrambled to sit up and stand as he entered, kneeling with a flourish and announcing his arrival. She put out a hand and ruffled his hair before laughing and motioning for him to stand.

"I sent you here to oversee a few squabbles. I didn't expect a war to break out. Though if Chail were ever in capable hands, they'd be yours, my dear." She sat back down on the couch and patted the seat beside her. "I see you've brought me work to do already," she said, nodding to the papers in his hands. "Tell me what's been happening and we'll sort through these."

He smiled as he stood up and chuckled as he walked over to the couch. He sat down beside her and a serious look fell across his face as he handed her the sheaf of papers "Here are the accounts for the stores we've gathered so far, we are in good shape should we face a siege in the immediate term as I feared the Chaosium would move quickly with the lack of preparation for such an event. I focused the gathering efforts eastward first and we have watches stationed all along the main routes and are prepared for refugees to pass to safety."

He sighed and thought for a while "has there been word from those beyond Aimsir? Is there any news on where the Chaosium are headed?"

Aynia began to flip through the papers, nodding her head. They were in a fairly good position and Carrot had done exceptionally at coordinating resources. She was pleased that there were city guard focused on the east side of the city.

"The war council caused me significant delay in getting to you, but we're armed with a plan. Once the holdfasts mobilize they'll be heading towards the Queensland and Aimsir to provide assistance. I can only hope that enough forces gather in time. From my reports the lands around Aimsir are wasted and barren, with horrendous creatures making their way from the portal out into the surrounding land. We'll not only be dealing with the armies of the Red Knight, we're going to be dealing with the fauna from Chaosium as well."

She looked pensive for a moment before steeling herself at the knock on the door. Surely there wouldn't be more bad news...

Thankfully it was a chambermaid coming to deliver a tray of food. As she sat it down on the short table in front of the couch the two sat on, Aynia looked at the tray longingly, but tried to keep her manners. Once the maid was out of the room however, all bets were off and she began to eat like she hadn't eaten in days. Probably because she had barely eaten in days. The ride to Chail was long and merciless, for they didn't let up their pace except to let the horses rest and to catch a few hours sleep here and there. She was exhausted, but she had too much to do and too much on her mind for sleeping at the moment. Taking a piece of bread and topping it with cheese she popped it into her mouth before chewing and looking to Carrot again.

"Bastion's forces should arrive within the week. Chail should be more than ready to host them, and I'm going to give orders to continue to send a few troops of several scouts to gather more information closer to Aimsir itself so we can be conscientious of the Red Knights movements and how quickly his forces are spreading. We can't afford to let them gain the upper hand."

Carrot eyed Aynia attacking her food and steepled his fingers.
"It just so happens that I thought of that, when it was evident that no raiders were hot on the heels of the unfortunate soul from the watch at Aimsir, I ordered a party to escort some masons to inspect the old battlements protecting the Drochaid Bont. I expect their assessment soon. If they can be salvaged, I have materials and men ready to occupy them and hold the crossing"

Aynia stopped mid chew and looked over at Carrot before swallowing and giving an enthusiastic nod. "Good. If we can hold Drochaid Bont we can hold them off from the Queensland and keep them contained that much longer. We just have to hope the southern holdfasts can mobilize quickly to squeeze them in from the south." 

She tapped a finger on her chin before standing and going to open the large door, speaking quietly to the guard outside. She went to sit back down beside Carrot and briefly put her hand over his with a big sigh before squeezing it tightly and giving him a weary smile. She jumped away as the door opened again and the guardsman entered with a rolled up parchment.

"The map you asked for, and a quill and ink, Your Grace." She thanked him and waited for the guard to take his leave before moving the tray of food and unrolling the map onto the short table in front of them.

She dipped the quill in the ink and began marking on the map with various X's and arrows.  "These are the locations of our holdfasts and the routes they should be taking for the fastest travel. For the farthest holdfasts we may be looking at a couple of months for reinforcements, the closer maybe a week or two. Though we have those like Mestrland, stuck on the other side of Aimsir, separated from the Queensland. The reinforcements arriving in waves could be in our favour in the event of a seige, however, with a steady supply of fresh troops."

22nd of Summer, Cycle 129

They slunk through the inky blackness of the night away from Aimsir. Having come in in a pack, they yipped and clicked among themselves until each got enough of their own space for their liking.

Though sightless, these predators were keen hunters. Forged and moulded in the power struggle that is Chaosium, they were among the predators of the Warren of Chaos. Bony, with skin stretched taught and with a look of malnourishment, the beasts prowled on four legs through the night, wide, fang filled mouths open sensing the air, and audible clicks as they surveyed the area around them to orient themselves.

A series of high pitched screams cut through the night, piercing the air and sounding horrible enough to raise the hair on even the most stoic men and women. The nightmares had arrived...

The scouting party had passed Drochaid Bont just some hours ago and had stopped for the night to rest and keep watch. The party consisted of 5 soldiers trained as scouts. They had passed this way hundreds of times collectively and knew the land like the a map had been etched in their minds. Their knowledge of the area was extensive, and the Crown and the Realm were counting on them for the information they were out to collect.

They were beginning to see some signs of Chaos creeping in, corruption itself fed by the open portal. The plants were getting fewer and fewer, seemingly decaying into the now brown grasses. They were getting close to the edge of the Chaosium's grip, and expected to have findings by the end of the morning. From there they could report back to their commander in Chail with information to support the war effort. Each one knew the importance of why they were there, and were more than prepared for trouble, at least they thought.

The horses tied up some meters away gave the first signs. They became uneasy, making deliberate huffs and occasionally stamping their feet. The party, who were quietly eating their late meal of bread and cheese and dried meat, immediately took notice. They stayed low and looked out beyond the fire into the darkness that was barely lit by a soft glow from the night disc in the sky. One of the scouts noticed a darker shadow than the rest, some ways out. The scout pulled out his weapon and quietly signaled to the others what direction he'd spotted an anomoly. Weapons were silently readied and the group closed together back to back, noticing now that more shadows could be seen from their south. As a breeze blew past their faces, causing the fire to flicker a bit, it seemed to carry with it sounds of the creatures. The clicking was eerie and immediately told them they were dealing with a beast of Chaosium. There were no creatures in Caer Sidi that would make such a sound.

The group had decided among them who would flee for help if there was an attack. As the clicking grew louder there came a sudden scream ripping through the night. It was a scream that sent shivers down their spine, as experienced and hardened as they were. It was more dreadful than any animal scream. It was a tortured scream that was met with what sounded like two more screams from the other direction. It seemed almost an instant and the beasts were almost upon them. At seeing the rush of choas monstrosities coming toward them, the chosen scout made a beeline for the horses, untying the closest horse and mounting the saddle. The four who stayed behind did so valiantly, but they ultimately proved no match.

The scout who was entrusted to make it back began to urge the horse forward and the horse reared onto it's hind legs instead, ears back and eyes wide as the first beast made itself seen, rushing out of the blackness and into the fire light, beginning the attack on the camp. As the scout got the horse under control and pointed the right direction, she caught a glimpse of one of the creatures before the horse began to run. Her gaze drifting between in front and behind her, she realized she was being chased. The clicks from the creature started to fade and she realized it was not able to keep up with the horses. It seemed that once the horse reached a full gallop, it was too fast to be caught. She made note of that and thanked the goddesses and gods that she at least was able to make it out. It took under an hour at a hard ride to reach Drochaid Bont once more and the scout, exhausted yet full of adrenaline, rushed to tell the Captain what she had witnessed. Shocked and horrified at what he heard, the Captain ordered the scout to ride to Chail and personally inform the Monarchy of exactly what happened. In the meantime, he worked to spread the word, sending riders to the nearest holdfasts, a rider to Bastion, and of course, the scout to Chail to address Her Majesty.

Hours later, having gotten a fresh horse and a quick meal, the scout arrived in Chail. She went immediately to the Captain of the Guard and reported herself. She was quickly given an escort to the Queen's meeting chambers and Aynia and Carrot were both informed that the scout was waiting. When they arrived, they were not expecting what they heard. Aynia knew of the beasts. It took decades to wipe out the packs after the first chaos war, and the beasts were not always easy to hunt. They could be silent in movement, but their clicking did give them away. They were agile, but able to be outrun by an able bodied horse. On foot though, her soldiers stood less of a chance than on horseback. She asked about the size of the pack, and was told there were at least a few, but the scout was not in the fight long enough to see any others.

Aynia thought to herself and was flooded with memories from the first war. The creatures they encountered were killers, hunters, and absolutely savage. They were wild, under no ones control and therefore were not only dangerous to them, but if they could be harnessed, they could prove dangerous to the Red Knight and his forces as well. She needed to consult with her Regent and the Oracle. Together they would could come up with the next stage of their plan.

She instructed the scout to send for the Oracle and she and Carrot sat in silence for a few moments. She fidgeted with her hair, her nails, her trousers and the buttons on her shirt before looking out into space and questioning Carrot: "Do you think this will go as well as last time?"
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Carrot pondered the report, awoken from his thoughts by Aynia's question.
"We are facing a foe, many years prepared, who will doubtlessly remember his past forays. We must proceed carefully and not count on your past successes to guide our present endeavors. But the council has been called and many answered. We have the land to our advantage and strength of will to fight."
He paused and rubbed his chin.
"Whatever comes, this is the last we will see of comfort for a long while. We must steel ourselves for the road ahead."
He stood up and walked to the window "Have we any news of the council attendees?"

Aynia watched as Carrot walked to the window, mulling over his words. "Representatives have already sent back word to the holdfasts and they have agreed to raise their armies in support. In the coming days and weeks we should see more arrive." She walked to the window and grasped his hand firmly, staring ahead through the wavy glass panes. "This foe might be more prepared, but we took them out over time when they controlled most of the Warren. Now they're being funnelled out through Aimsir. We have our choke point, we just need to get to it to cut it off."

(06-20-2022, 02:43 PM)Aynia Wrote:  22nd of Summer, Cycle 129

She needed to consult with her Regent and the Oracle. Together they would could come up with the next stage of their plan.

She instructed the scout to send for the Oracle and she and Carrot sat in silence for a few moments.

It would take no less than a day for the Oracle to get the Seasonal Queen's communique, courtesy of the scouts of the eponymously-like named Queensland, and not much longer for "him" and a fellow group of quote-on-quote "staff members", including a single trusted Cleric to have arrived at Chail, and soon enough to the War Council itself.


The Oracle's Entourage includes:
  • The Oracle : Of the Queensland, of Caer Sidi and perhaps further

  • Eesiywen : One ( of Many ) Clerics
  • Correl : ( Honourary Librarian(?) ) member of the Library
  • Syllarel : Library Guardswoman

It would be perhaps true to state that, as the four three members of the Oracle's Library made their appearance within the rich yet modestly sized room of stone walls and archways to adjacent rooms, large windows, rich red carpet, chandeliers hanging from a comfortably robust ceiling and the desks, drawers and cabinets that accompanied a small fireplace to the side of the room; the Seasonal Queen, her Regent and any of the others currently seated on rich chairs toward an equally as noble looking table may have turned to look at the new arrivals. Two were Syvsian, one was a Sidhé. One of them, the Sidhé to be more specific was wearing a long flowing robe, it's colours muted and the design though patterned, did not seem at all rich or intricate. In his left hand, nothing, but in the right was a simple looking book of indiscriminate needs, perhaps a notebook.
Another of them looked like a Guard, though not one that at all looked prepared to stare down a creature of Chaosium, not at all. Instead, perhaps face down a troublemaker. A dark khaki tunic was worn alongside a pair of lighter coloured trousers ended in black boots that looked recently polished. A belt served more as a holster for various closed pouches than any support for the outfit, and what could be described as a soft chestpiece made of leather and wool; an emblem emblazoned on the front was worn against the tunic. Right hand, unoccupied but in the left, a staff made of mangrove wood painted grey and white, shaped in a pattern, a refined topaz gemstone up top.
The third, a male wore simpler attire than his compatriots. A pin, large enough to see from a couple of metres at the very least was placed against a cool blue-grey tunic toward the right shoulder, and he wore dark grey and light grey gloves on either hand. A belt secured the light khaki coloured trousers to the tunic and he wore simple shoes coloured like an oak tree. A strap was fastened to his torso and hanging from it, against his back was a decently large looking sack, one that looked as if it did indeed have something in it.

But the Oracle itself? The mysterious force of the Queensland was nowhere to be seen. No secret as to the identity of the three was left, however as all three would have performed respectful curtsey toward the Seasonal Queen first, and to the Regent second and with that, the one whom looked like a Guard started up in address.

Syllarel, Library Guardswoman: "Your royal highness, the Seasonal Queen
Your excellency, Regent of the Queensland. It is a pleasure that you would call for us."

The Cleric would have followed next, who appeared quite decently taller than the other two beside her:

Eesiywen, Cleric of the Oracle('s library) : "Your message reached us quickly. We're from the great Library of the Bastion, the one of the Oracle."

And with the two having given their quick addresses, they would remain quiet for Seasonal Queen Aynia and/or the Regent's response. Syllarel's free hand would begin to rest against one of the pouches against her belt, as if waiting to do something with it.

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