CHAPTER 6: Aurora

In my task both as commander of the forces of Clan Erathorn, and faithful servant of the king, I rode swiftly through southern parts of Neustria, attempting to raise more troops and surveying our defenses. On my way, I stopped at a monastery dedicated to Isth, there to pray and gain inspiration for the dark days ahead. As I was resting, noise woke me, and even as I left the central tower, I could see a number of men on horseback, chasing two men who were hard pressed indeed. When they came closer, I recognized the two as my companions from the Galleass, Wolf of the Elemental School, and Baron Agonar. The men in pursuit bore the insignia of the foul Starfire guild, robes indicating several of their mighty Mages. Doubtful of the sense of a fight, and not wishing to involve the mild monks of the temple in our battle, we sought a way out. Wolf had a single option, a Cube allowing us to open a portal and escape. Yet he did not know where the Cube would take us. We braced for the unexpected, and entered the portal. Wolf later told me that the Cube had been found in the possession of a crazed wizard, who had taken up residence in an old abandoned tower. Disabling the wizard and putting him in Agonar's dungeon to protect him from himself (the wisdom of such a move is questioned), Wolf had started investigating the cube. Travelling to Lynne, a nearby city, Wolf had purchased gems required for the cube's operation. However, on the way back, he had been set upon by men from the Starfire guild, and been forced to take this side-road in order to escape. Whether just coincidence or fate, none can say, but it does strike me that whenever I encounter Wolf, a great and perilous journey seems to result soon thereafter.

We emerged confused from the portal, to find ourselves on a plain. Several men from the Starfire guild had pursued, and we defeated these before we had time to consider our surroundings. Wolf executed the survivor on the spot, the judiciousness of the move in question, but supported by Baron Agonar. Taking stock, we were somewhat poorly equipped, but with enough horses to move rapidly. As we set up camp, strange men with the bodies of lobsters came. We attempted to communicate, but they seemed intent on opposing us. I theorize that we had invaded their territories. We defeated the "lobbermen," and being most hungry, found their meat to be most delicious. Moving hastily towards a nearby mountain range, we had to evade numbers of the lobbers, and found refuge on a ledge high up on the mountain. Here we made up a fire to keep wolves at bay, but the fire burnt down, so we were attacked by a pack of ravenous wolves. After defeating these, we were pinned down by some strange humanoids with the heads of otters, which denied us passage past the mountain. A fight ensued, where Wolf finally defeated our enemies with the use of a powerful wind. Unfortunately this caused the passage to be blocked, so we spent the next several days moving rock and consuming wolf steaks and lobbers. Finally passing through, we rode down into a huge valley with a lake in the middle. On the way down, we were ambushed by large numbers of "otters" and had to force our way through. In the process, our Engineer friend, Francois, brought along to help Wolf in his calculations, was killed by a spear. Wolf himself only barely escaped a trap, vaulting off at the last second as his horse fell to its death on the spikes below. We grabbed him and fled down to the lake. Here we were able to cross with the help of some primitives in a boat. These had seen our approach, and noting that we were humans like them, had decided to help. We were introduced to their village, and were soon told of their predicament. Their witch doctor had disappeared a few days before, and after this several villagers had been killed by a large animal. We agreed to do what we could.

Searching the hut of the witch doctor, we found various paraphernalia, and a trapdoor. Below this was a passage into the earth, and a huge, hungry wardog. Feeding this and attempting to establish a rapport with the animal, I befriended it. Descending, we found a door leading into a round room. Within this room was what Wolf determined to be a summoning circle, with the chalk making up the circle being disturbed. Before we could investigate further, Fenris (so named), gave a warning, and we turned to face a number of skeletons. After defeating these, we continued in, to find a passage into the ground, dug by some extraordinarily powerful creature. Following this, we came upon an underground complex filled with traps, skeletons and a number of ottermen. We defeated these with ease, except for a battle in which Wolf was grossly savaged by two of the otters before Agonar and I could rescue him. He survived, however, and we continued on. Finally finding the monster in question, a powerful netherling, we slew it with some difficulty, then continued. Now going up again, we found a large tower, and entering through the cellars, ascended to find floor upon floor of large locked doors. Proceeding to the top, we found ourselves faced with a decked table, a large monstrosity, and a rather smug imp. As we attempted to parlay with the imp, we felt progressively more confused and weakened, and so struck before it was too late. With an inspired blow, I clove the head of the monstrous foe in twain, sending it back to the gloomy pits from whence it came. The imp, however, barely escaped, hiding in the forest surrounding the tower. Surveying the grounds, we saw a great fortress, reduced to rubble by time and probably a battle of some sort. The tower stood untouched, however, and a good thing it was too. We spent some days taking stock and opening some of the doors. Many writings of a magickal nature were contained therein, and Wolf set about the task of investigating. Observing the valley from the tower, I determined that an army was gathering on the mainland. This known, we gathered the grateful villagers and provisioned ourselves in the tower. The expected offensive came, and after scouting the enemy, I returned to wait. The enemy came, a great number of lobbers and ottermen, lead by the imp. In the ensuing battle, we held the enemy at bay using rocks which we had earlier pulled off the walls. The ottermen were well lead, however, and built a number of catapults, with which they started bombarding our walls. Wolf summoned several elementaries to try to stop this, but wizards amongst the enemy destroyed these. Hard pressed to hold the enemy at bay, and continually bombarded by large rocks, we had to retreat to within the tower, abandoning our vantage point at its top. The situation was dire indeed, but Wolf, to his credit, found a solution. Using the truename of a netherling (found in one of the numerous books of the tower), and summoning this to his aid, he ordered it to kill the imp. Following the orders to the letter, the netherling did its task, returned with the imp's head, and promptly departed. While not pleased at us having to enlist such help, the matter was presented to me as a fait accompli, and so I had no voice. The imp general being killed, the ottermen and lobbers rediscovered their apparent hostility. They broke off the siege, and fought a battle against each other. Every otterman was killed, and the remaining lobbers thereafter departed.

Having beaten off the invader, our goal was now to return. Wolf continued his studies, and determined that time here passed 30 times faster than on Aerth, allowing us to stay for long without falling behind on events there. At this point, I determined that this would be an ideal training ground for new troops. When Wolf discovered that he could open a portal once every month (Aerth time), the scene was set. Travelling quickly to a fortress where contact might be had with Erathorn, I ran into one of the clan's members, and explained the situation. I was led to a nearby city, where recruits and in fact an entire operation was being prepared by Lebron. Returning to Aurora, I started the training program, and for the next several years dedicated the majority of my time to this. The Legion which I hoped to create was to be based on the fighting forces of the Roman states at their height. Training was to be intensive, but Lebron had picked the recruits well, so the majority survived the training programme. Since the recruits were prisoners with heavy sentences over their heads, my purpose was twofold-to create a force of shock troops for Erathorn, and to allow these men a chance to see the brightness of Isth and thus to lead them onto the right path. The only break from this programme was the journey to the Necropolis, and events therein. This is described later. Now, a second report by Lebron, regarding his preparation for the Aurora situation.

The Auroran operation under the auspices of Clan Erathorn

By Lebron, Scribe to Clan Erathorn

Word had reached me that Vivernicol of Erathorn and Wolf of the Elemental School had disappeared. Investigating the matter, I determined that they were in an exotic location, and likely to return soon. Further, I determined that the location was potentially useful for the training of troops, and that there was the possibility of unknown riches. From this, I deduced the need for a number of items. Firstly, I had to obtain a moderate number of recruits to be trained. Since the location might be disagreeable to them, the recruits could not have a choice. Prisoners, preferably not hardened criminals, but with heavy sentences were most appropriate. I made the arrangements to have 150 of the proper description released into my custody. Equipment for these was purchased. Further, a vessel would be needed to help with any exploration. Considering that a whole vessel could probably not be transported, I determined to obtain a vessel, remove the essential parts, and to rebuild the hull in the new location. Receiving information on a pirate ship in the Channel Isles, I required a fighting man to take care of the pirates. Remembering Sir Vertigo Warson as having done adequately in the Iberian venture, I sought him out. I presented him with the plans, emphasizing the possibility of substantial gain, and he agreed to at least participate in the first part of the plan. Returning to Mers du Loc, we purchased passage on a ship leaving for Albion. In this venture we were accompanied by Beuf de Rhino, a Captain in need of a ship. At the appropriate time, we went onto the deck (in the midst of a storm, not planned for) and absconded with a small rowing boat. After some manipulation we arrived at the pirate isle, and planned an attack. Vertigo arrived from the sea, and proceeded to attack the vessel, showing great potential. At one point it was necessary for me to apply force to a hostile dweomecrafter to prevent an unsatisfactory conclusion, but otherwise the operation went according to plan. Returning with the ship, I recruited workmen to disassemble it. A further set of 100 prisoners was seconded to me for one month to assist with work. Such materials as would be necessary for construction, and a plentiful supply of tools was purchased. Needing a leadership for the expedition, I invited Nicholle de Tuchera and Delmada to take part. The three leaders set off to obtain a crew for the ship, and after some initial difficulty caused by divergent goals (Delmada and Vertigo having different opinions of the nature of the speech to be delivered), Nicholle was able to recruit the required number. The next day, the entire menagerie departed. Following them, my preparations were justified, Wolf confirming my assumptions. I remained for some time and seconded an operative to Wolf. Returning to Aerth, I observed Wolf in some hurry attempting to purchase arms for his fledgling army. Later, word reached me that he had been robbed and captured. Investigating, I found him to be imprisoned by a set of local bandits. Not wishing to interfere, I waited for him to get loose before the portal closed. He managed this by breaking the inner joint on his thumb to slip his manacles, and then using elemental magicks to escape. As he rushed to the portal just in time, I observed, then set about my next project.

Wolf continued building his army and dwellings, mining for copper and silver. The three Clan Erathorn members completed their ship, and a further ship was completed by Wolf for his own purposes. For the happenings herein, Lebron has supplied the following, written by the Alchemist Vazuvius, and handed over through some agreement between the two.

On my encounter with Wolf of the Elemental school and our first journey

By Vazuvius, researcher in Alchemy
(I believe you know the one)

Long indeed had I been alone, shielded within my fortress of stone. Endless days have I spent in search of the answers I must have, and now only perfecting those answers remain. On such a day, a spy of mine reported intruders nearing my domain. Before they destroyed him, I could clearly see several humans, for the first time in what seems like eternity. I sent my confidante, Adante to investigate. The intruders were sufficiently intriguing to warrant an audience. Their leader, one Wolf of the Elemental school was honest and fortright. Though reckless, this convinced me of his sincerity, and we were quickly in agreement. I would provide him with such creatures of labour as was appropriate, and he would in return supply large quantities of copper ore, needed for my experiments. We exchanged notes, whilst his ally Pierre, of a martial bent, trained with my troops. The arrangement proved fruitful, as his mine expanded to yield more copper and even considerable quantities of silver. As his own debts were huge, this arrangement continued for some time, with the greater portion of yield accruing to me as payment for my labour, and the rest being purchased for good coin. As he was able, Wolf purchased my worker drones, and now he is fully self-sufficient in this field. However, as the Knight Vivernicol was training troops on a substantial scale, it was advantageous to me to have my drones trained in the art of war by him, and then to sell some to Wolf at a high price to cover my cost.

Of my encounter with Althax Erathorn and others, little need be said. On my own initiative, I decided to join the departing boat and gain information as to the lands to the South. The journey was uneventful in real terms until we reached a tropical island where a number of vampires assaulted us. We killed these, and beat off further attacks during the night. The next day we approached their castle, and gained entrance to the graveyard. Here, I, Delmada and Sir Vertigo Warson destroyed a number of vampires and other undead, and descended into some catacombs, killing the creatures therein. As we continued in and killed some ghouls, Althax Erathorn, a mage of some repute in his homeland, and Nicholle de Tuchera, a mage who had accompanied us earlier arrived together with the knight Vivernicol. As these seemed capable of handling the situation, I had gained some information regarding the islands to the south, and they were somewhat suspicious of me, I decided to leave and returned to my castle.

The energetic workers of Wolf, under the auspices of the Shipwright Rinaldo Beck, completed a ship for Wolf, and he departed to investigate events in the North. As he related to me, the journey was long and somewhat perilous, but nothing truly threatened them. Coming to the northern continent, they docked in a large cave used by Aegyptian forces when they still defended their settlements in the North. After an initial foray into the woods here, where several soldiers died, the victims of traps and beasts, they returned with tales of lizardoids. These are of the Saurian empire, and the greater forms are powerful warriors and mages both. Knowing this, I decided that my presence was required, and transported myself aboard the ship. Journeying forth again, Wolf and Pierre suffered the dangers of the forest, and more soldiers died. Locating a large city to the north, they had to return due to problems of food and the toll of the hostile forest. While they recovered, I scouted the area, and determined a place for us to transport with magick, rather than risk the forest. When activating this magick, however, an anomaly in the fabric of heka disrupted my casting, and Wolf was sent into the heart of the enemy city. Here he was captured, and in short order tortured to reveal his origins. Pierre and I set off in pursuit, by sheer luck finding the place in question. Here we subdued several inhabitants, and using powerful persuasive castings, I started to determine the location of Wolf. Our manipulations were uncovered, however, and the city guard descended upon us. Pierre was captured, and even I only narrowly escaped. Starting anew, I finally determined where the pair were held, and contrived to systematically exchange the guard with individuals under my influence. After three weeks of torture, Wolf was greatly scarred, but had revealed only his name. The moment was ripe, and I struck, killing the torturers and freeing the pair. We moved into the forest, where the two started to recover. Pursuit was quick, however, and though we turned to fight, several of the Saurian Inquisitors were present, so flight was the only option. After braving the woods again, we returned to the ship, only to find it gone, a mutiny likely. We pursued the ship along the shore, deducing that it had moved in an easterly direction. During a great storm, our suspicions were confirmed when we saw the ship out of control on the open sea. We boarded our small raft, and attempted to row out, this probably being the last chance to recover the ship. The attempt was a failure, however, as I was the only one able to hold on, and we were all swept up onto the shore. When light returned, our journey continued, and on the shore we found Rinaldo Beck, alive but battered. One of the Aegyptian towers of watch was along our path, so we investigated it. Here I fell through a simple hatchway, down towards great lakes of molten lava below. This being the case, I returned to my castle to continue my studies. Wolf explains that the tower was empty, save for a pedestal which somehow granted Pierre a sword. Soon thereafter, by blind luck they once again encountered the ship, and this time gained entry and subdued the largely drunk mutineers. Some time later, they returned, and repairs were started on the ship. Wolf had of course lost a number of items of power during this trip, and was not pleased.

[Table of Contents] [Introduction] [Chapter 1] [Chapter 2] [Chapter 3] [Chapter 4] [Chapter 5] [Chapter 6] [Chapter 7] [Conclusions] [e-mail the author]

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