The party head out to greet the arrival of Adjutant-Major Merten Sivennius, and he relays the tale of what has happened to the Bright Raptor since the party last saw it. The previous night they had set themselves in a low mooring, the better to watch the Palace, when the ship was attacked by something, a winged manlike monster that threw a ball of fire at the ship causing a fire, and when the crew were fighting the blaze, the creature attacked, killing 3 crew and injuring many, including Sivennius who tried to protect his people from it. It looked like a darkly handsome man with great batlike wings, and when it abruptly fled, it grabbed a soldier, one Trooper Rinatta Witt, before flying off with her. The being was inhumanly fast, lightning quick and absolutely outmatching everyone on the ship. In fact, Sivennius believes it could easily have slain the ships compliment, yet chose to flee with a prisoner, and he believes it is more like a lure to draw people to chase it. Though it grieved him to watch the monster flee with his soldier, he felt it more prudent to see to the ship and then seek out the party in the morning to seek help and advice.
The prevailing view is that he did the right thing, but the party are still a little exhausted from their recent endeavours, and they will organise a rescue attempt for the following morning. In the meantime, Calliszia Myinarra, escorted by Jorik and Rovhannan Magnarravax (who is still in his human disguise) wishes to go to the ship and help heal the injured and do what she can for them. The trio accompany Sivennius back to the airship and commence healing. Jorik notes a thoughtful look on Calliszia’s face and he accompanies her to the hold where the bodies of the fallen 3 are laid, awaiting service and funerary rites. With Rovhannan doing what he can above decks (dodging questions about who he is largely), the pair stand before the 3 dead soldiers, all slain by precise and powerful spear wounds. Calliszia, suddenly done with her internal thoughts, steps forward and with a surge of divine power that surprises and awes Jorik, lays a hand on the brow of one soldier and with a great push of energy, seems to drag the soul back into the man, who needs to be restrained by Jorik until he falls into a deep natural sleep. Calliszia, moving swiftly, does the same for the other 2, until all 3 are sleeping deeply, injured but alive and healing. There was no fanfare, not any great noise, yet Jorik appears to have been the sole witness of a miracle not seen in Accitaine for over 500 years. Calliszia seems drained and tired from this, and Jorik helps her to sit down.
Sivennius is called down by Jorik and his astonished gratitude at the return of his fallen soldiers is touching. He is able to break the news of the saving of the 3 to the crew who are told that the 3 were not dead, but gravely injured and cursed. This may not hold up to scrutiny in the long term, but for now it will do. Once the ships compliment are healed as best they can be, Calliszia, Jorik and Rovhannan are ready to return, however it is relayed to them that a docking berth within the Palace has been arranged, and the ship takes off, guided to the underside of the island and up into a great cavern beneath the palace where it can be tethered. The crew are dumbfounded by the industry displayed by the Clockworks as they go about their relentless work, and most elect to remain on the ship for now (probably wise).
The day passes, rest is had, and in the evening the party, Sivennius, Rovhannan, Tisiphoni Bissara, Wren and even Kyssamon all gather in the Solar of the Clockwork Queen to discuss the plan of action regarding Mallad’Fal and the abducted trooper. The rescue attempt will be made in 3 parts it is eventually decided, with the soldiers under Sivennius, aided by the presence of Jorik and Rovhannan (still in disguise) acting as a lure to draw out as many Demons as possible. At the same time, Kyssamon and The Imprint will draw out more from another direction (Kyssamon knows that the chance for Demons to kill a Devil like him will be too much to pass up), hopefully making things easier for the 3rd party, made up of Fullica Atra, Geesje Van Kuipers, Skal Dreissel, Zeru Otxoa, Calliszia and Wren will approach hidden from the west of the island to the Summering Palace where the Demons lair. They shall enter, find and rescue Witt (assuming she yet lives) and hopefully put an end to Mallad’Fal. Rovhannan is also asked if he can destroy the magical device that bars the entry of constructs to the Palace, once the Palace has been liberated.
With this plan in place, they all rest for the remains of the day, though Fullica and Zeru start hatching a plan to fool their Society pursuers in the “Conviction”, a plan that will require the aid of Tisi and Seren in the creation of a fake Orb of Dragons…
On the 24th of the Aft of Spring, 520 AC
The morning comes, and as preparations are made, Sivennius and Jorik lead their party off west into the forest, as Kyssamon heads north-west; by dint of a ride on the backs of the 3 Clockwork Dragons, the rescue party flies out the underside of the island and is deposited on the island west of the Summering Palace (a bracing ride not for the faint-hearted). The party decides that the effectively invisible Wren shall act as scout, going ahead and spying out trouble and opportunity. They approach slowly, and as the first sounds of distant musket fire are heard, make a quicker way forward. They then hear the loud carrying voice of Kyssamon, jeering at the Demons and offering them scant regard,. The party wait a little longer, and when convinced that both diversions are working, enter.
The ruins of the great and once grand Summering Palace (a onetime retreat for Kellestine and Tisi) are impressive, even in its current state. Wren creeps ahead scouting, staying in touch with the Message stone, when suddenly the party note there is no word from her. Concerned, Geesje creeps ahead and in a large domed cavernous room she sees the sight of what appears to be a remarkably well detailed statue of Wren crouched down at a crack in the opposite wall. She also notes the chilling sight of a huge spiderlike creature, hanging upside down in the shadowy corner of the room. The thing is the size of a mythical elephant, and Geesje relays this back to the party. Pooling their planar knowledge, they arrive at the realisation it is either a Bebilith (very bad) or a Retriever (very bad too). Not wanting to spend their strength too soon on fighting something that bad, they surmise that they can do nothing for Wren at the moment and carry on looking, this time with Geesje on point.
The party still hear the sounds of battle outside, however the next alarming thing is a chase from a huge Demon called a Nalfeshnee, with the party wisely trying to escape it, for it is a malign and powerful threat they do not wish to fight. They lose it for now in the undertunnels where stores and servants used to dwell and work, and following it, they come out into the centre of the Palace, a huge courtyard with 100 foot tall walled windows enclosing it. Once a place of ornate and beautiful gardens and water features, it is now a foul and filthy place that Demons have laired in for centuries, and the worst thing seen is the figure of Trooper Witt, almost naked and bloody, suspended by chains about 80 feet up in the air. All is quiet here, and as they come out of the tunnel, they hear a deep and malevolent voice gleefully greeting them. Turning, they see the Nalfeshnee, who has correctly guessed where they would come out. “I have you no…” is as far as the great beast can say, before a blur of gold scales, wings, tooth and claws barrels into the back of the Demon and Rovhannan and the Nalfeshnee plow through a wall nearby and the sounds of a far ranging and savage battle begins out of sight.
Jorik also trots into view just now (he had ridden in on the back of the Dragon so as to join his friends), and united, they see what can be done for Witt. Calliszia and Fullica fly up to see if they can free the much abused soldier, and as they are working at her chains, a blindingly fast blur flies past the pair, with Calliszia taking a nasty spear wound in her side. Fullica catches a good look at the assailant, and judging by his tattooed wings, darkly handsome features and form (he truly is a looker), this is indeed Mallad’Fal. He flies out of sight into the warren and rookeries of the ruined walls about them, with those on the ground watching the sky warily with whatever missile weapons they have at the ready.
The Demon greets them, his voice echoing about the impromptu arena, and lobs a fireball at those on the ground, burning some and forcing them for cover. He fires magic missiles at some and with his amazing speed he flies above them, darting down to stab them and hurt them. This would have been problematic, as ranged weapons thus far seem to be doing little, when the cocky Incubus flies a little too low and Zeru, thinking fast, uses his whip to ensnare a wing of the Demon, forcing it to land. Even now, Mallad’Fal is arrogant and not seeing the danger he is in as he lays about him with his Longspear, gleefully hurting any he can. His tone changes when Jorik, armed with his Paladin zeal and more importantly the sword Herald, charges up and delivers a great smite against the Demon, who is terribly wounded by this. Fullica and Calliszia have also flown in, with Fullica using her Haste extract to aid the party and Calliszia healing and also using Holy Smite magic to further harm the no longer cocky Demon. He tries to fly away again, but an inspired bit of whipwork from Zeru and some grappling from Skal further impedes the escape of the Demon, and the monsters reign of terror on the island is ended when a hasted Jorik steps in a slaughters the demon, cutting it in half.
All goes quiet for a moment, when a loud “phtoo” sound is heard and the head of the Nalfeshnee is spat into the courtyard. Rovhannan in human form walks in shortly after as Witt is freed from her chains and Calliszia applies healing to the barely alive woman. Rovhannan seems to look around a moment and changing into dragon form as he breaks into a run, he bounds through the ruins, and the brief sounds of battle are heard. He returns a minute of 2 later, carefully holding the statue of Wren in his claws. He has just killed the Retriever and is sure that Tisi can reverse the stone effect on Wren. At this point Kyssamon walks in with a pair of Dretch demons writhing their last on his back horns, asking if prisoners are to be interrogated. When told not, he casually slays the pair of creatures and seems well pleased with his days work. Indeed, The Imprint has the head of a Quasit dangling by a rope and also looks smug for want of a better word. Once the magical device prohibiting the presence of constructs has been destroyed, a flood of Clockworks enter, starting the long work of cleaning and restoring the Summering Palace.
The party meet up with Sivennius and the troops who have no fatalities though numerous injuries (the aid of Jorik and Rovhannan avoided deaths to be sure), and all consider the business of the day to have went well. All could do with rest and getting healed and cleaned up, and the disparate band make their way back to the Palace of Blossoming-Steel.
The day passes well, with Calliszia healing and comforting Trooper Witt and the 3 newly raised Soldiers, and as the day wears on, the plans to create a forgery of the Orb of Dragons starts to take shape, as Tisi announces that she is starting the job of dispersing the protective storm about the island, for she wishes to show them all what has been happening back on the mainland recently. Using her scrying pools, she shows them the ongoing siege of Heidelgard City, its valiant defenders now forced within the walls by hordes of Undead who come out only at night. Dead lie strewn in the streets, as the party see the individual heroics of their comrades left behind and the ordinary Heidelens alike. They see the force of Cantabrians who are marching and fighting their way towards the city, with 2 of their airships already destroyed in the battles so far, and the inspiring sight of the same army of paladins, cavaliers, volunteers and faithful who came to the aid of Treest now moving towards the endangered capital. This force of thousands, seemingly named The Sworn of the Goddess, appears led by 3 figures. One is a hardbitten Paladin woman in former Society emblazoned armour, another is a handsome man in the Knight-Commander armour of the Order of the Star (the religious Cavalier order) and the last is recognisable to Fullica, for she has seen statues and paintings of this man, for he is none other than Duc Arnaud de Valuac, the former Grand-Marshall of the Serroyan Armed forces and revered national hero of Serroya, the Greatest of the Great Captains. He appears to be commanding the host with the other 2 his Generals, and his presence on the battlefield is deemed by many to be worth 50,000 men alone.
This is a moment of good cheer, before the magical images change and show the horrific sights of what is transpiring in the east of The Free Midland Duchies. where Society soldiers of The Fourth Legion of the Hand have great camps filled with prisoners and captives, and seem to be systematically torturing and starving people to death in great pits where hundreds are crowded in. This hellish sight appals all who see it, and the cruel and callous way this is being done by the Society shocks with its machinelike efficiency.
Tisi says that due to some magical interference she can see no further east than the borders of the Duchies, and whatever is going on in Serroya, Toralden, Varrunna and other easterly territories and nations thus far remains a mystery. All have their resolve hardened by being reminded what it is they are fighting for, for it is now (and always has been) a fight of humanity against extinction by evil without limit or pity, and all feel the fire of yearning to go home and fight.