On the 25th of the Aft of Spring, 520 AC
The party wake in the morning and busy themselves in preparation, for it is not long in the morning when Tisiphoni Bissara requests their presence in her Solar in time to see the appearance of the Dreadnought “Conviction” in the scrying mirrors, a couple of miles out but closing upon the Island. It’s 2 escort frigates, normally docked at its side are in advance, and the full compliment of 8 Stormrider airships in escort of them. All watch as the small flotilla of vessels approach, and as the 2 frigates start a slow patrol of the island, the Stormriders scout over the forest, unknowing of the Palace and the House of Seren which are both hidden by powerful illusions.
After an hour of scouting, the Conviction comes in closer and makes to dock at the Tower of the Observatory on the northern hill, much as the Bright Raptor did before. Society Marines alight upon the top of the tower, making a beachhead, and the advance of them makes their organized and careful way down the stairs. Earlier, the incorrigible Devil Kyssamon and his stooge The Imprint made ready in the original summoning room the party met him in, with the fake Orb of Dragons; the Orb is a superb forgery with a special surprise within courtesy of the Alchemist Seren, namely it will explode in a fearsome conflagration if it detects anyone of sufficient magical rank or power nearby but until then it shall frustrate and tease any who try to make it work.
The party watch with interest as Kyssamon waits patiently in the room, the Orb just behind him on a pedestal whilst the Imprint fades into invisibility and out of sight. The first Society scouts peer around the corner into the room and are surprised and horrified to see the Fiend, and the party see one soldier say something that annoys the Devil over his shoulder to their officer (no sound as it is the scrying mirror, but they can imagine he’s just called Kyssamon a Demon). The officer and the young Heart Priest speak first to the Mandratine officer watching from up the stairs who seems to urge them on, and at that the Marines rush into the room to engage Kyssamon. It all goes terribly wrong for them as Kyssamon proceeds to slaughter 10 of them with ease, using his frightfully sharp whiplike contracts and wicked horns whilst his arms are folded; the Imprint ambushes the young Priest who is poisoned by the Imps tail, and the soldiers are forced into a retreat. The Devil slowly kills a wounded soldier whilst mocking or insulting him as they go.
The officer still lives and seems to refuse to lead a new attack (lack of soldiers). The impasse is broken at the arrival of a man in the Uniform of a Mandratine General who also wears Inquisitor Insignia; this would be the formidable Lord Ruthann Sepharian, the leader of this expedition and a very hard man indeed. He moves contemptuously past the Marines and walks alone into the room, drawing his sword as he goes, and he makes a beeline straight for Kyssamon whose own eyes narrow, spotting a major threat when he sees one.
The battle between Devil and Mandratine is ferocious, and it is soon apparent that Kyssamon is not needing to act in losing, as the man beats him back in a display of matter of fact skill and discipline, so much so that when Sepharians sword impales the Devil, it is no act when Kyssamon shows great pain and distress. With a great blast of fire at this point the Devil vanishes, leaving a smouldering room and a slightly smoking Sepharian. One of the pools in the Solar shows Kyssamon appearing in a clearing a mile from the palace (Teleportation), in quite a momentary rage before composing himself and moving quietly and carefully to the palace, silencing an annoying Imprint as he goes with a hand around the throat.
Sepharian sends soldiers to investigate the rest of the tower whilst he waits near the Orb. A Man in the Crimson of a Cardinal arrives from the Conviction, and is recognised by Jorik and Bernie Ven Gillandersas none other than Cardinal Robus Truppmann, the Cardinal of Heidelgard City and most senior clergyman of the country of Heidelgard (until the Society was expelled that is). The Cardinal is gestured by Sepharian towards the Orb, and Fullica Atra is surprised (and angered) by Truppmann using an Arcane spell of Identification on the Orb. The Cardinal nods at the General, who gives orders for the Orb to be packed up carefully and taken back aboard the Conviction. All in the Solar are disgruntled at the hypocrisy of the Society using Arcanism, but note the tension between the Mandratines and the Society Marines, and that Sepharian is openly contemptuous of the Society officers.
Also of note is that though the Conviction and other ships seem to be making ready to depart, the 140 Society Marines are being offloaded with supplies, no doubt to secure the island for the time being.The CO of the Marines, a stocky Varrunnan seems to return the lack of regard to the Mandratines, and as the Conviction flies off with its now attached and docked lesser vessels, the Society Marines set about making the tower their base.
The Solar is now aflame with talk and planning, and it becomes clear that the Marines are no match at all for what the party and the Island can send to kill them, and it is soon decided that if these possibly disillusioned soldiers can be convinced of the evils of the Society they serve and the Holiness of Calliszia Myinarra then more allies can be made and fewer souls sent to the beyond that might strengthen the First Denied.
Waiting until the Conviction is far away (heading due south, oddly enough), the greeting party is decided upon. It shall be Geesje Van Kuipers, Zeru Otxoa, Skal Dreissel, Calliszia, Fullica, Jorik and some soldiers under Adjutant-Major Merten Sivennius. Rovhannan Magnarravax in human form will also be along as will be the hidden person of Wren just in case. It is towards the end of the day before they set off, and during the day of watching the Marines they see that a cremation is being planned for the funeral of their fallen. As the daylight fades and the greeting party makes their way towards the observatory on the hill under a flag of truce they are not sure what may happen.
They are seen by sentries as they approach, just before the pyres are lit, and the strong mild tones of the Adjutant-Major carry out as he is in the lead in full uniform. He is greeted courteously by the Captain of the Marines (the Varrunnan) and bid to stop with still 50 feet between the 2 groups. The two exchange civilities (they are gentleman after all), though it is still tense. A towering Master Sergeant stands next to the Captain as the matter comes to the crunch. The captain asks what it is the parley is for, and Sivennius says calmly and matter of factly that the Marines are outmatched, but that a young lady (indicates Calliszia who has come forward) wishes to speak to them before any action or fighting breaks out.
Calliszia asks the Captain and his officers if they have read The Engelmann Prophecies, and when by some awkward looks are the answer, she removes the Hat of Disguise and stands before all in her true form. The glow that quietly swells out from her is also matched by the power of her presence and when she flexes her wings slowly (the better to be seen), a pin could be heard to drop on that hillside. The greeting party all sink to their knees (some surprised soldiers of the 10th need to be encouraged by Sivennius), and a long moment passes as the Marines watching on are still.
It is the towering Sergeant who acts first, taking a knee and bowing his head, followed by other soldiers. The Varrunnan Captain is caught by surprise, and it is his Captain-Doctor who restores control by bidding the greeting party to come up to the top of the hill. As Calliszia moves amongst the reverent and surprised Marines ( a small number are restrained by their fellows including the 3rd lieutenant before they can react badly), the party speak to the Varrunnan Captain and his Doctor. They are Captain Malvolio Maldonaldi and Sub-Captain Bettani Caresco, (the towering Sergeant is Aalbert Green), and it transpires that they are all disillusioned by the recent conduct of the Society, especially after hearing about Society atrocities committed in The Marcher Principalities witnessed by some of the returned company sharpshooter teams who had been temporarily seconded to ground service. The sinister conduct of the Mandratines aboard the ship didn’t help either, along with the other oddities, like the departure of the Paladins and their subsequent hollow sounding denunciation by Society higher ups.
The funeral is resumed, conducted by an awestruck and moved young priest who Calliszia had some kind and inspirational words for. The Marines are given until the following morning to come to grips with the new situation, and the greeting party head back to the Palace, though Sivennius goes ahead to prepare the soldiers and crew there for Calliszias real appearance, especially the pious Corporal Pieter Goossens . Goossens comes around as do the others, though it was harder for him given his beliefs, but after he is spoken to by Calliszia, he seems to find the adjustment a little easier.
The rest of the evening is made for preparations for departure on the next day, for the Bright Raptor and its people would be best to act as a vanguard and warning to the defenders of Heidelgard about the imminent arrival of a flying island of allied constructs. The surprise appearance of Korvuus that evening (it comes as a shock to Kyssamon to come face to face with a Solar Angel, let alone THAT Solar) is also of note. He has come to advise them that the only way for the defeat of the Undead assault and conquest on Heidelgard is for the Murk to be entered by the 5 Pillars and Calliszia, and once inside and at the right time for Korvuus to be summoned by the use of The Silver Storm of Birds carried by Skal. No other ensouled beings can cross the Murks threshold and live, and even Korvuus cannot cross it due to the powerful magics erected by the dominated Master Constant.
Throughout Korvuus’ brief visit, Calliszia (whom he had spoken to privately earlier) is seemingly sad and unhappy though trying to mask it. Korvuus departs as mysteriously as he arrived, though something in his manner and his words indicate that the next time they meet will be of great importance. The rest of the evening is a relaxing one once the preparations are in place to leave.
On the 26th of the Aft of Spring, 520 AC
The morning is dealt with, with the great majority of the Marines opting to join the party aboard their ship for the return to Heidelgard and the fight against the evils attacking it. About 10 are zealots who are kept as prisoners on the Island by Tisi. Tisi for her part is sending a small flying ensouled drone to act as her envoy and voice. Kyssamon and the Imprint (both kept out of sight from the Marines) will remain on the Island, though there was little chance that Tisi would let him free to be a nuisance to the unwary (the rest of humanity to be frank).
A very full ship indeed with all the Marines aboard, and as the ship prepares to depart, they can see Tisi standing looking at them from the dock, and the enigmatic figure of Seren stood next to her. It is still fresh in the partys minds, especially Fullica’s, what Calliszia had said the previous night after Korvuus’ had departed; that Seren is most likely Laeo Tannhauser, the founder of The Kaastig University and also the First-Father all Alchemists and the creator of Alchemy. Fullica has a better idea than most what his capabilities are most likely to be, and all are under no illusion that he is no less dangerous than Tisi, and definitely more unpredictable…