GO - The Story So Far

Here are links to the articles containing the story of Golden Opportunity so far.

Part One
What happened before the first session as far as the characters are concerned, written by BSR.

Part Two
What happened in the first couple of sessions, mostly written by Learned Hand.

Part Three
The subsequent events, including the story of Maluka. Large contributions from Learned Hand, Onerios and a little from Cardinal Sin.

Interlude One
A personal interlude featuring Raiden and written by Cardinal Sin.

Part Four
A briefer summary this time. The conclusion of story one, the campaign against Greyfalls. Written by Learned Hand.

Part Five
The beginning of story two as the group of Solars split to begin pursuing their individual goals. A little longer as so much is going on. Contributions from Learned Hand, Oneiros and Cardinal Sin.

Part Six
More of the ancient wonders are reclaimed and the Solars continue to wage a hidden war against the Skulls. Written by BSR.

Part Seven
The dual wyld quests are completed in stunning fashion, whilst back in Nexus things go badly wrong in the conflict against the skulls. Written by BSR.

Part Eight
Featuring the story of the Lunars, their nascent kingdom and adventures with the Dragon Kings. Coming Soon.

Part Nine
The solars and lunars are brought together by mysterious dreams, and scatter to the corners of creation to fight a worldwide conspiracy and prevent a dreadful fate. In progress.

Part One

Each of our heroes had very different lives, growing up in all 4 corners of creation. Strange forces compelled them though, and destiny had a hand in all their movements. So it was they found themselves, a month or so before the empress' disappearance at a party in the Imperial City. Their roots were many and circuitous, yet fate had ordained that each of them were there, for each had a role to play in what was to come.

Mnemon Iryla was there, recruiting for his latest expedition, hunting for more relics to add to his collection. Each for their own reason, whether to escape an enemy, forge a friendship or simply as hired help, was signed on to his adventure.

They were to set sail in a week, but first they required a map. They penetrated the tomb of a long dead nobleman, and within found a map leading to his ancient manse in the far east.

The voyage took them across the inner sea, past the borders of Lookshy and down the great river towards Nexus. The expedition re-supplied, and hired more hands, to provide local expertise, a little more muscle and to help them through the land portion of the expedition, though it was still far away. The ship set off once again down the great river towards the far east.

It was not smooth sailing. A great storm arose as if from nowhere a week into their voyage. The vessel suffered serious damage and more than one life was lost, including Tariq, the poor urchin child that had been taken under the wing of the group. The ship had to be turned around but moving at a much slower pace, three weeks later they pulled back in to the docks of Nexus.

After repairs, resupplying and rehiring the expedition got underway in earnest. The flow of the wind and the great lazy meander of the river continued to make the progress slow. About a month out of Nexus word reached the voyage that the Empress' had disappeared, but Iryla did not consider it important, and the voyage pressed on.

The voyage lasted another few months, as they travelled past the river province and the hundred kingdoms, past Great Forks, taking the more southern of the two rivers. They stopped occasionally to resupply but still the atmosphere was somewhat claustrophobic. And when the ship finally took anchor in the lake that was it's final destination those that were moving onward were very glad to be allowed the opportunity to disembark.

The path onward lay through the great forest, and yet again it was tough going. The party proceeded south east over the course of about a week, with only the minor barriers of the forest in their way. Once they reached the appointed area it took another day to locate the entrance to the manse, which was buried as it soon emerged the entire manse was.

The adventurers entered the manse to discover what seemed a very pleasant country retreat. With lavish bedrooms, kitchens, service quarters, training rooms, a ballroom, a library and even a small workshop. Sadly the entire place was devoid of anything valuable, apart from a few moderately useful tomes on first age matters.

Iryla directed people to search for a way down to a floor below, and though he helped them, there was clearly something a little wrong as he did not seem his usual safe. There were several false stairways and paths leading down, all of them seemed to be trapped and minor injuries were sustained. But frequent rest and the charms of Iryla prevented any major damage.

Iryla's condition seemed to be gradually worsening, a fever and lightheadedness being his major symptoms, but no cause could be discerned. The group penetrated the defenses of the manse and made it into the floor beneath.

They discovered a maze of passages and room, filled with all manner of traps and devices designed to slow down, injure and kill those exploring the manse. Once again Iryla and frequent rest prevented any major damage to the party, but Iryla became gradually more ill, and less help as time went on.

The group had been at the manse over a week when tragedy struck. One of the frequent traps finally proved too much for the weakened and distracted Iryla to cope with. Trapped behind some portcullises in a room that was heating up rapidly the rest of the group could not free him. Though a heroic effort one of the adventurers raced through the remaining obstacles but was brought up short at the last hurdle. Iryla did not make it, his body having crumbled to ash.

The dejected party left the manse, and made the journey back to the ship. Progress was easier but the morale was not improved. The stench of death and failure hung heavy about them. They returned to the boat and begun the voyage back towards the blessed isle, though none of them were quite sure what to do next.

A few days west of great forks the captain decided that the ship needed to resupply and many of the same expedition travelled a little way north into the nearest town. There they encountered the Wyld Hunt. The Wyld Hunt attacked and at they very moment the group drew the second breath and exalted. A frenetic, chaotic battle ensued, and despite taking heavy damage all the new solars managed to escape. Fleeing into the nearby hills and hiding in a cave.

Part Two

Our valiant heroes escaped from the patrols around the cave they were hiding in and fled east back towards the fringes of civilisation.

Pursued by a group of dragon bloods they eventually managed to lose them with only the most minor of confrontations.

They found their way back to the manse that they had recently discovered and unlocked the treasures hidden within.

A brief discussion turned to future plans, and deciding that the best way to operate would be from a place of safety naturally thoughts turned to where one might create a power base.

The city state of Tredemin was chosen, on the northeastern borders of the hundred kingdoms. And Queen Latifah was enchanted by the newly arrived Lord and his retinue. Inisiting he had a small force a few days march hence, and he would be happy to take care of the bandit problem the country was suffering from, he was welcomed with open arms.

Realising that the best way to resolve this web of lies was to convince the bandit army to march under their banner the solars marched East through the forest in search of their camp. On their way they were surprised by a group of lunars. Happily for Valion one of them was his sister. However, the reunion turned sour when the wife of Valion's incarnation from the first age took umbrage at the fact Kilik was wearing his (you can't expect a lunar to live for millenia and not experiment) armour. This umbrage took the form of some death threats.

Despite Fox's attempts to stop him doing something stupid, Kilik did something stupid and attacked the first age lunar before the first age lunar attacked him, severely stubbing his toe in the process. Despite having the element of surprise and wicked-cool combo Kilik was always going to struggle against a being that has lived for countless generations, but he did succeed in severely pissing it off. The beast switched into its gorilla-form (heh- JD married a gorilla) and bit out Kilik's throat, but not before swearing blood vengeance against Kilik in all of his future incarnations.

Valion and Lord Fi went off with the lunars to try to limit the damage caused, leaving Azir and Fox to dejectedly trudge back to the city.

Whereupon they bumped into Kairos Orcos and Ferric Iron, who had both exalted at the same moment as them and had been drawn, presumably by destiny, to Tredemin. With their ranks replenshed, and still needing to produce an army out of nothing they journeyed to the bandit camp, killed some bandits and met Dalf, a God Blood with an evil laugh and a penchant for the kill.

After being promised lots of killing, Dalf sent the solars to meet his father, the God of Battles of this part of the world, since he would need his father's permission to fight. The solars got it, and Dalf marched his army to Tredemin and set up camp.

The solars then looked outwards, and noticed that they had two relatively powerful neighbours. A kingdom ruled by DBs to the West, and Thaumaturges to the South. Their thoughts now turn to spreading the good word (Fox), creating a centre of learning (Azir), apparently random acts of mind-rape (Kairos) and stopping Kairos from too many apparently random acts of mind-rape (Ferric).

Part Three

One month, several rules debates and an amusing mishap later, and all of the solars seem to have made progress with their plans. The only thing missing from their campaign is somebody who knows Tiger Warrior Training Technique. Enter Grey Wolf, led by Dalf who stops off only to eat a whole chicken and complain about the lack of fighting.

Grievously upset by Dalf’s complaints, the solars resolve to declare war on a previously non-aggressive kingdom within the week. The kingdom of Moloko beckons. It’s ruled by an evil despot, but more importantly, it’s conveniently located and very fertile. Before battle can commence though, the circle must pick up the bodies of their fallen night caste comrades. Apparently, night caste’s are like buses. The solars act all upset and stuff for the benefit of Valion’s sister, and gratefully accept her vow of protection. They then wait for all of 20 seconds before looting the bodies. Kairos misses out on the loot, as he sadly realises that he must convince Queen Latifah that he’s Lord Fi’s brother, and then marry her.

The party is postponed and the war begins. After scouting out the city of Moloko, they summon Dalf’s army. Grey Wolf convinces a wing to follow his flag and join up with Dalf. Fox and Kairos spread the word that fighting a liberating army (which they are - honestly) is immoral. The former then heads back to Tredemin, the latter joins Dalf to command Grey Wolf’s soldiers. Ferric and Azir have a lie in. As they approach the city, Kairos uses husband-seducing demon dance on everybody (10,000 people) within a 7 mile radius, but having seen Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, decides to make people fall in love with The Unconquered Sun.

The battle lasts 15 minutes. Dalf’s men grab the most kills, but also suffer casualties of around 50%. Grey Wolf’s new recruits emerge unscathed, but the less competent Kairos looses the lives of 10 of his old recruits. As the opposing army, which mysteriously only had 50% of its expected numbers, scatters Grey Wolf is able to decapitate the leader (or, if not the leader, then the guy with the nicest armour), a mere 20ft from his gates.

With its army safely inside, the city bars its gates. The attacking force tends to its wounded, and retreats far enough to ensure that the enemy can retrieve theirs.

With civil war narrowly averted and the populace of a city state now freed from the bureaucratic tyranny of Maanas, the Circle departed Maluka. They left behind a city rejoicing with the promise of doubled payments and the new opportunities as the era of free market commercialism dawned on this agrarian nation. And what better way to prepare for, or distract from, Kairos’ impending nuptials than annexing a distant country…

Preparations for said wedding were well underway by the time the victorious forces returned to Tredamin. There was a pleasant reunion as well as Azir’s request to his allies in Nexus was answered. The intelligence operative Raiden showed up… and was stopped from immediately departing once the full extent of his task here was made clear. The fact that he had also joined the ranks of the newly enlightened gave Fox an opportunity to extol the virtues and glories of the Unconquered Sun. At length.

The wedding itself was a simple affair, though the image of Fox as presiding celebrant and the prayers to Sol Invictus was bound to draw some attention. But it wasn’t until the guests started arriving that the true extent of their social naïveté, however, was revealed. The youngest non-Exalted son from Kharadron, a minor functionary from Seluss… hardly the most auspicious or significant of diplomatic envoys. Obviously, they weren’t important enough… yet. It might be time to take diplomacy straight to the neighbouring courts and… introduce themselves. Of course, social re-engineering can be both top-down and bottom-up directed, so Azir (working on information from Fox) produced some ‘recreational assistance’ to help boost the commercial fortunes of some of these new contacts and maybe relieve the suffering amongst targeted sections of the population.

In order to further their long-term plans, a side-trip to Nexus was undertaken. Ferric needed raw materials to complete his reconnaissance drones (aka the spy-bots) and where better to get them than to pull them out of the air… literally. The journey into the Wyld-touched district of Firewander was not without hazard though, even despite the zone of order engineered by the master craftsman and were it not for Azir’s Efficacious Ignorance of Combat #1 (“Ignorance is Bliss! Available at good apothecaries soon!”), the chaos-rats might have dined well on fox that afternoon. Even the indomitable Kairos, having vented his fury on a creature that had the temerity to bite him, required healing ministrations… albeit of a different type than simple bandaging. But the quarantine zone wasn’t in place for very long. At least they managed to come away with a fairly significant quantity of jade and orichalcum.

Cut to an urgent request to return to Maluka where civil unrest was brewing once again. It seemed corruption and inefficiency had set in to the bureaucracy and the sudden explosion in commercial opportunity had adversely affected all sectors as people tried to deal with the new realities. Some farms in the north had even withdrawn their produce in protest at not having received the increased stipends. A thorough audit revealed cracks in the administration and punishments were meted out. But things still weren’t right. There was more going on under the surface and such was traced to the missing council member – Slavion Ysa, ex-Citizenry minister and confidant of the deposed God-blood. To have him sitting under their noses and causing trouble was a distinct point of concern...

Raiden walked unseen into Slavion's office and came out carrying his prone body. A series of disjointed interrogations later, Slavion's will was broken. Irresistable Questioning Technique proved irresistable, and Slavion poured out everything he knew. Which turned out to be more of a trickle than a torrent of information. One major fact emerged - Manaas' father is a member of the celestial bureaucracy, and likely to show up soon for revenge.

Interlude 1

One night, Raiden had a vivid and powerful dream. He entered the dream as though emerging from under-water, half-drowned. He walked endlessly down a torchlit corridor. At the end, he met a ghostly figure, who seemed oddly familiar. The ghost held out its hands - one palm open, the other clenched into a fist. The spectre reached out his hands to touch Raiden, but his touch was not cold and clammy, but warm and reassuring. Raiden awoke with the name Sijan on his lips, and a vision of a mausoleum in his mind.

His curiosity piqued, he he made his way to the mausoleum city with the aid of Azir's stormwind rider. Landing upriver, he made his way into the city on foot. The city itself was a vast agglomeration made up, for the most part, of graveyards. He would need assistance to locate the mausoleum from his dream. With that in mind, he went to the offices of the Order of Morticians, to meet a minor official there.

A quick search of the Order's records later, he had narrowed the search down to three graves. He made his way north across the city, and found the one; the grave of Elijah Manningstar. A bleak stone edifice, its "entrance" blocked by a solid slab of stone, it gave but one sign of its possible importance; a statuette of a man, adopting a combat stance associated with an art Raiden knew well, that of the Ebon Shadow.

Unsure how to proceed, Raiden left offerings (destroyed in the traditional way so that the ghost of Elijah would receive them in the underworld) and, attached to a bouqet of black roses, a message for anyone who might stop by the grave. He spent some time there, practicing languid kata in a meditative trance. Perhaps he expected someone to emerge from the grave, or a ghostly voice. Whatever he expected, nothing happened.

So he took the more direct route; a short ride (and a short ferry-trip) to the Black Chase. There he would be able to cross over into the Underworld without difficulty. His steed expressed its preference for the lands of the living in forthright fashion, leaving him making the return journey on foot - a minor inconvenience.

Returning to the city, he found it a raucous, lively metropolis - the direct opposite of its living counterpart. Fortunately though, the geography remained the same, and he made his way back to Elijah's grave. It too was much the same - except that its main entrance was an open doorway, flanked by torches eerily reminiscent of his dream. Pausing at the threshold, he called out, hesitantly - and was rewarded with a friendly greeting from Elijah's ghost.

Elijah was pleased to see Raiden - evidently cheered by the gifts that Raiden had left him from the other side of the veil, and impressed by the display of skills that he had made on the steps of the mausoleum the previous evening. Although puzzled by Raiden's dream, he revealed that he was himself the son of a solar exalted, and a master of the Ebon Shadow.

He was, he said, willing to teach Raiden. For a price. An ex-member of the Order of Morticians, he wished reinstatement and the humiliation of the rival who had arranged his dismissal from the Order. Naturally, Raiden agreed. It was a simple matter to arrange a meeting with a high-up contact in the Order, a rather militaristic ghost who was willing to consider Elijah's case. He would be reinstated, he said, if he could duel and defeat one of the Order's own.

Raiden left the Order's office, hurrying back to Elijah's grave. He was confident the ghost could win the duel - but the old ghost had not fought anyone for some time. He would need to practice, or so Raiden suspected. Fortunately, he was at least half wrong in that assumption. Elijah's reflexes and skills proved up-to-date, frighteningly so. But his killer instinct, his aggression - they seemed to have left him altogether.

Pondering what to do about this, Raiden headed for the home (grave) of Elijah's rival. As he had remarked at the time, this was the easy half of his mission for Elijah. Weaving himself a cloak of shadows, he walked right into the place, and stole the ghost's most prized possession, a Chiaroscuran glass sword, complete with scabbard, right from under his nose. Feeling rather smug, he returned to Elijah's grave bearing the sword.

Over the next week, Raiden's fears about Elijah's passive style continued to play on his mind. Finally, he elected to push the issue. At their final practice session, he taunted the old ghost. Mocking his embarrassing defeat and expulsion from the Order, he stoked Elijah's anger. But even that would perhaps not have been sufficient to raise the ghost's ire, if he had not punctuated it with a powerful physical blow - the first to penetrate Elijah's efficient dodging techique.

Raiden left the graveyard with only one limb working, but triumphant. He had succeeded in bringing out Elijah's aggression.

The duel itself was perhaps a reprise of the previous week's practice sessions. Elijah showed incredible skill - at avoiding his opponent. Yet when he presented an opening, Elijah consistently failed to land the killer blow. In a contest to the first blood, that was unforgiveable. After several hours of fighting (exhausting just to watch), Raiden decided to taunt the ghost one more time. His wrath provoked, the ghost quickly completed the duel, victorious.

Raiden left Sijan having acquired a new teacher. More than that, he had found a confidant and friend. And that familiarity from the dream was still lurking at the back of his mind - was there more to Elijah?

Part Four

Cleverly realising that when a powerful Celestial God is after you, the best thing to do is go to Yu Shan, the home of that same powerful Celestial God, the plucky solars con their way into Heaven via Nexus.

Once there, they are able to hang around just long enough to completely fail to ascertain the location of the God in question before they are contacted by a Mysterious Stranger. The Mysterious Stranger points out that most people in Yu Shan want to kill the solars, and informs them of a nefarious alliance between The God (who is now in Creation) Hedron The essence 7 Lunar and The Realm to destroy Tredemin. The Mysterious Stranger is confident that the solars can handle these threats for the next season without any more help and sends them packing. The good news is that if they do so Tredemin will be hidden from its would-be attackers and, more importantly, moved to a much more conventient location closer to shops and transport.

Hedron seems awol and the solars forget about The God so, after stripping the military dictatorship Maluka of its military and taking them to Tredemin, it's time to take to delay the 3 legions for 3 months.

Phase one is propoganda - unfortunately the solars are found and have to flee, with barely enough time to kill one dragonblood and loot his body. 1-0.Phase two is poison, which works fairly well. The score is about 301-0. Phase 3 is supply the city with mysterious barrels of inflammable good and then ask a fire elemental to blow up a large portion of said city. 901-0. Phase 4 is disease, which is unfortunately contained within a few days 1001-0. Phase 5 is dropping a sentient mountain on half the city. 11,001-0

In retaliation one of The City's own Mysterious Strangers forces 3 fire elementals to dive bomb Tredemin and unleashes his own significantly more deadly plague on the city, leading to the death of about 5,000 people in total. However, none of them had names so that was ok.

With only a few weeks left Hedron is now ready to attack but is diverted by a party held in his honour at the powerful pro-solar lunar Ursula Sky Bear's palace. Also, the fact that he was proven to be dealing with The Realm.

Hedron leaves The Silver Pact but he's been delayed long enough to buy The Msterious Stranger enough time to move the city. Hooray!

Part Five

Tredemin has been moved, but it is not out of danger. Within days of it setting down in its new location, it is wracked by earthquakes. It appears the gemlord has found the solars.

Still, the kingdom is in a state of relative peace, allowing its rulers to pursue their own plans. In Ferric and Kairos' case, this means trying to track down a pair of Bracers of Universal Crafting. Unfortunately, Kairos' contact in Lookshy admits that more than one person has sought said bracers, and they are currently in the possession of Kairos' own aunt - location unknown. Unknown, that is, to all except Kairos, who saw her through the images projected by Ferric's spybot insects in her role as Queen of Kharadron.

As the pair leave Lookshy, Kairos decides to track down the gemlord who appears to be his sworn enemy. Partly because going back to the North East of the Hundred Kingdoms so soon seems rather stupid, but mostly on a whim. Since he had chosen a gemlord of the west, assuming that would be safer, he has some way to go.

All in all, it takes Kairos six weeks to travel around the world. He manages to obtain an amnesty from the gemlord, in return for an oath not to summon earth elementals without the express permission of the earth court to which they belong, and not to open any new mines in his kingdom. More alarmingly, he has agreed to create one hundred thousand square miles of new land in the next 50 years. On the other hand, the solars now only have three incredibly powerful enemies instead of four.

By the time Kairos returns, it is time to head off to Kharadron. Grey Wolf kindly agrees to accompany him and Ferric so they won't suffer from a case of dying horribly. First though, the trio head to the kingdom owned by Kairos' brother, to offer him nominal rule over Tredemin. The logic being that anathema are distinctly better off behind the scenes. Ever cautious, Azure Grace agrees only to a diplomatic exchange.

Kairos is given a warm welcome by his aunt and the her family. Mainly because he lies and says that he is there solely to warn her that the guild know where she is. Worryingly, though, it turns out that the king of Kharadron is more tooled up than expected, as are his wife and two exalted children. Moreover, the court is playing host to an immaculate monk. Not great odds.

After some debate, the solars resolve to drive Auntie away from her home by saying that the forces of The Guild draw closer, and frame the monk for the 'leak' by implanting force memories and beliefs into his family members. All they manage to do is drive the queen into her workshop basement, but they do get a nice look of the king throwing the monk out of the window. One down.

After leaving some time for the monk to leave the kingdom, the solars dispense with subtlety. They attack the king and the two exalted princes in the throneroom, making judicious use of the wasp and the wolf to keep the mortals at bay. They then break into the secret basement and dispatch the queen. After that, it's a simple matter of looting the bodies and going home with a whole load of new toys.

Kairos' trip to the West gives Azir some time to see to the general health of the nation and plant the seeds for a new project, that of making the rank-and-file soldiers of Tredamin that much hardier on the field of battle. After all, the tougher our troops, the easier it might be to bring others round to our way of thinking... should it be necessary to deploy them, that is.

However, Tredamin's facilities prove somewhat limited, forcing him to seek out a remembered alternative in the manse out east. A few weeks, a lot of hard work and some arduous crafting later, the good doctor returns triumphant having located not only one of his workshops from a previous life but also a list of ingredients for his first major alchemical work.

With Kairos, Ferric and Kieron heading0 to Kharadron, Azir (on the basis of another dream) pulls Fox and Raiden to Nexus, firm in the belief that there is another manse to be found - a workshop full of plans! - and access to the strange floating manse that Ferric had described. High above the streets of Nexus, who'd have believed that!

Whilst scouring the metropolis for clues as to location, they hear of a protest group called the Skulls who monger doom and gloom, citing the fall of Thorns as heralding the apocalypse. In an effort to find out more, Raiden gets Azir to craft a giant skull to act as a rallying point before bribing some indigents into staging Creation's first real flashmob. One rousing speech and a crowd dispersal later, the party ninja is left disappointed at not having discovered a way into the real group.... until the following morning, that is, when he wakes up tied to a chair, two menacing figures in the half-light!

Having not heard from their friend, Fox and Azir visit his home only to find him missing and a scent trail leading up over the rooftops. And much to their surprise, Fox's nose is telling him that their old companion Tariq (disappeared presumed dead) appears to be involved.

Tracking the scent trail over the roofs of Nexus, Fox (with Azir trailing at street level) end up at a small tenement in the backstreets. With carefully calculated precision, Fox puts his fist through an apartment window sending glass crashing into a mid-level room... to no apparent reaction.

Proceeding, Azir and Fox stand in front of a room door where the young Exalt's nose has told him Raiden is being held. With the good doctor concealed in a stairwell, bow drawn, in case of immediate hostility, Fox knocks for entrance... to be greeted by a well-built figure in black. Eschewing the bow for some powerfully-backed pleasantries, Azir then tries to persuade the fellow to return that which had been 'mislaid'... to no avail though resulting in a combative bid to restore their friend to freedom.

Things start well enough when Fox manages to nick the fellow's sword from behind his back... only to discover the stolen hook sword has a partner. The dance proceeds as the pair frantically try to free the bound Raiden whilst avoiding serious injury. With the ministrations of all three, including some well-placed barbed arrows to sever the ropes, the chair and the Night caste are separated though heavily wounded in the process. As things carry on, the lithe figure of Tariq appears, wielding shuriken, and opposing their escape. Shocked at both this and the dark animas and bleeding caste marks that their opponents are displaying, the trio beat a hasty retreat, to lick their wounds and ponder this new development.

Having run out of leads to the underground manse, Azir Fox and Raiden did the obvious thing: they went underground. This was something like looking for a very small needle in the world's biggest haystack. Nevertheless, Fox's nose detected hints of underground mineral seams that might lead in the right direction - but with no indication of where the entrance might be the three were no further on.

Their best hope was to make a deal with a friendly elemental and go from there. But they would need something to barter with. So it was that Raiden went in search of some disposable jade. Contemplating likely sources, a number of places occurred to him which would present little challenge. Discounting these, a more interesting target presented itself; the Realm's embassy. Such a place would undoubtedly have a vault with enough wealth to cover the necessary expenses.

Raiden made a scouting trip under perhaps the poorest cover story ever invented: celebrity-spotting. For the head of the embassy was none other than Ragara Abassus, a powerful scion of the Ragara dynasty. Having gathered the necessary information, he crept into the embassy cloaked by the charms of the night caste.

The place was a veritable hive of activity, and with the added concern that no small number of the workers might prove to be dragon-blooded. Including, of course, Abassus. Raiden resolved to wait until the place was shut up for the night before proceeding further.

It was several hours later, in the wee small hours, that Raiden finally lost patience. Though most of the staff had gone home for the night, his keen senses could still hear the interminable scratching of quill on papyrus from a nearby office, not to mention the sound of what must surely be Abassus from the floor above. It would not be possible to enter the vault and leave without risking one of them seeing him. Did these people never sleep? It began to occur to him that perhaps they did not. This would perhaps have been a good time to leave, and return refreshed in the morning.

Raiden investigated some of the empty offices, and found what he suspected must be the alarm system for the vault. Disabling it with ease, he made his way to the vault entrance. Deep in the heart of one of the upper floors, the vault would not be easy to escape from if the alarm were to be raised. Raiden opened the door with a flourish of essence, and opened the door. So far, so good. He stepped across the threshold.

As alarm bells screamed out above and below the vault door, adrenaline tore through Raiden's body and his senses came alive. Heavy footsteps were already approaching from several directions. The vault was a literal treasure-trove, with fancy armour, weapons and piles of jade. Sadly none of it very portable. Raiden snatched a couple of swords and sprinted out of the vault, coming to a dead halt as he heard the footfalls of an approaching clerk around the corner. An instant before the clerk rounded the corner, Raiden vanished, standing stock-still and invisible.

The clerk paced into the vault and Raiden sprang into action again - he was almost out of the building when he sensed the approach of others from the floor above. Abassus. He froze again, invisible. Fortunately, while stationary he could remain completely undetectable for an indefinite period, as long as nobody actually bumped into him.

Then one of the small crowd of dragonbloods now gathered outside the vault did something odd. He planted his feet together, closed his eyes, and felt. Raiden stood silently, his senses razor sharp as he listened for the slightest indication he had been detected. He could scarcely believe it when, as a drop of sweat from his brow struck the ground, he dragonblood gasped in reaction, and he heard the group start to move in his direction. Somehow they had detected him.

Raiden didn't wait for them to round the corner - he raced towards freedom. As he neared his exit, a figure seemed to literally fly towards him from the direction of the vault, preparing to hurl a storm of shuriken his way. It would only take one wound to slow Raiden enough that he could not escape. As the dragonblood wound up for the throw, Raiden wove a flare of dazzling essence that entranced his would-be assailant just long enough for him to get out of sight and round the next corner.

He did not wait to see if the rest were catching him up. As he neared the stairwell leading down to freedom, he realised that he needed to get out a little faster if he was to survive the night, and threw himself at a nearby window, swords outstretched to smash the glass. He sprang out into the night and landed in a crouch, as the mortal guards who waited outside shouted in alarm at his arrival.

Raiden tore out of the embassy compound, running straight up and over the surrounding wall, as four dragonbloods came after him. Abassus physically smashed through the wall of the embassy, bursting into the night like a juggernaut, as two somewhat subtler companions followed Raiden's route at unbelievable speeds, and a fourth figure emerged from the roof of the building to follow Raiden across the rooftops.

Raiden dashed towards his only hope of salvation - the nearby river. If he could reach the river, he might be able to hide in its dark waters for long enough to escape. Weaving skeins of distracting essence about him as he fled, he threw himself towards the river with every muscle-fiber tingling. Not looking back, he leaped into the dark waters, twisting in the air and finally plunging into the water, where he abruptly became still, unbreathing, and invisible.

Despite Raiden's efforts to slow them, the four were mere seconds behind him and crashed into the waters around him. But Raiden's stillness was enough to fool Death himself. After half an hour of searching, the pursuers gave up and left, leaving Raiden to soggily slosh his way home, damp but elated. He had secured the jade the party needed, but more importantly, he had thumbed his nose at death and emerged victorious.

Part Six

Using the recently acquired booty as part of a thaumaturgic ritual to summon an earth elemental Azir, Fox and Raiden are introduced to Wayland, a jokun. With his help they find their way into an extensive underground cavern filled with unbearable heat from the lava stream below. Protected by the gaze of Wayland they navigate through the cavern and the pitfalls of the route, finally reaching a door with many mystical protections.

An unthinking Raiden runs straight into an invisible wall almost killing himself falling into the lava below, only saved by Wayland at the last moment. The three Solars brave the test of faith, walking across the bridge as hot as coals and finding the trove of wonders within. They spend a brief time here, and Azir is happy to find what is perhaps the prototype for Beasts of Resplendent Liquid, alive but in a sorry state.

The Solars leave the manse in time for Fox to meet up with Zaph, who is requesting the help of the Solars. This also provides the opportunity for all six Solars to meet once again, dividing up the spoils of the recent trip to Kharadron and discussing some of the moral quandries certain members of the group have been struggling with.

Following some clues from more of their memory dreams and the call of help from Zaph, Kairos, Ferric and Raiden head East. First stop, Mist Island, home of a Fair Folk Queen. Despite some trouble with toxin and curse induced madness the Solars meet the Queen and learn more of the things they seek in the far eastern parts of the Wyld. They are also offered the chance to share in the majest of the pool of Blantagiel, an artifact that can grant visions of places and times far away. Ferric heads back towards Nexus, whilst the other three Solars continue East.

Whilst the other four Solars are away Fox and Azir continue their investigation of the Skulls. Tracking down some of their meeting places Fox manages to infiltrate one of their meetings witnessing the supernatural forces brought to bear by the black-clad preacher previously encountered. Fox follows him to a graveyard and elects to come back with Azir the following night to investigate further.

The two Solars track down the Mausoleum the preacher entered and with an application of strength follow him in. It takes them a while to realise that their is a shadowland, a direct link to the underworld, in the basement of the manse. Leaving the mausoleum again they bump in to a random cultist who almost gets away before the two Solars collar him and convince him not to tell what he saw. Deciding they don't have enough strength to take the leaders of the Skulls head on Azir decides to let the authorities in on the secrets through his contacts in the Night Stars and Fox begins to recruit an alternative cult to wage an war of ideals in the underbellies of Nexus.

Ferric arrives back in town with a different quest, for a shining golden manse in the sky. And the battle against the skulls is placed on the back burner temporarily. Knowing there is a transportation device into the sky manse from the underground manse, they prepare to head back into the lava cavern, after a side trip to the Wyld for Ferric to create some steelsilk. Once again with the assistance of Wayland and some interesting new toys. They build rope bridges to assist future journies to the underground manse and activate the transporter to the sky manse.

They find themselves in a strangely unreal mansion. Eerily preserved in all its splendor. They explore the levels of the manse. Seeing visions of pain and suffering from long ago. Events seem to be conspiring to force the Solars into life threatneing positions, but the deeper they go the more it seems there is some sort of malignant design to the occurrences. When an alembic spontaneously explodes and a voice finally speaks their suspicions seem confirmed.

The very manse itself begins to attack them, revealing the spirit of the manse Gabrielle. A banishing ritual created on the fly by Azir forces her to materialise, and the Solars confront her in the entrance hall. Using the envrionment of the manse to assault the Solars Gabrielle dispatches Fox, before being slain by a brutal blow by Ferric. As the manse collapses around them the Solars transport themselves out, only to find them selves in a much more substantial version of the same manse, with Fox's unconscious body next to them. The Solars attune to the manse and begin to discover the wonders therein.

Meanwhile the other three Solars are beginning their long journey into the Wyld. They encounter some of the may dangers therein, including a herd of vicious apes and man eating plants modelling themselves on quicksand. As well as some slightly stranger problems, an idyllic glade that saps their will to go on and a strange shifting maze that only their own determination to go on finds a path through.

A fair folk noble dressed in warrior's garb guards the ancient sword they seek. An epic battle ensues with Kairos and Raiden turning up just in time to turn the tide of the duel. A warning escapes the lips of the Fae as he dies, and Grey Wolf reclaims his sword.

Part Seven

The three Solars in the Wyld, along with Zaph, now turn their attention North towards where they believe the lair of the behemoth and its precious eggs to be. A series of narrative conceits lie in their path.

First a huge vertical wall, predictably inhabited by giant spiders, leading to yet more rescuing of Zaph, and a series of stunts involving swinging one handed from vines. Kairos' is upset to discover that armour does little against spider babies, nor is it possible to parry a swarm fo them, but his frown turns to giggles as he brushes off their feeble attempt to hurt him.

With the spiders dispatched our brave heroes get to the top of the wall to find a ruined temple, and a thunderstorm waiting for them. Along with a mere 8 Raksha Nobles, each more powerful than the one who had given them so much trouble in front of the sword. But rather than fight, the Nobles seek to negotiate, still bound by ancient oaths to allow the solars to attempt their quest. Negotiations do not go well, though Kairos is impressive as always more than one of the Raksha is at least his equal. It seems the key problem is the presence of Grey Wolf's sword, and eventually a compromise is reached to banish it to elsewhere until he emerges from the wyld once more. Mollified, the Fair Folk disperse and our heroes continue onwards.

Their next challenge is to be found in crossing a huge canyon with a sickly green river running along the bottom, using massive vines slick from the recent rain. Half way across a flock of razor birds swoop into to attack, and though the flocks injuries are much greater than the heroes Kairos ends up plunging towards the river with only a carcass to act as parachute. Raiden quickly follows him, though aiming for the forest.

Grey Wolf chops through a vine and he and Zaph swing towards the cliff face, sustaining minor injuries but reaching their destination much sooner than by their original route. The heroes regroup on the banks and as the river now bends north they choose to construct a raft and follow it. The raft proceeds uneventually for a couple of days before once more things get exciting.

A giant mutant crocodile rises from the water and smases the raft. As the solars cling to the remaining floating pieces a large water snake joins the crocodile and attempts to grapple and drown Raiden. Kairos and Grey Wolf fight off the crocodile but have trouble penetrating it's hide. And, naturally, they soon realise that they are speeding towards a waterfall. Kairos allows himself to be temporarily swallowed by the crocodile, in order to attack it from within, and as Raiden manages to dispose of the snake he emerges and ushers everyone into the crocodile where they will be able to shoot the waterfall safely.

Grey Wolf and Zaph reluctantly agree, but Raiden refuses and together he and Kairos use the corpse of the crocodile to surf over the waterfall, Kairos hanging on for dear life and Raiden leaping down from rock to rock and tree to tree in hot pursuit. The crocodile is more or less destroyed, but the heroes are round a bend from their goal.

The behemoth they seak is a many-headed sea-serpent, guarding it's own floating nest full of eggs. Raiden sneaks into the middle, escaping notice by the mere skin of his teeth. The others have prearranged a signal to mount a daring fly-by pick up and the plan goes off with only minor problems, Raiden is almost swallowed by one of the Behemoths heads, but escapes with a monumental haul of eggs to return to the queen.

Pursued by the heads, the four intrpid adventurers speed back to the waterfall, and out of transportation magic can't imagine what their next move will be. But Zaph stairs deep into the misting spray of the waterfall, and with a surge of some newly discovered power plunges through it seemingly stepping into solid rock. The solars follow him, and find themselves returned to Mist Island and a heroes welcome.

Whilst all this has been going on the other Solars have been busy in Nexus. Having fully explored the great manse in the sky Fox and Azir return to the city in order to continue their campaign against the skulls.
They track individual members of the cult and try to divine the location of some of their safe houses. They make steady progress and recruitment to the rival cult is proceeding well. They discover that the old mausoleum has been cleaned up but on the other side of town a new one has been put in place, this time with defences that are a little more substantial, and Fox's keen nose picks up several scents indicating more of the Death Exalts are around.

Things begin to go wrong when the solars receive news that one of the two leading lights of Fox's cult has been captured by the skulls. Fox again manages to track them down to a previously discovered warehouse in the docks and the solars develop a plan to storm the place. Bursting in they are disappointed to discover that this level of the warehouse is mostly empty, but clearly the skulls are using a basement room. Two guards at the top of the stairs are dispatched rapidly, with the minimum of fuss.

Without pausing for breath the three heroes continue their charge, but sadly they have alerted the skulls to their presence and as they reach the bottom of the stairs both Ferric and Fox are struck by vicious blast from some sort of shoulder-mounted necrotic firewand device from a new one of the death exalts. Undaunted Fox races to rescue his disciple as Ferric and Azir cover him, but the Preacher cuts him down. About to be finished, the preacher is startled as his captive tears free of his restraints and dives to defend his prophet. Ferric races to recover the body before Fox slips from unconsciousness to death, but again luck is against them and Ferric too is cut down.

Azir flees, sprinting until he is far enough away to be sure he has avioded pursuit. He casts Stormwind Rider and at top speed, returns retrieving the fallen bodies of his two friends before the Skulls can interfere. He takes them back to the manse in the sky and gives them both a funeral pyre in the temple on its roof. Though Ferric's passes without incident, Fox's funeral is notable for the unexplicable occurence of a zenith caste anima power, and the distinct feeling of the presence of a great power as the body vanishes without trace.

Part Eight


Part Nine