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Session 8: Meanwhile...

...back at Winterhaven.

Wrafton's Inn

With our heroes gone, the good folk of Winterhaven are relaxing at Wrafton’s Inn, little aware of the immense danger confronting Dragon and the Stormseye Insurgents at th hands of those necrotic kobolds. They’re also unaware of the great trouble they, themselves, will soon face.

Carmine Wrafton is busy tidying up his inn after a long night of revelry – the only patrons left are Kerrina, the tiefling astronomer, who is continuing a long argument with Dorn Gular, the half-orc leader of the Frontiersmen. Oris Bavak, the deva dedicated to Erathis and, of course, our old friend Perrin Pouchworthy are also in attendance. The excited halfling would not let the cleric leave until he had told him everything of what happened at the dig (see last session!), in as many different ways as possible. Thanks the Gods that Oris was a patient sort.

The evening would have continued thus had not the group been rudely interrupted by a sudden blast of energy! A pulse of white light that carried with it thousands of furtive whispers, each of those a seperate attack on the listeners sanity. The voices invaded the minds of the Wrafton patrons, sinking into their brainpans with the subtlety of a greatsword. After what seemed like hours, the energy passed and the barflies found themselves sprawled on the floor. No answers were forthcoming; it was only Oris who could make any sense of the whispers: “_All hail the Ivory Queen_.” He had heard of such a creature – though what form it took and from whence it came he could not place. Something from a children’s story perhaps? The name did not sit well with him, though, of that he was certain.

Kerrina was the first to leave the bar. Outside, she found herself walking into a bloody melee! Three of the Winterhaven guards and two of the townsfolk were trying to beat each other to death! She moved to intervene, but when she did, they merely stopped what they were doing and turned to her – their eyes were pallid and glazed, their faces expressionless. Blood poured from eyes, ears, noses, fists, and the arm of one of the guards was bent at an angle that healthy arms couldn’t. Kerrina had thought that the energy blast was mind controlling in nature, and now here was her proof.

Worried for her life and unsettled by the scene before her, she let fourth a chaotic blast of energy, felling one of the guards. The sound, as well as that of Kerrina’s terrified scream, led the others to pour out of the inn. No sooner had they done so, than the guards and villagers, now acting together, moved to attack! Dorn raised his bow, warning the approaching guard to stand down. The guard kept on moving. Dorn warned again. The guard continued. When he raised his spear, ready to fling it at the half-orc, Dorn had no choice; he let loose an arrow, aiming for a non-mortal wound on the shoulder.

Before long they were surrounded by those they once considered friends; people who were now trying to beat them with their fists, their spears and whatever they could lay their hands on. Fortunately, their fragile minds meant that they fell easier than they normally may have, and our new heroes prevented any real harm to themselves. Though, this was certainly far from the end.

Another burst of white, whispering energy, and now outside, it was obvious where the energy was coming from – the top of Kerrina’s tower! The tiefling had no idea what could have happened up there to cause this, despite questions from the others (Dorn, in particular). She was just worried about her books! This last blast didn’t seem to have as much of an effect on them, and for some reason they were very heartened to have Perrin, of all people, at their side. They may have needed the extra hand, though, as the later pulse was enough to raise those they had felled to their feet once again, and there were some new arrivals to make things more difficult for the group. Oris called on the favour of Erathis who helped him purge the area before the group ran off in the direction of Kerrina’s tower – and none faster than the astronomer herself!

What she found when she entered was stomach-turning. Her new assistant, Moira, was lying on the floor dead – her skull split open. Her murderer, Thair Coalstriker, Winterhavens friendly, orderly blacksmith stood over her, covered in her blood. He was using the the refuse that poured out of her head to write on the wall:

_“All hail the Ivory Queen. All hail the Ivory Queen. All hai…”_

When Kerrina interrupted him, he turned to her, glaring at her the same glazed over look as the other villagers. He attacked, his shield and maul flying wildly – one crack with the wrong end of that hammer and Kerrina would be finished! She let loose a chaotic bolt of energy, but it did nothing to stop his march toward her. Reaching deep into the recesses of her subconscious, she drew forth great, uncontrolled power. A massive blast of light erupted forward, smiting Thair verily, causing his maul to fly across the room and bringing him to his knees. Dorn, Oris, Carmine and Perrin burst into the room at this point, and together they managed to subdue and tie up a severely weakened Thair. They proceeded up the stairs.

A massive blast of light erupted forward, smiting Thair verily...

Here, Dorn was unsettled to find LoKag, his second in command, and a few other Frontiersmen. It seems that they weren’t immune to the effects of the mind control as he was. Regretfully he fought alongside his new allies after his old ones, predictably, attacked. Proving why he is first in command he dispatched his ex-comrades, with a little help and careful manoeuvring by Carmine.

Finally they reached the top of the tower. It was an open-air level that Kerrina had previously used to in her studies of the heavens. Floating gracefully in a ring of white energy was Taluana Adalasia. Standing beside her was Erathia, the eldarin daughter of the town’s mayor, Bairwin Goodfellow, the half-elf shopkeep and Percy Duvall, the human captain of the guard. Taluana smiled at Kerrina who was, once again, the first to arrive, “Isn’t it beautiful? Very soon there will be no fighting! No needless deaths. No conflict of any kind.” Taluana was committed to her goal, it seemed, and the question now became ‘how’. Taluana indicated a necklace she was wearing, itself burning a bright white, “Not everything you find from empires old is past its usefulness, it seems.” With that she smiled and lifted her hand, her glowing white aura extending toward Kerrina, “Join us, my old friend, and you will see.”

Kerrina’s mind filled with images of a tall, pale woman smiling warmly at her, but she was able to shake these away as her friends came barrelling through the door after her. Needless to say, battle ensued. Dorn let loose a few arrows at the harpy he quickly discerned was at the bottom of all of this, but Percy leapt in the way, taking them into his own chest and surprisingly happy to do so. When Perrin entered, Taluana turned her attention to him, “Ah! There! He is the one! He has the sigil! Get him!” Bairwin and Erathia did just that, and before he had a moment to guess at what was happening, Perrin was battered to the floor, Bairwin rummaging through his clothes.

Time was of the essence. With each passing moment, Taluana’s power grew, and our heroes could feel their will slipping. Dorn raised his bow and pointed it at Taluana, but instead of seeing the witch he was trying to put down, he saw a graceful, gleaming beauty. What’s more, Oris was trying to hurt her! He let his arrows fly and they embedded themselves into the back of the deva before he shook the controlling influence off. This had to end now, before they tore themselves apart. They turned their attention to Taluana, ignoring Bairwin. Kerrina led a full assault which brought the elf to her knees – she was barely hanging on to consciousness, but it was at this moment that Bairwin stood tall, “I have it my queen!” He held a loft another necklace, this one stolen from Perrin. With its removal, Taluana’s power suddenly grew! She exploded in a blaze of white light which spewed fourth into the minds of those around her. Much to Kerrina’s terror, she came to realise that she was the only one still free of this Ivory Queen’s influence! All of her former friends glared at her, and Dorn even sent some arrows her way. Kerrina’s hold on her own free will was also slipping, and so she made a last ditch effort to end Taluana for good. She raised her hand and they cackled with primal energy – she called into the deepest recesses of her strength and drew something forward.

But it wasn’t enough.

Her spell crackled and fizzled into nothingness before everything became a bright, blinding light.

All hail the Ivory Queen.

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