Sessions 31 – 37: Leminkainen. Hawkwood Homecoming
Dates: 1/5/2008 to 4/12/2008
The group sets course for Bannokburn, but knowing they had to get the permission from a high ranking Hawkwood noble to visit Bannokburn, the stopped over to Justinius`s homeworld, Leminkainen.
- The Tattoos of Doom! Braduk feels the pull of a sinister destiny that has formed deep within his soul. His death and rebirth, his shared soul with a corrupted priest and the seed implanted by a World Egg experience have culminated into a dark doorway that certain demon worshippers would like to take advantage of. The first of 2 of 5 tattoos were placed on Braduk when the demon cults kidnapped him.
- Decados Wedding? – Justinius is forced into an engagement with Sphia Decados, a young noble woman from his most hated House. His father admitts to him that he has been involved in conscripting prisoners from the Dextrite prison but someone else has been skimming some off the top and “donating” them to some mysterious project called Project Harakonus, headed by a man named Dr. Brice.
- A living Saint is born! – Events that surround Brother Jonus, some of which are seen as divinely influenced, pushes the young Ur-Obun into Sainthood. His miracles and word spreads fast and he develops a small following on Leminkainen. He leads a considerable revival on Leminkainen
- Rooks make their move – Jacob Justinius is tapped even further by the Rooks of Hawkwood. With the visiting Decadoes delegation on Leminkainen, it is a gold mine of intelligence that someone like Jacob could take considerable advantage of.
- Assault on Thoule – Evidence leads the party to the point that they have to overthrow Baron Valdan Hawkwood in Thoule.
The group is instrumental in bringing down a despotic leader of a small province of Thoule. He was involved in the Project Harakonus and supplying it with subjects. He was also involved in a very illegal longevity drug trade operation.
From this, they learn more about the sinister Dr. Brice. They follow his trail to the island of Tesla, where they find his abandoned lab and the results of his experiments there.
The Journey to Thoule
Sir Justinius, Jacob and a man named Von Skylov
The journey to Thoule for the noble party of Sir Justinius Hawkwood, his aide-de-camp and Imperial Cohort, Jacob of the Juandaastas and technical assistant, Aaron Von Skylov, took them south across the Sedat Ocean and into the Hakkonen Bay. The voyage was aboard a freeman privateer vessel, hired by Justinius himself, called the Crow’s Heart. Captained by a strange man named Captain Goodrite, the boat had seen its better days. But it was low profile and guaranteed not to draw attention to the party on their trek for illicit drugs.
Longevity drugs are strongly frowned upon by the Church, but are also very hard to come by. When they are found by the Church, depending on the nature of the drug and who is taking it, the Church may overlook minor or occasional infractions of this proscription. However, the amounts Baron Valdan has apparently been able to obtain and distribute is unprecedented. His distribution network is also impressive, as he has many friends in high places.
Justinius and his party enjoyed the sea voyage for the first few days. Knowing that Brother Jonus and his pilgrims were going to take the long way around, the party chose to enjoy the time they had on the open ocean while the captain made a few discrete visits in various ports along the smaller islands in the bay.
Passing through the Strait of Mazor, the boat ran into its first trouble. The Crow’s Heart had stumbled upon a pirate attack on a freighter. The Captain, true to his freeman ways, was going to turn and leave the scene. However, Justinius, true to his Hawkwood form, seeing the vessel was flying a Hawkwood banner, ordered the man to turn about and defend the freighter.
The freighter was no match against the marauding pirates but once the guns of the privateer turned on them, they abandoned their victim and fled at full speed. Getting a glimpse of the pirates, the party saw they were hideously Changed creatures with twisted features and berserker-like demeanor.
Once the pirates had left, Justinius chose to fade back and let the captain take the credit as well as the reward. The Hawkwood freighter was very appreciative and generous. The crew of the Crow’s Heart feasted well that evening.
This action, however, got around and it wasn’t too long before Justinius and Goodrite realized they had made an enemy. At one of the small island ports along the way, they got word that the small boat they fended off belonged to the pirate lord, Lord Seademon the Drowned. He was not happy with the Crow’s Heart and was planning to put a price on the captain’s head.
While in that port, the Captain and his crew were attacked by some agents of Lord Seadaemon. Justinius and his party were among them, disguised as crew. The fight was in the middle of a town square, and several civilians were caught in the crossfire. With the prowess of Justinius and his companions, they were able to fend off the pirates with only a few civilian injuries.
The Crow’s Heart left dock in a hurry.
The captain resented Justinius for ordering him to aid the Hawkwood freighter. Despite the assurances that his family would not leave the Captain unrewarded, the captain knew that he would have to deal with Seadaemon long after he dropped of Justinius. In a final attempt at diplomacy, he pledged that his family would hunt the pirate down and destroy him. This seemed to settle Goodrite a little. For the remainder of the journey, the crew was cold and unfriendly to Justinius and his entourage.
The Bay of Hakkonnen met with new challenges and obstacles. Duchess Catherine Hawkwood rules Jyvaskyla. She is a strong-willed stern ruler who built a strong military for her nation. She has a strong hatred of the barbarians, as her family was killed in the barbarian invasion years ago. She was unquestionably loyal to Hawkwood and to the Emperor and definitely not a fan of Baron Valdan Hawkwood and his province. Justinius fortunately knew her from childhood and although they did not agree on the issue of barbarians, they were close friends. She was a few years older, and knew all of Justinius’s brothers and in fact dated one of his older ones for a time.
Getting into the province of Thoule meant getting past her armada.
The battlecruiser Emperor’s Wing pulled along side the Crow’s Heart to inspect the privateer. Feeling her could trust her, Justinius chose to reveal his presence to the captain and asked to be taken to Hakkonen City, her capitol.
The Search for the Thoulian Liberation Front (TLF)
Stix and Braduk
Early investigation into the TLF found very little other than rumors and hearsay. What they were able to compile was that they were a scattered group of discontented serfs and commoners, ill-equipped for any major overthrow. They are labeled barbarian terrorists by Valdan’s enforcement arm and few question it as it is common to have barbarian terrorist groups in Jyvaskyla cities and towns.
Braduk and Stix knew they had to be the first to get to Biarma (Valdan’s citadel), to establish themselves in the underground and find the resistance. To find some one who does not like to be found was going to take time. Braduk was able to find a group of Scravers for the two to travel with. Scravers are the scavenger Guild, who tend to deal closely with the underground, including smugglers and the black market.
Stix and Braduk took the route most commonly called the smuggler’s route through Jyvaskyla. It took them from the outlaw port of Ulaskadyl to the shadow port of Gusk in Jyvaskyla. The journey would then take the two through the Blood Desert, a place of great mystery and feared by many. This is desert in the middle of the continent of Jyvaskyla. Many rumors come out of this desert. It is called the Blood Desert because of the oxidized red sand, remnants of the many industrial complexes pulverized over years of war, decay and natural disaster. There can be still found remnants of the Second Republic buried in the sands, but some secrets were best left buried.
Also rumored in this region is a changed cult. The intel the Imperial Eye shared said this was the cult that was similar to the Crystal cult but in fact, predated any report of the crystal-bearing disciples of the Master.
The journey to Gusk went uneventful. They accompanied the Sccarvers as hired hands and felt oddly welcomed amongst them. This was a simple life as compared to the one they had with the nobles Justinius and Jacob and the priest, Jonus. It harkened them both back to a life they missed and hoped to return to one day. There was nothing they longed for more than simple.
Heading across the Blood Desert, the Scravers acquired a few large desert crawlers with supplies. As part of the deal, Braduk and Stix would help with a particular scavenging job that took them deep into the Desert.
The target was a complex recently uncovered by a sand storm, said to be part of a military research facility for a lost corporation. Since it’s uncovering, it has recently been sending out a low frequency signal that a Scraver ship picked up by accident at one point. This team was sent in to investigate. They said it would be a quick in and out job. These guys were professionals and knew something of value when they saw it.
The journey through the desert was hard and hot. Avoiding radiation-laced sand storms as well as sink holes proved to be the first challenges, but not the only. Treacherous ruins with jagged girders hid in the sands and creatures beyond description roamed the dunes, obvious mutant Changed of unknown origins.
These scravers had been to this dance before. Most of these dangers they easily avoided and anything new, Braduk and Stix helped in their own way to avoid.
What they were not prepared for was the Blood Desert Changed Cult rising from the sands, armed with advanced weapons (probably scavenged from some cache), surrounding them in the night. After a short fire fight, and a few casualties, the scraver team was taken prisoner,
The Blood Desert Cult wore similar looking pendants to the crystal cult, except that these were gray and dull, not green and glowing.
They were brought before the Oracle, as they called him – a tall thin Changed with no eyes or nose to speak of, and a small mouth. He had small breathing holes above his mouth where his nose should have been. He had leathery skin, with a red rusty tint to it. He took Stix and Braduk aside and spoke to them exclusively.
“We are not your enemy. We are the followers of the Gray Crystal, and resist the Masters control.
“Long ago I heard him speak, awakened by some unknown force. It was faint at first, but through the ether I was able to feel him grow stronger. Then he met his disciples, drew them into his promise of life and hope. He sees chaos and must bring order – an order that will destroy all that we know. A pure order. A artificial order. He has been waiting for centuries, growing and evolving. He is so much more, so much more. He awaits you on a world orbiting a much larger world of clouds, at the end of a lost road. The Master awaits you.
“He sent crystal scouts years ago and one landed here. Damaged but not destroy, I traversed the sands to find it. It fought me, but I overcame it and extinguished its lifeforce. These are what is left of the scout”
He held up the grayed crystal-shaped stone.
“Forget the items the scravers seek. They have been found and will be put to better use.”
They blindfolded everyone afterwards and after a few hours, the group realized they were alone again. Freeing themselves from their bonds, the group recovered their gear, and buried their dead.
They found amongst their gear, however, an apparent offering for their losses – a case of old Republic artifacts apparently from the very military complex they were seeking. This satisfied those Scravers angry for coming out to the desert for what seemed to be nothing but death.
The remainder of the trip took then to the southern edges of the desert. Along the way, the scravers found more items of value making the trip worth it even more, although the loss of life seemed to loom in their minds as a price paid too high. Some even blamed Stix and Braduk, who were the only ones the cultist spoke to.
The Scravers gave the two mounts to take south to Hakkonen while they went further west. The trek to Hakkonen was going to be a fairly short trip, only a few days, so there was little to expect. It took them through some farm land and foothills, encountering small towns along the way.