- Plane Weaver
Messages are dispatched via trusted agents, officers and factors - those who are able to serve Rastaban loyally are summoned. They should prepare to confront the lawless chaos that is the False Empire and support our staunch and steadfast ally in the East, the Warlord Klein. Interested parties should report to representative of the Council Galen Telemere.
The prospective agents of the Council arrive for a briefing with Galen Telemere and are introduced to the troubling situation. They have received a communication from their tentative ally, the Warlord Klein (Mountain Diplomacy) - they have lost control over the 2nd Army of their ‘Coalition’. While this may normally be of little concern to Rastaban, apparently this 2nd Army is heading in the direction of Rastaban with hostile intent. The Council tasks Never, Quinn and Iri with finding out more about the situation, assessing whether a true threat is posed, and if possible eliminating that threat. Galen offers assistance to be delivered to them once they ascertain the tools they might need to counteract the 2nd Army, arranged to be delivered by the mysterious ‘Mole’, a specialized courier.
As the party travels East towards Klein they find troubling developments - a once-again organized and effective Empire and evidence of people somehow being turned into strange and unusual creatures, remade anew.
Meeting Klein they soon ascertain that the 2nd Army has gone rogue likely under the influence of a certain ‘Ala’ who may have subverted the leadership of Ducius and Amara. They learn that the 2nd Army is made up of a lot of the survivors of the 8th Legion of the Empire after their defeat by Klein, together with new warriors from Eustragath and a rag-tag bunch of volunteers for everywhere and nowhere. Although Ducius and Amara were trusted, under the sway of a possible cult of this ‘Firebird’ it seems that the 2nd Army aims to take their ideology further - not just the liberation of the people from the False Empire, but a strike at Rastaban. The real Rastaban!
With a trail to the 2nd Army, the party sets off in pursuit to learn more. As they attempt to catch up with it, they see more evidence of strange creatures reborn and recreated from the dead. They fight a sword melded from flesh that makes itself anew again and again and they are unable to truly vanquish, they are trapped in an eternal battlefield between Conflict and Erosion, endlessly remaking and renewing itself and though they escape, the fight continues.
They are briefly interrupted by an encounter with The Mole, a strange entity made up of multiple individuals that delivers sustenance and necessary items for their task ahead as contracted by Rastaban. Iri manages to successfully bamboozle The Mole for the Party to acquire two of the three items (rather than just one).
Approaching the 2nd Army they are finally confronted by Ala, whose image appears in a burning bush. She reveals her plan to utterly destroy Rastaban as the cause of much harm in these times and for it and its people to be remade and reborn into something new and better. Some of the party are convinced of a basic outline, but not the methodology and continue on, unsure of exactly how they will face Ala.
Arriving at the location of the 2nd Army, the party are able to convince the sentries that they are coming to bring a new convert to the cause. Although they are taken into the camp, Ala distrusts their intentions and calls for them to be tested against the 2nd Army’s soldiers. Unfortunately when the Sword Reborn burst out of Quinn’s pack, there is a certain amount of chaos and the Party takes advantage of that to use the Shroud they were delivered by The Mole to sneak further into the camp.
They find Ala guarded by Amara, the Marching Death, a great warrior from Eustragath and even after she is defeated once, she is reborn as a strange, terrifying (or beautiful?) monstrosity, focused on protected Ala.
Finally making it to Ala, they confront her immediately. Though she is slain once, she is born anew and rebirths her minions to fight the intruders. Vanquished a second time, Ala rises again as a true Firebird, burning whole swathes of the camp around her until she is finally destroyed. In the last moments, she threatens to explosively change again, but Never throws herself into an embrace to contain this new change. They are consumed in the conflagration, burned to ashes, but sparing those nearby, leaving behind only a large diamond. Mere seconds afterwards Never reappears in a flash of fire only to say “I think I am the Firebird”.
Stuck in the middle of the 2nd Army’s camp, the party tentatively move through before being confronted by the figure of Ducius, the sole survivor of the 2nd Army’s commanders. They discuss the state of affairs with him as Never’s position in replacing Ala as the Firebird seems confirmed at least in Ducius’ eyes. Though he does not seem content with either fighting an unknown or unfathomable foe (the Outsiders) or merely returning to support Klein he does accept that the Firebird may be right in a new goal for how rebirth and renewal may be achieved is yet to show itself. Quinn and Iri help reassure him that he may still find common cause with Klein and he eventually agrees to return to find a way to work with their former allies.
The Party are given free passage to leave and continue back to Klein who appears somewhat surprised that they were able to return the 2nd Army to the Coalition. He is prepared to offer personal favours but all agree that any word he can put in for them with Rastaban is more useful. They also suggest that Klein contact Magister Isabella to acquire some better expertise on Planar matters.
The Party returns to Rastaban and reports back to Galen Telemere and provide details of what transpired and underline the very real and very serious nature of the threat that the 2nd Army and the Firebird posed. Never is not hugely forthcoming on her exact changes, but Galen notes down the details of the adventure for the reports. He does question everyone on the use of two, rather than just the one items promised but everyone is silent on the matter much to Galen’s displeasure.
Quinn lets the Forresters Guild know of what transpired and spends some time recuperating with other members. She seeks out a Shaper to learn about the Diamond recovered from the Firebird and it is described as being a well-shaped item, but curiously missing something from deep within it, a part of itself. It is suitable for imbuing something with a quality however and Quinn agrees to set it in her staff.
Iri takes the Rod back to the Order of the Rod who are somewhat confused by its return having lent it to the Council for the benefit of the city. Nevertheless they see a way they can use this. Visiting the Order of the Shroud Iri suggest a visit to interrogate Quinn so that they can get a report on the mission that occurred. They visit her in the Guild’s library and after a questioning on the matters Iri makes a particular point of asking about the False Empire, their renewed organisation and the belief that the God-Emperor may have returned. The rest of Iri’s debrief is somewhat cryptic, but she does get the impression they favour her presence in the Rod.
Never speaks first to Grand Magister Isabella and relays most of what transpired and the concerning developments in regards to the Firebird and the Plane of Erosion. Isabella is somewhat skeptical of Never’s current state and what dangers she might pose as ‘the Firebird’. She agrees that her state must be monitored and suggest that if Never is out on a dangerous mission that might force a rebirth in her, she would send her out with one of the Dreamer skulls to be able to communicate with her and learn of any changes that might happen. Never then reports a much more truncated version of the events to the Order of the Torch and asks that she might be more involved to better shape the Order now that she is in even greater standing with Rastaban. The Order agrees.