Demigods in the Black Market!

Having completed the first stage of the quest to find the materials to forge a weapon to kill the nascent Titan, the Demigods made plans to check back with the shopkeeper, and his granddaughter, about what the team could expect in the trade district.  He, with much disapproval from his granddaughter, informed the team of what he knew of the trade district and mentioned that he had heard that the Yakuza had many rare goods they kept safeguarded.

Satisfied, the Hestia climbed aboard Tak Me and flew to the trade district.  The moved through the streets looking for any obvious Yakuza and rather brazenly asking passsersby where we could find them.  That quickly resulted in the team being surrounded by members of the Yakuza and directed to a nearby alley.

Once there, the Hestia informed these low level Yakuza that they wanted the ghost of little boy.  The goons were briefly hesitant, but the smooth words of Nick, Brock, and Jessica managed to sway them and they arranged to take the Demigods to the Yakuza's tower headquarters.

Being ushered to the top of the tower, the Demigods were introduced to an ancient and powerful yakuza ghost, who appeared to be the head of their organization in Yomi and implied some ability to step into any power vacuum that might arise in the underworld.  In the negotiations for little boy, the team made a fortuitous statement in voicing their distaste for the servants of Mikaboshi (despite the arrangement with Kane), and mentioned their previous fight with Titan cultists in Yomi.

That drew a response from the ancient ghost that the team was in the right mindset for the task the Yakuza would require of them to gain access to the ghost of Little Boy.  The Hestia were to face down the general of Mikaboshi in Yomi.  The ancient ghost provided transportation in rickshaws to a cave on the far side of the mountain where the Demigods had previously met with the Dark Mother.

Leander, using his powerful relic glasses, saw through the illusion the general had placed on his lair.  There was a deep cave with intensely dark tunnels.  These tunnels were quickly revealed to be magically darkened, much like the warehouse the Demigods had previously fought in, as no one could see despite their divine talents.

Brock, not willing to let this stop the team, began to glow with a brilliant light which allowed some vision, though it was far less powerful than it should have been.  Leander, not sure he could feel comfortable with that source of light as the only one, used his glasses to "see" via sonar.  Inspired, William stomped a foot on the floor and felt the echos in the earth which revealed to him the layout of the deep cave.  There were several large chambers in either direction and the team decided to move towards the right fork.

In the very first large chamber down that fork, an ambush was sprung.  Dark figures, nearly invisible in the dark, struck from all directions at the Demigods and the team was pushed to defend themselves.  Certain that the fight in the warehouse was related to events in the tunnels, Leander set out to find Mikaboshi's rune which powered the darkness.

Meanwhile, Brock was hit incredibly hard, knocking him back and creating a sprinkling of bright light.  Lha mo, for her part, grew to immense size and scratched at the walls and ceiling, ripping the rune of Mikaboshi on the cave roof to shreds.  Suddenly, light filled the space.

Jessica, ready to do her part, tossed a glowing, golden apple into the room.  Suddenly, the inky creatures that had been attacking the team were drawn to it, scrabbling and fighting one another in their attempt to gain control of it.  One of them managed to actually eat its fellow, but its victory was short lived as Rivkah smashed it through the floor.  The final inky being was similar squashed by Lha Mo.
one eats the other and then rivkah punches the other one into the ground.

Pushing forward, deeper into the tunnels, the team found ornate doors, seemingly sealing out the light.  The general of Mikaboshi, calling himself "The Void," beckoned the Hestia to enter.  The Hestia opened the doors, readying themselves for combat, and stepped inside.  He briefly tried to bargain, but the team informed him they were here to put him down.  As Brock shot at The Void to act on the threat, the shadows spread, dropping the room into darkness.

From that darkness, The Void punched at Brock, but missed and smashed into the floor.  Lha Mo grew once more, filling much of the room.  Brock shot at the darkness, but The Void had vanished back into the shadows clinging to the walls.  A moment later, as Leander calculated and the team tried to track their foe, The Void sent a spear of dark matter shooting down at Brock.  Rivkah dove into the way, deflecting the attack as Brock dodged away.

Suddenly inky minions jumped into the fray, the first among them leaping onto Rivkah, who spun and smashed it to the ground.  Another minion launched into Jessica, who shed her skin in absorbing its attack.  A third attacked Leander, who swatted it casually away as he barked orders to his compatriots.  Jessica, sensing a place to insert her powerful speaking skills, distracted The Void and the team launched their attack.

Brock fired a shot into the heart of the darkness, with a mighty swing of Foecutter by William and a rocky fist from Rivkah accompanying it.  Leander missed, but most of the attacks hit, doing damage to The Void, who disappeared into the darkness to regroup.


Terminus 12.8.13 The Grand Finale Part 1!

The No Pants Brigade decided to skirt the outside of the forge to reach the command chair, hoping that there would be fewer Beholders on that path.  We managed to avoid a lot of the enemy movements, but did come across a few Beholders blocking our route.

Meggido and Adah-kah moved in quickly and scored solid hits hits, seperating the Beholders from the less hearty members of the party.  Sardis and Sabriel struggled to connect with their own volleys, but Vallo did connect and used the chance to spur the party on.

A large purple Beholder moved in, managing to bypass Adah-kah and Meggido to advance on Sabriel and Sardis.  Meggido pulled him back, though, as one of the other Beholders temporarily petrified Adah-kah.  Sabriel got a solid shot off, bloodying one of the Beholders.  A cycle began in which the No Pants Brigade would score hits on the Beholders who repeatedly petrified the party.

Eventually the balance shifted, as Adahkah was able to pull the brown Beholder away as Sardis bloodied the purple Beholder.  The Beholders got a final burst of petrification off, but Meggido broke free.

Adah-kah used the opening to kill the brown Beholder and Vallo finished off one of the lesser Beholders.  Unfortunately, one of the Beholders scored a hit on Sabriel that put her on death's door.

The other party members teamed to rush the killing of the purple Beholder and stabalize the fallen Dragonborn.  They managed it, keeping Sabriel from passing away.

The team gathered themselves and readied for the final push.  Not too long later, the No Pants Brigade had reached the antichamber of the Warforged's Council Room.  Inside  the antichamber were three Beholders, one alive and two clearly undead.

Vallo pushed his teammates onward, getting Meggido into a place where the Warforged could pin the Beholders in a corner.  The party made quick work of them, with Sardis and Sabriel quickly crushing the living Beholder and one of the undead.  Adah-kah, slashed through the last remaining.  With a mighty heave, Meggido opened the door to the main chamber.

The Warforged rushed the room and got face to face with a large undead Beholder as Vallo sniped on of the small Beholders.  Behind the team, the three Beholders who had just been defeated rose back up.  They attacked, but Vallo sent one back to the grave as it tried to get at Adah-kah.

A large Beholder radiating an aura of death arrived as the team fought the lesser Beholders.  Vallo quickly showed the new arrival that he was unimpressed bu killing a blue Beholder and wounding a purple Beholder.  The large white Beholder attacked Sabriel, but couldn't put her down.  Adah-kah killed off the purple Beholder that Vallo had previously wounded.

Sardis added his own volley, striking the white Beholder with an acid burst before pushing him away in a booming of thunder.

He tried to move back in and get the last undead Beholder to help him, but Meggido kept it pinned down.  Vallo, Sardis and Sabriel weakened the brown Beholder that had been holding back and Adah-kah struck a killing blow on it. 

Sabriel killed the last of the small Beholders, and she and Meggido wounded the white Beholder.  He tried to retaliate, but the party manage to dodge the full assault.  Adah-kah, dogged in his pursuit, finished off the last of fhe undead Behilders and Sabriel put the killing blow to the white Beholder. 

Adahkah quickly moved to check the next room, spotting the wide hole created by the forced expansion of the Forge Fire.  Meggido, for his part, moved to the Command Chair and sat, immediately becoming linked to the Forge.  He locked the doors of the Forge to restrict the movements of the Beholders.  The Forge Fire began to whine and pulse and as the noise grew, and tge fire expanded, it became apparent something had just come through from the Beholders' world.  It settled back as Meggido continued his mental exploration.

Meggido closed and locked all open doors in the Forge, giving himself tge only passcode.  Meanwhile, Vallo began rebuilding the artifact the team had gathered.  With great care he completed it, prepping the team for their final assault.

Meggido was slightly stymied by not having the top level of clearance, but managed most of what he intended.  The party formed a plan to use Sardis' gateway to teleport closer to the main Forge Fire room as Meggido contacyed the Contruct which made Pseudo-Warforged we had seen months before in the forest.  The Construct agreed to send those empty vessels towards the Forge under orders to obey Meggido and the party and attack the undead and Beholders.

Now done with the Command Chair, Meggido rose and Sardis teleported the team down closer to the Forge Fire room.  The floor below, in the room above the actual Forge Fire, waited Beholders...

The party quickly dropped through and engaged them.  Meggido drew them all together.  A few minor blows were struck before Meggido was petrified and Adah-kah abjured the Beholder.  In response, it managed to lock down most of Adah-kah's skills.  It was enough, though, as Meggido, Sardis and Sabriel landed heavy blows to finish off the ghost.

In response, one of the Beholders tried to push Sabriel into the Forge Fire, but she rolled away, keeping from being burned.  This gave the team an idea and the slowly positioned their foe until Adah-kah could put him in range for Meggido to shove him into the fire.  He burned and the party dropped down another floor...


Demigods in the Harbor

Seeing that they were flying into certain death thanks to his glasses, Leander told Rivkah to turn the plane around.  She began to do so, but suddenly the plane was struck with mechanical issues. Nick and Brock noticed something scuttling about on the plane, and the occult knowledgable members if the group realized they were probably Gremlins given that this was a WWII era plane.

Rivkah managed to get the plane back into the defensive areas outside the Poison Sun Ward.  Unfortunately, the plane was still going down.  Rivkah did her best to slow the descent, but Brock decided to bail out, using his divine abilities to reach the ground stealthily and safely.  With a boost from TaK Me, Rivkah got the plane down with everyone in one piece.

After a moment, the Gremlins emerged, spotted by the eyes of a few in the Hestia.  Nick quickly befriended them and they crowded about their apparent new leader.  Almost immediately after that was resolved, several Japanese military officials arrived.  These individuals called the Demigods foolish for almost attempting to enter the Ward without protection, and then suggested the Demigods hurry and follow them to others who sought to strike into the Poison Sun Ward.

Leander signalled to the still-hidden Brock, whom one of the soldiers declared a great love of.  The group descended into a tunnel system, which may have been the sewer, and eventually came to an underground complex.  The team was led to a room and asked to wait.

After a short time, they were informed that another of their band had arrived.  Confused, they asked for this person to be shown in.  It turned out to be a beautiful Demigoddess.  She introduced herself as Jessica and suggested that she had come after a new portion of the prophecy had been revealed.  She also revealed her heritage as a daughter of Aphrodite.  At first, she was suspicious of Lha Mo, but the explanations of the other demigods managed to keep things civil.

After a time, the soldiers returned and explained that their intention was to aid the demigods in their strike, as they were part of a faction that disagreed with the decree that the Ward was off limits.  To that end, they were crafting a weapon and defensive gear.  That said, they introduced the team to the weapon maker... Muramasa!

While most of the group was unimpressed, William and Leander knew this was a big deal. Muramasa requested the Demigods retrieve four difficult to obtain items for him so he could create his weapon that could kill the God of the Last Breath.  First would be the Flame of Katagumi, which was within a giant carp in the harbor.  Second was a scrap of iron from the wall holding the Poison Sun Ward.  Third was the blood of a pure dynast.  And fourth would be the Ghost of Little Boy, created when the bomb fell on Hiroshima, which was rumored to be held by the Yakuza in the Great Market.

The Band, as was in character, headed directly to the Harbor, avoiding the small towns nearby.  They'd discovered, just before they left, that there were Ningyo in the Harbor which worshiped the great carp, and prepared for the potential of a fight.  Tak Me, who had spoken to Jessica, introducing himself and shocking the Hestia, flew the team to the Harbor, but there was no clear way to reach the carp once they'd arrived.  As a result, they asked Tak Me to fly them back to the Harbor towns, much to the yak's consternation.

The team began their search for information at the library, looking for information on the Ningyo and the carp.  They also checked on ways in which they could reach the carp's preferred swimming depth.  After a time, they moved on to a nearby shrine where they encountered the spirit of a deceased Scion who flirted with Brock a bit before directing the team to a nearby salvage yard where the owner was a frequent diver and collector of submerged artifacts.

With some flirting (to the consternation of the show owner's granddaughter!) by Jessica and a promise loot from William, the shop owner allowed the team to take three suits for Leander, Jessica, and Brock so that they could survive the depths where the carp lived.  Not wanting to waste time, the Hestia moved back to the waters and dove down deep.

After a time, they began to hear what seemed like singing.  It was the Ningyo going about their daily prayers and communicating with one another.  William used his skill with spoken language to translate and Brock used his newly developed singing ability, aided by  Nick's ability to call forth music, to introduce us as children of Hestia and therefore related to the carp's progenitor, who had become an avatar of Muspelheim.  The Ningyo agreed to take us to their leader.

Once there, the Ningyo tried to deny the Hestia access to the carp and hinted that they did not believe our story, flashing aspects of sharks in fleeting glimpses.  Brock had a mighty plan, though, and cut himself, focusing his divine heritage and the gifts of Hestia to cause his blood to ignite into brilliant flame underwater, fully convincing the Ningyo leader and shocking Jessica, who had had no idea that Hestia had blessed the others in the band.  The team was granted access and descended to the carp's domain.

Finding the carp was relatively easy given the fact that it glowed a fiery red in the dark ocean.  It seemed not to notice the band at first, so Lha Mo attempted pulling a scale off covertly.  When that failed, Nick tried talking to the fish and ordering it to give him an audience, but the creature had no sentience and so couldn't communicate it.  The problem was solved, though, when Jessica and Brock, at Leander's suggestion, gazed deeply into the fish's eyes, mesmerizing it.  Leander then directed the rest of the team to work together to cut off the tip of one of the carp's fins, with Rivkah hurling William to Lha Mo who caught him and redirected him so that he could strike with Foecutter.  Nick, deft of hand, caught the fallen fin.

Not quite sure if that would be enough, Lha Mo also swam inside the incapacitated fish's mouth and took a vial of blood.  William scooped up some nearby salvage and it was time to head back to the surface.


Terminus 11.24.14

When last we saw the No Pants Brigade, they were on a boat sailing around the main undead force on Celton.  The sea voyage was going mostly smoothly until we were attacked by a ship towed by a Beholder and manned by a group of headless yellow ghosts.

Fortunately, as is often the case, Vallo struck first.  He scored a solid hit and was able to launch Meggido onto the other boat.  Sabriel followed that up by spewing acid onto the enemy.

Meggido, true to his nature, quickly arranged the enemy into a postion where he could limit their movement.

Adah-kah, who had been holding his discomfort around water in, missed his next attack because he was more focused on moving safely than the attack.  Then the counter attack was on. The yellow ghosts tried to strike back, with one stabbing Sabriel.

The big damage came from the Beholder, though, who used his eye beams to attack everyone, including the crew of the ship transporting our heroes.  Charlie, a lesser crewman died in the assault and quickly rose as an undead horror.  He bit at Adah-kah and caused the Nekhanj to have a festering wound.

But the team had a secret weapon. Cornered and having grown into the adventures with his friends, Sardis unleashed a powerful magical assault, driving back his foes!

Unfortunately that paved the way for a disgusting swarm of secered heads, clearly seperated from the headless crew which had been the first wave of the assault.

Vallo and Sabriel were not phased, though, striking out to score big hits on the enemies.  Meggido reasserted his dominance, locking down the movement of the assorted creatures.  Having recovered his balance, Adah-kah joined the fray and delivered a big blow of his own!

The ghosts piled on to Adah-kah and Meggido, but the melee combatants were undeterred.  Sardis backed them up by firing an icy blast which rearranged the attackers.  Vallo used the moment to strengthen the resolve of Meggido and Adah-kah.

Sabriel viciously struck at the Beholder and the swarm of heads, which didn't work out as well as expected as the Beholder exploded in response, injuring the combatants.  Meggido quickly adjusted his positioning to stay in betweenhis teammates and the shifting threats.

Adah-kah, irritatedat having been bitten, crushed the risen Charlie and plannedto move on to another foe, but they had been cleared from the decks by his compatriots.  Quickly, the team inspected the enemy ship and then allowed it to sink, setting out once more to find a way to attack the Undead from behind.

It was smooth sailing for about another week until a large mass was spotted off to port.  Adah-kah usedhis keen eye to make out the features of the Forge!  The No Pants Brigade had inadvertantly found the portal the Beholders had been using to enter the world before the outsiders could drag it ashore.

Quickly the team formulated a plan to assault the Forge with the intent of speeding through the building to reach the Forge Fire and charge the device we'd assembled.  Once that was accomplished, an attempt would be made to cap the fire and close the portal.  To help in this, Vallo planned to summon great eagles which cpuld allow our boat to stay at a distance while we made our attack.

Quickly, we put the plan into action, taking to the sky and landing very near to one of the doors to the Forge. Several Beholders waited there and they managed to score a hit on Meggido and Sabriel as we landed.  They missed Adah-kah, but did manage to trip him up as Meggido bullied them into the positioning he found favorable.

Undaunted, Adah-kah lept to his feet and charged the Beholders, returning their attacks.  One of the Beholders, dubbed a Blood Kiss, managed to daze the party, but missed in directly attacking Adah-kah before hitting Meggido softly.

The Beholder tried to instill fear in Sardis, but shockingly, Sardis charged into the fray and magically coerced the Beholders to move to his liking.  Meggido used the opening to push closer to the doorway.

The Beholders made an attempt to blind Sabriel, but she struck back at them, causing them to retreat in fear.  The flaming Beholder tried to move back in and their reinforcements arrived.  It was too late, though, as the No Pants Brigade was already pushing their advatage.

Meggido slid the Bloodkiss Beholder out of the way, giving Adah-kah an opening to slay the flaming Beholder.  Vallo, Sabriel, and Sardis quickly added their own assaults, killing most of the smaller Beholders and further wounding the Bloodkiss.

The Beholder, having seen Adah-kah's assault on its ally, tried to use its eyes to stun the Avenger, but every attempt failed against the Nekhanj's iron will.  Sardis used the distraction to score a staggering blow and Vallo followed up with a daring strike of his own.

Meggido stepped in with his own major assault and bloodied the Beholder heavily.  The creature responded by lashing out wildly at the party, but couldn't stop Adah-kah from circling around to cit into him deeply.  Sardis and Vallo added further injury and Meggido and Adah-kah struck again one after another to send the Bloodkiss crashing to the ground in death.  And then it was time to enter the Forge proper...


Blizzcon: Heroes of the Storm impressions

I had the good fortune to head to Blizzcon this past weekend with a sizeable group of friends.  While World of Warcraft had some rather earthshattering announcements (the new player models are gorgeous and garrisons sound amazing), I felt the real star of the show was the StarCraft team's other baby, Heroes of the Storm.

Heroes is a MOBA in the style of DOTA or League of Legends.  As for why it's awesome...  Imagine Jim Raynor facing off against Diablo as Kerrigan fights Tyrael overhead and Nova throws down with Arthas.  Then add explosions.  Yeah.  That was the Heroes trailer.

I got to play Heroes (which was five vs five, player vs player format) three times during the Con, which was a decent amount given that the line was typically between 30 and 90 minutes long at virtually all times and I still wanted to see other panels and play other demos.  I played with friends each of the times, but mostly with friends we refer to as Thor and Loki.

In our first game, it took all of us a bit if time to get adjusted.  The controls were fairly straightforward, but knowing when to do things was tricky.  Similarly, we undervalued the objectives on the map.  In this first instance they were tributes to the Raven Lord.  We tried to get them when convenient, meaning the other team managed to get them and curse us semi-unopposed.  That was a big deal as it meant we had no sustained push during the curse and had to retreat to our towers.  We got the next curse and almost successfully pushed back to even things up, but our disorganization early on was ultimately our downfall.

We all stuck with the same characters in our three games (of which 2 had all three of us together and 1 had us with other teammates).  Thor took Abathor from Heart of the Swarm (sidenote: we kept unintentionally calling Heroes "Heroes of the Swarm"), one of the toughest and coolest heroes.  He was our support character, shielding us and slowing our enemies.  Loki took Diablo and used the lord of terror's area of effect fireburst and his directed charge to great effect.  He did a lot of our big damage.  I ppayed Stitches, the Abomination from World of Warcraft.  It took me a bit to master, but Stitches' hook was a great tool, allowing me to drag retreating heroes back to the jaws of death (Loki as Diablo, usually).  Otherwise, I played Stitches as an anti-hero defense to hold objectives and towers.

We originally picked our heroes with minimal coordination, only really discussing our roles (Assassin, Support, and Warrior for Loki, Thor, and myself respectively), so it was a fortunate circumstance that they felt like they synergized extremely well.  Abathor was perfect help for Stitches in the early game, providing extra survivability until I could get his levels up and choose health boosting talents.  Later in the game, Abathor provided Diablo the extra health and regen to be able to operate solo for long periods.  Diablo's charge and area of effect attacks also were great for cleaning up heroes pulled back or bunches up by Stitches.

We were able to use this to good effect in our second game as a team (I got one between these two with ither friends and Thor and Loki would get one later without me).  Learning from the first game, we focused on the objective: finding dubloons to pay Blackheart to bombard our foes.  As Stitches, I found myself playing around the spawning point of dubloon chests.  Diablo and our other allies (Uther and Sonya) would range closer to the enemy towers, but I made sure we were the ones with dubloons.

This resulted in us buying Blackheart's bombardment three times to the other team's one.  That alone was basically enough to earn the win.  A few times, I was able to face down three heroes alone and hold them just long enough for Diablo to arrive, usually just after my death, to clean them up with his powerful attacks.  Stitches' hook attack also was great for pulling foes off of objectives, forcing them to choose between fighting me or trying to run back to the objective with me breathing down their neck.

All in all, Heroes of the Storm was a great experience.  All of my friends agreed that the fast paced games and relatively intuitive controls helped the game feel easy and quick.  We're all signed up for the beta that is upcoming and can't wait to get back at it.


Leander: Gear Journey

Generally my Scion characters tend to start off with a lot of Birthrights based on the legends of heroes and gods in the same pantheon.  Often this results in a lot of Birthrights named after those figures.  For Leander, this resulted in things such as the Armor of Odysseus, Shield of El Cid, a spear called the Pallas Lonchi.

Other times, failing a similar story, I'll simply rely on translation.  In Leander's case, this ended up as the Taktiki Michani (tactical machine).  Other items, such as the glasses Leander got, have similar naming schemes (Iaptah, in this case).

But as Leander's legend grows it seems appropriate that the items he carries become more about who he is and less about who he was empowered by.  Leander uses his spear as a tool more often than not, using it to signal and gesture.  So as his power grows it's only fitting that it transitions from being named for his mother to being about what it is for Leander.  The best translation to transliterated Greek I can find for this is Tha Strati̱gós Tou, meaning "Strategist's Will."  The spear has become the extension of Leander's ideas and needs and the new name of it reflects the way in which others see it.

Similarly the Iaptah and Taktiki Michani, as well as the lock of illusion-cutting hair and mana-bead of the Atua, will eventually transition.  They'll become the four pieces of a Corinthian-style helmet.  The lock of hair will be the crest of the helm.  The Iaptah (renamed Warrior's Vigilance), will be a clear shield for the opening of the helm.  The Taktiki Michani will become the main piece of the helmet, though still able to become the iPad it once was, and be renamed the Defender's Codex.  The mana-bead will be relatively unchanged, but will sit at the center of the helm's forehead.  My intention is that each of the pieces could still separate and work, but that this Leander's preferred form of wear for them so that he can have quick access to them all.

I think Leander would make it well known that he was not the first to carry the Armor of Odysseus and Shield of El Cid, but would work to make it clear that he carries them and continues to use those names in order to honor the warriors he respects and used as inspirations for his own strategic style.

Hopefully, this will help make it more clear why each of these items are important to Leander's legend while still allowing him to honor his heritage.


A bit of linking

There's more coming here later today, but for the moment, I wanted to pass on a link to another blog I've got, where I'm working on a NaNoWriMo project (which is not, ironically, a novel).  It's focusing on a series of short pieces within a mythic cycle.


Some Musically Inclined Thoughts On Leander

Initially inspired by this post over on John's Scion Resources (which is a GREAT site to check out if you're playing Scion).

In thinking about music for Leander (and by extension Malena), I came up with a few things that would fit him pretty well and provide some insights.  One song that came to mind pretty quickly was AC/DC's Hail Caesar.  The lyrics remind me a lot of the potential intrigue happening behind the scenes for Leander with him being distrusted by Zeus.  After all, he's a piece of Athena... A male piece, which was also born of Zeus.  Which just might make him as much Metis' son as Athena's, and that might make him the son prophesied to overthrow Zeus the way Zeus overthrew his father.  Which Zeus is decidedly against.

Another clear choice for Leander is the Hyperion Overture from StarCraft II (well, more appropriately, from the trailers for StarCraft II).  It nods back to his hobbies and his strategic leanings.  It also has a rather triumphal and mythic feel to it, which is definitely more where Leander leans a lot of the time, given he's been on Olympus or acting as an agent of the Gods for a while.  I also think it has some tragic notes, which probably also fit well with Leander.

Madonna's Like A Virgin is also on the list.  If you've read the interaction between Leander and Malena, this is a fairly self-explanatory selection.

Celldweller's Hyperion fits pretty well, I think, with the battle between the Scions and Fafnir, with segments that match up with the different phases of the fight.  Similarly, Celldweller's Jupiter fits pretty well for those situations in which Leander steps up from the back lines and suddenly puts a lot of damage into someone.  It's rare, but the build in the music seems to fit so well with him suddenly blurring into action.

For Malena and Leander's relationship, I'd use Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's White Sandy Beach of Hawaii.  The lyrics speak of soothing dreams of a loved one, which I think is pretty much where Leander is at in that relationship right now.  I think Malena would probably be amused that I think the song that would work for her is Meredith Brooks' Bitch.  While I don't think of her as a stereotypical "bitch," I think her outspoken and forceful nature could easily get interpreted that way.  And she's rarely regretful or ashamed, but she's also very caring and kind when it's appropriate.

The game's theme song has long been the Russian cover of Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas, so both versions need to rate on this list.


Systems I Love: Fate Core

This probably feels like it's been a long time coming, if you've read things here.  I gushed about Fate Core's Kickstarter.  And then the Fate Dice Kickstarter.  I made myself in Fate Core after I got the PDF.  I redesigned a past DnD character for a now upcoming Warcraft Fate Core Hack and updated my previous Fate Supernatural Hack and Fate Rifts Hack characters.  My group played a one-shot Fate Core Pacific Rim Hack.  I raved about my love for my Fate Dice.  I think it's no real secret that Fate is my favorite system right now and that Fate Core's release has been a big deal for me and my group.  But I've been slow to review it.

Yeah, no one has a better cover than this.
That's mostly because I've been waiting until we were actually playing Fate Core on a regular basis to do so.  We haven't gotten there yet, as Scion is still finishing up.  But we've begun work on our Warcraft game, which will be in Fate Core and now everyone is right in the midst of going through the book to build their characters (and Evil Hat started up the Evil Hat Street Team).  Which brings me to my first major point about the Fate Core book:  it is beautifully laid out.

I'm not sure this is a fact that will get enough attention.  Fate Core is perhaps the best laid out RPG book of all time and definitely the best laid out I own (so shoutout to Jeremy Keller for fantastic work).  This is for two main reasons.  First, the book is easy to flip through quickly to find material.  This is because sections of material are logically and simply named as well as laid out in the order in which players and GM's are most likely to need them.  Any number of RPGs miss this simple concept and their books become much more difficult to navigate.  In Fate Core, I know intuitively that character creation should come after game creation and am rewarded with the material I need in the order I would expect.

The second key factor to the layout is the fact that the table of contents and index strike a good balance between being highly informative and not overwhelming.  The table of contents in Fate Core has more information than most RPG books do; having subsections listed under the major chapters of the book.  For example Character Creation has the subsections Character Creation Is Play, Your Character Idea, The Phase Trio, Skills, Stunts and Refresh, Stress and Consequences, You're All Set! and Quick Character Creation.  That's a lot of information, but each subsection title is fairly self-explanatory and it really best serves people who are looking for specific information, which will include most players getting ready for a game.  The index, unlike most RPG books, is fairly light.  It feels to me as if it focuses on terms not already covered in the table of contents, meaning it works well as a quick reference to the more obscure terms and rules of the system.  This balance means that I am provided with a large amount of information in a rather digestible manner, which makes the book quick to navigate.

Secretly the best page in the book.
Another huge score for Fate Core is that it is easy to read.  The language is simple, which all too many RPGs forget is useful.  Because the book is conversational, and so many subsections exist, it's easy to read quickly and find appropriate stopping points.  Sometimes when a book becomes too conversational, it can become easy to have sentences that look like they're informative, but don't give quite enough  information.  Fate Core seems to have avoided this pitfall through strong editing and the rounds of community feedback on the book.  I have yet to come across a point in which I had to re-read a section over and over to be able to tell myself "I think I get this concept."  In fact, it's helped me clarify a few of those points on older editions of Fate, allowing me to "get" some things that I wasn't quite sure of in the Dresden Files RPG.  Similarly, there are loads of game play examples conveniently placed after the most complex or important concepts of the rules, which speeds along the comprehension process.

Imagery is also a big help in making Fate Core easy to read.  There are tons of pictures in the book, giving readers a place to take a break.  And there is excellent use of symbols to help players remember and define the four major types of dice rolling actions.  This means that they can be used to recall that information at any time during examples or later rules discussions.  While it seems like a little thing, this is HUGE and greatly helps to cut down on flipping back and forth between sections of the book.  And if players do need to flip back and forth, the symbols make it easy to spot places in which the information they're looking for might be located.

Seriously, RPG publishers, do this. It's ultra helpful.
Outside of Fate Core, I have never read an RPG book cover-to-cover in order.  Fate Core changed this by providing an easy way in which to find rules and stopping points as I read through the book.  I also think the ease of reading for the book really couples well with the flexibility and openness of the system itself.  This has given my group, and I would suspect others, an added sense of ability to take the system to do whatever setting we might want.  My group has already discussed a fairly large range of game settings in Fate Core (from sci-fi like Rifts, Pacific Rim, or Stargate to fantasy like Warcraft to modern fantasy like Supernatural or the zombie apocalypse).  None of these seem like a stretch because the rules are flexible and it is easy to quickly navigate the book for the tools to put them together.  That's tough to beat.

As for the rules, they're pretty much Fate as it's been for years.  Players get four dice with blank, plus, and minus sides to them.  When players take an action that needs resolution, they roll those dice, count up the plusses and minuses then combine those with their values in various skills.  If the GM or player compels or invokes aspects, there might be shifts in that final number.  If the final number surpasses the target for success, the player succeeds.  Simple stuff really.  The real punch of the system is its ability to do anything and give enough structure to it that there's order to play but flexibility to allow players and GM's to attempt whatever they want.  It's clear that tenet carried over from the rules to the rule book, and coupled with Evil Hat's willingness to get their player community involved, it produced a great way to get both experienced and new players playing.

Truth in advertising.



The forest was quiet beneath the moon.  `Ilio leaned back on the koa wood throne he'd had made and gazed into the darkness, ignoring the whimpers of the girls chained to either side of his armrests.  His nostrils flared and his tongue darted out to lick at his muzzle.  Something was coming.  It stank of the Kin of Tāne...

Malena stalked through the darkened forest, cutting between ancient trees.  Two weeks ago, something had moved into this area, driving out the usual spread of hunters and tourists in the Molokai Forest Reserve.  A number of girls of all ages and young boys had disappeared from the towns on the island.  The two things were obviously related and Malena had decided to put it down with extreme prejudice.  Calls to past allies had yet to be returned, so she had set out on her own.

Her clothes, transformed to dark fatigues with an obsidian belt carved in the form of two eels biting the moon, rustled softly, but she moved slowly, trying to mask it with forest sounds.  It reminded her of the days she had Not that they were many; the birds and beasts had apparently cleared out, making it far more clear that the thing in the forest was not just a trumped up mortal.  Ahead, a twig snapped.  Malena froze.

A dark-haired girl rushed into view, crying breathlessly.  Not waiting a moment to consider, Malena broke her cover and sprinted to the child.  "It's okay, hoaloha, it's okay.  I've got you."

The girl sobbed aloud, then whispered, "But... My friends!  He let me go!  He has them!"

Malena grit her teeth in frustration.  "I'll come back for them.  I promise.  But you need to go home, now."

The girl sniffled and didn't move, so Malena scooped her up before retreating through the forest.  She headed for the hunter check point, where a ranger would be stationed.  He could take the girl and she could come back for the others.

`Ilio watched the Kin of Tāne go.  He delt sure he could take the woman, despite her blood.  She appeared unarmed and unarmored.  Her clumsy stalking in the forest would have given her away had he not been able to smell her from miles off. When she returned, he would take her.  He would eat her and return to the founding of his family.  The family that would rule Molokai and war on the Kin of hated Tāne.

Malena knelt over the spot where she'd found the girl.  The moon had begun its decent towards the west, which changed the shadows, but she was fairly certain she could make out the girl's tracks coming from the northwest.  She rubbed her fingers across them for a moment, trying to sense just what the girl had run from.

Rising, she stalked in that direction.  She shook her wrists, feeling the weight of the koa wood bracelets there hitting against the backs of her hands.  The night air was warm, making her clothes cling, and briefly she considered changing them to something more comfortable.

Ahead there was a clearing, moonlight pouring down on something polished and golden.  It look, for the most part, like a large chair, but two hooks protruded from the fronts of the armrests.  Malena paused a few yards back of the clearing's edge, watching and listening.

The Kin of Tāne pause, clearly afraid of entering the unprotected area of the clearing.  'Ilio snorted at her timidity.  He shifted his weight, creeping forward on the branch.  He hovered over her, waiting for her to look up at the sound of his breathing.  She didn't.

It dropped out of the trees at Malena, snarling maw descending towards her face.  Instinctively, Malena stepped backwards, letting her bodyweight shift and take her into a reverse tumble that brought her out from beneath the Titanspawn and back up into a crouch.  She smiled at it, toothy and wide.  It growled low in its throat and then spoke, "Kin of Tāne, I am the master of this place.  Leave and I will allow your bones to remain in your flesh for but a little longer."

She laughed in its ugly dog-like face.  "You've been watching too many Brock Landers movies, friend.  Where are the children you've stolen, hound?"

It growled again and darted forward, crouching low.  Malena leapt backwards, wrists coming forward in a snapping motion.  Her bracelets slapped against the backs of her palms and then flowed forward, forming into the familiar shark-toothed weapons she called Ukupanipo's Bite.  She spun, slashing out at the charging Titanspawn, who stopped short as it registered the weapons' appearance.

'Ilio circled, newly wary of the girl who'd come to face him.  He'd thought, given her relative clumsiness in coming through the forest, that she would be an incapable fighter.  Her sudden response to his attack had changed that perception for him.  He changed tactics.  "I've eaten all the children.  They were delicious.  Would you like to weep over their bones before I eat you, too?"

Malena grinned at the Titanspawn.  "Darling, the only way you'll make me weep is by your stench.  I know they're alive.  The girl you lost told me as much."

"Ah yes, the bait."

Malena pivoted as he stalked circles around her, keeping her right hand and the weapon there trained on the center of his chest.  "You're a descendant of Kaupe, no?  I heard your kind have no control, chasing after women like dogs in heat.  Trying to create more of your filthy kind."

"Are you offering to take their place?"  Malena danced right as he feinted towards her left.

"In your dreams."  She returned her own feint, watching as he guarded low as she took a sharp step forward.  And then all her tactical scheming ended as he doubled in size.  She backpedaled, her clothing twisting into a full set of tactical infiltraition gear.

'Ilio grinned, more like a dog's corpse rictus than any semblance of actual pleasure.  He lumbered towards the Kin if Tāne, clawed hands flexing.  I wonder, he thought, what a crossbreed of one of her kind and one if mine would be.  The strength of such a being...

Malena recovered, shaking herself to break fron the fear.  Boundibg forward and under the Titanspawn's outstretched arms.  Lightning quick, she struck at his solar plexus, driving the air from his lungs and ripping his flesh.

But it swatted her away like a fly and flex its midsection, revealing unbroken skin.  Malena's eyes widened in horror.  She scrambled for any inkling of a plan.

'Ilio laughed to himself as the girl turned and ran.  She bounded into the forest like a frightened rabbit and he was all to happy to oblige and play the role of hungry wolf.

Malena could hear the child of Kapue hot on her heels.  She dodged around trees and leaped a fallen trunk, all the while heading north.  A low hanging branch threatened to block her way, but a right cross burst it into a splintery explosion.  She pressed on.

'Ilio could smell the woman's fear.  It was aromatic and delightful, promising him months of enjoyment before her usefulness was expended.  He pounded on, focused, growing closer, ever closer, to his prey.

Malena heard rushing wind and water and pivoted abruptly to her left and sprang forward.  The Titanspawn was mere inches behind her, but with all his bulk, he couldn't turn as nimbly as she could.  He charged into open air, legs still pumping like a cartoon and begun to plummet.  Malena crept to the edge and looked down after him.

'Ilio howled at the Kin of Tāne as she gazed down at him.  He cursed her and her parentage.  And then all was black.

Malena watched the surf for signs of the Titanspawn surfacing, but after twenty minutes there was nothing.  Satisfied, she turned back to the forest to go and find the kidnapped children.


Malena Character Sheet

While Malena isn't likely to be played at the table beyond brief stints as an NPC, the fact that my fiction has likely made her GM plot hook fodder means I'd like her to have stats, so I'm taking a chance to do that and give a bit of a bio for her.

Full Name: Malena Haumea
Aliases: -
Calling: Defender of Children
Nature: Gallant
Pantheon: Atua
Divine Parent: Hina
Strength••••(x)(x) Charisma •••(x)  Perception•••(x)(x)
Dexterity••••(x)(x)(x) Manipulation ••  Intelligence•••
Stamina•••••(x)(x)(x) Appearance ••••(x)  Wits•••••(x)

Academics ••
Animal Ken ••

Art (Dance) ••
Athletics •••

Awareness •••
Brawl ••••

Control (Car) 

Empathy ••
Fortitude ••
Integrity •••

Medicine ••
Melee ••••
Occult ••
Politics ••
Presence •••
Stealth ••

Survival ••

  • English
  • Hawaiian
Ukupanipo's Bite ••• - Paired koa wood beaded bracelets with a shark tooth inlaid on the largest bead.  They transform into Ku'eku'e Lei-o-mano, a sort of round knife which fits over the knuckles of each hand.  These provide access to the War, Water and Guardian purviews and enhance Malena's speed in combat and deal extra damage.

Na`au holokū ••• - This garment, assumed to originally be a holokū style dress given its name, can change  its form to become any normal style of clothing.  However, there is a catch.  Somewhere on these clothes must be a representation of the moon and eels.  Malena frequently makes these prominent, but has been known to wear a long black dress with eels gripping the moon as the clasp at her neck.  This dress provides the stats of heavy clothing and access to the Moon, Animal (Eel), Illusion, and Prophecy perviews. 

Anuenue puka • - An anklet of puka shells providing access to the Fertility and Health perviews, each shell in the anklet appears white on first glance, but each shimmers faintly with a different color of the rainbow.

Hōkū Honu Isle ••• - This Terra Icognita was gifted to Malena by her mother upon Malena's ascension to demigodhood. It sits on the site of the Detroit Seamount and comprises the area that island comprised before it collapsed and sank into the sea.  Malena has a large compound just inland from the eastern shore of the island.  The compound never existed on the island when it was above the waves, but is built in the style of a 1940's military base and hospital.  Sea turtles frequently arrive on this beach to lay eggs.  Unbeknownst to Malena, the volcano on the eastern half of the island has a fallen star at its core.  The island is inhabited.

Honukane •
• - When sea turtle eggs on Hōkū honu hatch, they generally birth mundane sea turtles, but on the night of the full moon, they birth ethnically Hawaiian humans with green hair.  These individuals stay on the island to tend to its vegetation and protect the volcano.  While most operate independently, a group of them have adopted Malena as their leader and serve to maintain and protect her compound on the island.

  • Ku'eku'e Lei-o-mano - as hadseax ACC:1 DMG: 2L DEF: 0 Speed: 4
Know Tapu
Warrior's Mana
Animal Communication
Animal Command
The Subtle Knife

Assess Health
Blessing of health?
Water Breathing
Water Control
Changing States

Warrior Ideal
Green Thumb
Toxic Thorn
Hero's Mana

Declare Minor Tapu
Unseen Shield
Silver Blessing
Mana •

Health ••
Water ••
Water •••

War •••
Fertility ••

Health •••
Moon ••

Willpower •••••••


  • Holy Rampage (Str)
  • Untouchable Opponent (Dex)
  • Body Armor (Stam)
  • Benefit of the Doubt (Cha)
  • Subliminal Warning (Per)
  • Armor Crusher (Str) (bonus points)
  • Perfect Partner (Dex)
  • Holy Fortitude (Stam)
  • Omnidexterity (Dex)
  • Under Pressure (Stam)
  • Social Chameleon (Wits)
  • Environmental Awareness (Per)
  • Knockback Attack (Str)
  • My Eyes Are Up Here (App)
  • Spatial Attunement (Per) (bonus points)
  • Widespread Appeal (Cha) (bonus points)
  • DV: 20
  • Join Battle: 8
9 Bashing
7 Lethal 3 Aggravated 
3B1 L
Legend •••••
Legend Points: 25/25
  • Total: 80
  • Spent: 77
  • Remaining: 3
Malena was born in the town of Kaunakakai, Molokai, Hawaii.  Her father, Ano, was among the last workers at the Kalaupapa colony working with sufferers of Hansen's Disease.  As a young man, he taught the children of the colony, and his own parents were doctors serving the colony.  So perhaps it was no major surprise that the goddess Hina was drawn to Malena's father.

She left not long after her daughter's birth, but a few days later a young woman called Nalani arrived at Ano's home.  She claimed to be Malena's half-sister, born a number of years earlier than the child and sent by Hina to care for the girl.  Despite his initial resistance, Ano consented and treated the girl like a daughter.  Nalani told Malena stories every night, recounting the history of the Atua and telling the child her mother was the goddess Hina and that she was chosen.

This gave Malena a rather driven personality, with the young girl never afraid to speak her mind and pushing boundaries.  She was a bit of a tomboy at times, but still managed to have many of the local boys wrapped around her finger.  None of them stood much of a chance, though.  Malena knew none of them was her equal.

At 15, Malena was Visited by her mother and tasked to do as Nalani had done for her.  She went to live with a man named Palani and his newborn child, Grace.  Nalani, feeling unprepared to move on, stayed to care for her adoptive father.  Malena cared for her sister as she had been cared for, teaching her to dance and to tell the old stories.  And on some nights when Grace was cared for by his father, a mysterious girl would be seen on the streets, saving children from those who would prey on them.  As she grew, Malena took on bigger and badder targets, breaking up child labor and catching predatory adults.  And 15 years later, Hina Visited once more.

Grace went to care for the next sister, continuing the cycle.  Ready to at last enter the next phase of her life, Malena threw herself into the war with the Titans. Wherever children were threatened with slavery, injury or death at the hands of Titanspawn, an avenging angel descended.  In whispers, they told their families of their fierce savior, like a Polynesian warrior woman of old.  And so Malena's legend grew.  She dated other Scions, finding them closer to her peers, but she never felt they quite measured up.  She ascended to demigodhood after defeating a descendant of Kaupe who had attempted to set up a barony in the forests of Molokai.


Darkness Warm and Sweet

(Warning: Adult, but not strongly so, situations to follow)

Leander sat near one of the torches impaled in the sand every few yards on the beach.  Before him tropical waves darted in and out of the edge of the firelight, twinkling.

He sighed, hearing the soft crunch of the fine sand beneath a light step.  For a moment, his hand went to his belt, to the buckle there that could be a spear with but a thought.  His other things were stowed in the provided bungalo the Atua had provided him; here, in the heart of Au-ruroa, there should be no need of them.  Without turning, he said, "No use trying to hide Malena.  I know you've been sent be Pele to bring me back."

"She's done no such thing, Lee.  I'm here for me," retorted the Atua demigoddess as she crossed into the Son of Athena's view.  A child of Hina, Malena was lovely.  She was tan and dark of eye and hair, and built along athletic lines moreso than buxom like some of her half-sisters.  Both graceful and forceful described her as she moved down the beach.  If Leander was honest, he thought he might be more than casually infatuated with her.

He smiled at her.  "Oh really.  I haven't seen you all night, but if I do, I'll let you know that you're looking for you."

She laughed, standing in front of him, hands on hips and head back.  Involuntarily, his gaze traveled up her bare legs, to the short sundress decorated with a stylized picture of the moon above a sea full of eels.  Leander wasn't quite sure, but he felt like it moved each time he didn't focus on it.  And then, suddenly, it was all he could see as she moved in close.  After a dizzying moment of the moon inches before his eyes, she dropped onto his lap, straddling his legs and face close to his.

"Now do you understand, you foolish Greek?" she asked, locking eyes with him.

"I'm really more of an American," Leander responded, not looking away.

She laughed again and leaned in, kissing him furiously.

When he was freed and had caught his breath, he asked, "What exactly are you looking for out of this night?"

She ran a hand through his hair.  "Well... you're leaving tomorrow.  I thought I'd give you something to remember your new family by..."

Leander smile, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close.  "Oh really."

She nipped at his nose.  "Stop playing hard to get, foolish boy.  I know you're as interested as I am."

She wriggled atop him and he had no recourse to deny her words.  He sighed again, having known this moment was coming.  "You're right.  Absolutely right.  But I can't."

She frowned at him, leaning back.  "Why not?  We're both adults.  You've been adopted by my pantheon, so there's no political issue."

He looked at her, waiting until her eyes met his to continue.  "I've never told anyone this, before.  I've gotten to this very moment...  Well, more than once.  But I've never gone past.  I can't.  Because I'm leaving.  I'm always leaving.  Sometimes something comes in the way when I think I'm about to move past this moment; fate's way of reminding me, I suppose, that this isn't for me, yet.  I have responsibilities to more than myself.  I can't allow myself to form the attachments that would prevent me from fulfilling them."

"Leander Adrastos...  That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard."  She leaned in against him.  "And, in some ways, it just makes me more determined.  Let fate stop us!  Let it try!  We'll have our fun over its objections."

He breath was hot on his neck as she moved against him, clothes still separating them.  His hands clenched in her dress, pulling her closer, ever closer.  He buried his face in her hair, drinking in the scent of her, like seafoam and coconut.

And so he didn't see the wave coming until it washed over them.  The force of it pushed them apart and washed the torch away, quenching its flame.  She tumbled away, writhing and turning to rise up in a crouch, moon playing off her skin and hair.  He looked at her as if to say See?

She laughed again.  He loved the sound.  It was, perhaps, one of the largest parts of his affection for her.  She looked the skies above, calling, "Okay, fates.  You may claim him a little longer.  But soon or late, I'll be able to walk his path with him, and you won't stop my claim then!  He will be mine!"

She stalked back towards him, eyeing the waves as if she expected them to push them apart again. Leander laughed.  "And you mine."

She smiled, and knelt to kiss his forehead.  "Of course."

He smiled and kissed her hand.  "But tonight, we can at least sit together."

Other posts on Scion and Leander.  Related recap.


Demigods in the Underworld

Other posts on Scion and Leander.  Last recap.

A little retconning to follow up on last session...  Lha-mo has the ring and Nick didn't disappear,as his player was able to come back.  He hit on some Atua, which is as it should be.

When last we saw the Demigods now known as the Hestia, they had been asked to go into two different underworlds at the behest of two very different individuals owed favors by various members of the band.  Nick and  Brock filled in a few more of the details of the task set to them by Kane and the rest of the team discussed how they might need to delay their trip to rescue Agwe's daughter Genevieve.  Leander pointed out that it was likely that they could travel from Yomi to Guinee by finding a large body of water and diving straight down into it.

Ultimately, the band decided they needed to push on to Yomi first and informed Skulldug and the crew of Genevieve's ship that they'd have to stop there first.  They set out, following a compass that would lead them to Guinee until the ship suddenly turned and dove into the water (it's amazing Brock didn't talk about almost being in Pirates of the Caribbean) and emerged into Yomi.  On the horizon, there were several villages, some looking like ancient Japanese fishing towns and others like their more modern counterparts.  The Demigods directed the crew to bring them to one of the more modern ones, in particular looking for one that would have been built near the time that the atomic bombs would have been dropped on Japan.

When the Scions arrived at the village, they were a spectacle, not likely helped by the fact that once they were off the ship it transformed into sand which flowed into a pouch which had appeared on Leander's belt.  Quickly, they were confronted by a dignified ghost which began to yell at them in Japanese.  At first, none of the Hestia could understand them, but their divine heritage helped both William and Nick to learn the language quickly.  They discovered he was telling them that the Demigods don't belong.  Eventually, he stormed off.

Soon thereafter, the band was approached by another individual, younger and more modern.  He spoke to them in English and stated that he was a big fan of Brock's work.  He warned of the Shikome and invited the band to a place where they could discuss how thinks work in Yomi.  Unfortunately, he led us to a shady warehouse and after the band entered, they discovered the people inside were worshipers of Mikaboshi.

They discussed how the traditions of the ghosts of Yomi were keeping them from having a happy afterlife and how the Shikome would ravage them at any provocation, saying that Mikaboshi had promised them release from their pain.  Rivkah, speaking for most of her friends, told them they were fools and the fight was on.  Supernatural darkness flooded the warehouse and the Hestia went to work.  Unfortunately for the Titan-worshipping ghosts, they were rather weak and the Demigods were filled with divine righteousness.  They fell in droves as, outside, a high keening began.

As the Titansworn were routed, the  symbol of Mikaboshi was cracked in two and the darkness faded.  Then it became clear that the Shikome were coming to put down the fight with extreme prejudice.  Thinking quickly, Nick transformed himself into a visage very similar to his own, but with Japanese features.  He directed the Shikome towards the fleeing Titansworn and they passed by the Hestia without incident.

From there, the Demigods scouted the surrounding landscape, spotting the various villages and a large market city, as well as the Poison Sun Ward and Yellow Spring Mountain.  After considering for a moment, the Demigods decided to head to the Yellow Spring Mountain to attempt to gain permission for their mission to the Poison Sun Ward from Inzanami.

After a relatively short journey, the band arrived at the foot of the mountain, to find a great line arrayed before a striking woman, like a giant Shikome of both terrible visage and immense grace.  This, then was the Dark Matron of the Shikome.  Clearly, the line was avoiding approaching her, but when the Hestia voiced their intent to do so, those in the line, muttering about "her mood," pushed them to the front.

Leander hurriedly dredged up all he could recall of Japanese etiquette and briefed the team.  The Hestia decided to make a gift to the Dark Matron and Inzanami a gift of one of the fire-resistance charms they'd had made by Athena.  Nick prepared a speech to convince the Dark Matron of the team's need to head into the Poison Sun Ward.

The discussion went well, overall, because the Dark Matron did not decide to unleash her Shikome upon the Hestia and promises to "forget" that the band had approached her to ask permission.  The Ward was offlimits to all, including the soldiers of Yomi.  Inzanami remained distant.  As the Demigods left, the Dark Matron ordered her Shikome to slaughter the assembled crowd, so as to prevent there being witnesses to her "forgotten" discussion.  It took an act of will for Leander to turn his back on the slaughter.

The Demigods began, from there, the long walk towards the wall around the Poison Sun Ward.  After quite a few hours, including Leander riding Tak-me, they began to approach a large area with an airfield surrounded by military buildings and Edo period fortresses.  The Hestia hunkered down for a moment, to discuss their plan.  It seemed like the military would be unlikely to support their attempts to cross the wall, so instead, the strategy was to steal a WWII era bomber and fly over the wall to face off against the infantile Titan.

As the band discussed, a jeep with several Japanese soldiers emerged from the base travelling down the road toward the markets.  The Demigods emerged from hiding and Nick managed to bluff them into giving him their jeep, which the team turned around and headed towards the airfield.  Rivkah, driving, used her divine speed to breach the perimeter in the blink of an eye and then the Hestia hustled onto the bomber they'd sighted.  Rivkah got it airborne and provided it with the same divine speed enhancement as the jeep.

It was slow taking off, and the alarms of the base went off.  Anti-aircraft fire went off, tearing a hole in the plane as Leander gathered parachutes and switched his glasses to detecting radiation.  And then the team was over the wall and gazing down onto the poisoned streets of the Ward.


Terminus 9.29.13

In the morning, the No Pants Brigade and the Nekhanj prepared to set out, with the Nekhanj speaking of clearing the entrance to the tunnels that would lead them south and the fact that it would take them a couple of weeks.  While the discussion was going on, the group received an SOS call from Gronton, whom they hadn't seen in quite some time.

The stalwart Minotaur sailor had been scouting along the coast of Celton along with other concerned captains from the nearby area and had seen the undead make attempted crossings to Brenna.  Most of these had been foiled by the coastal towns on the mainland, with the added aid of captains who managed to end sea travel to the island nation, depriving the undead of their source of ships.  But things had changed.

The dragon Krathnaraz had joined the fight, bringing flying undead and their Beholder allies to attack the coastal defenses from the air.  This had decimated these defenses, leaving the coast more open for an attack.  Meanwhile, scouting ships had discovered that there was a new invasion fleet, massive and full of undead, prepping,  The undead had built crude but large rafts which were being towed by Beholders and loaded them with hundreds of undead soldiers.  Soon, it seemed, these undead would sail to the mainland, which was now unready to repel them.

One of the last bastions of defense was the town of Polenta, which is where Gronton was asking for aid to come.  The party decided that they'd have to separate from the Nekhanj to get their in time and made preparations to do so.  Once the threat at Polenta was solved, their intention would be to push onto Celton and make for the Forge, to close the gateway which allowed the Beholders to cross into their world.

Vallo summoned flying boars and the party set out, flying rather uneventfully to Polenta.  But that changed once they neared the town.  Quickly it was apparent that the town was under attack.  An immense white dragon had landed on the docks and was rampaging through the town's defenders. Using the boars, the party got in fairly close before launching their assault.

Meggido moved in first, pulling the dragon towards himself and then Adah-kah unloaded with divine wrath, rocking the dragon.  Sardis and Sabriel followed up with theirown powerful attacks, getting the No Pants Brigade off to a good start.  Adah-kah hammered the dragon again with a critical strike, but that's when things started to go downhill.

Krathnaraz began to use his draconic power to stun the party, then dealing massive amounts of damage.  The party was able to get a few more hits in this period, but eventually the dragon put Adah-kah on death's door.  Vallo delivered timely healing, though, and got the Nekhanj back on his feet.  Once more, the party began to trade even blows with the dragon, though Krathnaraz was able to hurt Meggido more than the Warforged had been hurt in quite some time.

Still, the party appeared to have the upper hand and Krathnaraz made ready to escape.  Unfortunately, for him, the No Pants Brigade had other plans, and put him down before he could get airborne.  Upon a quick inspection, though, they discovered that one of his heel spurs was missing, likely taken by Samuria so that she could resurrect her ally should he fall.

The party moved on to another town, hoping to at least delay Samuria's discovery that they'd re-entered the fight against her and her undead forces.  Once there, the party notified Gronton of their location and asked him to come and meet us.  He came, and learned of recent events, including the plans of the Nekhanj.  In return, he gave the party the information he'd gathered in his time scouting, including the fact that undead have begun to count fallen Beholders amongst their number.  That gave the party something to think on as they prepared for their journey to Celton to find the Forge.