The Wedding of the Age

"To Sacrifice a Cheese"

They had tasted of sin and decadence. Cormorant had never tasted anything like it. Freedom. Jade. He had to have more.

Dau was talking on and on to a group of half dressed sycophants, telling a joke that the Captain felt he had heard a thousand times. Cormorant tried to listen, but his nose caught a whiff of delectable Cheese and his feet followed.

He lost the sound of Dau’s voice in the general roar of the crowd, but his mouth ached for another delectable morsel.First Cormorant followed server around, approaching the hapless young woman from various angles and always pretending it was for the first time.

“Cheese stick sir?” She would say, habitually smiling.

“Hrm. I suppose.” Cormorant took one.

“Cheese stick miss?” She would say to someone else.

“Oh, could I try one of those?” Cormorant slurred from off her shoulder, reaching out and plucking another from the tray.

“Cheese sticks?” She would coo over a crowded table full of Lina’s family.

“Oh, give one here then.” Cormorant piped up from among the tables’ assembled

When her tray had been emptied, Cormorant followed her back to the serving area deftly switching out trays until his pockets were full of cheese sticks.

Now that he felt he had a sufficient hoard (He didn’t want the cheese to make his pockets too gooey) Cormorant took a moment to pluck one from his pocket.

“Cormorant! We have a problem. Lina’s gone. So is her husband.”

Sedulous quickly swallowed the remaining cheese in his mouth, “They’re newlyweds. Of course they disappeared.”

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Ransom

The six made quick work of the the dozen men responsible for desecrating this once blessed day. Realizing they were outmatched, the foes routed but were effortlessly rounded up by the peerless speed of Sedulous Cormorant. Skilled interrogation by Marquis de Dau and Righteous Justice led to the discovery of the worst: Lina and Krumr have been abducted, and that the abductors want the Harlequin Bird returned to them. Also:

  • The Liberators are the group responsible.
  • Sedulous’ Six have 36 hours to bring the ship, before bad things start happening.
  • The trade will happen in the village of Sajag, due west of Palanquin
  • No funny stuff.

The group decides to continue interrogation while en route. One particularly forthcoming victim let out some information about The Liberators that the party can use. Almoldo, the shotcaller for The Liberators, is known. Knowing more about him will provide a chance of getting back the newlyweds unspoiled. A chance that diminishes as they learn more about their enemies’ brutal behavior. Is the right move to respond in kind? What other option is there?

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Arrival at Sajag

The group arrived early in the morning to find the sleepy village of Sajag. The Liberators might easily be defeated by the Solars, but their actions might have little effect on the organization’s overall plans. Retaliation could mean the end of Sajag when the circle left. Instead, the group warned the town of the roaming pirates. Through their efforts, the town’s men were trained to defend themselves when the slavers arrived today, but more importantly, for if they returned.

The Liberator ship appeared on the horizon, but rather than dock as expected, they opened fire on the town. Justice routed the troops into cover as Cormorant and Cobb took to the seas to meet the ship. The commotion onboard distracted the crew, the shelling of the island slowed down and the troops were able to take point again. The ship finally arrived at the shore and the battle spilled over onto land.

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The Battle of Sajag

The Red Rover met the shore of Sajag with a thunderous clap. Slavers poured from the ship to storm the small island. Today was to be a glorious day for the Liberators.
Chief Cobb stood atop the now grounded ship, standing between men and their plunder. They rushed the cook, who rose to greet them. Flashes of steel reflected the Sun’s rays about as his knives ripped through the group as though they were nothing more than perfectly cooked steak. Where men once stood, bodies now laid.
Cormorant leaped from the bulwarks in chase of any squad that dared exit onto shore. Spear met with sword and shield. His feet danced on the beach as the tides ebbed and flowed around his boots. Liberator blood mixed into the waters before the first waves crashed.
On shore, a battalion thanked whichever gods were watching over them today, for they had made it onto land avoiding those they now knew were no mortal men. The only person in sight was an old man. He may not fetch much on the market, but it was only their first catch. But they had no time to retract their gratitude before fists, as strong as they were old, flurried about, knocking into each man.
The Liberators stood little chance this day. Those slavers that were not felled by the Chosen of the Sun were quickly routed by the villagers, men who were ready to defend their homes.
Things moved quickly after the battle. The fallen were ignited in flame one after the other, leaving nothing behind. Any survivors were taken back to the ship. Huts laid in ruin, but they would be rebuilt. The words of the Solars stayed with the village. They would stand ready for whatever challenge laid for them just beyond the horizon. What had been the greatest battle for Sajag had been just another stop for their Solar friends.

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Zaftig Sunday

The towers of the Liberator island appeared to peak over the horizon in the eyes of the Solar heroes. If they were here, Marquis de Dau and Sedulous Cormorant could easily recovery Krumr and Lina. But there was no doubt that the Liberators would continue their terror either way. Tomorrow they would descend on another town. If the circle could gain entry, their crimes could be ended permanently. Access would be little of an obstacle for the two Night Castes. But the endeavor would require the whole Circle

Righteous Justice felt Cormorant was almost too at home selling him into captivity. Cormorant dawned not only the clothes of the Liberators, but seemingly their whole attitude. A voice not of his own came from his mouth peppered with words and jargon of a veteraned slaver. Justice was pushed and prodded into the squalor of the indentured. Had Cormorant not smuggled in his armor, Justice would have sworn he actually had been sold by his companion. He meandered the slums for some time. The number of people greatly outweighed the capacity of the burg. They were crammed into the decaying buildings. Their faces downtrodden and tired. Of them all, one stood out to Justice. Though he did not know him, the visage was familiar: a man advanced in age but with a spirit that was yet to be broken. Justice sat down with the man outside a crumbling building. He was eager to share his story, it was all he had left. He was of little use to anyone anymore, and the chance to be of service again seemed to ignite a spark within him. He was a wealth of knowledge to Justice. His age had kept him from labor, so he was commonly put to work in the Liberator compound. Even he was able to notice the chaos in the organization. Their were less men to do more work. Something was worrying his captors. The Sun continued to drift over their heads as the old man shared his stories with Justice.

Inside the compound, The Marquis de Dau walked the halls as if he had sauntered through them a thousand times. The confidence in his stride convinced every soul in the room that he was right where he belonged. Chef Cobb shambled behind him as another slave to be sold The Liberators were less excited about having a master cook in their imprisonment than they both had expected. He was sensing the same disorder in the group. This hiccup brought out mixed emotions in the Marquis. He would have to change the plans on the spot, but any disruption and turmoil for the men who had taken his daughter brought out a sense of satisfaction in him.

As much as Dau blended into the dingy corridors of the compound, the drab lifestyle of the Liberators was not of his own. His body strolled among the halls yet his mind raced. He took in everything. Faces passed him on either sides, tan and pale, but they all had one thing in common: dismay. While it seemed contrary to his objective, the intention was suitable. The Marquis would bring a bit of color to the drab sentiments of the island.

No where but within the realm of the Marquis de Dau could word travel so fast. The Liberators had been worked to their breaking point, the idea of a feast put life into their bodies once again. Everywhere whispers spread of food and festivities. The hunger for pleasantries outweighed their own judgement. Only a few senior members questioned the logistics of such a feast, already sparse for resources. But lies spread for Dau’s mouth like water from a raging river.

Cormorant was just another smiling thug among the halls which echoed with joy that hadn’t been heard in ages. He weaved his way through the building, down long passages that never seemed to end. Locked doors gave away to his limber hands. He began to give up hope that his friends were on the island at all when he found his way down a particularly foul smelling flight of stairs. Torches barely lit the room, but it was enough to identify the dungeon. His faith renewed at the sight of Krumr and Lina. The couple watched as another guard relieved theirs of duty. There was some confusion as to who was on watch when a dull spear pierced the back the sentry. The raspy voice of the new guard metamorphosed into the recognizable northern cadence of their captain.

The stage was set. That night, the Liberators would sit down for a feast. They knew little of the plans being erected around them. While the men sat down for the festivities, their once slaves were standing up for themselves.

Justice had all the information he needed. He had sensed the urge of freedom in the slaves. Their independence had been extinguished, but he knew there was a kindle of hope still inside of each of them. The murmurs started around the camp. Only a small group were there to hear the Zenith’s plans. Cramped inside a small room with the winds and rain tapping outside, his words burned inside of them. Fear and doubt gave way to hope. The news spread from room to room like a wild fire. They knew the signal, and when the cue came, they would mob on their captors.

The music flooded the halls on Dau’s command. The song rang from the compound and reached the ears of the slaves in their quarters. It was now or never. Justice’s mighty goremaul materialized in his hands. With a fell swoop, the hammer came crashing into the gates, crushing the guards under rumble on the other side. The wall was broken, the slaves were free of their shackles, and now their fate was in their hands. Those in the watch towers sprang to their feet. The twang of their bows drowned out their own demise. From the shadows, the spear of Cormorant shot forth. Tower and after tower fell as the Night races along the colossal walls.

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Almoldo At Last

The fields of the small island were ablaze with battle. Groups of slaves scrimmaged against squads of Liberators. Swords and makeshift weapons clashed in the sands while men fought for life and freedom. The light of the setting Sun flooded the entrance hall of the compound as the front doors burst open.  In rushed Sedulous Cormorant, Righteous Justice, and a small company of slaves.  Cormorant raced down the halls, cutting down anyone who stood in his path. Liberators watched as the Exalt rushed past, only to realize after that they had been met with his spear.  Justice followed, ordering the slaves to engage any small pockets of resistance they encountered.

It was quiet when Justice entered the banquet hall.  What had moments ago housed the entirety of the Liberator battery, now stood hushed with only a handful of men.  Wind rustled through the windows and into the room over the still set tables and full mugs.  The culmination of battles, sailing, and running would end here.  Justice spoke first, his goremaul held high at Almoldo.  “You stand guilty of the high crime of slavery.  No matter what your government, religion, or law, each man knows in his heart of hearts that no one should be held under the shackles of another.”  He knew his words would fall on deaf ears, but perhaps it was just enough to distract them as Cormorant leaped from the shadows, blade outreached.  Almoldo was slow, but his lieutenant Grizzly was not.  His own goremaul met the spear as the attacker tumbled to the floor.  Almond, Grizzly and the two others sprung to meet the invaders. 

The one called Peppy lunged at the Marquis de Dau.  Dau bent low at the waist as Peppy’s daiklave swung wildly, embedding itself in the wall behind the Solar.  The Marquis brought his fist up into Peppy.  The enemy staggered backwards, ripping his sword from the foundation before making another approach.  The Exalt was light on his feet. In one swift movement he dodged around the oncoming weapon and produced his own blade from his pockets. The knife, fused with an exotic poison, cut shallowly into the attacker. Peppy staggered, being pulled through by the power of his own attack. His body slammed into the walls with a slump as the poisons coursed through his veins. His breathing quickened, pulling less and less air into his body with each second.

Another weapon came crashing down towards Dau who brought his hands together.  Though he had prevented the daiklave from cutting into him, the shear force of the blow knocked the Night to the ground. The Solar stammered to his feet, but Serious waisted no time before his next attack.  The bladed weapon slammed into the core of the Marquis de Dau.  His body was sent skywards, breaking the wooded rafters of the hall, before falling back motionlessly onto the cold stone floor.

Chef Cobb had happily relinquished his guise of a taken slave.  He brought his fist down hard on a table sending a chopping knife into the air.  He swooped forward, clutching the airborne knife in hand and brought it towards Serious.  Serious raised his daiklave up, meeting the knife before it embedded itself in him. The two pushed back from one another, sizing up their opponents. Serious rushed towards the Exalt. Cobb grabbed another knife from the table and used the two to catch the daiklave. The Night threw the attack to the side and brought himself close to his enemy. The scene was a blur of metal as the knives cut into his enemy. Serious pulled himself away and examined his wounds. Another wild swing came at the chef. The knife in his right hand came to block, but the tool was little match for the artifact weapon. The daiklave cut away at the outer layer of his disguise and ripsped at the surface of his skin.

Almoldo paced the hall, watching his loyal men engage the Solars.  Across from him stood Justice with the chaos of battle in between. He hadn’t been expecting Almoldo’s speed as the leader bound into the air in the rafters of the hall.  Justice’s eyes had barely caught him before Almoldo was coming down right on top of him, brandishing twin khatari. The Zenith ducked behind the stone pillar next to him. The blades in Almoldo’s hands scrapped against the side of the pillar, showering down sparks as steel met stone.  He recovered from his dive just as Justice appeared again, this time bringing his goremaul swinging at his target.  Almoldo ducked low as the hammer slammed into the stone pillar. The pillar shifted slightly before a torrent of rocks came raining down forcing Almoldo to dive out of the way.  The dust hadn’t yet cleared when Almoldo plunged forward through it.  Justice brought his hammer up to block the fast approaching khatar.  His fist was pushed aside, but not without the blade cutting into the Exalts arm.  Justice leaped backwards.  He took a minute to consider his enemy.  By this point it was obvious to the heroes they were not fighting mortal men. The Solar eternalized his essence. Sparks of energy jumped from his body into the surroundings.  Justices brought his grand goremaul over head, crashing down towards his enemy in a series of strikes.  Almoldo stepped out of the way seemingly with ease, dodging each pummel as the hammer met the ground with a sequence of thunderous claps.  The hammer met the ground one last time when Almoldo saw his opening.  His left fist came in hard and fast. The blade dug deep into Justice’s flank, piercing him severely.

“We’re no use to anyone if we are dead.” shouted the Zenith.

“Everyone, make haste.” came the reply from the last standing Night.

Cobb scooped up the broken body of their comrade as they retreated from the room.  With one hand guarding his wound, Justice used the other to swing his goremaul into the stone walls, leaving a pile of debris to slow down any pursuers.  The Sun was just falling past the skyline as the Solars exited the compound. The battle between the slaves and the Liberators appeared to have gone better than their own.  Cormorant called for a retreat. Justice organized as many out going ships as he could manage, ordering slaves to flee the island. Chef Cobb hurried up the ramp of the Harlequin Bird, heaving the body of the Marquis onto a makeshift hospital bed. The Harlequin Bird took to flight, leaving among the mass of sailing ships on the ocean face below. The ship’s crew, the Solars, and a handful of new refugees watched as the last sign of the Sun disappeared behind the horizon.

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