Time is of the Essence

Covis. One of the oldest cities in the Iron Kingdoms going back to the times of Orgoth and now a city of the Cygnar empire. On the border of the contested Thornwood Forest and the wasteland of the Bloodstone Marches, the city is close to the danger of invasion from the outside and represents the northernmost stronghold of Cygnar authority.
IMG_0438.PNGDespite the dangers, potential instability and sometimes wretched conditions that you would expect of a city bordering, and partially built, on a swamp, I find myself time and time again passing through the gates of its high walls. As a boy, before the fall of Llael, my family and I would often visit Uncle Agean for the holidays, taking passage by steamboat from Caspia and following the Black River to Llael. Corvis was always a stop to resupply and get a break from the confines of the boat. I remember walking the city and taking in the sights and sounds, worshipping at the Morrowan Cathedral, visiting the Merchants Guild so my father could talk business, and playing in Gordenn’s Groves Park with my mother.

Later, when I reached the age of maturity and decided to set out on a path of my own by establishing a mercenary charter I again found myself in Corvis. Close to the warfronts of Khador and Llael and the dangers of the Marches, the city proved to be an ideal site to recruit hardened and proficient personnel of a variety of talents. It could be said that the ‘Jacks of All Trades Mercenary Company was born in Corvis because that’s where I recruited some of its original members and that’s where it was awarded its first mercenary contract.

Now I find myself again in Corvis. Of course I have been to the city many times since the ‘Jack’s first contract to maintain and develop business, political and personal connections as is expected from the president of the mercenary company, as well as my obligations to my household, but this recent visit has been different. When I first received a missive from Lumis explaining the dire things taking place and the premonition of more to come I was concerned and made haste, taking two of the ‘Jack’s newest members with me. Even though Caspia was my home, Corvis had become a second home of sorts due to the many fond memories that originated within its stout city walls which were accompanied at times by a not so pleasant swamp odor. Lumis’ talk of the dead coming to life to walk the streets to attack the living and the power that Father Dumas’ adopted daughter, a young girl named Alexia, possessed to control the dead to be used to enact her revenge on the city for the death of her mother was of grave concern.

When I arrived, I found my men (and woman- Gretchin) in good spirits despite the horrors they had witnessed and the battles they had fought. They told me about being attacked by men that bore the tattooed lightning eye of Vinter’s Inquisition and I feared that my men must have become involved in a plot of a particularly dangerous sort to attract the wraith of this powerful and corrupt organization that hid in the shadows lest they be discovered and executed. Surely this spoke of something sinister a foot and with the dangers of Alexia and the magical sword, Witchfire, that she stole to further her plot to destroy the city and its inhabitants, I decided to take personal command of this contract, which was offered by Corvis Watch Captain Helstrom.

Information has been revealed that Alexia intends to enter an ancient temple hidden deep in the swamp that is dedicated to an ancient and strange deity called the Clockwork Goddess that has a secret cult following in Corvis. This temple only opens its doors every so many years and is rumored to possess a machine that can bring the dead to life. With Alexia in possession of her dead mother’s corpse and the temple’s doors due to open in only a few days, we acquired passage aboard a steamboat captained competently by a loyal Cygnaran named Skiff, who was willing to brave the dangers of the swamp for an adequate payment of gold crowns. I took Lumis, the Great Sergei Yanderhall, and Kilgore with me and left the rest of the company in Corvis should they be needed there.IMG_0435.JPGThis swamp was one of the most wretched places that I have ever been. The stench, the bugs, and dismal landscape offered nothing positive in return. The short stop at a local settlement and watering hole provided pretty much what I expected- strong alcohol and simple people. The one diamond in the rough that came out of it was a primitive necklace that I bought from the barkeep that he swore would ward off the swamp zombies that occasionally plagued these parts. His claims proved to be accurate when we later came under attack by these foul creatures and the necklace did indeed ward them off. I would not wear the trinket anywhere else but the swamp though as its stench is appalling and its not what any would consider high fashion in any society.
IMG_0437.JPGWe reached the temple, a huge cube-like structure, prior to its doors opening and made preparations for Alexia’s arrival by setting up traps and establishing watch points. Alas our preparations were in vain as she never used the main door (perhaps there was a back door we overlooked) and when the door did open we were immediately attacked by metal orbs that shot lances of burning energy. These constructs were quickly dealt with and we made our way inside. Luckily, I had my magical True Sight to see in the darkness and we had purchased some alchemical light sources prior to setting out to the temple.

The maze of corridors and rooms contained a complicated collection of working machinery and I suspect that the parts we were seeing in the individual rooms were all parts of a massive machine that was mostly hidden by the temple structure. Eventually we reached a grand hall with a seemingly bottomless pit and above that pit was a tower-like object arcing with electricity. Standing on one of its upper levels, we saw Alexia but we were too far to engage her and sought to find passage to the upper levels. This path resulted in yet more corridors and rooms filled with more strange machinery and other clues about the beliefs of this strange machine cult.

In one of these rooms we engaged in battle with more of the orb constructs, as well as clockwork beings that appeared to be garbed as priests sorting through piles of the dead. They were versed in the arts of magic and a fierce battle broke out. In the end, they lay dead (or is deactivated the proper term?) and we discovered that one of the dead bodies that they were sorting through was actually alive. He identified himself as Dorveye, a Nyss priest and swordsmen, and told a strange tale of being magically transported to this location with no recollection of how this came to be. This Dorveye seemed like a credible fellow suffering from a bad stroke of luck, and I, always on the lookout for individuals that might make a good fit in the company, explained our quest and made him an offer to join. He accepted (I’m sure his options were not many at the time) and we continued our trek through the clockwork corridors and rooms (including some that traveled up and down to various levels in the temple).

IMG_0441.JPGFinally we made contact with Alexia on the raised platform surrounded by arcing electricity. In an elaborate sarcophagus, which I’m sure was a machine of sorts, she had placed the corpse of her mother and was in the process of using the Witchfire to return her to life. While undead witches moved to block our position, Lumis weaved his way past them blocking their blows and faced Alexia alone. The rest of us engaged the undead coven who took quite a beating before dying again (I would like to point out at this time that I remembered bringing Kilgore with us but now note that I have not seen him in some time since our entrance into the temple).

A blast of magical energy sent Lumis almost plunging over the side of the platform to certain death but a last minute grab saved him. As he struggled to fight the wind and electrical forces that assailed him, Alexia continued her ritual. With her undead associates destroyed, we focused our efforts on Alexia and our combined efforts resulted in stopping the ritual and the recovery of Witchfire; a violent blow from one of my men sending Alexia plunging off the platform to the bottomless pit below.

We started making our way out of the temple (recovering our Trollkin in the process) and found our passage blocked a clockwork being with the upper body of a man and a lower body of a four-legged spider who identified himself as Father Lucant. Accompanied by other clockwork beings (some of which did not resemble humanoids at all), it was clear that Father Lucant was upset about our trespass on his goddess’ sacred ground and hostilities were to commence. Luckily Father Lucant was open to dialogue and I was able to explain the purpose for transgressing on their sacred ground (to confront another outsider and stop her corrupt use of the goddess’ sacred devices) and were only interested in leaving and not returning since our mission was complete. Father Lucant was receptive to my explanation, and more so, he even offered us potential employment in the future where my company’s make-up of “outsiders” could provide him and his followers with goods and services they needed when interacting with the outside world.IMG_0440.JPGWith the Witchfire secured and a promising employment offer in the works, we returned to Corvis and were shocked when we found that things had gone from bad to worse in our absence- King Vinter had returned with an army of strange people called the Skorne…

Time is of the Essence

For Profit and Glory! taddow