Main Journal - Part 1Edit
The Serperior’s gaze goes from his advisor to his wife, eyes softening. Finally, he sighs, pausing to knead the corners of his eyes with his tail tip before looking at the rest of the room.
SOME WEEKS AGO…
: Now, if your presence here is anything to go by, you are at least somewhat interested, are you not? Going as far as sending so many of your people to make sure both the forest and castle are safe? Oh do not tell me you were not aware of this, did you not give the order?
: My my, you’ve quite the sharp tongue on you, your highness. Well, no matter, it is as you said, it would be best for both of us if I started explaining, for you have been wandering in the darkness with not but vague directions on where you should end up. Quite fortunate that I have a light for you, yes?
: I am of the understanding that you are often diving into situations head-first without any information or facts or history given to you, yes? Well, although I’ve no doubt in my mind that that path of action is not one you yourself chose to follow, I’m afraid you cannot be treading so recklessly from now on, not if you’re going to survive this war. As such is the case, I’ve taken upon the duty of granting you the information you need to understand what caused this war and the various choices of action you may follow to resolve it.
: Indeed. Unfortunate as it is, foul deeds of the past have been building upon one another like a pyramid of wine glasses atop a three legged table, incredibly fragile and just waiting for the slightest of disturbance to topple it over and bring everything crashing down.
: The base of this pyramid of glass starts with a new acquaintance of yours, the emperor of Gāng Tiě, Wei-Guang, and his daughter. The young princess fell in love with a ‘mon of low birth and the two eloped together to avoid her father’s wrath.
: The emperor was heartbroken over the loss of his daughter, though his grief quickly turned to rage. He believed the ‘mon she eloped with to be a Chanyuian warrior who had seduced her and led her to her death and thus swore revenge on the Chanyu Tribes for the death of his daughter.
: You see, the princess was pregnant, her lover was still alive - an unusual circumstance, given how female Leavanny will often bite off the heads of their mates - and the emperor was furious at the both of them.
: Wei-Guang would not have such an act of dishonour be allowed to stain his family, so he ordered his daughter to get rid of the children the two had had together and for her to separate herself from her lover.
: She first planned to meet up with her lover and have him flee to a Shaolin monastery with their children where her father would not look for him so their children could be raised by at least one of their parents.
: This plan may have worked, however, before she could set it into motion, her eggs hatched. As most mothers do, the princess fell in love with her children the moment they hatched and she could not bear the thought of being separated from them.
: Regardless, she knew she was running out of time. She could not continue to tell her father that the eggs had yet to hatch for much longer, so she did what all those foolish enough to fall in love do.
: Though it was hard arranging times where they could meet, and harder still to convince her lover she had made the right choice, the princess was able to convince him that they should run off together, boldly declaring her love of her children and lover to mean far more to her that the throne or any honour that her father could give her.
: That settled all debate between the two. One night, they garbed themselves in the clothing of commoners, snuck their way out of the palace, and fled towards the monastery. They were seen only by a young Growlithe, who the princess convinced to not tell anyone of their escape, so their plan was already looking to be successful.
: Of course, you can imagine how Wei-Guang reacted when he figured out what had happened. He was irate, his fury knew no bounds once he had found out that his daughter had not only lied to him but dishonoured him by eloping with a peasant.
: What you might not imagine, however, is how his rage turned to grief and regret over the loss of his daughter. Indeed, I believe his rage of his daughter’s flight from him stemmed from his love of her, there is a strong bond between parent and child, as I’m sure you yourself know as father. With his wife dead, his daughter had been the most important thing in his life, and he had been the one to drive her away. Such knowledge weighs heavy on the shoulders of any ‘mon, emperor and peasant alike.
: Worry not, though, the story don’t end all bad. Her lover managed to escape with his life and children, with a little help from some surprisingly willing new allies, and did continue towards the monastery with his new friends.
: Well, I can’t say for sure what happened next, as my sources may have missed a trick when it came to following the party, I’d say the odds that they made it out alive are fairly high, though I’m sure there are other members of Tellurian Astasia who can tell you more.
: The causation of the Gāng Tiě wanting to wage war, there is more I could talk about in regards the to Chanyu and Sazanami, but it’s Gāng Tiě you really need to be worried about if war does come to pass.
: As it so happens, war is already brewing within Sazanami itself. The nation is divided, ruled by warlords who do not trust one another. Treachery is rampant in the nation, even among the warlords, and the Shōgun cannot hold power for much longer.
: I’m sorry to have to inform you this, but Aether cannot afford to wage war with either Sazanami or Gāng Tiě. Well, perhaps you could triumph over the former with much struggle and loss, but you’ve no chance again Gāng Tiě, it’s the largest nation in Avalon and it’s military is nothing to scoff at.
: I’m sure you’re curious as to how this affects Aether, yes? With Sazanami wiped off the map, which it will be in its current state, Wei-Guang will not stop there and will continue to invade and wipe out Chanyu as well. As formidable warriors as they are, they’re unruly and hesitant to ally themselves between the different clans and eve Guga would have trouble commanding them all against Gāng Tiě. Eventually, they would fall.
: With the Chanyuians on their knees at their feet, the Gāng Tiěse can easily learn of Aether’s involvement in both the war and your little kidnapping exploits and they would surely turn to Aether next. Perhaps you’d be able to withstand siege for months, maybe years, but eventually, Aether would fall.
: In a best case scenario, Wei-Guang would decide that Aether is not worth his time and leave you to your own devices whilst he continued cleaning up Avalon of his enemies. Yes, that IS the best case scenario, because, in every other case, you end up dead.
: I’ll have you remember the position you’re in and recall that I’m helping you far more than you’re helping me. If you’re entire kingdom was wiped out tomorrow, I would still remind here, untouched by the ravages of war and conflict, so I’ll thank you not to get smart with me.
: You ask what my goal is in telling you this? What I gain in this matter? Perhaps the fear of the fall of Aether, and therefore my own home? I hate to remind you, but I have so many allies that, even if Wei-Guang were to turn against me - which I sincerely doubt he would be stupid enough to do - there are many more places where I could go, many more ‘mons who’d have me as their advisors, or an informer.
: Now, tell me, to whom would YOU go for aid? Artiphron perhaps? Only Pausanius would be willing to hear you out, and, even then, I’m afraid he’s currently not available. Though, say he was, how would he react to you failing to live up that special prophecy of his? I can’t say he’d be very impressed with you.
: Who to turn to then? The Vandals of Gailamir, a broken nation struggling to re-building its kingdom, or some friendly Nizhoni tribes, wandering farmers with loose ties to a stone situated in an alter somewhere out in the woods of your nations? No, no, that will not do, neither of them could stand up to Gāng Tiě’s might.
: And what about Voluntas? Last I recall, Aetius was no friend of yours, so that’s not an option. You’ve also visited Khemaat, though I can assure you that they see Aether as little than a trade partner - which, might I add, is a very generous gesture on their part, as you offer nothing that they need or couldn’t find elsewhere. Not to mention that both of those nations are struggling with internal conflicts of their own currently, so I hardly believe that they could be convinced to aid you in a matter as grave as war.
: Oooh, but I forget! You DO have ONE ally that may vouch for you yet! The inhabitants and Lord of the Dragon Palace in Sazanami and Avalon’s adventurer’s guild. Oh, but wait, you’re abandoning the former in this situation by not fighting, aren’t you? Oh, that is a shame, I doubt even Wei-Guang would order his armies to stand up to Lugia. Though, with Sazanami in it’s current state, faith in their patron has diminished greatly…
: It’s quite possible that they do not possess their full strength at the moment. Perhaps the lord will find himself killed, though, I fear that it shall not be through a wound received from either army, but from the war itself bringing forth his demise.
: But that is no matter of yours, you have disregarded them in this situation, so let’s talk about the guild. No doubt the guild would plead your case, but what outcome could they bring you that could be considered good? At best you’d live in shame with the knowledge that you did nothing to prevent the war that could tear Avalon apart. Or, perhaps you’d be executed and your people would be allowed to live and flee from your borders in hopes that some friendly nation would take them in.
: But, perhaps there is a third path. Perhaps you could appoint the old king to the throne again, Jackson I believe you call him, and leave the nation with whoever would follow you. You could leave all of this troubling responsibility behind you…
: Do you understand the situation now? I’ve told you all I have for your benefit. Joining in this war, or even stopping it before it begins, is the only way you can save not only Aether but Sazanami, Chanyu, and the rest of Avalon from destruction as well.
: I’m perfectly serious, you’re running out of time as is and I’ve said all I can that you’d understand as you are now. But, pray, come back when you are older and wiser, perhaps then we’ll have more to talk about. Until then--
: You… You BASKET-COCKLED, BEAR-BITING VARLOT! How DARE you?! Ssstringing me along, usssing me as a PAWN in your little plan - and you never had the nerve to tell me before I became your wife! Well, I’m not going to ssstand here and wait for you to sssacrifice yourssself!
Tara storms off, slithering irately out of the great hall and deeper into the castle. Maeve scurries behind her, frantically shouting for her to wait up, and an awkward rumbling echoes amongst the partygoers, prompting Alaric to avert his gaze anxiously.
With that, the party guests are escorted from the castle, returning to their homes in Aether or getting on carriages to go to Ulster. As they begin to leave the castle, Alaric gives a subtle nod to Gaius, Jackson and Gawain: a covert signal that both advisor, previous king and captain understand. The serpent king moves away, heading into the castle following the angry path his wife had made earlier, and Gawain assists the guards in bringing both Drog and Bon down to the dungeons where they would spend the night.
THE NEXT DAY…
As the early morning sun begins to rise, Alaric and Gaius move stealthily into the king’s study, hoping that most of the castle’s inhabitants were still in bed and wouldn’t attempt to bother them during this special meeting. The two ‘mons look around, expecting Jackson to be in the room, only for the ghost to float up through the floor a few second later, cheeks full and crumbs all over his face. With the ghost now present, Alaric closes the door with a soft click then turns to the rest of the ‘mons while Gaius does his best to stop himself from asking if ghosts need to eat.
The door opens - but it’s not Gawain. Instead, Prince Nicholas is there, and he shoves his way into the room with a confident expression gleaming in his eyes.
: Helping you, of course! Charles and I have been talking all night about ways we could get everyone into Sazanami so I wanted to share them with you so you’d know where I’d be when leading in everyo-
The Umbreon bows stiffly to his father, ears tilted at an odd angle, then carefully backs up to the door. However, even as he opens it to leave, Gawain suddenly appears, almost knocking the prince over in his haste. Shuffling in front of him with his webbed hands in chains is Bon… but Drog is nowhere in sight.
Nicholas stiffens, not realizing that he’d been standing in the doorway for quite some time. With an awkward nod, he leaves, cape fluttering in his wake - and the others wait a beat before continuing.
Before they can continue their conversation, a soft knock sounds from the door. No one makes a move - until a voice resounds from outside:
: Thank you~! Aah, where was I, uhhhhhhhhh OH! Yeah, the route! Um, I’ll happily outline the details of the route with your citizens, and even accompany them on the journey to Sazanami, if you want, your grace.
The Keldeo bows and exits the room without a sound, though there is an undeniable sparkle of joy in his eyes, and disappeared from sight with Jackson at his side.
As both captain and prisoner leave, Gaius looks at his king with somber eyes.
ONE WEEK LATER, IN ARTIPHRON…
Gulls shriek overhead as the Artiphron harbour comes alive with activity. Alaric, King of Aether, has just arrived, accompanied by an entourage of his subjects, and Offucia, portmaster of Artiphron, is on the move, barking out orders to any and all sailors nearby to prepare the dock. The Aetherian ship pulls in without a hitch, however, and the Frillish meets up with them at the entrance to her office.
In response, Offucia gestures to a nearby table where a large map is spread out. She floats over to the table and flattens the corners of the map before explaining:
: This route here is the only merchant route we currently have between our harbour and Sazanami. We tried arranging for more to be created but, with the nation’s current state, that’s likely not going to happen anytime soon.
: Part of it, yes. Reilly plans for you to use the merchant’s path from Artiphron down into Sazanami’s territorial waters until this comes into your sights. She taps the map a few times on a landmark in the sea. This is the tower where Lugia resides; upon seeing it, Reilly plans to sail the ship west of the tower before sailing southwards towards the island. Doing so will increase your chances of sailing into friendly territory without the needless risk of danger.
: Given his...roguish character and appearance, I have no doubts that he’d try to sail directly from Aether’s harbour so he can avoid coming into contact with any guards. From leaving Aether, he’d sail southwest towards Lugia’s Tower but, rather than sailing west past the tower and arriving at the southern coasts as Reilly plans to, he’ll sail east before the ship reaches the tower and shall attempt to dock further north, I assume somewhere around here. She taps the map on a hook-shaped bit of the island.
: You may be onto something, Sir Gawain. Those waters are extremely dangerous to navigate and countless have lost their lives trying to cross the vortexes. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a trap of his.
The Artiphron harbour is quiet, nighttime falling like a blackened curtain over the country. Water laps softly against the soft pine of the pier, and sailboats bob up and down on the natural current, tied firmly to the dock with thick ropes. Alaric observes the serene scene from his room within the portmaster’s quarters before leaving to meet with the portmaster herself.
He finds her moments later, staring stonily at a portrait so faded that he could no longer make out the subject, yet the spectral jellyfish seemed to know every inch of the painted figure, tracing the lines with her gaze. Alaric clears his throat, and the portmaster turns reluctantly from the portrait to face him.
: Shouldn’t you be worrying about other matters right now? Your focus lies in the current struggle your subjects sail towards - and if you are not ready to commit to that, then they are in more danger than I anticipated.
: I am saying that this route Reilly has suggested has the most probable chance of them not getting caught, but that does not mean they will not get caught. In all actuality, I’d be surprised if they made it to Sazanami unnoticed…
: The best way we can do this is to try to reunite Sazanami, but that is no easy task. The nation is hellbent on keeping all who are not currently inside the nation out and no doubt will arrest anyone trying to enter the nation.
: Because of this, we must sneak onto the island if we are to help in any way. We have already made plans with the guild to meet up with the other members of the guild and the warlord of the area where the guild’s headquarters in Sazanami is, so you can expect to be safe once you arrive….
: Despite there being a safe haven waiting for you once you arrive, the trip over to Sazanami will be a difficult one. Not only is the trip itself four days and mentally taxing for those unused to seafaring, but there are many dangers along the way, especially once you get close to Sazanami and start running into patrols.
: That being said, do not take that as “anything goes.” The ‘mons of Sazanami may be aggressive and may try to attack or hurt you, but you are not to kill anyone. We all feel horrible enough as it is that we have to sneak into the nation, so none of us will tolerate any of you killing a Sazanamese ‘mon in their own homeland during our time there!
: We deemed it best that everyone enter Sazanami by boat, since the distance is too far to fly or swim, and even if you could make such an impossible journey, you’d be alone without allies to help you if you needed it, so you’ll need to get onto a ship that is leaving from Sazanami in order to get there.
: There are two boats heading to Sazanami that you can take; one would be with Reilly, the kind, young Keldeo boy from the guild that will be helping us, and the other being with Yori, the Lombre who helped us enter Sazanami the last time we, uh, smuggled ourselves into the island.
: Aah, but back on topic: your choice of route will differ depending on whose ship you choose to take to Sazanami. I believe Reilly wanted to land somewhere on the far south of the island in a sakura tree forest and that Yori wanted to land in the harbour we used the last time we snuck into Sazanami. You’d have to ask them for more details, but if either of those interest you, you should meet with them in the Artiphron harbour and I’m sure they will tell you more about their specific routes.
: Ah, but that is besides the point, what I’m trying to say is that he might try to convince you to take his route to Sazanami with him. Although he claimed it was reliable and he could direct everyone through it, we still do not know if we can trust Bon; moreover, the route he chose is practically dangerous, so I’d be wary if you do choose to go with him over the other two.
: Well, that’s all I can I say, it’s up to you to choose your path to Sazanami.
: Once again, there should be no killing during this mission. The king himself said he’d punish anyone who did once you meet up with him and Gawain.
Make your way to Sazanami by boat. You have three paths you can choose from to get to Sazanami: either with Bon, with Yori, or with Reilly. You can only choose one route and the choice you make will affect how the next part of the mission will got for you, so think carefully on who you trust to get you to Sazanami unnoticed. Also, you will be unable to switch your path once you’ve made it, so again, choose wisely.
A map detailing each route and information about various landmarks (or water-marks as the case might be) will be provided in each of the different route journals, so be sure to check those out.
This part of the mission is set to end in two weeks, but this is only the first part of the mission and, as with all multi-part missions, your entries for all parts of the mission can be turned in at the due date of the last part so don’t get too worried about that short time limit.
That being said, part 1 of this mission is special in that after the time for part 1 is over, two of the routes will no longer be available for use for those members who started part 1 after its due date passed, all the more reason for you all to think carefully about the path you choose to take.
Mission 9 Rewards:Edit