On To The Mark

Day 70: Finally, the violence and arguments between the members of the Order have ceased, and the Fortress is again quiet. Mother Galena and many of those close to her disappeared during the night, in yet another indication of the depth in the split in the organization. That is unfortunate, as she is truly a loyal servant of the One, and will be missed. Given the scale of the forces of darkness in the world, we cannot really afford such internal divisions. Still, at least those who are left appear to be loyal to Bernard; perhaps unity will compensate for the smaller size of the organization.

After he had assumed full control of the situation, Bernard called all inhabitants of the Fortress to an assembly in the main courtyard. We all went, as we were anxious to hear about his plans for repairing the organization. Since he no longer had to fight for control or doubt the loyalty of any significant faction of his men, he was now in position to remake the Order has much as he felt was required. He began the meeting by offering sincere thanks to all those who had remained loyal during the fighting, and emphasizing his own loyalty to the cause of the One. The first major initiative he announced was a recall of all serving members of the Order across the world. They would be brought back to the Fortress, and then subjected to an assessment of their character and personal history. If this review showed that they were not sufficiently devoted to the Order and its goals, they would be removed from the Order. In addition, the personal conduct requirements of the Order would be tightened up significantly. This effort appeared to be generally popular among the people in the courtyard, and I too certainly approve of it. The Order should always aspire to the highest possible standards.

He had Janus with him on stage, and he then told Janus' story. Apparently, Janus had developed the use of his Soulfire powers in order to protect himself and his family from Order inquisitors trying to exterminate sorcerers. Faced with the imminent possibility of death, Janus had somehow managed to draw from the spirits of his neighbors in order to cast some simple defensive spells. Bernard used this exampel to illustrate the negative effects excessive enthusiasm on the part of the Order can have, and consequently to illustrate what he meant by laying such an emphasis on considering the possible negative side-effects of actions taken in the name of the One. Again, I could not argue with him here.

After describing this, he then ran Janus through with his sword, pointing out that his actions were still evil. Even if he had been motivated by the desire to protect his family from overly enthusiastic inquisitors, he had still been directly responsible for the deaths of a number of innocent people. Therefore, he would have to pay the price for his actions. This certainly surprised the entire assembly, but not as much as Janus' subsequently standing up again. He began visibly to draw from the soul of one of the members of the crowd as he rose from the floor of the podium.

As this was occurring, the spirit of St Alexander appeared again. He moved onto the stage and spoke to Janus. Immediately, the soulfire link disappeared and Janus again died. The spirit informed us that Janus had chosen to die rather than continue to draw from the souls of the innocent as he had been. That certainly was a noble act, but whether it made up for however many had been killed by such a method previously I am still not certain. Overall, I have to agree with Bernard; there is only one suitable punishment for a man responsible for so many unnecessary deaths.

After the drama of the assembly faded away, we spent several days preparing to travel to the Mark. I copied spells from Vorster's spellbook, and Father Cain began organizing the members of the Order who had begun following him. They set to work providing free copies of the Book of Alexander to all who requested one, while the Father himself began arranging for a tomb for the Saint. Eventually, he settled on Fort Rennick, and ordered his followers to transport the bones there.

Day 79: We set off for the Chancellor's Palace. The Resistance had arranged for us to receive a guide, and he led us through the countryside disguised as pilgrims. We managed to avoid any confrontations, and talked our way past the guards and into the city of Paris.

Day 85: We reached an inn friendly to the resistance, and stayed there overnight while waiting for the water in the sewers to subside to a level that would allow us to pass through and reach the Palace without being seen. We spent a pleasant night in the inn, and set out the next morning.

Day 86: We moved through the tunnels without incident until we reached the Palace, where we had to kill some bound behirs. After that, we climbed out and were almost immediately confronted by a squad of the Chancellor's Guard. They patiently advanced toward us, taking little damage from what ranged firepower we could muster. When they entered combat with us, we found where Rodor had received his training. We suffered considerable damage as they swung their heavy swords while keeping in their disciplined formation. We did prevail, but took considerable effort.

Immediately after that, the Chancellor's apprentice appeared. As the resistance had told us, he was quiet and bookish in appearance. As the resistance had not informed us, he procedded to transform into a large red dragon, and then fly up and bombard us with spells. This was difficult for us to deal with, as I had not yet had the chance to replenish the party's supply of potions. Nonetheless, we were able to defeat it, with Father Cain successfully calling on the power of the One to smite the foul creature.

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