Silent Chorus

A Diary of the Third War
The 701st Blackbird Squad - The Third War

In the Third War between Nishra and Licadeis, a small elite band was taxed with the most dangerous tasks, the most dire quests. This is their story.

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The Third War Begins

In the region known as Freeland, no nation rises above Nishra. The sons and daughters of cast-off ancestors, the people of Nishra have found home, and they have thrived. Through persecution, exile, and war . . . they have endured. Held aloft by their strength, their freedom, and their faith. Faith in the one called Roon, the Father, the Guide. A god who preaches self-reliance, strength in individuality, faith in oneself. And it has taken root. The Nishran people praise the works of Roon and the works of Man. A merciful nation, one backed by justice, under the guidance of Roon, the Hebdomad, and the Speaker, has flourished.

But not all are happy to see Nishra rise. Licadeis, an old foe, the enemy of the last war, has begun to move. They have seen Nishran prosperity, and they have seen Nishran Armies, and they are afraid.

Old nobles, squabbling aristocracy, and a cruel Minister have whipped up hatred, jealousy, and fear. When the rumors began again, of Licadian arms beginning to unfurl, to begin to reach far and wide, to began to stoke the old engines of war, never cold, never dead, the Holy Speaker could not uphold the peace much longer.

The rumors of an assault on the northern border forced the Speaker’s hand. Gideon, First Cardinal, ordered all but three of the Armies, and their cardinals, to the northern border. Entrenched, waiting, the Armies found nothing.

A week later, the storm broke. Nowhere near the Northern Border. It swept in from the sea, instead. From a sea supposedly patrolled and defended by the combined Navies of Rastienne, Myscira, and Nishra herself.

When the Licadian invasion force landed, without warning, they took Point Maddox in a night. A combination of sea bombardment, land troops, and a flight of soldiers riding giant black ravens crushed the city. The mystery of the stealthy approach of over a thousand ships was solved, too – the Armies of Rastienne arrived hand-in-hand with the Licadian troops.

Cardinal Donnegal, the only Cardinal still in the region, ordered the evacuation of every city from Point Maddox to Arda Namara, and the burning of all resources between.

The Armies of Licadeis, strangely immune to scrying, have seemingly . . . .disappeared.

One army nows stands alone to defend the great temple-city of Arda Namara, the capital of Nishra.

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Enter the 701st

The armies of Licadeis have been strangely quiet.

Cardinal Donnegal’s armies roam the countryside around Arda Namara, the Holy City, searching for some sign of the magically-cloaked army. Among them, the 701st squad.

Among the stream of refugees, the 701st find a suspicious wagon tucked between two hillocks, unmoving. After discovering a disparate group of four and questioning them, the “refugees” reveal themselves as Licadian spies by attempting to murder the captain of the 701st, Thoril Lighthammer, before he could can alert others. The remainder of the 701st, lying in wait, sweep down upon the spies and defeat them, taking the two survivors into custody.

In the back of the wagon, beneath the stacks of crates, the 701st discover an over-sized crate containing a nearly naked wizard and a foul, mystical cauldron filled with poisonous red liquid. They discover, just in time, that the wagon is serving as a base of operations for a group of invisible spies and rogues attempting to breach Arda Namara. Zystrol Larenthrial, the 701st operative from the Battety, leaps into the cauldron, which double both as a scrying device and a crude portal.

The remainder of the squad leave for the city by more conventional means, and as a group the 701st chase the assassins through the streets. At the same time, the Licadian army, revealed to be cloaked in similar magic, appear at the gates to Arda Namara and lay siege to the city.

Evading an illusory jungle-bridge that the wizard-assassins conjured, the 701st manage to eliminate three of the four assassins before following the last one up through the great Ziggurat temple in the center of Arda Namara.

When they reach the top, losing the assassin in the process, they are greeted with the sight of the combined might of the Licadian and Rastese forces both in an out of the city, surging like a black cancer up to the temple. At the very top of the mighty Ziggurat, where the 701st find themselves, is a small pocket of Nishran forces, cut off by the Licadian army.

Among them are Cardinal Donnegal, Marsina the High Guard, two Chorus members, and the Divine Speaker of Nishra himself. The 701st are barely able to contemplate their unique situation before the Licadian army’s general, a handsome, powerfully built young man walks up the stairs, alone. Separate from his army. Adorned in bright shining silver plate mail and a matching silver crown. He smiles up at the Speaker, and with a booming voice says:

“Friends! We have no need of these arms and this bloodshed! Cannot we speak as equals?”

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Arda Namara Falls

The man in armor, the one leading the forces of Licadeis deep into the city, introduces himself as Amon, the Holy Son of the god Roon. The Holy Speaker, at the top of the ziggurat beside the 701st and a few members of the Chorus, is rendered speechless by the revelation. Cardinal Donnegal, however, responds in anger.

Cardinal Donnegal sweeps down the staircase to protect the Speaker from Amon, but with a word and a wave of his hand, completely erases the Cardinal’s clerical magic. The connection to his god Roon severed, he is no match for Amon, who begins to proceed up the staircase. He defeats Donnegal but spares his life, only to be met by the ferocious blade of Marsina the High Guard, the personal bodyguard of the Speaker. Widely believe to be the finest swordsman in the world, Marsina holds Amon off, locking him in combat as his soldiers surge up the temple.

One of the Chorus, secretly the fourth and final assassin that escaped the 701st, rushes at the Speaker with a blade held aloft. The 701st stop him before he can get there, saving the stunned Speaker’s life.

The Speaker informs the 701st that the two gigantic statues on the ziggurat, just a few steps down, are in fact ancient guardians, and can be summoned. Lady Priam and Captain Thoril join the Speaker in combat against Amon, while Zystrol, Ruckal, Theon, and Kelborne race down the steps to awaken the Guardians.

The Speaker floats down the ziggurat, staff bared, surrounding Priam, Thoril, and himself with divine energy. They, beside Marsina, battle Amon, whose inhuman strength and incredible magic seem unstoppable. At one point Amon turns and destroys Thoril with a Detonate spell, but the Speaker reverses time and rescues Thoril from that grisly fate.

Zystrol, meanwhile, battles both the Licadian soldiers and the giant ravenriders circling the temple. With a lucky spear throw and a feat of derring-do, he is pulled off the temple by a giant raven, flying through the air attached only by a rope. He climbs up the rope, slays the rider, and attempts to steer the red-eye demon-bird back toward the ziggurat.

As Kelborn single-handedly defends the stairs leading up to The Speaker from a horde of soldiers choked into a bottleneck, Ruckal and Theon circle around the battle toward the statues of a giant dragon and a massive gargoyle. Praying to Roon for assistance as they touch the statues, the figures explode into life. The Gold Dragon scoops up Theon and the Gargoyle scoops up Ruckal, leading them on a wild ride through the battle, raining down fire on the Licadian army as the city burns.

Finally, in a desperate bid to end the battle, The Speaker attempts to summon a celestial to aid him. Roon is generous in this hour of need, and sends his first and most powerful angel, Zaphkiel the Watcher, to the scene. A beam of golden light penetrates the thick clouds overhead, and a molten-gold man with white wings streaks to the temple. As Zaphkiel descends, the giant ravens harrying the city begin exploding in flames. The only one to survive the onslaught is Zystrol’s impromptu mount, whose eyes change from glowing red to incandescent blue.

Zaphkiel confirms that Amon is indeed the son of Roon, but calls him the “Ill-fortune Bastard Son, the Deceiver” before moving to smite him. In an act of apparent desperation, Amon triggers his ability to seperate a mortal from his god, aiming it at the Speaker before Zaphkiel can act. Zaphkiel moves like a lightning bolt and intercepts the attack, which causes Amon to shout in alarm and surprise and race up the stares toward him. Grabbing Zaphkiel in an embrace, Amon attempts some unknown magic as the angel pulses with lances of golden light and screams in agony.

One beam of light, through sheer misfortune, pierces Lady Priam and kills her instantly. As Zaphkiel’s light begins to destroy the temple, the Licadian army attempts to flee the city. The Speaker is badly injured by a lance of light, and the 701st squadron retreat to the top of the temple. Ruckal and Theon, riding their massive guardians, scoop up Thoril, Donnegal, and Kel and streak away from the city.

Zystrol coaxes his strange new raven mount toward the top of the temple, pulsing with light, even as the Ziggurat crumbles to the ground. Moments before Zaphkiel explodes, Zystrol’s raven scoops up the Speaker, along with Priam’s dead body, and rockets away. Zaphkiel explodes in an expanding globe of light that engulfs the city, and Zystrol escapes by a fraction of a second.

Miles away, on a hill, the 701st set down their various bodies and rescuees and watch the city of Arda Namara become a bright glowing orb of light . . .

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