The Illuminated Ones

Illuminated Journal 2
By Caleb Shaw

After our safe arrival at Corvis and departure with the Captain Skarrow and the people of Barrington, we headed to the Cathedral of Morrow where we were welcomed by Father Morten. His excitement couldn’t be contained when we presented the relic obtained from Father Decklan. After exchanging pleasantries, he returned to his chambers for its examination.

Soon after being shown to each of our chambers by Initiate Arias, we were summoned to meet with Watch Commander Julian Helstrom. It is then that we’re told that during the brief interlude since our meeting, Father Morten had been murdered and the relic stolen. It was insisted that we surrender our weapons and remain where we were as the investigation commenced. We in turn insisted to be involved in the investigation, as our interests mirror both that of the watch and the now-deceased Father Morten.

On inspection of Father Morten’s body and the state of his chambers, only a few pieces of evidence were to be found.

  • A dart protruded from his neck, which was carefully removed by Mathias in hope of preserving some of what may have coated it. There were traces of a clear liquid lining the tip, but Mathias was unable to determine what this was.
  • Mathias’ examination of the body revealed reaction to an extremely deadly poison that goes by the name “Khorva’s Kiss”. A victim’s death comes within moments.
  • The weapon used to deliver the dart was an injection pistol. Close proximity to the victim was needed, which was conveniently provided by an open window beside him.
  • Along with the relic, Morten’s assailant also removed his written observations. Thankfully the underlying papers remained and a charcoal rubbing revealed what these were.

A painting of Morrow, likely to be of the living man himself was what Father Morten observed. Beset in a frame of Rhulic, or Rhulic-imitation design some time after the painting was made. By his written words, it seems he saw the painting sans-frame and much of it was covered and in excellent condition. Could there be something more to this painting only visible once removed from the frame, or is there more value to it beyond the obvious?

Whilst the others went to obtain goods for the investigation, Zakhar and myself set to researching this relic with the resources available to us. It is intriguing that there is no mention of it anywhere that we looked.

Watch Commander Julian Helstrom sought us out for a status update and, upon hearing what we had found, informed us there have been another 3 murders recently using the same method.

  • Doorman at the Steam & Iron Workers Union
  • Watchman at Corvis University
  • John Doe in the Grocers Bourg

The Grocers Bourg was the closest and the scene of the crime showed a blood trail leading towards a sewer grate. The grate had been tampered with to provide access to the sewers and an attempt had been made to disguise this fact by way of patching it back up. We thought it wise for Mathias to concoct a treatment for Khorva’s Kiss should we encounter it, and a way for Zakhar and Lucian to see in the oppressive darkness.

Investigations at the university and the SIWU failed to provide anything useful. A watchman was killed due to seeing someone making an exit from a window, but the university is too large to determine what, if anything, was accessed and where from. We attended the SIWU next morning as it was getting late, but it made no difference as they refused access, citing they had nothing further to add to their previous report. Morrow forgive me for losing my cool with those ankle-biters.

Mathias proceeds to brew his potions for the next days’ sewer adventure. Meanwhile, the rest of us sought after the body of our John Doe. Initiate Arias tells us someone else also came seeking him. He described dark-robed men and the leader and speaker for them had a scar on his nose. Arias recalls them mentioning the name ‘Galt Keller’ in reference to him. They paid for a burial service and the body is now buried in the northern graveyard. Inspection of the tombstone reveals the name as they said and it also bears the insignia of the Order of Illumination. However, next to the insignia are the letters ‘O F’; no one else seems to know what these letters signify.

After the snubbing by the knee-highs at the SIWU the next morning, we ventured into the sewers. Aside from Devil Rats and the inescapable stench, the trek through those dark tunnels weren’t too bad.

Not long after navigating the newer tunnels into the older, less used regions, we encountered a crew of cutthroats. After blasting our way through some of them, our dart-injector-wielding assassin revealed herself. Thank Morrow none of those poison darts found their way into our flesh during the skirmish that ensued.

As is the way with firearms, there’s not many options for incapacitating in a non-lethal manner. Due to this fact, our assassin died before we could encourage her to reveal her client. At most, we managed to recover the injection pistol with an unused dose of “Khorva’s Kiss” and the golden frame from the stolen relic.

A message from the Menite temple was waiting for our return. Potentate Reynard has requested our presence…

Illuminated Journal 1
By Caleb Shaw

We stood nearby Captain Skarrow as he spoke to the town, attempting to bolster the morale of Barrington’s townsfolk. A shot rang out from a distant dilapidated building and a bottle exploded beside Skarrow. Soldiers of the Skorne empire caught our attention as they made their way over the nearby bridge into Barrington. We moved to intercept and engage them before they could progress any further.

Though their numbers were only a half-dozen, these Praetorians were quite resilient. Zakhar engaged the majority at great peril to himself, affording the rest of us much-needed time and space to dispose of them. It was a hard-fought win over what appears to have been little more than a scouting party for the 200 or more that were soon-after reported to be marching upon us.

Curiously, no further shots were fired in our direction after the first bottle-shattering surprise. One can only assume this was a warning, but from whom?

With scant resources and barely a dozen able soldiers, weary as they were, there was little choice afforded to us other than to recommend the evacuation of the town. Captain Skarrow advised the town to pack light as we were to move out for Corvis. Only a few days travel awaited us.

Alerted by an upset child we set out for the town healer Granny Mosley who had wandered away from camp on the first night. Though no relations of her were amongst the townsfolk, she was lovingly called ‘Granny’ by all.

We tracked her to a nearby forest clearing where she had come upon some Iosan Mage Hunters, and they had their crossbows aimed at her by the time we arrived. These Iosans had found her picking some White Willow Bark and made accusations of sorcery. Mathias assured them that she was merely a healer and the herbs were supplies to prepare salves, poultices and the like. Although I was aware that these particular herbs could also be used in ritual magic, I reiterated Mathias’ statement. Strangely, this appeared to be enough for these Iosans as they lowered their weapons and left without saying another word.

A plundered merchant cart was discovered the following day. The lifeless bodies of those that escorted it were found strewn nearby, littered with arrows – later discovered to be of the kind used by Bogrin. Nothing of value, interest, or otherwise remained.

Up ahead from our position and out of sight, Father Decklan was blessing the recently departed when we heard him cry out. Racing to his aid there was naught that could be done for him. Father Decklan was suspended in a pit, impaled on many sharpened spikes. To our surprise, he still lived. With what little time he had left, he passed on an old relic – a golden frame contained the image of Morrow of unknown age or origin – asking for its delivery to the Cathedral of Morrow in Corvis. He expired moments after.

It’s hard not to think, as we dismantled those spikes and filled in the pit and buried Father Decklan, that such a trap could’ve been intended for us and those that traveled with us. Perhaps the merchant travelers were merely targets of opportunity, or they were mistaken for us by those that ambushed them. Unless the perpetrators were desperate for food and other basics, general goods don’t seem like a high value target.

Once again that evening, Granny left camp and we were alerted to this by some very upset children. She had left a letter behind, addressed to Captain Skarrow, as she had no intention of returning this time. Her intentions were to return home and avenge the fate of her father, brought upon them by the Skarholt family. Fortunately, as we investigated the ambush site earlier, some of us heard her muttering to herself as she stood in front of a long-disused trail leading off to “Dorshep”.

We set out to this path and followed it to its end, where Granny Mosley was performing some kind of dark ritual. She was chanting as an object in her hand shined intensely. We tried to get her to stop what she was doing, but she was having none of it. There was little else that could be done after she produced a ritual dagger to cut herself with. If she spilt her blood, surely the ritual would be complete and release something terrible.

There was no way to close the gap between us and bring an end to her ritual without causing harm. Lucian acted quickly and fired. Knocked to the ground and still writhing with purpose, Granny was working the dagger in her hands in an attempt to complete her task with what energy remained in her. Lucian fired again, killing her instantly.

While it is a shame that she died in such a way, it would have been worse for her and others had she completed the ritual. Rereading her note, it seems she was willing to sacrifice her soul to pay for whatever she summoned forth. Surely Morrow will forgive her transgression; it was an act born out of love, but twisted by the pain from the loss of her father. At least her soul is not forfeit and Morrow will see Granny reunited with father once again.

I recovered the object that was shining during the ritual. A very old ring, with markings that are so worn as to no longer be legible. My guess is that it is a family heirloom, either from her father or passed down by someone before him. I do not think it is evil in itself, merely used as link to her father in casting the ritual. As she has no living relatives or anyone particularly close to her, I will keep it as a reminder of that day and the many lessons it has taught me.

Captain Skarrow and the townsfolk of Barrington were incredibly upset at the news of her passing. He doesn’t seem to believe that she could or would do the things we witnessed and reported to him. After knowing someone for so long, it can be difficult to accept that which goes against everything you believe. Of course, the rest of the townsfolk were told that she wandered off to revisit the town where she grew up and was attacked by wild animals in the attempt. There was no good reason to upset anyone further and sully the image of someone they held so dear and had nothing but fond memories of. Interesting, however, was the fact that even the oldest members of the town only remember Granny as an old woman.

It was this event which inspired me to learn more in the way of Infernals. Never again did I want to be caught unawares like I and my companions were that day. The thought that the White Willow Bark she picked have such a wide range of uses, including the ritual she attempted, and that there were no other signs of what she was planning doesn’t comfort me.

Prologue - Part Two

Several days later, you find yourself within the battle‐scarred ruins of Barrington. Your journey was mostly uneventful, though you passed a number of refugee groups fleeing from war and strife. With the fall of the Thornwood to the Khadorans, the belligerence of the Trollkin Kriels, and skirmishes with the Skorne and the Protectorate, life on the borders of Cygnar has become fraught with peril. This has also extended inland, as the wreckage of several refugee groups you have discovered can attest. With an increase in traffic has come a commensurate increase in banditry, and the military forces of the Kingdom are stretched too thinly to adequately protect the roads. There was little you could do for the unfortunate victims, save for the saying of a benediction for the souls of the slain and ensuring a dignified burial of their remains.

You survey the shattered remains of the town. A surprise night time attack was launched against Barrington by the Skorne several weeks ago. They assailed the walls, broke inside, and completely overran the eastern half of town. The defenders rallied at the bridge, however, and a nine‐day battle for Barrington ensued. Thousands of Cygnaran troops and mercenary allies reinforced the town and the bridge became a scene of unbelievable carnage. Stymied, the Skorne destroyed the eastern half of town and then marched south. The focus of the campaign soon shifted to Fort Falk itself and Barrington seemed safe. Regiment after regiment was called away from Barrington to strengthen Cygnaran forces elsewhere.

The survivors began to rebuild. The eastern half of town was so thoroughly destroyed that it had to be temporarily abandoned. Barrington natives, plus many refugees from even less fortunate settlements, went to work in the ruins. The task of burying the dead took weeks and the rotting corpses caused a contagion that further reduced the survivors’ numbers.

The population of Barrington is currently around 75 people, mostly farmers and townsfolk. All able‐bodied residents are expected to contribute to the town’s defence, standing guard duty on the town walls and the riverfront palisade for a few hours a day in addition to their normal activities. The town is effectively under martial law, run by Garrett Scarrow, the Captain of the Watch.

Barrington’s temple was destroyed along with the rest of the eastern half of town, but Father Decklan has established a makeshift shrine close to the western end of the bridge, where he conducts services. From your interactions with the Priest, you know that he tends to be humourless, but he is honest, forthright, and extremely devoted to both Morrow and Cygnar. The cause for the lack of communication with his superiors was due to the time he has had to invest in aiding the townsfolk rebuild, in addition to the fact that no traffic has passed through the town until this morning, when a messenger from Duke Ebonheart arrived from Corvis. The Priest then dispatched his overdue correspondence with the departing messenger.

With your duties acquitted, you had begun to make preparations to return to Caspia; however, Father Decklan has begged an indulgence of you and asked that you remain for a few more days – the beleaguered citizens of Barrington could use your assistance. Garrot Scarrow has called for a town meeting in the square, and the citizens of the town begin to gather in anticipation of his words…

Prologue - Part One

You kneel within the Holy Chapel of Morrow within the Grand Illuminated Library. Embraced within Morrow’s holy Sancteum in Caspia, the Grand Illuminated Library is the heart and headquarters of the Order of Illumination. Mere yards from Morrow’s Seminary College, the Grand Illuminated Library rises as one of the tallest structures in the Sancteum. It bears the seal of the order’s emblem, the Radiance of Morrow, and the symbol of Ascendant Corbin. Aside from the decorative iconography, the library is a relatively plain structure. Its slate and marble walls are broken only on one front by its main entrance and a towering stained glass window depicting Ascendant Corbin rising several stories above it.

The light of the sun fractures through this window to bathe High Vigilant Peer Venessari Marpethorne in its golden radiance. Her bearing is almost regal as she stands before you, showing nothing of the weight of her 60 years nor that of her long‐held position as head of the Order. Behind her, in the shadows, stand several robed and cowled figures that you know to be the Vigilant Peers; a mysterious court of eight that assess rumours of heresy and foul magic, dispatch Illuminated peers on specific missions, and manage the internal policing of the order. This court judges evidence of infernalism and other dark arcana and decides how best to act. To defend both their lives and their virtue, these individuals are protected by layers of magical guards and illusions to conceal their identity.

The cold stone of the floor is only a mild discomfort; your year of rigorous training within these halls has subjected you to far worse. Indeed, of the score or so would‐be Illuminated that began the training with you, only you and the few others beside you remain. You recall your trials with a barely‐repressed shudder. They were designed to break the weak, the unworthy ‐ and break them they did.

The High Vigilant addresses your group. “You have emerged from the crucible of your trials to have the honour of serving Morrow in this, his most demanding calling. In successfully completing the demands of the exacting training to which you have been subjected, you have demonstrated the resilience of your bodies, the strength of your minds, and your unshakable faith in the Lord of Light. You have been reforged anew as Morrow’s weapon against the evils that beset Immoren. Necromancy, infernalism, heresy, depraved cults, such foul enticements seek out the weak of spirit, tempting the unwitting with the promises of evils both inscrutable and ancient. You will be the instrument of their undoing.

“In Morrow’s name.”

“In Morrow’s name,” both you and your fellow Illuminated respond. The High Vigilant moves to a table nearby, and takes from it a weapon and a holy symbol fashioned in the sun‐and‐sword icon of the Order. Both of these are presented to each of you in turn, the weapon being that favoured by its recipient.

“These instruments of holy reckoning have been crafted, blessed and sanctified in The Prophet’s name. Wield them righteously.” The High Vigilant steps back and gestures for you to rise. “You are now an Illuminated of the Order. On behalf of Primarch Arius and the Exordeum, I congratulate you. A Vigilant Peer will with you shortly to assign you your first task.” With a respectful bow of her head, the High Vigilant and seven of the Vigilant Peers depart the chapel.

The last Peer approaches your group, and addresses you all in a voice that is muffled and indistinct so as to conceal their identity – just as much as the voluminous robes that swirl about them do. “Illuminated. You have trained together, and in these trials have forged a personal bond of shared experience. This will strengthen against the enemies of the Church that are to be found beyond these walls, and for so long as these bonds remain strong, you will prevail against the darkness. Until notified otherwise, you are to act together in your assignments. Nonetheless, you will undoubtedly encounter disagreement and discord in matters to come. In such situations, look to the teachings of the Prophet. They will guide you.”

The Vigilant Peer pauses for a few moments. Within the darkness of the cowl you can discern nothing of their thoughts or expression. They continue: “Your first task concerns a Father Decklan, recently dispatched by the Exordeum to Barrington. It is a small town situated on the banks of the Black River, not far from Corvis. Father Decklan’s predecessor was killed in an attack by the Skorne several weeks ago, one of many launched against Cygnar’s borders in recent times by the heathens from the east. In the ensuing period we have received no word from him, and are concerned that he may have met a similar end. You are tasked to journey to Barrington and ascertain his fate. If he yet lives, it is the wish of the Church that you render unto him whatever aid he requires ‐ within reason. The spiritual well‐being of the faithful of Barrington is also of the highest priority.

“You are to leave at first light tomorrow morning. Within your quarters, you will find sufficient provisions for your journey. When you duties are acquitted you are to return here, unless matters of the Church or the Order require your further intervention. In such an event, you are advised to use your discretion. Ensure that you send word of any such developments through the appropriate channels.”

The Vigilant Peer raises a hand in a gesture of holy benediction. “May Morrow protect you and guide you.” With that, the mysterious figure bows respectfully, and you know that you have been dismissed from their presence.


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