Sun's Rising

An Unexpected Homecoming
In which old actions have new consequences

Our intrepid heroes were returning to Great Forks after meeting with the Walker in Darkness. Before they could reach it, however, each member of the Circle awoke to the profound sense that they were needed, somewhere to the East. It was not long after setting out that they realized they were returning to Oakhollow, nearly a year since last they visited. When they were no more than an hour from the village they heard the sounds of battle, and closing they saw a strange sight. A man they recognized from the village was battling a hobgoblin, one of the weaker Fair Folk foot soldiers but still more than a match for most mortals. Yet as they watched the man struck with a strange martial arts technique and his fist exploded with golden light, slaying the creature. Before any questions could be asked he greeted the Circle with relief, saying they were expected and urging them to push on to the village proper.

Our Heroes arrived to find Oakhollow profoundly changed. What had once been a moderate village was now a large town, and well on it’s way to being a city. New construction was evident, and nowhere more than in the center of town. Here a white marble temple had been raised, and before it stood four statues, expertly depicting each of our Solar heroes in heroic pose. They looked around in shocked wonder, trying to ascertain what had happened when they saw a familiar face. Joran, the man whose leg Tien Shan had severed seasons ago when first they came to Oakhollow, moved confidently across the town square on the elaborate prosthetic Arrius had forged for him. He smiled in greeting, and told all. He was now known as Steel-legged Joran, and was one of the town elders. Much had changed, he told them, and soon Pax realized his social magic had had much more far reaching consequences than he had thought. The cultural hatred of demons he had imparted to the town had shaped it, lending them will and resolve to battle the evils that beset the men of this world. Also, they had rapidly come to idolize their heroes and the god they represented, offering them reverance that bordered on worship.

While he spoke Joran showed them around the town. As the Circle watched, they heard the sounding of bells, and the townsfolk stopped to face the setting sun, offering him thanks and praise for the day and beseeching his protection. Surprised, they asked Joran who simply explained “Little Beam taught us.” Apparently this Little Beam had approached the village and taught them the rites of the Sun after their new temple was built. Since then, Joran said, they have had unprecedented prosperity, leading many to move there as word spread. Little Beam had also brought someone named Falling Star to train the town’s militia in that martial art they had observed earlier. “But we still need more,” he said. “We need you.”

In speaking with Joran, as well as Silk Blossom who was now the Sun’s priestess and a town elder herself, the Cirlce learned the firghtening truth. The Fair Folk raids, always a minor problem this far east, had intsified until they could only represent one thing; a major incursion. The militia drilled constantly, while the blacksmiths labored night and day to forge weapons of cold iron at Silk Blossom’s instruction, but still the raids grew worse until now the town was in great danger of being overrun. And so they had invoked a ritual, taught to Silk Blossom by LIttle beam, to call the Solars to them in their time of need, invoking the Unconquered Sun’s ancient role as the Guarding Star, warder of Creation. And so they had been called here, to save a place that now considered itself to be their home…

The Enemy of an Enemy
In which a lady speaks, and a bargain is struck

Our heroes returned slowly to Great Forks, torn by their half-victory over Typhon. The slaves had been saved from a terrifying fate, yet Cymbele’s son was lost to her once more and despair threatened to consume her. At last, the Circle resolved to that to learn more of the Mask of Winters they must seek aid from a most unlikely source, the Walker in Darkness. A Deathlord would surely know much about another Deathlord, and he was, if not a true ally, at least neutral towards them while having been troubled by the Mask of Winters in the past. And so they sent an overture to the Herald of the Final Rest, and having been granted audience, they set out, return ing to the shadowlands over which he held sway in the name of his master. When they met the Herald again, he seemed to be recovering, though he still hid his right arm from view and pointedly refused to discuss the girl, whom Tien Shan had determined to be his younger sister. He was cordial but distant, urging them to continue on into the Underworld, to the dead city at which the Walker was currently holding court.

And so our heroes journeyed on into that sunless realm. One night as they slept, Tien Shan and Arrius were both visited by a lady in green, who spoke to them in half-prophetic riddles, teasing them with the sense of truths just beyond their grasp. They spoke but little of thier dreams, and the Circle pressed on. They were welcomed with ceremony and honor to the Walker’s court, but were left shaken by the cold power of his presense in their first meeting with him. More surprising was his consort, the Green Lady, and the woman from whom Arrius and Tien Shan had seen in their dreams. She purported to be a double-agent to the Mask of Winters, and most disturbingly, a Sidereal Exalted. When pressed on the matter she claimed to have no knowledge of the dreams Tien Shan and Arrius had experienced, and even Arrius’s Solar power could not show her to be lying.

Eventually they came to why they had sought the Walker in Darkness and he did agree to lend them some aid. He offered intelligence and updates as to the Mask of Winter’s actions, as well as a mpa from the First Age, showing many lost things, as well as a way into Thorns by way of the fabled Gates of Auspicious Passage. In exchange however, he asked that Arrius build for him a suit of mystically powered armor, based on First Age plans which he claimed his artisans could not duplicate. He asked that they be delivered two years from that day, to which the Circle agreed, binding the oath with Pax’s sacred power. And so, hard-won knowledge in hand, they set out for home. They had what they sought, yet were filled with foreboding at what, in the end, it would come to cost them…

A Fall Into Darkness
In which things are found, and lost

As we rejoin our heroes, they set out from Nexus to set an ambush for the caravan bound for Thorns, led by the deathknight Typhon and bearing a chorus of child-slaves for some nefarious purpose. Somehwat surprisingly, the Herald of the Final Rest asks to join them as they journey south. Pax agrees, and so he travels with them, a not entirely welcome guest aborad the barge, and one about whom Cybele in particular harbours powerful reservations. Still, she will let nothing divert her from her task when she is this close to at last recovering her lost son. Eventually, the Circle reaches the town of Varsi, where they watch and wait for Typhon to arrive.

At last he does, and it becomes clear that he has strengthened his guard since leaving Nexus. The mercenary ranks have swelled, and now include several Southern men, bearing their trademark firedust weapons. Indeed, the Mask of Winters would seem to be in the market for firedust, as the Southerners are protecting a small wagon full of the precious substance. AS she watches the ships unloading, and loading from the docks into the great Guild wagons rented for the purpose, Cybele sees the head of the household into which her son had been placed, even as Pax notes the wagons onto which the enslaved children were ushered.

Immediately the circle set out, and that evening, after the caravan had established camp, they struck. Tien Shan allowed his Solar anima to erupt into the night, and as the guards were drawn to identify the strange threat, the others launched themselves into the camp like the blade of a scalpel. The battle raged furiously, adn not long after it had begun, Typhon emerged into the camp. Even as he lashed out at Arrius, the Herald struck, falling into the camp like a dying star. His horrific blade fell among the guards, and bolts of necrotic enrgy leapt from his hand to char and rot them as they stood.

During the chaos of battle, Cybele entered one of the wagons, and there took back her infant son. Despite the glowing light that wreathed her, and the cast mark gleaming bright upon her brow, the child looked at her calmly, all unafraid by the din of combat and the stink of blood. As she emerged and looked around, she could se the battle was nearly won. Though Typhon fought with terrifying ferocity, sending Arrius flying from the circle of wagons with a vicious hail of blows, he was now alone, facing a circle of Solars. He snarled as he scanned the camp, until he spotted Cybele, and then he pounced in the most hideous way imaginable. Springing to the attack, he lashed out with a flurry of kicks, with the last knocking the child from her arms, and into his own. Seizing the child, he fell back, scooping up the flame piece of a fallen mercenary and using it to ignite a wagon that contained the child-slaves the Circle had come to save. with that cover, he fled into the night, vanishing in a burst of strange sorcery.

When the wagon burst into flame, the Herald gave a yell of denial and rage, then turned to plunge unhesitatingly into the inferno. Not long after, the back of the wagon exploded away in a flurry of splinters, and he emerged, his darkened anima unfurled about him, and cradling a young girl in his arms. At his insistence, Pax took the girl away, and then the Herald was stricken by phantom agony, his right arm exploding in blue flame, melting and withering before the shocked eyes of the rest of the Circle. When he regained his breath, he stood and turned to depart, pausing only to extract a mystically bound oath from Tien Shan to watch over the girl. With that, he turned into the night, leaving our heroes to wonder about their erst-while ally, and to rage with mounting fury against their shadowy foe…

In the Name of the Son
In which a trail grows warm

Upon their return to Great Forks, our heroes found themselves with time on their hands. Most occupied themselves with work and training, while Cybele continued her search for her lost son. In time, she found a long-sought lead, telling her the family she pursued had taken ship downriver to the city of Nexus. and so at her request did they all set out, journeying down river with all haste, and setting out to search the city.

It was at this point that the Circle received unlooked-for aid. Herald of the Final Rest appraoched them on their first night in Nexus. Claiming that his master’s interests once again follwed that of the Circle, he revealed that the family Cybele sought had joind a convoy bound for the city of Thorns, the capital of the Mask of Winters, perhaps hoping from there to continue on to the Blessed Isle. His master wished this convoy stopped, and was confident that doing so would also be in the best interests of Great Forks. In this working together all of their goals could be satisfied. The Herald swore to help in any way he could, but said his actions were constrained by certain concerns he was not free to discuss. Still, he guided our heroes to finding the warehouse in which the caravan now stayed.

p.Upon investigation, our heroes found that the main component of the shipment was in fact children. As they wondered over this fact, they heard as the children broke into the most wonderous song. Listening, enraptured, Tien Shan suddenly felt a surge of ancient memory, becoming lost in a time when he wore a different body, but had heard that same song. It was for some form of ritual, he told his friends, one that would surely mean the death, and worse than death, for the children there. All agreed that this shipment must be stopped. And so our heroes began to plan…

A Walk in Shadows
In which a new player takes the stage, and an enemy takes shape

On returning to Great Forks, the Circle returned to the home of Hidden Path. Once again, Arrius and Tien Shan were berated for their carelessness. They had revealed their true natures to an entire town, making no effort to conceal themselves, fighting demons on public streets. He seemed inordinately upset by the whole thing. Before he could finish, word came from Shield of a Different Day. The Walker in Darkness had consented to her request, and she asked that the Circle act on her behalf, journeying into the shadowland to meet with his representative, and eventually to interrogate the so-called spies he had captured.

And so they journeyed, eventually reaching the shadowland. Forced to continue on foot due to a long-standing curse on the land that slays all mortal beings, they ventured inward, eventually coming to a village entirely populated by the dead. It was there that they met the representative of the Walker in Darkness, a deathknight known as the Herald of the Final Rest. After an evening meal and a rest at the inn, he lead our heroes into the Underworld, passing through a ghost-city. While there, the Circle was joined by Searol Banek, a man who claimed that he was sent to aid Arrius, who would, with time, reveal himself to be a Sidereal Exalted. He joined our heroes as they resumed their journey, finally reaching the shadowland where the “spies” were held.

Interrogating them to any true statements proved all but impossible, as they were bound by powerful magic, which Arrius realized was both like and unlike the power of sorcery. Still, our heroes were able to reveal that their true employer was not Great Forks, but the Mask of Winters. He sought to engineer a war with the Walker in Darkness, and thus weaken two of his rivals. Our heroes bore this word back to Great Forks, with the good wishes of the Herald, and many questions about his true nature…

A Pebble in the Pond
In which evil is uncovered, and beginnings are made

After returning to Great Forks, Hidden Path took our heroes aside. Something had happened he said. He didn’t know what, but something had caused “a weakness in the Tapestry,” something weakening the strands of Fate in a village not far from Great Forks. He asked that the Circle investigate, and at the urging of Arrius and Tien Shan, they agreed.

From there they set out, eventually reaching the town of Oakhollow, which was built entirely inside a massive tree. While there, it quickly became evident that something was amiss. Careful investigation eventually led to the discovery of a demonic cult that had settled among the people there, centered around the worship of a being known as Oribilis, the End of All Wisdom. It was this cult that must have been causing what Hidden Path had noticed. With power and Solar glory, our heroes purged the town, battling demons before the eyes of the town, and rooting out the core of the evil there. Before leaving, Pax took it upon himself to make sure that rot could never again take root in Oakhollow, and so he wielded his power to reshape the town’s culture, instilling a belief that the infernal must be denied at every turn. With that, our heroes departed for Great Forks as saviors, though the true consquences of their actions have yet to be felt…

To Aid a Goddess
In which we meet a new friend

Our heroes found themselves summoned before Shield of a Different Day. There she had a request to make. She had no great love for the Solar Exalted, but was willing to make no issue of their stay in Great Forks, in exchange for their aid. The armies of the Deathlord known as the Walker in Darkness had been launching ever-stronger raids into Great Forks territory, but the pattern was somehow wrong. She asked that the Circle investigate, and see if they could ascertain the true nature of these attacks.

After consulting Hidden Path, our heroes agreed, and so set forth to one of several sites where undead forces had been observed. After reaching the village of Three Goats Dancing, they encountered a young man named Pax. Gradually it became clear that he was like them, and so he agreed to aid them in their mission, in the hopes of better understanding his own nature. And so did three become four. Eventually, they faced down a necromancer and a deathknight within the confines of a Solar tomb. Slaying the deathknight, the Circle took the necromancer prisoner, and brought him back to Great Forks. There, under interrogation it was revealed that the raids had been retaliatory in nature, a response to actions supposedly taken by Great Forks. He claimed that the Walker’s forces had captured spies of Great Forks within their territory, though Dayshield denied any such action. She dispatched a messenger to the Walker in Darkness, requesting that her chosen envoys should have a chance to interrogate these spies. She then thanked the Circle for their aid, and resolved to await a reply…

Well Met in Great Forks
In which our heroes take the stage

In this session, we met the first members of our young Circle. Arrius and Tien Shan, students of the gruff and mysterious Hidden Path, had settled within the city of Great Forks. At the same time, the wandering Cybele was within the city, searching for her lost son. On the night on which our adventure openned, cries of alarm and terror were suddenly heard throughout the city, as war ghost appeared, slaughtering the innocent even as a zomobie horde assaulted the main gates.

Arrius and Tien Shan rushed to the gates to help hold them, even as, all unbeknownst to them, Cybele battled against a group of war ghosts. After destroying this lesser group, she rushed to the gate, there to help stave off the main assault. The battle raged fierce and long, forcing our heroes to bring their supernatural might to bear, until the light of their animas shone about them like a three-fold sun. Finally the dead were cast back, and in the distance, the Circle could make out a shadowed figure on horseback speaking to another on foot. Even as they watched, both figures vaished into the gloom.

After introductions, Cymbele accompanied the others back to the home of Hidden Path, who was outraged that his students should have revealed their Exalted nature to public scrutiny. Even as he berated them, a messenger arrived. Our heroes had been summoned…


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