Anima - Into the Shadows

The Ascent

As the ground gave way beneath the adventurers, they rapidly fell to their doom, smashed on the rocks below Ascension. The End.

You’re not buying that it happened that way? No? Okay, here’s what really happened…

Plummeting to their certain deaths, an enormous runic ring, inscribed on the ground below, sprang to life, slowing their fall and gently landing them on the icy cavern floor below. Vito inquisitively nudged the edge of the fading, drained circle, sending a burst of dust into the air…and swarming around him, sent him into a short-lived coma.

As Raphael effortlessly dragged Vito back within the safety of the circle, Tsura examined the runes inscribed into the solid stone. “An enormous focus for a massive slowfall spell,” she murmured. “Ancient….two thousand…three thousand years old.”

As Vito regained consciousness, a voice laden with a heavy Lannet accent, cried out in the chamber, “Finish up the damnable thing, it’s now or never!” Those with quick eyes saw the spectral speaker, just before he crumbled to dust at the exit from the chamber.

Meanwhile, Vito heard his own new voice: “Greetings, esteemed senator! Reactive protocol exaltation online!”

Soren scouted ahead, looking for an exit from the cavern…and found a gruesome scene of carnage. Azure Alliance soldiers and techs, entombed within icy webbing, hung suspended overhead. Moving quietly, he reported his findings to the Circle, and quietly led the group along the safest route to their destination.

Glowing blue runes emblazoned the walls of the tunnels… “A wizard’s mark,” Vito mumbled. Annnnd that’s when the spiders attacked — not from the front, but from the sides — the three ice spiders they didn’t even know were there. Six feet in length and two hundred pounds, they dislodged themselves from the walls with a cracking and shattering of ice, lashing out with scything fangs and talons. Vito was the first to fall victim to the icy, numbing poison as a fang pierced his armor. He wasn’t without retort, however, as he planted a bolt through the creature’s skull. The beasts started screaming — a high pitched keening that we heard not with our ears, but with our minds. Attracted by the wails of their brethren spiders, three more webbed sisters show up… One of the new arrivals, bloated with thick hairs protruding from it’s thorax, fixed its lifeless eyes on Tsura, and she, in turn, turned her glazed eyes to Raphael. Unleashing her arcane energies, she blasted him repeatedly with lances of heat, wounding him gravely. Meanwhile, Soren, propelled to action, hacked at the vile creatures, slaying two before any one could stand before him. The last spider clacked its way down the hall, only to be mortally wounded by a shot from the sluggish Vito.

More specters appeared from the shadows: “They have betrayed us. They shall be damned.” Another larger shadow materialized behind him, shaking the earth and speaking of scripture.

The group entered another large chamber, where more wizard’s marks marked another large circle. Hesitantly stepping into the circle, the group suffers its unleashed energies, magically reknitting torn flesh, restoring expended reserves, and generally raising the group’s morale.

More specters… “Doors guard the path to ascension and serve as a monument to great battle…” When the specters evaporate, the group is left in a room filled with a bas-relief of an enormous battle involving the floating fortress of Ascension. A poem is the key to the door, asking the intrepid companions to select from a number of symbols inscribed on the floor of the room. Considering for many minutes, the group realizes the poem is the story of their adventures since they were brought together on the fateful airship journey many months earlier. The symbol — the wheel representing the Council of Gaea — served as a key to unlock the door.

Rolling aside, the door revealed a green mist enveloping an upward path. A second wizard symbol joins the original — and Tsura and Vito recognize, at the core of the complex, interwoven symbols — their own wizard’s runes, crude by comparison to these masterpieces.

Loping down the hill, apparently set on escaping the hellish glow of the mists, two malformed, rotting, giant creatures come wading through the mist, accompanied by their loving man-sized hounds of hell. Dispatching their foes, the group climbs until they see an enormous army of the undead creatures. The cryptic specters re-appear, commiserating with one another: “The time has come to begin a second assault on Ascension, for our allies have not been faithful.”

The Wookie Gambit

The fight with the Dancer over, the Ghost and the Vengeance pick us up. We head north to the Iron Finger Tower on the White Plateau. After three days we land to the east of the Vercelis Marsh. It is a good place to hide the ships as we head out on foot. Our mission is to capture Arbiter Akeed and wrest information about Project Ascension from his traitorous mind.

Black rust streaks run down the outside of the tower. It seems to be made out of iron, hence its name. A crude picket line of guards watches the approach to the tower, but they are not very vigilant. Vito drops two of the guards with nary a sound. Soren and Vito quickly dress in their uniforms. The plan is to escort Raphael into the tower as a “prisoner” to allow us to surprise the other guards. The ruse works perfectly and we make short work of the scum. Tetsuro the Foo Dog was very brutal in dispatching several of the guards. He is getting more aggressive and bears watching.

A magic elevator takes us up to the throne room and Arbiter Akeed. It is not what we expect. He is bolted to the wall with wires running out of his open skull. His eyes are glowing green. Foul witchcraft! Before we can interrogate him two mercenaries step out of the shadows, one male, and one female. Soren tries to reason with them, but I have had enough talking and attack – focusing my Ki into a devastating distance attack. The wily witch dodges aside, foul magiks must be at work as she jumps into the air wires shooting out of her and attaching to the ceiling. More wires lash out at me inflicting a grievous wound. Her companion pulls out two strange devices and points them at Raphael and Soren. They make a loud noise and inflict wounds from a distance. They are very hard to dodge. As Raphael advances to strike at them an angel appears at his back, its fat cherub arms deflecting attacks sent against him. Strange one him, must be more of that strange church magik. The fight is evenly matched and after trading several blows the man calls a truce. His mercenary ways come forth and they agree to leave, claiming that they were not paid enough to die protecting the Arbiter.

Soren approaches the Arbiter and gets the information we need. Project Ascension is in the peaks of the Mountains of Scars. The Circle of Yahuda has been realigned to take us there. The Arbiter must mean the magical circle that brought us here. We also learn that the leader of the Azure Alliance, Mathew Gaul is at Project Ascension. Perfect timing on our part.
We step into the circle and it activates. Bright white light and then we are standing in the mountains, cold rain and snow whipping around us. A great Keep, floating in the air, can be seen in the distance. Project Ascension. Mighty chains run from the keep into the clouds. We wonder what they are attached to. The Keep has a dull sheen as if the walls are made of metal. It must be a relic from the Kingdom of Solomon.

Suddenly the ledge we are standing on crumbles and we are plunged into the valley below!

Dirty Dancing

We had our next mission. Track down, question, and dispose of Baron Bercello. Taro needed to get some information on Project Ascension from him, Tsura needed to return his ring to the Black Lantern, and for me there’s not much better than a dead Azur Arbiter.

Tsura quickly manages to track down his home, some well defended complex near the waterfront. A four story building means we have yet another opportunity to put the Ghost to work. So we head off to the docks and sail off into the sunset.

As soon as we’re out of sight of the city, the soldiers quickly bring out the balloon and convert us back to the airship. As the sunlight wanes, the moon rises. A full moon, of course. Taro quickly adjusts our route to bring us in away from the moon, so as to not risk silhouetting ourselves against its brightness.

5 guards were on watch on the roof, as we sidled the Ghost up to the roof. We jumped on to the roof and opened up on the guards. Something was off on my crossbow as bolt after bolt missed the guards. Thankfully the soldiers and the rest of the team took up the slack. A few brief seconds later and we were headed down into the building.

Soren quickly blends into the shadows and moves silently down the hall. Stopping outside the only lit door, he quickly identifies it as the right place with a glance through the keyhole. Inside the Baron is sending orders using a box that looks eerily similar to the one that landed on our ship a few days ago.

Soren reaches into his pack and carefully extracts a small crossbow bolt. Keeping his fingers clear of the tip, he steps into the room and pricks Bercello on the arm with the bolt. Almost immediately Bercello slumps to the floor, unconscious. We quickly search the room and find a wealth of information on Project Ascension. Packing the information into a chest, we move to carry it back to the Ghost when Tsura leans over Bercello and finishes the job.

We quickly head back to Bastille to resupply. Upon arrival we find the supply cache, but nothing else. That is, until a Dancer appears. It only takes a moment to decide it is time to stop this Dancer from following us. Almost immediately the Dancer launches a flurry of attacks on Soren, knocking him to the ground, bleeding from the leg and unconscious. The next thing I know, the air around me disappears. Struggling doesn’t seem to help, but suddenly the air returns and I can rejoin the fight. By then, Taro, Tsura, and that massive beast of a dog have torn the Dancer to shreds. A few more well-placed strikes and the air around the Dancer seems to warp, then swallow it. It seems creation is on our side in the fight against the Dancers.

Tear in Reality

As we board the airship, a Dancer appears and slices Nicholas to tiny bits. It says “ I will be back in a week for the next one.”
During our journey to Albino, we decide to solidify our allegiance to one another by forming t he Council of Gia.
On day 3 of our travel, flying over the forest of Remo, we receive a “package” from above. The “package” is a 2 tiered slopped pyramid that opens when Soren touches it. Inside is a circular disc made of metal and glass and a scroll. Apparently only the person using it can see the disc working.

“You have taken a very important step today. Know you are not alone in your goals and you have allies. The disc next to the scroll will help you locate insurgent reality deviants. We will be in touch.”

We have decided to approach Albino by sea and when we arrive Raphael and his newly acquired voice, secures us an entire dock for our personal use. While walking around Albino, I notice an unusual alleyway that Raphael confirms that there is a tear in reality in the entry. When we cross into the alley we see the Dark Lantern and enter to meet Nocturn a Dark Lord. He tells us to sign our names in a book for his mistress, Nozomi Kurayini, a dainty Asian women who calls us back one at a time to ask our hears desire.

Pass o' Death

After our foray into the city we still had business to take care of at the Pass. We determined it would be best to capture the Colonel commanding the Azure garrison since he supposedly knew things on Ascension. So, when night fell we did just that. Raphael, made invisible by magics, was able to slip in and seize him. He apparently encounted beings inside the Colonels tent, but I’ll get to that later.

When the Colonel was securely… secure, we headed to Woden and the Abel army that was rabidly approaching the Pass. We reported to him and then went seperate ways. Vito, Nicholaas, and myself went with the army for the attack on the Pass. The battle went well… I think. I didn’t see the end of it. I’ll have to make a point to find that Azure bastard and pay him in kind for the headache with my blade in his belly.

As for the others, well, I don’t know where Raphael went, but when he came back he could speak, sort of. He has some kind of clockwork contraption for a throat now and it talks for him. Oddest thing. Tsura and Taro though, they went with the Colonel, to see what kind information they could squeeze out of him. I guess it didn’t go well. Apparently, something that we think is a creature called a “Dancer”, the same things Raphael met in the Colonels tent, somehow took the memories of anything dealing with Ascension out of him. They did find out that the Supreme Archon himself was giving the orders and how they’re keeping Ascension supplied by wagon. They also learned about a planned attack on the key Abel supply point at Alden. I guess these guys are also able to stay in contact with Ascension by some kind of magic boxes they found at Ascension, whatever it turns out to be. But that was pretty much it. With no new orders and with the Pass taken (so I guess it did go well), we decided to rest up and discuss our options the next day.

I’d like to tell you we slept peacefully and in the morning the war went on, but it wasn’t that easy. No, instead Taro decided we needed to consult with his favorite gal-pal, Seline. The next thing we knew we were back in the Tower of Corvenus. She didn’t really know what a Dancer was, but she thought they might live inbetween reality beyond creation. Creepy, I know, but it’s Seline, what did you expect? Those magic boxes, on the other hand, are probably some kind of Solomon Tech from way-back-when, which makes me nervous about what else the Azures are finding at Ascension. Than, as she’s apt to do, Seline did something really, really out there. She had, stored in her wall, like a knick-knack, a dream from the Supreme Archon himself, Matthew Gaul. She showed it to us. Well, it was more like we were in the dream seeing it happen. It was interesting to say the least. He was in Albino, capitol of Remo and he was walking down a street. Then, out of nowhere, Jace, that craszy Nephilim (as they all are) appeared. He told Gaul, “You don’t want to do this”, and “it’ll be the end of everything”. Gaul didn’t listen and instead went through a door with a sign above of a blacked out lantern. Then he came back through the door… with some of those Dancers with him. Fantastic. I guess we’re going to Remo.

Like a Shadow. Like a Shadow in the Night

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. The giant rotors of the Seraphim-class war galleon Azure Ambassador spun slowly with a rythmic pulse that could be felt throughout the enormous craft. Vince Hawkins stood aboard the vessel in his tight blue knee-length uniform with polished silver trim and a small, pointed hat. He was on loan from the designers and creators of these fine Lucretian vessels — a tech advisor of sorts, here to evaluate their performance.

It had been a good year for The Company — both Abel and the newly formed Azure Alliance were clamoring for goods, and The Company had taken full advantage. Vince had already received two pay-bumps, plus hazardous duty pay… A good year. His goggles reflected the moon and stars but, most importantly, kept debris out of his eyes. He jotted a quick note down — Port stabilizer reinforcement flexing as craft approaches - he checked a nearby guage – 20 knots.

Peering out from beneath the bulbous frames, he looked at his sister ships. As he focused his attention on the smaller Cherub-class runner vessels, and hear their more rapid thwack thwack thwack of their tiny rotors rapidly spinning to try to keep the vessels afloat.

And that’s when the sister Seraphim, the Archon’s Fist, burst into a glowing flame. “No, no no no no no,” Vince cried, as the orange-yellow-red flames reflected from his goggles.

A soot covered document has been intercepted by Abel spies planted within the Lucretian technocracy. It is printed on a form with premade fields, but written in a hasty scrawl. Soot smears on the document indicate the author was likely covered in ash and had recently seen action.

To: Research and Development
From: Field Tech 1st Class Vince Hawkins
Re: Seraphim-class Field Tests

The Supreme Archon’s force had just started moving out to meet at Passage at the End, with five (5) Seraphim s and two (2) Cherub s in support. As the force was underway, Observer Rawlins spotted nine (9) older _Cherub_s bearing Abel insignia heading for Reinhold. As our own _Cherub_s intercepted them, we began to zero our ballistae on them, taking longer than normal — very likely our gunners need better training in this new type of warfare.

As the battle commenced, I witnessed a malfunction in the helium-hydrazine regulator on the Archon’s Fist, as the dirigible erupted into flame — or so I thought. Shortly afterwards, another Seraphim erupted into flame, and it was soon clear we were under attack from an unseen force. Shortly thereafter, thanks to a fortuitous bump, we noticed a small airship, silent and invisible, above us — perhaps another of your projects? Finally spotting our enemy was an elation, dampened somewhat as jars of alchemists’ fire rained down on our balloon, successfully causing us to go into emergency salvation mode before the wretched fire could reach our fuel supply.

We managed to save the bulk of the ship, but we were quickly losing altitude and we crashed headlong into the merchant district of Reinhold, greatly damaging the hull of our ship and impacting the commerce of this town. We lost several crew-members, including the majority of our engineering staff who were below decks. The other Seraphim that crashed into the city was not as fortunate, as it erupted into a rain of fire that soaked the city with its incendiary gears and components.

The Cherub that went down outside the walls of the city — the Fox’s Wink — was lost with all hands and is beyond repair.

Our enemies withdrew shortly thereafter, with seemingly heavy losses, though I would hazard a guess that Abel has employed some form of sorcery to aid them. Regardless, it would appear that maneuverability and speed could play a much larger factor in this new form of warfare than size and weapon strength, as they do in previous naval battles.


Not the Recap, just for fun

The first thing I really remember is the sound of the pick-axes chipping away at the ice on our bow. It sounded like someone forging a sword from the clouds, beating out a pattern from water and setting it still. The wind dominated everything we did here, in and out of the cabins on the Ghost, orchestrating a drumline on the balloon, feathering the notes from the laborers’ tools.
I had made an educated guess regarding the enemy’s movements, thinking back on the book I studied while I was an advisor, while I was thrall, really, to a man who thought himself a king (and, by purely empirical standards, fit the bill). That I was right, that I had again found myself in position of (potential) advisor, thrilled me. They say the Duk’zarist were ambitious, narcissistic fucks, and I can’t say it’s a reputation undeserved. The sobriquets that label them more succinctly and less flatteringly are similarly deserved.
My swelling ego overcame my sense of self-preservation when I knew I could further ingratiate myself to my colleagues, leaders, and (dare I say) followers. I devised a plan to strike at Bernhold to distract the encroaching enemy forces, but, more importantly, to further satiate the burgeoning megalomaniac in my heart.
That Bernhold was part of my intellectualized ideal and then became concrete, it made me want to possess it, to know the city in the only way a true con-artist could- I would destroy it. I had become a trickster to more frightening lords, and if I could deservedly nudge an entire empire by my recent acquaintance…- who, who could resist?
It burned.
We ducked low enough in a dogfight for me to see a screaming woman, pregnant for many moons, fall out of her house and be peppered with shingles when we scraped the rooftop in our ship, when we gallantly dove, mirrored eight times over, to avoid another ballista bolt vomited forth from clockwork death woven into an airship’s contours. But in our fight from the Angel, we were the only men that killed.
The sins visited upon Bernhold were from people or what they had wrought.
And Soren signed it with that accursed stone star, that damn black butterfly chosen for its ill luck, for its ominous portents. And for that, we will surely win further accolades, have a higher bounty put on our heads, rise in price to both enemy and friend.
And a charlatan is supposed to ride the waves, isn’t he? A real Liar knows to juggle worth and raise the stakes.
So why do I feel guilt like I’m choking on pudding?
Why am I so eager to assail the pass, to prove that I’m worth the price on my head?

Sheathing the Sword

The meeting with the rebels gone bad we exit the building quickly. We try to stay out of sight of the airship’s searchlights and their deadly ballista’s. Raphael and Soren take to the rooftops, the rest of us take to the streets. Left, right, right, left we slowly make our way through the city like rats in a maze. Soldiers try to intercept us only to be cut down or savaged by Tetsuro. Brave pup just earned a treat.

As we enter a market square, Vito spots a mage on one of the ships. I grab some Wildfire from a vendor, throwing some gold crowns his way. The mage cast lightning at a distant rooftop, must be Raphael and Soren. Vito makes him pay with a well placed bolt through his throat. We move towards the ship trying to get under their field of fire. I get shot with a glancing blow while trying to protect Tetsuro from the hail of arrows and bolts. Once we are under the ship Tsura bathes it in fire as I hurl my volatile flask skyward. Our combined attack sets the ship on fire. That should keep them busy for a while.

The next street ends at a locked gate. I cut through the lock as Nicolaas lifts the gate. That wiry frame belies some hidden strength. It seems that both Raphael and Soren have lost their pursuers or they are dead as we now have both ships chasing us. I get shot again as they chase us down another street. I turn and hurl another flask at the closest ship. The trooper operating the ballista is very unlucky as his shot ruptures the wildfire, spraying the deck with fiery death. His burning corpse plummets to the street below.

As we turn to make our getaway, a Shadow Demon rises out of the ground. He challenges me to a duel, promising to let the others go. Our reputation has preceded us. I quickly agree for it is better for some to escape then for all of us to get caught in this trap. The Black Butterflies must continue the fight. There is only one way to end this quickly, as I do not have time to linger. I must sacrifice defense for a killing blow. My master called it “Sheathing the Sword.” We charge each other, swords raised. I cut him with a vicious cross body blow, as I feel his hooked blade bite deep into my arm. As I turn I see him drop to his knees, severely wounded. Blood pumps from my severed left arm, pooling at my feet. As I lose consciousness I hear him say, “Well met, Baal will face you again.” A Shadow Demon! Why was there a Shadow Demon here…… My companions grab me as the demon disappears and escape on the other airship as Raphael and Soren have somehow captured it.

I awaken to the gently rocking motion of the airship. It seems that I am in Vito’s debt for he has saved my life with his healing touch, though I have lost my left arm below the elbow. We are on our way to rendezvous with the Ghost and make our way to Castle Odessa. Even though the meeting went bad, we have gathered much intelligence on the enemy.

Talking to Woden about the intel, we are asked to attack a legion from the Alliance at Passage to slow them down giving Woden time to move troops to the pass. Then we are to stop Project Ascension, even though we know not what it is. Anything to do with the Yehudah must be evil. Our little group is growing as we now have two airships, one stealthy and silent the other swift and deadly.

Before we go Professor Gregory, an old friend of Nikolai, fits me with a mechanical gauntlet. Those Lucrecians and their inventions! It does not feel right, but it will allow me to continue the fight. He also promises Raphael a new tongue after Raphael gives Gregory Nikolai’s ashes. I do not know if that was wise, but we shall see.

It's a Trap!

We were camped in the ruins of Bastel, living more comfortably behind enemy lines than the lower classes of our own countries, whiling away the time until orders came through. The ruins are supposedly haunted, but the general feelings of creeping dread helped assure that the more specific dangers of an enemy attack could be avoided; only fools and madmen would visit such a place.
After a time, we were instructed by Wodin to meet with a group of insurrectionists at the Nephilim’s Soul in Waldemar. We had been prepared to go for some time, so we were able to leave later that evening.
We landed outside Waldemar and continued into the walled city on foot. Truthfully, “walled” does little to describe the jutting stone teeth that have encircled the town, and the blatant use of magic that must have created it is, it would seem, largely ignored (or thought unimportant) by the populace. Once in the city, the group immediately set about finding bath houses, and, having cleaned, began to ply the trades more familiar to them than espionage (and the associated month-long camping trip in a suburb of the underworld). Nicolaas found a significant sum of gold pieces carelessly left in a register, Tsura haggled with a member of the Black Sun regarding ways to 1.) purchase non-cursed items and 2.) get rid of the cursed item she already has. She paid for the rumor of a place where the latter could be accomplished, and was offered freelance work for the Sun hunting down “wanted” individuals. (The proprietor only being so forward with offers to hunt human beings because asking someone for artifacts that hold Zeion in Anima is kind of like asking the owner of a pawn shop with known mafia connections, point-blank, if he has any untraceable handguns. Yes? I’m still a little unclear about how criminal magic use may be from place to place…)
The group eventually made it to the Nephilim’s Soul, Taro wisely choosing to wait outside. Inside, the group was briefly reacquainted with a man that at least Soren seemed to know. Rosa introduced herself, and discussions began, her asking for help in exchange for access to a network of rebels. The conversation lasted for a little over a minute before the building was assaulted by snipers from an adjacent rooftop and more crossbowmen that came in from the street. Taro followed them up, and a melee broke out. The men Rosa came with were killed as were the attackers in the building (By table legs, arrows, and a really scary Fu dog. Rosa told the group that they must have a mole in their organization (since she alone knew of the meeting place), and even as the group scattered to escape the city, an airship high above shined spotlights down on the building. Nicolaas surrounded the ship in darkness to buy some time for them to move without light. Raphael and Soren swung from the window of the N.S. on rope to a neighboring building while everyone else made for the street.
The question remains, if it was known that the group would meet where it did, what’s to say that returning to the airship is any safer?

Vote that next recap is titled Escape from Waldemar"

Strike Swiftly, Strike Deep

Taro’s Mission

One month into our campaign against the Azure Alliance we had a problem. It came in the form of the formidable commander of the 9th Legion. He was quite adept at leading his forces in victory after victory. Something had to be done if we wanted to keep control of this sector. If you want to kill a snake, cut off its head. So that is what we did.

After scouting the enemy and their camp I came up with a daring plan. Attack their camp with a strike force to get their attention while another team infiltrates the camp and captures the commander. I figured why let all of his knowledge go to waste. We can always kill him later.

On a moonless night we acted. I, Taro, along with Raphael and Tsura attacked with our crack force of marines on the north side of the camp. I carved a path through their best warriors while Raphael protected Tsura so she could work her magic. Her fire magic lit the night as precious supplies went up in smoke. Some soldiers tried to counter-attack, but were no match for our blades.

As the alarm sounded, Soren and Vito snuck into the camp from the east. Quickly and quietly they stole through our enemies undetected. Wearing captured uniforms didn’t hurt. A crescent blade dropped the guards at the commander’s tent. Silently they stole into the commander’s inner sanctum. He was awake and dressing, having been awakened by the alarm. Too late he noticed something was wrong not ten feet from his bed. Soren hit his target in the neck with one of his special darts and the Commander dropped like a felled tree. Not dead, but unconscious. Quickly Soren and Vito secured their prisoner and made their way out of the chaotic camp. Leaving was much easier with all of the soldiers running around trying to form-up and defend the camp from further attacks. Vito added to the chaos by giving contradictory orders to a troop of cavalry, sending then in the wrong direction. His hatred of his former comrades runs deep. I much watch that his actions do not endanger us.

The commander secured, we disengaged and made our way back to our waiting airship. Without their dynamic leader no pursuit was launched and we safely made it back to our camp in the north.


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.