Characters: Javid, Metheri, Caslon, Klem, Cassandra, Brian
It is obvious to the party that their higher ups are not pleased that they returned to tell how they had been sent on a suicide mission. Within the week, most of the party is assigned to a deep penetration mission to destroy a bridge behind enemy lines. The party gets a few new members to assist in the mission including Klem, Cassandra and Brian. Thymas and Baralyn are reassigned to another squad that is going guard a delegation to Azul's neighbor, Caliban, requesting assistance in the war. After discussions with the new members, they learn that everyone in the squad is an 'undesirable' so the party begins to worry.
Just over the border into Alban, they come upon a group of Azul soldiers that are looting and pillaging a farm. The farmhouse is on fire, many of the animals have been slaughtered, and the soldiers are beating an old man. They see the cruel nature of the act and feel forced to intervene. After defeating their own side's soldiers, they discover that the old man has been gravely wounded, his leg has been broken, his wife is dead, and most of his worldly goods have been destroyed. Javid heals the most serious of his wounds but can do nothing for his leg.
While waiting for the old man to recover enough to talk, they search the bodies and notice that the soldiers are wearing an insignia that looks like two diamonds side by side overlapping about half way. They are not familiar with that insignia but are sure that these are Azul troops. This attack causes the party much stress and doubt as to their loyalties. Klem admits his worry over the mission and they decide to check out the scroll they were given to aid in their mission. The scroll looks to be a paralysis spell which would cause the party to be frozen in the act of trying to destroy the bridge. They have been set up! But by whom? What do they do now?
The old man eventually comes around and tells them that his name is Flanna and tells the party of other raids. Several of his neighbors have been attacked but he though that he was too poor to be a target. After learning that Flanna has no family nearby, the party takes him to his daughters home in the town of Eron. They spend the night in her home before heading south again. The hospitality of the Alban people is counter to what they have been told all their lives and leaves the party with more doubts.
The next evening, the party must sleep near a swamp. In the middle of the night, strange shambling mounds come from the swamp and try and encircle the party. They are forced to run and in the process some gear, including a lantern, is left behind. Metheri is angered that Klem left her lantern behind and continues to remind him of this fact well after Klem replaces it at the next town.
In Copan, they stay in an inn called Ed's. The food is very good and standard of living seems much better than back home. They notice that Ed's has been added on over the years. It seems that as Ed has prospered with his business, he added on to support more business. This process is counter to their planned building programs and rationed food and lodging they have back home. More lifelong beliefs of planning and control are questioned.
They travel on to Uxmal and take a room in an inn. By this time, the party has decided to not destroy the bridge. They hope to gather evidence on the local group of Azul operatives and give this information to the Alban authorities. They hope that this evidence will help them prove their story that they have decided to defect.
The next afternoon, a maid at the inn 'makes contact'
with them showing them the double diamond sign. She directs them
to meet at a warehouse near the bridge that evening. They think
that they have made contact with the Azul operatives. They figure
that they will meet the operatives, gather what information they
can and then visit the authorities. When the go to the warehouse,
they are captured by Alban forces and taken to prison.
Caption Belissa Aker, of the Counter Espionage Force
(CEF), was the maid that made contact with the party that led
to their arrest. Her assistant, Lieutenant Ryan Jurdan is also
there when the party is arrested. He tries to convince Belissa
that they should be executed but she gives them a change to explain
Caption Belissa Aker, of the Counter Espionage Force (CEF), was the maid that made contact with the party that led to their arrest. Her assistant, Lieutenant Ryan Jurdan is also there when the party is arrested. He tries to convince Belissa that they should be executed but she gives them a change to explain themselves.
They tell Belissa about the border troops, the old man they helped, their individual histories and problems with their old commander and the mission to deliver the war declaration. This story, plus testimony from Flanna, convinces Belissa that they want to defect. Give the state of war and the fact that they are illegally in Alban, the party cannot go free. The Belissa convinces a military judge to conscript them into the Alban military and give control of them to her.
She decides to give them a test mission to act as a border guard in Beryl. Beryl is a small town near the border with little strategic value. If the party is lying, they will likely break for home. If not, they can be trusted with more important work. She also has a funny feeling about something in their story. It tickled her intuition that these folks were more important than they seemed and that more was going on that even they knew. She had learned to trust this sense - it had saved her on a number of occasions.
The party gathers their supplies and heads off northeast for Beryl. Belissa, Ryan, and a few men escort the party. The party is not trusted with weapons so there is some confusion when the group is attacked by ogres. Before the battle goes wrong, Belissa dumps out the weapons for the party so they can assist. The party shows their colors by handily defeating the ogres. Belissa decides that they have proved themselves enough that they are allowed to keep their weapons after the battle.
A few days later, the group is again attacked. This time it is by ghouls but this time the battle is much quicker. Remo turns the ghouls with ease and the party comes to no harm. The party has shown their fighting capabilities. Belissa knows that the party could easily overpower their escort and have not done so. She is beginning to feel justified by her trust in the party. They reach Beryl without any further difficulties.