Aestus Solo Campaign

A short campaign to bring Aestus Fellblade to the party. It begins in Codex VI-Chapter 9 and bridges that chapter and Codex VI-Chapter 10.

Aestus glanced around at the others. There were a few of the gladiators left, but many of the house guards from the Ararics and their allied house were still alive, though there were no vampires among them.

“Who was she?” asked one man, his blood-spattered face still white, eyes wide with shock.

Lady Drakh of House Lancel,” another said. “Always thought she was a little crazy. Guess this proved it.”

“Who was she?” Asked another. “I don’t care who she was. Who was he?” He pointed over to where they had all seen the Maha'i. “He wiped both vampires out with fire from the sun!”

Eryx (DM)
Would Aestus tell people in the crowd who Tawru One-Horn is?

Musha
Aestus says quietly, “Tawru One-Horn! It can’t be!” More speaking aloud to himself than to anybody else, though the shock with which he said it made it audible to those around him.

Tawru One-Horn,” Aestus said, loud enough for others to hear. “It can’t be.”

“Who’s that?” asked someone nearby, one of the militia members from the other vampire house. Aestus looked at him. These people wouldn’t understand. He turned back and set himself to business.

Aestus turned to one of the other gladiators, a hobgoblin, who was kneeling over Master Pebbletoe. The hobgoblin stood and turned. “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I intend to take my leave of this city while I can now that this piece of filth is finally dead.” He spit into Pebbletoe's face, the spittle mingling with the blood from his head wounds, then turned to leave.

Aestus glanced over at the militia members from House Araric. Several shied away from him as his battle-scarred visage swept over them.

“I will be leaving as well.” He pointed his pike at one of them. “I died here this day, understand?” The woman nodded, not wanting to incur the wrath of The Fellblade. “And if I find myself hunted by Lord and Lady Araric, I’ll return to Darkcrest and kill you all.” Then he paused. No, not Darkcrest; that’s not what Tawru had said. “The city has been rechristened ‘Dusklight.’ I’ll return to Dusklight and kill you all.” With that, he hefted his pike onto his back, gave a nod of respect to Master Pebbletoe’s body, and slipped away.

However, he quickly ran into a problem. Though he desired to follow Tawru, the Maha’i had vanished. Aestus ran quickly in the direction he thought he had seen the Maha’i disappear, but after a few blocks, he realized that there were no obvious signs of his passage. No people stared in wonder, talking of the regal, shimmering figure. No vampires had died (surely he would slay others as he did this Lady Drakh and the Ararics). There was no way to track him.

Perhaps he had vanished, as they say he did after freeing the slaves at Laishtek. The thought made Aestus despair. He clenched his fists. He desired to follow Tawru, but had no way of acting on that desire. He had never been much for gods or religion, but in his desperation, he cried out to anybody who might be listening.

Then, in his mind came a whisper.

Come to the east gate. I will help you find what you seek.

With no other leads, though skeptical of a voice in his head, he indeed headed to the east gate of the city. Throngs of people were leaving the city, desperate to escape the carnage. He heard snippets of conversation about how several houses had fallen. A skyship of unknown origin had descended on House Maramos and they were all now dead, but they had vanquished their attackers in the battle, the ship burned down.

When he reached the eastern gate, he looked around frantically, but all he could see were more people like him, trying to get out of the city. Perhaps Tawru was outside. The city guards weren’t even attempting to stop people from leaving—all protocols for searching or checking suspended in the mad rush to escape Lady Drakh’s blade. But outside was just more of the same, though there were many more people milling about, unsure where they should go now that they were outside of the city.

Here.

Just to the side, he saw a horse. His eyes narrowed. The horse was saddled and ready to go, with various saddlebags full of supplies and… his battleaxe and warhammer. He had not brought them with him to fight. And then he saw atop the saddle the small wooden rhinoceros from his childhood.

Come and join me, and I will take you to whom you seek.

Eryx (DM)
Will Aestus saddle up and go where this mysterious voice is taking him? Do you have any questions for the mysterious voice?

Musha
Without hesitation, Aestus mounts up on the horse. As the horse starts off, he asks the horse aloud, “Who are you?”

Then, depending on if he gets any answers and what those answers may be, he would also ask, “How do you know me?” “What do you want?” Or maybe “why have you chosen me?” or “why me?” or “why do you guide me?”

Aestus mounted up onto the horse without hesitation. It began to trot off, weaving its way through the crowd of people. And though he noticed some people looking strangely at him as he did so, he asked questions out loud. If someone in the crowd looked too closely, a glare from him would be sufficient to make them turn away.

“Who are you?” he asked.

My name is Alarya, and I have a vested interest in someone associated with the Maha’i you seek.

“So how do you know me, then? And what do you want with me?”

I know a great many things about you, Hajir al-Shams. There is a darkness that threatens to consume this world soon. There may be a role for you to play in stopping that darkness. But the threads of fate are still being woven.

The fact that this Alarya knew his Maha’i name was sufficient knowledge to assess that he was dealing with a powerful being. A god, perhaps? He didn’t feel much like serving any god. But even in response to his unspoken assumption, the voice came again.

I ask no service of you, for I know you would give none. But our interests align, and we can be of benefit to each other. It would be best for me not to directly interfere, for now.

They rode for several days, heading east and slightly south, near as he could tell. There was no food in the saddlebags, but every morning as he awoke there was a filling and nourishing, if bland, meal. He was able to subsist off of the food quite readily.

They traveled mostly in silence. Alarya was disinclined to give much more information than she already had. Actually, Aestus wasn’t even sure it was a she, but it seemed that way to him.

After a week of travel, Alarya’s voice came into his head just after morning. The light from Pressen was just a sliver on the planet, and it was difficult for him to see. They had traveled through the night, a sense of urgency coming from his mysterious benefactor.

Please, dismount. And take your equipment with you. We must part ways here.

He hefted the pike off the saddle where it sat and made sure that his equipment and weapons were all on his person. Then he turned back to the horse… to see a lovely elf standing there instead. She seemed almost ephemeral, so skinny and tiny, clad in white robes that seemed untouched by the dirt and the grass around her. She still spoke to him in his mind.

Just over that hill is the Maha’i you seek. But before we part, may I give you a blessing?

Eryx (DM)
Will Aestus accept the blessing from this seeming elf maiden?

Musha
He is used to some people fawning over him, but nobody has ever offered to gift a ‘blessing.’ He hesitantly approaches her to accept the gift, but gives her a sideways glance and says, “You have already brought me to Tawru, what more could you offer? What sort of blessing is this?”

If she doesn’t answer, he will simply follow her gestures and still accept, suspicious of a ‘blessing’ but trusting in her intent.

Aestus was wary. He had commanded much respect, and sometimes even fear. Many had fawned over him. He had received many gifts over his years in the arena, but nobody had ever offered a “blessing.” He approached her slowly, giving her a sideways glance. “You have already brought me to Tawru, what more could you offer? What sort of blessing is this?”

She reached up to the sides of his head, and he instinctively brought his face towards her. She kissed him on the forehead, and then stepped back.

This blessing will grant you the ability to see things as they really are for the next hour. The group you seek is just over that hill. She pointed to a larger hill a few hundred yards away. You will be able to see their skyship from the top. You will find the Maha’i you seek among them, but you will also find a young Maha’i woman. I ask that you protect her, above all else, this day. She has not grown into her powers yet. And then you will join your fate with these others. The coming darkness threatens to engulf your entire world. It has already touched your elder sister.

“My sister?!” He turned back, startled.

But the elf maiden was gone. All he could see was the grass swaying in the breeze, and all he could hear was the wind moving over the gently rolling hills. He didn’t like this. He felt somewhat like a pawn, and he was done with that.

I only offer you a path. You may walk it, or not, as you choose. But the path I offer holds all that your heart desires—but I cannot merely take you to its end. You must walk it on your own. You must take the long way around to your fate.

So be it. He squared his shoulders and moved towards the hill she had indicated. Tawru awaited. He would, indeed, tie his fate to the Maha’i hero and his allies. Creepy telepathic elf maiden horse people be damned.

True to her word, just over the next hill, Aestus saw a skyship anchored, hovering above the ground. There was a fire burning off to the side and a group of people sitting around it. None seemed to notice him. As he got closer and closer, he noticed something odd. There were two figures among the various people that seemed… translucent. He could see through them. His eyes narrowed. Something was amiss. He paused to examine the situation more closely.

He was still about 100 yards away, but there was also something odd about one of the people by the campfire. That person flickered back and forth between two shapes. It was as if Aestus’ eyes were trying to bring them into focus, but could not. He approached cautiously, crouching down in the tall grass to try to hide himself. He didn’t think that he had been seen yet.

Finally, about fifty yards away, he dared poke his head up a little to look more closely at the situation. Closer, now, he could see these unusual figures more clearly. One of the translucent ones was atop the ship, just standing near the back, close to the fire. This figure seemed to have grey skin and white hair that stuck out every which way. She was drumming her fingers on the side of the skyship, long black nails tapping on the wood, but no matter how he tried, he could not hear them.

Another stood on the ground, and seemed to have purple skin covered in yellowish warts and growths. Her jaw jutted out from her face and he swore he could see her short hair moving. He got the impression of some kind of insects.

The final one was sitting with the group near the campfire, and seemed solid, unlike the other two. The group was chatting with her, talking as if they knew her. Closer now, this figure was no longer flickering between two forms. Now that he could see this—thing—more clearly, he could see that it appeared both as an elf, bow at his side, hair drawn back, and as another crone woman. This second form was nearly naked, an old woman, skin sagging every which way from her gaunt form. One of her eyes was simply missing, an empty socket, oozing pus and blood, and the other seemed to move of its own accord, flicking back and forth quickly. As she talked, her teeth made a sharp clinking sound, like knives scraping past each other, and he noted that her teeth were long and sharp, capped with metal points, each tooth a seemingly different size and shape with a different kind of metal. This monstrosity and the elf seemed to occupy the same space, spoke the same words, and made the same gestures.

The others, two elves, a half-elf, and a Maha’i, seemed to be enjoying the conversation, asking questions, responding to what the elf/crone was saying (though at this distance he couldn’t quite make out the conversation). Atop the ship, he could see a Maha’i woman and a gnome talking by the wheel of the ship, seemingly oblivious to the witch-like woman standing just a few feet from them. Tawru was nowhere to be seen, but he remembered Alarya’s instructions. She had desired that he defend the female Maha’i. The male sitting by the fire must be the Maha’i he sought, but both his horns were intact.

In a moment of clarity, he realized what was going on. The blessing Alarya had given him was to “see things as they really are.” He could see these old women while the others could not, and recognize that one of them was posing as this elf for some reason. These people were in danger.

Eryx (DM)
You have found the camp, but your observations have allowed you to see that there is something weird going on. There are three crones here, one posing as an elf (Arandur, but your character doesn’t know that she’s imitating a specific person). You can see them. You realize (with a 17 Wisdom roll I asked for), that the others cannot, and remember that you probably only have about 40 minutes of the ability to see them left. What do you want to do? I’ll add that to Chapter 10, and then we’ll introduce you to the group!]

Musha
Oh wow… I can see this going rather poorly if I make an unwise decision…

Do I recognize what these creatures are? Do I know if my weapons will be able to affect them? If I attack the invisible creature on the ground, do I know if it will alert the one on the ship?

So I’m thinking of 3 courses of action here, but leaning towards 1 over the others. I would like your input on which you believe my character would be most inclined to do given his background and knowledge of the current situation. Some context: given that the Maha’i legend that Aestus is familiar with involves the return of Markus, Aestus believes that Khaska is Tawru returned and disguised. Here is Aestus’ thought process:

1. I think my first instinct would be to charge up the ship’s rope ladder to stand between the Maha’i woman and the translucent monstrosity before her. If I can, I would attack and kill it. However, I realize the danger this poses as I would become an invading force to the party and they would most likely attack me to keep me from boarding the ship.
2. Alternatively, I could charge in and attack the invisible creature on the ground and shout, “Master Tawru, your friends are in danger! Please send them back to your ship immediately! I will help you defend them!” As I charged in, I would drop my pike and draw my battleaxe and warhammer. This sounds most exciting and Aestus will do this as long as he believes his weapons will touch the spectral form (depends on what he knows about these creatures; ignorance means he will try) AND that doing so won’t put the female Maha’i in danger, failing the only task that the creature who brought him to Tawru gave him.
3. Otherwise, here’s the action I think would be most appropriate and tactical, and what Aestus would most likely do, given his concern about successfully performing Alarya’s task. I will casually, but purposefully, walk towards Khaska, pike over my shoulder and held non-threateningly. I would like to get to within 10-20 feet of them. If they stop me, I will hold my hands up in a gesture that I mean no harm. If I get to my desired range from Khaska, I will drop to one knee before him, head bowed, hand gripping my pike which is standing erect with its base in the ground. Then I will look up at him and meet his eyes, all the while keeping watch on the specter on the ship (if it makes any move towards the female Maha’i, I will immediately head to protect her as charged by the creepy telepathic horse elf maid), and I will say, “I know who you are and I have sought you out. I wish to follow you. But first I must speak with you on a matter of great urgency.” [My intent here would be to pull Tawru aside and inform him of the figures he doesn’t see without alerting the creatures].

I’ve been trying to think of something else to do that isn’t going to get me killed by the party or put my charge in danger while maintaining that “cool” factor, but it just isn’t coming to me.


Aestus’ first instinct was to rush the camp and head up the ladder. Fulfill his charge of protecting the Maha'i woman. But Tawru and his allies would likely take that as an attack on them. Maybe he could attack the one on the ground and beg Tawru’s aid. But he didn’t even know if his weapons would work on a being in some kind of spectral form. Attacking the one by the fire seemed even more foolhardy. He made his decision and strode forward.

As he approached, the elf—the regular one dressed all in black, noticed him first, standing up and drawing his sword. The others turned to him… including the two translucent witch women.

He hoped this would work.