Part I – They Arrive
(Year 1605 PA, WinMonth, Day 22)
The field was clear. It was a bloody mess, but the field was clear. Norman sent his scouts out a few hours ago with jammers and orders to make sure nothing remained living. The wounded and dead of the 109 had already been brought in, it was just the rotegoblin scum left rotting in the late afternoon sun.
Watching with a casual eye atop his warhorse Titan, Norman eyed the last of the returning scouts as they reported in to the 109’s second-in-command, PK. Phu Kem, or PK as everyone called him for short, took in the final report and dismissed the scouts back to their encampment. With a flourish that only PK could carry off successfully atop his muscled gelding, the number two man turned away from the scouts and trotted over to the rise where Norman waited alone.
The two commanders exchanged no words as PK maneuvered his horse in line with Norman’s, and they gazed down on the lowlands where their most recent pitched battle occurred. Fought and won, Norman had to remind himself. But, oh, the cost! He had not anticipated the surge to their flanks that took out half of their archers before the reserve lancers could push the bloody rotegoblins back. Half the archer corps, large chunks of the horse and foot corps, even the bloody engineer corps took a hit while placing and defending their jammers. The cost was high, and Norman needed the silence to absorb it all.
The silence lasted only for a few seconds, however, before PK, the aggressive dog he was, broke it. Patience, thought Norman. One of the final lessons he needed to instill in his men. Seems only old Norman, and perhaps his newest officer Flinty, understood the meaning of the word “patience.”
“Field is secure,” PK grunted. “And nothing is noted as living for miles around.” Norman could sense the edge in the man’s voice. Yes, PK was angry too, about losing so many good men. But it was part of the plan. What made it worse for Norman was that he knew the names of the dead before they even approached the battle. Lords! How he tried to prevent it, tried so very hard, but the book never lied. It was his curse, and he would live by it or die by it. Secretly Norman looked forward to that one day his name would be in the book, and he would get his chance at death.
“Not sure the reason for this one, Norman,” PK said as he glanced sideways at him. Norman could feel those eyes; feel their anger as well as their compassion. Respect was there too, even if it didn’t show so well right now. “But the men are regrouping at the scheduled point right now. Your orders?”
“Stay long enough at the rally point to tend the wounded,” Norman responded without taking his eyes off the battlefield. “Then split the camp.
“Send the wounded and dead home with a small guard. The rest I want to push South as hard as they can. We have several leagues to cover, and only days to do it in.”
“Yes sir,” PK turned his mount to leave Norman and the view of the battlefield below.
“PK,” Norman began, and PK brought his horse up short just a few feet away. Maybe it was time someone else was in on the details. He could trust PK, he knew the Boss would like PK, and he knew the Boss would understand a need to let some of the pressure off. To share the burden.
Perhaps he should ask PK to stick around and witness what was about to happen in this bloody, desolate field in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nobody and nothingness. It was important, it was critical to everyone’s survival, it would help PK understand.
No. It was not the plan, and he understood deep down inside he could not share the burden. It was his and his alone, the price he paid for his life and the debt of honor he owed to the man who saved that life. The 109 gave him purpose, the family to replace the one he’d lost long ago. He would not saddle them with the deadly details of all that transpired.
“Tell the men,” Norman continued. “Tell the men the Boss will be very pleased when he hears about today’s victory. Tell them it was our most important win to date, but not as important as the next one. The next one is coming soon, just days away. It will be another tough fight, where we are again outnumbered, but we’ll have surprise on our side. Tell them that I am proud as well, and that after this next battle I guarantee a weeks’ paid vacation and celebration-level rations of ale for said week.”
“Aye, sir,” PK said. “The men could sure use a break; the message will be well received.”
“Dismissed, PK. I’ll catch up with you en route.”
“Sir.” PK spurred his mount and departed after the scouts. No hesitation kept the number two man from looking back as he trotted away. Norman always stayed behind to observe something, and he always returned to camp safely. There was no reason to suspect he wouldn’t this time, either. Besides, Norman was a Hells of a good fighter, not just a general. He could save his own bacon if said bacon was in need of saving.
Norman finally turned his head and watched PK gallop away. Then he scanned the area to be sure none of his troops stayed behind. In the early years they had tried to do that, just making sure their commander was safe. But he always caught them before the event, and sent them on their way. Now they never even tried. Norman did not know if that made him sad or relieved.
Maneuvering his horse around to position behind the natural hill he’d been on, Norman confirmed he was due east of the next event. According to the log, the participants in this event would appear and head due west. He was not to interfere in any way, shape or form, other than to clear the area of rotegoblins ahead of time.
As the appointed hour approached, Norman slid off his horse to the ground, favoring his left knee. An old wound, the tendons usually held pretty good, but always felt sore after battle. With his horse tethered to his spear stuck into the ground, Norman crawled back up the hill on his belly to observe.
It was exactly the appointed time when his vision crested the hill, and he witnessed the event in its entirety. The fact that it was so absurd nearly caused him to laugh out loud. Norman became instantly grateful for his decades of military service that enabled him to keep his composure. For what he saw was not what he expected to see.
Following a brief flash of light and a cloud of mist, the air in the center of the land depression, smack in the middle of the battlefield, shimmered. Then out of thin air appeared a total of sixteen human forms. Roughly six children and ten adults, a mixture of men and women.
And all of them completely naked.
The adults instantly ranged outward from the center in a loose circle, scrabbling to pick up weapons left behind in the battlefield. Forming a loose defensive circle around the children, scavenged lances and swords pointed outward in all directions like the leaves of a circle-thorn tree.
A solitary female stayed in the center of the ring gathering the children, kids that Norman estimated ranged from infant to six or seven. The oldest child, a boy, looked to be of a squire’s age, which would place him close to the age of eight, he thought.
The woman in the middle was of a different sort then the other adults, however. She was with child and mighty close to delivery, if Norman was any judge. And judge he was, having old Nutso Nurse as his wife and forced to help her on more than one occasion of child birthing back in Lunartic village.
The pregnant woman was stunning, to say the least. Beautiful features and an undefined strength in the way she carried herself; she was purely the one in charge of this party. Her number two was a rather large man, likely standing a foot taller than Norm himself if that rotegoblin poker-spear he was holding was not broken off in the haft somewhere. Those things were exactly six feet from butt to tip, and the stranger towered above it, while Norman measured just under it; having dodged enough of those spears in his day.
When they were certain the battlefield was clear, the two leaders conferred for a brief moment, then took off in a Westerly direction. Two adults foraged ahead as scouts, while one lagged behind to cover their passing and watch the flank. Standard, by-the-book tactics. Whoever they were, they were professional and well trained. If a bit short of clothing, he chuckled to himself internally.
Norman waited until the rear guard was long out of sight before making his way back to Titan. The horse grazed merrily in the grass, casually eating around spent arrows and bits of armor or weapons left behind. Every day he swore that horse got taller as he put his foot in the stirrup and pulled himself up into the saddle. Or perhaps he was getting shorter. Who knew?
Pausing one last moment to glance off in the direction the members of the event departed towards, Norman shielded his eyes against the setting sun with his hand.
“And so it begins,” he said lightly to himself. “And so it begins.”
A light click and a heel to the ribs set Titan off in the direction of his command. Now it was back to the 109 and the next battle they would fight. That little voice in the back of his head wondering how all this was connected and what it meant in the grand scheme of things. But most of all, wondering if the Boss was indeed sane and not some crazy fool.
Part II – Mother Mary
(Year 1605 PA, WinMonth, Day 29)
It was a town like most, a bit larger then some, perhaps closer to city status than simply a town. Double framed on three sides by first the foothills and then the larger peaks of the mountains. The structure for a boxed canyon it formed; and the forces of nature whirled and swirled around the town, which sat on a flat stone butte at a higher elevation then the surrounding lands in the canyon.
The name of the city was not important, and hardly known by anyone other than those who lived or visited there. Close to the capitol city of Baroque, maybe two days’ journey north, the town was simply a mining outpost. It supplied miners and engineers who ventured fourth seeking to discover riches, and the townsfolk made a lucrative business doing so. Perhaps one in ten ever returned, and one in ten again of those that returned did so with more than the clothes on their backs.
The mountains beyond were treacherous and deadly, wild creatures and bandits roamed the lands preying on miners. Bandits, especially, as they made a tidy profit selling the equipment from their prey back to the stores in town that sold it in the first place. No one ventured into the mountains this time of year, however, because the cold weather added a third element of death to the region. Winter season was also very bright, with a high moon that lit the streets up nearly like daytime at night.
It was a typical night in this town; the wind was biting, the dampness penetrating, yet still the figure moved on through the streets. Proud and determined, she walked as straight and upright as her aching body would allow her. Every few agonizing steps, a contraction would spasm through her system, causing her to stumble. And each time she was caught with gentle hands from the man traveling alongside her.
The man would pause long enough for the woman to catch her breath and regain her composure, and then he would swiftly remove his hand. Almost as if providing the support she needed was an offence to her, yet that support obviously had a loving and caring touch to it.
Their horses, long since abandoned during a flight from the Crux, left them to set about on foot. Giving over to what was seemingly the most arduous part of their long journey so far. To be in this condition, traveling on foot in such an awful climate, would not be considered safe by most. Truth be told, the last seven days on the run had been the easiest part of the trip, including the last several hours of starting and stopping as tolerance to pain allowed.
Hunched against the wind, the travelers continued on. Abruptly a drunken man spewed out of an opening in the wall with a sign above it. Another tavern, they thought, easily discernible to them by the sound of loud voices and music emanating from the portal. The smell of food and beverage was almost overpowering, and the woman started to vomit. Her companion pulled her back a few feet into the safety of a short pony-wall, and eased her down to her knees. Sheltered from the wind and away from the smell, she recovered quickly.
“Let me try this one, Em,” said the man kindly but firmly into the woman’s ear. “Wait here,” he grunted as he rose and made his way into the Inn. He was gone no more than 5 minutes, before returning, door slammed against his backside as he exited the Tavern.
The woman didn’t have to ask to understand what had happened. She’d been witness to it herself a hundred times this last week. They were too hot to handle; members of a condemned people, fugitives in this time just like their own time. One look at their tattooed arms, a simple listen to their speech, or even a casual glance at their physical features and dress revealed to all who they were.
It was the printed images that hurt the most, however. Someone had betrayed them; provided detailed sketches of their likeness that always reached town before they did. Threats of death and violence, offers of great reward, whatever tripped the local’s fancy was hastily printed and strung around town days, sometime even hours before they arrived.
A journey forward in time of 400 years was all she could handle in her condition, but it wasn’t enough. They had not had time to prepare, to change their mannerisms and conceal their appearance. The opportunity presented itself so quickly, they had to act, and here they were. Stuck in the future they were, with no way home, and pursuit close at hand.
The man knelt beside the woman, that same look of rejection in his face she had so come to recognize. She nodded her support to him, and offered him her arm. Lifting himself and the woman to their feet, they continued on up the street.
A sharp blast of wind threw open the woman’s cloak, and exposed her belly to the elements. The bright moonlight outlined the distended shape of her stomach, revealing an obviously pregnant condition. She let out a short cry, and the man’s hand swiftly went to her stomach, where he laid it there gently.
“An hour, perhaps two,” he said. “We’ve run out of time, Em. We’ll have to settle for an ally.”
“No,” the woman replied. “Keep going.”
The man complied, and she let herself lean against him as they continued. Stumbling again a few feet later, another man came out of the shadows on the other side of the street and approached them.
“Be needin’ some help, there?” The stranger eyed the pair eagerly, looking for a purse or backpack that might be easy pickings.
The companion turned to the stranger and rose to his full height. The thief recognized who he might be dealing with and turned and ran at the spark that flashed in the eyes of the woman’s companion. The thief recognized either the spark or their faces, and no doubt would quickly sell his information to the local thieves’ guild or corrupt guard captain. Their dismally small window of time just got smaller.
Another block the pair stumbled on, eventually reaching another tavern sign. The door closed to block the wind, but light streamed out from the cracks. The sign held two strange letters, and the woman straightened and pointed at it when it came into view. “I know those letters!” she said. Turning to her companion, she said “You must try there. I recognize those letters from the old world texts. It means ‘the beginning of the end.’” The woman lost her strength and fell against the Inn’s wall, sliding to the ground. “Go. Quickly!” And with that, her companion hurried to the tavern door and went in.
The woman watched him go, she was losing consciousness, and the trip was taking its toll on her. Coupled with the thoughts of her previous six children, wondering if they would survive; would she see them ever again? She was close to giving up on life now; a rarity for her people. The cold was fading now, and a dark warmth seeped into her. The beginning of the end, she thought, or was it the end of the beginning?
It seemed like an hour when her companion finally emerged from the building, the door closing behind him with no sign of assistance. It’s just the end of the end, she thought, as the darkness overtook her. She prayed silently for all seven of her children, six born and one yet unborn. She prayed that the last would see the light of tomorrow, even if she did not.
She prayed for her beloved, her one true love. Wishing he had stayed the man he was when they had met. She blamed him not for the destruction he unleashed, the thousands he had killed. It was not his fault. In those deaths, he saved millions. Her love for him was deep.
She prayed for her people, that they could someday, somehow overcome the stigma of being the harbingers of death and destruction. And she prayed for Jay, her companion through all of this, her protector and her friend.
So, when Mary, code named “Em” for the first letter of her name, watched as Jay emerged from the tavern alone, with the door slammed shut behind him, she closed her eyes and let the darkness take her.
Jay left Mary, and hurried into the tavern at her direction. The building was simple-looking from the front, with clapboard siding all the way up the front of the two-story design. The door was even simpler, constructed from extra clapboards running vertically rather than horizontally. The inside did not disappoint, and just as simply constructed as its shell. A sign inside the door read “Welcome to the Inn of the Beginning of the End.” Looking around, Jay saw the common room off to the left, and an empty room behind a desk directly in front of him. To the right was a cloak room, about half full of coats and cloaks.
The common room was quiet, no music and no identifiable conversations of any sorts taking place. He could see a few individuals, sitting alone at a table or in a booth, head bent over a mug. Torchlight lit the room, and the arid and thick black smoke from the torches hung heavy in the room. It stung Jay’s wind-beaten eyes, and instinctively made him clear his throat.
With his hood still up and his cloak tight around him, Jay veered towards the common room. If he could just get into the common room, he might have a chance to catch one of the servants for a room rather than the innkeeper. A servant would be less likely to have seen their pictures, and might grant a room to them unknowingly. No one was around at the present moment, so he made his move.
A voice from the darkness behind stopped him in his tracks.
“Rules are no coats or cloaks,” the voice, a male one, said calmly and directly.
Jay hesitated. If he removed his cloak, anyone could spot him. He and his companion’s pictures appeared plastered all over town, they were wanted people and a reward existed to turn them in to the local Crux office.
“Rules of the Crux, and also the Benevolent Order of Oracles clearly state no cloaking or covering of features in the common room of any public gathering space,” the voice repeated in the same direct and calm manner.
Jay slowly turned and directed himself towards the cloakroom alcove. He was done for; the man would throw him out as soon as the fellow saw his face. Jay thought about a surprise attack, catch the man in the dark off guard and sneak Mary in. But his eyes could not penetrate the dark room or nail down the location of the disembodied voice.
“Better yet,” the voice continued, “just leave. I have no need of the trouble you’d cause me, or the pittance of a reward I’d get for turning you in.”
Jay prepared himself for an attack on the stranger; it was his last hope of a warm spot for Mary to give birth in. His mind instinctively reached into his Mana Well, drawing forth a trickle of Mana to let it course through his veins. The small amount, enough for him to activate any of his deadly skills at the blink of an eye, also gave him the telltale glowing aura that another Manastic being could see at such close range.
“Do not!” the voice whispered harshly. A man’s face peered out of the darkness and into the dim light. “Quell your ignorant thoughts and mask that aura!” Jay, alarmed that the man could see his aura, repackaged his Mana back into his Wel once he realized the stranger did not have an aura on him. Should there be a confrontation, they would both be without Mana at the ready, and Jay was confident he could beat any man in hand-to-hand combat.
“Smart, you are, for dousing that aura. As it is, that brief display could bring the Crux right down on you in minutes.” A middle-aged man stepped out from behind the desk and into full view. The dim light of the entryway showed a man with a barrel chest and the build of a warrior, but slightly stooped and unthreatening. He wore no weapons or armor, only a simple merchant-style outfit in brown and green. His wide leather belt did not even hold an eating knife.
“Badger, I am. And who might you be?” The man motioned Jay over further into the cloakroom, to keep him out of sight of the people in the common room.
Jay introduced himself under his code name, Gabriel. He explained he had his wife with him, and she needed a place to rest for the night, or she might die.
Badger looked Jay up and down, and declined to help. “You’re just too dangerous to have around here. You could bring the Order down on my place; you are too great a risk. Do you know what they would do to a fella like me?”
Suddenly it dawned on Jay just what, or who, this Badger was. As Badger tried to usher Jay to the door, Jay stood firm and said to the man, “You would throw out those of your own blood?”
“Shhh!” the man said nervously and looked back into the common room. “Do not call me as one of your blood; I have spent centuries running from that past. You seek to get us both killed?”
Jay put his hands on the man’s shoulders, and looked him in the face. “Listen,” Jay said to the man’s face, “outside is a fellow Chrystian who needs your help. She needs a room, and you will give it to her, or I’ll call you out right now to everyone in your common room.” There weren’t too many people in the room, so it was a bit of a gamble to threaten the man with something that would produce weak results, but it was all he had.
Badger’s eyes grew as big as wine mugs when that threat sunk in. He was sweaty and nervous, practically shaking like a leaf in the wind. What could possibly turn someone of his own kind into a weak tit like this? Chrystian’s were immensely proud people, scared of nothing, ran from nothing, hid from nothing. And then there was this man? He could not place the man, did not remember him from days gone by, but that was not uncommon. There were once thousands of them, and he’d only met maybe a third in years of his active duty with Lord Chrystian.
The man called Badger agreed reluctantly to help, but said they could not enter the front door without being recognized. Badger would go through the kitchen and unlock the back courtyard gate and the door to the stable. He would then bring some clean water and food, along with some blankets, and they could spend the night there.
Jay accepted, and turned and left. When the door closed behind him, he turned to Mary only to see the life draining from her soul. She was almost gone now…
Jay hurried over to where Mary lay, and scooped her into his arms. Effortlessly he carried her as he backtracked to the alley entrance and jogged passed several buildings until he came to a courtyard door slightly ajar. Pushing the gate open with his back, he wedged the door shut behind him with a foot, and glanced at his surroundings.
Badger had opened the gate like he said, but would the stable be open too? Jay spotted the foot-door next to the main stable door, and made his way to it. Once there, he tested the door with a partially free hand and found it unlocked. Jay flung it open, and once inside, kicked the door closed and threw his weight against it.
Catching his breath, he let his eyes become accustomed to the lack of light. He could hear and smell horses and what could also be a milk cow and a few goats. Edging along in the darkness, he heard a shuffle of chickens as well. Another few seconds later, he made out the dim outline of a large tack room that appeared to be empty.
Moving into the tack room, he laid Mary down on some straw, and shrugged off his pack. He didn’t feel that usage of a small amount of Mana would draw attention down on him, so he cast the lowest level Daylight spell he could, positioning the small sphere of light to hover in the far corner of the once-dark room. Constructing a makeshift bed out of saddles and saddle blankets, he arranged Mary on it, and began to prepare for the birth of her child.
Unleashing another small dose of his Mana, he used his Telepathy skill to communicate briefly with Rinnea. It required him to use his last Heavenly Token, but he needed to let at least one of the other companions know where to find him. He elected for the basic Telepathy skill as opposed to the Improved Telepathy skill that would enable visual message communication, because the Mana usage was lower, and less likely to draw attention. But being without any Heavenly Tokens, the key catalyst in many powerful spells, caused him worry.
When he had communicated with Rinnea, she communicated back that she would pass along the message to the other companions, and they would arrive as soon as they could. Jay estimated them to be a few hours away at the least, so made preparations to birth the child on his own. It would be his first birth done solo, but he had participated in four of Mary’s other births, and several others due to his minor healing abilities.
Focusing his attention on Mary, he knelt beside her and once again opened his Mana Wel to allow the Mana to activate some of his healing skills. He was a Hero, by nature and training, not a healer like Mary. But Hero’s still had to learn the basic healing and wellness spells that were the building blocks and pre-requisites of his more powerful skills. After all, Heroes took great beatings in their chosen line of work, and self-healing was very important to learn.
Jay cast his Touch spell on Mary, and was instantly able to see she was not only exhausted, but ailing from some weak variant of a curse she had picked up along the way. Carrying a child to term is a dangerous task for one with Manastic abilities. In order for the child to survive until birth, the mother must securely cap their Mana Wel so that no Mana ever leaks out and into the fetus. Even casting a simple Daylight spell would cause a child to be stillborn. The fact that Mary had carried seven children to full term without using an iota of Mana was unheard of, and proof of her dedication to Chrystian and his people.
Not able to use your own Mana meant you were often not in tune with your body, and unable to determine any hidden ailment or status effects. Although, even becoming aware of them, the cure would likely kill the child.
The curse Mary had was minor, and Jay could easily reverse it without any risk to the baby. Its reversal and removal took less than a minute, and when finished, Mary came awake.
“Jay…” Mary started to sit up, but Jay gently pushed her back down.
“We’re safe for now,” Jay said. “Don’t talk, save your energy for the birth.” Jay gave Mary an affectionate brush of her hair and cheek as she lay there. So pure of heart and dedicated to The Vision, tears welled-up in Jay’s eyes as he looked at her.
** (Year 1,055 PA, SprenMonth, Day 90)
Friends long before introduction to their Manastic talents. Neighbors in the same small village East of Baroque. Both from large farming families, they played together on Gathering Days, and made coy smiles at each other during worship days. He often picked flowers for her on the long walk from their farm into town, hoping he would see her to give them to her. He was in love with her, and always had been from the first day he met her.
When the crop poisonings started, Jay’s family was hit much worse than Mary’s. In fact, Jay’s family lost everything, and the only way for his parents and 9 siblings to survive was to offer Jay up for sale.
A very uncommon practice it was, selling children. But with the rash of destroyed crops and livestock, there was no end in sight; additionally, they were unable to catch the people causing the damage. So, on the first of the month, children went up for sale to wealthy merchants or trade people. Only a few at first, but eventually it grew to six or eight available per month in their small village alone.
Jay was extraordinarily lucky; purchased by a passing Holy Crusader. Someone already blessed with Manastic ability that recognized the spark hidden within Jay. He bought Jay, under the presumption that he needed someone to maintain his gear and see after his mount. He took Jay away that afternoon, and he thought he’d never see Mary again.
When Mary inquired about Jay, her parents made mention of an accident, and asked her never to speak of him again. Silently, Mary wept. A year later, while traveling to town, Mary learned she was to be sold herself. Fearing the worst, her mother gave her enough food to make a journey to the next town over to see about joining a religious order there. The Benevolent Order of Oracles had been buying food from Mary’s parents’ farm for a few months now, and they looked peaceful enough. Ironic how things change, Jay always thought.
Mary made her way to the religious order, and joined it. They, too, recognized a spark in her, and in short order she moved on to another facility to begin her training. It was there, training to be a Neophyte, that Mary met Chrystian.
A handsome man, in his early twenties, he was aged well beyond his looks. Mana has a way of slowing, almost stopping, growth. Thus while looking in his twenties, Chrystian was rumored to be over 1,000 years old. He had held a strong leadership role with his people from the beginning; having roamed the land in search of people he now called kin. He was their leader, their savior, the man they worshiped and followed without question.
Chrystian had never taken a wife in all his years, but once he laid eyes on Mary, she mesmerized him. Being only sixteen at the time, Mary became enamored by the affections Chrystian showered her with. She fell in love with him quickly and completely. Their courtship lasted for 3 years, and on the day after her 19th birthday, the two wed.
It was a beautiful and glorious relationship that lasted over one-hundred years before tragedy manifested itself. A visit from herself, a future self, showed her what eventually came to be true. War and destruction, with her husband at the center of it all. The future-Mary gave the past-Mary instructions on how many children to have, and where to hide them and who to hide them with if she wanted to save her people.
Mary, unable to tell this to her husband, confided in her best friend and personal bodyguard, Jay. Reunited only a few years after Mary’s wedding, as Jay came to study under Chrystian to learn some advanced skills, they once again formed a tight bond. Walking on air the moment he came around a building and saw her standing there, Jay felt crushed when he learned about her marriage; but he was the noble person who let it be for the sake of Mary’s happiness.
The plan, or The Vision, hatched 450 years before this current year, was for Mary to have seven children with Chrystian, and after the birth of the seventh, all would be taken and moved far into the future, where they would eventually find each other and reunite Chrystian’s people and push back the darkness that was taking control of the world.
The plan backfired when everyone blamed Chrystian for the destruction of several borderland cities. A number of dark-aligned priests staged a situation where Chrystian was witnessed giving the order to use all power available to level an entire region of the northlands that had been abandoned due to rotegoblin infestation. The dark-priests conjured up images and illusions of thousands dying at the hands of Chrystian and his army.
Chrystian was captured and imprisoned magically, and his army nearly destroyed by a flanking maneuver from the rotegoblins. The dark priests, having fully taken over the Benevolent Order and leveraging the Order’s influence and power, had transported large rotegoblin armies to positions behind the Crystians, and enhanced the rotegoblins with their own Manistic power. What was left of Chrystian’s Army was a handful of lone warriors who fled back to the homeland, or scattered off into the far reaches of the world never to be seen again.
Meanwhile, each and every single remaining Chrystian was hunted and killed off by hunting parties of Others and rotegoblins. The world apparently forgot about the hundreds of years of Rotegoblin-free living they enjoyed, and did nothing to prevent the xenophobic and genocidal extinction of an entire race. Now, nothing stopped the rotegoblins, except a few hold-out cities in the extreme borderlands. Chrystian’s homeland, deemed a wasteland, became a forbidden zone. With the death of the Chrystian peoples, magical traps, wards, glyphs and monsters were released, protecting the lands until they could be reclaimed by the Chrystians again, or fell into the oceans and gone forever.
This destruction occurred before Mary’s seventh child was born, accelerating the timetable for the move to the future. Mary, Jay and seven other companions all gathered with the other six children, aged 1 to 6, and opened the portal to the future using the spell the future Mary had provided. The Mana storm caused by the very strong spell proved to be too much for Mary, who was due in less than 2 weeks. Thus, they were only able to move forward 400 years, and not the 500 they had planned on.
Drawbacks of the teleportation and time shifting spells allow for no materials other than the body to pass through. So when all sixteen children and Companions passed through the warp portal, they arrived 400 years in the future with no possessions, weapons, money, clothes, nothing.
First order of business was to commandeer the things they needed, accomplished by raiding a farmstead less than a mile away. There had been some sort of pitched battle near their landing site that provided weapons for them, but nothing in the lines of clothing and food. Nearby was Mary’s homestead, where she was born, and she and Jay knew the layout well. They kept the resident family, so very distantly related you could not see any visual similarities, locked in the barn while they rounded up everything they would need.
Now outfitted with clothing and horses, they scattered. Each child was destined for someplace safe, and they would regroup in Baroque. Mary did not wish to know where they would be located, for fear of the information getting coerced or tortured out of her.
Each of the six children, paired with a Companion, rode off into hiding. Rinnea took the baby who had just turned one, kissed her husband Mous goodbye, and fled to the South. The others scattered for points North and East, while Jay, Mary and Mous, to be custodian of the seventh child when it arrived, moved west towards the capital city of Baroque.
Prior to arriving at the city, they encountered a large party of Others, who had sensed the large usage of Mana generated by the Time Warp. Mary, Jay and Mous were identified, and in a quick skirmish, quickly realized they were outnumbered in hand-to-hand combat. The Others were disrupting Jay and Mous’ use of Mana, further complicating their attempts to defend themselves. The three quickly fled, but had now been spotted, and were considered fugitives.
Mous, in an attempt to lead astray the party pursuing them, split off and drew the pursuit elsewhere, while Mary and Jay made their way to a town to find a suitable place for her to give birth. It worked; Mous drew them away long enough for Jay and Mary to find the Inn of the Beginning of the End.