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When the Bells Toll in Magnagora

The Curse

The bells tolled for midnight in Magnagora, hailing the arrival of the 22nd of Shanthin in the year 471, as the Crimson Lady sounded her horn with urgency, suddenly making way for the docks. Aboard the vessel, captain Yishka Feyranti was met by Geomancer Sabella, Shango d’Cente, and Avurekhos Feyranti, before other concerned citizens gathered to hear her words as well. Hearing that the skeletal captain operating the boat taking Magnagorans to and from the Spectre Isle appears to be missing and things upon the island itself are amiss, Magnagorans split into groups and set off to investigate the matter.

Not knowing yet what she has stumbled upon, Adal n’Kylbar has been amusing herself with the skeletal captain’s drunken antics at the Wailing Woman Inn when the Fist of Luciphage, Avurekhos, stumbled upon them, soon joined by a handful of others. The captain, however, was of little use in explaining his own absence until Aois-Dana Vatul Feyranti got another round of drinks for the table. At that the captain revealed that a curse appears to be hanging over Spectre Isle and serfs sent to recover valuable ectoplasm for the city’s Necromentate have been fleeing white as sheets.

Meanwhile, Sabella came face to face with the very curse being discussed as a peculiar kind of spectre assaulted her at the Isle. Having heard of the captain’s whereabouts, she brought the ectoplasm of the vanquished foe along with her to see if he might know more about it. He did not, but seeing the dreadful thing was all the motivation the captain needed to get back to his post at speed.

Hunting parties have formed upon the Spectre Isle, amongst them some of the city’s high-ranked citizens such as Councillor Lavinya d’Murani, Mystagogue Kailanna n’Kylbar, Sohei Eicia n’Kylbar, Commandant Mrak n’Kylbar, and Kanaya n’Kylbar; soon joined by the young and eager Penitent Zlo, Maeko i’Vipere, Violinist Ophir, Drauzgot n’Kylbar, and Hegemone i’Vipere. Right and left were the increasingly more powerful dark spectres slain to lift the dark pall hanging over the ruins. Amidst cold, flesh-rending winds, the Magnagorans toiled until they happened upon the spectre of Rudzine Reltine, who sought to drive them away. They would not have it, however, as ectoplasm is a vital resource for the city. The battle that ensued brought forth the last of the dark spectres and with the final killing stroke, the curse has been lifted and the isle preserved.

The Prophecy

Ever the inquisitive minds, Magnagorans analysed the dark spectres with the assistance of Seritul d’Vanecu and, deeming them safe enough to utilise, processed them into the Necromentate. Reservations held by some appeared to have been well-founded soon after when the Necromentate uttered an ear-piercing wail and sought to break free of its restrains.

Its keeper, Kunthin Shadowarm, has assured the city, however, that it is a regular occurrence, often resulting from a prophecy brewing within the Necromentate and needing an outlet. The efforts to coerce the prophecy have been joined by Urieth n’Kylbar and Penitent Azherani and within a day Sabella heard the ominous words:

“FORETOLD BUT NEVER FOREWARNED, THE SCIONS OF MAGNORA FUMBLE IN IGNORANCE, SUBSERVIENT TO THE FATES. ACCEPTANCE IS A SERF’S SUBSTITUTE FOR CHOICE. WHEN DARKNESS DESCENDS UPON THE BROKEN EMPIRE, THE NINE WILL MARK THE BEGINNING OF THE END. IN THE BLOOD SPILLED, RUST AND CHAOS WILL REIGN THE ENGINE AND THE TIME OF EMPOWERMENT WILL BE YOUR UNDOING. IN DESTRUCTION, TRANSFORMATION. IN FEAR, STAGNATION.”

The very mention of “the nine” sent those versed in the old ways into a speculative frenzy. Marcella n’Lochli argued it must be the Ninth House come to operate within the city again, despite its alleged ruin. Posts were written, information spread from mouth to mouth, discussions were held in gaslit parlours. Even guards were posted at the tutors of each of the Guilds should the Ninth come after them. But the city was quiet, save for the bells rejoicing for midnight.

The Ninth

Such is the oft-accursed manner of prophecy that it comes in least-expected forms and under unfathomable guises. It was the 22nd of Roarkian, exactly a month since a curse befell the broken empire at the heart of the Sea of Despair, when the suspicious behaviour of beggars caught Marcella’s eye. Pursued by both her and Rolsand D’Cente, the beggers kept fleeing, pleading innocence even as they ran in terror. Managing to pry a location out of one of them, Marcella went looking up and down Wraith Lane.

There, prominently displayed in the middle of the street, a viscanti nobleman laid slain. His horn smashed, an illegible brand upon his chest, and his body drained of all lifeforce, the corpse was a puzzle for the increasingly sizable crowd made up of Kalas Cyna, Avurekhos, Azherani, and Kalas Osun. While citizens investigated the corpse on their own, Urieth set off to alert the Constabulary. Returning to the crime scene with a constable in tow, he learnt that a note had been found in the nobleman’s pocket, suggesting he was on his way to a meeting with “M”.

While some tried to work out a list of noblemen whose names started with the letter, others debated the very public and peculiar nature of the murder. The state of the corpse suggested either it had been drained by an illithoid or with the use of Necromancy, neither of which were appealing options to consider. As the constable set up a perimeter to preserve what was left of untouched evidence, a connection has been drawn between the letter and one of the statues lining the street – Regent Muneer of the College of Necromantic and Tainted Arts.

Sabella and Kailanna set off to inspect the college but found the regent’s office empty expect for a fresh bloodstain. Having scoured the entire College, they found the regent in one of the rarely-used side tunnels. Unfortunately, much as the unfortunate first victim, he had been drained of all lifeforce and thus unable to be brought back with Necromancy.

At this point the city was ablaze with theories about the murders and, more importantly, the murderer. Could it truly be the Ninth come to purge the city? Even more concerned, the citizens set to guarding their tutors and the three noble creators of the Necromentate with renewed vigour; while others called upon every citizen to complete a rollcall. But all their tireless work was in vain as more and more bodies were found, all bearing the same characteristics of a drained and devastated body.

As a bloody moon rose over the city, talk of anti-viscanti sentiment was on everyone’s lips. Each victim was a viscanti of respectable standing in the city, their hallmark horns, tail, or wings – shattered, broken, or pierced. A viscanti girl with crumbs of a crotamine-laced cookie was the first child found, but there were others. The Constabulary had been set on high alert and the Commissioner himself, Irumba Shadowarm, had visited the crime scenes.

While the city seethed, Madame Yith, the illithoid tutor of the Ninjakari, had been found accosted by concerned citizens at the Wailing Woman Inn and blamed, as an illithoid, for the murders. Urieth, Kanaya, and Kailanna diffused the situation but tension continued to grip the city. Using the occassion, they visited the crime scenes with the Madame in the hopes she could shed light on the possible illithoid connection but they had little success.

Joined by Vatul and Maeko, the Magnagorans theorised while the Madam used her psionic powers to search through the city for anything out of the ordinary. It dawned upon the city then that eight victims had been found thus far, one less than the contentious number mentioned in the prophecy. Just as debate was about to start on the subject again, Yith announced she sensed another victim, bringing the total to nine and the discussion to an abrupt and uncomfortable end.

On full alert again, citizens sought high and low until Vatul and Maeko stumbled upon a shocking scene deep in the bowels of Magnagoran sewers. Upon a crude altar to Illith, a husk of a body lain spread, barely recognisable as Rasshid d’Sifal, the crier. Sending Maeko to alert the Commissioner at once, Vatul paced up and down the tunnel, considering the dire ramifications should such a discovery be made known to a city already at a brink of a riot. But she was not to make a choice there as other search parties stumbled upon her, the number of those in the know rapidly growing.

The moment the Commissioner arrived, the site was locked down, a warrant for the arrest of any and all illithoid issued, and citizens sent on their way. Having little choice at this point, Kailanna, Vatul, Maeko, and Cyna ventured through the sewers into the Ninjakari guildhall to confront Madame Yith, knowing well that should she wish not to be restrained, there was little they could do.

What occurred there is unclear, except that that time a choice was made: the illithoid had been banished from the city and the Ninjakari Guild disbanded on the 1st of Estar, 472 years after the Coming of Estarra. In the wake of this momentous decision, black banners started showing up across Magnagora with a crossed through symbol of Illith and a call to arms, “Justice for the Nine! Down with Leviathan!”

The beginning of the end, the ninth victim had sealed the fate of the Ninjakari.

The Interlude

Not long into Estar, the Iron Council disclosed a statement proclaiming the banishing of the illithoid to be a tactical decision, much to the surprise of the growing anti-illithoid movement. Not trusting what had appeared to have been a set-up of some kind, the decision was made to relocate the illithoid for their own safety until the investigation is over and their reputation can be cleared. The banners, nonetheless, continued to appear in spite of crews sent to dismantle them.

While the city digested the latest developments, a peculiar incident on the 21st of Estar called attention to the Tower of Dark Fates occupied by the Nihilists. Veritus n’Rotri, the renowned first Heresiarch of the Nihilists, had sighted a figure skulking through the tower and called upon the Nihilists to join him in pursuit. The figure was long gone by the time Avurekhos, Urieth, and Kailanna arrived, but they tracked its movements down to the unlocked office of the Heresiarch, her doors to the peak of the tower left wide open.

They could not find anything amiss but they were not given long to search the premises as in the dull, hazy orange glow of dawn, a constable had been found swaying upon a makeshift noose by the docks. First on the scene, Rolsand could do little to help the familiar face of the Constabulary as the constables had never been invested with a seed of lichdom. He was soon joined by Brauthik n’Kylbar, Yasmina i’Vipere and her siblings Hegemone and Maeko, and a handful of the city’s officials, all investigating the scene of the crime with varied degrees of either fury or concern.

The constable who arrived to secure the scene identified the victim as Constable Maseem but could do little more than stare speechlessly and leave, clearly in shock. It was with the arrival of the Commissioner that the investigation truly began, focused on the cryptic writing pinned to the victim’s chest reading, simply, “ten”. Magnagorans broke up into groups to discuss the theories as pale rays of dawn turned into a grey, grim morning. By the time a team arrived to cut down the body, the citizens found themselves with more questions than answers.

Why a number on this victim when others did not have one? Why was the body not drained? Was it a copycat? Was someone trying to subvert prophecy or mock it?

The answers were not to be found that day as the ground shook underfoot, resonating from the Tower of a Thousand Hungers. While half the city was tied up at the docks, Veldrin D’Cente and Sabella were trying to calm down Mistress Jezebel of the Geomancers who, upon investigation of an odd noise in the hall, had found a statuette of religious importance missing. Such was her wrath that the very city shook in the aftermath but the statuette was nowhere to be found and no additional passageways had been discovered in the tower despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Meanwhile, in the Tower of Inescapable Damnation, Shango, Alexin n’Kylbar, and Olwyr were keeping an eye on Captain Avarath and the tower itself. Given the intrusions reported in the Nihilists and the Geomancers, and the affair at the docks, they were determined to keep the Ur’Guard secure. And indeed, their efforts paid off when bloodhounds caught the scent of enemies within the tower. Joined by an ur’Guard Grand Marshal, they searched the tower top to bottom but found little.

It was only when the Grand Marshal left to investigate outside and beneath the Necropolis, that she stumbled upon something that quickly resulted in her death. Discipline empowered that one, however, as she rose from the ashes a lich and continued to pursue her attackers with the fierceness of Nil.

Distracted by the commotion beyond, the Ur’Guard split up, leading to Captain Avarath encountering assailants on his own. Shango’s prompt arrival sent the figures fleeing and he found the Captain injured but bereft of his famous black scale armour which the attackers had taken. Furious with himself and vowing to skewer more of the culprits, the Captain had been sent off to recover with Olwyr in tow.

Meanwhile the fearless Grand Marshal had been bested yet again, her spark extinguishing felt by all the Archliches in the city. Certain she can be ressurrected if found quickly enough, Mrak set off to search the city but it was Urieth who had found the Grand Marshal’s body below the Silent Cathedral, a hastily scribbled “elven” on her clothes. As Magnagorans gathered to investigate with Shango’s permission, they beheld the particularly cruel and vehement assault the Grand Marshal faced as her body bore the signs of a struggle against at least half a dozen attackers who had beaten her to death.

Furious and helpless in equal measure, Magnagorans departed to consider the confounding events of the day while the Grand Marshal had been brought to the Constabulary in the hopes she would yet lich.

The Dark Prince Rises

In the depth of the night, an echoing chant resounded from the rooftops on the 24th of Estar. Magnagora’s older citizens recognised the tune for what it was immediately: trouble. The sound of a flare echoed from somewhere in the Necropolis as a trail of fire climbed the Tower of Insufferable Cruelty higher and higher. Orange against the gaslit night, the flame dramatically swept about at the very top, completing a jagged circle – a cog – that continued to burn.

Confirming the suspicions, the Cogs in the Smog, Magnagora’s infamous gang, emerged from the shadows of the rooftops in startling numbers. Atop the smouldering tower, a lone figure stood proclaiming himself the Prince of Rust and leader of the gang. Staring down the city, he issued a challenge to the Iron Council to accept the gang as a rightful guild now that the Ninjakari were no more and a seat free for the taking. He had but time to give the city a month to decide as the Commissioner himself forced his way into the disused and locked down tower, leaving a taurian-shaped hole in the steel doors.

Commissioner Irumba was joined by Eicia, Ophir, Zlo, Cyna, and Avurekhos in inspecting the premises but all they found was dust, the gang was long gone and so was the Prince. In their place, a red silk banner flew at the entrance, proclaiming the formation of the Cogs in the Smog guild and the oft-misspelled details of their recruitment and advancement process. There, at the very bottom, the answer to unresolved questions was written plain for all to see: the sceptre of the Heresiarch, statuette of Gorgulu from the Geomancers, Captain Avarath’s sword or armour, the mysterious thing from the Ninjakari. All the artifacts required for one of the gang to be elected the Prince of Rust. All the artifacts gone missing just days prior. The very last entry, “a swing across a play’s opening night”, puzzled the gathered group but Shaddus confirmed such had indeed happened years ago.

The Cogs in the Smog were back, and with a leader to unite them.

Iron and Rust

A month had passed, days flying by fast as the Iron Council debated their choices. On the 21st Urlachmar, the Commissioner met with Eicia and the Warlady Rideta Feyranti herself to discuss the progress of his men’s investigation. Joined by Vatul and Lavinya, and eventually many more, they debated how much of what has occurred was true and how much had been staged by unknown parties. It did not escape their attention that the last, eleventh, victim, had been kicked to death, the very end that one of the Cogs in the Smog had met at the hand of Ixion’s boot a few years ago.

Many more high-ranked officials gathered at the council chambers, including Kailanna, Mrak, Kalas Ixion, Shaddus D’Cente, Sabella, and Ellowyn d’Murani, and the conversation continued on into the evening, even as Irumba Shadowarm left to attend to his duties. Then, just as the Warlady had been planning a ploy to trick the Cogs and the bells tolled for midnight, a knock resounded on the glass of one of the windows. A tall lanky figure stood just beyond on the windowsill and the time for a decision was upon the Iron Council.

Slipping into the room nonchalantly, Ysamal, the Prince of Rust faced the gathered nobility with wit and charm. The negotiations heated the moment Ysamal faced Ixion, however, calling them even for the death of one of the Cogs with the death of the Grand Marshal. A fight ensued in which a few spectators were injured until the Warlady contained the situation with an iron fist. The self-proclaimed Prince took it in stride but the tension was palpable.

Refusing to entertain Ysamal’s fancies, the Warlady demanded answers: What do the Cogs offer and what do they ask for in return? The attempt to trick the Prince might even have worked had it not been for the final demand, to oust and behead Ixion, which Rideta would not stand for. Not fazed in the least, Ysamal argued that the Ur’Guard had little to offer and half the time claims sovereignity and indepedence of Magnagora, while the Cogs would be loyal and able. His words rang true as he extolled the virtues of his comrades, who had been banished as children into the Undercity, condemned into the darkness and never meant to achieve anything. And yet, they have risen, having defeated greater obstacles than any of the privileged Magnagorans ever face.

Still, the Iron Council would not heed his request, refusing to accept the Cogs in the Smog as an official guild without proof of their loyalty and goodwill. Cursing their refusal, the Prince began to pace the length of the council chambers, desperately trying to explain his urgency brought upon a society of some manner treading on his people’s toes. The Warlady word was final, the Iron Council would bend for no one, and the Prince left in a blink of an eye, warning them that they shall reap what they had sown.

Somewhat rattled, the Iron Council and its advisors turned to debating what to do about the tower the Cogs had claimed when a powerful explosion shook the entire city. The plan to burn the Tower of Insufferable Cruelty to the ground had been foiled by the Cogs detonating it in a show of defiance, ever one step ahead. Those who managed to stay on their feet rushed outside of the Tower of Midnight Domination, the seat of the Iron Council, to behold the destruction.

The entire southeastern tower was aflame, rubble blocking the passage around it. As teams rushed to put out the flames, the foundation of the tower gave way and collapsed upon the tunnels beneath the Necropolis and onto the symbol of the Demon Lady Nifilhema. The Nihilists felt that moment painfully as their pacts to the Queen of Insufferable Cruelty had dissolved in that very moment, signalling that the symbol broke beneath the wreckage. With one of the five restrains upon the Necromentate gone, the dome of darkness shielding Magnagora disappeared, leaving the city open to attack.

The dark bodies of nighthawks flitted across a suddenly empty and bright sky, fleeing from the nearby Bell-Tower which had caught fire. In the wake of their departure, the ancient gargoyles turned to leave but their bulk and slowness held them fast as the tower collapsed upon itself. The city stood transfixed as their beloved Bell-Tower turned into a smouldering ruin, their efforts insufficient.

They fought fires for the remainder of the day but when night finally came to cloak the city, cool and dark, only silence welcomed it at midnight.

Rust and Chaos

A month had past, the city still held fast in a grip of fury and outrage. Of all the things that have transpired, the destruction of one of Magnagora’s most famous landmarks had felt like the gravest assault against the city. So much so that Alexin had begun to walk the streets at night, yelling ‘BINGBONG!’ to announce midnight, much to the approval of many a citizen.

The troubling matter pertaining to the lack of Nifilhema’s symbol remained unresolved but the Necromentate managed to be restrained by the sheer number of spikes hammered in. A solution was, however, on its way as the Nihilists were called before the Supreme Master Luciphage on the 17th of Kiani and sent on a mission that Urieth had toiled on for the better part of the month.

Meanwhile, on the 20th of Kiani, riots had started in the streets as the Cogs in the Smog turned their attention to the city. Fires have sprung up all over the city, put out with water and elemental ice, but the sheer amount of incidents resulted in utter and complete chaos. If it wasn’t animals at the Zoo being let loose, it was the docks. If it wasn’t the Constabulary, it was riots on Wraith Lane. The entire city was on high alert.

Then, on the 21st of Kiani, a mysterious woman came calling upon the Iron Council and refusing to state her business in public. Even in the face of Supreme Commander Thalkros’ wrath, barely restrained in the face of his city being on fire, she would not bend. It was Archmage Nefera who convinced him to hear her out and they left with bodyguards Marcella and Ixion in tow. Immediately after the Iron Council spoke with Jamilah, the city was mobilised to gather for an assault on the Cogs headqauarters suggesting the lady had somehow been involved in locating it.

The group that answered the call consisted of Azherani, Cyna, Avurekhos, Veldrin, Maeko, Hegemone, Mrak, Shango, and Rolsand, joining the aforementioned Councillors and their guards. Into the depths of Magnagoran sewers did they descend, going further and lower than even the rats and eels usually go. There, led by Jamilah, they came across a door marked with a handful of symbols.

With Marcella’s and Jamilah’s help, the plinths were aligned and the way in opened but Magnagorans remained on the outside, wary of the vicious traps they had been warned about. Ixion was the first man in and the first ghost out, proving the truth of the warnings. Cyna went in second, attempting to scout ahead in ghost form but multiple monolith-like mechanisms prevented her from bringing the party further in. There was little to be done but to attempt to dismantle the traps.

Their first foot in the door, Magnagorans searched the entrance into the Catacombs carefully. One of the wanted posters for the gang hung over the entrance, a symbol of pride and a mockery of the attempts made at capturing them. The traps posed a fair bit of difficulty at first, the mechanisms entirely foreign to the Trackers who attempted to dismantle them. It was Hegemone who managed to dismantle the first trap and from thenon Marcella, Azherani, Cyna, and Maeko all assisted in the process.

On through the tunnels they went, passing rows upon rows of skulls of various races, until they happened upon a den where Ysamal, the Prince of Rust, waited with the remainder of the Cogs. It is fortunate the den was sizable enough as the fight was long and brutal, leaving the cobblestones stained with blood of both friend and foe alike. In the end, Ysamal surrendered and taken into custody, cuffs slammed onto his wrists by Marcella. The assault party emerged from the sewers victorious and deposited the broken leader into the hands of the Constabulary where, this time, one of the Cogs would be held in a locked and secured cell so that none may take justice into their own hands before the Iron Council passes their judgement.

The Baleful Desire

Just as iron bars slammed on Ysamal, Urieth had completed the task bestowed upon him by the Dominator of the Midnight Legions, Luciphage himself. On the 22nd of Kiani, Magnagorans joined Urieth at the Throne of the Beast and beheld the empowered artefact known as the Foul Amulet of Baleful Desire, once used to cast a curse of Nil upon Supernal Raziela, the Loving Radiance. Joined by Brauthik, Ophir, and Kailanna, the group who had braved the Cogs headquarters, had launched for the Holy Land of Celestia.

Allowing Urieth to carry the amulet forth and do the deed, they sought out Raziela and, using the amulet to weaken her temporarily, executed a quick, tactical strike to gain her soul for the Supreme Master. Celestians were quick to respond with Taevyn Ladyn and Kaimanahi Ladyn throwing themselves at the assailants despite their numbers, but by then Shango had already absconded with the body and was on his way to the Throne of the Beast. The soul now in his hands, Luciphage vowed to have Nifilhema use the soul as a vessel to craft a new symbol of her dominion over the Prime Material Plane.

Outraged at the vehement assault, Methrenton called Celest to his side and urged them to use the Flowing Staff of Sanctification to cleanse the Shrine of Loathys deep in the mountains to the south. Kreon Zayah, Kaimanahi, and Tridemon Regalis were quick to respond, purifying and sanctifying the shrine. Now, working for the first time in centuries, the shrine was able to be used. Directing his attention to Magnagora, Methrenton called forth a host of fiery angels to assault the city itself.

With the Necromentate weakened and already in a berserk state, the fiery angels pierced through the protective dome over Magnagora and started to wreck havoc on the city. Duke Ashtorath was set to command his army of demons to come fight the invader but never arrived, instead vanishing from Nil in mysterious circumstances along with Nifilhema. Magnagorans, however were quick to engage the angels but so was the Necromentate, breaking free entirely and engaging an enemy that challenged its psychic powers. Ixion chased after the Necromentate but it made off without him, facing the fiery host at the theatre gardens and falling by their hand, skewered with lances. The death sent aftershocks throughout Magnagora, damaging the already fragile architecture.

Magnagorans were successful in repelling the enemy but not without a cost. More souls rose from beneath the Necropolis, free and vehement for revenge, and gaping cracks opened up throughout the city, filled with damned souls writhing within and pleading for the Supreme Master. Unsure what it is they are dealing with, the city visited the Supreme Master upon Nil to inquire about the phenomenon. Unsurprisingly, Luciphage had already been waiting for him, ever one step ahead.

In the conversation that followed, everything appeared to finally click into place and a prophecy uttered months ago appeared as clear as day. The cracks in the ground revealed the foundations of the Bulwark of the Damned, a project which had been put aside in the past due to the Necromentate being a safer option. After Project Cosmic Hope the city was in a dire state and chose a path of least resistance and refused to pay the price the Bulwark demanded.

But the Magnagora of that time was no more, it was stronger, better, and it had gorged itself in the Times of Empowerment. And so the Warlady and the assembled Iron Council knew the words of the prophecy to be true: “In destruction, transformation. In fear, stagnation”. It was not the time for careful deliberation, for council sessions, and gathering of votes.

It was one of those pivotal moments that change everything, and so the Warlady simply said, “There is no greater city in existence, none more powerful in deed and will, than my Magnagora is now. What is the cost?”

And the Supreme Master responded truthfully, “Death and destruction.”

“This price troubles my city not,” Rideta retorted, setting the city on a new path.

In Destruction, Transformation

Guided by one of the Supreme Master’s servants and a master of Necromancy, Seritul d’Vanecu, Magnagorans descended beneath the Necropolis, seeking out the ritual chamber that had seen better days. There, led by Archmage Nefara, the Geomancers Sabella, Marcella and Kanaya made the very earth tremble, casting down walls that hid the rest of the chamber away from the world. In the long-forgotten alcoves, they had come across enormous emerald-hued soulstones, one beneath each symbol of the Demon Lords.

Having explored and investigated the soulstones, the city gathered around Seritul who had revealed the d’Vanecu to have been behind this necromantic achievement, even if never finalised. He urged them to hallow the ground with blood sacrifice before the ritual may commence. The Necromancers Kailanna, Vhaedryn d’Vanecu, and Cyna were all but too eager to oblige and so Kanaya, Mrak, Marcella, Osun, and Shango were sacrificed, each one at a different soulstone and each one a willing volunteer.

Next, the soulstones were empowered by the Necromancers channeling the power of those around them into their hungry depths until they shone with an eerie effulgence and the whole ritual area was bathed in a spectral green light. Dark chanting began to rise and fall across the Necropolis as the city gathered at the heart of the ritual chamber to await the Supreme Master. The dark seeds of lichdom were infused into every Magnagoran that they may fall and rise again.

At the heart of the gathering, dark mists parted to reveal the Supreme Master come to stand amongst the citizens in person, walking the Prime Plane hand in hand with Magnagorans. He urged the city to ready themselves for the Ritual of Damnation, the subjugation of the Dark Arts, and uttered the rallying cry of the prophecy, “In destruction, transformation. In fear, stagnation!” And with that he was gone but his malignant presence pervaded the ritual room.

A mighty congregation had flocked to the bowels of the Necropolis, come to herald the dawn of a new age. Amongst them Allyra, Kanora, Eicia, Avurekhos, Asyel, Ophir, Cyna, Sabella, Osun, Shango, Vhaedryn, Marcella, Veldrin, Mrak, Vatul, Urieth, Ixion, Alexin, Kailanna, Kanaya, Jerica, Nefara, and Rolsand.

Come to take the Supreme Master’s place at the centre of the room, the Warlady began the ritual, and the city followed, repeating the words of the Supreme Master over and over as a fervent prayer, a rallying cry, an urgent demand. The chanting was low at first but as the ritual progressed, the voices gained in intensity until they blocked out near everything else. Above the din, the Voice of Jagrerox played a chaotic melody, lured by the death and destruction.

The energy continued to build, the air growing thicker and near tangible. Above ground, a tower had collapsed in a wave of destruction brought about by the sheer power coalesing underground. The chanting continued relentlessly, pounding with the force of countless hammers as hands were clasped and feet were stomped. And just as midnight struck silently, a blast of unrelenting power burst forth from the depths of the Necropolis and into the skies above, filling the firmanent with a sea of damned souls.

And just as it rose, destruction rained back down upon Magnagora. The Black Towers crumbled beneath the backlash of malevolent energy and every single citizen beneath the Necropolis had their soul ripped out. A wave of darkness rippled out across the Basin, filled with the cackling of the Demon Lords as the very city was being transformed and its Guilds torn asunder.

Beneath the Necropolis, twenty-four liches reformed from murky miasmal, rising anew to behold a new age, an Age of Ascension, and at its head the Supreme Master himself. The souls writhing in the skies above came thundering down in a vortex swirling about the Megalith of Doom. From which, thousands of souls, armed and armoured, poured out riding skeletal steeds – the Midnight Legions had come. Onto the ramparts of the city did they climb, infusing with the very walls and forming a ring of darkness about Magnagora. The rest unfurled like a banner of darkness across the Basin, snaking across the Sea of Despair to attack New Celest, a trail of barren land in their wake.

The Star of Celest flared brilliantly in defiance, seeking to repel the dark army. It held for what seemed like an eternity as the Midnight Legions assaulted the barrier again and again with feral howls until finally it shattered and the Star shared the fate of the Necromentate. The undead poured into the city, tearing everyone who stood in their path to shreds. Bereft of their Star, the city of New Celest fought valiantly, defending from the swarm, but the shanty town outside of their walls escaped attention. In the light of the morning, once the city itself was safe, Celestians found the shanty town ravaged and the once-pristine shore of the Inner Sea awash with blood of the innocent and forgotten.

Meanwhile in Magnagora, the dawn of the 25th of Kiani could not have been more dreadful and beautiful at once. The Necropolis was in ruins, the scent of sulfur hung in the air, and small fires continued to smoulder. The Guilds of the Ur’Guard, Geomancers, Nihilists, and the Cacophony were no more, but the citizens had never felt more united.

The Times of Ascension

In the aftermath of the the Ritual of Damnation, the city gathered to discuss the future on 15th of Juliary in the year 472. The gathering in the council chambers was joined by the Lady Jamilah, revealed to be part of the Society, Jhairus d’Murani, an ancient lichlord found in the Catacombs the Cogs had seized and awoken by the city, Mistress Jezebel of the late Geomancers, Mistress Afifah y’Bolgari of the late Cacophony, scientist Snaikka i’Xiia, High Priest Alaron y’Bolgari of the late Nihilists, and Duur Thergar of the late Ur’Guard.

In a lengthy discussion that followed, it was decided that the city would rebuild to house three new guilds rather than return to the same old structures. The first was to be the Iniquitous Society, suggested by Lady Jamilah and bent on facilitating progress and ambition in the city. Then the guild of the Heralds of Dark Fates, suggested by Jhairus d’Murani and seeking to spread the Dark Faith of Magnagora and utilise it as a tool of ascension. And finally, they would form the Infernal Mandate demanded by Nahum, the Grand Marquis of the Legion to honour the pact with the Dominator to bring about the domination of the Basin.

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