As their fourth day in Artath commences, Sar’n apparates into the council chamber along with the sorceror, Nyax, and his uncle Nyall, the elder portal master. He greets Riley with a surprisingly solid punch to the arm considering how frail the old cat appears. Nyall notes that Riley grew up strong and Riley speculates that Nyall may have been involved in his upbringing in the North. The old man looks around, saying that he’s got no idea what Riley means and they can discuss it later. Nyall leads his nephew over to the seating for the Puma caste, several of the caste attempt to veer off and leave, but he orders them to stay with a simple gesture.
Anubep and his crew arrive looking somewhat subdued and worn after their early morning training with the Scro, unlike their usual rowdy entrance. Lastly, the Emperor and Empress arrive, beckoning Riley to his side, he’s less than pleased to see Nyall in the chamber once more. The brief begins, informing the council that a legion of Scro instructors have arrived overnight to provide new training to the Artathi forces. Thronin respectfully requests some Scro to train his caste’s troops as well, which is readily granted. Gonju, hesitantly addresses the council, asking where to send Letathen for training. Anubep had already offered to help them, which Riley relays, and Gonju thanks the caste leader. Gonju admits they have four legions ready to train (secretly this was the Letathen underground movement), surprising everyone. Sar’n wants to help train some of the Letathen who have demonstrated mysterious abilities (psionics).
They review plans and troop movements for the upcoming battle east of Neheri as well. During a lull, Nyall stands up to address the council, declaring that Sar’n has convinced him to come out of retirement to aid in recruiting other powerful Artathi Sorcerors. Older and more powerful sorcerors generally retire to avoid decimating the younger sorcerors in power struggles. While he will not be retaking the lead of the caste, he will act as his nephews adviser. Nyall also talks about tweaking the barrier around the southern continent instead of making it easier for people to get in via magic. During another lull, Leeroy calls out Jendra who has repeatedly been acting as though she wanted to say something. She requests a contingent of Scro trainers for the Claws of Amun, her holy order of paladins, which Riley of course grants. The council seems a bit surprised, Thronin admits to Davros that the Claws are regarded so highly and the divine origin of their powers, that a request for additional training is unsettling.
Once the Emperor resumes leading the meeting, he inquires as to the integration of the Letathen into the castes. So far none have been accepted or even requested to rejoin one of their parent castes. While the capital has not seen any incidents in response to the unification of Artathi society, in some more remote areas, there have been some disturbances. Emperor Thrux reinforces his previous decrees and declares that he will hold the clan leaders responsible for the actions of their underlings. Afterward, he leaves, dismissing the meeting; Sar’n confers with Davros and Riley, joined by Anubep, Thronin, Jendra, Gonju, Nyall and Nyax also join the discussion.
The group formulates plans to launch strikes against the Kofrath encampments, Sar’n trying to learn more of the Letathen psionic abilities and their potential uses. Anubep would like to blend two of his legions with the new Free Artathi Legion to help supply structure and leadership to the fledgling force. Nyall would like a Scro escort to go with him and Nyax to round up more of the elder mages from their retirement. Riley suggests the Kobowlders launch a stealth scouting mission into the core of a Kofrath encampment to learn more about the enemy. Anubep volunteers some muscle to aid the mages as well. Sar’n wishes to visit Neheri to meet with locals, Riley also wishes to join him. Prior to departing in the afternoon, Riley and Davros tag along with Anubep to view the Scro training.
At the Jaguar training grounds, they see remarkably intense PT going on. Troops in full kit are being put through intense exercises with extreme loads and there are more than enough instructors to provide one on one training. The Scro are offering a potion to the Artathi that have fallen out, which soon has them back on their feet. Not all of them return to training, some are dismissed, unable to keep up. Nyall has already wandered off to do some things he wants done, Nyax wants to acquire some of the healing beverage to mix with the Artathi Kava for research. Davros wants to try some first hand, so the Scro put him into training. Riley speaks with some of the senior instructors, requesting trainers for the factions that made requests at the morning council meeting. Gunny (unofficial nickname of the senior instructor) sends some of his men with Thronin and Gonju, while assigning one specifically to Riley. While he and Gonju talk with Gunny, Riley’s instructor assesses him, occasionally throwing projectiles or requesting stretches. Sar’n makes another trip to the City of Sigils.
Shiele eventually ends up in an observation room overlooking the Jaguar training grounds where women and children are watching. Apparently the women aren’t generally in the offensive legions. Shiele decides to take up the issue with Anubep in person, while he’s training. He scoops her up, along with the sacks of rocks he’s carrying and she wants to get the women and girls into the special training. When he says they can train, Shiele teleports again, back to the room. In minutes, Shiele has a group of teenage girls and older women coming down to the training grounds. Eventually Davros falls out and is dragged off to the side with the others, resting briefly before they feed him the rejuvenating beverage. He sees them adding herbs and such to vats off to the side where the brew is being made. Back on his feet, he rejoins Riley and Gonju chatting with Gunny.
Shiele has now joined them and wants to chat with Gonju about the practice of Ridding the Emperor had mentioned earlier. Letathen kits are often sent away to live with Letathen families, of similar breeding if possible. Shiele subtly hints at reuniting families under the new order of society or possibly relocating families. A portal opens in the middle of the training grounds and Scro troops begin appearing, filling the grounds, followed by Sar’n. Anubep, who still hasn’t fallen out or even apparently tired, peels off to come talk with Sar’n and the others. Sar’n has decided to alter their plans, instead of the Kobowlders launching a stealth mission, he has recruited a legion of Scro front line troops to lead through a portal into the center of the Kofrath camp. Anubep eagerly offers a legion as well and Riley convinces Shiele to join the strike. As troops begin excitedly gather for the raid, Riley and Sar’n teleport to Neheri to scout out a strike position.
Guards are somewhat surprised by their sudden appearance, but are convinced to fetch their commander. Sar’n plans to bring the local leadership up to speed on the coming battle plans before proceeding to the attack. News of the societal changes have reached Neheri, but don’t seem to be enforced at all. An Il’Artathi leader appears and is less than cordial with Riley, although he manages to keep his cool in spite of being addressed by a Letathen. Sar’n plans to bring in craftsman to support future war efforts as well. The leader, Thall, even goes so far as to say that Letathen here still know their place. Some of the local dwarves are summoned to meet with the Kobowlders as well, Sar’n wants to know what happened to the Dwarves in Fasul when it was overrun. Roughly a hundred escaped the conquest, with no certain knowledge of their countrymen’s fate. Once dismissed, Thall departs with his tail thrashing in agitation. Sar’n and Riley teleport to their destination to scout out a good arrival point invisibly.
A small yard is open towards the center among the Kofrath bunkers, surrounded by tents and slave troops, most of the Kofrath are underground during the daytime. Teleporting back, they seek out the rally point to rendezvous with the troops for the attack. While Davros gives a rallying speech and Sar’n parses out a warning to potentially rescue slaves from the Kofrath camp. Riley informs Thronin of Thall’s intransigence toward the Emperor’s recent edicts and he requests Sar’ns aid in paying Neheri a visit after the battle. Excitement is high as everyone prepares for the mission to begin, casting spells and buffs.
Sar’n opens a portal and steps through, unleashing a blast of lightning, destroying a company of troops nearby. Riley charges through after a few seconds, along with Thronin and his comrades, Shiele, Davros, Gonju and other leaders following. Artathi dive into bunkers as Scro form a beachhead around the portal and pure anarchy reigns for several moments as the surprise attack decimates nearby forces. Scro also join the attacks into the tunnels under the camp, facing some losses once the Kofrath recover from their surprise and use magic. The ground rumbles a bit due to the tunnel warfare and Sar’n summons Earth elementals and sends them into the tunnels in case the enemy has their own elementals. Davros encounters a large eye under the tunnel, surrounding by black scales. Through the telepathic link, he informs the others that there is a black dragon underground. It shakes its head free, blasting acid toward Davros. He teleports behind his Scro, healing them and retreating to the surface. With the ground shaking everyone else starts heading for the surface. Soon the dragon bursts through the ground, circling the camp and surveying the damage.
The ancient black dragon determines the camp is lost and flies off to the west with the attack force mopping up the enemy on the ground. While Sar’n tries to rally the troops for another strike on the next nearest camp, Shiele seeks out the dragon’s horde at the bottom of the hole it fled from. She teleports back to the palace to empty her portable hole and comes back for more. Discarding their magic dispelling shields, the Scro grab replacements from the fallen and Sar’n leads the Army through another portal. Immediately on the other side, Sar’n is hit with fire as he sees troops charging towards him. Riley is right behind him alongside Scro forces, this encampment seems to have been prepared for the attack as the portal is circled by enemy forces.
The second attack is nowhere near as one-sided, they actually take casualties this time. Gonju spears enemy forces with his psionic abilities, Sar’n takes to the air, and Davros begins raining holy wrath upon the enemy. This camp, having been attacked several times at night by Sar’n, was more prepared, especially after the previous encampment may have warned them. Gonju’s Letathen companion appears to dematerializing and rematerializing with her weapons inside enemies, killing them instantly. Davros magically enlarges himself to wade into the enemy. Sar’n takes a brief leave to refill his lava reservoir after dumping it on the enemy. Riley leaps behind enemy lines and chews threw them with his blade barrier, Thronin and his companions behind him. It takes time to establish a beachhead and push troops back from the portal to bring everyone through. A small portion of Scro and a few hundred Artathi do not make it through the portal before it closes.
Eventually Shiele teleports in beside Gonju, after clearing up the Dragon’s hoarde, quickly being filled in on the battle. She lends her skillset to helping breach some of the bunkers which are being aggressively defended. Teleporting in behind the mages and soldiers at the entrance, she stabs the nearest Kofrath at the door, rapidly appearing around the room. Her daggers hit each of those guarding the door in a matter of seconds. Outside the beachhead, Riley mows through enemy forces with his blade barrier, seeking high value targets, pursued by Thronin and crew plus other Artathi forces, clearing up survivors behind him as he circles their own forces defensively. Sar’n is flying overhead, attacking again, and notices that Riley is glowing again. The slave races are firing indiscriminately, hitting Kofrath and their enemies alike. Sar’n dumps more lava on the enemy before switching to his Death Wand crossbow and peppering the outer ranks of the camp with magic.
While the attrition rate is high, the Kofrath forces are definitely seeing the worse end of it. Soon, Shiele’s efforts help the Scro push into the bunkers as they finally overcome the defenses. Sar’n lands behind friendly lines, switching his pocket dimension over to a triage center for wounded troops. The battle is now becoming another tunnel fight as most of the troops on the surface have been routed. After about forty-five minutes, the Kofrath have managed to secure some subterranean positions and friendly troops draw back to prepare for the potential arrival of the dragon. With the battle at a stalemate and no sign of the dragon over an hour and a half after their first strike, Sar’n teleports to the Artathi encampment northeast to check for signs of the dragon, then decides to acquire some reinforcements. He issues the commander battle plans, sending troops to secure the recently conquered outpost the dragon had fled and the rest toward Neheri. Sar’n opens a portal, bringing two thousand fresh troops to the battlefield to secure the second outpost. With a lull in the battle and no sign of the dragon two hours after the fact; Riley, Thronin, Sar’n and Shiele head to Neheri to warn of the black dragon as well as confront Thall.
The guards once again react to the sudden arrival, but this time Thronin is with them and chews them out. He demands Thall’s immediate presence and inquires about the housing assigned for the forces coming to direct future battles. The assigned quarters are a merchants home, which displeases Thronin. He heads off to the Keep with the Kobowlders in tow, having their usual petty banter. When they reach the Keep, Thall is buckling on his armor. Shiele has managed to easily steal an entire town guard uniform along the way, piece by piece. Thronin commences chewing out Thall publicly and deeply among all the guards nearby. He gives Thall several options of recompense for the insults he has offered to Riley, including the final option, training under the Scro. After removing Thall from command of Neheri, he places one of his comrades (Thix) in charge of the city.
Riley inquires about the local Letathen and Thronin charges Thix with bringing Neheri up to Imperial standard as far as treatment of the Letathen and recruiting for the Free Artathi Legion. All Thronin’s instruction are taken down on paper by a nearby Aratathi, he orders Thall not to read, only to sign in the traditional manner. Thall gnashes open his palm, making a bloody paw print on the paper. Shiele teleports him back to the capital for extra special training, with a final bonk on the head from Thronin. With a quick word to Gunny, she leaves Thall under a swarm of screaming instructors to return to Neheri. Thronin is in the process of ordering Thix to bring the city up to snuff when she returns. They take some time to discuss alterations to the battle plans and troop movements now that a third of Kofrath forces in the region have been annihilated. Although the missing ancient black dragon is a point of concern for everyone.
With Neheri in hand, they return to the second encampment to retrieve Davros and Leeroy. When they arrive, smoke is pouring out of several of the bunker entrances. Leeroy and the Letathen Psionicist phased through blocked tunnels to clear out remaining enemies. The camp has been thoroughly secured, so that the upper ranks can return to the capital. The Scro and Artathi set up in the remains of the camps that were hit to control the territory. Thronin and his remaining companion Throsa, along with Anubep, Gonju and Krisan (Puma/Cheetah) and the Kobowlders, plus Sar’ns remaining Scro (Tum) return to the capital with some of the worse wounded. Once back at the capital, Sar’n departs on his own.
The group scatters, the Kobowlders heading back to their suite to clean up before meeting with the Emperor. Shiele, Davros, and Riley all head to their private rooms to clean up, while Thronin and the other Artathi along with Leeory head to the imperial bath chamber, each grabbing some alcohol on the way to relax. Davros opens his door and is buried up to the knees in looted wealth that Shiele dropped off. He briefly grumps and asks Riley if he has a spare portable hole, who responds that Davros should now be able to afford one and closes his door. He summons a servant to find a portable hole, then load up all the wealth and open an account for Davros, offering them a commission for the work. It takes over an hour before Davros can get into his room, while the others relax and clean up. Roughly 50 million gold worth of stuff was in Davros’ room, a drop in the bucket to Shiele’s existing wealth, not to mention that she completely filled Lillith’s room. Back at the Kobowlders Keep, Sar’n is planning for a plot of land to set up the Scro on with Skree’s lieutenant, Willis. Shiele and Riley finish up their baths, watching the Artathi counting up Davros windfall and sipping drinks.
Shiele has them summon Nyall, hoping he can help her get back and forth from the northern continent. He asks for a few items of treasure from the hoard in Lillith’s room and in exchange, shrinks down the rest and places it in a pouch for Shiele. There are some maps in the pile that she decides to save for Riley. Nyall leaves the maps that were in the horde, as Shiele feels they might be important to Riley. They depart from Lillith’s room and she tells Riley about the maps, which include troop movements and numbers in the south as well as maps of the Underdark for the entire planet. Nyall also takes Shiele’s helm of teleport to work on giving her what she requested. Emperor Thrux is not available until the next day, so the party actually manages to get a normal amount of rest.