BLA 101

Anesidora: By The Light of Artemis, episode one originally aired on the Maze Arcana twitch channel in 2017. It was played by Kailey Bray as Anik Deora, Avril Ilejay as Vesper, Ryan Omega as Dalexo, Jessica Lynn Parsons as Gem, and Neal Fischer as Sandor Angelslayer.

The episode begins with a brief introduction of the world of Anesidora, and then each character plays through a brief backstory scene before they dovetail into present day. Some of the backstory scenes are solo and some are played with multiple PCs.

Vesper's Backstory Scene

We find Vesper, as exiled of the Lapui tribe, in the forest with her father, and he is teaching her about the world of anesidora. They’re specifically learning about the verrit, a kind of weird-looking antelope, that the lapui rely on during winter, and the poisonous grass that is their habitat. Her father tells her about the antidote to the poison that is in the leaves of a tree, and when Vesper climbs the tree to get to the leaves, she sees a burned, blackened tree that appears to have been shaped. Her father freaks out about the tree and calls her down so they can stay close as they go to the tree.
When they get to the tree, Vesper’s father examines it and says they have to leave because this place isn’t safe. He explains that people of the god-cities use powerful and terrible magic that creates things such as this, bringing destruction in its wake.
As they return to their village, they see a red smear through the snow that turns out to be a patch of flowers growing up through it. The area around them is stained red. The plant is Sanguine Amaranth and is considered a sign of good things to come to the lapui tribe.
As they reach home, Vesper’s mother calls out and her father is relieved that she is safe and the god-cities didn’t come this way. She’s caught a spine-rabbit for the family to eat. Vesper’s father tell her, “If you’re with Anesidora, and you call out to her, she will give you what you need.”

Dalexo's Backstory Scene

It is a beautiful summer night during twilight, the sun having begun it’s 2-month descent into night. People are dancing by the Nile River, swimming in it, and generally having fun. Dalexo sees this scene from his window, he’s hiding in his room away from the party. He hasn’t even put on the party clothes laid out for him. His bodyguard, Taski, comes in with his own fancy garb on, but still carrying his great two-handed green sword made of god-shard. Dalexo is encouraged by Taski to join the party and “learn the family business,” which includes talking to people and not just knowing about the books and numbers. Dalexo eventually relents and heads down to the bank of the river with Taski, but he’s extremely awkward and doesn’t know how to or who to talk to. Taski buys Dalexo a drink, just before some fireworks go off and set off Taski’s bodyguard instincts and PTSD. He apologizes for the display, but Dalexo tells him not to worry. A bit later, Dalexo watches the people dancing around differently colored lights, but he says he doesn’t know how to himself, so Taski leads him out onto the dance floor and tells him to follow his lead. Taski and Dalexo have a romantic moment, dancing together beautifully under the stars.

Sandor's Backstory Scene

Sandor is tracking two men who have stolen some scrolls from the temple of Artemis. It may be daytime but is still winter, and the forest is thick around him with snow deep on the ground. As he struggles through the snow, the crunch of it gives him away, and he hears gunshots and a roar. He rushes forward and finds a sniping position, using his scope to magnify the area. He sees the men he’s been tracking, along with a huge white cat. All three of the figures are bleeding out in the snow. One of the men is still breathing, but barely, and he is holding a cylinder that looks like it might be holding the scrolls. As he looks around, Sandor also sees a baby cat under the dying adult. He makes his decision, and shoots the human in the head before moving forward to collect the cylinder. When Sandor gets close to the cat, it growls at him, but he holds up his hands and appears as nonthreatening as possible and it calms down. Sandor decides to put the cat out of its misery and finishes her off with his grandmother’s sword, made of green god-shard. After, he says a quick prayer to Artemis, goddess of wilderness and the hunt. The baby cat moves up to Sandor and smells his ungloved hand, and latches onto him. He decides to name her Sirene.

Anik's Backstory Scene

Anik is traveling as a mercenary, far away from her home in the goldenfields, with a trader she considers a complete idiot. His name is Dalexo. They are traveling past the great black mountain and through the only place it is capable of being traveled through, an ancient pass. On one side of the pass there’s an old fort that’s been completely destroyed, devastated in the Angle attack almost 50 years ago. Beyond Death Pass is the realm of the unliving, great beings that cause only destruction. As they travel through the pass and into the realm of Osiris, they are accosted by a group of soldiers from Tyr riding on Vareks. The guards start tearing through Dalexo’s cart, supposedly searching for weapons smuggling, and Dalexo pays them off by bribing them with some of the supplies they have. The soldiers tell them to check out an exiled camp to the northwest that might want to trade with them called the yuling. As they travel to this new destination, the “devil’s grove,” to trade with the yuling, Anik grumbles and kind of threatens Dalexo and he kind of threatens her back. They clearly don’t like each other. When they reach what must be the devil’s grove, a natural circle of trees that have grown together, with the inside all burnt and marked with white chalk, with the outside of the trees untouched. But also in this area is a massive pile of bodies, marked off by stones around them. Anik and Dalexo decide to leave, looking around for danger, when something large and looming comes through the trees from behind them. The creature looks kind of like a bear, except is 30 feet tall and claws as big as Anik and Dalexo’s entire bodies. They navigate around the huge beast, who seems to simply be ignoring them in favor of moving into the grove and, in particular, the pile of bodies. As they quickly try to leave, 4 exiled warriors come out of the woods and seem to assess them. A druid in the group comes and asks them why they’re here, Dalexo moves into his trade spiel. The druid seems interested in trade, but tells Dalexo and Anik to first participate in their ritual. They mirror the exiled as they watch the giant black bear consume every last piece of dead flesh, curl up and go to sleep. After watching this display, the two are led to the yuling village proper, where they trade with the chief, Urgof. He also has a chainsaw in need of repair that Dalexo works on. Anik and Dalexo end up spending a nice evening with the yuling tribe.

Gem's Backstory Scene

Gem is found walking along a road, completely alone. Her leg is wounded and probably broken, and she’s limping along a week after Sehkmet. We learn she’s running from a man named Malias, and hasn’t heard his name in months on this, her second attempt to escape. Unfortunately she is also running out of food. But then out of the brush appears Hush, her pet hydra. Hush has brought her a spine-rabbit and they eat the creature together, sharing it. Hush eats everything, including the bones. Gem is on her way to North Lelantos, because it’s one of the few places she thinks Malias’ influence hasn’t reached. After resting for a bit in the woods and stocking up with Hush, she goes back to the road and sees a caravan moving down it, and on the end is Dalexo and his trading cart. Gem goes up to talk to Dalexo, and he is the nicest person ever. He “employs” Gem to clean his cart and they travel north to the god-city of Artemis together.

Present Day

This takes us to present day, just before the night of winter as the people spread throughout Artemis’ area of control travel to take refuge within the Hand of Artemis for the two month night. They have brought various trade goods and god-shards as tax to pay for staying in the safe area. Dalexo and Gem have traveled together from the south, and Anik looks across and sees Dalexo, moving to greet him. Vesper is also here, completely alone and terrified of it. She latches onto Anik and Dalexo almost at once, trying to get them all to be together. She’s clearly terrified of being alone for some reason. As Vesper tries to push for Anik, Gem, Dalexo and her becoming a team, a group of about 20 guards starts maneuvering the crowd to go into the Hand area of Artemis proper. There are about 2-3000 people grouped up together to take refuge inside the hull of the broken spaceship.
This is where the group sees Sandor, who is in charge of the camp inside the Hand area. He explains that they have plenty of food for everyone but it’s mostly dried goods, and later in the winter he will have hunting groups which people can volunteer for when Vesper asks.
Suddenly, everyone from Artemis proper line up and create a break in the crowd to let through an entourage, a great column of servants carrying lots of food, and behind them a huge man, a yotun giant from the frozen north. He is ten feet tall, muscular, and riding a great boar with a horned crown on his head. This is the lord of the hunt, Bilastar Quarter. Behind him is the queen mother, Greta Valkyrie. Behind them, riding a white verrit, is princess bella quarter. She is the only one in the royal family not a yotun, she is a very small princess wearing the regalia of Artemis and an ancient dress with nice jewelry, keeping in the style of the Ancients.
The High Priestess of Artemis, wearing a plated suit with pressure gauges and various kinds of ancient magic all over her creating readouts and displays on her hands, a cables coming out of the sides of her head with a crown covering where they’re connected, passes a blessing over the Lord of the Hunt as they head deeper into the ancient ship of Artemis.
The group hears whispers and rumors that Bella is considered a better ruler than her brother, the current ruler, that their deceased father used to let civilians outside partake in the hunt and Bella might again while Balistar does not. They also distrust the queen mother, and by extension likely the son because he inhereted her yotun blood.
Dalexo briefly mentions becoming involved in the politics of Artemis, and Anik tells him not to do it.
Just then, the group of Anik, Dalexo, Gem and Vesper notice a group of soldiers moving through the crowd with a drawing, seeming to be looking for someone. Gem sneaks up to see the picture of who they’re looking for, but bumps into someone accidentally and a guard grabs her collar. She tries to get out of his hold and Hush bites his hand, but she can’t get free and the soldier compares her to the piece of paper, but it isn’t Gem.
Anik and Vesper rush over to the guards to help Gem, and one of the soldiers sees Vesper and immediately recognizes her as the person on the paper. The knights move and partially surround them, and Dalexo walks forward to talk to the person in charge, taking charge and trying to defuse the situation. Sandor also rides up to see what the commotion in his camp is.
It turns out the High Oracle Kalisto Angyne has asked for Vesper without having ever met or known her before. The group is escorted to the inner areas of Artemis where the High Oracle is by Sandor. Gem was slightly separated from the group during the discussion, and Anik convinces her to join everyone instead of skulking behind.
The group reaches a giant airlock, ritualistically painted with bones and stone. One of the soldiers opens the door by placing a hand on a small display, and the air inside pushes out. It is fresh and warm, a sharp contrast to the harsh winter outside. Gem, Dalexo, Anik, Vesper (and Sandor??) have black bags placed over their heads as they are not “worthy” of gazing upon the inner workings of Artemis, and are led through the halls by the six guards of Artemis itself, through the pure metal floors, walls and ceilings that feel very different, especially to Vesper, from the norm as they walk.
They eventually reach a room, 30x30x30 feet in a cube shape, and the bags are taken off. All around the room is equipment, magical items and readouts, and hanging in the center of the room is a woman, connected directly to several of the devices with something holding her in place in the air. Tubes are coming out of the back of her head and her eyes are burned out with terrible, ancient scars.
The Oracle explains that she has a vision, and Vesper was in it and extremely important. She gives a tarot card reading about the group’s journey and how treacherous it will be, explaining that she doesn’t know the outcome because Loki is blocking her vision. But what she does know is Vesper needs to go to the Fallen Angel, and when the tears of the unforgivable fall on blood-soaked dirt, they will find the path to Death.
The group decides to take this prophecy seriously and vows to travel to the angel’s grave.