The Mighty Nein seem to be on a collision course with both the Cerberus Assembly and Caleb’s past, so we figured it was a time for a bit of a recap on both. As a reminder, we talked about the Cerberus Assembly over a year ago when the Nein were back in Zadash, and we’ve talked about Caleb multiple times. We won’t be rehashing everything in those articles, but there’s plenty of new information that we’ve added to our compendiums:
The Cerberus Assembly
We’ve already discussed most of what we know about the Cerberus Assembly in a previous article, but we’ve learned a few new things since then, and witnessed some of their activities. As a recap, there are eight members, each with their own area of expertise within the government of the Dwendalian Empire. When an Assembly member dies, a new member is chosen by the remaining members, usually from the deceased member’s immediate family, though at least one of the Assembly has been a member since its inception: Archmage Lunidus Da’leth.
According to Caleb, each member additionally has a deputy, known as an Annex. Thanks to Dairon recognizing Blondie, we now know the name of Archmage Lunidus Da’leth’s Annex: Vence Nuthaleus. Pumat Sol informed the Nein that he was an Annex of the Assembly as well, though he didn’t specify to whom. (He has a particular fondness for Oremid Hass, but hasn’t stated specifically that he works directly for Oremid.)
According to Dairon, the eight members each have their own tower within Rexxentrum, positioned to protect the throne. They also run at least three schools: the Hall of Erudition and the Apple Tree Tutor Village in Zadash and the Soltryce Academy in Rexxentrum.
The Cerberus Assembly may be based in Rexxentrum, but most (if not all) of the members have personal homes and private laboratories spread throughout the Empire, and they are more than capable of traveling quickly. Dairon herself does not know where any of the laboratories or homes are, but Caleb does know that Trent Ikithon’s personal home is just outside Rexxentrum.
Dairon has suspected for some time that the Cerberus Assembly isn’t to be trusted, and has made it their goal to take them down. She seems especially suspicious of their interests in Dunamancy, and thinks they worked with someone in the Dynasty to steal the Luxon Beacons, thereby starting the current war. From everything we know, though, that may just be the start of their questionable behavior.
The Luxon Beacons and Dunamancy
The Cerberus Assembly managed to get their hands on two Luxon Beacons from the Kryn Dynasty. The Mighty Nein managed to steal the first back from them (with the unknowing assistance of two Kryn warriors) and return it to Rhosona. The second seems to have been under the control of Lady Vess DeRogna in Felderwin, but the Assembly was more cautious after the first theft. By the time the Xhorhasian soldiers attacked the town, the beacon was long gone.
This second beacon, as we learned from Yeza, was the subject of experimentation by the Cerberus Assembly, specifically Lady Vess DeRogna. Yeza was able to extract a potion of Dunamancy, one that would be separate from the Beacon while still granting the its effects. This experiment came at a cost: the villagers in Felderwin reported several ill effects from their exposure to Dunamantic magics, yet DeRogna seemed unconcerned by this. Before being interrupted by the attack, DeRogna planned to get Yeza to make more of the extract en-masse for use by the military over the next year. It’s certainly possible the Assembly is continuing this work without Yeza.
This experimentation was not the Assembly’s only foray into Dunamancy. Lady DeRogna’s notes spoke of experiments on captured Kryn “operatives,” and some of Trent Ikithon’s “protégés” seem to have managed to pick up some basic Dunamancy spells.
Master Trent Ikithon and The Scourgers
Trent Ikithon’s “proteges” can be more accurately described as his personal hit squad: The Scourgers (Volstreckers in Zemnian). Caleb, Astrid, and Eodwulf weren’t the only promising young mages that Trent recruited, as we saw from the Scourger that was captured in the attack on Rosohna and in Lady DeRogna’s notes on Dunamancy.
We know from Caleb that Trent trains his recruits at his personal farm just outside Rexxentrum. This training is extreme: Caleb specifically called Trent “cruel.” We don’t know many details, but we do know that Trent inserts refined residuum into his trainees’ arms: both Caleb and the captured Scourger in Rosohna share the scars, and Caleb recognized the residuum crystals that the Nein recovered in Uthodurn. In addition to surviving the training, Scourgers must prove absolute loyalty to the throne. In Caleb, Astrid, and Eodwulf’s case, they were given false memories of their parents committing treason, under the expectation that the young mages would kill even their own parents. All three did. Caleb only gave details on his and Astrid’s: she poisoned them at a dinner where the three were guests, and the other two helped Caleb make sure his parents were locked in their house as he burned it.
Students that graduate serve the Empire as assassins and spies. They are so effective at what they do, and so hidden, that the name Scourger is rarely spoken except in whispers and ghost stories. This is due in part to their training and the necklaces they are given that shield them from scrying magics. Most recently, the Scourgers were used by the Empire in an attack on Rhosona. Thanks to the Nein, however, the Xhorhasians were able to prevent them from killing anyone, and even managed to capture one.
The captured Scourger seemed to show some knowledge of Trent’s tactics, but absolutely did not care. She showed nothing but belief in her mission and loyalty to the Empire, even as she knew she was going to die. The attempt on Caleb’s life was either to be rid of a traitor, or a play to hasten her own end. Either way, the Nein won’t be speaking to her again.
Bren Aldric Ermendrud
… aka, Caleb Widogast. We won’t rehash everything here, since we’ve more or less covered what we know here and here. Caleb is a veritable font of information on both the Cerberus Assembly and the Scourgers, but that knowledge comes at a price: they know who he is. Trent didn’t seem to recognize Caleb when the Nein met him in Zadash, but the captured Scourger definitely did. She also potentially heard his new first name twice, heard Nott and Fjord’s real voices, and would have seen Jester through the window in her cell, all in their first meeting.
In addition, based on Dairon’s analysis, someone managed to pass that Scourger a shiv and free her from her chains enough to stab Caleb. It’s also entirely possible that she managed to get a message out to Trent through that person. If she did, Trent could now know several things:
Bren is still alive.
Bren has regained his sanity (at least enough to be walking and talking coherently, and casting spells).
Bren is now going by Caleb.
Possible- Fjord used the name Caleb twice in the vicinity of the cell, but there’s no guarantee she heard it.
Bren is working with a blue tiefling and at least two others.
She saw Jester through the window of the cell while Caleb’s Dancing Lights were up.
Fjord spoke to Caleb in the vicinity of the cell, and Nott shouted “It was nice to meet you” as they were leaving.
Bren appears to be working with (or at least friendly towards) the enemy.
Caleb’s necklace will protect him and any of the Nein that are near him from scrying, but that won’t stop Trent from sending Scourgers after them (or their families).
It’s also worth mentioning here that while the Nein now know that Caleb was in training to be a Scourger, only Nott and Beau know every grisly detail about why he left. We’re sure that won’t lead to any angst or drama whatsoever.
Vence Nuthales and the Angel of Irons
As stated earlier, Blondie recently got a name: Vence Nuthales, the Annex of Archmage Lunidus Da’leth. Vence seems to be responsible for constructing the Abyssal Anchors that the Nein have been finding all over Xhorhas, and that also seem to be popping up in the Empire. While the Nein have seen him reading about The Crawling King, he appears to be working with Obann to serve the Angel of Irons. The exact goal is unknown, but it’s possible the Abyssal Anchors were a ploy to further incite tensions between the Empire and the Dynasty as a distraction for Obann to free The Laughing Hand and other creatures like it.
From Jester’s scrying, we know Obann has abandoned all pretext of subtlety by directly attacking the Cobalt Reserve library in Zadash. Obann seemed frustrated by Vence’s lack of assistance, so it’s likely that Vence didn’t help plan this attack.
It’s unclear if Archmage Da’leth is aware of his Annex’s activities. If he is, Dairon would be 100% correct in their suspicions that the Cerberus Assembly does not have the Empire’s best interests at heart.