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The Street of the Clerisy => Writing, Poems, AARs, and Stories - The Storyteller's Hall => Stories and AARs => Topic started by: Phoenixguard09 on March 26, 2015, 02:22:40 PM

Title: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword - A Norbayne Campaign Log
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 26, 2015, 02:22:40 PM
Hey guys,

As you are all aware, I've been working on the Norbayne project for quite some time now. It has been a long project, a labour of love for me and a handful of collaborators over many years. As you guys might already know, we did eventually get around to playing it.

As the GM, I think it went rather well.

EDIT* Table of Contents:
Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Arc 1: The Ruins Outside Summer Hill
Session 1.1: A Beginning (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=14172681&postcount=2"): In which we are introduced to the free township of Summer Hill and our intrepid heroes, who head out into the wilderness, get mauled by bear-wolves and are frightened by a shambling monster of myth and legend...
Session 1.2: Into the Darkness (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=14585595&postcount=17"): In which our heroes bravely venture underground, Harold duels an old rival and not all is at it appears regarding their initial quest...
Session 1.3: Exploration in the Black Pit (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=14607585&postcount=25"): In which our heroes find themselves taking on the tendrils of a most powerful foe...

Arc 2: Against the Lord of Winter
Session 2.1: Drunken Lullabies (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=14928860&postcount=34"): In which Tremor Ironfist is introduced to our party of intrepid adventurers and much alcohol is consumed...
Session 2.2: The Lady in Red (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=15108428&postcount=44"): In which our heroes venture forth once more, Harold and Tremor must deal with massive hangovers and the group gains an ally...
Session 2.3: And Now For Something Completely Different (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=15192427&postcount=58"): In which Tremor is badly injured, a door is killed and a house ransacked...
Session 2.4: The Infamous Fireball (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=15318574&postcount=66"): In which our heroes fight fire, set each other on fire and Harold engages in diplomatic discourse with a Naillish noble...
Session 2.5: Walking Away (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=15736652&postcount=74"): In which our heroes regroup to determine their next plan, Tremor takes on a powerful warlock by himself and a twilight meeting turns sour...
Session 2.5 (a): Harold's Midnight Ride (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=16204036&postcount=84"): In which Harold heads out to find Dhara, engages in conversations with her and is shot at...
Session 2.6: The Coming Metaphorical Storm (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=16209203&postcount=85"): In which our heroes return to the scene of one of their crimes, Breanna proves her worth and Maebh gets angry...
Session 2.7: End of the Line (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=16397781&postcount=92"): In which warehouses are ransacked, Tremor gets a crowning moment of awesome and the cult is finally taken down...

Arc 3: The Wolves of Dreven
Session 3.1: Fire, Smoke and Dwarven Catapults (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=16842885&postcount=99"): In which our heroes make a daring escape from Summer Hill and find themselves in Dreven, a small village in northern Naille...
Session 3.2: Sleepless Nights and Undead Wolves (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=17338048&postcount=107"): In which our heroes find themselves under siege by a pack of ravenous beasts...
Session 3.3: The Lair of the Wolf King (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=17670467&postcount=120"): In which our heroes head to the Blackfort to take on the Wolf King on his own ground...
Session 3.4: The Danann Pack (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=18107797&postcount=135"): In which our heroes are joined by Therressa Bannimagen, leave the Blackfort and return triumphantly to Dreven, but must contend with a new threat...

Interlude 3.5: New Beginnings (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=18625049&postcount=145"): In which our heroes leave the relative safety of Dreven to embark on a voyage north, to rescue a fair dwarven damsel...

Arc 4: Finding the Resistance
Session 4.1: Over The Cold Northern Sea (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=18927386&postcount=147"): In which our heroes leave Norbayne behind and travel to Unterguardt in order to save Tremor's sister from her arranged marriage...

Whispers in the Dark
Whispers in the Dark Introduction (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=19017645&postcount=151")

Arc 1: Demotion
Session 1.1: We Are No Spies (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=19017682&postcount=152"): In which our ne'er-do-wells survive a face-to-face meeting with the shadowy Master, become neophytes once more and are sent on a routine expedition to the town of Torycastro...

Additional Content:
Travellers in the Snow
Session 1.1: Caves and Conundrums (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=17367014&postcount=113"): In which Therressa Bannimagen is introduced in the northern village of Snowshard, a mountain is scaled and a degenerate tribe of cave-dwellers are found and fought...

Pirates of Lemaria
Session 1.1: The Sparrow on the Ocean (http://"http://s4.zetaboards.com/Battlehammer/topic/10124466/1/#new"): In which Martialis Ironlaw is introduced onboard the Sparrow, a merchant vessel heading home through the Lemarian archipelago. A storm is weathered, pirates are fought and an untamed land is reached...
Session 1.2: Who Rescues the Rescue Party? (http://"http://s4.zetaboards.com/Battlehammer/single/?p=8224504&t=10124466"): In which Martialis Ironlaw must brave the temple city of the polud-malpa to rescue his missing crew members...
Session 1.3: The Sparrow Gets Her Wings Back (http://"http://s4.zetaboards.com/Battlehammer/single/?p=8261120&t=10124466"): In which Martialis Ironlaw arrives in the town of Bina and must contend with both his own crewmates and the town guard...

The Players

The first player is Duke Dev, a longtime friend of mine. He has a bit of RP experience, particularly with me as a GM, so he knows my "style."

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

My next player was my own sister, Lady Darkmoon, who is a little younger than the rest of the group but seems to fit in well enough. Having GM'd for her before, I knew from the beginning she would pick a "cute" character. 

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The next player is Ladyhawk, my girlfriend, who is new to RP'ing, yet is very much a gamer girl. I ran a short, introductory solo session for her the weekend before the game to see how she would go and I think she handled herself very well.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

And lastly, Sins of Dusk created the last character, Kel'Serrar. I have not gamed with him before, though I count him as a friend.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

EDIT* We picked up another player, Wings of Darkness around Session 1.4 I believe. Another friend from school, Wings is the only one of us without constant access to the forum, so getting in touch with him to bug him about his backstory has been a constant struggle. Finally, we got it. :P

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

EDIT* Around the time of Session 3.2, we picked up one more player, Wings of the Opal Sky, or Opal for short. She's a friend of LD's from school and expressed some interest after LD went and showed all her friends the fun we were having. Opal has some experience in PBP as far as I'm aware, but no prior experience in tabletop play. Therressa finally joined the group in Session 3.3, having already featured in a mini-session.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

So there are the players. Now for the session itself. Back soon my friends.
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 26, 2015, 02:27:07 PM
Session 1.1: A Beginning

 Let us begin.  

 Summer Hill is a bustling community, full of little wooden houses and surrounded by a stout palisade perched atop the hill which gives the town its name. The majority of the populace are Midlanders, which fits the location, deep within the Midland forests of Norbayne. Most of the structures have thatched rooves, but some, the older ones, perhaps grander dwellings of the more affluent members of the township, bear tiled rooves, and the buildings themselves are often crafted of grey stone.

 Summer Hill is in an interesting location, sitting astride the borders of Elspeth and Naille, independent of both, for now at least. The Queen of Elspeth, Esmerelda I, has long wanted to claim Summer Hill and its illustrious Weaver’s Guild for her own, but historically, the King of Naille has refused her, not allowing the little town to lose its independence. However, the Naillish King died, just a fortnight past and Elspeth is looking to expand once more while their neighbour is weak and divided. The heir, a young boy named Manden, looks to take the crown without too much difficulty, but he is still very young, and there are many who would use the chaos of succession to obscure their nefarious aims. 

 On a smaller scale however, not all is well in Summer Hill. A complex of ruins was found by a group of children just over a week ago, an underground labyrinth from the times before the ancient Bovus Empire. They brought back tales of unearthly shrieks and moans from deep underground and shadows which darted just on the edge of vision. Some men from the outlying hamlets joined a small band of mercenaries hired by a prominent merchant in town to explore the ruins and to ensure that they were safe, but have not been seen since.

 It would seem Summer Hill is in need of heroes.

 Luckily, would-be heroes are to be found, or at least those who would attempt to be heroes through the promise of gold.
 So it is that Harold Oakenshield, Maebh Raven-Wing, Breanna Blackrose and Kel’Serrar of the Danann find themselves fighting side by side for the fate of Summer Hill and the future of those who call it home.

I was constantly interrupted during this intro by various players, Dev most of all who seemed eager to show off.
 "What would you do without me?" - Dev, questioning the vaguely annoyed GM.
 "Well I probably would have finished this intro ages ago." - the cutting response.  

A small black-furred Leathe, clad in unassuming dark grey and black clothes sits, alone, in the back corner of the White Stallion Inn. Her small, furred hand grasps a curved knife of greyed-steel. 

 One by one, the characters are approached by the merchant, Petyr Rangard, a short, slight, well-dressed man with a trimmed, pointed beard and short, dark hair. He’s wearing burgundy robes with gold embroidery and a long knife on his belt. The characters know he is a powerful merchant in both Summer Hill and the surrounding kingdoms. Rangard proposes a meeting behind the Inn of the White Stallion at midnight, promising an interesting conversation and a proposal which would be well worth the characters’ while.

“Sounds interesting. I’ll be there, simply because I like money." - Harold Oakenshield, Invarrian wanderer and old-dog.
“I’d just laugh. *laughter*" - Breanna Blackrose, Leathe assassin. We just assumed that laughter equated to yes.
 "If you’re up for it, I’ll show up but you’re buying.” - Kel'Serrar, Danann archer, ever ready to swindle potential employers out of money.
“I’ll be there.” - Maebh Raven-Wing, Danann mage.

This was just my way of giving the players a bit of a smooth transition from GM monologue into actually directing the game as players. I'll admit, I was hoping for a bit more in-character interaction with Rangard, but this wasn't too bad.

 They agree seperately to meet him and therefore arrive at midnight, meeting each other for the first time.
 Rangard is standing in the middle of a darkened courtyard, leaning against an old fountain and waiting for everyone to arrive.
 *burp*
“Harold has arrived." Cue Jack Sparrow jokes.  
“I’m guessing we’re waiting for someone else?” - Harold asks of the merchant.
 "Yes, we shall wait for everyone to arrive and then all will be revealed." - Rangard, quietly whilst scanning the shadows for signs of movement.

 Eventually the four potential adventurers show up and Rangard begins.

“I have summoned you here to help me protect the interests of Summer Hill. As you know, I am the most successful merchant in these lands and am well in pocket. Therefore, I assure you, you will be compensated fairly for your time and efforts.

 I do not know if you have heard of the recent developments just over a day’s travel to the north? A group of children found an underground complex of some description, ruined and, supposedly abandoned. A group of men from Summer Hill itself set out to explore the ruins for themselves. They have not returned and have been missing for over a week.

 I wish to enlist a group to find out what happened to those men. I ensure you that you will be paid. Handsomely.” - Rangard, with a smile, jingling a coin purse temptingly in his right hand. His left, you notice, does not stray far from the hilt of his knife.

“Never trust a guy in a tunic, they look silly.” - Breanna, muttering to herself.

Meanwhile, Kel'Serrar considers the opportunity.
 "We’ve got an old man to use as bait and food to have on the way.” - Kel'Serrar, starting the "baiting" of Harold and describing the Leathe assassin as food.
 "AWWW!" - Breanna, unhappy at the thought of being eaten.
“I’d agree with you there.” - Maebh, happy at the thought of eating the Leathe.
“AWWWWW!” - Breanna doubly unhappy at the thought of being eaten.

 Some OOC discussion about respective speeds as the group tries to figure out if Breanna could escape from the two lanky Danann if they get peckish.  

“So, provided you agree to my little business venture, who shall be the leader of this company?” – Rangard
 "The old guy." - Breanna pointing at Harold.
 "Why not?" - Harold, smiling because he got precisely what he wanted.

 Rangard hands over forty sulvers to be split amongst the party, along with an envelope, sealed with the crest of a coiled serpent.
“This letter is to be given to anyone you find from the group which Summer Hill sent out. Consider it proof that you are on the same side.

 Now I suggest that you leave some time tomorrow. I do not know if there are any who might be interested in your comings and goings, but you might keep that in mind. Now goodbye, and remember, I’ll pay you well. Very well indeed.” – Petyr Rangard, leaving the party with an almost mocking bow.

 It is almost midnight and the group decides to split up and enjoy their last night in the township. Harold goes to find rum despite the time. Breanna hangs around in the courtyard, trying to avoid the Danann. Kel'Serrar climbs a tree in the courtyard to sleep in it as he is on the run and does not wish for anyone to know his location. Maebh finds a tavern room and locks EVERYTHING as she is extremely paranoid.
 Harold enters the inn, buys a pint of rum and drinks it. He is barely effected.
 Breanna meanwhile waits for the Danann to go away, then climbs a tree herself and goes to sleep.
 Harold has another pint of rum and then curls up in a chair at the tavern’s hearth.

"You’re covered in alcohol, the worst that could happen is when you’re set on fire." - Sins

* * *

 They all wake up in the morning in separate places. Breanna and Kel’Serrar wake in their respective trees. Kel'Serrar leaves to go and avail himself of some arrows.
As I said at the time, this is probably the first time I have ever had to state that in a game I have run. There's a first time for everything.
 Harold wishes to buy himself a bottle of rum and does so. After this, he arrives in the courtyard hoping that the others will get the idea that it is to be considered a rendezvous, seeing as no one thought to organise a meeting place the previous night. He sees Breanna who is already there. Maebh is also there hiding in the corner of the courtyard, avoiding attention. Kel’Serrar finally arrives after purchasing said arrows. Harold then takes charge.
“Shall we... um.. go.. to.... the ruin things? Maybe? - Harold, being wonderfully commanding

 The group as a whole set out from Summer Hill at mid-morning, hoping that their departure might be sort of surreptitious.

 Travel on the road is more or less uneventful for several hours, the group striding north in a more or less companionable silence. The Danann pass their respective Survival Checks and see the tracks of deer and woodwolves along the road.
 Kel’Serrar also passes a Perception Check after about three hours travel and notices a path off the side of the road, one which appears to have recently been smashed through the undergrowth.

 The whole party follows Harold with weapons ready, arguing about the order. Eventually it is Harold in the front with Breanna flanking him and Kel’Serrar and Maebh following at a safe distance. The path turns up an overturned carriage and two horse corpses which have been ripped apart, likely by a marcwolf.

 Harold inspects the carriage and finds a small girl, dead and rotting, clad in finery. Her features however are unrecognisable due to the elements and scavengers. The Danann joke that there appears to be breakfast.
 Kel’Serrar passes a Heal Check and can see that her legs were shattered.
 Maebh passes her Survival Check and sees marcwolf tracks heading into the forest. The party decides to follow it. Breanna passes an untrained Survival Check to follow the tracks.

 Breanna and Harold pass their follow-up Survival Checks to follow the tracks through the green woodland.
 The party find eventually themselves at a natural cave made out of a hollowed out rock formation. There is a marcwolf sleeping outside.
“Oh it’s pretty!” Maebh, on the marcwolf. (http://th09.deviantart.net/fs10/PRE/i/2006/095/f/a/Amphicyon_new_study_by_unlobogris.jpg)
 It is suggested that Harold should try talking to it.
 Harold might be the leader of the party, but the rest of them all seem to refer to him as "Bait."
“I can’t talk to it. And if you call me Bait one more time I will stab you.” - Harold, getting peeved, and not for the first nor last time that night.

 Breanna meanwhile is off in her own little world.
“Hush little bear-wolf, don’t say a word...” - Breanna in sing-song.
 She’s a nut.

 Harold decides to attack it with Breanna's support. Unbeknownst to him, she decides to leave him to his fate. As they were taking so long to come to a decision, the decision was eventually made for them. The marcwolf wakes up. And sees all of them. And let’s out a low growl. And another one comes out of the cave.

 Now joined by its mate, the marcwolf charges at the foremost figure of the company, Harold Oakenshield. The male attacks him as Kel'Serrar looses an arrow at the female. Still drowsy, she registers the hit and the pain it causes. This only serves to make her angry, instinctively knowing that the Danann ranger was responsible. However, to get at the ranger, she must first go through Breanna. It attacks her and hits with a single claw attack. Breanna fails her Dodge Check and takes a raking blow from the claws across her right thigh.
“Aww, that’s my favourite leg.” - Breanna, still able to make witty quips with blood spurting periodically out of her leg.
 Seeing the danger, Maebh succeeds in casting Flare. The magical fire blasts a chunk out of the female and sets the beast on fire. Breanna hobbles away in the confusion, attempting to hide behind Kel'Serrar, despite her previous fear that he would eat her. She justifies it by pointing out that he's got problems to deal with and that being eaten yourself tends to make one less hungry.

 After getting away completely unscathed by the male's furious assault, Harold attempts to strike back with sword and axe.
"It's a D100." - Me
 *Rolls*
 "Uh.... That's my ten." - Dev.
 "That's a 99.... It doesn't matter which is your ten, that's a horrible strike." - Me
“You gave it your best shot.” - Ladyhawk
“Yeah.” - Dev
“Too bad it was a horrible one.” - Ladyhawk
 At this point we had an intermission for food.

Upon the return to the game, we jump straight back into the fray. The male misses completely when attacking Harold. There is much laughter as everyone at the table attempts to re-enact it.

 Kel’Serrar is attacked by the flaming female and Breanna hides behind Maebh this time, seeing that her erstwhile shield is about to be mauled.

 Kel’Serrar hits the female, shooting her in the chest and hurting her badly. The female ignores the flames burning her and proceeds to smash a paw into Kel’Serrar’s head, stunning him. The stun quickly became unconsciousness.

 Maebh succeeds in casting Flare again and blasts another chunk out of the female.
“There won’t be any chunks left!” - Breanna, in one of the most underrated one-liners of the night.
 Breanna continues hiding behind Maebh.
 Harold hits the male with his cutlass and removes its left foreleg with much blood and furious hacking. Harold proceeds to kill the male by removing both its forelegs and letting it bleed out on the ground. The female is badly hurt and, seeing her mate fall, begins howling and trying to maul Kel’Serrar. In her rage, she manages to miss every time. Maebh kills her with another Flare.

 Breanna’s bleeding to death from her leg and Kel’Serrar is stunned to hell and back. Maebh and Harold are untouched. To top it all off, Kel’Serrar was the only one who took Heal. So I gave them a level as the fight was fairly tough and I would like to make them vaguely competent before they reach the ruins.

 Inside the cave the marcwolves were using, the party hears squeaking and mewling. A small investigation reveals two small marcwolf cub-pups.
 "Dibs!" - Harold
 Harold and Breanna grab the little cub-pups. It is three in the afternoon, and two of the group are injured. One is bleeding profusely and the other is not really moving.
 "Can I give it a shot?" - Harold, on bandaging Breanna
 Harold fails. Maebh fails too. The first hour passes with the two of them failing horribly at bandaging, while Kel'Serrar writhes in unconscious, marcwolf-induced sleep.
 Breanna gets to the point where she feels she needs to bandage her own leg. She succeeds. Kel'Serrar wakes up not long after.
 They decide to stay in the cave, despite the smell. Kel'Serrar volunteers to take first watch in the face of Harold's... inefficient leadership. Harold puts Breanna on the first three hour shift because she insults him.
 Maebh suggests eating the marcwolf corpses. Breanna decides to hobble outside and cut down some wood with a carving knife.
 Lots of worry about Harold being a potential cannibal. Maebh just eats the marcwolf flesh, butchering the two adults.
 "It's not that close to a dog. It's more like a bear." - Me, having planned on introducing a quandry about the morality of canibalism, yet not expecting it from this particular angle.
 "Oh... ok." - Harold, deciding that even that is a bit closer than he would like.

 A fire is lit and night falls swiftly, blanketing the lanscape in a shadowy cloak. During his watch, Kel'Serrar notices movement in the trees, what seems to be humanoid figures in the darkness. He awakens Breanna with a sharp whack to the head. Swiftly, he awakens the other two, except Maebh doesn't get a whack. They swiftly devise a plan to minimise the danger, with Kel'Serrar heading into the woods next to the cave. Breanna is to stay with Maebh in the cave. After deciding this, Harold draws his sabre, dulls the blade with ash and dirt and walks out of the cave confidently.

 "Who's there!?" - Harold, striding towards the interlopers
 "Oh you..." - Maebh, exasperated.
 Harold is answered swiftly by two arrows flying towards him from out of the darkness, each of them whistling on either side of him. In return, Maebh throws off a Flare, hitting one of the swordsmen and setting him aflame. Breanna hobbles stealthily out of the cave to go support Harold, but she falls over and has to resort to crawling. Kel'Serrar shoots at one of the archers, hitting him in the throat. Harold then taunts one of the remaining two swordsmen charging at him.
 "You pansy-ass bitch, come fight me!" - Harold, directing his insult at the swordsman leading the charge
 The brigand roars in rage and attempts to slam into Harold, but the old duellist skillfully evades his blows. The other swordsman makes for Maebh, having not seen the ranger or the assassin yet, both of whom are cloaked in the night's darkness.
 The man on fire tries to put himself out but is unable to do so.
 The archer who lives tries to shoot Maebh, the mage's fires startling him into rushing his shot. He misses in his haste.

 Maebh fires off another Flare, setting her new target on fire. The swordsman running towards her is now on fire, running past Breanna who still hasn't been noticed. Rising from the ground, she fails her optimised Sneak Attack.
 Kel'Serrar shoots at the other archer in the treeline, but misses, losing his arrow.
 Despite his best efforts, Harold misses in combat, and regretfully looks back on not taking Talents which would help to kill stuff.

 The taunted swordsman attempts to hit Harold and is parried easily by the old dog-man. The flaming swordsman attempts to hit Breanna, but fails in the darkness. The archer again fails to hit Maebh.

 Maebh throws off another Flare at the archer and finally does some decent damage, setting the brigand on fire and blowing a fist sized chunk out of his torso.
 Breanna considers hobbling away or trying to hit the man attacking her.
"This is what happens when we don't have a tank." - Sins, reminiscing on how the party handles their encounters.
 Breanna finally attempts to hurt the guy, but in somewhat of a recurring theme, fails to hit him.
 Kel'Serrar hits the swordsman attacking Breanna, killing him with an arrow to the back of the neck.
"We are owning!" - Ladyhawk, on the party's abilities
 Harold makes a called strike to the brigand's neck, missing. The swordsman strikes back, fails, and now is very worried, trying to back off seeing as all of his friends have just died over the course of the last minute or so.

 "Harold, can you move?" - Maebh
 "No, I want to kill him myself!" - Harold
 ".... You're an arse!" - Maebh
 Breanna hobbles back into the cave after deciding that Harold will probably handle the guy by himself, and that she has better things to do than risk her life for the Invarrian. Kel'Serrar fires into the melee, missing both combatants, much to Harold's relief. Just as Harold begins his strike, the brigand falls to his knees, throwing his sword to the ground. Harold's cutlass passes just over the man's head, missing by a hair's breadth.
 "I yield, I yield!" - Brigand, fearful for his life
 "Off with his head!" - Breanna, bloodthirsty
 "Is he human?" - Maebh, always with an agenda
 "Yes." - Me, wondering where this is going
 "Can I keep it?" - Maebh
 "Do you have any rope?" - Harold, channelling Eddie Izzard
 "You all neglected to buy rope..." - Me, delighting in reminding them of their foolishness
 "I'll knock it over the head. I want it." - Maebh, delighting in reminding us that Danann are not your normal elves.
 "Off with his head I say!" - Breanna, still bloodthirsty
 "Big thing here, my choice." - Harold, attempting to impose his authority
 "No it's not your choice!" - Breanna, enjoying this far too much

I decide that I must point something out.
 "Yes it might be your choice, but the fact is, if Breanna decides she wants to kill him... Well, you might say, "We're keeping him as a prisoner," and then you turn your back and she goes, "HAHA STABBY STABBY!"
 There is laughter before the game resumes.  

 Maebh wonders about the food situation.
 "That's ok, there's a bunch of guys we've killed. Breakfast!" - Kel'Serrar, unrepentently cheerful

 With his cutlass, Harold walks up to the man.
 "By the rights of combat, you are my prisoner." - Harold, before punching the kneeling man in the face with the hilt of the sword, ripping open his cheek on his teeth, knocking out a handful, probably breaking his nose, but not knocking him out.
 "Well that's incapacitated him at least." - Harold, surveying his handiwork
"Yeah, he's on his hands and knees, really regretting yielding at the moment." - Me
 Harold beats the prisoner around the head with the flat of his sword, causing internal bleeding in his ear, giving him a splitting headache, but still not knocking him out.
 "Before you bash it any further, can I have it?" - Maebh
 "Yeah... Why not?" - Harold
 "And when she gets bored with him, cut off his head and give it to our puppies?" - Breanna
 "NO!" - Harold

 The intrepid group has just been attacked by a small group of bandits. They managed to see the brigands off with little to no difficulty, killing them all in a matter of minutes, save for one man whom Harold has taken prisoner. Now, sadly deprived of rope, they debate what to do with him.

"Does anyone have Intimidate?" - Me, trying to give them an out.
 "No." - Everyone.
 "I was going to, but then I didn't, because who would be scared of a possum?" - LD, elaborating on her choice.
 "No I took Charm instead." - Dev
 "Oh you're really showing that now." - Sins, cracking us all up.

 "Oh, I'm gonna use Charm."
 "How are you going to do that?"
 "I'm gonna punch him in the face. LIKE ME OR ELSE!"

 They decide that Maebh can have him as a sacrifice. Kel'Serrar attempts to patch him up so that Maebh can go through with it. After all, sacrifices have to be in good shape, otherwise they're not worthy. But he fails. Hence jokes about bandages made of poison sumac. The whole group decides to give it a shot, but they all fail eventually.

"Let me just get this straight. I'm going to try and bandage his ears and mouth, Breanna's put one across his head, Maebh's cauterised the wounds by setting him on fire and Harold.... Well Harold probably punched him again." - Sins, analysing the situation.
 *whack* "HEAL! *whack* - Ladyhawk, demonstrating Harold's effective healing techniques.


 They eventually decide that it's not worth trying to bandage him anymore. As they have no rope, Maebh watches over him while Harold watches the outside, despite Maebh being able to see in the dark. Because Harold's too stubborn to admit a potential mistake. Breanna and Kel'Serrar, being the two who have been on watch already this night, go to sleep.

 The brigand manages to talk through the bandages stuffed in his mouth.
 "Do you want to know why we were here?" - Brigand, muffled by bandages, trying to barter for his life.
 Maebh nods.
 "We were hired to waylay travellers on their way to Summer Hill." - Brigand, still worried about the length of his life.

Conveniently for the party, he was the leader of the band. This was something which was pure coincidence. The man Harold Taunted was the leader the whole time, as denoted by the fact that he was leading the charge. So this isn't a case of GM fiat.  

 "What aren't you telling me?" - Maebh, questioning as her curiosity is roused.

 He's very scared of the mage, who succeeds in the Intimidation check, despite her not having the skill. Being able to hurl balls of fire at people tends to have that effect. He tells her they were contracted by the Queen of Elspeth, and hands her a note which was secreted upon his person.

 "What are you two talking about back there?" - Harold, forgoing his sentry duties to discover why Maebh is fraternising with the enemy.
 Maebh hands him the note.

Quote from: Note
A group has set out from Summer Hill. They intend to visit the ruins.
 See to it they don’t get there.
 The Shadow,

 "Good work. We'll sort this out in the morning."- Harold after reading the note.

 "Who is the Shadow?" - Maebh, whispering as Harold returns to the mouth of the cave.
 "I cannot say.... the camp is a day's travel to the east." - Brigand, desperately trying to seem helpful.

 Wanting to avoid as much trouble during the night as she can, Maebh tries to Intimidate him into attempting to go to sleep. She passes with flying colours and the brigand rolls up and immediately attempts to do as she told him.

 Harold and Maebh fall asleep during the early morning. Kel'Serrar and Breanna wake at about seven in the morning to find Maebh, Harold and the brigand asleep. Kel'Serrar kicks "Bait" while Breanna refuses to awaken Maebh on account of potentially being eaten by an angry mage.

 "What are you going to do with me?" - Brigand, awoken by the sounds of movement in the cave.
 "Lop off his head!" - Breanna, whose bloodlust has not dulled over night.
 "We haven't had breakfast yet." - Kel'Serrar, always has his mind on the most important topics.
"You got to remember you've got your little marcwolf pups." - Me, attempting to let them know that the marcwolves will need to be fed.
 "No! He's mine! I'm going to feed my marcwolf." - Harold, mistaking me and thinking that I was suggesting the party eat the cub-pups.
"You've got people so you can give him a taste for human flesh, or... his parents." - Me, letting Dev know his options.

 Don't you love moral dilemmas like this?

 "I'm not going to give him a taste for human flesh, just yet." - Harold, not letting practicality get in the way of squickiness.
 "So you're going to... feed him his parents?" - Maebh, pointing out the alternative.
 "You could voluntarily cut off a bit of your calf." - Breanna, always helpful
 "Or we could kill a possum..." - Maebh, dark and foreboding....
 "Nooo! What is WRONG with you!? Why do you all hate me?" - Breanna, realising her mouth will get her in trouble one day.

Alternatively, someone could go hunting...

 Of course, the two who are capable of hunting really couldn't care less until Harold strikes a deal with Maebh, giving her three sulvers in exchange for her efforts.

 All of Maebh's misadventures will be documented here for continuity.
 She succeeds in finding possum tracks despite the difficulty.
"That's me, the guilty party!" - LD
 She finds what appears to be possum type creatures living in colonies in the trees.
"I breed quickly." - LD
 She may have possibly gone just a little too far there....

 Maebh hurls her spear at one of them, missing it, startling it and losing her spear, which she eventually finds in the undergrowth.
 The unsuccessful comes across deer tracks after some searching, once again passing her Survival Check. She also misses the deer when she throws her spear, startling it and causing to run in panic.
 "I'm just going to throw fire at the next one." - Maebh, exasperated.
 She decides to follow the deer she startled, attempting to catch up with it.

 Harold goes to the bandit and tries to "Charm" him into telling them more. Harold decides to try and Intimidate instead, but the bandit doesn't know any more.
 Kel'Serrar doesn't do anything other than chuckling to himself in the corner of the cave, laughing at Harold's continued attempts to intimidate the prisoner.
 "Would you like to try and bandage him up some more?" - Harold to Kel'Serrar.
 "Do you want me to stuff more bandages in his face?" - Kel'Serrar, efficiently describing the healing process.
 Harold and Kel'Serrar decide to try and "heal" him together. Harold effectively stands over the ranger's shoulder, sprouting helpful phrases like, "I think you should connect that bandage with that one over there."

"What are we using for bandages?" - Sins, in an attack of logic.
 "Basically, this is you guys tearing your clothes apart." - Me, thinking quickly.
 "Now we have no clothes. No wait, I have clothes. You guys don't." - Ladyhawk.
 More jokes about bandages made of poison sumac.

"I'm going to go gather fruit and... pickpocket some possums." - Breanna
"As if we couldn't sink any lower." - Sins, amidst laughter.
 Breanna's still off looking for berries. She eventually succeeds, now deciding that "pickpocketing trees" is far more effective.

 Amazingly, Harold and Kel'Serrar finally manage to fix up the brigand's bandages. And what's left of his face. Just in time for Breanna's triumphant return with various pilfered fruits of the forest.

 "I think I'm going to go have breakfast. I think there's still some marcwolf left." - Kel'Serrar, leaving his handiwork and seeing to his own sustenance.
 There is plenty of marcwolf left. Alternatively there are people.

 Maebh meanwhile is still chasing the deer. She is keeping up with it, but it's proving difficult to catch.

 Harold considers sending Kel'Serrar out to look for the mage, but reconsiders after being reminded that she's only been an out for about an hour.
 "Right then, Kezaar, or whatever your name is..." - Harold to the Danann ranger.
"Kel'Serrar." - Ladyhawk, ever helpful. She had everyone's names written phonetically at the bottom of her sheet. Kel'Serrar for instance as Kell-Sore-Arrrr. Works well enough.  
 "Right, you. Do you want to scout ahead and look for this bloody route?" - Harold, wanting to get on with the mission.
 "Eh... Not really." - Kel'Serrar (Kezaar), happy enough to sit around eating marcwolf.
 ".... Right." - Harold, realising that being the leader is tough when the rest of the group has no respect for authority.
 "Let's head back to the road then. You're stronger so you can carry our friend." - Kel'Serrar, making a compromise.
"And I come back to an empty cave." - Ladyhawk, pointing out the obvious flaw.


 Maebh loses her quarry in the end, but soon finds an extensive rabbit warren. She immediately decides to send a Flare down into the warren, blowing apart several rabbits. The smell of cooked lagomorph wafts up from the hole in the ground, and a handful of other holes too. She skewers three of the rabbits on her spear, slinging them upon her belt.
 At this point Maebh heads back to the cave, tossing the rabbits over to Harold when she arrives, who gives the cub-pups a rabbit each and the mage an extra handful of coppers.

"Hey, can I set fires with Create Elements?" - Ladyhawk, discovering the utility of her abilities.
 Turns out that yes, that is what it is mainly for.
 "Then why did I not do that last night?" - Ladyhawk
 "Mainly because you didn't care."

The next bit has been spoilered for adult themes. Read at your own risk...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Maebh comes onto the road to join the others, covered in much blood. The party continues north and swiftly comes upon the ruins.

 Breanna passes an Intelligence check, deciding it looks a bit like a big temple.
 "We forgot to buy torches didn't we?" - Harold
 A rectangular doorway in front of the party leads to the temple complex itself. Harold sniffs the air and smells old stuff. There's a weird acrid tang on the air. Smells like acid, ants and death. He can smell people, but overall the overwhelming smell he gets is old.

 "Kel'Serrar, could you please set up camp? Please?" - Harold, giving everyone work to do.
 "Okay." - Kel'Serrar
 "Could you do a quick perimeter check?" - Harold, to Breanna.
 "You're asking me?" - Breanna
 "Yeah. I'm asking you to do a perimeter check. And you, could you please guard the door?" - Harold, with little patience.
 "Sure." - Maebh, coolly
 "Thank you." - Harold, learning to deal with uncooperative teammates.

Small silence....
 "And what is Harold doing?" - Me, feeling there needed to be some prodding.
 "I'm doing...." - Dev, scratching for a task.
 "Nothing?" - Ladyhawk, cutting
 "I'm going to go look for firewood." - Harold, finally coming up with something amidst the laughter.

 Breanna heads off to look at the perimeter. She doesn't find much really. Kel'Serrar sets up camp while Harold looks for firewood. Maebh easily sets the fire.

 But they have no tents, nor any real camping equipment.

 Harold looks for a water source while Maebh creates water in her hand. Some discussion about whether drinking from the hand of a murderous, carnivorous wild she-elf is sanitary. It is decided that perhaps bowls and such might be in order.
 "Who wants it first?" - Maebh, vaguely threatening.

 It is decided that rope and other supplies... cups and such might be a good idea. So Maebh is sent back to Summer Hill to go pick up equipment amidst more talk regarding respective speeds. So a shopping list is constructed and Maebh is given money by everyone to go get the equipment.
Shopping List:
 - 4 tents
 - 20 feet of rope
 - 2 torches
 - Tinder box
 - A keen dagger for Breanna
 - Food supplies, dried meat, berries, hard tack etc.
 - Wagon + draught creature

 Breanna shares her conspiracy theory after Harold shares the letter given by the brigand. Her theory seems to be almost matching up.
Not sure how, but Breanna's theory seems to have gone missing. The basic gist of it was that Rangard hired the brigands, for whatever reason.  

 The rest of the group starts to explore the outside of the ruins in Maebh's absence. Harold searches the perimeter on the second day, not finding anything of interest. Kel'Serrar also starts to wander around, exploring and such. Breanna decides that looking for berries and other such stuff might be a good idea.

 Maebh picks up a wagon, but is incapable of driving. She decides to hire a driver. She succeeds after some time in finding someone who will drive the cart there for ten sulvers. Maebh keeps him in line by passively threatening to eat him.

 That night, at the ruins, there is a weird shrieking...

Cue both girls emulating the Nazgul simultaneously. It was surprisingly accurate too.
 "They are the Nazgul, the Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead."

 "I suggest we go hide in the woods." - Harold
"Well Breanna's already playing possum." - Sins
 While both Breanna and Kel'Serrar have Concealment, Harold doesn't. So whatever it is will probably not see them and come straight for him.
 "The Nazgul will come for you. *screech* - LD
 "Okay, stop that!" - Dev
 Laughter.
 "The best you can do mate is to hold your hands in the air and recite, "I, am a tree."

 The three of them start to hide in the trees, all the while Maebh is driving from the south along the road, with the screeching coming from the north. She can hear it in the distance and hopes that she doesn't run into whatever it is.

 Meanwhile, Breanna succeeds on her Concealment check, swathing herself in her cloak and pressing herself into the shadows.
 Kel'Serrar on the other hand...
 "Yeah I give up on hiding. Look here, Harold's a tree!" - Sins, trying to draw attention from himself.

 Ahead of them, a shambling mess emerges from the ruins, shrieking and groaning as it stumbles towards them...
 "I thought you were hiding Harold." - Kel'Serrar
 "SHUT UP!" - Harold

 The corpsewalker comes gurgling and gargling, fingertips worn down to bone claws. Quick and ungainly, gnashing its teeth, it comes straight for Harold/tree. The walker's flesh is literally rotting on its body.

 The fight with the corpsewalker was interesting with very little damage actually occurring on either side. To the point that Breanna failed so much that despite her repeated efforts, it doesn't even realise she's there. This is partially down to her really good Concealment check and partially due to her utterly failing to do any damage even with the bonuses for Sneak Attacks. Well that, and the thing's Perception is so low that it was having trouble detecting Harold.
"I'm a tree with a knife!" - LD
 "A stabbing shrubbery!" - Sins, who had also managed to avoid detection. In his case it was mainly due to Harold flailing wildly at it with axe and sword.
 Sins ends up suggesting that his attempts to bandage it up might do more damage than his archery.  

 Harold finally hits it with his axe, but does only a little damage, however the creature is similarly unable to hit the duellist, with the few strikes which are on target being parried by the Invarrian.
 Kel'Serrar finally manages to set an arrow on fire after at least four attempts. He then misses his shot, blasting a hole into one of the blocks of stone littering the area. Breanna misses again with her knife.
 The group really seems to be feeling Maebh's absence.

"Has anyone managed to hit it yet?" - LD
 "Yep." - Dev
 "I hit in the arm." - Sins
 "... I suck... No, don't nod like that guys!" - LD

 Breanna finally hits. Finally. And utterly fails to do any damage at all.
 Kel'Serrar finally manages to kill it after a very long time. Harold considers hugging Kel'Serrar until the Danann threatens the Invarrian with a thorough stabbing.

 And everyone gets another level.

 We left it there, with Maebh likely to arrive sometime next morning.

The corpsewalker fight was an interesting one. A single bite could well have spelt the end of one of the characters as the corpsewalker virus is easily transmitted. Once affected by the virus, the character quickly starts to rot away, losing all conscious thought and becoming animalistic and horribly violent. Not to mention hungry.

 Luckily, while Harold was almost bitten, he managed to get the blade of his sword between the creature's teeth and his skin.

 Don't read this if you are one of my players, which is unlikely if I think about it, but better safe than sorry.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The Wrap-Up: All in all I think it went rather well for a first session. The group seemed to enjoy it and worked together pretty well. As we expected, the lack of a tank means the group seems to suffer against small numbers of tough opponents, but all four characters seem to be decent at dealing decent amounts of damage, meaning that at least four weaker opponents go down very quickly. Well except for Breanna, but Maebh's flair for Flares tends to make up for that.

I hope you enjoyed the read and if there is any demand I will continue to port the stories across over the next few weeks.
Cheers guys,[/color]
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 26, 2015, 02:38:10 PM
Session 1.2: Into the Darkness

I just filled everyone in on the location, namely that ahead of them is the expanse of tumbled grey stone, discarded, weathered blocks strewn everywhere. The western edge is being encroached upon by the forest, roots and thick leaf-litter obscuring the rock. There is a rectangular doorway in the centre of the external ruins, which leads underground and into the temple complex itself. Inside it is dark, but there is still a little visibility, or at least there will be during the day.
 
The group pays the man Maebh hired to drive the wagon, not needing him anymore as she spent the majority of the trip watching what he did and learning.
She picked up the Drive skill upon levelling up
 The hired driver pockets the twelve sulvers with a smile that makes the group think they've been ripped off.
"Look me up if you're ever back in town and you need my help again." - Driver, with a tip of his hat before walking away.
 
There is much frenzied and somewhat confused discussion about the plan. All I remember is that Ladyhawk only just realised that Dev has a broken nose.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I couldn't tell even with the recording how this came about but I did find Dev's comment here quite amusing.
"I'm a dog-man, I don't have to be illiterate." - Dev, engaged heatedly with Sins.
"Wait a minute, you don't have to be illiterate?" - Me, honestly confused.
 "Yeah, I don't have to be illiterate." - Dev, not realising that this word does not mean what he thinks it means.
 There was much laughter, to the point that Sins nearly went catatonic, becoming "broken," as Ladyhawk put so well.[/color]

"Alright, let's go inside then." - Harold, getting everyone together.
 "Wait, do we want to go inside or do we want to explore the surface first?" - Kel'Serrar
 "Yes, good idea." - Harold.
"Because, if we go in, Maebh will be at the back. And if something sneaks in behind us, they'll hit the mage. And I don't want that." - Kel'Serrar.
 
They split up to search the outside, spreading out from the centre to cover the four cardinal directions. They all find what appear to be large chicken tracks, which seem to be milling around in random directions. In addition to this, Kel'Serrar finds broken pieces of red glazed pottery strewn about the place. They're old, but still somewhat shiny.

It is still early morning by the time they finish their explorations. Maebh casts Create Element, lighting a fire in the palm of her hand with the slight side effect of temporarily blinding herself as she became suddenly overcome by her sheer arcane might, while Harold lights one of the newly purchased torches. They then head underground, Breanna leading the way with dagger held at the ready, Harold following with axe drawn and torch in hand, Kel'Serrar with an arrow nocked and finally Maebh bringing up the rear wielding both flame and spear.

A little discussion here about how they are similar to the Fellowship of the Ring. After all, Harold has his axe, Kel'Serrar his bow and Breanna supposedly was short and had hairy feet. All she needs is a ring.  

Inside it is dark, but as they are carrying light with them, visibility is not a problem. Ahead of the group there is a thick stone door. Next to the door, there are three levers which must be pulled down. Beneath each one, from left to right are three small symbols, a lion in profile facing to the right, a wolf in profile facing to the left and a horse in profile facing to the left.

They also notice that the wall is pockmarked with many fist-sized holes in the wall, which Harold points out are probably ports for spikes.

This was amusing because they, on the whole, didn't really put much thought into the pattern behind the puzzle.
 
"Maebh, pull the middle one." - Harold, trying to back away from the door.
"No way, I'm way back here. You pull it." - Maebh, not falling for that one.
 "Right. Breanna, how about you pull it?" - Harold, still trying to back away from the door.
 "NO!" - Breanna, fully aware that she's the closest and squishiest person in the party.
 "Could it be starsigns?" - Maebh, inspecting the carvings carefully.
 It does relate to the starsigns.  
"No, it probably isn't. Pull the lion one." - Harold, not knowing what to do.
Maebh and Kel'Serrar back off to a point where the holes in the wall cease.
"Oh right, I pull the horse one then." - Breanna, not pulling anything Harold suggests.
 She pulls the horse lever and a loud click is heard from within the door itself as the horse lever locks into the downward position, but that is all.
"Um, the lion next." - Breanna, pulling the lever.
 Another click is heard as the lion lever is locked into position.
"And now the wolf I guess..." - Breanna, pulling the final lever.
And the door opens!
 "Hooray!" - Breanna, letting her excitement getting the better of her.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The door swings open and a foul stench emanates from the room beyond. Despite the party's flames, they cannot see much of anything inside. Maebh casts a Flare into the room. With a cacophony of shrieks, the Flare blasts apart one of the room's denizens. The spell lights up the room, showing a number of Tahlun.

Like a three foot tall cross between a rat-man and a lizardman. Sort of like kobolds. Sort of. They're vermin. I should have artwork of the various creatures whihc most would find unfamiliar fairly soon.  

Well as soon as I can get Lady Darkmoon to do it.

"Forward!" - Harold, brandishing his axe and torch.
 Maebh and Kel'Serrar remain where they are, trying to eliminate as many of the Tahlun as possible before they mob the Invarrian. Breanna however stays back, quietly cursing to herself about why she opened the door.
Maebh's second Flare blasts into the wall, causing the Tahlun to cower against the walls and scream in fear. Kel'Serrar manages to set his arrow on fire but just misses when he shoots. Harold on the other hand runs towards two of the Tahlun which are huddled together against the wall. He gets a critical hit and utterly butchers one of them with his axe.

The other one grabs its rusty knife and attempts to shove it into the dog-man's ribs. Harold avoids the strike. Three more Tahlun attack the Invarrian, two of them hitting him, but both strikes are parried easily by the old duellist, who counters, killing another.

Three Tahlun remain engaged with Harold, while two more huddle in the corner of the room. Maebh attempts to kill those two with another Flare, but she misses, blasting the stone wall yet again. Kel'Serrar shoots and kills one of those two after Maebh's Flare, transfixing it with a flaming arrow. The other one gives a wild scream of pain and anguish before trying to run past the mage and ranger to escape.

Harold has a lot of trouble hitting the little creatures, obviously used to fighting taller opponents. Of the three Tahlun attacking Harold, only one of them hits, but the Invarrian easily parries. The last one, trying to escape, runs straight at Maebh, who braces her spear and leaves it gargling blood upon the stony ground, leaving only the three on Harold.

"Please don't shoot one with a flaming arrow!" - Harold.
 "Ok then, I'll shoot one with a normal arrow." - Kel'Serrar muttering to himself.
 
One of the Tahlun falls with an arrow in the back of its head, killing it instantly, leaving only two. Maebh charges into the fray and between her and Harold they quickly account for the two of them, one of which is more or less decapitated by Harold's torch.

We were left wondering whether this fight consisted of Harold wading in with fire and sword like Strider on Amon Sul, striking down his lesser opponents with great skill, or whether it was really a massive six foot tall dog-man swiping wildly at the child-sized little lizard people shouting, "Go away! Go away!" at the top of his lungs.  

It can be seen after the battle that the Tahlun are malnourished and ill, their skin drawn tight across their bones. At first glance the room appears empty but the group swiftly finds five crudely fashioned trapdoors built into the floor. Harold opens the first one and out springs a little Tahlun pup which launches up into Harold's face. There is small panic before they realise that it has dropped to the ground and is dead. Inside the cavity in the ground, they can see many dead pups which look as if they've starved to death.

"The pups must be pretty hungry." - Harold, thinking of his little marcwolf with its head poking out of his pack.
 
Harold and Breanna feed their pups on some of the little Tahlun pups, the sound of brittle bones snapping in the mouths of the marcwolves punctuating the group's efforts to open the other trapdoors. Three other trapdoors contain more dead Tahlun pups, however one contains a small stash of what the Tahlun considered precious items.

The cavity contains:
 Two shortswords which Harold straps to his back leading to the group making comments regarding how Harold is now a walking armoury.
A pair of leather bracers which Harold also picks up.
An old flimsy quiver with 10 arrows for Kel'Serrar.
 12 coppers which are split evenly between the party, excluding Maebh.
 2 sulvers which Maebh takes, threatening the others with flaming death if they argue.

It took a long time to divide the loot as it really did seem as if no one wanted to take the swords.  

Maebh makes a harrowing discovery, finding that a fair few of the dead Tahlun pups seem to have been at least partially eaten already, indicating that the adults had practiced cannibalism to some extent in their starved states.

There is a doorway straight ahead which is to be pushed open, which Harold shoves open with small difficulty. Ahead of the group is a large hallway. Over two hundred paces straight ahead, there can be seen a massive stone gateway. To the right there are two smaller stone doors and to the left there is another. The left door has already been opened. They notice that this doorway has been completely blasted open by magical fire, as evidenced by the black charring around the doorway itself.

The hallway is quite bare, likely having been plundered in the past. The walls however are covered in intricate carvings, many of which appear to be the written form of some unknown language, however a few of the friezes are of a pictorial nature. Maebh and Harold inspect the walls and find that, along with the written inscriptions, the pictures tell a story.

"On this side, the wall shows the rise of these people." - Dev, while inspecting the friezes on the left side of the hallway.
The left wall shows what seems to be the rise of a civilisation as the people, who resemble human children in appearance, began to develop metallurgy and magic along with other technologies. Over time, their structures begin to grow greater and greater, reaching to the sky, towering over all else that had come before.

"Right, well this is their fall. It looks like they switched their type of magic from either Spirit or Arcane magic to Black magic." - Maebh, inspecting the other side.
The right wall shows what happened to these people over time, as they were overcome with a lust for power. Many slipped from practicing the safe magics of spirits and the earth, and into the arts of black magic. Inexperienced summoners began to wreak havoc upon their homeland as the daemons which they tried to bind broke loose. The last frieze shows a barren wasteland.
"So this is a cautionary tale against the use of Black magic." - Harold.
 
The group's debate is interrupted by what sounds like sobbing from within the blown up room on their left. They stride forwards with weapons ready, Harold at the fore. The room appears to have been set aflame, the stone literally melting and running down the walls. At the end of the room there is, what appears to be, a tunnel, crudely hewn out of the rocky walls. The tracks lead into this tunnel. It also seems as if it is the cause of the sobbing. Harold notices the tunnel appears to have been slowly scratched out by bare hands, as evidenced by the caked blood dried around the mouth. What’s more, the tunnel seems to be more of a short cave, the end of it only five feet back from the wall.
 
At this point a man comes lurching out from the cave towards Harold, growling and gargling, hands outstretched with fingertips worn down to bone claws. He is quick, but ungainly, gnashing his teeth and assaulting furiously. He wears no armour and few clothes, but seems beyond physical pain, his skin badly charred and burnt, almost rotting on his body.

The Corpsewalker misses with all of its attacks before Breanna attempts to attack it with her new shiny dagger, but fails to do much in the way of damage. Maebh throws a Flare at the creature and sets it on fire, blasting it with a ball of fire. Kel'Serrar's arrow flies across the chamber and strikes the opposite wall. Harold manages to cause a fair bit of damage with his axe, striking its left arm off at the elbow.

Breanna fails to hit it after it flails at Harold wildly, and Maebh blasts another chunk out of it with yet another Flare. Kel'Serrar misses again, before Harold is forced to Parry. He does so, but fails. Luckily his mail shirt is up to the task of negating the damage.
In an attempt to blow it up, Maebh loses control of her magic and finds herself temporarily blinded.
In the end Harold finishes it off with two powerful strikes from both axe and torch, the latter of which sends the Corpsewalker’s crushed head flying off its shoulders. It falls to the ground, dead at last.

Aside from the Corpsewalker afflicted, the room is empty aside from the remains of many creatures, including some humanoids, which appear to have been torn apart and gnawed clean.
After a short discussion about splitting the party, they decide its bad idea.
“If we split up the party, it would be a bad idea, cause we’d be splitting up the party.” – Harold, taken out of context for massive laughs.
 
They decide to go with the door on the right, furthest from the passageway they entered from earlier. The heavy stone door appears to require pushing open. Harold and Maebh attempt to push the door open, both straining against the hard rock. After minutes of pushing, the stone door slowly swings open. The hallway beyond is exceptionally long, with almost one hundred doorways on either side of the hallway. Each doorway leads into a small room, each with a desk made of stone and a large slab of stone in the corner, likely beds. The rooms seem to be little living areas.

The party spends several hours searching the rooms, but come up mainly empty-handed, finding many ancient books written in an unknown language and a small silver chain, set with a grey stone pendant and set with a single blue sapphire.

Maebh’s issues with blindness pass somewhere in here.
 
Maebh recognises the pendant as a Focus Stone, which will help her attune to her magic more easily.

An extended break where we laugh at Dev’s awful accents until Lady Darkmoon reminds us that we are still recording. Dev, I will put it up on Youtube for the world to laugh at. Live in fear.
 
Now, early in the afternoon, the group sits down in the main hall and has lunch. Harold lights a fire using the smashed up lids of two trapdoors from the Tahlun nest.

After lunch, they approach the last doorway. Maebh decides to try and blast it open with her magic. Her attempt does not blast them open, but she does knock a hole in them. Inside, they hear a yell of surprise.

“Now would be a good time to display your charming nature.” – Kel’Serrar to Harold.
 
“You want him to punch the door?” – I can’t resist.
 
“Who’s in there?” – Harold, yelling inquisitively if it can be imagined.
 “We’re a party from Summer Hill! I take it you aren’t Corpsewalkers?”- The reply from inside.
“No. We’ve been sent from Summer Hill to find you.” – Harold.
 The occupants of the room hurry to unbar the door and-
“DIE!!!!” – Dev eliciting much laughter.
 

The band inside is made up of three Midlanders, a Feartarbh and a Roanfaille, all of which are armed and at least lightly armoured. The party immediately notice that this sort of equipment is not the kind which one would usually find in the possession of townsmen.
 
Harold can tell just by the way in which one of the Midlanders is standing that the man is a duellist of some skill. Then he realises as the man steps forward with his hand upon his sword, he knows him.
“Harold Oakenshield, we meet again.” – Barnan MacSilver.
 He immediately draws his sword.
“This is the last time we shall meet in this life Oakenshield. I owed you a debt last we met, but no more. Draw your sword and test it against mine.” – Barnan MacSilver.
 “Can we not wait until we get back to Summer Hill and then sort this all out?” – Harold, remembering he lost the last duel.
“No. This is the last time we meet, Oakenshield.” – Barnan.
 
Harold looks around the room, taking in the other band.
“Is it alright with you lot if we engage in an honour duel right here?” – Harold.
 The general consensus is a “Yeah, alright. If you have to.”
 
“If you both stay together, this can still be the last time you meet....” – Kel’Serrar, trying to find a loophole.
 
Silence.....
 
“As long as you’re both together, you still haven’t ‘technically’ ended this meeting...” – Kel’Serrar.
 The Northern duellist is not exactly the cleverest of fellows. His expression darkens. He studies Kel’Serrar with a look of confusion before finally,
“Shut up! We fight today.” – Barnan.
 “But-“ – Kel’Serrar.
 “SHUT UP!” – Barnan.
 
Quite a bit of laughter, probably at my horrendous Scottish accent. I usually try to give the characters different voices but I get a bit nervous with the whole group around. I’d do it if it weren’t for Lady Darkmoon. She has a vicious tongue.  

Harold takes up his sword and axe.
Barnan in turn is armed with an arming sword and targe and clad in a leather jerkin and rough-spun woollen garments. He draws his sword, readies his small spiky shield and prepares for Harold’s onslaught.
Both parties stand back to allow the two duellists some room.

Barnan is a character of Dev's creation, mentioned in Harold's backstory as a primary antagonist. Harold spared the man's life after they fought the first time, prompting Barnan to do so in turn as a matter of honour upon winning the second duel. He swore then that the next time they faced each other would be the last.

Somehow, their paths have crossed once more.

I made this character very close to Harold in ability and gave him a nasty weapon combination to deal with to make this quite tough. The plan was to have Barnan replace Harold as Dev's character if he won, but I hoped that would not have to happen.  

Both of them are equal for three Initiative rolls in a row, taking a fair bit of time to eventually figure out. Harold finally wins out after some circling.
Using his new Duellist skills after levelling up at the end of the last session, Harold finds himself at a slight advantage.

There’s some discussion as to whether or not the others should help Harold. He doesn’t want any due to it being dishonourable to accept help in single combat. The others are happy to “accidentally” blow both of the combatants up. But they are dissuaded from doing so.
Eventually.

Harold opens up with a tearing cut from his axe across the Northman’s chest, which rips through the leather jerkin and into the flesh. Barnan strikes wildly back with his sword, missing but he follows up with his targe, forcing Harold back a few steps but the Invarrian dodges aside from the spike.

The two exchange blows for several minutes, each having difficulty breaking through the other’s defences. Barnan eventually does so, thrusting his sword into the Invarrian twice. After a few more minutes of frantic fighting, Barnan overpowers Harold, causing him to drop his axe. Bleeding from his stab wounds and taking in ragged breaths, Harold jumps back, holding his sword downwards in the signal for respite.

“I need a break.” – Harold, gasping for breath.
 “How long do you need?” – Barnan, angry and also breathing heavily.
 “Until we stop bleeding.” – Harold, positive towards his friends’ healing abilities, despite all prior experience.
 “That’s a substantial break you’re asking for...” – Barnan, hesitant to agree.
“I’d prefer this duel to be decided by one masterstroke as it were, rather than one of us bleeding out.” – Harold, grimly defiant.
 
I raise the point that bleeding out is sort of the definition of a duel. Everyone bleeds out. It's just blood. Everywhere. Very messy. I have seen this. I have done this. You do not want this.  

Kel’Serrar immediately takes his bandages to Harold’s stab wounds, trying to staunch the bleeding. No matter what sort of bandaging is going on, internal injuries are going to need more than just bandages. Even ones made of poison sumac. The hasty first aid helps Harold out, a little at any rate.

Both combatants having been touched up, Harold and Barnan leap back into the fray, Harold with his two newly acquired shortswords and Barnan with his sword and targe. They circle each other once more before Barnan tries to ram the Invarrian with his shield once more, the dog-man once again side-stepping easily. Harold’s return attack clips the man’s arm, drawing blood but not causing any lasting damage. In return the Northman’s sword cleaves through bandages, chain hauberk and flesh, gashing Harold from shoulder to hip, driving him to his knees. With a roar of pain, the Invarrian drives one of his blades through the Northman’s torso, bearing him to the ground before falling on his side beside him, bleeding profusely. Harold, with the last of his strength crawls over to the fallen Barnan.

“You played a great game my friend. Rest in peace.” – Harold, before closing the dead man’s eyes.

Jokes about how a dying man would be pretty pissed off about having his eyes closed before he dies. “I’m feeling much better!” “It’s just a flesh wound.”
We’re all Monty Python fanatics.
 
Harold collapses as Barnan breaths his last.

Kel’Serrar prepares to bandage him by dragging the Invarrian off the dead Northman. The other group work towards closing the door up again.

Two groups of murder-hobos locked in a small underground room. This should end well....

The first man they notice is taciturn, tall and seems to be quite strong. He has short black hair of a ragged cut, a short trimmed beard and dark green eyes. He also has a scar which runs from the corner of his left eye to the edge of his jaw and his nose seems badly broken. Bound around his upper right arm is a bloodstained bandage. At his belt hangs a longsword and a bow is slung over his shoulder.
 
The next is a clean-shaven Midlander, and the leader of the party. His accent betrays a southern heritage, as does his tanned skin. Of middling height, he has long brown hair which is tied back and piercing blue eyes. His nose is prominent, but he seems to be a cheerful and friendly sort of fellow. Clad in grey, he bears a sword and dagger, and despite some rips and tears in his clothing, seems to be unharmed.

They next notice a heavy-set Roanfaille, easily picked as such by his dark skin and prominent red-ink tattoos. Tall, he has long brown hair which is thickly braided and dark eyes. His demeanour screams mercenary, as does his equipment, which is baroque and extravagant. His cheek bears the sigil of a red stallion rampant, which is the mark of one of the clans of the Norbayne Roanfaille. His plate harness is bloodstained, as is the bandage wrapped around his forehead, but he seems to be in little pain.

Lastly, they focus on the massively built Feartarbh. By his shaggy brown coat, it is likely he is from the northern Midlands, so it is possible he comes from around Summer Hill. Built with slabs of muscle on an exceptionally sturdy frame, he bears two massive horns upon his head. These horns coupled with his height necessitate him stooping when inside the ruins to avoid getting entangled or at the very least, making rasping noises as the horns scrape along the bare rock. Despite his size, he seems to be quite gentle, likely at least until his friends are threatened, in which case he would likely put both his horns and his maul to good use.

The other group, who are far more physically impressive. And they seem to be far less stingy with their employer's money.

After some time, Harold manages to fight his way through the haze of pain and finds himself leaning up against a smooth stone wall.
“Who leads you?” – Harold, gasping in pain.
The man in grey steps forward and gives the dog-man and his companions a beaming smile.
“I am Mordra Goldshine, leader of this group. That was brilliantly fought sir.” – Mordra, winking at the grizzled Invarrian.
 “Oh, it’s one of those.” – Maebh, in a far too conspicuous whisper.
 “Thank you. Now tell me, what’s happening here?” – Harold, wincing in pain.
 
Mordra informs them that they were sent out to look for a special stone, as Summer Hill is in danger of being taken over by the neighbouring kingdom of Elspeth. So, Petyr Rangard sent them out to look for it. Since then, Corpsewalkers have just spontaneously appeared in the area, flooding the countryside, so the group shut themselves in the room, unable to escape.

“But enough of such matters, what of your own story?” – Mordra.
 
“We set out from Summer Hill in the morning and came across a ruined carriage on the road which had been set upon by at least one marcwolf. We tracked the beast back to its cave, and killed both of the adults, leaving us with the two pups. During the night we were attacked by bandits, but we fought them off. We found this note on one of their bodies.” – Harold, passing the man the note given to Maebh by the bandit leader.
 “I do not recognise the hand, nor the name, but it would probably be to the good to follow it up.” – Mordra, handing the note back.
“The next morning we woke up to the realisation that we didn’t have enough supplies-” – Harold, continuing.
 
“Shouldn’t that be any supplies?”
 “I’m trying to word this positively!” – Dev
 “That was the optimistic version of events?”
 
Harold proceeds to inform the Midlander of the ensuing events. When informed of Maebh’s discovery in the living quarters, Harold’s keen eyes notice that Mordra’s fists slightly clench, his eyes widen and his jaw clenches, almost imperceptibly.
An impeccable pass of a Perception Check on Harold’s part there.  
“And then of course, we couldn’t get through a door and we had to blast our way through.” – Harold.
 The two share a laugh, if somewhat pained on Harold’s part.

“Kel’Serrar, I want you to keep an eye on him. But don’t shoot him, not yet anyway.” – Harold, to Kel’Serrar on the side after both leaders have gone to their respective parties.
 
At this point we get helplessly sidetracked for at least five minutes as a long-standing point of contention is brought up yet again. Lady Darkmoon and I have quite strong South Australian accents, which in my own voice sounds quite whiny and annoying, or sexy, deep and masculine, depending upon whom you bring it up with. This is in stark contrast to the others, who are all Queenslanders.

As such, LD and I both say the word, ‘chance,’ like ‘charnce,’ while the others use what I have termed the American pronunciation. It’s mainly Ladyhawk and I who end up discussing how strange we find each other’s accent, but this time we dragged the others into it, Dev in particular who is a master at the art of the cop-out.

They say ‘mandareen,’ we say ‘mandarin.’ Sins informed us that was a language. Dev said something which sounded like mandrill. I informed him that was a baboon. We have fun. But we all secretly despise each other.
We did attempt to get back to it, mainly through Dev’s efforts, but this was in vain as he mispronounced Ladyhawk’s character’s name (Ray-ve instead of May-ve) and then tried to claim that pronunciation was not important anyway. Yes, Gyeorg. (Bonus points if you can actually guess what his real name is from that phonetic iteration of my mangled pronunciation.)
 
Back to the action.
 
 “Oh and Maebh, you might want to hide that necklace. Oh and don’t stab them yet either Breanna, we might need them.” – Harold, whispering to Maebh and Breanna.
 “Don’t worry, I’ll probably miss anyway.” – Breanna, muttering to herself.
 
Harold also gives Mordra the letter Rangard gave him. Mordra breaks the seal and reads the letter in a small shard of mirror he fishes out of his backpack. Whatever he reads, he musn’t like it as he crumples it up and turns back to his own group.
“My thanks.” – Mordra, walking back to his own people on the other side of the room.
 There is furious whispering and many furtive glances being thrown back at Harold and his companions.

After some conversation, Harold decides to catch some sleep, thinking that the more rest he gets, the quicker he will heal. The rest just lounge around, using the time to recover from an eventful past few days.

While Kel’Serrar sits against one of the walls, the other party’s ranger takes him aside.

"I have somewhat of importance to tell you." – Eradan Blackstar, furtively to Kel’Serrar.
 
"Just a few days ago, as you know, we were almost overrun by Corpsewalkers. They just came out of nowhere. One day the land was quiet, peaceful. The next we were surrounded by scores of them. We cut down a fair number, but eventually we were forced back and barricaded ourselves in here, slowly running out of supplies as they hammered at our door."
 He gives a racking sob which quickly turns into a harsh, thick cough.
 "I confess to you that I went down amongst them in the final moments of that battle. I've been bitten. I can feel it welling up within me. I have not long left to live as myself. I would end it myself, but there is something worrying I must share with you. The Southron over there, he was also bitten. I saw it with my own eyes, yet somehow I doubt he has the conviction to end himself." - Eradan Blackstar with a grim smile
 
"It is far too great a risk to allow us all to live, for you will not know until it is too late that one of them has deceived you. I will help you put them all to the sword. And then you must kill me. It is the only way." - Eradan, deadly serious
 
“This is too important for me to make the decision right now. Let me inform the others.” – Kel’Serrar.

The others discuss the situation, trying to discern whether or not Eradan is telling the truth. While discussing it, they decide to observe their erstwhile companions and see what sort of armaments they're packing. The Feartarbh is carrying a big two handed maul and wearing rough leathers. Judging by the feathers and charms hanging off him, he's probably a shaman. The Roanfaille bears a scimitar and a tall, unadorned tower shield. He is clad in a chain hauberk and bloodstained plate. In his turn, Goldshine carries a sword and dagger and wears a chain hauberk.

They discuss their chances taking on the other party head on.
"We can't win, can we?" - Maebh, shaking her head.
"I agree with your assessment regarding our chances of success." - Harold, blinking sleep out of his eyes.
"They're too well armed." - Maebh.
"Yes." - Harold, nodding. "We need more information. Kel'Serrar, you are skilled at healing. They are injured. I think you should offer your services. And then you get to see their wounds."
 
There's a reason he was elected as leader.
 
They decide that as a contingency they should run outside. They consider Kel'Serrar conducting his 'check-ups' out in the corridor where its more easily defended, or perhaps outside on the horse-drawn wagon so they can outrun them if there's any hostility. Not that the poor horse could outrun anything in a serious chase while loaded down with four people and their supplies.

They discuss how long they should stay in the ruins as their supplies are running low. They then discuss how long they have before they will need to kill the others. They find out from Blackstar, who might not be a completely reliable source of information on this matter, that they have maybe two days more before the other party starts succumbing to the virus.

Breanna suggests having one of the players offer to take sentry duty for the night and then go kill all of the other group while they sleep, something which makes perfect sense for the assassin, however the others are a bit hesitant, not wanting to kill any innocents.

Maebh then suggests to Kel'Serrar that he should check out Blackstar's wound so the ranger has a good idea what to look for when he checks over the other party.

After a bit more discussion, Kel'Serrar heads over to the other party who are keeping to themselves over in a corner.
"I see some of you bear injuries. I have some skill at healing. Perhaps I may be of assistance?" - Kel'Serrar, guileless as possible.
 The other party looks at him warily, but they can't refuse free treatment. Mordra Goldshine eventually nods.
"Our thanks I guess. Where do you want to do this, friend?" - Goldshine.
"Well, we've set up camp here and leaving might be dangerous. Might as well do it here." - Kel'Serrar.

He gets to work. The Roanfaille refuses to let Kel'Serrar take off his hauberk, so the ranger is unable to inspect his torso and upper arms, however there are plenty of exposed scratches, including a cut on the man's head which looks to be becoming infected, which Kel'Serrar cleans and bandages.

The massive Feartarbh on the other hand is happy to let the Danann at his wounds, and has at least three bites on his body. In addition to this he is covered in scratches and other injuries.

Mordra comes over and seems fine at first, but his bravado dies down once he gets close to the ranger and is forced to remove his armour, revealing a massive bite mark on his shoulder.

While this is happening Harold tries to find a staff to lean on, eventually deciding on Maebh's spear, which she grudgingly hands over.

After the check-ups, Harold then takes Mordra outside the room to the massive stone doorway at the end of the main hall, hoping to have a private word.
"Do you have any idea how to open this? - Harold, leaning heavily on Maebh's spear. His exertions from the duel earlier have taken a lot out of him.

The rest he managed to gather and Kel'Serrar's ministrations have helped considerably, but he's still getting around on very little health. Breanna's has improved somewhat over time, as has Kel'Serrar's, but that being said, neither of them had that much to begin with. Maebh on the other hand, is still running around with minimal burns from her two magical backlashes.  

"Actually, I have the key." - Mordra, pulling said key out a pocket.
The key is a small, shield shaped block of stone with an unidentified gem set into it.
"Sparkly?" - Lady Darkmoon
 "Pretty?" - Ladyhawk, practically simultaneously.
 "Can you open it then?" - Harold.
 "No, I don't know what's in there. We've heard some unnatural noises." - Mordra, shaking his head and putting the key back in his pocket.
"Well then, I think I'll go back to Summer Hill with my companions and come back with more men so we can take on whatever is in there. In the meantime, I think you should barricade yourselves again in the room we're staying in at the moment." - Harold.
 "Well now you're with us, we should go back with you! We were only in there because we couldn't risk trying to break through the horde. But they've all disappeared, and now you're all here. We might as well all get out together." - Mordra.
 "Uh-oh." - Lady Darkmoon.
 Harold thinks for a bit, furiously trying to come up with a way to stall for time.

I can barely hear what Dev says here because he mumbles something awful, but it sounded like, "Before we leave, we need more information."
"Before we leave, we need more information. My compatriots will take this corridor, and you can take the room. We'll barricade ourselves in and you do the same." - Harold, indicating the abandoned living quarters for his own group.
Mordra agrees to this plan, nodding, and then strides back into the room, leaving Harold to hobble as best he can.

Upon making it back to the room, Harold discusses the plan with his companions, having them relocate to the living quarters. They decide quickly that there is no one in Summer Hill which would be able to help them. They then consider using the levers at the doorway at the beginning to lay a trap, however they soon realise that this is just not possible.
Lady Darkmoon suggests using poison sumac to kill them, slowly choking them to death with their own bandages. The idea is quickly shot down as poison sumac is not available.
"So why not use normal sumac?" - Ladyhawk, with a laugh.
 
They eventually decide that procrastinating is not getting them anywhere. It is mid-afternoon, when Harold hobbles back to the doorway of the room and asks Mordra to come out, who refuses. Harold demands the key, but the Midlander lays his hand on his sword and tells the Invarrian to take it from him.

Harold walks outside, requesting his group comes outside to the wagon with him. All of them are now outside. Breanna and Harold deposit their marcwolf pups in the wagon, giving them a quick pat on the head and a small piece of dried meat to keep them satisfied.

Maebh considers blasting apart the doorway with her magic in order to cause the whole thing to come crashing down.
 
"There are footsteps coming from the tunnel behind us." - Maebh, hearing footsteps.

Harold immediately directs everyone into positions. Kel'Serrar stands above the doorway with an arrow nocked to his bow and Breanna and Maebh stand on either side of the door. Harold himself stands, leaning on Maebh's spear, in front of the wagon, the only person in view of whoever comes out of the tunnel.

A running Eradan Blackstar comes racing out of the tunnel, a slight limp barely noticeable in his gait.
"You aren't leaving are you?" - Eradan, gasping with pain.
"No." - Harold.
 "Ah good. I was worried. I can't kill them all by myself." - Eradan.
"Could you possibly tell me the story again please, for my benefit?" - Harold.

So the ranger, bewildered, relates the story once more, detailing his own injuries and the Roanfaille's wound too. He explains that he hasn't killed himself yet, because he can't countenance leaving these lands in such danger, knowing that the others would not have the dignity to kill themselves.

To Harold's eyes, the man is severely stressed, which could be because he is lying, however the story does match up with what Kel'Serrar told him earlier.

"Alright then, Eradan, new plan. Run back in there and tell them I have changed my mind and we are leaving. And then get back out here." - Harold.
"Ok then, I'll be the first one out. I'll make sure." - Eradan, nervous.
He heads back inside.

Maebh readies two Flares, one in either hand. Breanna stands ready with her dagger and Kel'Serrar sets fire to his arrow, holding it ready. Harold meanwhile simply braces his borrowed spear.
They hear running footsteps from the tunnel and Harold can see Eradan running out, looking rather terrified. From inside comes a wild roar and out rushes...
 The Roanfaille. Chasing the Midlander ranger with his sword and shield in hand.

Some discussion about whether or not it is acceptable to call him black. This is the man they are considering blowing apart with fireballs. I personally don't think the fictional character cares whether or not they insult him.  

Maebh lets loose with both Flares, one singeing him and the other blasting into his abdomen, putting a great dent into his armour and leaving him smoking and writhing in pain on the ground.

Breanna finally gets to put her backstabbing skills to good use, almost sawing off his head while trying to slit his throat.
"Yay, I'm so happy!" - Lady Darkmoon.
 
Then out comes the Feartarbh....
 "****...." - Practically everyone, more or less simultaneously.  

Manius Longhorn comes out of the tunnel and sees the partially decapitated corpse of his friend lying on the ground, with the dagger-wielding Leathe assassin next to him. He hefts his maul, but not before Kel'Serrar looses his arrow.
He misses something awful.
"Can I throw her spear?" - Harold.
 "If you break my spear, I'll kill you!" - Maebh, furious.
 Harold hurls Maebh's spear at the Feartarbh, sending the heavy blade ripping through the shaman's chest. He's not dead. He roars in pain and turns his attention from Breanna towards Harold instead. On the other hand, to do so involves going through the Leathe.

She manages to tuck and roll out of the way. Just.

But now he's really angry and is running towards Harold.
"Oh thank the gods." - Breanna, very thankful.
The shaman tries to use his magic to call down a heatwave in the immediate area, but fails to do so.
Maebh tries to hit him with a Flare, but her magic causes some problems again, burning her slightly, but still hitting the Feartarbh with the ball of flame. It doesn't distract him from his target.

Harold stands his ground before the raging eight foot tall Feartarbh, thinking to grasp the spear in its chest and twist it out of his body.

And then we had to call it quits cause Sins had to go.
So we left it there.
 
The Wrap-Up:
 
What a bloody cliffhanger. :D

We played the next session the night after I finished writing this out the first time and had a lot of fun.

Anyway, cheers everyone, hope you all enjoyed 1.2.  
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: comrade_general on March 26, 2015, 03:32:38 PM
:o
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 31, 2015, 02:55:58 PM
Is that a good thing mate? :P
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: comrade_general on March 31, 2015, 03:10:27 PM
Aye it is. :)
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Clockwork on March 31, 2015, 03:31:47 PM
I've already read it over on the other forum but as you know I think it's awesome :D
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on April 19, 2015, 06:32:37 PM
Session 1.3: Exploration in the Black Pit

Welcome back everyone, :D

This session was delayed for almost an hour while we waited for Dev to show up. And once we started Dev tried to jump on BloodBowl for a game and the two girls wouldn't get off their iPods. It all got better eventually and we got into it.

Dev changed his mind regarding what he was going to do with his action. He considers throwing his axe at the Feartarbh, but thinks better of it, deciding throwing Breanna at it might be a better idea. He quickly finds out that she is not close at hand.

As an aside, this might be the first time I have ever been forced to say that the minotaur is between you and the possum you want to throw at it.  

Harold takes up his axe and sword and stands ready before it.

He did think about charging it, prompting me to say, "I thought grabbing the spear out of it was stupid."
 "Why not though? He is barking mad." - Sins
 
Kel'Serrar tries to shoot it but misses from his vantage point on top of the doorway.

Breanna meanwhile just stands where she rolled aside to, despite Harold's frantic requests for help.

Turning around, Eradan Blackstar draws his sword and stands beside Harold, ready to take the shaman's charge.

The Feartarbh crashes into Harold and his new-found friend. Despite a negative to his Agility, Harold manages to sidestep, but Blackstar is not so lucky, taking the Feartarbh's massive horns in the stomach and is thrown to the ground, choking on blood. Longhorn then tries to hit Harold with his maul, but Harold is slightly too quick for the huge weapon.

Maebh blasts two flaming craters into the Feartarbh's back, finally bringing him down.

You need to remember that he already took a fair bit of damage from her earlier attack and Harold's spearthrow.

Thanks to her Talents, Maebh's Destruction spells are now significantly buffed. Flares are now doing D10+ about 5 Damage for Maebh, not including the burning Damage the fire spells inflict.  

Maebh strides over to the dead Feartarbh, ignoring Harold's frantic shouts to stay in position. She compromises by going over there anyway and grabbing her spear, but then starting to walk back to her spot.
 
Failed Perception Checks all round.  

An arm tightens in a vice-like grip around Breanna's neck and a swordblade held to her throat.

"Now you're all going to let me go, or we'll all see what colour her blood is." - Mordra, using the Leathe as a shield.
"We've already seen it!" - Maebh, stalling for time as she sees that, critically, Goldshine has not noticed Kel'Serrar standing above him.
"Ok, you want to cut her throat. Why should we care?" - Harold.
 "Hey!" - Breanna, indignant.
 "I'm role-playing!" - Dev.
 "So am I!" - Lady Darkmoon.
 "Do you realise you're going to be a mindless walking corpse in a few days!?" - Harold.
 "No I won't be!" - Mordra, in denial.
 "You're in denial!" - Maebh, still stalling.
 
There is some discussion here where Ladyhawk gets slightly confused regarding in-game and out-of-game relationships and Dev suggests that he, as Harold, doesn't really care about whether or not Breanna carks it.

In the interest of fostering inter-party spirit I point out that they have known each other for about a week now and have fought together.
"Well, he fought and I watched." - LD
 "Not helping!"
 
Harold tries to subtly hobble over with his sabre drawn.
"No further! I want to get out of here alive. Stand aside!" - Goldshine, frantic.
 
An opportunity here for Breanna to finally use her magic. We finally get to see the power of Black Magic.  

Arm against her throat, Mordra doesn't realise Breanna going slightly limp as she focusses on calling up the daemon within her, nor the subsequent tensing as she starts to squeeze the power out of the daemon she has trapped.

A successful Calling Check to trap a Level 1 daemon, garnering her 6 Power Dice she has available to use until she releases the daemon back into the Otherworld. She uses three of these to power her spell. This was far more than she needed, but she wanted to be sure of getting the required casting value.  

A thunderous catamount wailing erupts from the tunnel behind Goldshine.
 
Lady Darkmoon cast Phantom Noise, asking specifically for the "roar" of a mountain lion.  

The wailing shrieking meow startles Goldshine, prompting him to weaken his grip around Breanna's throat. She bites his hand and he lets go of her, letting her fall to the ground. Seeing that Breanna is on the ground at her assailant's feet, Maebh refrains from casting a Flare at him as Harold, standing in front of the wagon and draught horse, considers his options.

"Can I cut the horse and smack it on the arse so it charges forward?" - Dev figuring out what he can do.
 "Excuse me, that's my horse." - Ladyhawk enraged.
"Smack it on the butt with the flat of my blade..." - Dev, not following her point of contention.
 "After you cut it..." - Me, pointing out the obvious.
 "Oh I meant whatever's tying it to the cart." - Dev.
 "But then you wouldn't be able to tie it back up."
 "Fine, untie it then." - Dev.
 "If the horse dies, you're pulling the cart." - Ladyhawk.
Harold manages to free the horse from the yoke of the wagon.

Successful Dexterity Check to do it in time.

"11, I mean 12, I mean 21... 17." - Dev getting thoroughly confused reading out the result of the D100 roll. We all laughed, even Dev.
"I'm just shouting out random numbers by this stage!" - Dev, mocking himself.
 
The horse stands there and looks at him, as if to say, "Thank you."
 "Can I slap it on the arse now?" - Dev.
 Harold smacks the horse's rump with the flat of his blade and sends the draught horse bolting in a straight line towards the doorway. However it is not by any stretch a trained warhorse, so it shies away from the armed man and stands next to the doorway, skittish and wary of both Harold and the dark doorway.

Mordra attempts to attack the prone Leathe who manages to roll away from his wild sword strokes. Kel'Serrar then sends an arrow into the top of the Midlander's head, burying it to the fletching through his skull and into his neck. Goldshine falls to the ground, very dead.

Upon the Midlander's death, Maebh goes to comfort the horse and hitch it back up to the wagon.

And everyone goes up a level! And there was much rejoicing....
 
The other party is now all dead. The only one which is not completely dead is Eradan Blackstar who is lying in great agony upon the ground not far from where Harold is standing. Harold goes over to the wounded man and kneels beside him.

"Is there any way you particularly want to die?" - Harold, steeling himself for what must be done.
 *Incomprehensible choking noises of pain* - Blackstar, who has, let's face it, been momentarily impaled by about three feet of Feartarbh horn.
 "Alrighty then." - Ladyhawk, mock cheerful.
 
Then follows, in hindsight, what might be the strangest conversation I have ever been part of. Dev puts forward that he should stab him in the chest, something Ladyhawk contests, believing his head should be struck off to make it quick.

Instead of the usual points of contention, namely the desecration of the corpse that course of action entails, Dev counters with the fact that decapitation is not a "big thing" in most cultures, whatever that means. Sins and I then point out that decapitation was in fact, a very common form of execution throughout the ages of our world. This goes on for many minutes, before Dev relents.
 
Harold takes up his sword and partially decapitates the mortally wounded ranger, leaving the head attached by a scrap of skin as a mark of respect.

In reality a Japanese tradition if my memory serves me correctly, however in Norbayne it seems like a Danann notion.  

While he does this, Breanna releases the daemon she has harnessed within her.

It is late in the afternoon and the party then sets about to the main business of the day: Looting the dead.
 

Harold goes through Mordra's belongings and finds the letter from Petyr Rangard, reading it in the man's mirror.
I know what you planned to do. The deal is off.

"Hey, friends come listen to this." - Harold. He then reads the letter.
"What?" - Breanna.
"That's it." - Harold.
"You're joking. We don't get our money?" - Maebh, despondent.
 "No, no. They don't get their money." - Harold.
 "Oh good." - Maebh, satisfied. She then turns to Mordra's corpse. "Ha ha, we get yours too."
 "Well we've done our job. Our job was to contact them." - Harold, summing everything up.
"So now we just have to find the guy who owes us money, I suppose?"- Maebh.
 "Admit it, you're curious. You want to find out what's behind that big door don't you?" - Kel'Serrar.
"I do!" - Harold. "Okay then, people, let's do this."
 "Well we've got the key now. It's currently in the hands of our assassin." - Kel'Serrar, indicating that the shield-shaped stone was pilfered by the light-fingered Breanna after Goldshine's unfortunate run-in with Kel'Serrar's arrow.
 "So all we need to do is convince her to unlock the door."- Kel'Serrar.
 
Harold pulls forth a torch from his pack.
 "Let's do this." - Harold. He then holds his torch out to Maebh expectantly, who lights it with a conjured flame from her hand.
He takes a few steps and realises that he needs some extra support. So he finds Longhorn's maul in the tray of the wagon and hacks off the head, fashioning a long oaken walking staff for himself.

"You can even rename yourself Harold Oakenstaff!"
 Silence...
 "Don't."
 
They head inside. Both Kel'Serrar and Maebh halt at the doorway to the Main Hallway, both of them preparing actions. Kel'Serrar has an arrow nocked while Maebh has her Wall of Blades spell readied. Harold and Breanna move forwards until, at the centre of the room Harold stops. With a small hesitation, Breanna creeps toward the indent in the wall where the key needs to be placed.
There is a lot of fear that there's a hell of a lot of Corpsewalkers inside the doorway. So the plan is for Breanna to open the door and then scamper back with Harold behind Maebh who will bring up her Wall of Blades to hinder whatever is chasing them.

In Dev's words, discretion will be the better part of valour.

Ladyhawk raises a good point when Breanna reaches the centre of the room. How is the little Leathe going to open the massive stone doors? They discuss it for a bit before deciding that their best bet is to just place the key into position and see what happens.  

Breanna places the shield-shaped key into the indent and gives the gem set into the key a slight press. The doors slowly but surely grind open.

She bolts for it, back to the relative safety of the two Danann.

The massive doorway reveals a huge black expanse before Harold, who walks towards it. Once upon the threshold, the flames of his torch reveal an elevated stone platform almost one hundred yards from the floor with two huge staircases leading down on either side. Almost two hundred yards from the base of the stairs is what appears to be a congregation of people bearing torches. It is unlikely they are Corpsewalkers as they are bearing torches, but Harold can't tell from where he is standing.

"Come over here." - Harold, beckoning the others over to the doorway. Maebh and Kel'Serrar stride over, Breanna a little more hesitantly.

The others suggest that Breanna go in under the cover of Shadowskin and scout out the chamber. With much grumbling, she attempts to call up another daemon and succeeds. She feels the same daemon as before start to well up within her, but it manages to slip free before she can properly get ahold of it. Using the power it granted her, she tries to cast but fails.

"Well you are an assassin. How about you just sneak in and stay out of the light?" - Harold.
 
"You remember what happened last time she tried that?" - Kel'Serrar. I'm not actually sure what he's referring to here but it was still funny.  
"Oh yeah..." - Harold, turning to Breanna, "Go for it."
 
Shrugging, she tries to call up a daemon once more. This time she goes for a more powerful individual, but she loses control for a split second. A ghastly face made of orange light materialises in the air before her and emits a silent shriek before vanishing.

Panting, she tries once again. In her haste, she calls up the one from earlier. This time she gets a proper hold of him and manages to siphon off a significant amount of magical energy. The daemonic energy courses through her and hides her in a veil of shadows. In the uncertain light, the others lose track of her and Harold feels a light breeze on the back of his calf accompanied by very light footsteps.

"Drop my money now!" - Harold, indignant.
She has not stolen his money, but she specifically tells me she wanted to blow on his calf to freak him out.  

With a quiet, unseen laugh she descends invisibly into the darkness.

Once down the stairs and upon the main floor, she creeps forward to see what she can. Staying outside the meagre light afforded by the torches, Breanna hides in the shadows and takes note of what she sees.

There is a ring of people, clad in dark red hooded robes, each bearing a torch in their hands and an identical curved knife at their wastes. They are all chanting in unison. The Leathe listens carefully and she cannot make out the words, nor the language used, but the tone is one of adoration, worship.

After her spying mission, Breanna heads back to the rest of the party, making a weird croaking noise in the back of her throat to try and freak the others out.
"Kill it with fire!" - Harold.
 Before they can swing, Breanna begins to laugh and she reappears between them.

"My response is condescension." - Sins.
 "I am being condescending. Condescension, condescension, condescension." - Dev, with a laugh.
I was sure Dev was going to say condensation. "I will spray drops of water at you!"

We move onwards.
 
"There was a group of people, not half-dead people, but people-people holding torches and chanting something in a language I could not understand. But it was not aggressive, it was kind of.... worshippy." - Breanna.

"And I do not care if that was illiterate. That is how you use the term illiterate Dev." - LD to much laughter. "Illiterate: To not be literate."
 "PG, how fond are you of your little sister?" - Dev.
 "Very fond. Do not kill me." - LD.
 "Uh... Moderately."
"MODERATELY!?" - LD, enraged.
 "So if I give her a quick death you'd be alright with that?" - Dev, questioning.
"No, slow and drawn out. I want to be able to say good-bye."
We wouldn't hurt her. Not permanently anyway.

Later I brought the matter to LD's attention that her use of the word illiterate was incorrect too. She brought another matter to my attention, namely that she did not care as she got a laugh at Dev's expense and that was all that mattered.
 
There is some debate as to whether or not it's worth going in there altogether. Eventually they decide to do so.

"Maebh, wait up here by the door with that Blade Wall ready." - Harold.
Maebh nods.
"Alright then, Maebh stay here, Kel'Serrar with me." - Harold. He then turns to Breanna. "You do whatever you like cause you're pretty much useless in a fight."
Breanna smiles and nods sheepishly.

This exchange was quite amusing given what is to come.  

And here we go again, the last half of Session 1.3
 
Harold attempts to approach the group subtly.
The group throws synonyms at Dev for almost a minute here as he tries to describe his manner of movement.
"Succinctly is not the right word..." - Dev.
 "Stealthily?" - Sins.
 "Discretely?" - Ladyhawk.
 "Sneakily?" - Sins, channelling some Gollum.
"Quietly?" - Dev.
 
This continued for way longer than it had to before he finally settled on subtly. Not that it really mattered, but at least by now I had a really good idea of how he was walking.  

Breanna uses the harnessed daemon within her to re-cast Shadowskin. She has to struggle to hold onto it and ends up having to let go of the entity, but she manages to cast. Just.

As she hides herself, both Breanna and Harold hear that the chanting is getting stronger and louder as the cult gets closer to the end of their ritual. There is a massive flash of light in the middle of the congregation.

Failed Common Knowledge: Black Magic Check from Breanna.  

Something is being summoned. Whatever it is, it is trapped within some sort of magical cage.

The cultists around it appear jubilant, cheering their success until the entity begins to fight against its bonds. With some panicked shouts, the robed figures dismiss the daemon before it can break through.
 
Do not read this if you are one of the players.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

After it is dismissed there is some quiet talking between the cultists which cannot be heard by the party. Then many magical doors appear in the air and the cult trickles away, leaving four "priests" behind, who begin to work magic upon where the attempted binding took place.

One is quite tall, one is quite short and the other two are of middling height.

"I'll take the short one, you get the tall one." - Breanna to Harold.
 "I was actually going to suggest that you try and sneak around them as quietly as you can." - Harold in reply.
"Yep. That's good for me." - Breanna nodding in agreement.
"You can shoot them from here I take it?" - Harold to Kel'Serrar.
 The Danann nods and has an arrow nocked and ready.

Breanna meanwhile begins her quiet journey around to the rear of the cultists, knives ready in the darkness as Harold strides confidently towards the group, making sure that if they notice anyone, it will be him.

As she gets closer, Breanna can hear them talking. Two are Midlanders, one is a Northmann and the last is a Selkye, all of whom are clad in the dark red hooded robes of their cult. The Selkye is quite old, his sparse hair and long, drooping moustache are grey with age, while the Northmann is of middling age with a long, dark beard and the two Midlanders are younger.

The Northmann appears to be the leader of this group, but judging by the deference the others show him, the Selkye seems to be a high-ranking member of perhaps a sister cult. However the Northmann and the Selkye seem to have a slightly antagonistic relationship as they have a few minor disagreements.

The four of them continue to talk amongst themselves and Breanna is able to gather that they are planning to destroy Summer Hill from within. As Harold gets closer, one of the Midlanders looks up and sees the flickering torchlight.

"Brothers! Are you there?" - Midlander cultist, fearfully.
 
Harold's figure becomes more recognisable as he comes closer.

"What the hell are you doing here!?" - Northmann cultist, angry.
 "I thought this was an abandoned cave. Which I could loot." - Harold, trying to talk his way out of it.

I think Dev expected me to roll here to see if he deceived them. But honestly, who the hell would buy that story?
 
The massive Northmann, who stands at a comparable height to the six foot tall Harold walks up to the Invarrian, his hands crackling with daemon-fire.
 
"We can't let you leave her now."- Northmann cultist, threatening.
"Dun dun dun duh!" - LD
 "But why? I just wandered in here. I wanted to ask you the way out." - Harold, changing his story in an attempt to charm them.
 "You've seen too much. There's no getting out now." - Northmann cultist.
 "What do you mean? I didn't see anything. I just heard you talking." - Harold, in his panic admitting that he was listening.
"In which case you have head too much." - Northmann cultist, reaching out towards Harold with his flaming hands.

As he does so, his fingers lengthen into "massive-bone-scythe-flaming-claws".
As an aside, try saying "massive-bone-scythe-flaming-claws" five times and really fast. We tried. And generally failed.  

Harold leans back and swings his staff at the Northmann but his earlier wound slows him down and the Northmann uses a very interesting parrying technique, namely holding up his "massive-bone-scythe-flaming-claws" and shearing through the wood of Harold's staff, depriving it of about a foot and a half of its length. Harold dodges back as fast as he can but his eyes are confused by the flickering flame passing in front of his eyes and he dropped his torch upon the ground to help him swing his staff better. Even so he manages to evade the cultists' strikes for now.
 
Hearing the commotion, Maebh rushes in through the doorway and to the top of the stairs, still with her Wall of Blades at the ready. A glowing wall of bluish-purple magical blades grounds itself in front of Harold. Both the Invarrian and the Northmann fall back, desperately avoiding the blades. Ten yards long, it doesn't prevent Breanna from going around it.

Of the other three cultists, the older of the two Midlanders disappears through one of their portable doors, while the younger one stays with the Selkye elder. With a crackling of magic, the elder then begins to mentally fight with Maebh over control of the Blade Wall. It is a huge strain, but the Danann manages to maintain control over it for now.

Breanna can see in the light provided by the cultists' torches that the Selkye is astounded at finding someone who can match him in sheer willpower and beads of sweat are trickling down his forehead from the strain.

Staying in the shadows, the Leathe assassin swiftly creeps around the Midlander and strikes the Selkye from behind, slashing deeply into his throat.

Finally Breanna succeeds in using her insanely buffed Sneak Attack, causing the most damage in a single attack in the campaign so far at a whopping 24.  

He falls forward onto the ground with his throat a bloody mess. The Midlander heard the noise of the knife slitting the elder's throat, followed by his gurgling death rattle.

"Master!" - Midlander cultist, running over to the dead Selkye. He then crouches next to the corpse, head bowed and sobbing. Crucially he is doing so right in front of Breanna.

Harold stands on the opposite side of the wall to the hulking, demonically clawed Northmann.
"Are you the child of a man I sliced the head off up in Unterguardt? Cause he was hilarious when he was dying." - Harold, drawing his sword. Not the best taunt he's come up with.
 
Interestingly enough, this Northmann is not actually from Unterguardt himself, his family having shifted to the Northlands before he was born. Despite this, Harold's remark incenses him. We can never know, but it is likely he had a child who was killed in an Invarrian raid, a common occurrence in the Northlands of Norbayne. It probably had nothing to do with Harold Oakenshield at all, but he is very angry.

The earth beneath Harold's feet begins to shake and rumble.

"Oh ****." - Harold.
 
"You insulted a mage, genius." - Sins
 "Actually, I believe you have insulted a warlock."
"Oh great. I hate you." - Dev, to me.
 "Hey, you did this. I hate you." - Ladyhawk with a laugh.
 
They hear a groaning noise from within the ground and Harold makes a split second decision to try and leap to the side. Not a moment too soon as a black, cavernous hole simply rips open in the floor of the chamber.

Focussing her magic, Maebh prepares a Fireball. She must be a bit tired though, for her magic backlashes slightly, leaving Maebh herself smouldering. Her fireball, fuelled with all the power she can give it crashes into her Wall of Blades. All is silent before a blinding magical explosion propels everyone outwards from the centre of the impact.

I described it as a mini-supernova which emitted a pulse of blinding light.
 
Once again do not read this if you are one of the players.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Of them all, only Kel'Serrar doesn't hide his eyes in time.

Everyone had to get under Initiative to hide their eyes. Failure would mean at least temporary blindness. Kel'Serrar's Initiative is currently 31. Sins rolled a 32.

There was much bemoaning of his bad luck.

I played it out that he managed to close his eyes just before the blinding light burned his retinas out of his face and caused permanent damage. He'd be blinking the after-images out of his eyes for a few hours, but no lasting ill-effects.  

Despite this, he doesn't loose the arrow he had nocked, holding on to it despite the shock and blinding light he experiences for the second before he manages to close his eyes.

Both Harold and the Northmann are thrown back a considerable distance, the cultist sprawling against the wall. The Blade Wall now has a gaping hole in it.

Kel'Serrar, half-blind, sets his arrow aflame and instinctively shoots the Northmann through the gap in the Blade Wall.

"The Blind Man sees!" - Dev.
 
In one of the most amazing shots of his life, Kel'Serrar smashes the arrow into the crazy Northmann warlock's chest. Shaking off the impact and the magical explosion, he gets very, very, very angry.

"Can't you just be very, very, very dead?" - Harold.
 
It was repeated so many times on the night that I promised it would make it into the write-up. The blind man shot him. Indeed. The blind man shot him.

 There was some suggestion that perhaps Kel'Serrar should go around with a blindfold from now on.  

Meanwhile back in front of Breanna.

"Master, wake up!" - Distressed Midlander cultist.

Breanna attempts to slit the man's throat, but he hears a slight rustle of clothing and tries to stand up. In the struggle, the hilt of her dagger gets caught in his throat and he falls to the ground unconscious.

Harold staggers up and starts to lope, limping as he goes to try and attack the Northmann as the warlock gets up. He sees the running Invarrian and attempts to throw a ball of flaming razor-wire. Razor-fire if you will. Dev patted my head condescendingly at this point. I actually thought razor-fire was a good term. It certainly got across the danger involved.  The ball unravels as it flies through the air, catching Harold's leg as he dodges to the side, delivering minor burns and lacerations to the Invarrian's calf. Luckily though, the web of fire dissipates into the air behind him, not causing any more damage.

With a great surge of power, Maebh calls up another Fireball and throws it into the Northmann's face, literally blowing off his head.

All that's left of the cult that attempted to summon a daemon minutes ago is two mangled corpses and a single unconscious Midlander.

Harold tries to find his staff and succeeds, avoiding the Wall of Blades and the gaping hole in the ground in the process.
"Go fetch. Fetch the stick!" - Ladyhawk.
 
Maebh suggests interrogating their prisoner, while unsurprisingly Breanna reckons they should cut his throat while they have the chance.

Together, Maebh and Harold tie him up, but then disagree on what to do next. Maebh thinks that taking him outside where he might be able to run away and hide is too dangerous, while Harold believes that they would have access to more skilled interrogators back in Summer Hill. Kel'Serrar then brings up the point that there are secret doors that lead to this room and the other Midlander escaped. With that, Maebh relents and the Invarrian hefts the prisoner out to the wagon.

Well he attempts to, but without help he has some difficulty doing so, his wounds causing no end of trouble. In the end, the grizzled duellist decides, screw it and just drags the prisoner up the huge flight of stairs and then through the hallway, tunnel and out into daylight where he and Kel'Serrar haul him onto the wagon.

Interesting points from Sins here.  

"Coincidentally, has anyone noticed that this is all rather neat and tidy? Bandits, notes. So far we've delivered one note that evidently they weren't all that happy to receive as it wasn't the message they were planning on. Is anyone finding this just a little bit odd?" - Kel'Serrar.
 "I'm finding it very odd, but for now, I just want to leave." - Harold.
 "Feel free to leave, but when we go collect our payment, let's just say, I don't want to be in the room." - Kel'Serrar.
 "Yeah.... I'm going to need you in the room I think." - Harold.
 
They discuss what to do when they finally get back to Petyr Rangard and tell him what happened here as they climb onto the wagon and head back to Summer Hill. They eventually decide that wherever they meet him, it will either be in an open space where he can't kill them off quietly, or in a place of their choosing with Kel'Serrar covering the meeting with his bow and Breanna hiding behind a curtain.

Night comes swiftly and finds Maebh sitting at the fore driving the horse. In the wagon behind her the prisoner is still drifting in unconscious slumber with Breanna watching him intently while sharpening her knives.
"You're really creepy, you know that right?" - Harold, addressing Breanna before turning over and trying to go to sleep.
Meanwhile:
"Sharp.... sharp....." - Breanna, crooning to her knives.

I made a joke here about how Breanna was internally thinking, "I wonder what colour your spleen is..." I think it may now be her new threat. She wrote it down on her character sheet. We shall see how that pans out.  

Harold gave her instructions that she was allowed to slit his throat if he looked threatening in the slightest. As such, she was alert to his every move. Harold himself slept in the tray while Kel'Serrar sat on the back taking the first watch.

In the middle of the night, the party hears a low growl from the tree line.
 
And we left it there cause Sins had to go.

The Wrap-Up:
Everyone levelled up halfway through this session. Here's a detailed recount of everyone's choices.

Maebh's Choices
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Kel'Serrar's Choices
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Breanna's Choices
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Harold's Choices
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Along with this, the party looted the other party from Summer Hill and picked up their equipment.
The list:
Maebh picked up Mordra Goldshine's arming sword, claiming it for use in her magic, as a sword is considered a non-essential ingredient in Wall of Blades.
Breanna picked up the same man's dagger, adding it to her collection of little bladed instruments.
Kel'Serrar took Eradan Blackstar's cloak, seeing as the dead man no longer had any use for it. Bloodied an dirty it might be, but that is nothing to a Danann.
Harold added to his portable armoury, taking Worron Radyzor's steel cuirass, greaves and vambraces, adding them to his defences, in turn destroying any hope he might be able to travel quietly. He also takes Eradan's longsword, belting it on. Because he didn't have enough blades already.
All the rest is piled onto the wagon to be sold when they find a merchant who will take it. They also found some money on the dead men and split it, fairly equally.

And that's all I think. Once again we finish it up with a massive cliff-hanger, but this time at least it's not practically an instant before potential death.
Or is it? :D

Please let us know if you're reading this, or have any questions or anything. We love getting feedback. :)
Cheers,
[/color]
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on April 19, 2015, 06:39:34 PM
Post reserved for further usage if necessary
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on April 19, 2015, 06:57:04 PM
Post reserved for further usage if necessary
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on April 19, 2015, 07:07:43 PM
Post reserved for further usage if necessary
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Glaurung on April 19, 2015, 07:17:12 PM
Please let us know if you're reading this
I'm reading, albeit from what is probably an unusual perspective here: I've never participated in an RPG campaign, so it's interesting to see how they work.
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on April 19, 2015, 08:11:33 PM
Ah awesome,

Well they are great fun I assure you. I do apologise for the formatting of the posts though. It's so late over here. (It's actually 5 am, I pulled an all-nighter again.)

I di suggest, if you're interested of course, that you have a look at the full story so far on GitP, only because there's little extras over there that I haven't gotten around to posting here yet. The interviews for instance.

Anyway, hope everyone's enjoying. ;)
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 01:46:04 AM
Session 2.1: Drunken Lullabies

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I am sorry that this took so long to write up, but despite being so short, this session took an awfully long time to write up. Probably because the group spent more time actually playing rather than paying Dev out. So let's get to it.

Due to our new player, the party started out split. Oh no! But it's okay, cause I fully intended to have them join up shortly.

The party itself was heading south, back to Summer Hill, Maebh driving the wagon. It was decided that they would like to play out the afternoon again, something I was quite happy to do as it meant we could get Tremor into the action quicker in the long run. I know, you wouldn't think so, but unbelievably I think it did. [/color]

"So how do we want to approach firstly the matter of our payment and secondly the information we have gained?" - Harold, addressing the group from his seat in the back of the cart.

"Payment?" - Maebh.

"Yes, payment from the man who is essentially bankrolling us at the moment." - Harold.

"Perhaps you didn't understand me. I don't want to be in the room." - Kel'Serrar.

"I understand that. You can cover me. You could be across the street with an arrow ready. I'm sure it won't hit, but at least you might get close." - Harold.

"I guess I should find a blindfold." - Kel'Serrar.

Laughter.

"Maebh, I would like you there as my right hand." - Harold.

"And you would like me not to be there." - Breanna, pre-empting an assault on her capabilities.

"No, I would like you to be there and ready to slit some throats." - Harold.

"... I can't do that unless he's short enough for me to reach." - Breanna.

With that, they decided that they had sorted out how they would handle the collection of the money they were due.

Breanna continues her attempts at creeping out the prisoner as they make their way back to Summer Hill in the cart.  The sunlight fades and they find themselves on the road at night. The decision is made to press on through the dark hours, to arrive in Summer Hill as soon as possible.

That night they hear a strange howling from the east. Alert for signs of danger, they press on, sharpening weapons and keeping watchful eyes on the tree line. Maebh contemplates casting a Magical Alarm on the road behind them to warn of anyone following, but they decide not to as she needs to drive the wagon forward and casting the spell would take time.
Harold considers relieving Breanna from her prisoner-watching duties but promptly forgets when they all notice the eerie sensation of being watched by something in the forest.

Meanwhile in Summer Hill, I had Wings take an Alcohol Consumption Check to signify how Tremor was spending his night. This was to make sure that he was doing something while the others were rolling their Perception Checks.

So therefore, for his first action in the story, Tremor Ironfist sits in The Iron Moon Inn, trying hard to drink himself into a coma. He is failing for now, but is certainly putting away a lot of alcohol.

Meanwhile out on the road with the howling echoing in their ears, the group has an uncomfortable feeling they are being watched.

Kel'Serrar did exceptionally well on his Check, going into negatives and Harold tried to use his Invarrian nose to garner some more clues.

On the very edge of his hearing, Kel'Serrar can hear what sounds like very soft footsteps. He's not sure if they're real, but he has learnt to trust his gut instinct by now and he thinks there is something there. The pattern with which they hit the ground seems vaguely familiar to him. His first thoughts are either Corpsewalker or marcwolf.

Harold takes another whiff of the air, but in all the smells he gets, he comes up with nothing out of the ordinary. He can smell horse, Leathe, Danann, Invarrian (drunken dog-man) and the various smells of the forest.

And then it hits him. A very faint whiff of decay.

The whole group starts to freak out and whinge about how it's a Corpsewalker and how mean I am to them. I was incredibly happy with this turn of events as that is precisely the attitude I want towards the Corpsewalkers. I think it means I have gotten just the right balance of fear, enough that they dread taking them on, not enough that they'll run out on the plot.

Maebh drives the horse to a bit more speed now, taking the road a little quicker than perhaps is safe, but none of the others mind as the faster they travel, the further they are from any Corpsewalkers.

Now past midnight, Tremor takes another Check for the alcohol he is consuming. He is still barely affected. It has gotten so late that the barkeep himself has told the taciturn and alcoholic dwarf,
"Look it's getting late. Help yourself, I'm going to bed. Don't set yourself on fire. If you do, make sure it's in the fireplace." - Sleepy barkeep.

Quite a bit of laughter follows this because of the earlier joke regarding Harold setting himself on fire after a night in this same tavern.

Nodding to the barkeep, Tremor accepts the offered key to the cellar and proceeds to help himself.

Back out on the road, it is now early morning and the pale light of the early sun is just breaking through the cloud cover. They have just reached the section of the road where the carriage careened through the undergrowth over a week before.

Perception Checks again.

They can still feel the uncomfortable sensation of being watched and Breanna can hear both a soft padding from the road behind them and once the sound of scratching on the bark of a tree.

Tremor's still drinking in the town, despite the sun coming up outside. Finally, he can feel the effects of all the alcohol, despite having spent at least six solid hours putting away various alcoholic beverages. At this time, some people are actually starting to awaken. Not the many who attempted to match the dwarf drink for drink last night, they're going to be out of it for a fair while yet, but despite this, some people are beginning to stir. Sitting up against the wall with two large tankards of ale, Tremor keeps gulping.

Back on the road they discuss whether they should move past the carriage and back to Summer Hill or whether they should retrace their steps back to the now abandoned marcwolf cave and see if they can find the bandit camp. Kel'Serrar badly wants the brigands out of the way, however Maebh and Harold advise caution, particularly since Harold himself is still badly wounded. In fact the whole party is still a little worse for wear.

Despite all points to the contrary, Kel'Serrar heads out to go check out what he can find on his own while Maebh drives the cart with the others back to Summer Hill.

There is some discussion about whether they should stay to provide him with a quick getaway until it is pointed out that he can actually run faster than the cart would travel with five people in it, plus all of the equipment Harold insists they take with them.

OOC it is pointed out how slow it will be when the Dwergar joins them.

"That's it, I'm getting another horse to go with this one!" - Ladyhawk.
"You could pull me along in a little sled behind you." - Wings.

Kel'Serrar follows the now almost non-existent trail they followed days before and comes across the ruined carriage. It has been completely wrecked by something with a not inconsiderable amount of strength. The girl's corpse, and those of the two horses, have mysteriously disappeared, leaving no discernable trace for the Danann ranger to follow.

Checking more closely, Kel'Serrar finds a small ring which he recognises as being worn by the girl when last he was here, lying upon the shredded remains of the richly upholstered seat. The ring itself is practically worthless, however its presence is unusual.

Looking closely at the scene and the tracks left behind, the ranger determines that the carriage must have been travelling very fast, probably trying to escape from something on the road. Now what could possibly be big enough, hungry enough and fierce enough to lead to that kind of reaction? Just outside a town in the Midlands of all places.

Kel'Serrar considers whether it is worth trying to find the old marcwolf cave they sheltered in several nights ago, and from there scouting out the bandit camp, but his ability to find both of these considering the cold trails he would be following is unknown. With this in mind, the Danann ranger turns and promptly lopes back onto the road, despite the light-headedness which still plagues him, hoping to catch up to the wagon before he faints. On the way he curses his weakness, wishing that he could deal with the bandits now and by himself, but he is smart enough to know that he's just not capable of that. Yet...

Maebh's wagon is only an hour at the most outside of Summer Hill when they recognise the running figure of Kel'Serrar approaching from the north. All of them are half dead from fatigue having spent the majority of the previous night in watchful fear.

Blinking her bleary eyes, Maebh drives her wagon through the western gate of Summer Hill at mid-morning.
"To the drinking hall!" - Harold, to stony silence. "No, okay then."
"Alright let's go to the fountain. Breanna and Kel'Serrar, I want you two to cover us while we talk to this guy while you Maebh, I want you to just be your beautiful self, standing next to me." - Harold, getting the hang of using flattery to get his way.

"Thank you." - Maebh, in such a regal tone that everyone cracked up.

"Please don't eat me." - Harold in an undertone. And we all thought that perhaps he was starting to use his Charm Skill the way it should be used. For example, without punching people in the face.

Meanwhile Tremor is still sitting in a tavern, putting away ales because he enjoys his nights. And mornings.
"And all other times. Provided he's awake." - Ladyhawk.
There's a lot of talking about respective weights. Especially how Tremor is probably getting closer to a blob than a dwarf.
Tremor is approached while sitting in the tavern by a short, slight, well-dressed man with a trimmed, pointed beard and short, dark hair. He is very pale, his skin clammy, but any illness he must be feeling he puts aside in his manner.

"You look like you're relatively experienced." - Rangard, with just a small amount of disdain towards the grizzled Dwergar.

"I need a hand. I wish you to join a group who is currently in my employ. They'll likely need someone of your abilities anyway. But in the meantime at least, I might be in danger from them as I don't know just how much danger I just put them in. So basically, I will pay you a lot of money if you will make sure that they don't just kill me out of hand." - Rangard, looking slightly nervous.

Tremor staggers to his feet, looks up at the man, stares him directly in the eye and pauses for a moment, before nodding his agreement.

Harold leans back against the fountain, finishing off the last of the rum he bought last time he was in town. The rest of his group are waiting in readiness, half of them hidden in the trees and Maebh beside him remaining calm. Walking towards them they can see the figure of Rangard and a short, hairy Dwergar clad in leather and staggering with slight drunkenness. Which after hearing how much he's had to drink over the last twelve hours, is quite an accomplishment.

"I don't know what happened out there, but judging by the look on your faces, that was not what we expected." - A very pale Rangard to Maebh and Harold.

"Can you not tell by the rest of us?" - Maebh, pointing out that her clothing is singed and burnt and Harold himself is nursing several major injuries and is looking more battered than ever. Being savaged by a sword-wielding northerner will do that to you.

Rangard looks at them appraisingly before cracking a slight grin.
"I thought it would be impolite to mention it my lady. Now please tell me, what happened out there?" - Rangard

"Well the first night we came across some marcwolves which were trying to eat us. Then speaking of things which wanted to eat us, there were actual Corpsewalkers! And then even more Corpsewalkers." - Harold.

Rangard flinches at the mention of Corpsewalkers but does not react further.

"And then, when we actually find the group you sent before us, we found out they were all bitten!" - Harold, indignant.
"And now they're all dead." - Maebh, in a far too cheerful manner.
"Yes, cause we were fortunate enough to be there on the day they started to turn." - Harold, sarcastic.
"How was that fortunate?" - Ladyhawk. Dev isn't the easiest person to determine levels of sarcasm in. As in, he always sounds vaguely sarcastic.

There is silence for a short while before,
"I take it from what you say that you put them down?" - Rangard.
"Yes!" - Harold. Political intrigue is not something Harold will ever be good at.
"And there were no survivors?" - Rangard.
"None!" - Harold still frustrated.
"We survived..." - Maebh in the background.
"Except us!" - Harold to Rangard.
"Thank you Mar-ve" - Dev.
"MAY-VE!" - Everyone. Judging by the recording, even Wings.
"Mar-ve, May-ve. what's the difference?" - Dev.
"No because pronunciation doesn't matter does it Gyeorg?"
"Yes, thank you James." - Dev
There is silence....
"I expected Jar-mays."
The war on pronunciation begins anew, with Duke Dev at the forefront, spreading illiteracy wherever he goes.

"I haven't been completely truthful with you-" - Rangard beginning.
"OH REALLY!?" - Harold.
"Yeah we kind of figured." - Maebh.
"I would like to share what I can with you now if that is okay." - Rangard.
"Yes that would be useful. Will it also be sprinkled with more hidden lies and slander?" - Harold.
"I haven't slandered you at all." - Rangard.
"Well not yet!" - Harold. He's a stubborn bastard and tends to get completely off-track in conversations. A trait he shares with his player. In copious amounts.

"I need help. I am for Summer Hill, that's all I care about. That doesn't necessarily make me a good person, but I'm a damn sight better than the alternatives. As you know, the queen of Elspeth has long wanted to claim Summer Hill as her own. Now what you don't know is that, as of these last few months, Queen Esmerelda has been trying to claim us through clandestine means. As you can imagine this is not good for Summer Hill at all. We value our independence, a long-standing gift from a good man and a great king.

I came by knowledge of these attempts and approached one of my friends here in the town in an attempt to put a halt to these events. Though it took us weeks and in some cases led us into extreme peril, we eventually found that there were some ancient artefacts that could give us the strength to fight back, Focus Stones. Imagine our surprise and joy when we found one may have been hidden in this very area! It became an obsession of ours, to find its location and obtain it, to use its power to crush the power of this cult.

My friend was a very powerful mage, easily the best magic user the town could lay claim to, capable of melting the very rock with the heat of his conjured flames, and having no experience in these matters myself I used what assets I could to engage some hirelings to accompany him into the ruins. We told them only that we wanted to explore the ruins and they were to accompany my friend.
I did not know, but at least one of them was in the employ of Elspeth simultaneously and betrayed us. My friend died down there, cut down from behind even as he sent a whisper to me.

Now my investigations have led me to believe that the cult has been using those very same ruins as some sort of headquarters where they come together to plan I imagine-" -Rangard, interrupted in the middle of his spiel.
This is about as close I have come to arrogant GM monologue. :smalltongue:

"Ha, we killed them." - Maebh, triumphantly.
"Well , not all of them." - Harold in an undertone.
"You found the cult?" - Rangard, grave.
"Yes, we killed the head of the cult." - Harold.
Rangard stands in place, taking in this new information. Meanwhile, Tremor, to whom all of this is new, is just perplexed.
"Actually, we killed a really strong one, and there was also a short, old man. Oh and another one who's sitting in the cart whimpering I reckon." - Maebh, thoughtful.
"Have you managed to get anything out of him?" - Rangard, latching on to this new player in the game.
"We have two pieces of information, and we will share them with you. I think I will ask you to go get the prisoner Maebh." - Harold, probably thinking that Rangard and Tremor don't necessarily know that Kel'Serrar and Breanna are in hiding and are therefore unknown observers, elects to send his already revealed ally.

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"Well, before you send your mage away, I have a request I'm afraid I must ask of her." - Rangard, a small trace of desperation leaking into his usual calm voice.
 "Only if you ask nicely." - Maebh, putting her 'haughty' on.
"I will ask nicely, as it pleases you my lady." - Rangard, bowing slightly. For an arrogant man, this is about as close to actual respect one could get from him. He continues.
"Through some means, I know not how, the cult must be aware I am working against them. I have been cursed and I do not expect I have much life left in me. Unfortunately, since my friend died, I have no other mage in this town whom I trust." - Rangard. He pauses.
"I don't even trust you that much, I am sorry. But you're the only hope I have." - Rangard.

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"Ah, not til I get some answers." - Harold cuts in.
"I am sorry, but time is of the essence. Whatever questions you have, I swear I will answer to the best of my abilities once I am cured." - Rangard. Even in mortal peril, he can't help but strike a deal. Must be the merchant in him.
"Alright then." - Maebh, rolling up her sleeves and ignoring Harold as she prepares to cast the spell.

As Maebh observes the merchant closely, she can feel the darkness within him, slowly eating him away. He is likely in rather extreme agony and it's a miracle he's not catatonic with the pain. She can also see that his condition is will worsen within the hour.

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"Okay, looks like a dangerous one. I'm going to need some water someone." - Maebh, playing the doctor for once and holding out her drinking bowl.
Harold takes the bowl and dips it into the fountain, bringing up some water which he carefully carries over to the mage.
Maebh accepts the bowl of water without comment and holds it before her in both hands, channelling some of her power into the water contained in the vessel. A soft green-ish glow emanates from the liquid, which cannot truly be called water anymore. Dipping a dainty finger in it, Maebh draws a runic symbol of the Scribhinn
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"Okay then, as you know the group I sent out betrayed us to Elspeth and killed my friend." - Rangard. He takes a deep breath.
"The Corpsewalkers are my doing. I set them upon the other group, hoping to destroy them in a way which would not be traced back to me in any way." - Rangard.

"Okay then, next question. What is it a cult of?" - Harold.

"The destruction of what I hold dear. Failing that, they're trying to find a way to bind a daemon to bring us down from within. There is no religious purpose behind them. It is sheer acquisition of power and gold, nothing more." - Rangard.

"Right. Okay, 'Mar-ve,' could you please go get the prisoner." - Harold, once again mangling Maebh's name.
"First of all it's Maebh, and secondly okay, but only since you asked politely." - Maebh, primly.

Maebh heads off and swiftly returns with the struggling and bound prisoner slung over her shoulder. He must be rather heavy, but the tough Danann mage doesn't seem to notice his wriggling or his whimpers of fear.

Makes you wonder what she usually carries over her shoulder like that....

"I see. Hopefully you don't mind if we deliver him into the care of one of my associates. She should be able to wring some truth from him." - Rangard, with a hard glare at the bound prisoner.
"I want to be there." - Maebh, quick as a flash.
"That can be arranged." - Rangard, nodding.
"So do I." - Harold, with something approaching weighty finality.
There is silence for a moment, then....
"How many people do you wish to cram into this tiny little torture room?" - Rangard, eyebrow raised.
"Just two more than usual." - Harold.
"Right so four already, plus the one being cut up..." - Rangard. He looks at the Danann and Invarrian, sizing them up.
"Okay, I shall see what can be done." - Rangard.

"Good. There is also an issue regarding a bandit camp in the vicinity." - Harold, pulling forth the note given to them by a previous prisoner. Their prisoners tend to meet damn sticky ends.....

"As you can see it's been signed by their leader, code-named, The Shadow. Any clues as to who that is?" - Harold.
"Unfortunately, I don't know, but I would bet it has something to do with Elspeth and their damned Queen." - Rangard, regretfully.
Harold sighs and nods his head resignedly.

"Well, I believe I owe you all a not inconsiderable amount of money." - Rangard.
"Yes, and you'd better pay up now." - Maebh.
"Okay then, let us go to my manor and we shall organise payment and the interrogation of your prisoner." - Rangard, turning to leave. Before he does so, he halts and turns back to the Invarrian and Dannan.
"I don't suppose you managed to find that Focus Stone while you were down there by any chance?" - Rangard, with just a little bit of hope.
"No." - Maebh, lying through her teeth.
"Well, we might have actually. We'll have to got the cart and check it out." - Harold, trying to get a bit of time alone to discuss it with the others.

"Well then, I guess I should give you your money first and we can sort that out later. I'd be very much obliged if you would come with me and I will introduce you to my associate while we're there." - Rangard, a little preoccupied with his own thoughts.

More to come very soon. :smallwink: Right here in fact. (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=14928910&postcount=35")

Told you so, here's part 2 of Session 1.4.

The merchant heads off with Harold and Tremor in tow, leaving the Danann with the bound prisoner. Grinning maliciously, she takes the rope and pulls the man after the three men, oblivious to his feeble struggles. After they have left, Breanna and Kel'Serrar drop out of their respective trees and make their way back to the wagon, thinking to guard it while the others are otherwise engaged.

After leading his companions to his household, Rangard takes them to his study and starts the transaction, paying them from his own personal reserves.

Everyone gets their money and there is much rejoicing. Tremor gets a bit less than the rest as really all he's done is act as an intimidating, short, drunken bodyguard.

"Now that is out of the way, I shall introduce you to my associate." - Rangard, rubbing his hands together. He's looking a bit livelier already, but it will take some time before the damage inflicted by the curse is fully reversed.

"Are you talking about the dwarf?" - Harold, pointing at Tremor.

"No." - Rangard, who nods his head towards the corner of the room.

Standing there in the corner, unobserved until now, is a short Selkye woman, clad in dark grey cloth, a deep cowl obscuring her facial features. She stalks over to the group, cold eyes appraising everyone individually before bowing respectfully to Rangard.

"Well met." - Selkye assassin, having straightened once more. At about the same height as Tremor, both Harold and Maebh tower over her, but she still holds herself with an easy confidence.

"Indeed." - Harold, with a raised eyebrow.
Maebh offers a respectful nod in greeting, while Tremor simply grunts.
Rangard addresses the group.
"With your permission, I would like to grant this woman access to your prisoner." - Rangard.
The prisoner starts to try and escape again, drawing only a very sharp pull on the rope from Maebh which promptly cuts into his windpipe. He starts whimpering some more.
"Shut up. Do you want something to complain about? Like my boot in your face?" - Harold.
"So, may I begin?" - Selkye assassin, quietly.
Maebh simply nods.

The small woman reaches down and picks the man up by the scruff of the neck, before physically hauling him out the door and down the hallway, ignoring his panicked struggles and screams. She is very strong for her size, ruthless, and focussed only on doing her job. The others follow her out.

She continues down a flight of stairs, dragging the prisoner as she goes, thinking to exploit the bruised flesh later, before turning right through another doorway. Inside the room are two tables, one bare stone, the other polished wood, strewn with various wicked looking knives.

The Selkye woman ties the man to the stone table while Maebh and Rangard look on and Harold and Tremor lean up against the doorway, getting to know each other through the universal language of betting.
"Three coppers says he lasts no more than three minutes." - Harold, rubbing two coppers together.
"You're on, he'll last longer than that, no matter how good the little lass is." - Tremor.

Ten seconds later....
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH! DON'T HURT ME AGAIN!" - Cultist.
"I win?" - Harold, grinning.

Within ten minutes, the cultist has revealed everything he knows to the gathered torturers. The assassin gives him some time to talk without the attentions of the steel blades. Those wicked steel blades.

"We were hired to produce something which could be unleashed within the town so that the forces outside can strike while they are distracted. We’re looking to harness a daemon, bend it to our control completely without anchoring it to a physical target. One cannot use the power of the daemons without anchoring it to a physical object. When you use magic, you anchor a daemon within yourself. Necromancers anchor the daemon to a corpse, which is far less volatile than anchoring the daemon to a living being, especially one who is unwilling to be a receptacle. We seek to bind it within an aethyric box, and then turn it loose and although we would prefer to retain some control over it, that control is not necessary to our needs.” - Frantic and bleeding cultist.

"Do you mean that control is not necessary now, but your long term desire is to control it?" - Tremor, interposing himself in the conversation with typical gruffness.

The cultist trembles.
"Well..... AAAAARGH! More or less...." - Cultist, defeated after the assassin stabs him once again, thinking he has gone long enough with pain.

"Well then, that was informative. We will leave Meldith here to dispose of him, shall we?" - Rangard, unconsciously rubbing his hands together as if washing them.
"Fair enough. I'm not really into the disposal of bodies." - Dev.
"I noticed. Like the little girl's body you consigned to the wolves."
"Well.... It was good protein for them!" - Dev.

The three companions follow Rangard back into his study, leaving the Selkye to her grisly task.
"As you can see, I did not lie to you about the cult within the town." - Rangard, grim.
"No you did not." - Harold, nodding in agreement, if perhaps a little grudgingly.

At this point Dev says, "But you did...." and makes a strange whining noise in the back of his throat. The weird thing? So does Wings. Everyone else laughs and ignores the important question.
"What?" - LD.
The fact is, none of us had a clue what the two of them were talking about in their own weird, spontaneously created whine-language.
"We obviously bonded over the gambling!" - Dev.

"Say hypothetically, we continued helping you...." - Harold, leaving the question open.
"Would we be paid more?" - Tremor, finishing it. Those two would become nigh inseparable as the night went on. May all the Gods of men save us all.
"Of course." - Rangard, smoothly.
"Okay then, so in that hypothetical world, how much are we talking, and what would be our next step?" - Harold.
"To answer your first question, however much you feel you are worth. I am a wealthy and powerful merchant. Name a figure remotely reasonable and I shall see it fulfilled." - Rangard, somewhat smug.
"I want one hundred crowns." - Maebh, quietly leaning against the wall.

One hundred crowns is an awful lot. In modern day terms, what she did there was like trying to withdraw seven million dollars from the local supermarket.

"How about ten then?" - Maebh, smiling a little in the face of Rangard's incredulous look. It's still a lot of money, but he's wealthy and he needs them. So he can afford it for now, but in the overall scheme of things, that is likely to break him when combined with the money he handed out earlier that day.

"So two each then?" - Rangard, with a sinking feeling when he sees the Danann mage shake her head.
"No, just for me." - Maebh, cheerful.
Stunned silence. Then,
"Our mage regards herself very highly." - Harold, somewhat sarcastically. Well we assumed so anyway. He might just be the master of understatement. You never can tell with Dev.

"I do. You would all be dead if it weren't for me." - Maebh, haughty, and a little affronted that Harold would take that tone regarding her.
"I am willing to negotiate with you all individually." - Rangard, heading off the argument. After all, he really doesn't want a mage to start flinging fire around inside his expensive manor house. Especially if he's going to have to hand over a significant portion of his money to said mage.

"Well anyway, from this point onward, I want you to be open and honest with all of us. Otherwise, I'm out and hanging you out to dry." - Harold, moving back to the task at hand.
Rangard nods, but crucially, doesn't commit to anything.

"What did you need the stone for exactly?" - Maebh, bringing up the one mystery she had left to her before Harold can demand a commitment from Rangard. The Focus Stone she found, while useful, doesn't exactly lend the wielder earth-shattering power by any stretch.
"Ah, well as you know my friend was a rather powerful mage, and that stone was to be the deciding factor in this struggle. But of course, if you haven't found it then we just need to rely on old fashioned force of arms to get this done." - Rangard, sadly.
"But even if we had it, you'd have no mage to use it." - Maebh, frowning.
"If we had the stone, I might just trust you enough to be happy letting you use it." - Rangard, sighing.

"So what is our next step now?" - Harold, moving onwards.
"So wait, what's the time? In the game." - Wings.
"About eleven in the morning."
"Ah, time for a drink then?" - Wings, to much laughter.
"So would we look at taking out this bandit camp?" - Harold.
"Honestly, I don't think that's much of a problem compared to the cult within the town itself. Now I do have a lead for you if you are willing to investigate. I'd prefer you to do it than any of my other associates. Meldith is unfortunately, a little too well-known around here." - Rangard.

"She had a bit of a tight scrape while observing another person of interest and only escaped by assuming a fourth false identity during the chase." - Rangard, ignoring the raised eyebrows and disbelieving expressions. They all know that Breanna is not capable of anything like that, so it gives them all a bit of an idea regarding Meldith's abilities. That and the fact that whatever ran her off was powerful enough to do so.

"We'll have to get our own assassin to do this by the sounds of it." - Harold, in an undertone while stroking his chin.

"Anyway, there is a man in town, goes by the last name of Shylocke. He's a merchant, one of the more powerful ones in the area. Now I had him followed by Meldith and she found that he frequents the Harvest Wolf, Wilmund Brewer's tavern over on the west side of town. Unfortunately, access to the backroom was difficult for her to access and she was only just able to escape without being compromised." - Rangard, imparting as much information as possible.

"Okay, I take it the dwarf is joining us?" - Harold, referring to Tremor.
"Us and our little band of murder-hobos?" - Sins.
"I would be very much in your debt if you would join them." Rangard.
"Yes. Yes you would." - Tremor, gruff.
"Welcome. By the way we are called the Order of the Stick!" - Dev.
"No we are not!" - Ladyhawk, indignant that she didn't get to propose her name for the party.
"Order of the Beard?" - Dev.
"I don't like it cause I don't have one." - Ladyhawk.
"Order of the Beer?" - Dev. Strangely apt.
"....No." - Ladyhawk.
"Order of the Arrow?" - Wings, helpfully.
"We don't really know each other well enough to have an 'Order' yet." - Ladyhawk.
"How about we just stick with Murder-Hobos for the moment?" - Sins.
Silence.....
"Order of the Murder-Hobo?" - Ladyhawk, laughing.
"Wow.... How noble...."

"Well then, that's settled. Like to go drinking at the tavern?" - Harold to Tremor. New best buds they are.
"Yes!" - Tremor, gruffly.
"Okay then, well we'll do that and Maebh, perhaps you might want to.... um... well..." - Harold, thinking over the best way to use the prickly mage.
"Sneak in the back door?" - Tremor, helpful as ever.
"Yeah!" - Harold. Let's face it, he's probably already half drunk on the mere thought of alcohol.
"We'll cause the distraction lass, you go around the back." - Tremor.
"I've got it! We'll start a drinking competition with EVERYONE in the pub!" - Harold, excited at the glorious bingeing to come.

At some point Tremor did work out rates. The dwarf gets 20 sulvers a week for every full week he stays in service to Rangard. In addition to that he will get 2 crowns upon the cult's destruction.

The rest of the party will also get the 2 crowns each, however they have not come to any conclusion with Rangard with regards to other payment.


They head off in their separate directions after getting instructions from Rangard on how to get to the Harvest Wolf. Tremor and Harold walk directly to the tavern, happily getting to know each other, while Maebh strides back to the cart, a solitary, foreboding figure in the town. She's going to pick up Breanna and let Kel'Serrar what's going on. Hopefully by the time she and the Leathe make it to the tavern, the drinking games will have begun and no one will notice them. Hopefully.

Out on the street, Maebh changes her mind about going back all the way, sending her two companions news of the situation through a Whispering Wind.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

“At Rangard’s house. Prisoner gave away everything, evil queen woman to invade. Going to a pub to find out more, need Breanna here.” – Maebh’s whispered message.

Kel’Serrar and Breanna, after initially freaking out at the noise, recognise Maebh’s voice. Kel’Serrar leans back against the edge of the cart, completely at ease. As far as he’s concerned, it’s not his problem and watching all their belongings is probably the best thing he could do at the moment.

Breanna meanwhile decides that she should go help, and accosts the first person she comes across, asking the townsman where she could find Rangard’s house. She obtains decent directions and knocks on the door of the house matching the description she was given.

A servant answers the knock.

“You’re with the group my master has hired, aren’t you?” – Servant.
“Yes, I am.” – Breanna.
“Would you like me to bring you to him?” – Servant.
“Yes. If you wouldn’t mind.” – Breanna.

The servant shows the Leathe into a sitting room and she waits for barely a minute before Rangard comes in, pale yet smiling.

“I take it you are looking for your friends?” – Rangard.
“They’re not my friends, they’re my cover, but yes I need to find them.” – Breanna.
“They’re at the Harvest Wolf, a tavern on the west side of town.” – Rangard.
“Thank you!” – Breanna, bubbly, trying to freak him out. It seems to have worked.
“Now get out of my house please.” – Rangard, looking worried at the assassin’s sudden and pronounced change in demeanour.

Breanna leaves the house, whistling cheerfully to herself, heading off the Harvest Wolf.

Meanwhile, Harold and Tremor have come to the modest tavern and have ordered a massive amount of alcohol.
“Can I expect that between the two of you, you will drink me out of house and home?” – Wilmund Brewer, owner and barman of the Harvest Wolf.
“We’re an Invarrian and a Dwergar…. What do you think?” – Harold.
“Okay, I’ll just be down in the cellar.” – Brewer, sighing with resignation.
“While you’re down there, make sure you bring enough up. We’re going to having a drinking competition.” – Tremor, gruff but happy.
“And who will your opponent be?” – Brewer, looking slightly happier. After all, someone’s going to have to pay for the beverages.
“EVERYONE!” – Harold and Tremor together. At this point, Brewer knew his doom was approaching.
“….. Let me go put up a sign.” – Brewer. He’s a shrewd businessman and knows that the more advertising he gets in, the better.

The sign reads as follows:
Come test your stomach against two of the world’s most seasoned drinkers! Harold Oakenshield and Tremor Ironfist have come down from the wild lands of the cold north, to partake of Summer Hill’s best ales. If you manage to outlast either of them over the course of the afternoon, you get half your money back!

Despite only being two in the afternoon at the latest, the drinking competition starts off huge, with at least forty of the locals trying their abilities against the Invarrian and the still hung-over and partially drunk Dwergar. The ale is quaffed easily and both Tremor and Harold share an approving glance. It’s good stuff.

Maebh stands and watches outside, eventually joined by Breanna, while round after round of ales come round the table for the next two hours. The two hour’s solid drinking has made the rest of the crowd considerably less enthusiastic, while Harold and Tremor are just getting warmed up.
Drew a comparison to the Legolas and Gimli drinking competition in The Lord of the Rings.

More people are coming in, drawn by both the spectacle and the good mood pervading the tavern and surrounding area, one which makes passers-by really feel like a drink.

Tremor sits in his seat, still downing ales one after the other, with a blood-alcohol concentration swiftly approaching something in the range of 60%. It’s likely one could inject a donkey with that amount of alcohol and kill it outright.

“We’ll go another hour before giving Maebh and Breanna the signal to move in.” – Dev.
“Yeah, we’re trying to drink the whole town unconscious.” – Wings.
“You know, if anyone can drink over two thousand people under the table, it would be you two. You’re sure you want to go another hour?”
“Yeah, we want the concentration to be on us.” – Dev.
“At the moment, the concentration is within you.”
“Alright well, we’ll give the signal to start to head around the side now.” – Wings.

Tremor stands up, stretching his hands into the air, but in his drunken state he forgets about the matter of his height. So he stands on his seat, the crowd looking at him like he’s about to topple over and fall unconscious any second now. They’re to be disappointed.

“That’s the signal, let’s move.” – Maebh to Breanna. The two women start to walk surreptitiously around the edge of the building.

Tremor on the other hand sits down and starts chugging his ale again. Both of them are starting to feel the effects of the alcohol, but neither is looking like falling over yet.
Mechanically, Tremor is looking a lot worse than Harold is at the moment, but neither has suffered a failure by enough to cause unconsciousness. On the other hand, the negatives to their Alcohol Consumption Checks are really adding up, so it’s only a matter of time. Harold almost went down in this third hour, but expended a Luck Point to adjust the roll.

Breanna approaches the backdoor of the tavern with Maebh covering her. The Leathe takes her thin dagger and with supreme skill, picks the padlock. With a small sound of delight, Breanna grabs the door with a small furry hand and swings it open towards herself and walks in.

The small, dark room was lit only by a single candle upon a wooden table, so when the door was opened, letting in the late afternoon sun, the group of men gathered around the table knew about it immediately, noticing the new light source along with the haplessly backlit Leathe assassin standing in the doorway, who is only now realising her mistake. All of them take a look at the diminutive Leathe-girl and bolt. Through her.

The men run out the door, leaving Breanna battered and bruised on the ground as she’s been trampled. Maebh is taken by surprise as well and with a split-second thought, she tackles one of them, slamming the man to the ground. But something feels wrong. She lifts herself off him and sees he is smiling before he just disappears into thin air before her eyes. Maebh scrabbles desperately but quickly comes to the conclusion that he is not invisible, but is in fact not even there anymore.

Breanna eventually picks herself up off the ground, with some difficulty while Maebh walks into the room, still troubled by her recent run-in with whatever she had a run-in with.

Harold and Tremor keep up the drinking, not knowing how things are progressing outside. Tremor finally has had enough and he sinks to the table in an alcoholic haze, probably with more alcohol in his system than any other bodily fluid. And he’s not due to wake up until at least five tomorrow morning.

Unaware of Tremor’s alcoholic collapse, Breanna and Maebh search the room for anything they can use as incriminating evidence. They find very little, a small black candle, lit on the middle of the table and some sheets of blank parchment and pens on a desk in the corner, along with some innocuous books in shelves along the eastern wall and a bottle of fairly expensive wine in a small box.

Leaving the candle where it lies, Maebh walks around the side and back out to the front, letting Harold know that it is time to go.

“Well, that’s it, I’m done. I’d better take my mate here to go get some sleep.” – Harold, swaying slightly as he gets up, before bending over to try and pick up the comatose dwarf.
As drunk and slightly crippled as he is, it’s unsurprising that this doesn’t work. Maebh comes over to help.
“I’ve got it lass.” – Harold, drunk and slurring.
“Fine. I could set you on fire you know.” – Maebh.
With difficulty, Harold manages to lift the dwarf over his shoulder, and manages, just, to carry Tremor to the wagon, throwing him down into it, disturbing Kel’Serrar.
“I’M SO HAMMERED!” – Harold, a drunken apology perhaps?

Maebh on the other hand hires two rooms at the Iron Moon Inn, one for herself and another for Breanna, in a rare show of camaraderie. Kel’Serrar? Sleeps in a tree in the courtyard again, having escaped from the cart and its alcoholic aroma.

Harold and Tremor lie in the cart in a drunken sleep.

Six in the evening and Maebh and Breanna eat together in the tavern, Harold and Tremor are still sleeping and Kel’Serrar sits in his tree, trying to ignore the stench wafting up from beneath him. The two poor marcwolf pups curl up at the base of Kel’Serrar’s tree.

They wake up with the worst hangovers they have ever experienced. Where most hangovers make the head hurt and everything else feel sort of fuzzy, for these two, everything hurts. They drank so much that their teeth will feel as if they are buzzing and every single one of their noise hairs will be burning with agony. They declare vengeance against the birds of the world, who sing as the sun comes up. This is, in fact, an act of vengeance in itself, an attack against those whose alcoholic fumes took the lives of several birds during the night.

Harold and Tremor awaken almost simultaneously to the sound of a keening shriek, one which sets their teeth on edge and fills Harold with fear. Corpsewalker!

And we left it there.

As you can see, despite only playing for half as long as our previous sessions, they really did get through a lot dialogue. I think it was also a good first session for Wings and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Our next game is this coming Friday, hopefully with Wings, though he's quite difficult to get a hold of. But we shall see.

Hope you all enjoyed, sorry for the delay,
Cheers,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 01:46:46 AM
Session 2.2: The Lady in Red

Okay we started out by allocating dice to everyone as Wings doesn’t have any D10’s and Sins and Dev forgot theirs, meaning that Ladyhawk, LD and I had to split our dice between everyone. It was difficult to manage but we sorted it all out swiftly enough.

We now begin where we left off, with Harold and Tremor awakening in the party’s cart.


Harold and Tremor awaken almost simultaneously to the sound of a keening shriek, one which sets their teeth on edge and fills Harold with fear. Corpsewalker!

And then he looks around and takes in the grins Breanna and Kel’Serrar are trying to hide with varying amounts of success. A look of comprehension slowly begins to draw across Harold’s face, even as the startled Dwergar next to him looks around frantically for the threat.

Breanna secretly used Phantom Noise to emulate a Corpsewalker’s scream in order to freak out the two drunkards. Cue hilarity from Ladyhawk and Sins. Admittedly, after the first few moments of shocked realisation, even Dev and Wings found it distinctly hilarious.

After some time trying to get their bearings, Harold and Tremor get up, with some difficulty and gasping in exquisite agony.

Both Harold and Tremor suffer from a -10 to any Skill Checks until they can get cleaned up and feeling better due to the massive hangovers. Usually it would be a -5 but this was a LOT of alcohol.

The five of them are arranged around in the courtyard where this all began, Tremor having joined their number and assimilated fairly well into the group. On the other hand, with yesterday’s distinct lack of success in finding out more information on the cult, they are no nearer to the core of the situation.

“Food…. Now…” – Harold to himself, face in his hands, trying to force the pounding in his head to go away. Funny how drinking always seems like fun until the next morning when the birds are singing and the sun shines brightly.

There is some semi-out of character chatter here as the others make fun of Harold’s predicament in particular. Dev responds with threats of violence, but Ladyhawk delivers the kicker.
“I have a spell which creates blazing light….. Don’t piss me off.” – Ladyhawk.

“I’m going to go get something to eat.” – Harold, struggling to stand up from his seat on the fountain. “Tremor, do you want to come with me?”

With a groan, Tremor stands and walks with the Invarrian, the two of them attempting to find a tavern they can order a meal and clean themselves up in. As they walk off, Harold whistles to his marcwolf pup, wincing in pain as he does so. Yet the pup perks up his ears and bounds after the two of them, yapping quietly to himself and keeping pace with them with a happy expression.

While Harold and Tremor go on their way, Kel’Serrar finds himself another tavern in the opposite direction, Maebh sits with her horse, looking after it, thinking to herself and enjoying the peace and quiet. Breanna on the other hand picks up her marcwolf pup and sits down in the shade of a tree, playing with it and just resting. After all, you never know when another life or death situation might come up, and a little bit of rest couldn’t hurt.

After some time, Tremor ends up leading Harold to the Iron Moon Inn, the very same establishment Tremor was staying in before he met up with the rest of the group. They open the door and hear a gruff voice from inside.

“No dogs allowed in here.” – Barkeep, wiping a tankard.
He looks up and sees the two walk in, missing the marcwolf pup at their feet and apologises.
“Sorry, I thought I could smell wet dog.” – Barkeep, realising that he can in fact smell mankyInvarrian.

Harold and Tremor order a large breakfast, rooms for the use of the baths and glasses of water and brandy to try and see off some of this infernal pain. They set to it, first washing up to be more respectable, Harold feeling sorry for the state of his clothing as he takes his bath, noticing once he starts to take it off that it’s ripped and bloodstained beyond almost all recognition.

All the same, he has nothing else, so he puts the shredded garments back on, hiding the pup in his backpack again. It’s going to be a far more difficult to do this soon as those pups won’t stay small and young forever.

And for that matter, those pups might be cute and friendly now, but without some proper training, they’re going to be vicious predators with no restraint when they grow up. Lucky Harold and Breanna have Animal Training, not so lucky that neither of them is particularly good at it.

After washing up, both come downstairs to eat their breakfasts and get as much fluid as possible into their systems in an attempt to flush out the alcohol. After some time, the marcwolf pup clambers out of Harold’s pack, sitting on the floor next to the Invarrian who reaches down to give the little creature some choice pieces of bacon, which are set upon with cute, slavering ferocity.

-5 penalties now which will hang around for the next three hours in game. This is instead of the -10’s they were dealing with.


The barman looks disapprovingly at the marcwolf but holds his tongue and lets it slide.

Kel’Serrar manages to find the fourth tavern in Summer Hill, the Golden Arrow and orders water and raw meat, garnering him a funny look from the edgy barman. After all, there’s no one else in the common-room apart from the carnivorous Danann and the barman, who looks confused at the savage meal and the distinctly un-manly beverage.

Kel’Serrar is completely unconcerned. After all, what should he care what the barman thinks?

Some off-topic where Wings asks about investing in a business, The Iron Moon in particular.

Heading back to the cart, Harold and Tremor go through what is left of the ‘loot,’ Tremor taking anything he feels he could use in the future, namely a pair of leather bracers. The rest they gather up and look to take it to the marketplace, hoping to find someone to take it off their hands. Unfortunately for them, finding someone who will take this war equipment off their hands in a relatively quiet town is quite difficult, only managing to get rid of a jerkin and the scimitar. Even with a bit of haggling, Harold is unable to get an amount equal to the armour’s worth. That being said, this particular jerkin was EradanBlackstar’s, who after all, was impaled through the jerkin by a Feartarbh horn. And the jerkin hasn’t exactly been cleaned, nor repaired.

Breanna meanwhile sets her pup to sleep after an intense playing session and climbs the tallest tree in the courtyard, ostensibly Kel’Serrar’s tree, before settling down to take a nap.

The party takes inventory again after heading back to the cart with a little extra weight in the pockets. Maebh claims the tower shield they were unable to sell, figuring it might come in handy as a spell component, if not, perhaps it could be used to deflect arrows and the like. Tremor on the other hand takes a chain hauberk, wearing it under his leather jerkin, plus the pair of leather bracers. Only the head of Manius’ maul is left in the cart with no one claiming it for any use.

A bit of out of character discussion regarding whether or not they should take on the bandit camp out to the north, or try and follow on their failed task from yesterday. Looking back on it I wish I had insisted this be in character, as it really should have been, but I slipped up here.

“Alright, we’re going to sort out these bandits then, because they might have something to do with Elspeth and because the bloody Leathe messed up, we still don’t know who needs to die here.” – Harold, summing it all up.

“Well, it’s about time.” – Kel’Serrar, with grim determination.

“I’m so glad you’re excited, because you’re usually so indifferent.” – Dev, slightly sarcastic. We think. 

Anyway, the party heads back to the courtyard to pick up Breanna, Kel’Serrar spotting her in the highest branches of his tree. There was some talk about throwing objects at her to knock her out of the tree, but, well, thankfully they agreed with me that would be stupid.

As it is, Kel’Serrar climbs the tree and shakes the Leathe girl awake, before pushing her out of the tree. Breanna screams as she falls, cursing Kel’Serrar. Luckily for her, Maebh drives the cart underneath the tree, and Breanna tumbles as she lands on the back of the wagon, diffusing most of the impact of her landing. With a quiet laugh, Kel’Serrar drops out of the tree and strides along beside the cart.

And they’re on their way, heading out of Summer Hill once more and back out onto the north road at about mid-morning. Their journey is uneventful, however, looking behind them, Kel’Serrar spots a lean figure in dark red on the road towards Summer Hill. He brings this up with the others, but only Breanna is in a state where she’s able to see the figure. The whole party seems to be advocating killing their follower, but Harold stays his hand.
“Let’s not just jump to conclusions about killing them out of hand.” – Harold, not wanting to become known as the Order of the Murder-Hobo. Surprising really, considering his usual temperament.

“Whoever it is, it’s keeping up with us, right? What if I jumped off and hid in the bushes and followed whoever it is?” – Tremor, thinking deeply.

“Well, I think she’d be better for it than you.” – Harold, pointing at Breanna.
“Or even him.” – Maebh at Kel’Serrar.
“Actually, I think Breanna could do it better than I could.” – Kel’Serrar, shaking his head.
“No I couldn’t! I’m just shorter, why couldn’t you just bend down!?” – Breanna, realising it’s a dangerous situation and trying her best to avoid it.
“Well, I can hide, but she can turn invisible.” – Kel’Serrar, making his case.
“Technically I don’t turn invisible…” – Breanna.
“Still better than what we’ve got.” – Maebh.
“Bugger.” – Breanna.

Breanna is still bitter about her wake-up call, despite the fact that she came out of it smelling like roses.

“After being so rudely asked to do this, I’ll leap off the side and hide in the bushes on the side of the road.” – LD.
“Can you not jump? Could you maybe… slither?” – Wings, tentatively.
“I CAN’T BLOODY SHAPESHIFT! YOU WANT ME TO BE A SNAKE ALL OF A SUDDEN!? BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT!” – LD, ballistic.
She calms down after a bit.
“Fine, I’ll use Shadowskin before I leap off the cart.”

Breanna tenses slightly as she calls up the daemonic entity, getting a good hold on it and starts to drain its power. She then takes the energy and cloaks herself in shadow before sailing through the air drawing attention to herself with her arcing dive, a half-pike double twist with a squeeze of lime, and losing herself amongst the thick undergrowth alongside the road.

She lies in wait as the wagon trundles on towards the overturned carriage. After almost fifteen minutes of waiting, the Leathe can see their follower. She is a tall, young, slender woman with long brown wavy hair and dark eyes. She is wearing a dark red tunic and tall leather boots. She appears unarmed, but it would be folly to walk out on the roads without any protection. She also bears a long, pale scar running down the side of her neck.

As an aside, through the whole description, Ladyhawk is telling the party to, “Kill it.”

As the woman passes Breanna’s hiding place, the Leathe can see that she is definitely following the cart, looking at the tracks the cart and its heavy load have pressed into the roadway. Breanna’s lucky she is so light and the ground so hard-packed that she didn’t leave any readily apparent traces of her passage. Seeing this, the Leathe decides to follow the woman, daggers held ready in her hands.

Almost an hour after Breanna left them, the rest of the party comes across the place where the carriage careened off the road weeks ago. They quickly discuss whether they should blaze a trail and take the wagon with them, or if they should leave it behind, in which case it might be stolen or ruined.

In the end, Maebh unhitches the horse and takes the shield out of the cart, slinging it over her back. Everyone grabs their equipment and supplies, Tremor grabbing Breanna’s and Harold taking her marcwolf pup, before overturning the wagon on the side of the road.

The party then follows the trail which has changed only little since they passed it last, heading towards the overturned carriage, and then past it and onwards to the old marcwolf cave they sheltered in several nights before. The plan is to leave the horse and marcwolves there and set up camp before Harold and Maebh head back to pick up Breanna.
They don’t end up leaving the animals in the cave, but instead take them with them.

Meanwhile Breanna watches as her quarry stalks along the road ahead, eventually coming across the overturned wagon. The Leathe watches as the tall woman bends down to inspect underneath the cart, probably checking if there is anything in it. Knowing that her Shadowskin has already been in use for almost an hour, she uses the last of the daemon's energy to renew her spell.

"Ummm, uh... Can I ask how tall she is right now?" - LD, pondering her next move.
"Her head is at a lower height than yours at the moment." - Me.
"Awesome! Then I'm gonna go slit her throat!" - LD, cheerful.
"WHY!?" - Dev, in agony.
"Well then, maybe, YOU should have gone and hid. You didn't think this through at all did you?" - LD, unrepentant.
"Ah, well, she'll probably miss anyway." - Dev.
"64!" - LD, happily, still getting the hang of the idea of rolling low to succeed....

The Leathe assassin glides across the ground like a dull grey ghost, silent as the grave, knife at the ready, but at the last her strike goes wide, the woman's shoulder raising accidentally as the Leathe moves in for the kill. Breanna's forearm slams into the red-clad woman’s shoulder, who instinctively rises to her feet, pushing backwards into her invisible assailant. Breanna stumbles back, and darts away into the bushes again, hiding from her target.

The woman, looking around frantically, draws a longknife which she holds in an icepick grip and scans the deepening shadows under the forest canopy for her assailant.

Still shrouded in shadow, Breanna waits for about a quarter of an hour before taking up her trusty carving knife. Hefting the small but heavy blade, the Leathe flips it in her hand so she is holding the blade before running up to her target and swinging the hilt with all of her might into the back of the woman's head.

LD takes her first Strength Check to knock the woman out and rolls an 89 failing by sixty-two. Luckily she picked up the Sturdy Trait thanks to her punctual interview, allowing her to re-roll a single Strength or Toughness Checks every day. She rolled again and this time scored a 16, passing by eleven.

The woman in red sinks to the ground with the solid hit, thoroughly unconscious.

Seeing this, Breanna snatches the longknife from the woman’s fingers and darts down the trail in an attempt to chase down her companions, catching up to them in a matter of minutes.

“Harold, I need you to come pick up a body.” – Breanna’s disembodied voice. “Oh right, wait a second.”
She dismisses the Shadowskin.
"I need you to follow me and come pick up this unconscious body.” – Breanna.
“Okay, everyone, I’m going to follow Breanna. We’ll meet you at the cave. Oh, and Kel’Serrar, can I please borrow some rope?” – Harold.
“Only if I have to give it to you.” – Kel’Serrar, grudgingly handing over his rope.
“Thank you. You are a valued member of the team.” – Harold, sort of sarcastic. We think.

The two of them head back to the unconscious woman, Harold still using his staff to keep moving easily. Within ten minutes they come upon the woman who was following them, still sprawled where Breanna’s strike put her down. Harold quickly ties her hands together behind her back, slings her over his shoulder and carries her onwards to the cave, the whole party back together again.

More to come. :smallbiggrin: It just happens to be here. (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15108461&postcount=46")
Here it is.

Once there, the Invarrian takes some rope and lashes the unconscious woman in a sitting position against a large boulder, specifically facing a direction in which she cannot see the horribly mangled corpse Maebh strung up into the trees almost a week ago. He then takes out his drinking bowl.

“Can I get some water in this please?” – Harold, to Maebh.
Silently, the Danann mage sends some water trickling out her hands and into the drinking utensil.

Taking the now full bowl, Harold walks over to the tied up woman and splashes it on her face, drenching her upper body. She wakes up spluttering, scared and obviously with a massive headache.

Dev considers asking the rest of the group to leave the immediate area here.
“Well, we’re not interrogating her.” – Harold.
“What are you going to do then?” – Maebh.
“Uh, I was thinking charming her.” – Harold.
Everyone cracks up.
“OH FOR THE LOVE OF CRAP!” – Harold, exasperated.
“I’ll get the bandages….” – Kel’Serrar, resigned.
“You’ve tied her to a boulder, how charming could you possibly be?”
“I want to hear this played out actually.” – Sins.

The others back off a small distance, but all of them are within earshot and Kel’Serrar has an arrow nocked and ready.

“I am sorry about my associate knocking you out. I had no choice in the matter. What’s your name?” – Harold, putting on his best ‘I’m a sweet, lovable dog-man, not a vicious killer,’ voice.

“Can you let me go first?” – Red-clad woman, eyes darting from side to side.
Slowly, steadily so as not to startle her, the Invarrian reaches across and unties the ropes. Despite this, he is still somewhat wary, hand on the hilt of one of his swords.

“My name is Dhara.” – Dhara, smiling with just a little more goodwill than before.

A Southlander name.

“So why were you following us Dhara?” – Harold, gently.
“Oh, I saw you in Summer Hill and thought there was something suspicious about the Harvest Wolf. I saw your performance there yesterday and I realised that we were on the same side. So I wanted to come and meet with you, share information and find out what you know about this business.” – Dhara, earnestly.

“Well, why don’t you tell us what you know first, and then we’ll tell you?” – Harold.
“Well, I’m afraid I really don’t know that much. I’ve only recently found an interesting correlation between Morgaris Shylocke and Petyr Rangard. I think they might be working together on something which bodes ill for Summer Hill.” – Dhara.

“Hmm, now that adds up with why Rangard would want that Focus Stone. I mean, they are trying to summon a giant daemon, a Focus Stone would help.” – Kel’Serrar.

“This is true.” – Harold, to Kel’Serrar. He turns back to Dhara. “We were actually hired by Rangard. Unfortunately, we are not sure what is actually happening, but for now we’re just trying to get some information. There is a bandit camp in the area. We’re trying to find it.”

“Ah yes, I know of this bandit camp. A notice was actually put up in the area about a month ago, warning the town as a whole that bandits were in the area. They should be just to north-west of here.” – Dhara, nodding. She’s trying to helpful.

“Breanna, I believe you have her knife.” – Harold, holding his hand out expectantly. Breanna hands it over. Holding the blade of the longknife in his hand, the Invarrian offers the woman back her knife.

“Why thank you. I didn’t think I’d ever see it again when I woke up without it.” – Dhara, sheathing the blade in the scabbard down her leg.

“You’re coming with us to the bandit camp. I think we’d all appreciate it if you would watch our backs for us.” – Harold, using his staff to push back to his feet.
“That’s good, I’m happy to help. I have a feeling you’re all working towards the good of Summer Hill.” – Dhara, also getting to her feet, a little unsteady due to the headache.
“Okay, we’re moving out.” – Harold, to the rest of the party.

The group heads out in a north-west direction, pushing out into the wilds in the vague direction of the bandit camp they know is out there. After some time, Tremor heads off further to the west, thinking to flank the camp. Before he leaves, Harold hands him one of his shortswords.

As they walk, Breanna approaches Dhara.
“You know, I’m really sorry you got mugged by that really weird Leathe guy who just showed up told me I could have his knife. When I asked where he got it from, he said from an unconscious girl down the road.” – Breanna, failing her Deception Check.

“No that’s okay, I know why you had to do it.” – Dhara smiling, though rubbing the back of her head.
“How did you know it was me!?” – Breanna, indignant.

Tremor, by himself, is as wary as he can be, scanning the treeline. He is rewarded for his efforts when he spies a flet in the branches of a tall tree. He knows from experience that this platform would be manned by two sentries as part of the picketline. He looks around for a way further in without alerting the camp, but he finds nothing.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group spots another flet in the tress ahead of them, even in the failing light. Breanna’s keen eyes strain, but as far as she can tell, no one is standing on it.

“Hmm, so you guys can’t see anyone up there?” – Harold.
“No.” – Kel’Serrar and Breanna.
“Okay then, go up there and kill them without them knowing you were here.” – Harold, to Breanna.
She struggles with a daemon and puts her Shadowskin back on while Harold unclasps his cuirass and hides it behind a tree, thinking to allow him to walk a bit quieter.

Breanna, sneaking through the undergrowth, scales the tree silently, a dark and deadly ghost. She clambers up onto the flet and looks around wildly, daggers held at the ready.

There is no one there.

“Roughly what time is it?” – Sins.
“About six in the evening.”
“THEY’RE ALL ASLEEP!” – Wings. The way he said it was hilarious. Might be one of those things you have to be there for.

From her new vantage point, Breanna looks around and can see a few more flets up in the trees, but none of them appear to be in use.

A passed Intelligence Check from Breanna confirms that she knows that the setup of flets is a picket line. But only Kel’Serrar picks up that this is an unusual level of organisation for a woodland bandit camp.

“We should probably all be together for this.” – Harold, quietly. Kel’Serrar nods in agreement.
“I’ll get Tremor then.” – Kel’Serrar, who slinks off into the undergrowth to find the engineer.

Tremor, hunkered down and watching the flet he found, finds Kel’Serrar materialising out of the undergrowth to his right. After a short, relatively cordial discussion, Tremor and Kel’Serrar head back to the rest of the group to find out what Harold wants him for.

While Kel’Serrar’s finding the dwarf, Harold silently beckons Breanna down.

“What’s the situation Breanna?” – Harold.
“There’s absolutely nothing up there. I could see quite a few platforms, but nothing on them. No people, no weapons, nothing. They must all be asleep or something.” – Breanna.

Taking a deep whiff of the air, Harold finds that he can’t seem to pick up any smells which would indicate recent habitation. It looks as if the bandits have moved on.

But there is one smell which does stand out, faint, but definitely there.

I ask Harold to make an Intelligence Check to see if he can put it all together.
“Oh good, I have a good Intelligence score!” – Dev, happily.
Snickers erupt from the group.
“It’s true, I do!” – Dev, indignant.
“What is it then?” – Sins.
“42.” – Dev.
Silence.
“Wow.” – Wings.
“How….. Are YOU smarter than ME!?” – LD.
To put it in perspective, Maebh’s is the second highest on 36. Tremor’s is still mid-twenties, but he is a level below the others. Breanna has no such excuse.

Suddenly Harold’s mind clicks the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s a Danann scent, but it’s neither of the two he’s been travelling with. This scent is too raw and strong. This is a different smell of death and decay.

As Kel’Serrar and Tremor appear from amongst the trees, the Invarrian prepares to move.
“I want you to stay here please. We’ll come back for you, but this could be dangerous.” – Harold, to Dhara. She nods in reply and silently takes the horse’s guide-rope from Maebh.
Waving the party onwards silently, Harold leads the way along the overgrown woodland track, quietly sneaking past a few more abandoned flets. After a few minutes of this, they reach a clearing.

The centre of the clearing is a blackened circle, roughly six feet across, ringed with stones and filled with ash a charred wood. It would seem to be a rudimentary fire pit. Kel’Serrar walks over to it and surmises it hasn’t been used in at least a week.

There are several bare patches in the grass on the ground where it is likely tents were pitched, but they are gone now.

Aside from those patches and the fire pit, there is nothing in the clearing which suggests habitation, no signs of life in the immediate vicinity.
“Let’s look for tracks, shall we?” – Tremor, rubbing his hands together.

After a short time, they find some old, faint human-ish tracks, milling around. Maebh is particularly lucky, noting a large and very strange paw-print.
“Aww no, not another marcwolf!” – Dev.
“Actually, this is bigger than the average marcwolf’s print….” – Ominously…..
“Oh crap, a grizzly bear!” – Dev….

The party clusters around the print, but none of them can identify the creature. From the facing of the print, it appears to be heading in an approximately southerly direction. Worryingly, the most recent human tracks all seem to be going in the same direction, a beeline straight for the road.

“Maybe we should get Dhara. You never know, she did follow us, she might be good at this sort of thing.” – Tremor.
Admittedly, there is a big difference between following a few minutes behind a loud, noisy group of adventurers in a cart in the middle of the day and following faint, week-old tracks in the undergrowth, but at least he was being logical.
“Fair enough. I’ll go see if she will have a look.” – Harold, nodding in agreement.
Harold heads back to the first flet to go get her.

He fetches her, even in the fading light and brings her back to the clearing. Harold shows her Maebh’s paw-print and even in the darkness can see by the widening of her eyes that she has some sort of recognition.
“I’m not seeing much here.” – Dhara, shrugging ruefully.
“She lied, kill her.” – Ladyhawk.

“Well… Let’s see if there’s any clues to be found back in that cave.” – Harold.
He takes Maebh and Dhara with him, probably not thinking it safe to leave Dhara unsupervised.

Meanwhile the others keep looking around the abandoned campsite, but by now the light is failing and they can’t find anything of use. Tremor swiftly gives up on that and instead looks for herbs and other plants to harvest, thinking to start up an alchemy/apothecary business on the side once he can settle down a bit.

Having climbed into the nearest flet to the clearing, Kel’Serrar peers down at the ground with his keen eyes. While he finds nothing in terms of physical evidence, his predator senses tell him that there is some sort of pattern and control to the chaotic mass of tracks. He sits back against the tree, eyes closed, and ponders the nature of this chaos.

Meanwhile, Harold, Maebh and Dhara are walking back to the cave. Scanning the ground, Maebh notices a single trail of human tracks leading directly into the cave, fairly fresh and light. As far as Maebh can tell, whatever made this did so within the last two days.

As it is quite dark now, Harold asks Maebh to go hunting to get some dinner. While she does so, he gathers up some dry wood to serve as fuel for a fire. Dhara meanwhile just looks lost, staring up into the trees at something. It takes a while for Maebh to remember that she had strung a flayed man in those very branches just a week prior.

While all this is happening, Tremor gathers up some wood of his own and starts a fire in the abandoned fire pit while Breanna gathers up some berries and other fruits of the forest. Kel’Serrar meanwhile continues to ponder.
“I’m just going to do all the important stuff. You know, start a fire, go to sleep, wash clothes…. I don’t think I got the order right.” – Tremor, to much laughter.

It takes him a while, but Kel’Serrar actually thinks he recognises the pattern. His mind takes him back to some years ago, another bandit camp and a certain escapade with an old companion.
“Oh no….” – Sins.
He can tell from the movement of the prey in this instance that this is the hallmark of a predatory tactic he and Chirya worked on together. However, it would only work with more than one hunter, leaving him with a disturbing thought.

She had replaced him.

And on his way back down the tree, he sees the proof he didn’t need for himself, but for the others. In the elegant script of the Danann Cainte, the letter ‘C.’

Harold on the other hand, for some reason, not wanting to go into the cave anymore, starts to head back along the forest trail, bundle of sticks in hand with Dhara and Maebh with a brace of dead rabbits alongside him.

From their right, echoing menacingly through the shadow shrouded woodland comes a deep, rumbling growl.
"Oh lovely." - Ladyhawk.
Maebh immediately turns to her right, peering into the gloom while Dhara positions herself so that Harold stands between her and whatever is in the undergrowth.

"Keep moving, but slowly. And keep an eye out." - Harold, under his breath.
As soon as he takes his first step, an arrow whistles out of the night, brushing so close to the side of his face he feels a slight tingle from its passage. It embeds itself in the trunk of a tree behind him.

Only his sudden sideways movement saved his life.

"RUN!" - Harold, bellowing to the others and dropping his bundle of firewood.
Together, they bolt back to the camp along the trail.
Behind them, they hear a terrifying, thunderous roar. It is so loud that even the rest of the party in the clearing can hear it, causing both Kel'Serrar and Breanna to hide, one in a little more panic than the other. And it wasn't Breanna keeping calm.

Meawhile, Maebh has started to pull ahead of both Harold and Dhara, the Invarrian due to his injury and the Southlander due to simple anatomy. The Danann has longer legs and a predator's body, built like a wolf. 

Tremor stands behind a tree, borrowed shortsword clenched tightly as he prepares to attack whatever his chasing the rest of the party. Obviously Wings hasn't realised that selfless acts are thinly spread in this group.

Breanna meanwhile is hiding in amongst a large clump of berry bushes, nervously eating as she waits to see what is coming down the path. Kel'Serrar stands in his flet from earlier, pressed against the tree and trusting his cloak and the shadows. Looking down the path, Maebh can be seen, running full-pelt towards the fire. She reaches it and turns around, purple threads of magic crackling to life in her hands as she readies herself to face off against whatever was chasing them. As she does so, she can see Harold and Dhara pass Tremor's hiding place almost simultaneously, the Invarrian hobbling now after his initial burst of speed, his injuries having re-opened (again). She also sees Tremor with his sword, standing ready with his back against the tree.

Tremor's heart is racing. He knows that whatever comes down this path next will be the beast that loosed that monstrous roar. He is ready. To fight or to die.

But nothing happens. Silence surrounds them, broken only by the crackle of fire and their ragged breathing.

Hunched over, fighting back a scream of agony, Harold draws his other shortsword over his shoulder and offers it to the slightly built Southlander beside him. She nods her thanks, takes the blade and draws her own dagger with her other hand, her back to the fire. Harold meanwhile, gasps with pain and slowly, carefully draws forth his sabre. It's edge is pitted he has neglected it over the past few days, but it is the best weapon he has. He too stares down the trail, waiting for the monster that was so close to them only moments before.

And then the debate about the pronunciation of dance and nectarine came up again and totally screwed over any tension I had worked hard to develop. Ah well.

Kel'Serrar takes an arrow from his quiver and quietly nocks it to his bow, hoping to remain in hiding.

"Kel'Serrar, do you have any idea what that was!?" - Harold, breaking the silence with his ear-splitting shout.
Kel'Serrar rolls his eyes, but doesn't answer, not wanting to give away his position.
The echo of Harold's shout fades away in the forest and he thinks better of trying to yell out again.

A little bit of discussion about Tremor's background when Wings asks if there's any chance the dwarf has heard of anything like this in his travels. We decided that where Tremor could well have travelled extensively up in the north, there is very little likelihood that he would know very much about the southern lands.

Harold takes a very deep whiff and recognises the smell. Death, decay, wet fur.... He's smelt this before, in the wagon on the way back to Summer Hill, but he was never able to place it.

Where she lies in wait in the bushes, Breanna hears quiet rustling from the undergrowth behind her. And then a low, resonating growl.

Breanna, calling on her magic tries desperately to get her message across without giving away her position. In her haste she loses control of the magic, and suddenly, her fingernails turn black and many of her blood vessels burst. She whimpers quietly in pain, but stifles it swiftly. Sadly, Phantom Noise is not able to deliver anything but two word messages.

The words "CHECK FRUIT!" echo around the clearing in a shrieking, keening tone, one which the party immediately recognises as their Leathe companion in a great deal of anxiety. However the meaning of the phrase is lost on them.... Except Tremor. 

And we left it there....

The Wrap-Up:
Sorry that took so long to do, I was really struggling to find time to do it. So once again, 1:06 in the morning and I have university tomorrow morning.

Not much of a wrap-up this time round, but I can say that the next session is scheduled for the 26th of April, which might just give me enough time to get material sorted out for them. And maybe finish the Engineer advance options. :smalltongue:

Cheers and thanks for reading,

Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 01:47:56 AM
Session 2.3: And Now For Something Completely Different

Welcome to Session 2.3 of Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword.

As we know, the party -

“For the sake of the recording I’d like to point out that we all lost The Game and you just did too.” – Sins.

Ahem…

As we know the part is being harassed by an, as yet, unseen bestial menace. Maebh, Harold and Dhara have been chased down the woodland path, sprinting as fast as they can to avoid both arrow and beast, before finally coming to a halt with backs to the blazing fire Tremor has built. The Dwergar himself stands with his back to a tree, borrowed blade at the ready, prepared to face down whatever was following the others.

Kel’Serrar meanwhile stands up in his tree-top flet, scanning the darkness for movement, while Breanna huddles in the shadows of some fruit bushes.

From behind her she hears a low, rumbling growl, prompting her to draw the attention of the party to where she hides.

“CHECK FRUIT!” – Breanna’s piercing magical shriek.

As so we come to Tremor, who alone of the party has the presence of mind to do anything about the Leathe’s cry.

“What?” – Tremor, looking around the area, pondering what the voice could be asking of him. Effectively wasting his free action.

Unfortunately for Breanna, the only person aware that the bushes actually contained fruit was Breanna herself. The others were all doing important things while she was stuffing her face with berries.

The bushes explode with violence and a bone-rattling roar. Something goes for Breanna, something she can’t see in the darkness, but she is aware enough of its proximity that she is able to flip out of the way with exceptional ability.
 
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

In the end she just flips out of the bushes and into the cleared area.

The sudden movement draws Kel’Serrar’s eye, who prepares a Flaming Arrow. After contemplating the situation for a moment, he draws back and literally fires, blazing a path through the bushes. In a recurring theme for Kel’Serrar, his blind-shot was effective, and a pained roar rings out through the bushland. Whatever he hit retreats further into the forest.

“Any idea what that was Kel’Serrar?” – Maebh, slightly panicked.
Unsurprisingly, the ranger does not respond.

An angry shout is heard and a rain of arrows falls upon Maebh, Harold and Dhara, but the range and uncertain light mean that only one scrapes a gouge in Dhara’s calf and another slams into Maebh’s upper arm.

“Give up the tree-girl and I might let the rest of you live!” – Feminine voice, followed by ominous laughter.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

“First question. Who the hell are you!?” – Maebh, shouting out to the darkness.
“It doesn’t matter.” – Feminine voice, followed by more low, ominous, mocking laughter.

“I think I’m going to send out a fireball as a bit of a warning shot. Kind of like, “Don’t mess with me bitch.” – Ladyhawk.
“So this is a bit like a ‘Legolas-Gimli’ warning shot is it?”

With a slight growl, Maebh lets go of her readied Bladewall and blazes a flaming trail into the bushes with a Flare. She is greeted with more mocking laughter.

“Should have gone with a bigger ball of fire.” – Maebh, to herself.

Tremor hefts his borrowed sword and runs into the undergrowth, thinking to loop around the hidden archer’s position. On the opposite side of the clearing, Kel’Serrar drops from his vantage point and sneaks around the northern edge himself, although this is less from a desire to find the archer, and more to get in a hidden position.

Breanna, standing in the open, calls up a daemon and cloaks herself in shadows again, falling into the dark embrace with a feeling of optimistic familiarity. Maebh, still near the fire, clads her skin in golden magical plates, provided herself with some form of protection against stuff that wishes to hurt her.
Sins used the opportunity to say ‘massive-bone-scythe-flaming-claws’ three times with considerable speed. He was commended on it, though I don’t think any of us really knows what made him think of it.

Harold meanwhile, rips yet more cloth from his already tattered garments to bind the bleeding wound in Dhara’s leg. Maebh snickers at the obvious pain the woman is in, despite it being a rather small wound.

Tremor, short legs stumping through the undergrowth feels a slight chill as he realises he doesn’t know where the archer is. And then three arrows spit out of the darkness at him. One flies over his shoulder, the archer obviously used to shooter taller opponents, however the other two thud into his chest. The first is mainly turned aside by the leather jerkin, however the other digs deep into the flesh. Tremor takes 7 Damage in all. Angered by this attack on him, the Dwergar snaps the arrow-shaft, tosses it into the bushes and continues his relentless forwards movement.

Breanna too works her way into the bushes, seeing Tremor tracking his way through the undergrowth.

This amused me because it demonstrated to me that the group actually was quite interested in the situation.
“Okay, Perception Checks from Breanna and Kel’Serrar. Oh and Tremor too.”
“Can I do it anyway?” – Ladyhawk.
“Yeah sure, if you just want to roll some dice.”
Dice are rolled.
“Ah bugger.” – Wings, who failed.
“Aww.” – LD, who had also failed.
Various sounds of disappointment from the group as a whole.
“So no passes?”
“Ah! No, I passed with Danann Senses!” – Sins, going through his Traits and Talents.
“Ooh, what does that do? +5% to Perception Checks? Then I passed too.” – Ladyhawk, happily.
“I got a 03!” – Dev, also happily.

With those passes and such enthusiasm for the game, where I literally sat for a minute as they worked out whether they had succeeded without asking me if they had or not, I realised that the group had finally grasped the system itself, which is a great moment as a game designer. So despite not originally intending to count Harold’s and Maebh’s attempts, I did provide them with some information too.

Harold sniffs the air and can still smell rotting flesh and charred meat. Whatever the beast was earlier, it is still around.

Maebh meanwhile, can hear rustling in the bushes as several things move around. People, beasts, friends or foes, she cannot tell, but the darkness behind the treeline hides much detail, even from her keen sight.

Kel’Serrar looks ahead and can see ahead of him, a glint of metal in the moonlight. He assumes it must be an arrowhead. But crucially says nothing.

Tremor, still charging headlong through the undergrowth never sees them coming. Three arrows, two of which slam into his chest once more, and another which hits him in the thigh. He ends up taking a total of 12 Damage. He falls over onto his back, choking on blood and soaking his beard in it. The rest of the group hear his shouts of pain and agony, and Kel’Serrar and Breanna are both near enough to help, but neither of them are very selfless. At all.

Harold heads out towards the shout, heedless of the danger. He starts out trying to run, but eventually devolves into hobbling due to his earlier exertions.

From the direction the arrows came from, Breanna finally sees their tormentor. A tall, painfully thin, almost ghost-like figure in the darkness, cloaked and wielding a recurve bow.

“My early optimism of this fight has just gone down the tube!” – Dev.
“So it’s gone right where it belongs, somewhere in the realm of standard.” – Sins.

Breanna charges towards the figure and takes to her with the carving knife. And for the first time in memory, was actually successful. The excessively sharp blade slams into the archer’s leg.

“Does she scream?” – Ladyhawk, sadistic.
Small silence….
“She’ll do well in my campaign.” – Dev.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

And yes, there’s a yelp of pain. The archer attempts to backhand the Leathe’s face, but misses completely and runs.

Maebh just laughs in a mocking manner, trying to provoke anger, just because she’s angry herself. Kel’Serrar meanwhile succeeds brilliantly when it comes to patching up Tremor, finding a few herbs in the immediate area which can be used to numb the pain. Tremor is stabilised and the bleeding is more or less stopped, but the dwarf is by no means feeling much better.

They head back to the cart on the road, wanting desperately to get back to the town. Tremor is slung over the horse’s back, as he is certainly not in a position to be able to walk.

Harold goes around and takes his swords back from both Dhara and Tremor, but neither of them are necessarily completely happy about it, although Tremor’s a bit too far gone to complain and Dhara realises her position is tenuous.

Stressed out as they are, it takes the party a fair bit of time to get back to the main road, where their overturned wagon sits. Straining and struggling, Harold eventually manages to lift the cart, but in doing so opens up one of the more serious wounds he received against MacSilver. They also dump Tremor into the back of the cart.

Dawn arrives while they are on the road and it is not until after midday after a sleepless night of travel that they head back through the gates of Summer Hill, somewhat worse for wear. For the first time since they’ve been in Summer Hill, there’s a watch set at the gate. The watchmen merely nod at the group, friendly enough, they don’t stop the party, but all the same, they have not been there before.

“I blow them to shreds.” – Ladyhawk.
“You nod at me? DIE!” – LD, sarcastic and to much laughter.
“I’m sorry, I take that back. They seem nice.” – Ladyhawk.
“She’s going to do REALLY well in my campaign.” – Dev.
“You greeted me with friendliness? DIE! You dress up as a rabbit? DIE!”

Kel’Serrar finds his tree and sleeps in it, pondering the nature of this business and thinking over what he knows of Chirya.

Harold and Tremor find someone who will patch up their injuries, staggering and half-dead as they are. The man they find usually sells ‘healing potions’ and the like, but he is capable of sewing up their wounds. Between the two of them, they pay thirty sulvers, which is twenty less than the original offer. Dhara excuses herself early to go find someone who can patch up her admittedly lesser injury.

Now that he is capable of walking without assistance, Tremor goes looking for an animal breeder, someone who can sell him a creature which he can lavish attention on. He finds one bloke in the surrounding farmlands who breeds dogs for the whole area.
“You really want to find Harold’s parents?” – Sins, cracking us all up. Even Dev found it amusing.
Tremor has a look, but he’s really after something smaller and leaves empty-handed. He spends the next hour or so running through the forest trying to find a “weird and unnatural rodent” to make a pet of. After some time he eventually finds a clearing with a small herd of about ten capail (Propaleotherium (http://"http://www.abc.net.au/beasts/evidence/prog1/images/evi_propaleotherium_large.jpg")), but his sudden movement startles them and they bugger off soon enough. Eventually he ventures back to town, disappointed, but at the same time inspired. After all, why make friends if he can literally make friends….

Harold meanwhile goes to the market district, obtaining new clothes and getting the nicks and chips in his swords fixed up. After that he gets his armour fixed up too, depositing his cuirass and hauberk. He waits in the Harvest Wolf for the armourers and weapon-smiths to finish their work, keeping an eye out for anyone who might be suspicious. He is to be disappointed and leaves.

Breanna finds an inn where she hopes to obtain some food. She eventually ends up at the Iron Moon, whose barkeep doesn’t approve of dogs. He is about to inform the Leathe as such as he looks up, but takes in her unnaturally bouncy, happy gait and assortment of knives and decides that it isn’t worth it. He turns back to wiping one of the tankards and takes her order, which is bread and ham, the latter of which she feeds to her marcwolf pup on the floor. Breanna, like most Black Magic users, gives off a distinct aura of wrongness. When added to her overly cheerful persona, it is VERY off-putting. The bartender knows that one moment she could be happily cutting her meat, the next, happily cutting his throat. And her marcwolf pup, which is now approaching sheltie size, is on hand to dispose of any evidence….

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

After her afternoon tea, Breanna finds a nice shady tree and sits beneath it, playing with her marcwolf, quietly so as not to wake Kel’Serrar.

Lastly, Maebh unhitches the horse from the wagon and leads it through the township, looking for someone who can patch her up, but her investigations lead her to an old dwelling at the edge of the town, owned by an interesting woman, Old Maggie. She is known for her skill in herblore and when she opens her door and sees the mage standing there looks very concerned and immediately brings her inside, applying salves with a great deal of skill and speed. Maebh immediately feels better as the medicine dulls the pain from the magical burns she forgot she was feeling.

After applying the salve, the woman suggests Maebh rest and kindly offers her the bed. A few hours later, Maebh comes down and offers five sulvers, three of which Old Maggie eventually takes, leaving the other two.
“Keep them, you’ll need them more than I.” – Old Maggie, cryptically.
“Oh yay, crypticism!” – Dev, making words up again.
After leaving Old Maggie, Maebh finds some craftsmen and obtains a saddle and tack for her horse. She then spends the rest of the afternoon getting the horse used to the riding gear.

They rendezvous at the courtyard where they left the cart and Kel’Serrar, before deciding that visiting Rangard might be a good idea.
“I’d like to point out that our little red-clad friend has not come back.” – Kel’Serrar, pointedly referring to Dhara.
“Wait, what did we tell her?” – Breanna, worried.
“Nothing too much, but she has bailed.” – Kel’Serrar.
“Well, she hasn’t necessarily bailed.” – Harold.
“She said she’d find a healer and meet up with us again. She’s not here and it’s been a whole afternoon.” – Kel’Serrar.
“She’s bailed.” – Tremor.
“Yeah, she’s bailed.” – Harold, conceding the point.

While they’re discussing this, Rangard himself shows up, his many eyes having informed him of the party’s return.
“So, how did you go?” – Rangard, referring to the investigation of the Harvest Wolf.
“In a word, crap.” – Harold.
“I have some news for you. I sent Meldith after your own assassin the other day when you went to the Harvest Wolf. She tells me that Shylocke was seen fleeing the premises. He must be working against us, though not necessarily with the actual cult itself. It might be worth having a look at his manse.” – Rangard, after laughing at Harold’s reply.
“Thank you for the information, we’ll take it from here.” – Harold.
Rangard nods his acquiescence and walks away.
Ladyhawk suggest blowing him up as he walks off.

Harold details a plan involving Breanna breaking into the back of the house with Kel’Serrar providing overwatch. Maebh, Harold and Tremor were going to hold Shylocke’s attentions, hopefully stopping him from noticing Breanna’s investigations.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

“Would there be any people in there?” – Breanna, wondering just how sneaky she’ll need to be.
“I’d say yes.” – Harold.
‘There’d be servants. He’s wealthy.” – Kel’Serrar.

Harold goes in search of a beggar in a back-alley. Maebh just happens to go along with him. Before they go, Breanna stops the Invarrian and flips him three sulvers to give to the beggars as payment. After a moment’s delay, she tags along anyway.

Kel’Serrar goes off to scout out the target’s house, looking around and figuring out the general layout of the manse, while staying inconspicuous. He finds the place in the Merchant District. The manse is quite large, of similar scale or even larger than Rangard’s, two stories and constructed of wood. The second story is considerably smaller than the ground level, probably only one room. He can see there are two large closed and obscured by curtains dominating the front of the house. It seems that the place is empty at the moment.

The street is also deserted, the time being such that everyone is enjoying their evening meals, either inside their own houses or out in the town proper. Thus it is easy for Kel’Serrar to remain unnoticed. He also finds two good vantage points, one on the roof of the dwelling on one side, the other at the window of the second story house on the other side, which would probably require breaking into the house.

Tremor meanwhile has obviously been affected by his recent near-death experience and walks down into the Merchant District himself. He too finds Shylocke’s house and knocks on the door.

Harold finds himself a beggar, huddling in destitute poverty. The man looks up at the Invarrian and Harold can detect a glint of both anger and fear in his eyes. Harold takes one of Breanna’s sulvers and flicks it over his fingers.
“There’s a sulver in it for you if I can get some information.” – Harold, trying to barter.
“What do you want from me, dog?” – Beggar, and not in the Randy Jackson meaning of the term. At least I think its Randy Jackson. The bloke from American Idol. I don’t know, I don’t watch television much.
“Anything you might know about Morgaris Shylocke.” – Harold.
“What do you think I’d know about him?” – Beggar.
“Anything you little twerp.” – Maebh, over Harold’s shoulder, sitting astride her horse. She had moved up beside him while the Invarrian was talking.
“Shh.” – Harold, before turning back to the beggar.  “Beggar’s eyes are everywhere.”
“What are you trying to say?” – Beggar, getting angry again.
“That you know things most-“ – Harold, placating.
“Do I look like a beggar to you!?” – Beggar, very angry.
Silence…
“Yes…” – Harold, slightly amused.
The beggar hunkers down where he has made his own little dwelling in this little alley and refuses to give any further information.
“My turn.” – Maebh, dismounting. Harold shrugs, turns and walks away.
The mage picks the man up by the throat and shoves him up against the wall. The wiry Danann is easily strong enough to do so, not letting the squirming man loose. In her other hand she calls up a tongue of flame and holds it up to the beggar’s face.
“Now you should answer the questions my friend just asked you. Because I want to know too.” – Maebh, intimidating.
“He didn’t ask me anything!” – Beggar, thoroughly scared.
“I burn him.” – Ladyhawk. And it’s official, Maebh just took a dive into the deep-end of the alignment pool. If Norbayne had one.
The Danann presses the flame into his cheek and revels in the scent of burning flesh and his screams of pain.
“Honestly! He just wanted information on Shylocke! The merchant!” – Beggar, through agonised shrieks.
“Oh right. Sorry about that.” – Maebh, taking the flame away, and at least having the decency to look sort of apologetic.
“Now tell me everything.” – Maebh.
The beggar says straight out that he finds it unbelievable that they ask about pretty much the richest man in town and expect just about the poorest to know everything about him, but he gives what he can, scared of the wild-woman with her fire.

He tells them that the merchant is unmarried and has a business rivalry with Rangard, one that has escalated since Rangard’s company became dominant in the region. Somewhat less of him has been seen in recent times too.

Maebh sets him back on the ground and flicks him two coppers before mounting up and riding away.
“I’ve given up on the beggars, with them being *******s.” – Dev.
“And, I’m better at it than you.” – Ladyhawk, smug.
“No, I was being nice.” – Dev, defensive.
“It’s like good cop bad cop. Except your harassing defenceless beggars. You know, old men in cardboard boxes.”
“It’s like bad cop, worse cop.” – Sins.
“Hey I was offering him money if he’d help us.” – Dev, still defensive.
“You’re a six foot tall dog man, armed to the teeth, standing over him in a dark alley and flicking coins at him.”
“Heads you live, tails you die!” – Wings.

The Invarrian, Leathe and Danann head off towards the manse, and as they arrive, they come to the realisation that something awful is happening….


Told you so. :smallwink:

Cut to Tremor, who is knocking on the door to Shylocke’s manse. Eventually it is opened by a servant, who looks out. And then down.
“What?” – Servant, not appreciating this interruption to his servant duties.
“Hi.”  – Tremor, presumably about to say something more.
The door is slammed in his face.
“I don’t like him. I’m going to knock down the door.” – Wings.
Tremor sets his boot to the door, but the sturdy wood resists his attempt to break through and he can hear an amused snort from the other side. So the Dwergar turns to other methods. He backs up onto the road and then charges at the door, using his body as a veritable compact battering ram, smashing a massive rent in the bottom half of the door, his momentum carrying him through into the greeting hallway. The servant, with a stunned look on his face, falls to the side against the wall.  Tremor slaps him in the face.
“That was extremely rude.” – Tremor, angry, yet eloquent.
“Door…. Dwarf….” – Servant, dazed, confused and in no small amount of pain.

Harold looks on as Tremor smashes through the door, bowing his head with the agony of it all.
“Why must I be surrounded by idiots?” – Harold, bemoaning his luck.
“That’s it, I’m casting Flare on him.” – Ladyhawk, with a laugh.
“Which I block, because I am a badass.” – Dev.
*Facepalm*
“Behold! TPK!” – Sins, as if reading from some kind of holy text.

“Breanna, time to go around the back, there’s your distraction.” – Harold, trying to salvage the situation.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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“I pick up the servant and throw him at the others.” – Wings, inordinately proud of this plan.

Picking up the stunned servant, Tremor grabs him the collar of his tunic and swings him around. Crucially, he lets go at the wrong moment and smashes the man head first into the wall of the hallway.

As a side-note, the servant’s neck was broken in the attempt.
“That’s it, I’m going in there and dragging him out by the hair.” – Ladyhawk.
“NOT THE BEARD!” – Dev, channelling Gimli.
“Uh, how will you do that? The door’s still closed and locked.” – Wings.
“You think that’s going to stop me? Fireball!” – Ladyhawk.

And to think that they were just going to send one person in to spy on the place. Now they’ve destroyed his front door, killed his servant and are contemplating setting fire to his house. Good one. Send him a message he will never forget.

“Never have we lived up to our name more.” – Ladyhawk, in a wondering sort of tone.
But she does go inside, to the wonderment of the three surviving servants who are not causing any alarm yet because of the sheer shock of having a dwarf and a Danann mage just suddenly burst through the front door.

Breanna heads around the back and attempts to pick the lock of the door she finds. In her attempt, she unfortunately snaps the tip of her dagger.

“She should just make a hole in the door. It seems to be the new fashion.” – Ladyhawk, to much laughter.
“Yeah, except I’m so weak and frail, I might die.” – LD.
“She’s so weak and frail, she almost broke her wrist trying to pick the lock.”

Meanwhile, back in the hallway,

“What just happened?” – First servant, starting to snap out of the daze.
“Is his neck okay?” – Second servant.
“I’ve never seen a man with his head growing out of his own arse before.” – Idea regarding the third servant’s line.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Resigning himself to the situation, Harold walks up to the front door, drawing his sabre and sighs as he realises he’s going to have to crawl.

“I duck in-“ – Dev.
“You’re going to have to crawl.” – Said with a smile.
“Fine, I crawl in-“ – Dev.
“Oh, good dog.” – Wings, the punch line for the joke we’d been setting up for at least ten minutes.
Harold walks up to Tremor and smashes the basket hilt of his sabre into the back of the Dwergar’s head. Tremor stumbles forward, his rage abating in the face of the Invarrian punching him in the head.

Still mad, but this time at a different target, Tremor bull-rushes the taller Invarrian, trying to grab him, but Harold manages to hold his ground. Wrestling together, neither notice what Maebh is doing.

Before they realise it, they both feel a hard, sharp whack from her spear-haft, one cracking across Harold’s shoulders and the other smashing over Tremor’s head. They stumble apart from each other, Tremor leaning against the wall and nursing his head, which now hurts a LOT.

Back outside, grabbing a rock off the ground, Breanna smashes a back window on her second attempt and climbs inside, finding herself in what she takes for the guest quarters, a large, three part room consisting of a study with a few books worth of reading material, a bedroom and a privy. The guest quarters look like they have not been used for a very long time, if at all.

Breanna looks around and finds several books in the shelves which possess innocuous titles. Certainly nothing suspicious in terms of daemonic cults. So she walks out into the hallway behind the servants, sees the other members of her party, and walks up the staircase at the end of the hallway.

Going up the stairs, Breanna finds herself facing a door. It is a considerable door, heavy and made of hardwood, featuring extensive carvings. It is likely very expensive.
“I want to break it! Dwarven battering ram!” – Wings, to laughter.
Breanna opens the door and deduces quickly that she has come across Shylocke’s personal quarters. A large marble fireplace sits against the west wall, the mantelpiece covered in small mementoes of past experiences, a thick pipe, several small portraits, a decanter of alcohol and a golden time-keeper. Along the other walls is an abundance of bookshelves, proving that he is an extensive reader, though many look as if they have not been removed from their housing in a long time.

Back out in the hallway….
“Would you mind stepping outside for just a few moments please?” – Maebh to the servants, trying to clear the place of innocent bystanders while the other two are not trying to kill each other.
“Uh…. Yeah alright.” – Servants, before walking past the party carefully. After all tonight has gone from bizarre to freaking dangerous, and it can only get worse when the pissed off mage starts throwing fireballs around.
“Good.” – Maebh, once the servants have left. “Let’s go.”
And together, the three of them troop up the stairs to join Breanna.

“Don’t break anything more in here, alright?” – Breanna, to the others.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Having walked into the room, another room can be seen through an access in the wall. A bed takes pride of place there, dark velvet and silk sheets, but aside from the opulent bed, the room is bare, save for the wooden drawers by the side of the bed.

“Have a look in the bookshelves.” – Maebh, before heading over to one herself.
“Particularly, the ones he’s read recently. The ones without dust on them. Let’s get an idea of what he’s been up to.” – Tremor, nursing his head. He’s going to have at least one lump there tomorrow.

In all, they don’t find anything suspicious, thought they do find he has a strange fixation on crime mysteries.
“Oh, I wonder why!?” – LD, seeing this as suspicious.
“Because that’s what we should be doing, and we haven’t been.” – Sins, with a laugh, seeing right through my subtle hint.

Breanna goes into the sleeping area and opens the drawers next to the bed. All she sees is a small stack of blank parchment. But with a bit of scrabbling, she quickly discovers a false bottom in one of the drawers, uncovering two letters.

Quote from: The First Letter

Morgaris,

On behalf of my lady wife, I implore you to move more swiftly in your progress.

R,

Quote from: The Second Letter
Guildmaster Shylocke,

I know not your stance on these matters, but I have some business of importance to bring to your attention. Would you meet with me for repast at the Harvest Wolf on the morrow?

With thanks,
Baronet Edmond Carhold,
The party is aware that Carhold is the Naillish ambassador in Summer Hill.

Breanna takes the letters and reads them where she stands, while Tremor and Maebh continue searching through the bookshelves. Harold looks out the second story window and quickly spies out Kel’Serrar on the next door’s roof. He opens the window and calls over to the Danann.

“Shoot the servants. I’ll explain later.” – Harold, talking only just loud enough the be heard.
Kel’Serrar facepalms by way of response.
“The feeling’s mutual!” – Harold.
Nocking an arrow to his string, Kel’Serrar smashes it through the head of his first target, striking with such speed and precision that the ranger is able to send another shaft on its way before the other two notice. The second servant drops with an arrow through his head and the third finally realises what’s happening and bolts down the road, Kel’Serrar’s third arrow sailing wide. Correcting his aim, his fourth shot takes the man in the top of the leg and pitches him to the ground. He starts to stagger away and looks to be making some ground when Kel’Serrar plants one last arrow through the man’s shoulder and into his chest, killing him.

That was some skilled shooting at some harmless guys. Maebh should be welcoming both Harold and Kel’Serrar into the deep end of the alignment pool around now.

Tremor checks the fireplace for any hidden spaces and notices while fiddling around that both the pipe and alcohol decanter are both attached to one of the marble bricks which makes up the mantelpiece. Using the horn pipe, he lifts the block and finds that inside the block is a recess, within which is a small black book.

“What did the letters say?” – Harold, to Breanna.
She reads the first one to the party.
“Hmm, our employer’s name is Rangard….” – Maebh, thinking suspiciously.

Breanna reads the second letter to the party.
“The meeting they’re talking about is probably the one we broke up.” – Tremor, pondering while flipping through his own find. “Oh wow, listen to this.”

Quote from: The Black Notebook
He was brought before the Queen of Eagles by the Grand Master, who gave Him introduction to the knowledge of the Veil, may He be ever grateful. Her Wisdom gave unto Him great amounts of lustre. He must succeed in overthrowing that cursed upstart. The Hill of Summer needs one who is strong. He is that one.
__________________________________
He met the Grand Master at noon this day, for repast, may He be ever grateful. The time is come.
__________________________________
The Lord of the Gate sits high in his room, plotting to keep his charges awake in the cold. He must be removed, though He has not the resources.
__________________________________
He met the Grand Master upon the twilight of this day, for repast, may He be ever grateful. The Seabear and the Wolfwhaile have been deprived of spark and the Wolfwhaile’s handler has been taken. The Woodwolf knows not where. The experiment has not succeeded and the Lord of Winter remains unconquered.
__________________________________
He was to meet the Grand Master in the afternoon this day, for repast, may He be ever grateful. The Grand Master, in his wisdom, was late to the cup, and He was uncovered by a mite. He fled the scene with the Others in His wake and did sit and wander in the most noble of fashions.
__________________________________
He did report the mite to the Lady, as the Grand Master was not to be seen. Her Ladyship has dispatched her Falcon to see the job done, a Falcon for the Lady of the Queen of Eagles.

__________________________________

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“You know Queen of Eagles, QE, Queen of Elspeth.” – Maebh.
“Isn’t her name Esmerelda?” – Tremor.
“And the symbol of Elspeth is an eagle.” – Breanna.
“I hate riddles.” – Harold.

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Maebh is not having any more luck looking for evidence in the bookshelves, unable to find any false books, nor any false backs in the cabinets.

“We should leave this room, go downstairs and check out the other rooms. I’m thinking there could be another book down there which explains this one.” – Breanna.
“One second.” – Harold.
While the others walk out of the master bedroom, Harold stays behind and checks the bed. Seeing that there is no space beneath the bed itself, he lifts the mattress and flings it up against a wall, ripping back the sheets and pillows. He has no luck finding anything, so he heads back out into the main room and drinks the alcohol in the decanter on the mantelpiece, finds it is a nice, strong whiskey, and then uses Shylocke’s privy.

Maebh heads into the second door on the right from the staircase and finds herself in a long dining room with what seems to be considerably higher ceilings than the rest of the dwelling. The dining room is dominated by the long, richly varnished wooden table in the centre. Many chairs line the table, indicating that the owner is used to accommodating a large number of guests. There is a small fireplace against the east wall and doors to both the north and south, leading to the library and the kitchens respectively. Seeing that it is unlikely for there to be any clues in here, she heads through the northern door and into the library.

The eyes are drawn firstly to the large window built into the front or northern wall of the house, which during the day, lets in a goodly amount of light. The library is a large room with several expensive and comfortable chairs strewn about and a fireplace in the corner. The room appears to have been constructed with the express purpose of accommodating several guests at a time. Bookshelves line the walls and there is a not inconsiderable number of books either within them or scattered around the room in various states of being read.

Maebh once again finds herself searching through recently read books, trying to find something, anything suspicious. Unfortunately she finds very little in that regard, though there are plenty of interesting titles such as The Illustrated Stories of the Man Hunter, The Biography of Brodor Mhorshield and  The Complete Handbook of Etiquette. As can be seen, he has such erratic reading tastes that nothing really stands out as bizarre. He appears nothing more than a bored man with lots of money.
At some point here they try to make me write out a large religious tract and its eighteen subsidiary texts, detailing the Holy Trinity of Gods in the Midlander Triad belief system. I told them to get stuffed and that there’s no way I would hide clues in a book I will never write. Ever.

Breanna meanwhile tries the other last door on the other side of the hallway and finds herself in the servants’ quarters, a long hallway with small cots set up in rows along the walls. The entirety of the servant body lives here when not on duty. Shylocke’s fortunes have begun to wane in recent times, and one of the first spending cuts he had to make was that of the servants. As it is now, the servant body is considerably smaller than it once was, with several of the beds no longer in use.
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The Leathe girl runs through the servants’ quarters, ransacking the place and finding nothing more than a few meagre possessions amongst all the belongings. This doesn’t stop her from flipping the cots over in her haste to find something useful.

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Breanna has look at the fireplace in the room, noting that there are two cast iron torches set into the wall, one on either side of the mantelpiece. This strikes her as passing odd.
“Why would someone put two torches on either side of a fire?” – Breanna, to herself.
She tries to manipulate them in various fashions and eventually finds that she can press the one on the left down and she does so, causing the fireplace to sink slowly and quietly into a recessed pit beneath, revealing a small room beyond.

Hearing the slight noise, the others cluster around Breanna and together they walk inside, minus Kel’Serrar who is still outside. It is dark in here, which is probably why there are more cast-iron torches bracketed to the walls, which Maebh lights with the flame in her hand. Like the previous room, this room too, has many bookshelves, however the eye is drawn first to the large, unornamented round wooden table in the centre of the room which is surrounded by ten chairs. Compared to the opulence of most of the rest of the house, this area is quite sparse. Apart from the table, chairs, books and a small writing desk over in the far corner, the room is practically empty.

Maebh goes to the bookshelves and immediately finds several books on Black Magical theory and daemonic binding.
“We’ve got him now.” – Maebh.
“Uh, maybe give them to Breanna, she does that sort of thing.” – Tremor, breaking the unspoken rule, which is turn a blind eye to Breanna’s shenanigans.
However when Maebh tries to open the books to read them, she finds she cannot. The cover simply will not open, no matter how much she pries.
“The book is resisting! Maybe we should interrogate it?” – Sins.

Tremor walks to the desk and searches it, turning up a quill, an inkwell and some sheets of blank parchment.
"Maybe it wave near the fire Tremor.” – Harold, thinking it might be invisible ink.
Tremor does so, careful not to accidentally set the page on fire, but no writing becomes apparent. It was worth a try.

Tremor leaves the desk and goes to a bookshelf, joining Maebh in her attempts to pry another book open. He is unable to, so just turns it over to look at the cover. It is a large book, bound in dark red leather and locked with a bronze clasp which refuses to be opened. The lettering, engraved into the leather on the front of the book reads, The Daemons of the South: An Account of a Grateful One in Starfall.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Breanna also grabs a black leather book and tries to open it, but she doesn’t have any more success than the others. On the other hand, her proximity to this sort of thing leads her to realise that these books are what they seem. They are really books about daemonic binding and there is a way to open them.

So she decides to summon a daemon to try and open it. The Leathe holds the book in both hands and calls a weak daemon into her before trying to siphon its power into the book. She lays the book on the table and the ephemeral creature sinks into it, causing it to shake violently on the wood. Suddenly there is a bright flash of light which illuminates the room, before fading away, leaving the book still and slightly smoking on the table. Breanna picks it up again, but has no more success in opening it than she did before.

“Do it again, but pick a bigger daemon!” – Tremor, still ignoring the unspoken rule.
“No! I think it’s obvious we’re playing with stuff too far above us here.” – Harold. He’s not wrong at that.
“Well, how about we cut the spine? If we cut it open at the arse-end, all the rest should just spill open right?” – Tremor.
“You want to cut open a daemonically possessed book? – Maebh, questioning.
“Well when you put it like that… Yes, that is what I am suggesting.” – Tremor thinking it through. “Nah, maybe not such a good idea anyway.”

Outside now, Kel’Serrar spies a handful of people making their way down the road and into the district. That would be all the rich people who went out to have dinner in the town itself. He doesn’t want to be discovered, so the Danann ranger drops down from the roof, takes his arrows and flees the scene, heading back to the cart.

Inside, the others realise that they really do need to hurry so they all leave the room. Before he follows the others, Tremor takes the book he picked up earlier and tries to leave. As he crosses the threshold, a wall of bright blue energy flares up in front of him. The Dwergar drops the book immediately and the wall dissipates. He runs through, joining with the others and together they take a circuitous route back to the cart where they find Kel’Serrar waiting for them.

They have completely and utterly ransacked Shylocke’s house. His library was thoroughly searched, with books strewn over the room by the end of it. His secret room was left with the hidden door open, and several books off the shelves. The servant quarters were pretty destroyed, what with Breanna’s searching knocking over cots and strewing possessions across the room. His hallway now has bloodstains and a dead man half embedded in the wall and upstairs, well, not only have the books been thrown around the place, his bed has been torn apart and to add insult to injury, Harold left a parting gift in the privy.
“At least there’s no DNA testing.” – Harold.

“So he is part of the cult?” – Tremor.
“Yeah, definitely looks that way.” – Harold.
“Could the Seabear in this be the Selkye we killed? Also the Wolfwhaile and the Wolfwhaile’s handler…. We did take that man alive, so the handler could be the one who was taken.” – Kel’Serrar, looking over the notebook for the first time.
“Yeah…” – Harold, thinking it over.
“It’s a pity we don’t know when these were written.” – Kel’Serrar, musing over the book.
“No, couldn’t find anything that might give us a date.” – Breanna, preoccupied from where she sits on the cart, scratching out all the different ways there might be hidden code in the text on some pilfered parchment.
“The Lord of Winter remains unconquered… Well they did summon something… The Lord of Winter?” – Kel’Serrar, still reading through.
Silence as the whole group tries to puzzle it out.
“Straws? Clutching? Give me some answers people.” – Kel’Serrar.
“I don’t know.” – Harold, professing ignorance, but still reading through it over the Danann’s shoulder.
“So what do we know? That they’re trying to summon a big daemon, right?” – Maebh, starting from scratch.
“Right, to destroy a town called Summer Hill!” – Tremor, gruff, yet happy.
“Lord of Winter would be a good indication that whatever it is, it isn’t an ally to Summer Hill.” – Kel’Serrar, putting it together.
More silence….
“He and Him must be the same person.” – Tremor, starting over.
“Not necessarily.” – Kel’Serrar.
“How so?” – Tremor.
“They are the same on the one page, but they could be referring to different people across pages. I doubt it, but it could be right.” – Kel’Serrar.
“Hmm, I still think it’s the same person.” – Tremor.

“I think we need to speak with our friend in red.” – Harold, musing.
“Which means we’ll need to leave town.” – Kel’Serrar, snide in an undertone.
“No, we don’t.” – Maebh.
“She knows the town far better than any of us.” – Harold.
“I don’t really care. I don’t like her.” – Maebh, stubborn.
“You don’t really like anyone though.” – Harold.
“I’m fully willing to leave town and go after her, but when some of us die, can any survivors not give away all our gear?” – Kel’Serrar. Not sure if he’s deranged enough to think that his spirit will linger on in his weapons or whether he just doesn’t like the idea of someone else handling his gold.
More silence….

“So our friend in red could be the Falcon or the Lady…” – Tremor, thinking it over.
“The Falcon could also be Chirya, though I don’t think it’s likely she’s working for the queen.” – Kel’Serrar.
“Chirya?” – Harold.
“The bitch who shot me.” – Tremor, vindictively, also indicating that perhaps he too has met Chirya in his past.
“She attacked us.  I think it’s very unlikely she’s not working with the queen, if not for her.” – Harold.
“Well, I do know that we split up because of her intention to speed up the conflict in these lands. So she could well be.” – Kel’Serrar.
And then we quoted the rabbit skit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That was practically the end of the night. Then we discussed the Class Rewards for the Ranger class, namely the one where the Ranger imbues his animal companion with magic, causing it to roar with great strength. Even if it’s a rabbit.

And we left it there....

The Wrap-Up.
I thought this was a good session, despite the utter destruction at the end, caused mainly because I think Wings feels a bit restricted in terms of what his character is capable of. Sadly, he has picked an Engineer, a class I hadn't finished when he joined us, restricting him a bit when it came to picking his Talents and the like. I'm really hoping that his next level up will really help him out here as I have added quite a few new Talents and the like.

Just thought I'd put the theories they came up with regarding the notebook here.

Theories on the Meanings of the Black Book
Him/He: Probably Shylocke. Maybe Rangard. Could be someone else.
Queen of Eagles: Queen Esmerelda of Elspeth.
Grand Master: Maybe Shylocke but probably Rangard. Perhaps someone who hasn’t revealed himself yet.
Knowledge of the Veil:
Her Wisdom:
The Hill of Summer: Summer Hill.
The Lord of the Gate: Maybe Rangard.
The Seabear:
The Wolfwhaile:
Deprived of spark: Either lost the Focus Stone, or dead.
The Wolfwhaile’s handler:
The Woodwolf:
The experiment: Summoning the daemon.
The Lord of Winter: The summoned daemon.
A mite: Breanna Blackrose.
The Others:
The Lady: Perhaps Dhara.
Her Falcon: Either Dhara or Chirya.

They really don't trust Rangard, nor do they believe that there is much chance that Shylocke is being framed. Which doesn't completely add up if Rangard is working with Shylocke... The plot thickens...

Let's see if they get any answers on Friday.
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 01:48:45 AM
Session 2.4: The Infamous Fireball

Welcome to the seventh-

"The Game." - Sins.
"I hate you!" - Ladyhawk, with a laugh.
"We all do." - Wings.

Aargh! Welcome to the seventh session of Three Coins.

They've all well and truly trashed Shylocke’s manse and are now resting in the courtyard behind the White Stallion Inn with the cart, discussing what is happening with regards to the cult and what they plan to do about it. It is late at night, and most of the town is winding up after a long day. On the way back, Tremor stopped off at a tavern and availed himself of a drink.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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A small plan is devised regarding Harold's nobility giving him a good chance with talking to Carhold, a noble in his own right.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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At this point they finally get around to listening to what Maebh had come up with, though they did interrupt her at every turn. While most of it was consolidating what they already “knew,” mainly regarding Elspeth’s Queen being referred to as the Queen of Eagles, she did come up with an important point, namely that the notebook seems to suggest that she wishes to put one of her people in a position of power in Summer Hill.

Tremor suggests that killing the current powerbrokers would be a good move, though admittedly, all of them are suspected Elspeth agents.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Regarding the letters, the only conclusion Tremor came to was that they are painful to decipher, but Kel’Serrar points out that they don’t know who ‘R’ is and while they have suspicions (Rangard), due to the nature of their employment, pointing out their suspicions to him would be a sure way to miss out on payment, plus he could pay off half the town to kill them.

On the other hand, Carhold is definitely a possibility to talk to.

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“If you need to move, let me know in advance. Organise a signal, even if it is really stupid. I care not, so long as it gives me enough time to get a shot off.” – Kel’Serrar, to Harold, discussing the upcoming meeting.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

They go back to talking about speaking to Carhold, mainly using Harold’s nobility to gain entrance, leading to the best pun combo of the night.
“We moustache him a question.” – Sins.
“But I’ll shave it for later.” – Dev.
It was god-awful, but sadly amusing at the same time. [/color]

The overall gist of Harold’s plan is to establish some sort of trading agreement between Naille and Varr. He hit a bit of a snag with Naille being an inland kingdom without any access to the sea, but as you will see later, he works around this rather nicely.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

The decide to break for the night, Kel’Serrar climbing his favoured tree, Breanna pitching one of the, as yet unused tents in the courtyard next to the cart and Harold, Maebh and Tremor head off to rent rooms in some taverns.

Perception Checks passed by Breanna and Maebh.

While pitching her tent, Breanna picks up the distinct smell of smoke. In a predominantly wooden town. As she looks around, startled, she catches Maebh’s eye. She has smelt it too. The two of them tell the others and they move off as quickly as possible towards the red glow in the sky in the direction of the merchant district. As they do, Tremor shouts out in his gruff baritone, warning the township.

“FIRE! FIRE IN THE MERCHANT DISTRICT!” – Tremor, bellowing.

They arrive in the merchant district, pushing their way to the front of the crowd which as gathered to watch as….

Rangard’s house burns down.

There is a handful of people working hard to put the fire out, but Rangard’s manse is beyond saving. The neighbouring dwellings are in little danger any more, teams of servants working hard to contain the blaze, though there are signs that the fire had spread to the other houses before the effort had been organised.

They quickly realise that Maebh’s trickle of water she can create will not be enough to fill the buckets any quicker than getting the water out of the wells.

Harold runs over to one of the firefighters.
“Is there anyone left inside!?” – Harold, over the blaze.
“Not that we know of!” – Servant, beating at the fire with a blanket.
“Can I help!?” – Harold.
The servant tosses the Invarrian his blanket, which is flaming on one corner, and runs off to the stockpile to grab another.
Harold too runs over to the stockpile, dipping the end of the blanket in a bucket to put out the flames before grabbing the bucket itself and throwing the water on the fire, tossing the empty bucket behind him to get it refilled before charging off to fight the blaze.

Tremor too, heads to the stockpile and joins the fight.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Meanwhile, Breanna and Maebh decide that discretion is the better part of valour with regards to the fire and Kel’Serrar is busy fighting back hatred and fear of the fire and ashes.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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It takes some time, but eventually the fire is gotten under control, but by then the fire has utterly gutted the house. The ground is red hot, but at least there are no more open flames after almost an hour of heavy fighting.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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“I think Maebh’s theory might be correct. Two cults in one town. We pissed off one and they got back at us by killing off our employer.” – Tremor, despairingly.
“They didn’t necessarily kill him to our knowledge.” – Kel’Serrar.
“Well as they say in my land, payback…. Is a bitch.” – Tremor.
“And they still don’t know who we are.” – Harold, said with far too much confidence.
“I have a feeling he’s still alive. I just don’t think he’d die.” – Kel’Serrar. Possibly meta-gaming, but who cares?
“I’d like to check out what’s left of the place when it’s all cooled down because there might be hidden passageways under the house which he may have used to escape.” – Maebh, thinking of all the options. That and she never trusted Rangard, so scarpering is something she can believe of him quite readily.
“Or he could have not been in the house.” – Harold, a bit more trusting.

Working off Harold’s suggestion that they are still unidentified, they move on to why Rangard would be attacked.
“He must have been attacked for a reason.” – Maebh.
“So what about Shylocke? He attacks Rangard to stop him from being a big influence in the town.” – Harold, thinking through culprits.
“Or was it us and we just don’t realise it?” – Ladyhawk. “Because with everything else we’ve accomplished, I would not be surprised if we were to just accidentally burn down our employer’s house. Probably kill his dog or something while we were running away.”
“Thinking about it, our companion in red whom we have not seen for ages doesn’t like Rangard.” – Kel’Serrar. “And, they might not know who we are, but if someone’s acting against them and  well, Rangard’s already been cursed once so he’s a known opponent. Another alternative is that they’re covering up evidence.
“They might be covering up evidence, he might be a known opponent, he might even have evidence to hold against them and he’s already been cursed once-” – Harold, warming to his theme.
“We’ve not been exactly subtle all these times, meeting him, working with him, meeting him in public places, dragging people to his house.” – Kel’Serrar, interrupting and making a very good point.
“He’s not been completely subtle either.” – Maebh.
“He has.” – Kel’Serrar.
“No, he hasn’t. Not really.” – Harold.
“He’s been relatively subtle, trying to meet us in dark and secluded places. There haven’t usually been many people around when he’s met us rather than us meeting him. He’s been more subtle than we have.” – Kel’Serrar.

Seeing as it is about midnight, Harold, Tremor and Breanna head back to their sleeping arrangements while Maebh and Kel’Serrar climb up onto the roof of the building across the road from Rangard’s manse, hoping to stay out of sight while they watch anyone who takes undue interest in the destruction of the manse after the crowd disperses. Kel’Serrar scrambles up easily, making a little bit of noise and alerting the people inside. An elderly Midlander couple lean out the window and see the two Danann trying to scale their dwelling. They exchange looks and then walk away from the window, probably confused.
“Damn PC’s.” – Dev.
Maebh on the other hand cannot get proper purchase and takes another attempt to get up. She does so, but any chance of being stealthy about it is pretty blown. At least once she gets up there she won’t have to move and anyone coming along won’t know she’s there. Anyone currently in the vicinity on the other hand is aware of her presence.

Tremor on the other hand goes off to the tavern and decides to scratch some designs onto the table. He’s moved on from his shoulder pet and is now considering a mount. Something tough, sturdy, something a Dwergar can ride. Oh, and mechanical.
“On a steel horse I ride,
I’m wanted,
For running through doors.”

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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He draws several designs but in the end settles on a small steel falcon. He comes up with something that might be workable in the future but he doesn’t believe his calculations are quite right. What he’s designed is probably not capable of flight. Tremor goes to bed.

Kel’Serrar sits and stares at the burnt-out manse and Maebh dozes on the roof nearby as the early hours of the morning wear on. Over an hour into their vigil, Kel’Serrar hears a slight whisper coming from below. He looks over the edge of the roof and sees the elderly couple looking up at him, offering a plate of fruit and a pitcher of water.
“We know you’re going to be up all night, so here’s something to keep up your strength.” – Elderly couple.
“Much obliged.” – Kel’Serrar, stunned and yet thankful at this generosity.
“What nice people.” – Ladyhawk.
“Remind me not to burn down their house when the time comes.” – Sins, laughing.

Over the course of the next few hours, the couple inside go to bed, wishing their two rooftop vigilantes a good night and Kel’Serrar eventually awakens Maebh to take her watch. Unhappy at being woken from her rest, she hunches down on the edge of the roof, drawing her cloak about her.

The sun is just beginning to come up when she sees a man in a long grey cloak walking down the roadway.
“Kill him.” – Ladyhawk.

The dull light makes it hard to tell if he’s really there, but soon he is close enough to make out details. He has his hood up and his cloak conceals pretty much to be seen. He is not holding anything in his hands. Walking down the road, he stops just in front of Rangard’s destroyed manse.

Maebh takes up her spear and prods the sleeping ranger with the haft.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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More to come, which can be readhere. :smallbiggrin:  (http://"http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=15318693&postcount=67")
Welcome back. :smallwink:

Kel’Serrar recognises that the man is definitely a Midlander, relatively slightly built. Maebh suggests that he be shot in a non-lethal place but Kel’Serrar declines as that would be a ‘Bad Idea.’ TM.

Maebh in the end leaves the ranger up on the roof and stealthily climbs down, succeeding with a bit of luck and silently creeps across the road towards the man in grey. This close, she can tell the man is almost a head shorter than she is and is cloak is of expensive quality. She decides to tackle him, hoping to take him unawares.

The tackle is effective, the Danann mage slamming shoulder-first into the man, smashing him to the ground where she quickly pins him there. As she does so, she realises that the face is familiar. It is the same man who disappeared right in front of her eyes when they investigated the Harvest Wolf.
“Knock him out, knock him out, knock him out, knock him out, knock him out!” – Dev and Wings, together and frantic.

He looks to be in his mid-to-late fifties, with greying hair that is becoming quite wispy and thin. He looks quite old and just a little bit frail and Maebh is surprised that he wasn’t knocked out by her tackle. She swiftly thinks about whether or not she should try to strangle him or smashing his head against the ground. She decides on the latter. And in the process…. He disappears. Again. Before he does so, she can see the bastard’s smiling.

In the air around them, as Kel’Serrar can hear it too, they hear a voice.
“You still don’t know who I am, do you?” – Disembodied voice, who then delivers some mocking laughter.
“I’m throwing a fireball.” – Ladyhawk.
“You don’t know where he is.” – Wings.
“I don’t care, I want to throw a fireball at something.” – Ladyhawk.
Enraged, Maebh flings a ball of fire into the sky, venting her frustration at being foiled again.

More laughter.
“You really don’t know who I am.” – Disembodied voice, answering his own question.
“Where’s the voice coming from?” – Ladyhawk.
“All around you.”
“NO! There needs to be a direction so I can send a Wall of Blades that way.” – Ladyhawk.
“But I am not totally unfair. I am willing to talk.” – Disembodied voice.
“Name a location. Preferably one that does not lead to us being blasted apart.” – Kel’Serrar.
“Here works well.” – Disembodied voice.
“Tell us everything.” – Maebh, being very forceful with someone who she can’t see or seem to pin down.
She is ignored.
“I hate you. I will kill you.” – Maebh, swearing revenge.
More mocking laughter from the air around them.
“Who are you?” – Kel’Serrar.
“You may call me, The Trickster.” – The Trickster.
“Considering your latest antics, a fair response. Care to explain what this was?” – Kel’Serrar.
“You have witnessed the destruction of someone who was causing problems.” – The Trickster. The manner in which he spoke indicated he was choosing his words carefully.
“So is Rangard dead then?” – Maebh, trying again.
“You don’t know.” – The Trickster.
“Yeah? Well neither do you by the sounds of it.” – Maebh, giving up on playing respectful.
He laughs, but her verbal foray has hit home. From this they deduce he is a proud individual.
“The disappearing act is a nice touch. Care to teach it?” – Kel’Serrar, moving on.
“I do not believe it lies within the talent pool of one such as you.” – The Trickster.
“How about mine?” – Maebh, curious.
Silence.
“Ah it does…. You *****.” – Maebh. Now she’s just getting insulting.
There is a human growl of discontent before, “You’re a bitch.” – The Trickster, sullen.
“And you’re wimpy disappearing bastard.” – Maebh, warming to her theme.
He growls once more, but he turns it into a laugh. It is a forced laugh though, almost like he needs to enjoy this for it to be worth the time.
“What information do you feel like sharing with us then?” – Kel’Serrar, fishing.
“You will be seeing more of me soon enough.” – The Trickster.
“I look forward to it.” – Kel’Serrar, aiming for cocky courtesy.
“I dare you to materialise in front of us and disappear again.” – Maebh, trying to get a chance to blast him apart.
“How do you know that what you have seen was even me at all?” – The Trickster. A bit cryptic.
“But you were there! Physically present!” – Maebh, outraged.
“Ah, an illusion is only as real as you believe it is. If you thought he was real Maebh, it could well have felt that way.” – Kel’Serrar, seeing possibilities.
“You are quite perceptive. I look forward to seeing you in the future. Farewell for now.” – The Trickster.
“Which one do you look forward to seeing?” – Maebh.
“… Farewell for now.” – The Trickster.
“Bastard.” – Maebh.
“Bitch.” – The Trickster.
“I hate you.” – Maebh.
Silence.

Due to their investigative efforts, I gave them a level up, something they were all craving. I think they were all after some new toys to play with.

I’ll put up their basic choices later.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The sun is coming up and the Market District is beginning to come to life in the new day. Maebh, back up on the roof, sends a Whisper to Tremor, Harold and Breanna.

“We have many important things to tell you about last night. We want to explore the ashes before everyone wakes up, so get the *expletive* down here.” – Maebh’s Wind Whisper.

Tremor meanwhile, awakens in the morning after a restless night’s sleep. He realises that a flying creature would be very difficult to create and so puts his efforts into using what he’s seen of Harold and Breanna’s marcwolf pups to help him in putting his newest design onto paper. A large, mechanical marcwolf. While he’s scratching down the design, Maebh’s Whisper arrives. He listens to it, then ignores it all and continues with his design.

Breanna is sleeping in her tent when she gets Maebh’s Whisper.
“What!? Wait, what was that!? Oh, just Maebh.” – Breanna, who gets up, stretches, puts on her boots and makes her way to the Merchant District to meet up with the others. She leaves the tent next to the wagon, her marcwolf pup following, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, fairly differently from its master.

Harold is also awakened by the Whisper, causing him to get up and head downstairs to the common room of the Iron Moon and orders breakfast. The barkeep glares at the Invarrian when handing over the food. Harold on the other hand just sits down at one of the tables, his little marcwolf sitting next to him, forepaws on the table eating off the plate.

Seeing the man’s consternation, Harold drops a sulver on the bar before he leaves. The barkeep acknowledges this gesture with a nod and then goes back to polishing the glasses.

Soon enough, Harold and Breanna arrive to meet up with Maebh and Kel’Serrar. Despite the heat still present in the ashes, it is far more bearable than last night, merely uncomfortable rather than lethal, and they begin their preliminary investigation. They soon find things very difficult, what with all the ash. Sifting through it all is taking a lot of time, plus it keeps getting into their lungs and eyes.

After about an hour, Kel’Serrar still sits upon the roof in his lonely vigil. He watches over the others as they look around in the ashes, making sure that they have plenty of time to appear inconspicuous if anyone approaches. From inside the house he sits upon, he can hear movement. Below him, a head pokes out the window, looks up, smiles kindly and then disappears back inside. The delicious scent of bacon being fried wafts up from out the window and it isn’t long before the elderly couple reappear, offering bacon and water to the young Danann on their roof.
“How did it go?” – The old man, winking conspiratorially.
“Aww, what lovely people.” – Ladyhawk.
“Rich old people are the nicest people in the world.” – LD, pronouncing this with all the force of a little goddess.
“Rather well.” – Kel’Serrar, mysteriously.
“Ah yes, I see.” – Old man, smiling appreciatively and tapping the side of his nose.
The couple goes back inside.

Kel’Serrar jumps down to go check out the ashes himself while Breanna climbs up and has a peach thrown to her by the old woman inside, who realises that the person climbing her house is different from the person who climbed their house earlier. Sadly, Breanna fails to catch the fruit, but the old woman manages to recover the failed attempt herself.
“I’m a better catch than you!” – The old woman, in a way that can only illicit an “Awww, cute,” in response.
She hands the fruit up to the Leathe.
“Thank you, you’re such a nice old lady.” – Breanna.
“And skilled.” – The old woman.
“Such a nice, skilled old lady.” – Breanna. “TEACH ME!”

To describe the remains of Rangard’s home would require me knowing many synonyms for ash to prevent the description from being repetitive. It is really stuffed. I would have drawn up a floor-plan but the whole thing is now just a mountain of ash with a few support struts.

Maebh considers the benefits of blasting the ash away with a powerful gust of wind, asking the rest of the party whether or not it’s worth it. They say yes and back away as soon as she starts her casting process. It takes her a long time to build up the power necessary but when she does, she wipes the foundations of the house clean, blasting away the ash. Unfortunately, she also knocks down some of the support struts, which had been weakened in the fire.

Maebh uses her new spell, Gust of Wind. She used a bit more power than she intended, miscasting but passing the resulting Toughness Check.
“Ah, she’s just winded for a bit.[/i] – Sins. He was full of them.
“I’m going to throw you out the window in a minute.” – Ladyhawk, laughing.

The howling wind alerts several other people in the vicinity who look out of the houses lining the street. They see the Danann mage walk forward into the destruction and shrink back inside their own houses. Obviously, she’s a little out of the league of the average merchant.

“Wow, that was great.” – Harold, sarcastic before heading into the foundations to search once more. Maebh snaps and throws a Flare at the Invarrian’s back.
“Tempers will flare.” – Sins. I think it was ignored at the time, but as I said, he was on fire. Well, someone was anyway.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Harold lands on his face, his back on fire, Before he can get up, Maebh puts the fire out with an aimed torrent of magical water over his back.

Fury of the River causes another point of Damage. But at least the fire’s put out.

The water courses through the foundations of the house, turning the whole place into a thick ashen slurry.

Kel’Serrar runs over to the wounded Invarrian and quickly patches him up as quickly as he can, padding the wound with bandages and applying a salve he picked up at some stage for the burning. Meanwhile of course, Harold is face down in what is now mud, his nice new clothes now ripped, burnt and muddied. He gets up, and in the face of Maebh’s hostility, walks away.
“That’s it, screw you all. You can all do this yourselves.” – Harold.
The Invarrian walks off to a tavern and rents a room to go clean up.

After his departure, Kel’Serrar and Maebh continue to search the area, but soon realise that if there was any small pieces of evidence the fire-wind-water combo would have destroyed it.
Some jokes about how Maebh has caused a multitude of asthma attacks and flooded half the town.

Meanwhile, over in the Iron Moon Inn, it takes Tremor four hours, and to quote Dev, many anachronisms later, but in the end he has a design so inspired that the technology to make it does not exist. Tremor will need to find a smith who can look at his design and make the components exactly right. Or he could do it himself, but the margin for error is extremely small.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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After creating this masterpiece of a drawing, Tremor heads downstairs, buys a drink and heads outside with the hard liquor in his water skin. He soon shows up, rolling slightly as he walks. He casts his eye over the muddy scene, choosing to ignore the dirty figures of the two Danann. From his position he sees that the fire appears very controlled and as far as he can tell, either the response was very prompt or the blaze was set in a very controlled manner. Heading inside, Tremor slips in the mud, but upon getting up finds that there really isn’t much to look at.

Tremor comes to the conclusion that there’s likely no evidence left to be found.

Breanna meanwhile, sitting on the roof has had about five peaches thrown up to her. Being on lookout duty has turned out to be really good fun.
“I love these old people! Can I be adopted by them?” – LD.

Finding the White Stallion Inn, Harold cleans himself up before heading out to avail himself of another set of nice clothes including a comfortable royal blue shirt and a long leather jacket, fur lined around the collar and a good quality, thick leather belt. He’s off to go see the Naillish ambassador, Baronet Edmond Carhold. He soon realises that he isn’t sure about where to find the man, so he engages the merchant in conversation, eventually getting to his main point, hoping to hide his question amongst innocent conversation.
“Where would I find the Naillish ambassador?” – Harold, after chatting with the man for almost an hour.
“Oh, he’s a regular customer of mine, as you now know. He is quartered in the mayor’s residence, the big hall up on the Hill.” – Robett, the clothes merchant.
Think Meduseld with less gold and horses.
The Invarrian finishes the conversation and pays the man. Now looking the part of a wealthy sea-raider, Harold goes to find Baronet Edmond Carhold.

He makes his way to the Great Hall. It is old, older in fact than most of the town around it. Sitting high upon the Summer Hill itself, the hall commands an imposing view upon the surrounding lands. Harold doesn’t know the history of this place, but even he can tell it’s of an older style than the rest of the town. Walking up the stairs, he is stopped at the doors by a guardsman in a thick, dark red leather tabard.
“Who might you be?” – Guardsman.
“Harold Oakenshield of Varr.” – Harold, answering as formally as he can.
“And what business brings you here?” – Guardsman.
“I wish to see the Naillish ambassador if possible.” – Harold.
“Is the Baronet expecting you?” – Guardsman.
“No, I would like to make an appointment.” – Harold.
The guardsman beckons over a page.
“Tell the Baronet that a Harold Oakenshield is here to see him.” – Guardsman to the page.

Harold and the guardsman engage in some conversation while the page is away, yielding some information. The guardsman is actually the captain of Summer Hill’s guard, Royan Sellamach. After almost ten minutes, the page returns and quietly gives the guardsman Carhold’s response.
“The Baronet is free to see you now Sir Oakenshield. Please allow me to take your weapon.” – Sellamach, polite as he should be towards a foreign dignitary. Even if that dignitary is considered as such because of his ability to kill, steal and plunder.
Harold hands over his sabre, having left the rest of his armoury on the cart and is guided inside by the page to the eastern wing of the hall. The page introduces the two men, acting somewhat like a herald.

“Sir Harold Oakenshield, of Varr, this is Lord Edmond Carhold, Naillish ambassador here in Summer Hill and Baronet of the Carhold.” – Page.
Harold sees a man of middling size, neither particularly tall nor short, with short dark hair and thick stubble on his jaw. He is between thirty and forty years of age and dressed in dark with a black leather jacket. The Invarrian holds out his hand and the Baronet takes it firmly.

“Ah, Sir Oakenshield. What would bring you here?” – Edmond Carhold, inquisitively.
“I’m here on a matter of business between our two peoples.” – Harold Oakenshield, putting his nobility guise on.
“A matter of business?” – Edmond, warming to the theme.
“There has been some talk that it might be more profitable to trade with Midlanders rather than raid them.” – Harold, getting straight to the point.
“I see.” – Edmond, with a slight grin. It suggests that he himself has not had to deal with aftermath of an Invarrian assault. “And where would this talk be coming from?”
“Some younger members, some older members of the Invarrian court obviously. I quite like the idea of offering trade myself. Who would dare raid the raiders? And it would be profitable for both our people.” – Harold, smugly confident that he has the upper hand.
“You raise a fair point. Now, I have happen to have some knowledge of you.” – Edmond.
“Really?” – Harold.
“Yes.” – Edmond.
“And what do you know?” – Harold.
“I happen to know that you haven’t been on Varr for years. So could you please tell me how it is you would know what is being said in the Invarrian courts these days?” – Edmond, playing his wildcard.
“Well not today obviously, but when I was last home there was talk of this. And if an older personality were to return to court and support this, with an interested party, ready to go. It could be useful.” – Harold, backtracking smoothly.
“I can see that this proposal has its benefits. I can certainly see how it would benefit me.” – Carhold, nodding. “Now you are aware that I am no merchant?”
“I am aware of this, but you are a nobleman and can therefore talk to your king and have the trade rights written up and ready for us to sign.” – Harold.
“I can think of two more objections, the first being that the Invarrians, whilst they as far as I am aware, hold a certain amount of respect for their Stormlord, they are by no means a united kingdom. Would they hold to an agreement? Would the Stormlord be able to prevent his reavers from attacking Naillish ships?” – Edmond, revealing he knows a surprising amount about the way things are done on Varr.
“I could not say. But if Invarrians loyal to the Stormlord were to find out that some reavers were forsaking a bond between the Stormlord and your king, those reavers would be considered traitors and punished as such.” – Harold.
Carhold smiles, though he does not seem entirely convinced.
“My last objection is that Naille is a land bound kingdom and your people are predominantly seafarers. As it is, I see no direct avenues for trade. We are landlocked and share no borders with you. Any trade would be occurring through hostile territory. ” – Edmond.
“Hmmm, this is true.” – Harold, at a loss. He, of course, doesn’t really know the geography of the area very well.

In response, Carhold finds a map and unrolls in upon the table.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

They continued their little conversation.[/color]

“Well, there’s Winterbourne. They have a coastline. You could establish a trade agreement with them.” – Harold.
“Now, our king and the king of Winterbourne traditionally do not have much love for each other. At the moment, we are quite neutral, but it would be very difficult to arrange. There’s a lot of hatred there.” – Edmond, looking over the map.
“How about Greymont then?” – Harold.
“Heh, funny story there actually. Now this story really isn’t a secret, but all the same I will ask you not to spread this around. Greymont’s king is in his late twenties, but his wife is older as she was his late older brother’s wife before he died an untimely death. As is tradition, as his brother’s unmarried heir, he married the widow and adopted his brother’s young daughter too. The girl is of a comparable age with our own king and it is common knowledge that Greymont wishes to marry her off to him to prevent her from contesting the throne with any future heirs he might sire himself.

As you can imagine, we do not want to be in a position where Greymont can say, yes but only if our king marries their bastard girl.” – Edmond.

“Well, you may not get along with the men of Winterbourne, but perhaps it might be worth opening up a lucrative trade agreement with them, opening up a way to a trade agreement with us. In itself, it might stop them from wanting to trade with Elspeth.” – Harold.
“There’s not much chance of that happening. Greymont hates Elspeth more than they hate us.” – Edmond. “Your idea does have some merit. I shall have to consider this.”
“Of course. There’s no need to rush to any conclusions here. Please take your time.” – Harold.
“I thank you. You must remember, I am only a baronet and that my position does not give me much standing in court. I can speak, but I cannot promise I will be heeded. But I shall gladly send a message to my king and inform him of this offer.” – Edmond, swallowing his pride. “As a further question, what sort of goods would be on offer here?”

Harold is well aware that the goods his people would attempt to sell would be goods pillaged off other people. Carhold probably is as well. On the other hand, Invarrians do have skilled leather and metal workers.

“Well-made leather, well-made steel.” – Harold
“Well-made **** from other lands.”
“If Invarrians can no longer raid certain points along the coast, they will concentrate more on places we can raid. So if a certain location has something you want….” – Harold, leaving the ending open.
Carhold laughs and pours two goblets of wine. The two clink the glasses together and knock them back, toasting a to-be successful business partnership.

And we left it there,

The Wrap-Up:
I'm not home at the moment so I can't actually tell you what they took, but everyone save Tremor had access to the Major Talents Sins and Lights have been working on due to the majority of the group reaching their fifth levels in their respective classes. No one has elected to multi-class yet, something I am grateful for as I can just guess that they'll pick classes I haven't finished yet. :smalltongue:

The Infamous Fireball of course refers to Maebh's Flare, something which the group has discussed at length. Dev admits he deserved it and Ladyhawk admits she was heavy-handed but I imagine there will still be a strained relationship between the characters. Which does make sense really, though it is sad as personally I like having a friendly party. Picking on Breanna was fine, but throwing fireballs is not good. :smallwink:

Anyway, hope everyone enjoyed that. We're taking a bit of a break due to exams and assignments. Ladyhawk, Sins and myself are just getting really busy at the moment, but we hope to have a game played by the end of June. Sins has something like ten tests in three weeks, Ladyhawk has several assignments and I have an exam and a few assignments too. Plus an essay that I only found about today. On the plus side, I've managed to figure out a way to write about Lord of the Rings, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

See you next time,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 01:49:04 AM
Session 2.5 (a): Harold's Midnight Ride

It is early evening and Harold Oakenshield is riding along the road. His plan is to find the old marcwolf cave the group used as a campsite, hoping that he might find Dhara at some stage. He wants to confront her, something he didn't want to confide in the rest of the party due to what he perceives as their murder-happy tendencies. He wanted to talk to the woman, preferably without killing her.

Failed Perception Check.

One moment, he is riding along the dark, rough road by himself. The next, there is a woman riding beside him.

"Whatever you're trying to do, it's too late Oakeshield." - Dhara.
"I'm guessing you work for the queen of Elspeth." - Harold.
"Indirectly, yes." - Dhara, with a shrug.
"You also work for Shylocke then?" - Harold.
"Well, I don't work for Shylocke. Let's just say we share some motives." - Dhara, thoughtful.
"You say you share motives. What motives would those be?" - Harold, fishing.
"The queen wants us to succeed. Shylocke is an important tool in allowing this to happen." - Dhara.
"As a tool, he can be cast aside." - Harold, pondering, more to himself really.
"Absolutely. As we all are." - Dhara, quietly.
Silence....
"So tell me, who do you work for?" - Harold.
"Ah come now Oakenshield, I can't tell you that." - Dhara with a slight chuckle.
More silence.
"Are you planning to kill me at the end of this conversation?" - Harold, resigned.
"No. I'm planning on having Chirya kill you at the end of this conversation." - Dhara, who then nods to someone standing in the shadow if the nearby treeline.

Three arrows fly out of the darkness, two flashing over his head and one skating off the Invarrian's armoured shoulder. There comes a muffled curse from the darkness but Harold is too busy to notice.

Harold turns his horse and gallops flat out towards the town once more, several arrows thudding into his back as he rides. It isn't until he is in sight of the gatehouse that Harold ceases his horse's exertions, pulling the steed back to a walk.

The Invarrian finds the farmhouse he left in such a rage earlier in the evening, dismounts and knocks on the door. The exasperated young farmer who owns the place opens the door a crack and looks out, recognising the somewhat war torn Invarrian.

"Oh you've returned?" - Farmer.
"Yes. I'm going to have to talk to Meldith again. I just want to kill the people who've been shooting me." - Harold.
"She's not in at the moment." - Farmer, looking like a night-time visit from an irritable bloody Invarrian is just about the last thing he wants to deal with.
"Where is she then?" - Harold.
"No idea. Like she'd tell me?" - Farmer, fear giving way to irritability.
"Right, fair enough. Farewell then." - Harold, swiftly losing interest and walking away.

Harold realises that he is going to have a big day tomorrow. Cults to infiltrate, people to kill and the like. As such he decides that his best bet is to enter the town and find somewhere to stay. He stables his horse and continues to the gates on foot.

As he does so, he is stopped by a guardsman at the gate holding a torch.
"Don't cause any trouble, alright? It's late at night and I want ye' to go straight to bed. I'm only letting ye' in at all because ye' look a right mess and I recognise ye' from when ye' helped fight the fire in the Merchant District." - Guardsman, with a friendly pat on the shoulder. His other hand never leaves his sword hilt, so he's still wary of the Invarrian.
"Actually, I have a quick question if you wouldn't mind. Has the captain of the guard changed recently?" - Harold, thinking about his theory regarding the 'Lord of the Gate' mentioned in Shylocke's notebook.
"No, Royan Setllamach is still the captain of the Summer Hill guard." - Guardsman, amiably.
"How long has he been the captain?" - Harold, fishing.
"Ah, since before I came to the town, I'm from Haystead In The North originally. At least twelve years he's been in charge." - Guardsman.
"I see. Thank you. Have a nice night." - Harold.
"I'm a guardsman, there's no such thing. But no problem friend, but go straight to bed now, ye' hear?" - Guardsman, concerned as he notices that the Invarrian is swaying a bit as he walks.

Harold makes his way to a tavern, taking his very tired marcwolf pup with him. The common room is deserted in the Iron Moon and there is no one behind the bar. He sees that there is no one there and heads back out to the stable to grab his tent. He goes to the wagon and sets up his tent near Breanna's before heading off to sleep, his marcwolf pup crawling out of his backpack and huddling up against his neck.

And we left it there... :smallsmile:

The Wrap-Up:
This one was interesting. I'd given the group instructions to send me what they were going to do the night before their sting operation. Dev doesn't like typing, so he asked me if he could play it out as a mini solo-session, to which I agreed.

Other than Dev, only Sins really gave me any information on what he was going to do, stuff you will likely discover in future write-ups.

Cheers,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 01:49:39 AM
Session 2.5: Walking Away

Welcome to Session 2.5.

"YOU LOST THE GAME!" - LD
"Now that we've got the obligatory reference out of the way-"
"Go see Man of Steel!" - Dev.
"Shut up Dev." - Ladyhawk.
"Just shut up. Reference time is over." - Wings.

Okay, then, moving on. Small recap, Harold has just had a meeting with Edmond Carhold, the Naillish ambassador to Summer Hill in his apartments in the Grand Hall. The rest of the party meanwhile are still sifting through what is left of Rangard's house.

Harold walks out of Carhold's apartment feeling good about what he has just done. He comes face to face with a small man of Selkye descent, clad in dark grey. He has a recurve bow at his back with a quiver of black fletched arrows at his back. His eyes flash with recognition as his hand reaches for a knife at his belt.

There is a fair bit of discussion regarding what Harold should do here, as Dev tries to gather a bit more information on the surroundings, namely that there are no guards in sight and the combat is taking place in a corridor. There is a closed door directly behind the Invarrian's assailant, in addition to the closed door behind Harold which leads to Carhold's rooms.

This discussion devolves into hysterics when Ladyhawk suggests tackling the man and going for his knife-hand, the accompanying hand gesture appearing rather risqué. As the majority of the group is dirty-minded in the extreme, there was over a minute of laughter and progressively worse re-enactments of Ladyhawk's initial suggestion.

Children.....

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Harold moves forward and attempts to grasp his assailant's wrist to prevent him from drawing the knife.

An opposed Dexterity Check for Harold here.

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Harold manages to grab hold of the smaller man's wrist.

"****!" - Selkye assassin, startled, who attempts a left-handed punch at Harold's face.
The strike fails to connect.
"Nice try." - Harold, who strikes back.
The assassin ducks under the Invarrian's roundhouse punch and lays a hand on Harold's forearm.

Failed Willpower Check from Harold.

Oakenshield falls to the ground, instantly deprived of physical motion, and slowly drifting into a magical coma. The assassin steps over the defeated Invarrian and opens the door to Carhold's rooms.

"Wha- AAARGH!" - Carhold, taken by surprise as a knife flies across the room and embeds itself in his shoulder.

Harold is about to get up when he hears what can only be described as an earth-shaking roar from behind the other door. Said door is slammed off its hinges and an eight foot tall, jet black Feartarbh charges across the hallway and into Carhold's rooms, luckily stepping over the Invarrian on the floor.

The Selkye looks behind him and immediately darts to a window, flinging himself through it. The Feartarbh follows, taking half the wall with him.

"YES! I love this guy!" - Dev.
"Can we make him party leader instead of Harold?" - Sins.
"Yes, can we?" - Dev.

Carhold comes over to Harold and helps the Invarrian up, the Selkye's spell swiftly being overcome by Harold's natural toughness.

"Thank you for standing between the assassin and myself, but I think my shadow will take care of it now." - Carhold, with a bit of a smile.
"I'm sure he will enjoy it." - Harold, returning the grin.
"Shall I help you to a doktor of some description?" - Harold, using the Invarrian term, not knowing the Midland word.
"No thank you, the mayor's physician should suffice. I will make my way there now." - Carhold.
With his hand to his shoulder, he heads off.

Harold, still shaking off his magically induced sleep, makes his own way to a drinking establishment.

Meanwhile, Breanna comes to the conclusion that any evidence left in Rangard's house would have been incinerated, blown away or drowned. Therefore, leaving now would not necessarily be a bad idea. Together, the rest of the group find Harold in the Iron Moon Inn, the first place they look for him, knowing that his problems with higher authority will lead to repeat occurrences of him bringing his marcwolf pup into the only establishment with a "No Dogs," policy.

Maebh walks over to Harold, who sits in a booth, nursing a mug of ale with his pup sitting beside him.
"May I speak to you?" - Maebh, uncomfortable with the situation.
"You can." - Harold, blunt and not looking up at her.
"I am very sorry for reacting how I did. I attacked in anger and I do sincerely apologise." - Maebh, awkward and clearly not used to apologising.

"Can I add puppy-dog eyes?" - Ladyhawk, giving her best approximation. It's quite effective in reality.
"... I think she should roll on Charisma to see if I'm affected by puppy-dog eyes." - Dev, thoughtful.
"Okay then, Ladyhawk, Charisma Check."
A 03.
"You are very much affected by the puppy-dog eyes. Mainly because you see them and think, 'Awww, reminds me of home.'"

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Everyone else sits down at Harold's table and buys various drinks and food. They proceed to sit around and ignore the fact that they are on an urgent, deadly quest.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I decide that it's time to throw them a lifeline.
"Now, think about this. Rangard sent you guys to go check out Shylocke. Now you checked out his house, but where did Rangard tell you to go find Shylocke?"
"Ah, the marketplace?" - Ladyhawk.
"No...."
"Oh, the place they trampled me! The inn!" - LD.
"The Harvest Wolf." - Sins.
"THAT!" - LD.
"Exactly. That's where he told you to go. If you remember, Rangard told you to get into that backroom because Shylocke goes in there often to have little meetings and such that Meldith was not able to get into. Now, Breanna broke up that meeting, and the Trickster was, perhaps, present. At least as present as you can suspect the Trickster to be."

"So that meeting was in the back room of the Harvest Wolf. What does that lead to?"

There was a lot of talk about the significance of the Harvest Wolf. How it was an easily accessible location for the cult generally.

"Who owns the inn?" - Sins.
"Wilmund Brewer."
"That's a great last name." - Sins.

I then ask who everyone thinks is the main bad guy and then who they need to stop immediately. Most toss up between Rangard or Shylocke being the main bad-guys, though everyone agrees that the Queen of Elspeth is probably in charge of one of them.

"Alright, this is getting nowhere. Who's Dhara working for? Or is she in charge of her own operation?"
"Nah, she's just a hand." - Wings.
"Well there's two options. Either she's an independent or she's working for the other side. If she's an independent, then that's a third or fourth faction which we were not even aware of." - Sins.
"She did specifically say that she was suspicious of both Rangard and Shylocke." - Dev.
"Yeah I think it's safe to say she's not on Rangard's side. But she might be on Shylocke's." - Sins.

They then discuss how much they disclosed to Dhara about their employer, situation and investigations.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Following on from this, it's pointed out that no one could really know it was they who trashed Shylocke's place.

Despite not having come to any conclusions, Maebh speaks up in the middle of this discussion.

"Look at us! We're not doing anything. We should stop this moping and actually go do something. Let's go." - Maebh, as she stands up, takes up her spear and begins to walk out of the tavern.

The rest follow her out and they all stand outside the door of the Iron Moon.

"I want to go to the Harvest Wolf." - Harold.

There's a bit more discussion here. I shall condense it for the sake of brevity as it really wasn't all that groundbreaking. The Selkye assassin comes up and Harold explains that he seemed to recognise the Invarrian. Maebh immediately wants to go after him, prompting Harold to inform her that he was last seen with a massive Feartarbh pursuing him through the town. Ladyhawk then hopes that the elderly couple who helped them earlier are okay and Sins, LD and Ladyhawk all threaten me that if those old people are either evil or harmed, there will be consequences.

It turns out that Breanna is the best tracker of the group, seeing as she has taken a bonus to the Survival Skill, followed by Maebh and Tremor who have taken the Skill and Kel'Serrar and Harold have not.

It's decided that Tremor and Kel'Serrar should go try to find Dhara while Maebh and Breanna attempt to go find the Selkye assassin and Harold heads to the Harvest Wolf to scout out the situation.

Maebh and Breanna.
The two girls make their way to the Grand Hall, walking around the side of the building to the approximate place Harold told them about. They find that there is a rather large hole in the west wall of the Hall. Peering inside they first see a massive black Feartarbh sitting at a table. The Feartarbh notices them as they approach and appears furious before calming down almost immediately.

"Sorry." - Feartarbh, gruffly apologetic.
"Hello. How are you?" - Maebh, trying to be friendly.
The Feartarbh responds with a somewhat quizzical look. His silence is more confused than unfriendly however.
"We wish to help you with your search for the Selkye. We have some questions of our own we would like answered." - Maebh.
"How did you know about the Selkye?" - Feartarbh.
"We are friends with the Invarrian you ran over." - Maebh. This cracked us up.
"What Invarrian?" - Feartarbh.
"The man you were chasing incapacitated our friend and in your rush to catch him, had to step over his body. He later came and told us the story." - Maebh.
The massive Feartarbh looks down at the floor, and if it weren't for his bulk and fearsome appearance, one would guess he looks ashamed.
"Oh. I didn't see him." - Feartarbh.
Maebh pats him consolingly on his arm.
"Aww, he looks so cuddly in my head." - Ladyhawk. I guess my description of an eight foot tall, jet black minotaur came across as cute. Despite the massive build and horns. Dev suggests I obtain a small stuffed minotaur for Ladyhawk for Christmas.
"I need to find my charge now, I am late. Farewell." - Feartarbh, who nods in a companionable manner and walks out of the room, probably looking for Carhold.

Maebh and Breanna head down the hill from the smashed wall, heading into the heart of the market district. They quickly deduce that the chase probably didn't last too long. They can see an overturned market stall with the owner struggling valiantly to right it.

Tremor and Kel'Serrar.
Looking for Dhara, Kel'Serrar suggests that heading out of town might be the easiest way to find her. The two of them head toward the eastern gate. As they do so, a grey-fletched arrow flies down from behind, striking the ground between them. Tied around the arrow is a small scroll.

Quote
Meet me at the eastern gate tonight,
Bring the rest of the party,

M,

"Could that be Meldith?" - Tremor.
"Shylocke's first name is Morgaris...." - Kel'Serrar, worried.

They decide that Kel'Serrar will go find Breanna and Maebh and Tremor will try to find Harold. It is already late afternoon so they will have to hurry if they wish to meet the mystery figure tonight.

Harold.
The Invarrian goes to the Harvest Wolf and sees a small body of clients in the tavern. He heads to a secluded seat at the back of the establishment and proceeds to sit and watch. The clientele seem to be enjoying themselves, Brewer can be seen at the bar, polishing tankards and a young man, Brewer's assistant, is sweeping the floor in front of the hearth. Harold goes to the bar and orders a pint of strong beer before sitting back down. As he does so, an obviously rushing Tremor bursts in and immediately uses the privy.

It is a running joke now that whenever a player excuses themselves from the table to see to the call of nature, their character also runs off to find the nearest privy/convenient bush.

Maebh, Breanna and Kel'Serrar.
Meanwhile, the two girls approach the man who is still clearly struggling with the weight of his stall. He sells bolts of cloth, many of them quite exotic, and all the rolls are large affairs and rather weighty.

"Did you happen to see a Selkye and Feartarbh run past here earlier?" - Breanna.
"Oh, I saw the Feartarbh going that way. How could I miss him?" - Cloth-trader, pointing to the west and further into the market district. "But I didn't see what he was chasing."

While the two girls are questioning the merchant, a clearly tiring Kel'Serrar runs up to them.

"We've found something of interest on the way out of town. It seems we either have a message from an unknown benefactor or a slight problem. Considering how little we actually know, we might need to take this opportunity." - Kel'Serrar, after swiftly getting his breath back. "Oh, and we all have to be there."
"Fair enough." - Maebh.
"Was there a name?" - Breanna.
"M." - Kel'Serrar.
"Okay then. Brilliant." - Breanna, sarcastic.

Harold and Tremor.
Harold keeps an eye on the old barkeep and therefore notices when Brewer ducks into the backroom as soon as Tremor walks into the privy. This piques the Invarrian's interest, not that Brewer walked out as soon as Tremor removed himself from the room, but that Brewer exited the common room in as surreptitious a fashion as possible. 

The Dwergar swiftly finishes his business and heads out of the privy to see that the Invarrian is not attending his drink very closely, scanning the rest of the tavern as he is. Tremor walks over to Harold's table, intending to swipe some of the Invarrian's beer.

Tremor reaches the table and takes a long pull from the tankard.
"We've got a message from someone who only signed off as 'M.' It's a bit suspicious but I think we're looking at meeting whoever this is tonight." - Tremor.
"Did they give a specific time?" - Harold, still scanning the tavern.
"No, just that it needed to be tonight and the whole group." - Tremor.

Harold concentrates on the conversation that he can hear from the other clients of the inn. One man has lost his cat. Another man is complaining about a large rat problem in the residential district.
I had to specify here that large rat problem didn't necessarily mean that large rats were the problem, but that the rats constituted a large problem. I got a laugh and we moved on. And before anyone asks, LD was the one with the obligatory Princess Bride reference, namely ROUS's.
Finally a workman on the other side of the common room responds loudly enough for the whole room to hear to a question about which Harold is intimately familiar with.

“No, haven’t seen him around at all. But did you know his servants were found on the road outside his house with arrow wounds? How suspicious is that?” - Midlander workman.
Harold pricks his ears up, but aside from that, attempts to stay inconspicuous.
"No, I didn't hear that. Reckon he's dead too?" - Another workman.
"Why would we not have heard about the servants dying?" - Third workman.
"What do you think it means?" - Second workman, asking the first.
"How did you hear about it anyway?" - Third workman, continuing his train of thought, also addressing the first man.
"Because my cousin saw it happen." - First workman, only answering the last question.

Upon discussion, the group reason that this cousin probably didn't see who was responsible. The group is after all, quite easily recognised. Harold is about the only Invarrian in town and both Maebh and Kel'Serrar cut rather individual figures in the area. Only Tremor and Breanna could potentially blend into the populace, and neither of them particularly successfully. The Dwergar and Leathe populations are small in Summer Hill. The fact that the authorities aren't out after an old black and white Invarrian suggests that they're not aware that Harold had a part in this.

 Seeing that Harold is ignoring him, Tremor walks over to a small booth in the corner of the common room where two dwarves are sitting, one smoking a pipe and both cradling tankards of some strong alcohol. The Dwergar notices that these are Geardarr, or hill dwarves, more tanned and less stocky than his own people. The older one with his pipe looks up with his one good eye and smiles at the new arrival.
"Ey laddie, grab a seat!" - Old Geardarr, obviously rolling drunk. There is at least a score of empty tankards littering the tabletop, with even more having fallen beneath it.
"Don't mind if I do. " - Tremor, returning the grin.
"AY! GET US THREE ALES NYUH!" - Old Geardarr, massive grin plastered to his face and beckoning to the bartender.
"Uh-huh." - Bartender, who props his broom against the wall and walks around behind the bar.

Within seconds of Tremor deserting him, Harold had walked to the bar to wait for service.
"What can I get you sir?" - Bartender, whilst pouring three tankards of ale for the dwarves.
"Four pints of your best beer." - Harold, already fishing out the coins.
"You right to take those four to your table? Because I don't think those dwarves can get up over there." - Bartender with a wry grin.
"I'm right." - Harold with a chuckle, who takes the pints two in each hand and walks over to the table of workmen.

The bartender then deposits the tankards with the dwarves and then retreats back behind the bar.

Maebh, Breanna and Kel'Serrar.
"Alright, I guess we have to go. How much time do we have?" - Maebh, referring of course to the mysterious note.
"The note says tonight. What time that means is anyone's guess." - Kel'Serrar.
"Assuming nightfall, that gives us three, four hours at the most?" - Maebh.
"Thereabouts." - Kel'Serrar.
"Should we keep looking for this assassin while we still have light?" - Maebh.

The three then wander through the marketplace, asking if the Selkye has been seen, but the merchants are not particularly helpful, their attention drawn mainly to the massive Feartarbh rather than whatever he was chasing. The best they can do is just point to the west.

This having failed them, the three travel from door to door of the dwellings which rim the marketplace, asking if anyone has heard strange noises coming from the rooves. Unfortunately, this doesn't turn up any results.
"Excuse me, have you heard any weird noises from the rooftops today?" - Kel'Serrar, executing his best salesman voice.
You do turn up one creepy individual.
"Hello, I'd like to..." - Best seedy impression I could do.
"SLAM THE DOOR!" - Wings.

Then follows some discussion about the feasibility of asking about rooftop jaunts, mainly that the beginning of the chase occurred down the middle of the market district, which is an open plaza. The possibility of someone being able to escape unseen onto the rooftops in broad daylight while being actively chased is slim to none.

The problem is, the Selkye is rather inconspicuous and the Feartarbh would have drawn the attention of anyone who saw the chase.

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Having hit a metaphorical dead-end, Maebh decides to head back to the Grand Hall, thinking to talk to the Feartarbh again. Breanna and Kel'Serrar follow her.
And here it is. :smallbiggrin:

Harold and Tremor.
From the scars all over the younger Geardarr's hands, Tremor deduces he is a carpenter or blacksmith or maybe even a butcher. He is not a warrior, being neither particularly well-muscled, nor scarred in a way which suggests conflict in his past. The scars appear to be small knife cuts to his hands. The elder dwarf has a long, pale scar running down the side of his face, from his temple and down his neck. He is weathered and his face craggy, his demeanour and presence leading Tremor to believe that he was a mercenary in the past, though he has since gone to seed.

"So, how is your trade progressing these days?" - Tremor to the younger dwarf, knocking back a mouthful of ale.
"You would be amazed how many people are after good woodwork these days. The blacksmiths all want it for their weapons. My business is going well." - Geardarr carpenter with a wink, he too knocking back his ale.
"I couldn't help but notice your eye, but your scar looks to be a similarly grievous wound. How did it happen?" - Tremor, turning to the elder.
"Ah lad! Aaah, I in tha hills, tha Arrer Hills, I lost me eye. Tha carrion they came up and took it! Cut us up real good, but no they didn't get me, didn't get me, didn't get me. I lay down, all quiet like and wait til there's no sun, no moon, nothin. An' then, when 'ey start gettin' all riled up and e'erythin', that's when I ups me axe and took a few of them! I paid 'em back real good for me eye, but I never be findin' it again." - Old dwarf warrior, who trails off into his ale, obviously scarred by the event in more than just body.
There is a little silence at the table as the three dwarves take care of their ales.
"Did you hear a house burnt down in town just last night?" - Geardarr carpenter, changing the subject.
"Ah yeah, do you know what happened?" - Tremor.
"No, not really. As far as I know, the man inside hasn't been seen since though. Probably dead." - Carpenter.
"Hmm, who was it? Anyone you knew?" - Tremor.
"No, I didn't know him. Heard he was a sorcerer though. Set his house on fire to destroy the evidence some people are saying." - Carpenter.

Many fanfares from the assembled group. They find it interesting that their own suspicions on Rangard are being carried out by the rest of the town.

"Do you reckon you could still wield a weapon?" - Tremor to the elder.
"Ah, I'd a-love to laddie. But I can a-see about three o' ye at tha moment." - Elder, surprisingly upbeat.
"Could you sober up in the next three or so hours?" - Tremor.
"Uh, no lad! Too much alcohol." - Elder, unrepentantly cheerful.
"And you?" - Tremor, to the younger dwarf.
"Eh, not much use in a fight mate. Sorry." - Carpenter, shamefaced.

Harold meanwhile has brought drinks over to the group of workmen, and while they first favour him with suspicious looks, mainly on account of his fine clothing, they quickly realise that he's brought them beer, so he can't be all bad.

"I heard you talking about Shylocke's house. Did you say that some poor buggers were found outside? Do you know what happened?" - Harold, passing around the drinks.

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"I know, it's awful isn't it? We reckon he killed all those men and ran away into the forest." - The second workman from earlier, who identifies himself as Wawrike.
"Why would he do that though? He was the most powerful man in town?" - The third workman, an older man by the name of Patris.
"More powerful than even the mayor really." - Garron, the first workman with a short laugh.
"How could he have that much power? I'm new here." - Harold, inquisitive.
"Ah, well he has all the money. Not that Mayor Redwyn has that much power anyway. Well, not him personally." - Patris, knowingly.
"In fact, I don't even know how he could have so much money." - Wawrike, referring again to Shylocke.
"What about Rangard? I don't know much, but he's a big name around the town too isn't he?" - Harold.
"Ah yeah, he's that other merchant isn't he? It was his house that burnt down, right?" - Garron.
"The short man right? I heard he dabbled in all kinds of sorcery." - Wawrike, making a sign to ward himself against Black Magic.
"Probably dead. And if he was a sorcerer, than a good thing that is too." - Patris.
"What type of sorceries did he dabble in?" - Harold, perhaps fishing a little too deeply here.
"You'll mind your own business if you know what's good for you. Asking questions like that can only attract the wrong sort of attention friend." - Patris, in a warning, but friendly tone.
"His friend definitely was a sorcerer though. Up to his eyes in Black Magic" - Garron, in an undertone.

Of course the players don't know if that makes him a warlock or if that's the superstition talking.

They then discuss that Rangard did tell them his friend was a magic user, though he died at the hand of Mordra Goldshine, stabbed in the back.
"Aww, poor mage." - Ladyhawk.
"That's okay, we stabbed that guy in the back ourselves." - Wings.
"Actually Kel'Serrar shot him in the top of the end."
"Which is a kind of stabbing." - Dev.
"He died of natural causes. An arrow in the head naturally ends one's life." - Sins.

"Did anyone notice where the barkeep went?" - Tremor to his new friends.
"Ah, I didn't notice he'd gone." - Carpenter.
"Want another round?" - Tremor.
Both dwarves are pretty enthusiastic.
"I'll just go find him then. My shout." - Tremor, getting up and heading to the bar.
Harold has just gotten up to get some more drinks for his own table and the two meet at the bar.
"I'll be with you in a minute." - Brewer's assistant, who quickly heads into the backroom.
"Distract them, I want to find Brewer." - Tremor, whispering under his breath.
"He's in the back." - Harold, similarly discreet.
The assistant comes back into the common room.
"What can I get you?" - Bartender, polishing a tankard.
"I'd like to get a round for everyone!" - Harold, raising his voice at the end so that the whole bar focuses on him. There is much cheering.
The bartender starts to pour the beers and then hand them out after taking the Invarrian's money.

With successful Concealment and Silent Move Checks, Tremor sneaks around the bar and then finds the nemesis of hidden heroes everywhere. A closed door. He manages to open it without any problems.

Tremor
He steps carefully inside, using the shelves filled with barrels of alcohol to hide himself from the inhabitants of the room. There are two people sitting at a table in the centre of the room, lit by a single candle. One has his back to the Dwergar. The other is a short, elderly man, clean shaven with thinning grey hair. The room is quite dark, so that is about all Tremor is able to make out. The elderly man is sitting side-on to Tremor, so the Dwergar feels relatively safe from his hidden vantage point.

More generally successful checks.

Tremor makes a slight shuffling noise as he moves around to try and get a better view of the man with his back to him, who he suspects must be Brewer. The two men pause their muttered conversation and look around the room, but notice nothing odd and continue talking.

To Tremor's relief, the other man is Wilmund Brewer. The Dwergar stands as still as he can and listens into the conversation as well as he can.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Harold
Back out in the common room, Harold is feeling no ill-effect, however around him patrons are starting to feel a bit drowsy.

Garron faceplants on the table.

The Invarrian's eyelids begin to droop as the rest of the room starts to drop off. Even the two dwarves in the corner are affected, the elder one shaking the younger carpenter even as he too succumbs to the drowsiness.

Harold shakes it off as best he can. Something is seriously wrong here. It's mid afternoon. People should not just be falling asleep simultaneously at this time.

Maebh, Breanna and Kel'Serrar.
They make their way back to the Grand Hall, mood's somewhat disconsolate as they have been unsuccessful in finding the assassin. Approaching the gaping hole in the wall, they see a man they assume must be Carhold and the Feartarbh bodyguard sitting at the table, playing a card game.

It appears the noble is winning and as they approach they hear a deep baritone sigh and a quick laugh from the man as he pulls the small pile of gold towards himself. Both players look up when they notice the group of three approaching. Both appear friendly enough but Kel'Serrar notes that the Feartarbh does have an astounding number of massive weapons ready to hand, not the least of which the broad-bladed dagger at his belt, a blade which would pass for a broadsword in a smaller individual's possession.

"Hello again." - Maebh, rather friendly.
Both respond with friendly, yet quizzical looks.
"I'm still looking for the Selkye from earlier." - Maebh.
"I lost him." - The Feartarbh.
"Where did he go?" - Maebh.
"I don't know. That way." - The Feartarbh, pointing out the gaping hole in the wall. He is trying to be helpful, but he simply doesn't know where the man went.
"Where did you lose him?" - Maebh.
"At the end of the marketplace. He rounded the corner on the right and was gone." - The Feartarbh, unhappily.
"Do you have any idea who this assassin was?" - Maebh, to Carhold this time.
The noble gives her a look like, "Do you know who I am?"
"Do you know who I am?" - Ladyhawk.
"This is not a game of who the **** are you."
"Haven't got a clue." - Carhold, dismissing the matter and going back to his cards.
"I'm sorry, who are you again?" - Maebh.
"... Lord Edmond Carhold of Naille." - Carhold.
"Ah right... Never heard of you." - Maebh, dismissive.
Carhold gives the mage a piercing look and then starts to laugh, soon joined by the deeper booming laugh of his bodyguard.
"In all seriousness, do you have any idea who he is, where he's gone, anything like that? We need him." - Maebh, getting back to business.
"I don't know, but if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say an Elspeth agent. They wouldn't want me here." - Carhold.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The three of them politely take their leave and make their way to the east gate to meet with the mysterious 'M.'

Tremor
"So, Morgaris, what's the situation?" - Brewer.
"They're coming along quickly. We hope to have it under control by midday tomorrow." - Shylocke.
"And then I appear from around the corner. BUSTED!" - LD.
"No!  Stay out! No busting! Please!" - Dev.
"NO! In every single RPG campaign on the internet or movie or tv show or book, just when they're about to say something really important, someone knocks on the door, someone knocks something over, someone has to sneeze, someone dies. No busting!" - Ladyhawk.
That escalated quickly. Those selfish bastards, dying just before the plot is revealed. We did contemplate making Wings make a Willpower Check to avoid doing something stupid.
"Is the Legion ready?" - Shylocke.
"I will have word from the Captain tomorrow. Any time after that, they should be here and available for our use. Which is all to the good. What news have you on this group of cretins running around the town at the moment?" - Brewer.
"Are we the cretins?" - LD.
"Woot! We're moving up in the world!" - Sins.

"Yes, after they ransacked my house, I found my journal was missing. I made sure that they should not be able to come to any conclusions from that. At least I hope they will not." - Shylocke, somewhat shamefaced.
"Writing a journal was foolish, yet the mark of an organised mind. As such, I will not punish you for that. Back to the matter at hand, I have two of them out there now. I have told Larus to put a little nightshade into their drinks. I imagine that those two will be done by the time this conversation is over." - Brewer.
"Very good. I must go now Master. The longer I am in town, the greater the chance I will be discovered." - Shylocke.
"I must get back to the bar anyway to keep up appearances. May the Veil move aside for you." - Brewer.
"Thank you Master. As always, I am grateful for your time." - Shylocke, who walks out the back door Breanna used just the other day, disappearing. The door slowly creaks shut.
Brewer meanwhile walks out into the Harvest Wolf's common room.

Harold
The bartender is polishing the tankard with a feverish intensity noticing that the Invarrian is not dropping as quickly as the others. Despite the man's nervousness, Harold feels himself slipping away.

Failed a Toughness Check and then a Willpower Check to resist the poison. A Luck Point is spent to reroll the Willpower Check, but with no luck. Harold's in deep trouble now.

The Invarrian soon realises that his hands and legs are not responding. But he does have a general command of his arms. He attempts to pick up his drink in an attempt to splash it on his face to wake himself up, but his hands just won't respond. He spills his drink all over the table, the tankard falling to the floor.

Tremor
Knowing that the people out in the common room are slowly dying from Nightshade poisoning, Tremor immediately starts searching for an antidote. His initial results yield no results, so he takes a deep breath and searches again. He does find a few vials which he can't identify. They might be antidotes. They might be poisons. He takes both the green and red vials before rushing out into the common room, bursting through the door, hatchet in one hand and hammer in the other.

Wildly swinging, the Dwergar shoves the startled Brewer aside and smashes Larus' kneecap with the hammer, the assistant falling to the ground with pained scream. Tremor turns to Brewer.
"You've made a grave mistake dwarf." - Brewer, furious.
"So have you!" - Tremor, hefting his weapons.
The barkeep disappears in a blast of roiling flame, which billows towards Tremor and Larus, setting both their clothes and a not inconsiderable portion of the bar on fire. Tremor immediately stops, drops and rolls, seeing to himself before patting the flames out on his crippled prisoner.

"Now if I pour this beer down your throat, which vial will fix it?" - Tremor, to the scared, burnt, crippled bartender.
"I don't know! Don't hurt me!" - Larus, terrified.
"Let's test this shall we?" - Tremor.
"Seriously, I don't know!" - Larus. Tremor notices that the man's eyes flick towards the red vial.
The Dwergar pours some of the beer down the man's throat, and while there is much gurgling and spluttering, Larus eventually has no choice but to swallow. He immediately bursts into tears.
"I don't want to die!" - Larus, wailing.
"Which one is it?" - Tremor.
"I don't know!" - Larus, still wailing. Once again his eyes twitch to the red one.
"Alright, let's try the green one." - Tremor.
The bartender's eyes look to almost be daring the dwarf as Tremor prepares to administer the liquid. Tremor pours three drops down the man's throat and forces him to swallow it.
"I will still die." - Larus, almost resigned to his fate.
"Yes. Now what does this one do?" - Tremor, indicating the red vial.
"Extreme... pain...." - Larus, drifting off into a deep sleep. His breathing becomes more regulated, his eyelids droop and body relaxes.
Tremor administers three drops of the red vial.
Immediately, Larus' body convulses as if being hit by nightmares. He still appears to be unconscious, but in his convulsions, his chest seems to be rising in the air and his limbs flailing everywhere.

The Dwergar packs the vials away for later use and finds the insensible Invarrian, supporting the far taller Harold without too much trouble, despite his bad state.

Tremor finds an apothecary after a short walk, and meets a kind looking old man with a severely hooked nose. The apothecary introduces himself as Melvyn and agrees to do what he can for the poisoned Invarrian. Tremor informs him of the nightshade poisoning and happily hands over four sulvers for an antidote for his friend. He then asks Melvyn to identify the mixtures in the two vials, which the old apothecary hastens to do, looking first at the red vial and then the green.

"This first one is an infusion of fyrewort root in aqua. Makes you feel as if your very veins are on fire. It's a narcotic, but it does ease external pain, making it quite useful really for war surgeons. And that is a mild pain killer." - Melvyn the apothecary.

Harold is administered the antidote and then uses the next hour resting and building up his strength.
I informed Harold that once he gets over the poisoning he will be fine, but he will have the occasional twitch for the rest of his life.
"You're old already. It won't be that long." - Ladyhawk, callous.

Tremor helps Harold to the east gate to meet the others.

They spend a fair time planning how they're going to watch the gate in preparation for this meeting. After all, no one knows who this is going to be, but everyone has their suspicions and none of them are nice.

Walking to the gate, evening is just falling. The first thing they notice is a lack of guards upon the walls, however a short figure is standing beneath the gatehouse in the open gateway. The figure walks towards the group, cloaked and hooded, shrouded in the fading light.

"I can take you to Rangard." - Meldith Ivorwyn.
"He's alive?" - Tremor.
"He's alive and waiting for you outside the town." - Meldith.
"I see he's being somewhat subtle." - Kel'Serrar.
"Indeed, that's why I'm here as you can't seem to do that yourselves." - Meldith.
That's a burn.
The Selkye woman leads the companions out the gate and out onto the road.

Around Summer Hill is wide expanses of farmland and it is towards a nearby farmhouse that Meldith leads the companions. She knocks upon the door.
"Who is it?" - Disembodied voice from inside.
"Meldith. I have company." - Meldith.
The door opens and the party troop inside the small building.
A young man in a roughspun tunic opens the door, eyes widening as he looks at the company and then invites them in. He opens a trapdoor, revealing a stairwell which leads underground, beneath the farmhouse. The party follow Meldith down and come face to face with Petyr Rangard once more, sitting at a desk.
"Well well, friends. This is all your fault." - Rangard.
"Really?" - Maebh, indignant.
"Can we all just sit down before we start laying the blame on each other? Mainly because I've just been poisoned." - Harold, resigned.
"Oh yeah sure, take a seat. Especially after you made sure I lost all mine, and my walls and my roof and my books and everything I owned." - Rangard, bitter.
"How is that our fault?" - Tremor.
"They didn't know who I was. And all of a sudden they did. And that certainly couldn't have been because you told them could it?" - Rangard, sarcastic.
"I thought you said you were a known enemy?" - Harold.
"I didn't say that. I was cursed, but that was a dead drop. They had no idea who I was, which was the only reason they never went after me publically. And then you went around and you told them who I was." - Rangard.
"No, not us." - Kel'Serrar.
"We don't even know who they are! We're new to Summer Hill. You never told us anything!" - Harold, angry in his own turn.
"All I know is that one of their agents came in and she came in and said, "I know who's working against us." I have Meldith's report on this." - Rangard.
"But who is they?" - Maebh.
"I wasn't sure. That's what you people were supposed to figure out! That's what I paid you for." - Rangard.
"Well then, tell us what these are." - Harold, handing over the letters and the Shylocke's journal.

Rangard reads the letters first.
"You know the mayor's last name is Redwyn right?" - Rangard, referring to the persona of 'R.'
"No, we didn't!" - Harold, forgetting that they did. "That's why you hired us, because were an unknown quantity."
"... Was it that ****ing hard to find out who the mayor was?" - Rangard, disdainful.
"That's it. Hand over my spellbook. He has until I flick to Fireball." - Ladyhawk.
"In my experience, people who are hired to investigate, usually do some investigation." - Rangard.
"We were busy investigating other things, like the leads you gave us." - Breanna.
"And that worked out well didn't it?" - Rangard, scathing.
There's no answer to that.

Rangard reads the second letter.
"Hmm, I hoped Carhold would not be caught up in this, but he is asking for a meeting at the Harvest Wolf, which is the establishment I asked you to check on in the first place." - Rangard.
"We did, several times." - Tremor.
"And as Meldith informs me, your first attempts were damned useless." - Rangard. "Hmm, actually I don't know if Carhold is actually in on this. He wouldn't respond to any of my messages."
"Well maybe, he lost internet connection." - LD, perfectly weighted and cutting response.
"But he's not used any code in this message at all, no attempts to hide his identity. Maybe he's not involved at all?" - Rangard.

The dispossessed merchant starts to read the black notebook but barely makes it through the first page before tossing it aside and pronouncing it utter drivel.

There is a fair bit of conversation here as they discuss whether Rangard's accusation against them are true. They quickly realise that they really only told Dhara who they were working for. And so now the Southerner is a roundly hated individual by the party, one I am sure they will be itching to get back at.

Back to the story at hand though. 

"Do you know of a woman named Dhara?" - Harold.
"No." - Rangard, sitting at the desk with his fingers steepled.
"How about a Chirya?" - Kel'Serrar.
'No, haven't heard of that one either." - Rangard.
"Actually.... I have worked with her at one stage. I hired her to help with the Corpsewalker operation. But I have not seen her since." - Meldith.
"Ah. Well, Kel'Serrar, could you please explain to our friends here why she came to Summer Hill?" - Harold.
"Mainly to accelerate the spread of war in the area. And you know she hates humanity?" - Kel'Serrar.
"Yeah, I have to say that became apparent after seeing some of the malicious pleasure she was taking in inflicting the virus on those bandits." - Meldith.
"Well the way I see it, we have two options here Rangard. We can either sit here bitching about how you have no home, or we can set about the arduous task of actually fixing the problems we have made. Your choice. Or we could just pack up and leave, because I am homesick and just want to get out of this place." - Harold.
"You want to go home, go ahead but I won't be paying your way." - Rangard.
"Right, fine." - Harold, standing up and walking out.

The Invarrian walks to Summer Hill's stable and approaches the stable-hand as the young man sees to the horses.
"What can I do for you my lord?" - Stable-hand.
"I need a horse. How much?" - Harold, in no mood to bandy useless words.
"One hundred sulvers." - Stable-hand.
"One crown for the horse and another for the tack?" - Harold.
"Brilliant, the horse is yours." - Stable-hand.

Tremor passes on what he overheard in the Harvest Wolf.
"If what you've told me about Brewer and Shylocke is true, both of them must die. And as far as the legion is concerned, that's Elspeth's Legion. If they get a clear run at this town, we're screwed." - Rangard.

The party decide that they need to get an early night and head back to the town.

Harold is walking his horse out to the north of Summer Hill when he hears Maebh's voice on the wind asking him to wait. He does so an soon enough, the party has come to farewell him.
"We do have a lead on Brewer and Shylocke. We're hoping to destroy the cult tomorrow." - Maebh, trying to get Harold to stay.
"I must go, but I will be back. You will see me again" - Harold.
And the Invarrian walks his horse down the road, away from the other four companions before disappearing into the gloom.

And we left it there.

The Wrap-Up:
It's so goddamn late here and I am bloody tired so I'll make this short. We will be playing 1.9 tomorrow evening, so I hope I can stay awake for it. We're right on the cusp now.

Stay tuned and I hope you enjoyed. :smallbiggrin:
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:11:25 AM
Session 2.6: The Coming Metaphorical Storm

This is how I opened the session:
"Once again welcome to Session One-Point-Whatever-The-Hell-This-Is, and yes you lost The Game. I'm getting in before you bastards."

It is early morning on a cloudy day. It is rather miserable and is only going to get worse as the day wears on. Everyone had rather restless nights, whether just through bad dreams in the case of a few of them, or being shot at in Harold's case.

The plan-
"Crap, we had a plan?" - Dev, probably surprised.
Was to use today to strike against Brewer and Shylocke.
"Because that worked so brilliantly for us last time." - Dev, probably sarcastic.
Now the last any of you saw of your "illustrious" leader-
"Since when have I been illustrious?" - Dev.
Will you shut up! The last you saw of your illustrious leader, he rode off into the sunset, saying he'll be back.
"No he rode off into the sunset saying, "F*** you." - Wings.
"No, I said I'd be back!" - Dev.
"What Wings said is what we chose to remember." - Sins with a laugh.

"We need to come up with a plan." - Ladyhawk.
"We need to find Shylocke and Brewer." - Sins.
"And then take them down." - LD.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Breanna
The small Leathe wakes up in the morning and stretches, patting her marcwolf's head fondly before putting on her belt and getting ready to face the rain to get to the Iron Moon Inn, where she's going to meet the others. As usual, she has slept later than she meant to, but the others are used to her tardiness by now. She is about to head out when she notices the note on the floor of her tent.

The Danann have yet to be fed and know where you are.
Sleep well,


She notices that the paper seems to be the same as that used by Tremor in his work, swiftly realises that this is either Kel'Serrar or Maebh messing with her, laughs and walks out.
"I have a feeling I am going to die today. Whether that's die and get eaten or get eaten and then..." - LD, smiling as she realises what she's saying.
"And then die? No, that doesn't seem like a logical cause and effect at all!" - Wings.

Earlier that morning
Tremor
Tremor Ironfist awakens in the morning to discover that his paper and writing implements have mysteriously vanished.
"You bastard, you stole my paper!" - Wings to Sins, who was cracking up.

Maebh sends a message out to the whole party, including Harold, hoping that her message might encourage him to come back.

Meet me at the fountain. - Maebh's Whisper.

Everyone meets up, braving the rain. To their surprise, Harold arrives too. Also to their surprise, he's dealing with some arrow injuries. He's bandaged, wet and mangled.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Maebh finds that there is a loose brick at the base of the fountain, covering a cavity. Inside the cavity is a small box. It is locked.

"Break it open!" - Wings.
"Can I break it open?" - Ladyhawk.
"Yes."
"Wait, cause I'm an Engineer, can I pick locks?" - Wings.
"She can." - Pointing at LD.
"Yeah but I might break my wrist. I need insurance!" - LD.
There is a fair bit of laughter before....
"Okay, I've taken Lockpicking and I have a +10% on it. Dexterity right?" - LD.
And so the youngest player demonstrated a greater understanding of the system than most of the others. And I was very proud.

Breanna gets the box open with her dagger and inside is twenty sulvers. She and Maebh dole them out, four each, including Harold.

"Now we need a plan. I think we need to, despite all my better judgement, split the party. Now some of us should go to Shylocke's house and see if we can find anything more. If we can't burn it down and try to draw him out into the open where we can kill him." - Kel'Serrar.
"Kill him? Really?" - Tremor, questioning.
"I call for an immediate change in leadership. " - Dev.
"I also think some of us should go to the mayor. If he's in not in on it, it's going to be really hard to slip this by him without his consent. Luckily we have some willing volunteers just here." - Kel'Serrar, referring to Tremor, Harold and Breanna.
"Wait a minute, I didn't volunteer for-" - Tremor, indignant.
"Yes you did. You did if I say you did." - Maebh, acting as Kel'Serrar's lieutenant in his hostile takeover as captain of this merry band.
"You have been volun-told. Do as I say." - Kel'Serrar, willing to brook no argument.

Having determined that Kel'Serrar and Maebh are heading to Shylocke's house and that Breanna, Harold and Tremor are going to the Grand Hall to meet with the mayor, they go their separate ways.

Harold, Tremor & Breanna
Having climbed the stairs to the entrance to the Grand Hall, the trio is stopped by the Captain, Royan Setllamach.
“Wow, what happened to you?” – Royan Setllamach to Harold.
“Let’s just say a bad run in with a Danann with a bow.” – Harold, putting it somewhat lightly.
“Haha, right.” – Royan, deciding it’s better not to enquire too deeply. “So, what can I do for you friend?”
“Is the mayor busy today?” – Harold, trying to make an appointment and failing.
“I can’t tell you of the mayor’s schedule today, for I do not know. He wouldn’t tell me anyway. But I can organise an appointment with him and he can work it out.” – Royan.

“So what are you three doing?”
“Sneak around him and kill him.” – Wings.
“Hey, come on! I like this guy!” – Dev.
“Oh okay, we do it the polite way. Knock him out!” – Wings, evilly.
“Since when has knocking people out been the polite way?” – Dev.
“Since he smashed through that door and the people behind it.” - LD.
"I can actually see now why people find this entertaining to read." - Ladyhawk.
"Yeah, but now we've wasted an hour." - LD.
"WASTED!?" - Dev, scandalised.
"Yeah, it's already half-past eight."
"So yep, wasted." - LD.
"Anyway, let's see how I can use the environment to my advantage. What can I throw him into?" - Wings, evilly.
"No, I'll just make an appointment." - Dev.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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"If he's busy we'll come back later." - Harold, turning to go.
"If you say so, but I doubt he's that busy." - Royan, shrugging.
"Actually, do you think you could slip us in somewhere?" - Tremor.
"I can find out for you." - Royan, beckoning up a page.

He sends the page off with some quiet instructions and then continues to talk to the three of them, unconsciously steering clear of the somewhat off-putting Leathe. They inform him that they want to see the mayor to come to an arrangement, but remain pretty ambiguous on what that arrangement actually is.

Kel'Serrar & Maebh
The two of them head to Shylocke's abandoned house. The windows are boarded up and there is a bar nailed across the dwarf-shaped hole in the wall. They slip under the bar blocking the doorway. The place is unlit, there are sparse cobwebs in the ceilings and there are bloodstains on the walls, though the corpse has been removed.

Maebh goes to the library and opens up the secret room using the torch bracketed into the wall. In the secret room, the eye is drawn first to the large, unornamented round wooden table in the centre of the room which is surrounded by ten chairs. Following that, they notice again that the walls are lined with bookshelves. Apart from the table, chairs, books and a small writing desk over in the far corner, the room is practically empty. It also appears that the room has not been touched since they were last here.

Maebh calls up a small flame in her right hand to give the two of them some light and they both head over to the writing desk. There is a quill, some blank sheets of parchment and a dry inkwell. Maebh starts sifting through the parchment, trying to see if there are any magical traces left upon them, but she is disappointed to find there are none. Kel'Serrar walks to the round table in the centre of the room and studies it. At first it appears to be unornamented, but after some careful looking he deduces that there is a thin ring carved into the upper surface. The carving appears to be set no more than an inch from the edge of the table and seems to be a perfect circle. Beyond that, there seems to be nothing special about the table, save that it seems to be bolted onto the stone floor. Maebh looks very closely at the table and blue light passes over her eyes. To her magical vision she can sense that the table has been used in a daemonic binding ritual in the past. The groove possibly held blood during this ritual.

The group considers setting it off or destroying it, starting out with Dev telling Wings to put an axe into the groove despite the fact that neither Harold nor Tremor are in the immediate vicinity.
"Hey, I want you to go meddle in the affairs which you know nothing about and I know nothing about either."

Eventually they come to a decision...

"Maebh, you might want to back away in case this turns out to be more stupid than even I think this is..." - Kel'Serrar, ominously drawing his belt knife.
Maebh immediately turns and walks out of the room.
The ranger on the other hand takes his knife and plunges it into the surface of the table, over and over again, concentrating mainly on the carved groove. The table.....
Does nothing.

It has not reacted in any way, shape or form. Kel'Serrar sheathes his knife with something approaching disappointment. Maebh walks back in and presses her fire-filled hand onto the surface of the table. The light in the room diminishes and the mage finds herself having to feed more power into the spell to keep the flames alight as she smothers the flame into the table. The wood begins to heat up and she can feel that it would not take too long to actually set it on fire. But there is not a  magical reaction.

Breanna, Harold & Tremor
The page runs back out and addresses the group directly.
"The mayor will not see you right now." - Page.
"I will make sure that Mayor Redwyn knows you want to see him, but for now there is nothing I can do." - Royan Setllamach, apologetic.
"I have very important news. There is a legion of Elspeth on the way." - Tremor, playing a trump card.
"We know this because we saw them last time we were out of the city." - Harold, lying through his teeth.
He takes a Deception Check here, with a small bonus as Setllamach is favourably inclined towards the Invarrian. He succeeds easily.
"That is worrying. Why didn't you say so earlier? I must tell the mayor immediately." - Royan, who runs inside himself, not deigning to use the page this time. This news is far too important for that. He runs up to the door, opens it and then turns back to the three companions.
"Are you coming or not?" - Royan, holding the door open. After all, as far as he is concerned, they've seen this legion, so they're going to have to give the information.
The three of them sprint up the stairs. They have their audience.

Kel'Serrar & Maebh
Kel'Serrar runs upstairs, realising that they are on a time limit. After all, they have no idea how much time they have before the cult is enacting their plan. The ranger searches Shylocke's room, completely ransacking it. It has not been disturbed since last they were here and Harold's crap has therefore become putrid. The bed has been literally torn apart. Sadly, Kel'Serrar finds nothing immediately incriminating, but the search was a long shot anyway.

Maebh meanwhile picks a book at random, sits on the writing desk and closes her eyes, willing herself to really focus on it.
Successful Channelling Check, although only thanks to the bonus granted by the Focus Stone.
Maebh's eyes begin to glow, the pale blue light leaking from under her closed eyelids. A small tempest builds up around her, rippling her hair and garments, yet not disrupting anything else in the room. She feels the power welling up within her until, like a glass filled to overflowing with water, she loses her grasp on the magic. With a keening shriek, the light gutters out and her eyes snap open. She has a splitting headache, but the book lies open upon her lap. She has broken the lock. She finds that the book seems to be a list of rituals, each of them on the topic of binding daemonic entities.

Wings asks if Maebh could write down these rituals to give to Breanna and it is pointed out that Kel'Serrar grabbed the parchment over in the corner and the inkwell was dry anyway. The conversation then turned to how Kel'Serrar had stolen Tremor's writing implements the night before. Of course this means that the players had to start using their own writing implements as chopsticks. I include all this simply because it amused me.
"He who can catch fly with chopsticks can do anything." - Dev.
"He who walk through airport sliding door sideways is going to Bangkok."
Sometimes I make myself laugh. Other times, I drive myself to tears.
Back to the game.

Maebh studies the book, flipping through it and reading the forward. She quickly comes to the conclusion that the book is a record of successful daemonic bindings. The mage closes the book and tosses it into her backpack and heads out of the room, looking for Kel'Serrar. She approaches the threshold warily, but the fire does not block her path. It seems that in breaking the lock, the book no longer sets off the spell.

Kel'Serrar meanwhile continues his searching of the room, turns around and comes face to face with the Trickster, who is lounging against a wall, smiling sardonically.
"Hello. Welcome my friend." - The Trickster.
"You're quiet." - Kel'Serrar.
"Thank you. I pride myself on my ability to approach unseen and unheard." - The Trickster.
"I hope I'm not destroying anything too important here." - Kel'Serrar, somewhat sarcastically.
"Of course not. Feel free. I do not need this place anymore." - The Trickster.
"You sure?" - Kel'Serrar.
"Absolutely." - The Trickster.
The confirmation that the Trickster is Shylocke, or at least that's how the players took it.
"I'm going to hazard a guess and say that if I shoot you, the arrow will just go straight through you as you're not really here, are you?" - Kel'Serrar.
"And you are correct. You really are quite astute aren't you?" - The Trickster with a small nod and a somewhat gracious smile.
"If I were, I probably would not have joined this venture in the first place." - Kel'Serrar.
"That is probably true, sadly. You may just have enough time to leave this place without any repercussions falling upon you." - The Trickster.
"Interesting. How long will you give me?" - Kel'Serrar.
"Two minutes." - The Trickster.
"And you won't mind if I 'accidentally' break a few doors on the way out?" - Kel'Serrar.
"Not in the slightest." - The Trickster, still smiling sardonically.
"Then I will take my leave." - Kel'Serrar, who strides out of the room.

Maebh leaves the hidden room to see Kel'Serrar walking swiftly down the stairs and towards the front door.
"I wouldn't just stand there if I were you." - Kel'Serrar.
"I heard voices." - Maebh, still standing in place.
"We're not alone in here. If you would like an interesting conversation, head into the top room, but I wouldn't be here in a few minutes if I were you." - Kel'Serrar.
Maebh runs upstairs but finds it empty. She looks around, but finds nothing. Kel'Serrar meanwhile is waiting for her outside on the road. She trails a flaming hand over anything flammable, and exits the now burning building.

"We didn't start the fire..." - Dev, singing the Billy Joel song.
"Except this fire, we did."

And with that note, I leave it here. But just for now, I'll be back shortly. :smallwink:
I hope you all believed me. :smallsmile: And now back to it.

Breanna, Tremor & Harold
Having been led to the mayor's office by Setllamach, the companions find themselves facing a rather heavy-set middle-aged man in opulent dark red clothing. He is not obese, but relatively portly, with shoulder length dark hair and a straggly beard.

Borous Redwyn looks up from his desk from where he is writing something.
"What is it Setllamach?" - Mayor Redwyn, covering whatever he was writing with another sheet of parchment.
"We have a report that Elspeth is moving on the town. These three here have seen the legion." - Royan Setllamach, wasting no time and indicating all three companions.
Redwyn's eyes widen slightly and he frowns at the suggestion.
"Can you tell the mayor what you saw?" - Royan, turning to Harold.
"Okay, well we saw a military camp, just a short distance from the town with Elspeth flags flying above." - Harold.
"I don't believe that you're telling the whole truth there. I can't see why they would be coming for us. There's no danger." - Redwyn, shaking his head and frowning.
"I am just relaying what I have seen." - Harold, holding his hands out and appearing apologetic.
"Would you be an agent from another kingdom, trying to foster ill will between Summer Hill and Elspeth?" - Redwyn, accusingly.
"I'm an Invarrian, from the Isle of Varr! Why would I..." - Harold, flustered.
"Why would we want to **** with your relationships? We could sit here all day at this rate." - Tremor, taking up where Harold left off.

Breanna reasons to herself that Redwyn is trying to discredit them in front of Setllamach, who everyone realises is the one with the real power here. If Redwyn wants them out of the way, he needs to convince Setllamach that they are in the wrong.

Thankfully, Harold is pretty lucky and Setllamach seems to like him. In addition to that the captain is a relatively intelligent man and can see that the companions have a point. Why would an Invarrian care about this?

"Well if anything, surely we could take the precaution of putting the guard on high alert? If we're wrong , we're wrong. But if we're right, then everyone remains safe." - Harold.
"I don't see why we should put the guard on alert today. After all today is not a nice day, look at it. It's raining outside. The guardsmen have lives beyond being guards. They are militia. If we draw them all up today and then nothing happens, that will have been a complete waste of their time, not to mention the losses in profits." - Redwyn.
"But if it does happen today, then Summer Hill would be unprotected and vulnerable." - Breanna.
"It will not happen today. The Legions of Elspeth are not marching on Summer Hill and will not be doing so in the foreseeable future." - Redwyn, getting somewhat angry.
"How do you know, Mr Know-It-All?" - Breanna, under her breath.
"If it does happen today and the guard are not sent out, Summer Hill will be destroyed." - Harold.
"As I said to the tree girl, they will not be attacking Summer Hill in the foreseeable future. Now I am a busy man. Stop wasting my time with this." - Redwyn.
"Are you willing to bet your life on this?" - Tremor.
"Absolutely. Setllamach, please escort these people out of my office immediately." - Redwyn.
Royan Setllamach opens the doors and makes a gesture towards the companions to leave. They do so.

"Captain, would you mind speaking with me outside?" - Harold, to Royan.
"Absolutely Sir Oakenshield, I would be glad to." - Royan, holding the door open as they troop out.
Tremor purposely trips on the doorway and stumbles forward, critically drawing Setllamach's attention. As the captain helps the gruffly apologetic Dwergar to his feet once more, Breanna ducks into the corner and quickly casts Shadowskin, shrouding herself in darkness and making herself as inconspicuous as possible, provided she sticks to the shadows. Before Setllamach closes the door, the Leathe ducks inside, silently rolling across the floor and into the corner of the room. The door closes behind her, locking her in the room with her target, alone save for her knives.

"Kill him, kill him, kill him, kill him!" - Wings and Dev, chanting their encouragement. It got near to the chanting in the Fellowship of the Ring when they are running away from the Balrog.

"So, Sir Oakenshield, what was it you wished to speak to me about?" - Royan, inquisitive.
"You and I are both men of action and we both know that politicians can be slow to action. In a time of crisis, precautionary measures are always wise. Perhaps not drawing up the militia, but at least send some scouts. I would prefer to be proven wrong than be proven right by our deaths." - Harold, putting his hand on Setllamach's shoulder.
"Sending out scouts would be very easy to do. And while the mayor did not seem to be too concerned about the situation, rest assured I am. I will send out scouts forthwith." - Royan, nodding his thanks.

Maebh & Kel'Serrar
Having exited the building they both notice a figure lounging against the wall of the house opposite Shylocke's dwelling.
"Oh, you came out a lot quicker than I expected." - The Trickster, smiling.
"I reach my deadlines." - Kel'Serrar.
"I see we have met again." - The Trickster, to Maebh.
The mage doesn't deign to respond. For now she lets the thin trail of smoke wafting out of the house speak for her.
"So, what have you found?" - The Trickster, for all the world seeming helpful and smiling somewhat sardonically.
"Perhaps you would be better suited to tell us than the other way around. After all, you know the house better, don't you?" - Kel'Serrar, taking a stab at the Trickster's identity.
"Well played. You know who I am?" - The Trickster, chuckling quietly.
"It's obvious. Evident really." - Kel'Serrar.
"I see. Evident? No matter. It's true, I did used to live here. It was nice." - The Trickster, quietly, almost reminiscent. He smiles, in a somewhat kindly manner. "I told you that you could leave the house without repercussions. I am extending that to the town as a whole. Please, leave now and be happy. If you stay, I cannot guarantee your safety."
"Why do you want us to leave? What will we be in danger from?" - Maebh.
"You will likely not survive the coming storm." - The Trickster, only answering Maebh's second question, a fact that seemed lost on the pair of Danann.
"Too bad now that my curiosity has been roused." - Kel'Serrar with a shrug.
"I tell you now, take this offer and you will survive the storm." - The Trickster, still looking like he only wants to help.
"Is it a proper storm or one you're creating?" - Maebh, inquisitive.
The Trickster just stares at her.
"Why, what's in the storm?" - Maebh, interrogating.
"Thunder and lightning, like all storms." - The Trickster, ambiguous.
"I can do that. I thought you were supposed to be impressive. Is there going to be a tornado too? How do you know this? Can you control the weather?" - Maebh, dismissive.
It is evident that this incessant questioning is annoying him, cracking through the normally calm exterior.
"It was a metaphor!" - The Trickster.
"Then I ask again, what's going to happen? If there's no thunder and lightning then it is not a real storm." - Maebh, seeing that in his anger he might make an uncharacteristic mistake.
"It is not a literal storm-" - The Trickster, cut off.
"Then what is it?" - Maebh.
"It is a metaphorical storm." - The Trickster, with some heat.

"Obviously I'm trying to get under his skin. Is it working?" - Ladyhawk.
"It's working on me." - Sins.

The Trickster pointedly turns away from the mage and looks steadily at Kel'Serrar. Not to be cast aside like this, Maebh steps across in front of the ranger with a sardonic smile. The Trickster shakes his head in amusement.
"Anyway, I'm far too interested in your plans to just leave now." - Kel'Serrar.
"The plans are not mine, but my master's." - The Trickster.
"Ooh, who's your master?" - Maebh, still trying to get the Trickster to look at her.
She is ignored.
"That just makes it all the more interesting I'm afraid." - Kel'Serrar, falsely apologetic.
"This is the last chance you will receive. Leave now." - The Trickster, losing patience.
"Sorry, I've survived worse I'm sure." - Kel'Serrar.
"I'm not leaving either." - Maebh.
"I'm saddened by this. We may not meet again. For what it's worth, being as we are on separate sides of this conflict, I wish the best of luck." - The Trickster with a sad nod.
"I'd wish you the same luck but judging by how you have performed so far, I do not think you would need it." - Kel'Serrar.
"If we do meet again, I may have no choice but to kill you. I am very grateful to my master, and he wants you dead. Believe this, I am not a bad man. I just wanted the power to make a difference in the world and sadly this storm is how I must repay my debts to a great man. Farewell." - The Trickster.
He nods and disappears.

Breanna
Redwyn has begun to write his note again now that his visitors have left him. Intrigued, Breanna creeps over behind him to read over his shoulder.

Redwyn's note.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

She is standing behind him, preparing to strike when a side door opens and in walks a woman. She is tall and her features have a somewhat familiar cast to them. The Leathe realises that this Southland woman has very similar facial features to Dhara, the woman they encountered out on the road.  Save her clearly greater age, they could be sisters, though this woman is at least twenty years older than the woman in red they captured before.
"Borous, get up!" - Woman, commanding.
The mayor immediately jumps to his feet, almost standing at attention.
"Who were those people who were here?" - Woman.
"Uh, I think they were working against the cult." - Borous Redwyn, clearly about to speak some more.
This is before she delivers a thunderous backhand across his face.
"You idiot! What did you tell them?" - Woman.
"Nothing! They knew about the Legion. I tried to get them to back off." - Borous, whining.
She slaps him again, a solid forehand this time.
"Did you give away that they are coming?" - Woman.
"No, I denied their very existence. I made sure that they had no reason to be suspicious at all." - Borous.
If he hoped that by doing so he would make her happy, he is sadly mistaken. She slaps him again.
"You idiot! How vehement were you in denying their presence?" - Woman.
"As much as I needed to be! They were utterly convinced they were coming. The Invarrian even claimed he had seen them on their way!" - Borous.
"You idiot!" - Woman, slapping him again. "How can he have? They haven't even moved out of the Eaglefort yet!"

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

"I will have to get word to the Queen immediately. You disgust me." - Sarya Silverwood, with one last backhand, this one almost half-hearted before walking out the main door.
Redwyn sits down behind his desk once more, wipes the blood off his cheeks with a handkerchief and then breaks down into tears.
Breanna resolves that he has felt enough pain today and slides the knife into the side of his throat and withdraws it. She then takes the various bits of parchment from the desk and stuffs them in her belt pouch, thinking to save them for reading or even further use later. There might be clues to be read and if not, at least she can use them to draw her adventures for later publication.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

In the drawers of the desk the Leathe finds many letters and a small pouch of coin, all of which she pockets. Following that, she then makes her way out the side door after the now deceased mayor's wife.

Tremor & Harold
The Dwergar and Invarrian follow Captain Setllamach outside and pick up their weapons.
"Be ready for a fight. It's coming." - Tremor, while shoving his axe through his belt.
"From where?" - Setllamach, looking troubled.
"It's just a feeling. But it will happen." - Tremor, grim.
"Hey, where's the Leathe?" - Setllamach, looking around.
"I don't know. She must have already left, her weapons aren't here." - Harold, hoping that Setllamach wouldn't have noticed that she never left her daggers outside at all.
The captain looks troubled but he trusts the Invarrian and lets it slide.

Two scouts have been sent out to find this Legion. Off the record of course.

Kel'Serrar & Maebh
Kel'Serrar begins scanning the town to find a good defensible position to hold when the Legion arrives. Maebh thinks about attempting to find Dhara, but comes to the conclusion that she's probably made herself far too difficult to find and they are on a time limit.

Kel'Serrar figures the Grand Hall is probably the most defensible spot, and decides that his best bet would be to go check it out. He arrives with Maebh in tow to find Tremor and Harold just about to leave.

Breanna
The Leathe continues to follow the late mayor's wife through the Grand Hall, remaining completely concealed as she does so, past the occasional servant. Eventually the woman leaves the building and goes outside, walking down the street. Unfortunately, inside the building, it's hard to notice the shadow-swathed assassin, but outside she would be noticeable on the streets. On the other hand, if she can just get onto the rooftops, she should be free. Tearing down the street, hell for leather, she takes a running jump and clambers up the wall, with only a little difficulty, hoping that anyone who noticed her wouldn't raise a cry.

Once up on the rooves she can move swiftly and with little fear of discovery. She sees that the mayor's wife has been joined by a squad of ten men in leather jerkins with black surcoats, bearing round shields adorned with the sigil of a single white arrow. They walk out the main gate, enter the stables and mount up. All the while, the diminutive figure of a shade-cloaked Leathe watches them from atop Summer Hill's outer wall.

The mounted party heads down the eastern road. Breanna slides down the outer wall and follows them on foot, though soon realises that she's going to lag too far behind and her erstwhile companions will likely need her today. She quickly turns back and walks back through the gate, nodding companionably at the guards.

Harold, Tremor, Kel'Serrar & Maebh
They wait while Tremor uses the guardsmen's chamber pot and once he comes out, they discuss with him what their next plan is while walking back down the stairs and into the city proper.

It is almost midday when the companions stop at the wagon, assuming that Breanna will go there to rendezvous with them. While doing so Kel'Serrar informs the rest of his and Maebh's run in with the Trickster and Harold informs those two of how the mayor is most likely connected to the cult in some way. And then how he sent the Leathe in to eliminate him.

They discuss the Trickster's identity, and generally they figure Shylocke would be the Trickster. Maebh also sends a Whisper to Breanna. 
"I have a book for you. We're at the wagon." Maebh's Whispering Wind, in a taunting manner.

It is only a short time before Breanna reappears at the cart. She stops to fondle her marcwolf pup before informing the rest of the group of her actions.
"The mayor, Redwyn is now dead and his wife's a bitch. He's not Redwyn now, he's Deadwyn. The wife looked eerily similar to Dhara." - Breanna, trying to get through it all as quickly as possible.
"Oh, speaking of Dhara, she nearly killed me last night. She's mates with Chirya now, hence my arrow-wounds." - Harold, interrupting.
"As I was saying, the wife's now in charge of Summer Hill, and I might add, insane. She's just left the town with a squad of what I reckon are her personal guards." - Breanna.
"What livery?" - Kel'Serrar, intrigued.
"Black field with a silver arrow." - Breanna, reciting it off the top of her head.
No one's familiar with the sigil, but they all agree that the assumption that they are her personal guard is a good one.
"Anyway, I followed her as far as the east road. I also have the note he was writing when we barged in on him." - Breanna, nodding to Tremor and Harold and producing the note.
They notice immediately that the note is written in the same handwriting as their earlier note which was also signed by the mysterious R.

The companions troop off to the White Stallion Inn. On the way Tremor theorises that the centre of the town may have some significance. Interestingly enough the Merchant's District is just about in the centre of the town. And both Rangard's and Shylocke's houses were in that same district. Very convenient.

On the way Breanna is quizzed about the nature of daemonic summoning, asked about what sort of stuff they should be looking for. She answers that summoning circles can be constructed of many different materials but metals are most common, particularly valuable metals like gold. 

Once inside the Inn, they order meals and Maebh hands the book over to the Leathe assassin. Breanna takes it with some glee and quickly realises that she can use this information.

In game terms, the book grants her bonuses to her Willpower for the purpose of summoning daemons, justified by being able to read what went wrong in the cult's own attempts. Being forewarned is forearmed and all that. On top of this, in a story sense, she may read through it to gain a better idea of what sort of daemon summoning has been attempted and what has succeeded, therefore giving a better idea of what they might face.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

"As far as I'm concerned, the Grand Hall or the very centre of the town are the most likely locations. Hmm, maybe the warehouses.... Look at that, they're close to the centre and the nearest section is the slums..." - Harold, looking at a map of the town which Tremor has fished out of his pack.

Reading her book, Breanna notices that most of the summonings are being conducted within Shylocke's house. However, at the end of the book she reads a note which says that other research is being conducted in other locations. They can't split the party. And it's crunch time.

They decide on their next target, the warehouses, hoping that they're not wrong. If they are, they're going to be too late. If they are too late, at least the warehouses might provide some places to hide.

And we left it there...

The Wrap-Up
I do wish I had done this earlier so that I could remember the session a bit better. I do remember approaching the session at the time as if it were going to be the end of the arc, but it didn't happen. We ended up playing the end of the arc over two sessions, but it all turned out well.

I hope everyone's continuing to enjoy this. :smallsmile:

Anyway, stay tuned for they're about to properly reap the whirlwind....

[/color]
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:11:56 AM
Session 2.7: The End of the Line

"Welcome to Session 1.10, and yes I realise that is some bizarre numbering, but I couldn't care less."
I later fixed the numbering of the earlier sessions so that we didn't get weird session numbers like that. :smalltongue:

The companions quickly suit themselves up. By now Tremor and Harold both have some substantial armour and Harold in particular can resemble a walking armoury. They're going to take this cult on. No more hiding in the shadows, no more subtlety. This time, the ****'s going to hit the fan.

The storm is approaching, the clouds dark and ominous. The rain is getting heavier and the distant thunder is gradually getting closer. It will be an ugly night.

The party splits into two groups, hoping that they might be a little less conspicuous. Tremor and Breanna can sort of blend in a little as there are other Leathe and dwarves in the town, but Harold, Maebh and Kel'Serrar are far more noticeable. Tremor and Breanna head off together while Maebh, Kel'Serrar and Harold stick together as well. Before they head off, Tremor asks Harold for a better weapon than his own hatchet and hammer combo. The Invarrian thinks about this and then unbuckles one of his belts, handing over his longsword to the Dwergar, who takes a moment to reconfigure the suspension system and slings it over his back.

Tremor also picks up a loud whistle from a vendor on the way, thinking it could only be a good idea.

The two groups arrive to find that the warehouses are arranged in five rows of five. The first four rows appear to be relatively old constructions, weathered, with dirty windows and rough woodwork. The hindmost row however appears to be of a considerably newer make, showing less signs of wear.

Harold considers setting the whole thing on fire, but they throw that plan aside quickly. Maebh notices that the two closest ones on the corners are dilapidated and abandoned. In fact judging by the accumulated dust, only the central warehouse in the first row has been used in the last few weeks.

There is precisely as much thought given to Tremor running through each column of warehouses, blasting each wall apart as he goes, as you might expect after his theatrics on Shylocke's door. It was seriously considered, which, to be honest, doesn't say much for the IQ of anyone involved.

"I think we should be checking inside the most recently used ones." - Harold, stroking his canine chin.
Each warehouse is made of wooden planks, the doors about two inches think with a heavy lock. The side walls have high windows that are designed to allow light into the structure during the daylight hours. On the other hand, it might be able to admit Breanna if she climbs up on Harold's shoulders to get up there.

The companions walk around to the right hand side of the central warehouse of the front row and Harold heaves Breanna up. As he does, she grabs hold of the window sill and pulls herself over the edge before dropping to the floor in a neat crouch.

Unusually for a warehouse, this structure is almost empty. In the front corner of the room there is a desk with a piece of parchment on it, but in the sparse light and at this distance, she cannot see what is on it. In the centre of the room there is also a small construction. It appears to be a small golden bowl upon on a three legged silver stand. The bowl contains a dark substance, but the Leathe cannot make it out.

First she approaches the desk and looks at the piece of parchment, finding it is a map. The map shows Summer Hill, though it appears to be different from the map that she is familiar with, namely the one Tremor produced when asked. According to this map, Summer Hill has actually shrunk in size. Crucially, this makes the warehouses almost squarely in the centre of what did make up the entirety of Summer Hill's boundaries.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

Beside the map is a small key. Breanna snatches both and stuffs them in her beltpouch before taking a closer look at the golden bowl. As she walks close enough to recognise the contents of the bowl, she stops, within a step of walking into the magical field around the contraption. Breathing slightly quicker now, Breanna realises that the field is likely an alarm or maybe a ward that could hurt someone who gets too close and decides that she is magically out of her depth here. She cautiously backs away and approaches the front door.

"I'm going to slide a key out for you to try on the lock okay?" - Breanna, fumbling to get the key out of her belt-pouch.
"Don't bother." - Harold, who along with Tremor hack at the doorway with their axes until they stand inside.
"Hmm, it seems we have a key. Let's draw attention to ourselves by hacking our way in!" - Ladyhawk, shaking her head and laughing bitterly with LD.
"Maebh, I think you need to look at this." - Breanna, pointing at the contraption.
The Danann mage walks over to the bowl and quickly snaps the control over the ward. It's a pretty slapdash job so takes her very little time.
Breanna grabs the bowl as soon as Maebh gives her the nod and studies it for any clues. She realises quickly that the blood is intended as an offering for a very, very powerful daemon. The Leathe figures that frozen blood would be an appropriate offering a daemon with a particular affinity for cold, leading her to believe that this is something to do with the Lord of Winter. She also knows that there must be more of these offerings around, intended to lure the daemon into the town and then trap it. Just dealing with one or two of these offerings will not stop the summoning, only leave a "gate" for the daemon to escape and wreak havoc. They must either destroy all the offerings before the summoning begins or leave them intact until the summoning has commenced and then banish the daemon before it is unleashed.
They study the map and then have a short conversation about how to approach it.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

"Can we shift this diamond to outside the town? And then have Breanna hijack the spell?" - Tremor, stroking his beard and ignoring the unspoken rule regarding Breanna's magic.
"I don't think it works like that." - Breanna, quietly.
"Us moving the diamond is no guarantee that the daemon will show up out there when it's summoned. The diamond's just to trap it right?" - Harold, correct in a way, and yet incorrect in another.
"The diamond's here to attract it too. If we shift it, it might not show up at all." - Breanna.
"But if we shift it and it does show up, it's now in the middle of the town and uncontrolled." - Maebh, grim.
"Anyway Tremor, even if we did shift the diamond, I don't think our Leathe would be able to do anything about it. As my people say, one person on a mhor's back may direct it. One flea on a mhor's back does nothing." - Kel'Serrar, chiming in.
If you're interested, a mhor is something like a small indricothere. Sins actually said elephant, but Kel'Serrar wouldn't know what an elephant is, so I'm using creative license.
"So shifting or tampering with the diamond in any way is a bad idea..." - Tremor, resigned.
"That's okay, we don't need to. I say we go to the central warehouse, which is where they're performing the summoning, right Breanna?" - Harold, turning to the Leathe.
She nods.
"Right. We go there and kill the bastards." - Harold, clapping his hands together.
"I don't think we can take them all. Judging by Brewer, they've got some impressive casters in there." - Tremor.
"Bad plan. We'd all die." - Maebh.
"No, fine then. We burn it down!" - Harold, exasperated.
"But then they'll just run out and kill us. I'm pretty sure they'll notice if the building they're in starts smoking. Plus this rain's only getting heavier." - Maebh, pointing out the flaws.
"I can give everyone two words for a really good reason as to why we shouldn't just go blindly in there. The Trickster." - Kel'Serrar, grim.
"Aaaah.... Yeah..." - Harold, troubled.
"Whose side is he on anyway?" - Maebh, with a sarcastic laugh.
"Probably not ours. And do you really want to find out?" - Kel'Serrar, with a laugh.
"Back to the problem at hand though, what do we do?" - Harold.
"Regarding that, I had an idea. Frozen blood right? If I immolate it, it's not frozen anymore. Breanna's already told us it has an a affinity for cold. So I suggest that if I melt the blood it might not be attracted to it, but leave the tripod intact so that if it is summoned, at least it can't break free because of us." - Kel'Serrar, thoughtful.
"Will that work Bree?" - Maebh, quickly.
The Leathe shrugs and then nods.
"I guess so."  - Breanna.
"That's good enough for me. Do it." - Maebh, to Kel'Serrar.
Everyone else nods and the ranger pulls an arrow from his quiver, concentrates for a moment and fire erupts from the shaft. He stabs the arrow into the block of blood-ice and watches as it begins to melt in contact with the superhot flames.

The arrow is ruined by the time the blood is melted, the flames having licked up the shaft and turned the hardwood to charcoal. He puts the arrow in his quiver anyway so as not to leave any evidence behind.

"Tremor and I have axes, we'll go break some doors in." - Harold, foregoing subtlety.
Breanna tests her key out on the lock of the warehouse they're already in, opening it with a slight *click* and giving the rest of the party condescending looks.
"To save time, Tremor and I will take every second one." - Harold, really wanting to hack down some defenceless doors.
Breanna and Maebh share an eyeroll and the party moves out. Tremor and Harold attack the next warehouse in the diamond while Breanna runs ahead to another one on the list and unlocks it with her key. Kel'Serrar and Maebh follow them, the ranger with a lit torch to melt the blood and the mage ready to do some serious dispelling.
Surprisingly, this all goes according to the plan, and within minutes they find themselves outside the first warehouse with the summoning diamond hopefully disrupted.  Every warehouse they attempted to get into, they did so and there was a contraption in each one. Somewhere along the line they even had time for Tremor to take a quick leak on the side of the warehouse.
Yet another occurrence of our special houserule, wherein if a player needs a bathroom break, we find a way for the character to do so too. We've not yet had to deal with this in combat to my memory, though I envisage it potentially being full of funny.

It was interesting to note that all of these warehouses had been recently completely cleared out and the last row are actually such recent constructions that they consider the possibility that they were created specifically for this ritual.

And then, trouble. From the direction of the town proper, they hear the sounds of a commotion of some description.
There are guards coming, wearing the Redwyn livery, not that of the town. They are wearing leather armour and armed with shields and a mix of maces and spears. These are the mayor's men.

The mayor Breanna recently killed.

There are ten of them and they are swiftly approaching.

"I don't really want to get into a drawn out combat that I will probably die in." - Dev.
"Well do you want to get into a short combat where you wound a few of them while the rest of us run?" - WIngs.
"No." - Dev.
"Right, well then. I'm running away." - Wings.
"My arrows will be going in the same direction as our dwarf." - Sins.
"I outrun your arrows!" - Wings.
"WHAT!?" - Ladyhawk and myself, practically simultaneously and cracking up with laughter. In hindsight, the funny part was just how he said it.
"Run fast little man, for I have twenty-three friends who fly faster than you." - Sins. And the whole table lost it. And after the event, I award him the Badass One-Liner of the Night Award. And it was glorious.

The group runs, taking cover amongst the warehouses, taking the warehouse furthest from the oncoming guards and barricading it from the inside. Unfortunately, Tremor attracts their attention as he runs, his chain hauberk clanking slightly.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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In a complete turnaround, Tremor's stealth failed him and the guards charge after him.
"Quick, that way!" - Guardsmen, after the dwarf.
Tremor, not wanting to lead the guards to the rest of the party, waves them on and changes direction, turning left and hoping to throw the guardsmen off.
Some OOC discussion where Maebh suggests a Wall of Blades between the Dwergar and his pursuers to allow him to get away, but Wings turns it down, wanting to do things differently.
The party looks back out at the Dwergar who nods at them before running towards the central warehouse, leading the guardsmen away from his companions. They take his cue and quickly close the door. Breanna, hidden with her Shadowskin and preternatural stealth skills, stays outside and relocks the door before scrambling up the wall and through a window.

"Quick, stop him before he gets to the centre!" - Guard sergeant to his men. The whole group hears this as the guards pass their warehouse, conforming that the guards are in league with the cult.

Hearing this, Harold growls.
"We can flank them." - Harold, to the rest of the group.
"Our assassin just locked the door Harold." - Kel'Serrar, pointing out a major flaw.
"Then open it for me." - Harold, with a grin.
Maebh readies a Wall of Blades as Kel'Serrar draws an arrow from his quiver.
"Stand back, this might be painful." - Kel'Serrar as he ignites his arrow. Magical flames ripple over it as his spell works.
The Danann draws his bow, takes a step forward and aims for the centre of the door, roughly where the lock is on the other side. And looses. The arrow slams the doors open and flames billow out, startling the guards who turn and look with horrified expressions as a tall Invarrian lays into them with axe and sword.
Tremor turns with his borrowed sword in hand, in time to see the explosion and grins in anticipation as the first of the guardsmen reach him.
Harold whirls into two of the stragglers, smashing them aside with consummate ease before running further out to his beleaguered companion, shoving his axe through his belt and drawing a shortsword over his shoulder. One of the guardsmen closing in on Tremor turns to face the duellist and takes one of Harold's swords on his shield. The guardsman is so amazed to have survived this onslaught, he loses his grip on his mace and drops it.

Kel'Serrar meanwhile prepares a Patriot Arrow, with just a little bit too much power and giving himself a splitting headache.

"Is there anything in the warehouse?" - LD.
"No there's not really save the gold and silver contraption. In fact, one thing you guys note is just how clean it is."
"You know, you could have put some loot in this scene for us." - Wings.
"There is. Walking loot. Whoever wanted ten maces and shields and some leather armour, you've got it."
"Right well then, is there any way I can affect this fight in any way whatsoever?" - LD, after the laughter had died down.
"You could go out and stab some guards."
"Right. I go out there with my carving knife and attack the first guy I see." - LD.
"Don't you have a dagger?" - Dev.
"I have two daggers, but I prefer to kill with my carving knife." - LD, just about creepily enough to give me nightmares that night.
"Okay..." - Dev, practically speechless. As we all were.
"Yeah, so I'll run out there.... And start swinging randomly, hoping to hit someone in the kneecap." - LD, to much laughter.
"I'm going to assume you meant you want to go out there and flank them?"
"In the kneecap!" - LD. And all lost their respective ****.

That's all for now. But I'll be back in a minute. :smallbiggrin:

EDIT* Here's the second part. Enjoy! :smallbiggrin:  (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=16397812&postcount=93)

Breanna runs out, shrouded in darkness and wielding a heavy carving knife. One of the guardsmen moving towards Tremor is unaware of the little assassin up until the point where he find his right leg will not move. He looks down and notices the his lower leg is lying upon the ground beneath him. And then he crumples, in too much shock to even feel the pain as he bleeds to death. Breanna's presence is unnoticed by all, having already moved on.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Tremor barrels past two guardsmen and meets up with Harold, cutting one of them down with his sword as he goes.
"THE RUM COMPELLS ME!" - Tremor, giving into his berserker blood.
Also, Wings wanted to roll an Intimidate Check on the second guardsman to try and avoid a Provoked Attack. Part of Tremor's background is that he has a massive case of blood-rage. We've still not decided if it's a curse or a disease or just something supernatural that will always remain mysterious, but it basically gave Tremor the Beserker Rage Trait virtually for free. As it was a characterful idea which explained his rampant alcoholism, I was happy for him to take it.

The guardsman grits his teeth and swigs at the Dwergar, but Tremor ducks under the mace with supreme ease and delivers a raking sword wound across the man's chest. He continues to run towards where Harold is facing a single disarmed guardsman.

Maebh steps out of the warehouse, with her readied spell crackling in her hands and anchors it between two warehouses, splitting the remaining three guardsmen from Harold, Tremor and Breanna with the disarmed guard, buying them some time. She takes quick stock of the situation and notices something alarming.

"One's missing!" - Maebh, letting the rest of the party know that one of the squad of ten guards has disappeared.

The disarmed guardsman in front of Harold throws his shield to the ground and hold his hands up, gaze flickering from Harold to Tremor and then back again. The Dwergar gives a snort of contempt and picks up the guardsman's mace and shield before stalking over to the Wall of Blades, where he eyes of the guardsmen on the other side. The man whose chest he carved open earlier has been eviscerated where he lay by the blades as they whirl through the air.
"Please, let me go. I don't want any trouble." - Disarmed guardsman, nervous.
"Why did you attack us then?" - Breanna, scoffing and still hidden.
"Wherever you are, whoever that was, I'm just doing my job." - Disarmed guardsman.
"Tell us everything and we'll let you go." - Maebh, striding up to the conversation.
"About what? I only started this job a week ago. I was a baker before that." - Guardsman. Up close they can tell he is quite young.
Dev asks if he can check to see if the guard is lying. They all roll and Harold is the only one to fail. So everyone thinks he's telling the truth, except Harold, who gets an inexplicable urge to beat the kid's face in because he just knows he's lying.
"The boy can go on his way-" - Maebh, cut off.
"No, no, I don't think-" - Harold, advocating a more permanent solution.
"After we release him from the storehouse which we lock him in." - Maebh, finishing her sentence.
Kel'Serrar gives a somewhat admiring chuckle from inside the warehouse.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Before a decision is made, from where Tremor is hurling abuse at them from the other side of the wall, one of the three stunned guardsmen has a brainwave.
"**** it, go round!" - Guardsman, who promptly sets off running with his fellows around the warehouses.
"Pick up your weapons and fight lad!" - Another grizzled guardsman with pepper grey hair and beard, to the younger disarmed guardsman upon coming face to face with Harold. He obviously didn't notice Tremor picking them up earlier.

The young guardsman backs off with his hands still raised until his back brushes against the wall of a warehouse with a saddened expression on his face.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Maebh sends of Gust of Wind toward the three oncoming guardsmen. Two of them are lifted off the ground by the force of her magic and thrown through the wall of a warehouse. The third is slightly more solidly built and manages to keep his feet through the buffeting wind. He braces himself with his shield before him but then finds himself cut down by Harold, who charges at him with sabre and shortsword.

"Brother!" - Disarmed guardsman, with quite a bit of grief.

Aww you made him cry." - Ladyhawk.
"Haha, you made him cry!" - LD.
"Argh! Who cares!" - Dev.

The guardsmen have been taken care of. Both guardsmen who went through the wall have not stirred, so the party assumes they're out for the count. So Harold, Tremor and Breanna spread out amongst the corpses and start to divest them of their money. Which is real sensitive in regards to their prisoner.

The rest of the party was not aware of this at the time, but Harold finished off the two unconscious guardsmen before looting the bodies.

Maebh approached the prisoner with three sulvers in her hand.
"You can have these if you leave town for a couple of days. At least until this all blows over." - Maebh, apologetic.
"I have nothing left here anymore. If you want me gone then I shall leave gladly." - Guardsman, wiping away tears.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The guardsman walks away and the group discuss how they're going to take on the central warehouse. They have bigger fish to fry.
"We're going to fry him? I'll get the oil!" - LD, maliciously.

"Let's burn it down." - Harold.
"In the pouring rain...." - Kel'Serrar.
Silence...
"I don't care." - Harold, with a slight smile.
"I don't care about your fancy 'laws of reality!" - Breanna, laughing.
"Can I have my longsword back?" - Harold, to Tremor who is busy adjusting the strap of his new shield, appropriated from the young guardsman.
"No." - Tremor, grimly and not even looking up.
"There's only one doorway in and out." - Breanna.
"Let's make our own entrance then." - Harold.

Maebh pools fire in her hands and sends it out in a roiling gout of flame which blasts the side-wall in. Inside, there is, a room.
"There are some walls, and, some ceilings... Wait! Just one ceiling." - LD and Ladyhawk. I used to quote Red vs Blue a lot and it seems to have rubbed off on them.
There is a cabal of warlocks in long, dark red robes. Wilmund Brewer is in pride of place, standing before a wrought iron pedestal, fashioned into the shape of a three-clawed hand, with hands upraised. Set into each of the claws is a thick, gleaming coin. Beside Brewer stands the Trickster, clad in nondescript drab grey. Five other warlocks stand in the warehouse, three men and two women. The missing guardsman is also here, sprawled on the ground with a jagged chunk of splintered wood embedded in his throat. 

Brewer looks up from where he is standing before the pedestal and his brow creases in frustration.
"Stop them. Quickly!" - Brewer, to his compatriots.
Breanna recognises what he's doing. He's in the middle of this summoning and she can tell that it's not going the way he wants it to. She surmises this is down to the group screwing with all of his lures.
Harold, the first to react, charges across the warehouse and smashes into one of the four warlocks who turned to stop the group when Brewer gave his command. The Invarrian manages to push both of them back, and both are badly injured by his blades, but neither goes down.

There is a flash of light from next to Brewer and with a strangled yelp, six identical copies of the Trickster flash into being. There is another flash of light and one of the copies gives another yelp of pain, turns blackened and burnt for a split second, and then disappears.

Having readied a Flaming Arrow earlier, Kel'Serrar draws it back and sends it towards Brewer, but the arrow flies wide and slams into the opposite wall, blasting a small hole in it.
Maebh calls up a tempest and flings it into the warehouse. Harold staggers slightly, but keeps his feet, while Brewer is taken by surprise and is blasted off his feet and into the opposite wall. The various Tricksters dissipate upon contact with the howling wind and there comes a thud from that wall, along with a muffled groan of pain, though there is nothing there to be seen. One of the female warlock flies into a wall and hits it with a sickening crack. She falls to the ground, lifeless.
One of the warlocks next to Harold managed to avoid the majority of the blast and starts clicking his fingers, trying to call up some sort of magic. With a small grin, Maebh figures that this must be the incompetent who was set to ward the lures.
The other warlock against Harold calls a flaming green dagger into existence is his hand and takes a swing at Harold. The Invarrian uses his decades of experience and takes the man's wrist high on the flat of his blade and guides it down beside him and into the chest of the clicking warlock, who falls to the ground with both a surprised expression and a gaping, steaming and corroding wound in his chest.

A successful use of the Fall on Their Own Blades Talent. Basically, on a successful Parry against one of two or more opponents, Harold may force the parried strike to hit one of his other enemies. They get a Reflex Save, but if they fail, they take the damage. It's a Talent which is designed to make the Duellist just a little better at taking on multiple opponents in a truly swashbuckling style.

Brewer staggers to his feet, looks around and appears to get pretty angry.
"If you've read Harry Potter, book B I believe." - A call-back to a previous conversation.
From the warlock's hands springs a roiling whip of fire, which then seeks out his first foe, Harold, but the wily Invarrian manages to roll away from the flames.

The only member of the cabal who is not yet engaged hurls a blast of fire at Maebh, who brings up a disc of shining gold energy between herself and the oncoming flames. Her shield absorbs the majority of the blast, but it doesn't stop it all and Maebh finds her arm is burnt.

Breanna ducks inside and makes for the warlock with the green flaming dagger. She takes her carving knife and puts it through the man's leg. He dies and his dagger gutters out into nothing.

Tremor charges inside with his hatchet in hand and a looted shield strapped to his arm. Brewer's whip cracks at the Dwergar, but it slams into his shield instead, singeing Tremor and staggering him slightly, but still he carries on. He slams his shield into the warlock, pushing him back with a roar of fury before caving his chest in with the hatchet, smashing him to the ground and almost decapitating him with the rim of the shield. 

Three cries of anguish ring out, one from what seems to be nowhere as Tremor practically mutilates their leader. Harold charges at one of the surviving warlocks and cuts him down easily. Kel'Serrar puts an arrow in the last one and brings her down.

Running footsteps can be heard heading for the breach Kel'Serrar made earlier. Maebh uses Trueseeing and all of a sudden, she can see him. And he looks terrified. The Danann mage throws two blasts of fire at him, one of which hits him and the other slams into the wall before him. The Trickster falls to the ground, flames wreathing his body. She walks over to him.
"I got you, bitch." - Maebh, putting her spear through his throat and grinning.
And that's it. The cabal is finished.

Harold walks over to the two female cultist and pulls back the hoods. His suspicions however are unfounded when he finds that neither woman is Dhara.
Breanna, Tremor and Maebh go to the pedestal and Breanna explains that the coins seem to be a receptacle for daemonic power, however they are empty. Tremor takes them out of the pedestal and hands one each to Maebh and Breanna, taking the third for himself.
Tremor then joins Kel'Serrar and Harold in looting the bodies, picking up some money and the Dwergar grabs an amulet from Brewer himself. It is a gold medallion on a silver chain, the symbol of a burning pine tree carved into the token. He hands it to Maebh, who studies the enchantment on it, but comes to no conclusion other than it appears to be enchanted with preternaturally good luck. The mage hands it back to him, informing him that it is safe. Tremor puts it around his neck.
Breanna picks up a book from the young warlock, recognising it as a banned text. She has seen it before though never read it.
In essence, Daemon Summoning for Dummies.
Maebh searches the Trickster's smoking corpse and finds very little. Some spare coins and a small note.

Quote from: Trickster's Note
Morgaris,

Remember to fill out last quarter's trade report when you get home.

They take a moment to breath, before heading out. The cult's been taken out. It's time to leave.

And we left it there....

The Wrap-Up
Okay, first up that was quite an enjoyable session. Now on to the interesting debates we had.

First Rant: Dev expressed here that of the party, the Danann were not playing their characters completely right. Now that is dangerous ground to be treading to begin with, but he did back up his argument with examples.
Maebh: Hates humans and would think nothing of sacrificing them according to her background, is suddenly squeamish about killing an innocent.
Kel'Serrar: Much the same, except that he was indifferent in the event anyway.

In response, Sins said that Kel'Serrar didn't really care anyway, while Ladyhawk defended herself by saying that interacting with the group has led to her softening in general as she's realised that her people have cast her out and maybe that other peoples are perhaps worthy of more than just a swift death. Dev still believed that she was playing herself and not her character, something Ladyhawk took some offence at, believing that instead she was playing out a more complex arc of her character's development.

Second Rant: Dev then expressed that he could not believe that the players were getting emotionally attached to this NPC. As far as he was concerned, the sympathy they felt was not something he felt should be taken so seriously. Personally I feel that if you are not emotionally invested in a story and the characters then there is no real point in playing, but I recognise that people so play differently. The problem is when someone tries to force others to play their way when the others don't really want to. An interesting observation I guess.

Anyway, that's it for the second arc. Session 3.1 has been played and I will get to that soon, but for now this is all. I'm also going to make the stat blocks of each character available online for the readers to take a look at.

Cheers,

Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:13:48 AM
Session 3.1: Fire, Smoke and Dwarven Catapults

Welcome to Session 3.1
"Interrupting noise!" - Dev.
"Aaaand, we've killed Sins." - In response to Sins who has faceplanted on the table.

I ask if they wanted to actually play out their escape or just time-jump to wherever they want to go. Dev wanted to time-jump but the rest of the group seemed to be pretty set on at least playing the escape from the town.

Personally I expected them to go for the time-jump. I thought they couldn't wait to get the hell out of Summer Hill.

The cart is in the courtyard behind the White Stallion, along with Harold's horse, which he had picked up from the stables earlier that morning and hitched to a tree next the wagon. The marcwolves were both tied up as well. The group decides that they need to get there and quickly.

Before they leave, Tremor finishes the decapitation job on Brewer and quickly fashions a sack for it from the man's robes, following Kel'Serrar's suggestion that they are far more likely to be paid if they have evidence of Brewer's demise.

"We need to get to the east gate." - Maebh.
"What happens if they are closed, barred, whatever?" - Harold, tightening the straps of his cuirass.
"Well we blow them open. I've done it before, I'll do it again. It's just on a larger scale this time." - Maebh, wanting to get on the move.
"We could make a dwarf-hole!" - LD.
"Because dwarf doors are invisible when closed." - Dev, knowingly.

They exit the now swiftly burning warehouse.
"Wonder who that was? And the two madly grinning Danann answer the question."
"And there's a slightly disappointed Invarrian watching them." - Dev.
"Who's also on fire." - Sins.
"It's okay. Just a little bit. Like a shoulder." - Ladyhawk.
"It's only in your hair man." - Sins.
"But I'm covered in hair!" - Dev.

They exit the warehouse district and are closing in on the tavern, when they notice movement on the streets ahead. Several squads of guardsmen coming closer at a steady jog.
This particular district of Summer Hill is laid out in something approaching a grid. Luckily for the party, by the time the squads of guardsmen started arriving, they were only two streets away from the tavern where they had left their wagon.

Maebh and Kel'Serrar turned right as soon as they saw the guards, thinking to go down the street the White Stallion was on and approach it directly. Tremor and Harold, realising that they were definitely going to be the most noticeable of the group, continue to move straight to the east gate, drawing the majority of the guards away from the mage and ranger. Breanna decides to hell with it and climbs onto the rooftops while the others take a moment to discuss the plan, and proceeds to leap from rooftop to rooftop without any difficulties.

Breanna passes any tests she is required to make by a minimum of five degrees of success, something the group decided meant she was practically flying over the rooves. We have joked about her microwaving her dice to achieve better numbers, but so far she has vigorously denied doing so.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Harold, on horseback, leans out of the saddle and heaves Tremor up behind him, regardless of the Dwergar's indignation. The two of them then canter down the street, towards what they assume is a squad of guardsmen.

Seeing Breanna scramble onto the rooftops, Kel'Serrar and Maebh exchange a glance and then follow her up there themselves, struggling a little more to gain purchase than did the abnormally strong Leathe. The ranger pulls himself up, but Maebh slips in the rain and would have fallen if not for Kel'Serrar's help.

"Can I assist her Climbing Check?" - Sins.
"Yes, you can actually. Especially since you're already up there yourself."
"Do you have any rope?" - Wings.
"Yes I do. I have the entire party's supply of rope actually." - Sins.
"....Why!?" - Wings.
"Because nobody has taken it off me yet." - Sins.
"Well fair enough. I wouldn't take it off you, mainly because you will shoot me." - Wings.
"... Yes. Yes I probably would. My rope." - Sins.

The jumping from rooftop to rooftop is made a fair bit more difficult by the rain, which is gradually getting heavier and heavier. Breanna succeeds quite well. The two Danann however find themselves being dragged up onto each roof by whichever one manages to avoid slipping and falling. Once they reach the first street, the two Danann clamber down, finding the rooftops just a little too dangerous. Where they climb down, Breanna practically soars over the street, moving at incredible pace, rolling immediately into yet another springing leap to bring her onto the roof of the dwelling adjacent from the tavern. From her vantage point, she can see the various squads of guardsmen marching towards the warehouse district. At least one squad will reach the tavern before the Danann. As the Danann start to make their way to the tavern, that squad notices them and the guards break into a brisk run, thinking to apprehend them before they reach their cart.

The squad which is running towards them is comprised of four regular guardsmen, clad in the livery of house Silverwood and armed with maces and shields. They are led however, by a large man in heavy armour who wields a broad-bladed shortsword and a large, rectangular shield. He carries no livery however, so they are unaware of his place of origin. As they get closer to the two Danann, they start to move slower and more cautiously, spreading out along the breadth of the road so as to avoid the Danann from running past. In response, Maebh calls up a torrent of raging water, knocking most of them over and snapping the arm of one of the guards.

Kel'Serrar hits the leader of the group with a Patriot Arrow, which punches into his abdomen and leaves him dying on the ground as the two Danann sprint at full speed to where the guardsmen are still recovering from the magical deluge they just suffered.

As the Dwergar and Invarrian canter down the street on horseback, they are surprised by a squad which jogs around the corner ahead of them. Another squad of five men, their leader is clad in heavier armour and wielding a spear, something Harold doesn't want near his horse.
"Wait, you're developing a horse-powered dwarf catapult?"
"PG gets it! I'm so happy." - Wings, laughing.
"On a scale of one to stupid, this is stupid." - Ladyhawk.
"Right, so you're okay with it?" - Dev, to me.
Silent, wondering nod.
"Sooo, how do we do it?" - Dev.
"I can't guarantee you will survive this." - Harold, over his shoulder to Tremor.
"Wha-?" - Tremor, as he is grabbed by the Invarrian and, with the aid of his horse's momentum as Harold wheels it around, is thrown into the midst of the formation of guards, crushing the sergeant and running another guardsman through with his hastily drawn sword.
"Whee!" - Tremor, inevitably drunk, this time on horsepower. (Pardon the pun.)

Still mounted, Harold finds himself surrounded by three guardsmen who are attempting to pull him down to kill him. The horse, they can sell.
"Tremor, take the one on my left!" - Harold, using his horse to push through the guards and swinging at the two others on the right. One guardsman goes down with a sabre strike to the neck, while the other manages to get his shield in between the Invarrian's blade and his head.
Tremor meanwhile picks up the vanquished sergeant's spear and hurls it through the guardsman. Somewhat sadistically, Tremor grinds his boot into the sergeant's broken arm as he stands up before moving towards the Invarrian. The Dwergar takes a moment to relieve himself on the side of a dwelling while he watches Harold's flashing blade bring down the last guardsman of the squad.

The various companions make their way swiftly towards the inn, cutting their respective ways through any squads they come across. Points of interest include Tremor taking out a captain and a guardsman together with a single, scything blow, Breanna dropping from a rooftop to put a knife through the head of a guardsman who was heading towards Maebh and Kel'Serrar and those selfsame Danann putting down two squads together between them with a storm of arrows and magic. In all, the party fights as a well-oiled machine, save for the fact that the party fights as a barely organised bunch of quite powerful individuals.

Ah well...

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Maebh takes a moment to rush inside the inn and answer the call of nature while Kel'Serrar stands in front of the wagon and covers the streets with his bow, Breanna standing beside him with knives at the ready.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Once Maebh had finished in the inn, she quickly comes out and hitches her horse to the cart before the three of them mount up. On their way, they pick up Tremor, while Harold rides on slightly ahead, riding down the occasional guardsman who gets in his way.

While sitting in the cart, the party recognises that the heavily armoured leaders of the guardsmen are armed in the fashion of Elspeth legionnaires. Which is enough to worry the companions regarding the talons that kingdom seems to have inserted into the town.

During this ride, Harold attempts to intimidate a squad of legionnaires. Holding his sword high, he induces his horse into rearing.
"Death to Elspeth and your whore-queen!" - Harold, brandishing his blade.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The wagon heads at a breakneck pace through the streets of Summer Hill, until it comes to a halt, a mere bowshot from the eastern gate. The gates are closed and the gatehouse manned by guards bearing the Summer Hill livery.

Harold notes that Captain Setllamach is in command of the guards.
"Royan!" - Harold, calling up to the gatehouse, upon which some guardsmen level low-powered bows at the Invarrian. The rest stand ready with spears to repel anyone who comes up the stairs to use the winch to open the gate.
"Sir Oakenshield. I hoped it wouldn't come to this." - Setllamach, grim.
"Come to what?" - Harold, either trying to bluff or genuinely confused.
"The mayor is dead. You killed him." - Setllamach, laying the charges.
"No I didn't!" - Harold.
"I did!" - Breanna, somewhat cheerfully.
"Technically then, your companion committed the murder. That is still something you all must answer for, despite your various other actions including arson, break and enter and destruction of property." - Setllamach.
"What witnesses are there to pin the mayor's death on Breanna?" - Harold.
"Does it matter? She just confessed. But regardless, I shall tell you. The Lady Silverwood has it that the Leathe was seen leaving the mayor's office and followed her to the outskirts of the town as she was suspicious. As it happened, she had good reason to be so." - Setllamach. From this it can be deduced that the Lady Silverwood has some magical ability as she was able to detect the Leathe, and has since lied about who was following who.
"I've seen what you can do and I know a mere man like I cannot stop you. But I am bound by my duty to stand in your way, and by my honour I will not stand aside." - Setllamach, resigned to his fate.

A tough thing to put to the group because on the whole they liked him. Only Tremor and Breanna actually considered killing him at all, something both Harold and Maebh agreed was the wrong thing to do.

"Then Royan, I am sorry. Maebh, blow the gates." - Harold.
The Danann mage blasts open the gates with a fireball, blowing the portal open and allowing the cart to storm through as the guards atop the wall look on in helplessness as they were thrown to the floor. A few guards immediately send up the call for water to put out Maebh's fire, while a handful more take up their bows.
Harold, trotting behind the wagon stops and turns back to Royan with a self-satisfied grin. Without being able to help it, the captain of the guard gives a small smile and waves a hand to call off the archers.
"My friend, you may want to sort out the fire and fix the gate!" - Harold, calling back.
"I shall. Take care on the roads, you will be hunted!" - Setllamach.
The wagon too draws to a stop and Maebh stands on it and calls back.
"Beware the Lady Silverwood. You will find that we destroyed a cult in our time here which intended to bring down your town from within. She was part of that cult." - Maebh, shouting, although Setllamach makes no indication of having heard.
"Cause she's a douchebag!" - Breanna, in a sing-song voice, delivering the finishing touch.

With that, the party begins their long ride to the east, hoping to get within Naillish territory.

And that is the proper end of the second arc.

On the plus side though, that means that now the third arc begins for real. And I will be back with that soon.

Cheers,

The companions have found themselves on the road east, travelling for many weeks. They remain unmolested on the road, and gradually push further and further into the kingdom of Naille.

On this journey, the marcwolves begin to grow. Outside of any constraints, they now run alongside the wagon, climbing up into it to sleep at night. Most of the party spend the time deep in thought and thinking about what they have done and where they are going. Tremor takes the opportunity to imbue some of his equipment with power, laying runes upon them.
I do not actually have a list yet of what Tremor did, only that he has done so.

At one point on the journey, after unhitching her horse from the wagon after a hrd day's journey, Maebh took the beast aside to graze. She had felt herself become more and more attached to the creature as the journey had progressed, and now felt sure enough in her own power to attempt to bind the horse as a familiar. Reaching out with her consciousness, she mentally touched the horse's mind and was overcome with a wave of calm, assurance and overwhelmingly, curiosity. And so did Toirneach become bound to Maebh, awakened in a sense by a small portion of her being.
We did come up with a backstory for Toirneach, which was quite interesting. For visualisation, think a black Andalusian horse. Gameplay wise, the horse is able to communicate with her through a mind-link. The downside being that there are those who may be able to tell that they are bound and that Toirneach's death could put Maebh out of action for a while. Any pain one feels is felt by the other, and they do, to a certain extent share emotional reactions too, though this is limited and can be controlled.

After this substantial journey, the main road peels off and into a riverside village. A nearby signpost declares the village is named Dreven. In terms of how to visualise it, think of Riverwood from Skyrim.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The company leaves the wagon by the western gate of the township and lead the two horses to the stables. Unusually for a village in these parts, not only is there a dedicated stable for livestock, but it is situated within the walls of the town, which are squat, sturdy stone affairs, roughly eight feet high. The marcwolves tag alongside Breanna and Harold, both having grown to the size of large sheep. They are well behaved though, to an extent. They are wild animals after all, and their trainers are amateurs, so they are rather rowdy and don't always do as their told. Despite this, Harold manages to get them both in the stable without too much difficulty, having to grease the stable-master's hand with just a little more copper than if he was just stabling a dog.
"Make sure you get in the common room of the inn tonight, eh?" - Stable-master, pocketing his copper and looking up at the sky with a bit of trepidation.
"Why is that?" - Harold.
"It wouldn't do to speak of it out here. Make sure you get inside. And all your friends too." - Stable-master, walking away.
Harold shrugs his shoulders and heads off to the inn.

Kel'Serrar heads to the smithy and sees a massive bear of a Northmann, easily seven foot tall working at his forge.
"Good afternoon." - Blacksmith, looking up from his work and wiping his brow.
"Good afternoon. I was wondering, would you have any arrows for sale?" - Kel'Serrar.
"Hmm, I have arrow-heads. How many would you like?" - Blacksmith, frowning.
"Five should be enough." - Kel'Serrar.
"Well then I can do that. Hang around for about half an hour and I should be able to let this sit by then and I will go sort it out for you. Is there anything else you might be after?" - Blacksmith, about to take up his hammer once more.
"Fine, I'll cave. I might be looking for a sword." - Kel'Serrar, with a wry grin.
"Ah, then you are in luck! I have been called one of the finest swordsmiths in Naille. Once I am finished here I will show you my wares." - Blacksmith, nodding to the ranger and then going back to his work.

Tremor makes his way to the general store and has some time to look around. A bearded man at the back of the store looks up and smiles at the newcomer.
"Ah, what can I do for you my friend?" - Shopkeeper.
"I need this identified." - Tremor, drawing forth his unidentified root.
"Hmm, I'm afraid I do not know. But, tell you what. Magdalyn, out the back of the village, she might know." - Shopkeeper.
"Do you have writing materials and or paper?" - Tremor, swiping the root back into his pouch.
"Ah, that we do. I don't really sell much in that way out here, but of course that means I have quite the backlog! What would you like?" - Shopkeeper, with a laugh.
Tremor purchases various writing instruments and a quantity of parchment to replace that which was stolen.
"Ah, I have another thing for you to look at. Can you identify this?" - Tremor, fishing his amulet out from under his shirt.
"Look friend, I am sorry but I could not say. From the sheen on it, I would say that magic was involved in its forging and I would pay a handsome price for it, but I couldn't tell you of any properties it may have beyond the natural." - Shopkeeper, apologetic.
At this point Maebh walks in, having stabled Toirneach and seen to his feed and water.
"Oh! Another newcomer to our village. What can I do for you?" - Shopkeeper.
"Just looking around for now." - Maebh, quietly and almost to herself.
"Well then, do let me know if you need anything." - Shopkeeper, obviously unnerved.

Kel'Serrar takes a walk around the village, at first to clear his mind, but then he starts to look at the place as a potential battlefield. The village is too quiet to be a cheerful place, the overcast sky lending an ominous air. Several dwellings on the outskirts are abandoned and others show the signs of having been under attack. Windows are barred, doors heavily reinforced and anyone on the street looks to be a in a severe hurry to get back inside. Unsettled, the ranger heads back to the blacksmith, who is just laying his work to rest after quenching the steel in the trough.
"Good timing! So, arrowheads and a sword was it? Follow me and I shall see what Ingir can do for you." - Ingir, good naturedly.
The blacksmith leads Kel'Serrar into a workshop and rifles through some draws before withdrawing five arrowheads and placing them on the wooden counter.
"Now for swords." - Ingir, absent-mindedly going through finished pieces.
He eventually places a collection of arming swords upon the counter and, after testing the balance and heft, the Danann picks out one he would like.
In the end Kel'Serrar gets a good deal on the blade and arrowheads and heads outside with his purchases, thinking about how he's going to fletch some arrows.

Harold walks into the tavern, thinking to get himself a room and maybe some food for his marcwolf. Upon coming in, he realises that the common room is being used as a communal area for most of the village, with bedrolls everywhere. A short blond man at the bar looks up.
"Ah, a newcomer. We don't get many here anymore. Can I help you?" - Innkeeper.
"I think I may be here for a while." - Harold.
"Unfortunately, all our rooms on the second floor are taken, but there is still room here in the common room." - Innkeeper.
"That will be fine. I'll pay for two nights right now." - Harold, handing over the sulvers.
"Is there anything else you may be after?" - Innkeeper, having fleeced the Invarrian something shocking.
"Yes actually, meat for my wolf please. In fact, I'd better go get him now." - Harold, with a malicious grin, knowing he has been ripped off and fully intending to get back at the innkeeper.
"What does he eat?" - Innkeeper, somewhat faintly.
"Meat." - Harold.
"An old ram was slaughtered today. He'll take mutton?" - Innkeeper, looking steadily more uncomfortable.
"Aye, he'll eat almost anything really." - Harold, far too cheerful.
Harold then heads out to the stables to retrieve his marcwolf, and then gets sidetracked by the blacksmith.

Maebh looks around the store and is singularly unimpressed by what she finds. There really does seem to be nothing of any interest. She is just about to head out in disgust when she notices a glint from the corner of the room.  There is a golden dagger on the floor, a short blade which appeared to have fallen from a table at some point. The blade is golden and the hilt seems to have been wrapped in a form of white leather. She cannot see a sheathe around, but picks it up and finds that it is quite dusty and has been there for quite a while. Interestingly, it is of a Danann design and she thinks she has seen this blade somewhere before, though she cannot place its origin.

Tremor makes his way to what he was informed was Magdalyn's house, a dilapidated affair on the outskirts of the village. It is quite overgrown, vines creeping up the walls. The front door is barely on its hinges, but Tremor knocks anyway out of politeness.
"Just lift the door and come in!" - Woman's voice, calling from inside.
Tremor takes the door and opens it with more difficulty than one would expect from a small wooden door before walking in. The interior is considerably more well-kept, with firelight spilling from a room to the right. Tremor moves towards it and comes across a young Selkye woman stirring a large iron cauldron. She is small and lightly built and clad in a simple dark green dress.
"So, what can I do for you?" - Magdalyn, not looking up from her cauldron.
"I was told you could identify this root for me." - Tremor, fishing the root out of his pouch.
The woman laughs at his unintentional pun and then takes the root (I'm so sorry) from the Dwergar.
"Ah, you have found something interesting. This is bloodroot. You can make heaps of things out of this, but the most common use is if you grind it up, add a little water and you get a rich sauce." - Magdalyn.
"Hmm, that's nice. Anything else?" - Tremor.
"Some people believe that when mixed with lavender it has healing properties, though that's stretching a bit. Other than that, just use it as food flavouring." - Magdalyn.
"So why did you say it was interesting?" - Tremor, disappointed.
"Well, because it is rare. Particularly in these parts. It requires pretty special conditions for it to grow." - Magdalyn.
Tremor is about to leave when he has a thought.
"Hmm, can you teach me any of your craft?" - Tremor.
"Yes I can, but you will have to be willing to learn." - Magdalyn, who spends the next few hours teaching Tremor the basics of herblore. With a bit of lavender and his bloodroot and a lot of water, Tremor is able to craft three small vials of a healing liquid. The two part ways on good terms, one happy with his newfound knowledge and the other with the progress of her student.

Harold drops off his weapons at the blacksmith for service and sells the shields and maces, the wood Ingir will use for firewood and the iron maces can be melted down.   Harold looks at the blades Ingir has available, one in particular catching the Invarrian's eye. Almost three feet, utilitarian hilt and a tempered, blued steel blade.
"I have not seen a blade of such exceptional craftsmanship." - Harold.
"My forge is exceptionally hot. A mage came through these parts a few years back and I asked her a favour. The payment was harsh, but she came through for me and now my forge-fires never die and can reach higher temperatures than I have ever before felt." - Ingir.
"That must work very well for you." - Harold.
"Aye, as difficult as the payment was, it was worth it." - Ingir.
Harold spends a lot and gains a blade of masterwork quality.

Standing in the corner of the general store, staring at the dagger in her hands, Maebh starts when the shopkeeper calls out from behind his bench.
"Have you found something you like?" - Shopkeeper.
"Yes.... Yes." - Maebh, preoccupied.
"Hmm, I have never seen that before..." - Shopkeeper, walking around to her. "I may... have to ask for that I'm afraid. Yes. It's not for sale." - Shopkeeper, holding out his hand and looking troubled.
Maebh hesitates, but eventually hands it over. Almost immediately, the shopkeeper produces a bolt of cloth and wraps the dagger in it. Almost as if he fears to touch it...

While all this is going on, Breanna just finds a tree, climbs it and has a quick sleep.

And we left it there....
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:14:13 AM
Session 3.2: Sleepless Nights and Undead Wolves

The dead line of the Wildermonts once held Blackfort on Mount Dove, an ancient and now abandoned stone fastness built into the side of the mountain in a forgotten age. The Wildermont kings ruled the lands surrounding Mount Dove with a firm and yet fair hand. In a time where the forests were even more untamed than today and villages were under constant threat of attack from neighbouring kingdoms, the Blackfort's positioning gave the Wildermont kings a strong strategic position to strike out at invading forces from. In time, the kings of Wildermont were renowned as the most powerful of those in the western Midlands.

And then one man took the throne who never should have.

History has never recorded if his condition stemmed from causes mundane or arcane in origin, but once the Wolf King was crowned, the lands surrounding Mount Dove would never be the same....

- From Records of the Ancient History of the Naillish Kingdoms.

"Welcome to Session 3.2-"
"You lost The Game." - LD.
"Ah, and there we go again." - Wings, despairing.
LD fails to open her dicebag and drops it on the floor.
"LD verses inanimate object." - Sins.
"So far, inanimate object seems to be winning." - Dev, to general laughter.
"Proof if ever it was needed that the assassin should never have to go up against inanimate objects." - Sins.

So the company finds themselves in the village of Dreven. It is late afternoon and various things have happened around the village. Harold's had his metal objects polished and sharpened, Maebh is upset she's had to hand over a nice golden dagger she found in the general store, Tremor's spent the afternoon with a witch who has taught him all kinds of witchery, Breanna's spent the afternoon sleeping in a tree and Kel'Serrar bought some stuff and buggered around for a while.

The sky is becoming rather dark and overcast and it would surprise no one for rain to set in later. But before we see to that, we must cut back to Maebh, who is still conversing with the owner of the general store.
"Why do you not want to sell it?" - Maebh inquires, regarding the dagger.
"Because I do not know where it has come from, but it is not for sale." - Store owner, looking troubled.
Perception Check from Maebh reveals that he is uneasy about the situation, though most people would be uneasy alone in a room with an irate Danann.
The store owner retreats back behind the counter.
"Very well. If you change your mind, do let me know." - Maebh, before turning and leaving the store.

Tremor is walking down the main road of the village thinking about how he will use not only his new-found witchcraft but also his runecraft which he learnt in secret before he was exiled from home. His initial thoughts are to steal some pieces of equipment from Harold's extensive armoury to practice on, but he discards that for the more honest approach.
"Harold, may I have a word with you?" - Tremor, gruff as he has not had a drink since noon.
"Yes..." - Harold, wary as he knows the Dwergar is prone to sudden changes in character. It would not be out of the realm of possibility for the next ten minutes to become either village-wide drinking contest or an all-out brawl between two very competent warriors.
"Would you have spare pieces of armour I could practice my runecraft on?" - Tremor, inquiring.
"I might do. What were you thinking?" - Harold.
"Runes of protection and fortitude which will hold them strong in battle mainly." - Tremor, already thinking ahead and not focussing entirely on the conversation to hand.
"Aye, I believe I can lend you something." - Harold, grabbing his vambraces and handing them over. "Will these do?"
"Aye, but I hope you won't miss them too much if I bugger it up." - Tremor, taking them.
Tremor takes the bracers to the workbench near Ingir's forge and begins to carefully chisel protective runes into the steel. In little time at all he has completed his task and hands his handiwork back to the Invarrian.
"Thank you." - Harold, taking the vambraces.
Tremor is already thinking about his next project and ignores the duellist. He wanders off to the wagon and picks up his greatsword, bringing it back to Ingir's workbench. He then spends the next half an hour chiselling runes into the blade which will allow him to send molten silver flying from the blade on his command.

Having perfected the runes necessary to provide what he heard described as the Silver Arrow effect, Tremor finds Breanna and offers to give her more powerful weapons. The Leathe, awoken from her slumber throws down her knives to the Dwergar and tells him to go away. Happily, Tremor wanders back to the forge and chisels the runes in, working past the time where the sun dips into the horizon and the majority of the light he is working by is given off by the forge-fires Ingir is still working.

Soon enough Breanna wanders past the smithy and reclaims her knives from the Dwergar, the two of them joining Harold in heading to the inn.

"Now over the course of this journey you have befriended your horse and given him a name." - To Ladyhawk. "Which reminds me, LD and Dev, your marcwolves have gone a hell of a long time without names. They were introduced in the first session..."
"Well, Mark...." - LD offers helpfully.
"What? And Wolfe?" - Sarcastic.
"Ah that's it! Wolfgang! Mine is Wolfgang!" - LD, happily.
"Wolfgang von Markus?"
"Haha that is.... My marcwolf's name." - LD
"And keeping with the minstrel theme, Bach." - Sins, to generally laughter.
"What about Amadeus?" - Ladyhawk.
"I'm torn between Amadeus and... Bach." - Dev, lengthening the syllables of the latter due to his distinctive Dev-ian accent.
Laughter all round.
"Well, roll off then." - Wings.
"Wait, whatever you don't call your marcwolf, you call your horse."
"Okay, the horse is Amadeus. The wolf is Bach." - Dev.
"I'd like to point out for the sake of the recording, you did this." - Sins, blaming me for starting this tangent.

The companions meet up in the tavern and obtain a table. The barkeep wanders over to them.
"I have already spoken with you Invarrian, but not your companions. I imagine you will need a place to stay the night?" - Barkeep, trying to be friendly.
"How much will this cost? Because if it's expensive, back to the tree I go." - Breanna.
"Two sulvers to stay in the common room. We have no more rooms available upstairs." - Barkeep, frowning slightly.
"No rooms available?" - Maebh, frowning.
"No, none." - Barkeep.
"So we'll be down here with other people, on the floor?" - Maebh, frowning even more.
"Yes." - Barkeep.
"I am not staying here. I'll set up my own tent out near the cart." - Maebh, with finality.
"I will too. This is ridiculous." - Breanna.
"I can't recommend that. You really should come in." - Barkeep.
"Of course you would say that, you're charging us for the privilege of using your floor." - Maebh.
"I cannot say, for the Wolf Lord might hear, but for your sake, you should all be indoors when night falls." - Barkeep.
"Fine, I'll pitch my tent inside. I want privacy. And I refuse to pay extra for that." - Maebh.
"It's two sulvers to stay the night in the common room. What you do once you have paid is your business." - Barkeep, shrugging.
The company pays the barkeep for shelter for the night.
"Now, tell us. Who is the Wolf Lord?" - Maebh.
"I cannot say, for if he hears me it would draw terrible vengeance upon us." - Barkeep, leaning in and keeping his voice low.
"Who could I ask for more information?" - Maebh, just as conspiratorial.
"Look, stay in the village tonight and you will know why I am wary." - Barkeep.
He looks around the common room and the companions follow his gaze. They realise that the majority of the village seems to have congregated inside the building. Many of the people look to have abandoned their homes and now are living out of the inn.

A small period of discussion here is turned off topic as Wings describes how he will propose the next Tremor and Harold vs Norbayne drinking contest.
"I have decided that Dev will be the drinking drinker tonight." - Wings, launching into a planning monologue.
"Meanwhile, Dev is sitting here scratching his head, thinking, "What the actual f***?" - Dev, laughing.
"While Harold is sitting, thinking, "Ale!!!!" - Sins, to more laughter.
"No guys, wait, you didn't let me explain! I'm going to stand up on the table and call out, "Ten sulvers to the one who can outdrink my man here!" - Wings, trying to derail things further.
"Well before the crowd goes to stupid, can we get something to eat?" - Ladyhawk.

The inn provides meals to its patrons as a matter of course. The fare is simple, a cut of roasted meat, a hunk of bread and a slice of hard cheese. Usually there would be more variety available, but times are hard in Dreven.

Plates are promptly served to the companions, who delve in with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The meat is overcooked to the liking of the Danann for instance, but the irritating habit they have found amongst other Midlanders of providing vegetation as foodstuffs is absent, much to their relief.

"So, how about we liven this place up a bit, eh? I'll put my money up for anyone who can outdrink my mate here." - Tremor, friendly to the barkeep.
"I am sorry, but we have not received any goods in town for a long while. I simply cannot afford to do anything like that." - Barkeep, apologetic.

The people within the inn are quiet and subdued, none of them willing to make eye contact with the strangers, let alone strike up conversation. Outside the inn, those few people who are not sheltering there at night shut up their houses and shore up any points of egress as well as possible.

Ingir the smith has finished his work and practically barricades himself inside his house. Having seen how the populace prepares for the evening, what was initially thought to be extreme reinforcement of the stable and inn are now viewed in a new light.

The feeling inside the inn is that few outside will survive.

A hallway upstairs has a window which looks out over the stable, allowing Maebh to potentially look out over her horse. The window is barred too, making it difficult for anything to get in.

Night falls. Families huddle together in the common room of the inn. A small child begins to cry and the way the nervous mother hushes the small boy gives the feeling that they've been in this situation before.

Through the mind-link with Toirneach, Maebh can feel a growing sense of restlessness. The other animals in the stable, livestock, dogs and the few other horses start to panic and even the normally stoic Toirneach finds himself getting nervous. The sounds of the animals in their panicked state can be heard clearly from within the inn.

Harold walks upstairs and looks out the window. The sun has set and dark heavy clouds shroud the skies. Two torches have been lit in the iron brackets on either side of the western gate, brave men having run out and set them in the brackets before retreating to the safety of the inn. Aside from those two points of light, Harold can see nothing from his vantage point.

Everything is black.

A low thunder builds in the distance and the wind begins to blow harder through the trees. The thunder gets closer and louder as the minutes roll by. From within the stable, Toirneach is starting to panic, caught up in the same mad frenzy as the rest of the animals inside. His great black shoulder slams hard into the side of his stall and the stallion screams into the night. Through her mind-link, Maebh can feel that panic and fear, but with a great force of will, she pushes the emotions aside.

Willpower Check from Toirneach is failed, so he succumbs to Fear. Due to the mind-link, Maebh must also take the same Check with a negative equal to how much Toirneach failed by, in this case netting her a -17 to the Check. Which is hefty, but not insurmountable. Her Check is passed, and she manages to retain control of her own emotions.

Having a familiar has its upsides, but there's some disadvantages too.

Kel'Serrar slips deep into a trance where he sits upon the floor, trying to determine just what is coming. His mind's eye leaves his own consciousness, affording him an eagle-eye view of what is transpiring.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Kel'Serrar swiftly notices that the rolling thunder is in fact the sound of hundreds of paws hitting the ground at great speed, but it takes some time for his mind to adjust to the new perspective he is being granted. The spectral vision of his mind's eye reveals the area around the gate, where there is a great rushing pack of creatures, subtle hints in the air suggesting both that they are both wolves and not of the living variety. Such is Kel'Serrar's attunement to the world around him, he can tell that they are not breathing, nor are their hearts beating.

"What is it?" - Tremor, to the Danann ranger.
"Wolves, but this is no ordinary pack..." - Kel'Serrar, mumbling in his trance.

From his window, Harold can see only the vaguest of shapes passing by on the street below. There is a series of sickening thuds, a crash and then the screaming begins in earnest from further within the village.

Harold attempts to sniff but, has no luck smelling over the smells of the various people in the tavern and the woodsmoke permeating the inn.

The darkness outside seems to be drawing closer and closer to the torches, drowning the light being emitted.

"Can we kill the things now?" - Wings.
"Well, if you want to go outside..."
"No, I don't want to go outside. Not yet. I want to find out if we can kill them." - Wings.
"If they have stats, we can kill them... I'd like to point out that we also have stats..." - Sins.

The screaming ceases. The pack thunders through the village. And that's it.

It's over for the night.

The mood in the tavern is not panic as much as depression. As far as the common people are concerned, no one will be leaving this village alive. Every night, the wolves return and kill a few more citizens and it's only a matter of time until the wolves break into the inn and kill everyone inside.

"I want to be able to wake up immediately if something does come crashing through." - Wings.
"So sleep in front of the door. Nothing can go wrong with that." - Sins, helpful.
"No, that would put me in the direct path of attack. I don't want to be the doorstop." - Wings.
"The dwar-stop?" - To pained laughter. They can't all be funny.

The companions set themselves up in the common room and sleep for the night, wary and with weapons close at hand. Bach wriggles his way under Harold's jacket, seeking reassurance before he sleeps.

"Meanwhile, my marcwolf's out in the barn screaming, "What the hell's going on!?" - LD.
"Yeah pretty much."
"Sorry Wolfgang!" - LD.
"No don't say sorry to the wolf-gang, they just rampaged through town." - Sins, proving my earlier statement regarding puns to be correct.
"You have planned this." - Dev, glaring at the GM, as if it were my fault that LD named her marcwolf after a famous composer.

As dawn breaks across Dreven, the people of the village awake to do their daily business.

"Did Dev's marcwolf pee itself on him during the night?" - Wings, sniggering.
"Oh no, please tell me it didn't." - LD, head in hands.
"No it didn't, although it did get very anxious at various points in the night."
"If it does continue to do that, we may change his name to Often Bach." - Sins, redeeming himself for his earlier pun.

The companions head out together into the village. Maebh, Harold and Breanna cross to the stable to go check on their various animals, while Tremor heads to the general store to avail himself of a pipe and pipeweed and Kel'Serrar heads to the party's cart to bring all of the group's belongings that have been left on it into the common room of the inn.

"We were fortunate last night that the stables were not attacked. That was a large pack- Ah, but I have said too much." - Stablehand, unbarring the door and lifting the chains away.
The companions reunite with their animals, both Maebh and Harold leading their horses out into the open air. Where Harold does so to simply get the horse's muscles warmed up and moving again, Maebh takes Toirneach aside and speaks with him quietly in the shade beneath a tree. Breanna leads Wolfgang outside too before settling down to play with him in a farmer's abandoned paddock.

Kel'Serrar, having shifted the party's gear inside the tavern begins exploring the town. The dirt road leading through Dreven has been turned to churned up mud, both by the continuous rain during the night and by the horde of wolves. The Danann finds the dwelling which was torn into and is struck with the oddity of what he finds. The corner of the house had been forced inwards to allow the wolves in. The ranger assumes that the wolves just battered themselves against the walls until they gained entrance. Inside, the table is set as if for dinner, however two wooden chairs are overturned and there are splashes of blood upon the floor. No body parts, nor torn clothes, just blood.

"Can I take a Wilderness Knowledge Check to determine just how odd this is?" - Sins.
"Don't need the check, it's very odd and your character has never seen anything like it."
"Okay, second thing. I engage sociopath mode and loot the house, how much money do I find?" - Sins.
"*Sigh* Roll a D10... Do something heroic why don't you..."

Having searched the house for evidence, Kel'Serrar finds himself in the possession of several sulvers and a good deal of coppers, which, seeing as the previous owners are probably eaten, half of which he pockets, the other half he sets aside to be spread evenly through the party later.

Harold happens across the Danann as he is just sorting through the coins. The Invarrian studies the dwelling carefully, wordlessly accepting the money from the ranger.

"Look at this." - Kel'Serrar, holding up one of a handful of teeth scattered around the corner of the house where the wolves forced entrance. To the ranger's trained eye, it appears as if the wolves literally chewed through the wall.
"That is odd..." - Harold, peering at the fang in Kel'Serrar's hand.
The walls themselves are mud slabs built over a light wooden framework. Sturdy enough, and will keep the wind out, but not so strong to be impregnable to wolves. At least exceptionally determined wolves.
To Kel'Serrar's experienced eye, the wolf-fang in his hand appears quite rotten. It is something he would expect to see in the mouth of a year-old corpse rather than a moving creature.

Tremor passes the Invarrian and Danann on his way to Magdalyn's house on the outskirts of the village. As he does so, Kel'Serrar throws a small coinpurse at the Dwergar who catches it, nods his thanks and keeps walking.

The ramshackle door of Magdalyn's house is still intact, as is the rest of the somewhat dilapidated dwelling. Tremor knocks upon the door, causing it to fall inwards with a thud.
"Ugh, just lift it up and come on in. Fix it up when you leave." - Magdalyn, exasperated.
The Dwergar gingerly picks the door up and sets it against the wall before heading into the woman's main room.
"Ah, Tremor. You survived the night I see." - Magdalyn, brightly.
"Yes I did. How did you survive?" - Tremor, suspicious.
"By not dying." - Magdalyn, raising an eyebrow.
Tremor is unconvinced.
"They know better than to attack me. Now come master dwarf, you can help me. I need someone to lift this. I started work on it yesterday, but it's all **** now. Come on now, take it out and empty it for me, there's a good chap." - Magdalyn, referring to a full cauldron on the floor.
Tremor takes it and lifts it with a small amount of difficulty, carrying it outside. He hesitates once out the door.
"Just go ahead, tip it on the garden. Won't hurt it." - Magdalyn, referring to the twisted, brown growths protruding from the patches of bright violet soil on the ground.
Mentally shrugging, the Dwergar pours the oozing grey sludge of the cauldron onto the ground.
"Disgusting. Looks like my mother's cooking." - Magdalyn, sniffing. "Right, take that back in for me."
The Dwergar does as he is told and carries the cauldron back inside and setting it into the recesses in the stone floor. With his task done, Tremor looks back to the Selkye woman.
"So, to what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?" - Magdalyn.

"What happened last night? The innkeeper was not very forthcoming about events." - Tremor, sitting at Magdalyn's table, finally having found a seat in these lands which he does not swing his legs like a child while sitting.
"The Wolf King sent his minions. You're relatively intelligent, so you probably got that already. You know about the Wolf King? No? Ah right, well then, he's an ancient sorcerer living in the woods who has the people of these lands caught under his 'evil spell!" - Magdalyn, wiggling her fingers at the last words and laughing. Obviously she's not taking the situation too seriously, despite the fact that her next-door neighbours were eaten just last night.
"Look, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. He doesn't seem to be able to get them riled up enough to attack me properly. So I'm just going to continue as I have done since I came here." - Magdalyn, more serious now.
"Can you help me then? If I go to take down this sorcerer, how could you help?" - Tremor.
"I do not know, I could potentially patch you up after you've taken a few hits... That's about it I'd say." - Magdalyn, apologetic.
"Why do they not attack you?" - Tremor, hoping for some of that stuff instead I guess.
"I think they're scared of me." - Magdalyn, simply.
"Why?" - Tremor.
"Because I am me." - Magdalyn, with finality. She then hits her head with the palm of her hand.
"No wait, this might be the reason!" - Magdalyn, springing up and heading into the room directly across the hallway.
Tremor follows her and is amazed at the shelves full of completed potions and ingredients which are being stockpiled. The Selkye woman snatches up a vial from one of the shelves before ushering the Dwergar out of the room and onto the road through the village.
"Yes, this might be it." - Magdalyn, before throwing the vial into the centre of the road.
A three metre square section of the road erupts in a blindingly bright fireball before receding into nothing, scorching the mud.
"Yes, that may be it. I hope you enjoyed that, I only have three of them left now." - Magdalyn, absent-mindedly.
"How would we make more?" - Tremor, getting to the point.
"Right. Yes, well, I, uh, don't actually have the ingredient at hand at the moment...." - Magdalyn, looking at the ground, somewhat bashful.
"They're in the woods, aren't they?" - Tremor, scowling.
"Uh.... well.... yes...." - Magdalyn, scuffing her shoe in the mud.
"Write me a list of what is needed. I shall take it to my companions and we'll try to find it." - Tremor, coming to a decision.
"Uh, that would be helpful. Who knows, we might even be able to mount a bit of an active defence next time they come knocking." - Magdalyn, with a laugh, having brightened considerably after Tremor offered to find her ingredients.

The Selkye woman runs inside and emerges with one of her books, riffling through pages and pages of spidery handwriting. She goes through six books, growing more and more irate with every new volume. Placing the sixth back in the shelf with some annoyance, she slaps her hand against the wood. A book falls off, which she picks up and flicks through.
"Aha! This is it!" - Magdalyn, ripping out the page with the instructions, crumpling it and throwing it to Tremor.
"Okay now, out you get. I've got work to do and you're in my way. Go on, out with you." - Magdalyn, moving back to her storeroom.
"Okay, okay I'm leaving." - Tremor, with a smile. The Dwergar picks up the woman's door and sets it back into place across the doorway.
"There, I even put the door back." - Tremor, half to himself.
"Thank you!" - Magdalyn, from inside the dwelling.
Chuckling to himself, Tremor heads back to his other companions.

Throughout Tremor's misadventures, the rest of the party have been investigating the most recent break-in, Maebh and Breanna having joined Kel'Serrar and Harold.
"Hmm, no scraps of clothing, no pieces of the victims. So either they've been dragged off, eaten whole or..." - Harold, trailing off.
"Or what?" - Maebh.
"Or they've turned into wolves themselves." - Harold, quietly.
Not so long ago, some of them may well have laughed at the idea, but now, even in the light of day, they can't help but shake off that such a thing might be possible.

Tremor soon joins them in the house, standing around a particularly large blood splatter on the floor.
"Do you have anything to tell us?" - Harold, to Tremor.
"Yes I do. I know what's going on here." - Tremor.
"People are dying and being eaten by wolves?" - Kel'Serrar, sarcastic.
"No, it's a sorcerer apparently. I went and saw the witch and she was far more helpful than the tavernkeeper.  There is a sorcerer plaguing the town. Um, the wolves really dislike her, which is a positive. Oh, and she's given me a list of things she needs to make well, explosive vials of stuff. Firebombs! She's only got three left, but she can make more if she has the ingredients." - Tremor, explaining the situation.
"And what are these ingredients?" - Kel'Serrar.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

More to come. :smallsmile:[/color]


Breanna runs out, shrouded in darkness and wielding a heavy carving knife. One of the guardsmen moving towards Tremor is unaware of the little assassin up until the point where he find his right leg will not move. He looks down and notices the his lower leg is lying upon the ground beneath him. And then he crumples, in too much shock to even feel the pain as he bleeds to death. Breanna's presence is unnoticed by all, having already moved on.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Tremor barrels past two guardsmen and meets up with Harold, cutting one of them down with his sword as he goes.
"THE RUM COMPELLS ME!" - Tremor, giving into his berserker blood.
Also, Wings wanted to roll an Intimidate Check on the second guardsman to try and avoid a Provoked Attack. Part of Tremor's background is that he has a massive case of blood-rage. We've still not decided if it's a curse or a disease or just something supernatural that will always remain mysterious, but it basically gave Tremor the Beserker Rage Trait virtually for free. As it was a characterful idea which explained his rampant alcoholism, I was happy for him to take it.

The guardsman grits his teeth and swigs at the Dwergar, but Tremor ducks under the mace with supreme ease and delivers a raking sword wound across the man's chest. He continues to run towards where Harold is facing a single disarmed guardsman.

Maebh steps out of the warehouse, with her readied spell crackling in her hands and anchors it between two warehouses, splitting the remaining three guardsmen from Harold, Tremor and Breanna with the disarmed guard, buying them some time. She takes quick stock of the situation and notices something alarming.

"One's missing!" - Maebh, letting the rest of the party know that one of the squad of ten guards has disappeared.

The disarmed guardsman in front of Harold throws his shield to the ground and hold his hands up, gaze flickering from Harold to Tremor and then back again. The Dwergar gives a snort of contempt and picks up the guardsman's mace and shield before stalking over to the Wall of Blades, where he eyes of the guardsmen on the other side. The man whose chest he carved open earlier has been eviscerated where he lay by the blades as they whirl through the air.
"Please, let me go. I don't want any trouble." - Disarmed guardsman, nervous.
"Why did you attack us then?" - Breanna, scoffing and still hidden.
"Wherever you are, whoever that was, I'm just doing my job." - Disarmed guardsman.
"Tell us everything and we'll let you go." - Maebh, striding up to the conversation.
"About what? I only started this job a week ago. I was a baker before that." - Guardsman. Up close they can tell he is quite young.
Dev asks if he can check to see if the guard is lying. They all roll and Harold is the only one to fail. So everyone thinks he's telling the truth, except Harold, who gets an inexplicable urge to beat the kid's face in because he just knows he's lying.
"The boy can go on his way-" - Maebh, cut off.
"No, no, I don't think-" - Harold, advocating a more permanent solution.
"After we release him from the storehouse which we lock him in." - Maebh, finishing her sentence.
Kel'Serrar gives a somewhat admiring chuckle from inside the warehouse.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Before a decision is made, from where Tremor is hurling abuse at them from the other side of the wall, one of the three stunned guardsmen has a brainwave.
"**** it, go round!" - Guardsman, who promptly sets off running with his fellows around the warehouses.
"Pick up your weapons and fight lad!" - Another grizzled guardsman with pepper grey hair and beard, to the younger disarmed guardsman upon coming face to face with Harold. He obviously didn't notice Tremor picking them up earlier.

The young guardsman backs off with his hands still raised until his back brushes against the wall of a warehouse with a saddened expression on his face.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Maebh sends of Gust of Wind toward the three oncoming guardsmen. Two of them are lifted off the ground by the force of her magic and thrown through the wall of a warehouse. The third is slightly more solidly built and manages to keep his feet through the buffeting wind. He braces himself with his shield before him but then finds himself cut down by Harold, who charges at him with sabre and shortsword.

"Brother!" - Disarmed guardsman, with quite a bit of grief.

Aww you made him cry." - Ladyhawk.
"Haha, you made him cry!" - LD.
"Argh! Who cares!" - Dev.

The guardsmen have been taken care of. Both guardsmen who went through the wall have not stirred, so the party assumes they're out for the count. So Harold, Tremor and Breanna spread out amongst the corpses and start to divest them of their money. Which is real sensitive in regards to their prisoner.

The rest of the party was not aware of this at the time, but Harold finished off the two unconscious guardsmen before looting the bodies.

Maebh approached the prisoner with three sulvers in her hand.
"You can have these if you leave town for a couple of days. At least until this all blows over." - Maebh, apologetic.
"I have nothing left here anymore. If you want me gone then I shall leave gladly." - Guardsman, wiping away tears.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The guardsman walks away and the group discuss how they're going to take on the central warehouse. They have bigger fish to fry.
"We're going to fry him? I'll get the oil!" - LD, maliciously.

"Let's burn it down." - Harold.
"In the pouring rain...." - Kel'Serrar.
Silence...
"I don't care." - Harold, with a slight smile.
"I don't care about your fancy 'laws of reality!" - Breanna, laughing.
"Can I have my longsword back?" - Harold, to Tremor who is busy adjusting the strap of his new shield, appropriated from the young guardsman.
"No." - Tremor, grimly and not even looking up.
"There's only one doorway in and out." - Breanna.
"Let's make our own entrance then." - Harold.

Maebh pools fire in her hands and sends it out in a roiling gout of flame which blasts the side-wall in. Inside, there is, a room.
"There are some walls, and, some ceilings... Wait! Just one ceiling." - LD and Ladyhawk. I used to quote Red vs Blue a lot and it seems to have rubbed off on them.
There is a cabal of warlocks in long, dark red robes. Wilmund Brewer is in pride of place, standing before a wrought iron pedestal, fashioned into the shape of a three-clawed hand, with hands upraised. Set into each of the claws is a thick, gleaming coin. Beside Brewer stands the Trickster, clad in nondescript drab grey. Five other warlocks stand in the warehouse, three men and two women. The missing guardsman is also here, sprawled on the ground with a jagged chunk of splintered wood embedded in his throat. 

Brewer looks up from where he is standing before the pedestal and his brow creases in frustration.
"Stop them. Quickly!" - Brewer, to his compatriots.
Breanna recognises what he's doing. He's in the middle of this summoning and she can tell that it's not going the way he wants it to. She surmises this is down to the group screwing with all of his lures.
Harold, the first to react, charges across the warehouse and smashes into one of the four warlocks who turned to stop the group when Brewer gave his command. The Invarrian manages to push both of them back, and both are badly injured by his blades, but neither goes down.

There is a flash of light from next to Brewer and with a strangled yelp, six identical copies of the Trickster flash into being. There is another flash of light and one of the copies gives another yelp of pain, turns blackened and burnt for a split second, and then disappears.

Having readied a Flaming Arrow earlier, Kel'Serrar draws it back and sends it towards Brewer, but the arrow flies wide and slams into the opposite wall, blasting a small hole in it.
Maebh calls up a tempest and flings it into the warehouse. Harold staggers slightly, but keeps his feet, while Brewer is taken by surprise and is blasted off his feet and into the opposite wall. The various Tricksters dissipate upon contact with the howling wind and there comes a thud from that wall, along with a muffled groan of pain, though there is nothing there to be seen. One of the female warlock flies into a wall and hits it with a sickening crack. She falls to the ground, lifeless.
One of the warlocks next to Harold managed to avoid the majority of the blast and starts clicking his fingers, trying to call up some sort of magic. With a small grin, Maebh figures that this must be the incompetent who was set to ward the lures.
The other warlock against Harold calls a flaming green dagger into existence is his hand and takes a swing at Harold. The Invarrian uses his decades of experience and takes the man's wrist high on the flat of his blade and guides it down beside him and into the chest of the clicking warlock, who falls to the ground with both a surprised expression and a gaping, steaming and corroding wound in his chest.

A successful use of the Fall on Their Own Blades Talent. Basically, on a successful Parry against one of two or more opponents, Harold may force the parried strike to hit one of his other enemies. They get a Reflex Save, but if they fail, they take the damage. It's a Talent which is designed to make the Duellist just a little better at taking on multiple opponents in a truly swashbuckling style.

Brewer staggers to his feet, looks around and appears to get pretty angry.
"If you've read Harry Potter, book B I believe." - A call-back to a previous conversation.
From the warlock's hands springs a roiling whip of fire, which then seeks out his first foe, Harold, but the wily Invarrian manages to roll away from the flames.

The only member of the cabal who is not yet engaged hurls a blast of fire at Maebh, who brings up a disc of shining gold energy between herself and the oncoming flames. Her shield absorbs the majority of the blast, but it doesn't stop it all and Maebh finds her arm is burnt.

Breanna ducks inside and makes for the warlock with the green flaming dagger. She takes her carving knife and puts it through the man's leg. He dies and his dagger gutters out into nothing.

Tremor charges inside with his hatchet in hand and a looted shield strapped to his arm. Brewer's whip cracks at the Dwergar, but it slams into his shield instead, singeing Tremor and staggering him slightly, but still he carries on. He slams his shield into the warlock, pushing him back with a roar of fury before caving his chest in with the hatchet, smashing him to the ground and almost decapitating him with the rim of the shield. 

Three cries of anguish ring out, one from what seems to be nowhere as Tremor practically mutilates their leader. Harold charges at one of the surviving warlocks and cuts him down easily. Kel'Serrar puts an arrow in the last one and brings her down.

Running footsteps can be heard heading for the breach Kel'Serrar made earlier. Maebh uses Trueseeing and all of a sudden, she can see him. And he looks terrified. The Danann mage throws two blasts of fire at him, one of which hits him and the other slams into the wall before him. The Trickster falls to the ground, flames wreathing his body. She walks over to him.
"I got you, bitch." - Maebh, putting her spear through his throat and grinning.
And that's it. The cabal is finished.

Harold walks over to the two female cultist and pulls back the hoods. His suspicions however are unfounded when he finds that neither woman is Dhara.
Breanna, Tremor and Maebh go to the pedestal and Breanna explains that the coins seem to be a receptacle for daemonic power, however they are empty. Tremor takes them out of the pedestal and hands one each to Maebh and Breanna, taking the third for himself.
Tremor then joins Kel'Serrar and Harold in looting the bodies, picking up some money and the Dwergar grabs an amulet from Brewer himself. It is a gold medallion on a silver chain, the symbol of a burning pine tree carved into the token. He hands it to Maebh, who studies the enchantment on it, but comes to no conclusion other than it appears to be enchanted with preternaturally good luck. The mage hands it back to him, informing him that it is safe. Tremor puts it around his neck.
Breanna picks up a book from the young warlock, recognising it as a banned text. She has seen it before though never read it.
In essence, Daemon Summoning for Dummies.
Maebh searches the Trickster's smoking corpse and finds very little. Some spare coins and a small note.

Quote from: Trickster's Note
Morgaris,

Remember to fill out last quarter's trade report when you get home.

They take a moment to breath, before heading out. The cult's been taken out. It's time to leave.

And we left it there....

The Wrap-Up
Okay, first up that was quite an enjoyable session. Now on to the interesting debates we had.

First Rant: Dev expressed here that of the party, the Danann were not playing their characters completely right. Now that is dangerous ground to be treading to begin with, but he did back up his argument with examples.
Maebh: Hates humans and would think nothing of sacrificing them according to her background, is suddenly squeamish about killing an innocent.
Kel'Serrar: Much the same, except that he was indifferent in the event anyway.

In response, Sins said that Kel'Serrar didn't really care anyway, while Ladyhawk defended herself by saying that interacting with the group has led to her softening in general as she's realised that her people have cast her out and maybe that other peoples are perhaps worthy of more than just a swift death. Dev still believed that she was playing herself and not her character, something Ladyhawk took some offence at, believing that instead she was playing out a more complex arc of her character's development.

Second Rant: Dev then expressed that he could not believe that the players were getting emotionally attached to this NPC. As far as he was concerned, the sympathy they felt was not something he felt should be taken so seriously. Personally I feel that if you are not emotionally invested in a story and the characters then there is no real point in playing, but I recognise that people so play differently. The problem is when someone tries to force others to play their way when the others don't really want to. An interesting observation I guess.

Anyway, that's it for the second arc. Session 3.1 has been played and I will get to that soon, but for now this is all. I'm also going to make the stat blocks of each character available online for the readers to take a look at.

Cheers,

Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:15:13 AM
Session 3.3: The Lair of the Wolf King

"Even one who is pure of heart and says their prayers at night,  may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."
- Old Leathe nursery rhyme, usually told to frighten small children.

"Welcome to Session 3.uh... 3?"
"Does it really matter?" - Dev.
"Don't say it! No one say it!" - Ladyhawk.
Silence reigns for a few seconds.
"DAMN IT!" - Everyone, with laughter.

Now I shall preface this with an apology. Unlike the usual thing which is lost at this point in the write-up, I must confess that there was an issue this time around. Sadly, due to malfunctioning hardware, we did not lose the Game this time, but the whole goddamn recording.

As such I shall endeavour to reconstruct as much of this session from memory as I possibly can. And we'll see how that goes.

We begin in the dark hours of the early morning. The Fortress has held for the night and the wolves have retreated, thankfully without any loss of life, presumably save for those who stayed outside and ignored Tremor's ultimatum. The remains of those wolves which were felled in the assault have been dragged outside by the militia. The kitchen doorway too has been heavily boarded up. The kitchen itself is a blackened husk of what it used to be, but at least the assault has been seen off.

The few wolves which impaled themselves on Tremor's spiked installations atop the walls remain where they are, snapping at anything which comes close until Maebh takes her spear to them, shattering their heartstones.

On the whole, the people are exceptionally thankful towards the companions, particularly Tremor who has given them increased hope. But the fact is that The Fortress only barely held out the night and another attack could spell doom for the people of Dreven.

The companions are preparing to bed down for the night when they are approached by the innkeeper, his eyes bleary, the bruise Tremor's fist left on his head clearly visible. Despite their earlier confrontation, he seems in decent humour now, if very tired and scared.

"May I borrow a moment of your time please? I understand how weary you all must be, so I swear I shall be swift." - Innkeeper, who introduces himself as Aurel.
Cue snickers from my players. Immature sods.

He is adamant that the tavern could not withstand another attack, but perhaps it would not need to. He shares his speculation regarding the controller of the wolves, reminding them of the horn blast which called them off, informing the companions of his belief that the legends of the Wolf King may just be coming back to haunt them.

Harold asks for a bit more information on the Wolf King and is told a variant of the common legend. Several centuries ago, the lands surrounding Mount Dove where ruled by a line called the Wildermonts. The last of that line was an absolute nutter with an unhealthy obsession with wolves. In time he began to display wolf-like tendencies, eating his meat raw and filing his teeth to points. Over time he became even more depraved, so much so that some stories say that he had the pelts of slain wolves sewn onto his own skin. Every morning the bodies of servants would be found, mutilated and half eaten in the cold stone hallways. Dark shapes could be seen slinking in the shadows and in time, the king's human subjects left him, either fleeing in terror or consumed by the mad king and the wolves which followed him everywhere.

The Wolf King and his packs terrorised the lands around Mount Dove for almost a century before the high king of Naille at the time slew him in single combat.
"Nailed him." - Sins. It was beautiful. Thanks for reminding me Ladyhawk.
The wolves fled as soon as their king died and for over three hundred years, the lands around Mount Dove have been safe.

Until recently.

Aurel also tells them of a man named Elias who passed through Dreven just a few weeks ago, asking about the old legends of the Wolf King. The villagers were wary of him and so gave him nothing and he left. It was not long after that when the attacks began again. Elias is described as a tall man who gave off an unsettling aura. His cloth was poor, clad in dark greys and browns with a mangy wolf pelt around his shoulders. Dark-haired and dark-eyed, he carried a heavy wooden staff and kept a dagger at his belt. Aurel reiterates that people are not the only things dragged away and that many other objects have been taken, mainly ironwork.

Tremor speculates that he might be forming an army, but Maebh and Kel'Serrar point out that the iron could be reforged into all manner of things, Kel'Serrrar suggesting that it might be a mining operation.

Aurel also tells them that if they intend to go to Mount Dove, the trek will take them several hours and that they had best do it during the day. He does not know, but he suspects that if these creatures are ever dormant, it would be during the day.

With that out of the way, the rest until morning.

The next morning, they awaken later than they usually would. Some of their hastily formed militia are already up and about, but not many. The companions head out of the Fortress and into the weak sunlight, Maebh splitting from the others to go to the stable to retrieve Toirneach. The others head to Ingir's house, thinking to investigate.

The house and the smithy are deserted. Bits of wolf which have been cleaved from the animals can be found, paws, limbs and one head which growls at the companions as they approach. Harold crushes it under his boot and hears a soft clink. He bends down and retrieves three arrowheads from the wolf's jaws, which he tosses wordlessly to Kel'Serrar. There is a small puddle of blood on the floor which is smeared as if something was dragged through it. The drawers and backroom are checked, and all iron, worked or no is gone.

Of Ingir himself, presumable aside from the blood, nothing can be found.

Tremor does find a set of journals, which he skims through and is happy to find detail metalworking techniques. He puts them in his pack for later.

A substantial amount of money is found in the house, which is spread evenly through the party. Interestingly, no gold can be found in the house at all.

The group then prepare to leave, it starting to grow late in the morning. Tremor takes the casks which were emptied of oil the previous night and fills them all with coals from the late smith's forge-fire, knowing that they are enchanted to never go out. A draft-horse is rented from the stable-master too to pull the party's cart, Maebh deeming it beneath Toirneach now. Breanna is placed in a sack to prevent her taking revenge on the horse, a plough-horse in a previous life.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Harold goes back to the Fortress where he ingratiates himself further with the militia, paying them all a single sulver each for their efforts that night and promising further reward for some brave souls to follow him. Four men are eager to do so, the others torn between wishing to spend their last day with their family or wanting to be able to protect their loved ones in the coming night. Harold takes what he can get and details the four volunteers to come along.

They then began their hike up to Mount Dove, and from there, further up to the Blackfort itself where the Wolf King awaits.

The hike up to the Blackfort is relatively uneventful, everyone noticing the clearly visible wolf tracks they are following. Except for Breanna, who can only see darkness and the inner stitching of her sack.

On the ride, Maebh wards each and every oil-now-coal cask with aethyric shields. The intent is to provide a handhold to actually grasp them. Once warded, they are placed carefully into a large leather sack which is placed in the care of the militia volunteers. Kel'Serrar also experiments with magic, changing his appearance to that of a tall, grey-furred Leathe.

After several hours the undergrowth becomes too thick for the cart to continue and the party dismounts. The wagon is overturned and Amadeus, Bach and the new draft-horse are left tied to it. Maebh simply tells Toirneach to stay in the area, and though they are loathe to separate, they do so, Maebh vowing to return. Wolfgang however stays with Breanna, who is herself let out of her sack on the proviso that she make no sudden moves. As soon as Harold turns away, Kel'Serrar changes his appearance once more, this time to exactly match Harold's. The Invarrian is impressed, but not especially pleased.

One of the militia-men hefting the sack of coal-casks, the party heads onward and up into the foothills, which if anything are even more heavily forested than the woods surrounding Dreven. The woods are silent save for the party's progress. Not a creature stirs around them. No birds sing, nothing. Tracks can be easily followed, all of them leading up to Mount Dove.

Halfway up the mountain, the party comes to a cave, a dark, dank hole in the side of the mountain.

The cave-mouth is strewn with bones and old, dried blood. There are many wolf tracks leading both in and out of the cave. There are also plenty of drag marks where the wolves have presumably dragged captives, prey and valuables.

Inside the cave is a slaughterhouse, mangled remains of partially eaten villagers are strewn liberally about the place. The further they go in, Breanna at the fore, they also find that it is not a cave, but a long tunnel, which appears to have been clawed out of the mountain by both wolf-claws and, troublingly, mining tools. The further they go into the tunnel, the narrower and more cramped it gets, until if they want to get any further, they must crawl on hands and knees.

From further on, they hear the faint sounds of howling and snarling.

And then, on the very edge of perception, the wailing of people.

Breanna is sent in first as she does not need to crawl, merely stoop and she does so, Wolfgang slinking behind her. She pulls a shroud of shadows about herself as she goes, briefly wrestling with a daemon for the energy to do so. Rounding a bend in the tunnel she finds herself coming up upon a long, dark stone hallway. Turning back, she softly calls the others forward assuring them it is safe.

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They immediately decide to explore this hallway, quickly finding that the place is a labyrinth of cold, dank stone. Tremor sets himself to the task of drawing a map for the group and Maebh calls upon her power to see through illusions and the like, just in case someone has attempted to hide something from her sight.

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The exploration went quite well, at first at least, Maebh finding that there were manholes in the ceilings of some rooms which let the weak sunlight stream into the labyrinth. They could be used to get out, but the noises from above suggested that the wolves were out there in force.

Everywhere the party went they found piles of bones, some fresh and recently chewed, others old and dry, cracked either by age or the attentions of the wolves.

From their original position the sounds of both the wolves and the people in the hallways seemed to be coming from the left, and after some exploration, that is the way the group went, every now and then sending individuals out by themselves to explore some paths.

After some time they came to what seemed like a central room. Ahead were two paths, one more each to the left and right and of course, the one they had just came from. The path to the left seemed to be where the sounds of the wolves were coming from, while one of the paths to the fore seemed to be the source of the wailing people. Maebh went right, discovering nothing but more bones and the remains of a man who had been taken by the wolves. Breanna took the path ahead to the right, while Kel'Serrar took the one to the left. Harold and Tremor took up position facing the direction they assumed the wolves would come from if they did, the militia forming a wall of shields and spearpoints around them.

Kel'Serrar
Kel'Serrar took the path and found it leading upwards slightly, the ground becoming slippery and treacherous in the dark. Rounding a bend to the left he came upon a very dark room and two green glowing eyes. To his keen eyes, he could see the owner, a powerful, yet mangy wolf, which stalked towards him, balefire glowing in its eyes. Kel'Serrar, arrow already nocked to the string of his bow, slowly stepped backwards, calling upon his magic, and swiftly enchanted the arrow to strike truly. With a smooth motion he loosed the missile at his target as it sprang towards him, a feral snarl echoing through the corridors. The enchanted arrow took the wolf in its "heart" and as the crystal shattered, the wolf slumped to the floor, flesh sloughing of its bones. The ranger took a moment to calmhimself, but in the silence following the wolf's demise he could hear something which worried him. Or rather, the lack of something which had been worrying him. The snarling of the wolves coming from back where he had left his companions had ceased. Suddenly there was a loud, muddied howl and the snarling returned, growing closer and accompanied by heavy footfalls. Softly cursing, he made his way back towards the room where he left the others.

Breanna
Breanna meanwhile, having taken the right-hand path rounded a bend to the right and came upon yet another room. In the centre of the room was a veritable mountain of corpses, what appeared to be villagers who had been ripped limb from limb. The Leathe quickly scrounged through them, but found nothing of value. Two paths lay before her, one to the right and one straight ahead. She took the one before her, following the sounds of people. Before she left the room, Wolfgang turned and growled at the path to the right, before scurrying to her side, but she did not pay any attention to him....

Harold & Tremor
Down the path to the left, Tremor and Harold could hear the oncoming horde. They heard the snarl from Kel'Serrar's direction and could only hope he was okay. Ahead of them came a rush of snarling beasts, the horde visible in the lowlight mainly by their flaming green eyes. At Harold's command, the militia presented their shields to the onrushing wolves were embroiled in a nightmare.

Breanna
Following the path before her, Breanna came to a long flight of stairs which lead to a thick, wooden door, reinforced with iron bars. The people were on the other side, and from this distance she could hear more of what was being yelled.

"Is anybody out there!? Help us!?" - Unidentified voices.

She turned back and made her way to her companions.

Retracing her steps she found herself back in the room with the mountain of corpses, however she and Wolfgang were no longer alone. Before them were two massive wolves, eyes blazing with green fire. Snarling they began to stalk towards the Leathe, who gripped her daggers tightly and closed her eyes.

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Breanna darted forward, the steel in her hands weaving with deadly grace. Leaping into the air, she sprang onto the face of the wolf to her left, before leaping again to the right, thrusting her dagger into the eye of the second wolf. She hit the ground, rolled to her feet and ran down the corridor, Wolfgang using her distraction to dart past the wolves too as they stumbled behind her. Snarling, they turned to give chase.

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Harold & Tremor
Where they were in the fighting, at the forefront against the wolves, there was always going to be danger. Unfortunately, at this point, Tremor wasn't quite equal to it and he was brought down by a leaping wolf, it's fangs gouging into his face as it brought him to the ground.

Harold leapt forward, blades swinging and took off one of the beast's forelimbs, causing it to lose its footing.
Pun intended.
As it staggered back, one of the militias' spears took it in the "heart." Harold dragged Tremor back, exhorting to his men to stay together as he did so and looking up. As such he saw both Maebh and Kel'Serrar appear from their sojourns, the latter immediately seeing to the injured Dwergar. Having seen to his friend's wellbeing, Harold jumped back into the fray.

To his practiced eye he could see that the Engineer was beginning to succumb to some kind of paralysis, which he deduced quickly was as a direct result of the wolf's saliva which dripped from Tremor's face. The ranger swiftly wiped it away before starting to stitch the ragged flesh of Tremor's cheek back together. As such, he was busy when Breanna came streaming back into the room, a haunted look in her eyes, Wolfgang, running alongside her.  Two wolves followed her, barrelling into the room.

But where Kel'Serrar was occupied for the moment, Maebh was not and she took the opportunity to unleash her power. Calling upon the elemental force of unbridled fire, she blasted one of the wolves into oblivion leaving nothing but fine, grey ash. The sheer concussive force of her strike set the other sprawling into the stone wall, mangy fur smouldering. Maebh's strike gave Kel'Serrar all the time he needed and taking up his bow from where he had set it aside to see to Tremor, he sent an arrow straight into it's heartstone, shattering it.

Harold meanwhile continued to lead his men, striking out at the wolves which continued to batter away at their wall. Despite everything, none of the four had fallen, but Maebh did not want to risk it and she strode forward, setting up a wall of aethyric blades between the militia and the remaining wolves. The magic spinning blades shredded at least three of the oncoming wolves, leaving only two to continue their charge bearing minor injuries.
"What constitutes minor injuries to these things?" - Dev.
"Ah, well you know, missing limbs and the like."
Everyone seemed to find that really funny.
The last of the wolves were swiftly taken down by the militia, who seem to relish the chance to actually strike back at the creatures which have been terrorising them for weeks.

That'll do for now, back in a minute. :smallsmile:


We're back! :smallbiggrin:

Before moving on, Maebh wards each passageway into the room with her magic, ensuring that if any creature is to follow the party, they will trip the alarms and the companions will know of it. Taking stock of their situation, the companions decide to follow the path Breanna scouted earlier, however Tremor investigates the passageway she skipped when they come to the room with the mountain of corpses. Following the passage he comes upon another room, again littered with bones, but in the far left corner there is a wooden chest.

The engineer carelessly opens the chest, releasing a quantity of foul-smelling green gas. He holds his breath and thankfully, his stout Dwergar constitution allows him to shrug it off. Inside the chest is a plain iron dagger, a small amount of copper coins and two old scrolls.

Tremor claims the spoils for his own and then unfurls one of the scrolls. The language is one which he is unfamiliar with, but despite that he attempts to read it anyway, attempting the pronunciation to the best of his ability. As soon as he reaches the end of the page, the script is overlaid with a glowing golden light and the words are erased as if they are being burnt of the paper. And then the chest immolates, leaving nothing but ash in seconds. The scroll too shrivels up in the dwarf's hands.
"Cool." - Wings.

Tremor hands the remaining scroll to Maebh, who reads over it, careful not to give voice to the incantation upon it. She swiftly reveals that the scroll is intended to produce a flame which will consume almost anything in a matter of moments. Tremor tells her to keep it.

They continue through the labyrinth, eventually coming upon the flight of stairs which Breanna had discovered earlier. Breanna picks the lock on the door and they barge through. What they find is horrifying.

The room is dark and damp and not empty. To the left of the party is another long, steep flight of stairs. To the right is a concave wall, and set into the wall are seven iron-barred cage doors. Behind the left most doors are groups of bloodied, ragged people, some clamouring at the bars to entreat the party to release them, others huddled in silence against the rock walls, already surrendered to their fate. The two doors on the right however hold only one captive each, both of whom are covered in blood and snarling, hands reaching and clawing at the companions from behind the bars.

The group recoils from the two men, spying the remains of late captives in those cells which were torn apart and eaten. All the visible captives bear bite-wounds, what appear to be deep, infected gashes. The party withdraw from the room and back down some of the stairs to consult with each other in private. Doing so also prevents the militia-men from seeing the captives.

They then engage in a short debate on what to do with the captives.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember who wanted to do what with the captives and Ladyhawk's notes don't say either. Suffice to say that some wanted to kill them all, some wanted to leave them for now and sort through them later and some wanted to free them immediately.

Freeing the two feral captives was considered out of the question. Those two men would have to be put down. The others however could still be saved, but someone does point out that unleashing all these captives upon an unsuspecting Dreven only for them to turn rabid, or worse, into undead wolves, would be tantamount to consigning the village to death.

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In the end, for their safety it is decided to leave them in the cages for now, but Tremor does provide one of the calmer captives with a hastily drawn map of the labyrinth for them to study so that they are prepared to move when they get their chance, the party intending to come back later.

The militia, once again for their safety, they detail to guard the room, both the doorway into the labyrinth and the captives, telling them not to open the gates, simply to guard them. The companions move on, up the stairs and out the door to the left.

They come out into a massive hall, stonewalled, dark and cold. It is richly decorated in an ancient style, the faded banners proudly bearing the Wildermont sigil, a black mountain on a red field, surmounted by the antlers of a stag and a black sunburst. To the right of the party is a passageway to another room, ahead of them two thick wooden doors, approximately ten foot tall and to the left, two doorways, of normal size this time.

Exploring, they find that the passageway to the right leads to a winding staircase which provides access to the levels of a high tower. They ignore this part of the castle for now, assuming that the Wolf King, if present is likely to be in a throne-room of sorts. There is no guarantee of course that he is present at all, the Blackfort cold and seemingly lifeless, however the echoes of lupine howls can be heard on the air. The wolves are close.

The party heads for the two doorways, splitting into two groups to tackle it, Harold and Kel'Serrar taking the right doorway while Maebh, Breanna and Tremor take the other. Silently, they prepare their weapons, Kel'Serrar binding magical flames to the head of one of his arrows. Harold holds up a furred hand and slowly counts them off.

Five...
Breanna gives Wolfgang a quick pat as he stands ready beside her. She murmurs softly to him, just reassuring sounds, no words...
Four...
Kel'Serrar gently draws back on the arrow he has nocked to the string of his bow, senses alert for anything coming from the next room...
Three...
Tremor clenches his longsword tightly, muttering an oath under his breath...
Two...
Maebh's hand itches with the urge to unleash her power. She closes her eyes, sends a reassuring thought to Toineach and lays a hand on the door...
One...
Harold pushes the door aside, Maebh doing the same to the other door and the companions charge into a long hall.

Before them are six long wooden tables, arranged in two lines of three. At the end of the hall is a raised platform, just three stone steps off the floor. On the platform sits an ornate carved wooden throne. And in the throne sits a man.

Not just any man, but a tall and gaunt figure, clad in baroque steel plate harness and a thick grey wolf-skin cloak over his shoulders. An ornate steel longsword rests on his knees, but that is not the most imposing feature the man possesses, for his very skin is a patchwork of crudely stitched wolf-pelts. Upon his grotesque head sits a dark wrought iron crown, barbed and of an ugly shape.

And standing beside him is the skeleton of a huge man, he too clad in heavy steel plate, bearing an enormous iron kite shield and a longsword in its right hand which would require two hands for Harold to even swing. The skull of the creature is covered by a finely wrought steel representation of a wolf's head. It turns to face the companions as their charge falters, but makes no move towards them.

"Who enters my domain?" - The Wolf King, in a booming, unearthly baritone, like two boulders giving speech.
Sadly, I'm just not very good at voices. The players killed any tension here by responding with such gems as, "Me!" and "Don't you know who I am?" It was very funny, but we just ruled it as the characters were shell-shocked.
"No matter, you should not be here." - The Wolf King, who waves a hand dismissively.
His champion starts forward, pacing down the length of the hall.

And we have combat! Maebh wins initiative. Three guesses what she does next. :P
Maebh meets it with a roiling blast of fire which deals some solid damage to the skeletal figure.
"Maebh, the scroll!" - Tremor, beckoning to the mage who throws him the scroll they found earlier.

The Wolf King looks at her and sneers before raising his hands above his head. He then brings them together with the sound of a thunderclap. From behind the party comes the ominous sound of howling followed by pounding footsteps. He then points a finger at Maebh and hits her with what looks like a thin sliver of silvery-green dust. Where it hits her, the flesh turns black for a second, eating away at her flesh and vitality before her body restores itself, but some damage is done.

Harold charges forward, meeting the champion in single combat. The two exchange blows but for the most part neither is able to land a telling strike, Harold's attempts foiled by the wight's shield and thick armour, his own skill proving just enough to ward off its return strikes. Crucially though, he has halted the champion's momentum and now at least it is not threatening the Invarrian's companions. It is not long before Tremor joins in the melee too, trying to flank the champion and take its legs out with his greatsword, but he is unable to break through its guard.

Kel'Serrar meanwhile takes stock of the situation and looses his arrow at the King himself, who takes significant damage from the strike.

Noticing that the attention of both the King and his champion is focussed squarely on her companions, Breanna darts forward, daggers at the ready and hoping that she can get close enough to the King to strike without him noticing her. She is doomed to failure however and she is picked up by the throat and thrown bodily across the room in a fiendish display of strength. Groaning, she sits herself up, dazed.

As she does so, she sees a scene from her nightmares. Behind Maebh and Kel'Serrar come bounding three hugely muscled beasts, all fangs, claws and savagery, eyes blazing with an animalistic bloodlust. Their features are vaguely lupine, but they are like no wolf the Leathe has ever seen, bounding forward on all fours and standing on only two legs to fight with scything claws.

The beasts remind her of a legend she had once been told when she lived in Greenstone, a horror story the village elder delighted in sharing, especially late at night around the fires. A legend of a curse which would take the most noble of people and turn them into a hateful raging bloodthirsty beast.

The legend of the varghulf.

Wincing in pain, she shouts a warning to the ranger and mage.

Maebh reacts first and before the beasts can pounce she blasts them with a torrent of magical water which glows with a white light. The torrent blasts one of the beasts into the wall between the doors and the other two back through the doorways completely. She then turns and smashes a fireball into the Wolf King upon his throne, who howls in pain as the fires catch on his pelts.

Looking up in anger at the ranger and mage who have dared to assault him, he throws two more entropic bolts, hitting both Kel'Serrar and Maebh. The bolts do their work, weakening both and draining them of yet more of their life-force. Knowing that he is on the edge of death, the Wolf King then starts to weave another enchantment which surrounds him with a glowing green burst of energy, which then fades into nothingness.

Harold, Tremor and the King's champion continue to trade blows, some getting through, but none particularly telling.

Kel'Serrar shoots off an arrow at the closest varghulf, hoping to take it down before it recovers from Maebh's magical river. The steel bodkin penetrates its chest, but the beast ignores the injury and staggers to its feet. Snarling, it lunges forward and its claws catch Kel'Serrar in the chest, felling the weakened ranger.

The varghulf raises its head and howls its triumph as its other two pack members slink in behind it, wary of the flame-handed Maebh, who herself is slowly backing away.

Breanna meanwhile picks herself up of the floor and makes another attempt at the Wolf King, darting forward, keeping to the shadows and then biding her time. The King sees Kel'Serrar go down and crows his victory, which is all the chance the Leathe needs. Her daggers flash and the King's head hits the floor.

And we left it there....

The Wrap-Up:
First of all, it was great getting everyone back together for this. It really had been a long time since we had last played and I certainly had missed it.

Secondly, it was a very good session, and I do believe that the day-time session certainly helped. Everyone seemed to be just as, if not more, invested compared to our usual sessions and we would have gotten to play for even longer than we usually do had Dev been on time.

As you can see, it was a seriously tense session, particularly at the end and we've certainly left it on a cliff-hanger. Luckily, we won't be in suspense for too long because at this point we are almost certainly playing this week. Sadly, it does seem that Opal will not be joining the group for some time yet.

What else is there? Oh yes, I do heartily apologise for the lack of detail, particularly regarding dialogue this session. It won't happen again. We will be using Ladyhawk's laptop from now on, which will not crash I'm sure. That being said, perhaps I might just get someone else to see to the recordings from now on due to my technology curse. I swear it all hates me. :P A special thanks is due to Ladyhawk too, who compiled hand-written notes for me to comb through. Plenty of stuff in this write-up I had forgotten about completely until I read it in her notes, so yes, thank you very much.

So yes, big cliff-hanger and do join us for the next update, which will see plenty of action I am sure.

Cheers,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:16:07 AM
Session 3.4: The Danann Pack

The witch Kresimina is an interesting case, a woman whose past is hidden amid the blood and flames of her terrible reign. She first rose to power almost a decade after Imperator Felix Aureus Ferox fell in battle against the Danann of the Dragain's Tail. What began as rumours of a powerful sorceress coming to power in the Northlands quickly became full-scale war between the forces of the reeling Bovus Empire and undying legions from the north, led by their witch-queen, a necromancer of terrible power.

Kresimina took for herself the sigil of the burning pine tree, a symbol of her conquest, the Razing of the North....


From the Codex of Blood.

Welcome to Session 3.4 of Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword. This session went for about three and a half hours, with a lunch break in the middle and saw the introduction of a new player, Opal, who has been lined up to join us for quite some time now.

Let's begin,

"You lost The Game." - Sounds like everyone.
"You bastards."

Harold and Tremor stand in the middle of the dining hall, trading blows with a giant, armour clad champion. Breanna stands at the end of the hall, knife in hand, having just decapitated the Wolf King. Two varghulfs stalk towards Maebh, magical light flickering in her hands, while the third crouches over the felled Kel'Serrar, about to tear his face off.

Things are not looking good.

And so with a shout Maebh hits the oncoming varghulfs with all the power she can muster, a torrent of magical water blasting them apart. Wrenching the magical energies around, she directs the water at the third beast on Kel'Serrar. It too is blown apart, leaving the stunned Danann ranger wiping blood and flesh from his face.

Inspecting the corpse before her, Breanna notices a thin green-grey wisp of magic emanating from the Wolf King's neck. She pushes that to the back of her mind and looks over to where Harold and Tremor continue to trade blows with the champion. She takes up her dagger and hurls it across the room. The keen blade flashes into the champion's skull, easily penetrating the steel helm. The skeletal figure appears not to notice.

For whatever reason, half the group bursts into song while Wings and I are trying to determine whether or not he dodges one of the champion's strikes. Naturally, no one actually knows the words to the song, and so four members of the group, naming no names, just hum along till they get to the parts that they know.

Unfortunately, between the humming and the singing and the usual OOC chatter going on, I can hear very little of what is going on. Luckily I have a nasally and irritating voice, so at least I can hear myself some of the time.

Three streams of molten silver ripple from the blade of Tremor's sword, punching into the champion's cuirass, but again they seem to have no real effect on the hulking figure. The champion and Tremor exchange blows once more before the Dwergar falls back.

Maebh prepares to blast the champion with fire.
"How many steps do I get as a free action again?" - Ladyhawk.
"Five steps."
"Cool. Can I shout a warning to Harold and Tremor?" - Ladyhawk.
"Of course you can."
"Alright then, I take five steps forward and shout, 'Duck!'" - Ladyhawk.
"Where? I love ducks!" - Dev and myself simultaneously.
"I hate ducks. A duck ate my honey-soy duck." - Opal, quietly.
"Holy ****. That's morbid."
"A duck broke my foot once." - LD.
"What!?" - Most everyone, save for me as I have heard this story before.
"It's a long story."
"The short version is, I was on a trampoline. A duck flew down, scared me and pushed me off the trampoline." - LD, to stunned silence.

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The blast of flame smashes the champion to ground, but the undead warrior is still not completely felled.
"He's down! Kill him!" - Maebh, ignoring the fact that it is already dead.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Harold obliges and his blades flash as he hacks the champion apart.

The armour of the champion and the Wolf King is far too heavy and impractical for any of the party to use, even Harold. On the other hand, their weapons are both expertly crafted and well-maintained.

The champion bears heavy plate harness, a massive sword and a weight solid-iron shield. On the champion's belt is a ring of heavy iron keys, which Harold takes, along with the champion's sword.

Maebh stalks over to the decapitated Wolf King and examines his corpse. His armour is ornate and heavy, as is his longsword. His wolf-pelt cloak, while likely rich in a past life, is now dank and musty and frankly, smells like ****. On his left hand, he bears a thick, rune-engraved golden ring. Maebh takes the longsword for herself and tosses the ring to Tremor, who has shown a somewhat disconcerting urge to collect expensive jewellery.

I've known Wings for years. Surely he should know by now that Lord of the Rings are my favourite books and movies of all time....

Leaving the dining hall, the party goes up the stairs, coming upon the first floor. Opening the door, the party comes across a room in which a great number of skeletons are working away at desks and stacking books in bookshelves. No moves are made towards the party, they simply work at their tasks, sorting through books, stacking them and writing them. Progress is slow, but steady. The party search through the books, stepping around the skeletal beings. All the books they look at are written in a language none of the group are familiar with, though it seems to be similar to the Scribhinn, the Danann script.

From what they can tell, it seems that the books are written histories. And while they are almost illegible, they are beautiful works of art.

As Dev points out, the skeletons seem to be almost magical automated typewriters.

Each party member picks up a handful of books and scrolls, stuffing them into backpacks and then continue up the tower. Every room they come across is much the same as the first, filled with more skeletons creating written works.

The party finally reach the top of the tower, where the staircase ends with a much larger door. Where the other doors were ordinary, unadorned wooden affairs, this door is much larger, made of dark carved iron. A carven, rather daemonic looking face glares at the party from the door.

I remind Opal that she can jump in at any time, and she offers that currently she is eating a steak in Dreven's Fortress inn. 

LD suggests opening the door.
"That sounds like a mis-steak." - to laughter and groans of disgust.
"I would join in the puns, but the steaks are too high." - Sins, to more laughter than I got.
"You're one of my favourite people." - Ladyhawk, to Sins, grinning sheepishly.

The door is not locked and the party cautiously creep inside. Immediately they are set upon by two skeletal guards and a deadwolf.
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Maebh immediately opens up with another Fury of the River, smashing the two guards into shattered piles of bone on the ground. Only half of the deadwolf remains, glowering and slavering at the party as they stride past it.

It took longer to roll Initiative than finish the fight there, which is another sign that it needs to be more intuitive than it is.
"Sorry." - Ladyhawk.

Against the back wall, an unconscious dwarf is chained to the wall in an iron cage.
"You breed fast." - Sins, to Wings. Massive laughter.
In the centre of the room, there is a large, rusted iron table covered in bloodstains, engraved runes and heavy chains. Tremor and Breanna inspect the table and determine between them that the runes are of a cursing variety, and that they are specifically used for some kind of transmutation. Basically, one taps into the power of the runes to change the form of whatever lies upon the table into a pre-determined shape.

"I'm disappointed. When you said cursing, I thought the table was for swearing at people who get too close." - Sins.
"I'm glad I wasn't the only one who pictured the runes saying, '****.' " - Ladyhawk, laughing.
"The way they actually work, you could end up with **** actually on the table." - Opal.
"That's some curse."

Tremor thinks about copying these runes for his own use. Essentially, Tremor's runecraft is a form of Spirit magic, where Tremor takes the ambient energy of spirits in the world around him and binds it into the engravings he places upon metal. The runes however, instead of binding the energy of spirits, are actually binding daemonic entities and so are both far more powerful and far more volatile.

Instead he walks over to the unconscious dwarf and recognises him. The Dwergar in the cage is none other than Tremor's cousin, Barandin Rostenson of Clan Stonefist. He does not look in a good way, dried blood streaking his face, beard and chest. He would appear dead if it weren't for the slight rise and fall of his chest with his breathing. As Tremor approaches, he looks up and a fierce golden light gleams in his savage eyes. The chains hold him back as he begins to growl at his approaching cousin.

I figure they need yet another hint here.
"Now LD's knowledge of the Leathe legends has suggested that the varghulf condition is a curse. This table has been revealed as one which places a curse on whatever is chained to it."
"Can we change him back?" - Wings.
"My knowledge of the varghulf is that I destroy them..." - Ladyhawk, whispering.
"On another note, not only do you guys steal everything which isn't nailed down, LD even stole my name." - Opal, whose real name is very similar to Breanna.
"To be fair, she picked it because she was too lazy to come up with a name particularly different from her own." - LD's real name is also similar to Breanna, which naturally makes it confusing as hell trying to differentiate who we're speaking to.
"Anyway, what are you doing with Barandin?"
"Can we work the table?" - Wings.
"You might be able to."
"Maebh's leaving the room then." - Ladyhawk.
"So we could work the table perhaps?" - Wings.
"You could, but there might be an easier way to do it..." - Blank looks from everyone... "Your walking magical battery might have an easier alternative."
"Walking magical battery? Do you have a better solution than the table?" - Wings.
"Uh, yeah don't use the table. It seems dangerous and we don't know what we're working with." - Ladyhawk, to Dev's laughter.
"Right, but PG said you might have a solution." - Wings.
"This is a curse...." - With heavy emphasis on the final word.
"Oh right, Remove Curse... How many times have you hinted that?" - Ladyhawk, laughing.
"Hmm a couple... Two sessions now."
"Should I get the bowl of water then?" - Ladyhawk.
"You can."
"Will it help?" - Ladyhawk.
"Yes, it will help."
"Right, bowl of water then please?" - Ladyhawk, asking around.
They start discussing where to get water from.
"Yeah some water from a skin will do, right?" - Ladyhawk.
"Well yeah sure. You know you can make water in your hands right?"
"Oh yeah!" - Ladyhawk.

Maebh begins the ritual to cleanse the cursed Dwergar, and finally places her hand upon his forehead. He tries to bite her, but she avoids his gnashing teeth. Upon being cured, his eyes turn back to a dark, almost black grey and he sags against the wall. He looks around confused and his eyes eventually fall on Tremor.

"Tremor, is that you? What are you doing here?" - Barandin Stonefist.
Harold moves forward and uses the keys on the champion's pilfered ring to unlock the cage and manacles.
"I have news from home Tremor. Your brother, he is... Well, a ******** to put it lightly. I am sorry, but your father is dead. Your brother killed him for the rulership. He has also had your sister sold off to a rival clan. To my knowledge, everyone we grew up with, friends we fought with, are dead. Or exiled, but they're probably dead too." - Barandin, trying to get everything out in case he lapses into unconsciousness again.
"You're a noble?" - Maebh, quietly.
"Yes." - Tremor, also quietly.
"****." - Maebh, concerned.

Tremor's cousin is physically battered, unarmed and unarmoured, but it seems he insists he is well enough to try and leave this place with the party.

"We will help you rescue your sister Tremor." - Maebh, gripping her spear tightly.
"Yes, we shall." - Harold.
Tremor nods his gratitude.

From the main room there are two doorways, not counting the large iron door they just came through, one to left of where they stand and one straight ahead. To the right is an open balcony which overlooks the courtyard and the mountain.

The party inspects the room straight ahead first. It appears to be an armoury of sorts. To their left is another wooden door. Four suits of heavy steel plate harness line the walls, too heavy and impractical for any of the party. The cloth and leather of all four suits are worn with age. Upon one sits a highly ornate steel helm in the shape of a wolf-skull which Tremor takes.
Against the left wall lies a display case with a powerful hunting bow and five well-crafted arrows, which Kel'Serrar claims.
Against the right wall is a wooden desk covered in parchment and a single book which details the art of scroll-crafting. Tremor takes both the bow and the parchment.
Next to it is a chest which Maebh points at and it pops open.
Successful Channelling Skill Check to open it.
Dark black and green wisps of lightning crackle from within it, indicating that it was probably warded. Within the chest is a small selection of already completed scrolls, a wolf-fang talisman and two wands, one of alderwood and the other rune-inscribed oak. Tremor takes the scrolls and Maebh takes the talisman and wands.  The mage studies the talisman and determines that it grants the wearer the favour of woodland spirits.
Essentially +10 to Survival Checks in woodland areas.
Another chest lies against the back wall, which Harold approaches and unlocks using his pilfered keys. In it is a fine steel dagger and longsword, an enchanted thick black cloak, and a steel war axe. The Invarrian takes it all and gives the axe to Barandin and the cloak to Kel'Serrar.

Tremor heads back out into the main room, before taking the other doorway. The rest of the group meanwhile go through the doorway from the armoury and come upon what they assume to be the Wolf King's personal living quarters.

A sumptuous bed which has not been used for probably hundreds of years dominates the room, and a wardrobe and chest made up the rest of the furnishings. Maebh immediately inspects the chest and split the money and small bag of gemstones inside. A cask of pipeweed is set aside for Tremor.

Tremor
Going through the door they Tremor first notices long wooden table with a comfortable leather chair. Along two walls are expansive bookshelves with considerably less books in them than they were constructed to hold. There is also a small fireplace.

The Dwergar immediately takes one of the books off a shelf, an exotic tome written in gold ink, bound in leather and trimmed with bone, and sets himself down upon the chair to read. Flicking through the book, named the Codex of Blood, Tremor finds a treasure-trove of knowledge regarding ancient necromantic masters. The Dwergar, flicking through, comes across the first page of a chapter embossed with the symbol of a flaming pine tree. He has a moment to recognise the resemblance between that symbol and the one engraved upon his amulet before he is wracked with a not-inconsiderable amount of pain, causing him to drop the book. The pain subsides in a moment, leaving him with a splitting headache, and he opens his eyes to find the book again, which is lying open at a different page, one detailing the master Odon. He closes it and slams the book into his backpack.

Tremor looks through each book in turn as the rest of the party finish in the Wolf King's chamber, and continues to do so after they come in to the study.
"What's up?" - Tremor, in a non-committal greeting.
He then picks up another book from the pile next to him, an impressive tome bound in carved wooden plates. Opening it, Tremor reads the title, Hosimmo's Articles of Daemonic Manifestation in blood upon the linen page, before his mind is consumed by images of the brutal carnage of daemonic legions locked in an endless war. In seconds, his mind snaps back to reality and he is left mentally scarred by the experience.
The others look at him, panting heavily and with a fist clenched to his forehead.
"Are you okay?" - Maebh.
"Yeah, sure..." - Tremor, grimacing.

At the end of the book is a note, written in black ink upon parchment in spidery handwriting. It is pinned to the wooden plate binding the book.

Quote from: Handwritten Note
My research indicates that Hosimmo was slain by a summoned pack of daemons he thought were under his control, a grim warning to one who would attempt to replicate his feats for themselves.

Sitting on the table is a small blackthorn puzzle-box, lying where Tremor placed it for now, having taken it from the bookshelf.
"Can I give this a go?" - Harold, to Tremor.
"Yeah sure." - Tremor, nursing his head and taking a break from combing through the books. One of them has just belched a cloud of red smoke into his eyes.
"You're really not having a good day." - Breanna, vaguely sympathetically as Harold starts to work out the puzzle-box.
Almost a minute later, Kel'Serrar snatches it from the increasingly frustrated Invarrian and deftly opens it.
Within the box lies several sheets of parchment, covered in line after line of tiny inked lettering. Kel'Serrar takes a quick look at them, realises they're magical and passes them to Maebh. A quick glance tells her that these, The Scripts of Udlar, contain several advanced magical theories which she might be able to put into use with her own ritual magics.

Tremor takes every other book, stuffing them in his backpack for later reading. They're heading out now.

The party takes the staircase once more, eventually reaching the entrance hall and then down once again into the dungeons. Everything is much as how they left it, the militia talking quietly with those who are trapped in the cages. The men who had been affected by the varghulf curse were still snarling and reaching for the militia who had retreated as far away from those two cages as possible.

"We've found out some information while you were gone." - Jon, the sergeant of the militia, to Harold.
"Let us here it then." - Harold, taking the offered handshake.
"As it happens, these people have been taken for use in the mines. The enemy wants these dark gemstones from beneath the castle. Anyone who resists is set upon by the deadwolves and then risen to serve anyway." - Jon, grim and wary. "I take it you were successful? The Wolf King is no more?"
"Indeed." - Harold, who takes up his ring of keys and starts unlocking cages, until only the last two remain unlocked. The occupants continue to snarl and rage, throwing themselves at the bars.
"Maebh, you're needed here." - Harold, staring down the bestial villagers.
The mage comes forward and removes the curses from both the men, leaving them dazed and confused. Harold is opening the doors before they hear a loud crash and some cursing from behind them and up the stairs.
"In the name of both the gods, why do I keep falling!?" - Unseen voice, who it seems falls over a lot.
"I shall take the villagers and the militia back out the tunnels." - Harold, who gathers his men and takes them out, Kel'Serrar following him, still wearing the shape of the Invarrian duellist.
His reasons for this are just to confuse matters, but I get the feeling Sins probably wanted to play a changeling kind of character from the very beginning.
Maebh leads Tremor, Barandin and Breanna up the stairs once more.

With a hand on her sword, Therressa Bannimagen looks over the oncoming figures.
"Would you know of Harold Oakenshield?" - Therressa, questioning.
"Yes, downstairs." - Breanna, laughing.
"HAROLD! Someone wants you!" - Maebh.
The Invarrian hears the yell and continues down the tunnels, perhaps slightly faster than before.
"OAKENSHIELD!" - Theressa, her voice slightly familiar to Harold.
He stops, the voice ringing a bell as a distant and vague memory stirs. He seems to remember that voice being connected somehow with his sister, and a very blurry night which friends informed him the next day involved a drinking contest which he lost.
He remembers nothing of the night itself, only the next morning, where he awoke on a softly rocking ship halfway to Unterguardt.
"It looks like you recognise that voice. Shall we keep going?" - Kel'Serrar, to Harold.
The Invarrian nods and they continue on their way and leave the tunnels.

The rest of the party follow in their wake, Therressa tagging along. They come to the cart, where a strange horse is grazing near the cart. When they emerge, they see Harold strapping swords to his own horse, Amadeus, with someone who could be his twin offering mocking advice over his shoulder.
Therressa takes a random stab and guesses that the serious one is the Harold she is after.
"Oakenshield!" - Therressa, grabbing his attention and throwing a letter at the duellist. He snatches it out of the air and opens it. It is a message from his sister, Helga.

Don't open this if you are player other than Dev, as I don't think he has revealed this to anyone yet.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

That's all for now, back soon. :smallsmile:

Here we are. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=18107809&postcount=136)

We're back. :smallbiggrin:

"I am Therressa Bannin- Banni- Ban- something, I'm not entirely sure. My parents never were really clear on that." - Therressa, struggling with her surname.
"Anyway, Harold's sister asked a favour of me and she's an old friend so I said yes. And he owes me money anyway." - Therressa, to the rest of the party and gesturing towards Harold.
"Wait, what money?" - Harold, halting his reading for a moment.
"You owe me about five sulvers." - Therressa, to the duellist.
"Hmph..." - Harold, still reading.
Therressa approaches him, drawing her sword. She brandishes it threateningly.
"Give me my money." - Therressa, to Harold.
The duellist looks unimpressed and mounts his steed before drawing his sabre.
"Do you really want to do this?" - Harold, at ease.

Therressa runs over to her own horse and mounts it, putting herself on a fairly even footing with Harold.
"Help me out and there's two sulvers in it for you." - Therressa, to Kel'Serrar, who nods thoughtfully.
The ranger, still in Invarrian form, saunters over to the wagon where Bach sleeps peacefully.
"I'm holding him hostage Harold, give her the money." - Kel'Serrar, the mercenary bastard.
"Get Bach!" - LD, to laughter.
"I'd really prefer if this didn't devolve into inter-party violence. If he's not going to give you the money, I suggest dropping it for now." - Wearily, to Opal.
"Yeah, that's alright." - Opal.

The two Invarrians size each other up, the party looking between them with bated breath. Finally, Therressa sighs.
"If you will not give me the money, then I will just follow you around till you change your mind." - Therressa, sheathing her sword.
"Oh God, Dev why didn't you just give her the money?" - Wings.
"She was going to follow us around anyway." - Dev, rather magnificently. Don't know how he did it but we were all impressed.
"Says God!" - Ladyhawk.
"Hi guys." - To laughter. Sometimes I can be funny too!

Now, with Therressa tagging along on Augustus, the party head back to Dreven, having eventually loaded up the rescued prisoners into the back of the cart, drawn by another horse now that Toirneach is apparently too good for that duty. Due to the prisoners being carted along, the rest of the party who are without steeds walk alongside the militia.

Maebh takes point on Toirneach, Harold next on Amadeus with Bach trotting alongside. The cart itself is driven by Tremor and filled with those who were rescued and too weak to walk. The militia and Kel'Serrar walk alongside and Therressa on Augustus make up the rear, carrying Breanna too with Wolfgang alongside. Within minutes, Kel'Serrar has disappeared, but they do seem to have picked up another prisoner who sits silently upon the cart....

On the way, Harold drops back for a moment and speaks to Ingir, who strides purposefully forward, back to Dreven. The man is obviously in poor condition, but seems driven to use what strength he has left to get home.
"In the castle, there is a lot of high quality steel-work lying around. I don't know how many enemies remain up there, but one day, gather up some stout-hearted men and take what you can." - Harold.
"Thank you." - Ingir, simply and Harold can tell that the man is grateful for far more than just the steel.

Upon arriving back in Dreven close to sunset, the first thing they realise is that, despite the hour the people are ecstatic. The people of Dreven stream out onto the main street to acclaim their heroes, who have returned with many of those they feared were lost.
"PARTY IN THE FORTRESS!" - LD.
Tremor keeps an eye out for the witch, Magdalyn, but he cannot see her.
I reveal here that the barkeep, Aurel, has died in their absence.
"Yeah, he died from awful-****ing-name-itosis."
"He has been replaced by his cousin, Anel?" - Wings.
"I kind of like Arnald actually, let's go with that."

Sitting astride a dark grey horse beside the stables, and staying well away from the press is a dark, weathered Danann clad in blackened steel scale armour and a long, hooded green cloak. At his back is a powerful bow and a quiver of arrows and in his hand a leaf-bladed spear.
Where the party notice him fairly quickly, Harold can also smell more in the area.
"Let's leave as quickly as possible." - Maebh, who blanches at the other Danann's sudden appearance.
"Agreed." - Tremor, fingering the hilt of his sword.
"We are surrounded I think. There's more than just him." - Harold, sniffing the air.
Tremor dismounts from the wagon and takes aside one of the villagers, pointing over his shoulder at the Danann.
"When did he get here?" - Tremor, quietly.
"He came by here yesterday actually. Said he was passing through." - Villager, looking warily at the Danann.
It's obvious that this individual has most of the village afraid of him. So naturally, Tremor approaches him.

The Danann looks down at the dwarf like he is-
"Dirt?" - Wings.
"No, more like you're a child who just rolled yourself in ****."

Meanwhile, Kel'Serrar has taken on a few different shapes and managed to ingratiate himself into at least  three separate families, all of them believing he is a long-lost relation. Essentially, he's getting hugs from people he has never met before, but they are utterly convinced that he is their cousin Jon.

Barandin and Therressa, despite having done nothing really have been showered in praise, and in Barandin's case, even clothed. They've been accepted as part of the group who have delivered there people back to them. At some point, Therressa manages to duck off to the Fortress to use the privy.
And the house-rule strikes again!

Maebh simply ducks away from the press of people and speaks quietly with her horse and Breanna stays out of the new Danann's line of sight as much as possible, trying to avoid being eaten.

Harold walks Amadeus over to where Tremor is unsuccessfully trying to initiate contact with the stranger. Seeing the Invarrian, the mounted Danann rolls his eyes.
"Why must you bother me? Can you not see I want nothing to do with either of you?" - Stranger, still scanning the crowd.
"What are you doing in my town?" - Tremor, bluntly.
"Your town?" - Stranger.
"Yes, my town. Why are you here?" - Tremor.
"None of your business. If you want to remain alive, keep to your own affairs." - Stranger. He immediately kicks his horse into a trot and rides out of the village.
Harold, who has been concentrating on deciphering the scents he can pick up, has determined there are at least three distinct Danann scents in the area, other than Kel'Serrar and Maebh. But there might be more.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

Tremor finds Barandin in the crowd and takes him aside to discuss matters with him.
"How can we find Marya? Do you know where she is now?" - Tremor, asking about his sister.
"Well last I saw, Bain gave her to the Windrider clan for more warriors to expand Nordtarnet's lands." - Barandin.
"Lands? Nordtarnet had practically no lands, it was but a border-town." - Tremor, confused.
"Aye, it was at that, ten years ago. Now Bain's gone mad, expanded in all directions at once, but mainly south into the Northmenn lands. A lot of the town of Nordtarnet itself has been replaced by new stone structures. He's turned the place into a fortress." - Barandin.
"So he has spent the strength of Nordtarnet's fighters expanding his lands?" - Tremor.
"To an extent, which is why he bargained with other wealthy clans, like the Windriders. Marya for more swords." - Barandin, grim.
"I will get her back cousin. Now, I have taken some pieces from that bastard we fought up there. Let's start re-forging it to fit you." - Tremor.
The Dwergar make for Ingir's forge, which is still afire with magical coals, where Tremor produces the armour he has plundered and begins to melt it down.

This will take some time, so the party elect to wait in Dreven for as long as it takes Tremor to complete this. The villagers grant their saviours one of the dwellings now left abandoned by the slain occupants, which the party accept with great gratitude. 

Harold stables Amadeus, finds some small amount of alcohol and then finds his militia, deciding to  spend some time with them, and enjoy the camaraderie.

Maebh sits in Toirneach's stable-stall, talking with him quietly through their mind-link. Therressa is seeing to Augustus in the next stall over. Upon finishing, the Invarrian offers to brush down Toirneach as well, which Maebh solemnly allows.

Kel'Serrar has continued his quest to ingratiate himself with every person in the village as some kind of relative. So far he has been extraordinarily successful.

Breanna meanwhile has found a tree and is dozing in it, dangling a tail down for Wolfgang to bat at playfully until it gets cold enough that she seeks shelter inside.

The night passes uneventfully.

The next morning, the party engages in much the same tasks. Most of the village is awoken early in the morning by the sound of a hammer pounding steel on an anvil as Tremor takes up his work once more.

At around midday, a party of troops approaches from the road to the west. A small troop, almost twenty men bearing forest-green kite shields, emblazoned with a golden sparrow.  A familiar face rides alongside them, clad in a dark grey-green cloak.

"Oh yay! Is it that guy?" - Dev, referring to Carhold I think.
"I don't think it's a yay Dev." - Ladyhawk.
"No, it's not a guy. It's a woman."
"Aww no, not her!" - LD, panicked.
"Arrgh! I hate her. It's that stupid Dhara, isn't it? Where are my fireballs?" - Ladyhawk.
"No, it is not Mayor Redwyn's wife, nor is it Dhara..."
"Oh good then." - Ladyhawk.
"Oh, NO!" - Dev.
"Oh yes...." - Sins.
"Sins is happy to see her."
"Only because I look like someone else." - Sins.
"Yes, it is in fact Chirya guys."

Beside her is another man, clad in much the same way as the infantry, in chain with a green leather tabard over it with a sword at his belt. Unlike the men, on his helm he bears a single white feather and he rides a horse.
Chirya recognises Harold, who is overseeing the militia's drills and rides over to him, ignoring the scowl on the faces of both the leader of the troops and the Invarrian.
"No hard feelings regarding those arrows I sent into you last we met I trust?" - Chirya, dismounting and offering a hand.
Harold thinks for a moment before shaking the proffered hand.
"You're a professional, I understand." - Harold.
"Not that professional, I missed. If I were that much a professional, we would not be having this conversation." - Chirya, darkly humorous. "Now, would Kel'Serrar still be with you?"
"We got separated in the fortress to the north. I do not know where he is now." - Harold, lying through his teeth. She knows it too, but will not call him a liar to his face. With a pointed look, she continues.
"Well, if you do see him, let him know that I want to speak with him again." - Chirya.
Tremor walks up to where the two of them are speaking, Barandin trailing behind him, having ceased smithing when they noticed the band of soldiers arrive.
"You are still breathing dwarf? I was sure I had shot truly that night." - Chirya.
Tremor merely smiles in response, but it never reaches his eyes.

In the light, and with a new day, one can see that a lock of the Dwergar's usually coal-black hair is now a streak of silver-blond. He does not know why this happened, but his dreams last night were troubled indeed, haunted by a voice he was sure he did not know, and yet sounded so familiar. Countless battles played over in his mind, living warriors pitted against hordes of undying monsters. And over it all, flashes of a burning pine wreathed in smoke.

"So why are you here?" - Harold, to Chirya, snapping Tremor's thoughts back to the present.
"I've been hired by the king of Naille himself, though he is but a whelp. I have been attached to this patrol to guide them through these lands. Apparently patrols were going missing, and word has spread of my woodcraft." - Chirya, leaning into Harold and speaking a little quieter. "There's no plan other than escalating the conflict and screwing with them all. To add to the attraction, they're even paying me to do it."
"Sounds like fun. How much are you being paid?" - Harold, brow raised.
"I don't know and to be honest, I don't really care. It's always been about the hunt for me, although it serves my purposes to see as many people consumed by this conflict as possible. If those in power prefer to believe I'm aiding them for the coppers, well that's their problem." - Chirya.
"So you're coming through here on patrol?" - Harold, fishing for information.
"Yes, we're going through all of Naille's westernmost lands. There have been some troubling rumours coming out of Summer Hill." - Chirya, stepping back to a more normal distance.
At this, Therressa, who has been following the conversation from a distance, chimes in.
"I passed through those lands recently, and the rumours are probably true." - Therressa.

Having surreptitiously overheard this conversation, Kel'Serrar retreats to the party's dwelling and pens a note, which he will attach to another tree outside town.
[/color]

"Well the rumours are frankly quite worrying." - The captain, having dismounted and offering a hand Harold, who shakes it firmly. "Captain Olivar Westbrook."
"Harold Oakenshield, of Varr. What rumours are there?" - Harold.
"Wailing monstrosities roaming the countryside, breaking into hamlets and devouring the occupants. And then Elspeth moved against the township. From all we know, at least one legion is still encamped around it. Anyone who ventures there does not return." - Captain Westbrook.

"Except me." - Therressa, to Maebh under her breath.
"What do you know?" - Maebh, responding in kind.
"There's a lord who has taken over the town. He has control of these creatures, keeping them locked up during the day, but he releases them at night. There's a Feartarbh in his command too." - Therressa.

"Has Naille sent any forces to check on the situation?" - Harold.
"I probably should not be saying this, but the kingdom cannot afford to send out armies." - Captain Westbrook.
"Where are Naille's armies then?" - Harold.
"You misunderstand me, we don't have them. Extended conflicts with Elspeth and now these attacks from unseen quarters in our own countryside. We don't know where half our men have gone. Communication has broken down and we have lost far too many men on routine patrols." - Captain Westbrook, grim.
"What happens then if Elspeth makes a move on Naille itself?" - Harold.
"We don't know. We're keeping large patrols out so that at least we'll have forewarning, but there are only so many patrols we can send out as each has to be much larger than usual or they are never seen again. In fact, this here is the smallest patrol we've sent out since the Carhold fell." - Captain Westbrook.
"So you're bluffing." - Harold, a statement, not a question.
"Essentially yes, we don't have the forces to repel them if they attack." - Captain Westbrook.
"Wait, the Carhold? Isn't that the holding of the ambassador in Summer Hill?" - Tremor.
"Yes, it was. Lord Edmond is presumed dead, although we have no way of knowing if he has survived what has befallen that town. No word has reached us of his continued survival." - Captain Westbrook.
"Well I should get back to overseeing the training of these men then." - Harold, shaking the captain's hand once more.
"It has been a pleasure Sir Oakenshield. Good luck to you and your companions on your ventures." - Captain Westbrook, re-mounting.
"Till we meet again Oakenshield." - Chirya, also remounting.
They lead the troops through the village and down the east road.

The rest of the day passes uneventfully and the party enjoy their well-deserved break.

Some small amount of healing for those who had taken wounds and a recharge of Luck too. Tremor also finds out that Magdalyn left with no fanfare in the middle of the night while they were gone, leaving nothing behind. Not even her door.

It is late evening and Tremor and Barandin still work at the forge, intent on their task. The rest of the party have withdrawn to their rooms in their communal dwelling. Then, through the main street of the village comes the sound of hoofbeats. A party of cavalry are riding through the settlement.

Harold, who had planned on a quiet, alcohol-filled evening, sets aside his rum and approaches a window, joined by Maebh and Breanna, both of whom were awoken from slumber by the hoofbeats.

Kel'Serrar, has taken up residence in a family's house as their second cousin-twice-removed Shadie, looks out his window too, but makes no other move. Therressa meanwhile hears the hoofbeats, but rationalises it as the village's horses and goes back to sleep.

Those looking out the window see the party of five horsemen stop outside their house. One of their number dismounts. In appearance, he is tall and gaunt, his long face pale and utterly without joy, fixed in a constant arrogant sneer and framed by brown dreadlocks, held by golden clasps. A longsword and a dagger hang at his belt and a strong bow is at his back.  He is clad in a curious leather jerkin and a rich fur-lined brown cloak.
"Maebh Preachain-Eite! Are you in there?" - Male voice, in the Cainte.
"Oh no..." - Ladyhawk.
"I have no compunctions regarding burning down this house. Are you in there?" - Stranger.
They do not respond.
"You have caused me a lot of pain. You have caused many people a lot of pain. And you will pay for it." - Stranger.
Harold finishes belting on his sword and together he, Maebh and Breanna stride outside. Therressa follows them.
"I heard shouting and couldn't get back to sleep." - Therressa, by way of explanation.
"Who are you?" - Harold, belligerently to the stranger.
"I am someone so far above you that you could not even imagine. Stand aside Invarrian, I care only for Maebh." - Stranger, a Danann.

Barandin taps Tremor's arm as the latter is hammering at the steel.
"Yes?" - Tremor.
"Your friends seem to have some company." - Barandin, pointing to the standoff between their company and the Danann.
Tremor leaves the steel to cool and both start to walk to the confrontation.

"Maebh, it has been too long." - Stranger, with a grim smile, revealing teeth far too pointed, even for a Danann.
"Not long enough Bastaird." - Maebh, revealing she knows who this is.

This spoiler has stuff containing bits and pieces of Maebh's backstory. It's pretty obvious by now, so I guess it's not too bad if the players read this. Just keep in mind that your characters don't know all this until/unless Maebh tells them.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

Bastaird draws a golden dagger from his belt and hold it up in slender fingers.
"You have something of mine Maebh." - Bastaird, and Maebh can see that the dagger in his hands is almost identical to the one she has in her possession.
Swift as a snake, Bastaird strikes at Maebh with the golden blade in his hand, but she manages to jump back just in time.
Weapons are drawn all around. From his hidden vantage point, Kel'Serrar takes up his bow and nocks an arrow.
Tremor starts running towards the standoff, fumbling in his backpack for a vial of "boom-sauce."

An arrow flashes down from a rooftop and lands in the ground in front of Tremor. The dwarf doesn't even check his run. Two arrows smash into his back, but they barely penetrate the chain hauberk he wears. He stumbles for a moment, rights himself and keeps running. And then hurls the vial with all his strength.

Unfortunately, he missed his intended target. He didn't hit the bow-armed Danann behind Bastaird. He's close though. The vial disappears in a fiery explosion, which wreathes the ranger's horse in flames, which naturally startles all the other mounts. The Danann pack struggle to rein in their steeds while all the ranger can do is throw himself from the saddle as his horse wails piteously. He rips his cloak off and throws it to the ground before the liquid flames can spread any further.

Harold draws a blade and attempts to interpose himself between Bastaird and Maebh, but the dagger-armed Danann backs away, allowing a woman armed with a spear and clad in a heavy chain hauberk with a tough leather sleeved jerkin over the top, complete with a long brown hooded coat, to come forward to meet Harold. She swings the leaf-bladed spear at the Invarrian, but he easily avoids the strike.

Another Danann woman, also armed with a spear, is still on horseback and as she chants under her breath, she is surrounded by a dark purplish wisps of magic. On the ground beneath her horse, a dark purple mist forms and what little of her skin can be seen under her dark cloak and robes glistens a dark purple-black. The mist begins to crawl along the ground towards Maebh, Harold and Therressa.

Maebh and Kel'Serrar in particular start to feel an internal drain on themselves, like an oppression on their spirits. Shrugging the uncomfortable feeling off, Maebh concentrates on calling the power of the storm to her location. She has to really struggle, wielding more power than she had since she immolated her village. The clouds above her rumble with thunder and lightning flashes around her. She directs some of the bolts at her enemies, rocking the mounted mage in her saddle in a flash of clashing magic. A few other bolts flash down, but most just miss their targets, the draining effect on Maebh taking its toll.

From his hidden vantage point, Kel'Serrar takes aim at one of the Danann to the rear, a tall, powerfully built individual, clad in tough leathers and bearing a black forest lion pelt over his shoulders. Kel'Serrar's aim is true and the man falls from his horse, transfixed by the arrow in his throat.

"Mharu!" - The mounted mage, who releases her hold on the magic mist creeping towards Maebh and the two Invarrians and dismounts to run towards where the stricken Danann lies.
"Naira, take Mharu and fall back! To the forest!" - Bastaird, who helps the burned ranger to his feet before mounting his own horse.
Harold and Therressa both make for the spear-armed warrior, swords drawn and she intercepts both blades with her spear before leaping back and accepting a hand up from the ranger who has mounted the warrior's horse.
"You may have won this round Maebh, but I will follow you. You've always been mine..." - Bastaird, before turning and riding out of the village.

And we left it there....

The Wrap-Up:
Not too bad a session. Unfortunately it wasn't a great session for Opal to join in on due to how long our hiatus had been. We had to spend precious time going over the rules at various points and got very bogged down in off-topic chatter several times.

Unfortunately, Opal felt a little useless at this point, not helped by the fact that she barely got a chance to have a go in combat. Hopefully the next session might be a little more eventful. We intend to have an admittedly short session on the 27th of September. Hopefully we can make the combats run a little smoother.

As usual, thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please go ahead and post. :D

Cheers,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:16:27 AM
Interlude 3.5: New Beginnings

In a time renowned for great warlords and mages, few would carve out a realm to match that of Kresimina, the Witch-Queen of the North. Few too, are the realms which come into existence in such a storm of fire and death and leave so little evidence of their passing.

The realm of Kresimina was one forged from the lands of petty warlords, defeated by the Witch-Queen's undying legions and then reanimated to serve her will. And then, in one night, after almost two decades of her violent and expansionist rule, the realm collapsed. Her forces crumbled in an instant and those lucky few who survived her rampage fell prey to those hungry rulers of the fearful realms on her borders.

It was said the Witch-Queen sought immortality, but it would seem the only immortality she found was that of all great and terrible figures in history, the immortality of print...


From A History of the Northern Realms.

This is a bit shorter than I would have liked, but I guess quality over quantity, right?

Anyway, this is something a little bit different due to the fact that a huge amount of time has passed between sessions, but tomorrow is definitely going ahead and the group decied on a time jump to get us to the action a little sooner.

So here we are, starting from right after the last session...

EDIT* In green are the pick of the comments from the group which occured as I read the interlude to them at the beginning of the most recent session. Hopefully you will find them entertaining.

"Well, we are not going to catch a pack of Danann in the woods at night" - Harold, sheathing his blades.
"I am struggling to believe this, but I agree with Harold." - Kel'Serrar, walking out to collect spent arrows. "We had the advantage here, but in the woods they can set all manner of traps for us. Besides, they'll be watching us. Maebh's friend said so."

The companions spend the rest of the night in relatively restless sleep.

In the very early hours, Maebh takes Toirneach and retreats to a clearing on the outskirts of town where she attunes herself to the area and practices calling on her magics. She feels that she will have to grow in power to ensure both her own safety and that of her companions.

Some hours later, Harold approaches the blacksmith, Ingir.
"I am gathering the militia to gather the iron and steel from the Blackfort. If you would like to join us to pick out some choice pieces, you are welcome." - Harold.
Ingir agrees to accompany them.
With the Invarrian and the militia go Tremor and Kel'Serrar, the former to drive the cart, the latter simply to get out of the town.

The Blackfort is eerily quiet, as is the forest, but the party are unmolested as they tear through the abandoned fortress in search of workable iron and steel. The place still feels unwelcoming, but no wolves are seen. The place is deserted, but it still smells of death and the air itself has an eerie, ethereal quality.

Naturally, the expedition do not tarry long.

After retrieving the materials from the Blackfort, the companions spend a few days resting in Dreven, recovering their strength before heading north. They know that once they are out on the road, they are fair game for the Danann pack.

Harold spends the days drilling the militia and encouraging a laconic Kel'Serrar to teach them marksmanship. To the militia, it seems as if Harold brings in a new archery instructor every practice session... When not helping Harold, the ranger seeks solitude to continue practicing his own skills, albeit of a more arcane nature.

Tremor on the other hand uses the time to finish his work on Barandin's accoutrements and to continue chatting about what has been occurring at home in Nordtarnet. His cousin is now more heavily armoured than any in the party, which is exactly how the mountain dwarf likes to be in battle.

It is a cold and clear morning when the companions set out from the safety of Dreven, taking the Northern Forest Road to Warding and then on to Beachead, the capital of the coastal kingdom of Greenbay.

Harold and Maebh flank the cart, on Amadeus and Toirneach respectively, Bach trotting along behind Harold, now far too large to sit in the Invarrian's pack.

Tremor drives the cart, with a heavily armoured Barandin beside him. The cousins take it in turns to drive, as Tremor takes any opportunity while sitting down to work on his runecrafting or mechanical designs.

Breanna and Kel'Serrar sit on the back, Wolfgang nestled between them. The marcwolf has picked up many of his owner's mannerisms, and can often be found sleeping on the job.

Therressa and Augustus bring up the rear of the group, walking within easy talking distance of Breanna.

However even the naturally talkative Breanna and Therressa find themselves quietened soon after leaving the relative safety of Dreven.

Despite it being a clear morning when they left the village, the weather seems to have taken a sharp turn for the worse. Barely two hours have passed before an inexplicable mist hangs over the undergrowth. The air grows even colder, and all of a sudden their breath is escaping in puffs of steam.

And then, through the mist, hanging from the tree branches on either side of the road, the shapes of men can be seen. No one is game enough to investigate closely, but the slain men appear to be the remains of a Naillish patrol. Unconsciously, Maebh, Harold and Therressa ride just a little closer to the cart and Bach even jumps onto the back, waking Wolfgang momentarily.

They continue onwards, at a faster pace. They do not know who would have taken out the patrol and strung them up in the trees, but the Danann pack are a good bet, so the quicker they move out of the area, the better.

The next few hours, while terse and watchful, are uneventful and the companions find themselves coming upon a ford over the Greymont Run, the natural border between Naille and Greymont. They cross it as quickly as they can, leaving the troubles of Naille behind.

The southern lands of Greymont are quite similar to those of Naille, grassland broken by dense pockets of forest. It is a three week journey from the Greymont Run to Warding, the fortress which guards the Coldfell Pass, the safest route through the White Mountains.

These weeks are spent bonding amongst the companions, specifically with the newest of their company, Therressa Bannimagen.
"Banni-may-gen." - Opal.
"Close enough."
"Why are you correcting him? She doesn't even know!" - LD.
She is a relatively experienced adventurer and well used to hard life on the road, but is used to walking such a road in isolation, with only the company of Augustus. Despite this, she is a cheerful and friendly soul, and bonds quickly with Breanna, someone of similar temperament.

Tremor meanwhile has become more and more withdrawn, even with Barandin. Every night, the Dwergar is caught in a web of ill dreams. Flashes of hellish battles long past wreak havoc in his mind. Even in his waking hours, the image of a burning pine blazes in his mind, and a female voice which sounds so familiar murmurs to him, though he cannot make out the words.

In short, he is being driven insane, but beneath the burgeoning madness, he can feel a well of power within him, encased by a thin shell. But that shell is weakening. Every day, he chips away at it a little more...

Though concerned for Tremor's wellbeing, there is nothing the companions can do for him and so they watch as their short friend is slowly consumed by his own internal quest.
Cue torrents of laughter at the short friend remark. The passage lost all impact when the group lost their ****.

Maebh at first was quite withdrawn after the reappearance of Bastaird in her life, but over the weeks of travel, has started to open up with her companions. Despite their differences, she can see that these people she is travelling with are good folk, and worthy of respect.
"Wait, what?" - Wings, to explosive laughter.
"She is still hanging out with us right?" - Sins, laughing.
Regardless, she still does not say much unless it is necessary and her nights are troubled. Indeed, her dreams would be no better than Tremor's if it weren't for Toirneach, who senses Maebh's distress every night and shields her from the pain, allowing her to lose herself in his own dreams of running free and careless under the open sky, over an endless green plain.
"My little pony, my little pony..." - Opal, singing.

* * *

Warding, the Gateway to the North. A tall, imposing fortress set into the sides of the White Mountains themselves. To merely get to the massive gates, one has to travel the length of the causeway, a stone ramp a mile long, suspended both by traditional stonework and magical supports. The open southern gate towers above a small party on the stone causeway, three mounted adventurers around a horse-drawn cart.
"Oh look! It's us!" - Ladyhawk.

The fortress is heavily guarded, Midlanders in the traditional garb of the Watchmen line the high walls. Through the centre of the fortress runs a wide road, kept clear of snow by the near constant traffic of patrols and merchant caravans through the Coldfell Pass. One such caravan is passing through to the south as the companions arrive in Warding, a procession of covered wagons and surly hired blades.

The companions do not stay long in Warding, and leave to the north as swiftly as possible, taking the Coldfell Pass through to the kingdom of Greenbay.

While cold and difficult to traverse, the Pass is kept relatively safe by the constant patrols of Watchmen out of Warding, and the companions exit the pass unharmed.

And that's it for the interlude. Tomorrow's session kicks off in the port city of Beachead, the capital of Greenbay.

Hopefully it will not take me too long to get that all written up and you'll have some stuff to chew on until we can get a definite schedule organised. I am looking forward to this year guys. :smallbiggrin:

Cheers,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:17:07 AM
Session 4.1: Over The Cold Northern Sea

In the year 1642 CE, Lord Godrik Ironfist of Nordtarnet died and was succeeded by his second son, Bain. His first son, Tremor had been exiled for crimes undisclosed by the royal clan.

Bain’s rule was swiftly marked by the extreme fortification of the once humble border-fort, and the zeal and speed with which he exerted his power over the neighbouring realms. The first to defy the growing Ironfist influence was Lord Ersun Blackbear of Valewatch. His rebellion was as brutal as it was swift, and Bain Ironfist had Blackbear’s wife and sons executed. Ersun himself was sent into exile as Bain, “Would not take the life of such a noble lord.”

Blackbear was driven into the mountains by mounted warriors, with nothing but a waterskin and a ragged shirt, a death sentence in itself…


From The Bloody History of Nordtarnet.

Welcome to Session 4.1 of Three Coins.

"Shoebox, tissue, band-aid. Random words. String them together." - Sins, testing the microphone.

So the session began with a recap of the Interlude, which was posted previously.

Upon leaving the Coldfell Pass, the party make their way through the forested lands of Greenbay towards the capital of that coastal realm, Beachead.

Beachead is a prosperous trading hub with an absolutely thriving market district. It is bustling when the companions arrive and they soon split up to take advantage of the goods before them. Their overall task is to charter a ship which will take them to the southern coast of Unterguardt, but they are also looking to replenish their personal stocks and equipment, along with warm clothing for the voyage.

"Because I am an Invarrian, would I know anything more about sailing?" - Dev.
"I'd imagine most of your knowledge would be regarding what ships look like easy targets."
"Right, but what about just general sailing knowledge?" - Dev.
"You likely would not know too much more than the average sailor who does it for a living."
"What about tricks of the trade?" - Dev.
"Uh, yeah, maybe."
This could be foreshadowing. Or it might never come up in the future.

"Also, because we're furry-" - Opal.
"Yes, we still have to wear clothes." - Dev, cutting that tangent off at the pass.
"Right, but do we need the heavy stuff too?" - Opal, questioning.
As it happens, Therressa has the Cold of the North Invarrian Trait which gives her Resistance to Cold, but Harold does not. All the same, this voyage was likely to get very cold so I encouraged Opal to get something heavier for Therressa anyway.

There was also a serious delay as several maps were pored over and they made fun of my drawing. Varr looks like a wolf head and Unterguardt looks like a bear's head swallowing an acorn.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

Tremor finds a winter-clothing merchant who happens to be a Dwergar. Even more amazingly, the merchant hails from Nordtarnet and Tremor has met him before.
"And he knows you slept with his sister." - Opal.
"Did I!?" - Wings, either outraged or gleeful, we couldn't tell.
"You might have, but that's not going to come up in this conversation."
The merchant, Eidrik Silverhand gives Tremor a discount for him and his friends, for old time's sake.
The wardrobe additions are as follows:

Maebh:A long furry black coat of wolf-fur which comes down to the ground and has a great cowl. She also gets some warm grey cotton clothing to wear under her customary leathers.

Kel’Serrar: A thick jerkin of layered hides and a long white fur cloak.

Tremor: A thick black coat made of bear hide and fur. The coat has a deep cowl, lined with fur. The collar also can be brought up over the lower face to protect against the wind.

Harold: Thick woollen tunic and breeches in brown with a leather greatcoat lined with bear fur. Heavy leather boots, also lined with bear fur complete the ensemble. Harold bought two sets of tunic and breeches, anticipating that they will be ruined.

Breanna: Heavy, fur-insulated leather boots and a thick, and two fur-lined chocolate brown leather jackets with a detachable hood and black wool face mask.

Therressa: (Have not received Opal’s homework yet.)

Spoiler (click to show/hide)


They are successful in replenishing their supplies and in obtaining warmer clothing, though Therressa does try to 'accidentally' steal hers. As to passage however, this is a bit more difficult. One ship is found which will be big enough to carry the horses. The captain of the caravel is a man by the name of Jon Burgundy, a big man with a southern accent almost as thick as his massive black moustache.

The cart is sold, all the crap within it gathered up by the companions. Only Tremor with his library and Harold with his armoury are overly burdened, though Maebh only realises now that she has had a tower shield in there since the ruins outside Summer Hill.

"Well, how am I supposed to carry this around?" - Ladyhawk, pondering the tower shield.
"How about if you cast some kind of spell on it to make it smaller?" - Opal.
"You could just sell it." - Dev.
"No, I get an advantage if I use it as a component for my shield spell." - Ladyhawk.
"I will allow you to do a shrink item effect on a successful Channelling Check, to allow you to carry it as a talisman."
"I love how I have such a massive amount of daemon summoning stuff in my backpack." - LD, to all round sniggers.
"Actually, now I think about it, I don't do defensive spells. I attack to defend myself." - Ladyhawk.
"Oh, I've noticed." - To laughter.
"The best defence is not a good offense, the best defence is burning everything that moves." - Sins, quietly.

The tower shield is sold, although Sins does suggest tying it to the back of the ship and having Tremor sit or surf on the back.

The cart is sold too, and the horse with it.
"14 sulvers? That's a rip off, I paid a crown for that!" - Ladyhawk.
"It loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot." - Sins.

Harold, Maebh and Kel'Serrar sort out transport to Unterguardt, telling Captain Burgundy that they need to get to Urik's Landing, a small port-town on the southern coast of Unterguardt in the kingdom of Southreach.

"That's a reasonable voyage. Over two months of sailing at this time of year, in difficult conditions too. How large is your party?" - Captain Burgundy.
"Seven of us, three horses and two marcwolves." - Harold, counting them off.
"Okay, well that's twelve sulvers each, plus another four per animal." - Burgundy, adding it up.

"Bloody hell...." - Ladyhawk, unhappy at the expense.
"Can we kill them and take the ship? We do have two Invarrians skilled in sailing." - Opal.
"The ship's bigger than Invarrian longships. We'd struggle to run it properly." - Dev.
"Ah, that makes a lot of sense." - Opal, thoughtful.
"Who runs the ship again?" - Wings.
"Captain Jon Burgundy..." - Said slowly and with a grimace. Wings himself named the character.
"I knew, I just love hearing you have to say it." - Wings, laughing.
"Every time he says his name, we win." - Sins, to general hilarity.
Wings originally petitioned for Ron Ted Burgundy, but I managed to dodge that one.

"Come now, you can offer better than that, surely?" - Harold, haggling.
"Think about it, we're offering you a fighting crew, two more experienced hands and I am a healer of some small ability." - Kel'Serrar, tacking on his piece.
"Very true. Okay then, would seven sulvers each and another two per animal be fair?" - Burgundy.
"Fair enough." - Harold, shaking on it.
"Excellent, we leave on the morrow as soon as the tide allows." - Burgundy.

Seeing as it is mid-afternoon, the companions split up to take advantage of the bustling market and Tremor, Barandin and Therressa go to a tavern for some lunch.
"I order my traditional delicacy! What is it?" - Wings.
"Uh, haggis."- To laughter.
“Really, that's the best you could come up with?" - Wings, laughing.
“It could have been goat balls." - Opal.
“Well, you're a dwarf, therefore Scottish, therefore haggis. And if you're not careful, I will introduce a Rory McEnroe and he will be a dwarf, because Rory is a classically Scottish name and... I don't know where I am going with this." - Leaving everyone else confused.

Breanna picks out a crossbow and shortswordat Harold’s recommendation, while Maebh heads off on her own and takes in the sights. Plenty of exotic materials, jewellery, foodstuffs and other miscellaneous items. And then she sees a merchant selling eggs.
“Question. Why is he selling eggs?” – Opal.
“None of your flipping business! Heeeey!?” – LD, trying to rouse some appreciation.
“Nooo.” – All, with sniggering.
“You do need to look at things sunny side up….” – Opal, trying her luck.
“Noooooo.” – All, again.
“I win this round!” – LD, gleeful.
“I’ve told you all before, no poaching my jokes.” – Sins, quietly.
“You…. You are the king.” – Ladyhawk, to Sins who nods graciously.
“I’m feeling pretty ashamed now.” – LD.
“Why? For the pun or because you lost?” – Dev.
“Because I lost.” – LD.
“You could say, she’s a bit cracked up about it…” – To groans of disgust.

One of the eggs on this man’s stall is around the size of Maebh’s fist which appears to be made of stone, but the merchant assures Maebh that there is a living creature inside.
“This is an exceptionally rare creature, one that you do not readily find in the shell. I suggest thirty sulvers?” – Merchant, rubbing his hands together.
“That sounds reasonable…” – Maebh, thoughtful.
“Hold on, hold on, we can do better than that.” – Tremor, who had caught up to the mage.
Tremor takes a closer look at the egg, and is astounded by what he notices. Not only is the man telling the truth about the legitimacy of the egg, but it is likely even more valuable than the merchant realises. What’s more, Tremor can determine what the egg holds, recognising the egg from illustrations he had seen in his youth.
“You do not run into too many dragains, even in this trade now do you?” – Dev, getting ahead of himself.
“It… is not a dragain.” – To groans.
“God damn it!” – Ladyhawk.
“It is… a mantikor.”
“I want it.” – Ladyhawk.

Maebh hands over the money for the mantikor egg, and then purchases some furs to keep the egg wrapped in to keep it warm on their sea voyage.

Tremor sees a shard of a bright green gemstone on the stall of a merchant selling precious gems and manages to haggles him down to three coppers. The Dwergar does not divulge to the merchant that he recognises the stone as one that held the eldritch life of the deadwolves of Dreven, but pockets the stone as soon as the money changes hands.

He then joins the other companions for dinner at a seaside eating establishment. And they enjoy their meal thoroughly.

* * *

The next morning sees the companions loading their horses onto one of the lower decks of the caravel, Winter Wind. Toirneach goes on far more willingly than Amadeus and Augustus, though this is hardly Augustus’ first sea voyage. Captain Burgundy approaches the companions as Therressa moves to help the crew put Augustus aboard.
“We shall be making sail soon. If you could see fit to just make yourselves useful, that would be much appreciated.” – Burgundy, donning his wide-brimmed, feathered and spiffy hat.
“If anyone has an injury, feel free to send them my way. I can stitch wounds and set broken bones.” – Kel’Serrar.
“That would be great.” – Burgundy, sweeping an arm toward the gangplank to invite them aboard.

The initial month of the voyage is not only uneventful, but almost pleasant. The crew swiftly take to the companions, particularly Harold and Therressa who do more than their fair share of physical labour onboard, and Kel’Serrar, who proves his worth when a freak accident caused a man to fall from the mast. The man’s arm was broken in the fall, but all are confident he will make a full recovery thanks to the ranger’s swift treatment.

The second month however is less cheerful. The closer the ship gets to Unterguardt, the worse the weather gets. It is cold, it is windy and the rain is just torrential. Even during the day, the sky is black and Maebh keeps a massive ball of light aethyrically tethered to the prow of Winter Wind at all times. Despite how useful this is, much of the blame for the absolutely foul weather is directed at her and her magic, which it is believed has offended some powerful denizen of the deep.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
[/color]

“I have been through many a winter storm, and this is blatantly ridiculous.” – Captain Burgundy.
“I just love hearing him say his name.” – Sins, laughing.
“I would love to be powerful enough to call up a storm of this magnitude, but it would not be in our interests to cause this.” – Kel’Serrar, pointedly.
They debate the merits of either talking the captain down or devolving into full-fledged mutiny.
“The lowest levels of hell are reserved for mutineers and traitors.” – Dev.
“I have been through many a sea-storm myself, and my gods have never let me drown.” – Harold, pulling his medallion out and showing the captain the image of the Invarrian god of the sea.
“I guess all we can do is keep praying then.” – Captain Burgundy, who then stalks past the companions, including Maebh who is concentrating intently on her tethered ball of light.

Despite their prayers, the weather gets worse. Visibility, despite Maebh’s torch, becomes a serious problem due the sheer amount of rain and wind lashing the vessel. When it is not raining, it is snowing and even the swell on the open water is half-frozen. The companions are all grateful for their warmer clothing, but it is not long before they are sodden and chilled to the bone. At some point Maebh gets thoroughly angered at the ice falling from the sky and wrenches her magic into a glowing shield above the ship. It doesn’t prevent all the rain, ice and snow from falling on the ship, but it does stop that coming from directly above, making the weather a little more bearable.

“So while they’re freezing their butts off, Harold and I are just like, ‘It’s a bit chilly out?’ right?” – Opal.
“No, I think we’re freezing our tails off too.” – Dev, laughing.
“Yep, you guys are freezing your tails off. The rest of you mob,” – Sweeping my arm around the table to encompass the rest of the party, “Are almost catatonic. If they’re not, they’re playing marbles with bits of their fingers which have fallen off.”

Maebh’s magic makes conditions just a little bit better. It is still bitterly cold, but at least the crew can see and stand on the top deck without being driven into cover by the piercing rain and ice. As an aside, Kel’Serrar was kept busy, stitching up lacerations from the falling shards of ice.

* * *

It has been over two months since the Winter Wind left Beachead when a battered caravel crawls into the port of Urik’s Landing in the early evening. It is a wonder that the ship was not run aground when making port, but thanks to Harold, Therressa and the good Captain Burgundy, the crew are able to bring the ship in without any major damage.

Urik’s Landing is a small town on the southern coast of Unterguardt in the kingdom of Southreach. All that can be seen from the ship is two vague rows of wooden longhouses. Despite the weather, which has barely relented, there would appear to be a substantial dockside brawl erupting on the pier, right in front of the companions.

EDIT*
Spoiler: Urik's Landing Mudmap (click to show/hide)

Having been cooped up onboard ship for so long, many of the companions are looking for an outlet for their violent tendencies.
“A brawl?” – Ladyhawk.
“Essentially, it’s a public brawl, so you guys can just weigh in and hit people. You have free reign to whale on people to your heart’s content.”
“Yes!” – Wings.
“Oh **** yeah!” – Ladyhawk, to laughter.
“Dwarf-tossing!” – Wings.
“Can I toss the dwarf in?” – Dev, rolling dice.
“I want to be tossed!” – Wings, bellowing in rage. It was actually kind of terrifying.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

“Am I able to draw a weapon?” – LD.
“Well, they’re all unarmed at the moment, so it would be a bit unfair.”
“Right, but I’m a possum. Oh hang on, I’m a possum with a higher Strength than the dogman pirate viking. I’ll be right. Can I fly-kick people in the face?” – LD.[/color]

Harold grabs Tremor and throws him into the brawl, the Dwergar roaring his anger. Breanna practically flies off the ship and kicks a man in the face, rolling into the shadows. Maebh vaults over the side of the ship and starts to put people down with her spear, deliberately not using the head of her spear, just the shaft to crack legs and heads. Tremor, having picked himself up off the ground, walks up to the first man, kicks him violently in the shin, headbutts him as he falls forward and then walks away to his next victim like the short hairy badass he is.
“I have three actions. I want to kick, headbutt and walk away.” – Wings, distilling Tremor’s fighting style into a simple three pieces.
Kel’Serrar also leaves the ship, but skirts the brawl. One man does run towards him, but the ranger coolly steps aside and clotheslines him, laying him out on the floor. He’s after an inn, someplace warm and dry to rest after a trying voyage.

Another man is running towards Maebh, unaware that Breanna is right in front of him. She slides between his legs, leaps up behind him and then delivers a sharp blow to the back of the head.
“I just realised that this brawl is being fought by people punching in mittens.” – Sins.
“Essentially, you guys are just big furballs. Especially Tremor.”
“I am Breanna, the fluffy destroyer of worlds! I am fluff! I AM DEATH!” – LD, to hysterics.

Maebh continues to lay people out with her spear, cutting through men like a blunt scythe.

Therressa meanwhile just sits on the side of the ship with a pilfered wineskin, laughing at the carnage. After some time, she gets down and sorts through the belongings and smallchange of some unconscious brawlers.

Tremor puts down another man with brutal prejudice, before squatting in the mud to steal his money. Because, why would he pass up on cash?

Harold on the other hand makes himself useful and collects their animals from the ship’s hold. He emerges from the depths of the ship leading three horses and two wolves. In the time he was below-decks, the brawl has come to a halt due to the tender attentions of his companions.
“Did I win?” – Ladyhawk.
“Oh yes. Not even a single scratch or bruise.”
“Awesome.” – Ladyhawk.

Kel’Serrar swiftly determines that there are two taverns in Urik’s Landing. And that’s where things become more difficult. The families who own these taverns hate each other, for reasons which are lost to the depths of history, and the rumours of which do not bear much contemplation.

One way or the other, the companions must get into one inn or another, because it is just so cold outside.
“These two families… They wouldn’t happen to be called the Blackmanes and the… Battle-Birthed?” – Ladyhawk, laughing.
“It was Greymane and Battle-Born by the way.” – Dev, rolling his eyes.
“She knows, she’s just changing the names slightly because that’s what I do. And you know what? Fine, that’s their names.”
“If you have names already, use them instead. I was just… taking the piss I guess.” – Ladyhawk, laughing.
“Well I did have one, the Irontusks.”
“Oh that’s cool. Use that one.” – Ladyhawk, to general agreement.
“So we have decided the family names by democracy.”

More coming soon....
And we're back. :smallsmile:

The inns are run by the Irontusk and Blackmane families, and they literally face each other across the main road of the Landing.
“So McDonalds and Hungry Jacks?” – Opal.
“Yeah pretty much, but more swords, axes, blood-“
“Efficiency…” – Sins.
“Similar number of rats though…”
“So who supports the Stormcloaks? Sorry, I’ll be quiet now.” – Ladyhawk, laughing.

The Irontusk Inn looks marginally larger and nicer, but the Blackmanes have a larger and a better kept stable. Whatever inn they pick, they will not be welcome in the other.
“Well then we know what we’ll pick. I’ll go the ****ty one, because the other might look nicer but this one has better food.” – Wings.
There is silence for a moment, before…
“I said better stable mate, not a better kitchen.”
“Better steaks right?” – LD, thoughtful.

“Captain Burgundy.” – Harold, who passes the man on the street. “Which inn do you recommend?”
The Captain looks troubled and glances around to see if there are any unwelcome ears nearby.
“Well I have never set foot inside the Blackmane Inn, but I have stayed in the Irontusk Inn and it is very pleasant. Of course, I will likely never see the inside of the Blackmane Inn, for I would surely be killed if I tried.” – Captain Burgundy, quietly.
“How do they know? Do they sit outside and watch who enters the other inn?” – Therressa, scoffing.
“Indeed, each inn has employees who stand in that booth out there, see it?” – Captain Burgundy, pointing to a little shelter just off to the side of the Blackmane Inn’s porch, and then to a similar booth on the other side of the road outside the Irontusk Inn.
“The man within records the name if known, or a detailed description if not, of everyone who ventures into the other establishment. These taverns are not so much taverns, but cults.” – Captain Burgundy.
“I say screw the taverns, we’re hardened campaigners. We can sleep out here.” – Maebh, belligerent.
“You think it is cold now lass, it is nothing compared to the chill of the northern nights. We need shelter.” – Harold, shaking his head.
“Well then, I want to find out more.” – Maebh, stalking over to the Blackmane lookout post.

“Excuse me, I just wanted to get some information.” – Maebh, to the lookout, who frantically writes down a note on his ledger before snapping the book shut.
“What can I help you with?” – Blackmane lookout, in a thick northern accent.
“What started this feud?” – Maebh, blunt.
“Well, to be honest I don’t know, it happened so long ago. Most stories say that the scion of the Blackmanes had relations with the daughter of the Irontusk family many years ago. The Blackmanes say that the match was arranged and the loved each other, the Irontusks that she was abducted and held against her will. Whether that story is true or not, and even then, who is at fault, we cannot know. All we can do is choose a side and live with the undying hatred of the other family.” – Blackmane lookout.
“Well you have been completely unhelpful. I’ll stay here then.” – Maebh, beckoning the companions up to the lookout post.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The animals are stabled outside the Blackmane Inn and the companions sign the admittance ledger, with varying degrees of grudging recalcitrance. In the end, the whole party signs, but no illusions are made to the fact that as of entering, if they now set foot on Irontusk property they can and possibly will be killed on sight.

“Let’s do it! And steal their alcohol?” – Wings, laughing.

The Blackmane Inn is very well-furnished and quite pleasant. Plenty of portraits and other paintings adorn the walls, with information regarding the history of the town. The interior is far nicer looking than the exterior, which is easily explained by the fact that Urik’s Landing is, at the moment at least, a windy, rainy, icy hellhole.
“But it’s my hole.” – Wings.
Simply for choosing them over the Irontusks, the Blackmanes provide a free meal to their newest clientele.
“Sweet!” – Most of the party.
“I’m starting to think something’s not quite right here. We’ll go out to the stables in the morning and find that we have eaten our horses at dinner or something.” – Opal.
“If that happens, I’m murdering the whole town.” – Ladyhawk.
“Maebh has a mental link with her horse anyway. As soon as something was up, she would be aware of it.”
“Right, but Therressa wouldn’t know about Augustus.” – Opal.
“Toirneach’s pretty clever. He’d let Maebh know as soon as anything weird happened.” – Ladyhawk.
“Aww, are they friends?” – Opal.
“He thinks Augustus is alright.” – Ladyhawk, laughing.
“Guys, we have better things to think about than a horse bromance!” – LD.

The innkeeper turns out to be willing to supply the companions with as much alcohol as they can stomach. Except Tremor. The man couldn’t afford to part with that much.

“This weather is really bad, even for our winters.” – Blackmane Innkeeper, a patchy brown-furred Invarrian.
“How old is this town?” – Harold, at the bar.
“Around 150 years old. Urik was an Invarrian, much like ourselves. He was looking for new lands, was blown wildly off course and had to put in on the south coast. The original town was made by Invarrians, but it has since been recolonised by Northmenn and other peoples.” – Blackmane Innkeeper, whose name is Alrik.
“And who rules here?” – Tremor, he too sitting and drinking at the bar.
“That would be Theyne Embermald, sworn sword to Jarl Sidgrun of Southreach. He lives in the hall atop the hill on the eastern edge of the town. You can’t miss it. He’s got some problems to the north too, your kind up in Nordtarnet.” – Alrik, polishing a tankard and looking pointedly at Tremor.
The Dwergar just grunts and keeps drinking.
“Is there anywhere we can buy a cart and, a mule perhaps, some kind of pack animal?” – Maebh, cradling her mead.
“I’m sure you could a farmer around here willing to part with a cart and beast. It is a hard task trying to eke out a living from the soil around here, but there are those brave or foolhardy enough to try it. Old Man Hays might be able to help you, just north of the town and right at the second signpost and you’re on his land.” –Alrik, trying to be helpful.

The companions finish their drinks and their meals and then head off to sleep, unfurling sleeping rolls and bedding down in two well-furnished rooms on the second floor of the establishment, save Tremor who falls asleep at his table drawing and drinking into the night.

* * *

The next morning, the companions take a table in the common room and are served breakfast, a hearty meal of steak, bread, bacon and eggs. The friendly innkeeper, Alrik, sits with them for a while, sharing information.
"The Landing is not exactly a safe place to be at the moment my friends." - The Invarrian, in a low voice.
The companions lean into the centre of the table to hear him better.
"Please, tell us more." - Harold, tucking into his bacon.
"Well to the north lies Nordtarnet, which was not exactly a problem until quite recently. The place was a hill-fort basically, on the border of Borsa and Rivervind. That was until Bain Ironfist took over. They say he murdered his father, the old lord and was behind the exile of his older brother. Since then, the lands south of the Blackspine have gone mad. Nordtarnet is now an impregnable fortress, or so the scouts say. Those as make it back anyway, and they are few enough. Southreach's northernmost village lies on the other side of the Iceflow, the river which divides the lands of Nordtarnet and Southreach. As you can imagine, the more Bain Ironfist expands his territory, the more lords he manages to bring under his sway." - Alrik.
“Why would he want to come south? This is hardly prime farming land.” – Harold.
“Well, meaning no disrespect to your kind master dwarf, but the Dwergar are viciously ambitious little bastards as a rule. And the more Ironfist has under his control, the more they will want to stake their claim on everything they can.” – Alrik, to a fair bit of laughter. Even Tremor cracks a smile.
“That’s hardly all there is going on here either. We’ve had other issues of late. The farmers in the outlying hamlets claim that a ferocious beast is roaming the marshes and killing their livestock at night. And then within the town itself, someone has been killing girls on the street. No one ventures out at night anymore.” – Alrik.
“There’s a serial killer in town.”
“No, there are six of us.” – Opal.
“Definitely not you guys.”
“We have time to solve that. Give us a night and there’ll be seven serial killers in this town. Give us another night and we’ll be down to six.” – Sins.
“That sounds quite familiar.” – Breanna, thoughtful.“The last victim was actually a serving girl from this very inn. We’re still looking for someone to replace her. I told her she should have stayed here the night, but the girl was always wilful. They found her in the morning, cut in half on the side of the main street.” – Alrik.
“Have there been killings from both sides of the feud?” – Sins, fishing for leads.
“Aye, there have. All girls though. Well, women at least, and Midlanders or Northmenn as a rule. I’d best start serving the other clients. It is a poor innkeep who neglects his guests to eat his own breakfast.” – Alrik, taking another rasher of bacon, smiling and then leaving to serve other tables.

“I have news of mine own which I must share. The Resistance hides in the Blackspine, the mountains north of Nordtarnet. They are dangerous, but there are those who know them well.” – Barandin Stonefist, sitting next to Tremor and addressing the companions in a hushed voice.
He takes out a map of Nordtarnet, drawn and labelled in his own hand.
“I will travel on ahead and alert them to your imminent arrival. The sooner we get you an army cousin, the sooner we get you back on your throne.” – Barandin, nodding to Tremor.
“Do we need them?” – Maebh, thinking her haunch of steak is overcooked. She would have preferred it to have still been alive when served on the table.
“My brother is a dangerous foe. We’ll likely need all the help we can get.” – Tremor, downcast.
“Aye. So I will leave for the north as soon as the rain lets up and hope I can find a contact. It will, like as not, take me several days to find anyone. If you do not hear from me in ten days, assume I am dead or captured and follow your own plans. Do not tell me of them though, for if I am captured I cannot betray your secrets if I do not know them.” – Barandin, helping himself to another tankard of ale.

A discussion on the relationship between Tremor and Barandin:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The companions spend most of the day in the Blackmane Inn, enjoying the hospitality provided and acquainting themselves with the townsfolk. Very few townsfolk do enter the inn however, the driving rain enough to deter all but the most religious of drinkers. The day is quiet and uneventful, and most of the companions spend their time reading, eating, drinking and chatting, whiling the hours away.
 
Tremor’s nightmares have lessened in intensity, aided in part by the excessive alcohol consumption during his waking hours and the fact that by the time he passes out in the evening he is so utterly exhausted that the dreams have little to no hold on him. Despite that, he awakens with the same images of the burning pine and the female voice in his head. He can only make out snatches of words and phrases, but he has heard them often enough that they stick in his mind, and even in the day, his head rings until he drowns it out with the alcohol once more.
“Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up….. The dead…. Arise….. Rise now…. AWAKEN!” – Mysterious voice.

* * *

Barandin leaves at dawn, the rain having lessened enough to allow him to buy a pony and be on his way. The companions see him off in the privacy of their own rooms, not wishing to draw attention to his departure. It is still raining, cold and grey, but at least the rain and snow has lessened and the gale-force winds have died considerably. It is bearable, but hardly pleasant.

“Okay, I want to solve these murder mysteries.” – Ladyhawk.
“Monster hunt!” – Dev.
“Why can’t we do both?” – Wings, like the little girl from the Old El Paso advertisements.
“All in favour of monster hunt?”
Dev, Wings and LD raise their hands.
“All in favour of murder mystery?”
Ladyhawk, Sins, Opal and Wings raise their hands.
“Did you just vote twice?” – Dev.
“Don’t tell me how to vote!” – Wings, laughing.
“All in favour of starting an all out war between the two pubs?” – Opal.
“AYE!” – The deafening response.
“See this? This is why we can’t have nice things.” – LD, laughing.
“See we have had Corpsewalkers and undead wolves and undead kings and… That’s a lot of undead… Anyway, my point is, can’t we just avoid the supernatural stuff for once?” – Ladyhawk.
“Unless the serial killer is some kind of sorcerous cyclopes or something. In which case, well, bugger.” – LD.

Talking with Alrik provides some more information regarding the murders too. The companions are once again seated at a table with Alrik, this time over a warm lunch and cold drinks.
“Basically, women on the streets after dusk are getting ripped apart.” – Alrik.
“Any commonalities between women?” – Harold.
“Yes, all between 20-45ish really. And as I said before, generally Midlanders and Northmenn women.” – Alrik.
“So, they are prostitutes.” – Breanna, which draws frowns from most of the people in the conversation.
“Parts of the bodies have been missing too, though what has been missing from each victim tends to be unique. The latest, as you know, was split in half vertically. I do not know what kind of blade could have made such a cut though.” – Alrik.
“Is there a doktor in this town?” – Harold, fishing for information.
“Yes, Doktor Jurdric. He is very good, though quite old. The only doktor worth a damn for many miles. Why do you ask?” – Alrik, curious.
“Just wondering. Any doktors not worth a damn?” – Harold.
“Well, two I guess. Old Jurdric’s apprentices, his son Endric and the hired hand, Welyn. I don’t quite see what this has to do with anything though.” – Alrik.
“I call it’s one of the apprentices!” – Dev.“What parts have been stolen?” – Tremor.
“Well it varies from girl to girl. One poor lass was missing only the skin from her face, flayed perfectly. No other mark on her by the way, just her face missing, from ear to ear. Others have been split open and organs missing, though what exactly was taken I could not say. Three girls have been missing limbs too, one her legs and two others their arms.” – Alrik.
“So the one missing her face, was she the first?” – Tremor.
“No, the third. There was not much found of the first lass.” – Alrik.

“Someone’s trying to make a golem.” – Opal.
“Or the perfect girl…” – Ladyhawk.
“That’s… That’s gross.” – Dev.

Harold points at a map of Urik’s Landing on the wall.
“Could you just quickly point out to me where these bodies have been found?” – Harold, to Alrik.
“I’ll do you one better…” – Alrik, who stands up and retrieves the map from the wall. He fetches a stick of charcoal from his pocket too and starts to mark crosses on the map.
“Now this map is a little out of date as it shows what the Landing looked like a good fifty years ago and the town has grown since then, but you should still be able to figure it all out.” – Alrik, marking the map.
When he is done, there are a score of crosses marked on the map, up and down the main street which runs through the Landing from the dock.
“There, you may keep that.” – Alrik, sliding the map to Harold, who nods his thanks.
“Strange that no one should see these events taking place, even if it is at night. The main street is a strange place for murder.” – Harold, thoughtful.
“Well you saw the ****storm that’s been out there these last few days. No wonder no one saw a murder, we could barely see the town when we arrived.” – Therressa, making a good point.
“You’re right lass, save that the storm has been wracking the town for, say, the past two weeks? These murders have been taking place for over a month. If anything, they have lessened in frequency since the storm began in earnest.” – Alrik.
“A month… How long has doktor Jurdric been living in Urik’s Landing?” – Harold, questioning.
“Over forty years my friend.” – Alrik.
“Hmm, very interesting… How about the apprentices?” – Harold.
“Well Endric was born here, some seventeen years ago. Welyn however, well… I guess he arrived not long before the murders began.” – Alrik.
“Any history of mental instability in the doktor’s family?” – Therressa.
“None to my knowledge. The doktor and his son are, by all accounts, some of the kindest people you would ever meet. The doktor is like a father to many of the folk here. He is quite old now though, and with the weather being the way it is, he has gotten rather crotchety, but, well…” – Alrik, trailing off unhappily.
“That’s just old age, yes… Any others arrived in the last few months? Other than us of course.” – Harold, kindly.
“Well, none as have stayed around. A mercenary band from the far south before the storm broke and a merchant caravan the week before, but other than that, no. We do not get many visitors out here. Oh, a party of Dwergar from the north too as emissaries, a few months back, but they were not here long, they just wanted passage to the capital.” – Alrik.
The Invarrian innkeep gets up to leave and then turns back.
“One last thing I forgot. These bodies, where they are found, there are no signs of struggle. No blood, save that which pools beneath the bodies and freezes in the snow. It is quite strange. The one thing to be grateful for is that whoever it is has not started breaking into houses to do his bloodwork.” – Alrik, giving a friendly nod before leaving to serve other clients.

“Well then, that was grim. I’m going to go see Bach. I haven’t seen him since we arrived.” – Harold, preparing to take his leave.
“I think I might check out where some of these bodies have been found. May I borrow that map?” – Therressa, to Harold, who slides the map across the table to her.
“I think someone needs to go talk to these doktors.” – Kel’Serrar, grimly.

Maebh, Tremor and Therressa
In the end, Maebh, Tremor and Therressa head to the site of the first murder, which has naturally been disturbed since the victim was found.
Successful Channelling Check from Maebh.
To Maebh’s keen eyes, the wisps of magic which still permeate the ground are barely visible, but even the small traces left are enough to determine for what purpose they were cast. The spell is one of preservation, and it stinks of daemonic energy.
“There was a very dark magic at play here.” – Maebh, in a low voice.
Therressa kneels on the ground and starts to sniff, but she comes up with nothing, the cold so bitter her nose starts to hurt and she needs to sneeze. But after doing so, so close to the ground she can see almost a shadow beneath the layer of snow, and starts to dig, unearthing a simple round iron medallion on a chain, engraved with the symbol of a dagger. She too can smell the magic, but it smells like Breanna’s backpack, not wholesome at all.

Harold, Breanna and Kel’Serrar
After collecting Bach, Harold, Breanna and Kel’Serrar go to the good doktor’s surgery, a small wooden building on an alley off the main street.
“Is there a police force here?” – Dev.
“No there isn’t-“
“Guards?” – Dev.
“No, it’s vigilante justice all the way.”
“Lynch-mobs!” – Sins, gleefully.
“Essentially, if you have a problem, you go kill it yourself. If you can’t kill it yourself, maybe it’s not such a big problem after all.”
“So how does the ruler keep them in line?” – Dev.
“The theyne rules by dint of being the biggest badass in the town. Whenever a bigger badass comes along, there’s a challenge and the winner is the new theyne. The current theyne defeated his father in an honour duel when he came of age. Upon winning, he let his father, who he loved quite dearly, live out his days in comfort. Usually though, the loser dies. Being a patricide is actually seen as a mark of honour amongst the Northmenn, provided it was done openly with honour.”
“Wow. So hang on, the biggest badass rules, right? So I could take over the town?” – Ladyhawk.
“Well there’s a reason this guy is still the theyne. He is a serious hardass.”
“So… I could take over the town?” – Ladyhawk, to laughter.
“Well he’s a massive man, at least eight foot tall, clad in the ancestral armour of his family and armed with one of the largest greataxes you will likely ever see. You want to give it a try, go ahead.”
“Right, but could he survive a lightning bolt to the face?” – Ladyhawk.
“Only one way to find out really, but he is a reasonably influential noble from a long line of men who held their title through violence, in a land where you need to kill anyone who decides they can take you. He has money, power and influence, so there’s a good chance that he would have magical defences too.”
“Well that’s bull****. You just don’t want me to take over the town.” – Ladyhawk.

Upon knocking on the door, it is opened by one of the apprentices, a Northmann with sandy blonde hair.
“Well met strangers. Do you have an appointment?” – Young apprentice, who is slightly taller than Harold. It is rather disconcerting for all three of the companions.
“Ah no, but I would like a check-up please. At my age, it’s a good idea and I’ve had some wounds recently which I would like to get checked over.” – Harold, mixing business with practicality.
So the companions are let into the surgery and they look around, Kel’Serrar and Breanna left in the waiting room while Harold is looked over by the outlander, Welyn while the old doktor Jurdic overlooks the proceedings. The procedure goes well, though Kel’Serrar had already done a good job of making sure the party’s various injuries do not fester. They don’t even charge the old raider for their services as his scrapes and such are far removed from their usual fare, which consists of cauterising missing appendages and binding hands missing fingers due to frostbite, misused farming implements or hungry farm-dogs.

* * *

The companions meet up once more at the Blackmane Inn for dinner to discuss the day’s events.

And we left it there…

The Wrap-Up:
All in all, a pretty good session I felt. We did plan on running two sessions that weekend, but sadly did not exactly do so, instead playing the first session of Dev’s Whispers in the Dark, which will be coming soon. (To a store near you!)

I did ask for some homework in the last week, trying to get some detail on the actual clothing the party has in their possession. Some gave more detail than others, but all of them got back to me within the week, which was a pleasant change. I think offering real-life rewards along with the in-game ones may have been part of it.

The next session will hopefully see a resolution of sorts to the murder mysteries, along with the monster hunt. I am certainly looking forward to it.

The next session is scheduled for the 21st of March, which makes it the last session before my birthday. That’ll be nice. We hope to have a steady schedule this year due to the issues last year with organising game days. We’re hoping for a rate of once a month. Hopefully that might keep everyone reasonably well-acquainted with the game system. I can hope, right?

As usual, if you enjoyed this write-up, please comment. We do crave the attention of our peers. Any questions, feel free to post them on the thread too. I’m more than happy to discuss the setting with you.

That’s all for now,
Cheers and thanks for reading,

Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:17:29 AM
Session 4.2: Dark Places and Reality Hopping

The roaring fireplace gives the room a soft glow, illuminating it for a family of Invarrians sitting upon the rich furs on the floor. One black-furred and fully grown male, holds a black and white youngster, barely three years old while the other adult, a black and white female struggles with the other three pups, trying to get them under the blanket.

"Hush now pups, and I will tell you about the feared Odon the Black." - Haelfa Oakenshield, to her children whilst settling them down for bed.
"I don't want to hear about Odon, Ma. Tell us about Olorin Shipbreaker instead!" - Hosker Oakenshield.
"No, we head about him last night! Tell us about Manda Silvertongue!" - Helga Oakenshield, lightly batting at her brother's head.
"Come now children, you need to take what you are given. Your mother has offered to tell you a story of Odon the Black. Come listen with me and Harold..." - Hendrik Oakenshield, holding a young Harold Oakenshield tightly...


Welcome to Session 4.2

“Hello, you lost The Game!” – LD.
For posterity, we played Dorito Roulette and it was outstanding, awesome, really good value, hilarious and such a good idea. Only Sins was unimpressed. I was the first to get a spicy one, and it did screw me up for the rest of the day.

We did lose Opal for this session as she had family issues to deal with, but we hope that she will slot back in neatly over the next session or two. To explain this, Therressa has taken off to deliver a reply from Harold to his sister, Helga on Varr.

We left our intrepid heroes at the Blackmane Inn where they discussed their next moves regarding the murders plaguing Urik’s Landing.
“Didn’t we choose this mission because we were sick of dealing with dark magic? And what do we find? Supernatural killings. Damn it guys!” – Sins.
It is early evening and the companions have just finished having dinner.


“Well, we went to where they found the first body and we didn’t find much. We did find this amulet and there are traces of a preserving spell.” – Maebh, to the group. Breanna puts the iron amulet down in the centre of the table for everyone to see.

Therressa had left the iron amulet found in the snow where a body had been left, with Breanna before departing the Landing, and so the Leathe and Maebh study it together to see if they can find out anything important. Unfortunately, they don’t turn up anything more than what they already saw earlier. The amulet itself is mundane in nature, however it was certainly in the vicinity of the preservation spell which was likely cast on the corpse.

As soon as he sees it however, Tremor snatches it away. It seems like only an instant to everyone else at the table, but to Tremor it feels like an eternity as he stares at the dagger etched into the iron pendant.
“This is a thing of evil. You will be familiar with it soon.” – Haunting female voice…
Tremor gets the feeling that the amulet itself is not what she is referring to, but the magic which sits in a web around the iron.

It is far too cold outside, so they decide not to do anything until the next day and they retreat to their rooms for the rest of the night.

* * *

The morning arrives and the weather has cleared substantially. It is still very cold and grey, but it is no longer death weather, as Ladyhawk put so well.

Most of the companions go to Jurdric’s practise, save for Harold who instead goes to Theyne Embermald’s long hall.

Maebh, Tremor, Kel’Serrar and Breanna:
Tremor knocks on the door to the surgery and it is opened by Endric, Doktor Jurdric’s son.
“And what can we do for you today?” – Endric, towering over all four companions. He cannot recognise Kel’Serrar, who has picked a random man of the crew of the Winter Wind to look like today, the better to blend into the townsfolk.
“We would like to inspect the most recent murder victim.” – Maebh, blunt.
“Are you the godsfolk? To take her down to the sea?” – Endric, sceptical.
“No, we are not.” – Tremor, gruff.
“No? Then why are you here to bother the dead?” – Endric, arms crossed.
“We want to examine her to find the killer.” – Maebh.
“I don’t know what kind of heathen traditions you hold to in the south, but we do not do that here. Unless you are here for treatment, clear off.” – Endric.
“I’ll take him out at the kneecaps.” – Wings.
“Looks like a job for the possum.” – LD.
“If you want the killer to be found before he kills more people, you will let us see the body.” – Maebh, with a dangerous gleam in her eye.
Endric gives them a worried look, which grows steadily more concerned as Maebh’s hands start to crackle with power.
“Fine, come on through. Just don’t burn anything.” – Endric, holding the door open.

The body of the girl is laid out upon a stone table. And she is a mess.

Harold:
Harold Oakenshield inspects each of the murder sites marked on his map. The Invarrian’s powerful nose can pick up the scent of dark magic, but that is just about all he can find. There would appear to be no blood splatters or any signs of struggle in the vicinity of where the bodies were found, which is in keeping with the information they already had.

Unfortunately, Harold is disadvantaged by the fact that the most recent murder was still several nights ago and there has been a lot of wind and snow since the body was moved.

He moves on to Lordshall on the hill to the north-east of the town, thinking to examine the theyne’s personal archive to find any information he can on serial killers in the town’s history.

Maebh, Tremor, Kel’Serrar and Breanna:
The companions start to closely examine the corpse on the stone table. Within moments, they have all uncovered some startling information. Kel’Serrar is able to determine that the magic which permeates the girl’s flesh is preserving in nature, while Breanna recognises that the daemonic energy used to power the spell had an affinity to ice.

Most troubling is Maebh's discovery.
"Whoever did this is formally trained in the arcane." - Maebh, grim.
"Hmm, so a warlock with formal training. There are very few places where one can get training in the black arts, so there's a good chance this person is more than just an amateur warlock. He could be a mage too." - Breanna, arms crossed.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The poor girl has been cut from clavicle to navel and her ribcage removed from the body, seemingly without disturbing the rest of the body. It's quite astounding really and great care was taken not to damage anything.

Doktor Jurdric walks in, followed by his apprentice, Welyn, a much shorter, dark-haired man, obviously a Midlander.
"What in all the hells are you doing in here?" - Jurdric, of the companions as soon as his rheumy eyes fall upon them.
"Examining the body." - Maebh, coolly.
"It's okay father, I allowed them in." - Endric, laying a calming hand on his father's shoulder. The old doktor throws the hand off and grumbles about their presence, but says nothing further to them. Welyn approaches the table.
"So, what have you found?" - Welyn, hopeful.
"That's none of your concern." - Maebh.
"I've been trying to piece it all together myself actually. If you tell me what you've found I will share my notes on the other bodies with you. It's the only way you'll find out about them, as they're all at the bottom of the ocean now." - Welyn, helpfully.
"Okay, then. Let's talk." - Tremor.

The companions thank Endric for his time and leave, Welyn leading them to his accommodation.

Harold:
Approaching Lordshall, Harold is stopped at the top of the stairs by a doorward, a large man clad in heavy leathers and a thick wool and fur cloak. A massive roundshield strapped over his shoulder and a hand on the broadsword at his belt, the doorward is an imposing sight, but Harold has dealt with his kind before.

"Halt! What business does a reaver have in the halls of Southreach royalty?" - Doorward, challenging.
"Does not an Invarrian rule from this hall? Would he not see a kinsman?" - Harold.
"No, the theyne is a Northmann, of one of the purest bloodlines in Unterguardt, not a mere salt-drenched sea-wolf." - Doorward, derisive.
"And neither am I. I am a man of wisdom seeking new knowledge in your lord's hall. I wish to consult his archives." - Harold, lying about not being a salt-drenched sea-wolf. But his motive was honest.
"So you're book-learned?" - Doorward, that derisive tone not leaving his voice.
"Aye, that I am." - Harold.

The Invarrian is shown inside and into the theyne's archive, a large underground room lit only by a single closed lantern on a lonely desk. The theyne's book-keeper is a friendly old man, his grey eyes sunken deep into his skull and his hair long since having abandoned his skull. Despite his friendliness, the book-keeper passes on a grave warning.
"The theyne is not a man of great learning but he treasures his archive. Damage anything and you will pay. And if you cannot pay, you will die." - Book-keeper, patting Harold conciliatorily on the arm.
The Invarrian had seen the massive theyne holding court in the hall as he passed through to the archive, and even from a distance and at rest, the man looked capable of crushing a marcwolf's skull with his bare hands.

"Hey PG, what is the symbol for the doctor here?" - Wings, out of nowhere.
"Uh... an... anchor. Yeah, an anchor."
"Well that doesn't make any less sense than, you know, a snake coiled around a staff or something." - Dev.
"You see, it is seen that those who practise medicine and see to your ailments and illnesses and injuries and the like are your anchor to life itself."
"Well done PG. Wonderful use of improv." - Sins.
"Damn I'm good!" - Laughing, and quoting Ace Ventura.

Maebh, Tremor, Kel’Serrar and Breanna:
It quickly becomes apparent that Welyn is leading the companions to the Irontusk Inn, which naturally the companions cannot enter on pain of death.

Well, Kel'Serrar could easily do so by just taking another identity, which he has practically been doing none stop since he manifested the ability to do so.

And Breanna probably could by a combination of climbing, vaulting and sneaking.

And Tremor could potentially dig a tunnel which came up directly under Welyn's room within the next day.

And Maebh could still set the whole place on fire, teach them a valuable lesson about angering mages with meaningless feuds and damn the consequences.

But none of them do as such, instead having Welyn go in and collect the notes by himself and bring them out to neutral ground.

How's that, the players turned down an opportunity to murder-hobo in a town. Who says PC's can't change their ways?

Upon returning with a selection of notebooks, the companions get a special dispensation from Alrik, the Blackmane barkeep, to allow Welyn to come in an sit in the common room, without need to fear for his personal safety. Alrik agrees, but refuses to serve the man, which Welyn wearily agrees to.

Breanna tells the apprentice doktor of what they found out about the girl, while her other companions pore over Welyn's books. He started his investigations immediately after the first girl was killed. She was an outlander, much like him so his fear at the time was that he was next. The fact that she was his sweetheart and they had travelled south together only made the fear worse. It wasn't long after the murders began that Welyn began to start questioning the possibility of transplants and why the organ of a healthy woman cannot replace the organs of an unhealthy one.

He theorises that the murderer might in fact be that, a woman using the body parts to rejuvenate herself.

He also draws out a worn sulver from his pocket.
"I found this in the snow next to the corpse of the third girl, a 27 year old stablehand from the Irontusk Inn. I knew her, a little, and she was not well-travelled. So it surprised me when I saw where this was minted." - Welyn, passing Tremor the old coin.
Engraved on the back of the coin, the symbol of the Brilliant Towers of Drell.

Spoiler: The Brilliant Towers (click to show/hide)

The apprentice also passes on information they already knew, in that there have never been any tracks around the bodies and that the injuries caused are only those which seem to have been inflicted to obtain whatever parts the killer was after. For example, the only injury inflicted upon the girl who had her face torn off was exactly that, the loss of her face. What actually killed her is still unknown.

Harold:
The history of the town is very dry reading, and Harold quickly finds himself struggling to stay awake. Strangely enough, even in the official records, the origins of the Blackmane and Irontusk feud are very vague.

As to any mention of historical killings, Urik's Landing, for what it is, has always been reasonably peaceful. Even when it was ruled by the Invarrians, the Landing was still ruled by whoever wielded the biggest sword. And when it wasn't, it was the man who threw the biggest fireballs. Law in the town has always been simple too. If you were wronged, you were fully within rights to go murder them. So for what it was, the town has always been reasonably peaceful.

About a hundred years ago the town tried to secede from the kingdom of Southreach but were unsuccessful. And that's just about it really. No serial killings. Plenty of killing, whether accidental, or condoned vengeance, but no one prowling the streets and preying on the populace.

"No history of serial killers and now they just had five enter... This is going to apocalyptic for them." - Sins.

On the other hand, browsing through a census from over two hundred years ago reveals that Odon the Black was born and lived in the Landing for some time. No information is given, but Harold knows the story well.

Odon the Black was a feared Invarrian sorceror and the subject of many Invarrian bedtime tales. They were some of Harold's favourite stories growing up, but he can't remember much in the way of details now.

"My friend, what do you know of Odon the Black?" - Harold, to the theyne's book-keeper.
"Well, he was born and raised here, but he left after his twentieth nameday and his well-known reign of terror was conducted to the south." - Book-keeper.
"Would any of his own books be found in this archive?" - Harold.
"I rather doubt it, but I will search for you if you would like." - Book-keeper, happy to help.
"That would be great. I will return tomorrow around the same time to see if you have found anything." - Harold, shaking the man's hand and taking his leave. He has devised a plan and needs to fill in his companions.

Maebh, Tremor, Kel’Serrar and Breanna:
"So, Welyn, do you know of any outlanders that may have come from the far south?" - Maebh, turning the coin over in her fingers.
"To my knowledge, there is no one in the town who is actually a Southron. The one name which springs to mind is the theyne's court wizard, Heimdar. He may have been trained at the Towers, but he is from Southreach originally." - Welyn.
"And where are you from?" - Maebh.
"The Gwyrai woods, to the west of your homelands. I have not seen the woods for many years now." - Welyn.
"Well, I hope that one day you get the chance to go back there. Meanwhile, I must go speak with this court wizard." - Maebh, standing to leave.
Breanna and Kel'Serrar make to follow and the three of them turn to see Harold walk into the inn, freshly returned from his library visit. Tremor stays seated to finish his latest alcoholic conquest and Harold joins him, passing the others on his way to the table with a friendly nod.

Maebh, Kel'Serrar and Breanna:
The three companions traipse off to Lordshall and make their way to the top of the stone stairway.
"Well then, more newcomers. This is unusual. State your business." - The doorward, who is still imposing.
It must be said that a lithe and wild-looking Danann and a dark-clad Leathe are not the kind that he would usually be turning away. The rough and ragged sailor Kel'Serrar is impersonating, with exaggerated rolling walk is more the kind he deals with.
"I would see Heimdar the wizard. I wish to know if we were fellow students at the Brilliant Towers." - Maebh, imperiously.
"I will find out if he will see you, stay here." - Doorward, turning his great, fur-covered shoulders and striding into the longhall.
"You studied at the Towers?" - Breanna, whispering, eyes wide.
"No." - Maebh, hissing between her clenched teeth.

The doorward swiftly returns.
"He will not see you. I am sorry." - Doorward, apologetically.
"Why not?" - Maebh, sharp.
"Because he is otherwise engaged and regardless, he is not disposed to open his door to any vagrant who shows up on his doorstep and begs entrance." - The doorward, who then raises his hands innocently. "His words, not mine."
"A moment, please." - Maebh, to the doorward. She then turns her back and beckons her companions in close.
"The way I see it is, we have three options. Option one, we go in there and talk to the jarl and see what he knows and how he can help us. Option two, we leave now, come back tonight and capture the wizard. Or option three, we go in hands blazing." - Maebh, whispering.
"I'm for shanking him in the knee." - Breanna cheerfully.
"Is there any way I can see him? What is his schedule for the day?" - Maebh, turning back to the doorward.
"I rather doubt it. As to his schedule, well he locks himself in his room all day, presumably doing spellwork. He emerges only for food or as commanded by the theyne, who only calls on him sparingly. And then he goes back in, I guess for more spellwork." - Doorward.
"What time does he come out for food?" - Maebh, latching onto an idea.
The doorward names a time in the early evening.
"And I would be allowed into the messhall at this time?" - Maebh, continuing on her track.
"I don't see why not..." - Doorward.
"Excellent. I shall see you then." - Maebh, turning on her heel and returning to the Blackmane Inn.

Breanna and Kel'Serrar exchange concerned looks and follow her back.

* * *

The three return to the inn to find that Welyn has left and that Harold has been trying to discuss the coming move into Nordtarnet with Tremor. The dwarf would usually have been quite attentive to this conversation, but as the days passed found himself growing more and more preoccupied with the knowledge he gleaned from the manuscripts found in the Wolf King's lair.

Script which he could make neither heads nor tails of just weeks ago was suddenly starting to make a very real and frightening sense. He starts to get a feeling that a lot of what he is reading about, all of a sudden, he could do. This scares him a little, as murdering lots of people, raising them from the dead and then taking over large swathes of the countryside had never really occurred to him before. Now though, now, he looks forward to it in a detached kind of way.

The companions eat lunch and discuss their next moves, and it is decided that rumour-mongering is the plan. Harold and Kel’Serrar head to the marketplace to gather some information, Maebh and Breanna to the gates to talk to the guards and Tremor to Lordshall.

Tremor:
"Another stranger. What is your business here?" - Doorward, surprised.
"I wish to see the court wizard." - Tremor, gruff.
"You are not the first to seek audience with him today. He is unlikely to agree to a meeting." - Doorward, frowning.
"Tell him I have some scrolls of an unknown nature that I would like him to have a look at." - Tremor.
The guard nods and turns to enter the hall, but abruptly stops and turns back to Tremor.
"And where did you find these scrolls?" - Doorward, curious.
"In the highest tower of an undead mad king to the south." - Tremor, truthfully.
"I see." - Doorward, eyes widening.
The guard is gone for only a short moment before returning.
"Master Heimdar will see you immediately." - Doorward, showing Tremor in.

The court wizard's personal quarters are a small annex off the northern wing of the hall. Upon being led through a carefully engraved wooden door, Tremor takes in a sparsely furnished room. The one concession to vanity is a large mirror on the wall across from the doorway, its frame carved with intricate runes.

Tremor's vision snaps back and again he can see the great burning pine before him.
"THERE!" - The mysterious female voice.
The Dwergar gets the feeling she is pointing accusingly at the runes before them. He has only a split second to ponder this before he is snapped back into the real world, the after image of the burning pine imprinted on his mind.

Heimdar himself is small for a Northmann, a situation not helped by the way he stoops. He looks more ancient than he is, in part due to the long grey beard which obscures most of his face and trails down to mid-chest. He is clad in a long dark grey robe of coarse wool.

The wizard gives Tremor a strange look as the Dwergar's eyes clear. It takes a moment for him to blink away the effects of the vision, but is soon able to see Heimdar standing next to his desk, a sturdy wooden affair covered in arcane manuscripts.

The wizard extends a hand in greeting and the dwarf hurries forward to shake it.
"Well met, my name is Barandin Stonefist." - Tremor, hiding his true identity.
"Stonefist eh? Cousin to the Ironfists... Well I wouldn't go north my friend, it is a bad time for your family up there by all the accounts which have come south. May I offer you a drink and a seat?" - Heimdar, in a friendly manner.
The wizard calls in a servant to attend their needs, bringing a wooden chair for Tremor and then two flagons of mead from the theyne's cellar.

"So, let's get down to business. You have some things you wish me to look at, and I very much would like to see them. I hear something about an undead king?" - Heimdar, cradling his flagon.
"Aye, an ancient kingdom in the Midlands whose king had come back to wreak vengeance upon the living. We slew him and I raided his library." - Tremor, setting his flagon down and pulling forth the scrolls from his backpack.
"Ah, now these are interesting." - Heimdar, taking the scrolls from Tremor and examining them one at a time.
For his part, the Dwergar enjoys his mead and is drawn over and over again to the runes around the frame of the mirror. His mind starts to wander and he can hear the very faintest of otherworldly screams. In his current state, to Tremor it sounds like the screams are coming from within the mirror. Blue flames rush across the surface of the reflection then and he gasps.

The apparition vanishes, and the mirror's reflection is as it should be.

"I said is anything wrong?" - Heimdar, concerned. Tremor notices that the wizard has set the scroll aside and is looking worriedly at the dwarven engineer.
"Aye, nothing the matter. I was just admiring your mirror. I am a runecrafter myself you see and I am impressed by the craftsmanship on display there." - Tremor.
"The mirror is a family heirloom of mine. I must confess I have no idea what purpose they serve, but I keep the mirror as it reminds me of my family, of whom I have nothing else left." - Heimdar, taking another draught of mead.
"I see. Now, would you happen to know about a burning pine?" - Tremor, fishing for information.
Any warmth on the man's face, of which there was very little to begin with, flees.
"The symbol of the one the peoples of Norbayne called the Witch-Queen of the North, Kresimina. Centuries ago, Kresimina sought out the secrets of an endless life, specifically a life in which time could not diminish her beauty nor her power. None can say for certain whether she achieved that goal or not, as she just disappeared from all records. She is considered a figure of dread in the histories and legends of many northern kingdoms." - Heimdar, gravely.
"I saw a mention of it on a tapestry in the south and had no idea what it referred to." - Tremor, lying again.
"Hmm, interesting that relics of her reign have drifted so far. Her predations were restricted to the very northern kingdoms of Norbayne. If ever you come across that tapestry again, I would be very willing to buy it from you." - Heimdar.
"We did not take it with us unfortunately, but I do have some other pieces which might interest you." - Tremor, fishing out the Slates of Anagas from his pack.
Spoiler: The Slates of Anagas (click to show/hide)
"Oh my, this is something indeed." - Heimdar, running a hand appraisingly over the engravings on the cover.
"Taken from the same king's personal library. I have no knowledge of the language they are written in." - Tremor, finishing his mead.
"I am very interested in this. May I keep it? For now of course. I think I may be able to decipher it, though it would take some time to do so. I would be willing to pay obviously." - Heimdar, engrossed in the carvings. 
"Yes, if I can get a copy of the translation when you are done." - Tremor, haggling.
They settle on Tremor providing the scrolls and Slates of Anagas for Heimdar's research. In return he receives 26 sulvers, a promise that he will receive a translated copy when the work is done, and the opportunity to copy down the runes around Heimdar's mirror.
Both men feel confident that they have come out first in this deal.

Before leaving, Tremor extracts a pledge that the translations of the scrolls will be complete within the week.

Maebh and Breanna:
The two girls head to the guards at the gatehouse and are generally unsuccessful, the guards here proving to be a rather close-mouthed lot, unlike their kin in other lands. They do stress the danger of being outside the walls after dark.

A large creature stalks the marshes to the north, preying on the hamlets and their livestock. Just a few nights past, a girl was killed and her father mauled and left in a death-like sleep.

"It never rains, it pours." - Sins.

Harold and Kel'Serrar:
Harold and Kel'Serrar on the other hand have more luck rumour-mongering in the market, and quickly deduce that the common folk generally still believe that Welyn, the friendly apprentice doktor, is to blame for the murders. Lately though, public opinion is starting to shift towards him due to his open and friendly nature.

There is also a lot of talk about the creature terrorising the outlying hamlets.

The companions return to the Blackmane Inn to discuss their next move. It is late afternoon and the weak sunlight is starting to fade in the sky.
"I have a strong feeling that the wizard up in Lordshall is the one we should be following up on." - Maebh, nursing a flagon of water.
"Well I just gave him some stuff I needed translated, so you can't kill him for a week." - Tremor, brooking no argument.
"I have made a promise that I would meet him this evening." - Maebh.
"Promise? Threat more like." - Breanna, laughing and drawing a friendly swipe from Maebh.
"Whatever. My point is, I can hardly back down on this now." - Maebh, turning her attention back to Tremor.
"I need that stuff translated. Leave him be for a week. You can kill him after that if you must." - Tremor, taking a drink.
"I do have a plan to try and draw out this murderer." - Harold, leaning across the table.
"Yes, what is this plan?" - Breanna, eating a peach.
"Well, as we have seen, Kel'Serrar here is quite adept at changing his face." Harold, turning to Kel'Serrar, who has taken on the shape and form of yet another Northmann sailor from the ship which brought them to Urik's Landing. "How would you like to be bait?"
"I'm sorry, what?" - LD.
"Yeah, don't worry LD I heard 'baked' too." - Ladyhawk.
"As did I. I was just trying to figure out if he meant marijuna or just cooking Kel'Serrar into a pie.
'You know how you can change your appearance? Well good, I want you to turn into pastry goodness."
"Not greatly, but then I do rarely like your plans so it is no worse than usual." - Kel'Serrar, sardonic.
"Good, then I believe you should change your appearance into that of a human woman and go out onto the street tonight to see what comes up." - Harold, ignoring the pessimism.
"This is an absolutely awful plan and I will make your life hell for this." - Kel'Serrar, resigned.
"So, no worse than usual. We are agreed that we will do this?" - Harold, getting one back on the surly ranger.
"If it is the wizard and he does come out, can we kill him then Tremor?" - Maebh.
"Yes, if he attacks one of us, then yes. He's fair game." - Tremor, shrugging.

* * *

And so that sees Kel'Serrar, in the guise of Dhara Silverwood standing on the main street outside the Blackmane Inn, looking nervously at every shadow and fingering the knife at his/her belt. All of his/her other weapons were left inside the inn, much to Kel'Serrar's consternation.

All around him, the rest of his companions lie in wait, ready to spring into action should something assault the ranger/damsel.

A sound comes from an alleyway further into the town and behind the Irontusk Inn, but even Kel'Serrar's sharp ears cannot pick up what it is. He/she is on edge, when a small black cat emerges from around the corner of the Irontusk Inn. The cat takes one look at the lonely woman standing on the street and bolts away into the shadows.

Almost an hour passes with no more disturbance, as Kel'Serrar paces up and down the street. His companions have hunkered down and are doing their best to stay warm, but it is a futile effort. The ice has solidified in both Harold's and Breanna's fur and Tremor's beard is practically shimmering in the waning moonlight. Only Maebh seems relatively unaffected, still and silent in the shadow of a house and shrouded in dark furs.

A guardsman bearing a torch and covered in so many furs that he approaches at a waddle more than a walk comes down from the north gate.
"Lass, what are you- It's not safe out here! You'll catch your death of cold!" - Guardsman, concerned.
"Not at all. Just taking the night air for a short while." - Kel'Serrar, who gives an unconscious shiver.
"But is freezing out here! I must insist you go in. I don't mean to scare you, but besides the cold, the Landing isn't safe for women after dark." - Guardsman, still concerned.
"I will go in shortly, I can look after myself." - Kel'Serrar, dismissing him.
The guardsman keeps walking down to the docks, looking back over his shoulder at the ranger/damsel and muttering under his breath. Naturally he now believes that Kel'Serrar is both the killer and some ancient monster incapable of feeling the depths of winter's chill. Well he would, if the person he had dealings with looked anything like Kel'Serrar, but they didn't. So, in fact, his suspicions are actually directed at Dhara handily enough.

Kel'Serrar decides that if there is no more action in the next two hours, he is going to make his way into the Irontusk Inn and find a room there where the rest of the party cannot follow. That'll teach them to make him disguise himself as a woman and then freeze to death in the main street.

Naturally, Kel'Serrar is nowhere near as heavily protected from the cold as he should be. After all, the bait has to look appetizing, and no ball of fur has ever exactly looked stylish and attractive.

This of course, only fuels Kel'Serrar's contempt.

* * *

An hour passes and the guard returns on his route. He nods at the ranger/damsel, makes a sign to ward against evil an hurries away. The cat does not return, much to Breanna's disappointment.

The second hour passes and the guard does not return.

It is very cold and very dark, and the companions who have been lying in wait are starting to get impatient. Unable to take the waiting much longer, Tremor stands and heads down to the wharf, where the guard was last seen walking towards. The Dwergar, despite his keen eyesight in the dark can see no trace of the guardsman. In fact, there does not seem to be any trace of guards anywhere around the town, nor any signs of struggle.

Kel'Serrar follows Tremor down to the wharf and just as he steps onto the wooden pier, there is a flash of cold blue light on the ground beneath his feet.
Willpower Check to resist the spell's effects. It is failed. In response, Sins asks if he can cast a single spell with instantaneous casting time in the split second before the spell takes effect. I put it down to an Initiative Check, which is passed, thanks to the re-roll garnered from doing the homework I set everyone. See guys? Advantages aplenty!

The sky begins to glow overhead, revealing much of what had been hidden just moments before. The shadows most of the companions are using for concealment, suddenly offer nothing in the silvery glow. Even Breanna's Shadowskin fails her, rippling across her flesh in the light before she dispels it with a sigh.

The collective gaze of the companions is drawn to where Kel'Serrar stands on the pier, rooted to the spot. Faint tendrils of ice-blue magic are entwined around his/her legs, preventing the ranger/damsel from moving. Maebh and Breanna hurry over to their trapped companion and start to study the spell holding him/her.

Breanna immediately smells the acrid tang of daemonic energy, a large amount of which was used to power this spell. It bears the same hallmarks as the power used to fuel the preservation spells woven into the corpses too, although the daemon bound by the caster was a different individual.

Maebh on the other hand, is able to determine more. First, that this was a trap, and one of many set up around the town, a snare for the hunter to return to at its leisure. Secondly, that the one who cast this spell was a master. A mere journeyman would have been unable to prevent the spell from loosening a crack when it was triggered, a sharp noise which would draw attention. The fact that this caster was able to fold the spell in on itself the way they did suggests that the caster is a very powerful and learned individual. In fact, the flash of light which they had all noticed was only caused by a reaction with Kel'Serrar's active glamer, the field of energy suffusing the disguised Danann's flesh clashing with the paralysing ward he stepped upon. Even now, paralysed on the pier, his disguise starts to fail, the glamer retreating up his legs slowly.

"Are you kidding me? Helpless again?" - Sins.

We broke here for lunch.

"So, the plan guys?"
"The plan has gone horribly!" - Dev.
"As to be expected!" - Sins.

They perform Search Checks and Wings rolls a 1.
"There are no individuals hiding in the area."
"What? With a 1, how could I not find them?" - Wings.
"Well it is hard to find people if there is no one there, no matter how hard you look..."

The conversation then turns to the trap, which has claimed one of the companions...

"So, this thing is a trap which has been set to allow the person who set it to come back and retrieve the body when no one's around?" - Ladyhawk.
"Aye, that makes sense."
"So why don't these people just yell for help?" - Ladyhawk.
"Sins, do you want to try to yell for help?"
"I'm completely paralysed. That's going to stop vocalisation, right?" - Sins.
"That's right I'm afraid."
"Oh right." - Ladyhawk.
"So, you know, I'd really appreciate it if you could get me out before I suffocate guys..." - Sins.
"Oh, no injuries! They suffocated to death?" - Ladyhawk.
I give a raised eyebrow, but do not confirm.
"Well... I guess we can test it..." - Dev, laughing.
"You leave me to die in this trap and I will haunt your ass for the rest of your existence. And I'll do it in the shape of Chirya, just to piss you off." - Sins.

Concentrating on the task at hand, Maebh reaches out and grasps Kel'Serrar's shoulder. It takes a bit of mental straining, but eventually the strangling touch of the dark magic dissipates and Kel'Serrar is freed.

"Okay, that's enough for me. I shall see you all in the morning." - Kel'Serrar, brushing himself off before heading across to the Irontusk Inn.
The ranger knocks upon the door to the inn and eventually an old man in his bedclothes opens the door, a candle burning fitfully in his hand.
"What? Do you know-? It's late and- What do you want?" - Old man, having been awoken from his sleep, is not impressed with his newest customer.
"I wish for shelter this night. I can pay." - Kel'Serrar, still disguised as Dhara.
He is admitted in, the old man figuring that it is better to take the money and let the poor girl in than leave her out in the cold. Kel'Serrar is required to print his name in the ledger on the front bar and uses Dhara's name, intending to screw her over on the off chance she visits Urik's Landing in the future.

"Well, we've failed, **** it. Let's go inside." - Harold.
He leaves for the Blackmane Inn while Tremor, Maebh and Breanna have one last look around before going in. The others are largely unsuccessful, but examining the ground near to where Kel'Serrar was trapped, Tremor feels his vision go strange again.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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The Dwergar stares at the ground beneath his feet and to his magically altered sight, the snow starts to melt away, revealing a fleshless skull, grinning up at him. His vision returns to normal and the skull is gone, replaced by the ever-present northern snow.

On his hands and knees, Tremor starts to shovel the snow away with his hands, and there, sitting on the ground before him, is the same grinning skull. It looks like it has been sitting there for several months now, and he realises that it isn't entirely fleshless, little scraps of blackened skin clinging to the blood-slicked bone.
"What have you found?" - Maebh, standing over Tremor's shoulder.
"A skull." - Tremor, gruff.

Tremor takes the skull in his hand and withdraws it, feeling slight resistance. He figures that in pulling it free, he has detached it from the rest of the corpse. The Dwergar opens the drawstring to his head-pouch, in which the severed head of Wilmund Brewer rests, and deposits the skull inside.

"Can you send the ranger a message?" - Tremor, standing and addressing Maebh.
"Yes, what do you need?" - Maebh, starting to shiver in the cold.

In his room, Kel'Serrar is warming himself by a fire and trying to get over the fear he felt while paralysed by the trap when he hears Maebh's voice on a light breeze which blows through underneath his door.
"Come back out, Tremor needs to speak with you." - Maebh whispering wind.
Kel'Serrar has no inclination to do so, but no means of responding.
"I'll deal with it in the morning." - Kel'Serrar, who settles down to sleep.

"He's not coming." - Breanna, after waiting for almost twenty minutes.
"I've got this." - Maebh, who calls up a significant amount of power. This time, she casts the same spell, but overloads it.

Kel'Serrar is awoken by a screaming wind blowing through under his door.
"I said come back out, Tremor needs to speak with you!" - Maebh, in what Ladyhawk described as a 'shouty voice.'

They wait for the ranger to emerge, but have no luck. He's not coming back out again tonight. Together, Breanna and Tremor talk Maebh down and they others traipse back to the Blackmane Inn after an unsuccessful night. All the companions avail themselves of a hot bath before bed though, the better to regain some of their lost body heat.

Back soon...

We're back! :smallbiggrin:

The companions awaken in the early morning. It is overcast and miserable, but not unbearable. Kel'Serrar has changed his appearance again, no longer Dhara but now some random he glimpsed in Summer Hill.

"Not sure what exactly our leads are..." - Ladyhawk.
"We do have two main suspects at this point." - Sins.
"Yes, the apprentice doktor, Welyn, who has been quite helpful-"
"Nice guy." - Sins, interrupting.
"Let's kill him." - LD, rubbing her hands together.
"Yes, that would be entirely within our M.O." - Dev, to laughter.
"You also have evidence which suggests that the perpetrator is magically powerful and well-educated. And there is at least one man, to your knowledge, who fits that bill."
"Hmm, the court wizard. Well, that's it. I'm going after him." - Ladyhawk.

Harold sits alone out on the porch of the Blackmane Inn, seeing to the maintenance of his armoury of weapons. He has awoken before most of the town and is enjoying the peace and quiet. Bach sits beside him, feasting on a side of mutton. It has been a few days since the marcwolves have been out, and surprisingly both Bach and Wolfgang have enjoyed their time in the snow. The most amazing thing however is just how fast the cub-pups have grown. Both are by now, around the size of a common woodwolf.

While sitting there, the Invarrian is a approached by a small man in drab grey homespun clothing.
"My lord, Book-keeper Harris has completed your request and is awaiting your presence up at Lordshall." - Servant, bowing.
"Thank you. Please inform him I will be along shortly." - Harold, standing up before leading Bach back to the stables.
So much for enjoying a rest...

Sitting at a table in the Blackmane Inn, the companions discuss their next moves. They decide to split up at this stage. Harold is to go to the theyne's archives to find out what he can about Odon. Tremor, armed with his newly-discovered skull, heads off to the doktor once more, accompanied by Kel'Serrar. Maebh meanwhile heads on up to Lordshall to confront Heimdar Iceblood, who she has decided ought to be investigated a little more closely. Breanna goes with her.

Harold:
Having already eaten breakfast, Harold leaves the Blackmane Inn before the rest of his companions and arrives up at Lordshall eager to find out what he can about the mighty Odon the Black.

Upon entering the archive, he discovers that Odon the Black was an absolute nutcase of the highest order. Harris has written down every reference to Odon he could find in print for Harold and the duellist spends a fair bit of time reading what he can and then being completely astounded.

According to the book, Odon was born over two hundred years ago. There were a few incidents in his youth, but none quite so disturbing as what he did to a poor lad named Oric, who had the misfortune of making an enemy of the black-furred Invarrian. One night, Odon crept into the house of Oric's family and killed his cat, a creature the whole family treasured. While horrible, this was hardly the end of the carnage that night, as Odon magically bound Oric's family, raised the cat and had it kill the boy in front of them. This was at seven years of age.
"Mother of God..." - Dev.
"Holy hell..." - Ladyhawk.
"This guy was really ****ing nuts guys." - Can't say I didn't warn them.

Tremor and Kel'Serrar:
The two companions walk to the doktor's for what seems like the hundredth time over the last few days. The door is opened, as always by Endric, Jurdric's son.
"Ah yes, master dwarf. And... I do not recognise your friend. Anyway, what is the matter today?" - Endric, reasonably friendly and not recognising Kel'Serrar. At this point even I have forgotten what he looks like today.
"Nothing the matter, I'd just like to speak to apprentice Welyn please." - Tremor, reasonably friendly himself.
It's still early after all.
"Ah yes, he's down the hall and to the left, seeing to the stores." - Endric, showing the two companions through.

"Ah Tremor! And... I don't know you... Anyway, what can I do for you?" - Welyn, looking up from arranging herbs for later use.
"I was wondering, were there any missing people reported before you arrived?" - Tremor.
"I have no idea. I haven't heard anything about it, no." - Welyn.
"Right. And were there any others who arrived with you when you came here?" - Tremor.
"Well no, only myself and Berrilyn made that trip and actually stayed here in town. Everyone else went south by sea or on to the capital." - Welyn.
"Hmm, well, do you know who this is?" - Tremor, pulling the head from his bag.
"By the gods, what is that?" - Welyn, horrified.
"It's a skull... Oh bugger, sorry. Wrong head. Can't believe we didn't end up being paid for this..." - Tremor, who had accidentally pulled out Wilmund Brewer's head.
You know, the BBEG from Arc 2 who was decapitated by Tremor at the end of that arc?
"Sorry, do you know who THIS is?" - Tremor, pulling out the recently discovered skull.
"You carry severed heads around!? Are you-? Never mind, let me look at it then." - Welyn, still horrified.
The apprentice takes the skull gingerly from Tremor and inspects it.

"What can you tell us?" - Kel'Serrar.
"Well , this here is a male, approximately fifty years old. Probably died around two and a half months ago, maybe longer. Reasonably well preserved. I assume you found it in a snowdrift?" - Welyn, who had begun to lose some of his professional detachment after the shock of Tremor pulling severed head out of his bag.
Tremor nods by way of response.
"Interesting." - Welyn, who has started to look at the head more like a puzzle and less like a mouldering skull.

Maebh and Breanna:
"Now Breanna, I'd prefer if this didn't turn into an all-out brawl with fire and death flying everywhere." - Maebh, quietly as they walk down the street towards Lordshall.
"So we're talking to him first then?" - Breanna, fingers tapping the hilts of her knives.
"Yes, but we'll take no chances." - Maebh.

They approach the doorward, who does not appear to be too happy to see them.
"So, what is your business here today? Are you still looking for the wizard?" - Doorward, who makes the mistake of meeting Maebh's gaze.
"These are not the droids you are looking for..." - Ladyhawk as she rolls her Hypnosis Check.
The guard's eyes lose just a little brightness and he stops his fidgeting and Maebh knows that he is hers.
"Brilliant. You are doing an excellent job at your normal duties. You will forget we were here... Back in a minute." - Maebh, beckoning a stunned Breanna to follow her into the hall.
"Whoa, that was awesome." - Breanna, under her breath and grinning at the mage.

 The mess hall stretches before them, a massive oaken dining table taking pride of place right down the centre of the room. On either side of the table are rows of chairs and at either end, fire pits. Beyond the table are three stone steps leading to a slightly raised platform, upon which a large throne sits upon many animal pelts. On the wall above the throne, a huge bear's head is mounted, the head longer than Breanna is tall.

On the throne sits an absolutely massive blond-haired man, clad in rune-encrusted steel armour. At his side, resting against the arm of the throne is the largest battleaxe either Breanna or Maebh have ever seen and it glows with fell power.

"What are you doing here?" - Theyne Embermald, not unkindly.
"Hi... Do you have a moment to discuss our lord and saviour?" - LD, laughing.
"We are here to talk with your court wizard." - Maebh, taking charge.
"And my doorward just let you in?" - Embermald, troubled.
"Yes, he didn't have any problems with it at all." - Maebh, gritting her teeth.
"Well, if you have an appointment, he's through there and good luck to you." - Embermald, shrugging his massive shoulders and pointing to a doorway to his left.
"So we have your permission to go see him?" - Maebh.
"If you have an appointment, you don't need my permission. My permission would hardly make him talk to you if he doesn't want to anyway." - Embermald, growing impatient.
"So you're giving us permission?" - Maebh.
"Don't do this Ladyhawk, just go through and see the wizard if you have to." - Dev, getting worried.
"Just ****ing go in there already!" - Embermald, ticked off.
"Taking that as a yes. Let's go Bree." - Maebh, heading through the doorway to Iceblood's personal quarters.

The two girls open the carefully engraved wooden door, and take in the room. Heimdar is sitting at his desk, which is a horribly cluttered affair, marking down notes from a familiar looking book onto a fresh scroll.

Upon walking into the room, Maebh's eyes are drawn immediately to the mirror on the far wall, or more specifically, the runes adorning the frame. She instinctively knows that the runes are activated by a combination of an incantation and a blood tithe. She stores that knowledge away from Tremor.

"The hell are you doing in here?" - Heimdar, furious at being interrupted.
"I have the theyne's permission to come and see you." - Maebh, smug.
"Damn it all, I told him I don't want visitors. Can we make this quick?" - Heimdar, off-hand.
"Okay, what do you know about the murders in this town?" - Maebh, cutting to the chase.
"I know nothing about the murders in this town." - Heimdar, way too fast.
"Hmm, fine. Aren't you supposed to be translating the scrolls before the slates though?" - Maebh, playing her trump card. Turns out Tremor told her about that before they used Kel'Serrar as bait.
The wizard stops and deliberately closes the slates over, very carefully. He looks straight into the mage's eyes, and his glare softens.
"Perfect..." - Heimdar, almost imperceptibly.
Then his gaze hardens once more.
"I can promise you this, and you can tell your hairy friend this too! I shall not continue translating one more damned thing until I get his word of honour that his spies and snoops will leave me well enough alone!" - Heimdar, angrily.
"Well, we are not his spies, and so I don't really care if you uphold your bargain with him or not. What I do care about is searching your room, so you go back to work while I look through your belongings, okay?" - Maebh, arrogant.

Wordlessly, the wizard opens the slates once more and gets back to work while Maebh and Breanna start to riffle through his stuff. They determine swiftly that, although they cannot determine the purpose of much of the equipment, it must be used in his magical research. Judging by all the notes lying around, Heimdar must be an avid and dedicated, if not renowned, scholar of the magical arts.

Maebh purposely pushes a steel instrument off the edge of the desk and lets it clatter to the floor. The wizard looks up at her angrily, and Maebh pounces, holding his gaze. There is a prolonged battle of wills as the two mages mentally war against each other before Maebh can feel him slip, just slightly, under her power. She knows, however, that her hold on him is tenuous and she cannot push too hard or he will snap out of it.

"Tell me, how much do you know about the murders around the town?" - Maebh, again cutting straight to the point.
"I know nothing." - Heimdar, straining under the pressure.
"He knows everything." - Breanna, to Maebh.
"I know nothing. I do my work in here, I spend as little time amongst the peasants out there as possible and then I come back in here to continue my work and further my studies." - Heimdar, straining.
"Do you own any coins from the Brilliant Towers?" - Maebh, probing further.
"Of course I do, I was trained there." - Heimdar.
"Would anyone else in this town have coins from the Towers?" - Maebh.
"How the ruddy hell would I know? I don't go looking in other peoples' purses!" - Heimdar, angrily.
Maebh can feel her control slipping. She doesn't have him for long.
"Would anyone other than yourself have access to your quarters?" - Maebh.
"Not without my permission!" - Heimdar, roaring angrily.
He storms to his feet.
"You come into my living quarters uninvited and unannounced! I have answered your questions, though you have shown me nothing but rudeness and hurled accusations! Leave now!" - Heimdar, furious.
"I have my suspicions. I want to find out who's killing these poor girls and at the moment, you're the prime suspect!" - Maebh, refusing to back down.

She and Breanna are both taken by surprise therefore when strands of cold, ice-blue magic erupt from Heimdar's hands and wrap around the two of them. Both Breanna and Maebh strain against the magic and are able to break free, but it costs them valuable time.

Unfortunately, Heimdar is now between both of them and the door to get out.
"Between you and the possum you wish to throw at him?" - Sins, a callback.

Trapped by the wizard and with no time to consider and fancy combat manoeuvres or casting, the girls respond to the magical assault in the only way they really can.

Breanna goes for the knees and Maebh the head as they tackle the stooped old man to the ground, slamming him painfully into the stone flags on the floor.

He is badly hurt, but not so much that he isn't able to take his own vengeance. There is a deafening burst of magic as Breanna and Maebh are essentially thrown off him with enough force to send them flying into the ceiling. Both of them come back down onto the stone floor hard, badly bruised. Their flesh where they made contact with wizard is badly burnt, blackened as if by ice and Breanna is bleeding from a cut to the back of her head where she cracked it against the wooden ceiling. Maebh on the other hand can feel a sharp pain in her back and has a cracked rib.

Painfully, Heimdar picks himself up off the floor as Breanna and Maebh struggle to breath. The wizard ignores them both and walks to his mirror where he mutters some incomprehensible words and then cuts his hand on the edge of the frame, smearing his blood on the runes. He disappears.

"You guys all hear the explosion when Heimdar blows them into the ceiling. What are you going to do?"
"It's an obvious distraction. Obviously, we need to head towards the obvious distraction." - Sins.
"Yeah run towards it." - Dev.

It isn't long before Harold arrives at the door and helps the injured girls to their feet.
"What the hell happened?" - Harold.
"Tackled... Explosive..." - Breanna, straining. Maebh's still not in much shape to talk.
"Right... Where's the explosive?" - Harold, looking around frantically.
"In... Mirror..." - Breanna, heaving in air.
Harold stalks over to the mirror. He can see the smear of blood on the runes and smell the brimstone in the air.
"This is going to hurt like buggery isn't it?" - Harold, to himself before slashing his hand on the mirror's frame and smearing the runes.
There was a collective intake of breath before:
"We can't let him do this alone. I'm going in too." - Ladyhawk.

Kel'Serrar and Tremor:
Hearing the explosion, the two companions hurtle out of the doktor's with no explanation. Intrigued, Welyn tags along too, but is outstripped by even Tremor, who can actually maintain a fair pace if he tries.

They pass the doorward on their way in to hall, who half-heartedly attempts to stop them, but they have already stormed into the messhall before he finishes his challenge. The theyne simply looks up from the scroll he is reading and points towards the court wizard's quarters.
"That way." - Embermald, pointing.
"I love this guy! That's how you run a town! When crazed citizens rush in and interrupt your reading, just direct them to the nearest explosion and set them loose. This guy is brilliant!" - Sins, who summed up the party's impression of the theyne pretty well.
The engineer and the ranger arrive just in time to see Maebh walk up to the mirror and smear a bloodied hand on the runes. Kel'Serrar and Breanna grimly nod and follow.

Tremor on the other hand starts to gather up his scrolls and the slates. After all, looks like Heimdar won't be doing those translations for him, might as well keep them safe.

* * *

On the other side of the mirror, the sight that greets the companions is seriously nightmarish.

Dark purple and grey clouds drift across a bruised dark red sky. The companions are standing on a floating chunk of rock which appears to have been hewn out of the earth and propelled into the air. Before them on the rock is a wondrously crafted table, glowing with magic and beautifully carved from some unknown material. It is so beautiful that the very thought of harming it is anathema to them.
"I love the fact that you actually prepared for us to go through the mirror." - Ladyhawk, laughing.
"We actually did something we were supposed to!" - Dev.
Cheers all round.
Upon the table lies a woman, or rather the remains of several women which have been patched together to form a work of art, albeit macabre. She is complete, save for her empty eye-sockets.

Behind the companions, the mirror floats, offering them a glimpse back to the material world, where Tremor is busy sorting through what he can keep of Heimdar's belongings.
"Stuff that, I'm not going in there. What can I loot?" - Wings, when confronted with being a hero or a murder-hobo.
Surrounding the floating chunk of rock is a blazing golden net, flaming with magical energy and anchored to the rock by fist-sized golden gems embedded in the stone floor. The net protects those on the floating rock from the spirit predators which are everywhere, writhing on the 'ground' below and soaring sightlessly through the 'skies.' Down below resembles almost a pit of slimy, black snakes, constantly devouring each other. Above, massive floating eel things, again, eat everything they can see.
"Were you high when you wrote this?" - LD.
"See, this is what happens when we follow the plot, we make our way to hell." - Sins.
They made Willpower Checks here to try and avoid being driven insane by seeing stuff that mortal beings should really never see. I won't tell you who passed and who failed.

At the table, stooped over it and looking proudly at his disturbing creation, is Heimdar Iceblood.
"She's almost finished. She just needs your eyes." - Heimdar, looking up to Maebh.
"My eyes? Good luck." - Maebh, calling up her magic.
This is the point I asked for initiative. Not wanting Wings to feel left out, I organised a surprise for him while sifting through Heimdar's drawers.
"You roll too Wings. Tremor is attacked by a vicious turnip."

Tremor opens a drawer to continue searching for things to steal and out jumps a turnip with little arms and legs which has been animated and powered by dark magic.
The turnip got a surprise round, jumping up into Tremor's face.

Back to the real fight at hand and Maebh realises that her power feels different here and immediately decides not to risk corrupting her spirit with the foul energies in the 'air.' She takes her spear, which is not the physical object but more a manifestation of her will to cause destruction, and hurls it at the wizard. As it leaves her hand, it morphs into a bolt of golden light and is absorbed into his essence. Heimdar clutches his chest where the light struck him and staggers. He appears somewhat diminished by the strike, but he is cornered and so close to his goal. He will not give up now.

Screaming maniacally, streams of ice-blue chain lightning surge from his hands, streaking towards Maebh but just as they get close to her, they deviate and crash into the golden net. Immediately, spirits burst through and start to overrun the rock. One makes a beeline directly for the corpse lying on the table. It forces its way down her throat and the corpse shudders with life and sits. She looks around, staring with sightless eyes.
"No! She's not ready yet!" - Heimdar, hands crackling with magic.
The corpse starts to laugh wildly, a strange sound which sounds like it comes from several throats at once and then launches herself off the table and onto the wizard.
"Oh..."
"Oh, that's two 0's..." - Ladyhawk.
"And an 8..."
"Wow, so he's..." - Dev.
"Yep, he got seriously ****ed over."
He gives a single scream before the possessed corpse tears his spirit apart and devours him, all the while cackling daemonically.

Now the party are in a seriously bad situation because the aethyric leviathans, the massive eel-like creatures floating through the skies, are big enough that they could potentially take the whole rock in one go. And the party really does not want to be devoured by leviathans at all, let alone in the spirit world.
"Run!" - Harold, drawing a blazing sword and starting to hack at the daemons that are already between the party and the mirror.

But the real combat, the one everyone wants to read about is Tremor versus the Vicious Turnip. It starts out pluckily, landing two solid hits on the Dwergar before he has time to react. It doesn't take Tremor long however to retaliate, and he does so in brutal fashion, taking the marauding vegetable and snapping it in half. As he does so, reddish-green vapours are released and the turnip falls limp and inanimate. Tremor throws the two halves back in the drawer with disgust, and not a small amount of confusion.

A moment after the turnip was vanquished , the four other companions come streaming out of the mirror, looking haggard and worn. Just as Kel'Serrar staggers out, a pale, bloodied hand reaches through and grabs him by the shoulder. Seeing his friend in danger, Harold turns immediately and slashes the arm at the elbow, severing it at the joint and leaving the appendage twitching on the floor. Sickened, Kel'Serrar draws his sword and smashes the mirror, shattering it completely and trapping the spirits in their own world.

And the murder mysteries were solved. Level ups all round!
"I can't believe it... We finished a quest." - Wings, amazed.
"We finished a quest with minimal casualties..." - LD, awestruck.
"Hang on a minute, we finished a quest without killing the bad guy!" - Ladyhawk.
"Wait, we didn't kill anyone!" - Dev, disappointed.
"We need to fix this." - Sins, quietly.
"You did kill a ghul-ish turnip."

The most important thing that happened here is that Tremor's most recent arc finally came to fruition. He is now an Engineer 7 / Necromancer 1. This ought to be interesting.

I tell everyone that they now have approximately an hour real-time to finish the monster hunt.
"Let's do this." - Dev.

The companions take a moment to revel in just being alive and actually in their own flesh before heading out, taking a moment to laugh at Tremor's turnip nemesis.

Out in the messhall, a small crowd, which had gathered and were waiting patiently for an audience with the theyne is now standing ready to intercept the companions. A few have weapons drawn. The theyne himself however waves them down.

"You killed him then?" - Embermald, still sitting in his throne.
"We didn't actually." - Harold, surprised at himself.
"Not through lack of trying." - Breanna, under her breath. She's still not quite over cracking her head on the ceiling and is feeling kind of faint.
"Your wizard was compiling a collection of body parts from all those dead girls to create some kind of creature. He was doing all this in the Otherworld, which he accessed through an inscribed mirror. We smashed it after his creature killed him." - Maebh, summarising the horrifying experience.
The theyne nods.
"I have no idea if you are telling the truth, but I don't know what kind of person it would take to make something like that up." - Embermald, frowning.
Awakward silence and pointed looks at me after this line.
"But, the fact is, I didn't like the bastard anyway, and you've gotten rid of him for me. So... Take this heirloom. I believe it will help you. " - Embermald, pulling a short bronze chain out of a recess in his leather vambrace and offering it to Maebh.
The Danann receives it reverently, noticing the ancient marking carved into the metal. She can tell immediately that the magic suffusing it has made the bronze harder than steel, but it harbours more powers than merely that.

The reward for Ladyhawk completing her homework first, a reasonably minor magical item. The chain allows the wearer to ignore the first Miscast they suffer each session. The spell is considered to have failed, but no Miscast effects are applied.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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* * *

So now they focus on the beast terrorising the hamlets. Farmers from the surrounding countryside have been coming to Lordshall for several months now, bearing tales of a creature in the marshes which has been preying upon their livestock. No one has ever seen the creature and been able to tell the tale, despite patrols of guards being sent out to hunt it down.

A few nights ago, a girl was taken by the creature and her father mauled. The man was left in a very poor condition and has not moved since the attack. His heart beats and takes the very lightest of breaths, but other than that he may as well be dead. If he does awaken however, he may be able to illuminate the companions on the beast.

And so the party venture out the northgate, taking Bach and Wolfgang with them, but leaving the horses behind.

The road winds its way north, picking a safe, if circuitous route through the swamp. Signposts every half-mile give directions to the few outlying farms and hamlets, and the companions do find themselves at the Bales hamlet.

Trying to eke out a living in the marshes is not easy, and raging death-monsters make thing infinitely harder.  The wife of the man who was attacked follows behind a broad-shouldered horse, which Breanna eyes warily as it pulls a rusted iron plough through the icy field. The woman looks up fearfully at the approaching companions, but Harold quickly assuages her fears and asks to see her husband, promising to do their best to help him. Wordlessly, she leads them inside the meagre home and they see a well-built man lying on his back, still as a rock on the hard bed. A thick woollen blanket is wrapped around to keep him warm, and it appears to be doing its job as he is quite warm to the touch, however his breathing and heartbeat are almost imperceptible.

To Kel'Serrar's keen eyes, it is apparent that the man has been badly mauled by a very large predator, but he has been seen to very well, presumably by one of the doktors in town.
"He's definitely getting weaker the longer he stays like this. Can you see any signs of Black Magic?" - Kel'Serrar, quietly to Breanna.
Despite her keenest observation, Breanna sees no evidence of any Black Magic around the man, which confuses her.
"No, nothing." - Breanna, responding in kind.
They stand around the poor man, debating what they can do under their breath, all the while his wife stares at them wide-eyed, internally screaming at their incompetence.
"Ah, stuff this." - Kel'Serrar, taking his satchel of healing herbs and getting to work.

It takes him almost an hour to re-clean and re-bandage the wounds, but Kel'Serrar does all he can to improve the state of the injuries. Something about the man's state however gives him a clue that this is not just the result of a simple crack on the head, or even shock. There is something else at play here.

He is reminded of a spider, native to the coldest and most northern climes of Unterguardt, the Undmoric spider, a small predator with venom capable of paralysing it's prey. The spider itself is not big enough to cause the effect on anything bigger than a rat, but the effect is somewhat similar to what has happened here.
"Is Unterguardt basically Australia?" - LD.
"It's kind of Russia with Australia's deadly animals." - Dev.
One thing is certain though. The mauling this man has suffered was not inflicted by a spider. The lacerations would be fitting with the bite of a large, mammalian carnivore. One larger than a marcwolf.

"Tell me what you know of this creature." - Maebh, turning to the man's wife.
"I've not seen it. I don't think anyone has actually seen it. Some men from the neighbouring farms brought him in. We heard noises from the cattle and he went to have a look and scare off whatever was out there scaring them. When we heard his scream, I couldn't stop our daughter from going out there to help him." - The distraught wife, who then bursts into tears, unable to continue speaking.
"Can you show us these cattle?" - Harold.
"None left. I can show you out to where we used to keep them." - Farmer's wife, shrugging disconsolately.

She shows them to a small paddock, now slightly overgrown. The paddock is surrounded by a low, basic wooden fence, one section of it completely busted apart by a large animal forcing its way in, a creature roughly the size of a large bear.

The cold ground is all torn up by the panicked cattle and pools of frozen blood are scattered across the grass. The woman tells them that some of the cattle escaped, but many were killed or left too badly injured to continue living. The dead were burned as the wounds smelled foul. Of the daughter, no trace was found.

Breanna and Harold give the woman some money to purchase more cattle, or perhaps find a new home in the Landing which might provide an easier life. She offers her heartfelt thanks to the companions, and returns to her house, leaving the party out in the cold paddock to search for clues.

 As far as traces go, there are piles of leavings all around the paddock, but as far as the party can tell, it's all from the cattle. On the other hand, large clawed tracks lead to the north, and they decide to follow them.
"The game is on!" - LD.

While following the tracks, there is a lengthy discussion about how to approach this beast. All of the accounts they have heard have painted the creature as a nocturnal predator, and as it is already late in the afternoon, it won't be long until it comes back out to play. After reassuring themselves that the tracks led deep into the swamp, they doubled back to find the nearest hamlet with surviving livestock.

The hamlet they find appears deserted, save for the small flock of twelve Unterguardt caorigh (http://cache.desktopnexus.com/thumbseg/719/719599-bigthumbnail.jpg) in a pen, happily grazing. The gate is open, and so a few have wandered free of their confines, but all are reasonably close together. Safety in numbers, after all. They look up at the approaching  companions, and a few bleat in greeting before getting back to their grazing.

Not far from the pen sits a small abandoned house, very similar to the hamlet of the Bales family. Beside it is an outcrop of dark rock, which juts into the sky. The companions approach the dwelling, thinking to commandeer it for the night to watch over the flock of caorigh in order to surprise the beast when it arrives, but as Kel'Serrar opens the door a group of five men come out from behind the rocky outcrop.

"What are you doing there?" - Leader of the band, a young and tall Northmann with long dark hair and clad in brown leather.
"We were going to wait until the beast comes out." - Harold.
"And then kill it." - Tremor.
"Well then friends, feel free to join us. We have much the same plan." - Leader of the band, who goes around to the companions and introduces himself as Eyric.

The band of hunters are five strong and hardy men, clad in much the same manner as Eyric and armed with a mix of bows and spears. They're just young men trying to do right by their families and gain just a little measure of vengeance for what happened to the Bales'. They're brave, and have more balls than sense really, but they are at least willing to stand against the beast in the darkness.

The party get to know the hunters a little bit, but as night falls both groups become a little more apprehensive. Breanna and Kel'Serrar clamber up to the roof of the hamlet, Kel'Serrar with his bow and Breanna with her trusty crossbow. Beside them stand two of the hunters, armed with their own selfbows. They really aren't powerful enough to take down anything larger than a caorigh, but it's still something.

The rest of the group huddle around the rocky outcrop or lie in wait inside the hamlet itself, watching out cautiously over the flock. And then, on the cold wind from the north, a horrific stench of rotten flesh. This thing smells like it is sick. Like a creature that should not exist, so that the very air around it rebels against its nature.
"Ready yourselves. It's here." - Harold, to those around him in the hamlet.
As it draws closer, lured in by the caorigh, the odour becomes almost unbearable, especially to the exceptionally keen senses of Harold and the Danann.
"We have dealt with corpsewalkers which smelt better than this." - Harold, under his breath while simultaneously trying to hold it.


The caorish in the pen have ceased grazing and are now huddled together in the southern-most corner of the pen. They are completely silent, and even in the poor twilight visibility, they are obviously shaking with terror.

A faint distortion ripples through the air, noticed only by Kel'Serrar and Breanna from their high vantage point, before there is a sharp bleat and one of the caorigh is bodily hurled through the air.
"Shoot there!" - Harold, pointing at where the caorigh was just a split second before.
A volley of two arrows and one bolt flash down into the paddock and there is a deep-throated yelp of pain. Kel'Serrar did not shoot however, instead concentrating on conjuring up some kind of magical light to provide some illumination to shoot by. A soft grey light suffuses the area, but it doesn't reveal the creature.

Maebh, looking out the window of the hamlet, spear in hand, calls up the power to see through magical illusions, but even her magically aided sight does not reveal the creature, revealing the effect is not magical in nature.

After the yelp, there is the sound of a large creature moving very swiftly away from the sight of the ambush.

"We've never even hit the thing before, let alone driven it off! Let's get it lads!" - Eyric, taking up his spear and leaping out into the night.
As one, the hunters follow, leaving the companions behind.
"Ah ****, we can't let them go off on their own. Come." - Harold, drawing his masterwork blade.
The companions head off too.

"Don't become separated! Stay together!" - Harold, calling out to the hunters.
They follow the Invarrian's command and the five hunters come together on a patch of dry ground.
"I can't see the trail..." - One of the hunters, knelt on the ground looking for signs of passage.
Only a few paces ahead, it is thanks to Kel'Serrar's starlight casting that the companions see that same curious distortion ripple through the air and careen straight through the party of hunters ahead.

Men are thrown bodily into the air. One is snapped practically in half by the massive jaws, the upper piece taken by the beast as it disappears with a splash into the marsh.

Of the five, only two are still living. One casualty has a heavy laceration to the right leg and what appears to be a broken neck. The last has a severely broken back, practically bent back on himself. Of the two survivors, neither are in a good way, but one of them is worse than the other, with bone jutting from his broken shin.

Harold takes a sniff, but as far as he can tell, the creature is not in the immediate area and so the companions do their best to help the two injured men. Eyric is the man with a broken leg, and he is swiftly going into shock. Harold and the other surviving hunter help each other to support Eyric back to the hamlet.

The others get ready to follow the tracks further, hoping to find the lair.

Meanwhile, back at the hamlet, Harold sets the injured Eyric down. The duellist takes the more or less uninjured one aside.
"Your name lad?" - Harold.
"Edvind. Did you see that thing?" - Edvind, terrified. He was the youngest of the hunters, and is only around fourteen. It wasn't noticeable earlier because, as a Northmann, he was over 6' tall.
"No I didn't, but I saw what it did. We need you to be strong Edvind. Eyric here is..." - Harold, not sure how to put it tactfully.
"Can you watch over him Edvind? Can you do that?" - Harold, imparting some responsibility on the lad.
"Yes, I will." - Edvind, swallowing hard.
"Good lad." - Harold, who turns and leaves without another word.
"He left us..." - Edvind, losing all hope.

Ignoring the carnage around him, Kel'Serrar slips into a trance and lets his senses wander, the better to see just what is in the immediate vicinity.
Another usage of Woodland Senses from Kel'Serrar here.
To his heightened senses, the life in the area at first glance is quite scarce. At first, he recognises the flock of caorigh behind him, still huddled, terrified, in the pen. And then, his companions and what is left of the rapidly freezing corpses of the erstwhile hunters. One of them, the one with the broken neck and lacerated leg, is actually still alive, but barely, and is pumping out arterial blood at such a rate that he will be dead in a few moments.

And then he senses a large, carnivorous beast. It is out there, but he can't pin down where it is. What he can tell is that the creature is not a magical beast, but not a wholly natural one either. It doesn't possess any magical abilities so to speak, but something about it feels wrong. In form, it is a long, low-slung creature, built like a wolf, but far more massive.

Kel'Serrar awakens with a start.
"It's coming back! It's coming back!" - Kel'Serrar, frantic.
He takes an arrow from his quiver and imbues it with energy, ensuring it will fly true.

Hearing the ranger's shout, Harold snatches up a discarded spear from the ground and hurries to the others. There they stand, backs to each other, staring out into the darkness.

Kel'Serrar's arrow gleams with silvery light as he bends it to the bow. Drawing back, the ranger sights along the length, eyes scanning the darkness for that telltale distortion in the soft grey light coming from overhead.

There it is, and he lets fly.

29 Damage rolled on the Patriot Arrow to the face of the beast, making it just about the highest Damage single strike we've seen yet to my memory.

There is a pained roar, and the beast, which was oh so close, withdraws once more, this time in agony.

"Good shot." - Maebh, unable to contain her relief.
"But it's not dead. Let's see if this is going to work..." - Tremor, who bends down next to the man with a broken neck.

The dwarf grimaces in agony and closes his eyes, drawing something up within him before forcing it to obey his will and take up residence in the fresh corpse. With a groan, Tremor's bloodshot eyes snap open and a flicker of green lightning dances across those inky-black orbs. And then the corpse beside him moves too. It staggers to its feet, head flopping grotesquely. Its eyes flash open and a sickly green glow emanates from within. It turns to look at the party and its mouth hangs open, distending oddly and revealing that same green glow within.

Tremor looks disturbed, but oddly pleased with himself. The rest of the party, even Breanna, are disgusted. The Dwergar directs the monstrosity north, following in its path. It has flopped its head back over its shoulder to stare creepily at its master, grinning in that weirdly distended manner.

Tremor knows the daemon he has forcibly bound hates him, and wishes to eat him, but it is incapable of doing so as it is under the dwarf's power. For now.

All it can do is carry out its orders and cause those who it feels has trapped it as much discomfort as it possibly can.

Kel'Serrar and Harold meanwhile go back to the hamlet, Kel'Serrar to set Eyric's leg and try to see to improving his condition and Harold to guard the hamlet in case something comes back to prey on its wounded occupants. Kel'Serrar is successful in splinting Eyric's leg and bringing him out of shock. The danger has passed, for now at least, thanks to Kel'Serrar's quick thinking.

The same cannot be said for the other three companions, who continue to follow Tremor's newest creation. It looks back hungrily at Maebh and Breanna, but it holds only hatred for Tremor, and its baleful glare is directed at him most of all.

As to the trail they follow, even Tremor, who is no great shake at tracking can follow these signs, as the beast is clearly in no small amount of agony and does not care for leaving no traces now. All it wants to do is get back to its lair and get the arrow out of its eye.

Before the three companions and their shambling monstrosity is a massive flat boulder, approximately the size of a house, fifteen yards before which the tracks appear to cease. Closer inspection reveals that the beast looks like it has gone through the rock.

Tremor sends his corpse to check if it is an illusion or something similar and the shambling thing walks straight into the rock an bounces off. It places a cold hand on the stone and pushes, but nothing happens, all the while looking creepily back at the one who has presumed to bind it to his will. The rock is real.

Getting very close to the rock, Breanna notices that there is a crevice at the base of the boulder that one could potentially slip through.
"I'm going to go through." - Breanna, who prepares to slip through.
It is far easier to do than she suspected, and she expects that it was in fact an optical illusion that the crevice appeared so small due to the boulder being so large.

She rolls through the crevice and rides the small drop to the cavern floor. The first thing she notices is that the cavern walls appear to have been excavated by magic as they are perfectly smooth with no noticeable toolmarks. At the far end of the cavern, huge, rusted iron bars. On the other side of the bars, a lit fireplace and a desk.

And then, on her own side of the bars, in the dim light given off by the glow of the fire, she sees a distortion in the air before her. And then the low, menacing growl.
"Maebh! Help!" - Breanna, scrambling backwards.
Panicking, the Leathe quickly calls up a daemon as quickly as she can as the beast stalks towards her. She shrouds herself in the shadows, revelling in the relative safety.

And then she sees the glowing red eyes, following her every movement.

It can still see her...

And we left it there...

The Wrap-Up:
Well that was an excellent session really. It ended on a huge cliff-hanger, and it should be excellent to see how that is resolved this Saturday.

This has been our longest write-up by far to date, almost twice as long as our previous ones, which I think is just because I'm getting wordier. Ah well, more for you guys to read I guess. You'll just have to live with how long it takes me to write them.

As always, please comment if you enjoyed or have any questions. We do love seeing that our stuff is appreciated.

Take care,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:18:03 AM
Session 4.3: Ambushes and Treachery

"Of the seven voyages of Brin Greenfield, it is naturally his last that we know the least about. He took the Northrunner and sailed into the mists of legend, leaving behind only his daughter. West he travelled, or at least so say most story-tellers, but I believe he went north, to where the mountains grow taller than the Wardenfells and the forests grow thicker than the Gwyrai..."

- Sage Deblin Briarsparrow, the story-teller of Greenstone.

Welcome to Session 4.3 guys.

“You lost the game.” – LD.

I began by prefacing the session by letting them know that the Beast in the Darkness is inherently an unfair opponent and the intention is that they will not take it on by themselves.
“Challenge accepted.” – Sins.

Breanna, down in the cavern, is frozen with fear for a split second as the shadowy shape stalks towards her, eyes glowing in the darkness. With a snarl, it lunges forward at the Leathe, who snaps out of her paralysis at the last second and rolls to the side, away from the attack.

Then Wings asked a question…
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

“Okay, my turn. Now for the Agility Check to get out of here safely.” – LD, preparing to roll.
“Yep. A nice low roll so you don’t get caught in your haste. Because if you get caught, you probably get a leg mauled.”
LD smashes her forehead down onto the table after the roll.
“What did you get?” – Ladyhawk, concerned.
“98!” – LD, distressed.
LD uses her free re-roll from last month’s homework.
“19. Thank God.” – LD.[/color]

Breanna scrambles out from underneath the massive boulder, the beast clawing at the empty air she just vacated. None of her companions can see her come out, but Tremor’s floppy-headed thrall looks back over its shoulder at her, eyes glowing with daemonic light.

Behind her, the beast attempts to get out of the cavern. If it were calmer, it would be simply squeezing its way through the gap, but in its rabid desire to get at Breanna, it is clawing and pounding at the boulder. The companions can hear this, and discuss the options swiftly, deciding to go with a full-on attack.

Maebh’s eyes close and she starts to chant softly under her breath. The sky above grows even darker as storm clouds swiftly gather overhead. Scrabbling at the earth and rock, the beast gets its forequarters free, but its hind legs are still caught under the boulder.

Tremor meanwhile takes out the last vial of ‘boom-sauce’ from his pack and throws the mixture at the entrance to the cavern, hoping to blast the earth out from under the boulder. The flames do not catch on the beast, although it does seem to be pained by the fire. In addition to this though, the earth is blasted away and the boulder starts to shift, slowly falling down onto the beast. Growling, the Dwergar takes out his hatchet.
“Die!” – Tremor, hurling his hatchet at the beast’s head.
He misses, and the axe clangs against the boulder and falls to the muddy ground.
"Bugger." - Tremor, cursing his luck.

Breanna meanwhile just legs it, hoping to get back to Kel’Serrar and Harold, where it might be a bit safer inside the walls of the abandoned hamlet.
“Has the Shadowskin gone away?” – LD.
“No, still active.”
“Right, can I scare him somehow?” – LD.
“Keep in mind that last time you tried to do that you were nearly decapitated with a torch.”

A single golden bolt of lightning streaks from the sky, and Maebh directs it into the boulder. The rock cracks under the force of the strike, but does not shatter, and is pressed down further onto the beast’s hindquarters. Roaring with agony, the creature hauls itself out of the cavern by its forepaws.

In its anger, the beast has slipped its camouflage and the companions finally get a good look at it. It is low-slung, like a wolf, but much larger than even a marcwolf and covered in spines and thick, bony scutes. The beast’s head is long and low-slung, heavily armoured and elongated with large fangs.
I show the head of a leopard seal, and describe the beast’s head as a larger, heavily armoured version of the same. We then spend a few minutes looking at pictures of one of the most brutal creatures on the planet. Leopard seals are seriously terrifying.

Wings asks if it is possible to take his zombie out of action and dismantle it, then reanimate it in parts and use those pieces as improvised throwing weapons in order to bring the beast down from the inside.

There is a moment of stunned silence.
"That's a horrible idea. So horrible, it might just be brilliant. Can we do that?" - Dev.
"You need to have line of sight to whatever you are reanimating. So those pieces must be reanimated before they are eaten. Other than that, go for it." - My response.
"This is an awful plan." - Ladyhawk, despondent.
"We could really use a turnip at this stage." - Sins, in a call-back.

Tremor withdraws the energies from the corpse, setting the daemon loose into the Otherworld again. He then takes the loosely attached head from the corpse, wrenches it free and hurls it at the beast, though again his eye lets him down and the skull cracks against the boulder and is immediately snapped up by the beast.

Harold, Breanna and Kel'Serrar:
From where they are at the hamlet, guarding the two wounded hunters, both the duellist and ranger hear the massive crack of lightning as Maebh brings her power to bear on the boulder. Immediately, Harold takes up a second borrowed spear and sets off into the marshes once more, hoping that he will find more than a mere smoking crater.

As he runs, he realises that his hands are no longer covered in fine black and white fur, but instead are a leathery flesh colour. He is bemused by this, but resolves to think about it later.

He passes Breanna on the way, though he does not notice as the Leathe'sShadowskin is still up. For the assassin, all she cares about is putting as much distance as possible between her hide and those wicked claws... 

Maebh and Tremor:
Maebh draws upon just a little too much of her inner flame in preparing her next casting.
There is a lot of tension here as Maebh is hit with some arcane backlash, drawing upon a little too much power and rolling a double in her casting roll.

Now she made the total, and it wasn't a double 1, so the spell still goes off, but because she rolled a double, she needs to take a Toughness Check to determine whether she sustains any serious side-effects.

Ladyhawk fails her Toughness Check, though not by too much. She then rolls a D100 on one of the Arcane Backlash Charts. And the tension is ramped up further by me having to look through files to find the chart.
"I'm going to die aren't I?" - Ladyhawk, after two minutes of searching.
"No... Your hair stands on end. For-*rolls* twenty seconds."
The relief is palpable.

The storms clouds start to gather overhead once more, Maebh's hair stirring in an unnatural wind.

And then things start to go poorly.

With a great roar, the beast frees itself from under the boulder and springs at Tremor, who only just manages to dodge aside.

Harold, coming upon the carnage can see the beast snapping at his companions and takes matters into his own hands. Hefting one of the spears, he casts it at the beast as he runs. The heavy blade pierces the bony scutes on the beast's shoulder, but causes little damage.

Tremor takes out his greatsword and attempts to flank the beast, but it turns like quicksilver and all of a sudden he is met by its snarling maw. The dwarf turns his momentum into a backwards step, away from those vicious jaws.

The distraction however gives Maebh the time she needs to finish calling her lightning down. Again, the golden bolts streak down from the sky, but at the last moment the creature springs to the side and is only caught a glancing blow. It recovers and strikes out at Tremor, who agilely dodges aside from the first, but is then taken by a raking claw across the chest. It throws the Dwergar back, which may well have saved his life as it meant he was just out of reach of the slavering jaws as they closed where his leg had been only a split second before. A good thing too, as Tremor notes the viscous liquid dripping from the creature's fangs.
"Ewww." - Ladyhawk.

Seeing the dwarf on the ground, Harold picks up speed, streaking across the marshy ground and driving his second spear deep into the creature's side. It turns to face its new attacker, the motion of which snaps the spear-haft, leaving Harold holding a worthless length of wood in his hands.

There's a short tangent here where the respective ages of their hunting partners is discussed. All of them were quite young, the youngest of which is the only one still conscious and alive, at fourteen.
"How old was the one Tremor raised?" - Dev.
"Uh, around 18..."
Silence...
"He was legal age!" - Wings.
"So essentially you're saying that there's a legal age for being risen from the dead?" - Dev.
"Yeah. Any younger than 18 and it would be, 'morally wrong.'" - Wings, replete with inverted-comma finger motions.

The conversation turned back to the combat at hand, but only for a moment.
"I'm going to roll around behind it and Withering Touch it." - Wings.
"You're going to what?" - Dev, unimpressed.
"I'm going to make it easier for you to kill by touching it." - Wings.
"Show me on this anatomically correct doll where the fat man touched you." - Sins.
"Arrrrooo... Arrroooo..." - Ladyhawk, making pitiful dog noises.

Tremor tries to take the opportunity to roll back into the fray, but once again the beast reacts, seemingly before the dwarf has even made up his mind and again it is snarling at him. He disengages and stalks around the fight, looking to pick up his hatchet from where it lies after he hurled it earlier.

And then Maebh unleashes her power once more, a devastating gale tears across the marshland, knocking the creature off its feet and blowing it twenty yards across the ground. It tries to rise from the ground, shaking its head groggily, but can do no more as Harold and Tremor stalk towards it.

It is, after all, not exactly used to dealing with prey which fights back.

Advancing on it, Harold takes a hold of the spear he threw at it earlier and tries to drive it in deeper, but is unsuccessful, the creature's bony armour still too thick to deal with. 

Tremor strides up too, mentally draining a daemon dry, and then lays both hands on the beast's flank, the flesh beneath his touch decaying before him. He then strides up to the beast’s side, takes up his greatsword and cleaves it into the beast's neck. The creature gives a strangled yelp, but it is still not dead.

Maebh throws a fireball at the beast's side, the concussive force caving in a few ribs and bringing it out of its daze as the flames lick at its hide. Snarling in rage, it flings a claw out and snaps at Harold, who skilfully manages to avoid the attacks. It then turns to the other side, another claw shooting out to strike at Tremor who is taken unaware and sent flying once more.

Again Harold struggles to drive the spear further into the beast, but thankfully he isn't alone as Tremor picks himself up and strides purposefully towards the creature's flank. The dwarf draws upon what is left of the energies he drained before and lays his hands upon the creature once more, causing another patch of flesh to wither away before his eyes. He goes to strike once more with his blade, but at the last moment he realises that he has underestimated his opponent and the creature turns its glowing eyes towards him once more. It springs, and Tremor sacrifices his chance to hit it to roll away yet again. Again, the creature's jaws snap shut where the dwarf was just moments before, and again Tremor takes note of the viscous liquid dripping from its jaws.
"And again, I remind myself, I do not want to be bitten by this thing." - Wings.
"No you really don't, trust me."
"Actually, this might just be me, but I'm not really a fan of being bitten in general. By anything." - LD, making a very good point.

Now lying on its side, the beast's relatively unarmoured underbelly presents a tempting target for Maebh, who takes up her spear and hurls it with all her strength.
This was pretty cool. Ladyhawk missed on her initial roll to hit, but then used a Luck Point to re-roll it. This missed too and everyone was reasonably despondent. And then Dev came to the rescue.
"Hang on a minute, hang on. Can she use a Channelling Check to help magically aim the spear in flight?" - Dev.
"That's cool. Yeah, go for it."
Ladyhawk rolls her Channelling Check and passes epically, passing with five degrees of success.

Maebh can see as soon as she lets the spear go that it will fly wide, and so she gives it a slight mental nudge. In the dim moonlight, all can see a tiny glimmer of golden light around the spearhead as it alters direction and plunges deep into the beast's heart. With a great shuddering roar, the creature gives its last breath, the glowing eyes closing for the final time.

"I'm a genius." - Dev.
"Yes you are, thank you so much." - Ladyhawk.
This is far greater interaction than when one of them almost murdered the other.
"Can I go shove my spear in further to make sure?" - Dev, to me.
"Yeah, go for it."
"Wait, you need to think of something cool to say!" - LD.
"Uh..." - Dev, drawing a blank.
"Maybe this time!" - Ladyhawk, delivering her own contribution.
And so it is to the triumphant laughter of the group that Harold makes his way to shoulder of the beast and...
"78." - Dev, failing his Strength Check.
"Ah well, well done guys. The beast in the darkness is dead, and you all more or less contributed."
After all, Kel'Serrar shot it earlier, the remains of that arrow can be seen embedded in one of the beast's eyes. Breanna lured it out too, in order to allow Harold, Maebh and Tremor to actually kill the beast. They all did their part.

Tremor takes out his healing draughts and downs them all, accelerating his natural healing processes. He then starts to fill up the empty vials with the venom pooling beneath the beast's jaws.

Having heard the beast's death-roar, Kel'Serrar and Breanna start making their way towards the lair once more, leaving the two injured hunters behind. They arrive to see Maebh, Tremor and a six-foot tall dwarf who also looks a lot like Tremor. Kel'Serrar of course finds this hilarious.

Taking a closer looks at the corpse, the first thing Harold notices is that the beast is not natural. Many parts of the beast appear to have been grafted together, but despite that, he can recognise what it once was.

The creature used to be an ulvenseigl, a beast which prowls the rocky coastlines of Varr. This one is much larger than any Harold has ever seen, and covered in unusual armour and spines, but it was, once, an ulvenseigl. Ulvenseigl also aren't venomous, but this thing was.

Maebh studies the cracked boulder, which has by this stage sunk down into the earth, preventing access to the cavern beneath. Deciding that the best way to find out just who is behind this is to get into this cavern, the mage hurls another lightning bolt into the boulder. Tiny shards of rock whirl through the air, one nicking Maebh's cheek and the other slicing Harold's bicep, but other than that the companions are left unscathed by the storm of rock shards which fly outwards from where the lightning strikes.

Before them beckons the black hole.

They descend into the pit, and again take in the smooth walls carved from the rock by magic and the rusted iron bars separating them from the other side of the cavern, where flames flicker warmly in a fireplace.
"Is there any way to raise the bars?" - Wings.
"With better jokes." - Sins, quick as a flash.
Tremor takes his hammer and with a few quick strikes, breaks the bars apart.
“I made a door.” – Tremor, proud.
“That’s a recurring theme for you.”On the other side of the rusted bars, it is almost a temporary laboratory. A thick stone slab which sits at approximately Maebh’s waist in height and is fitted with thick leather straps, dominates the centre of the room. Strewn on and around the slab are a multitude of bloodstained surgical tools. Small glass cases are set into recesses in the cave wall too, each case holding one specimen of a variety of small creatures, ranging from spiders to snakes and lizards.

In the corner of the cavern is a simple one–man camp. A bedroll lies on the ground near the lit fireplace. Near to the bedroll is a wooden desk, upon which sits a couple of books on medical theory and a great many loose pieces of parchment. A quick flick through the parchment reveals notes in a spidery hand, a barely organised journal which details the procedures the mystery surgeon undertook on the beast.

Quote from: Example notes from the last year:
‘Twenty-Ninthday of Thirdmonth: Begun the process of documenting the creation of the perfect predator. For so long I have wanted to witness such a beast, but have despaired of ever doing so. Now I take fate into my own hands.’

‘Firstday of Fourthmonth: Obtained the sedated beast from Varr. My research indicates the ulvenseigl is the most powerful predator pound-for-pound in the known world, and so it shall be my base.’

‘Third day of Fourthmonth: Have had to abandon the ability of flight in order to ensure the beast is able to return to its lair. Wings would be too easily fouled in this terrain and a beast so large would require elevation to become airborne, much like the dragains of the Wardenfells.’

‘Seventhday of Fourthmonth: Have distilled the venom of the Undmoric spider into a toxin which causes paralysis without the necrotic effect on the flesh the spider’s bite causes naturally.’


’Third day of Fifthmonth: The perfect predator needs to hunt its prey using all the senses possibly available. Many serpents from the southern lands rely on an ability to sense the life-flame of their prey. I have deduced that the ability to do this comes from the presence of organs in the front of the skull.’

‘Fifth day of Fifthmonth: I have isolated the life-sensing organs from a southern viper. Now the enlargement process must begin.’

‘Twenty-Second day of Fifthmonth: The enlargement process now complete, the organs are now ready to be implanted.’


‘Twelfthday of Sixthmonth: The beast escaped last night, but returned to the lair before day-break. It doesn’t want to be fed, it wants to hunt.

I shall let it continue to do so, unless the creature becomes too unruly.’

The notes are confusing to read to say the least. They flit back and forth from day to day, and worryingly, sometimes are written not from the perspective of the mystery surgeon, but as if written by the beast itself.

Plenty of tracks can be seen on the soft cavern floor, the tracks of a large humanoid. While the others look around the room, Kel’Serrar quietly takes the medical texts to study in his own time.

The tracks lead to a solid stone wall at the rear of the cavern. Set into the wall is a shallow stone bowl, stained with years of use. Around the bowl is an inscription:
I come to life the more you die.
“Right well that’s obvious. It’s a blood offering.” – Maebh, to general agreement.
The companions discuss whether or not they would be better served lying in wait in the cavern or opening the door and hopefully following the path to whoever is responsible for all this.
“I reckon we wait here for him to come back and then ambush him.” – Harold.
“We might be here for a long time. Time we don’t necessarily have. We are waiting for a messenger, remember?” – Kel’Serrar.
“Aye. We go through. Who is going to bleed for it though?” – Maebh.
“There’s a rapidly cooling corpse outside, full of blood.” – Breanna.
Kel’Serrar heads out, collecting the beast’s blood in a bowl and pouring it into the stone basin in the wall.

The wall shifts aside, revealing a short staircase and a long, perfectly hewn tunnel. The companions head in, and quickly realise that they are heading back underneath Urik’s Landing. Eventually they come to the end of the tunnel and find a trapdoor above them. Tremor goes first, opening the trapdoor to reveal the storeroom of DoktorJurdric.

There is a fair bit of discussion regarding what to do next. Harold is all for waiting in the laboratory again, hoping that they won’t be waiting too long. Tremor meanwhile believes the best option is to have Breanna lying in wait, ready to alert the rest of the companions if someone heads down the tunnel.

Eventually a decision is reached and Maebh sets a ward on the ground of the tunnel, a short way down the passage. It will alert her if it is crossed and will remain active for a few days until tripped. The companions go back to the Blackmane Inn and hope it is enough.

* * *

The sun has not yet risen when Maebh is alerted. The ward has been tripped. She hurries to alert the rest of the party.
“We need to split into two groups, one from either end of the tunnel. As Harold and I both have horses, we will go out into the swamp and approach from that direction. Agreed?” – Maebh, to the nods of the rest of the party.
She and Harold then make their way to the stable to pick up Toirneach and Amadeus.

Tremor, Breanna and Kel’Serrar:
The three companions run to the doktor’s residence, the streets empty in the early morning. Tremor then spends a good few minutes knocking furiously on the door, until a dishevelled Endric opens it.
“The hell is going on here? It is really early! What do you want?” – Endric, not happy.
“Move.” – Tremor, shoving the young man aside. Despite the size difference, the bulky Dwergar has no trouble doing so.
“Who else is here?” – Kel’Serrar, to the surprised Endric.
“Well my father is in the storeroom. I think Welyn might be as well, if he’s not sleeping at the inn.” – Endric, surprised.
“And how much do you like the idea of a giant death monster being let loose on the town?” – Kel’Serrar.
“Not much… I’m sorry, do I know you?” – Endric.
“No.” – Kel’Serrar, who has taken on the face of someone else again. I honestly have no idea who at this point.
“Look, we’re going to the storeroom. We may have to kill some people.” – Tremor.
Endric looks startled, and then he’s back to being angry.
“Look, tell me what is happening here!” – Endric, shoving Kel’Serrar and pinning him up against a wall.
“Did you miss the part about the giant death monster?” – Kel’Serrar, sarcastic and unconcerned. “Do you know what is happening under this place?”
Endric shakes his head.
“Look, just come with us, you’ll want to see this.” – Kel’Serrar, who is slowly released by the doktor’s son.
Endric pats the ranger’s cloak and smooths out where he had caused the fabric to bunch up.
“Sorry about that. I just don’t know what’s happening.” – Endric, ashamed of his outburst on, an admittedly self-invited, guest.
I asked Sins to make a Charm Check there, which is rolled against Charisma. There were laughs from most of the group and groans from Sins.
“Here we go, time to get my face punched in.” – Sins, as he rolls.
The dice fall, and lo and behold, he has passed.
“I have no idea how that happened.” – Sins, laughing.
“Well Sins, first of all, Charisma… WHEEE!” – Ladyhawk.

They enter the storeroom, Tremor and Breanna first with weapons at the ready, Kel’Serrar and Endric next, both of them slightly more calm. The room is more or less as they left it last night, save that the trapdoor on the floor is open.
“Oh no. Someone’s down there aren’t they?” – Endric, to the others.

Maebh and Harold:
The two companions are riding side by side through the swamps, spears in hand and scanning the ground for safe passage. Harold’s experience on marshy ground proves to be a life-saver as he picks out a path through the marshes which they can take at a break-neck pace.

They reach the cavern, the shattered boulder littering the landscape and the dead murder-beast lying on the ground where the companions left it.

Maebh and Harold dismount and search the ground for any tracks and evidence of people in the area who shouldn’t be, but are unable to find any tracks other than their own from last night.

They decide to wait in the laboratory, assuming that the alarm must have been tripped by someone entering the tunnel from the doktor’s storeroom. Interestingly, they notice that the stone door, which they opened with a blood offering last night, has closed again at some point.

Naturally, Maebh collects some, slightly congealed, blood from the corpse of the beast and opens the door.

“Look after the horses, I’m going in.” – Harold, to Maebh.
“Look after the other horse, I’m going in.” – Maebh, to Toirneach.
“Look after yourself, I’m going in.” – Toirneach, to Amadeus.

Tremor, Breanna and Kel’Serrar:
The companions jump down into the tunnel, Tremor first and Endric bringing up the rear. Ahead of them, a single lantern bobs up and down as someone walks slowly down the tunnel.

Breanna takes up her dagger and stalks up the tunnel, making no noise on the smooth, stone floor. The others follow a fair distance behind, knowing that Breanna will be much quieter than themselves, and hoping she can prevent the target from escaping while they catch up.

Upon approaching the target, the Leathe can see that he is a solitary man, elderly and moving very slowly. He is muttering to himself under his breath too.
“I’m going to tackle him.” – LD.“Who is that?” –Elderly man, turning back towards Breanna, just before she comes flying out of the darkness to tackle him.
He gives a somewhat panicked scream and tries to throw her off, but is unsuccessful.
“I didn’t mean for it to hurt anyone I swear! I didn’t mean for this to happen!” – Elderly man, revealed as doktorJurdric.
“Stop it, you’re hurting him!” – Endric, who rushes forward to pull Breanna off his father.
The Leathe only half-heartedly struggles.
“Let’s keep going down the tunnel and we’ll discuss this in the laboratory.” – Tremor, to the concerned Endric.

They meet up with Harold and Maebh in the tunnel and Kel’Serrar takes Breanna back to the storeroom, leaving Tremor, Maebh and Harold to hold onto Jurdic and lead Endric to the laboratory. The doktor’s son is horrified by what he sees.

Kel’Serrar and Breanna: The two companions wait underneath the trapdoor and can hear Welyn fussing around above them.
“I’ll grab you…. I’ll probably need you…” – Welyn, absent-mindedly talking to himself as he gathers up medical supplies for the day.
There are footsteps and the sound of a door opening, as Welyn enters the storeroom.
“Well then, what are you doing open? There’s nothing down there anymore…” – Welyn, confused. He walks over to the open trapdoor and closes it.

It is closed for merely a second before Breanna throws it open once more.
“What are you doing down there?” – Welyn, confused again as Breanna springs out from the underground tunnel.
“Look come with us. There’s something you need to see about the good doktor.” – Breanna.

Harold, Maebh and Tremor:
Jurdric has stopped muttering how sorry he is and has started wandering around the laboratory, feeding the animals in their cases and discussing with himself under his breath what pieces he should add to his beast. It’s like the companions and his son have just ceased to exist and the last fifteen minutes never happened.

“The beast he created is just outside. You can have a look if you want.” – Harold, to Endric, who immediately heads out.
A low whistle of surprise is the next thing they hear from the doktor’s son.
“Holy ****…” – Endric, walking back inside.
“The important thing here is that he is an old man, performing a valuable service for the community.” – Harold.
“I think the important thing is that he stops building this ****.” – Tremor, interrupting.
“Your father is harmless, as long as he isn’t allowed down here, at least without supervision.” – Harold.
“Absolutely… This is terrible. We will need to begin to make reparations… I cannot believe we are responsible for all the suffering those poor people in the hamlets have gone through.” – Endric, disconsolate.
“Well the best way to make reparations would be to help those people, but do not let on that it was your father. If the populace know that he was behind it, there will be riots, and that would be counter-productive. The people would be better served by your aid than your deaths. We will say nothing of what was behind the beast, only that we killed it. But you need to make sure that something like this never happens again.” – Harold.

Welyn comes in and they deliver much the same information to him too. The apprentice is taken immediately by the severity of the situation and promises that first thing he will do when he finishes his work for the day is come down and try to block up the tunnel.

For Jurdric’s happiness though, they take the glass cases up the tunnel to the house so he can continue to look after the various deadly creatures inside. It does seem to be one of the few activities which actually gives the old man some joy and peace.

And then they have a couple of days to rest and recuperate, waiting for some kind of message from Barandin.

* * *

A few days later a dwarven messenger bursts into the Blackmane Inn where the companions are sitting, enjoying their breakfast. He is bearing an envelope marked with the seal of the Ironfists. He is scruffy, and looks pretty weather-beaten, likely from a life spent on the open road.

“It is customary for the recipient to provide a coin to the messenger.” – Dwarven messenger, holding out a grimy hand.
Wordlessly, Tremor hands over a sulver and takes the envelope, which he opens as the messenger jogs out of the inn.


The companions spend another week recovering from their adventures. In this time, Harold gets his sabre reforged and Tremor buys himself a crossbow, already looking at ways he can improve the weapon…

* * *

The companions are eating their lunches in the Blackmane Inn, having enjoyed their week-long rest, when a stocky and powerfully built Dwergar bursts in through the door, making a beeline straight to where Tremor sits, nursing an ale and a plate of bacon. The newcomer is clad in dark wool and heavy leathers and his hair and beard are dark and wildly unkempt. A stout shortsword hangs from his belt. The right hand side of his face is covered in clan markings in blue ink.

The dwarf walks straight up to the table, ignoring the rest of the companions but shaking Tremor’s hand immediately.
“My name is Rorik Longstride. I am to be your guide. Are you ready to go?” – Longstride, briskly.
“Is there not some kind of code phrase?” – Tremor.
“Oh yeah. The Winter Wind has borne you home safely, or some such ****.” – Rorik, impatient.
“None too soon, right?” – Tremor.
“**** it, I don’t remember, something like that. Your cousin’s a pain for that kind of thing.” – Rorik, frowning.

They debate the plan to head north for a short while, Rorik suggesting they go north-west through the marshland, steal a barge from a riverside village and from there end up in the Valleywood. Harold however wishes to appear as legitimate as possible to those they intend to liberate, and suggests an alternate route, first renting a barge at Iceflow Watch and then proceeding north to The Crag, where they will take a route through the mountains and eventually arrive at the Resistance’s main camp. It will take longer, but also provides a better idea of the state of the realm.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Rorik agrees, as long as they get moving swiftly, so the companions finish their food, say their farewells and collect their equipment and animals.

The companions pick their way through the marshlands for around three days, eventually hitting Iceflow Watch in the evening. The village is very small, a few dwellings scattered around the rocky ford which spans the Iceflow River. A few barges rest on the bank, tied down securely. The village is quiet, and so the companions make camp on the southern bank of the river, thinking to cross the ford at dawn and hire passage north as quickly as possible.

The companions bed down for the night and are mildly uncomfortable in the cold, but they have no real choice in the matter as Iceflow Watch is too small to have an inn.

In the morning, before crossing the river, Kel’Serrar sets about altering the features of his companions so they don’t stand out so much. Northmenn, Invarrians and Dwergar are all reasonably common sights so far north, but Leathe and Danann, not so much. Using his newly-found illusory magic, Kel’Serrar changes his own appearance once more into a random Northmann from the Winter Wind and Maebh’s, Tremor’s and Breanna’s into random people he took note of in Urik’s Landing, a Northmann woman, a very rotund Dwergar and a young Dwergar girl respectively.

So disguised, the party crosses the ford and are hailed by a bargepike on his vessel, a few barrels of fish on the deck.
“What brings travellers to Iceflow Watch?” – Bargepike, reasonably friendly.
“We seek passage north. How far are you going?” – Harold.
“To Lord’s Ridge.” – Bargepike.
“Would you be open to going further?” – Harold.
“Of course, provided you had the coin to pay for it.” – Bargepike, smiling.
“How much for our group here?” – Harold, getting ready to haggle.
“The animals too? I guess we’ll need the two barges then. Ten sulvers a leg seem fair?” – Bargepike.
“Not really. How much to get to Lord’s Ridge?” – Tremor.
“Ah, seven sulvers a leg?” – Bargepike.
“We’ll offer our protection too. Surely that’s worth a discount?” – Tremor.
“I’m only going to Lord’s Ridge. Don’t need much in the way of protection. Too cold for bandits at this time of year.” – Bargepike.
Breanna flicks a crown at the man.
“Keep it. I have four more for you if you take us all to The Crag.” – Breanna, to the bargepike who is stunned by her wealth.
“I’ll just go get my brother to help me with the other barge.” – Bargepike.

The trip upriver from Icewater Watch to The Crag takes approximately five days. On the way, they pass Easllamach Keep, a stout, wooden border-fort, manned by a company of heavily armed and armoured Dwergar. The party are not stopped, nor even hailed, as thanks to Kel’Serrar, they look like nothing more than an extended family escaping yet another warzone.
“We’re the Millers, right?” – LD, laughing.

Though they are not stopped, the companions do take good note of Easllamach, knowing full well that they may be coming back this way to take it…

They also pass Lord’s Ridge, a city built on a cliff overlooking the Iceflow River and Sapphire Lake. According to Rorik, the ruler of Lord’s Ridge, Theyne Balof Redclay, is sworn to Bain Ironfist, but he is not the legitimate ruler. Lord Arald Redclay, the theyne’s older brother is one of the primary lords of the Resistance.

By the companions’ fifth day on the river, they are starting to get restless. The Crag is visible upriver when the bargepike, Willem, decides to ask them just what they want to do.
“So, shall I just drop you folks off at the docks or what?” – Willem.
“Yes, take us to the docks.” – Harold.
“Are you sure about this?” – Maebh, in an undertone.
“The whole reason we hired the barge was to appear as legitimate as possible. If we sneak off outside the city, then what’s the point?” – Harold, equally quiet.
“The fact that he felt the need to ask us if we wanted to be dropped off in the city says that we’ve not exactly succeeded.” – Maebh.
“Honestly, I’d say he’s just as much a smuggler as we are being smuggled. I’d wager this would not be the first time he’s done something like this, nor will it be the last.” – Kel’Serrar, joining the whispered conversation. 

“Guys, the fact is that you guys showed up at dawn, having camped out for the night in ****-awful weather and then asked for a barge north. His response was, ‘Sure, for money,’ and you guys went, ‘Yes, we have gold!’ Which was offered to him by a little girl too. So naturally he thought, ‘Wow, this is odd,’ but he won’t ask any questions regarding that because you paid him and you were pleasant. So that’s enough.

Back in minute... :smallwink:


The Crag is a large stone fortress built into the side of a mountain. The dock is reasonably busy, despite the cold early morning weather. The Iceflow and dwarven artisans have combined over the centuries to carve the side out of the mountain, creating a shallow harbour under the rock for river vessels to make port. Sturdy wooden piers jut out from the rock, which leads directly to a modest market, which is only now starting to come to life as the day breaks.

And so the two barges drift into the dock, Willem and his brother, Rojer, throw out the ropes to tie the vessels down, with the help of those companions who can be bothered. Two guards, stout and very heavily armoured, bearing the insignia of House Windrider, watch the barge closely, but do not approach the companions.

Upon leaving the market district and entering the city proper, the companions are struck by just how beautiful it is. The stonework is exceptionally impressive and the artistry and ingenuity required to create the huge windows which admit light from outside while still keeping the entire city out of the elements is mindboggling. The companions do not spend long in The Crag though, following RorikLongstride out the gate and into the mountains, hopefully heading west and towards the Resistance.
“Hopefully we will get through without incident, but there are hill clans, some of which cannot be reasoned with.” – Rorik, pessimistic.

* * *

By the time the weak sunlight fades, the companions have made good time into the mountains. It is ridiculously cold, but the party is aided by their newly-purchased warm clothing. They come across a suitable area and Rorik suggests pitching a camp. The companions agree and Harold and Kel’Serrar set to making a fire while the others put up tents and Maebh sets a line of wards around the campsite.

The night passes uneventfully, although this does not give the party any comfort due to the ridiculously cold weather. Not only that, but the altitude is such that they find it very hard to breathe. Despite this, they all manage to sleep, leaving one person at a time on watch. It is very early morning, the sun yet to appear as anything more than a faint lightening of the sky, when the party is awoken by a blaring noise as a small caorigh trip Maebh’s wards.

Laughing to themselves, and cursing mountain goats, the companions pack up and move out.

* * *

The second day sees the companions moving even further into the mountains, following the bare, rocky path west, or as near to west as they can figure it. A little after midday, the companions start to become nervous, particularly Maebh and Kel’Serrar, an unsettling feeling running up their spines. Ahead, would be the perfect spot for an ambush.

On either side of the narrow valley run ledges, hidden in shadow. Beneath the ledges, pockets of undergrowth, just about the only plant-life they have seen for the last day.

Worried about a potential ambush, Kel’Serrar closes his eyes and attunes himself to the environment. In his mind’s eye, he can see humanoid figures upon the ledges, and more of them lying in wait in the scrub. The air is not disturbed by their breath. They are not alive.

“Is there anything in these mountains we should be worried about?” – Tremor, to Rorik.
“We’re fugitives, travelling with a convicted murderer and potential claimant to the throne, across a realm ruled by a maniac of a king, through hill-clan and bandit territory and you’re asking me if there’s anything we should be worried about? Are you off your ****ing head mate?” – Rorik, scoffing.
The companions quickly decide that Breanna and Kel’Serrar will climb to the ledges to take out the things up there, upon which the other companions will spring the trap.

So naturally the Leathe and disguised Danann climb up to the ledges, Kel’Serrar on the left and Breanna on the right.

On the ledges, facing the valley floor, are lines of skeletons, six on either side. Most of the skeletons are Northmenn, but a few are Leathe. Very few have scraps of flesh or material on them, but most are bare bone. All are armed with a variety of bows, arrows already nocked to the worn bowstrings.

Meanwhile, Maebh thinks better of springing the trap, and just fireballs the scrub to hell. Cold blue magic flares up in the midst of the flames, and the eyes of the watching skeletons with the bows blaze with a cold light as their compatriots burn beneath them.

But now Kel’Serrar and Breanna are in serious trouble, as both lines of archers turn towards them. The Leathe panics, and hurls one of her many knives at the closest archer, crushing the skeleton’s upper arm and rendering it useless. It gives a rattling moan and draws a crude stone dagger from its belt. It charges towards her, but she hacks at its leg with her heavy carving knife and it topples from the ledge.

Kel’Serrar meanwhile heaves himself up onto his ledge, draws his sword and swings it for the first time in earnest. He charges forward, sweeps under the archer’s arrow and pushes the skeleton over the edge.

A few skeletons drag themselves from the undergrowth, Maebh’s unnatural flames burning on the desiccated bones. Harold strides forward to meet them, striking with his axe and kicking them down to the dirt.

Tremor takes out his crossbow and scans Breanna’s ledge, seeing one of the archers about to loose an arrow at the Leathe, who is still clinging desperately to the rock. He brings up the weapon and looses a bolt with outstanding accuracy, punching through the skull of the archer.

Unfortunately, that still leaves Breanna with two skeletons about to attack her with crude weapons or bony claws, and another two with bows ready to shoot.

Those two archers do so, one arrow slamming into the Leathe’s shoulder, the other whistling past her ear. Despite the shock and pain, Breanna grimly manages to cling onto the ledge.

Kel’Serrar’s ledge has four skeletons ready to go with their bows. One arrow flies wide of Maebh, another pings off Harold’s pauldron and the last two go straight through Rorik’s face.
“Sorry guys, your guide is dead.”
“Aww no way!” – Ladyhawk.
“Aww ****.” – Dev.
“When you see the GM pick up a handful of dice and look at them pleadingly, you know the guide is dead.” – Sins.
“Yeah…Two arrows.Directly through the eyes. He’s gone.”
“We are boned. So boned.” – Dev.
“What the hell is up with your dice!?” – LD.
“They went all violent on me.” – in a slow, sad voice. After all, Rorik was going to be important in the next few sessions.
“They do that whenever you need to kill NPC’s.” – Sins.
“And Harold just looks at him.” – Dev, laughing.
“That’s why you wear armour, bitch.”
“Despite the fact that it hit him in the eyes.” – Dev.
“That’s why you have armoured eyelids like an ankylosaurus, bitch.”

Two skeletons try to claw at Breanna as she hangs from the ledge, but she uses one of their arms to heave herself up, in the process pulling the abomination over the edge.

Upon seeing the arrows pick out Rorik with unnerving accuracy, Maebh calls up a blazing disc of golden light in front of her.

Harold charges towards the leftledge to help Kel’Serrar.

Kel’Serrar meanwhile hacks at a skeleton with his blade, but is generally unsuccessful at hurting it. He manages to force it back, but only succeeds in taking off a hand.

Tremor meanwhile, uses Rorik’s corpse as a shield, simultaneously searching the dead dwarf’s pockets. He find a beaten map, with several points of interest in the mountains marked on it, and a small purse of ten sulvers. The silver coins are freshly minted, bearing the face of Tremor’s brother, Bain Ironsfist.

The two archers on Kel’Serrar’s ledge that are still holding their bows shoot at Tremor, but the arrows pass on either side of the Dwergar. On Breanna’s ledge, one archer shoots Kel’Serrar, grazing the ranger’s calf. The other aims at Breanna, but the arrow sails wide.

Between them Breanna, Harold and Kel’Serrar hack apart the last of the skeletons on the ledges, only taking a few more minor cuts and scrapes. Tremor takes one of them out with his crossbow too.

Continuing along the mountain path, Tremor shows the map to his companions.
“Look what our friend had on him. We should be able to find our way through these mountains without him.” – Tremor, omitting the information regarding the sulvers he found in Rorik’s possession.

This was probably a bit of meta-gaming here. The players decided to just leave Rorik’s corpse behind with no second thoughts. Probably because they think he was a traitor. Which he might have been, or he might have been carrying those sulvers to show the Resistance proof that Bain was minting his own currency… We will never know.

A few of the hill-clan territories are marked on the map in the valleys, but quite vaguely. The Mountain Finches and the Baersonlings seem to range over the widest territory. Two crossed swords, just south-west of the Mountains Finch territory likely represent the location of the Resistance. Very close to where the companions believe themselves to be, a black swirl is marked on the map.

They do discuss some troubling details regarding the ambush. Firstly, that the skeletons, while animated, there did not seem to be a necromancer in the vicinity. If there was, the companions couldn’t find him. Secondly, the presence of Leathe skeletons amongst the attackers. The Leathe are so uncommon as to be almost unheard of this far north. Only the most itinerant of travellers, such as Breanna, make their way so far from their homeland.

Within twenty minutes, the companions have come across a splinter path from their mountain pass, a crevice in the rock wall to their right. According to their map, the black swirl likely lies at the end of this splinter path.

So they investigate…

* * *

At the end of the path lies a doorway into the mountain. Strange carvings and runes are inscribed above the doorway. Tremor recognises a few animals carved into the stone as being native to the area, snow-wolves, havbaears and gigants. Kel’Serrar finds that he can pick out some of the words, the script appearing to match the Scribhinn, but it is Breanna who is most amazed by what she finds. Whatever language these ancient inscribers were carving, matches the Leathe dialect pretty closely. There is some lingual drift, but not much, despite these runes being carved many centuries ago.

“Here lies the tomb of the Great Explorer, beloved of his people. Dare not disturb his eternal rest…” – Breanna, under her breath.

Ignoring the warning, Maebh conjures a flame and lights a torch each for Harold, Tremor and Kel’Serrar before the companions venture into the darkness.

Before them stretches a long corridor with a high ceiling. On either side, smooth rock walls, carved with lines of ancient text. Breanna recognises the text as an old myth, of a Leathe explorer. She remembers hearing the story when she was very young, as told by the old storyteller of Greenstone. No one ever actually believed it though, the deeds attributed to the young and dashing Brin Greenfield far too outlandish to be taken as fact.

Perhaps there was more to it than mere fireside stories after all…

On the left wall lies the story as Breanna remembers it, replete with all of Brin’s amazing adventures. On the right, lies the story of what happened afterwards. After defeating the White Dragain of Hithaeril, Brin Greenfield sailed north once more and established a colony in these very mountains.

At the end of the corridor, there is a thick stone door. At Breanna’s chest height, there is a triangular indent in the door, very alike to the key-hole in the ruins outside Summer Hill. Kel’Serrar looks around and notices a loose flagstone on the ground. He pries it free, and there lies a silver triangular medallion, around the size of his palm, a green gem set in to the metal. He takes it and pushes it into the keyhole, and the doors grind open.

Before them is a large, bare room. There is a path leading to the left, two paths to the right and a massive black iron door straight ahead.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

“I’ll catch up in a minute.” – Tremor, splitting from the party.
Everyone bar Tremor goes down the left path, while the Engineer walks straight up to the door to inspect it.

The companions go down the path and take a right angle turn to the left, turning them back the way they came. A room opens ahead of them, Leathe skeletons in ancient armour lying on ledges set into the walls, weapons held in dead fists.

The companions dub this room the crypt, and leave quickly.

Tremor:
Tremor’s doorway swings open at his touch. A very large room is revealed before him, the light of his torch illuminating a massive cavern. The outline of an ancient ship is the first thing the Dwergar notices, but then rank upon rank of Leathe skeletons come into view. They are armed for war, facing the doorway.  They look as if they have been standing there, like that, for an age. Having seen them, he turns and joins the others.

Having left the crypt, the other companions inspect the pathways on the other side of the main hall. The furthest from the original corridor has caved in at some point in the past and egress is blocked by massive slabs of granite. The other however is a long, winding path which leads further underground. The further they go, the colder the air becomes, and the light emitted by the torches seems to penetrate the darkness less and less.

The companions eventually come to a room, in the centre of which sits a stone sarcophagus. Around the sarcophagus, set into the walls, are more biers holding heavily armoured Leathe skeletons, surrounded by a dark glowing energy. The sarcophagus appears to be the source of the power, the dark light seeping from the rock.

“Ladyhawk, would you be a dear-“ – Dev, about to ask for the Coke.
“Baaaaah!” – I made the closest approximation I could to a deer noise.
“Actually, when I went to the deer park with my family I saw a deer and all it did was stand there going, ‘BUK-Ptthhhh! BUK-Ptthhhh!” – Ladyhawk, with corresponding facial expressions.
As an aside, I do encourage the readers to look up elk noises. They really are amazing.
“But we wouldn’t want this scene to stag-nate, so we’ll get back to it.” – Sins, the Lord of the Puns.

With a crunching of bones, the sarcophagus shifts and the skeletons around the room turn to look at the companions, a fell light gleaming in their empty eye sockets.

“Maebh, set up a few walls of blades in the hallway. We might be in a bit of trouble soon.” – Harold. She does so, careful not to draw too much energy, knowing that if she does so, it might lead to her soulfire being corrupted.

The skeletal constructs stagger towards the companions, eight strong and gripping ancient iron weapons.

Throwing caution to the wind, Maebh blasts the skeletons with torrents of boiling water with enough force to crack five of the dead Leathe against the stone wall.

The lid of the sarcophagus hits the floor and a crowned Leathe in finely crafted leather armour springs out, making for Maebh with a rusted sword. He attempts to strike her, but the mage hurriedly moves out of his way. Breanna pings off a bolt from her crossbow, but is unable to cause any lasting damage.

Not so Kel’Serrar who smashes the undead king’s skull and puts him down with a single arrow.

Harold moves to intercept the last three guards, taking the arm of one and the head off another, which falls the stone floor. Tremor puts the last two down with his greatsword, leaving the king’s crypt in silence as they listen to the army of dead Leathe feeding themselves into Maebh’swoodchipper. None make it through.

The companions look around the crypt, Breanna setting her paws on the king’s finely crafted armour. They do find a chunk of dark, purplish rock in the bottom of the sarcophagus, which Maebh confirms as the source of the dark energy.

Harold picks it up and throws it into the closest wall of blades, the companions expecting an explosion similar to the one which resulted when last time someone threw magic into a wall of blades. Instead, the blades appear to almost be sucked into the chunk of rock, and it falls to the stone floor with a heavy thud.

Tremor takes his hammer to the rock and parts of it chip off and seem to melt into nothing before their eyes, but it hardly seems to be damaging the rock in any real way. So they resolve to leave it be.

Before leaving, Breanna takes down a brief recap of the whole story to take back to her people. The companions also check out the ship, which Breanna vaguely remembers was called the Northrunner. It is not special, just the equivalent of a caravel, (No guns obviously.) though it is pretty amazing how old it is. The room is otherwise empty, those skeletons around it having been ripped apart by Maebh's blade walls.

The companions seal the tomb by closing the doors and taking the key with them.

* * *

The companions follow Rorik's map as much as they can over the next few days, but it is all they can do just to hope they have not become lost in the mountains. By the third day of travelling, the valleys have steadily become lined with trees, giving way to the Valleywood.

It is early morning when they are halted in their tracks by a soft lilting voice coming from the trees above the path ahead.
"What is your business here? Oh wow, you really are a Leathe!" - Voice.
Onto the path ahead drop two Leathe, armoured in tough leathers and holding bows. One is brown furred, the other dark grey.
"Where are you from? I would recognise you if you were from around here." - Brown furred Leathe, friendly.
"Uh, Greenstone. I would not have expected to find any of our people so far north." - Breanna.
"The Mountain Finches have been in the Valleywood for centuries. Come, you and your friends are most welcome to our hospitality for the night, and all questions will be answered at Imreitibh." - Grey furred Leathe.

The companions follow their two new guides to the settlement of the Mountain Finches, Imreitibh. It is a small town, built in the treetops with rope bridges spanning the gaps between trees and dwellings. One can walk from one side of town to the other without ever setting foot on the ground.

The companions are led to the chieftain of the Mountain Finches, a heavily built white furred Leathe named Caober Snowtail, and the clan shaman, his brother Merrt. 
"Welcome, my friends, to Imreitibh. The limited services and hospitality of my people is yours for your time with us. And now you, dear girl, what is your name and story?" - Caober, warmly greeting the companions. Which is more than they could expect really considering their state. They've spent a fair bit of time on the river and then on the road. They are dusty, bloodied and probably smell. But despite this, or perhaps because of this, Caober has decided to treat them as well as possible.
"Breanna Blackrose, of Greenstone." - Breanna, by way of reply.
"Ah Greenstone, I know of the village. After all, the great Righ Brin Greenfield hailed from that very place. Do you know his tale?" - Caober, friendly.
"I do, vaguely, but as much as I would love to discuss our history with you and find just how you came to be here, we are on a pressing mission." - Breanna, sidestepping the whole, 'Yes I just finished killing your legendary king again,' with great success.
"Indeed? Well then tell me about it and we shall help if we can. After all, you are family, if distant, and family must always aid each other." - Caober.

Spoiler: Leathe Miscellanea: (click to show/hide)
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"This map has a pair of crossed swords to what I assume is the west of this location. Would that happen to be the location of the Nordtarnet Resistance?" - Tremor, trusting that the Mountain Finches are not allied with Bain.
"That would appear to be correct yes. We are aware of their location. Not much happens in these forests without our knowledge. We do not aid them, but nor have we clashed with them. We try to stay out of dwarven politics. It is not our fight." - Caober.
"These troubles are those of men and dwarves. We have our own way of life in these valleys and that is how we like it." - Merrt, coldly to the companions.
"Who else lives in these valleys?" - Harold, curious.
"Well the other main power among the hill clans would be the Baersonlings. They are all Hillmenn, large men and wild. Powerful fighters, though easy to misdirect. There are plenty of other clans too, Hillmenn, Dwergar, even more civilised Northmenn. Oh, and the Sons of Wyre." - Caober, grim.
"The Sons of Wyre... I have heard of them. A mercenary band." - Tremor.
"Yes, a band of the most vicious mercenaries available to one with enough silver to pay for them. And after he took The Crag, Ironfist has silver enough to do so many times over." - Merrt.
"They scour the valleys for the Resistance, but so far they have only found clans. They have encroached on our lands too many times and we have shot them for it, but they retaliated by burning five of our scouts alive." - Caober, sadly.
"This band, where are they now?" - Maebh.
"Baersonling lands, to the north." - Merrt.
"Well, I guess all I can ask is that when you get the chance, kill as many of the bastards as possible." - Tremor.
"We shall. We shoot them on sight." - Caober.
"Why didn't you shoot us? Just out of curiosity." - Harold.
"You travel with a Leathe and our scouts were curious. Be thankful you were so fortunate, many are not." - Merrt.

The companions are granted a dwelling in the treetops for a night, a sturdy wooden affair with a very low ceiling. The Danann quickly find it quite claustrophobic, while Breanna feels right at home. Tremor, after forgetting the fact that he is gently swaying twenty odd feet above the ground, also feels pretty comfortable, while Harold just falls asleep straight away. It has been a long and uncomfortable last few days.

The companions are seen off with many well-wishes in the morning, with replenished supplies, a newly marked map and a promise from Caober Snowtail that the companions can send word and the Mountain Finches will send aid.

It is midday when the companions stumble upon the camp of the Resistance. Immediately they are ringed by Northmenn and Dwergar, bearing spears and other weapons. One heavily built dwarf forces his way forward. He is grim in bearing, clad in a simple long white robe. His beard is long and a dark slate grey. His face has the sunken look of a man who has enjoyed many years of comfort followed by a short, sharp period of deprivation.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" - Old Dwergar, harshly.
"Who do I look like?" - Tremor.
The old man takes a long look at Tremor and recognition gleams in his dark eyes.
"My lord Ironfist." - Old man, falling to his knees.

And we left it there...

The Wrap-Up
I didn't realise it while writing it, but this session is actually longer than the previous one, which I guess explains why it took so long to write it. I do apologise for that. I really dropped the ball. It has been years since I have not finished the previous write up before playing the next session and I do apologise.

This was a pretty cool session I thought. Everything went pretty quickly in the combats because we had played recently and everyone still remembered how to do things. Unfortunately, we then had two months off and everyone forgot again, but hey, it was fun while it lasted.

The next session truly is gigantic by the way. I know some people here play non-stop for 12 hours and things like that, but by our standards this next one is an absolute beauty. Over 7 hours of gameplay had my throat raw as all hell by the end of it, so if you are a GM who has been able to deliver a game comfortably over that period of time, my hat goes off to you. You bloody legend.

Again, any comments or questions are more than welcome. I have some artwork and maps and such coming up too which I will add to this shortly.

That ought to do it, thanks for reading. Catcha next time. :smallbiggrin:
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:19:05 AM
Session 4.4 (a): When the Bat-**** Insanity Hits the Fan

“The masters of the Icebays, the Selkye are an incredible people, capable of surviving in some of the harshest conditions imaginable.

The Aett’kviss Nordur-Vatn, or the Tribe of the Northern Waters, are typical of the Selkye as a whole. Ruled over by a caste of priestesses, the Aett’kviss Nordur-Vatn make their home on the eastern-most Icebay. They worship a pantheon of animal spirits, much like the other Selkye tribes, the priestesses often spending many nights at a time out in the wilderness in the shape of the spirit they wish to contact, seeking wisdom from the creatures which roam the tundra.

The Selkye are renowned as skilled hunters and fishermen, and those of the Nordur-Vatn are no exception, bravely rowing out into the deep, black sea to hunt the massive whales which make their home beneath the waves.

The Aett’kviss Nordur-Vatn have a rich tapestry of legends which are passed in an oral tradition from generation to generation. These range from tales of horrifying creatures from the icy depths of the ocean which seek to cover the world in dead, grey, water, through to the legends of the mischievous Fox, an animal spirit considered to be an ill omen…”
- From A Treatise on the Aett’kviss Nordur-Vatn.

Welcome to Session 4.4.

We had a short delay on starting as I engaged in a spot of ego-stroking. I just had to show off just how many readers we have. Naturally of course, the effect was spoiled by the fact that I had to spend over five minutes trying to bring it up.

The players started to build towers out of D10’s at some point. Ladyhawk’s was particularly impressive, 9 tall.

Anyway, with that out of the way, we got on with it.

The companions spend the next two days in the camp of the Resistance, which has been thrown into a little bit of unrest by the arrival of their rightful king. On the advice of Harrick Stonehammer, the old Dwergar godsman who first met them when they arrived, the companions have sequestered themselves away from prying eyes until a council meeting can be convened to determine Tremor’s motives and the Resistance’s stance towards him.  They are joined in this by Aeva of the Aett’kviss Nordur-Vatn, a Selkye woman from the Icebays of Norbayne.

Allow me to introduce our newest player, Delphoxie and her character, Aeva of the Northern Waters. Aeva is a quiet and rather eccentric young woman. She is primarily a Druid, but is multi-classed to Mesmer.

And she turns out to be very useful.

The camp has been pitched in and around an ancient settlement, set into the walls of a secluded valley. Many of the dwellings and chambers have been reclaimed by the Resistance, one of which has been given to the companions for their usage before the council meets. A wooden palisade has been set up at the mouth of the valley which is really a last line of defence.

As to the members of the Resistance, most are Dwergar, but some are Northmenn. The two races tend to keep to themselves. As a fellow outsider, Aeva gravitates towards the companions, but does not share what led to her presence in Nordtarnet.

When the companions leave the safety of their dwelling, they often notice forbidding stares and black looks from many of the populace. Of course many of these people are still struggling with the upheaval which has just taken place in their lives. Naturally, the companions therefore stay indoors as much as possible.

The companions spend their first few days amongst the Resistance resupplying. Harold sees to his equipment, spending a few coppers on upkeep. He and Breanna also take some time to continue bonding with Wolfgang and Bach, hoping that the marcwolves might soon be able to contribute in combat. Maebh, Kel’Serrar and Aeva spend their time listening to the rumours and general chatter of the peoples of the Resistance. Much of the information detailed below is due to their investigations. Tremor is reunited with Barandin, who counsels the companions to caution, at least until the council meeting. They spend much time deep in private conversation.

To the Resistance, the companions are basically Tremor’s retinue, with Tremor in command. To the Dwergar, political little bastards that they are, it is unfathomable that he might not be in charge. After all, the Dwergar exist to rise to the top.
“Well they do start at the very bottom.” – Dev, making short jokes.

There are four main powerbrokers in the Resistance.

The first, Ersun Blackbear:
- Dwergar, grim, scarred and heavily built with a thick black beard.
- The last of his line, ancestral rulers of Valewatch, the keep in the Valleywood.
- He was the first to rise up against Bain Ironfist, but Valewatch was stormed and he was captured. His wife and sons were put to death in front of him as a warning and Ersun was exiled as Bain, “Would not take the life of a noble lord.”
- Is likely to leave the Resistance if Valewatch is retaken.  Valewatch is his stake. If they get it back, he’s got what he wants and is probably out.

The second, Freida Grimstone:
- Dwergar, short and fair-haired.
- Her father, lord Mordin Grimstone is held prisoner in The Crag.
- The Grimstones ruled The Crag until the rise of Bain Ironfist, who granted ownership of the keep to Orrin Windrider. The Windriders took over in a single night, Mordin was imprisoned and most of the Grimstone household slain.
- Freida seems mainly motivated by vengeance. She wants Bain dead more than anything else, or so it appears.

The third, Arald Redclay:
- Northmann, tall, dark haired.
- Elder brother of Theyne Balof Redclay of Lord’s Ridge, the family came to prominence due to high quality pottery.
- When Bain Ironfist came to power, Balof took the opportunity to murder his father and run his elder brother Arald out of town.
- Easy enough to depose when Arald is not a people person, being far more concerned with numbers and money.

The fourth, Harrick Stonehammer:
- Dwergar, elderly, grey haired and heavily built.
- Godsman of Nordtarnet Keep, essentially the most senior priest.
- When Godric Ironfist died, Harrick asked that Tremor be found to contest the succession.
- Bain didn’t like this and tried to have the old godsman executed, but Harrick managed to escape, stripped of office.
- It is rumoured though, that this escape was due to him using his brother as a decoy…
- Of all the powerbrokers, Harrick seems to be the most patriotic. It would appear that he just wants his position back.

The companions are invited to attend a council meeting in the evening, seeing as the meeting is intended to sort out what to do about Tremor. And so it is that the companions, plus Aeva, are having a quick chat in the afternoon before the meeting, discussing just what they know of the powerbrokers, and how to approach them. The mood is subdued, except Breanna, who is her usual cheerful self, rolling around with Bach and Wolfgang on the floor.
“In my opinion, Redclay and Stonehammer are the two we are not really sure of. Blackbear has defined goal.” – Kel’Serrar, lounging in an armchair. His features change subtly every few seconds, which is disconcerting at first, but they’re all used to it by now.
“Yeah, Ersun just wants Valewatch. That much is clear.” – Tremor, sitting at the dining table with a tankard of mead.
“Freida Grimstone, that’s just about vengeance apparently.” – Kel’Serrar.
“Also clear cut.” – Aeva, fiddling with the animal bits hanging from her belt.
“Arald Redclay…” – Tremor, knocking back his mead.
“His cards are far too close to his chest to tell.” – Kel’Serrar.
“You probably won’t have time to speak to more than two of them…” – Harold, sitting in the corner, sharpening a blade.
“Okay, well then I shall have to find Stonehammer and Redclay and find out what they want, but without asking them. That would be suspicious.” – Tremor, finishing his drink.
“I’m going to go out too and see if I can find out anything more.” – Kel’Serrar, getting up.
“I’ll come too.” – Maebh, eager to get out of the enclosed room.

Tremor leaves the rest of his companions in their abode and heads off to meet with Harrick Stonehammer first, the godsman being the most ambiguous figure as far as the companions are concerned.

A bit like Yoda, the players sense that the grey-bearded Harrick, who hobbles around on a cane might be a case of disability fraud. He looks like a man who has been forced out of a sedentary life very swiftly, and is too old to adapt comfortably. That being said, he is probably a lot stronger than he looks.

Tremor finds the white robed godsman in a reclaimed dwelling built into the valley walls. Harrick invites him in to speak and the two sit down at a small stone table. A young dwarf sets down two tankards of ale and leaves the room.
“So what can I do for you?” – Harrick Stonehammer, setting his cane against the table. A golden medallion, the symbol of his office,hangs around his neck and gleams in the firelight emanating from the hearth.
“Firstly, thank you for the ale. Secondly, what can you tell me about the formation of the Resistance?” – Tremor, cutting straight to the point.
“Well, Ersun Blackbear was the first lord your brother moved against. After he was rooted out of Valewatch, Blackbear took to the forest, trusting to the density of the Valleywood to protect him. From there, your brother’s actions caused many to abandon their homes and join Blackbear in the forest. Of course, those of noble clans didn’t much care to be under Blackbear’s control, and so they declared an alliance rather than vassalage. Blackbear’s troops are outnumbered by the refugees from other keeps, so he had to accept.” – Harrick, providing a political summary.

“And the last month? What have you been doing?” – Tremor, taking another mouthful of ale.
“Well we’ve just been surviving. The Sons of Wyre are a large and savage mercenary company who have been smashing their way through these woods to find us. So far the Butcher’s men have been unsuccessful, but it is only a matter of time.” – Harrick, grim.

“The expense of maintaining such a large mercenary company for such a period of time would be substantial. How is Bain affording it?” – Tremor, pondering.
“The Blackhand Mines, near The Crag. The silver from those mines is more than enough to pay for their services.” – Harrick.

“So what is the plan for this meeting tonight?” – Tremor.
“Well figuring out what to do with you for starters. Half of us want to name you king. The other half wants to murder you!” – Harrick, with a laugh.
“Great.” – Tremor, finishing his ale.
“The fact is lad, you were banished on pain of death for murder. Now the truth of that is something I do not particularly need to hear, but that is the fact of the matter at hand. Now you have two options the way I see it.” – Harrick, pausing for a drink.

“Option number one, you make yourself invaluable to the lords of the Resistance as a general, which I daresay you have the capability to do so. You do that and there is a lesser risk of someone wanting to stab you in the back, although you run a far greater risk of someone ordering you to get stabbed in the front.” – Harrick, who takes another drink and then launches into his second option.

“Option number two, well that’s the tricky one. Come in and shake things up. Put forward your name as Konungr and do your own little forceful takeover. No one has the power to **** on you from a great height this way, but the downside is that you’ll make enemies doing it, something your dear brother has been learning for a while now.”- Harrick, chuckling before draining the last of his ale.

“So you’re saying I have a choice in the matter?” – Tremor, standing up to leave.
“Of course you do lad, and you have maybe an hour to decide which one you’re going with. Now off you go, I have some choices of my own to make.” – Harrick.

Because this scene only involved one player, I summarised it quite a bit in-session. In hindsight, this was a mistake so I have expanded it to include a monologue from Harrick Stonehammer which was actually delivered by me out of character. Hopefully it will help everyone understand the character just a little better. Unfortunately he came across as pretty bland and generic on the day.

The pavilion of Arald Redclay is a large and ornate affair, which Tremor approaches in his typically gruff way.
“Halt! Who seeks audience with Lord Arald Reclay?” – Doorward, a young Northmann clad in a heavy chain hauberk and holding a halberd.
“Tremor Ironfist, king of these lands. Let me in.” – Tremor.
“Oh… Well, I guess you can come in then.” – Doorward, totally out of his depth.

Tremor is let in and his first impression is that the man before him wishes dearly the chair he is seated upon was a throne. Arald Redclay is tall, but has none of the bulk usually associated with Northmenn. He is rakish and dark haired, handsome but darkly so. He gives the surly Dwergar a small smile.
“Well, Tremor Ironfist… To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?” – Arald Redclay.
“I need to know where you stand.” – Tremor.
“I’m sitting at the moment.” – Arald, the cutting response.
“Oh, so that’s how this is going to be.” – LD, laughing.
“What would it take to solidify your loyalty to me and the Resistance?” – Tremor, ignoring the jibe.
Arald is silent for a moment.
“Look, I want my city back. I want to be in a position that when I get my city back, I won’t be screwed by whoever is in charge and I want to get a good deal out of it.” – Arald, leaning forward.

“Sounds like a weasel.” – Ladyhawk.
“How so? He just wants what is rightfully his.” – Dev.
“He wants a good deal out of it. He wants what is his, and then wants to profit from the war. He’s a weasel.” – Ladyhawk.
“The way I see it, he wants what is his and he wants to do well out of that. If he wants to deal then he is willing to sacrifice, as long as he gets what he wants.” – Dev.
“As long as we don’t give him any dirt, that’s all I’m saying.” – Ladyhawk.
“I’ve got a jar of dirt, I’ve got a jar of dirt, and guess what’s inside it!” – Sins, singsong.

“If I make a play for The Crag, would you back that?” – Tremor.
“I would consider it. What would I get out of it?” – Arald.
“Well once we have The Crag we have a foothold and silver mines. We can use that to-“ – Tremor, to Arald’s wry grin.
“Ah, now that’s interesting. I want a cut of the mines.” – Arald.
“Course he does.” – Delphi.
“Help me get into power and I will see what I can do.” – Tremor.
“You expect me to hang my support on that? I couldn’t even hang my coat on it. I need something a little more solid than that. The fate of a kingdom and a rebellion hang in the balance and you are going to, ‘See what you can do?’ I don’t think so.” – Arald, laughing blackly.

“The mines belong to the Grimstones don’t they? Or are they just the mines under The Crag?” – Ladyhawk.
“The mines under The Crag do belong to the Grimstones, but these particular mines are outside the keep and belong to the Blackhand family, hence the name.”
“I have an idea. Why not use the mines as incentive for the lords to back you? Split ownership four ways. One part for each of the lords, the last for yourself.” – Dev.
“That means eradicating the Blackhands.” – Sins.
“That’s fine.” – Wings.
“Well ****.” – Ladyhawk.
“They’ve supported my brother for however long, providing silver for his mercenary armies. I don’t really care if we have to kill them all.” – Wings.
“Look at it this way though. Blackbear was the first to rise against your brother and he was the lord of an entire keep. He got smashed and his family executed right in front of him. These people are presumably not as powerful as Blackbear, but they don’t want that happening to them. They might not be evil, so to speak, just scared. That’s how regimes like this work.” – Ladyhawk.
“Fair enough, but it’s not in my race’s nature to think like that, let alone my character’s.” – Wings.

“You’ll get your cut Redclay. I’ll see you tonight and expect your support.” – Tremor.
Redclay inclines his head, and the Dwergar is ushered out.

Kel’Serrar and Maebh don’t exactly find anything else useful, but do enjoy their opportunity to get out from under the stone ceiling. They head back in when Tremor appears and the companions prepare themselves for the council meeting. Barandin comes to collect everyone, his armour polished to a high shine.

For their part, only Harold and Aeva have changed into gear more befitting the retinue of royalty, although this is probably because they are the only party members with a change of clothes. At least they did take the opportunity to bathe and clean themselves up a bit.

Before they leave, they have one more chat.
“So, Tremor, have you given any more thought to how you’re going to approach this? A lot rides on this meeting going smoothly cousin.” – Barandin.
“Well then, what does everyone think? Assert myself, or be subservient?” – Tremor.
“If it were me-“ – Maebh.
“We know what you would do. Anything that moves, you’d fireball it.” – Harold.
“I would bully them into submission.” – Maebh, ignoring the interruption.
“Aeva?” – Tremor.
“I’d assert myself. From what I can tell, dominance is key among your people.” – Aeva.
“Clan chiefs assassinate officials, kings assassinate clans.” – Kel’Serrar, being all mysterious again.
“Well it would seem that asserting yourself is the prevailing opinion, but I’m not sure if that’s the best plan just yet. I mean assert yourself to a point, and claim the kingship, but make sure that they know that you’re willing to make compromises to make the rebellion work.” – Harold.
“You can’t let them walk all over you though.” – Maebh.
“I’d listen to other people’s opinions though. You can see what they want and act on it.” – Aeva.
“You can assert yourself without being a **** though, that’s all I’m saying.” – Maebh.
“Breanna?” – Tremor, who notices the Leathe about to say something.
“Pretty much what Maebh said. Be assertive, not a ****.” – Breanna.
“You need to listen to what people have to contribute and then take that on, but the final decision should be yours, because if you let them determine the way all the time then you end up being their hound. And if you are the hound, then we are in serious trouble.” – Maebh. 
“Be assertive, but not necessarily authoritative.” – Kel’Serrar.

* * *

Harrick Stonehammer convenes the meeting in a high-ceilinged chamber carved out from within the valley wall. A large stone table takes up the middle of the room. Around it sit the three other lords of the Resistance, with Harrick standing at one end. Behind the lords stand their retinues, bodyguards standing with weapons ready for their lords.

This leaves a number of spare seats, which Tremor, Maebh and Harold sink into gratefully, the Danann on Tremor’s left and Harold on his right.
“I’m a noble, **** ‘em.” – Dev.
“I’m the leader of this party, **** ‘em all.” – Ladyhawk.
“So three seated, the other three standing?”
“I’m missing. I’m just part of the crowd…” – Sins, mysteriously.
“You serious?”
“Why did you let him get that power? We hate you for it.” – Dev, to me.
“Because it’s useful.” – Sins.
“Yeah, but you don’t use the power for what it’s useful for! You just use it to screw with us!” – LD, laughing.
“That is what it is useful for…” – Sins.

“Moving on, I’m going to have to introduce you two before they kick you out.” – Wings, to Ladyhawk and Dev.
“It’s simple, leader of a band of mercenaries and raving lunatic dog-man.” – Sins, gesturing to Ladyhawk and Dev respectively.

“We need to discuss now where to strike. So far we’ve managed to avoid detection, but our luck cannot hold. We can’t remain on the defensive forever. As most of you know, our scouts do fine work killing any of the forces in the forest who come close to us, but every skirmish we have paints a clearer picture for Bain as to just where we are hiding.

Our agents are spread across Nordtarnet too. They are few, and only the most canny have survived this long.” – Harrick Stonehammer, addressing the gathering.

The companions get the feeling that most of that was for their benefit. Stonehammer sits down, and Ersun Blackbear stands and begins pacing around the room.

“I am descended from the lords of Valewatch, a mighty line which stretches back further than those most of the folk who are in this room. The blood which flows through my veins has ruled the Valleywood since time immemorial. Lord’s Ridge was built when my grandfather ruled in Valewatch. The first Stonehammer was a mason in the employ of my great-great grandfather. By the blood of my ancestors, my blood, have your families been able to prosper, growing rich off the trade of the Iceflow, or leeching gold in taxes from the mines. It is my blood which has been spilt to get this Resistance where it is today! And I request, no, I demand, that I be recompensed for it! Valewatch is mine, and I want it back!” – Ersun Blackbear, impassioned.

Harrick Stonehammer rolls his eyes. He has heard this before. Freida Grimstone then stands.

“And have not we sacrificed too? My father, from a line at least as old and storied as your own, languishes in the depths of his own dungeon. A dungeon beneath the most heavily fortified keep in these lands, save perhaps for Nordtarnet Fortress now that Ironfist has been working on it for years. We have bled too, but unlike Valewatch, Ersun, The Crag has a legitimate use for the Resistance as a stronghold. The Crag could weather a storm the likes of which would reduce Valewatch to ash. And that is where we must strike, to retake my home, liberate my father and then use The Crag as our own stronghold, where we need not hide, but instead launch our own attacks. And while we are at it, we’ll kill that bastard, Bain.” – Freida Grimstone.

Arald Redclay, lounging in his own stone chair does not stand.

“Naturally, I want my own home back. Lord’s Ridge would be valuable to the Resistance, but I understand that it is not viable as of yet. So therefore, on the condition that Lord’s Ridge will be considered a high priority, I throw my support behind Tremor Ironfist.” – Arald Redclay, with a wry smirk.

And that sets the crowd muttering. Neither Grimstone nor Blackbear look particularly happy with this turn of events, and all the retinues start to chatter amongst themselves.
“Traitor to his own kind, turning to a Northmann before his kin.” – One Dwergar near where Kel’Serrar stands disguised, not quite under his breath.
“How could he trust such a snake to hold to his agreement?” – Another Dwergar near Kel’Serrar.

“Quiet! Now we come to the other matter we must discuss. What to do, with Tremor Ironfist… In fact, why don’t you speak now Tremor? Lay your case before the council. What would you do if granted the mantle of kingship?” – Harrick Stonehammer.
“By the blood of my father, I am the rightful heir. I will personally see you all restored to your rightful positions and see that you are well compensated for your losses.” – Tremor.
This is met with general approval, with Redclay smirking in his chair. Blackbear stands once more, adding all of an inch to his height.
“But what will you do first? That is all well and good for a long-term plan, but what will you do now?” – Ersun Blackbear.
“I believe that The Crag should be our first point of attack, to liberate the Blackhand Mines, free Lord Grimstone and most importantly for me, my sister, who is currently there and by reports, being forced into an unwanted marriage. Once we have The Crag and the mines under and around it, we have a stronghold to strike from and access to the river.” – Tremor.

“That gives us mobility and the choice to be able to go south and strike from the river. We would be able to use the Iceflow to our advantage.” – Harold, who is given stern looks from the gathering.
“Ironfist, control your servant, please.” – Freida Grimstone.
“I am no servant! I am Harold Oakenshield, a reaver lord of Varr and a friend and ally of Lord Ironfist here. Do not mistake me for a mere swordbearer.” – Harold, angrily.

That cows the councillors enough for to allow him to speak, but Blackbear immediately jumps back onto attacking Tremor’s plans.

“The Crag is the most heavily defended fortress in these lands. How do you plan on taking a fortress built into the side of a mountain with the pathetic force at your disposal? Because I assure you, none of my troops will be joining you on this hare-brained scheme.” – Ersun Blackbear, incredulous.
“Using the abilities of my companions, I will take it using only a small number of men. We will be able to mount a surprise assault which I believe will be effective in gaining control.” – Tremor.
Blackbear grumbles and sits back down, for now cowed into submission.

"I still say that Valewatch should be our first target." - Ersun Blackbear, grumbling to himself.
"Valewatch will be our second target then. Once taken, you can keep forces coming from Borsa in the west busy while we take Lord's Ridge." - Tremor, suggesting an alternative.
Blackbear offers no more dissent.

As an aside, no one has any luck with pronouncing The Crag. The damned thing has around seven different names, including The Craig, which led to a picture of a mountain with a smiley face. LD suggests referring to it as the 'Big C.'

The council meeting has been a relative success. The companions have hardly made many friends, but at least for now all four lords are willing to work with them. Redclay and Grimstone both stand to directly gain from the immediate course of action and Stonehammer seems happy with the plan for a swift strike. Only Blackbear is put out by it all, but he is mollified for now. Of course part of that is due to him not seeing how Ironfist could be successful in taking The Crag, but obviously he hasn’t dealt with this band of lunatics before, or he would never doubt the outcome.

Discussion turns to the number and disposition of available troops.

I will briefly go into numbers here.
Blackbear - 200 skilled and heavily armed light infantry.
Grimstone - 300 levied and well-equipped heavy infantry.
Redclay - 400 levied and poorly equipped peasants and less than 50 archers and hunters.

The Valewatch dwarves are lightly armoured woodsmen armed with an assortment of axes, spears and swords.
The Crag dwarves are heavily armoured levies, armed with pikes and shields.
The Lord's Ridge Northmenn are poorly equipped with spears and shields. The hunters have an assortment of bows, crossbows and knives.

There are no magic users of note in the Resistance, although Dev does remind everyone that the Mountain Finches can be called upon to provide skilled archers.

I've condensed most of the planning process here for ease of reading because the conversation was hard enough to follow in person, let alone over the recording.

Delphi pointed out her ability to talk to animals, which led to discussing the weaponisation of the ability. As The Crag is within a mountain, that restricts the possible animals, but in the end that doesn't end up affecting Delphi's plan negatively...

The plan Tremor outlines meets with approving nods. There is a definite lack of belief around the table, but none are willing to gainsay the impassioned Tremor.

* * *

I’m going to try something new with this battle. Because it is such a huge set-piece battle, I’m going to include somewhat of a later historian’s account. Let me know what you think.

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“It is the Thirteenth day of Sevenmonth,1648 CE when the party of Andin Grey-Hammer, a minor noble of Nordtarnet, entered The Crag through the southern gate. Though unnoticed on the day, a kite-hawk flew overhead through the great doors too. This would prove significant in the days to come…”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

Upon entering the mountain fortress, Aeva swiftly finds that flying underground with no thermals is very tiring and lands somewhere inconspicuous. Moments later, a small black and white cat with piercing blue eyes emerges from the shadows, heading directly for the barracks.

“The garrison of The Crag was made up of approximately 2000 heavy infantry, loyal to the Bloodaxe and Windrider clans. These troops were very well-equipped, but unlike the usual standing forces of The Crag, not especially experienced. This is due to Bain Ironfist calling upon the mountain fortress to provide forces to put down a small insurrection in the south and further fortify Nordtarnet Fortress.

This led to a drafting of troops in The Crag, which resulted in a large number of inexperienced soldiers guarding the fortress at the time of the battle…”

- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

Spoiler: Bat-**** Insanity (click to show/hide)
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“The Crag is an underground fortress of three habitable levels, built into the very rock of the Blackspine Mountains. Alongside the Iceflow River and beneath the edge of the mountain, sits the dock and a thriving market district. A short, beautifully carved tunnel leads to the city proper, a craftsman’s district and packed residential area and wide main streets, all of which lead a courtyard of white marble. In the centre of the courtyard sits a running fountain, a wonder of architecture fed by the Iceflow River. Before the fountain lies the palace of the Windriders, a massive structure, heavily fortified and draped with the black banners of the Windrider clan. The palace is so large it spans the habitable levels of the fortress.

Beneath it all lay the Grimstone Mines, a winding labyrinth, the supports in some places centuries old. The main products of the mines are silver, copper and iron, but the volcanic nature of the Blackspine Mountains have led to the discovery of diamonds deep in the rock.

The gates, though heavily fortified and solid stone, reinforced with iron, are not defended by siege weapons. This however is due to the fact that they are not required. The construction of the walls was devised in such a way as to prevent any from storming the walls, with only a slit high enough for a crossbowman on the ramparts to aim at approaching enemies. This also affords practical invulnerability to conventional ranged weaponry to the wall’s defenders.

The only way in would be to break the gates, thick stone which is operated by an ingenious device utilising the power of the Iceflow River itself. In previous times of strife, those inside would simply shut the gates and let the harsh conditions of the Blackspine defeat the besieging force for them. The proximity of the Iceflow River precludes any attempts to starve the defenders out, and the wealth of the rulers of The Crag allowed them to buy off any credible threats if necessary.

Until 1648, The Crag had never been in serious danger of being taken…”

- From The Wayfarer’s Companion: The Crag
“We are screwed… Let’s just get on with the plan…” – Dev.
“This is not a plan, this is a bat-astrophe.” – Sins.

Aeva, the small black and white cat, snoops around the city for the afternoon, taking in all the information she can on troop numbers and deployments, defences, alarm systems and strategic targets. All the while, a plan is formulating in her mind…

“As an underground fortress, the risk of cave-ins and other dangerous events was very high, despite the meticulous attention to detail of Dwergar craftsmen and miners. Small silver bells on iron posts lined the main streets, to be rung in times of emergency. This would attract runners to the site, who would take a message to the appropriate authorities, be that the guards or commander of the fortress…”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

Breanna
Meanwhile, miles away, Breanna Blackrose has been engaged in soliciting aid from the Mountain Finches. They send her what few troops they can afford, what with the Sons of Wyre attacking them. Forty Leathe archers join the Resistance, to be led by Maebh Preachain-Eite in the siege.

Breanna notes that while the chief, Caober Snowtail is happy to lend the aid of his warriors, his brother, the shaman, Merrt, is less keen. He stands, scowling unpleasantly through the proceedings, and offers only the barest civility to Breanna throughout.
“Bitch please, I’m a psychotic, knife-wielding, daemon-strangling, magic-casting sociopath with a pet wolf. I will murder you.” – LD, summing up Breanna pretty well.

Aeva
The small cat enters the mines beneath The Crag, searching for a colony of bats. Upon finding them, she implores them to do her bidding.

And she is successful…
“To give everyone an idea of what just happened here-“
“You convince them to do your dirty business.” – Wings, to Delphi.
“A cute little black and white cat nonchalantly strolls through the underground fortress and mines, eventually coming to a massive cavern. Hanging from the ceiling are some gigantic bats, some with a wingspan of more than six feet… ‘Mraow!’ And the human part of your mind can understand it to some extent, and basically the bats are saying, ‘But it’s still day time, don’t get me up!’ but you persevere, and eventually through your cat-speak, and I can’t believe the words are coming out of me mouth.”
“Just imagine writing this later.” – LD, gleefully.
“I know, but I already managed the anthropomorphic turnip without throwing the computer away in disgust. How bad can this get?” – In hindsight, I shouldn’t have said this. Sins and Delphi took it as a challenge.

A storm of bats leave their cavern, ripping up into the upper levels of The Craig, The Creg, The Big C, and they let the Big C fly. They just let it rip.
“Essentially carpet-bombing the city?” – Wings.
It is indiscriminate fire, and it gets everywhere.
As an aside have you ever tried to get bat-**** off something, like your car? It’s awful, the stuff is stuck on there for weeks no matter how hard you try, and leaves a nasty orange kind of stain.
“So basically the cat went in, asked for help and the bats went, ‘Well, ****, eh?’” – Sins.
“Look at this, Delphi has been here for one session and the campaign’s already gone to ****.”
“Fear me, I’m scary!” – Delphi, who is starting to warrant the fear.
“Isn’t guano flammable?” – Dev.
“Now I know most crap is, but I’m not sure. It’s worth having a look.” – Looking up the flammability of guano on Google.
“What I love about this, is that now guano is in his search history.” – Sins.
“Well, would you look at that, guano was used historically in explosives due to its high nitrogen content.”
And so originated the plan to blow up parts of the city with fire and guano.

The cat wanders off with a smug little grin on her furry face, job done for the night. After all, she’s managed to convince the bats to continue their strafing run every night. The bats return to their roost, considerably lighter. Aeva has been so successful, that the bats may even continue their mission after the next three nights, as they actually rather enjoyed it.

So now The Crag is covered in ****, and explosive **** at that.

Back soon guys,

And here we are again. :smallsmile:

“Thanks to the unorthodox tactics of The Resistance, the defenders of The Crag found themselves in a poor position to combat the coming siege…”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict
“Have we forced the surrender yet? Can we rock up to the gates, ‘Do you want the **** to stop?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Then open your gates and surrender!’” – Dev.
“We will turn your water to blood and your skies to ****.”
“This got really out of hand, really quickly…” – Delphi.
“This is a high level campaign now…”
“I don’t think the problem here is what is coming out of hand, but rather what is coming out of other places…” – Sins.

“The plans of the Resistance required the presence of a handful of insurgents already on the inside by the time of the storm …”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

Kel’Serrar is able to change the appearance of Tremor, Breanna and a few Resistance fighters, getting them into the city as part of a refugee party. The disguise only lasts a few hours, but that is all that is needed for the two companions and their small party of dwarves to get in. Once inside, Tremor and Breanna focus on just staying out of sight. They are joined shortly by Aeva, who tracks them down by scent. She then changes her form into the shape of a hawk and sits upon Tremor’s shoulder.

Then they wait for the dawn of the third day, the time that the assault is scheduled to begin.

* * *

“Historians disagree on just what caused the devastation at the West Gate of The Crag on the morning of the Seventeenth day of Sevenmonth. Eyewitness accounts from the battle there, report a single mage raining death and destruction, while others suggest a small force of elite archers laid waste to the fortifications. Naturally these reports must be taken with some degree of scepticism, as the damage wrought upon the West Gate appears far too extensive to be the work of a single mage…”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

A single figure, clad in grey wool and brown leathers, a black wolf-fur coat and a deep hood shrouding her features approaches the West Gate, nothing but a spear in hand.
“Halt! Who goes there!?” – Commander of the West Gate.
Above, the grey sky darkens, storm clouds scudding across the dawn.
And the hidden Mountain Finch archers take that opportunity to loose their arrows.

That first volley of arrows is terrifying to the inexperienced troops defending The Crag and they take cover as quickly as they can from their unseen assailants. The rock walls of the mountain fortress afford them great protection, and only very few arrows find their target from such range.

But that wasn’t the goal of the volley.

As soon as the last arrow pings off the stone, Maebh hurls a golden lightning bolt from the sky, pounding the entire mountain with her fury. And this continues for an entire hour, over ninety bolts of lightning smashing the western walls with the force of a god. Between each lightning bolt, the Leathe archers, which have run much closer to the walls, shoot at any guard who raises their head above the parapet.

After an hour of this, the gates are a blackened and cracked mess, the heat of the constant lightning bolts having melted the very rock in places. Some few lightning bolts were directed at the gap in the wall, frying any guards there. Burnt and crispy bodies are strewn across the top of the wall, lying atop shattered stone. By the end of the hour, all the surviving guards have left the immediate area.
“Those guardsmen were just trying to feed their families! How do you feel now?” – Dev, trying to make Ladyhawk feel bad.
“Hehehehe” – Ladyhawk, chuckling.
“She feels like frying a few more and their families.” – LD.

The silver bells are not rung, but then the golden lightning storm raging outside for an hour is hard to miss.

No casualties are recorded by the Resistance among the Mountain Finches. They help the drained Maebh away from the field to rest.

* * *

“The constant warfare to the south and skirmishes and raids in the Valleywood and the foothills of the Blackspine led to a constant influx of refugees into The Crag. Tremor Ironfist’s insurgents used this to their advantage, hiding amongst the refugees and taking shelter in one of the hastily erected shacks in the refugee districts…”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

Breanna, Tremor and Aeva:
Outside the little shack the companions have taken over for their own personal use, a runner can be seen. He is clad in very light clothing, despite the chilly weather, and is easy to tell apart from the crowd by both his blue uniform and his short, trimmed beard. He stops at a bell and rings it quickly before running on again.

“As soon as he reaches the Palace, he’s going to blow the Great Horn. And once that happens, the garrison will be in full force.” – Tremor.
“So, we need to take him out?” – Breanna, readying her knives.
“No, we want them leaving the barracks and South Gate as much as possible. Maebh’s attack is only a diversion. No, we just need to delay him while we cut down the bells.” – Tremor.

“I could swoop him, and dent his skull. Ca-caw!” – Delphi.
“Bird Attack Simulator…” – Dev.
“I’d buy that.” – It’s true, I certainly would.
“I should have picked goat as one of my animals.” – Delphi.
“I want the Goat Simulator too.” – Again, the truth.
“I have it on Steam. It’s greatly entertaining, but after a couple of hours your start to question what you’re doing with your life.” – Delphi.

“Anyway, back to the runner, what are you going to do?”
“… I’m going to poop on him.” – Delphi.
“Yeah?”
“Why not?” – Delphi.
“Why not indeed. Okay, Ballistic Skill Check, see if you hit.”
“You’re going to have her roll for this?” – Dev, astonished.
“Of course, have to see if she hits. It’s not easy. Seagulls get a bonus.”
“What about pigeons?” – Dev.
“Rapid fire, you get two shots.”

A strange kite-hawk flies overhead, the shadow (Don’t forget those windows in the mountain letting air and light in. See, not an error!) of which passes over the runner’s head. He looks up.

That was his first mistake. The poor dwarf had already lost a hand in a torch and guano-fuelled explosion, and now has to struggle to wipe the raptor excrement from his face. He gags and retches, before continuing his trip.

Trying to keep out of sight, the insurgents break cover, sprinting up and down the main streets and cutting the clappers from the bells. Tremor and Breanna observe the process, swiftly joined by Aeva who takes her now customary position, perched on Tremor’s shoulder.

And then they hear the horn-blast, three great long notes which ring throughout the mountain, calling the garrison to muster at the West Gate. Within minutes, guards are stirring in the barracks, forming up on the main street and in the courtyard just inside the South Gate.

To get to the West Gate, those troops must pass the insurgents on the road, catching them in the act of cutting down the last of the bells. Over two hundred heavy infantry are now converging on the approximately thirty insurgents, the others making for the West Gate as fast as they can.
“What are you fellows doing?” – A guardsman.
One of Tremor’s dwarves takes the initiative and knifes him before his shouting draws more attention, but it is too late. Too many have seen the insurgents at their clandestine work.
“Aeva, I need you to tell Harold and Kel to be ready.” – Tremor, quietly to Aeva.
The kite-hawk takes to the air and perches on the roof of a house overlooking the battle at the gate as Tremor and Breanna wade into the scrape.
“You two need to be ready. We’re in the process of clearing you a path, but things are getting a bit bloody in here.” – Aeva’s Whispering Wind to Harold and Kel’Serrar.

Harold and Kel’Serrar:
 “Can you see any crossbowmen or bolt throwers on the walls?” – Harold, to Kel’Serrar.
The two companions stand side by side outside the South Gate, at the head of a force three hundred strong, made up of dwarves loyal to Freida Grimstone and Northmenn loyal to Arald Redclay.
“No, there doesn’t look like there’s anyone up there anymore.” – Kel’Serrar. Truly, the guards on the South Wall left it when the Great Horn rang.
“Let’s look at scaling it then, if we can.” – Harold, hoping his forces can squeeze their way through the tiny gap at the top of the wall.
“We have so many dwarves, are you sure we can’t just throw them at the gates until they crack open?” – Dev.
“These gates make Minas Tirith’s look like papier-mache.”
“You underestimate the number of dwarves we have.” – Sins.

Breanna, Tremor and Aeva:
Breanna darts through the fray, knives flashing. She takes three guards down in a matter of seconds and Tremor follows her, putting down another two. Aeva flies down once more, perching on Tremor’s shoulder and hits a half-score of the guards with a snare.
“I’ve only got them for a few moments.” – Aeva, straining with the effort.
Naturally, one second Breanna stands beside Tremor, grinning at the carnage. The next, she is happily dancing through her helpless foes. Nine guards fall, lifeless, to the ground, leaving only one for Tremor to cut down.

The other insurgents take heart at this and surge forward, hacking and stabbing at the bewildered guards. Almost fifty of the defenders have died in the last minute, the companions and their strike force having taken a horrible toll in lives.
“Caw caw mother****ers.” – Delphi.
Aeva unleashes another blast of paralysing magic, catching another half-score in the snare, which Breanna butchers mercilessly. A handful of the insurgents dart into the gatehouse to open the gates for Harold and Kel’Serrar outside, while the rest hold off the rest of the guards with Tremor, Breanna and Aeva.

Harold and Kel’Serrar:
Observing the efforts of the erstwhile climbers gives the two companions a bit of a laugh. Of the many grappling hooks which are thrown, only a small handful manages to cling to the ramparts. By the time the ropes are secured and the climbers ready to ascend, the great gates have begun to slowly grind open. Most of the troops drop the ropes, readying themselves to charge into The Crag and the teeth of their enemy, although two dwarves stubbornly decide that they are halfway up, they might as well continue, and keep climbing.


The arrival of the Grimstone and Redclay reinforcements under Harold and Kel’Serrar break the defenders and they flee to the east, to the docks. Unfortunately, at least half of the original insurgents have fallen.

Tremor wanders from corpse to corpse, imbuing a handful of them with unholy life. The undead creatures gather up body parts left over from Breanna’s rampage, creating a small menagerie of awful, awful creations, a hand with only a head attached here, a torso with two sets of arms and a partially severed head there. All of them clearly want to eat Tremor and his friends, but they are too firmly bound by the engineer’s will. He directs them after the fleeing guards and towards the tunnel leading to the docks, stalking after them with a horrified, but intrigued, Aeva on his shoulder.

The Dwergar of the Resistance generally turn a blind eye to the desecration of dwarf-kind Tremor is perpetrating here. As it happens, Dwergar aren’t really against Black Magic, not like Midlanders are for instance. It just makes you a bit like Uncle Mort. Redclay’s Northmenn are horrified, but no one really cares about them anyway, right?

Breanna, Harold and Tremor:
The three companions, after watching Tremor stalk away with his vile creations, decide to take advantage of the guano everywhere, particularly its explosive potential. They head directly to the richest houses they can find, a district just outside the Windrider Palace. And then they do their best to level the place, cracking stone buildings with exploding bat-****.
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The companions efforts lead to the noble district going down in a shower of rock-dust and a massive flaming bat-fart. The section of the mines beneath the district has been caved in. In fact, part of the third level has been deposited in the mines.
“Operation Burn-ination has been a success.”

Tremor and Aeva:
Tremor, having chased the fleeing guardsmen into the markets alongside the docks, has a brilliant idea. Watching the routed guards from the South Gate join up with the, as yet fully-manned, Dock Guards, he sets his undead monstrosities in a line stretching across the access tunnel between the docks and the city proper, and starts to draw on even more Black Magic.
“What are you doing?” – Aeva, concerned.
Tremor doesn’t reply, but a moment later the answer becomes clear.
The corpses explode with a blast of sickly green light. The explosions are not prodigious, but are more than enough to cause the tunnel to cave in, separating the main body of the remaining guards from the rest of the fortress.
“There, that will take hours, if not days without the proper equipment.” – Tremor, to Aeva.
“Weren’t we planning to take this place over?” – Delphi.
“Yeah, that was the plan.” – Wings.
“Then why are we blowing it to ****?” – Delphi.
“New plan.” – LD.
“Us doing this is retaliation for completing a quest without killing anybody.” – Sins.
“You kidding me? You finish a quest without killing someone, and your compensation is, ‘**** people, let’s kill a goddamn mountain?’”

“The commander of the Crag at the time of the battle was Orrin Windrider, a former comrade of Tremor Ironfist in the Nordtarnet Border Wars with Rivervind in 1638 CE. HIs subordinates were Leeroy Bloodaxe, captain of the guard and Edrik Blackhand, head of that clan, who was married to Marya Ironfist in exchange for the use of the Blackhand Mines…”
- From The Definitive Guide to the Ironfist Conflict

Breanna, Harold and Tremor:
Having caused a fair bit of destruction, the three companions approach the Windrider Palace. Their forces have set up a number of chokepoints on the main street to head off any defenders returning from the West Gate to relieve those within the palace, leaving only the three companions to face off against the lords of The Crag and their retainers. Coming out of the front doors is a party of grim, heavily built and well-equipped dwarves, a lord and his huscarls.
“My name is Harold Oakenshield, and we have just finished blowing up your nobles’ district and setting fire to stone. Lay down your arms and surrender.” – Harold, trying to Intimidate them into backing down.
The idea of a vicious pirate-viking type with the technical know-how to set fire to stone is pretty terrifying, and the huscarls look like they might be wavering but their lord’s voice steadies them.
“Set fire to stone says you? Set fire to MY stone says I! We do not surrender to the likes of you.” – Lord Leeroy Bloodaxe.

Spoiler: Naming NPC’s: (click to show/hide)
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The heavily muscled, red-bearded Dwergar charges forward with his greataxe, trading blows with Harold for a moment before Kel’Serrar blows his head off with a Flaming Arrow.

Breanna, carving knife in hand whirls into action, slamming it into a huscarl’s arm. He swipes at the Leathe in retaliation, but fails to connect and the Leathe leaps back.

“Your lord is decapitated! Do you wish to be decapitated too?” -  Harold, attempting to intimidate the huscarls once more. They bunch up, shields out and weapons brandished, but these are the very elites of the Bloodaxe clan. They are well-equipped, highly disciplined heavy infantry and will not be cowed easily.
"Seriously, throw down your arms!" - Harold, desperately pleading with them not to sacrifice themselves.
They refuse and Kel'Serrar looses another arrow, which blows off a huscarl's arm. A moment later, Breanna dances back into the fray, whipping her blade across the throat of the huscarl she injured earlier.
And then Tremor steps forward, having made his way to the scene, putting himself directly in harm's way. Behind him, Aeva settles herself on Harold's shoulder, and watches the face-off.
 "I am Tremor Ironfist, the rightful king of Nordtarnet. Lay down your arms, or lay down your lives." - Tremor, meeting the eyes of the remaining huscarls.

The huscarls have not had a great week. They've had to deal with all the guano everywhere for starters. Then the early morning assault has had the entire fortress on guard. Then they failed in their duty and had their lord decapitated in front of them. And now they are being told that they aren't even fighting for the rightful king.

They drop their weapons, save one, who fancies the idea of being a regicide.
"Death to the pretender!" - Huscarl, who hacks at Tremor's right arm with his axe.
The blade bites into Tremor's chain hauberk sleeve, inflicting a nasty flesh wound. Aeva flies at the huscarl in an attempt at retaliation, but her talons just scrabble at the huscarl's steel helm.

"Dev, you're up."
"Meh, I'll just put my sword through him." - Dev, preparing to roll.
"You've got Deathsword and these huscarls have a lower Combat Skill than you do. You could potentially put a sword through all of them."
"Yeah, but..." - Dev.
"But they've surrendered? Hasn't stopped you in the past mate. Look, their weapons are right in front of them. They might pick them up and attack. Better safe than sorry."

Harold's sabre punches through the huscarl's chest and the dwarf slips to the ground.

And so Clan Bloodaxe is no longer an issue for the attackers. Their lord's head has exploded, along with their ancestral home, thanks to guano. The remaining huscarls are taken into custody by the invading forces, and the companions make their way up the stairs to the palace. Before they go, Tremor questions the huscarls.
“Windrider, Blackhand and my sister. Where are they?” – Tremor, ready to move out.
“Edrik Blackhand was supervising the mines. Lord Windrider is in the palace, with Marya.” – Vanquished huscarl.


Once the huscarls are taken away, Tremor quickly consults with his companions.
“Which way do we go?” – Tremor.
“Blackhand may have died in the cave in for all we know. Even if he didn’t, it could take days to get in there to find out.” – Harold.
“The Palace, now. We can’t afford to let Windrider escape either.” – Kel’Serrar.

They walk up the stairs at the front of the palace wary of attack. Tremor leads them, Aeva having taken a moment to pad his ripped arm with bandages before resting as a kite-hawk back on his other shoulder. Harold comes next, sabre in hand, Breanna and Kel’Serrar flanking him with blades and bow ready. Maebh has entered The Crag with the reserve forces, overseeing the mop-up of the remaining defenders. She is slowly making her way to the Windrider Palace, but will not get there by the time the other companions have entered.

We had a short break here as Ladyhawk presented us with some seriously spiffy headgear. Unfortunately, she was not feeling too flash on the day and had to go lie down at a few points. To her credit though, she really did try to contribute where she could, and once back at the table, took her character’s absence as an opportunity to help build some player camaraderie.

Hence the crowns.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I took the opportunity to explain how the Mesmer spell, Cruel Disappointment works.
“Basically you believe you pass any Checks you might be called on to make for a short period of time. Even if you failed. Which can lead to all sorts of hilarious situations like you thinking you are murdering your bastard half-brother, but then you snap back to reality and realise you have been stabbing yourself in the leg for the last minute and a half and your half-brother is over in the corner laughing at you.”

Honestly, I can’t wait for Sins or Delphi to take that one. It should be great.[/color]

Upon entering the palace, the companions storm down a long, richly decorated hallway. But they spend no time taking it in as they are intent upon their prize. Before them is another doorway, which Harold busts open, revealing an entrance hall and throne room.

It is empty.

"It's a trap." - Delphi.

The throne room has two more doorways, one on either side. Tremor, Aeva and Breanna take the left doorway and Harold and Kel'Serrar the other.

Harold and Kel'Serrar:
Before the two companions stretches a long hallway, with rooms off to either side. It appears to be a guest wing or perhaps servants quarters.

Tremor, Aeva and Breanna:
The companions open the door and reveal a dining hall, with a high table for the lord of the hall on the right. Straight ahead, a lit hearth, the flames flickering fitfully. Someone has been here recently. To their left, three long dining tables, bare of everything save candlesticks, which are probably lit for feasts and other stately events. Beyond the tables, a closed wooden door.

The companions approach the door, Tremor first with Aeva on his shoulder, Breanna trailing them. The Dwergar pushes it open and reveals a large, cavernous room, tapestries and ancient weaponry decorating the walls.

And there, standing in the middle of the room is Orrin Windrider, looking much the same as Tremor remembers him, clad in his ancestral plate armour. Around him, ten huscarls, heavily armed and armoured. Beside them, a single grey-robed Dwergar, surrounded by a glowing nimbus of lightning.

“Found the bastard!” – Tremor, to Harold and Kel’Serrar.
“Ironfist! What are you doing here?” – Windrider, who doesn’t seem to view Tremor as much of a friend anymore.
“Reclaiming my throne.” – Tremor.
“Get out Ironfist, this is my throne.” – Windrider.
“Not for long.” – Tremor, hefting his greatsword.

Windrider throws himself at Tremor, flaming axe and rune-inscribed shield clenched in his meaty fists. Tremor rolls away from the strike, Aeva fluttering a little to retain her seat.

The Dwergar mage flings lightning at Breanna, but the Leathe is able to shrug it off with a pained groan.
“My God, you would be the biggest puff-ball ever.” – Ladyhawk.
“I am the Fluffy Queen of Death.” – LD.

Harold bursts through the doorway, having been alerted by Tremor’s shout and engages the huscarls with his blades. He holds most of them off from his companions, but one manages to sneak through and take a swing at Breanna, who flips out of the way.

Tremor takes a quick glance at Windrider’s shield and identifies the runes upon it as ones of protection. Doing so gives him an idea, and he activates the Silver Arrow runes on his greatsword, flinging streams of molten silver at Windrider and a couple of huscarls. One guard gets his shield up in time, the other gives a hoarse scream as the molten metal seeps into the gaps of his armour.

But the three molten darts which slip through the air towards Windrider are ineffective as the runes on the lord’s shield blaze with a cold blue light. Wards appear etched in the air before him, and the magical silver is sucked into it, brightening the cold light of the runes.

Kel’Serrar stands by the doorway and nocks an arrow, taking careful aim across the room at the mage…

Breanna meanwhile dances back into the fray, knife flashing in her attempt to shank him in the kneecap. Blood spurts as she withdraws her knife, but the huscarl doesn’t fall.

From her vantage point on Tremor’s shoulder, Aeva is able to catch most of the enemy force in her Magical Snare, though Windrider, the mage, the huscarl facing Breanna and two of the huscarls facing Harold resist the effects.

And then the back wall explodes in a blast of flame, chunks of stone flying out, threatening to crush the combatants in the room. Maebh strides in, looking haggard and worn, but her hands are blazing with arcane power. She stretches herself to the limit of what is safe and with a flash of light, a handful of golden blades materialise around the Dwergar mage, eviscerating him completely.
“I thought I would still be needed.” – Maebh, quietly.
The Danann slumps against the wall, exhausted by the sheer weight of arcane destruction she has caused today.

Windrider throws himself at Tremor again, axe blazing through the air. It is met by Tremor’s blade, which rings, but holds steady.

Harold carves his way through the huscarls, blades flashing as he whirls his way into the dwarves. Only one survives his assault, backing away steadily from the Invarrian’s bloodbath. Carried by the momentum, Harold strikes at Windrider too, but the runes upon the lord’s shield flare into life once more, protecting him from the Invarrian’s vengeful blades.

The hobbled huscarl facing Breanna again swings at her, but the nimble Leathe dodges out of the way once more, before flicking her knife across the guard’s throat, killing him instantly.

And then Kel’Serrar’s Flaming Arrow bursts through the wards surrounding Lord Windrider, killing the cold light of the runes and setting the lord’s beard alight. The arrow itself merely skates of Windrider’s armour, but he is too concerned with trying to kill Tremor to worry about it. He charges forward, flailing wildly, but only meets Tremor’s greatsword.

Orrin Windrider is decapitated. The last huscarl throws down his blade.

It is done. The Crag has been taken. Orrin Windrider is dead and hopefully, Marya Ironfist has been saved.

This isn’t the end of Session 4.4, but due to the massive size, I have decided to split the session into two parts for ease of reading.

The Wrap-Up
Dev said early on that he has friends at his college who want to hear our sessions in a podcast, but I honestly don’t think I’m ever going to do that.

We used this session to trial a couple of changes. Some complaints were made that the caster classes were too powerful, which is something which plagues most systems. To help try to remedy this, we brought in the Soulfire stat, which is basically a magic-points tracker. In exchange for that limitation, there’s now some crazy huge spells.

Health now goes up at a fixed rate, at 1 point every two levels. Some classes have Talents which adjust this rate. This is to prevent some characters from becoming mountains of health. Even at high levels, characters should still be vulnerable.

The last real change was just enforcing the action economy changes I devised some time ago.

That ought to cover this particular write-up for now.

Until next time,
Title: Re: Three Coins, Two Birds and a Gilded Sword
Post by: Phoenixguard09 on March 28, 2020, 02:19:26 AM
Session 4.4 (b): Flying Shadows and a Night of Knives

Welcome back everyone to Session 4.4.

We took a break here for dinner, chats and snacks. And then unfortunately missed Delphi’s care-bear reference with regards to the loot picked up by the characters.

Oh yes! The loot!

Harold Oakenshield:
- A Masterwork steel cuirass, with a runic sunburst inscribed on the chest. The runes are currently not functional. Engraved with Runes of Stone and Blinding Light. Provides an additional +1 to all armour values and has a chance to Blind opponents upon being struck.

Maebh Raven-Wing:
- A dull red sash, embroidered with magical sigils along the edges in gold thread. Provides +15 Soulfire to the wearer.

Breanna Blackrose:
- Rune-encrusted light helm, made of leather and banded with steel. Engraved with a Rune of Perception, providing +10 to Perception to the wearer.

Kel’Serrar Naya:
- Ring of True-Sight.  The wearer is able to see through magical illusions. Sins chose to have Kel’Serrar raid the Windrider Palace for jewellery, and found a fair few pieces which could be sold on for a substantial price. Amongst it all, he found a Ring of True-Sight, which he kept.

Tremor Ironfist:
- The Windrider axe, a heavy hand axe of Masterwork quality engraved with a Rune of Fire and a Masterwork quality steel shield, engraved with Runes of Warding. The equipment of Orrin Windrider, this is Tremor claiming his legitimacy. The axe adds Fire Damage to every strike and the shield, when repaired, soaks D10 Damage from each strike the bearer takes. Once the soak is beaten, the runes fall lifeless and must be recharged once more.

Aeva Nordur-Vatn:
- The Vampyre spear, named after the haematophagic creatures of legend and a thick leather belt engraved with a Rune of Speed. The spear drains Soulfire from those it strikes, equal to the Damage the strike causes and the belt grants the wearer +5 Initiative.

I pointed to everyone as I recapped what they got, which was pointless because I couldn’t see myself pointing in the audio recording anyway. Luckily, I wrote it all down.

The days after the taking of The Crag pass busily. Marya is found in the highest levels of the Windrider Palace, alive and apparently unharmed. Physically, she is well but mentally she seems broken. She speaks to no one, a far cry from the spirited girl Tremor left behind all those years ago.

Of Edrik Blackhand, none can say. The miners who have been recovered from the cave-ins confirmed that he was down there with them, but he never emerged. That being said, many miners and guards were killed in the assault, the bodies unable to be recovered and it is possible that Blackhand was amongst them.

The mood is sombre. The army the companions have with them is still greatly outnumbered by the defenders, but without their lords, the common people have lost the will to fight.

In fact, the Resistance plans to use them in the upcoming conflicts. The Crag may be taken, but it is only one fortress after all and the war goes on.

Mordin Grimstone was found in the dungeons, alive, but weak. He is taken to a wing of the palace to recover from his captivity, the Dwergar unwilling to let outsiders see their lord so weak.

* * *

Three days after the taking of The Crag, at dawn, a procession arrives at the south gate. Freida Grimstone leads the procession, at the head of her personal forces. The other lords of the Resistance flank her, also accompanied by their retinues. Next to the heavily armoured dwarves of The Crag march hastily equipped militia from Lord’s Ridge and hardy woods-dwarves from the Valleywood.

Along the main road leading to the ‘Windrider’ Palace, Harold has organised an honour guard evenly made up of the Resistance forces which took the fortress and the defenders of The Crag who stood against them, in a show of solidarity.

Harold notices that the lords of the Resistance appear to be quite disconcerted at the fact that the noble dwellings close to the Palace have been replaced by a noble hole in the ground. The companions have gotten work crews in to try and clear the mess, but it’s not done much good.
It was almost like sliding the trash under the bed and putting a sign up which reads, ‘Do Not Approach.’
Let’s be honest, the nobles aren’t too happy about the massive hole in the ground. The companions’ clean up job involved the application of a plank-
“Several planks!” – Delphi, like that makes it better.
The application of several planks almost like a band-aid across the gaping wound in the earth.

This goes down about as well as you would expect…

Most of the companions wait for the procession in the throne room, Tremor, Barandin and Maebh standing on the stairs leading to the throne. Kel’Serrar is hidden in the corner of the room and Breanna and Aeva are standing at a respectful distance flanking the throne.

The errand-runner Tremor sent to have Mordin Grimstone fetched to present to his daughter returns, without the lord.
“I am sorry Lord Ironfist. I was halted at the door by Grimstone soldiers who told me that Lord Mordin is missing. I came as quickly as I could.” – Errand-runner, catching his breath.
“****.” – Tremor, facepalming.
“Freida probably had him killed. Dwarves, remember?” – Dev.
“She killed Papa!” – Ladyhawk, in an Italian accent.
Ladyhawk and LD spent most of the rest of the night cracking up about this line.
“Don’t be upset-y, have some spaghetti.” – Delphi, in the same accent.

This is another five minutes of discussion regarding where they want to stand. Or in Ladyhawk’s case, well…
“I want to sit in the throne.” – Ladyhawk, laughing.
“No, you can’t do that.” – Dev, frustrated.
“Well she can, but it would be highly advised against.” – Sins.
“In that case I’ll stand on the stairs too with Tremor. No, one step behind Tremor, so I look more imposing.” – Ladyhawk.
“You could sit on the floor in front of him and look more imposing.” – Sins.
“You could sit in the throne and look more imposing. And I’ll sit next to you on a little mini-throne and throw accusations. ‘You killed Papa!’” – LD, cracking herself and Ladyhawk up again.

As another aside, who knew that Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain could be so pertinent to the siege of The Crag?

Freida Grimstone enters the Palace, followed by the other lords of the Resistance and their retinues. They are stony-faced, obviously not happy with the damage to the fortress, but Grimstone’s face lightens when she sees the throne left vacant for her. She walks up the stairs to come face to face with Tremor.
“Has there been any news of my father?” – Freida, quietly to Tremor.
Ladyhawk and LD lost it again at the question, barely able to wheeze out, “You killed Papa!”
“I think we broke them…” – Delphi.
I was too busy laughing to restore order.
“I’ve never seen Ladyhawk cry before.” – Dev.

Maebh and Breanna snigger to themselves, but no one present remarks upon it, though some of Freida’s retinue look disapprovingly upon the lack of decorum. Freida ignores it all.
“No word. He has thoroughly disappeared.” – Tremor, gritting his teeth.
“So be it. The throne of The Crag is mine to take, and so I will. I pledge my continued support to the Resistance, until my fellow lords regain their seats.” – Freida, turning to acknowledge the other lords of the Resistance.

She then climbs the remaining stairs and sits upon the throne.

And with that, the Grimstones are back in charge of The Crag, and the Resistance officially has a stronghold.

* * *

A council meeting has been scheduled for the evening, to discuss the next move for the Resistance. In the intervening hours, the companions entertain themselves as they see fit.

Harold:
The Invarrian, who has been formulating a plan for the last few weeks, does a few rounds among the newly arrived members of the Resistance, looking for Invarrians. He finds four, two farmers, a miner and a settled raider. He resolves to train them as reavers, ostensibly to help the war effort, but the others think he may just be lonely and pining for Invarrian company.
A succession of Command Checks passed as Harold trains his would-be reavers over the course of a several hours. He focusses on improving their individual abilities, as that is his own speciality, and the Invarrians agree to meet up again the following day to continue their training.

Tremor
While this is happening, Tremor chases up information on the Blackhand Mines outside The Crag. According to his sources, the mines are unlikely to have anything more than a skeleton crew of miners there, most of whom would, like as not, feel no loyalty to the Blackhand clan beyond being paid.

“Perhaps we can have some forces go there? For ‘protection.’ – Aeva, stressing the last word.
The others agree, but it will probably have to wait until after this council meeting.

There is some discussion here about Dwergar society and how the Resistance is currently viewing the companions.

[/color]

Breanna and Aeva:
Seeing as they have some spare time before the meeting, Breanna and Aeva head off to the market district. Aeva is in need of some general gear and equipment, and Breanna feels an urge to look at more stabby implements of death, so they go off together to ensure each other’s safety.

Aeva goes on a shopping spree, picking up a new set of finer clothes, sheafs of parchment, writing equipment, a sewing kit, a selection of dyes, a length of rope and a tent. They then go to the armoury where Breanna picks up some finely tooled leather bracers and some more bolts for her crossbow and Aeva picks up four throwing daggers.

Kel’Serrar:
Aeva and Breanna did not leave alone as Kel’Serrar is with them for a short while, but swiftly blends into the crowd and starts rumour mongering. The slight ranger is completely unrecognisable, and anyone following him would quickly lose him in the crowd.

As could be expected, the common people are not particularly pleased with how things have turned out over the last few days. For one, they aren’t happy about the destruction caused by the companions. Secondly, the bat plague, which it is rightly assumed, the companions were responsible for. Thirdly, Freida Grimstone. Her father was a popular ruler, and now he is missing and she so conveniently happens to be present to pick up where he left off.

Naturally, there are plenty of cynics.

And then of course there’s the fact that where Mordin Grimstone was a well-liked ruler, he was probably too nice. The treasury was a mess when Windrider took over. The Crag’s reputation as a military powerhouse was in ruins, simply because old Mordin didn’t see the maintenance and upkeep of armed forces as necessary.

Grimstone, while just and fair and generally likeable, was just not very effective. Windrider on the other hand, he got **** done. In a short time Windrider returned The Crag to its position of prominence. The mountain fortress was Bain’s jewel in the crown, the ace in matters both military and mercantile.

Windrider may not have been particularly well-liked, but he inspired pride in the citizens of The Crag.
“I love the fact that I just sat down and listened to one old guy rant for a few hours.” – Sins.

Tremor and Maebh:
Tremor meanwhile retreats to private quarters to write out some legally binding contracts to try and lock in the lords of the Resistance. Maebh goes with him to assist him. The mage has turned her keen mind to the political situation, and the two of them spend hours hashing out the exact terms of these agreements.

* * *

The house the companions have commandeered following the assault is one of very few still standing in what was once the noble district. It is a nice place, especially now that work teams have repaired any damage from the explosions and cleaned up the shattered rock and dried guano.

It is two storeys tall, built from solid rock and has more than enough rooms to accommodate the party. A pen sits against the wall too, built for a small herd of livestock which must have escaped in the chaos of the assault.
Cue jokes about wild pigs and goats roaming the underground halls, hungry for dwarf-flesh.
The pen has now been claimed by Toirneach and Amadeus. Breanna and Harold have given up on trying to keep Wolfgang and Bach contained though. The beasts are both large and clever enough to escape, and too mischievous by a mile to be left unattended for more than a few minutes. They have already rampaged through a butchery in the last few days, and have threatened to do worse. 

Before the meeting, the companions gather together once more in the parlour of their new home, to discuss what has happened.
“How did the rumour mongering go?” – Breanna, to Kel’Serrar who sits at ease upon his chair.
“Not too badly. They aren’t happy with us at all though.” – Kel’Serrar, master of understatement.
“Can you blame them? We blew up parts of the city, covered it in bat-**** and then killed their leaders.” – Aeva, sitting at the table.
“Don’t forget we caved in their mines and completely showed up their supposedly excellent military by taking this place with a handful of fighters.” – Harold, over in the corner maintaining his weaponry.
“Forgetting that, they liked Freida’s father. And then Windrider took over, and they liked him too. But we killed him, and it is only a matter of time before they start pinning Grimstone’s death on us too. They’ve already started to say it was Freida herself. And we just put her in power. We look like her servants.” – Kel’Serrar.
“We need to start spreading some propaganda on the sly then.