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Sunday, 2nd October, 12.30
Game date - 7th of April 3250
T'was the end of the month and the gods' bribing days came by once again. All the populace was happy, knowing the wrath of the mighty ones would be bought off for another few weeks. As the Baron spent excessive amounts of time in pious 'prayer', completely unsuspiciously near the magic items of Wang, Cadmus made himself known as a happy, friendly man-about-town, impressing all and sundry with his stories, songs and ability to avoid paying for any drinks.
One fine day, a new priest, Brother Riso (or Rizzo), appeared to take the place of the last poor castle priest who died of 'Loki's curse' - a sudden onset cancer that left him wearing a rictus grin, which is nothing at all like the results of a fatal poison. Brother Riso, covered in dangly charms and amulets, turned out to be happy, friendly man-about-town, who went with Cadmus to learn the best waterholes in the Baron's demesne. Meanwhile, Red tried to learn the intricacies of roofing, only for Thodric to see true merit in turning him into a huge champion for the Baron, wielding two greatswords.
Then, late at night, while thunder rocked the peaceful town and strobes of light played across the hills preparing for their first real dramatic role in this adventure, a damp Cadmus and Riso saw, in one flash of Thor's hammer, a dark robed man on the hill. Knowing a GMPD (GM Plot Device) when they saw one, they decided to check it out. Much to their disgust (Well, Cadmus's at least) the dark figure turned out to be an overly garrulous, far-too-truthful-for-anyone's-comfort, 40-ish man who proclaimed himself to be The Seer, a mythological agent of scary power. He had come to give a PROPHECY and a WARNING! Instantly, a slit throat and a meeting with the castle pigs were considered for him, but he blurted out so much so quickly that these thoughts became redundant and settled to mere irritation and defeatism. We were going to be prophesised at and warned…sigh…
Firstly, we were told the Hand of Loki (according to Riso, an evil organisation/Loki priesthood) has The Wang (aka the McGuffin), and what the Baron has held 'something else', so the Baron should stop playing with it. After that, no-one suspected the Baron of being a mage.
More dire, the 'red star' (aka a bloody big war we want to avoid but probably can't) is coming. Worse still, Conrad, Cadmus's ailing grandfather, was due to be kidnapped soon by Cadmus's father, who Cadmus did not know and who turned out to be one Krantor, possibly a pirate king of Dornica-a man so vile but rich he had bribed the Duke of Bayern. Thodric was also told that he really should visit his mother, the poor old dear. He refused. After some private chats, the rain stopped and the Seer left, saying, to our everlasting 'joy', that he would be around quite a lot.
Now, being a man of honour and a loyal grandson (who knows a 15-point disadvantage coming into play when he sees it), Cadmus instantly began to ready himself to rescue his grandfather from a kidnapping that would probably only begin the moment Cadmus arrived. Red informed the others that he had told, and got, the Baron to stop playing with The Wang, and we all unconditionally believed him. Red's just that sort of guy. The Baron agreed to go to Irolo too, as he had business there. After much discussion with Thodric and Cadmus, we went north by boat, the Baron travelling incognito as a merchant.
We paused at Marcioness Constantia's town, horrified but impressed to see an army possibly close to 50,000 strong encamped there. We all wandered into town. As we wandered the byways and highways, searching for information, bells and horns began to sound, the town gates closed. Why? Cadmus, meeting up with Riso, near the hotel where the Baron stayed, returned there, and we waited some time until Red, who apparently had been near the causal event arrived to tell us what had happened.
As Constantia had ridden down a main street, surrounded by guards, two small 'birds' flew at her head, stopping mere inches away by some form of mystic shield. Closer inspection proved the birds to be darts. Unfortunately, this caused her guards to go wild, arresting every obviously armed man they could find. Even worse, Thodric just 'happened' to be one of the nearest armed men in the street of the assassination attempt, and he was quickly whisked away to be questioned. What shall happen to him? Shall he escape? Shall the mighty PCs mount a valiant rescue attempt? Shall the Baron break cover to get his man released? Find out next time!
Special Guest Writer Torben.
Sunday, 16th October, 12.30
Game date - 7th of April 3250 to 9th of April
Deciding to wait a day to see if Thodric would be released before we tried anything more…straightforward, the Baron moved to a pub nearer the castle in order to mentally overwhelm a, uh, rat and send it in to look for the dungeon. Meanwhile, Cadmus took Red to learn the ancient art of rumour-mongering-spreading the rumour that the assassin belonged to mercenaries Constantia had hired as guards-only to have his young apprentice blindly talk to a captain of said mercenaries. Fortunately, Red managed to escape, change his features and continue on with Cadmus. He was nonetheless barred from making further attempts at rumour-mongering.
Thodric, having told the truth in front of a truth-seeing priest, was released, disappointing all who had been hoping for slightly more death (theirs, not ours) and destruction to go along with such a momentous event. Unfortunately, the town gates stayed shut while the Hand of Odin began doing Constantia's dirty work. Neither our mage, which we of course do not have, nor our monster, which we definitely do have, felt like being found by these somewhat zealous priests, so we decided to look for alternate exits to the city.
We noted a Doomsday Cult of the Red Star, wearing a red dot on their foreheads, and all went, “Huh.” The Baron and Red went to look for clues at the building where the assassination attempt had occurred. They saw a priest cast a divination spell, then searched themselves, but, despite a muddy footprint, found nothing. Cadmus and Riso, however, found Rotha, a smuggler, and in order to get out of town cheap, agreed to transport a certain item Rotha did not want found in town either to Viltz at the Grey Duchess in Kremaburg.
We left at midnight, rowed upstream, and then walked for two days, with the Baron as a humble merchant on a pilgrimage. On the way, the Baron failed to resist temptation to look inside the chest with the magic item we were transporting, but his flea could not see in the dark. However, to distract us, we found an old man crying by the side of the road. Knowing the stories of gods et cetera doing the same, we were all instantly suspicious. Nevertheless, we agree to take him to the next town to put his wedding ring on his wife's grave. Riso took up the unpleasant duty of trying to jolly the man up and convince him to do the job himself. Ultimately, Riso placed the (magic) ring on the grave while we all stood well back, waiting for the dark forces of hell to rise up and unleash themselves upon him. They did not. Oh well, maybe next time.
Unknown to us, Riso found the same ring in his backpack a few days later. He wisely palmed it off on some unsuspecting priest. It might have been a good magic item, but why take a chance with strange, crying old men? We got to Kremaburg. The baron bought us all horses, Cadmus handed over the item, which turned out to be a youth potion, much to the Baron's chagrin. We moved on, having heard a rumour that Constantia was obviously nuts, killing all the birds in her city.
On 9 April, Heroes Day, we found ourselves in a village. Cadmus immediately became the centre of attention at the festival. The less party-minded of us kept to the sidelines, more interested in watching the plain-clothed but armed strangers also in the village than in having fun. At least the Baron kept his end up and had a good time.
There was a shooting star overnight, and bad omens the next morning. Riso advised us to stay, but we decided to keep moving-until we discovered a guard missing, the useless bastard. So we searched, eventually finding him sans head. But in true Godfather style, we found the head in the Baron's unslept in bed. A warning? A Threat? If so, pretty damn ineffectual as we do not know for what or by whom. Still, the plain-clothed but armed figures had vanished, apparently never having been in the pub we know they were in, and we were left answering the questions of the local constabulary. A fun day was had by all. The punchy was getting antsy, the Baron pissed, Red hungry, Cadmus bored and Riso rattled (or maybe that was just his rune stones…), so the plain-clothed but armed figures better keep out of our way or some serious dice rolling may just occur…next time...
Special Guest Writer Torben.
Sunday, 27th November, 12.30
Game date - 10-24th of April
Having buried our dead guard, but having no idea what evil lurked in the hearts of the men who obviously intent on doing something nasty to us, we continued Irolo’s capital. We heard that there were lots of immigrants down south, but had no idea why. Coming upon a walled town, we decided to stay overnight. Some of us took rooms, while the guards and Rizo (Argh! Sp?) slept in the common room downstairs—and Red decided to sleep out of town.
During the night our brave priest awoke to see an assassin—one of the watchers from Kremaburg—standing over the bodies of two guards, including (alas!) Vitals Albrecht, so, of course, he screamed long and loud. Instantly those upstairs awoke and rushed to his aid—except Cadmus, who, despite being a light sleeper and having a high perception, blissfully slept on. Meanwhile, a third guard died, his head rolling free to join those of the other guards.
The party piled onto the stairs, Thodric wearing nought but a loincloth and a helmet—fortunately, really, given the assassin advanced up the stairs (while yelling something in a strange language none us of understood) and proved himself to be a flashing master of the blade, yet his one true hit bounced off—you guessed it—Thodric’s helm. Unfortunately, Thodric, being unprepared, had trouble keeping his fully armoured opponent off and was stunned. However, much to his good fortune—and chagrin—he was healed by the priest, while the Naked Bard finally joined them and threw a dagger straight over Thodric’s shoulder and into the assassin’s stomach! The Baron then did not join the fray and definitely did not cast a dispel magic spell on the assassin’s sword. However, this non-action led to the assassin teleporting away—and everyone else going: ‘Cool! I want his magic cloak!’
There being much wailing and gnashing of teeth for Vitals Albrecht, and a muttered ‘Dammit! Now I need to hire more guards!’ for the other two red shirts, we wasted the next day burying them and talking to the Sheriff. Thus, we stayed another night, this time all in the common room, with Cadmus-prepared alarms of string, bells and one crossbow. We slept, though Red, now with us, stayed awake.
The assassin was grappled!
He dropped a letter!
We read the note. “Kill Thodric and you may go free!” While daggers were for a while fingered thoughtfully, the note really did not give us enough reason to kill our own punchy—not to mention that unsigned notes really irritate PCs, who will often automatically do the exact opposite out of sheer bloody mindedness. So we ignored it, but pressed forward to the capital at speed. Our pursuers seemed to leave us alone.
However, having noted that there are now 4 red stars in the sky (joy) and still wondering what our friendly visitor yelled, we headed to the nearest big town—the capital of Badenmark—for information. Cadmus and the Baron went to Margrave’s palace, but found nothing in the library—though the Margrave himself noted that the Duchess was now raising her own army to counter Constantia. Rizo and Thodric found at the church library that the assassin yelled, “You shall not disrupt the evil sorcery!” in Elvish and mentioned “Morghul”. Umm…huh? Sigh…assassins…go figure…
We pressed on and, after a few weeks, reached Irolo. Now one red star had dimmed. Oh…ok. The amazing celestial lightshow—and us without astronomy knowledge skills!
Cadmus immediately went to his Grandfather Conrad’s place, with Red and Rizo, and took him out for a meal—and not a moment too soon. Coming up the stairs as we descended were two sailor types. Could these be the prophesised kidnappers? One way to find out. We let them pass. Having ‘forgotten something’, Cadmus snuck back up after them while Red and Rizo continued on to lunch. Cadmus soon joined them, nothing untoward having happened. Well…that’s what he told his grandfather.
Really, this happened (i.e. player, not PC knowledge): The bastards kicked in Conrad’s door! For that, they must pay! Cadmus stepped into the doorway. Two daggers flashed from his hands, knocking one sailor down, into permanent darkness. “Surrender—or you’ll get the same as your friend!” ordered Cadmus, and the sailor instantly put up his hands, dropping his weapons. As Rizo questioned Conrad about Cadmus, Cadmus questioned the sailor about, well, everything. Then Cadmus killed the kidnapper—not wanting the aggravation of explaining things to officials—messed up the house as though it had been robbed (being careful not to break anything of sentimental value to Conrad, but placing it as though it had been roughly thrown aside), and set up the corpses as though they had been killed by an ally while arguing over the ‘valuable jewellery Cadmus had left only a short while before in the apartment for safekeeping—dammit!’
Meanwhile, Baron Alden and Thodric were at the university library. Alden got a marginally magically book about Morghul, but could not read the language. He offered a reward for information. Back at the hotel, he received a letter from the ‘Eternal Guardians of the Torch of Flame’ (well, better than the Torch of Water). Intrigued, he followed the instructions and went to the noted warehouse, where there was no door—well none Thodric could see. So Thodric was sent off and the Baron dispelled the door. Inside he found the remains of a demon summoning ritual, a book on the subject (with the standard missing pages) and other good stuff. Treasure at last! Now all we need to worry about is: where are the Guardians? What happened to the demon? And did the Baron clearly say the three magic words before picking up the book? Find out – next time!
Sunday, 11th December, 12.30
Game date - 24-25th April
With his deep, booming voice, the High Priest of Odin told everyone to go inside for two hours-no reason given. Red immediately ignored the order and headed for the castle, along with the red-dot hordes. Cadmus took his grandfather, Conrad, inside and 'discovered' the sailors' bodies.
Meanwhile, Friar Riso, looking a little the worse for wear, made his way back to the Baron. As he approached the hotel, Riso felt the gods' favour withdrawing, a sudden weakness overtook him, and he collapsed to the ground.
There was a huge 'KA-thoom!' noise, and a red light beamed from the palace and hit the red star children. Two hurtled off to the east, but the other crashed down just outside the city, creating a huge crater and forcing vast amounts of dust into the air.
Riso staggered into the hotel, finding Thodric and no baron. Thodric ignored Riso's suggestion that the baron might be in need of assistance, and Riso crawled off to sleep and recover with a restorative herbal brew.
Cadmus immediately headed for the crater. The air near the crater was very warm and smelt slightly of cooked meat. Red met up with Cadmus near the crater's lip. We could hear clinking cooling noises-and some unearthly sounds. We waited an hour for the dust to settle more.
Meanwhile, the city gates were closed.
When we finally ventured in, we could see a huge black shape at the bottom of the crater-a bone-like shell structure. Red snuck forward, almost burning himself on the hot ground, and threw a rock at the panels of the shell. It bounced off with a woody thunk noise. We decide to leave so as not to be found 'at the scene' and to get people with actual science-based knowledge skills to come back with us.
On regaining his strength (or at least most of it), Riso made his way to the main temple complex, finding deserted streets and evidence of the violent dispersal of what appears to have been an angry mob of red dot followers. Riso plies his medical talents, with little help from the departed gods, to help the suffering and find out as much as he can about the riot. (Which is not a lot.)
To get back into the closed city, Red ventured into the sea and swam all the way around, coming up at the docks. Cadmus used his inimitable talents to get back in dryly, over the walls. Cadmus retrieved his grandfather from his apartment, and took him to meet Thodric-putting the old man in the inn while he began to relocate him to a more salubrious area-while Red, in Conrad's old apartment, ate the bodies of the two sailors who had obviously been killed by a third companion when they found the money bag Cadmus had left for his grandfather's upkeep. Red then came back to the inn and slept. The Baron appeared and informed people that we had to leave immediately. Thodric rushed off to find where the Captains of the guard hung out so as to get information.
Cadmus and Red went to the docks and organised a ship for the Baron.*
As Riso tended to wounded rioters, the palace gates opened and assorted elite military units accompanied the highest ranking priests towards the city's eastern walls. Riso followed behind the procession, but was left behind when the city gates slammed shut behind them. Riso was lucky enough to make contact with some rather shady elements in the city while lightning bolts repeatedly struck the area of the crater, and Riso found his way outside the city just in time to see the remnants of the elite units racing back towards the city, obviously still in contact with a most fearsome enemy.
The high priests babbled prayers to themselves in utter panic, the guards were wide eyed and panicked; as Riso approached the group he noticed something.
A guard near the back paused, then was violently pulled back towards the fog, some 5 metres. Two cable-like tendrils appeared to be attached to the guard. He hacked at one of them, but was dragged by the remaining tendil another 8 metres. The air around the guard seemed to blur and open like a flower - or a crab. The guard was ripped into two pieces and cast aside.
Riso was ignored as he joined the stream of fleeing guards and priests, and he did not stop running until he returned to the inn, panting heavily and collapsing on a bench.
The next day, the Baron left with Thodric and Riso. Red stayed with Cadmus to relocate Conrad. Cadmus also shopped for items with some new-found wealth given to him by an acquaintance who owed him money.
Red headed out to the crater, and found the remains of 10-12 clerics, hideously clawed and slashed. The shell thing had been broken open-it was big enough for 100 men! Heading inside, Red found it full of broken organic bits and pieces, including some extraordingary weapon-like limbs or blades, one of which he ripped out of the wall to take back to his brighter companions. The flesh of the invaders was not of a pleasant taste. Scouting around the area Red found markings suggesting that just a single beast had somehow, presumably, avoided their magic, and destroyed the clerics. He tracked it back to the walls of the city, where the huge monster appeared to head straight on towards the walls. Despite this, there was nowt in the way of uproar or cries. He also retrieved shell pieces as exhibits for the Baron and Cadmus. Suddenly the Baron reappeared, having turned his boat around for reasons unknown. Apparently the fake McGuffin had a big demon in it, put there by Loki! Bye bye barony!
Now monsters are roaming the world! War is upon us! Aiyeeee!
Perhaps it is time for the PCs to tell each other their secrets so we can all understand what is happening! Hah! Yeah, right, that'll happen…
Sunday, 22nd January, 12.30
Game date - 25th of April
The Good Baron and Thodric were a little puzzled - their understanding of the world had changed with the magical SAM attack. As the magic receeded, so did their memories of Constantia. Who was this jumped up tart that could … put … a spell… on the … entire …. continent …… ! Ehm.
And so, on with the story.
It was a bright and sunny day for the first day of the end of the world. The streets of the city were quiet, however, as guards were stationed at various points. Our heroes, knowing that a massive 10' tall invisible demon was stalking the streets, decided it was a good time for a walk. Actually, knowing that the demons had invaded his home, the Good Baron decided that he'd rather fight one now, learning its capabilities, then 200 with no clue.
It took some time but they found the first sign of its passing - a house with two guards outside and a pool of blood in the street. The guards were *very* uncommunicative. Further along there was another pool of blood and more guards. The Baron noticed a small piece of head lying in the gutter and pointed it out to his fellows. Riso promptly pointed it out to the guards.
The final point of call was the gates of the palace. There again the streets were closed but this time, in addition to the inevitable pool of human blood, there was a pool of purple blood as well, over which stood a Priest of Odin. Riso bluffed his way past the guards to have a look, accidentally stepping in the puddle and getting the bum rush.
The Good Baron bought Riso a new sandle (he wanted to keep the other - it was 'lucky') and then headed off to the hidden 'laboratory' to investigate the blood and see if there was a useful counter to the demons. Of course, seeing that the invisible demon was still at large, he took Thodric with him this time.
A little while later, it was obvious that the blood was carbon/silica based and immune to all normal poisons. The Good Baron reasoned that if it was an earth-based construct that perhaps a Dwarven alchemist might have better luck then he did finding a useful attack. It was off to the guild where he flashed his membership card, got Thodric a hot meal and beer and made his enquiries. Oh, and purchased a large container of mineral solvent in a magic jar - perhaps it'd take care of them. As he left, he gave the jar to Thodric to carry - 'Don't drop it, it costs as much as you do, and it'll eat … everything'.
Nori the Dwarf was a happy little chap, ensconced in his shoppe on the corner of Cheap and Shadey streets. The Good Baron gave him a sample of the blood and asked if he knew of anything that might affect it like a poison. The Dwarf asked him to come back the next day.
Meanwhile, Red went to see a man about a hilt for his Demon Claw on the grounds that it'd probably be a good thing to hit them with. Cadmus … was Cadmus.
That night, Cadmus and the Baron had a little chat in private while Thodric was having a drink (on the Barons coin of course, the freeloading git). An 'understanding' was reached and the part took another step in getting slightly closer together. By the end of the chronicle, they may actually talk to each other. There was also a little test of the solvent on the armour of the demons ship - it worked, but it wasn't completely effective. It would probably work better on a creature - but they'd have to find it to check.
The next day saw a return visit to Nori - fat lot of good that did. The jumped up little wanna-be alchemist could provide no useful information what so ever. The Good Baron was inclined to Thodric him for his impertenance but, being a Good Baron, merely left.
After some discussions, they decided that it would be useful to get the hell out of town and head back to the Barons lands. It would be even more useful if they had a writ from the Grand Duchess that would allow them to raise an army from the surrounding Dukes to fight the demons. So it was off to see the Grand Duchess - something that the Good Baron had carefully not done since his arrival.
On the way they passed the church of Odin, which was surrounded by a large number of guards poking the bushes. The Good Baron asked Thodric to ask the guards what was going on. It turned out that the High Priest was suffering from a mysterious case of detacted lower torsoe and feeling somewhat dead. The team exchanged glances, looked once more at the guards sticking swords into bushes and rode off.
After some 'functionary' delay they managed to get into court. This was followed by a 'lowly Barons wait their turn' delay but eventually they got to talk to someone. They secured leave to escape the city and even got a writ to raise an army. Team Alden was on the move.
Tomorrow. Red's sword still wasn't ready, and Cadmus had some things to do, and a few more guards would be good and … why is it always so hard? Red being bored went for another swim, anxious to see if anything had appreciably changed around the shell. Back in the city, some couple of hours later, he wandered past the various previously identified locations of slaughter, trying to see if people might be able to tell him what had happened and if anyone had seen anything. They largely repeated the description Riso had mentioned, but some had noted a large blur following the fleeing troupe of soliders and clerics. All traces had been cleaned up.
On his way back to the hotel, Red discovered that the Master of Bangs, the Alchemist Guild Master had been attacked by 'something', but was still alive, albeit more than a little paranoid and disinclined to leave his chambers. Red dashed back to the hotel to share this potential information source with the Baron.
Anyway, the Baron ended up at the Alchemists guild (powders and what not, you know) and it turns out that the GuildMaster had been attacked by the beast but lived to tell the tale - his door was magically sealed and he bravely didn't open it to the monster. Thinking that this was a good idea, the Good Baron commissioned a copy of the forumla and, becoming suspicious that the thing was following him, took his guards and headed over to Nori's.
There he was distressed to find that his little fellow practicioner of the alchemical arts had been slain. The Good Baron, distressed beyond words, asked permission of the guards to say one last goodbye to his little chum. After the correct application of silver, they agreed.
The shop was trashed. Nori had fallen - into three pieces actually. The Good Baron clasped his hand, whispering his goodbyes (and incidentally relieving him of his magic rings). He then turned to leave, picking up the other magic items he'd 'commissioned' from his dearly departed friend.
As he left the building he noticed a large, 10' tall shimmery invisible shape on the building opposite. It ran off before he could call attention to it, but that was enough. It was after him. He sent his pageboy running to collect the rest of the team (particularly Thodric) and waited with the guards.
Cadmus, having returned from preparing the ship (and other nefarious deeds no doubt) joined the rest as they charged to meet the Baron. There was a quick whispered discussion as he explained that he thought he knew where it would be going - to get the rest of the blood he'd collected. If it didn't, it'd probably be after him anyway and he wanted the blood to work on.
He showed the others his secret lab, figuring that by now it was getting to dangerous to keep many secrets - the others would be dead soon anyway. The beast wasn't there so they collected what they could and started to leave. The Baron thought it was outside so he even went so far as the cast a spell on Thodric, knowing he'd be in the front lines - the Iron Warrior was in play… The open application of magic caused a small freakout from Red, soon turning to embarassment when no-one else so much as blinked. Riso's spidey-sense started pinging so they were cautious. That didn't stop Red, who was last to leave, walking straight into it, however.
The thing decided to try and capture the Good Baron, firing its meathooks at him. Fortunately, the Good Baron was blessed by the forsight to be wearing plate greeves and the hooks bounced off. The others attacked, rather unsuccessfully (the phrase 'bounced off its armour' was sickening in its regularity). The Baron retreated while the guards and Thodric intervened. Cadmus thew an explosive potion (courtesy of the Barons alchemical skill) which did nothin' to no one. Riso threw his, missed, hid Thodric in the head and it exploded heartily. Fortunately, Thodric was protected by the Barons magic and didn't take too much damage. Red, less fortunate in the armour sense, was merely further away.
The beast, moving faster then any of them, ran around the guards and again attacked the Good Baron, chopping at him stupidly fast with his massive claws. The Baron threw his arms up for protection and fortunately the blades bounced off the plate arm guards that he was wearing. If the beast could have sworn, it would have. Thodric charged to attack (see phrase above) as did the others (see phrase above). The beast attacked the baron again, but the arm guards held firm. He did take a small scratch to the hand, however. Finally the beast took some damage when the Good Baron opened a volcano at its feat, coating its little hooves in lava.
Being quite tired now, given the amount of useless whaling on armour it had been doing, the beast retreated to the top of a nearby building to catch its breath. Cadmus then hit it fair in the head with another of the Barons explosive potions as the Baron caused the nearby vermin to crawl into its armour and start biting. Red, meanwhile advanced and waited at the bottom of the building for it to make a move.
Here, the beast made its fatal mistake. It fired its flesh hooks at Red to try and drag him close for the killing and eating. Red, thinking this a bad plan, grabbed the hooks that had gently settled into his flesh, and setting himself, dragged the beast close for killing although not so much the eating, off the roof and back to the street where he promptly grabbed it and wouldn't let go. The others charged forward and a general melee ensued. That is, until Thodric, tired of hearing the phrase (see above) took a massive windup and cut its head clean off.
While the two guards were demanding hazard pay from the Good Baron, and Riso was healing his hand, Cadmus knelt next to it and *poof* the body disappeared. Those claws were too good to pass up. The team took a circuitous route back to the inn and holed up for the night, ready to leave on the morrow…
Having returned, the baron read his translated book to us. Demon aliens! Aiee! Cadmus went out to do some investigating of exactly who had given us the fake alien McGuffin while the others decided to walk along the wall, looking for where the alien/demon/creature had apparently made it over
Lacking marked success, they wandered into the interior of the city, finding a cordoned off area near the palace gates. A priest stood near some weird purple bloodstains. Riso bluffed his way through the guards and made notes of the scene. When the priest noticed Riso, he was not about to be bluffed and began to throw Riso out. With admirable forethought and no concern for the fact that the purple blood might melt his foot off, Riso stepped in it before leaving to ensure we got a sample
Having met with little success but gotten inquiries rolling, Cadmus checked on his purchases and made his way back to the hotel, where he met Red and Riso-the baron having gone to the warehouse laboratory to investigate the blood. Cadmus and Riso chatted about life, Riso and the nature of miracles. Cadmus found him trusting/liking Riso significantly more
The baron could not find a biological agent to affect the blood, but he did find a powerful mineral solvent would work on the creature's armour-albeit slowly. Disappointment/concern was in the air
The next day we went to visit Nori, a dwarf alchemist the baron had given some purple blood to. He agreed with the hypothesis that acids work on it, while known poisons do not. Riso went off to track down the red-dot people. Meanwhile, Cadmus and the baron had an in-depth chat-about life, Alden and the nature of miracles. In order to gain more cooperation within the party, and because he thought it was time-and because it amused him-Cadmus swapped background material with the baron
Now we can be much more free regarding what we do most of the time-something which turned out to be of major help the next day. As for the rest of the day, Cadmus went back to the shops, and he and Red changed Red's Kataran money into real cash
The next day we went to visit the Ducal court. On the way, we found that the High Priest of Odin had been murdered! Now many mystical guards and wards surrounded all places of importance-especially the palace, where it took over 10 minutes for even a Cadmus-announced Baron to gain entry
The court was abuzz with the news of a serial murderer monster, let loose, obviously, by the Hand of Loki. We ignored the courtiers, having more pressing business, meeting with Count Flavio and telling him our problems. We got permission to leave the city and a writ to command assistance when we got nearer to Elb-Elsta. After some discussion about whether we stop by Constantia for a quick murder and army theft, we decided to first go further south by boat, which was faster and gave us time to get a few troops of our own. Cadmus began to organise the boat trip. Meanwhile, the baron heard the Master of the Alchemy Guild had been attacked but survived. Having checked it out, he made his way to Norri's place, only to find the poor dwarf a pile of rubble-not that that stopped him, in the finest adventuring traditions, looting both the corpse and the room, of course. Outside, the baron saw a blur on the rooftops. He immediately sent a pageboy to fetch the armed and armoured party-he believed he knew where the creature would go next: the warehouse. It wasn't there. We discussed plans for trapping it. Dropping all pretence, the baron cast a few spells openly. Red had a mild panic attack about this until he realised no-one else had blinked. Ah - party secrets within secrets within conversations
We left, fully prepared to be attacked-and yea! We were
Near the back, Red bumped into something. The beast appeared! It grabbed at the baron with tentacles, which bounced of his armour! We instantly attacked it, with our attacks bouncing off its armour! Sigh
An armour-bouncing barney ensued, with the highlights including: it escaping to the roof, tentacling Red, and Red ripping it off the roof
The Baron letting loose with some rather impressive spells. Cadmus nailing it through both feet in a brilliant double-shot. And Thodric proving why we respect him as the punchy-by cleaving the beast's head in twain with a massive haymaker! Hooray for the tank! Not wanting to be questioned too closely by the authorities but wanting to keep the corpse for further examination/looting, the party quickly began to ready limb chopping implements. Cadmus instead leaned forward, placed his hands on the corpse, and it vanished, to be later carved up
And so we left, triumphant. For tomorrow Red and Cadmus gather our on-order swords, and then we all get the hell out of here by boat. An army, a country in peril, an evil ruler and glory await!
Sunday, 5th Februay, 10.30
Game date - 26th of April - 12 May
The Irolon Times - a new edition of this monthly newsletter will be coming out.
A final day in the city. The events of yesterday calmed the mind and body, as the beast we feared might still be walking the streets, slaughtering those it encountered was now dead. Others knew nothing of our actions, my companions desperate to conceal their heroism. The city remained locked, guards marching every hour and the day and night, and a miasma of fear filled my nostrils when I passed any group of people.
Morning was quiet, and the blade not ready until afternoon. The trip to the crater of the egg took me the most of the morning, and much of the afternoon. There was no change. I returned, swimming again, somehow very tired, floating upon the gentle waves rather than fighting them. By the time I had collected the claw-made sword my companions had loaded the ship, and we were ready to go.
For days our travel was uninterrupted and mostly smooth. After a day of nausea, the smell of salt and the sea became as familiar to me as that of a terror.
Passing not too far from the piratical isle of Dornica, possible distant relatives of one of my companions, a shipful of buccaneers, tried their luck with our ship. They were driven off handily, what I assume to have been Alden's magics creating a windstorm upon their decks, while Cadmus peppered their decks and men with arrows and fire blooms. As they never reached our sides, I did little more than assist Riso a very little.
Days again passed, our idylls interrupted by a storm, a perfect opportunity to ride out on the bowsprit as the ship rolled and plunged across the waves. Unfortunately, the damage the pirates had caused to our mast was enough to collapse it under the great stresses of the storm. It barely missed those few of us on the deck.
Nautical expertise saved us, and the captain and crew found ways of accounting for the lost mast, and we were soon limping into harbour. It seems likely that news of the foul beast far to the north is spreading as every other ship was fleeing the direction opposite to us.
The story continued in town, the docks awash with refugees desperate to escape to anyway, with more, desperate for a little money for their hard-ridden horses, arriving hourly.
The dockmaster, a hideously fat and ugly man came aboard. In negotiations of which I remained unaware until later, the ship was sold to him, by I think Cadmus and Alden, irrelevant of the fact the captain owned his vessel.
The conspiracy was revealed to me, in part at least, only later. Accompanying Cadmus, two sailors and the captain to the warehouse district down the docks from the refugees we entered a dark, lightless building. Dashing the light source to the ground Cadmus quickly and fatally knifed the captain and one of the sailors, injuring the third man. He died later as I tried to defend him from the bard. Cadmus' arguments, the necessity of money, of resources… made some sense. But I fear love of blood blinded him, and perhaps Alden, to other options.
We continued north, the baron raising a small force of children and invalids on the way to… for some reason. We passed greater numbers fleeing before we finally reached the river across for Elbe-Elster. Which was now a benighted, fouled and dead land.
Waiting to depart for Elbe-Elster, Red went wandering around town. Cadmus retrieved his new sword-a flash Halay steel one-and bought a few other necessary travel items. The ship then sailed, and we had a few quiet days of travelling, getting to know the crew, but then, in the distance, a sail appeared, heading straight for us. Closer and closer they came, soon obvious to all as pirates. As our captain put on sail to flee, the party armed and armoured themselves, ready to repel borders with excessive force.
As they came closer, their ballistae fired over us. Then a second shot smacked into our mast. Having deciding this was unfair, Cadmus carefully attached one of the Baron's miraculous firebloom potions to an arrow and, at a distance of nearly 200m, slammed it into the pirates' deck with his mighty longbow. All were impressed. Yet the pirates kept gaining.
At 60m Cadmus smashed another firebloom potion into the pirates' rigging, boosting our morale. Unfortunately, the pirates began firing arrows back. An arrow smacked into Cadmus' armour, and in return he sank a shaft into the chest of his assailant. The fireblooms were dying out-curse those fireproofing mages!-and the pirates kept gaining! Suddenly, and miraculously, a whirlwind appeared in the ocean and sped towards the pirate ship, settling over it and forcing the pirates below. They fell away, much to Thodric's disappointment-no cleaving today. Days later, a huge storm swept over the ship, breaking our mast. For a while we thought we might sink, but the storm abated, and we managed to limp onwards-everyone unhurt.
Near home, we passed lots of ships fleeing in the other direction, yelling at us to turn around for war is ahead! We try to look surprised, and mostly fail. At the docks, we find that most able bodied men are already further north with the Duke. We decide to follow. First, the Baron and Cadmus make a deal with the dockmaster and the captain-the details of which lead to an apparent minor falling out between Red and Cadmus, leading Cadmus to apologise to Red, a lot-and make some money for the group.
Now with some funds, Thodric and Riso begin recruiting whoever is left. We gain a few young, but eager, lads. We travel north, pausing only to buy horses cheap from those fleeing south. Soon we recruit a few more people, bringing our Grand Armee up to: us, 3 guards and 5 lads-one with his own suit of chain! The others make do with leather armour.
The baron sends a messenger-priest north to the duke with a copy of his war warrant, commanding the Duke to meet him in Elbe-Elster. We go straight there, where, much to our horror, we see a melted castle, utter devastation and what is left of 50,000 troops-a mere 15,000 men. So we head away a few days to a bridge to cross to join the army. Then, one night, as we are camped-at least armoured in a war zone, not lounging in hotel rooms-a man steps out of nowhere and chops a guard in half. Then another steps out. The fight is on, but this time, we are ready. Will we repeat last time, or will we take these scum out, loot their bodies and find their masters? Find out, next time!
Sunday, 19th Februay, 12.30
Game date - 12 May
We ended the last session encamped, Red and a guard on watch, with Red watching a tree and the guard falling to the ground in two pieces as he was bisected by one of the teleporting men in black, or Morgul.
Hearing the thumps as the body parts fell to the ground, I turned, causing Cadmus who, by coincidence, lay asleep, if not sufficiently deeply asleep, nearby spotting in the darkness, far more easily than a week ago the sword-wielding figure in the darkness. Reacting painfully slowly, I roared, bounding across the camp to stand above the sleeping and armour-less Thodric, the usual target of these attackers.
There was a pause. The attackers, the Morgul allowed us some little time to re-group and rise, eventually running into a phalanx lead by Thodric and I. The one who had moved forward was soon struck down, the claw-hewn blade I wielded more effective than I could have hoped, and Thodric his usual warrior self. There were moments when my gratitude to the armour I had purchased back in port was great as a stroke or two from this fellow failed to penetrate it.
The man down, I moved forward, noticing Riso from the corner of my eye moving in, presumably to stabilise and hold for questioning the fellow. Cadmus was facing off against the second attacker, the two of them fencing a little. He paused, took a half-step backwards, and projecting himself I do not know how created in the pale attacker a moment of fear and uncertainty. I used this moment to drop my blade and grab the fellow, wrapping him in an unbreakable hold, although the strange ripple that ran over my armour after Alden did… something almost caused me to lose that grip.
In my powerful grasp, surrounded by angry and armed men, he surrendered.
We think. None of us could speak his tongue, and he could not, or refused, to speak ours. Alden tried another spell, attempting to peer directly into the mind of this pale elf, but caused only an eruption of blood from our captive’s skull, and his death.
They were stripped, Alden and Riso cooperating to discover what strange magics these fellows held while I, as usual, buried the bodies.
The next day we continued on, seeking the bulk of the army. In the midst of war-ravaged and abandoned lands we came across a caravan, a portable dwelling promising glimpses into the future, palms read and fortunately not unearthly delights.
In there, rather as expected and feared waited the Seer. We paused a moment to consider our options, but eventually decided that burning the caravan with him inside probably would not succeed anyway.
For some reason, we then decided to speak to the Seer separately, first Baron Alden, then Cadmus and Riso and finally myself. We all asked different questions, were given answers and soon developed a little circle outside the caravan discussing upcoming plans, both to deal with Constantia, the Margravine of Ostmark, aka the evil dark elven sorceress who never truly existed and cast the Margrave, our Thodric (!) from his rightful place and the strange alien beasts inhabiting, and consuming Alden’s Barony of Elbe-Elster.
The secrets fell thick and fast.
No more is Thodric an unimportant and unknown sellsword. Instead he is the rightful Margrave of Ostmark, and his mother is working with the underground to return him to the throne. Baron Alden may be reconsidering certain flippant remarks about pink tutus.
Riso’s parents died in a deliberately set fire and he, mere minutes after assuring me that elves have no soul, turns out to be one. Biologically at least. His name may, or may not be, Thanul. I barely heard it. Certainly don't know how to spell it.
Constantia isn’t, and has a good reason to kill birds that might approach her.
My mother is currently okay, but a Kartaran expeditionary force is approaching in the interests of discovering my whereabouts.
The Baron whose demesne we avoided because he had made some agreement to kill Cadmus approaches with an army, determined to assist Constantia, an act only he knows will occur.
Constantia has been feeding the army of 50,000 men to the aliens rather than fighting them. She and her dark elf cohorts have reduced that army to no more than 15,000 men.
Cadmus was responsible for the assassination attempt upon Constantia that I spent hours trying to unravel, that got Thodric identified by the enemies who thought him dead and lead to the deaths of many of our guards.
I think that is worth repeating, dear friends.
Cadmus was responsible for the assassination attempt upon Constantia that I spent hours trying to unravel, that got Thodric identified by the enemies who thought him dead and lead to the deaths of many of our guards.
After winging the darts at the shielded Margravine, he transformed into a bird and flew away. He clerics, mages whatever saw this. Methinks her destruction of birds was not so insane, if a little exaggerated.
Cadmus was never mugged and did not lose my crystal to thugs.
Again, I suspect this is worth repeating.
Cadmus was never mugged and did not lose my crystal to thugs.
No. He deliberately handed it over. Yes. My crystal. My mind, my soul etc, etc. And he, in the guise of friendship, pretending to look after it for safety, to keep it protected, gave it away. !#$)$% *!@#~%)( !@#$)(*!#~@$ !)($*!@#$ *!@#$ !@#)$(*!%(*!@#$!#$~ !^*)(!*$%) *$~* @#~+#$ %* ~_($*!@#.
Then Loki, mining my memories!, gave it to the Baron who now approaches with an army. And created a fake in which resided the alien queen and was placed within Alden’s safest of places. Until it got out…
Cadmus betrayed me. He then burned down a part of Alden’s main port town. And why? First, Cadmus hires some guys to make his story of alcoholism and mugging convincing. They then leave town and Cadmus _creates a fake descriptions_ of his mugger, wasting the time of myself, my companions and the local authorities. Pledging to find it, he then waits until the Hand of Loki decides it is time to return the _fake_ crystal. Choosing a red-headed stranger at random he kills him, to create an scapegoat or something and then burns the place down around the corpse to conceal any details.
And now that they’ve started to come up with some plans to deal with Constantia et al, this Cadmus/Varin _human_ has been trusted to be the only one to accompany Riso on a quick trip far to the north to try and collect some whist, or magebane, an herb that may help us destroy the sorceress. Or Alden. Who really should watch his back… And meals for awhile.
Sunday, 19th March (?), 12.30
Game date - 13 May
While my understanding was that we would wait a while, possibly up to a couple of days for Riso and Cadmus to return with the final ingredient needed for the potion to weaken and destroy Constantia (?) and her minions, we didn't pause very long at all.
The Baron, his usual perceptive self, noted before any of us a strange glow beyond the edges of the forest in the direction of his castle. Deciding to investigate, we eventually saw, in the distance, the remnants of the Ostmark army, still some thousands strong, being attacked by foul creatures that flew and breathed fire. The army was responding with missile fire of its own and seemed to be slaying many of the fell beasts.
We began heading towards the army, our strategists, ie the Baron and Thodric, or two of the three of us, deciding in their finite wisdom that taking control of the army from Constantia in the chaos might be easier.
About halfway there, a number of these flying Gargoyles came in our direction. The Baron was able to summon an elemental to keep them occupied while we fled for nearby caves he had seen. As we got closer, he, shapeshifting into a black feline form, can everybody except Thodric assume other forms!, noted dark forms around the cave's mouth. We bolted that way regardless. The dark forms turned out to be the burnt corpses of what I suspected to be felines, come far from Kartar.
Inside the cave was a young woman, grievously injured by the flame breath of the gargoyle, but sufficiently faster than the rest of her ambush to escape crispy-critter death. The young Shishireichou was near death, but Baronial intercession healed her wounds, and banished many of the old scars already upon her form. I would have prevented that if I could. She later introduced herself as Qi Yüan Mi Shang, a scout and leader sent to find, well, me. Apparently some of our seers had earlier felt the coming of these demons from above and the Empire wished as much assistance as could be procured, including powerful mages. Of course, due to my little story, she doesn't know that yet. Wish she spoke High Kartaran though.
We spoke for a little while, and I assured her that I would, at some point, be able to put her in contact with the great Mage, and she should hang around.
Thodric decided to try and head towards the army, but misjudged things and got his horse burned out from under him by a Gargoyle moments after leaving the cave. The Baron had to act quickly to save him. Mi Shang and I bolted out to try and grab what I hoped would not be just a body. Damn, that girl is quick.
Others of the original group of flying beasts, tired of being peppered by a rain of shafts from the army, began scattering as well, a group heading towards the forest despite the Baron's attempts to stop them.
As we were by this point already almost halfway to the army, it was decided to continue on, sans plan, sans poison, sans logic. Thodric lent Mi Shang his Cloak of Shadows to hide her elegant felinity from the human army.
There was little difficulty for our little group to enter and walk through the camp. Morale was clearly low, and there were the bodies of men and gargoyles everywhere.
In the habits of insufficiently paranoid leaders the world over, Constantia actually resided in the most visible and rich tent in the entire camp. Outside stood a group of some dozen guards, odds on, her dark elves.
The Baron tried to overawe the guards, to force our passage with his very will. He failed. After some bluster and noise, the flaps of the tent flew wide and Alden was raised on high and carried into the tent. Thinking quickly, the three others of us slipped through the spaces left between guards and followed him inside.
Other than the Baron struggling in the grasp of something invisible in the corner, the tent held only the evil elf and two of her people. Thodric, as ever the thought and deed indivisible, strode directly forward, hoping to challenge the three. He was basically batted aside. As I moved forward to assist him, there was a noise from outside, and a huge man in ridiculously ornate and heavy armour strode, essentially unchallenged into the tent, trailing behind him the Baron's two young page boys.
While he stood a little surprised at the scene unfolding before him, Constantia helped our cause by crying out to him, ordering this fellow to attack those who threatened her. Unfortunately, as any human would do, he assumed the dark elves near her were the threat and attacked them.
Assumption of authority over the army proceeds smoothly, with many happy to follow men who provide clear orders, and don't waste troops in pointless and fatal scouting manouvers.
A. assists me in providing space for Mi Shang and for myself, both of us requiring a certain degree of privacy. A. and I check, but there is little to be saved from our camp in the forest, now burning. The Baron's silly little army is no more.
We pause, and consider.
Sunday, 30th April, 10.30
Game date - 14-16th May
Thodric continues to manage the army, setting men to collect the bodies, and setting aside time to properly bury them. Morale is low, and any effort that might improve such is of value.
Lictors circle the camp, very few seeing even the faint traces they leave as they move, but that feeling of something evil watching, waiting, leaves men nervous.
Mi Shang continues to try and quiz me of the location of the great mage, but, while not lying, I continue to not to answer too specifically. I have vague memories suggesting my current state would be cause for death, regardless of the mind inhabiting the rakshasa body.
A day or two after the gargoyles were driven off, a cry comes from the sentries facing towards the castle. A huge creature is approaching, moving slowly and harmlessly, a flat white lictor. It is soon obvious it means to parley on behalf of whatever mind controls the demons.
A couple of us approach; the Baron as titular head of the campaign, and the owner of the lands upon which we stands, Thodric, Aeskil, of whose status I am quite uncertain and Mi Shang. We stand before the beast, looking up at it's chest, upon which is written text. Alden recognises the text as elven, but even he cannot understand it. Someone made a suggestion about talking to us in Irolon, and the text changed. One word, “Parley”. Sadly, or intriguingly, and happily considering what we saw next, the beast would not respond to High Kartaran.
After a moment of insufficient negotiation, it was agreed a small party of us would follow the demon into the castle after we retrieved our weapons and armour. I grabbed my ex-Lictor-claw blade but there was, I'm starting to suspect not surprisingly, no reaction.
Alden's castle was amazing. The demons have extensively re-built and re-designed it, the grand tower higher still, the walls scalloped and more organic, doors and openings guarded with sphincters. The few remaining gargoyles flew endlessly above the highest point of the castle. The smell was fairly bad, all rotting meat and unidentifiable filth. Occasionally the mouth watered a little as a particularly piquancy rolled over us. Some of the others were starting to go a little green.
We entered through what I think used to be a sally port, and was now… anyway. Inside, the walls were lined with resin and bodies, bodies disassembled only to be re-built in patterns and usages of bizarre alien mindset. It took a couple of minutes until I realised that some of the body parts were still alive and, perhaps, functioning. I saw a series of arteries, a bright warm web, still pulsing with blood forced through by a heart hidden somewhere.
It was actually very disquieting. Killing humans is one thing, this was just wrong.
I thoroughly lost my bearings as we were lead through the remodelled building. Eventually however, somewhere deep in the bowels of the castle, or possibly in diggings extending the original basements and dungeons we were let into a room containing the … mechanism that would communicate with us. It was a child, a young girl seated upon the floor with the back of her skull covered with some kind of bug. One has to assume she would die without it, but still the urge to rescue even this human young was strong.
Basically the demons required some 800 tonnes of sentient bio-mass, in other words, human or elven or Kartaran bodies, preferably alive. It offered weapons, magic and possibly other things for this, and guaranteed it would leave when the raw material was received and processed, presumably built into the castle.
We discussed some of the details with the girl, and then left to discuss the matter.
Some were in favour of feeding the incoming Bayern army to the beasts, others, Thodric, to shovelling Zylistani into this evil maw. However, all these evil thoughts aside, it was eventually realised at a minimum, whether we were going to feed them to the castle, or use them to attack the castle, the Duke of Bayern's army would have to lie under the control of Thodric and Alden.
So, a little travel.
After buying a little time from the mind, we rested. Actually, I spent the evening bouncing around a little, using the teleport cloak the dark elves gave us to find the approaching army.
Next day, we went and took it. It was almost that easy. We approached as evening fell, intimidated in a little way a sentry to let us in to see the generals of the army and they believed the letter of marque.
A fellow identified as a nephew of the Duke of Bayern, but wearing an amulet that pretty much marked him as a dark elf, insisted upon communicating with home to check what may have happened with Constantia et al, but that communication was enough to convince him he was in a bad place.
He left, taking with him half of those we'd identified as elves. Now I come to think of it, we didn't exactly search the personnel of this new army to ensure there weren't other elves buried somewhere in the rank and file. Oops.
Now Alden and Thodric have bi-i-ig army. Thodric really wants to kill Zylistan with it. I think he'd lose personally. Too many raw recruits.
Having a grand lot o' men mostly surrounding the castle, although I suspect many of the soldiers are on the verge of running away from the stinking building, the demons, again sending a white lictor, so cool, agree to surrender and give Thodric forces to help collect the biomass they want.
I can not help but feel that, given these forces and no further opinions, the rightful margrave, Thodric, would very likely have tried to wage war, upon Zylistan to begin with, damning his soul by dealing with such demons.
Fortunately, there were other opinions. Especially Mi Shang and I when the silly little human starting talking expansionist plans.
So, they agreed with the mind, which offered like 10 lictors, some big mage-types and a swarm of littler demons, oh, and some monstrous huge carnifex things, fully intending to ambush them a day or two away from here.
Here's me just hoping that their entire army doesn't just rout, or start deserting en masse as soon as they see the demons, or plain old lose, although that might leave the demons with their 800 tonnes anyway. Okay, what I really: I hope I don't die. After all my effort, I'd be seriously annoyed.
Sunday, 25th June, 12.30
Game date - 17th May
Evil megalomaniacal females with tremendous power: 0
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