On the cold floor of the shattered Savain estate, the still-sore rebels wake up to the icy morning glare of the Frer-manuor sun. The days leading to this morning have been a rebellion’s prelude; today, on a winter’s morn like so many others, in the Year of our Gods 2482, the first chapter’s blank pages would begin to fill.
Malcom and Elana paired off, as did Jules and Caithas, with all four companions hoping to come together later in the day at the imperial East Gate. The soldier and the sorceress needed to return Sarah, the orphan child who’d been swept up in a rebel’s tide, to her Keeper; the nobleman and his hired blade did what they did best: They went to pick a fight.
Led by the kind strangers who’d taken her in when her tutor and guardian was carted off for an inquisition, Sarah is finally returned to the loving arms of Vedrick, her Keeper. Though the scholar is horrified to learn of the true identities of Sarah’s saviors, fearing for his ward’s safety as well as his own, Vedrick holds no love for the city’s Guard either, after the violent questioning he’d just been put through. Though he cannot fully take a side and pledge loyalty to the rebel’s cause, he does help where he can, assisting the untrained pair in identifying some of their more mysterious items, including the odd potions bestowed onto the party by the quite-mad yet quite-powerful Auntie Helga. It seems that the old crone could do more than lose her cat and transmogrify her belongings…
While the soldier with the healing hands and the woman with an arcane secret did their good deed for the day, Caithas and Jules went to work. With the nobleman’s expert hand perfecting their disguises, few could tell that the half-elf and his employer were not what they appeared to be: A guardsman and a handsome priest.
The plan was simple. Caithas would accuse and abuse some townsfolk verbally and quite publicly, demanding information on the rebels’ whereabouts. Jules, in full holy-man regalia, would approach the vicious guard with some information. The guard, frenzied and worked into a lather, would drag the poor priest off into an alleyway, beat him bloody for all the city to see, and would flee like a coward at the first sign of trouble. The story would spread like wildfire and the people would find it much easier to choose the uncertainty of the rebellion over the callous cruelty of the Guard.
And, incredibly, it worked.
Unlike most other plans that the two friends had conspired on thus far, this one went off without a hitch. The priest was left beaten, taken in by a fetching young woman named Mara, which suited Jules just fine. Led back to her home, Jules let his mind wander, realizing how long it had been since he’d been with a woman. His recent marriage had done his sex life no favors, and Mara was just the kind of woman who could help a man forget his vows. Sadly for the charming nobleman, when he arrived at the woman’s home, his non-existent healing skills were called upon to cure a series of pus-oozing boils from a man’s bare ass. That was enough to snuff out any lecherous thoughts, despite the woman’s insistence that the afflicted man was not her husband. With romantic hopes dashed and his stomach turned, the disguised rebel moved towards his companions once more.
While Jules stared at a sight no man or woman wants to see, the half-elf ran when chase was given. He made his way towards the missing Erik’s shop, where Veor still searched for his abducted friend. The only moment when things seemed ready to unravel was when an arrow came whizzing by Caithas’ head, shot from an unknown assassin’s bow from above. The ranger paused, ready to give chase when he saw the assailant run from the scene, bounding along the city’s network of rooftops, but in a rare moment of thinking first and acting second, Caithas let the attacker go, choosing to remain inconspicuous. Perhaps the half-elf was learning how to survive in a city after all.
Veor and Caithas did their best to retrace the missing man’s steps, leading them to the heart of the imperial hold on Upper Andelia. A tavern dedicated to the Guard called The Golden Eagle, a bridge held by the Empire’s soldiers with iron and steel, and a street-front teeming with loyalists…the area was not the best place for a rebel half-elf. Caithas kept to the shadows while Veor gathered from one sympathetic wood-worker that Erik had indeed been taken captive, and if the rebel still lived, he was held in the Golden Eagle, where he’d been dragged, bleeding and at knife point, many hours before. With little hope of rescue with only two sets of hands, Caithas and Veor set off to find Malcom and the others to share what they’d learned…
At that very moment, Malcom busied himself with things beyond simple schemes and good deeds: He found himself forming an army. Near the East Gate, Malcom found all eyes on him when Markus introduced the former-guardsman to those pledged to the cause. Swordsmen, archers, and even those trained in heavy artillery were counted among the ranks. Twenty trained men in total listened to Malcom’s speech. Twenty trained men shouted their approval and gave the god-blessed warrior their words and their lives. Between the few guards Malcom could count on to side with their cause, along with the other rebels known before the morning’s gathering, the tiny rebellion of Andelia now counted a few dozen tried and true warriors dedicated to the cause. Some were old, some were young, but all were fierce in their convictions. It wasn’t enough, and it certainly was no match for the Imperial forces standing against them, but it was something.
It was more than there had been only three days prior. In seventy-two short hours, former-commander Markus had been saved from execution, a pair of star-crossed nobles had joined a peasants’ revolt, a bastard half-elf from Empire lands swore his blades to the foreign cause, dozens of men came out of hiding ready to lay down their lives in the name of freedom, and one former Guard named Malcom stood at the forefront of the swelling movement.
Thus the unrest grows…and so do the numbers on both sides of the struggle.