The road not taken
Prelude-It is always calm before the storm
5th of Frer-mánuðr, year 2482, Andelia
Elana and Jules bow, thanking Varenius for his help, before leaving the office. With Caithas by your side, you walk towards the ruined Vinici estate, in order to briefly check if the counselor stayed true to his promise. You are forced to take an indirect route, since using the Knight’s bridge is still prohibited. This detour gives you the chance to wander through the capital’s market. You also pass outside the church cloister: you observe several large, distinctive buildings made of stone and bearing bright red roof tiles behind the low wall surrounding the district. This must be the place Varenius was referring to, when he suggested that the day of the Einherjar, also known as the feast for the fallen, would be ideal for the wedding.
By now, Elana knows the route well, so she leads you to the manor. You see a small group of soldiers, perhaps four or five, preoccupied with mending the fence. Upon approaching, Elana is able to discern that the homeless are no longer occupying the residence. It appears that Varenius kept his word. A man in his early adulthood appears to be in charge of the soldiers; he approaches Elana, introducing himself as Corporal Malcom Dominik.
While everyone is introducing himself, a soldier rushes to the estate, greeting Malcom and requesting to speak to him. Malcom recognizes the soldier as Michael. The soldier whispers at his superior’s ear: “Sir, lieutenant Aurelius ordered that you help the noblewoman as she requests. You are relieved from your duties for the day, but you have to make sure that she is safe until otherwise ordered. He instructed me to lead the rest of the men back to the barracks as soon as our business here is done. I await your orders.”
[OOC: The group is finally together! Feel free to introduce yourselves to Malcom and do whatever you want in the city. You have the appointment with Runolf in the evening, but you are free until then.]
Malcom is working with the fence when he spies a fairly well dressed woman through a hole in the wall,
Maybe the men were right, she’s pretty good looking… but also very young. Maybe… 10 years younger? Ah the fortunes of youth. Though… with this estate, I’m not sure its fortune.
He smiles and tries to look friendly as he approaches her and introduces himself, now without the obstruction of the fence, he notices the lord and his guard behind her, “Mi’lady, Mi’lord. Corporal Malcom Dominik of the Imperial Guard.” He bows politely as etiquette requires of him before standing and meeting her gaze. He inspects them as his gaze rises, clearly they are dressed beyond the means of nearly all the citizens within the city and obviously the new owners of the estate.
He’s about to speak when he gets interrupted. “How may I-…” he turns to the guard and gives him orders to finish the fence then leave for the barracks. Before returning to the two lords.
“Excuse the intrusion please. How may I be of service?”
Caithas eyes the guards’ leader before him. He was, quite simply, the antithesis of Jules. Where the noble was lithe, the guard was stalwart; where Jules used money, charm and deception to weave through the world, this Malcom was something different. The corporal exuded a quiet intensity, supported by obvious outward strength. The man appeared friendly, but behind his kindness was an immovable determination.
I’m certain that this man has bigger things in mind than mending fences, the ranger mused.
“Good grace, Corporal! My name is Caithas Thalornn. I travel with the lady of this estate, Miss Elana Savain, and her betrothed, Sir Jules Amour. I am charged with the safety and protection of my companions, a task I shall carry out to the best if my ability until my last breath had been extracted from my lungs.”
Gods, but what shit, the half-elf silently chastised himself. Yet, despite his skullduggery and subterfuge, his words felt strangely honest…
Jules looked the decaying estate up and down before finally coming to a decision.
Maybe she wouldn’t mind ze north, zey have fish, and snow, and…Grace, and…Dunia. No zat is a bad idea. Ah suppose Ah will have to make due with zis for ze time being.
Jules turns to speak with the corporal as he hears Caithas’ introduction. The words made Jules mentally cringe as the bravado spilled out of Caithas’ mouth. He waited until Caithas had finished before introducing himself to the soldier,
“As my guardian has told you, Ah am Jules Amour, soon to be husband of Lady Elana Savain. Ah was aware zat zis was to be our marital home, but it seems now zat it may need some work before zat can happen. Regardless, thank you for clearing ze lurking common folk out before our arrival.”
Jules couldn’t tell what to make of the man. A true soldier in the line of duty had almost always been unreadable for him. Duty, honor, dedication, all balled into one law abiding body. Now, drunk and ranting about their wives and commanders, then he could see who they were.
Dipping a courteous bow, Elana introduces herself after Caithas. “Pleased to meet you, Corporal. My betrothed and I were just inspecting the estate grounds before retiring to the master rector’s estate for the evening.”
With the squatters gone the building looked a little less intimidating, though it had a long way to go before it was livable (at least, without drawing shame to her name). “Corporal,” she continued, an amused tone crawling in to her voice. “You didn’t have to repair the fence yourself. I’m sure the repairs will be seen to shortly, though I do appreciate the initiative.”
Corporal Malcom seemed like an honest man to her, and Elana made a note of that; honest men were hard to find and valuable friends. Considering her position, she could certainly use a reliable friend.
Common folk, Gods! The ranger listened to his charge patiently but felt his muscles clench at the term. Doesn’t the fool know these soldiers are common too? Doesn’t Jules have any fucking clue how he sounds to this working-class, duty-bound soldier?
The ranger, for perhaps the nine thousandth time, wondered what he would do when he next saw Greycloak. On one hand, the old wizard had been as good as his word so far; Kyra’s excerpts held the proof of that. On the other, the half-elf thought bitterly, he was a man of honor, son of Cyan Thalornn and the forest and the sky, not a gods-bedamned spy.
For a moment the ranger thought about how much easier life would be in the corporal’s place: a job, a goal, mayhaps a family, and no wizards pulling decade-old heart strings. But to serve the imperial hoards, an ancient and corrupt crown, and subjugate a once-free folk? The moment ended quickly; the half-elf realized, without much pleasure, that’d he’d rather be a free spy than a yolked man of the crown.
Pulling himself from his thoughts, Caithas kept his eyes on the three humans before him, waiting to see what their (and thus, his own) next move would be. And despite his concentration, the ranger sensed movement about him on a level beyond the material, as if the wheel of fate decided to pick this moment to start grinding her eternal gears.
Malcom looks shyly embarrassed at the lady’s offer, “It isn’t any trouble Mi’lady, the wall is nearly completed anyways. Besides, its practically our fault the estate is in disrepair.” He thinks for a moment on his words and clarifies, “No one has lived here for many a years, so we saw fit not to cause commotion with the homeless.”
Returning to his normal composure and smiling face he looks back upon the lady, “My men will leave as soon as they’ve finished the wall. I will remain for your protection, as well as a source of information, should you have questions on Andelia or her history.”
Malcom nods in acknowledgement to Caithas, “Well met Sir Thalornn. Keep a ready eye on your surroundings, the city is a rough one.”
Finally he looks at the lord, “Your Lordship, thank you for your praise, but do not think harshly of them, times are tough and there are many homeless with many mouths to feed, now please, let us move within the estate. We can talk about things further once inside.”
Malcom makes no attempt to hide his scanning of the surroundings, before he motions to the trio to enter before him.
Without waiting for the nobles, Caithas spoke up quickly, “Thank you, good Corporal Malcom. I’d join you for a moment.”
He’ll be fine, the ranger thought. They’ll be just fine. Besides, she’ll come in. Elana’s face flashed in his mind like fire.
He’ll come after her. But the soldier and this city offer far more than Amour, barring the rest of that journal…if the ranger could somehow get the book, he could end this charade and move on with his life. He knew he could.
He could find Latis. He could find the end and the future.
Or he could just keep moving and damn any quests or vengeance; ten years was enough, the half-elf thought bitterly. But what, then…
I think they’ll be just fine, Caithas thinks as he strides after the confident, kind corporal. So it goes.
Jules follows the corporal as he leads them into the estate. He thought on the corporal’s remarks toward him. In Lineen it would have been seen as unacceptable for a soldier of any sort to address a lord with the concerns of those beneath the noble’s station, much less ask them for kindness on their behalf, even if made with respect.
Perhaps zer is more to zis soldier zan a suit of armor and a strong sword arm. He speaks freely without censoring himself for ze nobles before him.
He didn’t speak with disrespect like Caithas had when they first met, but he still stated his mind even while keeping his armor of respect firmly in place. It could be nothing but a difference in custom between the colonies and Lineen, or it could be that this soldier is cut of a more interesting cloth than Jules had first thought.
Bits of shattered glass and crumbled mortar crunch under the boots as the group passes into the estate. Elana noticed Malcom’s cautious behavior, noting it wasn’t for any fear of the stability of the building; he was much more relaxed now, but he was subtly keeping an eye out for something or someone while on the streets. Maybe it was just this part of town, who knew? Elana didn’t bring it up, wanting to respect his privacy.
She was glad to be out of Varenius’ offices. It must’ve been the overwhelming shock that came with the chance meeting with Jules that set off her warning signals. Elana wasn’t quite sure what was happening with her mind; the high frequency pings were usually followed by the strange whispers that she heard, unless she managed to calm down. It seemed as though she were losing her mind, and the creeping sense of insanity did little to placate her already delicate temperament.
Two days! The wedding is in two days!
No, she couldn’t think about that now, not in front of Jules. Like she did with so many of the things on her mind, she compartmentalized her problems, letting herself only focus on the moment.
“So Corporal, the three of us are relatively new to Andelia. What can you tell us of the city’s current state?” Grey Hold wasn’t far, and she had heard quite a bit of the rumblings about Andelia’s woes. She was looking to see how much Malcolm knew, how much he would share, and his tact; it was a simple test of his traits. Whether or not he was blind, how open he was about his knowledge, and his delivery. If he was to be her temporary ward, she needed to know his strengths and weaknesses.
Once within the estate Malcom led them inside the main building, holding the door for them. Once inside he led them to what would of been a entertainment area, or perhaps for dining, he couldn’t tell, but the room was fairly large and had a lot of windows. The house is fairly clean except for a few rags left behind. Though it did have a certain… air about it. Taking note, he cracked one of the windows open, all the while answering the woman’s question.
“The cities current state? Ah well… I hate to be the one to inform you of this, but Andelia’s woes are great, I can not lie to you. Your timing couldn’t have been more unfortunate if it was planned. The native population is suffering greatly under the weight of the Empire, and seek retribution. There’s riots and protests in the street with ever increasing frequency. It’s a pot of oil left on the fire for to long.”
“The local unrest aside, Andelia is a decent enough looking city provided you say by the river or outside of the walls.” he jokes mildly, but there is a certain truth to it. “The citizens will likely leave you alone, so long as you do not show any allegiance to the crown, not openly anyways, and treat them with some respect. However… again, I’m afraid, we may have already allied you with the Empire just by our presence here.”
Caithas’ slightly spiked ears quite literally perked up when he heard the corporal speak. The tone he’d expected, the tone of an imperial solider, wasn’t what he was hearing; rather, he heard…honesty?
“Corporal, as a stranger in a strange land, I certainly appreciate your forthrightness. But something strikes me as odd.”
The ranger paused here, holding the gaze of the soldier, searching for any facial cue one way or the other; any hint; anything that might help sway him from one chosen path to another. The balance would only take an ounce on one side or the other to throw the whole damn thing in disarray.
“You are a solider of the crown, distant though that crown may be. We currently sit in your company, with your soldiers outside, armed with the sigil of the monarchy. And yet…,” the half-elf paused, genuinely unsure whether he should go on or not. “I hope I am not too far beyond the pale, Corporal…,” Caithas stuttered, holding his empty hands outward and up, a sign of supplication and innocence across the seas.
After a breath, the ranger continued, “And yet you said yourself that the natives of Svorinn are ‘suffering greatly under the weight of the Empire’. Am I wrong in thinking that that is an odd choice of words for a ranking soldier of the crown?”
Jules hardly noticed the estate’s condition as he listened to the corporal. His mind flashed to the face of his father when he heard of the rioting and unrest. Could this have been why his father wanted him in Andelia? what did he expect, for Jules to take advantage of the situation?
No, more likely he wants me to fall victim to zis upheaval. And zis wedding, on a holiday supporting ze Empire’s prowess, Ah cannot think of a worse time to have a marriage in zis city.
As Jules thinks on what the state of Andelia could cost him, he hears Caithas begin questioning the corporal. Perhaps his bodyguard could bring out the truth about Dominik that a lording couldn’t. Jules turns his back on the two men as they speak and begins to wander the room, trying to look as disinterested as possible in their conversation.
[OOC: You are free to role-play some more, especially Malcom has some question to answer. The following happens once you are done with the estate.]
You leave the crumbling Vicini estate to its sad fate, hoping that the rusty fence and the visit from the guards will act as a deterrent to any desolate seeking shelter. Without any repairs, none of you would want to stay there for more than a few hours. Instead, the group heads to the docks. There, Jules and Elana pick up whatever luggage they have left and, with Caithas’ and Malcom’s assistance, they carry their possessions to the guesthouses in the rector’s estate. The estate is empty, except for a pair of guards standing outside the main entrance. They have been informed of your arrival; as the nobles pass by, they stand in attention. They also salute Malcom in a typical military fashion.
[OOC: At this point, Malcom can go, if Elana allows him to.]
The three newcomers to Andelia unpack and arrange their items: Jules and Caithas are forced to share a single room, but lady Elana has a room all to herself. You all take some time to freshen up as well: Jules and Caithas have been travelling by ship for more than a ten-day, so bathing will be a welcome change. The same goes for Elana, who was forced to sleep in Ulf’s tavern the night before. Bathtubs and hot water are provided for in a small room next to your bedroom.
By now, the sun is setting and you are all feeling extremely tired and hungry. You remember that you did not have lunch, so visiting the Singing Siren restaurant for your rendezvous with Greycloak sounds like a good idea. As soon as you’re ready, you head out for dinner. You enter a lavishly decorated, well kept inn with several patrons, many of whom are nobles. A large piano sits atop a wooden platform, which rests slightly above the establishment’s floor. An elegantly dressed old man is playing the instrument, contributing to the relaxing atmosphere in the restaurant.
Caithas and Jules recognize Runolf sitting alone at a table. As you approach him, he gets up from his chair, turns to Lady Elana and bows: “Enchanted, my lady. I am Runolf Greycloak, a humble business partner of your betrothed.” He then turns to Caithas, saying: “We have matters to discuss, my friend. I think it would be best to allow the young couple some privacy.” He points at an empty table on the back, reserved at his name. As the couple walks away, he turns to Caithas again, keeping a watchful eye on the two nobles: “Have you earned the nobles’ trust already?”
[OOC: Jules and Elana can have their first awkward date. If Malcom decides to join in, he can either sit at the bar, or with Runolf and Caithas. In the latter case, Runolf will be a bit more careful with his words (e.g. consider the last part not said).]
[OOC: Elana has no further questions for Malcom at the estate, and if he wishes to leave she won’t stop him.]
It’s amazing how much a warm bath can relax and alter your mood. The rector’s wash room was quite luxurious, and Elana indulged in the calming sensation of the hot water, though her mind was still racing with the day’s developments. Just thinking about the marriage elicited a groan from her as she slowly let herself sink beneath the water’s surface, enjoying the alien sound of submersion. The ceremony was in two days, which was all together terrifying; she wouldn’t even let herself consider the wedding night. Everything was changing so quickly and so permanently.
Of course it could have been worse. She could’ve been wed to a pauper or some foul lordling, but instead she got Jules. Granted, she didn’t know him yet, but he didn’t seem all that bad. It didn’t matter; he wasn’t her choice, and so she’d never be happy with him, or so she believed.
Despite being ravenously hungry, Elana wasn’t too thrilled with the prospects of dinner with the party she’d accumulated, but she didn’t raise a complaint. Her footing with Jules was off to an awkward start, at best, and she knew she should be trying to make the best of it. Rummaging through her belongings, Elana donned a beautiful green dress and changed out of her travel worn boots into something more elegant. The neckline was trimmed with gold, as were the sleeves which had leather laces that wound about the wrist. A simple belt cinched her waist, adorned with the Savain House symbol; a golden eagle in flight.
Lastly she fastened her amber necklace. Looking at it reminded her of Griff and the fact that he was as good as imprisoned. “Because of me,” she thought sadly. “If I hadn’t involved myself in his life, this never would have happened. He’d be free and happy.” It seemed that fate had made prisoners of them both, though she was under no delusion that hers was any worse a predicament.
The restaurant was surprisingly elegant; it’s name and exterior gave the impression that is was just your standard tavern. Elana greeted Runolf politely, though paid him little after he and Caithas shuffled off to the bar. She took a seat at a table across from Jules. Normally she could talk her way in and out of most situations, but this time she felt as though there was nothing to say. Instead, she watched the pianist momentarily. “He’s quite good,” she complimented, wincing at the awkward start. Anyone watching her may have noticed her fingers tapping across the table, as though she were following the pianist’s movements.
Malcom looks to either lord to see if they will stop their guard from overstepping his bounds. But much to his dismay… they don’t. The lord even seems to wander losing interest in him.
They must be curious themselves then…
Malcom brings himself to full height and stands squared away at Caithas, he tries to fake anger, “And just what are you implying?”
He shakes his head, relaxing as he does so, “It doesn’t matter what you imply. My words were true and as I said, I cannot lie to you. The Empire is great and large, it’s reach far and wide. It’s grasp tight and absolute.” He slowly begins to ease up on his fake anger, “I only mean to say the truth, as was asked of me. But what care you for a battled soldier’s disgruntled feelings?”
He looks between the lord and the lady, “If I may be open within your walls, as your guard is, I am not behold to the crown. Many years ago I survived the slaughter of the native people, who in revolt, were blinded to our superior numbers and strength. No longer within the confines of the mind of my youth, my loyalties lie with humanity, with good, and with my family. I serve as a guard to protect the people as much as serve the Empire.”
He stops for a moment and looks around the room. “I apologize for my outburst. It’s bad subject to speak on, made even worse by my wife’s late family and my own misdeeds.” He sighs and rubs his forehead, trying to clear it of the ill thoughts and oncoming headache. It was hard to think of the correct and respectful course of action but he tried. “I’ll… wait outside for you.” He turned to leave the room.
[OOC: I am assuming that Malcom leaves the other three to return to the Drunken Townsman.]
As you enter the Tavern’s secret room, you are greeted by Decius, Ovidius, Veor and Erik. It’s less than two days for the execution, so everyone is eager to discuss the plans for the day of the Einherjar.
“The veterans have been informed of our plan. Tomorrow, I will let them in on the specifics”, Ovidius says. “We can count on a thirty men; the more indecisive ones will act depending on how things go.” He collects his thoughts, before adding: “If we manage to save Markus, many of the men of thirteen will join him, I have no doubt about that.”
As Ovidius concludes, Veor informs everyone about the progress on his part: “The banished brothers will be notified of the uprising. I have sent a message through trusted and safe channels. Unfortunately, it will take days before they receive the message, and probably even more before a sizable force can come to our aid.” He turns to Ovidius: “We must not forget that the execution in scheduled on the day of the Einherjar. If we could somehow gain access to the food and wine prepared for the feast, we could debilitate a significant portion of the garrison.” With no little sorrow, he adds: “Unfortunately, this would mean that we would have to give up our plan to save Markus, since this would alert all military forces in the city.” He looks at everyone sitting around the table, eager to listen to their thoughts on this alternative plan.
It is Erik’s turn to speak: “The Svodun are eager to crush the loyalist scum, but without proper equipment, there is not much that they can do. My most recent estimate is that about five hundred Svodun live within the city, but about a hundred and fifty of them are able to take up arms. However, without any weapons or armor, they do not stand a chance against the legions.”
Everyone turns to you, eager to hear how many men they can expect from the guard.
[OOC: The guard is about ninety men strong; you know that at least ten men are openly critical of the Imperial administration, but with some convincing, more men might be able to join you. In addition, you have access to the Guard’s storage rooms: you know you could find enough arms and armor to equip fifty men, if you could somehow pull this off under lieutenant Aurelius’ nose.]
Decius listens silently from the corner, adding when everyone is done talking: “Thirty veterans, a hundred and fifty natives with no equipment and a handful of men from the guard. According to everyone’s estimates, the city’s permanent garrison is about two hundred and fifty trained men.” He sighs with concern: “We might be able to hold for a few days, but without additional allies, we will be crushed by the professional soldiers of the garrison. And may the Gods have mercy on us all when the legions descend in full force upon us.” You remember that, while a company from each of the loyalist legions IX and XI is stationed within the city, the main bulk of their forces are outstationed in the small settlements around Andelia. In addition, conscripted soldiers might be employed to quench the rebellion. “We must turn to other organizations within the city to gain whatever allies we can, as soon as the riots start. Otherwise, this whole endeavor is doomed to failure.”
[OOC: @ Malcom: You are free to discuss tactics, potential alliances and all such issues with the four men.]
Veor switches the subject, saying: “Right, now let’s focus on the specific task at hand. If we all agree on saving Markus on the day of the Einherjar, then we should discuss the details of our plan of action.” He unfolds a dirty piece of paper, which depicts the Marketplace of Andelia and a few of the surrounding buildings. “The execution is scheduled to occur in the marketplace, where no doubt a large crowd will gather. We should be able to move undetected within this crowd.”
Ovidius interrupts: “The thirty veterans will be hiding in dark green cloaks within the crowd; they will all be instructed to strike once the signal is given. I do not know how many Imperial soldiers will be guarding the event, but we should have the benefit of numbers. Nevertheless, we must not forget that the barracks are in close proximity. We must act swiftly if we are to be successful.”
Veor continues: “Ovidius, we need a marksman to eliminate the executioner, and there is none better than you. With a few of your men, you can hide in the second floor of the miller’s house, which is just opposite of the marketplace. You can take a few of your men with you, in case you meet any resistance. Once the coast is clear, you should take the shot. We cannot afford to fail, so additional archers might be a wise idea. Once the shot has been dealt, the rest of our men will move in, taking advantage of the chaos, to release Markus and escort him to safety.”
Veor looks at the rest of the men sitting around the table, before continuing: “Before taking the shot, we need a diversion to mislead the Imperial soldiers. I should be able to provide you with such a diversion. In addition, we need an individual with keen eyes to signal Ovidius on just the right moment, to take the shot. Erik, take as many Svodun as you can equip to stir some chaos and help with the fighting once all hell breaks loose. If all goes according to the plan, we should meet here, with Markus by our side.” Veor looks at everyone inquisitively, eventually turning to Malcom and asking: “If you have any suggestions, please make them now. I very much doubt that everything will go according to the plan, so we should be prepared for everything.”
[OOC: Malcom, feel free to change the plan or suggest a role for you and your men during the execution.]
In the crumbling mansion, Caithas nods at the soldier, at a loss for words. He manages to mumble, “Thanks, good Corporal…,” as the soldier walks slowly out of the wreckage.
Good gods, the half-elf wondered dumbstruck, the crown’s grip here is tenuous at best, hanging on by a thread at worst! Across the sea, when Svorinn was mentioned, the news was usually vague, detailing a productive colony of mercurial folk. But this? A corporal in the crown’s employ freely discussing not only his own negative view, but extrapolating it to include most of this damned city? Curiouser and curiouser.
The ranger watched the soldier leave with some dismay; left with just the nobles, his tainted blood and caste seemed more apparent than when the outspoken soldier had been there. Caithas hoped their paths would cross again, for better or worse.
Glancing at his companions, he spoke quietly, “Shall we dine, my lord and lady?”
At the restaurant, Caithas watches the two nobles retreat to their table near the pianist, his gaze lingering on Elana’s flawless form, hugged at every curve by her luxurious, emerald gown.
His head snapped around when he heard Greycloak’s question, and for the first time it occurred to the ranger that it was time now to make a choice.
“And a good night to you too Greycloak. What is it you want to know? Whether I have earned Sir Amour’s trust? Or whether I have any information to benefit you? After all, old man, I’ve yet to hear an unselfish thought escape your lips.”
Caithas assesses the room around him as he speaks, and his shared table specifically. He sees the old man’s satchel draped over the arm of his dining chair, the satchel that first produced his departed wife’s diary and started him on the gods-bedamned path. If I could just get the book, the half-elf thought, I could be rid of this leech…whether the road leads to Jules, to Elana, to the corporal or ultimately to Laitis…no matter what path the wheel of fate spins me down, it will not be one beholden to this one. Caithas’ eyes wander to the bag as he awaits Runolf’s response.
(OOC: If Caithas is ever going to try to steal that journal, now’s the time. I’m not certain which skill is best for this moment, but I’ll suggest a Stealth +2 check)
The relaxation of the hot bath was the best Jules had felt since leaving Yorvik. The water of Yorvik was almost always cold, even when heated it became lukewarm within minutes. So this was Jules first real warm bath in over a year. The wedding weighed heavily on his mind.
Ah didn’t want to get married in ze first place, but by ze hells if Ah must marry zen Ah will be damn sure zat she is doing it out of more than her uptight noble duty.
As Jules rummaged through his belongings to find appropriate clothes for his first meal with his bride-to-be, he felt his hand wrap around the handle of his protection. He thought on the state of Andelia and the chaos that Corporal Dominik felt brewing.
Hells, Ah hope Caithas knows how to use those things. Otherwise a rebellion just might help set a record for ze shortest Amour marriage, and zat would be saying something.
Dressed in the traditional reds and whites of house Amour, Jules shut his chest and straightened his vest before heading out to dinner. The tavern was not what Jules had expected, nobility and wealthy merchants dotted the room. Before he sits at the table with Elana he takes a moment to notice her apparel. The clothes were well made as are all the clothes of a noblewoman, no surprise there, but the symbol on her belt was what brought a twisted smile and a faint chuckle to his lips.
Of course her family symbol would be ze eagle, as ze lords conspire to tie down yet another free spirit in zis world.
After listening to her first remark on the music, Jules decided that he would need a different approach to win her over. If charm and flattery won’t work then he would have to turn to honesty, nothing brings two strangers together better than talking about people they hate.
“So, my lady, if Ah might be so bold as to ask, what happened to warrant your uncle deciding you here, to zis crumbling estate, to marry a man who has never spoke two words to anyone in House Savain?”
Malcom did little else while in the company of the trio. After what happened earlier he kept his mouth shut except for short answers. In the end all he did was follow them back to the rectors. The lady was taking a bath so he stood guard down the hall from both her room and the bath. He did have his orders after all, even if things were a little off now… maybe he could make supporters out of them? Though… only the rouge-ish guard seemed to be fit for combat… No matter, every helping hand was a good one. And he seemed interested, not accusing at the thought, perhaps he’ll give him a second chance. He doesn’t even notice her move between the rooms, and only notices her when she goes to leave.
“You look elegant Mi’lady.” he said in passing to her. He ‘escorted’ her to the dinner, asking only just as the arrived, “I believe Sir Thalornn can take care of the two of you while you are having dinner, and I do not wish to impose upon you and your soon-to-be husband. I have business to attend to, and I ask kindly of you if I may attend to it. I will be back before your dinner is over. If I am needed before then, do not hesitate to send for me.”
[[Assuming since you said that you would let me go earlier… I’m going to head to the drunken townsman as Vlad said.]]
He thinks for a moment, “The Bridges. We can use them against the guard, split the city in two. Destroying the Sheppard’s bridge would force the guards reinforcements to try and swim the river, which would be no easy task in armor, or try and cross the knights bridge, which should be easy to hold. It might also serve as a good distraction if the bridge ‘accidentally’ caught on fire. Plus that would also destroy a way into the city, making her more defensible. Plus if we are even luckier, the debris will fall into the river and keep the navy from moving into the city. As for the polluting of the food and drinks… Perhaps we could pay off some servers? have a single giant cask poisoned and leave it untapped until minutes before our plan?”
“As for equipment and guards… there’s about 90 guards. 10 of them openly state their position against the empire…. and a bit more could perhaps be persuaded…” he tries to estimate how much weapons are in the storage rooms “Perhaps, if I had some cunning assistance, we could use the guards weapons… It might be difficult to lift them under watchful eyes. But if we’re lucky we can convince the quarter master to join us. At most we could arm maybe 55 men… but I haven’t exactly counted all the sets of equipment.”
“How long till the general would arrive afterwards? What’s everyone’s opinion on if we could hold til then?”
Jules’ honesty caught her off guard. She had intended to maintain a civil facade, letting him and everyone else believe that she was at least satisfied with the marriage. Now that he had questioned Mannix’s decision to wed them, it tempted her to reply with honesty. “I . . . don’t know why Lord Mannix chose to wed me to your House. He’s always felt that I was a burden, and anything he’d do for me always had an ulterior motive, or was simply out of spite. Like the estate, which I’m sure he knew about.”
She wasn’t going to go right out and say that he wed her to Amour because they were a lesser house; that would be too blunt. This way it was insinuated that maybe there was some subtle reasons for the match.
It struck her then that Jules didn’t seem to be in the loop about the whole thing. Could he be getting wed against his will also? It was rare, but in some instances when men married above their station they had to be less scrupulous about the appearance and character of their wife, which would lead to some unpleasantness. Not that she suffered from hubris, but Elana knew that she was attractive. So . . . it was possible that he was in the same boat she was, or maybe he was just humoring her knowledge about the details of the marriage.
Another thought occurred to her. She glanced over at Caithas at the bar. Maybe . . . he wasn’t attracted to women? That certainly would explain that relationship.
Elana coughed into her hand to stifle a giggle. No, that’d be too far fetched. Then again . . . Jules was certainly a pretty boy, slim too. Caithas had the rugged handsomeness part down.
She shook the thoughts from her head. “If I may be so bold in return, why did you . . . choose me? You must know that my assets are virtually profitless.”
Decius looks at Malcom with genuine concern: “I fear I do not know anything about Verus’ arrival. I doubt if anyone knows, other than the general himself. Holgrath is a fortified city with a strong garrison. We can only hope that Verus will take it by surprise, otherwise months of siege will be required to claim it.” He concludes: “It is not much, but this is the only chance we will be given. I am still in favor of proceeding with the plan.”
Veor then addresses Malcom’s question about poisoning the drinks during the feast: “Without an execution, there will be no celebration. If we opt for this alternative, we have to forget about rescuing Markus.” He adds grimly: “A dark choice this might be, but we have to consider that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. On the other hand, rescuing Markus might just tip the peoples’ allegiance to our favor.”
Finally, Erik comments on Malcom’s idea of destroying Shepherd’s bridge: “I‘ve thought of this myself. I think it is an excellent idea, but not all agree with me.” He looks at Veor with slight discontent, before continuing: “Destroying the Shepherd’s bridge might not be the best plan of action, since it leads outside the walls of upper Andelia. Even if soldiers use this bridge, we can use the walls to our advantage and pepper the Imperials with arrows. On the other hand, destroying the Knight’s bridge will be better, if we cannot hold the gate.”
Ovidius adds to that: “Destroying the bridge will require either explosives of powerful magic, and we have neither. On the other hand, we can control the bridges with strategically placed archers. One choking point would be better than two, but if destroying a bridge is not a viable alternative, then we have to plan based on this assumption.”
Veor, slightly concerned with where the discussion is going, expresses his own opinion: “We must remember that, if this escalates into a siege, we will be at a disadvantage. We will probably be unable to hold against the combined imperial forces for too long. On the other hand, urban guerilla warfare is where we will have an advantage. Destroying the bridges is too drastic a measure, at least for now.”
The argument ends as Decius calls for everyone to vote on the subject. Erik and Ovidius vote in favor of destroying the Knight’s bridge, while Veor and Decius vote against. Decius turns to you: it looks like you will be casting the deciding vote.
[OOC: You can try to argue some more, or vote. The exact plan of action, i.e. what missions to carry out (blow up bridge, steal weapons from armory, poison ale) will develop into a series of subquests, so choose wisely . Also, regarding the plan of action for the execution day: you can suggest an alternative one, otherwise you have to choose what role to assume (sniper, diversion, signaler, soldier in the crowd or other).]
[OOC: Let’s assume that the satchel is on the floor, to make things a bit more plausible.]
Greycloak sighs in disappointment. By now, you have learned that such a sigh usually precedes a long lecture by the old man. Indeed, he confirms your prediction as he starts talking: “I see that spending time with that lovely lady has not made you any more poetic. Very well, I will be blunt and direct, since you seem unable to take orders otherwise: does the nobleman trust you?”
He pauses for a while, before adding: “There’s something wrong in this city… I cannot put my finger on it, but it seems that this is a very bad time for business indeed. What about that guard that accompanied Lady Savain here? He looks like a fishy fellow. Have you learned anything about him? You should keep an eye on this Malcom.”
“Besides,” he adds, “who are you to lecture me about altruism? Your motives are as selfish as mine. Name the man that is not motivated by self-interest, and I will give him all my riches. Even the humblest saints cannot claim to be entirely altruistic, since…”
As the old man continues talking, your attention shifts to his satchel, currently lying on the floor. With a bit of luck, you could pull it closer to you with your leg, but chances are that this would not go unnoticed.
[OOC: I think a Stealth check is not appropriate, since a sleight of hand check seems much more fitting. I would be willing to make an exception if you give me the rationale for using Stealth instead. Bluff might also work, if you want to momentarily distract him and try to quickly snatch the satchel. Unfortunately, you are not trained in Sleight of Hand, so you will fail if you try, since you need to beat a DC of 20 to pull it off. Also, your armor cancels out your Dex modifier, so you do not get any bonus on the check (whether it is Stealth or Sleight of Hand). Let me know if you still want to try it, though.]
(OOC: Fair enough. It’s a damn shame this ranger isn’t much of a thief! So let’s shoot for a bluff check + 3, thanks to the natural plus one and the favored enemies bonus, and see what happens)
The ranger stretches his legs out, finding that the bag was indeed within his reach, but with the old man’s hawk-like eyes on him, it seemed foolhardy to try to steal the damn thing. But, Caithas concluded, I’ll be damned if I’ll be beholden to this old bastard any longer.
So, Caithas tried a different route.
“Let’s be very clear, old man; you need me a hell of a lot more than I need you. You hold Kyra’s diary, aye, and I won’t pretend I don’t want it. But you have money, time, and business on the line here. Besides, do you really want two noble houses knowing that you’ve sent a half-elf to spy on them?”
Caithas takes a sip from his wine glass and grins as wide as he dares. Here goes nothing.
“So the days of you treating me like an errand boy won’t last, I fear. You got me across the ocean, and for that I thank you. But you had best find other eyes because mine are no longer for sale. So here is what is going to happen,” the ranger said as he leaned forward with his elbows on the table, “I am going to put five gold pieces on the table and you are going to give me my wife’s book. Because, let’s face it Greycloak, we’re in a crowded restaurant in a bustling city; causing a scene can’t be what you want, right?”
“I’ll tell you two things, old man. One, I don’t believe that my wife’s words will lead me any closer to her killer, and I think you know the same. Two, you’re right about one thing: There’s something more than wrong with this city. It is,” the ranger paused as he finished his wine, “quite simply, a fucking powder keg ready to burst at a moment’s notice.”
“It seems to me that Sir Amour and Lady Savain, seated of so sweetly right over there, along with their far more powerful families, would be very interested in knowing that an unassuming old man named Runolf Greycloak has sent a spy to watch them. Seeing as I have told you nothing, my loyalties are good; yours, less so. And really, no one wants a messy end to a lovely meal, do they?”
Caithas leaned back, pulled out his purse, and removed five old coins, clinking them around in his left hand while his right rested on his scimitar’s hilt. With a crooked smile, he said, “So how about that fucking book, Greycloak?”
Damn it all… this all felt like a giant game of chess, one where he has only pawns, while the enemy had bishops, rooks, knights and queens.
“Alright, here’s my final suggestion for the plan. We save Markus, damn the revolution for now, it’s far to risky… Ovidius, Veor and Erik. You know what you must do initially. We use a small group of men, no need to include the people in this operation, but we should be prepared for anything and poised to help them if they try to revolt.
That being said, the men at the event should stay cloaked and stay within the crowd until we begin. We will assign each soldier a guard to subdue. Kill them if we must. During the panic we must free Markus of his bindings and cloak him within the crowd. And hopefully any guards watching will lose track of him. Then its a matter of escorting him here, which hopefully should be easier with the guard distracted. Or perhaps more cunning, we can hide him within a cart placed nearby? Have it deliver a shipment to the drunken townsman at night? In any case, once he’s clear we will need a signal to order the men to stop fighting and scatter. Once they are out of sight of everyone they should either hide, destroy or remove their cloaks."
He shifts in his seat, anticipating some sort of argument against his plan.
They’re right in any aspect though… We cannot rely on the General or the Brother’s arrival before the Legions, especially with no information on it. And anyone coming through the Shepherd’s bridge from the outside would still need to go across the Knight’s bridge. So we could hold the Shepherds bridge and fall back to the knights bridge if we start to lose it. This was madness! I still have his family to watch over.
What would he have them do? Flee to another city is the only viable option… across the ocean and they might never return, stay and they maybe injured or worse… his eyes glazed over for a bit thinking about it
Jules openly chuckled at the thought of him being the one to choose Elana. He had come into this thinking she knew him, or at least knew of him. This woman didn’t have any idea the fate her uncle had signed her up for. A twisted blend of pity, pride, and bitterness welled in Jules as he spoke.
“My dear, it seems zat someone has failed to inform you of what has been done to you. But as we are not yet married Ah feel it is not yet important to begin lying to one another, and as such it seems that you have ze right to know what you are getting in to. Ah have no doubt zat your uncle intended to relieve himself of his burden in marrying you to me, but not in ze way you think.
“Ah had no say in zis arrangement, but Ah must say zat if Ah did Ah would not pick you, it would be a shame to bring suffering to one such as you. Ah am under orders from my father to wed you so that one day Ah can be out of his way and my sister can rise to power. So ze real question to ask is zis, why would our respective lords feel zat marrying ze two of us together would provide any benefit to zem?
“Your uncle raises you into a legitimate position of influence that could potentially come back to bite him later, and my father stands to gain nothing from our union; if anything it only serves to hinder his plans, by making me appear as a suitable heir. So tell me, why do you think ze want us to marry?”
Jules let his words hang in the air, locking eyes with his fiance, waiting for her response. Would she come to the same conclusion that Jules had? If she did maybe his theory was more than just the wine-drenched thoughts of a young romantic. Maybe he had a legitimate reason to be afraid.
So Jules was the black sheep of his family too? That was interesting, only it raised more questions than it answered. The knowledge that Jules was being forced into the marriage was both comforting and confusing; at least now she wasn’t alone in this. But why did their families agree to this match? Both sides wanted them to fail or disappear. This wedding wouldn’t serve that desire in the least. Unless the wedding was a stepping stone to some great disaster, but that was gambling on chance . . . or was it?
Keenly aware of Jules’ eyes on her, Elana wasn’t sure how to respond. “I don’t know,” she shrugged. “The way it looks from my perspective seems conspiratorial, but that’s a fanciful thought,” she said, trying to convince herself that it was a silly notion. If Mannix really wanted her to fail, or worse, it would be a terrifying thing.
Runolf smiles: “You think you are irreplaceable, ranger? I could have any other man doing this task for me, and unlike you, he would know where his loyalties lie. The only reason I chose you was because you seemed like a driven individual, but I am starting to doubt that.”
He pauses to take a sip from his glass of wine: “If you were any wiser, you would have noticed that I am a diviner of no little power. How else do you think I uncovered your secrets, without ever laying eyes on you? This Laitis that you seek: if I wanted to, I could look into her whereabouts, but the woman does not interest me. If, however, I am satisfied with your performance, I might do you the favor.” He smiles arrogantly, concluding: “So you see, I am the one having the high ground here.”
“As for your pathetic attempt at blackmail, what makes you so certain that the nobles would believe you over me? It would be your word against mine; do you genuinely think that you could outmatch my skill with words?” His face takes a very serious look, as he says angrily: “If you want this partnership to end, walk out the door NOW and NEVER come back to me. You can forget about your wife’s diary and getting any help to find Laitis, but I will trouble you no more. If, however, you decide to stay, you WILL do as I say. The choice is yours, ranger.”
Decius speaks: “It is done then. We will free Markus and proceed depending on the outcome. Ovidius, you will take a small group of veterans and move to the roof of the miller’s house. You will be our sniper. Malcom, you will take your men from the guard and blend in with the crowd. You will be our eyes and ears. At the right moment, you will signal Ovidius to take the shot. Veor, you will provide a diversion with your magic. As soon as Ovidius is ready, you will cast your spells to distract the imperials. Malcom will give the signal to strike. Erik, take a few of your men and stay as close to the executioner as possible. If anything goes wrong, we will be counting on you to take care of the dirty work. Malcom will help you release Markus in the chaos that ensues and escort him to safety.”
Everyone nods in agreement. Decius adds a few final remarks: “I will be with Ovidius, observing the events from above and coordinating everything. Make sure you explain the plan to your men by tomorrow. We can decide how to proceed after the execution depending on the outcome.”
Jules and Elana
The waiter brings you your orders, asking if you would like some more wine. He bows courteously before taking his leave.
[OOC: Let me know when you guys are ready to go.]
Caithas sat back, his smile gone. He watched the diviner’s eyes and knew himself bested. His mind slipped through the last ten years…Years of running, searching, failing…Years of no home, no friends, no family and no hope…Laitis had always been the goal, the only next move…but now? Now, in this new city, with new possibilities, perhaps a new life…Learning he’d known far less of his wife than he’d ever feared…Knowing that a life of revenge would be one beholden to a mind-reading madman…Dammit.
The half-elf knew his choice before his lips moved. I’m sorry, my love…
And who knows? Perhaps fate would lead him to Laitis one day after all…
Swallowing his ale, the ranger stood up, pushed in his chair and said, “So it goes.”
The half-elf never turned to the old man again. He simply walked over to Jules and Elana’s dinner, quietly informed them to enjoy their meal and that he’d be at the bar if anyone was looking for him. With that, Caithas sat at an empty barstool, ordered another red wine, and wondered what in the heaven’s hells he was going to do with his life now.
Malcom nods at Decius, “So it will be done. I’m afraid I have business to attend to. Two lords have moved into Andelia and I’m in charge of the lady’s safety. I’m going to try and see if they might be helpful to our cause. But they are both young, and I expect they both do not have much pull within their houses or the region.”
He salutes, “Power through unity my friends. We shall have our day soon enough. I’ll take my leave. If anything comes up, let me know by the usual way, otherwise I will assume we are proceeding with the plan.”
He takes a quick detour to his house before heading back to the dinner, he’s greeted at the door by his wife.
“What’s going on? You’ve usually stopped by before this?” Vivian questions as she closes the door behind him. She’s made a bit of cold food just in case he did stop by for a meal. he sits at the table and eats some bread that was left there.
He quickly explains what the plans are for saving Markus before asking her, “So… dear… There’s the question of what you and Caroline will do. I’d send you across the ocean to my parents… but I do not know when you would be able to return. There’s some new lords in the town, perhaps we can strike a deal with them, you and Caroline could pose as their servants. It would at least absolve you of any speculation on the Empires part should we fail. Hopefully my stature with the rebellion will also keep the lords safe from the citizens. Or perhaps we could simply have you flee to a much smaller town, away from the city. Or…”
His mind ran over a lot of ideas, he really had no clue what to do, and that scared him. He was a soldier at heart, have a plan, and a back up. When something happens you adapt. It was much harder to do when it was his wife and his daughters life on the line. He had no clue what to do and it showed in his face.
His thoughts are interrupted by his wife, who sits on his lap and cradles his head. He’s lost in time for what seems like an eternity before she speaks, “My dear relax, you worry to much. Try to see if you can strike the deal with the lords. If you can’t then we’ll see what else we can do.” She tries to be reassuring but he can sense the uncertainly within her voice.
“Alright dear.” He stands her up and gives her a kiss, “I’ll be off then.”
After leaving the house he heads straight back to the dinner. He enters quietly and scans the room, spotting the lord and lady still there, and Caithas with… some man…
Oh? Who’s this… Why does a man like Caithas have a contact within the city? Maybe they came together? I should try and gather some decent information…
As soon as he had the though Caithas stood up and walked to the bar, so he walked to the bar and said next to Caithas, ordering his own drink. It was something that seemed and smelled alcoholic, but most certainly wasn’t. Good for bluffing being drunk.
[[ We almost posted at the same time. xD I had to edit mine real quick. I was posting and went back to look at some info and there was this new post. ]]
Runolf gets up, his eyes shining with arcane energies like back in Brixia: “You ungrateful bastard! Mark my words, weakling: Next time we meet, I will not be as generous.” A few heads turn at your direction. Runolf steps out of the establishment, slamming the door behind him. As much as you try not to worry about it, you feel that this is not the last you’ve heard from the old man. You have probably just made a powerful enemy.
[OOC: Malcom, Ra-thalun, feel free to talk to each other as much as you want, and let me know when you are ready to go.]
(Ha, that means you’re up late and I’m up early, Malcom!)
Caithas looked up from his wine, a slight blur to the world from the drinks, feeling the weight of his choice just moments ago, when the young corporal took the seat next to him.
“Sir Malcom! Well met,” the half-elf chortled, letting the wine glass settle in his hand, “and a good evening to you. Has your entire life gone to shit as well?” The ranger laughed at his non-joke though his eyes appeared wide, glassy and a bit watery.
Gods, what have I done? What now? Oh, Kyra…what now?
“Well met indeed!” he smiles at first, but then he notices his composure. Malcom faces Caithas, “My friend, what’s wrong? You were in a much better state when I left you.” He peers over his shoulder at the man. “Is there some way I can help?”
Something certainly was off about the guard… His intuition told him this was no front. What could the man of said to him that would nearly end his world… Though it was, in a way, funny, two men charged with protecting two lords, both with apparently their lives going to hell.
Caithas remembers himself, though the double-edged fear of losing Laitis’ trail and gaining a powerful enemy remained a knife in the ranger’s gut. Honesty, but not too much, the half-elf thought; always a good rule to live by.
“Bah, I’ll survive, good Corporal; I always have before. I am just…let’s say I very recently find myself unemployed, or rather underemployed, in a strange city in a stranger land. I am simply,” the ranger pauses to quaff his remaining wine, “a bit overwhelmed, quite honestly.”
Why not tell this honest-eyed soldier the truth? Hells, maybe he’ll have a suggestion of a place to work in this sprawl, Caithas pondered. If not, perhaps Jules will keep me on as a household guard beyond the ceremony…though the idea of a lifetime watching Jules woo Elana sounded about as pleasant as whatever Greycloak was thinking when I told him to go fuck himself, the ranger bitterly thought.
“So tell me, Malcom,” Caithas continued while paying his tab, “any suggestions for a newcomer?”
“Underemployed? What of the Lord Amour? I thought you were his guard, these lands are not safe for anyone.” He thought for a moment before answering his last question, “My suggestion for someone new to these parts is to flee, run, fly as far away as you can. There are forces in motion here, forces I-… forces that cannot be controlled.”
He drank from his cup, it was sweet berries, almost like wine… but not quite.
He sighed, “If that’s not an option, then Caithas, I might a job proposition for you… I can’t say it’ll pay, but you’ll have food and shelter and that’s all a man needs. But I’m going to need some honesty from you.”
A road to nowhere, leading to Laitis’ shadow…a lifetime of serving and protecting a well-meaning but drunken sot who regularly laid with beauty incarnate…or this. Door number three, as it were.
Caithas knew Jules could hire guards; without the book, the sham arrangement folded like a house of cards. For better or worse, the die was cast; let fate, that fickle whore, do what she may.
“Honesty you’ll get, good sir; whatever reason I had to lie just walked out that door with death in his eyes.”
Caithas senses the urgency in the soldier’s voice. He wants to tell me something, the ranger knew, but what? Yet, the ranger realized, it mattered little. Between the diviner’s half-truths and blackmail and Jules’ black market deals, it was clear that this Corporal, this Malcom, was the closest thing he’d found to an honest man since the day he’d met Greycloak in the bar across the sea. Whatever the soldier had to say, Caithas was listening.
“Food, shelter and perhaps some coin later on is enough for me if the job is right, Corporal. Sir Amour and his wife are good people; they need protection, perhaps, but not from me specifically. So tell me Malcom,” the half-elf whispers with a grin as he leans in a bit closer, “What kind of job are we talking about?”
“Firstly I need information. Why are you here? Why are the lords here?” He hesitates for a moment, “More Importantly.” He leans in a little close and whispers, making sure no one is near, “At the estate your words leave me to believe you do not support the crown. Are my assumptions correct?”
The honest soldier was looking pretty shifty at this point. Eyes darting past Caithas’ shoulders, looking for anyone listening. Another friend in these times would certainly help to ease his mind. Perhaps he could have use of him during the execution. 31 soldiers was better than 30. But what of the lords… maybe it’s best he stick around them. Especially if he can strike a deal with them to protect them from the chaos to come…
“I told you, sir, honesty won’t be hard to come by with me at this point. I am with the lords because I was hired to escort Lord Amour to Svorinn; I met Lady Elana not long before you. I have seen the nobleman here; my duty is done. As to why they are here…why are two members of influential households ever banished to this place? They hold few friends near or far, though they are seemingly good, as far as nobles go.”
Caithas smiles at the soldier and finishes, “And the crown? I couldn’t care less. One tyrant is as good as the next. But then, I’m not a soldier of said crown, unlike you, my friend.”
Malcom reaches over and pats Caithas on the back, still whispering he says “Well met then, I care not for the crown either, but we will have to talk more another time. It’s best not to discuss these things here.”
He leans back and begins to speak normally, “So, you see, the task is simple. For now I request that you stay with the lord unless he dismisses you from your duty. You seem to be on friendly terms, and we need friends in times like these. If he dismisses you and you haven’t got a place to stay, find me, tonight I’ll be guarding the Lady unless she sends me on my way, tomorrow I’m scheduled patrol around here.”
He smiles at Caithas, “But enough of business, let us trade stories!”
He tried to implicate immensely that he no longer wanted to speak of it.
“Who should go first, you? Me? Who cares!” Malcom orders a drink for the both of them, “Let us rejuvenate your spirit, and ease mine.”
She doesn’t want to say it. She hardly seems to be able to acknowledge it as a possibility. Ah can’t blame her, it took me weeks to even start considering the idea, she’s only had it for a minute.
“My lady Elana, you are not wrong. Ah have had time to think about zis, too much time, zat Ah needed to know your thoughts to see if Ah was delusional. Zer are plans in motion zat would horrify you. As for our wedding, know zat Ah intend to wear a blade at my side zat day. While ze Butcher King and his Lineen might not be coming for us, Ah feel zat zis marriage will be plagued with misery one way or ze other.”
While not the seductive and honest meal Jules was expecting, he feels better knowing that he isn’t mad and that Elana may have some small deal of respect for his honesty. Perhaps that seed of respect could grow into something more, or perhaps their time together would be too short to find out.
[OOC: I’m ready to move on whenever everyone else is, if Elana doesn’t have anything more to say to Jules.]
“Very well then, Corporal. You have my eyes and ears as well as my trust; may they all help us survive in this gods-cursed realm.”
Caithas pulls out another coin and offers it to Malcom for the drink, but is pleased and surprisingly touched when the soldier waves it away. Taking the drink in hand, the ranger leans back and grins.
“As for stories? Ha! My good man, have you ever met a sell-sword half-elf who is short on stories?”
(OOC: I’m ready as well, assuming Malcom and Caithas pass the time drinking and chatting until the two nobles finish their meal and need an escort back)
After absentmindedly thanking the server for the meal, Elana eats mechanically while her mind goes over what Jules implied. “Could Mannix actually want my marriage to be doomed, or worse, have me killed? No, he may be a cold hearted man, but being a stern ruler isn’t the same as being a murderer. If he wanted me killed he could have done so a hundred times before. Why now?”
The thoughts of conspiracy put a whole new kind of butterflies in her stomach whenever she thought about the wedding. The rest of the dinner passes in relative silence, as both nobles fill themselves and mull over the fates their greaters have conspired for them.
[OOC: Ready to move.]
After having diner, the trio returns to the rector’s estate, where everyone retires to their respective guestrooms. Exhausted, everyone falls into a dreamless sleep, waking up the next day to take care of the wedding preparations.
Malcom returns to his house, where he finds his wife waiting for him in anticipation. They discuss Malcom’s concerns, and together they reach a decision. Knowing that they have only one day before the execution, they decide to act fast, implementing their decision on the next morning.
6th of Frer-mánuðr, year 2482, Andelia (last day before the wedding / execution)
The young noble couple visits the church district first thing in the morning, followed by Caithas and Malcom. They find a priest with whom they discuss the specifics for tomorrow’s ceremony. Since the nobles do not know anyone within the city, the priest suggests that Caithas assumes the role of the groom’s best man. Elana and Jules spend the rest of the day making the final preparations. With Elana’s permission, Malcom is free to look into his own affairs. Most of you go to bed early, as you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow.
[OOC: I am fast-forwarding this bit, but feel free to RP. Remember, tomorrow is the execution, so take care of any loose ends you feel that you should.
Malcom, you should find a solution for your family: you are free to proceed as you want (send to parents, ask nobles for help, ask a friend to look after them, or just stay in Andelia, in your house. Whatever you like).
Ra-thalun, if you want, you can have Caithas explain to Jules what happened last night with Runolf, and if you want you can talk to Malcom some more.
Rcmon and Kyoh, you can have your characters discuss some more; also, you can ask about the execution; just ask Malcom, since it is easy to notice that something is being prepared in the Marketplace. Let me know how you prepare for the wedding (e.g. if you are taking weapons, armor etc).]
Gods! Best man? When have I ever been the best man for anything? Now to stand beside the man whom I spied upon? Where does it end, the ranger wondered, where and how?
After hearing the news of his role, Caithas poked about the marketplace the day before the wedding. He saw much he liked, but having few coins, he decided to simply sharpen his twin blades, buy something presentable from the haberdashery and buy a large meat-pie called a Faest that was popular street food in these parts. The wedding, he dreaded; the meat-pie, though, was excellent. Stomache full, blades ready, the half-elf took the time to properly groom and bathe, luxuries that had long been denied. Though he would be armed and armored, the ranger knew that, being at a noble wedding, he would need to do more than just wipe the sleep from his eyes.
Caithas, after bathing, braided his silky hair in the style of his mother’s people; he shaved what little human stubble remained; he dressed in his armor first, then layered the simple white tunic with gold braiding that he’d purchased, along with black breeches. Looking into a glass, the ranger appeared ten years younger than when he’d arrived on Svorinn’s shores; as a half-elf, his age was already hard to determine, but dressed and groomed, it was all but impossible. After the inspection, the half-elf’s eyes returned to the glass…
I see me…but who am I? Now, after these lifetimes, who in the heaven’s hells am I to be?
Caithas thought back to Malcom’s words from the previous evening. I’ve pledged, aye, and my word to the soldier rings fair, but if I’m to remain true to the corporal, true to his request, and hells, true to myself, there’s but one course:
The ranger went to find Jules.
There could only be one avenue for absolution; only one way to move forward beyond the old world and old promises. As the groom prepared for his impending ceremony, Caithas cleared his throat and, not waiting for small talk, simply poured out:
“Sir Amour…Jules…the man I dined with last night, Greycloak? He is not what he seems. I don’t know why he does it, but he actively seeks to spy upon you; he’s wanted eyes on you since you left the Empire. I know this…,” the half-elf sighed, “…I know this because he hired me…rather, blackmailed me…to be his eyes and ears. I assure you,” the ranger swiftly continued when seeing the noble’s eyes widen, “that no information was gained. Last night, I quit; that is why he left and perhaps why I have made a mortal enemy; so it goes.”
The half-elf, normally so aloof, actually pleaded, “I swear to you, on my life and the soul of my wife, I never betrayed you. I was hired to, aye, but it was a ruse. He tempted me, he tried to force, but my answer was no. I chose you. I chose your bride, this city, Corporal Malcom…hells, I chose my honor. I chose you, sir Amour, and for all I lost…,” the ranger trailed off in thought, “…for all that I have given up, I chose my path. I would be honored to stay in your employ; I would be honored to be your best man and your sword arm in the coming hours and beyond. I ask only for your understanding and forgiveness…of this, I beg.”
Caithas finishes, breathing heavily, gaze steady on the noble. There, the half-elf thought…no more will my soul blacken for that divining bastard. Let the cards fall where they may.
Jules was stunned by what he had heard. He knew Caithas was quiet about his past, but this was beyond what he had expected. He had figured Caithas to be an indentured man or perhaps a former criminal looking for work. He had none of the subtlety or nuance of the political spies Jules was used to, but that was what had made him so easily accept Caithas as a friend.
Ze son of a bitch, Ah trusted him and he does zis. Well, he would have done zis regardless, Ah can’t blame him for earning my trust, Ah should have known better zan zat. He could have done me in or betrayed me and Ah would never have been ze wiser. And if what he says is true, he stayed loyal to me despite his circumstances. Ah can count on my thumbs ze number of people who have done zat for me before.
A solemn look formed on Jules’ face as his mind turned. A thought forming from what he had heard. His imagined his father’s face, stern and hateful, and he cringed inside as he wore it before Caithas. He had made up his mind, but now it was up to Caithas to decide how things would proceed.
Reaching into the base of his chest he pulled out a rapier. A scabbard of red leather and a hilt of steel plated with gold shone as the light struck it. The emblem of his house, a heart pierced by a blade, was carved into the hand guard as his grip tightened around the grip.
“Ah am not very skilled with a blade, but my skill is more zan enough to do what must be done here. You stole my trust and took my life and my secrets into your hands. All ze while knowing zat you may one day give zes secrets away for some debt. And now you come to me saying zat you swear your life to me? Would you kneel and face ze consequences of your actions?”
Ah put my faith in him to keep my secrets, let me see if he can bring himself to do ze same.
Caithas looks, stares, and slowly shakes his head.
“Sir Amour…I have always been an honest man. So I tell you this: My wife, my soul, was murdered on our wedding day. A woman named Laitis appeared, and without a word, slashed my bride’s throat. I have failed, time and again, to find this Laitis to exact vengeance. After nearly a decade, Greycloak offered me the key to finding her…all I had to do was spy on you.”
“Ten years, sir, and I chose truth instead. Ten years, and I chose you and yours. I have paid my price.”
Caithas stands taller, straighter, though he smiles at the man he hopes is his friend.
“I will fight for you and your wife; I will fight for the corporal; I will fight because that is what I know. But I will not kneel, nor will I apologize further. Penance is done. If you will have me, sir, my blades, my honor and my life are yours; but if you refuse me, I will not lay down my life to you this day. I would, instead, do what I’ve always done: I would move on.”
After a beat, the half-elf finishes, “But, if it matters still to you, sir, I did and do think of you as noble, honest and a friend. If I have ruined that, then it will be one more thing for me to regret and atone for; Gods know I have my share. So I ask, plainly…what will you have me do, sir Amour…Jules?”
Jules listens to Caithas as he returns the blade to its chest and a smile breaks through the grim mask he wore through Caithas’ explanation. A hunt for a woman, and a murdered wife, more noble than anything Jules had ever wanted. If ever there was someone who deserved the title of best man it was Caithas, his dignity and honesty were capable of overcoming even his desire for vengeance, a feat that few could honestly accomplish. With an open hand he grasps Caithas on the shoulder saying,
“As for ze future, Ah am not sure what Ah would have of you, but as for tomorrow Ah am in need of a bodyguard and a best man, and Ah can think of none better zan you to fill zis role.”
The simple act of speaking these words lifted a burden from Jules that he hadn’t realized was there until it was gone.
“You are a stubborn ass who won’t compromise on his morals and won’t betray his friends, and while Ah still find zat unsettling Ah do see how much Ah will need a friend like you in ze coming days. Ah still intend to claim my birthright one day Caithas, and Ah would have you as my friend during zis time. Just as Ah would wish to stand by you in your hunt for zis Laitis. After all, Ah do know a thing or two about finding women.”
Jules returned to getting himself prepared in his room. Speaking only now half facing Caithas. His aloof airs once more surrounding him.
“Of course zer is still ze issue of your clothes. If you are to be my best man zen you must find something more suitable to wear, ah would give you something of mine, but to be honest Ah doubt zat it would fit your style. Not to mention zat among ze dozens of things zat can bring bad luck to a marriage in Lineen, a best man without a title is definitely one of ze worst. But as zis marriage seems set up to fail, Ah see know reason to let something like zat get in ze way.”
A long pause hangs in the air as Jules turns from Caithas, before saying, “Also, Ah know Ah haven’t said it, and Ah know ah won’t say it enough in ze future, but thank you.”
Caithas, despite the sting of the comment about his clothes (after wasting good coin, at that), smiles. Fucking nobility, he marvels.
“You are welcome. I am glad, so very glad, for your words and your promise to help me; it was not necessary, but it was kind all the same. But revenge and adventure can wait until after you’re properly wedded to the lovely Miss Savain. When tomorrow’s sun rises, you’ll have a friend by your side and beauty as a bride; not bad, Jules.”
The smile slowly fades as Caithas turns towards the window, looking out on the city proper.
“This place…it is ripe. It is fit to burst. Jules, be wary…not just of your father, or others you know, but…but the very city itself. This place pulsates with energy: The crown, the natives, the nobles, the working-class…it’s all too much for one land to handle.”
Caithas notes the smirk on his companion’s face and continues, “I know it sounds mad, but I am a ranger by trade and birth; there are feelings that simply…are. And trust me, sir: Watch your bride’s back and your own. Other than you and I, your betrothed, and, I believe, the corporal, we’re alone here. This city, this land…it awakens. It is angry. And sooner rather than later, the debt will need to be paid.”
“I have vowed you my name and my swords, and both shall you have, but know that, wedding or no, we will not be able to stay in this city for long unbloodied and unscathed. The march of time quickens here and if we are not wary, the flood shall engulf us as well.”
Caithas returns his eyes to his friend and refocuses on the room and man before him.
“Aye, aye, I can hear you already…enough. Tomorrow you wed, and today, it seems, you’ll be needing to find me some appropriate attire and titles. After all, if there’s one thing we can’t have, it’s bad luck at an Amour’s wedding,” the ranger finishes with a grin.
“So, my lord, what exactly did you have in mind?”
Jules found himself finally able to relax, the day before his wedding. A chance to actually do something that wouldn’t have consequences, helping a friend get clothes and depending on the path of the night, having a last romp as a free man.
“Well first of all, Ah have my doubts zat ze Amour colors will work for you. We can borrow some from ze rector if you feel like bothering him, or we can head out and see if our friend Malcom and his guards don’t have a quality vest and dress pants zat you could wear.
“As for ze issue of a title, Ah am not technically ze lord of Lineen yet, but zat doesn’t mean Ah can’t bestow some small measure of title upon you. If fact, zer is a title zat has not been used in Lineen since we stood as a great nation independent of ze Empire. It was a position traditionally given to ze king’s most trusted adviser, sometimes a military man, sometimes a man of coin and politics, sometimes even someone as simple as a close friend who would be honest in ze face of dishonest men.
“They had many names for ze post, ze Keeper of ze King, ze Master of Hearts, but ze most common was simply ze King’s Confidant. Ah can think of no better description of you, my friend. It would be a bit arrogant to call yourself ze King’s Confidant what with Lineen’s reduced status, but a little arrogance has never hurt anyone. Ze final decision if you would wish to accept ze title is yours of course. Not to mention zat at zis time it is a relatively meaningless title without benefits zat has had no recognized authority for over 200 years, but still, it is something.”
Malcom had the fortune of being off duty, as the lady had released him. He still chose to wear his armor, but wore a casual cloak over it. He never knew if the Imperials new of his rebel involvement and might send someone after him. He sat and spoke with his wife for a bit before finally deciding on a course of action.
“We have little time, but I think it best for you to go to city. Not on incredibly far from here, but far enough away that the Imperial armies would not use it as a base to siege Andelia if it comes to that. Remember the Ports? The farming family I helped rescue their land from? They’re supporters of the cause and I have no doubt they’ll let you stay with them. There you will be safe and I can visit whenever I have the chance. There shouldn’t be revolution tomorrow, but its better we be safe. Pack your things and you can leave first thing tomorrow. You should only need basics like clothes. You might have to work sewing my dear, but it’s a much better alternative than anything else. I’ll arrange for it. It will take almost the full day but you can go with a Imperial trade caravan, the guards will protect you as they go to fetch taxes and supplies with the merchant caravan. If anyone asks, you’re going to help with a friends farm operations. Now, I have to finish getting ready for tomorrow and make the arrangements.”
They talk for a while over the minor details, but both agree on the course of action. They send a message to the family, with a cryptic message within it that lets them know what is truly going on. They have a debt to Malcom, but not a great one… Hopefully it will at least be enough to get his wife and daughter to safety.
He leaves to make preparations, taking all of his armaments with him, his sword, hidden daggers, shield bow and Glaive. Before he went to where he told Caithas he’d be, he went to the market to sharpen his blades and arrow heads, and fix up the tension on his bow. It was fairly interesting to see him walk with the Glaive, it was after all, taller than he was. He gripped it tightly within his hand… bringing back the memory of when he retrieved it from a bridge in the homeland… perhaps it wasn’t mythological, but he sure felt like it. When he reached the armament store he inquired to the shopkeeper how much it would be to increase the tension of his Composite Longbow.
“My good sir. The tension is tight, but I pull with such ease, I was wondering if perhaps you could make it even tighter this time around?”
He thought to himself for a moment;
Sure I could probably go to the barracks and have everything sharpened, but it might ring a bit suspicious if he was tuning a personal glaive and bow.
Elana spent most of the day before her wedding in doors, though on her brief trip outside she noticed a great deal of commotion about the gallows that were going up. She asked the servants about them while they were sizing her up for modifications to her wedding dress. The news of an execution on her wedding day didn’t do much to brighten her mood. She was already dreading the day, and the fact that Jules shared her dread only made things worse; it would seem that no one would be happy in their marriage. His implication of a conspiracy between their families sounded outlandish at first, but the more Elana thought about, the more it seemed like a possibility. She still had trouble picturing her uncle intentionally selling her down river, though. Using her for some gain seemed likely, but Mannix wasn’t the type to sell out members of his own house. At least, that’s what she kept telling herself.
[OOC: Ready to move on to the main event. I can’t think of a plausible reason for Elana to bring any sort of weapon to the ceremony, so I suppose she’ll have to improvise if/when things go awry.]
Caithas let his breath out in a slow whoosh. His shoulders rounded and he eyed his companion and lord.
“King’s Confidant…gods, let my father see me now,” the ranger said through a smile. “I am honored, truly. I know you are no great king, Jules, but who knows? Someday you just might be, and titles bestowed by kings are not things a poor half-elf should throw away too swiftly. I will wear your title with honor and as much dignity as a woods-born ranger can muster in these citied-lands.”
The ranger felt the weight of actual responsibility settle on his shoulders. For ten years, he had answered to no one; he moved with the wind and towards rumors drenched in shadow. Now, he was responsible for the lives of nobles who dreamed of riches and crowns. He was connected to the world in a way that he hadn’t been since his wife’s throat was opened before his horrified eyes.
“Now, let’s find me some clothes suitable for a King’s Confidant and let’s get you ready to be married, Sir Amour!”
(OOC: Caithas is ready to move on, if Jules is. If Malcom wants to talk to the ranger, of course, I’m happy to do that as well, before we fast-forward in time, but I’ll leave that to the corporal’s discretion. Assuming that we move on to the big day, because Caithas is a bodyguard, he will be fully equipped with his weapons and armor [hidden under his dress robes for the ceremony of course] as stated on his character sheet.)
Malcom thanked the man before leaving for the area around the rectors estate. He set to walking around looking for Caithas, hoping to not draw attention by his wandering… but that was probably pretty hard with all of his armaments. In hindsight he probably should have taken some of the weapons home…. oh well, to late for that now. His mind wandered to the ranger.
Hmmm…. perhaps I could convince him to help take out the executioner? No… no… I can’t make him kill anyone. He’ll have to serve as another soldier to fight off the guards and escort Markus if he accepted. The choice to kill would be in his own hands… Yes I will see how he acts when he has the chance… If I can find him that is.
“Caithas…. oh Caithas…” he muttered to himself.
After concluding his fashionable work with Jules, the ranger left the groom-to-be alone to tend to his prenuptial arrangements. Caithas wandered back to the marketplace in hopes of seeing something suitable for a nobles’ wedding. Instead, the half-elf saw the corporal at a weaponer’s booth.
“Malcom, my good man! I doubt you’re here looking for a wedding present, as I am. How goes it this fine day?”
“Better now that I’ve found you.” he switched his glaive from his right to his left hand and extended a friendly handshake to Caithas, “A wedding present my friend? No, just sharpening my wares. When exactly is this wedding anyways?”
Malcom looked concerned, “Is it sometime soon?”
“Soon? Aye, it follows hard upon the morrow’s sunrise!”
The ranger’s smile falters when he sees the soldier’s worried expression.
“Corporal, the lord Amour and lady Savain are set to be wedded and bedded before this time tomorrow, and yet your face tells me that that isn’t what’s concerning you. I am, odd as it sounds to say aloud, set to stand by Sir Jules as his best man. If there’s something I need to know, my friend, I’d know it now. There’s nothing a ranger hates more than surprises.”
“And, er… you are aware there is both a holiday and an execution tomorrow? Odd time for a wedding if you ask me…” he sighed,
so much for help from Caithas, he is best man after all.
“There’s many a things you need to know. I had a task for you tomorrow, but it seems you will be busy with the wedding… Which is a shame, as I cannot build trust with you if you do not assist me.”
he looks around to see if anyone is listening in, “Tomorrow will be a big day, for All of us.”
Lowering his voice, the half-elf confides, “Malcom, I promised you fealty, and I meant it. However, I have given my word as a soldier and a friend to Sir Amour that I would be by his side tomorrow. That, I cannot break.”
Caithas pauses, calculating.
“If the wedding and whatever you have planned are not at the same time, perhaps I can do both? The ceremony is meant to be short; the lords’ households offer no pomp for this affair. So, as long as I can perform my duties at the wedding, I’d be more than willing to assist you, corporal.”
The ranger lowers his voice further and whispers, “Now just what exactly am I agreeing to assist you with, good Malcom?”
(OOC: Vlad, if there’s no way to be at both events, let me know. If Caithas must choose, he will be at the wedding, but if both are possible, he’s willing to do both.)
As the day of his wedding inches closer, Jules feels as though time has slowed to let him dwell on every unfortunate outcome that might arise from tomorrow. He had his clothes for the day set out already, a white silk shirt covered by a deep red tunic. Black pants with a woven gold and red cloth belt. He had for a time considered the bright red three pointed hat he had taken from Lineen, but decided against it, knowing he would draw enough attention as he was. He stood looking at his apparel for tomorrow, wondering if it would be tempting fate to wear his blade.
It was true that traditionally men would wear some sort of weapon or mark of military might when wed or at formal occasions, but this was the sort of thing that might tempt fate more than he cared to.
Fate has never cared to take what Ah do into consideration before, Ah have no reason to think it will zis time either. Ah’ll not have it said zat Ah died without defending myself. Who knows, maybe my father’s tutilage will save me from what he has planned.
For a time Jules considers leaving and attempting to find a woman to spend time with before his wedding, but remembering the state of the city, and the danger it might pose without Caithas at his back, he thinks again and decides to stay at the estate.
[OOC: Also ready to move on whenever everyone else is.]
7th of Frer-mánuðr, year 2482, Andelia (day of the Einherjar)
You all wake up at sunrise, with the rooster’s shrill. You take your time to have breakfast and groom yourselves for the big day. Outside, the entire city is covered with a thin veil of snow; it is as if Nature herself is preparing to be wed. Apparently, it has been snowing all night. Thick snowflakes are constantly falling through the sky: at this rate, it will not be long before the capital is buried under the ice. Thankfully, several soldiers can be seen shoveling the snow from the streets surrounding lower Andelia’s most important buildings.
Jules leaves the rector’s estate first, heading for the church district with his best man by his side. They soon meet with the priest, who briefly explains the ceremony to the nobleman. Malcom delivers the bride soon thereafter, before excusing himself to attend to his duties.
[OOC: Caithas, you are free to join him at this point, if you want to.]
Elana, Jules and (potentially) Caithas
Jules’ gaze is captured by the sight of the beautiful young bride, who looks stunning in her wedding dress. As Malcom delivers the bride, the priest begins with the rituals, reciting blessings from most of the Demerian pantheon, as well as the newlyweds’ obligations to one another, society and the gods. A small crowd of thirty to forty curious individuals, some of whom are nobles, have gathered to witness the ceremony.
The priest ends with these words: “As man alone is nothing but a wild, ravenous beast, so is woman a fragile entity lacking protection and cause without a man. By the gods’ wisdom, I join these two lives for now and for eternity.” Everyone knows the rituals, since they are rooted deeply in the Demerian tradition: you know that the newlyweds are expected to kiss at this point.
As soon as the ceremony is completed, Jules and Elana walk towards the city hall, where the documents validating the wedding must be filled in and signed by them and an official. However, you stop by the marketplace, which is festively decorated with gallows and an angry rabble of common folk, apparently excited over something. Your attention drifts away from the marriage, as you become witness to a most uncanny event…
[OOC: You are not officially married if the paperwork is not filled in, something Jules and/or Elana can feel grateful or disappointed about.]
Malcom and (potentially) Caithas
Malcom excuses himself briefly after he delivers the bride. While his sudden departure is most atypical under such circumstances, there are much more important events afoot. He rushes to the marketplace, where he is relieved to see his men, along with his allies: Ovidius, Decius, Erik and Veor. As the old soldiers from XIII silently make it into the miller’s house, Malcom prays that they do not encounter resistance.
Erik makes his way into the crowd, pushing several peasants aside to get to the front, while Veor moves behind the crowd, hiding near a vantage point that offers a good view of the marketplace. As the “festivities” begin, Malcom looks for a proper place, where he can have an overview of the situation but will also be able to move in for Markus if he has to.
The executioner, a bloated man wearing a hood, walks up the platform, along with two other men and a group of about twenty soldiers, who take their places below the platform. One of the two men is recognizable by his outfit as a senator and speaker for the Imperial government. Malcom recognizes the other man, clad in a guard’s armor, as his lieutenant Aurelius Fortius. The thought of being spotted by his superior sends shivers down the corporal’s spine.
The first man to be punished is a petty thief. His crime is briefly mentioned before Aurelius forces the criminal to put his hand on the executioner’s block. The executioner smiles as he lowers his greataxe towards the thief’s wrist, cutting off his arm. The man’s screems are drowned by the cheering crowd, as the executioner lifts the bloody hand. He nails the dismembered, lifeless part on the door of a nearby shop, which seems to be the one the thief stole from.
As Markus is brought on the platform, Malcom’s heart begins to race. The senator gives a little speech as the executioner tightens the noose around the condemned man’s neck: “Many years ago, our forefathers defeated the savages of this land in a battle without precedent. In the centuries that came, the Empire has established the colonies as a shining beacon of prosperity and justice. Yet, there are those who seek to destroy the kingdom, actively conspiring against the king by undermining authority. Let this be a lesson to all who work against his majesty and would rather see the colonies fall prey to chaos and anarchy.” The crowd seems divided, with some cheering while others are booing. The senator moves to Markus, before concluding: “Do you have anything to say for yourself, traitor?” Markus looks up, then he fixes his gaze on the senator before spitting at the man’s boots: “Nothing to you, you sold-out vulture. Stop wasting my time with your theatrics and let’s get this over with.”
The executioner puts a sack over Markus’ head; just about he is ready to release the hatch, though, something strange occurs…
Initially, you fail to notice anything; such details are concealed by the frenzied mob. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you observe a dark, semi-transparent figure moving towards the platform. The crowd divides to allow the apparition to pass; many are whispering prayers or blessings, while others are turning their heads to the direction of the ghost. As the figure approaches, you recognize a man clad in plate armor, which is covered with the symbols of the Empire and legion XIII. The man bears no helmet; those familiar with the colonies’ history immediately recognize general Rustius Quinctilius, the deceased commander of legion XIII who fell during the Storm of slaughter. An imperial gladius is fixed deep within his chest, a detail that resonates with all the conspiracy theories claiming that the general was murdered by a traitor. When he reaches the platform’s corner, the dead general stops, lifting his right arm and pointing with a blood-dripping index finger towards the senator. He does not utter a single word; instead, he releases a blood-chilling shrill that freezes the politician’s heart.
Malcom realizes that now is the time to strike.
[OOC: everyone, please describe your PCs actions and then roll for initiative.]
In the chaos of the mob Jules hardly notes the executions until the arrival of the specter. His heart skips a beat as he feels a twisted horror fill him.The collapse of his mind at this moment didn’t allow for humor or wit, all he could do was stand and think.
A spirit, oh hells its an actual specter. Zis is…bad, very bad. What has my father done to call down a spirit to end me?
As the spirit lifts its finger to the senator his mind slowly returns to him, the fear still there, but no longer paralyzing his body.
Of course, what was Ah thinking, no ze spirit may not be here for us, but zat doesn’t mean zis crowd won’t kill us in ze chaos. Ah am not about to be trampled to death by any group zat smells as badly as zes people.
Jules grasps the hilt of his rapier, not yet drawing but prepared to if the need arises, hoping beyond all else that it doesn’t. He grabs Elana roughly by the arm and holds on, all the while looking to ensure Caithas is still with them. He think that Elana must be as panicked as he is, and tries to calm her saying, “My dear, zis is no place for us right now, we must leave, now.”
[OOC: initiative – (1d20+3)18 ]
Through out the ceremony Elana felt like she was watching it from a disconnected perspective, like she was watching someone else getting married. Thankfully the ceremony was short, and Elana thanked the gods for letting it go off without any of the complications Jules had suspected. She was concentrating one trying to be less rigid as Jules walked with her, arm in arm, when the couple witnessed the events at the square.
The specter’s appearance froze her in place. The crowd seemed stunned as well, every eye intent on the specter’s slow approach to the gallows. It was as if the world were waiting on a cue, and when the specter cried the crowd burst into a frenzy of movement. Steel glinted in the sunlight as weapons flashed from their scabbards. Jules grabbed her by the arm, tugging her away from the crowd, breaking her from the trance. With no weapon, Elana felt completely defenseless, though she was unsure whether that feeling would have changed had she a weapon in hand. Lifting her dress so as to allow her more running speed, Elana followed wherever it was that Jules would lead her.
[OOC: Initiative – (1d20+6)23
Caithas felt the smile vanish from his lips. This cannot be, the ranger thinks. It simply…isn’t.
Moments ago, I stood as a noble’s best man. Moments ago, the world made sense. Now, a haunt walks before me.
Like all rangers, Caithas had heard tales, nightmares shared at firelight, but to see a specter, to see Death walk, was something else entirely.
After a moment of initial hysteria, Caithas turned to the nobles, whom he’d escorted from the ceremony, and said simply, “Run.” With that, the half-elf drew his two blades, and scanned the maddened-mob for Malcom.
Dammit, Gods, dammit! This must be what the corporal spoke of, if only I’d come with him instead of acting as a knave’s Comandant, instead of…but no, how could he know? A ghost? There was no way a simple soldier could control something like that. So either this ghost was something completely beyond the corporal’s cryptic warnings, or…or was it…was it something else?
Just then the ranger noticed the cloaked man amongst many. His face was shrouded, but his weapon…that glaive…:
Malcom! There he is, the ranger quickly thinks; now I just need to get to him!
As Caithas moves towards the epicenter of this madness, his half-elven eyes trained on the corporal, he steals a glance back at the nobles. Thanks the gods Jules brought his sword, the ranger thinks, but what of Elana?
That’s when the ranger saw the red flag. Corporal Malcom waved the brightly-colored cloth high and that was all Caithas needed to make up his mind. This is it, he thought. Whatever the hell this is…this is it.
Confident that Jules and Elana would be able to escape before the crowds surged out of the square, the half-elf focused on getting to that red flag, to Malcom, to some gods-damned answers, as fast as possible.
initiative – (1d20+2)18
(OOC: I noticed Elana has a +6 initiative boost, which means she has a plus six dexterity modifier, right? I just want to make sure I’m not doing something wrong. It seems odd to me that a ranger would be that much slower than a sorceress )
Malcom watched as the soldiers filed in, twenty. Great, they had a number advantage here. He looked at the specter as it appeared and moved towards the senator… He hoped to the gods that this was the distraction that was supposed to be provided. He turned back towards the Millers and waved a bright red cloth above his head. So begins the chaos.
[[Initiative: Roll(1d20)1 = 21]]
An arrow whistles through the air, followed by another one a split-second later. The arrows hit the executioner, the first one in the neck and the second one in his shoulder. The cowled figure collapses to the ground, dying instantly from the wounds. The crowd’s awe at the sight of the ghost now turns into panic. Everyone is moving away from the square; you see that some fall, but the mob just tramples upon them, concerned only with saving itself.
At the sight of the red flag, Malcom’s men unsheathe their weapons and move closer to the platform. The mob’s pushing, the confined space among the crowd and the general confusion do not allow proper fighting between the two sides. Instead, everyone is pushing each other, while a few clumsy hits are exchanged from time to time. In any case, Malcom’s men manage to keep some of the guards busy, although about ten of them manage to escape. They are all moving towards the red flag.
[OOC: Since Elana is delaying her actions, the initiative sequence is as follows:
Malcom > Aurelius > Jules > Elana > Caithas > Decius > Veor > Erik > Guard 1 > Guard 2 > Guard 3 > Guard 4 > Ovidius > Guard 5 > Guard 6 > Guard 7 > Guard 8.
Markus is standing on I17, next to the executioner’s corpse.
The green area is full of people, which are trying to escape. Make a dexterity check vs. a DC of 10 or treat this as difficult terrain (i.e. you can only move at half your speed). A result of 3 or lower or a “natural” 1 means that you fall and are trampled, taking 1d6 points of crushing damage.
Malcom, could you please use the forum dice roller for your rolls? You simply type in [Roll=Attack or Damage or whatever]xdy+z[/Roll] where xdy indicated the die (replace x, y with the proper numbers) and z is your modifier.
[OOC: Initiative rolls:
Erik: Initiative – (1d20+2)13
Ovidius: Initiative – (1d20+4)5
Decius: Initiative – (1d20+1)17
Veor: Initiative – (1d20+2)14
Guards group 1: Initiative – (1d20+1)13
Guards group 2: Initiative – (1d20+1)2
Aurelius: Initiative – (1d20+1)19
Move Action: Draw Glaive
Standard Action: Trip Attack Vs. Guard two
] 17+1 Total:18
] 16+7 Total:23
As the crowd scattered Malcom used his strength to his advantage. It was hard for really anyone to push him around, even if there was god knows how many people running around.
Hasn’t anyone heard of leaving orderly and quickly?
He shuddered as he saw people fall to the ground and get trampled, that was certainly not a good way to go. He brandished his glaive from behind his back, swinging it around hoping to clear away the mob. He fixed his eyes on his target, a nearby guard. He swung his glaive swiftly at the guards feet, his heavy armor would make it a bit more difficult to start tipping him… but once he was over he was out of this fight for a while.
[OOC: I think the reason it’s not working is that you shouldn’t use the underscore. Just use one word in the roll’s description. Also, since you don’t have the improved trip feat but you are within guard 2’s threat range, your trip attempt provokes an AoO:
Attack – (1d20+3)5
Damage – (1d8+2)5 ]
Malcom reclessly swings his glaive against the guard; the guard sees an opening and tries to hack at you, but he misses, as he is pushed by the crowd. The guard is caught off balance; Malcom aims for the soldier’s leg. The strike connects, causing the man to collapse with a clutter.
Aurelius manages to maintain his composure amidst the chaos and death. He unsheathes his longsword while actively looking around to see where the arrows came from.
Upon failing to notice anything, Aurelius cries out to summon his men: “Guards! Come to my aid!”
[OOC: It’s Jules’ turn now, then it’s Elana’s and finally Caithas’ The prone guard will take 1d6 damage if he is still prone by the end of the round.]
(OOC: According to the “Round 1” link, Caithas is up; it says we all have an “18” for initiative and it placed me first. Should I go? Or should I follow the order you laid out, Vlad, with Jules and Elana going before me? If I’m supposed to wait, that’s fine, but if I’m supposed to go, before I head off to work for the day, I’ll lay out my planned move so that I don’t hold everyone up. And, by the way, I tried to make sure I did all the math right for Caithas’ attack bonuses versus penalties for two-handed fighting, even with his two-handed fighting feat. I think I did it right, assuming that the short sword is off-hand and light. Please let me know if I needed to do otherwise.)
Caithas takes in as much as he can as madness unfolds around him. With his eyes trained on the corporal, he sees Malcom slice his glaive out at a nearby guard. It’s true, the ranger thinks…it’s to be an uprising then. The ghost, the arrows…something far beyond my ken is at play here and I’m just a cog in the wheel of fate. Malcom’s haunted eyes returned to him from the morning and night before…their look of fear and excitement now made perfect sense to the ranger. Juxtaposed with the memory of the corporal’s warning was the newly-wed bride and groom, holding hands, locking eyes…and I’ll be gods-damned to see them taken down before they’re bedded because their personal soldier, Malcom, happens to be a traitor to the crown, the half-elf realized. If it’s to be a battle, then a battle to save those few he knew in this miserable city was the best and only option.
If Malcom is on one side, then so am I, the half-elf concluded. If lines are to be drawn, his is the side I’ll stride. With that thought, Caithas, blades in hand and the slow smile of battle playing across this lips, moves in towards the first guard he sees and strikes.
(Caithas moves to K19 and attacks guard #6)
Scimitar Attack – (1d20)14
Scimitar Damage – (1d6+1)6
Short Sword Attack – (1d20+2)21
Short Sword Damage – (1d6+1)6
(OOC: Ok, one final modification. I just re-read the two-weapon fighting rules and, because my off-hand short sword is light, the penalties are reduced by two for each hand, not just the offhand. Therefore, the attack roll for the primary hand’s scimitar should have been a +2 as well, so the total attack roll should be 16, not 14. I hope that’s right anyway! I’ve never played a two-weapon fighter before, so if anyone catches an error please let me know.)
[OOC: Just filling in my move in case the order is different.]
Watching arrows fly and hearing the screams of guards and onlookers alike Jules turns and looks for a safe place to wait out the chaos. His grip still tight around Elana’s arm, He rushes towards the door of a nearby building and begins banging his fist against the door in hopes of someone opening it for him. As he bangs his hand against the door he turns his head and briefly sees Caithas squaring off against one of the guards.
What is zat man…ze fool, attacking ze city guards? Hells, zis was a bad idea.
[OOC: Jules (and Elana if she’s still following him) moves to I27, and I’m guessing that’s a door to a shop or home. Also, I hope everyone doesn’t mind Jules being a bit cowardly for the first fight, I’m sure he’ll get better as things progress, but I thought it would be serious character whiplash to have him go from pampered noble to crowd-fighting backstabber in one fight.]
[OOC: Moves to J27.]
Following Jules’ lead, Elana is pulled from the streets to the door of the nearby shop. While Jules hammers the door, Elana ducks behind the fruit cart watching the scene unfold. It was madness! She was watching the beginning of a rebellion unfold before her. She thought she recognized Corporal Malcom’s voice among the din, but failed to notice the man amongst the chaos. For whatever reason, Caithas drew his blades and leapt into the fray, slashing at one of the guards. True she didn’t know Caithas all that well, but he throwing himself against the imperial troops, and she didn’t want to see him struck down.
Now he was a traitor to the empire. He, and anyone who helped him, would be killed unless they managed to escape. Or if they won, but how could they hope to stand against the empire? Elana always knew about the flaws of the empire’s system, but never considered taking a stand against. Even now the idea was incomprehensible to her. All she knew was that she didn’t want to see the only people she knew in Andelia butchered or hung. But what could she do?
Her eyes drifted to the officer in charge of the guards, and an idea popped into her head. She recalled what she’d done to that poor flock of birds two years ago. It was stupid to even think of getting involved, she knew, but as the fight escalated, her resolve to intervene slowly grew.
[OOC: Oh and RC, I think it’s fine to RP your character in combat that way. I’m taking a similar approach. Anywho: Elana; Round 1 (done)]
[PS OOC: Edited to keep in line with Malcom’s character being disguised.]
(OOC: Thanks for the reminder Kyoh! I moved both Caithas’ token as well as Jules’, so now that Elana has finished her turn, the map should be correct. The NPC turns are next! Here’s the link showing Caithas’ round one is complete: http://pyromancers.com/media/view/ma…?round_id=4697)
[[In a short and unimportant post; some important OCC/Meta gaming info. Malcom is cloaked, his face is concealed, I’d believe it’d be a bit harder to recognize him than ‘oh look its malcom.’ currently the only thing to give him away would be his glaive, which only Caithas could notice from the day before.]]
Malcom grinned with the power of combat. One man down, now to free markus. He checked his surroundings again. It was difficult to see anyone within the crowd. But beyond it he could see the three… Jules was trying to get into a house and out of the fray. He couldn’t blame him. He seemed like a decent enough person… Is that Elana behind the stand? He couldn’t be sure. But there was Caithas, blades drawn moving on a guard.
Fool! If we don’t go through with the rebellion they’ll send you to Holgrath. I wish he at least covered his face… or tried too…
The thought reminded him to make sure to fix the bottom half of his cloak around his face. Hopefully no one would tug it away from him. Otherwise he might have to go into hiding.
(OOC: Thanks for the update, Malcom; I edited a previous post to help the story make more sense, taking your suggestion that it was the soldier’s glaive, not face, that Caithas recognized. And as far as the ranger covering his face, well, we never got to that part of the plan…he’s just on your side and doesn’t seem to give a shit about much else. That’s what you get when you recruit a short-fused half-elf with very little to live for )
Caithas’s scimitar is deflected by the guard’s armor, but his short sword finds a weak spot in the soldier’s chainmail. The thrust connects, penetrating deep into the man’s chest.
As you pull out the sword, blood flows profusely from the wound. The guard staggers, but manages to maintain his balance, as he prepares to make a desperate swing against you.
(OOC: Thanks Vlad, I forgot the critical damage. And I just wanted to double check, did you factor in that plus two for the scimitar attack roll, making it a 16 instead of a 14? Just in case that makes a difference in a hit versus a miss.)
Malcom looks up to the top floor of the miller’s house, but Ovidius and Decius do not fire any additional arrows. You recall the discussion the night before. Although they would provide support if things start turning really bad for the rebels, they do not want to compromise having their positions revealed. In addition, shooting through the crowd is nearly impossible; they can only target those on the platform.
In addition, Jules frenzily knocks on the door, but no-one opens it for him. He can tell that the door is locked, but a well-placed kick might force it open. As he looks back to Caithas, he notices that the guard manages to injure the half-elf.
Veor rises from his hiding place, running towards the platform and pushing his way through the crowd.
Dexterity – (1d20+2)14
Despite the turmoil in the crowd, he manages to move efficiently, but a nearby guard notices the sorcerer. He takes a wild swing at him, before Veor has any time to react.
Attack – (1d20+3)14
Damage – (1d8+2)3
Veor manages to avoid the blade, which however strikes an innocent bystander, injuring her grievously. Veor has little time to worry about the unfortunate woman; instead, he runs towards the slightly elevated platform, before he jumps up to it.
Following Veor’s example, Erik jumps up the platform, taking a position next to Markus. He swiftly unsheathes a dagger, before he starts removing the ropes around the veteran’s ankles and wrists.
[OOC: Freeing Markus will require two standard actions, to cut the ropes. So far, Erik has only started performing the first.]
A group of guards moves towards Malcom, having taken notice of the position of the red flag. As they move in, they notice that a cloaked figure with a spear-like weapon is attacking one of their fellows. They move in towards the man with murderous intentions.
Two of the guards move towards Malcom: as they approach, they move clumsily, allowing Malcom to thrust his glaive against one of them. A third man moves against Veor.
In addition, the guard that Malcom knocked down manages to get up. He looks at the corporal angrily, swinging his sword against him.
Malcom_AoO_vs_Guard_3 – (1d20+5)18
Damage – (1d10+6)15
Guard_2_attack – (1d20+3)16
Damage – (1d8+2)7
Malcom swings the glaive blindly; to his surprise, the blade lands a solid hit, slicing the guard’s shoulder. A stream of blood flows from the deep wound; the man passes out instantly. The corporal’s moment of thriumph is short-lived though, as his fellow soldier manages to avenge his fallen comrade. He slices Malcom’s back with his sword; Malcom feels the sting of the blade, but the adrenaline rush prevents him from collapsing.
Seeing his friend in trouble, Ovidius forgets about the plan and fires two arrows in quick succession against the guard that struck Malcom.
Although one of the arrows connects, it unfortunately does not pass through the guard’s armor.
Another group of soldiers move through the crowd, eager to get to the platform to prevent Markus’ escape.
The blade cuts along the ranger’s forearm, causing intense pain. It appears that everything, including the escape plan, is starting to fall apart. The crowd tries to flee the scene in complete disorder.
[OOC: Malcom’s turn again. Please read the OOC thread before posting.]
(OOC: Obviously, I’ll wait for Malcom’s turn before Caithas’ actions, but I’ll roll the two Dexterity checks now, to make up for missing one last time.)
Dexterity Check Round 1 – (1d20+2)9
[roll=Attack Roll]1d20+4[/roll] 20+4=24
[roll=Confirm Crit]1d20+4[/roll] 17+4=21
(1d10 base, 6 for Str mod, *3 for crit, 3 for power attack, +1 AC till next turn)
Round 2; Malcom’s Turn]]
Malcom reels from the pain and takes a step back from the soldiers,
one down… two to go… this is just a scratch and I’m going to do far worse to these poor sods.
He swung his glaive at the man’s waist, between his breastplate and his hip armor. The blow is strengthened by his own resolve, the blade sings for blood as it slices through the air, the cloth whipping in the wind behind it, already drenched in blood. The hit connects with… devastating results. The blade finds the break in the guards armor and is drug across his abdomen, nearly cutting the man in half. Blood wasn’t the only thing coming out of this man’s body… Malcom shuddered for a moment before refocusing his eyes on the nearby guard, locking eyes with him.
“Flee now or die a terrible death at my hands!” he shouted at him, with his glaive pointed at him, now dripping with the blood of two guards.
[[Intimidate Check + 0]]
Damage – (3d10+27)44 (+6 from Str, +3 from Power attack, all multiplied by 3)
The guard collapses, his innards spilling on the snow-covered ground. A small lake of blood colors the snow crimson.
Your action did not go unnoticed by Aurelius, who rushes to his subordinate’s side. However, he only manages to take several steps before three men from the mob grab him, bringing him down from the platform. The mob starts to beat on him with whatever they can find, shouting insults against the lieutenant and the imperials.
[OOC: Your turn, guys!]
[OOC: I know Jules is before me, but if he doesn’t do anything to alter Elana’s actions, then this will be it. Otherwise, I will edit accordingly.]
Swords flashed, arrows flew, and blood was spilt in the market place. Elana crouched behind the fruit cart, watching the scene unfold before her. She’d lost track of the Lieutenant in the crowd, but she noticed a group of guards making for a couple of rebels. Her heart was beating through her chest as she launched into one of her spells. She didn’t know why she was helping the rebels, but here she was. Concentrating on the space above the guards, Elana tried to will them into a forced slumber.
The majority of the guards in the second group collapse. Although perplexed, Veor thanks the gods for the unexpected assistance.
Caithas felt the magnitude of the guard’s death wash over him. He’d killed before, perhaps too much for one lifetime, but the killing was never by the words and service of others. Still…the half-elf watched Malcom’s glaive shine as it sliced through the air and the guard before the corporal and he felt justice in that swing. Looking at the platform and the two other rebels working to free the prisoner, Caithas had the unmistakable feeling that he was just, despite the blood dripping from his blades.
Either way, the ranger thought, it’s too damn late now. With that, the half-elf looked for his next victim. Ahead of him, trying to surround the men working on the captive’s ropes, a group of guards suddenly began to slip and sink to the ground abruptly for no apparent reason. Another trick, like the ghost? Interesting, Caithas mused…magic is indeed in our midst. And by the gods above and below, it seems to be on our side! Taking little time to think about the importance of being part of an “our” for the first time in a decade, nor thinking about the lack of honor in attacking a newly-prone enemy, the half-elf weaved his way through the panicked, now-thinning crowd, and brought both his blades down on the nearest enchanted guard.
(OOC: Caithas, because of his 14 rolled for the round 2 Dexterity check, moves twenty feet west, to K15, stepping over the body of the soldier he’d just killed, stands next to the guard and attacks the sleeping Guard #5)
Attack Roll Primary Weapon – (1d20+2)22
Attack Roll Offhand Weapon – (1d20+2)14
Damage Primary – (1d20+5)22
Damage Offhand – (1d20+3)5
(OOC: Obviously, that damage is wrong, sorry. Here are the correct damage rolls: )
Primary Damage – (1d6+5)8
Offhand Damage – (1d6+3)8
(Also, I know that my natural 20 should indicate a critical roll, but since I forgot again, and I’m nearly certain my two damage rolls will kill that poor sleeping guard, I’ll refrain from adding insult to mortal injury )
Round two done: http://pyromancers.com/media/view/ma…?round_id=4800
The door wasn’t opening, if anyone was inside they were probably too terrified to move, let alone open their door for strangers in the middle of a riot. Realizing the futility of his actions Jules turns to look for another escape only to find himself looking on Caithas as he cuts down one of the empire’s guards.
Hells, what does zat fool think he is doing! If zey find out, when zis is over we will both be killed for what he is doing. If ze guards end ze rebellion, Elana and Ah will die for Caithas taking part, but if ze people win things could be even worse for us.
The stories of the Noble Pyres of Guthryll flashed through his mind as he made his decision. He held no love for the empire and at the moment his choice seemed clear, the rebels might kill him if they win, but the empire would absolutely kill them if they won the day. With a glace at Elana to make sure she’s hidden he takes off towards the site of the execution. Drawing his blade Jules rushes the stage, his eyes set on the senator.
Ah wonder how deep zat imperial loyalty runs in zes men. Let’s see how much zis man values his life.
[OOC: Jules is moving from I27 to I21 or however close he can get to the senator with a double move, I don’t know how elevated the platform is or if you need a climb check to get up from that side, but I’ll include it just in case. I’ll keep him at I21 for now, and you can move him later if you want to specify where he is. Also I don’t think I’ll be moving through the crowd, so I don’t believe I need a dex check. Round 2 Jules Done.
Climb – (1d20+0)10 ]
[OOC: Caithas-Confirm critical – (1d20+4)20 , Damage – (1d6+5)7 The favored enemy thing gives you a +2 to both attack and damage, so even when you are fighting with two weapons, you can use a +4 modifier. However, remember that you have to use a full attack to attack with both weapons (see OOC thread). I will assume that you just attacked with your scimitar.]
[OOC: Jules-The senator is at H17, so I moved you to H18. No need for a check to climb, the platform is relatively low.]
Caithas’ scimitar slices the soldier’s throat; you can hear him choking on his own blood and you are certain that he will be dead in just a few seconds if left unattended.
Jules moves in, easily climbing over the platform, and takes a position next to the senator. The man is cowering behind the gallows’ scaffold. He raises his palm over his head defensively, begging you: “I yield, I yield! Spare me, I am just an old man!”
Decius shoots an arrow against the only guard from the second group that remains standing.
Attack vs Guard 8 – (1d20+2)8
Damage – (1d8)2
Veor moves close to Markus and whispers a few mystic words. A thick mist emanates from him, covering everything around him.
Erik cuts the ropes tied around Markus’ wrists and removes the sack placed over his head. Markus looks around, alarmed, as Erik starts working on cutting the ropes around the man’s ankles.
The guard standing against Malcom panics as the corporal lands a killing blow against his brother-in-arms. He retreats to his commander’s side, since his superior appears to need his assistance.
Dexterity – (1d20+1)11
[Roll=Attack of opportunity (from Malcom)]1d20+4[/Roll]
Damage – (1d10+9)18
Ovidius shoots two arrows against one of the guards.
Attack vs Guard 8 – (1d20+5)17 , Damage – (1d8)3
Attack vs Guard 8 – (1d20+5)20 , Damage – (1d8)7
[OOC: Re-rolling Malcom’s AoO: Attack – (1d20+4)11 ]
Malcom misses the guard, but Ovidius sends two well-placed arrows that pierce through the other guard’s chainmail. The soldier collapses to the ground, leaving only one of the guards engaged in fighting your group still standing.
[OOC: Malcom’s turn again.]
[[Malcom’s Turn 3
Dexterity Check – (1d20+1)18
Move action: D18 to I18; South 5
Standard Action: Sheath Weapon (Glaive)
Immediate Action: Spring Loaded Sheath (Dagger)
Malcom is now armed with a dagger. End Turn. I’m assuming Jules is ‘friendly’ or ‘allied’ for this combat, allowing movement through his square.
Round 3; Malcom’s turn]]
The guard had granted him an opening, he could help Markus escape now. He turned his view to the scaffolding and saw Jules climb upon the scaffolding…
Oh god Matthias… Protect us all.
Malcom then affixed his glaive back into it’s holder before running through the crowd towards the scaffolding. An explosion of mist obscures his vision as he approaches the edge of the scaffolding. As he finds the edge he looks up it to see Jules, rapier in hand, standing over the senator.
“Jules! are you mad? If anyone were to see you… you’d be an enemy of the Empire forever!” he climbed up next to him and held out a cloak. “Wear this when the smoke clears we scatter, ditch it as soon as you find a quiet alley way.” He stepped past Jules, careful not to get between him and the senator. He arrived with Markus nearly free of his bindings. He drew a blade to help if it was needed.
“Markus, brother, we’re here to save you. Put this on.” Malcom held out the second of the extra cloaks he had brought. Caithas would have to hope no one saw him. Malcom peered through the mist but couldn’t see who was on the other side of Markus, so he simply called out to them.
“It seems we have more allies, can someone make sure the elf can get away unnoticed? I only have a cloak for Markus.”
Aurelius-Damage taken – (1d6)1 (from the frenzied crowd)
With the help of his subordinate, Aurelius stands up and starts slashing blindly at the crowd, which is partially obscured by the mist. Between him and his soldier, the peasants don’t stand a chance. You see blood flowing and body parts flying, as the crowd begins to retreat away from the battle-hardened lieutenant.
[OOC: You guys can go now.]
Noting that the tide of the battle had turned in their side’s favor, Caithas realized that killing was no longer his only and best option. With two nearby guards still asleep, Caithas bent towards the man whose throat he has just opened and tore the blood-soaked dead guard’s cape from about his neck. It wasn’t much, the half-elf knew, but if he used the Empire’s crest to cover his clothes and part of his face, he hoped that that would be enough to get out of this crowd in one piece.
Better to confuse the bastards than reveal myself, Caithas thought. People had seen him; he knew that. But they were panicked, and with the cloak, perhaps that would be enough to obscure his identity from the frenzied masses. With his face open, he knew his friends wouldn’t be confused though.
The ranger considered moving to slay another sleeping guard, but the slaughter of one defenseless man was enough for the half-elf for one day. He heard the shrieks of terrified crowd-members off to his north, but with the obscuring haze, Caithas couldn’t tell who was killing whom. Better to leave well enough alone, he considered. Instead, the half-elf moved through the thick mist (more magic, the ranger mused, but didn’t have time to consider its source) back towards the sounds of his companions. Jules, the ranger wondered? Is that really him in this fray with Malcom? Let wonders never cease…
(OOC: Caithas uses his turn to strip the guard of his cloak and retreat fifteen feet, taking his half-movement penalty in the crowd, from K15 to K18)
Caithas’ Round 3 Complete: http://pyromancers.com/media/view/ma…?round_id=4818
[OOC: Just making your dexterity check, Ra-thalun, so that we can find out if you have to take that 15 ft movement penalty. If you manage a 10, you can move 30 ft.]
Dexterity – (1d20+2)22
[OOC: Success! I will move you closer to Elana. Jules and Elana can go now.Round 3]
As Jules faced the senator he wondered if he would look like this if a sword was drawn on him. There would be time to think about that later, for the moment Jules had to be focused on what he was doing. Seeing the two guards openly attacking the fleeing civilians more than confirmed Jules’ suspicions on what would happen to him if the empire won the day. Those already dead would be the lucky ones. With the cloak Malcom had just given him draped around his shoulders he kneels and speaks to the senator.
“Senator, thank ze gods zat you are alright. We don’t have much time right now, but at zis moment Ah am your best friend in ze entire world. You need to call off ze guards, it is ze only thing zat will keep ze rebels from killing you today. After zat Ah can ensure your safety.”
His words might not be the most eloquent under duress, but he hopes that they’re enough to convince the senator to obey him for the time being. His sword is no longer pointed at the senator’s chest, but is still firmly grasped in his hand as he uses his other hand to hoist the senator up, shouting one last time “Call off ze guards,” before taking off, out of the fog towards Caithas in the crowd.
Upon finding the mad ranger he grabs his shoulder, trying to direct him away from the chaos and back towards Elana and their path to safety.
[OOC: Going for a bluff/diplomacy check against the senator, with a 10 respectively, not sure which one you would want. Moving from H18 to J21. Round 3 (Jules Done)]
[OOC: Does Elana do anything?]
(OOC: Not to speak for another player, but since Kyoh uploaded the story today and didn’t take a move for Elana, is it safe to assume she’ll continue hiding as the battle draws to a close?)
[OOC: Alright, I am continuing with the postings, since the battle is practically won. Kyoh, if you want to do something, you can still go ahead.]
The senator stands up, shaking and still in fear of any incoming arrows. Jules’ attempt to convince him that he is an ally is unlikely to succeed, since the rebels, standing next to the young noble, ignore him while he speaks to the cowering politician. In addition, Jules’ last remark sounds like a threat, but the senator sees that he has little choice. With a trembling voice, he commands: “Soldiers, stand down! I command you!” The guards seem perplexed, as do the rebels; both sides remain alert but stop attacking each other.
No more arrows fly from the top floor of the miller’s house. Instead, two cloaked figures, Decius and Ovidius, make their way outside of the building, moving into the crowd and blending in with the mob. (Sheath weapons & Move). Ovidius struggles to follow Decius through the crowd, but he is a bit slower than his companion.
As Erik cuts the ropes around Markus’ ankles, Veor hands the man a gladius. The two rebels escort the war hero to safety, joining Caithas’ side in the crowd. Markus is pushed as soon as he enters the crowd, but he manages to maintain his footing. Erik, however, is less lucky: he falls to the ground and he is trampled.
(Veor: Hand short sword to Markus and move, Erik: Cut ropes and move, Markus: take sword and move)
The guard by Aurelius’ side continues slashing at the mob, unable to see what is going on behind the cloud of mist.
[OOC: Malcom’s turn again.]
[[Malcom’s 4th turn:
Free Action: Speak
Move Action: I18 to K18; South 2
Standard Action: Aid Another; Help Erik up.
Round 4; Malcom’s turn]]
Malcom hears the senator cry for his life, and to his surprise the sound of combat beyond the mist seems to come to a stop. He sighs in relief but knows they aren’t out of trouble yet. As soon as there was no immediate threat to the Senator, he’d sick the guards back on them.
Well I certainly owe Jules and Caithas a drink… Ow, damnit!
His wound was beginning to get the better of him as the stinging came on quickly, he wouldn’t have much time before he’d start to feel it. He saw Markus and someone else leave the platform in-front of him before he called out,
“Brothers! The day is ours, scatter!”
He followed the men off the platform, and as he did so he noticed someone lying on the ground, it took a moment for him to realize it was Erik.
“Come on, up brother! We cannot linger. Besides, I think I’ll need your help getting out of here…”
He knelt down and attempted to help the rebel to his feet.
[[Assuming from the looks of the encounter map the civilians aren’t there any more. So I won’t make a dex check.]]
Aurelius shouts to the guard: “Move, fool! The rebels are escaping!” He rushes to the platform, where the senator stands, navigating blingly through the mist. He sees that Markus is no longer there and he observes Erik as he tries to escape. He moves in, trying to prevent him from leaving.
(Double move-provokes no AoO from Malcom, as his glaive is sheathed.)
(You guys can go: Jules, then Elana, and then Caithas.)
The command to stand down from the senator and the guards stopping their attack gives him a moment of relief; before he hears Aurelius shouting at the remaining guards.
It would seem zat following orders isn’t a priority for zis man.
Turning to look at the source of the noise, Jules sees Malcom bending down to help another man, while the shouting soldier stands above them, ready to attack. His mind raced as he thought about the consequences of Malcom being found as one of the conspirators. And hearing the shouts of Aurelius only confirmed what sort of soldier he was: powerful, violent, and extremist. If this man found Malcom, then Elana, and by extension Caithas and himself, would all be suspects.
For a moment Jules considers going back and trying to help Malcom, but the image of himself dead in his wedding clothes flashes before his eyes again. As he turns once more to leave Malcom he hears another voice in his head. “I will never love one as weak as you…” Her words echo in his head as he turns, one final time, moving through the fog and through the crowd towards the shouting guard.
[OOC: Edit: To match the dex roll I’m only moving my three spaces. Moving from J21 to H18, and so I don’t provoke an AoO I’m going to be moving through the crowd for part of it. I’d also like to make a stealth check against Aurelius if its possible with the fog still being there and me being in the crowd. Also I can’t seem to take my move without using Caithas turn so I’ll wait to move on the board until he goes.
Dex – (1d20+3)7
Stealth – (1d20+7)15 ]
[OOC: My mistake, I some how thought that the battle was concluded. We’ll assume that Elana stayed in hiding last round. Also, considering Obscuring Mist obscures vision beyond five feet, since Aurelius is at the edge, would it be plausible that those on the outside could at least see him? I’m going to go ahead and assume we can, but if not, disregard these actions.]
Seeing the battle near its end, Elana was just about to leave her hiding place to greet Caithas and Jules when a figure appeared in the mist striking at one of the rebels. Elana quickly ducked back down thinking reinforcements had arrived, but it seemed that it was just one man. Her heart was still racing from the fight, and she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t thrilled at the effect her spell had before. Now she wondered if she could do it again. Carefully targeting the Imperial officer, Elana tried to will him to sweet unconsciousness.
[OOC: Cast spell; Sleep; Will save DC 15; Elana, Round 4 (done)]
Caithas felt safety slipping away with the commander’s voice. If he lives, we’ll be hunted, the ranger realized; the man’s tone brooked no quarter.
Dammit, the half-elf muttered. There’s no other way? Gods!
Caithas, feeling his chance for freedom slipping through his fingers like the sands of a long forgotten beach, turned on his heels, scimitar still drawn, and charges the shouting commander who would have them all killed if the tide of battle turned his way. As the ranger raised his blade, he thought he saw the now-familiar look of magical sleep overtaking the plate-mailed commander, but with his swing halfway to completion, it was too late to hold his hand. The half-elf’s last thought before his steel connected against the leader’s armor was, “Fuck.”
(Caithas moves five feet north and, sliding past Jules, without a word, moves fifteen more feet west to stand to the right of the commander and attacks: )
Attack – (1d20+4)19
Damage – (1d6+5)6
(Caithas’ Round 4 done: http://pyromancers.com/media/view/ma…?round_id=4931)
[OOC: Update w/ Jules move included. Round 4 Jules Done.]
[OOC: Jules, Aurelius cannot see you now, due to the fog, but if you become adjancent to him because of moving, he is allowed a perception check. The senator might notice you, though.]
Senator Perception – (1d20+1)18
The senator manages to see you through the mist. With terror in his eyes, he shouts towards Aurelius’ direction: “Step down, you’ll have us all killed!” As you approach, he assumes fetal position, putting his arms over his head and fearing that you have come for his life.
[OOC: Elana, there is nothing in the rules stating that casting a spell that affects an “area”, such as sleep, requires vision. Ideally, you should not know where Aurelius is, so you would have to cast blindly, but we should think of a house rule to resolve this next time. Perhaps a Perception check? For now, I will allow it]
Aurelius Will save – (1d20+1)9
With a cluttering sound, Aurelius collapses to the ground.
[OOC: Caithas, when you are attacking with just one weapon, you can use the +6 modifier.]
Your attack hits the lieutenant, but it barely injures him, as Aurelius is well-protected by a thick layer of plate mail. He screems, awakening with a thirst for vengeance.
The rebels rush into the crowd. They wait for Markus to catch up, before they retreat into the mob. With Malcom’s help, Erik gets up, taking advantage of the fact that Aurelius is down and runs after Markus.
Decius – (1d20+1)19 , actions: double move
Veor – (1d20+2)13 , actions: double move
Erik – (1d20+2)22 , actions: get up and move
Ovidius – (1d20+4)18 , actions: double move
Markus – (1d20+3)22 , actions: double move
[OOC: Ovidius is out of the map, just in front of Markus, but he has managed to escape.]
The remaining guard rushes to his commander’s side (double move), moving past Jules, who tries to remain undetected within the mist.
[OOC: If he fails, he provokes an AoO from Jules, but Rcmon, you can forfeit this in case you want to remain undetected. I will roll attack and damage just in case.]
Attack – (1d20)10 , Damage – (1d6)5 , Sneak attack – (1d6)1
[OOC: Failed the guard’s perception roll. Let me try again: Perception – (1d20)6 Okay Jules, you can remain undetected, at least if you do not take that AoO. Your turn again, Malcom.]
[[Malcom’s 5th turn
Free Action: Drop Dagger
Move Action: Draw Glaive
5-Foot Step: North East (behind Caithas)
Standard Action: Power Attack, Cleave Vs. Aurelius
Accuracy – (1d20+4)19
Damage – (1d10+9)18
If successful, the attack cleaves the nearby guard….
Accuracy – (1d20+4)22
damage – (1d10+9)11
((Since this is power attack, I do get the -1 penalty to make it +4))
Round 5; Malcom’s Turn]]
Malcom sees Aurelius fall to the ground and subsequently get attacked and stand back up. Boy was he pissed. However, this would be the end for him it was long over-due that he pay for his sins. Malcom manages to stumble behind Caithas, discarding his dagger along the way, freeing up his hands to re-draw his glaive.
“I’ve got your back Caithas, he has to pay for what he’s done.”
With that Malcom sent the glaive flying from the top left to the bottom right, just over the half-elf’s head. The mist makes it difficult to see Aurelius but Malcom knows hes there. He hears and feels his glaive find its mark, and follows through with the blow, hitting a second target adjacent to Aurelius. He could only hope that this was the guard that ran to his captains side, and not Jules or someone else trying to help.
No, no… Jules left already… I saw him leave the mist.
He reassured himself of the blow before returning to a ready stance behind Caithas.
Malcom’s attack hits Aurelius straight in the chest. The clash of metal on metal sounds loudly throughout the marketplace, but Aurelius’ full plate armor does not allow the deadly blade to reach his vital organs. The momentum of the blade is greatly diminished by the strike; by the time the weapon hits the guard, it does little harm.
Enraged, Aurelius swings his weapon against the half-elf, shouting to the man behind him: “I will soon get to you too, coward!”
The lieutenant almost lands a solid hit, but Caithas manages to take advantage of the thick fog. He takes a small step back and avoids the attack.
[OOC: Edit: Everyone, please edit your posts accordingly.]
(OOC: That was too close for comfort!)
[OOC: Redoing this post to match up with the plan of not dying like idiots.]
The sound of Aurelius’ threat suddenly puts Jules back into a more rational state of mind. He was a lordling thinking to fight a trained soldier. He would sooner be able to kill a lion with a toothpick. With the other guard before him he sees his chances of survival if he stays here declining quickly.
Ah came here to help, but zat man is a monster. Ah am sorry Caithas, but perhaps you can rid yourself of zat sense of duty long enough to flee.
With his mind made up, now for the last time, Jules takes off back towards Elana, cursing himself the entire way as he hears both his father and Dunia’s voices laughing as he goes.
[OOC: Moving to I26 with the double move from withdrawing. Disregard the rolls below. Round 5 (Jules Revised Done)
Attack – (1d20+0)9
Damage – (1d6+0)1 ]
Caithas, seeing his life flash before his eyes with the swipe of the commander’s great weapon, knows when he’s been bested. With the crowds dissipating and the battle largely won, the ranger withdraws with his companions.
“Until next time, dear commander,” the half-elf whispers as he backs up through the enchanted fog towards safety and freedom.
Moving swiftly, the ranger moves towards the crowd and finds himself side by side with Elana. “Good day, Lady Savain,” the ranger huffs through winded breaths. “Lovely wedding day, hmmm?”
(OOC: Caithas uses the full-turn Withdraw option, moving towards Elana and escape. Caithas’ Round 5 complete: http://pyromancers.com/media/view/ma…?round_id=4979)
Seeing Caithas and Jules burst from the fog in retreat, Elana is quick to follow their lead, hiking the hem of her cumbersome dress and making for the crowded streets. “Good day, Lady Savain,” the ranger huffs through winded breaths. “Lovely wedding day, hmmm?”
She shook her head at the man who followed acts of treason with sarcastic comments. “What the hell were you thinking?” she said as they ran from the market square. “You could’ve gotten killed!”
Dexterity – (1d20+2)22
[OOC: Double Move (puts her off the grid); Elana, Round 5 (done)]
[EDIT OOC: Good god, I think she just parkoured her way over the crowd with that roll.]
As everyone retreats, the last guard standing is too afraid to try to attack Malcom. He holds his ground, but does nothing to stop you from fleeing.
Veor shouts: “Move out, what are you waiting for?” before abandoning the scene.
[OOC: Malcom’s turn. Assuming everyone retreats, you can quickly discuss where you want to go afterwards. You have several options already (Broken tooth, Drunken townsman, estate, rector’s guesthouses, Malcom’s wife, upper Andelia). Malcom, you should also let your men know what to do-unless otherwise ordered, the soldiers will disperse, but Decius, Markus et al. will wait for you at the drunken townsman.
Kyoh, parkour in a wedding dress is never a bad idea. Also, you should choose a prize for the storytelling assingment. I provided some suggestions in the discussion thread, but feel free to make your own.]
[[Malcom’s 6th turn
Free Action: Speak and taunt the ever living heck out of Aurelius
Move Action: Double Move J19 to K25 To M30 (edge of map)
Round 6, Malcom’s Turn]]
Malcom watched as both Caithas and Jules fled from the fight. He couldn’t blame them neither of them seemed the soldier type, despite Caithas being a ranger, Malcom suspected he’d never been up against anything like Aurelius.
Damn, damnit all. Your retribution will have to wait you bastard…. At least we’ve got Markus, that’s a big enough victory for now.
Malcom eased up his posture and he stared at Aurelius, with a calm hatred burning in his eyes. This man alone has caused so much unnecessary suffering, ruthless at his job and unforgiving too. He decided then and there that he’d end this mans life sooner rather than later, all those days of being verbally abused by him had secured him that much.
“You, how dare you call me a coward! You beat the weak an unarmed, you justify yourself with the loyalty to a crown across the ocean. I challenge you to a duel. The day will come when my wounds have healed and the blood of your soldiers dries from my blade. Then I shall take your life for all the suffering you have caused in this world. Until then…”
Malcom held his glaive in his left hand and made a peace sign with his right hand, and with the back of it facing Aurelius he flicked his wrist at him. He was certain the man didn’t understand his insult, but it was good enough for him. Malcom turn and fled with his cloak whipping in the wind behind him, the long slice within the cloak flailed about as the air moved though it. Even if Aurelius wanted to chase him, his armor would slow him down to much for him to keep up. Yes… that’s it. His speed will be his down bringing. He ran past Jules and Caithas and followed the lady out of the square. He whispered to Decius to have the men scatter and return home, they would send more orders through the regular channels. Malcom notices the lady infront of him and stumbles up to her from behind, whispering some direction, “Drunken Townsman, change clothes, all of you.” He waited a bit before breaking out of the crowd and breaking off into an alley way. Once he was hidden between some shacks he took the time to tear his cloak off and use part of it to wrap up his wound in a crude bandage.
It’ll need more attention than this… but at least this will hold for now…
He pulled his chain shirt back down over the bandage. He could feel the steel press against his bandaged wound, causing it to sting in pain,
Damn maybe I should have just left it…
After a while it subsides and he run along the alleyways to a back entrance to the Drunken Townsman. There he hides his glaive inside of the secret room before sitting at the corner booth to wait for the others.
Caithas smiled at the noblewoman as he followed closely on her heels and drifted into the surging, fleeing crowd. “I was thinking I would try to help, my Lady; whether I did or not is anyone’s guess. Come! Follow Malcom’s lead.” The ranger knew he’d stared certain death in the face and come out the other side unscathed. Despite his now-certain status as a traitor to the crown, the half-elf couldn’t help but grin. He hadn’t had this much fun in years.
Dashing alongside his companions, the half-elf stopped a moment behind a building to turn his cloak inside out and douse his shirt and breeches with dirt and muddy water (better to keep them guessing, the ranger thought). While the crowds had been thick and the magical fog had certainly helped, the ranger believed that if anyone had seen him, they wouldn’t be looking for a man looking as he currently did.
There, behind the building, the half-elf found a bloodied bag, clutched in the hand of a man who appeared to be some sort of acolyte or cleric. The holy man’s side was open and free-flowing and his heart was still; he’d died from his wound only recently, likely a victim of the mad slaughter of the vicious commander of the guards. Caithas bent and peered in the bag, finding ample healing supplies, including potions of curatives, confirming his belief in the dead man’s devotion to good. Pausing to say a silent prayer to whatever gods would listen, the half-elf gently closed the man’s eyes and lifted his bag up. “Let the living care for the living, holy man,” Caithas whispered.
Grabbing the sack, Caithas drifted back into the crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jules, Elana or Malcom. Finally, the ranger spies Malcom ducking into an unmarked doorway. With no clear sight of the nobles, the half-elf took his best chance and followed the corporal through the doorway. He found himself in a tavern, dark and dreary even in the light of day. The ranger pulled his hair over his slightly pointed ears as best he could, ordered a stiff drink from the bartender, and walked over to Malcom, sitting alone in a large corner booth.
With a crooked grin, the half-elf whispered, “Is that what you were talking about yesterday, corporal? Or is more excitement in store this day?” The ranger sat before the soldier could reply. Taking a long slug of his drink, Caithas nodded at Malcom’s wound and said, “I’d say you’re in need of this more than me, friend,” as he withdrew one of the potions of healing from his newly-acquired supply. Sliding the potion under the table so as not to draw attention, the ranger whispered, “Here, drink, sir…magic saved us once this day; let it do its trick once more.”
(OOC: Malcom, the potion of cure light wounds is 1d8+1. Hope you get a good roll. Good luck!)
Malcom grinned as best he could. His body was furious with him and he couldn’t really move his arms without letting out a grunt of pain from the wound,
“I believe the only other excitement in store for today is a wedding after party.”
Malcom grabbed the potion under the table and set it on his lap,
“You’re a damn fool. You and Jules both. What were you thinking just running in there? I was able to provide Jules with a bit of a disguise. I can only hope that the rest of the fighting and the smoke prevented you and him from being noticed, but I doubt Aurelius doesn’t remember your face. I’d stay away from him.”
Not wanting to seem ungreatful, he laughs and puts a few gold pieces on the table,
“I believe this is the second time I’ve bought you a drink.”
A bar girl comes and takes the money and returns with some more drinks. He chugs a good portion of one before taking the potion and washing it down with the rest.
[[Healing – (1d8+1)4 Malcom is now at 11/13HP]]
Malcom rolls his arms a bit, obviously feeling a bit better, but he pushes it too far once and gets a bit of stinging,
“Thanks… It doesn’t look like it’s healed all the way, but its certainly a hell of a lot better than it was.”
“And I believe this is the second time I’ve accepted a drink from you, Corporal,” the half-elf replies as he tips a wink at the red-headed barmaid. “I’ve always had a soft spot for red heads,” Caithas says with a grin as the server walks away. His gaze lingers too long though, and his smile falters, as his shoulders slump and his breath hisses out with a resigned sigh.
“You’re welcome, by the way, and I’m glad your wound feels better. It’s a damn lucky thing that I found that bag…the poor holy fool whose dead hand held it tightly wasn’t so fortunate, I fear. I imagine, after today’s madness, there are more than a few unfortunate dead bodies scattered around this fair city that you so insanely call home.” Caithas failed to mention that he possessed a few more curative items, but after what the solider and his companions had put him through today, the half-elf figured he might need some for himself in the coming hours and days ahead.
He drank down the rest of his ale and barked out a sharp laugh.
“Hells, I suppose it’s my home too now, isn’t it? At least until that commander finds me…Aurelius, you called him? Aye, I’m sure he’s none too pleased with me or with any of us for that matter. Still, that magical fog may have saved my hide…we shall see, eh? Only the gods know. Speaking of which, where did that fog come from? And the sleep spells? What kind of wizardry do you people have on this side of the ocean, man?”
Caithas looked the young soldier dead in the eyes and lowered his voice.
“And a fool I may be, sir, but you asked for my loyalty and you have it. Two men lie dead from my hand this day, and I’m putting my faith in whatever gods are left on this plane that their deaths are justified. I helped you save a man today, and I knew not his name; I left a wedding and stumbled into a bloody funeral and yet I never questioned you or yours.”
The ranger leaned over the beer-soaked cedar plank serving as a table. “Now that I’ve given up any hope for a quiet life on this blasted continent, I’d like to know just who exactly I’m dealing with and whom I helped save today. If this Aurelius is going to murder me soon, I’d rather die knowing what in the hells I’m being killed for.”
“Soft spot for red-heads eh?” he thought for a moment, thinking of the lady.
Wouldn’t THAT be interesting…
“Er…” he notices himself lost in thought, “I’m a sucker for blondes. Ask my wife and daughter.” he chuckled, but got serious as Caithas mentioned the death within the city, hushing himself despite the nearly empty bar
“There’s nothing new about dead bodies in the street. The only difference is now it’s imperial soldiers and not poor citizens. Aurelius isn’t pleased with YOU, my good friend. He hasn’t the faintest idea I was there, Jules I believe was hidden by the fog, and I think I spotted the lady hiding behind a cart, so I think she’s safe as well. Not to say he’s pleased with anyone though. Even as one of his subordinates I catch a cart load of crap from him.”
He sighs and lightly strikes the table with a closed fist, “I’ll get that bastard soon enough.” Malcom thinks on the magic that occurred during the event.
“Well… The Ghost and Smoke was one of my Friends magical tricks… part of the plan. But sleep spells? I thought those soldiers were dead, I swore I saw one bleeding out… In any event, I doubt the sleep spell was from one of our men. It would of had to of been cast after the smoke, and they were all busy freeing Markus.”
“Aye I did ask for loyalty, but a fools loyalty is more of a hindrance than a help. Their death’s cannot be justified. Even the two men I’ve slain today cannot truly be justified. I tried to disable them and get to the platform, but they sought combat and thus I struck them down. They maybe loyal soldiers to the Imperial Crown, but they could still have families. There is little justice in death. If it helps you to ease your mind, the man we saved is named Markus Naevius, he’s an old war hero who was accused of conspiring against the empire two years ago. His rescue is more of a symbolic one, and it gains us the favor of the people… and allows us to use his knowledge to our advantage. Anyone who hates the Empire is for our victory today. There’s a lot of hate within this city.”
he pauses and sighs apologetically, “I’m sorry you had to be brought into this like you were. I figured you’d be busy with the wedding all day so I left the three of you to it. Caithas, I was going to ask you to help escort Markus to safety, but it seems you’ve proven your loyalty to the cause.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the rebels take their seat at a table next to yours, so that everyone can listen to each other and communicate. Upon hearing Malcom’s comment about the ghost, Veor turns to him, raising a thoughtful eyebrow: “What? Too much drama for your tastes?” he says and smiles, trying to lighten up the mood. “I thought we might as well try to gain the support of the superstitious folk. You know, two birds with one stone.”
Decius turns to everyone, saying: “We have all done well today. Alas, some lives were lost, but I wasn’t naive enough to believe that we could avoid bloodshed entirely. The question is, what do we do now? The loyalists are not going to take this lightly. I am afraid that today’s events will very well be the spark that will ignite the fire.”
Markus speaks for the first time after being released: “Indeed. Why did you go through all that trouble just to free me? Nothing from the mighty general and hero that I once was remains in this old, fragile body. Whether I would die in the dungeons or hang from the gallows would make little difference to me. What, exactly, is it that you want me to do?”
Ovidius speaks last, summarizing what everyone has said: “Today we have won a victory, but the war is only beginning. If we want to be part of this war, we have to think before we act.” He turns to Jules, Elana and Caithas: “However, I see that you haven’t introduced your comrades, Malcom. I assume they are not plain rebels like ourselves”, he says whilst observing the two nobles with a hint of mistrust. “Can we trust them, or should we escort them outside?”
[OOC: Let’s wait for Jules and Elana’s replies, since they are the ones who are just finding out about the rebellion, and nobody has any clue on how they would react.]
The sprint with the crowd had winded Jules, and as Caithas had disappeared towards a fallen body Jules had no idea where he was going until he found himself inside the slowly filling tavern. The smell and the chaos in the air still disorienting him. He couldn’t tell what was going on at first. He recognized Malcom, he recognized Caithas, he clearly recognized the man the rebels had freed from the gallows.
Jules slowly regains his senses and starts to make sense of the discussion filling the room. The freed man was some sort of former general, the rebels were struggling for freedom. It isn’t until one of the strangers in the tavern addresses him that he finally speaks, not aiming his words at the man, but instead at Caithas his voice dripping with judgement and more than a little bewilderment.
“Caithas, Ah think zer has been some sort of miscommunication. Ah said, ‘see if Malcom has decent clothes you can borrow for ze wedding’ but it seems zat you heard, ‘join a rebellion and put all of our lives in danger,’ now correct me if Ah am wrong, but Ah wasn’t drunk yesterday, Ah usually remember things like zat. Ah think Ah would especially remember if Ah considered treason as a good follow up to a wedding, zat is ze sort of thing zat stick with a person.”
Jules covers his face with both hands, inhaling slowly as he rubs them back through his hair and turns to Malcom, finally ready to address the new issue that had suddenly put itself at the forefront of his life.
“Malcom, Ah supose my first impression zat you were different from ze common soldier was a bit of an understatement on my part. Your friends can trust zat Ah will not betray zem, but Ah want to know what you plan on doing to zis city zat Ah am forced to live in. Zis little rebellion of your is going to hurt more people zan just zos who sign up with you. Innocent people died today, and Ah was almost one of zem, and Ah take serious offense at dying for another man’s goals.”
Caithas smiled at the noblewoman as he followed closely on her heels and drifted into the surging, fleeing crowd. “I was thinking I would try to help, my Lady; whether I did or not is anyone’s guess. Come! Follow Malcom’s lead.”
“Malcom?” Elana shouted over the din of the crowd. “Where is he?” she was about to ask, but the half-elf was suddenly out of sight. People were still pushing and shoving in panic, getting as far from the chaos of the market as possible, and she’d completely lost track of Jules, too. With nowhere else to go, she quickly ran to the Broken Tooth, which was blessedly close. The tavern was buzzing with news, people retelling the event from mere minutes ago with exaggeration and altered versions. Thankfully the patrons were so consumed with the news that no one paid her any heed as she slipped into the back and to the basement.
She quickly threw off her dirt stained wedding dress, stuffing it under the bed. In the corner was a small satchel containing a few personal items that she’d left behind when the rector’s men came to take her things. In it was her plainest clothes; leather traveling boots and breeches, a white tunic, and a blue cloak. She quickly changed into the unremarkable garb and took a couple other things she thought would be better off left outside of the rector’s estate; a small dagger, and her crossbow, Ællastyr. She slid the dagger into her belt, leaving the crossbow concealed in the satchel which she slung over her shoulder.
She managed to sneak out of the tavern without drawing attention from the patrons or Ulf, who she wanted to avoid explaining everything to. A short sprint brought her to the Drunken Townsman, a wholly unremarkable place. Stepping in, Elana noticed the bar was virtually empty save for a group of men, a few she recognized as rebels, Malcom, Caithas, and Jules. The rebels tensed as she walked in, but at Malcom’s nod they visibly relaxed and let her pass. She took a seat at the table, unsure of what was happening or what would happen. Why she even showed up here at all eluded her. She didn’t owe any loyalty to the cause, or anyone in it, and she wasn’t sure she even agreed with it, but something had drawn her here, some need to know why.
Still in a post battle shock, Elana was content to let the men talk, and listen as much as she could before she spoke or committed herself to a decision.
The half-elf turned his head back and forth from the mistrusting rebels and Jules, briefly lighting his eyes on Elana. Exhaling slowly, setting his drink down on the table, the ranger spoke.
“I am a new-comer to these lands, and I didn’t want any troubles. I came here for…hells, what I came here for is gone anyway, vanished like smoke in the wind. But that matters not. What matters is that Corporal Malcom here is an honest man. He is a decent man. He is a man who saved a friend from a judgement, both dubious in its trial and intent.”
The ranger nods at the newly-saved old solider Marcus. “I am glad that your life is still your own, sir; saving an innocent is never a waste, I pray.”
Seeing that eyes remained on him, the half-elf attempted to calm the tremble in his voice and went on.
“Today, I watched a commander of the Crown cut down innocent women and children. I saw blood shed with no fear of reprisal. Across the sea, the Empire holds life in a balance; here, it seems to hold lives by the fucking throat.” The ranger pauses, casting his glance towards Elana. “My apologies, my Lady, for both my choice of words and for helping drag you into this today.”
He looks around once more, trying to assess the mood of the surrounding men. “I saw Malcom try to save a man’s life; I saw his enemies slaughter without a second thought. I made my choice.”
Caithas turns to Jules without anger.
“You wish to question me, my lord? You wish to be angry? Fine then. Anger is your right. Releasing me from your service is your right as well. But I made my choice. I stood by your side this morning, and for that, I am honored. If you wish me to vanish from your life, then so be it. But know this: When I drew my blades this day, when I killed men of the Crown, I did so because I believed that, from what my ears and eyes told, the Crown’s side is the wrong side.”
The ranger takes a breath, looks at the gathered rebels and the two nobles.
“I am not an assassin, spy or any other damned thing. Subterfuge and skullduggery are not in my blood. I am a man of the land and I saw what I saw. I did what I thought was right. And,” Caithas says, turning to Malcom, “I would do it again. Corporal Malcom was one of the first men I met in this city, and he remains one of the most honest and true. If I had the chance to help him and his friends, by the gods above and below, I would do it again.”
“I know that I risked much this day, but the risk was my own. If I endangered your household, Lord and Lady, then I apologize,” Caithas said with a mixture of sincerity and scorn. “I would help where I can; my father raised me thus, and despite pissing on his memory these past years, by the gods, I’ll do what I believe is right. If our paths diverge here, Jules, so be it, but know that I leave you with nothing but friendship in my heart. But I do not apologize for my actions this day.”
The ranger takes a long drink from his flagon and finishes, eyes fixed on the table, “I made my choice.”
(OOC: Diplomacy check +1)
Malcom waits silently for a while after Caithas finishes talking,
“Listen here, Jules.” He put inflection on the mans first name, “It’s not a matter of what I have planned for this city, and how dare you call it little. I’m grateful for your help but you honestly cannot expect me to listen to a man like yourself talk about what he thinks, and what he wants. I’ll tell it to you straight. Innocent life’s being lost? Damn right lives are going to be lost. Do you know how many innocent people have died to the empires hands? DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY WE SLAUGHTERED?”
Malcom angrily slams his fist down on the table, with a grunt of pain from his wound, “Damn you for assuming I don’t know that. Aurelius and his guards will pay for the innocents they killed today, yesterday, last month and forever before that. People will die for this countries freedom and I’ll be damned to call anyone in this world innocent, but they’re volunteering to fight for what’s right. We can’t be held accountable for the Empire’s actions, but we’re the good guys. You’re worried because you ran headlong into a battle between rebels and soldiers and you expect me to feel sympathy for the fact you almost lost your life? I don’t believe I saw anyone pulling you into the fray, hell you don’t even look worse for ware! Perhaps a little shaken, but I don’t see a scratch on your sorry ass. These are only my goals because they are the goals of the people. If you won’t die for their cause, then take your wife and leave Andelia, flee like a rat to the far away cities and sleep on the streets for the rest of your life. Why? Because you’re so damn pretentious that you don’t understand what’s going on here. People are STARVING Jules, People are being beaten, maimed, and having their coin purse slowly bled by the empire.”
Malcom slowly calms down and looks to the three people sitting at the table with him, he rubs the bridge of his nose with both hands before looking at everyone, “Listen, I’m sorry. It’s the battle, it’s still got my blood going. I’m fighting for whats right here, we all are. I’ll ask you each individually, though Caithas has already spoken, so its down to you two.”
Malcom looks squarely at Jules and Elana, who had been sitting quietly the whole time… He figured he should at least speak softly for her sake.
“Elana, Jules, I don’t know what’s happened in your life before this, what you planned to do or what your hopes and dreams are. I’ll say it as plain as I can. I, we, are fighting for the people of this nation, for sovereignty and to defeat oppression. Though it sounds so grand… we have little plans beyond a few days horizon. This is the first victory of many, but I doubt we’ve sparked a revolution today. This is the first step on the path to freedom, I ask that you join me on this road, you’ve made a commitment so far, but it isn’t to late for you to back out and return to your lives if you so wish.”
he paused for a moment, remembering a quote from a book he read about Matthias, it summed up everything so simply, he could remember one line vividly to fit the situation, he utters it quietly to the group. Half hoping no one hears it, but also yearning that its words be heard.
“For all his bluster, it is the sad province of man that he cannot choose his triumph. He can only choose how he will stand when the call of destiny comes, hoping he will have the courage to answer.”
[[I’ll post the whole thing in tales by the fire if you guys want.]]
Caithas watched the Corporal’s anger ebb and flow like the ocean’s tide. He heard Malcom’s words, and moreover, he heard the man’s conviction. He heard honor ring through the dingy room and he heard justice fall from the soldier’s lips. He heard a leader.
The half-elf smiled to himself. While he hoped that Jules would choose a path of decency for once in his life, and while he also prayed that this day would not be the last that his eyes touched upon Elana Savain’s face, he smiled knowing that his words hadn’t been for naught. He’d made his choice and it had been the right one. For that, the half-elf was grateful; it had been many years since he’d been so sure of anything as this.
Waiting for the nobles’ responses, the half-elf did his best to breathe evenly and sip his drink. Still, despite himself, his eyes kept drifting to Elana. Elana Savain…nay, Amour! Gods! The idea…
Inwardly cringing, the ranger broke himself from his reverie with the silent promise that, from now until the end of time, the noble woman would be Elana Savain, no matter what deeds and documents might claim. But could she truly join this fight? Beautiful she might be, but she was no warrior. What place would she have in this, Caithas wondered to himself.
After listening to Jules, Erik also joins in, adding more insults: “Bloody no-good blue-blood! Innocent, my ass! How do you think you can afford those fancy clothes and jewels? Have you ever even worked in your life, boy? Have you ever thought how many peasants toil and suffer so that you can have your palaces, your wines and your whores?”
As Malcom speaks, everyone sits tight, paying attention to every single word uttered. When the corporal concludes, there is nothing but silence in the room. But the silence is broken by Markus, who mockingly claps at Malcom’s speech: “Bravo, Sir, bravo! If words were fire and righteousness was steel, we would have already overthrown the monarch! My friend, you are wasted in the humble profession of a soldier. You should be an orator, or a politician, or a priest. Most certainly, your congregation of children and old ladies would be hanging on your every word; they would gladly empty their purses to fill your pockets.”
He continues, adding further injury to insult: “You speak of our many victories to come, but other than your fiery words, you have few men, no weapons and no plan of action. Have you not learned anything from history, or do you place your trust on the gods, knowing that your cause is righteous? Where were the gods ten years ago? Was the cause not righteous back then? Words may be nice for stirring the crowds and impressing the simple-minded, but remember that they are not unlike farts: just air passing through a fool’s orifice. And what of your men, the brave heroes who saved this mighty general on this glorious day?”
He then turns to everyone in the room, addressing each one personally:
(to Ovidius and Decius)
“Here are your brave and wise leaders: A pair of old, senile fools, seeking redemption and forgiveness in the waning years of their lives. They saved one more old fool today, and somehow they have managed to convince everyone that the resulting triumvirate will lead us all to glory.”
“A coward and a deserter, that chooses to hide behind arcane smoke and fire, instead of fighting like a man.”
“As if the corporal’s self-righteousness was not enough, we have a savage from the North amongst our ranks. Berserker, I am certain that your ingenious plan of charging blindly into the fray will lead us to victory, and even if we fail, what is better than a glorious death?”
“As if the circus was not complete, we even have a woman in our ranks! Alas, if the tides turn against us, we will always have the opportunity to run and hide under her dress.”
“My kind sir, ‘tis all too quickly that you have fallen in love with our wise corporal here. Will you not reconsider your allegiance next time the commander’s blade separates your head from the rest of your body?”
He finally turns to Jules, putting his hand behind his shoulder. “Only the cowardly boy here thinks clearly, while the rest of you are daydreaming delusions of grandeur. True, he may be a coward, but he has more brains than the lot of you! Listen, boy: You may run, if you want, but remember: the senator that you so kindly spared today has seen your face. Half of the guard is probably looking for you and your pointy-eared friend even as we speak. So leave at your own peril. But if you stay, you will have to leave your decadent lifestyle behind you and be a man. Your days of drinking and whoring, generously sponsored for by your papa or whatever rich relative, will be over, but there is glory to be had in war. Fortunes can be made, women taken and, while there may be death, you can savor the sweet blood of your enemies.” He turns to Malcom and Caithas, who are probably not happy to hear such comments: “Not all of us fight for the same reasons.”
He then turns to everyone, concluding: “So, if we do this, then we do it right: First we think, we plan, we wait, and then we strike. Otherwise, we just leave now, each of us going their separate ways. What say you?”
[OOC: Roll a Sense motive check vs. a DC of 10 on your own (do not use the thread dice roller-I trust you. If you succeed, you have access to the info in the spoiler below. Also: @ Malcom, sure, go ahead and add your epic speech to the stories, and feel free to add it to Obsidian portal (Perhaps make an entry “Player characters” in the wiki, then add “Malcom” and add it there. @ Ra-thalun: What was the diplomacy request for? To influence Jules? Because that is not possible (he is a PC, doesn’t work on him, you have to role-play instead )]
The half-elf eyes the old man, taking in his cruel, biting words to the men before him. It’s the eyes, the ranger realized. The man’s mouth says one thing, but his eyes say another. Perhaps, if this Markus was more than he seemed, this whole damned misadventure might be worth it…
“To answer you, sir, no, my allegiance is firm. I have promised two men my honor and my blade since arriving on these shores. One is Lord Amour here, who, despite his words, tone and general personality, has buried a decent man in all that fucking pomp somewhere. The other is Corporal Malcom. If you are the man these men seem to think you are, then I’d make you the third. I was willing to lay down my life today, sir Markus, and I’d do the same tomorrow. I don’t speak for my companions, but I, for one, would see the Crown’s bloody grip released from your city. I saw the blood shed in the name of the king this morning, and if more can be prevented by my hand, so be it. I have little else to live for, truth be told; honor and boredom appear to be all I have left on this miserable continent you people call home.” Caithas barked out a sharp laugh that seemed too loud for the quiet tavern.
Caithas held the old warrior’s gaze as he finished his drink with a slight splash and ordered another; today, it seemed, one drink just wouldn’t be enough.
The words from Malcom and his companion pushed Jules to the brink of an incredibly stupid decision. His normally cool temper was starting to boil over as Malcom’s friend kept up the insults. Malcom wasn’t wrong about him, he hadn’t been hurt and he knew it, and he didn’t care about the others who had suffered today, but he wanted someone to blame and at the moment Malcom was looking pretty good.
You stupid wild boar, Ah don’t waste money on whores when drawing your wives from your bed is so much easier. But zen again you’re too busy starting wars to notice zat zer gone.
Jules’ was just about to lash out, as the man Malcom had rescued spoke. At first the old man’s words simply put Jules’ anger on hold as his pride grew with every insult of the men. He felt especially good as Markus scolded Erik, a petty smirk brushing Jules’ lips. It was only when the man addressed Jules that his mind actually started to calm itself, and he finally began to think. Markus had a point.
Jules knew that war brought with it opportunity. Maybe this could be his way to finally break free of his father’s grip and earn his own place. It wasn’t as if the rebellion had much in the way of planning, and if he was there from the start…nothing was keeping him from making the relationship mutually beneficial. But Markus had just berated a tavern full of armed, angry, and apparently passionate men, and he doubted that his support alone would be enough. Taking a moment to clear his throat Jules finally speaks back against the group.
“Ah don’t know if what Caithas says is true. If zer is a decent soul underneath zes clothes he does a good job of hiding it. Ah also don’t know if Caithas or any of you for zat matter, are entirely sane in thinking zat you can trust two nobles not to turn on you in ze midst of a peasant rebellion. Zes things don’t have a history of working out well for us. Heads on pikes, bodies in pyres, all zos unfortunate things.
But what Ah am sure of is zat if you continue like zis Ah won’t have to worry about any of zat, because you will All. Be. Dead. You’re right, Ah’m not innocent, but if zer is one thing zat a people’s rebellion needs, it is ze support of ze fucking people! What do you think ze Empire’s guards are doing right now, sitting around with zer thumbs up zer asses congratulating zemselves on a job well done? No, zey are busy spreading rumors about how anarchists stormed ze streets and murdered civilians, cut down guards with families, attacked a member of ze senate, and stopped ze execution of a condemned criminal. So tell me, what part of zat works out well for you?
“Or maybe you were just hoping zat every pig farming, shop tending, peasant would be thrilled to lay down zer lives for zis rebellion. You know ze reason zey are starving, beaten, maimed, and don’t fight back. Zey don’t want to die! So you have a rebellion for ze good of ze people, without ze support of ze people, zat is bad enough, but even with ze support of ze people you still can’t win. You know why? Because you have nothing. How did you intend to fund zis rebellion, ze pockets of ze poor? Zat option is both stupid and no longer open to you. Or maybe you planned to steal what you needed from ze Empire? How long before zey notice zer supplies dwindling, how long before zey notice zat it always seems to happen on Malcom’s watch, how long before Malcom’s family and friends are being taken in for “questioning” and Malcom is never seen from again. And zen how long until zis entire operation falls apart.
“So yes, Ah am young, and yes, Ah have little experience with zes things, but what does zat say. Ah have known about zis rebellion for less zan an hour, and Ah can already see a half dozen ways it falls apart before ze end of ze week. Ah am sure zat you don’t need some young “blue-blooded” boy, telling you zat zer is more to war zan battle and strategy.
“So let me make sure Ah have everything straight. You are outmatched in numbers, outmatched in training, outmatched in fortifications, outmatched in funding, outmatched in food, outmatched in supplies, without ze support of ze people, without ze support of a nation, and without ze ability to trust anyone.
But on ze bright side, Ah am willing to turn zat around. Ah have connections in ze north who can provide supplies, Ah have people across ze sea who can bring in income, and above all Ah can offer you a voice zat is capable of moving ze common man to support you. So yes, to answer your question, Ah will help you with zis most noble and righteous goal."
Jules found it difficult to keep the snide tone out of his voice as he finished speaking. Turning as he was done to whisper something into Caithas’ ear. “Would you consider thinking a while before you swear your sword to ze next man you meet, it is sure to create some terrible conflict within you if zey ever ask you to turn zos blades on me.”
[OOC: Diplomacy check w/ +10 modifier to see if the group is willing to accept/trust Jules.]
“Ha!” the half-elf gasped in surprise, half drunk from the damned ale but pretending not to be. Such serious faces…such serious words…
“See? I said as much, didn’t I?”
The ranger looks around the room, watching for the soliders’ reactions. I’ll be damned, he realized. Either way…
Elana watched the whole conversation play out in silence, letting the men speak their mind and work out their troubles. She did shoot Erik a reproachful look when he started insulting her and Jules’ noble heritage and upbringing, as if there was anything she could have done about that. Markus earned the same look after he made his chauvinistic comments, though Elana let it slide since she saw through to his true intentions.
It seemed that everyone was getting on the same page and slowly resolving their differences, though it was little comfort to her. Malcom said that she could go back to the life she had, but could she? Mannix clearly wanted her out, and who knows who he might set her up with if she returned? Her home was a gilded cage and Andelia was a boiling pot of socio-political turmoil. She’d much rather prefer to be free to make her own decisions, so Grey Hold seemed out of the question.
But where else can I go? She could think of two choices. One: she could stay with Ulf at the Broken Tooth and work for room and board. It wouldn’t be a glamorous life, but it’d be one she chose. Two: she could join the rebellion. For all the gusto and grand speeches, she couldn’t help but feel that the cause wasn’t her own. In fact, it would probably pit her against her family, which was a terrifying thought, considering House Savain’s resources. Even if she joined the rebels, what could she do? She wasn’t about to reveal her powers to these strangers. To them she would just be a pretty face with an ornate crossbow. And what did this make of her and Jules? Were they even considered wed? The idea of using the rebellion to free Griff from his prison crossed her mind, but she doubted the rebels would be interested in liberating a street urchin from an overly strict nunnery.
Being well read, Elana was more disillusioned with the romantics of war and politics than most people her age. There are countless records of uprisings that simply exchanged one tyrant for another, though they all started with promises of change. Who could say this would be any different? Either way, she was bound to be disowned by her House. Working for Ulf, she would be rather destitute. Working with the rebels, she would be in continuous danger. It wasn’t an easy decision.
“This decision is something I don’t want to make in haste,” Elana said, when a few questioning looks turned her way. “I hope my friends here can attest that I’ll keep my mouth shut about all this,” she said, defusing any thoughts that she may rat the rebels out. “I’ll have to think on it all,” was all she explained.
[OOC: If no one asks anything else of her, Elana will head to the Broken Tooth for the night. She tells everyone as much, so they can find her if need be.]
“Damnit Markus. Words are all we have right now. And without the courage and hope to stand behind them we’ve already lost. You may throw your insults mockingly, but today you sit alive in a group of men who have banded together for the same cause. Its through our planning that you are alive. With the exception of the three newcomers we have all thought long and hard on why we want to do this. You play me for an irrational headstrong soldier but that is far from the case. I don’t expect the Gods to come and help anyone, you are also ignorant of our plans so I won’t place any blame on you there. I might have high faith in what we are doing, and I fight for the greater good of the world. There will be glory in combat only because there must. Rape, thievery, murder, they all align us with the very thing we are set to destroy here. We cannot be blinded by vengeance. What say I? I say we wait, think, and await for the current plan to come to fruition. Markus, you are only step one of today’s actions.”
Malcom looks to decius and the other men, and nods, knowing their support. Malcom watches and Elana leaves and then turns to Jules and punches him in the face across the table.
Unarmed Strike Accuracy – (1d20+4)11
Damage – (1d3)2
Jules is considered flat footed
The alcohol and his injury gets to him, as the blow falls short by about half a foot.
“Bastard, don’t you dare talk about my family, I’ve done… everything I can… to protect them… Again, your arrogance and ignorance precedes you. We have men, soldiers, marching to Holgrath to free more soldiers and prisoners of war, we have other allies on their way. I don’t expect every man to stand up and fight, but we will gain support through our victories, our numbers will grow as we are successful, our arms will come from the fallen of our enemies, though it is cruel, they have no need for it. Though I said I cannot abide thievery, I feel no qualms about stealing from the empire. What man is going to notice the weapons are gone when the city doesn’t have a single loyalist left in it?”
Sensing things going from heated to unforgivable, the ranger watched with increasing worry as Malcom took a swing at Jules. Hit or miss, the intent’s the same. Maybe the lady was the only sensible one.
Caithas flicked his eyes at Markus and saw the old man’s lips twitch, but whether from anger or amusement, the half-elf couldn’t tell.
“Stubborn bastards,” Caithas interjected suddenly, holding tightly to his mug. “You’re both right; don’t you see what’s before your own eyes? Malcom knows this city and he knows his cause, and it’s a just one, but justice isn’t enough. The people may rise with your deeds and words, corporal, but then what? Untrained, barely armed peasants versus armed, trained guards? Jules, nay pardon me, the Lord Amour…for what the nobleman lacks in honor and justice he makes up for in other, more tangible, ways.”
The ranger looks around at the men as he pushes himself to his feet.
“I’ve seen the young noble’s associates; I know the goods he deals and the connections he has. If a rebellion is what you’re after, you’d do well to have the Amour’s resources on your side.”
Seeing the Lady Savain reach the door, the ranger finishes, “But what do I know? I’m just a newcomer bastard; trust me, I haven’t forgotten. You know where I stand; do as you will. For now, unless Sir Amour wishes to do so himself,” Caithas adds with a nod at Jules, “I’ll escort the Lady safely back to her lodgings. This day has proven that the streets of this city are not wise to travel alone.”
With that, the ranger follows roughly twenty paces behind the noblewoman, keeping his eyes on her crimson hair, watchful of any trouble.
(OOC: If Jules wishes to follow his wife, please ignore the last part of this post. If Jules plans to stay and debate further with the rebels, then Caithas will guard the Lady as she returns to the Broken Tooth)
Jules watches the drunken swing coming, and sees that Malcom clearly isn’t in full control of his senses by how disoriented his punch is. He wanted to strike back, but he knew he was more likely to end up hurting himself than Malcom, so he decides against it, instead pushing himself towards a more diplomatic route.
Ah wonder, did ze Lord of Questions look like zis before ze fires of Guthryll?
He clearly wasn’t going to be changing Malcom’s mind by insulting him; despite the obvious flaws he was ignoring.
“Ah love idealism, Malcom, it makes zos who believe in it especially easy to fool. But Ah don’t want zat to happen to you, because zen something bad might happen to me. So Ah am going to lay zis out as plain as Ah can. You seem to think zis is a war of conquest, but it isn’t. Ze peasant militia doesn’t conquer ze nation engulfing empire. It just doesn’t happen. Your only hope is to outlast ze empire and become too large of an annoyance to be bothered with. For zat you will need more zan just men and arms, unless you have learned to eat steel and wood you will need food, not just for yourself, but for ze people trapped inside ze cities you liberate zat are held under siege.
“And as for loyalty, you are right. Some people may be swayed by your cause, some may choose to lay down zer lives for ze noble goal of liberating Svorinn, but many will only continue to follow whoever holds ze most power and many more will try to take advantage of both you and zis chaos. Are you ready to murder every supporter who turns from you cause, because if what Ah saw today is any indication ze empire won’t have zat problem, and zat means people will stay with them because zey fear zem more zan zey care about your cause.
“So Ah agree with Markus, we do need to sit down and plan. But not your next battle, you need to think beyond swords and battle, and you need to have at least one voice who realizes zat ze logistics and management of a war are just as important as ze fighting.”
[OOC: I’ll get around to posting the Guthryll Revolution story as soon as I finish Lineen (The Goddess) page.]
“Bah, Jules. You take me for a fool. We are at an understanding, though the ways we’ve reached it are twisted. I’m aware there is planning to be made, and I’m sure you will make a valuable addition to the cause.”
He sighed and began to speak apologetically, “I understand where you are coming from and what you mean. I’m not blind to what it would take for this to work. I’m sorry for swinging at you, I can’t help it when people speak of my family. I’ve tried so hard to make sure they’re safe, to make this a better world for my daughter to grow into. I stand ready to do whatever it takes to achieve that. Even if it is logistics and politics.”
“For now let us relax and enjoy our victory, as short sighted as it was, we now have dear Markus to help guide us and we’ve gained at least two allies this day. Jules, I’m truly grateful for any help you can give us be it planning or supplies. I apologize again for my actions.” he shrugged and looked over to Markus, “Well then old friend? You have our attention and support. Where do we begin to think?”
Jules and Malcom:
Markus observes with great interest as the party discusses. When all is said, he offers his own suggestions on the matter: “That’s more like it! Insults and wishful thinking will lead us nowhere. We need to seek allies if we are to succeed. Whether they be men of the guard, soldiers and old veterans long forgotten, or if they are thugs and thieves, it matters little at this point. We need all the help we can get if we are to stand a chance. We can worry about the details later.”
He turns to Jules first: “You are gifted with a silver tongue, blue-blooded boy. Why don’t you put this gift of yours to use? Seek out whatever contacts you have here, see if they are willing to join our cause. Make sure you tailor your words specifically to those you address; not all will be willing to lend us their aid simply because our cause is righteous!”
He turns to Malcom after that last remark, giving him a crooked smile. “And you, my fiery-hearted brother! Why don’t you put that fine oratory of yours to our service? Go to the agora, talk to the masses, see if you can raise the rubble. As the nobleman said, we need the people’s support if we stand any chance to succeed!”
Erik turns towards Malcom, and with those words, he pledges his allegiance: “If you ensure that the natives will receive what is righteously theirs after our victory, then I will stand by your side till the end. Swear it and you have my axe and my life.”
Markus then moves towards Ovidius and Decius: “I will make sure that we have all the veterans on our side by tomorrow; let us meet again here and share what progress has been made. One last thing, Malcom: None of the guards saw your face during the battle. You must take advantage of this. Do not raise any suspicions. If I were you, I’d report for duty tomorrow. We could use a man on the inside.”
[OOC: You can do whatever you want for the rest of the day (it is now noon). Malcom, you can go to the agora and talk to the people, try to see if you can find some allies or stir the masses. Jules, you can retire, join Elana, or try to seek out your contacts with the thieves’ guild. You can do those things together, or separately. Jules, though no-one is looking for you yet, remember your disguise skill if you want to pass off as someone else. You can also use it to help others disguise.]
Elana and Caithas:
As Elana leaves, she is followed not only by Caithas, but also by Veor, who abandons his rebel brothers with promises that he will meet them again at the Drunken Townsman tomorrow morning.
Elana moves through streets, which are full of confused civilians as well as several soldiers, arranged in columns, that are marching towards lower Andelia. The officers try to maintain discipline, but several soldiers are just wandering through the city, harassing the citizens and forcefully taking goods before they follow their comrades.
Elana tries to remain inconspicuous, but her appearance attracts a lot of stares, despite her plain outfit. As you approach Ulf’s tavern, you are stopped by a drunken soldier who pushes you into an empty alley. “Well, well, what do we have here? A young lass wondering through the rough parts of the city on her own? Don’t worry, ol’ Jones here knows how to take care of a pretty lady.” He tries to grab you-although he is drunk, he is still much stronger than you.
Caithas and Veor witness the scene from just a few feet away. Veor is ready to rush to the woman’s aid: he unsheathes his longsword and runs as fast as he can towards the alley.
[OOC: You are in upper Andelia now. Both taverns (Ulf’s and Longinus’) are located there. The imperials seem to be summoning their forces to lower Andelia, where most of the governmental and military buildings are.]
Caithas draws both of his blades as Elana is pushed into the alley and begins to run, noticing Veor, from the battle earlier, heading in the same direction. “Unhand the Lady, sir. Your hands are on nobility!”
(OOC: Intimidate check +1)
(Just in case it comes to fighting, I’ll roll for initiative now while I’m online. If there’s no fight, obviously ignore this: )
Initiative – (1d20+2)8
Jules was finally leaving the tavern, and he was surprised by the energy he felt about the situation. A year ago he would have laughed at the idea of fighting a revolution, but now the thought of using the skills his father taught him to fight the empire whose boots his father licked…well that was just too appealing an opportunity to pass up. He had already started making a list of the people he would need to contact.
Ah will need to contact Duncan obviously, Ah should get Darkcrow to set me up with some of his contacts in ze city. Ah will need zem for any smuggling operations we will be using. Ah should also get in contact with Elana’s uncle, he may not be pleased zat we survived, but he had resources, and if he is even half ze lord Ah think he is he wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to capitalize on zis situation, especially with hope Ah intend to spin it. Hells, Ah should probably inform my father zat ah am alive, Ah doubt Ah could be him to provide resources for us, but perhaps my sister will be more willing to help.
With his mind swimming with ideas he leaves the tavern in a rush before quickly backtracking to ask exactly where the Broken Tooth is. With that he heads after Elana, hoping to get her help in his side of this endeavor. After a short time walking Jules sees something strange in the distance. Three men and a woman in some sort of dispute. When Jules sees two distinct blades drawn he sighs inside before picking up his pace to a sprint. Hoping to reach the situation before it turns to violence.
There was a lot on Elana’s mind as she made her way back to the Broken Tooth. Treason was not a choice to be made lightly, after all. Especially when you had as much to lose as she did. She didn’t even notice the man until she bumped into him. “Ow- Sorry!” she was about to apologize when the man grabbed her roughly by her arm and shoved her into the nearby alley.
“Well, well, what do we have here?" slurred an obviously drunk soldier. Elana cursed her luck. "A young lass wondering through the rough parts of the city on her own? Don’t worry, ol’ Jones here knows how to take care of a pretty lady.” He took a wild grab at her. Elana saw the attack coming and leapt back, reaching a hand for the dagger in her belt, when her foot caught on a loose flagstone, causing her to fall back. Her head cracked against the alley wall, and her vision blacked out momentarily.
A high pitch keening pierced her skull. Her sight was blurred, though she was aware that she was on the ground and thought she could hear familiar voices shouting from close by. Elana pulled herself up to a sitting position, but the sound in her head throbbed with every beat of her heart, like an unbelievably strong migraine. Her satchel containing her crossbow had fallen somewhere, and all she could think of was the dagger which had landed nearby. Her hand pawed around for the discarded blade unsteadily, as her vision slowly began to focus.
[OOC: If/when it’s needed Initiative – (1d20+6)24 ]
Malcom nodded as he received some orders from Markus. He decided to try and see what the towns people felt about the days events, the best way to do that was to talk with shop owners and the bartenders in the taverns. Malcom remembered he had left his dagger at the fight… he’d need to buy another… not that he had the money for really anything right now. he sighed as he stepped outside of the Drunken Townsman. A patrol of guards marches by to lower Andelia. At least there won’t be as many guards around so people could speak more freely…
with that he left for the market, his mind ran over the events earlier, leaving him lost in thought as his body mindlessly shuffled towards the Agora.
I killed two men today… poor bastards… if only he hadn’t gotten back up to fight, why not stay down when clearly bested? Though, I can’t be worried to much with their lives, they’ve chosen their path and I’ve chosen mine. I wonder what Aruelius is going to tell me tomorrow. Hah! I wonder what the bastard thinks of my challenge. Oh the little sorrow I’d feel standing over his bleeding body…
Elana, Jules and Caithas
Elana, momentarily disoriented by the fall, is easy prey to the drunkard. The lone soldier, seeing an opportunity, is just about to start doing what it is he intended, when a voice behind him interrupts him. He turns towards Caithas and Veor, who has partially unsheathed his longsword, while pulling up his breeches.
“Sure! And I’m the bloody king of Demeria! Piss off and mind your own business. You don’t want to mess with a soldier of the eleventh.” You notice that his armor bears the standard of legion XI, a pair of crossed spears with a wreath of laurel leaves below them. “What are you waiting for?” he adds as you continue standing there.
Jules soon catches up with the rest of the group. The soldier and would-be rapist is too drunk to notice or realize that he is outnumbered, and that all of you are carrying swords.
[OOC: I am assuming you are moving towards the agora, the public square of the city which is also located in upper Andelia and not the Marketplace. I am also assuming that you are cloaked.]
Walking towards the public square, you notice several groups of soldiers and guards evacuating upper Andelia. They are all heading towards the Knight’s bridge; you see at a distance that the gate has been raised to allow the squads to pass through. The evacuation is generally carried out in an orderly fashion, with the majority of the soldiers marching through the main streets of upper Andelia. However, in the labyrinthine narrow byways that run through the city’s densely housed areas, insults are commonly exchanged between the residents and soldiers who have fallen back from their units. Most soldiers generally ignore such provocations, but as you are about to reach the Agora, one such incident is escalating into violence. A group of peasants has managed to corner a soldier. Before he has a chance to draw his sword, this group of six to eight angry individuals close in on the soldier, as they start to beat him with clubs.
Finally reaching Caithas, Jules looks to see everyone involved. Catihas, Elana, a soldier, and one of the men from the rebellion, Veon, Victor, Vor, something like that. Breathing more heavily as he reaches the group, Jules turns to Caithas to find out what is going on.
“Caithas, is something going on here? Who is zis man?” Jules spoke calmly, but he was dreading the idea of starting yet another conflict today.
Ze guards are sure to be more alert after what happened at ze gallows, and starting another fight will only draw zem to us zat much faster.
[OOC: Can I have Jules make a perception check (+3 mod) to see if he notices any other guards or soldiers in the area?]
Jules looks around nervously. There is a great deal of commotion in the street that leads out of the alley’s exit, but there seem to be no other soldiers around, and no-one seems to be paying attention to you.
[[ Yeah, I got confused, Agora’s can be both meeting places and markets. ]]
Malcom walked though the streets, the people sure had fire within them after today’s events. Luckily for them the soldiers didn’t want a fight, not yet anyways. Malcom notices the guard succumb to the mob and does his best to ignore the situation
Bah! My conscious will be the death of me… Still, there’s many things to be gained here.
With that, Malcom draws his sword and heads for the group of peasants,
Sure the soldier might deserve it, but he also deserves a chance at repentance.
He reaches the group and with his free hand pulls two of the men back off of the guard with a strong pull to each of them, “What in the devil’s hell are you doing!?” he called to the group as a whole, “There’s nothing more to be won today by killing a single man, what are you wild beasts? Cease this needless violence!” he commanded the peasants down, for their sake. Even if they slew the guard the group is likely to attract some attention. He placed his sword out over the top of the prone guard, both trying to shield him and intimidate the peasants. If they wouldn’t listen to reason he’d have to leave the guard to his fate.
[OOC: I am adding some extra parts the PCs should have no access to, just to make the story a bit more novel-esque and the NPCs a bit more interesting. Let me know what you think, I can also post in the tales thread instead.]
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Svorinn…
The old man sat next to the fire in the crowded tavern, which also doubled as one of the many fronts for the thieves’ guild. Two bottles sat on the table: a bottle of pastis, already half-empty, and a bottle of cold water, almost full. Tiny droplets of humidity rested on both bottles. From time to time, one of those would grow large enough and would trickle down the bottle. Runolf shifted his attention from the fire to the droplets and the establishment’s smoky atmosphere, focusing on a mundane object for a few minutes, studying it keenly, before abandoning it for another.
There, among the noise, the music and the smoke, the great wizard pondered on his schemes. Things had not turned out as he had planned. Caithas had chosen to walk away, as if one could escape the thieves’ guild hold as simple as that. Alas, the ranger had proven too stubborn for his own good. Greycloak smiled to himself, entertained by the thought that the half-elf had thought him to be an evil, dangerous man. “He will learn, one way or the other”, the wizard thought to himself, as he took another sip of the aperitif.
Although Runolf was sought out for his services and valued for his expertise, he was no stranger to failure. Magic and divination might be powerful, but they have their limits. As much information one can unveil using such methods, human nature is too unpredictable, too fickle to allow the construction of successful schemes by only considering logic. Such thoughts were passing through the wizard’s mind, as he opened his satchel and retrieved Kyra’s diary. The wizard thought of all the possibilities that this simple, small book could open up, had the ranger not insisted on being so stubborn. “And yet”, he thought, “we all try to make our choices and live with them. Those blessed with uncomplicated minds never pause to think of the multitude of roads, the plethora of choices that their lives are; they are too focused on the path that has been taken.”
With such thoughts going through his mind, the old man leafed through the diary for one last time, before throwing it into the flames.
Escaping the cloud of fog, were many lay dead, Aurelius rushed through the crowd, trying to reach the rebels who had escaped amidst the chaos and the madness. He sent guards, he inquired civilians, and he even threatened to slay those that would hide the rebels, but to no avail. The insurgents had disappeared into thin air, not unlike the ghost of the dead general that had appeared out of nowhere this morning.
Aurelius may not have been the brightest tactician in the Imperial military, but his predicament was plain enough for him to realize immediately what this meant. At best, he would be personally held accountable for the escape and he would be forced into a shameful retirement. At worse, he would serve as the politicians’ scapegoat: they would have no qualms in laying all the blame to him. In the end, he considered, perhaps there would be another execution in the near future. He thought of himself being at this execution; only now, he was the one standing by the gallows, his hands and ankles bound.
Aurelius laughed at this thought; perhaps too loudly, because his subordinates started staring at him. The warrior was no stranger to death. He had dealt death before his arrival in Svorinn. He had fought fiercely under the banner of Legion IX. He had slaughtered countless men during the Storm, all in the name of the Empire. But he would never imagine that he would be executed by the Imperials he so loyally served throughout his life. “Politicians”, he thought, “thou art capricious whores, shifting your allegiances from one day to the next, like indecisive noblewomen with too many dresses to choose from.”
As he considered his options, a solution began to crystallize in his mind. “We are trained to fight, we are trained to kill, we are trained to show no mercy. We are trained to revel in the blood and death of our enemies. The things we’ve seen, none of the civilians even dare to imagine. And yet we are called upon to serve the public, called upon to protect the very same people we would have butchered, had the circumstances been slightly different. After having tasted the sweet victory of the enemy’s complete annihilation, we are told, nay, ordered, to put on a stern visage and become loyal hounds to a worthless master. Well, if it is butchery they want, butchery they will have!”
Aurelius ordered his soldiers to return to the barracks. Alone on the field of slaughter, he slowly removed his armor, before disappearing into the streets of Andelia.
“Eleventh or not, your hands are touching the wrong woman. I am her sworn bodyguard and this man is her bloody noble husband,” Caithas says as he nods towards Jules.
“I warn you, sir, whoever you are…walk away now or you’ll never walk again. This I swear.”
Caithas finishes this statement by crossing both blades in front of his chest menacingly.
“Lady Savain, you should go to your husband’s side…this man won’t bother you again. Will you, sir soldier?”
Sitting in the alley, the drunk soldier between her and the others, Elana pressed a hand to her head; the noise she heard was rising in frequency and felt like needles in her mind. She saw Caithas speak, looking at her, but all other sound seemed muted, as though she were hearing them through from a distant room.
“Rise.” A voice echoed in her head.
“Rise,” it commanded. Unaware of her own movement, Elana found herself standing, propping an arm against the alley wall for support. An image of the drunk soldier’s throat sliced open flashed in her mind. Looking down at her free hand, she saw that she now held her dagger. “When did I pick that up?” Elana shook her head; she wasn’t thinking straight. “The voice! Why is it back?” The darkness that she had sensed when she first discovered her magic was returning. Had she over exerted herself today? Did she cast too many spells? Or was it the hit on the head that triggered the voices?
Before she realized it, she had taken a step towards the soldier’s back. She stopped herself, and fell back against the wall. What was she doing? She prayed the situation would resolve itself soon, or that the sound in her head would go away. As though it heard her thoughts, the voice quietly laughed in a corner of her mind.
Elana, Jules and Caithas
The soldier snarls at Caithas, but he realizes that he has no chance of success against three armed men. He looks at all three of you closely, before threatening: “The Legion will hear of this!” He then walks away, sparing not a moment to check if Elana is alright.
The small party of four continues their journey towards the Broken Tooth, with Elana leading the way. There is still great tumult, but you are all extremely careful now and manage to avoid any major incident. Most of the soldiers have abandoned lower Andelia by now; the plebeians are discussing intensely, trying to figure out what is going on. A signboard in the shape of a tooth at a distance signifies that you have arrived at your destination.
As soon as you arrive, Veor bids you all farewell. You are left standing outside the tavern’s door, which appears to be locked. You knock loudly and persistently for several minutes before a reply comes. “Hold your horses”, says a man behind the door, who Elana recognizes to be Ulf. A small spy-hole opens in the door and an inquisitive eye looks at you. “For god’s sake, come in!” Ulf says to Elana, opening the door.
You all enter the establishment. Ulf is slightly irritated at Elana, grumbling: “I never said you could bring your friends. Any friend of Bormund’s is a friend of mine, but this is not a bloody inn. What in the hells is going on, anyway. I haven’t seen this much commotion since the Storm.” Ulf pauses, allowing you to explain your situation and make your requests.
The peasants disperse in frustration after seeing your sword. The soldier manages to get up. He is beaten up, with several bruises on his face and a bleeding nose, but nothing serious. You recognize the soldier: he is Hakon, a native who has only recently joined one of the legions in Andelia. You do not know much about him, but you did train a small group of recruits some months back, ad Hakon was one of them.
Hakon looks at you, recognizing your face. He whispers a broken “Thank you sir” while wiping the blood from his nose. “I am heading for lower Andelia, following my captain’s commands. Do you care to join me? Things are taking a turn for the worse here.”
You see a bit of your younger self in the green boy. You weren’t all that different ten years ago, when you fought for the Imperials to quell the riots during the Storm.
Caithas nods at the barkeep, “Thank you sir. Just an ale, please, for now,” the half-elf says, tossing a coin on the bar.
Caithas breathes a sigh of relief and, waiting to see the Lady’s next move now that they were in her familiar territory, took the time to disguise himself further. I should have killed the bastard soldier rather than let him live, the half-elf admonishes himself. Choices made with the heart, not the head, will be my death one day. Taking off the stolen imperial cloak, the ranger quietly tears the cloak, creating a cloth rag for his head, and more importantly, to cover his tell-tale ears. Tying it around his head, Caithas looked meaningfully at the tavern’s proprietor and tossed two more coins on the counter.
“The ale is just what I needed sir, but I’m afraid I must ask one more thing of you, if my coins prove sufficient. Do you happen to have another set of clothes? I seem to have badly muddied and torn my own.”
The angry man reminded Jules of Duncan, slightly louder and a bit dirtier, but still similar in many ways. Thinking briefly on the best way to explain the days events, Jules speaks up and explains.
“Sir, Ah am Jules Aime Amour, and as of today, Ah am ze newly wed husband of Lady Savain. And zis is my confidant and bodyguard, Caithas Thalornn. After ze wedding zer was an attack by a group of rebels at ze gallows, zey were trying to prevent ze execution of somebody, and in ze commotion zer was a mob of people running away. Now ze streets aren’t safe for anyone, just a moment ago Elana was attacked even with three armed men escorting her. Ah would only ask zat we have a place to rest until zis situation blows over.”
[OOC: Diplomacy check (+10) to see if he’s willing to let us stay for now.]
Ulf looks at Caithas with some annoyance, saying: “This is a tavern, not the market. If you need clothes, then take your coin to a merchant.” He pushes pack your money, turning to Jules to listen to what he has to say.
“Shit! I knew there was something in the air, but I thought it was the dog. Blasted Imperials are gonna declare some state of emergency now, or some kind of martial law.” The big man passes his thumb and index finger through his massive moustache, thinking. “You are in luck, since you are Elana’s friends. With all the ruckus, there won’t be much business anyway. If you do not mind sleeping on the floor in the basement, then you can stay here. I doubt that this is the safest place for a pair of newly-wed nobles to be right now, so don’t stay too long. I’m not putting my ass on the line for you lot, so make sure you don’t put me into any more trouble.”
Ulf shows you to the basement, a cold and dusty place with barely enough space for three people. He picks up a dusty parcel from a shelf and throws it at Caithas: “Here, you can have this for free. No need to thank me, I have taken a liking to your young master.” The parcel contains some filthy rags that you could use as a disguise. Nothing glamorous, but you would look like a beggar in those, and you could conceal your swords underneath them.
[OOC: Jules, Ulf is actually not a dwarf, just a middle-aged, bald human with massive, tatooed arms and a big white handlebar moustache. I edited your post to reflect that.
Caithas, if you wear your sword sheathes beneath the rags, you can conceal them, but drawing the swords will then be a full-round action.]
Deciding not to push his luck with the angry bartender, Jules decides not to ask about getting paper and ink for the letters he’s going to need. Regardless of how much a liking the man had taken to him, Jules knew that pushing it too much might backfire. With the group safely in the basement Jules turns to Elana. She’s still beautiful, but her looks are the furthest thing from his mind at the moment. He didn’t know if the lack of interest was from the stress of the day’s activity or the knowledge of what he’s about to tell her, but it helped keep his mind focused if nothing else.
Ah suppose Ah should just come out and say it, ‘Elana, Ah’ve decided to join ze rebellion and use it to burn my father’s dignity and ambition to the ground.’ Nope too honest, and a little crazy, maybe ‘Elana, you know how we nearly died today, well Ah’ve decided to make a career out of doing zat.’ or how about ‘Elana, remember your family and friends, well forget zem because if zis goes badly you’re probably going down with me regardless of your involvement.’
Oh hells, what have Ah done. Zis was just stupid, ‘Sure Ah’ll help your ragtag group of soon to be dead rebels fight ze empire.’ What ze hell was Ah thinking? What good is ze money Ah make if Ah am too dead to use it? And what happens when one of my contacts gets a better price from ze empire, zey’ll hang me…if Ah’m lucky.Ah can’ do zis, Ah just can’t. Ah should never have let zat stupid old general get me thinking, ‘Not all of us fight for ze same reasons,’ what ze hell does ze reason matter when we’re all dead.
Jules sits against the wall of the basement, rhythmically tapping his fingers on his head as he thinks himself deeper and deeper into a panic. As he continues thinking he eventually swings his head back, not thinking of the wall behind him and it connects with a solid and painful thud. The pain is enough to break his focus, and finally speak. He doesn’t face either of his companions as he speaks, but the message is clearly for both of them.
“We need to talk about zis.”
Caithas dons the rags the barkeep provided, after giving his thanks and insisting the gruff man keep the coins in exchange for his hospitality and sealed lips. His swords safely hidden, his ears carefully concealed, Caithas was confident that he could now moe about without fear of being recognized after the days events.
Hearing Jules’ voice and tone, the ranger turned to the nobleman, after glancing at Elana. Mouth curled up on a slight smile, the half-elf asks:
“Very well, sir Amour…what shall we discuss?”
Luckily the soldier left before anything could happen. Elana’s vision slowly returned to normal as the sound in her head became muted, though it did persist. She sheathed the dagger and retrieved her satchel, thanking the group for their help. “The streets are worse than I thought,” she wondered aloud. Aside from a bump on her head, she left the alley unharmed, and thankful for that.
After apologizing to Ulf for the inconvenience, she joined the others in the basement, taking a spot on the thin bed she had slept in on her first night in Andelia. Elana was rubbing the back of her head when Jules spoke.
“We need to talk about zis.”
“Very well, sir Amour…what shall we discuss?”
Elana turned her attention to the Linees man that was technically her husband, studying him for a moment. He seemed to have something serious on his mind, and considering the events, it probably had something to do with their involvement in the rebellion. She was keenly aware that any involvement on Jules’ part would make her a traitor by association to many. His decision would largely affect her life. She watched and waited for him to speak.
Jules could tell that Elana was listening even though she hadn’t spoken. With a deep breath Jules finally spoke up and started explaining.
“Elana, Ah have done something monumentally stupid, and it will bring you down with me if it goes badly. Now Ah need your help in order to keep ze situation from falling apart. As you can probably tell, both Caithas and Ah have decided to aid ze rebellion efforts Malcom is involved in. And as cruel as it is to do zis, we have dragged you into ze situation as well. You can leave me if you wish, and go into hiding, but Ah know you will never be safe if ze two of us are found to be involved with ze rebellion.
“And even after dragging you into zis, Ah have something more zat Ah must ask of you. Ah need you to contact your uncle, or at least support me as Ah contact him for you. Zis rebellion cannot survive without supplies, and your uncle is close enough zat we can use him to supply ze rebels, at least for a short while Ah predict. He may not make a deal with me, but if you present him with a proposal zat furthers his standing with ze Empire, while coming from someone he knows…we might be able to provide ze rebels a fighting chance without all of us being killed first.
“Of course zer is ze other option where we abandon ze rebellion, flee ze city, and go to live in ze woods, but Ah am not a big fan of spending my life in ze woods, especially when we have a chance to do something right now.”
Jules closed his eyes as he thought about what her reply might be, he still knew so little about this woman. He smothered a laugh as he realized that he probably knew more about Caithas than he did about his wife.
Elana had feared that Jules and Caithas had made up their minds to aid the rebellion. It left her with no choice but to assist, or live in the chaos of Andelia in poverty, which after today’s events seemed like a terrible idea. On the bright side, she would be aiding a good cause, and maybe she’ll even get to have an interesting story to tell one day. Freedom of choice just seemed like such a rare thing for her recently.
She leaned back with a sigh, contemplating for a few seconds. “I’ll help, then. But I don’t know what it is I can do. My uncle, Mannix, he doesn’t care for me at all, but he is ambitious. The only way you’re going to get him on your side is if you can reward him with more power than the Empire can.” Elana snorted at the idea. “If we did contact him, it’d be best if someone else did the talking; he won’t be glad to see me.” The ringing in her ears flared for a moment, almost as a reminder of what it is that Mannix despised in her most. Elana tried not to wince at the sudden pain; she didn’t want the others to know her dilemma. She could take care of herself.
Her eyes flicked towards Caithas. There was a lot that she wanted to talk to Jules about; his family, what he was trying to achieve, and what rebelling made of their relationship. But those questions were better saved for a private discussion.
Jules breathed a sigh of relief as he heard Elana’s acceptance of his decision.
Not zat Ah would know if she really wants to go along with ze idea or not.
“It is good zat you are willing to help. As for what you can do, first Ah need your opinion on ze options we have. Ze first plan is to have me write to your father and explain how betraying ze empire without being found out will benefit him without any negative repercussions. Of course zat option gives him ze opportunity to betray us. Ze other option is zat we cook up a convincing lie and hope to get him to back zat lie, possibly even believing zat he helps ze empire by helping us. Of course if he doesn’t believe us zen we lose his resources for good.
“As for ze rest of ze contacts Ah have, Ah doubt it will be difficult to convince my manager back in Yorvik to assist us, but getting my family on board will be another story. My father is ambitious and smart, and my sister takes after him, but if Ah can convince zem to turn zer ambitions against each other, zen Ah may be able to get supplies and money from zem, at least for a time.”
Jules looks towards Caithas for a moment. He’s been quiet, either out of respect for a conversation between nobles or simply because he has nothing to say. Jules thinks for a moment before wondering aloud.
“Caithas, do you have any contacts from your travels who might be willing to help?”
Malcom sheathed his sword as the soldier stood up before him, he let him speak and thought for a moment, “No, I’ll be fine. I can handle myself. Besides I want to do a bit of investigating.” He placed his hand on the boys shoulder, “What about you? Will you be alright? Hakon, I’m afraid you’re right, these times are going to get much harder on all of us, but what of you? What do you think?”
Caithas, Elana and Jules
[OOC: I’ll leave you discuss some more until you reach your decisions. At any point, you can go outside for whatever reason, for example to find some ink, paper and a feather pen, but nothing special is happening in the tavern… for now…]
Hakon looks at you while trying to straighten his broken nose. “No, sir, I will be alright, sir.” he says, in a very unconvincing tone. As you look at him in the eyes, he sees that he can be open with you: “Permission to speak freely, sir? To be honest, I didn’t sign up for this. When I joined the army a couple of months ago, I was only expecting some guard duty in exchange for three meals a day. I never expected that anyone would be trying to kill me…”
Realizing that this is not the kind of thing a soldier would say to a superior, Hakon reassumes the rigid military posture and concludes: “If that is all, sir, I need to return to my unit.” He waits to see whether you have anything to add before he leaves.
he could only feel sympathy for the poor boy, of course this isn’t what he wanted, although he doesn’t see the big picture he at least knows he doesn’t want a part of it, “I’m not on duty, you have no need of formalities. I have just one thing to add before you leave. They aren’t trying to kill you, they’re trying to kill the suit of armor, the title, the guard of the crown. As long as you wear it you are the image of what they hate. Think about it on your way back.” he looked around, he didn’t want to draw any more suspicion to himself from the people, best to hurry this up, “If you wish to talk, I’ll always lend an ear to someone in need. Now, off with you. They’ll be expecting you.”
I…No, I don’t have a noble contact, as you two do," Caithas admits with a pause.
He’s sitting on the cold, wet, dirty basement floor. Turning his head upwards at the nobleman and woman, he says:
“But I can speak dwarven. I had contacts and a friend across the sea. I could contact my friend Brunur Rooinnir, a smith from a hardworking dwarven clan, in fact. The truth is, the dwarves don’t give a damn who they’re smithing for or fighting for, if the price is right. If you have the coin, I don’t see any reaon why you can’t get supplied from the dwarves here either then. There’s clans up north; Brunur used to talk about them, despite his incredulity that they had crossed the seas at all. If you have time and coin, I’ll contact them for you as your emissary and propose an alliance.”
“With their weapons and their warriors at your side, you’d have your revolution.”
Dwarven weapons…hells, zis is starting to sound like it might actually work.
Jules noticeably perks up upon hearing this from Caithas. He had planned on being able to feed the rebels, get them simple supplies, and even a bit of coin, but the idea of actually being able to supply real weapons to them from a consistent source was something he had no idea how to accomplish before now. Coin from the smuggling could pay for the weapons and armor, and an agreement with Lord Manix or his sister might get them food.
“One day you’re going to need to tell me about how a half-elf came to live with ze dwarves. But for now Ah think zat you may have just given zis revolution a chance.”
Not wanting to let the motivation he feels slip away, Jules stands up, heading out of the basement, after telling his companions he needs to go get supplies for writing the letters.
[OOC: Don’t know if anything is going to happen while getting paper and ink, so I’ll wait a bit to post the actual content of the letters in case Jules somehow trips and dies before getting back to the tavern.]
“Funny, I never thought of it before…but by the gods, it could work. Fuckin’ Brunur…fucking dwarves…” the ranger mumbles as he smiles into his Waterskin. “Are you thirsty, my Lady? Are you ready to overthrow a colony of the Empire?”
The half-elf grins. “I am.”
What could the rebellion offer a great lord like Mannix? Honestly, Elana wasn’t sure what the best approach would be. Despite having known her uncle for eleven years, his inner workings remained an enigma. “I’ll think on it,” she promised Jules as he left for some supplies.
“I’m fine, really.” Elana waved away the waterskin Caithas offered. “Overthrow a colony of the Empire, huh?” A mirthless smile crept onto her face. “What would Lucius think if he saw me now?” she said to herself. She winced as she rearranged herself on the bed; the lump on her head was worse than she thought. “Do you have any family, Caithas?” she asked, a bit from curiosity and to stave off awkward silence.
Caithas’ eyes glaze over slightly, unfocused, staring at the western wall of the dingy basement that he shared with the radiant noblewoman. He used every ounce of willpower to avoid staring at Elana; he knew that if his eyes found her, they would be hard pressed to see anything else. Just her voice tickled down the back of his spine, even though her questioning brought dark clouds to his mind. Dark clouds and red blood…
“No, my Lady, I have no family. Not anymore. My father died many years ago, nearly a decade now; he raised me and taught me the ways of the woods and land. A good man that the world misses, as do I. My mother I never met…she bestowed my sharper features and that was all,” the half-elf says with a wistful smirk.
“I would have been a happy family man, in another life. But then…” Caithas breaks off, his voice cracking. He pauses, looking at his hands, opening and closing his fingers into fists.
His smile returning, the ranger finally turns to look the red-headed beauty full-on. “But then I wouldn’t be sitting here with you, my Lady, plotting the overthrow of the greatest Empire the human world has ever known. Life is full of knotted twists, it seems. So it goes.”
Caithas takes a long swallow from his waterskin, flicking his eyes at the door, mentally calculating Jules’ imminent return with the supplies. If there was ever a time to broach his suspicions, now appeared to be it. If Malcom and his rebels told true, that the ghost was their own conjuration but that the sleeping spell was not part of the plan, then…
“My Lady…pardon me if I presume too much…but during the battle, I couldn’t help but glance over at you, to check on your well-being…and I saw your lips moving…and at that moment, the guards swooned as if stricken by sudden sleep. Perhaps I’m just being a foolish woodsman, jumping at shadows…but did you have anything to do with that?”
Berating herself internally, Elana regretted getting involved in the fight, momentarily. Two years she kept her secret from everyone and now Caithas was on the cusp if discovery. Would it be so bad? Maybe it would help if I told them. They wouldn’t judge her like Mannix, most likely, but could she trust them? She had a good feeling from the people she’d met thus far, but it wouldn’t hurt to take more time to appraise their character.
“Please, Caithas,” she said with a touch of amusement. “I think it’d be obvious if I was a wizard, wouldn’t it? There had to have been another wizard amongst the rebels; it was quite chaotic after all.” She sincerely hoped that the half elf bought her half-lie.
“Indeed it was my Lady…how foolish of me.”
She hesitated, the ranger thought. There’s more to this one than beauty and a title…
Her secrets are her right, though, Caithas further considered. His eyes watched the door, waiting for Jules to return…or for Elana to tell him the whole truth. Curiouser and curiouser…
Jules had to wander a bit before finally finding a store that had the correct quality of paper and ink he would need for the letters. He returns to the basement of the tavern, all but ignoring the silence between Caithas and Elana. And sets about writing his first letter, the one to his sister.
She will be difficult to convince, Ah can’t overdo ze flattery or she will suspect something foul, and ah can’t undersell ze benefit to ze both of us or she won’t want to help. And Ah need to make sure she knows zat Ah support her over our father, zat ego boost just might be enough to push her into supplying ze “city guards.”
I can’t tell you how much I have missed you since my departure from Lineen. I am certain that you are busy doing what you do best, breaking hearts and making our family look decent again. I know we didn’t part on the best of terms, especially after that incident with Isabelle and Bernard, but I think it is time we put those childish fights in the past and finally make up.
I’m sure our father has told you that I am the husband of Lady Elana Savain, the niece of the current ruler, Lord Manix. Somehow I have been able to dodge Lineen’s grasp for now, though as I write this it is only the first day of our marriage.
I’m taking the time out of this day of bliss in order to give you a show of good faith. If you haven’t heard it yet, I’m sure you soon will; today there was a small skirmish between city guards and a rebel faction in the city. My bride and I were unharmed in the fighting, but after the combat was done I met with the captain of the guards. We spoke and he informed me that, although they didn’t want to frighten anyone, the rebels had burned a large amount of their winter food stores and destroyed much of the guards’ cold weather supplies. The people of this city will not survive the winter should no help arrive, and although the city guard is too poor to pay for the supplies, I still see an opportunity for the both of us.
I have been able to make a secret agreement with the captain of the guards. In exchange for food and supplies he will inform the empire of our monumental contribution after the rebellion has been put down. My only issue is the source of this food. If the fertile land of Lineen were to provide food to these people, through my supervision during the harsh winter you would surely rise in the eyes of the empire. I know that you are smart enough to realize that there are currencies more valuable than simple gold. It’s like our father is so fond of saying, ‘A rich man in your debt is the most powerful tool you have.’ And the empire is very, very rich. If you were to save their largest colony from starvation and anarchy, well, I have no doubt that their debt would be very great indeed.
Our father will certainly seize this opportunity to further his interests over here. But I am not very fond of being that man’s toy, and given a choice between serving his rise in power or yours, I think it is clear who I would choose. If you send me the food and supplies I will be a hero to this city, and when they find out the supplies came on your orders, and not that of our father, you will become a hero to the entire empire.
Jules Aime Amour
With that letter finished he hands it to Elana, quickly asking her to read over it to make sure it sounds appropriate. The next letter to Lord Savain, the blatant subservience would full his ego while making Jules look weak and in need of a more powerful lord’s guidance and aid. Greed was the motivator he needed to earn the support of Elana’s uncle.
For the Eyes of Lord Manix Savain, Rightful Lord of Grey Hold, and Master of the Southern Lands:
It is with great pride that I write to my Lord Savain as the heir to Lineen, Jules Aime Amour, as well as the husband of the esteemed Lady Elana Savain. I write to you to inform you of the timely arrival and wedding of your niece and myself, and to offer my deepest thanks that you would judge my family worthy of being wed to yours.
However, I must also express that my heart has been saddened by the day’s events. As you may have already heard, on the day of our wedding there was a bloody conflict between the Adelia guard and a group of anarchist citizens seeking to destabilize the empire’s hold on this city. During the chaos they freed a convicted war criminal, but what many do not know is that they also destroyed many of the guards’ weapons, armor, and supplies.
As you know, though I am of noble birth, I have spent my time in Svorinn acting as a merchant and trader on the behalf of my father’s kingdom. As such I chosen to seize this opportunity to serve the empire while also furthering the influence of our two families in this city. Though the guard cannot afford food or supplies at the moment due to their focus on the rebellion, they would certainly be indebted to anyone who provided them with assistance in their time of need. With your backing I can provide that assistance.
I will be able to keep my new city alive and at peace, and you will one day be able to call in your debt. I have no doubt that the power of the Savain family will grow quickly in the coming years, but it is all dependant on you seizing this chance while we still have it open to us.
Jules Aime Amour
With that done he handed it again to Elana, this time asking her if there was anything she felt she would need to add or include to win his support. Time for the last two letters. Getting Duncan to back the rebellion would only take the mention of coin and he would come running.
I can’t tell you much right now, but I need your help with a business plan that will end up making us richer than we ever dreamed. I have an investment that needs supplies and coin that we can provide. I know how you feel about “investments” but believe me when I say that if it pans out you will be able to buy your own city with all the gold you’ll be making. That’s why I need you to get in contact with Darkcrow and have him set up meetings with some of his contacts down here. It’ll be easy enough to get new shipments sent to Andelia, but I need to know who I can trust with our merchandise. This is our big chance Duncan, but I need your helping getting it started.
P.S. I have another sealed letter attached to this one. Don’t open it, just head out to the forest, about a four hours walk straight in, and nail the letter to a tree. I know it sounds mad, but it might be the difference between living like kings and dying like dogs.
P.P.S. Tell Grace I’m doing alright, and make sure she’s doing well.
The last letter he dreaded writing more than any of the others. She would see through any flattery or deception, and promises of gold would mean nothing to her, but with their support the magical power in the rebellion would be unmatched by any normal military unit.
Bring this letter to Dunia the Fifth, the sisters need to know this.
Dunia, I wish I could be talking to you face to face, but I am currently living in Andelia to the south. I know that you don’t want to have anything to do with me, but this could change how the sisters are seen in Svorinn forever.
I can’t make any promises, but there is a revolution brewing in Andelia. A revolution that, with your help, could change everything for the sisters. Please consider what this could mean for your followers before you ignore my message.
I said I can’t make any promises, but revolutions have always been catalysts for change, and with your help I feel this one can bring the change you want to this land.
The last message done, Jules finally feels his hand relax as he waits for Elana’s opinion on the letters.
[OOC: When I finally revise them with Elana’s advise I’m going to try and send them off making bluff/diplomacy checks for Claudie and Lord Mannix (10), and diplomacy checks for Duncan and Dunia (if she manages to get the letter) at a +10. Also sorry for the huge post, but the letters took up a lot of space.
EDIT: Assume all of this happens after the events with the merchant.]
You leave the tavern briefly, to look for some empty scrolls and ink. It is early in the evening. There is still a lot of pandemonium outside. With the military now gone, many citizens have taken up to the streets, holding clubs and torches. Unrestricted by law, many are looting the small stores that are common in upper Andelia. Others have remembered old enmities that were never forgotten; they are keen on reigniting the rivalry. Drunken men and women are a common sight in the streets, fighting, singing, shouting, celebrating or lamenting.
You manage to avoid being noticed, hiding in your over-sized cloak and moving swiftly through the alleys. Your search seems futile at first, for it is unlikely that you will find a general supplies shop under these circumstances, but eventually you spot a small store selling scrolls. The store is too insignificant and too obscure to attract the peasants’ attention, but it is closed. You spend at least five minutes knocking on the door and shouting, before a frightened, lean old man steps out of the door. He asks what you require of him; surprized that someone would be looking for paper and a pen at this hour, he quickly returns with the items. He quickly closes the door after you step out, before you have time to pay him.
You are about to start walking back towards the tavern, before a cloaked figure cuts your way. The man inquires in a conspiratorial tone: “Excuse me sir… would you be interested in certain exotic goods? I have them all: dreamseeds, aether, opium, you name it! I’ll even make you an offer you can’t refuse.” The man does not seem threatening: although cloaked, he is alone and unarmed.
The young soldier considers your words. He thanks you before turning towards the Knight’s bridge and walking away.
You head towards the agora, where many plebians have gathered. You manage to find a merchant willing to sell you a dagger. The man has a crate full of knives and seems to be making a fortune out of selling them.
[OOC: No need to subtract any gold.]
After buying the dagger, your attention shifts to the crowd that has amassed in the square. Several self-proclaimed prophets, orators and revolutionaries are standing on pedastels; the commonfolk are gathered below them, paying attention to their words, discussing, applauding or booing the speakers. You can hear only some sentences from some speakers:
“…’Tis as the old prophesy of the Svodun foretold: When the bleeding dead will save a dead man walking, then the wrath of nature will descend upon the ursurpers. Run while you can, Imperials, for no-one will be spared in the coming storm…”
“…Comrades, for how long will we be oppressed under the tyranical boot of Demeria? Now is the time to strike against the loyalist scum. Take up arms, clubs, torches and pitchforks: let us march against the senate tonight and burn it to the ground…”
“…can you not see that this is madness? What chance do we stand against the legions? I say we look for Markus and the rebels who helped him escape this morning. With their actions, they have condemned us all. Only by arresting them and returning them for judgement to the Master Rector, do we stand a chance of survival…”
You walk around, listening to more fragmented speeches and paying attention to the people’s reactions.
Elana and Caithas
Ulf interrupts your discussion: he walks down the stairs towards the basement, carrying three plates with warm meat and potatoes. He offers the dishes to you. As you start eating, he inquires:
“Listen, lady Savain. I would not betray any friend of Bormund’s, much less a noblewoman of your stature, but why are you here? Upper Andelia is hardly the place for nobles to be right now. Are you and your husband in some kind of trouble? I cannot help you if I do not know the problem.”
As he speaks, Ulf’s dog, a grey fox terrier, walks down the stairs towards the cellar. The dog seems extremely interested in both of you. He moves closer to Caithas, sniffing curiously at his boots and occasionally trying to get to his dinner.
Though Ulf was some one she hardly knew, Elana trusted him on Bormund’s word alone. He would need to know why they were there; it wouldn’t be right to ask for shelter when they were rebels, without him knowing. Setting down her fork, Elana turned her composed features to Ulf.
“We’re here,” she began slowly, unsure of how to say it. “Because Jules – my husband – Caithas, and I have decided to support the rebellion. We don’t have many options left to us for safe shelter. I’m sorry, I should have told you earlier, but everything’s happened so suddenly. If you don’t feel comfortable sheltering us, I understand. It was never our intent to put you at risk.”
Jules is stopped by the cloaked figure’s offer. He had never been shy about his, less acceptable, idiosyncrasies, and he had tried everything the man mentioned at least once in his life. Usually just to augment his more addictive habit, women. When he had first arrived in Svorinn he found that the market for both drugs and women was seriously lacking. The most he had even been able to convince Grace to do was drink, and the shipments of that nature that Duncan ran for them were few and far between.
Ah doubt zat Elana would be interested in zis sort of thing, but with ze way things are going Ah may need zat calm soon enough. If fact, now zat Ah think about it, Ah am sure zat people in ze city will be looking for zat sweet emptiness when zis rebellion gets into full swing. Ah will need to think about zis. Ah should find zis man’s source, see if he is willing to do business with me.
With his mind made up Jules turns to look at the cloaked man and speaks.
“Selling exotic substances in ze middle of zis chaos, you are a braver man zan Ah. But Ah am not some fool who will be taken in by a charlatan’s scam. Show me ze merchandise before Ah decide.”
Caithas turns to Elana and Ulf, as he’s giving the grey canine a good scratch behind the ears.
“I think he likes me,” the ranger grins at the two. As if an afterthought, Caithas says, “The Lady is right, sir; no harm was meant here. But if you’ve no love for the Empire, helping us now could be quite lucrative soon, when the rebels’ supply lines are secured. Just a thought…,” the half-elf trails off, vigorously playing with the dog.
(OOC: Handle Animal +5)
Later, after Jules had finished his four letters, those being carefully edited by Elana before being scattered to the four winds, the ranger spoke up from the basement corner.
“Jules, if you’re serious about securing dwarven allies, The Iron Domes are our only option, I believe. Theirs is the only settlement Brunur or the others ever mentioned across the sea. If they have half the strength of The Crags, and if your letters do what you hope for, there’s a slight chance we won’t all be dead within a month.” The ranger smiles grimly at what is most certainly not a joke.
“May I?” the ranger inquires, pointing at the pen and parchment.
In dwarven, Caithas composes the following missive:
“To the Lords and the Clans of the Impenetrable Iron Domes:
“I pray this letter finds the Clans hearty, healthy and strong. I bid you greetings from across the sea from the powerful Rooinnir clan of The Crags and their kinsmen, your ancient brothers. I write you today not only to bear the good will and faith of your forebears across the accursed ocean, but also because business calls. And when business calls, the dwarves answer, as the saying goes.
“A war is brewing in the world of men, and Empire shall cross sword with rebels before many more suns have risen and set. The Empire has long demanded tribute, taxes and fealty from the dwarves, despite knowing nothing of your ways and your customs. Their claws stretch across the waves, but there is movement afoot for release from their grasp. Where will your warriors and armorers side?
“The natives and rebels of Svorinn need weapons, good dwarven steel and armor to stunt the blows of the Empire’s blades. Only dwarven-made can give the freedom fighters here the chance they need. Good coin will be provided of course; noble houses have aligned with the rebels’ cause, and with their allegiance comes their money.
“Beyond weapons and armor, I entreat you and yours to fight side by side with these rebels. Not only will a fortune be in your future with victory, but so too will freedom and autonomy. No more will the Crown exact its tolls and taxes on your proud people. Your brothers across the sea are safe in The Crags; here, you shall not only be safe, but will taste freedom for the first time in centuries. Your future’s course will be your own to chart.
“Coins you shall have for weapons and armor; freedom and sovereignty you shall have if you join this brewing war. Whatever your choice, the peoples of the South respect your decision. We shall await your response.
“Honorably and sincerely,
“Emissary of the Rebels,
“Friend of the Dwarves,
“Warrior, blood-kin, hammer-graced
(OOC: Diplomacy check +1)
Upon finishing the entreaty, the ranger translates it for the Lord and Lady, carefully reading every word, though the final signature’s titles lost their meaning in translation (“hammer-graced” just doesn’t make sense in the Common tongue, it seems).
“What say you? Shall we add it to the pile? A courier ought to be able to get to the Domes rather quickly if we send it with haste, along with the other letters. Of course, the choice is yours, my Lords…I’m just a ranger, after all.”
[OOC: In response to Caithas’ letter.]
Jules listens to the translation, simple in the common tongue, but certainly much more powerful in the dwarven language. He smiles at the simplicity of the message. Caithas may not be a diplomat but he has a knack for manipulation, even if it is only in his unprecedented honesty.
“It’s good. With Elana’s approval Ah think we should send zem out. Ze sooner we find out who are allies are ze better. Also, Ah have been thinking zat we need a better name zan just ‘Ze Rebels.’ All ze best rebellions had names to go with ze rebels, Ze Questioners, Ze Marked Men, Ze Dutiful Legion, Ze Houndsmen. We need something catchy zat ze people can rally behind.”
“Aye, it’s true. My father used to regale me with tales of the men you speak of. A group becomes a name, a name becomes a symbol and a symbol becomes a movement.”
The ranger paused a beat before saying, “We need a name that will gain the good will of more than just those who already support the rebels. We need to cast our net wider…much wider, if we are to contend against the Crown. Perhaps ’Svorinn’s Saviors’?”
Jules thinks on the name for a while before giving his opinion.
“Zis is going to be a bloody rebellion, on both sides. We can’t defeat ze empire’s forces without being ready to take every advantage, no matter how undesirable ze source. But with a name like zat, a unifying and selfless name, ze people can unite under zat name. Zey can find security in knowing zat everything is for ze good of Svorinn, and it shows zat we are in zis for more zan just Andelia. Ah like it, you should ask Malcom about it ze next time we see him.”
Malcom stops at the last group and throws up his hood before walking in to the back of the group and looking up at the speaker, “Do you really think it is them that have condemned you?” he looked around for a quick second then back up to the speaker, “The guards killed many innocents in that fight, while the rebels barely killed any of the guards. Besides today’s events don’t you believe the taxes have already condemned us to a slow death by poverty? They were already killing and beating us before today.”
Ulf bursts out in laughter: “That’s a good one, my lady! You, one of the rebels? I am sure that they would embrace the likes of you!” He pauses, paying close attention to your reaction, but as your expression remains as serious as before, he adds: “By the gods, you ARE serious! Why would you align yourself with the rabble? If they knew who you were, they would be much less inclined to be as generous to you as you are to them… You are a much better person than they are, my lady.” His expression shifts to one of respect and admiration: “I never liked the Imperials myself. My lady, if there is anything I can do to help, just say the word. A lot of fiery-hearted folks frequent my tavern, but if you are looking for some kind of unifying ideological background, then I am afraid that you are in the wrong place. Perhaps you might still get the chance of meeting some of them…”
After replying to Elana, Ulf turns to Caithas: “Bah, you take me for one that is interested in profit? If I were twenty years younger, I would heartily jump in to join your righteous cause. Alas, the years have turned me into a cynical man. I doubt that anything good can come out of anarchy… but you and your friends seem like a group with good intentions… You know what they say about good intentions: that the road to hell is paved with them. Nevertheless, what they say about cynics is equally true: that beneath a cynic, there lays an idealist. I will help you in your cause. Just make sure you don’t screw me over.”
The grey hound seems to enjoy that you are paying attention to it; he rolls on his back and moves his legs in a playful fashion.
[OOC: You can instruct the dog to perform a trick that it knows.]
The cloaked figure looks at you sympathetically: “Of course, young master.” With these words, he puts his cloak aside and opens his trench coat. Several small bottles can be seen protruding from the garment’s inner pockets. The rogue continues: “Aether for just fifteen sovereigns. Just a small whiff will carry you to the realms of the gods themselves. Opium for twenty sovereigns only. A dose will make you powerful enough to take on the full might of the legions. Dream-seed for just twenty-five: your gateway to out-worldly realms, if you think that this world is not for you.” Several other small containers can be seen sticking out of his pockets: it seems that the man has or could find all kinds of illegal substances, for the right fee.
Upon hearing you address him, the speaker seems slightly perplexed. He looks at you with a confused expression, before replying: “This is not about justice, sir. It never has been. This is about being pragmatic. Do you really think that anyone is powerful enough to stand up against the legions? Life under the Imperials might be hard, but it is much more preferable to chaos. At least the empire ensures that murder and theft are punished…” He looks at you, eagerly waiting your response. The people also shift their attention towards you.
“Being pragmatic is only for people who have things to lose. I’m not sure any one man, save for the Gods, could stand against the legions. A nation of people who stands to gain… well, everything, would have the right spirit and resolve to stand up. Chaos? You’re worried about Chaos? There’s riots in the street, the civil unrest is out of control. You wish to seek out a group who has taken on the Imperial Soldiers and won, doing what the long suppressed people wish to do, in exchange for what might be a month of light relief? The unrest will remain as long as the Empire continues to treat us poorly, and they will continue to do so until they can no longer enforce their own laws in our country. Would you doom your children to endure the suffering? Would you rather cower in fear before the Empire and let them rob you and call it law? Nay, that’s non-sense. No man should be subjected to such cruelty. You believe that without the Empire we will have chaos? Why can we not have our own guards, and our own leadership? Could we not punish the wicked?” Malcom’s eyes dart around and he sees all eyes on him. He hopes to Matthias that his cloak will protect his identity, but decides that the people must be unified. “I cannot say that the life without the Empire will be much easier at first, there will be war… but once our nation is united and our own again we will have a golden age of growth without the hand of the Empire upon us. It might take years to build, but years of hard work is better than a millennial of servitude.”
[[Perception/Sense motive of the crowd; if they are swaying to or from his point]]
“No indeed, sir…no screwing. And thank you.” Caithas smiles at the gruff tavernkeep. By the gods, he sounds like home, the half-elf thinks.
“Wonderful animal here too, truly. Good dog. Sit. Up now! What a fine beast,” Caithas rambles on, grinning widely at the canine, lost in a room with two people in it, one of them who happened to be a ravishingly, achingly beautiful woman, both discussing a massive rebellion.
And the ranger just kept on grinning at that dog.
Somewhere, Cyan Thalornn was grinning back.
[OOC: Regarding the drug dealer.]
Jules eyes the merchandise carefully, checking to make sure it’s legitimate. Afterwards he draws twenty sovereigns from his purse, and tosses them around in his hand before putting them back.
“No sir, Ah don’t think Ah will be buying anything today. But Ah am interested in doing a business of a different sort. Get in contact with whoever it is zat supplies your product, and tell zem zat Ah have a business proposition for zem. Tell zem to meet me here, tomorrow, if zey are interested in becoming ze first to offer zer product without fear of persecution by ze empire.”
With that Jules hands the man three gold pieces, telling him that it will serve as good faith money, and an investment on this proposition. With that Jules heads back into the tavern basement to get to writing the letters.
[OOC: Also I’d like to make an appraisal (3) to see if the goods are legitimate. If it turns out they aren’t, then ignore everything Jules says about the business proposal.]
Prior to your speech, the crowd was ambivalent about the orator. While a group of about forty men and women were carefully listening to him, no-one expressed any feelings, one way or the other, about the orator’s talk, apart from you. As you address the speaker, he remains quiet, either out of fear or out of respect. He does not fail to notice the weapons that you bear, which are too large for you to conceal under your cloak. It is clear that your presence is making him very uncomfortable.
The crowd listens to your speech with equal, if not greater interest than the orator’s talk. No-one interrupts you, but there are many whispers and murmured discussions coming from all directions. You cannot make out what is being said, but it is clear that you have made quite an impression. As the crowd slowly disperses, moving towards the rest of the speakers, several men from the crowd approach you, asking you whom it is that you represent and how come you carry weapons that were clearly made for professional soldiers. You understand that, although they are sympathetic to your cause, they realize that they cannot fight without proper equipment.
Eventually, and after listening to your replies, they also leave you, but you are not entirely alone. A tall figure, who was previously standing at a distance, has been keenly observing you all along. As you move towards him, he instructs you in a commanding tone: “Take no step further, please. That was an inspired speech. I am intrigued; in fact, I might be able to help you. If you want to learn more, come here tomorrow at nightfall. You will recognize me and my associates from our crimson cloaks.” With those words, he runs away towards the narrow streets leading to the slums, quickly disappearing into the darkness.
(At the streets)
The merchant allows you to examine the goods, and even lets you sample a small dose of aether. You become dizzy immediately after inhaling the vapors, but the euphoric feeling quickly subsides, as you return to your senses. This confirms your suspicions: the goods seem legit, but you think that their price should normally be much higher than what the man is asking. The black market merchant seems truthful, but you get the impression that he is really desperate to sell you some drugs.
As you turn down his offer, an expression of disappointment appears on the rogue’s face. This expression changes into frustration, as you explain your proposal. The man barks back at you: “Just who do you think you are? Are you trying to steal my job?” Nevertheless, when you offer him the money, he eagerly takes the coins, reluctantly agreeing to inform his masters. He nods in agreement, when the meeting place and the time are mentioned.
(In the tavern)
You return to the tavern, where you start writing the letters immediately. By the time you’re done, your meal is already cold, but it is still edible. You have dinner, while discussing with Elana and Caithas for the last time for today, before heading off to bed.
The dog obeys you eagerly, seemingly taking a liking to you. Ulf shouts: “Killer! Leave the man to enjoy his meal.” Upon hearing his master mention his name, the dog lowers his ears and runs up the stairs, but not before giving you a happy bark and a waggle of his tail.
[OOC: If you have something to discuss for the day, please post it hear. I will move to the next day in a new thread (chapter 1).]
With little else to do, and the crowd almost entirely gone, Malcom set off for the Drunken Townsman to retrieve his glaive from its hiding place. He unties the blood soaked cloth from around the spear and wraps it around both of his hands. With the glaive between them Malcom bows his head in a silent prayer to the men he killed earlier that day. He can hear the ‘voice’ of his glaive and knows its time to continue on. He wraps the cloth around his arm like an armband before re-covering himself with his cloak. His glaive was large and would easily be spot-able… but without the tell-tale cloth, no one could point the finger at him. Glaives might be a rarer weapon, but there’s a decent amount in the stores around here, and a few that were close enough looking. With a quick stop by his house to ensure everything went well, he headed for the broken tooth, looking for his new companions. He arrives at the place where Elana had said she was going… perhaps the others had made it here too? He reached for the door and tried to open it.
[[If its locked he’ll knock and say that there’s a friend staying here.]]
“Who’s that hollering up there?”
The half-elf looks to Elana first, then Jules. With the letters written and ready to be sent, the three had begun to relax, as much as one could relax in their current sitting room/filthy basement.
“The corporal? Lovely. Let’s see how this revolution’s leader looks as he’s being told that you can supply the coin, the dwarves should supply the weapons and armor, and your families can provide food. By the hells, it could work you know.”
Caithas smiles at the two nobles as the night overtakes the tavern. “Happy wedding day, my Lord and Lady. Your gift is A Revolution.”