Session 7: Plot, Plague and Preperation, July 3rd

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Session 7: Plot, Plague and Preperation, July 3rd

Post by Nick_Nork on Sun Jul 31, 2016 12:56 am

The day opens with Thorgrim heading to the keep’s library seeking any information that may be of use in the coming days trials, be that details of the Cesdradin Empire, sieges as a whole, or ideally retellings of how the Empire went to war and besieged keeps. The libraries keeper seemed reluctant to assist as he had duties of his own to attend to, presuming that Thorgrim required his personal aid; the keeper was able to spare a boy to aid the dwarf in his research, which incidentally is exactly what Thorgrim was trying to ask for. They begin their research and despite only intending to spend a short time Thorgrim manages to spend about four hours reading.

Meanwhile in the hospice Adrysse is once again attempting to aid the poor unfortunate souls therein and is unfortunately rather observant of her surroundings. The moans, wails and cries of anguish would be bad enough on their own, let alone coupled with the sickly stench of decay and infection, but the scene before her eyes exceeds her other senses combined. Poor wretched souls heave the meagre contents of their stomachs into buckets, and look on in horror as unidentifiable chunks of their insides float next to newly liberated teeth. Those bordering on frantic seek to wipe their matted hair from their brows only to wipe the very hair from their scalps, all the while risking dislodging their very skin. Adrysse did her best to record and learn from the events unfolding in front of her but was quickly utilised in aid, at least as much these people could be helped.

Thorgrim, slowly assembling a book fort to rival the walls of North Watch itself, finally made progress. The Siege of Babar seemed a relevant point in the manuscripts he is perusing and as such he sends the boy for information on the siege.

Slinking through the rear of the keep, at least as much as a muscle bound brute can slink, in search of the proverbial Cowards Reach was Merrick. At that time he had been noticed, but had been careful enough to not seem outright suspicious, or no more so than normal; however he had gained the attention of a certain individual that could only be described as shifty. Mr Shifty seems to have a distinct idea of what Merrick might be seeking and offers a trade; he will tell Merrick where to find the Reach in exchange for a crate of cluster bombs. Mr Shifty proclaims that it is for his and his friends protection and can’t see why that should be a problem, Merrick seems to cautiously relent, not entirely convinced of the trade but not seeing any reason to not at least investigate. Arriving at the Silver Wardens impromptu alchemy labs Merrick claims to have been sent by the quartermaster and manages to secure a position moving crates, the better to identify his target.

In the library the boy has true to his word secured a great deal of reading material, and Thorgrim soon realises that he may have misinterpreted the request and brought him information of not just the Siege of Babar but sieges in general. This does help to a degree, especially seeing as Thorgrim has been able to secure a map of North Watch. But the day grows late and Thorgrim has things to do, so he heads off to the hospice to find Adrysse. Upon his arrival his senses are assaulted by the same cacophony of Kronenbergian horror, and amongst the madness is Adrysse trying in vain to restrain a man as his innards are drained of something most foul. Attempts to speak to the priestess are interrupted by the matron who directs Thorgrim to hold the man’s arms. The patients frail form belie his strength as in thrashing against Thorgrims grip his flesh manages to slough off of his arms, blessedly with the procedure complete the man loses grip of consciousness. Querying Adrysse on the effectiveness of her work here Thorgrim is concerned as Adrysse feels that their efforts have done little good.

Upon the walls Torvus had spent a good deal of time drilling the archers into a workable unit, teaching them the basics and getting them into a routine of training. Deciding to wander off and find some food he was waylaid by a siege weapon team standing uncertainly around a ballista, they had seen him training the archers and thought maybe he could help. Despite feeling unsure of how these things were meant to be used Torvus figured it was just a massive crossbow so it couldn’t be that hard to use, the remainder of his day was spent figuring out the contraption before him and laughing at the ridiculousness of siege war by trial and error.

Having ingratiated himself with the other workers by aiding them Merrick decided to take his chances when the opportunity came to get his hands on a crate of cluster orbs. Unfortunately he was much more adept at talking his way in than sneaking out and is noticed leaving and questioned. He was unable to bluff his way out but didn’t blow his chances entirely; the worker in question simply won’t let a crate wander off without an order from the quartermaster, so off Merrick goes to get one. Telling the quartermaster that he needs a work order to transfer some goods he is able to get the order quite easily; but for it to be valid he requires two signatures, one from a silver warden and one from and agent of Sire Bellamy, which he is. Unsure of his next action he heads back towards the Siege Works but on the way hears that Eadwyne is at the Fat Lady.

Massaging tender muscles and declaring “That’s why I use a bow” and “At least on the day we won’t have to retrieve them” Torvus and the siege weapon crew head towards the Fat Lady, complaining of the weight of ballista bolts and laughing as they go.

Feeling like her efforts have been in vain the priestess Adrysse laments the situation of the afflicted, her and Thorgrim head towards the Fat Lady. On their way they encounter Eadwyne who has spent the day feeling somewhat belittled by Forza; Eadwyne’s reaction to the pairs stench is indicative of their ability to smell themselves. At this moment the weary but revelrous band led by Torvus wandered by and Torvus detached with promises to head to the pub, he was apparently unperturbed by their stench. Thorgrim organised with the member of his warband to meet later at the Fat Lady, after he scrubbed.

Thorgrim and Adrysse made their way to the armourer in order to have someone clean and boil their armour. Trying to negotiate for a loan set of armour in order to not be unarmoured in a place such as this and possibly to press his endurance in training; Thorgrim is unfortunately unsuccessful but manages to acquire a gambeson or two to ward off the cold. Throughout this process Thorgrim talks to Adrysse about the possibility of annexing the plague victims in the days to come, if they cannot be saved.

Later at the bar Torvus has decided that at this moment the best way to aid the cause is to keep spirits high and show the troops that there is nothing to worry about; he has a steady stream of full mugs of ale and there is talk of trick shots, so Torvus quietly asks the barkeep to water down his drinks which she already was. From there some of the siege crew begin throwing the dart board into the air, mostly because the barkeep didn’t want her posts peppered with arrows, and Torvus proceeds to fire shots into the airborne board between drinks. Thorgrim and Adrysse wander into the uncommonly revelrous scene given the tasks of the days to come, and Thorgrim buys the bar a round and demands, in a friendly manner, that someone tell a story of something that went well today. The siege crew tell a tale of one of their shots splitting another of their previous shots, which gets a cheer and everyone drinks; from there the stories continue in hilarity and grow in preposterousness and more drink is had.

Having had probably the worst day of the war band, Adrysse asks the barkeep for something strong and while managing not to put on her backside as a result, still ends up hugging Eadwyne, who is undoubtedly thankful for her bathing. Thorgrim and the rest of the war band end up at a table together, having provoked a riotous good time within the bar; it was at this moment that Merrick broached the subject of getting the work order signed. This somewhat confuses Thorgrim as Merrick states that he needs a signature of an agent of Sir Bellamy, of which he is but rightfully didn’t want to put his name to. As Merrick was about to continue he was interrupted by the arrival of a Great Dane and a Sinti wielding an accordion, which causes the party to surge; as it turned out this was all it took for Adrysse to begin dancing and in turn be shadowed by the dog, thus the pair danced. Pressing further Merrick continues to talk about getting the order signed and Thorgrim suggests that maybe he should just sign it himself, which in the end he does.

Getting somewhat serious Thorgrim tells Torvus that he wants to send him out of the Cowards Reach along with Cassandra to scout the surrounding area. Torvus is happy to do this as having an escape route is a good idea and frankly a practical choice, but considering the possibility of meeting more undead he wants to take Merrick with him to guard the far end of the reach; this decision may or may not be born purely out of practical reasons. Thorgrim doesn’t seem to think that bringing the ruffian is a good idea but doesn’t outright objet, he instead moves onto complaints of not being able to find the information he was seeking on the empire; hearing this Merrick produces a large ornate tome from his bag which turns out to be the exact book that Thorgrim had been looking for. Inquiring where such a book could have been procured Merrick states that he borrowed it from Billy; all parties involved silently agree that whatever transgressions may have been made to acquire such a volume would be forgiven due to its usefulness. Thorgrim states that for all the mercenaries questionable decisions, this moment was surely one of the times he was glad; inevitably Merrick was assured that he would be put forward as a scout.

Having accomplished some of his goals Merrick leaves the pub, being none too fond of Sinti at the best of times, and promptly encounters Mr Shifty and his shady friends. They inquire if he had acquired the bombs yet to which he tells them he is still working on the paperwork; they of course ask why he didn’t just take the bombs? Of course this leads to a simple plan for them to just steal the armaments; the shady friends wander off and start flipping tables leading the guards on a merry chase. Merrick and Mr Shifty sneak in and grab a pair of crates and upon leaving part ways and seek to hide their crates on their own; Merrick manages to be seen by just about everyone carrying a crate bearing the mark of the Silver Wardens but walks with such purpose and confidence that no one stops him. He finds quite a good place to hide his crate.

Back in the bar Thorgrim and Eadwyne talk about Eadwynes day, his training, and the expected effectiveness of the siege weaponry and their repairs; Thorgrim also asks for some bombs to blow up the siege towers. Chatting further leads Eadwyne to get a few ideas regarding the siege works and Thorgrim inquires about an alchemical substance that would burn in snow. Meanwhile on the dance floor, if it could be called that, Adrysse dances with the dog before the ebb and flow of the celebration leads her, the dog and the Sinti outside. Eadwyne attempts to follow them fearing the Sinti’s influence on the priestess but is swarmed by the bar patrons; they feed a truly surprising amount of alcohol, much of which he tries to spill and filter down his beard, but inevitably much is still drunk. The celebrations most certainly do not abate at the arrival of Sister Rhea.

Upon the roof of the bar Adrysse and the Sinti have managed to coax the Great Dane up the ladder and are mockingly role playing military structure and rank along with the dog. They spend some time talking of the Sinti names for various constellations.

The barkeep takes pity upon Eadwyne and gives him water instead of alcohol which he sees as a small but much needed reprieve. One patron decides that a game of “Find the water” is in order and declares that Brother Eadwyne shall play, Eadwyne realising that he cannot easily disengage from this decides that keeping an eye on Adrysse may mean roping her into it further, thus he declares his opponent as the Sinti. Having been coaxed from the roof, dog and priestess in tow the Sinti calls for teams and nominates Adrysse as her partner. What follows is best summarised as a hundred steins of possibly water, possibly not, and Adrysse’s drunken promises that she can mend Eadwynes knee in the morning. Come morning the four of them, Eadwyne, Adrysse, Sinti and Dog wake up in a barn nearby; Eadwynes mask being worn by the dog, and Adrysse wearing the Sinti’s scarf around her head, instead of her mask. The four of them dreadfully hung over, dog included.

Returning to the night before Thorgrim and Torvus go to see Sir Bellamy in order to investigate the cowards reach. Bellamy is reluctant to pass along information that could be critical to the empire to a dwarf, an elf, and a brigand, but eventually if reluctantly relents. Meanwhile Merrick runs into Mr Shifty and his shady friends who promptly show him the door to the reach, an apparent ale storeroom under constant guard. Merrick seems to find their demeanour somewhat suspicious, even considering the circumstances of their meeting but decides to take a chance and shows them his tattoo, the mark of the faceless, which they like rather disconcertingly.

Thorgrim and Torvus head out to find Merrick and get the scouting underway but Merrick progresses from simply being reluctant to go, to outright being against it, being suspicious of the warden’s presence here, and declaring the whole ordeal a bad idea. At least Sir Bellamy won’t have to worry about Merrick knowing about the Cowards Reach. Thorgrim and Torvus head off to find Cassandra the scout and the rest of the soldiers and scouts that will be accompanying them. They meet with two soldiers Alfonse and Petra, the pair seeming sensible and frankly chipper respectively; and the scouts Atter and Jaq, themselves sensible and scornful in turn. The remaining soldiers fail to make an impression as Torvus is told by Cass that they will be guarding the groups return at the far end of the reach. The group heads towards the fake warehouse to begin their trek down the reach and parts ways with Thorgrim, the humans of the group light torches for the journey leaving Torvus to walk ahead slightly for what turns out to be quite a long walk.

At the far end of the reach the group checks the gate room and looks out a well concealed window to observe the area before opening the door. Although the term ‘door’ hardly does the crafted slab of stone justice, it appears well crafted from within but unhewn from without and despite little knowledge of the topic even Torvus could appreciate the engineering and had to wonder if the Holland Dwarves were involved.

Exiting the reach the group took stock of their situation and the surroundings, all was clear and uneventful but for a slight glow a few kilometres away. Those local to the region identified it as White Orchard but felt that the glow was a little bright for a town that far away. Walking cautiously towards the town and stopping two kilometres away the group broke out their spyglasses to get a better view; the scene before them was grim, the town was aflame and in the centre of the town was a large pyre around which cultists were performing some manner of ritual, the ritual appears to reach a crescendo as the executioner sacrifices a victim, black smoke trailing from the victim to the blade. Torvus with his limited understanding of rituals states that it appears to be some manner of reverse rejuvenation ritual; his words are punctuated by the victim’s corpse rising and shambling towards one of the buildings.

Deciding that such a thing cannot simply be allowed, especially considering the unfortunate abundance of prisoners available, the group decides to move in and take advantage of surprise to disrupt the ritual; the group moves up to approximately eight hundred metres, figuring that they can make careful shots from that distance with relatively little danger to themselves, and also providing a better vantage point. It was at this point that Atter had a moment of concern before remembering his strength of resolve. From here Torvus noticed something, two of the prisoners were elves, and not just any elves, they were his parents; keeping his calm he directed Cass to stay put in overwatch, awaiting his signal for targets. Torvus led the soldiers and scouts up closer to half the range, skirting around the town to disguise their direction of attack figuring that if anything went wrong he wanted the cultists to think the attack came from anywhere but the mountain. Keeping the soldiers back a little to minimise the noise the group prepares to attack. By now the cultists have sacrificed a further two prisoners.

The opening volley by the archers Torvus , Jacque and Atter eliminates three of the cultists, much to their surprise; the head cultist begins to direct the remaining cultists but is silenced by Cass’ bullet, the remaining cultists begin to flee. One of the fleeing cultists throws a torch beneath the wagons, a near wall of one of the buildings explodes outwards as a ghoul bursts through it, and a second ghoul climbs over the roof of another building, the ghoul’s race towards the group clearing fifty metres. Seeing the sheer monstrosity of the ghouls is enough to cause Atter to turn and flee, only returning to the fight a short time later; Petra is also shaken by their arrival but stands her ground. The next handful of seconds was taken up with the archers and Cass shooting at the cultists as they ran for cover, and the soldiers bringing their rifles to bear and firing upon the ghouls. As the ghouls draw closer Torvus and Cass continue to fire upon the cultists, killing one every time they hit but not hitting every time they fire, ultimately a few managed to escape. The archers had taken to joining the soldiers in firing at the ghouls and Jacques decision to bring barbed arrows turned out to be a good one in this case as their effectiveness against the ghouls grew with each shot. It was at this point that both the soldiers managed to jam their rifles, deciding rather than to try to unjam them that bringing swords to bear would be the better option; Petra chose to wield her torch whereas Alfonse chose his shield. The ghouls so far had not gone unharmed, the shots of all involved had manage to put them down, more than once, the problem was that they kept getting back up. With the cultists gone and the fire beneath the carts raging Torvus had one of the scouts signal Cass to target the locks, he didn’t understand the series of signals that were relayed but moments later the results were evident; the lock upon Torvus’ mothers cage was blast from its latch and she sprang forth, scrambling to release her husband from his cage; it was at that moment that the first of the zombies shambled towards her from a building. Torvus had joined the archers in focusing on the ghouls, one of which was so full of barbed arrows that every time it ran it fell dead again, only to rise again. Cass kept cover over Torvus’ mother, shooting the zombie that drew close as she worked on the lock of her husband’s cage, it being unfortunately out of sight of Cass’ shot; Cass continued to be kept busy by the latest sacrifices rising as zombies and shambling towards the only living things they saw, the prisoners. The ghouls closed with the group and Alfonse and Petra fight well, putting them down once again, but not before Petra took two vicious strikes, one of which removed her right kneecap. The soldiers and scouts then put torch and boot to the ghouls aiming to keep them down for good.

As the ghouls went down Torvus took flight towards his parents reaching them moments later, he moved his shocked mother aside as her shot the lock off of his father’s cage, the man’s wounds only now becoming apparent. Only just noticing the screaming of the other prisoners Torvus began to release the remaining prisoners but only two could be saved, the best that could offered to those remaining was a merciful death. Moving back with the prisoners and his parents Torvus took care to aid his father, when a safe distance from the carnage Torvus stopped to assess the health of his parents and that of the other prisoners. The remaining members of the group had joined Torvus by this point, save for Jacque who paused at one of the ghouls and coincidentally found it had been draped in the flesh of his wife; Jacque was able to recover his wife’s wedding band. Torvus knelt by his father who had become quite weak, his mother was barely holding back from hysterics, Torvus’ father recognised his son and breathed his last.

After taking a moment and treating their wounded the group discussed the return, they had previously mentioned the idea that if they encountered an enemy and had to run then they would be unable to utilise the reach and instead would have to walk around the mountain; but a compromise was made, the prisoners would be hooded and led on a winding path back to the reach to disguise its actual location. The group returned to the reach and made their way back to North Watch.

800xp for each player
100 standard
100 each for learning
400 danger
100 wisdom
100 role playing
+100xp for heroism: Torvus

Infamy: +1 for all but Merrick, -1 for Merrick.
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