Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"   Posted by Director.Group: 0
Director
 GM, 96 posts
 For Highdunn
 For the King!
Mon 13 Feb 2017
at 13:16
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
The big newcomer was in no condition to refuse aid, and while Florrie crouched in concern Martel tore away the sodden black mess of his jupon. It gave way like wet paper to reveal a leather jerkin of exceptional quality, save the clean cut that pierced it just below the ribs, and passed into the steaming abattoir beneath.

After only a cursory examination, careful not to pry too far beyond the leather where it was already plastered to the skin, it was already clear that the situation was grim. The rattling note to the man's laboured breathing belied what must be a pierced lung, and the black blood on the wound? When a man bled black there was seldom much hope. The only question in the young drysalter's mind was whether the man would meet his end bleeding out, or drowning on his own blood.

Neither seemed a noble death.



Drawing open the ancient door to the Key, Callia peered out into the night, blinking as her eyes adjusted from the wan illumination of the common room to the sanguine moonlight.

The Key sat on a broad avenue on the eastern outskirts of Cavalier's Falls. The buildings here were in better repair and more compact than those around the marketplace (save for the Key itself, whose antiquity challenged all but the eldest manses of the town), so the buildings lined the road in neat rows. Their shuttered windows dark as if they slept as heavily as their denizens.

The lamps were long-since dark, and not a soul was to be seen about on the straw-strewn streets. A slick trail, dark even against the cool cobbles led in a wavering but unbroken line to the other side of the avenue. To the mouth of a wide alleyway where... was that a movement?



Marshalling his will, the stranger laid a hand, thick and calloused and caked in dry blood, on Martel's arm, smiling gratefully to the concern clear in Florrie's eyes.

"No," he said in the ruins of a once-dark baritone "Too late. For that." Then, exhausted by those few words, he reached down, and with steely determination and a whine of pain he began rummaging with half-numb fingers in a belt-pouch at his left hip.



Yes. Yes there, in the mouth of the alley. Callia could scarcely believe that she hadn't seen him immediately, but he stood so still, and she had half expected to find nothing. And yet standing there, so nonchalant that in any other setting she'd scarcely remark upon him, stood a man.

He was tall, lean, his face drawn and gaunt and his hair long and loose and lank. He wore simple clothing, not that of a serf, but not the finery of a freeman come from a feast night either, and he made no effort to conceal the wickedly long knife he held in a slack grip.

The worst though was that he was looking straight at her, close enough that she could just make out his pale coloured eyes in the night. His expression was not the malice of a goblin raider, nor the guilt of the cornered cut-purses she'd seen so often on the streets of her childhood. If Callia had to name it, she'd've called it interest.

With a cock of his head the man regarded the scene behind her in the inn, head bobbing in mental calculation, then looked Callia right in her lone eye and smiled.

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:08, Sat 18 Feb 2017.

Martel Gautaz
 player, 44 posts
Thu 16 Feb 2017
at 23:24
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Fastidious at his worst, Martel found it easy enough to ignore the black blood spilling onto his fine clothing. His eyes were caught by the determination of the man who he knelt beside. Keeping the dying soldier upright with a steady arm, he wracked his paltry knowledge for a means to make him whole once more - or to clear his mind and ease his pain if none could be found. His free hand reached down to help the man retrieved whatever it was he fumbled for. If he fought through his pain for something, it must be urgent and vital

Rolling mostly to continue to understand the mechanics in play here. Figure that Martel will be trying to Find a Balm => Knowledgeable + Bonus + Penalty + Healing + Heartwound Disadvantage + Mildly Drunk Disadvantage = 4 + 1D6 - 3D6, 
  • 23:18, Today: Martel Gautaz rolled 7,12 using 4+1d6,3d6.  Find a Balm, vs 30/10 => Failure
If he had failed by a wider margin, I would probably take a Disheartened Disadvantage. If he had passed, Martel would probably have tried to save him

Note I'm not intending to roll for mechanics every time, but this was interesting to think about

Callia
 player, 41 posts
Sat 18 Feb 2017
at 08:40
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
     Callia had scanned the area meticulously and was almost surprised when she didn't notice the man that seemed to blend into the darkness. She took note of his features and his clothing, and she paid special attention to the blade that he held in his hand. She didn't back down or cower as she gazed at the man, she had faced similar ilk in her past and she knew a thug when she saw one. Yet this one seemed... professional, his clothing was distinctively different, almost purposely so. She met the man's eyes with her own and raised an eyebrow at the subtle smile. She put two finger to her eyebrow and flicked them out in a small salute before she returned the smile and closed the door, her mind already made up on her next course of action.

     Callia turned back to the group, though she didn't approach as she knew that she wouldn't help any by hovering. "There is a somber man outside holding a knife with no obvious intentions of leaving. He is lean and tall, haggard facial features with an obvious attention to his clothes, they make him appear out of place when he hold such a weapon. I would say he has done this before and perhaps does so often for a profit, a true professional. But it could all be coincidental, if we are truly the optimistic bunch." Callia spoke slowly as she spoke her thoughts aloud for the benefit of the group. "He didn't make any move to approach but I would suggest we do not take his idleness for granted and lock the door. We must see to this man and know what caused such an attack and if he knows the man outside." Callia spoke about the man as if he were not there bleeding in front of them all and it was clear that the words were simply echoed from the confines of her mind. She didn't handle these sort of situations often but she kept herself distanced from the immediate situation as to not alarm herself or cause panic when she needed a clear mind to rationalize her thoughts and ideas.
Smallfeather
 player, 40 posts
Sat 18 Feb 2017
at 15:49
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Smallfeather had been folding up Martel's cloak when Callia came back inside and began to talk of a professional killer.

"Generally one does not recognize a professional killer unless one is being professionally killed," he said. He had some familiarity with the subject. "And such a man is unlikely to stand about and study the results of his handiwork where all can see him.

"There are all manner of other madmen and death-dealers in the world, of course. But what you describe does not sound like a paid professional."


He started for the door.
Martel Gautaz
 player, 45 posts
Tue 21 Feb 2017
at 15:25
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Even with his attention focused on the dying man and whatever he was trying to tell them - or show them, perhaps - Martel could not fail to take in Callie's warning nor Smallfeather's confident bluster. He kept his gaze upon the soldier in front him, however, watching for his reaction and any sign that his condition was worsening.

"Do not taunt him inside to finish his murderous task, Master Smallfeather", he requested, though it perhaps sounded close to a warning, "It would be difficult to worry about two gravely injured men"

Finally, he threw a glance over his shoulder, cursing, "Where is Nikolai? Florrie, there is a bottle of fine brandy behind the bar. Could you fetch it?"
Nikolai Grayson
 player, 11 posts
Wed 22 Feb 2017
at 14:08
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Stunned by the sudden appearance of a dying man from out of so still a night, Nikolai had hovered indecisively in place, but the news that the killer was so close at hand galvanized him into action. He ran into the kitchen, and as Martel asked after him he emerged again with a stout cleaver in one hand, and dragging the heavy bar that held the door on the rare occasion the Lost Key was left unattended in the other.

He gave Smallfeather a shocked look "You're going out there? There are five of us in here, and we've light and tables enough to block the door. Who knows how many cutthroats are out there? Bar the door and rouse the watch I say."
Smallfeather
 player, 41 posts
Wed 22 Feb 2017
at 14:22
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
He wanted to throw up his hands in disgust, but instead he merely shrugged. If the two much larger men wanted to cower behind a locked door, there was no point in arguing with them about it.

"Suit yourselves," he said. "I have nothing personal at stake here."

He went back to the table and took a seat. As he put his feet up, he added, "Though I daresay rousing the watch would be an easier matter from the other side of that door."
Nikolai Grayson
 player, 12 posts
Wed 22 Feb 2017
at 14:57
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Near all the way across the room Nikolai stopped and looked uncertainly at the jester, before seeking out Callia, then Martel. "Perhaps he has a point? Though I have a good bell..." his thought was interrupted by a sudden hacking cough.
Martel Gautaz
 player, 47 posts
Wed 22 Feb 2017
at 22:49
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
At the cough, Martel returned his attention to the man in his arms. His tone was strained as he caught up with Smallfeather's suggestion, "Rouse the watch. Of course! Ring your bell, Master Grayson"
Smallfeather
 player, 43 posts
Wed 22 Feb 2017
at 23:11
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
"Yes, yes... ring your bell, Grayson." As Smallfeather leaned his chair back on two legs, his juggling orbs dropped from his sleeves into his hands. They started to arc above his head in a rapid and complicated pattern. "At least I remembered to bring my balls."
Director
 GM, 103 posts
 For Highdunn
 For the King!
Sat 25 Feb 2017
at 07:10
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
As Grayson left the heavy bar leaning on a table and rushed for his bell and Smallfeather let fly his balls, Martel reached into the dying stranger's belt pouch. The wounded man relented, and the dyer's stained fingers closed on two small objects, one coarse and the other cool. Drawing both forth he held a folded scrap of cheap parchment and a silver plated medal engraved with what might be a crow.

With a shuddering breath the wounded warrior slumped back in the chair, and with steely-eyed determination he stared at Martel before pushing his word out of blood-flecked lips with what must be the last of his strength "You" he cast his eye around room "all of you. In the name of Eldin Reise, King of Highdunn I charge you all-" a ragged breath interrupted his speech "I charge you to carry that medal to Kithridge, and put it in the hands of the Earl. Tell him that it will lead to the men who took the princess. Trust the news to none but the Earl himself."

He panted with the effort of so many words, and for a moment his eyes bulged with pain, but he pressed on. "I am sorry to place you in such danger, but do not tarry or fail. If the girl is not found I do not doubt it will be war."

Then he relented into silence, save for the swiftly failing whistle of his ruinous breath. Bone-pale, maggot-fat death spirits lolled grotesquely around his wound.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:44, Thu 20 July 2017.

Martel Gautaz
 player, 49 posts
Sat 25 Feb 2017
at 19:53
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Clasping the medal and scrap in one hand, Martel wraps the hand of warrior around his own with his other, "It will be done. What is your name, that the Earl might speak to us"
Director
 GM, 104 posts
 For Highdunn
 For the King!
Tue 28 Feb 2017
at 06:12
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
The man tried to rasp a few words, but they were unintelligible. Then spent, his eyes rolled back and lost focus and lapsed into rattling wheezes. It wouldn't be long now.

Outside all was silent for a moment, and then the pealing of a bell took up in the turgid night air, and the sound of Nikolai's voice calling for the watch along with it sounded far off and hollow.
Martel Gautaz
 player, 50 posts
Tue 28 Feb 2017
at 12:42
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
"Struggle no more, friend", reassured Martel, keeping his grip on the man's forearm in a grip he had seen his father's guardsmen use. Perhaps it would help ease the man's final minutes. It would not be the first death he had seen, but the first violent one he had witnessed since coming on the aftermath of his father's own lonely passing. He would stay with him until the final breath

After a deep breath of his own, he reached with his free hand to cradle the back of the man's head. Once more he turned to Nikolai, "Is the back courtyard clear, his passing should be seen by the Dioune?"

If it was not possible to move him out, he begun reciting one of the litanies of Koroth in a low voice
Smallfeather
 player, 44 posts
Tue 28 Feb 2017
at 13:44
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Except for the dye-maker, everyone else had fallen into a stunned silence by the dying man's (rather extensive) last words. He had passed a quest, like one might in a story. A plot, a princess, and a medallion.

"Well, you folks surely have your work cut out for you," Smallfeather said. "Best of luck."
Callia
 player, 42 posts
Wed 1 Mar 2017
at 07:26
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
     Callia watched and listened as the man said his final peace before his inevitable passing. She closed her eyes as she pinched the bridge of her nose, her mind working over the mystery that has only been expanded upon without any explanation. She was not unused to death and violence, but it never grew easier for her to accept. She frowned as she gestured toward the door. "I stand by my earlier statement all the more now. That man is obviously a professional, he waited around to ensure his job was done and to probably claim the medallion that we now hold. He is attempting to stop this information from reaching the Earl. He spoke in the name of the King, whether he had the power or not matters not so long as the man outside has seen the man stumble upon us." Callia lowered her hand from her nose before she sighed and looked toward the gathered group, "I fear that we have no choice in the matter. If this truly revolves around the Princess and her abduction that means that the man outside can not risk witnesses. The alarm may have bought us some time or forced his hand, of that we will see soon enough but it in no way granted us safety."

     Callia looked toward the stairs for a moment as she thought of the future. The trip would be long and she had supplies to last herself quite some time but if she had to split it among the people that remained here... It would be a stretch with no complications but no where near enough if they ran into trouble. "I have some supplies already bought and stored for my expedition that I had planned, it should be enough to get us a good way on our voyage but we will have to stop to stock up on the journey unless Mister Grayson is kind enough to lend us supplies." Callia stopped for a moment as she considered that she had not asked her companions for their input. She would not dare ignore the dying wish of a man, especially one who apparently served a noble purpose that could ease the tension that had grown from the Princess's disappearance. "That is, of course, if you all care to carry out his wishes. I fear that right now our best bet is to stay together. Safety in numbers, so to speak."
Martel Gautaz
 player, 53 posts
Thu 2 Mar 2017
at 14:19
Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Taking what care he could and enlisting the help of Nikolai to ensure the soldier retained a semblance of dignity, Martel pocketed the medallion before making the slow journey out into the back courtyard. He listened as Smallfeather distanced himself from the affairs of the realm and as Callia thought through the implications out loud; he himself tried to remain focused in the man's last moments. Perhaps, he told himself, this stranger takes the place of my father and my wish to have been them for him. He felt a rush of emotions well up within and closed his eyes to regain his poise.

Outside the courtyard was ramshackle and underused, a few trailing vines creeping up the stacked stones of the high wall and the small gate that led beyond sitting rusty and unused. Together they made the main comfortable against one wall, Martel reciting the warrior's lament - though his own worship was closer to Aliel

After the warrior had made his final breath, Martel closed his eyes and stood. He faced the others, returning inside if that is where they had remained, "I will bear his message, Mistress Callia. Would you come and tell our tale, Master Smallfeather?"

This message was last edited by the player at 12:15, Fri 03 Mar 2017.

Smallfeather
 player, 45 posts
Thu 2 Mar 2017
at 14:38
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Martel Gautaz:
After the warrior had made his final breath, Martel closed his eyes and stood. He faced the others, returning inside if that is where they had remained, "I will bear his message, Mistress Callia. Would you come and tell our tale, Master Smallfeather?"


One of the balls nearly hit the floor. Reacting quickly, Smallfeather dropped his hand and made the catch. He slowly slid the juggling balls back up his sleeves.

He'd had precisely zero interest in engaging in whatever mad quest with which the dying man had thought he could charge a group of random strangers. Smallfeather was nobody's idea of a hero. But he was also no coward, and there was a limit to how much weaseling out of something he was willing to do. He figured he could slip out because the others wouldn't want to undergo a quest in the constant presence of a jester. But now the dye-maker was pointedly asking him along, and providing a reason that he couldn't easily counter.

Ah, bugger. It looks like I'm doing this.

"Why, of course! And what a tale it will be!"

Director
 GM, 111 posts
 For Highdunn
 For the King!
Tue 7 Mar 2017
at 09:20
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
The bell pealed out into the night for a few moments longer, before Nikolai returned cautiously down the stair, brass bell still in hand. "I leaned out the shutters in the front room, and there was no sign of anyone. Has he not come to the door?" he asked, hollow-eyed stare fixed on the heavy front door of the inn. "I saw candles lit in the square, the watch are likely on their way. Though whether their the bring their wits with them on not is another question."

Callia thought of the gaunt man's stillness, of his nonchalance. Perhaps he had truly moved on? Either to watch from afar or else report back to whatever fellows the red night might hide. But then, if he had comrades... The Key was built to welcome travellers in more than to keep them out.
Martel Gautaz
 player, 57 posts
Tue 7 Mar 2017
at 11:03
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
"No-one has come", confirmed Martel, his expression stern and inward as he clearly considered the implications of his promise and the road that lay ahead. He fetched one of the cloaks that hung by the doorway to The Key, a forgotten thing that probably belonged to one of the regulars who lived in Cavalier's Falls. Crouching briefly, he covered the fallen soldier, then looked up towards Callia and Smallfeather, "I, too, have some supplies, Mistress Callia. Perhaps sufficient, though I'm sure we can procure something from the inn...". His tone is confident, though he threw a glance at Nikolai as he stood, as if to permit him an opportunity to confirm the matter.

"Kithridge is northwards", he finally offered, his tone thoughtful, "Although the Earl is known to make his home at Fort Rotheron which sits between the city and here, perhaps a dozen leagues on the north road. If you're man is a professional, the road will be a danger to us. We should slip out, those going, and take to the backroads as much as we can"

He paused for a moment, "Even staying to speak to the Watch may delay us unduly"

Attempting to Determine a Safe(r) Path => Knowledgeable + Bonus + Penalty + Alhonian Lore + Backroads Advantage = 4 + 2D6 - 1D6. Going to argue that the Mildly Drunk Disadvantage is disapating, especially with the recent sobering events
  • 10:57, Today: Martel Gautaz rolled 10,6 using 4+2d6,1d6.  Determine a Safe(r) Path => +4, unsure of target but Marginal Success or worse
Assuming that with Martel's skills he knows the public knowledge about Kithridge and the Earl from the site

Director
 GM, 115 posts
 For Highdunn
 For the King!
Sun 12 Mar 2017
at 13:01
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Martel turned a few routes over in his head. There was a pretty well known smugglers road that turned north just west of the falls and snaked up to Kithridge, but with a smuggler's road usually came smugglers, or worse goblyn raiders. The patrol track then? That would take them as far as a little hamlet called Walerd. He'd had a girl there once, and people in towns like that didn't exactly move on. It wasn't exactly unknown, but it was the way the cavaliers roamed the border, so it was safe and it passed straight by Fort Rotheron. Then if Kithridge was definitely their destination maybe the logging trail? That would land them back on the highway with only an hour or two to Kithridge. All in all it would cost them an extra half day at worst.

The fire cracked and Smallfeather fidgeted in the absence of clever excuses while Florrie kept large wary eyes on the door, seemingly expecting it to burst open at any moment. Meanwhile Callia and Nikolai busied themselves taking mental inventory of the somewhat depleted stores in the alcove under the stairs. Food? Dried venison and bread would suffice, and the Key had a generous supply of nuts and dessicated apricots in honour of the season. And Callia was more than prepared for a prolonged time in the wilderness.

Would they need armament? The gaunt man outside's lethal blade once again caught the light in Callia's mind's eye. That seemed less certain.

OOC: Right, I need some travel plans. Are you leaving now, or waiting for the watch, or for the gaunt man to make a move? On foot or do you have enough conveyance between you? What do you want to take? What's the preferred route? Any travel precautions? It's about three days to Kithridge on the highway, so just over four by Martel's offroad route, and you could make Fort Rotheron in a little more than one.
Smallfeather
 player, 51 posts
Tue 14 Mar 2017
at 14:09
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
"If I may be so bold as to suggest," Smallfeather said, rising once more, "and thrice-ly mad to take this quest, with one man dying on the floor and another snarling at the door, perhaps this fool's errand has by the gods been blessed."

Once again, juggling balls vanished to spots secreted about his body as Smallfeather nimbly approached the dying, now possibly dead man on the tavern floor. His armor was bland but heavy, and his helmet of a ubiquitous sort. Underneath he could have been quite nearly anyone at all. Smallfeather slipped the helmet off his head and tossed it back and forth between his hands as he continued.

"This fellow here, of life bereft... but his murderer, he hasn't left? Of his work, he is not sure. He wants the evidence of his eyes, proof that dead his victim lies--" Smallfeather executed a quick flip over to where Nikolai stood, and unceremoniously plunked the helmet down on his head. It fit as well as might be expected, and concealed its new wearer's face as well as it had previously. "--and not sneaking out the back door."

The plan was simple: Nikolai could wear the helmet and armor, and pretend to be the soldier. Acting less wounded than the assassin had hoped, and most assuredly not dead, he could lead his supposed killer away while the others made good their departure. Once clear of the tavern, he could then ditch the disguise and make good his own escape.
Nikolai Grayson
 player, 13 posts
Wed 15 Mar 2017
at 15:05
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
Nikolai paled visibly, though he had little enough colour in him as it was. "I... How can I..." his eyes hardened and he took a deep, shuddering breath that rattled in a raw throat. "If I do this, and I'm not saying I will, but if I do I..." the innkeeper lowered his face and rounded his shoulder in clear shame. "If I do this, then I want to stay." His voice dipped to a mumble. "I can't just leave the inn to no one and... and..." he dropped his excuses and lapsed into silence.

He raised just his eyes, posture still deflated, to glance around the room. "I mean it, if you ask me to do this... If you ask me, I'll do it. But then I'll be done with this whole business."

OOC: Nikolai rolled -1 on 1d6-1d6 Brave test.
Martel Gautaz
 player, 62 posts
Tue 21 Mar 2017
at 13:10
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
It was clear that Martel was conflicted as his eyes spoke of sympathy but his mouth hardened to prevent a moue of ... disdain, perhaps .. from making itself known. He wrestled for a moment with his words, then offered a branch to the clearly frightened man, "We need someplace to come back to, when all this is done. If the Earl is like his fellows then showing him the token of a dead man will not be enough. Be bold for a few hours, then keep Cavalier's Falls for us until we return"
Director
 GM, 126 posts
 For Highdunn
 For the King!
Fri 24 Mar 2017
at 14:18
Re: Prologue (0.1): "On the Eve of Victory"
A flurry of activity saw Nikolai strapped into the bloodied remains of the warrior's armour. His weapon was missing, but it seemed that it had been dropped before the doomed man found his way into the Lost Key. When the innkeep affected a stagger, clutching the jagged rent in the boiled leather breastplate, he cut a not-unconvincing figure. In the cool red of night it would be impossible to tell he was not their unfortunate visitor.

Callia made her way to her room, and packed her worldly belongings into a rough canvas knapsack (mostly lovingly folded charts on supple vellum sandwiched between squares of rough fabric) and Martel, always ready for the road's call, took stock of the worn bundle of necessities that were his carefully curated load.

Smallfeather waited for Nikolai to limp out to meet the approaching lanterns of the watchmen before slipping out into the Key's meagre stables to hitch his cart to a fractious mule. There was no sign of this so-called professional, and given that the warrior had no coin on him that Smallfeather could see when they were stripping off his armour, it seemed likely that the man Callia described had been nothing more than a robber emboldened by the excesses of the Day of Victory.

Reconvening in the inn's common room, Martel and Callia went over their planned route, much to wide-eyed Florrie's fascination. Then blanketed in the muted rhythms of the deepest and most secret vaults of night, the foursome departed.

Not a soul stirred in Cavalier's Falls to note their passing, despite the irritable braying of Smallfeather's animal and the clatter of wheels on cobble. As they joined the highroad north on the outskirts of town, where the highlands afforded glimpses of the trackless and ancient forest to the west, they briefly startled a reveller too deep in his cups to make his way home. Otherwise they encountered not a soul.

A half a mile further and they branched off the highroad and onto the patrol route, and down that rugged and hoof-beaten track they picked their way until dawn.

continued in Chapter 1: "The Road to Kithridge"...