Chapter 5: Occupied.   Posted by Raellus.Group: 0
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 413 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Fri 14 Oct 2016
at 12:38
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Jenna takes a moment to ensure that the wretch slumped at her feet is not about to cause any immediate danger, bending down to retrieve his dagger and sword, thrusting both into her belt for the moment. It would have taken a matter of mere seconds to slit his throat and ensure that he would never be a threat, but that was not Arma’s way. The Goddess showed mercy to the vanquished.

Looking up Jenna can both see and hear booted feet moving about on the side of the carriage that now serves as its roof, the sounds of battle carrying to the inside of the carriage, Nicolai’s voice mixed in with the clashing of blades. The Priestess looks around briefly, looking to see if there is anything within reach that she should take. She is not seeking to loot coin or jewels, is rather looking for any papers, anything that appears as though it might have relevance to current events in Balefyre.

When that’s completed she’ll attempt to hoist herself out of the carriage, grasping the door and trying to get back up on to the exterior, alongside Romanelli. If she’s successful she’ll rise to her feet as quickly as she can and see if the Ardani needs her assistance or healing.

Jenna
HP 34/44; AC 21
Recovering weapons / looking for intel
Attempting to clamber out of carriage and join the fray on the side / roof
Warhammer 1d8+1+2 STR

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 498 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Sat 22 Oct 2016
at 19:41
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Nicolai glances down again, a smirk flickering across his features as he catches another sword-thrust with his dagger.  "I warned you," he tells the mercenary as Jenna's armored form rises up behind the man.  As the priestess' warhammer descends, Nicolai's rapier rises to catch the Bloodforged between the weapons.

Nicolai
AC 16; HP 21/54; Superiority dice 1/4
Attack: Rapier +1 against B3 (attack +7, damage 1d8+1d6+4)
Bonus: Dagger +1 against B3 (attack +7, damage 1d8+4 [+2d6 if rapier misses])
Move: None
Reaction: If struck, will spend 1 superiority die for riposte (attack +7, damage 2d8+4)

Alternate: If B3 goes down with the rapier attack, move and bonus actions become:
Move: Into melee with B2
Bonus: Dagger +1 against B2 (attack +7, damage 1d8+4)

Raellus
 GM, 664 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Sat 22 Oct 2016
at 20:21
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

Nic strikes hard and fast, hitting the overmatched Redcloak with a devastating combination attack. The mercenary falls to rapier and dagger blows, tumbling off of the carriage and landing on the cobbles with a sickening thud (B3 -24HP; B3 is unconscious or dead, your choice!).

Jenna, meanwhile, manages to clamber to her feet at Nic's side. The Bloodforged is down before she has a chance to make her own attack.

The only Bloodforged still standing is preparing to take another stab at the slippery rogue standing above him; the mercenary is brave, not stupid. Beset by a circling swarm of noisy ravens, and outnumbered two-to-one, he thinks better of it and backs away, spear spanning the steadily increasing distance between himself and the two warriors standing atop the upturned carriage.

Corros, lungs burning, arrives back within range of the fight. It looks like Nic and Jenna are OK, and the only Redcloak who looks to have any fight left is attempting to retreat.



Your turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:27, Sat 22 Oct 2016.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 500 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Sat 22 Oct 2016
at 23:57
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Nicolai whistles to call off the ravens, then holds an arm - the one holding his dagger - aloft until one of the leaders circles for a landing on his wrist.  He holds eye contact with the spearman, tilting his head in the general direction of the keep as the Bloodforged warily backs away.

"We have what we came for," he remarks softly to Jenna.  "Let's not give Kreyg any more reasons to execute hostages."  He uses the tip of his rapier to indicate the downed mercenaries.  "And Jenna?  Thank you for coming.  I'm sorry we threw this together too quickly to brief you."

He releases the raven into the sky, sheathes his blades, and swings down from atop the carriage.  A quick glance around the street shows that there's far too much of a crowd for the party to slip away unnoticed.  Fortunately - Nicolai keeps the relief off his face - Corros is back.  We're surrounded by witnesses.  I'm inclined to have a few words with them to keep them from slitting these men's throats after we leave, but we need to disappear quickly.  Suggestions?
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 416 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Sun 23 Oct 2016
at 12:20
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Jenna nods her head briefly. "You can explain it all to me later." Her tone suggests that may not be the end of the conversation but for now there are other matters to attend to. Their foes had fallen but were not yet dead. And a Priestess of Arma shows mercy to a defeated opponent. It was one of the tenets of her faith.

And so Jenna reaches into her pack, extracts several poultices, concoctions of different herbs that had been prepared in the Cloisters, places them on the upturned side of the carriage as she crouches down next to the first of the Bloodforged, the one that Romanelli had just put to the sword. "Lie still." she says to the wounded sell sword. "I am here to help you not hurt you."
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 369 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Mon 24 Oct 2016
at 00:09
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

Make a speech about the mercy of the Ravens compared to the rage of the Albino.  Then we run for the River Ward where hopefully the Bloodforged won't follow.  Make a straight shot for our old home then disappear into the riffraff that won't report our passage.  I'll shadow you and Jenna for a few blocks before meeting up.

It's a good thing for Corros that the communication is mental.  His lungs are about to burst from the greater than usual exertion of sprinting through the streets of Balefyre.  To find Jenna and Nic handily dealing with the mercenaries is a relief as well, not that he should be entirely surprised.  The warlock knows he's not invisible here.  If Nic has noticed his return, it stands to reason that several of the others around here have as well.  Jenna doesn't look happy with Nic, even from a distance, and given the confusing mess the men put her in, he expects that she is probably less than thrilled with him as well.  That's new territory.

Corros checks the slowly blinking turtle in his pouch and slides up against a wall trying to stay hidden.  He'll keep a watch over Nic and his lover then shadow them to see if anyone else follows before rejoining them.
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 501 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Mon 24 Oct 2016
at 23:58
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Sounds good.  Stay there and watch our backs.  Jenna's going to keep these two from bleeding out.  Nicolai pauses, then adds with an internal smirk, I hereby nominate you to explain our "reasoning" to her.

He clambers back atop the carriage, wincing as the movement pulls at his own wounds.  Another whistle pulls the ravens' attention back to him and brings them swirling down in a feathered vortex.  "Balefyre!" he shouts, fist upthrust.  It's overly-dramatic but it gets the crowd's attention.

"Citizens," he continues at slightly lesser volume, "the Ravens apologize for the mess."  He smiles ironically and sweeps his hand around the street.  "We'll be gone in a moment.  We all know what these men's leader has done," he indicates the mercenaries, "and what he says he'll do.  And we need them to take a message to him, so we'd appreciate it if you left them no worse off than they already are."  He flicks his hand as if to deflect blame for the manner in which the men so recently became so shopworn.  "And if you're asked about what happened here..." his smile becomes fiendish, "tell them exactly what you saw."

He kneels for a moment and makes eye contact with the battered Varimori bodyguard.  "You can't have this city," he hisses in Caliphate-accented Primordial as the man struggles back toward wakefulness.  Then he's in motion, ready to cover Jenna's withdrawal as soon as she's done ensuring the survival of Kreyg's men.
Raellus
 GM, 666 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Tue 25 Oct 2016
at 00:34
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

While Nic delivers his message to the bystanders within earshot, Jenna puts her courses in healing to good use, stabilizing the wounded mercenaries. They should survive until their comrades-at-arms arrive, assuming the small crowd heeds Nic's admonitions.

As soon as he's out of bowshot range, the third Redcloak turns his back on his attackers and runs as fast as his red-lacquered splint mail will allow, heading back toward the harbor ward. And why wouldn't they? They've just witnessed a bonafide ass-kicking, complete with a seemingly-enchanted raven swarm.

Hasty ambush and impromptu stage show completed, it's time to leave. Nic and Jenna move off first, shadowed by Corros. It doesn't take for the trio long to move through and past the thin cordon of milling bystanders. If any of the onlookers has the temerity to attempt to follow the three, they must also be very stealthy, because neither the streetwise warlock, nor the urban ranger note any tails. Jenna looks over her shoulder too, but she doesn't see any obvious signs of pursuit.

The three companions safely make their way to the River Ward, and the sanctuary of Balint house. It is as they left it, although they now recall Lenore's report of a discrete break-in when she returned for the party's baggage. It's cold and empty. Their hostage squirms around in Corros' satchel. Jenna places the sword and dagger she liberated from the Varimori cavalier on the common room table. The sword, in particular, looks like something special- the worksmanship is impressive, and a some the decorative details suggest possible enchantment.


Your Turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:42, Tue 25 Oct 2016.

Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 370 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Tue 25 Oct 2016
at 01:18
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
"Can't stay here long, yeah?" Corros says watching the turtle crawl back and forth across their table, perhaps looking for a way down.  Already he can feel the magic holding the man in the form of a creature beginning to wane.  They need to be somewhere safe before they're dragging a prisoner through the streets.  Just coming the the river house was a risk, but he wanted to be able to break away from someplace.  Lead their enemies somewhere specific, then disappear so as to lead them away from somewhere else.

The waves of emotion coming of Jenna aren't hard to pick up.  Corros shuffles his feet.  "So, yeah.  Nic and I started with just checking the place out, yeah?"  He's nervous, can feel it with the return of the gutterspeak.  To actually care what someone thinks about him, to not want to let her down, is new territory and the half-elf looks his age for once, very much an insecure nineteen year old instead of a streetwise wielder of magic.  A grimace disfigures his features for a second then is gone.

"But then the guards came out with the emissary.  We wanted to seize the initiative.  We had this moment where we thought maybe we could hit back.  A chance we might not get easily again...so I told Nic to send the ravens to you.  I knew you would come and wanted to be able to explain, but everything happened so fast, and then we were attacking, and then you were in my hand...and then you were gone..."  That moment comes back to him in a stab of fear and failure.

"Believe me, that didn't really go down the way I wanted it to.  Or that Nic did, either.  And he," Corros prods the reptile gently, "won't be a turtle for much longer."

He barely manages to not ask: you still like me, right?
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 502 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Tue 25 Oct 2016
at 22:26
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Nicolai questions the wisdom of inserting himself into the conversation.  If he speaks, though, he'll give Jenna an excuse to snap at someone besides Corros.  So he waits for the witchling to grind to a halt.  Then:

"We'd already discussed going after the emissaries.  That was the point of this reconnaissance, after all."  He shrugs.  "The guard contingent's size was always the problem.  So when we saw this one in motion, with a reduced force covering him," he waves a hand at the turtle, "it was a target of opportunity.  One which was only going to be available for a very limited span of time."

I can't speak to the teleportation, Corros.  That's on you, I'm afraid.

"Regardless, we shouldn't linger here.  We've led anyone following us to an expected destination.  Now we need to do something unexpected."

This message was last edited by the player at 22:28, Tue 25 Oct 2016.

Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 417 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Wed 26 Oct 2016
at 10:48
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
A pause lingers in the air after Nicolai has added his words to Corros’, Jenna looking at each of them in turn before nodding. ”Fine.” The way that the single word is spoken it’s clearly the end of that particular strand of conversation. What they had said made sense after all, an opportunity seized, one that would otherwise have been lost, and no real harm done. And besides, the Priestess had had a chance to calm down a little on the short journey to the house, the anger that had coursed through her when Corros had vanished without her now gradually fading further.

“So now we have a bargaining chip.” Jenna looks pointedly at the turtle before her gaze swings to Romanelli as he mentions doing something unexpected. ”Do you have something particular in mind?” Something tells her that he might...

This message was last edited by the player at 10:48, Wed 26 Oct 2016.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 504 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Sat 29 Oct 2016
at 22:38
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
"I'm not in the business of executing hostages," Nicolai admits.  "And even casual mistreatment is likely to cause delayed problems.  Varimori are touchy about social standing and face.  So we need someplace secure and appropriately furnished to stash this one until we can put him on a homeward-bound ship.  Fortunately, we have an associate who trades with Varimor, has a very secure lair, and might welcome the opportunity to work his hooks into a Varimori noble and diplomat."

He grins lopsidedly and points toward the floor.  "Shall we pay a less aggressive visit to Master Padin?"
Raellus
 GM, 669 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Fri 4 Nov 2016
at 00:53
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

Nic, Corros, and Jenna lock up and leave Balint House, making their way south towards their next destination.

Wading upstream, through a river of red. This goes some way towards describing the adventurers' attempt to return to Padin's residence deep in the Harbor Ward. Bloodforged are out in force, frantically combing the streets, presumably seeking out the kidnapped V.I.P. Someone less streetwise than Corros, or less canny than Nic couldn't have avoided the moving dragnet of mercenaries. Apparently, Kreyg has abruptly abandoned his seminal inkblot strategy of denying access to public meeting places and is now organizing a hasty, large-scale cordon and search operation moving roughly south to north through the city.

The three and their reptilian prisoner arrive at the door to Warehouse 8. From here, than can see the front of Fisherman's Alliance guildhall but nary a Redcloak standing guard there. Still, it's hard not to feel vulnerable as the companions stand and wait in the open. The small, eye-level door within the wicket gate slides open sharply, revealing Thumek's pinched face. He does not look pleased to see the callers.

"Master Padin is quite ill. I'm afraid that he is unable to see you at the moment. If you have something to say to him..."

When the trio outline their predicament, Padin acquiesces- to a point.

"I suppose you can shelter here, inside the warehouse, for a time. Would that suffice?"


Your Turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 22:43, Fri 04 Nov 2016.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 506 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Mon 7 Nov 2016
at 01:10
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Nicolai's neck hairs are acrawl with exposure but he keeps his face impassive.  The memory of the group's last encounter with Padin's chief minion is all too fresh and he's determined not to let the cadaverous wizard gain the upper hand.  "That would be more than sufficient.  We're grateful for Master Padin's hospitality."  He glances sidelong at Corros.  "I do hope Master Padin's health returns soon.  My associate has another guest who I believe may offer some compelling business opportunities."

When Thumek opens the door, Nicolai stands aside politely, tilting his head in silent indication that his companions should enter first.  He takes the opportunity to give the street a careful sweep.  I know you're out there, but were you fast enough?  Then he twists his ring and looks up at the raven perched atop the guildhall across the street.  "Find Gronk," he murmurs.  "Lead him here.  Warn him of followers."

With that, he steps inside, carefully closing the door in his wake.
Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 373 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Mon 7 Nov 2016
at 01:31
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

Corros steps past Nic, sweeping into the warehouse and fixing Thumek with a questioning glance. "I need a place to put a prisoner," he says with a smile.  The turtle is produced and held forward like a talisman.  In the warlock's hands, he can feel the magic ebbing, maybe only minutes remain before the reptile will be something else entirely.  Presumably, their prisoner isn't going to be happy about the change in his circumstances.

"This turtle is about to be a pissed off emissary who is going to wonder why he isn't meeting with the Albino about purchasing Balefyre.  We'd like to, you know, keep him from managing to do that.  And keep him alive."

The journey to the warehouse hadn't been easy and fatigue is starting to form behind the warlock's eyes.  He needs to rest to recover his powers before they get into trouble again.  And it goes without saying that they're going to get into trouble again.
Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 420 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Mon 7 Nov 2016
at 20:00
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Jenna keeps a wary eye out for any passing Redcloaks whilst Nicolai and Corros deal with Thumek. When Padin's servant opens the door to admit them the Priestess follows the others inside. She had acquiesced to Romanelli's suggestion to bring the transformed emissary here primarily because she couldn't think of anywhere else to take....him? It? But given their last encounter with Padin and his henchman Jenna felt only marginally less at risk within these walls than she did outside them.
Raellus
 GM, 670 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Wed 9 Nov 2016
at 00:21
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

Thumek looks at the turtle. It's hard to tell from his expression if he is bemused or annoyed by the situation.

"I will have to take this up with the master. Wait here." He turns to go, but pivots back to add sharply, "I needn't remind you of what occurred the last time you came to call."

Holding a small lamp in his hand, Thumek turns on his slippered heel and retreats to Padin's sub-level apartments. As the majordomo walks away, traversing a canyon of stacked crates, darkness closes in around the companions. A small lantern hangs from an iron hook next to the doors, but its reach is short.

Shortly after Thumek descends the stairway at the far end of the warehouse, shifting shadows begin skirting the margins of the dim lamplight. Even darkvision doesn't penetrate the darkness beyond. The shapes and the movement are reminiscent of large, stalking cats- cool, graceful, predatory.

Something pecks at the outside of the wicket door. A sharp caw follows, confirming the source. Nic cracks the door to let the raven in. A large black bird hops, somewhat comically, into the warehouse, its talons clicking against the stone floor. The feathered messenger carries no parchment- Nic must use his ring to learn its mind.

There was a fight at the nest.
There were many red men.
Two fell to their bloody talons.
Gronk and two others flew the coup, and dove below ground.
The red prisoners were set free.


As the companions consider the implications of the events outlined in the raven's report, Thumek returns.

"The Master came to Balefyre in order to avoid becoming entangled in political intrigues; he has no wish to make an enemy of our powerful neighbor to the west. Therefore, he must respectfully decline your request. Please leave. Now."


Your Turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 03:06, Wed 11 Apr 2018.

Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 512 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Sun 13 Nov 2016
at 23:06
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Several hours later...

Nicolai steadily pans his gaze across around the ill-furnished room in one of Toesplitter's innumerable safehouses.  This particular site is the storeroom of a ropewalk, its air heavy with hemp dust and tar.  It's a completely legitimate business - and one, the once-and-future crown agent notes, that's remarkably susceptible to fire if evidence disposal becomes imperative.  But at least the floor isn't covered with canvas tarpaulins...

"Kreyg launched his gambit," he begins, "because he believed no one would oppose him.  Because Balefyre's reputation is that of the Unsettled East.  The frontier.  A lawless place."  He tilts an ironic nod to the meeting's diminutive host.  "My intent is to rid the city of the Bloodforged while simultaneously demonstrating to all the powers of the Inner Sea that the rule of law holds here."  The balance at this stage is precarious, and he pauses until he sees Toesplitter's minuscule nod - an acknowledgement that he understands business can and will continue in such a city.

"Kreyg is a mercenary.  He came here on retainer, and he's ruined his company's reputation by turning on a presumptive employer.  A seizure of praxis here was a huge gamble.  He and his men are on the cusp of losing it all.  No one but the most desperate or foolhardy will hire the Bloodforged now.  His officers and senior sergeants know this and they're desperate for a way out.  It's filtering down to the line troops as we speak."

He sips from the goblet in front of him and smiles thinly.  "So I propose to show them a way out.  We offer them safe passage to a destination of their choice, anywhere on the Inner Sea.  They keep their gear."  He sees Commandant Overmark's face cloud and raises a hand to quell her protest.  "They keep their gear because they'll need it to continue their trade.  They turn over any plunder taken during their stay here, and they give us Kreyg.  A gracious and forgiving Council gives them a writ acknowledging that the coup attempt was Kreyg's alone, holding no other officer of the Bloodforged to blame."

He swivels his gaze to the Vernar Vander.  "Kreyg stands trial for his acts.  Here, but under Tokari law, as he insisted the contract be written when you opened negotiations with him him."  His eyes are cold, a reminder that he hasn't forgotten who actually solicited the Bloodforged in the first place.

He holds up a finger.  "That's his first choice."  He pauses.  "Or."  A second finger rises.  "We will arrange the death of the Varimori emissary.  In public.  By Kreyg's own hand.  And we will inform the Varimori court that he did it."

His face is impassive, but he flicks an inner smile toward Corros, whose witchery is critical to the bloody side of the coin.  Wait for it...

Toesplitter and Vander are too professional, in their own ways, to rise to the obvious showman's bait. Breakwater, while a savvy businessman, is still a skeptic when it comes to the Ardani's tradecraft.  "That's a mighty fine shroud to be fittin' the albino with," he grumbles, "but he's not that stupid.  Twice not if you warn him."

"Ah, but it'll be a mighty small shroud," Nicolai returns.  "Our Varimori's already been a turtle.  When he becomes a raven..."  On its own unspoken cue, one of Nicolai's corvine accomplices hops to his shoulder and chuckles disquietingly, "and my agents here harry him into the presence of a Kreyg who's already hanging by a hair, the execution will be reflexive and terminal."

His face hardens.  "Now, they might try to flee with Kreyg.  In which case we bribe the sahuagin to interdict them.  I understand they've been cultivating Sylky Styg.  He can tell them exactly what that means."

"So I propose we deliver those two options to the Bloodforged.  Not just Kreyg - the entire company.  And then we see how long it takes them to turn on their captain."

This message was last edited by the player at 23:07, Sun 13 Nov 2016.

Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 378 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Sun 20 Nov 2016
at 16:07
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Corros sits and listens as Nic outlines the plan.  It's just subtle enough in its directness to have a chance to work.  That being said, the warlock is experiencing the distinct feeling that Balefyre is shifting beneath his feet.  The Bloodforged may be gone in the near future, true, but they will leave in their absence a power vacuum.  The people gathered in this room (and those gathered without) are going have vastly different ideas about what that filling that suddenly open space will mean.

For Overmark, Corros muses, a return to the near status-quo will suffice.  She will probably want to return to her previous position, hopefully with more support of her actions from the Fire Council.  That might happen.  If Corros and his allies push hard.

For Vander, and those like him, this sudden disruption may prove to be a precursor to a power play of fairly epic proportions.  Nothing like a little bloodshed and chaos to provide an amazing opportunity for social advancement.  Particularly if you possess a seat at the bargaining table where the future of Balefyre is decided.

A table that, for better or ill, contains the other elements that will have to come together to make sure the city doesn't burn.  Or if it does burn, that it does so quickly and without undue damage.  Corros doesn't like the odds of that, but there's hope.  If the criminals here (Toesplitter and company) can be convinced to...what exactly?  They will want their business to continue, if not expand, without interference from the Fire Watch.  Just sitting here they are being sanctioned.

And that's if, if, the plan works as predicted.  Which plan has ever done that?  The whole situation is enough to make Corros' head ache.

This is going to be tricky, he sends to his companions.  The spell is simple, the aftermath... Juggling with sharp knives just begins to cover it.
Raellus
 GM, 676 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Sun 20 Nov 2016
at 19:52
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

The conspiracy's opportunity to treat with Zardis Kreyg arrives sooner than anyone anticipated.

Shim emerges from the ropewalk's privy hole, soggy, stinking, and breathing hard.

"They're coming! The Redcloaks. Someone sold us out. They'll be here any second."

Sure enough, the clatter of many men jogging in armor can be heard through the large doors at the west end of the ropewalk. The sound washes past the east end of the long building at the mercenaries rush to block off the matching doors at its opposite end.

Tension fills the room like a gust of hot wind. Fear hits first. For some- those who've previously tasted battle- that fear is quickly replaced by a steely, almost fatalistic resolve.

Toesplitter surveys the dripping cutpurse and frowns. "Ain't no fuckin' way I'm crawling out of here on my hands and knees. This bullshit's gone on long enough. They want fuckin' blood, let's give it to 'em." The crime boss is accompanied by Brute, his half-ogre bodyguard, Kjel, a dwarf pit fighter of considerable local renown, and a runner- a slight, swarthy thief clad in dark tones.

"Go fetch the gangs." the Halfling barks at Shim. "All of 'em. Tell 'em if there's a fight here, to fall on the bloody fucks from behind. But only if there's a fight, got that? Go!"

Overmark is on her feet, borrowed long sword naked in her hand. Wendal, a former Fire Watchman, is with her. Two dozen more loyalists are holed up in the Temple of Arma, waiting for word from their commandant. Jurvis is dead, killed while trying to fight his way out of the Vander safe house. A grim-faced Lenore is clearly ready to die revenging him.

Young Vim is with Vernar Vandar. The magnate's eldest son is conspicuously absent, having, if recent reports are to be believed, betrayed his father to Kreyg. Neither of the Vanders are fighters. Vernar's head of security accompanies them- a wiry, grey-haired man named Kurlo. He's seen a scrap or two, but if there's to be a fight tonight, he won't be straying far from his employers' sides.

Breakwater is accompanied by Lors Harborman, the union's chief enforcer. Although unarmored, both can be reasonably expected to give good account of themselves in battle. About two-dozen union members are ready and willing to fight, should the need arise. They are, unfortunately, dispersed around the city, awaiting the decisions of the just-interrupted meeting.

Through cracks in both sets of doors, a ring of about 100 red-armored mercenaries are seen surrounding the ropewalk. Every third or fourth man carrying a spitting torch. Kreyg himself is with them, along with his first lieutenant- a familiar face sporting a long moustache and framed by square-cut bangs- and a red-robed warmage.

"It is over, Ravens!" Kreyg shouts, sneeringly. "Hand over the Varimori and I will be merciful."


Your Turn.

-

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:58, Sun 20 Nov 2016.

Corros Graelor
 Adventurer, 383 posts
 Half-Elf Warlock
 keys138
Tue 22 Nov 2016
at 20:12
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
"Oh," Corros shrugs at Kreyg's last comment trying to keep the plunging morale in the storeroom, "I assumed he was here to surrender with all of his soldiers.  Just to make it easy."  It doesn't take much experience in numbers to know that they are vastly outnumbered even if they can get their allies to the scene in any kind of haste.  And most of their allies would be cut down in a massacre should they move to attack experienced mercenaries like the Redcloaks.

Nic's plan is moot,
he sends silently to his companions. I can't change the Varimori again.  Not yet. The warlock gives Jenna a slightly nervous grin than disolves into something much more cocky, if not exactly true.  Guess I'll have to rely on my charm.

Corros stands up a little taller and moves to the door, cracking it to make yelling a little easier before stepping back to make sure that any arrows headed that way don't find their way into his chest. "Thank you Commander Kreyg for bringing your men here to hear our negotiation.  It will spare them the work of having to spread our offer through the ranks.  And really they should thank you, because bringing them here allows them to judge for themselves if they would like to die at your side or go free with their arms and armor to fight someone else's war.

Redcloaks, your commander wants you to believe that you are in command of this situation.  You are not.  We have the Varimori and should you advance, he will die on the point of your commander's sword.  Should that happen, well, the Varimori are not known for being merciful.  I appeal not to your fear, but to your own self interest.  Walk away from Balefyre, take your arms and armor, and you shall be allowed to leave in peace.  Should you choose not to...well my friend here has something to say about Caliphate justice.  And the people of Balefyre will not be disposed to treat you fairly."

Jenna Drax
 Adventurer, 426 posts
 Human Cleric
 Dave Ross
Tue 22 Nov 2016
at 21:25
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
Jenna offers Corros a smile as his thoughts caress her mind gently. "Wait" the blonde haired Priestess says quietly as the Warlock takes his first step towards the door, her booted feet rapidly closing the distance between them, her hands caressing his cheek for a moment as her lips find his, caring not who may be watching them. The odds are not in their favour, but if this day is to be their last day then she wants that kiss to be how he remembers her.

Then taking a step back as Corros moves to the door, Jenna closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, the ends of her golden tresses staring to move of their own accord, dancing over her shoulders as she calls on the Warrior to bless them in their endeavours, her prayers reaching out to include Overmars, putting her personal feelings towards the Firewatch Commander to one side.

Casting Bless, Level 2, to include Corros, Nic, Gronk, and Overmark)
Nicolai Romanelli
 Adventurer, 517 posts
 Human Rogue/Ranger
 Tegyrius
Tue 22 Nov 2016
at 23:37
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied
"Someone," Nicolai observes to Shim, "is going to experience legendary suffering after we're done here."  His tone is blandly matter-of-fact, the price of bread in the market.

He rises to his feet, reflexively checking blades and tools, and nods grimly at Toesplitter.  "May I?" he asks, holding up a hand to forestall Shim's departure.  The halfling's eyes narrow but he jerks out a single nod.  "Fetch everyone," the Ardani amends.  "Tell the criers.  Fill the streets."  His voice drops to a hiss and he stabs a finger toward the wall - and the city beyond.  "This is their chance to take back their home.  To keep it from being," contempt drips from every syllable, "pimped by that artless fuckwit.  Now.  Go."

He inhales sharply and smooths back his hair.  "Now we see how many of your citizens care," he remarks to Vernar Vander.  The mild marketplace tone is back but he's not sure it fools anyone.

No plan survives contact with reality.  It's salvageable, he sends back to Corros.  If we can't do this elegantly, brutality has its own weight.  Then he sets himself beside the door, ready to charge the instant the first Bloodforged torch rises for a throw.  Mórag, Mother of Nations, be with us this night, he offers, then flashes Jenna a thin smile over Corros' shoulder as the priestess draws back from her kiss.

Corros finishes his speech.  Nicolai nods approvingly, thumps Gronk on the shoulder, and steps out the door.  As he crosses the threshold, skin still tingling from Jenna's martial benediction, he gives his ring a half-twist.  The darkened skies begin to ripple with wings, dozens of ravens swirling in a vortex coordinated only by avian instinct and a scrap of Nicolai's will.

"Do you hear that, Bloodforged?" he asks, pitching his voice to carry over the growing corvine stormcloud.  "Do you see that?"  He stretches out a long arm, pointing downhill at the dancing fireflies and flickers of flame-kissed steel gathering in the River Ward's streets.  "That is Balefyre.  That is a city testing your chains."  The finger transfers its attention to Kreyg.  "That is a fight you cannot win.  You may be able to take this street but you will find no buyer," a measure of his earlier contempt rolls back into his voice, "willing to take a city soaked in the amount of blood you will have to shed tonight."

Starting with yours.  The Ardani's stance remains theatrically casual but his goddess' icy touch is singing in his veins.  The stretch of cobbles between himself and Kreyg is already as familiar as a lover's bed.  The albino's skin flies flags of surrender at each gap in his armor.  The dagger's hilt is a cold promise against his wrist.  This won't be sword work.

This message had punctuation tweaked by the player at 23:39, Tue 22 Nov 2016.

Raellus
 GM, 682 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Thu 24 Nov 2016
at 02:16
Re: Chapter 5: Occupied

Kreyg's pale eyes burn with the cold fire of barely suppressed rage, but the rest of his porcelain features belie doubt and, perhaps, even a little fear. A pervading sense of danger hangs heavy over the entire torch-lit scene, a pregnant pause that threatens to give birth at any moment to slaughter. The dread is cut by an uncertainty, the faint promise of détente lingering on the shoulders of the obvious path to violence.

The mercenary captain signals his men to hold fast, then gestures to his senior officers. A brief confab ensues. Resolved, Kreyg turns his pink irises back to his accusers.

"Fuck this one-horse town!" he spits. "This place isn't worth another minute of our time. You want it back, you can have it. We'll leave come morning. You or anyone else gets in our way, there will be blood."

Kreyg turns to his lieutenant and issues orders. The mustachioed man rounds up a detachment of about thirty men and leads them on the double towards the nearby docks, presumably to secure the company's modes of egress. Kreyg takes the rest of the mercenaries- 70 men, give or take- and heads back to the Gate Ward. The ring is broken, the conspiracy, unmasked, survives. It seems almost too easy.

The evacuation takes all night. After collecting the rest of his men and about two-dozen high-value hostages from the keep, Kreyg's first stop is Fire Hall, his intent rather obvious. The city treasury is emptied of its last golden dregs and the council building, one of the oldest and grandest in the entire city, put to the torch, a final "fuck you" to the city that has caused Kreyg and his men so much grief. From the blazing city hall, the company marches directly towards the docks. A few small parties of would-be freelancers break away from the main body to conduct a little looting of their own. These stragglers are met with resistance, and many fall to angry mobs, stiffened by a backbone of gangsters, union brawlers, and Overmark's rebels. Kreyg leaves the renegades to their fate.

Gronk joins the mobs, encouraging the Bloodforged to move quickly and forsake any detours to plunder. Corros and Muzz Breakwater head to the docks to move what they can of the fishing fleet out of harm's way. The young warlock manages to round up enough able-bodied men to row Swordfish out of the harbor as well.

Just before boarding a pair of sway-backed cogs, the departing Bloodforged set Jet Spear alight, depriving Balefyre of half of its seminal navy and reducing the chances of pursuit. Nearly a fortnight ago, 200 red-armored mercenaries arrived in Balefyre. This morning, less than 170 sail away, accompanied by a few collaborators, including Councilman Vander's traitorous elder son. And then, with the ebb tide, the red menace passes into recent memory.

A sense of normalcy quickly returns to the city in the wake of the Redcloaks' abrupt departure. The citizens of Balefyre, freed from their red-lacquered chains, get right back to business. The taverns, shops, and houses of ill repute reopen; citizens visit the temples to give thanks for their deliverance; merchant ships once again come and go from a once again bustling harbor, and hopeful would-be prospectors hike north on the wagon trail to Yonder's Hole.

The foreign buyers quietly skip town soon after the Bloodforged. The Varimori emissary is not pleased with his unnatural captivity but he appears to bear the city itself no grudge. He probably realizes that he was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar and that he could easily end up dangling from the end of a lynch mob's rope if he doesn't step carefully. He leaves his captors with a few choice words and the warning that he will see to it that they do not find welcome in the Kingdom of Varimor.

Despite modestly trying to keep a low profile, the Four are widely lauded as heroes. Vernar Vander, eager to hitch his political wagon to their rising star, gifts the Four his illicit love nest, comfortably furnished, to go along with the decidedly humbler Balint House. The heroes soon discover that they very rarely have to pay for their own drinks anymore, and it's hard to walk down the street without having to stop and shake some grateful citizen's hand.

It's election season, and Vander plays up his own "integral part in the resistance". Consequently, the wealthy merchant's popularity soars, and he parleys the momentum from his landslide Harbor Ward victory into the Lord Mayorship, replacing the disgraced Corlis Bragge. Lord Mayor Vander's first official act as head of the Fire Council is to declare the Four "Heroes of Balefyre" and award them the key to the city, ordering four platinum medals struck as in their honor as soon as supplies are available. Muzz Breakwater and Pudo the Elder retain their seats on the Fire Council; Veloura Dame, the "Golden Widow", never particularly popular in the city, loses hers. Dame and Bragge are replaced by...

With the promise of increased funding (once the platinum fields give up their hidden bounty), Overmark is restored to her rightful post as commandant of the Fire Watch. She embarks on the difficult task of rebuilding the city guard around a small core of 25 remaining loyalists. With the city coffers bare, she has to do this on the cheap. Without consulting them first, Gronk volunteers the Four to help train the new recruits, pro bono.

A cold but quiet winter passes, and spring arrives from the south. Prospectors begin to return with from Yonder's Hole with platinum; whispered rumors of a mother lode strike soon follow.

Congratulations, you've levelled up!


Your Turn.

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This message was last edited by the GM at 17:10, Thu 24 Nov 2016.

Raellus
 GM, 692 posts
 Sage
 Raconteur
Mon 5 Dec 2016
at 01:56
Postlogue

Not much of detail is known of the Four's activities during the period between the ejection of the Bloodforged and the chilling news from Yonder's Hole. The bard Ladesra's epic Lay of the Five, from which much of the titular adventuring party's history is derived, is fairly quiet on the interstice.

From what we can piece together, and thanks in large part to his patronage of Balefyre's burgeoning bardic scene, Nicolai Romanelli spent much of his time developing contacts within the larger community. Due to the inherently secret nature of intelligence work, the details of Nic's activities are sparse.

Corros Graelor and Jenna Drax spent most of their free time in one another's company. For the sake of propriety, their activities will remain undiscussed within these pages.

Corros continued to search for clues as to the nature of the Sleeper. The destruction of most of the tomes kept in the city library made his investigation considerably more challenging. The city's diverse priesthood shared tales, similar in theme and moral, if differing in detail, of powerful demons summoned by foolhardy individuals or nefarious orders, none of which ended well for any involved. Although what was known about the Sleeper at that time seemed to fit that template, Corros was not able to find conclusive evidence to confirm that hypothesis.

Jenna devoted much of her time to prayer, spending countless hours prostrate on the floor of Arma's temple, growing in wisdom and grace under the tutelage of Brother Jaro. Much of her sense of guilt- especially that deriving from her relationship with Corros- departed as she took to heart the teaching that Arma cared little about what the true did in their personal lives, as long as their work was devoted to protecting others.

Gronk's not-so-subtle attempts to woo Kara Overmark came to naught, leading to a brief period of self-destructive behavior, much of which took place at the Pit. His companions were eventually able to pull him out of his depression and set him back on a more constructive, self-respecting path.

Balefyre soon surpassed the bustle and prosperity immediately preceding the first closure of the mines, and the city's subsequent occupation. Every day, ships came and went by the dozen, their cargoes swelling the city's warehouses. Prospectors began to return from Yonder's Hole bearing first flakes, then nuggets, then large chunks of pure platinum, and rumors of striking the motherlode soon spread far and wide.

With tariff and tax revenue pouring into its coffers, Balefyre's treasury recovered rapidly. Flush with cash, the Council began a nearly unprecedented spending spree. Fire Hall was repaired and refurbished; Fire Watch pay doubled, helping city watch strength to double as well (to 50, still less than half pre-occupation rolls); the bounty of 1000 gold pieces owed to the Five for services rendered was finally issued. Things seemed to be going quite well...

End of Chapter 5


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This message was last edited by the GM at 01:57, Mon 05 Dec 2016.