The characters for this session
Fennec, L2 wizard
Cauleigh, L3 warrior (with burgher background)
Crompton, L2 rogue (Roguery talent, with Runebearer background)
It is the sleep of the truly weary that our heroes take, after the Adventurers Guild Council breaks up. And an all too short sleep it seems! For at the very first bell of the first watch of the day (and this being summer, think 5.30am in our time) comes the carrying tones of the town crier!
Oyez! Oyez! By this word let hit be k-nown! Let hall those due happointed of the Fingold Hadventurers Guild present themselves hat the citadel fer haudience with er grace the Duch-ess of Fingold hin Igh Council hat second watch! Hand there break their fast!
Crompton tries to shut the guy up then realizes this is not a dream, rises, and sees that Jotunn’s bed is rumpled. The hunter-warrior has slept for a short snatch then rolled out again.
Not troubling to look for a note Crompton dresses, slipping on uncomfortable sandals. He needs boots!
Spotting a small side-tunnel in the summoning chamber of the Barghest’s lair, Crompton leads the other three down. Cautioning Fennec not to lick the weird mushrooms he presses forward round a narrow bend, past crumbled valve seatings and into an ancient chamber where stands a relic-box.
And there he falls into a leg-breaker trap, and ruins his lovely leather calf boots!
Still, the value of the two large diamonds recovered will make up for the pain.
Back to the present:
Crompton makes his way round gallows lane and down Whitehorse street again, in a light morning mist. The watch-light’s glare over the citadel gate draws his eye briefly but he fails to note Lady Melissa out for her regular morning exercise, accompanied by one of her ‘tiring-women and a cudgelman.
Houses are so obviously still shut that Crompton does not bother knocking up his tailor, instead, on a whim, heading for the North Barracks.
Reveille must be early early there, and Chion’s regiment is already exercising. Crompton easily spots two Svelte rogues, obvious given their different build, attire and general air of being wide boys with swag.
Crompton proudly brags all the information Kamerad asked him not to pass on yesterday evening, leaving Ausecur and Ondsop nodding grimly to one another about payback, and chats a while. They too have had the summons and will be there at second watch sharp, and they seem pretty sure their services have been such that spells are on their way!
[Ah well, I say to Crompton’s player, no big deal, it’s the difference between remembering what’s said in the session and reading the blog.]
Horns in the dawn announce an attack
The other two Dwarves have sunk back to a doze but horns wake them. Fennec has a good sense of where sounds come from in the Guild halls [L3 IQ SR] and is first dressed, belting on his robe and tucking knives in it as he seizes his silver-shod staff.
“Let’s head along to the gate, south!”
Armour on and axe in hand Cauleigh jogs beside him along new wall street and they soon emerge beside the south-east gate. There, Lady Melissa, still in her exercise attire of dented iron hem and breastplate, is rallying the militia she exercised with, and leading them out the gate.
“For Fingold! Raise your bill-hooks and carry them against the enemy! Let each man kill a dozen before he lays down his life!”
“What’s the attack?” Cauleigh wants to know as they follow.
“Jotunn led some armed men and some millers to the mill, there’s fighting going on!” calls down one of the gate guard.
The two Dwarves catch Melissa, who is double-stepping, guarded by a lady’s maid and a cudgel-bearing courtier-soldier.
“Cauleigh! Fennec! With me!”
“Agreed! What’s the situation?”
Melissa has only seconds to explain as her tiny troop tramples across the foot-bridge leading to the millpond and mill. She manages something about a mission to re-establish the ballista and make the mill safe…
Then Fennec is peering up through the mist and spotting a pair of ratlike men perched on the mill:
“Oh Go Away!”
To his surprise (and delight) the ratmen utter screams of rage and run at him – and three floors up, that’s not healthy. Cauleigh winces as one crunches down on the weir and the other lands really badly, but follows up to where he heard Jotunn’s war-cry.
The sturdy hunter seems sore wounded, and Cauleigh is only fast enough to see the last item of clothing being dropped as three huge rats plunge into the water on the other side of the islet. That side is the fast-rushing river proper and they are carried rapidly downstream, angling towards the opposite bank.
“Shoot! Bring them down!” Cauleigh yells to the pickets poking their noses up opposite, but the enemy either can’t hear him or know not to fire at their own.
Fennec has paused at a body he recognizes as one of the adventurers, a quietly spoken artisan of some type. He trickles enough healing into the man to prevent death, and heads over to examine Jotunn.
The hunter has taken an arrow between the armour plates, deep through his upper left breast.
“This will take more skill than I have… let’s get you back to the Guild and some specialist care.”
[Jotunn’s player can’t make this session for good reason. I soloed out a little mission to give him some compensation AP. He takes 40 off CON trying to protect his team, Quest is hit seriously and Larson falls to negative CON. All ratmen are driven off or killed, the ballista rigged atop the mill is re-enchanted, and the crooked millers terminated.
Crompton’s player plays one of the militia, wielding a simple polearm such as a voulge or billhook.]
Ready for the big occasion
Since it’s now broad daylight Cauleigh looks for Crompton, finds him back at the Guild, and the pair knock up their favorite cobbler. Cauleigh books up a second pair of fine boots and Crompton books a replacement pair.
Fennec is dressed in his finest robe when they get back. “Hurry up lads, the Council – and food – aren’t going to wait our convenience!” The pair start polishing things.
“There’s been a lot of bustle below – missions galore!” Fennec updates them. “All for the same thing – new-fledged wizards and rogues taking a scroll and enchanting a ballista. Easy money! They’ve all gone, of course.”
The other pair finish their preparation and the trio swagger along to the citadel.
The High Council
[Protocol, in fact ‘an occasion’, is hard to ‘show’ adventurers. I take my time getting the order of seating clear.]
The food and drink are done with – for now, it’s better quality than they eat on the Guild – and the long table is occupied.
Head of table: Duchess Melissa of Fingold. Unusually (in fact uniquely, in the Dwarves’ experience) she is dressed in finery and has jewels in her hair. Behind her stand both her ladies in waiting and one courtier-soldier.
At her right, representing the spiritual power: Righteous Filbard, High Priest of Ikmal Iron-bringer. Behind him stand all five veteran bearers.
From his right, along that flank of the table:
Ausecur; and dragging a stool in close, Ondsop, representing Hathlisveit’s interests (and their own!) No sign of Kamerad. The two Sveltes are working hard on their swag, way out of their league here.
Two of Chion’s regiment file-leaders representing the regiment, chosen by vote: Twill and Sayer.
Cauleigh representing the Guild and the Dwarves in general; and also dragging stools in close, Fennec and Crompton. Cauleigh has already reminded them about not making penis jokes.
At Melissa’s left, QMGLC Saundra, in finery and bejeweled, as usual. Behind her sit her usual coterie of four or five abacus-men and clerks.
From Saundra’s left, on that flank of the table:
The master gunner;
Bless and Gena representing the Guild, snuggled close so they can share notes. (“Yeah, right” snorts Fennec, but to himself.)
[No-one comments that there is no representative of, say, the gentry, or the townsfolk. I guess that means I’ve got the autocratic nature of Fingold across OK?]
The Dwarves are surprised to see Bless must be short-sighted, she uses a monocle type of eyeglass to read with. She’s got her hair up and is dressed in a fine wizard robe. Gena is wearing a robe too, but can’t have had time to have one made up, and patches of wear on it suggest it’s her old navigator’s attire. It’s embroidered with emerald and turquoise thread, depicting river scenes.
Looking left Cauleigh notices that Righteous Filbard is peering with intense curiosity across and down, at Gena. Or on second thought, [IQ SR] it’s more likely he’s short-sighted and is simply trying to make sure he’s seeing her right. Then Melissa opens the high council.
“My thanks and welcome to you all. Let us open our high council with a prayer from Righteous Filbard, High Priest of Fingold’s new official deity, Ikmal Iron-bringer.”
Filbard seems to be trilingual and says a short prayer in common, then Dwarven, then (fluently, as far as any of the Dwarves know) in Elven.
Melissa thanks him and continues her introduction. The agenda is to agree on an order of proceeding. She quickly outlines the first two points agreed by the Guild and looks around.
“Eet ees zis way, Milady,” Bless explains, poorly [I warn the guys I am shit at generic Latina accents and do a really bad job with this. Bless’s reputation declines even further with them if that is possible. Poor Bless! She’s supposed to be based on a vaguely Spanish version of Marietta from Log Horizon.] “Ze Guild also sink ze matter of getting Righteous Filbard down to Level Six need attention – ‘e being needed, bot not mobile – ees urgent we larn ‘oo team wiz ‘oo.” Much eye-rolling from the Dwarves but it is added at the bottom of the things that need to be decided, as a sub-point to the second major point:
- Assault the vampiress on Level Six, and throw down the evil shrine churning out zombies
– Senior adventurers to coordinate with Righteous Filbard how to transport him down!
There is an update from the Arch-magi on the preparedness against ooh, say, Drake attack. “That was a nasty surprise,” he rumbles, “but each ballista has been readied against a fire creature.” He has dark smudges under his eyes – he’s been prepping scrolls non-stop.
Melissa speaks briefly to remind the table of the grand plan – the Hathlisveit regiment will assault the lines!
“And those Mother-of-pearl pieces were fine,” Ausecur tells her, “we’ll have a clear trail to follow!”
“But the assault to break the siege has been put in jeopardy,” Melissa continues, “for the enemy seem to know it is imminent.”
Shocked and angry, Twill and Sayer leap to their feet! Cauleigh (who is wearing his cloak of plausibility) mutters them down, more or less. [Fail-forward CHR SR] But Filbard, seeing they are not about to say anything, creaks:
“I for one would like to know how the strategy came to be revealed.”
“I too would be most interested to know,” Saundra says in offended tones.
[It was Fennec! At the Adventurers Guild Council he spoke about what the regiment was going to do, and everyone there heard him say quite specifically that the assault would begin after next mage-duel.]
Gena stands and bows deeply to the head of the table.
“Do I know you, young lady?” wheezes Filbard. Gena once again bows, saying:
“Righteous Filbard, defender of the Dwarven faith, it has been these one-score year and three since we met by the river. It is the fortune of my folk that we recall each and every shallow and bend, and I plied my trade as navigator there. Happenstance brought me within these walls some score of months since, and here have I stayed.”
Then, she turns to Saundra – and Cauleigh once again mentally congratulates the Guild on selecting this serious and intelligent Elf – and says:
“Most Serene Countess, Lady Saundra, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Quartermaster-General, Defender of Fingold’s Walls, Knight of the West March, my apologies. It is common knowledge in the Guild.”
That seems to be all the explanation there is! But the lady Saundra seems to accept it.
[Flattery – getting all the titles lined up – gets you a long way!
At this point Fennec is curmudgeonly rather than grateful for being bailed out, but I choose not to play it as if he is speaking loudly across the table. I will retain his behaviour for future dealing with the fleeburns though.
Crompton’s player adds that once the newbies at the Council work it out, it spreads across the groups and out to the town.]
Crompton followed by Cauleigh suggests that a diversion come from the town itself, to sow doubt among the enemy as to their intel. [10AP each] Melissa catches fire:
“I shall scrape the walls, I shall leave babes and grandfathers alone, a thousand shall march!”
There’s no so much a wet cloth flung on this, it’s more, well, let’s just parse this out and see what the benefits and dangers are.
There are several options for diversions. Each gate offers a possibility, and the time of evening can be changed too. After discussion in which only the master gunner takes no part (he’s there, but is intent on volunteering nothing) the advantages of the large assembly areas on the city’s west hold sway. A thousand (roughly) can be marched out quickly from the west gate and the west way gate.
Obviously one of the alternatives is to grit teeth and stick it out some more, but Melissa at least is inclined to say, this way if we lose we have definitely lost, and can plead for terms. Perhaps her unspoken thought is, and I’ll be dead and pity the fool who tries to wed Saundra. The table is brought along with her. Saundra for example makes no opposing note to this at all. Bless might privately think, the longer the siege, the more drops, but says nothing.
There are a number of things that such a force can do – for example Cauleigh suggests that Righteous Filbard could act as a mobile fortress with them – but cutting through the west siege lines, swinging south and rolling up the weak southern siege lines seems as much as can be expected, so that’s what is eventually agreed. Marching within sight of the walls, so that they don’t get lost, dictates a lot of the strategy. For its part Chion’s regiment will head north, march slightly east, and loop back south, so as to break through the lines and assault the fire-mage’s headquarters direct.
Should the Fire-mage be removed the assault effort will swing to the Adventurers Guild, who are following promising leads for getting to Level Six. The High Priest has volunteered to help purge the zombie-generating temple, and the Guild is keen to take down the vampiress. There’s some minutiae not understood by any but Bless and the Arch-magi about lowering a hefty Dwarf with his litter down a deep crevasse, then the Council concludes. The Arch-magi signals Fennec. Cauleigh follows Fennec. It is to Cauleigh he turns first.
“I had a recollection of the falchion being mentioned in our Sarn Athrad Archive – but in fact it turns out it was a color piece in the Sarnas Tribune – so now that you have been warned it is tabloid journalism this is what I found…”
(Here, the Arch-magi refers to notes in hieratic Dwarven)
“It’s said that a Uruk-hai, right-hand of a Uruk sorcerer, wielded the falchion in the last days of Tor Tarqol before the Death Goddess arrival. Supposedly, he clove the breast of Maglos the High Elf, rallying his forces and crying Elfblood! Elfdeath! in the common tongue.
“Another tale of later days has it that a Uruk-kin descendant of this Uruk-hai rallied his forces and over-awed the Elves at the river by crying Malindor! Malindordol!
“You could try both command phrases. However I notice that the silver intaglio is new and there’s no potential magic – it could be that the blade needs to be reactivated with the blood of an Elf.”
As Cauleigh ponders this not-so-great news the Arch-magi turns to Fennec.
“I have not had time to identify those interesting items you sent by. Hands full, sorry. A dozen spells to teach every day for some time to come, I think.”
“Speaking of spell-teaching,” Fennec rejoins, rolling a huge white diamond about in his hand, “I’d be keen to learn another.”
Crompton catches up to the little group, gulping down the last extra morsels he grabbed. “I want some of that action too,” he adds, rolling a matching diamond around in his hand!
[I’m still working my way through the new-to-me rules on spell teaching but agree the Arch-mage can fast-imprint Hidey Hole for Fennec and Cateyes for Crompton given how important the assault on the Fire mage is to the city.]
The monsters are breaking in!
The Adventurers Guild rings with cries of alarm and clangor of arms! Hearing that the goblins on Level Two seems to be about to break through, the trio hurry to the entry room, catching up that newbie who distinguished himself beside them in the dawn, and joining some of the Wanderers and City Boys who are armed with a mish-mash of polearms and lighter weapons. Khali hangs back waiting for her chance to use her attack spell. Fennec waits near her, craning his neck to get a view; Crompton readies Jotunn’s arquebus; Cauleigh shoulders his way forward.
“Stand ready lads,” Cauleigh (who is still wearing his cloak) calls. “They may have a Cobblepot but we have the numbers.”
“It’s Catoblepas,” Fennec corrects him from back at the doorway. He will do so again before the day is done. “I have a plan! When it gets to where you can all strike I’ll cast. Then, hit it a lot.”
Sure enough the goblins have cleared enough stone that the Catoblepas can ram its way through! Stone blocks topple into the room and the mighty, bone-armored magical beast powers through.
The wizard’s tactics work fairly well, allowing Cauleigh time enough to duck under the low-slung belly and strike up at tendons and less-armored flesh with his enchanted kukri. But a pair of agile goblins leap atop the beast.
WHAMMM!! Khali must have trained at much the same school of magic as Fennec, her powered-up TTYF glows purplish like his. A Goblin is flung backward. Her working day over, Khali pulls back further.
BOOM! Crompton’s shot is accurate and the other goblin is also flung back. Crompton hands the arquebus to the guy his two comrades think is handy. Who looks blankly at it and sets it down carefully.
Polearms and sword blades lance into the great beast’s flanks as Fennec’s spell slows it to a crawl.
“Keep at it lads! This Catball won’t stand much longer!”
“It’s Catoblepas Cauleigh, what did I just tell you?”
As the beast slumps Cauleigh nips clear. But that puts him in close proximity to four bull goblins, bulky with muscle and looking for blood and loot. Suddenly Crompton vaults across the throng, bounds up off the carcass, and lands beside him.
With kukri and vorpalled axe the fight is won, goblins further back decide not to press forward, and the job of rebuilding the stone block barricade begins. The newbies cheerfully toss goblin corpses back out to the goblin side, build the barricade, and look forward to a judgement as to whether the huge bull-like magical beast counts as clean enough to eat.
As soon as they dare, the trio hurry below to see how the senior groups fare.
The grand tunnel has been partially blocked off since Jotunn suggested it be fully blocked, creating a killing zone. It is choked with mighty bodies and the foul stench of dead zombies comes from the piles heaped around the crude walls.
The heavy hitters and Lefties are tired but fit. The Dwarves chat about the assault this evening, help drag corpses away, and wonder aloud about what to do about Drakes, Fire mages and so on. Seeing Crompton generously making sure Fennec has two magic knives, Damper unclips a wand from his belt and offers it on loan.
“It’ll snuff out flame on the command word ‘abbas!’ It does need mana though.”
“I can use it,” Cauleigh assures him. “Thanks for the loan! Say, I don’t see billhooks around here.”
“Thank you, we did think about using them, but, no…”
Shaking his head at their strange insistence on using powerful magic weapons instead of billhooks, Cauleigh pats his powerful magic weapon in its sheath and heads back up for a rest.
Later the Dwarves hear that Level One defense received only a token attack, soon broken off with no losses on either side.
[I don’t quite recall why the newbie militiaman is present at the fighting on Level Two. The Dwarves all seemed pretty keen for him to be inducted as a new wizard, so he was. Good enough reason I guess. He had a good fight too, I didn’t do him justice above. Though it did get quite confusing so best left this way. I seem to recall Crompton’s player names him Max.]
The last part of the afternoon is spent resting (for Cauleigh) and learning spells (for the other two). And the early part of this extra session ends.