TI4.04 part one: Blood on Sarnas Cathedral steps

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat and curative schools

Crompton, L3 rogue, roguery and Runebearer background

Jotunn, L6 warrior, hunter background and tracking talent

Cauleigh, L4 warrior, literate townsman background

The four Restorers are in Sarnas, major city of the Sarnmark, and have entree to the library, reputedly their best chance to find solid leads on the whereabouts of Ikkutas. But a couple of peculiar murders in the vicinity of the Abbey grounds mean their guard is up. 

Jotunn fills in the time

Jotunn has successfully kept Elisha from following the others. Now, towards evening, he arrives back at the Porters Arms for dinner. Word of mouth passes to him:

“We’ve all gone out to the Drunken Nixie – Cheers! PS we may have lead on the weird killer”

Having thrown back the last of the ale, he hastens towards the park and finds the Drunken Nixie. His comrades are no longer there. He’s moments away from a decent meal when he hears patrons discussing soldiers patrolling the Abbey.

“Excuse me! Did you say soldiers patrolling?”

[DAROs to L3 CHR]

The youngster spots him as one of the Restorers and offers to take him there. Explaining, as they hasten through the darkened streets, that its some of the garrison. They are just in time! A small patrol, of four pikemen and two lantern-bearing swordsmen, are just headed away.

The youngster leaves without asking for a tip, leaving Jotunn visible to the patrol.

“Good evening!”

“He’s the dwarf ‘at was with Elisha,” one of the soldiers mutters to the others

[L3 LK SR, he makes L4]

The leader looks familiar. Jotunn recalls meeting him somewhere around Fingold, serving the west faction.

“You look familiar?”

“You want on this patrol? Looking for your friend?”

This is Musger, a sergeant once more.

As they set off, one of the pikemen explains:

“Two of our men have been killed around here – we aim ta see that don’t happen agin!”

It’s about a twenty-minute walk, at brisk soldier pace, through dark spaces and patches of window-light. Even the main street they use for most of the walk depends for its light on the occasional door-lamp. The weather remains chill and slightly misty, threatening rain.

After crossing what Jotunn now knows is the main street between palace and bridge, Musger decides to forge straight on for the Abbey grounds:

“The last killing was bridge-side. Let’s cover that ground, see what we might see.”

As the patrol progresses alongside the Merchant Guild, the enormous bulk of the Cathedral blocks out the few visible stars on the left horizon. Ahead, three dimly-seen stubby forms seem to be snooping about…

 

The company unites – but where’s the mystery?

After seeing a couple of people that may be a little hinky, Cauleigh Fennec and Crompton decide to do a late-late evening patrol, counter-clockwise around the grounds. And Crompton glimpses a pallid figure, half-seen in the gloom and evening mist, near one of the mausoleums.

But before they can run across the cemetery in pursuit, bobbing lanterns are to be seen, approaching them clockwise. And, after challenges and recognition, that unites Jotunn with his comrades. They explain to one another. But by this time, Crompton is no longer even sure what he saw.

With the aid of lanterns bobbing around the dwarves can see that one of the graves is open. Cauleigh’s torch-cube beams its powerful white beam into a recently-disinterred grave. There’s no sign of the body. Crompton confirms this is the site where he saw that bobbing bushy head.

As they consider reasons and necromancers, Sgt Musger reintroduces himself. As for why he’s now working here:

“It’s a matter of a professional seeking professional employment – Fingold went all amateur.”

He invites them all to finish the patrol, and offers to meet and talk over old times. The patrol is the same type of armed men that were murdered, and as Musger confirms (using the same words his pikeman did earlier) they are here because of the murders.

Their recollections have come up with the name of Osusk, necromancer (or ‘necromantier’ Musger says) and the sergeant makes a note. As for the pallid figure, Fennec seems to think it must have been an acolyte, based on nothing in particular, though Crompton, the only one to meet an acolyte, does agree he was pale.

“What building did you think it went into?” Cauleigh asks.

 

An unofficial suggestion

Immediately before them, looking west from the grave, is a large solemn building proudly bearing the legend, ‘Mausoleum of Heroes.’ Crompton is inclined to think it may be this one. But the gate seems close-bolted, and when a soldier rattles the gate it stays that way. Without his toolkit, Crompton can’t tell if the lock is rigged. And he’s beginning to second-guess himself. He looks about.

Looking south there is at least one other building. And there is an easy path from the cemetery lawn, across a robbed wall, to the clergy-house. Crompton mentions the suspicious acolyte from his visit.

“We can’t investigate… officially…” Musger comments significantly, and gestures Crompton aside.

“If you were to talk to the priest” – he breaks off and gets the name from one of his men – “If you were to speak to a chap named Severin, chief acolyte, and were to get a strong suspicion of wrongdoing, we could investigate.”

 

A second disturbed grave

His men are literally kicking their heels and they now fan out and walk right into the inner grounds. The dwarves follow them past a Mausoleum of Barons, and beyond inside the cloister past the Bishop’s Palace, a well-lit and imposing building separate from the Cathedral, and to an inner cemetery with much more imposing memorial stones. And here, another disturbed grave.

Fennec picks up a strip of cloth at the site. Judging from it, the body was swaddled quite some time ago.

“I’m thinking each of the graves has a different reason to be opened,” Fennec judges.

“We need to re-tool and come back, if we turn up nothing so be it, but we shouldn’t just leave it at this,” Cauleigh suggests.

“It might pay for one of us to wait here,” Jotunn begins but Fennec quickly points out that danger is afoot now, and Cauleigh fills him in about the mystery woman and the thug-type, seen at the Drunken Nixie.

A scud of rain persuades the soldiers they’ve done as much as they can. As they file out one of them rattles the gates of the second mausoleum: they too seem solidly locked.

“We’ll just say we’re working for the watch,” Cauleigh proposes but Musger corrects him: the garrison is not the town watch. This is an unofficial patrol – which is why they can’t do things officially. He leaves with a casual salute and an offer to catch up, either at the Jealous Hag alchemist, or the Old Alehouse at the South Gate.

 

Gearing up and a diversion

They pass from the workmanlike Abbey area to the more boisterous Upper Harbour. Nighttime entertainments and cheery shouts fill the damp, unlit streets. The dwarves mostly have things to get out of lockup, now Jotunn is back with them. They withdraw (and deposit) chosen gear and head back to the Porters Arms to change into workaday clothes.

Jotunn gives a moan of pain when one of the servants tells them “we din’t wait supper” but discovers the usual breakfast leftovers and climbs into them.

They head through a scud of rain, beating into their faces and make their way around towards the Abbey grounds.

“What about that suspiciously-behaving cleric?” Fennec asks, but as it’s the middle of the night, and they are geared for action, the idea of knocking up the clergy-house is voted down.

But before they get quite to within sight of the cemetery, Crompton catches sight of Osusk, and they follow him all the way back through dark streets to the mortuary, where he has some sort of business, and then to a three-story building near the east docks and east wall. There’s a smell of preserving fluid alchemy in the wet air, but it carries the smell of charred timbers, as well. Jotunn marks a building, probably once a stables, lying close enough to Osusk’s great house, to probably allow chimney-style climbing, and they leave.

Ambush!

It is very late, it has been a long day, all save Jotunn are very tired. But Crompton’s eyes are shining with Cateyes and he urges,

“Before this spell runs out, let’s get back to the Abbey!”

They hasten, Crompton using short-cuts to trim what would otherwise be a mile’s walk, [L3 SR, DAROs to 23] and soon come in sight of the monstrous bulk of the Cathedral. They swing counter-clockwise. As it looms taller on their left flank, and they cross what appears to be a little waste-ground between masons and glaziers, Fennec [misses L2 LK SR, makes L5 IQ SR with a tiredness penalty of 1 level] mutters:

“We’re being followed at speed, do we want to ambush them?”

“Yes, but let’s not be too hasty, it could be a reporter,” Cauleigh retorts. They make their way left and up towards the massive Cathedral Porch, and as Cauleigh delays to make sure his fellows are secure, an unseen hand drives a blade down between neck and shoulder and towards his heart! But by good fortune it grates off his magical Shield of Tahana, the same that he had prudently retrieved from the lockup, and he is still alive! There’s a muffled sound as something leaps away, and as Cauleigh himself leaps to safety there’s a rush of men at the dwarves.

Fennec hurls a L3 TTYF at the leader, obvious due to the fancy two-hander sword he’s wielding, and there’s a purplish flash and percussion as the spell goes off. He notices the colour of the blast is more akin to the purple he began his career with. The leader staggers back! Jotunn jumps among four shabbily-armoured cutthroats, as they use slings to wreak havoc on the other three.

[All slings hit. Owing to the removal of Jotunn the 116 damage has to be shared by the other three. Cauleigh is already down 10 and armour among them is scant. So they all drop to single-digit CON.]

Jotunn’s unexpected advance has caught the swordsman off-guard. Before he can draw a handaxe for close work [rival SPD rolls, Jotunn wins easily] Jotunn is on him. Fennec hurls a Glue You and Jotunn lays him low.

Crompton has already readied his attack: he has called tempus fugit and Vorpalled his axe, and Cauleigh downs one with a thrown dagger [L6 DEX] then they storm the other three. Hideous death cries sound: blood sprays widely, drenching the ground as far as the Porch and splashing across the processional for some yards.

“Thank goodness we got changed,” Cauleigh observes.

There’s a cry of alarm from the glaziers, lights indicate people will investigate the commotion and unexpectedly, the great door to the Cathedral begins to open.

“Quick, loot and go!”

Fennec casts a Detect Magic to pick what it was that stopped his TTYF, and they take a bracer off the leader, as well as his purse and fancy sword, then run counter-clockwise towards the park.

This is the first group combat of the season and an interesting one. First, the “assassination” style attack, which we have seen before, with LK SR to avoid dying outright. Then, in the brief exchange of spells and missiles and stunts, because of player-elected actions, the missile fire from the other side is not countered by anything, while the swordsman is taken down exclusively. 

Aftermath

After briefly strategising, Fennec pops into the Drunken Nixie, and buys two large flagons of wine. The other three use the wine to soak over the blood, then the four return to the Porters Arms. Jotunn pretends to hold the “drunken” pair up as they pass by a sleepy night-porter and safe to their room.

Fennec is now an adept of the Curative school. He has time and space to concentrate here, and provides 56 CON Poor Baby in short order.

“I’m pretty sure that ugly was the same ugly that was planning to shank me at the Nixie,” Cauleigh mentions as they assess the loot. The bracer is plain, save for a scorpion design on it. The sword is very fancy, with fair-quality gems on the hilts, and what looks like mithril intaglio on the blade. It will have to be hidden away in lockup.

[The dwarves spend some AP. Cauleigh moves LK to 39, Crompton takes Roguery to Apprentice (+5), Jotunn moves SPD to 29, while Fennec moves LK to 25 and SPD to 24.]

 

 

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About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
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