Campaign of the Month: March 2008

The Nemedian Chronicles

Chapter 8, Session 2


The Morning After

The mercenaries ate breakfast at the inn and Katos met them there to lead them to Baron Timeon’s palace. The party passed a wide boulevard near the Golden Circle, where money and stolen goods often changed hands, loud trumpets brayed out, followed by an expectant murmur of the crowd, The Street cleared to make way for a procession. A large group of Ophirean cavalry pranced by, followed by numerous courtiers dressed in gaudy finery. Behind them rode General Iskandrian, a proud veteran with a shock of white hair belyied the strength still apparent in his bulged neck. This was the man who would determine the future of Ophir. Behind him, in a litter, rode King Valdric, a frail old man in obvious poor health. Across his lap laid a long gem-encrusted staff, the royal scepter of Ophir. Behind him rode another large unit of cavalry. They passed by.

Sandwiched between a temple to Mitra and a pottery shop, stood a small pretentious palace. Tastelessly brocaded columns ran across the front veranda. Wide marble steps decorated with poorly carved flowers led up to two huge bronze doors which bore the Timeon crest, two red wolves on a field of deep blue. The crest might have been impressive, except that the wolves were smiling rather than snarling. Katos mounted the steps and looked a little pale. "I wish Darios might have been here,” he whispered. "It will mean great grief he has been murdered. He was the Baron’s favorite”

Tullweim pounded on the door, and a thin, sour-aired chamberlain opened it and asked their business. The chamberlain, Vanemoth, was irritatingly condescending, even to Katos, and insisted that the Baron was too busy to be bothered with any military trifles that day. It appeared Katos had fallen out of favor. It was also obvious Vanemoth considered the mercenaries’ tattered clothing and foreign accents abominable and would rather not see them again. Lady Julia cursed him loudly. A threat from Tullweim and Cuana cowed the chamberlain and gained the party admittance.

The chamberlain disappeared up some ornate stairs. As they party waited, they looked about and noticed the palace’s garish decor. Flimsy furniture, pretty flowers, and second-rate tapestries abounded.

The mercenaries soon heard a shout from above and saw the chamberlain retreat down the hall backwards, he bowed as he went. A balding man in a silk robe approached, his stomach bulged, his pasty little legs popped in and out from beneath his brocaded gown. He was obviously drunk, “What is all this noise? I’ve told you, Vanemoth, never to disturb me while I’m researching! What do those stinking barbars want?”

Lady Julia laughed at the Baron’s appearance, which drew a deep scowl. Katos introduced the mercenaries, and recommended that the Baron hire them, Baron Timeon offered 2,000 sp a month for the entire troop. This was not enough for the mercenaries and a combination of Dhak’s serpentine tongue and Timeon’s drunkeness led to an agreement of 3,000 sp a month. Baron Timeon insisted that the Crimson Wolves live in the palace and stable their horses there, but they were to maintain a separate kitchen. He wanted none of their cooking odors to interfer with his own meals. The mercenaries were housed on the fourth floor. The Baron then drunkenly swaggered over to Tullweim and threw an arm around his shoulder. “My great ally,” he muttered confidentially, “Count Antimedes will be pleased that I have employed some more troops, particularly if he should decide to seize the throne. Not, of course, that he would ever dream of such a thing. The Count has no such desires. He is a noble man far above such petty politics. But be ready.”

The Baron thought momentarily, then instructed the adventurers they would be on an expedition first thing the next morning. The baron would also accompany them. They were to meet 20 mules and their drivers at the Carellan Stables, and would leave at dawn. The Baron gave them a letter which allowed them to bring their troops to the palace, where they were to be lodged, and take up their guard duties. Katos remained to speak with the Baron privately while the mercenaries went back out into the city.

As the party moved about the wide boulevards flanked by domes and towers ornamented with metal, they saw a multitude of voluminous hooded robes gathered around an auction block. On the block stood many male and female slaves, clothed only in simple loincloths. Some were sold for manual labor, others sold for their beauty and intimate talents. As the company passed by, they heard a scream from the block as a beautiful woman escaped the grasp of her slaver and ran toward the company, with 5 slavers on her heels. The slave girl begged Tullweim for release as she was dragged back to the block. Tullweim and Cuana approached the slave block and Tullweim offered to buy the woman from Urian the slaver, 70 sp exchanged hands. The woman was a pretty, young Ophirian named Accalia. The party continued towards the gate and picked up the cook Fabio on the way.

They showed the papers Baron Timeon provided to them to the gatekeepers and were allowed to don their armor and lead their troops to the Baron’s palace. Once there they set up a watch and prepared for the next day’s journey.

In the Wilderness

It was just past dawn, the air was chill. The adventurers’ horses’ breath showed like fog. The men had gathered outside the palace and awaited the Baron’s arrival. They waited longer than deemed necessary, but Baron Timeon finally approached, now agonizingly sober, he looked quite a different man, and said, “I do not yet trust you. I do not intend to tell you where we are headed until we have left ”/campaign/nemedian-chronicles/wikis/ianthe" class=“wiki-page-link”> Ianthe, and, in addition, I require hostages." A window high in the palace opened, Torali and Accalia stepped up to it, an unknown figure stood behind the two girls with a drawn sword. Tullweim and Lady Julia were furious, but Timeon also insisted that Julia remain behind as a hostage or Accalia and Torali would be immediately thrown from the window. Lady Julia agreed and went inside the palace. Baron Timeon promised they would be well cared for. Tullweim said if any of the ladies were harmed there would be hell to pay. The Baron nodded and responded in cold earnest that all he need do is withdraw his patronage and they would immediately be subject to arrest and impalement for bringing an armed force into Ianthe without noble patronage. Affairs were settled and the company moved on, sans the 15 mercenaries left behind to guard Timeon’s palace.

They rode up to the largest stables in Ianthe, which were smelled long before they came into sight. Twenty mules and their drivers waited, stamping to stay warm, they wondered where they were headed. All they knew was that they would venture beyond the safe confines of Ianthe out into the dangers of the open country. A few prayed for their safe return. They were brave men; not many others would dare to leave the city once safely inside. Baron Timeon waited while the mercenaries organized the caravan, then gave orders to leave Ianthe through the Gate of Gold and follow the road to Nemedia.

The company silently suffered Baron Timeon’s many complaints, especially unhappy to stomach Fabio’s meals again, though when meal time came he always ate voraciously. On the seventh night out of a 19 day journey an alarm was raised by the night watch. The company hastily donned armor and stood at the ready, tensely waited as a large group of people moved through the dark towards them. When the people emerged the mercenaries saw 60 refugees, filthy and near starvation. Tullweim and Cuana hunted in the night and caught a deer and rabbit for the refugees. They also parted with supplies they could do without. Finally, Cuana, felt a strong compassion for the group of women, children, elderly and half-starved men, gave them 100 sp with which to buy food and clothing when they reached the nearest city, which happened to be in Count Valentius’ domain.

On the 19th day of travel the Crimson Wolves and the caravan they protected arrived at their destination. The party looked around at the dusty warriors and men, the sweat covered animals wound through the foothills up into the mountains. It had been a long journey. The sun glared down and they wiped their brow. They rode over a crest, and suddenly the mines laid before them. They were in a valley which stunk with slag and debris. Ruined shacks served as barracks for the wretched prisoners sentenced to slave here for the rest of their short lives. A grim fortress of stone rose above them, and the entire valley was encircled by a wooden stockade, which guaranteed that none fled. Black holes of doom gaped in the mountainside, that lead down into the earth’s bowels. Baron Timeon rode over and greeted the fortress commander. Cuana could not see precisely what followed, but it appeared that various papers and a small bag that jingled exchanged hands. Timeon then motioned the company into the fortress, where the warehouse was.

Inside the warehouse were 40 casks to be loaded onto the mules. Cuana opened one and looked inside and found some crude ore that Xacksmith recognized as raw gold ore. After the mules were loaded, Timeon was eager to head back for Ianthe. The company left without incident.

The first full day on the journey back to Ianthe the caravan was attacked by 50 light cavalry. The battle was fiercely fought, Dhak’s unit was pushed back early and withdrew before Dhak returned with the magic of the Elephant Heart to curse his foes while the Nemedian Adventurers struck with their great swords. Xacksmith’s unit was almost completely wiped out. Cuana and Tullweim worked in tandem against the horsemen. Though the line was broken, 3 mule-drivers killed, and 8 Nemedian Adventurers would never adventure again, the raiders were pushed back. Cuana had captured one of the horsemen and asked who they worked for. The man was rightly afraid and begged for his life. He revealed that 6 nights prior a group of peasants had wandered into Valentius’ land with an uncommonly large amount of silver on them. They were robbed, questioned, and made slaves. Valentius then ordered the cavalry out to rob Timeon of his gold. Cuana swore vengeance and let the brigand go.

Character Reflections

| Cuana Chapter 8 Entry 2 |

Comments

something that I hadn’t caught before, taken from the synopsis of session 1: “Avanrakash then presented his staff to the king of Ophir and disappeared into the mountains, presumably to die. Though none know his true end.”

and this taken from the synopsis of session 2: Behind him, in a litter, rode King Valdric, a frail old man in obvious poor health. Across his lap laid a long gem-encrusted staff, the royal scepter of Ophir.

Katos and Darios both wore similar rings (Katos now has both)....one of iron and one of ruby, both apparently bearing the likeness of a being with 4 horns and three eyes. the crumbling parchment hidden inside Darios’ cloak: Katos read it to the group, “Lo, call to the great god, entreating him, and set before the Image the succedaneum, the bridge between worlds, as a beacon to glorify the way of the god to thee.”

Katos also states the following: “Since we found these rings and this scroll in the tombs of Garian, we have been pursued. We thought them but rare antiquities, but a message I have received tonight casts a new light on them. I know little, but what I know, I will te1l. In ages long past, the Avatar of AI’Kiir, god of lust, pain, and death, dwelt upon Earth. His priestesses trafficked in human sacrifice of the most horrible kind. The fairest maidens were married to the god; the best warriors fought madly for his amusement. The people cried for release.

the avatar of Al’Kiir?

on our way into Ianthe, Lady Julia: “That is Tor Al’Kiir. Old wives say a god once made his abode there”

again, Katos speaking of the battle between Avanrakash & Al’Kiir: With his staff of power he drove AI’Kiir from the body he used on this plain—his avatar—and sealed him from the world.

the succedaneum (whatever it is…..maybe one or both of the rings now held by Katos?) is used to bridge this world (and presumably Al’Kiir’s earthly remains?) to where Al’Kiir currently exists? Valdric’s staff/scepter is the staff of Avanrakash?? Al’Kiir imprisoned in/beneath Tol Al’Kiir???

Chapter 8, Session 2
 

Now that we’ve been openly attacked (as employees of Baron Timeon) by Valentius’ soldiers, I would be willing to consider launching an attack in retaliation- at some point if not immediately after fleshing out our ranks with replacements for those who were killed. I assume that we could only do this somewhere outside of Ianthe though, so we need to find a way to gain trustworthy intelligence on Valentius’ movements & affairs so we can catch them well outside the city gates. Then again, we will probably need to wait until we are no longer in Baron Timeon’s employ, as the rest of the aristocracy would automatically assume that the attack was initiated by Timeon, not realizing that it was motivated purely by revenge on our part. Even if we have to wait until the adventure is over, I’m all for sticking around to settle that score. Suck it, Blue!

Chapter 8, Session 2
 

the more I think about Valentius’ recent attack on us, the more I believe that it’s in our best interest to retaliate. although we are in the employ of Timeon, we are still the Crimson Wolves. we should be feared, not trifled with. had Valentius wished to do so, he could have simply bought our services away from Timeon, but he instead chose to attack with his own cavalry, whose ranks we decimated, routing the survivors. if this was simply a matter of contention between two aristocrats and their own men-at-arms, that would be one thing. we are a band of mercenaries…our reputation is everything. Valentius holds land well outside of the city gates, obviously where his cavalry is stationed. while it would probably be a huge mistake to do so within the city walls & under the nose of general Iskandrian, it would be quite another if we were to destroy his cavalry or burn/seize his estate and/or properties located out in the countryside. the more of a reputation we have for strength and brutality, the more we can command in payment for our services, provided we are also perceived as being good to our word and honoring our contracts. consequently, the more we suffer attacks without reprisals, the more we will be deemed weak….surely the worst sort of reputation a band of mercenaries can suffer.

I invite comment from my compatriots.

Chapter 8, Session 2
 

Sure, I love it when players want to take vengeance on nPeeps. Just saying, consider this: no open warfare has occurred in a noble’s name in Ophir. Sure it was Valentius’ troops that attacked, but they did not carry his banner and Valentius will deny any involvement. Finally, even if anybody believed it was Valentius’ troops that attacked the caravan, infantry (the lowly dogs that make way for the cavalry) fought off cavalry. No small feat (and is in fact insulting to Valentius as in the Hyborian Age, cavalry is everything). Of course your infantry is really good, and the bonuses the PCs and banner gave really put the odds in your favor. But the caravan endured and is back on its way. Continue that, and you’ll be cultivating your Rep in a very positive way for a Mercenary company.

Chapter 8, Session 2
 

maybe I’m letting my desire for revenge affect my better judgement in this matter. ultimately the decision is Tullweim’s to make, not mine. I can see how our successful defense against Valentius’ cavalry in their attempt to seize Timeon’s gold ore would count in our favor with regard to our reputation. the same is true for any other type of attack we may yet suffer (we are still approximately 2 weeks away from returning to Ianthe, so it can easily happen) and successfully repel. having had a little time to consider this, I see two different views: first, we cultivate our reputation by doing what we were hired to do in aiding & defending Baron Timeon. word of mouth among Timeon’s peers, as well as testimony from the survivors of those who actually fought us, would count for a lot. on the other hand, it’s my perception that a mercenary band is much more effective when they’re openly feared as opposed to being simply respected. we don’t want to be perceived as a band of bullys & thugs by turning into raiders, looters, or pillagers, but I believe that when we are confronted or attacked while we’re in the proccess of guarding somebody….especially an unprovoked attack….then a completely murderous, over-the-top reaction is at least worth considering. to me, it’s the difference between Valentius thinking ‘boy, I need to send some tougher soldiers against those Crimson Wolves’ and ‘what? attack the Crimson Wolves?? are you mad???’

Chapter 8, Session 2
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