|Season 1, Episode 2|
|[[File: | 250px | ]]|
|Date of Events|
|Jul 30, 2016|
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Having beem conned into climbing a ladder up into a ransacked hut, Velimir Cetrovic finds himself at the point of a crossbow. Two grubby children regard him coolly - below the other Magistrates, Zephyra Awen and Baern Hillstern badger him for his slowness. The girl puts a finger to her lips, beckons for Velimir to climb up. The fire-genasi does so.
The girl has a knife in her hand. She approaches Velimir to cut away his weapon belt. When Velimir resists, the boy jams the crossbow in his face. Zephyra, next to climb the ladder, hears the boy speaking fast and low, saying something in a dialect of Common the Magistrates don't recognise. The intent, though is clear to Velimir: put your fucking hands down.
He motions for calm, saying the Magistrates are not there to hurt them, but to protect them. The girl cuts Velimir's belt and weapons away. She shakes her head, saying she saw what happened at the bridge. If anyone needs protecting, it is the Magistrates.
Zephyra emerges into the hut. The boy turns the crossbow on her, speaking urgently. Zephyra finally recognises the dialect. The boy tells her to stay still or they shoot her friend. Velimir tries to reason with the girl as she casually disarms him, but she is unswayed. They need the weapons more than the Magistrates do.
The girl motions for Zephyra to climb up, instructs her to leave her weapons in the pile they have made. Zephyra does so, but the fact that she is an air-genasi causes the children some unease. Their final instruction is for Zephyra to call for Baern. Slowly, labouriously, the heavily-armoured Baern ascends the ladder. Velimir asks for permission to help, pulls the dwarf the rest of the way into the hut. Seeing the situation, Baern immediately drops his weapon, holding out his holy symbol. Proclaiming himself a cleric of Temperance he attempts to earn the children's trust. For a moment the boy puts his hand on his heart, but a stern look from his sister stops him. She tells Baern that all the priests have been killed. From what she has seen the same fate awaits Baern. She will, however, answer their questions now all the Magistrates have been disarmed.
The girl, Thuy, tells them the calamity happened a month ago. Since then the children have moved from house to house. Staying in one place isn't safe. When asked about the Magistrate who disappeared, the girl says there have been many strangers in the town, but she does not recognise the Magistrate symbol Zephyra shows her. She tells Baern soldiers, both living and dead, were responsible for the blasphemy painted on the temple. They have also been sorting out the bodies. Good bodies go on boats upriver, the bad go on the pile in the centre of the village. Thuy does not know where the boats go, nor who commands the soldiers.
Zephyra asks the children to leave the village with the Magistrates. Thuy is sceptical, saying she would rather die in the village of her birth than abandon it. Zephyra shows the children her wound, asks if the Magistrates can rest in the hut. Thuy sneers, saying what happened on the bridge was embarrassing, but if the Magistrates can give them food and water, and if they can find somewhere else safe in the village to rest, she will protect the Magistrates as they sleep. They move to a safer house and rest there for the night. While Velimir keeps watch with Thuy, Baern contemplates his holy texts. The boy joins the cleric in prayer which seems to settle the child.
The night passes. The jungle is deathly, eerily silent throughout.
Morning comes, and with it a fresh stink of ammonia from the river that leaves all with a dull headche. Thuy sits on the edge of the hut, her brother asleep with his head on her lap. She hums softly to him. This is the sound that wakens the Magistrates.
Thuy looks at Zephyra: "What now, genasi?"
"We need a map. I need to know every building, their patrols."
"Let me show you." In the dirt floor Thuy begins to sketch the village...
Zephyra points to the docks as marked on the map, asking how many living soldiers would there. Thuy replies only a few, there were more before, directing the dead in a language she did not like. The 'hollow ones' as Thuy calls them, and who Zephyra recognises as the armed skeletons from the day before, are systematically slaying the zombified villagers. Intact bodies, those with arms and legs and teeth, are taken upriver by boat. In the beginning four or five boats would leave the docks daily. Now no more than one leaves each day. Perhaps, Thuy says, the soldiers are running out of good dead to use.
Zephyra fears these corpses will be used as weapons of war and suggests investigating the docks. Baern agrees; the Hillstern clan were nearly wiped out by a necromantic force when he was young. The scale of the problem seems beyond the Magistrates, however. They consider leaving the village and seeking reinforcements, but not before suggesting that Velimir sneaks into the defiled temple to see what information he can gather.
The children guide the Magistrates towards the temple. They encounter no patrols, no sign of life. A mist clothes the buildings. The ammonia scent is heavy in the air. They stop at a building within sight of the temple. While the children immediately begin ransacking it for food, the Magistrates regard the stone building. They can see the platforms where the golden statues should be, the hastily daubed grafitti on its sides. No-one has gone in or come out of it, says Thuy, not after what happened with the priest...
Velimir slips away towards the temple, feels unease as he approaches. There are signs of struggle. Rubble lies around the entrance. The stone doors are broken down. Outside are congealed, bloody dragmarks and footprints but Velimir is unable to discern any pattern in them. Looking inside the temple, Velimir sees blood is slathered on each shrine in the corners of the temple, their boxes of ceremonial sand have been disturbed and their sacrifices of fruit scattered. The shrine to the World has been used as a toilet. A wooden structure has been built at the centre of the temple. Rising almost to the ceiling, something dark hangs from its crossbeam, interrupting the beam of light that should fall on the shrine to the Sun. It is an old man, naked and crucified. Upstairs in the temple there has been a fire - the scrolls that were once housed here have all been reduced to ash. Velimir leaves the temple and returns to the party.
The boy spots a dark boat travelling down the river towards the village. Two cloaked figures are on board. The Magistrates debate what to do - they should not leave the village before finding some trace of the Magistrate who had visited before. It is highly likely they would have visited the Mayor's house. Zephyra suggests this be their next goal, but Thuy needs convincing - a combination of Baern's persuasion and pleas from her brother convinces her to help.
The Mayor's house is on the river's edge. The Magistrates watch the dark boat drift slowly past, then move stealthily towards the building. Velimir goes on ahead, climbing to a second-floor window while Baern, Zephyra and the children approach the stairs. Inside Velimir sees all types of shattered crates and plundered storage, as well as a figure who points a crossbow at him. A bolt hits Velimir as more dark servants emerge from within the house. Wind whips around the raging Zephyra, lending speed to her movement as she leaps from a cart and into the Mayor's house. The first dark servant falls from a combination of her blade and a well-aimed shot from Velimir. Baern clambers up into the building and joins the fray with a noted display of Dwarvish grace.
More Dark Servants flood into the Mayor's residence, but Baern holds them at bay, their blows bouncing off his armour. Zephyra shouts a battlecry of the army of the Court of Swords. The Dark Servants snarl in recognition. One by one the Dark Servants fall to the Magistrates - one "pulls a Velimir" and flees, while Zephyra knocks out the remaining cultist. Chasing the fleeing Servant, Velimir leaps across the roofs and puts him down with a well-placed bolt.
Jumping from the window, Zephyra drags the body to the river's edge. She begins looting it for treasure or personal effects, finding on one arm a faded tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake. Zephyra recognises it as the symbol of the 23rd infantry legion of the Court Army. She picks up a stone and smashes the face of the dead cultist, filling his robes with heavy rocks and pushing him into the grey gloop of the river.
Within the Mayor's residence the other Magistrates restrain the unconscious cultist. Baern, the quartermaster of the group, goes through the pockets of the dead, finding on their prisoner a platinum coin minted in the Court of Coins. Zephyra drags the edge of her scimitar down the leg of the restrained cultist. He comes to, shouting in pain. She begins to interrogate the cultist, telling him there will be more wounds like that if her questions are not answered. For emphasis, Velimir's eyes begin to glow. If he co-operates though, she swears, he will come to no harm.
Zephyra asks why the cultists are here. Reconaissance, says the cultist, and collecting materials. She asks if the Court of Coins put them up to it. The prisoner sneers, saying he serves the Court of Swords, and is being paid to do so, just like the Magistrates. When asked if there are more of his compatriots in the village, he says there are a dozen stationed here, minus those killed in the fighting. Zephyra asks him is there a message he wants to pass on. When he replies in the negative, she grabs her weapon, ready to cut off his head.
Baern intervenes, asking where the bodies are being taken. The prisoner taunts the priest - why should he reply if he is going to be killed, regardless of the promise Zephyra made. Baern reitirates the pledge - if he answers the priest's question, the cultist will not be harmed. The cultist tells the Magistrates there is a temple in the marshes upriver, one day by river, three on foot. This is where the boats are going, but he warns them there many are scouts and the approach of the Magistrates will be seen. A force composed of the living and the dead await them, though some of the living have become sick. Velimir asks how the cultist can be working with the Court of Swords. He scoffs, saying he is with the army, then looks at Zephyra. "Just do it," he says. Velimir lights a fire under the prisoner; Zephyra ends his pain with a swing of her scimitar. Zephyra repeats the process with the bodies inside - smashing their faces, loading their robes with stones, and chucking them into the river.
Zephyra sees movement down at the docks - more dark servants, at work in the village. The Magistrates decide to rest in the Mayor's house. An hour passes. The activity on the docks continues. At least four figures move amongst the buildings, loading packages onto boats. Velimir suggest approaching stealthily and setting up an ambush. Baern suggests retreating from the village and returning with reinforcements. Zephyra agrees with Baern, but adds that in her opinion the village should be given up as lost. No more Magistrates will be coming to it.
The safety of the children is paramount; Zephyra asks them to the leave the village with the Magistrates. Thuy scowls. "So you're just leaving?" she says, incredulous. The air-genasi leads her to the window, lets her look on the scene of destruction and decimation. "Is this what you want to call home?" asks Zephyra. "This will not change. There is nothing you can do to stop this."
"Fix this," the girl demands. "Be Magistrates!"
The adults do not listen. No-one is willing to stay and fight. Zephyra wants to bring the children somewhere where they can train to be warriors. Baern wants to bring them to a temple of Temperance. Velimir wants to burn down what remains of the village. Thuy gives in at last.
The Magistrates abandon the fishing village to its fate.
When the Magistrates reach the edge of the village, Thuy stops and looks back. After a time her brother pulls upon her hand and leads her away. Together with the Magistrates, they walk down the road heading for the trading town of Sự phồn thịnh, still a week of travel away. They pass the body of the elephant, the sight of which traumatises the children.
That night the party stops to make camp. They make their way into the dense, marshy jungle, climbing the trees to find a safe place to sleep. The night is miserable with heat and mosquitos and the sounds of the boy crying. Sleep proves difficult - the next morning the party wakes exhausted. Velimir keeps the party fed, setting traps for small game and sourcing water from the canopy.
The road is quiet as they move along. It begins to narrow, the dense jungle making way for marshland. The children move slowly and the Magistrates do their best to raise their spirits. Both Zephyra and Velimir try to engage Thuy about various aspects of village life while Baern continues to pray with the boy. Both children remain closed off - Thuy is upset, her brother seems in shock.
Later in the journey, as the party navigates the winding road past rocks, they encounter a body lying on the in a pool of blood. it appears to be one of the soldiers from the fishing village, his body pierced by a dozen little arrows. Zephyra stops everyone, urging them back behind the rocks. She instructs Velimir to sneak up and investigate the body and he wonders for a moment if this is evidence of the creatures rumoured to have appeared in the Court of Swords. He approaches the body. The arrows seem to have struck the soldier all at once. Returning, he tells the others what he has seen.
The boy pulls on Zephyra's sleeve and points at the bushes nearby. She is unable to make out anything, however... and that is when the Kobolds spring their ambush, bursting from the jungle foliage. The tiny rat-like lizards close on the group, wielding daggers of bone and flint. The boy screams. Thuy struggles to unsheathe her scimitar. Only Velimir is quick enough to react - but not quick enough. The cackling Kobolds make short work of the fire-genasi, putting him down in seconds. He begins to bleed out on the jungle floor and the Kobolds drag him towards the undergrowth.
The party fights back - Thuy chops her scimitar down on a Kobold's back while Zephyra dispatches it with a cleaving slice of her weapon. Baern casts Healing Word on Velimir, restoring him to health. Immediately, the Kobolds dragging the fire-genasi notice him stirring and plunge their daggers into his chest. Velimir struggles to his feet, but his desperate attacks miss his assailants. Zephyra, Thuy and Baern dispatch a Kobold each. The last Kobold flings itself at Velimir, who guts it with rapier and dagger.
The battle over, Zephyra checks on the children. The boy is shaking in the arms of his sister. The creatures are looted for the gold and copper they had stolen previously, their corpses dismissed as a source of food. Velimir returns to the body in the middle of the road, seeing the same tattoo of the 23rd Legion as the cultists in the village. The party takes a short rest, eating rations and regaining their strength. Thuy pulls the leather armour from the Kobolds, cobbling together a set of her own while her brother climbs to safety on top of the rocks.
Something like peace descends on the makeshift camp.
9 silver for zeph
5 gold 11 silver 1 platinum coin minted in court of coins given to Baern Hillstern.
27 gold 31 copper 1 electrum given to Baern.
Thuy loots leather armor from koblods and makes herself some patchwork armor
Gained 42xp each from slaying Dark servants
Gained ??xp from Kobolds on the road (the party as far as my math goes was never given this xp)
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