The Dark Ages - Southern Seas - Act 3 - Skalfier Keep - Fall 2, 56AD
It is still early morning as you prepare to set out back to the Keep. The weather is cool, but apparently the rain that had fallen yesterday was truly gone, as the sky is clear. Birds are chirping around you and life seems to be going on, quite unconcerned for the carnage that you are leaving. The campfires are just starting to cool, and some black and red birds are edging close to the bodies, curious and hungry.
You are just beyond the southern end of the valley that allows access to Skalfier from the Middle Lands. The Keep lies to the north in the middle of the valley. It was roughly a day's caravan ride to get from the Keep to where you are.
Atacius has a sackful of goods that he now carries.
What will you do?
"I guess we have a long walk back to the Keep, shame they did not leave some horses for us!", comments Graian as he collects his belongings.
"Thankless work, indeed. I don't expect we will receive a heroe's welcome at the keep. For now, I will be happy if we are allowed to keep our heads and tell what happened. We must make sure that Greenweeve doesn't continue to prey on innocent merchants."
"I think the Captain of the Guard will be most disturbed by this change of events. Since Greenweeve was his man, I have a feeling he will want justice for this travisty."
"Unless they worked together to take over the caravan business..."
Although the day started out horrible, the weather makes it for a pleasant harvest season day - not too warm or cold, and the sunshine is plentiful. Along your walk, you encounter no other travelers, but the caravan's track is still present from the previous day and it's easy enough to follow it back.
Towards late afternoon, you come to the ruins of the old Skalfier Wayfarer's Inn. The wood and stone walls are still erect, although much of the second floor of the main building has collapsed into the first floor. Several out buildings - sheds and a barn - are still standing, although looking like they could fall at a moment's notice. It appears to be empty and unattended.
Takashi looks over the surroundings. "Looks like this might be the best place to bed down for the night, at least we can have a roof over our head. Let's look at the barn and out buildings to see if they are sturdy enough to trust for one night's sleep."
Takashi: The out buildings do not fill you with a lot of confidence. Despite being only 50 years abandoned, more or less, there is signs of weather damage and possible vandalism. Definitely a small fire or two. You could stay in them... but you might want to keep an eye open.
Since it rained yesterday, Atacius will look for recent footprints in the still wet terrain around the Inn. "I'll look around for tracks. Anybody coming?"
Atacius: Nothing that you can see, aside from your own.
"I agree, it does seem the best place to bed down for the night. I still think it best for us to keep an open eye however." Callin says as he examines the area. Since I have a hammer, is there any way I could possible shim up one of the buildings to make it a bit more sturdy for the night?
Callin: Imagine some of those leaning barns and buildings you've seen in rural areas as you've been traveling about. They are in pretty bad shape. If you wanted to spend a few hours and risk the building falling, you may try to do so.
"Hmmm, these buildings don't look particularly safe. Nothing worse than having your shelter collapse on you in the middle of the night. Perhaps it would be best to just sleep under the stars this beautiful eve. I'll gladly stand first watch tonight."
"Indeed" Callin says as he frowns at the buildings. "I will take watch after you then."
"That leaves the third watch to me then." says Atacius while he looks after a smal fire and somethig to eat for the group.
"I will take the last watch, I need some time to rest and prepare my spells", Graian replies, looking around determining where a good place to rest would be.
Graian: The area is relatively flat. There are a few trees around the area, should you wish to camp under a tree. One in particular is very close to the main building, with it's canopy next to/above where the top floor would have been. There are a few near the bar, forming a small copse.
TAKASHI: "If there is a brick or masonry wall anywhere, I'd suggest we build our fire and camp up against it. It will shield the light of our fire a bit, and the wind as well if it kicks up. It has been a long day, my friends. Let us hope that the night is uneventful!"
Atacius will follow Takashi's advice if there's such a place to find.
Takashi/Atacius: Your best bet would be by one of the old chimneys on the main building. It would have the most "secure" spoke and be the one to protect a small camp from wind from one direction.
Morning, Fall 3, 56AD
Sometime after midnight, a steady, hard rain begins to fall, the temperature transitioning to cold. Due to the presence of Oliphas and his knowledge of living in the wilds, you are able to keep the fire going, but as you are relatively outdoors, your rest is no longer peaceful or salutary towards recovering spells. (Graian, the dice tell the story...) Aside from the weather, the night passes quietly enough.
The dawn comes with the rain looking like it will continue for awhile, so your progress back to the Keep is a slow, soggy one. The rain does not let up as the day progresses. You don't see any travelers along your way and by late afternoon, you can see the Keep off in the distance. Your armor, your clothes, your packs, all are soaked.
(I'll hold off here in case you want to discuss/plan anything prior to going into the Keep. Let me know what you want to do.)
"I say we try to reach the Keep. Can't wait to dry off and get a decent hot meal!" mutters Atacius, a hint of annoyance in his voice.
TAKASHI: "Agreed, Atacius. What a miserable night! Someplace dry, warm, with warm food would do my soul a world of good now. The quicker we can make it happen, the better."
CALLIN: "Yes, I am quite done with this rain. To have a roof over my head and warm food in my belly would be wonderful indeed!"
GRAIAN: "Agreed, the sooner we get into the safety of the Keep and out of this rain the better. I also do not want to give Grenweeve or his cronies any longer than neccessary to concoct more stories against us".
Oliphas looks conflicted, he has become close to these travelers, in reletive terms of course, but hesititates to follow them into the keep and committing himself to the events that were sure to unfold there. This internal struggle has been going on for the duration of the long walk back, hence him being even quieter than usual. But, realizing that a decision had to be made, Oliphas makes up his mind to accompany his newfound companions back into the keep and see this through
Evening, Fall 3, 56AD
Your return to Skalfier Keep is soggy - very soggy. It is well after the setting of the sun. There is another caravan that has just arrived from the Middle Kingdoms, with the bustle and activity that you saw most recently 3 days ago. A fair number of carts and wagons are already lined up for the trip down south. Nobody around the the outlying buildings and businesses pay you any mind, as there are quite a few soaked and muddied individuals about.
Do we see Grenweeve around?
Atacius: Not out among the carts and wagons, no, you don't see or hear him, although it is dark out now.
Atacius will head to the nearest tavern to sit near the fireplace and have a hot meal. "Coming?" he nods to the rest.
Graian nods in agreement "Though we should send word to the Marshall that we wish to see him."
"The Tavern was the last place I saw the Captain. We should look there for him" Callin offers
"Aye, we need to find someone and let them know what happened before we can enjoy the warmth of the fire. We can try the tavern first, and if he's not there, then ask for his whereabouts."
The Twin's Drink, a ramshackle hut more than a tavern, is where you met the "Captain" - Marks was his name. With the laid-over caravan, the hut is nearly full to capacity, very warm due to body heat more than the small pot stove in the corner. Cheap drinks are being served. There is a mix of caravaners and what appears to militia folks here.
Atacius will spend the coins taken from the dead guy in drinks and some hot food for the group.
As an aside, you foun 9 silver, 12 copper on that gent.
Beer, which seems to be the only drink available in the Twin's Drink is 3cp a mug. A common meal, consisting of bread, some sort of stew with "meat" and "vegetables" is 3cp a trencher.
OK, so food & drink for all of us (6) should be 3 silver and 6 copper.
TAKASHI will look around the room, searching for Captain Marks or any other familiar faces (Greenweeve or any of his other associates on the caravan with us).
CALLIN will also look for Captain Marks. If he can't find him, he will ask the barkeep.
Takashi and Callin: You do not see "Captain Marks" among the throng of people. The barkeep grunts at you and points to the sign with the menu crudely scribbled on it (see above). "Ye gonna eat er drink, boyos?"
TAKASHI will point to the axe on his side, and highlighting the blood on the handle still.
TAKASHI: "Do you see this blood, barkeep? It is bandit blood and we need to let Captain Marks know about it. My small friend over there has already ordered food for us, but we think it best to tell the Captain before enjoying a leisurely meal. Callin here is a priest of the Light, and was with us also. Or perhaps you would prefer to explain to Captain Marks why you were'nt willing to help us?"
CALLIN: simply smiles at Takashi's statement then adds: "My friend is correct Sir, it is imperitive that we speak to Captain Marks immediatly!"
Graian just looks at the barkeeper but says nothing.
The barkeep stares at Takashi after his outburst. The area around both men goes quiet. The barkeep's face is unreadable for a moment, then he bursts into laughter.
"Aya, hey Mezzin, check out the boyo 'ere... thinks his little shaver be any concern 'o mine!"
A large brute of a man unfolds himself from the corner of the bar and looks at Takashi. "Yep." he grunts.
The barkeep snorts at Callin's statement.
"Ye be wantin' ta speak to a drunk anna fool?"
He looks back at Takashi. "Ye've got some spunk, give ye that, boyo. Tell ye what. Pull yerself up a seat over there. Mezzin here will keep an eye on ye and we'll go fetch yer Marks fer... a few silvers."
"But..." he reaches under the bar and pulls out a wicked looking scimitar with spatters of dried blood on it. "Ye tink of causin' trouble here, boyo... and you'll find this in yer gullet. If not from me, then from Mezzin here... or his friends." and the barkeep nods to several other men who are watching this exchange very carefully.
A large man who has stood up next to the large, brutish Mezzin holds out his hand expectantly...
"All right, all right boss, no need of that." Atacius says to the barkeep in a calm voice. "My friends here have been through rough times lately and are kinda moody, boss" as he digs into his pouch. "Here, this is for the food and drinks..." and drops 3sp 6 cp on the counter. "...aaand this is for your troubles, boss." and puts another 3sp in his hand.
When the barkeep goes for the extra coin, Atacius will grab his sleeve, lean forward and whisper: "We have a message for Grenweeve..." and let go.
CALLIN simply shakes his head sadly at the barkeep and turns to Takashi. "It seems the Light is very dim in this one I'm afraid. Caring more about himself, then of those that fill his bar. That will one day be his downfall. I will head to the temple to see if the Priests know where Captain Marks lays his head."
The barkeep nods at Atacius.
"Sure, sure.. boyo, yer beers and grub comin' right up. Allen dere, he'll find yer Cappin fer ye. Set down and relax a bit, ye will live longer." He says that last comment looking squarely at Takashi.
The barkeep roars again in laughter at Callin's remarks.
"A reg'lar white cloth, o'ye are, boyo! 'cept ye won' find any temple 'ere. Dis little piss-water o' a place.. nearest temple be in Skalfier. Although, by what ye friend is sayin', ye ain't gotten so far, have ye?" he jeers.
The barkeep nods at Atacius's whisper.
"Aye... OK, boyo, OK. So ye want the Cappin or ta get a message to Grennie?"
"Bring the Cap for them..." he points with his thumb over his shoulder at his friends, "...and tell Grennie that Atacius wants a word."
CALLIN meats the gaze of the barkeep during his laughter. And answers back in a calm focused maner "Well the lack of a proper temple explains quite a bit. It is quite a shame really. Should you decide to brighten your Light feel free to speak with me, and I can guide your way"
Atacius will join the rest. "OK, he'll send for the Captain. My bet is that he's not a bad guy, but he gave up, went into Grenweeve pocket and gave in to the bottle." He looks around and lowers his tone. "Also, I send a message to Grenweeve with the bartender, saying I want a word with him. It's a good chance for a set up. He'll probably want to do the same, so it'll be a counter-setup, ha!"
The barkeep shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head at Callin, but ceases conversation and serves you all (mostly clean) mugs of warm beer and trenchers of "stew." "Allen" goes off out of the tavern after pocketing the three silver. The conversation in the tavern returns to normal since there is nothing more to observe.
TAKASHI will sit down with his newfound associates and look questioningly at the stew.
TAKASHI: "This could get interesting very quickly. And I am not referring to the stew..."
He eats quickly while he still is able to do so. Better to be ready for trouble that for trouble to find him with a spoon in his mouth.
CALLIN: nods to Takashi and eats his stew quickly as well. Makeing sure to sit with his back to the bar so he can cover their back sides while they wait. Who knows where we stand in this place.
Graian sits down to eat his meal, reminding himself not to ask for the recipe, keeping an eye on the rest of clientele for signs of hostility. "I suspect this will be another interesting evening".
An hour passes and finally, "Captain" Marks arrives, moving through the crowded tavern towards your table.
(Deduct another 3 silvers for the additional beers you would have consumed waiting...)
For Takashi and Atacius, Marks was accompanied by two men who are stationed somewhat behind him in an attempt to be surreptitious, but noticeable to you both.
Captain Marks looks surprised and curious to see you all there.
"And you are not with Gillian's caravan? Why ye be here?"
TAKASHI looks to the priest of the Light and Elf, thinking that the Captain would trust their words more that those coming from a simple barbarian from the East.
Graian looks at Marks "Gillian is dead, as are most of the merchants in the caravan. Grenweeve is responsible, he is in league with others, we can't put all the pieces together, but Delmonte may not be behind the attacks. We can tell you what we know but there are a lot of gaps, I do know the intent was to frame us".
Captain Marks manages to look even more surprised by Graian's revelations.
"Yadoan say... what makes ye think it wuz Grenweeve 'n that bastard Delmonte? 'N what happen to the goods 'n why are ye here? Why din' they kill ye?"
Atacius leans forward and say: "Look Cap, Grenweeve came to us before the caravan left with a proposal: 'Do nothing when the attack comes'. The attack came but we didn't have the time to do anything. We were put to sleep by sorcerous means." he wiggles his fingers and takes a sip of beer. "When we woke up we were tied and blindfolded. After we managed to get free we found these in our belongings..." he puts the docs on the table. "See? It has our names and is signed D." he points with his chubby finger. "The goods are gone, puff, and we're here because we managed to get free before..." he slashes a finger accros his throat.
TAKASHI: "All of us you see her tried to stay together and be prepared for the ambush, but the sorcerous devilry occured after our watch ended, when we were fast asleep. Captain, you have a traitor named Greenweeve in your midst. We could have fled our duty after the others were slaughtered, but instead came here to report what we know, what we saw, and who was responsible. To do otherwise would not be honorably nor just."
Captain Marks leans back in his chair and shakes his head. "Dis... is not good, boyos, not good."
He motions to one of his men who has been standing away from you all. The man comes over and Marks whispers into his ear. The man nods and turns away, leaving the crowded bar.
"Ye understand, this puts me in a bad spot, boyos. Bad spot indeed. Word gets out, it can be very bad indeed. Who else wuz involved in this, aside from Grenweeve?"
"Excuse me, gotta take a leak..." says Atacius and leaves the place to follow the guy that just left.
Captain Marks nods to Atacius but as you leave, he motions for the other guard to follow you.
It's not too hard to know that you're being followed. What are you going to do now that you're outside of the tavern/hut? (NOTE: If you're curious where the play-by-play went, I moved it to a private Wave. You'll see Atacius soon...)
The rest of you, left with Captain Marks, what will you do?
TAKASHI: "Captain, we uderstand that this is a bad situation for all involved. More so for the poor sods who were ambushed in their sleep and killed with no chance to defend themselves.
The situation is what it is, unfortunately. However, in a bad situation such as this, it is what a man does next that determines his character... or so my father always said.
I would imagine that the man who took the information we have provided, and took the accused into custody for a proper trial, might be well rewarded. You would get the credit of catching the accused, trade would improve between the Keep and the outlying areas, and it would all be due to your hard work and diligence."
CALLIN: "We awoke to many slain around the camp. It seemed that other men had arrived to plunder the load, Although I'm sure there are others that were with us that turned as well. But Takashi is right Captain.
The Captain listens to you both for a moment, and then nods slowly. "Aye, that he might." He signals to the barkeep. "Another round here" and tosses some silvers on the table.
"And this man ye got these papers from, boyo... how did ye get them from him?"
CALLIN: "The documents were forged and placed in our packs. They were found as we gathered up our belongings. The idea was clear. Mark us as the Traitors."
The Captain strokes his chin. "Interesting. But that don't seem to make much sense, iffin' yer here to claim yer not the blokes who robbed the caravan. Does it make sense ta ye? Why let ye go?"
GRAIAN: "The idea was to leave us tied up, have us 'captured' and brought back, a rider was sent back to get us. Not sure how the story would have unfolded but it is clear that we were to be linked to Delmonte, and the caravan attacks. This would clearly put Delmonte as the culprit, have you anything that links him to the attacks other than heresay? Unfortunately the rider did not survive".
The Captain looks surprised at Graian's last words. "Did not survive... what?"
GRAIAN: "You knew him? We had no choice, the intention was to capture but between him trying to escape and Takashi's prowess it didn't work out that way".
The Captain nods. "So... ye were on the caravan. Ye were told ta be quiet and not do anythin'. By Grenweeve. Then ye were spelled... and woke up ta find the caravan robbed and many kilt. One 'o da bastards came back, you kilt him. Ye found these papers in yer packs. Ye came back here. Is that about 'o the size of it?"
TAKASHI: Nods solemnly. "That is the sum of it. I am sorry that we couldn't capture the rider, but he was mounted while we were on foot, beat up and exhausted."
As Captain Marks listens to Takashi's final words, you can hear shouting outside, and then what sounds like a CRUNCH BANG as the door flies open, in pieces, followed by what looks like one of Captain Marks' guards tackling Atacius through the door. Atacius's short sword comes flying out from beneath his cloak and clatters to the floor. The guard has Atacius in a grapple, apparently having pile-drove him through the door.
TAKASHI: (looks towards Captain Marks) "What is the meaning of this?"
CALLIN: moves quickly to Atacius attempting to block any of the guards from taking his sword. "Release my friend Sir and explain yourself" Callin says.
As Takashi looks to Captain Marks and Callin moves towards Atacius (your intent is clear, but you're not quite there yet to be able to block. We're taking this step by step), more men follow into the tavern behind the guard and Atacius's grapple, with swords drawn. (I'll wait for the rest of the group to define immediate reactions and we'll go forward from there, to see if this goes into combat for the rest of you, or remains solely just between Atacius and the guard.)
Graian jumps to his feet and readys his staff, watching the Captain closely "Explain yourself Captain".
Oliphas, having been quietly listening to the re-telling of the story, trusting in his more eloquent and socially aware companions to convey the message to the captain, also rises at the sight of Atacius's entry. He draws his club and looks to Graian and the others to see if they seem ready to get involved immediately or let the Captain try to explain the actions of his men
(Without going into full combat rounds for everyone, we have a grapple between Atacius and the guard to resolve. So let's stick to simple actions for a moment.)
The guard and Atacius struggle for control. (Atacius, do you still wish to try and free yourself?)
Captain Marks stands up, nods to the barkeep, who nods to Mezzin and Allen. The two draw wicked looking daggers, while the barkeep reaches under and pulls the scimitar back out. The Captain then looks at the men who have followed the guard through the remains of the door (looks like at least 6 men). He then looks at you all. "Drop your weapons and you live. Otherwise..."
Patrons of the bar are starting to exit... quickly.
TAKASHI: "I recommend we hear what they have to say - I do not wish to spill innocent blood... yet."
CALLIN: Has not yet drawn his weapon, and waits to see what happens with Atacius. However he stops moving forward and watches the guards.
"There does seem little point spilling blood at this time", Graian agrees and lowers his staff to the ground
Atacius seeing how things turned will not struggle with the guard. He'll make a mental note about the captain, barkeep and bouncers, adding their faces to Grenweeve's. He'll settle the score in the future.
Seeing that you all have decided to not resist, the Captain nods approvingly.
"Good. As to 'splainin meself... ye are under ... arrest. Ye come ta me wi' a story o' robbery and murder, claiming ye were framed. I am keeping ya where I know ya are 'n sending me men to check your story. As well as searching ya stuff."
The guards move cautiously towards you all, weapons trained, ready for any of resistance. The barkeep and his thugs keep their weapons out as well.
"If ya story checks out, then ye will meet with the Marshall with our thanks. If not..."
The guards begin to relieve you of weapons and belongings such as packs.
"Once that's done, we go to the Keep... and discuss this further, boyos."
(Do you all wish to do/say anything prior to being taken to the Keep?)
TAKASHI allows the men to take his axe, and does nothing to resist.
TAKASHI: "We will trust you at your word, Captain. Might I also suggest that you arrest Greenweeve so he does not attempt to escape once he has found out that we are still alive?"
CALLIN: "We only wish to do what is right Captain. The Light shall insure that our names are cleared" Callin does nothing to resist the guards.