Players: Daniel Coleman (Amman), Malcolm Campbell (Baron Faith), James Dean-Hughes (Phaid), Neil McClean (Gellis Tarn), Neil Simpson (Quarlius), Graham Reynolds (Bruce)
Date: 9 September 2008
Zethusday, 27 Geomyr 1082 PS
That evening is the first Baron Faith and Quarlius hear of Phaid’s “simple plan”. On the whole, the baron likes it. Having been forced into a situation where they have to deal with Croxamkellvandarlis (Faith glares at Gellis), this seems to be a reasonable compromise. But he wants more intelligence first.
He wants to know what sort of resistance they can expect to face at the warehouse. That’s where Bruce, Phaid and Gellis come in. He wants them to stake out the place. Secondly, he wants to know more about Croxamkellvandarlis and the Key to the Crucible. Quarlius can add no more than he has already, so the baron suggests he consults some more learned historians. Quarlius says that there’s a large library and a wealth of historical and archaeological knowledge at the Explorers Society. He can try and gain access to that.
Faith says that he doesn’t want Quarlius going alone. He has reason to suspect that that they have more enemies in this city than they realise. For completely separate reasons, each member of the party finds this very easy to believe. Faith suggests that Quarlius take Amman with him. The tiefling can masquerade as Quarlius’s slave for the evening. Quarlius agrees to the plan, and tells Amman to wait here at the guild while he goes and finds the necessary funds to gain access to the Explorers Society.
Quarlius heads into the Orchard District and to the Golden House, the embassy of his people in Karris’Mhor. He speaks to the ambassador, Quintantantus of the Seven Branches, and explains Baron Faith’s plan. It is clear that Quarlius himself has an ulterior motive in being the baron’s lackey, and Quintantantus is keen that he keep on the baron’s good side. He gives Quarlius the funds he requires, and writes a letter of introduction for him.
As Gellis, Bruce and Phaid watch the dockland headquarters of Travis and his gang, Quarlius and Amman head to the Explorers Society. A large and well-presented town house that is also in the Orchard District. Quarlius is met at the door by the major-domo, who takes his coat and his slave. It is evening by this time, and Quarlius is told that a number of members of the society are meeting in the lounge. He is welcome to join them.
Amman is shown down to a number of holding cells beneath the society. As far as slave conditions go, they are rather swish. He has a comfortable bed in which to wait for his master, and the door is not locked when the housemaster leaves. Amman decides that Quarlius isn’t in any danger, and relaxes on the bed. He is most pleased when the kitchens send down a hot meal an hour later.
Quarlius arrives in the plush society lounge. There are four individuals present in the room. Baronet Sirruk is a green dragonborn and renowned historian. Viscount Thessis, a white dragonborn, is an accomplished explorer and famous in the society. The other two are the dwarf, Lord Vingar Bloodiron and the beautiful, Elysia Llewellyn, daughter of Tristram Llewellyn, the richest merchant prince in Karris’Mhor.
They are discussing a venture proposed by Lady Llewellyn and Lord Bloodiron, to take a force from Karris’Mhor into the mountains and discover the fate of the lost dwarven clanhold of Bjernloggedden. Bloodiron is the rightful ruler of that city, and he believes that the goblin raiders that drove the dwarves away centuries ago will have long since departed. For her part, Lady Elysia wants the adventure and the chance to prove herself in the eyes of the Society and (Quarlius thinks), her father.
Neither of the dragonborn think much of the scheme. It’s too dangerous, and too little chance of reward. What are they actually going to find out there besides goblins and deaths? Brokengeld (as Bjernloggedden has become known) is too far from Karris’Mhor, through much too difficult terrain. They would need a large force, and the means to equip and supply them. And what fool is going to pay for that?
Quarlius joins their discussions, and is happy to speak of the adventure and the romance of such an expedition. In this, he is of the same mind as Lady Elysia who is evidently over-awed by the wonder of it all. In fact Quarlius’s attempts to ingratiate himself onto Lady Elysia are so successful that she thinks he wants to come with them on the expedition. Not seeing a way that he can back-pedal without causing offence, Quarlius says that he would love to come, but his destiny is tied to that of Baron Faith. If the baron decides to patronise the mission, and even to come along, then it would his pleasure to travel to Bjernloggedden. Lady Elysia says that she will work on Baron Faith.
Quarlius now makes his own enquiries. Sirruk tells him much about the Guardians and the Guardian Wars, and how each of the eight dragons gained and lost their positions of power. Some of this Quarlius knows, and some of it is new. Interesting, the dragonborn says that the eight Keys were more than just tokens. The Keys granted the holders the ability to appoint the new Prince Consort. The Iron Dukes (such as Duke Crucible) only have this power because they have the Key. And if they have given that key away – if Duke Crucible gave it to his son, for example – then that power would move to his son.
Quarlius begins to see what might happen if they go through with their plan. If they take the Key to Crucible from Griff and give it to Croxam, then Griff loses power in relation to the four other Iron Dukes. This will obviously make him quite cross. Croxam could then bestow the Key on anyone he liked, creating a different voter when it comes to decide who will succeed Prince Yarin as consort.
After a few more drinks, Quarlius gathers Amman and returns to Baron Faith. Faith says that on balance, the original plan must hold. Hopefully, the theft would be traced back to the Gentlemen and not to them. They leave to meet up with Gellis, Phaid and Bruce.
The mercenaries inform the baron that the place is well guarded, but that the warehouse juts out from the shore. There is a cargo hatch on the underside of the building to unload boats. They should be able to sneak in that way in Phaid’s boat and take care of business. The baron agrees. These are grim times, and he must certainly not be identified by the mobsters. “Remember,” he says. “No survivors.”
Sunday, 28 Geomyr 1082 PS
A little after midnight, Phaid’s boat quietly moors under the warehouse. The party of six burst up through the floor and a massive battle ensues. They have surprised Travis and his paid killers, but this advantage does not last for long. It is a furious and deadly battle, and Gellis is alarmed to find himself a whisker away from mêlée combat on more than one occasion. However, soon the tide starts to turn in the party’s favour, and the mission becomes all about killing their enemies before they can escape.
Baron Faith seizes Travis’s mind and compels him backward. He falls through the hatch into Phaid’s boat, where he grabs the oars and starts to escape. Bruce and Gellis race after him. Bruce jumps into the boat and wrestles with Travis while Gellis shoots arrows at them both. Eventually, Bruce succeeds in killing the mobster but loses his body over the side of the boat. Gellis is forced to dive in and retrieve it.
A short time later the dead bodies of Travis and his mob are laid down on the floor in the warehouse. The question is, how do they leave a message for the Gentlemen? Amman has an idea, strips Travis’s body and begins to scrawl on the mobster’s back with his wicked curved dagger. He isn’t sure what to say, and a number of crossings out make the back all but unintelligible. But Amman has the blood-lust now.
Faith looks at his companions, who shrug impotently as Amman races around the warehouse desecrating as many bodies as he can. Ostensibly this is in the name of his goddess, but he really seems to enjoy it. He cuts off Travis’s head and, inserting his hand into the neck, makes a crude glove-puppet.
On the whole, this isn’t the sort of impression that Baron Faith wants to leave for the Gentlemen of the Black Rose.
Gellis points out that the first thing that Duke Comet is going to do when he finds these men is to bring in a cleric and Speak with Dead. At which point Baron Faith gets fingered. “So we need to cut off all the heads!” yells Amman with glee. Gellis was more thinking of taking the bodies and dumping them in the swamp for the crocodiles to eat. Faith agrees.
Amman is aghast. All his artistic work trying to leave the Gentlemen a message written in intestines and punctuated by kidneys. Surely it can’t go to waste? Faith informs him that it certainly can go to waste. He isn’t in the business of this sort of blood-letting. As for the Gentlemen, they have to assume that they were watching this place and they know what has transpired. They need to clear up and clear out. Then they must wait for the Gentlemen to come to them.
Leaving his minions to clear up the mess and dispose of the bodies, Faith returns to his town house in the Secret City to burn his clothes and have a much needed rest. He then settles back to wait to hear from the Gentlemen of the Black Rose. He does not have to wait long. A message comes mid-morning, and an hour later he and Quarlius are participating in a clandestine meeting with shadowy figures.
The Gentlemen are grateful for the baron’s actions, but realise that he wouldn’t have done them a favour if he didn’t have an ulterior motive. Faith says this is quite true, and explains the heist that he wishes them to perform on his behalf. Knowing of the nature of the Gentlemen, Faith plays up the danger and the difficulty of the task. It is a challenge that they must rise to. And they agree.
Morday, 1 Allsend 1082 PS
The Key to the Crucible is delivered to Baron Faith in the Secret City early in the morning. There is also a note from the Gentlemen stating that they consider the debt repaid. Apparently, the key was in the possession of Marques Kellit. Faith wonders how long before Kellit or Duke Griff realises the theft, and ponders what would happen if they ever traced it back to him.
Faith collects Quarlius and then heads to the Mercenaries Guild to gather his flunkies. The six take Phaid’s boat and return to the Undercity and the domain of Croxamkellvandarlis. The black dragon is waiting for them expectantly, and is extremely happy to once more have the Key to the Crucible in his possession. He hands over the scroll without hesitation.
Now that he has the Key, Croxam says that he can take leave of this place and that he will be able to regain his true size and power. Gellis already thought he was plenty big. The dragon spreads his wings, shaking the chamber that he occupies. Rubble falls from the ceiling, opening a channel to the open air. The dragon takes flight and he is gone.
Baron Faith returns to his townhouse to change, and then sends words that he wishes to meet with Baron Sarlan. He looks at the scroll tube lying on his bed. He is under strict instructions not to open it and, wanting to make a good impression on Sarlan, he decides it’s best to do as he is told. After all, if you can’t trust Baron Sarlan who can you trust?
Late in the day the Scroll of Tanmash’Mhor is delivered to Sarlan, who is grateful that Faith has managed to retrieve it with a “minimum of fuss”. Cash rewards are sent to the mercenaries, and Faith feels certain that he has gained respect in his mentor’s eyes.