Campaign of the Month: February 2009

Silent Winter

The Portal
In Which Ferron and Geoffrey Go Off on an Adventure

posted by Jennifer

Ferron breathed into his hands, trying to warm them. He wasn’t really dressed warmly enough for this freakish weather, and he was beginning to feel the bite in his extremities. Geoffrey settled into position beside him, looking the other direction. The human was as good as an elf at stealth and woodscraft. It was a relief, but it worried Ferron a bit, too. His people needed the few edges they had.

There were two groups of men assembled below, in a ring of ruined stones that were all that remained of a slender tower. One was led by what could only be a mage, be-robed, be-hooded, and be-staved. He had several armed men with him. Facing him was a grizzled human fighter, gone thin and wiry with age rather than flabby. He fidgeted constantly, pacing back and forth, feeling the hilts of his weapons, pulling branches off bushes or trees. Another man, shorter and fatter, hovered nervously in his shadow. They had several more men with them who hung back silently, and a woman who sat on a stone in silent resignation. She was muffled in a heavy cloak, but Ferron could tell her clothing was of good quality.

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Session 3: Various Forms of Ambuscade
In Which Some Fights Go Badly For the Other Side

GM’d and posted by Jennifer

Naessa looked quickly at the immediate surroundings. A wall of soft stone leaned over them, with a narrow clear area running along its base. The undergrowth began about ten feet from the wall. “So I don’t surprise anyone, don’t attack the trees, all right?” she said and began to gesture and hum under her breath. For several moments, nothing happened, then a mass of roots, branches, and half-rotten tree stumps heaved itself from the stone and assembled into a roughly man-shaped form. Casidhe recoiled, horrified, as it stomped onto the path to stand beside Naessa.

Simon frowned as he felt the searching presence pass over them again—the mage must have sensed Naessa casting her spell. Naessa glanced at the elder mage in alarm, then they both relaxed as they felt the searching pass without stopping. Naessa heaved herself up into a tree in order to get out of sight, while Casidhe and Gheris secreted themselves behind a largish tree. Simon considered for a few moments longer, then walked back along the path until he could achieve a vantage point on top of the rock wall; Lothaire followed him but stayed mounted, prepared for whatever scouts might appear. Only Aidan and Kentrell remained on the path, not certain what else they should do.

“Is everyone ready?” Aidan called.

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Teresa
In Which Casidhe Arrives in Lothering.

by DarthKrzysztof

Casidhe found little to hold his interest in South Reach. His feelings about the Templars kept him from looking for work in Lothering, until he overheard a group of men talking about Black Torin and took to the road without a backward glance…

Three months ago

Casidhe knew he had less than two minutes to catch his breath and wipe the sweat from his brow before his next lesson began. He didn’t mind; he needed the practice, and he felt like he was getting through to some of these people. Besides, more clients meant more money…

His next client turned out to be a human woman, close to his age and height, with a wave of shining red hair. She was dressed to move, and wore her own sword. She was also beautiful in his eyes, but he pushed that aside; business was business. “Are you Casidhe?” she asked.

Casidhe nearly panicked. Did Black Torin send her? No, don’t be stupid. “Indeed I am,” he replied, with what he hoped was his most dazzling smile. “Casidhe Fionnlagh, trainer of duelists in the Orlesian fashion.”

“Good. I’d like a lesson, please. Will you teach a woman?”

He almost seemed offended by the question. “I’ll teach anyone with coin and the will to learn.”

She reached for her coin purse, but Casidhe waved his hand. “You can pay me after the lesson, Ms…?”

“Miss Corwin.”

“Honored to meet you, Miss Corwin. I fear the weather’s turning, though; shall we head into the gymnasium?”

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Don't Look Back
In Which Casidhe Faces Facts.

by Darth Krzysztof

Last year

Casidhe tried to get up to take care of his unconscious boss, but the Princess Anna’s captain forced him back down, and one of the deckhands slung Sim over his shoulder, presumably taking him to a bunk down below to sleep it off. “Let us handle ’im,” Captain Fallon said. “I’m enjoyin’ yer company, and yer not near drunk enough yet.”

And I won’t be, as long as you’re serving this swill, Casidhe thought behind his smile. But he feigned affection for the grog all the same. That afternoon, the ship had returned from a perilous voyage loaded with exotic silks, and the crew’s celebration had raged all over the city before ending up back here. With Sim and the deckhand gone, the galley belonged to Casidhe and the captain alone. He might not get another chance like this.

Casidhe let the captain finish his drink and pour himself another before he began. “So Captain, indulge me if you will. Earlier on, at the Golden Flask, you said that you were worried about being boarded by the navy.” Sim had shushed Fallon at the time; hopefully, the captain wouldn’t remember that part. “Some reason for that, beyond the usual?”

“Aye, it’s because Torin got greedy this trip, an’ we couldn’t fit all th’ swag in th’ blasted smuggler’s hold.” The captain swigged his grog again with a stupid grin.

Torin? Black Torin, the pirate? Casidhe once heard Phelan tell a friend about one of Torin’s lackeys coming to Luthais with a business proposition, only to be led away from the MacDaer estate in irons. Sim hadn’t been part of that meeting – or, at least, he told Casidhe that he hadn’t.

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The Pool of Fire
In Which Stennar Retrieves an Object of Some Value

Posted by Jennifer

Stennar heaved a sigh of relief when the guards waved her through. While there was little outright animosity between dwarves and humans, the cloudheads were unpredictable. She dimly heard the guards warning that kid Aidan off and shrugged. He was among his own kind now. Responsibility discharged.

The gates opened into a wide flagstone courtyard. The stonework was beautiful, unlike the crude work most humans produced. Each flag was cut into a gently curved triangular shape and fitted so closely with its neighbors that even a fumbling ancient couldn’t find enough of a gap to trip over. No two stones were quite the same color, and Stennar was sure the pattern would be lovely if most of it wasn’t drifted over with snow. She didn’t have time to dwell on it, anyway. The guards at the side gate that led to the town proper were eying her, so she hurried toward the wide, shallow stairs ahead of her and climbed up to the massive stone doors that led into the side of the Creag. They were closed, but the sally port was open. An armored head peeked out occasionally, grimaced at the weather, and retreated.

“Excuse me,” Stennar said brightly. The man turned his grimace on her. “I would like to go inside, please,” she pronounced carefully.

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Brotherhood
In Which Casidhe Decides.

by Darth Krzysztof

Two years ago

Too angry with the Maker and the Prophet and the whole damned lot of them to find any solace in prayer, Casidhe wept until no more tears would come. When he was done, he unbuckled the sword belt from his father’s lifeless body and fastened it around his own waist. The blades were his now, whether he deserved them or not.

This was no end for a man like Brandeouf, laid out on a dining room table, waiting for a hearse that should have arrived hours ago. It was no end for Luthais MacDaer, either – his corpse, still riddled with arrows, lay on the room’s other table – but Luthais was his best friend’s father, not his own.

The story of Brandeouf’s final hour wasn’t in the deep gash across his chest, but in the tiny cut on his arm, and the muddy green stain on the surrounding flesh. A poisoned blade, Casidhe thought. The bastards never would have taken him down otherwise.

Not that Casidhe had any idea who those bastards were.

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Lessons
In Which Casidhe Changes His Mind.

By Darth Krzysztof

Two years ago

“Are you all right, son?” Brandeouf asked as Casidhe entered the kitchen, sparing a moment to look up from his soup.

“Fine,” Casidhe replied. “Some ruffians jumped us outside the tavern, but I took care of it.” His frilly shirt had fared much worse than he himself had.

“I heard.” The reply was flat, even for Brandeouf.

“The guards came,” Casidhe said with his usual contempt for that subject, “of course, but there were twenty witnesses. We didn’t have any problems.”

“Good.”

He doesn’t seem angry, Casidhe thought. But who can tell? This could be going worse, anyway… “Anyway, the fight… it wasn’t easy for me. I was sloppy, out of practice. I know I could have done better.”

“Oh?” Brandeouf sipped at his spoon, eyes on his son, unblinking.

He’s going to make you ask, so you may as well get it over with. “I want to start training with you again, Father. If you’ll have me,” he added quickly.

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The Code
In Which Casidhe Learns a Lesson.

by Darth Krzysztof

Eight years ago

Casidhe’s sword slipped from his sweaty fingers as he landed on his backside. No amount of air could soothe his burning lungs; muscles ached that he’d never even felt before. And his head still rang from the night before…

“You used to be so much better at this,” said Brandeouf, looking down at him. “How sad to think that you hit your peak at the age of ten.”

“Sod off,” Casidhe growled, struggling to regain his feet – he knew better than to ask his father for help. He never would have dared to address his father in such a manner at that age, either. “There’s more to my life than this now.”

“Oh yes. Why learn a trade when you’ve got Sim to take you out drinking and whoring every night?”

“He’s a better friend to me than you ever were.”

“You’re damned right. I’m your father, not your friend.” Brandeouf snapped his sword and dagger back into their sheaths. “But you know, my own father died before I was born. And I never thought I’d be a father myself… so I’ve raised you the only way I’ve known, to be like me. But you’re almost a man, now, and I can’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.”

“What’re you saying?” Casidhe had never seen his father act like this before.

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The Duelist's Son
In Which Casidhe Makes a Friend.

by Darth Krzysztof

Sixteen years ago

Casidhe Fionnlagh wandered around the parlor, staring at the paintings. This one’s the worst, he thought. This swordsman’s posture is all wrong… well, at least it’s something to look at.

Nobody ever decorated their parlors for the enjoyment of children, and Casidhe had seen enough of them to be sure of that. He’d been left in so many during his father’s endless meetings; still, Father seemed sure that today would be different. Casidhe could only hope that he was right.

A door opened, and a dark-haired human boy, no more than a year older than Casidhe, entered the room. “You’ve got a sword,” the boy said.

Casidhe looked down at the short sword at his hip. “Sure do,” he said.

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Session 2: Enemies and Friends
In Which the Group Gains a Few Additions and Scopes Some Unfriendly Folks

GM’d and posted by Jennifer

A wan gray light penetrating the clouds was the only sign of morning. Simon groaned at the stiffness that resulted from sleeping in cave that was not truly suited to that purpose and poked his head outside. It had stopped snowing again. He could hear the others moving around behind him, pulling various bits of bread and dried meat out of their packs.

“So, we go back to town now?” Casidhe asked.

“First, I’d like to see whether I can avoid the need for a trip,” Simon said. “It wouldn’t hurt to see if anything’s had a look at the wagon during the night.”

“I can’t argue with that,” Casidhe replied.

“I think it’s prudent to prepare for battle, though,” Simon added, ducking back into the cave and beginning a round of spells. Lothaire ignored this proceeding and began getting the horses ready.

They found the wagon again without much trouble. The corpse of the wolf had completely dissolved, but the skin and bones were still intact. Simon pointed at them imperiously. “Lothaire, if you’d be so kind as to retrieve a souvenir,” the mage announced, dismounting and casting about for any magical traces. Lothaire collected some of the hide and a few bits of bone, stashing them in his saddlebags.

“Is there anything you can get from this?” Gheris asked hopefully. “Anything at all?”

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