A King's Lament

A Dark Interlude
I see plans within plans

“Wheere arrre they nooow?”, he asked with almost slurring deliberation. Each syllable stretched not for emphasis but rather because he had time to stretch it out. It was a demonstration of his desire for eternal life. He HAD the time, you did not.

“Master, when I left them, they were within twelve hours of Seecey Island. They need to stop there to re-supply their ship on the middle route across the sea. The island is populated, and the residents are hostile.” He spoke with the elocution of a prince. After all, he WAS a prince in his realm. So near the plan of fire was, a few careful lines of spell weaved the correct way and he was at home. It may as well have been a thousand miles away, and he an indigent cripple. He was not going home any time soon.

“Whaaat of the cap-tainnn? Whhaat wasss hisss answerrrr?”

“Master, the captain refused to acquiesce to our demands. I even appeared to him as King Rowan. I’ve no doubt that he perceived my ruse and refused accordingly. I then killed him by the holy flames.” There was pride in his voice as he spoke of flames. It was the only pride he could muster given his circumstances. Thirty years on the Master’s service has not given him any sense of affection to this monstrosity.

“Verrrry Wellll. Mmmonitor theirrr prrogresss. See that theey meet withhh a viiolent ennnd. Ourrr assetsss arre available to commpleatt thisss tassk. Theeey cannot reach Skegnesss.”

“Master, I will judge their effectiveness on Seecey Island. It is very possible, they will die there, or at least lose enough to be forced to return to Steele. If this is the case, we can mount another incursion to kill the Queen. If they somehow survive, I will have others greet them more violently on the next two islands. They are committed now to going forward. It is farther to return than the remainder of the trip.”

“Goood. What of the other operative?”

“Master, he is in agreement and has been well compensated. He is definitively on our side. He will comply with our requests to the letter.”

“Excelllennt. They all mussst diiie.”

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Murder on the High Seas
Second Session - 20 November 2011

While awaiting the re-supply of the Mary Celeste, the group decides to explore Astonhurst. Kokoro, Todd, and Thror choose to stay with the King and his aides. Kokoro asks about the bands that were attacking the city and their composition. Of all of the bands that attacked the city, the only ones that retreated alive were the few stone giants. Kokoro finds out that none were known to have been missing portions of their ears.

In this discussion, Todd Silverkin recognizes a former brother soldier who had been accused of theft. Thamian was an elven rogue who had the ability to change his appearance magically. He recognizes one of his aliases and confirms it with Kokoro. Thror and Kokoro shift the attentions of the King and his guard elsewhere while Todd approaches Thamian to determine his intentions.

While rifling through pockets and other “hidden areas”, Thamian spots Todd approaching and greets him quietly. Todd makes the suggestion to come along and request the King allow him to accompany the group on their mission. Thamian changes appearances again and agrees to see the him.

Upon seeing Thamian again, the King asks his guard to detain him because of theft. Todd speaks on behalf of Thamian and says he would be a benefit to the party. The King agrees to let him go as long as Thamian accepts a Geas spell saying he will bring the ore back to Steele. Thamian accepts the spell and is now on the hook to get this ore back to the kingdom or pay the penalty of the spell.

Jaque finds the halfling settlement in the center of town. The halflings were particularly hard hit by the war bands that attacked. They dmaged their courier service and killed several of the dogs they used as transport. Jaque finds out information that cofirms a representative from the country across the sea has a new ore that will be beneficial to the war cause. However, there was no mantion of a specific name of the representative.

K’Doth goes to the local library to seek out any information regarding any outsider presence recently. Herbert the librarian, a reformed Beholder, graciously greets him and is not so much a fountain of infomration but is just damn pleasant to be around. He even makes coffee! K’Doth discovers a reference to a group of Githzerai who were tasked with going after a special type of Mind Flayer known as a ulatharid. This is story sounds eerily like his own and may even indeed be a reference to this. Herbert is sore to see him go, wishes him well, and provides refreshment supon his departure.

Trig finds a Temple to Palor that is staffed by a fellow cleric. He inquires as to any needs and the priest says the outbuildings were damaged in the attacks. Trig donates 19 gold to the cause. The priest is gracious and in turn shares a wineskin of the (vingar-tasting) wine. Trig has a quaff and notes its similarity to dwarven feet.

Todd Silverkin also is part of the mage information group that tranports parts of spells and other information amongst the cadre. He has been asked to give a portion of a spell to Khalid in the town of Skegness. He studies the scroll and determines it is part of a spell that is supposed to prevent thrown rocks from being effective within a 40 foot radious centered on the target of the spell.

After setting sail from Astonhurst with specific orders from the King to get Prince Volstaag to Skegness and return to Steele with the ore, the party settles in to their routine and their palce on the Mary Celeste. Captain Standard is a hospitable host and sees to their needs aboard the ship. Prince Volstaag leads prayer studies aboard the ship and becomes the crew favorite.

Early one morning before sunrise, XO Metz is summoned to the Captain’s quarters by the steward to discover him dead with scorch marks across his body. With the only magic-users aboard the ship in the party, he sends the crew to bring them to the top of the ship. Jaque spots something moving to the east at high speed in the air and gives chase. After casting a spell, he and his bat speed up to get a glance at a large humanoid figure with red skin and horns with a large sword.

While the crew is being brought topside, Thror examines the Captain’s body to determine if there is any chance for him. He discovers that the captain has been dead for several hours by damage associated with the burns on his body. When Todd arrives topside, he confirms that the damage was caused by a Scorching Ray attack of 3 separate rays.

XO Metz is concerned that passengers may have had something to do with this. By then, Jaque returns from his encounter with the “Red Man” and relays the information to the party and the rest of the crew. K’Doth determines that by his description this sounds like an Efreet, an outsider from the plane of fire. Metz’s concerns are only eased in the sense that those responsible are more than likely not on the ship.

Thror later casts Speak with Dead and finds out that “the King” killed him because he “would not comply with his requests.” The party agrees to have a 24 hour watch schedule and sets that up for the night.

That night Trig hears talking coming from the crew compartment at the bow of the ship. He gets closer and makes out that the voices are terrified for some reason. He opens the door to the quarters and sees Captain Standard lecturing to a frightened crew. The Captain turns around and vanishes. Trig cries out a rush of air passes him and the alarm is sounded by Todd on the topdeck. Trig casts Detect Evil and senses overwhelming evil that stuns him.

Others awaken as Thror makes his way to the crew compartments. K’Doth wakes up and glimpses a puff of smoke at the end of the hallway. Trig is stunned and cannot respond to K’Doths questions. K’Doth investigates the smoke while Jaque surveys the area around the ship and Thror further investigates the ways off of the ship.

After more searching it is determined the creature got off of the ship by the air passage running on the outside of the ship into the Captain’s quarters along the edge of the ship. That next morning the ship arrives in a small cove at Seecey Island.

END – Second Session

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A Queen's Request
First Session - 6 November 2011

The Queen’s receving room smelled of lilacs. It was a welcomed change from the odor of mud, sweat and orc blood over the past few months. How strange it can be to experience a simple smell of a lilac to bring you back to the pleasantries of the court life.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria was resplendant in her magnanimity on the throne. Despite the regal surroundings, she was as welcoming as a grandmother welcoming her family home for a holiday. She is cordial and inviting to the weary group of soldiers. The Queen explains to the group that Prince Volstaag has come as a representative from the loose group of city-states across the sea to offer an opportunity to the kingdom.

Volstaag has come bringing examples and samples of ’Top Ore. This is an ore found exclusively in the mountains to the north near the Silvertop Keep. Its properties allow armor to be made that is functionally weightless and gives protection from the natural heat and cold. It is stronger than even mithral armor and can be fashioned into clothing that provides many of the same strength properties.

The Queen tasks the group to return Prince Volstaag to his country and secure the transaction then transport as much of the ore back to Steele. Upon its return, elves and dwarves in their forges will begin to fashion armor for mages that will allow the casting of spells with added protection.

In the middle of this, a group of Nightsong Infiltrators and Nightsong Enforcers begin their assassination attempt on the Queen. Two infiltrators backstab and kill the guards to the right and left of the Queen. Another reads a scroll of Wall of Stone that divides one group from another. This buys time for the attackers to go after the Queen. K’Doth goes immediately to the rescue of the Queen by drawing attacks from the other assassins and preventing flanking opportunities. Although, even with his assistance she suffers many wounds and goes down.

Sol heals the Queen ,while Thror lives up to his nom de guerre (skull-splitter), and K’Doth uses his Hat of Disguise to assume the appearance of her. This draws the attacks of the assassins who believe they have failed in their strikes. Because K’Doth is so hard to hit, he evades multiple strikes from his attackers and holds the group at bay. The remaining attackers are dispatched in turn, failing in all of their efforts to kill the Queen.

She implores the group to seek our their transport on the Mary Celeste captained by Captain Standard. They immediatley set sail to Astonhurst to re-supply before their return to Skegness. Captain Standard explains that because this time of year is when the Krakens patrol the northen and southern seas at the same time. They must take the longer central route that island hops to the far side of the sea. Re-supplying the ship at each of the islands is the only way the ships will make the long voyage.

The next morning on the approach to Astonhurst, smoke can be seen rising in the sky in the direction of the city. Jaque and his steed take to the skies to scout out the situation only to find chaos erupting in the city as bands of orcs, ogres, and giants roam the city attacking and burning indiscriminantly.

Captain standard explains they must land here and resupply. Unless the docks are on fire, they will be landing. When the ship arrives, they meet up with King Rowan who explains that this has been going on since early in the morning and the kingdom’s forces are just now beginning to turn the tide of th eincursion. Jaque and Todd take up positions on top of the roofs and see an approaching band. With preparation and valuable assistance by the King and Prince Volstaag, they eliminate the intruders.

END Session One

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Death in the Shadows
A threat to the Realm lurks in the dark

They moved swiftly and silently utilizing every shadow needed. The two in front would stop the party and stare at a spot in the wall or a doorway and study for a few minutes before proceeding unseen and unheard. The royal guards are good and in some cases are very deadly, but not tonight. On two occasions, there was no way to go around the sentries, only through them. p.

In those cases, the larger of the group waited for the go-ahead from the leaders and approached and dispatched each of the guards with precision and efficiency. Not a sound was made except for a gurgle and sigh from the last breath in their lungs. The bodies were pulled to the deep shadows to be discovered only after their mission was complete. p.

Their task would not end the war, but it would be the beginning. All good missions had a primary and a secondary task, and theirs was no exception. Two targets would fall under their blades tonight. Hopefully, quick and silent death would come with discovery to be made only after they were long gone in the darkness. Patience and focus were their best allies now. There was no room for error. Thirty minutes from now they would be on their way home with the head of the Queen in their packs….

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Beginnings

The Guard’s Perspective

“Louis, who are they?”
“I don’t know Nicholas, but they are King’s guards troops for sure. Do you see the insignia?”
“I do, but why are they here? This is for an audience with the Queen. Also, look at them. They are still covered in road dirt. You would think they could have made a better appearance before Her Highness.”
“I talked to Maggie in the stables. She said they were summoned at all haste to appear before the Queen. They haven’t been here for more than an hour. I don’t know if they even have had time to make water much less clean themselves. Besides, Maggie says they were guarding a keep in the northen regions. They ran into a roving band of Ogres that had been taking people alive for some reason. The King himself suggested them.”
“Adrian in finance said they were to be given money and provisions to travel as well as ships and a crew. He also said the Queen authorized an outlay from the Treasury of 2 million gold to be transferred in several shipments to some backwater principality across the sea. Is she mad?”
“Bite your tongue Louis!! Know your place, man! The Queen is the best hope for our home and you know it! This all started with the diplomat from Lonensdale. He’s a second-rate ambassador from a third-rate country, but he shows up for an audience with the Queen and thirty minutes later, people were scrambling. It’s damn odd. What sway does he hold? What’s that? I hear movement inside the chambers. Remember your place and guard the Queen with your life. The King may trust these troops but I do not.”
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