Falconbridge

Chapter 2: Stir It Up













Ssibliss chirped thoughtfully to himself as he considered the ragged remains of the dead priest. The body was fresh, no more than a day old. The crows and other carrion animals had not even been at it yet. The priest had died at the very summit of the mountain pass that marked the entrance into the Namaran Valley from the north. An old, crumbled column that may have once been a mile-marker stood a scant ten feet away.
What ever had killed the man had been thorough about it, Ssibliss thought. The priest’s body was twisted and broken, right down to his individual fingers. Bones punctured the flesh and protruded from the skin like broken branches. His mouth was twisted open at an unnatural angle and his dark eyes were fixed in terror on something distant. Beneath his weather-stained travel cloak the priest wore the simple garbs of a country cleric. A small pouch on his belt held a number of coins, which Ssibliss helped himself to. There was little else to indicate his purpose on the road nor what had befallen him.
Ssibliss scrambled up a rocky outcropping and scanned the surrounding area with a wary eye. To the south the mountains turned to stony hills that sloped towards a broad valley bottom dominated by a large lake. From the heights he could make out the towers and walls of a village huddled near the western edge of the lake. Perhaps four miles away a small holdfast stood atop a hill with a cluster of huts around it. Except for a desert hawk circling high over the foothills, nothing moved.
The lizard man turned back to the north and watched as the first of the wagons creaked around a bend and into sight of the summit. Teams of dwarves put their sturdy shoulders into the heavily burdened drays, helping the horses up the road. There were a dozen of the large wagons and over seventy dwarves in the mining party. They were on their way to the village to take up employment in the mines of the valley’s lord, Baron Fenton Farling.
Ssibliss watched as Brandos, dressed now in the amour of and in the guise of a crusading knight, and Sir Tristan rounded the corner on their large brown destriers. Kasper walked alongside of one of the wagons. They were sure to make something of the dead priest, Ssibliss thought to himself. He scrambled from his perch to await their arrival…

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After the rescue of Brother Brandos from the dungeons of the White Palace the party met with Cardinal Guy de Valin, the architect of the escape, and a powerful ally. The Cardinal outfitted Brandos in the armour that he himself had worn during the siege of Lycos when he served as chaplin to the future king of Cyonia, Marshall Tyberius.

The Cardinal told Brandos, Kasper and Ssibliss that he had used his position on the Privy Council and his influence at court to try to staunch the flow of power to Bishop Tarduk and his Purelander allies, but he had been unsuccessful. The Cardinal feared that he would soon be forced off of the King’s council.

With that in mind he asked them to travel to the backwater barony of Namaran where Tarduk had been named Bishop and to whence he had dispatched the mercenary Company of the Iron Wolf. He was unsure what their intentions were in Namaran, but he feared to find out.

The party agreed to set out and were pleased to find that they could travel with a party of dwarven miners that had taken a contract to reopen the abandoned mines of the Namaran valley for Baron Fenton Farling.

The party left Ran Adin the next morning after hurriedly acquiring horses for Brandos and Sir Tristan Rigby who was to accompany them. It took them a little over three days to make the journey south to Namaran. As they crested the mountain pass that was the northern entrance to the valley they came across the shattered corpse of a Lucidian priest lying in the ditch. Little could be told about how the priest died, but it was clear from the devastation to the body that it was something very strong.

That night the dwarves made camp outside of a small hamlet north of Namaran village. Brandos, Sir Tristan, Kasper and Ssibliss took the corpse of the priest to the small keep that stood on a hill at the centre of the huddled peasant hovels. The master of the keep was Sir Darlow Colebrook, a knight sworn to Baron Farling.

Sir Darlow identified the priest as Father Francis Bretton of Namaran and was deeply grieved to find him dead. He offered them hospitality for the evening and the group accepted, dining with his family and taking a room for the night. The next morning Sir Darlow was readying his horses to take the body to the village when Brandos and Kasper declared their intention to use magic to commune with the body.

Sir Darlow was outraged and demanded that they leave his keep. His deep fear of magic was evident as he accused them of witchcraft. A standoff in the courtyard of his keep only ended when Kasper and Brandos reluctantly left while Ssibliss remained behind, hidden and forgotten.

Ssibliss was able to sneak to the shed where Father Francis was kept and managed to steal the body from the keep. When Sir Darlow found it missing he immediately stormed out of the keep with his squire and a servant behind him.

Once more Sir Darlow confronted Brandos, Kasper and Sir Tristan. He accused them of stealing the body. They refused to admit their guilt and when Sir Darlow moved to strike Brandos he found his hand stayed by a Sanctuary spell. Outraged and in fear Sir Darlow retreated to his castle.

In the meantime, Ssibliss caught up with the others and they made arrangements to access the body. Brandos cast Speak with Dead and was able to ask three questions of the corpse. He found out that the priest had been traveling to Ran Adin to petition the King and the Bishop for the return of his position as parish priest. He also revealed the name of his assailant. “Jaccob,” he whispered before returning to death.

The party turned to catch up with the dwarves who were now well down the road and nearing the village. Ssibliss remained behind to sneak the corpse back into the shed in Sir Darlow’s courtyard.

The dwarven party skirted to the west of Namaran village and made their way to the site of the abandoned mines. They found a partially constructed camp waiting for them and spent the rest of the day establishing a well-ordered row of tents.

That night, after returning the body to the shed, Ssibliss made his way south and then west. In the dark he could see the light of two separate camps, one to the south and the other to the west. Unsure which might be that of his companions he made for the southern camp.

The encampment was on the far shore of a slow-moving river in the ruins of an old keep. Human guards watched the bridge so Ssibliss swam across the waters, creeping up for a better look. Perhaps two hundred soldiers were bivouaced behind the remains of the curtain wall. They were dressed in all manner of armour and weapons. Perhaps one hundred horses were picketed on the far side of their encampment. A large pavilion in the centre drew Ssibliss’ attention. A spear outside of its door flap had a shield hanging from it: a pair of white wolf heads on a black field.

Sneaking away from the camp Ssibliss was spotted and dove into the river, swimming quickly down stream. He emerged some way from the camp and made his way north and west to the second camp that he had seen. Eventually he arrived and found it to be that of the dwarven miners.

The next morning the party joined the dwarves in the twisting tunnels of the mines. An exploratory party had gone below, led by Guildmaster Balag Stonefist to ascertain the location of the seams that they were to mine. By afternoon the party was above ground again without incident and they decided to ride the few miles to the village.

They arrived in the evening and found their way to the Lucky Penny Tavern. After gathering what information they could they moved to the Red Dragon Inn. While drinking there word came that the monks from the Monastery of the Redeemer had arrived in town on foot.

The party joined much of the village in the large central square to find two dozen ragged and dirty monks clutching what few possessions that they had. They had been evicted from their monastery by the Company of the Wolf on orders from Bishop Tarduk.

The monks sat in a circle in the square and began to sing from their prayerbook. All eyes turned to the windowless tower of Akkad that dominated the town. It was home to Lord Fenton Farling. Into the night the monks sang but the doors of the tower remained closed tight.

Kasper and Sir Tristan made their way up the stairs to the doors of the keep but no one would answer to their knocking.

Brandos, meanwhile, incensed over the lack of a response from the new village priest stormed into the church. He confronted Father Griel and in a rage he bodily dragged the priest out into the square. When Sir Tristan moved to restrain Brandos he used his divine powers to poison the priest.

Madness broke out as Father Griel writhed on the ground as the spell worked its way through his body, but not before his own spell took effect. A giant wolf with glowing red eyes and the reek of sulphur and brimstone about it appeared in the square and attacked Brandos.

Sir Tristan, who by now had had enough of Brandos’ madness, lashed out at the Lucidian monk as well. Two of the village’s watchmen who had moved to arrest Brandos quickly retreated when the direwolf appeared.

In the resulting fray Tristan managed to dispatch the fiendish beast but not before it fell Brandos. Father Griel, screaming in agony perished on the cobbled ground.

Sir Tristan and Kasper, stunned by what had happened returned to the Red Dragon Inn while Brandos was once more hauled away to a cell…

Chapter 2: Stir It Up
 

Mulligan?

Chapter 2: Stir It Up
 

Yeah, I thought that I would still leave the adventure log as it was. It sort of documents what would lead to the disaster that I opened with in Chapter 3. The last five paragraphs are essentially washed out, although Brandos will have a sort-of memory of them, as though they were part of a dream or premonition.

Chapter 2: Stir It Up
optimus_mush

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