Parts 9 & 10: A Silent Blade Cometh

A great Harn campaign with the esteemed Patrick Nilsson, AKA "The Dongmaster" as GM.

Parts 9 & 10: A Silent Blade Cometh

Postby Matt » Wed May 11, 2016 11:28 am

A MOST GENEROUS CONTRACT (session 9 & 10, Slakka PC) ...

A night in the Blood Raven was a quiet event, the atrocities on the muddy streets of the city never reached down into the basement. The code of peace as holy as any sacred ground held even enemies from reaching for their blades. Aye, the tavern was a sanctuary for those who wanted to escape the violence on the surface, though if only for a brief while. A stranger, his hood pulled over most of his face, had summoned Slakka here by leaving a message to the owner only two nights ago with the promise of an important job and a hefty reward should he succeed. As a professional killer Slakka had agreed to come but had as always made sure he would be able to escape any would-be ambush. The stranger had ordered a bottle of brandy and was gulping down his second cup while the assassin hadn't even touched his. "Well Master Slakka it is a pleasure to meet you at last. I will spare you the pleasantries and get straight to the point." He had thin lips and a light frame held up his posture. Yet there was something about this man smelling of an Agrikan. He continued."I have been looking for an assassin of skills and while I heard that the best of the lot resided down under Northaven Wharf, I did not want to take the chance of joining the crabs to find out. Someone of great power recommended you so here we are, I as the employer and you as the one with the skills to perform the job I need done."

Slakka nodded to the man to continue. "Well then..." The stranger eyed the rest of the establishment with a frown and waited. The assassin didn't mind. Caution was an admirable perk. After a while he returned his gaze to Slakka though his eyes were still hidden under the hood of his cloak. "I want a man dead. That simple. And... I will pay most generously for the deed." He shifted in his seat and refilled his cup. Slakka waited for the man to continue. "No questions? Good. Have you heard of the enmity between the two rulers of the most western province in the Republic?" Slakka nodded. By now he considered Evil Erol a good friend and the herald had told him about the bitter rivalry between the magistrate and the marshal of the Gerium province. The stranger smiled. A feigned one no doubt. He didn't seem the man who would or even could smile. "Even better. Now I have heard that you are able to read and write. This is correct yes?" Again Slakka nodded. The man gently opened his cloak and a small piece of a parchment was slid across the table to the assassin. The stranger eyed Slakka. "You are not going to read it?" Slakka drank from his cup for the first time and gently cleared his throat. "No need. You want someone dead, and I am willing to do the deed should the price be right." The hooded man shook his head as he didn't believe what he heard. "Indeed I see that I was right to come here. Your recommendations are not taken from the air. But there is more." He rose quietly taking care not to make too much fuzz.

"You need to make sure that the death of this person will look exactly as it is, an assassination ordered by someone else. Your payment rests with the owner Kedel of this establishment. He will give it to you at the backdoor if you agree. If I return to tomorrow with the money gone you will have accepted. If not... Well make sure you finish the job before winter." He bowed to Slakka and eased his way out of the Blood Raven. The assassin however was not so easily convinced and following the man proved easy. Two soldiers with torches, their livery hidden, waited for the stranger on the outside and they escorted him back to Rusu Island, also known as Temple Town. So he had been a priest of sorts. No doubt an Agrikan as Slakka had predicted. The assassin returned to the Blood Raven and sat down at the table again. Keeping his cloak around him he took the piece of parchment from his purse. Making sure that no one was close he flipped it over, read it quickly, and returned it. Slakka took a deep breath and closed his eyes. The time had come for the assassin to show his qualities, to show the world that he was one of Naveh's chosen. He smiled to himself knowing that this could also spell the end. No matter, Slakka had been born for the silent streets of Kamil and was not afraid to die, at least not like this. He ventured over to the open fire and tossed the shred of parchment into the swirling flames and carefully made sure that it was all engulfed. Then he followed the owner out to the backdoor.

"Here it is... Hgnh..." Kedel handed a heavy sack over to Slakka. "No worries Master Assassin. I am as always bound by silence." Closing the door the owner of the Blood Raven disappeared leaving Slakka alone in the dark streets of Sewer Town. Pulling his sword he strode towards home and though he was challenged once, the attackers deemed it wise not interfere with someone wielding a blade with such skill. Arriving home through the secret door at the roof, Slakka tossed the sack on his dining table. He spent the rest of the night counting the money. Mostly Coranan coins. How fitting and how generous. Over thirty pounds in silver did the stranger pay him for the assassination. Slakka let his victim's name roll on his tongue as he added the money to his chest. "Mariam, Jithias Mariam..." The Marshal of Gerium province. This would require careful planning. Slakka needed more people if he ever was to succeed. He would need someone who could infiltrate, someone who could stay hidden, and even a scapegoat. He thought of his
three friends and chuckled. Slakka had yet to make up who would be who. Before he left he would pay his friends to accompany him and make sure that Borana and her child were safe. His grandfather could watch over them but Slakka had no other child and if he failed, whatever was growing in his lover's belly, would grow up to avenge him just like he had his father...

A FEW TEETH WORTH THE GLORY (session 9 & 10, Erol PC) ...

Klyrdes' pose was impressive. He wore his full Agrikan garb, orange fire mixed with black lacquer leather, adorned with gold a plenty. At his hip a large mace dangled back and forth as the Primate leaned back in his chair. Erol had been summoned to the personal house of the master of the Mamakas and head of the powerful Bisdril clan. At first he thought he wouldn't live through the night, but discarding the invitation would have seemed as cowardly, or even worse, as a insult by both his own people and the powerful man sitting in front of him. As the evening continued it came apparent to Erol that he wasn't here to beg for forgiveness or pay for his mistakes. The primate had invited him to congratulate him on his last achievements a few months ago. Though it had been a while since the showdown with the Pillar of Fire, Erol's long scar across his mouth, and the wheezing sound made by the missing teeth as he spoke, reminded both Klyrdes and the herald of the event. "I am honored your grace by your invitation but I must ask, though bluntly as it may sound, why now, why so long after it happened?" The primate leaned across the table and grabbed an apple. Chewing on it with big bites, he swallowed and answered the herald. "Because only three days ago did my men find most of these deluded Agrikan priests and made them see their betters. We would never have found the lot if it hadn't been for you and your associates."

Erol smiled behind his handkerchief, hiding the black void in his mouth. He had been gloomy since the he was cut down by one of the renegade Agrikans, but both the wine and the praise by one of the most powerful men in the kingdom brought forward an inner glow the herald had lacked for some time. Klyrdes continued. "In fact to show my gratitude, I have brought you a few gifts. Well not alone. You see the mercantyler who lost his ship to the Pillar of Fire, or what is left of their sorry bunch of fanatics, was more than happy to get his ship back. He too sends a gift." The primate snapped his finger and in strode a servant with a silver platter. On the platter there was a silver chalice engraved with gold depicting Agrik defeating Larani, and there was a jeweled dagger besides it. Generous gifts to be sure. Behind the servant a knight jerking a chained pretty young lad brushed by to stand in front of the two men dining. Erol's scar tickled. Zaurial, the knight who had hired him to find the missing miller and then went berserk in the Lenesque house when the fanatics had escaped. By Djekesis claws, let that horrible knight be dosed by his superior. Zaurial seeing Erol for the first time since the incident had obviously not expected the herald to be in the room for his eyes darkened and he clenched his fists. "Uncle, what is this fop doing here? Because of him I have been forced to chase the Pillars across the kingdom for months. I kill this blonde fucker..." He never finished the sentence. Klyrdes booming voice made the house dead silent.

"ENOUGH! You foolish blood lusting knave. Erol Lenesque is a guest in my house and you will treat him accordingly. Understood?" Zaurial's eyes burned cool. The grandmaster repeated himself with less frenzy. "Zaurial, I am in no mood to play your father, Agrik rest his soul, but Erol here is our friend, not enemy. You destroyed those days ago. Zaurial, look at me..." The last words were said in a calm and affectionate manner. The Bisidril clan had strong bonds with each other and it was obvious to Erol that Klyrdes may not be Zaurial's father, but he acted as and was proud doing so. Oddly enough the knight let his gaze leave Erol. He took a deep breath. "Uncle you are right. Forgive me. The both of you, but I am weary of a long journey and battle. This lad is yours herald. It is a gift from a foreign mercantyler before he sailed for home. I returned his ship to him after I slaughtered the Pillars. My uncle said he would suit your taste though I think there is too little meat on the boy to be of any use in a household of a nobleman." Zaurial handed the chains to the herald. "Excuse me but I need some rest and will return below to sleep." With those words Zaurial bowed and left the room. Erol, cheeks red from having his lust so openly displayed, dried his sweaty brow and sighed. Klyrdes grabbed another apple and eyed the herald through a raised eyebrow. "You feel humiliated?" Erol shook his head. This was no time to show any weakness. "Not at all your grace, I was just a tad bit surprised that you knew about my weakness for beauty."

The primate nodded. "It is my job to know the whereabouts of the important people in the kingdom and without. I get a certain satisfaction of it as you can imagine." Erol chuckled, eased that his leanings meant nothing to such a powerful man as Klyrdes. "I am most grateful your grace. It has been a long time since I have been in a good mood but your hospitality and gifts..." Erol eyed the scared slave with interest. The boy handsome and clean, no more than twelve or so would still his needs the coming nights. The herald felt his groin ache lustily. "Well let's just say that you know how to please your guests and friends. I toast a long and happy life for you grandmaster, and may your plans succeed whatever they may be." Both men lifted their goblets and drank heartily. It was Klyrdes who continued. "Well there is more truth be told. I feel somewhat to blame since I told Zaurial to take care of the miller. Of course at the time I had no idea who he was. I want to redeem it all by these gifts and by letting one of my trusted yeomen protect you for free this year and the next. It is the least I can do. I would also like to ask you a favor if you may?" Erol not knowing what to expect nodded. "Good. I want you to deliver this letter to your cousin. It will make you look quite the hero in his eyes and strengthen our relationship." Erol didn't want to leave Golotha but it would give him satisfaction to once again to prove to his cousin that he was the finest herald of them all. Yes a travel to Techen would be what he needed. Thanking Klyrdes for the evening Erol went home. In a few days he would depart and if all went well, he would stay in Techen until spring...

HEADY ALE TELLS A TALE (session 9 & 10, Jeremiz, Mogger PCs) ...

The two tankards slammed together spilling sour ale on the filthy table. Jeremiz drank greedily and wiped the foam from his mouth smiling. "You wouldn't believe how close I was getting caught Mogger. Hadn't that knight come riding, the mercantyler's guards would have had me. Now they were forced to flee from the wrath of the horseman as they collided into his black steed. His precious no doubt." The small dwarf who sat on the table opposite the thief laughed. "I can imagine. Now what did you steal from that Coranan mercantyler? And why in the ten gods' names did you have to stay hidden for so long?" Jeremiz leaned back on the chair and sighed, his smile lost for a while. "To be honest I wasn't thinking straight. I knew the guildsman was rich, his garb spoke of it, and in my lust to steal his purse I forgot to check how many guards he had with him. When I stole the purse one of them saw me. Luckily I am always hooded when I steal something, even if it is stinking summer." The thief walked over to the open fire and added a log. Mogger who hadn't gotten any real answer asked again. "That's nice but what did you steal?" Jeremiz returned to his seat and refilled their tankards. It was a sour drink but the ale had power. It only took some time to get used to. Still it was the best one could get on a night like this. "To be honest I do not know. It was a ring of sorts, something of gold with some strange markings. And of course a few hundred pence, mostly Coranan. Jarop took it all and has kept me hidden in one of his safe houses that our guild use as a hideout. It was not home but nor hell either." They were both silent for a while.

In the background Bhurt's snoring echoed in the small chamber shaking some of the weaker foundations in the kitchen. Jeremiz continued his tale. "According to our father, the mercantyler was a member of a very powerful Thardic clan. That is really all I know about him. But I am inclined to believe Jarop. The amount of guards, the wealth, and the arrogance. Yes he was powerful and he knew it..." The last part was said with a hint of weakness. Mogger scratched his chin, raised an eyebrow and thought hard. "Well either that or you were hidden to keep Jarop's lust for money sated. But it matters little. I for one am glad to have you back. Your assault in this tavern on the thardic bounty hunters, armed with just a dagger, well that is courage right there." The midget rose and started to walk back and forth on the rickety table. The sight returned the smile to Jeremiz face. Mogger still looked the spy and he continued to stroke his chin. "Well this just reeks of oddity my tall friend. I mean Jarop being extremely careful of late, you having to hide for months because you stole a ring from a foreign merchant, and now the cold blowing in from the sea. Something is amiss." The thief emptied his second tankard. His mind was not on the past this day though telling the tale how he had almost been caught, and no doubt killed, was setting the mood. But maybe Mogger was right? There had been strange sights in Golotha. Men with no shadow walked the streets, children gone missing from Sewer Town in much larger numbers than was usual, and now this bitter cold. Fall was never this cold.

A knock on the kitchen door woke them both from their thoughts. Zhurban's voice could be heard in the tavern telling Mogger that the place was full and he needed a hand. The dwarf jumped down from the table, woke Bhurt by pulling his greasy beard, and left the kitchen with Jeremiz. The Silk Hat was indeed crowded and the smell of filthy poor stung their noses. Ignoring the stench, Mogger rubbed his hand together as he climbed his stool behind the counter. "Lords and Kings of Trevorman, I am your brewer this evening. Mogger is the name and I am the owner of this joint. What news from the world?" The customers babbled like chickens. Only a few could be heard but apparently some had seen ghosts in Northaven while others gossiped that there was a murrain amongst the sheep in the south. News as interesting as lice in the crotch of ones leggings. In the mist of all this rambling an old man, his mouth lacking most of the teeth, stood up shaking holding only a rotten cane for support. His shrieking voice reached higher than the rest. "Then tell me master brewer how much one of the lovely ladies in the other room costs? I am thinking of getting me some..." Mogger laughed while Jeremiz coughed on his ale. The man was barely able to walk. "You will get whomever is available for a penny. And an ale in the price." The old man snorted and made a face. "Hmph... A penny? I can have my beggar niece for that sum and she looks somewhat less haggard. Two farthings and skip the ale. Some things are worth less." Mogger continued in the middle of all laughter with a wide grin. "You have yourself a deal old man."

After the evening light faded and the darkness crept in, Mogger sat in the kitchen counting the money earned today. Jeremiz was still with him. The midget didn't trust many but the thief in front of him wouldn't steal or rob from him, even if Bhurt hadn't been present. They were both Lia-Kavair and stealing from a member of that guild was outside the code. The punishment was death. Though it had to be said that the longer you'd been a member and more powerful you were in ranks, this rule was less enforced. Jeremiz yawned as he made room on the floor besides the fire. There was no way of getting into the city in the middle of the night unless you wanted to waste the money. The thief didn't. "Thanks for letting me sleep here for the night innkeeper. You and I will have some... " He yawned again, his eyes very drowsy. "... Adventures yet. Nighty..." Mogger shrugged and continued to count the money. Better than most days. When he was done he turned out the lights and returned to his bed. Bhurt was already sound asleep. Lying there in the dark he thought about his life and what he had accomplished. Not much by the standards of others but to him, The Silk Hat was home. It was his castle. A muffled chuckle could be heard all the way down into the kitchen from the loft where the whores and his mother slept. It was followed by an old man's laughter. What the? The old man was still at it and he had obviously charmed the girls because Mogger could hear them giggle. Though he didn't care, the next time he wouldn't be as lenient to old men pretending they had no balls to use. This one seemed to go on forever and when the midget woke the next day he could still hear his whores giggle...

SETTING UP THE STAGE FOR A MURDER ...

Slakka has been hired by the Mamakas to kill Jithias, Marshal of the Gerium Legion. There is a simple reason for that. The marshal has been testing the strengths of the eastern Rethem border close to Senun. He has just found out that the Cohorts has changed liaisons and will return Themeson Keep to the republic (though the order will still maintain control of the settlement), and thus there is free traffic to the west. Klyrdes Bisidril also found out about the treasonous move by the Cohorts and have spent the past weeks in deep negotiations with the Herpas, their plan to eradicate the cancer growing in the republic. Not only that, the King of Rethem is getting nervous that this defection will impair his chances of getting the Earl of Techen to aid him in his attack on the Earl of Tormau. Chafin III is right. With the Themeson returned to the republic, Jithias has increased his spear rattling against the forces of the Lenesque, and it will be only a matter of time before the young cocky marshal sends a larger force to test the boundaries. With the conquest of Kuseme fresh in his mind, and the jealousy felt towards Kronas, Jithias hopes to make his military star shine as bright.

Unknown to all, most senators are thinking of replacing Jithias in the next does not want to wait any longer. The forces of the Earl of Tormau are growing and within a year or so he might have the strength to take the whole of north. Without Techen, there is not much Chafin can do except to defend the southern holdings. If this was to happen, a civil war would last for a very long time, weakening Rethem while letting both Kanday and Tharda muster their forces and pick up the pieces left from a bloody and drawn struggle. The Primate's plan is to weaken the western parts of Tharda, launch a swift attack on Themeson, pacifying most of the order, and have several key priestesses of the Eight Demons assassinated. Jithias will be killed and Klyrdes has sent a handful of spies/instigators into Tharda making sure that the two clans who each support either the marshal or the magistrate, will turn on each other and thus deteriorate the Gerium legion into a confused and chaotic force. He will also spend money (a lot of it) to several key senators who are of the Consolidation Faction (and this is but the most important of what Klyrdes has planned). It all is a scheme to get Earl Revi Lenesque to support the King in his effort "to make peace within the Rethem borders". Failure to do so will ensure that Earl Revi will focus his forces to keep his borders safe from the green-clad legion.

A JOURNEY TO THE EAST ...

Golotha is cold, very cold. There is nothing esoteric about it only mother nature having one of her fits. Unlike previous year though, there has been good harvests and the poor while struggling, are not stalking the streets in search of food and people to rob. The days of the scavengers is over (for now...). In all of this chilly weather and cold rain, both Slakka and Erol are preparing to depart to the east. Unknown they are bound by the same mission this is not apparent to either of the two men. Unless the assassin mentions what he has been through and the herald tells about his encounter with the Primate. The other two members of the party will follow Slakka if he pays enough and probably end up as scapegoats or worse. The letter that Erol is carrying contains secret information about the Cohorts treason and the promise of aid from both the Mamakas and the Red Shadows for the earl against the Gerium legion. There is one request, that the Earl sends his talented herald Erol to Geshtei and to Jithias. In letters Klyrdes writes:
"...And the wooing Erol should find out as much as he can about the marshal, his weaknesses, his passions, and if possible, steal a document or two for our cause to pacify the Gerium legion..."

The Earl of Techen is no fool and does not entirely trust the Mamakas or Klyrdes motives in all this (even less so should he know about the assassination). However he does want a stable Rethem and currently his money chests are feeling the sting of Jithias spear-rattling. Not that Earl Revi can not afford this expense but he prefers to save money for an eventual full scale war or even civil war. Or even more preferable to spend the silver on more interesting things. But he does agree to send Erol as an embassy to the marshal in a "request to negotiate a truce". The journey to Techen should go smooth and the company should have no trouble reaching the castle gates, even if the other PCs might feel that an inn in the village is safer. Traveling by boat should be wisest since the border to the south is somewhat hostile after recent skirmishes between the Hooks and the Shields. In Techen the weather is warmer but very moist and rain is on the menu most of the following days. The earl wants information about Golotha and the recent rumors about the Agrikan cult. He does not give much heed to any of Erol's friends should they accompany the herald to the castle. Earl Revi will tell Erol of the mission the next day (provided he gets the letter from his cousin) and how horribly the skirmishes on the border are affecting their lands and settlements.

THERE IS MUCH STRUGGLE AT THE BORDER ...

Once the party leaves Techen it will become apparent to them all that the borders between Rethem and Tharda is a place of turmoil. A few villages has been raided, a few cottages burned to the ground as testament, and there are lots of well-equipped companies patrolling the border. It would be the wisest to take the boat to Geshtei since traveling on foot may prove hazardous. Arriving in Geshtei things will be quite normal. There will be daily trading, church bells rising, and people going about as if nothing is amiss. However after a while it will become apparent that there is something going on. There is a lot of baggage trains with wagons and mules filling up some of the commons, and there is a lot of off-duty legionaries. Not that it matters much because strangers is not a uncommon sight and the PCs will have no trouble to walk around in the settlement. In fact with all these soldiers about it will be quite safe. The following will also be apparent (if the PCs snoop around):

    • The magistrate is not in the settlement according to rumors. He is regaining his strength in Coranan after almost being killed two weeks ago by an unknown assailant. Some claims this was done by the order of someone important in the castle but no one wants to point any fingers.
    • The marshal was assaulted by an assassin during summer but he managed to escape and have his legionaries cut down the killer. Though no proof was found on who ordered the attack, wicked tongues tells of the enmity between the the marshal and the magistrate.
    • The Eight Demons are very quiet these days. They lock themselves inside the temple walls and the guards at the gate has doubled in numbers. A few days ago battle could be heard from within the walls and though the legionaries went down to investigate nothing could be found. It is widely rumored that there is a power struggle within the order.
    • Braen Wytel, the legar and nephew to the magistrate Borisir, is currently looking for experienced guards. It is said that the legar fears for his own life more than he does his cousin. Though most deem this as nonsense since in short Braen is known as "The Puppet" in the village.
    • A Save-K'nor priest from Coranan named Cudorin has hired a small cottage owned by Yolain (nr. 23) and there is rumor that he consorts with demons. Late at night he can be heard talking to someone with an "outworldly voice". Some claims this is a prank to keep would-be thieves out from his domain but not all are so easily convinced especially not when the priest does not visit his fellow brothers at the local temple...
    • A young lad was found beaten to death and raped outside The Honey Badger and the innkeeper Jeana was suspected of the deed, but the heavy boot prints and the thorough work on the lad suggests that someone with power and perverse leanings was behind the deed. No one wants to say it out loud but many suspects it was someone from the Palace of the Magistrate.
    • There is a rumor at the local inns that there is a guild war brewing in Coranan. Considering the size of the city people like thieves, assassins, mercenaries, and other hoodlums will probably make a fortune there. It seems that the Teamsters' Brotherhood and the Clothiers' Guild are in secret battle with each other.

GETTING INTO THE VICTIM'S PANTS ...

From now on the PCs should focus on their task at hand, to woe and kill the marshal of the province. This is anything but easy yet unlike what sane men would have done, Jithias is more and more styling himself as indestructible. He survived the assassination attempt and unlike what many of his officers has recommended, the marshal believes he can't be killed so easily. He walks around unarmed, let important papers lie on tables for all to see, and he sleeps alone (since his mistress is at her cousin's villa not wanting to risk her own life). What is worse is that he does seldom lock his door to his own dormitory. The captain, who one day wants the post himself, though through other means, has stationed a legionnaire at all times outside the door of his superior. This will in fact, how ridiculous it may sound, be the hardest obstacle once anyone gets this far. The hard part will be to get access to the castle. This can be done by different means and will require careful planning by the PCs.

Killing Jithias from afar with say an arrow coated in poison is possible since the young marshal seldom wears any armour, but it would not be easy to escape without getting caught. There are a lot of soldiers patrolling the streets and the edges of the settlement and Jithias is popular with the local populace. And once caught justice will be swift. To best plan this killing will be to send in Erol to investigate, let both Jeremiz and Mogger entertain the officers (using their legerdemain and Mogger's size), while Slakka enters the castle dressed as a guard. The latter will not be as hard as one may think since there are a lot of new legionaries in Geshtei. The problem will be to get hold of the livery and the armour of the legion. Much of what happens here on will be by freeform adventure but there are some guidelines for the GM. Mostly what will be apparent to the PCs after a while:

    • The officers loves entertainment as does their marshal. This will be a crucial factor to keep the most important people like officers occupied (because anyone sneaking into the castle will not be as easily questioned).
    • Erol will be quartered in the room of the mistress (nr. 2 on the fourth floor). It is empty but quite comfortable. Unfortunately for Erol he will have a veteran guard outside his room who does not leave until late in the night (and who follows the herald's side at all times in the castle, though he does not go outside the castle). Erol will be able to see Jithias sloppy behavior after only a short while like a day or two. Captain Faerin however will warn Erol not to "try any funny business" and that he keeps an eye on the herald.
    • Negotiations with the marshal will be short but it will become apparent that the young man is suffering from delusions of grandeur. According to Jithias he is not looking to attack the earl's holdings but to make sure that the latest chaos in the west is taken care of. It will be apparent that the marshal is lying. Though it would be unwise to anger him. Erol may stay for four days.
    • Roughly a hundred or so legionaries has been added to the already sixty stationed in the settlement. This makes the castle crowded and alive though many of these are stationed in tents instead of adding them to the castle. The reason for this is that they are "soon to depart".
    • Entering the castle dressed as a guard will only work with Slakka. He is the only one who remotely looks like a soldier. Neither Mogger or Jeremiz will be able to and Erol must be the one who enters as an embassy. The best way to kill the marshal is to take out the guard quickly without a sound (if he screams then it will be all over), sneak into the marshal's room and kill him, and then escape coolly.
    • Poisoning Jithias will not be easy. He always dine with his men and fellow officers and never takes any beverages in his room. Not even when if someone hands it to him in good gesture or as a gift. This has nothing to do with having a fear of being poisoned but more akin to Jithias nature to dine with his men.
    • Getting the livery of a soldier or an officer will not work in the castle, only with the soldiers who are off-duty. Many of these are part time legionaries and would never say no to ale or wine. So it would be easiest to get someone drunk and then steal his clothes. The trick is to make sure that one of them is alone since they usual roam in packs of five or so.
    • During one of the nights a rider comes to Geshtei. Should the PCs have a look-out or otherwhat have an eye on the courtyard, they will notice that he is a knight of The Cohorts of Gashang. He will deliver a letter to the marshal, eat something and then depart for Themeson. The PCs might overhear him say "Marshal, all the preparations are in order" (they know that the Red Shadows are to attack and are prepared for it).
    • Later on Jithias will ride out seemingly unarmed with only two light horse for protection. This is nothing unusual because he does it all the time. However if the PCs has decided to stalk him daily he will rest in a meadow NE of Geshtei after relieving himself. This may be an oppertunity though if one of the horsemen escapes to call for help, the PCs will be hunted indeed.
    • The marshal is often down in the camp at the commons, making sure his men are impressed by the young warleader's courage. He rides down there often only accompanied by the captain of the Geshtei forces. When he visits the camp he usually returns at dusk (where someone could wait for him with a crossbow and some poison...).
    • A few days later Borisir returns to Geshtei with his entourage from his hiding place in Coranan. His legar nephew has assembled enough men for the former to feel safe. In truth he has heard of the mass-assembling forces and has been sent by a few senators to investigate properly (since Borisir has more spies in the castles and amongst the soldiers than they do). He will first pay the PCs no heed should they contact him. But if they do and sort of hint what they intend to do, he will be most cooperative (though not so stupid to give away himself or any info he might have). The magistrate might even suggest that he help them into the castle to get the deed done...

From here it is all up to the precautions taken by the PCs and the discretion of the GM. A quick escape is of the essence. To linger would be foolish since most strangers will be gathered by the legionaries and questioned. Any signs of blood or suspicious behavior will immediately warrant an arrest. To make a great escape the PCs should have a boat handy. Traveling by foot will spell doom unless they are on horses. The idea is to reach Techen safely and then stay hidden either there or in Golotha for the coming months...

CAMPAIGN ADDS ...

This adventure was not bound by a story or a script telling the players what would happen. More than ever it took a lot of GM discretion and a lot of player planning to take it from A to B. The introductions were written in such a fashion that they really did not tell what the PCs must do or how to proceed. Slakka was the main character of this tale because he accepted a job from an unknown client (a priest from the Mamakas). The others were not bound by any contract or job, except for maybe Erol who delivered a letter, written by the Agrikan Primate, in person to his powerful cousin in Techen. Little did he know that he was to assist Slakka. Mogger came along lured by the silver the assassin paid him. Before I wrote this adventure I had a chat with Dan who plays Slakka about his character. During that conversation I found out that Dan wanted the assassin to become nr. 1 in Golotha, passing the fame of Jan- an-Aral. Hence the intro (I didn't bother to write a second one because of lack of time). But as often the will of the GM is not the will of the PCs (that also became apparent when Darius had to go home because he wasn't feeling to well)...

Time: 4th Halane Golotha
Days: 4th - 27th Halane (23 days all in all)
Characters: Slakka, Erol, Mogger, and Bhurt
Players: Dan, Jonny, and Lars
Date: Saturday 1st May 2004 + Tuesday 4th of May 2004
Length: 16:00 - 02:00 (we have no real life...) + 19:00 - 01:30 (and this proves it...)

Notes: Blimey what cool two sessions! The players were more than careful, especially Lars and his character Erol after the last adventure, and it took them heavy planning, investigating and stalking to find a way to kill the marshal. Slakka confided to his two friends that he intended to kill the marshal and wanted their help. Erol who was working in the interest of his master the earl, wanted to check out the castle first and act upon the info found there. Most of the events above took place but the PCs never acted (or dared to). Erol failed miserably in his attempts to negotiate with Jithias and Mogger though appreciated by the officers, was also cast out from the household when Erol was politely asked to leave (after four days).

Sulking away at the taverns the PCs tried desperate methods (and Mogger even showed his shape changing talent to the other two). They tried to lure the marshal after Mogger who had delivered a scroll in hound shape to the castle guards but the plan was foiled when the letter was delivered first to the captain. With the return of Borisir in town the captain and the other officers ignored Jithias orders to be casual about the protection of his character. Hence the possibility of closing in on the marshal diminished each day. That is when Erol decided to use his heraldry skills and set up a meeting with the magistrate.

There was a big difference between negotiating with a boyish soldier and then a refined statesman with the same taste in pleasure as Erol (this was for once to the heralds advantage). The discussions were a lot of fun to play out (session 10 was without a doubt the greatest so far) and Erol and Borisir agreed to help each other (but they kept the discussion at such a level that someone without hearing them would never have assumed they talked of murder). The magistrate and the herald agreed to have someone enter the castle and "clean out the rat". Erol would provide with the deed, and Borisir with the means.

Though Erol was promised silver and jewels should he succeed, he didn't trust the magistrate's help in escaping though he agreed to do follow his advice. Setting up his own escape (by hiring slave fishermen in a northern village which, ironically was held by the Wytel clan) he told Slakka and Mogger of what to do. Borisir would provide Erol with equipment for a sergeant and make sure that the "cleaner" could access the castle using those. Borisir then sent a message to Sinizar, Commander of Noru district telling him to travel to Geshtei and grease up Jithias ass (Borisir also told him that he would eradicate the problem if the commander made sure that a few of his men could sleep in the castle, especially a scarred sergeant...).

Said and done, during a rainy night Slakka dressed in the clothes of the legion, drank a few ales, spilling a lot of the content on his clothes, and went to the castle. Within he pretended to be a drunk sergeant and was helped up to the dormitory above the floor Jithias slept (the commander of Noru would sleep in the same room as Erol had done). He tried several times to get to the guard outside the commander's room but movement in the castle at night made him hold his hand. Knowing that the opportunity was about to slip from his fingers Slakka made for a final kill. Once again feigning being drunk he moved down with a tankard and a dagger coated in Gaethipa. The guard never knew what hit him.

Killing the guard proved easy and Slakka entered the room of the marshal, slitting his throat and stealing as many documents as he could (something Erol would pay handsomely for), and then returning to his bed for a few minutes to calm himself. Before long he returned down to the first floor hoping to convince the guard below that he needed fresh air. This didn't work so Slakka had to kill a second guard. He then snuck out into the night. Knowing that he couldn't escape by the gates that were still closed and guarded, Slakka went for the walls but he was seen by an archer who started chasing him. The assassin seeing a fellow guard join the first didn't deem it wise to stand a fight and decided to take his chances and jump onto the wet grass below. He seriously injured himself but was able to flee the town as the sound of the alarm horn was heard.

Erol and Mogger had waited in the middle of the night with the fisherman slaves (who were paid a fat amount of silver to help them escape before dawn) a league north of Geshtei. There they entered the boat and left for the Kanday border. Little did the party know that Borisir had set spies on the castle and were chasing the PCs. In two boats the PCs were gained upon by the magistrate's men and firing of bows occurred between the PCs boat and the two other vessels. But thanks to the skill of Slakka they were able to down a few men on the other boats before these gave up and returned back (two of the men had grievous wounds and one died when a bolt from the assassin struck him in the eye). The PCs landed at the shore on the Kanday side of the river where the killed the slaves and hid the boat. Then they in all haste made it to the west, seldom stopping, and crossing the river at Ewen to Techen.

Erol was rewarded with higher salary for the documents and the deed of Jithias (Slakka didn't want to let people know he did it) and the party could after resting return to Golotha. Mogger had left Bhurt behind so he never joined the rest of the party of the journey. Afterwards the players told me that this had been the most stressful and sweaty session they had played ever. I am inclined to agree with them. There were more than a few times when I thought they were gonna get caught and the duel in the boats will be a classic. Dan who plays Slakka was shaking when the session was over (something he does when combat occurs in the game) and told me that he thought the assassin was gonna die this session. It was close that he did too.

But what really did make it successful was great roleplaying, superb planning and a lot of good rolls with the dice...
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Matt
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