Notes for Game 11
December 19, 2006 in real time
Sagesse felt a figure approaching from behind. His arms were grabbed and he felt shackles being applied to his wrists. The soldier behind him lifted the sleeve of his robe and said something in Krondrelli, revealing the shackle that was already there, a reminder of Sagesse’s quest and his failure in the test. Malthus, also held well, felt shackles applied to his hands quickly as well. Below in the boat, Atalonia turned to Marqsam:
Atalonia pressed one of her breathing stones into his hand, saying, “Vaya conmigo,” motioning for him to follow, she grabbed her decorative box of belongings, stood, and jumped into the water.
Marqsam was unable to understand her very well.
Marqsam says to the prince, “I’m going after her.”
Aiden “Do what you must.”
Marqsam “Meet you at shore.” He dove in to follow her, trying to decide whether or not to use the stone or to save it. He palmed the stone.
Aiden Addressing the soldier who overlooked the edge of the ship, “We wish permission to… go aboard.”
He was greeted with no response, and the rope ladder had been cut. Aiden began to grapple at the side of the boat. Roscius looked at him curiously, and then out over the water, wondering how he was to get aboard or ashore by himself. The guards began to lead Malthus and Sagesse toward the fore of the ship. There seemed to be a hatchway open there.
Sagesse saying over his shoulder to the commander, “What’s to become of us at this point?”
Commander “You’re already prepared for. We’ve more of your brethren. You’ll be placed with them. (To Aiden) Stay down! No!”
Roscius could be heard addressing the commander then, and soon other guards joined the conversation in Krondrelli. Some sort of negotiation was afoot, but it soon was out of earshot for the shackled priests as they descended a staircase into the hull.
Marqsam and Atalonia were soon being helped aboard Julius’ overladen dinghy. The little vessel was barely floating with the extra weight, but all aboard seemed to have grown comfortable with the idea that water was going to fill whatever cursed vessel they tried.
Julius “Well, we’re allowed to either enter the island here or go around to the other side. Seems like this is safe harbor for as long as we stay loyal to the Source—er—as long as we say that we’re loyal to this prophet Lineus.”
Julius “I think it was ‘Lineus.’ So… I see no reason to go further today. This is the port where we were going to be able to get the glass, although we have no reason to obtain it now. I guess we’re going to need to go ashore and regroup. We’ll just try to find a place. You fellows can begin rowing. That looks like a good port to land right there.”
Other ships were patrolling this side of the island as well. It seems there was no chance of getting by without being seen. Marqsam was concerned with his inability to understand Atalonia and the slow progress learning Krondrelli.
Atalonia “Estes son nuestra gente. Necesitamos ganar dinero.”
Atalonia “Sí, dinero.”
Marqsam’s concern turned to the prince and bard. He looked back to see them trolling along side the ship for a while, and as his own little dinghy crossed the bow of the ship to the starboard, he lost sight of them. He wondered what would become of them. After several minutes, he still did not see them rowing. They must have stayed with the ship. Soon Marqsam’s carnival group reached a very tall dock, and another rope ladder was lowered. Julius ascended first, and some formalities were afoot, trying to establish a lingua franca between him at the port guard. They seemed to find common ground. They seemed to be re-verifying that he was aligned with the Prophet Lineus. Soon other members were climbing ashore and taking their own oaths. Finally, it was Marqsam’s turn at the top of the ladder, after Atalonia had sworn. She waited atop for him.
Port Guard (brokenly) “Do you… swear… your allegiance… to the Prophet Lineus?”
Marqsam “If I have to.”
Port Guard (looking perplexed) “Do you… not ally with Lineus?”
Port Guard “The prophet Lineus!”
Marqsam “Do you have some of his teachings? A book I could read, maybe?”
Port Guard “Are you allied with the Source?”
Marqsam with his most practiced poker face, “The what? Oh! That other thing. Naah!”
Port Guard (To Julius, who was walking away quickly from the debacle) “You there!”
Marqsam “I’m really more of a merchant type… You know, trade.”
Port Guard “Come back here! ¿Dónde pienses que vayas?”
Julius, cringing, returned and tried to look confident.
Port Guard (To Julius) “Is this one of your men?”
Julius “Uh, hm… He’s a traveling companion of ours.”
Port Guard “Is he allied with the Source?”
Julius “OH! No! No. He’s a… a follower of Lineus. Aren’t you, Marqsam? (Marqsam tried on his best dumb, unknowing expression) He’s not that bright! Actually.”
Julius “He’s a sort of a savant… an idiot savant. Some things he does well. We keep him around.”
Port Guard “Then you must keep him with you! You keep track of him, and you’re responsible for him.”
One of the guards passed forward a card with a twine tied to it through a hole. The Port guard wrote something on the card and then folded and ripped it in half along a set of perfectly round holes that had been cut into it. The free end was given to Julius, and the end with the string was to be tied around Marqsam’s neck. One of the three guards reached a hand down to help Marqsam the rest of the way up the ladder, and as he came up, another tied the card on the string around his neck. Marqsam’s tag card was crudely died a light blue, and it was tied so close to his neck that he could not read what was written on it. He had seen that much of the writing seemed to have been printed by a press.
Marqsam “Do you have anything in red?”
Julius (Interrupting to avoid further conflict) “I guess you’re my charge! Let’s go!”
Marqsam “Good luck with that.”
They both chuckled over the idea.
Julius “As long as I’m not given too much trouble over it.”
Marqsam’s eyes wandered back out to sea as he wondered where the prince and Roscius had ended up in the exchange. All he could see was the ship that had taken the priests turning toward the port. The little dinghy that held his companions was nowhere to be seen, either sunk or taken aboard the ship. There was nowhere for the dinghy to hide behind the ship as it was headed straight at port. The wake of the sleek military vessel would have been a terrible place for the little boat; it could not be tied there long without capsizing. Something had become of it.
Julius “Well, come on. Let’s try to find a place to sit down and have a very stout drink. You think?”
Marqsam “I could use one of those.”
Julius “Did you bring that mumbaye with you?”
Julius “Well, son of a bitch.”
They began walking along the dock toward the bustling town. Now that Marqsam was amongst the towers, he realized that this was the most amazing sight he had ever seen, even having viewed the great city of Maybourne in Westend. The towers shimmered in the sun, being made of a material that looked like white sand and crushed glass somehow cemented together. Never had he seen buildings this tall, towering hundreds of feet into the air and made by the hands of man in the shape of giant, perfect obelisks. There were smaller buildings as well, but the skyline was dominated by the obelisk structures. Marqsam followed along with the carnival group as they crossed over the white sand beach and onto a colorful road to see the streets bustling with figures robed in every color. Each wore a simple head covering that matched or complemented his or her robe, and they went about hurriedly. Marqsam was drawing stares just as much as, if not more than, the carnival freaks in his company. He became very self conscious of the tag around his neck, and tried to spin it around to hide it under the back of his shirt collar, since his chest was bared and revealing the nuisance tag. He could see other guards walking around the area as well, and realized that they were watching him intently.
Back on the sleek military vessel, the priests had been led underneath. The outside of the ship was covered in shiny ornate metals and decorative detail, and inside even this hold set up for prisoners was a thing of beauty. A chain ran down the center of the ceiling there, attached to the ceiling every few feet and swaging down to accommodate various heights of prisoners. Each priest had a pair of guards, one firmly grasping each arm. Sagesse was the first to be attached to the center chain. His hands, already shackled behind him, were raised painfully toward the ceiling as far as he could stretch, causing him to bend forward in a most awkward position, and each roll of the ship on the waves would threaten to throw him off balance and injure the muscles of his tortured arms wrenched up behind him.
Sagesse “I don’t know that I’m tall enough for this,” he could feel the tendons painfully stretching in his shoulders.
Malthus was similarly confined. When his arms were painfully stretched behind him, he heard a clinking sound locking him in to the torturous position. The prisoners could make out that there were guards stationed down here to watch them, but they were positioned so that the prisoners could not lift their heads enough to really see the guards and make out their stance. [perception checks made, Malthus by 3, Sagesse by 9] Three staircases led up, the large one they had been led down, and two smaller ones toward the fore, but the guards and the restraints made escape impossible. The boat sailed on slowly toward its dock. Sagesse could barely hear the sounds of Roscius’s voice wafting down to his ears speaking in a foreign language. After ten or fifteen minutes of foreign conversation, there was laughing from Roscius and quite a few of the men aboard. Though the bard had not been singing, it was obvious that he was using his silver tongue to try to ease the situation.
Sagesse “Sounds like Roscius made it aboard.”
Malthus “That’s good to know.”
Marqsam had only tucked his tag into his collar less than a minute before he felt a startling grip on his right arm. A soldier was holding onto his arm and fishing for the tag in his collar. He jerked it around toward the front. Marqsam looked at the heavy bronze plates of armor that hung all around the soldier’s person, and decided not to complain much, gritting his teeth and staring into the soldier’s eyes. The soldiers seemed to be everywhere in this town, moving in platoons, standing at corners, maybe more soldiers than commoners. He would have to find the opportunity to remove the tag later.
Soldier “No Muevalo! Vaya!”
Julius was beginning to address random folk in the street, perhaps trying to find a suggestion of where to go. Marqsam still felt that all eyes were on him, people even stopped to stare at him in particular. Perhaps one of them even tipped the guard off that he had been trying to hide his tag. The townspeople seemed slightly afraid of Marqsam and what his tag denoted. Looking back toward the port, he could see the boat docking. Nearby, Julius seemed to be getting some directions. As the boat docked to the south, Julius and his party began to follow their newfound guide to the north, and it seemed that Marqsam would lose sight of the ship that held his comrades if he followed the carnival group.
Marqsam (to Julius) “Where are we going?”
Marqsam “Where are you going?”
Julius “It seems to be a little place where… people like us go, according to him. You know, vagrants, pirates, people who don’t belong here. Ha! I figured that’s as good a place to start as any (he chuckled). We’ve got to make a plan.”
Marqsam “What’s the name of that place?”
Julius “It’s called ‘The Compass Box.’”
Marqsam “The Compass Box?”
Julius “Yeah, but in their language… Come along.” (He spun on his heel and continued to follow their guide)
Marqsam (Remaining) “Shouldn’t we wait for Aiden and Roscius?”
Julius “You think they’ll be coming?”
Marqsam [unintelligible, perhaps something about money]
Julius ran up and stopped the guide. They talked and gestured back toward the ship. Marqsam began to wander toward the dock again.
Julius “Atalonia, porque no te quedas aquí? No se si eso es la dirección más seguro para ir.”
It appeared that Atalonia would look after Marqsam, but remain behind with the carnival group. Nobody really felt comfortable on Freheit Island, but particularly the ladies were out of sorts.
Marqsam “I’ll be back,” he said to the mermaid who seemed to understand.
Aboard the ship, the priests were being unchained and led, shackled, up top. Once above, they could see that Aiden and Roscius were mingling with the soldiers, and Roscius was allowed to approach the priests. He made one last witty comment as he walked away from the group of guards, and they all laughed and began talking to one another. The priests still had a guard on each arm as they met Roscius.
Roscius smiling at the priests, perhaps trying to hide the nature of their conversation from foreign ears, “You are in some very deep shit.”
Both priests returned grimacing smiles.
Roscius “I haven’t really been able to do anything about that yet, if I can.”
Sagesse “And, since you put it so eloquently, what kind of shit am I getting into?”
Roscius “It seems that there is some sort of little war going on on this island, between this Prophet of Lineus and a faction of the Source, and that in the last two or three days here, it seems to have come to a head. So, they’ve been generous enough with their information to tell me that they’re taking any representatives of the Source prisoner, and that they have a score to settle.”
Malthus looked left and right to see whether the guards that held their arms seemed to be understanding any of this. They seemed oblivious.
Malthus “Over our dead bodies I’m sure…”
Sagesse “Very Nice. Do we know how they’re going to settle the score?”
Roscius “They said that they would settle it very soon, but they weren’t exactly… divulging any specifics. It was almost as if they were sworn to some sort of secrecy. Even with my best cunning and friendliness, I can’t make them feel like they’re safe to say.”
Sagesse “Well, if you would be so kind as to take my items from me, you can have them. Because I don’t think I will need them right now.”
Roscius “Oh, certainly.”
Roscius untied Sagesse’s simple belt frowningly, and added it to his collection of more stately goods.
Roscius “Malthus, is there anything I can do to make your stay more comfortable?”
Malthus “You could free me and give me two swords.”
Roscius “I’m afraid that might not sit well with our hosts.”
Sagesse “You could tell them that he’s not a representative of the Source. That might go over well.”
Roscius (To both) “Would you like for me to do that?”
Malthus “Eh. I would die for it.” [not sure of that transcritption].
Roscius “OK. I think that it would be in your best interest to ‘admit’ that you don’t follow the Source.” The bard’s eyes wandered over the faces of the guards to see if they were catching any of this.
Malthus (to Sagesse) “Do you have a plan?”
Sagesse “I uh… I usually don’t.”
Malthus (nervous laughter)
Sagesse “I usually take a look at the surroundings and beseech the Source for an answer. At this point I don’t have one.”
The guards did seem to react to Sagesse’s pronunciation of the word Source.
Malthus “My plan doesn’t work when I’m in shackles.”
Malthus was considering denouncing his alignment with the Source.
Sagesse (to Roscius) “If you would be so kind as to let one of these men know that I would like to speak to the leader before I get tossed off of it, I would appreciate it.”
Roscius approached the captain of the soldiers, he who had been in charge when the captives were taken, and spoke to him in his own tongue. The big bearded man seemed to smile and accept his approach. Still smiling, he walked to Sagesse, but the moment they came face to face, his smile dropped into a sneer.
Sagesse (With a grim visage) “I haven’t but just recently learned of this war. And I’m sure that that doesn’t mean much to you…”
Sagesse “But… I too oppose this war. I think that this war that the Cardinal is waging is unjust.”
Commander “The Cardinal?”
Sagesse “I would assume, if you are at odds with the Source, followers of the Source, that it would come from…”
Commander “Well it is news to us that it would come from so high as the Cardinal.”
Malthus “We’ve been on a small island; we are unsure.”
Sagesse “Yes, I have been banished to a small island by the Cardinal,” with a sidelong look at Malthus, “and only just recently he sent an assassin to terminate me.”
Malthus “Which didn’t work out.”
Sagesse “And only since then have I learned that there is some conflict involved here. If you are saying that you oppose this war, then I oppose it as well.”
Commander (Gruffly) “Soldiers don’t oppose war.”
Malthus (referring to Sagesse) “Does he look like a soldier?”
Commander “I do… And that’s all you have to say?”
Sagesse “Well, what I’m saying is that… I’m on your side if you are opposed to this war.”
Commander “I don’t oppose the war; I oppose the Source.”
Malthus “He says so, but he has it within him.”
Sagesse “I would not say that I oppose the Source, for all those that are being killed are a part of the Source.”
Commander “They’ve taken 17 of our children, and they’ve taken our holy Imam. But we’ll settle the score.”
Malthus “What if we were to get the children and your holy Imam back?”
Commander “Only if you can bring them back from the dead. For that’s how they’re taken.”
Sagesse “I regret your loss.”
Commander “As do we all. Duly noted.”
With that the commander turned to walk away.
Sagesse “Very well. I could be of some assistance, but you choose to turn away from me. So be it.”
Commander “You will be of assistance… in the quantity of one.”
A look of questioning passed over Sagesse’s innocent face, and he looked to Malthus for clarification.
Malthus “Sixteen to go.”
The answer satisfied the question, but not the situation. The priests were led across a gangplank onto the dock. Malthus offered a few curses to the guard on his right with a genial tone of voice. The guards seemed to be discussing one of the naughtier words that he used in their own language, but obviously missed the main of the message. They snickered at the foreign curse word.
Marqsam began walking briskly toward the docks, and made it to within twenty feet before he heard guards, again, running to check his tag and see to whom he belonged. A pair of them approached from one side and another pair from the other. One of them was reaching out for his neck tag. Marqsam dove behind an unobservant man in the crowd and then appeared on the other side of him, kicking the first guard’s foot and causing him to tumble to the ground. Another guard, behind him, tripped over the first who was sprawling on the ground, and Marqsam tried to spin and duck behind another passer by. Another guard was already in pursuit of him.
Marqsam bending and reaching down to offer a hand, “Are you OK?”
He went to one knee just as the next guard dived at him, and the armored figure went sailing over him without making any contact. The guard landed on his face doing a half somersault.
Marqsam “Can I help you up?”
The first guard swatted Marqsam’s hand away. From behind him, Marqsam heard a voice.
Guard “Get down on the ground!”
Marqsam “I am on the ground”
Guard “All the way down!”
Marqsam spinning toward the shouting guard, “Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong here, just trying to make my way through the crowd—trying to help a soldier out.” He began to stand and back away.
The priests were being led down the dock toward the massive shimmering towers, followed by Aiden and Roscius.
Guard (to Marqsam) “Stay exactly where you are! Get down on the ground!”
Marqsam “Do you know what this thing means?”
Guard “Yes, I know exactly what it means! Where is your keeper?”
Marqsam “Can you tell me what it means?”
Guard “It means that you need a keeper.”
Marqsam (Pointing at Aiden) “Well my keeper is down there.”
Guard “Well that’s the reason that we’re running at you. You need to stay with him!”
Marqsam “Well I was trying to get to him!”
Marqsam continued to back away toward Aiden who was on the dock, and the guards began to close in on him.
Marqsam “Why do I need a keeper again?”
Guard “Well, let me read the card. (Marqsam allowed it) It says here that you are of an undefined religion.”
Marqsam “…An undefined religion.”
Guard “Yes. We don’t know whether you’re honest or not. We don’t know with whom you stand.”
Guard “That’s why you must stay with him.”
Marqsam “If you know where he stands, don’t you know where I stand?”
Guard “Not necessarily. Obviously not.”
Marqsam “Maybe we can clear it all up.”
Guard “Come this way.”
Marqsam was led to the place where the dock met the sand, and the parties converged there.
Marqsam “Hey look, I made friends already.”
Sagesse “As always.”
Guard (to Aiden) “He says he’s with you. You’re his keeper?”
Aiden “I’m… sure.”
Guard “Where is your card?”
Aiden “I don’t have a card for him, per se. We’re just good friends, that kind of thing.”
Guard (to Marqsam) “Who is your keeper? Who has the other half of this card?”
Marqsam “Some guy over there,” gesturing in the general direction of where he left Julius.
Guard “Some guy?”
Marqsam “Yes, the captain of the ship that we were shipwrecked on. Could he (Aiden) be my keeper instead?”
Guard “I’m not in charge of such things. You should have made a healthier designation.”
Marqsam “I didn’t understand what they were saying; none of them spoke my language.”
Guard “It’s always the same excuse with these things.”
Julius was languidly approaching, trying to seem only slightly interested. The group was now surrounded by a total of eight armored guards. Marqsam had brought things to a halt with his shenanigans.
Marqsam (quietly to Aiden) “And our allegiance is to???”
Aiden “Oh, um, the Prophet Lineus.”
Marqsam “The Prophet Lineus? Then why do we have this card? My allegiance is to the Prophet Lineus!”
Aiden “Then why DO you have this card?”
Marqsam “I don’t know! I couldn’t understand what the guy was saying! It sounded like he said something about pushing me back off the pier.”
Guard “Hold on…”
The captain of the guard was approaching.
Captain “I was speaking to him, and I’m not so sure.”
A few sentences followed in their own language, along with various gestures to Aiden and then to Julius. Julius inserted himself into the conversation, and soon Aiden was bold enough to stick his foot into the conversation as well. After a while the card was traded from Julius to the guards, and from one guard to another. Roscius joined the bartering as well, and with that, everything appeared to go more smoothly. A few more sentences were written on it, and then it was finally given to Aiden.
Marqsam “I think I’ve been traded.”
Sagesse “I think Julius got a very good price out of you.”
Malthus “Yes, freedom.”
The procession of the prisoners began again. Sagesse and Malthus were led at the front, and Aiden, Marqsam, and Roscius followed them straight through the square. Many other people were starting to fill in behind them, starting something of a celebration behind the group of prisoners. Strange music was floating around their ears with foreign lyrics and odd sounds. People began to sing along with it. They walked for walked for some time [20 minutes].
When they passed Julius and his entourage, the flamboyant man was questioning his guide and his reaction was of astonishment. Julius and his crew came to a door, while still within ten minutes walk of the docks, where their guide directed them in. The path had been straight, all down one main street toward a little gathering area, not as big as the harbor square, but large enough to allow people to congregate in front of shops. The streets were growing crowded. Something was on the verge. Armored patrols of three, eight, sometimes a dozen marched around, paying no mind to the procession, but the people were gathering in close and eyeing the prisoners. Julius and his group stopped at the doorway where they were led, looking bewildered, and sadly watched the prisoners disappear into the crowd.
At the end of their processional, the prisoners, Sagesse and Malthus, were brought to a large town square densely packed with people. Finally, through the sea of people ahead, three ten foot tall posts could be seen rising out of the tumult. The posts were protruding from a platform, and some robed figures seemed already to have been chained or tied to them. Rotten produce flew from the audience at the restrained figures on the platform. Sagesse and Malthus had a few of the stinking vegetables hit them as well, but most people were afraid to raise the ire of the guards that so closely constrained them. So far, they had not been hit in the face with anything.
On the stage, tied to the furthest left post was a man in a white robe and two somewhat smaller figures, boyish ones, in gray robes. On the center post was tied a man in red robes, which Sagesse and Malthus took to be the robes of an archbishop. He was the only figure in the middle. On the right side, two men in white robes were restrained. One of them spat and sputtered violently to get the taste of something rotted out of his mouth and nose. The procession continued up to the platform.
Marqsam pulling on Aiden’s shirtsleeve and speaking quietly, “What are we going to do about this?”
Aiden “We better do something. You got any ideas?”
Marqsam “Well, we have to get out of here in one piece.”
Aiden “Well I want to make sure that we take… I don’t want to lose anyone.”
Marqsam “I was sort of hoping that they would take them to a deep dark dungeon somewhere and we could go and rescue them.”
Aiden “That’s kind of what I was expecting.”
Marqsam “It doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.”
Aiden “Nope. Looks like they were ready for a party. And we came at the wrong time.”
Marqsam “Maybe Roscius could talk them out of it.”
Aiden “Well that seems to be the most promising idea so far. What do you think Roscius?”
Roscius “Well… To whom do you suppose I should speak?”
Marqsam “See anyone official looking?”
The only people round about were the guards who were with them and others that seemed to be in service could be seen intermittently through the crowd. None showed any immediate sign of rank recognizable to the Westenders. They kept their eyes peeled in the mayhem, but there seemed to be no sort of order or leadership, only followers doing what they had already been told.
Marqsam “Do you know anything about the priests of Lineus? Have you ever seen them before?”
Roscius “I have never traveled here before.”
Sagesse “Are there any songs about them?”
Roscius “Songs about priests? I do know the language.” (Roscius seemed to be contemplating).
At that point, a very short, old man came bumping out of the crowd. He wore all black, and long white hair came jutting out under his black turban silks. He was obviously trying to get as close as he could to Sagesse, and didn’t seem to mind that he was angering the guard on Sagesse’s right arm. The guard pushed him back, but the old man pointed at Sagesse, and seemed to be announcing something to everyone in the crowd.
Roscius “He’s saying something about the prophet Lineus as he’s… pointing to Sagesse. He doesn’t seem to make much sense to anybody here, not just to me.”
People targeted the old man with their rotten vegetables as well, but he seemed unphased by it. He didn’t seem to take any notice of it. Malthus noted that the other robed figures didn’t seem to have been left out here for very long. He was hoping they were only going to be tied up and left to starve. That would certainly have yielded some time. Sagesse memorized the face of the old man and his mannerisms. He could hear people calling him by the name “Hablaloca.” Whether it was name calling or his proper name, Sagesse knew not.
Marqsam “Some crazy guy?”
Aiden “Something like that.”
As the prisoners approached the stage they could make out some of the faces of the six chained figures. Sagesse hoped that they would be kept alive until there were eighteen of them to sacrifice. Malthus noticed that the man to the furthest right was one that he recognized. He had worked closely with him, and knew him as Bishop Likus. He was a member of Malthus’s Order of the Scimitar. Sagesse knew of him as well, but did not know him as well.
Malthus “I see Bishop Likus. Maybe he can give us some information if we don’t die here.”
Archbishop Kyranus was the red robed man fastened alone to the middle post. As the young men were led even closer, they could see that there was kindling stacked around the feet of the posts on the sides. The Archbishop would still burn to death as well, but more slowly. There were only about eight feet between the posts.
Sagesse “Now I’m beginning to think we should have gone into the water.”
Malthus “Yeah… I had pretty much assumed we were going to get hanged or burned alive… Maybe you should do something… make some claims and demonstrate your power…”
Roscius was speaking with the crazy old man as they moved forward. The old timer had plenty to say to him, but at a loud, fast clip. It seemed more indoctrination than communication. The chained priests were led up onto the stage area. The captain of the boat that had taken the priests hostage was present along with four other guards, all on stage now.
Captain (To Malthus) “You have no status within the church, is that correct?”
Malthus “I’m not sure actually. I did at one time. I am failed at a mission, and so am not sure. I have not talked to the higher priests.”
Captain “Well that sounds like no status to me. Put him there.”
Marqsam (To Roscius) “You’re supposed to know how to play a crowd, right?”
Roscius “Well… yes…”
Marqsam “Get up on stage!”
Roscius “Maybe I should!”
Roscius tried to work his way toward the front, but it was slow going. Malthus’s shackles were undone, and for a moment he would feel the sweet fresh air on his wrists one last time. The priests’ eyes darted around surreptitiously to see that aside from the four guards and the captain on the stage with them, there were also guards standing all around the perimeter of the huge square, some twenty to forty feet apart from one another at staggered intervals. Commoners stood atop small objects and climbed the sides of vendor’s carts to get the best view of the anticipated spectacle. The square was packed. People were screaming and watching for the guards to look away so that they could throw blunt objects. Escape seemed impossible. But Malthus preferred to die trying. He saw that Sagesse’s hands were being freed at the same moment. Sagesse noted that an area in one corner where buildings met at a grand portal appeared to be set up to cordon off, perhaps important people could come and go unperturbed through there.
Malthus “I will not go gently to death’s arms.”
Malthus grappled a guard’s arm, and moved behind him.
[Order: Marqsam, Malthus, Sagesse, guards en mass, Aiden, Roscius]
Marqsam tried to work his way closer to the stage, noting that some of the guards had different equipment than others. It was possible that some of them had ranged weapons. Moved his full movement this round.
Malthus kicked his guard from behind, knocking him from the four foot stage and causing some damage.
Sagesse, his hands suddenly free, was able to bend the Source to his will. The guard reached out at his hands, but felt only air as Sagesse’s form seemed to eddy away like swirling smake where the guard’s hand had offended. Of a sudden, the loose grains of sand on the ground nearby began to swirl up in a stiff breeze, and within a second it was a swirling gale wind. Sagesse became the very wind itself, and was no longer to be seen, only dealt with as a ferocious gale. It was as if he dissolved into the sandy wind and blew away. The crowd began to become a violent tumult as people fled the scene. Screams filled the air. Some of the guards nearby, and those at the perimeter of the Square were able to remain standing, but all those on stage fell prone in the gusting wind. Malthus, also near to Sagesse’s body of wind, fell to his knees in the gusts. He began to move toward the center of the square.
Aiden and Roscius were caught in Sagesse’s wind and fought for their footing, amazed by the miracle Sagesse was performing.
Marqsam leapt up into the wind and let it carry him tumblingly over the falling bodies of fifty or so townspeople who were rolling through the sludge of the rotted vegetables intended for taunting the priests.
Malthus slid back on his knee out of the wind, a little closer to the archbishop. He examined the knots that held the other priests: heavy knot work, obviously the work of sailors.
Sagesse moved his body of wind toward the center of the square, knocking down fleeing townspeople and armed guards alike.
Bishop Likus screamed out over Sagesse’s howling wind, “Praise be to the Source!” and Malthus quietly responded “Shut. Up.”
Many of the guards attempted to gain their feet, others took a kneeling position and aimed their chevaliers at the platform. Foreign orders were screamed over the general noises of fright and fleeing.
Aiden rolled over onto his belly and postured himself to stand as soon as the wind let up. Roscius helped the Hablaloca to his feet, listening to him preach loudly and gesture to the havoc that Sagesse had created. Roscius began to assent and amplify the old man’s admonitions. They were beginning to preaching about the prophet together.
Marqsam arrived on the platform, hopping up on the back edge where the wind was not strong. He wished to cut some of the priests free, but it would be take more than a brash swing of the sword as they were tied back to back. He drew nearer the closest tied priest and attempted to cut him free. The thick rope would take more than one sharp blow.
Malthus stood up.
Sagesse’s body of wind flowed out over the advancing guards and blew most of those in his path to the ground. Several around the perimeter remained unaffected, and Malthus was now clear of the gust.
The guards who were unaffected by the wind vied for position in the receding crowd. People dove to the ground as chevaliers were raised. An explosion sounded from an area about twenty yards from the platform, and black smoke floated from the muzzle of one guard’s chevalier. All heads turned to take note. Marqsam flung himself out of the way as the bullet flew by, but it struck the bishop in front of him instead, driving into his back and drawing a gurgling death scream from him. The crowd was already growing thin, but a few men were crawling and making a motion as to bow their heads to the earth repeatedly in praise. They crawled thusly toward the center of the square, only a few side by side, amazed by Sagesse’s miracle.
Aiden and Roscius were running to new positions.
Marqsam took note of the massive scimitars held by the advancing guards. Most of them had been waylaid by the wind. Marqsam was able to move to the Archbishop and hack at his ropes. They dropped away, freeing him.
Archbishop “I’m free! Thank you.”
Marqsam “Not for long!” gesturing to the onrushing guards from many directions.
Malthus had to take to his feet again.
Sagesse moved his windy forces back toward the platform where guards were beginning to stand. They were immediately blown down again, and most of them began trying to crawl away from the sandy tornado.
Another explosion erupted from the direction that the crowd had been running, several yards from the platform. [The bullet flew into Malthus’s unarmored chest, delivering a massive blow (14 points of damage. 1 character point spent to dodge, failed, Second character point spent to allow that the wind blew the bullet off course and it missed)] Malthus could see the bullet in the air, it was slowed and caught up in the wind so, and it fell harmlessly to the ground at his feet.
Aiden crawled for the edge of the wind, along with his opponents.
Roscius was talking to a pair of guards, and the two had gone down on their knees, their faces upraised to take in his message.
Marqsam continued to hack at priests’ restraints, setting free a young acolyte.
Malthus took a position behind the other post of prisoners, and began trying to cut free Bishop Cedar. He would still have some work to do on that rope. He moved on to the next tied victims.
Sagesse washed his formless body of wind several yards out into the center of the square, jostling a cart of strange fruits and knocking most of its contents to the ground.
A few of the nearby guards who remained standing were knocked to the ground to roll over the juicy yellow fruits. Others, newly out of the wind, began to stand and retreat with raised weapons. Most of the perimeter guards were advancing, and they seemed generally to be trying to space themselves out to avoid attention. Large groups seemed to draw the windy force. Directly behind Malthus, an explosion split the air from a high window above the platform. He attempted to throw himself out of the way, [Failed, 1 point spent for another chance, plus dropping prone, barely succeeded] and ended up face down on the platform at the feet of the tied priests.
Aiden got to his feet and let out a war cry as he finally came face to face with an opponent.
Roscius proselytized the soldiers, and another, approaching slowly, also joined to hear him. The soldiers abandoned all thought of attacking, letting their giant scimitars hang limply in their hands or slowly setting them back within their sheaths, and were amazed by the Sagesse’s miracle and the bard’s assertion of the boy’s connection to the divine.
Marqsam made further progress toward freeing the bishop and the acolyte that were before him tied.
Malthus continued bluntly to cut at the rope he had already begun to sever.
Sagesse scanned the crowd within him and around him for chevalier wielders, and moved more swiftly than ever he could in corporeal form to encompass another pair of chevaliers.
One guard approached Malthus from behind and landed a giant scimitar blow squarely in his back. [6 points of damage to the back, something poignant about his earlier attack on Sagesse.] A young voice screamed out over the riot, perhaps the slaughter of a tied acolyte, perhaps of one freed but weaponless, no one could turn to look.
Aiden stepped into the fight landing a vicious, but not fatal, blow to a scimitar wielder’s neck.
Roscius continued his rhetoric, gaining the confidence of his audience.
Marqsam gave two more hacks to the ropes before him, and released two more prisoners. He freed a bishop. One acolyte was freed but killed, and another was still tied.
Malthus took a full defensive posture.
Sagesse moved again to disable their assailants. Aiden was also knocked to the ground again.
Guards continued to crawl out of the wind. Sagesse was sending them to the outskirts of the square. The captain of the guard, on the platform, was also knocked to the ground again. Those who did succeed in attacking the last round were still recovering from their swing, trying to bring the blade back around for another. The only guards standing were those furthest from the stage and a pair of guards who were behind the stage, using it for cover from the wind.
Aiden was on the ground again, and got to his knee.
Roscius moved his group further away, retreating from the wind. He tried to draw the attention of other guards.
Marqsam spun to note the guard who had eviscerated the young acolyte, blood and gore dripping from his sword. “You bastard!” he shouted, and threw a keen knife aimed for the soldier’s face. [All out attack +2 (DM allowed an extra point), -5 for aiming at the face, attack roll made by 6, dodge failed, damage 6,] The knife sliced through the soldier’s cheek from the inside discharging a massive amount of blood.
Malthus slashed at the ropes again, landing two blows, and bringing the rope very near to breaking. The bishop struggled against the loosening ropes, but hadn’t the strength to free himself. [two more points of damage done to the rope, but one more needed to break it]
Sagesse washed across the soldiers again.
Most of the soldiers tried to crawl to a better position or flee to a further remove. Their leader jumped from the edge of the platform to gain some cover from the wind behind it.
Aiden tried to stand again.
Roscius ducked into a nearby shop door headed for a balcony whence to better project his message.
Marqsam took a flying leap off the edge of the stage, flipping in the air and flamboyantly drawing his rapier at the same time. He landed on his feet facing the stage.
Malthus succeeded in freeing another prisoner, Bishop Cedar, leaving only a single acolyte tied on the platform.
Sagesse, taking care not to interfere with Marqsam’s theatrics, moved further from the stage to bowl over three more nearby soldiers.
Aiden, now well out of the wind, was able to make it to his feet to resume his stance against the soldiers facing him.
Soldiers continued to spread themselves apart, and took low stances. Some were reloading weapons, others were looking for a break in the wind to fire more accurately. One stunned opponent was able to regain his faculties.
Aiden was in full defense and avoiding the Sagesse’s gale.
Roscius continued to search for stairs and mount his way up inside the building next to the square.
Marqsam took a step toward the captain of the guard and raised his rapier swiftly and accurately to his larynx. His left hand dagger pointed directly at a nearby soldier who was still on his hands and knees.
Malthus went to work on the last acolyte’s bindings, and was finally able to cut someone free with a single stroke. At this point, all the priests were either freed or killed. Two Bishops, an acolyte, and the Archbishop remained.
Sagesse perceived that the guards in the corner behind the platform were standing at the ready with raised scimitars to allow the entry of a group of men in very ornate ceremonial head dresses and dark robes. The priests of Lineus arrived carrying torches. Sagesse moved to meet them in his airy form, sending the priests of Lineus and their entourage of soldiers sprawling. Their torches went out immediately when they struck the ground. Sagesse’s voice came in a howl that seemed to be articulated by the glancing friction of wind off of every nearby surface, “Run…” The voice seemed to come from every direction.
A blast came from an upper level window behind the platform. No one was hit. Aiden took a shot, hit in the side of the belly. He fell immediately, clutching his side and watching the blood pour through his hands. The captain of the guard admitted (to Marqsam), “You have me at a disadvantage,” and with that took a swing at Marqsam’s legs with his scythe-like scimitar, aiming perfectly for the knee. Marqsam was able to leap over the blade, giving it a disarming kick as it flew under him. The swashbuckling lad landed with the tip of his blade still at the captain’s throat. Many of the soldiers were finally able to stand and organize, having separated far enough to keep the wind from affecting them all at once.
Aiden was shocked from the wound and bleeding heavily. [stunned]
Roscius continued to ascend the stairs.
Marqsam saw the prince’s deadly wound and screamed “No! Damn you!” driving his rapier into the captain’s throat and slashing at his face with the knife.
[malfunction of recording—most of this, and possibly other rounds, missing]
Roscius appeared at the balcony.
Marqsam took back the ground he had just lost and stabbed at captain of the guard’s face and slashed toward his throat with the other hand. Marqsam stabbed him in the eye, sinking his knife in deeply. The captain fell flat of his back, immediately dead. Marqsam shouted out, “Malthus! Watch out behind you!”
Malthus turned and struck rapidly at his assailant, hitting him in the chink at the shoulder of his armor. He drew back a bloody dagger.
Sagesse swung his airy body over Aiden to examine his wound. [Aiden was at –9 already]. He could see that the life was nearly drained from the prince already. He was perhaps beyond Sagesse’s ability to mend already.
The soldiers began to flee en mass when Sagesse so quickly headed their way. The soldier threatened by Marqsam was readying his weapon for another swing. Two men similarly armed approached as well, attempting to cleave him in two. Marqsam was able to skirt one attack, but the second seemed to be aimed true for his midsection. [dodge failed, point spent for another chance, second dodge failed, 7 points of damage] Another blow missed him because the guard was crippled from a recent wound. Another explosion came from the window above the platform. To Malthus it sounded like it was right in his ear, and he felt the projectile connect forcefully with his right leg. His leg was suddenly crushed and useless. [Malthus, at 2 points, took 11 points of damage, placing him at –9 as well]
Roscius began to preach the new word from his higher stance, but most of the soldiers were already fleeing. The few that were not stood facing him in reverie.
Marqsam cursed the soldier that had just hit him, spun to his other side, and took two wild strikes at his back. The blows sent the soldier to his knees, crumbling on himself.
Sagesse moved to a position that would knock down every remaining guard that was not being dealt with directly by one of his comrades.
The old man, Hablaloca, was laying on the ground offering prayers up to Sagesse in a language that the boy could not understand. Most of the soldiers had fled or were fleeing.
Roscius began to echo what he could hear of Hablaloca’s prayer and add his own ornaments to it.
Marqsam stumbled out of the whirlwind that had just encompassed him and took a stab at his other opponent’s face. It was a damaging blow [2 points], but this was a fresh opponent.
Sagesse moved to knock down Marqsam and his opponents.
The soldiery began to flee as a whole when the last few stragglers saw how little support they would have. They fled around the edges of Sagesse’s body of wind. As he passed, Marqsam’s last opponent took one last slash toward him, being parried, and went on his way. A last shot toward Malthus barely missed its mark leaving a ball of lead in the platform before him. The soldiers fled, some into nearby buildings, some down the nearby streets.
[End of combat]
Marqsam ran to Aiden, and saw that he was dead [perception barely made].
Sagesse (In a ghostly whisping voice) “Any of you who wish to fight the Cardinal’s war had best flee.”
Marqsam leapt up onto the platform, screaming:
Marqsam “Come back you cowards and fight!” (All continued to run).
Sagesse “I am Sagesse Ducreateur. I oppose the Cardinal’s war. I cannot give my allegiance to the Prophet Lineus for I know not of him, but I will offer my alliance with him, as I oppose this war.” (To the priests of the Prophet Lineus)
Sagesse lifted his oppressive wind from them, and the two priests in the back stood and began to run immediately. Sagesse moved forward upon them again, blowing them to the ground. An older priest near the front yelled back to him in a language that he could not understand.
Roscius came running, and then approached rather gallantly when he came into their view. Without even addressing his comrades, he began speaking immediately to the Priests of Lineus. He went on for quite some time, vehemently (three minutes or so).
Marqsam was still screaming after the disappeared hoard,
Marqsam “Any of you cowards want to come out and fight now!”
He spun in every direction, puffing out his chest. It was then that he noticed a chevalietour aiming at him from the upper window. Marqsam had been in his sights for quite some time, but was holding for some reason.
Marqsam “Sagesse! Where in all forsaken are you?”
The four soldiers whom Roscius had been proselytizing came running to face the group, taking their helmets off. One man stepped to the front, threw his helmet down, and pronounced, through a thick accent:
Proselytized Guard “We swear allegiance to you!”
The other three threw down their helmets, and all took a knee, bowing.
Proselytized Guard “We must secret you away before they return.”
Sagesse (to Roscius) “Any headway with these priests?”
Roscius “They seem to fear you.”
Marqsam continued his angry yells.
Marqsam “Damnit, Sagesse!”
Roscius “They respect your power, they… want to know more. But I’m afraid that they’re trying to waste our time.”
Sagesse “Very well then.”
Marqsam “Sagesse! Aiden needs your help! And Malthus! They’re dead and dying! Where in all forsaken are you!”
Sagesse “Collect the rest of our group and the priests. Let’s get secreted away then. I can clear the way.”
Two proselytized guards ran over to Malthus and picked him up. One of them seemed to know how what to do to save him. The dead priests of the Source were beyond help. The Archbishop conferred softly with his bishops and the living acolyte for only a few moments, and they made to follow the party into hiding. Marqsam and another proselytized guard carried Aiden’s limp body, though the soldier understood none of Marqsam’s words. Only one guard seemed able to speak Capesian. The proselytized soldiers led the group to a pair of double doors at the North side of the square while Sagesse covered the group from behind as a wind storm too powerful for any ballistic to accurately fire through. As soon as Sagesse backed away from the Priests of Lineus far enough for them to get to their feet, they ran back down the hallway from which they had come, slamming the doors behind and loudly bolting themselves in.
Inside, the group found themselves in a highly decorated shop, one full of the finest home accessories and items. Some things had been turned over in here in Roscius’s haste to find the stairs earlier, but any workers were huddling out of sight or gone entirely. A few other townpeople had run through here as well, but the only figures in sight were those huddling against walls and hiding behind a group of large armoires.
[The group now consists of four proselytized guards, Hablaloca, Malthus, Marqsam, Roscius, Aiden, Sagesse, two bishops, an acolyte, and the Archbishop; 14 people. Killed were an initiate and a bishop.]
[New rules discussed: ]
[5 character points max allowed to go into the BANK.]
[These can be used for last-ditch efforts to survive or avoid damage.]
[Points can only be placed in the BANK when they are earned]
[1 point for a reroll]
[2 points for an automatic success]
[3 points must be spent to save a character if even a success will not save the character’s life]
[Points from the bank can be spent on anything they would normally be spent on, but cannot be replenished except when new character points are earned]
[Players opted to defer to the GM’s discretion rather than create a LUCK score that would account for the likelihood of completely random events (like running into random NPC townspeople while trying to run through a crowd, or whether a falling object fell near enough to a drowning character to be of use as a floatation device). I will decide, based solely on the way I imagine the event to happen, how random events come to pass, assigning percentage chances as pleases the situation.]