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 Post subject: Way of the Wicked sessions
PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:10 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:28 pm
Posts: 1183
In the kingdom of Talingarde, many crimes may send you to Branderscar Prison, but the sentence has but one meaning. You are wicked and irredeemable. Each of you received the same greeting when you arrived. You were held down by rough hands and branded upon the arm with a runic F. The mark signifies ‘forsaken’ and the painful scar is indelible proof that each of you has betrayed the great and eternal love of Mitra and his chosen mortal vassals.

Condemned, you face at best a life of shackles and servitude in the nearby salt mines. Others might await the "gentle" ministrations of the inquisitors so that co-conspirators may be revealed and confessions extracted. Perhaps, some of you will be spared this ordeal. Perhaps instead you have come to Branderscar to face the final judgment. In three days, the executioner arrives and the axe falls or the pyre will be lit. Through fire or steel, your crimes will be answered.

You have all been chained togeth-er in the same communal cell dressed in nothing but filthy, tattered rags. Manhandled and mistreated, any finery you once possessed is either ruined or long lost. No special treatment has been given any prisoner - male or female, commoner or noble - all of the forsaken are bound and imprisoned together. Your feet are secured by iron cuffs tethered by one long chain. Your arms are secured to the wall above by manacles. A guard is posted right outside the cell day and night. Little thought is given to long term accommodations. At Branderscar, justice comes swift and sure.

Escape seems hopeless. You have all been well searched and every attempt to conceal anything on your person has failed. And if you could somehow slip your bonds and fly out of this prison, where would you go? Who from your former life would want anything to do with the forsaken?

Despised, alone and shackled – all that you can do now is await your doom.

For each of you, your old life is over. For each of you, hope is a fading memory. For each of you, justice will be fairly meted. And who can blame fair Talingarde after what each of you has done?


The brand upon the dark haired man's arm is in good company, his entire body a labyrinth of twisting scars and marks. His piercings have been removed, leaving fresher wounds all across his torso and face. He smiles.

"The paladin goes marching home again, hoo-rah, hoo-rah," he sings, slightly off key.

The elfin fellow paces slowly back and forth by the cell-bars. Occasionally he scratches at the rash left by the rough, hempin tunic that is his only dressing gown.

The man beside him cracks a wry smile. He is young and, even in rags, handsome.

Puella's own scars are partly hidden under her rags, including a sleeve she has drawn over the Forsaken brand. Her perfect face, though, breaks into a small smile. "You would meet fate singing?"

"I'd meet it fighting, preferably, but singing is a passable second."

Damodred glances at the two, but quickly shields his eyes from the light of the torch and looks away again. His gaze searches hopelessly for something overlooked by the guards; he does not expect to find it, but what else can he do?

"No surprise that one is here," Lucavi mutters, indicating the oddly pacing elf. "Not many people around here remember it, but elves are known to steal babies and drink their blood."

A smile grows on the young man's face. Yes, these ones will work. "No doubt you are here by virtue of a great injustice my friend."

Damodred sees nothing on the floor or walls. You all are the only prisoners in the room, at least that you can see. You thought you spotted a hint of movement in the large, bricked-off cell on the west wall, but couldn't make out any details.

"No injustice. The knights are beholden to forbid art, and as a lover of art, I incurred my doom most justly."

The elf mutters quietly, "Not human infants. They taste like tallow."

Puella stumbles slightly as the pacing elf draws the chains about, but she makes no complaint. "I have heard stories of elves," she nods, "but not likely as many as you. Is it true?" She directs her next question to their companion.

"The elves use every part of the baby, nothing goes to waste."

"Unlikely. Human infants are weak - there is no power in the blood worth salving."

"Perhaps I'm thinking of buffalo. Tell on, Sir Elf."

"You must have mistaken me for a bard; there is no tale worth sharing here, boys. The only thing I did wrong was get caught."

"And what about you darling?" The man turns to the woman among the bunch, "Are you a fiend like the rest?"

"My blood is only human."

Gaerlan grins at her, "And is your blood all you would speak of?"

"It does seem to be the prevailing topic." Damodred grouses.

"By Sweet Mitra, man, are you going to rut with her in front of us all? Where is the decorum of old?"

"Ah... I'm sorry. Am I coming between you two?"

Puella shrinks slightly as the topic turns to her.

"Likely he wants to draw straws for first dibs.. but, alas.. we have no straws."

"The lady is to be treated as befits her gentle gender."

"Gentle?" Damodred snorts in disbelief.

"I am not worth arguing over." Puella cuts in softly.

"Doubtful, I have no interest in spending three days in the mud. No doubt we could find a better use for straws." He repleis to Damodred. He turns to Lucavi, "And yet I've only asked of her own crimes."

"Better a bit of sand..." he mutters to himself, eyeing the guard sideways.

"Speak not an affront to her before an Iron Knight of the Order of St. Demain, men. That's all I ask. That we conduct ourselves as gentlemen."

"But many of us are far from gentle, and one is not a man at all."

Gentlemen, indeed. Squabbling or not, gentle or not, they are all in this together, for whatever that's worth in a prison that has never been escaped from.

He smiles once more, "Peace Iron Knight. I will push no further. We have better things to do. I suppose how we got here means little, compared to how we get out."

"Guard!" Damodred demands, "Kindly stop listening while we plot our escape."

The guard only laughs.

The elf smiles, "Perhaps I am a bard, I seem to have a gift for humor."

Lucavi pantomimes eating a baby as best he can.

"I'd honestly rather he meet his end knowing how it happened, if it is all the same to you elf."

"Whose **** are you remembering sucking?"

He shrugs at Gaerlan, "Damodred." he corrects by way of introduction.

"Does that pass for fair speech and conversation in the elven lands?" Lucavi inquires. "Truly, a different culture indeed."

"I'm not the one who was simulating their gag reflex." He ripostes.

"It has been said that babies are fed other babies, which causes them to go mad. Those who eat the flesh of the insane infants are often touched themselves."

Puella shrinks a little further into her rags, back against a slight hollow in the wall.

"Damodred. A pleasure. I am Gaerlan Cimo, heretic, blasphemer, desecrator, and so forth. I confess, I paid little attention at the trial. It was so terribly dull."

"Guard, could you make yourself useful and read off the list for the others?"

The elf purses his lips as he considers the guard.

He just glares at you.

"You seem upset, Sirrah. Better things to do?"

"How dreary."

"No, I sympathize. Fellow is an upright citizen, pure in his faith and proud in his guardianship... to be forced to monitor such as us? It's an afront to his exemplary service."

"That's... that's right. I'm not scared of the likes of you, just can't stand the sight of you scum."

Lucavi gives the short version of his crimes. "...she shall ever remain innocent and pure in my eyes, a blushing virgin each and every time, my only remembrance of the occasion. I think of her always, even now."

"Tell us whose fault it is you are here instead of a more noble role? There is always someone... they are certainly jealous of you."

"But yet you were condemned for this?" Puella asks Lucavi.

"Oaths are taken seriously among the knights, and surely did I break mine."

"Cat got your tongue? Don't tell me they were right to give you slop duty?"

"And for you, no penitence?" Puella's eye lingers on the other's scars.

He keeps his mouth shut. After a moment, he looks away.

"Wonderful, a coward. Tell me, were you sent here because you were a coward, or did it just end up that way?"

"Perhaps he has children at home, Sir Damodred. Ones he prefers to have for dinner in the conventional sense."

The elf sighs and sloughs back against the wall next to the others. "Well, he's a wash... they pick them that way, you know? Pick someone clever and someone might outwit them... pick someone dense enough and they're too stupid to be tricked."

"Why? Do you think they have offended him?" he inquires of Lucavi.

Gaerlan laughs.

He turns to Puella and smiles. "These chains upon my arms, to match that which winds along my spine...they are my penitence. My love burned too hotly for a chaste knight."

"I would...like to look upon her face again before I die though."

As Lucavi is reminiscing, a group of six guards, heavily armed and ready for trouble, come into the cell led by a fat well-dressed ser-geant of the watch. You all recognize Sgt. Tomas Blackerly, the man who held the brand against your arms. He laughed as your skin burned.

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Right now, though, the Sergeant seems a bit dazed. He points at Gaerlan.

"You there! That’s the scum! Get ‘em unshackled. If any of you makes trouble, they’ll earn a thrash-ing! Today’s your lucky day, scum. You’ve got a visitor. How you ever warranted such a fine lady is beyond me. Seems she wants to say good-bye. Now step lively. We wouldn’t want to keep her waiting."

Gaerlan waits to be unchained, "So soon? I'm impressed."

The guards quickly open the cell, and one of them unshackles Gaerlan, while two others keep an eye on the rest of you with their clubs drawn.

"Seems everyone has a lady but me." He laments with false mourning.

He smiles at the guards, "Hurry up boys, don't want to keep the lady waiting."

"No talking!" He is escorted down the hall, the cell re-locked behind him. When the guards leave this time, your watcher goes with them, but all seven stay in the next room with the door open.

Gaerlan pauses at the door of the cell and flurishes for a moment at Puella, "Good-day my lady," before he is husseled off.

"I am not a lady." she corrects softly, perhaps not loudly enough for him to hear.

Puella's chains clink softly as she moves forward a step to hear what passes.

Lucavi opens his mouth to ask her what she hears, thinks the better of it, and closes it. He'll wait.

Quote:
You hear boots tromping down the stairs, and then the following conversation, presumable once the Sgt. is out of earshot back to another floor.

"That Blackerly is a damned thief ! That game was rigged last night!"

"If it’s rigged, why do you keep going back to the gate-house then?"

"The beer’s passable."

A laugh is heard. "Drinkin’ on duty! Damn, this place has gone to hell. Captain Callidan would have never tolerated that crap. That’s for sure!"

"Captain Callidan - he left, what? Two years ago?"

"Almost three and since then the place has been straight down the shitter. That old wizard never leaves his tower. He stays up there reading his books and petting his owl!"

"Petting his owl? Is that what they call it these days?"

The guards enjoy a bit of a laugh.


"The guards were speaking about a Captain Callidan." she reports after a moment. "They say that the prison has gone to hell..." a brief smile passes over her lips, "since he left."

"To hell?" He frowns pensively, "You'd think I'd know some of these fellows, then."

"Drinking and cards on duty. The Seargeant cheats."

"He has a fat belly."

"There is a mage who ought to be in charge, but he keeps to himself." she finishes, glancing back at the others as the guards' conversation fades away. She nods. "He too should face the punishment of his sins... should he not?"

"Sins?" He frowns and collapses back against the wall, "Locked up with a trio of religious nutters." he mourns, "I'm doomed."

Quote:
Gaerlan is ushered into a nearby meeting room, and roughly shoved into a chair. There waiting for them is a hauntingly beautiful woman in an elegant black dress and soft silken veil. She looks as if she is headed to a funeral. Her hair is so platinum as to almost be white and her eyes are a vibrant almost unearthly green. She clearly has been weeping. "Oh, dearest," proclaims the unfamiliar woman. "I’m so relieved you’re alive!" She quickly turns to Tomas. "Could we please have a moment alone, good sir? For pity’s sake?"

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Tomas goes blank for a bit and then quickly agrees. "Of course, my lady. For you,’ tis no problem."

Gaerlan moves forward, raising a hand gently as if to touch her face, "Oh darling, I would not have you see me like this. I would that you had not come." He moves close to her.

As soon as the guards leave, Tiadora’s demeanor immediately changes. She drops all pretense of grief or concern. She is immediately all business. "Oh, I could not leave you, dearest," she says sardonically, dropping her pretense of grief.

"Call me Tiadora. We possess a mutual friend who would like to meet you and your fellow cell-mates. Unfortunately, our friend is unwilling to visit you in your present rather shabby accom-modations so it seems you must escape. Don’t be so dour. Just because it’s never been done before is no reason you can’t be the first."

"If you manage that, cross the moors on the outskirts of town. On the old Moor Road you’ll see a manor house with a single lantern burning in the second story. There our mutual friend waits. That is all I know. He did want me to give you this."

She takes off her silken veil and wipes away a few fake tears with it. "Something to remember me by, dearest."

Gaerlan leans close, "Of course there is no reason I can't be the first, especially if you give me that little earring of yours."

"My earring? And why would you want a thing like that?" she asks, archly.

"Consider it collateral, to ensure we both have a reason to make that meeting." He smiles, "Please? Darling."

She raises an eyebrow and smirks. "Oh, I think you'll find I've already given you everyhing you need to get out of here, dearest." She points at the veil she handed you. Perhaps you should take a closer look at it?

Image

"If you need more than that... well, perhaps our friend has misjudged your resourcefulness."

He arches an eyebrow, "Well. This should be interesting." He takes the veil.

Looking closer, it has small patches of fabric on it that seem removable, in the shape of various objects.

"It almost takes the challenge out of things." He pulls away, cloth in hand, and raises his voice "Thank you dearest. Trust though that we will meet again."

He wraps the cloth tightly around one hand. "Guard. The lady is finished with me."

"Trust is hard to come by." Her message delivered, she rises and the guards return. Immediately, her demeanor once more changes and she is again a perfect picture of grief. "No, I can’t bear to leave you!" She gives Gaerlan a kiss on the cheek. The kiss is ice-cold and feels somehow alien and inhuman.

The guard Tomas left in charge shakes his head. "I’m afraid it’s time, miss."

She looks deep in his eyes and says, "Thank you for letting me say good-bye. There’s no need to search my dearest. You are such a good friend for letting me see my dearest one more time."

"Such a good friend," he repeats his voice almost mechanical. Then the watchman seems to snap out of it and bows politely. "A pleasure, madam," She leaves unveiled. Her eyes meet Gaerlan's one last time and she briefly gives them a wicked smile.

"We will met again." Gaerlan lays it on thick, extending one arm towards her as he is led away.

~Three days,~ telepathically echoes in Gaerlan' mind. ~Don’t disappoint me, dearest.~ The visitation concluded, Gerlan is taken back to his cell by a cadre of guards and shackled once more.


After a few moments, Gaerlan is returned, and placed back in his shackles. The guards file out, only your watcher leaves with them this time. Two are stationed on the other side of the door, but you no longer have eyes constantly on you.

"There is one who could see your wish come true, though. One who holds the lordship over love and fire..." She trails off as the guards return.

"Such a dear woman. I needed that in this moment of such trial."

Damodred sizes Gaerlan up, "Didn't realize you'd be so quick to fire." he quips. His gaze remains on the door.

The door to the other room is closed and locked, with the guards on the other side. You are alone... except perhaps whatever is in that bricked-off room beside you, if your eyes weren't playing tricks on you.

It looks a lot like your cell, except the spaces between the bars have been filled in with masonry.

"A Lord of Love and Fire..." Lucavi muses. "I have seen Him, in my dreams. Perhaps I was meant to come here, to learn of him."

"Sometimes time is of the essence. For instance... now." He keeps his voice low. "Lucavi, you wish to see your darling again? Elf, no doubt you have no desire to die here." He smiles at Puella.

"Your visitor then. Most irregular for this place. You have a plan?"

Damodred grunts.

"A plan, tools, and will. All I need are allies to make it work."

"I have not been commanded to lay down my life." Puella replies. "What other tools do you have?"

"I hadn't planned on taking my chains off until tomorrow, but if we are to be leaving sooner, I can do so."

Gaerlan flurishes the veil. "Blades, cloth, light, picks, a window, spell components..."

"The picks might be quieter than your strength Lucavi, if any has the skill..."

"Spell components?" The elf inquires, surprised.

"Strength?" Lucavi arches an eyebrow. "I was simply going to burn them off."

"Preparation. You didn't think I came here without planning for every contingency, did you?" He replies to Damodred.

"Iron is no true barrier to the skilled, despite what some may think." Puella replies to Gaerlan.

He frowns, "I didn't think you'd planned to come here at all."

"I knew I liked you." Gaerlan replies to Puella. He plucks forth from the veil the theives tools.

Lucavi closes his eyes and acid begins to drip from his hands down over the shackles.

Puella moves over to accept the tools.

He withholds them for a moment, "We are clear that this escape will require cooperation, correct?" If she replies in the affirmative he slides them over.

"Naturally. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link."

"But it is only as long as the sum of its links."

"You need not fear anything from me."

"Well enough."

Taking the tools, she bends her attention to the awkward task of unlocking her own manacled hands.

Lucavi bends his head to either shoulder, stretching his neck, before rotating his arms. A chain is wound through his flesh down the back of his spine, and it appears to twitch and move of its own accord at the free ends.

"Truly, chains must bind more than flesh to hold." she murmurs as her bonds fall away. She next begins with Gaerlan even as Lucavi's manacles melt away.

Damodred waits patiently for his turn.

"The master of chains cannot be bound with his servants."

She catches Gaerlan's manacles as they open, setting them down quietly, and then moves on to Damodred. She pauses, looking him up and down for a moment. "You are also willing to act together?"

"Thank you darling." Gaerlan grins as the woman removes his chains.

"Of course." He says with a smile.

She nods, and begins with his locks.

Before long, the last of the prisoners' bindings are loosed.

"Even as holy Mitra once slew the bull, so shall his humble knight and servant provide for his people."

"I don't recall that story."

The elf stands after being freed and considers the 'master of chains.' He begins to gather up the loose bits of chains and then presses his hand to where they are secured on the wall. After he is finished, he presents Lucavi with the makeshift weapon.

Gaerlan draws forth a daggerfrom the veil, "Any takers?"

"Why thank you, but..." Lucavi flexes, and razor sharp nails tip his fingers. "...I brought my own."

"Inelegant." Damodred replies distastefully. At Lucavi's response he tosses the chains in the corner and looks to see if the girl has opened the cell door yet.

"You're full of suprises Sir Knight."

"Not lady?" He gestures to Puella.

Puella moves to accept the dagger, a raised white scar on her midriff standing out momentarily as she tucks it somewhere in her prison rags.

"Did your visitor leave any other gifts?" she asks, glancing at the door.

"I've clothing as well, but it may be better served once we are out of the prison and on the road. No sense in covering it in the blood and filth of the prison."

"A lantern, a window, rope, spell components, coin, and a holy symbol of Asmodeus, if I'm not mistaken."

"Perhaps we should free other artists from their confinement as well? Whether they mark the path in failure or success, it matters little."

Puella smiles. "Ah. So the King's hand is extended to aid his vassal." She glances at the elf. "You wished for the spell components?"

"There may be a time for that. For now I'd rather poke about before we rouse the prison against us - and them."

"I could use them." he agrees with Puella.

Gaerlan plucks the components forth from the veil. "Anything else?"

He draws forth the second dagger for himself.

"Very well. I will do without." She moves over to pick the door.

The elfin fellow considers Puella a moment before taking the pouch and following behind her.

The door opens as easily as the locks. They are now free to move about the cell block.

Gaerlan lays a hand on Puella's shoulder as he exits the cell. "Well done."

She acknowledges with a small nod, quickly pacing the length of the room to ensure the area is clear.

"No priest then among you?" He asks the others.

All the other open cells are empty. The brickwork on the one that's blocked off looks fairly recent. Aside from that and the guards in the next room, you four are the only living things on this floor.

"You all seem like preists to me." Damodred retorts, making his way closer to the exit as he waits for the others to be prepared to exit.

She pauses and glances back. "What did you wish?"

"Simply curious. I had hoped, but they are so few and far between now." He gestures briefly to the holy symbol patch as he moves to look at the bricked room.

"I will keep it if there is no other bearer."

"We are all holy in Mitra's sight," Lucavi murmers.

"Of course." He pulls off the symbol and extends it to her as he peers into the room.

Lucavi observes the bricked off area as well.

In the dim light, you can make out a hulking shape, crouched in the far corner of the large cell. When it notices you looking in, the creature looks back at you. It gets up and moves closer, making not a sound. When it stops, it's in enough light for you to recognize an ogre.

Image

Puella catches her breath at the unfamiliar creature.

"Well now. A fellow knight in chains."

The ogre snorts at being called a knight.

"So you speak the human tongue?"

"Interesting."

He nods, watching you suspiciously.

"And you know what they will do with you?"

He nods again.

And draws a finger across his throat.

"I can set you free," Lucavi promises, his voice a hushed whisper. "But ogres are known to eat men after tearing them limb from limb. I ask not that you deny your nature, simply that you aim your violence in a direction that benefits us all."

Lucavi turns, casually revealing the chain that winds through his spine.

He looks at you, Lucavi, wondering, seemingly tempted... then his eyes go wide when he sees the chain. In a shockingly quiet whisper for something so large, he finally speaks. "And how's Grumblejack know youse won't chop him after he smashes da guards for youse?"

"Like all free souls, Grumblejack is his own man, and as such, can do whatever he would like."

"Dat ain't what I asked, is it, Steel-Tail?"

"The Paladin in Chains gives you his word, upon his iron honor. If that is not enough for you, then look to your own strength of arms to ensure you are treated as you deserve."

He comes closer, pressing his face against the cell window. When he gets close, you can see cuts and bruises covering him.

Lucavi draws near enough, allowing the ogre to look upon his own scars.

Damodred, becoming frustrated with them taking so long, approaches the cell and pushes his way to the bars. He peers through them angrilly and says, "In or out. I'll keep you safe from these louts if you're in, if you're out say it... if you waste more of my time..." he concludes on a menacing tone.

"Lucavi, he could..." Puella pauses as she realizes she might as well speak to the ogre directly. "Would your have your hurts healed in reward for your aid?"

"Dat don't make no sense... but youse little 'uns do a lotta **** don't make no sense. Lock me up in here stead of killing me right off, fer a start."

"Youse can do dat? Hmmm... yeah, okays. Youse let me outta here, youse patch me up, I fights for ya."

"A mistake they seem to have made five times too many," Lucavi muses.

Damodred nods firmly and moves back to watch the guard's door.

Puella approaches. "There will be pain. Endure, and see your wounds healed, the reward of obedience." She begins the spell.

Gaerlan looks on.

"Youse gots some kinda medicine, er..." his eyes go wide when she starts casting magic, and he freezes in place.

The spell burns, the pain of old wounds heightening for just a moment as that which mortified the flesh is recalled in order to be undone. Soon silvery scars begin replacing injuries.

Grumblejack hisses as the pain of sword and club stings him, then lets it out in a long sigh. He's still a long way from fully healthy, but noticeably better off than he was. He gazes at Puella in something like awe. "I... I th... thank youse." The words don't seem to fit his mouth very well.

Puella looks at the ogre. "Remember then our bargain." She turns her attention to the cell.

Gaerlan stands by the entrance to the block as the woman goes to work.

He glances at Damodred and nods at the elf.

Puella's fingers slip at first as she works with the lock - perhaps the ogre is a more intimidating presence that she lets on - and one lockpick falls to the floor. She flinches reflexively, and it is a long moment before she reaches down to try again.

He shrugs, "Whenever you're ready." he says quietly to Gaerlan.

Despite the faint shaking of her fingers she masters the lock on the second attempt.

The door opens, and Grumblejack steps out, and stretches to his full, nine-foot height, head scraping the ceiling. He looks down at Puella, with what is probably meant to be a smile. "Dat's nice. Now, let's get smashin's. Gots ta smash dese 'uns quick, though. Dey gots dese horns, and when dey blow 'em, more comes' running. Blew 'em when dey brought me here, right before dey fed me dat nasty ****."

"You mean the food?" Lucavi asks, distracted.

Seeing the ogre free and ready to fight, Damodred nods for Gaerlan to open the door.

Puella nods. She glances over into their old cells, and after a moment's thought she retrieves the improvised weapon that Damodred created and offers it to the ogre.

"Nah, dat not bad. Some kinda nasty drink, dey made just for Grumblejack. Made me... less strong."

"Hey, dat's not bad." He takes an experimental swing with it. "Kinda little, but good smashin'."

Puella does not even flinch as the chain whistles (well) overhead - perhaps it was not the ogre after all. In any case, she turns to Lucavi. "How should we best disable the guards?"

Damodred sighs, "Just open the door... I'll put them to sleep."

"I see," Lucavi muses, filing the information from the ogre away for later.

"If the elf can force the guards to sleep, it would be a quiet end for them."

"The best end."

Puella nods, but she allows someone else to open the door.

"Heh. Quiet good. Quiet safe. Loud gets ya caught."

Gaerlan moves to the door, counting down with one hand before he yanks it open.

As soon as Gaerlan begins counting, Damodred begins casting his spell.

As the guards look up in surprise, Puella readies her magic in case either of them should go for his horn before Damodred's spell is complete.

Lucavi sprays acid at the nearest guard.

He blinks at the sting, wondering how you got something to throw at him. Both guards ready their swords and shields. "Alright you scum, I don't know how you got out, but you're going right back where you started!" One advanced towards you, not seeing Gaerlon beside the door, and stops in shock at seeing Grumblejack free. "Mitra!" The other hangs back for the moment.

He makes another, significantly less holy exclamation, as Gaerlan's knife stabs into his shoulder.

Damodred finishes his spell, but is unable to catch both guards within it since they spread out. He targets the cautious one.

Both the guard bleeding from a stab wound, and the one holding back nervously fall, their eyes rolling back. One of them lets out a snore, the other is a drooler.

Grumblejack looks impressed.

...and then the one in the room with you shakes it off.

"Sorcery!"

"Ugh, wizardry. Plebs can never tell the difference." He complains.

Gaerlan digs the dagger from the guard's shoulder and tries to bury it in the man's throat, "Worry about that later."

He barely raises his shield in time to block it, eyes wild with fear.

Puella clenches a fist. "You were bid to sleep. Have you, too, not learned obedience?"

"What? No. It's important - there is a very fine disintinction between the laziness and curdishness of sorcery and the glamor and jeua de'vive of wizardry."

He joins his comrade in slumber. The narrator suspects he shall never awaken.

"Slay him swiftly. My charm lacks the strength of a true spell."

Not if the claws of Lucavi Delacroix have anything to say about it, and as it happens, they do.

"Leave the other to me, if you do not mind."

"It will give me something to do while you lot spend the next twenty minutes figuring out our next step."

Grumblejack was about to stomp his head in, but he looks at the magic-man, and nods.

"I would rather he be slain in the block than the hall."

Damodred nods as he pauses by Puella to trade the spell-component pouch for the dagger. He smiles thinly and requests, "Would you mind carrying him this way for me?" of Grumblejack.

The party swiftly takes stock of the room and guards.

Gaerlan begins stripping the slain guard of his armor, clothing, and weapons.

Damodred spends some time shackling and then torturing the second guard for information.

Grumblejack nods, grudgingly, and moves the guard as you wish.

He watches in your torture in fascination.

Locked securly in Grumblejack's cell with the door closed so the sound of screaming doesn't carry, Damodred demands information on the layout of the prison, when the next guard shift will arrive, etc.

Lucavi arches an eyebrow at Gaerlan's intrusion upon his kill, but says nothing.

But, most importantly, he searches for information about the rival wizard.

"Aagh! An hour, a little over an hour!"

His blood flows freely.

Puella glances over the new room and then vanishes to aid Damodred as well. Her aid is curious, though... a tender touch, a soothed wound, a cool rag on the face when things get rough. This guard will not soon slip away into sweet oblivion.

She speaks not a word the whole time.

"I... the bridge! That's only one way out besides swimming, and getting smashed on the rocks!"

"Aaaagh!" His teeth clench this time, holding his tongue.

Damodred glances at Grumblejack to give him a bit more encouragement.

(The guards equipment, of course, lays in a neat pile by the door. Damodred wouldn't have wanted it to get dirty.)

At least until the ogre shakes him a bit. "Aagh! Okay, okay! The warden never leaves his tower! Not unless he hears an alarm. He lets Blackerly run the whole place for him, and just has us bring him his meals, and any of the prisoners' books or stuff that looks magical. We gave him the girl's mask, that was it! Please, Mitra, make it stop!"

Gaerlan catches Lucavi's eye, "Fine." He leaves the dead guard's gear in a pile for the rival knight and moves into the cell to examine the other guard's gear.

"Of course." Damodred jabs the dagger in the man's throat to stifle his screams before slowly beginning to flay him. The elfin fellow has little skill, so it is a sloppy job, but the message (when found) should be clear.

"Oh!" The exclamation breaks Puella's silence even as the guard dies.

Gaerlan casually slips into the torture'd guards clothing and gear. He frowns at Damodred's antics.

He looks up at the woman apologetically, "Ah, sorry.." he whipes a speckle of blood from her chin (really only managing to smear more blood in its place since he is covered with it), "..I'll give a bit more warning next time."

Since he cannot scream, he dies whimpering, making what would be either prayers to his god, or perhaps calls to his mother. You will never know.

She shakes her head. "The Mask. We must regain it before we leave."

The knight dons the armor, buckling the swordbelt to his waist and stowing the shield on his back. He examines the keys, keeps them, and holds the horn thoughtfully.

"Totem mask? Like shaman used to wear?" Grumblejack asks curiously.

"Easy. We thin the ranks then sound a horn. While he moves to investigate, we pillage and loot." he turns his attention to Lucavi, "Can you get that door off its hinges so our large friend has a shield?" he points to the bricked cell door.

"We should deal with the shift change as we did this one. Then we find out who takes the wizard his meals. Replace them and deal with him alone, rather than en masse with his troops."

Damodred moves in to the other room and considers how to extinguish the fire, "Gaerlan? Can I get that rope?"

Lucavi applies acid to the hinges of the door as he lays out his plan.

Gaerlan nods at Damodred, "Our thoughts closely align. It would be better not to fight the wizard if at all possible." He digs out the rope for the wizard.

He takes the rope and wraps it around himself, "Don't suppose you have a trick to put this fire out?"

"I do not know the signal for the alarm." Puella points out.

"Why not simply..." Lucavi swats out some of the glowing embers.

"I got sometin."

Grumblejack goes to his cell and returns with a bucket, from which an absolutely vile smell emanates.

Damodred quickly holds his nose. Again to Gaerlan, "You have the clean uniform, good.. can you check the coridoor while I secure this to the roof?"

He looks at you questioningly. "You want for fire?"

Damodred nods at the ogre, "Please."

"No. Absolutely not."

"And it is my mask." she replies to the ogre. "I must..." she glances around at Gaerlan, Damodred, and settles on Lucavi, then swallows... "I must get it back."

"We'll get it back... I'm just covering our tracks." he comforts Puella.

"I will deal with the fire, without causing everything for three miles to smell of dung."

"Just another guard." Gaerlan wanders into the hall.

"I can't get us all out through the roof; we'll have to go through the castle. But, let them wonder when they find a rope leading up the chimney."

Grumblejack shrugs, and sets it in a corner.

"Again, let us discover these guards plans, and inset ourselves within them."

"Certainly."

"Let us get orders to the chambers of their leader, and bring him his food. Perhaps with powdered glass within it."

Whilst the party plans, Puella seeks the passage to the next level and listens, wondering if any snippets of conversation might reveal what lies ahead.

While the others plot, Grumble nods to the little witch-girl. "Shaman keep soul in mask. Important."

At the bottom of the staircase, is a room with an open door that leads out into the main hall, and a lit torch in a sconce. There is nothing else of interest here. Two guards stand out in the hall, their backs to you.

You just barely make out, "so when's the next card game?" "I dunno, Blackerly took all my money in the last one."

After Lucavi puts out the fire, Damodred nods his thanks and steps carefully into the embers before magically floating up, up, and away!

Grumblejack watches Lucavi put out the fire with his bare hands. Once again, he is very impressed at the lack of burning.

"How you do dat?"

"A free man knows no fear of flame."

She nods. "I may not come before Him like this." She gestures to her face.

"Do not dismiss your beauty so lightly," Lucavi says seriously. "Nonetheless, we shall regain your mask."

"Guards below?" he asks Puella.

Grumble sits and thinks about that while the rest of you talk.

"Two."

"A tempting target..."

"There is food below us."

"Perhaps the wizard's meals await even now."

"Later. If the guards arrive for the change over and find their fellows we will lose all opportunity to pick them off."

If so, dear readers, then the wizard eats very late, as the midnight shift is just about to start their work!

And they have no idea how interesting that work is going to be tonight, do they? For tonight, Branderscar prison is in the midst of the first prison break in its long history! Will these fledgling villains be the first to break its perfect record? Or will their stories end in ignominous defeat? Join us next time, dear readers, as we return to the Way of the Wicked!


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 Post subject: Re: Way of the Wicked sessions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:37 pm 
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<DM> Welcome back, dear reader. Last time, we left our villains after they had broken free of the cell that the fools of Talingarde thought could hold them. With the aid of their new "friend" Grumblejack, and a magical veil provided by a mysterous benefactor, will they continue their daring escape? Or will they join all others who have tried to flee Branderscar in ignominous defeat? Find out in this exciting tale of the Way of the Wicked!

<Gaerlan> "We have a little less than an hour. I say we draw the guards up from below before the next guard shift. Pick off as many as we can for now."

<Gaerlan> He glances around for support.

<Lucavi> Lucavi nods. "Take those who are separated from the pack. A good escape needs three things. The layout, the routine, and help from the inside or out."

<Damodred> Damodred continues floating up the chimney, what mystery will he find? The suspense!

<Lucavi> "We thin the herd, and there will be less risk to us all."

<Gaerlan> "We can get the first and second from these guards. The last we've already.

<Lucavi> "Yes. Let's obtain it before we skin the next one, shall we?"

<Gaerlan> "You and I can wait at the top of the stairs, call them up. Lure them in, then cut them off. Agreed?"

<Lucavi> Lucavi nods curtly.

<Puella> "Where would you like me?"

<DM> Eventually, Damodred reaches the top of the chimney. However, the top is covered by an iron grate, then a low roof. It will let the smoke out, but it is unlikely that our villains shall find an exit here.

<Gaerlan> "Just need to get rid of the body." He gestures to the body in the center of the room. "Right inside the cell area?" He replies to Puella.

<Damodred> Damodred secures the rope he brought with to the grate near the wall. Not seeming surprised but what he's found, he begins burning through the grate with acid leaving just enough to continue to support the rope.

<Gaerlan> He moves to drag the body at the doorway further into the cell block and out of the way.

<Puella> The slight priestess struggles to move the larger guard... at least till Gaerlan lends a hand.

<DM> He manages to damage the grate, a few drops of acid falling down. No doubt they shall absolutely ruin the taste of the cooking stew. For shame.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan waits for the elf to return from his diversion.

<Damodred> Damodred hums quietly to himself as he works. Once the great is removed, he holds tightly to it to prevent it from clattering to the ground below and then slides down the rope.

<Gaerlan> "I'd like you with the priestess, if you don't mind elf."

<Damodred> The elfin fellow tips the grate against the side of the chimney so that it is out of the way and ducks out of the fireplace. "Hmm?" he wonders.

<Puella> "They are going to try to lure up two guards from the bottom of the stairs." Puella explains.

<Damodred> He nods and joins Puella without waiting for further explanation.

<Lucavi> "We need one alive for questioning," Lucavi cautions the bloodthirsty elf.

<Damodred> Damodred shrugs absently, "If you like."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan waits for everyone to get into position, then calls down the stairs, "Hey down there. Could you give us a hand?"

<DM> One of the two guards from the hallway below looks at his partner and shrugs, heading up the stairs. The other stifles a yawn and keeps leaning against the wall.

<DM> "Yes, what is it... hey, you're not...!"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glances back towards the spellcasters, giving them a moment to act.

<DM> Grumblejack completely misses that look, and squeezes past the casters, moving to smash the guard with an eager gleam in his eye.

<DM> The guard lets out a strangled yelp at the sight of the ogre.

<Puella> Puella steps into view, leveling a silent, charmed gaze at the man.

<DM> He catches her eyes... but the raw terror at the sight before him is enough to shake off the enchantment.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan see's the man shake it off and closes the distance, his sword flashing.

<DM> Flashing straight into the staircase's guard rail.

<Lucavi> Lucavi brings the pommel of his sword down towards the guard's skull.

<DM> And the guard is out like a light, dear readers.

<Damodred> Damodred emerges from the other room and considers the guard. "Would you like me to gather the other?" he inquires of his companions, gaze tilted up curiously.

<DM> "Hmph," Grumblejack snorts, a bit miffed there was no smashing for him.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glances at Lucavi, then down the stairs, then at Damodred.

<Lucavi> "Holy Mitra, watch over your servant," Lucavi intones piously over the comatose guard.

<DM> One could cut the irony with a knife.

<Damodred> Damodred waits another moment for acknowledgement...

<Gaerlan> Gerland nods at the elf, then grabs the unconcious guard and starts to drag him off the stairs and back towards the cells.

<Lucavi> Lucavi looks at Gaerland and raises his eyebrow.

<Damodred> While walking towards the stairs, the dark elf pauses to take a long look at the guard. A spell later, he smiles at his companions wearing the man's guise and heads to the hallway above.

<Lucavi> "Propriety should not be abandoned, even in this dark hole. A man ought to ask before hauling another's belongings away."

<Puella> Puella slips back through the door, stepping up against the wall and out of sight.

<Damodred> Arriving on the landing above he calls in another man's voice, "Need another hand." to the remaining guard.

<Gaerlan> "You'd rather drag him out of sight and spare me the work?" Gaerlan drops the man to the floor out of sight from the stairs.

<Lucavi> "I'd rather you do me a simple courtesy of requesting my leave," Lucavi responds.

<DM> Not having heard much of the man's voice, it isn't quite an exact duplicate... but apparently more than good enough to fool one bored, inattentive guard, it would seem. He grunts, and Damodred suspects he rolls his eyes, before heading up the stairs as well.

<Lucavi> Lucavi waits.

<DM> "Yeah, what's the problem? Those scumbags up there making trouble again?" he asks when he meets his unfriend at the stairwell.

<Damodred> "You have no idea." he says with disgust, waiting for the guard to pass him before closing the door and following him up the stairs.

<DM> He shakes his head, and climbs the stairs.

<DM> Much as his former friend, his eye widen at the sight which awaits him.

<DM> He has little time to take it in, however, before his view is blocked by an ogrish fist.

<Damodred> "Oh, no!" the disguised elf exclaims in terror. "We should give up before they kill us!"

<DM> He lets out a cry of pain as his nose crumples under punch.

<DM> He shoots a betrayed look behind him as the blood gushes forth. "Coward!" Though his voice quavers and his eyes are wild as he does.

<Damodred> "They have the ogre loose! We don't stand a chance!" the false guard squeaks.

<Puella> Puella focuses her will upon the man.

<DM> As before, this guard's fear proves stronger than the urge to take a nap.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan's sword flashes once more, making no attempt to take a second prisoner.

<Puella> The witch looks taken aback as her charm fails again.

<DM> The sword catches him in the gut, and now he looks truly terrified. He seems about to bolt.

<Lucavi> "Shh. Let courage lull you to sleep." Lucavi tries to placate the guard with a clout to the head.

<DM> He dodges the blow.

<DM> Grumblejack snarls in frustration as his second swing does nothing but bloody his knuckles on the wall as the guard ducks.

<Damodred> The false guard catches his companion's eye and, with fear in his gaze, shuts the door. "...I...I'm sorry... they'll catch us... maybe they will be merciful?"

<DM> "An ogre... merciful? Are you insane?" He looks around at the forces arrayed against him. "You're right... we can't escape. Go, warn the others, I'll buy you time!"

<Puella> Puella enhances her magic with a spoken incantation this time, attempting to overcome the guard's resistance.

<DM> He doesn't even notice her attack over the more obvious threats.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan's blade cuts another bloody arc.

<Puella> The priestess grimaces. "Stubbornness will make it all the worse."

<Gaerlan> "Verily"

<DM> The blade opens his throat, spilling hot, red, Talirean blood across the stairs.

<DM> He falls.

<Lucavi> "A noble death."

<Damodred> A necromantic spell from Damodred ensures his death. "I will return to their post; the spell has several minutes remaining."

<Puella> Puella frowns, her warning too late.

<Gaerlan> "A better end than awaits is fellow." Gaerlan agrees.

<DM> Alas, it will require far stronger necromancy than this to make a stilled heart beat once more.

<Gaerlan> He wipes his stolen blade clean on the dead man's clothing, then drags his still warm corpse to the top of the stair.

<Puella> "Should I help you with him?" Puella asks Lucavi.

<Gaerlan> He begins riffling through the man's pockets for anything of value.

<Lucavi> "That one is Gaerlan's," Lucavi replies, striding towards his own prisoner.

<Damodred> The dark elf waits breifly to see if anyone protests before moving out to the guardsmans' post.

<Puella> She nods, not correcting him, and waits to see if he wishes for her help with his own guard.

<Lucavi> He looks at her for a long moment, before comprehending his error. "My pardon. Yes, if you please."

<Gaerlan> He pocket's the man's key then checks his blade against the other, taking the one in better condition.

<Puella> She nods and deftly works the locks to chain the comatose guard in his own cells.

<Puella> Once this is done, she glances at Lucavi for further permission before attempting to bring the man around.

<DM> "Youse gonna cut on him again?"

<Lucavi> "I do not think it will be necessary."

<DM> "Why's dat? S'funny."

<Lucavi> "Because he will speak in his own self interest."

<DM> "His own self'd be interested in makin' ya stop cuttin'."

<Lucavi> "No doubt he would, Friend. If it comes to that, we can employ such crude methods."

<Lucavi> "We shall see. Humble Puella, awaken our guest, if you please."

<Puella> She sets to work, beginning to gently dab the man's face with a damp prison rag.

<Puella> It takes some time to bring the guard around after Lucavi's ogrelike blows. Puella works quietly.

<Lucavi> Lucavi stops trying to help after it is clear she will do better on her own. "A second pardon, if you please."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan steps into the room briefly while they work on the guard. He turns his gaze to Lucavi, "A favor, if you will."

<Lucavi> "Speak of it."

<DM> Eventually, Puella's gentle skill brings him around.

<Gaerlan> "Ask him the name of the man I killed. I would know it."

<Lucavi> "If he is so inclined."

<DM> His eyes open, and he looks at her flawless face and scarred form, and the corpse next to him. "Oh, Mitra, no..."

<Lucavi> "Shh. Your actions in the next few minutes will determine your fate."

<Gaerlan> "I will join the elf below, to make sure you are not disturbed. I would be in your debt if you found the answer for me." He leaves to join Damodred.


Quote:
<Gaerlan> He joins Damodred below, glancing at the man's disguise. "Nearly perfect."

<Damodred> He nods in reply, "I've had a great deal of practice since coming to the surface." he says quietly.

<Gaerlan> "Quite a journey, one few make. Combined with your obvious talents, I can see why you are not inclined to work within the structures of society."

<Damodred> Damodred grunts, "I could never have been even a weaver, much less some soot covered smith or fungus-farmer."

<Gaerlan> "Nor I, in my own capacity. Such an existance would be banal. I suspect I would have to take my own life before I could suffer it."

<Gaerlan> "In our own ways though, we did so, did we not? You obviously abandoned any pretense of normality when you journeyed to the surface."

<Damodred> "Normally, I would have been spread on an alter and sacrificed... such as myself are not suffered to live long. We are a threat that the matriarchy will not suffer."

<Gaerlan> "One such as yourself?"

<Damodred> "One with power." he gestures absently to his disguise. "The ancient blood is strong in my veins."

<Gaerlan> "Ah." Gaerlan nods.

<Gaerlan> "I confess, I know little of your realm."

<Damodred> Damodred smiles dimly, "And I confess, that is not an affliction I aim to mend."

<Gaerlan> "Secrets and secrets more. Is there really so much to hide?"

<Damodred> "Is there any reason to reveal?" he counters.

<Gaerlan> "I suppose it depends. Do you have somewhere to go once we are free from the prison, with the hounds chasing us unto the ends of the earth for what we have done - and will do - here?"

<Damodred> "Why leave? With a little time and effort, the dead could be raised and this could be turned into a stronghold." he poses.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan shakes his head, "They would come in such numbers as to bury you beneath their dead if they had to, and they would not need to. You would not have the time to fortify this place. A prison exists to keep men in, not to keep others out."

<Gaerlan> "And I for one crave more than to sit in a rotten hole waiting for an army to appear. I had judged that perhaps you did as well."

<Damodred> The dark elf's dim smile returns, "Perhaps. What I desire is power... more power than can be assailed by all this realm and the next." he pierces a hole in his illusion to display the scar on his arm, "...and with this? The game must change. What the new rules may be is difficult to discern."

<Gaerlan> "Well, I cannot promise you power, but I can offer opportunity. A means to move forward perhaps. When we breach the gates and move into the world I am not a leaf adrift on the wind. I have a purpose - a place - and I would have other men of like mind join me. To seek their own destiny there, or to depart as they will."

<Damodred> He frowns pensively, "I am willing to listen." he concludes. "Another stronghold can be established... or this one returned to." he looks at Gaerlan sincerely, "I would still see every man here die -- I do not like to run."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan flashes his own brand to the elf, "I too will have words with others in this pit before I go. Perhaps not all, but certainly those who marked me as though I were their property."

<DM> At this point, the doorway in the middle of the hall opens. Both were too engrossed in their conversation to hear the footsteps or handle turning before it opened.

<Damodred> Damodred stands up at attention like a soldier worrying his C/O is coming to check on him.

<DM> Sgt. Blackerly, steps through it, rubbing sleep out of his eyes. "What's that you're muttering about? And why aren't you watching the door? Worried the big, bad prisoners are going to break through iron bars and come get you?" His chuckle turns into a yawn that he tries to stifle without success.

<Damodred> "I heard one of them cut through a whole squad of soldiers, Sarge... that true?"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan lets Damodred take the lead, trying to avoid notice.

<DM> "Pfah. One of 'em cut up some noble girl, one tried to blackmail a priest, and two heretics. They're dangerous, sure, but no one-men armies among 'em."

<DM> "The girl's probably the worst of 'em. They 'rescued' her from a devil-cult, but turns out she was one of its priests. Sick bastards kept their own in chains... witch-hunters didn't find out until she'd tortured and killed her own accomplices."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan files that bit of information away.

<Damodred> The disguised dark elf makes the spell words sound like a curse before a sparkling pattern appears behind him. Damodred waits a moment to see if the magic takes hold before suggesting, "Maybe we'd best check on them, Sarge?"

<DM> "Rumors about the pretty boy having a lot of blood on his hands too, but they couldn't prove it, so it's just rumor far as I know..."

<Damodred> "Might be nothin', but I have a bad feeling and my mum always told me I had Mitra's sight."

<DM> Blackerly's face goes slack. Gaerlan notes that it is in fact the exact same look the Sergeant had on his face when taking him to meet Tiadora earlier. "Yes... Mitra's sight. Truth be told, I'm nervous after that visit earlier... let's go check on 'em."

<DM> "Both of you, with me." He turns and heads for the stairs. "Next shift should be along in a few minutes, we'll just stay until they get there..."

<Damodred> Damodred tilts his head to indicate that Gaerlan should follow close behind. As the two make their way to the cells bellow he pauses next to the room Blackerly exited to glance inside it and close the door. Then he follows quickly behind the two.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan follows behind the man who branded him. He licks his lips behind the man's back, considering what is to come.


<Puella> Puella glances at Lucavi and bites her lip as the knight begs her pardon a second time. The guard's groan at awakening interrupts whatever she might have said, though.

<Lucavi> "I find myself desiring information. Your companion has left you alone to our admittedly untender mercies."

<DM> "He's probably raising the whole prison against you right now," he says in a quavering voice. "Let me go and get back in your cells, and they might go easy on you."

<Lucavi> "You do not believe that I will do that, do you? You intend to kill me."

<DM> "Not me... I just wanted to get you back in your cell, they're bringing a magistrate and his axeman for the executions, not me!"

<Lucavi> "Naturally. I will be as dead, however. So I intend to leave this place. Which is where you come in. If you tell me what I need to know, not only will you be sparing yourself pain, but you will be saving the lives of your friends."

<Lucavi> "If I am forced to blunder through this prison, it will be filled to the ceilings with the bloodied corpses of your fellows. If I were to know its layout, I could more efficiently leave, perhaps only with unconscious and embarassed guardians in my wake."

<Puella> Puella watches mutely, standing by the corpse of the one who was dealt with... inefficiently.

<DM> With a sidelong glance at the corpse to his side, he swallows hard. "Al... alright. Mitra forgive me, what do you want to know?"

<Lucavi> "What is your partner's name?"

<DM> "L... Lioncel. He's probably getting the Sergeant and the Warden right now!"

<Lucavi> "And your name?"

<DM> "Richard... why are you asking our names?"

<Lucavi> "I would converse with you as a man, not as an object."

<Lucavi> "Tell me of the castle's layout, Richard."

<DM> He pauses, considering what will happen to him if he gives this much aid to a prisoner..."

<Puella> Puella shrinks into the shadows a little further Lucavi answers the guardsman's question. It's dark enough that even lacking her mask, her flinch is hard to see.

<Lucavi> "And right now you are asking yourself if you will get out of this alive. I can tell you...I don't know. I'm hoping you will cooperate, and I can leave you locked in a cell. Perhaps you will be found, perhaps not. It is however, a chance. A chance to live, even as I was given such a chance."

<DM> "A chance? A chance?" He looks incredulous. "The only chance you deserve is the chance to go straight to your master in Hell! They told us what you did to that poor girl, you sick freak! No, I won't do it! I'd rather go to Mitra knowing I spit in your eye, instead of let the likes of you loose on his children again!" He suits action to words, hacking spittle on Lucavi's face.

<Lucavi> "You change moods so drastically. Are you trying to throw me off guard?"

<DM> "I... uh... yes, that's it! I want you off your guard when they come to save me! We'll see who's in chains then!"

<Lucavi> Lucavi sighs. "This is unfortunate. You speak of my beloved as though she were common, you refuse to help me, and you invoke the holy name of Mitra as would a cretan on the wrong side of town."

<Lucavi> "You can see what happened to your friend who let the elf put him to the question. I am trying to be reasonable here, and you are placing me in a bind for it."

<Puella> Puella puts one hand on the guard's corpse, delicately touching his chest. A flap of skin, dislodged, sloughs all the way down to his waist, slick with blood.

<DM> He looks over at the corpse, shuddering as Puella emphasizes the mutilations... and begins to sob. "The elf... alright, I'll talk, just, when you're finished, make it quick, don't give me to that knife-eared baby-eater."

<Lucavi> "The layout of this prison, Richard. Please."

<DM> "We're in the old castle's great hall now, the main entry is just down those stairs. Kitchen, mess, and barracks on the right, store rooms and Blackerly's office and quarters on the left. When you get outside, you'll be in the courtyard, with a garden past the kitchens. Warden's tower is behind the great hall, and the gates lead out to the bridge back to the mainland. There's the guardhouse on the other side. They won't let anyone out who doesn't..."

<DM> He stops, cursing himself for having said too much.

<Lucavi> "Please. This piece of information could be the difference between your friends dying and living to return to their families."

<DM> "Anyone who doesn't know the password. It's 'Hesterfield,' the Warden's home town. Hasn't been changed in weeks, that'd never happen under the old Captain... if any of you are wearing the prisoner's rags, they'll just shoot you on sight."

<Lucavi> Lucavi smiles. "See? That might be the difference between leaving and fighting our way through the guardhouse."

<DM> He does not seem comforted by the knowledge.

<Lucavi> "What are your guard patrols? I can hardly expect my friends to avoid them if I do not know precisely where your compatriots are supposed to be and when."

<DM> "Two on top of the main gate house. Another team patrols the walls constantly, I don't know where they'd be at any particular moment, they'll blow the horns if they see anything. And there's the dogs in the kennel right beside the gatehouse. Three men are off duty in the barracks, two more with another dog in the guard house at the end of the bridge. Blackerly didn't have a card game tonight, so they'll all be on post."

<Lucavi> "Thank you for your cooperation. Now I have a request. I need you to remain silent. Do I have your oath, or must I ensure your coaction with other means?"

<Puella> Puella silently draws her knife, holding it hilt first for Lucavi in case the answer is "no."

<DM> "Uh... yes, I've done everything you want, why would I mess it up no, a heh, heh?" He smiles nervously.

<Lucavi> "Integrity is a commodity that cannot be bought or sold, Richard." Lucavi's hand covers the guard's mouth, dripping acid inside.

<DM> Lucavi's hand cannot entirely stop his screams. He panics, sinking his teeth into the dark knight's palm.

<Puella> Puella acts, mystic force lashing out at him.

<DM> As the acid eats into his tongue and throat, he passes into blessed oblivion once more.

<Lucavi> Two fingers pass over the guard's eyes, and drops of acid once more issue forth.

<Puella> She stores her dagger again. "Your hand?"

<DM> While Lucavi is scarring his prisoner, Grumblejack watches, with a large grin on his face.

<Lucavi> "The knave lacked intestinal fortitude in the end," Lucavi remarks, almost sorrowful.

<Lucavi> "Still, perhaps he will survive that which is to come. My integrity holds regardless of his own."

<DM> As this occurs, Tomas Blackerly leads his two "guards" up the stairs. "Where the hells are Wedge and Vicks? Abandoning their posts when we have prisoners in the cells?"

<DM> "And is that... is that blood on the stairs?!"

<Damodred> "It couldn't be... quickly, check the cells!" the dark elf urges Tomas.

<Gaerlan> "Wedge busted his head earlier. Clumsy fool." Gaerlan lies, "Vicks was helping him to get it looked at."

<Gaerlan> "It looked pretty bad."

<Damodred> "Oh, was that when I was in the head?" Damodred asks, calming.

<DM> "Have you two been hitting the..." He stops and looks at Gaerlan more closely. His eyes go wide, and he shrieks, reaching for his sword.

<Gaerlan> "Yeah, you missed one hell of a spill. Half his head was matted with blood. Wasn't pretty. It didn't seem seemly to talk about it until I knew he was alright."

<Puella> Puella stiffens at the voice from the next room. "Guards!" she exclaims in a low voice.

<Lucavi> "I will defend you."

<Damodred> Damodred sighs and closes the door firmly, "Well..." he says as his disguise fades away, "...this is troubling." he concludes before spitting the words of a spell that launches acid at Blackerly's face.

<DM> It misses, sizzling into the wall.

<DM> Blackerly swings wildly at the prisoner in front of him, his imagination conjuring up horrible images of the rumored murders in his past, then bolts for the bottom of the stairs without even seeing if he connected.

<DM> Which he did not.

<DM> Grumblejack hears the sound of a fray, and runs towards it, as fast as his poisoned legs will carry him.

<Puella> Puella dashes to the aid of her companions.

<Lucavi> Lucavi curls his lip in annoyance, but charges off after her at a dead sprint.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan leaps off the stairs to tackle the coward.

<DM> And catches Blackerly's longsword on his arm for his trouble (7 damage).

<Damodred> Damodred withdraws to block the exit.

<DM> Blackerly continues his flight, stumbling a bit as Gaerlan's stolen shield bruises his fat rump. He huffs puffs down the stairs, skidding to a stop as he sees the dark elf blocking his exit.

<DM> "Guards! Anyone! The prisoners are escaping, help!" His screams for help echo uselessly in the small room.

<DM> Grumblejack recognizes the voice, and puts on more speed as he charges towards the chief of his tormentors.

<Damodred> "We've already escaped, friend. Now we're just cleaning up anyone who stands in our way." Damodred replies sinisterly, "Why not just give up and make things easy on yourself? You could save a lot of lives today... you could be a hero..."

<DM> He shakes his head.

<Puella> Puella rounds the corner, and quickly comes into sight of the others. She slows as she hits the stairs.

<DM> "Out of my way imposter! You've already earned yourself the chopping block instead of the mines, don't make it the pyre!"

<Damodred> "...you could change everything. They talk about you, you know? They say terrible things about their sargeant... don't you want to convince them they're wrong?"

<Lucavi> Lucavi struggles to keep pace with the swift woman.

<Damodred> "Or... better... join us. You don't fit in here... you are so much better than these plebs, these weaklings who stand in your shadow."

<Gaerlan> Racing down the stairs Gaerlan draws his sword. He does not hesitate to drive it into the fat man's back.

<Gaerlan> "Or you could just die." Gaerlan whispers from behind him.

<DM> He screams in pain, as the blow pierces his armor.

<Damodred> Looking over the sargeants shoulder at his companion, "Yes, I am afraid those are your options currently."

<Damodred> The wizard calls defensive power to shroud himself; it plays tricks with his oppenents mind. Shuttering lights dance and distract at the corners of his eyes, a sudden burst of fear cuts short a strike, and the weft and weave of light bends causing him nausea.

<DM> "You'd never show mercy to the man who branded you! Stop this and I'll... I'll have your sentences commuted!" Blackerly's smooth tongue fails him in this moment of panic; our villains realize easily that a common sergeant has no such power.

<DM> Where silver tongue will not win, perhaps steel will tell. He slashes wildly at the elf blocking his path.

<Damodred> "The others may want their retribution, but I at least would forgoe mine... you might yet live, and perhaps some will view your scars as marks of beauty."

<DM> Alas, his sword arm is no more reliable than his wits, it seems.

<DM> Grumblejack squeezes his bulk down the staircase, helping to cut off the escape. "Youse goin' nowhere, Pig-Face. Grumblejack gonna see if you squeal like pig, too."

<Damodred> "Ah, I am afraid you have waited too long..." Damodred mourns.

<Puella> Puella flings out her hands as the battle comes into view, calling down a curse to topple the seargeant like a felled tree.

<Gaerlan> "Do you have family Blackerly? Friends? I'm going to find them, and they'll know pain. Before the end they'll beg for death."

<DM> It seems his mind is not as resilient as Richard's and Lioncel's. Puella's magic takes him, and he collapses, seeking refuge in false nightmares from the real one he finds himself in.

<Damodred> Damodred watches him collapse and then smiles up at Puella. "Well done." he glances behind him at the door and says, "The next shift of guards will be here soon..."

<Puella> She nods, catching her breath. "It won't last long."

<Puella> "Not like yours."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan grips his sword in both hands and drives it down onto the helpless man's face.

<Lucavi> Lucavi leaps over the railing and lands on the ground. "Do not let him escape." It does not appear that he is referring to a physical event.

<Lucavi> Lucavi arches his eyebrow as Gaerlan attempts to take that which is his yet again.

<DM> Gaerlan's sword drives into Blackerly's mouth mid-snore, and pierces into his brain.

<Lucavi> Lucavi sighs. "You let him escape."

<Puella> "The kitchen." Puella says swiftly.

<DM> It seems, dear readers, that branding men such as this, and giving them a chance to escape is a poor idea. Let us all learn from Tomas Blackerly's example.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan leans close to listen to the last gasp of breath leave the body. "Yes." He turns to the knight, "And let us do so as well. Did you recover what you sought?"

<Puella> "No... I mean..." Puella hesitates to interrupt. "The fireplace was open. They may have heard. We should hurry before they gather their wits."

<Damodred> Damodred opens his second sight and examines the body.

<DM> Grumblejack hunkers down beside the Sergeant. "Gimmie one of dem pigstickers."

<Lucavi> "And that which you sought as well." He looks at the sergeant's body. "A favor that will have to be repaid at a later date, it seems."

<Lucavi> "Let us be about the lady's business."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan moves aside to let the knight and his lady pass, bowing slight to her.

<Damodred> After examining the remaining artifacts for magical residue in vane, Damodred presses his ear against the door to listen for footsteps outside.

<Puella> Puella hurries after Lucavi towards the kitchen.

<DM> Grumblejack remains behind. He strips off Blackerly's chainmail, leaving it in a pile beside him, and uses the Sergeant's own sword to open up his chest.

<Damodred> Damodred joins the other two.

<DM> As Lucavi opens the door, he sees a large room has a few wooden tables and benches.A banner emblazoned with the emblem of Branderscar prison hangs on the eastern wall.

<DM> Image

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan smiles at the ogre, "Remember the old ways." He examines the mail to see if it will fit, and takes a moment to test the man's sword once the ogre is finished with it.

<DM> He finds the armor a bit tight in the shoulders and chest, and loose in the middle, but it will serve. The sword is far better made than those of the common guardsmen.

<DM> As he does so, the ogre nods to him, and pulls out Blackerly's heart, quickly devouring it.

<DM> When Damodred opens the door Blackerly came from, he sees Sergeant Blackerly’s office. It is a plain affair with a single cluttered desk and a couple of chairs. This room is lit by a pair of sconces holding torches.

<Puella> Puella glances around the mess hall for the kitchen doors.

<Gaerlan> "He should wander the afterlife without eyes, nose, lips, or tongue. A blind mute that all shall know was the fool in life." He gestures to the sword, "Do you mind if I take this." He paws at the man's pockets for anythign else of value besides his armor and weapon.

<Lucavi> Lucavi idly flings acid at the insignia of the prison, allowing the bolt to eat away at the cloth of the banner.

<DM> "What's I do with a little toothpick like dat?"

<Gaerlan> "Simply being polite."

<DM> Aside from his armor, weapon, and Sergeant's uniform, Gaerlan finds a key ring, and a pouch holding thirty pieces of gold.

<Lucavi> Lucavi opens the door in the mess hall.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan pockets the keys, the pouch, and picks up the sergeant's sword for now.

<DM> This room houses a well-stocked kitchen and pantry. The fireplace here is a relic of the old castle great hall. It is almost comically large and has a chimney that can be climbed up to level 2. Unfortunately, a fire is always burning in the fire-place as the servants are constantly stewing tough cuts of meat, baking bread or boiling bones for broth.

<DM> The two servants working here are unarmed and unarmored, though they have knives in easy reach. One is a large man, the other a pretty blond woman.

<Lucavi> "Well met, friends. What is for dinner?"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan takes up a position in the hall, closing the door behind him and leaving the ogre to its grisly work. From here he can see the dining hall, the door to the kitchen, and the unchecked door.

<DM> "Mutton stew, neighbor. Haven't seen you about here before, you new? Get those scars on the Watch Wall, fighting the bugbears?" The male servant answers you, while they both smile distractedly, going about their duties.

<DM> Neither seems to notice anything untoward.

<Puella> As she hears a civil response from the kitchen, Puella relaxes.

<Puella> She stops to look around.

<Damodred> Seeing little threat from the servants, Damodred moves steathilly back across the hall to the office.

<Damodred> He begins going through the papers, scanning their contents quickly, and opening drawers before looking turning over the matress and looking for other secret places the Sargeant may be hiding his poker winnings.

<Lucavi> Lucavi fingers the scars on his face, put off for once. "No. These were mine since I can remember. Can I get a bowl? Dinner protocol was not covered, I'm afraid."

<DM> "Why certainly! I know they've got you all jumping about at all hours."

<DM> Damodred cannot make any sense of the paperwork at the moment, giving it only a cursory glance. He does, however, find a full map of the prison, complete with guard postings and shift schedules.

<Damodred> The dark elf slips out of the chair and waves to get Puella's attention so that she will join him.

<Puella> She glances over, and moves to his side.

<Lucavi> "Do they make you stay here like we do? Or do you live nearby?"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glances up and down the hall while the others work. He eyes his bleeding arm and frowns, but continues to wait for the shift change.

<DM> "We just live over in the town, only a short walk across the bridge, sir. It's no trouble to head back there in the morning," the woman answers him with a shy smile. "No trouble at all! Why, sometimes I slip across the bridge here at night when we need more firewood. STay here any time at all, you'll get used to seeing me quick enough, haha!" The man laughs jovially. They do have traveling cloaks hanging on a peg by the door.

<Damodred> He murmers, "Help me make sense of these documents?"

<Lucavi> "Hesterfield, right? Or was that the old one?"

<DM> "That's the one! Glad they don't change it as often as they used to, I am."

<Puella> She nods. "I will. Will you ask Gaerlan to watch for the next shift?" She frowns and begins looking over papers.

<Damodred> "He is, I think.. Once we have a sense of this..." he lays out a map next to the documents she is deciphering, "...I think we will have enough information for a better plan." he grins evilly.

<Lucavi> "Well, if I am in the guardhouse, I'll make sure not to jump the gun if you give the wrong one." Lucavi smiles. "Thank you for the food. It has been quite some time since I've eaten that well."

<Puella> "Oh... that's strange." Puella remarks after a moment. "This says that there are four guards getting paid to be on station in the hallway... and six servants in the kitchen..."

<DM> While Puella is deciphering the papers on the desk, the other door leading into the mess hall opens, and three men come out, still shrugging into their chain shirts. They sit their shields on one of the tables, and head for the kitchen. "Hey Gregor, any chance we could get a bite before we go on duty... who are you?"

<Lucavi> "Cav."

<DM> "Haven't seen you around here before, Cav... you look familiar, though."

<Puella> "I wonder..." She searches around for several other papers... "Ah! Yes. I think he's stealing from the payroll... and the armory... and the stores..."

<Lucavi> "I'm new to the place. How long have you been here?"

<Damodred> "Time's up..." he murmers, seeing Gaerlan stiffen as the new shift arrives. He moves swiftly, but quietly, to the dark knight's side.

<DM> "A couple years... I'd swear to Mitra I've seen you somewhere before..."

<Lucavi> Lucavi arches an eyebrow, almost as if Gaerlan was stealing yet another thing that belonged to him.

<Lucavi> "Perhaps you have. I do have one of those faces."

<Lucavi> He gestures to the stew. "This is excellent. I never ate so well back home."

<DM> The guard in the back was staring at you intently as well. His eyes go wide, and he glances towards the door, catching sight of Gaerlan and Damodred. "They're the prisoners! They're escaping!"

<DM> The female servant gasps, and they both huddle against the back of the room.

<Lucavi> Lucavi sighs. "So much for the stew. Thank you, Sir Gregor, Irena." He stands.


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 Post subject: Re: Way of the Wicked sessions
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:42 pm 
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Puella wastes no time trying to lie her way out of the situation. Instead, she calls a curse down upon the nearest guard.

He succumbs, drifting back into the slumber he so lately left.

"Hells," Gaerlan grumbles, drawing his sword and advancing on the closer guard. He ignores the sting in his arm as he hefts his shield with the other, and grips it tight against the slickness of his blood. He drives his blade into the helpless guard upon the floor.

He is jerked out of his sleep by the stabbing pain.

"Come to me, Brothers. Die well."

The guard who thought he recognized Lucavi advances to hold him off. "Run, get the others!" The one on the floor draws his sword as he struggles to his feet, stabbing at Gaerlan, while the third rushes past him and tries to shove the elf out of the way to make a break for it.

The one trying to rise slips, and stumbles directly into Gaerlan's blade, collapsing again as he bleeds his life out.

The one moving into the kitchen, strikes true, wounding Lucavi. (4 damage)

Lucavi moves like lightning, driving his nails towards the guard's face.

As they strike home, he pushes them into the man's skull. "Tread no longer on my dreams."

He drops in a spray of gore. That simply cannot be good for the stew, dear readers.

"I apologize for the offense to your sensibilities and good cooking."

Damodred makes an 'oof' noise as the guard pushes him back and heads for the door. With a sneer he takes a step back to get a clear view around Puella and incants a spell to seal the exit. "It will not be so easy to escape me." he pronounces.

"Please...for your own sakes, calm down. There is no need for you to die."

"What's all dat ruckus..." Grumblejack squeezes through the door from the stairwell, covered in blood. He smiles as he sees a guard to hurt, and steps forward, swiping at him with a heavy blow.

Sadly, his aim is off.

 Pressed on suddenly by the last guard, Puella reaches for her knife, trying to fend the enemy off long enough to bring him down with magic.

Gaerlan slides his stolen blade off the fallen man's throat, he glances toward Lucavi "That was Azamir, wasn't it? That you quoted?"

He drops, his ill-fated run doomed 'fore it began.

Lucavi merely raises an eyebrow.

"No, Butler," He continues to speak as he turns to face the last guard, driving his blade into the man's spine. "I always appreciated that line."

One may hope the guard's dreams are sweet, dear reader. For they shall never end.

As Gaerlan removes his sword from the dead man, Damodred unceramoniously steps over him and moves into the kitchen. He blocks the doorway and considers the two servants and then glances at Lucavi. "Strip." he orders them diplomatically, "We will need your clothing for disguises."

"Stop."

His gaze returns to Lucavi.

"These two are my prisoners, and they will be accorded due respect."

The two cower in the corner, eyes darting about, from villains, to knives, to the door on the eastern wall.

Gaerlan moves to peek into the room the guards emerged from, trying to ensure there are no more.

"Do not," Lucavi cautions them. "You are safer here."

"I am according the humans..." he spits the word, "...with all respect due the race." he waves his hand absently to dismiss the argument though and lays the map he found out on the kitchen table after moving some bits and such out of the way. "That should be the last of the guards stationed in the garrison." he proclaims.

When Gaerlan looks into the barracks, he finds this simple room has a few cots and a dozen locked chests containing personal possessions of the guards.

Once he has satisfied himself he moves to the two guards he murdered, looting their keys before moving to the chests as though nothing had happened.

Puella marks the locations of other guards, gleaned from Richard, with a few paperweights from the seargeant's office.

"Go attend to a situation over which you have control. This is not such."

When Lucavi joins them at the table Damodred hands him the potion and suggests, "You might want this..." eyeing his wounds.

When Gaerlan opens the chests, he finds the following:

Quote:
A small supply of absolutely delicious cookies carefully wrapped in wax paper labeled ‘From Lil.'
Hidden under peasant garb are two decks of cards (one regular, one marked) and bag of 12 gp worth of mixed coinage.
Ink, quill and a personal journal that reveals this week’s password "Hesterfield" - the Warden’s home town - and the details of Blackerly’s illicit gambling sessions including exactly when the next game will be (tomorrow).
A small coin pouch with 3 gp in miscellaneous coinage.


Puella moves to open the others less conventionally.

Gaerlan pockets both decks of cards, dumps the coins into Blackerly's purse, and picks up the cookies and journal. He sets the journal and cookies upon the table, taking one for himself. "Cookies anyone?"

"There is some clothing in there that may fit you Puella."

She pauses in her work to glance it over.

Damodred asks Lucavi, "Could you ask your slaves to bring me a bowl of stew?" he then calls to Grumble, "Can you move the bodies into the prison cells? They are making the atmosphere rather dreary."

Gaerlan offers a cookie to Damodred.

The remaining chests contain the following:

Quote:
A map of the nearby town of Varyston including the Old Moor road.
A silver holy symbol of Mitra (worth 25 gp) and a Mitran holy book (worth 5 gp).
A bottle of absolute rot gut without label worth 5 gp.
A small bag of doggy treats.
A small coin pouch with 5 gold in miscellaneous coinage.
A whetstone, cleaning supplies for chain shirt, extra bowstring, and a small book of military regulations.
A traveller’s outfit, a finely made pipe (5 gp) with a good supply (1 lb.) of high quality shag tobacco (2 gp).
A large collection of letters from home. Perhaps they are poignant but they are also worthless.


Lucavi looks at the servants seriously. "I regret the need to impose upon you. However, I need your cooperation. Your very lives depend on it."

Grumblejack nods, and grumblingly (how fitting!) dumps the bodies in the prison cells upstairs.

She holds the large peasant shirt up after the last lock is picked, waiting for a moment to see if Gaerlan and Damodred are turning away or stepping out. Whether they do or not, she then exchanges it for her bloody prison rags.

Gaerlan smiles from the mess hall and looks away, watching Lucavi and the servants.

He finishes his cookie and moves into the Kitchen, looking for a rag to wrap around his wounded arm, having grown tired of the bleeding.

When Grumble returns, Damodred levels a dim smile at him and asks, "I was hoping you wouldn't mind watching the door, now..." he tilts his head to the door behind him, "...it's the only way in for a while at least."

"I do not think this will pass as a disguise." Puella concludes after testing out the new garb, sized for someone at least twice her weight.

"Grmm. Alright, Witch-Man."

As he cedes his seat to the ogre he moves to the stew, since the servants have yet to serve him, and asks, "Want some sup?" of Grumble.

"He already had his."

"I's just ate."

"Pudgy ******, served extra rare."

He pulls a bone covered in fresh blood out of his belt where it was tucked, and gnaws on it.

 "Still, at least it is not bloody, and it has pockets." She gathers up the other useful items, and - pocketing them - goes to check on Lucavi.

The dark elf ladles a bowl for himself and nods at Gaerlan with a grin. "Of course..." he looks the ogre over and comments, "...you are a peculiarity among your kind, aren't you?" he touches his forhead at either temple to indicate the ogre's horns.

"A what?"

"You are unique. One of a kind..."

"Hmph." Grumble settles back down, after you explain you weren't insulting him. He rubs his forehead, almost self-consciously. "Dey run in da family."

"Least dey used to."

Damodred seems content with this answer and idly spooning a bite of stew into his mouth heads out of the kitchen to explore some of the other rooms.

Gregor and Irena nod, nervously. "H... how did you know my name?," the woman asks him.

Lucavi merely raises his eyebrow. "We have more important things to discuss than your given names."

"Are... are you going to kill us?"

Gaerlan settles down to wrap the arm in one of the rags. When he is finished he recovers Blackerly's armor and lays it on the table beside the cookies, map, and other loot. Finally he moves off in search of Damodred, to ensure the elf has found no trouble.

"I'd prefer not to. I am a knight of Marceux, and my word is my bond. Will you place me in a situation where I am forced to kill you, or allow you to be killed?"

Gaerlan catches sight of Damodred moving through the office. In one hand is his stew, the spoon in the bowl, his other hand is tearing the prisoner's tunic from his body. Once it has been discarded the dark elf walks along without a hint of self-conciousness.

Damodred finds that the other doors are locked; however, once Gaerlan joins him, they all yield to Blackerly's key ring.
Gaerlan moves to join him, snagging an extra cookie along the way.

She slips inside, the mass of scars, more scars and scars upon built up scars on her legs more visible now. "May I?" she glances at Lucavi before moving to take possession of the various more dangerous pieces of cutlery.

"A knight of... no, no sir! We won't do nothin to stop you!"

The drow's taut skin gleams in the torchlight and he absently spoons stew into his mouth as they kick around through the storeroom, the sargeant's bedroom, and what he suspects (as per the map) is an armory.

Irena looks with horror at Puella's scars.

Lucavi gestures to Puella that she may do as she will.

(Room 12) Inside are six spare sets of gear for guards: chain shirt, heavy steel shield, long sword and longbow. There is also a rack holding a dozen more leather-wrapped clubs. Further, there is also a stock pile of 240 arrows in twelve quivers. These items (save for the arrows and the clubs) bear the mark of Talingarde somewhere on them.

There is also an assortment of weaponry that the guards have confiscated over the years. These weapons are jumbled together and obviously little cared for. They are also unmarked and thus resalable. That assortment includes: a shiv made from a women’s metal comb (treat as a dagger), a heavy mace, spear, quarterstaff, battle axe, rapier, great sword, trident and glaive.

(Room 13) Supplies for the prison are stored here. There are 200 torches, ten lanterns, two 10 gallon kegs of lantern oil, six spare guard uniforms, dozen signal horns, twenty 50’ lengths of rope and two barrels labeled ‘emergency rations’.

The emergency rations barrels contain maggoty old iron rations that has gotten wet, moldered and not been replaced. They could still be eaten by the brave or the desperate.

Hanging in a special rack is also to be found several brands with the runic F symbol and a specially made brazier for heating them. Our villains immediately recognize these items as the brands that marked them.

This storeroom is very sparsely supplied and could hold much more

(Room 15) At first glance this appears to simply be the slovenly-kept bed chamber of the sergeant of the guard. There is a bed, a small table and wardrobe which contain Blackerly’s personal effects.

In the storeroom, Damodred kicks a barrel of oil, "I think I have a better idea to get the wizard out of his tower." he snickers.

Puella gathers up the cutlery and places it securely in another room, out of their reach.

Her stomach growls audibly at the smell of the stew, but she does not so much as look at it as she goes about her work.

"I should hope no..." Lucavi pauses as Puella's stomach growls.

"Provide her with stew, please."

They bump into each other serving her.

Soon, trembling aside, Puella is holding a bowl of delicious stew, as well as anything else she may desire.

Gaerlan ignores most of the rooms, focusing his attention on the room of the corrupt guardsman.

Puella pauses, and replies with a lowered glance. "Thank you, Lucavi." She eats like a starving woman.

Damodred finishes his stew and callously discards the bowl by simply dropping it on the ground. He then takes his time searching the armory and the store room while Gaerlan searches the bedroom. As he bends over to poke and prod, scootch and scatter, his pearlescent rump rears temptingly in the air.

Under Blackerly’s bed is an iron strong box with a good lock, and its key on the Sergeant's ring. Inside that box is a case of rotgut whiskey (a dozen bottles worth 5 gp a bottle) and 1,235 gp. All of our villains instantly realize this is a larcenously huge amount of money to be possessed by a common sergeant; no doubt the money skimmed from Branderscar's budget, at least he has not spent.

Gaerlan also discovers a strange bottle in the wardrobe. It looks and smells like more rotgut whiskey, but there are things floating in it as well, and the smell (and taste, if he is so bold) are rather off.

Damodred finds little else of interest. It seems the Sergeant kept all his illicit belongings in his bedroom.

"What if the storm ends? Leaves us nothing except a memory...a distant echo?" Lucavi muses.

"...beg pardon, sir?" The servants look nearly as baffled as they are afraid.

"How DID I know your name, Irena? Were you in my dreams?"

"Did you see what goes on...in my dreams?"

Gaerlan carries the strongbox back to the mess, "So..." He waits for the others to finish with their tasks, "What now?"

"I... I wouldn't know, sir. I don't think I've ever seen anyone else's dreams." His, she would doubtless remember.
He moves towards Irena slowly, like a man possessed. "I need you to do something for me."

Damodred wanders back into the kitchen, his nudity casting an even stranger light on the tabluex of Lucavi's ramblings, and he begins going through the cupboards until he finds something 'snackish' to munch on. Settling on iron rations he opens the pouch they are in and breaks off small pieces to nibble on.

She looks at Lucavi, her eyes wide, trembling too hard to speak. Even the naked elf can't draw her attention away.

Puella sets aside the now-empty bowl she was given, and watches Lucavi with a curious look. She opens her mouth... then closes it.

Damodred leans back against the counter quietly watching.

He leans in and whispers to her. "You need to give your clothing to the girl. You need to insist that she take it. You may dress yourself in guard's clothing. You may undress with the girl, out of sight of the men. Do not tarry."

She lets out a gasp of relief, and nods, tears coming to her eyes. She follows Puella wherever the scarred woman wishes.

Lucavi shakes his head, as though coming out of a fugue. He catches Gregor and Damodred looking at him and scowls. "What?"

Damodred simply smiles dimly. Knowingly.

Unsure of what was said but quickly understanding that the two are to go elsewhere, Puella rises and makes her way into an empty room.

"Gregor, who is Irena to you?"

Irena follows her. "I am to give you my clothes, milady." She begins stripping before Puella has a chance to refuse.
She turns and looks at the other woman, waiting for her to explain.

"We work here together... she's a neighbor, and a friend. Her mother's my cousin's wife's best friend."

"Oh. Yes." Puella shrugs out of her own vastly oversized guard's shirt and begins emptying the pockets.

Lucavi nods absently at the answer. "Setay, by the way," he replies to Gaerlan.

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams..." He gestures to the strongbox, "Well, we are poor no longer."

Beneath the shirt, the wounds are worse than ever, newly healed, red marks of whip and blade lying over old, ridged white marks. She accepts and begins donning Irena's better-fitting outfit, and hands the other woman the guard's clothes.

The dark elf sneers at the lock box, "That metal may sate a minion... I am not a minion."

"Will you spread them under my feet? It seems a sure way to lose one's footing."

"I had not expected you to know that poem."

 She helps Irena get into the baggy clothing and tie it up into a semblance of something that wouldn't be tripped over.

Irena tries not to gag at the sight of the horrible scars. "Who... who hurt you so badly?" She blurts it out, unable to help herself.

Lucavi shrugs. "Every true knight is to be a poet."

"Many hands," Puella replies, "I am for rough use. I could not name them all."

"Will that stay?" she asks as if it were the same subject, working on rolling up one long pant leg.

"But... why?"

"The perfect halo of gold hair and lightning sets you off against this world's last dance," Lucavi remarks, entering the room with the two women.

Why indeed, dear readers! Will we learn why Puella was used so roughly? Will Lucavi be entranced by Irena's charms that he forgets the danger he finds himself in? Our villains have slain the corrupt Sergeant Blackerly, but their freedom is still far from assured! These questions and more will be answered next time, as we take another step on the Way of the Wicked!


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 Post subject: Re: Way of the Wicked sessions
PostPosted: Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:27 am 
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<DM> Welcome back, dear readers. Last time, our villains took their revenge on the corrupt Sergeant Tomas Blackerly who laughed at their pain, and further thinned the depleted ranks of Branderscar's guards. Will tonight be the night that they make good their escape from this wretched hall of justice? Or will the mysterious warden thwart their attempt and maintain his prison's perfect record? Find out as we follow the Way of the Wicked!

<DM> Irena, now clad in an ill-fitting guard's uniform emerges from the barracks, looking shaken by her conversation with Puella, and returns to the kitchen, joining Gregor under the watchful eyes of Damodred and Grumblejack.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan waits for the others to finish with their diversions.

<Lucavi> Lucavi watches her go. "These will serve you better," he states to Puella.

<Puella> Puella, now in the guise of a Branderscar servant, nods to Lucavi. "Shall we bring the warden his dinner?"

<Gaerlan> He fishes out, from their collected loot, a pen and paper and writes a brief note, pocketing it for now. Looking up he smiles at Puella, "Sounds exciting."

<Lucavi> "The bell recently tolled midnight. I think we should secure the rest of the prison, and bring him his breakfast in the morrow."

<Lucavi> "Divest him of his power, and strike him in the midst of his early morning studies."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan shrugs, "I'd rather not linger overly long here - especially knowing another party is on its way."

<Lucavi> "The ruse will not work if we rouse him from his slumber for a haunch of roast mutton."

<Gaerlan> "It would not do for the Headsman to arrive early and find us murdering the Warden in the morning."

<Puella> Puella nods. "I warn that my grip on magic will not grow any stronger, as long as I do not have the Mask. But I do not think I would lose it before morning."

<Lucavi> "If we are to be about such a business, there is no need for the ruse at all."

<Gaerlan> "It occurs to me that we could rouse him from his chambers under other pretenses. Either way it may be wise to pick off those remaining guards along the wall and at the gate."

<Lucavi> Lucavi gives him a dry look, having suggested that very thing precede business with the warden already.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan grins back, "Expressing agreement."

<Puella> Puella nods, retrieves the spell component pouch, and secures her dagger for easy access with the new outfit. "I am ready."

<Lucavi> "Well then, let us be about that business upon which we are in accord before moving to that which may invoke debate."

<Gaerlan> He nods to Lucavi, "Would you prefer Blackerly's armor or blade? Either is a step up from what the guards were wearing."

<Gaerlan> He gestures to the pile of chainmail upon the table beside him.

<Lucavi> "I did not kill the knave, and I'll not claim his spoils for myself unless they shall go to waste otherwise."

<Lucavi> "Why do you not choose to make use of them?"

<Gaerlan> "The man owed all of us something, I'm simply helping him settle accounts."

<Lucavi> "I thought as much. Wear the spoils of your victory. I shall forge my own victories to drape myself in."

<DM> "I'll take his head, if no one else wants it," Damodred pipes up.

<Gaerlan> "Well enough." Gaerlan slips out of his chian shirt and begins to slide on the heavier armor of the dearly departed Blackerly.

<Gaerlan> When finished he nods to the others, checking the bandage on either arm to make sure it is still in place. "Shall we go a-murdering?"

<DM> Grumblejack stands, and nods eagerly.

<Puella> Puella nods her assent.

<Lucavi> "No. But those who would stand against us shall fall all the same."

<Lucavi> "Elf, you stay here with our friends. See that they come to no harm, or you shall answer to me."

<DM> "Hmph. Very well. They can help me pickle the wretch, so there'll be something left to reanimate."

<Lucavi> "Whatever black magic tickles your fancy. Be about your business, and we shall be about ours."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan makes for the exit to the building, "Walls first? Catch them alone?"

<Lucavi> "Allow our gentler compatriot to make her way with the password."

<Lucavi> "When she has separated the prey from the herd, we strike."

<Lucavi> "Your spoils will give the game up once they spot you, so remain out of sight until the time is right."

<Puella> "You wish me to signal you when the guards on the walls are out of sight of the gatehouse? Or the other way?" Puella asks. "Which should be struck first?"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan shrugs, "Dead men in either case. We must be swift though. If they raise the alarm enough remain for this to go sideways quickly."

<Lucavi> "You and I can pass where he cannot," Lucavi answers.

<Lucavi> "I would prefer to strike them single or in pairs."

<Puella> "Are the grounds well lit?" Puella asks the servants.

<DM> They shake their heads. "No ma'am."

<Gaerlan> "In which case until we grow very close, my attire is not an issue."

<Lucavi> Lucavi looks Grumblejack up and down. "Could you play the part of a prisoner?"

<DM> "I thought I was a prisoner?"

<Lucavi> "You were, until I freed you. Now I ask that you take that guise upon yourself again."

<Lucavi> "I walk you out, as though we were moving you to a safer place."

<Lucavi> "By the time they see you are not truly bound, we are upon them."

<Puella> "Or he might pass for you." Puella suggests softly. "I heard you say you often go for firewood?"

<DM> Gregor looks between the hulking ogre and his traveling cloak on its peg, looking... unsure to say the least.

<DM> "That I do..."

<Gaerlan> "In either case, we should move quickly. The change of guard is no doubt expected."

<Gaerlan> "The longer it is delayed the more this will all be for nothing."

<Lucavi> "If I die a free man, rather than in chains, it will not be for nothing."

<Gaerlan> "At a distance he passes either for your ward, or for a prisoner in the company of two guards. In either case the guards will have to close to confirm something is amiss, and at that point both ruses are for nothing. Let is move and see what comes of it."

<DM> "Grumblejack can lie to da little 'uns fore he smashes 'em if ya want." The ogre sounds like he doesn't really see the point, but is agreeable enough to either plan.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan cracks the side door to peek out into the grounds.

<Puella> "Then let me begin warding you as we prepare. This spell shall help turn weapons aside, as surely as armor would." Puella begins casting a spell, and faint orange wisps of heatless flame flicker over Grumblejack, sinking into the ogre's skin as an invisible field of protective force springs up around him.

<DM> He seems to fight the urge to flinch as she lays her hand on him, and shakes his head when the spell is done. "Wierd."

<Lucavi> "Send the girl to scout. Move through the guardhouse, and turn back when you 'remember' you have forgotten something in the kitchens. Let us know what we are dealing with, and we shall move in. Scream if you are compromised."

<Puella> Puella nods, repeats the spell on herself with a faint shudder, and obeys.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glances at Puella to make certain she is willing to go along with such a plan, then opens the door for her.

<Puella> "If I am caught," Puella confirms, "I will scream." She slips out into the night.

<DM> As soon as she does, the dogs in the kennel start barking.

<DM> The courtyard of the castle is adorned by a small fountain. The fountain’s centerpiece is a statue of the Mitran pantheon’s patron saint of law and order -- St. Dothan the Just. In his outstretched hand is a sword that points to the Great Hall. At the base of his statue is an inscription: "Thus is justice done." A stone path surrounds the fountain and leads around the Great Hall.

<DM> A plain wooden kennel is attached to one wall, currently the source of the racket. "Shut up down there!," one of the guards on the wall yells down at the dogs.

<Puella> Puella shivers as the dogs start up, but decides that, with the guard's response, it is best to continue. She makes her way over towards the gatehouse.

<DM> They continue yapping the entire time she's outside.

<Puella> When she arrives, she tries the door, ready to give the password if challenged.

Quote:
<DM> When she reaches the gatehouse, Puella finds a pair of stout double doors, with swing bars and braces. They are currently shut but not barred.

[<DM> No challenge comes when she opens them.

<Puella> She moves inside and looks around.

<DM> The room is unadorned and empty. It has a murder hole in the celing, and arrow slits along both sides.

<DM> The dogs quiet down when she's out of their sight.

<Puella> She spends a few moments searching for anything of potential use or concern.

<DM> When she looks through the arrow slits, she sees that the rooms on either side each have a ladder leading to the next level. The western room has a door going outside, while the eastern contains an old battered wood table, six chairs and a small wooden shelf that holds a keg and collection of dirty mugs. The ladder from upstairs seems to be the only way in or out of the eastern room.

<DM> The center room of the gatehouse is completely bare, aside from dust and cobwebs in the corners.

<Puella> After a moment's hesitation, she turns and makes her way back across the castle yard.

<Puella> She looks up to mark the position of the guards patrolling the walls before reporting back.

<DM> She spots a point of light moving steadily along the eastern wall, heading clockwise.


<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glances around the kitchen, for something to snack on. "You should try the cookies."

<Lucavi> "Perhaps when the business is over. I had a bowl of stew, it was filling."

<Gaerlan> "You're one of those knights."

<Lucavi> "Which kind?"

<Gaerlan> "The kind that believe a spartan lifestyle is somehow superior."

<Lucavi> "Not at all. I simply prefer meat to sweet."

<Gaerlan> "Indeed? I would have placed you among the ascetics."

<Lucavi> "There is a place for finery."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan takes on a false tone, "I am closer to godliness for my abstinence." He smiles, "A bunch of fools. Let them live on the streets clawing for that bread and see if they still believe it makes the holy. My guess: it makes them thieves."

<Lucavi> "Or bakers of bread."

<Lucavi> "The strong have a duty to provide for the weak."

<Gaerlan> "You believe that?"

<Lucavi> "I do. Those who are strong must provide sustanance, protection, order, rule..."

<Puella> Puella ducks back into the kitchen at this moment.

<Puella> "I went to the gatehouse. I could not see the guards from inside, the room was empty." she reports. "There were slits in the wall and holes in the roof, but I noticed nothing else.

<Gaerlan> "Above perhaps - maybe playing cards."

<Puella> "The guards on the walls were on this side, moving that way," she illustrates with gestures, and continues "There are dogs on the grounds, they could smell me, but the guards did not seem to heed them."

<Puella> "I looked around, and I think if we waited for those guards to pass, there is a way to get to the Warden's tower around the back without being seen, if you chose." she finishes.

<Gaerlan> "That might be the wiser choice if we can't take the guards unaware. I'd rather catch the wizard by suprise."

<Puella> Puella nods, glancing to Lucavi's prisoners. "You are servants, perhaps you know his habits. Does he sleep through the night, or wake and call on your service at odd hours?"

<DM> "We... we bring his meals to him at regular times, miss. Other than that, we leave him be. We don't want turned into toads for disturbing him!"

<Lucavi> "Fear not, his time of wasteful mastery over you is coming to an end."

<Puella> Puella nods. "The smaller towers also have doors at the base." she amends her earlier report. "We might reach the walls that way and so come on the patrol."

<Gaerlan> "The patrol then first?"

<Lucavi> Lucavi nods.

<Gaerlan> "The barking dogs could be to our advantage in that regard - covering the sound of any scuffle."

<Puella> Puella cracks the servant's door open again and slips out (this time without a light), watching until the patrol's light passes out of sight. When she is confident that the guards patrolling the wall have moved around to the western side of the castle, she leads the group out.

<DM> This is a small vegetable and herb garden tended by the servants who work in the kitchens of the Great Hall. There are many days’ provisions here if one takes time to harvest it. One bush is curiously set aside from the rest...

<Puella> Puella notes this, to inspect further later.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan makes note of the garden as he is led by the woman.

<Puella> She heads for the tower immediately south, out of view of both the gatehouse and the western wall.

<Puella> She tries the door to see if it is locked.

<DM> It is not.

<Puella> She swiftly moves within, closing the door again once the rest of the party is inside.

<DM> Grumblejack finds it a rather tight fit, but complies with her wishes. Inside, a spiral staircase leads up to a rickety wooden landing that accesses the battlements atop the walls and further up to the crenellated and roofed stone turret. A trap door is set into the floor.

<Puella> She leads them up to the upper level. "We might await here for them to come around again.

<Lucavi> Lucavi takes the lead, that any guards see him first. His appearance at least has the possibility of belonging here.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan nods, "Catch them in a confined space where his," he nods to Grumblejack, "reach should be murder."

<Puella> She nods, and slides the bullseye lantern shut, settling in to wait patiently for the sounds of the approach.

<DM> Grumblejack looks at the stairs and platform uncertainly.

<Puella> The tower is cloaked in sudden darkness.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan takes a spot against the wall from the direction the guards will approach, his blade at the ready.

<DM> He has some trouble getting up the staircase, and it creaks alarmingly under his weight. You can all feel the rickety floor start to buckle as soon as the ogre puts a foot on it, and he pauses with a scowl.

<Puella> "Can you reach?"

<DM> "If I'se don't fall."

<Puella> "I mean, can you reach a man up here from the ground?"

<DM> "Hrm. Maybe."

<Puella> "See if you can. Maybe with those chains. If the stairs went, that would be very loud."

<DM> "Loud and hurty. Hate splinters." He wastes no time getting back down.

<DM> And even as he does, you can hear the guards approaching, talking in quiet voices as they patrol.

<Lucavi> Lucavi strides up the stairs without making undue noise.

<Puella> Puella nods and falls silent again, her breathing barely audible in the dark. She readies a charm from her spot on the top floor.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan waits just inside the tower, hopefully out of sight until the guards enter.

<DM> As soon as they pass the threshold and spot you, their eyes go wide. Wider still, when Grumblejack's long arm reaches up and grabs one of them by the ankle, yanking him down to the floor.

<Puella> Puella's magic assaults the other.

<DM> He succumbs to her unholy power.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan smiles and drives his blade into the grappled guard.

<Gaerlan> Or at least tries to.

<DM> It skitters off his armor.

<Lucavi> Lucavi gently pushes his sword through the sleeping guard's throat.

<DM> His blood soaks into the rickety wooden platform. And Lucavi's and Gaerlan's clothes, with the way it spurts out, seemingly with more force than the sword entered.

<DM> The guard screams as Grumblejack beats him against the walls with a sadistic grin.

<DM> His struggles to break free are futile.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan's eyes go wide at the noise level, "Die already." He tries for the guard's blood again.

<Puella> She turns her focus to the other even as Gaerlan moves.

<DM> It really shouldn't be possible for someone to fall asleep while being battered about by an angry ogre. However, what is magic if not one doing the impossible?

<Puella> She relaxes as the guard goes limp.

<Lucavi> Lucavi observes the scene from above, dispassionately, ready to arch his eyebrow if needed.

<DM> And limp he shall remain, dear readers, as Gaerlan stabs his chest, and the ogre breaks his neck.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glares at the ogre as the man's blood rains down, "Quiet was the word." He hisses.

<Puella> "The gatehouse is not close. But we will soon know if they heard."

<Puella> She listens for the sound of a horn.

<DM> "Quiet till we caught 'em. He was caught, and I had no fun since you little 'uns locked me up in here."

<DM> He holds the guard's corpse over his head and squeezes blood into his mouth.

<Gaerlan> "All we need is someone to look out and see the guards no longer patrolling."

<Lucavi> "Those little ones, Friend Grumblejack. These little ones set you free."

<Puella> Puella shakes her head to Gaerlan.

<Lucavi> Lucavi searches his victim.

<DM> "Hmph. Let's go smash 'em quick then."

<Gaerlan> "Try for the wizard?"

<Puella> "The hall is between here and the gatehouse, and the wall past here cannot be seen from there." she corrects softly. "That is why I chose this spot. We have some time before they would be in view again."

<Gaerlan> "And yet in time it will be clear the light is no longer moving around."

<Puella> She nods.

<Lucavi> Lucavi nods his appreciation for Puella's wisdom. "It is no matter, Gaerlan. We are for ending them all regardless."

<Gaerlan> "Let us get to it then. Warden?" He gestures to the close tower.

<Puella> "If you wished to play for time... perhaps in a moment, one of you could go out a few steps and then let them see you 'drop' the light into the courtyard. They could never tell it was not the patrol at this distance. So, they would expect a little longer delay for the patrol to find it and light it again?"

<Puella> "I did hear that some of these men drink on duty."

<Puella> In any case, while the men decide, Puella moves to scout whether there is an entry to the warden's tower from the walls.

<Gaerlan> "I'd rather trust in their carelessness then than our own and simply move along. With the Warden removed I am confident we can mop them up."

<DM> If anyone happens to look over the battlements, they see that the walls are sixty feet up over jagged rocks. The guard towers add another twenty feet to that height. Jumping from here is suicide... even without the riptides.

<DM> Unfortunately for our villains, Puella finds that there is no way into the warden's tower from the top of the walls, only a narrow bridge skirting around it. There may have been once, but if so, it was bricked up. She does spot a faint light from the window in the highest floor.

<Puella> She returns swiftly. "The only entrance is down and around."

<Lucavi> "Then let us be about it."

<Puella> Puella duly sets about it, skirting the back of the hall so as to remain out of view from the gatehouse the whole time.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan follows behind.

<DM> Grumblejack brings up the rear, seemingly more cheerful for having killed someone.

<Puella> Just in case it might gain a moment's confusion, she makes sure to adjust her clothing to hide the dagger before trying the door.

<Lucavi> "Shul-me, sil-ule, guide me from this place," Lucavi intones low, under his breath.

<Puella> Finding it unlocked, she glances at her companions to ensure they are ready before opening it.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan stands ready.

<Puella> The witch shivers slightly as a momentary cold breeze accompanies Lucavi's words.

<DM> This entire floor is dedicated to the history of the Castle Branding and the subsequent history that led the castle to become Branderscar Prison. It consists of a series of mostly uninteresting plaques that tell of nobles and deeds hardly anyone remembers anymore.

<DM> There are a number of banners and flags. One of the wall hangings is an old brocade tapestry that depicts Castle Branding being turned into a prison with the motto "His Judgment Cometh and that Right Soon." There is a spiral stairway leading up to the second level. This room is lit by four sconces holding torches.

<Puella> "Wait at the foot of the stairs till we call for you, please, Grumblejack." Puella whispers to the ogre as she closes the door again. "I doubt you would be quiet coming up them." She moves stealthily up herself.

<DM> On the next floor, Pella finds another large, open room with every wall covered in book shelves. There is no one present.

<DM> The shelves, however, are full to bursting.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan moves up behind the priestess, leaving space for her to work.

<Lucavi> Lucavi brings up the rear.

<Puella> She glances around, eyes searching for one thing in particular, biting her lip.

<DM> The object of her search is not readily apparent. Only books.

<Puella> Not finding what she seeks, she continues upwards.

<DM> Most of them look to be fairly cheap printing, others may have some value.

<DM> The spiral staircase up ends here at a stone landing. The stairway once continued up to the roof of this tower but now the roof is closed off. This chamber is lit by a single torch on a sconce. To the north is a door bearing a plaque that reads "Office." The southern door has a similar plaque that reads "Private: Keep Out!" It is otherwise empty.

<Puella> Puella lays a finger to her lips, moves over to the southern door, and, when she is confident her companions are ready, opens it.

<DM> It is locked.

<Puella> She reaches for her tools.

<Puella> She freezes in alarm as the lock squeaks under her touch.

<Puella> After a long moment, if there is no noise, she tries again.

<DM> This is the warden’s well-appointed private bed chambers. There is a fine four poster bed, a full length mirror and an oaken wardrobe. Though the furniture here is of high quality, there is no easy way to get it out. Sitting at a desk is a tall, thin old man with lank white hair, a wrinkled face, a patch over one eye, and a monocle on the other. A snowy white owl sits on a perch beside the desk.

<DM> Image

<DM> The old man looks up as our villains enter. "What are you do... the prisoners! I don't know how you escaped, but you're going right back in your cells!" His hands begin to move in arcane gestures.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan jumps past his fellow knight, moving in on the old man. "I think I'd rather sew your fingers together. How about that?" He closes in on the wizard.

<Gaerlan> There is a surge of malevolence from the young man as he draws close.

<Lucavi> Lucavi charges the man silently, leaping into the air and bringing his weapon savagely down upon the warden's skull.

<DM> Matthias is well-clouted, but his wits are still about him.

<Lucavi> "You have been found wanting in the discharge of your duties, Warden."

<Puella> Puella steps into view, focusing her will upon the other, and rather than beginning to fade the pain of that wound intensifies, threatening to push the frail man over the edge into oblivion.

<DM> "How did you all get past Tomas?"

<DM> Her charm finds no hold on a will trained in the arcane.

<Lucavi> "Your embezzling sergeant is no more."

<DM> "Embe... you besmirch the name of one of Mitra's servants, as well as murdering him? You have hastened your executions, fiend!" He backs out of the reach of the two, and finishes his spell, conjuring a ball of fire at Lucavi's feet.

<Lucavi> "It has been long since any honor resided here. I will be restoring it this eve."

<DM> The owl flutters off her perch, flying around her master's head.

<Gaerlan> "That will be enough of that." Lacking his companion's resistance to flame Gaerlan tries to stiffle the wizard's casting.

<Lucavi> "The flames of the unworthy have no hold upon the free man."

<DM> He grabs the warden's robe and pulls him into a hold.

<Lucavi> Lucavi belts the wizard over his skull again.

<Puella> "I think I smelled whiskey on his breath, before he fell to my lord's power, and so died in his sleep." Puella adds softly. "Not like you."

<DM> The warden is knocked unconscious, though his flaming sphere continues to burn.

<Lucavi> Dropping his club, the knight slashes at the owl.

<DM> Blood and feathers fly, but the bird remains in the air.

<Lucavi> He moves out of the flames, though they barely singe his hair.

<Lucavi> "End the bird."

<Puella> Puella shifts her focus to the tiny flying reptilian-descended menace.

<DM> She drops (it being a female owl, dear readers. Puella naturally does not fall prey to her own attack).

<Lucavi> "Gag him." Lucavi steps on the bird's neck, breaking it.

<Puella> Puella nods and moves to do as bidden.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan smirks and drops the warden to the ground.

<Puella> She glances sharply around the wizard's study, though.

<Lucavi> "Search out your mask," Lucavi commands. "How best to prevent his fingers from making the proper gestures?" he asks.

<Gaerlan> "I told you already."

<Puella> Puella eagerly moves to find that which she seeks once the warden is restrained.

<Gaerlan> "Sew them together. We simply need the needle and thread. Then, once he's told us whatever he has to tell, we can sew up his lips and burn him alive."

<Puella> She ventures into the second room on the floor if it does not appear in the study.

<Lucavi> "I have no patience for needlework." Lucavi takes a dagger and begins severing the man's fingers.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan moves to stop him. "It is about sending a message."

<Lucavi> "Puella, once you have located your mask, we may need you to keep this one alive." He considers Gaerlan for a moment.

<DM> Once Puella negotiates the lock of the office, she finds it tastefully adorned in hard wood, and dominated by a massive oak desk.

<Gaerlan> "Severed fingers they have seen. Skinned. I would give them an image to burn into their mind for a generation."

<Lucavi> Lucavi sighs. "As you will. Find your thread before he comes to."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan gives a nod and a short bow, moving to explore the room in search of a needle and thread.

<Puella> Puella moves around, trying various drawers for locks.

<Gaerlan> He sets aside anything that appears valuable or important.

<DM> When she checks the desk, she finds a neatly folded map of the surrounding area. The map shows the quickest route through the moors, and the nearby town; a substantial place, with strong walls. There is one drawer that is locked.

<DM> Gaerlan does indeed find a needle and thread in the wardrobe.

<Puella> Mindful of a previous revelation, she tries Blackerly's keys before resorting to her picks.

<Gaerlan> He settles down with the old man, placing him on the bed and getting to work with the needle and his clumsy fingers.

<DM> None of the keys fit this drawer. It seems the wizard was more careful about whatever was in here than with his privacy.

<DM> However, her fingers are far more nimble than her companion's, dear readers, and she has it open in short order. Inside, she finds two objects of value.

<DM> The first is a beautiful book is made of fine cerulean leather embossed with gold leaf. Its edges are reinforced with brass fittings and strange arcane symbols adorn its covered. It bears the draconic rune of "R" in the center of its front cover.

<DM> Image

<DM> And below that...

<Puella> "Oh!" Long-repressed fear and apprehension come out of the witch in a great gasp.

<Lucavi> "La...Puella?" Lucavi calls.

<Gaerlan> Fingers to fingers, thumb to hand, then palm to palm. Gaerlan works quickly and without particular care - more interested in the final result than in neat needlework. He smiles at the end result.

<Puella> She picks up that which lies within, cradling it to her breast for a moment in relief, before Lucavi's call brings her back. "I... yes. I'm coming."

<DM> The wizard's blood flows freely, and he moans in pain, but remains unconscious.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan checks' Puella's gag at the noise, making sure it stiffles the wizard completely.

<Lucavi> Lucavi strides to meet her. "I merely wished to make sure everything is alright."

<Puella> The woman who he sees at the door... is now complete. At a distance seeming smooth, Lucavi can see as she comes to meet him that every mark... every scar and wound and brand that her face lacked before is crafted in careful detail. Puella's face looks up at him in ivory, her eyes dark.

<Puella> "Everything is all right, Lucavi... Thank you." her reply comes.

<Lucavi> He smiles at the sight. "Good. Have your priorities changed with this recovery?"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan sees to the rest of the room while Puella and Lucavi 'bond'.

<Puella> "Only that we have done one of the greatest." She turns her face towards the warden's rooms. "You wished him kept alive."

<Lucavi> "I wish to learn what he knows before he leaves this world."

<Puella> Puella nods, and moves to do his bidding. A simple charm stymies the flow of blood.

<DM> When Gaerlan checks the room, he finds five noble outfits inside the wardrobe. This collection of noble finery is mostly elegant silk robes and could fit most anyone. There is also a sturdy oak chest pushed into one corner of the Warden’s private chambers. Inside is a well packed alchemist’s lab.

<Puella> She then turns to Lucavi. "Were you hurt by the fire? It does not seem so."

<Lucavi> "A minor singe, nothing to be concerned with. Pain clears the head."

<Puella> The mask inclines, and returns. "And yet I saw you full within the flames. Is that the blessing given to a free man?"

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan piles the scrolls, potion, blade, ring, and obviously enchanted item on the desk.

<Lucavi> "It is. Freedom from flame and chill. All who walk the path can achieve such blessings."

<DM> A closer inspection of the desk reveals his personal journal. The warden's name is Matthias Richter, and he was not particularly enthused about his job here, a relative having manuevered him into the assignment mainly to boost the family's prestige. He left the running of the prison entirely in Blackerly's hands. The last entry concerns the arrival of four seemingly ordinary prisoners.

<Puella> "Then I must help you walk that path, if you will have help. I know not what... but I know that so much lies ahead, beyond these walls."

<DM> Beyond that, mostly scribbles of arcane theory and what seem to be several abortive attempts at writing a novel.

<Gaerlan> He pockets the journal and novel attempts, then peeks his head into the hall, "There is some fine clothing the lady may enjoy. Potions, scrolls, a ring. Some other finery. I left it out."

<Gaerlan> With that Gaerlan moves down to examine the library.

<Lucavi> Lucavi nods at Puella. "Every knight must have a lady fair."

<DM> This is the warden’s pride and joy - a large collection of books and scrolls across a wide range of subjects. The most common items in the library are the "penny dreadfuls". These poorly printed compilations of lurid tales range across the whole gamut of adventure genres. However, the one genre over-represented is bawdy tales featuring amply endowed young maidens in grave peril.

<DM> In the more scholarly section, there are fifty five books on subjects ranging from magical theory, history and astronomy. Fifty two of these are common books and tomes worth an average of 3 gp and each weighing a pound. However, there are three that stand out as more interesting and potentially valuable.

<DM> "Astra Mysterii," a rare treatise on astrology written by the mad monk Clivarus.

<DM> "The Travels of Titus the Mendicant" by Artus Vellor.

<DM> "The Floralegium," by Branthus Hart. An imposing tome of no small age, this beautifully illustrated book of flowers is obviously something special.

<Puella> Puella looks down suddenly, but the mask hides any emotion.

<Lucavi> Lucavi smiles. "You are like the sparrow. Small, unassuming, harmless...until it kills the hawk."

<Puella> Puella seizes on this. "Will you tell me of hawks and sparrows?"

<Lucavi> "Do not be afraid of taking a title worthy of you. It is no wrong thing to name Puella a Lady. She is far more fine than many who have the title given."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan is careless with most of the works, "Garbage. Garbage. Trash. Who reads these things," but pauses at the more scholarly tomes. "Well then."

<Lucavi> Lucavi pauses. "Hawks and sparrows? What would you know of them?"

<Gaerlan> He gathers the three most interesting and leaves the remainder scattered around the room - largely on the floor after having been thrown over his shoulder.

<Puella> Puella hesitates, unsure of how to react to Lucavi's earlier words, and evidently after a moment chooses to pursue the other line. "I have not seen such creatures." she admits.

<Lucavi> Lucavi opens his mouth, closes it, and considers. "A sparrow is a tiny bird. A hawk is larger, a predator, perhaps slightly smaller than the owl," he gestures to the fallen familiar, "but no less fierce."

<Lucavi> "However, sparrows are known to fly fearlessly at hawks to protect their young. The larger bird is often driven into retreat against them, so fierce are their attacks."

<Puella> There is a moment's silence, and then Puella's voice comes from behind the mask. "Then I will be fierce for you."

<Lucavi> "I must say, I would know more of your Lord, some time, when there is a lesser, or farther off doom hanging over our heads."

<Puella> Again the mask inclines and rises. "You shall know all that I can tell." Puella looks around the room as Lucavi speaks of doom, and, taking the reminder, moves to gather up those things that the party will take, in preparation for leaving.

<Lucavi> Lucavi pauses on his way out, picks up one of the discarded books, and tucks it into his belt for later.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan carries the warden for now.

<Lucavi> "Leave him for the moment. We need to take the rest of the guards on the wall, and gatehouse."

<Puella> Puella moves to give the ground floor of the tower a second check once the party returns down the stairs.

<DM> She thinks the tapestry is probably worth something, but it's heavy, and would be extremely awkward to carry.

<Lucavi> "Roll it up," Lucavi commands. "He can burn in his flag."

<Puella> Puella quickly complies.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan sets the warden down and moves to cut down the tapastry with Puella.

<DM> They quickly get the old and valuable tapestry down to burn, revealing...

<DM> completely bare stone walls behind it.

<Puella> Once the tapestry is secured and the team ready to depart, Puella leads the way outside.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan follows behind, "Lets leave him with the elf."

<Puella> Puella nods, and helps move warden and tapestry both back into the main hall.

<Gaerlan> Smiling at the captives, Gaerlan heads back out into the darkness.

<Lucavi> Lucavi pauses. "Everything ok, Irena?"

<DM> When they arrive, the servants gape at the sight of the mysterious wizard defeated, with all the horrible criminals still alive. Irena bursts into tears when she sees his mutilated hands.

<DM> "No... no! Nothing will ever be okay again!" Perhaps, dear readers, Irena has a bit of gift for prophecy?

<Lucavi> "Weep not for this one. His disinterested and apathetic ways are coming to an end."

<Lucavi> "You shall serve a more attentive master now."

<DM> She only sobs harder at the implication, remembering the way he looked at her in the bedroom.

<DM> Gregor tries to comfort her, but is in little better state himself.

<Lucavi> Lucavi stares at the two of them for a moment. Whether it is compassion or annoyance that flickers across his scarred face is not clear.

<Puella> Puella waits by the door, her scarred mask betraying neither comfort nor sympathy.

<DM> Damodred is holding Blackerly's severed head, now in a large jar with some sort of liquid, and smirking.

<Lucavi> Lucavi moves to leave with the others, sparing a single piercing glance backwards towards Irena as he exits the door.

<DM> She shrinks away fromhis piercing gaze.

<Puella> Puella vanishes after him into the night.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan lets Puella take the lead, as she knows the ground.

<Puella> She leads the way through the courtyard, moving by moonlight now and quickly.

<DM> Once again, the dogs raise an infernal racket.

<Puella> A whispered consultation ensues as a new plan is quickly devised.

<Lucavi> Lucavi briefly outlines Grumblejack's role in the killing to come.

<DM> "Hmph. Be quiet, be loud, youse needs ta make up yer minds."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glares at the ogre.

<Puella> "You understand which it is now?"

<DM> "Yeah. I'se just sayin'."

<DM> When all is in readiness, Grumblejack bursts out of the main doors of the great hall with a roar, and Damodred blows the captured signal horn. "Raaaaaagh! Come get some!"

<Lucavi> "The ogre is loose! Help! Get him before he kills her!"

<Puella> Puella screams.

<DM> The dogs have not stopped barking the entire time.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan waits, just out of sight, lest his armor give him away.

<Puella> Puella starts to flee away from the ogre and towards one of the towers, though she stumbles in the dark.

<DM> A beam of light stabs down from the top of the guardhouse, playing about the courtyard for a moment, then finding Grumblejack. Keen ears might hear a startled oath from above.

<DM> The ogre dodges out of the light, chasing Puella.

<Puella> With a choked cry, the servant girl ducks under an outstretched ogre arm at the edge of the light and flees desperately.

<Lucavi> The rest of the party enact the plan, despite Lucavi's poor acting.

<DM> As the go on, he chuckles. "Dis be fun when dey catch up, won't it, Bone-Face?" He gives the nickname a somehow reverent air.

<Puella> Eventually the fleeing servant, ogre and pursuing guard round the back of Branderscar. Puella takes barely a moment to catch her breath, nodding to the ogre as she turns at the ready.

<DM> "Set the dogs on him!"

<Lucavi> "He'll kill them just as quick as he killed Vicks and Wedge! We need manpower!"

<Puella> She comes back around, running desperately.

<DM> One guard continues dashing forward, sword in one hand and lantern in the other, going to fast to do more than glance at the man in the Sergeant's chain mail... only to catch a sword thrust that nearly spills his guts. "Hey!"

<Puella> "Now." she whispers to the ogre as she passes.

<DM> The other opens the bar on the kennel, and chases after the dogs as they race towards the fray.

<DM> Grumblejack gleefully dashes towards the battle, swinging a hammer-fist down on the same guard's skill.

<DM> And leaving only a crater in the ground as he misses.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan swaps from his two handed blows to a more iconic sword and shield as the dogs bear down on him. He moves after the guard, trying to pick off the wounded man.

<DM> He succeeds, bringing the man down, his lantern throwing ghastly shadows against the walls.

<Lucavi> Lucavi charges, the black of night offering no concealment to the knight of dark.

<DM> In the blackness, the guard fails to raise his shield in time, taking a gash to the forehead. Blood spills into his eyes, leaving him even more blind.

<Puella> The servant rushes to try to aid the beleaguered guard... till she turns to face the wounded man, her ivory mask gleaming in the full light of the torch. "Kneel before him."

<@WarDragon> He passes out from the terror.

<@WarDragon> The dogs snarl and snap at the man who hurt their human packmate. One squirms around Gaerlan, deftly avoiding his defensive swing, and they bite at his legs from both sides.

<@WarDragon> However, the blackguard's stolen armor and skill at arms keep the hounds barely at bay.

<@WarDragon> Grumblejack takes advantage of their focus to smash one of them, his fist pounding into its ribs with an audible crack.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan turns on the wounded dog like a predator singling out weak prey. His blade lashes out.

<@WarDragon> He cuts the cur's head clean off.

<Lucavi> Lucavi pulls his sword through the guard's neck.

<@WarDragon> The man's spine is severed. Even though the dark knight did not aim for the jugular, dear readers, he is spattered with blood all the same.

<Puella> Puella calls upon her magic to aid Gaerlan next, rounding on the final foe.

<@WarDragon> The brave dog, last defender of Branderscar, collapses into sleep. We may hope that it dreams of smelly things and easily-caught rabbits in the few seconds before Grumblejack stomps its skull flat.

<Lucavi> Lucavi gestures at Grumblejack. "Hold, friend."

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan glares once more at the ogre.

<@WarDragon> He growls, his foot poised just above the dog. "Now what?"

<Gaerlan> "I like dogs.

<@WarDragon> "Me too. They's good eatin'."

<Lucavi> "I would train this hound."

<Puella> The charm swiftly begins to lose its strength. Puella watches.

<@WarDragon> The dog struggles back into consciousness, snarling at the strange foes surrounding it.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan sheathes his blade and delivers a blow to the dog with his mailed fist.

<Puella> "If the last guards are coming to us, perhaps we can catch them in the gate room." Puella suggests. "If they did not hear, shall we now go to them?"

<Lucavi> Lucavi nods.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan quietly agrees.

<DM> And with that blow, our villains may feel a slight sense of triumph, before moving on to their next conquest, dear readers. However briefly, Branderscar is theirs.

<Puella> Coming upon the prison's gatehouse - their gatehouse - Puella slips into the side room, taking up a position by one of the arrow slits.

<Puella> She waits long enough to assure herself the final guards are not coming before giving up her watch.

<DM> One guard does come looking for the source of the noise they heard, leaving the other to watch their post.

<Puella> She signals the others to wait by the interior door, ready to drop him when he opens it.

<Puella> When he does so, the man is in for a very unpleasant surprise.

<DM> He opens the door, and barely has time to realize what he's seeing when the masked witch's hex takes hold.

<Gaerlan> "Him you can kill." Gaerlan grins at the ogre.

<Puella> "Alas, poor man..." she murmurs as he collapses with a mix of shock and horror imprinted on his face.

<DM> Grumblejack quickly picks him up, and dashes his brains out against the castle walls, grinning and completely ignoring any attempts to gainsay him this fun.

<Puella> Her face hidden, there is no indication whether it is genuine or cruelly sarcastic.

<Lucavi> No such attempts are forthcoming. Lucavi strides down the bridge towards the last remaining guard.

<Puella> Puella sweeps along beside him.

<DM> The ogre lopes along with them.

<Gaerlan> Gaerlan follows lazily.

<DM> They approach the end of the bridge, and the last guard comes out. "That was fas... Mitra!"

<DM> He reaches for his horn as he backpeddles away from you, sending the dog to die in his stead...

<Puella> Puella strides forward, bidding the hound to sleep.

<DM> The dog collapses.

<DM> The last guard sends out a long blast of his horn as he turns to run.

<Puella> "Run him down." she calls to Grumblejack.

<DM> The worst criminals in the land are free, he thinks. Someone must be warned.

<DM> Fortunately for our villains, however, his mission is unlikely to succeed. Grumblejack charges after him and delivers a heavy blow.

<Lucavi> Lucavi, seeing Grumble having the matter in hand, watches dispassionately until the ogre has finished his work.

<Gaerlan> Too slow to run down the guard in his armor, Gaerlan instead advances on the dog and delivers an unarmed blow to keep it out.

<Puella> Puella directs her magic to bring Grumblejack's foe low, as before... but not into sleep. This one will die with his eyes open.

<DM> The guard, dazed by Puella's magic, his feet stumbling, his head spinning, proves easy meat. Grumblejack takes gruesome revenge on the last of his tormentors, picking him up by the legs, and pulling him apart like a wishbone.

<Puella> As the final guard falls, Puella turns back to look at her companions... and what is now, from foundation to highest parapet... at least for a moment... their fortress.

<Puella> The Ivory Mask reveals nothing.

<Lucavi> Lucavi siezes the dog up by the scruff of its neck, and waits for Puella to precede him back to the fort. He gives a look of understanding as she looks upon him.

<Puella> Shadowed eye-holes linger on him, and on Gaerlan as well, before she turns to Grumblejack. "Come. Let us finish this place."

<DM> "Heh. Youse guys is alright for little'uns," Grumblejack pronounces, with the air of someone making a decision.

<DM> More than alright, Dear Readers! This dastardly band has become the first to escape from Branderscar prison since its founding. Not merely escape it, but to wipe out its guards to a man, and make its resources their own! And to think, this is but the first step on their path of villainy! What dire deeds lay in the future? Join us next time, as they take their next step along the Way of the Wicked!


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 Post subject: Re: Way of the Wicked sessions
PostPosted: Thu Jul 31, 2014 7:58 pm 
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Last time, our villains completed their conquest of Branderscar prison, and decided to take a rest from their mighty labor before moving on to the next stage of establishing their power. The two servants, Gregor and Irena, have been thoroughly cowed, and the warden ironically made a prisoner himself. Now, dawn, and the replacement shift of guards and servants that Irena warned Puella and Lucavi of, is quickly approaching. Will they continue their unbroken string of triumph, and escape before suspicion is roused? Or will this be the end of their dark journey? Read on, and find out!

Image

Puella welcomes Lucavi and Gaerlan to the guardhouse, setting aside the book she had been reading by candlelight. The three villains quickly gather to work out a plan...

Lucavi nods to Gaerlan to wave the morning crew through.

Gaerlan watchs the men approach and offers a smile when they close in.

Puella steps into the back room, waiting against the wall and just out of sight.

The group of five approaches, talking and laughing among themselves, unarmed and unarmored, ready to start their days at Branderscar's unbroken route. The one in front waves to Gaerlan. "Morning, friend!" He stops and takes a closer look. "I don't think I've seen you two around here before... where'd you get all those scars?," he asks Lucavi.

"Morning. Welcome back. Must have been nice to get out for a little while." Gaerlan responds.

"My parents did not spare the rod, lest they spoiled the child," Lucavi replies.

"You'll get to go home in a couple days if you just started." He nods sympathetically back to Lucavi. "Must have been rough."

"Anything happen last night? I heard we got some new prisoners in," another of the men pipes up.

"A couple of would be knights. Some weird elf, and a cultist." Gaerlan shrugs, "You know how it goes."

"What's the world coming to, when knights betray their king and country?"

"Dangerous. You should be careful with them."

"Will do. Well, we should probably report to the Sergeant. I'm sure that fat *******'s up by now. Never known a man to sleep as little as him."

"Be careful, he lost a lot last night."

"Really? Somebody switch his cards out?" They all laugh, the two in back looking a bit uncomfortable.

Gaerlan shrugs, "I guess. Better not to dally though."

"Right you are, friend. See you around, and welcome to Branderscar."

"Thanks." Gaerlan gives a somewhat eager smile.

The morning shift starts heading down the bridge.

As they leave, Puella slips into the room with the other men. She waits for one of them to give the signal.

Gaerlan nods to Lucavi and opens the door.

Lucavi heads out the door at a light jog. He picks up speed, faster and faster until he barrels into the rear guard at top speed, hoping to knock him off the bridge.

The totally unsuspecting guard takes Lucavi's shoulder in the middle of his back, and falls from the bridge with a scream.

The others turn around, shocked. "You *******! What the hell's wrong with you?!" The remaining guards immedately take swings at him.

Lucavi retaliates by plunging his fingernails into the man's eyes.

One lands a solid punch to the dark knight's stomach, hurting even through the stolen chainmail. (2 nonlethal) The other is too distracted by having his eyes gouged.

"I warned you."

"You should have been careful."

The two servants run to the side of the bridge, looking down for the falling man. "He's still alive! Myrtle, run and get a rope!"

"Oh gods, you're...!"

Gaerlan moves in behind Lucavi, his blade low, "You have no idea how disappointing this has all been."

The woman runs towards the castle gate, while the male servant remains to aid the guards.

His blade slices through the unarmored man's stomach with sickening ease (or at least it would be sickening if his killer had any sense of empathy for fellow man). Already screaming in pain from his blinded eyes, he tries in vain to hold his intestines in for a second before losing consciousness.

Lucavi looks at the fleeing female servant. He'll have to move fast if he's going to add to his servants, Grumblejack will make short work of her.

"You will find it barred, and behind it, the ogre, in case you broke through." Puella calls as the servants flee. She steps into view and focuses her power on the final guard.

And focus it well she does, dear readers. He collapses.

"Do you see ogrillions when you sleep?" Lucavi whispers.

If the guard were awake enough to answer, it is doubtful he would know what an ogrillion is, dear readers.

(Making it unlikely he will sate Lucavi's own curiosity on the subject)

"Shall they have quarter, as before?" she inquires of her companions as the guard falls, glancing at the servants.

Lucavi nods. "Fall on your knees and pledge yourselves to my service, and I shall be merciful. Delay, and I will force you to watch unspeakable horrors perpetrated upon your companion."

Lucavi seizes the guard by the neck and places him in a wrenching hold. His nails touch the man's jugular.

He starts awake at the rough treatment, and begins to struggle free. He doesn't entirely break away from the evil knight's iron hold, but is no longer totally bound in Lucavi's grip.

Far below, the guard pushed off the bridge struggles in vain against the incoming tide to keep from being dashed against the rocks.

"You have a chance to become an example to these, who you are to protect."

Myrtle, hearing Puella's words, stops in her tracks, caught between two evils. Sam glances at the guard, and with a hasty apology, dashes for freedom.

"Do you wish that example to be one of the futility of struggle, or the reward of obeisance?"

Puella's mace proves no barrier to his escape.

"I'll take... the reward of king's gold for putting you back in your cell!"

"Subdue him, please. I want to make an example of his foolishness."

Gaerlan moves after the coward as he flees, his blade driving at the man's back.

Lucavi looks somewhat nonplussed as Gaerlan runs away, heeding neither his choice of target nor means of attack.

Gaerlan misses Sam's back dear readers... he hits the neck, taking off the poor peasant's head with a single, mighty blow. Gaerlan and the ground for several feet around are showered with a spurt of blood that slowly trickles to nothing.

Another mental bludgeon falls upon the struggling guard as Puella turns her gaze from the escaping Sam back upon him.

"Anyone else feel like running?" Gaerlan calls, smile on his face.

His eyes turn glassy, and his grip on Lucavi's wrist loosens, though he continues struggling faintly.

"He is subdued. For a moment."

Lucavi looks dispassionately at the spray of gore. He sighs, and tightens his grip on the guard.

He presses the man's own arms against his throat, slowly choking him, though the guard fights on.

Puella's curse prevents him from struggling to win his freedom, however.

Below, the guard who was knocked off finally begins making serious headway against the current, struggling towards the mainland.

Myrtle stares in horror at Sam and the guard's deaths, and makes no move.

Gaerlan picks up Sam's severed head, and moves over towards the area where the guard is close to reaching the shorline. "Surrender or meet his fate."

The guard glances up at hearing the shout, and swallows a mouthful of seawater when he gasps at the sight of his friend's head.

Puella moves forward, ready to aid Lucavi.

Lucavi lets the guard go. "It seems necessity will force me to deal with you more swiftly than I wished. Pray that it is final." He plunges his fingers towards the man's stomach, seeking to spill his intestines.

Spill, dear readers, is not quite so much the word as pull. A few feet of grayish flesh are looped out of his skin, and the guard passes out.

"If he is not dead, see that he does not escape to that grey realm," Lucavi commands as he moves to aid Gaerlan with the last resistance.

In his shock, the swimming guard loses ground, barely managing to keep his head above water. Myrtle, looking wild-eyed, slowly begins to approach the combatants, hands raised.

Puella nods, kneeling for a moment to tend to the bleeding guard. It is quick work to return the man's stomach to the barest semblance of its rightful state - nor does she trouble to do any more - and seal the bleeding with a charm.

She rises and moves to corral Myrtle.

The girl's eyes grow wilder still. "St... stay back."

"Do you surrender, or do you die?" Lucavi asks, drawing his bow and aiming it at the waters. If he does not hear an answer in the affirmative, he lets fly a shaft.

"I... I don't..." Apparently that is all Lucavi needs to hear, dear readers, for the arrow flies.

It takes him in the shoulder, severely hampering his swimming efforts. A particularly strong wave swamps him, and he does not resurface.

Lucavi waits, scanning the waters for evidence that his prey has been taken.

Myrtle, seeing this lack of mercy, is jolted from her trance, and makes a run for it.

"Throw her to the rocks," Lucavi commands coldly.

"She might also serve as an example." Puella suggests.

"I had not thought the two were mutually exclusive."

Gaerlan drops severed head and approaches the woman, "It would appear you are on my companions bad side. Surrender however and you will not meet that fate. None who have surrendered to us has been harmed. You may ask Irena yourself." His innocent face belies the bloody sword in his hand.

"I grow impatient with these fools and their screaming, and their fleeing and their feeble proclamations."

And the blood splashed all over said innocent face, and the clothing beneath it.

"Go ahead and throw yourself to my companion for his protection, or defy us again and I will wash your face with acid until it has a more pleasing appearance to me. One less...defiant."

"Puella, can you save the blinded guard?" Gaerlan never turns from the woman before him as he asks.

She sucks in a horrified breath. "Alright, yes! I surrender!"

She holds up her hands and kneels.

Gaerlan lays a bloody hand upon her head, "Excellent."

A similar charm from Puella stanches the other guard's bleeding at Gaerlan's request.

The blood stops flowing from his ruined sockets and split stomach.

"Thank you, my darling." He cups the prisoner's chin, "Tell me, what is your name?"

"M... Myrtle."

She passes Gaerlan, glancing down at Myrtle. "More recalcitrant than the other." she murmurs in Infernal, to herself, as she sets to organizing the aftermath of the battle.

"Myrtle. Did you know these men well?"

She nods.

"The guards?" He gestures to the wounded and unconscious men.

Another nod.

"You shall know them better. For now we will carry them back to the castle, and you will walk in front of me, so no foolish thoughts of flight enter your mind."

"A, alright."

She struggles to move even a single man's weight.

Gaerlan gathers up the first man, "Lucavi, do you wish yours?"

"He has escaped my grasp," Lucavi responds, looking out over the waters one last time.

Puella helps Myrtle with the two non-escapees, that her first aid not be undone by clumsily reopening the patients' wounds while moving them. Should that happen indeed, she is ready with her charm.

All of the dead are moved inside.

Gaerlan carries one of the wounded men, keeping Myrtle in front of him, back into the castle grounds. "There is much to be done."

Once the wounded and dead are seen to, and Myrtle is sent off with the existing servants under the eye of Dam, Gaerlan seeks out Puella and Lucavi to make plans.

Grumblejack, unhappy about being left out of the fight, invites himself to the council of war.

Lucavi appears distant and distracted. He fixes speakers with an unwavering gaze as they talk.

Puella joins him, her mask still in place.

"It is not my intent to remain here and await the next party, nor is it my plan to flee on the road like some common criminal on the roads. There is a place for me, and for each of you if you wish. Across the moors, on the old road there is a house. Within it a patron waits two more nights for us. I cannot tell you exactly what awaits therein, but it is more than petty crime and a life on the run. If you would come, I would have you join me."

"Why?"

"The same who aided us before?"

"Because they requested your presence," He nods to Puella, "and have already aided you."

"Grumblejack too?"

"They will not object."

Lucavi looks at Puella, to see what way she chooses.

"Hmm..." He ruminates a moment, then nods. "yeah, youse guys is alright for little'uns, I'll stick wit you fer a while. Robbin' alone didn't do me no good. I you mean da big old house, I tink I knows where it is."

"It is my intent to collect what is worth collecting and carrying, to see to the Warden and make example of him, then secure the loyalty of my new servant before departing."

He nods to Grumble, "Excellent."

"I believe we must meet our benefactor."

Lucavi fixes the ogre with his stare. "Friend Grumble, when I said that I would set you free, I did not intend to bind you to my service. Yet you are choosing to do so now of your own free will. You know that no matter where I walk, things will not be merely 'robbin'?"

Puella produces the holy symbol of Asmodeus that was once within the veil. "Did you recognize this?"

Lucavi nods his head.

"Of course."

Grumblejack's face turns to a scowl. "I didn't say nothing about servin' Steel-Tail. Just goin' da same way. Youse maybe got a good thing goin, and I wants in. We'se made a deal, you helps me and I helps you. Dat ain't good enough, maybe we ain't goin da same way after all."

Lucavi nods absently at this. "As befits a free man."

Puella nods. "To me, it is not only a symbol of religion, it is a signal. It is not a tool, but its inclusion among our tools represents alliance."

"I'se free, but don't call me a 'man' again. Men's weak. ...most of 'em."

"Whatchoo talkin' bout? What's dat shiny?"

"It is the mark of the King of Hell."

"There is strength in wisdom, Friend Grumble. And it would not be wise for you to suggest I am weak. I freed you. I do not demand your obeisance, but nor shall I tolerate disrespect."

"I said 'most,' didn't I? Most ain't all."

At Puella's explanation, he nods, slowly. "King of Hell, huh? Big mojo, that. You his shaman, Bone-Face?"

Lucavi merely flares his nostrils slightly at Grumblejack's dissembling, but he does not speak further on the matter. He turns what remains of his attention to the discussion of the King of Hell.

"My master is a lord of that realm, a peer and ally of the King's court, Grumblejack."

Gaerlan seem slightly amused at the direction the discussion has gone.

"If you would learn more of him, I will teach you as well, once we have more time." She turns to Lucavi and Gaerlan. "Are you both agreed, then, though, on what our course will be?"

It takes him a moment to puzzle that out, but he nods slowly. "You god's a chief, da King's his Warchief. I gets it."

Gaerlan nods.

"For the moment. I would pay my respects to one who thought to help me, whether I required his aid or not. Whether our path lies together beyond that will be determined later."

"We are agreed then. It is my intention to see to the Warden. If you have questions, you should ask them. I would leave him blind, crippled, but alive to speak of what had happened here... and to severe all ties to the past for Myrtle."

"Is there any business else you have here, La- Puella?"

Puella nods to Lucavi as he remembers, though the mask obscures whether it is truly from appreciation. "There are others as well to consider, whether to bring or to leave, or whether to live or die. The two guards both will live, and now there are three servants."

"And the elf, who I think will wish to come with us as well."

"One of the guards will not live, and the woman will be bound to us rather tightly before I am done."

"The others are Lucavi's to do with as he wishes."

"Irena and Gregor will accompany us. How far they go remains to be seen."

"And of course the dogs."

Puella nods. "And the final guard? If you have no plans for him, I will see that he is disposed of in the best way." The mask turns to Grumblejack.

The ogre gives a rather frightening grin.

"Friend Grumble, if you could make it take awhile," Lucavi mentions offhandedly, recalling the guard's irritating taunts.

His chuckle is even worse.

"I will see that it happens at a time and place that will benefit your own pursuits, then.

"Excellent. I will see to my servant then, and prepare to leave."

"At dusk?"

"That sounds fine."

"I will be about it then.' Puella turns to the ogre again. "Grumblejack, this afternoon. In the meantime, if you wish to rest before we leave?"

"Yeah, could take a snooze."

Gaerlan leaves and fetches Myrtle to help him build a pyre on the courtyard. He soaks it in oil from the castle. Lumber permitting, he sets a long stake into the ground. When finished he sees what packs are available to carry the bounty the party has acquired.

She helps slowly, casting glances toward the doors every so often.

As he works he asks the woman question about herself, her goals, and her desires.

Puella moves off. Over the next hour, she enlists Irena to help move the troublesome guard who wrestled Lucavi up to the cells before he wakes up. The other - whom she doubts will ever awaken from his far graver injuries - she leaves to Gaerlan.

She answers almost entirely monosyllabically.

"That will not do."

She makes no response, her mouth set in a tight line.

"Everyone else here would delight in your death my dear. I am the only thing standing between it." He leads her into the prison block to observe the tortures several guards endured. "This is what they would do, given the chance. I do not wish that, but I have no need to protect someone who doesn't even care enough to expend the most minor effort to continue living."

"You'll do whatever you like to me. Kill me if you want. I don't see the need to make it easy for you, you monster."

"In that you are wrong my dear. I have told you no lies. I have no desire to see your tortured, raped, and murdered. I do not wish to hand you over to the ogre, so he can pull you apart limb by limb." He looks into her eyes, "Do you know why I am here?"

"Because you are evil and you deserve the same fate you gave the good men I worked with?"

"Such good men. Gamblers, thieves, and liars. Men who skimped from the prison's operating expenses to fill their own pockets by endangering yourself and the realm. Men who drank themselves each night. Men who were more concerned with seeing to their own hides than saving a woman from the ogre."

"There were... problems with the prison. Everyone knew Blackerly was corrupt, and he was rubbing off on the others. They still didn't deserve what you've done here."

"Blackerly, who laughed as his men held me down and branded me. A sadist if there ever was one."

She shudders, and looks away. "And you and your friends aren't?"

"Oh no, make no mistake, those I am with are wicked to their core. Murders, torturers, sadists. Unfortunately they are the cards I have been dealt. What would you have had me do, cast them aside and walk off to a noble death enforced by a corrupt prison? Let your dear guards smile as I died in agony?"

"If that was the fate your crimes had earned you. You could have died better than you lived, at least."

"And yet you know nothing of the crimes I was accused or convinced of."

"Would you like to know what I am guilty of?"

She looks away. "I'm sure something terrible, to have been sent here."

He doesn't wait for an answer, "Desecrating a church."

"Destroying alters, overturning collection boxes. Terrible crimes indeed, certainly deserving of death."

"They don't send people to Branderscar just for that. It must have been a grand cathedral you desecrated."

"Is that any different? Would you murder a man for making a mess of your home?"

"My home is not consecrated to Mitra. I don't know what you aren't telling me, but you must have done something worse to it than that. Only a great act of blasphemy would have condemned you here."

"Indeed, only the most vile are sent to Branderscar, a beacon of light and unbreachable prison for the wicked. One good lie deserves another."

"It was, once. I served here years ago, when Captain Callidan ran the prison. Such things would never have happened under him. Nor would you villains have made it out of your cells."

"Certainly, all is as it appears."

She refuses to meet his eyes.

"I do have a confession though. There was another aspect of my 'crime'. I lacked belief. I did not worship 'holy' Mitra."

"Obviously."

"I found, as a child, I could not believe in the truth and goodness of gods that would let my sister and I grow up starving, beaten, and with no future."

She pauses a moment, a slight frown coming into her face. "There many poor people in Talingarde. The Church does its best to help them... you could have gone to someone for help."

She stops again. Very softly, she asks, "Who hurt you?"

"My mother you see, was a petty criminal. My father, a little more. They were the talk of town, the scum in sewers. They scraped out a living stealing, lying, and manipulating. I remember her breaking my arm when I was three so she could beg for donations to see a healer. There was no healer, and my was she upset when, two years later when she tried the same trick no one would give her any more coin."

"You were raised to wretchedness, then. You could have left, asked for sanctuary..."

"I put up with it, for a time. What else is a child to do. It wasn't until they decided they wanted to start using my sister toward, let us say less pleasant ends that I did something about it. I always wanted to protect her, but the church decided when it took custody of us that it was better for it to protect her, and so we were separated, sent away from each other and across the land. And I asked myself, why would good people do that? Why would they separate siblings who never had anything but each other?"

"I don't know. I'm sure they had a good reason."

"I was to be trained, to become a knight for the church. They shoved religion down my throat every day. Told me that the church was good, the gods looked after and cared for people, and that there was something better waiting for us. I wanted to believe that, but I had seen already the mercy of the church and the good people. I'd seen them look down upon me and do nothing to raise me from my station. It was only when I took action that I realized I could change things. That I wasn't a slave to circumstances of my birth or otherwise."

"You had the power to be better than you are. If you do not wish to be a slave, why make one of me?"

"I will make you no slave, but I cannot set you loose into the world either. To do anything but take you as my servant would leave you or I slain, and neither is acceptable, because I still have things I want out of this life."

"You see, my sister and I wrote of course. I learned my letters quickly - and others too - but one day she stopped writing, and I never got a response from her again. I wanted to chase across the ends of the earth after her. I wanted to find what had happened, but the church insisted that I was not to abandon my training. They would find what had become of her. And I listened for a time, but nothing came. I even prayed, but no gods answered my prayers. And so I did everything in my power to find out what had become of her. I tried to move elsewhere, somewhere closer, but in spite of all my efforts the 'holy church' worked against me. I had to finish my training, pass from wardship into adulthood."

"By the time I did there was no trace of her to be found. Any evidence of her passage or passing was gone. I had nothing - gods that had never served me and a church that wished to use me. My desires, I was told, were wrong. I should put them aside to serve everyone else. But what about me? What about my sister?"

"And instead of searching for her, you chose to desecrate the church, of the god who took you in, trained you, and raised you. What if I would rather die than serve someone like you?"

He pauses in his telling, "If death is the release you wish, I can grant it to you, but I would urge you to reconsider. Death is the end of you as you are. Once you have passed beyond your existence is meaningless."

"You must not have listened to your training very well. What lies beyond death is the only thing that gives this life meaning. If we have lived good lives, we go to be happy forever with Mitra. If we have been wicked, he casts us from his sight to be punished."

"No one wants to die sooner than they must. But there are some things I would sooner die than do."

"The priests do not lie - you go on to an afterlife - where you can meet your fate. You are happy, but you are happy in the way that cattle is happy Myrtle. You are a soul, but not a consciousness."

"They are the same."

"No. The soul is what animates you, it is what gives you breath, and when you die it continues on. Your conciousness however is your knowledge and experiences. Even the church is quite clear that mind, soul, and body are separate things. I would be happy to show you a direct reference."

"A soul is what separates us from the beasts. They have breath, but do not think or speak as men do. The soul is the difference."

"And what if I told you there were great magics that could make a beast speak as a man, and think as one? Would that being have a soul?"

"I speak not of a temporary change, but if a permanent state of being."

"I... I don't know. I'm not a theologian. But I feel that every word you say imperils my soul."

"Use your wits and rely not on dogma. If a beast can think and speak as a man there are three options. One, that he possessed a soul all along. Two, that he is able to speak and think without a soul, or three that magic can do what it is said only the gods can do - create a soul."

"Or ask the gods to bring one forth, as it is brought forth when a child is born."

"Wizards and sorcerers ask nothing of the gods. We have one among is if you'd to speak with him."

"Or that the magic calls a devil to inhabit its body. Or that the magic makes an unnatural thing possible, and such beasts are not the same as Mitra's children."

"In some cases perhaps, but not all. These are not evil spells I speak of, they are old rites." His face softens, "I am not trying to damn your soul, merely convince you that your consciousness is worth preserving, and that there is more to life than seeking an afterlife as the cattle of the god."

"The old ways are evil. We are blessed that Mitra rid us of them."

"And the men that died here were evil. Are you blessed that I rid you of them?"

"No, they were not. They were good men, most of them, except Blackerly. Even he was only selfish, not as bad as anything you and your friends have done."

"I knew them. They were not bad men, just... doing their jobs. Protecting everyone from the worst criminals in the land."

"They did things you say are evil and wicked. They tortured prisoners and took pleasure in it." He exposes his brand. "Why were they not wicked? Because you knew them? Because it is hard to damn those you know?"

"I can believe Blackerly laughed... but not the others. Mitra commands you be marked, that all may see those who are beyond redemption in his sight."

"Mitra commands that you torture a man in chains. How is Mitra any different than these men?"

"It is so easy to damn those that are strangers to you. It is much harder to pass judgment on those close to you, to face the truth."

"It is not torture! It only a mark of your wickedness, that you have earned in full. The wicked must face punishment."

"Yes, burn a man, listen to his flesh sizzle, because you are commanded to do so. Do it because he wrecked a building belonging to those who order that you do such things. Then burn him alive. You can see the contradiction. I can see it in your eyes. You've been told for so long that Mitra tells you what is right and wrong and nothing else matters, but you are beginning to think. You are wondering if I am right."

"No! I will not listen to you slander my friends any longer! I had neighbors, friends... family among the guards, and you murdered them! I won't hear another word from you!"

She turns from him and walks away.

He grabs her arm, "I'm trying to convince you that you are worth saving. That you do not want to die in agony." He jabs a finger at the skinned guard, "That is what they will do to you, inch by painful inch."

"Better the flesh should suffer than the spirit. I do not believe your lies about the soul, any more than your lies about the men who worked here."

"You know I told no lie to you."

"Every word was deceit."

"Every word was truth."

"The devil can deceive with honeyed words."

"Why would I deceive you?"

"To make me like you. Evil. Deluded. Damned."

"To what end?"

"Do you think that evil is just some twisted force that delights in dragging others down for no reason?"

"I don't know your motives, and I am glad of it."

"My desire is that you not die pointlessly. I've taken enough lives here. I have no desire take any more."

"Then let me go."

"Not killing me is easy. All you need do is nothing."

"So you can storm off into the prison full of sadists and killers?"

"Or attempt to flee and die that way or see to my death?"

"So I can go home to my family, those that you haven't killed. If you want me to live, then you have the power to make my life worth living. Show mercy, that some mercy might be shown to you."

She looks over as Lucavi begins interrogating the warden.




Quote:
Lucavi moves to revive the Warden, after making sure he is secured. When Puella joins him, he requests that the warden be healed of his wounds.

Puella nods, and intones a healing prayer over the man.

Lucavi appears hot, with sweat dripping down his forehead, causing his scars to gleam.

The dullness in his eyes comes in fits and starts, fleeing the sporadic focused purpose that emerges every so often.

He groans in pain, as her harsh magic burns through his flesh, cauterizing wounds, and his one good eye blinks open.

"What is your name?" Lucavi begins.

He blinks blearily a bit at the people surrounding him, then his face sets in hard lines. "Matthias Richter, warden, Branderscar Prison."

"Warden Richter, where did you learn the study of magic?"

He slaps him as the warden is slow to reply. It is casual, but painful.

He draws in a deep breath, and looks you in the eye, his lips pinched. "Matthias Richter, warden, Branderscar Prison."

He accepts the blow, straightening his head again.

"Where did you study magic, Warden?"

"Matthias Richter, warden, Branderscar Prison."

"Puella please send for one of the living guards."

"It seems unlikely one as unfit as you might care for those in your charge, but perhaps I am wrong."

Puella does so. A short while later, she arrives with the worse-wounded of their two guard prisoners.

"If you insist on repeating your name and rank, I will remove a digit from the guard each time. Then a limb. When we have ruined what remains of him, we will move on to another. When we are done with guards, we will move on to servants."

"If you are unwilling to answer a question, simply say so, or do not reply. Engaging in foolishness will try my patience beyond that which you wish to do. Do I make myself clear?"

He looks from you to the guard, and back again. His face softens, and his eye closes for a moment, and he takes a deep breath.

"I... I know you can't hear me boy, but I'm sorry. I've failed you all. Perhaps I'll have a chance to tell you all so on the other side. Don't give them anything. I'll make sure I can't." He opens his mouth wide, sticks out his tongue, and clamps his jaws together. Lucavi is too slow to keep the man from silencing himself by biting through his own tongue.

"Stabilize him, Puella." Lucavi's tone does not change.

Puella incants a command, ordering the Warden's blood to cease its flow.

The blood obeys, though the man did not. He still will not be able to speak.

"It will be harder for you to communicate now."

"Remove one of the guard's fingers."

Puella obeys.

A knife chosen for dullness does not make quick work of it.

"I gave you a way to save the guard's fingers. I gave you a way to honorably avoid my questions."

The warden does not respond.

"I will be less patient now. Wink once for yes, twice for no. Do you understand my request?"

He closes his eye, and does not open it.

"Remove another finger."

"Shall I skip straight to one who can scream for him?"

"No. We will do this as I said. I at least, am a man of my word."

"Ur astin ime. I ell oo uh'ing."

Puella nods, and the guard loses another finger, another spell keeping him from bleeding his life away.

"ill uh."

Lucavi looks tired. "Again, wink once for yes, twice for no. Do you understand my request?"

"ill ee."

Lucavi waits to see the man wink. If he does not, he gives the order for a third finger.

And a third finger duly follows the order.

"So we've established the man is Warden Mathias Richter, of the prison. And we've established that he is refusing to communicate in even the most mildly civil manner."

"We know he's allowed embezzling, gambling and petty cruelty to go on."

"We know he doesn't care about his men."

"All these things we have learned." Puella confirms.

A wordless moan escapes Richter's throat at those words, and tears begin to seep from his eye.

"All I wanted was to talk, Warden. You'd rather bite your tongue off than speak with me."

"oh oin oo is. Et uh ey."

"You'd rather I mutilate your man than cooperate even a little bit."

"It's frankly tiresome."

"En ill ee."

"I'm not even going to bother to try and understand your babble. Communicate with me through your eye, or we will continue carving up your man."

He picks up the tongue and inspects it. "Ensure that Damodred gets this. He has ways of making dead flesh talk." He hands it to Puella before turning back to the warden.

"Explain the rainbow to me, Warden."

"I will ask him to take from it whatever secrets were worth so much." Puella pockets the tongue and withdraws slightly.

The warden's face is a picture of incomprehension, such that even one unskilled in reading people can understand perfectly.

"Puella, another finger. Warden, explain it."

Puella digs away a fourth finger with her dull knife.

"How many colors does it have, Warden? Spare this man some semblance of pain instead of turning him into a mutilated monument to your towering arrogance."

"I an', oo're us ein rue!"

"Puella, another finger. Warden, I told you to communicate with your eye."

"If you hurry, she might not finish before I stay her hand."

Puella lays one hand, ragged and red and denuded of fingers, upon the guard's chest, and reaches for the other.

"But only in yes or no." Gaerlan calls over.

"The warden is smart enough to figure out how to tell me a number with his eye," Lucavi returns, not looking up.

"Warden, these men are suffering for nothing. You aren't even disclosing secrets."

"Oo're inane!"

The second hand rapidly begins to resemble the first.

This time, no blood flows forth from the wound.

"More insane than a man that would let those in his care suffer rather than answer even simple questions."

"One could respect you for keeping your secrets, but this is pride, the root of all sin."

He is by now weeping openly.

"You could, for instance have blinked seven times, and saved a man from death."

"Lucavi has four more prisoners to choose from. Shall the two of you play this game all day?"

The warden gives a despairing cry, and begins beating his head against the wall.

"Stop that, or the girl's nose will follow your man's finger."

Puella observes. "If you are trying to kill yourself, know that my magic can prevent your death."

"AAAAAH! I on' ow aying! Ill ee!"




Gaerlan glances at her, and stands by, watching her reaction to Lucavi and Puella's tactics.

"And so he tries to take a cowards way out."

"And sentences his servants and soldiers to horrific deaths."

She claps her hands over her mouth, tears coming to her eyes.

Gaerlan lays a hand on her shoulder.

She shudders and pulls away.

"Don't blame that man for trying to keep his knowledge from you monsters. This is on you, not him."

"I haven't raised a hand."

"You helped capture him, no doubt. You helped break free, instead of for once in your life, doing your duty instead of being selfish."

"I have no duty to die."

"You did, from the moment you were condemned by law."

"And yet the lady's law calls for servants of Mitra to burn. Law is an administrative process - it carries no weight but that of the men who enforce it." Gaerlan lapses into silence as he watches the interrogation.

"The laws of god are holy, above the laws of man. And you are no servant of Mitra."

"Those she worships are gods unto themselves, they are simply not your gods - though they may have been your forefathers."

"Once they were worshiped across this land - for good and ill. Gods change."

"She worships devils. All gods other than Mitra are false."

"Only of late."

"This land once embraced diversity and freedom. It is only of late that it has condemned any who did not believe as those in power did."

Gaerlan turns to his ward, "There is a lesson here."

"Don't worry about me, sir! Don't help them!"

"Even in avoiding sin, this man has sinned. Even if you hold Lucavi responsible for the murder, pride has taken root."

"No..."

"Yes. And that it is rooted in Lucavi first does not not mean it is not in this man's heart."



Quote:
"Fetch another guard, Puella. Warden, in the time it takes her to return, I want you to try very hard to remember that I will mutilate all of your men simply to prove to you that I am a man of my word."

"on-er."

"No other reason. We were going to let you live, give you a message for those who followed after."

"oo'll ill uh all a-eeay."

"And remember, that as a man of my word, I requested that you speak to me with your eye."

Puella moves on to the first prisoner taken, the guard whose eyes and tongue Lucavi already burned away. Perhaps by now he has awoken to a world in which sight and speech are gone, but pain remains.

"So at this point, you can try to irritate me, and I'll dismember the man. Or you can answer simple questions, not divulge state secrets, and save him from pain."

"Y?"

Lucavi holds up one finger.

"Are you going to cooperate with me?"

He blinks once.

Lucavi inclines his head. "Thank you, Warden. Have you held your position long?"

He blinks twice.

"Now we're getting somewhere. If you need to tell me that you don't want to answer a question, wink three times. Did you know that Sergeant Blackerly was corrupt?"

Two blinks.

Puella waits with the second guard, knife still at hand, but doing him no harm.

Lucavi nods. "I was a little surprised to learn of it myself. As a former knight candidate, I had thought this place would have staffed a more honorable sort. You, for instance, fit with my image. Him, not so much."

"Did you poison me?"

"at?" Two blinks.

His face is again a picture of confusion.

"I've felt...sick. Weary. A burden upon me."

"I wondered if perhaps you poisoned prisoners. I found the plants outside."

"Ust e o-er. Weake' him, ma him afe."

"I'll let that go, Warden, since you've been cooperative, but use your eye, please."

"You used poison on Grumblejack?"

One blink.

"So why am I feeling so sick?"

Three blinks, a shrug, and a confused expression.

Lucavi smiles, then heaves a sigh. "Do you feel Order crumbling?"

One blink.

"Before tonight, did you try to stop its collapse?"

Three blinks.

"Which color of the rainbow is your favorite, Warden?"

He starts to shake, and his face screws up. He knew this was coming.

He blinks six times, hoping...

"Indigo?"

He stops, and shakes his head. He's miscounted. Five blinks.

"Blue."

Once.

"Would you prefer we leave you dead, when we leave this place?"

Once.

"Who did I hear in the night, Warden? It was a woman singing, faintly, while I was in my cell."

Three blinks, and a shrug, looking more bewildered than ever. He clearly doesn't know.

"There was only one woman here that night, Warden? The serving girl Irena?"

He blinks once, slowly.

Lucavi wipes sweat from his face and takes a deep breath. "What scratched at my cell wall in the night, Warden? What is out there?"

He looks at you for a moment, ruined mouth hanging open in mixed confusion and fear. He blinks twice.

"No? No you don't know? No is out there?"

One blink.

Lucavi shakes his head, stepping backwards. "In the shadow, comes the fall. And with the fall, shadow." His eyes are unfocused now, and his head shakes back and forth.

The warden was already certain he shared this cell with a madman, dear readers. This only cements itself further in his mind.

"WHERE WERE YOU, WARDEN?! WHERE WAS YOUR DUTY WHEN I WAS BROUGHT HERE?!" He leaps forward, grabbing the warden by the arms.

"No wait."

"you must say it with your eye."

"One blink means you were in your room. Two blinks means you were praying to holy Mitra. Three blinks and..." Lucavi trails off.

He looks back at Lucavi, wide-eyed. He forces himself to blink once.

"And your duty?"

"Was that in your room, Warden?"

Puella is standing near by, now. The woman must have moved in at some point, though she is still as a statue now, watching Lucavi more than the warden from behind her mask.

Three.

"The snake. The cat. The rat. The dog. Which one, Warden?"

Three blinks, and another shrug.

"The rat?"

His mouth works, and his eye twitches, as if he can't decide how many times to blink.

Lucavi leans in and whispers. "I know you can't hear me. But I only did what you wanted me to."

"Will I sell out the nation? Will I be saddled with the murder of...you?"

He blinks once.

Lucavi looks around, his head darting wildly. "When he's cold and dead, will he let me be?"

The warden has no answer.

Lucavi lets out a breath, and composes himself.

He rubs the back of his neck, trying to ease some of the tension there. "I will restore Order, Warden. I do not know if you will live to see that day. But it will come."

Puella is at his side with a murmured spell, and once again he feels a guiding spark kindle briefly within, banishing for a moment a brief measure of his weariness and bringing ephemeral certainty.

He blinks twice.

Lucavi smiles. "See? You can resist without causing a man to die."

"I wish that I could find the singer so easily."

He moves away from the warden.




Gaerlan leans close, "You could end this you know," he whispers.

"I can't make that... fiend stop torturing him."

"You could end the Wardens suffering."

"A blade would not touch Lucavi, and even if it did it would not slay him. Puella is similarly gifted. The warden though..." Gaerlan shrugs, "You could end his suffering. I could explain that to the others if nessessary."

"You want me to murder him?"

"No, but I am extending you the opportunity to comply with his expressed wishes and save him from the suffering that will continue for the rest of his life." Gaerlan shrugs.

"You would put a knife in my hand, and ask me to kill a loyal servant of Mitra? I cannot believe you."

"I asked nothing. The Warden asked to die. If you do not interfere he will not die."

"He will live out the rest of his life, maimed, crippled, and burdened with the many lives he could have saved here."

"I suspect he will take his own life when the opportunity presents itself. Suicide is a sin, is it not?"

"Yes... but sometimes, all one has is a choice between two sins. Mitra is forgiving."

"He has committed so many though..."

"I wonder how he will be judged. The lazy commander who got his entire prison slaughtered and released these men and women onto the world. The man who killed a man with his pride. The man who killed himself rather than live with what he has done."

"I think we've seen enough, unless you'd rather watch?"

"What is he doing... what is he talking about?"

Gaerlan leans close and whispers, "I told you these were wicked and twist men - and not entirely sane. The last woman he was alone with returned horribly maimed."

"I don't think he viewed it that way though."

"We should go." Gaerlan gestures for her to lead out.

She shudders away from him. "And what does that make you, that you associate with them?"

Gaerlan waits until they are out of the block to reply, "A chaperone perhaps. For now they will follow me. I can mitigate the worst of their effects, perhaps use them towards a better end. The elf wished to turn his attention to your village for instance, I have convinced them to take another path."

"...village?"

"He wanted to use the oil in the prison to raze the town."

"As long as I live that will not be the course taken."

She does not move from her spot to leave. "...is he insane, or stupid? Varyston is no small village, it's a walled town of stone buildings, with thousands of people. How can you not know that?"

"Perhaps insane, but not stupid. He commands magics that are not inconsquential, and flame moves quickly inside walls. I would put little past him."

She shakes her head. "I would like to see you try. You would be cut down before striking a match."

"They said that about this place too."

"I agree with her. I would like to see him try."

"We have other things to do."

"He's already agreed to not burn down the town for your sake. You need not continue to beat the dead horse." Lucavi moves back towards the warden.

Puella, shadowing Lucavi, pauses briefly. She leans in to whisper in Gaerlan's ear.

The words are Infernal.

She turns, emotionless behind the mask, and follows Lucavi back to the Warden.

Gaerlan smiles and replies, "We'll speak later." before she goes.


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