Joined: 20 Jan 2006
|Posted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:37 pm Post subject: Queen of Winter - episode 4
|Early risers in the city of Caer Callidyr scurried back inside in terror at the sight of the adventurers. All were blood-stained and scarred, but it was the sight of Aodhan the minotaur lightly swinging an elven head by its ponytail that gave the greatest fright.
Long before they reached the castle guards had been raised and stood upon the wall. At the gate Sir Leort was wiping the sleep from his eyes and strapping a shield to his arm. Before the knight could speak, Chadis had thrust Baki’s note into his hands. Sir Leort had to read it twice before its full import sunk in. His squire was a traitor, and the Queen of Winter planned to assault the city in just two days’ time.
Sir Leort called for the king and the castle leapt into life. Servants rushed around preparing the great hall while courtiers and soldiers dashed hither and thither, seeking information and swapping wild rumours about the adventurers’ return. The great hall was soon full of anxious faces, all turned towards the dais holding an empty throne.
Silence fell as King Kendrick entered the hall and strode towards his throne, his face like thunder. The king did not sit, but on reaching the dais turned and stood to face his people.
|I don’t much see the point of bandying words, so I’ll lay it out for you. The Queen of Winter plans an assault two days’ hence. These brave adventurers have uncovered a traitor in our midst, and on her body found a letter which hints at the Queen’s plan. This traitor was the squire Baki, who will be known to many of you, and she knew much of our defenses. We must assume that the Queen also knows our weak-points. Perhaps ever worse, the letter indicates that the Queen’s plans may involve the volcanic vents which lie outside our city. Perhaps she has a portal to the Feywild there, or perhaps she knows of a tunnel which leads beneath our walls? I do not know, but we must expect an attack from below as well as from without. |
Uproar followed these words. It took King Kendrick some time before he was able to regain control of the room.
|Silence! We have little time for bickering. Here is my plan. Sir Leort will lead the militias and most of you will bolster the defences on the wall. I task the Company of Wolves to head into the mountains to secure the vents. One mission remains however. I need a group to evacuate the fortress at Bordrin’s Watch. It cannot hold against a full assault and I need her soldiers here to defend the city. It is a dangerous task with the woods already full of Fey, but those soldiers stand no chance unless we can get a warning to them. Chadis, I already owe you and your companions a great debt – but there is no-one else I can turn to. Will you travel to Bordrin’s Watch? |
Chadis looked at Aodhan, Alan, and Garrah before nodding his consent to the king. The king smiled gratefully. At that point a huge man with a thick black beard stepped forward. The man wore a wolf-skin cloak and his helmet was topped with the horns taken from a black dragon.
“Must I remind your Grace of our arrangement?”, this figure asked. King Kendrick raised his hand in a conciliatory gesture and then turned to Chadis. “Thank you”, he said - the gratitude in his voice obvious, “I will leave Sir Leort to arrange what you will need.” He then turned to the rest of the crowd and indicated that he would like a moment alone to speak to the figure in the wolf’s cloak.
As Chadis left the great hall he asked a courtier who the man in the cloak was. The courtier replied that he was Edgar, leader of the Company of Wolves – an adventuring party that had won renown by killing a black dragon, recovering a sacred relic and committing other great deeds.
Sir Leort spotted the adventurers and rushed over to them. He snatched some paper from a passing courtier and scribbled a note, explaining that it was orders to present to Sir Durkirk of Bordrin’s Watch. He then drew a map to the fortress before grabbing a servant with his one good arm. “Take these men to the kitchen and give them some breakfast, then arrange horses and whatever else they need” he said. The knight looked harried and Chadis, filled with questions, bit his tongue.
The servant led the adventurers to a large trestle table in the kitchen. At this sat Edgar and other members of the Company of Wolves in matching cloaks. Before the servant departed, Chadis asked him to make sure that a bag of arrows was included with their other supplies and Aodhan requested some sunrods.
As the adventurers seated themselves, Edgar looked at them and said something to his companions who laughed. Aodhan overheard “I heard they killed an albino gecko”. He stood and looked sharply at the warrior. “It was a dragon” he said. Edgar raised an eyebrow and then turned back to his companions, “It is so easy to inflate stories in times of war don’t you think?”.
Chadis stood alongside Aodhan and sharp words rose from his throat. But before they could be articulated Edgar spoke again, “Well, enjoy your breakfast gentlemen”, he said. “Some of us have a city to save.” With that Edgar and his companions rose and swaggered from the room.
Chadis muttered angrily and stepped forward to confront the Company of Wolves. He was halted by a woman who sat at the next table. The woman’s hard and badly scarred face broke into a sympathetic grin. “Blowhards” she mouthed, motioning at the Company of Wolves with her head.
The woman introduced herself as Megan Swiftblade and indicated that she and her companions formed another company of adventurers, Elsir’s Claw. Chadis asked what Edgar had wanted with the King and she shrugged. “He only works on the condition that his company gets the job with the greatest risk and the greatest glory”, she said. Chadis nodded, wondering if Edgar was jealous of his own exploits and the King’s request.
While the adventurers were finishing their breakfast the servant returned, carrying a bag filled with bread, a tankard of ale and some apples. He handed this to the adventurers along with the bag of arrows that Chadis had requested and some sunrods for Aodhan. The adventurers were led to the stables where mounts had been arranged. With little fuss they mounted and rode from the city.
The path to Bordrin’s Watch was arduous, and the journey was not made any easier by the need to avoid the fey which plagued the woods. At one point the party had to spend an hour crouched behind a boulder while a group of fey passed beneath them.
Eventually though, the adventurers reached the fortress of Bordrin’s Watch. The massive structure was of ancient design, and it had clearly suffered with the passing of time. The cyclopean stone walls had been repaired, but little remained inside. A single building had roughly been constructed from the ruins, and this stood amongst a huge courtyard.
There was one entrance to Bordrin’s Watch, and this mighty door stood slightly ajar. Chadis was suspicious at this and approached silently. He peeked around the door and spotted three groups of fey in the courtyard within. Each group was huddled around what looked like a human corpse, arguing in reedy voices and poking hungrily at the flesh.
The companions rushed through the gate together and overran the fey with ease. When the last of the creatures was killed they turned their attention to the barrack building. Aodhan peered through a window and saw a human body in the small room beyond. The companions kept their weapons drawn as they moved inside.
The barracks were poorly lit, but there was enough light to make out the carnage inside. Body after body lay upon the ground. Most of the fortresses’ complement appeared to have been taken by surprise in the night and lay upon sleeping mats with their throats cut wide.
The adventurers moved deeper inside, to where another company of fey were lying in wait for them. These creatures were led by a huge winged feyling and a filthy, sharp-toothed hag. Two others bore nasty recurved bows which fired arrows with remarkable force.
With a cry battle was joined. The hag spat vile epithets and bile at Aodhan and Alan, blinding the minotaur and causing the fighter’s skin to blister wherever her filthy spittle landed. Chadis was repeatedly knocked backwards by the power of the arrows which struck him, while Garrah found himself surrounded and surprised by creatures which had snuck around behind him.
The outcome of the fight hung in the balance for some time and the companions were grateful for the cleric’s healing magicks, but once the winged leader was taken down its allies fell quickly.
Once the companions recovered their breath from the fight they examined the barracks more carefully. In the commander’s office they found a hole in the floor. Aodhan dropped one of his sunrods into this and a tunnel was seen to lead off into the distance. This tunnel was perfectly straight and the adventurer’s surmised that it could only have been made with magic.
After 100 metres of so the tunnel opened into a cavern. The air grew warmer and the faint smell of sulphur could be detected. The cavern continued south-west, back towards the city and the companions decided to follow it.
After some distance a faint light could be detected in the gloom. The air grew warmer still and then voices could be heard. Chadis recognised them as mostly fey, but he was sure that he caught some angry words being spoken in Dwarven. The party doused their sunrod and snuck forward silently. They rounded a corner and found themselves gazing into a large volcanic vent filled with fey. The light was provided by a fire which blazed in one corner and by two holes in the floor which opened onto streams of molten lava. One of the fey was bent over a fallen dwarf, which screamed as a red-hot metal rod was shoved into his back.
The adventurers’ drew their weapons…
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.