Sunday, April 23, 2006

Conspiracy of Shadows (Season Two, Session Five)

Sedziwoj has conceived a plan to kill Beker and leads his retainers along the road to the silver mines south of Jenkaz. Anatoli, unaware of his narrow escape from death, is waiting at the ruined farmhouse. There in the growing darkness he spots his missing fiance dancing across the abandoned fields. He follows her but as he does she seems to glide away into the woods surrounding the fields. As he is about to enter the woods to follow her a man in purple linen robes grabs him and physically stops him from following.

The man warns him about following the "spirits of the damned" and leads him back to the ruined farmhouse where he shares some food with the foreigner and talks about the old rulers and ways of the forest. He mentions that the forest contains the burial mound of a great king who ruled long before the dog men came to the forests and that great riches would be found by anyone brave enough to open the barrows.

At Sedziwoj's camp Totay staggers into the fire light and warns the party that a group of mercenary horsemen have followed them out of the city. He offers to borrow one of the group's spare horses and find out the intentions of the pursuers. He borrows an axe from Kaspar so as to pretend he is a woodcutter.

The next Sedziwoj and his men ride down the causeway to the mines pretending to be messengers from the Chancellor taking a message to Beker. They reach the mine to find a small, poor but well-defended community. They discover that Beker is a habitual drinker at the mine's small taverns and decide to set up in the inn and wait for him to arrive.

Along the mine road through the forest Anatoli has left the ruined farmlands and is heading into the hills. The road is badly churned and the passing of many horses is clearly apparent. Anatoli follows the road until he sees and owl in one of the trees and remembering that the man from the previous night had mentioned that the owl was the symbol of the ancient king he chooses to follow it. The owl moves from tree to tree until a small clearing is revealed with broken statuary surrounding a large mound only slightly overgrown.

The mound is located on a natural shelf on the hillside and from one of the trees on the edge of the clearing Anatoli can get a good view of the surrounding moorland all the way to the hills of the mine and the stone fort that guards the area. He can see a large group of horsemen making their way along the causeway to the mine and decides to walk to the bottom of the hill so he can see what is happening.

In the mining village there is a commotion at the gate and Sedziwoj goes up onto the palisade to investigate. Totay is at the gate making up a cock and bull story about a wager while behind him a troop of soldiers are making their way to the mine and some of the more eager riders are already galloping ahead of the main column.

Sedziwoj sizes up the situation and has Sergei and Marius go and pick up the horses while Kaspar is sent to the gate to see if he can get near to the bracketed bar that holds it shut. Totay is granted entrance and he immediately starts attracting attention to himself noisily and gives a warning that the outlaw Sedziwoj-Koniepole has come this way and that the column intend to take him and bear him to the King.

At this Kaspar seizes the bar on the gate and hurls the heavy beam to the ground and Marius and Sergei appear with the mounts. Sedziwoj and Kaspar mount up and the group ride out of the village and onto the moorland. The pursuing horseman wheel to chase them and Sedziwoj picks off a few with his bow before telling the rest of the group to gallop for the woods before wheeling his horse and giving a defiant speech. A few of the mercenaries gallop past him to chase the others but the majority of the group prepare to capture the foolish outlaw.

With a warcry Sedziwoj settles his lance and charges at the leader of the group knocking the captain off his horse and crushing him beneath his horse's hooves. A crushing melee gathers round him but Sedziwoj fights like a man possessed and opponent after opponent falls before the cruel blows of his hammer. Javelin after javelin misses him in the confusion and even those that hit glance off his armour. The seasoned warriors realise that the only way to bring down such a fierce warrior is the crush of close combat. The close in around Sedziwoj trying to avoid his blows while pulling him from his horse.

Across the moorland Anatoli recognises the rides making across the plan and shouts and waves at them. Sergei and Totay break away and ride for the woods, followed by one of the mercenaries while Marius and Kaspar continue further along the moorland until they realise they cannot shake their pursuers and head for the foothills of the wood. Two riders follow them in. Kaspar quickly dismounts and from behind a tree brings down the first rider with two quickly fired arrows. The second rider, aware of the ambush spurs his horse forward and cuts Kaspar on his arm before hacking at Marius and catching him on the skull killing him instantly. With Marius fallen the horseman slashes again at Kaspar and his sword cuts a bloody gash on Kaspar's neck.Kaspar drops his bow and collapses to his knees and clutches his wounded neck. The horseman turns his horse to deliver the final blow.

Further away Anatoli sees the pursuing horseman and as Sergei and Totay ride past he drives his spear into the ground and prepares to receive the horseman's charge. The rider is confident and prepares to ride around the spearpoint and cut the peasant down. He is too confident though and he fails to guide his horse outside the range of the spear and is instead impaled on it by the momentum of his charge. The spear snaps under the weight of the rider but the man is most assuredly dead.

Totay is surprised and annoyed to see Anatoli again but free of the threat of pursuit all three quickly make their way to where Kaspar and Marius disappeared.

As Kaspar waits for the final blow to come he hears a horse galloping towards him and looking up he sees Sedziwoj charge through the trees and catching the mercenaries sword blade at the last minute. Despite the cuts, bruises and exhaustion of his recent battle Sedziwoj swiftly dispatches this final bounty hunter and dismounts. Dropping his hammer he cries in frustration over the body of Marius. Anatoli and Sergei appear and help bind Kaspar's wound. Anatoli makes a simple wooden litter and drags Kaspar back up the hill to the mound.


Robert said...

Points spent: one Doom for Sedziwoj to put the mercenaries to flight before they can overwhelm him. One Doom for Kaspar to have Sedziwoj save him before he is finished off by the horseman.

rumour said...

Back in 1986 my brother was the dungeon master to me and my friends 3 of us, ages 12-7, we had so much fun, but he would do perverted stuff to our characters during the game. Then he bought Marvel Superheroes, which none of us ever got a change to play because he was 14, hair metal was calling and so was alienating the younger ones. Good times.....