Saturday, 30 July 2016

Flashback: When Skarg Took Control Of Bendwyn...

Skarg and a couple of his gang in The Golden Axe...

Soon after Gunther Treszhnak, proprietor of The Golden Axe, left town (muttering about 'seeing his family before the world ends'), Skarg The Half-Orc relocated his base of operations to tavern.

Ever since the orcs had threatened to invade across The Bright River, Skarg had been agitating for a new town council and with the true council now being away for weeks, and no clue as to when they would return, he promptly called a meeting to whip up the residents of Bendwyn some more.

As well as the usual selection of low-lifes and ne'er-do-wells from his former hostelry, quite a large percentage of the town's population showed up to hear what the charismatic half-orc had to say (there was a general undercurrent of discontent with the town council, given their penchant for disappearing off on "adventures" without so much as a 'by your leave').

"We're sick and tired of having to pay a ransom to those villains on the other side of the Bright," he declared to muted cheers, "So let's not pay them. Let's keep them away from our side of the river. Let's build a barricade! A fence! And let's make THEM pay for it!

"We can use that money to improve the town, tear down that old healing house and build something decent. Hire a proper healer for the town, not someone who disappears all the time, doing Jen-knows what!"

The cheers got louder as more people were swept up in the moment and chanted: "Build a wall! Build a wall!"

"Build a wall! Build a wall!"
Skarg continued: "And whose fault is all this? Who's to blame for bringing down these troubles on our town? That so-called healer and his hangers-on, that's who. The council. They're supposed to protect you, but they're as corrupt as those orcs over there. Criminals and cultists, every one of them. What do we do with scum like that?"

"Lock them up!" someone shouted and soon the cry was taken up by others and the rafters of The Golden Axe were ringing with demands to "lock up" the old council.

And thus, the next day, even as distant earthquakes shook the ground and strange lights appeared in the skies to the west, Skarg was declared the new town mayor by the majority of the population.

Just days later, Skarg and his men were rounding up the relatives of the old town council, detaining them on charges of collusion, aiding and abetting traitors.

Little did the half-orc know his days were numbered...

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Interlude II: Harry's Dream...

Sick & Tired Of Sleeping Outdoors, Harry Was Looking Forward To A Proper Bed Again...

Harry was both surprised and delighted to discover that his old room in The Golden Axe hadn't been ransacked by Skarg's men.

He really needed a rest and his "acolytes" - Salli and Pham - were only too willing to make up his bed.

Harry was enjoying his new-found status as "The Chosen One", but was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow...
He found himself walking through a strange, featureless, dark building, drawn towards a single lit candle that stood beside an oddly illuminated bed. As he drew closer he saw in the bed, an old man. Walking away from the bed, down another corridor, his back to Harry, was a figure that the halfling was sure was Kirchin.

But then didn't the old man look a bit like Kirchin as well? Surely that wasn't possible?

The elderly Kirchin turned his head to look at the hobbit and began to speak: "Harry, it's good to see you again, my old friend. The time is coming, is it not? You must choose. You must choose wisely. You have the voice of an angel, but it is your aim that will win the day and save us all. I know where the key is... make me remember..."
And Harry woke with a start. The two young women, previously curled up on the floor, came to his side, Pham still limping from her broken leg, asking if anything was wrong?

"I know where the key is..."

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Interlude: Kirchin's Dream...

Meeting Himself In A Dream...

Delighted to finally be back at the Temple Of The Lady of Healing in Bendwyn, the first order of business for Kirchin - having settled Kahl safely in his own bed - was to get some rest.

His whole body ached from the endless walking and fighting, especially the party's most recent tussle with Skarg's henchmen at The Golden Axe.

The healer was asleep the moment his head hit the pillow...
He found himself walking through a strange, featureless, dark building, drawn towards a single lit candle that stood beside an oddly illuminated bed. As he drew closer he saw in the bed, an old man. A strangely familiar old man.

Surely that wasn't possible? It was him. He was seeing himself as an old man.

The elderly Kirchin turned his head to look at his younger self and uttered a single word: "Remember..."
And Kirchin awoke.


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Chapter 25: A Dish Served Cold...

Religious Fervour: Wild Dancing And Prayers Granted Salli A "Message From The Gods"

The refugee caravan made slow and steady progress towards Bendwyn, with the earthquakes and strange light show behind them turning the sky yellow and orange, even through the night.

The new arrivals, Salli and Pham, led the scared and huddled peasants in wild, evangelical religious ceremonies each evening. And one night Salli started speaking in tongues, proclaiming Harry as the "chosen one" and that "the stone is the key".

She had no recollection of this afterwards, but was adamant that the gods had spoken through her. From then on, Salli and Pham became Harry's handmaidens - much to his delight - tending to his every need.

Finally nearing their home town, the heroes and the refugees came to Bright River Fort and were shocked to see it almost unmanned, its doors hanging open.

Captain Hammerhand
Captain Dexter Hammerhand, wild with madness and drunkenness, proclaimed the end times, telling Cobblethwaite's Companions that most of his men had deserted to be with their families in the final hours of the world.

He also recounted reports he had received of a rampaging tarrasque heading south through Elyntia, ransacking the capitol, then tearing through Dranning.

When Marigold asked about the Wizard's Conclave, the captain told her they had gone to fight the "world-breaker" and not been heard from since.

The heroes then made their way, at last, down the hill to Bendwyn, only to be met at the bridge by the town guards - and a mob of thugs, fronted by the villainous half-orc Skarg, holding Kirchin's apprentice, Kahl, as a hostage.

Sgt Max Beerfoam
The guard-sergeant, Max Beerfoam, reluctantly told Cobblethwaite's Companions that the refugees weren't welcome in the village and that they - the former town council - were required to surrender, so they could be tried for treason and dereliction of duty, having left the town "in its hour of need".

Unsurprisingly, the adventurers refused to surrender and escorted the refugees back to the fort. Once the homeless peasants were settled in, Kirchin led the group of heroes back to Bendwyn in the eerie half-light, where they hatched a cunning plan to liberate the town.

There was some distracting of the guard on patrol, Cedric (who was eventually magically webbed by Marigold for his own well-being), Skarg's old tavern (now abandoned) was set alight, and Holly swam across the river Wyn and back a couple of times, enlisting the help of a family of friendly farmers.

Harry found Max and persuaded him to come over to their side, then the heroes sent Max into Skarg's new headquarters - The Golden Axe (the former base of operations for Cobblethwaite's Companions) - with news that his old tavern was on fire.

Unfortunately, Skarg had suspected a ruse along these lines, although he hadn't foreseen Max's betrayal. He put a crossbow bolt in Max, and the sound of Max's body hitting the ground caused the Companions to storm the building.

Skarg had rigged up a mechanism above the bar, pulleys and ropes that led to nooses secured around the necks of all the hostages on the bar: Kahl, Holly's aunt Gwendolyn, and Marigold's parents.

The rope then led back to Skarg's arm, and he was pulling it taught even as the heroes burst in.

The half-orc had also surrounded himself with a dozen tooled-up ruffians (including the juvenile delinquent Cooper)

To the accompaniment of a rousing battle song from Harry, a brutal fight erupted that saw Davian, Kirchin and Holly cutting people down left right and centre; Marigold used her magical webbing to gum up the mechanism holding the hostages, then cut loose with her "viper staff "; Dirkin turned a couple of thugs into pin cushions with his bow, before the crush got too much and he found himself facing Cooper.

Cooper had already taken on Holly, but she got pulled away to fight other scum, breaking her fencing sword in the process.

Dirkin ran Cooper through, and then Skarg, bloodied from an earlier strike, found himself surrounded by the dead bodies of his men, facing his bitterest enemies: Cobblethwaite's Companions.

Davian attacked first, then Holly - having snatched up a random discarded sword from the floor - cut down the half-orc gangster who had held the town in fear for the last few weeks.

Checking on Max, Kirchin discovered, by some miracle, that he wasn't as badly wounded as they first thought and would make a quick recovery.

The hostages were freed and the town of Bendwyn was liberated.

And All The Time The Yellow King Draws Nearer...

  • Davian (Kevin)
  • Harry (Simon)
  • Holly (Erica)
  • Kirchin (Pete)
  • Marigold/Dirkin (Clare)
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