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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