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[D&D 4e PbP] The Scarlet Brigade • Prologue: The Dragonborn Wars (IC)

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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    "Kindly wait in line to die." Round Two.


    As Malcolm bites down on his arm, Varro releases his grip -- instantly angry at this instinctual weakness, he growls and follows Malcolm's retreat with hungry eyes. "Stronger than you look, aren't you? And you fight dirty, too... Don't worry, I know that game..."

    It is difficult to tell whether the crowd find Gracchus' piety inspiring or terrifying, but it is certainly effective: While their fellows cower before the rage of the hulking, armoured templar, two of the more pious or guilty members of the rabble sidle forward to the fight. One gingerly places himself between Varro and the girl, jabbing at Varro's gut. The other skirts the edge of the quarry and lands a stinging blow on the cheek of one of the thugs, who was too busy warily eyeing Joseph's halberd.

    Meanwhile, behind Gracchus, another hasty convert steps forward to the second thug and puts his fists up. He feints to the left, in an attempt to get the thug off guard, but a knife blade flashes from the ruffian's sleeve and he ducks fast beneath the hapless bystander's guard. The thug barely even notices the man fall; one smooth movement of duck-and-slice-and-swivel and he is again facing Malcolm and Varro and the real fight.

    The first thug has produced a knife of his own, and fancies he sees Joseph's attention diverted by the stricken cry of the dead man. He stabs at the vulnerable neck of Joseph's armour, but his hand is knocked away by a sure motion of the halberd.

    Meanwhile, Varro has decided that the wizard's time has now come. "Time to finish this. Bite me again, though, and you won't die easy." He stalks towards Malcolm, leaving an opportunity for Joseph to strike...


    Ally Actions:
    Pious Bystander 1
    Move Action: Shift to J3
    Standard Action: Punch Thug 2
    --> Attack roll: 11 MISS

    Pious Bystander 2
    Move Action: Shift to I7
    Standard Action: Punch Thug 1
    --> Attack roll: 26 HIT!
    --> 5 damage.

    Pious Bystander 3
    Move Action: Move to I5
    Standard Action: Punch Varro
    --> Attack roll: 16 HIT!
    --> 5 damage.

    Enemy Actions:
    Thug 1
    Standard Action: Use Dagger against Joseph
    --> Attack roll: 13 MISS

    Thug 2
    Move Action: Shift to J4
    Standard Action: Stab PB1
    --> Attack roll: 19 HIT!
    --> Pious Bystander 1 is killed!
    --> Thug 2 shifts to J3

    Varro
    Move Action: Shift towards H4


    Map (Round Two):
    el1zmh.jpg

    Interesting Information:
    The Bystanders: All of the bystanders that make up the crowd are currently neutral. You can attempt to sway them to your side by making a skill check as a minor action. The outcome of this check is at my discretion, and will be influenced by the skill used and the way you roleplay it as well as by the roll. Please note: Varrus will be trying to win the crowd over, too.

    The Vegetation: Squares of vegetation are difficult terrain (you cannot shift into one, and moving into one costs two squares of movement). They also offer cover against attacks from outside the vegetation.

    The Quarry: The drop to the bottom of the quarry is 30 feet (20 cubits, in-game), and anyone falling down there will take 3d10 damage unless they are trained in Acrobatics. If someone is pushed over the edge, they get a saving throw to grab on before going over (in-game, they fall prone next to the edge). At squares I8-I9, a ladder was once cut into the rock face. Time has largely worn it away, though, so climbing up or down it requires a DC 10 Athletics check.


    Status:
    (J5) Varro: AC 15; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 12; Speed 6.

    (I6) Joseph Rochester: AC 20; Fort 17, Reflex 13, Will 14; Speed 5; Action Points 1.
    (G4) Malcolm Blackvein: AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 16, Will 16; Speed 6; Action Points 1.
    (G7) Gracchus: AC 19; Fort 18, Reflex 13, Will 16; Speed 5; Action Points 1.

    (J3) Pious Bystander 1: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (I7) Pious Bystander 2: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (XX) Pious Bystander 3: DEAD!

    (J6) Thug 1: AC 16; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 12; Speed 6.
    (J3) Thug 2: AC 16; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 12; Speed 6.


    (XX) Bystanders: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses


    [Up Next: Joseph's Attack of Opportunity] [On Deck: Varro]

    Gideon on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The bastard has turned his back. Joseph scowles, he would not be dismissed so easily.

    Fueled by anger, he grips the end of his halberd and drives it towards Varro's back.

    The weapons shadow betrays it's cause however, and Varro twists once again out of the way just in time

    Eyes in the back of his head, thinks Joseph. Perhaps it was he, not Varro, who had underestimated the opponent.

    He grits his teeth and swats the pole with all his residual strenth into the man’s ribcage.
    Opportunity Melee Basic Attack vs Varro AC 1d20+8 9 1d10+4 13
    Result: Miss, but still deals 4 damage (equal to strength modifier) as per battle guardian.

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Joseph:
    Passive Perception: Your keen and wary eyes spot movement further up the trail. Two well-armored warriors flank a man in white-and-purple robes, and all three are riding against army's flow towards you. It seems this scuffle has not gone unnoticed.


    Varro grunts as the blunt side of Joseph's halberd slams into his kidneys, but he doesn't turn or stop; he is still bearing down on Malcolm.

    He stops, briefly, in front of the wizard, and turns to the crowd. "Are you afraid of this blustering idiot? And what of his oh-so-holy friend over there? What a tantrum!" He laughs and the onlookers, nervously at first, join in. "I've never seen anything like it! What a fucking baby."

    Emboldened, a scraggly-looking civilian (recently cowering in the face of Gracchus' wrath) takes a swing at the hulking templar. His hand clangs on the plate armour, and he suddenly looks much less brave.

    "You." Suddenly serious again, he points to a young soldier staning behind Malcolm. "Grab this fool's hands." The man does.

    Varro launches a punch right at Malcolm's jaw. Even restrained, though, Malcolm has the presence of mind to move with the blow, and though he is now spitting blood through swollen lips, he still stands.


    Enemy Actions:

    Varro
    Minor Action: Diplomacy to gain allies in the crowd
    --> Diplomacy Check: 22 SUCCESS
    Standard Action: Brawler's Punch against Malcolm
    --> Attack roll: 26 HIT!
    --> Damage roll: 14
    --> Malcolm is bloodied again.

    Angry Bystander 1
    Standard Action: Punch against Gracchus
    --> Attack roll: 18 MISS

    Angry Bystander 2
    Move Action: Shift to F4
    Standard Action: Grab Malcolm
    --> Attack roll: 19 HIT!


    Map (Round Two-and-a-bit):
    9zwzn4.jpg


    Status:
    (H4) Varro: AC 15; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 12; Speed 6.

    (G8) Angry Bystander 1: AC 15; Fort 13, Reflex 11, Will 11; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (F4) Angry Bystander 2: AC 15; Fort 13, Reflex 11, Will 11; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses

    (I6) Joseph Rochester: AC 20; Fort 17, Reflex 13, Will 14; Speed 5; Action Points 1.
    (G4) Malcolm Blackvein: AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 16, Will 16; Speed 6; Action Points 1.
    -- Grabbed: This time, the DC is only 11.
    -- Bloodied!
    (G7) Gracchus: AC 19; Fort 18, Reflex 13, Will 16; Speed 5; Action Points 1.

    (XX) Pious Bystander 1: DEAD!
    (J3) Pious Bystander 2: AC 15; Fort 13, Reflex 11, Will 11; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (I7) Pious Bystander 3: AC 15; Fort 13, Reflex 11, Will 11; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses


    (J6) Thug 1: AC 16; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 12; Speed 6.
    (J3) Thug 2: AC 16; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 12; Speed 6.


    (XX) Bystanders: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses


    [Up Next: Joseph, Malcolm, Gracchus] [On Deck: Pious Bystanders 1 and 2]

    Gideon on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    With a curse the malnourished civilian recoils from Gracchus, his hand wounded from its ill-conceived conflict with unyielding plate. Looking upon his new assailant Gracchus notices a poorly applied bandage across his nose. Rancid with dried blood and bent hideously out of shape it is obvious that his nose has recently been broken. With a snarl of sheer hate growing in the shadowed recesses of his helmet, Gracchus recognises this vagabond as one of the deviants he had previously disciplined. Evidently he had been too lenient in letting this creature live.

    It would not be a mistake that he would make twice.

    Distracted momentarily by the pain in his hand, the civilian lingers too long within Gracchus’ grasp. With surprising speed, Gracchus rams his head towards the man’s brow.

    Under the impact the civilians skull literally shatters, his entire frontal lobe becoming a gory red paste on Gracchus’ helmet. The body slumps to the floor like a stone, and twitches sickeningly with spasmodic neural impulses.

    Without pity, remorse or even considering the life he just took, Gracchus turns toward the remaining undecided members of the crowd. “The next man to cross me will not die so quickly.” He says gravely, his face a bloody testament to the sincerity of his words.
    Minor Action: Intimidate to gain allies in the crowd
    http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38614
    -> result is 11. Not sure how that plays out. Any chance of a bonus for being covered in a guys brains? :p

    Major Action: Headbut nearest Angry Bystander
    -> attack roll http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38613
    Natural 20! fella is dead.

    Move:
    none

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm is dazed, bloody, drunk. His vision spins wildly as he spits out blood.

    "Mother fucker."

    He struggles against the commoner holding him, and his attacker slowly comes back into focus. Varro was a much tougher brute than he expected. He needed to gain some distance, get the ape playing by his rules.

    With a sharp jerk Malcolm raises his leg up and back into his captor's groin. The kick hits with astounding force, freeing him as the soldier collapses to the ground, his future bloodline destroyed. The wizard wastes no time in retreating back through the mob of civilians. Bloodied and bruised though he is, Blackvein starts to work the crowd.

    "Boys! Comrades! Enough of this farce! You would support this peasent that stands before me? You would back the brute against the wizard Blackvein, the plunderer of maidens, the subject of countless songs and novellas? This is your chance to be part of the tale! Gentlemen, Blackvein does not forget his friends."

    He raises his hand, which almost crackles with arcane heat, and points directly at Varro.

    "Seize him."
    Standard action:Kicking civilian in the groin to escape grip
    Result:Attack roll: 20 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38615

    Move action:Retreated back 3 squares (G4 to E2)

    Minor action: Bluff check
    Result: 17 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38616

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Joseph closes his eyes for a moment, cleansing his mind of frustration and self-doubt.

    Think man, damn it. Remember what you are capable of. Remember what you can achieve. Remember who you were.

    He grits his teeth and all of a sudden he is the boy he once was, the battlefield becomes a game again. Nothing but a game... It's consequences insignificant, It's rewards appealing, a boyish game; a game he has mastered. He grips the halberd at perfect centre and charges, watching Varro's every movement as he sprints. He see's him notice, acknowledges his reaction, knows his response.

    Joseph twists to the left twisting the halberd high in the air, driving every ounce of his own momentum and force to the blade of his lance.

    It was time to wipe that cocky smirk right off the shit-heads' face.

    The halberd thunders down to find it's mark in Varro's shoulder.
    Move: 5 spaces, I-6 to H-3 (Flanking bonus achieved through pious bystander #3)
    Minor:
    Standard: Power Strike Melee attack against Varro.
    Results Description Melee Basic Attack vs AC
    Results 1d20+8: 10 [1d20=2]
    1d10+4: 10 [1d10=6]
    Add additional 6 points to D20 results, 4 from heroic effort racial bonus and 2 from flanking bonus.
    Brings the grand total to 16 HIT! (Thank the lord)
    ADD: Power Strike Bonus (Roll an extra D10 for Damage)
    Results: Description Power Strike
    1d10: 10 [1d10=10]
    Varro Takes: 20 Damage.

    Blakeney on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Something in the distance draws Joseph's attention.

    His jaw drops.

    "By the light," His voice is nothing above a whisper. "Not him..."

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Charging at Varro, in his mind nothing but deadly purpose, Joseph barely notices as the scowling thugs strike at him. Their knives find the gaps in his armour, but the scratches they make are not enough to distract him from his goal. Too late, Varro sees the halberd coming, and clumsily tries to block and punch at once. Far too late. As Joseph leaps past and behind him, the point of the halberd pierces deep into his shoulder.

    "Fuck, you old bastard! I thought y-- Aaagh! Fuck!"

    Varro tries a left hook, only to find that his arm is still hanging limply by his side. He tries again. For the first time, his face betrays not anger but genuine fear.

    Opportunity Attacks:
    Thug 1
    Opportunity Action: Opportunity Attack against Joseph
    --> Attack roll: 23 HIT!
    --> Damage roll: 6

    Thug 2
    Opportunity Action: Opportunity Attack against Joseph
    --> Attack roll: 20 HIT!
    --> Damage roll: 7

    Varro
    Opportunity Action: Opportunity Attack against Joseph
    --> Attack roll: 13 MISS

    "Kindly wait in line to die." Round Three.



    A thrill runs through the crowd. They'd been paralyzed with terror since seeing their slightly braver (and much more foolhardy) compatriot reduced to a bloody pulp by the hulking templar, and Varro's imminent demise has resolved whatever conflicted loyalties remained. In belated response to Malcolm's command, two bystanders grab the bloody and newly-fearful Varro, forcing him to his knees.

    The thugs see this unfold, realise that it's too late to change sides, and decide that the best place to be is anywhere but here. The second thug moves carefully away from the allies around Varro, and then flees through the crowd. When Thug 1 tries to escape, though, one of the crowd members tries to detain him, and a scuffle breaks out. The thug breaks free and makes his way warily towards the crowd, only to find his way blocked by a steel-clad giant, covered in gore.

    He tries to swallow on a sandpaper throat, and decides to attempt a parley. "...Um."

    Varro struggles in vain against the onlookers who had, until very recently, been cheering him on. With every movement, more blood pumps from the gaping wound to his shoulder. With desperate rage he growls at Malcolm, "Of course you... you have to get your flunkies to do the work for you. Still can't take me on your own, I... aagh!... I know that."


    Ally Actions:
    Pious Bystander 2
    Standard Action: Grab Thug 1
    --> Attack roll: 7 MISS

    Pious Bystander 3
    Standard Action: Grab Varro
    --> Attack roll: 7 MISS

    Pious Bystander 4
    Move Action: Shift to I3
    Standard Action: Grab Varro
    --> Attack roll: 15 HIT!

    Enemy Actions:

    Thug 1
    Move Action: Shift to I6
    Move Action: Shift to H7

    Thug 2
    Move Action: Shift to K2
    Move Action: Run to ??

    Varro
    Move Action: Attempt to escape the bystanders' grab.
    --> Athletics check: 6 UNSUCCESSFUL
    Standard Action: Ready an attack

    Map (Round Three):
    2wfqvbd.jpg

    Status:
    (H4) Varro: AC 15; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 12; Speed 6.
    -- Grabbed: Ecape DC 11.
    -- Bloodied and battered!


    (H3) Joseph Rochester: AC 20; Fort 17, Reflex 13, Will 14; Speed 5; Action Points 1.
    (F3) Malcolm Blackvein: AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 16, Will 16; Speed 6; Action Points 1.
    -- Bloodied!
    (G7) Gracchus: AC 19; Fort 18, Reflex 13, Will 16; Speed 5; Action Points 1.

    (J3) Pious Bystander 2: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (I7) Pious Bystander 3: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (I7) Pious Bystander 4: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses

    (J3) Thug 1: AC 16; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 12; Speed 6.

    (XX) Bystanders: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses

    We remember these brave souls...
    (XX) Pious Bystander 1: Picked the wrong fight.
    (XX) Angry Bystander 1: A red smear on the ground, skullbits alongside.
    (XX) Angry Bystander 2: Twitching on the ground, clutching his ruined NADs.
    (XX) Thug 2: Smartly fled.


    [Up Next: Joseph, Malcolm, Gracchus] [On Deck: Pious Bystanders 2, 3 and 4]

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm looks again at Metella, who has watched the carnage with a broken, distant gaze. A blood splattered angel who hadn't even strength left to weep. Varro was now on his knees, bloodied and bound. His face and deeds were an effigy of times past, times that the now great wizard would never speak of. Nights spent as a boy huddled in fear, listening to the cries of his mother, the crunch of her bone as his father wailed on her, fuelled by a darkness more powerful than any light he had ever seen. His mother would come to his room, smearing his sheets with blood as she clinged to her child and wept. Malcolm remembered the smell of his fathers flesh as he incinerated him. Remembered the screams of his mother who despite everything could not handle the loss of her tormentor. Remembered as she denounced her son in the name of the father, casting him out with words and tears of venom.

    Almost without realising, Malcolm has taken a step towards Varro, his hands blazing white with volcanic heat. With searing fists he ploughs into Varro's face, his own alive with fury. He punches in one of his eyes, shatters his nose, practically detaches his bottom jaw. He grabs Varro around either side of the head and screams, his hands exploding in a fierce eruption. Through it all, Malcolm is almost weeping.
    Move: 1 step shift towards Varro
    Minor: History check, recalling pain of his past
    Result: 18 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38789
    Success! The fury evoked by recalling his past grants Malcolm +4 to his damage roll
    Standard: Burning Hands
    Result: 24 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38785
    Attack hits!
    Damage: 13 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38787 + 4 from history check
    TOTAL DAMAGE: 17

    Blackvein on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Silent as the grave, Gracchus reaches for the thug standing in front of him, immense steel clad gauntlets swiftly filling the villains vision. His skull is locked between Gracchus' palms, and is pulled close enough to the zealot for the stench of gore to become overwhelming.

    "Repent!" Hisses Gracchus, his fingers beginning to bore into his captives eyeballs. "Swear by the catechism of obedience and the sacred stones that light our lives to leave this life of petty sin and i will let you live. Deny me, and i will purify your soul by the quickest means i know."
    Minor Action:
    Grab check, strength vs Refex (need 14)
    Result: 24 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38888
    Major Action:
    Intimidate to get the thug to go home and rethink his life.
    Result: 9 (natural 1) http://4e.orokos.com/roll/38889

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    A gust of wind blows across the bloodstained road, carrying the fearful gasps of a shocked crowd away from Joseph as Gracchus bellows his zealotry.

    The brief rays of Joseph's former self fade away as quickly as they came, the charred and annihilated corpse of Varro brings dark clouds of fear and uncertainty flooding back into the old soldiers' mind. Something snaps.

    The inevitable consequences dawn upon him like thunder as his brash confidence gives way to sudden panic.

    He had forgotten himself. He shouldn't have allowed it to go this far. The man may have been scum, but he enlisted, a soldier! A beating was all he intended to give! Hadn't he killed a helpless man just this morning for suggesting the very actions he had only been too eager to perform?

    Blood begins to seep through a gash in his arm where a thug had slashed at him.

    Suddenly the Halberd, still dripping with Varro's blood, becomes too heavy for Joseph's hand and it clatters to the ground.

    He stands still, the crowd hushed into nervous silence by the exertions of his comrades.

    Any trace of the man that drove a weapon into the shoulder of a thug some moments ago has vanished. In his place stands a old man with a posture that speaks only of defeat and a foolish look of astonishment upon his weathered face.
    You've called the Rochester residence, Joseph isn't at home right now. Feel free to leave a message.
    He takes no action.

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Varro has no time to scream, no time to react at all. As the wizard pounds his face, hands heated by fury, the brawler's skin chars and sloughs off. White bone blackens. The crowd watches in silent horror as all life is beaten out of the corpse. When Malcolm finally lets it fall awkwardly to the ground, no-one moves.

    The final thug seems frozen until a movement at the crowd's extreme rear breaks the stillness. Suddenly he is struggling, twisting against Gracchus' grip. He is free, but still terrified by the bloodstained behemoth who was so near to destroying him. Now between Gracchus and the quarry's edge, his choice is clear. He steps back.

    Behind Malcolm, there is a jingle of harness and a few curt orders. The crowd parts.


    Enemy Actions:
    Thug 1
    Move Action: Attempt to escape from Gracchus' grasp
    --> Acrobatics check: 12 FAIL
    Move Action: Struggle again against Gracchus' grasp
    --> Acrobatics check: 22 SUCCESS!
    --> Shift one square towards the pit (I6).

    Status:
    (H3) Joseph Rochester: AC 20; Fort 17, Reflex 13, Will 14; Speed 5; Action Points 1.
    (F3) Malcolm Blackvein: AC 15; Fort 12, Reflex 16, Will 16; Speed 6; Action Points 1.
    -- Bloodied!
    (G7) Gracchus: AC 19; Fort 18, Reflex 13, Will 16; Speed 5; Action Points 1.

    (J3) Pious Bystander 2: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (I7) Pious Bystander 3: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses
    (I3) Pious Bystander 4: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses

    (J3) Thug 1: AC 16; Fort 12, Reflex 14, Will 12; Speed 6.

    (XX) Bystanders: AC 17; Fort 15, Reflex 13, Will 13; Speed 6.
    -- Mob Rule: When two other allied Bystanders are within five squares, the Bystander gets a +2 bonus to all defenses

    The Dead
    (XX) Pious Bystander 1: Picked the wrong fight.
    (XX) Angry Bystander 1: A red smear in the dirt, skullbits alongside.
    (XX) Angry Bystander 2: Twitching on the ground, clutching his ruined NADs.
    (XX) Thug 2: Smartly fled.
    (XX) Varro: Malcolm burned his FACE/OFF

    "Kindly wait in line to die." Encounter Over.


    2qtjo2f.gif2qtjo2f.gif2qtjo2f.gif


    Striding through the crowd is a man in the white robe and purple cloak of the Brothers-Commander. Unlike most of those exalted brethren he has made some concession to armour; he wears an intricately and delicately engraved pauldron on his left shoulder, steel so light it seems like silver. Lightly armoured though he is, you suspect that the burly guards flanking him may well be for show, for he walks far out ahead of them, and in the midst of the fearful and angry crowd his face betrays no fear.

    Indeed, he seems calm as he surveys the scene: Blood-spattered combatants, three corpses (one mangled, one badly burned), one cowering girl, and a crowd whose fear can barely hide its belligerence. He has now reached the centre of the circle, and pauses. Through the calm, you may perhaps see that in his steely gaze there is a rage, hard-edged.

    All three of you recognise him. He is Artemis Harbridge, one of the army's greatest commanders and a priest of the Light.

    "What has happened here, my brothers? What dark deeds are these?" He turns, and addresses the whole crowd. "How is it that we have allowed ourselves to be torn apart like this? Are we not all brothers walking, even now, in the light?"

    No-one answers.

    "You must speak for yourselves! Tell me I am deceived. Tell me things are not as they appear!"

    He sighs, and still no-one responds.


    29mon4n.jpg
    "What dark deeds are these?"



    "No matter the reason for this tragedy, it is totally unacceptable. Do none of you have any explanation?"

    He stands, waiting, in the middle of the circle. His hand rests on what you know to be a small projectile weapon attached to his belt. He does not otherwise appear to be armed.



    OOC
    You all recognise Artemis Harbridge, and you all know him to occupy a place in the lofty heights of the army's heirarchy. To find out more specific information, you'd need to roll a check. History, Religion, Streetwise would all be appropriate.

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm, spent from his annihilation of Varro and his rapidly decreasing sobriety, looks at Harbridge with weary disinterest. The wizard is still reeling from the painful reawakening of his memories, and he again seeks comfort in a deep swig from his magically replenishing flask. Ever aware of his audience, Malcolm's swagger returns, turning to face Harbridge and almost stumbling in his steps. His speech is slurred, his breath more bourbon than air.

    "Nothing to see here, brother. We were doing the light's work."

    Malcolm barely suppresses a giggle.

    "These dogs had to be put down. We were happy to oblige."

    Blackvein looks Harbridge up and down. As well as being extraordinarily jealous of his robes, he thinks back to campfire talk about the man, rumours he has heard amongst the common whores and soldiers, to try and get a better read on his superior.
    Action: Streetwise check
    Result: 21 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/39021

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Confronted with the regal presence of his superior, Joseph immediately drops with military reflex down to one knee.

    "Sir! I, Joseph Rochester, officer of the Scarlet Brigade was the highest ranking soldier present at these dealings. I take complete and total responsibility for the actions of the subordinates under my charge. The deceased soldiers before you brought it upon themselves to make a spectacle out of endangering the life of the young woman behind me. Their actions were innapropriate, reckless and unbecoming the duties of a soldier. However, the severity of my actions under these circumstances overshadow their own. "

    He pauses.

    "It is a tradition sir, of the brigade under which is serve, to offer defense to any lady who finds themselves in need of protection, should the soldier be in a position to offer it. I willingly upheld this practice but intended no lethal harm come to the man at my feet. The ferocity of my attacks escalated, and in a moment of mental abstraction, completely unacceptable for a soldier of my rank and experience, I struck this man down. I desire nothing but the reward of a villain. With whatever worth remains within my word, I vouch for the actions of the wizard, they were completely correct given their prompting."

    Blakeney on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Gracchus turns slowly; he had never thought to hear Brother-Captain Harbridge’s voice in person. The man was a legend to Gracchus – a saint practically. He was the immaculate savior of mankind – resplendent in his purity and his purpose. It was his words that had alerted Gracchus to this Dragon Born menace, this terrible danger to our sanctity. His speeches were carried to the dregs of human society by zealous missionaries, awed by the magnitude of their holy task. Gracchus had heard their call, and on the next morning left for war.

    And now he stood before Gracchus, as splendorous in flesh as he was in the tales and poems dedicated to his holy career.

    “You forget yourself Wizard!” screams Gracchus, amazed by the impiety of the drunkard. He moves towards the living saint, unsure of how close he could stand to the man. The thug is utterly forgotten as Gracchus kneels before Harbridge, removing his helmet and looking intently at the mans feet.

    “My lord..” begins Gracchus, his voice rich with nervousness and childlike wonder. “They.. they were scum. They flaunted their sins and sought to corrupt the minds of those around them.” He speaks quickly and to the ground, like a child chastised. “I meant only to protect the purity of our mission, the sanctity of our soldiers!” He looks up at Harbridge now, his eyes begging for approval. “Had I known this would displease you, I never would have proceeded.”

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm
    Artemis Harbridge is spoken of in hushed tones, even so far from the vanguard where he spends almost all of his time. You have heard that while he and Marshal Bartholomew are technically co-commanders of this campaign, Harbridge is the one who makes most of the decisions.

    One decision he apparently did not make was the decision to station riders from the Scarlet Brigade on the flanks of the baggage train to stop raids against its civilians.

    After Malcolm has spoken, Brother Harbridge continues to stare at him for longer than is perhaps necessary.

    He turns away, and looks to the horizon. "Mister Blackvein, in deference to the strain of your recent exertions I will set aside the lightness of your tone. But please listen. As soldiers of the Light and honourary brethren, these men were entitled to due process. No matter what their supposed offense." He looks down at the crowd and raises his voice. "A hearing! Law! What else is is separates us from the savages?" He whirls around on Malcolm, the force of his gaze transfixing. "Tell me you have understood."

    Before Malcolm can respond, Joseph is down on one knee, delivering his apology. Harbridge considers him dispassionately. He gives a little nod when Joseph mentions the girl (now being tended by one of the bystanders) and smiles slightly, without humour. He is about to answer when he notices a hulking figure gazing at him with childlike wonder through a helmet liberally smeared with gore. As Gracchus speaks, Harbridge smiles with real feeling and more than a little humour.

    "Your piety is without question, my child, as is your zeal. And while your actions have displeased me, the nobility of your intention is beyond doubt. Impetuousity is the province of youth; who among us is born wise?"

    Harbridge places a reassuring hand on Gracchus' shoulder before straightening and turning to the rest of the crowd. "It is the role of our elders and superiors to guide us to wisdom. Sadly, it would seem that both have failed you today." The crowd cowers before his gaze, but it is on Joseph that his eyes come to rest. He does not even glance at Malcolm.

    "Lieutenant Rochester has more reason to hate the abominations that lurk in darkness than any of you here. More reason, perhaps, than I." Harbridge approaches Joseph's kneeling figure. He now stands far too close for comfort. "He has as much reason to hate as does our great commander, Marshal Bartholomew. Doesn't he? But while the Marshal now wields the greatest light ever known against our foes, Joseph here..." He shakes his head in disappointment.

    Harbridge turns from Joseph towards the girl and, without pause, grabs her by the hair, drags her to the circle's centre, draws and fires his weapon.
    33v1yx5.jpg



    Wreathed by smoke, the girl's head is nothing but a gory mess. She lies spreadeagled, her dress ripped open. Joseph's kneeling figure is her only shield. The crowd are shocked into silence by the retort of the pistol.

    Harbridge slowly kneels in front of Gracchus and speaks loud enough for the whole crowd to hear.

    "Look at me, child. You know what the Light demands, I can see. You know the purity, the purpose. You knew that was these men were doing was not right, and you were correct. But in your youth and your zeal you thought no further, and did not stop to reflect."

    Harbridge strokes the side of Gracchus' head, covering his hand with blood. He stands.

    "Consider, my brothers, the mission that has been entrusted to us. It is the defense of our people from the greatest threat we have faced since the days of darkness, before our holy ancestors first discovered the Light. The Dragonborn beasts are more cunning and savage than any of you can imagine. Their thirst for blood is never quenched, their hunger for destruction never sated. You have heard stories of the villages lost to them, I know, but few of you have seen what was left behind, as I have. They burn all, and they devour... all."

    "That is the true threat: Darkness more terrible than any since The First Light! It is upon us! It waits behind those mountains! It is our task to cleanse it from the world, and the sanctity of that purpose has purified us all; we are brothers now. The horror of our enemy has made us all holy. It is only by our collective efforts that we soldiers of Light can succeed in a task of this magnitude, and so the loss of any of our number is a tragedy beyond reckoning. Think to later today: When a Dragonborn beast is bearing down on you, its eyes burning with rage and hunger, where will these men be? Will their swords be there to protect you, to protect the Light?"


    Harbridge walks over to the stricken Joseph.

    "And what of this woman you were so eager to protect, what is her purpose here? Has she come to fight this great threat beside us? Does she wish to dispel this great shadow? Will she pass through this darkness beside us? No. No, she is motivated by the basest of impulses; she desires nothing but money! Her mere presence here has set us against one another, and has threatened the success of the most important task of our lives!"

    Brother Harbridge closes his eyes and holsters his pistol. He speaks once again to Gracchus.

    "All who vanquish the darkness are holy. And none else. Never forget that."

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm is stunned, horrified. The girl had hit the ground dead before he could even blink. He realised now that Harbridge was a most dangerous beast; faith channelled into cold, unbridled purpose. The templar too that kneeled before him, covered in gore and practically weeping with joy at the scene before him. Gracchus was a weapon of ignorance and zeal, and the wizard knew all too well the damage he could bring.

    Reckless with drink and burning anger, Malcolm almost launches into combat then and there. He looks Harbridge dead on.

    "You pious little shit!"

    Yet he refrains, barely, realizing the incredible odds stacked against him. If Harbridge didn't kill him the brute Gracchus would; his crush on Harbridge was already dangerous. Malcolm was magnificent yes, but he didn't so much fancy a suicide.

    Though battered and bruised, Malcolm's anger had given him new life. And though he tempered his fury now, Malcolm knew without any fear and doubt that Harbridge would one day die by his hand, and his alone.
    Second wind: Malcolm's rage and purpose has invigorated him. +6 HP. No longer bloodied!

    Blackvein on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Harbridges’ words slip like liquid velvet into Gracchus’ mind. They are hypnotic, captivating and unnervingly persuasive. Gracchus had always considered the man to be a veritable prophet, infinitely well versed in holy law and beyond reproach in his aims and methods. It had been upon his example that Gracchus had built his life’s work. As he cleaned organs and reverently polished stain glass windows in the local chapel he had heard whispers of Harbridges militant philosophy, and had turned his aptitude for street violence to a higher calling to be a part of the cleaner world. Through third parties, Harbridge had been enough to redefine everything Gracchus thought or believed, but in person the effect was greatly magnified. The intensity, the passion, the zeal, the cold, unyielding purpose that tempered it and the dauntless purpose that drove Harbridge left little doubt in Gracchus mind. The man did not merely act as an ambassador for the light; he was a creature of it – imbued with its power and glory. Harbridge was in the most literal sense worth of worship. After all, what doubt could there be after he had so effortlessly summoned his will and ended the whores’ filthy existence in a bark of pure judgement?

    Gracchus touched the side of his head where Harbridge had laid his hand. Where his divine flesh had made union with the blood Gracchus had spilt. It was a blessing, a mark of power and favour that Gracchus would not take lightly. He had been given a mission, instructions on how to please his deity. For now, judgement must be set aside in favour of the long road to salvation. Each man who bore arms against the unclean was holy, and their lives must be spared that they may combat the darkness – no matter their sin.

    Even given this revelation, it was all Gracchus could do not to bring his hammer down upon Malcolm and end his heresy at the source. Light knows this was not the first time Gracchus had considered delivering the final solution to Malcolm. But if Harbridge desired restraint, then it would be exercised. There were other options.

    Gracchus moves toward Malcolm, facing him dead on. He moves far too close for comfort, placing his hand on the wizards shoulder and holding his helmet by his side. It is obvious that the helmet in his free hand could be used as a blunt weapon.

    “Malcolm, you would do well to show respect to your superiors, or failing that simply keep your mouth shut.”

    He looks into Malcolm’s eyes with an unmistakeable intensity, but also with a serenity that was not present before.

    “You have such potential. You merely need to be taught not to squander it on your flippant hedonism. I will try to save you.”

    As Gracchus says this, his face contorts into a smile that is equal parts sanguine and malicious.

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm is taken aback by the gore covered boy before him, whose scarred face held blue eyes not dissimilar to his own. He disliked being so close to this zealot, and loathed even more the fact that he would patronise him in front of so many. Malcolm leans in towards Gracchus, spitting in his ear.

    "Don't fucking touch me boy"

    Blackvein then directs his words to the crowd.

    "I've heard enough of this sermon! I do not answer to a peasent, particularly one who speaks like an old woman on her way home from worship. I fight in this war for the coin and spoils it gives me. I will fight the dragonborn and I will win, but keep your light mongering to yourselves. I've got enough of a headache already."

    Blackvein on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The crowd's hush is almost oppressive. This is far more entertaining than the other guy... Varrus? Whatever. Malcolm Blackvein, master of the arcane, versus the holy and fearsome Brother Artemis Harbridge (and his protégé). What a showdown!

    They tense, waiting for a reaction, but Harbridge simply smiles.

    "So speaks a soldier of the Light."

    He looks over to where Gracchus and Malcolm stand, "A greater salvation than from drink and petty vice awaits us. Leave him, child."

    Harbridge calls to one of his hulking attendants, who still wait at the edge of the crowd. "Cossus! Stay behind to assist Lieutenant Rochester and his friend; they should bury their dead. Leave the girl." He turns to Gracchus, and looks at him steadily. "Ride with me, my boy."

    Harbridge strides off through the crowd.

    Gideon on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Joseph, who has maintained a weary silence throughout this entire ordeal, waits until the two are out of earshot before finally raising his bowed head and lifting himself to his feet.

    "Well master Blackvein, regarding your piety comment; I doubt i could agree more."

    He brushes himself off and turns, only to come face to face with the hulking mass of the attendant; Cossus.

    Joseph attempts a dignified nod, which rapidly becomes a sheepish smile that he tries to cover with a cough.

    "It's certainly good to know you Cossus."

    He extends his hand.

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The man looks at Joseph's outstretched hand, taken aback. He salutes, stiffly. "Sir. What would you have me do?"

    The crowd has begun to disperse. It seems that, for the moment at least, the show may be over.

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Malcolm wonders aloud;

    "What the fuck's their problem?"

    Blatantly ignoring his orders he walks over to the girl, who lay with a pool of blood still seeping from her skull. He looks down at her with genuine regret.

    "I'm sorry darlin'. You deserved better."

    He gives her a private toast with his flask.

    Blackvein on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The whiskey burns on its way down, but Malcolm's head remains stubbornly clear. A breeze blows by the girl's corpse, whipping its bloodstained hair over the ruined face.


    Drink Check
    Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude (12 + 5 due to 'Holds His Drink' feat). 13 FAIL
    --> Malcolm remains sober. He suffers no penalties and gains no bonuses.
    OOC
    This will be considered a 'short rest'. Those of you who were damaged in the last fight (just Malcolm, I think) can now spend Healing Surges freely to get back up to maximum health. For Malcolm, that'd take two more healing surges. Be aware, though, that Healing Surges are a limited resource, and Mal has only six per day. He's used two already (one with the potion, one with his Second Wind).

    Gideon on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    There is little that Grachus desires more in this world than to follow Harbridge, and upon his last sentence he has already begun to think of himself as the brother-captain's protege. His excitement quickly turns to nervousness, he does not wish to embarrass himself.

    He has never ridden a horse.

    it is clear that Harbridge has orded Cossus to stay behind to allow Gracchus to assume his place by Harbridge's side. Failure now would be catastrophic. Gracchus looks at the beast he has been beckoned to. The horse is flanked in steel, with little flesh visible beneath it armoured shell. Over the vibrant layer of the polished steel cloth has been draped over the majestic creature, deep red and black displaying the symbols of the church and Harbridge's heraldry. A quick glance towards the horse's eyes confirms an unexpected level of intelligence. It's wary stance - posied on the verge of explosive action speaks volume for its' training. This is a warhorse. A creature bred for war. It is likely more disciplined than most of the foolish men ambling around it.

    Gracchus moves toward the horse as tentaively as he can without betraying his own nerves. He comes to stand next to it, its' eyes regarding him with a cool, bestial intelligence. "hush now" says Gracchus, assuming this is how one talks to a steed. "Bear with me in this, and we may both be able to acheive great things."

    Gracchus takes hold of the saddle and begins to pull himself up. He attempts to convince himself that this will be easy. After all, if the drunkard Malcolm can do this, how difficult can it be?
    Dice roll: 2 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/39570
    This was to attempt to ride the horse. I have no idea what kind of check to use here so i've just rolled a d20, Gideon can add or subtract or whatever to his hearts content here. Though i don't think a 2 will go very far. Just wanted the result to be out of my hands here

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    "I apologise Cossus, if you harbour sentiment toward that... Man... But I cannot believe that Harbridge is right to judge the impoverished in such a way. Survival was this girls' only impulse, and working to sustain it was her only crime."

    The light may embody purity, but not all who serve it are pure of a heart, he thinks.

    Joseph contemplates the corpse a moment.

    "The urge to defy that man is great indeed. But such feelings aside, we must look to what is right. She was a civilian, not a soldier, I will not simply leave her where she is. A burial of some manner is in order. Master Blackvein, Mr Cossus? What do you believe is correct?"

    Blakeney on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Malcolm turns to Joseph. He had dismissed him at first as an old fool, yet he saw him now to be an honest, stalwart man. Not exactly the wizard's type, but worthy of a drink at least. Malcolm offers him his flask.

    "You look like a man who's seen too many winters. This should help."

    He turns to Cossus.

    "You, um, Cos, er, Cosman. Set about making a proper grave for this girl. Ignore the others, just bury her, and do it right."

    He turns back to Rochester.

    "Now Joe. Tell me everything you know about Harbridge."
    Though it is a small rest, the break from combat is doing Malcolm good. His bleeding has ceased and his cuts have begun to scab over. Varro's punches have left him with a left black eye. Healing surge +6HP

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The taste of warm milk and honey floods Joseph's mouth, he eyes the flask with surprise.

    "I know the man by reputation, largely. Although I have had one experience, enough experience with the man, to know that reputation is valid. Quite some time ago.

    Joseph bites his lip nervously.

    "He's exceptionally intelligent, exceptionally resourceful and dangerously charismatic to those with even a fraction of piety in their souls. His ability to fan the flames of faith and call men to take up arms, sending them to their graves is nothing short of terrifying. And cunning, terribly terribly cunning. I'd put those thoughts of revenge out of your mind master Blackvein, for now at least. The man has almost every royal and noble backing his little crusades. The Scarlet Brigade has been stationed on the border Dragonborn territory for some time now. Occasionally they would strike out if we ventured too close, ventured where they felt we didn't belong, but such clashes were never unprecedented. They have shown no hostile intentions, they keep to themselves. Our presence here is, in my mind, an intrusion. The Crown had never shown any desire towards conquest of the Dragonborn or their territories. At least until Harbridge started to speak against them."

    "He was never stationed with us, he's never seen these beasts before. And yet here we are, poised ready to deliver the killing blow to a foe we know nothing about. "

    Again he glances down at the bloodied corpse of the young girl.

    "He keeps his motives to himself, and for that he is dangerous."

    "And yet, I owe him my life."

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Cossus kneels briefly by each corpse while the two of you discuss Harbridge, his lord and ward. He closes each one's eyes, such as remain, and whispers vaguely-familiar pieties. They sound sincere. When he is finished he makes no move to bury either the girl or her attackers. Instead, he walks towards the two of you.

    As soon as he is within earshot he stops, stiffly, and salutes. "Sirs, what would you have me use to bury them? I have no tools."

    His eyes give lie to his tone; in them there is now no deference at all.

    The crowd have, by now, almost entirely dispersed. You are all a very long way behind the head of the army column. The occasional straggler passes you, but no-one else.

    faac6o.gif


    Gracchus heaves on the saddle's horn with all of his considerable strength. For a brief, beautiful moment, he feels himself leave the ground until, too soon, the saddle seems to twist in his hands as the beast snorts and shies, dumping him unceremoniously to the ground.

    He hears Harbridge laughing indulgently. "I am sorry, my boy, I had no idea! Of course you have little experience with horses. I should never have assumed otherwise."

    Harbridge walks over to Gracchus, who still lies in the dust. "See the stirrup? You must place your foot in that, and then push up strongly. Only hold the saddle lightly, for guidance. Get up. Try again."

    Brother Harbridge walks over to his own horse and mounts effortlessly.

    Gideon on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Gracchus is more grateful to be wearing a helmet than he has ever been before in his life. As he picks himself up of the ground his face is as deep a scarlet as any of the crusades banners, and he is thankful that his armour has saved him at least this one tiny shred of dignity.

    He follows Harbridge's guidance diligently, with the quiet precision of any holy rite. Atop the beast he struggles with his bulk and confusedly paws the reigns. Yet he holds his balance, and tries to mimic Harbridge's posture.

    "What is your command my lord?" He says, enjoying his sudden increased height. "Where shall the hand of the righteous fall?"

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Malcolm looks at Cossus with a scornful disinterest, irritated by his completely rational concerns.

    "I don't care how you do it, just get it the fuck done."

    He turns back to Joseph, intrigued by his tale.

    "What's Harbridge to you Joe? How did that pompous dickweed get your life in his debt? This war is getting more irritating by the second."

    Blackvein on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Cossus turns slowly from the magician and walks back towards the corpses. He pauses and stiffens again when he hears "dickweed". With a great show of self-control, he withdraws his hand from his sword, and walks calmy away.

    Gideon on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    "Very well, you fight beside me, it's only fair you know something of me. After all, not everyone has their exploits in bed and battle sung of in taverns, eh?"

    Joseph grins.

    "When i was younger, I was held in court martial. It's fairly common knowledge amongst the soldiers. Such was the nature of my offence that it was not simply military officers who were to oversee my case. Representatives from the church were also present. They call them Tribunals of Integrity, they are more common now, but back then they were scarce."

    "When the time came for my ruling, only two men stood beside me. The first was the man who had served under me as my first lieutenant, the man you know as Marshall Bartholomew. The second was a man I had never met before, that man was Harbridge. He listened to my entire story, and when the time came to cross examine my testimony- well- he twists words- Master Blackvein. He would focus on certain aspects of my story and completely disregard those that were incriminating. When he did address my guilt it was only momentary, to humanise me and to insinuate his own lack of bias. Controlling that tribunal was terrifyingly effortless for him. Had he been against me i wouldn't have stood a chance, but however severe my crimes were, it was his intention that I should live and so here i stand."

    He clenches his fist tightly, then shakes his head.

    "I find it exceptionally hard to count myself lucky, living in the debt of a man like that. Not that he has ever asked anything of me. But a dangerous man nonetheless, there is a hidden motive behind everything."

    Joseph turns.

    Cossus, boy! Would you care for some help over there?"

    Blakeney on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Malcolm listened to Rochester with little regard for his past tribulations, yet he hung on each word spoken of this Brother Harbridge. He could not help but feel his own ego slighted by the praise of this man's oratory prowess. Blackvein was gripped with the desire to prove himself better, to ruin Harbridge for his arrogance and for his cold blooded murder of the girl, who lay dead like a broken monument to his fathers sins. His mind raced also back to the gold pendants spoke of before, of the dead soldier who made him promise vengeance. His head throbbed from Varro's beating as well as the hangover he'd been running from, yet he found himself filled with something he so rarely held; purpose.

    The girl would be avenged. The dragonborn spoils would be his. This war could be won yet.

    Blackvein on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Riding ahead of Gracchus, Harbridge turns without effort.

    "Child, the greatest challenge that the pious face is restraint. To you, now, there is so much that seems ugly and sinful. Not all that is unrighteous can be cleansed with a blow of the hammer." He slows his horse to come alongside Gracchus. "The man at the quarry was sinful and base, it is true, but he was also strong and courageous. We needed his strength to destroy the Dragonborn, just as we need yours. Do you understand?"

    "Tomorrow we fight the corruption and vice of those riding with us. But tomorrow. Today, we fight only the Dragonborn." Harbridge looks back to Gracchus. "One enemy at a time, young one. Otherwise, rushing in all directions, we end where we started and nothing is gained. Today, this hammer falls on the Dragonborn. Five thousand men..." He sighs, and smiles. "If you fight bravely, it will be enough."

    faac6o.gif


    Cossus walks back over to Joseph and Malcolm. A single, large grave is visible behind him. He stands at attention.

    "I have buried the bodies, sirs. All of them."

    He seems uncomfortable, and looks away.

    "You must know, sirs, that I am obliged to report to Brother Harbridge. I hope you understand me." He starts to walk up the path, toward the army.

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    The morning had been rough on Mal; he'd been beaten to a near pulp, been confronted by a past he did anything to forget, and his hangover was becoming more visceral by the second. As the shock of the encounter with Varro dulled however, his ease returned, and his diplomatic mind told him that he had been too harsh on Harbridge's whipping boy. Best keep all parties happy for now...

    Malcolm called out to Cossus as he strode away.

    "Brother Cossus! Forgive me for my bluntness. Getting a flurry of fists sometimes dampens my usual sunny disposition. Thank you for burying the girl; it is clear that you are a loyal man, and Blackvein does not forget."

    Malcolm pulled a single gold coin from the satchel strapped to his exquisitely crafted leather belt. He casually flicks it over to Cossus, and it lands before him with almost arcane precision...

    Blackvein on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Gracchus listened attentively to the demagogues’ words, struggling to understand the place he held in Brother-Commander Harbridges’ vision. His only skills were violence, his only trade death, and his chief virtue was the ability tobring those upon the wicked in the name of the light – how was he now to show restraint? If he was not retribution, what was he? All he knew was that he had become ashamed of the blood dried to his helmet, and he wished to meet the Brothers’ expectations.

    “Holy Lord.” Began Gracchus, his tone and posture uncharacteristically demure. “I remember well the words your emissaries gave as they summoned this mighty host. They told the crowd that security was the greatest virtue, for without it all others hold no meaning.”

    Gracchus pauses briefly, struggling to remember the preaching tours that had moved him from house and home. He has only moderate success, and when the words come they come quickly, passionate and littered with small inaccuracies.

    “Even the most pure heart is of little use in a dead body, for if we cannot spread the virtue in our souls we have failed the light. Therefore our chief concern must be to cleanse the aberration. To ensure the security of our lands. To bring the dominance of man to this world.”

    He raises his visor now, and looks the directly into the eyes of the holy man.

    “I would rather share this world with these whore-mongers than even the most pure of these abominations we hunt, but surely some crimes are not past judgement? There is a scout in this company by the name of Felix, who stabbed a comrade so he could take a dragonborn artefact into his possession – a crime so vile even the wizard saw the impiety of it and swore to avenge the fallen soldier. If we allow this blatant blasphemy to go unpunished, if we allow this man to bring the taint of the dragonborn with him, what purpose does this crusade have?”

    Gracchus spurs his horse forward, violently lurching the beast to be beside Brother Harbridge.

    “Grant me your sigil and your authority on this matter and I will see it resolved with the restraint you desire. What sacrilegious damage Felix has done will be repaired as best it can, and he shall be dealt with quietly. The unity of this crusade shall not be threatened.”

    Gracchus fights to keep his horse under control, and eventually wins. He feels immense pride at this, showing Brother Harbridge he can learn quickly.

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Harbridge frowns slightly at the mention of the scout and his stolen artefact. "Thank you for telling me of this scout, my son. Any attempt to spread the fury and darkness of the Dragonborn would be a hideous crime; it would strike at the heart of this mission and make mockery of all our efforts and all our sacrifice."

    He looks past Gracchus to the treeline, brow furrowed. "And yet, child, I fear that you may be too quick to judge this scout. Surely he is a sinner, but his sin may be simple greed. For his sake, I hope that he intends nothing more than to sell this item as any thief would. Perhaps he is concerned for nothing more than its gold or silver content. Better a petty thief than a heathen and darkman: better for him and better for all."

    Harbridge wheels his horse around, and comes to a stop in front of Gracchus, who once again must fight to bend the horse to his will.

    "Today, you and the two officers of the Scarlet will be given a particular mission. The time for that briefing will come later, but I have another task for you. If you come across this scout, take the artifact from him. Do not use violence. Until we know otherwise, he is no more than a common thief. Like the whore-mongers, today he is our ally. If he wants money, this should be sufficient." Harbridge reaches into a saddlebag and hands you a small (but heavy) pouch.

    He studies Gracchus for a second. "You ride well for one still so young. But your mount knows your inexperience. In battle it will buck and kick and fight you. You are its best defense and still it will turn on you, fearing you as it fears everything. It would be best not to ride it into battle at all— unless, of course, there was some dire need."

    Harbridge smiles grimly, and goads his horse into a canter.

    "Report to me after Captain Carax's speech. Bring Lieutenant Rochester and Blackvein with you!"

    He disappears up the road, joining his bodyguard. Soon enough, the two of them are lost to sight amid the dust and the mob.

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    Cossus stops. He looks for a moment, and then turns back around to Malcolm and Joseph.

    "Master wizard, your apology is welcome, as is your seeming sincerity. This, however," he draws his sword and brings it down on the gold piece at his feet, "Is both insulting and unwise. I shall keep your apology well in mind, but this..."

    With a quick flick of his blade, the gold piece goes flying away towards the quarry.

    "...it did not happen. Good day." He sheathes his sword and goes to walk away, but then remembers: "Good day, sirs."

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Malcolm smirks at Cossus.

    "To each his own then. I rather like gold myself. No accounting for taste I suppose. On your way Master Cossus."

    He farewells him with a tip of his hat. Some ways ahead he sees Harbridge gallop down through the ramshackle caravan, disapearing into the mob of soldiers and reprobates. The boy Gracchus was left, practically blushing. Malcolm whistles over his horse and mounts her, trotting towards him. As he started off he yelled back to Rochester facetiously;

    "Come Brother Joe! The glory of the Scarlett awaits!"

    Malcolm rode up to Gracchus with ease, a complete contrast to the rough-looking boy struggling to navigate his saddle.

    "You look like you've just seen your first pair of tits! I didn't realise holy men got your nethers in such a stir. Tell me templar, what were his orders? What righteous deeds are we to commit?"

    Before he can respond, Malcolm notices the horse bucking.

    "You grip the beast too toughly. Ease into it a bit. The way you're leaning forward on that thing it looks like you're trying to mount his neck!"

    He chuckled.

    "You'll get there."

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Joseph mounts his own horse with practiced ease and takes off at a gallop towards his two new comrades.

    "Master Gracchus, you've been granted a rare audience indeed. I suppose there would be much to be learned from a man like that."

    As he bites his lip, an unnaturally strong gust of wind whistles through the mountain pass.

    "You lads feel that? It's almost warm. Not far now, not far at all."

    Blakeney on
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