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

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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Gracchus carefully placed the pouch of gold into a saddle bag attached to his new mount. He has no great skill with numbers, but he can tell from the weight of the nondescript bag that it contains more wealth than he is accostomed to carrying. Reverently he closes the saddlebag, all the while musing on the temptuous greed all currency represents. Yet if Brother Harbridge wished commerce to be his weapon today he would risk it's corrupting influence. As if on cue Malcolm chose this moment to ride beside him and offer uncharacteristically charitable equestrian advice. Had he seen the pouch?

    He looked in the wizards face to better gauge his motives. He saw a bruised and bleeding drunkard jovially comparing a living saint to leering lust, but no shine of avarice in his eyes. "Patience" Gracchus said inwardly, repeating the word in his mind as a calming mantra. "A craven, lecherous sinner he may be, but today we need what strength he offers."

    As Joseph arrived Gracchus removed his helmet and began to clean it roughly with spit and rag. He needed something to busy his mind as he attempted to suppress the fury Malcolms' indecency raised in him. He was able to scrape the worst of the gore of, but caked blood and worse lingered in the recesses of the battered helm. He would have to wait for a quiter moment to clean it properly. The process did calm him however, as did Josephs recognition of Harbridges' excellence.

    "Indeed he is a great man." says Gracchus, looking the Scarlet officer in the eye. "We could all learn from his fine example.". He paused for a moment, not wishing Malcolm to miss the obvious implied meaning. He would not have it said that Gracchus was overfond of subtlety.

    "Our orders are to join the column and attend Captain Carax's speech" Gracchus stares slightly into the distance, attempting to make sense of Brother Harbridges' command. "A task has been assigned to us, but beyond hearing the Captains speech I know nothing about it." Turning back to Joseph, he begins to probe for information. "Have you served with the Captain before? I know very little about what sort of man he is."

    "We also spoke of a more personal matter." continues Gracchus, his words now directed at Malcolm. "The man Felix, who we both swore to burn for his murderous crimes... is not to be harmed." The words almost physically stung Gracchus "At least not until the conclusion of this campaign. When this is done we may both fulfill our vows, and you will have an opportunity to prove you have at least some valour. Until then the issue is to be settled without violence."

    Gracchus turns his horse and begins to move in the direction of the vast army.

    "Let us go, expedience is a virtue."

    He moves the horse slowly, and with some reluctance leans his weight backwards on his mount.

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    "Not to be harmed? But I gave that dying son of a bitch my word."

    Malcolm grins, takes a swig from his flask.

    "And what's a man without his word?"

    With a kick Blackvein spurs on his steed, making to rejoin the column. As he rides forth he can't help but wonder what price Dragonborn gold would fetch a man in troubled times as these...

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    Joseph turns toward Gracchus as the horses trot forward.

    "The Captain?"

    "It has been my honour to know Ath- Captain Carax, for- well lets see- six years now I believe?"

    He contemplates a moment before correcting himself

    "Seven. Yes, five harsh years by his side, and two years under him- since Bartholomew was promoted. He is a rare lad indeed, our Carax. He is a gifted soldier, a fine leader, a good friend, what more can I say of him?"

    "When he was sent to us he was eighteen, nobody knew where he was from. His disposition and turn of phrase betrays a little of the mystery though, for he is nothing if not a gentleman and certainly high-born enough to have been well educated. He had such potential back then, and he's realised every ounce of it and more since. I believe- well, perhaps this is simply me, old disillusioned fellow that I am- I'd say life has a distinctive knack of breaking men after a while, would you agree? Well- particularly for us soldiers. We join ranks with idealistic notions in our heads and romantic songs in our souls. I suppose If we survive for long enough, we pay for it and these things leave us."

    A rare smile intrudes across Joseph's perpetually cold countenance.

    "I don't believe Athos has lost his song.

    "Not yet."

    He pauses and contemplates again.

    "I'll admit, Harbridge's logic towards this matter is fairly sound. It would certainly be good to identify this Felix fellow though. Now i suggest we rejoin the line, the obelisk won't cover us if we stray much further behind."

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
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    Staring down from a pale sky, the sun bakes the white stone and rubble of the mountain passes. Mud dries and soon flakes off your soiled clothes and boots. On Gracchus' helmet -- which rings with heat -- the bystander's blood bakes to a deep brown. Though you are far behind the main column, you pass many soldiers and civilians bent almost double under the sun's glare. Some sit gasping for air or begging for water, while others lie motionless on the baking rock. They look peaceful.

    Beside a dry creek-bed, almost a furlong ahead, you think you see Brother Harbridge kneel by the prone body of an armoured man. Though you might squint, the sun's flash off his shield hides the moment when the man gets up and starts to walk. When you pass him, his eyes are trained on the Light's flicker ahead, and Harbridge is again lost in the distance.

    By the time the three of you reach the bulk of the army, the sun is high. The morning's narrow passes have given way to several miles of gently climbing scree, and you now stand on the edge of a wide and deep caldera. It is in this crater that the final stronghold of the Dragonborn is to be found. Aware of the moment's significance but -- for the moment -- without orders, the army-city mills about at the crater's lip. Some play dice, some pitch tents, some begin to drink. A few of the camp followers hang back, suddenly nervous after months of campaigning. Most, though, go about their mercenary trades, joking with gallows humour about a "last meal" as they hawk their various wares.

    Eventually, orders filter down through the chaos: Captain Carax of the Scarlet Brigade is to give a speech at midday. And then? The Final Battle: carnage, glory, a light in the dark. It's soon.


    OOC
    It won't be long before Captain Carax gives his speech. Perhaps half an hour, perhaps a little less. Is there anything any of you would like to do in that time?

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited June 2011
    The heat of the ride had been frightfully sobering; yet Blackvein could not help but get a rush out of seeing the Dragonborn keep below them. It had an archaic beauty, particularly in this golden light. The sun would soon set on the Dragonborn though, so Malcolm saw little point in lingering his gaze.

    Equally as inspiring was the sight of his fellow soldiers, already placing their bets and scoffing down mead. The ensuing festivities were set to be just as magificent as the battle itself. Many of his comrades could hold a drink; if this campaign has proved anything, it is this. Malcolm could not help but feel affection for these boys. Though he would struggle to remember a single name, the blurry nights and hazy mornings had created something of a fellowship between them, and tonight he wanted to share a drink individually with each and every one of them.

    Realizing he hadn't ate all day, Mal scoffed down some hard bread that lay in his traveller's pack, chasing it with a gulp of lukewarm beer. Off the glimmer of a merchant's wares he caught sight of his reflection; his soldiering beard had grown thick, as had his brown mane of hair. His right eye was dark and bruised from Varros punch, and his lip had a thin cut. He couldn't help but think these marks looked somewhat becoming though, particularly to an impressionable maiden.

    Speaking of which there were many to be seen, all excited and pretty at the prospect of the conflict ending. Many looked familiar, and it would not be unheard of if Malcolm had already had them and simply forgot come the dawn.

    Giddy at the thought of the nights revelry, Blackvein called out to those around him.

    "Here we are boys! Here at last! You have made fine comrades all; whether you be plucked from a cell or the son of a whore, it's been a damned pleasure soldiering with each and every one of you! Get all the liquid courage for the battle you can, and then tonight we will forget this campaign even happened!"

    He raised his flask to the men. He would like to see Captain Carax try and give a better speech.

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Joseph's horse trots slowly to the edge of the crater. One moment he his aware of the Wizard riding alongside him, the next he is gone.

    He jolts from his state of quiet thought and looks about. He spies the man wandering a short distance away, his gaze locked firmly upon a group of soldiers, women and wine colouring their midst.

    He turns to Gracchus.

    "I think we can trust them to babysit our companion for a time."

    "There are few of the Scarlet who have ever looked upon the citadel before. Shall we?"

    Joseph brings his horse to the craters edge and looks down. He stands astonished, unable to completely make sense of what he sees.

    The crater itself is massive, miles across in diameter. The cliff upon which they stand spirals down across the face of the crater, the only clear path that seemed to exist to the incredible structure that begins at its centre point. Joseph's eyes follow the cliff, which can be nothing if not deliberately crafted, rich with vegetation, almost un-naturally so. The closer his eyes draw to the base, the richer it becomes.

    At the foot, a huge thick ring of lava, crossable only by a single bridge of white stone, encircles one of the strangest and most incredible structures he has ever seen.

    The citadel is like no castle-town he has ever seen. It is an entire city in one giant building. A tower, or rather something that if made by man, would be a tower but more resembles a gigantic pillar. It stretches and reaches into the air, directly in front of them and higher still, it's peak almost exactly level with the highest edge of the crater itself.

    It is the colour of the rock beneath his feet. Pieces of the thing extrude out of it at wild unnatural angles forming smaller structures attached to the citadel itself; imperfect battlements and buildings. Some of them funnel smoke through holes that must be huge, but at this distance appear tiny. Billowing like the chimneys of the war-forges back home...

    A pillar city, he now understands, moulded and shaped as if it were clay from the stone of the mountain itself. But how?

    The vegetation, the volcano, the twisted structure that loomed before him, the way it seemed to facilitate life around it and the flickers of movement that suggested the life that so clearly dwelt within it... It all seemed impossible.

    "By the light- How does this even exist?"

    Again he jolts himself, and regains something of his composure, he looks to Gracchus.

    "It seems odd to think it, but seeing this strange thing- well, a soldiers strength is the men beside him- I suppose it's comforting to know we've at least one fighter of your caliber here."

    "I'm going to exchange a few words with a close friend- Marshall Bartholomew actually. Another man from whom there is much to be learned. Tell me lad, would you care to meet him?"

    Blakeney on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Eager to see the material objective that had driven the crusade on its long and arduous march Gracchus moves slowly toward the edge of the crater. If the glorious crusade he had embarked on was the epitome of all that was good and holy in this world, then the lair of the Dragonborn was by definition the emodiment of the most heinous things in existence. A permanent settlement of the misshapen, its mere existence spitting in the face of the light and the manifest destiny of humanity.

    Upon reaching the edge of the crater, the first thing Gracchus notices is the heat. What had become a discomfort on the latter stages of the journey began to sear his flesh. Heat emanated toward him like a wave from the red moat and the smoke stacks that vomited their filth into the sky. He knew it would be much worse inside. The fact that the Dragonborn could withstand such temperatures daily amazed Gracchus, and he felt proud to be hunting such a hardy foe.

    The structure itself does little to move Gracchus. The impossible tower rising before him did not surprise him, he had expected to see something peturbingly unnatural. The tower was like a cancerous wound in reality, something that should not - could not exist. The blasphemous thing practically cried out for destruction. As Gracchus knew it would. In his mind he could almost see it fallen now, the great thing obliterated so completely that almost ceased to have ever existed. Pride and religeous ferver swell in Gracchus as he laughs briefly with a furious joy.

    "It is an honour to serve with the faithful!" says Gracchus with boisterous joy. "And a joy to fight beside a man of your caliber and faith."

    ""I am coming for you!" Gracchus roars at the tower. "I will break your false gods! I will tear down your homes and shatter your hideous forms! By nightfall your civilization will be nothing but a corpse!"

    Calming himself slightly, Gracchus talks again to Joseph. Let us talk to Marshal Bartholomew, I am eager to see how we are to go about our holy work."

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Joseph and Gracchus hear the cheer that greets Malcolm's proclamation. Some soldiers who had been sitting at the edge of the great crater smile at the sounds of revelry that accompany Malcolm's voice; they stop pacing, or praying, or re-checking their weapons. One or two, though, glance around guiltily. They look along the ridge for the army's great obelisk, its light washed out by the midday sun.

    It is to this obelisk that Joseph and Gracchus are headed. As they weave through vendors and dice games, the crowds of soldiers and hangers-on move aside and allow them to pass. Drunks both friendly and belligerent take one sobering glance at the pair and move aside. It is difficult to tell whether they are more impressed by the scarlet of Joseph's cloak, or of Gracchus' helmet.

    Side-by-side, the soldiers of the church militant and the Scarlet Brigade guard a wide area around the obelisk. The four oxen that draw its cart are unhitched at present, but can find no grazing among the sun-baked stones and scree. The obelisk itself is tall and slender, made of smooth stone that is a complex, swirling, thundercloud grey. Its faces are completely covered by intricate carvings. Their shapes are geometrical, and they are ordered with such complexity that their arrangements seem haphazard — the work of a manic rather than meticulous design. Upon closer inspection, though, the carvings' pattern resolves into an arrangement of ever smaller shapes, whose dwindling geometry confounds perception.

    Beneath the obelisk, facing the army, a long table has been hastily constructed. On benches sit the secular leaders of the army. Minor lords pore over maps (ink still wet) while veterans and young officers all squabble and curse. The older officers are quieter, brows furrowed and shoulders slumped. At their centre sits a man of abour Joseph's age. His armour is perfectly made, and sits lightly on his heavy frame. His cloak is the purple of a great commander, and he wears an incongruous sash of scarlet. After a moment, he looks up and smiles sadly at Joseph's approach. Without taking his leave, he removes himself from the table and approaches the newcomers.

    "We're here, Joe. Shit, but it's been hard. And it'll be harder." He jerks a thumb to the table of leaders. "Fuck knows most of what they say won't make much difference. The generals can talk, but in the end it's not up to us." He sighs and shakes his head. "Anyway, I'm glad you made it here."

    Brother Harbridge and the church's other generals are nowhere to be seen.

    Gideon on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Joseph looks grave as he eyes the Marshall up and down.

    "I wouldn't be losing sleep over it Charlie."

    "I doubt our Brother's plans involve blood getting within thirty yards of those drapes you're wearing."

    Bartholomew looks sternly at Joseph and for a moment it seems the quip has been met with contempt.

    Suddenly the two soldiers break into smiles and chuckle. In a single swift movement Joseph's gloved hand is seized by Bartholomew's gauntlet as the Grand Marshall thunders his free arm down, patting him across his shoulder.

    As the two embrace Gracchus stands awkwardly at Joseph's side.

    "Ah, pardon. Charlie, this is a new acquaintance of mine, quite the soldier i must say. Allow me to introduce Master Gracchus. Gracchus, may i present Sir Charles Bartholomew, Grand Marshall of her majesties forces."

    He leans in over Bartholomew's shoulder and speaks quietly.

    "Haven't the foggiest whether that's his first or last name."

    Joseph coughs and his face becomes cold once again. He steals a glance at the table, ensuring none of the others are watching before leaning in towards his friend.

    "The Dragonborn have fashioned quite a home for themselves here Charlie... Do we really know what we're getting ourselves into?"

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Marshal Charles Bartholomew salutes the hulking young soldier, and chooses his words carefully. "We've certainly scouted the crater thoroughly. The Dragonborn haven't been out of their fortress for a few day, so my men have had the run of the place. Up to a point, though. They've got artillery on those walls, so we haven't been able to get anyone too close. Harbridge, though -- Brother Artemis, I mean, Brother-Commander -- he has apparently got some soldiers of the church a little closer. Even so, the inside of that thing is still a mystery."

    Bartholomew sighs, and his hand strays to the sash he wears. "We'll soften them up with artillery of our own, and then it'll be the men of the Scarlet first in to that... that bloody thing. Fuck knows what you'll find, but you won't be going in alone." He looks past Joseph and the caldera and the mountain range harsh against the sky. "I wish I could be with you, Joe."

    He gathers himself and salutes, but his farewell is almost a whisper.

    "Make them proud."

    Gideon on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Whilst Bartholemew was far from being the figure of adoration and worship to Gracchus that Brother-Commander Harbridge was, the military mind behind the crusade was held in high regard. His immaculate armour, the regale sash he wore and above all the flawless confidence he projected told Gracchus much about the man. He was an instrument of imperial splendour, his past littered with the broken bodies of humanities most heinous enemies. His mind and diligence had helped pave the way for human supremacy, and for that Gracchus recognized his greatness. If Gracchus was the indiscriminate, uncompromising arm of the crusade, and Brother Harbridge it's immaculate heart and soul - then this man was the brain that guided it to victory.

    While Josephs excessive familiarity with his superior perplexed Gracchus, he was greatly
    Impressed by the connection he had with the commander. He bows to Bartholemew as he takes his leave, and then speaks to his companion. "First in and last out, a glorious tradition. You have lead a distinguished career.

    Being this close to the obelisk has a profound effect on Gracchus, and he must resist the urge to touch the artefact. Staring intently towards it, he makes signs of devotion and piety with his hands, all the while thinking of duty and the vows he has taken today.

    He approaches one of the quieter officers near the table. He wears only the lightest leather armour to allow swift and silent movement, and for this reason Gracchus assumes he may be involved with the scouts. "Your pardon sir." he says to the veteran "I am looking for a scout that goes by the name Felix. He covered my losses in a dice game where greed overcame me, and this may be the last chance I have to repay my debt." He then nods toward the obelisk without looking at it. "And we must pay our debts. Do you know where I can find the man." He lies without the practiced ease of Malcolm, and it physically sickens him to do so this close to the obelisk. But Brother Harbridge had demanded restraint.

    And Brother Harbridge's word was scripture.

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Captain Nathan Braeburn regards the young soldier for a little too long. The recruit's nervous agitation is as obvious as his zeal, and he appears oblivious to the brownish crust on his helm, and its ruddy hue can suggest only one origin. A brutal thug, sure, but one who has never before come so close to the obelisk, and who is sincere in his devotion. It has been a long time since Nathan has felt anything more than a slight unease at the thing's presence, looming over every decision made.

    "Gambling? I see. I wouldn't have believed it of you, recruit." He smiles slightly, and obviously still doesn't.

    "Felix is down in the caldera, preparing our way and observing the enemy. If they sally out, we need to be warned. If they block our route, we need to know." He scratches his lip, thinking. "I can't tell you exactly where he is, because I'm not sure. Even if I did, there's no use going looking for him now. Somehow I think that you'd be best in the front lines, not hiding in the bushes. You'll have to wait until the battle's done to pay Felix what you owe." Nathan frowns. "That's assuming he ever reports back, of course."

    To the west, away from the crater's edge, there is a flash of scarlet and a rising cheer. The guards of the obelisk break from their exhausted attention, the men of the Scarlet craning their necks as the soldiers of the church quickly confer and then reform around the wagon and its holy burden. The generals stand, some with a show of great reluctance, as the knot in the crowd draws closer.

    Nathan hides a smile. "Ah, well we shouldn't stand around now. Not when his Lordship is about to speak!" He is about to leave, but pauses. "Good luck, today." He thinks for a second. "I hope you find your way back to the light when the battle's ended."

    Gideon on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    The relief Gracchus feels as he realizes he has not been caught in a lie is overwhelming. It sweeps over him like a wave, giving him an unfamiliar rush of adrenaline. He immediately chastises himself, a series of self loathing thoughts and cleansing litanies clashing in his mind. The presence of the obelisk is overwhelming, and Gracchus can almost feel the Light's disapproval as a physical force. "Thank you for your assistance, Light willing, I shall see him again in this world." says Gracchus, hoping the veteran scout hasn't noticed his mental self flagellation.

    The fact that Felix had been given freedom of movement about the Citadel did not sit well with Gracchus. Felix had crimes to answer for already, and it seemed that command had given him the perfect opportunity to further debase his soul. Still, the man was separated from the rest of the host - and Gracchus would need the chance to talk to the criminal privately.

    Gracchus saw coutless men staring expectantly toward the flash of scarlet. There is a pregnant energy in the crowd, of so many souls bound together in one purpose, thinking only of their duty on this holy day. For a moment, everything in the world feels right to Gracchus, and the path to man's salvation seems so clear. "We should not miss this!" he says with a smile to Joseph, and attempts to find a good vantage point from which to watch the speech.

    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Captain Athos Carax stands atop the table and looks out across the sea of soldiers murmuring beneath him. He smiles contentedly for a moment before placing his index finger in his mouth and raising it high, checking the breeze.

    "We really couldn't ask for a finer day gentlemen!" Exclaims the young captain, all sincerity. "The wind is certainly with us. That sun is rather pleasant, wouldn't you say Artemis? Signs from the light no doubt?"

    He raises an eyebrow in the direction of the Brother-Commander standing on the ground at his side. Carax's words imply sarcasm but not a trace of it taints his voice; he simply smiles.

    "A beautiful day, lads! Why, one could even say that view was slightly impressive if it wasn't filled to brim with Dragonborn."

    His voice rises in volume and authority with each word.

    "On this day, Gentlemen, we remedy this. On this day, I shall be proud to stand together with each and every one of you, shining crusaders of the light that you are, and we shall shall rip this atrocity to the floor of this crater and bury the beasts in the ground beneath!"

    His shouts are met with cheers. He smiles, his voice lowers again, becomes warm.

    "With the sun and the wind to warm our backs and the obelisk to light our way, I'd challenge any shadow to stand before us."

    "But, Gentleman, these happy circumstances are not our greatest advantage, and our beacon is hardly our greatest weapon. The beasts may turn from the Light; they may hate and fear it, but it is not by this Light beside me that they will be vanquished. These creatures will be conquered by you, gentlemen: By your gallantry and honour, by the burning spirit that I have seen shine in the eyes of every one of you in every battle of this campaign. It it this light, the glow from the embers in our souls that these things will learn to fear before this day is through!"

    The wind whips through Carax's long hair as he speaks, but he does not appear to notice. Indeed, he seems scarcely to be aware of the heat of the day, the caldera beside him, or the crowd at his feet. He looks through them all, and eyes are bright with the happy anticipation of glory.

    "The brave men before us who brought our sacred first light to mankind did so facing terrors that we fear even to name. But their luminous hearts carried them to victory, and by the strength of their own light they became heroes. By their grace, we given the capacity to enjoy all that is beautiful in this world: What is pleasing to the eyes and to the heart and to other places besides. Wine, women, and song, gentlemen! All of this we owe to them! And by my sword I will strike down any beast of darkness who will stand between me and these things I hold dear. Think lads, the stories that will be spun of us here today! Stories that will rival the ones we were raised with. We will defend all that was gained by our forefathers! And our tales will parallel their own!"

    "What do you say lads? Is it into the fire then?"

    The crowd roars with approval as Athos draws his sword and thrusts it heavenward.

    "Then let the boys of the Scarlet Brigade show you how it's done!"

    The crowd erupts as Athos vaults down from the table, some yell cheers of excitement, some of encouragement and some of indignant anger as he begins marching toward the crater path he is followed by a procession of Scarlet cloaked soldiers.

    Almost unnoticed by the crowd, Marshal Bartholomew climbs weaily onto the makeshift podium.

    OOC
    Please make a Perception check as Captain Carax leaves.

    Gideon on
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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    Malcolm stands amidst the rabble Athos addresses, amongst the soldiers and sell-swords. He wondered how long the latter would remain true. They fight for coin, but they won't die for it. Of the Scarlett regalia Blackvein wore only the deep crimson cloak, which had become torn and dirtied throughout the campaign. He had never been one for uniforms.

    It was clear from their stark silence that this Carax had the respect of his underlings. He spoke with sincerity and passion, qualities rare amongst most men these days, let alone top military brass. His comely look and exquisite garb marked him as exceptionally high-born, and he looked almost frightfully young. He speaks of battle skillfully enough, but has he ever actually fought one?, Mal thought.

    The energy around was electrifying, the promise of liquor and glory charging the men, filling their hearts with fire. The wizard had spent the last hour sharing wine and song with a mob of young soldiers. They shared their first cup as strangers, yet by the sixth they slurred oaths of fealty and brotherhood to each other as if they had been comrades their whole life. Malcolm wondered if he would ever see any of them again.

    He had lost his other companions some time ago, and he did not mourn it. The sullen templar was a blunt instrument of the light who was nothing less than pyschotic. Brother Joe was a good man, but old, and the world these days scarcely had a place for either.

    Carax spoke well, stirring Malcolm even. His hands almost simmered in anticipation. The wizard had arrived to the speech late, as he had been taking a willing wench behind her father's merchant tent. It had been rather splendid. Something about fucking beneath the open light of the obelisk gave Malcolm such a kick, and there was nothing like the promise of death to make a man feel truly alive. Though the speech had already commenced, the men cleared a path for him as he strode through wordlessly. Sometimes who you are is enough.

    The crowd roared for Carax, but Malcolm remained silent, drawing a cigarello and lighting it and wondering if it would be his last. He wondered too of the stories that would be told of him today, the songs that would be sung. Would he be alive to hear them? A surge of fear took him. It is not that I'm afraid of death, he tried to reassure himself. It is just that I so very like to live.

    With a thunder the troops began to march forward, with a sword in their hands and fiery words on their lips. "For the Scarlett!" some cried out. "For the light!" yelled fewer. Malcolm lifted his wand to the air, and a purple stream of flame sparked into the sky ostentatiously, deftly exploding above the men.

    "For Malcolm" he thought, not for the first time.
    Perception check (Result rather fitting): 1 http://4e.orokos.com/roll/46387

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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    "For the light!" Gracchus bellowed, his booming voice containing only a fraction of the zealous energy coursing through his body. The young captains speech had brought the crowd to a boiling frenzy, and Gracchus felt that he was the very epicenter of a sea of bloodlust. He could feel the potential hanging in the air. The speech had brought to Gracchus the semi-mythical histories he had obsessed over as a child. The exploits of Bjorn Hammerhand, Meryn Blackwater, Jaques Giants-bane and all the other warrior lords who had brought order to the darkness. Paragons of virtue, justice and strength. In this moment he could hear his name being held with those legends. They would say that his legacy began today. His life would be a tale littered with bloodied, beaten enemies of the most terrifying and inhuman sort. And the lecherous old priests who looked through him as he cleaned their filth would finally know what the faith was capable of.

    It began here, with fire and blood.

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Joseph folds his arms across his chest and lets Carax's words and the energy of the crowd wash over him like waves across a shore.

    The way the crowd leans in, surges forward, becoming more entranced with every syllable. The hecklers are swiftly silenced by sharp blows to the stomach or abuse from their comrades standing near by.

    He glances about as the movements of the merchants gradually slow to a halt as they pack their wares, they had presumed themselves uninterested in military matters, but the mind is easily drawn.

    Not far from Joseph are four women; whores, conceivably by the manner in which they have strung themselves over a group of soldiers. He watches as their now absent minds allow their fingers to stray from the shoulders of their employers and begin to twirl the ends of their hair. Their men now too transfixed themselves to notice the absence.

    Joseph observes and takes a private amusement in all of this. However the flow of the words, the surge of people, flood across him and move around him like the tide about an ocean stone. Joseph himself remains anchored.

    It is not until Athos talks of them men who fought for first light that anything other than situational awareness and peaceful reminiscence occupies his mind.

    And by my sword I will strike down any beast of darkness who will stand between me and these things I hold dear...

    The familiarity of the words prompts a sick feeling in Joseph's stomach.

    He could swear he had said something terribly similar once...
    Description Perception
    Results 1d20+10: 30 [1d20=20]

    Blakeney on
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    Gracchus, Joseph:
    As Captain Carax starts to walk off, you notice that he is briefly stopped by Brother-Commander Harbridge. They exchange few words before Carax leaves.

    Joseph
    You are close enough and sharp-eyed enough to see the faces of both Carax and Harbridge as they briefly speak. Reading their lips, you can resolve their murmurs (often drowned out by the crowd) into words:

    "...not your true aim here? What purpose can secrecy serve?"
    "That is none of their concern. Lead your own soldiers, young Captain, and I shall do the same. Do not concern yourself with anything else; there will be glory enough for you today."

    As Carax leaves, he looks back at Harbridge, clearly troubled.

    Marshal Charles Bartholomew takes his place, clutching a piece of parchment. He stands awkwardly for a moment amidst the noise and sighs. He struggles to make himself heard as he speaks.

    "Ahem. The first unit-"

    He is drowned out by the army's thundering cheers. Many express their distaste at the Scarlet Brigade being the first into the fight.

    "The first-"

    Again.

    "Oh for fuck's sake-" He begins to shout at the top of his lungs. The crowd falls silent a moment to listen.

    "The first unit into the crater will be the men of the Scarlet Brigade!"

    The crowd roars a second time, and shouts of anger dominate. It seems no man can wait to join the fight.

    Bartholomew's face goes red. He draws his greatsword from its scabbard and holds it, shining, aloft. The midday sun makes of it a dazzling pillar of light, harsh and cruel. The crowd fall silent in the face of the Marshal's rage. Caught in his gaze, none dare speak.

    Without moving, the Marshal continues: "--the men of the Scarlet Brigade who will scatter the Dragonborn armies and prepare the way for the siege engines. The rest of you will protect these engines and guard the men of the Scarlet from any attacks from the flank or the rear. When the fortress gate is broken, you shall reinforce them, joining to launch a full assault on the citadel and overrunning the defences." Bartholomew returns his sword to his Scabbard. "Go forth, and light be with you."

    He steps down off the table, muttering to himself, as the crowd explodes.


    Amidst the roar, soldiers in the white cloak of the Temple approach Gracchus, Joseph, and Malcolm. They make it known that their superior -- the exalted Brother Harbridge -- desires immediately to speak with you.

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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    The crowd erupts, and just as Malcolm is set to sally forth he sees the white cloak march towards him and doesn't even attempt to hide his scowl. How tiresome these light-mongers are. These were creatures of Harbridge, and they served with his same callous piety.

    "What does that cunt want now?"

    Such words would cost a common soldier their tongue. But my gifts are too rare, he thought with a smile. The wizard had long enjoyed the impunity his arcane talents offered. He almost disregarded the temple man entirely, but the thought of the bloodied girl Harbridge had shot down like a coward would make him follow.

    Blackvein does not forget.

    Blackvein on
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Joseph fastens his belt tight and sets off for the craters edge. Battle is approaching, he feels the rise of anticipation in his stomach.

    Up ahead through the crowd he can see a group of scarlet cloaks amassing. The brigade was reuniting. He smiles to himself; there they were, the men he knew so well, patting each other on the back, shaking hands, his comrades.

    It had been an interesting time travelling with the wizard and the templar. Both of them intrigued Joseph somewhat. Blackveins' easy debonair manner was magnetic, if clearly self serving. And although he felt slight unease at having to watch his words around Gracchus, the lads' simple earnestness was enough to endear Joseph to him somewhat.

    He would surely enjoy talking of them both with his Scarlet brothers.

    Just as he can make out the young captain Carax, his road is blocked by two men of the white cloak.

    "Your pardon sirs. The brigade has been summoned."

    The men do not budge. He makes a failed attempt to move between them.

    "Gentlemen please, i must protest-"

    Blakeney on
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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Lost in his own exhaltations, Gracchus only partially listens to Bartholemew's words. He does gather that the Scarlet Brigade will begin the assault, and with every fiber of his being wishes he was a part of the illustrious unit. He looks toward Joseph, filled with proffessional jealousy toward the man. "Walk with the light brother, and spread her glory." he says to the aging veteran, his own childlike dissapointment clear in his voice.

    Whatever damage the announcement had done to his feverous mood was immediately repaired when the men of the White Cloak approached him. He should not have doubted his manifest destiny this day. he should have had faith.

    Gracchus listens intently to their solemn message, delighted to hear that Brother Harbridge has asked for him personally. "I exist to serve the holy Brother-Commanders will." he says with reverence, making to follow the White Cloaks.

    Gracchus on
    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    The templars lead you to a calm island in the middle of the seething, surging crowd. Armoured Brothers of the Light sit on solemn warhorses to create a perimeter around their leader, and part only briefly to allow you throught.

    Harbridge smiles at your approach, nods slightly to Gracchus, and does not wait for any salute before addressing you. "An excellent speech, and an encouraging respone from our brothers." The army's roar crashes around you; Harbridge does not raise his voice. "But as it stands, we will lose this battle."

    "Strength of arms, even aided by such fervour as this, will not be enough to bring down these fortress walls. The army might sweep aside the Dragonborn formations that remain and still break on those walls like a ship on the shore."


    He gazes back into the mass of men and horses in the direction of the caldera, where the fortress soars improbably from its centre.

    "This has not gone unforseen, of course. My men carry with them machines of such destructive power... They will render those walls no more than a temporary inconvenience."

    "They have been trained to construct and to operate these machines, but while they do so they will be extraordinarily vulnerable. Should the Dragonborn attack them, the machine would be lost. Worse, the beasts might then apprehend its purpose, and turn their attention in earnest to those machines that remain. Do you understand the seriousness of that situation, its import?"

    "I hope you now understand your task. You three shall accompany the first of these machines to the area of flat ground that my scouts have located. You shall guard it until it is operational, at which point its attendants will be able to defend themselves. You shall repeat that process with the second and the third machines. Only when all machines are constructed will they fire in support of the Scarlet Brigade, who will be fighting their way toward the fortress walls." "

    When your task is complete, Lieutenant Rochester and Mr. Blackvein may join their comrades. Gracchus, lad, you may return to your own unit. The carts and my men are waiting below the crater's edge."
    Harbridge looks at each of you in turn. "I will not further emphasise the importance of this task. This battle cannot be won without these machines. I hope you have understood me."

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    BlackveinBlackvein Registered User regular
    Malcolm listens to each of Harbridge's words with growing rage. How he loathed to be moved around like some meaningless chess-piece. My place is with the men, the battle, the glory. No songs will be sung of some siege weapons wet-nurse.

    He dared not make a scene, not surrounded by the men of the white cloaks. He had heard of the brutality of their 'holy work', and it never failed to amuse him how many dark tools were used in the name of the light. That Gracchus boy would fit right in.

    When Harbridge was done Malcolm spoke, in a tone dripping with acid;

    "I am as ever your most humble servant."

    He washed the words down with a swig from his flask.





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    GracchusGracchus Registered User regular
    Gracchus stood in tiny island of calm amidst the seething throng of the faithful, listening carefully to every word the Brother-Commander imparted to his champions. Gracchus felt important, elevated beyond the common man by the favour of his holy master. Righteous pride threatened to overwhelm him, and Gracchus had to repeat internal mantras of obedience to suppress the sin of self-aggrandisement. He reminded himself that he was small peice in unimaginably vast glory of The Light, and that Harbridge had simply delivered him to his next devotional task. He understood the importance of the mission - and it would be exhilarating to see the great machines fire, but Gracchus could not quite dispel the feelings of disappointment it gave him. He did not trust the men of his unit to stay firm in the face of the Dragonborn fury without his presence. He had envisaged himself leading them against the unclean like one of the warrior-kings of old, obliterating the enemy and rallying the weak willed to him with his sacred wrath.

    Harbridge's task could be seen as a lesson in humility, aimed to show Gracchus that the greater good must take precedence over his ego. It wounded his very soul that he had to share his task with the lecherous sorcerer even now drinking himself into a stupor, but it would be a good opportunity to prove the superiority of strength of arms and faith over his blasphemous magics.

    "By your will Holy Father, it shall be as you say."

    Gracchus turned to look at the imposing fortification. Complete and overwhelming glee took hold of him then, as he realised the simple, beautiful truth. None could enter the home of the Dragonborn until he had completed his task, and he could still be among the first to enter that hellish realm and deliver The Light's justice.

    “Zeal will do more than knowledge.” - William Hazlitt
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    BlakeneyBlakeney Registered User regular
    Joseph listens quietly to the words of the Brother-Commander. Agitation surges up inside him.

    The warm zephyrs that blow from the Volcano suddenly seem less pleasant. That excited anticipation for another chance to prove his worth, again, to his scarlet brothers. He feels sweat break out on the back of his neck and his stomach turns as the harsh reality dawns upon him.

    He would not be fighting by the sides of his comrades.

    "As you wish."

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    GideonGideon Registered User regular
    You make your way over the lip of the crater, and its immensity is revealed fully to you for the first time.

    Its walls curve almost imperceptibly around to either side of you, meeting many leagues away, past the great fortess that sits perfectly centred in the caldera's bowl. At their tip, the walls of the crater push cruel and jagged into the sky. Down the slope, the dark rock and scree are hidden by a sudden treeline, beyond which sit orderly pastures, lush and whispering green despite the harsh sun. They abut, in the far distance, a deep and steaming trench that encircles the fortress itself.

    To your left, the Scarlet Brigade descend diagonally along the slope and spiral towards the Dragonborn fortress. They have just forded a stream that runs through the trees and on, fed through orderly channels, to irrigate the fields below. Its source is a waterfall that seems to flow from the cliff itself, spilling over obsidian peaks in rainbow spray. Further on, you see the mist of another.

    Just ahead are three huge covered wagons, each hitched to two draught-horses. They wait for you, finding footing in the tracks of the Scarlet Brigade. Each wagon is manned by four men clad in the robes of the temple-sergeants. Without needing orders, they fall in behind you.

    As you travel into Dragonborn territory, I'd encourage you to make some checks.

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