An Empire In Flames

Session Three: The Lie
In which a lie is told, and a truth is made known.

GM: The store’s door closes behind the four, Barias having been noticably put off as you left his storefront with your new attire, the ill-fitting Centurian uniforms in hand. The sun has finally sunk beneath the horizon whilst you were within the building, the light fleeing the sky post haste. You attract noticably less attention from those walking down the streets although it is difficult to say if the fading light or the new attire is to blame. Either way, it is a pleasant relief, even if the air is decidedly less comfortable as the temperature continues to plummet.

GM: The sounds of the city likewise seem muted as the night draws nigh; the hammering forge so noticeable earlier has all but vanished, although a dog seems content filling the air from somewhere far deeper into the Outer City.

Riella looks down at her new clothes. It’s nothing much, and it’s missing the blood of her enemies, but she doubted the group would let continue to wear them. Tight chest bindings and somewhat lose pants and tunic gives her a gender-neutral appearance, a shawl concealing her foreign hair.

Riella: “What are we doing next, oath-keeper?”

Zuhur surveys the streets, giving their surroundings a momentary glance. “I would like to reunite with the liar.” She says, adjusting the long, plain shawl that hangs from her shoulders. “But inquiry might draw attention from the guard. If we’d had the time to arrange a meeting place before he ran off…”

Dekniss: “It might be a good idea to find an out of the way place to sleep for the night. Though, we still don’t have any money.”

Anemone: “I can’t say I support searching for him. It could get us into trouble.”

GM: Further in the Outer City, in a squat stone building huddled at the feet of the Inner City’s walls, the bear of the Captain leads Peilor into the barracks. It is a surprisingly barren building, with several rooms of cots and chests, each with a roaring furnace filling the room with a heat that seems all too warm after the biting cold outside. “You can sleep here tonight,” he says, gruffly. “I suppose we’ll have to find you something to wear,” he notes, looking the young man over.

Riella: “I don’t know too much about how to live in this Imperial shit farm. I’ll follow the oath-keeper’s lead.”

Zuhur: “I suppose there is little we can do. If he is as much a fleece and as snake tongued as he appears, he will survive on his own until he finds us again. And if he is not, there’s nothing to be done until our own stability is somewhat assured. Dekniss or Anemone, you understand these alien cities the best. Where would be our safest bet for lodgings with no coin and little of value to trade? I hope the answer is not a street.”

Dekniss: Dekniss thinks it over for a few moments before answering. “It’s possible that there are way-houses near the gate that may have rooms for weary travelers, but seldom offer real accommodations for free. Perhaps a stable or dry loft is the best we can hope for without coin.”

Peilor: He rubbed his ear as it burned in the prickly heat. “Yeah that would be preferable, and I’ll know better than to wear anything too fancy from now on… not that i can afford it.”

Anemone: “Agreed. We want to be as unassuming as possible. A stable may be a good choice.”

Riella perks up at the mention of it. “I can work for the pig-shits at a stable.”

Zuhur: “It seems our best option, if not our only one.” Zuhur says, glancing back towards the gates and the buildings arrayed nearby. “Not the most glamorous beds we’ve likely seen, but between the stables and the slave pens, I’d gladly take the stables. Let us be off then, hopefully one of the owners will allow us to spend the night with the horses for free, I’d prefer we not be total vagrants.”

GM: The captain nods, leading Peilor to a cot in the far back of the room, looking like it is barely managing to hold itself together. There’s only a single threadbare blanket on top, made from a coarse and scratchy material. “I’ll see if we have anything in your size,” he says, turning and starting back through the building. A few minutes later he returns with a tunic made of similar material. “This should last you for now,” he says, before looking considering. “If you’re going to be in town for some time, you’re going to need to find some work, and I could always use more men.”

Dekniss: “It would probably be a good idea to avoid the inn from earlier, but another place near the gates might be more accepting of poor travelers.”

Zuhur: “Yes.” Zuhur replies. “A free drink is a far cry from a free night, and I’d rather not push our Centurion’s ploy any further than we have.”

Anemone: “I don’t know that we could successfully pull that off again. Its not worth trying. It would be smart to check closer to the gate.”

GM: Glancing down toward the gate, you note the absence of any stables or structures which look particularly inviting. Further down the road opposite, closer to the walls, you can make out the broad doors of a stable tucked behind a large building.

Riella: “I’m still surprised that it worked in the first place. I knew the pig-dogs were stupid, but if they believed such a shitty lie…” She shakes her head. Stupid people in a stupid empire.

Zuhur: “Odd, that the stables are so far inward. A bizzare city indeed.” Zuhur says, heading towards towards the stables.

Anemone: “The city set-up isn’t necessarily logical,” Anemone responds to Zuhur. “Let’s hope we can stay here.”

GM: As you get closer to the building, you notice a sign hanging in front of the building shielding the stables. It reads, in carefully painted detail, ‘The Split Coinpurse’. The widows are lit from the inside, shutters drawn against the cold.

Riella: “All cities are built this poorly. I long for the day that my people come to cleanse this land of its stone shackle.”

Zuhur: “Hopefully not until we are far and away from this wretched place.” Zuhur says, approaching the door and pushing it open.

Riella follows her inside, trying to look meek and unassuming. Needless to say, she’s a failure at it, instead giving off an aura of pride and irritation.

Dekniss follows the others inside, looking around as he enters.

Anemone follows the others inside.

GM: The inside of the building is a common room, smaller than the Drowned Drake but significantly cleaner and more organized. But also more empty. A large man slouches in a chair next to the door, glancing sideways at the strangers as they enter the room. The only other occupant is a portly man, clad in carefully arraged falls of vibrant silks and wearing a single glove. And while his eyes light up as you enter, it’s only a moment for his mouth to curl into a frown.

Peilor: He pulled the tunic over his head then looked to the an with a dejected sigh at the job offer. “I think I have unquestionably proven my insuitablity for such work after seeing those men gutted in front of me i think a paper cut would make me lose my lunch at this point… But my father was teaching me the mercantile crafts maybe I can find work as a clerk or a delivery boy with some shop in town.”

Zuhur approaches the finely dressed man, bowing slightly, her closest guess as to an Imperial greeting. “A fine evening to you, Sir.”

GM: “Delivery boy?” he asks, before shaking his head. “I suppose it would earn you some little money. But I’d ask you to remember my offer, if you can’t find any work out here.”

GM: His scowl, if anything, deepens. “I am sorry,” he says in a nasal voice, “but we don’t cater to /vagrants/.”

Zuhur: “That is very much a shame.” Zuhur says, attempting the empty smile she had witnessed many times but never mastered. “You have no work that needs doing in exchange for a night in your stables? No guards or stable boys you’d like to go without paying for a night?”

Riella: “I can care for a horse better then any man, woman, child, and p- person around,” she offers helpfully.

GM: Diplomacy, Zuhur.
Zuhur: 9
Dekniss: 12

Riella: “So, can I help your houses be treated to someone who cares and shows them affection besides pig- pigheaded people?” She’s having a lot of trouble keeping the profanity out of her words.

GM: His sneer deepens. “Get out,” he says, disdainfully, waving his un-gloved hand at the party dismissively.

Peilor: “Thank you sir. Maybe once I am able to put all this behind me. Then I might be able to make a difference. But right now, I’m sorry…” He gave to man a sad reassuring smile. “What time is it? Is there any chance I can go walk around with my thoughts… see the town my family gave there lives trying to see?”

Zuhur sighs, somewhat deflated, and turns to leave.

Riella: “Oath-keeper, what about the rooftops? They’re out of the way, and we’ve enough clothing to make it through the night.”

Anemone: “Wait…your glove. You’re a member of Gleam.”

GM: “It’s the least I can do,” he says, offering a thin smile. “Just be sure not to wake the guards when you come back in.”

Zuhur pauses, watching Anemone and giving a nod of acknowledgement to Riella. The rooftops would be a suitable bed, at least until more comfortable lodgings could be found.

GM: There is a pause, the man’s eyes bulging, arm outstretched. It takes a few seconds for him to compose himself. “I am… I am /sure/ that I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He gives a weak glare toward Anemone.

Anemone: “I’m sure that you do. You’re a member. Its very clear.”

Anemone looks at the man expectantly.

GM: There is a moment’s pause, the bouncer’s eyes never leaving Anemone’s back as the portly man fidgets as he stares at her. “Who sent you?” he finally asks.

GM: (( Knowledge: History or Local to figure out what they’re talking about. One roll per person who has ranks. ))

Zuhur: “The Gleam?” Zuhur whispers to Dekniss behind Anemone. Is this an imperial matter?

Anemone: “No one sent us. We are simply looking for lodging for the night, and you were preparing to turn us away. However, it seems we are kindred, at least to a point. Care to reconsider?”

Dekniss shrugs to Zuhur and shakes his head.

GM: He licks his lip, glancing from Anemone to her companions. “Fine,” he finally says. “You can sleep in the stables tonight.”

Anemone: “Much appreciated. We’d appreciate breakfast in the morning, as well. If its not too much ask, friend.”

GM: His eye twitches. “Of… course not,” he says through gritted teeth, “ma’am.”

Zuhur: “The oats they give their horses are likely better than the slop they eat themselves.” Zuhur says to Riella, not bothering very hard to whisper.

Anemone: “Thank you kindly, sir. We do appreciate your hospitality.” Anemone motions to the others to head to the stables.

GM: Some blotchy red returns to his face, hand clenching as Zuhur asides to Riella, but he doesn’t say anything.

Peilor: “I promise I wont and once again thank you.” He gave a respectful bow, grasping the blanket from his bed he draped it over his shoulders like a cloak tying two corners together to fasten it. With that he made his way to the door and out onto the streets breathing a deep breath of freedom decompressing and he attempted to drop the role of the grieving youth.

GM: The cold is even the more bitter after having spent time in the warm embrace of the heat inside, but no one glances twice toward the youth in the deepening dusk.

Zuhur: “Let us make our way to the stables then.” Zuhur says, motioning to the others. “And find the least awful place to bed for the night.”

Anemone: Anemone makes her way to the stables. “We should be wary. He is unlikely to harm us…but you never can tell.”

Zuhur: “What is this Gleam he is a part of?” Zuhur asks as they near the stables.

GM: The door slams behind you as you make your way out of the building, and you easily bypass the low fence around the stables; behind you there is a crashing sound inside the building. The interior is dark, and smells of horse. Lacking any illumination you fumble around for some time before finding a ladder leading to the haylofts.

Anemone: “I’m sure you all are bit…confused about what just happened.”

Zuhur: “As an understatement.” Zuhur responds.
Anemone: “He is a member of Gleam, as was I. Its…an assassin guild of sorts. Its empire wide, and very secretive.”

Zuhur: “So it would seem.” Zuhur mentions, fumbling in the dark through the mounds of hay. It’s hardly a luxury, but she’s endured nights on far worse.

GM: The hay is at least as warm as it is scratchy.

Anemone: “And being a member seems to come in handy in a pinch. At least we’ll sleep tonight and eat in the morning. A bit of time to regroup will be good for us all.”

Peilor: He shivers harshly in the thin tunic and makeshift cape, he remembered talk of them sticking to the outskirts so thats where he would limit his search for the evening. If he had no luck he would return to to the warm bed and resume his search with renewed vigor come the morning.

GM: How’re you searching, Peilor?

Dekniss: In the darkness of the hayloft Dekniss digs himself into the warm hay. To the others he says, “Rest is welcome, and now, at least, we are free as well.”

Peilor: Common sense, were people with no money can sleep

Zuhur: “A trade off anyone would take, I think.” Zuhur says, settling into a corner.

GM: I mean, actually searching the buildings or asking people?

Peilor: probably a little of both, I’m a social creature but i know considering they are technically fugitives in centurion gear they arent going to do anything stupid like hitting up mead halls

GM: Hit me with a Gather Information
Peilor: 26

GM: It doesn’t take much asking around to hear the story about the Centurians coming out of the night to stay at the Drowned Drake. And it’s equally easy to find the building, especially with night falling.

Peilor: After finding out they werent as inconspicuous as he would have assumed he went around to the side of the stables and peeked his head in.

GM: The Drowned Drake has no stables, it’s a single building.

GM: Zuhur is shaken out of her sleep, covered in a cold sweat some time after they all have retired in the hay. She can’t tell how long has passed, but the air feels unnaturally still.

Zuhur lies stock still on her makeshift bed, listening carefully to the dead quiet of the night.

GM: Everything seems wholly natural, other than a cold stone in her stomache and an itch between her shoulder blades where the straw has been poking her.

Peilor: Peilor entered the establishment he was given and chewed his lip when they were not within, so he began to hit up the waitstaff certain they were one of the few people within that have been present all night.

Zuhur slowly raises herself, trying to make as little noise as possible. There’s little chance it will matter as she can hardly see, and the odds of this being anything more than stress and perhaps a fever dream are slim, but she has learned caution is rewarded far more than ignorance.

GM: A young woman with coppery hair offers a smile to Peilor. After he describes his quarry, her smile grows. “Oh, the Centurians?” she asks brightly. “They were here, all right, had a drink right over there.” She gestures toward an abandoned table on the far side of the common room.

GM: The hayloft creaks underfoot briefly as her weight shifts but otherwise doesn’t protest. The air feels clammy against her skin, wicking away her heat along with her cold sweat. There’s a soft scuffing noise beneath the loft, barely audible even in the near-silence.

Peilor: “Aw I was hopping to catch up with them here but i was delayed, I have a missive i have been sworn to hand deliver to them do you know where they were headed when they left? You would be doing me a huge favor.” He flashed his winning smile

GM: “Oh, I think they were headed to pay Barias a visit,” she says, thoughtfully. “If you hurry, you might just catch him before he closes his shop.” She proceeds to give directions.

Zuhur breathes softly, listening. Horses? Horse thieves? The fat, ill tempered owner? He can’t have been an assassin, surely? If that were true neither he nor Zuhur’s companion would have openly acknowledged their ties to such an organization. But, if they did… surely that organization, the… Gleam? Would have vested interest in disposing of any group that overheard of their existence. Wouldn’t they? Any decent band of ragtag cuthroats from her homeland would do as much, but Imperial assassins… surely they’d be at least as smart as that? Her mind was wandering into fantasies now. It was nothing. Might be nothing. Should she wake the others?

Peilor: Once he has the basic idea he starts for the door in a hurry but stops to give the young lady a wave and a wink. “You are a goddess of mercy to this poor messenger, thank you!” once out the door he rushes huriedly but not so fast to appear being chased or enough to flip up the skirt of his tunic.

GM: The silence has no answers for the dark-skinned foreigner, a soft breathing sound coming up from below.

GM: The streets nearly blur as he hurries to the building, the cold biting at his skin painfully from the quick retreat of the heat.

GM: Before long, he finds himself in front of a storefront, a warm glow coming from the window.

Peilor: He tries the handle, rubbing his thighs together for warmth as he waits.

Zuhur creeps forward, silently as possible. It’s clear that someone is below, perhaps will intent, perhaps unaware of their presence. Waking everyone would only cause a commotion, but venturing down alone might prove reckless and unwise. She inches silently towards Dekness’s sleeping form. While not the smallest of the group, he is likely quieter and more useful in close quarters than her barbarian… accomplice, and the red headed woman is likely unstable. She shakes Dekniss softely, whispering for him to remain quiet."

GM: The handle turns easily, allowing him entry into the storefront. Barias, the shopkeeper, looks at Peilor in surprise. “Er,” he says after a moment, “can I help you.”

Dekniss: Dekniss feels Zuhur shaking him awake and quietly opens his eyes. His body is tensed, unsure of what is happening.

Zuhur: “Someone’s moving downstairs.” Zuhur whispers. “Not sure if they’re after us, but we’d better make sure. How well can you see in this dark?”

GM: Once the sleep’s out of his eyes, he can see as well as Zuhur, his vision having adjusted.

Dekniss: Nodding his head in the dark, Dekniss quietly sits up and draws his sword from it’s sheath.

GM: The metal makes a low rasping noise, grating in the silence.

Zuhur crawls forward towards the opening of the loft, hand on the foreign blade attached to the belt under her shawl.

GM: You can’t make out anyone in front and below you, although a soft chuffing sound comes from directly below you, from outside of your view.

Peilor: “Yes, was there a group of people in here earlier.” He gave a quick description of each unsure if their centurion act had carried over to this establishment. " I have a message for them and i have been missing them by moments for over a week now…" Picking up that it was a clothing store he did his best to look as cold and miserable as possible, hoping to maybe stir up some sympathy in the form of a shoddy cast-off pair of pants.

Zuhur signals to Dekniss as she crouches above the opening. She will drop first and roll quickly out of the way as Dekniss drops down after her. Then, although the person below will likely be alerted, they will at least both be present and armed. Her hand motions are quiet eloquent, and worthy of song.

Dekniss: Dekniss nods his understanding and gets himself ready to follow Zuhur down.

GM: “Oh, the Centurians!” he says, delighted. “They were in here, all right. Apparently it’s been a hard time on them, with being unable to get supplies for their men,” he shakes his head slightly.

GM: On the count of three the two figures drop, the smaller nimbly leaping to the side, drawing the blade with a flourish as the Imperial man lands heavily, turning to face the stall and its dire inhabitant. A horse stares back at the two of you lazily, scuffing the ground with a hoof.

GM: From behind the duo comes the sound of soft applause. “It’s good to know that you’re not out of practice, Zuhur,” a soft, positively ancient-sounding voice says, followed by a low cough.

Zuhur turns, hand still clutching the handle of the blade beneath her shawl. She stares into the darkness towards the sound of that wretchedly familiar voice.

Peilor: “Yes, that is part of the message I have to give them… do you know where they were headed after their visit here?”

GM: The coughing subsides. “I trust you know why I’m here?” the voice asks, a shadow rising from against a nearby stall.

Dekniss: Dekniss looks questioningly at Zuhur and raises his eyebrows in the darkness.

GM: “They said that they had to investigate a merchant in the Inner City, but I doubt that you’re going to be able to get in there this late,” he says, frowning to himself. “I assume they’re staying in the Inner City, as well.”

Zuhur eased her stance, though only somewhat. She turns to Dekniss. “I… can handle this intruder. Thank you for your assistance, but… it would be best if you returned upstairs. I will follow you up shortly.”

Zuhur: “And, please…” Zuhur says after a brief moment. “Speak to no one of this.”

Peilor: He gave a weary smile. “Well I guess the hunt is on again. Do you mind if I warm myself by your fire for a moment?”

Dekniss: Dekniss shakes his head, still not understanding, but not willing to cause any problems at this time of night. He goes back up to the hayloft.

GM: “Oh my, of course not. It’s no time to be outside in the cold. Couldn’t this message wait for the morning?”

Zuhur watches Dekniss leave, hopefull that his would not reach the ears of the others. She turns back to the shadow in the dark, an edge creeping into her voice. “After the panthers and the snakes, your braying could wake me from death itself.” Zuhur relaxes, the sudden rise of emotion subsiding as quickly as her training allowed. “Name your price now, Witch, if that is what you intend.”

GM: “Such a simple price,” she says, warmly, before her voice twists into unhidden sardonism. “There is a new Commander in the nearby garrison; a rising star by all accounts. Loyal, dependable, and brave, he is the sum of what an Imperial citizen should aspire to be. I trust you know what to do.”

Zuhur: “There is more, I know.” Zuhur says, looking away towards the stables. “And I know it will do little good to try and pry the catches from you.” Her voice lowers, either through shame or malice. “Give me his name, and he shall die.”

Peilor: “It could, but knowing that group by the time i wake and make it to the inner city they will have wandered off to the gods only know where. They’re foreign legion you know, they dont think like you or me…” He warmed his bare legs in the fires glow trying to cut down some of the chill that had begun to permeate his bones." “Believe it or not this was a warm weather assignment when I started.”

GM: “His name? Commander Aurelius. I will know when you have finished with my price and then you are free.” Zuhur can practically /feel/ the smirk through the darkness. “And do take care, it wouldn’t do to replace you so soon.”

GM: “Indeed?” Barius asks, quirking an eyebrow slightly. “Where were you when it began?” he wonders aloud.

Zuhur: “No.” Zuhur says, turning away and approaching the ladder. “I suppose it would not.”

GM: “Don’t fail me, girl,” the woman says, coldly, to Zuhur’s back. “You’ll learn to appreciate my mercies before if you do,”

Zuhur climbs up the ladder to the hayloft, passing a glance at Dekniss as she returns to her resting spot. Now, of all times, to come calling. She had known this was coming, of course, and in truth it was less than what she feared. Murder, yes, but she had always expected that. That is why she was forged, in a way. It is what she was now. And the murder of a stranger… it was not so bad a price to pay.

Peilor: He stated the township he was arrested in, there was no way it could lead back to his true identity. Plus he was certain of Imperial presence and the fact that it was warmer there than it was here. But that thought process was not reflected on the outside and he said the name offhandedly as he attempted to rub the feeling back into his knees.

GM: “So far?” he asks, blinking to him. “You’re quite determined for a messenger. If this keeps up you’ll be having to travel through the snow.”

Peilor: “Well I am honor bound to deliver this missive, but I really hope it doesnt get much colder or i’m gonna have to soak my cape in pitch and walk around with it alight to stay warm.”

GM: “Why weren’t you given warm clothes? I’m sure if you explained your derth of attire to the Centurians in the Inner City they would be willing to clothe you…”

Peilor: “Well I definately didnt plan to be chasing them down this long. But you make a point, now i have two reasons to visit the inner city. Do you know if they lock up the gates at night?”

GM: He nods, “they do. I’m sure you’ll be able to get in tomorrow with proof of your identity, though.”

Peilor: “Well then I guess I will have to wait il morning anyway”
GM: He offers a smile. “I wish that I could offer you a place to stay for the night, but I should be closing shop up pretty soon.” He glances out the window momentarily, rearranging a few overstocked shelves.

Peilor: “I understand and i appreciate the sentiment, but all the same i should find a place to camp out thats closer to the inner wall. Maybe I’ll catch them on their way in, or their way out.” He gave the shopkeep a nod and started for the door.

GM: “Well,” the shopkeeper says, “I wish you luck in tracking down those Centurians,” he offers a wide grin. “And be sure to keep yourself warm tonight!”

Peilor: “I will definately try my good man!” He gave a wearly smile and headed out the door. He had run out of leads and it was getting late so he started back in the direction of the barracks.

GM: The barracks room has some soldiers resting in some of the cots, a few of them getting dressed for their patrol and grumbling to one another. But, most importantly, it has a cot in the back corner.

Peilor: Untying his makeshift cape he slipped into bed as quietly as he could. With a wide yawn he turned to jelly in the bed, even the lowest quality cot was worlds better than where he had bedded down the past short while.

View
The Entry

GM: The skies have been tinged with the faint touch of pink as the sun begins its downward decent toward the horizon. You have taken a brief break from your travels to enjoy some of the repast you liberated from the destroyed and wholly un-looted caravan of which you so recently were a prisoner of. However, you guesstimate that you have only several hours ‘til nightfall proper, and from the guards you were expected to arrive at the local garrison at about that time. Given that your only possessions are a scant few days’ food, Imperial uniforms that are rather unbecoming, and weaponry liberated from the recently deceased, spending time in the wilderness during the night seems an unpleasant, if not unhealthy, position to be in.

GM: You were unexpectedly hungry as you consumed your small repast, polishing off all the spare food you had managed to squirrel away not in your packs, leaving your stomachs full and your hands fry of the burden.

Riella glances up at the sky and to her compansions. She wears her ill-sized uniform proudly, uncaring about the bloodstains — if anything, she seems to prefer them. Shouldering her bow, she looks down the road, to their collective supplies, and finally to Zuhar. “What is your decision, bond-holder?” she asks, carefully looking at her shortbow. “I will go where you lead me.”

Zuhur: “The coming night, our rations and this alien land would have seem to have made our choice for us.” Zuhur says, looking over the oddly grassy plains towards the vague outline of the city near the horizon. “We must travel to the city, though what to do once we are near… that is another matter. We should make our way there, and decide on the way.”

Anemone: Anemone nods in agreement with Zuhur. " I agree with that assessment."

Dekniss: Nodding Dekniss agrees. “If you think it wise I can attempt to get closer to the entrance and see if there’s a way inside. Otherwise we can check the city’s perimeter for another way.”

GM: The road is a convienient slash across the land’s grassy rises and falls, albiet somewhat more unsteady and worn than those closer to the center of the Empire.

Peilor: Peilor yawned the long march had taxed him greatly and he really did not want to mess with any plans and just wabnted to get inside and find a warm place to sleep. “So if someone got inside do you think tere would be a way he could leave a door open or something open so everyone else could get in?”

Anemone: “Assuming there are doors in the wall that can just be left open…”

Peilor: “well… more like a water runoff grate or something less obvious and thusly less guarded.”

Dekniss: “The Empire isn’t in the habit of making doors in it’s walls unless they are guarded… but it’s possible that there may be some unofficial ways in or out.”

Zuhur: “Dekniss, is it typical for Imperial cities this far north to be heavily guarded?”

Dekniss: “The garrison isn’t likely to be in the city, so most of the guards should be there. Inside it would be mostly a few patrols and a man or two at each entrance.”

Peilor: “I might have a plan to get inside… but probably just me. Now if we can devise a way to sneak you guys in with my help on the inside that would be great, as i wount have your frostbitten deaths on my conscious and you can also hold my stuff!”

Zuhur: “Hmm.” Zuhur thinks, looking over the group. “Perhaps Dekniss could distract the guards at the gate with some manner of diversion, and allow us to slip in unnoticed?”

GM: As you continue to travel closer to the city, the cool wind proceeds to bite even harsher at your bared skin as the fleeing sun seeming to take what little heat residing in the air with it. The sky continues dark darken and the city draws nearer, illuminating itself with pinpricks of light that only grow as you approach. The proper city, as near you can tell as you approach, is encircled by tall and powerful walls of stone, around which has sprung countless buildings and alleyways which are, in turn, surrounded by a rough palisade.

Anemone: Anemone asks Peilor, “what is your plan?”

Zuhur: “There seems to be a more squalor ridden outer city, we’ll likely have less trouble entering there than continuing on to the main gates, whatever our plans end up being. They are likely used to refugees and vagabonds.” Zuhur says, adjusting her ill-fitting clothes.

Peilor: “I’ll approach the gates and tell them my family was on our way here to sell our wares but our caravan was attacked by raiders, unlikely I know but hang with me on this… I was the only one to get away and i’ll beg them to help them they’l either send a garrison out to help or at the very least take me in distracting them enough so you can slip in wherever you need to.”

Anemone: “I agree”, Anemone responds to Zuhur. “Although we may stand out in our outfits.”

Dekniss: “I can pass as a centurion in these clothes. The rest of you don’t really have the bearing of a centurion… but maybe in the dark we could get in the outer city.”

Anemone: “Dark could provide the cover we need, if we try to be as unassuming as possible.”

Zuhur: “Posing as a lone and traveling Centurian may raise more questions than it does dismissive glances. Peilor’s plan is a sound one, and if he is the best suited amongst us to lie with conviction, he may be the best choice for the disctraction, despite looking… rather too small for his clothes.” Zuhur says. looking betwen Peilor and Dekniss.

Anemone: “It seems worth a try. And worst comes worst, we only lose one of us.”

Dekniss: Turning to Peilor, Dekniss says, “You better come up with a reason for wearing a centurions uniform then. That’s highly suspicious.”

Zuhur: “These are uniforms? Truly?” Zuhur looks down at the loose and hastily bound cloth. “A drab and poor army to be sure.”

Peilor: “No problem there!” Pelior grins to himself as he begins to disrobe. tying his various trinkets and rubbish gather in his hirt and tying it off with a belt to make a handy bag which he sits down next to his companions with care. Then like a man possesed her throws himself to the ground rolling around in the dirt, pausing occasionally to slap himself about the face and chest just enough to produce welts he thien sits up calmly and musses his hair up before standing. " Watch my stuff okay?"

Zuhur grins at Peilor. “Inspired.”

Anemone: Anemone smirks. “Well then.”

Peilor: “Trust me i do this for a living, just stay out of sight for now” With that he took off in a sprint right at the main gate like the devil himself was after him exhaling paniced yelps when he could get enough air in his lungs.

GM: As you approach the gate the wind continues to pick up, inflicting itself onto the poor abused and exposed flesh of the disrobed young man. The entryway to the outer city becomes apparent as well, a series of lashed-together logs extending outward from the opening, two braziers burning merrily to either side of the road approaching the gate. And, at this distance you can make out a single guard standing at attention to the side of the gate, butt of their spear planted in the ground, the blade catching the light from the fires nearby.

Peilor: Peilor concentates on the braziers spuring him to get near them as close as possible.

Zuhur motions to the others. “We must get away from the road, hopefully there’s something nearby we can conceal outselves behind should the distraction work and the guard run past.”

Anemone: “A smart idea.”

GM: The guard continues standing at attention, oblivious to the group of would-be intruders and the nearly-naked man barelling toward the gates. Until, that is, he spills into the light of the fires.

Zuhur looks for a place off the road to hide.

GM: It’s harder than ever to find a place to hide in the deepening twilight, but make a… hmm, one sec.

GM: Spot check.
Anemone: 8
Zuhur: 8
Dekniss: 5

GM: The three of you manage to find nothing at all. The occasional tree scattered across the plains look like all there is to find.

Anemone: “Well, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to hide.”

Zuhur: “We’ll have to make do.” Says Zuhur, attempting her best to hide behind one of the scattered, small leaved trees.

GM: “Halt!” the guard calls out as soon as she manages to recover herself from the shock of a naked man running toward her. The pennant beneath the blade of her spear catches the wind, flaring out briefly. She shifts her weight from off her spear, lifting it from the dirt.

Peilor: Peilor drops to his knees exhausted when told to stop, not the most physically fit and already tired he took in breathes in deep ragged draughts. “MIsss….Please…. my family… you must…” He coughed harshly looking up at her with pleading eyes, not 100% certain of the womans maternal instincts given her line of work but if he was cursed with looking much younger than he actually was then he might as well use it. “Brigands…. they came out of nowhere!”

GM: Let’s see a Bluff!
Peilor: 25
Centurian: 18
GM: “Brigands?” she asks, curiously. “You poor thing, you look like you’re freezing.” She peers into the darkness to either side of the gate for a moment. “Why don’t I take you to my superior so you can tell him what happened?”

Anemone: “I can hear them. I will relay back to you what I hear.”

GM: Anemone uses her powers of hand-puppetry to convey the conversation to the others, taking some artistic licenses.

Peilor: “Bless you miss! Bless you! What about my family they wont last long with those beastly men they did this to me just to take my silk clothing … Gods… My sister please! Her virtue!”

Anemone: Anemone continues to whisper to her companions a synopsis of the conversation Peilor and the guard are having.

Zuhur thinks Anemone’s hand gesture for ‘virtue’ is entirely inappropriate.

GM: “We’ll send a message to the garrison,” the guard promises, offering a smile to Peilor. “Come with me and we’ll get all of this sorted out,” she promises, glancing again to the darkness before leading the way into the Inner City. The gate, for some span of time, is left unguarded.

Anemone: “Now is our chance! We must move quickly.”

Zuhur grabs Peilor’s meager supplies. “Hurry! Through the gate! Avoid the torchlights as best you’re able.”

Anemone: Anemone moves towards the gate quickly.

Dekniss: Dekniss rises and moves quickly to the gate with the others.

GM: Considering the lights, intentionally, lighten the entirety of the gateway that may be difficult. But it isn’t long before you’re standing on the rough cobblestone road behind the palisade, surrounded by building and the sounds of evening life. Peilor, however, is nowhere to be found, having been led off by the guard.

Zuhur quickly looks at their surroundings, trying to identify a place that could serve as temporary shelter.

Anemone: Anemone looks around, trying to look as calm as possible. No need to draw unnecessary attention to herself.

Dekniss: Dekniss does the same and comments, " We need to find new clothes as quickly as we can. Don’t want to get caught wearing these."

GM: Technically speaking, any building could serve as temporary shelter. The sounds of life are, however, deeper in the inner city, only the backs of buildings facing the clearing around the gatehouse.

Anemone: “Better keep moving. We are still obvious here.”

Zuhur tries to identify a building that either looks or sounds uninhabited, where they can stay long enough to either gather their wits into a more thought out plan or if the nature of the buildings allows, procure less suspicious clothing.

GM: You can only see the backs of the buildings, a small few with windows allowing some light from the interior to spill out onto the street. The road you’ve been following for days continues deeper into the outer city, eventually arriving at the towering gate to the inner city, as imposing as it is closed. You can see other streets and alleys diverge deeper into the outer city.

Zuhur: “We should take a back alley, to get away from this central street. If anyone is familiar with cities, choose one, otherwise one guess is as good as another.”

Anemone: “That seems the best idea so far. We certainly need to get off the beaten path.”

Dekniss: Dekniss moves forward motioning the others. “Let’s go and see what’s ahead here.”

Dekniss: He moves ahead until he can get a better look at the buildings.

Anemone: Anemone follows Dekniss.

GM: Moving to the first intersection, you finally see the outer city for what it is. Hard dirt paths make their way off of the cobblestone of the road, winding around larger buildings visiblw. And the building themselves appear to be barely-constrained chaos. Various storefronts face toward the gate, to better reel in customers from the few travellers, and you can notice several larger buildings, presumably storeyards and trading houses. The majority of the buildings are constructed from wood, but a rare few are constructed from a dark stone, the most eye-catching of which is a fairly spacious building, its door hanging open and spilling laughter onto the street, a sign above the door proclaiming it the Drowned Drake, a picture of a mug with tail-feathers poking from its top evident. You can hear, off in the distance, the sounds of a smithy. Of course, all of the shopkeepers and passersby stare, trying to not be obvious about it, at the dischordant party as they emerge into the lights, but it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and they go back to their business.

Anemone: “A tavern. That may be a good place to catch our wits. And blend in.”

Dekniss: Pointing to the tavern Dekniss says to the others. “We can probably duck in there. Find a dark table to hunch down in while one of us goes and gets some different clothing. Might have to sell some weapons first to get some money though, unless they can just steal the clothes.”

Zuhur: “Blending in may be out of the question.” Zuhur says, glancing behind herself at the gate. “But as long as they don’t wish us to pay for a dark and quiet corner, it may be as decent a place as any to quickly decide on our next action. Hopefully the… rather unsettling good liar can find us there.”

GM: Meanwhile, in a building deeper into the city, Peilor has been found a warm blanket and is sitting in a chair before a large desk and a larger man. He seemed fairly displeased that the guard (Juliana was the name he caught) had simply abandoned her post, but her explanation seemed to largely mollify him. Still, he doesn’t seem exactly pleased with him.

Anemone: “Stealing may not be a smart idea at the moment. I doubt we’ll get away with it, and I am not interesting in being arrested again. We’ll need another plan. We should see how much we have that can be sold.”

GM: “So,” he begins in a gravelly voice, “why don’t you tell me what you told my guard that convinced her to leave her post?”

Dekniss: “One of the swords should fetch enough for new clothing for us.”

Anemone: “That seems reasonable. Who among us could fetch the best price?”

GM: The mention of stealing catches the ear of one of the passerby, who hesitates for only a moment before continuing at a pace twice as fast.

Zuhur: “We should get to the tavern with haste.” Zuhur says, walking towards the building with purpose.

Anemone: “agreed.” Anemone goes into the tavern.

Dekniss nods and follows.

Peilor: “Sir please, my family is out there, I barely got away with my life and not much else you have to got help them….We are just wandering merchants, we linked up with some imperial troops moving between forts but the raiders they ambushed us out of nowhere and overtook us… there isn’t much time… my poor sister!”

GM: “Raiders attacking a caravan of imperial troops?” he asks, arching an eyebrow faintly. “And defeating them? How many did you say that there were?” Bluff check.

Peilor: “Only a handful… 5 or 6 they had came back late from patrol and missed the main troop movement… I couldn’t even count the raiders they kept attacking from the direction of the sunset and then retreating until all the soldiers were dead leaving us and our cart undefended”
Peilor: 26

GM: The doorway opens into a room flanked by two circular tables, both currently abandoned but with a candle burning into them. The laughter and voice comes from further in, through double-doors. Passing through those you come to the bulk of the inn, spread with tables far outnumbering the number of patrons. Two groups of patrons are drinking, three guards at a square table facing away from the doorway, and four decidedly rougher looking men sitting deeper into the room. The latter group notices when you enter, expressions darkening visibly. A young woman dressed as a serving wench, hair the color of copper, notices your entry and offers you a smile before moving to the back room.

GM: “Leaving your cart undefended?” He asks, noncommitally. “Why would they not simply raid your cart themselves?”

Zuhur: “Of course.” Zuhur whispers under her breath, spotting the guards. We should find a table near the back, where we can be inconcipicious. Or as much as our apperance will allow."

GM: It isn’t long before a middle-aged man, wiry and taut, emerges from the back to make his way to the four. “Ah!” he says, brightly. “I had thought that my daughter had been exaggurating with her tale of Centurians gracing my humble business, but I can see that her fancies haven’t gotten the better of her. Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to the Drowning Drake. It’s the finest establishment in the outer city of Halport, so I hear.”

GM: Any of the patrons that missed your entry earlier are presently staring at you over their drinks.

Anemone: “Hello! We’re weary from our travels, and are looking to collect ourselves for a bit. If you don’t mind, we’ll sit down.”

Zuhur nudges Dekniss, the most paletable Centurian in the group. If he speaks for them, hopefully she and the others will be overlooked.

GM: “Of course, my lady,” he says, bowing with a flourish. “Sit and rest; I cannot imagine what business could bring your business to my humble inn so far from the troubles of the Empire. And,” he flashes a bright smile, “I shall have my daughter soothe your soreness with a round of drinks on the house. Can’t have you complaining about my generosity, now can I?”

Zuhur: “Ah, yes. Thank you.” Zuhur says, trying to make an easy smile. “Something quiet and out of the way.”

Anemone: Anemone, a little surprised that the tavern-keep bought her ruse, sits down at a nearby table.

Peilor: He tilted his head a bit. “are you asking why the imperial troopers didn’t raid our goods themselves?” he shook his head getting visiably angry falling deeper into his role clenchign his fists and glaring up at the man through crocdile tears. “My family could be being murdered this very second… my sister raped and your here asking stupid questions! If my luck wasnt already bad enough, I leave my family to their fate to hopefully bring back help and who do a find a cold-hearted old man who doubts the truth when it stands before him naked and bruised… Well to hell with you sir I willfind someone no dead inside to lend me a sword and threadbare suit of clothes and I will do your job for you… I just hope when you get word for other travels about as wrecked cart and dead soldiers you feel this big…” He punctuated this statment by placing his index and thumb as close to each other as they would go without touching.

GM: “Why, of course!” he says, brightly, as he leads the four to a table. “Is there anything that I might be able to provide you with your drinks? We have some freshly baked bread of course, my wife can make bread that would bring tears to even the Bladestorm’s eyes. Of course, we have fresh venison if that is more to your palate?”

GM: Bluff, Peilor.
Peilor: 29

Zuhur: “Thank you.” Zuhur says, sitting down. “But we’re not… hungry. The drinks and a place to sit and rest will be fine.”
GM: “Sit down,” the captian says, sighing heavily. “It can be difficult to find truth these days, is all. It pays for a man in my position to be cautious.” He stands up slowly, a mountain of man, favoring his left leg every so slightly. “I will dispatch a messenger to the garrison; the guard has little authority outside of the city, you understand.”

GM: “Very well,” he says, beaming a smile again as he starts back to the back room, leaving you four in relative isolation, the guards and other customers largely having gotten over the surprise of your arrival.

Dekniss: When the man leaves Dekniss turns to the others. “We really shouldn’t have gathered so much attention, I fear we may be in trouble all ready. We need to get out of these clothes and away from here. Someone needs to get us new outfits.”

Zuhur: “Truly.” Zuhur says glancing at her and Anemone’s ill fitting uniforms. “Although I suppose it’s better we were taken as Centurians than the alternative.”

Anemone: “So far we seem to be passing as centurians fairly well. We may be able to use this to our advantage, at least for the time being.”

Zuhur: “I’d prefer to be taken as a nobody.” Zuhur says, watching the crowd at the inn.

Anemone: “Not even for a free drink after a long day?”

Peilor: He drops down in the chair visibly exhausted bowing his head. “I… understand and if those soldiers couldn’t… I wouldnt want more people to… I…. I just want…. to know I did everything… i could to save them…. i’m sorry… I said all that” He wiped the tears gathering in his eyes and looked at the man sternly.

Zuhur: “This is a dangerous gamble we’ve entered already. We should remain her only long enough to decide what our next move should be.”

Dekniss: Dekniss nods towards the rough looking men drinking in the back. “I don’t think they like centurians. And the guards will no doubt gossip about us being in here. It’s better to just look like weary travelers.”

GM: The ‘crowd’ consists of seven other people. Eight, when the proprieter’s daughter comes out from the back room, four mugs on a tray, making her way toward the table with a smile. “Well,” she says, as she arrives and begins to set the mugs down, "I don’t think /anyone/ is likely to believe we had Centurians in here tonight.

Dekniss: Dekniss nods to her. “Don’t worry, we won’t stay long. It’s just been a long march and we need to quench our thirst with something other than warm water.”

Zuhur: “A pity.” Zuhur says, taking the mug and giving the server as much a smile as she can muster.

GM: He reaches out across the table, setting a heavy slab of a hand onto Peilor’s shoulder and nearly unbalancing him in the chair. “You did, son,” he offers gravely. “We will see your family avenged, of that I assure you.”

Anemone: “I suppose we’ll be long gone before you have a chance to prove it. We appreciate the hospitality.”

GM: She offers a smile to them again. “That’s a shame,” she says, peering at the more curious members of your ‘band’. “Don’t see very many foreign Centurians.”

Zuhur: “We’re not a popular troop.” Zuhur says.

Anemone: Anemone drinks the beverage, trying to look like she was who the tavern people thought she was.

Zuhur: “Underperforming or simply undesirable soldiers get shuffled into our ranks. We’re also rather low on the list of proper logistics.” Zuhur says, tugging her uniform.

Dekniss: “Speaking of which, you wouldn’t happen to know the closest place to get fitting clothes, would you? I think it’s about time we see if we can’t get those uniforms to fit properly.” Dekniss says addressing the woman.

GM: The drink is, blissfully, warm and heavily spiced to create a delightful mixture of heady delicious flavors that harkens back to before you were a wanted criminal and prisoner. “So which are you four?” she asks, Zuhur, smiling brightly. She turns to Dekniss at the question, thoughtful expression crossing her face. “Well,” she starts, “if you have the coin to spare, Madam Augusta is the most skilled hand with a needle that I’ve seen.”

Zuhur: “A mix of them all.” Zuhur says, a bitter twinge in her voice. She takes a sip of the spiced drink before responding to the suggestion of a tailor. “We haven’t seen a pay wagon in gods know how long. Is their a poor man’s tailor around or will we have to wait for command to deign to pay us?”

GM: “Well,” she says, “you could always pay Barias a visit if you’re less concerned about quality. He’s the proprieter of The Baroque Crimson. He doesn’t tailor, but usually has a wide variety of stock for surprisingly little.”

Peilor: “Thank you, it wont bring them back and i feel horible that i ran away… but it relieves me greatly to hear that at least people know what happened and hopefully it wont happen again…” He slumped in his chair more noting the fact that oddly enough he more than likely would not have been able to pull this con off had he had not been marched through the cold for days and spent the afternoon watching men die. Plus those bandits might be dealt with so no real harm came from his lie all in all he was pleased greatly with his preformance.

Anemone: “Where could we find Barias?”

GM: “Fear grips all mens’ hearts,” the captain says grimly. “Do you have a place to stay for the night? Relatives nearby, mayhap?”

GM: “Oh, the Baroque Crimson is right next to the Golden Bounty trading house; Barias runs it as well.” She pauses slightly. “Oh, but you haven’t been to Halport before, have you?” She proceeds to give some directions to the building; it’s not too far off of the road, but far closer to the Inner City.

Anemone: “I don’t suppose its open this time of night?”

Zuhur: “Thank you.” Zuhur says, tipping up her mug in the manner she’s relatively certain she’s seen imperial men who wish good tidings on others do. “And the drinks are wonderful. I’ll recommend this place to anyone who asks for a good tavern.”

Peilor: “Not really… as I said were were traveling merchants I believe i have and aunt that lives in a port town to the north or maybe the west… we stopped by once when i was much younger…”

GM: “It probably is,” she notes, shrugging expressively. “Barias keeps strange hours. And I’m sure my father would appreciate that, despite the lack of competition,” she beams again.

GM: “It would be days simply to villages,” he remarks, slowly. “I will have one of my guards find you a cot in the barracks. It isn’t much, but it is more than you would find for free in this city.”

Dekniss looks to the others and then says, “Perhaps it’s best if we try and make it there before it closes. We should try and be presentable before making it to the garrison.” Looking to the woman he nods and thanks her, finishing his drink he stands to leave.

Anemone smiles at the woman and thanks her. “We’ll be going now, but thank you for the hospitality.” She follows Dekniss out.

Zuhur: “Agreed.” Zuhur says, taking another drink and standing. “We apologize for rushing out. We’ll return whenever we’re able to spend proper coing again.”

GM: The room spins briefly as Dekniss and Zuhur stand; it has been some time since they’ve had cause to drink anything much harder than water. It doesn’t last, though, thankfully. “I’ll give my father your regards,” she offers brightly, before turning to see to the other customers.

Dekniss: Dekniss quickly moves outside.

Zuhur: “Let’s hurry.” Zuhur says, setting down her now empty mug. “We can work out how to pay for the clothes when we’re there. He may take these uniforms in trade for some poor quality clothes that fit, at least.”

Dekniss: “Let’s try and avoid people as much as possible. Just look like you know where you’re going, march with your head high and don’t stare at anyone. Let’s go.”

GM: Following the girl’s directions, you find yourselves outside of a gaudily-painted storefront, the traffic further from the gate lessened somewhat; most of the buildings around seem to be homes.

Dekniss looks to see if it is open and if it is steps into the store.

Zuhur steps inside, glancing about at the interior and looking for Barias.

Anemone follows her companions into the store.

GM: To call the cramped store chaotic gives chaos quite a bit of credit. Quite possibly everything is on display on the interior (barring weapons and armor, of course); clothing, equipment, and trade goods scattered about in half-organized piles. To put it planer, the store holds /too many/ goods for sale than a building its size would suggest. A large man stands behind the counter, dressed lavishly in reds, and glances over your attire as you entire. “Centurians?” he asks, disbelieving.

Zuhur: “Despite everyone’s best efforts, yes.” Zuhur says to the shopkeeper. “We’re looking for some clothes. Ones that actually fit, if at all possible.” The indignation of a thousand haggling customers bleeds from her voice.

GM: Let’s see… Bluff, Zuhur.
Zuhur: 20

Anemone: “Clothes that fit would be LOVELY, sir. We’ve been walking in these ill-fitting rags for ages.”

GM: “Why,” he says brightly, “of course, m’lady. I just bought a shipment of clothes, actually, from a trader who was just positively /desperate/ to offload them.” He bustles from behind his counter, deftly maneuvering through the positive piles of trade goods to clear off one of countless nondescript wooden crates. Inside is a plethora of cloth in countless different cuts and materials. “Of course,” he continues cheerily, “if these don’t fit, I am sure I have other clothes about here somewhere…”

Zuhur: “Thank you.” Zuhur says, rather relieved. “Something you’d take in trade for our old uniforms would be wonderful.”

GM: “Your uniforms?” he asks, eyeing them for a minute. “I’m not sure,” he finally says, a little unsteadily. Whomever wants to convince him, hit him with a social skill with appropriate use.

Anemone: "I"m sure you could sell them at quite a mark-up!"

GM: Bluff, Anemone.
Anemone: 8

GM: “I’m afraid that I can’t do that, unfortuantely,” he says, sighing softly. “The guards take poorly to selling anything official, as I’m sure you can understand.”

Anemone: "I"m sure taking our uniforms could help generate some goodwill with the local garrison, though."

GM: “How, exactly?” he asks, flustered. Bluff.
Anemone: 5

Zuhur: “We were more or less counting on you taking the uniforms in trade.” Zuhur says. glancing about the store. “We’re out of coin otherwise. Is there some task or service we could do for you in payment for some basic clothing?”

GM: “Oh, nonono,” the shopkeeper says, defensively. “There is no way that I could ask persons of your stature to be simple day laborers. Why, if you’re that strapped for coinage, then I /insist/ that you allow me to treat you to one. It is the least I can do, until you find yourself in a more stable standing.”

Anemone: “We appreciate that,” Anemone says.

Zuhur: “Ah… thank you.” Zuhur says, somewhat taken aback. “I’ll be sure and tell our superiors of your generosity, if they ever decide to pay half a mind to us.”

GM: “Well, then,” he says brightly. “I shall leave you to your search.” He manages to manaeuver his weight back to the desk, leaving you with the box full of clothes.

Dekniss nods gratefully to the proprietor.

Zuhur searches through the box for something of suitable style and more importantly, fit.

Anemone looks through the box, hoping to find something a bit less obvious.

GM: There is an eclectic mix in there. Rough commoner’s clothing, elegant gowns of fine silks embroidered with patterns that show the designer’s lack of skill with a needle. It isn’t until Zuhur pulls out a creme gown that there’s a strange tickling of familiarity with some of the pieces in the box.

Dekniss finds underclothes that the armor can be worn over and then some baggy loose fitting clothing that can go over and conceal the armor.

Zuhur frowns, examining the gown more closely, as well as any other pieces that trigger her senses.

GM: It is a difficult find. The underclothes are easily enough, but the closest that he can find that matches the latter is a large tunic that /technically/ would conceal the chain mail, albiet the added bulk would be visible.

GM: It is a fine piece and one that reminds Zuhur uncannily of another gown of the sort she’d traded away some years past.

GM: A piece that, to the best of her knowledge, never made it to a market.

Dekniss: If it wouldn’t be too noticeable Dekniss wears it anyway.

Zuhur lifts up the gown, opening the neck and examining it in the light for an embroidered seal.

GM: Digging through the box, Aenemone manages to find a blouse and pair of trousers of rather simple make and dark material.

GM: In the light, she can make the seal out easily, a stark reminder in this curious box of clothes.

Zuhur: “…Curious.” Zuhur mutters under her breath. It was years ago, and the dress could have changed hands any number of times. Some may even have been legitimate. Still, to find one of their pieces so far north… She turns to the shopkeeper, holding up the gown, an authoratative edge in her voice. “Who exactly did you purchase these from?”

GM: “Hm?” he asks, glancing up from his ledger resting on the counter. “Was that in the box?” he asks, curiously. “I bought it from a gentleman… what was his name…. representing one of the larger trade companies. They usually operate in the Inner City, but they usually come to me to offload some of their more difficult goods.”

Zuhur: “I see.” Zuhur says, still watching the shopkeeper. ‘Difficult Goods’ was term she’d heard often enough. “We’d be very interested in talking to the man.”

GM: “That shouldn’t be too large a problem,” he responds. “He should be in the Tullius Trading building in the Inner City.”

Zuhur: “Thank you.” She says, turning back to the box. “And if you see him again before we do, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it if you didn’t let him know we’re planning on having a chat.” She looks through the box, half tempted on taking the cream gown for nostalgia’s sake, but knowing she’d likely need something more practical.

GM: “Of… of course,” he says, frowning concernedly.

View
The Escape
In Which Bonds are Broken

Cast: Pelior played by Elta, Riella played by herself, Anemone played by Nikki, Dekniss played by himself, and Zuhur played by DFM.

GM: You cannot count the days that you have been travelling, a haggard band of prisoners surrounded by guards enough to quell any hopes of escape that may have rooted within your hearts. Every day is the same, walking in a column flanked by the guards, each bound to the prisoner behind and foward and, at night, you stop for a brief respite from the constant marching.

GM: The mood is a somber one, even the guards barely speaking to one another and, even then, in barely more than a whisper. The road on which you walk is hardly more comforting; orignally it was smooth cobblestone as you were closer to the heart of the Empire but this far out it is uneven and sloped, with weeds struggling to break through the surface. Even the weather seems to be possessed of a dark mood, the common wind carrying with it a chill that cuts through the ragged clothing you each are wearing, scratchy and uncomfortable. The scattered trees you pass seem to be possessed of their own meloncholy, the deciduous trees having their leaves darken in the cold weather before falling to the ground to color the greenery beneath, while the firs simply seem to have slumped over.

GM: Earlier into the march, your guards were far more energetic in their punishments of you, even at a minor thing as speaking, but in the weeks that you’ve spent together their attention has rather waned. They still watch the lot of you sharply, of course, but their eagerness to get to a warm fire and a warm drink is obviously wearing on their minds. For that reason, you have been able to speak among yourselves largely unmolested, although speaking too loudly or eagerly tends to draw their ire regardless.

GM: Each of you are fairly noteworthy on your own: from the dark-skinned child of the desert leading the ‘caravan’, the scarred and large man marked by his olive skin as an imperial citizen by birth, the significantly smaller woman with equally olive skin and flaming red hair, the curiously light-skinned and -haired woman yet behind her, to the fairly unassuming young man taking up the rear.

Riella glances at her fellow ‘travelers’ and scowls. She’s barely said a word for the duration of the trip, only letting out streams of profanity at the guards that earn her harsh beatings. She rubs her right eye, tracing the red arrow tattoo across her eyelid — she seems to do it quite often, but she hasn’t a hint as to why she does so.

Dekniss glances at the woman behind him and shakes his head. The guards have been getting lax, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t handle a few pitiful prisoners, and he knew without his sword, he was at a disadvantage.

Anemone brushes her hair back, trying to untangle it. She notices the man in front looking back at her, but can’t think of anything to say. There hasn’t been anything to say for weeks.

Zuhur trudges ahead of the others, her attention lately drawn to the broken road ahead. Although she has typically come across as solem and resrved throughout the guarded march to the imperial labor camp, there have been nights where the stone fades away, hints of the lively and joyful woman she may have been before her capture.

Riella: “You. Red-head,” she says, poking Anemone in her back. “Do you know where we are? I’ve never been in this part of the shit lands.” She speaks a clipped but precise accent — it isn’t her first language, but she seems to be fairly proficient in it.

Anemone twitches, realizing the woman behind her is poking her. “No, I have no idea where we are.”

GM: One of the guards glances toward Riella at the mention of shit-lands, his mouth compressing slightly but he continues his march; obviously his arm is too tired and the weather getting at him too much to punish the woman so easily.

Pelior brought up the rear flanked by two guards quashing any plans to wiggle free and take off in a sprint. Normally one could not find a way to get him to shut his mouth but between the oppresive surroundings and the blows to the head he recieved while in holding he was strangely silent. Chewing his lip when the women infront of him struck up a conversation he glanced to his left and right to figure out if the guards where going to stop them.

GM: As you top a hill, you can see a city some distance before you, stone walls standing in stark contrast to the greenery and forest standing some distance behind it. To the right, and somewhat further than the city is another walled settlement, the size suggesting it is a military encampment rather than the city. Between you and it, however, lies a stream, crossed by a single arching stone bridge, supports showing signs of lack of maintenance. At the sight, the guards jerk on the ropes to get you to move faster, their attention obviously shifting to getting to civilization as soon as possible. One of the guards calls out to the wagon trailing behind, carrying foodstuffs and other supplies, and they lash out with the whip to the oxen, axle creaking as it speeds up.

GM: Beyond the bridge, you can see the ruined and crumbling remains of a wall, long-since retaken by nature and overriden by vines and ivy. You can see various weeds and plants growing against and slowly tearing the remains of the ancient fortications down.

GM: Listen Checks, the lot of you.
Dekniss: 13
Zuhur: 22
Anemone: 19
Riella: 12
Peilor: 17

Riella glances back at Peilor, scowl lessened by her curiosity at the ruins. “Boy. You know this place?”

GM: Zuhur can hear off to her left the faint sound of something rustling the leaves behind one of the trees but, if she glances that way, she can’t see anything hidden in the shadows. One of the guards turns to another hesitantly.

Centurian 2: “It will be nice to be rid of this lot and in an inn with a stiff drink.” He gestures with his shield’d hand toward the prisoners.

Zuhur continues to watch the tree, warily, though she makes no obvious motion towards either the guards or her fellow prisoners.

Dekniss: Seeing the woman in front of him looking towards the trees, Dekniss glances that way also.

Centurian 3: “You’re not kidding,” he says gruffly. “Feels like we’re going to turn into barbarians if we’re out in the wilderess much longer.”

GM: The tree sits on the grass, menacing with its inaction.

Elta: Pelior blinked a bit when he was asked. “From context clues… I am guessing its a town.”

GM: All the guards share a brief laugh, an almost strange sound for so long its absense, but the commander cuts them off with a gesture, signalling a halt.

The Captain looks about the area as he slowly lowers his hand to his sword’s hilt, the tautness of the rope trailing from his shield hand mirrored by the sudden wariness of his movements.

Riella: “Hmph. Pig dogs seem scared. Can’t be a bad thing.”

Zuhur shifts her gaze from the tree to the worn and crumbling bridge. Her muscles tense, instinctively. An ambush? This would be as ideal a location as the wretched northern ground allows for miles, but why now? Why them? A convoy of the pitful and the damned holds no interest to bandits and marauders, surely?

Elta: “Humans are valueable cargo to right buyer… or so i hear.”

Centurian 4: “Hold your tongue, barbarian scum,” the guard growls to Riella, “or it will be cut from your—”

Captain: “Ambush!” the captain cries, drawing his weapon quickly. “To steel, lads!” He spins toward the trees, an arrow protruding from the guard beside him suddenly and with a shrill scream.

GM: A scream erupts from both sides of the roads as the guard falls to the ground, blood leaking from his face profusely, before a number of large figures, clad in scant clothing and each wielding a sword nearly the height of a lesser man or a short bow steps into view on either side. The guards recover from their surprise, moving into a defensive position.

Dekniss: Seeing the guard fall dead from an arrow Dekniss’s military training takes over and he drops to the ground.

Nikki: Anemone notices the man in front of her dropping to the ground, and does the same.

GM: From his military training, Dekniss remembers one other fact of barbarians raids: they don’t take prisoners.

Riella grins when she sees the arrow. Once she drops to the ground she begins to crawl towards the downed guard as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.

Dekniss: Dekniss checks to see if he can get to the fallen guards weapon.

Zuhur dives as low and off the road as her bondage allows. Tied like this, she cannot flee, and with no weapon she cannot hope to win a fight. She attempts to crawl or reach as forward as she can to relieve the punctured guard of their sword.

GM: Given how they are bound, only Zuhur is able to reach the weapon in time of the downed guard.

Elta: Pelior is tugged down when everyone else decides to get down, muttering under his breath he starts trying to get out of his bindings.

GM: Escape Artist check, Pelior.
Peilor: 13

With the gladus in her bound hands, Zuhur first attempts to free her hands from both each other and the prisoners behind.

GM: Confound these ropes! If he wasn’t forced to lie on the ground he would be able to escape them with ease, but at this position….

Nikki: Anemone glances around quickly, and realizes she has needs to try to escape her bonds. She struggles against them, trying to see if there is any way.

Dekniss: Dekniss whispers to the woman in front of him. “If you can, cut my bonds and we can free all of us.”

GM: Escape artist, Ane.
Anemone: 17

Riella: “I’ll swear my allegience to the one who frees me,” she hisses.

GM: As the desert-born harrier begins to awkwardly cut herself loose (Anemone running into similar issues as the young man two behind her), the barbarians let out another cry, charging toward the guards. One of the barbarians, however, hangs back, watching the proceedings from a distance. His armor looks to be more ceremonial than the roughly-constructed ones of his fellows.

Elta: Peilor growls and tugs at his bounds not above getting down there and chewing at the ropes knowing the guards are too preoccupied to stop him.

GM: As barbarian and guard clash, the sound of metal on metal and swords hewing at the wooden shields of the imperial guards.

GM: Reroll escape artist!
Peilor: 20
Anemone: 13

GM: Both of the more dextrous prisoners find that their skills are likewise unsuccessful, although the pressure of the situation does not help.

Nikki: Anemone continues to struggle with her bonds.

Dekniss: Dekniss urges the now freed woman to cut his bonds and try and get the others free.

DFM: Her bonds undone, Zuhur turns to the large, carved man behind her. Trust has not been kind to her in the past, but that was betrayal from an unlikely source. A large, scarred prisoner would not be, perhaps, an unlikely source. With the gladus, she attempts to cut his bonds.

GM: Freed from her own bondage, the ropes are simple to cut through, and soon the large man has joined her in freedom, the ropes falling to the ground. The captain finally notices her escape attempt, obviously torn by the situation, but his contemplation of which to do is cut off as the other barbarians reach him and his men, screaming for blood.

Anemone notices that the two prisoners in front of her have been freed. “If you free me, I can help fight!” she yells. She’s not even sure she’ll have to fight, but she has to say something…

GM: On the other side, the battle has joined and one of the guards earns a cruel slash to his leg, sending him to the ground and using his shield above him to try and protect him. The other gets a lucky hit on the barbarian, but another joins the first to batter him down.

Dekniss: Dekniss attempts to help free the other prisoners knowing that they will have to get away from the battle if they wish to survive.

GM: Reroll Escape, whomever wants.
Anemone: 15
Peilor: 18
Riella: 5

Riella struggles to break free of her bonds. She wants to escape, but she doesn’t want to be indebted if she doesn’t have to be. Stupid barbarian code.

GM: None of those struggling at their bonds are able to slip free; whomever tied these knots was obviously not only dedicated but skilled at his craft of binding prisoners!

DFM: “Can you free her?” Zuhur asks the large man as she passes the red haired woman, hurredly and desperately attempting to cut the bonds of the two remaining prisoners.

Dekniss nods and attempts to break her free of her bonds.

GM: Strength check.
Dekniss: 6

Anemone continues to struggle against her bonds, after the man in front of her has failed to free her.

GM: The ropes manage to withstand the strength of the large man, confounding him however briefly.

Dekniss: Dekniss continues trying to free her, wishing he also had a blade of some kind.

GM: As the desert-born woman manages to free the two other prisoners with the utterly foreign sword, the battle continues to rage. The captain ducks beneath a blow by the barbarian attacking him to thrust his sword into the gut of the barbarian as the guard nearest moves to help defend him even as it falls to the ground. The felled guard from earlier meets his own end as the massive blade of the barbarians hews through his shield to split his skull the remaining guards faring poorly in the face of such aggression

Anemone notices everyone else is free. She yells, “Can I not be cut free as well? Or will I be left here to die?”

The Captain turns to the prisoners, scowling darkly. “Flee if you must, prisoner scum,” he growls out, barely audible over the screams of the wounded and dying, “but you will not escape justice.”

Riella: “I’ll tell your wife that when I murder her in your home,” she scoweled back. Noticing the dead Centurian, she rushes towards his body, grabs the sword, and cuts through Anemone’s bonds (if possible).

Zuhur hurries back from the ends of the prisoner chain, grabbing the still bound woman by the shoulder as she begins to run. “Quickly, everyone! To… to…” Her feet and her tongue falter. She does not know where to run.

Raider 4 glowers obviously toward the barbarian woman as she takes up the sword of the fallen guard, hefting his blood-stained blade from the pool of blood and gore that was once a man’s face.

Pelior looks up from wiggling free as the guard to his left dropped wondering if the raiders we better captors then these idiotic grunts, maybe he could talk his way out of this mess with them.

GM: Back the way you came offers no cover, no place to hide from the barbarian raiders. Even if you could outpace them, you would find no shelter from the elements of the cooling autumn

Riella stares back at the raider, eyes narrowed as she clumsily raises the foreign blade. “Plains Dragons,” she says, motioning to the tattoo over her eye.

Raider 4 affects no familiarity, continuing to scowl darkly.

Dekniss: Whispering to the others Dekniss tells them barbarians don’t take prisoners. Unless something miraculous happens, they need to get away now.

DFM: “Hurry!” Zuhur shouts to the others as she begins to run down the road. “We must be swift!”

Anemone hears the man say they need to get away. “He’s right!” she yells. We need to get away as quickly as possible!

Riella glares at the barbarian, although whether it’s difficult to tell whether it’s from insane bravado, nervousness, or fear. She follows the others down the bridge, mournfully eying the short bow as she runs past it.

GM: As the prisoners quit the field, they can hear the sounds of battle and screaming behind them. It’s a loud, and foreign sound to those unused to the cruelties of war. Another man’s scream is cut off, but you cannot tell if they were guard or barbarian.

Riella: “You, boy,” she says to Peilor as she runs. “Can you use this?” She holds up the sword, a distasteful expression on her face.

GM: The city was across the bridge, yes. Also the crumbling ruins.

DFM: “Towards the city!” Zuhur shouts, glancing behind her and hopefully out of earshot from the distracted guard. Though her plan would be, she admits, obvious. “We may be able to hide within!”

Riella: “Idiot, do we look like we can hide in the city?!” She motions to her hair and eyes, as well as Anemone and Zuhars.

Elta: “Please stop calling me boy I am not a child, and i can hold it and look like i know what I am doing but other than that I doubt I’d be very effective”

Riella: “You’re a boy until I see you kill a pig dog.” Noticing the fallen barbarian, she takes off towards him and scoops up his weapons before running back down the bridge.

GM: The prisoners all continue their flight, the run invigorating them for the possibility of the escape, but the cutting wind reminds them of their attire: little more than sackcloth, hardly anything to avoid attracting attention in. The ruined walls lie off to the side, promising some reprieve from the wind… Behind them, the battle continues to rage.

Nikki: “Maybe we should try the ruins!” Anemone yells.

GM: The bow is easy enough to gather, though slick with warm blood; his quiver, on the other hand, is trapped beneath his bulk.

Dekniss: To the others Dekniss motions to the wall. “We could hide there, if the barbarians don’t see us.”

Elta: “though the threat of a wound can be just as effective as actually dealing the blow… I’ll take it”

GM: As the two turn back to loot the dead of a battle still ongoing, they see another guard struck down, a spray of blood taking to the sky in the wake of a powerful blow by one of the barbarians.

DFM: “It will be out of sight for a time.” Zuhur says to the nearby prisoners. “We can decide our next move if we’re quick.”

Riella stares downa the body and growls. “Fuck.” She hands Elta the barbarians sword, gathers the centurions sword, and then runs like hell.

Nikki: Anemone runs to hide behind the wall, and notices several of the other prisoners have joined her. She catches her breath.

GM: Behind the wall, you are spared the sight of men being slaughtered, though the sounds continue to assail your ears.

Riella stares at the sight with an almost rapturous expression. She shakes her head and murmurs something in her tongue, then turning to her fellow prisoners and looking them up and down.

GM: The other prisoners are not visible from where she is, but there are limited places to hide in this terrain.

Elta: “W-wait” Peilor hefts the barbarian blade onto his shoulder and sprints after them all.

DFM: “This may be short lived.” Zuhur says, pressing her back to the wall and testing the weight of the foreign blade. “We cannot go back, and we cannot truly go forward unless the northern cities are truly as lawless as their rumors.”

Nikki: “We cannot stay here for long, but we can at least gather our wits. They sound…quite busy back there.”

Dekniss: “We have a few weapons, who can use them if we need to defend ourselves?”

GM: The prisoners sit against the wall, hearing the vicious sounds of battle. Then, suddenly, all falls silent. There is a loud wooden crashing sound, but then… nothing. A voice shouts out something in an unrecognisable tongue briefly, but as time passes, pursuit seems less likely.

Elta: “erm…”

GM: The blades are all wet and warm with blood, already drying to a sticky residue.

Riella: “I hope the Captain lives. He needs to see me kill his woman,” she says in a disturbingly casual voice.

Nikki: “Maybe they will not pursue after all.”

Peilor creeps over to the edge of the wall to peer around not willing to just hope they are gonna go away.

Riella: “It sounds quiet,” Riella says. She listens carefully, trying to catch any hint of either barbarian or centurion.

GM: Peeeering out ever so slightly, Elta sees… nothing.

GM: The dead bodies of the guardians, the destroyed wagon… but not a barbarian in sight.

GM: Not even the dead ones.

Elta: “They’re gone…”

DFM: “It’s possible the barbarians left some supplies unraided.” Zuhur says. “We should see what remains. It’s doubtful we’ll find any food remaining, but… clothes, perhaps. Maybe even weapons.”

Elta: “What if they are just reseting the ambush… just with jucier bait…”

Nikki: “Perhaps we should give it some time…they might not be gone yet. Just…waiting.”

Riella: “Agreed. And if they’re laying an ambush, we’ll be crafty. I can hide almost as well as I can ride.” She looks to the others, waiting for their reactions/volunteering.

Riella: “Well. Half as well. I ride like the wind.”

Nikki: “I can hide, but would rather not risk it at the moment, considering I am unarmed. Even waiting a few minutes would be safer.”

Dekniss: “If you think you can make it unobserved, go for it. I know that I cannot.”

Elta: "The wilderness was pretty sparce back there seeing a wrecked caravan in the distance may draw people thinking “Maybe the radiers left something behind”. "

DFM: “I can remain hidden, if need be.” Zehur says, words carrying a barely concealed weight. “I can investigate with the pale one, if no one else is able.”

Riella nods. “If they’re anything like my clan, they’ll hide until someone comes close. Then sweep in and collect heads.”

Nikki: “In that case, its better to wait it out. Why risk getting killed?”

Riella: “Because I’d rather not freeze my ass off wearing less then a Empire whore?”

Elta: "I can pick over the remains while you guys hide… if they try anything you can ambush my ambushers

DFM: “If they are preparing for an ambush, I guarentee they can wait longer than we can. They are, at least mostly, clothed.”

Dekniss: “What are our other options? Flee to the city and hope to find supplies there?”

GM: The wind blows through the ruins, sending a chill down each of your spines and sending a few leaves trailing end over end through the air gracefully.

Riella shrugs. “I’ll take a look now.” She carefully pokes her head around the side of the wall, hiding all the while.

Nikki: “If we are to try to sneak back, I will go.”

Elta: Peilor shivers. “I’m going I dont care I’d rather be dead now then freeze to death later!”

GM: As you come out from behind the wall, you are rather shocked at the carnage. The five guards are all lying on the ground, maimed and bloody from the battle… but wholly untouched or looted. But the barbarians that died or were taken down are likewise all taken, and no trace of their defeat remaining but displaced grass and pools of cooling blood.

GM: The wagon in in shambles, the oxen slain and wheels viciously torn off. Some of the supplies looked to have spilled from it, but it appears to likewise be unmolested.

DFM: “Strange…” Zuhur whispers under her breath as she moves forward, stealithy, to inspect the wagon.

Nikki: “They took…nothing?” Anemone approaches the site.

GM: Your initial surveyance appears accurate, nothing appears to be taken or disturbed.

Riella follows behind her, slowly.

Peilor strolls down the path towards the grisly scene trying to look nonchalant hoping those that have disappeared into the brush can be trusted and if they cant that his reflexes will get him out of danger.

Zuhur searches the wagon for supplies, letting others check the bodies if they wish.

GM: The guards are still clad in their chainmail, gleaming wherever it is not bloodied or chipped from the conflict, although their tabard and attire appears to be ruined for the bloodstains.

Anemone approaches the wagon, and begins to look for anything useful.

Riella moves among the bodies, unphased by the blood, smell, and lack of barbarian bodies. “Not so strange. If they didn’t take the spoils, it might have just been a proving ritual.”

Riella searches the bodies.

GM: The wagon holds little of value. A few crates of foodstuffs, mostly depleted by the travels, and a few scant baskets of clothes and rags; replacements for the guards’, it looks mostly like.

Dekniss: Hearing no one being attacked Dekniss moves from behind the wall to join the others.

GM: Search, Ane.
Anemone: 14

Elta: “So we were inadvertantly freed in some weird ritual to make their balls feel big?”

GM: The guards all have their equipment on them: a chain shirt on each, a gladus on each that was not looted, along with a shortbow, longspear, and ten arrows.

GM: Anemone finds a few trinkets that appear to have belonged to the guards, but their value, if any, is sentimental in nature.

Riella turns to Elta and gives him a death glare. “The rituals mean something, boy. If a child can’t stomach blood and bodies, then he’ll always be a child.”

Dekniss: To the others Dekniss says, " We should take the guards armor if you can use it. The weapons too."

GM: You could also strip the clothes from the guard (forgot they all had a shield, but two are split), but they are too bloodstained to be useful for laying low.

Dekniss: Dekniss begins to gather up the items from the nearest guard, removing the bloody clothing to get at the armor beneath.

Anemone removes a pair of clothing from the wagon, as well as a pair of boots. She also takes a bit of food, leaving some for the others. She turns to the body nearest her and removes the weapons from it.

Dekniss: Dekniss removes as much of the blood from the armor as possible before donning it and gathering up the guards weapons. Then moving to the wagon.

Riella nods. She scoops up the arrows and takes the clothing off the nearest body. Without any hint of shame she strips out of her rags and changes into the bloodied, ill-fitting clothes.

DFM: “There’s food and clothes still in the wagon. We should take what we can.” Zuhur says, grabbing boots and a change of poorly fitting clothes. She steps to the side of the wagon and begins to change, quickly.

Anemone quickly removes her rags and puts on the clothing. It doesn’t fit well, but it will have to do.

GM: The clothes are strange, made of a material Zuhur and Riella haven’t worn before, and colored as a guard. Not exactly inconspicuous, but more-so than looking like escaped prisoners.

Elta: Peilor was just about to start a well thought out Retort to the womans rant, then she started taking off her clothes and he fell dumbstruck before busying himself picking over the guard for anything interesting.

Riella: “I’ve never been in these lands before. But if the caravan was expected, someone will look for them when they don’t arrive.”

Anemone calls out to the other prisoners, “there is another set of armor over here. I can’t wear it well, so anyone who can is welcome to it.”

Zuhur examines the armor on one of the nearby guards for a moment before frowning and returning to the wagon and examining the remaining supplies.

Riella double checks the strings of her new bow before setting about to destring the others; can’t trust pig-dog equipment, after all. She takes another bow just in case.

Dekniss: Dekniss gathers up a shortsword and boots and clothing, then makes himself more presentable.

GM: Once clothed, with a decent pair of boots, the wind has much more difficulty in cutting through you to the bone. I assume you discard your sackcloth clothes and boots?

DFM: “We have food enough for several days, if we can find some means of carrying it.” Zuhur says while looking over the wagaon. “But we must decide where we shall go, and if we shall remain together.”

Riella: “Can anyone else use a bow?” she asks, holding one in her hand.

Peilor makes his way to the cart and grabs some clothing before its all gone.

GM: The clothes are tight across the chest of the women, and hang down significantly; on Peilor it just makes him look smaller. Only Dekniss is able to find clothes that fit even slightly. The boots are no better, either pincing or way too roomy, and none of you manage to avoid that fate.

GM: Most of the trinkets tucked into the baskets are fairly worthless. A charcol painting of a woman, smeared and worn, and a small holy symbol hand-carved of wood stand out as the most valuable.

Riella takes the holy symbol and the rest of the arrows before looking over the caravan one more time. “How many guards were with us, again? I see only five bodies.”

Nikki: “I can’t remember, oddly. I spent a lot of time in my own head these past few weeks….”

Zuhur stops for a moment, staring at the carnage. “…There were six.”

Dekniss: Looking around Dekniss nods. “The captain is not here.”

GM: In the grass, cooling in their own body fluids, are five bodies.

Riella: “Good. I still need to kill his woman in front of him.”

GM: It’s easy enough to rig a hobopack, although the quality and thinness of the cloth means you can only make three in total; you can, however, easily store the majority of the foodstuffs in them.

DFM: “Was he taken captive?” Zuhur asks the pale woman. “If he escaped, he did not flee past us towards the camp or the city.”

Dekniss: “The barbarians do not take captives.”

Nikki: “He likely escaped. Into the city, most likely.”

Riella: “Until I see him again, he doesn’t interest me. I think we need a new plan.” She looks to Zuhur, as if expecting her to speak.

Zuhur searches the ground where the Captain was last seen, looking for blood or footprints. “If he somehow escaped past us into the city, that is certainly true.”

Peilor stuffs the whatever bits and baubles he can find reguardless of basic value down his shirt and tightens the belt at his waist. “I thought the city was back that way howd he get past us?”

Nikki: “Maybe he took the long way? Or can hide very well.”

GM: There is some blood, but with the carnage of the battle you cannot make out specific tracks of any use.

Dekniss: “If he escaped then he may be able to get to the camp. Which means that they will be out looking for us soon. So we should get out of here.”

GM: The wind whips through the air as the sun continues its descent toward the horizon. You were to due arrive at the encampment around nightfall, you recall the guards mentioning.

Nikki: “He has a point”, Anemone says, motioning at the man who just spoke. “While we still look…different, we might be able to successfully enter the city now.”

DFM: “We should proceed as if the city guards are looking for us, but we cannot avoid the city entirely. It’s the only civilization for many days, and our supplies will get us nowhere else.”

Elta: “especially with the cover of night aiding us..”

Riella snorts. “It works for some of you. But I and the other woman are foreigners. And we’re wearing soldiers garb.”

Nikki: “What do you propose, then?”

Riella shrugs. “We hide for the night, find a map, and get out of this pissant land of weaklings. At least, that’s my intentions. As I swore an oath to serve the one who freed me, though…” She shakes her head and looks to Zuhur.

Riella looks at Zuhur. “Do you accept my services?”

Zuhur glances for a moment at the pale, marked woman, the rammifications of her desperate oath being more than hyperbole only now becoming apparent. Zuhur stares for a moment before speaking the first words that come to mind. “I… believe we should be more secure of our safety before we discuss… servitude.”

Riella: “If you will it. My name — the one I can give you — is Riella.”

Peilor tries to kick loose a few boards from the wagon. “I need to warm up… and they’ll be able to spot a fire so I’m going to head a ways off from the killzone”

Dekniss: “I say we infiltrate the city. Stick to the outskirts and get what we need. Then we’ll go from there.”

Zuhur turns to the scarred man. “You look most like you’ve chosen your attire on purpose. Could you safely enter the city and return to us with information? Are their guards at the gates, are there even gates? If you can be subtle, see if they know of what has occured?”

Dekniss: “I may be able to get into the city, but if they see me dressed as a guard they might be suspicious.”

DFM: “Let’s move away from this carnage, at least. We should approach close enough to examine the city for guards and entrances, so we can determine what kind of entry is required.”

Riella nods. “As you will it.”

Nikki: “A good idea. Those of us who can hide well can sneak closer, if necessary.”

Dekniss: “Agreed.”

Dekniss moves parallel to the road, keeping a screen between him and anyone that may be traveling down it.

GM: The city is still a good few hours from where you are, so even moving that far down the road doesn’t enlighten much further.

DFM: “We should move with the road, but not on it.” Zahur says as they move across the plains.

Nikki: “Agreed. Less likely to be spotted that way.”

GM: As you make your way down the road, you are fairly surprised at the difference between travelling in bonds as prisoners and travelling as, again, free people. However, the enjoyment is fairly short lived and by thirty minutes in, travelling is simply travelling once more. The city has grown slightly, and the sun is setting to the left of you and the road, beginning to cast the sky in brilliant pinks. It is also about this time that a hollow gnawing sensation in your stomachs pick up.

GM: Previously, in your imprisonment, you were given only partial rations of the bread, a hard tack that is as unpalpatable as it is difficult to swallow. The guards, naturally, kept the meats for themselves.

Zuhur slows her pace, dropping beside the red headed young woman, gently removing a loaf of bread from the bundle in her arms. “My first meal as a free woman.”

Nikki: “Savor it! And hope our next is as good…”

Riella sits down and looks at the setting sun with an odd expression. “Do any of you have names? Or names you can give?” She turns to Zuhur. “I’d at least like to know what to refer to my oath holder by.”

Nikki: “I’m Anemone. No need to remark on the strangeness of my name, I didn’t choose it.”

Elta: “I dont see how it couldn’t be, Unless were arrested again for illegally surviving a masacre.”

Dekniss sits with the others. “My name is Dekniss Ovisier.”

DFM: “I was…” Zuhur pauses, taking a side of pork from Anemone’s arms. “No, I am Zuhur.” She holds out the meat out towards the barbarian. “A meal of freedom, Riella?”

Riella nods. “A meal is a meal.” She takes the meat and tears off a piece before digging into it, quite messily.

GM: The pork is, upon tasting, nearly complete unpalpatable as well. The taste of the salt very nearly overpowers that of the meat, as if whomever prepared it gave no thought to the taste of the finished product. Which, given where you acquired it…

GM: Still, it’s not bread.

Elta: He plopped down in the grass inspecting the bit of food he had grabbed “Im Peilor”

Zuhur leans against a small tree, savoring her bit of bread. It was bread still, yes, but somehow there was a sweetness in it. “Delicious.”

Riella nods, eyes still fixed on Zuhur. “Do you still have questions for me?”

DFM: “If you don’t mind them.” Zuhur says, between small bites of bread. “I am curious where you are from. It’s been good to know I’m not the only stranger to these… disappointing lands.”

Riella: “I belong to the Plains Dragons, the fire that burns across the western lands.” She glances around their camp and sighs. “This land is full of annoying pissants. I’ll be glad to return to my lands, once you release me from my oath.”

Anemone finishes eating her bit of bread and pork, listening to her companions talk.

Dekniss: While the conversation was interesting, Dekniss knew that they needed to be thinking about setting up camp. He began looking for a good place nearby where they would have a bit if shelter and not be seen from the road.

DFM: “It must be a beauty to behold. The trade caravans never traveled far west, always to the north and east. Or… south, rather, from where we stand now.” Zuhur finishes the last of her bread. “While a relaxing rest, we should continue to the city.”

Nikki: “Let’s continue then.”

Riella nods. “I look forward to something resembling a warm bed. Or a warm patch of dirt, at least.”

DFM: “To a warm patch of dirt.” Zuhur says, toasting an invisble glass.

Riella: “We’ll warm it with the blood of our enemies.”

Elta: “The sooner we get anywhere that isn’t here the better”

Net loot pulled from the cold hands of the dead:
1 chain shirt – Dekniss
3 Heavy Wooden Shields
5 Gladus (Short Swords)
6 Short Bows (5 wooden/imperial issue, 1 carved from bone)
5 Longspears
6 Pairs of Boots (none fitting)
12 Changes of guards’ clothes (none fitting)
2 days’ rations per person

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