An Empire In Flames

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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