Fire Emblem: The Age of Legend

Chapter 7: Defeat or Death
4th Session

Opening Narrations:
Fortunately, there are no Peruvians waiting for you as you exit the forest. It is a long and slow and harrowing 6 day journey south. You are hunted in Prince Rinvolin’s own lands, always sure the Knights of the Rising Sun will at any moment appear on the horizon and ride you down. You can get little real news, for rumor flies through the land swifter than any Pegasus. The Northern Principalities are invading, the Snorivians are invading, the Peruvians are invading, the Harjakt are staging a coup. Duke Gardnelle has joined the traitors, Duke Grenfeld has been proclaimed king, the Akt have all been slain, Tollidarius is the original Tollidarius. Three hundred Knights of the Rising Sun have invaded, 500, 1000, none at all. Duke Gardnelle’s war with the Peruvians goes poorly, it goes well, it goes so well he is soon to be proclaimed the next Satran. Prince Rinvolin has fled the country, Princess Mruria has risen from her grave, the Peruvians are led by a giant, man-eating monster. A terrible plague has beset the south, earthquakes, avalanches, divine wrath. Prince Rinvolin has at last been named king, the Akt are still deliberating. The Peruvians come as liberators, the Peruvians come as exterminators. Ikrir has fallen, Gardnelle, Grenfeld, Tirin, Deruvr, Yeor!

The whole land is in an uproar and a state of panic. Soldiers rush in all directions, whether charging or retreating even they aren’t sure. Whole villages uproot and flee west or even north. Warriors desert, brigands spring up from the ground like weeds, duke after duke is unaccounted for. If there is a positive side to the confusion it’s that no one asked about your whereabouts will give a trustworthy answer.

Shanba and Rukh Astroa speak on the road, she counseling him endlessly to train harder as well as discussing with him his fears over what the Red-Ribbon Knight and invasion of Yeoria mean about Peruvia as well as his own divided loyalties.

Johannes and Sygfryd speak about Sygfryd’s nationality and eventually Sygfryd agrees to train with Johannes in the mornings.

Six days on the road. Six days of bruising, scratches, bug bites, and sleep deprivation. Some of you even caught a cold or something like it. But at long last, the vast Yeorian camp sprawls into view as twilight falls. It is almost like a different army from what you saw before, the men are somber and dispirited. They huddle about campfires on the damp ground, nearly half are injured and the ranks have been greatly thinned.

As you ride in past the sentries every head turns toward Prince Rinvolin and many stand to bow, seemingly recovering bit of their resolve. Prince Rinvolin smiles back at them all, but it’s clear his mind is elsewhere.

In the center lies Duke Gardnelle’s red pavilion ringed by a hundred sub-camps. The League of Akaldin is quartered nearby and so a vast number of glossy-skinned pegasi walk to and fro. His tent’s fabric has faded from long use to something approximating that of dried blood. Inside it is dark and somber, lit only by the candles with which Duke Gardnelle grimly studies a vast selection of maps. He has no servants about, not even a herald, only other old warhorses like himself.

Without any announcement, he seems instinctively to know Prince Rinvolin is come. He stands with dignity but some difficulty- by the looks of his armor he took a spear to his right thigh- and his scarred old face twists with great effort into something almost resembling a smile.
Duke Gardnelle: My dear Prince Rinvolin, I’m overjoyed to find you still drawing breath. When Tirin suddenly fell to the Peruvians I feared the worst.
The duke steps forward as if to embrace the prince but thinks better of it.
Duke Gardnelle: No, I’m too bloody. There was quite a glorious battle with morning. One of them managed caught his spearpoint betwixt two of my tassets. Were these soldiers any less skilled I would have attributed it to luck alone.

Prince Rinvolin: It’s thanks to these mercenaries as well as the Ospreys that I was not captured.

Duke Gardnelle: Truly? Well then I am grateful to you, Tsaba. Now let us speak of the war. I regret I’ve no chairs or other comforts to offer, but such things only serve to distract, do they not?

Prince Rinvolin: I will stand.

Duke Gardnelle: Perhaps you should tell me your news first, for it must be better.

Prince Rinvolin, Ilyana, and occasionally some of the others relate their story, dwelling upon concern about all the attacks on churches by the Peruvians and the mysterious creature they fought before. Duke Gardnelle is not particularly concerned about this compared to the war however. Prince Rinvolin skips over the question of the massacre of Duke Grenfeld and his folk.

Prince Rinvolin: In conclusion, the Knights of the Rising Sun have by now most likely subdued half of Yeoria. 300 of them will be more than enough to take the country.

Duke Gardnelle: It will take many more to hold it. Sadly however, I have no better news to offer. Indeed I have much worse. The war goes very ill indeed. We fought valiantly at the River Yoru, but were a day too late. While we held the northern fortress of Kirin, the Peruvians smashed through to the south and so bypassed many of our defenses. Their numbers are great and many of them fight like two men or more. Truly this is a magnificent foe, their soldiers set a fine example for us. Although we have slowed their advance and fighting has been fierce and bloody on both sides, they have moved our line like a spoke rotating about the hub of Fort Kirin. We are now stretched west- south west and they will flank us for sure if we do not reverse this wring soon.
However, it is fear that is destroying this army. Dire rumors have spread like a brushfire, hundred of men desert every night. I would have made an example of them, but the spineless dukes threatened a mutiny. The chain of command is in ruins for in their stupid pride they would sooner risk their men’s lives than take my orders. They have made a mockery of this army and this country, when the war is over I humbly ask that they be charged with treason along with the traitors.

Johannes: A just revard for such men, great duke.

Prince Rinvolin: There will be a full investigation and charges where charges are due. Incompetence however is not a crime. Please, continue.

Duke Gardnelle: Well besides that the army hangs by a thread and are overmatched by the Peruvians, I’m afraid I have worse news. At first I did not credit the reports myself. The Akt in Yeor was attacked by Peruvia, although the Peruvian agents were all slain there were no survivors. The Akt is no more, the traitors were slain alongside the loyal. Nothing remains of Yeoria’s dukes and duchesses save those in this army and their heirs in their castles.

Johannes: Castles zat even now are falling to ze Knights of ze Rising Sun.

Prince Rinvolin: No survivors? Tollidarius!

Duke Gardnelle: Put that civilian from your mind, my prince. We must fight for the survival of Yeoria’s army now. The political implications are clear however.

Prince Rinvolin: Sekeriah have mercy, yes! If there’s no Akt there can be no new king!

Duke Gardnelle: On the contrary. I and the dukes in this army are now the Akt. We will meet forthwith and confirm your coronation. Anyone who says nay is a traitor and I shall run him through myself.

Johannes: A vonderful idea!

Prince Rinvolin: No. That would not be legitimate. I forbid it. I shall have to wait till the Akt can properly convene again.

Duke Gardnelle: As you say, my prince. Very well, here is my plan. See this church on Squagin Hill? We should extend our lines a quarter of a mile in that direction. It is a natural fortress, with that as an anchor we will stop the Peruvian advance and turn them back. Provided the Knights of the Rising Sun are otherwise occupied, I am confident we can halt their advance and best General Agralaera Mida.

Prince Rinvolin: And who will prevent them outflanking us?

Duke Gardnelle: Ikrin Nirin is confident he can turn back their cavalry if they attempt it, at least for a time.

Prince Rinvolin: Very well, what shall these men and I do?

Duke Gardnelle: You and several battle groups will be the ones to defend this essential hill. It is a crucial role to play.

Prince Rinvolin: Agreed. We shall set out promptly.

Prince Rinvolin: Before I leave, there is something I must ask you.

Duke Gardnelle: Anything.

Prince Rinvolin: No… no, it can wait till the battle is won. Fare thee well. I shall take my men and those others to Squagin hill and fortify it as best we can.

Duke Gardnelle: Hmm… in regards to what you mentioned before, I have indeed heard reports of churches being broken into. Oh well, it is a small matter for now.

Squagin hill is a prominent and rocky outcropping, nearly a small mesa. Most of its slopes are almost untraversable, but a few paths have been worn out of the brown rock over time. Dangerously, some of these are actually the remains of small rock slides rather than man-made so that the canny climber must always be careful that there are footprints in the dirt ahead of him. Atop it lies the Southern Church of Ornlu, which has seen better days. The clerics stationed there however were ready and willing to offer their services –medical and funerary- to Prince Rinvolin’s forces, this precious resource combined with the height makes it a very valuable area to control.

It should be a safe post, here at the farthest end of the long Yeorian lines. Although the Peruvians are indeed very numerous, as Duke Gardnelle said their crack troops in fact number fairly few. With morale buoyed by Prince Rinvolin’s presence, the Yeorian army holds their line amid the raging battle. Their uniforms and equipment may be ragtag, their training may have been uneven, but their courage and determination are strong. Though the Peruvians are ever ready to strike at weak points with their deadly cavalry, Duke Gardnelle is well-able to stop them from riding far enough to flank. Whenever a Peruvian cavalry contingent slinks west, the League of Akaldin rushes out to cut them off. Losses have been terrible to judge by the pegasi raining from the sky, but the Peruvians have been thwarted again and again. The duke himself rides back and forth down the line with his own guards, helping wherever the fighting is thickest. Several grisly heads adorn his long lance by midday, though he himself was apparently struck in the shoulder by a morningstar.

It is a terrible, bloody, baffling spectacle. And a boring one. The day grows hot and you have no opponents save the horseflies. You must stay on guard, but there is time to talk.

Vendrik speaks with Prince Rinvolin and counsels him not to distance himself from other people for fear of them dying. Prince Rinvolin counters that as a prince his affections must be first to the people as a whole and that he has fine friends in Johannes and Tollidarius.

Prince Rinvolin has been repeatedly honing the point of a spear with his whetstone, sitting against his horse’s legs. He made a show of poring over maps before, but gave that up eventually. Duke Gardnelle clearly meant to keep him safely out of the fighting so there wasn’t much point in pretending otherwise. Now he stands and approaches Tsaba.
Prince Rinvolin: Hail, Tsaba. (He asks whether Tsaba intends to continue in his service, concludes with ‘look what’s that’)

It should have been a safe spot. Over the last hour more Peruvian reinforcements have been arriving. Unfortunate, but not unexpected. But in a single, sudden swoop, one large such company that had looked about to provide fresh horses and join the middle of the line suddenly mount up and gallop west. The maneuver was evidently well-planned, for archers all along the Peruvian lines are immediately prepared to keep the League of Akaldin on the ground. Almost before you know what’s happening, several hundred men are moving to surround Squagin Hill. A force of heavy cavalry nearly as large rushes to break through the odd weak point in your line where the Yeorian force runs up against the slope of the hill. Though the hill itself is a strong point, it is too steep and you are too few to quickly reinforce your allies. The result is a dreadful melee and many Peruvians are brought down, for the League of Akaldin does make an even more desperate and deadly sortie to relieve you.

But when you can make sense of the tumult, the results are dire. Squagin hill is now surrounded and you are well-outnumbered. No doubt you could hold your ground against these numbers, but you cannot sally forth and defeat them. And now the enemy can reinforce themselves with impunity.
Prince Rinvolin, however, immediately sees the weakness in their position.
Prince Rinvolin: Counterattack! We’ve got to move now, before they’re ready! See there where they’ve cut us off from the main force? That’s where they’re weakest, we may be surrounded but if we strike there, they are flanked. We can break through to Duke Gardnelle, but we can’t let them bring in any more of their best troops. Tsaba, give me six men and have the rest guard the other slopes. 5th battlegroup, form up and come with me!

Johannes: Both vise and daring! You make your fazer proud.

However, a small contingent of Peruvians has been sent to intercept you. They do not number many, but they must be seasoned troops. They sweep in the south and defend the back of the Peruvian force desperately fighting back against the nearby Yeorians from your advance down the hill. You must break through them for Rinvolin’s plan to work.
Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau: Alright everybody, listen up. You all know me and know I’m not much of a speaker, so I’ll keep this simple. We’ve been put through some fierce fighting over the last year or so and some of you don’t think we’ve been recognized for it as we deserve. Well that will end with this victory, because we’re going to end the war! On yonder hill waits the barbarian prince of the Yeorians. Slay him and the campaign is over, Peruvia shall be safe! But who are the enemy? The Yeorians are a savage and bloodthirsty people. They fight without honor and never take any prisoners. I once knew a good Peruvian soldier who was banished and fled to Yeoria; I never heard from him again! But do not fear such frothing beasts! We are the children of Peruvia, land of the rising sun! We have not their savagery, but our courage and our discipline are greater! Stand by one another and do not falter, and we shall surely be victorious. Forward!

Battle Information:
Retries: 0
Characters Allowed: 6 + Prince Rinvolin + 16 Allies
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Dame Andrine of Deruvr, Hunts, Ilyana, Magdalene,Prince Rinvolin of Yeoria, Rukh Astroa of Peruvia, Vendrik
Characters Slain: Dame Andrine of Deruvr
Victory Conditions: -
Loss Conditions: Prince Rinvolin dies.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws roughly level 5, Ospreys roughly level 6, Prince Rinvolin roughly level 9) and Yeorian 5th Battlegroup (Roughly level 4, Ragnar level 4) vs. Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau’s platoon (Roughly level 7, Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau level 9) and the Knights of the Rising Sun (Roughly level 16, Red-Ribbon Knight level ?)
Outcome: Peruvians take heavy losses, but the Yeorian army is completely defeated. The Red-Ribbon Knight goes AWOL. Prince Rinvolin surrenders and the war ends.
Treasure Acquired: 1000 Silver North-Ring (payment from Rinvolin for the battle), Mystery (Thrown by Red-Ribbon Knight).
Treasure Missed: Steel Greatbow (Dropped by Lance Corporal 4th Class Liluan Kardau)
Location: Near the border of Yeoria and Peruvia Southeast of the Yeoria country marker
Map: Map picture

Battle Summary: The two armies meet in a massive clash for a few rounds. Both sides take heavy losses with the Yeorians doing surprisingly well. While Hunts waits in vain for an opportunity to use his magic, Magdalene and Vendrik cooperate by sharing a Meteor tome to selectively target important enemies. Andrine tries to engage the Peruvian cavaliers on their left flanks, Ilyana roams the lines picking off targets of opportunities, Rinvolin charges in to support the troops, and Rukh hangs back before seizing an opportunity to talk to the Peruvian commander. She recognizes him but is shocked to find him fighting for the Yeorians. For his part, he is annoyed that she knows nothing of the motives for the war.
Before either side can get a decisive advantage, the Knights of the Rising Sun arrive on the scene and the Yeorians must begin retreating up their hill. Then the Red-Ribbon Knight arrives and decides to win the battle himself. He slaughters many of the Yeorians and Dame Andrine but then suddenly throws away his weapon and leaves, infuriated that he was not able to kill her in a single blow with it.

Battle Narrations:
(1st Turn) Ragnar, commander of the Yeorian battlegroup, addresses the men under his command too. Ragnar: I won’t lie to you, these Peruvians are much more dangerous than any rabble of norsemen. But just like a bear caught by its den, they’ll find we fight much harder than they expect? Why? Because we’re protecting that man there. He may be our prince, but does he hide in his palace? No. He’s out here in the battle alongside us and he’d gladly give his life for any of you as if you were his closest comrade. And that’s why we can’t let him. Yeoria needs a man like that for a ruler. Maybe we’ll all die here today, but if he lives our families will count themselves lucky nonetheless. That prince of ours is this country’s future. Don’t let the Peruvians put so much as a scratch on our future! CHARGE!

(4th Turn) While the battle rages, you suddenly hear Johannes bellowing above the clash of weapons and the screams of the injured horses. Johannes: Prince Rinvolin! The Knights of the Rising Sun! They’re here!
Every head not at risk of being lopped off turns where he points. There they are, a blinding, golden light galloping over the fields. And with them strides an enormous man in black.
Prince Rinvolin: Back! Pull back and defend the hill!

(Knights of the Rising Sun Arrive) Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: The rest will demolish the Yeorian army. You five with me! Get the wounded off the field, both sides! Capture anyone you can.

(6th Turn) Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: Let’s just hope Prince Rinvolin is wise enough to surrender to us before-

Red-Ribbon Knight: Before what? Before I arrive? Get your men back, I’ve had enough of relying on sniveling underlings like you.
The colonel is silent. The knight in black and red draws from a scabbard a simple shortsword and strides purposefully toward the hill. While the weapon looks simple enough, out of the corner of your eye you sometimes see something completely different. It is like a spike of material darker than black and from it slowly billows something like a black fog or dark smoke. The knight’s shadow seems distorted and unhuman, but you cannot place what it truly looks like.
Meanwhile, not a handful but a platoon of the Knights of the Rising Sun have charged into the Yeorian lines from behind. A great groan of despair seems to come from them as the matchless warriors fell man after man, tearing through the army like wet paper. With the fight taken off their hand, a vast horde of Peruvians moves toward your hill. The battle is lost. Yeoria too is lost.

Prince Rinvolin: It’s… horrible.

Johannes: It is var.

Prince Rinvolin: No one… ever taught me how to go about being defeated.

Johannes: Defeat? My prince, zis is but a chance for greater glory. How zey vill marvel through ze generations at ze mountain of corpses ve shall heap up before ve fall. Let ze ozers surrender if zey vill, zis is not ze vay of ze knights. Vhy, all ze company of Sythmyr vere slain in terrible routs so zey say, but zey vould never give up zeir svorn cause. In dying, ve and our country shall live forever in legend! Let us charge zat band over zhere! For honor and glory undying! Vhat say you?

Prince Rinvolin: I say… that I am a prince as well as a knight. Since the day I was born there’ve been nigh on a quarter of a million souls working day after day so I could lead a pampered life. It’s true I was hardly idle, I put my youth to good use learning things I thought I would use to rule well. But if I die today, right now, seeking glory? Well it’ll all be for nothing, won’t it? Every effort they spent on me? They’d have been better off without a prince at all if I do nothing but live and die as I please. No matter what I do now, the Peruvians have won. They attacked us without cause or provocation and put many of us to the sword. I was certain that meant we’d win in the end, surely nothing so unjust would be suffered to happen as a nation being destroyed on a whim. But if this is the end, that’s just what happens. No, the story can’t finish here. We’ll be defeated, but we cannot lose. I’m going to surrender. The Peruvians value their soldiers, if I can spare some of my people by threatening to kill some of theirs then I would be a terrible prince if I didn’t. Maybe I’m a coward. Maybe I’m not a knight. Maybe I’m not a man. Maybe I don’t deserve to wear the symbol of my father’s house. But this is what Mruria would have done, and she was usually right.

Johannes: As you say, my prince.

Though this decision has plainly taken a lot out of him, Prince Rinvolin squares his broad shoulders and sets his strong jaw. There is still some left of that confidence you once saw in him at the gates of Miffin so few weeks ago.
Prince Rinvolin: Tsaba. I’m glad you and the Red Claws chose to serve me. Here is your payment for this battle. I suggest you and your men get out of the mercenary business, but I don’t think you’ll agree.

He then walks to the precipice, toward which the black knight is marching slowly.
Prince Rinvolin: Peruvian commander! I am Rinvolin, Son of King Treferdin, trueborn heir to the House of Yeor back to the beginning, and Prince of Yeoria. You have beaten me fairly and honorably, though I confess I don’t know the cause that began this war. I wish to offer my surrender on reasonable terms!

The dark knight does not pause in his strides, but does not immediately answer either as if unsure the Prince is addressing him.
Red-Ribbon Knight: Even were you to offer unconditional surrender, still would I reject your terms as unreasonable. I’m just going to kill every last one of you.

Prince Rinvolin: What? But by the sacred precepts of The Shining Path, you can slay no man who yields!

For the first time, a touch of emotion leaks into the Red-Ribbon Knight’s cold voice: repressed fury.
Red-Ribbon Knight: You speak to me of the Shining Path? You know nothing of it! Now stop talking and prepare to die.

Prince Rinvolin seems genuinely stunned by this turn of events. Johannes has the good grace to remain impassive, with not so much as a hint of an ‘I told you so.’
Prince Rinvolin: Then we’ll fight to the death! With me!

(Red-Ribbon Knight fails to kill Andrine in 1 stroke)- Red-Ribbon Knight: What? Still standing? AUGH, WORTHLESS PIECE OF TRASH! He hurls the terrible shortsword from him with such force that when it strikes Dame Andrine it snaps her neck immediately. Enough of this farce. I’ll be back one day with a weapon worthy of one such as myself. Till then, farewell. He turns without another word and – leaps! What a leap! His speed was tremendous, he jumped so high he does not come down till the far side of the encircling Peruvian army.

Closing Narrations:
Chaos ensues. In the confusion, Tsaba is able to pluck the Red-Ribbon Knight’s sword from where it lies. The hilt thrums with fell power in his hand.

Prince Rinvolin reacts swiftly.
Prince Rinvolin: Peruvian commander! Parley?

Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: Gladly, Prince Rinvolin. Raise a flag of truce while I bring in General 1st Class Agralaera Mida as well.

And so begins the parley. Prince Rinvolin and Johannes sequester themselves in a cloister of the church with General Agralaera and Sir Colonel Agurta. The rest of you are stationed outside, on the hill overlooking the bloody battleground. Tiny silvery men crawl slowly about the vast trampled fields now, as seemingly aimless as the meandering of ants from up here. Overhead flutters the flag of truce, it was made from the donated robe of one of the priests and a spearpole, for of course no one actually carried such a flag. The talks and drawing up of the treaty stretch on for hours from not long after noon to nearly sundown.

At long last, Prince Rinvolin and Johannes emerge from the church. Johannes looks grim, but Prince Rinvolin manages a slight smile.
Prince Rinvolin: It is done.
He leafs through a many-page document
Prince Rinvolin: It’s all in here. Cessation of hostilities, a pledge not to attack Snorivia for 5 years, Yeoria has a governor, but he’ll be a Yeorian –Duke Gardnelle specifically- , Yeoria must disarm though the Ospreys will remain, Peruvia will secure the northern border, the people of Yeoria are not to be harmed, you all go free, Peruvian soldiers leave within 6 months – except up north-, and-
He pauses, Johannes glowers, and General Agralaera finishes as the colonel holds open the door for her.
General 1st Class Agralaera Mida: And the monarchy ends. Rinvolin comes with us.

Sir Colonel 1st Class Agurta Barthing: Yeoria shall have a republic, after the period of the governor ends.

Prince Rinvolin: And with those terms I hereby surrender both for my own part and on behalf of Yeoria… to the Knights of the Rising Sun.

General 1st Class Agralaera Mida: What? That wasn’t part of the agreement!

Prince Rinvolin: Nor, I noted, were any means to bind Peruvia’s army to its side of the bargain. But there’s no surer bond than a knight’s oath. Don’t worry general, this shouldn’t cause you any problems- unless you were planning to renege once I was in your custody.

General 1st Class Agralaera Mida: Take him away!

So end the Yeorian Succession Crisis of 2A 3214 and the Yeorian-Peruvian War.

Chapter 5: The Sun is Rising
4th Session

Opening Narrations:
Having decided to head off the secret Peruvian force trying to flank Yeoria’s army by sneaking through Oriv Pass, you must travel nearly 200 to the southeast with extreme speed. The Peruvians have doubtless already mobilized, but armies travel more slowly into mountains than a few horseriders can across the roads of Yeoria. At breakneck speed you could ride it in 3 days, but your mounts would be exhausted or worse before the end. To solve the problem, you get fresh horses every half day or so with your normal mounts following alongside.

Although he could simply commandeer them, Prince Rinvolin has avoided doing so thusfar. About an hour or so after noon you gallop into another of the little clusters of farmhouses and other buildings like smithies and windmills that dot Yeoria’s countryside. You are in Deruvr’s lands again now, not far from his southern border.

Commoners scurry away from the road, expecting you to go straight through, but Prince Rinvolin brings his frothing steed to a halt.

Prince Rinvolin: Stay good people, we mean you no harm. I am Prince Rinvolin, son of King Treferdin and my company and I are in great haste.

There is much confused murmuring and some worried looks at that. A sturdy, tanned peasant-woman, sleeves of her simple gown rolled up to expose flour-dusted arms approaches and bows.
Gildra: My lord, do not let us tarry you. If you need water for your horses and don’t mind them drinking from our troughs then mine is still full over there.

Prince Rinvolin: Thank you, good lady, these ones could certainly use a drink.
He seems rather puzzled at the almost frosty reception.
Prince Rinvolin: However, we’ve need of fresh mounts as well. We must reach the border with Peruvia within the next two days

Renewed worried murmuring, then one bearded man speaks out.
Edlin: I ain’t giving my horses to this duke-killer

Johannes glowers and reaches for his spear, but Prince Rinvolin holds up his hand and dismounts.
Prince Rinvolin: Then do not, this is plowing season so I know you need them as well. I am here to ask for your generosity, not demand in arrogance. If there are horses here to spare, please let us borrow them for half the day. If you like you may send another man along with us to lead them back. But we must have fresh mounts and fast, for the Peruvians have declared war upon this land and it is imperative that we reinforce the border immediately.
I will not lie to you, these men and I did kill Duke Deruvr some three days ago. I know that he was much loved in these lands, for he was a very great man indeed and I had thought him kind and just when once I traveled his duchy years ago. I swear to you by the Shining Path and my family’s honor though that he was not all he seemed. In secret, the duke had plotted with the rebels to bring Yeoria low before her enemies. Worse, he delved into the forbidden secrets of profane magic and turned away from Fundin.

That causes an uproar, many people making superstitious holy signs at the mention of profane magic.

Gildra: I had heard, though I had not believed, that you were both more handsome and more honorable yet than our late duke. Well the first is true, perhaps the second is as well. The woman nods decidedly. You may have my horses at least if I can ride out with you to bring them back.
After some discussion, the others too are able to come up with enough spare horses to last you till evening and after refreshing yourselves briefly you hurry away again shortly.

You fall into a routine, riding hard till you’re a mass of bruises and your horses are too spent to go another mile, stop at a town, trade in the mounts for fresh ones, and continue. It doesn’t leave much energy for talking, but you’ve got days worth of time.

Rukh Astroa of Peruvia discusses how he feels conflicted about fighting his fellow Peruvians with several others.

Yeoria is neither a rough nor a smooth country. It bucks and rolls here and there, but most of its forests have been cut down and every inch of the country that can be farmed is. The roads are not nearly as good as those in the Koran Free Cities, but they are good enough most of the time. It is spring now and all is green, save where the fields have been browned by plows. The weather however is no longer as fair as the countryside. It rains lightly but coldly all through what is hoped to be the final day of your journey, gradually turning the road to mud. The mountains, once again nearby, fade from view as visibility is reduced.

Prince Rinvolin: Johannes, how long do you think we have?

Johannes: It vill not be raining across ze Minalins, my lord. Assuming zey did not start marching before zey declared var, ze Peruvians vill march through zat pass and into our lands tomorrow.

Prince RInvolin: Hear that, everyone? He talks over the pitter-patter of rain on his armor. We don’t stop till we can’t go any further and we start again before dawn breaks!

Johannes: I recall zat land vell, I traveled through it to send you vord in Peruvia ven your noble fazer fell sick. It is ze duchy of Tirin, though his castle is far from ze mountains. A message vill not reach him before ve reach ze border, and besides he is a dutiful man and already sent all his men to join ze army. Zere is a fortress in ze east, crumbling ven last I saw it, from ze days before ze country vas founded. It guards ze pass razer vell. Ve should take zat and hold it till reinforcements can arrive.

Prince Rinvolin: Sounds like a good plan. Although I went to Peruvia by sea, I too once passed through this duchy about 6 years ago during my travels. I think Ellidan was with me then, though he was not yet a knight, and a few of Tirin’s men too. The lands were snowbound and some bandits had been raiding the villages the duke’s soldiers could no longer reach quickly. We tracked them through the snow and fought quite a skirmish in their encampment. It was my second real battle and I think I captured at least three. I surely passed by that fortress, but I don’t remember it clearly.

Vast streams of snowmelt flow across the southern lands here, watering the fields and forming ponds wherever the ground is full. With the rain they swell into near-rivers and vast mud-puddles. The small, decaying fortress whose silhouette you see in the night before making camp, exhausted, is scarcely two miles off but you can’t go any further. Besides, the rain has to let up soon.

Johannes wakes you all the next morning surprisingly quietly.
Johannes: Ze Peruvians are out zere. Not many. Ve should move quickly to seize ze fort.

Prince Rinvolin: Right! On your feet everyone, we strike at dawn! Drive the Peruvians back into their own lands. You, you, you, you, you, you, and you spread out and make sure they don’t encircle us, I’ve heard the Peruvians are apt tacticians.

It is still dark so you cannot see the Peruvians as you quickly get out of your bedrolls and prepare for battle. You will have to deploy blind and will need a considerable rearguard. The rain has indeed stopped and though it is still very dark you can make out that this is a very forested area, though there are also a number of villages and fields about among the streams of meltwater and runoff. Most strikingly though, the fort near the slopes up into the mountains is surrounded by water, either an extremely large pond or a very small lake.
Then dawn breaks under a sky of iron and you can see the Peruvians. There are indeed not very many of them, though as the light grows you see others in the distance on their fine horses. They are dressed simply in light armor, but they ride with grace and skill.
More problematically though, you can now see the fortress still has a functional looking ballista and they’ve taken possession of it.

Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Ah, we’ve been discovered it seems, a militia by their mismatched outfits. Arm yourselves men, we’ll show them how real soldiers fight! We’ve orders to secure this area, so let’s make quick work of them and raze the villages while we’re at it. Let no foe of Peruvia live to see another sunrise!

Lance Corporal 2nd Class Urun: Staff Sergeant 3rd Class, I believe we have some green infantry across the river near them. Should we not make haste to help them?

Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Negative. Can’t risk letting one of these vermin escape. And if they’re true Peruvians a few militia rats from this benighted land won’t give them a moment’s pause. Onward!

Prince Rinvolin: No! We can’t let him destroy the villages! Quick, we’ve got to protect them until we can secure the fort!

Johannes: Zat’s vone of ze older ballistas. Very dangerous, very accurate even at range. But it can’t be packed up and moved easily and you can only fire 3 times before stopping to reload for quite some time.

Battle Information:
Retries: 0
Characters Allowed: 8 + Prince Rinvolin + Hunts
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Dame Andrine of Deruvr, Darrin, Hunts, Ilyana, Kigathidia Giltonwyrd, Magdalene,Prince Rinvolin of Yeoria, Rukh Astroa of Peruvia, Tsaba, Zepherin Vida
Characters Slain: None
Victory Conditions: Take control of fortress ballista
Loss Conditions: Prince Rinvolin dies or the southewestern village attacked.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws roughly level 4, Ospreys roughly level 5, Prince Rinvolin roughly level 7) vs. Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa’s 12th Platoon of Light Scouts (Cavalry level 8, infantry roughly level 4, Grufa level 9)
Outcome: Grufa was slain, as were quite a few of his men. First however they massacred the people of the northwestern village. Prince Rinvolin’s forces could not capture the area however because the Knights of the Rising Sun arrived. Hunts was recruited.
Treasure Acquired: 1000 Silver North-Ring (payment from Rinvolin for accomplishing the mission), Meteor (dropped by a mage), and a Steel Bow (Given by a villager).
Treasure Missed: Orion’s Bolt (Stealable from a nomad), Poison (Dropped by a cleric)
Location: Outside a fortress near Oriv Pass. Red Marker by the southern Minalins
Map: Map picture

Battle Summary: Other than Rukh trying to kill the nearby Rukh Rider and Andrine moving into ballista range to waste their ammunition, everyone else moved west quickly. While ferrying people across the river, they also found time to visit the village and recruit Hunts by returning him his spellbook (from a village in chapter 3).
The plan was to wait till the time window in which the ballista had to reload and have Darrin and Zephrin quickly ferry in Andrine and Ilyana to the central island to take it over while everyone else held off Grufa and his men.
However, the need to stop reinforcements in the bottom right from being brought to the island changed things and the attack on the island kept being delayed.
With some difficulty and many close calls, the Red Claws and Ospreys were able to hold off Grufa’s forces and kill him. However, they then had to flee before finally launching the planned attack due to the imminent arrival of the Knights of the Rising Sun.

Battle Narrations:
(Beginning) There’s another early riser already out it seems, neither a farmer nor a Peruvian by the looks of things.
Hunts: Ah, a beautyful, mysty day. Now what was I looking for again? Hmm, maybe I left Eit Ein the fort.

(Hunts in Ballista Range) Hunts: Hmm, was eitt a frog? Or my money? No that’s not eit. Hey watch where you’re pointyng that, whoah! Oh where did I put my spellbook! Was eit that vyllage, or that one? No I had eitt a week ago dydn’t I?

(Darrin Recruits Hunts) Hunts Darrin: Oh hello there, nice to meet you. Hey you’re not gonna try to kyle me right? No Good. Well anyway, take a look at thyse violet. They have them on the other side of the mountains too but over there they’ve got 5 petals and these have 4. That’s interesting, but you need to watch out, this is a battlefield Oh no, eit eis? Where dyd I put that spellbook? Here, use this one Wait, that’s… let me see the fyrst page. Oh there’s my name, thyse eis my spellbook! Thanks for that, I’ll help you out with eit.

(Visiting village) Villager (A rather young woman out getting an early start milking the cows to judge by her bucket): Wuh-huh? Who are you, what do you want here?
She’s told they’re mercenaries, the Peruvians are coming, and they need to evacuate.
Villager: I’ll spread the word and we’ll get out as fast as we can. Here, take this! It’s my older sister’s hunting bow, maybe you can use it to defend the gates.

(Grufa Attacks) Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Who are you who managed to delay Peruvian soldiers?
Prince Rinvolin: I am Prince Rinvolin of House Yeor! Although you have attacked my country and my people without cause or provocation, still I will spare you and your men if you but lay down your arms and surrender!
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: You’re the prince? And these then are your elite troops? Pathetic! What a disgusting little hovel of a nation this is. Your filthy peasants should be glad we’re putting them out of their misery.

Closing Narrations:
In the dawning light at first it looks like the Peruvian commander is coughing, but you see then that he is also laughing despite his terrible injuries.
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, cough, heh heh, cough.

Prince Rinvolin: Why do you laugh, butcher?

Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, heh, heh, heh, because I know something, cough, you don’t know, heh.

Prince Rinvolin: You may as well enlighten me before you die, I’ve got plenty of time now we’ve defeated your raiding force.

Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, cough. No you’ve not. This? These men who nearly thrashed you? Cough, cough. We were but scouts. The Knights of the Rising Sun are coming. Heh, heh, heh.

Johannes: Vhat? How many of zem? From vhere?

Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough. 3. Cough, cough, cough, cough.

Johannes: Three? …zough it pains me to recommend it, ve had best send for reinforcements vith all haste, my prince. Vone Knight of ze Rising Sun vould be a glorious foe for varriors such as ve.

Prince Rinvolin: Yes, you’re probably right. We can use the fortress to buy time before we gather enough men to fight them.

Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh. Three. Hundred. They’ll… cough, cough, they’ll swat you aside like gnats. Cough. And seize your whole country within a week! Heh, heh, heh, heh. And now I’ve snared you for them, just as planned. Cough, cough. Well enjoy your last few minutes as prince.

Prince Rinvolin clutches his face in his gauntlets, frantically wracking his brains.

Johannes: He lies! Zey vould not send so many!
But Johannes seems far from certain. At that moment, Dame Andrine arrives after a frantic run, shining armor clanking loudly.
Dame Andrine: My prince, dreadful news! These Peruvians were merely scouts! The Knights of the Rising Sun are arriving! And there are still more of the scouting force moving to block us from the west!

It is true. A vast column of knights is riding into sight out of Oriv pass as she speaks. Their horses are swift and strong and white as Artax at least and the fine, gleaming barding they each wear is scarcely less heavy. They also wear great white and gold caparisons, but despite these encumbrances are closing the gap between you and them with terrifying speed. The knights themselves are to common soldiers as their horses are to 50-year-old donkeys. Their utter poise, confidence, and perfect riding technique are more intimidating than any slavering northern berserker. In their white armor emblazoned with golden sunbursts and on the countless similar penants that fly from their lances you see a Peruvia implacable and invincible.
Hands shaking in frustration or rage or despair, Prince Rinvolin fairly leaps astride Artax.
Prince Rinvolin: Retreat… Yes, we retreat! Immediately!

Johannes: My prince, I

Prince Rinvolin: I know, Johannes, but we must!

Johannes: You misunderstand, my lord. I vas not going to question but to counsel. Zer are some voods to ze vest, it vill be a perilous race but ve could lose zem in zhere!

Prince Rinvolin: Agreed! We break through the Peruvians to the west! Someone get those still south of the river moving that direction too. Move!

Chapter 4: A House Divided
3rd Session

Opening Narrations:
The Prince’s predictions prove true, the sentries have a very boring watch and when the sun finally rises late over the snow-capped mountains Rinvolin’s personal army is soon ready to move. The weather is quite fair with just the right amount of cloud to block out the sun from time to time and the relaxed march south for a few hours is a relatively pleasant one with quite a few people taking the time to wander freely among the other mercenary groups and shop around for better ones to join.

Several members of the party talked about the battle and other things, Rukh asking Shanba for advice on how to improve his technique when she wasn’t trying to sneak up and attack him (they had had a practice duel earlier in the morning).

You must be entering the rough and rocky – though ruggedly beautiful – lands of Gardnelle. His is a large but poor duchy; though he does make some money from silver mines in the nearest of the mountains it is not nearly as much as comes from Ikrir to his south. The farms here are scattered and struggling ones, but they make enough to get by and their duke ensures they save enough in good years to last them through bad ones. Though normally his lands are full of the soldiers he spends much of his time training, now they are quite empty. Evidently the duke and his army are further west, in the territory of Duke Grenfeld, so you set out in that direction and before noon are spotted by some Pegasus scouts from the League of Akaldin. Seeing your banners, they turn and return to the main group.
p. With Johannes to his left and the mystery man from before on his right, Prince Rinvolin rides out to greet the approaching entourage. Although you cannot hear what words are exchanged, these latter to a man dismount and kneel before their lord. As if to make the rumormongers look even more foolish, Prince Rinvolin and Duke Gardnelle ride back side by side in evidently friendly conversation, the others trailing behind. Although the professional soldiers treat some of you mercenaries with coolness, your group is generally welcomed into the army’s celebrations and with half a day left before the meeting you’ve been invited to, you have plenty of time to mingle and do as you please.

Many members of the Red Claws including Tsaba, Roslyr Giltonwyrd, Rukh, and so on joined the festivities and celebrations. Meanwhile Vendrik and the other mage talked about their mutual interest in magic, Shanba stalked Rukh for more swordfighting practice, Iaeis talked with Kiga (Kigathudia) Giltonwyrd, and so forth. Eventually Tsaba, Vendrik, Sygfryd, and Rukh show up at the prince’s meeting.

The prince’s pavilion is like the Yeorian flag in color and is very fine and expensive, however it is evidently old and has perhaps seen one or two campaigns too many. Inside it are at least two sections, the first of which is floorless and has a long, busy table set up with a few chairs left chairs waiting for you. The second presumably includes the prince’s private quarters. In the first area the table is being cleared by a few servants, dinner having apparently just been finished. At the left end of the table is Prince Rinvolin and near him are Duke Gardnelle, the mystery man (still hooded), Johannes, Ikrin Nirin, Sir Ellidan, Dame Andrine, others of the Ospreys, and a few more you guess to be fellow mercenaries. Duke Grenfeld is slumped in a chair between two of the Ospreys, being watched carefully as he picks aimlessly at his emptied platter. As you enter, Prince Rinvolin stands to greet you.
Prince Rinvolin: Welcome, Tsaba. There are some here who do not know you and your companions; once you’ve introduced yourselves we shall begin this council.

All introduced themselves.
With all of you introduced and seated with the other mercenary leaders, the prince begins the meeting.

Prince Rinvolin: War is confusing at the best of times, I suspect none of us here have a clear picture of all that has happened in even the last few days. Tollidarius, please enlighten any of us who don’t know about the beginning of our struggle. When he finishes, Tsaba’s company can tell of their doings, and then the honored Duke Gardnelle will describe how he led the army up till this meeting.

The brown-robed man nods and stands to give his story.
Mystery Man: Now not all of you know me and some of you may have been wondering for some time who I am.
At this he winks at Tsaba and his men. Then he draws back the hood from his face and as he does his robes turn from simple brown cloth to splendid red silk embroidered all over with the white osprey and stars of Yeoria.
Tollidarius: As his majesty gave away a moment too soon, I am Tollidarius XIII, called by some the Duke of Ivla.
At this Duke Gardnelle narrows his eyes inscrutably for a moment.
Famously one of the former king’s closest confidantes and most trusted advisers, Tollidarius is also known as a scholar of the magic arts and of countless other disciplines as well, heard of by a very few even as far as the Koran Free Cities for his breadth of knowledge. Save for being nearly bald with iron-grey hair he does not look his age, his eyes are bright and mirthful and he moves with a youthful vigor. You realize now also that he was staying carefully hunched over before too, for he is prodigiously tall though skinny as a rail.
Tollidarius: And by the grace of him and his forefathers, my family have been able to serve them and this glorious country in some small ways over the nigh on two centuries since it was founded in the days of my great-great-great grandfather Tollidarius VIII. Fortunately for those not of a historical bent, I don’t plan to start all the way back there in the days of yore, though in some respects this little war’s origins reach back that far.
In essence the nobility of this country has been allowed a great deal of autonomy and power over the years both to help with effective administration and keep them content and willing to be part of our marvelous state. Some, such as Duke Grenfeld here, wanted more however and were willing to commit high treason to get it seems. So they began forming a secret alliance with certain unpleasant elements among the barbarians to our north to either dissolve the country entirely, put one of their own on the throne, or just extort further concessions from the king. As you might suspect from this uncertainty of goal, it was a poorly planned and ill-conceived affair, this being due to no small extent to the bumbling and poor leadership of my –ah- rotund colleague over there. Although they now like to claim that this little rebellion of theirs is little older than the illness of our dear, departed King Treferdin who died of a wasting disease not more than a few months ago, in fact my sources tell me it was in the makings far before that.
In any case, they used various techniques of subterfuge and bureaucratic delay to prevent the Akt, our council of nobility, from simply approving Prince Rinvolin as our king even though he is not only the rightful heir but also one of the most gifted youths it has been my pleasure to teach. Although I had had my suspicions for some time, only when these rebel dukes declared that they supported Duke Grenfeld over there for the new king and the barbarians of the north invaded did the plot become clear.
The treachery and suddenness of the attack, the buildup to which had been concealed by these selfsame plotters, caught us somewhat offguard. It didn’t help that Prince Rinvolin was not yet allowed to command the army because he has not been made king. This might have left us prone before our enemies, but fortunately my honored colleague, Duke Gardnelle, is a very competent military man and was able to whip the armies of the loyal peers into shape quite quickly. Prince Rinvolin also acted swiftly by hiring many of you to make a personal army technically allowed by our laws so as to end the fight as quickly as possible. We had a many-fronted war to fight with some of our enemies still unknown, but Duke Gardnelle quickly overcame Duke Grenfeld’s rather poorly trained and pathetic forces and plowed straight on toward the advancing armies of the north.
This is where our stories diverged. My intelligence told me that the cowardly duke had fled north to his allies in Miffin, so the prince developed a very daring plan that you are doubtless all intimately familiar with to smash straight through the lines of the Northern Principalities and take Miffin before you could be properly pursued while Gardnelle kept up the main fight. I was fairly familiar with Miffin’s geography and on good terms with some of the local churches, so I gave the prince some suggestions as to how to ensure the cowardly little devil was captured when he fled again.
Now the story passes to Tsaba’s men and they can detail their own exploits while Prince Rinvolin expertly led the rout of Miffin’s forces.

Tsaba and his men give a very poor and stumbling version of their story, Sir Ellidan Whitestar of Yeor steps in and explains it better. However, this leaves out much that he didn’t see regarding the monster in the church. Duke Gardnelle now relays his own experiences.

Duke Gardnelle is not a large or a particularly strong looking man. Middle-aged, he is balding save for a blonde mustache and his face is laced with many ugly scars and frozen in a perpetual scowl. He wears the armor and uniform of a common Yeorian soldier, not the finery of a proper noble, and he speaks very softly and hoarsely. An air of confidence and pride follows him everywhere he goes though and his extremely pale blue eyes have a very dangerous look in them when he gazes on any but the prince and Johannes. As he speaks he stands and slowly walks around the table to loom over Duke Grenfeld, who cowers in his chair and seems to be trying to slide under the table.
Duke Gardnelle: My deeds of late are not half so impressive as my lord, Prince Rinvolin’s have been but our soldiers have made me a very proud man. Though disorganized by the circumstances, softened by the years of peace, often led by incompetent civilians, and disheartened by the revelation that some they called countrymen are worthless traitors who do not deserve to breathe our bracing air, they fought with skill and courage. Our northern adversaries are indeed worthy opponents, for their bravery is great and they retreat only that they may fight someone else. They are, in fact, more truly like the people of Yeoria than the cowardly dogs who whimper and beg at the feet of the likes of Grenfeld. However, they lacked our discipline and with that and the valor of fighting for our homeland, we took the field from them within a few days and sent them home to war with one another once again.
As he stares into the distance thinking of the battle his scowl slowly melts and is replaced by an odd sort of half-smirk, though that fades away again as soon as he stops speaking and returns to his seat.

Prince Rinvolin: Are there any questions?
There are none.
Prince Rinvolin: Now we must consider the future and then our moves for the present. Duke Gardnelle, what do you scouts report?

This time the soft-spoken general does not stand, and he shows little enthusiasm for what follows.
Duke Gardnelle: Though we must tread carefully, victory is within our grasp. The northerners fall back before our strength of arms and as word arrives that Miffin has been conquered, this obese toad of a civilian captured, and some of the northern princes turned upon the others I predict their rout will turn into surrender.
The traitors are led by fat and slovenly cowards. We shall ride over their men like cobblestones and pike their mutinous skulls on our proud flags. However, they are spread among us so that we must fight on many fronts even as we continue to unearth the true scope of the conspiracy.
Further, my liege, I also have a report on the status of our armies. With your permission I will give that now as well.

Prince Rinvolin nods of course.

Duke Gardnelle: The true soldiers of Yeoria are the best in the world. In us alone are combined the fierce courage of the north and the discipline of the east.
However, the army suffers from the leadership of men not fit to shine your boots. We are a disordered patchwork without clear organization and chain of command because certain dukes insist on commanding with no experience or knowledge. Their so-called men are scarcely true soldiers and often do not even have the proud uniform of our country. Worse, there are doubtless spies and traitors among us.
Finally, while morale is soaring after our resounding victory it will not be for much longer as we are forced to fight those we once thought countrymen and brothers. The confusion and disorder which extend even to our supply lines will have a detrimental effect as well.
In short, I fear for the army’s viability if the fighting stretches on into sieges. All is not lost however, what is needed is properly rigid discipline for the men and commanders who lack it. With your permission to do what is needed, I will hammer this into a fighting force truly worthy of your majesty and your country.

Prince Rinvolin shakes his head.
Prince Rinvolin: You are a fine soldier, Duke Gardnelle, and I do well to rely on you. If all our men and women were like you there would be no force of this age that could best the army of Yeoria. But as I have said before, I cannot have you punishing your fellow dukes! It would tear the fabric of Yeorian society and spread great resentment among their people.

Duke Gardnelle: As you say, my lord.

Prince Rinvolin: Tollidarius, what do your sources say?

Tollidarius: I regret to inform you that not all my news is the good either. Let me save that for later however. First I am indeed in agreement with Duke Gardnelle about the state of our troops and that the remainder of this war will be fairly easy. There is already an attempt afoot among some of the northern princes to try to organize a second attack, but I believe they will desist when they find the leader of their allies has been captured. Furthermore, a few of them it turns out did not send the majority of their forces to war and have struck those who did while the latters’ men were away. Yet another bloody war betwixt them is brewing rapidly and this is fine news for us.
As you know however, just a few days ago we received a letter from King Rejrar of Snorivia, our ally, pledging that his men will be ready to support us “Come any threat.” As you may recall, I noted that it was unsettling at the time that the note was not in any sort of code and was in fact not even sealed. This now brings me to the less pleasant side of my report and some information I learned just recently. I shall start with my conclusion: Peruvia is preparing for war. It may be with us or it may be with the Snorivians, but they have relocated a noticeable number of their forces in our direction. We would do well to prepare for the worst.

That jolts everyone and a brief silence follows.

Prince Rinvolin: No, I do not think they mean to attack us. I met Satran Sadakar the Silent and found him a most friendly and reasonable man almost two years ago now. He would not invade our lands without cause. On the other hand, the Peruvian grudge against the Snorivians is ancient and well-known. Still, I thought they had had their revenge centuries ago in the Third Peruvian-Snorivian War and I see no reason they would attack again this year in particular.

Tollidarius: I never met their ruler myself, though it is true he is very old and has never to the best of my knowledge made an aggressive move against a neighbor. Perhaps you are right. And now we have a dilemma. If he means war we must be prepared, but if he does not we must not provoke him into one by making what might look like an aggressive move ourselves. There is a third course which I know you will not accept however.

Duke Gardnelle: No, we’ve no need of your cowardice here, Tollidarius. There is another possibility which perhaps we should consider, however. You say that the Satran does not wish war, very well, maybe that is true. But Peruvia is a country run by its military and though they are no doubt rarer than foolish or treacherous or insubordinate civilians it is true that there are occasionally such people among even generals. I have heard that the Peruvians have somewhere found a new general who the peasantry romantically call the Red-Ribbon Knight as if his identity were unknown. Mayhap this man intends war without his superior’s consent. In either case we must be prepared.

Even Prince Rinvolin seems concerned about the prospect of war with Peruvia. He and his confidantes confer in whispers for a moment.
Duke Gardnelle: My prince, I ask that we send away certain suspect persons before speaking of any more sensitive matters.

Prince Rinvolin: You don’t trust someone here?

Duke Gardnelle: While your trusting nature is indeed admirable, I am concerned that too many people here are foreigners or others whose patriotism is… unproven.

Tollidarius: You mean civilians such as myself of course. I will make no argument in my own defense, but I would point out that your devoted follower Johannes who you trust above all others is counted a foreigner by our laws and that these others are mercenaries. Few could be trusted more not to care a whit about our politics than them.

Prince Rinvolin: Enough. Surely, Gardnelle, you don’t mean to make me choose between you and Tollidarius. I’ve known and trusted you both since I could scarcely walk and my father before me had great faith in you each as well. There are good men in the world who are not also military men like you and I.

Gardnelle Shrugs

Prince Rinvolin: Very well then, to continue, I believe you had a suggestion, Tollidarius.

Tollidarius: Indeed I do. First consider the following: we must root out the rebels among us so that you can be crowned king with all haste regardless of whether Peruvia means war. Utterly trustworthy, intelligent, and well-meaning though Duke Grenfeld is, we haven’t the time to make sure everything he tells us is true before we act. Therefore we must get our information another way. I’ve never known a man so careless with the truth that he lied to himself in his personal records.

Prince Rinvolin: Ah, so seek the truth in writing rather than speech. But Duke Grenfeld burned all his papers before we could seize any so far as I’m aware.

Tollidarius nods.
Tollidarius: Correct, I suggest someone else: Duke Deruvr

Prince Rinvolin: Deruvr?!

Duke Gardnelle: Watch your forked tongue, civilian. The Duke of Deruvr is a noble man and a model for all his peers, do not impugn his honor.

Tollidarius: I did not want to believe it myself but just today one of my informants told me of a letter sent by the duke of Ikrir to him which we intercepted. Its contents leave no doubt. He draws a broken-sealed envelope from his robe and casts it upon the table. Duke Gardnelle plucks it up and begins reading suspiciously.
Tollidarius: His betrayal pains and puzzles me greatly as well. But perhaps he will do this land of ours on last service, for he was ever a clever and methodical man and will no doubt have learned the exact strength of the traitors before he decided to join them. I suspect he will keep such records among other useful information in his castle, which he erroneously regards as impregnable after all his additions. If we strike at him quickly and seize his information for ourselves en route to the south we will probably learn all we need quickly and defeat one of our more potentially troublesome foes at the same stroke. What say you?

It is apparent immediately that such a plan is to Johannes, Duke Gardnelle, and Prince Rinvolin’s liking, though the news that Deruvr is a traitor is almost as much a shock as the threat of Peruvian aggression.
Duke Gardnelle: I am surprised to hear such boldness from a wily one like you, Tollidarius. Have I misjudged you all these years or is there something yet you have not mentioned?

Tollidarius smiles charmingly
Tollidarius: You are quite right about me of course, I have no intention of being there when the castle is stormed. I owe Deruvr money afterall and it would be awkward if he asked for it. No, I must go swiftly to call together the Akt] to affirm Prince Rinvolin as our king with all haste. Besides, if they are all gathered when the news of who the secret traitors are arrives it will be easy to immediately capture the treacherous ones. Furthermore, I need to reconnect with some of my sources as fast as possible to get the latest and most trustworthy news of Peruvia and beyond.

Prince Rinvolin steps in quickly to prevent any cutting remarks from the duke.
Prince Rinvolin: Very well then, I think our course is settled. We leave 500-1000 here in Grenfeld’s lands along the border. They needn’t be our best but they must be absolutely trustworthy. Duke Gardnelle, you will of course retain control of the rest of the army and should march them south to defend our border with all haste. The Ospreys and such of my mercenaries as have proven themselves useful and are willing will go with me to castle Deruvr and take it by storm if need be before we follow you, sending our finds to Tollidarius as well to hopefully catch up to him soon after he reaches Yeor. Now I am sure you would rather participate in this first attack with me, but the country’s interests must take precedence. We need you at the fore of our army to lead it and keep it working in these difficult times. There is no one else who can do that in your stead while you fight by my side in the lands of Deruvr. Therefore, Duke Gardnelle, I hereby order you to take full command of Yeoria’s military until such a time as I can legally captain it myself. While I have no doubt we will win at Deruvr, who knows what ill fortunes of war may separate me from the throne if Peruvia invades? Do what you must to keep Yeoria safe and glorious.

Tollidarius: Ah my prince, while you are doubtless trying very hard to be prudent and doing an admirable job of it, you might wish to rethink your word-

Prince Rinvolin: Enough! Let there be no more strife between us! My father relied on you both to work together and I expect the same. I need you to do the same. You are each skilled, trusted, and admirable men in your way so put our country first and your differences second!

Tollidarius: My apologies, lord, for troubling you at a time like this.

Duke Gardnelle: I live to serve. Ah, what of all the prisoners?

Prince Rinvolin: Oh yes, well I suppose you’d best take them since you’ve got the army. Maybe some of the northerners will even fight with us against the Peruvians if it comes to that.

The Duke nods, betraying perhaps the slightest of smirks at the corner of his mouth
Duke Gardnelle: You two there, drag him out and keep Grenfeld with the others. Don’t let his blubbery carcass out of sight for an instant.
Duke Grenfeld it seems has fainted, but the guards manage to carry him out.

Duke Gardnelle: Very well then. If you’ve no further need of me, my prince, perhaps I had best go and get the troops ready to move out by dawn. We’ve no time to waste afterall.

Prince Rinvolin nods and then turns again to the rest of you as Duke Gardnelle marches out.
Prince Rinvolin: Well what say you and your men to all this, Tsaba? And the rest of you? Will you serve me yet again? It will be dangerous work but I can pay well for good soldiering on your parts.

The Red Claws present all agree to continue with him.
The other mercenary leaders, as a body, decline and opt instead to join the ranks of the conventional army if they can. A higher pay to personal danger ratio afterall.

p. Thus the next morning sees you departing tired and unkempt before the sun first begins to peek over the peaks of the Minalins. Many of them now with hangovers, the army is somewhat less festive than it was the night before. They make good time though for Duke Gardnelle made ertain they could pack up quickly the night before. The Red Claws ride along now in the Prince’s entourage at the fore of most of the columns. It will be most of three days from here to castle Deruvr and it is decided to stay by the main army and with them brush aside most of the resistance to the attack on the castle, but to stop half a day and reconnoiter before your attack and search of the castle. It is odd how military life affords you sometimes so much free time and yet never leaves you a moment to do anything.
p. The lands of Deruvr are like most of central Yeoria, a gradually sloping plain down to the distant sea. Here however are kept a number of forests for timber that the duke maintains assiduously from here to year as his main source of long-term income. Much of it goes to buy himself new books of magical lore by all accounts, but at least a little is saved for buying grain from abroad in years of crop blights or maintaining his roads and for this the peasants are grateful. These selfsame roads now make it easy for you and the thousands with you to quickly travel his lands, having resupplied with food while traveling through Grenfeld’s former lands. You meet little resistance, those of his men who cannot get out of the way quickly throw down their weapons rather than face hundred to one odds, to Gardnelle’s disappointment. Many others are actually eager to join you rather than fight for a traitor. Those loyal to their duke retreat further and further toward his castle. That may make for a tough fight. Though not up to Gardnelle’s standards by any means, Duke Deruvr was known to train some of the better soldiers in the realm. Not that Prince Rinvolin would have used it deliberately, but any chance at surprise is now lost as well of course. On the other hand, there’s probably a lot of information about the castle to be gained from the new prisoners and recruits.

Shanba and Rukh each independently interrogate and learn a great deal from several prisoners and deserters, sharing their findings later.

Somewhat after noon on the third day you reach a crossroads along a road between the trees and the sprawling farm fields and here you must part ways. Under Duke Gardnelle the army continues marching south at double time, waiting a day or probably more to take a strategically irrelevant castle could be the disastrous difference between being on the border to reinforce it and being twenty miles away. Tollidarius will turn westward to take the more consistently good roads along the sea to Yeor, while the rest of you move briefly east to take the castle. Before leaving, Tollidarius calls a meeting with the rest of you.
Tollidarius: I know time is important right now and I know you won’t want to wait, but please take some time to scout out the situation of the castle. Duke Deruvr is clever and a skilled magician, fighting on his terms will not go well no matter that you are the more valorous. I also learned some interesting things from some of his men over drinks, though I confess it may not all be accurate. First off, his castle has an outer curtain about the keep as you probably know. Getting through that will be the first obstacle. There’s only one gate and it’s both well-guarded and enchanted to heal its defenders or something like that. Now it gets worse though, the towers on that side of the keep apparently have ballistae on their roofs. So do the outer curtain ones according to one man. No one I talked to even knows what kind of defenses he has inside the keep and I don’t think you want to find out. But the duke himself is a skilled user of Dark Magic, we corresponded a lot and he mentioned working on a spell that will let him strike at great range. The duke’s not a total coward like Grenfeld, he won’t take a stupid risk, but he probably will use all the magical means at his disposal to tilt the odds in his men’s favor. You may be able to surprise him if he leaves the keep to do so. Oh one more thing, I’ve hired a local mercenary mage-

Earliorinl: Freelancer! I’m a freelancing mage! I can do much more than just fight you know. You should consider hiring me on, I’m good for clerical work, diplomatic meetings, household repairs, message delivery, and darn near everything else-

Tollidarius: A mercenary. One of some skill I’m told, and considerable expense. I paid out of pocket since I can’t be certain of his usefulness, but he’s contracted to use up one tome of considerably long-ranged magic as you direct. After that he’s free to go. Hmm, nothing else I can think of to add.

Shanba and Rukh at this point reveal what they learned, which doesn’t change the overall plan.

Tollidarius: Then farewell my lord. If I had to entrust this task to anyone it would be you. May fortune smile upon the lot of you.

Prince Rinvolin: And also on you. May your feet be guided along the Shining Path. Until we meet again.

For lack of a proper hill, castle Deruvr has instead been situated on a spring to help it outlast a siege. A steep, sturdy wall with a new walkway some 20 feet high runs about the very edge of it in a large square or rhombus. This wall is crowned with 6 towers, counting two small but sturdy gatehouses. Inside can be glimpsed the taller and grander keep, its slanting, blue-shingled roof actually taller than its own walls and towers in the middle and employing a complex system of gutters to pour the snowmelt over them. Near the crown of the complex is a small Pegasus stable and it is further defended by a number of well-placed and craftily engineered ballistae on many of the towers. Although it is night, there will be a full moon to see by and there is not a cloud in the bleak and starry sky.

Battle Information:
Retries: 0
Characters Allowed: 8 + 2 allies
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Earliorinl, Faeviss, Iaeis, Ilyana, Johannes, Kiga (Kigathudia) Giltonwyrd, Prince Rinvolin of Yeoria, Roslyr Giltonwyrd, Rukh Astroa of Peruvia, Sygfryd
Characters Slain: None
Victory Conditions: Kill Duke Deruvr.
Loss Conditions: Prince Rinvolin dies or Duke Deruvr escapes.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws roughly level 4, Ospreys roughly level 7, Prince Rinvolin roughly level 7) vs. Duke Deruvr’s Personal Forces (Guards level 5, Duke Deruvr leel 9)
Outcome: Duke Deruvr was slain, his surviving men surrendered, and Prince Rinvolin thereby took the castle and the important documents therein. However, the revelation that Duke Deruvr was not merely a traitor but a practitioner of Profane Magic shocked Prince Rinvolin.
Treasure Acquired: 500 Silver North-Ring (payment from Rinvolin for accomplishing the mission, halved for having killed a surrendered enemy), Eclipse (dropped by Duke Deruvr).
Treasure Missed: Devil Axe (Dropped by a fighter)
Location: Castle Deruvr. Red Marker east of the Deruvr marker
Map: Map picture

Battle Summary: The Red Claws decide to avoid the dangerous gate and focus only on the right part of the outer wall. Using Johannes and Iaeis to quickly ferry men onto the wall they took it with ease and blocked the trapdoors through which reinforcements could have come.
This strategy allowed them to bypass most of the enemy forces, however they were not able to prevent enemy reinforcements from securing the inner tower. Having seized the bottom right ballista, Ilyana used it to slay a surrendered troubadour.
About this time, Duke Deruvr emerged from the bottom LEFT inner tower and re-animated the slain mage to continue invulnerably casting meteor at the party. He made his way toward the battle with his dangerous eclipse tome as well.
Stopping only to be healed briefly and egged on by several of the Red Claws, Johannes picked up Rinvolin and rushed the inner keep alongside Iaeis carrying Ilyana. With some skillful maneuvering, they turned the tables on the craft duke and slew him.

Battle Narrations:
p. (Beginning) Once you’ve gathered but before you make your move, Prince Rinvolin suddenly canters Artax forward and rides up nearly to the enemy’s gates. A guard answers him through a small opening in the gate.
Prince Rinvolin: We call upon you to surrender! I’m am prepared to forgive all of you and even the Duke his treachery, for he is a friend of my dear friend and the Shining Path bays me be merciful!
Guard: A kind offer my lord Prince, but my master would decline It, for you would not forgive all if you knew all. As for us, we are men of Yeoria and of Deruvr’s guard, and we will not surrender!
Prince Rinvolin: You are my countryman, and the one you gave your oath to has broken his to me. You are bound to him no more and it is not meet that we fight.
Guard: True enough, he has betrayed his oaths and turned from the truth of Fundin. He brings dishonor on these lands and on all of us. But we cannot make this a world without oathbreakers by casting aside ours with the first justification that presents itself. I have sworn to serve Duke Deruvr till one of us dies, and I will not break my vow, nor will the others here.
Prince Rinvolin: It is a dark day indeed in the history of a country when a prince must slay his own people to save them. Very well, at least let us fight with honor!
Guard: With pride, my prince!

(Deruvr arrives)As you battle by the light of the moon among the crenellations of Castle Deruvr, a robed mage emerges from one of the towers of the inner keep. A chill and an unsettling, butterfly in stomach feeling seems to spread over the battlefield from him.
Duke Deruvr: I knew this day would come when first I touched that forbidden book.

I’ve lived for my learning,
And to myself been true.
Come, wrath storm and battle,
Now I’ll die for it too.

He gives a mirthless chuckle
Duke Deruvr: And so will some of you. There’s none more dangerous than a true scholar. Are you out there Prince Rinvolin?

Prince Rinvolin: I’m here, duke! Do you wish to surrender? Please, let us end this terrible slaughter.

Duke Deruvr: Chuckle No, I just wanted to know where to aim. I’ve heard you’re no dunce, but you’re a fool nonetheless. What gives people like you the right to tell me what I am or am not allowed to know? You self-righteous ignoramuses turn your backs on the truth and on the common good in the name of old and moldy traditions while we true sorcerers are the virtuous ones!

Prince Rinvolin: Do you mean to tell me you’ve delved into profane magic? That is forbidden!

Duke Deruvr: Why?

Prince Rinvolin: It is heresy, evil, dangerous to body and spirit! You tear up the flowers on the graves of those to whom we owe everything for the vanity of knowing things for its own sake. I could forgive you betraying me, but to betray Sekeriah and his brethren I cannot.

Duke Deruvr: Then one of us dies tonight. Hopefully you, simpleton. My learning has given me power beyond the courageless excuses for mages you have with you.
As he speaks he raises his hand, and from it snap out strings or whips hundreds of feet long and red like blood. Latching onto the corpse of one of his fallen men, they yank it to its feet and jerk it about like a puppet, weapon still in hand.

Closing Narrations:
With the vile duke slain, his fell magic ceases and his loyal guard, though still very numerous, surrender. Another battle is won. Prince Rinvolin however is distraught.
Prince Rinvolin: And to think that such blasphemy went on all these years in my father’s own realm! Is there any foulness to which these dukes will not sink? Is Yeoria rotted to the core?

As the injured are being taken from the field, Prince Rinvolin and Ilyana have an altercation about the fleeing woman she killed. Prince Rinvolin decides to refer the matter to the captain of Deruvr’s guard and to talk to Tsaba about it as well.

TYou pass the night in the old castle, in which the reek of profane magic still lingers like the dangerous scent of ozone after a lightning bolt. Sometimes the shadows in the extensive library seem to move of their own accord. Prince Rinvolin however fears no spook and stays up far into the morning by flickering candlelight among the books and scrolls laid out all around.
Without him, dinner with men and women you had just prior been fighting to the death is rather awkward, but the guards and servants of the duke seem almost relieved for his sake that he is dead and are eager not to offend you after you showed them mercy.
No one is sure when the prince went to sleep; but he wakes again at dawn, tired and haggard, to confront the treachery of his subjects, some of whom he had trusted. To judge by the filthy fireplace he has burned a great many texts, and his strong hands are blackened and stained by the ink with which he has penned copious notes.
He shows no inclination to talk to anyone, only a great hurry to leave this place. Over a breakfast he only moves around his plate, Johannes counsels him simply.

Johannes: My lord, it vould be best to send lord Tollidarius your findings quickly vould it not? Zese messengers, zey cannot be trusted vith such zings. I suggest ve return north to ze lands of Duke Gardnelle and send ze message by Pegasus from zere. It vill be ze safest zing for such precious information. Zere ve may also find mounts for ze slower of zese mercenaries so zat ve make up for ze time ve lose.
The prince mulls it over silently a moment and then nods. Johannes conveys the order to you all.

Before leaving, Prince Rinvolin informs Ilyana that the captain of the guard has opted to spare her since the Red Claws showed the rest of them mercy. However, he gives Tsaba only half the pay for the mission he had planned and warns him to keep his men better disciplined.

_ By noon of the second day, having at last had time to sleep, Prince Rinvolin is back to his normal spirits. The weather has been excellent, warmer than usual for this time of year. You have made good time on the fading roads._

As the sun sets on the third day of your journey you are cutting through Duke Grenfeld’s former lands toward Duke Gardnelle’s nearby castle. Along the way Prince Rinvolin secured a relay of mounts so that you may make your journey hence with all haste in the morning.
The road you ride upon is of raised dirt and surrounded by desolate, stony fields too poor to farm for miles to each side. Indeed the only movement you realize are the tiny, wheeling shapes of crows in the sky. Then as twilight falls the wind begins from behind you to before. With it come tortured groans of the dying and a reek of blood that would put many battlefields to shame. As you look about at one another in revulsion and confusion the first of the bodies come into view.
The road ahead is strewn as far as you can see with horrible things. Hundreds or thousands of men and women dead or dying lie along the road, bound feet together and hands above their heads so that they cannot lift themselves. They have been mutilated awfully, backs torn open and lungs artfully pulled out to flap and flutter with tortured breaths and the breeze like grotesque wings. Many dozen crows feast upon them already and more are gathering. Driven by a terrible fear of what he will find, the prince spurs his snorting horse forward, Johannes following him closely. Those of you not turning away or being ill in the nearby ditch note that while most of the slain are peasants, many others bear the coat of arms of Duke Grenfeld or of one of the local militias.
Prince Rinvolin: DAMN IT ALL! WHY?!
The prince comes galloping back your way, Johannes straining his Pegasus to keep up on the ground.
Those of you with the stomach to move on eventually come to a grisly crossroads, along the other roads from which too the executed are laid out in lines. And there in the middle, the place of honor, lies what is left of Duke Grenfeld. He has been drawn and quartered and a vulture of unusual size sits and tears at his blubbery guts. He has somehow contrived to look even more terrified in death than any of the times you saw him cowering before.

The Red Claws and Sir Ellidan debate what this could mean and who could have perpetrated the massacre. Theories include the monster from the church, other rebel forces angry at Duke Grenfeld’s surrender, bandits, and others. Eventually they just follow Prince Rinvolin.

Johannes: Zere vas a reason.
The prince makes no reply, only shaking his head as you travel back the way you came.

B_efore another day passes you are met by two messengers of the League of Akaldin who spiral out of the sky to deliver important messages. The first is from Tollidarius who has nearly reached Yeor and says that the Akt is soon to meet and the list of traitors would be greatly appreciated. The second must be from Duke Gardnelle in the south._
League of Akaldin: Greetings, great lord. I bear tidings most dire. The bloodthirsty Peruvians declared war upon us not a day hence. I have ridden since then on many pegasi to reach you. Duke Gardnelle urgently requests your aid reinforcing Fort Kirin along the River Yoru. On my way here I was intercepted by a Rukh Rider sent by our ally, King Rejrar of Snorivia. He warned that while a vast force does indeed march at the river border even now, a second is sent in secret to cross the Minalin Mountains and so evade our defenses and drive into our lands unopposed. Though I am not sure I credit the rumor, they say this second force includes many of the Knights of the Rising Sun. They say further it is under the command of one called the Red-Ribbon Knight. It is not an easy choice you face, but please decide quickly so that I may bring advance tidings to Duke Gardnelle.

Prince Rinvolin, who had dealt with the prior messenger mechanically, now straightens in his saddle.
Prince Rinvolin: If the Peruvians too wish death on my people
Johannes continues with him
Both: Then they shall die on our lances!

Prince Rinvolin: Tsaba, your men are not my subjects. Which do they choose: the pass of the Minalins or the defense of Fort Kirin. Decide quickly, we’ve another war to win.

Tsaba and his company decide to stop the secret strike force being sent through the Minalins.

Chapter 3: The Gates
(Second Session)

Opening Narrations:
Upon hearing that Prince Rinvolin is under attack, the hooded stranger doesn’t give Tsaba even a moment’s time to hesitate.

Mystery Man: Well what are you waiting for, man! If anything happens to your employer you can’t be paid! Up! Up, all of you! We must have winged speed! Gather the prisoners and get moving toward Miffin. As for you, holy mother, I’m sorry for the trouble we’ve caused and the damage to your great church and that we must go with no further explanation. My prince is a very good and pious man, no doubt he will repay you handsomely for your cooperation, you have my word.

While not exactly pleased with this turn of events, nor yet come to grips with what happened to her temple, Mother Indriv is at least glad to have his word.
Mother Indriv: Then farewell to thee, strangers, and may you grow ever more like Sekeriah in word and deed.

The mysterious man is the last to leave as he hurries you all out into the brilliant afternoon sun of the snowy pass. Stopping at the threshold he turns.
Mystery Man: Pray tell, what whole thing was in that grand reliquary of yours that the creature stole?
Mother Indriv: Why the holiest thing of all: the sacred blood of Sekeriah himself.
If this gives the mystery man any particular concern he does not show it, instead turning to continue shepherding you all quickly toward the north side of the pass. Even at a good clip it will be some time before you reach the switchbacks and can find out for yourselves what’s going on.

The hooded man is surprisingly spry for an old man and keeps pace with even the quickest of you with long, swift strides and dragging the obese Duke Grenfeld forward whenever he slows to catch his breath. He seems to have no shortage of mockery for the captured noble.
Mystery Man: Guess you should have let your peasants keep more of their piglets this year, huh Grenfeld? Oh if only they could see you now. Is this the first time you ever worked up a sweat or are we talking second or third here?

Then you’ve at last reached the steep, switchbacking path down the mountain. From this vantage point, obstructed by only the barest wisps of extremely low cloud and the vast glare of the great sea and lingering snow, you have a better view of the battlefield than probably its participants.
The city of Miffin is a great battlefield, chaotic and disordered. House by house and street by street the prince’s ragtag mercenaries are besting the city’s crumbling militia. The fighting is not smooth or clean though, it is not clear where one side’s territory ends and another begins and the militia is by far the more coordinated of the two sides. Smoke rises from many homes and buildings, though there is no widespread fire as yet, obscuring your view of the nearby bay and the many ships fleeing out into it.
But there is another force in this conflict now arriving on the scene. From the battlefield a day to the south stream a great host of warriors, disordered and scattered but numerous and doubtless very dangerous if the ferocity of northern warriors is as great as legend holds.
The narrow strip of farmland between the mountains and the sea is rough and rocky and streaked with at least two sizable streams and a pond or perhaps estuary, difficult terrain to say the least. But the new warriors, scattered or in bands, are coming to the defense of the city and beset the few men guarding the ruined gates. You’ll just have to hope they can hold out till you can descend the mountain and reach them.

Mystery Man: Organize yourselves as you will, but a large party needs to stay with the prisoners and make sure especially that the duke does not escape. There is strength in numbers; that creature may still be around and we don’t know what it was up to.

As you hurry back and forth down the snow slopes, you see there are but three men holding the broken city gates against all comers. The prince is in the middle, resplendent on his white steed and shining armor. To his right is the most famous and dangerous and newest of the Ospreys, Johannes Ehrlant of Ivla on his pegasus. And on his left is one only Sir Ellidan recognizes: Dame Andrine of Deruvr. These 3 dispatch all comers, but for how much longer?
Johannes: More of zem come! Let me at zem, my prince, I shall lay zem all flat like sheafs of grain in ze harvest in your name!
Dame Andrine: Nay my lord, we cannot risk them reaching the city!
Prince Rinvolin: Your courage is admirable as always, Johannes, but she is right. The Shining Path decrees I must put aside personal glory to safeguard my men. Otherwise I too would ride out and fight them as should a knight.
Johannes: I vill do as you command, lord. Let zese barbarians learn from my lance zat it is death to attack Yeoria!
Prince Rinvolin: Let us hope we have to teach it to few others. Sekeriah’s glory there are a lot of them! Hopefully reinforcements will be here soon.
Johannes: Do you tire? If you are veary vid the sorrow of recent days and ze vork of commanding zen let me take point! Not a vone shall reach you or Dame Andrine!
Prince Rinvolin: No, it’s neither fear nor exhaustion that gives me pause. I worry only that our weapons will break before their will to die upon them.
Johannes: Vorry not, my lord. Tollidarius is no soldier but he is dutiful and svift as vone who is not can be. He may even bring us new veapons before zese mercenaries seize ze city.

Battle Information:
Retries: 1, Mathus the Hadranic the casualty.
Retry Summary: The party takes massive casualties trying to escape the first area due to reckless tactics. It is decided that a retry is in order to save Sir Ellidan and Shanba.
Characters Allowed: 8 + 3 allies
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Dame Andrine of Deruvr, Iaeis, Ilyana, Johannes, Kiga (Kigathudia) Giltonwyrd, Koldrin Lystar of Koran FC, Prince Rinvolin of Yeoria, Shanba, Sir Ellidan Whitestar of Yeor, Tsaba, Vendrik
Characters Slain: Mathus (Retry casualty), Koldrin Lystar (Cut down by a militia fighter he attacked).
Victory Conditions: Speak to Prince Rinvolin and secure both river bridgehouses.
Loss Conditions: Prince Rinvolin dies or outside enemies reach the interior of Miffin.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws roughly level 4, Ospreys roughly level 7, Prince Rinvolin roughly level 5) vs. Army of the Northern Principalities (Retreating Northerners roughly level 3, Miffin City Militia roughly level 1, Sir Igrahar Ironheart of Ikrir roughly level 10)
Outcome: The enemies were annihilated, the prince’s men had time to capture many of his enemies in Miffin, and the prince’s army escaped back to safety. This gives a victorious conclusion to his daring attack and should be beginning of the end of the war. Prince Rinvolin impressed by Tsaba and the Red Claws.
Treasure Acquired: 3000 Silver North-Ring (payment from Rinvolin for accomplishing the previous mission), Shadow Wave (received from a village), Steel Greatlance (dropped by Sir Igrahar Ironheart).
Treasure Missed: Guiding Ring (received from a village)
Location: Farmlands near Miffin. Red Marker just south of Miffin
Chapter 3 picture
Battle Summary: The Red Claws act with decisive speed, their flyers quickly traveled north of the river taking Sir Ellidan with them. Meanwhile the others used the terrain and their foes’ stupidity to their advantage, slowly besting the great numbers of northerners flinging themselves upon them and moving toward the center of the map. The northern contingent comes to the aid of Prince Rinvolin and his men.
It seems that Prince Rinvolin actually requested merely that new weapons be brought rather than reinforcements, but that the messenger decided himself reinforcements were necessary and asked for those instead. The prince was pleased to hear they had captured Duke Grenfeld and gladly paid them for their services. Asking them to take his place guarding the city, he and Johannes and Andrine charged into the enemy recklessly.
At this stage the battle took a turn for the worse. Brigands were able to pillage the southeastern village, the southern party ended up in a very tough fight without a decisive terrain advantage, the northern party was defeated and forced to flee by Miffin militia who appeared from the city (Koldrin dying in the process), Prince Rinvolin and Johannes became badly injured, and Sir Igrahar Ironheart of Ikrir appeared to the south (sent to rescue Duke Grenfeld).
The Prince’s forces persevered however and managed to scrape together a nearly flawless victory despite these setbacks, helped a bit by the mystery man who revealed a mysterious ability to inspire others to act again very quickly. Prince Rinvolin and Johannes bested Sir Igrahar, a very powerful enemy.

Battle Narrations:
Top Left Villagers greeting the Red Claws with hostility and pitchforks: We don’t want no trouble, but we ain’t letting no looters in here. Get out before I run ya through! And take your damn unholy books with you, southerner! (Received Shadow Wave).
Prince Rinvolin to his rescuers: Ah the mercenaries from the pass. But what are you doing here? I only requested more weapons, not reinforcements. Well that’s Lindr, always looking out for me. If you’ll take my place guarding the city, I will take the fight to the enemy as should a knight!

Closing Narrations:
_Although there remains fighting to be done, the hardest part of the battle is over at last and the field has been secured long enough for the Prince’s ragtag army of mercenaries to re-emerge and regroup. Miffin has fallen and its leading citizens have been captured. There have been fewer casualties than could have been expected and spirits seem high. Best of all, the influx of enemy warriors has ceased. According to some of the prisoners, they were but fleeing the battle to the south which turns in Yeoria’s favor by the hour and hoped perhaps to plunder Miffin a bit on their way back home. All are further heartened by this news, though the prince realizes it means you will be in the way of a full rout sooner or later. His Ospreys and the mercenary leaders he tells this news quickly rally everyone who looks like they’re getting comfortable and hustle the army to the southeast as fast as possible. It is a tiring journey after fighting all day but you make camp that night in the shade of the Minalin Mountains scarcely a mile from the Yeorian border. _

The camp is quite merry in the firelight, Prince Rinvolin has distributed everyone’s pay and they are excitedly talking about what they will spend it on or gambling it against one another by the light of many campfires. The flap to the prince’s pavilion is kept open for any to speak to him who will, but he spends much of the evening wandering to and fro with silent Johannes getting to know many of the mercenaries in his employ, including Tsaba of the Redclaws.
Prince Rinvolin: Well met, honored Tsaba. You are truly extraordinary to have found such fine and true warriors among mercenaries. I would the other bands I’ve had to hire were as brave. Many thanks for capturing Duke Grenfeld without harming him, you’ve helped me save many lives in so doing whether you care or not.
Prince Rinvolin: By this time tomorrow I hope to have rejoined my countrymen under the command of the honorable Duke Gardnelle and we shall hold a council on how to spring as speedy and bloodless an end to this war as we may. I ask that you and as many as two of your followers who you would like in attendance meet in my tent at sundown. We may speak among other things of revising or extending your contract if you wish.
Tsaba accepts the invitation and he and the prince strike up a conversation about the prince’s Hexenhammer. The prince explains that it was a gift from his sister and that he keeps it around in memory of her as well as because it is a phenomenal weapon against the Magic users who are otherwise a danger to him.

Mounting his alabaster horse again he turns and leaves for his own quarters. Along the way something gives him pause however. A drunken mercenary thug is boasting loudly to his companions of taking the jewelry and fine dress he now offers for an ante from a silversmith’s wife during the attack. Prince Rinvolin and Artax stop short immediately, Johannes reaching for his spear.
Prince Rinvolin: Where did you get that finery?
Mercenary: Uhm, well, ah, it was a gift it. In Miffin. Yeah a pretty little maid gave them to me as a memento of our-ah- time together, your highness.
The others chuckle nervously at his very poor attempt at a bawdy joke and the Prince’s icy stare. He dismounts heavily but smoothly, even Artax seeming to glare at the drunkard.
Prince Rinvolin: You think it wiser now to lie to your employer? Are you truly so ale-addled as that or are you normally as short of wits as decency?
As the armored prince advances on him in long strides the thug scrambles clumsily to his feet and tries to draw his shortsword. Rinvolin does not go for his spear, indeed you see he is not even armed. Instead he advances with remarkable speed and seizing the other man under his arms, hoists him roughly up to face level so that they are nearly nose to nose.
Prince Rinvolin: You are the worst sort of man, using your strength and weapons to take what you will from the weak instead of to defend them. My father and all true walkers of the shining path are ashamed of me for hiring such as you. Sekeriah’s wrath that such as you still walk the earth three thousand years after he thought he slew the last of the monsters stirs him in his mountain tomb. Do not let me see your sniveling face in my camp again if you value your life.
With that he hurls the man away, then turns to the silent onlookers.
Prince Rinvolin: My orders were clear. No looting and no harm to the people of Miffin, you are paid better than you deserve already. I do not kill men lightly but I will not hesitate to put down beasts who would do such things and who lack even the discipline to fulfill the contracts they agree to.
Turning away he stalks back to his own pavilion. “Mercenaries.” He mutters as he closes the door.

Chapter 2: Blood of Sekeriah
(Second Session)

Opening Narrations:
Guard duty, eh? A dull job, but someone has to do it. It has its advantages too, like a high chance of coming out with all your limbs attached and –this time at least- nice scenery. The church you’re to keep the prisoners in is a rather picturesque one. Located about 30 feet vertically above the middle of the pass on a smallish shelf of the mountain, it is currently nestled between a great snowdrift and a sheer rock face. The winding path up to it is steep and hard but fortunately has been cleared of most snow-and grass- by many feet. As you climb it soars up above you, a building of finely finished grey stone. Though it is built sturdily and without many windows, it has a majesty and grandeur from size alone.

Over the entrance is a large iron sign proclaiming this to be “The Church of Sekeriah the Warrior.” The massive doors are of bronze and must be monstrously heavy, but pivot on well designed and oiled hinges. As you push your way in you note they are ornately carved from detailed reliefs of the beginning of the world to fine, swirling etching at the edges.

Inside you see that Church of Sekeriah the Warrior is unusually grand for so remote an area, though of course it pales in comparison to many of the truly awe-inspiring cathedrals of the Koran Basin. It is hard to believe many people would climb the mountain from Miffin to get here, so most likely travelers and perhaps soldiers in the pass or herdsmen form the bulk of the congregation. Or perhaps it houses some locally famous relic that draws in many visitors. There are seats for nearly one hundred people in the enormous, grandly decorated main hall as well as two side chapels for smaller, presumably normal, services.

Though back in the Koran Free Cities the great cathedrals are often adorned with stained glass windows, here the walls are thick and solid. The building is not dark though, for a vast number of seemingly smokeless candles and torches burn along the walls and ceilings and illuminate the art thereon. Murals so vast and sprawling and high in the air that they are hard to decipher depict what seems to be the whole life of Sekeriah. The style is the strange, northwestern one: rather than being purely representative it is often very symbolic. Many figures have too many limbs or even several heads to show them performing many acts at once or differentiate outward appearance and inward feelings, height and build are also highly variable depending on circumstances. There is Sekeriah climbing to his feet by the dark cave to the Old Place at the same time he lifts up two others. And on that side he strangles the great dragon Menmem while he ties the first rope with his other hands. Finally he bids farewell to his adoring followers even as he grapples with his most terrible foe.

Most prominently of all though, upon a large stone platform rising from the wooden floor sits a dais also of stone that serves as a base for one of the most impressive statues of Sekeriah you have seen. It is nearly 30 feet tall and brazen, but the detail is exquisite, you can tell even from here. The great hero has fully 20 legs and more than twice as many arms. With them he stomps and trods and crushes a vast, fleeing array of vile, ancient monsters even as he slashes, bashes, and skewers them with many of the weapons he invented. His 12 heads sneer or smirk with contempt or triumph at the defeated enemies of mankind, though one smiles benevolently down upon the congregation while a spare arm profers a greeting. It is imposing to say the least.

But one of the priests is hurrying your way. A novice probably to judge from his youth and nervousness and the ill-fitting grey frock he’s been given. His blonde hair is in a short military cut and though he otherwise seems reasonably fit, his face has a faintly babyish look. about it.

Brother Rinvil: GoodmorningI’mBrotherRinvilNewesthereOhatyourserviceofcourse.

While greeting you he is fumbling to light a small censer adorned with small chimes- one of the lesser known inventions of Sekeriah, you remember- the smoke of which is thick with the smell of cinnamon. With it finally ready he sweeps it ritually over all of you, intoning a traditional blessing.

Brother Rinvil: SorryaboutthattraditionalhereYou’renotfromaroundhereright?TheclotheslookFrysolythianisallablasphemouscountrysometimesunfortunately-ohnooffensemeantofcourse!WellanywaytheysaySekeriahinventedcinnamonsothat’swhyweuseit.

An older priestess emerges from one of the doors at the far end.

Sister Siar: Rinvil, shut up! At least give them a chance to introduce themselves before you talk their ears off! I’m Sister Siar by the way, pleased to make your acquaintance.

She certainly doesn’t seem all that pleased since she immediately retreats back into the room she came from. For a moment, Brother Rinvil looks like he’s about to apologize but he thinks better of it and lets you speak instead.

The party then introduced themselves and such.

The pleasantries finished, Brother Rinvil takes you on a quick tour of the church, talking incessantly all the while.

Brother Rinvil: Sothisisthemainworshipareaofcourseweleadtheservicesfromupthere- notmeofcoursenotyet-andpeopleleavetheirofferingsbythestatueOurquartersandstudyroomsandsuchare backthere (he indicates some of the far rooms).Andthatstatueofcoursewe’reveryproudofIfyou’lll ookoverhereatarm46,nowaitthat’s44,sorry…

Most of an hour later he finally finishes extolling the skill of the various artists who helped make the church and waxing eloquent about how much of it goes back beyond recorded history and how Mother Indriv is very proud of the reliquary, though he hasn’t seen it yet and so forth. It then takes him another fifteen minutes of frenzied explanation to finish up with the two side chapels. These already have quite a few prisoners in them, bound to their seats and gagged, apparently for making too much noise.

Brother Rinvil: Soseatsthere,thatofcourseisthepulpit,andbackthereinthoseroomswestoresome ofthebiggerofferingsaswellassuppliesfortheservicesandwhatnot.NowPrinceRinvolin,orKingRinvolinisityet?Whichever.Anyway,hismanalreadytalkedtoMotherIndrivandshesaidyoucankeepanyofthemen youcaptureherewiththesentriestheyalreadybroughtin-anythingtoavoidunneededbloodshed,youknow?ActuallySekeriahhimselftriedtoavoidfightingwheneverhecouldfindanothersolution,youknow,hetaughtusthatweoughttovaluelifeaswellashonorandgloryandthat’swhatreallymakeshimthegreatestwarriorofalltime.Butyes,theMothersaidyoucankeepyourprisonershereuntiltheproperarmycancomeandgetthemandwe’llstayoutofyourwayinourrooms.Anyquestions?

At this point the Red Claws asked a number of strange and suspicious questions regarding the type of offerings stored and whether they would be allowed to see them and such. Declining to answer or admitting that he didn’t know, the brother didn’t help much with that.

He at last retreats back into the priest’s quarters, leaving you alone with the prisoners. None of them seem to be badly injured, perhaps the resident healers took care of them.

The Red Claws then spent many happy hours bothering and poking the prisoners and asking them who their leader is. They weren’t really sure what had become of him, but the most likely interpretation is that he was a militia captain and had probably died in the skirmish in which these men were captured (Probably by Apadin and some other Yeorians). Additionally, Mathus and Roslyr Giltonwyrd investigated the statue and realized that there was probably a reliquary hidden beneath the pedestal.

Most of half the day passes uneventfully. The prisoners, more Miffin’s ragtag militia than proper warriors by the looks of them, are quite docile. It is fairly cold in here, the enormous church with its stone walls is apparently hard to insulate against even early spring in the mountains. Past noon you begin to hear the faint trickles of shouts and the clashing of weapons from far away. Well the rest of the Red Claws are fighting then. They’ve got their job, you’ve got yours. CRASH! There is a huge smashing noise from inside the church! Running back to the worship hall as muffled shouts and squeals of surprise come from the hidden clergypeople you see a bizarre sight: a silvery, shining thing has broken through the floor and pedestal of the great statue and is now lurching and flowing quickly toward you, carrying several glittering objects.

Battle Information:
Characters Allowed: 7 (5 in reality since Brenton’s weren’t there that day)
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Iaeis, Ilyana, Mathus the Hadranic, Roslyr Giltonwyrd (Stole the Bejeweled Flask), and Shanba.
Victory Conditions: No prisoners escape.
Loss Conditions: Everyone dies or a prisoner escapes.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws, roughly level 3) vs. Prisoners (Miffin Militia, roughly level 1) vs. Unknown Adversary ([[:strange-creature | Strange Creature, roughly level 1).
Outcome: The Red Claws prevented the prisoners from escaping, but cannot prevent the egress of the strange creature and the theft of at least one treasure of the church by it.
Treasure Acquired: Bejeweled Flask (Stolen from the strange creature).
Treasure Missed: Enchanted Buckler (dropped by strange creature), Iron Axe (Treasure Chest), 1000 Silver North-Rings (Treasure Chest), Vulnerary (Treasure Chest), Lucky Charm (Treasure Chest).
Location: Church of Sekeriah the Warrior in a small pass in the Minalin Mountains near Miffin, only a few hundred feet from Chapter 1: The Sack of Miffin and so has the same map location. Red marker near border of Yeoria and Northern Principalities
Chapter 2 picture
Battle Summary: The strange creature smashed its way into the church from beneath the statue and rushed toward the exit carrying several objects including a wooden shield of some sort and a golden, bejeweled flask. It is described as follow: Strange, metallic, roughly humanoid creature 5 feet tall but very broad. Long arms with 3 enormous “fingers” hang down below where its knees should be. Looks like it’s made of cold liquid metal, though its eyes are red hot and glowing. Walks with a slow, awkward gait or forms into a pool and slides.
In the commotion, the prisoners tried to escape, but a few of the Red Claws simply blocked the doors out of the side chapels while the others tried to stop the fearsome creature. Though most of its true capabilities remain unknown, it seemed impervious to their attacks and extremely dangerous in close combat. Roslyr was able to steal the bejeweled flask from it, at which point it stopped lurching toward the exit and pursued him. However, he opened the strange flask and poured out its contents at which point the creature lost interest and escaped. The prisoners were then easily re-secured.

Closing Narrations:
Melting into a puddle, the creature slithers under the great, bronze doors and is gone.

Those outside had hurried toward the church after hearing the commotion, prisoners in tow. Huffing and puffing up the steep path they catch a glimpse of some strange, silvery thing seeping into the ground but then it is gone.

The Red Claws caught their breath and the prisoners and waited for everyone else. Rosylr having emptied the flask (which contained only a few drops of a mysterious liquid) onto his hand, proceeded to wipe it on everything in arm’s length and then eventually sampled a drop himself. He surged with new and unexplained vitality immediately.

At roughly the same time the Red Claws burst in, the mystery man from before among them, the temple priests rush out from their quarters, armed with tomes of light magic. Brother Rinvil is at the lead, brandishing a holy staff like a cudgel and flailing about at anything within range. In the confusion a battle very nearly breaks out before the clerics realize the new intruders are just more mercenaries. That’s when the questions begin.

Mother Indriv: What happened here? Who did this to our church?
Sister Siar: You bastards, look what you did! What gives you the right to desecrate a church like this?
Brother Rinvil: What’s going on? Who did this? Why? Where’d they go? Let me at ‘em!
Duke Grenfeld: Aaaa! Are we all going to die?! You, there! Will you let me go? I can pay you handsomely!
Various Prisoners: Mmmph, phth!
Mystery Man: It’s getting so you can’t have a tidy little war without someone going and complicating things. What’s the world coming to?

When things don’t calm down the old man shrugs and clears his throat and then bellows at the top of his aging lungs.
Mystery Man: SILENCE! EVERYBODY STOP TALKING AND START LISTENING! For the next 30 seconds I’m in command here and orders are as follows. You and you, move the prisoners into the side chapels. Sister Siar and that priestess over there are to check outside for anything abnormal. [[:sir-ellidan-whitestar-of-yeor | Sir Ellidan]], shut the door, no one else goes in or out. Vendrik, gag the duke so he stops blubbering. Everyone else sit down! You, archer, and you, Brother Rinvil, explain what happened. Rinvil first!

Not even waiting for everyone to sit, Rinvil launches headlong into his version of the story.
Brother Rinvil: Someoneattackedthechurch,don’tknowwho! Iletthesemercenariesinlikeyou saidandshowedthemaroundbut-

Mystery Man: So you know nothing of value?

Brother Rinvil: Well… no.

Mystery Man: Dismissed, go back to whatever it is you do. Archer, explain what happened.

Ilyana then gives a very short summary of how a monster broke loose into the church, fought by them, and escaped. The mystery man advises that they continue with their plans as previously established and wait for Captain Apadin since none of them know what’s going on.

With things finally cleared up, or rather not, all that’s left is to wait for Apadin to come collect the prisoners.

The Red Claws pass the time by repeatedly asking to see the reliquary and what a monster was doing in it, to the annoyance of Sister Siar in particular who explains in no uncertain terms that the contents of the reliquary are not for passing mercenaries and that no there had NOT been a monster in the vault until just then so far as any of them knew.

When a messenger does come at last though, he bursts in through the door, bloodied and flustered.
Messenger: The northern armies have returned too quickly! Prince Rinvolin is outnumbered! All available reinforcements are requested immediately, please make haste to his lordship’s side-
He is interrupted by a tremendous, grinding SCREEEEEEEEEEEECH punctuated by several tremendous cracks as the damaged pedestal of the statue breaks further and the enormous likeness of Sekeriah tilts and lists to its left further and further. CRUNCH! It smacks against the stone wall and stops. An omen, but of what?

Chapter 1: The Sack of Miffin
(First Session)

Game Introduction:
The Age of Legend
p. In the world of Fomorti it is early spring of the year 3214 of the Second Age, a time of war on the continent of Feryngia. As always there is strife in the Koran Basin, powderkeg of the continent. For the first time in many years though the endemic fighting in the northwestern nations threatens to spray sparks outside that backward region. The petty princes of the north have involved themselves in the succession of Yeoria, trying to supplant the young Prince Rinvolin and replace him with the Yeorian Duke Grenfeld. Hoping to avoid a protracted or wider war potentially involving their powerful southeastern neighbor, Peruvia, and acting on the advice of spies who reported the Duke was in the border city of Miffin, Yeoria’s army led by Prince Rinvolin launched a quick attack on the city in hopes of ending the fight before it could really get underway. Once again the common folk suffer and die in the foolish games of the nobility and kings.
p. But however great the rulers of Feryngia today may style themselves, they know that they are men of straw compared to those who once walked the Fomorti of a bygone time. In this Age of Legend the First Generations crawled out of the Old Place into the blinding light of a wild, inhospitable world and tamed it. They raised mountains, dug rivers, slew monsters, created the gods from their thoughts, and invented the human way of life.
p. Even among such towering heroes, a few stood out prouder and stronger than all the rest. Gentle Henrekta, the first wizard; the giantess Hreijibor who it is said was as tall as a great tree and half as broad; Metaxas the far-traveling, who swam the oceans and circumnavigated the world on foot; and dozens of others. But above them all was Sekeriah, Greatest of Fifty. Sekerish, firstborn of all mankind. Sekeriah, warrior. Sekeriah, scholar. Sekeriah, inventor. Sekeriah, trickster. Sekeriah, philosopher. Sekeriah, king. Sekeriah, magician. Sekeriah, craftsman. Sekeriah, immortal. Sekeriah, wielder of Fire Emblem. Sekeriah who faced all the perils of the world and defeated them by force or guile. All save one.
p. In the waning days of the Age of Legend, when much of the strength had already gone out of the First Generations, Sekeriah challenged the god of metal, Talsifer, so the humans of the future might make tools and weapons and beautiful things of worked metal. The few of his followers who escaped (Grylock, Tollidarius, and Ashkantir among them) report that Sekeriah did not have the Fire Emblem with him because he wanted a challenging duel. He got one. According to their account, the battle on the slopes of the Taraka range lasted nearly a day. In the end the hero and the raging god crushed one another to death beneath hurled mountains.
The survivors departed in mourning, but brought the good news to all mankind that now metal as well would serve the needs of humans forevermore and founded a great church to commemorate the fallen hero and his legacy.
p. These and others of the Second Generation were not nearly as great as the first, but still the least of them surpassed the greatest human of modern times. In the wake of their mighty precursors they built the first towns and cities and developed society and culture, laying a steady foundation for posterity.
p. The Third Generation was at best half so learned and mighty as the Second, but they spread their farms and countries from coast to coast to coast, slaying or taming the last little monsters not already crushed beneath the heels of their precursors. It was the Third Generation that began to keep history books, recording the tales of the last few elder heroes not yet overcome by age or war amongst themselves many centuries after they occurred.
p. With the passing of the Third Generation, the First Age of the world was over and such men would never come again as had once walked lonely shores and mountains and sailed primordial seas, going where no man ever had before and doing things never yet thought of by any but themselves. The puny, squabbling infants of the Fourth Generation inherited the world they had forged in blood and toil. Centuries passed, memories faded, parchments crumbled or were misplaced, and many things that had once been known were lost; their legacy endures eternally, however, in the very continued existence of the civilizations their deeds made possible. Their towering, sheltering shadow still spreads across all the earth.

Opening Narrations:
p. In the winter of 3213 of the Second Age, just before the new year’s festival, old King Treferdin of Yeoria died in his sleep. His only surviving heir, Prince Rinvolin, prepared to succeed him; all that was needed was the rubber stamp approval of Yeoria’s council of peers, the Akt.
p. But this was not forthcoming. A small cabal of northern nobles had long plotted in secret to break away from the kingdom and form their own petty states; they had forged a secret alliance with the Northern Principalities to this effect. They tied up the Akt’s deliberations with quorum delays and endless debating and rumors that their leader, Duke Grenfeld, had some royal blood and would be a better ruler than the inexperienced Prince Rinvolin. When the northern princes declared their support for these rebel peers scarcely a fortnight ago, their treason became clear to all and they were forced out of the Akt.
p. The shrunken council will meet again soon and are expected to officially make the Prince the next king when they do. In the meantime, Prince Rinvolin –though not yet officially in command of Yeoria’s armies- has gathered the loyal to defeat the rebels and their foreign allies. With Duke Gardnelle officially leading the army on his behalf, the prince has gathered to him all mercenaries who could be hired on short notice as well as his personal guard, the Ospreys. A quick war is prayed for; if the fighting is protracted, the powerful eastern kingdom of Peruvia may take the opportunity to invade.
p. In accordance with this goal and with recent intelligence to the effect that Duke Grenfeld is in the southernmost of the Northern Principalities, the border city of Miffin, Prince Rinvolin boldly led his personal forces and a few army columns straight through the enemy lines in a surprise attack on the city. If the Duke is captured it will end the war. If not or if the main army is slower than expected in breaking through to his aid, it will go very ill indeed.
p. The Red Claws have been hired as mercenary auxiliaries to Prince Rinvolin’s forces. To most of your surprise, your group has been stationed in a narrow pass through the Minalin mountains and are about to receive your orders while the true battle rages below.

The captain is a bald, red-faced man in simple armor flanked by two columns of Yeorian soldiers and accompanied by a few others.
Content Not Found: captain-apadin: Alright you mercenary dogs, let’s see if you’re worth your pay! Prince Rinvolin has all the other ways out of Miffin guarded, but the traitors don’t think we know about this passage through the mountains! So we’re stationing you lot here to capture any of them who tries to get through. That’s CAPTURE, you hear? If you kill any of them who isn’t a soldier, we’ll halve your pay. Let one of them through and you won’t get anything. We’re expecting mostly fat old merchants and barons, but they’ll probably have at least a few guards with them. Even you should be able to handle that, but Sir Ellidan Whitestar of Yeor will be posted here as well. Send the prisoners to that Church of Sekeriah up on the north slope of the pass and keep them there under heavy guard till I come back and get them. And no looting them neither! The Prince wants their dignity intact so they’ll be friendlier when he offers them peace. Move out, men!
He and his men march down the steep switchbacks toward the embattled city. When they’ve gone, one old man in a simple, brown, hooded robe remains. He may or may not have been with the captain.
Mystery Man: Sorry about the Captain’s manners, he doesn’t trust mercenaries. I’m sure you’ll do fine though. Who am I? Oh, nobody important right now. Don’t mind me; I’ll just stay here in the back and watch

At this point many of the characters were introduced to one another and they spent some time getting to know one another and also regarding the mystery man with suspicion.

Half the day seems to pass uneventfully, then the first of several Miffin soldiers creep furtively up into the pass. When they see there are so few of you they draw their swords.
Miffin Soldier: Up and at ‘em, boys! We’ll break through this lot and them be home free!

Battle Information:
Characters Allowed: 8
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Mage, Kiga, Sir Ellidan Whitestar of Yeor, Mercenary, Rukh Astroa of Peruvia, Koldrin Lystar of Koran FC, Content Not Found: tsaba_, and Archer.
Victory Conditions: Capture or kill all enemies
Loss Conditions: The entire party is slain, an enemy reaches the south side of the pass, or Duke Grenfeld is killed
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Ospreys and Red Claws, roughly level 3) vs. Merchant and Grenfeld Guards (Soldiers of Miffin, assorted mercenaries, _Content Not Found: Retin
, Duke Grenfeld, roughly level 1)
Outcome: Duke Grenfeld and several wealthy residents of Miffin and allies of his captured, dealing a tremendous blow to the rebel forces in the Yeorian Succession Crisis of 2A 3214. Mystery Man impressed by the performance of the Red Claw mercenaries.
Treasure Acquired: Steel Greatsword (Dropped by Retin), Vulnerary (Dropped by Grenfeld)
Location: A small, relatively unknown pass or defile in the Minalin Mountains near Miffin. Red Marker near border of Yeoria and Northern Principalities
Battle Summary: Mounted forces started near the bottom left (roughly southwest) and rushed up to block the path between the north-central hills and the western ridge while infantry starting on the path to the church themselves rushed north to block the path further east. With the enemy slowed by needing to scale hills before spreading out, Prince Rinvolin’s forces were easily able to secure both these objectives. There were few hard and fast battle lines, instead the Red Claws skirmished with the individual, disorganized enemies wherever they moved. Steadily, they pushed forward to the very northern edge of the field. This advance was turned back by the arrival of the dangerous, but dim-witted myrmidon Retin on turn 8 however. The party backpedaled rapidly to set a trap for him which he fell for like a load of bricks. Shortly thereafter Duke Grenfeld was found among the captured merchants and other wealthy cowards. Sir Ellidan Whitestar of Yeoria distinguished himself in the fighting.

Closing Narrations:

The captured man’s ring reveals he is none other than Duke Grenfeld! Other than that he looks just like any other of the doughy merchants who fell into your trap, and is similarly undignified in defeat.
Duke Grenfeld: Spare me, spare me! I surrender already! I’m Duke Grenfeld, you can name your reward if you’ll spare my lfe!

The robed stranger from before who watched the battle approaches.
Mystery Man: Splendid, splendid! A great success. And hello there, Duke Grenfeld! Fancy seeing you this far from the nearest banquet. Well come on, let’s get these prisoners into the Church and pray the real battle goes as well as this one.

As the Red Claws and Sir Ellidan set about bringing the remaining prisoners toward the church, a great commotion was suddenly heard inside it.


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