Prepare again to be intrigued by the daring exploits if the Pius Cabal. This chapter started quite peacefully where the previous ended; the Company had accomplished their mission in Victoria and had reached the liberated city of Muhwal. Here they had been installed, together with their Proxima and retainers in a house inside of the walls.
Van Zaar, heavily taxed by his dealings with the magic of time, not to mention his enthusiastc pursuits of the wisdom found in bottles and pipes, declared himself (in absentia, as the player is on his honeymoon on the other side of the world) indisposed and refused to leave his room in a nearby brothel.
Banzel spent most of the following morning crafting a pair of rather vicious looking blades for M'narcel, who in turn tried to rouse van Zaar from his state of quietus and narcotic insight without luck. The Prince, somewhat unimpressed with the state of things, sent scouts out to see what the strategic situation looked like.
Captain Galan received an invite to meet with the Marshall at his earliest convenince, and had a most enlightening meeting. Galan was told that while the Marshall didn't see the voyage of the plagueship Naglfār as his business, he would be free to pursue this at his own leasure - providing he helped the Marshall with a small problem first.
The problem in question was a half-way fort north of Muhwal, on the road to Victoria. It was held by a garrison of some five hundred men of the Blood Legion, and the seventeen hundred Pendrellians of the 1st Glencaellyn Rifles had been tasked with taking the fort. The Captain agreed.
Later that afternoon, the Company met with the commander of the rifles, a Sir Duncan Elm, and they decided that the Company would make for the fort on their own, take the Southern gate of the fort, and let the Glencaellyn men in.
Later that evening, Octavian paid the Company a visit, and a few things were discussed.
Come morning, the expedition left Muhwal. On the Captain's orders, lt. Lance dressed van Zaar and had him put on a horse. Together with the marines, he would follow the 1st Glencaellyn. Fortune (or perhaps the devious nature of an NPC) would have the Wezellian adventurer ride together with the regimental preacher, an old sulfuric Macharian war-hound.
The day went quietly for the Company, and they made good speed, opting for the long way around. Come nightfall, things changed somewhat. About two hours before midnight they came accross one of the Enæïd scouts, killed with a knife or dagger. Shortly after, Galan was suddenly struck to the ground. A few seconds later, a sound like that of a mighty crack of a whip ripped through the night. The Captain was gravely injured.
The Prince took an Enæïd with him out into the night to find the killer, while the rest tried to pinpoint their invisible assailant.
About seven or eight hundred meters from where the Captain had been injured there was a low ridge running from north to south. When the Prince and his man was approaching it, his man seemed to stumble, but shortly after, the horrible whip cracked again.
This time, Banzel spotted a small flash of light on the ridge, and the Captain managed to briefly pinpoint the location of the enemy before he disappeared again.
M'narcel refused to let the foe get away, and promptly summoned a spirit of the wind to his aid. He jumped on the Windmare and set out into the night, sending lesser windlings to scour the ridge. He quickly found the elusive enemy and charged. Unfortunately, the enemy was aware of the attack, and with his blade quickly killed the Windmare under M'narcel, sending him sprawling on the ground. Luckily for the Worlock, the Prince was now close enough to come to his aid before the book was closed on him, although not before he too was injured.
The Prince set fire to the dry grass on the slope, hoping to provide enough light for his archers. This have the enemy time to escape into the shadows.
By now, it had become clear to the Company that the enemy was not only extremely dangerous, but also capable of slipping in and out of the Shaderealm. With several severely injured, the Company dug in on the ridge to reassess the situation and tend to their wounded. Thanks to the Blood of the Unicorn*, only one man lost his life.
Moving out an hour later, all painfully aware of the danger they were in, M'narcel led the Prince and five of his Enæïd through the Shaderealm while the main party stayed on Argos prime.
Some time later, coming up on some cliff-formations that had ambush written all over them, the main party went through the gorge, while M'narcel and the Prince took the high ground.
In the gorge, Banzel dicovered some sort of trap; a thin, wowen metal wire, stretching across the path, leading to a small metal box, the word 'death' stamped into the side facing towards the group. Tricky to disarm, the Bombman still managed to disassemble it.
Now M'narcel spotted the enemy, on the far side of the gorge. The Prince jumped across to make sure he didn't slip away again, while the five Enæïd archers let their arrows fly. This time there was no handy escape for the enemy, and he was quickly dispatched.
Before the Prince could make his way out of the Shaderealm, he was attacked by a prowling Forgedemon and near killed before it was driven away.
The chapter ended without completion of the mission, but barring one Enæïd, none lost their life this night. They also managed to secure all the possetions of the attacker, armor, rifle, dagger, pack and mask.
*O'Connor/M'narcel was given a bottle of blood from, what was presumably the last, Unicorn on the eve before the Last Battle of the Enæïdan. The blood proved to have great potency, although it is all used now.
Storyteller's note: This chapter was perhaps a little hard on the lads, but thus it sometimes has to be. There is a great war being fought on Argos, and much evil has been let loose on this world. Undoing it is a tough job, and sometimes it's harder than other times.
I must also say that now when all the mage-players are starting to understand how magic works, they are that much more powerful. Also, the group are amongst the most informed on Argos, and their names, be it group or individuals, are known by several of the big players.
So we come to the tricky bit. As we use a system without levels, the characters aren't much harder to kill now than when they started. Their enemies have multiplied, and they've gained a few really powerful ones as well.
I'm looking forward to picking this up again on the other side of my vacation.