The seventh chapter of The Black Spear
The following takes place on 7 Novium, YE 1022
Cast: Aegir of the Enidùn, Mandan Bansl, Gryff Galan, Velimir Tito, Yolander van Zaar, and Toadface. Also, as NPCs, in order of appearance: Theurge Galeantis of the Draccian army on Cora, Mahdi Abu Aden of the Enlightened Viziers, The Purple Robed Man, Master Octavian Arbalestus of Battlefleet Hermetica.
Having left King Radan the Great of Draccia, the heroes find their plans thwarted by the Court of Star's untimely attack on Cora, and the Pius Fleet escapes before the Kraken drags it into the Deep; a meeting turns sour, van Zaar seeks the wisdom of the Prophet -- and meets a man in a tower -- before they again turn to Octavian for his advice.
On their way down the slopes of Mt. Revelation with Grand Master Martellus, riders reach them, and the knight is informed that the enemy is finally coming. Galan scryes ahead, and out of the dark storm surrounding Cora, a vast fleet of dark ships is approaching the beleaguered fortress-island. Van Zaar then temporarily abandoned his composure.
It was his convicted and outspoken opinion that Cora had to fall, and that defending the blasted rock was a fool's errand. The men on the island, close to 35,000 all told, should, if anyone had the slightest grip of their faculties, be used to wipe the blasphemous Thulist fortress off the face of the moon. Any other use of manpower was, according to the Wezellian wizard, utter ludicrousness. Perhaps (forgive me for speculating here) even outright treachery.
At the very least, the Draccian force should march on the moon!
After talking to the High Theurge, Galeantis, van Zaar realized that the defenders of Cora would not be moved, and the cabal prepared to leave the island before the trap snapped shut. The ships lay ready in the Broken Bay, and the cabal boarded the good ship Pius. Captain Galan now readied the fleet for departure, and -- with a growing sense of disaster -- initiated the teleportation procedure. As the Vis was fed into the Bansl Apparatus, the lookout called out. In the waters outside the bay, a massive beast broke the surface. Yelling for the rest of the cabal to lend their weight to the ritual, the captain managed to transport out before the Kraken's tentacles thrashed everything left in the bay to kindling.
The fleet's destination was the Hannuman port of Petra, and every last ship made it there unscathed. Eleven Men-O-War appearing out of the blue caused some commotion in the busy port, but this was soon settled. The cabal appeared to be a little disparaged, but requested a meeting with the Council of Awakened Viziers. They were told that the local mahdi would receive them at their leisure, and soon found themselves before His Awakened Eminence in his audience-chamber.
Van Zaar can sometimes be a little too direct for the tastes of those who are not familiar with his ways. This was to be just such an example. After first informing the mahdi that the Siege of Cora had begun, thereafter that King Radan the Great had given the Pius Cabal 3,000 men -- the mufti would not be out-done, and promised an equal number of his own men -- words fell between them. Without entering into details about who said what, let us move to where the cabal is told that the audience is over, and that their presence is no longer needed.
Several harsh words were uttered as the heroes found themselves a tea-house, firmly intent on waiting until the narrow-minded Hannumen came to their senses and provided an army with which the moon could be taken. In the Seven White Camels tea-house, Bansl threatened to shoot people, and van Zaar, well known to be a powerful Fate-weaver, promised dismal futures to anyone who cast a crooked glance at them. The patrons quickly left, but since the good half-dozen grim-faced and quarrelsome warriors of the Apocalypse demanded a party, the room was promptly stocked with rent-a-courtiers and minstrels.
As the sun reached its zenith, van Zaar decided that he would cut through the bureaucracy and go straight to the top. Entering a temple, disarming the mulla's protests with a murderous stare, and a hand on the sword-hilt, he scaled the stairs to the minaret. His intention was to, and here I quote*, "demand the enlightenment of Aziz." Aziz, may His thousand-times-blessed Soul find Its way back to us, is the prophet-god of the Hannumen. He gave his life so that Morfeus, Prince of Nightmares, could slay the Fallen Daeva, and thereafter rebuild the White Tower.
The sun made its slow journey across the heavens, and except from a tardy inscription on the wall of the minaret reading, "Service, Love, Hope," no apparition appeared. As the day neared night, with the sun low on the horizon, a purple-robed man came and spoke to the stalwart pilgrim. As so often before, the wise man did not give out mighty armies, or even powerful Artifacts. Instead he, as so many before him, only said that the Pius Cabal was indeed the Greatest Heroes of this Age, and that their path was only theirs to make. Other words of endless wisdom were also said, and it is my assumption that as night fell, van Zaar descended feeling more at peace with the world.
Back in the Seven White Camels, the rest of the cabal were still a little moody, and as they still had no firm plan for what to do next, they did what they often do when they feel the need for a friendly face. They convened for a telepathic conversation with 'Tavi.
Octavian promised that if they needed his help, he would bring his own cabal to support their assault on the lunar fortress Nattland. On questions about the Red Death, another area of interest for the heroes, he could give them the name of what seemed to be the heart of the plague, a city called Zalburg. He also said that reports now appeared to show some considerable OUT involvement in the Redlands, as Reavers had been seen flying in and out of the area on several occasions.
Toadface, it should be mentioned, asked Octavian if he couldn't be knighted, and made an honorary Wyvern-rider. This was of course arranged, Toadface is after all the only one to ride a dragon for at least an Age.
Thus we leave the Pius Cabla for this time, their fleet still in Petra harbour.
*I am aware that I will probably catch some flak over this quote, but I have a tendency to latch on to just such spur-of-the-moment utterances. I see these moments as "true" roleplaying, as it is so seldom that characters act without some deliberation from their players's side. Either way, they generate conflict, and as Tolkien said, conflicts kick ass!
Storyteller's note: First, why did I name this chapter Monkey-wrench!? Because that is how I felt as the session started. The exclamation mark is, as I have learned from Porky, to make it more pulp. And this chapter was a little pulp.
The initial outburst of van Zaar was most enjoyable, as the Master of Fate cursed the fates up and down for some time. He even accused Captain Galan of bad leadership and shitty semanship for steering the fleet to Cora. On the siege, there is a prophesy -- that no one wants to acknowledge -- that says, "when Cora falls the second time, the Endtimes will be upon us." For some time now, it has been the goal of the cabal to make sure the island will not easily fall. It remains to be seen how this plays out. Anyway, it is on.
While little quantifiable came out of this evening's session, some good meta-plans were laid, some right amusing roleplaying were exhibited, and the bloody siege was finally started.
There are elements I have omitted for reasons of brevity, but as usual, if you were there, and if you feel I have left important things out, or misrepresented the events, you know what to do. Also, if any of you fine and esteemed ladies and gentlemen who wasn't there should want to leave a comment, please do so.
[Picture source: Golden Age Comic Book Stories]