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It had been a week of rain and Rowan Tait travelled north west out of Newcroft, heading for the Vortigen lands and the settlements of Amblebury and Boxley-on-Tye on orders from Ranger Ned of the Newcroft Scout’s Guild. There was to be a gathering – a tourney to name the Vortigen Champion, with a meeting of the Council of Swords, to follow, and folk were travelling from far and wide to attend. Rowan was under instructions to scout the surrounding area after a previous group of scouts had found something strange – that the place described to be the meeting place did not appear to exist in Berwickshire …

– Note – this event was HUGE with all sorts of stuff happening in and around the “main” plot of the night. This entry is written wholly from Rowan’s perspective, therefore is not the complete picture of the mission –

If you know you attended this event but are misnamed or unnamed, please contact me on wolfish dot written dot author at g mail dot com or comment below.

The adventurers who attended the tourney and council of swords were as follows:

  • Captain-General Catherine Brack-on-Hill, High Guildsman Christo Eadronhart and High Guildsman Ronan Eadronhart of the Mercenaries
  • Hunter Rowan Tait of Amblevale, Hunter Brendan DePiercy and Tracker Arden of the Scouts
  • Surgeon-General Georgina Herald the Physician
  • Guildsman Callie Kairos Van Belle the Alchemist
  • Sir Stewart DePiercy, House Knight of the Knightly Griffin Order; Knight Errants Brother Purity, Brother Vigilance, Brother Clarity, Brother Sanctity and Brother Temperance of the Knightly Grey Order;
  • School Mistress Enchantress Nysa Shea, High Guildsman Demonologist Tobius DePiercy, High Guildsman Thaumatagist Johnny Test, Junior Guildsman Ash Witherspoon, Junior Guildsman Drake Darkwater, Junior Guildsman Lucien Godfrey, Apprentice Sorley Brewerson and Elias (with familiar “Blue”) of the Mages Guild
  • Huntsmaster Jeremiah Fitzalvin and Junior Forester Lucy Ashworth of the Foresters; Constable Junior Jack Regan of the Guards
  • High Father William Klider of Sidhe and Chaplin of the Grey Order; Defender of the Faith Father Finwe of Longstor; Brother Enacus and Supplicant Sorcha Greysong of Kharach; Brother Benedict DePiercy and supplicating devotee Apprentice Madeleine Blanchefleur of Crowa; Brother Lucius Aquarius Rhade of Vleybor

The adventurers were met by Baronet Quinn Dexter, father of Baron Michael Vortigen and organiser of the tourney to name the Vortigen Champion, who welcomed them and warned that where they were going was not what it appeared. Without scouts the path would come to a large oak tree that looked and felt real, but supposedly was not there when scouts took to the path, following their instinct for paths and the tracks left by creatures and bare feet, or if folk were no supposed to be there. This set the premise for the evening – don’t leave the “magic site” unless you have a scout in tow. This meant that Rowan and Brendan were in high demand for those forays out of camp and into the surrounding land. He also filled in some of the visiting adventurers on the history of the Swords of Berwickshire and gave a warning of an Axirian presence – something Rowan had suspected after a long discussion with Ranger Ned in preparation for this “mission”, filling in Brendan quickly with the bare bones after he informed her quietly he was here as a nobleman, not a scout. Oh well, she would just have to instruct the new apprentice scout sent north by the boss …

 

Rowan and Brendan took point after the Huntsmaster and other law officials checked weapons permits and identities and crossed the river into a wooded area that opened out into a rolling green field with trees and bushes and a tent. Confused, they returned to the party to report that they had found no tree, but that the way seemed clear enough. Sending one of the Foresters back down the party, the group of adventurers set out on the heels of the two Newcroft Scouts. Reaching what appeared to be a normal bridge, Baronet Dexter declared loudly that the old bridge was down and that the path simply wasn’t there – except that it was. This gave the scouts an indication of where the “tree” was and kept moving. Travelling down through the woodland they crossed another bridge and saw a white tent, a number of people and a body lying on the ground. The Huntsmaster and Doctor Herald approached the body and the scouts fanned out to circle the camp and look for anything else that seemed out of place – the body appears to have been of an Axirian Senator, according to what someone told Rowan later in the evening.

As others met and gathered together, Rowan and Arden took a turn around the perimeter and found nothing else of concern, as well as properly introducing themselves. They saw things such as the Dragonkin seer, a couple of knights in tabards and the arrival of the Errant knights of the Grey Order and the Eadronhart brothers. Once most folk had gathered, the baronet and his servant welcomed them to the tourney, laid down the rules and introduced the challenges – grand melee for the common man, tug of war, foot races and the duels for the nobility (and the winner of the grand melee). As Brother Benedict of Crowa began to consecrate the grounds on behalf of Crowa’s holy day, the group were attacked by a number of wraiths that faded in and out of eyesight and made people nervous. For a time it followed Benedict until Madeline, a supplicant devotee of Crowa and servant of the DePiercy family, began to tail the priest with her swords unsheathed. Once this was done, the event could begin and people settled down for an evening of frivolity and excitement.

 Rowan leant Arden her mace for him to take part in the grand melee and offered to help the physicians with pulling the wounded out of the circle, binding up several of the wounded and cheering on those still fighting. Brother Enacus of Kharach was the victor but Arden came close second and was rewarded with an alchemical potion for his accuracy and bravery fighting men in armour whilst unarmoured himself. Rowan was extremely proud of “her” scout and praised him for his skill before volunteering to team with the Eadronhart brothers for the tug of war. This was won by a team consisting of High Father William Klider of Sidhe, Brother Enacus and Junior Guildsman Drake Darkwater who bested the Eadronhart/Tait team and the victorious team of the Grey Knights. Then followed the footrace, which a priest of Tralda tried to win using magic, but a Lirronese mage (Sorely Brewerson) was awarded the victory.

The perimeter was attacked throughout, by Alshanti and strange creatures that crooned softly until they attacked, fading to mud to appear in the midst of a party much to their surprise, leading to Baronet Dexter call out to the wild that the tourney must progress for the business of the night to be completed, for the meeting summoned by the Alshanti to occur. Things seemed to settle down after this and the duels were able to commence with little interruption. The winner of the Grand melee took part along with nobles and knights and the Champion of the Vortigen family was found – Brother Benedict DePiercy of Crowa. As soon as he was announced, Rowan found Madeline and Arden, two people who had been circling the perimeter throughout the gathering dusk and expressed her concern – that with the Champion named, things would begin to attack in earnest. So saying, the trio split up to take different paths around the edge to cross with each other and report as they went. Off Rowan and Madeline went, with Arden lingering to catch up with them.

 

Rowan challenged a woman who appeared out of the bushes, appearing to be elven with a sword on her waist. Speaking with her, Rowan began to suspect she was actually Alshanti and her suspicions confirmed when she directly asked if she was known as “Mother”. They spoke for a time on the council, the swords and the Alshanti who were attacking the camp before Rowan went back on her patrol.

During the evening, Rowan assisted Sorely Brewerson with a riddle he won from the foot race by escorting him to the bridge and unsuccessfully helping him hunt for some clue. She also noted a strange tree bedecked in green lights and after speaking with the Alchemist Callie and hearing of a strange and terrible vision she had seen, she approached the tree with a question – was it the Duke of Ages? Supposedly a fae lord in the visage of a tree, Callie was sure it had told her it was the Duke of Ages and Rowan greeted the tree as if it were a person, bringing a message from Ranger Ned which she left in its branches. She also helped Callie evade a love struck mage, passed on a message from Sir Stewart DePiercy after his brother was arrested for not having his mages permit to hand and generally kept an eye on the proceedings and her training scout.

However, after a number of increasingly aggressive attacks, a perimeter was established by the Captain-General for a permanent watch to be kept. Assigned numbers, those on watch could alert of incoming creatures and those remaining could rush to that point to bolster the defence. This continued on for many waves – with things such as a banshee causing havoc and the marshkin dodging the defenders to erupt out of the ground amidst mages and priests, causing a little bit of hysteria in the camp. Alshanti in elfin and wolf form attacked, declaring that “Mother is wrong”. At some point Tobius DePiercy began summoning something outside the perimeter and the mages clustered about him and the perimeter gradually collapsed as the attacks lessened. Whilst on watch, enchanted blades were called for, and the Mother came and asked if Rowan required an enchanted weapon. Rowan warned that it might be used upon her children and for that she was sorry, but the Mother still blessed the weapon. Luckily, Rowan did not need to draw it on the Alshanti – instead she took it with her when she left the camp for a mission of great importance.

 

The Surgeon General Doctor Herald approached Rowan as she was on watch, asking for a scout to assist in a matter of great importance – the retrieval of her cloak. Whilst the watch had been occurring, an elderkin had approached the camp looking for the good Doctor with a message – the time was now and she would face her test for her guild item. She asked Rowan to choose two others to assist in this mission, warning that there could be terrible consequences for them, and Rowan approached the Eadronhart brothers. Mission of certain death? Of course they were keen! When kitted up and ready to leave, Rowan approached the Captain-General to tell her what they were going to do, reminding her that she carried a whistle. With the General’s words of well wishing, Rowan and party left the camp, crossed the bridge and prepared to be challenged.

 

Crossing back onto the “track” by the “tree” the quartet were confronted by a Kryganite Father who proceeded to taunt the mercenaries and scout as he cut through their armour and brought them to their knees. They managed to chase him off and bandage their wounds, but they missed him in the shadows of the trees and he appeared form behind, cutting down one of the brothers and wounding Rowan. As the elder Eadronhart charged him, Rowan clung to her bleeding leg and watched helplessly as Christo was cut down. The red hot anger grew within her and cursing the Kryganite, she struggled to her feet and charged him, drawing her enchanted axe and cutting him down before collapsing on her back in pain from running on the wounded limb. Limping, all bandaged, the quartet come to a set of steps where a man is cowering in pain. Rowan, expecting another trick, demands to hear the name of his god or to see a holy symbol, causing the man to cringe away from them in fright. Eventually, after calming him down and tending to his wounds, it came out that he was a local villager who had been jumped by a group of kryganites and his twin brother Alvin was taken away. This was the test – to get this man’s brother back. They reached the top of the steps and cautiously examined the area as a Kryganite stepped from the shadows. Up on the ridge a figure settled himself down to watch, his spear across his knees. Rowan did not call him out, but she saw him and kept a careful eye on them both.

The Kryganite talked about proving himself for the master, implying he would get something if he killed the three protectors of the physician or delayed them significantly. Rowan encouraged the mercenaries to move up, keeping themselves between the physician and the kryganite. As they bypassed the waylayer, the watcher moved and as he made his way through the undergrowth, Rowan ran around, calling out for him to come no closer. It was Randall Porter, the illegal physician with strange thoughts on medicine and treatment, the Kryganite troublemaker who’d made off with the cloak. He settled himself, congratulating Doctor Herald on the quality of her protectors – commenting on the keenness of Rowan’s eyes. I believe her response was “You can take them from my cold, dead body” which made him laugh. He spoke with Doctor Herald, seemingly innocently after telling his lackey to get lost, but all the while Rowan was aware that there would be a test and they had another man to find. As the Kryganite Physician went on and on about the cure for the pox, she interrupted to point out that he was just delaying them, that the party had something to complete. It was then that Randall Porter got to the point, telling the Doctor coldly that in a few seconds the Femoral artery (in the thigh) of the patient would be cut and he would begin to bleed out. Doctor Herald had to save the patient and get him back to the camp alive to win her cloak. He hadn’t finished speaking before Rowan began to run up the path calling for the mercs to follow, and over her cry Randall Porter ordered that the games were to begin. Rowan saw a figure bent over a body and ordered him back, placing herself between the patient and the figure ready to fight – except she had forgotten about the illegal physician, who came behind the party with venom on his spear. Ronan went down and Christo chased off the Kryganite as Doctor Herald began to tend to her patient. Rowan started patching up Ronan, tipping a purge down his throat and bandaging the wounded limb, rousing him slowly to hold him down when he woke. Sending him after his brother, Rowan turned to the physician to find her retching over the body. When she could speak, she told Rowan to touch her and recognising the symptoms, Rowan drew her cure disease from her belt pouch to drop it at the Physician’s feet as the figure in the tunnel feared her. She ran past Ronan and Christo, off into the night to finally shake the dread in her heart, turn on her heels and run back the way she had come. Planting herself once again between the figure and the doctor, she warned it off as Brendan DePiercy came sneaking up behind her. The figure in the tunnel laughed and questioned Brendan as to why he had come, perhaps to break the agreement? But Rowan turned him back after listening to his reasons – having been sent by the worried Captain-General. She ordered him NOT to bring reinforcements within whistle call, to NOT come back and to use his better judgement because they were being killed where they stood. She hoped he would not do something stupid but as she sent him on his way, Christo and Ronan rejoined her and chased the figure off through the tunnel and beyond. But Rowan didn’t let them get too far as was concerned about getting too strung out with a wounded man and a Doctor who would now be preoccupied. When the villager was up and able to walk, Rowan ordered them to move out quickly, keeping eyes on all sides as it was not over yet.

 

And she was right. They were attacked and downed and picked up again and dropped, Rowan watching as Ronan and Christo went down and the pair of Kryganites came towards her. She held out her weapons and offered a challenge, a challenge of strength since the physician obviously liked her eyes – why not see what she was truly made of. Of course, he wouldn’t be able to take part as surely it would be an unfair advantage against her to have two strong men fighting her. Her instinct proved right as the physician stepped back and declared he would watch. And so Rowan came to fight hand to hand with a heretic, blocking and fending him off with her axe to swing her mace at him. She caught his arm a couple of times but he must have been armoured as he shook it off and kept moving around her until she was no longer able to defend herself and was wounded in the leg and arm – but still she fended him off. The doctor ran past them to get the two mercs up and Rowan clung to her leg, a rising sense of panic. In a last ditch attempt, she reached for her whistle and blew two long blasts – the signal for “Help!” She managed to get off a couple more whistle blasts until the Kryganite physician came behind her and wounded her unarmoured leg with his venomed spear and she dropped to the floor.

But luck was with her, for when she was roused she found that Brendan had returned with the five Errant Grey Knights who were pushing the Kryganites back to let the Doctor do her work, though it was touch and go as the venomed spear got more people and the party – now ten strong – slowly worked their way down the path. When Doctor Herald managed to get her patient up again, Rowan ordered her to leave them and get back to the camp, to finish the mission – but Doctor Herald refused to leave and Rowan, unable to contain her rage, charged the Kryganites at the top of the stair, splitting them up and sending Randall Porter running with two knights, a merc and a furious Rowan on his tail. But as they strung out the party, Rowan ordered a “tactical withdrawal” to keep the party together as Randall disappeared into the trees and they hurried down the steps at a run, putting shields between the wounded people and the kryganite with a spear in the bushes.

Knights were ordered to the back to hold off the Kryganites and Brendan was ordered to escort them back as Rowan took the villager by the arm and dragged him off with the remains of the original party. Yes – they were running for it – but they were so close to victory that she could not allow them to fail. The group made their way along the path, through the “tree” and onto the hidden road to the tournament field, with Rowan ordering Brendan to the back lest something attack and the group gets separated, which at first he refused until she turned on him, pulling rank and giving him a direct order. As they crossed the river and headed down to the camp, Rowan called out that the Surgeon General and wounded were incoming and asking that no one attack them, but the camp was under attack and the knights ran ahead to help bolster the defence as Rowan put the villager in the tent, gave him a swig of cider and left him in the care of the Surgeon General before going to report their return to Captain-General Brack-on-Hill.

 

It was then that the Great White Liche of the North made his appearance, demanding to speak at the Council of Swords, which could now be called together at the arrival of Father Finwe and the Dwarven representative. As this went on, people either gathered to hear what the Liche had to say or collapsed for a “well earned” breather – forgetting to grab food from the tent before the Council began. A few undead attacked the camp, but were fought off and the mages set too examining riddles and clues that had been gathered during the evening – gathering a small group together as they pulled together thoughts. Rowan recalled one of the Forester’s talking about a small bit of paper with a rune on the back which she’d found in a tree and she retrieved the clue as the mages poked and hunted around one of the trees encircling the tourney field. With these clues in order, they began to puzzle over the word the runes revealed, trying to open the box. Eventually the answer was found – adored – and the box opened to reveal a heretical letter about Kharach.

As the council wore on, things gradually tidied themselves up, people got to sit and chat and the event came to a close as the Council reached their decision – that they would not do the ritual to sever the Liche as the Voice of the Dragon of Berwickshire, something concerning a number of national folk with the upcoming nuptials of the King and his Tholonian betrothed.

 

Rowan also got a chance to discuss a matter of faith with High Father William and came to the decision that she was not yet ready to take up the path of faith, her emotions still running high from the wrongs done to her and her family in her recent past. Perhaps one day she will walk in the light of Sidhe or Crowa, but for now she’ll be as most folk, bathed in the light of the Seven.

 

Also – the Surgeon General did get her Guild Cloak.

 

———

An exhausting, fantastic event, with so much going on I don’t think I’ve done it justice with this write-up. The ends of many chunks of local plot and an event that really got me in the mood for Springfest at the weekend, I would like to reiterate my thanks to all the guests who travelled to the event, the monster crew and especially the adventure runners for preparing such a fantastic party. Thanks guys!

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