Lords of the River of Gold

Chapter 1 Session 2
To the South

As the Unit investigated, or tried to eavesdrop, on the conversation between Captain Jo and the mysterious man, they were abpruptly ordered to rouse Captain Fix and the General Staff of Southern Command. There had been some conversation of this man going above Captain Jo’s head and informing Captain Fix anyway, and it seemed to you that she took his threat seriously.

By morning, the party was ordered by Corporal Len to the small town of Steedscross. Their mission was simple, figure out a way to destroy the bridge that spanned the Silver River and slow the cavalry of Varte. Apparently the mysterious man, whose name they discovered was Corporal Cyrus, had brought news of a new offense from the West.

Looking around the camp, the Unit saw that different groups had different tasks, but the Command was ready for combat in way that seemed impossible just the night before. Special Tactics especially was living up to its name of “special” as some units were loaded down with weaponry whilst others were putting on dresses and makeup.

The Unit set out to the Southwest towards Steedscross, discussing the likely possibilities. The party agreed that it would be best to send Koram, Alice, and Mercy into town to discuss the situation, while Calvin and Nix prepared themselves to destroy the bridge.

On the way, the party camped, for many the first night without cover over their head. Calvin volunteered to keep watch at night, uncomfortable under the Assassin’s Moon, he damned his own soul to save the others from the smile of Xatec’s Moon.

The next day, the party stumbled upon a pack of Nathian Lions, pack predators that hunt in the Ashenath Plains. The party was wise enough to leave the Lions to their meal and move on.

Towards the end of their journey, traveling down Horse Run Creek, the party happened upon a wagon. It was quickly apparent that a robbery was in progress, and it was confirmed by the bandits who could lie as well as a four year old to his mother. Caught in their trap, Koram sprung first, landing an arrow in the Bandit Captain’s leg.

Nix rushed foward as Calvin fired from his vantage point in the wagon that Mercy was driving, narrowly missing the Bandits.

As the two bandits who were worse liars than a thief with her hand covered in red ink turned to face the Unit, and six others came to take on Nix, the Captain dove for cover. Unfortunately, for the bandits, he and the others were not nearly fast enough or skilled enough to face well-trained members of the Army of the Coast.

Nix shield bashed one in the head and downed another with her hammer, as Calvin’s bow remembered it’s killing form, slicing through another two bandits by Nix. Alice easily fended off the two in front of her, capitalizing on their lack of training by slipping her dagger into one of the bandit’s chest, while Koram scored a hit on the Captain, driving him from his horse before he could find cover.

Mercy meanwhile, guided the wagon to safety and found a sheltered spot.

The bandits broke and ran, including the captain. Koram and Calvin would have none of that, firing off an arrow into his head and leg.

The Merchant, who had been the victim of the robbery attempt was overjoyed at his sudden fortune. Geoff, the merchant, was certain that this was the sign that his luck had changed, after his precious Vartian merchandize had been robbed, both by robbers and government robbers: tax collectors.

He graciously agreed to gift Nix’s childhood friend, Alice, a piece of pottery when he went through that town. But first, he needed to know where that town was. The party graciously gave him directions, trussed up the leader of the bandits, and continued on their way, with promises to stop into Geoff’s shop in the City of Flowers in Galah, if they ever passed that way.

As night fell on the 3rd day of Play, the Unit arrived at Steedscross. It was a small, rustic town with only a handful of buildings and a large, well-maintained bridge. Koram, Alice, and Mercy approached two old men who were introduced as Ned Ce’Grey, the mayor, and Thom. The Bandit was quickly thrown into the “cell,” a common honor-prison system in the Ashenath Plains

Koram led in quickly, telling the men that they needed to discuss the destruction of the bridge. Thom took immediate offense, and the three learned that his full name was Thom Bridger, and that was his bridge to care for.

Ned, sensing the tension, asked for the three to join the town for dinner. So Koram, Mercy, and Alice went into Mayor Ned’s tavern, the Lucky Horseshoe, for dinner.

Inside, they discovered that this town was some kind of rest home for old farmers whose families could not care for them. Two boys, Owen and Ben Farmer, were in town to make sure the elderly were cared for, and another girl, Mandy was there as well.

Marcia, Ned’s wife, and Marcus, her sister, were also in the room and they talked about the recent troop movements to the south. Ned assured the party that they were loyal and did not pay the taxpayers from Varte. He did however explain that the bridge was their livelihood and that it could be financially ruinous to tear it down.

Marcia, speaking with Alice, explained that much of the community that supported the village, or where villagers used to live, was south of the bridge, and that the bridge was a link to their loved ones.

Meanwhile, Mercy went to find Mandy and her crying child Sally. Mandy had been thrown out of her house for an unwed pregnancy. She would not speak of the father. Mercy discovered that the source of the child’s tears was an ear infection and did her best to cure the problem.

While the others were warm and comfortable inside, Nix and Calvin examined the bridge and then jogged to the south to scout the lands that were supposed to be under siege. Just as their jog was over, they spotted bright stars on the horizon.

It did not take long for them to realize that those “stars” were in fact campfires. No accurate count could be made, but they thought there was a minimum of 50 Vartian soldiers, and possibly many more. They knew the bridge must fall, or there could be gaping holes in the army’s defense. And they ran back to town.

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Chapter 1 Session 1
Welcome to Southern Command

The remaining hours of Boot Camp, as it were, are spent in quiet thought, Nix and Mercy pondering their dreams from the night before.  Sergeant Lacy entered your tent, somewhat embarrassed and apologized for her actions.  She stated that her son would likely die as a result, but that it was not the Unit’s fault.  She handed out orders, the Unit would go to Southern Command, while Jonathan was being sent to Home Command, in the Southern Logistics Division, near Smuggler’s Cove.

The next two days were spent on the road, moving towards Southern Command.  During that time, Koram also dreamed a dream which left him shaken and tired.  It was a long slough on a hard road, but the Unit eventually arrived to a disorderly camp, filled with strangers.

With little guidance or direction, the party made their way to the Assignment Desk, where an old man and his grandchildren were telling people their assignments.  The Unit was assigned as: “Army of the Coast, Southern Regiment, B Company, 8th Unit, Special Tactics” and were handed a badge with crossed arrows and a sword.

8th Unit made their way to the Special Tactics area of camp, which was even more slovenly and dirty than the parts they had seen so far.

A middle-aged woman, missing two fingers from her right hand, stood near another women who had tailored her leather armor to accentuate her curves.  The three-fingered woman introduced herself as Captain Jo and told the Unit to not talk to her.  They were directed to speak with Corporal Len, who would be their direct superior.

After a little help from a gray-haired man in Special Tactics, Corporal Len, a odd fellow with a pornographic book and a pink parasol told them that they were at their leisure to go about camp, and that they needed to remember to pay Captain Jo her 10% of anything they got, aside from wages.

The party then split to go to different areas.

Calvin and Nix made their way to the Quartermaster’s tent, where a married couple of Smiths let them work for a while.

Alice, still carrying a few cuts and bruises from the fight, and Mercy made their way to the Hospital tent, which contained two very badly injured soldiers and a pleasant man with an Ocelot bite to his leg.  Mercy took her time to wash and bind the wound and did so expertly.  Both the man and the nurse were impressed, and the nurse handed Mercy some fresh bandages with contraband ointments inside.

Koram guarded their tent and made friendly conversation with Foxtail, another member of Special Tactics.  Foxtail, true to his name, seemed to be interested in the women of the party, whom Koram warned him against.  Koram was then invited to take part in the “liquid dinner” that was generally shared around Special Tactics, but he deferred to the judgment of his comrades.

At dinner in the Mess, the party had a chance to discuss the days events.  Nix was especially upset at their predicament.  Alice, thinking on her feet, spoke to James, who had trained with them, to get the feel for what others were doing.  James expressed that he had found instant guidance and camaraderie with his Infantry unit, and his commanding officer spoke with Alice about the camp in general.

As they broke for the night to return to their tent, Alice went first to speak with the Cleric of Tarc at camp.  On the way there, she saw a mercenary camp, which was filled with Orcs down from the Northern Marches.  Thinking it passing strange, she continued on to the Cleric who was leaving in the morning.  The Cleric informed Alice that the Bishop’s death had not been unexpected and though sad, he had not planned to see the end of the year.

Back in Special Tactics, Calvin and the others were attempting to make nice with their Company.  Calvin wrestled a man, unironically named Ox and pinned him on the ground, apparently winning a friend.  Koram diced with the men, putting up a good show and coming in second to a man named Garrison.  Nix however was confronted by Foxtail, who used her rejection as a chance to chase Mercy.  Nix, fiercely protective, landed a blow right in the stomach, dropping Foxtail to the ground, to the hoots and laughter of the others.

The night ended as a seemingly competent man entered the fire circle, dropped his 10% to Captain Jo without a word and then stepped inside a tent with the gray haired man from before, possibly to discuss the new recruits.

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Prologue: The Story Begins pt. 4
The last days of Training

On the 27th day of Newbirth, the Unit found themselves pitched in heavy battle with the assassins. Calvin continued his rain of arrows, while Koram dodged the blows of the thug attacking him. Alice, finally able to move out of combat proved adept throwing daggers, landing one into the leader of the thugs as Nix moved in to divert his attacks.

The battle raged on, but Felicia Dixon and Tyson Perl joined at Phillip Bittle’s call. Felicia landed arrows, standing close to Calvin, as Lord Perl ran right into the middle of the action, slicing through armor with his spiked gauntlets.

Alice quickly landed another dagger into the chest of the lead thug as Nix’s hammer took him in the side and he fell against the wall, dead. Meanwhile, Felicia and Calvin’s arrows took another thug to the brink of death.

Mercy, watching from the safety of the hut, where she had stowed the flag, watched as Joshua Obbel led the Blue Strikers to support Koram and the Unit. The Unit also became aware of Felicia’s archers joining the attack from the north.

With their leader dead, and enemies at every turn, the thugs quickly threw down their weapons.

Baronet Bittle and Nix immediately rushed to Alice’s side as she collapsed from her wounds. Calvin went to check on Mercy, to ensure that she was okay. Felicia left at Bittle’s command and through Nix, Alice asked Koram to check on her brother, Jonathan.

As a gong sounded to signal the end of the exercise, with Mercy still holding the flag, William Eton, Sergeant Lacy, the Bishop of Tarc, and others flooded into the make-shift battleground to take control of the assassins and for the medics to care for Alice.

Nix, furious over the situation and the lack of response from her superiors, cornered Lacy and discovered that she was aware of the attempt on Bittle’s life, though she claimed that she had done what she could to protect the Unit.

Captain Eton meanwhile expressed his gratitude to the Unit and told them that if there was anything they needed that was within his meager power, he would do it. The party nodded and filed out of the battleground, to the salute of nearly the entire trainee class, the Named trainees included.

Investigation into the thugs revealed little, but it did earn the Unit a tidy sum of gold that was to be the thugs earnings for the death of Bittle.

Later in the day, the remaining thugs were met with swift executions, the clear punishment for such a deed.

None of the party slept well that night, but Nix and Mercy had particularly vivid dreams of the men who had died.

The next day brought the end of their time at The Duke’s Training Grounds, with a commencement held for all of the trainee’s who were to move on to the official army. All of the trainees were given a red and blue cord for their uniform and their left arm was slashed by the Bishop of Tarc who cleaned the blade with holy water and gave the blade to each new soldier.

The Captain gave a speech about fighting to protect loved ones, not for the machinations of nobles, and the Unit was reminded that wars are fought by soldiers who have nothing to gain, but must fight anyway. The Captain indicated that this class of trainees made him more hopeful than he had been in the past.

The Bishop then concluded the ceremony, giving a speech about the important of war and honesty. The speech was dry, and long, and most of the party stopped paying attention, though Alice, high on pain-killers could hardly be blamed.

But suddenly, the Bishop stopped talking. He turned to the party and, in a strange voice, whispered to them:

“The Arrow must not sit the Lion Throne.”

And then the world reverted, and the Bishop was dead. Searching back, it was apparent that the cause was a heart attack.

You were told to return to you tent and await your orders for your first posting in the Army of Calindrost.

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Prologue: The Story Begins pt. 3
The Exercise Begins

It is the 27th day of Newbirth, the Unit, now led by Phillip Bittle spent their last 30 minutes deciding on a course of action.  After considerable thought, with varying opinions heard by all, it was decided that the risk to Jonathan and Baronet Bittle was too high to take no action, but not certain enough to give up the quest for the Flag.  A plan was developed that would allow Koram and Alice to spy on Tyson Perl and Jonathan’s Unit, while Nix, Bittle, and Mercy ran for the flag.  Calvin would offer support with a bow.

The trumpet sounded the beginning of the exercise and the Unit bolted into action.  Towards the center, Mercy quickly ran ahead, Nix and Bittle following behind.  Calvin, having taken to archery like a fish to water, quickly placed arrows in two of the Blue Strikers, who sank to the ground in defeat.  To the north, Alice and Koram quickly ran into trouble with three brutes from Jonathan’s Unit.  It became apparent that they were not following the rules when Koram’s arrow sheared off a part of an ear, yet the brute came on.

Mercy and Nix entered the building, but could not find the flag.  Calvin, from behind tagged one of Felicia Dixon’s runners, but could not act fast enough to get both.  By the time Mercy had started her search upstairs, the bottom of the House was filled with Nix, Lord Perl, Felicia and two of her archers. 

A blood curdling scream was heard across the battlefield, as Koram produced his best death scene, in hopes of attracting attention.  Unfortunately, no one seemed to be interested.  Alice and Koram continually dodged in and out of the way of the three brutes, who landed several solid blows on Alice.  But she accomplished her goal of keeping them from discovering Baronet Bittle’s location. 

Inside the House, Baronet Bittle and Mercy searched the top floor hurriedly, knowing that time was running out.  Finally, Mercy spotted a small blue square under a bed and made a grab for it.  Downstairs, Lord Perl planted his spiked gauntlets into Felicia, who was unable to dodge away. However, her archer was able to direct a blow into Perl’s shoulder, and both of them sat down.  With no other combatants left, the archers turned their sights on Nix.  Calvin turned to see a sneaking Joshua Obbel backing away.  A quick arrow and he threw his daggers down in defeat.

Back to the North, the three brutes, frustrated by Alice’s unwillingness to get out of their way, called out to their comrade, who brought Jonathan out as a hostage.  Koram, thinking on his feet, engaged the slow-witted brutes in a dialogue that they had no chance of keeping up with, dizzying them with rhetoric.
 
Calvin, moving into a more advantageous position fired an arrow past Nix’s head and into the chest of an archer.  Nix, now being joined by Bittle, raised her shield just in time to prevent two, point-blank archers from making her into a pin cushion.  She and Bittle engaged the remaining combatant in melee, who seemed adept at avoiding their strikes.

Mercy, having pulled out the entire, bed-sized flag, leaped out of the window down to Calvin, turning an ankle.  She did not let that effect her though, carrying through with the plan and bolted to the northern hut.  Calvin followed, but stopped when he saw Jonathan on his knees in front of an axe man.

Alice and Koram, on the point of capitulation were stunned to see an arrow rock the axe man in the side, as Calvin expertly placed an arrow to knock the man away from Jonathan.  Jonathan, seeing an unarmed Alice coming towards him, threw a dagger to his sister as he got up to bolt from the scene.  Alice grabbed the dagger and charged the axeman, hoping to buy time for Jonathan’s escape. 

Finally dispatching the archer, Nix and Bittle followed the sounds of battle and entered the fray in time to stop a brute from reaching the sniper that Calvin was channeling.  The axe sliced through Alice’s arm as her deadly wounds began to take their toll.  Koram, finally out of words, faces man by himself as two of the brutes have moved toward Bittle, who called for help.

Mercy, focused on the flag in her hands, got to the tent, but spied the rest of the Blue Strikers setting a trap for her, but set up the wrong way! 

Will help finally come?  Are the remaining Blue Strikers and Felicia’s Archer part of the plot to kill Bittle?  Will Jonathan make it to safety?  Will Alice survive her brutal wounds?  Will they win the exercise?

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Prologue: The Story Begins pt. 2
Problems Arise

You awoke on the 21st day of Newbirth, tired and sore from the activities of last night to a general call. Waking, it seemed the Alice was nowhere in sight, but there was no time to investigate.

As you made your way to the marshaling grounds, you saw that everyone was in attendance, and that the four deserters were bound before William Eton. He declared that they had not actually deserted the army, based on your actions. Yardem, the thief, was given a thief’s Brand on his arm, and the others were given five lashes. In a surprising move, the Captain placed the four deserters under the command of your Unit, and told you that the time they spent doing your work you would spend learning tactics.

He also honored you with the Calindrost Ribbon of Loyalty.

After meeting and dealing with Matthew, a young, eager trainee who wished to please the Unit; Aron, a brutish, older trainee who blamed the Unit for his capture; and Dyllon, who is grateful to, but hates the Unit, you decided to place Koram in control of the trainees so that the Unit could have a single voice.

At evening, Alice came back, with a Cleric of Tarc in tow. It was revealed that not only was it a Cleric, but it was the Bishop himself, down from the Northern Marches. You did not see him again, but you know that he will bless everyone at the closing ceremonies.

Your tactics lessons began, along with the four Noble and Named trainees in the camp, Phillip Bittle, Felicia Dixon, Joshua Obbel, and Tyson Perl.

The days passed much as before, and soon the training was coming to its last days. You were told that you had been selected to participate in a final exercise, and that winning it would bring you Honor and Glory, if not wealth. You strategized your game of Capture the Flag, and discovered that you would be lead by the handsome Baronet Bittle.

At that point, Alice’s brother Jonathan hurriedly beckoned her to talk privately and told her that the Baronet must remain in their “base” house. When pressed, he said that if the Baronet was not there, that his Unit would kill him. Alice told him to get out of combat and stay somewhere safe during the exercise.

Now the party must decide, what will happen to the Baronet? What will happen to Jonathan? What will happen to the Flag? Can they do it all, and what happens if they don’t?

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Prologue: The Story Begins pt. 1
In the Army Now.

The dawn of the 14th day of the Month of Newbirth, you arrived, stiff and cramped from a long night of travel by wagon, at The Duke’s Training Grounds. Quickly formed up and standing erect, you were dressed down by your commanding officer, and trainer, Sergeant Lacy. Sergeant Lacy reminded you of your obligation to your home and to your countrymen, and of the penalty for desertion. Then proceeded to beat on Nix, the beautiful blacksmith.

The five of you were thrust into a Unit and told to set camp. Alice quickly took control of the large sail cloth tent with Mercy, while Nix and Calvin, the blacksmiths, dug a trench for the latrine. Koram, seeing nothing else to do, quickly pushed debris away from the campsite. Once finished, Mercy bolted for the mess hall, and arrived before all other trainees, even those who started setting camp before her unit.

At breakfast, introductions and small talk were made and Alice checked in on her brother Jonathan, who appeared slightly nervous. But then, he’s always a bit nervous.

The five of you resumed formation and were greeted by the Commander of the Duke’s Training Grounds, William Eton. A striking, Named man, Captain William apologized for your forced conscription and promised to do his best to make sure you were safe. He also relayed his personal history about getting a Name, and that it may be possible for you as well.

After that, your training began. A week of running, swordplay, and archery left you weary, but closer to each other as you had to work often as a unit. Other units had taken similar positions, asserting themselves as the top Unit, or by naming themselves. Suspicions about Jonathan’s Unit grew.

Late on the night of the 21st day of Newbirth, the team awoke to the sounds of guards running. Calvin looked out to see four trainees fleeing the site, one with a large bag over his shoulder. While Calvin and Nix took off in pursuit of the runaways, Koram, Mercy, and Alice sneaked over to their tent.

Inside the tent, they discovered the fifth member of the Unit, James, bound and gagged. He disclosed that they had stolen goods and weapons from the manor and had tied him up so that he would not warn the guards. After some light interrogation, James admitted that he had the team tie him up so that it would not appear that he had aided them. Alice noted this down and reminded him that she expected a favor in return.

Calvin and Nix, being warned that they were facing armed men, squared off against three men, two holding daggers, while the man with the loot ran on. Calvin and Nix made short work of the ruffians, though Nix took a deep cut to the body, tearing across her stomach and maybe nicking the spleen. Koram, seeing things were well in hand, sprinted after the man with the bag, stopping him with the gift of gab and delaying him long enough for the guards to arrive.

Calvin was summarily sent off to get medical help for Nix, while Mercy and Alice saw to her. They were also sent away, back to the tent, as was Koram. Calvin, seeing a grumpy Sergeant Lacy and a concerned Captain William, informed them of the need for medical attention. Captain William told him to return to the tent. Calvin, ever obedient, returned to Nix, where he was caught disobeying the order by the Captain, when he arrived with the nurse.

The Captain brought the injured Nix and Calvin back to the tent, where the others waited. The Captain was asked what would happen to the people who fled, but demurred, saying that he had to speak to them first. Nix informed the Captain that they acted to protect their fellow Coasters, and that since they were stopped, they had not truly deserted. The Captain would not answer, but said he would consider her opinion.

They went to sleep, wondering what decision the Captain would come to in the morning.

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