Tuesday, May 17, 2016

(Hackmaster) Burning Trogs Rule! #38: The Destiny of Lords and Ladies

The ongoing solo adventures of Cecelia Darkspruce, half-elf warrior priestess of Sif.

To the few residents of the continent of Talaishia who are aware of the forests of Marakeikos, they are fairly non-descript.  They do not have to dark and arcane grandeur of the forests of Feraso. They don't have the incredible variety of natural beasts in the woods of Crosedes. They lack the magical Senzaran menagerie that has migrated in to Phandril.  It could very well be argued that the neighboring foggy Vlachian forests are far more darker and full of horrid beasts that parents threaten their misbehaving children with.

Of course Vlachia is just where Cecelia Darkspruce had travelled through.  She had learned the tricks for traversing that land:  Don't travel at night, avoid large groups of strangers, and make sure she was at a village or sufficient shelter well before the sun set. 

In Marakeikos, the woods are thicker, the foul beasts not as plentiful, but those bastions of civilization spotted across the Kingdom can be quite remote.  Truth be told, the rules of travelling the roads and paths of Marakeikos should match that of Vlachia.  Travelling at night is still dangerous, although most of the tales you hear in Marakeikos are elaborate brigands, thieves with the flair for the dramatic. 

When you look at all the surrounding areas, Marakeikos is still considered backwards, and that is with it sharing it's entire western border with Milosic, a humanoid wasteland or the most foolhardy attempt to settle.  But orcs and goblins in the wastelands, or the rare werewolf hiding along the tree line or small monsters when compared to the true threat to the Kingdom: man.

There are no alliances, nor treaties, nor even gentlemen's agreements with Vlachia.   Only the wisest Heralds or Sages know of a distant relation between King Ludwig of Vlachia and the missing King Valens the Younger, but any similarities in blood had been immediately ignored.   With King Valens' whereabouts unknown, it would be wise for the baronial troops of Vadevincsky to eye the border with a bit more diligence.  Unfortunately, their enthusiasm for such things does not exceed their greed, so when given the ability to come upon the random lonesome traveler, it is far safer to rid them of all their belongings at the border and allow them to continue on, although it's probably safer to kill them outright on suspicion of being a spy. 

5th of TriDec, 1135 - Barony of Vadevincscky, Kingdom of Marakeikos!
Knowing all of the above, it was no surprise then for Cecelia to find herself  surrounded by three threatening men, little different than the brigands they were protecting the barony from.  All three were surprised that when they moved it to take the woman's worldly possession.  Cecelia would not succumb to highway robbery mere feet within her adopted homeland and dispatched with the same speed and aggression she had witnessed firsthand on your year-long journey.

Less than a half days' walk into the barony, she was again surrounded, this time by six heavily armed cavalry with the coat of arms of Vadevincsky emblazoned on their tunics.  Even after she willingly surrendered, the men tossed her around a bit before taking her to the dungeon beneath the Baron's castle.

6th of TriDec, 1135 - Barony of Vadevincscky, Kingdom of Marakeikos!
The next morning the same men that captured her offered her a basic breakfast, then escorted her to the Baronial throne room, where her equipment lay on a side table.  There was a single older man present in the room, who quickly shooed the men away. 

He introduced himself as Hollend, Seneschal of Baron Halfred of Vadevincsky.  The Baron had just passed away and news of this tragedy had not left the walls of the castle.  The lone heir, Lord Tedmund, his son, was on a holy pilgrimage and could not be located.  Any military presence would alert the peasants and the border raiders.   Hollend requested Cecelia travel to the Abbey of Halmath and find the Baron-to-be in exchange for safe passage to the elven lands of the Riffalin.  Cecelia could only agree.

7th of TriDec, 1135 - Barony of Vadevincscky, Kingdom of Marakeikos
Cecelia left the castle on horseback (her first horse in over a year!) with a spare horse for Tedmund,  followed by two guardsmen/bodyguards in peasant dress

9th of TriDec, 1135 - Abbey of Halmath, Vadevincsky.
The trio had encountered some brigands, and a few fearful humanoids before reaching the small Abbey of Halmath.    As Cecelia neared the front doors, she could hear the snap of multiple crossbows.  She turned to find her horse and the baron's dead, and the two bodyguards joined by four Baronial guard in full regalia.  She sensed the this whole mission was a set-up and dove over the wall and dashed into the woods.

13th of TriDec, 1135 - Northwest Marakeikos
For three long days, the guards tried to hunt her down in the woods.  Assuming they had additonal men guarding the roads to Celsior and Vadevincsky, Cecelia worked west, further into the unknown forest.   She used every ounce of elven blood in her to take advantage of the forest, and waylay the guards individually.   When the fourth guard was dispatched, there was no more sign of pursuit.

Outside a few rations and another black cloak, she took one of the black full helms off one of the bodies.
18th of TriDec, 1135 - Village of Pyce, Marakeikos
Lost, starving, and almost dead from exposure, Cecelia stumbled into a small village and was immediately taken inside by someone.  A local healer was called and stabilized.  She had reached Pyce, a logging village that was supplying the cities of of the Kingdom.

20th of TriDec, 1135 - Village of Pyce, Marakeikos
Cecelia recovered quickly and, learning that the villagers swore fealty to no one, explained her need to arrive at Celsior and was offered a job working the giant logging rafts downriver into Highforge. There, she could purchase a horse and finally finish her journey.

30th of TriDec, 1135 - The Independent Kingdom of Highforge. 
Horrible Spring weather made the great launch of lumber rafts a miserable experience, and if took a few days in Highforge to build up her strength to finally reach Celsior.  A riding horse was finally purchased to slog through the mud for the last stretch of her journey.

4th of QuaDec, 1135 Celsior
Cecelia finally reached Celsior.  She found her home boarded up, so she rode over to the Baron Desmond's Castle and demanded an audience. After detailing her struggle, the Desmond admitted that the Trogs had been in town only recently, and may have gotten a invitation to Lady Arlene's wedding in Califon.   He and his wife were unable to attend, but she was welcome to act as representative of Celsior to the festivities.    She bought new clothes, had the armorer polish up the weapons, armor, and helm and departed to Califon.

7th of QuaDec, 1135 Califon
The weather continued to be atrocious, finally improving as she entered the valley that Califon was in.  She had enough time to clean up, provide the blessing from the Baron, and head back to her room for a solid night's sleep.

8th of QuaDec 1135 - Califon
Feeling much better, it was only proper to jump into the footman's tournament, and use some of the techniques she had picked up on the Galmar plain.  Before the signal was given for the melee to begin, she spied Zorin.    She was easily handling the petty lords and peasant heroes trying to make their mark, but Zorin, his speed was preternatural.  Soon the field had been whittled down to the two of them, and it took every ounce of gumption to avoid his blows.  Fate caught up eventually, and she slunk to the ground in defeat.  As Zorin celebrated his victory, Cecelia removed her heavy helm to reveal the truth to her friend.  The tournament grounds roared even louder as all the Trogs poured into the yard to reunited with their lost comrade.

With news of the diabolical plot to murder Lord Tedmund, whose body was finally recovered near the Abbey, the Baron of Vadevincsky's brother, Lord Edrin has assumed the title of Baron.   His rule shows little change compared to his sibling.  

The Trogs are reuinited, and tales of daring-do in far off lands discussed.   But after a moment of rest and contemplation, it was time to embark on a new journey.  Their deeds had developed a reputation, the smackdown by the slavers, their mark of shame. Now was the time for the Trogs moment to shine in the darkest moments of the history of the Mer Kasp.

Next: Episode #39:  Red Arrow

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