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9 Years ago
The Massacre at JenkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ferry
Ã‚Â©2000 by Thomas R. Grable
The ad read, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Adventurers sought for dangerous mission. Inquire at the Green Griffin Tavern.Ã¢â‚¬ The intrepid crew, seasoned by numerous adventures (some even legal), had met with the quiet little man in the back room. He was aged some sixty-five years, by all appearances, and was given to rubbing his thumb and forefinger together on his right hand, as a nervous tic. His clothing was plain, but seemed to ill fit him. He seemed uncomfortable, for reasons that would soon become evident. Introductions were then made.
The hulking warrior in plate and mail seemed to like stroking the weathered oaken haft of his halberd, which bore, amid the scars of battle, beautiful scrollwork and a blade that gleamed a rich blue-black; evidently of fine Elven make. The warrior himself seemed unusual, in that he stood nearly seven feet tall, and possessed a rosy, pinkish skin and a thatch of bright red hair. He introduced himself as Gunther Tarnhelm, and was easily recognized as a native Morvaenian, but admitted his mother was an Efreet.
Beside him stood an Amazon, clad in leather armor that scarce concealed her buxom proportions. Evidently proud of her prodigious cleavage, she showed it to good effect. Her smile showed rosy cheeks and a tousled blonde hair. Her shortbow, however, seemed quite serviceable, and her quiver of arrows were well cared for. She named herself Masha-la, of the House of the Gull.
The Dwarf, Rurik Starforge, showed close-slitted, cunning eyes. Those eyes took in details his comrades might have missed. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You bear a ring of gold, friend,Ã¢â‚¬ he noted. Ã¢â‚¬Å“And, if IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not mistaken, it bears a baronial seal.Ã¢â‚¬ The old man covered the ring, too late of course. The Dwarf chuckled to himself.
The two brothers, garbed alike in chainmail and bearing heavy crossbows, exchanged a glance and a shrug. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bill and George Devareaux,Ã¢â‚¬ said one, speaking for both.
The KobbitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eyebrows rose at the mention of gold. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gold? Gold? Can I see it?Ã¢â‚¬ The man gave the little thief a suspicious glare. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just curious, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all. Holix Brambletree, at your service.Ã¢â‚¬ The Kobbit extended a welcome hand, but the man thought better of exchanging a handshake with the little fellow, given that the ring was on his right hand. Mere coincidence, of courseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Attired in scale armor that had seen scores of battles, the next man removed his helm to reveal a head of short-cropped black hair and a fringe beard. His eyes were blue and hard. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am Koreth Malgosian, a fighting priest of Megalon, the Soul of War. My prayers bring victory to our band, as does my mace.Ã¢â‚¬ He gave a fierce grin.
The tall, slender Elf spoke next. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am Seth Nightstar, and am master of both the arts arcane and the martial ways.Ã¢â‚¬
The last of the band, a small woman with dark red hair and green eyes, looked intently at the old man. After a brief pause, she smiled. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Who I am is Lavender Kinfell, but more important to us is who you are: Tavan Coriander, chamberlain to Baron Aldren. Am I correct?Ã¢â‚¬
The old man gave a start. Ã¢â‚¬Å“How did you know that? From my ring?Ã¢â‚¬
The woman laughed. Ã¢â‚¬Å“No, though my friend Rurik could no doubt have deduced that, in time. No, my talents are of the mind. I can find what people seek.Ã¢â‚¬ She looked gave the old man a piercing stare. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I can find what you seek, Chamberlain.Ã¢â‚¬
The old man nodded to himself. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes, you seem capable enough.Ã¢â‚¬ He showed evident unease at speaking more, but bore on. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The mission for which I wish to hire you is vitally important. I must have your solemn word that nothing I speak here will be spoken again until the missionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end. Is that clear?Ã¢â‚¬
All nodded. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Baron Aldren, whom you have correctly identified as my lord, has been struck with a terrible malady. To be exact, he has been driven mad. Our physicians and clerics have been unable to allay this condition, which worsens by the day. In desperation, we have even consulted with mystics, who have told us that the sole cure for his madness is the Cup of the Ancients.Ã¢â‚¬
Eyebrows rose at the name of this artifact. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Some of you may have heard of this legend. It is the center of several tales and bardic songs, from what I have discovered. What I have not discovered as yet is its location.Ã¢â‚¬
The band looked on quizzically, as the old man continued. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My sources are incomplete. Morvaen does not foster research on arcane knowledge so much as some other nations, relying instead on the strength of iron and steel. We believe the place where such knowledge may be found is in the neighboring kingdom of Arduin.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As you know, Arduin holds the Nexus gates. It is a confluence of peoples, cultures, and knowledge. Information of this sort is almost certain to be found there. I note from your accents that several of you are Arduinian by birth, so those avenues of information should be readily available to you, so you will be able to find the key to the CupÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s location.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am providing a sum of two hundred Arduinian gold sovereigns as traveling and incidental expenses. This will be sufficient to the task, and will not provoke questions about foreign coinage. Bring back the Cup of the Ancients, and you shall have ten thousand Morvaenian gold lions. But know you this: speed is of the essence, and discretion. You must accomplish your task by yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end, and quietly, or the contract is null and void. I will reiterate: succeed, bring back the Cup before the end of Tai Taowyn, and the gold is yours. Fail to return with the Cup, or come back late, and the deal is off. Not a single copper ferret will I pay then, nor will I pay if you have you have divulged the reason for your quest.Ã¢â‚¬
Lavender closed her eyes in concentration. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What is the Ã¢â‚¬ËœConvocation of the Lords?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬
The old man gave a start. He sighed in resignation, and answered, Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is the meeting of the Lords of Morvaen on the first day of the new year. On the First of Tor, in the Year of the Bison, the Lords of Morvaen shall gather together to select a new heir to the Autocracy. The Autocrat, Hengest EÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Konnen, is old and will not live much longer. The Lords shall select one from among the heirs to serve as Regent, to rule Morvaen and, upon the death of Hengest, to become Autocrat.Ã¢â‚¬
He paused a moment to allow the words to sink in. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If Baron Aldren is not present, his voice will not be heard, his influence not felt. The heir that we support, Zandor EÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Konnen, may not be named Regent. Another may be chosen, one less qualified to rule Morvaen.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But there is more. By Morvaenian law, if a Lord is determined to be unfit to rule his region, he can be stripped of his lands, his titleÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ even his wife. As you can image, Lady Aldren is none too pleased with this. Nor are we who loyally serve the Baron. Now you know why silence is so vital. Speak of this to anyone, and our cause is lost, and so is your own.Ã¢â‚¬
The band of adventurers considered the chamberlainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words. They looked to each other, and nodded in agreement. The Elf spoke. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are agreed. Give us the contract.Ã¢â‚¬
The chamberlain produced a scroll, which the band looked over. He had to swat aside the hand of the Kobbit as it was stealing into his pocket. Holix gave a guilty smile and skittered back.
Each in turn signed the document, and at last Tavan signed it, and sealed it with his signet ring. He produced a duplicate of the first, and after a cursory examination to ensure that it was identical to the first, it, too, was signed and sealed. The first was then put back in TavanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pouch, while the second was given to the band, along with a pouch heavy with Arduinian gold.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Congratulations, old man,Ã¢â‚¬ said the Amazon. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Cup is as good as yours.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hope so, my dear, I truly do.Ã¢â‚¬
After the chamberlain had departed, the band gave a whooping cheer.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hot damn! WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to be rich,Ã¢â‚¬ Gunther shouted. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ten thousand gold lions! Split nine ways, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ uh, that's,Ã¢â‚¬ Gunther faltered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot of money,Ã¢â‚¬ put in Rurik.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One thousand, one hundred eleven gold lions, two silver eagles, and two copper ferrets, plus some copper bits, each,Ã¢â‚¬ noted Lavender. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Like I said, a lot of money,Ã¢â‚¬ said Rurik.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Okay, so we go to Arduin, hit Talismonde, and find where the Cup is. Then we get it, bring it back, and cash in. Not a problem, as I see it,Ã¢â‚¬ noted Gunther. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Money in the bank.Ã¢â‚¬
Rurik, with a sly smile on his face, opined, Ã¢â‚¬Å“You know, once we have the Cup, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to say we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hit this Tavan guy up for more money? If heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so hard pressed to cure the Baron, maybe heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll double the price.Ã¢â‚¬
Masha-la gave him a stern glare. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We signed a contract, Rurik. We gave our word.Ã¢â‚¬
The Dwarf gave a helpless shrug. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blame a guy for thinking, can you? All I was saying was, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwhat if.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ No need to get all dogmatic, now.Ã¢â‚¬
The Amazon shook her head in disgust. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Some never learn about honor.Ã¢â‚¬ Her gaze fell upon the psychic. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Or trust,Ã¢â‚¬ she added.
Lavender returned the stare with bemusement. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My, are we still angry about that little incident with the sailor? You seem to have taken it a bit personally, my dear.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He was mine, and you took him,Ã¢â‚¬ Masha-la hissed through clenched teeth.
The psychic snickered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If he was really yours, then I could never have taken him. My talents donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t extend to mental domination, or donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you believe me?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enough,Ã¢â‚¬ Gunther grunted, interposing himself between them. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to fight, why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you fight over me?Ã¢â‚¬ His rosy face split in a wide grin.
Masha-la gave a snort of derision, and went to get a bottle of brandy. Lavender watched her depart with a measure of satisfaction, then laughed and called for wine.
Geared up for travel, and loaded for bear, the doughty adventurers set out for Arduin. From the city of Valdoona, they crossed the bridge over the Black Blood River, and took the road west. With practiced ease they rode, though Gunther complained about the pace of the RurikÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and HolixÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ponies. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take so long, if we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to slow down for the rodents.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, you big lummox,Ã¢â‚¬ retorted Rurik. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to complain when Holix and I had to bust you out of that jail back in Auchstyr. Maybe the next time IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m checking for traps IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll Ã¢â‚¬ËœaccidentallyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ miss one and let you trigger it.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Enough from both of you,Ã¢â‚¬ commanded Seth. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This serves none of us. Remember, we are a team, and work as a team.Ã¢â‚¬
Chastened, the two were silent, though Lavender bore a smirk of amusement upon her face at the bickering.
Two days later, the band found themselves at the River of Black Dreams. Broad, cold, and deep, it was an impassible obstacle without the benefit of river craft. JenkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ferry stood as an example of the entrepreneurial spirit. It was a large square raft, cranked from either side by a crew of six.
The ferry captain, Jenkins, was a crotchety old fellow, with a fringe of thin grey hair around a bald scalp, watery blue eyes, and a habit of spitting tobacco juice to punctuate his sentences. He demanded a price of one silver eagle for each passenger, and five for each steed. The band handed over the fare, and took their places on the raft.
Just as Jenkins was lowering the gate, a rider approached at a hard gallop. Dust from the road billowed as his steed skidded to a stop before the ferry. The rider, swathed in dusty clothing from head to toe, tossed Jenkins the passage money, and took a position at the farthest corner of the raft. The group noted the courierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bags upon his saddle, and the silvery hilt of a saber upon his hip.
The curiosity of the band was aroused by the riderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sudden appearance. They looked to each other, as if to confirm their thoughts. Holix began surreptitiously edging toward the man, his eyes fixed on the saddlebags. Seeing the Kobbit sidling near, the man hissed through his veil, and bared six inches of his silver-bladed saber. The little thief quickly retreated.
Seth Nightstar looked to his companions, and then, his hands hidden beneath his cloak, quietly invoked SaballaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s swift sleep upon the rider. The riderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s head nodded briefly, then snapped up in sudden alarm. The spell had failed, and the man knew heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been the target of sorcery. With a flash, the silver blade was naked in his hand.
The band responded in kind. Weapons sprang into ready fists, and the river raft was the scene of a deadly standoff. Jenkins began shouting, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Goddammit, I ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gonna have none of this shit on my ferry! Put them damn weapons away!Ã¢â‚¬ No one paid him any heed, and it seemed that blood was sure to be spilt.
Jenkins gave a disgusted snort. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Aw, the hell with it. Harry, load up the crossbows!Ã¢â‚¬
The men charged with cranking them to the opposite shore moved to swivel-mounted siege crossbows and began cranking them up. In a flash of inspiration, Koreth invoked a prayer to Megalon and divine power transformed him into a ghostly, insubstantial form. Thus it was that he began to run along the surface of the river at the crossbowmen, his misty form dancing over the water like a wraith.
The head man on the riverbank, Harry, saw the ghostly form, and called out, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Better load up the silver ones!Ã¢â‚¬ The men finished their cranking and loaded heavy silver-plated bolts. They sighted their weapons on the approaching form.
Harry shouted to the priest. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Halt!Ã¢â‚¬
Koreth continued to run.
Again, Koreth continued to run.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Halt, or we fire!Ã¢â‚¬
Once more, Koreth ignored the command. With the ghostly figure nearly upon them, Harry yelled to his men, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fire!Ã¢â‚¬
Six silvered bolts discharged with a loud Ã¢â‚¬Å“thwung.Ã¢â‚¬ Four bolts hit their target, and Koreth learned to his dismay that his spell of intangibility apparently did not include immunity to silver. Mortally wounded, he experienced a brief instant of regret before blackness enveloped his sight forever.
On the river raft, Seth saw KorethÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s demise. He cried out a code word in low Elvish, a prepared signal for his companions to shield their eyes. His own eyes closed as well, Seth invoked Fafing-gharÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spell of the fiery flash, and there was an explosion of blindingly bright light upon the ferry.
The light faded as quickly as it came, but Jenkins, his assistant, and the rider were all blinded by the sudden flash. Bill Devareaux Ã¢â‚¬Å“accidentallyÃ¢â‚¬ discharged his crossbow into the flank of the riderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s horse. Blinded and in pain, it reared, sending horse and rider through the railing and into the river. George, not to be outdone by his brother, calmly took aim and finished off the floating rider. The iron fanged bolt sank to the quills in his throat, and his grip upon his sword relaxed.
Masha-la dropped her bow and dove into the water, seeing an opportunity to recover the riderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s silvery saber. Gunther, in a fit of bloodlust, swung his halberd in a singing arc to cleave the head of Jenkins. The manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skull burst like an overripe melon in a spray of blood, bone, and brains.
Amazingly, no one took note of JenkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ assistant, who was only somewhat dazzled by the flash, as he had been blinking when it went off. Panicked by the carnage, he dove into the river, forgetting that he had never learned to swim. His body sank to the bottom, never to be found.
As Masha-la swam beneath the surface, seeking the glimmer of silver, she heard a voice in her head. You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how to swim. The waterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all around you. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re running out of air.
It was the voice of Lavender.
Furious, the Amazon swam harder, and despite the distraction of the telepath, she was rewarded in her efforts. She saw the glint of reflected light, and seized the saber. Her lungs nearly bursting, Masha-la swam back to the surface.
Meanwhile, Seth Nightstar sent a blast of ravening heat at the crossbowmen as they were attempting to crank up their weapons again. Set ablaze, the men ran screaming into the tall grass beyond the riverbank. Some managed to drop to the ground and extinguish the fires, but others died in agony.
Gunther used his prodigious strength to seize the rope and, aided by the Devareaux brothers, began hauling the raft to shore. On the eastern shore from which theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d come, the other men, out of range, could only stare in horror.
When the ferry touched shore, the band went out to finish off the crankmen. Not a one did they leave alive, and they returned to find the courierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s horse had swum ashore, and with it was the saddlebag. They began trying to open it, only to find it was magically warded, and delivered a painful electric shock each time they tried. They finally began heaving heavy rocks at it until the lock broke, and they eagerly removed the battered contents.
As their attention was diverted, Masha-la emerged from the river, silvery saber in hand. Her eyes were fixed on the back of Lavender, who was too preoccupied with the courierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pouch to notice the danger.
With a cold fury, the Amazon drove the sword into the psychicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back. Lavender was driven to her knees with the force of the blow, but by sheer chance, the blade had managed to miss her vitals, and the wounded woman responded with alacrity. She sprang to her feet, leaped onto her horse, and dug her heels into its sides, spurring it into full gallop. She fled in blind panic, knowing that it was death to remain with the angry Amazon.
Masha-la, still filled with the heat of retribution, met the shocked stares of her comrades. Through clenched teeth, she spat, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The bitch tried to fill my head with thoughts of drowning as I swam. She tried to kill me.Ã¢â‚¬
The others, knowing the bad blood between the two, and seeing the resolute look in her eyes (and the silver saber in her hands), decided it was best to leave well enough alone. They turned back to their prize, and found a battered copper scroll case. Carefully, to avoid shredding the papers within, they pried out the contents.
They read in triumph the message that was certain to be vital to their mission. Or, rather, they read the message that had nothing whatsoever to do with their mission. The message, it seemed, was a love letter from woman in the city of ChaemÃƒÂ¶r, in neighboring Hyrkhalla, to a merchant in GudrÃƒÂ¼n, in Khorsar.
The adventurers looked to each other in confused embarrassment. All for nothing, it seemed. They mounted up once more and pressed on.
Lavender Kinfell was afraid, very afraid. In the instant that Masha-la had struck her, she had been stricken as well by the sheer magnitude of the AmazonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fury. She knew that the woman would not allow her a second chance. She was unnerved.
She rode her horse hard, continuing on the course set by the band. She did not know how long she or the horse could keep up the pace, but she had to keep ahead of the band, until a plan could be formed.
The band traveled on, feeling certain that they had disposed of all witnesses. This was, no doubt, because the cranking crew on the eastern side had been in their shack when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d arrived. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d not given a backward glance, else theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d have seen the crankmen staring on in helpless horror at the fate of their comrades, who were too far out of range to be helped.
Two hours later, the band encountered a roving sextet of centaurs. They were hailed from a distance, and when they got within fifty yards, the centaurs halted, and gave the band odd, suspicious stares.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What news of the road,Ã¢â‚¬ asked one.
The band looked to each other. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bandits,Ã¢â‚¬ Bill replied. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They killed the ferry people.Ã¢â‚¬
The centaurs looked to each other. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You fought them?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, no, when they saw us, they took off.Ã¢â‚¬
The centaurs exchanged nervous glances, and at once galloped away. At this, the band looked at each other in confusion, until they noted the gore-splattered halberd in GuntherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hands. Bits of brain and bone still adhered to the blade, testaments to the ferry captainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s murder.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oops,Ã¢â‚¬ offered Gunther, as he belatedly scrubbed at the crimson stains.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, so much for discretion,Ã¢â‚¬ noted Holix.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had better move on, before the law is summoned,Ã¢â‚¬ Seth opined. The others agreed, and they set out again.
Lavender continued to set a hard pace. She slept only four hours a night, and kept a cold camp when she did. She feared that a fire would reveal her presence to the others, should they be close behind. While she doubted that the others would push themselves as hard, she dared not take the chance. She used her mental abilities to speed the healing of her wound, and to undo the strain she had put upon her horse by the savage pace.
Two days of riding took her past the border to Khorsar. She was half a day in when she saw a company of soldiers on maneuver. A corporal looked up at her in consternation.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You! What are you doing here?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to help me,Ã¢â‚¬ she answered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They killed those people!Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Killed? People? I think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d better talk to the Captain.Ã¢â‚¬ He gave an order to his squad, and they took her horseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reins and led her to the command tent.
The Khorsarian captain, Jared Denos, took her in at a glance. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What is your name?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lavender Kinfell,Ã¢â‚¬ she answered.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“And whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s this about people being killed?Ã¢â‚¬
Eagerly, Lavender answered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Back in Morvaen, at the river crossing. The ferry captain, Jenkins, and his crew were all murdered two days back.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Who did this?Ã¢â‚¬
Lavender smiled. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s this Amazon, Masha-la. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s twenty-four years old, about five feet eight inches tall, weighs about a hundred forty-five pounds, with blonde hair, grey eyes, large breasts, a deep tan, and a small mole on her left buttocks. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crack shot with her shortbow, and dangerous with sword or spear. She tried to kill me, too, but I barely escaped with my life, and I have the wound to prove it.Ã¢â‚¬
Amazed at the detailed description, the captain looked to his lieutenant, who had busily written down the womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words. He turned back to her, asking, Ã¢â‚¬Å“All right, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got an Amazon. Who else was involved?Ã¢â‚¬
Lavender was suddenly faced with a quandary. Her feud with Masha-la did not extend to the rest of the band, and she felt from this man that he would mete out stern justice to her comrades if they became his prisoners. Her eyes slid away as she said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly remember their namesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬
Captain DenosÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ brows knit as he heard the false note in the womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s answer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“All right, so whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their description?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Well, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t exactly remember what they looked likeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬
The Khorsarian captain, being an intelligent man, knew a lie when he heard it. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see. Then let me explain this to you. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to go over your story again, and again, and again; and we will keep going over it until I start hearing some answers that make sense. Is that clear?Ã¢â‚¬
Lavender looked into the manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mind, and saw iron will and determination. She would not be getting out of this one.
The next morning, the band crossed the border into Khorsar. They were twenty miles in before they spotted the approach of horsemen on the road. The ElfÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keen eyes revealed it to be two hundred men, a full company of light cavalry, with light chainmail, sabers, and horsebows.
The band decided to move off the roadway, to allow the men to pass. They were surprised when the horsemen halted some hundred yards out and spread out in a crescent about them. Bows were readied, and arrows nocked. One of the horsemen produced a conical horn and shouted through it. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Put your weapons on the ground. Put your hands on your head. Remain where you are. Do not move, or you will be killed.Ã¢â‚¬
The band looked at each other in amazement. Faced with overwhelming odds, they could only cooperate and hope for the best. A dozen riders approached and dismounted.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hi guys,Ã¢â‚¬ said a cheerful corporal. Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry, this is just procedure.Ã¢â‚¬ His men produced manacles, and the band was handcuffed with their hands behind their backs. Rurik and Holix exchanged glances, in the hopes that one or the other might be able to escape their bonds if circumstances allowed. The corporal turned to the Elf.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ah, you must be the wizard! Sorry about this, but again, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just procedure.Ã¢â‚¬ With that, a gag was stuffed into SethÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mouth and tied securely. The band was then led away to holding cells, with their bonds still in place. Separated from each other, they were forced to wait until morning for questioning.
The first to be called in was Seth Nightstar. Freed of his gag, he sat before the Khorsarian captain. The man spoke. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Your name?Ã¢â‚¬
The Elf saw no reason to lie. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Seth Nightstar.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You came from Morvaen, yes?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You crossed the River of Black Dreams at JenkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ferry, yes?Ã¢â‚¬
Seth suppressed a start. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes, I did.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What happened there?Ã¢â‚¬
The Elf stonewalled. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What did you see?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see anything.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What did you hear?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hear anything.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So let me get this straight. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re an Elf. You can see a fly at hundred paces in the dark, and hear the footfall of a cat, but you didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see or hear anything. Is that right?Ã¢â‚¬
The captainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eyebrow rose in skepticism. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sergeant, gag him again and take him back.Ã¢â‚¬
The next was Bill Devareaux. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It must have been bandits,Ã¢â‚¬ he suggested.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes. The bandits must have killed the real ferry people and taken their place. Whey else would they have attacked us?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You were attacked by the ferry people?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, yes. They shot our priest, and so we defended ourselves. It was terrible, but we were fighting for our lives.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see. Bandits. Thank you. Sergeant, take him back to his cell.Ã¢â‚¬
George Devareux gave a similar story to that of his brother, proving that brothers do often think alike. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think the ferry men were robbing travelers. They must have thought we were rich enough to rob.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They tried to rob you?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, yes, certainly. Ã¢â‚¬ËœYour money or your lives,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ the ferry captain said. He killed our priest, to show he meant business. We had to fight or die.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thank you. Sergeant?Ã¢â‚¬
Bringing in the Dwarf, the Khorsarian captain tried a different tactic. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already talked to your friends, and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve pretty much given us the whole story. We just need to confirm a few details.Ã¢â‚¬
Nervously, Rurik looked around. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Like what?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worry,Ã¢â‚¬ assured the captain. Ã¢â‚¬Å“YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re in the clear. We just need to confirm about the others.Ã¢â‚¬
Relieved, the Dwarf smile happily. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, well, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Bill and George killed the courier; Gunther killed the ferry captain; Seth and IÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ that is, Seth and Holix killed the crossbowmen on the shore, and I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about it.Ã¢â‚¬
The captain looked to his notes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What about the ferry captainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assistant?Ã¢â‚¬
Rurik paused a moment in thought. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, yeah, him! You know, I think he just drowned!Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Interesting. Now, whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s this about the Amazon and the woman, Lavender?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, those two. Masha-la dove into the water after the courierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sword. After we got his pouch open, she came up out of the water and stabbed Lavender in the back with the very same saber. Lavender jumped on her horse and rode off like a bat out of hell, and Masha-la started spouting something about Lav trying to drown her.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This woman, Lavender Kinfell, tried to drown the Amazon?Ã¢â‚¬
The Dwarf shrugged his shoulders. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know. SheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a psychic, after all, so anythingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s possible.Ã¢â‚¬
The captain scribbled a few more notes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why were you traveling this way in the first place?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We were hired to find the Cup of, umÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ the Cup of the, um, Elders. EldersÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ No, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not right. The Cup of the Ancients. Yeah, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it!Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Cup of the Ancients. Got it. Who hired you?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This old man, who turned out to be the chamberlain for Baron Aldren of Morvaen.Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I see. Did he say why he wanted the Cup?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Um, yeah, he did. Um, he said, um, he said it was to cure Baron Aldren of his madness. We had to bring the Cup back before the end of the year, and we werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t supposed to tell anyoneÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬ The Dwarf looked up in dismay. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell anyone, will you?Ã¢â‚¬
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oh, no, not to worryÃ¢â‚¬ the Khorsarian answered. Ã¢â‚¬Å“MumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the word.Ã¢â‚¬
The Dwarf seemed relieved. The captain smiled. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thank you very much. Sergeant, take him back, please.Ã¢â‚¬
Captain Denos cross-examined the rest a few more times to correct any omissions in his notes, and at length wrote out his findings to his superiors. The civil authorities of Khorsar concluded that the best solution was extradition of the offenders to Morvaen. The prisoners were brought to Kurdovod, the nearest city in Morvaen to JenkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ferry, there to stand trial for mass murder.
Captain Denos appeared at the trial to give his account of the arrest and questioning. The surviving ferrymen, the crank operators from the eastern shore, were called as witnesses.
At one point during the trial, the Kobbit, Holix Brambletree, plaintively whined, Ã¢â‚¬Å“But, but, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually kill anyone!Ã¢â‚¬
The judge looked down upon the Kobbit with contempt. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But you were part and parcel to the band that did, and as such you are as guilty as they.Ã¢â‚¬
Due to mitigating circumstances, and, some felt, large bribes, Rurik, Masha-la, and Lavender were each given a sentence of forty years hard labor. The others were sentenced to public impalement in the town square.
The Massacre at JenkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ferry would remain a tale to frighten small children for years to come.
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Make Mine Master Maze!
9 Years ago
I'm new here and to using DF products.
My son (age 30) has to be the worst player there is! First my friends and I try to teach him the basics. This is a bit hard for me at first, ( old school - been playing for 30+ years, only started using core rule 3.0 2 years ago and 3.5 about 2 monthes ago ). Anyway, we get him going. Now he plays a female Barbarian, during an outting the following has happened to him:
In the icy barran of the North everyone is resting with 1 guard posted. Before he lays down for the night I ask him what his chaacter is going to do? ( I'm checking to see if he's going to maintain his gear or not ). he says " I go to sleep" I ask " with all your gear on, on the cold icy ground?" he says " I take ALL my gear off ", I say 'Ok, anything else?" No comes his reply. About 3Ã‚Â½ hours into the rest the guard sound an alarm! My son says " I jump up run outside to see what is going on, seeing the band of Kobolds I attack! ". Hmmm, You attack?, Yes, with what? my two swords! Hmm, would they be the swords that are laying back in the tent with the rest of your gear?
Your party takes minor damage due to the distraction you caused by running out from the tent TOTAL NAKED!
Another time he asked how his swords got broke! It seems that after about a week an a half of fighting to get to the rescue point that the wear and tear on his swords was just to much and they broke. Maintenance is everthing!
I don't know maybe I'm just to hard! As a DM I use everything in my games, the weather, if you miss with your attack you have a chance of dropping your weapon, hitting a close by party member, taking a chuck out of the wall/cavern.
He's starting to catch on, still has no imagination though, Thats why I started getting the DF sets, but now I have to keep telling him that he CAN"T SEE those Orc on the other side of the cave! Why?, Because thats about 70 -80 feet away and the torch you're holding only gives you about 30 feet of sight!
Oh, well and the game goes on! :)
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9 Years ago
Fizban, (Or is that Fizbin...?...<Chuckle>...)
Welcome to the Boards, And to The Awe Inspiring Friend to All GMs....<Drum-roll>...DF!!!!...<Applause>... Anyway, Sounds Like Your Son wil "Get it" Eventually, The Fact that He is Willing to Play a Character of another Gender this Early in His Career Says a lot, in my Less than Humble Opinion, About his Grsp of the Idea that Role-play is a Seperation of Player and Character...
As to Using Everything possible in the World Around the Characters to Further the Story Telling I am Right there With You, Though I Reserve Slipping in the Mud and Taking Chunks out of Trees for Really Low or Fumbled Rolls... (I Figure Any Miss by Less than six or so Probably Hit but was Deflected, or Lacked Sufficient Power to Connect Solidly)... Most Everything Else I Treat as a Flat out Failure to Hit the Target... The Exception Being Fumbles (Rolls of 1), and Depending on the Circumstances maybe 2-3 as well...
As to the Orcs Down the Hall... Well, that has Been an Ongoing Discussion here Pretty Much from the Begining... The Question of Meta-gaming becomes more Tangible with DF because there is a Certain amount of Set Up Time involved if You Build as You Go, And this Can Slow things Down... However Placing anything on the Table before the Party Encounters it can be Trouble Especially For New Players...
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"To Succeed We Attack!"
9 Years ago
Now lets see if I can tell this right, I was at the hospital when it took place!
MY son and friend decided to play out a scenario while redesigning an DF layout. Using room & passage set plus cavernous passage set the play went something like this:
The party materiazed in the center of a room with a pentigram in the middle of the floor. The party, A Barbarian, Dwarf fighter, Palidin, Ranger, Rogue and Wizard look around the room, but some how fail to notice anything! (hmm what's this jewel encrusted magic book over in the corner ?) The Barbarian (My son) leaves the room through the door to the west. Ventures stright ahead agnoring the doors to the North and south in the passageway. ( two store rooms, north = treasure, south = supplies, grain, rations and so on ) Traveling stright west he comes to a ravine about 40' across with a skeleton party on the other side! Asked what do you do? He says
The reply " You attack the skeletons on the other side of the 40' ravine with your long sword, Hmm sorry not long enough!' The skeletons throw their spears at you! He replys I pick up the spears and toss them back at the skeletons. Friends reply " You pick up the spears that are NOT broken and throw them at the skeletons, My son then remembers that he was other party members and says " I have the Wizard cast a Fireball at the skeletons " reply what level is your wizard?He's responce Level
! My friend doing some quick calulations ( fireball = 30" + 1"/level ) says " Your wizard casts a
at the skeletons 40 -50 ' away. the fireball wipes out the skeletons, the rogue, dwarf fighter, ranger,
, badly burns the wizard and singes the Palidin with the back wash caused.
My oh My! well I hope he'll get how to play someday! :)
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