THE GUILDHALL COMPOUND IN EVERMOORE
Tyrin had been working as a prison guard for a few years, and had seen many criminals caught by Evermoore. But Tyrin had never been given such an odd set of instructions. He was specifically supposed to stand front in the cell with this criminal, and stab him with this wooden staff every time the criminal tried to escape “through the prison bars.” At first, the burly Asgarn was excited to inflict some pain on this criminal, but the creepy jerk didn’t even attempt once.
Tyrin had his fair share of criminals he loved treating poorly. Starve them, watch them grow dehydrated, watch the loneliness and insanity set in. But this one was different. This “Phage” just sat there and stared at Tyrin. Watching his every move. Occasionally this dangerous criminal would sleep. Tyrin was growing uncomfortable. He had been in custody for two days and didn’t once ask for water or food. Why wasn’t he breaking? Usually these evil criminals were begging for those life necessities.
Tyrin decided to break the silence. “Whats wrong with you. Aren’t you thirsty or hungry?” Phage simply stared back without saying a single word. Tyrin tried again, “I said whats wrong with you! Hey! Say something!”
After a few more uncomfortable minutes, Phage finally spoke, “I’m just having trouble figuring something out.” Phage’s voice was dry and hoarse. Good. He was clearly dehydrated. Tyrin waited. “Well! Go on!”
Another few uncomfortable minutes passed. Phage spoke again, again his voice dry and hoarse, “The way you hold yourself tells me that you’re the oldest in the family. But your choice of words clearly shows that you were the bottom of the pecking order. Was it your parents that allowed your mistreatment, or was it your siblings that pushed you around?”
Tyrin froze. It was the second one. Something was wrong with this man. How did he get that information from staring? Could he read minds?
“What makes you think that? You’re wrong!”
Phage went back to staring. Tyrin felt a rage building in him. “I said you’re wrong! Hey! Say something!” Tyrin went to poke Phage with the staff, but the staff fell short of the cultist by a few inches. He could probbaly reach him if he put his arm in the cell, but Tyrin wasn’t foolish. That was probably how this criminal was going to escape his obliteration. That’s all this was! An escape attempt!
“You’re just trying to escape!”
Phage nodded. “I understand. Siblings can be difficult to grow up with. You can’t quite choose your family as easily as your friends.”
Tyrin broke out in a sweat. “You’re not escaping.”
Phage responded with a quiet, “You’re right.”
Again, the two of them sat in silence. Tyrin broke the silence after a few minutes again, “Did you have siblings?” Phage nodded no, “I can’t imagine what it’s like, but I’d be willing to listen.”
The jailer knew this was a bad idea. He shouldn’t talk to this man. Phage was clearly dangerous and trying to get something.
An hour passed, and Tyrin couldn’t get his childhood off of his mind. The teasing and bullying from his siblings. How quickly they started treating him better once they found that their weak older brother was arcane. He became a warrior because he wanted to feel strong, but he hated admitting that to himself.
Phage spoke again with his dry voice, “You seem troubled.”
Tyrin sighed. “It’s just…. I have to be strong. I’m an Asgarn warrior….”
A few hours later, Tyrin was sitting in front of the cell telling Phage about his life. Phage sat close to the bars, eating a hearty stew and sipping from a tankard of water that Tyrin had brought him and listened to the Asgarn. A mana mirror sat on the floor in front of Phage.
CLARIFY: Feel free to FB message me to RP with Phage. The purpose is to allow characters to ask questions, seek closure, and interact with Phage before Evermoore carries out his sentence.
MARSHAL SHERMAN WEISS ENJOYING HIS NEW BATHTUB IN HOLT
SUMMARY: A loose end is tied up. Hired Ninjas on their way to Evermoore to collect the deeds and orders!
DRAMATIZATION: Marshal Sherman Weiss lay soaking in his ornate bathtub made of white porcelain with its etched inlay of solid gold. The water was warm and full of bubbles. The music box played soft instrumental music. He loved his new bathroom. He loved his new castle. Life was good.
Weiss had decided to spend a few extra days at home because he wasn’t really needed at the camp. King Aiden was still cowering in the mountains. He’d not heard from that slippery lawyer, but that probably meant the snake was busy collecting deeds. Soon they would have enough property to challenge the Queen of the Dale. Life was so good.
He sighed contently. The small disturbance in the camp last Saturday was quickly addressed. Some entertainers had refused to perform and then caused a ruckus at one of the exit towers. They got away, but they were being hunted down and interrogated in the flames of Eldin. Life was so very good, and it was only going to get better.
Nine of his personal guard had been killed, and thieves had stolen his box of gold, but his had adjunct reported nothing else was missing. The boxes with the deeds and orders were still on his desk so there was really nothing to worry about. Gold could be replaced; there was plenty more gold where that came from. The orders and deeds, well they were dangerous, and probably worth more than the gold. Good thing those thieves were so stupid. Probably couldn’t even read.
Weiss did not hear the slight scuffing sound made by one of the four black clad figures that climbed in through his window. Their jackets and leggings fit close to their bodies tied with long wrappings of cloth. Their heads were hooded and wrappings covered their faces. Their boots were supple black leather with thin soles to aid in climbing. Each wore a curved sword in a scabbard on his back.
If Weiss had seen the black-clad figures, he would have been terrified. He would have recognized them immediately as a sect of elite Shorian assassins, deadly mercenaries who sold their semi-mystical skills to the highest bidder. Weiss though, had his eyes closed and did not see death creeping toward him. Instead, he floated contentedly in his tub, dreaming of the riches he would amass when Holt unified all the human nations and reordered the world with the strength of Eldin.
The four Shorian assassins crossed the bathroom on tiptoes, moving with perfect stealth and exacting precision. They crept to the tub. One grabbed Weiss’s right hand; the other grabbed his left hand. The third covered Weiss’s mouth with a hand and the last pinned his feet to the bottom of the tub. Weiss struggled, but could not move. The two figures holding Weiss’s hands each pulled out a knife and opened the veins on his wrists with deft practiced motions. The assassins held Weiss until he died.
The assassins waited an hour, just to be sure no one came to restore the Marshal. Then, the one whose hand had covered Weiss’s mouth removed a sharply-pointed throwing star from a pocket in his wrappings and laid the star on the floor next to the window to appear as if it was dropped.
The black-clad intruder who had held the Marshal’s legs stared at the throwing star for a long moment.
“Do you have a problem with our assignment?” asked the one who had placed the star.
“Placing that may mean war between Holt and Shoria,” replied the one.
“Our loyalty belongs to the highest bidder,” the intruder replied firmly.
“A war profits us,” added the intruder who had cut the Marshal’s right wrist.
The four Shorian assassins climbed out the window, but left it open letting in the freezing air so whoever found the body would think it odd that the window was open. They climbed down the tower rock face making sure to leave footprints at the base. For good measure, one of the one’s who cut Weiss’s wrists dropped a bloody knife on the ground near the window. It was slightly curved in the fashion of Shoria.
Weiss was long dead by the time his wife found him floating in the bathtub. He was not a heroic soul, and neither the tears of his wife and children or the cleric’s prayers to Eldin could not stop his spirit from sliding into the Void.
The constable conducted an investigation and predictably concluded that Shorian assassins had murdered the Marshal. The story was carried in the newspapers of Holt the next day, and immediate thereafter it spread like a wildfire through the nation, a wildfire fanned by the passionate homilies of priests of Eldin who spoke of the deceit of Shoria, the violence of Asgarn, and the apathy of Kell.
The strangest part of the investigation was that when the constable followed the tracks of the four assassins, they did not travel north to Shoria as he expected. Instead the tracks of the Shorian assassins went southwest, toward the East Pass, heading toward the town of Evermoore. . .
SHERIFF MILTON KRAPE IN AUDIENCE WITH KING JUSTIN OF HOLT
SUMMARY: The first in a series of reactions to Evermoore’s continued support of allowing the Asgarn raiders to go home in exchange for the safe return of Princess Arianna of the Dale and Mathias of Iron Keep in Holt. The focus is on Holt. I know it’s long, but it is setting the stage for the politics that are coming. Please read carefully because the fate of the the Five Kingdoms and the lives of a few of our favorite characters are in your hands.
DRAMATIZATION: Sheriff Milton Krape waited in the wide hall outside of King Justin’s Council Chambers. He could hear voices speaking behind the double doors. He could not make out the words, but men and women were laughing. He wanted to move closer to the ornate doors gilded in gold and set with sparking rubies in the form of a blood red cross, but the pair of royal guards flanking them would certainly object to his eavesdropping.
The two guards, tall women, both taller than Krape stood like statues wearing gilded plate armor polished to an immaculate sheen. The holy cross of Eldin shone on their pure white surcoats, and Krape wondered if the thread was somehow enchanted. The guards held pole arms along their sides and stared straight ahead with unblinking eyes.
As Krape waited, he remembered the fury of his commander, Marshall Miles Strand, when he returned to Cross Tower keep after the Evermoore Market Day. He had went to the dance at the Inn hoping to meet Mriyeh Clawbright and speak of Eldin and other matters so it was almost three hours past midnight when he finally stumbled in a little drunk and totally exhausted.
Apparently, Strand had been waiting up so he was ushered before the furious Commander of Cross Tower Keep. He reported his failure as briefly as possible.
“I was unable to convince the Guildmasters of Evermoore to reverse their position,” Krape had told him. “They will not even attempt to prosecute any of the Asgarn raiders as war criminals. They are in favor of allowing the Asgrans passage to the sea in exchange for the safe return of the hostages, Princes Arianna and Mathias of the Iron Keep.”
“You have failed me again!” Strand had shook with rage. “I came here to Evermoore in the hopes of gaining glory, but everything my King has asked of me has been fumbled by the incompetents around me. You are the worst disappointment of all. The Highland debacle of the spring, now this failure, is there no end to your folly? Tomorrow you will go back to cleaning the pigpens! At least your skills as a Ranger will be useful there.”
The remarks were cutting and Krape left his commanders office in great despair, but as it turned out, he did not return to mucking out the pigsties. He was summoned back to Strand’s office before dawn the next morning. The Commander of Cross Tower Keep looked as if he had not slept the whole night. Krape took small satisfaction in that fact that in this, his commander’s life was at least as miserable as his own.
Strand had spoken through clenched teeth. Barely able to control his rage, he said, “I informed my superiors of your blundering, and his majesty has ordered you be sent immediately to Holt. King Justin desires to hear your observations first hand.” Strand slapped his desk in frustration. “You get to meet our beloved King while my career stumbles from your folly. Maybe there will be justice, and you’ll be executed for incompetence after you give your report.”
And so Krape mounted his horse and rode with all possible haste to meet King Justin in the great city of Dresden. He had no trouble on the road. A few sneers from a pair of drunk orcs at a roadside tavern who tried to pick a fight. They obviously mistook him for a common courier, and he moved on to seek lodgings elsewhere. The incident that bothered him the most was the female elf, baby in her arms, who hid behind a tree as he rode past. He wanted to stop and ask if the Blood Cross of Eldin caused her fear, or if she was wary of all travellers in the same way. He feared the truth of her answer so he rode on by without giving sign that he had notice her.
After that it was only another few hours to the border, and then he was in his beloved land of Holt, and here he stood listening to the boisterous laughter coming from behind the door, wondering how his King could be so joyous during a time of such great peril for their nation and the world.
The ornate doors opened, and Krape was admitted to King’s Justin’s council chambers. A stooped old scribe led him toward the center of the wide circular room with a high domed ceiling painted to look as if one gazed up at the open sky to see angels of Eldin looking down. The angels held swords with silver blades and white wings grew from their backs. High stained glass windows depicting scenes of battle spaced evenly around the room admitted shafts of colored daylight. Banners of great victories hung on the wall space between the windows.
King Justin lounged on a modest wooden throne, sitting with his feet up on a cushioned ottoman and holding a pewter goblet in this hand. He drank deeply from the cup and then set it down on a side table next to the throne.
Nine men sat in chairs positioned in a half circle around him. To the King’s right sat Amall Kolton, the High priest of the Church of Eldin, and four other priests Krape did not recognizance. To the King’s left sat Rickard Volny, the First Knight of the Order of Eldin, with three other soldiers. The soldier furthest from the King was Marshal Shermon Wiess. Krape had worked briefly with the Marshal during the Inverness pacification. That was more than a decade ago, and he wondered if the man remembered him.
There were also half a dozen chairs to Krape’s right and left. The ones on the right held two fur clad people. What were the Ancient Path doing here? One of the primitives was an old woman, small of stature, grey of hair, with wrinkled skin, hawk-like eyes, and a nose more fitting for a raptor’s beak, but her true ugliness came from the sneer on her face. Standing behind the woman was a massive bare chested brute filled with battle scars. A lizard skull served as his helmet and smaller skulls laced together into a mantel of bone protected his shoulders. The guard had no weapons, because arms were not permitted in the presence of the King. Krape had surrendered his own sword and dagger at the base of the tower. As a Guildsman, he could have kept his weapons, but he gave them in out of respect.
The group of chairs on the other side of the chamber were occupied by two people as well. The first was a stunning woman around Krape’s own age. She wore a lovely dress of burgundy velvet covered on the torso with a tightly laced black bodice. A burgundy top hat adorned her head. She smiled as their eyes met holding his gaze. Was she a representative from Coventry? She had the bearing of an ambassador, but the cold and calculating eyes of a criminal. Krape had her marked, and he looked away.
The last outsider in the room was a middle-aged man with a big pot belly. His blue and white doublet marked him as being from Andor. The man appeared to have drunk too much wine. He was red-faced and still laughing at something the woman had whispered to him.
The scribe stopped in the center of the room and announced, “Sheriff Milton Krape.”
Krape dropped down onto one knee and lowered his gaze to the ground as required when greeting the King of Holt. He remained in that position until King Justin ordered him to rise. The scribe moved away to join a pair of younger scribes at a long writing desk back by the door.
Justin smiled broadly. “My father, Eldin bless his soul, awarded the Golden Scales of Justice to a Sheriff Milton Krape during the Inverness Rebellion. Are you this man?”
“I am,” Krape replied, “And the Scales are my most treasured possession.”
“Then be at ease, Sheriff,” said Justin in a camaraderie tone, as he left his throne coming down to stand next to him. “You were a hero of Inverness.”
Krape was taken off guard by the praise. He had come prepared to receive censor.
“Your arrest record at Inverness was astounding,” continued the King. “I remember my father talking about your accomplishments. Marshal Wiess has also told me that you scouted for him for eleven months during his campaign to pacify northern Inverness. He thinks very highly of your work.”
Krape glanced over to Marshal Weiss and the older man nodded his head, his wide mustache bobbing with the motion. Krape did not enjoy working for the army, but Weiss was an effective commander who had treated him fairly.
“Your work since the end of the Inverness rebellion has been equally effective. There are very few criminals remaining from that conflict thanks to you efforts. I understand that just last year you captured and executed Logy McCallick near Evermoore. You are a credit to Holt and to Guildhall.”
Krape’s heart swelled with pride that King Justin would even bother to look at his arrest record.
“I have reprimanded your superior for his treatment of you. The Guildsmen of Evermoore have been a thorn in my side for many years. One day Evermoore will make a mistake, and I’ll have legal action to crush them, just as I did to the Inn at Inverness, but until that time we’ll both have to do the best we can. You understand what I’m saying?”
“Your majesty,” Krape replied.
“Excellent,” The King smiled warmly and Krape felt the full power of the man’s charisma. There was something about Justin that made men want to die for him, Krape felt the pull of it now. “Tell me what happened in Evermoore.”
“This is my understanding,” Krape explained. “The Guildsmen of Evermoore refused to the see the Asgarn situation as requiring the prosecution of individuals under the law. Instead, they choose to view the conflict as an action between nations where soldiers are not held accountable for their actions, ostensibly because they were just following orders.
“Since all the known Asgarn leaders were killed in the East Pass, the Guildmasters of Evermoore felt there was no reason to escalate the conflict in an attempt to punish soldiers who may or may not have committed war crimes. The Guildmasters continue to recommend the Asgarns be allowed to peacefully leave the continent in exchange for the peaceful release of Princes Arianna and Mathis of Iron Keep.”
The King shook his head. “Guildhall has become the biggest lie of the Age of Order. They’re quick to censor me. Quick to kill my soldiers, but they will let a horde of murdering Asgarns leave the continent with all their plunder. Gunther was an impatient fool, but his cause to destroy Guildhall and free the world from its tyranny was a noble endeavor.”
Justin looked expectantly at Krape, but Krape did not agree. Guildhall had its shortcomings only because it was a social institution of people. All people are imperfect, all people make mistakes, but the noble dream of Guildhall was not wrong. Eldin had fought to create Guildhall. Krape believed in Eldin and as importantly he believed in Guildhall, so he said, “To have a fair and impartial unifying force of law in a world to maintain peace between nations is a good thing.”
Justin snorted in laughter, and he was joined by many in the room. “Sheriff, if Guildhall was fair and impartial we would embrace the institution, but open your eyes. Guildhall is a home for gluttons. It is infiltrated with comedians, cultists, and petty people. Guildsmen break their oaths whenever convenient and they use their laws against each other and the world for selfish reasons. This dream of Guildhall is only a memory. Those noble people who founded the Age of Order, they are all dead and gone and those who remain in this Age do not understand the values of Guildhall.”
As the King spoke, Krape could feel the pull of Justin’s charisma. The logic of behind the words had the solemn ring of truth. He had seen with his own eyes the cracks in the foundation of Guildhall. He had met Guildsmen who fell short of the ideals of justice and right. His King was not wrong, but he could not yet accept that his King was right, so he remained silent.
“Do you have anything to add to your report?” asked the King.
“Only that Giles Proctor secured the position of Warrior Guildmaster to aid our cause and worked tirelessly to see justice done. He refused any monetary compensation.”
“I remember him,” Justin said. “He swore fealty to me at my coronation. Giles, the head of house Proctor.” The King turned away from Krape, “Scribe, have my stable master select a fine war horse and send the beast to House Proctor as a token of my appreciation. Include a full set of gilded barding of the highest quality.”
Justin sat on his throne. “I am a fair man. I think I have a strong sense of justice and right.” All his councilors agreed. “I understand that the Queen of the Dale wants peace. I want peace too, but I want a permanent peace. I don’t want to fight Asgarn in another five years, and you know we will. How many times will history repeat itself? I weary of Asgarns raiding the Five Kingdoms.”
“The Dale may forgive and forget, but Holt will not. Holt soldiers died during the war. The Iron Cross suffered the most. In fact, all of their leader’s sons would have been slaughtered, if not, for Roland Godfrey who found the site of the battle and led a timely rescue. These deaths must be answered. That is why the Holt army will stay in the field. Scribe please read my proposal.”
The scribe stepped forward and began reading. “From the Nation of Holt: All Asagrn leaders must make a formal surrender and each will give an oral apology to officials of the Five Kingdoms and a pledge never to raid again. Holt will be permitted to conduct lawful investigations and prosecute any Asgarns who are guilty of war crimes. All gold and other items of value looted from the Dale will be placed into Holt custody to be distributed as reparations to the Five Kingdoms. Princess Arianna of the Dale and Mathias of Iron Keep will be freed without harm. If these conditions are met, each Asgarn not guilt of war crimes will be permitted to retain one weapon for personal defense and be allowed to leave to continent.”
“What do you think of this, Sheriff?” Justin asked.
“Your majesty I think those are fair terms and any reasonable, law-abiding person would accept them, but I have a concern. If the Asgarns refuse, Princess Arianna and Mathias of Iron Keep would be in great danger. Neither are likely to have stable spirits and the Guildmasters of Evermoore are correct that the lineage of the Dale must be protected to maintain national stability. To do otherwise would endanger the good order of the realm.”
“Sheriff Krape, I am glad to hear you express this concern. I was hoping you would because I want you to can carry my ultimatum to the Asgarn. As a Guildsman, you will have the protections of Guildhall and the weight of its word. You will work with my generals to ensure the peaceful administration of justice.”
“Your majesty, you do me great honor, but I’m not an ambassador. I’m a sheriff. Certainly you have a more appropriate person.”
“You have spent your life routing out criminals and ensuring they face justice. Your zealousness was legendary in Inverness. If you bring that same determination to this situation, I am sure that you will succeed beyond my expectations.”
Was there sarcasm in the King’s voice? Krape had always been an observant person, that was the thing that made him a good sheriff. He could read people, catch aspects of their body language, a clench of the jaw, an aversion of the eyes, a shift of weight. Everyone had subtle, little tells that told the truth even when their voices lied so well. The speech of King Justin’s body, the subtle physical cues, did not match the speech of his mouth. His King was hiding something.
Krape glanced around the room. The Coventry ambassador lounged in her chair. She was every bit the predator. She met his gaze and offered a sly smile. It was the smile of victory. The kind of smile a cat would offer a mouse just before swallowing it.
The Andorian, on the other hand, would not meet his eyes. Was the man hiding something? Yes, the man was ashamed. He was here under orders doing something that he really didn’t want to do. He was drinking over much to offset his true feelings.
The woman of the ancient path was also watching him, her wrinkled face was unreadable, but that could mean anything or could it. The warrior shook with nervous energy, like a clock spring wound up too tight and ready to explode. He was eager to go somewhere, eager to do something.
The soldiers all looked happy, but generals like this are always happy when there is possibility of battle. Krape knew when he delivered his message to Aiden, there was a very good chance that the Asgarns would choose war. They were a proud people with a culture where death in battle was seen as a great honor.
Krape might have overlooked all of the other reactions, but the reaction of the priest of Eldin is what finally made him decide his course of action. Amall Kolton, High Priest of the Order of Eldin, smiled so benignly, that Krape could not overlook the malice behind the facade.
Mriyeh pride Clawbright had opened his eyes to the hypocrisy of his church. There was something wrong with the recent interpretations of the Word of Eldin and in the High Priest’s simple expression, Krape knew there was something wrong in this room. Some terrible agreement had been reached before he entered, and it was all going to occur. He was not just a messenger with the letter; he was the match to the bonfire.
Krape only vaguely remembered receiving the courier package to bring to the Asgarns, and then being dismissed by the King. He did not remember getting his weapon back from the guards, leaving the tower, or even his exit from the city. He found himself riding south and west toward the Forlorn Mountains, numb with dread and torn between his oaths.
As Sheriff Milton Krape left the lands of Holt, he took out his mana mirror and began to type to Mayor Murkon Whitetail, “Mayor, I need to speak with the Guildmasters of Evermoore about a very important development. I would like to use the mana mirror messenger for our conversation. Can you set up a group with you, the Guildmasters, and myself.”
I’ve told many of you Mystic Realms will be trying new ways to make the world of Guildhall and your play experience more fulfilling. Changes have been written into our core rulebook, writers guide and our club administration manual that try an improve roleplaying and writing and player participation in plot.
Please be patient as the kinks are worked out. You will like most; you will hate one or two. Most will work; some are new and novel ideas pushing the boundaries of LARP that may need further development. Either way anything that turns out to be less than successful we will continue to try and fix.
Thirty-something years ago I had my friends playing with broomsticks and balls of newspaper as my premier LARP system. Today our system in one of the best designed in the world, because we keep trying new things and pushing the boundaries of game possibility because our imaginations knows no bounds.
We’re always exploring new ways of interacting using modern technology, just like the East Pass War last spring or the development of the Dale plot. Some methods will involve everyone, some will involve only those who make connections with plot characters during play, and some will involve the Guildmasters.
This story will be developed out-of-play in a mana mirror discussion over the next few days with the Guildmasters and the Mayor. The Guildmasters were elected to positions where they speak with the voice of the community. If non-guildmasters want to contribute to the story you should message your guildmasters and they will bring your contributions to light.
ISLE OF ASGARN
SUMMARY: Some tribes of the Ancient Path have gathered to wage war on the Asgarn civilians in an effort to claim the island for their own.
DRAMATIZATION: Ingimarra, Wizard of Guildhall and the daughter of dead King Harjen, crawled with her chest and belly against the rocky rim of the ancient volcano. Above her smoke rose from the crater and the sulfurous sink was almost overpowering. The ground rumbled slightly as gasses vented from the rock in jets of hissing steam.
The brothers, Kettil and Kolr, crawled up the rocky slope along on either side of her. Both were huge, hulking, Warriors of Guildhall, with axes and shields and swords and their hair worn in the long braids of an Asgarn hero. Behind them lower down on the ridge was Tofi the Rogue keeping watch and Valr the Cleric whispering prayers to the gods and preparing to drop a healing tap.
“So you think its some kind of secret meeting?” asked Kettil.
“We’ll see,” Ingimarra whispered, trying hard not to breath the sulfurous stink.
“It’s a good place for it,” Kolr commented. “No one would come here unless they had too.”
The trio of Guildsmen reached the top and looked over the rim. Hundreds of Ancient Path followers gathered below in the smoking crater. All assembled had feathers, beads, and bones decorating their furs.
“This is an inter-tribal gathering of chiefs, priests, and champions,” whispered Ingimarra.
“Is that Vynira and Vicaryl,” asked Kolr.
“It is,” Ingimarra answered. The noxious fumes drifting up from the pools of magma were making her eyes water, but she was sure the evil priestess and her brutal son seemed to be the focal point of this meeting.
She heard Kolr curse softly and saw Kettil grip the haft of his ax hard enough to make his knuckles turn white and the veins on his forearms stand out. Vynira and Vicaryl controlled one of the largest tribes of Ancient.
In the glow of the magma pools, Vynira walked up rough carved steps to stand on the top of the boulder. She was a short, wrinkled, old woman who wore feathers and furs. He her son, Vicaryl, waited at the base of the boulder, a bare chested and crossing his arms in a way so thathis muscled rippled. He was a great war leader, a head and a half taller than the average man and the lizard skull he wore as a helmet made him appear even taller. He was rumored to have killed a cave bear with his only his hands.
“This is a major gathering? How could it remain hidden?” whispered Kettil.
“There are no guildsmen down there,” observed Kolr.
They had come here because the Asgarn shore guard had reported seeing hundreds of Ancient Path waiting on a remote beach. Three ships with no national markings arrived and ferried a war leader with a lizard helmet and old priestess to the shore. They new arrivals spoke with the waiting Ancient Path and then the ships spent all night transporting crates to the beach. The ships left and the ancient path moved inland with the crates. Ingimarra and her adventuring party had followed the trail from the beach to investigate. Almost eighty crates some large some small were piled in the center of the crater.
“It is time,” spoke Vynira, her high, hoarse voice echoing. “It is time for us to destroy the Asgarn trespassers.” One of the crates was opened to show gleaming long swords. The next on had spears with long metal heads. The third had shields. “No more will we have to fight with stone and bone. We now have steel weapons and armor.”
“Who would give them those weapons?” asked Tofi who had come up for a look.
"I don't know," Ingimarra replied.
“We always had the advantage of steel against their primitive weapons,” Kolr said. “With our warriors trapped on the continent, this is the doom of our people.”
“We have to do something.” Kettil’s voice was full of anger.
“There are hundreds in the crater and thousands could be waiting on the other side of the volcano,” Tofi said. “Don’t be getting stupid, Kettel.”
“I have to something,” the big warrior voice rose.
Ingimarra laid a hand on his shoulder. “We will do the only thing that can be done. We will warn who ever we can. This will not be the first attack our people have endured. This war is as old as time. We will gather as many ax-men and shield maids as we can. And then we will fight and do our best to survive.”
“And we will pray to our gods,” added Valr, “that our people on the continent can make a speedy journey home.”
SHERIFF MILTON KRAPE MEETS KING AIDEN SKALGI
SUMMARY: Sheriff Krape meets King Aiden, Arianna, and Mathias. They talk options. None look pretty.
DRAMATIZATION: Sheriff Milton Krape waited as his Asgarn escorts talked with the guards on top of the earthen embankment that was ringed with wooden spikes. He could not hear the conversation but they gestured in his direction. After a while, a rough wooden bridge was pushed out over the ditch. They dismounted and Krape led his horse into Aiden’ war camp.
Krape had passed through other camps, but this one was the largest and the most organized. In this camp the raiders, looked up at him sullenly, but made no outbursts. In the other camps the raiders jeered and spit upon him. They made threats and promises to shatter the Five Kingdom’s army. One large Holt woman a tried to kill him, but his guards had interceded.
The guards escorted him to a large tent, where they gave him back his weapons and the other gear they had taken. “Go in.” said the guard that took hold of his horse reins.
Krape buckled on his sword and entered.
King Aiden sat across from Mathis over a game board filled with stones.
“Bad move, Mathias,” said Princess Arianna standing over Mathia’s left shoulder. “He’s going to beat you again.”
Krape took a few steps into the room and they looked in his direction. “I carry a message from the King Justin, Monarch of Holt. My name is Sheriff Milton Krape. I am a Ranger of Guildhall.”
“Welcome.” Aiden leaned back in his chair and waved him over. “Would you like to sit? Are you hungry? We have drink.”
Krape declined all the offers. He wanted to get this business done as quickly as possible. He needed to meet the Guildmasters of Evermoore at the Dainty Damsel Tavern and the ride was going to be long and hard.
Krape bowed to the princess. She smiled and gave him a queenly curtsy. Mathias rose, extending his hand in greeting. “Well met. Aiden tells us that your message is not one conducive to peace.”
Krape sighed. “I’m afraid King Justin intentionally makes demands that are not conducive to peace.”
Aiden laughed, “Your Kings asks me to slit their young throats. That’s what your King asks me to do.”
“Let me give you the letter.”
“Read it for me.”
“The Guildmasters of Evermoore instructed me not to read it out loud and I gave my word I would not.”
Princess Arianna reached out and took the letter, “With your permission,” she said, Krape nodded, and she began reading. “From the Nation of Holt: All Asgarn leaders must make a formal surrender and each will give an oral apology to officials of the Five Kingdoms and a pledge never to raid again. Holt will be permitted to conduct lawful investigations and prosecute any Asgarns who are guilty of war crimes. All gold and other items of value looted from the Dale will be placed into Holt custody to be distributed as reparations to the Five Kingdoms. Princess Arianna of the Dale and Mathias of Iron Keep will be freed without harm. If these conditions are met, each Asgarn not guilt of war crimes will be permitted to retain one weapon for personal defense and be allowed to leave to continent.
She laid the message on the game board. “This is madness. Justin will bleed the realm.”
“That’s what he wants,” Aiden picked up the note. “The Guildmasters of Evermoore have uncovered an insidious plot or so they say.” He shook the note at Krape. “I’m not entirely sure I can trust the Guildmasters of Evermoore. You know their reputation. According to them. King Justin an evil Mastermind convincing Andor and Coventry to help him block my way to the coast so the ancient Ancient Path can slaughter my people with weapons he gave them.”
“You can trust them in this King Aiden,” Krape said. “I am riding to help them gather the evidence that they can use to expose the plot.”
Aiden shook his head. “I don’t care about exposing plots. I want to know when will my army be able to move unhindered.”
“We will gather the evidence on Saturday,” Krape informed them.
“And what will you do with the evidence?” asked Arianna.
“I guess they will expose the plot.” Krape replied.
Arianna shook her head sadly. “You know politics. The nations will want to verify the documents. Ambassadors will want to gather in some neutral place. They’ll look at the documents and decide their veracity. How long will that take? Do you even have a place to meet?”
“My people need protection now,” Aiden said. He placed King Justin’s ultimatum overtop the candle and watched it burn. He dropped the paper and it feel to the floor.
“There is one small hope for my people,” Aiden continued. “One way for me to avoid this war now that events have progressed this far. The Guildmasters of Evermoore may be able to convince Kell and Shoria to renew the treaty of the Northern Confederation. If this happens those nations will be able to defend my people until you can negotiate my passage to the coast. If that happens I may be able to keep my people here in the mountains and prevent the war from continuing.”
“The Guildmasters are trying to do that,” Krape said.
“Well, let us hope they succeed,” Aiden said. “Now be on your way, messenger.”
Krape left the tent, retrieved his horse, and began the long hard ride toward the Dainty Damsel Tavern where he would meet the Guildmasters of Evermoore.
BEHIND THE INN AT EVERMOORE
SUMMARY: Philosopher Po continues his research at the catacombs and confirms again his belief that the Age of Order continues.
DRAMATIZATION: Philosopher Po could feel the necrotic energy leaking up from the catacombs sealed entrance. During the Age of Life the City of Evermoore covered dozens of miles in the Valley of Rainbows. It was the home of the Five Gods, and every nation and people in the world had a section of the city to call their own. Every building was built of colored crystal that shone in the sun and sparkled in the moonlight. Unbridled flows of positive energy ensured that people lived long, healthy, and prosperous lives.
There were no graveyards in Evermoore. Instead, underground crypts were built in every section of the Crystal City. Long stairs led down to crystal shafts carved by mana through the earth. Glowing spheres lighted the way, pleasant incense burned in holders, and the whole place radiated holy energy. Each family had room within the catacomb to bury their loved ones and the bones of many generations rested together, tended with love and care.
Everything changed after the fall of Evermoore. During the Age of Death, the Orcs took control of the shattered city. The war had left corpses everywhere and the Orcs, desperate to removed the bodies, ordered the dead placed into the Catacombs. Human slaves worked day and night under the whip of Orc overseers, who had not time for burial rites. The bodies were piled together, jammed into the tunnels and rooms like refuse.
As the Age of Death worn on the world turned dark. War, slavery, suffering, and plague were the four cornerstones of the Orc Empire. In time necrotic and profane energies leaked down from the surface into the Catacombs, blighting the holy resting place. The brightly glowing lights turned dim and grey, many of the bodies rotted, but many more rose as undead. Zombies, skeleton, wraiths, and worse would leave the catacombs at night, hunting the ruined streets looking to feed on the living.
He had spent the past week investigating the four openings he’d discovered. The trees above him were pleasantly quiet for the Guildsmen had cleared away the packs of mana monkeys that had filled the trees. The poor beasts had been afflicted by their close proximity to the catacombs and had become very violent people eaters. The Guildsman had been forced to climb up into the trees to defeat them. It was a brutal battle with breaking vines and bounding monkeys. He still shivered at the thought.
Po shuddered thinking about what monsters lay below his feet. The catacombs had been sealed up by the Orcs after they had failed to clear them out. The undead are prevent the undead from escaping by tons of rock, but standing over them was still unnerving. When he was on the Council of Lore there had been a vote to clear them out, but it did not carry. Guildhall never had the resources to clean the catacombs, and so the danger remained, at least until now.
Po held the lens up to his eye and gazed through the glass, noting the hash marks etched into form both a vertical and horizontal axis. He placed the flow of necrotic energy in the center of the lens and used the hash marks to make accurate measurements. The results could not be disputed. The stagnant necrotic energy was breaking up. In three or four hundred years the catacombs would drift back into balance and be free of blight. If the undead were cleaned out it could happen sooner. Maybe in a hundred years, or even fifty years the catacombs would be neutral energy flows again. This was great news!
This was a clear example of the positive things that the free flow of order and chaos energy moving in balance together could do. The Guildsmen did a wonderful job last spring when they properly release chaos and order. With chaos ending the stagnation and order ensuring change was not catastrophic, the possibilities of this new age were endless.
These findings continued to reinforce his conclusion the Age of Order was still going strong. The Age of Chaos has not come.
Summary: Resolution to the infiltration of the guild hall compound and the resolution on the charter sponsor of evermoore
TRADE ROAD IN THE FORLORN MOUNTAINS NEAR THE ROASTED DRAGON INN
The cold autumn night, the full moon shining brightly through the barren tree tops. Three hooded figures creep close to the edge of forest and take cover. “Phage requires the supplies from this caravan and the two others transporting the base fours and fives we must block the road” The three men begin to cut down a large tree to block the road. The one hooded figure quiets the other two. “The caravan is approaching get ready” The three men take position around the road ready to attack and take what they have come for. The coachman of the caravan calls out to the guards accompanying him. “we have a downed tree blocking the road be ready while we remove it.” The coachman stops the caravan right in front of the down tree and hops down. As he walks around the rear side of the caravan he is stopped by one of the hooded figures. “This is the caravan from guild hall correct” The coachman in shock nods at the shadowy figure. “good and only 4 guards this will be easy.” The caravan guards take a defensive position around the caravan. Word of invocation can be heard on either side of the road.
THE ISLE OF LORE: CHARTER SPONSOR MEETING ROOM
A Large circular room, on one end of the room is a raised desk at it sits three members of guildhall with name plates in front of each of their seats. Around the outer walls of the room is raised stadium seating. Every seat if full and the room with alive with chatter about the matter at hand and why this meeting was arranged. Outside the room sat a lonely Highlander waiting patiently to be called inside no emotion on his face. The door opens slightly, a head pops out looking towards the man sitting on the bench. “They are ready to see you now sir.” The highlander stands up straightens out his kilt and walks to the door. As he opens it and takes a step inside the room goes silent. He walks to the center of the room and stands on a raised platform. Standing tall with his hands behind his back he looks around the room and then at the three tradesmen sitting in front of him he read their name plates from left to right. Lore Master Steven Hoover, Lore Mistresses Janette Ridly and, Lore Master Geoffrey Camp. These three where very familiar to Jacob as they were the ones who appointed him charter sponsor of evermoore. Lore Master Camp spoke up to break the silence “Lore Master MacGoyle welcome I am glad you could join us on such short notice. As you may or may not be aware we just received a letter from evermoore.” Jacob nods and takes a deep breath. “This involves the situation that was going on at the guild hall compound located in the evermoore area. You know how seriously we take these matters.” Jacob slowly lets out the breath he took. “What does the letter say?”
TRADE ROAD IN THE FORLORN MOUNTAINS NEAR THE ROASTED DRAGON INN
The coachman bleeding on the ground and the guards closing there formation tighter together as the three shavakins close in around them. “when will guildhall learn from their mistakes, they make this easier and easier each time.” The three men begin their words of invocation as an arrow strikes the one in the chest. Clenching at the arrow shaft the shavakin falls to his knees. The back door the the caravan swings open and out comes tradesmen from the order of guildhall. They quickly surround and capture one of the two remaining shavakins and the third one makes a break for the wood line as he passes a large tree he is caught by a ligature as he is lifted off his feet from the force of his sudden stop the rouge swings the man over his shoulder planting him face first on the ground with his knee in his back. One of the order member turn to the coachman invoking the might of guild hall as he touched him, his wounds closed up and he began to gasped for air. “Take all three of them into the caravan tie them up and keep them within an inch of their lives we have a lot of questions from them.”
THE ISLE OF LORE: CHARTER SPONSOR MEETING ROOM
The Lore Mistress Ridly began to read the letter out loud. “The mission was successful on all three locations. They believed all the false information that was feed to them by Lore Master MacGoyle about the transportation of the base to evermoore and the lack of guards that would be attached to each of the caravans. In total we managed to get 9 of his men and have begun the questioning. “She looked up from the piece of paper in front of her. “Congratulations on a job well done the compound is 100% free from anyone who does not belong. We want to than…” Jacob interrupts her before she could finish. “I am happy that this all worked out in the end and I look forward to gaining some valuable information from one of the shavakins we managed to capture. I need you to know this task came at a great cost to myself and effected evermoore in a negative way. You had me make them all believe that I was unaware of the situation at hand and to keep them in the dark about what guildhall was doing about it. I will always trust the system and will always do what is in the best interest of guildhall.” Lore Master Hoover raised his hand to silence Jacob from finishing. “Lore Master MacGoyle we understand your frustration on the matter. As you are aware that we could not have the information about feeding them false knowledge to get the upper hand out. It’s not that we don’t trust the tradesmen in evermoore it that we don’t know who else is listing there. That is the center of the realm and everything ripples out from that location.” Jacob nods the room fills with a moment of complete silence the Jacob continues to speak. “I do but now I must rebuild evermoore’s trust in me. I will not keep this type of information from them again. With that being said, has my budget request been approved?” The Lore Mistress Ridly nods “Yes it has and if this task is successful it will become the new standard for guildhall compounds all over the realm.” Jacob nods turns to leave the platform and begins to walk out of the room. “Lore Master MacGoyle!” Jacob stops and turns to look back at the three “What you have done might turn the tide not only against Phage but all other shavakins that remain in this realm” He turned back around and leaves the room.
EVENTS IN THE DALE. WORLD PLOT.
SUMMARY: Last week the Guildmasters of Evermoore learned that Daisy Dewdney who had offered first and second mortgages to nobles in the Dale to help rebuild after the war was foreclosing on the mortgages of anyone who was behind on payments.
DRAMATIZATION: A people who have suffered so much are suffering again. Why are people so cruel? It hurts me to relate these stories to you.
LORD HOSTER Lord Hoster of the Dale was a gambler and even before the Asgarn invasion of the Dale his farm was in financial trouble. No matter how hard he worked his peasants, no mater how many he beat on the post he erected in front of their sleeping barracks, his land did not produce like others in the Dale. So when that cold bitch Daisy Dewdney sent him the foreclosure notice he had only one option and that option was sitting in front of him.
The lawyer with the Holt accent said, “King Justin is a kind and benevolent leader. He wishes the best for the nobles of the Dale. Please accept this money in your time of need. Pay off your mortgage and remember who saved your land. Soon there will be a vote by nobles in the Dale and perhaps a change of fealty.” The deal was struck and the lawyer left carrying his briefcase.
Lord Holster had never felt that he was a part of Dale society. Sure there were nobles he liked and got along, men like him who gambled and drank, but most Dale nobles were haughty and self-righteous. Harvest festivals and pie eating be damned he liked more exciting forms of entertainment. A man needed to have a few vices to be man.
What did he owe the Queen of the Dale? She never helped him out. The more he thought about it, the less his deal with the lawyer bothered him. He’d still be Dalesmen, but he’d pay taxes to the King of Holt instead of a Queen. It would be just like the Highlands. Besides, the Queen allowed the invasion ot happen, and now she was allowing the Asgran to leave without reparation just to dave he daughter. The king of Holt was going to take care of those Asgarns. He liked the sound of that.
He sighed feeling good for the first time in a while. “Bring up one of the girls from the barracks,” he called out to his butler. He enjoyed listening to the hurried footsteps as the man moved to obey. His farm was his again. His serfs were his again. And honestly, he didn’t mind belonging to King Justin, not one little bit.
LADY MABEL Lady Bess Mabel of the Dale was old and stooped and still wore the black of mourning for he son that was killed fighting the Asgarns last spring. Her grandchildren played in quietly in the other room of her giant castle, but even their laughter could not brighten her day. Children recover quickly from tragedy, it was a strength of being young. She knew that she would never recover, not from the loss of her son and daughter-in-law, or with so many others lost.
Lady Mabel sat with the lawyer from Holt, who told her, “I understand the invasion of the Dale by the Asgran raiders has been hard on the Dale. Many nobles took out mortgages on their land and are now unable to pay. It’s all very legal. Mortgage holders can foreclose and take the property.”
“I can’t lose my families land.” Lady Mabel wept, her shoulders shaking slightly with every soft sob. “It’s been part of our family since the Age of Life.”
She had fled to the capital with her grandchildren, but her son and his wife had stayed behind with the garrison. They died together defending the walls of their castle from the Asgarn raiders. The castle had fell and was looted and when she returned with the children there was so much damage. She needed money to rebuild. Daisy Dewdney seemed like a dream come true, offering low variable rate mortgages, but now a half a year later after rebuilding the rates went up and they were about to lose everything.
“It’s all very legal,” the lawyer repeated. “But the King of Holt is a kind and benevolent person. Your land is on the border. If you would consider changing your fealty the King of Holt could alleviate your financial trouble.”
“I couldn’t,” she told him, but in the end she could. She took the money and promised for the sake of her little grandchildren that she would support the King of Holt, but only if other nobles wanted to separate. As she watched the lawyer leave she thought she’d got the better of the bargain, because she knew in her heart that no noble would ever vote to leave the Dale. It could never happen. Could it? Could a nation ever vote to join another monarch giving up their independence?
Lady Mabel was not a student of history and she never thought of the Highlands and how a vote of nobles at the beginning of the Age of Order had bound one nation to another. She didn’t realize that history goes in cycles and that unless heroes arise people will make the same mistakes over and over again, suffering for their failure to understand human nature. The greed of a few will destroy the lives of the many.
LORD LYSIN “Get him out of my castle!” bellowed Lord Lysin of the Dale, his round face as red as the apples he grew because of his fury.
Lord Lysin's guards grabbed the lawyer from Holt and carried him from the castle, through the streets of the surrounding town, and found the biggest mud puddle outside of the curtain wall to throw him into. The guards walked back to the castle, laughing as the lawyer climbed to his feet, soaked in muddy water. The lawyer muttered bitterly, “Laugh now while you can.”
A week later the sheriff escorted Lord Lysin and his family from their family’s ancient estate. The deed was given over to mortgage holder, Daisy Dewdney, who sold the Lysin property and a dozen other Dale properties at an auction to the highest bidder, a land holding company named “Unification Trust.”
MARSHALL SHERMAN WEISS
Marshall Sherman Weiss had his command pavilion in a small clearing in the center of a wooded glade. He liked his privacy and the quiet. The main army of Holt spread out for miles in all directions. His guard kept most visitors away, but he could hear the commotion outside of his tent and knew that someone was seeking an audience.
As the quartermaster of the Dale Expeditionary from Holt, Weiss was always busy and he hated unannounced interruptions. His day was carefully schedule to maximize what he could accomplish. With a sigh he turned away from his work and greeted his quest.
The lawyer form Holt said, “I’m sorry to bother you, Marshall, but I have another seven deeds. We got the Lysin property.”
“Excellent.” Weiss took the deeds from the lawyer and put them in the locked chest.
“You need to keep those deeds safe,” explained the Lawyer. “We cannot record the deed because someone might realize what we are doing. We have to wait until all the deeds are foreclosed. Then we can sell them to Holt nobles so they’re younger sons will have estates. We’ll record all the deeds at once. Legally, once the deeds are signed and recorded nothing can be done.”
“I understand all this,” Weiss said with some exacerbation. “The Queen will be forced to recognize our young Holts as land holders and nobles of the Dale. They will then initiate a vote to undermine the Queen.”
“So you understand the necessity of securing those unsigned deeds.”
“I do,” said Weiss. “Thank you. Pease see my adjunct for your payment. I am a busy man and must get back to work.”
After the lawyer was gone Weiss summoned his adjunct. “I don’t want any more interruptions. I need to get all this work do so I can go up and visit my wife and kids before this war starts. I want to leave by Thursday and I’ll return on Monday.”
SHERIFF MILTON KRAPE ON THE WAY TO MEET THE ASGARNS
SUMMARY: Just a filler epilogue to let players know that your elected officials the Guildmasters of Evermoore are using their connections as Guildmasters to try and figure out why King Justin would want to see a continuation of the war in the Dale. You'd start hearing of their efforts by now.
DRAMATIZATION: Sheriff Milton Krape rolled up his bedroll and stowed it behind his saddle. He patted his horse and looked up toward the mountains in the distance. He’d gone from a simple sheriff to being messenger for King Justin, the ruler of Holt. He did not like this new development.
All his life he’d seen Law as a simple black and white instrument of Order, Morality, Justice and Right, but recently he’d learned the shortcomings of Law. He still believed the ideal of Law was immutable, but the implementation of actual law was ever changing. Law was an elusive concept these days able to be manipulated by sel-serving people. For example, lawfully he needed to deliver this message to King Aiden Skalgi of the Asagrn raiders, but morally the delivery was a criminal act. Self-serving people who used the law to their own ends were manipulating him. This was wrong and totally against the Spirit of Guildhall and the Age of Order.
Krape knew what the letter contained. Justin had his scribe read the letter: “From the Nation of Holt: All Asagrn leaders must make a formal surrender and each will give an oral apology to officials of the Five Kingdoms and a pledge never to raid again. Holt will be permitted to conduct lawful investigations and prosecute any Asgar