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Blood on the Imperial Highway

Page history last edited by Kirk 3 years, 7 months ago

back to the Index, or to Chapter 51: Seeds of Rebellion

 

Chapter 52

Blood on the Imperial Highway

 


 

9:30 Dragon, 15th Day of Cloudreach - Spring

 

     In the morning, Our Heroes had escorted a large party of refugees to the east from Lothering, past the bandits.  Having done that, we turned west, bound for Redcliffe. Ser Andy had left already, also headed west.

     Five miles along the Imperial Highway, we noticed an farm and inn along the highway, at one of the entrance ramps. A couple dozen lightly-armed men were hanging around there, along with a few prisoners visible in a barred cart. Some of the soldiers were injured (with bandages, splints, crutches and slings, etc.). Another small group of soldiers was walking east, along the highway; they saw us, and waited at the ramp for us to approach. Clearly they, and the men at the farm, were soldiers in Acting Regent Loghain's service.

     We approached to within a few yards, with Bran and Eornan in the lead.

     Bran made a lengthy, boasting speech about the prowess of our group, and presented himself as the Golden Fox, with Eornan as the Elf Lord. Their leader, Raynald, in turn demanded that we submit to their authority and pay 20 silver each -- they were working under orders from the Regent. Neither side was willing to back down, and a battle erupted!

 

Along the Imperial Highway, a few miles west of Lothering.

 

     A couple of their archers landed injury-causing shots on Alpheus and Bran, but our strong warriors and skilled mages quickly defeated the  troops on the highway. With no way to ascend the ramp (it was greased and set aflame), their leader captured by Bran, and unable to avoid our spells, the rest of the soldiers surrendered as Bran demanded. None of the Teryn's men were killed, though their grenadier came close when Alpheus cursed him with Walking Bomb ("foul mage!")

     We confiscated seven fire bombs (carried by Bran), the box containing the money they'd seized,  and some food; Landon and Alpheus looked after the wounded men a bit. Three of the prisoners in the barred cart were willing to come with us west to Redcliffe; we found their weapons and gear among the plunder in the inn. By the end of the encounter we had also mentioned that two of us were Wardens and mages, and that Bran was a Helwyr (which none of them had heard of). We said disparaging things about the so-called Regent Loghain and his villainous lackey Arl Howe.

 

contents of the toll chest

  • about 1400 copper = about 28 pounds

  • about 600 silver = about 12 pounds

  • no gold

  • the chest probably weighs 5 pounds

29 of our coins weigh 9 ounces total -- let's call them 50 to the pound.

 

     Ser Andy had already passed by; the Teryn's men had not bothered her. In fact she was only a couple of miles ahead of us, and we caught up with her around mid-day.

 

9:30 Dragon, 16th-17th Day of Cloudreach - Spring

 

     As we marched along, a few very small groups of darkspawn were seen (and defeated if we could reach them). A couple of groups of farmers and other locals were met.

     We spent the night of the 16th at the abandoned White Buck Tavern

     On the night of the 17th, the sky to the west had an ominous greenish cast, and the air seemed -- off. We sent a dream message to Alistair -- "We're a day away from Redcliffe, and should be there tomorrow afternoon."

 

9:30 Dragon, 18th Day of Cloudreach - Spring

 

     We arrived in Redcliffe village in the afternoon -- Bran, Eornan, Landon, Alpheus, Ser Andy, and three freed prisoners (now men-at-arms). No guards were visible on the castle walls, and the drawbridge was pulled up.

 

note the long bridge leading to Redcliffe Castle

 

     A few people were moving around in the village; there was some minor damage to houses, a few barricades, blood stains, arrows stuck in walls, roofs and the ground, and a smell of unburied dead bodies.

     We walked over the bridge to the castle, and yelled at the fortress a bit -- but nobody responded. Frustrated and confused, we turned about and visited Redcliffe Village.

     At Lloyd's Tavern, there were a couple of customers, a cook, and the barmaid Bella. We bought some ale and food (eight people at 25 cp each = 200 = 2 silver) and asked some questions:

 

  • Where are the rest of the villagers? - "They mostly died, due to attacks by the walking dead coming from the castle and the lake. The walking dead dragged people off. They haven't appeared for several days now -- they were skeletons and those who died in the nights before."

  • Who is left here? - Owen the smith, Bella the barmaid, a couple of militiamen, the Reverend Mother and some sisters at the Chantry, a few wounded people unable to travel (also at the Chantry), and a few others barricaded in their homes. With Lloyd dead, Bella is giving the militiamen room and board, in exchange for defending the tavern.

  • Did Alistair pass through here? - "Yes, he was helpful fighting the walking dead. He came with a couple of women, and a... qunari I guess, and they left in a hurry four or five days ago. He said they had to get to Kinloch Hold."

  • What about the castle? - "The drawbridge went up a few days ago, and hasn't come down. Since most of the undead came from the castle, nobody expects anything good to be there now."

    

     Alpheus and Landon decided to visit the Chantry and see what help they could be with the sick and injured. Revered Mother Hannah welcomes their aid, though it's clear that any magical healing will not be allowed.

     One of the injured people is a non-Dalish elf named Berwick (he has a leg injury); he was arrived in Redcliffe a few months ago . He would have left long ago if it weren't for his injury.

     Bran came down from the tavern and also spoke with the elf:

 

  • Why were you here, who sent you? - "I was supposed to watch the castle for a few weeks, and report any changes; I wasn't able to get a message out."

  • Who hired you? - "A tall man in Denerim; there's a process for me to leave a note for him in Denerim. He didn't give his name, and I didn't ask. I do know he worked for Loghain though."

  • "Arl Eamon is still in the castle."

  • "At least a couple of knights returned to Redcliffe this month."

     

     Alpheus could sense that Berwick was nervous. We advised him not to contact Loghain, and to travel north and west. He left early the next day, indeed headed north.

     We went back up to the tavern for dinner (another couple silver), and spent the night there (tavern floor, eight people at 50 cp each = 400 cp = 4 silver) -- though one of us was always on watch. The green sky seemed to be a general effect in this area, without a specific origin.

 

9:30 Dragon, 19th Day of Cloudreach - Spring

 

     After breakfast (another couple silver) we carried a ladder across the bridge, and used it to get over the gap created by the raised drawbridge -- Bran went first. Looking down into the courtyard we could see debris from a battle several days ago -- bloodstains, dropped weapons, quarrels and arrows embedded in the walls. There were some wisps of smoke coming from the chimneys; a dog was sitting in the courtyard, and barked at us in a friendly way. We left the three "men at arms" to watch the ladder.

     We descended to the courtyard, and climbed the stairs which led to the inner doors to the main hall. The doors were unbarred; we pushed them open and looked within. A few armed knights and warriors, and some servants, were moving around in and through the hall; there were more signs of a battle a few days ago (blood stains broken furniture mostly). We asked Ser Andy to proceed first -- they recognized her right away.

     The troops sent for Bann Teagen (the arl's younger brother); he came and greeted us; "I am surprised to see you. How did you get into the castle?" We explained our use of the ladder. Some questions:

 

  • Why raise the drawbridge and close the gates? - "The problem is not finished ... the arl's son Connor is still not right. You know nothing about what happened here."

  • "Connor has been possessed by a desire demon; when we broke into the tower we were able to subdue him; his influence over the dead -- and the living -- stopped."

  • "However, he has since regained consciousness, and it seems his control is easy to resume if you get too close. We've had to give the vault a wide berth and as a precaution, we raised the drawbridge, and destroyed the mechanism to lower it less he try to force one of us to open it. Connor has locked himself, four knights and his mother Isolde in the vault. Everyone touched by his contact is vulnerable to his control; we didn't want anyone to leave the castle under Connor's influence."

  • "They've been in there for three days."

  • "Connor's father, the arl, is still ailing. The demon of desire was apparently keeping him alive. Connor isn't now maintaining his health... and we fear the Arl is failing quickly.

  • "Alistair came here several days ago, with Lady Cousland and some others; they went to Kinloch Hold to find the means to exorcise the desire demon from Connor."

  • "Connor had a teacher, Jowan. He's imprisoned in the dungeon, and is probably still alive -- he poisoned the arl, and is apparently a blood mage. Nobody has gone down there since he was thrown in a cell -- we're afraid of evil influences, since he's a mage and all."

 

     Alpheus and Landon visited Arl Eamon in his sick room; Alpheus declared that is nothing changed, the arl would not live past sunset the next day. Next we went downstairs to speak with Jowan; we brought him some food and water. Several corpses of Redcliffe warriors and servants lay in the chambers near the dungeon, untouched for three or four days at least -- quite disturbing.

     After he had some food and water, Jowan told us some very interesting things. He poisoned the arl on behalf of Loghain, but didn't know what the poison was.He told us where to find the last bit of the poison.

 

what Alpheus knew about Jowan

     Kinloch is a small Circle tower ... and Jowan is roughly Alpheus' age and 'class,' so you surely know well enough of him if not actually being a friend.

You did hear mumbled rumors that Jowan might be destined to becoming Tranquil. That fits with what you know of his 'talents.' No question he was becoming more erratic in recent months. Likely he heard the same rumors you did.

     His kerfuffle at the Tower happened after you had already left.

     From what he's saying now, he was obviously very committed to leaving as they were determined to get his phylactery before going. But when they got into the storage vault, they found the phylacteries in such disarray they could not find his, and in their too long and frantic search, Irving discovered their attempt. He was able to get away only to be captured by Loghain who then offered to settle the matter -- and get him his phylactery if he do this thing (poison the arl under the pretense of teaching Connor to use his magic).

     He doesn't know how Loghain got his phylactery -- whether it was with Irving's help, or not -- but he did see it, and was sure it was his. He was then further strung along being told that once he had finished his task with Eamon, he would be given the phylactery finally. He's not sure whether to believe that, but what choice did he have?

 

     We discussed making a sedative to feed Connor and the people in the vault with him. Another dream message was sent to Alistair.

 

message to Alistair

     We're in Redcliffe. The arl's health had decreased, and he will die in a day or two. We might be able to extend that to five days with spells Alpheus knows. 

     Connor and his mother and four guards are holed up in the vault, and have had no food or water for at least three days.

     We need to have an answer in twelve hours or we will take action to save -- maybe -- Connor.

 

     Landon examined the poison -- it was vegetable in nature was about all he could tell. He also mixed up a sedative which would render a person groggy -- perhaps unconscious -- about ten minutes after eating it. He cast Glyph of Sealing on the vault door.

     Eornan could fend off the arl's death for perhaps 6 days -- maybe more with some unlikely circumstances.

     We told the three men-at-arms to spend the night at the tavern, if they still wanted to stay with us; we provided them with money for dinner, breakfast and lodging (3 sp total).

 

9:30 Dragon, 19th Day of Cloudreach - Spring

 

     At dawn -- no message had come from Alistair.

     We brought a couple of waterskins, and some sandwiches, to the vault. A couple of posts were dropped into holes in the floor, to keep the outward-opening vault door from opening more than a few inches. Landon knocked and knocked, and yelled under the door -- it took about a half-hour to get any action from the people in the vault.

     Eventually, the vault door swung open a few inches, and the hand of a revenant(?) took the food and water. We could hear a couple of voices in the background, one probably the desire demon ... so Isolde was probably still alive.

     After the undead creature closed and locked the door again, Landon created a glyph of sealing again.

     We discussed how to deal with the undead; fighting four of them, if all revenants, and a desire demon, all at the same time, seemed unwise; the notion of four Pride demons working together seemed doubtful so perhaps we could clear the room if it were just one.

     Alpheus slept during the day, with the help of the Sleeping Pillow, in case Alistair had send a dream message.

     We informed Bann Teagen about our discoveries and plans, and brought Jowan some food; we also removed the corpses from the dungeon area, and burned them in a bonfire in the courtyard.

     Once Alpheus woke up, he told us about a dream he had just had, from a mage with Alistair.

 

dream received by Alpheus

     Alistair said that he had a difficult journey, but they managed to forestall the Right of Annulment being enacted on Kinloch Hold. He was heading back to Redcliffe but wouldn't be back in less than three days, along with a few mages.

 

     We asked -- fourteen knights had been sent out from Redcliffe in search of a cure for the arl, and five had returned so far (including Ser Andy).

     Connor's mother might have been able to exert a lot of influence on him, even when a desire demon has possessed him. She was apparently a very pious woman.

     Bran and Landon went over the wall and down the ladder, and into the village. Landon checked on the patients at the Chantry -- several had felt good enough to travel, and had left that morning. Berwick was among them; he traveled north. The Revered Mother said there were scholars in Denerim who might know were to find a cure -- or at the University in Orlais.

     On the way back up to the castle, Bran and Landon stopped for a pint and discussed the possible use of the Maker's Tear as a source of power to send a mage's mind into the Fade. They agreed it was a tremendous amount of power to place in the hands of a mage like Jowan, who said he had been scheduled for Tranquility. They spoke with Bella about her plans.  The attractive redhead said she could relocate to Denerim but would need five sovereigns to do so. Thinking of the coin we recently gained, Bran allowed as how we might be able to provide that in exchange for a safe place to stay when visiting Denerim. 

 

We've spent 13 silver at Lloyd's Tavern thus far.

 

On to Reunion at Redcliffe

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