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Oswald's Last Stand

Page history last edited by Kirk 1 year, 1 month ago

back to the Index, or to Chapter 71:  Feeding Time 

 

Chapter 72

Oswald's Last Stand

 


 

9:30 Dragon, 21st day of Justinian - Summer

 

     This morning in Denerim, Our Heroes were preparing to intrude onto the Arl of Denerim's estate. Our party consisted of:

 

  • Eornan - elvish scout and Dalish advocate

  • Bran - human warrior, one of the Helwyr

  • Landon - human mage and Warden; descended from the Old Korcarians

  • Alpheus - human mage and Warden, with ties to Orlais

  • Sir Roderick - human Templar and Warden; has a clockwork left arm

  • Zevran - elven assassin from Antiva, now working with the Wardens (though not a Warden himself)

 

the Arl of Denerim's estate

 

     Zevran went to re-stock his supply of Antivan Sleeping Dust, and to buy seven horses with saddles and tack, and a few days of oats, at a stable outside the city walls.

 

Lisa mentioned at a previous session that, including saddle and tack,

the horses would be close to 2 gold each in the current "Blight and rebellion" environment. Have funds been allocated for this?

Bran mentioned getting a wagon, also.

 

     Landon and Eornan paid a visit to the Wonders of Thedas as soon as it was open, to sell some items and make some purchases. Being sold were:

 

  • the dragonbone quarterstaff (taken from Julian)

  • the masterwork Orlesian leather armor (taken from Julian)

  • minor un-named items taken from the dungeon crew

 

Lisa stated that prices were roughly doubled in the current "Blight and rebellion" environment.

 

     One of Bella's servants was sent to buy some travel rations, shirts, and other minor items (travel rations for 6 persons for two weeks each; normal price total 24 silver, say 50 silver in the current environment").

     Keep in mind we had also obtained a couple of items from Gwen, including:  

 

  • Gwen's first ring:  provides a +2 to casting spells from the Primal school. We took this; one of our Primal mages should use this.

 

Gwen's staff was left tucked in the rafters of the sea tower where it could be found without too much trouble.

The Paragon's Luster bastard sword (taken from Cuthbert) is in storage for Alistair.

 

     Eornan purchased various enchanted arrows; Landon bought a master injury kit, a dose of Hale's Mercy, three potions of Luck and Skill, the Elfrope belt, and the Robes of the Gifted.

 

One of the Luck and Skill potions is set aside for Anwen to distribute or use; another was given to Eornan.

 

Plans for Denerim

 

     Bran awoke mid-afternoon; despite looking like death warmed over, he started scheming with Alpheus and Bella about recruiting helpers for hanging the banner and papering the town with his posters. Over lunch, he said:

 

     "'Passage out of town' will be a good offer for a lot of the poorer folk.  We can also offer them a chance to help homestead at our 'village on the coast'.  If memory serves, we have a score or two of Gwaren refugees at the site so our lumberjack/lumberjill needs are well met.  We won't find any guilded people (too well off to bother approaching) but a mason's assistant or two, maybe a cabinet maker's apprentice --- what other skills should we look for?  I figure baking bread and brewing beer aren't that damn hard but experience would be welcomed.  We should also look for a weapons instructor or drillmaster to train the villagers as militia. Able-bodied folk will be employed or pressed into service already but there may be a disabled vet that has the spirit we need."

     "We might need to postpone the assault on the Arl's estate til the next night - coordinating the papering of the town and transport for the recruits and their immediate families will take more than half a day, I fear."

 

     Other activities for a very busy day:

 

  • Eornan spoke with elves in the Alienage, to learn the floor plan, where guards patrolled, etc.

  • a ship was arranged for, to carry refugees away

  • a warehouse was located for Rebel activities

  • ten people were recruited to paste up posters around the city; they were sent around before dark to look at their districts

  • posters spoke about the rumored defeat of Orlais, and mentioned free ale and food to be provided in front of the Arl's estate

  • a musician was hired to play in the square in front of the Arl's estate

  • a few trestle tables were purchased and set up in the square, as the focus of a hopefully disappointed crowd

  • Landon drew up a fake contract, with Arl Howe's (forged) seal and signature, for hiring Carney's Band, a group of five mercenaries; the date was only a couple of days prior. They are to report to Captain Oswald at the Arl's estate in Denerim. Their pay rate is pretty high -- at least 12 gold.

  • rough disguises were obtained for some of us, and we chose names as members of Carney's Band.

  • the banner was prepared, to be hung over the main gate of Fort Drakon:

 

JUSTICE

IS COMING

brought by the

Sons of Maric

Image result for golden fox -boots

 

Carney's Band

 

      Before sunset, a group of a half-dozen mercenaries strutted up to the front gate of the Arl of Denerim's estate. Their leader, a large fellow named Carney, spoke with the senior guard on duty, Marlow. The gate guards wouldn't allow the mercenaries into the estate without the permission of the guard captain; a page boy was sent with the contract to the captain.

      After a few minutes the page returned, and we were told to follow him to the captain's office. Entering the main building, we passed along a short corridor, past a guard room and kitchen, into another corridor, and up to the door of the captain's office.

     The captain's office held only one man, in armor; he dismissed the page and closed the door. Facing us, Oswald wondered why the Arl would spend money so extravagantly on mercenaries. Carney explained that we'd heard of a place up north being assaulted recently.

     Carney made a sort of hint about wages and corruption; Captain Oswald had worked for Howe eight years by now; and, "I would not have worked for him as long as I have if he were the sort to not to pay wages." Carney spoke of a possible job, "One that would see you richly rewarded." The captain raised an eyebrow and asked what the job might be. "We are going to get into the arl's vault and share it with you," responded the mercenary leader confidently.

     "How are you going to do this?" wondered the captain doubtfully. With a grin, Carney winked towards "Gray", an Antivan elf rogue; "We have an expert on locks."

     Carney continued with the description of a plan to rob the estate; we would make provision for leading family members of reliable (to us) guards to safety, for example. "The Blight is coming here in a month or two -- this money will help you survive that, or to settle somewhere safe."

     Captain Oswald was not nearly as surprised or impressed by our presence or plan as we'd hoped; Carney asked him, "Do you know who we are"? With a nod, the captain said, "You are Bran, and that elf was employed by the arl." He thought for a minute, and said, "I think I have a better idea, but I'll have to gather some men."

     Bringing some guards into our scheme had been our intent all along; the captain, escorted by Carney, left the office to speak with a few of the estate's defenders.

     The captain led Bran to where a couple of guards were, and told them, "I have some of the arl's guests with me, you need to come with us and be circumspect."

     Thus the captain, Carney and two guards came back to the office; the captain led us all downstairs. As he passed the posted guards, the captain told them, "There may be some noises from downstairs -- just ignore them."

     In the "basement" level, the main passage had a metal grille running along the middle of the floor, with sewage flowing along a few inches below the grille. As we proceeded along dim passages, the captain pointed out a tripwire for us to step over. We passed storage chambers, and came to an open doorway, through which we could see a workshop with bookshelves, tables, alchemical equipment, and a few people at work. The two in the front room were female mages.

 

this picture was taken before the figures for the two guards were placed;

Eornan has already dashed into the middle of the workroom;

Captain Oswald's figure has the tan base, just in front of the door

 

     Carney asked Captain Oswald what the people in the workshop were doing. The reply was, "They're making magical stuff -- I don't know what." However, the captain apparently felt that his own ruse had some to its end -- he yelled, "Get them!" and a battle broke out.

 

Smashing Up The Lab

 

     None of Our Heroes were caught really off-guard. Eornan rushed into the workshop before anyone else could react; one of the mages yelled something towards the back rooms, and sent some sort of spell into that room as well. Bran called out commands to us, and pulled his mighty axe from his back -- he quickly slashed across the armor on Oswald's arm.

     Roderick and Zevran rushed after Eornan, into the workshop, just as Captain Oswald began to yell and roar in a berserk rage. He was also a reaver, using demonic powers to harm his enemies.

 

It's not clear to me whether we could tell he was actually channeling demonic powers. Is there a visible "special effect"?

 

     Landon and Alpheus prepared their magical defenses, as one of Howe's mages cast Shock at Eornan. In the back room, there was a sort of "poof" sound, a flash of bright light, and then a continuous glow. Oswald's two guards struck at Bran; one of them managed to hit the Helwyr, but caused only slight damage.

     Captain Oswald shouted and frothed, blinded with rage; he beat almost continuously on Bran in the outer passage. Bran in turn slashed, parried and dodged, keeping the captain from murdering anyone else -- the captain was quite a dangerous foe. Blood flew in all directions, as both men were wounded many times; for a minute or so a strange, painful sensation crept over Bran's limbs (an effect of the reaver's powers).

      The two elves leapt, dodged, stabbed and slashed around the mages in the workshop; the wicked mages tried frantically to defend themselves, and blasted magics at our rogues. Many of the books, glassware, and other items in the workshop were broken or scattered around the room by a Telekinetic Blast, Lightning bolts, and other spells. Landon and Eornan focused their attacks initially on Oswald's escort, until one was killed and the other fled. After that, the mages pounded Oswald with Lightning, Arcane Bolts, and other damaging effects.

      Sir Roderick burst into the workshop as well, intent on defeating the evil mages and draining their magics. However, within the inner chamber the tread of mighty metal feet was heard -- Howe's mages had built (or obtained control of) a steel golem!

 

Picture here.

 

      Its head brushed the ceiling; it was armed only with its steel fists. Sparks of electricity crackled along its skin -- it was almost certainly immune to electrical damage. The head was comically small, set deep into a collar-like socket where the neck would be. It walked very slowly -- fortunately for us. It was carrying a brazier when it appeared, which it threw clumsily at Bran, sailing past the warrior to bounce against the far wall, clattering to the floor in a shower of embers and sparks.

      Another couple of mages (or perhaps Tranquil enchanters) were in the inner room, up to no good -- which included controlling the golem.

      One of the female mages in the front workshop was a Blood mage; she cast a Blood Slave spell on Sir Roderick. The other mage, Nell, was protected by a Force Field, and repeatedly cast Lightning at Eornan.

     The golem slowly trod forward, heading towards where Bran and Oswald were battling. Landon yelled out, "Bran ... Grease!"

     Both Eornan and Zevran rained blows onto the Blood mage (quite often getting in Lightning Attacks); in return the arl's mages blasted them with Chain Lightning and Shock. Alpheus tried to cast Walking Bomb, but failed. Sir Roderick swung clumsily at Eornan, under the control of the Blood mage -- and missed.

     As the golem approached Bran, our Helwyr quickly drank a small Healing potion; the giant metal monster missed our mighty warrior with its first attack. Also failing:  the Blood mage's spell, while Eornan stabbed her repeatedly again; she cried out in rage and frustration. Bran yelled out to Alpheus, "Run!" while pointing into the workshop and waving his arms to keep the golem's attention. Landon ran past the legs of the golem, into the workshop, and into a corner furthest from the battle; Alpheus did the same, to a different corner.

     Suddenly, Roderick snapped out from the Blood mage's control, and suppressed the magics near him (which included both evil mages in the workshop). Zevran ran his blades through the Blood mage, and she crumpled to the floor, dead. Bran dashed into the workshop, and Landon (who was waiting for this) cast a Grease spell, covering the floor at the entrance, where Captain Oswald and the golem were standing. Oswald attempted to follow Bran, but fell down on the slippery floor as the brazier's embers warmed to the oily slick.

     Nell cast a Sleep spell, which briefly affected some of Our Heroes -- and she ran towards the doorway to the passage! As she approached the door, the golem tried to turn around and re-enter the workshop, but slipped in the grease and toppled to the ground with an enormous thud, never to rise again (or  until someone figured out how to use the control rod).

     Quick to react to Nell's attempted escape, Eornan sprang forward, slashing her deeply.

 

The Demons Reveal Themselves

 

    Behind him, however, a terrible scene was taking place:  where the corpse of the Blood mage was laying, a Desire Demon swirled into existence! Bran had almost instantly shaken off the effects of the Sleep spell -- he sprang up onto a work-table -- scattering equipment and the sleeping Zevran -- and brought his axe down hard on the demon's shoulder. He was still calling out inspiration to us all, a brave war-leader at each moment's most dangerous place in the battle.

     Landon blasted the prone Oswald with a powerful Lightning spell, just as Alpheus cast a well-timed Group Heal. The grease on the floor caught fire at this point -- Oswald was being roasted, but the golem just laid there and slowly began to get hot.

     One of the mages from the "back room" came up into the front room, to the main table - we didn't know why, but it was probably nothing good.  Sir Roderick rushed up to the Desire Demon to strike it; Zevran used his Mark of Death talent on the demon also, and stabbed her as well.

     Having finally gotten out of the grease and back onto his feet, Oswald rushed at Bran, trailing smoke; he dealt a massive blow to the Helwyr. Meanwhile, Nell the mage was crawling through the flaming grease, leaving the workshop; Eornan saw this and drew his bow and set out in pursuit -- Landon tagged the elf with a Heal spell as he passed by; Alpheus also cast a Group Heal spell on his friends.

     Spinning around, the Desire Demon caused the terrible Blood Wound, which affected Zevran, Bran, Alpheus and Eornan. Ignoring this, Bran wound up "big" at Oswald, and his axe's blade dug in deep to the berserker's flesh. Before the Desire Demon could do anything else, Sir Roderick spitted it on his blade, and it disintegrated into a pile of powder.

     Jumping to Bran's side, Zevran slashed at Captain Oswald, but the captain wounded the Antivan badly in return.

     In the passage outside the workshop, Eornan rushed around a corner to see Nell rushing away; Alpheus followed the elf, and healed him.

     Hit by another Lightning spell from Landon, Oswald staggered, blackened and smoking. The "mage from the corner", Kellem, who'd come out from the back room, cast Stone's Embrace, but it mostly fizzled and Our Heroes were barely restrained by it (everyone made their saves). Roderick turned and swung his sword at Kellem, who staggered, bleeding heavily.

     Oswald was still swinging his mace around wildly:  Zevran used his Mark of Death on the man, and ran his blades into him twice. Undeterred, the berserker screamed and hit Bran again, denting his armor.

     In the passages outside, Nell was still trying to escape. Eornan fired an arrow, pinning her foot to the floor; she fell onto her face, screaming in pain, convulsed and died.

     Landon blasted the berserker with Arcane Bolts, even as Alpheus returned to the workshop to cast Group Heal again. The Orlesian was able to fire off an Arcane Bolt into Oswald at the same time; he also saw a strange blue glow, about waist-high.

     Kellem surrendered to Sir Roderick, who in turn had Zevran tie the mage's hands. With nearly his last strength, Oswald wound up and swung at Bran, deeply denting the armor on the Helwyr's thigh! In the back room, a figure stood up, but Our Heroes were very busy.

     Out in the hall, Eornan watched, entranced, as the body of Nell transformed into a Sloth Demon -- a rather bear-like huge creature. The elf  began filling it with his most powerful arrows, fired rapidly and unerringly.

     Meanwhile, in the workshop, Bran's axe sank deep into Oswald's side, just as Landon's final Lightning spell stopped the captain's heart. The villain moaned and fell dead to the floor, twitching and bleeding.

     In the back room, Alpheus found the figure of an Avvar man on a sort of table; strange glowing symbols were involved, rather like those on a golem. The Orlesian mage cast a defensive spell, since the Avvar was very large. Roderick joined Alpheus in the back room, and stared at the rear wall for a bit. Alpheus examined the room and decided that the other person present was Samesley -- the missing Warden was standing quietly, holding a sort of dwarven tool or device, and said, "I'm sorry it took so long. I am trying to help. But this mechanism, it's not ready." His voice was slow and calm; fearfully, Alpheus asked, "Are you working for Arl Howe?" Sainsley answered, "I guess so. I've been working on an interesting project." The Orlesian Warden replied, "What's the project?", to which Samesley responded, "It's to control a human," looking at the Avvar.

     Wonderingly, Alpheus asked, "What's so special about him?"; the answer, "It's an Avvar."

     Meanwhile, the Sloth Demon had turned and looked at Eornan; it rumbled in a deep, slow voice, "You want to let me go, it would be to your advantage and their disadvantage. Le me stay here." Eornan, distrusting it, ran back to the corner and called out to the rest of us.

     In a few seconds, Bran and Landon came around to the passage where the Sloth Demon was slowly lumbering away. The Helwyr called out, "Prepare yourself, foul demon!" The demon turned, and tried to use some vile magic on Bran and Landon, a queasy and unsettling tug on their spirits -- but to no apparent effect. Bran buried his axe into the demon, slicing through the lumbering great bear's thick hide, shattering its collarbone. Landon Healed Bran between casting spells at the demon. The demon did try to overcome Bran and Landon with a spell which would have pulled them into the Fade, but they narrowly resisted.

 

"Narrowly" with chips spent. This was quite the success for Our Heroes.

 

     Eornan ran around the corner to join us in destroying the beast -- he fired magical arrows rapidly into its rubbery hide, Bran's axe sliced glowing gashes into it, and Landon's spells blasted chunks off of it. The clumsy beast mostly missed Bran, and after a minute it slumped to the floor in a pile of ash.

     Upon returning to the workrooms, Bran killed the Avvar -- no hesitation or words, he just walked up and did the deed., slipping a knife into the man's heart.  "No Avvar would want to live like this," he muttered.  "We should take him to the roof where he can rest under the sky."  A puzzled frown crossed Bran's face as he realized something about the sequence of events was less than ideal.

    

Landon's Health was at full value; he was down 76 Mana.

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