A Keep On The Borderlands: Arrival




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  1. #1
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    A Keep On The Borderlands: Arrival

    By current reckoning it must be the Day of the Hornbeam, in the spring month Germinal, the third day since leaving Last Ferry following the faded road towards the border stockade known as Fort Key-11 (or K-11).

    To the left of the road is a broad sward of grassland leading to broadleaf forest where the horse chestnuts are putting forth white candles of blossom amidst yellow-green spring growth. The forests rise on rolling hills, becoming a blur of green that laps against the feet of snow-capped peaks showing blue in the far north. To the right, a shallow stream flows back towards Last Ferry, with grass-covered moraine rising on the far bank.

    The Dulat party moves slowly to allow the foot soldiers and pack mules to keep up. The land is empty except for long-abandoned evidence of orc activity, a few fragments of elven ruins and the more recent spoor of beastmen.

    Rounding a bend in the river, suddenly they come upon another, smaller, group of men. Although ragged and weather-beaten, these are plainly soldiers of some kind.

    OOC

    In the Dulat party are Arcata, Bastion, Sh'aah and Cormoray as well as 20 1st level foot-soldiers, four pack mules and any riding animals/companions associated with the PCs.

    The other group is Greggory and 4 soldiers, ex of Fort Key-11
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    Greggory and his men take defensive positions across the road. They wear the garb of the Empire's Army, but also bear the marks of the penal legion branded on their foreheads. The black cloaks which allow the normal rank and file to identify them as penal soldiers on the field have become tattered and worn, much like the soldiers themselves. It is obvious they have been living in the brush for a while. One of the men who appears to be the leader steps forward. He obviously doesn't mind that he is clearly outnumbered....or perhaps he is just desperate.

    Halt in the name of the Empire! I'm afraid that this road no longer receives the funding it once did and now carries a toll by order of the master of Fort Key 11. If you would be so kind as to leave your supplies by the side of the road, my men and I would be happy to let you pass.
    Last edited by ahayford; Sunday, 6th November, 2011 at 06:04 PM.

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    Brother Comoray's eyes narrow. The priest of Velshionne glances and takes note of the position of the Dulat soldiers, his flock, however small, and then positions himself for administering the blessing of the Lady Magnificient. It is not his place to speak for the company of Lady Dulat.
    -Kaodi

    Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him
    And makes me poor indeed.

    -Iago, Shakespeare's Othello, Act III. Scene III. Lines 180-186.

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    Arcata gives Bastion a quick look, then nudges her horse ahead of his to take the lead of her contingent. She trusted he'd be ready to charge out at a moment's notice, and she didn't move forward far enough that he'd have trouble getting out in front of her.

    Even after a long day of riding, she was something to behold; with long, slightly wavy golden hair falling around her head like sunlight, and clear, fair skin that made her sapphire eyes stand out all the more.

    "It is in the name of the Empire that we have come," she said. Her voice was clear in the still air, carrying to every ear present. "By order of the High Throne, we are sent to the Keep, bearing no distraction or delay, and stand before its master, if he be loyal to the Throne still."

    She surveyed the rabble before her, and with a softer edge in her voice said, "The current master does not seem to take good care of his men, if I may say so. I hope I offer some comfort when I say that things are about to change. Until then, you may join our camp; eat and drink with us, share our fire and share what news you have of the Keep." With that, Arcata smiled. "Does that not sound better than a hopeless squabble at the roadside over scraps?"

  • #5
    The leader of the prison legion glances back to his men.

    You hear that men? She wants to talk to the master of the keep.

    The rough looking men laugh among themselves, a rather unpleasant noise that promised more sinister thoughts then mirth.

    Well, "milady". You stand before him now. As far as I know, my men and I are all that's left of the garrison force that was once stationed at Fort Key 11. The last remaining officer left promising to bring reinforcements months ago.

    The soldier looks at the young girl and her small retinue.

    If all he could find was a girl barely old enough to marry and her nurse maids....maybe my men and I are better off joining the wardens...

    The soldier's face tightens into a grimace as his empty stomache rumbles.

    But......It would be rude for my men and I to turn down such a courtly invitation. My name is Greggory, Sergeant of his Imperial Majesty's Penal legion. The four bastards behind me are Janson, Dack, Cassie, and Tye.

    Each of the men nod in turn.

    Speak for yourself Greg

    For the first time you realize that one of the soldiers is a woman. Her blonde pixie cut frames what would otherwise be a beautiful face. Her loose fitting armor and cloak hide any signs of femininity. She holds a crossbow which is still currently trained on Arcata.

    Sorry, 3 bastards and one whore.

    That's more like it.

    Now why don't you but that thing away before it "accidently" goes off again.

    The woman lowers her weapon, but the way she glares at Greggory and Arcata would certainly slay a lesser man.

    I can tell you what has happened here in the last few months, if you could give us word of the Imperium....its been a long time since any news reached out this far.

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    Arcata wrestles for a moment with her instinctive revulsion at the realization of what had been going on. The Keep had been crewed by criminals and captained by a coward. No wonder it had sunk! It was becoming abundantly clear that this assignment was tailor made to break and destroy those the Throne felt were inconveniences. Bitterly, she thought that the ragtag remains of broken Houses probably fit under that description. Even so, there might be opportunity here too. If she DID succeed, against all odds, then it would seem all the more noteworthy. And what, really, did she have to lose?

    "Sergeant Greggory," she greeted crisply, ignoring the comment about her youth for the nonce. Pick your battles... "I am Lady Arcata Dulat, of the House Dulat, here on Imperial order to take control of Keep Key Eleven and use it to establish the Emperor's peace over the surrounding lands and make them suitable for colonization. You and those under your command will join our forces. We'll find proper equipment for you when we pitch camp. Also, you are invited to my fire tonight so we can exchange our stories. First of all, I need to know if there are any more of your men, either in hiding or waiting elsewhere. Secondly, will we reach the Keep by nightfall, or should we watch for a roadside camping spot?"

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    Bastian Sangue, human cavalier

    Bastian laid his gauntleted hand on Stalwart's neck, calming the horse even as it fidgeted in the presence of threat. He tensed himself, though, as Arcata moved ahead of him, and when he saw the woman with the crossbow, he nudged Stalwart to canter forward a few steps, hand falling to where he could take up his lance quickly.

    Thankfully, the leader of the ruffians seems willing to listen to reason. Still, Bastian kept close to the Lady. She had presence and training. She was meant to lead. But he was meant to keep her alive to do so. It was an almost familiar dance at this point: Leadership meant taking risks. Guardianship meant trying to avoid them. He knew better than to question her choices in public, but he did raise one of his thick eyebrows when next she deigned look in his direction.

    As you will, milady, but I don't like it.

    Then he spared a glance back to the men. It was still a bit unnerving, commanding soldiers who were almost all his seniors, but The Order of The Lion gave him rank if not experience, and he was gaining the latter far more quickly than he cared to. He nodded to the the closest guardsman, gestured subtly with two fingers apart then brought together, signaling that he didn't want any of these newcomers left without an escort to match them. The guard nodded and shifted to send the word through the group as Bastian quickly returned his attention to Arcata, staying quiet but alert as negotiations continued.

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    Brother Comoray relaxes his stance a bit, but he grimaces. A fort manned by criminals, lost to enemies; an inglorious posting if there ever was one. But lurking beneath the surface also lies a kernel of opportunity: if they can take the fort decisively and rehabilitate this area, it may yet serve as a suitable base for his order.

    Looking over the ragged group of soldiers, he begins going over various strategies and sermons for winning them over in his mind. Maybe he can appeal to their sense of pride, or whatever is left of it.
    -Kaodi

    Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
    Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him
    And makes me poor indeed.

    -Iago, Shakespeare's Othello, Act III. Scene III. Lines 180-186.

  • #9
    Greggory's demeanor changes slightly when Arcata flexes her authority.

    I see...well if that's the way the wind blows, I suppose my men and I shall join your ret-tin-ue. Pack it up boys. The new nobility here has commissioned us into her army.

    Greggory and his men gather their meager belongings and fall in next to the horses.

    I suggest we stop for the night up the road a few hours. The journey to the keep is about 1 days march, but the state the keep is in...I don't think its wise we approach at night. I'm not saying I'm superstitious, but only the dead live there now. Not very polite to go interrupting their sleep. Anything else you want to know about the keep will have to wait until my men and I have food in our bellies.

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    Sh'aah

    Sh'aah was always amazed at how quickly humans changed sides in a fight. Only sometimes did they actually come to blows. That was probably what the Marshall was worried about, really. New humans in the area. Mostly young. One seems to have some sort of authority. Thinking back on his instructions, the half-orc was satisfied. Keep an eye on them, Sh'aah. Just watch and learn what you can about these new humans. There may be dangerous ones amongst them that would upset the balance.

    Smiling hugely (which really came across as a savage gape) as the bandit and his men dropped into line Sh'aah managed to grunt out a guttural laugh. "You seem foolish, man. Did you really think your few can beat our many? But you might still be wise, and also hungry. We will stop tonight at an old watchtower. Then come to the keep in the daytime."

    Without waiting for any response Sh'aah spurred his suffering horse forward and up the next hill. The Ranger wanted to be away from the distractions of human company while he thought more about how to approach the keep. Only the dead live there... Not good... Didn't know that... How to kill the dead when they are already dead? Break their bodies like fairies and beastmen! But what if they don't have bodies? Although he wouldn't admit it to anyone, Sh'aah was deeply troubled. He reached for his chewing tobacco pouch. The flavours always helped him to think.

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