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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:16 am 
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Dolmant thanks you for the letters; he'll read through them and fully consider the implications while you're retrieving Ortzel. (A brief few words about their contents does persuade him to suggest that Ulath have a word with the city guard about this Seeker, just so that they'll know to raise the alarm instantly should anything even vaguely like it be sighted).

After Sir Ulath has his brief chat with the city guard (who are rather troubled by his news), you head out following the map to Lamorkand.

This involves going back past Cimmura - and thus past all the Seeker-bitten peasants between here and there. Would you like to avoid them as before?

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 22, 2019 3:44 pm 
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Yes, very much so.

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 Post Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:35 am 
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Arkady sees no particular reason to engage the peasants if they don't have to. They can't safely immobilize them, and the radio says there's currently no cure. Though he will ask Sir Ulath to tell the guards that if they somehow catch and/or kill the seeker, a reward would be paid for the head put on ice. "Our doctor thinks that with a fresh sample of the venom she will be able to figure out an antidote."

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:23 pm 
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Sir Ulath passes on the promise of the reward to the Chyrellos city guard, though he doubts they'll be able to claim it - they won't leave the walls, and if the Seeker gets here it will probably retreat before it gets killed.

A short distance out of Chyrellos, you come across a squad of guards riding out to clear the road - it looks like a sergeant, a pair of veterans, and a large number of young recruits. They brighten up considerably once they are told of the reward, though the sergeant reminds them to blow their whistle and call in the rest of the squad if they spot it.

--------------

The various peasants are still in the same positions along the road, though the squad of guards coming up behind you are no doubt planning on changing that soon. They don't look like they've eaten in a while. Fortunately, they are as easy to avoid as they were the last time.

You meetup with the rest of the group just outside Cimmura (oddly, both groups arrive almost exactly simultaneously - you were all expecting that one or the other group would have to wait about twenty minutes or so, but it seems you were better synchronised than you thought). And on you go, heading for Baron Alstrom's castle.

There are small groups of peasants waiting for you on this road, too. You dodge around them easily enough; and then, abruptly, you stop noticing any peasants - or anyone else - trying too hard to slow you down. Which is not to say that there aren't people about - there's plenty of peasants working the fields, and at one point you notice several sails moving fairly rapidly along the river.

--------------

Baron Alstrom's castle is on a small promontory, jutting out into the river. Surrounded on three sides by water (and on all four sides by strong walls) it almost appears to be hunching down, glaring defiance at the lands around.

Your reception at the gate is cautious, but when the gate guard takes word of your mission to the Baron, you are immediately welcomed inside; the drawbridge is lowered, the portcullis raised, and you can park your trucks in the castle courtyard (where you meet a rather confused groom, who would like to take care of the horses you don't have with you).

The Baron is found in a long room, with axes, shields, and swords hung upon the wall until the place resembles an armoury. He rises from the wooden bench by the firepace at which he had been seated, and greets the company.

"Well met, Sir Knight, and companions. It is indeed most fortunate that you arrived when you did, for I fear that had you arrived mere days hence, you would have had a lot more trouble getting here in safety."

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 4:20 pm 
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"Why, what's going on?"

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 Post Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:51 pm 
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Arkady tries to keep an eye on Talen while waiting for the answer.

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 12:58 am 
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Talen looks perfectly innocent as he glances appreciatively around the room.

The Baron Alstrom, on the other hand, looks very grim. "Even as we speak, my neighbour and onetime friend - the Count Groan - marches his armies to lay siege to my castle. I fear not for the safety of myself and my men - my castle walls are impregnable and he will not pass them, no matter how he dares push himself against them - but once his troops arrive it will likely be several years before anyone can enter or leave these walls in safety."

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 Post Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:35 pm 
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Arkady sighs quietly. "One time friend, my lord?"

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 12:17 am 
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"Indeed. It all began when a passing Knight, calling himself Oakson, decided to spend a few days here to rest upon his journey. Very pleasant fellow, at least at first. He befriended my son, and encouraged my son in his pursuit of Count Groan's daughter. I approved at first, but then the Count announced that his daughter was to be betrothed to another. My son was distraught, but I thought he would get over it. Oakson, however, suggested that my son break into the chambers of Count Groan's daughter, bear her away to be married at some small chapel, and then deflect the Count's wrath by presenting him with several grandchildren. Unfortunately, on trying this plan, my son was ambushed by several of Count Groan's guards; fearing that his beloved had betrayed him, he turned his dagger upon himself, and Groan's men left my son's body on my drawbridge. Now, I recognise that my son was in the wrong and I would not have pursued the matter further, but Oakson - if that was even his real name - persuaded some of my men-at-arms to take vengeance upon Groan's men, and as a result Groan's daughter was also killed, and the manner in which her body was left - let us just say, in short, that reconciliation at this point is completely impossible."

"This Oakson," asks Sir Ulath, "Could you describe him?"

Baron Alstrom nods. "Certainly," he says, and provides a familiar description.

"Martel," groans Sir Ulath.

"Busy, isn't he?" asks Talen. "He seems to get all over the place."

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:19 am 
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Arkady shrugs. "And so Patriarch Ortzel rides into a war at just this moment. Almost as if someone who knew the general shape of the future was giving Martel his marching orders." He looks at the Baron. "We have all seen proof that Martel has done good service to Azash, in the company of one of that being's priests. Primate Raven also happens to use Martel as a hireling, and from what we have heard in open court has almost certainly worked with that priest as well. And in passing, we've all encountered a demon almost certainly summoned at Martel's bidding; and recently caught him in Rendor, with another demon, trying to delay a schismatic uprising until it was more convenient for his purposes. Which might well be now, a few weeks later, as a new Arch-Prelate is to be elevated."
"He is not a good man, and he is not in the habit of acting at random. And so if the only candidate who might stop Raven from buying the arch-prelacy seems likely to get stuck behind siege lines because of him, well, I am not being as surprised as I might be.
"
After a second he adds: "Speaking of whom, where is Patriarch Ortzel?"

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:05 pm 
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"Yeah, we need to grab him and go immediately. He is needed to stop plots most foul."

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:13 pm 
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"I'm not sure. I sent a page to go and fetch him the moment you were announced, I thought he'd be here by -"

"I was packing." A grim-faced man, dressed entirely in black and wearing a wide-brimmed hat, steps out of one of the doorways, carrying a large, misshapen parcel that looks about the right size and shape to be either tied to a pack mule or placed in a cart. "I'm not a complete fool, brother, I know what will happen if I'm still trapped in here when Cluvonious dies." He looks over the party, with clear disdain. "A Church Knight accompanied by a bunch of children and peasants. Things must be truly dire in Chyrellos if you lot were all they could send."

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:34 pm 
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Arkady looks at him. "Arch-Prelate Cluvonius died yesterday. We brought a letter from Patriarch Dolmant for you on the subject, and on certain difficulties that have arisen. Please take a moment to read it, Your Eminence."

He's trying to read this fellow, just in case there are any surprises.

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 Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:42 pm 
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Arkady: Cold Read: Empathy: +5 Roll: +3 Total: +8
Ortzel: Resolve: +5 Roll: +0 Total: +5

Ortzel is a man of iron will and iron convictions. He's not easily persuaded to change his mind, and he will act as he believes is right in any circumstances. He is, in short, Stubborn As A Mule.


Ortzel takes the latter and scans through it. The first thing he looks at is the signature, giving a satisfied snort when he recognises it. He skims through the rest of the letter.

"Dolmant is rather too credulous for a man in his position," opines Ortzel, "but his heart's in the right place. I'll set him straight when we get to Chyr-"

There's a booming noise and the entire castle shudders. Baron Alstrom leaps to his feet.

"No! I had all the roads watched - how did Count Groan get here without warning?"

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 Post Posted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:48 pm 
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Arkady gets up. "He's doing what passes for a god's work, my lord." Turning to the others: "I think we should be checking on our trucks now. Sir Ulath, would you please safeguard His Eminence?"

Assuming no immediate problems, he's heading back out of the room and readying a stun grenade as he goes.

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