19 May, 103 CY (Continued)
GM: Bell Tower (3-4 zones – Level 1 Stairwell, Level 1 Apartment, Level 2 Nests, Level 2 Stairwell; Situation Aspects: Cluttered, Dimly Lit Apartment; Darkened Stairs; Glowing Red Eyes Above)
GM: Aramis has gained the second story after climbing the ropes attached to one of the bells above. The small room is littered with debris and smells strongly of rodent waste and animal fur. Perrin clutches his bleeding side, while Reeoh takes a quick glance outside to see if the bells have drawn any negative attention.
Aramis: “I could use some help up here,” Aramis calls.
Reeoh: “On my way!” (Overcome – Athletics +4)
GM: Perrin takes the stairs, careening off a wall as he ascends the Darkened Stairs. It hurts.
Aramis: Blade drawn, Aramis moves to strike the nearest ratman. (Attack – Fight +6)
GM: (Defend – Fight +5) He raises his blade into Wintertide’s path…
Aramis: Knowing that these ratmen pose a threat to the needy that he cares for so much, Aramis puts a little extra effort into his attack (Attack – Fight +8)
GM: …the magic blade pushes past the ratman’s guard and with a burst of cold, drives down into the creature’s collarbone. He crumples to the ground, senseless. Reeoh scampers up the rope while Perrin continues blindly up the stairs.
GM: The remaining ratmen converge on Aramis, each using the darkness to their advantage. (Attack –Fight +4, +4)
Aramis: (Defend – Fight +3, +4)
GM: One gets through his defenses, and the other knocks him back where he Teeters on the Edge (boost).
Aramis: Aramis swings at the one that knocked him back (Attack – Fight +6)
GM: (Success with style, another ratman down.)
Perrin: (Overcome – Notice +3)
GM: Perrin continues groping along the walls of the stairwell for an entrance he hopes is there.
Reeoh: Reeoh goes for the last ratman with a thrown knife (Attack – Shoot +4)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +2) The knife catches the ratman in the throat. He drops squealing to the disgusting floor. The three hear something moving above.
Aramis: “The old man kept going.” Aramis points up.
Reeoh: “More of them? Let’s get Perrin first”
Perrin: Perrin opens the door…
GM: …candle in hand, shedding light on the bodies of the three men and the blood staining his clothes.
Reeoh: "And there he is.” She recovers her knife.
Perrin: “Let’s head up and get this dealt with”
Aramis: Aramis nods and returns to the rope with a mind to keep climbing.
GM: In the candlelight, you can see that the ropes pass through a wooden grate above.
Aramis: “Never mind.” He heads for the stairs.
GM: As Perrin hits the landing on the south section of the second story, a burst of sickly green magic energy explodes upward from the wooden floor.
Perrin: (Defend – Athletics +5; invoking Ex-Captain)
GM: His veteran’s instincts allow him to deftly evade the unexpected blast, and he winds up on the far side of the landing.
Perrin: "Careful! Not sure what set that off.”
GM: (Situation Aspect: Floor is Probably Trapped)
Aramis: Aramis looks for the source of the burst, trusting to the price he paid for wisdom (Overcome – Notice +3)
GM: Aramis does not see any obvious trigger. The wooden floor looks as it did before – totally mundane.
Aramis: Aramis does, indeed, pause.
Reeoh: Checks the floorboards for triggering mechanisms (Overcome – Notice +3) “Wow! This a good one!”
Aramis: “Let me try something.” Aramis attempts to disarm it with his magic (Overcome – Lore +5)
GM: The Raven Queen’s holy energy settles over the wooden landing, leaving an icy rime along the edges. The cleric feels fairly confident that his goddess has dealt with the problem.
Aramis: “I think that will help, but mind your footing…” He crosses and continues climbing
GM: Aramis’ and Reeoh’s boots crunch as they walk across the landing to join Perrin on the far side.
Perrin: Perrin cautiously moves forward up the stairs.
GM: They round the eastern corner landing and see a door on the west wall. The stairs continue upward to the north.
Aramis: Aramis tries the door.
GM: The door opens, revealing a room in slightly worse condition than the one on the second story.
Aramis: Aramis casts a light spell as he walks into the room. (Create Advantage – Lore +4)
Reeoh: “why didn’t you do that earlier?”
Perrin: Perrin puts his candle back in his bag
Aramis: (Overcome – Notice +4, invoking the light)
Aramis: “Because I was climbing, and fighting, and DAMN it.”
GM: Aramis’ spell lights up the room … and the dozen or so dire rats therein.
GM: (Reeoh/Perrin, then Aramis/Rats)
Reeoh: Flying knives of doom (Attack – Shoot +2)
GM: (Defend – Athletics +1) She drops a rat.
Reeoh: “Sorry; panic throw.”
Perrin: Perrin fires past Aramis on the left, aiming at one of the rats (Attack – Shoot +3)
GM: (Defend – Atheltics -3, for a difference of +6) Perrin slays half-a-dozen (or so) rats in a single shot.
Aramis: Aramis presses toward the mob with great cleaving swings of Wintertide. (Attack – Fight +7)
GM: (Defend – Fight +4) Only one dire rat remains, but it flees in animal terror at the death around it.
Perrin: Perrin quickly investigates the room (Overcome – Notice +4)
GM: The ropes pass through another grate in the ceiling above. Perrin turns up nothing in the filthy room, but he hears the creaking of boards above their heads, as of someone or something shifting its weight.
Reeoh: Reeoh pokes at the magic light
Aramis: “Stop that,” Aramis tells Reeoh, not without amusement.
Reeoh: “But what’s it burnin’ to make the light?”
Aramis: “It’s divine magic,” he says as he heads back to the stairs.
Perrin: To the stairs.
GM: This large room is crisscrossed with ropes and enormous pulleys, the machinery that allows a single person to ring the enormous bells above with a mere pull on a rope. The agitated squeaking of a rat echoes high above them. Four ropes descend from the ceiling into the room, one attached to each of the bells at the top of the tower. Before coming down here, each rope goes through a pulley in the roof of the tower. The ropes then snake from floor to ceiling, passing through a number of pulleys to distribute the weight of the enormous bells around the structure of the building. Four sturdy wooden beams, 1 foot wide, cross the room 20 feet above the ground, suspending the largest pulleys.
GM: “Should not have come here,” says a voice from somewhere above.
Aramis: “And you should not have attacked people at the fair,” Aramis replies.
GM: (3 zones: Stairs, Floor Level, In the Rafters; Situation Aspects: Beams, Pulleys, and Rope; Persistent Shadows)
Perrin: Perrin enters the room far enough to try and spot the source of the voice. (Overcome – Notice +1)
GM: As soon as Perrin steps in, ratmen leap down from above. (Attack – Fight +3, +4, each invoking Shadows)
Perrin: (Defend – Athletics +3, +2)
GM: One drives him Into the Wall (boost), and the other slashes across his ribs.
GM: A third ratman drops down into the doorway and attacks Aramis. (Attack – Fight +4, as he comes out of some deeper Shadows)
Aramis: (Defend – Fight +4)
GM: “There are many more where that came from,” says the hidden speaker. (Create Advantage – Deceive +2)
Aramis: (Passive Opposition – Empathy +4)
Perrin: (Passive Opposition – Empathy +4)
Reeoh: (Passive Opposition – Empathy +1)
GM: (Situation Aspect: Reeoh Believes Him)
Aramis: “Perhaps, but they aren’t here to fight for you.”
Reeoh: “But there’s still an end to you!” Reeoh swings wildly with a dagger in each hand (Attack – Fight -2)
GM: (Defend – Fight +2, so Success with Style) Reeoh has Overextended (boost).
Perrin: Perrin manages to knock an arrow and fires it point blank at his opponents face. (Attack – Shoot +5)
GM: (Defend – Fight +4) In close quarters, the ratman’s sword pushes Perrin’s aim away from his face, and the arrow pierces his arm instead.
Aramis: Aramis goes to attack the one in his face (Attack – Fight +8)
GM: (Defend – Fight +1)
Aramis: The Raven Queen’s power flows through Wintertide, freezing and shattering the ratman into shards of ice.
GM: The ratmen press their advantage on Perrin. (Attack – Fight +5, invoking boost and his inner Thug)
Perrin: (Defend – Athletics +5, +3)
GM: (Creating another boost. Attack – Fight +6 as the second thug uses the first guy’s boost. Creating yet another boost in addition to the moderate consequence Gettin’ A Little Woozy Here)
GM: The ringleader they saw in the street fair reveals himself, advancing on Aramis with a grin on his face. The smile distorts as he transforms and lunges! (Attack – Fight +6, as the Wererat Leader joins the fray)
Aramis: Aramis recalls a tactic he used against Nightscale, barely matching the leader’s attack (Defend – Fight +6)
GM: Even so he is Pushed Against the Wall (boost).
Reeoh: “Oh it is ON!” She goes after the ratman with an arrow in his arm. (Attack – Fight +5, invoking Loves a Challenge)
GM: (Defend – Fight +5, invoking the boost) She turns the tables, throwing him Off Balance.
Reeoh: She jumps on the rat-man’s back and starts trying to knife him.
GM: He flings her off, but loses his sure footing.
Perrin: Perrin fires at the off balance rat. (Attack – Shoot +7; invoking the boost)
GM: (Defend – Fight +6, with two free invocations, including burning the boost on Perrin) He hurls himself toward Perrin, trying to use the ex-Captain’s wounds against him, but he isn’t quick enough. He drops with a second arrow in him.
Aramis: Aramis attempts to press himself away from the wall, using the momentum to drive his blade home. (Attack – Fight +7)
GM: (Defend – Fight +5; invoking boost against Aramis) He pushes the blade aside, but only barely, feeling Wintertide’s icy sting across his ribs.
GM: The last ratman tries to finish the archer off. (Attack – Fight +2)
Perrin: (Defend – Athletics +6)
GM: He Stumbles as Perrin sidesteps the would-be deathstroke.
GM: The leader tries in earnest to retaliate against Aramis. (Attack – Fight +5)
Aramis: Aramis is caught flat-footed. (Defend – Fight +1)
GM: (3 shifts of stress + a boost against Aramis)
Reeoh: Reeoh skids across the floor from being tossed by the ratman but tosses a knife along the way (Attack – Shoot +3)
GM: He tries to get his sword in the way of Reeoh’s dagger. (Defend – Fight +4)
Reeoh: But he Stumbles, so he has trouble blocking the knife (Attack – Shoot +5; invoking boost)
GM: It sinks into the meat of his arm.
Perrin: Perrin takes advantage of finally getting some space and moves out of the doorway to line up a good shot. (Attack – Shoot +6)
GM: (Defend – Fight +4; He is taken out)
Perrin: The arrow flies through the rat’s neck and into the far wall.
Aramis: Getting frustrated, Aramis lunges for the leader once more. (Attack – Fight +7)
GM: (Defend – Fight +5; invoking boost to no avail) Even at a disadvantage, the Death Goddess’ power surges through her servant and overwhelms the wererat leader’s defenses.
Aramis: Aramis overcorrects his lunge. Wintertide cuts deeply into the wererat’s neck; his death is messier and takes longer than the priest intended. He then looks around for any more threats.
GM: Before his eyes gloss over in death, the wererat turns back into a man and he rasps out, “The Blessed will take you…” Then he breathes his last.
Aramis: “Does that mean anything to either of you?” Aramis asks.
Aramis: “Nor I.” He goes to aid Perrin with his wounds. “I imagine we don’t have long before the Watch comes to see why the bell rang at the wrong time.”
GM: They hear terrified squeaking from the rafters.
Aramis: Aramis follows Perrin into the rafters.
Reeoh: Readies a knife to throw
GM: (Concede) A gray rat in the rafters transforms into the old man from the first floor. “P-please don’t k-kill me…”
Aramis: Aramis looks to Perrin.
Reeoh: “Can’t I just knife his rattyness once before we go?"
Aramis: “No, Reeoh.”
Aramis: (turning back to the old man) “What’s your name?”
GM: “T-Turvin,” he says.
Perrin: Perrin takes some manacles out of his bag and proceeds to shackle the rat. “All right old man. You get to live, but you are going to tell the Watch all about what your band has been doing in town. And you are absolutely going to tell me what happened to my nephew, the Captain of the Watch.”
GM: “Yes, yes. I’ll t-tell the Watch. But I don’t know nothin’ about the C-captain.”
Aramis: (Create Advantage – Empathy +4 to see if he’s truthful on the latter point)
GM: Aramis feels sure that The Wererats Didn’t Attack the Captain.
Aramis: He mentions as much to Perrin.
Perrin: “Great. Glad that’s settled.”
Reeoh: “So, why are you guys making your move now?”
GM: “I dunno! I just watch the bell tower. Squim was in charge!” He gestures at the fallen wererat leader with his manacled hands. “I just rang the bells! I didn’t want this … this c-curse.”
Perrin: “I already guessed that. It’s why I’m being so nice to you. Your family has been tending this tower for generations. It won’t be hard to convince the Watch you were coerced here.”
GM: Turvin, to Perrin: “Y-yes, sir! Th-thank you, sir!”
Aramis: “Would you care to search him, Reeoh?” He indicates Squim.
Reeoh: "Eeew,” she says before searching the corpses.
GM: Reeoh finds a spell scroll on Squim’s body.
Aramis: “Turvin, someone I know may be able to cure you. Provided that you help us. You will help us, yes?”
GM: “Of c-course! Bless you, B-brother!”
Aramis: He nods. “All right.”
* * *
GM: Several members of the Watch are downstairs, some inspecting the bodies, and others searching the apartment. As the three descend the stairs with the keeper of the bell tower in manacles, more than one eyebrow is raised. “Lieutenant … You might wanna come out here,” says a watchman.
GM: Lieutenant Shella comes out of the apartment and looks up with an unreadable expression on her face. After a pregnant silence, she says, “Well?”
Perrin: “I’ll give you the full report later Lieutenant. Right now I’ve been stabbed too many times to concentrate. In summary, we cleaned out a nest of wererats. Oh. And they stabbed first.”
Aramis: “One of them is the leader of the wererats who attacked at the festival.”
GM: “Ah-hah.” She looks over at Turvin. “Is that true, sir? Are – were – you harboring wererats?”
GM: He nods his head vigorously. “They cursed me with their affliction and made me shelter them here in the tower where my family has always served as stewards.” He looks appropriately pathetic.
GM: Lieutenant Shella’s gaze passes across the three before finally settling back on Turvin. “Very well. You are under arrest, pending further investigation into these matters. If it is determined that you acted under coercion, well. The sentencing will go better for you anyway.”
GM: Turvin looks up at Aramis in panic. “Brother! You said you could help!”
Aramis: “Lieutenant, I intend to petition Father Sloane to cure this man in exchange for his cooperation.”
GM: She nods. “Very well. I will include that in my report. If you all would do us the courtesy of providing written statements about your … findings, here, it would save us all some trouble.” Taking your agreement for granted, she waves them off.
Perrin: “I’ll have the report on your desk tomorrow. Also, this nest had nothing to do with what has happened to the Captain.” His disappointment is obvious
GM: Lieutenant Shella nods at Perrin, frowning but not looking surprised. She had, after all, asserted that the wererats were not involved before the three came to the tower.
Reeoh: "So… That was the tower. Where do we look next?
Aramis: “Look for what, Reeoh?”
Reeoh: “The New Captain”
Perrin: “This was our best lead. We’ll have to do some investigating from here. He was last seen in the Chatterstreet Market.”
Aramis: “Perhaps I might tend to your wounds in a more quiet place first.”
Perrin: “Right. Is there somewhere we can go to do that? I don’t like to go home in this condition and remind my family of the dangers of the jo…. of what I do.”
Aramis: “I know just the place.”
* * *
Aramis: Located in Brindinford’s West Hill district, the Raven Queen’s shrine is nearly lost among the monuments that fill its surrounding graveyard.
Reeoh: “Creepy, Brother.”
Aramis: Aramis shrugs. “I find it tranquil, but I know it isn’t to everyone’s liking.”
GM:can be found reading on a bench near the altar of the small shrine.
Reeoh: Drops a couple of coins into the offering box/dish/jar.
Perrin: “I seem to remember some reports of grave robbing a couple of years ago. You were active around the time, weren’t you, Reeoh?” It’s obvious that Perrin is mostly giving Reeoh a hard time.
Reeoh: “Yech… Not a chance it was me.”
Aramis: “I hope not,” Aramis says as he tends to Perrin. “There are few crimes more serious in my eyes.” (Which is as close to a joke as Aramis ever comes)
Perrin: “I can’t say I like the feel of this place. My family only really ever comes here on sad occasions. I’ll leave the caretaking of the dead to Father Sloane. I’m more concerned of who is watching over the living.”
Aramis: “No one does. It’s a very specific succor that we – Father.” He bows his head.
GM: They aren’t aware of Sloane standing over them until he is. “Aramis,” he says, his soft voice a terrible bass.
Aramis: “I believe you remember Perrin?”
GM: His eyes slide slowly, deliberately to the sword sheathed at Aramis’ side. Just as slowly, his gaze returns to the junior priest’s face and then over to to Perrin. As always, his every action is … ponderous. “Of course.”
Perrin: “Hello Father. Thank you for your hospitality.”
Aramis: “And this is Reeoh.”
Reeoh: “Uh… Hello.”
GM: He nods absently, not truly acknowledging the girl. His gaze settles back on Aramis, threatening to bury him under its gravity.
Aramis: “I’ve been helping them with an investigation and I could use your assistance.” He tells the Father about the situation, ending with, “Does ‘The Blessed’ mean anything to you?”
GM: “‘Investigation,’” he says, eyeing the blood and then the sword again. “You still do not feel it.” It is not a question.
Aramis: “Not yet.” It’s difficult to say how he feels about that from just those two words.
GM: He inhales deeply, slowly. His breath gradually wanders out of his body and off into the universe. “No. ‘The Blessed’ means nothing to me.”
Aramis: “I see. I could also use your help curing a lycanthrope. If I can secure a proper scroll, I believe I can perform the ritual myself.”
GM: “Ten,” says Sloane. It was not an answer to Aramis’ request.
Aramis: “Very well. Thank you, Father.”
GM: “You misunderstand, Brother.”
Aramis: “Oh?” He looks up. “I cry your pardon, Father.”
GM: “Ten souls,” he … “clarifies.”
Aramis: “It will be as you ask.”
GM: “Good. Don’t be late. They will be here anon.” Father Sloane turns and walks back toward his bench and his book.
Aramis: “So,” he says to his companions. “That doesn’t leave me much time to get to Chatterstreet. Shall we?”
Aramis: He gets up to leave.
GM: The others follow.
* * *
Father Sloane closes his eyes, concentrating to dull the sensation of the recent dead in Brindinford. “What manner of instrument have you sent me, my Queen?” he says. “What am I to do with this blind, deaf Shepherd?”