Runequest - Adventures in Prax

Category: Campaign Sessions

Nov 21
Or this week!

Once again real life has got in the way of gaming, so no session this week.

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink
Nov 14
No game this week

Unfortunately there's no session this week - normal service will be resumed next Thursday.

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink
Nov 9
Episode 3: Tourney Altar to Scalegate

Leaving behind the pyre of smouldering corpses, the caravan continued on its journey, arriving in Tourney Altar later that day.

Tourney Altar is a place held sacred by worshippers of the death god Humakt, and reputed to be the place where he fought many foes. It is a small oasis, with no town to speak of, a small lake surrounded by a scattering of date and olive trees. On the eastern side of the lake sits the altar itself, a natural ampitheatre surrounded with a series of pillars, weathered by centuries of Praxian dust storms and a monument to a bygone age.

As the caravan approached the oasis, a man could be seen standing in the middle of the trail, his sword planted in the ground before him. Lollos called the caravan to a halt, clearly unsure what to do in the circumstances. Rhodrin noticed Daine in animated conversation with the duke, and overhead the latter say “You must do what must be done, and so must he”. Daine’s shoulders visibly slumped.

The man approached, and it was clear that he was a devotee of death, for his armour was covered in depictions of its rune, and similar tattoos marked his face. A sense of foreboding fell over the caravan as he drew near, as though death itself walked among them. The man’s gazed flickered between Daine and Rile as he spoke, his voice harsh.

“Oathbreakers. You have been summoned, and you have answered the call as you must. You know why you are here”. It wasn’t a question, but both Daine and Rile nodded, their faces grim. “You will enter the arena at the appointed hour, where death awaits you. My lord shall be avenged for your betrayal”.

With that the man abruptly turned on his heel and stalked away towards the monument, and for a brief moment, Rhodrin spotted what appeared to be a great number of warriors through the trees, the Praxian sun glinting off their armour.

The caravan pulled up near the lake and began to break camp, but while the other bondsmen went about their duties, Rile followed Daine to a place of solitude, and there they began to pray, and to seek guidance from their god Yanafal Tarnils. Tonight they would stand in his place, defending the honour of their god against Humakt, and champion the cause of the red goddess.

Some hours later, the two men walked through the darkness among the trees and into the bowl. As they crested the lip of the natural amphitheatre they realised that there must have been dozens of warriors, all wearing full armour as though preparing for battle. A low chanting could be heard, which did not pause or falter as the two men walked towards the centre of the bowl. In several places could be seen warriors duelling in slow motion, attack and counter, their faces a mask of concentration.

Two figures stepped from among the crowd, selected above all the others to represent Humakt in the upcoming ritual. A human called Mondar and a duck named Nelkark, both wore heavy armour and carried supernaturally gleaming swords, iridescent in the faint moonlight. Both were highly skilled, and both were questing for the status of Death Knight. Victory tonight would continue their progress towards that exalted position, failure meant the very real prospect of death. Neither of them feared the latter.

As the two men faced the Humakti, the chanting increased, rapidly reaching a crescendo, and the world about the men began to blur, the land about them becoming increasingly indistinct, until each was alone except for his foe. Rile felt the air around him chill, saw the ground beneath him was bare and broken, and became aware of a towering cliff to his right, stretching up as far as he could see. He turned to the duck, gave a final prayer to Yanafal Tarnils, and advanced.

Rile had fought many foes in his time in the red army, but none had he met with the skill and speed of Nelkark. Every swing he made was countered with ease, every thrust he made met air. The duck seemed content to size up his opponent, making no overtly aggressive moves until it was ready. When that moment arrived, Rile suddenly found himself facing a wall of steel, the ducks sword a blur in its hand. He desperately tried to parry the assault, but ultimately could not counter every attack and blood began to pour from a dozen wounds. Weakening through blood loss, he could no longer hold back the storm, and gasped as he felt the opposing blade shear through his upper left arm, slicing through bone and sinew as though they were paper. As he slumped to the ground and darkness began closing in, he felt a strange tugging sensation, as though someone was trying to reach him, to pull him back from the void. A beautiful song flittered around the edge of his perception, but try as he might, he could not focus on it, could not answer the call. Tonight he would fail the red goddess.

Daine had fared little better, even though he was more skilled than the man he faced. Hamstrung by his opponent early on, he could not counter the blows that rained down on him, quickly crumpling to the ground. Mondar the Humakti gave out a great roar, holding his sword aloft in victory to his god. But Daine had spent a lifetime in service to Yanafal Tarnils, and knew the call of the lady when it came. Just like his god had done, he rejected the finality of death, climbing to his feet in defiance of his former master. He struck Mondar several terrible blows, and the potential death lord collapsed into the dust, his eyes glazing over.

Daine found himself back in the amphitheatre, the chanting now reducing in intensity. Nearby Rile lay unmoving, a Humakti leaning over him stemming the blood from numerous cuts over his body. His arm was still attached, but was blackened and discoloured, as though suffering some great trauma. Rile groaned, and staggered to his feet, his arm strangely numb. The Humakti who had met them the day before stood before him, then reached down and took Rile's sword.

“Tonight Humakt has taken death from you, just as I take it from you now.”

He slid Rile’s sword into his belt, nodded once at Daine, his dark eyes brooding, then turned and walked over to the still body of Mondar the fallen Humakt. Taking this as their cue to leave, Daine and Rile left the arena, the latter unable to walk far without help from the old rune lord.

The next morning the caravan left early, with Raus keen to push on away from this dread place. Daine spoke to no-one of the previous nights events, and Rile too was very quiet, the enormity of what had happened still playing on his mind. He had some feeling in his arm, but the discolouration showed no sign of going, and the wounds inflicted on it would take an age to heal.

The caravan headed across the Praxian steppes towards Biggle Stone, the final oasis on their journey before Raus and his party would leave the safety of the caravan and make their way across the Eirithan Hills towards Horn Gate and his home. The four day journey passed with little incident, save for a brief encounter with members of the Basmoli tribe, who tracked the caravan for several hours. Sisko was happy to talk to the bondsmen about these strange but disappearing denizens of Prax, telling them of nature of the tribe and their worship of the lion god.

Eventually the caravan arrived at Biggle Stone, a relatively large oasis with a small town next to the lake. Temples and shrines to various gods were present, and the few vendors who had set up shop here were keen to trade with the caravan. Of more interest to the group was the large forest of mushrooms that had grown up some distance from the oasis. Questioning the nomads, they discovered that the ‘Twisted One’ had appeared some thirty years ago, and the mushroom forest had grown almost overnight around him. The Biggle Stone itself had not been seen since the arrival of the forest. The Twisted One was reputed to be keen to trade goods and information, and was known to brew many strange potions from his grotto in the centre of the forest. Keen to trade with him, but having nothing to offer, Karnak attempted to steal several small bags of exotic spices from one of the caravan wagons, while Strum created a diversion elsewhere, which he was happy to do. Spying two of the irritatingly smug Sable riders nearby, he proceeded to question the lineage of their mothers, fathers, grandfathers, and would have moved on to more distantly related kinsmen had the sable riders not launched themselves at him in fury. He floored the first with a single punch, and the second, finding himself suddenly alone against the huge storm bull warrior, beat a hasty retreat, dragging his friend with him, and yelling a whole range of threats and curses at the big man.

Despite this excellent distraction, Karnak proved to be a singularly incompetent thief (presumably the reason why he had been arrested by the Lunars in the first place), almost dropping the first bag he tried to lift, spilling the contents of the second all over the floor, and only managing to grab a single bag before several lunar cavalryman guards rounded the corner and he had to make good his escape before he was noticed.

Armed with this one bag, Karnak, Rhodrin and Strum headed for the centre of the forest, but were met midway by a small group of dark trolls and trollkin, who demanded payment to use ‘their path’. The bondsmen turned down an offer of a contest, but offered some of the spice to the dark trolls, which turned out to have slightly narcotic properties to the race of darkness creatures, who were happy to let the three men past after snorting the powdery substance.

The Twisted One, who turned out to be a dark elf, was very pleased to see them, and they sat for some time talking of many things, although he would brook no discussion on the whereabouts of the mysterious Biggle Stone. Eventually the talk turned to trade, with the elf pleased to get the spice while the three men each received a potion of vitality which the small elf insisted was “strong stuff”. Bidding farewell, they returned to the caravan, stepping past the two snoring dark trolls as they went.

The duke had managed to employ the services of a young nomad woman, who would lead them through the Eirithan Hills, and he had sent Brakiri on in advance to scout the area. The other bondsmen each went to their respective shrines to pray, with Karnak eager to prepare for an approaching Orlanth holy day. He would not be able to join a ceremony at a temple, and therefore was very keen to obtain the necessary holy items that would allow him to perform the appropriate rituals himself. Strum visited the Storm Bull shrine, and while there was hit by a sudden burst of energy, signalling that the bull was very active at this time. What the meaning of this was, he could not say.

The next day the duke and his party, consisting of Daine, the bondsmen and the six nomads, set out along a secret trail over the Eiritha Hills towards Horn Gate. Within a few hours they met a small group of Morocanth descending in a hurry. (The Morocanth are one of the great tribes of Prax, humanoid tapirs who were the only animal tribe to win the contests of intelligence that Waha held - to discern who would eat and whom would be eaten. As a consequence the Morocanth herd unintelligent human seeming ape-men, the descendents of the human tribe that lost in the contest.) Karnak was outraged at the sight of these seemingly human people being treated in such a way, and although the nomads explained the story of the Morocanth to him, which seemed to placate him somewhat, he was clearly still struggling to understand this strange phenomenon. One Morocanth was a Storm Bull and called out to Strum that the might of the bull was approaching, although he refused to speak any further to them. Raus insisted that they press on, but that night a terrible storm began building and by the following morning it had quickly become a sandblown hell. The noise was deafening, and they could barely see more than a few feet in front of their faces, as they struggled forward looking for some semblance of shelter.

Strum remembered his encounter with the Father, and tried to call on him to see them through this supernatural tempest, but the winds and driving sand proved too much and he lost his balance, tumbling down a rocky slope and landing winded at the bottom. Rhodrin and Karnak attempted to catch him but could not, and were both blown down the slope, with Rhodrin also tumbling some way down. Karnak dragged them both to their feet and they stumbled on for no more than a few dozen yards when they could suddenly scarcely believe their eyes. There in front of them lay what appeared to be a small city, a shimmering shield of energy protecting it from the storm, and even more amazing were the dragonewt warrior guards who opened the gates and bid them enter, greeting them happily.

Once inside they could see the storm raging above them outside, but were completely protected from it within the city. They found shelter in a nearby tavern, but the innkeeper seemed very surly and served them only after several attempts to catch his attention. The Lankhor Mhy sage Rhodrin in particular was amazed at his surroundings, quickly spotting that both the dress and equipment of the people resembled that of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends, an empire that was wiped out over five hundred years previously. While Karnak and Strum sampled the ales of the tavern, Rhodrin quizzed everyone who would talk to him, although very few would, calling him an ‘Old World Traditionalist’, one who had no concept of the great dragon to come. He learned that the city was called Tikkillittikkarri by the Dragonewts, but more commonly Scalegate by the humans who inhabited it, and it was situated in the area known as Dragon Pass. References to places such as Sartar or Boldhome were met with blank stares, and Rhodrin soon returned to his companions, both confused by the situation he found himself in, and elated at the thought of all this lost knowledge sitting at his fingertips.

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink
Nov 3
Episode 2: Pimper's Block to Tourney Alter

The camp broke early the following morning, with both Duke Raus and Lollos the caravan master keen to get away as soon as possible. A breakfast of oatmeal was served from a communal pot, then bedrolls were stowed, mules harnessed, and armour donned as the caravan prepared to leave.

The previous night the duke had added one more to his party, an Agimori called Brakiri, and he was now introduced to the other bondsmen.

Unfortunately for Rile, he was taken ill that morning and had to be laid out on the back of a wagon. Although the cause of the illness was not immediately obvious, his fellow bondsmen would later learn that after leaving the group the previous day, Rile had ultimately been tempted by a lady of rather dubious nature, who clearly did not have the skills (or cleanliness) of the initiates of the temple of Uleria. While he may have saved himself a silver or two, he would spend the next few days lying in his own sweat and vomit, while his body fought the burning rash in his groin.*

The caravan consisted of six large wagons, bedecked with Lunar symbols and markings, and pulled by a dozen mules. Another forty mules made up the remainder of the pack animals, the lowly mule being one of the few animals that are known to be acceptable to Praxian nomads. Both the duke and Daine were mounted on war zebras, and other zebras were available to the bondsmen if they wished although only Karnak accepted the offer. Ribron’s limited riding skills meant that he preferred to ride on a wagon, while Strum, being a mighty warrior of the bison tribe, refused to lower himself to riding a zebra. Brakiri the Agimori refused any suggestion of riding a mount and ran or walked alongside the caravan barely breaking a sweat, his body ideally suited to this harsh environment.

The going was good underfoot, and it became clear that they were travelling on some kind of caravan trail. Now and then it was possible to see that generations of use had cut pathways through ridges, and from time to time scraps of cloth, and the occasional bone, marked the passage of people before them. The Praxian landscape stretched ahead of them in all its desolate glory, the harsh winds whispering of bygone glories and ancient civilisations. The hills of eastern Sartar soon disappeared into the haze as the caravan made good time, skirting around the north eastern edge of Hender's Hills.

At the noon break on the first day, as promised their weapons were given to them. Raus himself handed them out, calling each bondsman by name, saying "Here is your weapon, if you wield it with honour in my service, you shall become and remain a welcome member of my household. Blessings of the House of Rone be upon you." By the formal manner of his presentation they suspected that Raus was from an ancient house and a practitioner of Ancestor Worship.

The rest of the day and much of the next passed without incident, as the caravan wound it’s way south east towards its destination of Day’s Rest, an oasis some five days travel from Pimper’s Block. As noon approached on the second day, Karnak was the first to spot a gnarled and blackened tree some way from the trail, upon which he could see the occasionally moving form of a crucified man. Daine warned him that it was probably the result of a local dispute and they should not get involved, but a discussion with his companions quickly confirmed his suspicions that the only people who used crucifixion in this region were the Lunars. After the caravan stopped for its noon break, Karnak and Brikiri slipped away around the back of some dunes and cautiously approached the tree, all the time looking for any sign of an ambush. Satisfied that the area was safe, they approached the man, who raised his head as they approach and pleaded for water. While Brakiri kept watch, Karnak attempted to get answers from the man about who had done this to him, and was dissatisfied with the man’s answer of bandits. However, with him being a fellow Sartarite, and with no wish to see a kinsman die such an ignominious death out here in the wastelands, Karnak cut him down and gave him a little food and water. The Sartarite, who’s name turned out to be Calic, thanked Karnak profusely, and said he would be heading north to the oasis of Moonbroth, where he had relatives. Karnak gave him a dagger to protect himself, warned him against telling anyone of the nature of his release, and then he and Brakiri returned to the camp before their absence was noted.

That night on watch duty an old man approached Strum, wearing the rags of once rich clothes. His friends seemed to take no notice of the man, and Strum felt strangely calm, feeling no need to notify the rest of the guards of the man’s presence. They sat and talked, and the man, who introduced himself as the Father, told a story of how he was once a powerful spirit in the Gods Time but was enslaved in the Underworld, escaping behind Orlanth and the other Lightbringers. He was enslaved again as watchman over an area to the north called the Dead Place, where the Storm Bull fell as he fought the Devil, and from which Eiritha sucked the life force in order to revitalize him to continue the fight. They talked long into the night, and it was only when the first rays of Yelm appeared in the east that the Father stood and turned to go. He then stopped and thanked Strum

“Tonight you have given me the gifts of food, water, and conversation, for which I am grateful. I would like to give you a gift in return, if you will take it.”

Strum agreed, and the Father reached into his pouched, producing a small glowing light which flew from his hand and slammed into Strum’s head. At this point Strum awoke, it was still the middle of the night, and his fellow watchmen were looking at him with some displeasure for falling asleep on duty. As he rubbed his forehead, he felt a small round scar that had not been there before. Later than night he dreamt of the old man, saw him chanting and dancing as he walked through a place of utter desolation, and knew that if he called on the Father he too would be able find his way through such places.

Three days later the caravan arrived at Day’s Rest, a mild and moderately sized oasis. The lake itself was surrounded by a small forest, and the whole fertile area was in a wide shallow valley, which collected the moisture from round about. The Duke’s nomads told them that this was where Waha let the herd mothers rest after rescuing them from the Underworld. Also it transpired that the lake is magical and frees any herd beast that swims there from lice and flies. The nomads in residence were a group of the pygmy Bolo-Lizard riders, however, apart from a ritual challenge attack on the caravan they did nothing to make themselves noticeable.

The local Oasis People lived in huts and hammocks amongst the trees, tending their own small gardens and minding their own business. It was the first chance for the bondsmen to observe Oasis People in detail, and they learned that these folk were descended from an ancient people that lived in this part of the world during the God Time.

Rhodrin was keen to expand on his knowledge of Praxian nomads and approached the Bolo Lizard riders, unaware of their somewhat savage natures. Being alone and unprotected, he had little idea of the danger he would find himself in, as the Bolo Lizard riders quickly surrounded him, bound his hands, and led him to their encampment. Fortunately for Rhodrin a shaman was present who he was able to converse with. The shaman was angry with Rhodrin, and demanded to know what he was doing travelling with the Lunar invaders, who had brought foreign gods to their climes and who were trying to drive them away from their traditional hunting grounds. Rhodrin calmed him with a stirring speech of the hatred he and his fellow Orlanthis felt towards the Lunar invaders, and how one day his people would drive the Chaotic ones back from where they came. While the shaman cared little for Orlanthi barbarians, he was impressed with the anti-lunar rhetoric and began to warm to Rhodrin, removing his bonds. They exchanged gifts in a rare moment of camaradarie between the two cultures, then Rhodrin returned to his comrades and the caravan left a few hours later.

They traveled on the next day, continuing southeast. Over to the southwest they could make out the top of an enormous rectangular hill, which could not be natural. This was The Block, a remnant of The Spike, a vast celestial object where the gods used to live before the coming of Chaos. The legend was that the Spike exploded and a piece of it fell down here onto Prax where Stormbull and the Devil were fighting. It skewered the devil and killed him. From beneath the ground chaos ooze has seeped ever since, forming a large region known as the Devil's Marsh, where chaos creatures dwell. Around the Block itself, tribes of chaos-killing Storm Bull fanatics live, intent on making sure that the Devil can never be freed to continue it’s evil work.

That night near the Marsh there was a skirmish attack by scorpion men on the caravan. The party were heavily involved, demonstrating why the duke had felt it so important to employ them. Brakiri skewered one through the face with his spear, both Rhodrin and Karnak fought fiercely, and Strum was a whirling wall of death, his great axe singing in his hands as struck huge blows against the chaos monstrosities. All were injured, and some will carry scars of the battle to their graves, but eventually the scorpion men were driven off and the defenders of the caravan were able to tend to their wounded. That was, until they noticed how unnaturally quiet the plains had gone.

Then out of the shadows appeared the true danger – a fully armed and armoured chaos warband from the devils marsh, including huge broos and more foul scorpion men. With bestial shrieks that chilled the bones, they advanced towards the caravan, and the heroes feared that the day was surely lost.

Strum was the first to notice the wind, whipping up from nowhere, blowing dust and grit into the eyes of the beasts as it quickly gathered pace, and he knew immediately it’s source. “The Bull! The Bull is here…!!!” went up the cry, as from behind the beasts more shapes appeared, armoured men with great horns on their helmets and axes in their hands. These Storm Bull warriors had been tracking the warband for days, and luckily for the caravan had finally caught up with them just in time. They fell upon the beasts roaring, hacking, and slaying as they went. Strum was consumed by his hatred for chaos and charged headlong into the fray, closely followed by his friends who fought with him side by side, ducking the occasional wild swing from the berserker’s axe. The battle was bloody but one-sided, and the Storm Bulls chased after the retreating chaos creatures, slaughtering as they went.

Later they held a ceremonial pyre to burn the chaos corpses. Anyone who stood and fought against the Chaos was invited to participate in the dancing round the bonfire. The four bondsmen took part, and were rewarded with the gift of a divine spell from the Storm Bull, a benefit for taking part in an action so close to the his Holy Place. They then celebrated with the Storm Bull warriors, feasting and drinking their way through much of the night, and with heavy movements and painful heads, they awoke the following morning as the caravan continued on its journey to the next oasis, Tourney Alter.

*Missing sessions is generally not a good idea... :o)

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink
Nov 3
Episode 1: To Pimper's Block, and a new beginning

The caravan wound its way out of the foothills of Sartar and out into the harsh dry plains of Prax, its armoured soldiers cursing at the rising temperatures. Still half a day out from Pimper’s Block, the slave market on the edge of Prax, the caravan had to be on its guard against raids from the beast riding nomadic tribesmen of the region, possible bandit attacks, and a host of other potential dangers.

Walking alongside the caravan, shackled two at a time, four men trod wearily, their stomachs aching with hunger, their throats parched through lack of water. A rebel, a scholar, a nomad raider, and a deserter, all four had been convicted of a crime against the Lunar Empire, and initially sentenced to serve five years down the salt mines of the Big Rubble. However, the gods of these men surely watched over them at this time, for through the help of friends and contacts, each had managed to have that sentenced commuted to a term of indentured servitude instead. While their lot at this time was poor, they only had to look across at the wretches in the slave cordons to know that it could have been considerably worse.

However, a five year term of servitude was about to become the least of their worries, for as the caravan trail cut through the spine of a low ridge, a hail of arrows, rocks, slingshots and other various missiles hit the caravan from both sides. A bestial roar was heard as almost two dozen feral broos appeared from behind cover and began rushing towards the caravan. The keen-eyed rebel, Karnak, spotted one in particular which appeared very mis-shapen, and seemed to have difficulty staying on its feet.

Guard duty to a Praxian caravan is usually reserved for the dregs of the Lunar army, and today was no exception. However, their officer was no fool, and quickly realised that they were seriously outnumbered by the broos. Handing the keys of the shackles to a nearby soldier, he instructed him to grab whatever weapons he could find and release the bondsmen. Alas for the poor soldier, as he struggled towards the four men, he failed to spot the mis-shapen broo launch itself from the ground using a pair of enormous legs, flying through the air and landing directly behind him, it’s spearhead bursting through his ribcage and spraying blood and tissue across the bondsmen. The broo threw back its head and let out a savage roar, revelling in the carnage it had begun.

The deserter, a Lunar by the name of Rile, grabbed at the spearhead, ignoring the warning from Rhibron the scholar of the dangers of touching broo weapons. Giving it a might heave, he pulled it clean though the soldier’s body, who slumped to the ground, his eyes already dimming. Meanwhile Karnak managed to grab the keys where they had fallen to the floor, and undid his chains. Rhibron and Strum, the fourth man and a member of the bison tribe, grabbed whatever weapons they could lay their hands on and tried to attack the broo, hampered by the chains that still held them together. Between the four of them they managed to bring down the great beast before it could cause them significant harm, just as they were set upon by several smaller broos.

Fortunately for them, these creatures were feral in nature, untrained and ill-disciplined, and with little in the way of proper weapons or armour. They proved to be no match for the bondsmen, who cut through them with the great ferocity, blood and gore dripping from their makeshift weapons. Having dispatched their foes, they could see that the rest of the soldiers appeared to be gaining the upper hand, so while the others cast various healing magic on their wounds, Rile headed for the slave area, where the unfortunate individuals were being savaged by a stray broo. Quickly dispatching it, his thoughts briefly turned to escape, a possibility it seemed while the lunar guards were occupied in mopping up the broos, but he quickly dismissed it. He had no food or water, had no knowledge of how to find it out here in the harsh region of Prax, and ultimately no knowledge of where he could run to. Instead, he decided to follow the path that fate had shown him thus far, and returned to his companions. The fight was almost over, with the remaining broos fleeing back into the hills, their numbers significantly reduced. Fortunately for the four men, none had taken any serious wounds, nor had they been infected by any diseases carried by the foul beasts of chaos.

The Lunar commander took their weapons from them, and while acknowledging their part in the defense of the caravan, still felt it necessary to re-shackle them in case they might otherwise be tempted to make a break for freedom. After stacking the corpses of the dead beasts and setting them ablaze, the caravan continued on to Pimper’s Block, which it reached early that afternoon.

The rest of the day followed in a blur. The four men were put up for auction one by one, and although there was interest from several parties, it was the same voice that ultimately won each bid, a strong commanding voice with a Lunar accent. They were then led to a small chamber where powerful oaths were taken, binding them to their new master, before being led out blinking into the harsh Praxian afternoon sun.

After a short wait a warrior approached them, wearing battered iron armour and carrying many scars. He introduced himself as Daine, chief of mercenaries to the Duke Raus of Rone, now duke of the Weiss domain. He informed them that the duke was a fair man, who while under instructions to employ only Lunars in his household, had chosen instead to hire outsiders, so as to better understand their cultures and ways of life. They then followed him through the town where he introduced them to the duke, a stern looking man of noble bearing. The duke eyed them carefully for a second, and then spoke.

"I know a little about you from your records. I don't care to know any more. From this moment on you can choose to leave your past behind. I chose you because I have room for some people to work for me and because I have been offered your free labour. I have a measure of compassion for your fate as exiles, I know that the Lunar Empire has treated you harshly, as it has so treated me. Those of the Heartland cults are favored and those in traditional local cults gain second-class status.

Don't get me wrong, I support the aims of the Empire, because it brings peace and civilisation to these barbarian lands. Whilst the methods of the Empire may seem heavy handed, the people on these borderlands continually war with each other as a matter of course, and only the presence of the Empire has stopped this! I aim to rebuild my prestige here in Prax and take a stand for the disenfranchised of the Empire. You can find your own place as my trusted employees, and one day return to your homes as free citizens, or stay here in Prax as honorable independents if that is what you wish. Work well for me and I guarantee you will be rewarded, however do not attempt to treat me light-heartedly. Cross me, and you may or may not live to feel the consequences. To live is not necessarily the better option.

We will be travelling across Prax for two or three weeks until we reach my Garth near Weiss. From now on in the eyes of others you will be treated as regular hired mercenaries, and you will be wise to treat me as your regular employer. I do not wish to gain a reputation for hiring criminals, so I advise you to keep quiet about the exact nature of your arrival in Prax. As bonded servants you can rightly expect no reward other than food and lodging, and if you grudgingly fulfill the bare limits of your obligations, that is how things will remain. However, if you throw yourself into faithful and honest service in my land you will soon find yourselves entitled to a share of any goods obtained whilst in my service. I will review your work regularly, and those who please me will also soon find themselves on the payroll. After the payroll, positions of responsibility and trust await you. Whatever your backgrounds, I judge you on your behavior from now on."

Daine then introduced them to the rest of Raus' party. These were a small group of Praxian nomads. Each of those worked for Raus for their own reasons, although in truth all had been swayed by the civilised encroachment of the Lunars into Prax. As inevitably happens when civilisation encroaches on tribal/traditional territory, a few of the tribespeople are drawn to the new culture and serve it for their own gain. Often this is exploitation, but in this case the nomads are gainfully and profitably employed. As Daine led them to the centre of the camp he said:

"The Praxian peoples are split into tribes, most of which are the beast riding nomads. Each of these nomad tribes rides, herds and eats a different animal. They have an ancient hatred of horses, which is why the Duke favours the use of Zebras. During drought the nomads fight each other for resources. During peace they are sometimes friends. The Duke has members of three different tribes in his employ. I believe they are at peace with each other."

At first appearance they were a motley band, with no real distinguishing characteristics, dressed in skins, with feathers, scars and even some painted faces. They introduced themselves civilly but warily; Modrik Longneck, Palorn, and Gorak Ribcrusher of the Llama Tribe, Sisko and Burzek of the Zebra Tribe, and finally Dahrun of the Ostrich Tribe.

Daine then took the three bondsmen back into the town. He supervised the purchase of a weapon and suitable armor for each of them, before finally easing up.

"I'd like to start our working relationship by cutting you some slack. The days ahead will be tough enough. You have a few hours before nightfall, why not wander around, get yourselves something to eat..." He handed over a bag of silver pennies to Rile. "Be back at the tents by dark, if you get lost, ask any Lunar official where Raus is camped, tell them you have permission to be in town. Don't get into any trouble, it's too close to the slave pens to do that". But as they turned to leave, he clamped a firm hand on Karnak’s shoulder, who had earlier spoken out of turn on several occasions.
“All except for you that is...there are some latrines that need a good clean, and you seem like just the man for the job!”

The others wandered the busy market town for a while, amidst the square flat-roofed buildings, observing the free entertainment: street theatre, musicians, and fire-eaters. Rile left soon after, taking what he felt was his share of the silvers, preferring some time alone after his long trek. After a meal and a bath, Rhodrin and Strum headed for the temple of Uleria to sample further local delights that had been denied to them for what seemed like an eternity, before returning to the dukes camp in time for sundown. Tired and footsore, they wanted to be ready for whatever fate had in store for them over the coming weeks and months ahead.

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink

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