An epic search for the Amethyst heptagon leads a party of fresh graduates through the northern reaches of Ustalav. Based in Karcau, the party visits places like the dark Castle Jarovich or the dangerous alleys of Carrion Hill.
As you glance over your shoulder, you are surprised to see two Nightscarves standing about 8m behind. Both have opened their leather frocks and their hands rest on their pistols...you are not quite sure if the fact that Isabel is protected by the elite city guard is a good thing or not...
So my impression was correct, Sir Zekkaran is every inch a knight in shiny armour. Let's say I would be willing to help you, what can you offer me in return, Kirk Spearborn? Ser Aramis in no weak opponent, working against him might backlash on all of us.
Solaric returns to his room in the temple and begins a quiet time of prayer and atonement.
"Almighty Inheritor, you are my refuge and my strength. Oh how glorious and full of wonder is your name over all the land. Humbly now, I bow before you and lift up my heart in praise.
As I pray to you, guide me that I may be at one with you. Open my heart that I will not fear. Though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult, let the calming river whose streams comfort the soul, flow through me. Your voice resounds and when morning dawns, let me channel your will that I may serve you ever, and always."
"As I go forth tomorrow, let me fulfill your will, as you would have it done. Let me set an example for others to follow, that I may guide them to your shining light!"
"My dearest Iomedae, God of Righteousness and Justice, I ask for your guidance and blessings as I seek to be joined with the Countess Sassandra Livgrace. If it is to be your will that we be joined together, then guide me in all that I say, think, and do, and let me glorify your name by winning this tournament. As I follow this path laid before me, I ask that you let our union be for the fulfillment of your will and the bringing about of your realm in Ustulav and the remainder of this earth. I humbly ask for your blessings in this matter. Guide me now, and let me hear the voice that has been heard by those who seek to see and know thy face. Let your will be done in me and through me, forever and ever!"
As Solaric finishes his prayer, he sits in quiet meditation, listening for the voice of the Inheritor that flows within him.
"I deal in favors, mostly: if you need something done, someone taken care of, I can help you. We have resources at our disposal that you might find useful in the future--if you're concerned, consult your Nightscarves. We've worked with them before." Kirk nods to her guards, but is a little concerned by their presence.
Yeah please go ahead with the tournament. This whole one post a day back and forth thing has slowed us down a bit, sorry group :)
Ok, we hve a deal mister Spearborn. Expect results tomorrow night, but remember, you are now in my debt...and I have a favour for free.
her green eyes sparkle like little gems and you wonder what this woman has in mind.
After reading for several hours in the library, more than once disturbed by the band of imps (books flying around, strange smells, small hallucinations, exploding rodents...), you manage to find out the first piece of one of the riddles. In older manuscript you find the term "Crowned Stone" referring to the mountains now known as Kronstein Ridge.
---Tournament Day I---
Another cold morning in Karcau and even though the city should be bustling with activity now that the tounament is about to start, the streets are mostly deserted. There is a bit more activity in front of the massive southern gate, where a lot of the competitions will take place, still you would have expected more. Stands have been errected along the city wall, but only about 30% of it are filled.
In front of their colourful tents, Sinaria's warrior elite gets ready for the day: warm-up exercises, last checks of equipment and so forth.
A large oaken plate next to the gate reads
Morning: Joust - Tournament Field
Afternoon: Bardic Performance - Swansong House
Solaric spends the morning in prayer and prepares his spells for the day. After prayers, he goes to wake Flofer and be sure he is ready for the day.
"Good Morning, Flofer! Today is the big day. I trust you rested well, and are prepared to help me as my squire! Be sure to get yourself a good breakfast! Today the Glory of Iomedae will shine upon us! I will see you at breakfast!"
Solaric then proceeds to find Harl.
"Good Morning, my friend! The day is upon us! Will you join Flofer and I for breakfast and head over to the tournament field with us?"
After Breakfast, Solaric goes out to the stables and grooms and prepares Dart for the day. He then proceeds to the Tournament Field.
Upon seeing the lack of spectators, he begins to wonder.
Hmm? I know there is great evil coming upon Karcau from the north, but I did not expect it to keep the people away from the tournament. Perhaps it is still too early.
Solaric approaches the warrors and greets them kindly. "Good day, Gentlemen! What a fine brisk morning it is for a tournament!"
Solaric proceeds to find a lance and barding for Dart that may be needed.
In the morning Johenric wakes up late; however the proof of the kronstein reference gives him a good feeling. Knowing that he was asked to observe Solaric during the tournament, he moves later to his temple.
After joining the paladins for their morning meal, Harl decides it best to stay near Flofer as an additional...guide. Seeing the boy seems to have the jitters he slaps him on the back and says "What ya shaken fer, boy. Get me all nervous just lookin' at ya. Yer quiverin' more 'han a split goblin. It's obvious ye got more guts than that o'herwise ye'd never lived this long. Solaric is dependin' upon ye taday. NOw buck up an' follow the lead ah some them heroes ye be spoutin' about!"
Once Johenric, Harl, Flofer and Solaric have regrouped and walked to the tournament place, Solaric spots a long queue in front of the tournament's armory tents.
Most knights have arrived without bardings for their horses and so it will at least take an hour until everyone is equipped and ready.
Meanwhile barkers move through the crowd, along the stands and around the tents and announce the pairings for the first round of the joust, among many others you hear some names that might be of interest for you
Solaric Zekkaran - Wilhelm, the Hammer, Vogt
Narumek the Unforgiving - Piotr Solad
Aramis de Voisseur - Olaf Welken
Andreanu Salva - Adrian Blackcliff
Stephen Livgrave - Karan, Blacksword, Ilius
""Well I seem to have recovered my good graces now, who needs assistance?"
"Your Grace! I am delighted to see that you are here! I was told that you were ill an unable to leave your room. I do hope you are feeling better! You know that I can alway use your assistance. I cannot list the number of time you have bailed me out of trouble! I am truly honored that you came!"
"Well, it appear that my first opponent is Wilhelm, the Hammer, Vogt. I was wondering if you have heard of such a fellow? I also noticed that Aramis is set to compete against Olaf Welken. I wonder how that match will fare?"
"I was wondering if you have heard of such a fellow? I also noticed that Aramis is set to compete against Olaf Welken. I wonder how that match will fare?"
Know:Nobility 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14 - Any of these names ring a bell?
Victoria continues her pleasant and light banter, but she watches closely to see exactly how this event is kept 'fair' and free from magical (or mundane) interference... not that SHE would have it in mind to just tip the odd part in her favour, but she doesn't trust the others any further than she can spit them.
Kirk steps up to Victoria and says to her in a low voice, "I met somebody last night who can help us wring in our Aramis problem, she'll have more details for us tonight. Her name is Isabel, or the Queen of Hearts, and she seems to be mixed up with the Nightscarves somehow; at least, she has a pair of them serving her as bodyguards at all hours of the night. She agreed to help, in exchange for a future favor I promised her: I thought that a more observant pair of eyes around the city could benefit us a lot while we're here. Might help as an alibi, too, if we need one."
"Well a sense of fair play and honour leads me to simply ensuring that the first events are as on the level as they can be, and that Solaric is simply provided an even chance with no tampering by his adversaries... however I extend no such genteel notions to Aramais, his fate will simply serve as an example to others who would follow in his footsteps"
"I am considering bending the mind of his rude litte follower and confidante, perhaps such a lackey would like to believe that he is the one who should be basking in the fame and adoration, and see his way to a few inopportune turns for Aramais, just a little nudge here and there that guides him to where we want him. Unfortunately for Aramis I highly doubt he'd take well to a reversal of his status and a fall in dignity and instead he would seek to strike back through mean hearted subterfuge and cowardice, so he will need to slip off his mortal coil"
"His continuance in this Land would be as a gangrenous limb, slowly killing and sickening its host - we must steel ourselves to surgically remove it for the greater good"
"Let us see what your fine Queen has to say though"
Wilhelm, the Hammer, Vogt: A long time member and captain of the Karcau city guard. Served as the personal bodyguard of the countess' father and is a hardened veteran of many battles. Ten years ago he would have easily won the tournament, but time has taken its toll. Old wounds plague the man and just last year he has lost his right eye due to a misguided arrow while training recruits of the guard.
A young noble from Carrion Hill who has left the city after the recent happenings to become a member of the clergy of Sarenrae. Not much is known about the young fighter besides his openly displayed worship of the goddess of the sun.
The jousting place is observed by several wizards who use their detect magic powers to ensure that no spell is cast or magic item used.
While Harl helps Solaric to don his armour and ready Dart, a grizzled tall man strides over to them. He is surely beyond 60 years of age, but his shoulders are still very broad and you guess that he could have wrestled oxes in his youth. A black eye-patch covers his right eye and makes him look like a mixture between a pirate and a knight. He has already donned his stained and dented platemail and as he grins you notice several golden teeth.
Greetings, Solaric Zekkaran! I'm Wilhelm Vogt and it is an honour to meet you.
"Greetings, Solaric Zekkaran! I'm Wilhelm Vogt and it is an honour to meet you."
"Well met. Wilhelm Vogt! The honor is mine. I am looking forward to our match with great anticipation. You appear to be a very worthy opponent. It certainly looks like you've done this sort of thing before! So where do you call home, my friend?"
But these days of triumph are long gone and I just pray to Gorum that you won't hit me to hard, okay?
"I certainly do not wish you any harm. To be honest, my friend, I am rather new to this event. I have actually not used a lance all that much. Being guided by the blessed Inheritor, I much prefer the longsword. So, do you have any good advice you can give a young novice?"
Indeed, looks like a fine weapon, but as a knight you will need some training with the lance in the future. Anyway, i won't be much of an opponent for you - you are young and strong and I have already entered the winter of my life.
He nods to the jousting place where the two combattants get ready
I know Piotr, good boy...guess his opponent won't stand much of a chance.
Johenric standing in the back of the group moves forward and harrumphs. After a bow to Wilhelm he starts to talk.
May I introduce you to you Wilhelm. I am Johenric, the Mage of the Karcau's chosen. Although I did arrive a few months ago, I have heard your name. People say your name with respect and talk about your deeds. Currently some riddles referring to the history of the countesses realm have to be solved. Have you ever been at the Kronstein Ridge?
Fearsome spikes adorn the armor of this man, and vicious horns sprout from his helm. A black cape flows behind him as he trots up to the tilt on his horse, which is likewise clad in dangerous-looking armor. His lance and shield have been painted pure black, and he bears no sigils or identification. He wheels his horse about, guiding it with gauntlets that resemble the wicked talons of some fiend. He appears impatient to begin.
"Indeed, looks like a fine weapon, but as a knight you will need some training with the lance in the future. Anyway, i won't be much of an opponent for you - you are young and strong and I have already entered the winter of my life."
"Well, I certainly hope I am as strong and hearty as you when I enter the winter of my life! Whatever the outcome, it is an honor to meet you and compete against you. I wish you all the best, my friend!"
Victoria spends the time wandering the lists and stables, politely enquiring as to who might be competing, and making polite small talk with the squires and exchanging well wishes and kind words with the ‘potential champions’ and ‘brave knights’ that might be competing that day.
Her purpose, in addition to getting to know people and social climbing, is to establish the measure of the competitors and see who might be aligned with Aramais, and who might dislike the man – and who might dislike him enough to be talked into doing something very unsportsmanlike.
She will, of course, include Aramais camp in her wanderings and wish him good fortune – of course her wandering eye is also looking for any gaps or weaknesses she can exploit... taking in the details of his arms and equipment, all the while the cogs in her mind turn to sabotage and treachery.
The jousters will each only perform one attack regardless of their base attack bonus.
A blunted/crowned lance deals non-lethal damage and does not give a -4 penalty to hit.
Use touch Armor Class to determine if an attack roll hits.
"Head" Armor Class is as normal Armor Class + 2.
All Damage dealt is nonlethal damage.
Combat proceeds in the following steps:
Each jouster declares their target: Waist-to-Neck or Head.
Each jouster simultaneously rolls an attack roll.
If the jouster targets the Waist-to-Neck, compare attack rolls to touch Armor Class to determine if the attack hits.
If the jouster targets the Head, compare attack rolls to "head" touch Armor Class to determine if the attack hits. A hit to the head is an automatic critical.
If the attack hits, roll for damage as normal against the lance and the oposing jouster (use the roll for both damage amounts). A blunted/crowned lance is designed to break on impact, and has a hardness of 5 and 5 hit points.
If damaged, the jouster makes a Ride check DC 5 + Damage Dealt.
If the Ride check fails, the jouster is knocked off.
Most of the competitors are in the last stages of their own preparation or watch the match between Piotr and Narumek. Only Aramis is not there, but the behavious of his servants indicates that he is inside his tent, since they rush in and out bringing wine and cold meat.
It's not easy to find someone willing to speak about Aramis when there is a match to watch, but his opponent, Olaf Welken, a man in his lathe thirties tells you
You want to know what I think of de Voisseur? He's an insect that I'm about to crush - tell him that!
The burly man had at least one beer too much and his staggering movements don't let you hope that he is able to realize what he is talking about.
Victoria notes a few practices that bring some warmth to her heart...
... his servants rush in and out bringing wine and cold meat.
"Suppose they don't take much time to check the produce first if they are moving at that speed. Reckon they slap it down and the greedy pigs just snout right in. Must tell Kirk about that." Victoria muses to herself.
At Olafs revelation Victoria looks at the man as though in admiration of his bravery before departing (and committing the mans name to memory.)
Piotr's reaction isn't as good as Narumek's and so he lacks the black knight's momentum as they crash into each other. He aims for the knight's breast hoping to hit rather than win during the first lane
Solaric whistles as the young knight fall to the ground.
"That was a most impressive hit! I'm sure that hurt just a little bit! I notice that the black knight went straight for his opponent's head. Is that a good tactic in jousting? I presume you earn more points for hitting your opponent in the head, and the most points for dismounting him."
"Did you miss anything?!! Did you not realize that we have a tournament going on, and I am about to put myself against a veteran knight who is going to try and dismount me from my horse?! This is a very important day for me and I am heavily relying on you to serve me. You don't look well. Will you be able to perform your duties today? Fortunately, you did not miss much. We watched the first joust where an impressive dark knight sent Piotr Solad flying off of his horse. If I am not prepared, that could be me! Now try your best to keep up the pace. We are not in trouble yet, but we are certainly relying on you! Now help me get armored up!"
Once Solaric is ready, he says a quick prayer to Iomedae, where he casts guidance.
"Blessed Inheritor, guide me this day in all that I think and do. Let my actions and my heart be at one with you."
He then mounts Dart, grasps his lance and rides out to the field. He nods to his opponent respectfully and waits in anticipation. Once the flag falls, he spurs Dart onward and he takes aim for his opponent's head.