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.
Harl can always go Warhammer dwarf and slay him as part of a grudge. But, that would result in Harl also slaying everyine that Aramis knows...nice thing about Warhammer is that there is no pesky alignments getting in the way of honor, lol.
"I'm sure that is true, Vic.", Harl says with a smirk.
Early in the morning, the city is woken up by the industrious preparations on the fields south of Karcau. Since dawn, craftsmen of all trades have worked on a makeshieft castle on a hill. The small construction, made of wood and canvas, now really resembles a small copy of a real castle and the banners of Sinaria fly above its battlements.
Barkers march wander through the streets and announce the next part of the competition
Defend the castle! Come and attend the "defend the castle" competition at 10 AM! Come and see if Sir Zekkaran can maintain his position! Narumek and Aramis only wait for a mistake of the dark elf! Come to the tournament grounds!
Yes, we searched the castle and all valuables are already on the way to Karcau. The strange things? the soldier thinks for a moment mhmm, you better aks the villagers, I only heard rumours. Why don't you go to the tavern and ask the people? An' you like like you could need a drink anyway.
I will follow your advice. Two additional questions: a) Do you know the fastest option back to Karcau? and b) may I ask for your name? I ask, because depending on what I figure out the countess respective myself need a reliable person...
Once the Soldier has answered the questions, Johenric moves to tavern and say:
"My dear judge, can you clarify the rules for this next event. Is my job simply to defend this keep from any and all intruders through the use of sword and courage? Is there anything that I should know that I am currently unaware of?"
"Well met, my dear Victoria. I have been so busy with my competition that I have hardly had a chance to see you in the past few days. How are you doing? I believe Aramis has not cheated as of yet and hence he is losing thus far, but I will remain vigilant as always."
Speak of the devil! Once his name was mentioned suddenly Aramis turns up between the stands and grins broadly. He seems over-selfconfident and walks around like he was already the winner of this competition.
Meanwhile the judge has sorted his notes and regulations for this event and answers
Ah, sir Zekkaran. It's a great honour to meet you. Humbly I will explain to you how this competition works: You will defend the castle behind you with a wooden sword - since we don't want real casualties. Our expert observers of Pettoria guild can easily judge how lethal a blow would have been if the weapon was real and so they will signal us, when one of the attackers or the defender is "dead". You will be attacked by two groups of three men each who have ladders and try to storm your castle.
The guard harrumphes and introduces himself
Gordren's the name, meister wizard. The fastest way back to Karcau is surely the old trade road on horseback.
With this information you leave the castle and move down the hill into the village proper. The streets are muddy and a cold wind blows down from the mountain slopes. The tavern is a sturdy building made of stone and looks quite impressive for the rather shabby village. The name sign has recently been removed and as you look through the open front door you see two red-faced men having an argument in front of the bar.
"Ah, sir Zekkaran. It's a great honour to meet you."
"The honor is all mine. Indeed you have an important job here in this tournament. I will trust to your wise judgement and deep sense of righteousness."
"Humbly I will explain to you how this competition works: You will defend the castle behind you with a wooden sword - since we don't want real casualties. "
"Naturally, we don't want any casualties or even injuries of any sort. Now, tell me, will I be permitted to toss the ladders down off of the walls to prevent the intruders from reaching the keep, or is it expected that I should simply deal with them once they arrive? Also, will I have other defenders assist me in the task, or will I stand as a lone knight defending the castle from the enemy?"
Sir Zekkaran, the more enemies, the greater the personal honour. You will have to defend the castle alone, but you are allowed to toss the ladders down off the wall - some bruises are no problem for the city guard, heh. Do you have any further questions?
The man shrugs, but then your friendly words lighten his mood and he smiles
Don't worry about that. He is my uncle and he wants me and my family to leave for the safety of Karcau. He is sure that no one is safe anymore in Jarovicha with all those monsters roaming through the region. But sorry, looks like I lost my manners: Welcome to the unnamed tavern - you're new here, aren't you?
"Sir Zekkaran, the more enemies, the greater the personal honour. You will have to defend the castle alone, but you are allowed to toss the ladders down off the wall - some bruises are no problem for the city guard, heh. Do you have any further questions?"
"I am nearly set, but I have some remaining questions. How is a winner determined? Do I need to defend a flag or an item, or am I trying to hold off intruders for the longest period of time. How will I know when I have won?"
Thank you for your welcome. Yes I arrived...recently. I am in service of Countess Livgrace and therefore I am interested in the rumors about the strage things going on here in Jarovicha. Do you know anything?
And after a second, he adds.
I assume you are the owner of this tavern? Do have insects or spiders in your cellar?
Once all attackers are "dead" you have won and defended the castle. The attackers win if they are able to tear all banners from the battlements. Any further questions, Sir Zekkaran?
Hmm? Yeah, I'm the owner, or let's say licensee. The tavern belongs to the new lay of Jarovicha, like all other buildings in the village. Strange things going on in Jarovicha? You mean besides the hordes of monsters lurking in the dark, heh? We don't have any other rumours here - oh wait - some villagers claim that there are still undead living in the dungeons below the castle. Undead that were created by Count Jarovich.
Very good! The competition will begin in some minutes - let me take a look at the schedule... the judge opens his leather messenger bag and takes out a ledger Ah yes...you're no. 12 - pretty much the last one in the whole competition. Sir Stephen Livgrace will start, followed by Narumek and then... the judge names the sequence of the whole event and ends with your name. I hope you are well prepared, no one has ever managed to defend the castle by now.
Gordren takes his helmet off and scratches his head
Troops mraching back to Karcau? That's very unlikely, meister wizard. They only send troops here, don't order them back. If you really want to return to Karcau, I fear you have to do it on horseback.
you look around and just as the fanfare horns blazon, signalling the beginning of the competition, the countess appears accompanied by Dumitru and the academy masters. While her relative is already on the battlements trying to defend his castle.
Sasandra spots you amongst the waiting knights and winks at you, while she keeps her air of authority.
Gordren gets the impression that after "horse" has been mentioned, Johenric's brain starts to realize and he becomes somehow a little bit stunned...but obviously a lot of questions start to emerge in his mind...
I understand. Do you explain me in detail the route? Do you have a horse which I can use? Anything I need to consider?....
Johenric thanks the soldier and walks back to the tavern where he takes a room for the night. During the night he tries to identify the next riddle. In the morning he prepares himself (equipment), studies his spells and says goodbye to the Gordren.
At the gate he casts phantom steed and travels back to Karcau...
Leaving his sword on his saddle, Narumek steps forward in his black armor and walks over to the 'castle'. Picking up his wooden sword, he taps it disdainfully on his shield. Let us play with sticks then, I will beat your guard with them...
Turning to Victoria, Solaric comments "Watch this black knight, Narumek. He is good at everything he does. Once this tournament is over, he could become quite an ally to our cause. I'm not sure that I approve of his favorite color, but if he fights for the cause of good, then I certainly cannot complain at his appearance."
Narumek raises his hands and four small orbs of light shoot out towards the guards. Cast dancing lights At his command, each one hovers directly in front of the eyes of one of the four guards, moving with them.
Do they have ladders?
Narumek the Unforgiving draws his wooden sword and points it at the attackers, calling out.
When this stick is broken on your skulls, I will continue with my fists! he says, clenching his wicked spiked gauntlets.
The orbs can't be farther away than ten feet from each other. I guess you take the southern group then?
As the orbs of light begin to dance around the guards, the men are too distracted to put their ladder against the wall. Trying to fight the lights they lose the momentum of their approach. But the other ones manage to place their ladder and begin the advance upwards.
Quickly the men climb out and soon the first attacker is on the battlements. From the southern group one man is able to flee from the dancing lights, he reaches the wall but without the ladder, he won't be able to get up.
The attacker tries to step away, but the rope snakes around his ankle and a moment later he falls from the wall into the courtyard of the castle. He's out for the rest of the competition, but the next one is already on the wall.
After about half a day of riding Johenric spots a strange sight: Next to the road is a walled estate. Behind the large iron gate are some outbuildings but what is most disturbing is that where the main building should have been is just an empty area. Clearly you can see that there must have been a house recently since the ground is devoid of grass and vegetation but there are no other traces of a building - it looks like the house has stood up and flown away...
There are no direct traces of magic, but somehow you feel the echo of a strong source of magic that was here not long ago. As you ponder about the implications of your spell, a young man with a goatee comes out of one of the outbuildings and greets you
Uh yeah - the house vanished! the man syas with his arms extended I worked here for three nice ladies, they told me they would return soon. If you want to stay for the night, you can take the stable...by the way, yer horse looks...umm...like a fine beast.
The man stumbles backwards and nearly falls off the wall. He regains his balance though and attacks