The Misfits Chapter 4 A Finger of Legend


The Misfits Chapter 4

A Finger of Legend

 Jan 1366

Sinclaire and Romeo spend some time practicing with the guards and Sir Denies using practice weapons, others come to watch as they pair off against each other.  Sinclaire, a faster fighter, with a long sword and heater swings at Romeo and hits when Romeo misses his parry with his short sword, and so uses the attack to knock Romeo’s falchion out of his other hand. Romeo thrusts back with his short sword but the blow is parried by Sinclarie’s heater shield. Sinclarie then waits to allow Romeo to pick up his Falchion and ready himself again. In the next exchange Sinclarie decides to wait for Romeo to strike first this time and then parry. Romeo slashes with his Falchion which Sinclarie falls to parry, if they had been using full weapons and power this would have caused  a bleeding arm wound.  Due to his delay Sinclarie and Romeo are now working at the same speed and they both attack at the same time, Sinclarie swings with his long sword but Romeo parries and starts to close the distance of combat as he also swings his Falchion at Sinclarie who blocks the blow with his shield. With the range now short Romeo stabs with his short sword and Sinclarie drops his shield to swing his long sword two handed. This clash of blows leaves Sinclarie weapon less as his sword is knocked out of his had but only after he has struck Romeo in the head which would have rendered him unconscious. A interesting duel between two different styles of  fighting and one they both learnt from.

For the next week or so our four misfits spend time improving there skills, Romeo spending time in his laboratory and discovering how to use his control of the Earth Element to make blades sharper, he thinks this might be useful for him when fighting.  Sinclarie spends time with the other knights and learns how to use a lance instead of his sword with his shield so that he can launch powerful mounted attacks. Peter the Bard works with others to learn how to use a halberd as well as he uses a quarterstaff.

There’s a wedding in the air! A local squire Clement, one of Sir Roberts bailiffs, daughter Isabella [16], has been betrothed to the son, Clement [16], of Sir Francis of a near by manor about a day’s march from St Flour. The wedding, by tradition, takes place in the manor of the bride-to-be, and everybody’s invited.

The misfits and Victoire their friend, like everyone else in Sir Roberts household, will take their finest clothes and travel to the village of Neuveglise, arrive the day before and camp out overnight before the wedding next day. Peter will be supplying some of the entertainment, while Jules and Romeo, as a merchant and scholar, will be part of the organising of all that is needed to take with the party of 30 going while Sinclaire will be part of the Bishops guard as he is coming to marry the couple. The last few weeks have been a time of preparation and organising now all is ready and they will be travelling tomorrow.

The journey through  the snowy landscape is joyful, colourful and festive, all are looking forward to the feast and the joining of the two families and  lands. Peter riding on a cart plays for them as they go along. Once at the village of Neuveglise the locals help set up tents around the fires they have already got burning just outside the manor. All are invited to the manor this evening for the pre marriage do. Sinclaire will be with the bishop and Sir Robert, they are staying at the manor, at the main table while Jules and Romeo will be on one of the lower tables, with other semi important people. The serfs have to just fill in where they can Peter is part of the entertainment so will have to grab food and drink as he can.

The evening is full of food, simple but lots of it, drink and merriment. Peter plays between courses and is joined by other singers, he is by far the best though.  Conversation is free and joyful with the classes mixing together in joy. Eventually Sir Francis says it is time for the jester he has hired, an amassing man who will definably amuse and confuse them.

So the jester swings in from the upper balcony and bounces all over the tables and floor. His acrobatics are impossible to follow they are so fast.  Then he slows down and starts to tell jokes while juggling fire, food, daggers and balls. He pulls coins from behind the ears of various guests and does his best to entertain the people, eventually he grabs a serving girl and as she shrieks he vanishes in a flash of light and a puff of smoke…….

This flash and the smoke blind everyone for a while but once the smoke clears it is clear he is gone. People  look around for the serving girl but she is not there either.

Romeo wonders whither the jester was using some sort of alchemy or sorcery, others talk about the wonder of it all.  A while later after the chat about the jester dies down a little it is discovered that Isabella has gone, too. With shouts of witchcraft sounding out Sir Robert claims the crowd. He says that he will find out who has disrupted this marriage and why. He tasks our heroes with finding the jester and Isabella and bring them both back, her for marriage him for trial.  Peter heads for the jesters sleeping quarters to see what might be there, he asks for directions from a servant. The jester has left nothing important behind just a bed roll and a few odds and sods. Romeo talks to the servants and finds the missing serving girl in the kitchen. She had been told to run and hide when the jester grabbed her. but it was a while before they worried about it.

They also talk to those around Isabella, Sinclaire talks to the groom, Clement, but he had just thought she might have gone to the garderobe. Peter talks to others around including the Ladies in Waiting all they know is that they were watching the jester and then noticed Isabella was gone. No one heard the bride scream and there is no sign of a struggle. There is also no known reason any one would want to disrupt the wedding. Romeo has thoughts about the bishops kidnap and wither the same persons might be involved. Peter goes with Jules to see if they can find any tracks to follow – it is hard to see one set of tracks amongst the horde of  new ones left by all the visitors and they fail to get anywhere in the available light from a lantern. So they all retire for a nights sleep now the party has been ruined, hopefully daylight will bring more illumination to this.

Morning comes bright and cold, Jules goes out to look around and see what tracks he might find while the others and Victorie saddle the horses. Jules finds a set of tracks after an hour, which they follow for another hour before he finds he has got it wrong. They return to the village and he tries again taking more care this time. After two hours of looking around he thinks he has the right tracks, ones going off SW across country. They make sure they have some food and ale and mount and head out to follow the tracks, it is around midmorning. Sinclaire takes his lance with him after all you never know, the others just take what they can carry easily on a horse when they are not good riders. As they ride they talk about the mystery wondering if the jester was a sorcerer or using demon magic, or if he had charmed Isabella with a drug or potion or a charm.

Around mid afternoon they see a village ahead of them, Peter says this is Pierrfort village. A small farming community on the edge of the central massive, it has a pop of around 50. The local Squire Pierre comes out to talk to them as they see others looking out wearily. He asks what can we do for you Sirs and Lady? “we are looking for a man and a young lady who came this way last night”. “O yes” Pierre says, “they arrived last night and left around midday with 8 horseman. They were obviously English due to the large bows they carried.” “Thank you” the misfits say, “they are heading towards Gascony” says Romeo. “We have a chase on our hands now”…..

Why has the bride run off, or was she kidnapped? Who is the jester and what are his powers? Will our heroes catch them and if they do how do they deal with 8 English archers?                  Find out next time

 ——————————————

             Sending two young lads with a message for Sir Robert they start there pursuit, heading SW from Pierrefort they follow the track, which skirts the foot hills of the mountains. The snow is deep but the track is passable even though there is not much traffic at this time of year. The cold wind is biting and chills you to the bone. Jules makes sure he is prepared for the cold chilly wind and snow using his survival skill, learnt from long years of travel. Unfortunately although Jules is good at being prepared he is not a good horseman and they fail to make any good speed to catch up the group a few hours ahead of them. Peter not a strong person ends up suffering from the cold, including getting a chill in his stomach. When night starts to fall they quickly make camp and heat up snow to make a pottage for supper. Romeo sleeps well but the others have there rest disturbed by the howling of wolves and some very strange noises on the wind. Jules recognises the sound of the Old Wolf which they thought they had dealt with before, also the sounds of spirits moving in the night.

With the coming of morning, they have a cold breakfast and move on, the wind is still blowing strongly and throwing snow into there eyes. Again Peter suffers from the cold, suffering fatigue. Romeo asks if Jules could help them combat the cold and he starts to teach them survival, however they still complain allot about the cold, but they can see that it is not such a problem for Jules and hope one day to be able to survive as well as him. Around midday they see a village ahead in the breaking snow flurries, Jules rides up to the village and sees a few workers in the fields and carrying wood. He heads to the church, which is empty and then and priests house, they he is invited in by the priest who says “Odd time to be travelling alone” “some do” Jules replies as he starts to warm himself by the fire in the small room. He finds out that the village is Mur-de-Barrez – a large village with a mainly English Router garrison of 10 archers and 10 Men-At-Arms under Sir James of Bath. he priest says he will take him up to the manor and Sir James and intercede for Jules and his party to stay overnight. Sir James agrees to this at a cost of 12 pence per person and horse, Jules agrees and goes and gets the others. After Peter has rested a little to recover from the journey and they have settled the horses they all met Sir James in the hall when they have supper. Peter a little recovered by now plays for the gathering and they talk about fights, wars etc. During this time they find out that the party who was here last night are on there way to met Sir Giles a Gaston English knight who lives in Lafuilade-en-Vezie 3 days away via Labrousse.

After the meal they head back to the stable for the night, Jules tries to help Peter recover from his stomach upset but fails and Romeo refuses to go after a charlatan, meanwhile Sinclaire heads to the cold church and prays on his knees for Peter there. They are up bright and early grab some breakfast before heading out into the cold again, riding for Labrousse. As they ride they work together to see what they know about Sir Giles, but none of them have heard anything about him before so he must be a minor knight even if he is in English controlled territory. They debate whither they can challenge him to a duel  for Isabella or get her out some way. Jules also carries on his lessons on survival and learning quickly none of them suffer today from the cold elements. Late afternoon they arrive at Labrousse, this time Sinclaire rides up to talk to the priest, realising that he is the knight and linked to the church. Again they can stay overnight this time at only 6 pence a night, Sinclaire is put up for free as Portugal is an ally of the English and he is Portuguese, Peter, playing during supper, ends up getting enough coin in appreciation for his skill to pay for his stay.

In the morning before they set off they buy four days provisions for all five and the horses at a cost of 120 pence. The days ride goes well and they camp out again, when night comes, in the snowy hills. At least the wind has eased a little. They make a fire and post a guard, although only Peter has a good perception particularly at night. Sinclaire takes the first shift after supper of pottage, then Peter takes over once they are all asleep. Romeo will follow him and then Jules and Victorie in the dawn.

Part of the way through his shift Peter bends down over the fire to stoke it up and keep it going and so doesn’t see the dark shapes approaching slowly. The first he knows that they have visitors is when the figures start attacking the group. Peter is attack by two figures barely human covered in black pussy skin and looking quite dead, Zombies he shouts out as he loses an arrow at the first one hitting it in the leg and making it fall down, but still moving. the other one claws at Peter but misses as he dodges out of the way. The rest of the group sleeping quietly are attacked by two each, all are hit but only Sinclaire and Romeo take damage. Lucky they were sleeping in there padding having taken the metal armour off and with thick blankets round them .

With everyone now awake or waking up the fight is on, Sinclaire reacts fasted along with Peter. Sinclaire grabs his shield and then his sword while being attacked, one misses while the other he blocks with his shield breaking the monsters arm and getting to his feet at the same time. Peter Swaps to his quarterstaff while being attack by the one zombie still on its feet, which he evades by some deft foot work He then swings his staff but misses. Romeo meanwhile picks up his falchion and tries to block both attacker but fails being hit in the head for his troubles, blood starts to come from the gash in his head. Jules roles to his Halberd and manages to evade the two attackers while getting to his feet. Victorie meanwhile has drawn her Poniard and is franticly holding her attackers off, she is much better with a crossbow but will not be able to spend the time to span and load it in a fight.

With everyone on there feet now the fight is fairer however Lady Victorie although fast and nimble has little change of keeping them off her for long. For now she continues to fight defensively just blocking incoming attacks and keeping out of range of there claws. Sinclaire decides to wait for the zombies to attack him, for some great tactical reason the others don’t understand. Of the attacks on him one misses the other he blocks with his shield. Peter swings his staff and hits the zombie approaching him in the head but fails to finish it off, but his footwork again causes the monster to miss with its claws. Romeo stands and then swings his Falchion but he loses his footing and steps into the edge of the campfire losing his balance while failing to parry a head hit again. He is now very vulnerable until he can regain his footing. Jules attacks with his mighty halberd but misses as the zombies attack him they both miss and the swinging halberd makes one of them fall. He counters and slices the head from the standing one and then stabs down into the head of the one at his feet. Two down and he is free to see how the others are doing. Sinclaire having waited to see what the zombies were doing now has the time to swing at both of the ones before him and removes both of there heads and then moves to help Lady Victorie smashing the head of one of hers as well.

The fight is all but done, Jules goes to help Romeo finishing off the zombies attacking him while Sinclaire quickly finishes off the other one facing Victorie, while Peter eventually finishes off the ones in front of him. With ten rotting bodies around the camp Jules suggests a burial so they will not rise again. As they deal with the bodies he realises that they are infected with the plague and goes to aid Romeo and Sinclaire who where both hurt by them, even if only slightly. Jules and Romeo both try to use first aid on Romeo but fail to make the wounds better but Peter does restore Sinclair’s head wound.  Jules then treats both Sinclaire and Romeo for infection.

Morning comes to early after a disturbed sleep, they have a quick cold breakfast and mount up to continue there chase. By late afternoon they are in sight of a village Lafuilade-en-Vezie they presume. off to one side they can see a palisaded manor, this is where Sir Giles lives with his troops they suppose. Moving into the village they find the church again and as they do notice that Sinclaire is not looking well, he has black pustules on his neck. He has the death, they all back away from him as he starts to cough up blood. They all go into the church and Jules and peter start to pray, giving there souls to God. [gave up power to create faith] Meanwhile Romeo was quiet sure that there was nothing to be done, this will just run its course and makes sure no one else enters the church.

A miracle, the black marks start to go down and disappear during the night, and by morning Sinclaire looks much better, yes he is not feeling well the pain of the infection and the blood lost to coughing has left him fatigued and worn out, but give him a couple of days and he should be fine again. Sinclaire, Jules and Peter give thanks to God. Then leaving Sinclaire in the church with food and drink Peter and Jules go and join Romeo and wonder what they can do about Sir Giles and Isabella.

Find out next time!

———————————————-

             Morning comes weak and chilly, but the snow has stopped, also although weak Sinclaire is on his feet again. The group go to find the local priest in his near by home. Father Tucker invites them in and offers them breakfast. They chat  and tell him why they are in the village, sent on a mission by the bishop. They also find out that Sir Giles has not arranged a marriage as yet and the Father has no idea if he will. When Tucker asks about there interest they explain about the wedding or non wedding. Father Tucker is neither disinterested or shocked by this just accepting it is how things can be.

Once rested and fed Sinclaire, Romeo and Peter go with Tucker to the manor to see Sir Giles. Jules decides to pick at the local watering hole with the off duty soldiers and see what he can find out that way. Sinclaire and his group are left at the manor gate for 1/2 an hour after asking to see Sir Giles. This is quite rude and obviously a studied insult. Once they are shown in there horses are taken by stable hands while Sinclaire’s retainers are told to leave there weapons. They are then shown into the great hall, at the other end is Sir Giles sat on a big chair on the slightly raised dais. There are some of his retainers also around as well as servants going about there business, tending the fire, cleaning, bringing in food and drink.

Sir Giles asks why they have come here and Sinclaire starts to answer, however he is hesitant, maybe because he is still feeling ill, or because he is unsure how to proceed.  Sir Giles listens and hears Romeo interjecting as well, eventually he responds and wonders why a knight from Portugal, a English ally, is working as a French lackey with a Italian merchant talking over him. Sinclaire is unsure how to respond but after a few more insults throws his glove down, challenging Sir Giles to a duel. Sir Giles accepts but also includes the mouthy Italian. as well, if they both win then they can have the girl and if they lose then they have to give up there equipment as payment. They agree foot combat and it will happen in four days to give time to arrange every thing, during this time they can stay at the manor.

Sinclaire and Romeo use this time to make sure they are ready for the fight while Peter entertains and chats, noticing that Isabella’s face lights up when ever the Jester is in the area. They make the deduction that Sir Giles used the jester to seduce Isabella properly using a love charm or potion to help. They assume that once she is married the jester will be sent away leaving Sir Giles as her husband. Meanwhile Jules sleeping at the church spends the time with the locals and finds out the following. That Sir Giles is quite a sneaky man, him men like him as he pays on time, he stands in good stead with the duke, he raids the border and has one daughter his wife and son dying in childbirth last year.

The combat day arrives, all the locals are here as are notables from nearby, they are arranged around a marked off combat area around 50 by 20 yards with a covered seating area for the gentry. Romeo and one of Sir Giles Men at Arms are first up, they are presented to the crowd and the terms sworn to. After the Man at Arms has knelt and prayed he stands up and at the signal to start, levels his halberd and starts running at Romeo.

Romeo starts to walk towards the charging Man at Arms while murmuring to himself in latin and making strange gestures with his hand, which was holding a small gem his power stone, in the other hand he had his falchion. Romeo looked up and noticed the speed of the approaching halberd which was now around 10yards away, he decided to stop his manipulation of the element of Earth and drew his short sword and awaited the attack. Henry, the Man at Arms, continued to charge at Romeo who failed his parry and took the halberd in his abdomen, it went through his Milanese steel lamellar aketon covered in purple cloth and pearls. and got stuck in him. Romeo swings at Henry but misses with both swings while Henry fails to remove his halberd from his body. Romeo then gets a head to Henry’s head, Henry can not parry due to his halberd being impaled in Romeo, this causes a  bleeding wound. Henry manages to pull his halberd free causing more damage to Romeo’s abdomen as he did so. Romeo attacks again getting another head hit when Henry fails his parry. Henry thrusts with the halberd but Romeo blocks all the thrust with his short sword.  Romeo attacks again hid Henry’s arm and closes the range to short to get within Henry’s parry. Romeo attacks with his Falchion again and the time Henry evades and rolls away getting back up at a longer range where his halberd will be more effective. Romeo now out of attack range tries to close but Henry manages to keep him at range. So Romeo changes tactics and attacks Henry’s halberd directly while parrying any attacks. after two hits on the halberd it snaps in half and Henry gives up as the blood from his head wound is blinding him and he is starting to feel quite weak.

First combat to the heroes, can Sinclaire win his against Sir Giles?

————————————————

             Valets and others rush onto the field and help the combatants back to there tents, Jules applies first aid to Romeo’s wound, but it will take at least 5 days before the wound and bruising heals. As this is going on other Men at Arms give a show of arms handling followed by the archers showing there skill, punching cloth yard arrows through a door. Then after a short break when musicians entertain, the two main combatants enter the arena.  Sir Giles and Sir Sinclaire, they are escorted to different ends of the field and both kneel and pray, Sir Giles also has the priest praying over him. After these preparations are done both knights are introduced to the crowd, they are both using a long sword and a heater shield, Sir Sinclaire wears a long mail shirt with a coif and a breastplate, but no leg armour, Sir Giles is wearing full mail  with plate reinforcement. Romeo and Peter both bet on their friend, Peter also wanders around watching the crown and the fight. While Henry and Romeo sit together watching and drinking.

With our combatants 50 yards apart the challenge starts, Sinclaire starts walking towards Giles while Giles walks a short way and stops. Sir Giles watches and observes Sinclaire and then starts moving again, Sinclaire now starts to move to his right to try to get on Giles left side, Giles turns and counters that move. After about 30 seconds they are now around 9 yards apart facing across the field rather than down it. Sir Giles now stops and waits as Sinclaire slowly moves towards him.

As Sinclaire gets closer Giles suddenly leaps forward  and swings at Sinclaire with his sword, Sinclaire manages to get his shield up to parry and the shock of the impact knocks Giles sword out of his hand. So with a quick advantage Sinclaire strikes back with his finely sword but Giles also manages to parry with his shield. The fight is now joined. Sir Giles moves and picks up his sword and then moves back and attacks Sinclaire again, Sinclaire manages a desperate parry [used a hero point].

Sinclaire again strikes out at Giles who misses his parry and takes a hit in the head, which rings a bit but doesn’t slow him down. He responds with a strike of his own which Sinclaire parries again. Another pair of attacks and parries leaves Giles shield with a chunk chopped out of it but no other effects. No the fight takes on a strange aspect as Sinclaire’s next attack allows Giles to close with him and he gets in shield to shield and starts to try to kick Sinclaire. So for the next 15 seconds Sinclaire is trying to attack with his sword although it is hard to do so with your target touching shield to shield while Giles manages to get the blades on his leg armour to contact Sinclaire’s unprotected legs causing a bleeding wound. Both Sinclaire and Giles are tiring with the pace of this combat, not made easier by trying to parry and attack so close. Giles doesn’t parry accepting any hit will be unlikely to get through his armour with little space to swing, this gives him more and easier attacks with his legs. Eventually after being hit in his right leg twice, Sinclaire manages to disengage and pull out to a better combat range.

Now Sinclaire finds out what this close attack has been about, the blades had poison on them  and the attacks putt poison into Sinclaire’s blood stream.  Lucky for him his body fights off the poison attack as well as the blood loss from the bleeding wounds. However his right leg is close to giving up under him and he needs to finish this fight quickly now he has the space to swing his sword again. Another flurry of attacks leaves Sinclaires shield with a chunk chopped out of it.

After over a minute of hard action the fight comes to an end when Giles loses his sword again and Sinclaire gets a thrust past Giles parry hits him in the head again and knocks him out. Sinclaire is acclaimed the winner and as he is he kneels and prayers over Sir Giles. Sinclaire prays for healing for his enemy and St Benedict hears and starts healing Giles who recovers consciousness and stands. “Sir you are valiant and I salute you, Isabella is yours”.

———————————————

Sir Giles tells them to ‘take her and go, I can not bear to see her now that I have lost her’. Our four heroes and one heroine, mount up and ride for St. Flour 70+ miles and many days away taking Isabella with them. As they go Isabella starts to cry as she is taken from her love, Chester the jester, screaming I want to stay with him he is my love, I do not want to marry Clement, I love Chester. While Jules, Peter and Romeo discus the way to go back, should they avoid English areas and what will they do with no food etc.

As they leave the manor the Local priest runs up to them and says ‘avoid villages until back in French territory as Giles will have them watching out for you he is not a happy man at the loss of his love’.  Isabella’s moaning continues as they travel across the snow covered land, Peter starts to play his harp to calm her. They all keep a look out for possible food and Jules uses his woodcraft to try to cover there tracks in the snow. Sinclaire suffers from the travelling with his fight injuries, whereas Romeo even with the wound he took manages fine at least so far. Having found no food they settle down for the night in a small camp, using the fire to melt snow to drink. They put Victoire on first guard followed by Peter and then Jules, the night is cold but dry and the small fire gives some warmth.

Next morning Jules has some luck and finds some food for them, roots etc but it helps fill there belly. After a quickly packing they mount up and continue there journey, Romeo is sure he can lead them around English controlled villages and into French territory again. Isabella rides beside Peter and complains less as she listens to his stories and music. That night they have some food and Isabella sleeps near to Peter and Sinclaire sleeps on her other side to keep her feeling safe.  Again they have a guard during the night, leaving Sinclaire and Romeo to rest there wounds. Next morning Peter and Sinclaire find a little food to share, Jules gives his share to Sinclaire as he needs it more with his injuries. Again they pack mount and ride slowly to protect the horses who are lacking fodder. as the day drags on they look for a copse of the route they are taking, Jules lays a false trail for any followers. He also looks for food but trips in a barrow and twits his ankle and fails to find any food for the night. So with empty bellies they set a guard this time having Romeo on the last watch with Jules. Around the middle of the night Peter on guard and hears the crunch of feet and the murmur of unnatural voices out in the darkness, he wakes Sinclaire then Jules and Romeo, Sinclaire starts to pull his mail hauberk on while the others get there weapons ready and get up. they hear a whistling sound and unnatural screams and stones start falling around them. Romeo and Jules are both hit but Peter sees them coming from the darkness and dodges out of the way. It seems they are under attack by something in the darkness, something inhuman.

The quick Peter reacts first and losses an arrow at the dark shape he can see in the trees, he hears a scream and assumes his arrow bit home. The demons being quicker than the others unleash another hail of stones, one at Peter who fails to dodge it and takes it in the chest winding him for a while [only defensive for 4CA]. Two at Romeo who takes one hit to his right arm, while Jules takes a hit in his right leg which stuns it leaving it numb and unusable [stunned for 3CA]. Jules falls to the ground and starts crawling to get some cover while Romeo moves to a tree to get cover from it.  Peter staggers to the ground as well dropping his quiver and picking up his quarterstaff. Peter tries to see where the attacks are coming from and try to dodge them while Jules tries to pull his laminar coat on and Romeo moves around the tree to try to see where he needs to hide and then starts to chant and gesture to manipulate the fire elements to create a light this will take him at least 10 seconds. The demons shoot but only hit the ground and Peters quiver. Peter fails to see anything and crawls a few yards away from the camp trying to hide, the demons not being able to see anything even with there great night sight can not see anyone to target so charge with a terrible scream. Jules kneels and sets his halberd to receive the charge once he can see it. Romeo cancels his elemental focusing and draws his second sword so that he has one in each hand.

Peter attempts to jump to his feet and move but fails, Jules and Romeo both manage to spot a demon at around 12 yards.  In the gloom they look like stunted humanoids about 4 tall. Their skin is dark in colour, with long, pointed noses, there mouths are lipless and filled with small, sharp, white teeth. Their arms are disproportionately long compared with their bodies but there legs are short and  bowed as are there backs. Peter stands and they await the attack. The demons move the last yards and swing with there big clubs of bone at the defenders, two attack Romeo and two Jules and Peter, so one each. All there attacks miss but only just and Jules misses with his readied halberd as the demon comes in. Jules strikes and hits the demon in the arm sticking the pointed blade in. Remo goes for a attack which hits and as he tried to trip the demon his falchion takes its head off.

Peter swings his quarterstaff but misses, the three remaining demons attack missing Jules, blocked by a short sword parry by Romeo and hits Peter, who failed to parry in the gloom. in the abdomen. Jules then pulls his halberd back out of the demon ripping its arm off, another one down. Romeo also misses due to the bad light, these demons seem to glide into and out of sight in the gloom. Peter swings again and misses while Romeo slices again and rips through the abdomen of the demon. Peter then manages to finish off the one facing him with a sickening smash to the head which crushes it.

So the other demons attacking Sinclaire and Victoire flee and in total they leave 8 dead behind them one with an arrow in it, they can now be examined up close. They look like Ugly, crabby, stunted humanoids about 4 tall. Their skin is dark green or ochre in colour, with long, pointed noses, pock-marked complexions, deep wrinkles and narrow, silted eyes. There mouths are lipless and filled with small, sharp, white teeth. Their arms are disproportionately long compared with their bodies but there legs are short and  bowed as are there backs. They have a leather sling and some stones and big two handed bone clubs. Sinclaire performs a service and they burn the bodies, just in case. With a evil smelling camp and hungry bellies morning comes and they are glad to leave this place behind them.

After this the journey is quite Isabella has calmed down and starts to take an interest in Peter, she rides beside him and talks all the time, she starts to flirt with him all the time. She will always end up sleeping next to him when you camp. Within the week they arrive at St Flour it is now February and Isabella has fallen for Peter, at least she no longer wants Chester or Clement just Peter. Having reached the town they take Isabella to her father the Squire Clement, one of Sir Roberts bailiffs, he gives them 1Lt each, Lord Robert gives them his thanks, Sir Francis the grooms father also gives then each a sliver tree stump broach, which is his sign, and his thanks they have a friend in him he says. The locals all praise them and there standing in the area improves. They already have a sliver broach from Lord Robert in the shape of a helm with a cross on it, his sign. The wedding is rescheduled for mid Feb a month late.

Other than there normal duties they have time to contemplate there adventure and learn from them. Jules eventually improves his nimbleness and intends to continue to work on it to allow him to react quicker. Romeo learns more about alchemy and works out how to change earth elements to protect him from injury. Peter improves in a few of his skills especially pole arms and survival.

Just before the wedding comes up it is called off, Isabella has not had her time and it is suspected that she is pregnant, either Chester the Jester or Sir Giles must be to blame. Her husband to be, Clement, disowns her and her father throws her out as a slut. Lord Robert takes her in and admonishes his bailiff for his lack of fatherly love.  Peter thinks maybe it is time to take a wife after all he is 20, Jules wonders about Romeo but remembers he is rather flighty when it comes to women.

Victorie also goes off north to talk to Duke John of Valois, Lord Roberts overlord, with the support of Robert and the bishop, to get her husband free, They have both lent her 30Lt and she is hoping that the Duke will help as well, she also hopes the duke can put pressure on the baron who fiddled her.

 Late Feb 1366 the group is asked to go and see Bishop Pierre d’Estaing he bishop is impressed at there dedication and ability to get things done and he wants them to retrieve a holy relic, the index finger of St Goar  as well as re-establishing trade and contact between the city and the outlaying manors/villages in the mountains. The Duchy of Auvergne is held by Duke John of Valois and he wants these remote areas to be brought back into his control, he intends that St. Flour become the base for that control and has given the bishop and the local knights leave to do what needs to be done to bring the wild lands back under his control.

——————————————————-

 Victorie goes off north to talk to Duke John of Valois, Lord Roberts overlord, with the support of Robert and the bishop, to get her husband free, They have both lent her 30Lt and she is hoping that the Duke will help as well, she also hopes the duke can put pressure on the baron who fiddled her. Our misfits are given there stipend for the last three months, after hearth tax, tithe to the church, lodging and food = 240d  [8Lt – 4 food; -11/2 tax and Tithe; 11/2 clothes = 240d]. Not a lot but more than most earn in that time, Sinclaire as a Knight would expect more but due to his order supplying his needs only has a small income.

Peter approaches Lord Robert and says, ‘I am sad about Isabella and the situation she is in, I wonder if you will allow me to press a suite if my circumstances allow?’ Peter then goes to the Abbey to pray about this and gives 30d as penance for his lustful thoughts. After a few days he returns to Lord Robert and they agree on terms to allow Peter to marry, Lord Robert will make sure that they have a house in his main manor under squire Ghislain which will come with enough land for a freeman’s income a year. Peter then goes to see her father  Squire Clement and his charm and wit win him round so he gives her a dowry of  20Lt. Peter says he will take the child as his own and uses the blue cloth he has for a bridal gown. The bishop says they can get married in about a month or so after the Lenten fast and Easter festival. Jules wishing to give them a wedding gift starts to create a parchment with the Lords Prayer using all his skill in writing.

Jules and Peter have only just started work on these things when they are called to go and see the bishop. It is Late Feb 1366  and Bishop Pierre d’Estaing having been impressed at there dedication and ability to get things done has a job for them all, he wants them to retrieve a holy relic, the index finger of St Goar  as well as re-establishing trade and contact between the city and the outlaying manors/villages in the mountains. The Duchy of Auvergne is held by Duke John of Valois and he wants these remote areas to be brought back into his control, he intends that St. Flour become the base for that control and has given the bishop and the local knights leave to do what needs to be done to bring the wild lands back under his control.

St Goar was born in 585 to a noble family in Aquitaine, and was noted for piety even in his youth. When he was finally ordained a priest, he became famous for his forceful preaching. However, Goar wanted to serve God more discreetly, and so travelled abroad to Trier in 618 to become a hermit near the town of Oberwesel. Despite his intention to live in solitude and obscurity, his renown for holiness spread all over the country. Goar was frequently visited by travellers seeking advice. On one occasion, Goar was accused of sorcery by Rusticus [bishop of Trier] himself, cleared by Sigebert [king of Austrasia] in Metz, and then, after Rusticus was deposed for his dishonesty, the saint was offered the see of Trier. There were also other stories but in any case, it is certain that Goar did not want to saddle himself with the responsibilities and pressures of a bishopric, and asked for time to reflect on the decision. Upon returning to Oberwesel, however, he fell ill and died on 6 July 649, having never become bishop.  St Goar – Feast day 6th July –  Attributes Hermit being given milk by three hinds [Red Deer]; holding a pitcher; with the devil on his shoulder or under his feet; holding the church of Saint Goar am Rhein; hanging his hat on a sunbeamPatronage Innkeepers, potters, and vine growers. St Goar was frequently visited by travellers seeking advice, also good at seeing deception due to being falsely accused of sorcery.

This finger was held by the church of the village of St Goar up in the mountains to the West. The last priest was a certain Bergen of Metz.  The bishop believes that due to the plague it is now deserted and abandoned, this is not the way to venerate a holy relic and he wants to move it to the abbey church of St Flour where it can be displayed properly. He would also ask that they bring any church furniture still there back as well. All other stuff they redeem will be spilt 1/4 to the church 1/2  to Sir Robert, Sir Francis & Sir John and the last 1/4 for the group. Sir Robert and Sir John of Flour both support the bishop in this endeavour and sir Robert has agreed to give his retainers, the misfits, leave to do this. They and the bishop are supplying 40Lt of services and 10Lt in cash to allow the group to hire help [this help will be from there retainers] and buy equipment for the mission as well as there normal stipend and cost of their horses.  Bishop Pierre suggests that two grooms [1Lt month each], two page’s [1/2Lt month each], a couple of crossbow or spearmen [2Lt month each] as well as mounts [hobbies 2Lt] [ cost of support Hobby 1Lt month; warhorse 30d a day, 4Lt month others 2Lt month – average people 2Lt month (NPC’s hire cost includes food etc)]  would be a good idea, after all they need to look official. He gives them a velum document with his seal. This document says, “To Whom It May Concern, the bearer of this document [Sir Sinclaire] is working for the church, he is within his legal rights to do anything he needs to, to secure the item known as the index finger of St Goar. Any one who try’s to stop him will earn my displeasure. “ Signed Pierre d’Estaing Bishop of St Flour by God’s grace.

On top of the mission to retrieve the finger the town council wants Romeo to negotiate trade and support deals with local villages and manors. While Jules catalogues the area to give the council a better idea of what is left after years of war and pestilence. Peter meanwhile is tasked with setting up a spy network to report to the council on any threats to the area. As they leave the council chamber Sir Denies comes up to them.

Sir Denies, the city guard commander, has an offer for them he says he can offer a squire and 3 of his guard to them, this will give his men experience and give the group the support they need at a discount, as the men can also act as grooms or pages as needed. They give there thanks and say they will think upon it releasing that this is his way of making some money and they will get a kickback. Peter and Stephen go to check the word on the street on Sir Denies and see if they can find someone who knows the way to the village of St Goar. They find Stephan the Sheppard who is happy to take them there and back for 50d plus food etc its a dangerous journey as its in bandit and monster country in the hills. They also find out about Sir Denies, he is 46 a tall handsome cautious militant knight who is also violent and cruel, related to the bishop and supports him and expects his support.  He wants to replace Sir John as council member, he thinks of the city as his, he is in charge of the guard and has been training them and the guild crossbow.  His wife Sophie [25] is related to the Bishop on his mothers side.  They have 2 married daughters [28 & 26] and 3 married sons [23, 21 & 20] from his first marriage, and a 8 year old daughter from his current wife. Two of his sons, Denies [23] a quite introvert in awe of his father & Didier [20] a prankster and lazy man, run the guard with him and they live in a 3 story building.

With this information Sinclaire and Jules decide to talk with him about his offer while Romeo works on the supplies they need for the journey using his contacts with the guilds. Sir Denies has 20 spear armed guards who can also use a crossbow and tend to horses, and his 2 sons as squires and they will come fully equipped he will also supply the mounts for them, two months use will cost 14Lt but you have to supply food and fodder at 8Lt month so a total of 30Lt for two months. The squire Denies will be in charge of them as he needs to learn leadership, but under Sinclaire who has Romeo as his second in command. The guards are equipped as follows. Cuir-boilli body and limb armour, Lt Crossbow & 20 bolts or Spear & 3 Javelin [from city stores],  Short Sword, and shield. Jules and Sinclire inspect them, all are fairly non descript, typical solders, dirty, proud and surly. The best turned out are Bruno, Arnaud, Martin, Leon; the roughest looking Pascal, Thomas, Giles, Gaston. They decide to go ask Squire Denies his view and he agrees with them that the roughest ones are best so take Pascal, Giles and Gaston. The squire has his own warhorse and the three guards will be on hobby horses the food for this group will take another 7Lt of there budget so that’s 21 gone. They also hire a good groom to look after the 3 mules Romeo gets for free and a tracker hunter. The cost of these and the supplies needed for themselves comes to 8Lt plus another 6Lt for Sinclires and Romeo’s horses for a month. Total cost of services 35Lt with the discounts and help from the guilds, this will cover the support they need from the locals as they go, leaving 5Lt of the services to divide between themselves and Sir Denies so 2 1/2Lt each.

Romeo decides that they all should have a common thing to identify the group and so gets his blue cloth turned into blue hoods for the group by the clothiers guild, with Sinclire and Squire Denies also wearing their own colours. They also make sure that they have some dry tinder etc for making fires on the mules along with shelter, food and drink for when they can not get any locally. They also make sure that the guards come with spear, sword, shield as well as a crossbow with bolts. While that is being organised Jules decides to go looking for herbs to restock his medical kit and make some Healing infusion which improves the drinkers natural healing rate. He manages to find enough to restock his chest and make some infusions, but only one comes out right. He also finds a white truffle which he sells for 10Lt giving half to the church and half to their group funds. Now they are ready to go expecting trouble and hoping that they can manage it.

Stephen the Sheppard tells them that the village of St Goar, is in the mountains west of St Flour and around some four plus days away in good weather. The massif is a country without good roads, where every discovery must be conquered at the price of danger and fatigue a area cut up with deep ravines, crossed in every way by lofty walls of lava and furrowed by numerous torrents, covered by thick forests and sliced by numerous rivers and lakes, these volcanic uplands called puys are very rugged and difficult to travel which is why most travellers go around them. The inhabitants of this area are said to be reserved, serious and close to their money. Lots of jokes are made about there legendary tightfistedness, not unlike the Scots’ reputation for being cautious with their money.

As they journey they have Peter with Stephen on foot as scouts with Sinclaire and Sq Denies riding away behind, followed by Romeo on his horse. Then the three guards with their horses, the groom and mules making up the middle, the guards have there crossbows with them while travelling. The rear is brought up by Jules walking behind. Most of them are on foot as it is better for Peter and Stephen to scout that way and neither of them are much good on a horse and Jules although he can ride again isn’t that good and fighting with a halberd prefers to be afoot.

For the first two days of travel they move from local village to village, in the main valley around St Flour, they  stay at the manor overnight, paying there way with there resources given to them as needed. Peter checks for any new news as they pass through the villages, but there is nothing much to report at this time of year. These first two days allow the group to get to know each other and sort out the best way to deal with each other. Peter entertains at night and they make sure that the guards are treated well.

Once they leave the area around the town and move into the hills the villages thin out and those they see are few and far between, the land is rough, shear, forested and snow covered at this time. The villages they see are small & partially abandoned; also the Sheppard huts are also falling into disrepair.  No one has looked after this land for a while now. They pass through a small village each day and stay overnight at another.  These have no lord and are under rouiter control, though none are based here.  Romeo talks to the villagers about trade with St Flour but without protection from attack he doubts anything will come of it. Peter talks to who ever is looking after the church in each place and arranges for them to send news to the next village and so pass it on to the city. As they rest in these uncontrolled villages they discuss together how they might be brought into the fold again, there seems to be different views. Relocate them to somewhere safer, punish them if they give succour to the bandits or defeat the routier’s themselves. They decide to wait and see what they can do until the journey back.

After two days in the wild as they come out of the trees, early in the afternoon, Peter sees a village ahead. It is about 200 yards ahead and he can see a group of solders ahead roughing up the locals they are on foot. Peter halts the rest of the group and after telling them what’s ahead they decide to move forward quietly with the nobles in reserve and the foot forward. Romeo with the three crossbow and Peter up front move until they are in Peters bow range about 80 yards. Jules behind them gives them each a target and after aiming they all loose together. Four bandits are hit by the four missiles,  three in a leg and the fourth in a arm although this bolt did not get through the arm armour. With the first missiles away the group all reload and start to aim again but only Peter with his quick shooting bow gets another shoot off, this arrow hits another bandit in the chest. With the guards still aiming Peter quickly readies another arrow and all four loose together again, however they all miss this time although Peter’s arrow hits a peasant in the chest. While this is going on Romeo starts to chant and wave his hands around, he has decided to try to reform the earth elements in his armour to make them stronger.

After these salvos the bandits now respond they see their attackers and turn and run, the mounted man at arms further into the village scatters the peasants around him and spurs his horse away. With the Routier fleeing Sinclaire and Denies give chase and ride down four of the footmen, while Peter always quick on his feet runs down another stopping him with an arrow and bring him back for interrogation, while Romeo stops his chanting and he and Jules go to tend to the injured villager.

The villagers of Puysfell are not happy, they are upset at the actions of the group as they will now face retaliation from the routier. The local Priest ‘Jules’ and the village bailiff ‘Nicolas’ explain to Sinclaire and Romeo that they want you to leave quickly before more bandits come. Jules takes notes on the interrogation of  Simon, the captured wounded bandit, and then an audit of the village. Romeo removes the arrow from Simon, but only after they have used it as a point of terror to encourage him to talk. From Simon and  the villagers they find out that these routier are under a certain Landry who has settled into the castle and village of Allanche a few days to the west at a crossroads of five paths. He collects food etc from the area to support his men. He has a couple of other knights four squires who each control 10 men, these are a mix of nationalities two of the groups are armed with spear or crossbow; another is of all glaive armed men and the last of English bowmen and halberds. Having removed the arrow from Simon they send him off making sure he is to tell Landry that the villagers had nothing to do with the deaths. Before they leave Jules thinks about looting the bodies and collecting any discarded equipment, but other than Simons the villagers have already stripped the dead bare. SO Jules takes to 10d from Simon and gives half to Pascal and half for himself.

After a few hours they leave Puysfell and head west along the snowy track, with the steep ridges of the mountains on all sides. As the afternoon draws on they realise that they will have to camp in the wilds tonight, so Jules tries to find them a good spot near water and with cover. He only manages to find a small stream in the woods away from the track and they make camp there. Realising that this could be dangerous they arrange a guard rota roughly on three hour shifts. Sinclaire and Stephen the Sheppard take the first watch and Stephen points out the different critters which are making a noise. Next is Romeo and Sir Denies, who both are spooked a few times at the sounds around them, Sir Denies hits his dog when it barks to much. Then its Peter and Pascal one of the guards turn, they have a quite shift and are followed by Jules and Giles another of the guards leaving Gaston to wake up and do the cooking. Gaston is no cook and breakfast is not that wonderful, there are comments that they should have brought someone to do the cooking, but hopefully they will be in another village soon. The intention is to rotate Pascal, Giles and Gaston between guard and cook.

After breaking there fast and warming themselves as best they can they move off still heading west, this is now the fifth day of travel. The trail is covered in light snow which is more mud than white in colour, as they travel Stephen the Sheppard  points out that there is only one more village ahead before they need to head south and cross the ridges to reach St Goar which will take a few more days. Coming upon said village they send Peter and Stephen ahead to check it out, aware that there might be routier or worse there. It turns out that the village is clear but that 6 routier passed through this morning, assumedly the ones who fled from them.  Having found the tithe barn and told the villagers that is were they are going to settle for the night, Peter, Jules and Romeo do there usual job of collecting information on the village and working out some sort of information forwarding system. Having done that they head back to the barn for the evening meal supplied and cooked by the villagers, where they find that Sir Denies and his men are the worst for drink having found Mary the ale wife and spent the last few hours drinking, for the small cost of 1d. Jules is not amused and takes  Giles outside to talk to him about getting drunk while on duty. Giles sees no problem as they are Sir Denies men and that is what they normally do. Jules goes to head but the arguementive  soldier, who fails to avoid the blw due to being drunk and misses with his counter punch, the fight ends quickly when Jules floors him, He then talks to the other two as well and tells them that there will be no getting drunk anymore. Knowing he can not talk to Sir Denies, Jules gets Sinclaire to talk to him, he manages to convince him of the duty of a leader is to keep his men in check and that sobriety is the best policy. Sir Denies listens and counters but eventually agrees to do things differently than in the past, he has agreed to change his ways.

The night is quite, broken only by the snoring of drunks, and the morning comes with breakfast cooked by the widow Mary, much better than the previous days they all agree.  With a warm meal inside them and a good warm nights sleep they set off again, knowing  that soon they will be climbing over the steep snow covered slopes instead of following a track. They head out going west again and then turn south and start to climb upwards through ever deeper snow which leaves very distinct tracks. Jules and Peter did try to cover the early tracks of where they left the main path, but no one is sure it will do much good with the path the ten man and nine mounts are making in the snow. Jules makes sure everyone is roped securely to another person and or a mount so any falls will be eased, they then follow in the tracks of there scouts Peter and Stephen. Due to there lack of training Sir Denies and the guards suffer from the cold and damp. By the time late afternoon comes around the whole group is tired and happy to stop on the mountain side, they make camp using the dry wood they brought with themselves in amongst the trees, they set up there shelters  around the fire and hobble and tie the horses to the trees.

To keep warm Jules tells them all to double up but Sir Denies will only do that with his hound, the others make sure that they are as warm as can be and head to bed after there meal. Guard rota is as before and the guards stay near to the fire for warmth. Sinclaire and Stephen the Sheppard take the first watch again and are kept on the alert by the many growls and howls going from the darkness. Next up is Romeo and Sir Denies, the sounds continue and then Romeo hears the sound of something moving just as a terrible howl lets rip. What ever is out there it is attacking the horses as they start to scream and kick, as Sir Denies and Romeo shout for the others to wake up while both grabbing a brand from the fire.

Sir Denies moves to the horses and tries to see in the darkness, seeing a shape he swings but misses it. Romeo decides they need more light and so starts to summon his elemental light, this will take 5 seconds so he thinks he might have time. Peter, Sinclaire, Jules and the guards all wake and grab for weapons. Meanwhile the wolves  continue to harry the horses with Sinclaire’s war horse fighting  them. Two of the wolves attack Sir Denies he swats one aside with his sword and the other one misses its leap at him. He manages to hit one of them but only causes a scratch. In response the wolves manage to knock down Sir Denies.

Peter having now strung and loaded his bow manages to see that Denies is in trouble and losses his arrow at the wolves attacking him. Unfortunately he misses but also misses Sir Denies as well. Sinclaire see’s the wolves round the horses and moves to protect them. Romeo’s light effect comes in to play illuminating a 10 yard area around himself. This allows them all to see the wolves but it also scares them and the guards who all run, the wolves following a mighty howl from a wolf near by but not attacking.

Romeo, Jules and the guards patch up the frightened and injured horses, helping all but Sinclaires horse, which Jules gives his healing infusion to to help its natural recovery. Romeo persuades Sir Denies and the guards that he is not a demon but using science, even if it looks like magic. They accept what he says but doubt it in truth, and talk amongst themselves about it later.

In the aftermath of the attack the group talk about better night security, werewolves and demons and decide they need more fires at night with a few unlit ones ready to be lit by kicking an existing fire  onto it. They decide that although traps would be a good idea it will take up to much time each day to do but that quick response is important. The rest of the night goes by with the guards being quite jumpy, till the weak winter sun starts to break the darkness, after a poor breakfast they set off over the mountain ridges again. They lead the injured horses rather than risk them and looking out for new tinder head on up the ridge. They find that most of them have to reduce the armour they are wearing as its weight and clumsiness means they can’t make any headway up the difficult steep snow covered slopes.  The guards and Sinclaire cop well but nearly all the others end up quite tired by days end, the effort for those not quite so fit in climbing up and down through the snow takes it out of the town dwellers.

As the seventh night comes towards them, they set up camp in a valley with two big camp fires plus some smaller piles of wood ready near by to light if needed. They change the guard rota round to help those who are most tired, Sinclaire and Stephen take the first one, then Romeo and Sir Denies, followed by Peter and a guard and then Jules and a guard. Stephen the Sheppard smiles to himself as Sinclaire spends the watch looking after his horse and the fire, thinks nobles what are they like? Romeo and Sir Denies talk to each other and start to get on while being very careful, but although there are noises around nothing attacks.

The nights rest allows them all to recover somewhat having keep close to the big fires to keep warm and making sure they had something comfortable to sleep on. Jules is still tired but even so after breakfast they move on, up and down the ridges they go again. By days end even Peter is finding it hard going and is quite tired whereas Jules is near to dropping. They camp and set up fires again and re-do the guards again this time giving Jules the night off, so its Peter and a guard first, followed by Romeo and Sie Denies again, then Stephen and Sinclaire followed by the last two guards.  Once Peter has finished his early shift he goes to get some rest as he is quite tired after the hard day.

Sinclaire again is busy polishing his shield rather than looking around leaving Stephen doing that, he does not notice Stephen calling to him until something swings past his left arm.  In response Sinclaire starts shouting the alarm and looking around looks into the fire causing his eyes to see spots and little else. The guards used to quick response wake quickly and stand and draw there short swords, while Jules also wakes stands and starts shouting, which also wakes Sir Denies and also peter and Romeo. So within 5 seconds most are awake and responding although no one knows what the problem is as yet.

Ordered chaos rules as they start to look around to find out what the alarm is about while readying weapons and calling to each other. Again Sinclaire is attacked and his left arm is missed, although he can not see what it is but swings his shield anyway. Jules and the guards all manage to see people moving around, people wearing dirty rags with bits of flesh hanging off  them. Plaque victims Jules shouts  giving directions to Sir Denies who runs forward and impales one on his long sword. Peter heads to an unlit fire while Sinclaire strikes out with his long-sword and impales something nearby.

Peter lights the fire by the horses, while Romeo starts swinging his swords hitting nothing. The guards move on to Sir Denies in response to his call ignoring Jules calling, Sinclaire hits out with his shield at whatever is on his sword as he can still not see clearly, his shield pushes the person off his blade. Jules thrusts with his halberd at the creature heading towards him and impales it on the spike. Romeo parries the creature which attacks him. Sinclaire with his sword clear tries to look around and in his spotty blurred vision sees a thing attacking Romeo, moves to him and attacks. Romeo seeing Sinclaire’s sword heading towards him throw up his short sword to block it and is staggered back a few yards by the force of the blow.  Meanwhile Peter having got the fire going looks for the holy water and luckily finds it quickly and removes the stopper.

The three guards and Sir Denies now together, with Romeo moving to join them and Peter running towards them attack and take down three of the dead.  Jules frees his halberd second time of trying Sinclaire clears his vision at last.  Two dead attack the guards but Sinclaire and Sir Denies parry them Sir Denies taking off the monsters arm in the process.

The fight is over, eight decaying bodies lie around but non of our heroes have been hurt this time, they collect the bodies carefully and burry them with Sinclaire praying over them, then its back to sleep, wondering what will disturb them next. Morning comes to quickly and they do not all feel that refreshed even after a quick meal. Then its up over the crest and down the other side again.   Ahead in the valley you can see smoke and Stephen says that should be St Goar village.

Midday The area around as you approach the village from the forest is one of devastation, buildings falling down and fields left untended and overgrown however as you get closer to the village you see smoke from the manor and some movement as well as crops in the land nearest the palisade manor which has been cleared of snow. Peter and Stephen are sent to check it out and after reporting that there appears to be people in the manor area behind the palisade they go to check out the church. The rest mount up and Sir Denies says lets ride up. As they approach they are challenged by a massive man, over six foot tall and massively built, he calls on them to halt and say what they want.

After some minutes of conversation he accepts that they are not routier, not that he could stop such a large group if they were, and names himself Orrie [the Bear]. They are happy to tell them anything about the finger until they have cleared out the dead for them which come around at night. Sinclaire agrees and talks to Peter who has come back from the church. There are ten bodies lying in the church which is in disrepair with no roof. They decide that the whole area needs consecrating so that any dead will stay in the ground.

Sinclaire says he will pray to the Spirit for a miracle but will need help, so they get the villagers and the group together to pray. Romeo, Jules, and Peter each give up something [a hero point it takes two of Sinclaire’s as well] and Jules, and Peter also use there faith to call for help. After an hour of prayer and service, a light rain falls which causes the ground in and around the church to glow briefly. This covers an area of 200 yards diameter.  They get the villagers to burry the ten bodies with Peter supplying music and Sinclaire prayers.

With night drawing in fast they return to the palisaded manor for a poor meal followed by sleep, warm and secure for a change. During the meal Orie tells them that the finger went with the priest Bergen when he left with the bandits years ago, back in 61 when they took most things of value.  The local bandit leader is called Landry; his band  of men, has a base not far from here, further in to the mountains. It controls one of the passes through the area. They have to pay tax to him even though he does not protect them. His base is at Allanche, castle and village, is 2-4 days NW of St Goar in the mountains where 5 roads converge, he collects tithes from us and others.

How many more walking dead are they out there to deal with?

—————————————————–

 Day eight breaks dry but with the likelihood of snow later, at least they had a dry warm nights sleep in cover. With a warm meal in there tum’s they start a long discussion of how to deal with the walking dead plague infected. They talk over an idea of getting them onto the consecrated land around the church, by filtering them by obstacles and fires into an area where divine power will out them back into the ground.  After a while of this Sir Denies says we should just mount up and charge into them, peasants will not be able to deal with that. Sinclaire and Jules try to explain that although they are peasants, they are dead and will not run like normal ones also at night they can see better than he or they can. As the discussion goes on eventually Sir Denies goes bored and wanders off to see to his horse and weapons. The rest continue to work on a plan and after a long time come up with defending the gate, giving up the idea of using the consecrated ground. They decide to have Sir Sinclaire, Sir Denies and Romeo hold the gate with Jules behind to support with his halberd, while Peter and the three guards stand on a cart to shoot over the palisade. to help with vision they have faggots near by for the locals to pitch over the palisade and set alight. Orie does point out that missiles have a limited effect upon the dead but they think that there heaver missiles from the crossbows will be better than the stones from there locals slings. Also the missile support will act as a reserve with there spears if needed, if they decide to advance.  Orie is not mad on this idea if it fails the monsters will be inside the defences rather than outside unable to get in.

After lunch they start looking at the more practical things and wonder about where they will have a moon to help them see, they think it is time for a full moon and so that will help if the clouds are helpful, Sinclaire goes off to pray about that and the engagement in general, looking for Gods blessing on there endeavours. Orie organises the locals to prepare faggots etc and the rest of the group go to sleep telling him to wake them before sunset with a meal. After the meal they see that the locals have prepared everything as needed, a pile of faggots with buckets of water near by on the left of the gate and a cart near the right side of the gate. Now they have to wait till the dead walk.

Peter and Stephen the Sheppard take on look out duty to warn of the approach of the dead, while Sinclaire prayers, all are in armour and armed in readiness. A couple of hours later the first walker comes into sight and over the next minute more turn up at different parts of the stockade.  As they do the missile group start to shoot while Romeo uses his alchemy to strengthen his armour by  using the Protect against blows effect, this adds to his armours usefulness. [add 3 points of armour for five minutes]

While Romeo is preparing, the others open the gate and await the dead who start to walk around towards it.  Peter allocates targets to his group and after aiming they loose during the upcoming fight they manage to take down four of the monsters. The battle in the gateway lasts about 30 seconds and in total 30 dead are killed again, the only disaster is when in the first moments of the fight Sir Denies is hit by one of the creatures while parrying another, this blow rips past his left leg armour rendering it useless. He falls to the ground and is eventually pulled back by Peter after Jules has stepped over him to protect him from direct attack with Sinclaire moving forward level to him.

Jules and Sinclaire both take down creature after creature while blocking attacks, mainly with head removal. Romeo finds that his attacking strokes fail but that his defensive ones are effective.  With the fight over the dead again dead are carried to the graveyard and buried while Romeo and Jules tend to Sir Denies, they restore function to his leg and start to treat him for plague infection. Over the next day Sir Denies shows all the indications of infection, black boils and fever.  Then he starts to cough up blood and moan in pain, Jules and Romeo continue to use there different healing skills upon him and by next day he is looking better and the boils have gone. Another miracle of healing, what with the injury to his leg from the claw and now to his chest from the blood loss Jules reckons it will take nearly three weeks for Sir Denies to fully recover, so he sets about making another healing infusion to speed up his recovery.  Once done this helps Sir Denies to recover in just over a week and a half.

During this time our party have time to think about there experiences and learn from them, rest up and prepare for the next part of the journey. Orie and one or two villagers give them a good description of the priest Bergen for when they get to Allanche and Landry.

————————————–

Day 19, mid March  1366, Sir Denies is ready to move on again and so the group is also ready to move on. A few more dead have appeared, and been dealt with, but none for the last week so that must be the end of their threat to the village. The talk between the villagers and the guards, who have enjoyed the rest and a couple of village girls, is of the amassing recovery of Sir Denies and the blessing of God through Sir Sinclaire on them. The villagers hold Sir Sinclaire in particular as a holy man who has Gods blessing as his arrival has brought there terror of the dead to an end and will allow them to restart there village again. Now all they want is to be left alone by Landry and the bandits. Sir Denies is very touched by there attention to his care and says he is in there debt. They have also got to know the villager and have shared there meagre food during this time. Also Sinclaire has taken Simon under his wing to teach him the basics of looking after a holy church and running basic services as a Verger. Jules wonders if they can improve the manors defences but dos not have any bright ideas, while peter helps the rations by hunting when he can.

During the last few days as they prepared to leave they asked about the manor at Allanche and where told what the locals knew. The Castle Manor Allanche is a fortified manor keep 3 stories high. It is surrounded by the normal outbuildings of a manor surrounded by a wall and ditch, the wall is 10′ high and 3′ thick at the top with crenulations. The ground floor of the keep is used to keep horses and other livestock it is entered by a recessed double door covered by a outcrop of the walls each side and a overhang above. The first floor is reached by a stairway from the outcrop curving round the keep to a platform and door, again covered by an outcrop on its outside and a overhang, this floor is the main hall.  They talk together about what to do now, attack some of Landry’s patrols, try to sneak in, attack the manor. Can Jules and Romeo make some black powder, but they remember they do not have any equipment with them so it will not be easy. All of these have some merit but are risky so they decide that maybe they could negotiate with him, after all he was prepared to make a deal last time they met. They decide that with the authority they have from the bishop that they could give Landry a legitimate control of this area under the bishop, which would improve trade and help in security. This seems to be within the remit of there mission and they are sure that the bishop will be happy if he gets the finger back.

Our heroes decide that they need a nice safe cave within a day of Landry’s manor where they can arrange to met  him and discuss the situation. The locals say that there are lots of caves in this area, some very deep. They also decide to follow the track around to the manor rather than struggle over the ridges again. The locals say that it should take about 5 days and that there should be a couple of villages on the way. Needing supplies for this journey or at least the first three days the group decide that they will have to just forcibly take it even if they are going to leave a chit in payment for it. The villagers do not have much left after a long winter and are not happy as Sir Denies and his men under the watchful eye of Sir Sinclaire take the food, drink and fodder they need. Yes the chit is a generous payment but these people and there children will suffer now from lack of food till the harvest which is months away. There is a lot of crying and wailing but nothing shakes Sir Sinclaire, as he knows that without these rations he will not be able to finish his mission. Romeo says they should also make this there church tithe paid as well. This does nothing to make the locals happy again even with Peter playing to soothe them.

So after having taken enough food etc for the nine men and horses for 3 days over 27 man days of food, they ride off to the cries of the peasants. They might have helped these people but now they have left them with the risk of starvation. As they ride they head into sleet which is falling  from a dark sky, it is cold and wet.  by the time they stop to camp that evening Sir Sinclaire and Sir Denies have both suffered from the cold having got wet through their armour. With a camp made off the track and a good fire they set the guards and after supper wrap up in there shelters. The night is undisturbed with just the sounds of the night to spook the ones on guard. With the coming of dawn they wake to more weak pottage and feed the poor fodder to the horses, they will not stay in good shape for long on this poor quality stuff.

This day is sunny but cold, Peter thanks God for that, again the going is not easy but is much more easy than going over the ridges. The track has snow on it but not as deep as off the trail. As well as being a lot flatter as it follows the river lines, yes it twists and turns but it is relatively good going. With the coming of darkness they again find  somewhere of trail to camp, have supper, more pottage and with guards out head to bed again. This night the guards are disturbed by the howl of wolves, which worries Romeo.

With the coming of another day the last for which they have any rations, they head off again, it is a overcast but dry with light winds and Romeo says tomorrow will be showery. around midmorning they see a village ahead. Peter is send ahead to scout it out, there is no smoke and no movement visible, but just in case its an ambush he checks round the other side as well, but the village appears to be empty. The group breaks into three with the two knights staying ahorse as cover, with the guards and Romeo, Jules and Peter forming the other two. These two groups search the peasant hovels for any food. After a couple of hours there are done they have managed to find enough various things to give them some poor rations for two days. Peter notices that the Guards are looking shifty and talking together, so he talks to them and finds out that they have also found some trinkets as well as most of the food, they have obviously done this type of scavenging before.

They now head to the church building to check for bodies just in case as they found none in the buildings, they find none and  Sinclaire talks with God to see if it is still consecrated, he is sure it is, there are a few newish graves in the yard but no way of telling how long there have been there or when the locals left. With the church as the biggest and most secure building they decide to camp there and set a fire in its middle. They prepare there meal and set the guards outside and then turn in for the night, Sinclaire and Sir Denies knowing that this will help them recover from the effects of the cold.

Poor Sir Denies is n the second guard duty with Romeo, so doesn’t get as much rest as he had hoped for. While the two of them chat and walk around the by the church door, with Sir Denies dog who is a bit the worse for having been given some ale to drink they are attacked.

Romeo and Denies go down under a wolf which has pined them to the ground. Although surprised Romeo fights back using his short sword to stick at one of the two wolves attacking him. The wolf quickly moves aside causing Romeo to miss. Over the next few seconds manages to get back to his feet and stay there although he had fallen again and taking bits to his arm and leg. Sir Denies is rolling around on the floor hoping his armour will protect him from to much harm. [Romeo used Combat manoeuvres to regain his footing both times]

As Peter and Sinclaire respond to the cries for help and the howling of the wolves the wolves attack Romeo again he manages to parry one with his short sword but as they are to close he can’t use his falchion to block the other wolf. This one rips at his chest cutting an artery causing a bleeding wound. [the wolves are using bleed and trip as combat manoeuvres]  Romeo thrusts back with his sword and hits the wolf and falls back into the church doorway. The wolf closes up on Romeo again but he strikes out as it approaches hitting it in the forward left leg rendering useless.  With Peter on his feet and armed and Sinclaire also armed, Romeo strikes out again and as he hits the wolf falls back towards them.

Peter moves up and strikes with his quarterstaff at the wolf but misses, at this the wolves all flee, the injured one hobbling along on three legs. Sinclaire tries to jump up and run to attack, but gets his feet tangled and hits Jules with his waving sword. Peter gives chase to the limping wolf but it disappears into the night, realising he is alone and in a the darkness he returns to the church. Sir Denies like Romeo is hurt but at least he is not bleeding. Romeo tries to use his control over alchemy to stop his bleeding but fails, Peter instead uses first aid to stop the flow of blood in Romeo’s chest. Romeo then uses his first aid to help Jules and they all work on Sir Denies again. With all this done those not on guard head back to sleep until morning. This nights rest allows Romeo to recover from the fatigue his blood loss caused.

—————————————-

Next morning we have a sore Romeo and Sir Denies, both bruised and cut from the attack, Jules gives Romeo the last two of his Healing infusions which he had made to help Sir Denies recovery, now he will have to find time to make some more at some point. The group, well Sir Sinclaire puts Jules in charge of rations as he is used to survival.  After breaking there fast they head out of the abandoned village with the rations they managed to find there and head along the track towards the next village and Allanche. The day is showery put not so chillingly cold and the day is eventfulness. Again they camp off the track in the trees, setting a fire and guard as usual. The night is only disturbed by the odd calls of the wolves which disturbs the dogs and horses.

Next day s also showery and dull, but the low level snow is starting to melt making the track mushy, which is hard on them but harder on the ill fed horses. again the day is uneventful and they set camp amongst the trees that evening. As they are making camp with a large fire Sinclaire who is on guard see’s something jump from a tree near by and start to move towards them.  In a few seconds he can make out a towering tree like crature walking towards the camp speaking in an unknown tongue. The tree creature is around 15 foot tall and carrying a large branch in his ‘HAND’. It seems to have a face and is walking on what looks like two trunks with splayed roots for feet. It has smaller growths on it some sporting leaves and seems to have a brown looking moss growing around its face.

As it gets closer it is quit obvious that it is speaking in some way. As more of the camp become aware of the giants presence Jules comes up and releases that it is talking in a form of Gallic, a language he has a little ability in. So bowing to the creature he tries to find out what it wants. After a few minute of listening and trying he thinks that the creature is saying.

“Once mighty now a shadow of itself!

Of no more use, washed or blown away”

Jules communicates this to the others and they try to work out what it means.

They struggle for a while and then realise that it is talking about the trees in the forest, once mighty now a shadow, so maybe cut down or similar.  Then it makes some sense to them shadow means turned to ash and ash can be washed or blown away. Realising it might not like there fire they start to put it out, while Jules continues to talk to the tree. Meanwhile Sinclaire wonders if this thing is good or evil, and Peter searches his memory for any record or myth of such a creature. Peter decides that this must be a forest protector, a elemental tree or force of nature because he has heard of tales of such in the deep forests and in the past. Sinclaire meanwhile remembers that under Catholic lore there are only three types of being,  man with a soul; animals without a soul and spirits both good angels or bad demons, this must be a spirit being all he needs to know is if it is evil or good. To be helped or destroyed!

Over the next hours as night goes past and with no food as the fire is out, Jules tries to talk with the spirit to find out its needs. Slowly Jules finds out that it is upset at the burning of the forest by man, and it seems that the place they are going is to blame. He explains to the spirit that they are hungry and need to use a fire to cook, so it disappears for half an hour and returns with a arm full of nuts, berries etc for them. It says that is all the forest creatures eat so can they, Jules explains that the horses need something else but thanks him for the nuts. The spirit says if the release the animals that they will feed themselves. Jules tries to show that is not going to happen.

Jules wonders what the spirit can do about those who burn and what he will do if they use there fire or attack it. The spirit tree points at a boulder waves its limbs about and grunts in its language, and the boulder explodes apart. This terrifies Sir Denies and the guards who are keeping a careful watch on this monster. Jules has relised that this creature means no harm  and does not want to resort to aggression but knows no other way to stop the destruction of its trees. He releases that with this spirit they would have a powerful way of  putting pressure on Landry to get the finger from him. However he has found out that the spirit will not help them. Romeo thinks this thing is evil because it wants to stop trade in wood and charcoal. For Romeo trade and gold is all, this is not true of the others and so they have a disagreement over this creature, however they is not much Romeo can do about it on his own.

So with midnight near by the creature walks back into the forest and the group settles down uneasily for what is left of the night, except Jules who sleeps with a great peace. At least with this thing near by there will be now trouble with any wolves tonight. So after a short nights sleep, Jules being the most rested they eat a cold early meal and set off down the track, hoping that they are not to far from the next village, which from the spirit they think is within a day with Allanche either 3 or 4 days away if they understood the spirits response of one ‘finger’ on one limb and three ‘fingers’ on the other. Knowing they will very short of food if they do not find the village they march on in through the showers, with even the knights leading there weakening horses.

Around midmorning they come across the village, Peter is sent to scout it out and finds that it has been abandoned as well. Again the leave the knights ahorse while the others in three groups of a guard and one of them search the village huts, Stephen the Sheppard stays with the other tethered horses. Romeo and the guard Pascal search a couple of hovels and then when they open the door to the next see in the gloom inside a couple of bodies lying on the floor, nothing else seems to be in the area, no furniture or goods which can be seen anyway. Deciding that these might be plague victims, which he confirms by smell and look,  they do not enter and continue to search other buildings. It turns out that each searching group comes across the same, two bodies in a hovel, a different one each time. They will need to be careful, unfortunately there also does not appear to be any food here at all, the place seems to have been stripped clean. With most of the day to go they decide to camp here, Sir Sinclaire will oversee the guards digging graves in the churchyard and then after taking the roofs of the hovel to let the light in dragging the bodies without touching them to be buried by him with the proper service.

Meanwhile Jules, Stephen and Peter will go hunting and gathering for what supplies nature might have in this area. After some hours, they return with enough supplies for the nine of them for a day, as well as having left a few traps out to see what they might bring overnight.  Sir Sinclaire has just about finished the interments by now and with the day nearly gone they settle into the church building itself. They have a small fire inside to cook and keep warm with, they keep the animals with them in there as well feeding them thatch from the buildings, not good fodder but better than nothing. They also set up a big fire outside to deter any wolves from coming to close and to give security to the guard rota that night, they also leave the discarded parts of the small animals they caught there so any wolves will go for that first. It is at this point that they realise that Sinclaire did not check if the ground was still holy before he buried the dead and so they worry they might walk anyway tonight.

With a normal two on guard and Sinclaire also sleeping in the porch rather than inside just in case, they head to sleep. The night passes with no alarm and feeling rested they eat of their rations and then Jules and Peter go and see what their traps have caught. Enough small animals to give them some meat in the evenings dinner anyway.  As ready as they can be they head off again, today is overcast but dry for a change. As they near the end of the days march they see smoke ahead and then the white of the manor keep standing over the village, this must be Allanche.

They stop and smarten themselves up, getting out there blue hooded capes and the bishops pennon, they them move off towards the manor. As they approach a group of riders can be seen coming from the keep towards them, Sir Sinclaire recognises the arms of the knight approaching them, Sir Chandos, not the well known one but a poor knight of Gascony.  Peter starts to play and Sinclaire and Sir Denies move forward to parley.  They explain that they need to see and speak to Sir Landry if this is his castle, Sir Chandos says that he is sure his lord will be happy to receive them if they will just fall in with his men and come this way. His men consist of a squire and 4 crossbow and 6 spearmen.

With Chandos leading they head through the village, which appears to have grown with new hovels and cleared land. They see the keep ahead of them a mighty wall around it around 10foot tall with crenulations around the top. There is a ditch around it with a drawbridge over it, the gate way has a heavy twin door with a portcullis covering it. Riding through it they enter the courtyard, which is full of the usual buildings as well as many more huts with soldiers sitting around them cleaning kit etc. The main manor keep is 3 stories high. The ground floor of the keep is a open area with support pillars, this area is used to keep horses and other livestock it is entered by a recessed double door covered by a outcrop of the walls each side which allows missile fire and a overhang above which allows liquid to be poured on an attacker. Here they have to leave their horses  to be looked after although they do not get to enter the area. The first floor is reached by a stairway from the outcrop curving round the keep to a platform and door, again covered by an outcrop on its outside and a overhang. This floor is the main hall with a small kitchen behind the fireplace, the main kitchen is a outbuilding. The second floor is accessed from a spiral stair near the entrance where there is a trapdoor to seal off the ground floor. The main hall is light by the dim light of the end of the day as well as the fire and some torches, they recognise Lord Landry sat at one end with some of his men around his and others around the hall.  He beacons’ them  forward and asks what his old friends want with him in the mist of the winter. Sir Sinclaire explains there mission and that they have been to St Goar village and now to here with many adventures on the way looking for the priest Began  and the finger bone he is supposed to have. He shows his mandate from the bishop and asks if Bergan is here.

Now the dance begins, Landry does not want to tip his hand until he knows what is on offer and so he and Sir Sinclaire negotiate with each other. Our group feel that Sir Landry does not have Bergan or the finger but properly knows where he is, while Landry refuses to say whether he has either. In the end after a break for some food they reach an agreement.

Sir Landry wants a rival Sir Philip of Condat a few days away to the North West who controls another cross road pass removed.  He does not want the men under him killed or he could have done the job himself, he wants to take over the area and the men but needs to remove Philip first. Once they have done that he will tell them where to find Bergan and the finger, once they have recovered the finger they will grant him title to these lands in the bishops name, whether he will be the bishops man will need to be sorted out later, but he will recognise his right to gift control of the land. With this agreed they know that there next step will be to remove Philip from the manor of Condat, apparently he has 10 to 20 men based in a small manor keep at another track crossroads  to the northwest. Feeling well fed for a change they come together and sleep on the hall floor tonight.

What will the next few days bring?

Will they kill in cold blood or how will they do so?

All to be answered in the future.

————————————————————-

 Day 23 Sunday late March 1366.

After attending church in the morning our group over lunch discuss what there plan should be to deal with Sir Philip. Will they be able to cut a deal with him by bribing him to leave with them, or will they need to assassinate    him, cutting his throat or maybe poisoning him. Or maybe ambush him outside, or have Sinclaire challenge him to combat. With so many options they decide to find out more about him, and Peter goes around the locals and humble soldiers asking about him, while Sir Sinclaire talks with the knights and squires.  Between them they find out, that Sir Philip of Condat is a poor knight, who is reserved, jealous with a red goatee There is one village between here and there, Sir Philip has 15 men in a small keep manor village. Philip goes out hunting once a week, Monday afternoon, he sweeps around the area every Wednesday and Friday other than that he will be around the manor with some of his men near to hand the others will be resting. The keep is a simple 3 story tower with a small church on its side, the village has around a dozen hovels around. The keep on a rocky knoll which overlooks the 4 roads.

With this information they decide on a hunting accident, they will get up to his keep and see which of the four routes he takes for the hunting trip and then wait in ambush to take him out on his way home. They decide that they need to wait for next Monday to do this and so need to leave on Thursday to be in place at the weekend. Thinking that shooting at the horses will be a good way of bringing him down they get the blacksmith to make some broad headed arrows and bolts as well as some Roman inspired caltrops. These take a couple of days to make and allows them time to practice with the arrows and bolts. They also request supplies and other minor things from Sir Landry to be ready for Thursdays.

Unknown to Peter one of the peasants he talked with is related to a peasant in Condat, and the two meet and talk so passing on the interest the group have in Sir Philip and the preparations going on as well as the rumors of Landry using them to kill Philip. by Thursday sir Philip is aware of this and is one his guard.

Wednesday, a day of preparation, church, rest and final arrangements of food etc so as to be ready to leave tomorrow. Day 27 Thursday, leave for Condat and the killing of Sir Philip, it is a cool dry day and they march along the track which runs beside the mountain stream, it is a reasonable spring day and the snow on the heights will be melting soon flooding this area as the stream breaks its steep banks. Rather than camp at the intervening village they camp in the trees some miles after. They set there usual guard but the night is undisturbed by any threats.

Friday day 28 of the mission, Romeo does some fishing while the others get the animals and breakfast ready, he catches nothing.  After a couple of hours after dawn they are ready to move on again towards Condat. They send Peter scouting ahead with Stephen Sheppard about 60 yards behind him to pass any signals back. About 60 yards behind him are the two knights followed by the others with Jules as usual bring up the rear. Again unknown to them Sir Philip has decided to patrol this way today in case he can intercept the attackers Landry has sent against him, he set off before dawn.

Around mid morning Peter sees a group of riders coming round a bend ahead, he waves to Stephen and moves to cover in the overgrown stream bank. Hopefully he has not been seen, even though he hears a shout, Stephen also seeing the group coming towards him, losses his nerve and also hides in the stream bank. Unfortunately Peter had been seen, although they lost him as he moved into the stream bank. Spearing there horses on Philip trots down the track expecting his foes to be near by.

Sir Philip with ten other riders ride past where Peter and then Stephen is hiding and sees the main group just as they see him. Peter moves along the bank to follow the group hoping he will be in a situation to do something if needed.

Romeo responds first and dismounts having first thought about jumping the stream, knowing he is at a massive disadvantage if he tries to fight mounted on a riding horse, while facing trained knights on warhorses. Jules moves away from the stream to cover the open flank, the tree line is around 50 yards away. Sinclaire and Sir Denies put spurs to there horses and charge, Denies with his lance and Sinclaire with his long sword. The three crossbow guards put a bolt into there already drawn crossbows while staying mounted. Sir Philip with his two squires trot towards the charging knights while his mounted spear move to flank and his four mounted crossbow loose through the gaps in front of them, Jules and a crossbowman are both hit and impaled by a bolt. Jules ignores the damage [hard as nails] while the guard although with a bolt in him doesn’t suffer more than a light wound.

Contact, Denies thrusts at Philip, who manages to parry with his heater shield stopping some of the damage while his armour stops nearly all the rest, he takes a cut. Philip strikes back with his lance which Sir Denies also manages to parry. One of the two squires jabs with his short spear at Sinclaire but misses while the four mounted spear go two and two on Denies and Sinclaire. Denies parries one while the other fails to get past his armour, Sinclaire parries one and the other misses. Only a few seconds have gone and the two knights are in trouble outnumbered and stopped.

Peter having got closer loses an arrow and hits one of the mounted crossbow impaling the arrow into him, meanwhile Romeo grabs the bag of caltrops from his horse. Jules orders their crossbow men to aim at there opposite number while preparing to receive a charge id need be. Sinclaire attacking with his sword at the end of his charge misses a squire. Sir Denies having used his lance draws his sword as does Sir Philip. Denies and Sinclaire are each attacked by two spearmen while the squires draw there swords. Sinclaire uses his shield and sword and parries both attacks, while Denies parries the only one which was likely to hit. Sir Philips crossbow store there crossbows and draw there axes ready to join in the melle.

With only Peter, Romeo and Jules left to do anything, Peter loads his bow, Romeo scatters caltrops across 8 yards of there front while Jules watches wondering what Romeo is up to. Five seconds have gone and we are about to start another turn of combat.

Peter goes first, and impales another arrow into a crossbowman, Romeo draws his swords and moves behind the mounted crossbowmen, while Jules waits so he can advance with him and the crossbow once they have shot if that is what he is planning to do. Sinclaire swings his long sword at a squire, causing his left arm to bleed. Sir Denies swings his sword at Sir Philip who fails to parry, but the blow fails to get past his armour. Jules lets the crossbow loose and all three hit the enemy crossbow they were aiming at even with the disadvantage of a impaled bolt in one of them.   Sir Philip misses Denies with his attack, but the squires and spear do better. One squire misses Denies while the other has his weapon pined by Sinclair’s shield. The spearmen manage to impale a spear into Sinclair’s leg causing a bad wound and rendering the leg nearly usless.  Sir Philips mounted crossbow having all suffered bad impaling hits from missiles turn there horses around and flee.

Peter thinks he can hear more riders coming [he has spend a hero point to have some help turn up], and sees two knights coming from behind him. Romeo decides to try to use his alchemy to improve his sword and starts to chant the words to set off the effect of ‘to sharpen a blade’, this will take a least 10 seconds [2 combat turns]. Jules orders the crossbow to chance weapons and dismount to form a spear wall. Sir Denies hits Philip who parries the sword blow.  However Denies is hit in the head by one of the spearmen, while Sinclaire has the spearmen fighting him fail to unpin his weapon or pull the impaled spear free. The squires both miss there easy attacks.

Peter loads a broad-head arrow, while the two knights ride up to him and call out. “What’s the ruckus? who are the good guys?” Peter responds “routier attacking the bishops men” Jules starts to move forward without the crossbowmen as he can see that his knights are in trouble. Sinclaire having got over the shock of the spear in his leg, although it is still there, swings at a squire but misses, its hard with the pain of a spear in his leg. The spearman manages to unpin his spear. That’s another 5 seconds gone, melees are quick and deadly.

Peter looses his broad-head arrow at Sir Philip’s horse hitting it in its right hind leg causing a bleeding wound, this causes the horse to buck. Jules and the crossbow move forward, with them sorting out weapons and shields as they go. Sir Philip and his remaining men turn and flee. As they run they are engaged by the two knights who rip the leg off a squire leaving him on the ground and causes a serious wound in the right arm of a spearman who falls off a while later. The knights pull up by Jules and after receiving his thanks ride off on the way to Allanche.

Romeo gives up on his alchemy and goes to give first aid to Sinclaire and takes the spear out of his leg, doing no more harm, Jules tends to Sir Denies who is unconscious from his head blow. Romeo than pulls the bolt from Jules but fails to do it properly and if not for Jules hard as nails would have caused a bad wound.

Well the plan did not go as intended, they have hurt Sir Philips men rather than him, which is not what Landry wanted and they have taken quite bad injuries themselves.

What will they do now?

—————————————————————————–

 After the initial first aid, Romeo turns back to his first love alchemy and spends a little time getting his mind attuned to his Philosophers Stone and the earth elements in the  person he wants to help. First Sir Denies and his head wound and then Sir Sinclaire and his leg wound, he manages to align the flux’s of the body and improves both of them, although Sinclaire like Denies still has a limb from there bad left legs. While Romeo is busy aiding the two nobles, Peter loots and scavenges the dead and dying, which there crossbowmen have already been at so there are no dying left. All the coin has gone, but he takes the mail armour and Sinclaire takes the trews for his use as he has no leg protection while they give the shirt and hood to one of there crossbowmen. Peter also makes sure that the two bodies are buried and then he and Sinclaire prayer for guidance and forgiveness for working for a demon supporter. They have realised that they went there own way and were helping a man who had been working with a sorcerer, Landry. As they pray they both have the thought of Sexton comes to mind. This makes them think about asking the Sexton of the church at Allanche about the priest Bergan. With Sir Philip alerted and both of the knights as well as a crossbowman still injured the party decide to go back to Allanche and see what they can do from there.

Sir Sinclaire and Peter leave the group at a village between Condat and Allanche and go on to Allanche themselves. They are there by the end of March and go straight to the church of St Mary where they pray and ask for confession when the priest, Father John, comes to them. They confess to arrogance, bloodlust, vanity, lust, fear, cowardice, and impure thoughts. They are given hail Mary’s to say  and told to make a donation for the poor, Peter gives 30d and Sinclaire 50d. They then question the priest and tell him about there quest for the bishop and for Gods glory. The priest says that he had heard about his predecessor but that the  Sexton Ralph was here then so might have some information. Peter leaves Sinclaire and the priest and goes to talk with Ralph. He gives Ralph 5d and asks about Bergan, Ralph spits and makes the sign of the cross, with a look of horror on his face. It turns out that Bergan left a couple of years ago, after corrupting Landry and others. He took the finger he always had with him along and headed as far as Ralph knows to a village near Pau in Gascony. “Send him to hell if you find him” Ralph finishes with.

Sinclaire and Peter then head to Landry to report, they explain about the ambush betrayal, and how they were attacked by a dozen of Sir Philips men. They managed to deal with four of them but suffered injures if no casualties themselves.  Landry goes mad on them, saying he had said do not hurt the common men just Sir Philip, all you have done is stir up a nest for me now, there will be no easy coexistence between us now and I will not gain control of that area. You have not done what I wanted you to do at all. Sinclaire says then we will come back in 6 months or so and see if we can do anything then once the fuss has died down. “We will see you in the future” he says “and we will talk to the bishop of your holding this land from him as well as the lower taxes on St Flour trade”, and then him and Peter take there leave of Landry. Peter shares that he has a uneasy feeling when in Landry’s presence, he wonders if that is due to being corrupted in some way, like working with the evil wizard.

Sinclaire then talks again to Father John and arrange for him to send reports back to the bishop via passing merchants. With the trade and spy work done, they head back to join up with the others. They arrive just in time for the festival of fools on the 1st of April. Sinclaire and Denies as well as the village elder dress as fools and the serfs life as though they were in charge for the day. After a day of fun and humiliation they all retire to bed tired but happy.  Next day they acquire food with there bishops chits, not good food but mainly root vegetables, they also get more when they reach Allanche again. They then set out back to St Flour, this takes them eight days, stopping in villages when they can and camping out when they have to. The way back is not as hard as the journey out due to less snow, its nearly all gone, following a main track and knowing where they are going. As they head home they discuss there adventure and what might come next, think about the need to get into and out of Gascony with a holy relic which the local bishop might have thoughts on and so decide to take a finger in so they can swap it to bring out.

Tenth April, they reach St Flour, after around 6 weeks away, and report to Bishop Pierre d’Estaing about there travels, the villages they visited and helped. the encounter with Landry and his desire to hold his land under the church, they report to the council about the trade and information network they have set up and the need to send priest’s to run the churches there, as well as a need for some protection and law. The bishop wants them to continue to try to retrieve the finger of St Goar, but says Peter needs to marry first. With Easter over and spring in the air it is time for weddings so Peter the Bard can marry squire Clements’s daughter Isabella, before she gets to big.

Isabella brings a dowry of 50LT in jewellery clothes and some cash, and the Bishop and Sir Robert have granted the couple a Fief in the village of Volzac manor [where Clement is bailiff] with 200 acres of land worth about 50Lt a year giving a profit after paying tithes, staff [a couple of part time farm hands and extra labour at harvest] and keep of around 10Lt. This makes Peter a rich Yeoman [rich enough to become a squire] before any other income or savings you may have, he decides that he would like to become a squire and so as part of the marriage he is also squired gaining a longsword as a sign of his new status. The bishop presides and Sq. Clement gives the bride away while Sir Robert stands as best man. The wedding feast costs Peter 10LT as he does not have enough money himself he demands a loan on his land, getting into the ways of the noble quickly, this loan of nearly 8Lt he will pay back at 3LT a year for 3 years. The village and there friends enjoy the feast and celebrate the marriage of Peter and Isabella.

Twentieth April with all there preparations done and Peter hitched our small group of four, having realised Sir Denies and his men are ready to head south. The bishop has told them that Pau is on the northern edge of the Pyrenees overlooking the valley of the Grave de Pau river. South of Bordeaux and west of Toulouse. This journey will take about 2 to 3 weeks following the trade route to Toulouse at first around 90 miles, this will take them from village to village to town each about 10 to 15 miles apart, mostly through English held area’s although Toulouse is French held. They can then ask for directions to Pau which is SW of Toulouse and head off on there own either following the circular trade route of around 90 miles or direct  which is about 2/3 of the distance. They ask the bishop for a reliquary box for the finger, Sinclaire acquires a ridding horse to go with his warhorse as well as a groom, while Peter gets a hobby to ride on. Romeo changes his hat for a laminar helm and buys some trade goods worth 8Lt for 2Lt, to trade on.

All ready they join a merchant caravan heading south, what will the future bring?

———————————————

 St Agnes of Montpulciano day, Twentieth April, with all there preparations done and Peter hitched our small group of four, having realised Sir Denies and his men are ready to head south. The bishop has told them that Pau is on the northern edge of the Pyrenees overlooking the valley of the Grave de Pau river. South of Bordeaux and west of Toulouse. This journey will take about 2 to 3 weeks following the trade route to Toulouse at first around 90 miles, this will take them from village to village to town each about 10 to 15 miles apart, mostly through English held area’s although Toulouse is French held. They can then ask for directions to Pau which is SW of Toulouse and head off on there own either following the circular trade route of around 90 miles or direct  which is about 2/3 of the distance. They ask the bishop for a reliquary box for the finger, Sinclaire acquires a ridding horse from the church to go with his warhorse as well as a groom, Ponz, while Peter gets a hobby from Sir Robert to ride on. Romeo changes his hat for a laminar helm and buys some trade goods worth 8Lt for 2Lt, to trade on. They receive there Stipend – 3 months as a rich yeoman’s @21d day, salary – after tax, tithe and food = 240d  [8Lt – 4 food; -11/2 tax and Tithe; 11/2 clothes = 240d] In future Peter will not get a wage for his 40 days a year feudal service, but at 24d a day thereafter as a squire. Peter gives 40d to the church as an extra to his tithe.

They know that Bergen has gone to a village near Pau in Gascony, or at least that is what they were told. They have found out that Pau is on the northern edge of the Pyrenees overlooking the valley of the Grave de Pau river. South of Bordeaux and west of Toulouse, once in Pau they can ask about his location. Pau is the capital of Bearn, part of the Pyrenean states. Its Ruler is Gaston III of Foix and Gaston X of Béarn. This area is now largely clear of large bands of routiers as is much of northern France as they have joined the army of Henry of Trastámara, or been cleared out by the crown. Henry had assembled a large army, with both French and Aragonese components and English mercenaries, at Montpellier to invade Castile to regain his throne from Pedro the Just the king of Castile and León [from 1350],with the support of the kings of France and Aragon (Charles V and Peter IV respectively). The army entered Castile in January thus continuing the war between Argon and Castile which has been going on for some years.

The journey to Toulouse is relatively uneventful, after all it’s a well trod path with a fair amount of traffic. They meet and converse with many other travellers on there way,  learning new ideas and points of view.  Jules leans more about herbs, Sinclaire gets others to help him see hidden things better and works on his athleticism at the same time, Romeo spends most of this week travelling working on his first aid, Alchemy, Crossbow skills and influencing people, Peter gets Jules to teach him the basics of sword use now he is a squire and practices with a crossbow to be able to use his bow skill with it.

It takes seven days to get to Toulouse passing from village to village, each about 10 to 15 miles apart, through a semi deserted land still suffering from war and plague. The southern French locals are happy to take there money but are very wary of strangers, the English now control this land and the caravan see many longbow armed soldiers around, the villages have deserted homes and the forest is reclaiming some land. You hear that Pedro the Just the king of Castile and León is losing as he has been out manoeuvred. There are many small groups of soldiers using this road heading towards south-eastern France and then Iberia to join in the looting with a war in Castile. Jules, Sinclaire, Peter and others of the caravan catch some illness from the poor rooms they share on the journey, this leaves them tired but otherwise with no ill effects. They recover once they settle in Toulouse.

St Zita day 27 April – As they approach Toulouse  and the river Garona they see the tall white walls of the city ahead. There are two big stone bridges connecting the east main city to the west suburb. Over the walls tower the steeples of four big churches as if standing guard.  Surrounding the area can be seen many farms and small villages as well as many new graveyards along with the odd white walled castle standing proud.  Many people are coming and going including many convoys. It is here that our group will leave the company of the convoy, they are now on there own.

Toulouse is a large French city the capital of the County of Toulouse, a French crown held area, under Ruler John I Count d’Armagnac  and of Rodez, no armour or non side weapons are allowed in the city unless on some sort of city duty, first offence is a fine second confiscation, then time in the stocks and a fine. They are requested to remove armour and store non side arms on horses before entering. It has large empty areas due to plaque, many beggars and cripples are around, it is a  major Trade city and  guild centre.  Also a centre for sale of blue colouring (pastel) extracted from woad plants, Bordeaux wine trade with England, as well as cereals and textiles. The formation of its University was imposed on Count Raymond VII as a part of the Treaty of Paris in 1229. It has a small Alchemist school within the , also attached to the university is the Lyric school of the troubadours. Consistori dels Sept Trobadors (“Consistory of the Seven Troubadours”) or Sobregaya Companhia dels Set (VII) Trobadors de Tolosa (“Overjoyed Company of the seven troubadours of Toulouse”). This is a poetic academy founded at Toulouse in 1323 to revive and perpetuate the lyric  style of Troubadours. Founded by seven literary men of the bourgeoisie, who composed a manifesto, in Old Occitan verse, pledging to award prizes to poetry in the troubadouresque style and emulating the language of classical period of the troubadours. The Consistori is governed by a chancellor and seven judges or mantenedors (maintainers). The Consistori holds an annual poetry contest at which one contestant, the “most excellent poet” (plus excellen Dictador), would receive the violeta d’aur (golden violet) for the poem or cançó judged the best. The other prizes, awarded for particular poetic forms, were similarly floral, The best dança earned its creator a flor de gaug d’argen fi (a fine silver marigold) and the best sirventés, pastorèla or vergièra garnered a flor d’ayglentina d’argen (a silver dog rose).

Our group of four decide to spend 2 weeks in Toulouse doing different things before moving on, occasionally meeting up together. Jules takes part time work at the University teaching Arabic and improving his English, he also finds a book on Natural Philosophy which he buys for 3Lt, he was lucky they needed a tutor for a few students.

Sinclaire heads to the churches, visiting and praying in briefly in each, St Pierre‘s was built over a hundred years ago and is the home of the Dominican monks, and the shrine of Thomas Aquinas.  Outside its plain but inside!! spectacular.. The first thing you see upon entering is one of the arches, which has Moorish designs with their shape and colourful geometric tile patterns. The wall behind Thomas Aquinas tomb has engravings and shapes of mystifying types. Santa Maria Dealbata church which was built with white limestone so is very bright when the sun hits it which also makes it light inside as well. St Sernin Basilica-  named after the first bishop of Toulouse, Sernin, or Saturnin, sent there by the Pope as a missionary. The pagan population decided to kill him by dragging him through the streets tied to a bull. Two Christian women in the town protected his dead body from pagan profanation by burying it. In the 300′s and 400′s AD, Sernin’s successors built a church on his burial site to house his remains, as the number of pilgrims to the site grew, another larger church was built at the end of the 4th century. In the 700′s, Charlemagne gifted the larger church with many important relics, leading to an explosion of pilgrimage. The current St Sernin church was built to accommodate the further increase in pilgrims. Sinclaire  however spends most time at the Cathedral of St Etienne; which is actually two incomplete churches joined together This church has so many beautiful architectural lines and arches.  When you enter the church, you see the first sanctuary with the pulpit and altar, then behind to the left another Sanctuary. Off to the side is a chapel to the Knights of Christ so this is where he spends a lot of his time. He also inquires into and learns some of the secrets of the Knights, this gives him the ability to improve his protection in combat, this time at a holy sight also improves his faith.  He tells Ponz to go and enjoy the city but with no money to give him, Jules steps in and gives him 12d, not a lot but better than nothing, luckily they are both cared for by the church while here. Sinclaire also inquires about directions to Pau, about the finger and Bergen, he finds out nothing extra about Bergen or the finger but gets the directions he needs.

Peter  goes to St Pierre‘s and prays for two days, as this is a mayor pilgrim site it improves his faith. He then hangs out with troubadours  having a good time and learning more stories as well as sharing his, he makes enough from tips in inns to pay for his stay here. Romeo sells his goods and buys some blue dye worth 4Lt with what he makes on the sale. Between chasing girls he takes Peter to the city armoury and looks at what they have for sale.  The city armoury has  blacksmiths and armourers working for it who make all basic weapons; mail; cheap plate; full plate helms; swords; pole arms. Good quality well balanced Arming Swords which are easier to use and hold a edge well. all these are at a premium due to the demand of the war to the south. It also stocks – imported leather and padded armour; Crossbows and Iberian Javelins. It also has a very special items – Heavy Javelins which penetrate armour well cost 60d;  Heavy Throwing Spear again which penetrate armour well cost 100d; Recurve bows – 1 plain but accurate cost 400d; Fancy & powerful cost 3Lt;  2 plain accurate and powerful cost 2Lt;  Nomad bows – 1 a fancy cost 300d; 2 a plain accurate cost 250d; Crossbows – 1 a fancy Arberlest cost 4Lt; 2 a plain Arbalest accurate cost £2 120d; 3 a fancy Heavy cost 2Lt; 4 a fancy heavy powerful cost 3Lt. Both Romeo and Peter fail to see the difference between the different bows and crossbows and Romeo buys the plain 21/2Lt [around 2 to 3 months income for a peasant or 8 months of his own stipend] arbalest and some basic bolts. When he starts to use it he finds that it is slightly more accurate than normal. Peter then takes him to St Pierre’s and shows him the designs behind the tomb, Romeo realises that they show the basics of Alchemy allowing someone who can read Arabic or understand alchemy to learn the basics of the four main schools Air, Earth, Fire, Water as well as the general basics of Alchemy. Romeo decides he will come and look at this again when he has more time.

St Walter of l’Esterp, and St Tudy  of Brittany day, 11 May.  After two weeks in the city the four are ready to leave, Jules spends his last day collecting herbs to use to make healing potions later. They buy four days of rations, wine, ale etc and some fodder for the horses who will mainly eat the new grass.  With the directions Sinclaire got they head off towards Pau which is on the northern edge of the Pyrenees overlooking the valley of the Grave de Pau river. They head off on there own following the direct route which is about 60miles and 4 days rather than the longer trade route.

On the way to Pau they go through a forest to save time, they have take this path to avoid going round and adding days to the journey, they follow a stream as it makes access to water easier and seems to be going in the general direction they need. Around about lunch time they come across some ruins just before the stream opens into a small lake. The ruins before them are scattered over a large enough area to indicate that they were once part of a large building – or even a collection of such. The skeleton of a narrow tower reaches skywards, a spiral stair visible within its exposed innards. A long, ragged wall marks out what may once have been a gatehouse.

This tranquil scene is disturbed by a series of snarls and howls that rend the air. Moments later, a pack of vicious-looking wild dogs bounds from the ruins and race towards them. All are mounted with Romeo and Ponz on Romeo’s cart with Sinclair’s warhorse tied behind, Peter is in front as scout.

Peter reacts fastest and turns his horse to move back towards the rest of the party, the dogs now moving very fast close on him and start to snap at his horse. Sinclaire and Jules both dismount while Romeo draws his two swords while still on the cart. Pnoz gets off the cart and goes to untie the warhorse. Peter decides that with his horse being spooked by the snapping dogs he would be much better off it. He is not much of a rider and a hobby is not designed for use in combat. He leaps off aiming to land on a dog while drawing his dagger to strike with. With his amassing acrobatic ability he pulls this off and thrusts the dagger deep into the dog which failed to get out of the way.

One dog follows Peter’s horse as it runs while the other two bit at Peter, but both fail to contact. Sinclaire mounts his warhorse, while Romeo leaps off the cart and Jules moves to get up level with the cart. Peter decides that staying with two dogs around him is a bad idea so runs back to the cart and lines up with Romeo and Jules while Sinclaire urges his horse towards the other dog chasing Peter’s horse. Peter grabs his halberd off the cart and then the two dogs leap at him and Romeo, Peter parries with his halberd and Romeo manages to block the bite with his sword.  Romeo then swings his falchion and hits the dog leaving it bleeding and near to death, Jules hits the other one with the axe head on his halberd taking that one near to death. With three dogs down, Sinclaire has no trouble taking out the last one, as he does he catches a glimpses of a large hound moving stealthily through the ruins and then hurrying away, retreating out of sight by some scrub.

———————————————————

Having seen off the dogs and seeing that the large hound has vanished for the time being our intrepid group take stock. Peter and Sinclaire both pray for guidance but no direct answer is forthcoming and they assume that they are just to use there own common sense. So the group set out to explore the ruins and amongst the brambles and rubble they find Growing in the corner of what would once have been a courtyard, a beautiful tree which is adorned with apples and pears. Then half covered with moss and the remains of a once mighty statue, skilfully fashioned from black granite. The statue lies in the likeness of death, its chest pierced by long rusted blades and swords. The guardian’s limbs have crumbled away and succumbed to the weathering of long centuries. Nevertheless, it retains certain nobility and hints at some power which might have once coursed through this place. In the dirt and leaves around the statue Romeo sees a pair of steel gauntlets, on the ground, once worn by the guardian, these have not rusted. They are too large for a human to wear; Romeo uses his Alchemy and Jules his science knowledge on these strange gauntlets they come to the conclusion that they may be melted down and re-forged into an item of prodigious strength which would never rust, Romeo takes them to his cart. They also see a fountain, though the stonework of this fountain has been rubbed smooth by wind and rain, the three golden bands resting on the brows of the carven sylphs remain undiminished. Similarly, the red, blue and green gemstones within their eyes still sparkle through the years of dust and grime.  Jules and Sinclaire check the value of these and decide that the bands should be worth around 3 Lt each and the stones about 1Lt each, however they still decide to leave them be.

Near the centre of the ruins is a descending stone stairway down which the hound fled after its pack was defeated. A line of broken stairs, befouled with dung and cracked by the sprouting of tough grass, disappears beneath the ground. The remains of an ornate archway looms drunkenly overhead, barely legible lettering carved into its stonework. A careful inspection of the ruined arch reveals the words ‘To learn is to live, to live is to learn’. In old Roman Latin which Jules and Sinclaire manage to read.

They now spend some minutes discussing which weapons they should each carry, what lighting they need and the order they should move in. Eventually they decide against using Romeo’s alchemy to create light and go with Ponz, the groom, carrying Jules’s lantern on his quarterstaff. The order of march is Romeo and Sinclaire at the front with Sinclaire ready to use his long sword two handed and Romeo with a sword in each hand. They are followed by Jules, with his halberd pointing between them, then by Peter with his bow and Ponz with the light.

This stairway descends 20 feet and opens out into a large, manmade chamber lit by the lantern and sunlight coming through cracks in the ceiling, this would once have been an impressive room, sporting four ornate columns in the likeness of elemental creatures propping up the roof and numerous friezes and mosaics covering the floor and walls. Age has ravaged them all. At the far end of the chamber is a raised platform, strewn with rubble from where the ceiling has fallen in, creating several narrow fissures. There are some rubble-strewn doorways that would once have lead out of this chamber. They also see that there is an open Bronze box resting on the platform. It is partially obscured by rubble from the roof. Our explorers move towards the box on the platform..

The hound male that the Adventurers saw earlier and spotted going this way is hidden behind the rubble on the platform. As they begin to search the chamber, the hound emerges, lips drawn back in a threatening snarl.  The group stops moving and talk to it in Latin and Romeo throws food to it, neither action gets any response over than continued snarls.  So they decide to move away from the platform and look around the chamber.  Romeo takes an interest in the columns and the  mosaics, the columns are a fire, earth, air and water elemental while what can be made out of the mosaics show natural  scenes as well as mythical creatures and elemental scenes.   They discus who might have owned this place, maybe a Roman alchemist, Romeo says he could have managed to live thousands of years and still be around. The lack of obvious habitation and signs of occupation tends not to support that anyone is around although he could live near by still, after all the hound is well fed and must have an owner.

After a while they decide to try seeing what might be by the southern doors, hoping that that will not alarm the hound. However to get to the doors they have to move closer to the platform and the hound leaps at Sinclaire.  Romeo reacts fasted and waits to see if he can strike to defend Sinclaire, Peter losses an arrow which hits and sticks in the hound. The hound lands on Sinclaire, who fails to block it with his sword, and knocks him to the ground with only Sinclair’s arm armour stopping its teeth ripping into his arm. Sinclaire on the floor tries to improve his protection by using his newly learnt ‘Knights of Christ’ ability, but his incantation and signing of the cross fail and he makes the dogs fur more protective instead.  Jules being the slowest moves last and thrusts at the hound with the point of his halberd, rather than risk a chopping blow hitting Sinclaire, but misses.  Romeo moves to the hound and chops with his falchion at the hound causing a bleeding wound, Peter starts to reload his bow and the hound in pain, bounds past him and up the stairs.

Quickly getting there wits and Sinclaire to his feet the four followed by Ponz run after the hound. However the hound even wounded is much faster than them and leaves them behind as it enters the woods. They check that the horses are ok and see a blood trail leading into the forest. Deciding that the hound has properly had enough and fled, they head back into the chamber.  Romeo with his interest in the science of alchemy heads up on to the platform to look at the chest while the others watch.

As they watch him step on the platform they see him suddenly change into a dog, a lean sandy haired hunting dog. They then realise that they have all become dogs even Ponz. Jules is also a hunting dog, while Peter is a racing dog and Sinclaire a warhound, poor Ponz becomes a mottled mongrel. As they start to realise this a illusory image of a man in amber robes appears upon the platform. The illusion delivers a message, ‘Welcome, students – to your final test! You have proven yourselves skilled in the mystical arts. You have studied the history of nature, and the philosophy which underpins our work at this academy. And, you have done well. ‘Now, you must learn to survive without the skills you have worked so hard to master. Only then – when you understand that they should be used sparingly, as a last resort rather than a first – will you be ready to graduate. ‘Instructions for these final trials are written here.’ The figure gestures at an area of wall, now worn by the passage of time and covered with dust. ‘Complete each task, return here with what you find and place it inside this box. Good luck.’ The figure begins to fade, before suddenly coalescing once more. ‘Oh, and you know what a quirky sense of humor I have.’ The figure grins and vanishes from sight.

Though weathered and incomplete, the group can still make out the instructions to which the image referred. In a few places, however, the words have worn away all together: This is written in Gallic but they shimmer as they look at them and become words they can understand.

  • Remove the bronze feather without being seen and (words missing) metal box.
  • In the memorial yard are the remains of the first caretaker of the academy. Recover from him what the wizards restored when he first hobbled through the gates.
  • The boundaries of the academy are well known to you. Use your new form to mark out this terrain in less time than it takes the sundial to move a notch.
  • Recover (Missing words) beneath the shade of the oak.
  • Master Mylo cannot relax without his slippers. Unfortunately, he has left them on the island. Place them inside (Missing words).

Though the tunnels leading from the main chamber are choked with rubble, the Adventurers are able to clamber over the rocks of the two near the platform now they have been transformed into dogs. They try the south one first as it’s the nearest and enter a dust-shrouded chamber that is hung with numerous web-covered paintings. Through the years of grime they can make out several unusual scenes – a young man struggling to remove what appear to be a pair of shrinking trousers; a mirror that transforms its owner’s likeness into a ghoulish monstrosity; a pie that seems intent on devouring an over-plump apprentice. The list goes on. In each case, young man are portrayed as the butt of some sort of magical joke. In several, the same illusory figure who spoke to you looks on, his face contorted by bouts of laughter. Above the door, a bold plaque declares ‘Humility begins with the ability to laugh at oneself.’   A search of this room reveals a small stack of scrolls, all ravaged by age. Only one contains anything of note – scraps of a journal [in Latin] recording the difficulties the academy ran into when creatures from the laboratory escaped into the Lake of the Moon

……eriments themselves were a success – a shark, lobster and squid blended into one beast. Such a predator would be lord of the waves!

I never anticipated that it would be able to survive on dry land. Its movements were hampered of course but it slithered along well enough to get out of the room and down to the lake. If only poor Delmos had not been going for a walk at just that moment.

I suppose I should be pleased that they are breeding. It demonstrates just how successful my melding magic has become. Still, it seems scant consolation now that the lake is out of bounds. I cannot see the locals taking this news well either. I Sup……..

 Having read the message, our band of dogs head to the north corridor this leads into another chamber, the side walls of this large square chamber are engraved with numerous closed eyes and protruding ears. Resting upon a small, dust-laden plinth at the far end of the room is a bronze feather. A little way inside the room are two statues, each perfectly capturing the likeness of a powerful war hound. They assume that they have to retrieve the feather with out being heard or seen and that if they are the war hounds will attack them. As they scrutinise this room for further clues they see two grooves in the ceiling. Each is three inches wide and runs parallel to one of the side walls. Contained within each groove is a raised screen which, when lowered will blocks the carved eye’s view of the room. They also see a doorway on the same side as they are just to the south and so Jules and Ponz go to check it out.

 This small room contains a number of levers all numbered, all set into the floor. Carved into the walls is a pair of riddles again in Gallic which they can now read.

The first reads:

Remove the hours of the day from the weeks in the year and divide by the deadly sins.

The second reads:

The number of 9s there are between 1 and 100.

Jules gets 4 as the answer to the first riddle and grabs the lever numbered four with his mouth and pulls it. This  lowers a curtain from the groove covering the eyes in the western wall. He initially comes up with 10 but is sure that is wrong and so goes with 11. Pulling that numbered lever gives him a shock from some source and makes his hair stand on end. Jules and Ponz go back to the others and they think about the riddle. Once they have another answer Sinclaire goes to pull lever 1, he also suffers from a shock and returns to the group. They work on it for a while longer and then send Romeo to pull lever 12, he also suffers a shock. They then realise that they have gone about this wrong and after reworking it come up with 20 which once pulled lowers a curtain that covers the eyes in the eastern wall. With the eyes covered Romeo goes and gets the feather and they all head to the box and put it in. Nothing happens and they realise they need more than one item. So they head outside and Romeo gets the gauntlets and takes them to the box and puts them in as well. Still nothing happens.

Going outside again they explore the area as only a dog can sniffing here and there. They head south and find the graveyard which the assume is what the Memorial Yard is, and look around to see what remains of the first caretaker of the academy so they can recover from him what the wizards restored when he first hobbled through the gates. They find a tombstone that reads Findley McCaybe – walked tall in this world and surely the next. Our first caretaker.  They start to use there paws to dig.

The turf above the grave shifts and parts, with surprising agility, a skeletal figure bounds forth. In one bony hand it clutches a long whip, and you notice that it has one leg fashioned from rusted iron. This must be want they need an iron leg. Jules leaps at the form to knock it over which he does, biting on its rib bones. Peter bits at its whip hand to removes that, while Sinclaire goes for the iron leg but fails to grab it in his mouth.  The skeletal form tries to roll away from Jules but fails as Romeo manages to bit its iron leg and pull it free.  As he does so Findley’s skeletal remains claw their way back into the ruined grave and resume their long sleep. They head back to the box and put the leg in and retrieve the gauntlets which they put back on the cart.

Three more tasks to go will these prove harder they assume that the lake one will be difficult what with the odd monster they know lives there.  Will they find all the bits and be normal again a particular question for Peter and Sinclaire as they know that Dogs do not have souls and therefore no faith and no future life.

 ———————————————————-

 With the gauntlets back in Romeos cart they decide to try the forth test ‘Recover (Missing words) beneath the shade of the oak.’ They find an old oak tree of to the North East of the area a very old tree with spreading branches and gloomy roots. As Romeo dog searches around the tree the shadows coalesces into the form of a vulture-headed humanoid which tries to touch him. Romeo however doges back and away from this thing.  Jules tries to communicate with it by barking, which seems to have no effect, so they try to see what its limits are. They probe around and test it and it seems to be defending the roots of the tree where it came from. Peter searching his memory remembers something about Eastern wizards setting up shadow creatures called Shades to defend something and that it slowly blinds its target. With this information the pack talk about using light to effect it, but with out Romeo’s alchemy or the ability to light a torch this seems unlikely. Although they do try to work out how they might lite a lantern and use that, but the give up when they realise that without hands it will be nearly impossible to strike a flint and tinder or open the lantern.

So they leave the tree for now and go to search out the boundary of the place to do test three. It takes them around two hours to find all of the boundary and it seems to cover around two miles, so it will be quite a run to get round. Feeling thirsty they go and drink at the stream to think. They decide to spread the running and peeing, part of the reason for the drink out and make it a relay so place themselves evenly around the course, all but Ponz who will be to slow. Sinclaire is to bark to start them off, pee and then run to the next point at the same time each of the others will pee and run. As Sinclaire pees a glowing blue light appears where he is making a line a further three further markers appear at equal points around the perimeter roughly where the others are stood. It seems these markers must be peed on as the Adventurer races around the course. So Sinclaire starts to run and as soon as he begins, a spectral hound appears and races against him.   It seems he has to beat this hound around the course while marking it at the markers with his pee. However Sinclaire falls to beat it to the first marker and gets bitten making him feel more tired.

Peter says he will have a go and pees, the markers show up and as he runs so does the hound. Peter gets to the first marker first pees and carries on running, he also gets to the second marker and pees before the hound. However as he tires the hound catches him and bits him casing him to get more tired and fall to reach the third marker first. So Jules says its his turn, he pees and the race is on.

He makes it to the first marker and pees before the hound reaches him and gets to the second at the same time getting bit and feeling more tired but he did get to pee and continues the race. Again he arrives just as before the hound and gets bit as he pees at the third marker, so now he is really worn out. However he continues and runs for the start line, he gets there first and pees again. The hound disappears and a collar appears, this is obviously what they need for the box. Jules is now close to collapse due to fatigue and all our tired after a long day. So after putting the collar in the box they decide to rest for the night. They try to get food from there packs on the cart but struggle to do so, so Romeo wanders off and eats the food he threw down for the big dog earlier. When he comes back full, he opens a pack and the others eat, they then sleep with Romeo on guard.

Morning, 14th May, our pack of dogs wander around the lake shore, Peter spots some tracks while Jules sees a raft pulled up under some trees. The odd tracks Peter saw they all look at and use there knowledge to understand, the tracks around the waterline look like where something large has dragged itself out of the lake. They also find the bones of deer that wandered in to drink and were savagely fed upon. Neither the tracks nor bite marks match any known species of animal. At its narrowest point, the distance from the shore to the island is 200 yards. In their dog forms the Adventurers can certainly swim this, but will they want to with the knowledge of monsters in there.  They sit and discuss propelling the raft with sticks in there mouths or of even one of them swimming over with a line of some sort to pull the raft over and back. In the end the limits of there dog forms leave them with either trying to use the raft or swim and with no idea what they might met on the small island or what they might have to do the think they had all better go.

They decide to search the ruins to see if they can find any things to help deal with the monster of the lake or the shade of the oak. They spend nearly two hours doing this but come up with nothing of use. So they use the dear antlers and some vines around the trees and rig up and trap. They put one of the dogs they killed when they arrived onto the antlers and secure it with vines to a tree near the shore so if the lake monster comes out to eat it will be caught on the antlers and stuck for a while. They leave Ponz to watch over this and call out if he sees the creature.

Using there mouths to pull and there noses to push they get the raft to the narrow point of the lake to the island and wait to see if the creature takes the bait. They wait and then remember it has just eaten so might not be interested. So they take there branches and get on the raft and try to propel it but shaking the branch in there mouths back and forth. Although they make a lot of noise and splashing the raft doesn’t go anywhere. So they sit around it and use either there fore paws, rear paws or two side ones, depending on which side of the raft they are on and doggy paddle away. This gets them going slowly and in a slightly ragged line.

As they go they notice a swell in the water coming towards them, the dog closest to it jumps back with all legs on board while the others try to move them away from it. No use the swell disappears under the raft and nudges it, Peter falls off into the water. A tentacle swishes past him as he tries to get back onto the raft. Jules hurries over to help him and after a few tries Peter is back on the raft having seen those horrid tentacles grope for him three more time. With all back on board and the creature, for that is what they assume it was, gone they resume paddling to the island. Again they see a wake and try to avoid it, but this time Sinclaire falls in. He fails to get straight back on and a tentacle hits him and holds on. Peter dives right in and bits at the tentacle causing it to bleed, while Sinclaire slips free of its grasp.

However before he can get back on the raft it gets him again, peter bits at it again causing this tentacle to bleed also, the creature seems to have two. Sinclaire fails to get free this time and the tentacle draws him to the creature’s beak which takes a bite out of him causing Sinclaire to bleed as well. Again Peter bits at the creature this time it releases  its hold and flees trailing blood behind it. They get peter and Sinclaire back on board and as Jules and peter paddle the remaining distance to the island Romeo licks Sinclair’s wound to try to stop it bleeding. However it takes a while for this to work and by the time the raft hits the island Sinclaire is unconscious from blood loss.  Leaving him on the shore the others search the small island. This is no more than a small knoll in the centre of the placid lake. Near the centre of the island are the remains of a simple stone structure. The architecture, such as it is, resembles that of the academy.

When they search the ruins, it reveals that this site has been used within the last year: there are faint traces of a camp fire, charred bones from a cooked meal, a rusty sword and a mouldering blanket. Mylo’s Slippers are easy to find they hang suspended from a pole next to the ruin and given their bright blue colour certainly stand out. Getting them down is not so easy. The pole is 20 feet high and only three inches wide, so too narrow for a dog to climb. This test seems hard and after seeing they can not swing to it but could jump from a tree they decide to dig and soon find that the pole dos not go that far into the ground and so it topples over. With the pole on the ground they pick up the slippers and search the camp area finding a easily opened chest. In the chest they find 231d, a sling and 4 lead bullets, a fishing kit, a silver ring worth about40d, a bronze brooch inlaid with amber worth about 95d and a half used candle. Picking up the chest and slippers they head back to the raft and prepare to paddle back again.

Again they see a wave coming towards them, bracing themselves and making sure they have a paw on the slippers and the chest they await the bump. Jules falls in this time but Peter is right there and hauls him back on. They continue to paddle and although hit again get to the shore with no further problems.  They drag Sinclaire and then the box with the slippers in onto the shore and take the slippers to the big box, four tasks done one left to do the oak tree.

So leaving Sinclaire in the box room they head back to the oak tree, Jules, Peter and Romeo approach from different sides and wait. Jules approaches first and as the shade creature coalesces and hits him, causing his vision to dim as if it is getting darker.  Romeo and peter also try to approach but evade away when the shade moves towards them. Romeo thinks he has seen something so closes again and spots a cloth covered ball shape but flees away as the shade reaches for him. Jules decides that if they are to get this item he must be prepared to lose his vision and so darts in for it. He manages to bit onto the cloth and pull the item out but only after being hit three more times until his vision is just darkness and he has to move towards the barking of the others. It turns out that the cloth covers a crystal sphere the final item.

————————————————-

With Peter and Romeo barking to lead Jules they carry the sphere to the box room and put it in. The instant that they do so, an image of Olon Dorran appears: Well done! Well done! You are acolytes no more, but graduates of our esteemed academy!

Remember what you have learned here today: magic and might are not always the answer. Your wit will always be your most potent tool. Do not forget your prize from Dagda, to use wear and speak Dagda, choose carefully as you can not change it.

 Doran’s image fades and with it the spell that has transformed them, although Sinclaire is still unconscious and Jules blind they are no longer dogs. The items in the box have gone and in the box are 5 silver rings engraved with the word Daga in Gallic and a picture of – a bull; a cat; a club; a worker; a harp engraved onto them.  Jules takes the Bull, Romeo the Cat, Peter the harp, while they give Ponz the worker, which he declares a heresy and sells it to Peter for 2 franks, who now has two. Sinclaire is left the Club for when he can choose to have it or not.  With the rings taken they go back outside to see if the dogs they killed have turned human! they have not but they burry them with a proper Christian service, or as best they can do without Sinclaire.  They also give some of the coins in the old chest found on the island to Ponz while keeping the rest for the group. In the chest was 231d, a sling and 4 lead bullets, a fishing kit, a silver ring worth about40d, a bronze brooch inlaid with amber worth about 95d and a half used candle.

With that done the party decide to see what the rings do, Peter tries first and after putting the ring on and saying Dagda plays his harp. He finds that he is better than he has been before, so his ring is helping his playing ability. Romeo goes next, puts the cat ring on and says Dagda, he then try’s doing some agility based activities, takes the ring off and tries again and finds that they were easier while wearing it, the ring seems to give a more catlike grace.  Jules thinking his bull ring must help strength finds an rock he can hardly lift and the activates the ring and finds he can hold it longer for about 5 minutes. So it seems that it does increase his strength. Having done that Jules sets to help Sinclaire recover by creating a potion to aid his recovery from the loss of blood. It takes him a hour or so but they give it to Sinclaire and it knocks him out totally so giving him a undisturbed nights sleep which allows him to recover the fatigue and a little from the injury. Romeo, Jules and Peter stand guard in turn during the night and by morning Jules has full sight back, it was getting better hour by hour during the afternoon and evening anyway.

Morning of the 15th May.

Sinclaire is happily awake but still sore, he and Ponz talk about the rings over breakfast. With a nights rest and time to think they all realise that the experience of this ruin has helped there skills. Jules feels more confident in swimming and athletics,  while Peter also feels better about having to swim and with his knowledge and Latin,  Romeo also finds he is more able in athletics, first aid and understanding others. Before leaving this place they decide to take a careful look round one last time. They spend most of the morning searching around find nothing new, rethink about the pear apple tree and decide its is not natural and leave it along as magical. Peter also tries out  his worker ring and finds it helps craft skills, as he has no ability in crafts but now can whittle badly it must help a little. Jules also finds the herb garden over run as it is still has some herbs he can make use of and stocks up his chest.

They leave the area by late morning and head into the forest to find they way to Pau. Jules with his good sense of direction gets them to the edge of the forest by dusk and they camp just outside with a guard allowing Sinclaire to rest to further recover using more of Jules infusions over the next few days. Next morning comes a cool spring day with the likelihood of the odd shower. They cross farmed lands during the day and stop at a hamlet a few miles from Pau for the night rather than turn up after the gates have been shut. They seek out the local priest who puts them up with Ponz and the horses in the field.   Peter plays and entertains the locals that evening, while they collect gossip. Lucky for them a merchant from Pau is visiting family here and can bring them up to date with the news from there.

Pau in Bearn –  is the Capital of Bearn, it is a well fortified town with walls and a castle outside. the population are from the Basque region and southern French nationals. Its ruler is Gaston III/X of Foix-Béarn, also Gaston Fébus or Gaston Phoebus the 11th count of Foix, and viscount of Béarn. the area is under English control. Pau is a small town of around 2000 with a castle controlling the crossing. Pau is on the northern edge of the Pyrenees on a 600 foot elevation overlooking the valley of the Grave de Pau River. The town can also put out a militia of 100+ armed with bows and 200+ with javelins. The castle is held by a garrison of 40 Longbow and 10 MAA under Sir Adam Crispin, small groups of 5 patrols the city including the gate at night and mounted patrol the countryside. Pau Trades in Sulphur, Iron and other minerals, Pau manufactures javelin’s and spears and exports iron. The town mayor is Julien Ironheart, he does not like the English being here but can do little about it as yet. The towns most important mine is occupied by demons which Sir Adam will do nothing about as it’s not in his interest.

With this information our friends discuss options and demons, whether they will have to help deal with the demons, who might know about Bergan and such things. After a while they head to bed and sleep. The next day the 17th May is a Sunday rather than stay here and go to mass they head to Pau early and head for the abbey church there, however they do leave some coins in the churches box here first. The talk for the day at the abbey is about the lack of a Christian peace and that that has brought the devil to the area. They read this as a veiled attack on the English or any non locals trying to control this area. After the service they go to see the abbot to see if he has heard of Bergan, Peter takes the lead and persuades the clerics to allow them to see the abbot, who however has only been in the job for 6 months and so has no knowledge of Bergan and says they should ask around some of the older clergy. Recognising a Knight of Christ in Sinclaire, he says that they are an answer to pray from God, as they have been sent to help deal with the demons in the area. He will give them a letter of introduction to the mayor and permission to talk to the clergy.

With this help they prepare to search for more information, while talking about how they might deal with the problem of the mine, ideas run from flooding it to gassing it. Jules thinks flooding would take months of work and close the mine anyway, and that gas might not effect the demons or go far enough into the mine to clear it. After all if they could the locals would have closed it down, but they obviously want to be able to reuse it.  Romeo and Peter go off to talk to the priests, using cash and influence to get them to talk about a brother.  Meanwhile Jules and Sinclaire hit the streets trying to find out about Bergan also spending cash buying drinks and such.

After three days Romeo and Peter come up with an answer. Bergen was here and moved on to the small town of Arette, south of Pau, in the Pyrenees around a year ago, the priest did not like him much there was something odd about him.

May 21st, our band head out to the mines to talk to the miners to find out what is going on. Mines – this old set of tunnels is in a nearby gorge, the mine still has iron and other deposits in it and is worked by miners under the control of the miner’s guild of Pau. A few weeks ago some creatures appeared and after killing a couple of miners the others fled. A guild led group tried to clear them out but by then there were more of them and the attempt to clear them out failed with 3 dead and 5 wounded.  Miners – these heredity miners are short [4-5′], squat, dirty and gruff. They are good with Pick and hammer. They are always looking for gold and gems to keep for themselves while mining for others. These live by the main mine in caves with there families around 20 men, 20 women and 30 children. There are many small workings and the one main one here. The miners are cautious used to not being liked by others, due to there small squat appearance, caused by generations of working & living in small spaces, they are called deformed and dwarfs shunned by most Christian people. They are only accepted thanks to the minerals they mine. There cave homes are small with two or more coming off the same entrance, they have little home comforts other than some pallets to lie on and a fire with pots on. One of the children say that the demons came from a hole which appeared in the floor, however his father said it was just a cave in.

The main mine has a wide 30yd across entrance, with a small steam coming from it, leading into a cavern 60 x 80 yd across and 15’ high, and has two tunnels leading off it. These tunnels are 5′ high and 5′ -10′ wide with water running alone the bottom and dripping from the wooden props. The mine changes levels at the various caverns and there are steps leading up to the new tunnels. The caverns are up to 20′ high and tend to have at least 1′ of standing water in them, some have more and are up to 3′ deep in water. There are some area’s where the roof has fallen in.  Cavern with hole, there are 4 tunnels coming off this cavern all leading up from it.

One tunnel up narrowing to 2’ and leads up to a natural air vent on the hill top. A new working,   40’ long and  a collapsed working   60’ long  which linked to a secondary mine.

With this info they decide to see what the air vent looks like, whether they can access the caves that way or not. Jules find tracks of multiple small and one larger creatures not human or animal. Even though it is late in the day they decide to follow these tracks, these lead over the hills to a craggy wooded area, which they decide not to enter as it is late. Next morning they return and enter the woods, with Jules leading as the tracker followed by Peter, Sinclaire and Romeo. After following the tracks for a while Jules sees movement in the trees.

He quickly warns the others and peter tries to spot what it is but fails. Then a swarm of sling shot as well as an arrow come at the group. Romeo evades the missiles, Peter is hit in the right arm, while Jules and Sinclaire are hit but they suffer no damage from the stones. Romeo moves to join Jules at the front, who hides and activates his ring, Meanwhile Sinclaire heads for the bow using creature, before it can do to much damage. Peter then moves behind a tree holding his arm which is stunned. Now they can see that the stones are coming from a bunch of small demons hanging from the trees by there feet.

Peter shouts in Latin for a parley, while continuing to hide. Another swarm of missiles come in, Only Sinclaire is in the open, and he is hit on his shield by a stone, while the arrow thuds into a tree by Romeo. Romeo and Sinclaire move up to the archer ready to attack. Romeo and Sinclaire both attack the archer, with Ronmeo causing a bleeding wound with his falchion, while Sinclaire impales him on his sword.

The other demons throw there slung rocks at Romeo and Sinclaire, but due to bad luck hit the big demon finishing him off [hero point use]. With the boss down, the smaller demons start to scamper up into the trees to avoid being attacked. However, Peter using his bow shoots at them and as they fall the others finish them off. After a while they have all been dealt with and they collect the bodies and take them to the miners to check that these are the same critters.

————————————————–

With confirmation that these are the demons, all with green grey skin and pointed ears and mouths of sharp teeth. The Small ones are abut 4′ tall, while the archer was around 5′ tall. Our heroes head back to the wood to find out what they were doing there. Sinclaire remembers about the Templar’s having a secret society fighting demons and other evil, but that the organisation went down with the Templar’s when they were suppressed for heresy. From the reading he had done while training,  he recalls a little about demons, and these creatures seem to come under the title of Goblyn’s which come in various sizes. With Peter injured from the skirmish they decide to wait 2 days while Jules helps his recovery and the others collect some items to help them fighting any demons they might find.

Sinclaire remembering the ring asks at the abbey and his companions about Dagda and finds out this.  Dagda is the Irish-Celtic god of the earth and treaties, and ruler over life and death. Dagda, or The Dagda, (“the good god”) is one of the most prominent gods and the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He is a master of magic, a fearsome warrior and a skilled artisan. Dagda is a son of the goddess Danu, and father of the goddess Brigid and the god Aengus mac Oc. The Morrigan is his wife, with whom he mates on New Years Day. The Dagda is portrayed as possessing both super- human strength and appetite. His attributes are a cauldron with an inexhaustible supply of food, a magical harp with which he summons the seasons, and an enormous club, with one end of which he could kill nine men, but with the other restore them to life. He also possessed two marvellous swine—one always roasting, the other always growing—and ever-laden fruit trees. With this information Sinclaire decides that using the ring of an evil being would be wrong but keeps it to take to the bishop of St Flour. Peter and Jules both decide that any item that can do good cannot be demonic and Dagda seems to be a creator rather than a destroyer and so keep the rings they have.

Sinclaire gets a vial of holy water from the church and asks about its use. The priest says, it can be put on weapons, or pieces of armour or as a block. It blesses the item or area against evil, the effect will depend upon the faith of the user. He also says that they must make sure it is not used for the wrong purposes as evil workers like to misuse it. Peter buys some broad head arrows as that is all the city has as it mainly makes javelins and buys in bolts. Jules spends two days collecting herbs and then making four healing potions, due to his limited skill only two are usable. Romeo meanwhile visits the stews and chats up girls while thinking about the business opportunities of the mine, which might open up if they help to clear it.

23rd May

What’s in the wood?

Getting up early before dawn, Jules and Peter work together to coat all their amour pieces with the holy water while reciting the rosary, this takes them a few hours at half hour per piece, while Sinclaire does his own which takes him 3 1/2 hours. With that done they head back to the wood and Jules picks up the tracks after a while and leads them into the dim forest. The forest is as dark as sunset, even though it is midmorning and they soon notice no animal life at all.  With Jules leading Peter  and Sinclaire following and Romeo brings up the rear.

After around twenty minutes into the wood a stone hits Romeo, Jules and Peter doing no harm. They are under attack.

The Demons release another three stones from their slings Romeo fails to evade although he sees it coming, and Jules and Peter are also hit with the stones doing no harm to them. Peter hides, Romeo moves towards where the stone came from but can not see the shooter, Jules and Sinclaire both try to spot while moving to cover. Jules sees the three Goblyns hanging from the low branches of trees by there legs and using the sling upside down. Then Peter nocks an arrow and breaks cover, while Romeo tries to spot with the help of Jules but fails again. Jules prepares his target shield while Sinclaire spots and moves off to the right towards one of the creatures.  Peter having spotted losses hius arrow which hits and rips into the demon, broadhead arrows are good against natural skin. Sinclaire charges at the demon he was heading for and smashes it from the tree.The last demon flees into the tree tops and diapears.

Ten minutes later they are again hit by stones all three missing, but the creatures flee as soon as they shoot, leaving nothing for the group to fight back against.

Deciding they need to prepare for this to happen again they change the order they are moving in. Peter moves to the right about 20 yards away and slightly ahead While Jules has Sinclaire on his left and Romeo bring up the rear. Before long Sinclaire has two stones hit him and Jules one again for no effect. Peter sees the four demons and hits one with an arrow, Jules  and Sinclaire spot them and move to attack but miss. They then see the little critters disappear into the trees again.

Again the heroes change there deployment putting Peter on the left side,  after a while he hears and spots four demons coming towards him, when they are an easy target about 30 yards away he losses an arrow and kills one and as they flee he gets another.

After over an hour of harassing by the small goblyns, they reach the edge of a clearing in the woods. In the centre of the woods is a gorge surrounded by craggy sides, in which there are caves. In the valley is a round stone circle [very old] with a small wooden hut near by about 60 yards away. This gorge is in a unnatural darkness a bit like sunset. Jules spots the stone circle with an figure stooped over them, he can hear a odd chanting in a feminine voice, he can also see 4 small goblyns and 1 big one at the stones protecting the woman. They discuss what they can do as there are obviously more demons in the caves. Romeo hides while Sinclaire starts to pray for divine help to dispel the gloom and remove the evil magic. Peter and Jules both say they will help but find that there faith has gone, lost when they used the rings of Dagda, so Sinclaire spends an hour on his own.

Success the darkness breaks up and the sun shines through, with the gloom gone the Goblyns head for the caves leaving just the three woman to deal with, two more have appeared and with them more goblyns but they have all fled. Peter shoots at one and she evades the arrow. Battle is joined what will happen?

The first thing to move is a snake they had not seen 32 yards away from them, it is a very disturbing sight covered in body parts from sacrifices, Romeo falls to control his response and is helpless with the horror of it. The snake demon is long around 20′ and with a thick body about 4′ across. The snake rapidly moves towards them closing the distance to 16 yards. Peter loads at losses another arrow at the woman and she evades again. Romeo and Jules both invoke there rings, while Romeo aims his Crossbow, and Jules starts hitting Sinclaire to snap him out of his terror. Romeo after 2 two actions aiming loses at the snake hitting it and impaling the bolt into its horrible body.

The snake moves again closing to within 8 yards, while Peter releases another arrow at the woman this time hitting her and she drops to the ground. Sinclaire recovers from the sight of the snake, and Romeo swaps his weapons to have his two swords in hand and Jules moves off to the right. The snake now in range spits venom at Romeo who evades so that the venom hits a tree. Meanwhile the two witches not being shot  at had been casting evil magic, Jules is hit by a smother effect which stops him being able to breath and damages his lungs, while Sinclaire is hit by a wrack effect which does damage to his head knocking him unconscious.   Peter swaps his bow for his halberd and the three women hide and Jules takes one of his healing potions to recover the damage to his chest. The snake spits at Romeo again who evades again, Peter has an heroic insight and decides that the witches need to be killed before his team mates die so starts running for the stones.  The snake spits again at Romeo who heroically evades again.

The snake spits at Romeo again and this time hits as Romeo fails his evade, lucky for him though his constitution is strong enough to shake off the effects. Peter start s a charge on the witches, Romeo runs back into the trees to avoid the spitting and Jules charges the snake with his halberd but the snake wiggles out of the way.  The snake turns to face Jules, while peter rams his halberd into a witch impaling her. Romeo charges from the wood but falls over the undergrowth, while Jules swings again at the snake which moves its coils out of the way.  Jules finishes the round with a heroic attack but misses.

The snake bits at Jules, who misses his parry with his halberd and suffers a bleeding wound from the bit but again the venom has no effect. Peter moves and spots to find the other witches while drawing his dagger. Romeo picks himself up and moves towards the snake while Jules attacks again but the snake avoids it.  The snake suffering tries to disengage to help the witches, Jules hits it as it tries to and stuns it.  Peter stabs at another witch but misses Romeo moves towards the snake again. With the snake stunned Peter finishes off the witches while Romeo kills the snake. With the witches dealt with the snake and all the evil dissipates. The Goblyns all disappear and the effects on Jules and Sinclaire go.  They have survived and dealt evil a blow.

Is there anything else left for them to deal with, what is in the hut?

find out next time.

————————————————

Our heroes go to cut the head of the snake off, but stop when Romeo says he wants the venom, so wants to remove the glands. They look at the monster snake and decide it is an unnatural version of a normal venom snake of the area, obviously distorted and grown by black arts using human sacrifice.  Peter takes this time to give his worker ring to Sinclaire to deal with along with his own. They move over to the hut and Peter looks around the outside, which looks normal a wooden hut with a simple door, and smoke coming up through its thatch. Sinclaire prays about the hut to see if it has evil magic around it, he is uneasy but dos not feel it is evil itself. Jules uses his halberd point to knock a small hole in the wall to let light in, but smoke comes out. Peter opens the door, which swings outwards, with Sinclaire covering him. he holds his breath as he does so and then steps back.

He goes in, and looks from the doorway, it has a fire in the middle with a cauldron hanging over it,  3 sleeping mats and some shelves with food, animal parts and assorted herbs on or hanging from them and the roof. He then steps in to look around and then poke around looking for any hidden things. The cauldron has something bubbling in it, there is also a bible near the fire which Peter picks up. As he pokes around in the roof thatch he hears a buzzing sound and bees come out flying towards him. He runs and shuts the door behind,  but the bees come out past and through the gaps in the door way. Sinclaire and Jules follow him running a way from the bees while Romeo stands very still.

While they wait for the bees to resettle they decide to burry the witches, but Jules shouts stop they must be burnt. So they decide to go and chop some wood in the forest, Romeo says there must be an axe around here rather than ruin the halberds and finds a wood pile and hand axe. With these logs they build a pyre. Romeo chops the witches heads off and they tie the bodies and heads to the top of the pyre and set it alight. Soon there is the smell of burning flesh in the area.

With the fire going Peter heads back into the hut empties the cauldron on the hut fire to put it out and brings it and the bible out with him. He also chucks all the food and herbs onto the pyre, nothing tainted by evil will be left. Romeo takes the cauldron and milks the snakes venom into it, he gets a few drops which mixes with the burnt on residue in the pot. He hopes this will give him enough for some poison for his swords.  They then cut the head of the snake off hook out its brains etc and put the skull into the pot for Romeo to carry. Jules now sells his bull ring to Romeo for 3Lt so that he can start to de-taint himself of the touch of sin.

So back to Pau and off to see the Abbot. They show him the head and a goblyn, explain about the recon to the forest and what they found. They say that they will need help if they are to clear the mine as the creatures can see in the dark and use slings and bows. Romeo says he wants 16 bow to help, the abbot says the locals militia are not that good, or they would have already cleared it. Romeo wonders about using the English, but the abbot says that is unlikely.  After a busy day the head to bed in the abbey, and decide to rest for the next few days to allow Sinclaire and Peter to recover from there injures. The abbey medic supplies them with an infusion to help them recover.

Next day Romeo takes the snake head and goes to talk to Julian Ironheart the mayor of Pua. They talk about the mine, Romeo wanting to know what its value is and how much the city will pay to clear it, the mayor repeating that the council will reward those who do it but refuses to be tied down to an amount. As he suspects that if the town pays up front for the job that they will end up conned. So eventually Romeo gives up and leaves, knowing that he will have to trust the town rather than know what his reward might be.

Jules meanwhile heads to speak to Sir Adam Crispin the English commander, after consulting his military scrolls and his own knowledge. He wants to borrow or hire some of his men At Arms to help clear the mine as he thinks that the best way is a bunch of heavy armoured men going in.   He again explains the situation which Sir Adam is aware of, but has had no inculcation to do anything about, particularly as the locals dislike them so much. Jules manages to persuade Sir Adam to use some of his archers to seal the entrance and six MAA to help the group if the abbot stops preaching against them.

Jules goes back to the others and tells them what he has managed to arrange, Sinclaire and him go to speak to the abbot. They manage to get the abbot to agree and so they now have an agreement, between the most unlikely parties. Sinclaire and Jules go and talk to Sir Adam who will seal the mine with archers and they come up with using 3 MAA to guard 2 more archers to help clear inside, giving the group much needed missile support.

Its the 25th of May and Sinclaire wants all the troops to practice in the dark together, Sir Adam says they can use the hall at night for this and so for a few hours each of the next three night the archers, MAA and heroes practice working together in the dark. During the day, Jules makes up 18 healing potions for those coming wounds, so that there are two each. Romeo using the abbeys herbary when Jules and the monk aren’t creates a speaicl liquid for a lantern which will last an hour and illuminate a 40 yard area. This takes him around five hours and what with the other things he is doing leaves him quite tired.  Peter looks after the horses and improves his riding skill among other things, while Sinclaire spends time in prayer to gain access to the Knights of Christ ability to improve his damage and skill with a weapon for short times, by calling on the order in prayer.

So with everything ready on the 29th of May they head to the mine picking up the English on the way and a miner guide once there. With Sinclaire in the lead followed by Peter, then Romeo a MAA a Archer, a MAA a Archer a MAA and Jules and the miner at the rear.  With only 5′ clearance and mostly only space for one at a time this snake 20 yard long enters the mine.

The main mine has a wide 30yd across entrance, with a small steam coming from it, leading into a cavern  60 x 80 yd across and 15’ high. This area is illuminated from the entrance way and has damp walls and the drip drip of water falling, the walls and floor are generally smooth and man made, it also has piles of ore in it, and has two tunnels leading off it. These tunnels are 5′ high and 5′ -10′ wide with water running alone the bottom and dripping from the wooden props. The mine changes levels at the various caverns and there are steps leading up to the new tunnels. The caverns are up to 20′ high and tend to have at least 1′ of standing water in them, some have more and are up to 3′ deep in water. There are some area’s where the roof has fallen in.

They head on in carrying torches so that they can see there way, they follow the miners directions and take the north passage which will allow them to avoid all the caves except the one before where the hole is. When they get to a junction Peter checks out the passage and then a cavern, just listening as he can not see much with out a light which would give him away. He hears strange chattering in the cavern but they decide to ignore it and go on down the tunnel. They carry on through the tight tunnel stooping and squeezing a lot of the time. Eventually they reach the cavern the miner says will be in water and is the last one before the cavern with the hole in it. Again Peter scouts forward and hears the strange sounds, he can see steps down into a blackness which he knows is water. All he can see is darkness although he knows it has 4 tunnels entering it these all go down hill into it or uphill out of it. He knows there are creatures here but he can not see them, Romeo’s light had better work.

—————————————

Peter moves back to the rest of the group and tells them the little he knows, Romeo lights up his lantern with his alchemal  liquid in it. This comes on and creates light in a large area around him, no shadows just illumination in the whole area. With Romeo carrying the lantern in his left hand Peter moves onto and down the steps into the cave, he can see, from the lanterns illumination, that this 20′ high 40 x 30 cavern has 4 tunnels entering it these all go down hill into it or uphill out of it. The one straight ahead should lead, according to the miner to the portal cavern. This cavern has 2’ of water in it as well as a group of demons, who appear to be expecting them, maybe they heard the group coming. There are then small goblyn’s on the far walls and a big one standing with a bow in the passageway to the portal cavern. Peter steps down into the water and the demons unleash sling stones and an arrow at him.

Peter uses his nimbleness to evade all the missiles, Sinclaire follows Peter onto the stairs, followed by Romeo with the lantern held high. The ten small demons release there stones at Sinclaire 5 hit but do no damage while an arrow hits him in the right arm bruising it.

Peter now ready to use his bow looses an arrow at the big bow welding goblyn and hits it and impales the arrow. The small goblyn’s can be seen reloading there slings and the big one his bow. Sinclaire steps over to cover peter as much as he can with his shield. and Romeo follows him to stand behind him. The first man at arms reaches the water while the first longbow man is half way down the steps. Peter nocks an arrow and draws his bow ready to loose again, while the goblyn’s let loose a hail of stones at Sinclaire again with one stone causing him some injury. Peter again looses his arrow at the big demon and impales again, which causes it to turn and run down the passage behind it.

Peter prepares his bow again, the small demons start to split there fire now, Peter evades the ones loosed at him, while Romeo takes a hit damaging hit on his left arm and Sinclaire on his right arm again, this causes hit a lot of pain and he sheathes his sword and turns side on to the demons, and tries to find one of the healing liquids Jules had given him.  Peter helps Sinclaire get to his potion out of his bag. The demons loose again hitting a MAA, while Sinclaire drinks the potion.

Peter nocks a broad head arrow which will have more effect on the demons, who are also reloading there slings. Sinclaire calls out ‘I am hit need help’ Romeo continues to stand behind Sinclaire while another MAA move up to stand by the one already by Sinclaire and the archer behind looses his arrow but misses. Peter looses his broad headed arrow at one of the small demons and kills it. the nine remaining demons reply hitting both MAA as well as Romeo and Jules.  Jules has now reached the floor of the cave and starts to look in his pack for his potions to help the wounded Sinclaire. Peter prepares another arrow, while the others wait.

Peter looses his arrow and kills another goblyn, now there are eight left. These eight realise stones again hitting Romeo twice, drawn by the lantern, stunning his arm causing him to drop said lantern. The other stones hit MAA’s. Sinclaire sees the lantern fall and grabs it as it goes into the water, the water has no effect on the light as its not a flame. The two longbows loose and kill two more of the demons, while Jules puts a potion to Romeo’s lips for him to drink.  Peter nocks another arrow, while the remaining demons also load. Sinclaire holds up the lantern and the longbows prepare another arrow. Peter looses again, another kill. The five demons also loose, Peter evades the one shot at him, and the MAA parry the others.

Peter prepares to loose again, as do the five demons while the longbow men do the same. Peter looses again and down goes another goblyn, the four remaining demons release and Peter evades so well he manages to get a shot off and kill his attacker.  The other stones the MAA parry, while Sinclaire takes another potion, then the longbows loose again killing two more goblyn’s.

Peter prepares another arrow, while the remaining demon misses him with its stone.  Peter looses and thats the end of them. Peter has taken 6 goblyn’s down and driven off the big one.

With the fight over Jules uses his Herb potions of healing to restore as well as he can the wounds of the group. The group then talks over how they will approach the main cavern which will no doubt be waiting for them. They decide on getting the missile users up front as far as possible and then support them with the fighters. So the move up the passageway with Sinclaire and Peter at the front, not side by side but staggered. Followed by Jules with the lantern and one of the longbow,  then a MAA and an longbow, MAA and Romeo and MAA and miner at the rear.

Thirty yards in the passage opens into the Portal cavern, this 30 x 30 20′ high cavern has a glowing hole in the middle of it. This hole has a ragged edge from where it collapsed. The glow gives enough light to count as dusk. There are 4 tunnels coming off this cavern all leading up from it, A- tunnel up although this starts 5’ wide after 20’ it narrows to 2’ and leads up to a natural air vent on the hill top, which they have already found.  B – a new working,   40’ long. C – a collapsed working   60’ long  can be accessed from a secondary mine  according to the miner.  Around the portal are 2 big demons reaching down to aid others up, watching them is one large, 8′ plus, demon with a flaming glaive in his left and a flaming javelin in his right, Peter can also see two big demons either side of the entrance and 4 small ones on the far wall.

As Sinclaire comes towards the cavern the large demon draws back its right arm and throws its fiery javelin, it misses. Peter looses an arrow at the large Goblyn but it just bounces off it. Sinclaire Charges towards the large demon parrying the hit by the one of the two Goblyn’s by the entrance.   Jules having waited for Sinclaire  to clear the way charges after him. The small demons throw there stones, hitting and stunning Jules’s arm, while one hit itself ding in the process. The two big demons by the entrance attack Jules but he manages to evade them both, while the large one charges at Sinclaire missing him. Peter evades past all the demons in his path and gets to a clear area while Sinclaire swings at the large demon but his blow is parried. The MAA and archers enter the area and Romeo takes two of the MAA to deal with the two demons near them.

The small demons throw there stones again, two at the forward MAA causing him a wound, while the other misses Romeo who dodges out of the way. The large demon swings his glaive at Sinclaire who parries with his shield. The two big demons by the hole engage the MAA near them while the other two take on Romeo and the two MAA with him. Sinclaire strikes back at the large demon who parries with his pole arm, while Jules sticks his halberd into the same demon impaling it, he then pulls it out again doing massive damage its left arm.  The large demon hits Jules in the head with his flaming glaive. Jules being hard as nails brushes the damage off and continues on, any other man would have been felled. Sinclaire hits at the demon but is parried again.  Peter looses and kills one of the small demons.

The large demon swings at Jules again and misses just as well as Jules misses his parry as well. Sinclaire hits with the point of his sword and impaled its left arm again, as he tries to withdraw it the demon falls to the ground with its arm hanging limp, obviously ruined.  Peter finishes off the two remaining small demons while the others drop the rest.

Area cleared Peter checks out the area but there is nothing here except the bodies and the glowing hole. They wonder how they are going to shut the portal. Jules starts to do first aid on the injured again, while Peter remembers the witches bible he looks at it again. It has pages missing and writing, in Basque, on others. The writing explains what they were doing, using the stones power to call forth demons from the mines they have been tasked with this to cause havoc to Gods people. Channelling the power of chaos and hatred to bring demons to the surface via the mine. The hatred and war in the area is supplying the evil force for this and Satan intends to take advantage of the disruption war is causing to further his aims. There are also instructions for opening/shutting a portal, place a holy item and then prayer and chant directing energy to the place you want a portal opened or closed. Where it goes will depend on many things and you might have to try a few times to get what you want.  Lucky for us this portal was already open and all we had to do was redirect its birthing. Its a shame the biggest ones can not come up the vent still we will get to them later. There are also details on summoning demons.

Sinclaire decides that they have to close this demon hole, but the only holy item they have is his sword, so they place it over the portal and  start to chant, all the others join in and they pray and chant to God for an hour. As they do the glow from the hole shimmers and changes then it fades as the roof cracks and rocks tumble down into the hole then the ground seals up the hole as if it had never been there. With the portal shut Peter burns the bible and they prepare to leave the cavern. It should be easy for the locals to deal with the remaining demons and they need to get back to Pau and on there way.

——————————————————————-

After mine clearing 1366 May 29th

Our band heads back to Pau, where they are put up in the Dominican Abbey, Abbot Justin asks them to stay a week in the abbey until a Mass of thanks in praise of the removal of the demons can be done. He says that they will gain there reward as part of this service on the 2nd June [St Erasmus day] and can also use the opportunity to  regain or improve there faith [by d4+2, Sinclaire can also have one improvement of his faith]. Peter and Romeo stay in the infirmary receiving care to there wounds, while Jules spends time in the library researching St Goar and his finger. He finds a set of books on saints, which has the following information. Goar was born in 585 to a noble family in Aquitaine, and was noted for his piety even in his youth. When he was finally ordained a priest, he became famous for his forceful preaching. However, Goar wanted to serve God more discreetly, and so traveled abroad to Trier, in the Holy Roman Empire, in 618 to become a hermit near the town of Oberwesel. Despite his intention to live in solitude and obscurity, his renown for holiness spread all over the country. Travellers seeking advice frequently visited Goar. On one occasion, Goar was accused of sorcery by Rusticus, the bishop of Trier, himself.  Sigebert, the king of Austrasia, in Metz, cleared him and then   Rusticus was deposed for his dishonesty, and Goar was then offered the see of Trier. There were also other stories but in any case, it is certain that Goar did not want to saddle himself with the responsibilities and pressures of a bishopric, and asked for time to reflect on the decision. Upon returning to Oberwesel, however, he fell ill and died on 6 July 649, having never become bishop.

St Goar  Feast day is the 6th July. He is special to Innkeepers, Potters, Vine growers, being able to Bless craft pottery and wine making, Inspire adding, and Understanding.  Attributes or depictions are of a Hermit being given milk by three hinds [Red Deer]; holding a pitcher; with the devil on his shoulder or under his feet; holding the church of Saint Goar am Rhein; hanging his hat on a sunbeam     Patron to Innkeepers, potters, and vine growers. Goar was frequently visited by travellers seeking advice, also falsely accused of sorcery.  His Finger is reported to be miraculous aiding those with questions, Lore, aiding Crafts, dismissing eveil magic, helping to find a hind, and improves preaching.

Second June St Erasmus day

The big service happens today, our heroes smarten themselves up as best they can and enter the abbey in procession with the Abbot, the Mayor and Sir Crispin preceded by the monks singing. The full mass is a long service with loads of singing and chanting by the monks, and scripture and liturgy in Latin. When they get to the confession the people are given the chance to repent and Peter and Jules take this time to hand over the rings of Dagda to the abbot as well as make a donation. [this allows them to re-find there faith] Sinclaire is praised for his sacrifice, giving his sword, and blessed by the abbot [increasing his faith].  The homily is about the dangers of evil and that all Christians must work together to fight it. Thanks to the English under Sir Crispin for helping deal with this evil. After mass the four are called forward and presented to the church and given there Reward by Mayor Julien. This is a bag with 1,200 silver coins in it each, which is more than 2 months wage, also an engraved enhanced Lance for and a new basic long sword for Sinclaire also 3 enhanced Heavy Short Spears for the others as well as food and directions for onward journey.

They intend to head out on the 5th of June and so have a few days left in town. Peter and Jules work with locals and adapt there fighting styles to use there new spears as well as there normal weapons. They also practice the skills they have been using and start to get better in them; Jules has managed to improve his agility and is now faster in combat than he has been in years. Romeo practices with a crossbow, and uses the library to improve his alchemy.   He also spends a whole 24 hours turning the snake venom into three uses of weapon poison. Between this, he uses his fame to lift girl’s skirts, flirting and such as he feels he needs.

5th June St Boniface day, leave Pau heading to Arette, via Gan, Lasseube, Oloron and Feas. Each is around 3/4 of a day journey through the deep valleys with the rocky peaks over you. The passes are up to 30′ wide often with a stream running along them fed from the slopes. There is little vegetation but lots of rocks and skree, there are trees on the upper slopes. These are Cathars area’s although now under catholic control. The people are rugged mountaineers who use heavy javelins in combat. They are related to the Catalans and Aragonise of Iberia, although now part of the French kingdom. These area’s are normally under English control [Black Prince] but are quite independent as it’s hard to control the mountains.  Locals speak Aragonese [romance] and Basque; nobles add Southern French and Latin to that, Clerics add Latin, Merchants add French and Latin.

They reach Gan a small village with a Inn for pilgrims under ALEXANDRE and his wife MARIONA late afternoon, the cost per night is 5d per person and animal..  Therefore, they have to pay for Ponz and themselves as well as 5 horses 1/2 a Frank for a nights stay. They leave after a good breakfast next morning and head towards Lasseube it is St Willibald day.

As they pass through a pass between Gan and Lasseube a volley of Javelins hit them, one hits Romeo but it is stopped by his armour. Another hits Peter in his chest impaling him and another hits and lightly injures Jules. Ponz is also hit by two of the heavy javelins, which kill him. Jules dismounts while Romeo tries to use his cart to protect himself. With difficulty they understand the shouts coming from the hill above, ‘Toll’ Sinclaire tries to negotiate with them but ends up paying 240 slivers per person and 480 for the animals so 7Lt in total. Romeo thinks he was done. The Deacon with the bandits uses his skill to remove the javelins from Peter and Jules and close the wounds.  They realise that he is properly a Cathar and has used magic to help in his ministrations. With the pass passed they continue on the reach Lasseube, a Cistercian Abbey town on the river crossing. The town is controlled by the monks of the abbey, who will supply accommodation to all for a small fee [5d a day] as well as healing for 12d a day. The Abbot in charge is Frances a old white haired man, very pious but also very strict on proper behaviour, no heathens in the abbey. He uses his insight into people to decide who can enter and receive aid. Also known as White Monks, in reference to the colour of the habit, over which a black scapular is worn. [The original emphasis of Cistercian life was on manual labour and self-sufficiency, and this abbey like many supports themselves through activities such as agriculture and brewing ales]. Over the past centuries, however, education and academic pursuits came to dominate the life of this monastery. Peter receives healing for his chest wound while they arrange for poor Ponz to be buried and they give 3Lt for prayers for him.  They talk and spend the night with some merchants and mercenaries on there way to Oloron. The soldiers are looking to join Pedro in defence of his rights to Castile. They all leave in the morning together.

Oloron This town stands on one of the ancient routes of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, so it is a well-known stopping place, a cathedral is in the centre of the town, with its carved stone entrance, which is of high quality, holds a shrine to St Croix. Its Population is around 500, the locals hunt deer and various other animals in the hills and woods. Mayor FELIU looks after the town and Cannon MANEL the minster, Sister NEUS  looks after the hospitality and infirmary. She will supply accommodation to all for a small fee [5d a day] as well as healing for 12d a day. They spend the night here with Romeo flirting with the nuns. They move on in the morning the 9th of June and reach Feas which a small village in a wide valley with a river running through a wooded gorge. It has a Population of less than 50 but there is a small inn for the traveller under XAVIER the cost is 12d a night per person and animal. Romeo thinks this is extreme but the others point out he would charge extra if he had the only inn around as well. The locals hunt and fish as well as a little farming to make ends meet. They leave in the morning and head out for Arette wondering if at last they will find Bergan.

Moving deeper into the mountains, the group keeps a lookout for more bandits, but this area seems safe at least today. The road snakes and wiggles around the peaks following rivers some of the time. There is still snow on the highest peaks, although it is a warm June day. The road continues to climb wending its way through the hilly landscape, this land is cultivated, organised into large farmsteads. The sky is filled with dark angry clouds and after a few droplets, the rain begins in earnest. The road takes them past suspicious farmers, goats, cattle, and no shortage of sheep, and after a few hours of travel, they come closer to civilization.  Soon they pass a fingerpost in the road, and then a wagon filled with turnips bound for the town ahead, and when they round a hill, they see ahead a large mansion sitting on a hill, overlooking the lands that rise up to the mountains ahead, through the gaps in the sheets of rain. Then through the sound of the falling rain, they hear a shout, an oath cried out to God from the nearby woods. A moment later, they hear the scream of a horse. Peter and Jules dismount and follow Sinclaire as he pushes his horse forward looking for the source of the noise. Romeo elects to stay with the cart and horses.

Sinclaire followed by Peter and Jules follow the sounds of fighting into the trees, after about 50 yards they can see through the rain and trees. Ahead, about another twenty-four or so yards away, is an armoured figure fighting from the back of a horse. Surrounding him are four malformed creatures, whose pale flesh hangs in such a way as to seem like tar dripping from there frames. They have blank rolling eyes, and there maws issue huffing noises, as they thrust spears at the horse and rider. As they come into sight of the scene they see the creatures stab at the rider.

Peter stops and starts to string his bow, the rider can be seen using a dagger, rather then his sword against the creatures. Jules moves to stand by Sinclaire, who puts spurs to horse and charges forward lowering his brand new lance.  The monsters stab repeatedly at the rider, who attacks back with his dagger. Jules follows Sinclaire on foot moving slowly to avoid tripping on the roots and undergrowth. Sinclaire drives his lance into a blob and lets go of it. Peter looses an arrow and hits one but his arrow has no obvious effect, Jules continues to close and Sinclaire turns his horse and draws his sword.

The Creatures continue to attack ignoring the rescuers, now they are closer they can be seen better. They appear as nothing more than a lump of man-sized blobs of molten stinking flesh, that oozes across the ground as it moves. They stand about 5 feet tall and weigh about 100 pounds. Peter reloads while Jules continues to move towards them. The rider as he defends himself calls out that sliver seems to work against them whereas iron does not have much effect. Sinclaire walks his horse back and swings his sword, which although he hits has no effect.  Peter looses another arrow, which again has no effect; Sinclaire dismounts not trusting his ridding horse in this situation. Peter drops his bow and picks up his new spear, and Sinclaire walks and hits with his sword, this time getting a mighty swing and cutting deep into the creature.

The creatures continue to stab at the rider, while he fights back with his sliver dagger. Peter knowing he is sure footed charges the 24yards towards the blobs. Jules manages to get into range and swings his mighty halberd cutting into another monster. Sinclaire swings again but misses this time. With the rider having finished off both of the injured creatures there are two left, Peter finishes his charge into one of them ramming his spear into it. Jules and Sinclaire both hit the other one, Jules impaling his halberd into it. Both Peter and Jules fail to pull there weapons out but Sinclaire and the rider finish them off.

The knight removes his helmet, revealing a mane of long black hair and young features covered with the start of a beard. His green eyes seem kind and a broad grin splits his face. “Many thanks, friends. That battle was close indeed.” He has been hurt in his Left arm; his Chest and his Right leg, all minor wounds but it could have been worse.  He is asked who he is and the group introduce themselves. He is Helmut Staufen fourth son of Lord Staufen, come to spend some time with my family for my 18th birthday before heading north to fight heathens, in Prussia. At this point, they see past the mud and rain coating his shield to see his arms; he is a knight of Christ as well. Sinclaire is glad that they came to his help. They find out that his family rule this area and that he was sent away over a year ago to train with the knights of Christ. Neither he nor they know what the creatures were other than demons of some sort. Helmut says that while heading home he heard a woman scream. I left the road to see what the matter was and to save the woman in trouble, but when I entered the woods, these foul creatures’ ambushed me. At one point I did see another rider, clad in a black hooded cloak and mounted on a black horse deeper in the woods. I called out, but he turned and rode north.

Helmut invites them up to the manor to stay overnight, he was sure they will be a party for him as its his birthday and then they can go on there journey. They explain that this is where they are going looking for a priest Bergan, does he know of him. Helmut says he was the priest who had arrived a few weeks before he left and has no idea if he is still here but his family will. Peter and Jules want to see if they can track the rider and manage to find and follow the tracks as they northwest into the trees, then after 200 yards or so turn sharply south before breaking from the trees. At this point, they lose the tracks.

With nothing more to do and getting wetter and wetter, they follow Helmut to the manor, talking as they go.

————————————————

 They find out a little about the Staufen family that Helmut is the youngest son and was sent to Portugal to train as a Knight of Christ instead of his older brother over a year ago.  He is 18 tomorrow and that is why he has come home to see his family before heading north to fight heathens. Bergan arrived not long before he left and so he doesn’t know if he is still around or not, as he has not heard from the family since he went away, until he got a message from his older brother asking him to come home for his birthday. Through the pines, they see a massive mansion house, more castle than mansion, rising from the hills peak. The bulk of the grounds consists of a fortified courtyard, but the most dramatic feature is the attached three story house.  Rainwater spews from the mouths of gargoyles at each corner of the peaked roof. The walls have old cravings in the stone of dragons, angels and demons.

 

When they reach the top of the hill, Helmut is surprised to discover the gates are closed. He dismounts and goes up to the gates and bangs with his mailed fists. After a moment a pale face peers through the peephole, nods, and they hear the sound of a heavy bar moving on the other side. Helmut looks back at the group, with a nervous smile and as the gate opens leads on into the walled courtyard beyond.

 

Two squat towers stand at the southern end corners, the right hand side as they enter, and between them is a domed chapel. Directly across from the gate, on the east side, two pale looking boys emerge from the stables. There is enough light from the covered sconce torches, to see even in the darkness of the cloud and rain and evening drawing in. The boys take Helmut’s and the parties horses and lead them to the stable. The doors at the top of the stairs at the north end of the courtyard open, revealing dim torchlight beyond. A stern man in a grey doublet, black breeches, and a red cloak descends the stairs. The rain swiftly plasters his black hair to his head. As he resembles Helmut, they must be brothers. For a moment the older man simply stares at the group, but then his features soften and he smiles faintly.

 

Helmut calls ‘Erich’ and they exchange greetings, Erich says ‘welcome to our home, thank you for helping my brother and getting him here safely, please stay for the night and celebrate with us.’ He gestures to two guards, in the towers, to shut the gate and turns to lead them up the stairs into the inner courtyard. As he walks, he gestures about at the buildings, saying how centuries ago grateful peasants constructed the mansion. Helmut asks about the family, his parents and brothers and sisters as well as some of the staff.  Erich, laughs and says he’ll see them all soon enough and opens the doors to the quest quarters, gestures the party in and says a servant will collect them in around an hour for dinner, ‘make yourselves at home’. He and Helmut then walk off together.

 

The quest quarters consist of a hall with three rooms coming off it; they have a fireplace and torches in. The three sleeping quarters have two large beds, which can sleep three, a small table and ewer, as well as a chamber pot. There is bedding and firewood as well. A few moments after they enter some servants turn up to light the fires, bring nibbles, and drink in. Romeo flirts as usual but scares the female servant, particularly when he tries to check her neck, where he sees whip marks. After the servants leave, they change in to non-travelling clothes. Romeo cleans his fancy armoured doublet off and wears that while also wearing his short sword. Jules being paranoid checks out the area, and then gets Peter and Sinclaire to do so as well. They find nothing out of the ordinary.  Sinclaire wants to go and pray in the chapel but Jules says no, keep together. Sinclaire wears his official robes and a dagger, Peter takes his harp, arming sword and dagger, while Jules puts his clerical cloak over his arming padding.

 

Buy this time Helmut has arrived to take them to dinner, He takes them up the servant’s stairs to save getting wet.  He leads them up a narrow winding stair in the wall to the first floor of the manor through the kitchen, into a hallway and then into a large hall. The ceiling of this room stretches overhead some 20 feet high, and old banners hang on the walls, depicting the coats of arms of those families that have married into this one. A large table dominates the centre of the hall, with chairs enough for a dozen. Two fireplaces keep the room very warm even to warm. Already seated at the table are the family, well six of them with a gap between each of them. Lord Valdric Staufen stands up at the head of the table, a middle-aged man, with drawn features. With a half smile, he says, ‘welcome! You have done my son a great service and for that, I am in your debt. Please accept the hospitality of my home in thanks for your brave efforts,’

 

 

Sinclaire moves to Lord Valdric thanks him and sits to his right and next to Leanor, a very large young woman who has obviously been over eating.  The rolls of fat conceal even the gender, and her face is smeared with old food, rotting on her cheeks. Her small eyes roll about in her head, as looking for something.  Helmut takes the chair across from Sinclaire and on his fathers left next to Erich, his older brother. Peter sits between Erich and Amalinda, and this young woman is the opposite of her younger sister Leanor she is a thin to the point of being skeletal. She has a narrow mouth, narrow nose, and large blue eyes; her hair is stringy and brittle. Her clothes hang from her small frame. Romeo, being the man he is sits between Amalinda and Rosalin, who is sitting opposite her father at the other end of the table. Rosalin is lean with pinched features; she might be pretty if it were not that for the scowl marring her face. She wears a fine blue dress and her long red hair in ringlets. Jules takes the chair to the left of Rosalin and next to Jack, the family’s second son. This thin young man wears a red doublet and black breeches, an easy smile, but his eyes tell a different story, they are hard and flinty.

 

When they have all taken their seats and been introduced, the servants start to bring in the first course, males bring the food to the room but woman serve it. They soon notice that Jack takes every opportunity to grab at a girls legs or bum, or anything else he can do with out the others being to aware of it. during the dozen courses of this celebration the group talk and notice what is going on around them.

 

Romeo talking about the weather, the fight and there family with Roslain and Amalinda soon realises that Roslain has taken her mothers place, who is not here, and is seeking station and is always putting others down. She is always complaining about the service, the food and has nothing good to say about any family member. Romeo decides she has an imbalance in her humours and starts to take more notice of Amalinda. She loves the attention and asks about his life and the two talk on and on. She becomes more open, friendly, and attentive as he lashes attention on her.

 

Sinclaire meanwhile, finds conversation difficult as it appears the Lord wants to be somewhere else, he appears to wander off in his mind and a lecherous look comes over his face. When Sinclaire can get him to be aware of him, they talk a little but never for long or with any continuation. On his other side its even worse as Leanor is only interested in stuffing her face, from her own or Sinclaire’s plate, she just eats and eats with food going everywhere. Therefore, he eats with correctness and care, watching what he can of the goings on at the table.

 

Jules talks to Jack but once Jack has heard of Jules journeys to the East, he wants to know about there women and sexual ways. They talk about the Kama Sutra, while Jules tries to show sympathy to the girls Jack is groping.  With Erich talking to his brother and Amalinda occupied with Romeo Peter has now one to talk to in particular, so entertains between courses with his harp.

 

After about six courses, Helmut starts to cough and then choke, turning pale as he does so. Jules rushes up and other to him, and starts to pat his back. Sinclaire moves to pray over him for a cure, thinking its poison. Jules is not sure that it is. Erich gets up and says ‘Leave him I will take him to the chapel and he can be cared for there’. He then picks up his brother and leaves the dinning room.  After they finish that course, Amalinda says to Romeo, ‘would you like to see the secret? Where they have taken him?’ She gets up with Romeo and they leave the room, and she leads him towards the chapel.

 

Jules moves to sit in Helmuts seat, while Peter continues to play. Jules tries like Sinclaire to talk to Lord V, but again finds it hard to hold his attention. Sinclaire starts to pray for Romeo and his soul and safety. As they finish another course, Jack grabs a servant girl, who has a look of terror overcome her, and leaves with her. Jules and Peter talk and think this family is infected by the seven deadly sins.  Peter goes around the table to talk and play for those left, but is stopped by Rosalin.

 

As the final courses come, there are only Lord V, Leanor, Rosalin, Jules, Peter and Sinclaire left and Jules and Sinclaire both say they are tired and retire for the night with a footman to guide them to there quarters. Sinclaire gives his plate to Leanor and they leave. They ask the footman about Bergan and find he is in the village having been driven from the manor, Jules tries to bribe him for info on the family but the man says ‘what you would bribe me to tell on my masters’. Once back at there quarters and the footman leaves them, Sinclaire, remembers the various coats of arms on show in the dinning room and with his knowledge of heraldry, and works out a rough family history. He thinks that this family came here hundreds of years ago when its was part of the Carolingian Empire under Charlemagne in the 9th century.  There was also the Battle of Orreaga locally, this was a battle in 778 in which Roland, prefect of the Breton March and commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne‘s army, was defeated by the Basques. It was fought at Orreaga Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain. It is rumoured that Roland’s holy swords are still lost around there. The Staufen family having settled here has managed through marriage and the position of the manor to hold to there family name through the generations. Even though none of them has ever been to the Saxon shore where there ancestors came from they have kept to the culture of there names. Sinclaire is impressed by the longevity of this family, although wonders how much inbreeding there has been.

 

After a while Sinclaire and Jules decide they ought to see the chapel and pray before sleeping. So heading out across the courtyard and through the gate to the lower courtyard, they go. Getting wet but feeling it’s worth it, they reach the chapel door. However they find two guards there who refuse to allow them entry, after arguing with them for a short while and saying its there Christian duty to be able to pray, they give up and return to their rooms.  Not long after Peter arrives as the dinner has finished, they discusses the evening events, and wonder about Romeo.

 

Then they hear through the pounding rain the sounds of shouting and banging, followed by the faint sound of crossbows going off. There is something amiss here and they decide to arm and armour before they venture out. It takes them around 20 minutes to done there amour, and during that time the distinctive sounds of battle reach their ears. Sinclaire also hears the call of ‘Bergan, down with the family’. So it appears Bergan the man they want is outside with the locals attacking the manor they are in and where is Romeo?

 

As to Romeo – he followed Amalinda to the chapel and then down some stairs in to the catacombs beneath. She lead him hand in hand with a candle along and through various champers and tunnels. Past shelves of bones, with skulls staring out at him, past what appears to be dead servants their bodies shinny from the lacquered shell that encases them. Past sounds of digging and mining, and to a door with a strange creature beside it. This creature is a large adult sized, horned demon with a barbed tail, heavy fur on its body, strong goat legs and a pitchfork near by. Amalinda speaks to it and it lets her open the door, ‘come on’ she says to Romeo, who has stopped. ‘No!’ he says. She goes through the door, leaving him in darkness, as she takes the candle.

 

As the door shuts and the light disappears, Romeo realises he is in trouble, he wants to run but can see nothing and so has no idea which way to run. He decides to use his alchemy to create light, but the next thin he knows he has been hit in the head, by the pitchfork, he assumes, and as the monster withdraws it he falls to the ground playing dead. Although in fact, he hardly needs to play.

 ——————————————–

Two minutes after the sound of unrest starts, 100 villagers plus the 25-village guard start attacking the main gate with axes. While a few hack at the gate the others use doors to protect from crossbow bolts. It will take the villagers around five minutes to break the gates using three men in rotation. While they are doing this, the two gate guards get onto the wall and start loosing crossbow bolts at the attackers, quickly joined by the three in the west tower.

Four minutes – The three guards from the east tower will join the two on the wall using their crossbows, resting them on the wall and aiming before each shot. Between them, the eight guards’ loose all their 80 bolts in 3 to 5 minutes, [aiming for 3 CA gives them 95% to hit] but only 10% of the bolts hit something other than a door, which means eight villagers are killed [Choose location and max damage]].

Seven minutes – As the gates start to give Lord Valdric arrives with 20 more guards and 10 soldiers from the other areas of the manor. They form up facing the breaking gates and await the storm. While the others arm themselves Peter keeps looking to see what is going on and reports back. Elzbeth, the lady of the manor, arrives at the quest quarters looking for the heroes, they have not seen her before as she was not at dinner, but they see in her standing that she is important even before she introduces herself. She is looking ragged, worn, crazy, and spurts out a story the main points, which they understand to be this.

 

Bergen turned up and before long, her husband had become a letch only interested in whores, then her children one by one seemed to become corrupted with one of the seven deadly sins. With her youngest due home any time she managed to have her husband ban Bergen from the manor, and he retired to the village where he gained control of the locals. To protect Helmut, she summons creatures from hell to waylay him, and when that did not work poisoned him at dinner. However, she has not stopped her children and Bergen from corruption him and bringing doom on them all. Now the villagers are trying to get in with Bergen leading them while her children have Helmut in the crypt under the chapel. They must be stopped no matter what.

Nine Minutes – the gates give up and fall apart, allowing the horde of peasants in, as they enter, Lord Valdric orders his men forward and a melee starts. For the next 10 minutes the villagers fight to enter, and the 28 mansion guards fight to stop them. Outnumbered more than 4-1 the guards fall back, losing the odd man here and there and taking down twice as many of the villagers. With the guards needing to rest to avoid getting over tired and the villagers being able to put new men into the fight the villagers are slowly winning. Once past the gate the attackers fan out and come from different directions and those with missiles start to use them.

 

Nineteen minutes – The guards having reduced in numbers to 12 guards and the 10 soldiers Lord V is falling back under the press of the villagers. As he does so, four Soldiers [Erich’s men] turn and attack him. He falls quickly. With the battle nearly won, Bergen enters with his direct supporters and leaving Kyle to direct the action and stop anyone entering the chapel takes Petra into the chapel.

Twenty minutes – Sinclaire and Jules armoured up and ready to go, they join Peter and head down the inner courtyard cloister. As they go, they see the remaining guards join the villagers and head into the manor. Our trio step out to try to influence them and get them to help. Sinclaire speaks followed by Peter; unfortunately, neither of them knows the local language and use there nearest one to it. It is like talking to the wind, they are seen but once given a once over are ignored. Properly due to their arms and amour, and the fact that they were not interfering. Our trio head on to the lower courtyard and carefully look in.

 

There they can see five figures standing near the chapel, surrounded by a courtyard of blood and bodies, some moaning. They can see that four of the men look like village guards with an older experienced man in charge. Again, our heroes do not want to fight and so decide to talk their way past. Peter shouts out ‘Bergen’ in French, the leader answers, ‘who wants to know?’ Sinclaire answers with a run down of who they are and they come with the backing of the Bishop of St Flour.

 

‘What do you want with Bergen?’ the leader Kyle says. Sinclaire responds with a long conversation, which Jules and Peter interject into at times. After going round in circles a bit they realise that Kyle is dubious of Bergen and push on the fact that he is evil, this works and Kyle agrees to let them pass. He will not join them as he suspects that he would soon come under Bergen’s sway again and change sides. Sinclaire says, ‘that must be the effect of the finger’, and they pass Kyle and his men asking them to stop anyone else coming in behind them. Sinclaire pushes open the door to the chapel and enters. Seemingly haven forgotten that Kyle said that a woman went in with Bergen.

 

As he enters, he feels a blow to his left leg, as he looks round to see what it was he notices an arrow on the floor and then sees a head and the top of a bow behind the altar. He sees the head and the bow rise and loose at him again, this time he gets his shield up, deflects the arrow, and at the same time dislodges some ash from a nearby torch, which hits the firer in her eyes and temporally blinds her. As Peter and Jules follow him into the chapel, Sinclaire quickly moves up to the altar and kills the woman. Jules and Peter say ‘what have you done? Killing in the lords place’. Sinclaire tells them she shot at him first and anyway if Bergen is behind this he doubts that it is a holy place anymore.

 

Seeing no other way out of this chapel and no sign of Bergen they look for a secret way to the catacombs. Peter with his honed skills quickly sees a place where the dirt is disturbed and opens a stone trapdoor. Peter than takes a torch from the wall; while Jules picks up a couple of candles from the altar, he sees that the holy book had been defiled with its pages destroyed. With Sinclaire leading, Jules following and Peter bringing up the rear, they descend the stairs into the darkness below. The room they descend into is dark, damp, stinks of mildew and rot. Shelves line the walls and on them rest countless bones; skulls stare out from the walls, webs, and dust cover them all. They step into a few inches of dank cold water, which makes the floor slippery. Peter quickly sees that there is no way out and finds a door in the southwest corner, the furthest corner from the one they arrived in. A short bendy corridor leads them into a cavern; rubble and debris cover the floor of the chamber. Littered around are bodies, which appear to be of dead servants their bodies shiny in the torchlight, from the lacquered shell that encases them. These bodies’ features were contorted with agony in death, their flesh sunken to the bone. The walls here have been chipped at, extending the cave the bits on the floor show signs of paint and pictures. Our heroes wonder if this was there to keep the evil in, but remember the history and maybe it just shows the overthrow of the evil seven. There is a door in the bottom west of the cave, which when Peter listens at, he hears chipping sounds.

 

Peter pushes open this door and Sinclaire moves through it. Ahead of him is a tunnel with a short side tunnel to the left which only goes a few feet and stops, then there is a small fissure on the right, to small for him to get into. He continues forward with the others following, suddenly he is attacked and falls to the ground. Two old looking child sized creatures have attacked him with their picks. Even though he is now on the ground, Sinclaire manages to parry their second and subsequent attacks, using his shield and sword. While he protects himself, Jules uses his halberd to thrust at them and manages to kill both. With the two creatures dealt with the group, continue forward seeing another door ahead. Again, they listen at this door and hear some very deep breathing with the odd heavy footstep. Sinclaire calls on his holy order training to improve his protection [casts protection 1].

 

Peter again pushes open the door and Sinclaire moves through again. This room is lozenge-shaped and reeks of brimstone and filth, the walls are smeared with profane symbols made of blood and dung. Standing right near to the door is a large adult sized creature, with a horned barbed tail, heavy fur on its body, and strong goat legs, it is holding a pitchfork that it thrusts into Sinclair’s chest.

 

Peter uses his acrobatics to get pass Sinclaire and behind the demon, while the demon withdrew his pitchfork from Sinclair’s chest, as it does so, Jules uses his halberds hook and trips the monster up., while Sinclaire hits it in the head

 

Over the next 10 seconds, the demon tries to regain its feet, with Peter trying to keep it off balance while Jules and Sinclaire strike at it. Jules manages to rip both arms off it, while Sinclaire manages to impale his sword in its head. The demon not being able to stand tries to use its horn on Peter, but although it gets close does not manage to connect. However, Peter is quite worried by the size of the horn and what it might do if it hits him. Quickly however the demon bleeding from arms and head breathes its last. Peter and Sinclaire have both been covered in its blood, and can smell its reek on them. There is a door ahead, leading where? However, they can hear chanting coming from behind it.

————————————

 

Late evening around on 7 June, St. Peter of Spain’s day.

Outside of the chamber, in the room of the demon, Sinclaire has been wounded and the demon is dead. Jules goes to Sinclaire and tends to his wounds, taking a couple of minutes to do so. Peter checks out the door, he can hear the chanting but can make no sense of it. Once Jules has finished tending to Sinclaire, Peter opens the door and Sinclaire followed by Jules enter the chamber behind it.

Inside the chamber they are confronted by, a 50′ circle, with a pentagram in the middle, around it are seven black tombs. Candles around the pentagram supply some light, but a dim red light from the pentagram itself also breaks the gloom. The walls are covered with carvings with inverted holy symbols, profane sayings, and curses in Latin, the area feels evil. On the walls are two scabbards – An old tatty but obviously good arming sword sized scabbard, and a Rich clean Falchion shaped scabbard with swords in them. The children stand around the pentagram with another, Bergen, chanting, Romeo is tied up on the floor by Amalinda. Helmut is in the middle of the pentagram with strange dark tendrils around him coming from a tomb.

 

The evil presence causes them to recoil in fear, however they pluck up there courage and continue in. As they enter Bergen shouts and the black tendrils enter Helmut, Rosalin next to him stabs him, and the pentagram cracks open, it appears they are a little late to stop this monstrous act.

 

Jack responds to the incursion first, moving to one side so he can use his whip, Leanor moves to attack Jules but with Sinclaire in the way she vomits over both of them. This comes out in a long cone of corrosive vomit, which starts to eat at the armour and flesh of Jules and Sinclaire. Bergen calls on Erich to come and aid him against his sister. Amalinda stands by Romeo to protect him, While Rosalin attacks Bergen again, he parries with his staff and she realises that her first attack was her best chance of hurting him but her dagger had no affect. Erich moves across the room and impales his sword into his sisters left arm. Jules uses the back of Sinclair’s cloak to wipe some of the vomit of himself, While Kris starts to chant and wave his arms around, pulling black energy towards him. Sinclaire moves to allow the others more room, opening himself to attack from Leanor, which his armour stops, and then he hits her in the head with his sword, drawing blood.

Jack seeing the threat Sinclaire is uses his ability to install lust in others on him, causing him to want to help and protect him. Leanor attacks Sinclaire who parries her great axe blow with his shield. Peter moves into the room and attacks Jack with his spear, Jack parries with his dagger but still suffers injury to his chest. Bergen uses his staff on Rosalin but misses, he is not much of a fighter, its not his thing. Rosalin attacks Erich and misses, he parries with his shield tripping her and ripping the impaled sword from her arm, which cuts it off. Therefore, she falls to the floor bleeding and dying. Jules thrusts his halberd at Leanor but misses, while Kris’s spell fails, Sinclaire also has a go at Leanor, and hits her in her left arm, rendering it useless. Jack, calls upon Sinclaire to attack Peter, however his attack misses. Jules attacks Leanor again hitting her in the head and pushing her back into Kris, whose spell fails.

 

Sinclaire and Jules start taking the effect of the vomit to their armour and body, While Jack attacks Peter with his dagger that Peter parries with his spear. Peter now wants to open the distance and falls back but Jack follows. Bergen starts to chant, calling upon evil forces to help him, meanwhile Erich moves to attack Peter. Peter thrusts his spear at him as he closes, which Erich blocks with his shield, however Erich misses with his sword. Jules strikes at Kris with his halberd, hitting his left leg, and withdrawing it leaves him dying as well. Sinclaire instead of attacking his friend, Peter tries to talk him out of attacking Jack, but fails. Jack strikes at Peter again and misses again, Bergen having called on the devil sends Jules mad, causing him to act irrationally. Erich attacks Peter, and if it were not for an amassing evade [Hero Point] he would have suffered greatly. Jules starts to dance wildly swinging his halberd around; While Sinclaire takes a moment to pour some water over his armour to try to reduce the effect of the vomit. Bergen tries to influence Sinclaire, but Sinclair’s will is to strong for him.

 

Jack uses his whip on Peter, who evades away, and then closes and draws his dagger while dropping his spear. Amalinda sensing a threat from Jules prepares to defend Romeo and herself. Erich attacks Jules hitting him in the head, but his tough as nails kicks in and it does not hurt him. Amalinda starts to prepare to use demon fire to protect her space as Jules impales Romeo with his halberd. Sinclaire attacks and misses Erich. Jack again attacks Peter, who responds and trips Jack up. Amalinda casts her demon fire at Jules, and there is the smell of burning flesh. Erich attacks Sinclaire again and misses, while Jules runs away leaving his halberd in Romeo. Jack stands back up while Amalinda starts to work on Romeo to remove the halberd.

 

Jack again attacks Peter and misses, and Peter again manages to trip Jack on his counter attack. Erich hits Sinclaire in the chest, but fails to get past his armour, while Jules starts to dance around again. Jack tries to attack Peter from the ground, but Peter just steps out of the way and attacks him back, but his dagger is having no effect. Amalinda pulls the halberd from Romeo without making the wound worse. Erich attacks Sinclaire again, however Sinclair’s parry flicks blood into his eyes and blinds him. Jules throws his dagger at Erich, missing him, while Sinclaire hits Erich in the head causing a bleeding wound. Again, Jack strikes at Peter hitting but not managing to do any injury. Amalinda starts chanting again, while Jules draws his sword and Sinclaire attacks and trips Erich.

 

Jack attacks Peter and again misses he is struggling now. Peter moves to pick up his spear while Amalinda casts her Demon fire at Jules again; and again there is the smell of singed flesh. Sinclaire chops at Eric who tries to parry blind, fails and takes another bleeding hit. Jack fails again to hit Peter who attacks with his spear and disarms him. Amalinda moves Romeo into a corner away from the action, while Jules impales Eric on his sword and Sinclaire attacks Jack who fails to roll out the way and receives another bleeding wound. Jules pulls out the sword and kills Erich. The fight is almost over, just a mad Jules, left and where is Bergen?

 

Peter checks out the area looking at the two swords without taking them off the wall, while evading any attacks from Jules’s who is tiring. Sinclaire tried to use his influence to claim Jules down but it has no effect, so he stands near to Amalinda and Romeo to block any attacks from Jules. Eventually Jules runs out of steam and collapses to the ground quite worn out.

——————————————————-

As our heroes look to Romeo, Sinclair, and Jules needs and wonder about the swords, a hideous creature, appearing as nothing more than a lump of man-sized blobs of molten stinking flesh that oozes across the ground as it moves, comes out of the crack in the pentagram and thrusts its spear at Sinclaire. Peter see’s it and thrusts his spear through it, spilling its hideous body over the floor. With the monster dealt with, they consider how to close the portal, remembering that they destroyed the words in the violated bible. They remember that they need a holy item and Peter says he has a sliver cross, working together they try to recall the words to the prayer. Once Sinclaire thinks he has it they throw the sliver cross into the crack and Sinclaire prays. Nothing happens. He must have got something wrong. Knowing it is beyond them they decide they must leave and get help to shut it.

 

They go back to thinking about the swords again, Sinclaire examines the scabbards as Peter has done and uses his lore as he and Peter about what they could be. With some help from the still partially conscious Romeo they wonder about the legend of Cid and maybe the arming sword might be Colada. Peter remembers this Martin Antolinez and Diego Gonzalez brake their lances on each other, and laid hand upon their swords. Martin Antolinez drew forth Colada, the brightness of which flashed over the whole field, for it was a marvellous sword; and in their strife he dealt him a back-handed blow which sheared off the crown of his helmet, and cut away hood and coif, and the hair of his head and the skin also: this stroke he dealt him with the precious Colada. And Diego Gonzalez was sorely dismayed therewith, and though he had his own sword in his hand he could not for very fear make use of it, but he turned his horse and fled: and Martin Antolinez went after him, and dealt him another with the flat part of the sword, for he mist him with the edge, and the Infante began to cry out aloud, Great God, help me and save me from that sword! And he rode away as fast as he could, and Martin Antolinez called out after him, Get out, Don Traitor! and drove him out of the lists, and remained conqueror.

 

Colada is one of the two best-known swords, along with Tizona, of El Cid Campeador. Won in combat from the Count of Barcelona, the sword was presented (along with Tizona) to his sons in law. According to the heroic verses of the Cantar de mio Cid, after his sons-in-law beat his daughters and then abandoned them on the side of the road, El Cid asked his gifts to be returned. Afterward, he bestowed the sword upon one of his knights, Martín Antolínez

 

Maybe the other is Tizona!

 

While distracted another devil struggles up out of the crack, again Peter keeping one eye on the area spears and kills it. He then takes both swords off the wall and the party leaves taking Amalinda with them, she supports Romeo as they head back through the catacombs. They leave the bodies of the rest of the family there by the pentagram, as Peter leads the way out.

 

They find Kyle and their cart and horses just outside the chapel, they also see Lady Elzbeth lying in the courtyard with ripped clothing and in a bad way. Her husband is dead also in the courtyard. The main house has smoke coming from it as well as the lick of flames from windows, the buildings around the inner courtyard have been torched and are well alight. Peter takes some material from a peasant passing by, not taking any no’s, and covers Lady E up while comforting her. He then gets her onto the cart and goes to forage and see if he can get there remaining stuff from their quarters. He manages to spear some meat from the burning kitchen and then pushes past the smoke and fire to reach their quarters throwing the equipment out to Jules. Then rather then go through the smoke again he uses a rope and goes down the outside of the manor, telling Jules to bring the others and they will meet outside again.

 

Jules and the others find out from Kyle that Bergen took two riding horses and left, they get a description of the horses. They met up with Peter and head into the village and the church and priests house. Once there they put the women inside the house with Romeo and Sinclaire while Peter and Jules check out the church. There is nothing of interest in the church and once back in the house Peter searches it. While he is doing that the others prepare a fire and bedding while securing the door. peter finds a parchment which Sinclaire try’s to read after praying for protection. However it turns out that Amalinda can and she guides them through what it says. It is from the Vicar General – García Ramírez of the Cathedral of San Pedro in Chaca to Peter of Bergosa. It is a general letter saying that they will see each other again some time. They assume that Peter is Bergen, and also that as Chaca is a Aragonese town two to three days away on the main trade route.

 

With Peter sleeping near the door they rest till morning after a very eventful night.

After nearly eight hours sleep they wake and use what the house and they have to make breakfast. Peter and Jules chat to two young boys and tell them to tell the villagers to bring food and drink, and any other loot like armour and bolts they want to sell. They buy two suits of scale armour off of them to replace the useless armour Jules and Sinclaire have left after the vomit had destroyed it. They also get some bolts as well as food, fodder and drink for a few days. All of this costs them 12 franks which Jules pays. The two mansion grooms also turn up asking if they are needed as they noticed they did not have any and they no longer have a job. Pedro & Ferrer are hired for 1d a day, and they go and see to the horses, they have brought riding horses of their own with them.

 

During a two hour rest Sinclaire prays for the healing of Romeo’s head wound. By the time they are ready to move off Romeo’s head is fully healed, a miracle. So around midmorning they large group sets out, Amalinda and Lady Elzbeth on Romeo’s cart with Jules, Peter, Sinclaire and the grooms on horses. They head South to the village of Pic d’Anie, the first on the way to Chaca. As they leave the loclas glower at them, maybe thinking about what they have done in killing there lords and what this party might bring back to them. Sinclaire says to them, ‘if you value your souls, find somewhere else fortified to go, this place has demons.’

 

At Pic d’Anie the local lord and his men demand a toll, Sinclaire shows his bishops pass and says ‘we are on church business.’ They are allowed to pass, and they head south east to the next villages, this journey takes them through mountainous terrain of ridges and valleys, rocky and wooded, at times they can see the snow on the top of the higher peaks, thankfully it is summer and not to cold. They have to go through the same routine at Anelarra and then Petrechema where they stop for the night. They are charged 60d for the group and its horses for the night at the inn here. They share a room and Sinclaire falls asleep while on guard and does not wake the others.

 

In the morning they leave the village early, by now they have found out that Bergen or Peter has come this way, and has tols the locals that they are Castilians raiders chasing him. They head to Col de Pao then Lac d’arlet, before turning South to Canfranc, and then to Villanuas where they stop for the night. Again it costs them to stay overnight in the inn, another 60 sliver pennies. After a good supper they head to their room and sleep, again they have a guard awake all night. Peter on his turn hears talking, although he can not understand the conversation he does recognise the voices of the innkeeper and the local lord. Hearing the clank of armour, he opens the shuttered window and looks out to see some torches disappearing down the road.

 

At Pic d’Anie the local lord and his men demand a toll, Sinclaire shows his bishops pass and says ‘we are on church business.’ They are allowed to pass, and they head south east to the next villages, this journey takes them through mountainous terrain of ridges and valleys, rocky and wooded, at times they can see the snow on the top of the higher peaks, thankfully it is summer and not to cold. They have to go through the same routine at Anelarra and then Petrechema where they stop for the night. They are charged 60d for the group and its horses for the night at the inn here. They share a room and Sinclaire falls asleep while on guard and does not wake the others.

 

Sending Peter out to scout they prepare for there journey, Peter having a bad day stubbles into the ambush. The lord calls out, ‘you are under arrest as enemies of the crown. stand down.’ Peter calls for Sinclaire to join him and they try again to persuade the lord that they are not enemies but work for the church. Eventually Sinclaire gets fed up and decides to prove his point, so challenges the lord to combat to prove who’s right. As Sinclaire dismounts the lord agrees and his men stand up to watch from there ambush positions.

 

Sinclaire moves forwards to close the distance apart to 16 yards, his opponent breaks into a short run and throws his javelin at Sinclaire, who bats it away with his shield.   With the combatants now 14 yards apart Sinclaire watches examining what his opponent is armed and armoured with. He sees a man in mail armour with a plate helm, holding a shield with a spear behind it and wearing a long sword. The Lord of Villanuas, takes another javelin ready to throw. Sinclaire responds by charging to long sword range, about 4 feet away, while Lord Villanuas prepares to parry with his shield. Sinclaire swings and hits with lord V missing his parry, the blow hits his abdomen but fails to get through his armour, Sinclaire tries to use the blow to trip him up but Lord Villanuas keeps his feet.

 

Sinclaire being quicker swings again, getting past Villanuas parry, and because he is not trying to kill the lord takes a chunk out of the shield. Lord Villanuas thrusts his javelin back but Snclaire uses his shield to parry it. Sinclaire strikes again and this time falters in his steps leaving him open to a counter blow, which Lord Villanuas delivers. Sinclaire parries the blow. Sinclaire then counter attacks again, again getting past the parry, he goes for a disarms of the sheild but fails hitting Lord Villanuas left arm and cutting a bloody gouge in it. Lord Villanuas responds with another javelins thrust, which is again parried. The fight finishes when Sinclaire gets past Lord Villanuas parry again hits him in the head causing his to drop his javelin and fall, even though the blow fails to get past his helm.

 

Sinclaire calls ‘yield’ Lord Villanuas says ‘its the will of the lord.’ and offers his equipment as the loser. Sinclaire turns that down saying he has made his point. and the party continues on there journey towards Castiello de Chaca and Chaca.


———————————————————————–

 

 

10th June – Leaving Villanus and the beaten Lord our heroes head south. As they go Peter finds that he is now wearing Colada, the looted arming sword, it feels familiar to him and rests easily on his belt he feels the need to release it and try it out in his hand. He does so and the sword busts into brilliant light as he draws it. The sword Colada feels right in his hands and he seems to know its history and wants, as if the sword was alive.  There journey is still through the high passes with the mountains towering over them as they follow the narrow route, to Castiello de Chaca [a castle holding the pass into the valley] they then descend towards Chaca, and the route opens up as it brings them down into the high alpine Chaca valley. This valley is  formed by the river Aragon running down its length, with cultivated area’s beside it. As they look they can see small villages away from the fields near to the wooded rocky sides, with activity along the river and the road which follows its banks.   A few miles ahead they can see the welcome smoke and spires of a city, it must be Chaca.

 

Colada the sword of El Cid given to Martin Antolinez by El Cid himself.

Won in combat from the Count of Barcelona, the sword was presented (along with Tizona) to his sons in law, after his sons-in-law beat his daughters and then abandoned them on the side of the road, El Cid asked his gifts to be returned. Colada is a sword that frightens unworthy opponents if wielded by a brave warrior. El Cid gives the sword to Martín Antolínez as a present, and he uses it in the duel against the infante Diego González.  Martín Antolínez took his sword in hand, it lights up all the field, it is so clean and bright, he gave him a blow, he hit him a glancing blow, it broke away the top of the helmet, it cut away all the helmet straps, it tore off the mailed hood, and reached the coif, the coif and the hood all were ripped away, it cut the hairs on his head, and it reached well into the flesh, one part fell to the ground and the other remained. When precious Colada has struck this blow, Diego González saw that he would not escape with his soul, he turned his horse to face his opponent. At that moment Martín Antolínez hit him with his sword, he struck him broadside, with the cutting edge he did not hit him. Diego González has sword in hand, but he does not use it, at that moment the infante began to shout, -Help me, God, glorious Lord, and protect me from this sword!  The sword Colada is in a Old tatty but obviously good scabbard, it dislikes those who hurt women, are bullies, or have no honour, and will only work for a good person. It gains power from doing good and uses that power to use the abilities time have given it. Abilities like a illuminating radiance, smashing past parries, cutting deeply, and helping the welder hit.

 

Game Stat’s

                        [Hero Points: max 18   Permanent 6  [recharge 1st of month]                 Current 6

                        Gains Hero Points for upholding honour and dealing with bullies.
Talents :- all cost 1 hero point per use. – 

            Mighty blow; Severing slash; Second Chance – missed attack roll only; Heroic aura; 

            Light – permanent – the swords radiance illuminates 50 yards radius. Lose 1Hero point per hour                of use [to stop it being used as a light source]

                        1H Damage 1d8+1, Size M, Reach M            Str 10 Dx 9      ENC 2, AP/HP 8/12
Combat Manoeuvres: – Bleed, Impale, Sunder]

Sinclaire talks to a few locals and finds out that a Nunnery under Abbess Sanca is at Araguas del Solano, Peter spots a patrol in the valley from the city and they head to the nunnery avoiding the patrol, which is not hard as they are behind it and travelling across the upper valley to the village. By late afternoon they reach Araguas del Solano, seeing the local peasants working the fields and along the river, collecting wood and pelts from the forest and going about the every day work of a peasant anywhere. Moving past the on-looking peasants our group head for the nunnery gates, which stand open and inviting. They stop and make themselves look presentable, with Sinclaire the Knight of Christ in the lead. As they do Peter looks around checking for any agents or other threats, he sees nothing suspicious. So they approach the gate and two men stand forth and ask what there business is. Sinclaire replies, ‘we have women and men in need of help and care and are on Gods business’.

 

The gate guard answers, ‘hold on here and we will send to the nuns who will guide you and give you the aid you need. Ten minutes later a young nun appears, she sends the grooms to the stables with the horses and cart, telling them they can sleep there. She says, ‘we will house the ladies in the main building’. Sinclaire points out that one of the women is possibly possessed.  She then guides the men to the quest area where they settles in to there rooms. They are made aware of the later afternoon service being in an hour followed by dinner.

 

They are collected by a nun and lead to the chapel, where the nuns are waiting, the two ladies have been left to recover in there rooms. The Abbess takes the service which has an emphasis on the Holy Ghost and the power of the fire of God. Our godly heroes, or three of them anyway, wonder about whether there is any heresy here but do not think so. After the service they are guided to the refractory for dinner, as this is the main meal of the day it is quite elaborate. The men are seated at the end of the table by the Abbess and she tells them that as meals are normally taken in quite but they can speak quietly with her tonight. Sinclaire tells about the ladies and there mission to gain the finger for the bishop. They tell about following Bergen and finding devil worship at Arette, they do not mention that he was involved or his new name. That it has been a long journey following Bergen, that the fight against the demons upset the mistress and that the manor has been left in the grip of evil. The Abbess says that it just to be the Order which dealt with things like that, now its left to the local inquisition under the bishop and what with war and such these things have got out of hand.

 

The Abbess is then encouraged to talk about herself, she is mid aged widow who was put in the nunnery after her husband died.  Her husband was killed by Garcia Ranirez the Vicar General when the family crossed him. Her family connections put her here to keep her safe. They soon realise that she hates him and will do anything to hurt him as long as she can protect her position in the abbey, that her positsion is due to conections rather than any calling. This might be useful to them. She tells them that they are welcome to stay her for as long as their wounds will take to heal, this turns out to be around three days with the sisters care. During that time they think about there experiences and learn from them, some of them ending up with a better faith, as well as learning new ways of using their other skills.

 

The Abbess and Sinclaire decide that Amalinda needs to be exorcised and she thinks that he with her and the sisters will be able to do it. Sinclaire spends some time in the nunneries library reading up on this and Jules gives him some extra insight. So on the 12 June – St Basilidis day they arrange for a mass with all the sisters and Jules and Peter praying while  Sinclaire and the Abbess start to pray over and for Amalinda, using the host and holy water and calling on the demon to leave in Jesus name. This service goes on for an hour and at the end, the demon spirit is forced to leave Amalinda, freeing her from its control.  She still is envious but is not as bad and still loves Romeo, however she has lost all the demonic powers she had.

 

Lady Elzbeth Staufen decides to take refuge here with the Abbess blessing, after all the Nunnery will be gaining control of her manor, or at least once it is cleared. Romeo is not happy about this as he thought he was gaining a heiress as his lover. After the service Peter with a drawn Colada in his hands draws the black sword. As he does it names itself as Sanguis mitti – it is a rusty black serrated mean looking Falchion sword in a Rich clean scabbard. They realise that this means Blood letter, and the black is dried blood. They try to clean it off with holy water but it has no effect, and Peter, Sinclaire and Jules have no intention of letting this into the hands of Romeo who really fancies it. So Peter gives it to the Abbess to hide from those who might use it. It may not be evil and all blades take blood, but this one just does not seem a blade for good men. She takes and says it will be safe here. Romeo tries to convince them it would be fine in his hands but Jules points out that it might be dangerous for anyone hurt by a blood letter and those cleaning it could be at danger. Romeo says that what squires etc are for and Jules points out that no French or Spanish squire would work for a penny pinching Italian.

 

During this time they have also picked up various rumours from the locals. 1/ The caves are home to a family of giants  2/ The Holy Ghost seems to be directly worshiped in Binue’, with manifestation’s of fire..  3/  A rich merchant disappeared near ‘Ipas’ with his whole caravan, 4/  There are bandits in the forests around ‘Abay’ it is rumoured that the local lord is there leader, 5/  There is a group of Castilian raiders based in the area, 6/  The nunnery is more a brothel than a place of worship. One and six are discounted and they assume that the Vicar general might be behind the bandits and therefore the missing merchant. By now they also have a good idea about the main players in this area.

Chancellor Fr Pedro – a short stooped man with a little grey hair, moves slowly and with a stick

Cannon of cathedral – Fr Simon – A young tall noble man, with dark hair and a tendency to wear bright silk in his gowns. Hates the French and Italians.

Mayor – Johan Oares – A city noble, middle aged with a scar across his face going from right eye to left cheek. Fair minded only interested in furthering his own wealth.  He will also want a job done for himself before  helping others.

City Captain – Goncalo Peres  – A young noble with aggressive, pro Aragonese outlook. He leads the city militia as well as a few of his own men [men used to garrison the citadel and supply some order].

Local Villages  within a few miles of the city and under its protection and lordship.  Those north of the river – Araguás del Solano,  Far North West of city zone, the local Nunnery village, the nunnery is run by Abbess Sança,   Binué, North West of the city zone and East of the nunnery, run by Lady Dolca she and the Abbess are friends of sorts.  Ipás,  Almost north of the city, run by Lord Josep a Young hothead.  Those South of the river – Abay, South West of the city zone, Run by Lord Llorenc Abay a mean minded greedy man, young in charge because his father is to ill to take control. Bergosa,  Due south of the city and river, run by Lord Narcis a pious man.  Fraginal, Far West of the city zone and south of the river, run by Lord Gil a careful cautious old man.  Navasa, just West of  Bergosa, run by Lord Marti  a middle aged drunk.

 

Peter heads off to the village of Bergosa which is south of the river and the city and about 4 miles away, to see what he can find out about Peter of Bergosa i.e. Bergen. He sees the locals going about there everyday activities and asks about the priest and heads to the church, putting a donation into the poor box. The local priest is a local man who holds the living for the Vicar General, he has just enough training to manage a service but little else. Peter talks to him about Peter, but the priest says he knows of no one who has left the village and gone on to be a priest. Maybe his friend comes from another Bergosa!  Peter heads back to the nunnery with the thought that Bergen is just using the name Peter of Bergosa as a cover, he wonders if the Vicar General knows that.

 

15th June St Vitus day, The party all rested and healed have to leave the nunnery, Peter is going to the city, on foot, to see if he can use his minstrel skills to gain access to those in power and find out about Bergen, while Jules, Sinclaire, Romeo and the two grooms Pedro & Ferrer head towards Ipas to see about the loss of a merchant, Romeo is sure this is important. Amalinda is left in the care of the Abbess till they are ready to leave.

 

 

Peter walks into the fortified city of Chaca, passing the guards at the gate consisting of Javelin and crossbow armed warriors supported by patrols of Men At Arms and Squires on horse in the valley and city.  He gets to know some of the locals by talking to them in the local inns. He manages to get invited to perform for the Captain Goncalo Peres evening dinner with his Men at Arms. He performs well and in conversation asks Goncalo if he knows Peter of Bergosa a friend of the Vicar General. Goncalo says he has met him a couple of time only once to talk but not for a while and has no idea if he is around at the moment. Peter is given some sliver for his performance and goes to find an inn near to the cathedral to stay in. He takes a single room rather than share and moves the bed against the door and takes other precautions to stay safe.

 

16th June St Cyr of Quiricus day. Peter’s day is interrupted by a request to play at the Vicar Generals evening meal, with the city elders. Peter accepts with glee and prepares himself for one of his biggest performances. While doing so he does some shopping meeting the local merchants and buying a new bow, a nomad bow from Grenada in the south, he also gets 40 arrows half normal and half broadhead hunting ones. He also gets a small sliver cross to replace his last oneand awaits the time he can get it blessed.  Last night must have gone well if the captain praised him enough to get this job. He arrives with plenty of time and is shown into the hall to play after being given refreshments. The hall has a long table at the top and others running down from it. The top table has the Vicar General in the middle, with his mistress Teresa to his left, on his right is Bergen or Peter as he is known here. also on the top table are Fr Pedro, the chancellor, Fr Simon the Cannon, the mayor John Oares and Goncalo. The lower tables have the local guild elders and important nobles sat at them.

 

 

Peter’s performance is one of his best and he regales the hall with his harp, singing and stories, he is well rewarded by the top table and ends up with 70 sliver coins. He recognises Bergen, but tries not to stare, after a brief thank you and acknowledgement of his skill from the Vicar General Peter disappears quickly.

 

—————————————————————-

So returning to the others on the 15th of June they headed towards Ipas to see about the loss of a merchant caravan.  When they get there Sinclaire goes and talks to the local priest, who is a stand in, he struggles to make ends meet and Sinclaire leaves a donation. They find out that a caravan camped outside the village but had gone by the morning.  Shown the area, Sinclaire finds  covered over fires and other signs of a group of wagons being there. It seems they left. They then head to the manor to see Sir Josep the local lord. They have some sparing practice with him and then talk about what’s going on locally and in the city. Meanwhile Jules and Romeo chat to local villagers and point out that the bandits took the wagons towards Abey village and that they are based in the woods near there. Over lunch they discuss whether to save the merchant or not, should Bergen be there prime and only mission.  That evening they use the pretence of going hunting to check out the river. They fail to find or follow any trail from the campsite, but do find a small ford where the river could be crossed by wagons.  They come across a boar drinking and decide to really hunt, Romeo stays put while Sinclaire and Jules approach from different directions on foot.

 

They get to 10yards when the boar hears Sinclaire and charges him, the next 15 seconds is a whirl of tusks and swords.  Sinclaire attacks the charging boar and misses, then parries the boars tusks, forcing the boar off balance and hitting it back with his sword, opening a bleeding wound in the boars forequarters. He then swings again while stepping back and again hitting the boar in its forequarters. The boar again moved in to attack with its tusks, Sinclaire swings at it as it does so with his sword missing and also misses his parry. The boars tusks fail to get past his armour however. Sinclaire swings again opening up another bleeding wound this time in its head.   He again parries the boars tusks and steps back to open the range. Then swings and opens another bleeding wound in the boars head.

 

Again the boar attacks and this time Sinclaire misses his parry with his shield, his armour holds but he is knocked on his back. Now he fights with the hilt of his sword trying to hold the pig off. Then Jules comes up and thrusts his halberd  into its right fore leg and rips it off when he withdraws it. Sinclaire finishes it by smashing into its forequarters again opening up its heart and spraying blood all over himself. Helping Sinclaire up Jules smiles.

Sinclaire washes the blood off in the river while Jules cleans the boar which they drag back to Romeos cart and then back to the manor. There Sir Josep, praises there courage and gets the peasants to prepare and cook the boar for dinner. They stay the night and chat with Sir Josep.

 

16th June, they take it as a day of rest staying at the manor, practicing, talking and spending time in prayer. Peter meanwhile talks to the servants in the palace while having a late supper after his performance. He finds out the Peter AKA Bergen has a guest room here. Peter finishes his supper and heads back to his inn and goes to sleep taking the same care he did before. As he goes to sleep his thoughts are on how to trap Bergen.

17th June Sunday, Peter leaves the city early and heads to Ipas to meet up with his friends, once there they attend church and then chat about whether to kill Bergen or not, to kidnap him and take him for trial and make him face charges here. Should they just take the finger and how, take it and deal with him. Lots of questions but few answers. In the end they come up with a plan and decide to implement it on Tuesday after another day of rest and preparation, which includes Romeo going to the nunnery to get supplies of ten days  supply of food and fodder for the group which costs them 130d. Romeo also picks up Amalinda to bring her home with him.

 

19th June Tuesday.

Sinclaire and Peter head into the city, while Jules, Romeo, Amalinda, and the grooms  Pedro & Ferrer head back towards the mountain pass the entered the valley from. Here they will wait for Peter and Sinclaire to ride to them before they all head back into the mountains and back home.

 

Evening, Peter heads to the vicar generals palace and says he is there for a private performance. The guards let him in recognising from before and having heard of his ability. He only takes his harp in its bag, a dagger, some rope and a letter. He goes back to the servants quarters and asks for directions to Peter [Bergen’s] room as he is playing for him tonight. He is taken to the hall area and left, once he has been left for a while he finds the garderobe and waits near to the guest quarters for a while, once he is sure the area is clear he moves out and towards Bergen’s room. He listens and then enters, the room has a four poster bed, a couple of cupboards and chests, one locked and one with clothes. Peter puts the letter he has under the bed, this letter is from some Castilian raiders to Bergen with instructions about letting them into the city. It is written in Jules best Latin. After making sure the letter looks like it fell under the bed, Peter hides in one of the cupboards and waits.

Some time later, he hears the door open, and the sound of someone walking into the room. Then the sound of the bedding being pulled back, then footsteps  and the door closing. He rightly assumes this is a servant putting a bed warming pan into the bed.

 

A long time later when Peter is starting to struggle to stay awake and keep his body from going ridged, just then the door opens again and two sets of foot falls enter the room. He hears Bergen  say put it over there, then the sound of the bed covers being moved. Followed by the sound of a body hitting the bed and the drapes being drawn again. then the door opening and shutting. Peter wait’s.

 

Some time later he hears snoring.

 

He waits.

Then he sneaks out of his hiding place. He moves slowly and quietly to the bed in the darkness, there is just enough light for him to make out the bed. He reaches the four poster with its coverings and stops.

There is still snoring.

Peter draws his dagger, and uses it to pull back the hangings and puts his left hand over Bergen’s mouth and draws the dagger across his throat.

There is a flow of warm blood on to his hand and few jerks and Bergen is dead.

Peter locates the sliver chain around his neck with the finger on and removes it and puts it around his own neck. Then boldly he walks to the door, opens it and walks out, putting his harp under his arm as he goes. As he rounds a corner he is asked by a servant if the performance went well. Peter says, Yes it was enjoyed and very moving. Peter carries on his way heading for the way out through the servants quarters and then the main gate.  The gate guard murmurs to him, but is there to stop people entering not leaving so Peter just nods and walks out.

 

Once back in the city he goes to meet Sinclaire who is waiting with his two horses, Peter and Sinclaire mounts up and ride slowly to the cities main gate. There they dismount and Sinclaire tells the postern guard that they are on there way back to the manor they are staying at. He lets them out and they remount and ride for the pass and the others.

 

Within hours they have reached the rest of the party and are riding into the mountains, wondering why it was so easy and if they will be followed. However the journey back through the mountains is uneventful and they get back to St Flour and home safely after 3 weeks further travel. So they are back home on the 10th of July having been away since Late February. They have retrieved the Finger of St Goar for the Bishop and city, they have dealt with various trails on the way. However they have left a manor infested with demons and a dead body, Bergen. Peter retires to his wife and home after a long time away, she is due in the next two months. Romeo sets up home with Amalinda having sold his dyes he bought in Toulouse. Sinclaire stays at the cathedral helping out with odd jobs while Jules goes back to looking after Lord Robert’s  and others books.

 

 

What adventures will the future hold for our four heroes?

Will there be trouble from the death of Bergen?

Will Romeo marry at last?

Will Peter and his wife Isabella have a boy or a girl and will mother and child survive the birth?

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s