Friday, 14 September 2018
Das schwarze Auge solo - Part XVII: „Man kann mich nicht höher hängen, als der Galgen ist.“
After dinner that evening, Travjane uncharacteristically volunteers to clean the kitchen; the dismissal of Darian's has meant that she and Darian have been flipping a Silverthaler each night to see who was saddled with the duty. But as she cleans, she also sets aside a curious assortment of herbs, which she gathers together in a small iron pot with a handful of candles. Darian is still sitting by the fireplace when she emerges.
"Whatever are you doing with all that?" he asks.
"Ummmm... witchy things," replies Travjane. "It's probably best you don't know all the particulars. But is there any of that wine left from last night?"
"Enough for libations to the great goddess Satuaria."
"Actually, I was hoping there was enough for libations to The Great Mother Travia in the name of Friendship, via the intermediaries of our collective bellies. I can't begin my ritual until midnight, and I'll just pace up and down till then if I've no one to talk to."
Travjane is truly glad of the company and distraction, for she and Darian get on as if they've been friends for years, but in truth her real motive is to put him at ease with the idea of a Daughter of Satuaria living under his roof and indeed practicing her witchery there. There are many in Mittelreich who would --perhaps justly-- fear and despise her for what she is, and most of the Church of Praios would see her burnt at the stake for even the suspicion of the dark deed she was going to perform this night.
When the midnight hour draws near, Travjane retreats up to her room. She lights the candles, and makes her night table into a makeshift altar, laying some of the herbs out to propitiate the Goddess, burning others in the iron pot so bitter smoke fills her room, yet even more acerbic is the black bile seething in the witch's heart. She prays to Satuaria for vengeance, and whispers every secret bit of malice she feels to her awful Goddess. Then she takes a strip of the cloth stained with her enemy's blood and sets it alight, holding it above the iron pot whilst she gives voice to her terrible Curse. The heat of the flame hurts her fingertips, but she does not let go the burning strip until she has pronounced her spell:
Solange du bist, O Kapitän, frei,
fühlt sich deine Zunge so schwer wie Blei.
Gehst du nur ins Gefängnis,
wird gelöset die Bedrängis.
["As long as you, O Captain, are free / your tongue will feel as heavy as lead. / Only if you go into prison / will the affliction be undone."
NB: A Curse sent this way does not take effect for 24 hours, and requires the target be asleep at the time of casting. The target learns how to undo the curse (as specified by the witch) in a dream. I didn't make any rolls until later, but I moved the mechanics here so they're all in the same place. So--
Q: Was the Captain asleep when she cast the Curse? (50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes.
Paralyze Tongue (SGC/INT/CHA skill 2); the Difficulty modifier is only half the target's Toughness, so -1 (Curses are stronger than spells in this regard): 2/3/6 QL1 = success, 3 hours duration.
The curse costs Travjane 14AsP (20 remaining).
Annoyed by Minor Spirits disadvantage: 1d20=18 (>14 AsP used): even the Mindergeister are afraid of Travjane's witchy wrath, and stay well away.
In retrospect, I suppose casting the Curse is sort of like the taking-a-scene-off-to-rest-and/or-regain-spells action in the Scarlet Heroes urban adventure rules, so the Captain should have been awarded an additional Victory Point, though it won't alter the final outcome (she is still far enough ahead in VP for a 'Complete Victory').]
Scene 40 (SH-9)
Action Scene: Face the foe's best warrior- or the foe himself if this is a climactic battle and they're fit for combat. Face a Fight instead of a check.
Travjane sleeps late the next day [and recovers 1D6+1=7 AsP for a good night's sleep, so she's back up to 27]. She spends the entire afternoon helping Darian in his shop. Linnert comes over for dinner, and she tries to distract herself by directing the conversation towards Kamillio's magic needle and coming up with another plan to get it, even though she's already decided for herself how to proceed. She can't help watching the clock as it slowly creeps towards the hour of Rahja [23:00]. Halfway through the hour of Ingerimm she takes her leave, and hurries out in to the freezing night.
Travjane is admitted to the Rathaus through a side door. She is shown down to the Ratskeller, where her official friend/co-conspirator has secretly assembled [1d6+2=] a half dozen soldiers. The mage arrives last, hidden under heavy cloak.
"I was afraid you weren't coming," says Travjane.
"I wouldn't miss this for anything," replies the mage, "It is probably the most interesting this little hamlet will ever get."
"You didn't bring your staff."
"No. I'd rather not be recognised if this goes badly. But I see you've brought one... of a sort."
"This? I'd hardly call it a staff--"
"Neither would I!"
"It's just a plain old broom handle."
"Planning on making a quick escape?"
"Ha ha! No, nothing like that."
"Would you care to enlighten me?"
"All in good time."
"Please, good my ladies," interjects the Ratsherr, "we have an important matter to which to attend."
"Of course, good my lord," says the mage. "Lead on!"
The little band sneaks out back entrance, moving as quietly as six soldiers in chain byrnies are able.
[Q: Encounter on the way? Unlikely (5+): O1 C4 - no, but...]
The cobbles of the empty streets glisten with frost. Only once does Travjane spot some torches in the distance, but they immediately disappear down a side street. No one who is abroad at this hour wants to be stopped by a watch patrol, be they innocent or otherwise.
When they reach the Captain's the soldiers break down the door and rush inside, but the Captain is not there.
[Q: Anyone at home? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - yes]
They find only the Captain's frightened cook cowering in [d6=] her room off the kitchen.
"Where is he? Where's the captain?" shouts Travjane.
[Intimidate (Courage/Intuition/Charisma skill 3) +2 bonus: 6/15/5 success
Q: Does she know? 50/50 (4+): O2 C4 - no, but...]
"Don't hurt me! I don't know anything! He warned me about the likes of you, and said he was going somewhere safe, where his friends won't turn on him." [UNE: prejudiced - dislike - allies]
"He knew we'd be coming!" says the Ratsherr, "The guard tower, quickly!"
[Q: encounter on way? Unlikely (5+): O3 C1 - no, and...
Q: How many soldiers with captain? 2d6=7]
The Captain's office is in a stout stone tower which flanks the main gate to the city. The tower's door is locked, barred from within. The soldiers bang on door. "Let us in!" shouts Ratsherr. "I demand entry!"
"On whose authority?"
"The council's. Now unbar this gate!"
[Q: Does the captain show himself? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...
Because they lost time going to his house, it's nearly midnight. So there will only be 1d10=7 bits of dialogue before rolling for the Curse (see mechanics above)]
The Captain opens the shutter of a first floor window, and looks down scornfully upon the little band below.
"Well, well," says the Captain, "if it isn't the little witch. Somehow I knew you were too stupid to leave my lovely city." [prejudiced - doubt - previous scene]
"Didn't your mother ever tell you that you should speak politely with witches?" says Travjane. "Or do you want to be cursed? I can oblige, if that's what you're after."
"It is late; even Mada [the Moon] will soon be asleep. Go back home. This noise your rabble are making is going to wake the whole city." [insane - chaos - contacts]
"Let us come in, then, so we can have a friendly chat."
"Go away! And take your toadies with you."
"My patience is at an end."
[Q: How does the Captain react? Beautifully / Defeated]
The Captain tries to spit back a retort, but chokes on his words. He tries again with renewed hatred, but his tongue does not move, nor his lips form words. His hands fly to his face, and find his mouth hanging open like the village idiot's. He remembers his dream of the previous night with sudden and horrible clarity. Travjane begins to laugh; the hideous sound of sheer malice seems to swirl round her and up into the night air like smoke. Her soldiers cower and exchange furtive glances. Even the mage takes an unconscious step away.
The Captain disappears from the window. Moments later the door is unbarred, and he comes out into the street, his head bowed in silent surrender. A soldier claps manacles round his wrists, and he is led off to the gaol.
[Thus, Travjane wins her city adventure. VP: 10-3=7, Complete Victory.
1d20=19 >14AsP for the curse, no additional heat is incurred.
1d10=9 > 3 Heat, so she is not booted from the city
Chaos decreases to Average (d10)]
Chaos: Average (d10)
Setup: dénouement of the city adventure
NPC list: NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Kleiber: knight & villain, villain henchmen, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Linnert the carpetmaker, the cobbler, Uli the cadet
Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, explore ruins
[Q: Can Travjane be admitted to talk to Captain before his trial? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes.]
The Captain is slumped in a corner of his cell in the gaol beneath the Ratskeller. He's barely acknowledged a soul since regaining use of his tongue. A few mumbled words of assent to the charges levied against him, an admission that the copy of the love letter was made from the genuine article, and a tacit and taciturn acceptance that he shall be face a terrible punishment for his misdeeds. He hasn't even given a thought to the rats stealing the meagre crusts left for him by the gaoler. He has merely sat on the damp stone floor the whole time, motionless, apathetic to the numbing of his extremities, feeling nothing save his own misery, half cursing Rahja for abandoning her most ardent disciple to this cruel fate, half praying for her forgiveness.
But he still has the senses of an old soldier. And into his awareness comes the sound of movement, out of step with the constant drip drip drip from the vaulted ceiling. The footsteps which approach are unfamiliar, not the clicking and scraping of the gaoler's hobnail boots nor the soft rustling of the Ratsherr's silky shoes, but the soft pad of bare feet. He looks up, and sees a cloaked woman drawing near, carrying a small parcel wrapped in torn rags. His heart is already sinking as she throws back her hood.
"You! Come to gloat, have we?"
"I brought you some food," says Travjane.
"I was hoping we could talk."
"Hoping? Why don't you just use your curses to force me." [UNE: prejudiced - reputation - current scene]
"Ask yourself: do you really want to put ideas like that in my head right now?"
[Intimidate (COU/INT/CHA skill 3): 10/6/14 - success, QL1
Willpower (15/13/12 skill 4) -1 penalty for situation (so attributes are effectively 14/12/11): 13/16/12 - failure, 1 skill point short]
"I concede your point," grumbles the Captain. "So, what were you hoping we could talk about?"
"Sir Decius Kleiber."
"Not the sort one goes casually asking questions about." [mysterious - shadows - antagonist]
"Oh, but I wasn't at first! Not specifically. I'd not heard the name until the owner of the Emporium Mirorum said it to me. I assume he said it to you too, and that's why you summoned me for our little chat. Does that mean he's crooked too? No matter -- I want to know why you warned me off Kleiber."
"He's an important figure both at the Academy and in the wider barony. Also, he doesn't appreciate anyone interfering with his affairs. And he is, shall we say, intemperate in his response to such meddling. Or perceived meddling." [hostile - destruction - antagonist]
"Wait -- you were trying to protect me?"
"Hardly, my dear girl! I was trying to protect Weihenhorst. And myself, of course. I didn't want a visit from Sir Decius asking why I would allow a mere peasant girl to tarnish his reputation on my watch."
"Well, he's no longer your problem. But he's still mine."
"And just what do you intend to do about him?" [inquisitive - interest - enemy]
"I haven't decided yet. But it will be more terrible than anything I've ever thought of before."
"Don't take that condescending tone with me! Do you realise that you are now in chains because you were unkind to me once, and tried to threaten me?"
"Just for that?"
"Just for that."
"And Kleiber robbed you--"
"He murdered someone dear to me."
"I-- I see. Suddenly the prospect of being scourged, branded, and expelled from the city does not seem so bad."
"Precisely. But as to your expulsion, I urge you to get as far from here as you might, and above all, to have nothing to do whatsoever with Kleiber. I've kept a trinket or two of yours that I came across in my investigations. I can use them to send curses to you wherever you may be. And if I think you're moving against me, well..."
[Intimidate (COU/INT/CHA skill 3): 6/9/10 success]
"I swear by Travia, Guardian of Vows [Schützerin der Schwüre] as well as your namesake, that I shall never knowingly provoke you again."
"Good. Then take this food. I promise it isn't poisoned."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Travjane earns 8AP for the Scarlet Heroes city adventure.
When I marked them down on her character sheet, I realised I hadn't yet awarded any AP for her (disastrous) expedition to the ruins, including the bandit encounters and the interlude with the kobold. So for scenes 25-30, she earns 8 more AP (scene 24 was an Interrupt that only involved NPCs). Back in Scene 23, I noted that she had 10AP to spend, and used them to increase some skills, but I totally forgot to award any AP for the adventures she'd had in the city itself (scenes 12-22). I am awarding 5 AP for that period.
So she's earned a total of 31AP up to this point, and only spent 10.
Time to spend AP then! She'll be increasing one skill and some magic, all things she's been using.
Intimidate +2, cost 4 AP
Radau (Fighting Stick) +3, cost 6 AP
Paralyze Tongue +3, cost 6 AP
Witch's Bile +1, cost 2 AP
*Spray, cost 2 AP
* a Spell Enhancement from Aventurische Magie I, which requires a level of 8 in the spell. Spray gives a -2 penalty to defence rolls against the spell.
Travjane now has 1 AP left unspent. Her updated character sheet is here.
She's got at least a fortnight of downtime (1d20+14 days) before her adventure picks up again, so she has time for the skill increases above. I was a bit surprised that she didn't get booted from the city (due to Heat) at the conclusion of her urban adventure. But there's still most of a sandbox to explore, and revenge to pursue, so the next post will pick up her adventures as she sets out from the city.