Caradoc ap Segovax: An old tale ends and a new one begins (Age of Arthur, Session 4)

When my eyes opened, the shape of the mighty wyrms lightning still clinging to my vision, I could see Scotia battling against a crowd of the deathless cursed, aided by the fey knights of our Kindly One escort; falling to my knees I sunk my fingers into the soil in the hope that our outsurge of power had contained the curse. Again I was assailed by the vision of the woman, being burnt alive by followers of the false risen God, I blinked away tears as she cried out in agony, calling on the dark forces of the Morrigan to avenge her death and punished the false believers; then, in the darkness beneath the worl, I felt the Morrigan answer. Rising shakily to me feet I groaned, the curse was empowered by the goddess of death and battle, it could not be contained or stopped until she was appeased, I shouted for Scotia to lead the deathless over to where I stood, perhaps if we sacrificed the bodies of these non-believers to true death then the goddess would be satisfied.
Scotia shouted over, the cursed seemed unable to move beyond the gateway from the village as though something held them inside, she also told me that she had seen a brown robed man in the town who appeared to be fending off the creatures; I should have known, the deathless were not the ones being punished, they were Morrigans punishment on another, this figure wearing the drab joyless robes of the new religion. Pulling my raven’s mantle around me I took flight and flew in the direction indicated by Scotia and felt anger flare within me as I saw the man attempting to repel the will of Morrigan with his puling faith; landing behind the man and assuming my human form I swung my staff into his head screaming “Your greed and your murderous nature have bought this doom on is all, and now you will pay for your crimes!”
The man stagger briefly and, seizing my opening, I let my hatred and loathing for his faith flow fourth from me like a black cloud which surged into his mind; the man’s eyes rolled back and I felt the spark of his life in my hands, it would have required just one small effort to extinguish, but no, the man had shown no mercy when he burnt that poor woman alive and neither would I. Pouring the power of this place and of my fury, enhanced by thatr of the Morrigan into the writhing man I severed his connection to whatever powers of faith he possessed, forever after he would know that the god made by man was no match for the ancient gods of the world.
A black shape began to gather like a storm cloud as the deathless were released and began to collapse, reognising it for what it was I dropped to my knees and bowed my head as the Morrigan made herself known, Siann who had been proteting me from the deathless did likewise; from the corner of my eye I saw the fey priestess round the corner, obviously having sensed the goddess, she immediately bowed her respects.
“You have not suffered enough” said the Morrigan is a voice like rotting flesh draped in velvet, with a gesture of her hand the limp form of the monk hurtled into a nearby pile of masonry.
Seeming to calm slightly the Morrigan bid me to stand and continued, “It is good, you have found a way to exact suitable vengeance, I will remove the curse.” She reached out a hand and produced a feather made from twisting smoke and shadows that I reverently accepted, explaining that I could not have carried out the vengeance without the support of our Huntsmaster Siann, our warrior Scotia, the support of the great wyrm and our Kindly One hosts.
Nodding the Morrigan lighting touched Siann’s sword and the blade turned a deep black, from within the folds of her robe she produced a similarly coloured hammer and handed it to Scotia saying “You will need this for your great task metal-worker.”
After the goddess had conversed with the fey in their own ancient tongue she turned to us and asked “What is it that you seek?”
“We are searching for a way to unite the people and return them to the old way” spoke Siann our Huntmaster
“Then leave this fool to live,” she said gesturing to the monk “his life will be long and painful; but go you into the forest to the place where the egg of the great wyrm lies, the Fair Ones will not trouble you whilst you are about this task, build a weapon that is worthy of a new king and thrust it into the stone. When he who an draw the sword is found then you will have your king.”
There was a loud cawing and the Morrigan dispersed, bursting apart into a cloud of ravens that fluttered into the sky.
With a loud thumping of wings the ancient wyrm landed nearby and beyond it in the sky was a burning burnished eye that seemed to stare down at the magnificent creature, I bowed low and said “Great one you have honoured us with your presence, if there is any way that we can repay your kindness all you need do is ask.”
“Your belief in my kind will be sufficient young one,” replied the great wyrm Bes “sufficient for me and my own god, thank you for the learning experience, it has been enlightening” and with mighty beats of its wings the wyrm was gone.
“How are we going to move the shell?” asked Scotia, a quick search of the town revealed a salvageable cart and some working animals, we quickly had them hitched up and ready to move, I also managed to take some useful powders and uguents from what must have been the town herballist’s before the curse. Scotia was excited that she had discovered a roman forge and immediately set about unlocking its secrets and working out how to transport it with us.
The excited voice of the Kindly One Slip caught our ears as he ran back into the town, reporting that, with the curse gone, the black fungus had begun to transform into the normal red and white spotted toadstools of the woodland. The elfish priestess approached saying that they would open a fey doorway to the forest where the egg lay in return for being allowed to contribute to the swords construction, gratefully we agreed and soon found ourselves in the forest by the egg where Scotia busied herself erecting the forge and Siann pumped the bellows.
A single shaft of sunlight shone through the canopy and illuminated a mossy patch of grass that seemed almost a perfect circle, it would appear that we had found the place where our sword would rest.
Days seemed to blur by as the sword was forged, and what a sword, made of cold iron heating so as to no longer prove anathema to the Kindly Ones, blessed by the elfish priestess and my own magics, in the moonlight it shone with twin inscriptions formed from my glamour:
FORGED FROM THE OLD WE MAKE THE FUTURE ANEW

WHAT IS ANCIENT ENDURES
Heated by strange flames from fey glass that they called dragonfire the warmth of the forge and sparks suffused the clearing until the endeavour was complete and, as the sword was held high, I produced the feather than Morrigan had gifted me and instructed Scotia to incorporate it into the blade; my gifts told me that it would make the blade proof against the passage of time and protect the wearer from harm.
Scotia plunged the sword into the stone and our work was done, biding us well the Fair Ones opened a door to our home village in the north, the snows had just begun to fall and the sound of feasting and merriment echoed forth from the celebration hall.
Bidding our hosts farewell we stepped through the door, I rapped on the hallway door with my staff three times and the Huntsmaster threw them open to reveal our kin revelling within, telling ancient stories and tales of our tribes history, a smile crossed the Huntsmaster’s face as she spoke:
“I have a story to tell you.”

Caradoc ap Segovax: A Darkling Village (Age of Arthur, Session 3)

With our escort of the Kindly Ones we made our way through the forest, guided with all speed past the natural hazards of this great place, heading southwestwards; my heart grew heavier as we neared the darkling village and I contemplated what doom the unbelievers and worshippers of the false god had bought down upon all of our heads. Whilst Soctia marvelled at the shining arms and armour of our guides we began to descend into a valley, the air growing soupy and quite unlike the pure clean vapours of our northern home. We stopped a days walk from our destination and built ourselves a small campfire, once more seeking to divine the will of the gods I stirred the ashes of the fire, peering into the swirling cauldron of red and black; I glimpsed a tall structure many leagues from us, some sort of building rising in a point into the sky as though foolish men had tried to reach the heavens. I sensed a great blackness that had experienced it’s birth within that strange place; but the gods showed me that the darkness did not extend to all places equally it seemed to have most affected those places who clung like drowning men to the false faiths, had it just affected them I might have been content to see it as divine punishment for their lack of true faith, but now it festered and threatened to corrupt the entire land, such evil could only lurk in the hearts of men.
Made cautious by my vision our fey guide pulled Sianns shadow over her to shield her from unfriendly eyes whilst I pulled natures mantle around my shoulders and, testing my new feathered wings, followed them towards the village. Siann quickly spotted a strange blood ref fungus with black stems that appeared to be blanketing the marshy land around the village, I examined it but it was like nothing I had seen before, our guide also seemed puzzled but said that he could sense that the spores were causing the land to rot and that it had grown by no natural means. As we left the trees a hazy black cloud of evil hung over the village and, believing danger to be close, we diverted back to collect Scotia from where she had remained with the rest of our guides; we appeared to arrive just as two of the more important Kindly Ones, a horned man and green woman, were having a heated arguement about how to deal with the village. The horned man told us to take ‘Slip’ a more human looking fey who bowed and wove a disguise around himself from glamour with us as his eyes to the village.
As we journeyed back to the cursed village my divinations revealed that the toadstools were park of some curse or pox on the new faith, but it was one that now threatened to spill outside its boundaries, one empowered by pain and loss terrible to comprehend; a mournful tolling sound accompanied our approach as a funeral bell rung from the top of the largest building in the village although it rose nowhere near as tall as the strange point that I had seen in my visions. Once more becoming one with the creatures of the air I soared up to where the bell tolled and could see how the haze seemed to carry the cursed spores from elsewhere, my ravens eyes spied the distant steeple that I had seen in my visions, leaping from the roof I flew towards the source of the evil infecting the land.
As I alighted and shook off my raven feather cloak the land around the spire was burnt and parched, I could feel in my bones that a follower of the old ways had been burnt here, and that in his death throes he had cried out for justice… no, not justice… vengeance, for that is the way of our gods to punish those who do us wrong; the death cries of the sufferer seemed to fill the clearing for a moment and I could sense the tremendous energies and agony that had infused their final curse. Pushing back with my own power I felt the strength of the curse bend but not break, here was more rage and pain than could be dealt with by any single man, druid or no.
Flying back to where I had left Siann and Scotia I heard an urgent knocking from the centre building; flinging the door open I saw a shambling horde of lost souls pursuing my companions, dead and yet kept suffering through the power of the curse, Siann slammed the door and, I gestured for torches to be made as we purified the building with cleansing fire.
Slip emerged from the shadows, seeming anxious to leave, I told him what I had seen and that the power of all of us, mortal and Kindly Ones, would be required to break the curse; gesturing at a shimmering in the air he lead us through a fey doorway back to his fellows, after some debate they agreed to accompany us. As we arrived near the birthplace of the curse, more of the cursed dead shambled from the darkness, as the fey warriors and Scotia held them back through force of arms, the remainder of the Fair Ones prepared their magics to batter at the resistance of the curse; I had one last gamble, with a need born of desperation, I screamed the name of the great wyrm Bes in my mind and was rewarded by the crash of thunder in the distance.
Above the roar of the thunder and the groaning of the dead I shouting for Siann to place her spear into the ground and call on the blessing of the Huntmaster to aid us, myself and the Fair Ones joined together forcing our power through Siann and into the spear, and through it into the ground, seeking to cleanse and purify it.
“Bes, we need you, the land needs you!”
A forked tongue of lightning struck the spear and I felt the power of the ancient wyrm rip through my body.
Then everything went black.

Caradoc ap Segovax: Ancient Spirits of the Forest and Air (Age of Arthur, Session 2)

I was awoken during the night by Scotia, the soft sound of laughter and other strange noises filtered through the forest trees that were illuminated but dimly by the flickering embers of our campfire; pulling a burning brand from the fire I blew gently on it, sending a small cloud of ash spiralling into the air and I peered into the patterns that it formed, seeking the will of the ancients in the chaotic swirls of grey.
“They are spirits of the forest” I said, almost as much to myself and to my companions, “we must show these guardians of the old ways respect.”
Picking up a handful of the seeds that lay scattering around the small clearing I spoke into the darkness, saying “May new growth spring fourth from these seeds that we spread, and may this great forest exist in the future as it always has done.”
After a few moments the noises seemed to have quietened and, deeming that my words had been accepted, I rolled over and soon drifted into a satisfied sleep, Siann remained awake on watch, but then the young have always required less sleep.
In the morning I awoke to find Siann not at her post by the fire and,  instinctively grabbing a nearby branch, I careful woke up Scotia and motioned for her to prepare her weapon for possible attack as I whispered a prayer to the old gods, asking them to make me one with the wild and the woodlands. Looking around as my senses became sharper, I spied some tracks and we set off after them, eventually catching up with Siann who was nearby; it appeared that she had tracked a giant wild boar that was roaming the area, this could only bode well as a good omen for our endeavour, and was surely a sign of Cerrunnos favour. Scotia seemed a little put out by the size of the beast, saying “The forest doesn’t want us here, it’s trying to repel us”
“Be assured that the forest could have been far more wrathful had it chosen, all it has done is shown us some of it’s true majesty; this is a place of the old ways and respects those who honour it” I assured her in a low voice.
A few minutes later we returned the remains of our campsite to the forest and continued our journey, mindful of the forces that lurked in the forest, ready to destroy us should we disrespect them or trespass where we were not wanted I ask Lugh to bless us with his sight that we might see our way clearly to our destination. Unfortunately not even the blessing of Lugh was able to prevent that clumsy girl Scotia from tripping over what we first took to be a rock and then, on further examination it appeared to be a clump of metal, the soil around it would seem to indicate that it was perhaps the remnants of a shooting star, surely an auspicious omen.
Drawing near the metal caused me great pain, it was though I could feel that part of me that I share with the Kindly Ones burning in my blood, although I agreed with Scotia that it could be useful should the fickle and capricious fair ones choose to act against her; perhaps it wasn’t simple clumsiness that lead her to discover it, the gods work their will through us all. I scattered seeds around the area as a sign of respect to the forest and Scotia began to see if she could extract some of the metal, but each time her hammer struck it, their was a rumble from somewhere deep within it.
Ignoring the stabbing pains that lanced into my arm as I got closer to the silver sphere, I gestured for her to cease and placed my ear and face against the metal; it was warmer than I expected and, as the throbbing beneath it’s surface continued, it seemed that there was something alive within the sphere. My eyes widened, could it be? Surely not? One of the great wyrm eggs of legend, it soon became obvious that I was correct as a small egg breaking horn cracked through the metallic shell but the beast appeared to be struggling; mindful that we had perhaps caused it’s struggle I focussed the powers of healing that I commanded into the egg and the majestic wyrmling emerged from the egg, it’s cry echoing through the forest.
As the magnificent beast gobbled up some of our rations, it’s cries were answered by a loud rumble of thunder that was in the distance but seemed to be growing nearer. The clouds parted and a huge wyrm, like an ancient god rising from the mists, lightning crackling around it’s form descended, a loud voice that seemed to sound in all our minds booming “You are not elves or of the fey?”
Taken aback at being addressed by such a living embodiment of the ancient ways we respectfully explained that we were from the north, beyond the ridiculous crumbling wall built by the unbelievers, and that we were seeking a way to unite those tribes who still respected the old ways under a single banner, we believed that the Fair Ones could help us with this. The creature seemed to appreciate our caring for it’s young and, after saying that we may address it as Bes, gave us directions to where the local Kindly Ones held court before flying off with a “fare thee well” and it’s youngling clinging to it’s leg.
Following the great wyrms directions I soon started seeing tell-tale signs of the Kindly Ones, toadstools grew in spiral patterns and trees seemed lined with aged faces; Scotia could have hardly been more noisy stomping through the trees, I believe her heavy footfalls would put even those of the great wyrm to shame. I held out a head for her to stop as my senses, attuned to the magics of the Fair Ones through the history of my blood, detected a hunting pit wove about with disguising glamour; indicating it’s boundaries to Siann and Scotia we moved on, a slight mist now covering the forest floor. I could sense the glamour and Fair Ones moving unseen all around us and, reaching to the power of my blood, wove together the stray strands of glamour into a glowing ball of faerie fire and a way of respectfully announcing our presence.
With a swish of wind it was as though a veil had been pulled back and the Fair Ones crowding the clearing suddenly were made visable perched on every tree and scamping through every glade, as mark of respect (both to them and the forest) I sunk my staff into the ground and bid it take root and grow leaves. As a terribly beautiful figure strode forward, our Huntsmaster Siann explained to them that we sought their aid and great wisdom to unite the clans; the figure nodded and said that they would grant us aid and passage but that they were troubled by a village with a darkness festering at it’s heart, if we would help them in their quest then they would aid us in ours.
Remembering the village from my earlier vision I nodded to Siann and, as the leader of our troupe, she nodded our agreement.

Caradoc ap Segovax: The Festival of Lughnasadh (Age of Arthur, session 1)

The old stories were once again told as the great hearth fires were lit in the village for the celebration of Lughnasadh, the harvest time would soon begin and all of the the tribe, young and old, gathered in the village as those amongst the eldest (like myself) passed along the ancient tales of our people; I presided over the dutiful kindling of the hearthfire in our small inn and lead the procession as the burning brand was carried to a large bonfire that the youths of the village had built near to our well. As the flames caught and the heart of the village once more awoke and burnt with flame, the face of all the people in the village both young and old were briefly illuminated in tones of burnt orange and yellow. I lifted my voice and, although my summer years are far behind me, I felt the winter recede a little in the glow of the fire as I lead the village in a prayer of thanks to the spirits.
Our chief, a mighty warrior who still strode through the village like a giant despite having many seasons behind him, thanked me and beckoned for the warriors of the village to come forward and tell a tale of their deeds so that we might acknowledge our present as well as our past; as each of the warrior stepped forward and told their tale one of the stories seemed to shine for a moment brighter than the rest. I cannot say whether it was my own connection with the person who told the story or the tale itself that drew my attention, but the young daughter of the village druidess (my female counterpart and balance), a rough a tumble young urchin who continually evaded the chiefs attempts to have her settle down with a warrior from the village, spoke of going to battle with her father and seeing that most mighty of men laid low by the treachery of the unbelievers. Thanking her for the story, but admonishing her to beware the black road of vengeances, the chief made a gesture to me and, with a handful of young helpers, I began to pour out the ceremonial mead for the villagers, handing to each a cup as they told their own stories, each of them weaving together into a tapestry that forms the history of our people. Raising his cup the chieftain said “We drink for all the fallen, in three nights the hunt begins,” I would be expected to lead the hunt for the stag with twelve horns, it’s presence (or lack of it) boding either good or ill for our next years harvest.
The chieftain sought me out after his speech, he had apparently been talking to Siann (daughter of the druidess) and Scotia (a young woman who had become the village blacksmith) and attempting to persuade them that part of their duty was to help produce the next generation of warriors for the village, but it appeared that they did not agree with him; he told me of a dream of vision that he had where he had walked across a battlefield littered with the bodies of our Roman enemies and our own people, the Morrigan walked amongst the fallen, her black robes flowing our behind her like crows wings, but she would not take the souls of those that had died. Troubled, I spoke of how the old ways were slowly being washed away like sand on a beach as the tide of unbelief took root in our lands and that those who forsook the old ways, the right ways, would be forsaken by them in turn and would know no rest in this life or the next; ancient legends and stories passed down to me had spoke of the living death, souls who could not pass from this world but were no longer living, forced to linger for eternity in the bleak grayness between realms, it was not a fate that I would wish on anyone.
At the urging of the chieftain, over the few days leading up to the hunt I talked to Scotia and Siann to see if I could discover why they continued to defy our chieftain; both of them were extremely headstrong and proud (as only the young can truly be), raised by warriors who fought with faith and sword to protect our way of life it seemed that the two had their doubts about the worthiness of the village’s younger warriors to be a husband to them. Seeking to find a solution that would satisfy both parties I suggested that perhaps, when we held the May festival, the two of them could set a challenge for the youths of the village where they could prove there prowess and then select a husband from those they deemed suitable, this would satisfy the chieftain and would also give them far more choice in the matter; my solution seemed to be acceptable to both parties and I began to seek out the village druidess for spiritual council as the hunt approached.
Finding the druidess in our sacred glad, we spoke at length about how the stories of the world were changing but that as long as tales were told then the gods would listen to them, both of us were old and our time, our world, was passing away but still we strove to keep the old faith alive so that the new world to be born afterwards would not be a faithless dark place where the old gods lay forgotten. We spoke of her daughter and her quest for vengeance, a dark, black road that is often dangerous to travel, but sometimes necessary if a stain is to be sponged from the soul.
On the day before the hunt, with the chieftains blessing I announced that the true test of a warrior was not simply killing, any fool with a stick could kill, sometimes the true test was in the capture of the prey; I told the young warriors that, with the blessings of the old gods, I would take on the form of the stag and that their goal would be to hunt and capture me without killing. The person who succeeded would have be marked in the eyes of the great god Herne and our Hunter.
Come the morning of the hunt I arose with the dawn and cleansed myself in the cool stream that runs through the village, giving thanks for the new day; it is necessary to cleanse the body and mind of impurities before assuming the form of a beast, lest your mind be lost and you become so lost in the tangle of the wilds that you cannot find reason and your way back to your own life. As the hunters gathered I repeated that their goal would be to return me unharmed to the village then, whispering a prayer to Herne, I pulled the tanned stag skin around me, feeling it hold fast to my own flesh and shrank down into the form of a shining white stag; kicking my now strong legs I bolted into the woods behind the village, my ears picking up the sound of the warriors moving in pursuit, slowly and clumsily in the way of man.
I darted through the woods with time and the trees flowing around me, I don’t know how long it was before the real pursuit began, time seems to move different when seen through the eyes of the beast, perhaps man does not really understand time or perhaps the way we see it is the only way we can understand it? A noise to my flank startled me and I raised my head to see Siann (I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised) closing on me, I lead her a merry dance through the woods until it became obvious that I would not be able to escape and that she had succeeded. Standing to my normal height I felt the stag skin slip from me, with it’s usual reluctant, clinging for a moment before allowing me to return to the form of man, I sometimes wonder when it is our time to leave this world whether we simply throw off the shape of man and move on to something else, but that is a question only time and the gods can answer.
Throwing Siann’s arm into the air as the other warriors crowded around her I lead them all back to the village where our chieftain proclaimed her the village Hunter, it was at this moment that he also chose to announce that both Scotia and Siann would be chosing a husband at the end of the May festival, whoever could best their challenges.
As was tradition the new Hunter went to the sacred glade in order to speak with the druidess, as the Hunter, Siann would be given a test, the success or failure would judge how the gods favoured us for the coming year; emerging from the glade Siann informed us that both myself and Scotia were to accompany her south through the Great Forest and the unbeliever kingdom of Vinovia, our goal was to successfully broker a peace or understanding with the Wild Ones that lurked in that area, ancient spirits in human-like forms whose ways were not our own, but who had existed since the time of the gods themselves. If the dying words of my old tutor the previous druid were to be believed, my own mother had been one of these creatures and something of their blood flowed through my veins; I had studied the old tales of the Wild Ones and new something of their ways, as precaution I directed Scotia to craft us some beaten iron weapons for the trip should the Fair Folk prove to be hostile.
Days later we travelled through Vinovia, I swallowed my distaste for the kingdom of non-believers, reminding myself that this task was set us by the gods and that my own personal likes and dislikes were not of importance, I was here to help the Hunter accomplish her task and return to the village, heralding a year of prosperity for us all. We passed by a huge ruined wall, a Roman folly that they had built to keep our people out before they had realised that Britain would not be cowed by the likes of them and had left these shores, their “great work” now lay in ruins, crumbling as the green mosses and lichen reclaimed it for the land; the old tales are changing indeed. As we travelled further south the air became warmer and richer until it felt like a soupy broth that left us all feeling quite light-headed.
We reached the Kingdom of Eberauch and began to move further inland, all around us were signs of what the unbelievers called ‘progress’, huge trenches and wound where they had cut into the land with their machinery and their tools, seeking the riches that lay within, in their blasphemy they had even gone so far as to redirect the flow of the rivers, ignorant that they were more than simply a source of water, that they were the lifeblood of the land itself. Not willing to let this simply stand I channeled my own anger and the seething, brooding will of the land, pulling it around the place as I wove small totems from the rocks, bones, wood and grass that I found and hung around the area, laying a curse of bad luck and ill-fortune on any who sought to profit from the desecration of the land here.
Our only real sign of other people so far had been an encounter with a solder who shouted at us in a language we didn’t understand and then moved on, other than that we had barely seen a living soul and so decided to make camp in the forest; whilst our Hunter was bringing down one of the many wild boar that roam the area I took a stick and poked the embers of our camp fire, gazing into the smoke and flames for a glimpse of the gods great pattern. In the embers I saw a village of the new faith and lurking at the centre of it, like a great spider was a deep and terrible darkness. 

Caradoc ap Skegovax – Age of Arthur character

Age of Arthur Character Sheet
Caradoc ap Skegovax

I’m currently filming a review of Wordplay Games excellent Age of Arthur RPG (a game of heroic fantasy with historical/Arthurian leanings) for release on my Youtube Channel on Wednesday 29/01/14, in the review I talk about how easy the character generation is, it occurred to me that it might be useful for people to see the character that I created for a game being run by my friend Dave.
So without further ado below is the character sheet (2 rough pages, 1 final sheet page) of Caradoc ap Skegovax (Caradoc son of Skegovax) a pictish druid who believed his parents dead and was adopted by the aging druid of the pictish settlement where he lived; when his mentor was slain in the great battle against the Saxons, on his death-bed he revealed that Caradoc’s mother had in-fact been one of the fey and that, when his father had died, she had returned to her own people. Caradoc swore to his mentor as he died, that he would always keep the old ways in his heart and would bring the land and it’s people back to the old faith.
These first two sheets are my rough working out and jotted ideas/notes.
This last sheet is the simple final character sheet that our DM printed out for us and has the neat(er) version of my character written up on it.
Looking around on the internet I also looked for a picture to represent my character, since I always find having a visual representation of things in RPGs really helps people visualise characters, items and locations.
This image really grabbed me and represented everything that I wanted to portray about my character in the game, although he is part of the tribe Caradoc is as much at home in the wilds and with the animals as he is civilisation; leaning on his ancient staff and carrying a small leather bag filled with herbs and roots he wears both man-made garments and the skins of animals, seeking to meld the two worlds together, living in harmony as he strives to return people to the ways of the old faith.
Since I played a largely combat character in the previous Dresden files game run by my friend (and because I was eager to try out the excellent looking magic systems in Age of Arthur) I pretty much went for an all out arcane and research-style character; I did have to make some tough decisions regarding what to take since all magic in Age of Arthur requires a skill and a stunt to use it, this meant that a lot of my skills and pretty much all of my stunts were taken up by various magic styles, making me a jack of all (magical) trades but master of none, whereas if I had focussed on one I could have taken additional stunts to expand my capabilities within that domain.
In the end though I have a druid who is capable of placing druidic curses and blessings on people, divining the future, healing with a touch, wielding the illusions and glamours of the fae by calling on his heritage and of changing shape into a number of different animals; this is great but i’m sorely lacking in other departments as a result and will be relying on my wife Hannah’s and my friend Kelly’s characters to keep me safe from more mundane threats, handily their characters are both far more physically capable than my own.

Serpents Fall: Death in the Forest – Session 3

Thinking about recent events Ozuchi calls on the knowledge of his ancestral spirits and asks them “Where will the dark corsairs target next?” A whispered voice on the wind speaks to Ozuchi as a flock of seagulls take to the air and spiral around the stygian medicine man, the spirits of the air tell him that the dark corsairs will strike next on the western coast of Saxony; as Ozuchi relays the information and Horesh points out that it’s a very long journey, Gunnar rankles at the fact they can’t even take a boat due to Benito’s curse.
Meanwhile their captive, Captain Hannibal Hawkins, observes them from where he is confined, Benito says that he’s going to interrogate him and asks for aid from the rest of the party; feeling unsettled with the notion of interrogation and possible torture of an enemy who cannot fight back, Gunnar sits in to make sure that no dishonourable methods will be used to extract information from their captive. Hannibal Hawkins, is a bald, weather-beaten man who obviously mucks in with his crew and is used to feeling the lash of the elements as he works on deck, he breathes in sharply as he is ungagged since the gag restricted him breathing through his mouth and his nose was still bloody from the fight, he spits on the ground at Benito’s feet.
“It is good to see you” says Benito, attempting to remain conversational
“The feeling is not mutual, how do you come to be here? I was told you were dead – better for you if you were” spits Hawkins
“I’m Captain Benito, you can’t kill me, how do you think I came to become pirate king?” asked Benito glibly
“I don’t know, i’m more an expert on how easy it was to depose you” replies Hawkins with a spluttering cackle
“Cutting, but you’re not really in a position to make insults are you, bound as you are on your own ship that we’ve taken from under your feet?” says Benito
“How do you think the real pirate king will respond when he realises you’re alive?”
“He’ll prob piss his pants and get someone else to deal with it, like he normally does” said Benito with bravado
“Things have changed, there’s a new order in the Sword Isles Benito”
“Who?” asked Benito
“Captain Blythe, he has promised to return the Sword Isles to a position of rulership over the world, as it was before Atlantis sank”
“He’s taking his time”
“Only a fool rushes his plans, as you should know”
Benito asks Hawkins where they were taking the slaves to be sold and Hawkins says that they weren’t selling them to anyone and that he was buying, not selling; they were providing herbs & spices to the Picts in return for the slaves since some of the ingredients are hard to get on the mainline, but the more tropical environment on the Sword Isles are ideal for growing them. Hawkins says that he doesn’t know why the pirate king wants the slaves since he doesn’t reveal his plans to Hawkins.
“So he’s not revealed his plans to you, that is a quite intelligent move on his behalf, for once” says Benito, his opinion of the usurper Pirate King Horningold Blythe obvious in his expression
Hawkins refuses to say anything further, Kron picks him up and carries the beaten pirate lord to the brig of his own ship, securing him soundly in the brig; Gunnar says that, before they deal with any thoughts of what is going on in the Sword Isles, they need to get the survivors back to their village, but before they depart Benito renders the ship unsailable without a few hours work re-tying all of the ropes and supports that he has undone.
Moving back through the tunnels, Horesh becomes aware of his spirit companion as he moves within range and that the villagers are still okay; they enter the cavern leading the survivors from the ship and the young girl Keira is re-united with her mother Kayla, both breaking down in tears of happiness. Gunnar says that they should escort the people back to the remnants of their village and make sure there’s enough for them to survive.
The party begins leading the group of malnourished villagers through the darkness of the Great Forest, Horesh and Gunnar moving carefully whilst Ozuchi and Benito moving ahead quickly, scouting out the way ahead of the group. Ozuchi becomes aware of dark shapes moving just behind the treeline, quietly seeking to surround the party and briefly sees crouched human figures with dimly glowing eyes; he holds his hand up to indicate to the rest of the party that he has seen something and then leaps into the thick foliage of the treeline.
Benito draws his weapon, Kron does likewise whilst moving up to take a defensive position besides the villagers, Horesh draws his daggers; Ozuchi dives towards what he thought was the light glinting off one of the pictish blades, but he finds that it is actually a decoy, a blade deliberately stuck into the tree so as to reflect the light, before he can retreat the stygian feels a jagged flint blade stabbed into him. Captain Benito hears Ozuchi crying a pained oath in stygian, he attempts to assess the situation but can only see silhouettes running through the trees a short distance off; yo Benito the enemies move so silently that they seem less like people and more like spirits of the woods, he has heard tales of the Picts and how they worship strange unclean spirits and perform ceremonies seeking to make them like unto spirits themselves.
Horesh sends his familiar raven spirit into the air so that, via his spiritual link with it, he can get a birds-eye view of the situation; the picts are skillfully blending into the forest (almost supernaturally so) but, sharing the senses of his familiar Horesh can see a pict fighting with Ozuchi, two are closing on himself and Kron whilst a third is drawing near to Benito. Horesh relays what he has seen to Kron; using this information Gunnar strides across the clearing and attacks as a pict rushes out of the undergrowth, the warrior is clearly taken aback that the norsican has seen through his camouflage and Kron swings his hammer at his opponent. The warrior manages to throw itself to one side, avoiding the blow although it drops its knife in the process.
As the warrior fighting Ozuchi prepares to attack, the stygian shaman sees that his opponent seems to be in the grip of the hallucinogenic woad, almost as though looking through him, the look is similar to someone viewing the spirit world; the stygian summons his komodo dragon spirit to join with him, his skin briefly becoming scaley and rough, and easily able to turn aside the knife attack of the pictish warrior. Sparks spray into the air as the pictish knife glances harmlessly off Ozuchi’s skin. Benito runs forwards to help out Ozuchi as he sees the shower of sparks shortly ahead of him, he is taken by surprise when from the undergrowth besides him another warriors bursts out of the foliage, slamming Benito down to the floor and jabbing a thin flint knife into his ribs.
Horesh thinks about running to help Benito but realises that he would be leaving Kron and the villagers at the mercy of two warriors, so he holds his position as another warrior emerges into the clearing; seeing the spirit-stare of the approaching warrior, Horesh briefly wonders if the effects of the hallucinogenic woad goes far deeper then they had previously thought, but he doesn’t have much time to think about it as the pict moves to attack.
Looking for a weakness in his enemy, Horesh takes advantage of his opponents drugged state as he ducks under the blow of the warrior and jabs his twin sacrifical knives into the underside of the pict’s skull who gurgles and topples to the floor dead. Kron leaps to the side of the remaining crouching warrior, as the warrior glances over at his companion meeting an end on the sharp blades of Horesh’s knives, the norsican swings his hammer down, impacting squarely with the pict and slaying him. Further up ahead Ozuchi, still engaged in combat, strikes his opponent in the chest and then, in an impressive display of stygian martial arts, flips the pictish warrior so that his body falls onto his own decoy-weapon, killing him.
Benito pushes off the warrior rolling around with him and, grabbing some of the hanging vines, attempts to swing clear but the pict grabs him and stabs the ex-pirate king in the neck; the warrior leaps clear of Benito’s return blow, scuttling halfway up a tree with it’s flint knife gripping between it’s teeth. Hearing the noises and cries from up ahead Horesh concentrates on the spirit world, summoning a lesser spirit of the forest to aid his companion whilst, being reluctant to leave the villagers, Kron lets out a loud norsican battle-cry in an attempt to distract whatever picts are still fighting; he feels a bestial presence briefly enter his body, making his cry reverberate around the forest as the spirits summoned by Horesh re-inforce his action.
The warrior fighting Benito is scared by the unholy sound, a fearful look entering his eyes; Ozuchi meanwhile runs back into the clearing to where Horesh and Kron are protecting the villagers. The pict leaps from the trees at Benito, his knife held high but Benito neatly sidesteps the attack, avoiding it, spins around and stabs his sword into the chest of the warrior, bringing him a quick death. The forest once again fall quiet, the echo of Kron’s mighty roar still fading slowly, Benito searches the body of the fallen warrior and takes his flint blade from him.
Thinking about the stares of the picts, Ozuchi summons up his ancestral spirits and asks them to reveal to him, what sort of spirit power the pictish warriors are using; all of the birds filling the trees turn to look at Ozuchi, and amongst their cawing, a voice says “The warriors call upon blasphemous creatures of the Outer Darkness, they are not of the spirit world.”
Ozuchi explains to the others that the anient almost mythical empire of Atlantis trafficked with spirits from the Outer Darkness and it destroyed their empire, Benito wondered whether that was what Horiningold Blythe was up to. Benito explains to the others about how the Inner Sea used to be Atlantis, and that the landmass sank after they meddled in forbidden magic creating the Inner Sea and the Sword Isles; most of the atlanteans and their slaves the lemurians were killed but some of their bloodline continued in the modern world, Benito himself has lemurian blood. Benito says that he needs to go home to stop whatever Blythe is up to, but that he can’t do so with the curse still hanging over him; Kron asks Ozuchi and Horesh if they can break the curse and Ozuchi, thinking for a moment, says that the curse is permanent must be extremely powerful and that someone of equal or greater power would be required to remove it.
Ozuchi tells his companions that the more information he has about how the curse was cast, the better; Benito suggests that, one they have made the villagers safe, they return to Hannibal Hawkins and see if he knows anything about it.
Arriving at the burnt out remnants of the village, a number of the survivors break down weeping when they see the dead bodies and the ruins of their former home; both Ozuchi and Gunnar find the experience quite moving, Ozuchi because his home village was destroyed, and Gunnar because he destroyed many such villages before he saw a way to a more honourable life. Feeling a little uncomfortable Benito removes himself from the situation and begins wandering through the wreckage; in the treeline he spots a large flat leafed plant called Arrowleaf that he remembers being used as a ships spice by one of his cooks, he tries a bit and finds it has a peppery taste and has a little heat to it. Benito picks some, planning to dry and grind it and put it in a pouch so it can be thrown in an opponents face to distract them.
Ozuchi goes to begin preparing graves but Kron stops him and suggests it may be better to make a funeral pyre; Ozuchi sells the villagers on the idea of the pyre and they agree to help build it whilst Horesh begins to delicately broach the subject of last rites. Ozuchi suggests to the villagers that they use the ashes of their dead to fertilise the land, blessing it, and keeping the spirits of the dead with them; Horesh leads them in a simple khemrian death prayer as Ozuchi and Kron place the bodies on the pyre, the villagers seem more at peace and have a renewed determination to rebuild their lives and their village. The villagers make some temporary lean to shelters and sit around a fire telling stories about those they have lost, saying that the group will always be welcome in their village.
Calling on his experience of the norsican tradition of oral storytelling, Kron tells a tale of a saxon settlement of the northern edge of Saxony, which was one of the first to be raided by the northern tribes before the horse people existed as a buffer between the two nations. In the story, there were many norsicans who gave into their anger and bestial sides, becoming something more and less than human, becoming berserkers who could shift their shapes into monstrous creatures. Despite their strength these individuals were cast out when their comrades saw the depravities that had been wreaked on this village by the deviants, for the deviants could not stand up against the pure of heart. Kron tells the villagers that they are pure of heart and no evil, no setbacks, can prevent them from rebuilding their village and story, the only thing that can is their own fear.
Horesh leaves his familiar on lookout whilst they all go to sleep. Gunnar Kron awakes first and is helping the villagers move the larger pieces of rubble ready for the rebuilding project; Ozuchi looks around to make sure there is no danger but, given that the picts seem to prefer attacking under cover of darkness, there is little sign of any trouble. Benito approaches Ozuchi as he awakes and says that, noble as helping the villagers is, there is a much larger issue and they should perhaps press on with their efforts to halt whatever nefarious scheme Blythe has afoot; Ozuchi agrees and rounds up the rest of the party, they make their way back to the burial mound and through the tunnels to the small bay where Captain Hawkins is still confined on his ship.
Benito asks Horesh to conjure some spirits to lend support to their attempts to intimidate information out of Captain Hawkins; as they move down the scree slope towards the waters edge, above the sound of tumbling rocks, Horesh hears a human scream coming from inside the boat, he shouts to the others and they break into a run towards the boat. Benito and Kron get to the boat first and jump aboard, drawing weapons and running towards the brig; Kron leaps through the trapdoor drawing his hammer whilst Benito grabs some hanging rigging and swings down after him pulling out his sword.
Hannibal Hawkins is being held up by his throat by a figure of living shadow that is throttling the life out of him; without pause Kron hurls his hammer at the strange, dark elongated figure, it strikes home causing it to drop Hawkins onto the deck. Benito draws his sword and attempts to begin negotiating saying “Now we have your attention”; as it turns towards Kron, part of the oily surface peals back to reveal a skull like head/face. It raises a skeletal hand towards Kron and begins to slowly close it’s fist, the norsican feels an increasing pressure on his heart and cries out in pain as he clasps his chest; Benito’s sword flashes out, aiming for the creatures outstretched arm, it screams and the skull collapses back into the oiley mass of it’s body, although it continues moving.
Horesh drops into the chamber and instantly recognises it as a manifested death spirit that has been summoned and empowered by someone to act as their assassin, he slices out with his daggers, striking the creature, the skeletal hands collapse back into the mass leaving just an amorphous black, thrashing blob that lashes out at Horesh; the khemrian death priest nimbly sidesteps the attack. Bereft of his hammer, Kron glances around and then grabs a barrel before smashing it down on the huge blob, it screams and lies still, before it slowly begins to fade away.
Kron rushes over to Hawkins and sits him up as Ozuchi arrives in the brig, the stygian medicine man examines Hawkins crushed throat; Benito tells Hawkins that, since they’ve saved his life and if he cooperates, they’ll help him, Hawkins nods in response. They give him water and Ozuchi applies some medicinal herbs to help sooth the inflammation of his throat; on a suggestion from Benito they take Hawkins upstairs so that he can take in some of the healthy sea air, this seems to revive him somewhat.
“That thing would seem to have been sent by Blythe since he must have realised that you’ve not been successful” says Benito to the bedraggled pirate as he once again becomes capable of talking, his throat soothed somewhat
“The pirate king does not tolerate failure” splutters Hawkins. Meanwhile Horesh tells them that a lot of power must have been used to allow the spirit to manifest at such a distance, but that the spirit itself was only a lesser spirit; Benito tells Hawkins he needs all the information he has on the curse.
Hawkins tells him that a short time before Benito was deposed that Blythe recovered something from the shores of the Inner Sea, and it was afer that he first started talking about his new world order and making arrangements to overthrow Benito, shortly after this he began to negotiate with the pictish tribes; all Hawkins knows is that the slaves are apparently essential to usher in Blythe’s new age of atlantean supremacy. He tells Benito that somehow Blythe used the blood of lemurians to lay the curse and that the solution might also lie within that blood, Ozuchi nods and says that they need to find some more lemurian and that their best chance for this is to head for a larger settlement to see if they can find an other people with lemurian blood.
To prove he is a better king than Blythe, Benito returns Hawkin’s ship to him on the understanding that he no longer traffic in human lives or have dealings with those who use black magic; Benito threatens to hunt him down if he breaks this bargain and tells him to let people know that the true pirate king still lives, Hawkins agrees. After a short discussion the group decide to head to one of the larger cities of Saxony, and begin heading towards the capitol city of Winchester.

Serpents Fall: The Darkness Beneath – Session 2

Horesh leads the group through the darkness of Celtia’s Great Forest, following the strands of death energy ahead of him, Ozuchi follows behind, his eyes darting over the varied vegetation of the Great Forest, occasionally he pauses to pluck some herbs and roots that he thinks might help with his healing arts. The trees they pass are huge and ancient, having been there for many years before they were born and will no doubt be there long after their deaths; the ground, covered in moss, rises into a burial mound or Tor infront of them. Horesh snaps out of his spirit-trance as they reach the burial mound seen in his vision, he is momentarily disorientated but is re-assured when Gunnar and Ozuchi tell him that he’s bought them to the place where the savage warriors may have come from.
Kron and Ozuchi begin searching the area for tracks and, a few moments later, Ozuchi gives a shout as he spots a concealed wooden entrance to the burial mound covered with moss, Kron congratulates him on a job well done as he pulls the concealing wooden slats aside; the wood covers a tunnel entrance heading down underground at a roughly 45-degree angle, Kron steps forward, hefting his hammer and saying “I’ll lead.”
Inside, the tunnel is narrow, only allowing them to move in single file but they make there way forwards with Kron leading, followed by Ozuchi, Horesh and with Benito bringing up the rear; the peat laden soil is damp and it is dark and cold within the tunnel. Kron keeps a hand on the wall to steady himself and maintain his position, he has them all place a hand on each other’s shoulder to keep the party together should anything unexpected occur. 
Eventually the tunnel widens out into a cavern lined with glowing moss that casts a dim blue light; despite their attempts to remain quiet as they move further into the barrow mound the group are a little bit noisey due to not being able to really see where they are putting their feet. Entering the cavern they can hear a faint sobbing and Kron sees a large cage built of vines and local wood, inside he can just see a number of huddled figures; the norsican warrior peers closer hoping that these are the captives from the small village, unable to see the people clearly Captain Benito hacks a small sheet of the glowing moss from the wall, it dims slightly but still casts light. Benito throws the glowing moss into the cage and, in the increased light, the party can see that there are three women and a couple of children (one male, one female) in the cage, all are malnourished and emaciated.
With the light from the moss fading quickly, Ozuchi looks around and spots a second tunnel leading out of the cavern in an eastern direction; Kron approaches the cage, planning to share his rations with the prisoners, recognising that Kron has the look of a norsican raider the feeble people panic and try to scramble away from him despite his attempts to speak softly with them; realising that he isn’t helping the situation, Kron steps back away. Benito suggests releasing them, thinking that they’ll be able to survive on their own, however Kron points out that, in their weakened states, they may be easy prey for the creatures of the forest; the norsican throws some of his bread ration towards the people and slowly, hunger overwhelming their fear, they move forward and start eating the bread.
Ozuchi asks Benito to keep an eye on the eastern exit from the cage, whilst he slices some moss from the wall and begins to wring moisture from it to quench the thirst of the captives, having eaten and drank a little they begin to regain a little of their colour. Captain Benito smells something strange, an odd, smokey, herblike odour drifting down the eastern tunnel that he stands next to, he moves to stand beside the tunnel entrance so that he can be hidden from view should anyone emerge from the eastern tunnel, there is a loud crunch from beneath his feet, and he looks down to see he’s standing in a shallow recess full of human bones. Benito examines the bones and sees they are recent and appear to have be scored by flint tools that stripped the flesh from them; he shouts to the others that the savages may be cannibals.
Horesh removes his hood and steps forward to speak to the bedraggled villagers, they begin screaming and attempting to scramble to the far side of the cave from Horesh with even more violence than their reaction to Kron; Kron and Benito recognise the look of absolute fear on the eyes of the panicked villagers as Horesh backs off. Benito steps forward and, comforted by Ozuchi’s medicinal skills, the villagers engage him in conversation; one of the children (a blue eyed, young girl with red hair & dry tear tracks down her cheeks) runs towards Benito and accepts some food from him, she asks him whether or not he has seen her mother (describing her as tall with red hair). Benito trys to comfort the child, who explains that her mother was taken by “the men” down the eastern tunnel and that the men have been taking villagers down the tunnel at intervals, they have heard horrible noises, screaming and laughter from down the tunnel.
Trying to establish why the people panicked at Horesh’s presence Ozuchi mentions the word Khemri but they don’t appear to respond, Benito asks the young girl why they were scared of Horesh, she apologises and says that they thought he was one of the dark men who have been taking them away; Kron feels anger growing inside him at the thought of these warriors preying on innocent women and children who cannot fight back, he says that there might still be survivors and that, if they were taken down the tunnel, then that’s where the party needs to go.
Kron opens the cage whilst Benito advises the villagers that it might be in their best interest to wait until they return so that they can guide them back in safety; the young girl appears to have taken a bit of a shine to Benito and the villagers agree to wait. Horesh leaves his familiar raven behind, relying on his spiritual link with it to inform him should the villagers face any future peril, and they begin to continue their exploration with Horesh now in the lead.
The herby, smokey smell begins to grow stronger and more pungent as they move further down the darkening tunnel, Kron speculates that perhaps the savages are sacrificing the villagers in some sort of religious ceremony; as the smoke thickens the party pull strips of cloth over their noses, unfortunately the fumes catch Ozuchi by surprise and his pupils dilate as he begins to feel the effects of the strange narcotic fumes come over him, causing the shadows and drips of water to form into dancing, geometric shapes. Benito wraps a piece of cloth around the dazed Ozuchi’s face to prevent him inhaling further fumes as the sound of distant drumming reaches their ears from further down the tunnel.
Benito looks at the others, saying “Should we get ready for a fight boys?”
“I’m always ready, I was born ready,” responds Kron gruffly.
The tunnel splits in two with the smell of the fumes far stronger from one of the tunnels, travelling down it (with Horesh moving a bit ahead) the tunnel opens into a side chamber, there is a flickering fire in the chamber and sat around it are are three savage black, woaded tribesmen; two of them are muscley warriors whilst the third is a scrawny, wiry figure wearing a rams skull atop his head. The thin figure is tattooing one of the warriors with a strange oily black substance being melted in the fire, the design is a strange intricate geometric one.
Horesh heads back to the group and explains what is occurring, he then peers into the spirit world and perceives the spirits of maddening fury that populate the tunnels, he summons a spirit that resembles a skeletal man but with an animals skeletal head and persuades it to aid them in their fight agaist the savages. Kron charges forwards into the cavern, hefting his hammer and growling a savage norse war-cry; in response the shaman reaches a hand into the embers of the fire and blows a handful of ash and dust into the charging vikings face. Briefly Kron feels like someone is exerting pressure on his skull and mind, but he shrugs it off the sorcerors mental attack, leaps the fire, grabs the shaman and crushes his head against the wall with his hammer.
Still under the effect of the fumes Ozuchi engages the warrior who easily evades his inebriated attack but is unable to land a blow on him, Benito swaggers across to the same warrior and, as the warrior swings at Ozuchi, lops his arm off and then slices his throat, the warrior topples dead into the fire. The remaining warrior leaps at Captain Benito but the pirate manages to avoid his attack, Ozuchi attempts to take out the warrior with his stygian martial arts but the influence of the fumes has slowed him and the warrior avoids his attack, pulling a burning log from the fire and swinging at him.
Ozuchi’s komodo dragon spirit and the skeletal figure that Horesh negotiated with earlier grab hold of the warrior as he swings, pulling him backwards and meaning that only a slight blow lands on Ozuchi; Horesh pulls out his twin ceremonial daggers and, being skilled with the ceremonial death knives, delivers a vicious slash to the warriors midriff. As the warrior steps sideays to avoid further cuts from Horesh, Gunnar Kron steps inside his guard and smashes his hammer into the savage’s ribcage, throwing him across the cavern where he slides to the floor dead.
With the fight over Benito searches the shaman and finds that he is holding a long antler/bone needle with a reservoir carved into it that contains some of the thick black substance; near the fire is a carved wooden bowl also containing some of the black ichor, the scent they have been smelling emanates from it; Benito takes the needle and looks at Ozuchi who is slowly starting to recover himself, he asks him to examine the substance in the bowl. Ozuchi believes it to be a narcotic mixture of poisonous berries, herbs and snake venom – it’s a dilute poison that, in the correct dose, causes hallucination and makes the taker immune to pain.
Kron looks over the bodies of the warriors, thinking that perhaps they are from the village and were mind-controlled, one of them does look similar to the locals whilst the other looks vaguely norsican; Gunnar lays them to rest and whispers an apology to their gods since he was forced to kill them and that they didn’t know what they were doing. Horesh uses his spiritual connection with his familiar and finds that the villagers left back in the initial cave still seem to be fine; the group returns to the other passageway and begin exploring it, the wall of the cave begins to become more damp with thin rivulets of water dripping down the walls as they move further down it. The khemrian death-priest realises that they must be travelling underneath the Spiritwood river that rivers eastwards through the Great Forest of Celtia.
As they continue moving Captain Benito gets a strange stomach churning feeling as they draw closer to the Inland Sea and recognises the effects of his curse; the feeling grows as they move down the tunnel, as he mentions his feeling Ozuchi urges them to press on and reluctantly Benito agrees. Kron grunts and says “We have to press on, there may be survivors,” Benito agrees but urges caution, worried about the stability of the tunnel given the weight of water on top of them. As he starts feeling progressively works Benito pulls out the tattoo needle and asks Ozuchi whether or not the stygian medicine man believes that he could safely dose him with a small dose of the hallucinogen in order to counteract (temporarily) his curse.
Ozuchi administers the poison and Benito feels slightly fatigued from the effects, but there is at least some relief from the feeling of nauseous bought on by his curse. The group emerge from a cave mouth into a small, sheltered bay partway up a scree slope on the southeast shore of Celtia where it meets the Inner Sea; a storm is raging out at sea, but the weather in the bay itself is curiously calm, a small ship bobs up and down on the waters of the bay.
Horesh hears the sound of movement from within the bay and peers out of the cave mouth, he sees a couple of the savage warriors herding some ragged villagers towards the gangplank up onto the ship; a black robed corsair beckons for them to be bought onboard. As he emerges Benito notices that the flag on the ship flies the flag of the Black Eye, emblem of Captain Hannibal Hawkins – an atlantean descended pirate who was one of the first to flock to Blythe’s banner and call for Benito’s overthrow. With his knowledge of ships Benito estimates that the pinnace could be crewed by up to 60 men and has a compliment of ten cannons – Benito shouts this to them as they scramble down the slope towards the ship.
The crew of the ship spot the group, the five cannons facing them are craned upwards and fire at them, a cannonball impacts near Benito and Ozuchi spraying them with razor shards of rock that slice their flesh whilst another glances Horesh’s arm causing it to fall limply by his side with a sickening crunch; Gunnar Kron is struck a glancing blow by one of the cannonballs tearing the beach to shreds around him and lets out an irritated howl as he hefts his hammer and continues running towards the boat. The crew on the boat begin to reload the cannons as the group run towards them; Ozuchi sprints across the beach, dodging the two warriors, running into the surf to the bottom of the gangplank, Benito follows after him shouting “Get inside the range of the cannons, they won’t be able to shoot us!”
Kron runs towards the warriors but his anger at the recent cannonball strike causes him to over-extend himself and the savage lashes out, slicing into Kron with a razor-sharp flint knife, whilst Horesh begins to summon one of the spirits of the water, offering it a future favour in return for it’s aid. The two warriors turn on Gunnar Kron, drawing their flint knives, but Kron easily avoids their blows. On the ship Ozuchi knocks a load of barrels over, the cannoneers let out a cry and begin to stumble over the rolling barrels; capitalising on this Benito leaps up onto the railing, cuts a rope and swings across the deck, slicing a mans throat before landing on a barrel and pedalling it across the deck. Stabbing out with his sword, Benito makes short work of the ten cannoneers on this side of the deck, the ten on the other side begin reaching for their weapons.
Distracted by the pain of his arm, Horesh is unable to land a blow on the warrior attacking Kron; as the warrior leaps forward, knife raised, to attack Horesh, Kron leans forward and swings his hammer, catching the warrior in the stomach and killing him. The remaining savage moves to attack Kron but the seaweed and water seems to bubble and come alive around him, pulling the savage back and causing his blow to miss Kron as the spirit of the water makes it’s presence felt. Ozuchi leaps up and swings one of the ships sails towards the remaining cannoneers, as they duck to avoid it Benito snags one of the ropes from the sails and swings past them, slaying four of the cannoneers; the remaining warrior fighting in the surf deftly avoids the blows aimed at him by Horesh and Kron.
The surviving six cannoneers attempt to pull Benito down from the rope he is holding and stab him, but the flamboyant Captain pushes off, swinging the sail back over to the other side of the deck and carrying him away from his assailants; dropping into a martial arts stance, Ozuchi manages to hold his own as the cannoneers surround him, their weight of numbers begin to show however and they slowing start dragging down the stygian medicine man.
As the weight of his injuries are starting to show on Kron, Horesh leaps on the remaining warrior and stabs his knife into the man’s skull, killing him; Kron nods and begins limping up the gangplank.
Benito grabs one of the torches from a now abandoned cannon as he swings back onto the deck and hurls it at one of the robed cannoneers, catching his clothing on fire; capitalising on this distraction Ozuchi dispatches the remaining cannoneers using his knowledge of Stygia martial arts, flipping them into the water. Captain Benito begins looking for the captain of the boat, meanwhile Horesh leads the surviving villagers out from where they have been hiding under the gangplank, he spots a woman with green eyes and red hair and explains that they have freed her daughter; the woman almost faints with happiness and relief.
Suddenly the trapdoor to the lower decks bursts open and a barrel chested man with a peg leg and tattoos across his arms, head and back strides through; Benito doesn’t recognise him personally but, due to the way that the man is carrying himself, he believes him to be the captain of the ship, the muscley figure bellows “You dare to trespass on my ship!”
Ever ready with a witty report Benito snaps back “Well i’m the king of the Scarlet Brotherhood so that makes it my ship,” before attempting to punch the muscular figure, it barely seems to phase him, and in response the man pulls out a belaying pin and smashes Benito in the face, bruising beginning to rise almost instantly on the injured pirate’s face. Ozuchi ducks under the Captain’s arm and jabs the poisoned needle into it, causing him to stagger slightly. Benito uses the pommel of his sword to push the needle further into the muscular Captain’s body, he remains standing, although he appears to be struggling; the Captain swings his belaying pin, it connects with Benito’s head and there is a sickening crunching of bone. Suddenly, from nowhere, Kron launches his hammer towards the mighty figure of the Captain, it strikes his shoulder and drives him down onto one knee; seizing the advantage Ozuchi leaps forward attempting to deliver an incapacitating blow but the Captain manages to roll out of the way.
Staggering, Benito drives his sword through the Captain’s shoulder, piercing flesh and pinning the hulking figure to the deck, knocking him out with a final elbow to the face; Benito nods, satisfied, before pausing to relieve him of a ruby signet ring with a dark imperfection in it (as well as the finger it was worn on).
With the threat removed Ozuchi begins trying to patch up his companions injuries; as he finishes the only injuries remaining are Benito’s patched up skull, Ozuchi’s cut arm and Kron’s bandaged skull. With their pain somewhat relieved the group search the ship and find numerous slaves of various extractions below deck, when freed they all tell the same tale of being taken captive by the Dark Corsairs (as they call them); as a final act of defiance Benito replaces the flag on the ship with his own pirate emblem.

Serpents Fall: Fires in Celtia – Session 1

As part of my effort to move the information on my Fate Accelerated fantasy S&S game Serpents Fall onto a tiddlywiki for ease of reference i’ve finally started typing up the session videos into a written form, presented below for people who are interested but don’t have time to watch the videos (or who just prefer written descriptions).
The original video of the session is split into three part.

As the sun begins to raise of the land of Serpents Fall, Ozuchi Komodo, shaman of a stygian tribe that had fallen to attack by norsican warriors, travelled through the lands of Celtia, at his side walked the muscular figure of Gunnar Kron, one of the very same warriors that had attacked his tribe; but something about the attack had not sat well with Gunnar and at the last minute he had changed his mind and now accompanied Ozuchi who, as a medicine-man could sense the huge norsican’s sincerity and desire to change. Ozuchi knew that Gunnar wanted to make amends for his past in the same way that he knew the khemrian death-priest Horesh Komani who accompanied them and was bent on mastering the mysteries of the bleak lands was estined to help him re-unite the fractured people of both their nations. Rounding off the group was the flamboyant figure of Captain Benito, a once Pirate King from the Sword Isles who had travelled to Stygia seeking respite from a curse that forever denied him the ability to sail upon the seas, although he had not found what he had sought, the pirate had found companionship in the three people he walked besides,
On the southern edge of celtia, just before the land was swallowed up by the Great Forest, Horesh (who had been feeling distinctly uncomfortable away from the dry, death saturated wastes of his home) sensed a familiar energy nearby, calling to his companions to alert them to the presence of death nearby somewhere he suggested that they investigate; Ozuchi summoned his familiar to him, a spirit in the shape of a komodo dragon and directed it to seek out the nearby death. As the spirit slithered away both Horesh and Ozuchi eagerly followed it whilst Gunnar and Benito, a little more skeptical regarding the ways of the spirits, followed along behind them, Benito hacking thin boughs out of the way with his sword. Suddenly Gunna paused as he smelt a familiar odour up ahead, the burning of wood, charred flesh and scorched straw and for a moment his mind flashed back to the many burning villages and homes that he had left in ruin behind him during his past as a bloody handed reaver; darting forward the viking warrior put out a hand to stop Ozuchi and Horesh, warning them that someone was sacking a village nearby and that they should go no further without a plan.
Horesh dispatches his own familiar, an imp in bird form, to fly ahead and investigate, it returns and informs it’s master that there are a number of burning buildings up ahead of them; hearing the news Ozuchi leads the party through the trees towards the increasing smell of smoke. As they enter a large clearing the the smell of blood and scorched flesh hangs heavy in the air, they can see a village of about eight roundhouses, it appears to have been burnt some times ago and now little more than embers remain. Benito hears a groan from one of the burning buildings, he indicates for the others to be quiet before carefully making his way towards the sound, he finds a young, muscular man lying on the floor surrounded by corpses, a flint headed spear impales him through the chest and a whistling of air from the injured man attests to a punctured lung. The man clutches the spear as though trying to pull it free but he has not got the strength and appears to not be long for this world, Benito gives the man a sip of water out of his flask and asks him what happened. Gasping through ruined lungs the man manages to them that they were attacked by some raiders from out of the trees and that they took the women and children before murdering everyone else; barely conscious the man tells them that the attackers were savages from the wood wearing strange black woad and that they fought like demons but that they were not the local celts.
Using his skills as a medicine man and, realising that the man is beyond saving, Ozuchi makes him as comfortable as he can whilst Horesh performs a funery rite over him, siphoning some of the death power into himself to strengthen him for the trials ahead; meanwhile Kron examines the other bodies and finds that the villagers are farmers and migrants from other nations rather than warriors. Benito examines the spear used to kill the man, he remembers legends from his time as king of the scarlet brotherhood (an organisation that has raised bragging and tall tales to an artform) when a drunken sailor told him about the dark corsairs, a terrifying spectral force of raiders clad in black cloth & covered in black tattoos. the mention of the tattoos in the tale seemed similar to the description of the savage attackers who razed the village; the spear is carved with runes rubbed with berry juice to stain them black, Benito takes a copy of them on a piece of parchment.
Kron explores the ruins of the village, reflecting on his past and how before he never had to see the aftermath of his bloody doings; he notices there are no woman and children amongst the dead, but some of the bodies have strange symbols carved into them, looking more closely he can see the bodies appear to have been laid out specifically after death for some reason he can’t divine, he returns to the others & reports his findings. Horesh sends his familiar flying up into the air to get a birdseye view of the bodies whilst the, ever financially motivated Benito, begins searching around for the village supply store; he eventually locates a burnt out hut containing bags of grains and seeds, all apparently untouched by the raiders.
As it begins getting dark, Ozuchi begins checking the perimeter of the village looking for footprints or any sign of the raiders, through his spirit companion he senses fear and trepidation and he glimpses shapes moving amongst the trees; suddenly a spear is hurled out of the darkness, slicing his arm and he lets out a cry in his native language; hearing the cry, Horesh signals to his familiar to find out what is wrong with Ozuchi and a few moments later it returns, flying into him, knocking Horesh off his feet, it looks terrified, the creature tells Horesh that they need to get out quickly. Horesh tells the others something evil occurring and, as he does so, Ozuchi runs back towards the rest of the party, his arm still leaking blood; Benito draws his saber, his eyes scanning the treeline, he can just glimpse pinpoints of red light amongst the trees, attempting to intimidate the people lurking in the trees, he neatly side-steps another thrown spear, chopping it in two with his saber.
Horesh and Kron are cut by spears thrown at them whilst Ozuchi narrowly ducks under the one thrown at him and dives into cover amongst the ruins, the khemrian death-priest Horesh calls on his knowledge of the spirit world and summons up a spectral flock of birds; as he begins to bargain for their aid, Gunnar Kron pulls himself up to his full height, drawing his two hammers and preparing for combat. Shadowy, savage figures begin stalking out of the trees, primitives clad in rough furs and their skin stained with black tattooing and woad, a dull red glow seems to emanate from their eyes; attuned to the spirit world Horesh & Ozuchi can perceive the dim red outline of a strange bat-like entity superimposed over the tribesmen. Benito flamboyantly steps out, his saber flashing, the primitives seem unimpressed and one of them lashes out with a flint dagger, slicing into Captain Benito’s flesh.
Horesh begins to negotiate with the flock spirit, he offers to owe it a favour if it will it will aid him in this battle; Horesh agrees and the flock spirit flutters into the combat area, filling it with flapping wings and distracting the savage primitives, seizing on this Kron seeks a morale advantage by targeting the lead tribesman (currently attacking Benito) and hurling one of his hammers at the savage, it strikes home, shattering the skull of the leader who collapses to the ground dead. Seeing their leader slain the other savages lose heart and begin fleeing back into the trees with the party in pursuit. Kron and Ozuchi catch up with a couple of the savages, Kron attempts to shoulder barge one into a tree but the primitive is too fast and escapes, leaving Kron holding a scrap of symbol inscribed fur. Ozuchi brings down his quarry with his stygian martial arts and, with the help of Kron, is able to restrain the freakishly strong savage.
With the savage tribesman restrained Horesh attempts to examine the red spirit lingering over him whilst the rest of the group attempt to interrogate the cursing savage, after Kron uses his hammer to shatter the kneecaps of the savage, Horesh senses that the red spirit is something strange and cold like nothing he’s ever felt before; breaking the connection Horesh warns the others that the savage is possessed by some kind of old, strange dark spirit. Ozuchi attempts to communicate with the savage, threatening that if he doesn’t take them to where the villagers are, Horesh will tear the spirit from him, sundering his soul; in halting common-tongue the warrior spits at Ozuchi saying that he lies, claiming that only Fidach can summon the spirits and give them their strength. Kron asks if fidach was the (now slain) leader, at which the warrior laughs and says that Fidach would not be slain by a mere hammer, frowning at this description of his mighty weapon, Kron smashes the man’s other kneecap. With a grim sense of resolve Horesh says “someone end his life and I will take the information we need from his escaping soul.”
Nodding, Kron tells the others to release their broken prisoner, who collapses on his broken legs; they watch in mounting horror as there is a series of crunching sounds and the warriors legs begin to snap back into their previous positions, not wanting to risk facing whatever devilry is at work here Kron slays the warrior brutally, upper-cutting him with his hammer. As the savage’s soul escapes to the afterlife, Horesh inhales the essence of the death and sees a series of images showing the rough location of their camp, inside a dark burial mound or tor in a dim part of the forest; he starts following the directions from his vision with the rest of the party behind him.