Tuesday, March 8, 2011


"I abjure your authority and the despot you serve! So speaks Wolverhampton the Seventh Incarnation of the Red Knight who did found this kingdom!  In the name of Blackpool, Wigan, Fulham, Everton, Tottenham, Bolton and Stoke, I will smite you down!"

Alec the Warlord
Thus spake the rebel paladin as his blood reached a boil under the sinister condescension of the tattooed strongman of Fircrest.  The Company of the Verdant Glade was poised for action and followed through with a cavalcade of devastating violence mildly echoed by the efforts of the Retinue of Glorn so recently converted to the side of justice. 

The savage dragon man had prepared his assassination well and so the tattooed emissary found himself choking on the stuff of shadows even as the devilish Amul Fey called forth his hexed blade newly rededicated to the service of the Lady and brought it down upon his hapless pate.  Alec the Warlord called out orders and Jetberry hurled such insults that men shriveled at the touch of her scorching wit.

In moments it was over and the surviving men-at-arms of Fircrest had surrendered.  Four men were taken prisoner and bound by Luftenant Devlin and his men.  It was then that the discombobulated head of the ancient merchant Sasha appeared and beckoned the triumphant warriors to nearby treeline.

There the companions beheld a curious site.  A spectral serpent of flame twisted about in the air, bound by a circle of runes carved into the loam of the forest floor.  The serpent was apparently an old acquaintance of the the Warlord, the Bard and their Dragon friend, one who's alliance they had rejected some months before.  Now the serpent (who seemed to be in fact the avatar of the dread wizard Mordant) reiterated his entreaties for the heroes to cast aside their aspirations and instead sell their services for "great reward", mocking them for their short sighted-ness for could they not see that he had many schemes and much power? 

Some of the more clever members of the party toyed with the snake for awhile, asking what tasks he wanted accomplished and how they might come to an agreement.  It seemed the wizardly serpent merely wanted the return of a bag of bones won in the battle of the Orc Tree.  Not likely.  Jetberry had been using those to teach grifters' tricks to Kage.  Alec the Warlord was not impressed.  He shouted at the apparition that its false offers grew tiresome.  Its plots would be exposed by the Swords of the Glade.

After holding his peace, Wolverhampton finally spoke with his hammer.  He swung the maul through the soft earth before the serpent, ruining the runes of magic and banishing his presence. 

While looting the bodies of the defeated, performing proper burials and preparing to abscond, the companions discussed all they had learned and the questions they still had.

It seemed Fircrest had been infiltrated by the Cult of Io, a nefarious organization of serpent worshipers that had been a political factor in the southern islands for many centuries.  In fact, the weightless bust blamed this very organization for his long past petrification.  They wish to awaken a god, sleeping or dead. 

The red paladin was reminded of an old adage of the Red Knight: "Many things are worshiped.  Not all are gods.  It is not gods who threaten, but injustice.  We will battle them all."

According to the captured soldiers and the necrotic pendants they wore, the true power of Fircrest was not Hector Greymane, but in fact a Necromancer named Mordant, possibly the one last glimpsed fleeing the Orc Tree and few weeks prior.  It would be necessary to question these prisoners further, but they would be treated with civility and tea.

Plans were discussed as they Company of the Verdant Glade stole into the Blackburn Forest by quiet byways: 
  1. Perhaps they could find the old Hermit who long ago told the Prophecy of the Once and Future King.  Perhaps they could disguise their entry to the town of Fircrest and find what tidings are there.  
  2. Perhaps a gift of venison may be made to the Tiller family or one more deserving.  What blight issues forth from the castle? 
  3. Perhaps allies may be found amongst the populace.  It is said that the Father of the Church is not a vassal of the Castle.  
  4. Perhaps inspiration might be found amongst the Crypts of the Ancients or in the Shrine of the Red Knight.  
  5. Perhaps Steed of Dream may be ridden up the river and under the Castle gate.  
  6. Perhaps other opportunities might present themselves.  
It was all to be played for.  Wolverhampton was salivating with anticipation of noble victory.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It Begins with Justice

In the aftermath of the Battle of Glorn's Crossing, it was apparent to Wolverhampton that Kage the  Assassin was still thirsty for blood.  The clever lizardman had been frustrated by the quarter given to the bandits of the Crossing, a habit so rare when fighting monsters in the howling wilderness.  Now he was determined to execute the whole lot.

Wolverhampton could not let this happen, for he knew from the Annals of the Red Knight that to begin a campaign with a massacre is not a good omen.  It is better to end with a massacre, and so a massacre now would mean an end rather than a beginning and therefore not a good idea.

Wolverhampton did confuse himself while reciting the received wisdom of the Red Knight, but he was sure of one thing: "Let us not execute them all, but rather give trial to the worst, punish them as a public spectacle, and then spare the rest.  That way the bards will sing of our heroism, mercy, and the bringing of the Red Rule of Law to the land, taking the place of the decrepit hand of necromancy that lurks behind the walls of Castle Fircrest!"

Kage was sanguine, "Fine human.  I will humor you.  Then I will blast a bandit in the face with my fiery breath!"

Jetberry gave charity to the downtrodden women of the Inn, and sent a few of them to the Realm of the Sunstaff for training in the arts of Companionship, for she had been contacted by a clandestine spy of the Lady of the Shawl, Mortisha, and a relationship, if not and alliance was broached.

And so the Company of the Verdant Glade left Glorn's Crossing triumphant in arms and honor, and leaders of company of men, for seven had bent their knee to the cause of the Peoples' Liberation of Blackburn.

Now they marched to visit the Wisewoman Maude of Tameril and inform her of her own lineage and of the impending crusade.  Maude was welcoming and kind but unconvinced of the wisdom and righteousness of Peoples' Crusade.  Nor was she suitably impressed by the evidence of her patrimony. "My place is here now, not in Westfall."

Wolverhampton was not concerned with the woman's prevarication and impatient to draw his sword again in righteous battle.  Word came to his ears that the waterways downstream of Blackburn had been contaminated and he knew in his heart that the culprit was the oozing bile of iniquity that laired in his ancestral keep.  Avaunt!

Some days of travel later, the Peoples' Company rested at the Sheppard's Inn, in the Highlands above Fircrest.  Assassin and Bard enjoyed a warm bed while Wolverhampton the Wanderer slept with his retainers in the huts out back, retelling again the legends of the Red Knight.

The morn would be a day of reckoning!