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The late evening sun is setting when the gates of Fallcrest come into view.  The gatehouse and walls look to be well repaired and manned.  A couple of soldiers can be seen manning the towers above the gates while a burly dwarf in a guardsman uniform watches travelers with a grim eye.

“He’s getting worse.” Jui looks to Ravnus from the wagon.  “I can’t say how much longer he’ll hold on.”

Ravnus rides on ahead to the gate.
“Open up, please, and hurry. There’s a man who is hurt, perhaps dying. He needs a healer!”

The dwarf doesn’t seem to be inclined to move and stares up at Ravnus, “That’s as may be, neighbor, but don’t nobody get through here without me giving it a looksee.  Hold up that wagon there.”

Ravnus scowls at the dwarf, “Fool. If he dies, it’ll be on your head!”

Ravnus considers another rout, and goes on, “Look, you seem like a reasonable sort, and intelligent. You can keep a crossbow trained on me or something, and then inspect the man as he goes by. His wounds are quite obvious. I’ll even stay here until you’re completely satisfied. Would that suffice?”

“Yeah.  If he’s a trick to smuggle in something, it’s on my head too.  Pull up.”  The dwarf stands in the way.  “Otto!  Stand by to fetch a healer!”

“Aye, Sarge!”  Comes a voice from the top of the tower.

Ianto obediently stops the cart so the dwarf can hop up into the back of it.  The stout dwarf pulls himself up.  “What happened to him?”  He takes a quick look around and then hops off the cart.

“Otto, open the gates and fetch ol’ Grundelmar!”

“I believe he was shot by goblins,” is Ravnus’ reply to the dwarf’s question.

The gate swings open.

Ravnus stares at the dwarf. He had seen one once before, part of a merchant mission from the mountains. This one looked very different from the one he’d seen, however. His curiosity won’t let him stop staring at the dwarf, marvelling at its features

“How far back are these goblins?  Them wounds look fresh.”  The dwarf returns Ravnus’s stare.  “What’s wrong with you, boy?  Ain’t never seen someone pretty as me?”

Ravnus is taken back, and it takes a moment for him to be sure that the dwarf is kidding.

He shakes his head, “apollogies. The goblins could be right on our tail, for all I know. They could have gotten here ahead of us, seeing as they got to him before we did.”

The dwarf waves the wagon through the gates.  “Take him to the House of the Sun, driver.  The priest should meet you on the way.”  Ianto nods and snaps the reins to get the horses moving again.

“Mind staying a mite longer and easing some of my curiosity?”  The dwarf asks while gripping Ravnus’s mount’s halter.  “Goblins is a worrisome subject.”

Ravnus looks after the wagon, but shrugs.

“Certainly. I’m not of any use to that man now. Only the Gods can save him.”

“What can I tell you?”

“Your name for starters.  Mine’s sergeant Murgeddin.”  The dwarf says.  “Then perhaps you might fill me on the finding of that fellow.”

“Ravnus Rai-Moorhouse, at your service,” says Ravnus. He then goes on to tell the dwarf all he can recall about the circumstances of finding the wounded man.

“Well, that’s damned unnerving.  Goblins in those numbers.”  Murgeddin shakes his head.  “You going to be in town for a spell?  Captain might have some questions if the Rider don’t pull through.”

“For a while; exactly how long I can’t say. I’m doing a survey of this fair land of yours,” says Ravnus trying to emulate the dwarf’s dry sense of humor.

Murgeddin raises an eyebrow. “Well, in that case, there’s the Silver Unicorn or the Nentir Inn.  The Unicorn is a mite pricey for a mere sergeant but it’s on this side of the river.  The Nentir’s a favorite of the less lofty and is right across the Five Arch Bridge.  If you don’t mind letting one of the gate guards know where you’ll be staying, Captain won’t have to go searching all over for you.”

“The Unicorn sounds more my style,” says Ravnus with a grin. “The captain can call on me there. Thanks for your hospitality.”

“I’ll let him know.”  The dwarf looks back at the empty road behind Ravnus.  “Now get on in with ya.  You’re blocking traffic.”

************************

While not as well-lit as the southern cities at night, Fallcrest is far from dark.  There are lanterns outside most buildings and it seems the Lord Warden has had lamps placed at cross streets.  Ravnus sees a few boys refilling the oil reserves on these lamps as he rides through the town.  The Silver Unicorn is right inside the northern gate of the town, while Ravnus entered through the eastern gate.

The proprietor of the Inn is a matronly halfling who introduces herself as Wisara and shows Ravnus to his rooms which are quite comfortably apportioned.  She does take his 2 silver crowns in payment first.  All in all, he spends a comfortable night.

The next morning he is enjoying his breakfast when a well-dressed man enters the common room and approaches.  The gentleman is tall and ruddy in the extreme, almost red in point of fact.  “Kelvin Azaer, at your service.  Might you be Adept Ravnus Rai-Moorehouse?”

Ravnus raises his eyebrows, “Yes, I am he. you are of the house of Azaer?”

“I am.  I am.” Kelvin smiles, revealing slightly pointed teeth. “Mind if I join you, Adept?”

“Please do,” Ravnus gestures to the seat across from him. “Thank you for meeting me.”

“No thanks are needed.  My dear sisters says to go meet with a certain gentleman from the south, that is what I do, as an adoring and faithful brother.  It is only right, wouldn’t you say?”  He sits down and waves to Wisara.  “Madame!  A glass of wine and some breakfast, if you please.”  Wisara nods with a grimace and hustles through the kitchen door.

“I don’t think she likes me much.” Kelvin whispers.

“I’d have to concur,” says Ravnus. “Why in the world would that be? Is she the sort that is jealous of her betters?”

Kelvin grins.  “I doubt it but it is possible.  I think it is more likely because of my breeding.  It makes her uncomfortable, an unfortunate if all too common reaction.”

“Ah, I should have expected such a parochial response so far from the city,” says Ravnus. “So, is your sister well? Will I be able to meet her at some point?”

“Amara is quite well.  Thank you for asking.”  Kelvin accepts his wine and food from Wisara as she returns.  “She told me to extend her greetings and to… I quote… be as helpful as is reasonable.  So, my cultured friend, how may House Azaer be of service to you?”  He takes a drink and begins to cut a slice of bread.

“Well, I was hoping you might have some records I might review, historical or educational in nature, that might give me some clues as to where to go next on my hunt for things arcane,” says Ravnus with a slight smile.

“We might at that.  Is there anything in particular that you are searching for?  For general knowledge, old Aiden is a reliable, if somewhat cranky, fount of knowledge.”

“Aiden? Who is he?” Asks Ravnus.

“Well, my friend, he’s all that’s left of the now nearly defunct Fallcrest Mage’s Guild.”  Kelvin chews slowly before continuing.  “Seems the rest of his fellows had the poor luck to go and get themselves killed in the Bloodspear War some years ago.  Left our dear Aiden as the last member of his order.”

“Ah, I see. That is a shame,” says Ravnus, still working on his breakfast.

“Where can I find the chap?”

“He’s in the Septarch’s Tower generally, unless he’s boring the Lord Warden to death with tales of past glories.”  He gestures towards Ravnus with his fork.  “Now, the Septarch’s Tower would be an interesting place to take a look around.  Not that old Aiden is going to let one of my ilk anywhere near the place.”

“He shares the town’s prejudice?” queries Ravnus.

Kelvin grins.  “Not so much.  I think he just doesn’t like me. You see…  To me there are many ‘ilks’ in the world and you likely, being an urbane sort, share the same perception.  To Septarch Aiden, however, there are only two ‘ilks’ that matter.” Kelvin swallows some wine.  “Those of a serious and studious nature… and then those like me.”

“Ah,” says Ravnus with a raise of the eyebrows. “Well we won’t hold that against him, will we?”

He smiles at his breakfast partner.

“I’ll ask my sister about other reading material for you.  Off hand though, the Misttower is the only overtly ‘arcane’ place I know of.”  He smiles over his glass.  “You are welcome to tag along next time we send a trading expedition north if you want to see it.”

“Indeed I would,” says Ravnus, wiping his face as he finishes breakfast. “Thanks for the offer. Is there anything I can do for you or your sister in return for your gracious help?”

“Make ol’ Aiden invite me to dinner at the tower?”

“I’ll see what I can do. I may know some magic, but there are limits to one’s powers, you know,” he says with an enigmatic grin.

“Well then, we’ll just hold off on repayment until we’ve done something more than just words.”  Kelvin says.  “In the meantime, try the wine.  It is actually quite good here.”

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Just as a disclaimer, these posts are pretty much verbatim from the IRC log.  If they don’t read like excellent fiction that’s because playing a role-playing game doesn’t actually produce a novel.  It might produce interesting characters and a great plot but just reading how all of it comes together is not likely to read like a good book.

The most I’ve done is clean up the extraneous crap IRC logs have thrown in them and I’ve substituted character names for he/she/it when necessary to make it easy to tell who is doing what or saying what.

The nice thing about this is that you can tell pretty much exactly what the game looked like at the session.  If reading the Actual Play post gets you interested or excited about the game, then you’d probably enjoy participating.  Not only that, we’d love to have you on board.  You can find me, Andrew, on the MagicStar IRC network on the #indierpgs channel lots of times during the week.  I’m also easily contacted via email, if you’d like to talk about joining us.

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Though midday and mid-summer, the sun just doesn’t seem to be a hot as it was in Greatharbor.  The caravan drovers traveling with Ravnus seem to think the day quite warm, as they labor on down the King’s Road towards Fallcrest.  Ianto, the caravan master, is spurring his horse towards Ravnus and that rarely is a good omen.

Ravnus quickly moves behind a cart. He assumes that the man is barreling somewhere and he is in the way. If he wants to run him down, then he can still do it, but will have to ram the cart in the process as well. After all, how well does Ravnus know these people?

Ianto pulls his horse up next to Ravnus.  His face is sweaty and pinched as he leans his paunch forward ungainly in his saddle. One of the wagon drivers rolls his eyes as Ianto nearly fell just bring his animal to a stop.

“Adept Ravnus…”  Ianto says, trying to right himself.

Ravnus nods, patiently awaiting whatever Ianto has to tell.

Ianto finally gets himself back solidly on his horse.  “Yes… um…  We’ve spotted a horse and what looks to be a wounded man, off the road up ahead.”  He clears his throat.  “Well… these are dangerous parts and I thought you might be willing to… um… you know… conjure whether it’s safe to check it out.  Don’t want no trouble.”

Ravnus passes his hand over his face, pressing it about as he muses the suggestion.

“Perhaps,” he says. “But I do not guarantee the results, when pressed for time.”  He reaches into the cart for one of his packs, pulls the top open, and begins rummaging about inside of it.

Ianto fiddles with his reins and looks unhappy with that announcement but then he generally seems unhappy.  It might be his normal expression.

After a few moments Ravnus brings out a smaller bag, emptying the contents – several semi-precious stones – into his hand. He begins to chant. Then he puts his other hand over the stones, and begins to roll them about in his palms.

“You’re going to do it right here on the horse?” Ianto blurts out before forcing his mouth closed.

After a few moments Ravnus ceases chanting and rolling the stones, “And why not? You know better how to do this than I?” He looks down at the stones.

“There is danger ahead, but nothing that we should be immediately concerned with,” he relates. “Let’s proceed, and keep our wits about us.”

“What kind of danger?”  Ianto asks.  He doesn’t look unconcerned.  “Maybe we should just leave well enough alone.  It don’t concern us anyway.  I don’t want no trouble.”

Ravnus shakes his head as he puts his stones away. “Then you stay here,” he tells them. “I’ll go on ahead and see what is the matter myself.”

Ravnus then heads off in the indicated direction.

Ianto blinks and once again nearly unseats himself.  “Wait…  I’ll go to.  I was just being cautious, is all.”  He spurs his horse and manages to catch up with Ravnus.

Ravnus says nothing, not wanting to upset the man more than he already is.

A few minutes ahead of the slow moving caravan, a small stand of trees is growing a bit off to the south of the road.  A horse is calmly grazing nearby and a slumped figure can be seen sitting with his back to the tree.  A green cloak obscures the man’s features.  The two mercenaries that Ianto had hired to protect the caravan stand off to the side of the road watching but not going any closer.

Ravnus proceeds up to the man. “Hail,” he says. “Are you awake?”

The man doesn’t move.  Upon getting closer Ravnus can see the broken haft of an arrow protruding from the man’s side.

“We already tried calling.”  Ianto explained.

Ravnus shoots a glance back at Ianto, and then gets down by the man. Shaking his shoulder, he says, “Are you allright?” He pushes the man’s hood back.

The man groans slightly when he is shaken.  Pushing the hood back reveals a pale, sweaty face with several days growth of beard.  Black hair tumbles out of the hood in an unruly mess.

Ianto points to the man’s chest.  “He’s a Rider.” He slides like a meal sack from his horse, who seems grateful to be relieved of the weight, and approaches.

“Get him some water; he lives yet,” says Ravnus trying to ensure that the man doesn’t fall over and make things worse.

“Yeah… yeah….  There might be a reward.  Good thinking.”  Ianto says.  He turns and hurries towards the caravan that is passing the site slowly along the road.

The mercenaries seem to have decided that there is no threat from this incident and have ridden on ahead of the caravan again.

“Do you have a physic amongst you? My arts will probably not be helpful.” Even as he says this, Ravnus notes the arrow, and wonders if he should pull it out. Perhaps a divination to determine if he should… Pondering the question he says, “Who are you, friend?”

Moments later Ianto returns with his wife, Jui, who is even more portly than her husband.  The woman waddles up quickly looking like an overgrown duck and waves Ravnus out of the way.  “Move, boy.  Unless you can magic up some healing.”  She unslings a bag from her shoulder and begins rummaging around in it.

The injured man groans but seems unresponsive.

Ianto starts walking towards the Rider’s horse, who notes his approach and begins pointedly moving away.

“Here, horsey, horsey, horsey….”  Ianto chants.  “Come here you darned beast.”

Ravnus, knowing how to help those with technical knowledge gets out of the way, but stands ready to help if Jui needs aid. Meanwhile he watches the man’s horse with interest. Why is the animal so skittish? he thinks.

“This is lodged in a rib.”  Jui says.  “I can’t remove it.  We’ll have to try to get him to Fallcrest.  They’ve better healers there.”

The horse continues to stay just out of Ianto’s reach as the man stumbles around trying to catch its reins which are dragging the ground.  Ravnus realizes that the animal doesn’t seem skittish, just determined not to let Ianto near it.

Turning back to the man at Jui’s comment, Ravnus’ researcher mentality leaps to the forefront of his mind, momentarily forgetting about the horse. He scans the man’s accouterments, looking for mystical significance in any of them.

A silver medalion hanging from a chain around the man’s neck draws Ravnus’s eye.  The sparkle of a jewel glints in the sunlight.  Studying the medalion, Ravnus sees that it is silver with a bas relief horse carved from turquoise embedded in the center.  Turquoise he knew was the gemstone of friendship.

“Who are these riders?” asks Ravnus. “I’ve heard tell of them. But not much. Do they have enemies?”  As he helps move the man to a horse, he considers the fletching on the arrow.

Then something occurs to him.  Once the man has been taken care of momentarily, he heads towards the horse. Interested to see how it reacts to his presence, as opposed to Ianto’s.

“They patrol the roads here in the Vale.”  Jui explains while lending a broad shoulder to help move the lanky man.  “They’re also messengers and such.”

As Ravnus approaches the horse, he says over his shoulder, “Yes, yes, but patrols in whose name?”

Ianto has given up and sits panting on the ground while the horse once again chews on some summer grass.  When Ravnus begins to approach the beast twitches its ears and paws the ground with its fore hoof.  But it doesn’t move immediately away.

Ravnus, moving slowly, tries to take the horse’s reigns.

Jui looks up from her patient.  “I don’t rightly know.  I think all the towns and settlements support them a bit.”

“So… they’re mercenaries…” says Ravnus, stating a fact that he believes incorrect, in order to be enlightened by the correction that he expects.

“Not really.” Jui says.  “They’re more like concerned citizens who don’t hold with sitting around and letting bandits and the like run around outside the law’s grasp, so they got together and did something about it.  The Warden, Hammerfast and the Baron all support them cause it’s smart and cheaper than raising more soldiers on their own.”

The horse rears and then trots a short distance away before stopping and watching Ravnus again.

Ravnus nods at the response, both Jui’s and the horses. He returns to the man, and takes his medallion.  Returning with it to the horse, he shows it to the horse, and again tries to approach.

The horse canters up to Ravnus and nudges him with is nose.

“Here, we can use his horse,” says Ravnus. “A member of such an honorable organization needs to be taken care of well, no?”

“Darned horse.” Ianto complains.

Jui shakes her head. “Can’t put him on a horse.  He’ll have to go in a wagon.”

Some less self-absorbed than Ianto may hear a sardonic note in Ravnus’ description of the rider. He doesn’t quite believe entirely that the riders are as altruistic as they’ve been made out to be here. Helping Jui again, “You’re the expert, madame.”

Ianto lurches to his feet.  “The horse got anything on it that might say what happened to the Rider there?”

Once the rider is safe in the wagon, Ravnus checks the horse over, looking for any clue. As he does so, he says, “The fletching on the arrow… from the looks of it, can you tell who around here may have made it?”

The horse is saddled light but has a couple of sturdy, over-sized saddlebags.  There is also and case with a short bow and a bundle of arrows on the side.

“Ain’t no fletchings.”  Jui says.  She climbs into a wagon with the man.  “The arrow’s been broke off halfway down the shaft…  ack!  Leggo!”  The injured man suddenly sits up and grips the woman as he flails around in a panic.

Ianto shouts and trundles towards his wife.

Ravnus leaves the horse for a moment, and also comes to the man’s side. “Who shot you, man? If you can understand me… who shot you?”

The man’s eyes focus for a moment as Ravnus leans over him.  With strong, weathered hands he grabs Ravnus’s shirt and jerks him forward.  “They’re gathering by the hundreds.  The Harken is full of them.  Tell the Warden!”  Then he sighs and slumps back down into unconsciousness again.

Ravnus quickly grabs his bag again, opens it, and rummages around, looking for a powder. Finding it, he rubs it on his hand, and approaches the injured rider. “He may not last out the day,” Ravnus says by way of explanation. “We have to find out what he saw.”

He places his hands over the man’s eyes, and begins to hum.

Ravnus’s visions is suddenly overlaid with a scene of a forest in the morning mists.  His sight scans the scenery as if someone else is controlling his head.  His vision is bobbing up and down as if he is riding swiftly on a horse through the large boles.  Breaking into a clear place he is confronted by a group of a dozen or so short, powerfully built humanoid creatures.  Each is armed and armored with crude, yet lethal looking weaponry.  The largest of the creatures turns towards him and gives a silent shout.  His vision swerves and begins to move quickly away from the creatures and back into the forest.  The trees blur by.  Suddenly he finds himself running through an even larger group of the creatures that are moving perpendicular to his on path of travel.  His sight ducks and bobs around the group.  It looks down sharply at one point and notes a black and red fletched arrow protuding from his side.

Then the mists are gone and sunlight bores into Ravnus’s eyes.

Ravnus shakes his head trying to reorient. Thinking quickly, however, he says, “Goblins, I think. Many of them. Are they known to be about in these parts?”

Ianto nods. “Um… yeah.  There are sometimes some that raid out of the Harken Forest.  Bunch of small tribes, I think.”

“As this man said, I don’t think this is a small tribe,” Ravnus replies. “More likea small army.”

“You men get on out of here.” Jui butts in.  “You’re disturbing my work.  Go on!”

Ravnus backs off, and cleans up his hands. He repacks, and then looks up at the position of the sun. “We should be off quickly, and travel fast. We can make Fallcrest yet today, yes?”

“Yeah…”  Ianto starts to say.

Jui interrupts.  “We will if you get your great bulk back on your horse!”  She points where Ianto’s horse has wandered off a good distance while the man wasn’t paying attention.

“Darned horse.” Ianto grumbles.


Ravnus checked off Apprentice and Master Aspects.
Ravnus has 3 FATE points.

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