Sunday, March 17, 2013

Session 4: The Battle of Azagara

At daybreak, after a long, tiresome night of forced march, Tunamos’ reach the outskirts of Azagara. It is a city of average size, built on a plain bordered by the jungle. A light morning fog covers the top of its low fortifications, built to protect the population rather from the beasts of the jungle than from a real army. The army of Azagara is deployed in battle formation just outside the walls, in a long line. It is a very bold, or very desperate, way to fight. Prince Themrà’s banner flies right on the front line. When the sun is high, the trumpets sound and the battle starts…

n the opening faze of the battle, Katrina does not so well and is wounded.  Hawk, Shangor, and Sul’khaz all fight well but end up slightly battered and bruised.  However, it is Sylph that is bathed in glory.  Dozens fall before her dagger and her beauty inspires the soldiers following her to fight like demons.  The men of the army have begun to see her as warrior goddess sent by the heavens to lead them to victory!  (Sylph’s player rolled EXTREMELY well on the Characters in Mass Battles table.)

The second phase of the battles finds our heroes watching the flank of the army.  Out of the jungle comes an ambush by jungle warriors; allies of the city of Azagara.  Javelins rain down on the party and Katrina answers with her bow downing one of the enemies.  Hawk lets loose with her sling but misses and Sul’khaz summons his wolves to attack the advancing warriors.  After the opening salvo of javelins, the jungle warriors give a war cry and attack.  Hawk moves into the Jungle to meet them head on.  Sylph sends the boy Jura to get help and then summons her powers to distract the attacking warriors but in doing so, she also distracts Shangor and Sul’khaz as well.  Sylph moves away from the melee to safety and the fight continues.  In the end, one of the enemy warriors survives to flee back into the jungle but not before considerable damage has been done to General Tunamos’ army elsewhere on the battlefield.

                                          Rumble in Jungle:  Warriors attack the army's flank

In the final phase of the battle, Katrina and Shangor fight well but it is Sylph, Hawk and Sul’khaz fight with distinction.  Everyone gets battered and bruised but are otherwise unscathed except for Sylph who suffers a wound as the army of Azagara collapses before the superior forces of Tunamos’ army.   Prince Themrà leads a desperate final charge with his squad of elite warriors in their war chariots.  Although the charge fails, the Prince and his men sell their lives dearly before they are all dragged from their chariots and slain.  Hawk sees the Princes’ courage and recognizes him and his warriors as worthy foes.  Prince Themra’s head is mounted on spear and it is presented in full view of his city and his troop, breaking what little was left of their spirit.    The battle is over and the sack of Azagara has begins.

As most of the mercenaries now launch into an orgy of looting and pillaging, the party moves into the city, seeking the House of the Red Door and the treasure that it contains.  Hawk also calls forth for the coward Kumal the Smiling to come out and face her.  He does not answer her call.  The heroes are appalled by much of the pillaging but they press on.  

A woman runs past them and screams fire!  The next thing the party knows they are confronted by a wall of smoke and the stampede of humanity as looter and citizen alike try to avoid the flames.  Eventually the party makes its way through the crowed and smoke filled streets.  Once they emerge from the smoke, they find themselves on a long street lined with banana trees.  A figure is spotted hiding among the trees.  A man wearing a collar steps out from behind one of the trees and begs our heroes for mercy.

He identifies himself as Zumar, a slave who only wishes to be free.  In return for breaking his slave collar and, after he thinks about it, some coin, he tells the party of the general location of the House of the Red Door.  Sylph easily persuades him to give them the location.  Zumar tells them that it is the Old Quarter of the city, which lies to east.  The heroes break his slave collar, give him ten moons (coins) and then leave Zumar to his fate and head eastward.

Not long after arriving in the Old Quarter, the party encounters a group of soldiers wearing precious silks taken from a looted house.  In the shadows of an alley they also spot a well dressed large man attempting to sneak away with a small box.  When confronted, he begs for mercy.  “Please! Please, mighty warriors! Spare my humble life! I am just a poor trader trying to save myself!”  He offers the heroes the coffer if they will let him go.  However, Sul’khaz spots something in the merchants mouth and he immediately makes him cough up a ring, easily worth hundreds of Moons.  The merchant begins to curse them before Sul’khaz slaps him around.  Using her powers of persuasion, Sylph easily gets the man to calm down and tell them where they can find the House of the Red Door.  After being assured that the ring will be returned to him, the merchant tells the party that the House of the Red Door is at the end of Alley of the Shady Pagodas, the third road to the left.  Reluctantly, Sul’khaz returns the ring and the party takes the third road to the left, leaving the merchant to flee the city.  Sure enough at the end of Alley of the Shady Pagoda, there is squat, mysterious building with a Red Door in the middle of garden.  So far, the looting and the pillaging have not reached this party of the city.

The door is knocked up on without anyone answering.  After the door is found to be unlocked, Shangor kicks the door in and steps into the build.  The room is dark; with several pillars about with small altar in the center of the room and a door on the far side of the building.  Shangor immediately walks directly to the altar, with Sul’khaz (who can see in the dark) and Sylph right behind him.  Out of the shadows, two large, muscular men armed with daggers and garrotes attack. Sylph cries out a warning but one of the stranglers is able to slip his garrote around the neck of Shangor.  The strangler immediately proceeds to strangle him.  Sul’khaz is attacked with a dagger.

Daggers in the House of the Red Door

Sul’khaz and the strangler with a dagger flail at each other rather ineffectively but Shangor finds himself fighting for his life.  Shangor eventually manages to free himself and both stranglers are dispatched but not before one buries his dagger to hilt in Sylph’s midsection, nearly killing her.  (Sylph immediately had to make a vigor roll or die.  Fortunately she survived without suffering permanent damage but she will be operating at lower vigor roll until she can heal.)  Upon examining the stranglers’ bodies, both are found to be unusually muscular, with yellow in the whites of their eyes and a red mark upon their foreheads.  It is then remembered that Jura’s grandfather had a similar mark on his forehead as well.

Behind the closed door, Shangor finds the sleeping quarters for the stranglers as well as well stocked wine rack.  Shangor tried the wine and found that it was kind of syrupy and sweet.   Sylph also noticed that there were slide marks by the altar, indicating that the altar could be slide across the floor.  Under the altar there were stairs descending beneath the house.  Sul’khaz immediately makes his way down with the rest of the group following after him.

The stairs end in a circular, vaulted room.  In the center of the room is bald man, sitting cross-legged in the lotus position, as if sleeping or in deep meditation. The statue is covered in dirt but, under the light of the torches, it shimmers with the unmistakable sparkle of silver!  The floor is covered with dirt and, much to the surprise of the party, large feathers, feathers that would have come from something the size of giant eagle.  Sylph moves towards the statue and narrowly avoids being stabbed in the foot as a hidden blade shoots out the floor.  The room has been trapped! 

Unafraid, Shangor makes his way to the statue.  As he gets closer and closer, the traps get worse and worse.  First a dart strikes him, which he easily shakes off.  Then he struck by several triangular blades that shoot out from the wall and is tore up pretty badly.  Despite that, Shangor makes it to the statue with the rest of the group following in his footsteps. 

Upon further examination, it is discovered that the status is not made of silver.  Rather, it is covered with silver runes that radiate faint magic.  Suddenly, the eyes of the statue fly open and the statue speaks:  “Please….free me.” 

After the shock has worn off (Actually, none of the players were shocked.  The characters were but not the players.  All of the players saw that coming even if the characters did not.), the “statue” continued to speak. “The evil dwellers of this cursed city captured me and are keeping me hostage to prevent my people, the Haakora, from waging war against them. I am Kiran of the Haakora, and I am the king of my people. Bring me to my city, Haak, in the mountains above the jungle, and I promise you’ll be rich!” 
Shangor broke the chain and Kiran was free, and in a very weakened state.  Hawk and Sylph examined Kiran and finds two scars on his back, indicating that in the past, Kiran had wings and that the feathers came from him. 

I honestly do not think that the party’s main motivation in freeing Kiran was his promise of wealth.  Hawk has also been driven to help those that need it (she is Heroic after all).  I think that the party had a sense that freeing him was simply the right thing to do.  Whatever their reasons, Kiran was free and the party was determined to help him although they were uncertain how long he had been a prisoner.  They did know that none of them had ever heard of the Haakora or the city of Haak, although the merchant that gave them directions to the House of the Red Door at one point invoked the “Winged Gods” when he cursed them.  Perhaps that was a clue….

The party decided that they would try to find a safe place to keep both Kiran and Jura and then leave the city to find Haak.  Leaving the House of the Red Door behind them, the group made their way into the streets, with Kiran leaning on Hawk.   It was then when the party was surprised by Druun the Gorgon and his Valk riders.  There around twenty of them, all of them armed with their deadly composite bows and they have drop on the heroes.

Druun address the heroes.  So, you told the truth, Kumal. They did find something valuable in that house.”   Alongside Druun is Kumal the Smiling, his eyes starting with cold hatred.  “And now, Dirty Feet,” Druun continues, “hand me what you have found and maybe I’ll grant you the Death of the Lamb.” 

That is where we left off.  How will the party escape?  Will Kumal the Smiling finally face Hawk?  We will find out next time.  

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