Saturday, September 29, 2012

Summary- Episode One: Checkpoint Char-Lay

Season One, Episode 1: Checkpoint Char-Lay

Wherein, our heroes, in the guise of the East Bay Company, procured raw leather, dyes and tanning supplies to use as a cover for their trade in the tannery village of Char-Lay. Having been tasked by the Steel Lady, leader of the Ever-Burning Cinder, with smuggling Alonzo, spy-extraordinaire through the supposedly lax checkpoint at the edge of Char-Lay.  

Three of the company, namely Corrie, previously a noble and now primarily an entertainer, Mercutio, master thief, and Sorina, the Cigany sailor, scouted ahead.  As they crossed the last horizon before the village, they saw a column of thick black smoke rising from the checkpoint at Char-Lay.  Climbing tall trees, they verified that the smoke rose from the checkpoint's tower.  The three then crept stealthily to the edge of the village where members of the Unbroken Border, a group previously unknown, kept guard over all the roads leading to and from town.  From hiding they witnessed the leader of this pack of the Unbroken Border, one Joachim Bladebright, minor noble, speak with his lackeys.

Returning to the wagon on and about which the rest of the company was travelling, Corrie, Mercutio and Sorina relayed their findings.  The merchant, Norah, knew of the Unbroken Border, known as having recently arisen and for advocating, violently, for no contact between the Free Valleys and the Ashen Kingdom and for believing that soon the hero of Last Rest would arise again, reborn, and once again smash the evil empire threatening the Free Valleys.  It was decided that, once again, three of them should sneak ahead, this time being Corrie, Mercutio and the sorcerer and archer, Hardwick, and the rest, being Sorina, the merchant Norah, one Trent, a former army officer and blacksmith and finally Thane Hinrik Fullspring, a barbarian noble and the former Sir Henry Fullspring, a noble of the Five Families, would follow behind in the guise of travelling merchants.  

Once they had returned to the village, Corrie snuck into the great hall, and spoke with Mara, the headwoman of Char-Lay, who spoke of the family already lost, three men, their throats torn out and hung by the Unbroken Border on stakes by the checkpoint, and those they feared could be lost... three children taken by the Unbroken Border as hostages to ensure the peaceful surrender of the village.  Mara, who had been the Ever-Burning Cinder's source that this checkpoint was lax, warned Corrie that the village had lost too much and dared not attempt any rebellion for fear of losing more of their community.

Meanwhile, the rest of the company, in their guise as merchants bearing goods for the tanneries, arrived and where met and stopped by the guards of the Unbroken Border.  The leader, being Sir Joachim Bladebright, was called for and an exchange followed, principally between him and Thane Hinrik, as Sir Henry, who stood at that time as the company's spokesperson.  Sir Joachim, suspicious of the travelers  informed them that the Unbroken Border would permit no traffic of any kind with the Ashen Kingdom and called into doubt that Hinrik was truly Sir Henry Fullspring, alleging that he was, instead, merely an imposter. After some bluster by both sides, Sorina, in the guise of Sir Henry's monkey bearing travelling companion, pretended to faint and Hinrik used this as an excuse to convince Joachim that at the very least the travelers should be given shelter for the night.  Joachim agreed to this, though set strict terms, smiling at the last and revealing his extraordinarily sharp canines, causing Norah to suspect that there was more to Joachim than would have previously seemed.

The company came together to discuss options and the wily Mercutio proposed a scheme to attack the guards at the checkpoint that would occur once Joachim was distracted.  Hinrik struck upon the idea of inviting Joachim, as a fellow noble, to a sumptuous dinner, and sent him an invitation to that effect.  Joachim agreed to dine with Hinrik, but warned that should other 'guests' arrive, he, that is to say, Joachim, would have to skip the dinner in order to provide his other 'guests' a fitting welcome of slaughter.

Thereafter, Norah, having previously not had the chance to practice her own skills of stealth, snuck off to speak with the Headwoman Mara in the great hall.  Once again, Mara told of the price her community had already paid and warned Norah that should any harm fall upon the hostage children, the village's mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, cousins and all, would hold the East Bay Company and the Ever-Burning Cinder responsible for the tragedy.  Meanwhile, using the skills he picked up while a barbarian thrall, Hinrik cooked dinner.

Finally, dusk fell.  Sir Joachim arrived and Hinrik proposed sending away their bodyguards, giving Trent the excuse to sneak off to the ambush at the checkpoint, leaving just Hinrik and Sorina with the unkept and shaggy leader of the Unbroken Border.  Joachim, however, was not so accommodating, and kept his two guards just outside the door, where they were carefully watched by Hardwick, hidden in the next house over, who also watched the nobles dine through several conveniently open windows.  Joachim and Hinrik sparred verbally, while Corrie, Mercutio, Norah and Trent snuck to the checkpoint and prepared their ambush.  Attempting an ambush of his own, Joachim asked Hinrik if he knew of the recent death of Henry Fullspring's older brother, Oswald V.

Corrie, trying to emulate the sounds of a frightened child, drew a guard away from the fire at the checkpoint and over to the wagon which held the young hostages.  Unfortunately for our heroes, the villains were not entirely unwary, and so had their weapons in their hands when the trap was sprung. Still, Corrie managed to slay the guard with a single blow, signalling to the others that the time for violence had come.  As the other guards struggled to determine where the attack was coming from and to give the alarm, Norah and Mercutio each slew a guard, leaving one guard standing.  The last remaining guard managed to begin a warning whistle which quickly became a dying gurgle as his throat was slashed open by Trent's sharp sword.

Alas, though, the keen hearing of Joachim detected the aborted warning whistle, and his ears pricked up.  Finally revealing his true nature, he threw back his head and gave a great and eerie howl, which sent the guards outside the house running as reinforcements to the checkpoint.  Joachim then threw himself across the table at Hinrik, his sharp teeth tearing into Hinrik's arms as Sorina drew her dagger.  While Joachim attempted to maul Hinrik, Hardwick called upon Words of the Wind to send lightning bolts shooting from his hands into the savage Joachim, who then began to attempt to counterspell while still tearing at Hinrik, but Hardwick had taken up his bow.  A fierce melee erupted, with Joachim transforming fully into a wolf and diving under the table for cover as he attempted to savage Hinrik.  Unfortunately for him, not only did the keen aim of Hardwick's arrow find his head, so did Hinrik's sword and Sorina's dagger.  With his dying strength, Joachim, in wolfskin, hurtled through the back door where Hardwick heard him whisper to someone waiting there before he expired.

Our heroes then heard a great and mournful howl from a wolf, and the Unbroken Border lackeys who still lived fled, though several of them were cut down by Mercutio and Trent as Norah and Corrie helped the young hostages escape and kept them calm.  Once the battle field was calm and all the enemy combatants either dead or fled, our heroes investigated and found footprints leading away from the naked corpse of Joachim.  Deciding that they were unable to effectively pursue those opponents who had fled, they regrouped and spoke with Mara, who told them that when the Unbroken Border arrived Joachim had been accompanied by a younger man who very much appeared to be his brother.

The East Bay Company crossed the Ashen Border the next morning, taking Alonzo on to his next rendezvous and then Trent used the Influence and Territory of the company to attempt Counter-Espionage to cover up the company's involvement with the defeat of the Unbroken Border in Char-Lay, instead claiming it was due to a rising by the villagers themselves.  Then Trent, continuing as spymaster, used the Influence and Sovereignty of the company to Gather Information, information that make change the course the company takes once it is known...

Closing Credits: Rasputina "Bad Moon Rising"


  1. I was very much hoping that the Checkpoint was actually named Charolais, after the region in France which produced these estimable cattle.

    1. Alas, I am nowhere near that clever, so I made a bad Cold War reference/pun.