WarDragon's Way of the Wicked

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Knot of Thorns I
Branderscar Prison

DM In the kingdom of Talingarde, many crimes may send you to Branderscar Prison, but the sentence has but one meaning. You are wicked and irredeemable. Each of you received the same greeting when you arrived. You were held down by rough hands and branded upon the arm with a runic F. The mark signifies ‘forsaken’ and the painful scar is indelible proof that each of you has betrayed the great and eternal love of Mitra and his chosen mortal vassals.

Condemned, you face at best a life of shackles and servitude in the nearby salt mines. Others might await the “gentle” ministrations of the inquisitors so that co-conspirators may be revealed and confessions extracted. Perhaps, some of you will be spared this ordeal. Perhaps instead you have come to Branderscar to face the final judgment. In three days, the executioner arrives and the axe falls or the pyre will be lit. Through fire or steel, your crimes will be answered.

You have all been chained together in the same communal cell dressed in nothing but filthy, tattered rags. Manhandled and mistreated, any finery you once possessed is either ruined or long lost. No special treatment has been given any prisoner – male or female, commoner or noble – all of the forsaken are bound and imprisoned together. Your feet are secured by iron cuffs tethered by one long chain. Your arms are secured to the wall above by manacles. A guard is posted right outside the cell day and night. Little thought is given to long term accommodations. At Branderscar, justice comes swift and sure.

Escape seems hopeless. You have all been well searched and every attempt to conceal anything on your person has failed. And if you could somehow slip your bonds and fly out of this prison, where would you go? Who from your former life would want anything to do with the forsaken?

Despised, alone and shackled – all that you can do now is await your doom.

For each of you, your old life is over. For each of you, hope is a fading memory. For each of you, justice will be fairly meted. And who can blame fair Talingarde after what each of you has done?

Lucavi The brand upon the dark haired man’s arm is in good company, his entire body a labyrinth of twisting scars and marks. His piercings have been removed, leaving fresher wounds all across his torso and face. He smiles. “The paladin goes marching home again, hoo-rah, hoo-rah,” he sings, slightly off key.

Damodred The elfin fellow paces slowly back and forth by the cell-bars. Occasionally he scratches at the rash left by the rough, hempin tunic that is his only dressing gown.

Gaerlan The man beside him cracks a wry smile. He is young and, even in rags, handsome.

Puella Puella’s own scars are partly hidden under her rags, including a sleeve she has drawn over the Forsaken brand. Her perfect face, though, breaks into a small smile. “You would meet fate singing?”

Lucavi “I’d meet it fighting, preferably, but singing is a passable second.”

Damodred Damodred glances at the two, but quickly shields his eyes from the light of the torch and looks away again. His gaze searches hopelessly for something overlooked by the guards; he does not expect to find it, but what else can he do?

Lucavi “No surprise that one is here,” Lucavi mutters, indicating the oddly pacing elf. “Not many people around here remember it, but elves are known to steal babies and drink their blood.”

Gaerlan A smile grows on the young man’s face. Yes, these ones will work. “No doubt you are here by virtue of a great injustice my friend.”

DM Damodred sees nothing on the floor or walls. You all are the only prisoners in the room, at least that you can see. You thought you spotted a hint of movement in the large, bricked-off cell on the west wall, but couldn’t make out any details.

Lucavi “No injustice. The knights are beholden to forbid art, and as a lover of art, I incurred my doom most justly.”

Damodred The elf mutters quietly, “Not human infants. They taste like tallow.”

Puella Puella stumbles slightly as the pacing elf draws the chains about, but she makes no complaint. “I have heard stories of elves,” she nods, “but not likely as many as you. Is it true?” She directs her next question to their companion.

Lucavi “The elves use every part of the baby, nothing goes to waste.”

Damodred “Unlikely. Human infants are weak – there is no power in the blood worth salving.”

Lucavi “Perhaps I’m thinking of buffalo. Tell on, Sir Elf.”

Damodred “You must have mistaken me for a bard; there is no tale worth sharing here, boys. The only thing I did wrong was get caught.”

Gaerlan “And what about you darling?” The man turns to the woman among the bunch, “Are you a fiend like the rest?”

Puella “My blood is only human.”

Gaerlan Gaerlan grins at her, “And is your blood all you would speak of?”

Damodred “It does seem to be the prevailing topic.” Damodred grouses.

Lucavi “By Sweet Mitra, man, are you going to rut with her in front of us all? Where is the decorum of old?”

Gaerlan “Ah… I’m sorry. Am I coming between you two?”

Puella Puella shrinks slightly as the topic turns to her.

Damodred “Likely he wants to draw straws for first dibs.. but, alas.. we have no straws.”

Lucavi “The lady is to be treated as befits her gentle gender.”

Damodred “Gentle?” Damodred snorts in disbelief.

Puella “I am not worth arguing over.” Puella cuts in softly.

Gaerlan “Doubtful, I have no interest in spending three days in the mud. No doubt we could find a better use for straws.” He repleis to Damodred. He turns to Lucavi, “And yet I’ve only asked of her own crimes.”

Damodred “Better a bit of sand…” he mutters to himself, eyeing the guard sideways.

Lucavi “Speak not an affront to her before an Iron Knight of the Order of St. Demain, men. That is all I ask. That we conduct ourselves as gentlemen.”

Gaerlan “But many of us are far from gentle, and one is not a man at all.”

DM Gentlemen, indeed. Squabbling or not, gentle or not, they are all in this together, for whatever that’s worth in a prison that has never been escaped from.

Gaerlan He smiles once more, “Peace Iron Knight. I will push no further. We have better things to do. I suppose how we got here means little, compared to how we get out.”

Damodred “Guard!” Damodred demands, “Kindly stop listening while we plot our escape.”

Guard The guard only laughs.

Damodred The elf smiles, “Perhaps I am a bard, I seem to have a gift for humor.”

Lucavi Lucavi pantomimes eating a baby as best he can.

Gaerlan “I’d honestly rather he meet his end knowing how it happened, if it is all the same to you elf.”

Damodred “Whose dick are you remembering sucking?” He shrugs at Gaerlan, “Damodred.” he corrects by way of introduction.

Lucavi “Does that pass for fair speech and conversation in the elven lands?” Lucavi inquires. “Truly, a different culture indeed.”

Damodred “I’m not the one who was simulating their gag reflex.” He ripostes.

Lucavi “It has been said that babies are fed other babies, which causes them to go mad. Those who eat the flesh of the insane infants are often touched themselves.”

Puella Puella shrinks a little further into her rags, back against a slight hollow in the wall.

Gaerlan “Damodred. A pleasure. I am Gaerlan Cimo, heretic, blasphemer, desecrater, and so forth. I confess, I paid little attention at the trial. It was so terribly dull. Guard, could you make yourself useful and read off the list for the others?”

Damodred The elf purses his lips as he considers the guard.

Guard He just glares at you.

Damodred “You seem upset, Sirrah. Better things to do?”

Gaerlan “How dreary.”

Damodred “No, I sympathize. Fellow is an upright citizen, pure in his faith and proud in his guardianship… to be forced to monitor such as us? It’s an affront to his exemplary service.”

Guard “That’s… that’s right. I’m not scared of the likes of you, just can’t stand the sight of you scum.”

Lucavi Lucavi gives the short version of his crimes. “…she shall ever remain innocent and pure in my eyes, a blushing virgin each and every time, my only remembrance of the occasion. I think of her always, even now.”

Damodred “Tell us whose fault it is you are here instead of a more noble role? There is always someone… they are certainly jealous of you.”

Puella “But yet you were condemned for this?” Puella asks Lucavi.

Lucavi “Oaths are taken seriously among the knights, and surely did I break mine.”

Damodred “Cat got your tongue? Don’t tell me they were right to give you slop duty?”

Puella “And for you, no penitence?” Puella’s eye lingers on the other’s scars.

Guard He keeps his mouth shut. After a moment, he looks away.

Gaerlan “Wonderful, a coward. Tell me, were you sent here because you were a coward, or did it just end up that way?”

Damodred The elf sighs and sloughs back against the wall next to the others. “Well, he’s a wash… they pick them that way, you know? Pick someone clever and someone might outwit them… pick someone dense enough and they’re too stupid to be tricked.”

Lucavi “Perhaps he has children at home, Sir Damodred. Ones he prefers to have for dinner in the conventional sense.”

Damodred “Why? Do you think they have offended him?” he inquires of Lucavi.

Gaerlan Gaerlan laughs.

Lucavi He turns to Puella and smiles. “These chains upon my arms, to match that which winds along my spine…they are my penitence. My love burned too hotly for a chaste knight. I would…like to look upon her face again before I die though.”

DM As Lucavi is reminiscing, a group of six guards, heavily armed and ready for trouble, come into the cell led by a fat well-dressed ser-geant of the watch. You all recognize Sgt. Tomas Blackerly, the man who held the brand against your arms. He laughed as your skin burned.

 photo SgtTomasBlackerly_zps93c12c66.jpg

DM Right now, though, the Sergeant seems a bit dazed. He points at Gaerlan.

Blackerly “You there! That’s the scum! Get ‘em unshackled. If any of you makes trouble, they’ll earn a thrashing! Today’s your lucky day, scum. You’ve got a visitor. How you ever warranted such a fine lady is beyond me. Seems she wants to say good-bye. Now step lively. We wouldn’t want to keep her waiting.”

Gaerlan Gaerlan waits to be unchained, “So soon? I’m impressed.”

Guards The guards quickly open the cell, and one of them unshackles Gaerlan, while two others keep an eye on the rest of you with their clubs drawn.

Damodred “Seems everyone has a lady but me.” He laments with false mourning.

Gaerlan He smiles at the guards, “Hurry up boys, don’t want to keep the lady waiting.”

Blackerly “No talking!” He is escorted down the hall, the cell re-locked behind him. When the guards leave this time, your watcher goes with them, but all seven stay in the next room with the door open.

Gaerlan Gaerlan pauses at the door of the cell and flurishes for a moment at Puella, “Good-day my lady,” before he is hustled off.

Puella “I am not a lady.” she corrects softly, perhaps not loudly enough for him to hear. Puella’s chains clink softly as she moves forward a step to hear what passes.

Lucavi Lucavi opens his mouth to ask her what she hears, thinks the better of it, and closes it. He’ll wait.

DM You hear boots tromping down the stairs, and then the following conversation, presumable once the Sgt. is out of earshot back to another floor.

Guards “That Blackerly is a damned thief ! That game was rigged last night!”
“If it’s rigged, why do you keep going back to the gate-house then?”
“The beer’s passable.”
A laugh is heard. “Drinkin’ on duty! Damn, this place has gone to hell. Captain Callidan would have never tolerated that crap. That’s for sure!”
“Captain Callidan – he left, what? Two years ago?”
“Almost three and since then the place has been straight down the shitter. That old wizard never leaves his tower. He stays up there reading his books and petting his owl!”
“Petting his owl? Is that what they call it these days?”

The guards enjoy a bit of a laugh.

Puella “The guards were speaking about a Captain Callidan.” she reports after a moment. “They say that the prison has gone to hell…” a brief smile passes over her lips, “since he left.”

Damodred “To hell?” He frowns pensively, “You’d think I’d know some of these fellows, then.”

Puella “Drinking and cards on duty. The Sergeant cheats.”

Lucavi “He has a fat belly.”

Puella “There is a mage who ought to be in charge, but he keeps to himself.” she finishes, glancing back at the others as the guards’ conversation fades away. She nods. “He too should face the punishment of his sins… should he not?”

Damodred “Sins?” He frowns and collapses back against the wall, “Locked up with a trio of religious nutters.” he mourns, “I’m doomed.”

DM Meanwhile…

Gaerlan is ushered into a nearby meeting room, and roughly shoved into a chair. There waiting for them is a hauntingly beautiful woman in an elegant black dress and soft silken veil. She looks as if she is headed to a funeral. Her hair is so platinum as to almost be white and her eyes are a vibrant almost unearthly green. She clearly has been weeping.

 photo Tiadora_zps3197b970.jpg

“Oh, dearest,” proclaims the unfamiliar woman. “I’m so relieved you’re alive!” She quickly turns to Tomas. “Could we please have a moment alone, good sir? For pity’s sake?”

Blackerly Tomas goes blank for a bit and then quickly agrees. “Of course, my lady. For you,’ tis no problem.”

Gaerlan Gaerlan moves forward, raising a hand gently as if to touch her face, “Oh darling, I would not have you see me like this. I would that you had not come.” He moves close to her.

Tiadora As soon as the guards leave, Tiadora’s demeanor immediately changes. She drops all pretense of grief or concern. She is immediately all business. “Oh, I could not leave you, dearest,” she says sardonically, dropping her pretense of grief.

“Call me Tiadora. We possess a mutual friend who would like to meet you and your fellow cell-mates. Unfortunately, our friend is unwilling to visit you in your present rather shabby accommodations so it seems you must escape. Don’t be so dour. Just because it’s never been done before is no reason you can’t be the first.”

“If you manage that, cross the moors on the outskirts of town. On the old Moor Road you’ll see a manor house with a single lantern burning in the second story. There our mutual friend waits. That is all I know. He did want me to give you this.” She takes off her silken veil and wipes away a few fake tears with it. “Something to remember me by, dearest.”

Gaerlan Gaerlan leans close, “Of course there is no reason I can’t be the first, especially if you give me that little earring of yours.”

Tiadora “My earring? And why would you want a thing like that?” she asks, archly.

Gaerlan “Consider it collateral, to ensure we both have a reason to make that meeting.” He smiles, “Please? Darling.”

Tiadora She raises an eyebrow and smirks. “Oh, I think you’ll find I’ve already given you everything you need to get out of here, dearest.” She points at the veil she handed you. Perhaps you should take a closer look at it?

 photo TiadorasVeil_zps05588ab6.jpg

“If you need more than that… well, perhaps our friend has misjudged your resourcefulness.”

Gaerlan He arches an eyebrow, “Well. This should be interesting.” He takes the veil.

DM Looking closer, it has small patches of fabric on it that seem removable, in the shape of various objects.

Gaerlan “It almost takes the challenge out of things.” He pulls away, cloth in hand, and raises his voice “Thank you dearest. Trust though that we will meet again.” He wraps the cloth tightly around one hand. “Guard. The lady is finished with me.”

Tiadora “Trust is hard to come by.” Her message delivered, she rises and the guards return. Immediately, her demeanor once more changes and she is again a perfect picture of grief. “No, I can’t bear to leave you!” She gives Gaerlan a kiss on the cheek. The kiss is ice-cold and feels somehow alien and inhuman.

Guard The guard Tomas left in charge shakes his head. “I’m afraid it’s time, miss.”

Tiadora She looks deep in his eyes and says, “Thank you for letting me say good-bye. There’s no need to search my dearest. You are such a good friend for letting me see my dearest one more time.”

Guard “Such a good friend,” he repeats his voice almost mechanical. Then the watchman seems to snap out of it and bows politely. “A pleasure, madam,” She leaves unveiled. Her eyes meet Gaerlan’s one last time and she briefly gives them a wicked smile.

Gaerlan “We will met again.” Gaerlan lays it on thick, extending one arm towards her as he is led away.

Tiadora Three days, telepathically echoes in Gaerlan’ mind. Don’t disappoint me, dearest. The visitation concluded, Gerlan is taken back to his cell by a cadre of guards and shackled once more.

DM After a few moments, Gaerlan is returned, and placed back in his shackles. The guards file out, only your watcher leaves with them this time. Two are stationed on the other side of the door, but you no longer have eyes constantly on you.

Puella “There is one who could see your wish come true, though. One who holds the lordship over love and fire…” She trails off as the guards return.

Gaerlan “Such a dear woman. I needed that in this moment of such trial.”

Damodred Damodred sizes Gaerlan up, “Didn’t realize you’d be so quick to fire.” he quips. His gaze remains on the door.

DM The door to the other room is closed and locked, with the guards on the other side. You are alone… except perhaps whatever is in that bricked-off room beside you, if your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you. It looks a lot like your cell, except the spaces between the bars have been filled in with masonry.

Lucavi “A Lord of Love and Fire…” Lucavi muses. “I have seen Him, in my dreams. Perhaps I was meant to come here, to learn of him.”

Gaerlan “Sometimes time is of the essence. For instance… now.” He keeps his voice low. “Lucavi, you wish to see your darling again? Elf, no doubt you have no desire to die here.” He smiles at Puella.

Lucavi “Your visitor then. Most irregular for this place. You have a plan?”

Damodred Damodred grunts.

Gaerlan “A plan, tools, and will. All I need are allies to make it work.”

Puella “I have not been commanded to lay down my life.” Puella replies. “What other tools do you have?”

Lucavi “I hadn’t planned on taking my chains off until tomorrow, but if we are to be leaving sooner, I can do so.”

Gaerlan Gaerlan flourishes the veil. “Blades, cloth, light, picks, a window, spell components… The picks might be quieter than your strength Lucavi, if any has the skill…”

Damodred “Spell components?” The elf inquires, surprised.

Lucavi “Strength?” Lucavi arches an eyebrow. “I was simply going to burn them off.”

Gaerlan “Preparation. You didn’t think I came here without planning for every contingency, did you?” He replies to Damodred.

Puella “Iron is no true barrier to the skilled, despite what some may think.” Puella replies to Gaerlan.

Damodred He frowns, “I didn’t think you’d planned to come here at all.”

Gaerlan “I knew I liked you.” Gaerlan replies to Puella. He plucks forth from the veil the thieves’ tools.

Lucavi Lucavi closes his eyes and acid begins to drip from his hands down over the shackles.

Puella Puella moves over to accept the tools.

Gaerlan He withholds them for a moment, “We are clear that this escape will require cooperation, correct?” If she replies in the affirmative he slides them over.

Lucavi “Naturally. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. But it is only as long as the sum of its links.”

Puella “You need not fear anything from me.”

Gaerlan “Well enough.”

Puella Taking the tools, she bends her attention to the awkward task of unlocking her own manacled hands.

Lucavi Lucavi bends his head to either shoulder, stretching his neck, before rotating his arms. A chain is wound through his flesh down the back of his spine, and it appears to twitch and move of its own accord at the free ends.

Puella “Truly, chains must bind more than flesh to hold.” she murmurs as her bonds fall away. She next begins with Gaerlan even as Lucavi’s manacles melt away.

Damodred Damodred waits patiently for his turn.

Lucavi “The master of chains cannot be bound with his servants.”

Puella She catches Gaerlan’s manacles as they open, setting them down quietly, and then moves on to Damodred. She pauses, looking him up and down for a moment. “You are also willing to act together?”

Gaerlan “Thank you darling.” Gaerlan grins as the woman removes his chains.

Damodred “Of course.” He says with a smile.

Puella She nods, and begins with his locks.

Puella Before long, the last of the prisoners’ bindings are loosed.

Lucavi “Even as holy Mitra once slew the bull, so shall his humble knight and servant provide for his people.”

Gaerlan “I don’t recall that story.”

Damodred The elf stands after being freed and considers the ‘master of chains.’ He begins to gather up the loose bits of chains and then presses his hand to where they are secured on the wall. After he is finished, he presents Lucavi with the makeshift weapon.

Gaerlan Gaerlan draws forth a daggerfrom the veil, “Any takers?”

Lucavi “Why thank you, but…” Lucavi flexes, and razor sharp nails tip his fingers. “…I brought my own.”

Damodred “Inelegant.” Damodred replies distastefully. At Lucavi’s response he tosses the chains in the corner and looks to see if the girl has opened the cell door yet.

Gaerlan “You’re full of surprises Sir Knight.”

“Not-Lady?” He gestures to Puella.

Puella Puella moves to accept the dagger, a raised white scar on her midriff standing out momentarily as she tucks it somewhere in her prison rags. “Did your visitor leave any other gifts?” she asks, glancing at the door.

Gaerlan “I’ve clothing as well, but it may be better served once we are out of the prison and on the road. No sense in covering it in the blood and filth of the prison. A lantern, a window, rope, spell components, coin, and a holy symbol of Asmodeus, if I’m not mistaken.”

Lucavi “Perhaps we should free other artists from their confinement as well? Whether they mark the path in failure or success, it matters little.”

Puella Puella smiles. “Ah. So the King’s hand is extended to aid his vassal.” She glances at the elf. “You wished for the spell components?”

Gaerlan “There may be a time for that. For now I’d rather poke about before we rouse the prison against us – and them.”

Damodred “I could use them.” he agrees with Puella.

Gaerlan Gaerlan plucks the components forth from the veil. “Anything else?” He draws forth the second dagger for himself.

Puella “Very well. I will do without.” She moves over to pick the door.

Damodred The elfin fellow considers Puella a moment before taking the pouch and following behind her.

DM The door opens as easily as the locks. They are now free to move about the cell block.

Gaerlan Gaerlan lays a hand on Puella’s shoulder as he exits the cell. “Well done.”

Puella She acknowledges with a small nod, quickly pacing the length of the room to ensure the area is clear.

Gaerlan “No priest then among you?” He asks the others.

DM All the other open cells are empty. The brickwork on the one that’s blocked off looks fairly recent. Aside from that and the guards in the next room, you four are the only living things on this floor.

Damodred “You all seem like preists to me.” Damodred retorts, making his way closer to the exit as he waits for the others to be prepared to exit.

Puella She pauses and glances back. “What did you wish?”

Gaerlan “Simply curious. I had hoped, but they are so few and far between now.” He gestures briefly to the holy symbol patch as he moves to look at the bricked room.

Puella “I will keep it if there is no other bearer.”

Lucavi “We are all holy in Mitra’s sight,” Lucavi murmurs.

Gaerlan “Of course.” He pulls off the symbol and extends it to her as he peers into the room.

Lucavi Lucavi observes the bricked off area as well.

DM In the dim light, you can make out a hulking shape, crouched in the far corner of the large cell. When it notices you looking in, the creature looks back at you. It gets up and moves closer, making not a sound. When it stops, it’s in enough light for you to recognize an ogre.

 photo Grumblejack_zps0fffb3a8.jpg

Puella Puella catches her breath at the unfamiliar creature.

Lucavi “Well now. A fellow knight in chains.”

Ogre The ogre snorts at being called a knight.

Lucavi “So you speak the human tongue?”

Gaerlan “Interesting.”

Ogre He nods, watching you suspiciously.

Lucavi “And you know what they will do with you?”

Ogre He nods again. And draws a finger across his throat.

Lucavi “I can set you free,” Lucavi promises, his voice a hushed whisper. “But ogres are known to eat men after tearing them limb from limb. I ask not that you deny your nature, simply that you aim your violence in a direction that benefits us all.” Lucavi turns, casually revealing the chain that winds through his spine.

Ogre He looks at you, Lucavi, wondering, seemingly tempted… then his eyes go wide when he sees the chain. In a shockingly quiet whisper for something so large, he finally speaks. “And how’s Grumblejack know youse won’t chop him after he smashes da guards for youse?”

Lucavi “Like all free souls, Grumblejack is his own man, and as such, can do whatever he would like.”

Grumblejack “Dat ain’t what I asked, is it, Steel-Tail?”

Lucavi “The Paladin in Chains gives you his word, upon his iron honor. If that is not enough for you, then look to your own strength of arms to ensure you are treated as you deserve.”

Grumblejack He comes closer, pressing his face against the cell window. When he gets close, you can see cuts and bruises covering him.

Lucavi Lucavi draws near enough, allowing the ogre to look upon his own scars.

Damodred Damodred, becoming frustrated with them taking so long, approaches the cell and pushes his way to the bars. He peers through them angrilly and says, “In or out. I’ll keep you safe from these louts if you’re in, if you’re out say it… if you waste more of my time…” he concludes on a menacing tone.

Grumblejack “Dat don’t make no sense… but youse little ‘uns do a lotta shit don’t make no sense. Lock me up in here stead of killing me right off, fer a start.”

Puella “Lucavi, he could…” Puella pauses as she realizes she might as well speak to the ogre directly. “Would your have your hurts healed in reward for your aid?”

Grumblejack “Youse can do dat? Hmmm… yeah, okays. Youse let me outta here, youse patch me up, I fights for ya.”

Lucavi “A mistake they seem to have made five times too many,” Lucavi muses.

Damodred Damodred nods firmly and moves back to watch the guard’s door.

Puella Puella approaches. “There will be pain. Endure, and see your wounds healed, the reward of obedience.” She begins the spell.

Gaerlan Gaerlan looks on.

Grumblejack “Youse gots some kinda medicine, er…” his eyes go wide when she starts casting magic, and he freezes in place.

Puella The spell burns, the pain of old wounds heightening for just a moment as that which mortified the flesh is recalled in order to be undone. Soon silvery scars begin replacing injuries.

Grumblejack Grumblejack hisses as the pain of sword and club stings him, then lets it out in a long sigh. He’s still a long way from fully healthy, but noticeably better off than he was. He gazes at Puella in something like awe. “I… I th… thank youse.” The words don’t seem to fit his mouth very well.

Puella Puella looks at the ogre. “Remember then our bargain.” She turns her attention to the cell.

Gaerlan Gaerlan stands by the entrance to the block as the woman goes to work. He glances at Damodred and nods at the elf.

Puella Puella’s fingers slip at first as she works with the lock – perhaps the ogre is a more intimidating presence that she lets on – and one lockpick falls to the floor. She flinches reflexively, and it is a long moment before she reaches down to try again.

Damodred He shrugs, “Whenever you’re ready.” he says quietly to Gaerlan.

Puella Despite the faint shaking of her fingers she masters the lock on the second attempt.

Grumblejack The door opens, and Grumblejack steps out, and stretches to his full, nine-foot height, head scraping the ceiling. He looks down at Puella, with what is probably meant to be a smile. “Dat’s nice. Now, let’s get smashin’s. Gots ta smash dese ‘uns quick, though. Dey gots dese horns, and when dey blow ’em, more comes’ running. Blew ’em when dey brought me here, right before dey fed me dat nasty shit.”

Lucavi “You mean the food?” Lucavi asks, distracted.

Grumblejack “Nah, dat not bad. Some kinda nasty drink, dey made just for Grumblejack. Made me… less strong.”

Lucavi “I see,” Lucavi muses, filing the information from the ogre away for later.

Damodred Seeing the ogre free and ready to fight, Damodred nods for Gaerlan to open the door.

Puella Puella nods. She glances over into their old cells, and after a moment’s thought she retrieves the improvised weapon that Damodred created and offers it to the ogre.

Grumblejack “Hey, dat’s not bad.” He takes an experimental swing with it. “Kinda little, but good smashin’.”

Puella Puella does not even flinch as the chain whistles (well) overhead – perhaps it was not the ogre after all. In any case, she turns to Lucavi. “How should we best disable the guards?”

Damodred Damodred sighs, “Just open the door… I’ll put them to sleep.”

Lucavi “If the elf can force the guards to sleep, it would be a quiet end for them.”

Gaerlan “The best end.”

Puella Puella nods, but she allows someone else to open the door.

Grumblejack “Heh. Quiet good. Quiet safe. Loud gets ya caught.”

Gaerlan Gaerlan moves to the door, counting down with one hand before he yanks it open.

Damodred As soon as Gaerlan begins counting, Damodred begins casting his spell.

Puella As the guards look up in surprise, Puella readies her magic in case either of them should go for his horn before Damodred’s spell is complete.

Lucavi Lucavi sprays acid at the nearest guard.

Guard He blinks at the sting, wondering how you got something to throw at him. Both guards ready their swords and shields. “Alright you scum, I don’t know how you got out, but you’re going right back where you started!” One advanced towards you, not seeing Gaerlon beside the door, and stops in shock at seeing Grumblejack free. “Mitra!” The other hangs back for the moment.

He makes another, significantly less holy exclamation, as Gaerlan’s knife stabs into his shoulder.

Damodred Damodred finishes his spell, but is unable to catch both guards within it since they spread out. He targets the cautious one.

Guards Both the guard bleeding from a stab wound, and the one holding back nervously fall, their eyes rolling back. One of them lets out a snore, the other is a drooler.

Grumblejack Grumblejack looks impressed.

Guard …and then the one in the room with you shakes it off. “Sorcery!”

Damodred “Ugh, wizardry. Plebs can never tell the difference.” He complains.

Gaerlan Gaerlan digs the dagger from the guard’s shoulder and tries to bury it in the man’s throat, “Worry about that later.”

Guard He barely raises his shield in time to block it, eyes wild with fear.

Puella Puella clenches a fist. “You were bid to sleep. Have you, too, not learned obedience?”

Damodred “What? No. It’s important – there is a very fine disintinction between the laziness and curdishness of sorcery and the glamor and jeua de’vive of wizardry.”

DM He joins his comrade in slumber. The narrator suspects he shall never awaken.

Lucavi Not if the claws of Lucavi Delacroix have anything to say about it, and as it happens, they do.

Puella “Slay him swiftly. My charm lacks the strength of a true spell.”

Damodred “Leave the other to me, if you do not mind. It will give me something to do while you lot spend the next twenty minutes figuring out our next step.”

Grumblejack Grumblejack was about to stomp his head in, but he looks at the magic-man, and nods.

Gaerlan “I would rather he be slain in the block than the hall.”

Damodred Damodred nods as he pauses by Puella to trade the spell-component pouch for the dagger. He smiles thinly and requests, “Would you mind carrying him this way for me?” of Grumblejack.

Puella The party swiftly takes stock of the room and guards.

Gaerlan Gaerlan begins stripping the slain guard of his armor, clothing, and weapons.

Lucavi Lucavi arches an eyebrow at Gaerlan’s intrusion upon his kill, but says nothing.

Gaerlan Gaerlan catches Lucavi’s eye, “Fine.” He leaves the dead guard’s gear in a pile for the rival knight and moves into the cell to examine the other guard’s gear.

DM Meanwhile

Damodred Damodred spends some time shackling and then torturing the second guard for information.

Grumblejack Grumblejack nods, grudgingly, and moves the guard as you wish. He watches in your torture in fascination.

Damodred Locked securly in Grumblejack’s cell with the door closed so the sound of screaming doesn’t carry, Damodred demands information on the layout of the prison, when the next guard shift will arrive, etc. But, most importantly, he searches for information about the rival wizard.

Guard “Aagh! An hour, a little over an hour!” His blood flows freely.

Puella Puella glances over the new room and then vanishes to aid Damodred as well. Her aid is curious, though… a tender touch, a soothed wound, a cool rag on the face when things get rough. This guard will not soon slip away into sweet oblivion. She speaks not a word the whole time.

Guard “I… the bridge! That’s only one way out besides swimming, and getting smashed on the rocks! Aaaagh!” His teeth clench this time, holding his tongue.

Damodred Damodred glances at Grumblejack to give him a bit more encouragement. (The guards equipment, of course, lays in a neat pile by the door. Damodred wouldn’t have wanted it to get dirty.)

Guard At least until the ogre shakes him a bit. “Aagh! Okay, okay! The warden never leaves his tower! Not unless he hears an alarm. He lets Blackerly run the whole place for him, and just has us bring him his meals, and any of the prisoners’ books or stuff that looks magical. We gave him the girl’s mask, that was it! Please, Mitra, make it stop!”

Damodred “Of course.” Damodred jabs the dagger in the man’s throat to stifle his screams before slowly beginning to flay him. The elfin fellow has little skill, so it is a sloppy job, but the message (when found) should be clear.

Puella “Oh!” The exclamation breaks Puella’s silence even as the guard dies.

Gaerlan Gaerlan casually slips into the tortured guards clothing and gear. He frowns at Damodred’s antics.

Damodred He looks up at the woman apologetically, “Ah, sorry..” he wipes a speckle of blood from her chin (really only managing to smear more blood in its place since he is covered with it), “..I’ll give a bit more warning next time.”

DM Since he cannot scream, he dies whimpering, making what would be either prayers to his god, or perhaps calls to his mother. You will never know.

Puella She shakes her head. “The Mask. We must regain it before we leave.”

Lucavi The knight dons the armor, buckling the swordbelt to his waist and stowing the shield on his back. He examines the keys, keeps them, and holds the horn thoughtfully.

Grumble “Totem mask? Like shaman used to wear?” Grumblejack asks curiously.

Damodred “Easy. We thin the ranks then sound a horn. While he moves to investigate, we pillage and loot.” he turns his attention to Lucavi, “Can you get that door off its hinges so our large friend has a shield?” he points to the bricked cell door.

Lucavi “We should deal with the shift change as we did this one. Then we find out who takes the wizard his meals. Replace them and deal with him alone, rather than en masse with his troops.”

Damodred Damodred moves in to the other room and considers how to extinguish the fire, “Gaerlan? Can I get that rope?”

Lucavi Lucavi applies acid to the hinges of the door as he lays out his plan.

Gaerlan Gaerlan nods at Damodred, “Our thoughts closely align. It would be better not to fight the wizard if at all possible.” He digs out the rope for the wizard.

Damodred He takes the rope and wraps it around himself, “Don’t suppose you have a trick to put this fire out?”

Puella “I do not know the signal for the alarm.” Puella points out.

Lucavi “Why not simply…” Lucavi swats out some of the glowing embers.

Grumblejack “I got sometin.” Grumblejack goes to his cell and returns with a bucket, from which an absolutely vile smell emanates.

Damodred Damodred quickly holds his nose. Again to Gaerlan, “You have the clean uniform, good.. can you check the corridor while I secure this to the roof?”

Grumblejack He looks at you questioningly. “You want for fire?”

Damodred Damodred nods at the ogre, “Please.”

Lucavi “No. Absolutely not.”

Puella “And it is my mask.” she replies to the ogre. “I must…” she glances around at Gaerlan, Damodred, and settles on Lucavi, then swallows… “I must get it back.”

Damodred “We’ll get it back… I’m just covering our tracks.” he comforts Puella.

Lucavi “I will deal with the fire, without causing everything for three miles to smell of dung.”

Gaerlan “Just another guard.” Gaerlan wanders into the hall.

Damodred “I can’t get us all out through the roof; we’ll have to go through the castle. But, let them wonder when they find a rope leading up the chimney.”

Grumblejack Grumblejack shrugs, and sets it in a corner.

Lucavi “Again, let us discover these guards plans, and inset ourselves within them.”

Damodred “Certainly.”

Lucavi “Let us get orders to the chambers of their leader, and bring him his food. Perhaps with powdered glass within it.”

Puella Whilst the party plans, Puella seeks the passage to the next level and listens, wondering if any snippets of conversation might reveal what lies ahead.

Grumble While the others plot, Grumble nods to the little witch-girl. “Shaman keep soul in mask. Important.”

DM At the bottom of the staircase, is a room with an open door that leads out into the main hall, and a lit torch in a sconce. There is nothing else of interest here. Two guards stand out in the hall, their backs to you.

You just barely make out, “so when’s the next card game?” “I dunno, Blackerly took all my money in the last one.”

Damodred After Lucavi puts out the fire, Damodred nods his thanks and steps carefully into the embers before magically floating up, up, and away!

Grumblejack Grumblejack watches Lucavi put out the fire with his bare hands. Once again, he is very impressed at the lack of burning. “How you do dat?”

Lucavi “A free man knows no fear of flame.”

Puella She nods. “I may not come before Him like this.” She gestures to her face.

Lucavi “Do not dismiss your beauty so lightly,” Lucavi says seriously. “Nonetheless, we shall regain your mask.”

Gaerlan “Guards below?” he asks Puella.

Grumblejack Grumble sits and thinks about that while the rest of you talk.

Puella “Two.”

Gaerlan “A tempting target…”

Lucavi “There is food below us. Perhaps the wizard’s meals await even now.”

Gaerlan “Later. If the guards arrive for the change over and find their fellows we will lose all opportunity to pick them off.”

DM If so, dear readers, then the wizard eats very late, as the midnight shift is just about to start their work! And they have no idea how interesting that work is going to be tonight, do they? For tonight, Branderscar prison is in the midst of the first prison break in its long history! Will these fledgling villains be the first to break its perfect record? Or will their stories end in ignominous defeat? Join us next time, dear readers, as we return to the Way of the Wicked!

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