dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Dramatis Personae
  • Andres of Troyes, Frankish Knight
  • Brother David, Cistercian monk
  • Eloise of Flanders, Handmaiden to the Countess and spy
  • Gilles de la Grave, Frankish Knight
  • Renault of Flanders, Frankish Knight
12 April, 1204

In service to Count Baldwin of France, the separate knights and monk assaulted the walls of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. After the city was breached and their share of looting had been done, they were all summoned to the count's presence. He met them in a small room with only his brother present and laid out a secret task for them.

The count believed that the rioting in the city was evidence of a malign force present, and says that his orders to turn over the loot to the lords for distribution and not unduly harass the Byzantines have both been almost completely ignored. He blames this on a cabal of Venetians--the other major group along with the French who were on the Fourth Crusade--who seek some bizarre statue and who worship an unknown pagan deity. He bade the group seek out this cabal and destroy it, and added that there were also rumors of a monster somewhere in the city preying on the crusaders and that if the group saw it, they were to kill it. Sending the group away, he told them to head to the northern basilica, where his men are holding a Venetian priest who was rescued from the cabal, and to speak to Brother Merovac the Leper, currently on board a leper ship in the harbor, and then swore them to secrecy.

Requisitioning horses for those who did not have them (i.e. Eloise), and began their ride through the city to the north, past scenes of wanton looting. At one checkpoint set up by the French, a Greek man and his teenage son were arguing with the knights, who started to arrest them as the group rides up. Eloise and Andres intervened, with Andres questioning the knights while Eloise, who speaks Greek, asking the Greeks what they were doing. They said they were trying to leave the city, and the knights said that their orders are for everyone to remain within. Eloise asked the Greeks to be patient for a couple more days, and they agreed and left. The knights did not arrest them, and they passed on.

Near a cistern entrance, Eloise spotted a French knight being dragged down the stairs and attacked by unknown assailants, and the knights and Brother David sprang into action to save him only to learn that it was a Varangian in disguise and his four compatriots jumped to attack.

They were not very competent warriors. The only wound suffered by the investigators was a light wound across Brother David's arm, whereas two of the Varangians were killed and the others fled into the depths of the cistern. After making sure that the bodies would not fall into the water and pollute it, they continued on their way.

Just before arriving in the northern basilica, they found a group of drunken knights who claimed to have been attacked by the monster. The group questioned them, but they couldn't agree on whether the monster flew or walked or was large or small, so eventually the investigators moved on.

The knights in the northern basilica were suspicious of the investigators, but Gilles and Andres have enough presence that they eventually convinced them and allowed them in to see the Venetian priest. He was raving about keeping "them" away and favoring an empty eye socket, and it took some effort by Eloise to calm him down and learn what he had to say. He had been captured by the cabal who were seeking a ritual to use the Devil's Simulare, a statue with powers from Hell itself. The priest described the whip-with-five-tails tattoo he saw on the Venetian who captured him and the location of the ritual, where he had hidden it for safekeeping behind a statue of the Virgin, and that the cabal called itself the Unburdened Flesh. Then he screamed that he could not keep them away any longer, a red eye appeared in his formerly-empty socket, and he said I SEE YOU in a voice that was clearly not his own. Then his head exploded, showering Eloise with sticky goo.

After quickly checking herself to make sure she was not infected or injured, the investigators told the knights to report back to the count, found a place to wash the pus and blood off Eloise--though not before she took a sample of it--and then discussed what to do next. Brother David favored an immediate assault on the church of St. Mocius where the ritual was hidden whereas Eloise thought they should speak to Brother Merovac and tell him what they had learned. The others agreed with Eloise, and so Brother David acquiesced under protest.

They rode to the harbor and, with some difficulty, found a boat willing to take them out to the leper ship. On board were silent lepers shrouded in robes, who directly the investigators below decks when they asked about Brother Merovac. The Brother was almost completely shrouded in robes and greeted them as they entered, then explained what he knew--the Venetian worship a being they call the Skinless One, but they lack true understanding of it. They seek a suit of armor, ceramic in appearance, that can grant its wearer true power, and the ritual the Venetian priest spoke of is what would let them find the armor. He also spoke of a Ramaldi who led the Venetians and that the doge may be part of the cabal as well, or at least sponsoring it, and of a Turkish sorcerer named Sedefkar who must be killed. He offered to perform the ritual, though as he did so he noted that Brother David had the air of a man who was learned in mysticism, and then bid them go with G-d on their quest.

Before sleeping, the investigators went to the Count and reported what they knew. The Count thanked them for their efforts and urged them to destroy the cult with all speed, then they retired for the evening.

In the morning, the investigators assembled and rode toward the church of St. Mocius. On the way, they find a strange sight--a ranting Greek priest, hung by his heels from a balcony, and two French priests with a Venetian prostitute, all extremely drunk, sitting underneath, and three dead knights and four Greeks lying around them. The drunken priests ask the knights for protection, saying that the Greek priest is a wizard and they are waiting for reinforcements, so the investigators wait. After almost half an hour of the drunken priests mentioning the black-cloaked figures skulking around the church of St. Mocius, the prostitute attempting to flirt with Renault of Flanders but falling over instead, and the Greek priest ranting about how he is a wizard who summoned the dragon from the waters to destroy the French and Venetians, the group got tired of waiting. After some debate about what to do, they cut down the Greek priest, executed him for the crime of witchcraft, and sent the others on their way.

As the game ended, the investigators rode over the hill toward the church and tightened their grip on their weapons.


Combat!

[livejournal.com profile] mutantur deliberately allocated the characters such that Demir's player was playing Eloise, while everyone else who is basically useless in combat in the main timeline was playing knights and the monk. It was an interesting reversal to have combat begin and just charge straight in, weapon held high, as well not always have to worry about the authorities and how we were going to explain ourselves. We did extremely well in combat too, which certainly helped. However skilled the Varangians were, their performance didn't show it.

There should be one more session of this, though you never know with our group. We have to stop the cabal and kill Sedefkar, and while that seems pretty quick, who knows what with combat being required. And our last interlude took about twice as long as expected...

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