“Run For Your Life”
23 Imbolc, 2020au
Following the revelations and call to action after the discovery of a secret Treskeggmal in the crypt behind Brigand’s Rest, the Bordermen and their allies went to work, making the site defensible. Edmund put his Highmoor’s Seat military training to good use, mobilizing the Fancy Boot Gang and instructing them in the construction of palisades and trenches.
A unit of bowmen from House Archer arrived, all volunteers recruited by the Bordermen Society to help augment the site’s protection. Arthur and Byron instructed them in their duties and prepared quarters within the crypt for their growing regiment.
Hakmet set up a hospital and alchemical laboratory within the crypt, while Laylah attuned herself to the Treskeggmal itself. She spent her time crafting a Treskeggmal Staff from the branches of the tree. The staff allows the Bordermen to maintain contact with Laylah through the tree, even over great distances. After a short debate, the decided Hakmet should carry the staff on their behalf.
Events were escalating however. They learned of the death of Edmund’s father, Earl Padraic Stewart and the coronation of his brother Roderick. Whispers of the Earl’s untimely demise being the work of assassins circulated, then, word came that the fall of Iolaire College was the work of a Wardruna raid, despite Laylah’s own eyewitness account of the King’s forces being the aggressors.
First Lodge called on the Bordermen of Brigand’s Rest to travel to Iolaire on a reconnaissance mission, to gather much needed intelligence, assess the damage and casulaties, and clarify the combatants. Arthur, Byron and Togo, Edmund, and Hakmet set out at once, with Byron leading them on deer trails and hidden pathways southward, across Morgan and into the Razorbacks of House Hightower. The seldom tread trails led them to the ruin of Iolaire College atop Oak Hill. Stealthily entering through a breach in the great wall, they secreted themselves into the College Keep, known as the Colaiste Caisteal.
Finding sentries inside, dressed in the armors of House Blackmore and House Glover, the companions hid and observed, determining these were no ordinary soldiers, but highly trained warriors, like one would find in an honor guard. Hakmet volunteered to create a distraction and handed the Treskeggmal Staff to Arthur. When all was set, the Crescentian stormed out of hiding and boldly proclaimed to be an immortal wizard named Abdul ibn Alhazred. He threw a potion bottle in their direction creating a burst of fire and brimstone, the proceeded to lead them on a merry chase out and away from where his friends were lying in wait. Arthur, Byron, Edmund, and Togo slipped over the balcony rail and made their way down the southern corridor.
Creeping about, looking for entry into the Headmaster’s Hall, the companions were sure someone was hiding nearby, but errant voices led them to another room where two Glover crossbowmen were haggling over halfling leaf. When Edmund was accidentally spotted, the group made short work of the two sentries, searched their bodies, then went back to address the figure in hiding.
Bursting into a meditation chamber, they confronted Sandra Foalshire, a student at the College and a friend of Laylah Fortune. She had been hiding from the Whitemane assailants since the wall breach and agreed to show them the back way into Headmaster’s Hall. She led them down the corridor and into an open courtyard where two sentries stood watch.
These were more seasoned than the Glovers they had dispatched earlier and they put up a struggle, raising more guards to their aid, including plate clad Blackmores. Unfortunately, the young woman was felled by a Glover shortbowman, and as the companions attempted to flee back from whence they had come, more Blackmore’s had gathered — a plate armored knight alongside a bowman.
Byron felled the rival archer, while Edmund tackled the knight, driving him to the ground and prying his visor open, allowing Arthur to skewer the warrior’s face. But as they arose, with more knights and archers behind them, a new threat emerged.
Standing seven feet in height, Gregorian Castre strode down the hall with murderous intent. Clad in the armor of the Drakorum Dragonguard, Castre was the younger, and smaller brother of the Baron of Black Harbour.
Byron and Togo fled to the east, but the Dragonguard was upon Arthur and Edmund. He swung his great sword and Arthur was able to just parry the blow, but the force of it drove Hawkmoor into the wall and, still recovering from previous wounds, he felt every bit of it. Edmund threw sand in the behemoth’s face and he and Arthur raced for the keep entrance north of them, fighting their way past several more guards and noble fighters before gathering their mounts and fleeing the College. They feared for their friend, left behind in the keep, but they were out of options.
Meanwhile, Byron and Togo found themselves in the Headmaster’s Hall surrounded by armored knights and bowmen. To the south, standing atop the raised dais, were two fearsome figures — Father Aleister Whitemane, uncle of the king, and Earl Thorn Blackmore.
Fleeing to the north, Byron opened a door revealing the Feast Hall, filled with a veritable who’s who of Whitemane nobility with Houses Blackmore, Glover, and Paice in attendance. Byron was finding himself in deeper and deeper trouble. With no further options, he and Togo fled east and stumbled into the arms of Hakmet ibn Damar.
Hakmet led them to a nearby secret passage which deposited them into an underground river. Climbing into a boat, they rowed like there was no tomorrow, exiting the ruined College and eventually meeting up with their companions in the foothills of the Razorback Mountains, pursued by the king’s men, and with the singular good grace that they went unrecognized — or so they hoped.
to be continued