Two years have passed since the party’s last adventure. There are no experience or levels in Journeyman. Instead, skills are accrued over time. It is my belief that adventures are infrequent things, and that 2-5 years pass between them, giving the characters a chance to improve, to seek romance or promotion, or to devote some time to a career.
Josette spent that time ensconced in the library of the Imperial College of Magic, training in Telepathy, Sorcery, and Shaping. She also refreshed her gang of spirits, binding a bear pouka and a medium earth elemental to supplement her Selkie and small fire elemental.
Brendon easily enlisted in the Royal Archers, though what he trained in won’t be known until his player returns from his honeymoon.
Alexios practiced his art, poorly. He made a profit but was flogged twice (the laws of Anthavar have become more severe over the many years we have been playing, but I haven’t revised the yearly update rules recently, so he got off easy). Alexios worked on his weapons, Marksmanship, and Sneak. He also had two new romances, both with older women. His first was a 41 year old merchant with 9 kids, who now serves as his second fence. The second was with a 51 year old knight whose political power may prove useful in the future. He toyed briefly with the idea of revisiting Gardell to see if any two-year-olds bore a family resemblance, but after learning that such a visit would cut into his training (and hence his skill increases), he decided to put it off.
Ian enlisted as a man-at-arms for the first year, and then invested 500 p. in greasing some palms for a promotion, and made it into the Royal Archers, a much more remunerative post. He began a romance with a Seer, and continued it for a second year. He swears he is not thinking of marriage, but she sees a different future for him.
Somehow, Brendon and Alexios both made enemies of the masters of the Cheesemakers’ Guild. I have no idea how that will enter the game yet.
The night’s game began with the death of Alagga Swerd, a Night Guardsman in the Maze. The original rumor of her death was that it was an overdose, but in reality it was an overdose of steel in the belly, all too common in the Maze.
While this was interesting, the main adventure began when Ian’s neighbors Falairmmalind & Meredith Pountfrete screamed that their baby had been stolen. A number of baby thefts had occurred recently, so much so that Uncle Toby of the Broken Branch gang had offered 10,000 s. to anyone who brought an end to the thefts.
A good deal of time was wasted at the start as Ian hired a seer to scan not only himself but all of the rest of the party as well, at 300 p. a pop. He wanted to be sure none of them had stolen the baby. That lost a good four hours on the search.
Once that was done, the party tried a number of methods to discover the culprit, but none were successful. Josette and Ian went door to door up near Wellom Way, where Alagga’s body had been found. Brendan and Alexios went to talk to some of the Apple Pie Gang that Alexios knew. Brendan managed to screw that up again, and Alexios was furious that another of his underground contacts was turned against him, so Alexios sent Brendan into the Apple Pie Inn to interrogate the leader of the Apple Pie gang. Brendan was surrounded, threatened, and tossed out into the pig feces of the road. Alexios enjoyed his belly laugh. Finally, Josette was approached by a talking cat who claimed to know who did the deed, and who led them to an innkeeper who identified her as Meryld de Neuton, a local addict. He didn’t know who her supplier was, but by chance he pointed them to the exact right drug dealer, Andrew Trewe. Andrew remained calm under questioning, but Josette read his surface thoughts and signaled to the others that he knew more than he let on. As Alexios mentioned the reward, Andrew bolted, but he tumbled over something in the alley (perhaps a cat) and Ian caught him. Brendan threatened to skin the man alive, while Ian begged Brendan to take it easy and just skin one hand. Since Brendan’s player was on his honeymoon, the parts of Ian and Brendan were both played by a single player, who carried on some rather amusing schizoid arguments between his two identities. Excellent roleplaying!
Andrew spilled what he knew, and Josette confirmed he told the truth. If they had pressed him further, the adventure might have ended much sooner, but they accepted his description of where to find Meryld and let him go, promising to visit him later if necessary. Meryld, it turned out, had overdosed, and there was no sign of baby Bailey. When they returned to find Andrew, he had fled, only to turn up with a slit throat the next day.
With leads drying up, Garyyan the talking cat revealed that she was tracking the baby snatchers because she believed they were connected with a faery drug ring smuggling Elfin Dreamwax into town in exchange for human male babies to be sold to the Red Elves. She told the party she could guide them to Faery and the Red Elfin city of Cramoisi, where they might pick up the trail, but the party was distracted by internal dissension that bordered on fist fights, and also by an increase in violence in the Maze. Ian went to his Sergeant in the Archers to explain that the reason he had not been at work the last two days was that he had been looking for a missing baby, which a magical beast had told him had been taken by the Red Elves. Sgt. Frizwald was not having any, and kicked both Ian and his friend Brendan out of the Archers and made them turn in their tabards.
At dinner on the third night of the adventure, Alexios (a member of the Walshe gang) was attacked by six bravos from the Waller gang. The rest of the party aided him and quickly tore through the attackers. Alexios’ new weapon skills proved their worth, while Josette’s bear clawed attackers down with ease. Josette’s fire elemental sent one foe fleeing from the inn, only to die two blocks later from his burns. Ian tried to leap a table but ended on his face, and then faced a vastly inferior foe who would just not give up. Ian delivered two grim wounds and a major wound, but the bravo kept making his WILL rolls against the onset of shock and his Courage rolls to keep fighting. Alexios attacked him from the back, and again, he sustained another grim wound but kept fighting. It took yet another grim wound to his abdomen by Ian to put him down. The remaining two foes surrendered. One died from blood loss and the other tourniqueted his near-severed leg and dragged himself from the inn, grimly nodding in polite agreement as Alexios lectured him at length on his stupidity for attacking them. Ian’s player meanwhile gleefully traced a bloody trail on the hex map and even added a touch of blood to his sword on his cardboard hero. Along the way, the party learned that Edolina Waller’s son Grieg had been killed, and the gang blamed his death on Rametta Walshe, so there was an open contract out on all of the Walshe gang members.
Alexios tried to use this moment to endear himself with Rametta, sending money and blades to her. Ultimately, he went to her personally, and was welcomed by Rametta and given the task of joining the rest of her men in protecting her. He went outside to get the rest of the party, and when he came in he was stunned to see two of Rametta’s men cutting down the rest. He literally refused to believe it, even as Josette tried to convince him of what was happening. As the party stared, one of the men swung his longsword at double normal speed, killing a man with each stroke. The men he was cutting down were Rametta’s best, men more skilled than even Ian with the blade. The first to die was Yellowknife, Rametta’s own son, followed by Georg of Barton and Otho the Unlucky. The stranger’s left flank was guarded by a dancing sword who held two men at bay, and his right flank was protected by a young man of great skill. Josette had her earth elemental form a protective wall around Rametta and herself, while Alexios lunged towards the stranger’s left flank, only to be met by the dancing sword. Ian initially hoped for a way to enter the melee, but as he watched the stranger, his apprehension mounted. The man struck twice as fast as anyone should, and with the strength of two to three men. The stranger cut through a man’s entire thigh, plate mail and all. His skill with a blade was unparalleled. Ian was a master of the sword twice over, but he knew he could not stand against this man in single combat. And the stranger’s plate armor glinted strangely in the low light, hinting that it too was unusual. The night ended here, as the party considered the possibility that they might need to retreat, and fairly quickly.