Episode 1: Farewell (DramaSystem: Heroes of the City)

In the inn where the Oriene, King of the Dwarfs, has made his base of operations, Elron is visiting the king in his bedchamber. He is pleased to learn that, as soon as Oriene finishes dying from the poison he received during the final battle, his son will take the Dwarfs away from the city (removing a challenger for power from the field of political battle).

Meanwhile, in Alec’s spire, the mage explains to Stefan that his treatment is only a delaying action and that it will take a lot of work hard to find a real cure. Alec reminds him of the debt he now owes.

Orien calls Xathra — “the only truly honourable one among the heroes” — to him and asks her to look in the forests beyond the city for his son, who has gone seeking Sarissa. She agrees.

Stefan seeks out Elron in the throne room and demands payment. When this is rejected he suggests a title in lieu of of it. Elron suggests “Chief of Police”, which Stefan finds insulting and rejects. He then tries translating the title it into Elvish but (after winning a procedural) Stefan is not fooled. The mercenary demands a dukedom and the right to control taxation. Elron agrees to make arrangements.

Xathra finds Stefan as he is leaving the tower and asks for his help tracking the Dwarf Prince. He agrees but they are interrupted by a masked figure they recognise as The Nightstalker. He offers his help but is rejected, as Xathra does not trust him or his methods.

The Nightstalker follows Xathra, Stefan and their men through the woods and (after an epicly and improbably bad series of card draws) crashes through the branches and thuds to the ground.

Here we ended the first session. It was quite short as we had character generation to do first. We picked up the next day at the point where we left off.

Having heard the noise, Xathra and Stefan attempt to capture whomever was following them but he escapes before they can identify him.

Stefan and Xathra find Prince Balor trussed up in spider silk hanging from the room of a cave. Xathra sends a scout in to investigate but he emerges soon after screaming and covered in hundreds of tiny spiders, he is clearly doomed. After Xathra executes the coward, she thrusts a burning torch towards the spiders and discovers that the they are not fond of fire. She and Stefan set the webs on fire and enter the cave to save the Prince, hoping that the spiders and the fire don’t get them or him first. It is a tough challenge and it is only successful thanks to the interference of The Nightstalker, who had circled back after evading pursuit.

Stefan, Xathra and the warriors take Balor back to the city, but the Nightstalker hangs back. He had spotted Sarissa lurking in the forest and decided to challenge her. She claims that she intended to help Balor but the others rescued him before she could interfere. The Nightstalker demands her knowledge of poison to save the Dwarf King and she agrees, so long as he can get her safely into the city. There is some allusion to prior intimacy between them.

Elron (jumping the queue with a bennie) emerges from the forest (which appears to be simply full of lurking spies today) and asks The Nightstalker to assassinate Stefan, using the threat of revealing his dealings with Serissa to try to blackmail him. He promises to consider it.

Odson the Goblin brings a dead ensorceled warrior to the attention of Alec. Something caused him to drop dead while he was guarding the unstable portal that fills the upper level of the spire. The mage is displeased with the news and with the goblin.

Alec goes to Oriene and promises to find a cure for him. The dwarf, distrusting the mage, accepts only grudgingly. Xathra and Stefan announce that Balor is safe and is recovering, but still unconscious, in the next room. (Not least because the rules forbid putting the GM in a position where he has to have a conversation with himself; they allow only one speaking NPC per scene).

Xathra seeks the help of Alec to find the killer of her father, he agrees but, in order to divert attention from his brother, also brought up the subject of the person who paid for the assassination and said he would find him too.

Stefan seeks out the Nightstalker and sounds him out on his brother and Stefan’s poison. The Nightstalker tells him he believes that Alec could cure it easily (implying that Stefan is being led on).

The Nightstalker and Sarissa visit the bedchamber of Oriene while he sleeps. She waves her hands above the Dwarf and some some kind of purple mist, possibly a potion, possibly a spell, possibly a combination of the two appears above him and he sinks into deeper sleep. As she begins to examine him, they are interrupted by Elron. The elf begins to threaten them, but Sarissa casts some of the purple mist at him and he falls unconscious. She finishes her examination of the dwarf and The Nightstalker takes Elron away.

Elron wakes up in his own bed in the tower to find a very short, rose-scented goblin — Odson — watching him. Knowing what the elf desired from Alec, Odson offers to teach Elron magic in exchange for protection (I’m not sure what he fears he former master’s wrath for the most; leaving his service or stealing his supply of bath oils) and his own lab. After seeing a demonstration of the goblin’s own magical skill, the elf agrees.

Elron shows Odson his new lab and asks him to do something to weaken Stefan. The goblin, being a sneaky kind of fellow (and one controlled by a GM who is trying to encourage indirect action that is better handled with dramatic, rather than procedural, scenes), suggests spreading a plague amongst the slums to harm his men and thus his power base. Elron tells him to take care of it and he agrees to steal something useful from Alec’s supplies if the Prince could distract the mage for long enough.

Alec approaches Elron for help investigating the death of his warrior, and he agrees to send a healer to the spire.

Xathra and Elron meet on the training grounds to spar and each tries to prove themselves the greater swordsman. Xathra wins — this time — but resorts to a sneaky rabbit punch to achieve victory.

Stefan, taking advantage of the crowd that gathered to watch the fight challenges Elron to keep his agreement and either pay up or award him the title he desires. Elron uses legal trickery to delay things with Stefan demanding that the slums be cleansed before the contract could be considered to be fulfilled.

The Nightstalker tries to convince Xathra that assassins are weapons and are not guilty of making the decision to commit murder but confesses that he only accepts contracts that he feels are worthy so she rejects his argument.

Sarissa is waiting for Stefan in the watchhouse. With her lover — the Archmage — dead, she seeks a new patron and sees Stefan as a good candidate, or at least one more trustworthy than Elron. She is shocked by the curse flowing through him and cannot understand how he bears the pain. She flirts with him and offers to free him of the curse in exchange for his protection. When he agrees she tells him that she needs a cup of blood from the Archmage’s line and that he can get it from either of the von Rose twins.

By this stage in the game, it was no surprise to any player that the brothers were twins (as Nightstalker’s former mentor, Stefan was already aware (although Xathra and Elron were not) but the twins parentage was a bombshell I dropped that went down pretty well at the table. It opened up a lot of possibilities and casts a nasty tone over Sarissa’s relationship with the Archmage’s children. She isn’t a nice character.

That night, the Nightstalker sneaks Sarissa into Oriene’s chambers once more and she attempts to cure him. Her magic involves needles that are embedded in his flesh but her work is interrupted by Alec. He argues that his cure is the better one and she, reluctantly while declaring her fear that even if his technique works the side effects will be horrible, agrees to help him. He fails and the King passes to the next life as the credits roll.

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