After a brief break during my move we finally had another session of Leylines, and our campaign marches steadily onwards. We resumed back in the room allocated to our PCs, where they are joined by their new ally Ricky. Awakened by a knock at the door they found Lieutenant Llewyn calling on them to visit with Captain Trenton, which Ricky took as his cue to exit the building, he and Llewyn expressing a mutual dislike for one another as they passed. Sed also left on his own, trying to find Bremen – Torval’s agent – again before the man can flee the city.
On the way to the Guardhouse, Llewyn quickly went over the full scope of the previous night’s events. While the PCs had charged into Parliament to protect city government, the other Militia troops in the area were busy elsewhere. To divert the guard’s attention and cause further damage, the civilian army had set fire to all the city’s food storage center’s, and they’ve since calculated a total loss of about 90% of the city’s reserve rations.
Worse, news of both that and the sudden coup were leaked to the public, likely by the very perpetrators, and now the merchants and citizens alike are fleeing the city for more stable ground. The guards are stopping merchant vessels and caravans out of necessity, to use their food supplies to bolster the city proper. But they lost a lot before the threat was detected, and with the high rate of decay after the loss of preservation runes, the supply of food within the city will quickly become dangerously low despite their efforts.
They reach the Guardhouse, where Ephraim and Eli gave their report to Captain Trenton. He then brought out Jun Xi, who had a report of his own. During the previous session he went to scout the approaching army in the mountains, and discovered who they are; they’re Queensguard, the personal guard and military force of the royal family of neighboring Selenne, and roughly 700 in number. This caused Trenton to level with Ephraim, who was a member of that nation’s embassy in town; if this is a declaration of war on Ganaval, and it comes down to a siege, would he return to his people? Ephraim truthfully answered he would, and the Captain was forced to take back the red eagle of Danton, the badge that labeled him a deputized member of the militia, although Trenton still hoped he would continue to support them until things came to that.
The Captain then gave them their task; with the militia stretched thin, he needed every hand to handle something, and he wants them to manage a separate investigation into the attack the night before. They need to drag down the leaders and end that threat before it invites total anarchy in the city. He directs them to a prisoner from the fighting the night before, and gives them leave to interrogate him. A quick good-cop bad-cop routine between Ephraim and Eli quickly got some information from him; the location of the last meeting his cabal had.
On their way out, Lieutenant Llewyn asked them to look into Evard’s Dogs during their investigation; the criminal organization had been strangely quiet for days now, and he’s worried about what that might mean. But before they can do so a young girl, no older than thirteen, emerged from the crowd, calling them by names and titles. Introducing herself with a curtsy as Alice, she grilled them about their deeds and reputations before allowing them on their way, skimming over any questions about her reasons by saying she’s “considering a contract”.
Snow reappeared at this point as the group talked about how long it’d been since they’d all been together. Jun Xi showed a lot of hesitation in letting Snow come, still underestimating her because of her gender, and still seemed put off at the thought of the young girl they’d met before getting involved in any of the danger they were currently facing. Eli, on the other hand, was just happy she’d used his title of “Rail Tracer”, while Ephraim didn’t think much of it one way or the other.
The group then chose to investigate the site of the cabal’s last meeting rather than contacting Ricky, and quickly found several clues. Ephraim took a new red-eagle badge from a dead undercover militia officer they found there before they continued their investigation with the warehouse owner, Dorin Fernand. Dorin was very cooperative, giving them the name and address of his warehouse manager, the only man who had the keys to that building, and thanked them for looking into the matter of the murder on his premises.
This led them to the manager’s house, where they found him cowering behind barricades with a few friends. Eli quickly intimidated them into dropping their weapons, and the man, Kyle, was able to give them the location of the next meeting in exchange for his freedom, promising that all he wanted was to leave town and wash his hands of all of it.
They tried to follow this lead, but unfortunately an interruption struck along the way. A black-garbed assassin, second-cousin to Snow, slipped and fell into the street before them, sending the two assassins accompanying him into motion along the rooftops. Ephraim caught that they were headed for a target behind them, and quickly spotted Alice, who had been quietly following them since the Guardhouse. The girl was trying desperately to pull something out of her riding skirts as the assassins advanced, and the group quickly burst into action to help her. Jun Xi and Eli were intent on protecting the girl while Ephraim and Snow sought vengeance on the assassins. One assassin in particular, whose name wouldn’t come to Snow’s mind, came very close to striking at Alice, but Eli and Ephraim combined efforts managed to trap him in an alley in the end. The other assassins fled, although Jun Xi gave short, unsuccessful chase.
Alice, filled with a melancholic rage, angrily fires the crossbow she has only now freed from her skirts into a nearby wall in anger, letting loose a maddened scream. She seems close to tears, but rebuffs Eli’s attempts to console her, showing a hardness that belies her age. Snow begins interrogating their prisoner then, who she managed to get the felling blow on when he tried to escape to the rooftops. Still unwilling to really hurt her family, just as they had been unwilling to harm her, she ended up leaving his fate to the others after a brief conversation made it clear the assassin felt no responsibility for his attempt on the child’s life, and had no information on the contractor . . . or at least none he would give. Noticing that time was running short to make it to that next meeting of the rebel faction, Eli let the man free.
Alice stepped forward then, although Snow testily told her to shut up when the girl took too much of a commanding tone. Alice then questioned what exactly their plan was, going into the meeting half-cocked, and suggested that if Snow thinks she’s so useless than she’ll infiltrate the meeting herself. Eli decided that it was too dangerous for the girl, and elected Snow to go instead. Alice reluctantly agreed, upset at failing to be of use, and told the group they could consider themselves hired, and they would receive compensation for their efforts in protecting her. She’s up front about it; the attacks wont cease, but she knows who wants her dead, although she wishes to keep that fact to herself for now. And when the time is right, she’ll need their help with one vital task. . . and after that she’ll give them full access to her family’s wealth.
They then began going over their options, Eli and Ephraim wondering if hiring Snow’s family would be an option. They eventually decided against it, on the grounds that Captain Trenton would never stand for working with a family of assassins; he wouldn’t even accept Snow, who had washed her hands of them. They gathered themselves as the sun began to set, and elsewhere the first arrivals began trickling in for the rebel meeting as they set out to their destination, Alice in tow. The plan: let Snow infiltrate, while Jun Xi, Ephraim and Eli wait outside for signs of trouble, avoiding contact and only gathering information unless the matter is pressed.
We had to break there for the night, but all in all the session went well. Alice is a very important NPC who, unless she gets killed or something, will be around for the next ten or so levels, and the party really formed strong opinions about her. Jun Xi’s player went as far as to sketch an image of her from my description at their first meeting, which proved helpful. The players were also a lot more active; there was a lot of roleplay, especially from normally quiet players like Eli’s. The intra-party conversations were also great, as they developed the relationships between them. Ephraim in particularly is kind of an odd man out now, as his loyalty no longer lies in the same place as the rest of the group.
It should be interesting to see what happens from here, especially when the Queensguard arrive. . . which while not next session, should be the following day in game-time. I have high hopes for all my players, and can’t wait to see how they handle the meeting, which is a double whammy of an rp and action climax for this adventure. And as for the following day. . . well, that’s when things will really go to shit, as if they weren’t bad enough already. Multiple factions in play, martial law failing, and the PCs will have to decide which threats they want to deal with. I can’t wait to get there, as shortly after that is when I plan to finally return their powers to them, after probably 7 sessions or more now of none of 4th Edition’s usual trappings.