GURPS: Casus Belli

2x09, Burning It Down

Act I: Scouting Party

  • 28 September, 457 Anno Domini Nostri Iesu. Only moments have elapsed since Bradán finished decapitating his foe. The other PCs have, by now, rejoined him whereupon they discover that none of their foes are capable of being interrogated – they are all dead or mortally wounded and bleeding out. By the sounds of things, it appears that the fires are now under control.
  • Four figures approach – it is Morgan, one of Marcus’ men, and Isibel who is prodding a bound man forward with a spear. They are all dirty, sooty and smell of fire, but Morgan focuses entirely upon Meadhbh – he is furious that she has been fighting! In her condition?! What is she thinking? This is the first time most of the other characters (except Heddwyn, who is quite observant) have realized she is with child and Marcus promptly starts to agree with Morgan. This prompts Meadhbh to react angrily at the two – she is stubborn, after all…
  • Bradán, also, loses his temper though this is due to his anger over the bickering over what he perceives as irrelevant when they have just been attacked. Recognizing his foul mood, Morgan nods toward their prisoner and reveals that this is sole survivor of the three arsonists – the other two were killed during apprehension. Bradán grabs one of the dead (or dying, he doesn’t really care) would-be ambushers and decapitates the man in front of the captured arsonist before ordering, “Now, talk!”
  • The prisoner talks. He will reveal that he and the others were hired to kill Lord Bradán. This ambush was their leader’s plan … and he was the archer. Who hired them? Lord Serigi who wants revenge upon the slight against his honor. By now, everyone has heard of how Bradán intimidated the crap out of him and how Serigi publicly backed down, although by now the story has evolved so Bradán physically assaulted the man and dragged him across his manor by his ear.
  • Suddenly, the armcry is raised: there are people in the woods! The PCs rush to assemble their warriors to defend, but this turns out to be unnecessary as the people are revealed to be refugees from Bryn Euryn, among which are Addiena (with a spear) and a very badly wounded Argante (who is barely conscious and is mostly being carried by Addiena and one other woman.) Heddwyn goes into medical mode and checks Argante’s injuries which are dire: she appears to have taken a spear thrust to the belly and is likely hovering at or around Death Check threshold, although he is confused because the cut is too perfect to be that of a spear.
  • During this, Addiena (who is thoroughly exhausted after having walking all day and night), reveals what has happened. She saw Lord Berthgwyn fall and her brother, Owain, trying to fight the murderers off. Then the Traitors – Lords Ieuan, Rhodri, and Serigi – attacked with a great force. Addiena is angry at herself that she ran like a scared rabbit then, though she finally regained control of herself and returned where she observed the Traitors and a dark-haired woman she did not recognize standing over Owain. The woman did something to Addiena’s brother who screamed and the Traitors had him bound. Addiena then retreated as the Traitors’ forces were running around being warrior types where she discovered a badly wounded Argante. Rallying the fleeing citizens of Bryn Euryn, they set out for safety and to get help from the only people she believes she can help.
  • Enraged, Bradán declares his intention to march against Lord Serigi’s manor and seize the man’s family to use as hostages. This promptly results in a passionate and fierce argument between him and Marcus who insists that they can not go that route because that will make them monsters as well. Heddwyn does what he can to ameliorate the dispute, knowing that they simply need to keep Bradán from doing something rash long enough for him to calm down. In the end, Bradán decides that they need more intel so he orders Angus and Gwion to head to Bryn Euryn immediately for intel.
  • It takes several hours for the two men to reach the woods outside of the village, thanks entirely to the pair of horses they borrowed. They secure the steeds and stealth forward where they discover that Bryn Euryn is now an armed camp with a lot of men present. There are more than a hundred warriors, all of whom appear to be highly discplined as they setup defenses. All seem to be carrying black shields. Interestingly, they are actively kill any and all animals within the area of effect.
  • Even more horrifying, though, is that these Blackshields are crucifying people! And then, to the surprise of both Angus and Gwion, one of those being tortured thus is none other than Lord Rhodri! Just as the two are coming to grip with this, Gwion recognizes the black-haired woman standing with Lords Ieuan and Serigi: it is none other than Aeronwen!

Act II: Rescue Rangers

  • The sounds of someone sneaking through the woods draws the attention of the two and Angus is able to find Siobhain who is far more capable of stealth than Gwion would have thought considering her reputation (from Vertis) as a woman of loose morals. She gestures for them to follow her and sneaks toward a small cave where they discover her sleeping children, Lord Idnerth (who is wounded), and a critically injured Druid Adaryn.
  • From Siobhain and Idnerth, they learn that these warriors appear to be mercenaries who hold allegiance to Diwrnach the Bloody, king of Lleyn. Based on their actions, they appear to be expecting an attack by Bradán and Siobhain adds she has overheard several of the scouts referencing a secret weapon of some sort. There is a brief argument regarding the next step – Idnerth instructs them to leave him and get Druid Adaryn to safety, but Siobhain is adamantly opposed to that since Idnerth rescued her and her children. Upon learning that Angus and Gwion have horses located nearby, though, Idnerth allows himself to be convinced to evacuate with them.
  • En route to the horses, they hear a brief skirmish nearby and Angus, unable to contain his curiosity, moves to investigate where he discovers a single living man and three dead ones; of the dead, one of them is dressed as a Blackshield. The survivor has pure white hair despite being a young man and his expression is that of a man deeply in shock. Angus finally recognizes this man as one of Rhodri’s warriors so he decides to get the man to follow them back to Caerhun in order to interrogate them.
  • It is mid-morning by the time they reach Caerhun once more where they discover that the others have been readying a defense. Druid Adaryn is hussled off to the sickhouse after Heddwyn confirms that there is little he can do at the moment, and the rest of the PCs debate their next move. Marcus is passionate about locating Princess Brigid, which certainly attracts Addiena’s notice, but no one know where she (or Bruinn) have vanished to. All of the PCs are surprised to learn that Aeronwen is still alive and evidently running things, not Ieuan or Serigi. They wonder aloud how this is possible.
  • The white-haired man interjects in a shocked-sounding voice that she (Aeronwen) is a monster. With Heddwyn prodding him, he reveals that Aeronwen told the Traitors that she has a spy within Bradán’s ranks and then one of the mercenary leaders pointed out that his master needed Owain for his ritual in Ynys Mon. He and several of his men depart, taking the unconscious (but still alive) chief of Rhos to a waiting boat. Lord Rhodri mouthed off to Aeronwen in his usual way and she responded by tossing something at his feet that burst and blinded everyone. There were horrifying noises of … something crawling and then Lord Rhodri screamed and screamed and screamed … the warrior was among those blinded and when his sight returned, he saw Aeronwen standing over the fallen (and still screaming) Rhodri. She announced that she needed the blood of a highborn man to defend against the druids … and the white-haired man fled.
  • After some discreet discussion, the PCs decide to head to Ynys Mon in an attempt to rescue Chief Owain. The reference to a potential spy is troublesome so they decide to announce that they are heading to Caer Legion to seek King Cunedda’s aid, then sweep around and head west. Morgan, who is not enthusiastic about Meadhbh adventuring in her condition but knows better than to argue the point, is left in command and given instructions to advise Addiena discreetly of their destination. Because so many of the PCs are still exhausted, they opt to use Áedán’s cart so they can sleep in shifts. During this
  • It takes a full day for them to reach Caer Segeint where they hire a fisherman to ferry them across the Menai Strait to Ynys Mon. Bradán has trouble getting into the boat – his phobia of open water springs up here – and Meadhbh is violently sick (although that might be due to her pregnancy and not the water) but ultimately, they cross the strait and set foot on Ynys Mon. Now, they must find Chief Owain before it is too later…

GM Notes

  • Only nominally satisfied with this. Angus and Gwion’s misadventure dominated much of the session and I screwed up by not figuring out something for the other PCs to do during this. Marcus’ player recommended (initially) that all of the PCs do the recon while the Allies ready for defense or offense, but Bradán’s player argued that it did not make sense in game.
  • Following the scouting mission, my adventure notes were really minimal because I didn’t know which way the PCs were going to go.
  • Was not expecting Heddwyn to reach out to contact Myrddin via Dreaming so I’m going to handle that first thing next session.
  • Still irritated that I haven’t been able to really incorporate Áedán more.

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RigilKent

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