We move on to Rockdale, to scout out the Iron Company and see what we need to do about them. Our go-to plan is just to buy them off.
Rockdale is not in great shape; it doesn’t look like it got cleaned up after the Solari Hunters rolled through. We are immediately swarmed by a group of beggars. They are, of course, pickpockets, and fairly successful ones. Geddy cloaks us with a Veil, so we aren’t obviously who we are. On the other hand, nobody seems to be watching us. Most of what’s open are taverns and one goods shop. There are three soldiers up ahead in matching outfits; they’re well-armed, better than most city guards. They’re busy roughing up a barkeep to get him to open up early. There’s also a traveling merchant and some prostitutes.
Geddy goes over to talk to the women of the night. Much to Geddy’s chagrin, they assume that it’s Eva who’s interested. Eva: “No, I’m just fixing up my aging husband.”
Prostitutes: “That’s fine, we can offer footrubs or back massages, or…”
Geddy: “You know, before the war…”
P: “You payin’ or not? Ten gold for the evening.”
They go off to find a room.
Geddy starts gathering information. The Iron Company can be a little difficult to deal with, but the whores are more worried about the part where they have to pay up front. They have money, they just don’t like to part with that. Their brigades have different personalities, too. The iron arms are the rank & file. Each brigade has its own heraldry and name and story. The brigades are organized into companies, each led by a company commander; mostly fighting men, but there is one called the black company that are like the spies or something. There are three Marshalls: a warrior, a druid, and the black locast, a sorcerer, who helps with intel and also destruction. The guy in charge is the Iron Lion, Lord Brassfare, who’s trying to stylize himself as a baron.
Geddy pays for another round. There isn’t a lot of trade coming through; it’s just crawling with the Iron Company, but the lack of trade is kind of universal now. She adds a backrub, and suggests that maybe he should just go talk to people around town.
We move from there to the chandlery, which is basic trade goods. Big guards out front, probably to keep the Iron Company in line. There’s a distinct lack of trade, and they got hit hard by the Solari hunters. They got it better than Garamond, which was nearly wiped off the map.
Geddy starts chatting with the shopkeeper. The taxes are just arbitrary, but the Iron Company isn’t that organized. Trade or shelter in Springhollow is possible, but there’s just a handful of Solari protecting that place. Travel is dangerous. A few people have headed up to Brightland, which is not exactly profitable but it is a lot safer.
The Iron Company have actually commissioned a few things. They’re from the east, and expensive to hire. The Iron Lion intends to make himself a baron – oh, and he has visitors from Grand Mashall Giles, from Wellfort.
Geddy and Tavros present themselves at the castle, with Eva and Leira posted outside in case we need help. The castle is overflowing with well-armed mercenaries. Geddy disguises himself as Young Geddy, with fancy clothes. The soldiers here are clearly professionals.
We’re greeted by Jon, the head of the black company.
“Tavros Fontaine. Heir to the throne. Here to speak to the Iron Lion.”
He apologizes, because the Iron Lion is busy with emissaries from Giles; he serves us some really nice wine while we wait. Geddy slips in a hint that maybe the Iron Lion doesn’t want to make any premature commitments before hearing this once-in-a-lifetime offer. This results in more sweets, more food, and another cask of even older and better wine. They don’t necessarily know what the best vintage is, but they definitely went for the oldest.
Finally, we come into the main room and meet the Iron Lion. He’s sitting sideways in the Baron’s chair, holding a glass of wine. The three sub-commanders are here, and a bunch of other people. This dude seems to enjoy having an entourage. He’s also fairly sure that he wants to put us in our place. The iron company are some of the best soldiers in Sol Povos, and there are 100 squads.
He wants 360,000 gold and they get to keep Rockdale. We dicker a bit, but for 240,000 and the opportunity to become our Grand Marshal – Grand Marshal Brasfer. He can assign his own ranks to his underlings. We ask for right of first refusal if he gets a better offer. Also, he’s bound for at least the first campaign. We put all 240,000 GP down, but only half up front; the other half goes to the bank in Vintos, to be held for after the first six months.
We go to report back to the crime lords, and figure out where best to employ the Iron Company. We have an elven king, Mithrandril; the iron company and crime lords; it’s a start.
Meanwhile, the demons have scaled Paras; those Solari are gone. Up north, Lamont is trying to remove all resistance, including the centaurs and druids. Lamont is now relocating elves to the south. Elvish revolutionaries attacked Springhollow, but were stopped by a mysterious and extremely good-looking force. Giles gathers up the Springhollow Solari and the Lamark merchants. Jenny, meanwhile, is just occupying the throne. The Tarrasque is chewing its way up towards Summerwynne. Vigo congratulates Martini on her good work.
Thierry P. Thierry is back when we return to Caristhium; so is Clovis. Thierry has pursued his quest. Clovis: “Yeah, I picked him up.”
Thierry: “I have written a ballad.”
Leira: “SPIT IT OUT!”
Thierry: “There were stories of this white knight! Now, the elvish revolutionaries of Aldpond attacked Springhollow; but they were intercepted by a White Knight.” By the time Thierry reached Springhollow, only stories were left behind. He gathered information from the common folk. Apparently the White Night headed west through the darkwoods. Thierry gave chase, VERY dramatically. He eventually arrived in Fairflower.
Tavros: “Perhaps we could cut through the chase?”
Thierry: “Well… that’s kind of where it ended. Sacha surrendered himself to get the wildlanders to spare the peasants.” So he’s captured, and in a dungeon in Fairflower.
Clovis: “Well, it’s not as simple as just riding in there and breaking him out. I mean, Sacha has a dark past now. It’s been a long time since he was the white knight you knew. He seeks atonement, and is a prisoner of that dark fate. It can only end in death or salvation.”
Tavros: “Let’s go make sure it’s salvation.”
Clovis: “Helios gave me a vision. The only path to saving Sacha… Well, let me explain.”
Thierry cuts in: “There we were, camped outside the walls, waiting for the end to come. This blight of an army was gathered outside, a host of horrors… and that’s not even to speak of the three great monsters known as the Solari hunters. The half-bear, the master vampire, and the dreaded necromancer with his undead army.”
Geddy has gone to sleep by this point.
The slaughter was stopped by the sacrifice of Father Montaigne, Lars Dagan, and and that other guy… who went out and got themselves killed by the Solari Hunters.
Clovis: “There was one more who remained between the Dark Army and the walls of Solstar. Gosterr Cherilus, the Avatar of Helios.”
Flashback to Evil!Party
We line up and get ready. Balaam opens by casting Magic Circle against Good, and throws a Fireball at Goster, doing some minimal amount of damage. He closes with blinding speed (Jenny: YES!) blurring as he moves. He attacks Chuck, and smites. There’s this thunderous crack, and lightning comes down from the sky and strikes Chuck. Chuck teleports away, the tries Maze but fails to get past Spell Resistance. He follows up with a quickened Firebally, but Goster avoids the worst of it, but still takes pretty decent damage. Jenny lays into him with chain, hitting him three times for… a lot of damage. Durest, in shadow form. Durest restores Chuck, then tries for Destruction but fails to destroy him.
Goster moves over and smites Durest, hitting him twice and killing him. He turns to Jenny, and strikes her a couple of times.
Ferrous picks up Durest and starts lumbering towards Chuck. Balaam takes Jenny to the far side of the room. Goster moves over beside Chuck and hits him. Chuck does a quickened dimension door over next to Balaam, then fires off a meteor swarm. He gets through spell resistance, and Goster fails to dodge at all, so the attack hits him right in the face and takes him out. Jenny: “See Balaam? I could have finished this.”
Thus does the flashback end.
So Thierry P. Thierry finishes the account of this battle.
Clovis: “So you see, the Avatar of Helios was slain. So the only path for Sacha to find salvation is to become the Avatar of Helios.”
Leira: “But can he still marry???”
Clovis: “Um… I think so.”
Leira: “So what’s the problem?”
Clovis: “Yes, well, having confronted the darkness, he needs to complete his journey back to the light. He must travel to the land of the golden sun, and undertake the trials of the avatar. He will be accompanied by three companions.”
Tavros: “I fear it must be us.”
Clovis: “Whew! It’s one.”
Leira: “I volunteer as Tribute.”
Clovis: “That’s two.”
Geddy Lee Geddy: “I always believed in the guy.”
Clovis about passes out from relief.
So, the three of us will be heading to Fairflower. The Trials of the Avatar are in the land of the golden sun, which is probably the island of Solouro. Ruin, Martini, and Marshall will be heading north to try to help out the druids, the centaurs, and anything that’s left of the true elf army. We’ll be starting with the druids, because Ruin feels guilty.