In which insults are exchanged, artillery is acquired, a town is finally named, and the Fires of War are fanned
In this Episode
Our Heroes were slow to get underway, as the plan which seemed so clear the previous evening faded into obscurity in the morning light. However, they found a halfling named Joey waiting for them in the great hall of their keep, whose information soon colors their actions. A former artillery corpsman on Lance Aldan’s payroll, Joey arrived to oversee the delivery of Aldan’s gift to Lagatha: 1 Stuffed Dire Gorilla, 3 Live Barracuda, a spyglass, and the piece de resistance, 2 Heavy Bombards. This gift lies in wait a few hours west of Blackthorn, just beyond a large force of Taldan Legionaries. Aldan’s men were concerned a government army would likely be very interested in confiscating their siege weaponry, and so Joey went ahead to seek advice from their clients.
The Knights of Blackthorn sallied forth to find exactly what Joey said they would: a small army calmly blockading the main road into Rhoetius. Glenn split off with Joey to go collect the artillery, carefully keeping out of sight, while Lagatha, Dread, and Bragg faced down the soldiers. Their commander turned out to be none other than Captain Plagius, a legion commander staunchly loyal to Disaren, who already had plenty of reasons to dislike Lagatha and company. Lagatha and Plagius exchanged words, few of which were pleasant, and Lagatha walked away with a ballista bolt protruding from her shoulder, which she let Bragg keep once she had extracted it.
Meanwhile, Glenn met up with Chet Masterson, another former Alkenstar Artillery corpsman, and collected the promised weaponry, along with the 60 some refugees from Ridonport who had followed Aldan’s men all the way from the impoverished city on the mere whisper of rumor that the new lords of Blackthorn were offering up “free land.” Seeking to avoid confrontation with the army to the east, Glenn led the wagons along the goat trail on the south shore of the Deiphovan Slough, and, defying every possible expectation, ran into no trouble whatsoever, even when he was forced to ford the wagons across an ancient quarry.
A little while later, Glenn and his charges rolled into town, and while addressing the small horde of newcomers, Lagatha uttered the words “Welcome to Hydra’s Hollow!” Since the name “Rhoetius” had been left off of most official maps for a century, the new name stuck.
Although Severus Locke bitterly assured his employers that Disaren was likely seeking war with them simply because of their association with Evondemor, the official explanation Lagatha had dragged out of Plagius was that Disaren held them responsible for the disappearance of Blaine, youngest son of the family. Worried by this revelation and hoping to avoid bloodshed, Glenn set out once again for the army sitting on their doorstep to tell them the truth of the matter. However, by then said army had picked up and vanished completely.
Once again, the knights convened, and arrived at a tough decision: Dread and Glenn would pursue the departing army and try to discern their motives, while Lagatha remained behind to defend the town against possible treachery.
In the dead of night, Glenn, Dread, and Corbin (their lone remaining scout, and resident throat-cutter) caught up to Plagius and his army to find them camped for the night, but Plagius himself and several of his men were in the midst of interrogating an aged knight, dressed in Taldan regalia. Our heroes staged a daring assault and slew Plagius, along with his retinue.
Meanwhile: The ancient stonework of Blackthorn was hammered by incoming fire as the little town of Hydra’s Hollow came under heavy attack just after midnight. Lagatha scrambled to return fire with the newly installed bombards, before leading a counter-attack into the town itself. The mysterious attackers were stymied at the gates, but only morning’s light would reveal the true extent of the damage . . .
The thunder of guns, the clash of swords, and the screams of the dying. War is coming.