Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Session Forty-Eight: The Parson's Tale

Putting Plans in Motion

The company asks Bishop Isidore if there are maps of the basilica for them to peruse. The bishop brings them into his office and shows off the original architectural plans. The company realizes that the basilica would be an impregnable fortress, were it not for all the windows. They also discover that the lowest level of the basilica, which contains the crypts for the previous bishops, is perilously close to the sewers of Turin.

Realizing there is not much time, the company opts to divide and conquer. Garnier convinces the basilica guards to arm the pilgrims as provisional members. He then sets off with Sabina and an escort of guards to examine the crypts. Pierre and Maurice go to Turin’s Ratcatchers’ Guild, in the hopes of finding a reliable sewer guide. Renee decides to search the sewers on her own. Sir Jean-Marc and Sir Henri put their social status to good use and tell the others that they are off to warn the Baron of Turin about the impending attack.

The Ratcatchers’ Guild

Pierre and Maurice receive a courteous greeting, but only perfunctory help from the representative of the ratcatchers’ guild they speak with. He mentions that the city’s sewerjacks would be better equipped to help them navigate the sewers, but says that he might be able to spare a few apprentices to help the two with their rat problems. He scoffs when Pierre insists the rats are both great in number and nearly human in size.

Maurice and Pierre are left in the waiting room while the ratcatcher “sees what he can do.” A short time later, another ratcatcher enters, spies the unique greaves poking out from beneath Maurice’s pilgrim’s robe, and panics. Pierre watches with growing concern as she holds a frantic, whispered conversation with her colleague, gesticulating at Maurice all the while.

The first ratcatcher the pair talked to returns to them, obviously terrified, with hat in hand. He says that he was under the impression that they “had an understanding,” but that he’s perfectly happy to accommodate any changes the pair, or their superiors, demand. Maurice and Pierre realize that they have been mistaken for agents of Chaos, and that the ratcatchers have already been neutralized by promise of threat or coin. They soothe the ratcatcher with empty platitudes, beat a hasty retreat, and try to quickly locate some sewerjacks.


Renee enters the sewers via an overflow pipe that carries rainwater (and other things) out from beneath the city. She does not travel very far before she hears the familiar pinging sound of metal on stone, as well as the occasional guttural whisper. Fearful that she is about to blunder right into a skaven mining operation, she returns to the basilica with her news.

The Crypts

The Catacombs of Myrmidia

Sabina and Garnier perform a careful sweep of the crypts beneath the basilica. They soon discover, to their dismay and utter lack of surprise, that there are the faint sounds of digging coming up from below. Between them, the duo locates the approximate area where they think that the undermining is taking place.

They return to the surface and bump into Renee, who tells them what she has heard in the sewers. Convinced that the skaven are on the verge of breaking through, they request that some of the guards go down into the crypts to watch over it. They also arrange for a dusting of caltrops and a cauldron of boiling water to be put in place to slow the skaven should they break through. Renee goes down with the guards to set up the defenses, while Garnier and Renee check the main level of the basilica for any other issues.

It is at this point that Sabina notices a robed man, holding a bird, standing on the roof of one of the buildings encircling the basilica’s grand square. She points this out to a guard, who quickly gathers two of his mates to take care of the problem. They disappear into the building just as the man releases his bird into the sky.

The Baron of Turin and the Grand Duke of Savoy

Sir Jean-Marc and Sir Henri are greeted pleasantly, albeit warily, by the guards at the gate of the ducal palace. They quickly summon a lesser palace functionary, who informs the two knights that Baron Janduia de Turin is currently meeting with his small council, and is not to be disturbed for any reason.

Sir Henri makes an impassioned plea, warning the palace functionary that Turin and the Shroud are in grave danger. Once the functionary realizes that she cannot simply rebuff the two knights, she reluctantly invites them in and has them wait in a finely appointed reception room while she proceeds to talk to the baron.

In the reception area is a third knight, who recognizes Sir Henri and greets him warmly. This is none other than Sir Matthias, the knight who befriended the company at Castle Carcassonne, and who is currently the owner of Ambrose, Sir Jean-Marc’s valiant steed. Sir Matthias once again thanks Sir Henri for letting him keep Ambrose, and says that he has come to Turin to pledge his service to the baron.

Sir Jean-Marc is most suspicious of Sir Matthias, in part due to the transfer of horse ownership, and in part because the man seems an identical twin of Sir Nikodemas, the Yellow Knight (and possible avatar/physical manifestation of the Chaos power that has been “helping” the company).

Hi! Me, Again!

Sir Jean-Marc is taken aback when Sir Matthias immediately relinquishes ownership of Ambrose, saying that the horse has served him well, but that he wishes to reunite him with his former master. Sir Jean-Marc graciously accepts, and offers to trade Sir Matthias his current steed. Sir Matthias is a bit overawed at Sir Jean-Marc’s generosity.

While Sir Jean-Marc continues to try and figure out Sir Matthias’ allegiance and motivations, Sir Henri is escorted into the presence of Janduia de Turin. The baron and his small council are skeptical, at first, but Sir Henri’s oratory skills, and his status as a newly minted Grail Knight, swiftly sways the baron. Despite misgivings from a few members of his council, Janduia de Turin calls for his armor, his sword, and his band of loyal knights.

Janduia de Turin also asks that a messenger be sent to the city gates to warn them of possible attack. This request is conveyed to the two knights in the reception area, and Sir Matthias fairly leaps at the chance to serve the baron as a messenger.

Sir Jean-Marc realizes that, if Chaos were to try and thwart their plans, now would be the time. He insists on bearing the message to the city gates himself, and asks Sir Matthias to stay with Sir Henri and the baron. Sir Henri is confused by this, but, after some significant looks from his former mentor, he says nothing about it.

Sir Jean-Marc is given the honor of delivering the message. He rushes to the palace stables and, after sparing a moment to reunite with Ambrose, he rides out for the gates of Turin.

The Sewerjacks

Maurice and Pierre visit the sewerjacks at their guildhall. Though they plead their case as best as they can, they find that the sewerjacks do not take them seriously. Skaven aren’t real, ho ho ho ho!

Pierre continues to argue with the head sewerjack while Maurice steps outside of the guildhall to collect himself. Maurice spies a figure in familiar-looking armor standing on the roof of a church next door. The figure hurls a glass globe, which shatters at Maurice’s feet and erupts into a massive, choking cloud of poisonous smoke. Maurice, Pierre, and the sewerjacks collapse, gagging and retching, as cultists boil forth from surrounding alleyways to converge on the guildhall.

A Humble Sewerjack

Ready to Boil

Renee supervises the spreading of caltrops and the boiling of the water. Just as the water starts to bubble, Renee and the guards that are with her feel the floor begin to shake…

The Enemy Appears

Sir Jean-Marc rides like the wind to the gates of Turin. All around him, the bells of the city, their ringers warned by other messengers sent by the baron, begin to sound.

Sir Jean-Marc reaches the gates and gives his message, only to find that he is almost too late.

As the gate guards muster their defenses, thick, greenish clouds roll in to obscure the sun. Morrslieb, the Chaos Moon, suddenly looms very close, a grinning skull visible on its surface. The air grows cold, and baleful lightning crackles in the sky above.

On the far side of the gates, Sir Jean-Marc beholds a curious contraption. A massive golden statue of a lion, its mouth open in a permanent roar, lumbers toward Turin. On its back, enclosed in a globe of clear crystal, is a levitating, dwarf-sized figure mummified in red bandages. The lion-shaped conveyance is escorted by a cohort of undead that crackle with blue electricity, as well as four towering warriors with metal masks adhered to their faces.

Sir Jean-Marc leaps from Turin’s wall and onto the back of Ambrose. Ambrose rears and whinnies dramatically before racing off toward the basilica.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Session Forty-Seven: The Parson’s Tale

The Shroud

The company spends the day shopping in Noyon and visiting the shrine of Saint Polycarp, curer of dysentery. Everyone buys a commemorative pilgrim’s badge, cast in the shape of a pointed-bottomed unguent bottle. Garnier is surprised that it doesn’t look like a pile of poo.

Magnus Departs

The next morning, the players awaken to find Magnus packing his things and getting ready to set out on his own. When questioned, he says that he has received a missive from his lady love, the Baroness Josephine. Garnier, who has a more realistic understanding of how Josephine feels about Magnus, suspects that Magnus is lying. He tries to steal the letter, only to have his hands swatted away by Magnus.

While Magnus and Garnier argue, Maurice slips in and steals the letter. After everyone says goodbye and Magnus leaves, Maurice passes the letter to Pierre. It is not, as it happens, a love letter from Baroness Josephine. Addressed to “to whom it may concern,” the letter explains that Magnus is the last surviving heir of a wealthy barony, and that he must travel alone to a remote location to collect his deed and noble title.

Garnier and the others opine that the con artists who have sent the letter are going to be very, very upset when they meet Magnus.

The Journey to Turin

For the final time, the company boards their landship and travels at speed down the road to the great city of Turin, the last stop on the pilgrims’ progress. Henri the innkeeper regales everyone with the tale of the Shroud of King Gilles, Bretonnia’s once and future king. 

The company reaches Turin in the early evening and is instructed to park their landship in a cobblestoned courtyard just inside the main gate. The company arranges for lodgings at an inn near the main gate and takes some time to do a little exploring and shopping.

Herbs and Notions

Maurice and Pierre locate an upscale herbalist’s shop, from which Pierre purchases the ingredients he needs to make healing draughts. The two men also buy some concoctions that are said to be cures for poisons.

Maurice does not find what he really wants at the herbalist’s shop, and soon ditches Pierre to go searching for a less discerning alchemist. He runs into Renee, who seems to be prowling the shops of Turin looking for the same thing. They find a ramshackle shop run by a grinning individual clad in layers of burlap, who is happy to sell them both poison. This individual is also happy to grind up the mysterious herbs that Maurice bought in Paix, turning them into deadly poison.

Renee is aghast at the amount the shopkeeper quotes for the poison, and suggests to Maurice that they leave and return with their knight friends, to shake the shopkeeper down. Maurice demurs and hands over the last blue gem he pried off of the deadship in Annecy. This goes a long way to defray the cost of the poisons. Maurice and Renee leave, promising to return tomorrow. Renee grumbles only a little bit.

Rumors and Gossip

Sir Jean-Marc tries to befriend the occupants of the inn’s common room, and learn a little bit of the local news from them. He realizes that this was a significantly easier task in his former life as a roustabout. As a knight, people tend to be friendly to him by default, but much more circumspect. Despite Jean-Marc buying a few rounds, the assembled do not feel comfortable enough to divulge any useful information. They have a good time, though.

A Guard of the Basilica

A Walk Around Town

Sabina and Frieda go on a walk in the lovely spring evening, just enjoying one another’s company and marveling at Turin’s stunning architecture.

The walk is soon spoiled when Frieda notices something untoward on the roof of a nearby house. She alerts Sabina, who looks up to find a man in a short, hooded robe holding a pigeon and glaring down at them. Sabina also notes, to her rising horror, that the man wears leggings that are identical to those that Maurice “acquired” from the “shitter shiver.”

Sir Henri’s Quest

Sir Henri goes alone to visit the Basilica of Myrmidia, where the Shroud of King Gilles is kept. He hopes to speak with the Bishop of Turin on several matters, but is told that he is not currently available. Sir Henri leaves word with a priestess that he needs to speak to the bishop about a monk (Geoffrey) that he and his companions have brought to Turin for judgment. Furthermore, he wishes to pledge himself to the bishop’s service, should his sword arm be required.

Sir Henri also says that he wises to ask the bishop for a boon regarding his friend Henri the innkeeper. He says that Henri has been an excellent friend, a faithful companion, and a wonderful guide for their pilgrimage. Sir Henri wishes to reward Henri by getting permission to have him lay his hand upon the Shroud of King Gilles.  

The priestess seems touched by this, and tells Sir Henri that she will convey his messages to the bishop without delay. She expects that the bishop will have time to meet with Sir Henri during the pilgrimage’s visit to the shroud the next day.

The Affair of the Combs

Garnier spends some time and money at the marketplace, adding yet more outlandish garments to his already inimitable wardrobe. He also takes some time to purchase fine, bone combs for everyone in the company and pilgrimage that he cares about. He spends extra to have these combs engraved with the names of their recipients.

Upon returning to the inn, Garnier calls over everyone in the company, as well as Henri the innkeeper, Frieda, and Jim. He passes out the combs, which are well-received. Jim offers to take Jules’ comb to him, only to be told that Garnier purposefully did not buy Jules a comb, because he hates him. Jim is taken aback, but promises to keep the combs, and the fact that Jules didn’t get one, a secret.

Pierre gallantly offers to give his comb to Jules, as he is bald and doesn’t need one. Garnier insists that Pierre keep the comb for several reasons: 

  • It has Pierre’s name on it.
  • Pierre can use it for his beard.
  • Garnier hates Jules.

What Frieda and Sabina Saw

Frieda and Sabina describe the man that they saw on the rooftops of the city. The company now realizes how their enemies have been able to send word ahead of the pilgrimage so quickly. 

The company also knows that the cult that has dogged their every step has plans for Turin, and they vow to be on their guard against attack.

Several of the company remain awake to watch the streets just in case the Chaos cult attacks in the night. Renee stares off in the direction of the herbalist shop of ill-repute, as she fears reprisals from that direction. Nothing happens, though, and the night passes uneventfully.

The Shroud of King Giles

Renee and Maurice step out early to pick up their poisons. The transaction is completed without incident, though Maurice notices that the herbalist may have kept back some of the preparation made with the Paix herbs for themselves.

They rejoin the rest of the company and the pilgrims in the inn and share in a hearty breakfast. During breakfast, Jules comments that Jim “looks different” and asks him what he did to change his appearance. Jim, with freshly combed hair, looks increasingly awkward.

The company then departs, heading across one of Turin’s massive bridges to reach the Basilica of Myrmidia. The temple is a massive, elaborately decorated building, heavily guarded by Empire mercenaries armed with halberds and dressed in gaudy uniforms. Each mercenary wears a heavily starched ruff collar.

The company joins a long line of pilgrims who are admitted in groups into a room behind the temple’s main altar. After waiting for quite a while, the company and the pilgrims are at last escorted into the room, and into the presence of the Shroud itself.

The Shroud of King Gilles rests upon a large table, beneath a wavy sheet of glass. It bears a representation of the face and body of King Gilles, though whether this was impregnated upon the shroud from the man himself, or whether it was painted on after the fact is impossible to determine.

The room itself is beautiful and sumptuously decorated. Numerous arms and pieces of armor, all made of copper and all, curiously, left to fade to a green patina, are hung upon the walls.

The mercenary guards in this room proceed to recite the rules of behavior while in the presence of the Shroud to the pilgrims and the company. Sir Henri raises the guards’ ire by questioning the rules and asking to speak to the bishop, much to Garnier’s astonishment. The situation is quickly diffused when the priestess from the previous evening arrives on the scene and confirms that the bishop is ready to meet with Sir Henri.

Bishop Isidore of Turin

GARNIER: I should have bought a ruff!

The bishop appears from his office, which is built just off of the room that houses the Shroud of King Gilles. The bishop is a kindly, bearded older man who also wears a neck ruff. Garnier quietly resolves to buy a neck ruff at the earliest possibility.

The bishop calls Henri the innkeeper over and explains the boon that Sir Henri asked for on his behalf. He permits Henri the innkeeper to touch the glass covering the Shroud, which no one else is permitted to do. The bishop regrets that he cannot allow Henri to touch the Shroud itself for practical reasons.

Henri the innkeeper is overcome by Sir Henri’s generosity and by the bishop’s grace. He gently lays his hand on the glass, to the delight of all. There is thunderous applause from the company and the other pilgrims. It is a very nice moment.

As the pilgrims begin to depart from the presence of the Shroud, the bishop asks Sir Henri about the monk he has been asked to interrogate/interview. Sir Henri and the other members of the company introduce the bishop to Geoffrey, as well as to Rauchamp and Guilbald. The company tries to keep their explanation of Geoffrey’s crimes as brief as possible, but the monk’s history is a convoluted affair, and they mention the Ruinous Powers multiple times.

The bishop insists that Geoffrey, the pardoner and the summoner, and the company come into his office to discuss the monk’s fate in greater detail.

The Secret

With everyone crammed into Bishop Isidore’s office, the “trial” begins. The company gives as complete an account of their journey as they can, explaining the “wishing book,” its powers, and the company’s frequent encounters with the Ruinous Powers. Various letters and other pieces of evidence are shown to the bishop, who becomes increasingly concerned.

The bishop says that he must meditate on Geoffrey’s crimes so that he can pass proper sentencing. He does say that the monk’s contrition and willingness to cooperate does him credit, and will be taken into consideration. The bishop orders Rauchamp and Guilbald to escort Geoffrey to the penitent cells in the lower levels of the basilica, until a decision is reached.

The bishop then orders his guards and the priestess to leave him and guard the outer door. This command is met with some concern by the guards, who insist that it is their duty to attend upon and protect the bishop. The bishop says that he understands this, of course, but orders them to leave anyway.

Once the guards and the priestess have departed, Bishop Isidore tells the company a secret that, up until this point, only the bishops of Turin know. He explains that every child in Bretonnia knows that, in the kingdom’s darkest hour, King Gilles will return to save it. What almost no one knows is that it is through the Shroud of Gilles that the once and future king will return. If it is destroyed, Gilles cannot cross back from the lands of the dead, and Bretonnia shall be forever doomed.

He goes on to say that, based on the company’s reports and Geoffrey’s testimony, that he fears that Chaos Undivided plans to attack Turin to destroy the Shroud. The bishop asks if the company will lend their skills and their strength to the defense of Turin and the Shroud.

Sir Henri says that he has already promised to serve the bishop, if needed. Sir Jean-Marc, not to be outdone, also pledges his troth as a knight of Bretonnia. One by one, the company offers their services, until all have promised to defend Turin and the Shroud with their lives.

Bishop Isidore says that the company should prepare to fight the forces of Chaos, and that he has one thing more to give them. He leads them out into the room where the Shroud is on display, shoos away his guards, and takes down a copper sword from off the wall. The bishop explains that this blade is none other than Loren, an enchanted blade once wielded by Gilles. He presents it to the company, saying that they will likely need its strength in routing the forces of Chaos.

After some discussion, Sir Jean-Marc is given the honor of wielding Loren, the Verdant Blade. 

Loren, the Verdant Blade