Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Khareo's Tale #6 - The back streets of Lorthalen

Hired sword wanted

The Lothal sisters weighed their options. They figured out that they would need some brawn to assist if they were to leave town. They posted ads around the city markets [ successful influence check with local merchants, +1 for advertising ].  Mary tried to skimp on salary, but eventually settled to offer 35 silver crowns per month plus a vitality amulet. A number of candidates knocked at the door [ Propaganda-10, +1 city size, +1 advertising, -1 failed use of "common sense/IQ" as supporting skill, +1 increased wage, +1 Charisma, +1 Status, +1 Wealth. Target:15. Success by 1 ]. A bankrupted bakers who had been convicted for fraud and desperate for work, a scary looking father of four looking for a better paid job, and a retired Navy officer with area knowledge in the Golden Archipelago. The sisters settled for Horatio Mar, the more expensive retired navy officer. They scoured the dock area for a ship heading for Lorthalen. They settled with a captain to depart on the following day against 4 silver coins each and the pledge to share the workload with the crew.

The trip was difficult but interesting. They learned much about seafaring and made friends among the sailors.

The Island-City-Kingdom of Lorthalen

A week and a half later, the sister's ship was in sight of Lorthalen. Horatio explained to the girls that the tall spire coming out of the sea beside the island was the temple of an Oracle. The oracle was famous in the Suderland. She made only one prediction per year, and consistently hinted on ways to bring the solar empire down. The Solar emperor got tired of this and eventually sent a small army to isolate the temple. Thus was created the Kingdom of Lorthalen. Horatio explained that there was much tension between the the Solaans, the native Xiros craftsmen and the Suderland pilgrims demanding to see the Oracle. 

From the ship and through the surface mist, the sisters could see the spire of the oracle, and the austere shape of the Castle of the King. Beyond, a city sprawled over a large sand dune popping out of a dark blue sea. There was nothing green about: hundreds of clay buildings, most 3 stories in height, piled against each other with narrow aisles in between. The activity in the port was mind numbing: Solaans traders nervously unloading cargo, Lehland pilgrims and Xiros merchants haggling for a deal. 

The sisters bid their colleagues goodbye and walked down the gangway. Horation threaded them with a steady hand out of the way and into a narrow road. There was no carts to be seen, and rarely horses. Walking towards the center, the streets and buildings started to look more luxurious. Horatio took them into a private inn where they met the landlady. They rented three rooms and took their leaves.

The wrong side of the track

Late into the afternoon, the sisters and Horatio decided to soak up the spirit of Lorthalen and take a walk around the inn. Mary lead them back to the docks and took a turn toward the West-end of the port. The bustle quieted suddenly as they crossed into a new neighborhood. People here were almost all Lehlands: women covered in colorful heavy garbs, men wearing turbans. Mary confidently moved ahead until it became clear that four Leland men were on their tails. Horatio proposed to turn around and head back to the commercial area.

It was too late: the Lehlands were now cutting their retreat. They required a tax to be paid. Mary asked to meet with whoever the tax was destined to. The Lehland men consulted each other and demanded a fee to take them to the Calif.  Seeing that they wouldn't get away without paying something, Mary agreed to pay the tax and return to where she came from. However, when the Lehland saw the quantity of silver in her purse, they pressed the group into a narrower position and asked for more.

Horatio yelled at the sisters to take to their feet and run while he tackled the Lehland blocking the way. The other Lehland brigands ran after the Lothal girls. Horatio was fighting off two of them with his sabre when Martha decided to draw her foil and confront her pursuer. Mary kept on running and attracted the attention of Solaans bystanders a city block away. The solaans stopped their bustle but failed to react to her plea. As she approached, the solaans noticed her status and were definitely swayed by the promise of a reward.

Mary fetches help while Martha and Horatio are fighting it off.
A well placed diplomacy check was worth cold steel at this time.
Down the street, Martha was fending off one of the Lehland as she and Horatio connected to cover each other's back. Horatio turned around to cover Martha's blind spot when the leader of the Lehland called for a retreat. A number of solaan men were barking and running down the allet to chase them off. The Lehland man beside Martha took a swipe at Horatio as he had his back turned and couldn't defend himself. His sabre hit Horatio's head and made a gash into his skull. Horatio caught his fall and struggled to remain conscious.

Martha drew her flintlock pistol and watched the brigands disappear in a dark side street. Horatio was bleeding profusely and barely kept conscious. He collapsed on the cobblestone paveway. Mary pulled some strips of cloth from her outfit to contain the bleeding. Horatio kept on losing blood for a few minutes and was on the threshold of death when Mary finally bandaged the chipped skull. The solaan men carried Horatio's listless body to a surgeon's office. The surgeon stabilized the wound about an hour later. Horatio couldn't speak clearly, seemed upset and helpless. The sister took him back to the inn to rest as the surgeon's job was done.

Mary's lifesaving magic

Mary pulled her ritual material out of her backpack and strarted preparing her room for a healing ritual. She was a long way from her ritual room in Khareo, but managed to clean the place and prepare it well enough. She lit some incense, used the bloodstained bandages as ritual focus and covered Horatio's head with her nicest silk scarf.  Some fourty minutes later, the ritual was complete and Horatio had sunk into a restful sleep. Mary and Martha remained at his side for two more days as the wound healed with the help of Mary's magic. Horatio's slurred speech receded on the third day. He was most grateful that he had been clawed back from the jaws of death. They made a note to load the flintlock pistols the next time that they go out sightseeing.

Martha finds her Father

While Horatio was recovering in his room. Martha pulled her telescope out of her travelling chest and set things up to make a star chart. She wanted to know whether her father was currently on the island. Like for Mary, her room wasn't a proper ritual space. However, she managed to pull off for the first time an answer to her question. The star were crystal clear on this: her father was currently on the island. Martha walked to her balcony. Somewhere within a few thousand yards was her father. The small island of Lorthalen seemed to get larger as she peered into the night skyline.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. I like the easy pace and the really small group. This way, no one feels bad about setting up rituals and making part of the story instead of looking at them like a game mechanic hurdle.