The Night of the Long Knives

The sun had not yet risen when a squad of palace guards arrive at the ship and demanded in the politest way that the heroes of Mustawdae and the avengers of Qubtan Tubki come with them to the palace. The palace at this hour seemed empty, although the whispered sounds of unseen servants could be heard around Fulton and Denig as they were escorted into the throne room.

It was clear that the Amyr was not there or for that matter any of the other court officials. The throne of state glared at the pair in silent authority. From a curtained side entrance near the throne dais, the figure of the Vizier met on the previous visit to this room arrives to speak with the pair.

He introduces himself as Munajam Murshid, the astrologer to Amyr Fatih Albahr. Fulton translates this for Denig and then listens to the Vizier as he is informed that the Zilal Ramadiatan have become more than an inconvenience with their killing of Eayan Tubki. The apparently random attacks are centred on one-quarter of the island near the Tubuki estate, Thus the Amyr, great is his name, commands them to investigate and cleanse his island of this menace. In the meantime, Vanwa is to be his esteemed guest at his convenience.

He also commanded the pair to deliver the birthday gift they had recovered from the fallen Tubki to his orphaned son, Zahrat Alnajma. However, it would not be right for them to stay there, so the Vizier had arranged from them to stay at the estate of Aismilays Mahma (conveniently a cousin to the Vizier, who has also suffered attacks on workers on his land. A servant is provided as a guide and to attend to the food they need for the day’s journey to the estate of Mahma. They return to the ship to collect their companions and adventuring gear.

So it is that the Avenger of Tubki and his companions stroll along the coast road accompanied by their guide. The sunshine downs on volcanic cliffs that drop precipitously into the crystal clear ocean. To their left, the jungle sweeps down from the mountain in the centre of the island. Sometimes the road pass through deep stands of trees and other out onto open scrubland.

At midday, they enjoy a refined meal, provided by the palace. The servant bustles around preparing the rug for them to sit upon and tea, cold meats and other delicacies. They have never dined so well.

It is getting late and the sun is sinking into the ocean. The party pass through an area where the jungle is running down to the shore. Nearby, an abandoned house sits right on the cliff; the roof eaves almost scraping to the hill it is built into. A small walled courtyard with a broken empty gate gives access to the house via a stair well leading up to the main door.

There is a dull thud amidst a patter of falling leaves. The servant falls instantly to the ground as your party is engulfed in a hail of crossbow bolts.

The party flee back up the road on which they have travelled into a hail of fire. All are hit in the following volley but the heroes are able to continue their flight. However, Fulton stumbles over the rough ground trying to avoid any further injury and his hit again by a crossbow bolt from an unseen assailant. Dagaard, who is closest drops back to provide an additional shield for the sailor as they take up a defensive position by a tree.

During this time, Aerandir has slipped into the undergrowth and Denig prayer for concealment is granted. Both spend time trying to locate the assailants. Aerandir manages to loose a shot at one shadow figure but after that neither can find a target. It is at this point that Aerandir also offers a quick prayer to Ulmo for concealment and blends into the jungle. While he waits, Denig makes is way quickly and carefully to find the dwarf and sailor.

Meanwhile, disaster befalls the two companions by the tree. Despite, the cover and shields, a hail of bolts mortally wound Fulton. In response, Dagaard stands valiantly over his fallen companion calling out the cowardly assailants, when Denig’s voice can be heard, but not seen. He prays for the stricken Fulton and drops into a coma while his god heals him. Restored, Fulton along with Denig make a run for the walled garden in front of the house.

They hold the gateway together waiting for the next assault. Without the fortune of a brief glance behind them into the garden, they would have been surprised by the attackers approaching stealthily to their rear. Fulton parries for all he is worth and soon Dagaard has despatched both. They reason that they need something more substantial between them and the attackers and retreat to the house.

Having entered the house and barricaded the main door. The pair begin to explore to ensure they can escape or cover any other entry to the house itself. A large ballroom with many wide window spaces forces them to consider lower levels as a safer area to hole up in. They descend the long stairs to the floor below, where they encounter three huge hounds. Things do not go well, with Fulton being wounded in the abdomen and bleeding profusely. It takes the doughty dwarf to pull him behind the safety of a door back up to the previous level and away from the dogs.

Dagaard manages to haul Fulton back to a small office near the entrance and applies some basic first aid to staunch the wound temporarily. He barricades the pair against entry from the direction of the dogs on the floor below and sets himself ready to defend the remaining door with his last breath.

While the dwarf and the sailor lurch from calamity to catastrophe, Denig begins to try and hunt the hidden assailants. Aerandir attempts the same thing from a more static position. Neither has any luck in this endeavour except to discover that those who wish them harm are either extremely stealthy or not in the current area. Eventually, they find each other and make their way to the house. Finding the two dead Zilal, they relieve them of the throwing knives and make their way to the main door. It is barred against entry and despite desperate whispers, there are no replies.

Aerandir and Denig decide to try a nearby window. Standing on Denig’s shoulders Aerandir discovers the casement of the window is well made and secure. He decides to break the window and pull himself in through the window. Perhaps it was a mistake as when Denig begins to pull himself in the pair are attacked from the garden by crossbows. Swiftly they duck below the window height. While Aerandir keeps a hidden watch, Denig checks the doors to find Dagaard standing guard over the fallen Fulton.

For a second time, Denig prays to Cloch for the strength to heal his companion at arms. The effort costs him dear, he falls unconscious with the pain and he is unable to take any action for over a quarter of an hour. While Fulton updates Aerandir on the rooms around them. Feeling weary, Denig suggest that they rest in the study for the night, trusting the dogs below will protect one entrance and vigilance the other.

It is not long before this assumption is proven wrong. Zilal in grey flood into the room using windows and doors. The party are hard-pressed on all sides but Aerandir’s bow becomes the decisive factor, crippling several of the attackers and turning the tide.

by BriGht-liGht-NSH

The invaders dispatched, the heroes set about securing all the doors and windows and in the process reducing the speed at which they can escape if needed. Again they settle down to rest and recuperate and again the Zilal assassins attack, this time with smoke. Rapidly, the rooms begin to fill with smoke and faced with the threat of fire the heroes exit through the rear of the study and down to corridor where Fulton was mortally wounded by a dog.

Below the corridor leads in two directions; a nearby door offers an immediate sanctuary from the patrolling dogs. They quickly enter and surprise a Zilal in the kitchen beyond the door. A single Zilal proves no match for the experienced heroes.

In a room off of the kitchen, cowers an old man, who turns out to be the servant of the Lord of the manor. He thanks the party for dispatching the raider in the kitchen and provides them with information on the manor.

The Lord of the Manor, A, is a recluse who has not talked to his servant since his return from the sea. The only creatures he will talk to are his dogs that he allows to roam the corridor and shore side rooms freely. The servant suggests that if the adventurers want to escape they should follow the coast side rooms. He also tells them that the master spends his time alone in the sunroom by the dock. The party think this might have a ship and provide them with a way of escaping the Zilal. However, the servant refuses to come with them.

Travel through the dining room, hall and parlour reveal that although the house appears abandoned it remains well appointed and cared for; no doubt through the attentions of the servant.

Outside they are assailed again. This time the Zilal have rappelled down the cliff and taken up position blocking the door back into the house. For the third time in the night Fulton suffers a mortal wound and things do not look good, especially as Aerandir is shot by a Zilal crossbow bolt. Dagaard almost single-handedly manages to cut a swathe through the remaining Zilal allowing Denig to heal the fallen comrades. Now though he knows that the divine grace of Cloch is deserting him and he needs sleep and rest.

Those in the party with night vision are able to make out the docks and report a singular lack of a boat. The plan to escape by sea is quickly shelved. Aerandir is keen to try and contact the master of the house, however, although he can hear that someone is in the summer house, is unable to rouse the occupant. The adventurers retire to the parlour, blockading the doors against another potential incursion, they settle down to rest for the remains of the night.

Keeping watch, Dagaard fails to spot a pale blue smoke entering the room from beneath the doors, before the drug-laden smoke has already begun to affect all but Aerandir. However, as soon as he does recognise the now swirling smoke across the floor he rouses his companions in time for them to mount a defence against the Zilal who break in through the two windows of the room.

The rushed assault is clearly aimed to overwhelm attackers who have been rendered less able by the drug-laden smoke. The plan flounders as the Zilal meet a stiffer resistance than expected. Fulton manages to lop the hand off one of the attackers and Dagaard dispatches another from the fight. Still, the weight of numbers, the effects of the smoke and Fulton’s new combat tactic of using full parry make the situation look perilous.

The doorway to the room bursts open, stunning both Dagaard and Denig who are in close combat with a Zilal. Leaving Denig to defend against the original attacker. Dagaard spins to defend the doorway against the new incursion. Meanwhile, Aerandir continues to trade blows with one of the original attackers. As Dagaard rushes to the doorway he realises that there are three Zilal armed with crossbows aimed at the entrance. He ducks back behind the doorway, but one of the fired bolts strikes Denig who is still in the line of sight beyond Dagaard.

The fighting is fierce, Denig and Dagaard still suffering the effects of the blast are forced to defend themselves. The external also is breached, but Fulton, who was closest, manages to retreat further from the doorway and avoid the effects of the blast. It is only when Denig dips into his store of herbs that the battle is turned. Managing to give Dagaard a dose of dried mushroom (Zulsendura), he turns his attention to aiding Fulton and trying to provide a second dose of the mushroom to Aerandir.

A feint opening designed to draw Dagaard into the room beyond or perhaps to allow the other opponents to an uninterrupted line of sight into the room, provides the dwarf with an opening. Popping the mushroom into his mouth the ferocious and hasted dwarf charges into the room easily dispatching his two opponents. Meanwhile, Aerandir has dispatched his opponent and is busy defending the outer door against the attackers. Denig decides to use his dose of Zulsendura on himself and thus hasted dispatches the remaining Zilal in the room with the aid of Dagaard who quickly returns to the chamber.

Calvin Chua Art Station

The battle turning, the party hear the sounds of dogs and roaring from outside. The heroes just feeling they have reached the point of victory, find themselves confronted by a roaring giant of a man in furs and three fierce war hounds. Aerandir and Fulton attempt to defuse combat by explaining that they are sent by the Amyr. Perhaps it is exhaustion or the three near-death experiences of the night but Fulton is unusually underwhelming. Dagaard immediately lashes out at the nearest war hound and it looks like the heroes will again be engaged in battle. However, a final plea from Aerandir pauses the fur-clad man, who is the Lord of the manor.

Through a more rational discussion, Aerandir is able to explain how they came to be in the Lord’s mansion and how they have saved the servant. The party then demonstrate the truth of their story by taking the lord around the mansion and grounds to show where all the Zilal who attacked them lie.

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