Session/Game: Conan #4 Interlude 4
Campaign Date: Year Of The Bear, Month of Ducet Days 14-15
GM: Andrew "I wish I had a cool nickname like Dr. Skull" Smith
Castel Zerano, Zingaran, Pirate, level 2 (Randy Wood)
Conrad, Hyperborean, Soldier, level 2 (Joe Fryer)
Demetrio the Red, Barachan, Pirate, level 2 (Pete Zollers)
Grodd, Cimmerian, Barbarian, level 3 (Bob LaForge)
Lord Hieronymous Valanus, Aquilonian, Noble/Soldier, level 1/2 (Mike Miller)
Horsa, Vanir, Soldier, level 2 (Chuck Fleurie)
"Limberger", Turanian, Thief, level 3, (Toby Miller)
"Bloody" Turpin, Soldier/Thief, level 2/1 (Dave Nelson)
Vegeta, Southern Islander, Barbarian, level 3 (Marlon Kirton)
After about a week of rest, the group meets their new patron by happy circumstance. A young Zingarian merchant named Romeo happened upon the group as you drank and whored yourselves silly in a flophouse. He promised you each a hundred pieces of gold to help him recover a map that had been stolen from him. Apparently, this map was sent from a friend of Romeo’s named Renudo who had been developing “new and exciting trade opportunities” in the South. Romeo believes that yet another merchant is behind the theft. Mekakset holds several lucrative mines in the north near the Pictish border. Romeo maintains that Mekakset holds the map at his estate at the foot of the Rabirian mountains near the small village of Evrona. When asked for proof that Mekakset holds the map, Romeo tells them that the merchant plans to make an extended voyage personally in the next few weeks and that he has already begun to make ready three of his finest sailing vessels in the port of Genovla, about fourty miles North of Kordava. After picking up the party’s extensive bills for the evening, the dealing starts. Romeo insists that following the return of his map, he will be able to put Vegeta in touch with a civilized scholar who will be able to put the Southern Islander’s curse to rest. After Lord Hieronymous Valanus talked the merchant into paying the group one hundred and thirty-one pieces of gold each the deal is set. All the heroes make the trip to Zingara.
Grodd arrives in Zingara bewildered at what "civilization" is like and eager to make time with his fair slave girl rescued from Magon's slave pits: "Aaarggh! Crom! Can't they be happy with a soft woman, wine, and coin in their pocket! Foolish I say. I'll be happy to slay when the time of slaying comes!"
The next morning after their arrival, Lord Hieronymous sits at the "war planning table" (a.k.a The breakfast table) and begins to address his bleary-eyed comrades in a hushed voice. "Ok gentlemen, there are somethings we need to get done, out employer has set a task for us to get done in a certain amount of time. Let us them begin with all do haste. First let us look at what need done." "We need to know if the map is even in the building where it is supposed to be, the best way that I can come up with is to ask around find out all we can about this man, his habits, whats on those ships of his, and also if there is a servant who does his shopping for him, since he is a rich merchant he probably does. Find out that person habits, when do they go shopping, how long do they shop for. Or if not a servant then a ex-employee with a grudge." "If there is such a person, maybe for some money and a large bottle of wine they would be willing to draw an interior map of the place. which would make the skulkers' job even easier" "This is how I feel that the duties should be divided up. Limberger, talk to the Black Marketeers, gain as much info as you can on the estate, and news or rumours conserning our target and also about our employeer, also questions about Reunedo and his new enterprise." "Castel Zerano and Demetrio the Red - Talk to the Harbor Master at Genolva and the also the dockworkers about whats on the ships and maybe even scuttle the three ships after searching them extensivly for the map." "Grodd and Vegeta- Get DRUNK! and while you're at it get others drunk especially the Evrona townsfolk and miners (lord knows that miners love to drink after a long day at the mine) and off-duty Genovla guards. Get them liberated enough so that they talk. From the Evrona townsfolk we need to know about the estate and supposed ruomors/facts or info that come out of there concerning Mekakset, and hopefully even any security systems. Also stop by Kordava and do the same thing." "Conrad and Horsa talk to the Geonlva Merc's and the Sherrif, see what you can find out also about Romeo, Mekakset, and Reunedo. Someone knows something." "I will go talk with the Geonlva nobility, see what rumours are floating around the court these days and get any information about Romeo, Mekakset, and Reunedo and the estate and this supposed map." "Now don't be to hasty in you pursuit of information. Spread some money if need be and always ask about Romeo, Mekakset, and Reunedo on top of your other questions. So what do you all think? Sound like a plan! In honour of our plan DRINKS ARE ON ME!" Lord Hieronymous spends the next several days in pleasant company dining in some of the best taverns and enjoying some of the finest entertainments Zingara has to offer. After several chance meetings, an older gentleman named Burio and his much younger trophy wife, Myshella, befriends Hieronymous. Burio lectures you for entire stretches of three separate meetings while the three of you listen to musicians, watch a dog fight, and enjoy a boat race from a spectator's barge. "Mekakset, ah he is a strange one. He stays to himself most of the time. Many fear him in dealings. The ways of the Stygians are not the ways of the Zingarians. Still he has done good business here and made many Zingarians rich, including myself on several trade deals that we have put together." "Very interesting that you would mention him. He had sent a message to me recently. He claims to have some sort of 'trade opportunity' that he wants funding for. The message invited me to a partnership auction to be held at his estate just before he leaves in the spring on his trade voyage. I have no doubt that winning this auction could make me a very rich man but I must admit that I am not comfortable dealing with Mekakset in his own lair -- and he stipulated that I was only to bring one trusted guard to this business meeting. But enough with rumor about the Stygian, what brings you to Zingara?" Later, while Burio relieves himself of all the drink that he has consumed Myshella speaks to you in confidence. "Don't cross the Stygian, Lord Hieronymous! There is a reason proud men fear him. I would not speak but for the fact that I enjoy your company, and you seem to be an honorable man. Mekakset is truly a sorcerer of the blackest kind and angering him could spell your doom." Myshella pauses, perhaps out of fear or longing for the handsome young Aquilonian, but quickly composes herself as Burio returns.
One week into his stay at Genovla, Conrad is shocked to see a ghost from his past leave a local mercenary tavern. Lug the Cimmerian was the officer in charge of one of Conrad's first mercenary assignments. He was a cruel man who drove his soldiers mercilessly through fear and intimidation. His temper was quick, and oftentimes capricious. He once murdered one of his best men for snoring too loud as the unit was camped out under the stars awaiting orders. The man was so unbalanced it was as if he was on the borderline of insanity. The reason why the man was promoted was simply because he was a killing machine. With little else except for a full helmet, leather-armored trousers, and armed with a wicked two-handed sword, Lug was a force of nature on the battlefield. For that fact alone, Conrad followed this madman so that he might learn from him. Conrad took many cruel and degrading lessons from the ugly Cimmerian until Lug sold out his own unit and sneaked away into the enemy lines during one particular skirmish. Conrad remembers the time vividly. With Lug gone it was he who managed to rally the unit. Rather than allowing Stygian charioteers to overrun their position, Conrad's unit instead made an orderly fighting retreat. Lug climbed on his massive stallion and along with five of his Zingarian flunkies rode out of town. Local gossip has it that Lug is working for the "Styx Importing and Trade Company".
Vegeta spends his waking hours wandering the streets and markets of Genovla. He walks stiffly because his dreams are troubled by arachnid nightmares. In the most recent one, Vegeta dreamt that a giant spider trapped him in its web and cut off his head. Most amazingly, Vegeta dreamt that he yet lived as the spider surgically cut the South Islander's skull open as though he were slicing a melon and began to feast on its messy, warm contents. The spider then uttered a child-like giggle that reminded Vegeta of childhood ghost stories about pygmies who would devour their enemies' brains. The spider then whispered, "I know what you know".
Demetrio is pleased to see the ocean finally. It has been a few years since Demetrio was shanghaied into the Zamorian legions. Demetrio knows of an old lover in Genovla that he might be able to make contact with again named Katrina. It has been a long time since Demetrio had been in the area, but he and Katrina split on good terms after a week of shore leave never without one another's' company.
Castel is happy to be home. It has been a few years since Castel was shanghaied into the Zamorian legions. His old chums Quel and Yugio are glad to catch up on old times growing up on the docks of Kordava.
Grodd finds that the the young women of Zingara find both the young Cimmerian's warm yet brooding personality and bulging coinpurse to be very attractive. After a week in Genovla, Grodd has yet to spend the night without a companion or two. As usual, Grodd spends a morning suffering from yet another evening of carousing in the kitchens of a local flophouse. There, a milkmaid named Gerta is smitten with the brawny barbarian. The two agree to rendez-vous later on that night and in the process Grodd mentions that he works for the merchant Romeo. Gerta cannot contain her squeal of glee. "Oh isn't he lovely? I had some friends of mine who have met him at parties and he is divine! Did he show you his chemicals? He boasts that he is the best alchemist in the kingdom, but I hardly believe that to be true. He cannot even turn lead into gold! He had better learn soon, too. I understand that his family plans to cut him off from his inheritance due to his choice of lifestyle. Ah, such drama being a socialite. Now what brings a big, bad boy like yourself to Genovla? I think you may need a spanking (*giggle*)!"
It has been over a week, and you still have had no luck digging up any information on the Mekakset estate. As you all leave your tavern rooms one morning you are accosted by a young rogue with a most unique accent. "Turpin's me name. I 'ear you 'eafens [heathens] are scoping the Styx Trading Company. If you want to know sumfin' I'm your man. I've seen the 'eadquarters buildin' with me own eyes. I also know who's who for the company 'round 'ere. I have a bone to pick with good mister Mekakset and if you mean to cut his froat, I want in. So, as they say, take me to your leader" The group points Turpin to Lord Heironomous. The Aquilonian invites Turpin to sit as he dines that morning in his inn. When Turpin arrives, Heironomous beckons him over with a laugh. "Greetings Mr.Turpin, why yes we mean to slit his FROAT! I am the leader of this group, well sort of. So what do you know aobut Mr. Meketset??" Turpin has a seat puts his feet on the table. "Well guv, Merk's estate is between the village of Evrona and the Styx mine. There is a wood near the estate. The estate is a bloody fortress wif firty foot wallas and firty-five foot block 'ouses. The area swarms wif mounted patrols and the gates are locked tight at night. Outside the walls are two barrack buildings and a stable, more buildings inside. There are two guard captains with keys, a tall one and a short one, both in heavy armor. The key to cracking the old nut, I fink, is the Styx merchant caravans that stop at the estate once or twice a week. If we can put the grab on one of them we could get inside perhaps. The ofer idea I had was to buy a lot of surly criminal slaves and promise them freedom. Use 'em to create a diverson at the front gate while me and a couple of your 'eafens climb over the back wall. We grab a blockhouse and make 'em come bust us out of it." Turpin provides the group with illustrations of the Evrona area and Mekakset's estate.
Vegeta offers some suggestions on planning to the others. "we need to find out how many guards and serve stay there at night. plus how many are loyal to him and how we can talk into helping us. if we can get in easyer and faster. Vegeta smiles. "my war spear still need more blood." Lord Heironomous replies to the South Islander. "My good Vageta, we already have someone who knows the information you seek, speak to my good man Turpin, he has a bloddy bone to pick with the mark. Mr. Turpin what would be the number of guards and other information that Vageta seeks?" "Oh yeah," Grodd says, "The little sweetie I picked up the other night had some dirt on these guys too. Hehe, guess my mind was on other things..." Grodd wanders off groping shapely serving girls as he goes.
Lord Heironomous goes to convince Burio to take him to Mekakset's estate at the auction as a bodyguard. Heirnomous manages to catch Burio that evening enjoying himself at a private bathhouse. He speaks as naked slave-girls sponge his body with scented oils and rinse him with warm spring-fed water. "My bodyguard? Good sir, I wouldn't feel safe going into Mekakset's domain with a hundred bodyguards! However, you seem to be a man of substance and wealth. I believe that I might be able to see to it that you get an invitation to the Stygian's party yourself. Then you can bring your own bodyguard!" "The invitation was for a week from yesterday, just at sundown. Following that, you will not get your chance to see Mekakset since he will be leaving on his voyage soon after. Ha! If you choose to do this you must return to me once it is over and tell me what was so important that Mekakset would approach the wealthy of Zingara for funding." Myshella waits outside the bathchamber for her husband. When Heirnomous emerges, she speaks to him also. "You plan something, don't you? Tell me! Don't fool yourself into thinking that you would be able to fight your way out of Mekakset's estate alive. These are noblemen. Even with a bodyguard they would take offense at arriving in any sort of mail, and chances are they will take away any martial weapons you or your bodyguard might have before they give you entrance. If you go, remember that you must come in the way you entered. Do not choose to throw your life away on some foolish errand!"
Later that day, Limburger takes to the streets of Genovla on a shopping trip for certain items related to the thieving trade. He finds what he wants from a dealer nicknamed "Snail". For some extra cash, "The Snail" tells Limburger that Mekakset had once taken a lover named Ophilia. Limburger plans on visiting the noblewoman at her father's home in Genovla the next day.
From Turpin's observations, the two barracks look sufficient to house fifty soldiers each. If they hot-bunk, that means that there could potentially be as many as two-hundred guards at the compound at any one time. However, Turpin only counted about twenty heads on all the walls and at the gate at most times during the day. When a merchant shipment arrives or trouble threatens, an alarm is raised and more guards pile out. Turpin estimates this number to be about fifty. The wall guards are Zingarian broadswordsmen. They seem to be trained in a style of flashy defensive swordsmanship, which might make them pretty difficult to fight. They are well-armored in mail hauburk and scale, and seem to be a little better than average in physical attributes. There is also an elite group of about a dozen Cimmerians who show up from time to time. They hassle and yell at any standard Zingarian guards who happen to be outside the gates. These Cimmerians bunk at the town of Evrona and do the riding patrols outside the estate walls, Evrona, and the road to the mine. They are probably mercenaries, because they never approach the gates. They are led by a fierce crazy-acting barbarian who wears little else but leather-armored trousers and a full helm. At one point, Turpin witnessed this fellow beat his horse to the ground with his bare fists for rearing back unexpectedly. Lord Heironomous addresses Turpin after hearing what he has to say about the Stygian's estate. "Hmm my good man you sound as if you have a major bone to pick with this man, well good!! We need someone of your calibur and skill, not to mention I like you accent" "Both plans have good merit, the first one sneaking in as a Merchant Caravan, hmm I like that plan, but I also like the diversion plan. What if we were to meld the two plans into one?" "Arrive as a merchant caravan, as we are conducting our buisness, at a prearranged signal or time, these slaves attack the front gates drawing the attention of the guard and others away from us, hell we are just lowly merchants. That would give us a chance to find what we came for and to slit the froat of the peg Mekatset. What say you, my good man?" "Also would you perchance happen to the layout of the place in question? Or know someone who would?"
Limburger calls on the noblewoman Ophilia the next day. At first, he meets resistance as he tries to meet her. Rogueish Zamorians are not typically welcomed in civil company here in Zingara. However, just as Limburger is about to give up he lets it slip that he plans on doing some ill to Mekakset. Doors begin opening for Limburger and he is ushered into a darkened room with a young woman seated on an upholstered chair. Limburger is shocked at the woman's beautiful figure. Her lithe limbs and creamy skin carry the promises of the flesh that makes Limburger crave for more. Although the woman is dressed in Zingarian finery to accentuate every curve, she wears a thick veil over her face in the style of a Shemite woman. She lets the Zamorian thief stand as she speaks. "Too long have I been shuttered from the world. I will tell you what I know of Mekakset's estate so long as you let him know who brought his doom when you shove your knife into his back. Are we in agreement?" Limburger is still struck by how attractive the young woman is. Ophilia takes Limburger's slack-jawed nod as an affirmative and continues. "The main house is two stories above ground, cantilevered so that the second floor juts out over the lower. Much of the house is dedicated to a great hall that faces the single gate of the compound. It is wide open with three fireplaces and open to the second floor above. There are several rooms along the balcony of the second floor looking down. These I believe are visitors' rooms as this was where I slept when I was invited to stay with the Stygian." "The remainder of the house is dedicated to slaves' quarters and personal comforts on the first floor. Mekakset's own room where I spent three horrible nights as his captive is on the second floor on the other side of the house from the great hall. He has a room dedicated to implements of torture adjacent to his bedchamber. It is there he forced me to watch procedures that still haunt my sleepless nights. I believe that there are some rooms underground as well. There is a staircase down just behind the great hall, but I have never been down there." Ophilia swallows hard, choking back tears of fear and anger. "The home is trapped throughout. There is at least one pit that Mekakset can open in the main hall that falls to some obscene kennel below. The foyer to Mekakset's bedchamber is also trapped with poisoned darts that fire as you pass a certain point. He boasted that he even has a trap that locks victims in with thick crystal walls and fills the room with lotus dust that drives them mad. He activates these deathtraps with carefully hidden velvet ropes that hang from the ceilings or emerge from the floors of the place." Ophilia delicately begins to unwrap the thick folds of fabric of her veil. "Finally I must warn you that under no circumstances should you let yourself be taken alive. Better to kill yourself than to endure Mekakset's tortures. I got off easy. When I wished to end the relationship, the man only tortured me the smallest bit. But I will bear those scars the rest of my life." The veil falls away, revealing a face that was once beautiful but now hideously disfigured. A single watery, green eye is matched with a smooth empty socket. Her eyebrows are gone and her long, lustrous black hair hangs in patches on her scarred head. Many of her teeth are missing and her fair cheeks bear the marks of slits made all the way to the back of her jaw. Limburger recoils in horror. He leaves with a more through understanding of the man whom he is dealing with. Ophilia provides Limburger with a map.
Lord Heironomous visits the noble Burio at his residence. As he waits for an audience, he is met by the lovely Myshella. "My lady why do you fret so for me, I will never choose to throw my life away. Especially when someone as beuatiful as you tells me not to, I am but your humble servant My lady" Heironomous goes to one knee and takes her hand and gently kisses it and places his forehead on her hand. "My lady, I am sorry I must take my leave of you, I fear that certain emotions that I have denied myself for so long have been thrust to the surface with you radiance, so this is a fond farewell, till we meet again!" Heironomous lets a single tear drop roll down his cheek. He enters Burio's chambers where the noble is conducting business. "My lord I am sorry to have imposed upon you for so long, I will not require that invite to the auction, but perhaps there is one other thing that you could do for me m'lord, I am in the mind to purchase some slaves, some surly types. Die-hards, heathens, murders those type, where can aquire those at."