The Fall of the Tree
The last session of the campaign begins with the team jogging quickly for the nearest city gate, hoping to escape the city before our presumed pursuers catch up with us. Along the way we begin to hear sounds of a large disturbance off in the direction of the amphitheater. Taking a moment to jog up a nearby flight of stairs onto the roof of one of the buildings we take a look in that direction and can see a lot of chaos and violence in the streets surrounding the amphitheater. Taking a moment to observe we can see it seems to be spreading out quickly and we figure we're either looking at a full blown riot erupting or some kind of gang war breaking out.
Since we're all a little wounded, completely broke and likely have the city guard (at least) looking for us, we discuss our current situation and decide hunkering down somewhere safe for a day might be a good idea. With Lamech likely still in the city somewhere and not yet marching for Noah's land and Hamish's army still to the north we figure we have time to shake off a little stun damage and maybe even heal up a wound point. We're also counting on the riot breaking out to cover our tracks a bit and maybe even provide a distraction tonight or tomorrow.
With that we turn our attention to our utter lack of coin and the fact that we're all practically starving. Having subsisted on rotted gruel in the city prison pits for the last few days we could use a solid meal before hiking out across the plain. We tap Jobina to get to work and we all head for the nearest inn. As we're relatively close to the crawlspace where the street urchin introduced us to the underground tunnels we head that way to use the space to hide our armor. With most or all of the city's mercenaries seemingly drafted into one army or the other we figure it wouldn't do to go around standing out in the crowd.
Once we arrive at the inn (one we haven't frequented before) Jobina gets to work finding a nice, wealthy looking target before moving in for the kill. After only a few minutes she's already picked some poor guy out and has him firmly in hand, leading him off towards his room. We're all suitably impressed. Once she leads the fellow away Beckah gives her a few minutes to get the man at ease before she casually strolls off to join her. When the man answers her knock at the door she and Jobina take him by surprise, knock him unconscious quickly and have him already trussed up before Talman and Eisig can wander in.
Having secured an inn room for the night we take turns on watch in case anyone noticed all this and the city guard comes for us. Beckah roots through the man's belongings and comes up with enough coin to purchase something for us to eat. This naturally leaves Jobina a little furious that he didn't seem to have ever had the coin on hand to pay for the services she'd enticed him with in the first place.
As the shadow of the distant tree descends over the town the riot we already hear outside ratchets up to greater violence. Most of the flammable stalls and tents out on the streets are already burning, with the brick and adobe buildings like the inn we're held up in being protected by the inhabitants. A quick peek out the door shows the innkeeper and his bouncers covering the doorways they've already barricaded. Thankfully the mob doesn't seem interested in well-defended buildings beyond a few occasional probes and satisfies itself with rampaging up and down the street outside. Nevertheless we're all robbed of any serious rest by the occasional rain of debris thrown through the window or firebombs impacting the walls outside.
By midnight that changes and we notice a rather large crowd gathering around the inn, intent on getting in and making quite a fuss about it. Eventually Beckah notices some noise outside in the hall and after she listens a while she determines the innkeeper and a couple of the bouncers are checking all the upstairs rooms. Now we're faced with something of a problem as we're not supposed to be here in the first place and the actual occupant of the room is trussed up in the corner.
After considering the matter quickly we determine hiding isn't an option and there's no way to avoid being discovered by the innkeeper and his bouncers. We draw our weapons and make a stand, ignoring their pounding on the door until the innkeeper springs the lock with his own key. When we're finally confronted one of the bouncers recognizes Jobina right away and they have us pegged. The Innkeeper is completely furious and demands we leave immediately, claiming the mob outside knows we're here (someone having presumably recognized Jobina as well). As the Innkeeper has no intention of letting the mob in through the front door he insists we leave or he'll have his bouncers toss us out the window to the crowd. When we size up the opposition and threaten to trounce the bouncers if they try it, the Innkeeper pops back with threatening to let the mob in after us if that's the only option we leave him.
Once we make it clear we've staked out the room and aren't giving it up without a fight, the innkeeper stomps off with his bouncers and we know the guy is heading for the door to let the looters in after us. After discussing our options quickly we decide not to face down the mob (though Talman is all for that, especially since the door itself provides something of a bottleneck). Digging through our gear we soon have ropes strung up to the roof with some makeshift grappling hooks by the time the horde is rattling the door on its hinges.
We're quick to abandon the room since it seems the mob is going to burst in the door any moment but we then find ourselves at the mercy of the crowd below. Taking a few hits from bricks and assorted flaming objects everyone manages to get to the roof with only a couple of small bruises...except Beckah who loses her grip when she's hit and falls to the street atop the crowd below. Thankfully this amounts to a clumsy mosh pit stage-dive and the difficulty of avoiding the falling damage is mitigated to the extent that she's able to avoid it completely with a good roll. She does now stand amidst a veritable horde of bloodthirsty people, though.
Her salvation comes in the form of a lunatic wagon driver barreling down the street, forcing most of the crowd to make way or, in some cases, get trampled. He's able to pull alongside and yell for Beckah to jump in before the crowd can come around to the idea of doing her bodily injury. With a glance at the driver, revealing him to be a stern looking elderly man, she vaults into the back of the wagon and the driver sets off immediately to flee before the crowd can turn on him as well.
Once the wagon driver pulls away Talman is able to move quickly enough to leap down before he gets away and manages to land in the back of the wagon without twisting an ankle. Jobina and Eisig are forced to run down the short series of rooftops to the corner where the man turns sharply and to meet us there. We also manage to jump and fall into the wagon without injury.
Intent on rocketing through the crowd without wrecking or losing speed, the old man can only offer short answers to our questions. He tells us there's a warehouse down the way that he can use to get us over to the neighboring quarter where the crowds haven't gotten quite as wild. He has allies there who are holding back the crowd and will spring the doors open for him to rush inside once he gets there with us. According to him we have supporters and he himself has something in mind to request in exchange for saving our skins.
After a few thrilling turns spent kicking rioters who try to jump into the wagon, we finally arrive. The street outside the warehouse has only a thin mob as a steady stream of fist-sized rocks and chunks of broken wood rain down on it from three dark windows above, keeping them at bay. Once we pull up, barely decreasing speed to do so, the front doors slide open and the driver darts inside to come to a quick halt. He quickly orders us off the wagon and we jump off.
Once we're clear he lashes his horses and speeds away again, out the opposite door, which slides shut again behind him. At which point we find ourselves on the ground floor of a huge, empty warehouse with only the dimmest illumination from a few dirty windows on the upper story.
This is soon rectified as several shutters along the side walls on the second story are sprung open, letting diffuse moonlight into the building more fully. Now we can clearly see the several dozen urchins lining the second story landing and the closed gate barring the stairwell up there. We also quickly spot the very same pickpocket we rescued from the tunnels beneath the city (after having initially chased him there for stealing from us and abandoning him when he got stuck in the first place). This urchin clearly isn't too happy with us still and from the looks of things, neither are any of the other kids.
A short speech informing us of our doom by the apparent leader of the urchin rabble is followed by jeering and a few dozen rotten vegetables thrown at us. Once they've had their fill of that (and we've had time to look around for ways up to the second story or out of the warehouse completely) the leading urchin calls for silence and orders the dogs released.
At some wooden scraping from the shadows we're treated to four large and rather mean looking mastiffs springing into the light to snarl and snap at us. We immediately take up a defensive formation, back to back, and put off our plans to flee until the dogs are dealt with.
Talman and Eisig take Initiative over the dogs but we wait for them to move and thus reduce our Initiative point below theirs. We do draw daggers, however.
When the first mutt springs for Jobina she dodges its attack successfully. Her Initiative point comes up immediately after and she uses its proximity to jab it hard a two times. Rolling high she removes that dog from the fight straightaway.
The second dog jumps for Eisig and he dodges successfully while the last two go after Jobina as well, presumably avoiding Talman's huge bulk. She dodges all but one attack, taking a wince-worthy bite. She spends all her actions on dodges and won't have anything to follow-up with.
Talman goes after one of the dogs on Jobina, dropping it stone dead with two stabs and a solid kick to get if off her in the first place.
Eisig lands a couple of good cuts on the dog that jumped him but doesn't drop it.
Beckah doesn't wait to get jumped and springs for the dog on Eisig, laying into it and darned near killing it right off.
The dog going after Jobina turns to tackle Talman but can't land a bite when he dodges. The second stays on Eisig but he rolls high on his dodging and avoids injury.
Talman continues to roll high as well, dropping Jobina's mutt and turning to wound Eisig's a little more.
Eisig follows up with the killer blow that drops the one after him at last and all the dogs lay dead that quickly.
It's apparent that the urchins are all a little stunned by how quickly we killed four very aggressive (and big and ugly) dogs. They scatter quickly, pouring out of the warehouse through three different holes and loose boards upstairs. We don't bother giving chase, not really wanting to tackle a whole horde of street urchins, and head for the rear doors instead. Talman and Beckah get to work with daggers to lift the bar on the far side and we all spring open the doors.
In this we find the wagon driver seems to have been telling the truth and the rioters out here are indeed less wild than those in the other quarter. They are still rioting though so we decided not to the stick around and wait for trouble. We head for the market at a quick pace, assuming things will be more in order there.
Dodging trouble along the way by adopting the yelling, chanting and wild running about that the mobs displays we reach the bazaar and find it not in order at all. The merchants all seem to have abandoned it already and the place is nearly looted clean by the time we arrive. Furthermore two groups of city guard have throw together hasty barricades, one right in the middle of the bazaar (the guards posted there probably) and the gate guards themselves. The gate guards have naturally blocked our exit from the city, though we didn't really expect to get through there easily in the first place.
Turning our attention to the fact that we're unarmored and have only daggers we consider the tunnels beneath the city in order to try to get to our stashed gear and arm ourselves. From what we were able to roughly map of the tunnels there are two entrances near at hand. One is, of course, somewhere in the middle to the barricade in the middle of the market. The other seems to be in one of the merchant compounds bordering it, which is bristling with spears and guards on the walls.
One man in the street then recognizes us and stops to point us out to the others (this time recognizing Beckah and her monkey). As he was foolish enough to only take a couple of steps back from us to do so, we all jump him by surprise and beat him unconscious before Initiative is even rolled. We immediately rush off across the bazaar, still yelling and chanting like rioters before anyone who heard him can organize and jump us.
There we scrounge around under the guise of looting to find a length of sturdy rope. Finding none Eisig is finally forced to drop a couple of Plot Point tokens to secure one (we left our two ropes hanging from the roof of the inn). We then dash off, still yelling like rioters, toward the nearest tunnel entrance. Once there we're glad to uncover the hidden entrance quickly and we all pile under the building to hide from the riot and figure a way down into the tunnels. Using the rope and a large chunk of wood we dodged moments ago we rig a makeshift line down into the tunnels and scurry down. We manage the climb down safely this time, in direct contrast to our last such attempt.
Once in the tunnels we stumble along blindly (not taking time to light a lamp) for the tunnel up to the crawlspace where we stashed our gear. Once we find it Beckah drops a Plot Point to control Coppertail for a while and sends him up to shove our gear down the hole to us. We find nothing missing, don our gear and dash back blindly again for the rope back up and out. At that point if finally occurs to us that one of the exits from the tunnels is inside the city wall and there's a fifty-fifty chance it opens on the outside.
While Beckah's control of Coppertail is still in effect she sends him up to knock the hunk of wood spanning the hole above down to us, the rope still attached to it. We then hike for the other vertical tunnel, send Coppertail up again with the rope, pull up the plank and have him toss it across the hole up there. Climbing up Eisig then steadies the whole affair and the others climb up to the cramped spot somewhere inside the city wall. When we finally locate the exit and kick the stones away we cheer when we find we're outside the city at last.
Though we're a little sore, tired and hungry we abandon the city altogether and immediately start hiking out for Noah's place. Though it takes a few hours we reach it before the sun rises completely. Along the way we hear faint crackling sounds from the west and are surprised (and a little dismayed) to see visible tremors in the great tree peeking out above the ring of mountains miles away. As we hike along we witness several great branches break lose to fall on the mountaintops and beyond, down onto the lands surrounding it. Apparently Hamish and his army has not only reached Eden but managed to get past the great spirit warrior and are hard at work redecorating the place.
Arriving at Noah's we find the small army we suspected we would is already there, formed up around the great boat with Lamech himself standing proudly atop a pile of wood near there. The great wooden plank has already been drawn into the boat and door is firmly closed. With no one apparently on the lookout and all attention focused on Lamech's ranting up at Noah (who we presume is inside) we move forward at a quick crouch and take cover behind Noah's house. While Lamech continues to demand Noah produce his daughter, Naamah, and threatens to set fire to the boat we discuss our options.
We quickly figure since it's the last session of the campaign that we ought to go down swinging. As far as IC motivations go we figure our characters ought to be at the point where they're desperate to secure a place on the ark, having seen enough to come to the conclusion that Noah probably isn't completely crazy after all. Though we have no rope (having left it behind again) we're able to get up onto the roof of the house with a sturdy empty barrel, a couple of good Agility checks and Eisig (who climbed up first) pulling from above. Once on the roof we're glad to find a few odds and ends to make a rough barricade of our own (though we have to crouch down a bit to make use of it) without being spotted by the crowd.
Once prepared we notch arrows and Talman calls down a challenge to the small army of nearly fifty men below, feeling pretty ecstatic at finally getting his Death Wish. When our challenge is met with surprise, then jeering and cursing, but no charge by Lamech's mercenaries, we let loose our arrows and manage to actually drop one of the men in the process. That's enough to prompt Lamech to order his men to lay siege to the house and our final fight is now on.
Sniping as fast as we can while the men surge forward across the great yard to reach the house we drop five more men before they can even reach us and wound quite a few others. Once they're gathered around the house we're already nearly out of arrows (not having that many each to begin with) so we expend the last few shooting at the handful of archers covering the mercs, dropping half of them.
Once we're out of arrows we wield shields and draw weapons to repel the mercs just in time for the first three to climb up. Though there are still a couple of archers off to the side Talman and Beckah kill two of the mercs without getting shot and Talman simply grabs the other one and throws him off onto the spears below. Eisig and Jobina use the small pile of bricks at hand to pummel the two archers, dropping one of them and badly wounding the other. Eisig takes a couple of arrows in the process and is badly hurt. He retaliates by throwing his dagger (and a trio of Plot Point tokens) at the remaining archer and scores a miraculous aimed shot to the eye, killing him despite being just beyond range.
When some of the spearmen below start throwing their spears like clumsy javelins we dodge and dive for the barricade with only Talman taking a light hit from that. This leaves us with three good spears at hand which none of us are very good with, so we simply spend a turn while waiting for more mercs to climb up by breaking them in half and throwing the sharp end back down at the mercs.
After several turns of us lopping the heads off mercs trying to climb onto the building Lamech finally knocks some sense into his men and has them back off to start pummeling us with bricks themselves. Our barricade protects fairly well from this (though Jobina take a couple of hard hits) and they cut it out once we start throwing the bricks back at them. Seeing we have nothing but a few bricks and no arrows, Lamech then pulls his men back out of short throwing range and lays proper siege. We toss a few bricks at the men, actually dropping yet another one, before we realize we're wasting our only ranged ammo and quit as well.
When Lamech orders men to light torches and start splashing oil on the ark we do our best to throw some bricks as far as we can that way but have no hope of hitting them. When we don't come down to defend Noah right away he pulls those men off the ark and rolls a whole leaking barrel of oil right into the house we're standing on and sets fire to that instead. We do manage to bean one of the men running forward with torches and drop him dead at the front step, though.
Once the house is properly burning on the inside Lamech has his men toss his torches on the oil they've spilled on the ark, setting in on fire as well. In the dry heat it catches quickly and we know we've precious few turns until the ark is fully ablaze. At that we figure it's time to abandon the relative safety of the rooftop and we shove the long ramp we've readied off the edge to charge down. While Lamech's men have been reduced in number a good bit already we're still facing some twenty professional mercenaries plus Lamech and three very sturdy looking men who've been at his side the whole while. Even the standard mercs have already proven quite skilled so haven't any expectations of surviving the fight.
Charging down the plank we dash madly forward across the yard toward the line of spears and shields already set up to greet us. As we run yelling our battlecries we're startled to find the ground suddenly shaking beneath us, building until it shakes so violently that it sends us all off our feet, even Lamech and his lieutenants. As we all flounder on the ground, waiting out the earthquake, an ear-shattering explosion bangs in from the west, striking us physically with the force of it and kicking up dust all around us. Off on the horizon we can see an unimaginably huge gout of white water explode into the sky from Eden, nearly as broad as the entire ring of mountains. Around the mountaintops huge gouts of dried earth fly out into the air for miles around, seemingly the entire huge patch of land within the ring, all exploded outward with the force of the eruption.
Gawking in horror we're all completely stunned at the sight and all thoughts of the battle we were about to engage in completely driven from our minds. As we watch the monstrous explosion of water gush into the sky we can still see the dark shape of the tree, broken and tattered though it may be from all the abuse, still holding on to whatever ground still remains beneath it. Finally it teeters to the side as the earth beneath is eroded away and the force of the water against it shoves it over against the nearest mountain. At last it slides down out of sight within the mountain ring, seemingly sucked under by the force of the great geyser.
In less than a minute the water not shooting off into the upper atmosphere is raining down around the outside of the mountains, much of it coming down like hard rain even as far where we lay. This is enough to get the mercenaries onto their feet to run in a screaming panic in all directions. The sight of several of them making for the shelter of Noah's house prompts us to brave the trembling earth for a mad dash back to the safety of the rooftop. Before we're halfway there we can already hear the unmistakable roar of water approaching from the west.
Once we've run, staggered and crawled back up the plank we turn to pull it back up and block off the mercs from taking the roof along with us. Then we can see not only the solid wave of water heading our way across the rocky plain but Lamech and his three lieutenants headed our way as well. At that Talman promptly kicks the ramp back off the roof again to let them up and takes position at the top, clearly welcoming the opportunity to go down fighting. As that seems like a fine idea to the rest of us, we ready weapons and shields again and take our spots alongside him.
One of Lamech's lieutenants is first up the ramp, a screaming wildman wielding an ivory hook. He's clearly of whatever race of hook wielding savages we've faced before and we hold our attacks until he's lain into us properly. Though Talman, the target of his rage, makes every dodge he can he's still hit with a hard slash and is forced to take his Second Wind right off the bat to avoid combat penalties. His follow up attack while Lamech and the other two men charge up the plank lands right in the savage's unprotected throat. We're a little dismayed when this and Talman's other two successful strikes don't drop him instantly but Eisig's jab to the gut puts him out of the fight and rolling down the ramp to slow the others down.
Lamech proves much more nimble than the other two men and leaps right over the tumbling barbarian to land right amongst us. His deadly reputation proves every bit as accurate as we'd feared when he drops both Eisig and Jobina in his first flurry of attacks. Eisig manages to avoid unconsciousness and death by taking his Second Wind but he's still sporting damage penalties. Jobina isn't so lucky and actually fails her first attempt to stay conscious, passing out cold from the attack. She hasn't taken enough damage to risk death but the poor girl did end up missing the whole final fight after that.
Talman's Initiative point comes up and he levels three hard attacks on Lamech, dropping all his Plot Points in groups of three on each attack. He only hits one time proving just how serious a customer this Lamech guy is, though the blow catches him at the knee, forcing him down on the other. When Beckah follows up with three jabs to the head she catches Lamech in the eye with her first blow and he's visibly reeling from the assault. Eisig does his part, scratching the old man up a bit but still not taking him out completely.
Lamech's counterattack wounds Talman badly, knocking him past the halfway mark with three hard hits, but we can already spot the damage penalties he's laboring under as well as the penalties from his current position. When the second of his lieutenant's arrives on the scene though, we aren't sure we can drop him before this other guy slays us all. Talman opts for one dodge and innate defense against all of this tattooed man's other attacks, hoping to survive long enough to kill Lamech. We practically cheer when the guy rolls low on the first attack and botches the second one, leaving the black axe he's wielding stuck in Talman's shield. Talman then changes his tactics and aims his first strike at this guy's leg instead, hitting hard enough to do serious damage, before turning his other two attacks against Lamech and dropping him very thankfully out of the fight at last.
Beckah and Eisig carry the pain to the next man in line, who's isn't going anywhere after Talman crippled him. With no weapon and not so much as a shield to block us with we go for his legs as well and drop him alive but ready for a killing blow next turn.
Before the final lieutenant arrives Talman simply lops off the head of the prone one and drops his shield to actually grapple the remaining man (fearing he might end up surviving his Death Wish fight). With Talman grabbing him the man with the skull painted on his face drives his mace right into Talman's skull a couple of times and drops him down to the plank unconscious. Talman (despite Johnny's best efforts to have him fight well and still die) hasn't quite suffered enough Wounds to risk death and is only unconscious.
Eisig's attempts to slash the painted skull of the guy's face all miss completely and I'm wishing I hadn't aimed after all. Beckah lands a gash to his face and one hard hit on top of that, though.
On his Initiative point the skull-faced man simply breaks both Beckah's leg and her weapon arm, blowing right through her defenses to do it. A final hit almost but not quite renders her unconscious but she's 2 points away from that. With nothing left to attack with she makes a desperate couple of strikes with her shield and actually manages to lock up his own shield with hers. Eisig is lucky enough to be on the right side for it, so he follows up on Beckah's luck with three solid attacks and all his remaining Plot Points. While he doesn't kill the man he renders his weapon arm as useless as Beckah's.
The last turn of fighting has the skull-faced man planting a boot to Beckah's head, knocking her past her Life Points and out cold when she fails her first Endurance check. He slams his shield into Eisig once he's gotten it free as well and Eisig nearly buys the farm, teetering on his last three Life Points. With no Plot Points and no Second Wind he does his best with some good old fashioned straight forward attacks. Though he only lands one hit it's enough to drop our last opponent dead.
Before Eisig can make good on his plan to treat the others and get them roused enough to run for the nearby hills the wave of water has already arrived, slamming into the ark with enough force to actually move the huge thing a few feet. Luckily Noah's house is almost directly behind it and the worst of the wave crashes by off to the side. Nevertheless we're hit with our own lesser rush of water (which does at least extinguish the fire raging inside) that shakes the foundations of the house and sprays over all of us with some force.
Once we've survived that much without getting swept away Eisig is able to get to work trying to rouse the others. He's only able to get Beckah up and around a bit after checking everyone to ensure no one's bleeding badly enough to risk death. Not knowing if Talman or Jobina have taken any Shock Points or enough damage to put them in a coma we spend a couple of turns trying to rouse them. We finally get Jobina awake when she realizes she still has some Plot Points and uses those on the pesky Average Endurance check she keeps failing. Talman never does wake up.
In the end we simply ties off the ramp that was thrown back up on top of us and shove it off the back side of the house, then drop Talman down on it and grab the only long plank still on hand. Once we're all on board the plank and managed to keep it from tipping over we grab what holds we can and cut the rope, riding out the torrent for as long as we can.
In the end we're still close enough to witness enough water rise up in the area to finally lift crazy old Noah's boat clear, long since extinguishing the fire along it's side. As far as we can tell it's in fine shape and we at least know he and his family are safe. In fact, the boat is so huge they likely didn't even know what was going on down below the whole time, having never heard a thing.
After several hours we finally manage to snag up against one of the higher hills and scramble off while there's still some solid ground underfoot. Talman has to be dragged off before the flood waters begin carry our makeshift raft away but we get clear enough to avoid the same fate. Once we reach the top of the hill and get a good look around we're relieved to see the water doesn't seem to be rising very fast and a look toward what remains of Eden show the huge geyser there is finally tapering off.
Any hope of outlasting the flood is lost when it begins to rain, at first lightly but in ever-increasing force. A good look around shows that the hill we're standing on is one of only three in visible range that haven't already been covered completely. One of them goes under even as we watch. With that we figure we've had a grand adventure and at least managed to put Lamech down personally so we toss our weapons to the earth and find a comfortable rock to perch on while awaiting the waters to reach us.
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