Borders Drawn in Blood

A Plan Emerges

The Cardinal, for lack of anything better to call him, has such evil in his heart and it is heartbreaking to see the effects he is having on so many others.

The assassin nearly got the best of us. He was next to me and I never even noticed him. When the others realized something they were unable to see me even though I was standing right in front of them. Thank goodness we made it out alive but that man was so twisted and deformed I almost felt sorry for him. I know he chose his fate by siding with the Cardinal but I am not sure any of us really knows what we are in for when choose a path. I wish I had Dominic’s faith. He is steadfast and strong and knows he is on the right path. His vision while crazy and disturbing do actually help me understand where his beliefs come from even if I don’t quite understand it. But I guess that is what faith is all about.

What I do know and believe with all my heart is that the Cardinal and any others that are in league with the devil need to be banished from the this world. They are vile and corrupt and are bleeding that corruption on to everyone in their path. I have been warned that I may be on the wrong path myself but I will see the end of the Cardinal or die trying. If eliminating the Cardinal costs me my life or worse I am okay with that as long as he is no longer able to hurt anyone again. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

After one more scouting expedition to the gate to determine how they are keeping all the plague people inside the city walls we decide to head back to Verona. We learned that the plague victims do not like fire and simple torches keep them at bay and that the gate is actually locked from the outside. Other than that we really didn’t learn much at all.

We manage to get back without any trouble and report our finding to Can grande. I really try to come up with good suggestions but I battle strategy still eludes me. He always has a puzzled looked whenever we talk. Fredrich and Nizar makes some good suggestions and Dominic is ever steadfast in his conviction to burn the city. I have to say I am beginning to agree with him after that last vision and the finding out that fire seems to be the only thing that stops the creatures. I told him about the assassin that attacked us and he said he came after him as well. He took out 42 men and the 2 Keepers he was training. That is not good news at all. Can Grande says we need more of a plan and sends us off to figure it out.

I know I am suppose to be leading this whole army thing but I really don’t see how we are going to keep the Cardinal or that damn assassin from wiping out any catapult that starts hurling flaming pitch into the city. There were some suggestions of using me as bait but I was not really too keen on that plan. Can Grande pointed out that we would be the last place he would attack since we might have a chance of stopping him.

We head back to talk to Uguccione. After hearing from Artigli that he said a blessing and then ran his sword through a soldier’s breast plate I am fairly certain I can talk to him more openly. We sit down with Morrosini and Ghibbeline to try and figure out a plan. The usually squabbles take place and eventually Uguccione sends them on their way to look for volunteers to wade into the sea of plagued people to light them on fire. I expected Ghibbline to go along but I am amazed that Morrosini thought that was a reasonable plan. When Uguccione suggested it I assumed he just wanted them out of the way and it worked like a charm.

After those 2 were gone the rest of us discussed the real issue of the Cardinal, and any others he might send, and how to keep him away from the catapults. After much discussion we agreed that the 6 of us would try and join in with the water carriers and make our way into the inner city. Once there we would try and to gather enough information to determine where the Cardinal is and how best to get to him. Once we were ready Nizar will send word to Uguccione through Layil.

With our somewhat suicidal plan in place we decide to head to Ravenna to try and buy some Sands from the beaches of Hell. Which is what Artigli says the fire pot he used was called by the merchant he got it from. We take the Snow Valley men, Herzog, Franz and Artigli with us. Upon entering the city we are able to locate a merchant that is packing up to leave port. We are able to purchase 2 of what he called fire powder. That is much easier to say than Sands from the…. well you get the idea. Nizar also made some serious money by selling a few of his scimitars. He actually received gold coins.

So we head back to Verona and upon our return the army starts to move towards Milan. Can Grande took part of the army to defend something or other. I am sure it was important if he took them away from Milan. Hopefully we will have everyone for the main assault.

The prospect of the next few days is daunting to say the least but I have faith in our cause and in my friends. We will end the Cardinal even if I don’t get anything else out of this.

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Courting Victoria

We push the horses so we can make it back to the Camp with the Snow Valley men an only hour after darkness. Seeing the murder of crows around the spires of the cathedral brings back bad memories and I would rather we had an extra 150 men around us.
We are woken shortly after midnight to the screaming of the children. (although I guess at 16 and 17 they are not really children anymore, Not even Artigli at 15)
Dominic moves to Victoria and asks god to protect her. And I call on Allah to protect first Ettore and then Artigli. They stop screaming and wake from a shared nightmare. The Cardinal was sailing on a barge made of corpses, on a river of blood, with Victoria tied to the prow of the ship as a living figurehead. They are all shaken, but Artigli is the worst as this is his first encounter with the Evil the Cardinal can summon.
We go back to a restless sleep and make it to dawn. I am especially fervent in my prayers to Allah, asking him for the strength and wisdom to keep my friends safe.
We move camp that morning and move closer to the river while still staying in the cover of the forest. We plan to visit the small town on the river near Milan and see if we can gather any information. But it is after midday before we get a new camp established for the 150 men and 1 bear, so we will wait until tomorrow to leave.
That night we are startled awake by Franz the Bear roaring in fury a short distance from the camp. We rush to the sounds of combat, and hear a thud, the snapping of a tree and Franz’s roars change to whimpers of pain. As we close, Freidrich and Hertzog feather a wolf with arrows killing it. We see three more wolf figures melt away into the darkness. I can smell the rotting stench of the plague even from this distance. Damn Franz is severely wounded and looks to have been thrown into the tree breaking it. How strong were these wolves if they could toss a 600 pound bear?? We manage to calm Franz enough to let Victoria near to heal him. And by the time he is mostly healed, Victoria has a new friend.
Friedrich losses the tracks in the darkness, so we will track them in the morning. The Plague wolves can not be allowed to roam the countryside.
The next morning Franz has definitely contracted the plague. Hertzog is very distressed by this as animals should not be able to contract it. Dominic calls on God to bless the bear and the disease vanishes.
The 5 of us plus Artigli track the wolves and once they clear the forest they make a beeline for the city of Milan!! Damn they were sent by the Cardinal…
So we head back to camp and let Hertzog know what we found. He is in charge of the men until we get back from out scouting mission to the river village.
Layil scouts ahead and comes back saying that a patrol of about 100 black clad men have left the village guarding several water wagons and head back to Milan. Wearing our black surcoats with the white cross as disguises we make it to the village shortly after sundown. There is no wall but a guard is standing on the road. We tell him we are new recruits and need food and a place to stay tonight, we will be going to Milan in the morning. He believes our story and waves us in the general direction of the Inn. We find the place and enter the subdued common room. we order food and a suite for the night. And Victoria plies the innkeeper for information be fore we retire for the night. She find out that the water patrols come about 2 or 3 times a week. and that he is not aware of the plague infesting the city between the inner and outer walls.
That night Friedrich Spots a wolf in the street behind the inn. We arm ourselves while asking god and Allah for protection and strength. We leave the inn by the front door and attack the wolf there. A second wolf joins the fight from down the street, but where is the third? I get savaged by the first but we manage to kill it, when the third appears behind Dominic but his armor protects him. Then Victoria stops singing. We kill the second and I step into the inn and I shout that Victoria is no where to be seen. Dominic and ettore Join me in the Inn leaving Freidrich and Atrigli to kill the third. When Victoria appears next to us with her throat slashed, weird Dominic has an identical wound on his throat. Then Dominic is slashed by an unseen blade multiple times, leaving him greiviously wounded. I go invisible as I do not want to suffer Dominic’s fate, and move out the door behind Dominic. He goes to move and bumps into me, Slashing blindly with his sword, dealing me a minor wound. Ettore and I attack random spots next to Dominic but get no hits. We then see the back door open and close. I follow him outside and Victoria has said it was a man, and that he was sent to capture her as the Cardinal wants her to join him in ruling the world. I don’t see him so head back to the front of the inn with the group. He attacks again but this time Fredrich takes the hits. Doiminc has healed himself and I dispel his invisibility, but he cloaks him self in darkness before we can close with him. I get everyone together and ask Allah to cloak them in his protection. We can not bee seen if we stay close to Victoria. And Victoria says his thoughts are fading, we should leave now…

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Love and War Part 2

Three years to explore. Three years to be master of my own destiny; I wake up when I wish and retire when I wish. I am free to roam the streets of Verona … oh, but they are nothing like the old streets of Venice I once knew! Oh, how my heart yearns to return. For now, Verona must suit my needs. For it is here I found my love, my one and only, Viola. Oh, if you knew my true feelings in my heart. If only you felt the same for me as I to you. Maybe one day you will.

I have become very familiar with the streets of Verona during this time. I have also been spending a lot of time with our soldiers on the estate, sparing with them; teaching them some of the things that Nizar has taught me. Nicco and Gino are good company as well. I consider them as close a friend as Nizar and the others.

::battle cries, swords clanging, men shouting:: I notice that the cluster of enemy soldiers I was moving in to engage have some how become stunned. Some are even prone! Now is my chance! ::marching enemy soldiers increase in volume over the noise of battle:: I must move back!

Nizar, Dominic, The Dog, and I attempt to close the gates … all the dead are making this task more difficult than it should be. I recite a silent prayer for them as I close the gate.

That reminds me, I remember hearing something about another wave of allies coming to our aid… I wonder what is holding them up. I overhear something about encountering enemy soldiers. I only hope they are as successful as we are.

“Keep him alive!” shouts Can Grande. I turn to look and he is referring to San Bonafacio.

Viktoria and the others discuss plans – for the immediate future and their intentions for the next year. Their voices kind of fade away as I stand taking in all of this: all this death, this blood, and this destruction. I believe that I will never get used to this. I find a spot to sit, pray, and clean my daggers as I await the rest of my party. Thoughts stray toward Viola…

Another year to be at the mercy of my own desires, so this time I focus more of my attention on my sweet Viola.

We ready for Milan and the Snow Valley Men accompany us. We are to assess the situation there. I must say Viktoria has impressed me. Being handed responsibilities she’s never had before and having to make decisions she’s never made before, she seems to be dealing with them with the utmost maturity. I have a newfound respect for her. I wish for her sake alone that we are successful with all of this; I do not want all of her efforts to be in vain.

We arrive at a quaint little bridge and a small group of men appear to be guarding it, requiring a toll in order for others to cross. Viktoria begins talking to them and I get a little impatient. I toss the man the required payment and begin to cross. I stop and think, these are men just trying to get by. I noticed the condition of the lands all around here on our journey so far. We have a fairly large group of men with us that are more than likely not going to be as cooperative with paying such a toll. I don’t want unnecessary bloodshed over a mere toll. I calculate the cost for those men and toss the same man a coin pouch. “We have a fairly large group of men with us who will be here shortly. I don’t want any problems. Here is the coin for their passage.” … “You’re very welcome.” I look at Viktoria and Nizar then turn around to continue crossing.

Friederich and the Snow Valley Men find a suitable camp about a day and a half away from the gates of Milan. Viktoria gives them instructions before we head over there to investigate. We decide to take our horses. Surprisingly, we notice no guards along the wall. We manage to climb up and scan the area. Sights and smells rise of The Sickness when suddenly we hear people talking/shouting and sounds of a struggle. A group of three or four drags a woman from a shanty and devours her on the street. My body shivers as I look away. I pray silently for that woman.

There is a second wall, an inner wall, surrounding a cathedral and two spires. Armored guards are formed there; those walls are manned. Suddenly, emerging from the spires is a murder of crows. They circle the cathedral once before heading in our direction. Time to move! Halfway to our camp we don’t hear the crows nor see them. I hope the night is uneventful….

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The new testiment of a manuel of exceptional tactics and fortification ( the queen victoria edition volume one) a prequle to love and war
I remeber the lord asking us to return his chidren…but i dont rember if he specified or not breathing..I hope this doesnt cause a tiff… We arrange a meeting with the lords men.we nform them about the tragity and the mood quickly shfts…i think there upset …i m starting to believe he wanted them breathing..They say they will return the next day after they deliever the news. Opon the arrival the next day they request we are unarmed… now normally i am at a huge dis advantage not havng a weapon…but i have something stronger then steal..and thats faith..and jesus. anda rather large arab that im pretty sue would rip off one of there arms and bludgen them with it if things go wrong. We met with the lord.. it seems he almost doesnt even reconize Victoria… Funny.. we travel distant lands nd she the most wanted thing in all the land….meanwhile her homeland she goes unnoticed. We discuss what had happen and the lost and a heavy gloom is cast over the room. Victoria shares with the lord that she is from the Camalski family and he advises us that we should leave… surely the black gaurds would retaliete for our rescue and it was not safe there. On our travels we run into Hurtzog and Otto NotTheDeadOne…. which he claims to be swiss but NotTheDeadOne is clearly not a name from such region…but i ve been lied to before. So we travel in our betallion of rather large.. dangerous men… all lead by my lady victoria ..a 13 year old wordsmith. While we make camp we have a visitor… one i which looks like Artgile… if he had maybe spent the past few years pulling a wagon or purhapse vigoursly farmed … it is Artgile. He has been asigned to help us and aid Victoria to sucess. I ve learned ot to judge book by its cover. Fierce warriors dont have a look i have learned… there could be a tiger peering behind those young eyes..
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Love and War

“You think you’re WHAT?!” Friedrich stood there mouth partially agape, the last bit of water trickled down his chin after he had spit the rest out of his mouth after he heard the news.
Carine stood silent in the middle of the living room, a pair of tears were beginning to stream down her face. “I t-think I am pregnant. I had an idea about a week and a half ago but I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid you would leave.”
Friedrich still dumbstruck and stammering for words stood silent for a few moments. “I-I-… I need to go for a walk” he turns quickly, moving through the foyer toward the door. “Wait, don’t go” Friedrich ignores Carine’s cry for him to stay which is followed by muffled sobbing as he turns the knob and quickly pushes the door open.
He quickly moves out of the courtyard and into the street briskly walking away from the house, his mind a swirl of thought. ‘What do I do, how did this happen? Well I know how it happened but what do I do now. I don’t know how to raise a kid, sure Nizar Dominic and I have been protecting Ettore and Victoria but they are almost grown and they can almost take care of themselves. Not to mention there is a psychotic ex-cardinal trying to kill us. How would I ever protect them from not only him but all of his devil worshiping cronies. Do I stay? Do I go? Where would I go, back to the Empire? No, Rosa said that its even more dangerous for me now than before. Do I head south, I wouldn’t get very far before running out of land. I would have to head to Africa, but I can’t speak Arabic. I know, I will head to Crete and become I pirate!…. No, no on second thought Crete is a silly place. I suppose I could stay. I mean I do like her, she is kind, wise, good looking, she makes me laugh, makes a killer mutton, and that ass…….’
Friedrich stops in the middle of the street, staring blankly straight in front of him, lost in thought as people move around him, going about their daily chores. Suddenly Friedrich shakes his head, his mind now returning to his body. He pauses for a second, “You know what, why the hell not.” He then turns down a side street, headed to the main shops. ’I’ll just look in the shops that Victoria always goes to, I am sure I will find one there.’
‘He wants how much for this thing?’ Friedrich studies the ring that the jeweler has given him to look at, ‘I don’t think Dominic’s armor is worth that much’ “I am sorry, but I think its a little high for my pay grade”. Friedrich leaves the store now both worried and frustrated, ‘I have been to 3 of the places, none of them have anything I could both afford and doesn’t look like scheiße. Ugh, one last place to try.’ Friedrich enters the shop and begins looking at the merchandise. He looks at one item behind the counter intently ‘that looks nice but not very special.’
“That’s a nice item if I do say so myself”, and elderly man walks in from the backroom. “Oh don’t mind me, take your time.”
“It is nice but, its honestly not very special.”
“Oh no, how so?”
“Its pretty but very plane, there is nothing in the middle.”
“If you want I can put something in the middle. Did you have something in mind?”
Friedrich ponders a moment, staring at the item as the gears turn in his head. “I think I have an idea.”

Carine stands at the kitchen counter. Knife in hand, she slowly and blankly chops carrots for supper, the tears now dry on her face, though some of the streaks on her face still linger. She hid for a while from the others so they wouldn’t see her in her distressed state. She hears the front door close but doesn’t react and continues to absentmindedly cut vegetables. Footsteps move into the living room and stop at the doorway, Carine mechanically continues.
“Carine, I want to apologize for earlier, I shouldn’t have run out of the house like that, I just, needed some time to think.”
Only the steady chopping noise of the knife comes from Carine.
“I understand your feelings, I didn’t mean to hurt or frighten you. But I have something to ask you.”
The knife stops mid slice. Carine releases her grip from the knife, leaving it on the counter and slowly turns toward him. Friedrich takes a few steps forward, gets down on one knee and presents a broach with the Metzger coat of arms in the middle. “Will you be Mrs. Carine Metzger?”

“What do you mean they have besieged Vincenza?” Victoria, Nizar and Dominic already started packing up by the time Friedrich was being filled in. “And where is Ettore?”
“Look, that is just what the note said, from the sounds of it, they are besieged by a small army but the are most likely more of those black knight guys. And I have no idea where Ettore is, who knows where he disappears to when he is not around. I wouldn’t worry though, he always seems to show up when the trouble starts”.
‘Great, more of these guys, can’t they just do us all a favor and just disappear.’
The group heads out toward Vincenza, the snow-valley men, several groups of archers, and some nights with them. Several days out, Cangrende Della Scala, Artigli, and 3000 men, catch up to us. When we get to Vincenza, siege towers are already being built and are about half the height of the city walls. Cangrende pulls us aside and tells us he has a plan. ‘This should be good’. As he tells us his plan I can see the look in Victoria’s eyes, she thinks this plan is nuts, but good luck telling Cangrende that. We are to go into one side of the city wearing black knight ta-bards, exit the other side of the city, meet up with the black knights, tell them we can open the gates, then open the gates and hold the line until the rest of our men can run them down. ‘Yep, he’s crazy. Too bad I work for him’.

‘I can’t believe they fell for it’, as we sneak back into the city, Friedrich is surprised on how much little convincing that these black knights needed to think we were on their side. Now lets hope we can hold off the guys long enough for our reinforcements to close the vice. Everyone takes positions behind the gate as I head up the stairs to the walls. The loud creak of the gate opening soon followed the sound of yelling soon afterward. The first wave of black knights are stopped at the gate by a row of men, mostly Cangrande, Dominic and Nizar. Victoria is in the back and I have no idea where Ettore went, again. The wall of people hold, until the black guard captain comes forward. With a wave of his hand most of our men on the street collapse dead, bruises all over their bodies. Friedrich experiences an agonizingly amount of pain but manages to stay conscious. Artigli then moves in front of Victoria, a large bag in his hand. He sets it down in front of him and starts messing with it. ‘Son this is not the time to be messing with your pack, grab the sword and hit somebody. Why are you throwing it at the enemy and why is it smoki-’
BOOOOOM!!!!!!!
“What in the name of the pope and anti-pope was that!?” Almost everyone on the ground level are either dead or in a daze. A small whole where the pack was thrown is all that is left of the bag. The roofs of the guard towers are partially splintered by the explosion. Friedrich looks to the black knight captain and sees him wobbly on his feat and clutching his head as if inn a daze. ‘Here is my chance’, Friedrich takes aim and fires several arrows into him. Ettore runs toward the group of black knights to attack them while they are temporarily incapacitated. As we begin moping up the survivors we can see the hundreds more black knights headed our direction, and our archers are now in a panic and moving off the walls in a unorganized retreat. ‘I hope our helps gets here soon’.

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A Vision Revealed
The Rescue continued ...

Fear runs through me as Nizar falls to the ground. His lifeless body surrounded by our enemies. We are separated by distance and an entire force of enemies, and I am unable to assist him. Dominic, Fredrich, and Ettore are battling the many that stand between us and our fallen friend. I watched in horror as Prince Gelph cut Nizar to ribbons in only a couple of hits. I have no idea how we will ever prevail against such unholy evil but Dominic’s vision gives me hope.

This is what he is meant to do and he seems to be empowered by what he saw. I saw the woman as a warning but for Dominic she brought meaning and purpose to him. He has the power of God on his side and he will not fail. I have to believe that, because he does, and although our motivations differ our goal is the same. We both need to end this evil that has taken over Milan and threatens to take over the entire country. The Cardinal will not stop until he is brought to his death. I do not know how we will accomplish it but with Fredrich, Ettore and hopefully Nizar we will triumph.

The battle is turning to our ever so slight advantage but, we still have the Prince to get through. He is an unholy man and I pray as Dominic and Fredrich move up to face him. Unfortunately Fredrich gets there first and gets much the same greeting as Nizar did. Fredrich’s gut is opened wide but the blow does not appear to have had the same devastating effect that it had on Nizar. Dominic moves up to meet the Prince and get his attention away from Fredrich. As I glance behind the Prince my heart jumps a beat as I see that Nizar is up again. Thank God he is alive. He looks to be moving in to attack the Prince again. I am sure he is one angry Arab at this point. Not many men can say they got the best of Nizar.

Nizar and Dominic unleash on the Prince. Dominic calling on God to give him the power to smite this evil from the world and Nizar channels all his anger into his strikes. The Prince finally falls under one of Dominic’s mighty blows. He seems to still be breathing so he strikes him again attack until he is finally dead. Once the Prince falls the other men are easily dispatched.

We quickly find several of the heirs in the cells close to where we were fighting. We know there are more in the other cells behind the monastery but we need to take out the archers up top before proceeding any further. We make our way up and there are several archers around the edge of the rooftop. Seeing an opportunity I cause the ground under one of the archers to become rather slippery. He falls to the room below and I am satisfied for all of a second when I realize I just sent him down to where all the heirs are helpless in their cells and one is lying in the stairwell. I yell to Nizar to help them downstairs. He looks a bit puzzled at first and then comes to the same conclusion as I did. He races downstairs to finish off the fallen archer.

Meanwhile Dominic, Ettore and Fredrich and I try to finish off the rest. This proves to be a lot more difficult than we had hoped. We are in bad position and the archers have clear shots at us. As Ettore and Dominic move up the stairs they are met by 3 more of the black knights. I am unsure what happened but I scream for Nizar as Dominic falls. His wounds do not appear to be so bad as to take him down so something else must have caused his fall. Ettore and Fredrich battle the men and are making progress but are also being terribly wounded as they go. We are still outnumbered and I fear we may not make it through this battle. There is another black knight approaching from below. Ettore moves in front of me to take the attack. He is such a brave young man. He lands several blows but is already wounded and falls as the knight returns with attacks of his own. I am unable to get to Ettore and Fredrich is doing his best to keep all the others at bay. Nizar makes it back to us just in time to take out the man that downed Ettore. Not long after, Dominic appears to be coming around, and between the 3 they manage to finish off the archers and black knights. Before they kill them all another falls, or perhaps jumped, down to the ground below. Oh no the children again. I use the last of my healing to help Ettore before we head back down.

We race downstairs and manage to stop the one archer taking shots at the captives in the cells. He managed to hit one before we got there but he will survive.

Fredrich goes off to find a horse to hitch the wagon to so we can get the heirs down the mountain. We managed to find 15 heirs 2 of which are wounded. Unfortunately 2 are dead. As we are helping round up the heirs we hear Fredrich in another fight. All of a sudden this massive horse comes charging into the monastery and attacks Nizar. Oh this place is full of such unspeakable evil. Nizar and Dominic manage to kill the beast. We find Fredrich severely wounded but they manage to stabilize him. Another minute or two and he may not have survived. Now if this vile place doesn’t hold any other surprises we need to figure out how to get the heirs back safely.

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The Rescue?

After we cleaned up the signs of our fight, we move down the trail a ways and pick a spot to rest for the afternoon. We plan to attack at night, hopefully killing some in their sleep. With only 4 dead the odds are to far in the evil one favor still. But no matter the odds we must rescue the children. Allah why must the evil ones always harm children? Cowards all!!
I have Layil verify that the children are in the monks cells behind the chapel, and keep a watch for anyone leaving the abbey.
We do not make it to evening, it is only mid afternoon when Dominic stands up and walks out of camp toward the Abbey. What is he doing!?! He face is blank and he does not respond to our calls. He is controlled!! I pray to Allah to protect him, but it does not work and he keeps walking. I attempt to grapple him but something is lending him inhuman strength as he continues walking dragging Freidrich and I along. Lila is singing but gasps and stops walking her face is pale and very troubled.
We come within sight of the abbey and arrow swarm toward us. But strangely all of the arrows swerve and hit Dominic’s shield. Leaving everyone unharmed. Dominic then come back to himself and we slowly retreat back around the bend in the trail…
Now what? We have lost the advantage of surprise. On the way back to our resting place, Lila and Dominic start talking about some vision that “God” granted him and that we will be successful in our rescue attempt. Great Lila is losing her mind now too…
Just at nightfall, Layil tells me there 10 men on the way down the trail. We hear them coming, more men in plate mail by the sound. Dominic and I are praying for Strength and protection, when his shield begins to glow with a Slivery Cross. His God is with him as Allah is with me, it will be enough to make us victorious.
We hide in the trees along the path, well everyone but Dominic, hiding behind a very small tree, with a glowing shield!
As they approach Lila sings as little louder and the enemy begins to fight among themselves. One of the two Archers skewers on of the men in plate with and arrow and two other plate armored men turn on a third. Two men continue toward where we are “hiding” and the other Archer turns and runs off. When the men get close enough, I step out and kill him in one hit, spilling his guts to the ground. Dominic does the same with the other. Freidrich is shooting at the rest and Ettore is missing like normal. Hopefully the boy will not popup too far from the rest of us.
The enemies in-fighting continues as we approach. I kill a second and a third, Allah has lent my arm strength. Layil is alarmed, he can hear screaming coming from the abbey. As Ettore kills the last of the evil men. We all hear the screams of two voices, a woman and a man. We sprint for the abbey.
The screams fade as we reach the open ground and a flurry of crossbow bolts meets us. Ettore dives for the cover of the cliff side shadows, I pray to Allah to hide me from the sight of the infidels and Freidrich takes cover behind a two wheeled cart. Freidrich bolts for a window 12’ up and catches the sill and pulls himself through. My first attempt is not so successful, at least the infidels did not see me fail. Dominic finally catches up, with Lila and he hiding behind his tower shield. Ettore break cover and bolts for the front door, attempting to unbar them from the outside. Freidrich and I have discovered that the bell tower does not connect to the main building! Damn a jump and climb for nothing… the first one is going to bruise.
The bar clatters to the ground and Ettore opens the doors wide. Inside we see an Altar at the far end of the pillared room. There is a limp body of a woman is draped over the blood covered altar. And a man is chained to the right wall. There are two doorways in the left wall one close and one by the altar. I move to the closest one and see two armored guards waiting out of sight. the rest of the group moves into the room. Ettore toward the man hanging from the shackles, Freidrich and Dominic toward the far doorway, with Lila following cautiously, she begins to sing wincing as she does. The Guards do not see me, Allah is still protecting me from their evil sight, and I hear prayers being chanted further in. The Guelph Prince is kneeling in a courtyard praying. If I can get close enough I can kill him before he stands. I must move very quietly though. Sounds of fighting breakout near the other doorway. The Prince stands and walks toward the fight. Damn I missed my opportunity, moving with too much haste one of the other guards stationed around the room hears me move and alerts the others that someone invisible is in the room. Several move to protect the prince and block the doorway. Well six to one are not that bad of odds. The prince chants a prayer and I move next to him silently this time. One of his men turns and stabs at him. His full plate armor saves him though. Two of the other men move to kill the “Traitor” and the Prince tells the rest to go join the fight. As he turns his back to me and walks away I strike. I draw blood but not enough. He turns on me and slams his sword through my chain shirt and into my chest, Allah the hurt but worse I can feel the evil blade pull more blood from my body and drinking it. I attack with Scimitar and Kukri dealing several grievous blows but he does not drop his sword or fall. I glare at him and he appears troubled by the look in my eye, perhaps he sees his death there. I step and place a pillar at my back, I can see my friends out numbered in their fight as well. Only the do I notice another guard coming up from behind me. He is inept, but the Prince is not, I parry the Prince’s first swing but the second lands solidly and the room fades to black as I collapse to the ground… Allah I have failed my freinds

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Always Trust Ones Instincts

Friederich and I decide to scout out the city to get familiar with its streets. Viktoria gathers information among the locals with Dominic following. Nizar returns to the inn to rest.

Como reminds me of Venice with its proximity to the water. A lake however, is not the same as a canal. I wonder if ever I will return. I have no more ties there but feel it will forever remain dear.

Friederich? He slips down an alley so I catch up. I stop at the entrance and listen. He’s talking to someone; appears to be a street urchin.

I hope he knows what he’s doing tossing him a silver coin for information. Wow, how did he know we spoke with Lord Adolometto? Maybe I am underestimating him …

Feeling frustrated that Friederich is being cheated, “Tell him something worth the coin!” I shout down the alley. I head around the block to the opposite end of the alley in case this guy tries something. He doesn’t appear to notice me … time will tell.

A guide now!? ::deeply sigh:: I hope Viktoria is more successful than us … Oo, interesting; he has chain armor under his rags. He is definitely hiding something …

After the two depart, I dash down the alley to catch up to Friederich. “We need to be cautious. I spotted chain armor under his clothing as he left. He may be more than he seems” I suggest to Friederich. Given the time of day, we decide to head back to the inn but not before stopping to purchase a riding horse for this now “guide.” Turns out we are meeting him outside the city tomorrow an hour after sunrise.

I hope my instincts on this situation are wrong; I’m curious to hear what the rest of the party have to say …

Friederich leaves the new horse with the others in the stable before heading up to the room; he shares what we have done with the group.

Call him ‘That Guy?’ Hmm, lets add that to my list of reasons why I am cautious.

The party seems apprehensive but okay with the possibility of locating the Lords’ children. As a result, we decide it best to camp outside the city. Turns out that Viktoria didn’t get much information while she was out. Nizar looks rested though.

So much for an additional night in a bed … hopefully the rest of us feel as rested as he does tomorrow morning.

The night passed without an incident; now we wait on ‘That Guy’s’ arrival. Ah, here he comes now. Dominic asks, “Why does he keep staring at me!?” I remark under my breath, “Please don’t tell me we need to go and get the pitch!”

Should we be worried; Dominic is becoming increasingly antsy …

As he approaches our group, ‘That Guy’ asks, “so, are we ready to head out?” Nizar asks where we are headed and as ‘That Guy’ explains Friederich brings around the additional riding horse. Dominic chimes in, with exasperation, “why does he keep staring at me!?”

Could Dominic’s instincts be telling him something that the rest of us are missing? This is making me feel uncomfortable …

Lila doesn’t talk; rather she is concentrating on what ‘That Guy’ is saying. “When are your men going to attack us?” I suddenly hear Nizar ask. ‘That Guy’ doesn’t directly answer, he is circling. I really, really don’t like this. Before leaving, Lila quietly mentions to me that ‘That Guy’ is not alone.

Figures. So Dominic and Nizar’s instincts are right, as are mine. I will definitely be keeping an eye on him …

‘That Guy’ and Lila chat it up as we head to the ruined fortress. “…You seem to know a lot about that family…” Lila comments. “Well, there is wealth in knowledge …” ‘That Guy’ replies. The conversation fades as I focus on my thoughts. A heavy feeling of being outmatched comes over me …

That’s odd. Maybe having this time prior to any kind of battle warrants such thoughts to creep in … I don’t like that feeling.

I shake it off, refocus, and think about something else. As we pull off for something to eat, Lila begins playing her harp. A few moments later as the rest of us get settled, ‘That Guy’ says, as he dismounts his horse, “well isn’t that unfortunate. Your friend here just tried to enter my mind.” Before we can respond, as he stands on the ground, he disappears! ::gasps::

Nizar investigates the snow where ‘That Guy’ stood, and spots two different sets of footprints. Possibly verifying Viktoria’s prediction that he was not alone? Seems the second set is significantly smaller than the other set. With Friederich assisting, Nizar is able to follow the direction of the footprints. We quickly pack up to go with them.

Several minutes of chasing these footprints and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a short sword attacks Friederich!

I guess we have caught up with them! But wait; how am I to fight someone that I cannot see? This is going to be interesting …

We cannot locate them visually, but thankfully there still is snow on the ground allowing us to attack the empty space above their footprints. Instead of swinging blindly, Nizar prays. Miraculously the two figures are visible!

Wow! How did that happen?! It doesn’t matter now, now I can swing at something!

There is in fact a second person with ‘That Guy.’ It is a woman cloaked in black and adorned with the same white circle and blood-red plus sign in the center. She backs away from Friederich and appears to say something; I cannot hear it from where I am. The ground abruptly opens up to a vicious mouth with teeth! It tries to eat my horse, my party members, and me resulting in our fall toward the depths of purgatory! Immense fear begins to blanket me but somehow I refocus and look back down at the ground to realize that such horrific visions are not real.

Maybe that woman did that when she spoke. Sadly, it appears Nizar and Friederich have not shaken off the visions as I have.

Dominic asks aloud, “What is happening to them?” I share with him the terrifying image that I was able to shake off and suggest that maybe the woman is generating them. I dismount my terrified horse and engage ‘That Guy’ as I hear Lila call out a command, “Attack your comrade.”

I’m assuming this command is for one of the two adversaries …

As Dominic engages ‘That Guy,’ he responds with an attack. Wow, his sword shimmers and sparkles like Dominic’s does!

::crinkles eyebrows as if contemplating:: What does that mean? Is he of similar “being” or faith as Dominic? Okay, he’s not attacking his comrade so maybe the woman will attack ‘That Guy.’
__
She says something but I am too far away again to make out what it is let alone in what language. ::gasps:: ‘That Guy’ suddenly claws at his face and is wincing … Alright, that appears to be an attack.

I tumble behind ‘That Guy’ and attack; dead. Uh oh, I should’ve asked if we were holding him for questions first. I’ll remember next time.

I recite a silent prayer for him. Nizar and Friederich come to and they retrieve the horses. They loot ‘That Guy’ while Lila questions the woman. “About 25 to 30 men plus Prince Guelph…” the woman answers at some point. I was fading in and out, not really listening. The rest of us occasionally chime in with a question or suggestion but none seem to help things progress.

How long have we been talking? Should we move out of here? I suggested that but we didn’t take any actions.

I am pacing around, bored so I sit down and clean my daggers. Several minutes pass, questions fade off, as do suggestions from other party members. Viktoria suggests we move and make camp … I chime in with, “oh! So we don’t move until she says too! Did I not just recommend that we move on?!” She harps back, “No one is stopping you, if you want to move on then move.” “I am now!” I shout back at her as I stand and sheath my daggers. I stomp off towards my horse and fidget there. The others seem to be making arrangements to move on. ::sighs::

After an hour or so, Nizar sends Layil up to skrye on the fortress way ahead. In the meantime, Friederich searches for a suitable location for our camp. We are roused awake during Friederich and Viktoria’s guard shift. He believes he hears footfalls. We wait it out then suddenly Nizar hears an animal cry out then uninterrupted silence. Next morning we surmise that it was a hunter due to no other interruptions that night.

Around noon, Nizar recommends sending the woman back to the fortress to gather as many men with her before encountering Prince Guelph. The hope is she can convince about 10 men to follow her back out to hunt us down and we will ambush them.

My kind of fighting ::smiles::

Several minutes pass before Layil spots the woman leaving the fortress with, a disappointing, four men. ::deep sigh:: We wait a while, hidden, before we can make them out: two in front have heavy shields and long swords. They are all wearing full plate! The last two are wielding short swords. As they approach, I hold. I want to surprise them from behind.

I know Nizar is fighting an urge to confront them, I am curious about Dominic. Friederich seems calm and patient like myself.

::gasps:: Nizar emerges from his cover, charging one as they pass! The two from the back now charge forward so I emerge as well to flank with Nizar. Dominic emerges from up ahead, on Ghost, and engages one who is full of Friederich’s arrows. Nizar has the first kill.

We loot the bodies and clean up the battle as best we can. We find four crossbows … interesting; aren’t they illegal? Our next course of action is to wait until dark and hopefully make it through the front gate/doors. We intend to fight some of the men asleep in their barracks ….

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All The World's A Stage, and We Are Mearly Players
I have a new hate for bears. Not as much as insane plague victims and nowhere near as much as risen enemies but I do have a distaste for them. After we make to the injured man and he called off his bear, we determine that he was part of the Snow-Valley-Men mercenaries and goes by the name of Herzog. He tells us that Urs Zaugg was the one who killed the men on the road. This is why I hate risen enemies, not only do you have to kill them a second time, they are even worse the second time around, at least bears stay dead and their pelts are useful. Our new friend also has a vendetta against Urs Zaugg now and wants to kill him so we allow him to join us in our hunt. It would appear our hunt has turned into a waiting game as neither I or Herzog can follow the tracks left by the Urs Zaugg during skirmish on the road. For several nights we waited until Urs Zaugg attacks us in the night. He quickly dispatches one of our Snow-Valley-Men companions and moves in on the camp. Fortunately, the tents and equipment prevent him from charging in the middle of us and we manage to surround and attack him. Whenever he would focus on one of us, he would back off and another would take his place as the focus of Urs Zaugg’s attacks. After a minute of fierce fighting we manage to take him down. We quickly burn his heathen body until nothing remained but ash. I would like to see him come back from that. After we take care of the body, Herzog says that he wants to take our Snow-Valley-Men, use their help to round up the remaining Snow-Valley-Men refugees, and lead them back to Verona in order to join the rest of the army. Victoria agrees to his plan. She is putting a lot of faith into someone we have just met. We part ways as we make headway towards Como. Along the way we again encounter a Sforza patrol headed the opposite direction, this time they couldn’t have missed us. We move off of the road as they approach and we can see another of those darkly cloaked men with them. As him and the captain approach, even though I can’t see his face through the cloak, I can almost feel his eyes piercing my soul. Who are these guys, are they more sorcerers, are they as powerful as lady Cavil was? Even though the dark scary guy was present, the encounter went mostly uneventfully, with the exception of being extorted for some silver. We make it to Como to find the town almost deserted. Word from the inn owner reveals that after Lila’s family was ousted, the following rulers were incompetent, and couldn’t hold everything together. Additionally the lords of the city have been hold up in their estates almost for almost as long as the coup. In order to get close to them we hatch a plan, we will pose as a group of actors and musicians and perform for one of them in order to get close enough for Lila to ask questions. This act includes Nizar and Dominique having a mock battle with Dominique slaying the infidel. I am half surprised Nizar isn’t insulted at this idea, but he seems to be all for it. We manage to get into the Adolometto estate and conduct our performance. For a bunch of amateurs, except for Lila, we did very well everything went without a hitch, Ettore even did some tricks we didn’t even practice. However, very few people were even paying attention to us, its as if everyone is too distracted by something else to even take notice of our performance. At the end, Lila finished with a beautiful song from her harp and actually managed to get the attention of a handful of patrons including the head of the family. After the song he came up to us, presumably to thank us but he forgot what he was going to say, and I thought aunt Elsa had a bad memory. Lila begins questioning him, testing to see where his loyalties lie, after a few questions he catches on and grabs her by the face, inspecting her. I can hear Dominique and Nizar shifting their weight in their seats, readying to pull their weapons if anything goes wrong. After a brief look over, he lets Lila go and tells her that she must leave and never return, and explains that the reason why he didn’t support her family is because his children are being held hostage and not even he knows where they are. Lila then puts her hand on his head, they are motionless for a few minutes until she lets go and he acts as if the conversation never happened. Well that is a neat trick. We then leave the Adolometto house with a new mission, a rescue mission, now if only we new where to start.
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A Mans manual of exceptional tacticcs and fortifcation
In every run of the mill combat situation it is always in your best intrest to subject yourself to absurd danger. Further providing the immediate surprise of such opponents even if say such opponents are of a none breathing, flesh devouring, devil spawn of a Milan brigade. Remember, having higher ground you will automatically have the advantage even if it is only currently at horse back. Their bites and attempts will be thwarted off by 1/8 of an inch banded italian steel and an uncanny amount of faux pas of combat. Splat , splat, splish your sword from god will sing the gospel as it fillets the flesh of the blueflamed hearted abominations. Oh my, Nizzars cut off a nipple. There are moments in combat where things may sway to the other side, example: one may be apprehended by ones opponent, dragged off thy horse and left on ones hineside. Not to fret, this is when the champions tanner juggernaut will come to ones aid, followed by an arsenal of blonde hair men armed with bows, one in which who is actually proficient, and a 13 year old boy who can separate meat faster then a butcher. A warrior can get knocked down, its not getting up that is failure, especially when u have bodies to gather and burn with pitch. Always check perimeter of combat to ensure that it has returned to a safe and sustainable situation,an unwarranted ambushed is an amateur mistake. Burning a body with pitch is effective, but a slow and fetid method……… -- Now its back to the Army we deserted. If you dont like waiting for a meeting with officials, may i suggest taking there mercenaries from there encampment to warrant there attention next time. As far as my negotiations are concerned, i have a very convincing 12 year old girl that does most the talking, while i try my best to keep up with the conversation, but dont worry, she dresses as a male to to ensure the most respect from leading officials. Amidst heated conversations, lots of things may get said like: i should hang u for what you did…or: I m going to kill the snow valley men and the Arab… but this is just the lead pigeon minded generals way of puffing his chest or displaying his peacock feathers. Like in most catastrophic situations i’ve found that it is also where having the 12 year old girl, dressed as a boy usually ends up swaying the situation . One second the general could be calling us an idiot. 12 year old asks him with a little more sugar….next thing you know he s asking when do u want me in verona ? i dont know.. -——- attachment is difficult in times of war. You always look out for your friends and have there back as they have yours… but sometimes a comrade gets left behind. In the case of the young boy we found with the tattoo, well lets just end with behind…. -———-on to greater conquest and a little further from the army that probably killed Victoria’s family. We travel North to our avail and traveling in packs of giraffe size men has a safe convoy. Further upon our journey we approach a fallen battalion of men in fractions of limbs littered across the path. A suspicious trail of blood leads into the woods and a curiosity of what possibly demolish a torso and twirl a large man could look like infests. Let the scout lead… we congo line into the forest and to a delight we come across a mighty bear that greets us on our investigation. If a staring contest he wants.. then a staring contest he will get. Which then the scout learned, height is everything when it comes to staring contests. Im starting to be convinced that the young boy with the blades was born without the ability to make sound in movement. He also is the reigning champ on hide and go seek. When finding an unconscious man with a bear impeding you from helping him, Bear annoyance is the only way to handle such situation. u must immediately get the bears attention, and provoke it with movement or combat, or until u get owner of thy bear to call off. You may have been in combat at one point with such patient. In times of War things are fast pace and the people you were killing last week may be the people that are fighting for you this week and so on and so on…. as war is not for the purpose of logic, and strictly for the purpose of force…..
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