Borders Drawn in Blood

Life in Verona

Ahh back to our home in Verona. Carine is doing well and has another girl helping her now. Gino and Nico have replenished the house guard and seem to be enjoying Carine’s cooking quite a bit since we have been gone. They are good, brave men and they deserve a bit of a break after what they endured while traveling with us.

Fredrich spoke to Otto, not the dead one, about keeping their hands off Carine and the other girl. He made it clear that kind of behavior would not be tolerated in the city and definitely not in this house. I know the Snow Valley men are not comfortable in the city but we will not be here long.

Cangrande wants us to return to General Ghibeline and convince him to bring his army to Verona. Once we do that we are to continue into Lombard and get as many of my father’s banner-men as we can to also bring their armies to Verona. I am not quite sure how I am going to do any of this. Even after talking with Rosa I still feel ill prepared for what lays ahead. I will be going home and it terrifies me. I will have to face these Lords and convince them, not only not to kill me, but to help me. Hopefully once we get to Como I’ll be able to get some sense of who my allies and enemies might be and how to approach them.

Dominic and I go shopping for new clothes and apparently more pitch. His visions of burning cities is disturbing. I wish he knew more of what they meant. I found some lovely items for Ettore. He will look very handsome when he goes to see his lady friend. I also found some well suited clothes for Fredrich and Dominic. It was a little harder for Nizar but I think I found something he will find acceptable. I had a tailor make a new dress for me. I may actually have to look the part of a lady again and I need to be prepared.

Ettore, Fredrich, Nizar and the Snow Valley men all visit a brothel that evening while Dominic and I relax at the house. My dress will be ready tomorrow so we only have one more day to enjoy the comforts of a roof over our heads.

It feels so good to sleep in a real bed. I wish we were staying longer but there is much to be done still and such a long road ahead. If it were not for my friends I don’t think I would have the strength to continue. So much has happened and I have seen so much death in the last year that it is hard to remember that this was not always my life. I know that I will get my lands and title back or I will die trying. My friends have sealed their fates by sticking with me when most others would have run. I know there is nothing I can give them that will make up for all they have been through but, should we be victorious, I will give them anything I can.

It seems that Ettore has brought his ehem “Lady” friend home to stay with us. I don’t know all the details, nor do I want to, but if it makes him happy, then so be it.

The boys are heading out for one more night on the town before we head out tomorrow.

On our first night out of town we see a group of soldiers. But they don’t seem quite right. After closer inspection it seems as though they are all plague victims. But these are more like the ones that attacked our house in Verona. They look like they should already be dead and not marching along and certainly not fighting. We figure they are heading towards Verona and decide we can’t let them get there. So we decide to attack them. This makes the Snow Valley men very uneasy and Otto, not the dead one, tells us they are soldiers from Milan. When we press him further he says the entire city is full of these plagued soldiers. We are all stunned at the thought of an entire cities’ military being made up of these abominations. I think I know why Dominic keeps insisting we need pitch.

We setup for the attack and as the soldiers sets upon us I do my best to prepare the group for battle and all the men arm themselves with bows so they can take out as many as possible without risking getting diseased. Dominic and Ghost head right into the middle of them. Dominic seems to be calling for powers from God and this causes many to flee. Ghost is also fighting bravely as the archers fill the should be corpses full of arrows.

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Of Crows and Witches

As I wake from being torn apart by the “crows”, I must have been unconscious for only a few seconds. The evil swarm is tearing apart some of Mesino’s men only a few feet from me. The blood of the dead rises into the air to form and red misty cloud surrounding the “Crows”. They are Crows in shape only, inky blots of darkness that grew boney claws and beaks. How is a man supposed to fight such a demon? Allah protect me!!! Wait, that’s it, I will call on Allah to rid us of this vile darkness. Allah has heard my prayer and the inky darkness swirls together growing smaller and smaller until only a man shape remains. It is the Cardinal!!!

I move closer and can see Ettore moving toward him on the other side. Dominic is down on one knee grabbing his head in pain. Several arrows strike the Cardinal as Friedrich attempt to bring him down. Some of the arrows just bounce off him and the blood seals most of his wounds as soon as they are made. I can hear Lila singing in the background and the Cardinal winces in pain from what every she has done. Suddenly cannot see, I feel what seem to be bats striking me in the darkness. I call on Allah to remove this darkness, but he does not grant my prayer this time. He must know I can handle this on my own. I take a step toward where the Cardinal was standing but my scimitar does not strike him. I back out of the darkness to see someone who looks like me standing next to Lila!! I shout that is not me and call Layil back to me in hopes that his presence will allow the others to know which one is the real me. Mesino grabs Lila and pulls her away from the other me. I can see Dominic and Ettore moving over the rock to get within striking distance of the imposter, shouting he does not have a scimitar. Friedrich steps back and fires several arrows at my double. The blood streams from the block of darkness and heals the wounds Friedrich inflicted. My likeness then moves up and grabs Friedrick by the throat. Friedrich lets out a piercing scream that goes on and on. My duplicate lets go of Friedrich’s throat and drops him to the ground where he lies writhing in pain. I step up and connect with my scimitar, but the blood heals the wound immediately. Ettore moves to flank my doppleganger and deals 4 grievous wounds to him, the blood cannot heal it all and by the final hit my double and the darkness vanish. We have WON!!!

But Friedrich is still screaming in agonizing pain. Lila and Dominic can not do anything for him and Lila asks me to make it stop. So I hit him twice to knock him unconscious. Mesino then grabs Lila by the arms and is yelling at her, they are talking so fast I cannot follow their Italian. I move close in case Lila needs help. But as usual she needs none as Mesino lets her go and storms off call for his men to fall back to the horses. We place Friedrich on Ghost and follow at a distance, I do not Like the looks some of the soldiers are giving us. when we reach the horses we hear mutters of witch and witchcraft. Mesino warns us about the men’s dislike of us and to be on guard against them. Great, now even our allies want us dead… There are only about 150 left after the casualties and desertions. But without Friedrich’s bow, I am not completely confident that Dominic, Ettore and I can keep Lila safe. I figure we would have to kill about a third to half of them before they broke and ran. So 20 to 25 apiece would be a little beyond our skills. A fourth fighter would swing the odds in our favor…

The mercenaries continue to grumble and on the second night just before dawn several attempt to sneak up on our separate camp. An alert Lila spots them and wakes the rest of us. She talks the men into leaving, saving us the trouble of killing the stupid Italians. The cold in this country must freeze there brains…
When the men leave, Ettore stealthily follows and comes back to report that they have set an ambush on the road back the main encampment. We go a different way and Lila informs Mesino of what happened. He suggests we become advanced scouts and travel faster to Verona. We agree and leave the slower column behind. That night we discover we left the cook pot behind. (good no more of Friedrich’s wretched stew…)
A few days later and we are almost back to full strength, when we see a group of men walking down the road toward us. We all see a different number and Layil come back to say there are just 8 large men in furs ahead. Great, Snow Valley men, well I have not killed anything but game in a few days. But they do not appear to want to fight, as we approach each other without weapons drawn. When we are close, one of them shouts in that horrible language that is even worse than Italian. After a few minutes Lila dismounts and walks over to them before we can stop her. How are we supposed to protect the girl if she keeps doing these stupid things? It’s not as bad as “We are going to take the Basilica” but still…
But apparently she has invited them along, great more “Allies” we will have to watch. Then she does something even dumber, SHE HEALS ONE OF THEM!!! The Leader, who I later find out is named “Otto, but not the dead one” kind of long but they are an even stranger people than Italians, he picks her up in a bear hug. I fear he has crushed her, but he sets her down smiling a gap toothed grin. At least Otto, but not the dead one is happy, Dominic and I share a glance, he is no more happy than I am about our new companions.
Several uneventful days later we reach Verona, we start to head for our house, but Lila insists we go directly to Congrande. The Castle is being repaired because the part that housed the dungeons collapsed. Luca’s body has not been found, but the guard believes it is lost in the moat. We are told Congrande is in his chambers, but we have to search all over the castle for him. We finally find him on the training grounds where he is conditioning Rosa’s son with a heavy log across his shoulders. Lila and Congrande have a lengthy conversation, and the only thing I notice is that Congrande thinks our new companions are crazy and will turn on Lila at some point. We also have to take them with us when we leave. wait Leave? Great another trip in winter, something about recruiting more noblemen to Victoria’s cause so we can take Milan back. He sends the kids to the library, and speaks to Dominic, Friedrich and I. He says Mesino is not to be trusted either and that he will try to kill me at the very least. The crosses on his armor each represent an Arab settlement he and his men wiped out. And for those atrocities he was banished from Jerusalem. Congrande does not think I can take him in a fair fight. Well if we do fight I do not plan to be “fair” about it and I am sure Allah will grant me victory. He still has plans for me, I am sure. Congrande then dismisses us.

We find Lila and Ettore freshly bathed and in the library…

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Useless in Battle

After hearing war horns and battle cries off in the distance South-Southwest, ally soldiers empty from the houses and form-up a position.

Friederich, Nizar, and I regroup at a 5’ tall rock; Lila and Dominic regroup to our Northeast.

We see approximately 100 Swiss/German soldiers appear over the ridge. What seems to be their leader moves out in front and shouts something in Swiss/German. The others shout in response, like a cheer.

Friederich attempts to hit this leader with a flaming arrow but was unsuccessful.

Sir Rudolpho Messini is continuing to command his men into position, “BRACE!” he yells. His soldiers are still positioning, some forming around us.

Another 100 Swiss/German soldiers appear over the ridge. An arrow narrowly misses Friederich, the second one hits, and the last one misses. Hard to determine where it came from except somewhere around the leader. The leader directs coarse shouting at Friederich then charges! Four men that were near him follow the charge.

Friederich fires arrows at the leader in response while our front line makes contact with the enemies.

There is lots of blood, shouting, weapons clanging….

All four of the leader’s men advance, one of them engages me! More enemies continue to advance; I wish that Nizar and I had more time to maneuver around the four men before the enemy soldiers advanced.

Nizar badly injures one of the four men that engaged him; however, I’m not as impressive. Yet. Lila and Dominic are now with Friederich at the 5’ tall rock behind Nizar and me.

Lila begins playing her harp again but the melody is unfamiliar; party members and I seem unaffected yet at the front line most of the enemy soldiers are quivering, including the leader and one of the four of his men!

The leader responds by killing an ally soldier some 5’ from me. Immediately he turns to attack me … I feel myself falling to the ground. Noise fades as I breathe out.

Suddenly I deeply breathe in and am awake. A body is on top of me! Dominic is in front of me to my left. Looks like one of the four men just died! ::gasps:: the leader is dead next to Dominic! Nizar is behind me to my left.

I hear the sounds of a very, very large murder of crows and an animal call rise above the noise of battle. Why; am I dreaming? That is odd. I’m.. so.. tired. I’m going to….

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Victoria's 300

They aren’t happy, not surprisingly. We captured our own spies, beat the crap out of them, I still have no idea what that bird did to that guy and now Victoria is yelling at them. I am surprised these guards haven’t attacked us yet. After 30 minutes to and hour of questioning from the two front guards and their superior, we are finally let into the camp. We report our findings to Inricho Ghibbleine and tell him about the encounter we had in the forest with the snow valley men on the way back. He seems eager for a fight and underestimates the snow valley men. We return to our part of the encampment, prepareing to leave and head back east when one of Rudolpho Messini’s men approaches us and informs us that Messini requests an audience with us. He seems smug about something as he makes small talk with us on our way to his side of camp. We enter Messini’s tent to find that he is beginning to be armored up. He begins to talk to us, asking why we are here, begins insulting Nizar and asks who the “most important” one of us is. He narrows his conversation down with just Victoria and he manages to squeeze her actual identity out of her. Then he proposes a deal, he will help her capture the hamlet occupied by the snow valley men and later on the capture of Milan and in exchange she will make him a lord. Apparently his pillaging parts of Austria, or the squeezing of information out of her, has convinced her to agree to the deal. Messini decides that they are not going to wait for the rest of the army, which will be much slower, but will leave tomorrow and take all of the glory. He tells Victoria that we need a standard to claim who had taken the town, so we fashion up a crude standard with Victoria’s family crest on it.
As we get up the next morning Messini has already gone, and as the rest of the army questions where he has gone, we quickly break camp. After several hours of riding, with our pitch in tow, we manage to catch up with him. After several days we come upon the hamlet, and hatch a plan. Tonight we will take our wagon full of pitch, ride into town, set it on fire, and crash it into the middle of town. In the confusion, the 300 armored nights will run in and begin killing all of them. There is just one problem, who is going to be the one who drives a cart laden with pitch, light it in transit and then jump off before the thing explodes? I volunteer.
As I jump from the cart, I tumble in the dirt and stop to see the cart crash into one of the houses, pitch and fire goes everywhere consuming two houses and both horses that were pulling the cart. At that moment the rest of the men charge in screaming at the top of their lungs. They enter the town, break down the doors of the houses, prepared to slaughter the surprised snow valley men, only to find nothing. As our group slows down in the the middle of the town, Nizar sends up his raven. It returns says something I don’t understand and Nizar begins yelling about the southeast. Just then loud war horns sound in that direction, and over a hill we see a glow of torches and people making there way up the other side toward us. We are in for one wild night.

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Fifty shades of Arabic

“Get their stuff…”
That’s how this barbarian of an imbecile enters our camp in the night..
Who knows how Many is with him to be this confident. Everyone is on high alert once waken.. Arrows are whizzing through the camp. Fredrick takes some critical hits from someone in the shadows far away .Damn, my plate male ….no time. These men are mismatched in armor… And frankly the one wearing the human bones really freaks me out. Poor LILO , always singing in danger. She’s so young, yet seen so much. Ettorie defends himself from the wild dog that charges him. I almost feel bad for our attackers… They have never met a man like nizzar. They will soon be dead …all of them. They all must die. No one must know we are out here. Nobody will notice…if there’s nobody to notice…
The morale of our offenders slightly changes once nizzar beheads one of them. They begin to retreat once the realization that they are out matched.. My stomach is terribly slashed..again. They retreat. Im sure they’ve never had 7 foot Arab chase them full speed. Apparently one enemy is so disorientated that he’s attacking his comrade. We defeat them. After slaughter comes the sunrise and we are off again.
Next night… I’m on my shift and I hear someone in the distance. No time to waste. This works for nizzar so why not. I charge my approacher and tell him to state his case. Apparently my sword offended him and it becomes a grappling match.. He tries to stick me with a blade. Bastard. POW. Right in the kisser I let him taste my gauntlet.
Meanwhile the other intruder runs off. And off goes nizzar after him. He’s gaining distance. There’s no way for nizzar to catch him. No one can know we are here. Moments later nizzars raven swoops down touches him and the man is down..he has turned all green and looks to be plaque by something. Mental note… Never touch or go near that bird again!..
We tie them up. Morning we will question them and I will pray for truth. once they are better we start to pry on there story. The one begins to speak but his words come after. I have done something strange again, miraculous . he’s not telling us. LILO jabs a dagger in his side, this is a first..shortly after we realize we have just detained scouts for the very army we are working with. Oops. He should of stated his case.. Apparently they were intimidated and never seen a large Arab before… Maybe if they had one they would be winning…oops. Damn truth prayer..

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Evil Bricks...Round 2

After a crazy battle with the darkness come to life, a very slippery rogue and a tree we are on our way back to the camp to make our report to Henrico Ghibbeline, the General of the idiots that let the Corvo’s take over Milan. On our way back we see several men hanging from a tree up ahead. It seems we didn’t wound that damn rogue enough to slow her down any. We cut the men down and find a note in tied to one of the hands. It says “If the dog goes where he doesn’t belong, I’ll bury the bitch myself. Your arts won’t save you sorceress, you are young and overmatched.” We bring the bodies back to the camp for disposal. When we arrive Ghibbleline is sleeping so we make our report to Lord Weheld. We let him know the details of our encounter and he says he is certain the General will want to hear it from us in the morning. We take the dead to the cleric’s tent and Dominic wants to stay for a while. I decide to stay with him and find an out of the way corner to sit and wait.

I can’t believe I am sitting in the middle of my enemy. Some of these very men may have been responsible for the deaths of my family. These rulers of the City of Usurpers could be my allies? Ha! I want to bury them all!! But, I must have patience. The Corvo’s are the real threat and if these pawns are going to get me a step closer to regaining my family name and lands then so be it. I know there is such a long road ahead of me and I thank God every day for my friends. If it was not for them I would not even be alive. I certainly would not have the glimmer of hope that one day my family will be back where it belongs.

Dominic wakes me up and says he is ready to go back to our campsite and when we come out of the tent it is almost daylight. We go back and rest for a little while but get summoned to the General’s tent before long. We make our report and suggestions. He asks what our report to Cangrande will be and I assure him it will be that his men are ready and capable.

As we are heading back to our campsite I decide that I want to buy a whip. I am not sure why but it just feels like something I should have. Nizar is always nagging me to use my daggers but that just seems to terribly messy. I ask my angry Arab friend where I should get a whip and he suggests where they discipline the men. eeewww We all head over and sure enough there is a whip for sale. The man wants 2 silver but that seems like an awful lot for a silly old whip. I tell him I don’t have it and offer him 1 silver. I still think it is too much but Nizar does not say anything and he’s tighter than Aunt Zelda’s chastity belt. I pay him and now have my very own whip.

Off to practice….

crack Ow! crack Ow! crack Ow! crack Ow! crack Ow! crack Ow!

whip crack Ow! whip whip crack Ow! crack Ow! whip whip whip Hey, I think I’m getting the hang of crack OW! Son of a..!

There seems to be a few spectators. Hmm I bet they are impressed at how well I handle my whip.

Day 2…..

I am getting a better and need some targets. I spend the morning gathering up some empty bottles and jugs and use them for practice. Buy the end of the day I can hit them after only 3 or 4 tries. Man I’m good!

Day 3….

Okay now I really need to challenge myself. It takes me a few hours but I manage to cobble together a passable practice dummy. I start aiming and crack Ow! Sometimes this is a bit harder than it looks. One of the soldiers comes over and offers to help me refine my technique. I bet he noticed my potential right away.

After a few hours with my tutor I am doing much better. I am able to crack the practice target more than me. I thank him and continue practicing what he taught me until the sun goes down. We are heading out to look for that sneaky rogue and her shadowy friend tomorrow and I can’t wait to use my new whip.

The General has been sending out bigger hunting parties who are all now coming back unharmed however there are so many they are scaring off the game before they can kill anything. The boys go talk to the General and tell him to send out a smaller party and that we will follow them and do our best to protect them. He agrees and sends out 4 men that look like they should be anywhere but here.

The bait works and our silent and very deadly opponent attacks and kills one man before we even know she is upon them. I sing a song to lighten their steps and my friends all take off in defense of the men that are left.

CRAP!!! She is right behind me and everyone is gulp far away. She cuts me and I step away and sing another tune in the hopes it will distract her. It fails but before she can hit me the others come to help and she attacks them instead. Ettore is doing what he does best. He is alone in the dark fighting with the darkness itself. He yells out but we have our hands full with the shadowy assassin. Both the rogue and the shadowy companion disappear for the moment. Dominic and Nizar implore Ettore to come back and join the group in the light. He finally complies but not before letting Dominic know there are more evil bricks over here.

We regroup with one hunter left. We decide to douse the torches and wait. She does not disappoint us. They both attack together with the dark assassin crouching right in front of me. I tumble back and again try to sing a song that will cause her more darkness than she can handle. Everyone sees her and all the boys get an attack with Ettore fighting off the deadly shadow creature. The hunter lights a torch as all this is happening and begins to run away. I yell out STOP!! then take my whip and catch him around the leg. He is NOT taking that torch anywhere.

Our assassin manages to escape again but we know this time she is badly hurt. As we are deciding how to best go after her we hear a scream from the other side of the bridge and off in the woods. We all head over and Dominic and I concentrate and then begin looking with the others. I get a sense of where she is and move very slowly and quietly in the direction. I almost walk right into her she is still so hard to see. The shadows are wrapping around her in an unnatural way making it appear as though she is more shadow than person. She does not seem to be able to see. smile
I motion for Ettore to sneak up on her and finish her off. I am afraid if I take another step she will hear me and vanish again. Ettore is so quiet it’s not until the assassin falls at my feet that I know it is done. “Whose outmatched now bitch!!”

We search her and bring her back to the camp. We let the General know that it should be safe to hunt in the woods now. He does not believe that one woman could be responsible for the death of so many of his men. We assure him that she was and that she is way more formidable than she appears. We let him know we will be leaving in the morning.

We decide to scout out Milan before heading back and making our report to Cangrande. We head down the road and a day or two outside of Milan we come across a small Hamlet that is filled with well very large, well armed men. Fredrich thinks they may be Swiss. We converse with them for a few minutes and decide that this is probably not the best place for us. We turn our horses around and get the hell out of there.

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Bad Light and Good Light

Friedrich and I had run down a teen boy, by the looks of him he was going to steal food or clothes. We brought him back to camp give him some food and start to question him, his name is Diego and he is a surf. Ettore whispers there is a feather tattoo on the back of his neck. I grab the boy and check. He says all the surfs have such a tattoo. Dominic looks at the young would be thief in his strange way and just collapses.
I draw my weapons and place the point of my scimitar to his chest and say don’t move. Ettore moves to flank him. Friedrich checks on Dominic and says he is still alive but won’t wake. I ask him what he did to Dominic, he replies he does not know but has a smug little smile on his face.
Lila starts to sing then staggers a little and asks the boy who is Legion? Diego relies he does not know any Legion? I instruct Ettore to get some rope and tie him up. Diego places his hands behind his back, but instead of letting himself be tied, he grabs Ettore’s wrist. Ettore screams and drops to the ground as his muscles start to spasm. I stab Diego, as he falls daylight bursts out of his body and illuminates a 30’ area. The horses start to pull at their tethers alarmed by the light, Lila rushes to Ettore and sings over his body. The wound is healed but it leaves a hand shaped birthmark on Ettore’s wrist. We have seen similar marks before.
Diego is still alive and his face looks so innocent, I cannot let him die, so I staunch his wound. Friedrich is moving the horses out of the bad light and they calm immediately. I move Dominic out of the bad light and he awakes. I go back for Ettore, but leaving the bad light does not stop his twitching. Lastly I bring Diego out to our make shift camp a crossed the road. Ettore’s spasms stop after about 5 minutes, and the light persists for several hours.
In the morning we decide we need answers so Lila agrees to sing over Diego. When he awakes he is frightened and does not know us, demanding to know who we are, why he is tied up and where he is? We tell him he is a couple of days outside Verona, he is tied up because he tried to steal from us. He says we can’t be near Verona as it is too cold. We ask him what time of year he thinks it is? September he replies. He has lost 5 months to what ever possessed his body as it is now February. Well the tattoo can not stay so over his objections I cut it off his neck and burn it. Lila sings his pain away. Now what we can’t just leave him.
So we take him with us as a servant, as he will be hung as an escaped surf if he returns home. He rides on the wagon with the pitch, I still don’t know why we need this stuff. sometime I think Dominic is completely crazy.

Another couple of days of travel and just before sundown we encounter a Ghiblinee patrol. Lila convinces them we are representatives of Con Grande. And asks to be pointed in the direction of the Camp. We are informed that the woods are haunted and we would not live to reach the camp on our own. So we ride with the patrol for the rest of the night, reaching the camp at dawn. We are shown to the Generals tent but he keeps us waiting for and hour and a half. Lila and he have a conversation about Con Grande his forces and what we are doing here. I just want to sleep… Eventually Lila is done talking and we move to the edge of camp to set up our tents. Lila let us know about the haunted forest and we agree to check it out tonight after we rest.
We awake just before dinner and eat our own rations as the provisions in the camp are scares. Dominic is the only one bringing his horse, Ghost is welcome as he is a weapon all on his own. The rest of us are on foot. With Friedrich leading the way we walk into the haunted forest! Lila and Dominic hold our torches as it is very dark under the tree canopy. After several uneventful hours of walking, a war dart sprouts from Friedrich neck. We are under attack and no one noticed anything!! Friedrich pulls the dart free, a bluish substance covers the dart tip. Friedrich says “damn poison” and falls to the ground unconscious. We draw weapons and move toward the tree cover at the side of the road. None of us leaves the torch light, not even Ettore, maybe he is learning. :-) That did not save him as a figure literally steps out of the darkness and attacks him. Lila is singing, Ettore is fighting back, while Dominic and I attempt to close the assailant (its a woman!). Dominic is near the tree when an arm reaches our and touches him and a numbing cold drains the strength out of his body. The woman steps into the shadows disappears before our eyes. I attack the tree, while Lila and Dominic attempt to set it on fire with their torches. The woman appears holding a knife to Friedrich’s throat. She says to stop or she will kill him. She asks why we are here? And says the Dog should stay out of this war as Milan belongs to her masters. She says we should leave as the army will breakup soon because she is preventing them from hunting. We ask who she is and she just tells us her masters rule Milan. (The Gheulph family rules in name, but ewe suspect the Corvo’s are pulling their strings.) She then looks at Lila and says don’t do that again. Do what? Lila was just singing like always??? Friedrich wakes up at this point and we look at each other with an unspoken agreement to rush her and free Friedrich, when Lila commands her to release Friedrich, and She does!!! We all attack after landing several blows each she steps into the darkness and is gone! A man shaped patch of Darkness leaves the tree and touches Lila, the cold drains the strength from her as well. We all attack but most of our hits pass right through its “body” without harming it, although a few do meet resistance. The Darkness flees into the ground to escape. Damn how do you kill a patch of darkness? Maybe with some good light?

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Ettore's new battle wound

Dominic, Nizar, and I visit the armory. This time it’s my armor that’s in need of repair! We also check if the pitch is ready. It will be a week to repair my chain shirt; however, the pitch is available. Dominic finds a suitable stable within the city and then we head home. Nizar and I feel exhausted. (Alyson’s memory is horrible, I apologize if Friederich and Viktoria were there too).

The next morning Dominic wakes me. It’s later than usual, I don’t hear Nizar praying and then it suddenly hits me like a wave. I feel hot, sweaty, cold, shaky … I feel dizzy after just sitting up. I need to lie back down. Come to find out I’m sick from the bites, as is Friederich and Nizar. We’ve been moved to one room. By the end of the day, I am left alone in the room; Friederich and Nizar are improving quicker than I. Appears we have rented a third room for the healthy and when I offer to pay for my room it is unaccepted. I feel weak, I’m not persisting … I need to sleep….

Viktoria goes downstairs when the Innkeeper tells us Rosa is here.

Dominic frequents my room to pray. I attempt to pray along with him. If I’m awake, he updates me on what the group has been doing. Nizar is well.

Viktoria found out where our previous guards are congregating, what they’ve been saying, and why.

Friederich is well.

Nizar and Viktoria try to find and hire a corpse collector to finish cleaning out our estate. They succeed.

He and Nizar are going to try and talk to our previous guards. Found one and set up a meeting.

At some point in the night yelling from an unfamiliar voice awakens me. Something about witchcraft and no other voices are heard. No response to the yelling but someone falls, someone who sounds like they’re wearing plate armor? I try to focus on listening but am still so tired.

The next morning I ask Dominic about the noise and voice and he tells me I must have been dreaming. The group checks out of the inn, I will at night. Once home I notice through exhaustion that the house does not smell as badly as it did.

It’s been about a week and all the praying Dominic has been doing seems to be working now that I’m home. Sleeps seems to be more restful. At times I feel weak but that is less frequent too. The group decides when I’m well to head for Milan. Gino and Nicco are staying back with Carine to try and recruit more guards.

Before heading out, we stop to get my now repaired armor. It feels a lot better to be back to my old self.

First night out, Nizar wakes me and asks me to spot something outside the firelight. I spot a human form; Layil says it’s a boy. “Come in to the firelight” Nizar says and immediately the form darts away further into the darkness. Nizar runs after it with a lit branch from the fire as I rouse Friederich to inform him of the situation. He mounts, grabs a lit branch, and follows Nizar.

I check camp and its surroundings; all is quiet. I can still make out their light sources. They appear to be heading back for camp. They have the young boy with them: 14-15 years old, starved-looking, dark hair, and dark eyes or so it seems among the firelight. Nizar offers him leftover dinner while Friederich tethers the horse.

Nizar asks the young boy a couple of questions and while he’s eating I notice a mark on the back of his neck. It looks like a dark feather tattoo. I wait for a moment to interrupt and request that Nizar and Friederich step over here for a second (out of earshot from the young boy). I tell them what I spotted.

Nizar goes to grapple the young boy by the back of the collar and nearly misses him. “What’s this!?” Nizar says forcefully. I go to rouse Viktoria to inform her of the situation and what I spotted. “I … I don’t know, my father made me get it” the young boy responds. Dominic rouses from the increased volume of noise.

I catch another response from the young boy. Something about his father telling him never to refer to or use the Corvo name. Nizar asks him about his father’s lands, where they are … the boy appears to be answering truthfully or appears to be cooperating … but there is something off about what the young boy is saying … Nizar commands the young boy lead us to his family’s land and readies to leave.

(I think for a minute; aka I roll an intelligence check. I think Alex and Jim rolled one also). That’s it! (aka I got a 20) I think that the Corvos should have been gone, killed, before this boy was born. I gather the group to share my thoughts. Viktoria, who rolled a Knowledge Nobility check, also shares that she does not know of (is not aware of) any Corvos having land in the area where the young boy is from (West of Genoa; Alyson forgets the actual name).

We all exchanged glances, or raised eyebrow type of looks … could this be the bastard son?

“Uh, I can’t go back. They’ll hang me if I’m caught” says the young boy. (We as characters know, JJ told us, that during this time serfs who leave without permission or escape and are ever found are hung). “We won’t let them,” responds Nizar.

Dominic focuses on him (detects evil) and the boy returns a look. Dominic falls to the ground! Friederich and Viktoria immediately drop to tend to him. “What happened to him?” the young boy asks tenderly with a glint of something else … I sense motive and he was quite ‘smug’ in his response (DMs words).

I move away slowly from Dominic off to the right, hands above my weapons, and eyes on the young boy, Nizar opposite me. I say aloud, “That wasn’t very sincere but rather smug.” Nizar stares at the young boy and says with great intimidation, “what did you do to him!?” From the look on Nizar’s face it didn’t work; I quickly glance back at the boy and he’s smirking. (Swallows hard)

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Thats gonna leave a stain..
“You know what…Carine does a fantastic job on these floors, that being said… this is the least admirable position I’ve been in yet”.. (as i now imitate the rug paralyzed at Nizar’s feet)" typically people would be panicked having festering fiends clawing and nibbling in a frenzy, yet at this point in my life, this isn’t even “weird” with the events that typically happen on a days glance."- “Wait…i can feel a toe! seems i will be more involved in tonight’s engagement after all”..as nizar protects my once upright body, i start to hear my cohorts join us for tonight’s slaughter, its far more comforting then the screams coming from Carine’s bedroom. As i begin to finally get up and rejoin the front line, in the black fog that separates us from the room, seems to have a commotion .. Nizar and fredric slash through our obstacles. i advance quickly to be limited in my line of site to only see figures gathering at the bedroom’s entrance. Nazar bolts passed me and when i arrive to the action i am stunned to see the dark skin man amongst our foe…(gulp) but it seems that he tonight is an ally, its almost joyous to watch him dance when its not with me or my friends. but this travesty of lost souls must all stop and in a mighty roar of faith and vigilance i command these heathens to answer to god and burn out there evil!!!!! HOLY SHIT THAT WORKED!! ( as they all drop to the floor and sizzle in divine justice) and now we are left with only one .. small… darkskin.. problem. It’s almost funny how in Arabic any discussion sounds like an argument… hopefully this is not an argument ( while nizar and our recent intruder have a very brief exchange of words) well seems all is well again…fredric rescues the damsel, nizar and his pal have tea and i check ghost and we all make plans to venture out in the morning to kill the darkskins man brother

(which they all share the same name which is a series of letters that are unfamiliar to my Italian tongue) to kill his brother which is now some sort of un-dead monster, and in doing so he will return to his dry land report Nizar being dead.It seems that these evil intruder have traveled from far and are part of the sisters of mercy.. Alright,, off to an inn cause this place is starting to get ripe.

In deciding rooms it was quite an easy decision after glancing at the moral standings of the crew… we should pair the Arabs together while i watch Lady Victoria safely in the other suite… just saying… And in the morning we ride to defeat evil.. It begins to get cold as we venture further down the path and the horses are at a panic. When we see a dark figure ahead, i ready myself and ghost and the party prepares for the worse as this is a very challenging situation, even with..whats his name.. Oh… there he goes off into the woods.. so much for charging.. oh…there goes Ettire …into the woods Look at the boy go ..quite some legs on him. As we stratigize to surround him i call ghost off as he is awfully uncomfortable and the melee begins. He slices and makes his way in circles around us..in an exchange of blows, i curse him like i did the other undead… yet this did seems to have very much offended him…. his eyes glowing like orbs of fire, chest glowing symbal of a feather… his mouth opens to display glowing coals…" what have you done to me??!… well aparently …not enough…. the battle continues and he cuts my hands and its barely enough to hold my sheild and sword.. He gouges into nazars leg leaving him in his tracks… the soldiers execute fantastic blows to this devil.. all together we narrow in on him but he is quick. i cant even touch him this dirty little whirlwind.. slash!…my sword hits the ground. And then it is done . a final blow he is givin and he is forever silent… the darkskin man can be on his way.. and we can go back to handle the bodies we left for Rose to handle…. needless to say when we return and we speak with her… she wasn’t expecting such a high body count.. it was one of the few times i think we surprised her…now we are left to clean up the mess.
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The Nightmare Begins

After the harrowing battle with the men chasing Nizar we patched everyone up as much as possible and rested up for the next days ride on our way back to Verona. The wagon of pitch was slowing us down but the next couple of days went without incident. Of course the respite was not too last.

We made camp a bit off the road and before it was my time for guarding I was awoken and told riders were coming. We had to wait only a few minutes before hearing the hoof-beats and moments later the tremble of the ground from a pack men and women on horses driving their mounts at an unforgivable rate. The horses were lathered and some looked near death as the mass of riders approached. Someone saw that they were the horde that was chasing Nizar and that the front rider was one of the dual-scimitar wielding nightmares. He has tons of small cuts that appeared to still be bleeding all over him. Nizar said the horses they are riding were built for long days of travel and that they were faster than our horses here. He said they had to pushing them at a run for close to 8 hours for them to look as they do.

When he told us this I got a knot in my stomach. They were running. These men who, like Nizar, did not seem to fear death and who are unbelievable in their speed and skill with those blades, those men, were running. It was fear that drove them. I knew it, because I am well acquainted with fear. I do not want to see what has driven these men to the point of driving their mounts to death just to get away.

Nizar’s raven flew back and the poor things was obviously scared out of it’s little mind. I thought I heard it say “RUN! NOW!” in Arabic. Ha, now whose out of their mind? But even the bird seems smart enough to be afraid. The others do not have quite the sense of fear or perhaps borderline panic that I and the bird have. They want to take the fancy glass tube and see if they can spot what is chasing them. I am staying with the wagon and Dominic. We head out while Nizar and Fredrich head to the hilltop and try to get a look at what is chasing them.

They catch up to us very shortly after they left and said that the horse was panicked and trying to buck the rider and then it finally collapsed and the rider appeared to kneel down and begin eating it. EATING IT!!! What in the world? A plague victim caused this much panic. No way. Those riders would not have run from one single plague victim. There must be more too it.

I do not want to know though, so on we ride. We ride through until dawn and then rest until after noon. We then get back on the rode and make it to Verona just as the dawn is breaking.

Home sweet home. Ahh to finally be back in our house and to sleep in my own bed. Carine makes a wonderful breakfast and we head to bed for a few hours of rest. When I get up Nizar says that Rosa stopped by like we asked and that he told her what happened on the road and about the next mission Cangrande is sending us on. He said Rosa thought is was a plague victim and said they would be sure and not let them in the city.

A plague victim?!! “Did you mention how an entire horde or what was left of them were running their horses to death to get away from this little plague victim? A man whose skill with those scimitars is frightening, THAT man was running in FEAR? Did you mention that to Rosa?” sigh He did not tell her about that. He mentioned him eating the horse but not THAT!! I do not think this is over.

We took care of some selling and repairing and such and got the new armor appraised. It must be good because Nizar seems happy about it and he is never happy about anything. We look into getting more pitch and it turns out that stuff is really expensive. Apparently we will be picking it up in the morning before heading out of town. The men took care of all that and we returned home. That evening we all went to sleep in our own beds. ahhh

What would a night be without a blood curdling scream to wake up to? But this seems different. This sounds like the men in the barracks and Carrine. They are terrified. Oh no HE must be here! The plague victim that no one seemed overly concerned about is now terrorizing all the servants and guards of our home. And none of the men are ready for a fight.

I ran to Dominic’s room to help him get his armor on as fast as possible. He tells me the plate will take to long and grabs his chain shirt instead. I only hope the others are preparing as well. I can’t imagine anyone slept through the screaming. I was adjusting Dominic’s armor ….

Blackness….

Why is it raining in my bed? No not rain what is it? The drops are black and not wet, but cold. I scramble back and pull the covers up tight to my chin and wait. What am I waiting for? The droplets are swirling now they are forming something…

It is a man, he is shadow and darkness, he terrifies me. I can’t move!! panic He is reaching for me. I want to yell but I have no voice I can not speak or move and sit paralyzed in my own bed. My skin is tearing along my veins and blood vessels….oh the agony…all over my body the blood is running now…why? Who is this man? NO! It can’t be…how has he done this to me…I am dying.

The image becomes clearer and it is a man in the red robes of a Cardinal in the Church of Christ. It IS HIM!! NOOOOO!! Help me. Dominic help…Nizar My blood is is leaving the tears in my skin and joining the swirling…

He is speaking but it sounds like the crackling and hissing of coals in a fire. “All that is done cannot be undone. What I have taken will remain mine until the end of days when brother will fight brother and the heavens are torn from the sky. It is I that will bear witness to the ascension of those wrongly cast down.”

No he is coming closer again. What is that about his neck? The cross it is wrong. It is upside down but what or who……cringe

He is fading he is leaving. Will I live? He is saying something as he fades…

“You will be the first martyr for your failed cause!”

Hardness….

Where am I? Why am I on the table? Where is everyone? The screams, oh no my friends. They are screaming. Is that man killing them all? I must get to them I need to help. I have let them down. He is going to take all my friends from me. “It is the Cardinal! It is the Cardinal, he did this.”

What in God’s name? There are plague victims everywhere and they are awful. They look like they should be dead already. I must help! Some of my friends are terrified and I don’t see Nizar or Dominic. Oh please be okay.

I say a prayer to my lord for courage and inspiration and I sing with all that I have in me.

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